Interview With Christopher Behrend

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Christopher Behrend

Christopher Behrend, is a professional artist and photographer in Buffalo, NY. He is also a published writer and a freelance IT specialist business owner. He took an introductory course in photography in 1998 and has since been self-taught or learned from others online.

1Can you introduce yourself and talk about how you got into photography?

I'm Chris! I am a professional artist and photographer living in the great city of Buffalo, NY. I'm a published writer, cat lover, video gamer, rare book collector, and freelance IT specialist business owner. Traveling to distant lands and exploring the world is a very important part of my life and artistry. I'm a huge National Geographic fan and reading countless magazines in the 90s and early 2000s hooked me up. I was so envious of their work and promised myself that one day I would produce shots of their caliber and create something I could be proud of.

2Where did you study photography?

I took an introductory course in photography in my senior year of high school, all the way back to 1998. Digital cameras hadn't arrived yet, so I was grateful I learned all about film, fixer, and manual cameras. I enjoyed the process of exposing the film in dark rooms and the chemical process it took to make my shots come to life. It was a last-minute experience that I thoroughly enjoyed as the world stood on the brink of a new century and the age of digital everything. Everything else I've learned so far has been self-taught or from the experiences of other professionals on the Internet.

3Do you remember your first shot? What was it?
My first shot ever happened a long time ago in the late 80s or early 90s when I was a kid. All I had access to was a cheap Kodak camera, but that was all I knew how to use at the time. I vaguely remember taking pictures of nature from camping trips with my parents. Thanks to them, I experienced a lot of outdoor beauty as a child through summer camping.
4What equipment do you use?
For the past six years, I've been using a Sony a99ii camera system with two amazing zoom lenses and a 50mm Prime. Of the two zoom lenses, my Tamron 600mm was my biggest glass asset. Especially when it comes to landscape work. In addition, I currently own a DJI Mavic 3 drone that is an extraordinary piece of flying hardware. I use a carbon fiber Manfrotto tripod and some other peripheral hardware to help out where needed.
5What do you hope to achieve?

At this point in my career, I would very much appreciate the continued exposure of competing in national/international exhibitions/contests such as this one, but even more is my desire to connect with other photographers and artists to share work, talk shop, collaborate and hopefully find some artistic friendship.

6What compliment inspired/touched you the most?

I have an epic drone shot of Mt. Kallur in the Faroe Islands I took back in 2017 and while staying at a B&B one weekend, I shared it with the owner on my iPhone during a short conversation. He was so moved by the beauty and awe of the mountain. Its color and depth brought him to tears. I didn't know what to say and I'll never forget such a deep reaction to my work.

7What inspires your unique storytelling?
Nature and our world are the most profound inspirations in my life, both artistically and spiritually. When I'm in the zone with those two dimensions, I shine. It moves me in ways that can be hard to describe.
8What THREE (3) words describe your photography style?
Different, Unique, Creative
9Congratulations! As the winner of the New York Photography Awards, what does it mean for you and your team to receive this distinction?
Thank you! I am a 'one-man operation' and it means a lot to me to receive an honor and award like this. We all strive to reach milestones in our lives. In this case, as an artist and photographer, I am very humbled and grateful that the judges saw fit to select my photograph for such a remarkable award. I'm glad it had such an impact on them, as it did on me.
10Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 New York Photography Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

Rennandi Island is an aerial photograph of a remote glacial river on the southern island near the Westmann Islands. The river itself runs through a vast black sand beach and is not easy to find or navigate. In addition, the winds and weather in that part of Iceland are notorious for changing at any time and making aerial work quite risky. Truth be told, I flew my drone over 12,000 feet to reach this glacier river and I barely got the drone back with 1% battery left. It was an absolute miracle that my drone didn't fall into the sand or become lost in the landscape from strong winds.

11How has winning an award developed your career?

Development comes from trust and I am sure I speak to all the fantastic photographers who have benefited from the NY Photography Awards that an achievement like this is a huge boost of confidence, not only for the artist but also for those who appreciate and invest in his/her work.

12Name 1-3 photographers who have inspired you.
"I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful – an endless prospect of magic and wonder." – Ansel Adams
13What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out, by a mentor or your role model?
"Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst." – Henri Cartier-Bresson
14What advice would you give someone who would like to become a photographer today?

The Internet has had a profound impact on everyone's life around the world, especially in the world of art and photography. Considering how over-accessible cameras have become to anyone in the world with the advent of smartphones, I know how closed one can feel from the endless amount of images uploaded and tossed around digitally daily. For many, it has ceased to be anything special. But it's organizations like the NY Photography Awards (and thankfully many others) that keep the bar high for those of us who come from the days when photography was worshipped as a unique and special art – pursued only by those who could capture the world around us with an 'eye' to shoot something amazing, without the burden of disruptive need to slap it on social media and pray for views.

15What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

For my part, I believe that a successful photographer must be so driven to seek out and find that particular place, person, or scene that he/she will do whatever it takes to complete that journey from start to finish. The best stories come from absolute passion, and there's nothing more satisfying than chasing that dream to the end.

16How do you stay in that space of being receptive to new information and knowledge?
Photography is an ever-changing industry, both commercially and artistically. New hardware, amazing lenses, cool new features and software or just watching someone create their work online all contribute to the ever-changing world of what we do. I don't believe in the old-school excuse, 'You can't teach an old dog new tricks.' I think that's nonsense, and it's those who don't make that statement that can keep pushing their work forward and finding new ways to stay competitive and push their work to new heights.
17Anything else you would like to add to the interview?
Never give up on your dreams and always be true to yourself!

Winning Entry

Rennandi Ísland | 2023


Christopher Behrend

Christopher Behrend, is a professional artist and photographer in Buffalo, NY. He is also a published writer and a freelance IT specialist business owner. He took an introductory course in photography in 1998 and has since been self-taught or learned from others online.

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