Rocco Basile Interviews
Today I welcome photojournalist Rocco Basile of Rocco Basile Photography to talk about getting the shot, equipment, and artistic motivation.
Q. How do you create the perfect photo setting?
A. In the studio, it's about having a plain background to bring the focus to the subject. The subject becomes the setting. Capturing their essence through their common facial expressions and body language becomes my goal. In nature, finding the angle or view others miss provides the unique setting. For instance, Ansel Adams captured nature views many had visited, but chose unique views that captured their expanse and depth.
Q. Which photographer influenced you and why?
A. Adams influences my travel photography. I carry over what I observe in his images to all of my black and white photography. He mastered light, shading, depth, and sense of place.
Q. What do you want your photographs to express?
A. I hope that the portraits especially express the genuine personality of the subject. I want the person's mom or best friend to look at my photo and say, "That is so him/her."
Q. What would you tell a beginner is the best camera equipment to start with?
A. Whatever you have handy. To start photographing subjects and places, that matters. Use a cell phone camera, a disposable, digital or film. Just begin capturing. When you have the money, buy a camera that lets you grow. I shoot with Canons. The Rebel makes a good starter camera for a serious hobbyist.
Q. What is the best photo editing program?
A. Almost everyone uses Photoshop for a great reason - it is the best. They provide numerous versions. A hobbyist can begin with the free mobile app and move up to the professional grade software as they grow as a photographer.
Q. Where do you find your motivation?
A. You don't find motivation. It lives inside you. Any type of artist - they have a need to create. My mom saw it in me when I was very young. She encouraged creativity and got me started. She made time for museum trips with me. I started out creative and she helped me find the outlet for it.
Q. I am a blogger and take a lot of still shots. How can I get the best still shot?
A. The basics are pretty simple. Choose a light colored, plain background like a white or off-white wall. Shoot with natural light coming through a window or skylight. Improve that with bright, white light.
Use the manual settings on the camera or camera phone. Start out on the lowest ISO setting. It reduces digital noise. Set the white balance to "Flash." If using a camera, use "Manual" mode. That leaves you in control of aperture and shutter speed. Shoot in RAW mode to increase your editing options. Take a test photo and check the histogram. Adjust so your subject doesn't appear to dark or too blown out. Try to find an unusual angle that doesn't overly shadow your subject, but provides a unique view.
Q. What is your favorite lens and why?
A. I'm a huge fan of the Canon EF 85mm f1.8. It provides sharp, quick focus. I use it for portraits. It costs less than one-third of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM and really does a better job.
Q. What is your greatest accomplishment as a photographer?
A. That people return to view my work. If I am in a show or my work is hung in a museum, and I see someone who has already viewed the work return to it for another look, I know I have created something that raised curiosity or particularly engaged them or challenged them. That is when I know I have done my job as an artist and communicator. They looked twice.
Q. Thank you for your insights today, Mr. Basile. I have enjoyed talking with you.
A. You are welcome. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my passion.