Alexander Richter – The Man Behind the Lens

NYC based photographer Alexander Richter has one of the best eyes for capturing your favorite artists in their most natural setting. Photography is one of the most intriguing and populated art forms, but Alexander manages to stay on top. No glitz, glamour or over-photoshopped photos. Alexander uses the right adjustments to make you feel like you were there when the photo was captured. House of Marley was blessed with the chance to pick up some knowledge and gain a better understanding of Alexander’s work. Check out AlexanderRichterphoto.com for an inside scoop.

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How did you link with the House of Marley, and what attracted you to the brand?

I grew up as a fan of reggae and was heavily influenced by Bob’s music. Fast forward to 2012 when I traveled to Kingston for 7 days with a friend of mine to create the photo-based documentary project called SEVENS CLASH. Upon my return I re-connected with Tracy from The House Of Marley and we mutually took an interest in what the other was doing. We had meetings which led to me learning about their amazing audio products, and now here we are.

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How do you deal with an artist or a person that is super camera shy or has the “I don’t want to be here” attitude during a shoot?

I think being personable is one of the best attributes to have as a photographer. In order to make good photos you have to be able to connect with your subject. I tend to work very close to the people I’m photographing, sometimes within inches of their face, so creating a good exchange of energy is critical. It seems obvious, but I’ve had plenty of shoots where the people I am photographing tell me horror stories about working with other photographers who just stay behind the camera and fail to communicate with their subject. Which to me is crazy because it’s that exchange of energy that creates the best photos. So I would have to say it’s critical that if you are having a shoot with someone who is not keen on taking pic
tures that you take some time and just talk with them. Don’t even break out the camera until the vibe is right.   

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What are the top things you consider when location scouting?

Locations are driven by the person that I’m photographing so when I get commissioned to do a shoot I begin to think about the person I am shooting and visualize environments that would complement whomever they are. I like to look for colors, different surfaces (glass, metal, wood), textures, light & shadow. Obviously there are jobs with creative directions which drive a shoot but it’s always good to have an eye out for something different so that you can place someone there and create a shot that wasn’t in the brief.

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With the infiltration of people with digital cameras and Photoshop, how does your photography set itself apart from the masses?

I try not to think about what other people are doing, but if I had to answer it I would say my eyes. No one else sees the world the same way I do and as a result I create photographs that reflect that. I also get my camera into places that other people might be interested in seeing, but aren’t willing to take the risk to make it happen. I have had the opportunity to have access to worlds that not everyone is welcomed to and with those moments I have worked hard to show that experience, whether it was in Jamaica, working with graffiti writers in NYC, or exploring new generations of hip hop artists in Chicago. In addition to that, I take great care in composition, in lighting, and execution of the image at that decisive moment.

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Why do you think companies choose you to do shoots for them over the next photographer?

I think people tend to be attracted to the raw feeling of my work. I don’t do loads of Photoshop to my images. I try to create my images in camera the way that I am seeing them on the print side. And whether you like them or not, they will make you feel some type of way. If they don’t, then I haven’t done my job. I think people also like the fact that I work with different mediums as well. I shoot with a digital 35mm, Polaroid land & passport cameras, 35mm film, and medium & large format film cameras as well. Each camera has its own voice so using a variety of tools helps me create unique images.

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What type of research do you do on an artist or person before you start a photo shoot?

I try to do as much research as possible. I like to know something about each subject I’m working with so that I can start on some sort of equal playing field if possible. I think having different points of communication is key to connecting with your subject so it’s always beneficial to know about who you are working with. I also look at photos that other photographers have made so that I can challenge myself to create work completely different than anyone else.

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When did your interest transition from film to photography?

Well, I went to school for film and at first that’s what I set out to do. Around 2004/2005, I discovered my father’s Hasselblad, began shooting more, and realized that photography was what I was meant to do.

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What is your favorite type of camera?

I don’t have a favorite camera. Whatever camera I have in my hands at the time is the camera that I need.

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Are you more into digital photography or film (analog) photography?

I love it all. They both have their place and I’m grateful to understand and use both.

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Photo Credit: Alexander Richter

Polaroids – Diahann Williams