Hi Roi! Tell us about yourself in two sentences - who are you?
I'm a full-time commercial photographer who also shoots editorial and stock photography. When in between traveling and assignments, I am slowly documenting Belize life and culture in pictures.
QWhat's the weirdest situation you've found yourself in while taking a photograph?
A(Note: This is a long one, but well worth it! Ed.) I got a phone call from someone who said they found me online and they wanted me to take high quality photos of the inside of a building in San Francisco's Chinatown. They said that the reviews of me on the site and other references they had followed led them to believe I was a trustworthy person. They wanted my assurance that I would not be keeping copies of the photos and that all the files would be handed over after shooting. After a conversation, I agreed to bring my laptop along so that any processing or file adjustments could be done on site and left with the client. I've been approached by various non-government agencies in the past who were heavily in to confidentiality so thought nothing of it. And they were happy to pay my full going rate for the shoot. I arrived at the address and entered through the front door. There was no-one around so I called out but still no answer. As I sat, I realised that some sounds I thought were coming from next door were in fact above me in the same building. I walked up the stairs hoping to find someone only to find couple of rooms with barred metal doors with men huddled around tables playing cards. The odd thing was the doors were locked on the outside where I was standing. So now thinking I was at the wrong address I went back downstairs I crossed to ask across the road if I was at the address I thought I should be. As I walked into the building, I noticed 4 men in shades and smart black suits. As I was about to ask for information, three of them suddenly surrounded me. They took my camera bag from me and two of them frisked me. The 4th guy who by now had opened my bag said, "Oh, You are the photographer". I said yes, and he spoke in a Chinese language to the other guys and the stepped away from me. The 4th guy introduced himself to me by name and was now being extremely polite. They led me to a couple of very lavishly decorated rooms which I photographed and then I took window portraits of two Older guys dressed immaculately in suits. I did the processing and made some edits. Handed over the files and deleted everything from my computer. They paid me cash and also paid to replace my SD card which they asked to keep. When I got home I did some searches on the internet which eventually showed that the address I had been at was one of the addresses currently under surveillance by the San Francisco Police Department. It was noted as a probable address for Chinese Triad operations in San Francisco. When I told my wife what had transpired, she insisted that in future I do my research on addresses before I go to them and not after!
QWhat do you shoot on? What's your favourite set up?
AI shoot Nikons mainly and my two main tools are a D7100 and a D800. I have a nice array of both crop and full-frame lenses, and for work, the brief will dictate what lens I use. I do a lot of studio set-ups based around my Bowens 750 moonlights Outside of work when I shoot candids and scenery, I like to shoot with the D7100 with a Tamron 17-50. f/2:8 and I often have one or two speed lights with me just in case the available light isn't exactly what I want.
QWhat's your number one tip for an aspiring photographer?
AShoot as much as you can so that good composition and a good understanding of how light affects the shots you take becomes natural. It doesn't matter whether you shoot with a camera phone, point and shoot, or top end DSLR. And if you are shooting with a DSLR, get really comfortable with manual shooting.