Interview for Russian Photo (*)

Ben Heine portrait by Thomas David - 2013
Ben Heine at Tour de France Photo © Thomas David 2013

Russian Photo: How long have you been taking pictures? 

Ben Heine: I started drawing 20 years ago and started taking photos some 10 years ago.

Did you study photography professionally? 

Not really, but during my Journalism studies, I did have to manipulate cameras and learn a bit of analog and digital photography.

What is your profession? 

Now, I'm doing creative projects as a freelance artist and selling prints during exhibitions etc... This is my main source of income right now, but I'm planning to find another job soon because it's hard to make a decent living in the art industry.

You create truly unique pictures. How come such ideas? 

I've been working on graphic projects for many years. Mixing drawing and photography really came naturally.

You are called the master of photo manipulation. Do you agree with this? 

No, I don't, I think there are plenty of better people doing photo manipulations. I'm doing something different. I'm better at finding ideas and concepts and I love mixing mediums. Spending days on the same image (drawing or photo) to improve it and making it look good can be really annoying, I'm doing this only because there is nobody else that could do it exactly the way I want. I generally prefer the first steps of the creation process: finding ideas...

Pencil Vs Camera 64 - No More Routine
How much time does it take to create one work? 

Several days or several weeks, depending on the image complexity.

How difficult is it to combine photos and sketches? 

It's easy for me, I'm working like a robot, seeing pixels, lines and shadows instead of the whole drawing or photo. some of my pictures look like drawings because I like to edit them this way (view some before and after versions).

Which brands of photo cameras do you use? Do you teach master classes? 

I currently use Canon and Samsung cameras. I don't teach master classes, but I do some workshops and conferences from time to time.

Is it possible to combine originality and professionalism? 

Originality is the most important for me, then if people like it, I try to make a business out of it.

What can you advise to beginners who are looking for your style? 

Don't try to imitate any style, your creations should be a complete reflection of yourself only. With experience, you'll learn who you really are and you'll then be able to express what you really want.

What is the secret of your popularity? 

I'm not sure I'm popular. But I know that I'm always trying to be sincere with other people and true with myself. I'm also always trying to give the best I can and to be be innovative and generous in my art. I want to share love and energy. Hopefully the persons who view my works can feel it.

Have you visited Russia? Are you planning to visit our country? 

Not yet, but I love Russia and Russian culture. I've learned Russian language several years ago (see a small hand written note here below). I hope I can visit your country soon and organize an art event or exhibition!

Ben Heine autograph in Cyrillic alphabet for "Russian Photo"
(*) Russian Photo is a 10 year old magazine dedicated to photography. It gives information about art events and exhibitions, interviews of masters, photo tutorials, camera reviews and trends. Read the above interview on Russian Photo website at this link.