Five Questions for H.T Ballard

5 May

How long have you been taking photos?
In brief, I have been taking photographs for my entire life. I do have a fantastic memory, indeed, but it was not until I was of perhaps six or eight years of age that I began a twisty road that landed me taking pictures with something other than my imagination. As a young child, I was terribly humbled by the “professional” Nikons and Canons I’d seen, and I really did not believe I could ever even pick up such a heavy grip for eternity. So I decided to start with something of lighter weight: a Coca-Cola can. I simply carved a giant aperture into it, stuck a used toilet paper roll in the back of it for a viewfinder, and played “photographer” at every baseball game my friends played in, since I myself was not good at sports. There you have it; for the first decade of my life I took some of the most exquisite photographs with the best lenses there can be: the eyes, yet with a memory card that, though preserved, can deteriorate as life progresses.

Why do you take photos?
Because I can, and because I love people. All of their flatter and flaw is beautiful.

What’s your favorite camera?
The Ricoh KR-5 Super is undoubtedly my favorite camera. Why? Because it’s the only practical camera I use for my own photographs; I have no choice. Though it may seem to many as a menace, it is all that I desire in a camera: manual operation, an ISO meter that goes all the way down to 12 for the film I shoot, and the ease of not having to turn on a switch to take a picture. Another unconventional asset: a cracked filter. Because the camera appears to be broken at all times with the nearly shattered glass shading the pristine lens behind it, I can take it into very dangerous places with confidence that no one will care to even consider breaking skin for it. It also misleads portrait subjects; leading them to believe that I really am not taking a picture of them.

Favorite location?
Mexico. There is just something about Mexico that enchants me every time I photograph it. The lighting is always perfect, the people are kind, and the general atmosphere is fantastic even in the slums of the city, which I believe greatly contributes to the photograph. I can see why Cartier-Bresson took the greatest street photographs of all time in France: a sane mind leads to a sane picture.
And because no one seems to ever pay attention to it, Mexico leaves me with the opportunity to fill in the gaps of photographers that have yet to claim their place in that ancient land.

Favorite lens?
The Voigtar f/4.5 110mm lens. Fitted on my foldable 6×9 Voigtlander Bessa from the 1930s, it makes even the most absolutely unfocused photographs look splendid. Because it can be so soft at times and so sharp at others, one has the option of either going impressionistic or Ansel Adams at any time



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