Transcript for “Collaboration – with Ben Franke”

Episode: Collaboration – with Ben Franke

00:00.00
Craig
Hello I’m Craig Constantine welcome to the movers mindset podcast where I talk with movement enthusiasts to find out who they are what they do and why they do it. My guest today is Ben Franke welcome Ben how are you.

00:13.86
Ben
Um, good thanks for having me.

00:40.80
Craig
I’m chuckling because mostly I just want to press record and talk to people I love getting to do this It’s just downright fun. Um, but today I get to do something a little extra special I want to start and and you and I discussed this before and I want to start with a little plug. Please don’t skip forward. Um, in a couple weeks on the weekend that is may twenty seventh through the twenty Ninth Ben and I both will be at the move and Nyc event which is in Manhattan he’ll be there teaching photography of movement if I understand correctly and I’ll just be there as an imposter at a movement event. And the event is run by the movement creative and obviously I’m going to say for more information and tickets to the event. Please go to their website after listening to us their website is V Movement Creative Dot Com and at the top on the right you click on move and Nyc and if you missed it this year and you’re listening this a year later. It’s probably happening again. So cool. Please go there anyway. Welcome Ben I think the question that is top of mind whenever I get a chance to talk to photographers I’m always super interested in process. And I’m wondering since you’re going to be teaching photography at the event teaching people how to photograph or or maybe maybe I I think I know what you want to say is sharing what you know as opposed to teaching sharing what you know about photographing movement how much of what you feel that you do when you’re photographing. How much of it is you personally creating and how much of it is like co-creation with other people who might also be photographing or videoing the same event because I’m always curious like is the experience different for you when you’re like 1 guy with a camera. Versus like you and 2 friends and they have their eye for things and you of yours and then you kind of like it becomes like a little jam creative session in the photography part of it see what I’m what I’m getting out about process.

04:09.20
Ben
Yeah, yeah I mean I don’t have a ton of experience really shooting with you know, a lot of other like video or other photographers together. You know it’s for sure a collaborative process with the athlete or athletes that I’m working with where. You know it’s we’re running around kind of looking at different spots and um I’ll suggest the movement or you know sometimes it comes from the athlete. Um, but it’s for sure a collaborative process with the athlete and myself and that’s how I approach it. Um. And yet that’s that’s the way I usually like to work and for the workshop. It’s just fun to you know, try and share some of what I do and you know working with an athlete collaborating with people and just sharing some of the.

06:14.76
Craig
Um, so obviously it’s really hard to tell in a still so I’ve flipped through some of your work and it’s hard to tell when 1 looks at a still. Obviously if it’s a portrait. It’s pretty clear if they’re in the studio with it that it’s a collaborative cooperative thing.

06:01.20
Ben
Some of my experience.

06:48.16
Craig
Um, but do you ever do photography or video work where the subjects aren’t really collaborating. You know more like found footage kind of like you’re out in public I’m taking your picture whether you like it or not or do you prefer to work in a situation where you can kind of interact with them and then they do the thing and then you interact more than you do the thing again.

07:12.58
Ben
I’ve I’ve done that in the past like more street photography found stuff. Um, but I’ve evolved my my kind of practices evolved to the point where I think I like interacting with the people and having it be more of a collaborative. Experience where you know like I want them to come away with something they like you know, especially with the movement stuff I’m doing I’m capturing some you know potentially pretty challenging jumps and big things and it’s more of a. Collaboration and you know even if I stop someone on the street. Yeah, which I’ve done in the past to like take a portrait. Yeah I’m still interacting with them. Um, and I know different photographers have different. Yeah,, there’s a few different schools of thought on it. Um.

09:06.70
Craig
My.

09:01.16
Ben
But yeah I like to interaction and meeting people and actually working with them.

09:23.88
Craig
Um, what I’m Wondering. What’s the most surprising So I suspect that when you interact with you know, a parco athlete or a pogo athlete go watch the videos of the guys on pogo sticks. Um, but when you interact with those people. What’s most surprising thing. Because you get their perspective on the movement and I mean like their visual perspective I mean they’re they’re saying this is really challenging and maybe you’re thinking. It’s not or this is really easy and you’re thinking. It’s really challenging like is there anything. That’s really surprised you about. When you interact with them and you learn about their perspective of what they’re doing and because that’s going to be very different from your point of view behind the lens.

10:20.60
Ben
Um, yeah I mean I think it’s you know I think a lot of people who don’t really know much about it. They you know, look at someone and it’s like the the kind of Cliche is do a backflip right? And yeah, it’s.

10:58.32
Craig
Um.

10:54.50
Ben
Like I was I was shooting with pogo guy a couple days ago and that’s all people want to see right? and that’s not necessarily like he can do backflips all day. It’s like very easy for him to do um and so I try when i’m. Working with them I try and learn about you know whatever the whatever the movement practices like lately I’ve been doing this pogo stuff. Um, and so it’s you know, fun to like look at how they look at um, the environment. And then try and figure out how best to capture some some cool some imagery of their movement.

12:36.58
Craig
That’s a good point about learning about not the literal mechanics of the movie but learning about the movement art that they’re pursuing I I don’t even pretend that I’m a photographer I mean I’ve. Suppose I’ve won technically because I have a camera and I point at things but it’s no I’m not doing it on purpose like I’m trying to create something and I’m I’m just wondering about how much of what you do do you feel happens in the moment you know like in. I’m way out of my I’m way out of my depth here but like in shot composition and all all the all the stuff that you would do and then take press the shutter versus how much of it is well I’ll just take a wider shot because I know I can I’m assuming crop it later or Or. Can mess with the colors and oh well I showed a shot in black and white. But I’ll just shoot in color and make it black and white later like how much of your personal process is do you feel has to happen in the moment for it to be like creatively real ah versus how much of it. Do you feel that you can do later you know sitting by yourself remembering back to what you captured.

14:32.54
Ben
Um I think for me a lot of it is in the moment where like I look at something and I’m like okay this is how I want to shoot it. Um, you know some movements like sometimes when I’m shooting with people I’m not going to get more than 1 or 2 takes. Um, so I have to think about my composition I mean that’s like a conversation we have when I’m shooting with people is like how many times can you actually do this? Um, you know and I don’t want to I try not to push too much because you know I’m for me, it’s easy. Point the camera and take a picture you know I’m not the 1 jumping. You know a big seventeen foot gap I’m not the 1 doing back flips or whatever, whatever it is um, you know so my job is much easier. But yeah I like to try and um.

16:05.38
Craig
Right.

16:32.50
Craig
What.

16:27.56
Ben
You know it’s like in the moment think about how I want to compose the shot. Um, you know lately I’ve been doing some black and white work. So You know I have the camera set to black and white I mean it shoots in color. But then I’m gonna yeah. Make a black line post.

17:20.80
Craig
I know I’m always just fascinated by There’s so much in a photograph and it’s even you know it like it doesn’t move right? Craig it’s just a photograph but all the little nuance that that we as humans pick up on about. And even if it’s faked afterwards which parts of it are in focus which parts of it are blurred where are the shadows. Where’s the light. You know how are things centered. There’s all these little nuance and I’m I’m drawn to if you’re drawn to doing that creative work in the moment. And I guess maybe people would say you have an eye. That’s your your developed eye for that like how does somebody I don’t want to say like me because I want to be a photographer but how does somebody start like I got an iphone you know I an old iphone. How do I figure out what my jam is like do I just go out and. Ah, you know point and shoot 9000 photos and then sit from my computer and go that one was cool. Go do more like that or or is there a way that you can sort of suggest that people begin to think about themselves as a creative person with a camera as opposed to just like yeah I got a phone I know I can take photos.

19:23.54
Ben
Um, yeah I mean I think it’s just going out and doing it really It’s it’s kind of that simple. It’s you know I when I discovered it I you know it’s it’s not like I set out to shoot park core or you know when I first picked up picked up a camera. Um, but it just kind of evolved naturally and it was ah you know it’s an evolution. Ah yeah, moving moving through the years I’ve been a photographer. It’s definitely an evolution and I think. Advice I would just say go out and shoot you know whether it’s with your phone or get a get a camera and go try and see what see what you like to do see what you like to photograph.

21:13.32
Craig
Because it does seem I was going to say it’s a big world and what I What I mean is not the thing you point the camera at is a big world. Yes, but it seems to me like there’s a huge ah difference in the types of things. Once was on vacation I was shooting a whole bunch of photos and I was posting them and somebody finally wrote like dude where are the people like I hadn’t taken a shot of a person I’m like oh I guess I’m a landscape photographer I was taking all these you know, big wide shots and struggling with my little crappy iphone and like doing Panos and stuff. Um, and I think for me that stemmed from.

21:38.12
Ben
It’s a feeling. Yeah.

22:19.12
Craig
Wanting to try and capture the moments. You know this is this was my perspective at this moment there happened to be nobody here. Um, and other people then I see beautiful photography of like crowded scenes you know where there’s so much motion people are fuzzy and moving and interacting. But then there’s one one focus of the shot. And I’m looked at a lot of yourer I mean I don’t know if I’ve seen all of that. But I’ve looked at a bunch of your material and there’s often a single subject and not that they’re all the what the you know the classic body in space type shots but a lot of it. It’s a single. It seems to me the focus that you want the viewer to. To be or to C is 1 athlete and have you experimented with what happens if I try to get in the melee and have multiple athletes or more complex compositions around multiple athletes or multiple activities or athletes. Plus yeah, it’s a like. Sort of an empty boardwalk There’s a crowd type of thing like have you played with that level of complexity.

24:09.74
Ben
Yeah I mean I think I’ve definitely um, had some shots where it’s a little bit busier for sure. Um, like I can think of those just one shot that came to mind because I looked at it recently as I’ve done these photo walks. For Photoville with Likeca where we you know me and a few athletes kind of run around similar similar to what I’m going to be doing at move n yc but kind of ah run around with some athletes run dumbo and it’s the turnout has been wild and so it’s. Ah, my friend Ritchie doing a backflip like a layout backlip and just like 50 60 photographers kind of like crowded around on the right just shooting him up in the air. And I think a lot of it too is um, yes, there’s 1 subject but just for the fact that I’m shooting in you know, New York City it’s you’re bound to get people in the background. I don’t even you know when I’m shooting I don’t necessarily even notice that ah, but then you get these kind of happy accidents where you know sometimes the per people aren’t looking at all. You know there’s this crazy movement going on and someone’s like walking by on their phone.

27:25.42
Craig
They don’t notice.

27:13.30
Ben
And they don’t notice or they’re looking you know and so it’s just fun to you know capture those little details even though it might not be like front and center when you actually like look at the picture you know.

27:56.84
Craig
Yeah, that detail is striking I’m I’m imagining. There’s ah, a pogo photograph of I don’t know where it was shot but the person doing the pogo I think maybe they’re doing a front flip off of like a so low terist like into a grass or something.

27:50.70
Ben
That all that will show itself.

28:32.42
Craig
But because they pogo so high. They’re like this person way up in the air and there’s people sitting on the stairs and one of the persons I think it’s like a man and a woman and 1 of them is just like you know doing their own thing and the other one is is got like this what in the you know like looking up you know, above ° at this personal pogo stick.

28:26.24
Ben
Um.

29:11.34
Craig
And that was the image that made me think of that question is like how much of that. Um, which you’ve already answered but like how much of that is intentional and that seems like code that would be clearly to clearly use your words that would be a whole and nother dimension to the work or like how much do you want to mix in like some I. Some friends who do you know, found photography of architecture and you basic just walk through the city and you’re looking for interesting shots and the buildings don’t move. You know, but people make everything it’s going say people make everything complicated interesting people make everything interesting.

29:47.40
Ben
You know? Yeah, but I think that that shot you mentioned is kind of a perfect example where yeah I think there’s 4 people in the frame. Ah 1 person girl on the left is recording it with a phone. 1 girl is like giving me this stink eye. She’s like looking straight into the camera and then it’s yeah and then it’s the 2 people you described in like 1 of them isn’t even looking and it’s just like amazing thing happening you know, right? next to them and she’s just not looking at or he’s not looking.

30:43.76
Craig
I think that’s the 1 right. Yeah. Um, yeah, yeah, it’s it’s neat what you capture.

31:04.22
Ben
Ah, yeah, yeah I enjoy I Enjoy those little moments a lot.

31:34.40
Craig
What do you think? the athletes are thinking when you’re pointing the camera at them like do you really get? Do you get lost in the moment at the with the shutter. You know you’re just like totally in the zone or. You feel like you can actually see them as people and try to get some feel for what their experience is.

32:00.28
Ben
Um, yeah I mean I think so I don’t know if I’m necessarily capturing it in the picture but having been around so many different athletes I Think. What’s really fascinating to me is the process where you get a front row seat to the process of them like breaking a jump um and working through the challenges and I like I can’t get enough of that.

32:52.76
Craig
Oh.

33:13.16
Ben
That is I find that so amazing where someone just gets in his own and then they can do this thing.

33:45.84
Craig
Yeah, that’s yeah, the privilege of that’s like a privilege of access type of thing. That’s that’s a neat point that I hadn’t really considered. Ah.

33:46.98
Ben
Um, yeah, so like I mean for example, it’s it’s the clip is watching David Wolf um do these strides on a. Building I think this is just the example I’m thinking of but kind of watching him right before he did these strides was incredible where you see him getting into the zone and getting himself ready. And then he just goes.

35:19.22
Craig
Yeah, um, I’m going to imagine you and I have we haven’t never trained together. So I don’t know your personal movement style or like what level you you know you’re drawn to but I’m wondering see hang out with all these people who are really damn good and you get to see you know the processes that they use and what they can Manage. Ah. Do you ever have like imposter syndrome creep into your own movement where you go I’ve watched so people do all these cool strides and I’m not going anywhere near Strideville like how does how do you if it. Ah, if it all like or is it completely separate for you like when you’re looking through the camera. It’s a different world. It’s not the world that you move in or how do you deal with that. But I’m guessing as a large distance between the world class people and your own movement.

36:32.20
Ben
Yeah I mean it Definitely you know, gives me pause when I want to go you know think about doing something when yeah I mean some of the people I’ve shot with are like crazy crazy talented. Um, you know some of the best people in the world. Really. What they do um but I mean for me, it’s again, it’s a collaboration like they don’t need to be there. They’re there because they want to be um and you know I’m bringing something else to the table. Something Maybe they can’t necessarily do um and capture. You know they can’t necessarily capture themselves as well doing their thing. Um, so I think that’s the you know that’s the that’s the Collaboration. Um.

38:14.46
Craig
Right.

38:18.84
Ben
You know and I know better than to try what they’re doing. That’s you know it in that respect I’m a total novice total beginner but you know with the camera. Um.

38:43.42
Craig
Amen.

38:53.80
Ben
You know I can I can bring that to the table.

39:15.22
Craig
I’m going to say the same thing about microphones and podcasting. Um, you know I know enough to know that I suck and it’s not in boster syndrome. It’s verifiable but I just love the ability to to talk to people and find out about what they’re passionate about um. And for some people. It’s really hard when I point microphones at them they freak out and I understand why and that’s okay and I’m happy to help but I just like lose my you know become an irrational babbling fool because I love talking to people and you know getting not that access is hard to get but just you know like I got a chance to talk to Ben you know and like.

40:08.62
Ben
Um, yeah, so it’s similar I mean for me, it’s similar with the camera. Um, you know the the camera is more or less an excuse to go meet and hang out with these people and we’ll will you know create some cool photos.

40:22.79
Craig
Didn’t have a chance before. So I love it well Ben yeah.

40:42.98
Craig
I Know what you read right? yeah.

40:44.80
Ben
You know some good work and yet’s I mean that’s that’s a big part of it for sure.

41:10.86
Craig
Nice all right? Well i’mwatching our time slip by I will just say and of course the final question 3 words to describe your practice.

41:13.88
Ben
Um, I would say collaborative I mean we’ve we’ve kind of touched on that a little bit. Um, thoughtful. You know I’m I’m try and think of the athlete’s perspective and. Think about you know, a little bit on a deeper level as to why I’m doing what I’m doing and ah the kind of longer term repercussions of it and how I can evolve and then evolve. Um, evolving is I think the third word and how I can like evolve my practice to you know, be more thoughtful create. You know, new and better work and you know challenge myself and the athletes I’m working with.

43:14.10
Craig
Terrific as I say often because I mean it. Thank you so much Ben it was a delight to get a chance to talk to you.

43:11.44
Ben
Um, credit I Appreciate you taking the time. Thank you for having me.