Interview Ave | Photographer Benjamin Rosser
Last fall, while shooting street in Soho a guy asked to photograph me. I agreed, then he introduced himself as Benjamin Rosser. We stayed in touch and soon after Ben was contributing to the site. You may recognize his work from past shoots like: Reflections, Gucci and Gatsby. Honestly, I've worked with tons of photographers but never with one like Ben. He has a great eye, but also understand the technical aspect of photography.
Recently, Ben traveled to India to work on a photo project so I took the opportunity to shoot him in Bushwich, Brooklyn and formally introduce him to the site.
Dapper: Tell Us About Yourself
Ben Rosser: When someone asks me, I say I come from Leverett Massachusetts, a small town of twelve hundred people and one stoplight. Although I can’t really say I grew up there, I definitely feel it has shaped me much more than my birthplace near Boston had. I moved away from Boston at age ten after my father came home and announced he found our new home... two hours away. I was furious at first because I knew it meant having different friends, doing different activities, and a completely different way of life. Only eight years later did I accept that moving had been a good idea. And now, twelve years later, I can’t imagine growing up anywhere else in the world.
Dapper: How you get into photography? Was there a specific moment that solidified this career choice?
Ben Rosser: My earliest memory of taking a photograph was in Yellowstone National Park during the summer of 2000, a month before my tenth birthday. I had been walking around our campsite carrying my mothers Canon AE-1 film camera for an hour or so. I remember looking up the hillside of burnt and leafless trees in front me and feeling my heart beat a little faster at the thought of capturing this weird landscape. That moment was probably the last time I ever actually enjoyed photographing a landscape. I find overwhelming joy in capturing people, and have never understood the act of landscape photography. But that feeling of excitement I had felt in that moment has carried over to my portrait photography ever since.
Dapper: What brought you to India? How was your Journey? and can you share any noteworthy experiences?
Ben Rosser: I was invited to India to photograph The 2013 Windchasers Sandakphu Himalayan Race when a good friend and spectacular videographer Emma ZT referred me to the race directors. Emma had initially been hired to co-direct a documentary video project to be produced at the same time as my photographic involvement, but which had fallen through last minute after the production grew disproportionately compared to the funding and timeframe available. Due to the discontinuation of the video project Emma couldn’t come, so I decided to go solo and photograph the race anyway. I found sponsorship from Rao’s Café and Kind Healthy Snacks to fund my expenses, and as a result went into it with the intention of producing a body of work to be shown this coming summer. As of now I expect the show to be opening sometime in Mid July in Amherst Massachusetts and hopefully moving to New York City to open again this coming fall.
Something I will never forget is waking up the fourth and final day of the race to find the fog that had shrouded us the entire time had cleared. At that moment I found myself standing beneath the Everest range illuminated by the rising sun. It had been entirely invisible for the days leading up to that point. Never have I been so awestruck by a view in my entire life.
Dapper: When deciding on the perfect photograph, what is your thought process?
Ben Rosser: This is the question that has been the hardest to answer for me. It’ s purely based on a feeling, as soon as I make it something else like adding reason or strategy to the actual act of taking a picture I get lost and completely thrown into the dark. For me the line between strategy and impulse is drawn at the viewfinder – the act of actually composing the shot, feeling the moment and pressing the shutter is entirely unconscious and impulse based, but everything leading up to that point is based on strategy and technical knowledge.
Dapper: How do you choose your subjects? Is there something in particular that makes you react?
Ben Rosser: I’ve always be fascinated by expression and how something to subtle can become so contagious to the beholder. How every aspect of a photograph, the light, color, composition, the way a strand of hair can lay across one’s cheek... can add to the emotion to almost create one big expression all tied into itself in one single frame.
Dapper: What music are you currently listening to?
Ben Rosser: Currently, Aretha Franklin is playing over the café stereo as I sit in Breukelen Coffee House in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. I used to have her song “Respect” on vinyl and would sing along to it as a kid.
Dapper: Outside of Photography, What are some of your hobbies?
Ben Rosser: From age fifteen, I’ve been a bit obsessed with rock climbing. For the past seven years - apart from injury and time spent traveling, I’ve gone climbing at least four days a week pretty consistently. People often tell me that I should combine my love for rock climbing and my photography into “climbing photography”. The truth is, Rock climbing is the only outlet that forces me away from my photographic mindset, and therefore climbing is probably the only reason I’m still sane. I believe combining the two would be the end of both of those things for me. I also loved metalworking as a kid; I worked for a jeweler during much of my teen years, and apprenticed for a blacksmith for some time as well.
Dapper: What past or present Photographers are you inspired by?
Ben Rosser: Growing up, I was fascinated by the work of Cartier-Bresson. In my late teen years I found myself identifying closely with Sabastiao Salgado’ s work. More recently, among my favorites from the past, I find myself being captivated by photographers like Greg Kedel and Patrick Demarchelier among others.
Dapper: If you had access to any subject and space worldwide, who and where would you shoot?
Ben Rosser: I was telling a friend recently about an idea I had a few months ago of photographing the last remaining traditional fishermen on the coast of Vietnam. Photographing them in a way that combined the candid feel of street photography, the emotion of portraiture, and the warped perspective that fashion photography sometimes has. But as of right now that is only a semi bland idea that would need much more thought to become something tangible. I may develop that further, because photographing strangers in that way is something I would be very scared of, but also something I think could push my work in the direction I think I needs to go.
Dapper: Where can we follow your photography journey?
Ben Rosser: I try to post my recent work to my blog – benrosser.com/recent - There you can see some of the work that I wouldn’t necessarily add to my portfolio but still consider to be finished work.