Interview for UNDR RPBLC MGZN

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.

Big Ben!

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.

How’s London?
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, was taken and the best alternative I could come up with was 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?
I’m trying.

What’s next?
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 😉

Any shout-outs?
See mum? I told you I shouldn’t have studied in school.