Ohad Kab on Making Connections Through Street Portraits and Lomography Film5 Share Tweet
Last time we spoke to Ohad Kab was way back in 2020 when he tested out the Lomo'Instant Square Glass and some Potsdam Kino film. Flash forward to 2023, the commercial photographer is back to enthuse about his personal work – street portraits on film. With his camera always by his side and some Lomography Color Negative 400 and Lomography Color Negative 800 film, Ohad uses street photography as a way to make human connections with strangers out in the world.
Hi Ohad, it's been a minute since your last feature, welcome back! What have you been up to since then?
Hey, it's definitely been a while. Last time was literally a second before the corona virus broke out and my wife and I decided to return to Israel. We spent the lockdown at home and went back to work, then the procedures started to soften and the vaccines came out.
At the beginning of 2021 I flew out to photograph another season of the show "Survivor" in the Philippines. When I came back home my wife and I started working on our relocation back to the US, at the same time as I was filming the last season of X Factor.
Now we have been back here in New York for a year and a half and are acclimating to the American mentality and to work here. In addition we are expecting our first child this summer.
What did you decide to shoot with our color negative film stocks?
I decided to shoot what I usually shoot when I'm not working in commercial photography. I do a lot of personal projects and in all of them I mainly take portraits on the street.
I have always been enchanted by the ordinary person, who is any one of us. When I meet that person, I do not know where he or she comes from. And yet, I detect the spark, and carefully try to scrape off the layers and meet him or her in a more truthful way. These people spring naturally in front of my eyes and I see them as attractive characters coloring the streets. I have always felt that no matter how much I talk to people, or however much I try to connect with them, I can never be a natural part of the landscape they belong to, or comprehend them in the ultimate way I wish. I had always felt that capturing them in a portrait will be the nearest way for me to remember them and to connect to their lives.
Photography gives me a sense that I, or anyone else, might look at these people, and see them from another viewpoint. It can be a view of respect, or compassion, or even perhaps the next time one might come across one of these people, their gaze will be different. And that for me is worth it all.
What gear did you use when shooting with our film?
My go to camera is the Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. It is very suitable for my way of working which is less dynamic. I like to take some time before I take a picture to try to connect a little and talk with the subject I'm photographing. I really like its massiveness and of course the result which is very sharp and has a lot of details. I work mainly with 50 mm and 65 mm lenses.
Do you have a favorite shot from the bunch? Is there a story behind it?
My favorite picture is the portrait of the young man with the short afro. And the truth is that he also has an interesting story.
I went with my wife to a therapist who was recommended to us about an hour drive from home. The therapist is in Queens and I always leave the house with a camera in case I come across someone interesting or in a good frame. On the way back we got on the bus and I saw the guy sitting there. He looked very interesting. I told my wife to be ready that in case he gets off we will get off after him even if it's not our station. After a few minutes he got off and I got off right after him, I tried to call him but he was wearing headphones so I had to increase the pace until he noticed me. I politely asked him if he was willing for me to photograph him and he was very happy about the opportunity and happened to tell me that he wanted to be a model.
Can you walk us through your process of shooting a photo?
The main process in my photography is finding an interesting character to photograph. Some days I can walk around for hours without taking a single photo that satisfies me. So most of the time it takes me to find the right person, then I approach and ask for permission to take a picture. It's very rare that I shoot a frame without the subject being aware that I'm shooting it. After that I direct it a bit according to what is right for me and the frame or ask to go to another place where I think the light is better or the background is more suitable. I measure light with a light meter. After the photo I exchange details with the person photographed in case they want me to send them the photo after development. I develop the film in the laboratory and sometimes I also make a print in the darkroom. I really like the results.
Do you have any advice for the budding street photographer?
There are many types and trends in street photography. I think you should first understand what your style is. Is it to shoot from a distance, shoot up close and wait for an interesting situation or maybe stop people and stage them a bit? After you more or less know what you like to photograph, you can prepare accordingly and prepare the equipment. One of the most important tips is to go with a camera everywhere, even with a small one like a small point-and-shoot.
What have you most recently been drawing inspiration from for your photography?
I draw inspiration mainly from movies, photo books by classic photographers, as well as press and documentary photographers such as Robert Frank, Vivian Meyer, Joel Meyerowitz, etc. In addition, a lot from life itself and walking around in certain places in the city is inspirational. In New York you can walk around for hours and it's like walking in a movie.
I can say that the style I shoot helps me a lot in making small and quick connections with those who are photographed, which helps me reach intimacy even if it's not something big. The person photographed trusts me more and is engaged in the photography process.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you can share?
Beyond commercial work, I am working on a few different projects. One is a personal project documenting the acclimatization of refugees from Ukraine in the US. I am currently presenting an exhibition that I produced and curated for the Jewish Agency and it is on display from now until the end of the year in the various Jewish communities throughout NYC. I am also working on a long-term project together with the WHEELS OF NYC community about drivers and their vintage cars here in the city as well.
Anything else that you'd like to share?
I really enjoyed working with the Lomography color negative 400 and 800. I think it's an excellent film to photograph people with. They have warm tones that add a lot to the image. The grain is very beautiful and the dynamic range of the film also gives a lot of play even if you overexpose. In addition, the film has a lot of details.
Thank you very much for the opportunity and I hope we will meet here soon again. In addition, I would love to invite readers to join the analogue community I have on Instagram. Feel free to send works if you want to publish.
If you're interested in keeping up with Ohad and his work don't forget to check out his Instagram, Facebook, and website.
written by eloffreno on 2023-05-06 #people #street-photography #community #potraiture