IPA Interviews with Winning Photographers

Interview with

Scott Bell

1st Place in Winter Sports 2015

What is your background?

BFA degree in Commercial Photography from RIT. Assisted a multitude of photographers in all styles and genres in South Florida before shooting on my own.

Explain your style in 100 words

Conceptual lifestyle imagery that utilizes digital retouching to present ideas that mix reality and fantasy. My conceptual sports imagery is hyper-realistic and is digitally manipulated enough to add visual impact that grabs the viewers attention.

How did your style change over time?

I use to let whatever assignments I was getting define my “look”. It was never my vision so I started creating more images that I liked and that defined me. My portfolio is now 80% self-assigned projects and is more inline with what is in my head.

What photograph left a lasting impression on you and why?

Not a specific photograph but the work of Jerry Uelsmann always inspires me! His mastery at combining images to create an impactful and emotional image is something that I admire. I never developed the same darkroom skills that he uses but his work is what started me working with photo-illustration in the digital darkroom.

When did you discover your passion for photography?

The usual path, Mickey Mouse camera and Dad’s home darkroom.

What jobs have you done other than being a photographer?

Except for one summer that I worked construction, I have always worked in something photo related. Started out selling cameras at a JCPenny’s. Worked in a film lab and photographed tourists in the Catskill resorts. After college, I worked in a boudoir studio and then started freelancing on commercial projects.

How do you know when a body of work is finished?

That is really hard. I try to keep in mind a story about a grade school art teacher whose students always had the best artwork. When she was asked how she does it she replied, ” All of the students have potential, her job is to know when to take the work away and tell them it is done”. My version of this is that I do a “victory print” to hang on a cork board. Once it is there, it is done! No more changes (unless I discover a technical issue of course).

Is there one photograph of yours that you are very proud of? Why?

I’ve only printed one of my images to hang on my own wall. My friends and family all have images of mine in their homes but I never liked seeing my own shots every day. There is always something that could have been done better and I don’t like thinking about that in my home. The image that did make the cut is a large pano of leafless trees in the woods. A snow storm was just starting and gave the woods a ghostly kind of appearance. I love being in the outdoors and this image captured that mood and feeling I was experiencing while there and brings me back there every time I look at it.

What was your first camera?

I was given a film camera when I was about 7 as a birthday present. It was Mickey Mouse’s head with the lens in his nose. I made my parents broke with all the film I put through that thing! My mom helped me enter some of the images in the county fair and I started winning ribbons and some cash. I was hooked!

What role does the photographer have in society?

I think that is different for everyone who picks up a camera. Some want to share an experience, educate or shine the light on a wrong in our world. Some just want to show what they had for lunch. For me, in the commercial, realm of advertising, it is about the challenge of taking an idea and bringing it to reality to share with others.

 

You can contact Scott here

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