Serendipity (noun) – The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
And this is exactly how we found the very talented, forthright, super experienced, been around-the-block a few times Beth Herzhaft, and how Beth Herzhaft found us! This fortuitous happenstance occurred late last year when Beth won our 70K YAY competition! Beth took a Canon EOS 60D DSLR Camera with Canon EF-S 18-135MM IS lens and Preset Shop Editing Tools home, and we got the opportunity to get to know her a little bit more! Which basically means, you guys get to know her a little bit more also. Enjoy checking out Beth’s stunning work, and our thought-provoking chat with her below. Winners are grinners!! 🙂
Good vibes and endless inspiration,
Preset Shop Team
Who is Beth Herzhaft?
Beth Herzhaft graduated from The University of Hard Knocks and received her MFA in photography from ‘Nowhere In Particular’. Her first paid job was photographing a gangster rapper School-D, and this resulted from her sneaking into the art department at Capitol Records, back when you could get away with that sort of thing. She has been a freelance photographer since the 1990’s, working with numerous publications, advertising agencies and record companies. The rest of the time she is shooting fine art. She has had the good fortune to work with many amazing people over the years: Solomon Burke, Herbie Hancock, Nels Cline, St. Vincent, Radiohead, Mazzy Star, Sonic Youth, Pharaoh Sanders, etc.)
How did you find out about Preset Shop?
I entered your 70K YAY competition and won!
We heard you got some cool prizes? 😉 What exciting stuff have you done with them?
I have taken it to Colorado over the winter holiday, and shot an album cover here in Southern California.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?
At age 15 (although I probably wasn’t that serious for many years).
How would you describe your style?
Incisive (but not mean) portraiture. No frilly or superfluous elements. My hope is that a photo has just what it needs to be strong and nothing unnecessary.
As you look through the viewfinder, what is the most critical moment in the capture of your image?
It depends whether I am shooting a portrait or a urban landscape etc. All have different critical moments.
What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?
Richard Avedon, Lee Friedlander, William Eggleston, Lars Tunbjork, Saul Leiter, etc., I’m also very much influenced by non-photographers: scientists, physicists, fashion designers like Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen, also industrial designers (Ideo), musicians, painters / artists etc. etc. etc.
What’s the most important thing you want potential clients to know about you?
That I am not likely to blow smoke or use empty flattery, so not the best idea to pair me with an egotistical or insanely irrational client 😉 However, I’m very good at finding common ground, warmth and something relatable in people who are willing to meet me halfway when making the image.
What has been your favourite photo location or session?
The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles was an incredible location.
What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?
Think *really* hard about the realities of being a freelance photographer in an era of diminishing budgets and increasing amateurs-with-DSLRs-who-assume-they-are-as-good-as-you. IE: It was already challenging before, but now even crazier.
How has social media played a role in your photography?
In indirect ways, rather than direct ones (they play a supporting role, although I could do much more to try and amplify that).
What type of cameras do you shoot with?
Both film and digital (Contax, Hasselblad and Mamiya for film and Canon for digital).
What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera?
Probably the flash on my Contax camera.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
Cannot choose just one!
How does black and white vs. colour play into your work?
I am increasingly getting interested in B/W again, especially shot with film. Both for portrait and fine-art wedding photographs. I started out shooting black and white only for many years.
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
I always, always use it to edit after editing in Lightroom, although I don’t do any fantasy or hyper-real work. I try to keep the effects somewhat subtle.
Do you maintain a studio or do you rent one when needed?
What is one question nobody has ever asked you—that you really wish they had?
Can we give you more money and resources for this job? 🙂
Three photography pet hates and why?
How about six? 😉
1) People who buy a camera and assume they are a professional after a few months of shooting. 2) Assistants who seem to think they should be doing your job and have a massive attitude and/or who try to give their info to your clients. Not professional! 3) People who use the nickname “togs” for photographers 4) 30 under 30 type contests and articles. The idea that artists under a certain age are interesting simply because they are under 30 is ridiculous. Vivienne Westwood is pushing 80 and has more balls than almost anyone… 5) Clients who want bland and overly retouched images, rather than something with personality. Look at Richard Avedon’s amazing and challenging portraits from the 1960s to see what I mean, compared with the typical interchangeable actor portrait of late. 6) People who place phone pictures on par with camera images, and photo contests that include phone images alongside ones taken with cameras. (It’s fine to have contests but they should be in their own section).
Where would you wish to wake up tomorrow?
Japan, Paris, Czech Republic, NYC.
What five words would your friends use to describe you?
Honest, wickedly funny, creative, intelligent and self-involved.
If you could live anywhere on this amazing planet where would you build your dream home?
Really I am not sure, though the places I’d like to wake up tomorrow are a good start! 😉 Would likely want to travel between several places.
What lies ahead for you?
Continuing to refine my work and try to distil it down to a more unique and recognizable style. I would like people to be able to identify something as a photo that I took before they see the credit. Perhaps doing some collage work as well.