5 Questions for Peter Livadas
Tell us about yourself.
I was born in California but raised on the East Coast. After spending 20 years between Delaware, Baltimore, DC, and New York, I moved to Austin in 2016. I work in IT full-time but usually carry my camera with me everywhere else. I’m particularly annoying to travel with as I tend to wander off from the group or linger behind to take pictures.
What is it that interests you most about photography?
My drive for photography really kicked off during my senior year of college when I took a black & white film photography class and finally learned how a camera actually worked. From there, I found myself drawn to urban street photography and geometric shapes. I tend to discover these subjects while going on long, meandering walks through any city. I find this part of the process to be particularly cathartic.
What kind of of photographs do you like to make?
The most common themes I’ve noticed in my work are geometry and a lack of people. After some brief coursework in civil engineering, I found a particular affinity to the concept of form versus function. The bridges that best captured this inspired the geometric elements of my work. When shooting this style, I tend to do more scouting so I can determine the best time for the subject’s shadows.
That being said, of the images I take that do have people in them, most are shots from the hip and more in-line with street photography. Some of my favorite images have come from attempts to shoot one subject then finding another, more interesting element of the photograph in post production.
What is most rewarding about learning photography?
Capturing an image then using post processing to show the viewer what you want them to see. I find this crossover of creative and psychologic work to be fascinating. This is particularly rewarding when the image is processed to show the viewer something they wouldn’t normally have seen, like a shape or a reflection.
I personally enjoy the post processing of “throw-away” images or those images that didn’t necessarily capture what I’d initially hoped. It’s with these images that I tend to rely more heavily on post processing, but I do so in an attempt to convey an everyday object in an abstract, cropped form to make it almost unrecognizable.
Can you share any tips about your experiences with photography so far?
The one piece of advice I believe most strongly in is that, even if you work exclusively in digital photography, take a course in film photography. Learn about film and how negatives are used to determine the “depth” of an image. That one course taught me so much more about the composition of a “good” image because I had to spend time meticulously preparing and developing my negatives.
Other than that, for any digital photographer, I’d say practice and take too many shots. Even if you don’t intend to keep most of them, this will give you an opportunity to play with aperture, shutterspeed and ISO. I find that taking the same picture over and over with a wide array of settings combinations and focal lengths really highlights the effects of each setting used in a photograph.