We’re talking to the photographers behind Drop Your Drink. You’ll get to learn how they work and what drives them. We’re talking to Paddy Eriksen next. He’s based in Johannesburg.
DYD: Your portfolio includes portraiture, travel and concert photography. How did you start your photographic journey and what made you focus on those genres of photography?
Paddy: I’m not entirely sure what inspired me to take up photography in the first place – I guess it was a combination of too much free time and being a small town boy in the big city for the first time. I do prefer taking spontaneous photos so I’m naturally drawn to those genres but I’m eager to try more abstract/staged stuff this year.
DYD: Who are you as a photographer and how would you describe your style?
Paddy: I started off as a serious pixel peeper – I’d really scrutinise my photos and anything that wasn’t crystal sharp and noise free wouldn’t even make it onto my PC. An old colleague of mine lent me a bunch of ancient film cameras to mess around with once – with guesstimate focus and a ton of light leaks. Generally I started preferring the shots that weren’t perfectly exposed or in focus and it really encouraged me to be less critical of how well I was taking the photo and more concerned about what I was taking a photo of. I still love a sharp, crisp photo but I’m definitely moving away from it being a requirement. With regards to an actual style, I don’t feel like I’ve been shooting long enough to really developed a style of my own. I’m still just trying to perfect the basics.
DYD: We’ve seen a big focus on concert photography in your work. What differentiates you from other photographers shooting concert photography?
Paddy: Not a whole lot, I don’t think. I enjoy trying to incorporate the mood of a performance when I shoot – the stage lighting atmosphere, the subtle smiles amongst band members between songs or the slightly crazier interactions with the crowd (I’m looking at you Desmond and Shortstraw). But, again, that’s what most concert photographers are doing. At the moment I’m really just trying to shoot well, not so much differently.
DYD: You’re almost Tumblr famous because of a photo that you took of MGMT. What was that shooting experience like?
Paddy: Haha! Woo, shout out to my 22 followers! That was a VERY lucky photo. I dunno why, but, at the last moment, none of us were allowed into the pit for MGMT’s performance so finding a decent place to shoot from meant trying to squeeze in amongst all the tightly packed fans at the front. I’m not the smallest photographer around so I quickly ended up pissing a few people off and decided to just go find a spot at the back and hope I had enough zoom. I managed to get a few OK photos of the stage and crowd but accepted defeated and decided to go enjoy the performance with some friends. I met up with them towards the right of the stage, about 10 or so rows back (by this stage MGMT were well into the 10th minute of Siberian Breaks so quite a few people had lost interest and left for the bar). Luckily I hadn’t packed my camera away yet and happened to be just in front of where he decided to come and sing.
DYD: You shoot a lot of film images. Why? Is film still alive?
Paddy: I would say so. It does have its limitations but it’s definitely not going anywhere. It’s a nice break away from the instant results I’d get when shooting digital. It really forces you to think before you shoot. I find shooting film to be far more exciting than digital, since I really have no idea how a photograph will turn out until I pick it up. And the colours. The colours are always better.
DYD: What gear have you relied on during your progression as a photographer?
Paddy: I’ve got an infamous Nikon D600. Yeah, the oil splatter issue is real. I’m often shooting wide open and at night so luckily the blotches hardly ever give me any problems. I don’t see myself upgrading anytime soon, really happy with what this camera is capable of. Film cameras wise, the one that’s really stood out for me is my Olympus Mju-ii. It’s just a point and shoot but it’s hardly any bigger than a matchbox so it makes for a great take-me-anywhere camera.
DYD: Can you tell us about any great moments you’ve had as a photographer?
Paddy: Vodacom in the City and Sounds Wild Festival naturally stand out – since they were some of the bigger concerts I’ve had the opportunity of shooting. I think some of my favourite moments were spent exploring Dhaka with a Kodak Retinette Ib.
DYD: In your opinion, what makes a great photographer?
Paddy: Patience, passion, persistence and Nikon! ;)
DYD: Which local and international photographers inspire you?
Paddy: I tend to just get more frustrated than inspired when I look at another photographer’s portfolios. Yeah, I’m a brat like that. If I had to name one person though, it would be Loren Wohl. I’m inspired as much by his personality and humility (well, from what I’ve read in interviews), as I am by his photographs.
DYD: Where can we find more of your work?
– Tumblr: http://1303stuff.tumblr.com/