New York based photographer, Richard Bram, discussed his work and new book “New York” in a recent interview. In a career spanning over three decades, Bram details how his career has changed over time. He started as a commercial photographer in addition to taking the odd job here and there to make ends meet. Eventually he wound up falling in love with street photography and the ability to capture the unposed, natural elements of everyday life. His journey ultimately led him to create “New York”, which is a product of two years of hard work of both shooting and decisive editing.
Bram mentions Faulkner early on in the video and his famous phrase, “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” As with writing, photographers are often faced with the challenging task of deciding which images make the final cut and which ones go on the chopping block. Bram says he and one of his publishers at Peanut Press, David Caroll, sat down and went through a collection of 80 photographs in a box. They painstakingly narrowed the images down and Bram laments how tough it was to let go of some of his favorite images.
In terms of his approach, Bram finds himself in search of gestures, a look, a lean, or some sense of motion and life in the images. His attunement to identifying gestures comes from his public relations photography background and strongly influences his approach to street photography. Interestingly, he credits the place he lives as having an impact on the type of images he takes. When he lived in London, his images had a very different feel and were often more romantic than his New York images. Lastly, when editing he uses his knowledge stemming from a history of western art in order to identify a great photograph. He even likens one of the images in the video to a Hieronymus Bosch painting depicting Jesus Christ amongst his tormentors.
Watching the video I gained a newfound appreciation for Bram’s work. His ability to articulate the different facets of his career to the approach in his work gave me a clear understanding of his vision as an artist. In studying his work, I could see his art influences and the gestures he speaks of. Each photo in his New York series has a sense of action; something’s always going on within the frame and the subjects avoid being static figures.
I also noted that his work doesn’t rely heavily on post-processing or visual effects, it’s very unaltered, almost like a photojournalist’s work. Also of note is that at no point during the video did he talk about equipment, only the images and the philosophy surrounding them. I’ll definitely be following his work going forward.
To see more of Richard Bram’s work, visit his website here.