by KIKE CALVO
My dreams is… that the market shakes itself out, so talented young visual story tellers can make a living. We have seen explosion in the tech field which allows the creation of video and audio. Photographers have all the the tools that allow them to share wonderful stories. There are so many talented visual people, but sadly we are not seeing a market place that allows to this stuff to be paid in a decent way. In my stage of development, it is not so important, because I am all set. But I really feel for young photographers who see no clear path to earn a living. Long term sustainability of a photography career is much harder now.
The biggest lesson in my career… is that hard work is more important than talent. When you hear about great photographers, everyone talks about their eye, their sensitivity… But when you get to know them, they all have a ferocious work ethic. That was eye opening. We always think about talent, but not about the ability to generate ideas which is even more important than the eye. Former National Geographic Photography Director Bob Gilka used to say: I am up to my ears in talent, but only ankle deep in ideas. I have many guys who can shoot, but not too many that can propose a story and put together the whole thing.
The biggest lesson in my life… is that life can go in a second. The loss of my youngest son is the biggest and hardest lesson in my life. It made me realize that fame and fortune and all that, is not as important as safety of those who you love.
The moment I will never forget... was an assignment that hardly yielded any pics. I was shooting a story in Trinidad for Islands Magazine. One night there was a knock on my door and I was taken to ¨Shango¨ ceremony. I witnessed an all night ceremony. People in trances, people speaking in voices. The was so very low light and I couldn’t use flash. I saw the most amazing things I have ever seen. I was able to shoot six photographs, but non were ever published.
Photography is... changing. I think its great that we can share stories in so many ways and are no longer dependent on magazines and big publishers. I like all the story-telling possibilities of video these day. For an old still shooter, it is scary on one hand, and fascinating on the other, to be able to craft the whole story from start to finish. You are now the writer, the editor, the image maker and the publisher too...it’s a brave new world!
Kike´s thoughts: I can´t really say how many times I read his books ¨Spirit of Place: The Art of the Traveling Photographer¨ and ¨Secrets of Lighting on Location¨. I was beginning my stock photography career, and his books made me think about my own photography. The need of capturing the essence of a place, creating magical photographs charged with color and emotion. But what really impacted me was the day I called him for an interview (not knowing him), to get him answer the phone, sharing the sad news that his son had just died on a car accident that day. I felt so deeply sorry hearing someone I had admire so much, answer so politely in one of the worst possible situations. I had always seen his professional side until that day. Years after, I contacted him and he remembered me. During the interview for this new project, he was warm and close. A humble person who just happens to be a great photographer and story-teller. Like it happens to many, we lose our loved ones too early. I am sure Bob´s son is watching from above, proud of his great dad.
The Time Machine:
Image was taken in 1979, when Bob was working on his first national magazine assignment, shooting a story about shad fisherman on the Hudson River, right off Manhattan.
So who is ... Bob?
More about Bob: www.bobkrist.com
Bob suggests me to talk to: Bob Sasha, Jim Richardson or National Geographic editor Elisabeth Krist.