Photog : Neil Banich Photography | Realname Neil Banich
Every time I do an interview with a photographer, I remember why I started Modz365 and why I will do my best to keep it running. Inspiration! This interview with Neil Banich reminded me again, that the people behind the camera are the true story in the photo, inspiring many.
Look out for and pick up a copy of Neil’s photo mag Motive-8.
Motive-8 will be a 5″x7″ magazine of my automotive images there will be 500 printed and they will be sold as limited edtions. Each one hand signed and numbered. My intention is to sell them when I do display’s at car and trade shows as well as on my website. Each book is 10 bucks and will have about 40 images. if anybody is intrested just drop me a note via flickr mail. let me know your thoughts on the cover art. Cheers Neil
Tell us about Neil Banich – the person?
Well, let’s see, who am I?? I am very happily married with one wonderful child living in Vancouver, B.C., where I am a design partner in an architectural firm. When I am not designing buildings I am usually doing something connected with the car world, working on them, cruising in them, shooting them or just looking at them. I can look at them for hours…so my wife says..LOL! Currently, I have a 1965 Buick Skylark convertible, an 86 Corvette Roadster and a BMW M5 as my daily commuter. I am also a big fan of the arts, and racing sail boats. My love of cars likely came from my older brother who was constantly bringing home stray cars as projects… (that never really seemed to get finished) including a front-engine, econo rail dragster. From that point on I was hooked on both drag racing and hotrods.
Tell us about Neil Banich the photographer what got your started ?
So far, I know, I don’t sound much like a photographer….but my interest in photography did start at a very young age when my grandfather gave me a Polaroid Swinger as a Christmas present one year (guess I have just dated myself..LOL!). I was captivated at watching the image come to be right before my very eyes. Eventually my brother and I opened a 1 hour photo lab and frame shop and that is where I learned a lot of the technical aspects about darkrooms and film processing. I used to shoot and develop a lot of images (mostly landscape) back then, every chance I had. When we closed the lab in the mid-eighties my interest in photography seemed to wane. That was until the advent of the digital age! My interest was re-kindeled, after not having picked up a camera for close to 20 years. The messy, cumbersome darkroom had been replaced by my desktop computer. The ability to see images created instantly, (not unlike my old Polaroid Swinger) brought back the excitement that had peaked my interest in photography at the very start.
Hobby or profession and how long you have been doing it ?
I have been shooting seriously since about July 08 and I would classify myself as a hobbyist with a spattering of professionalism. I have a full-time job, but of late (I would bet) that I spend as much time, if not more on photography than I do at my day job! I have recently participated in exhibiting at car events and tradeshows, selling my images, as well as picking up freelance jobs shooting signature images for guys with cool cars.
What does your photography mean to you?
I can pinpoint my defining moment for wanting to shoot cars! Walking into an art gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona and seeing a painting of the front end of a vintage Ferrari. I was captivated by the painting. From that point on I have been consumed with the idea of creating Images with cars, it was finally a natural way to combine a couple of my passions. Even if I never sold an image (much to my wife’s chagrin), I would likely stay up all night creating them anyways!! The process is a real joy for me. I became very encouraged when a friend and fellow car guy showed some of my shots to a group of his “car guy” friends and their excitement was overwhelming.
My philosophy from the beginning was to shoot elements of cars and have them displayed as “fine art” as opposed to just an image of a car. That meant trying to find views and perspectives that could almost appear abstract, whether it be an old school Hot Rod (my personal fave), European Exotic’s, and everything in between. The idea that these images could hang in a living room as opposed to being relegated to the garage or basement, is my ultimate goal.
Give us a brief summary of your creative work-flow?
The process for me starts when I walk up to a car that I am about to shoot. I walk around it, stare at it, until I can define in my head what it is about that car that captures my attention. I then try to bring that out in a photographic image. Sometimes it’s a close up of a small detail, a line of a body panel, the stance or even the paint. Although, that being said, I have discovered a couple of things: guys with cool cars want an image of their cool car!! Not a detail of the bumper or fender. So I have found myself expanding my vision slightly. I will shoot cars in their entirety, but hopefully in a way that stays true to my philosophy of “art first”. Once the image is taken, I bring it into Light Room to process the original, raw files. This typically includes all basic processing and cropping. I then bring the photo into Photoshop for all the creative work. I process in a variety of different styles and really don’t have a formula for any one of them. Not unlike a Chef – a pinch of this, a pinch of that. In the beginning a large variety of the cars I shot were are at car events where I didn’t have the ability to dictate backgrounds and lighting angles, so I relied heavily on Photoshop for the creative process. If I have a shot from a car at a venue, I would then go out and shoot appropriate backgrounds for the images I wanted to create.
Give us your thoughts on impact applications like photoshop are having on photography?
I know a lot of “old school” photographers frown upon the use of Photoshop in the creative process, but in my thinking I could spend 5-6 hours in the field setting up the shot and getting the lighting and angles just right, or spend 5-6 hours in Photoshop to obtain a similar result. They are both time consuming and require skill, but photoshop allows me to put in those hours at my convenience. Many would argue that it is still not the same, and that’s fine, I am not trying to make a statement just create a cool image. At the end of the day (for myself), it’s the final product that matters more than the steps I took to get there. I get a kick out of when people look at my images and wonder how it was achieved! I think that mystery is part of the allure of an image.
How would you describe your post-processing style?
As time goes on, I continually get more opportunities to shoot for owners. In locations that I can dictate, I tend to gravitate towards grungy alleys and industrial areas. And sometimes I will spend days driving around looking for backdrop venues I would like to make a note, that my end goal is not to be shooting for the purpose of advertisements ( that being said I probably wouldn’t turn down a commission…LOL), but to be shooting more for fine art. At this point in my creative journey, I’m not sure I have found my truly defining style. It is a constant work in progress (experimenting with new styles) and new paths of discovery. I love to enlarge my images to wall size canvasses and that means several hours of cleaning up the images of every spot and imperfection prior to beginning the creative work flow.
What inspires you?
Unlike a lot of automotive photographers, I was inspired by a painting. I only then started learning about other automotive photographers, and discovered there are some great photographers out there!
Tell us some more about you current camera body, benefits, plans to upgrade ?
Currently, I am shooting with a Canon 7D and my lens of choice is a 17-50 2.8 Wide Angle. There are always plans for upgrading and additions. If I was choosing a new camera today it would likely be a 5D or 1ds because a majority of my shooting is up close and wide and a full-frame sensor would be beneficial. In the beginning, I really liked having a bit of a raw edge to my images. More and more I am becoming obsessed with image quality. I could see myself moving up to medium format cameras… (I will have to sell a lot more images… LOL). For now, I will continue to improve my glass quality (better to have 1 or two great lenses than a bunch of mediocre ones). At this point I prefer to shoot with natural light as much as possible, but the 580 speed light and soft box are there when I need them!
Name two of your favorite auto photographers and why?
My two favorites would have to be Tim Wallace and Easton Chang. Wallace’s images are amazing and captivating, everything in camera and perfect! The epitomy of old school. Chang’s images are digital works of art.
Give us three faves from your personal collection and of course why they are ?
Lets see my 3 faves? That’s pretty tough – who is your favorite child?? ”blowen smoke”http://www.flickr.com/photos/62128649@N08/6146489474/ – I really like the simplicity of the image combined with the aggressiveness of the car, as well, I think the aspect crop works really well with this image. “the enterprise” http://www.flickr.com/photos/62128649@N08/5930079199/ …59 caddy taillights are likely the most photographed taillights in history…I think I captured a unique view, combined with the clouds and tree really make for a good comp. (Now I will get 100 emails of images with the same pov!…LOL), and “motion-6” http://www.flickr.com/photos/62128649@N08/5699965630/ (one of my earlier images). I just really like the crop and detail of the chrome…and it just says cool!