Monday, May 9, 2011

Interview: Julian Berman (Photographer/OFWGKTA)

Hey dude how’s it going, first off I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to answer some questions for us.
Whatup Wayne! Thank you for giving me the pleasure of being included on the site.

Can you give our readers a small introduction since some may not be familiar with you or your work?
A small introduction..... hah. I'm nineteen years old, born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I am a photographer, hardcore enthusiast, tee shirt junkie, straightedge, miserable college student. You have probably seen me at a variety of shows throughout LA, or may have seen my photos of Tyler The Creator / Odd Future, who are my main dudes to photograph.

How were you introduced into the Photography field?
I got sucked into Photography the summer coming into 11th grade. I decided to take up some photo classes after always showing interest in Skateboard Photography and reading countless Thrasher mags. I figured, why not fill in some elective credits, maybe get a cool camera, and actually benefit towards the skate sessions. Little did I know that it would soon become my passion and or trade.

What was your first camera set-up and do you have any memorable moments using said camera?
My first camera was a Nikon D60. I was so stoked on it, but at the same time incredibly overwhelmed as I had never used an SLR before. I was quick to get rid of it after about 6 months so nothing that notable went down. I did tend to set my ISO (for those who are not familiar with camera terms, it is basically a value that corresponds with the amount of light that comes in...) to a ridiculously high number, something like 3200 ISO at all times. I noticed my photos were incredibly grainy and nowhere near sharp, and I was determined that the camera was broken. Hahahaha.

What is your current set-up and how hard was the transition from your 1st camera to your current set up?
Currently, I have a bunch of cameras that I am working with. A Hasselblad 500CM and a Mamiya 7 are my primary choices, both Medium Format film cameras. I've got a Contax T2 which is a dope little film point and shoot, and of course the Nikon D90 and the entire digital/flash setup which has been putting in work lately. Coming from the first little setup, this is a HUGE upgrade. These are some of the best film cameras EVER made, and I am incredibly honored to have them in my possesion. Shooting film definitely took some time to learn, and definitely plenty of money, but it is all so worth it in the end. Shoot more film dudes!

When walking into a shoot (Live or Controlled Set) do you have a different approach on how you shoot and the style you’re trying to portray on the final products?
Photoshoots and projects all have their own approaches. If I am shooting a show (which I rarely do these days), It is a bit of luck-of-the-draw in terms of light, composition, crowd interaction, whatever. It is difficult to work with the light in a lot of venues, so I usually try to stay away from that. Planned shoot wise, definitely some thinking to be done.... First of all must think if I want to shoot film, or does the client need the images instantly, therefore digital. Setting, time of day, color balance, and composition of the image all come in to play, mostly trying to work with whatever the subject thinks would benefit them best...
If you had a choice would you rather shoot live gigs or would you rather shoot in a controlled set environment?
I'd definitely DEFINITELY prefer to shoot in a controlled environment, or just somewhere in which I have adequate constant light that I can take advantage of. It is so hard to shoot most shows due to strobe lights and contrasting colors, that is probably why a lot of people tend to shoot in Black and White. It is a bit difficult to just have overall control of how a show will go down, so I tend to stay away from that. Besides, being a stage potato is no fun!
Now onto Odd Future, how did you come into contact with the group originally?
I met the Odd Future dudes in 2009. Met Taco in High School, and Tyler through Hypebeast ages ago. We just decided to link up and shoot once for fun, hangs became more consistent, and I just became the main dude to document and photograph them over time..

When you guys originally met did you feel you were going to be apart of something as big and explosive as Odd Future has become?
We would honestly just hang out, as friends, up on Fairfax. We had a little crew going, but I would have never guessed any of us would've escalated to where we are now. Now a days, I am incredibly glad to see success all around. I'm definitely proud of my boys, as well as myself, for what we have accomplished in these past few years.
Your photos were featured in the March 2011 issue of Billboard, how did that feel not only as a group achievement but as a personal achievement?
The Billboard cover was huge, not only my first cover, but theirs as well. I think that was the second time I had ever been published, and when I was approached with the idea, I was in shock.... like really???? We shot those photos the night before the deadline, middle of the street, and as quick as possible. We got the cops called on us, we had smoke bombs, we had skateboards, and we were DEFINITELY extremely loud. It was honestly a dream come true. I am extremely proud of that cover, and still cannot believe I actually nailed it. I was a bit under pressure, but their image choice was spot on, and especially with me being extremely critical on myself, I am very pleased with the way it looks.

What are your plans in the coming months of 2011, and where do you see yourself in 2012 and beyond?
Plans for the future..... Definitely keep shooting, whether it be Odd Future, or expanding my client base to newer individuals. I'd absolutely love to travel this summer, just to explore new territories and get a jist of this world that I am living in. I have a few very exciting projects going down with OF that will be coming very soon, and possibly may tag along for a tour in the near future. I'd love to go to This is Hardcore and shoot a bit there. Ultimately, I'd love to make a career out of my photography, so I definitely need to stay on my grind and get to shooting! Who knows what the future has in store for me though, but whatever it is, I am definitely ready to tackle it...

Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview, if you have any comments or shoutouts feel free to leave them here
Shoutouts to all my family and supporters out here, my main squeeze @Coldaslucas, my favorite paisas in Soul Search, and all of the inland empire family showing great support. Shouts to Stray Rats, Dead End Path, Greg at Lockin Out, all of the dudes over at Tee Till Death, and literally everybody that has shown me some sort of positive admiration, I love you all. Also shoutouts to all of my haters on Tumblr for dropping some of the weakest hatemail I've ever seen, and B-Roll for banning me four times on the b9forums, don't hate the player hate the game dawg.

Julian's Tumblr
Odd Future