Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Interview with Joel Robison

So many dreamers, creatives and nature lovers out there love the work of Joel Robison, he creates his own wonderland that's filled with beautiful sights, books, coffee and floating objects! 

Joel had an eventful year full of travels, beautiful creations and the company of other creatives, 

want to learn more...? keep reading 

How can you describe this year so far?Wow! This year has been absolutely and literally a whirlwind of a year! I started the year in Vietnam in the midst of my 9 month tour with Coca-Cola and FIFA. I spent the next four months of the year traveling to about 30 more countries across Asia, South America and Europe. It was an amazing opportunity to work with two wonderful companies and get a chance to see the world and photograph the beauty that exists in every corner of this planet and meet inspiring people along the way. After that I took a short break at home in British Columbia before heading down to Brazil to be a part of the FIFA World Cup and then to Peru for a great holiday. Then I moved out of my house, got rid of most of my possessions and set out on my 4 month long workshop tour across North America with my best friends!

You've met with a lot of creatives early on this year, is there anyone you're longing  to meet?I've been so fortunate to have met so many amazing and creative people, especially this year! I still have a few that I would love to meet and work with one day and I have plans to do so! I'm a big fan of Robert Cornelius and his incredible processing, I'll be meeting him next month in New York. I'd still love to meet the 'greats' like Tim Walker and Annie Liebowitz of course!

 You travel a lot and meet a lot of amazing talents, are there new names in your list of favorite photographers?I think my favourite part of being a part of this community of photographers is that it is constantly growing and people are being welcomed into it. A few of my new favourite photographers are James Mille, Matt Lineker, Vincent Minor, Josh Cloud and Leah Flores

Lately, you're not taking as many self portraits as you did before, do you find yourself better behind the camera or in front of it? I think I enjoy both, I find a certain peace and therapy in taking self portraits but I also enjoy telling stories using a variety of people. I think I've really enjoyed both the self portrait and the "other people" portrait sides of photography, it's hard to say which I like more. I certainly enjoy taking photos over being in front of the camera but I see the value in telling my story using me as the figure. 

Who's your favorite person to photograph?

Hmmm...that's a good question! Just for fun photos I love photographing my nieces because they're always laughing and making me laugh. For photos I really enjoy photographing my friends, Lizzy Gadd and Kindra 
Timmerwilke are always beautiful and I love working with them. 

Travelling from place to another can be a bit challenging with gear, what are your essentials when you're travelling? (gear and personal items)I'm kind of a packrat so my backpack is constantly being rearranged and organized with random things I've picked up. For gear I recommend extra batteries! There's nothing worse than showing up at an amazing spot with no battery power left, and extra cards because you never know when they're going to just decide to stop working.

For personal gear I suggest a notebook to keep lists of great places, quotes or books that you might want to go back to. Starbucks VIA instant coffee packets have saved my life on many an occasion...haha, it's not the greatest coffee but when you need some it's easy and does the trick! Warm socks, a trinket from home to remind you of where you're from and something to give to people you meet. I carry around postcards, stickers and cards of my photos so that I can give  them to people I connect with.

You went to many different places this year, what's your favorite place? and what place do you wish to visit?  Out of the places I went to just this year, I'd have to say that it's a tie between Japan and Sweden. Japan's culture is just so fascinating and I really enjoyed spending time in both Tokyo and in the smaller towns of the north. The people there are so friendly and kind and I really enjoyed my time there. Sweden as well was just really welcoming and I felt "home" there, we visited Kiruna in the north and it gave me a feeling of being home.

I would love to visit Norway soon, my family moved to Canada from there in the early 1900's and I've always wanted to explore the beautiful landscape and history of the country, I'm hoping to visit it later this year actually! 

Do you remember your first flickr meet up? tell us about it.

I do! We talk about it often among the people that were there. It was two years ago and was hosted by Ethan Coverstone in Indiana. Most of us had never met each other in person and I think we were all nervous about spending a week with people we had only known through the internet but I think it was the turning point in a lot of ways for people. We all got along so well, the energy was so positive and creative and it was a week that started as relative strangers but ended with the best friends I could have asked for. It was filled with laughter, photographs and memories that we still talk about.

 Your photographs inspired so many aspiring photographers out there to think outside the box and be more creative, however some photographers copied your work exactly how it is, how do you feel when you see someone "stealing your ideas"?It's kind of a combination of feelings, at first I feel a bit frustrated that people take an idea and post it as their own, often getting complimented on their creativity. I started seeing it though as a compliment because in an indirect way I'm teaching and helping that person develop their photography. I think it's always good to credit someone even if you are inspired by their work or style just so they feel respected as an artist.

Would you kindly share a before and after Sure! Here's a before and after of a concept I shot for a workshop in Ann Arbor. It shows how easy it can be to take two simple photos and turn it into something a bit magical!

You're clearly a book person, what's the best book you read lately?I do love reading, most of my reading is done while traveling now. A friend of mine, Leah Flores, gave me a book after we stayed with her in Portland and it's called
"The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin' Sad". It's a sort of guidebook on how to leave a lighter, more positive life and to move on from anything that might be bringing you down. It's an easy read, I think I read it in about 20 minutes but it's filled with great messages and funny stories and it's one I recommend! 

Tell us about "The wild ones photography tour" The Wild Ones Workshop Tour is an annual photography workshop tour that was started last year by myself, Sarah Ann Loreth and Shane Black. We are three best friends who love to travel and wanted to take a road trip and help give back to the photography community that supported us so we decided to teach low-cost workshops. Last year we traveled about about 8,000 miles and taught 10 workshops and it was amazing. This year we've already traveled almost 10,000 miles and taught 10 workshops to almost 200 students and it's been an incredible chance to see the USA and Canada and also to teach aspiring photographers how to tell and create stories in their work.

We are a non-profit organization so all of the money from our sponsors and students goes back into funding the tour and giving back as much as we can!

Can you share a little story from the tour ( I'm sure so many awesome things happen)Haha...we do have a lot of fun stories, traveling with your friends is always an entertaining and inspiring thing to do. One day we had gone on a short hike in Glacier National Park in Montana to watch the sunset, as we approached the top of the hike we found a herd of wild Mountain Goats who weren't bothered  by us being there. Eventually Sarah and I ended up getting trapped by a few of them because every way out of the trail was blocked by a goat! It was a bit scary but also really funny at the same time and we tried to make the most of it :)

If you can take any photographer you want on a "wild ones tour" who would it be?Oh wow! That's a hard question! I think it's always great to bring a variety of photographers on a tour like this, to see the trip and the world in different ways. I would love to bring Lizzy Gadd or Whitney Justesen with us, they have such a beautiful view of the world, bring a positive energy and take beautiful photos!

Is there anything new you're working on?I have a few projects under way, one is top secret for now but it should be really exciting when it's done! I started a series based around depression. It was inspired by a combination of my own struggles with depression and the passing of Robin Williams, I saw a need for people to feel like they were being heard and I though it would be therapeutic to share my own story and hopefully help someone else through the photos. The feedback from people has been powerful and I'm proud of the project so far.

Do you recommend any websites for photoshop/ photography tutorials? I absolutely recommend Phlearn  Not only are the people behind the website some of the most genuine and talented people, they really spend a lot of energy making amazing tutorials for people of all skill levels. They believe in other photographers and really want to grow a talented community of artists. 

A word of advice to young aspiring photographers.

Tell your story. You have a view, a story, a life that is different than everyone else and that's what sets you apart. Take those things and use them to tell your story through your work.

Find Joel at: Flickr -- Blog -- Twitter -- Facebook -- The wild ones -- 

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