BENJAMIN RUTHERFORD - photographer
Benjamin Rutherford is a 25 year old African photographer. While his work has the depth and wisdom of someone who has spent multiple eternities on the continent, it also covers the ground only an unencumbered youth with a lustful eye could achieve. His profound work arrested us from the moment we caught sight of it, so we had to find out more.
1) Who are you?
I'm a 25-year-old professional photographer and artist. I grew up in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa and am now based between the UK, Australia and Zambia working on various long form documentary projects.
2) Describe your medium and process for your photos...
My process takes time, sometimes maybe too much time. I'm either shooting or thinking about shooting, mostly the latter. I am addicted to research, whether it's spending all my money on every visual orientated publication I can get my hands on or reading just about anything that's slightly related to a new project I'm considering. When I'm doing a story I get very involved, it consumes all my attention. For my last three projects I have lived and worked with my subjects for months on end, and often, I find I have only taken a couple pictures in a week. As for medium, I love my mamiya rz 67, but it's a logistical nightmare when travelling. I shoot pretty much all my professional work with my canon 5D, Logistically it makes sense and I find the medium easy to work with. The freedom to be able to experiment without spending a bomb on film processing is a bonus.
3) How did you find your passion, who and what influences your work?
It was progressive, evolving out of a love for the visual and a dislike of staying in one place for too long. I never really took much interest in photography when I was young, for instance I took more interest in the illustrations in national geographic than the photos. When I found a course on photojournalism I decided to give photography a shot. It was and still is the process of finding and creating the images that I enjoy the most, and that's where it took off for me. My friends are a huge influence; there is intense competition between us. It’s extremely important for us to have that creative community to share and develop ideas with, to help built an engaging visual narrative. As for other influences, literature, art and film probably affect my work more than other photographers.
4) What excites you about your work? What do you struggle with?
To be honest I have never been a fan of my own work’s aesthetic. To me the most exciting thing about my work is working out how to improve what I have, how to push the boundaries in a projects next stages. I struggle with my own pressure and keeping my ideas obtainable, I'm always slightly disappointed with what I have after a trip, but that's what keeps me going back. I can't remember which editor I heard it from but it's a quote that sticks with me, ‘we are up to our necks with good photographers, but up to our ankles with good ideas.
5) What are your goals, where do see yourself going?
I have no idea; I’m just hustling and taking it one step at a time. I'm currently working on a collaborative book with Photographer Joshua Cunliffe, and starting to expand into film making to compliment my projects. The only way I can explain it is like driving at night, I can only see a few metres ahead but I know the rest of the road is there. With any luck it will involve some place warm where I can surf and have a dog.