DPP Home Profiles Seth Resnick - Great Photographs Are Where You Find Them

Monday, June 11, 2007

Seth Resnick - Great Photographs Are Where You Find Them

Seth Resnick is the consummate professional. His polished and sophisticated images are mostly shot on location, where he works with portable lighting gear and digital cameras.

By the time college came around, Resnick was on a track to become a professional photographer. Enrolling in Syracuse University, he studied photojournalism and earned an internship at a local Syracuse newspaper. Upon graduation, he was offered a job at the paper where he interned.

“I was incredibly lucky,” says Resnick. “I never had to go through that period without a job that so many young photographers experience. I walked out of school and right into a career.”

It was a period of hardcore photojournalism for the young Resnick. He decided that he wanted to be a sports shooter, so along with a few friends, he planned ahead and rented a house in Lake Placid, New York, in advance of the 1980 Winter Olympics.

“That turned out to be a gold mine,” says Resnick. “I hooked up with Time and Sports Illustrated, and it was great. My pictures were running in these magazines and I became convinced that I wanted to be a magazine photographer because I thought it was easy. But it's not easy.”

His confidence boosted by his choice of photojournalism as a career, Resnick began to work on photo essay-type projects. One project on burn victims, in particular, brought him notoriety and awards, after which he returned to the paper in Syracuse. The first assignment he drew was to photograph a 25-pound cucumber grown by a local gardener. It was a slap back to the reality of photojournalism. With the assignment slip in his hand, Resnick walked into the photo editor's office and said he felt that it was time to move on. There was no resentment or ill will, it was just that Resnick saw there would be precious few moments of the photography and problem-solving that he loved and long periods of what he found to be dull and tedious work.

If there was a single, most important influence on Resnick's style of photography, it would be Jay Maisel. “I've always been astonished by Jay's work,” says Resnick. “He taught me lighting from a different perspective.”

Like many photographers, Resnick had learned to light entire scenes to technical perfection. He had mastered the art of balancing multiple light sources so that every highlight was on the edge of maximum white and every shadow had just the right amount of fill.

Recalls Resnick, “Jay pointed up one day, and said, ‘Look. There's only one light source up there. Why do you think you need to use so many down here?' After that, I learned to appreciate imperfect lighting. I learned not to always make everything perfectly color-balanced and I stopped trying to light everything.” This technique was antithetical to all Resnick's experience to that point.


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