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Interview questions-input please

edited June 2014 in news & discussions
If you had a chance to interview your favorite photographers, what would you asks?

1) What drives/inspires you?
2) Who and/or what are your influences?
3) How long did it take for you to stop comparing your work to others?
4) Does brand really matter?
5) Outside of your expertise/specialty, is there anyone that you think is....great? (I am still working on this one)
6) Any photographers out there now that you feel are being over looked?

I have more but would like some input.

Also, what should one not ask...boring questions to avoid...



  • Are you interviewing for yourself or for a newspaper or other publication? I have to be honest here, I think your proposed questions are boring, cliche and vague and fall into the 'should be avoided' category. But that's just my opinion. If in fact they are cliche, they must be also popular or they wouldn't be cliche so follow your instinct and go with what you think is right. Depends what your goal is. If I were interviewing for myself I'd try to learn something, maybe technical, maybe inspirational. If I were interviewing for a newspaper I'd try to entertain readers by offering interesting info about my subject i.e. Have you ever had a disaster of a shoot? What's the toughest shoot you ever had? Who was your fave/most difficult subject?
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    I must agree - I've ignored similar email interviews.

    I have to feel the interviewer has put some effort into it (unless it is in a specific regular format for some website.)
  • ErinCErinC Member
    Mine would be really specific to the type of work my favourite does (so bear that in mind - shes a newborn photographer) but might include:

    - How many set ups do you attempt for each session
    - What area of your photography are you currently focussing on developing / improving?
    - How can someone new to this industry ensure they are constantly improving shoot to shoot?
    - What resources did you / do you rely on to further your learning and knowledge?
    - During a shoot, what are the three most important things to consider / be aware of?
    - If you could only take one lense and body to a session, which would you choose and why?

    My questions though are pretty much all coming from a place of wanting advice that would improve my own work.
  • ErinC: Thanks for those suggestions-excellent questions!

    Neil: Me asking for help here is because I am putting some effort into it. What are some of the questions you wish would have been asked during some of your interviews. Surely you walked away from a few feeling like you could have offered more. What would you ask Don McCullin :)

    Skipperlange: Interview me? Thanks for the chuckle. I don't think all of the questions I wrote down are cliche and some of the answers might be eye brow raising.... Especially 3, 5 and 6

    Thanks for the three questions you offered (1 and 2 could/should be the same questions) but think of some more! You obviously have an opinion on the subject so lets have it :)

    There is a good chance that I will have the opportunity to interview known and unknown photographers and I am interested in real questions.... As Neil mentioned, I don't want to approach anyone with only "in the box' questions.

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    travelintrevor said: Me asking for help here is because I am putting some effort into it.
    Oh, I wasn't knocking you. I completely got your intent here. :)
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    travelintrevor said: What would you ask Don McCullin :)
    I'd like to do a Between Two Ferns style interview with photographers, and ask them stuff like:
    What's your favorite f-stop?
    If you could use only one lens, what would it be?

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    And just in case anyone isn't familiar with Zach Galifianakis' interviews:

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    With that, seriously, see if you can surprise and amuse the person you are interviewing.
  • Hi trevor , I think this topic is realy interesting ,
    If i were interviewing some one , my burning questiong would be .
    Have you felt like giving up at any point ,?
    What frustrations do you have ( if any ) ?
    What do u get out of from taking that photograph at that point in time., ie are u amazed you have recorded an image out of nothing.
    If you could encourage new photographers in there learning abilitys to improve , and get through the tough times , what would you say.. ?
    If you were to knuckle down your images through out your career what are your top three photos you have taken and look back on .?
    And what is it abouth these images that grab you ?

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Rudy .. I hope my comments didn't appear too harsh. Not meant that way.

    I was thinking about this today - the interview questions will obviously depend on the intended audience.
    Is it meant to be photographic instruction for the reader?
    Or, insight into the specific photographer's life?
    Or interest in the photographers motivation and thought-process and philosophy.

    Or perhaps even all of that.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    edited June 2014
    Of the interviews with me that I've posted in Tangents ...

    ... the most interesting one for me was the discussion w/ Stephen Cotterell.

    As I mention in the post:
    What makes this podcast interview different than others I have done, is that there was no theme here. Usually a podcast interview would center on something specific like flash photography.

    With this interview however, Stephen’s questions were more freeform, and it was the first time I’ve really talked about where I come from as a photographer. How my career started, and how it is progressed, and where I’d like to see it head towards.

  • "Skipperlange: Interview me? Thanks for the chuckle. I don't think all of the questions I wrote down are cliche and some of the answers might be eye brow raising.... Especially 3, 5 and 6"

    Hi Rudy, Yea, I did not mean to be insulting, just honest, as I thought that would be more help. The questions just seemed vague and difficult to answer and would not lead to interesting or entertaining or insightful answers. But if you like them, go for it. I think the more specific you can be with questions the more you detail and color you will get from interview subjects and you need detail to keep your readers' interest. And it is very important who your audience is. That's why I said are you interviewing for yourself or a publication. I think you misunderstood, I did not say were you interviewing yourself, but FOR yourself, as in is this an opportunity to sit down with a great photographer and learn something? If it's for a publication is it Professional Photographer or The New Yorker? Different readers.

  • Rudy, you should check out this interview. It may help you as you think of your questions. I've only watched half of it but I'm finding it pretty interesting. Cliff Mautner is a great photographer -- almost as good as Neil :-). He is very successful and is self-taught. Seriously, he's very good and his style is pretty different from Neil's.

  • Cliff is fantastic even if some of his ideas are a bit nutty...but then you can be nutty when you have people do your editing...his teachings have led some people down the wrong path but I digress....

    Thanks everyone for the input thus far....I have 10-15 core questions and the rest would then come spontaneously/specific for the individual.

    And Neil...I enjoyed the "Between two ferns"...maybe I can do a segment called "Between two lenses" and I can interview you about the BFT where I pretend it stands for Big fu@#ing Testicles and ask why you so freely share your medical issues with other photographers :)

  • Its weird how things lead to one another , as well as neil ive been a follower of this guy For some time and his interview lead me on to Dean collins the true bare basic of light. There i bought the 3 dimension dvd ,i keep getting pushed right back to the raw start of it all. , and Neils interview with steve cotterell lead me to but Henri Cartier - Bresson of which i am currently reading.
    So any questions to be asked in an interview can be influenced by others ie my self.
    The steve cotterell is well worth a listen.
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