ALL PHOTOS (C) BRUCE KATZ
Orchard Beach, Bronx
Bruce, you've had a long and successful career and you're still going strong. How did photography find you and when did your professional career begin?
I was a bit of a self-taught photo geek in high school and maintained my hobby through college. After graduating, I talked my way into a job as an aerial photographer with NOAA—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I flew around the country and shot miles of large format aerial film for mapping and environment impact studies. It was great for building my technical chops.
On my downtime I explored the country with a Domke bag full of Nikons and Kodachrome trying to do HCB-like work in color. I wasn't particularly successful, but I learned a lot that was very useful as I transitioned into doing commercial and editorial work.
South Beach, Staten Island
I love your urban photos from the City Limits project. Tell about the origin and goals of this series.
The project began when I was exploring the aging grandeur of Riis Park in the Rockaways. I came across a collection of berms created to prevent beach erosion. There was a mysterious and ethereal quality to the scene—the antithesis of the traditional urban vista. I just loved the idea that this landscape existed in NYC and I set out to see if I could find more.
Riis Park, Queens
What was your weirdest professional experience?
This may not be weird per se, but when I was on assignment shooting Senator Ted Kennedy's house for Architectural Digest magazine, I needed to style his dressing room for a vignette shot. I had just pulled lots of his personal items out of his closet: his slippers, ties, hats, etc. when he walked in on me and my assistant. I must have blushed profusely, but, thankfully, he just laughed and complimented me on my styling skills, saying "My dressing room has never looked this good." Then he invited us for a glass of wine and a wonderfully amazing personal tour of his place.
Describe the worst meal you've ever had, including the location?
Worst meal was in Cold Bay, Alaska. After 8 hours doing aerial photography we landed for fuel and a "meal" at the airport. It was chicken but completely inedible. Honestly, I think someone cooked a rubber chicken. I tried in vain to convince the pilots to break into our survival kit.
Coney Island, Brooklyn
What has changed the most in the photo world since you began?
The bottom line is that many of the profitable markets have been decimated by the sheer volume of billions of images that are instantly available for very low cost or free and a current cultural mindset that does not put real value on content. Major media has struggled to find formulas to make content profitable and photographers are struggling with less available assignment work. For the enterprising photographer, there are new opportunities too. Many have figured out a way to broadcast themselves on social media, create real value for their work and an audience to go with it.
What exactly do you do for ASMP and why would an emerging photographer want to join?
I serve on the national board of directors for ASMP. We do three big things: business education for photographers, advocacy on legislation (copyright, orphan work, etc.), and foster a social community for our members to learn and network. Emerging photographers benefit greatly from our educational programs and a community of peers and mentors who can help guide them though the craziness of our business.
Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
You can see more of Bruce Katz's work at www.brucekatzphoto.com.