Thursday, October 30, 2008

Creative Like Us: Robert Hamada

I wanted to create a feature asking working professionals, whose work I admire, the questions I always wanted to know. I want to know about breaking into the creative industry and its trials and tribulations.

Lets go meet Mr. Hamada!


How long have you been a Photographer?
I’ve been taking pictures seriously for about 7 or 8 years.

Where did you go to school?
Started at Brooks Institute of Photography and graduated from the Art Center in Pasadena majoring in Photo.

How did you get started?
I started out as a graphic designer and art director but my life and career hit a crossroad and I was left with literally nothing. It felt like a chance to do something I thought would let me live a life I could only dream about. So without ever having really taken a picture I made a commitment to myself to become an amazing photographer and enrolled in art school. Sounds crazy looking back at it now.

Coming out of art school I really thought I was going to be like the LeBron James overnight success story because around the time of graduation I did an ad campaign and shot for Nylon and Japanese Vogue. I though it would be made from there on but its been a long hard road since.


So like a lot of photographers I started out assisting established shooters. Fortunately I worked with some of the best in the business and got to see the inside and out of some of the biggest campaigns in the world while at the same time trying to shoot small editorials under my own name. Getting started in this business is one of the hardest things. It’s like going to Hollywood to be an actor. Everyone wants to do it but there are only a select few that make it. And sometimes it doesn’t even matter how good you really are.


What are your influences?
I really believe that everything you’ve ever seen or heard or felt. Anything you’ve ever loved or hated somehow make it into your art.

You as the artist, your personality and vision are the basis and everything experienced influences where you take your work.


Where do you find your inspiration?
Films, art books, fashion magazines, old music, dreams, a pretty girl, a dress, a location… It can really come from anywhere I guess. I get these weird obsessions and do tons of research on it but I am constantly looking at things trying to stay inspired. Once I find that one thing the rest seems to follow.

What was your 1st job like?
It wasn’t quite a “job” but some of my first published pictures came from a road trip I did with a close friend and muse who had modeled for David LaChappelle, Terry Richardson and Chanel. We hit the road for 3-4 days going from LA to Vegas stopping at all of these small towns along the way. Just as we hit Interstate 15 it started snowing, which was very odd, but one of my favorite things about Caroline is that she is such a free spirited exhibitionist. I don’t even think we discussed it, we just both knew and took these beautiful nudes of her in the snow. It was so cold that the emulsion of the film cracked which shows how tough she is. We also snuck into the largest gun store I had ever seen, pretended like we were tourists and did some shots of her in front of these weird taxidermy animals. It was all a lot of fun and I loved the pictures. We did like a 30pg story, which of course was edited down to 12pgs and I was supposed to get paid $200 for it but never saw the money.

Who do you believe helped you on your journey?
I’ve been lucky to have had such great mentors, Paul Jasmin and Carol Leflufy. Some of my closest friends are very talented photographers themselves. It’s helped me tremendously to have people who I can relate to on this level.

What was your biggest success? Your biggest failure?
I hope my biggest successes are yet to come and my biggest failures are already behind me. My career is really just beginning and I feel like I’m still waiting for my big break. Some people see me as being successful but I guess the biggest success is that I’m still chasing the dream and am finding people that can relate to the work. Failure would be me getting a “real job.”


What are 2 things that someone must do to get where you are now?
I talk about this with a lot of photographers from people just starting to people who have been doing well for a while. And we always come to the same conclusions. It seems as though you either need to be well connected or affluent enough to not need to work or be very talented, have a unique vision and have unflinching determination. It’s a tough business and there’s no blueprint to success. And there are different paths, you can get there with your vision but the shortcut is in selling out. You just have to know what’s important to you.

Where do you go from here?
There are lots of magazines and campaigns I’d like to shoot while someday I’d really like to be able to work on a book and a show.

What's the funniest thing about you?
My middle fingers are crooked and so is my spine.

What else do you to for fun?
Finding time for friends is very important. Obsessive youtubing, catching up on sleep, shopping for books, looking through magazines, but right now the most fun I have is still when I’m taking pictures.

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