In a time where people run behind money & professional success, Josh Katz is a true artist who chases his dreams & truly takes his inspirations seriously. A man who literally goes out of his comfort zone to learn, be inspired, & capture that perfect frame! The world doesn’t make enough of this kind anymore. We are glad to host an interview with this young dreamer & a determined artist, Josh Katz on our blog.
- What made you take up such a creative profession seriously when you were just 9 years old?
I started playing with cameras—making YouTube videos and taking photos—as an innocent hobby. I still like to think of photography as a passion, rather than a ‘creative profession’, to stay inspired. Even as the professional obligations mount, I make an effort to keep certain aspects of photography pure and detached from work. If walking around NYC shooting street photos ever feels like a job, I’m doing something wrong.
- You love talking to strangers. Is there anything in particular about these conversations that inspires your creative journey?
I believe it’s the other way around—my creative journey inspires these conversations. I’m deeply interested in meeting new people, having strange conversations, and ending up in places I’d never expect. Photography is my tool to indulge these curiosities.
Sometimes I see a character on the streets and want to learn their story. Other times, it’s an entire culture I want to explore. While driving through Texas on a solo road trip last year, I decided I wanted to learn about monster truck culture, so I offered a free photoshoot to a professional driver to earn credentials to photograph Monster Jam. After a quick photo shoot, I spent the next six hours roaming the stadium, talking to everyone and taking it all in.
- Which is your favorite place to shoot in your city? Any reason why?
Somewhere I’ve never been before. New York City is endless and no matter how well I think I know the city, there’s always another neighborhood with a fascinating enclave that I didn’t know existed.
- Which is your favorite place to shoot outside your city? Please share an incident you remember & love, that occurred there.
Anywhere I feel out of my comfort zone, whether it’s a backroads American town or an exotic city. Hanoi completely blew my mind as a street photographer. The city’s population density makes New York feel spacious and the streets are constantly lively.
I had a fantastic time photographing throughout Israel, too. In Tzfat, I shot a few street photos of a group of middle-school-aged boys. Once they came closer, I gestured asking to shoot portraits of them (since they didn’t speak any English) and we shared some laughs through the process. Then, they beckoned me into an unmarked building with a rickety door.
I had no idea what I was about to walk into, but they seemed friendly so I leaned in and followed them. It turned out to be their lunchroom, where I’m surrounded by dozens of Orthodox students with all eyes on me as the random American tourist in the room. No one speaks English but they eagerly pose for photos and offer me a sandwich, too.
My camera leads me into the most wonderful, bizarre situations. I end up in places I’d never expect, communicating entirely with body language and laughter, all thanks to photography.
- Do you emphasize on the “right technique” or the “instinct” to get a good shot?
The two go hand in hand. Instinct and curiosity gravitate you toward a certain photo opportunity. The proper technique leads to the successful execution of said photo. I love the photographic flow state when the two come together.
- Can you share with us the process that went into creating The Outdoor Photography Course which is running on PhotoWhoa?
During my senior year of college, while I was getting a business degree, I spent two intensive months filming this nine-hour course. Every video was shot in my living room, which had massive floor-to-ceiling windows. To achieve consistent lighting with a low budget, I built a wall of tin foil to hang up, every single day, to block out all the natural night, essentially turning my entire apartment into a cave for two months. I worked like a maniac to meet an intense production schedule, never taking a day off and constantly writing, filming, or editing. My roommates definitely hated me throughout this process.
- Who/what do you draw inspiration from?
I love Instagram because I can follow people’s active creative progression, which feels more helpful and inspiring than only marveling at the greats. All the iconic street photographers—Alex Webb, Winogrand, Frank, Parr, Gilden, etc— are fantastic. The art and culture surrounding skateboarding are also constant sources of inspiration for my creativity and outtake on life.
- Please give our readers aspiring to make it big in this genre of photography, a parting message.
I’m not sure if I’ve ‘made it big’ yet, but I’m grateful to get to work in this space. I’ll remind everyone that being a successful artist requires great work and great compromise. While your favorite artists may portray a flashy lifestyle full of dream projects, there’s often plenty of unglamorous work going on behind the scenes. I always remind myself that Ansel Adams shot commercial work into his 70s—even after he’d achieved international acclaim.
You can check out more from the work of Josh Katz here.