Ten Questions

One in a series of profiles on our good customers here at Camera West who are passionate about photography.

Our friend Steven Foon is a regular fixture here at Camera West in Walnut Creek. Come in on any weekday morning and you’ll usually find him at our counter. When he’s not taking photos, Steven is a Western Region Manager for Hewlett Packard. He is passionate about photography in general, but especially street photography as you’ll read below.

1. What got you started shooting?

Being a little boy, I was fascinated with the ability to take a picture, print it (long before digital) and then share it.  I thought Polaroids were the greatest thing on the planet.  Fast forward to High School and being able to use all of those wonderful toys + the cool factor of being able to process film and make prints. The thrill of getting the “shot” never left.

2. How long have you been shooting?

On and off since I was about 9 years old to present.  There has been cameras in and out of my life.  Only within the last 2-3 years when I finally gave in to my long held passion and decided to make this something a bit more serious than a casual hobby.

3. Why do you shoot?

That’s a tough one to answer.

There’s a lot of things happening when I go and shoot.
It’s a form of self expression and communication
I am sharing with the world what I was seeing at the moment I took the shot.
At times, I may even make a statement about something with my photos.

It’s very exciting.
To know or hoping to see something that is interesting or something that will never happen again.
It’s that Cartier Bresson “capturing the decisive moment”.

It’s very creative.
No two photographs are exactly a like.
Composition of the photo is what I captured or on those rare occasions where I am working with a model, I am creating something that I wanted.

It’s therapeutic.
It focuses your mind.  Forces me to “take time and smell the roses” and really look at my surroundings and observe the world.
It’s a great stress reliever because for those few minutes or hours, my whole focus is away from the “daily grind”.
It’s also good exercise.  Walking, squatting, bending and sometimes running around.

I find such a calming effect while going out to shoot.

4. What do you do with your photos?

A fellow photographer and dear friend asked me about our “work”.
I told her that it’s my legacy – something to leave behind.  Perhaps secretly I am hoping that someday my “work” will be discovered, just like Vivian Maier (one of my favorite photographers).

Although I think it would be great to be published and more importantly be able to make a living with it…. I end up putting a lot of it out in cyberspace.  When “the time comes”, at least all of those images will live on.

Most are posted on my blog – http://stevefoonphotography.blogspot.com

Some are on a a Smugmug site – http://stevefoonimages.smugmug.com

There’s the good old Flickr site – http://www.flickr.com/photos/steve_foon_photography

Finally – Leica Fotografie International – http://us.leica-camera.com/photography/lfigallery

5. Who is your favorite photographer and why?

Too many to choose from.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, W.Eugene Smith, Robert Frank, Joel Meyerwitz, Vivian Maier, etc….

White House Presidential Photographers are perhaps my overall favorites.
Pete Souza, David Kennerly, Yoichi “Oki” Okamoto and Jack Kightlinger.

Kightlinger’s photo of LBJ sitting alone in the White House Cabinet Room is my absolute favorite – it’s what I hope to achieve with my body of work.

6. What’s in your bag?

Too much !!  I carry two “kits”  A DSLR Kit and a Portable Kit.

I’ve recently did some major changes.

In the DSLR Kit
I went from a Nikon D3S to the Nikon D800.

Although I gave up “machine gun” continuous shutter speed, super high ISO and build quality, the D800 with it’s 36meg sensor won me over since I do end up cropping photos a lot.

Think Tank Retrospective 30 bag
50mm Nikkor f/1.4 “D” and “G”
50mm Carl Zeiss f/2 Makro-Planar T
25mm Carl Zeiss f/2.8 Plannar
70-200mm Nikkor f/2.8 VRII

The Portable Kit
At one time a Leica M9, Fuji X100 and Olympus E-P3

The Fuji X100 is a good camera with a silent shutter – however I had the Leica and it was a duplication.

Leica M9 – just recently departed – kept the 35mm Summilux – waiting on M10
There still is something special about a rangefinder.

Olympus E-P3 is the current and only “Portable”.
Outstanding images and lightening quick autofocus

Domke F-804 bag
20mm Panasonic Lumix f/1.7
45mm Olympus f/1.8
14-42mm Olympus f/3.5-5.6 “kit lens”

7. What challenges does your shooting/style present?

Trying to become “invisible”

My style of photography is to capture “life and light” (my tag line).

As a Street Photographer – my style is to get candid shots.

Some Street Photographers insist on getting absolutely close and engaged with the subject.  To me those are street portraitures.  I want to have my work take on a journalist style and quality.

8. What’s on your bucket list of places, people or things to shoot?

Way too much to list.
I need to just someday travel the world.
I would have given anything to have been Michael Maloney for just a year !!

Ideally, be a White House Presidential photographer

9. What’s the best shot you didn’t get?

Everyday I miss out on what I would consider “the best shot” – just because of circumstances of not having a camera at the ready.
Too many opportunities lost.

10. What advice do you have for other photographers?

Follow your heart and gut.
This is Art and Communication.
There is NO right or wrong way or answer.
Please yourself and not cater to others (unless they are paying you).
Seek out other photographers – we tend to be a chatty bunch who loves to share – to learn and get ideas.
Look at other peoples work to get perspectives and ideas – but DO YOUR OWN and develop your own style.

Experiment and HAVE FUN !!!

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