As a pictorial introduction to the ASMP’s three new national board members, the ASMP Bulletin’s Spring 2010 issue featured examples of their work at the top of the table of contents page. Featured here, we include more about their backgrounds and outlook plus a portfolio of signature images.
Resides: Deerfield, IL
Photographic Specialty: Environmental portraiture, industrial and scenic photography
ASMP Member Since 1972
Web site: www.pobereskin.com
All images in this article are © Joesph Pobereskin
What is your favorite image from your own work to date and why does it appeal to you?
Of my own images, I’m torn between two; both are images of New York City. The first, an image of the Brooklyn Bridge and the lower Manhattan skyline, was made at dusk from the top of the Brooklyn tower. I’m petrified of heights and climbing down at night was particularly terrifying. I made it down, alive, thanks to the two guys I was working with, one who led the way and the other who brought up the rear and kept me moving.
The second, a close-up of the Chrysler Building, also at dusk, was made while I was shooting stills for a Batman movie for Warner Brothers. I just love the muted color and the texture of the steel exterior; the detail is amazing and, again, made from a setback 60 stories above Fifth Avenue — the altitude was killing me.
Then there’s the fireworks image… How am I supposed to pick just one favorite?
What is your favorite image of all time created by another photographer and what do you admire about it?
I think my favorite image is a still life of frozen foods made by Irving Penn. It appeals to me because of the creativity of the idea, the colors and textures, the technical expertise. Penn remains my favorite photographer because of the range of images he made, mastering the techniques for all the genres he worked in. I have another favorite, Moonrise Over Hernandez, by Ansel Adams.
What is your favorite photographic subject and conditions for image capture?
I was really hoping you wouldn’t ask me that. I’m interested in so many things: landscape and cityscape; portraiture; industrial; lifestyle; still-life (including food); just so many things. I guess because I’m comfortable working both in a studio and on-location that I just don’t have a favorite, and not having one keeps it interesting for me. And that’s one of the reasons I’m involved with stock photography — nobody tells you that you can’t step outside your box. You can shoot whatever you want as long as it will sell. I’ve been in business for 24 years and I’m not bored yet.
Please describe your biggest photographic achievement to date.
I produced a line of calendars for a publisher for a few years and one day I was with my two children in Borders bookstore just before Christmas. We were looking at the calendars and my oldest spotted my New York City calendar, saw my name on the cover and shouted, “Dad, you’re famous!” I think that was it, the day my kids discovered that their dad does something really cool.
What was your most challenging shoot and what made it difficult?
I did a shoot for American Heritage magazine a few years ago; the assignment was to make a picture story about fireworks for their July issue. The picture editor sent me to photograph at a fireworks company in upstate New York. These guys had a signature fireworks display called a “fountain front” that they were quite proud of, and my marching orders were to, if nothing else, get a great picture of that. The key to the whole thing was that they could only set it up it once — there’s no second try, no reshoot. I had to get it in the can no matter what.
By the time I arrived they were almost finished wiring up the mortars, so I set up a camera and lens just to see what I could see. When I looked through the viewfinder it was clear to me that they were wiring most of the mortars outside of my frame so I had them condense everything to fit into a narrower formation. I positioned the controllers between the camera and the fountain front to render them in silhouette against plumes of fireworks and shot it with long lenses. I had six cameras on six tripods with lenses from 180mm to 400mm. When they fired-up the display, my assistant and I used remote controls to fire-up the six cameras, each making a different exposure, shooting continuously for the thirty seconds or so that it lasted. Only one or two of the cameras would have properly exposed film. The hours between the shoot and the film development on that job were the most anxious in my entire career…. but I got it!
Can you tell us about a particularly troublesome situation involving photography that you’ve encountered in the past with and how you overcame it?
I probably shouldn’t admit to this, but I’m terrified of heights. Despite that, I’ve climbed bridges, hung out of helicopters, stood at the edges of cliffs, all the things that are my worst nightmare. I’ve not really overcome my phobia so much as dealt with it, typically because I have to in order to get the job done. I can do anything as long as I have a camera in my hand.
What are the biggest challenges photographers are facing today, and how do you think the ASMP can help?
There are a number of challenges that we face as photographers every day. Many relate specifically to our individual businesses and some to the industry as a whole. Among the areas in which the ASMP can be of assistance are Orphan Works/Copyright Law issues.
I’d like to see the ASMP take a leading role in defeating proposed Orphan Works amendments to the Copyright Act. Up to this point, the ASMP has attempted to work with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in crafting an amendment that does as little damage as possible to our livelihoods. That’s an admirable attempt at compromise, but I don’t believe it serves us very well. The Copyright Act is the basis upon which any rights-managed licensing business, such as ours, is based and we should be focused on nothing less than the defeat of any measure that seeks to substantially diminish our ability to conduct business. Compromise before opposition is not desirable. Educational programs on the basics of copyright law as well as tutorials on complying with copyright law are already underway at the ASMP. This is one thing we do very well.
What is the ASMP’s role as a trade organization in helping members manage the decline in the photography industry?
The ASMP’s role as a trade organization in helping its members manage the decline in the photography industry is threefold:
How valuable do you think Find A Photographer (FAP) is for members? Should ASMP continue to promote FAP on a regular basis?
Since its inception, the Find A Photographer database has been instrumental in winning a number of assignments for me that I otherwise would not have been considered for (new client acquisition) and, from those assignments, I have earned enough from my fees to pay my ASMP dues many, many times over. It may be one of the most significant benefits of being a General member.
How should the ASMP stay current with the changes in how we communicate?
The ASMP hosts a number of discussion forums on the Internet, uses e-mail effectively as well as having an official Facebook site and also uses Twitter for short messages. It’s a lot to keep up with, and I, personally, favor e-mail notifications. That said, I believe the ASMP has done an admirable job of keeping pace with technology, and I am interested in maintaining our readiness to change with new developments in the technology of communication.
Directors serve for 3 years, or 6 years if reelected. How do you see the ASMP 3 years from now? 6 years from now?
This may be the most difficult question to answer. I don’t think anyone can reliably predict the state of our industry six, or even three, years out so I cannot tell you how I envision the ASMP in the long term. What I can tell you is that, as a director, I will do my best to help identify emerging trends and formulate programs to educate and assist our members in dealing with these, whatever they may be. Maintaining the ASMP as a nimble presence in the industry should be one of our highest priorities.
What is your stance on copyright issues? In particular, is there a place for copyright in the “new” economy?
Some say copyright is dead, a vestige of ages past. Is copyright an arcane notion as some have suggested? I think not. Why? Because Congress has reaffirmed and strengthened copyright protection consistently throughout the past hundred years. The Copyright Act of 1909, the Copyright Act of 1976 (the primary basis of copyright law in the US) and The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (passed by unanimous vote in the Senate) all support the notion that copyright protection is a valid and contemporary concept. The copyright laws are the basis for the licensing of rights in all intellectual property. Does this seem like an arcane idea to you? Not to me. It seems very much alive. Mark Getty, former chairman of Getty Images, once remarked, “Intellectual property is the oil of the twenty first century.” Copyright law is the basis for licensing such property so, yes, it definitely has a place in the “new” economy, and the ASMP’s mission should be to see to it that copyright protection remains strong. Strengthened, if changed, not weakened.
How do you propose to better serve those loyal members who live too far away to make regular weeknight meetings in the big cities?
Recent advances in telecommunications technology make it possible to stream audio and video signals in real time over the Internet. This technology could be most useful in serving members in outlying areas whether for chapter meetings, special programs, etc. I wrote in my ballot statement that I’d like to see the ASMP develop a technological knowledge base and a YouTube (or similar) channel dedicated to fulfilling this need.
Do you feel that chapters should receive increased support? If so, how do you propose structuring this?
It’s my belief that voucher funds allocated to chapters should be increased by $5 to $10 per member. Having served as president of one of the ASMP’s smaller chapters, such an increase would have only put another $500 to $600 in our account, but even that small amount would have enabled us to do one or two more things each year to benefit our members, and our chapter members certainly would have benefited from this.