10 minutes with Michael Rubenstein

Interviews with Photographers April 18, 2011 9:08 am
When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?

I had drinks with my cousin a few months ago, an older cousin, and he told me that he wasn’t surprised at all that I was a photographer.  He told me stories about me always having a camera with me at weddings and bar mitzvahs. Apparently I always had a camera in someones face. He said it was endearing but I think after one more whiskey he would have said annoying was a better word. I remembered having a camera but I don’t remember using it as seriously as he does.

I ended up getting a degree in environmental policy and working for environmental groups until I was 26 or 27. It was 2002 when I really decided it was time for something different in my life and 2005 before I actually went to Ohio University to figure out how I was going to do it.  I wish I could say,” I knew I wanted to be a photographer when my grandpa gave me a camera on my fourth birthday,” but it was a kodak disk camera, I was seven, and it was just a really fun toy.

Michael Rubenstein

Michael Rubenstein

Michael Rubenstein

Your project Chabad Resilience is really incredible. What was it like being in Mumbai at that time, as a journalist? You were one of the first photographers to return to the Nariman House after it had been attacked. What were your feelings going into that environment again?

It was frightening. I am by no means an experienced conflict photographer, nor do I have any plans to become one. I was just there, and as one of only a handful of western photographers in Mumbai at the time I covered the initial attacks as best I could for the NYT.  I had a lot of help from Dan Pepper, Prashanth Vishwanathan and Ruth Fremson and thankfully we all got through it unscathed.  I wish I could say the same for the more than 160 people that were killed.  We were very lucky.

Going back was different. I felt a deep connection to the Nariman House site both as a Jew and as a journalist who had spent a large part of my time across the road during the attack. Entering the building was incredibly emotional. Seeing all the bullet holes in the walls and knowing where the residents had been murdered was something I will never forget.

 

Michael Rubenstein

Michael Rubenstein

Michael Rubenstein

How can an editor be most helpful when giving you an assignment?

For me I like a good back and forth. I want to know what they need and want but I also want to have a part in the development of our creative plan.  Good and continual communication is key to successful assignment.  Let’s say what we want and talk through our plan and then work on any issues that come up along the way.

Michael Rubenstein

Michael Rubenstein

Michael Rubenstein

Who is your dream subject?

Oh that’s a tough one.  I think it would have been the Stones in the mid sixties but someone beat me to it. For now my dream subject is New York.  I’m living it. Seriously though if you have any suggestions let me know!

Michael Rubenstein

Michael Rubenstein

Any goals for this year?

This is a big building year for me.  It’s all about telling people I’m back in NYC, back in America.  Lots of meetings, lots of personal projects, lots of new clients and friends.  I just left Redux Pictures last week after four really good years to strike out on my own and I’m super excited to seen how it goes.  2011 is all about fun! Fun work, fun friends, fun projects!

(Michael is based in Brooklyn, NY. See more of his work, here) 


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