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Night Lights Dresden
Red Sheet Venice
Interview with Ron Colbroth
EWW: What would be your comments about your work, as a whole?
Ron: I find it hard to judge my own work without sounding too egotistical. Generally, I am trying to see the world from a different perspective. Of course, I don’t always succeed, but I have been told that I do see the world a little differently and appreciate those comments, especially when it comes from someone I respect. Although recently I was submitting to a competition in Athens, Greece, and was trying to decide on a couple of photographs to leave out, my wife said she loved those particular photos and I should include them in my submission. As it turned out, both the photographs were picked – one for the gallery and an additional one for the catalog, so there are days when I am not sure if I am the always the best person to judge my own work.
EWW: Ron, in your Fine Art Section of your portfolio you use black & white with a placement of color only on one object within the photograph. Why is this? What are you trying to achieve by doing this?
Ron: Strangely, it started with a blue surfboard. I had shot a photograph in Honolulu of a surfer coming on to the beach with a blue surfboard and thought about converting the photo to a B&W photo and having the blue of the surfboard as the only color. I like the result, so I started playing with other photographs I found interesting. I talked to those few trusted friends and their enthusiasm spurred me on. I published one book titled RED through blurb.comand has two more in various stages that will hopefully be finished soon. Also, jurors have been responding well to these photographs and several have been in multiple juried shows.
As far as what I am trying to achieve, again that is a difficult question, but I am just trying to bring out something in a photograph that would be lost, if I didn’t convert an image to B&W and then bring out an aspect that, I think, is unique to the photograph. One example is Bordeaux Blue. I was just wandering around Bordeaux when I turned a corner and saw a shutter and a bicycle underneath, which were the same color blue. When I returned to my office and saw the photo on the computer screen, I thought is was nice, but could be improved, so now your eyes are drawn to the shutter and bicycle.
EWW: What do you look for in deciding on what to shoot?
Ron: I suppose some aspect of color or design, but I don’t always succeed, of course. No one does. There are days when I think I am shooting the greatest photographs ever, but later looking at them on a computer screen and realize that they weren’t the greatest photographs ever. Then there are other photos that seem just okay at the time, but they really are truly wonderful. Once during the days of film, I was given ten rolls of film by a Japanese photographer friend who worked on a magazine put out by Konica. I was told I could shoot anything I wanted and they would publish the results. I was on my way to Portugal, but as I started shooting, I realized that if I shot and constantly bracketed that I would probably send the magazine ten photos for possible publication, so I started thinking about every photo I shot. Unless the lighting was tricky, I never bracketed. I was able to send sixty-five photographs and got the front cover, back cover and five pages inside. I still shoot like that with digital cameras. I think everyone should try an exercise where they don’t look at the camera display and pretend they are shooting film because I think they will become better photographers.
EWW: Excluding subject matter, are there themes that consistently run from one work to the other such as colors, perspective, lighting, movement, style, etc.?
Ron: These days I look for single colors in various scenes since I am doing these conversions to B&W. I love shooting with a wide angle lens, especially a 24mm. Ever since I first looked through a camera with a 24mm mounted on it, I have been in love with perspective. I love it for street photography, portraits, etc. I mainly use natural lighting and love working in the early morning and late afternoon. Of course, inclement weather and fog are wonderful, too.
EWW: What do you see, or have experienced, as the most effective way for you to market and promote you and your work?
Ron: I belong to a couple of art organizations here in the DC area that has done a good job of maintaining websites where artist’s work can be viewed, which has led to my work being solicited for a solo show and also shown on Maryland Public Television. I also have been entering more and more national and international competitions, which have gone well. I am very selective about sites where I sell my work but have found a couple that is very professional and well run.
EWW: What is your philosophy about Social Media. Do you use social media platforms to market and promote your work? If you do, which social media platform seems to work the best for you?
Ron: I don’t use Social Media as much as I should, although it works well for some photographers. I find it hard to constantly bombard people about myself. I have a personal Facebook page but don’t have one for my photography business. I did use it to solicit votes for a completion last year, which worked out rather well. I have a Twitter account that I post on infrequently.
EWW: Just to wrap up this interview, do you have any final thoughts about you and your work that you think would be important for others to know about?
Ron: I hope I never have the hubris to think that I can’t keep exploring photography in new ways or learning from others. I recently read a book In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and the Birth of Modernist Art by Sue Roe. It was very interesting to learn how these artists struggled, but they also learned from each other and were constantly changing the face of art as they saw it. Some people love your work and others don’t, so just be true to your own vision, if you strongly believe in your vision.