Artist Spotlight: Fred Othero
BY Albert Smith
September 25 2010 1:30 AM ET
The Advocate: Why are you a photographer?
Othero: I remember taking my first picture at the age of 5, and it was already a male portrait, a picture of my father. I have been photographing ever since I got my first camera at the age of 11, a Polaroid 600. Therefore, photography has always been my passion; in a certain way my photographs fulfill me as nothing else can. Mainly, photographing is what keeps me going, and I cannot imagine being anything else.
What catches your eye?
I am very passionate about people who are puzzling, people who I feel can be someone else in front of the camera. I usually say that all my favorite photos are a self-portrait. I also love to photograph people who have great personality. I simply cannot photograph someone I do not like.
How do you choose your subjects?
This decision comes from what I am feeling at the time — I feel an urge to express those feelings, then I turn them into concepts. To portray those feelings I look for models everywhere. They usually come when I am not searching; once it happened that I found a guy exactly as I had imagined at a restaurant. I write all my ideas on my Moleskine, which I have with me 24/7. There I briefly describe what the idea is and how I had imagined it to be captured. Basically, I plan what I want to photograph, and all the other elements come easily.
How do you describe your work?
It is something very intimate, something that I have to express, to free my mind of. It is rather a reflection of my inner self, a shout of my emotions.
What makes a good photograph to you?
It has to have movement; must be a photograph that gives you the feeling that something is about to happen or even that something has just happened. It cannot be complete; it has to leave space for the viewers to insert themselves into the photograph.
Who are your favorite artists? And why?
I am completely in love with the work of Helmut Newton and Bruce Weber, mostly because their photos can keep me attentive for a long time, which is rather unusual since I am very hyperactive. I hope one day to become a hybrid of both.
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