Interview with Street Photographer Askar Khamdamov

I’m happy to share this interview with you all on a talented photographer from New York but currently resides and shoots in San Francisco. By the look of his body of work, it’s almost as if Askar went back in time to the 60s or 70s and made these photographs. The perfect combination of subject matter, environment, and usage of film is well executed. Enjoy the interview below but better yet the photos.

 

Hi Askar thanks for doing this. Where do you live and how does this influence your photography?

Hi Tim, thanks for the opportunity.

A few years ago I moved to San Francisco Bay Area from New York. The landscapes at both places are very different, and the new environment has been a really great inspiration. When you see beautiful San Francisco streets with Victorian houses, unusual plants, and classic cars, this mix is a great influence.

Also, the move itself was a big push towards exploring this beautiful and diverse area. Even today I still have yet so much to see and photograph.

If you had to explain your work to a senior citizen how would you describe it?

With my film photos, I preserve the moments that surrounded them, when they were young.

 

What frustrated you about photography?

Not many people appreciate the process and the idea. Even though I try not to invade anyone’s privacy, I was attacked more than once while holding the camera.

Oh, and prices for the gear of course.

 

What are you most proud of in terms of your work?

It’s very cool when people feel that my photos take them back in time.

 

What are you trying to say with your photographs?

Time goes on, things change. Appreciate what surrounds us. In a few years from now, we will be emotionally looking back at our “Instagram” shots of today.

 

What motivated you to do this series (if it is a series what’s the title)?

My “San Francisco treasures” motivated by emotions I have when I spot something extraordinary on the streets. It’s really easy to fall in love with San Francisco. At this point, I guess some New Yorkers may get irritated. Nonetheless, then you also add a classic car, and there you have a beautiful image, which can be easily mistaken for the moment from the 60s or 70s. Isn’t that great?

 

Did this series/body of work evolved organically or was this project always in the back of your mind. Could you tell us how it happened?

As a kid, I was a Hollywood movie junkie. I was nuts about American cars in the movies; they were rare in Central Asia back then. It happens that when I spot some classic now, it makes me stop, take a look and sometimes makes me wish I had a key.

When I realized that I could take a film photo of the car and that photo can bring back memories of mine and other people’s childhood, I decided to make this series. And people seem to like it.

 

 

How do you know you got something worthy of a photo? Walk us through that creative process? Is it a type of car? Neighborhood? Does it need both for you to make a photograph?

Usually, a car catches my attention first, but if the environment isn’t right, I often pass. I find it more natural when a car blends into surroundings. In most cases, it’s also crucial that I exclude other vehicles unless they add value.

Later on, looking at the photos, you start noticing houses, electrical poles, trees, fences, trash, and other details of a city. All of it has to be in some sort of balance so that you want to capture it in a first place.

In some cases, I spot a nice car and wait until the environment changes. Or light, or some other detail that makes a difference. Often the vehicle disappears while I wait, then I lie to myself that it would be a waste of film anyway. But sometimes I get lucky, take a photo and then get a fifty or so of new Instagram followers.

 

Why film? Talk about that?

No “Instagram” has come up with a nice enough filter 🙂

I have a few digital cameras and use them for family photos. But no matter how much I pay for cameras, glass and soft, they just can’t replicate what I get from some $15 thrift store find with, let’s say Superia 200. All the imperfections, waiting while being processed and unpredictable results create a special kind of excitement. People get nuts when they see film cameras and photos. And personally I just can’t get enough.

It’s probably the same reason why some people drive classic cars, read paper books, or stay in the marriage for years – love.

 

Does nostalgia have anything to do with it?

For sure.

 

Because you shoot film are you more conservative clicking the shutter button?

Oh yes! With virtually every shot I hear my wife counting the cost of it. If I want to keep shooting film and staying married, I got to do it smart.

 

What’s your dream car and did you happen to come across it on the streets and make a photograph?

I would say Datsun 240Z. I do come across it almost every day, as a lady drives one in my neighborhood. I posted photos of it earlier.

 

What is your dream assignment/project?

I have this weird need of going to Australian Outback. There I would love to photograph the life in remote areas and aboriginal people. Go figure.

 

When you aren’t making pictures you are doing what?

Help small businesses with their online presence. I run a boutique web design studio for a few years now.

Away from work, I like exploring California with my family.

 

Convince us digital shooters why we should shoot film.

That’s a tough one. You should not. I noticed a strong drive in film camera prices on eBay recently. Kendall Jenner mentioned that she uses Contax T2 camera and I guess this drove a lot of digital shooters towards a film.

Seriously speaking, this is just a different kind of experience. Plain better, more exciting, more authentic and rewarding, photos look better, it makes you slow down and think. Some say the film has a soul, or even film is being a real kind of photography.

But, you’ll never know unless you try, right?

 

When did you feel like you’ve arrived in photography? Like hey I’m pretty good at this.

I haven’t. Usually, when I become good at something I feel a need of doing something else. I guess once this happens with photography, I will probably buy a yacht and go sailing.

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Links:

Instagram: @jpgjournal

Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/kaskar/

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