Featured photographer #58: Omid Kianersi
My name is Omid Kianersi and I live in a Los Angeles suburb. I’m trying my best to get better at photography. I’ve already landed my dream job (okay second dream job after astronaut rockstar) so I get to keep this my passion and creative outlet. I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’ve had a beer on every continent except Antarctica.
What did you want to become in your childhood and are you that person today?
I grew up a curious child in what seemed like a bigger world than what exists today. I wanted to know everything and explore everywhere. As I grew up I intentionally went to a university far from my home and as an adult I’ve made it my goal to travel the world. The curiosity and wonder that child once had still exists in the adult I’ve become only now I have the means and drive to explore them.
What do you do when you don’t have a camera in your hand?
When I don’t have a camera I’m constantly thinking about light. I’m evaluating the light around me and what techniques I would use to capture what I’m seeing. Like an athlete who repetitively works on a skill so that on game day it comes naturally. I don’t want my camera to limit my ability to capture the decisive moment when it arises.
What do you want to achieve?
My goals is to create work that is meaningful to others. The highest validation I receive is when my work finds its way onto someone’s wall. Whether it be in a gallery or in someone’s bedroom, another person had to find value in my work. From time to time all photographers yearn for mass recognition and adoration. I’m no exception. Yet I always come back to a fundamental desire to create work worthy of display.
Where did you meet photography or where did photography meet you?
From the first time I placed an exposed sheet of photo paper into a developer tray in my high school photography class I was hooked. As I agitated the tray an image emerged from a previously white canvas. It was magic.
It still is magic. We all have unique perspectives born from different experiences. I love that photography provides a means for someone to literally see the world as you do even if it is only one image at a time.
What are your superpowers and weakness (and how do you overcome them)?
I’m not very good at candid street photography and I’m terrible at approaching strangers to take their portraits. That’s probably the reason so much of my work features landscapes or uses people in accessory roles and not as the focal point. My only superpower is a hyper vigilance. Its a benefit to my photography to be aware of my surroundings all the time but it can be a curse in day to day life that I can’t ignore some of the annoying things people around me are doing. It probably explains the early onset curmudgeon-ness I deal with sometimes.
Where do you think the wisdom and instinct for a good photograph comes from?
An often forgotten fact is that the camera is a tool. Photographers sometimes fetishize their gear and I don’t understand that. I love my cameras, my Lumu, my gear. But they are merely a means to producing a print. A photographer should master their equipment and turn their attention to recognizing moment, developing a style, and creating images both full of depth and evocative to the viewer by transferring the images of his mind’s eye onto unexposed film.
The craziest thing you ever did as a photographer? Have you ever got yourself in trouble?
I’m pretty boring as a photographer. I try to capture my environment without being noticed as a part of it. As a result I tend to be as subtle as possible when I’m out there.
How often do you / don’t you shoot?
Generally, I shoot in waves. Often I’ll go weeks without shooting and then burn through a dozen rolls of film in a week’s time. When I go out with the express intention to shoot I usually come home with lackluster images. It feels forced. The times when I produce work I’m most proud of tends to be while traveling. Something about new surroundings inspires me to shoot and unlocks my creativity.
If you could carry only 4 pieces of equipment to a parallel universe (no photo equipment on the other side) for a year, what would you choose?
I’d have to pack my Rolleiflex, a light meter (see: shameless Lumu plug), a roll of 220 Portra 400, a roll of 220 HP5. Having a ceiling of 48 images for the year and a single camera to work with would be an awesome challenge. Wait…what kind of beer do they serve in that universe? Your response might change my answer.
When do you rely on your instruments and when on your feelings?
I almost always take a meter reading upon entering my environment. Once that baseline exposure is set in my mind I usually take it on gut feeling from there when I think I’ll need more or less light.
If you could give one final advice / task / riddle to your fellow photographers, what would it be?
Stop blaming your gear. Take a year off of buying stuff and instead invest in the books of legendary photographers and shoot. I guarantee you’ll progress further along in your journey than if you had focused on equipment.
Your top 4 current photographers?
Johnny Patience (http://www.johnnypatience.com) - Growing up in Europe must’ve exposed him to clean lines and subtle pastel landscapes as those are ever-present in his work. Perhaps the only photographer on this list who’s work mine most attempt to resemble, Johnny sets the bar incredibly high. Truly beautiful work.
Thomas Boyd (http://www.thomasrboyd.com) - A newspaper photographer who has worked for quite some time for the Oregonian. He has an editorial eye that he uses to capture moments in his unique style. His work transports me into the moments he captures.
Yumna Al-Arashi (http://www.yumnaaa.com) - The only thing more interesting than her backstory is her work. Her work is her. I don’t really know a better way to explain that. She grew up a Muslim in the U.S. during an era of strained relations between Islamic nations and the West posed its challenges but perhaps not as much as capturing femininity and its power as a resident of Beirut. Her eclectic history is clearly visible in the work she produces. Like I said, her work is her.
Anastasia Petukhova (http://asildaphotography.com) - Born is Moscow, Anastasia creates work that stops me in my tracks. Working primarily in Black & White she has a style that captures her subjects in a sublime and elegant way. Whether she fills the frame with a solitary subject or hides it away amongst a sea of negative space, her style is one I highly respect.
Links or anything else you would like to share!
You’ll probably find a bunch of Lumu users through the Film Shooters Collective (https://www.filmshooterscollective.com).
Lastly I’d just like to say that you guys rock. I’m so honored to be featured here for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that you guys are such a cool company. A while back I wrote to you guys asking for additional pouches for different camera straps. I would’ve been happy to buy them but instead you guys graciously gave them to me and I’ve been using them ever since. Please keep the project going (although it’s hard to imagine you guys needing to improve on anything).