MEET THE ARTIST: Q&A WITH ISRAELI ARTIST TAL PAZ FRIDMAN
You describe your photographic style as “documentary” and that you “record the world as it is.” Elaborate a little further for us.
The legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson made famous the idea of “The Decisive Moment”. In the preface to his book Images à la sauvette, Cartier-Bresson took his keynote text from the 17th century Cardinal de Retz: "Il n'y a rien dans ce monde qui n'ait un moment decisif" - "There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment". Cartier-Bresson applied this to his photographic style. He believed in composing his photographs in the viewfinder, not in the darkroom. Nearly all his photographs were completely free of any cropping or other darkroom manipulation.
In one of his interviews, Cartier-Bresson said “I am after the one unique picture whose composition possesses such vigor and richness, and whose content so radiates outwards from it, that this single picture is a whole story in itself”
In that regard, I always look to document the world around me and capture the decisive moment which holds the essence of the image. I never crop the image, change the perspective or move things around (although I post-process afterwards in my “digital darkroom:)
Have you found more success in selling your work directly to individuals, say through your website directly or by using online sites that showcase work from many artists?
Up until recently I left my personal preferences aside and attempted to sell on (almost) any platform I could find. It required (at least from me) a high level of obsession, stubbornness and organization. It meant constantly searching for potential galleries and sites, contacting and following up, sometimes over months or even years. It allowed me to sell through a variety of online galleries and sites, each contributing to the overall earning.
Looking ahead into the future, I would prefer moving to selling larger numbers of limited edition prints at higher price points and on a smaller number of sites, including my own.
In the US (especially with the current state of the world) we hear the challenges of artists or creatives not being able to earn enough money while being photographers. Is it easy to be a photographer in Israel? What kind of obstacles do you run into?
Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) I do not depend on photography for my income. It is very tough being a photographer - in Israel and anywhere else in the world. The business side changed so much in the last twenty years with the introduction of affordable DSLR cameras and Smartphones. Demands are constantly evolving and changing, but there will always be a place for talented and hardworking people.
Do you think talent for photography is something a person is born with? Can you be a successful self taught photographer?
As with almost every other profession or craft it is both. Some are born talented but lack the discipline and drive. I think that anyone - regardless of their talent - can improve and become a successful photographer.
How does black and white vs color play into your work? Do you find them to be totally separate or complementary?
I love both but they are more different than complementary. Some of my favorite photographers worked mostly in Black and White and I wish I could master only one discipline, but since I love both I apply what I feel is most fitting for each specific image.
Whose work has influenced you most? Why?
There are so many!!! I never received a traditional education in photography, so I continuously discover new ones all the time.
My first inspirations and influences were National Geographic photographers like Jim Brandenburg, Jim Richardson, Sam Abell and William Albert Allard.
From there I discovered the classic masters like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams.
Over the years I have added more names to the list such as Harry Callahan, Don McCullin, Micha Bar-Am.
There’s a common misconception with many creative career paths born from hobbies or personal interests that the work is “not a real job” or is somehow easier than your average 9-5. What are your thoughts on this? What does a typical workday or workweek look like for you?
As I hinted before, it is quite the opposite. Being a successful artist, creative or any person working towards an independent career, requires a tremendous amount of commitment and sacrifice. In my case it means combining Family - Work - Photography - Self, over 24/7 in a non stop tornado of tasks and activities.
Do you have any advice for people hoping to have a photography career?
There is a cult movie in Israel called Mivtza Savta ("Operation Grandma")“. It's a comedy about three very different brothers trying to get around many obstacles to bury their grandmother on her kibbutz.
In one scene Krembo (the older macho militaristic brother) and Sergio (one of the elders from the Kibbutz) are sitting near the swimming pool, watching the swimmers and having the following conversation:
Alon 'Krembo' Sagiv: There is only one way to swim 100 meters to receive a medal.
Sergio: Hey, Krembo, why don't you give some tip of champions, eh?
Alon 'Krembo' Sagiv: You start as fast as you can, and very slowly you increase the pace.
So that’s my advice - start as fast as you can and slowly increase your pace.
This may be a difficult or impossible question for you to answer, but if you had to pick a favorite piece in your collection what would it be?
I have mixed feelings towards most of my images - most are good but not good enough (not to mention excellent).
One piece that I do like is called “Four balloons and another one”. I like it because although it is dark, even a bit ominous, I find it very humorous. I like that it raises funny questions - where did the balloons come from? Where is the last balloon? Are there additional balloons? Was it a happy or sad occasion?
To learn more about Tal, visit https://www.talpazfridman.com/, or stop by 2046 Divisadero during an open house to see and purchase the designs in person!