Maybe you've seen the picture above, or maybe you haven't. Either way, look at it carefully and appreciate a passing moment in time that's never going to be repeated. That is the work of Craig Semetko, who captured this picture, which I regard as one of the greatest I have ever seen. To have all the elements come together for a split moment is almost unbelievable, but that is what Craig's work is all about.
A couple of years ago I produced a video in LA on photographer Craig Semetko. Admittedly when I first heard of Craig and saw his work I was shocked I hadn't heard of him sooner. Well there was good reason, because Craig hadn't been around (shooting professionally) for very long. In some ways, he was a newbie, but his work reflected the qualities of a skilled veteran. The fact is he starting shooting seriously in 2000 in the film days but didn't make his work public until 2008 when he co-exhibited with legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson at the Open Shutter Gallery in Durango, Colorado. While many could argue that digital photography is responsible for making 'everyone' a photographer, the rise in photography's popularity has also brought us some gems in the rough - like Craig.
The quality of Craig's work, and rate of improvement is truly astonishing, and in just a short amount of years Craig has transformed himself from a professional comedy writer and actor (that's right!) to a globally respected documentary photographer, who has earned himself the endorsement of photography icon Elliott Erwitt of Magnum Photos. Mr. Erwitt wrote the foreword for Semetko's book, "Unposed," and writes of Craig, "In my book he is the essential photographer. That is, the one who sees what others could not have seen."
Recently I asked Craig a few short questions to go with this brief article.
1. Favourite camera and lens?
Leica M9, 35 summilux ASPH.
2. Most Influencial Photographer to you?
3. Biggest mistake you keep repeating?
I keep forgetting to put film in the camera...wait, that's not it. In general, I need to manage my time better. And it drives me nuts when I realize I've taken too many pictures of an uninteresting subject and not enough of an interesting one.
4. When you're lacking motivation and inspiration, you......?
...read books, watch movies, look at books by HCB, Robert Frank, Elliott Erwitt, William Klein, Larry Fink, Garry WInogrand, etc., drink two pots of coffee, and get my passport stamped. Not necessarily in that order.
5. Key to being a better photographer in 5 words or less?
Just take the damn picture!
Craig's latest body of work is on America. He drove throughout the country for roughly a year and a half from the 4th of July 2011 in Independence, California through President Obama's Inauguration Day 2013 in Washington, D.C. The work is somewhat of a departure from Unposed, going deeper into its subject matter. The first exhibition devoted to the America work opens this Friday, May 10th at the Open Shutter Gallery in Durango, Colorado, and Craig hopes to have a book of the work published by the end of the year.