All images © Mark Lipczynski
“My inspiration for shooting this series is rooted in my curiosity of Japanese culture and history and the level of comfort I have in shooting street scenes and people everywhere I go. Japan is a very forgiving place to shoot street because the people are friendly. Plus, everywhere you look in Japan is so visually stunning.“
ASMP: Can you provide some background on your winning photo?
Mark Lipczynski: My series titled “Japan Travel Log” is a collection of images from a trip I took to Japan with my family in March 2017. Speaking very generally, Japanese people transcend their culture individually and as a whole like nowhere else I’ve been. I hope my photos encourage everyone who sees them to go at least once and experience it for themselves.
ASMP: What was your inspiration for taking this photo?
ML: My inspiration for shooting this series is rooted in my curiosity of Japanese culture and history and the level of comfort I have in shooting street scenes and people everywhere I go. Japan is a very forgiving place to shoot street because the people are friendly. Plus, everywhere you look in Japan is so visually stunning.
ASMP: What type of setting inspires you the most?
ML: I love shooting street and people, so any chance I have to put those two together makes me happy.
ASMP: Is there anything unique about your style or approach?
ML: I don’t think of my style as unique but I definitely shoot loose and I cover a wide range. I try to shoot everything I see with an unbiased filter then sort it all out in my editing with an edge of mystery, humor and/or abstraction.
ASMP: Was there anything unique about the type of lighting you used for this image or series?
ML: When shooting available light I try to find something unique about the way light filters through something. But also when shooting street you kind of just have to go with what you’re given, so if I can’t control the light I look for ways to make interesting pictures using the things I can control such as composition, timing and exposure.
ASMP: How long have you been shooting this type of photography?
ML: I started as a hobbyist, photographing trains at around age 10 or so. That eventually transitioned into photojournalism as I got into college then after college I started interning and working for newspapers full time. I think photojournalism is essentially street photography and candid situations that you train yourself to be ready for and that’s where I’m really most comfortable.
ASMP: What other photographers’ or artists’ work inspires you?
ML: I’m learning about other photographers all the time and many of them come from backgrounds very different from mine, but I love what they do. A few more recognizable names of photographers who inspire me include: Sebastiao Salgado, Diane Arbus, Sally Mann, Sam Abell, Alec Soth, Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, but my list is long and ever growing.
ASMP: When did you join ASMP and what do you find most valuable about your membership?
ML: I joined ASMP in January 2009 after leaving my then newspaper job. I found that my membership at that time was useful in guiding me through the process of bidding commercial jobs and the camaraderie amongst fellow members has been nice ever since joining. I’ve also gotten a few jobs through the Find a Photographer feature on asmp.org which has made my membership pay for itself many times over!
ASMP: What is the more important relationship you’ve formed through your ASMP membership?
ML: I hope this answer isn’t too general but I believe that my membership with asmp along with other members in my chapter strengthen the photographic community as a whole in the Phoenix metro area and across the United States.
ASMP: What kind of gear do you use?
ML: For digital I shoot primarily with a Sony a7Rii and Leica glass for many types of work including editorial, personal and some commercial jobs. I also use a Canon system with a 5Dmkiv and a variety of Canon L series lenses. I also have several film cameras that I use for nostalgic reasons and because I enjoy the look and authenticity of film. I have a Mamiya 645AFD, several Leica M mount bodies and lenses, a Graflex Speedgraphic 4×5, 2 Holgas, 5 or 6 different Polaroid/instant cameras, and a variety of other brands and formats that I still enjoy using form time to time. I will continue to buy and sell cameras because it keeps me intrigued and interested in exploring photography more deeply.
ASMP: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started taking photos?
ML: I wish I had more experience in business as a full-time photographer. I’ve had to learn on my own through many difficult situations on how to bid commercial jobs as well as how not to bid jobs! There’s a fine line between bidding for a fair fee while at the same time not damaging the industry as a whole by undercutting competing photographers. It’s important to understand that cost isn’t the only factor in determining who’s the right fit for a photoshoot.
ASMP: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about you and/or your work?
ML: I’m very fortunate to be able to do photography full-time. I take none of it for granted and enjoy every second I get to be out making pictures. Anyone who knows me would agree that I’ve found my calling and wouldn’t want to do anything else but make pictures. In my mind if you’re doing photography for any reason other than for the love of it, it’s the wrong reason.