Beyond The Lens – Massachusetts photographer Bernie MacArthur has took the time out of his schedule to shed a little light on his background story, views and past collaborations. I’ve been following MacArthur’s work for quite sometime now, and I always kept in mind to interview him as soon as I had the time to. I got in touch with the photographer as soon I got available to get started on the interview.
He was very open to express his views on topics that are highly discussed in the field he’s engaging in. We talked about his most challenging photo shoot, whether editing gave people the ability to cheat with photoshop, Instagram models, his favorite models to with and more. I hope you enjoy reading the interview!
Internet Hollywood: When it comes to photography, what would you say is the most important things about being a photographer?
MacArthur: There are 3 things to me that are important. First, finding a connection with the model. If you and the person you are shooting with are stiff, or you just don’t jive at all, the pictures are going to show it. I try to be fun and pleasant whenever I meet a new model, break the ice, and get them laughing – it helps. Second, the same thing they teach you in real estate – location; the location has to fit with the concept – if it doesn’t the shoot is going to look awkward. And lastly, light. Light can make or break any shoot. Too much, or not enough, and your doomed.
Internet Hollywood: What would you say is the most challenging photo shoot you ever did?
MacArthur: I did a shoot with a model last November when the weather turned from 60s down to the 20s, with a swirling wind, in one day. We were locked in to shoot on that day, as I could not rearrange my schedule nor could she. The shoot was near water and in the open. As the weather was quite warm, I had asked her to shoot in baby-doll dresses, with nothing underneath as we were doing nude/implied. She froze, literally, her butt off. My fingers were stiff and the camera lens kept getting fogged. When we were finally done, the poor young lady’s teeth were chattering!
Internet Hollywood: How did the photos turn out in the end?
MacArthur: Not terrible! I had to do a lot of color correction as she was very red from the cold. If I remember right, I ended up with a lot of black and whites.
Internet Hollywood: Is editing just as important as taking pictures? A few people I talked to felt editing, in a photoshop way, gave models and photographers the ability to “cheat” on their photos and make themselves look a way they really don’t. Do you agree with that perception?
MacArthur: There are times when editing saves one series of shots in the whole shoot. For instance, I’ve had it where I had turned my camera screen to very high so that I could see it in a shoot the day beforehand. I forgot to turn it back down to neutral and didn’t realize that the images I thought were exposed correctly, actually weren’t. If not for LR, that particular series of shots would have been ruined. Knowing software applications, which is best for what situation, and how to, at least rudimentary, use them is a must in our industry. Even if you are only using MS Paint to make small edits to brightness or contrast, it’s still necessary at times.
Internet Hollywood: Do you feel “Instagram Modeling” discredits women that actually engages in that profession for a living?
MacArthur: First, I know a number of “industry models” that use IG to great effect by spreading just the right amount of images, with the right hashtags, to gain followers. This allows them to meet and shoot with a wide variety of photographers. For those that aren’t in the industry who upload their ‘selfies’ with the IG filters to make them look ‘professional’, it does give the impression to anyone outside the industry that this is an easy job – just look pretty and you’re done. Which is far from the truth. Many of the models actually need to take rests during the shoots – as to keep your energy up, to focus your attention all the way through and make sure that you are giving more than generic poses, is difficult. But, I do have to say, that I also “troll” for new faces on IG; I’ve shot with 2 non-professionals in this manner. It’s a bit different as you need to direct them in all aspects of modeling, but it can be a good way to get more, diverse people into our line of work.
MacArthur: Apart from being respectful to the people they work with in the modeling industry, their basic function is to capture the perfect image (at least in their mind’s eye) in a given location, with a given subject – whether it be a person, structure, or animal. A photographer is always roaming to find what moves them and capture it in a way they feel it conveys something, either to them or someone else. For instance, I recently saw a pretty well known photographer in the industry upload a picture of a squirrel. To me, it was a good, clear picture of a summer day where squirrels are in the park trying to find food for the winter. Not sure if that is what the photographer intended to convey, but he got his message across nicely.
Internet Hollywood: As we move up a generation things are definitely changing. Do you feel the art of photography is being more respected or not?
MacArthur: I’m not quite sure I can answer the underlying question about ‘respect’ – but the way photography is looked at and gauged is always evolving. From the pinup shots in the 40s to the 60s and 70s wacky color schemes to todays use of color and depth and strange locations (i.e. UrbEx), it’s an ever changing ‘photographer’s eye’ that is always being challenged. Most of the people who grew up in the 50s are not going to like pictures of skater girls doing jumps near graffiti strewn benches; but a good portion of today’s society would. Respect, or maybe admiration is a better term, is given by those who are going to associate more closely with the art they are shown.
Internet Hollywood: Who are some of your favorite models to work with, and who are some of the models you would like to work with?
MacArthur: I’m not quite sure I can answer the underlying question about ‘respect’ – but the way photography is looked at and gauged is always evolving. From the pinup shots in the 40s to the 60s and 70s wacky color schemes to todays use of color and depth and strange locations (i.e. UrbEx), it’s an ever changing ‘photographer’s eye’ that is always being challenged. Most of the people who grew up in the 50s are not going to like pictures of skater girls doing jumps near graffiti strewn benches; but a good portion of today’s society would. Respect, or maybe admiration is a better term, is given by those who are going to associate more closely with the art they are shown. Who are some of your favorite models to work with? And who are some that you wold like to work with? I’ve been fortunate to work with great models right from the beginning. One of my first shoots was with Rhea Rayne and Isabel Vinson who were great; Jason Gabriel is smoking hot and funny as can be; Dani Elise has such beautiful classic features that you just cannot get a bad image of her; and I’ve had the distinct please of working with the “H’s” (Hayley Grant and Haley Moss). Hayley has been the person that I shot with most this past year (somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 images form a dozen shoots, and each time it’s a 8-12 hour session), and I do shoot with her that much because she is amazing – beautiful, organized, and always emotional. And Haley is plan crazy (sorry Haley! ) in the energy that she brings to a shoot. For the future, I’ve been trying to get with Lone Vixen – we’ve missed each other twice now; Cassie Ramos who lives close is another I’d really love to shoot with; and, my fantasy shot, is with Lizzy DunRaven (which is in the works right now).
Internet Hollywood: If a person is interested in doing photography is on a fixed budget what do you recommend they buy?
MacArthur: My advice would depend upon what level of experience they are at right now. Let’s say it is a new person – just thinking about becoming a photographer and making it a career – no experience – and no training. I would recommend something semi-professional for them – that has enough power they can grow with it, but enough ‘hand holding’ features so they can just place it in a mode and get used to what the camera will do. On the other hand, if the person is just a hobbyist, and just wants to take pictures of the grandkids now and then, I may push them to a point-and-shoot for their ease.
Internet Hollywood: What are some things you have in store that you could look out for in the future?
MacArthur: I have a shoot series that I just did last Sunday with Hayley Grant. It involves white and pink paint, the ocean, and lots of bare skin! I’m still sorting through the 1500 images, but i think the series will definitely gain attention.