Ever since his high school teacher gave him an old film camera, LA based Ben Sasso has been loving the whole creative process. But, he warns, he’s also human and isn’t immune to creative ruts (you couldn’t tell from his work!). Ben trusts his instinct when it comes to new ventures. Growing up in a slow paced Summer filled state of Florida, Ben learned from a young age to live in the moment - which, when he’s not photographing, can include hiking, camping, climbing. We love Ben’s openness, and his beautiful work of course. Check out what Ben has to say, and a bonus section on his gear!
1. What does making images mean to you?
Fun. I just freaking love creating. The whole process is a blast and that's why I do it. That doesn't mean that I'm immune to creative ruts, burning out on work, etc but I know that, at the heart of it, I just love it.
2. What is life to you? What should it be?
Somewhere along the line I decided that whenever I had something I wanted to do, I would say "yes" to it in my head first (committing to it), and then figure out the logistics later. Trusting my instinct instead of the part of me that starts to question how difficult it might actually be. I get that from my dad. From my mom, I get the ability to entertain myself. She once told me that only boring people get bored. Which makes sense, if you are a boring person, you would bore yourself. That taught me to always be able to keep myself entertained.
3. Where did you grow up and how did that play a part in your photography?
I grew up in Florida, a very slow paced, summer filled, state. As a kid, the summer gave me some of my best memories. No bills, no school, nothing to worry about except for the current moment. I love bringing that feel into certain aspects of my work. Nothing happening except for that current moment.
4. There are a lot of professions out there - why be a photographer?
It's the one I fell into. I thought I was going to be an interior designer until my yearbook teacher in high school gave me an old film camera as a graduation present. From there, I pursued it, got discouraged, left it for a while, and then eventually came back to it!
5. Do you have a “second profession” or passion?
Not a second profession, but outside of photography, nature is my thing. Camping, climbing, hiking, etc. I love to be outdoors and if you know my work, I think that's pretty damn obvious.
6. What movie did you love recently?
I just watched The Master and really loved that. It was shot beautifully and I really loved the character quirks and some of the thoughts it brought up. It was filled with weird little social experiments and that kind of thing makes my mind race.
7. Do you shoot with your left or right eye?
8. Are there any unseen experimental images in your attic you’d like to show us now?
Here is one from an all iPhone shoot!
9. Who do you respect - in photography or elsewhere?
Anyone who just goes for it. I love seeing photographers trying new things in their work for the sake of playing and getting creative. I also have a huge amount of respect for photographers who support the community both publicly and when the spotlight isn't on them.
10. If you were to start all over again, is there anything you would do differently? Why?
Probably. I'm not quite sure what it would be, and I'm not sure if doing it differently would help. We all have different journeys to get where we are and the all seem to be pretty equal as far as allowing us to do something we love to do for a living.
Bonus Q: Do you think the gear you use affects the way you photograph? Why?
Absolutely! I don't think that gear is the most important thing, but it would be a lie to say that it didn't affect the way I shoot. With digital, I shoot faster and looser than I do with film. Film forces me to slow down and be a bit more intentional with each frame (which I love). Aside from that, obviously each lens serves a pretty specific purpose for me.
- Bodies: 2 Canon 5D Mark III ‘s
- Canon 20mm f/2.8 – This one has been in my case for a bit but it will see the sunlight when I need to create an image with a bit more dynamic energy.
- Canon 35mm f/1.4L – I LOVE this lens. I shoot just about 70% of my wedding and lifestyle work with this. It allows me to create energetic candid images without the over distorted look that I might get with a wider lens.
- Canon 50mm f/1.2L – This is my go to lens for intimate and peaceful portraits because it doesn’t create any dynamic angles like my 20mm or 35mm L, and it creates a beautiful separation between my subject and everything else in the frame.
- Canon 85mm f/1.2L II – At most weddings, I have my Canon 35mm f/1.4L on one camera and this lens on the other. Those two focal lengths get me through almost anything I have to cover on a wedding day.