Interview with Photographer Paul Aresu and Digital Department Manager Mike Moskowitz who recently joined the roster of artists at TM/AR.
How many years have you been in the business?
PA: When I started CBGB’s was just opening!
MM: Over 15 Years
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
PA: Actually both. I am self and school taught. I learned to shoot early on in my dad’s studio. After H.S. I continued my photography education at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. I think the early learning process and then the continuation of my photographic education instilled both a practical and aesthetic set of values in my career.
MM: I am an artist of traditional medium, painting and drawing. My father was also a photographer who taught me about the photography side. I took it to the next level by learning the technical aspects of being a digital artist and more advanced photography at the School of Visual Arts.
When did you take your first photograph?
MM: Probably as a toddler as my father always had a camera around, and since he eventually owned a commercial photo lab in Manhattan, film developing was free for me. Total Bonus!!
What led you to photography?
MM: To see how much farther I could take my art, and the beauty of creating something that can’t exist in reality.
What professional goals do you still have for yourself?
PA: I love collaborating with talented and visionary image creators. I have been very lucky in that I have worked with some outstanding people through the years. I want to collaborate with the best and brightest Art Directors in the business. I would like to delve deeper into my fine art projects. Projects that I conceptualize and produce myself.
MM: Whatever the next great campaign is, I want to do it. Oh, and there are still places in the world I want to travel to.
What is your greatest professional achievement?
PA: I don’t think it is one thing that comes to mind. I think the greatest achievement is longevity in the business. It is about being flexible and willing to learn new ways of seeing. Actually, an achievement I am proud of is that we were one of the earliest to embrace the digital revolution in photography. We were right there when the first digital backs came out and were using the earliest versions of photoshop on Compaq computers.
MM: Being able to do what I love and get paid for it.
Who do you admire from your profession, past or present, and why?
PA: If I must name a name, I would say Richard Avedon. In my opinion, he forged the way we look at portrait photography. He combined an elegant style of lighting in his studio work to create the standards by which we gauge photography today.
But I must say I admire and respect all the photographers who are having a successful career in this quickly morphing, image saturated world. Photographers are feeling the pressure of less work from the historical sources.
If life were “as good as it gets” – what’s there? If your career were “as good as it gets” – what’s there?
MM: I think that was a movie with Jack Nicholson.
What’s missing from your career that you could add to make it complete?
MM: This interview of course!
What part of your work do you find most demanding?
PA: I would have to say the business part of photography. And there are two parts to that. One is finding and keeping new and interesting clients, the other is the day to day focus of the legal/financial side of the business. The estimating process is very demanding. Clients today will not hesitate to ask for 5 or 6 different versions of an estimate. It is all part of the business but it really takes a lot of time out of the day.
Another demanding part is the actual physicality. You must keep yourself healthy if you want to have a lasting career. Keep yourself in shape if you want to go deep.
What is your creative philosophy?
PA: I believe that a photographer must have conviction when pointing the camera and shooting an image. You must believe that what you are composing through the viewfinder-at that moment-is pushing your personal/aesthetic boundaries. One must continually ask the question: Is this image I am making, something I have never seen or done before?
MM: There is always a solution to achieve a great image, we just have to find it
Can you tell us about your state of mind when you are shooting/creating?
PA: I am totally focused on the job at hand. Really dialed in. When I get that way I don’t even think about food or water. I can go the whole day like that. That is the why I love this job. It’s not work, it’s passion. Sort of like a marathon runner.
MM: Being in the moment, as well as thinking three steps ahead of what may come up, or needs to be done.
Could you describe how you create your images? What do you look for?
PA: I look for longevity. I look for an image that I can stare at for hours and never get tired of it. It doesn’t happen that often but when it does, I know I have something special.
MM: Something that draws the viewer in, allows them move around the image with intrigue.
How do you work best – in teams, with assistants, on location, in studio, etc…?
PA: I like working with a team. I like the whole production aspect of a photo shoot. I love getting to the location, and figuring it out with my assistants what is the best way to solve the puzzle. I like the camaraderie. I also like the wrap parties after the shoot.
MM: With a team of people who are all working together to create a great campaign, large or small, it doesn’t matter.
What is your work philosophy?
PA: I was and will always be a workaholic! I love the work. It almost feels not like work at all. If you have the passion for what you do, work seems like play.
MM: Show up earlier than everyone else, and always get the job done, and have a good time doing it.
What is the ideal relationship for you with your clients?
PA: The ideal relationship is one of collaboration and respect. Both parties must revere and regard the relationship with reverence.
MM: Mutual respect both professional and personal, as well as a memorable experience that they want to repeat again and again.
What adjectives describe who you are now, at your core? What adjectives describe who you want to be in the future?
PA: Hardworking, honest, stubborn, forgiving, happy, physical, athletic, ….
How did you achieve your vision?
PA: Probably through my parents, and my environment. I grew up in NYC and that definitely molds your view of the world.
MM: By opening up my eyes and seeing not just looking.
What are you looking for thru the viewfinder? What thoughts go thru your mind?
MM: I wish Apple would offer a matte screen on the MacBook Pro again so I would get rid of this sun glare on location.
What are some obstacles you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
MM: That puddle by the curb this morning on 33rd street was a little tough, but I was able to jump over it.
What is the toughest feedback you’ve ever received and how did you handle it?
MM: Feedback I don’t agree with. You are never going to like everything, and they have their reasons. I like to be a problem solver, and find out the root of the feedback, and have a discussion to make everyone happy. I have knowledge and ideas that the other parties may not have thought of. Talk it out, and find out if I can offer a solution. In the end, I am always willing to go with the feedback, but wouldn’t be able to live with myself without trying to help the campaign out.
What are your long-term goals?
PA: To continue to love what I do, to have passion and focus on every job I shoot and to make lots of friends along the way.
MM: To finish this interview, just kidding.
What’s your advice to handling rejection?
PA: One must move on quickly and do not dwell on the past.
MM: Don’t get rejected, and if you do, don’t be happy about it. If you do, then it is their loss, and you just work even harder the next time to prove it.
How would you describe your brand?
MM: Energy, focus and fun.
What’s your advice for photographers just starting out?
MM: It’s not going to happen overnight. You have to put in the time, learn everything you can about both the business as well as the artistic side if you are going to have a sustained presence. Anyone can pick up a camera, and click a shutter.
How do you market yourself?
MM: With myself, Paul and our team – we are a complete package that you rarely find. Paul lights and takes the pictures with myself right there with him comping up the images on set making sure all elements work together, and in the agency’s layouts. Working as a team, and welcoming in all agency and clients to the process, always creates a great campaign. Together we can handle the shoot, and all post production with a firsthand knowledge.
What inspires you?
MM: Innovation and creativity in any aspect of life.
What are some of your influences?
MM: The number 4, and the letter D.
Where do you seek inspiration?
PA: Inspiration can come in many forms. Lately it has been in T.V. and movies. I love looking at commercials also. I get a lot out of trying to figure out how the commercials were shot. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I love seeing new locations and incorporating the landscapes into new composite imagery.
MM: How I see light, shadow and color in our everyday lives.
Would you have any advice to artists/photographers just starting out?
PA: Take lots of pictures, develop a style, shoot lots video, and edit it, and get in front of as many decision makers as possible. If you are passionate about your work, someone else will be also. You just have to keep looking for those people.
What is your life’s purpose or mission? How do you stay faithful to that?
MM: Create something, make it amazing, and have fun doing it.
What are you passionate about, gets your blood pumping, or gives you joy?
PA: I am passionate about music. When I am not shooting or retouching, I play guitar. Especially the blues. So much fun. I jam with a few of my friends and we have a little band that plays out occasionally. I get lost in the music sometimes. We can play for hours and before you know it, it is 2 o’clock in the morning.
MM: I love cars, especially muscle cars. They have always been a true love. Cars are pieces of art to me that are functional. A design, or creation that can be an extension of a person. Oh yeah, and with a manual transmission. If I wanted a paddle shifter, I’d play a video game.
How do you approach your down time?
PA: When I’m not shooting, there is always something to do in the studio… I like to keep busy when I’m not behind the camera. Out of the studio, you can find me working out, running, and generally playing some kind of sport. Basketball is always good to get your blood going.
MM: I’ll tell you when I have some...