Ben Heine Interviewed
by Michal Fanta (*)

Michal Fanta: What inspired you to become a photographer?

Ben Heine: I've been creating all sorts of images since a long time. I was first mainly a drawer and painter, my conception of art in general changed when I realized how powerful and illustrative photography could be. Flickr has somehow contributed in my evolution as photographer.

Who or what are your influences?

Gilad Benari, a great contemporary photographer, was my first influence in this discipline. Many other artists on FLickr have also given me insight and stimulation.

In your Flickr profile you say that you are mostly self-taught. What do you do to educate yourself?

Yes, I'm mainly a self-taught artist, I briefly studied sculpture and painting in England but Journalism is what I've been trained to do (I have a license in journalism), but I never really worked as a journalist… irony and nonsense, I know, but my passion for visual arts was always stronger. At the very beginning, it has been a little hard for me to handle all the technical devices associated to any artistic productions. But I think if you stay focused on your ideas and goals, you'll always manage to be heard in the crowd.

What has the “Pencil vs Camera” project given to you (so far)? Has it changed your perception of the world in any way?

No, it hasn't really changed my perception of the world, it has changed the way I’m working on my new artistic projects. This series has helped me being published in many countries, which is something great.

Has the Flickr community helped your photography? (if so, how?)

I would say: Yes, definitely, because the friendly community on Flickr is really helpful and proactive. When I started posting pictures on FLickr several years ago, I was sort of motivated to do each time better because I received useful critiques and feedbacks from other Flickr users. I see the Flickr platform as a huge and creative brainstorming laboratory that can lead to the most amazing experimental artistic projects…

What is more important in taking pictures: the gear (camera, lenses,...) or the photographer? And why?

In my opinion, the vision, the skills and the imagination of the person behind the camera is more effective than any powerful gear. It’s certainly true that very expensive lenses and camera bodies are often a guarantee of quality but I think photos taken with the most simple devices can also be interesting if they are creative, unexpected and innovative…
This interview also appeared in Czech on
Ben Heine was interviewed by Michal Fanta in October 2010.
(*) Michal Fanta is a photographer from Czech Republic.