Casey Bennett is a photojournalist and urban landscape / fine art photographer currently based in south central British Columbia, Canada. His clean and clear non-narrative photography of urban and semi-urban spaces is about exploration of places where architecture, landscape and the built environment intersect and a human presence can be felt around the corner. His work is also about transience, and ideas of change being brought in our surroundings and environment. Here’s a short interview with him where he tells about himself, his processes and preferences:
I was born in Grand Forks, British Columbia in 1980. I knew from a pretty early age that I was going to be behind a camera, whether it was as a filmmaker or as a photographer. I took photography in 8th grade and can recall getting excited about the whole process of making an image and taking the film into the darkroom and seeing what I came up with, or didn’t come up with. I picked it up later again in my 20’s and burnt through a lot of film. I made mistakes and never got discouraged — I just kept pushing myself.
When I first started out, my objective was to basically shoot everything and let jobs come at me from every direction and tried to dive into a variety of trends as much as possible. Over the course of time, I spread myself way too thin and burned out to the point where I was exhausted from photography and that’s not a healthy place to be. I had to step back and reevaluate where I was going with this. A photographer friend once told me that you can’t be great at everything and that’s ok — specialize in what you love shooting and don’t generalize in everything because you think that you can. If your hearts not in the job, don’t put yourself into it. It took me some time to settle into that frame of mind. Now I try to focus on personal projects as much as I can — commissions come every once in a while, but I’m very content with this pace.
I made a pretty conscious decision back in January that I was going to shoot more film than digital and it’s been quite successful so far. It wasn’t to be a film snob or anything, but it was a personal challenge for myself to reduce my workflow and get the shot right the first time. I also find that I enjoy the process of shooting film much more now than ever. Each film camera is unique and it causes you to think differently about your approach and how you execute the shot. Each time I load a new roll into my camera, I’ve made a commitment to shooting only 10 or 15 images, depending on the format I’m shooting. Each shot counts now and and as cliche as it sounds, it slows me down and forces to me evaluate each potential exposure. And then there’s scanning — what a wonderful way to spend a quiet afternoon.
It’s a little bit of both. For my personal work, it’s more spontaneous — I’m out for a walk or a drive and something catches my attention. If it’s a commissioned work, I do like to plan ahead and make sure the location works, lighting, testing, etc. but I also embrace the unexpected and teach myself to wait for these moments to reveal themselves. I always find my best work is when I think I’ve wrapped a shoot and something happens that I didn’t see before — I like that element of unpredictability.
They absolutely matter to me. As a photographer and as a dedicated fan of photography, to have that tangible copy of someone’s work in my hands. I try to buy photobooks and zine’s as much as I can, especially from other artists I follow on social media. The idea of putting one together myself is a project that I’ve been seriously considering for quite some time now — at least 2 years. As of late, I’ve been very satisfied with the work I’ve been creating and I feel like the more I keep shooting content, the more I’m going to delay this project, so I think I have to just bite the bullet and just go for it. I admire Cole Barash and his ability to seemingly put out a photobook every few months. I like his dedication to his projects.
I currently use a Mamiya 645 medium format camera, which I love. It’s lightweight and easy to cruise around with. I have a bad back from playing sports as a teenager and this camera fits my situation best. I have 3 lenses, a 55mm, an 80mm and a 150mm — I gravitate towards the 80mm lens the most. I also have a semi-busted Koni Omega Rapid M 6×7 medium format camera. I say it’s semi-busted because it’s permanently stuck on 500 shutter speed, so I can only use it in limited conditions. I shoot film primarily for my personal work and try to incorporate it in commissioned work as well, but I’ll also bring a DSLR with me just to be safe. I don’t feel like I’ve been affected by the ever evolving photography landscape, I guess. I don’t keep up with what’s coming out. I don’t read the blogs or the reviews — I’m just interested in gear that will help me make the images that I want. If I need a specific camera for a job, I can always rent. For now, I’m quite content with what I have.
I’m going to begin applying for some Artist in Residency grants and get myself in a fresh state of mind by putting myself in a new environment. I also plan on getting more of my work on the walls of galleries. I was in a few group shows this year. I’ve been having this desire to continue documenting small towns — more specifically towns that heavily rely on industrial jobs. I come from a blue collar family and it’s something that’s always been a part of my life. I also want to shoot more video — short documentaries, music videos — nothing lined up, though.
The photographers I tend to revisit time and time again are of course, the classics like Richard Avedon, Stephen Shore, William Eggelston, Robert Adams and Mary Ellen Mark. The more contemporary photographers whose work I follow are Todd Hido, Bryan Schutmaat, Valerie Chiang, Chloe Dewe Matthews, Brian Mcswain, Dan Mariner, Megan McIsaac, Kent Andreasen, Amanda Jasnowski, Daniel Shea, Ryan Pfluger, Ryan Shorosky, Simon Deadman, Joel Stevenett — there are literally so many. Other influences include everything from music to films. It’s never ending.
All photos © Casey Bennett : Website