For many people, a beautiful landscape shot is one that's taken on a bright and sunny day — clear skies, inviting scenery and vibrant colors. Photographer Dave Rothschild has other things in mind, devoted to showcasing the beauty of unconventional landscapes. He is a lover of scenes that you need to seek out and find — most of the time hidden beneath a veil of mist, mystery, and chaos. The world is his playground and exploring the unknown is as routine as a stroll in the woods.
Hi, Dave and welcome to the Magazine. What do you do and how did you get started on your photographic journey?
I got started shooting mostly conceptual work with a black Vivitar point-and-shoot back in the 90's. I used to take covers of TIME magazine and place them in natural settings like vines, leaves, and debris and photograph them in some way that created a “feeling” in relation to the cover. In the beginning, it was never really about “photography” per se but me trying to communicate something artistically.
How would you define photography? What's your favorite thing about it?
I think as soon as you try to “define” something you've lost it. My favorite thing about photography is the therapeutic nature of practicing “observation and seeing” with your body, mind, and heart.
Why shoot film in this day and age? What keeps you shooting analogue
Film feels and looks more real yet at the same time, paradoxically feels like a magic trick. Having said that, if film completely died, I'd still shoot digital.
Your landscape shots are moody and beautiful. Even subtly haunting at times. Was this a style you were going for?
I get that a lot, so thank you. Yet when you really think about it, life itself is “moody and beautiful.” Photography is my humble attempt to enhance that feeling and put a frame around the truly special nature of this miracle that is life. In a way, it's me saying “thank you” to life itself.
How do you pick your locations? What do you look for in a scene before setting up your camera?
It's a combination of following my intuition and letting what I see lead me from my natural sense of curiosity and wonder. Then it's about returning to some location and see how it's changed in some small or major way. I'm naturally drawn towards busier scenes that feel chaotic, conflicted or damaged in some way, yet at the same time have an immense harmony.
What would you like to communicate with your images?
Just an appreciation for what's possible when you push yourself to explore. I'd love it if a lot of my work would make the viewer stop in “awe” which is similar to that first feeling the photographer has while they're out shooting. However, I'd also like some of my work to make the viewer curious and maybe a little confused. I think my best work is the kind that raises more questions than anything.
What inspires you to create? What challenges you in your career?
I think most of my inspiration comes from how fragile and limited we all are. Any day that I have the opportunity to perceive the world is one in which I am lucky to have. The most challenging aspect of photography is wearing all the other hats that push you away from your “original passion” for photography. Things like the business, busy work, budgeting, organizing, etc. Another challenge is figuring out your comfort zones and pushing yourself to go past that.
If you could only shoot with just one camera and film for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
First of all, what a gift! If I have that chance I would consider myself blessed to be able to shoot at all. Well, considering in the big picture, I have used so few cameras and who knows if my answer would change a year from now but I'd say a Nikon F4 with Ektar 100. The F4 feels so good in my hands and can handle any weather. And I just love the versatility and color you can get with Ektar, especially when pushing it.
What's next for you? Any new projects in the works?
Well, I'm just finishing up a book project called Paths that I have self-published and made with a friend’s help. I'd like to make a color book next. We shall see. It’s all very exciting and I hope I get that chance.
Lastly, what does a perfect day look for Dave Rothschild?
Haha, I'd say cold and wet and full of coffee and beer.