Since Ben Hammer discovered his love for photography, he has been completely immersing himself in the art. From managing a photo studio, creating photo book series, blogging, and running a podcast show, Ben has found ways to make a career out of his passion for visual storytelling. Today we talk to him about how it all started and his recent book, “Tag Danach”.
Could you tell us about yourself? When and how did you get into photography?
I was indeed pretty unromantic. I bought my first camera in 2012, a Canon 550D, in order to produce content for my former feature-blog. Soon, I noticed that I was spending most of my time in front of my computer and so I decided to really get into photography in 2013. I ordered cheap Jinbei photography equipment in China for 1000 Euro. It took six months for it to arrive, but then I could finally start. At first, I was shooting every month, and soon every week.
You are one multi-talented man, besides photography, what else do you do?
My first exhibitions showed me how much I enjoy connecting with people. This brought me closer to event management, and, after all, photography is always a good reason to organize events. This is why I host so many events. Besides that, I still blog , publish some podcasts, and do brand consulting.
We see that you constantly keep yourself busy and producing work all year round, but what is your biggest frustration with the creative process? And how did you overcome it?
I’d say my biggest frustration most time of the time is time. Many things aren’t going fast enough for me. But then I don’t stop, but keep on working harder. However, because of this, I feel a lack of depth in my projects and from time to time I simply start to shift my focus a bit. For example: during the completion of my book, I completely stopped photographing and instead focused on marketing and event stuff. Having my book finished and wound up the events, I’m looking forward to diving back into photography.
You once said that you are “an interview lover”, what about it that really gives you the ticks?
I always loved talk shows. Pretty early on I noticed hearing other people’s stories and their experiences is enriching my life. They inspire me, motivate me, and make me question many things. I truly believe that everybody has something interesting to tell, which can inspire other people. Therefore, I enjoy reading interviews, but foremost, enjoy doing them.
What are the most important lessons you learned from interviewing people and would like to share it with everyone?
It is important to have a true and genuine interest in your interview partner. Posing honest questions will result in getting honest answers. And maybe we should all talk more to each other? I believe these are my personal lessons that I learned.
Could you tell us more about your crowdfunding campaign and the recent book that came out?
Back in 2016, I successfully financed my first book “DAS LEBEN UND STERBEN DES BENHAMMER” via Indiegogo. Despite my personal skepticism early on, I became a big crowdfunding fan. I order the most photo books through funding them and don’t wait to buy until their official release. I really like the community idea on which the funding is based. Luckily, this also worked for “Tage Danach“, which is my second photo book. The story of “Tage Danach” ties with the end of my first photo book. It is now available for everybody who didn’t support the campaign. Like the first book, it’s a photo book completely shot analog. All of them was shot with my Contax G2 on Ilford Hp5 35mm b/w 1ilm, for those, who are interested in that sort of thing.
Why did you decide to shoot all of the images in the book analog?
Originally, I started with analog photography as a small change from digital photography. I quickly realized that the analog pictures somehow meant more to me than the digitally shot studio portraits, so I started documenting almost everything with a small Olympus MJU for my first book. I decided to stick to this idea for my second book because I simply like the rules: one camera, one film. Photographing digitally, I often get distracted by all the possibilities I have. You skip through the pictures a thousand times, you start to play around with the multiple settings on your computer. I wanted to skip this part and this is why my second book came into being full of analog photography.
What’s next for you for this coming year?
If everything comes into places this year, I will start with the production of my third and last book. I truly believe in trilogies. Besides that, we are currently planning various events around our collections on Chips & Champagner, which is our online store. But overall, I’m open to what may come this year!