10 minutes with Spencer Lowell

Interviews with Photographers April 23, 2012 11:15 am

When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?

When I was 16, I applied to a handful of stores in the local mall and ended up getting hired at the Gap. Luckily, less than a week later I got a call from the one hour photo lab in the mall offering me a job and that’s how I became a photographer. I knew absolutely nothing about photography but anything beat folding clothes.
My relationship with photography has always felt like an arranged marriage, I really don’t think I’ve had much say in the matter. After high school, I bounced around a few camera stores and photo-labs while photographing in my spare time before I realized that I was becoming a photographer. Once I realized where I was heading, I decided that school was the next logical step and a few weeks later I was in my first photography class. I would say that is when I first really knew that I wanted to be a photographer.

 

Spencer Lowell

 

Spencer Lowell

 

Spencer Lowell

Spencer Lowell

Spencer Lowell

 

If for some reason you couldn’t take pictures, is there anything else you could have imagined yourself doing for work?

If I could be anything that I wanted to be other than a photographer, I would either be an architect, a filmmaker or an astronaut. One of the aspects that I love most about photography is the balance of art and science, or mind and heart. Architecture and filmmaking work in the same way and although being a astronaut isn’t necessarily art-based, you get to wear spacesuits and fly rocket ships!

 

Spencer Lowell

Spencer Lowell

Spencer Lowell

Spencer Lowell

Spencer Lowell

 

Who were some of the first photographers that inspired you and is there anyone new who’s work you find interesting?

The first photographers whose work inspired me were Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, and Andreas Gurskey. The common thread between all of these photographers is an obsession for perfection and a seemingly never-ending drive, which are things I hold in high regard. As for current photographers whose work I find interesting, I really admire what Taryn Simon and Stefan Ruiz create. I’m mostly drawn to the work of “fine-art” photographers, however, I do admire plenty of “commercial” photographers, such as Dan Winters, Robert Maxwell and Jill Greenberg.

 

Spencer Lowell

Spencer Lowell

Spencer Lowell

If you could go back ten years, what advice would you give yourself?

If I could go back ten years, I would tell myself to stay out of my own way. Few if any of my fears have ever manifested. Most of my wasted time has been spent worrying about what other people are doing so I would tell my past self, as I tell my present self to just do what I do and let everyone else do what they do.

 

Spencer Lowell

Spencer Lowell

Spencer Lowell

 

Any words of wisdom for the up and comers?

The best advice I can give the up-and-comers, which was advice that was given to me by a successful businessman is to work hard and be nice to people. Anything worth doing requires work and it’s hard to get anywhere without the help of the people you come in contact with. I also believe in keeping things as simple as possible and never taking anything including myself too seriously. Being a photographer is one of the best jobs in the world and that is something that should never be taken for granted.

 

(Spencer is based in Los Angeles. See more of his work, here)

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