July 18, 2011

Fashion Photographer: BEN FINK SHAPIRO

Ben Fink Shapiro perceives the world through the lens of photography. In fact, he jokingly admits that while his memory for names may falter, he never forgets a face in a picture he's taken--proof (we think) that his camera is a natural extension of his mind. Originally from Cincinnati, Ben discovered a talent for photography as a teenager and developed his skills while at Vassar College, where he earned a BA in Media/Film Studies. After interning in and commuting to NYC for shoots throughout his time at Vassar, Ben moved to start his career here in the city post-graduation. Since, Ben’s work has been published in Elle, Vogue Mexico, QUEST, Q Mag, and FutureClaw, among others, and his fashion clients include Alexander Berardi, Alice + Olivia, Brunello Cucinelli, Metalskin NYC, Miguelina, RD International, Tibi, & Reece Hudson Handbags. Furthermore, his portfolio features some of our personal favorite celebrities: Adrian Grenier, Bob Saget, Chloe Sevigny, Rainn Wilson, and Rob Lowe.

Ben’s the real deal: his artistic eye, humor, and genuine appetite for photography set him apart, and as far as we can tell, he’ll be making people look beautiful for many years to come. See for yourself: Ben's Photo Diary.

The moment you knew you’d pursue photography as a career:
In tenth grade I put together my first “real photo shoot” with a girl from my high school--I was hooked. Having a darkroom in my parents’ basement also allowed me to experiment with lighting and film, really getting into the craft of photography.

Best perk of your job:
Getting to work with such interesting and talented people. No two days in this line of work are the same and I really enjoy that. Also working in really beautiful places--I much prefer location shooting over studio.

What makes a good model:
Being comfortable and confident in who they are. Once their inhibitions are gone they can become a rock star. I personally like working with outgoing people who have a sense of humor.

Your most marked characteristic:
Drinking Cool Blue Gatorade all day on my photo shoots while most others on set are drinking coffee.

Your theme-song:
Rick Ross’s “‘Hustlin’” (everyday I’m hustlin’ hustlin’ hustlin’...).

Describe your photography style in three words:
Sexy, playful, and colorful.

Your dream photography subject and why:
Avedon or Newton. I think I would learn a lot just having them sit for me. It’s difficult in my opinion for photographers to shoot other photographers.  

Your definition of beauty:

How do you make someone beautiful?
I’m definitely in the business of making people and things look beautiful. I enjoy making people look good, perhaps better than they do in their everyday life. It’s a skill I guess I’ve been perfecting since I was about 15 yrs old, when I got interested in how fashion photography blurred the line between fiction and reality. After doing this a while, you get an understanding of different body types and proportions, and what works for different types of people. In addition to more obvious factors that might include pose, lighting, makeup, hair, outfit, and music, it’s sometimes a matter of convincing the person that he or she does in fact look great that makes all the difference.

Most memorable shoot:
I’ll never forget the thrill of my first magazine editorial at the age of 19: a shoot with a 30 person team (8 models) in what was then PM nightclub on Gansevoort Street. Even though in retrospect I was probably in over my head (I had not yet discovered the genius of lighting assistants!), we pulled off the shoot.

Photographer you most emulate:
Helmut Newton for the bold eroticism of his work, and Mario Testino for his use of natural light and playful sense of glamour. Newton’s autobiography was one of the most fascinating books I’ve read.

Your most extravagant indulgence:
My fridge is always filled with a large Tropicana OJ (lots of pulp).

What makes you laugh?
I definitely crack myself up all the time. My older brother and I just have to look at each other and we pretty much start laughing.
Ordinary things make me laugh--the way tourists experience our city is also really entertaining to watch at times, especially on the subway.

When or where are you happiest?
I love what I do, so I would have to say I’m happiest when I’m shooting. When I’m not working, I’m probably happiest when I’m with people I love and whenever I’m near a body of water or enjoying the outdoors.

Your favorite restaurant in NYC:
Freemans for neighborhood style points and Barrio Chino because it never disappoints. For cheap eats I like The Commodore in Williamsburg for the best fried chicken in the world.
Best place for a NYC photo shoot:
My roof. It’s ultra-simple and raw, but I’ve got a studio set up there and it gets beautiful north-facing light. I also love shooting in hotel rooms.

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