Friday, March 18, 2011

Interview: Marlo Herring

Today's interview is with photographer and digital photography technician Marlo Herring...Tell me a little about how you got into photography and where you're currently at in all of it?

I got into photography when I was twelve years old. From that point until now I read everything I could get my hands on that was photography related. I’m truly addicted to the photographic process, and will sell the farm to ensure that I can continue it. I was introduced to a commercial photographer when I was in the 11th grade and did some training with him. In college, I was the photo editor of the newspaper during my freshman year. During my second year in college is when epiphany struck and I met another commercial photographer that changed my entire scope of photography, and I’ve never been the same since. I trained under him and a few others. And although I have an art degree, that’s really what took my abilities, or at least my confidence, to a higher level. I have a deep understanding of the photographic process in its commercial form and its fine art form. I have shot for commercial clients as well as exhibitions throughout the years. I started out as a film photographer and made the transition to digital. Now, I seem to be moving backwards, only shooting digital when it’s necessary to meet a photographic goal quickly. Call me crazy, but if it’s personal or fine art, I prefer the process of film photography and a traditional wet darkroom.

As far as style, I’m still in self-discovery.I’ve tried my best to figure out what my style is, and I’m struggling. I’ve had others tell me what they think it is, but I’m still not quite sure.
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I understand you work for Turner Broadcasting / CNN. What are your responsibilities there?

Yes, I’m a digital photography technician for Turner, which embodies many roles. Some of my responsibilities include on-site client servicing with finalized imagery. This includes the use of Capture One, Photoshop, Photomechanic and countless other post production software programs in the industry. Much of what I do is related to the digital photography workflow and trafficking. I deal with a minimum of 10,000 images being sent through our internal and external systems. Explaining all of this may sound a bit abstract but it’s difficult to describe in words without actually being on site. My job presents many challenges and offers me the ability to problem solve in a variety of creative approaches.

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Why is Photography important to you?

To me, every photograph is like a mini time machine. It whizzes you to that exact moment in time and ignites a cosmic connection that your senses have to some deeper emotional place. Whether this is voluntary or involuntary, it still happens. We are all connected to some deeper source, and photography is a vessel to that connection. I’ve dedicated my life to this level of communication and tapping into that source. I have moments in the photography process where I feel like God has uncloaked him/herself.
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How would you liken photography to poetry or music?

In poetry, you’re using language to cleverly decipher. In music, you’re using notes to strike a chord in the emotional fabric of us all. In photography, you’re using light to make one moment last for a lifetime. I would say that all of these forms of communication are languages of the Gods (referencing Greek mythology). -->
What motivates you to do what you do?
I’m motivated because I can’t, and will never master photography, or myself, and the drive that I have to try to master both keeps me interested. Also, the more that I learn about photography, the more I understand about the world. Honestly though, it seems like the more that I discover, the more questions I have. I will never win this thing, and that’s what I like the most. I’m up for the challenge.

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Does the price of a camera matter in ways that it affects the artistic quality of the picture?

Absolutely not. You can make art with a disposable camera. In fact you make better pictures when you release yourself from the pitfalls of economic marketing. A camera can’t give you imagination. A person with imagination will run circles around a person with a fancy and expensive camera. They are just owners. Tools are important and great, but shouldn’t be a hindrance. Once you have a camera, you can make a picture. But that’s not art. The art is taking your thoughts and imagination and translating that into an image that communicates your message. Once you’ve mastered the technical aspects of how your camera works, then you can remove yourself from that and start to use the camera as an extension of your eye and heart to make images that inspire.
Do you think that a person must possess talent to capture emotion and expression in an image?
Lets make a quick comparison, because I could write a book about this question as I have very strong feelings about this that goes into a metaphysical context; but I wont go there. I will say this however... Everybody who studies Martial Arts wont be Bruce Lee. It’s about your dedication, practice, imagination, technical understanding, creativity, and aptitude.

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Do you think that society would be different if photography was never invented?
Human beings are very adaptive. If photography didn't exist, it would be something else that fulfilled this need. Since I’m partial to photography, I would love to believe that the world would come to an end if there was no such thing as photography.

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How do feel digital memory and the “endless roll” phenomenon has changed the industry?
On one hand, it’s given the true artist an unlimited and incredible palette. On the other hand, it has given the tech junkie more things to get distracted by. Maybe it’s not a bad thing because the true artist will always rise to the top, and the person that really wants to be a photographer but is so consumed by megapixels will just stay distracted. Those distractions are actually good for the true artist, because they can just blow past those stuck in the pit.
Photographers also aren’t just still guys anymore, but they aren’t just video guys either. The platform now is multi-layered and complex. You have to be able to take a still image, however you create it, and then publish it however you choose. So for me, that means shoot film and/or digital, make a video of my process, put a website and blog together, get some followers, develop some discussions, write about my thoughts, learn and teach others, and also develop a financial source and income for all of these things combined.


For more on Marlo Herring, watch an interview video with him here.

PS- At the time of posting, Marlo's website was unfortunately taken down to be worked on and is currently not available. If you'd like to view it at another time, you can bookmark the site at: www.marloherringphoto.com

all photos © Marlo Herring

- Michael Reese