Allan Weitz is an accomplished photographer, but there is much more to this artist. We recently spoke with him about his experience.
ABI: What do you feel is your greatest strength as an artist?
AW: A good friend and fellow photographer recently asked me how I manage to see things on the same streets that he walks on daily but fails to see. He’s not the only one who’s asked me that question.
The best answer I can come up with is that I’m left-handed and slightly dyslexic. Aside from that, I don’t have an answer – at least not a good one. All I know is I see things; specifically lines, shapes, curves, light, and shadows, and every so often I see combinations of these visual elements that make me stop and take a picture.
ABI: What is the direction and concept behind your current body of work?
This has been my approach to taking pictures from the get-go, regardless of subject matter. One of my earliest mentors was B. Martin Pedersen, a master graphic designer and publisher of Graphis Publications who hired me to photograph boats for an upstart publication called Nautical Quarterly. He asked me if I knew anything about boats. I didn’t.
Regardless, he told me it didn’t matter – I should simply look at them as sculpture and photograph them the same way I photographed the old amusement park rides he was admiring in my portfolio. I’ve been following his advice ever since.
ABI: You are a photographer, but you also do much more in your field. Tell us about your other activities.
AW: About 15 years ago, I stumbled into what has become a major avenue in my career – writing. Though I didn’t recognize it early on, I’ve come to realize photography and writing share many attributes, specifically form, composition, phrasing, and editing, and I readily admit I get equal doses of creative satisfaction from both of these creative endeavors.
These days my time is split between writing online camera reviews and articles about photo-related technologies for B&H Photo in NYC. I’m also the host of the B&H Photography Podcast, a weekly show in which we interview photographers ranging from veteran Pulitzer Prize winners to students first breaking into the field. And yes, we also talk gear!
As for photography, the work I’ve been producing as of late is strictly personal in nature. After decades of predominantly shooting color, most all of my current imagery is captured in monochrome. Many of my newer images are taken from ground level and similar non-eye-level camera positions, and my subjects are primarily minute details captured along the route of streets I have been crisscrossing for decades. A majority of these images are captured with wider-angle lenses, and many are captured at maximum aperture, similar to the way our eyes see the world.
Though we perceive the world around us as being universally sharp, the truth is our eyes can only focus on thin slivers of detail at any point in time. We perceive universal focus only because our eyes are constantly moving about capturing ‘snapshots’ of our surroundings, which are then patched together in our mind’s eye. Seen through a camera, we have the opportunity to focus in on details we typically miss as we go about our day.
More of my monochrome street imagery can be found on my Instagram page.