Photographer of the Month Interview: Aron Cooperman | Aperture Academy

Featured Photographer, February 2018:   Aron Cooperman

We are happy to have Aron Cooperman as our featured guest photographer this month. We appreciate that he gave us some of his time and generously shared his beautiful photography with us! Please visit his links to see more of his work, and to let him know you enjoyed this interview.

:: What started you in photography?

Photography was a passion in my life for a long time before I picked up a camera. I grew up in house where cameras where always around as my father was a cinematographer and my older brother was deeply into photojournalism during his time in the US Navy. Even at 10 or 11 years old, I remember developing my own black and white nature photos. Cameras and photography was always just around.

:: You started out largely doing nature photography…what drew you to that subject, and what has caused you to add music and other types of photography to the mix?

Once my folks moved from Los Angeles to the San Bernardino mountains, there was a lot of opportunities to just be kids and play outside, do things like climb trees, rocks, etc. This was the same time that I got my first SLR camera. So, my surroundings became my earliest subjects.

As for music…an old co-worker that was also local band promoter saw some travel and landscape photos I had on my computer. She asked me to come out to work a show. I think it was one of those cases where someone saw that I was into photography and assumed I can shoot anything. Similarly, as a landscape photographer, I've been asked many times by friends and accquiatneces to shoot a wedding ;)

In addition, I've always loved the expression and storytelling of various musical forms but I have zero abilities to sing or play any sort of instrument, shooting those early shows was a way to feel apart of that culture.

:: Which is more challenging….music photography or landscape photography and why?

Both have their challenges, you're either chasing the right light and location or the right moment or some guy running around the stage. Timing and planning also count for so much in both; understanding where and how the light hits a subject can make the difference between a good and a great shot.

With music (especially when it becomes a paid job), I have to have results from that show versus those times in landscape where you set everything up and the clouds just aren't there and you leave the session empty handed.

:: Social Media has become a huge factor in promoting ones work. For you, how do you work the social media angle in a way that you find it to be not only beneficial but somewhat enjoyable…or is it still enjoyable?

Social media is quickly becoming a crux of our world. So why not use it to our advantage. I really love that it has allowed me to expand my networks by meeting new photographers, creating new friendships and finding inspiration. But I also see how people become too dependent on it. The concept that followers/likes is a direct connection to quality of your work, when really all it is a mirror of how much time to spend commenting/liking other people's photos. Some of the most inspirational photographers I've seen barely post on social media, because they are too busy out creating.

:: With the quick advances of technology allowing cameras to do almost everything for someone, what does the future of photography hold in terms of the creative process? How much technology is too much in your opinion, and how do we as artists, keep standing out in this field?

Photography is definitely the more technically advanced then ever before. While that allows for almost anyone to “pick up a camera and make a photo,” its up to the individual to find his/her own artistic vision. As cameras get more advanced and more people gravitate to photography, I feel that as a photographer you need to be able to go back to the basics of strong composition, color theory and being able to put that together through post processing.

All the mega pixels, functions and technology can be great, but it doesn't give you better or more creative vision it only makes it slightly easier to achieve that vision, but you still need to have the vision first.

:: What's the scariest thing you've had happen to you in the field?

As silly as it sounds, getting lost and walking over a mile in the wrong direction by myself in the Humboldt forest. While it doesn't seem like a big deal there was a moment of realization that was “oh, I don't know where I entered” was and I start thinking of all these stories of folks that get lost in the forest or desert and their bodies are found maybe a couple hundred feet from an entrance or a road side.

Looking back at that day, I now try to use a GPS marker (even if its just a dropped pin in my iphone maps) before I head out solo in any location I'm not familiar with.

:: What's your favorite piece of non-photographic gear you take with you everywhere?

I don't know that I have one piece of non-photo gear….but probably making sure I'm well equipped with the proper jackets and clothing to keep me comfortable and warm. At any given day, the back seat of my car has enough jackets, hoodies, wind breakers, etc to look like a table at the REI garage sale.

:: What is one aspect of photography you think the photo community in general makes too big of a deal about?

Egos – too many battles over who shot this first or who shot this better. For a group of people that are drawn to the same passions, you'd think there would be more people sharing and building each other up versus attacking and fighting each other over silly things.

:: Without getting too political, how do you think the new phases of our government are going to have an affect on photography, specifically landscape and nature?

This is so tough to theorize on what might happen. I only hope that while there is a lot of fear and speculation right now; that those feelings inspire people to go out, visit and experience the amazing national parks and monuments they may or may not have heard off.

:: What was the most difficult thing you had to learn with photography, and what helped you the most to finally grasp it?

Two things; You don't get a great conditions every time you shoot and when to walk away from the shots that are just not that good.

With landscape photography you need so many elements to come together for those perfect moments we all seek out. But sometimes, those elements don't line up on the days you've gone out to shoot, especially when you are traveling and have only a small window at any given location. There have been plenty of times I've shot a location with dull skies, then get home and look at the files and spend hours trying to edit something, when I really should just move onto another image that has better potential.

I think by shooting more and having less time for editing has helped me realize that sometimes you have to go to a location dozens of times to get what your looking for. In addition, I've come to realize that I shouldn't spend excessive time trying to edit/force something that just wasn't there.

:: What has photograpy helped you to appreciate more than before you picked up a camera…what has it caused you to maybe appreciate less now than before you started taking photos?

I appreciate small details of nature more. Over the last year I've been more amazed and inspired by intimate and abstract photos of nature… things like patterns in wet sand, grass or leaves on a log, reflections in water. The noticeable turning point of me on these subjects was being in Iceland earlier this year and starting to see little things differently.

I'm not sure if there is anything I appreciate less… I certainly don't appreciate people who do destructive/careless things to get a “cool” photo, but that's more about the realization that everything we do in today's world is far reaching and no one landscape photo is worth damaging the environment you are shooting.

:: Is there any advice you'd pass on to young people learning the craft that you think could help them avoid some of the pitfalls you might have made growing in the medium?

Study the basics, learn composition, learn color theory, make thousands of bad photos and ask people for critical review… be open to people telling you your editing is awful or your composition has mistakes, don't put up a defensive wall, listen to what they are saying. If they are investing their time in helping you, it's because they see something in you they like as an artist and a person.

In order to make a great photo, accept you're going to make a lot of bad photos but learn as much as you can from them.

Aron Cooperman

"In order to make a great photo, accept you're going to make a lot of bad photos but learn as much as you can from them."

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