Tuesday Plugs No. 003 - thebenmolina

My first American photographer to feature hails from the colossus that is Los Angeles.  His name?  Ben Molina?  His modus operandi?  Using delightful layers to create a striking world of insight into the human condition.

Much of Ben’s work reminds me of a well known colour street photographer, Alex Webb; a man known for a visual blitzkrieg of clash and abstraction.  Except that Ben doesn’t often shoot in colour (though when he does, it is spectacular).  He utilizes the timelessness of black and white film to create his magnificent photographs.

One photo that I like in particular is this shot of a vintage car, through the looking glass of another vehicle, which also showcases the surrounding built form, which includes parking spaces, adverts, road signage, and other utilitarian architecture.  The environment he captured in that photo I just feel screams Americana, in its beautiful iconicness.

Another photo of Ben’s, this one a colour one, was taken in LA’s Chinatown.  It shows a child anonymously playing in the streets, front and centre, while an adult is seen half masked, walking towards the child.  In the foreground is the silhouette of a girl walking by in a hat.  All of this is pulled together by a ribbon of vibrant red, much of it being reflected through a window.  A scene like this I’d probably not be able to imagine easily, but Ben seems to do it effortlessly.

Ben has a talent for making out contrast and working with shadows and silhouettes.  It seems to be his thing.  It’s a talent that most certainly shouldn’t be overlooked, so check out Ben on his tumblr here.

Previous plugs:

Ben Molina: Appropriately Untitled

Ben Molina is a graphic designer currently based in the Bay Area in California. His work has been featured in several group shows and local publications in California. Currently, he is also part of a major street photography exhibition in Manila in the Philippines. In 2014, his “Now Here, Nowhere” slideshow was among those featured in FotoIstanbul held in Turkey. He photographs mostly in black-and-white using his Leica M4. Eric Kim, a contributor to the Leica blog, conducted this interview. Q: Tell us the story of when you first picked up a camera. A: My father gave me a used Pentax Spotmatic with a 50 mm lens when I was 13 years old. It didn’t come with the manual, and no one in our family knew how to operate an SLR because we were used to point-and-shoot cameras so for a while I lost interest. But I always had this fascination about photos in books, and pictures in general. Back then, I only knew one photographer and was always amazed by his cameras […]

Description was what photography did - first and foremost. You press the button and the camera describes what it’s pointing at. That’s all it really does. It’s what you point it at, and how consistent you are, and how interesting you find subject matter that gives your work a dimension, and a shape, and a reason for being. But in the beginning, all the camera does is describe what’s in front of you. You can’t make it more than it is; it just is what it is.
—  Joel Meyerowitz
It always fascinates me - it bollixes my mind, I mean, when people talk about photographs in depth, and what not, you know, when all a photograph does is describe light on surface. That’s all there is. And that’s all we ever know about anybody. You know, what we see. I mean, I think we are our faces and whatever, you know? That’s all there is, is light on surface.
—  Garry Winogrand