DOCUMENT the Fresh – Interviews: Dafna Steinberg
Who or what first got you interested in photography?
When I was about 7, my mom gave me my very first camera. Then when I was 13, I learned how to work in a darkroom. Needless to say, I’ve been shooting for a very long time.
Early on what were some of the first things that you began to document?
When I was a kid, I used to set up all my stuffed animals in my room and do group portraits with them.
What is it about photography that you most enjoy?
Photography allows me to show others how I see the world. I tend to notice things that a lot of people tend to pass by. I like photographing things in fragments which is why so many of my photos are detail shots.
Talk about the first event and or concert that you shot. How’d it go?
The first event I ever shot, I was still in high school. I was living in Zaragoza, Spain and snuck a point and shoot camera into a Carlos Santana concert. Somehow, I managed to get myself into the front row and got some great shots. All without getting caught! For the entire read click
Depending on the concert, shooting at them and at live events can be a harrowing experience. Any tricks of the trade on getting the “right” shot?
I find that talking to people is the best way to get a good shot. For example, I’m big on style, so I might stop someone wearing something interesting and ask them about it. Then I’ll ask if I can photograph them. It puts them more at ease. When I would shoot concerts, if someone was in my way, I’ll be polite and apologetic, explaining that “I just need to get this shot”. 98% of the time, people are nice enough to let me get in front of them. And always, after I finish taking a picture, I always remember to say “Thank You.” In my experience, manners and tact are two of the most important things to remember.
Yo Yo, this well known party in London, was one of my favorite places to photograph. The people were always so interesting, fashionable and colorful. Also, in-store events were always some of my favorite events to shoot. The concept of an in-store is kind of intriguing to begin with…a retail environment that is suddenly turned into a party space.
When shooting a show are there specific angles or even signature shots that you like to get?
I like to get up close, though sometimes that’s hard to do. It’s why I preferred to shoot at smaller shows or at intimate events. I could move around. There are really only so many angles you can get from a press pit and you don’t have to fight off other photographers trying to get the same shots as you.
Shooting musicians and or groups at an event can be an experience (both good and bad). Any stories that you care to share?
Like I said before, my biggest thing is talking to people. And sometimes, I think photographers (and people in general) forget that musicians are regular people. Especially when dealing with bigger name musical artists. Personally, I try to talk to musicians like I would anyone else. Of course, there are some that don’t see themselves as normal people which can lead to awkward moments. But for the most part, I’ve had good experiences. There was this one Rakim in-store at Stussy. He was standing in the middle of the store and all these photographers were standing around, just staring at him. I walked up to him and asked him if I could take his picture. He said sure and posed for me and I got an awesome shot of him, up close and personal.
What kind of gear are you using these days?
When I was shooting events and concerts, I used a Canon Rebel XTI DSLR. Recently though, I’ve gone back to making more conceptual art and have started using film again. I shoot medium format too, so I’ve been using a Mamiya 645.
Film vs digital?
Digital is great for events, concerts and even street photography, but now, as I mentioned before, when making more conceptual work, I tend to work mostly in film.
Talk about your experience abroad (in London). Did that have an influence on your style? If so, in what ways?
I think every place I’ve lived has had an influence on my style. In London, I got a real taste for night life photography because I would take my camera out to shoot friends at clubs and parties we would go to. As I mentioned before, there was this party called Yo Yo. It was at this party that I started experimenting with shooting in with different flash settings and times, because, for the most part, I couldn’t see what I was shooting. It was also the first place I became recognized as “the chick with the camera.”
Why do you think photography has experienced such a resurgence?
Digital cameras. They make everything really easy, especially when you have programs like iPhoto or Lightroom. Also, phones having good cameras and apps like Instagram make photo taking an accessible action.
What do you have coming up and or what are you currently working on?
In addition to Document The Fresh, I have a show up now called Hope Chest, which features a number of women artists. I’m working on some new projects as well.
To view more of Dafna’s work click here.
For more info about the DOCUMENT the Fresh photo exhibition click here.
For more info about the DOCUMENT the Fresh panel discussion click here.
Posted on October 28, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged camera, celebrity photography, concert photography, dafna steinberg, dilla doughnuts, document the fresh, entertainment photography, event photography, j dilla, photography, rakim, ralphael saadiq, roxy cottontail, sneak shot, the roots. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.