10 minutes with Peter Ross

Interviews with Photographers June 17, 2014 9:53 am

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

I started playing around with photography in high school, where the darkroom was the one place I could go and be totally alone. My mother has previously turned a closet in our Ann Arbor, Michigan home into a darkroom and she had an old Rolleiflex that had belonged to my uncle, which I started using. I still have that camera today, and love using it. It’s magical to look down into the viewfinder and make square images. Indeed, it’s even more magical in today’s digital age.

In college, where I studied English, I worked at the local newspaper and really learned photography through daily practice. I never studied it in any way. I’d work nights and weekends, and had incredible experiences covering college and professional sports and news events in the Ann arbor and Detroit area. It was a hands on education, where I made every mistake once. I did internships at newspapers every summer, and after graduation worked as an intern at the LA Times for six months. I think the newspaper experience has really influenced my style today. I still like to shoot with available light, and work fast on my feet, in a flexible and spontaneous manner.

Did you ever consider any other professions?

I never did. Photography is all I have ever done, and I’ve been freelance the whole time. I’ve seen the transition from film to digital, and am now engaged in the transition from still to moving images. The ‘business’ has changed entirely recently, and while that has had it’s frustrating moments, it’s exciting to see photography become accessible to so many people. I was amazed, on a recent vacation to Instanbul with my Mom, to see that everyone was looking at the world through a camera, and that is really exciting.

I like to think that I have my own unique vision of people as relates to portraiture, and that is what keeps me engaged. My own personal projects are becoming increasingly focussed on my own life experiences, and that works to separate me from anyone else. The popularization of picture making is forcing me to look increasingly inward for inspiration, and that’s not a bad thing creatively or personally.

Of course, I wonder on a daily basis, what else I might do with my talents, and I haven’t quite figures that out yet!

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

“Life isn’t a dress rehearsal”

Any words of wisdom for the up and comers?

Shoot, shoot, shoot. That’s my advice, for everyone. Find personal projects and pursue them non-stop. It’s a competitive market these days, with fewer opportunities and millions more people making (terrific) pictures. Do the most personal work that you can, and you’ll stand out. Make your own opportunities and take advantage of all the new ways to share them with the world. Look inside yourself for inspiration.

Peter is based in New York. See more of his work, here.

4 Comments

  • Peter Ross is a gifted photographer with a wonderful kindness and a fascinating attention to detail in his images. I like how he reminds us to look inside for inspiration and I can’t wait to see what comes out of his magic picture-making box next!

  • Jennifer Menshouse

    Hey Peter,

    Nice to see your work and know you are doing so well. Always remember the good times we shared. All the best to you.

    Jen

  • Jennifer Menshouse

    Hey Peter, So good to look at your work again. Often think of the good times we shared.

    Jen

  • matt holappa

    Peter

    Great to see your work!

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