Interview: Photographer Dave Tracy-OkoFoto (North Carolina U.S.A.)
Can you tell us a little about you?
I grew up in a small town in the state of Maine surrounded by elderly people and old dusty, dirty building and surroundings. I found a certain fondness and beauty in such surroundings.
How and when did you get into photography?
When I was 9 years old my Mother gave me a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera. I took it to school, and used to photofraph the students. When I was 16 I saved enough money to buy my first 35mm camera, A Pentax K-1000. I photographed local surroundings and people I found interesting.
What does photography mean to you?
I have always had a very active imanination. At this stage in my life, it is a way for me to create. To have an idea or concept in my head and see it come to life in the form of an image is the most wonderful, satisfying feeling I could ever experience.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
It took quite a while to develop my own style. I tried to photograph fashion, glamour, sports etc. I tried to replicate What others were doing at the time, and I was just not very good at it. I knew I had a tremendous love for photographing long forgotten places, so I began to photograph them. My next evolution was to incorporate models an concepts into such locations. This is when I began to truly develop my own style.
Where do you get inspiration from?
From everyday things I see. This can be in the form of a chicken bone, used medical equipment, old tools or eveyday used items. My imagination is such that I can visualize these items being used in a concept. I keep a notebook with me, and write down these ideas daily, and then try to find a model I think can best bring these concepts to life.
Do you think in advance what you want in the picture?
To some degree yes. I know what I want to see in the finished product, but by the same token, I also solicit input from the models as well. They often contribute their own ideas that I would not have thought of that make the images much stronger. I absolutely love joint colaboration with a model.
Studio, on location or both?
When I began to become serious about my art, I met a lifelong friend who also loved to photograph abandoned locations. He also happened to have a studio. He invited me to a session with a professional model. For about three years we utilized that studio on about every model shoot we conducted. After several years I found myself somewhat limited in respect to what I wanted to produce artistically. So I began my own journey into shooting models in abandoned locales. I have not photographed in a studio for several years now. I shoot exclusively in abandoned places.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
A hobbyist. I do sell prints to collectors, and have recently been invited to do a gallery showing of my work, so who knows. I think ultimately all artists would like to become paid professionals.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
It would be very hard to think of just one session. There have been several models I have been fortunate enough to work with where we went into the shoot with definate concepts in mind. Once the session began everything just clicked. It was almost as if we could read each othes minds.There was such wonderful artistic chemistry. We were so attuned with each other. It was an otherworldly experience for sure.
Nikon or Canon?
Favorite lens? Nikon D750. I used to shoot exclusivly with a Singma 24-70mm 1.8 lens. I had several other lenses in my bag that I never really used. I decided to use my Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens, and fell in love with it. I use it probably 80% of the time now.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
A fellow photographer who I highly respect once offered this to me. “Don’t ever compare yourself to anybody else, If you do, the only thing you are doing is holding yourself back by their style. Just do what you want and edit what you like. When you start doing that, everything is way easier and you are not being held back". These words had a profound impact on me, and I will never forget them.
What do you think of our new magazine?
I greratly admire it. It is a wonderful platform for models and photographers to showcase their talents.