Blake Ezra is a featured artist in the brilliant Frame77 Magazine this month. Many thanks go to the creative genius behind the publication, Henry Coleman, whose enthusiasm for sharing creative content in order to inspire others is remarkable. Giving honest and open answers, Blake tackles interview questions ranging from “What inspires you?” to “What is your ‘go to’ camera?” or “Is there such a thing as a bad photograph?” and “How do you describe your style and has it evolved over time?”
Read the full interview below…
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Blake Ezra, I’m from London.
How long have you been taking pictures?
Professionally for 10 years, before going professional I’d say I was developing my passion for photography for around 5 years, taking photography more seriously and having my work exhibited. However, looking back at my childhood or time at University I did always seem to be the one with the camera.
When did you get into photography and why?
I got into photography whilst at University, reading a Bachelor of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies. During that time, I travelled a lot to the Middle East, and became fascinated with the way religious orientation and political opinions were so visually displayed – on people’s faces, in the street, with graffiti. Everything seemed more open and visual in that region, compared to the UK and Western Europe, and I felt compelled to pick up a camera.
During my degree, I decided that I wanted to be a news photographer, to depict societal changes and communicate important stories to a large audience. Upon completing University, I had an internship at The Jerusalem Post for six months and then was offered a full-time staff photographer role at INS News, covering national news stories in the UK. From there I moved to another press agency called SWNS and ended up freelancing for many major national newspapers and magazines in London – these few years were the best training possible, completing numerous assignments every day. I could be in a helicopter in the morning, on the Royal Rota at lunchtime, a magazine portrait in the afternoon and then shooting a riot in the evening.
I was asked to photograph a few private events, including weddings, and my career seemed to organically change direction. Now I curate a team of top event photographers and we shoot up to 150 luxury events every year, mainly in the UK but also further afield.
What would you say your style is and has it changed throughout the years? If so why?
Style and aesthetic preference will always evolve, as you increase in experience and ability, mine definitely has. Over the years, our tastes change – whether that be about photography, design, food, holidays or anything else – so naturally our creative output will too. I enjoy clean compositions and high contrast imagery, but I allow others to define my style, if I even have one.
How do you approach a shoot? Do you pre plan or is it a click and run?
Most of my work nowadays is event-based and for very discerning clients around the world – successful people who know what they’re after and who expect brilliant results. So I spend a huge amount of time planning every shoot, considering what lighting to use and when, scheduling which members of my team are responsible for which shots and working alongside clients to make sure we are all pulling in the same direction. Our briefing notes for bigger events can often extend to ten pages!
To me, clicking the shutter is one of the final elements of creating an image, not the first. There is so much planning and so much thought, then the click, then the post-production.
With your images is there an end goal you’re trying to achieve, be it an aesthetic or story?
Being primarily based in the world of events, we are always trying to achieve two goals. The first is to tell a comprehensive and beautiful story made up of aesthetically strong, emotive and interesting images. The other is to create striking portraits of our clients, which make them feel as though they’re on the pages of a glossy magazine.
Do you have an influences you can share?
I’m influenced by so many experiences in my own life, and so many photographers I have had the honour of getting to know. Every day I take time to study compelling images of photographers around the world, be that on Instagram or in my own ever-growing library of photography books.
What inspires you?
Making people happy.
Beautifully freezing authentic and significant moments in time so that they live forever.
Being trusted to photograph incredible and epic events.
Photographers creating awesome and thought-provoking imagery.
Is there such a thing as a bad photograph?
I don’t really use the word ‘bad’, but there is certainly such a thing as a bland photograph, or a photograph that does not represent a subject or an event in the best possible light.
Is there an end goal to your photography?
The end goal for most of our work is to provide our clients with incredible photographs that become a part of their family timeline for generations. Our work outlives our clients, it outlives us.
Which social media platforms do you use and why?
We use facebook, twitter and Instagram, which I suppose are the big three nowadays. Sharing work is amazing, it allows for many more people to enjoy it. Our clients love to see that their photographer is truly proud of the images they created at that particular event. Social media allows us to connect instantly with clients, other photographers, and creatives in so many walks of life.
Which photographers do you mainly follow on social media?
I follow thousands of photographers on social media, from the most famous in the world to the 16 year-old beginner based up the road. All content is inspirational content, it can inspire us to improve, or even to realise what we already do well. Those whose work stands out to me are:
- Two Mann Studios, a married couple from Canada who specialise in other-worldly creative wedding photography.
- Nadav Kander, an Israeli-born, London-based portrait photographer whose images (often of the most famous faces in the world) are truly unique in their appearance.
- Dan Kitwood, a former news-photography colleague who is a staff member at Getty Images. His portfolio is nothing short of sensational, he always has an ability to see a special moment.
- Henry Coleman, a dear friend and the Founder of Frame 77 Magazine, for his honest images of passing faces, and for his unyielding optimism and positivity.
What are your thoughts on mobile photography versus DSLR / Mirrorless?
There’s no doubt that in terms of depth and tonal range, when in the right hands mobile phones have the ability to take beautiful images. However, they lack so many key features of a high-quality DSLR or Mirrorless Camera that for the foreseeable future the market for cameras is still pretty safe. When our team photograph events, iPhone cameras are genuinely a major challenge for us. We as professional photographers are always aware of our whereabouts, not wanting to block anybody and trying to be unobtrusive. However, a friend with an iPhone does not have that awareness and can unwittingly block every professional photographer and videographer in the room.
What’s your main go to camera, lenses and how did you make that choice?
Along with my team I use a range of camera, mainly Nikon DSLRs. I personally use three Nikon D750 bodies when shooting an event, and a range of Prime Lenses – usually a 16mm Fisheye, 20mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and sometimes a 70-200mm. My first digital camera was a Nikon D50, I went into the shop and held two cameras – the Nikon and the Canon, I knew there probably wasn’t a huge difference in quality and that the photographer is more instrumental than the camera, and the Nikon simply felt more comfortable. About 20 cameras later, I’m still with Nikon.
I also own some Olympus cameras, the OMD EM5 MKIIs, with a range of lenses. I bought them for street photography, photographing my children at home and on holiday, and possibly for professional event use too. However, I always seem to revert to my Nikon cameras – they’ve become an extension of myself.
What is your dream location to shoot at?
I don’t have one dream location. There are so many incredible places around the world that I’d love to visit but in truth I’m inspired by incredible moments and beautiful light… those things can be found in every corner of the globe.
Describe your favourite picture and how you captured it?
This week sees my 10 year anniversary of becoming a professional photographer; in that time I’ve had about 2,500 commissions and shot well over a million images… from photographing the Queen staring straight down my lens with a beaming smile in my first week as a press photographer, to spending a night in a swingers’ club for a national newspaper and photographing things I never thought I’d even see, to being honoured to photograph the last five Prime Ministers of the UK.
From my professional life, there is no way I can choose a favourite photo, however I did photograph the birth of my children and those are the most significant photographs of my life, by a long way.
In three words how would you describe your photography?
Considered. Creative, Evolving.
How would you describe the current scene in photography? How do you feel about better quality cameras being put into smart phones?
On the one hand, it is scary for professional photographers that everybody on earth seems to be carrying around a high quality camera – this has had a disastrous impact on the careers of news photographers, and on the market for compact cameras. On the other hand, there will always be a place for true photographers who appreciate how to harness light and who can get the best out of their subjects.
What are your thoughts on expensive cameras? Do they create better images?
Clearly the most important element of creating a beautiful shot is the photographer, not the camera. However, of course certain cameras will help strong photographers to create a higher quality of work. Within the realms of action, sports and events, the camera must have a very fast frame-rate or shots will be missed. Within portraiture, this is less important but the camera still needs an amazing tonal range.
I believe that a cheaper camera with high-quality lenses is a much better option than a more expensive camera with cheap lenses.