Community member Robn Kester had been practicing photography for more than three decades. When shooting or browsing photographs by his peers, he only looks for one thing: a story. Get to know our TEN AND ONE Awards Judge from USA in this brief interview.
Aside from photography, what are your other interests?
I love to watch TV, be it live, streaming, etc. I also exercise as often as I can, going for walks, bike rides and more.
What does photography mean to you?
To me, photography is an escape into a world I am in control of. When I hold the camera in my hand and look through its viewfinder, I see the world on my terms. I also love the history of using old cameras and the idea of preserving photography and film.
How did you get started in photography?
I had my first taste in high school. My Dad had a small darkroom upstairs by my bedroom, so I took some classes at the school and then learned to shoot and develop black and white film. That was when I was around 16-17. I am 48 now, a long time has past and yet here I am, shooting film again.
While taste is subjective – in your opinion, what makes a good photo?
A good photo can be bright in color, sharp in contrast or capture a moment. To me, any photo that tells me a story immediately is a good photo. And some of the wonderful works of art posted here with their layers of colors and exposures, those are good photos too. It just has to grab you, tell you a story in a moment and touch you in some way. You can follow the rules like Sunny 16 or Rule of Thirds, but ultimately what makes a good photo is a combination of timing, the film, lighting, subjects, people etc.
What is your fondest photographic memory?
I have two really. One was getting my first 35mm camera and learning to shoot and develop. The other one was when I got back into film and into Lomography a few years back. I remember being very humbled by my adventures back into film for the first time in ages, but once I started to understand it again I felt at home. I shot digital a lot between my first and more recent film adventures and never felt at home there like I do with film. So coming back to film and starting to remember how much I loved it was a big deal for me.
With so many cameras and other image-making devices available today, more and more people are getting into photography – it can be a little difficult to make one’s work stand out. What advice would you give someone who seriously wants to pursue and succeed in this craft?
This is a hard one. First, I'd say spend a lot of time browsing photos on Lomography for inspiration, making notes of films and cameras you like, styles you like, etc. Then go out and try these things.
I can go the easy route and just say to shoot how you feel like shooting and let life and your possible career flow from this. Or I can say to try everything, find what makes you happiest style-wise and go with it. But honestly I think the best way to stand out is a combo of the two. There are a a lot of great portrait photographers, people are outstanding at doing multi-exposures, long exposures, you name it. But to me standing out means just doing what makes you happy. Very few photographers make a living doing this. So why not enjoy the ride, learn as much as you can along the way, and when you get to the end -- You should be happy either way because you followed your heart.
If you really want to make a living doing this, you have to really dig deep to find what makes you unique among all of us photographers. I cant think of a better place to start then Lomography. We have the most diverse international community with styles all over the place. Anyone can find inspiration on how to guide their own life as a photographer from a few hours spent here in the Photos section.
Meet the rest of the TEN AND ONE Lomography Awards jury.