Listen to my interview about Crowdfunding at Resonance 104.4 FM, ‘Art Survival Strategies in London’ (13th February 2016)
Last Saturday (13th February) I was a part of the ‘The News Agents’ show at Resonance 104.4 FM in London.
The show’s title was ‘Art Survival Strategies in London’. It was hosted by artist, friend and neighbour Rebecca Feiner.
For those of you who missed the live broadcast you can now listen to it on Resonance’s Mixcloud:
During my ‘Transfiguration’ Photo-Project Exhibitions Kickstarter, I’ve done an interesting slightly more technical crowdfunding oriented interview for Kickonomy.
You can see the original post on their tumblr or read the text below:
I’ve done a really interesting interview for The Phoblographer about my project Transfiguration Late last month (December).
Check the original post on The Phoblographer website (including images) or read the text below:
C-Head’s Magazine just published a new interview with me. The interview has already created quite a discussion on their fb page. You can read it below or see the original post with images from Natural Beauty on their website.
“Life’s purpose is to be happy.” it says on the tumblr blog of London based photographer, filmmaker and artist Ben Hopper. Exactly. So we had an interesting deep chat with him about his wonderful on-going project “Natural Beauty”, about society´s standards for beauty and about realizing more and more that we are part of nature.
Your main purpose of doing art is…
To entertain myself, to entertain others. To be happy, to make others happy.
Earlier this month (March 2015) I’ve done a video interview for the Dutch website IntoConnection about my project “Natural Beauty”.
The story went viral and later got picked up by Holland’s biggest magazine Linda.
You can watch the video below or check out the original post on IntoConnection’s website here.
I’m happy to share an interesting slightly more technical/photography oriented interview I’ve done for the Russian website “Cultural Evolution” last February.
You can find the English version below or head to their website and see the original post here.
art-magazin.de have just published a new interview on their website as a part of their ‘Akt Now!’ features.
It’s all in German so I’m posting an English version below in case anyone’s interested, gut?:
What excites you about the subject of the nude?
I find it attractive. It turns me on. Actually, would be more precise to say that when it is women, I find it attractive, mostly. With men, I find it fascinating.
I am looking for physical uniqueness. Performance muscles (contemporary circus, dance) are a big interest to me. Years ago when I just started photographing circus, I was talking to my brother who’s a circus performer (acrobat & juggler) himself about how some aerial circus girls have such big shoulders you can mistake them for a man if you look at their backs. My brother explained: “The muscles are not for show-off, these girls want to be able to do a certain move or trick with their body. They need these muscles to be there for it, that’s all”. Through the years I have learned to love what seemed a bit weird to me in the beginning.
How far would you go? Are there any taboos?
I don’t think I would make a good photojournalist. I think I can’t photograph people’s suffering, it feels too private. I can’t do it. At least not directly, perhaps in a paraphrase. But to photograph someone in possibly one of their weakest moments gives me the shivers and almost makes me sick.
I don’t like to show sex too. Sometimes there’s so much going on, you can just show a crop of something – it’s much more effective. It also leaves room for others to interpret.
I’m not really sure how far I would go. It keeps changing. Every year I dig deeper and deeper, it seems like I keep pushing myself but at the same time I like to close down and show less.
Perhaps you could say that the goal sanctifies the means – so all I really need to do if find subjects I can relate to and believe in. As the years go by, I am more and more sick of consumerism and most fashion trends. A lot of cultural habbits seems silly to me as well. I guess if I need to photograph a family naked with all their members; mother, father and children – to protest against Apple’s censorship of nudity on their App Store, I will.
When is a nude picture considered a piece of art?
I think it’s not just about nude. If a picture is good enough to be timeless, it doesn’t matter if it’s nude or not.
This could be a very philosophical discussion about art, nudity and personal taste. Perhaps we can do a whole interview just about that.
Who or what inspires you? Are there any photographers or artists that inspires your work?
Everything inspires me. In specific it will be kindness, intellect, technology, powerful women; both sexually and mentally, doers, thinkers, nature, animals and good food. People who are nice to me inspire me. There’s also money that motivates me more than inspiring. It’s weird – but when I don’t have money I don’t feel like doing anything. When I have money – I am super productive.
The artists I like more nowadays are the ones who do what I do – mixing beauty and vulgar. Creating a contrast, a contradiction.
Maybe I do what they do, I’m defiantly not the first in this category.
Anyway, from the top of my head; Manuel Vason, Sara Sitkin, Lloyd Newson and lately I discovered Daniel Arsham. I like his aesthetics.
It’s mostly people who do stuff that’ll make me go “ooh why didn’t I think of that!”
Was there any mortifying moment while you were photographing?
There was one time when I photographed a female model in a shower and we wrapped her head and face with bondage rope. The water made the rope shrink and at some point she couldn’t breathe. There was a tiny moment of panic because we had to untie all the rope, FAST. It was ok at the end. I know, it’s not that bad. This is the most mortifying moment or close to it. Although some of the pictures I take may look dangerous, we take as much precaution before.
I wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt while I’m taking a photo. Unless they’re into it.
How important is staging and coincidence for your pictures?
The staging is just a way to make it my own. I create a situation and let reality happen, or at least I try.
It’s like jazz, you know you have 8 bars to improvise. Within these 8 bars you can play whatever you want – but they are 8 bars in a song. Someone wrote that song. My bars are my frames. I tell the subject “This is your frame, you have from here to here, now play.”
What projects or dreams would you like to fulfil in your artistic practice?
I have a plan to spend 1 year in the USA in 2014 and work on some of my existing projects as well as new ones I haven’t started.
This will actually be a sabbatical so I could take things more easily.
“Naked Girls with Masks” and “Dancers on Rooftops” are obvious projects I can work on there. I also want to photograph some of my personal heroes. People like Paul Simon, Tom Waits, Noam Chomsky, Bob Dylan and so on. People who realistically I don’t have many years left to photograph, or meet. I really want to meet them.
Next exhibition: Solo exhibition – 6 Sept – 1 Oct. Location: Stour Space, London (www.stourspace.co.uk) / Title: TBC
Here’s an interview I’ve done for UNDR RPBLC Magazine for their April / May 2012 issue (#16).
For original interview & rest of magazine go here.
How are you?
I’m tired after a long night on a little job, but I’m now snuggling in my gf’s bed, so all’s good.
Who are you really?
When I was about 17 I realized I wanted to be an artist. I’ve been doing some experiments with it lately. I’m a 29-year-old guy who grew up in Israel and moved to London when he was 26.
London’s great. Too cold TBH. I wish I could do more outdoor shoots, but anyone I photograph (without clothes) will freeze to death after 10 minutes here. Other than that, London is treating me well.
Care for a spot of tea?
I prefer coffee, but it starts getting to me… I think. After 15+ years my body starts to go EW after 2 coffees a day.
How long have you been shooting?
Officially/obsessively/using a DSLR since the summer of 2007.
Why did you select these photos for your feature?
They are selections from 2 exhibitions I now have in London; WickED Circus @ Jacksons Lane and Circle at Circa @ artsdepot.
What initially drew you to photography?
I was working in a trade company specializing in photography equipment back in Israel. I was managing the imports, and after almost 3.5 years I got fed up and quit. Having had access to cost prices I bought a Nikon DSLR and it came naturally, so I’ve kept on going with it.
Where has photography taken you?
All over the place. I’ve gotten to know some of the most amazing people and places – not sure I could have ever otherwise, but a camera (luckily) opens a lot of doors. I’m also getting more and more commissions that include traveling abroad so that’s great. I LOVE traveling.
What have you done with the fake ‘Ben Hoppers’ running around perpetrating?
Really I am Ofer Benin, which is like Robert Zimmerman for Bob Dylan.
Ben Hopper is the same thing – just an easier name for non-Israeli people to pronounce. Benin Ofer = Ben Hopper. It started as a joke years ago, but after using it on Myspace and FB it emerged into reality.
When I decided to go with Ben Hopper instead of Ofer I had to get a proper domain online, benhopper.com was taken and the best alternative I could come up with was therealbenhopper.com. I realized if I’m not a ‘real’ Ben Hopper, then fuck it, I might as well just go all the way. It also sums up my approach to life; do not take things too seriously. People think that it’s my business name, ‘the real ben hopper’ – it’s a website name 🙂
Where are you going?
Anywhere where I’ll be happy.
What would you do for a Klondike Bar?
I just googled that – so I guess not that much – although it kind of looks interesting!
Any sentiments towards Photoshop?
Yes, I’d be really careful though, you don’t want it to look like a ModelMayhem or an advertisement. Otherwise, I wish I had a full time retoucher. CAN’T STAND sitting in front of a monitor, it kills me.
What’s your camera of choice?
At the moment my main is a Canon 5D Mark II. I’d like to get a medium format, something with blasting 60MP would be nice.
How does working with video compare to photography for you?
I’m hoping to do more video in the near future. I prefer directing rather than operating the camera when it comes to video. I want to focus more on the creative, as opposed to the technological side.
What would you like to do more of (generally speaking)?
I’d like to travel more, go snowboarding and hit up festivals all over.
I’d basically love to do all shit I’m doing now on a larger international scale.
Of all your work, do you have a favorite?
I don’t really know. I was trying to find one going through my website yesterday, but I couldn’t.
It seems as if I can’t see anything with ‘iconic/classic/timeless’ characteristics in my portfolio. Not yet.
Maybe in 5-10 years…
When you get up, what do you do to calm yourself down?
When you get down, what do you do to bring yourself up?
Reminding myself that either; broken hearts are for assholes, or that our purpose in life is to be happy. Cheesy, I know, but it’s the goddamn truth!
Well, sometimes I do just cry all night, but don’t tell anyone I said that.
Why ask why?
Dude, I don’t know – but you just got a pretty heavy confession there so…
Where do you see your work heading?
Going back to what I want to do more of in general; on a larger international scale.
Who are your biggest influences?
All of my personal work is stuff I’m attracted to. This is influenced by a variety of things that are constantly changing on a daily basis.
Do you have any upcoming shows?
There are 3 exhibitions coming up at the moment. 2 solo and 1 group all in London. They are all about contemporary circus photography and a part of The Roundhouse CircusFest (a London theatre that dedicates all of April to contemporary circus shows):
13 March – 29 April/WickED Circus @ Jacksons Lane (solo),
28 March – 29 April/FEDEC’s Circle shows at Circa Festival 2011 @ artsdepot (solo),
28 March – 29 April/Social Circus @ Roundhouse (group).
More info on my Blog/FB/Twitter.
Have you had any professional training?
I was assisting 2-3 photographers for few months in Israel before I moved to London at the end of 2008. Nothing serious. No college. No Uni.
What do you want out of life?
My good friend Remco always says; “I don’t want to be right, I just want to be happy.”
Are you doing what you love?
Sex. Then world domination.
Is there anything that I’ve missed?
Too many things, so little time. Let’s try another one in few months 😉
See mum? I told you I shouldn’t have studied in school.
Yin&Yang Blog interviewed me recently. You can read it all below (Read original post on yinnyang.co.uk)
A Chat With The Real Ben Hopper
If you have an interest in photography then you may have already heard of or seen work from Ben Hopper. Originally living in Israel, he’s a London based photographer and his work spans many styles. I met up with Ben for a chat recently, read the full interview below where he talks life, inspirations and upcoming projects!
I’m Ben hopper and I’m a freelance photographer, living in London. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of photography around contemporary performing arts, burlesque dancers, and circus performance. It’s quite a big network so I’m really tied into that, but it’s starting to evolve into other visuals like film and interactive arts. That’s me in a nutshell at the moment.
Talk us through how you became Ben Hopper the photographer?
Well when I was 15 I started playing the guitar, by 18/19 I became pretty good. I would play anything from jazz to rock- taking private lessons. But then I had to join the army in Israel (my homeland) and so I didn’t have time to practice. After the army I started doing different kinds of jobs until I ended up working for a company dealing with imports and exports of photography equipment- one of the largest in Israel at the time. I was the PA to the CEO and it was a really intense full time+ business job. I did it for about 3.5 years till I was 25. It pretty much ruined me, it took all of my spare time, and I didn’t have a life! After 3.5 years I wanted to leave but my boss was adamant on making me stay as I became a key player in the company. But anyway I managed to leave and since I always liked photography, I thought I would just get myself a nice Nikon DSLR and started taking photos.One of my friends’ was also experimenting with photography at the time and we both had this goal of becoming fashion photographers. So we decided to pool our heads together and start out with wedding photography which would enable us to save some money and get some lighting equipment and get into fashion photography. We started a business together doing events which went really well up until we started to fall out. We were really good friends but when money got involved…it screwed up our relationship and business.I always wanted to leave Israel so as my photography started to pick up I decided to move to London and become a photographer here.
Must have been tough moving to whole new surroundings and not knowing anyone!
I’ve always been a big networking whore so by the time I got to London, some people had already known about me and liked my stuff plus I knew few people who lived here. That is where I stayed when I moved.
Who were some of your first clients when you came over?
The first job I did was 2 weeks after I arrived, I did an editorial for a digital magazine- i’m not sure if they are still around. It was called Supersweet We did a fashion editorial in Aldgate.
My London friend Sarah Jane, she introduced me to Torture Garden and that was a big turning point for me at the time and influenced where I took my photography. It was their Halloween party and I remember thinking ‘wow I have to photograph this party’. So I came back and did the Christmas party and since then I’ve had a good relationship with the people at Torture Garden and that whole scene behind the club.
Also, I was introduced to a girl called Mayka Finkelstein Amrami, she’s a really cool artist- a designer and an illustrator. She works at the Royal Opera doing all the costumes for the ballet- she did a video installation and wanted stills, so I did them for her. Couple weeks later we worked together again and produced some work which ended up in Kurv magazine.
Sounds like you did alright for yourself there! What were some of the challenges you faced as a freelance photographer?
Well honestly, the real challenge is just making sure I have enough money to pay bills… I usually prefer to do personal work but every now and then you have to branch out. I try to make money off my personal work by selling prints or getting them exhibited. So yes it’s just the challenge of making sure that you have enough work all the time.
What would you say has been your most successful project?
Definitely ‘Naked Girls with Masks’…well it got the most attention and quite obviously because it is literally naked girls…
Can you tell us a bit about the project and how it came about?
I did a photoshoot back in 2009 with a girl called Cat Chappell – had this idea to photograph her and her girlfriend standing next to each other holding hands, Cat was ok but her girlfriend wasn’t too comfortable so we ended up playing around with masks. Cat has a big tattoo on her back, so I got her to have her back to me wearing the mask back to front; I thought it would make a really cool photo. So later on I Met up with two guys who run Act Art and they wanted to me to submit something to their exhibition which was about censorship, so I showed them the photo I did with Cat and said I would do an entire exhibition based on that…they were happy with it! And that’s really how it happened.
What has been your favourite project?
I don’t really have a favourite but I did a project called ‘Nightlife’ which is a compilation of photos I have taken at parties over the last three years; mostly in alternative, gothic and burlesque clubs. At the time I was just having fun and meeting new people.
At the moment I’m working on one called ‘Natural Beauty‘ and this one is about beautiful women with long armpit hair- it has a lot of cultural saying and it’s about personal preferences. I also really enjoyed ‘Naked girls with Masks’.
So what’s on the horizon, any future projects?
Naked men with masks! Also other stuff with masks, might not all be nude though. Perhaps one will be a scene in a restaurant where everyone is naked and wearing masks.
You really have a thing for masks….
Haha! I just want to experiment with masks! There is another in the pipeline actually…without masks. I’ve been working on a project where I will get illustrators to take my photography and play around with it using their skills to create a whole new composition. That’s quite exciting for me because I don’t draw, illustrate or paint but I have always wanted to. I can do a bit of typography but I always wanted to know how to illustrate. So in a way it is a way for me to do that- I’ve been looking at illustrators from around the world so if anyone is interested…
Sounds interesting, maybe we’ll do some Yin&Yang x Ben Hopper pieces! You mentioned before that your work is “starting to evolve into other visuals like film and interactive arts”. Is this something you’ll be working on soon?
There will be short feature films and music video clips… that’s all I can say at the moment
Cool, we look forward! Tell us what you think makes a good photographer?
That’s a really difficult one! There are so many photographers and everyone has access to a camera- you need to do more than just technically take photos, you need to understand. I think you also need to be original, edgy and honest. Recently I decided that I am only going to photograph for myself and not think too much about what people will think- perhaps being controversial can be a good thing. As long as my work makes me happy. It’s also really important to know how to deal with clients- this shouldn’t be the way but you have to be quite business minded.
Any photographers out there that you like their work?
There are loads but these ones pop straight into my head, make sure you Look them up!
So what advice can you give to anyone looking to become photographer?
The most important thing is to do things that you love…if you don’t want to photograph weddings, then don’t! Within reason though… bills are not going to pay themselves!
Thanks for the interview Ben, you’ve been great! Got any exhibitions coming up that we can pop down to?
My pleasure! Yes, there are 3 exhibitions coming up this month and April. 2 solo and 1 group, all in London. They are all contemporary circus photography and a part of The Roundhouse CircusFest (a London theatre that dedicates all April 2012 to contemporary circus shows)