Tuesday, July 28, 2015

{CREATIVE} andrew markowitz

This Is Our Jam is so inspired and in awe of creative individuals and their endeavors. We want to find out how music goes hand in hand with that creativity. This series of interviews with cool and creative people looks at how they view creativity, sources of inspiration, and, of course, the most inspiring music for creative endeavors.

To kick off our series, we chatted with TIOJ Photographer Andrew Markowitz about his creative process, his surprising sources of inspiration, and what makes a good band to photograph. 

Who are you and what do you do that's cool and creative? 
I'm a photographer in the DC area that shoots fashion, concerts and sports. I'm not sure if that makes me cool or creative.

How do you define creativity?
I think creativity is defined by pushing limits and exploring new things, especially trying things you've never tried before. It's very easy to get stuck in a rut of "I know this works, this provides good results, I'm going to stick with this because I know it'll provide a good outcome," and it's hard to look past that. Getting trapped in that mindset, for me, makes things old and stale after awhile. Sometimes it's hard to push past and force yourself to try something you've never attempted before or even try something that you'd told yourself you'd never do. I know when shooting fashion and working on model portfolios I've tried to do things I told myself I wouldn't initially try or wouldn't do. But that's how you grow and that's how you create. Sometimes it comes out bad just like you thought it would and you wasted a few minutes, other times it comes out amazing and you're glad you tried. Most often it comes out alright and you can look at things from a different perspective and go down another avenue.

Click ahead for more!

What do you listen to (or watch or read!) when you're looking for inspiration?
Oddly enough, there's a great documentary on Netflix called Bones Brigade: An Autobiography that covers a group of influential skateboarders from the 1980s. I've only been on a skateboard a handful of times but I've always admired them from afar. Their abilities to create, push past pain, DIY attitude, and overall passion for their craft is something I've always noticed. Aside from awesome vintage skate footage and great visuals guys like Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen talk about what inspires them, their drive and understanding what's possible. Hawk and Mullen would look at others complete tricks and say "this is possible, I can do it," and then take it another step further. As a photographer, I can walk through the mall, flip through a catalog and look at photos and see what is possible. Moreover, I can usually feel confident enough in my skills to where I could create something similar with my own take. I can't tell you how many times I've watched that documentary but I usually have it on in the background when I'm editing photos.

How does music influence your creative pursuit?
 It usually doesn't. But when shooting a concert if I'm shooting a band that moves around a lot, it's more inspiring to catch something great. I can't stand it when a band doesn't move around and stands still, it makes it harder to make them look interesting. But as far as music influencing me for photography, there's not much of a correlation. I'm more influenced by looking at other photos and internalizing and understanding what's going on inside of them and what makes that photo work rather than listening to music. Don't get me wrong, music is almost always on but I don't draw a lot of inspiration from it. I draw more inspiration from the stories behind the artists themselves and knowing what they were thinking or going through or what they had to do to arrive at a certain point.

Do you find yourself particularly drawn to types of music when you're working/creating versus when you're just enjoying life and doing something less focused?
Not in particular, the music I listen to when taking photos or editing photos is the same that I'd listen to while driving down the street or bumming around the house. I'll tell you that I try to avoid EDM at pretty much all costs.

Is there something specific you can listen to that immediately pulls you out of a slump?
Lately, it's been blues. Muddy Waters, BB King, Howlin' Wolf. Music with feeling. Anything with some emotion behind it. That emotion definitely translates and gets me thinking, gets me moving.

Was there a particular song/album/artist that struck or inspired you when you were younger?
Jimi Hendrix and it still does today. I remember the first time I heard one of his albums, "Band of Gypsys" and I had no idea what was going on, it didn't make sense and I'd never heard anything like it before. His music has always struck me and I've been listening to him ever since I was a teenager. Even now, years later, I still hear new and different things that I've never noticed before. He inspires me due to the fact that he was always looking to push boundaries and would work effortlessly to create the sounds that he wanted to hear. He was innovative not just in the way that he played guitar but in the way he used different tools in the recording and playing live and I find the process and innovation behind that way more inspiring and something that I can draw from rather than simply listening to the music. Don't get me wrong, the end result is amazing but the process and the journey to get there is more meaningful to me.

Thanks again to Andrew for giving us such an interesting peek into his creative process. Check out more of Andrew's work here!

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