Liam Photography Podcast: Episode 18 – Interview with Portrait Photographer Reuben Njaa

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In this episode I interview Reuben Njaa who is a professional portrait and landscape photographer in San Antonio, Texas. He is also a Professor of Photography.

You can see his work at his website

And on Facebook

Transcription by forgive any grammatical errors.

Liam 00:00:01 You’re listening to the Lillian photography podcast. I am your host Liam Douglas and this is episode 18 and today’s episode I’m going to be interviewing Ruben [inaudible] who is a professional portrait and landscape photographer in Texas. He was also a full time professor of photography with the art institute, my Alma Mater, and he is still also teaching with one of the local universities in San Antonio, so he will be joining us on the line and just a moment or episode 18

Liam 00:00:58 you’re listening to Liam photography podcast. I’m your host Liam Douglas and this is episode 18 and this week’s interview I will be speaking with Ruben [inaudible] who is a professional portrait landscape photographer in the San Antonio, Texas area. I usually try to prepare a few questions ahead of time to ask my interviewees, but it’s been kind of a hectic week this week and I didn’t really get the opportunity to, so I informed Reuben before I did the intro that will be kind of flying by the seat of our pants this time. So we will see how things go. Hey Ruben, I’m back on the line with you. How are you doing?
Reuben Njaa 00:01:38 Are you there?
Liam 00:01:41 Yup. There we go. Sorry about that. Some sort of technical hiccup. I’ve never had that happen before. So how are you doing? Good. Good. So I was telling the listeners that as you had had to inform me, you work mostly in portraiture and landscape right now and I wanted to know, first of all, could you give my listeners a little bit more of your background in photography? How you got started in photography?
Reuben Njaa 00:02:07 Yeah, sure. Yeah. When I first started college, learned to pick or study about that
Reuben Njaa 00:02:39 and I think about my third year I met a girl who was taken together for that class and it just seemed, uh, I was pretty excited about that I thought was kind of interesting for sure. Dad. And uh, I ended up in New York or New York or broke up and I stayed on in New York for a little while. He was working in a money, never word, not how work in the studio up and coming artist creative place. We’re nervous and artists were sort of New York, a lot of wear out, a whole lot of other artists around and I stayed in Minneapolis or something like that. I up to move back. Yeah. And the best time San Antonio, we’re sort of a sleepy little town. They are bigger and better able to come here. A pretty good portfolio going. Uh, started working my way around. I was able to go back to Minneapolis and go to New York. There’s a lot of work trusted or twice, lots of weird, uh, how I got involved with photography. I went back and got my art. You’re not playing to her about it. It’s a lot of hard work.
Liam 00:06:46 Yeah, absolutely. Now when you left Texas the first time and went to New York, did that cause any kind of tension with your family because you didn’t stay there to take over the reins?
Reuben Njaa 00:06:58 Yeah, that would cut me off or money or I first author, author tried that ranch for a long time. No rodeo scholarships. Most of my life, no more comfortable when the ranch and during those times I was in New York are Dell back home, my father and my mother. And it wasn’t all that deal after all.
Liam 00:08:10 Well that’s good. I’m glad that uh, you know, over time you guys were able to just smooth things over so that you had a good relationship again. And I was gonna I was gonna ask you if the ranch was still in the family, but you already answered that one.
Reuben Njaa 00:08:22 Yeah.
Liam 00:08:24 You don’t have to worry about anything being a long story. The, the interview episodes, I like to be longer format, usually an hour. When I did my interview with Jill, we went for just about an hour and 40 minutes. So that’s not a problem. Yep. You can take all the time you need to, to, uh, to talk. Uh, now I’m assuming, and I could be wrong, cause I know you’re a few years younger than I am at a, that when you first got into photography, you were shooting film of course. Like I was, yeah. What was the, uh, what was one of the first film cameras that you used?
Reuben Njaa 00:09:09 A lot of that was kind of torn off. I never, so cameras at my parents, hello, most kind of cameras, but this was the first and we’re 35, uh, uh, first, uh, you know, cameras have ever had. And so I rented one hour old, I had a local house. I Love Scotch, Crawford, San Marcus, we’ll call it. I put, uh, once I got that for a minute course when you go to news about it up, I had a sort of modeling larger shank spare meg and then we’ll color darker. And I just really enjoyed that a lot over the next 20, 30 years or so. 20 new again, you know, I’d always had a dark room. She had access to a darkroom earlier in Jordan and I worked very low, I guess you could say getting into the digital, uh, tried it two times. We’ve seen a little smaller cameras are spread excited to drive away. But [inaudible] was saying wasn’t really enough, has really embraced her within pickle and I was working for [inaudible] are during work forward, you know, headed in that direction. So I needed to sort of adapt. I don’t work in the digital world.
Liam 00:11:08 Even to this day. You still shoot a a bit of film on occasion, correct.
Reuben Njaa 00:11:16 Pin Hole. The ocean had a pinhole camera, film would that panel. And that was really something I enjoyed a lot, having not up a lot of shows before. I do. I used to be when there were half a dozen laughter pound, but you could drop off the dark room. Now I have to just shut it all off of a male. I don’t know. But uh, so I haven’t really shot at a lot of denim ops or two in the freezer. I should probably break out with what I try to, I have pod darker was university there our work yet? Hello? Oh one course. It’s a dark course, which I’m region, those classes fill up classic pick, college art, the dark, you know, it’s just amazing when they watch those stages, when they see the prints coming up and look no upper or or you know, a lot of times developed the founder, it’s all black and you say a lot of disappointment on assignment third trigger that they shouldn’t have negative and that shoots a little images on there, a manager but Christmas. But you know, that’s kind of fun and I can share this form. I wanted to, I could still work in that dark room. Uh, I really had the urge to do that as much lately, but I’m thinking about breaking up the four by five. Yeah.
Liam 00:13:24 Yeah. I can imagine developing in high school I developed some of my own film cause I was in the camera club at my high school, uh, for the four years I went to high school. And, and yeah, the first time, you know, you’re developing the film, your own film, it’s kind of exciting. Um, you feel like a little kid, you know, watching this quote unquote magic happened. But, but then, you know, over time I got into the world of digital photography and, um, uh, actually the first, I think if I remember right, the first digital camera I had was a Sony Magica, one of the ones that took the floppy disks.
Liam 00:14:05 Yeah. You put the three and a half inch hard floppy disk in the side of it. And that’s what it records your images too. It was kind of slow, you know, of course being I was a floppy drive. It wasn’t anything as, as fast as what we have now with SD cards and CF cards and all that good stuff. But yeah, I, uh, one of the first cameras I ever played with was an old Kodak instamatic Kenny. Remember now which model it was. It was a little, uh, square camera was brown. We’d like silver bands and it took one 10 film was one of the ones my, uh, my uncle had when I was about four or five years old. He gave it to me to play with when he got a new camera, a film camera, he got to use Shika and he let me play with the Kodak.
Liam 00:14:51 And when I got a little bit older, so I had a better understanding of how to actually use the camera for a while, it was just a play toy. But, um, then I would buy, I would buy one 10 film and I would just go around, uh, cause I’m from out in the country in Pennsylvania, northeastern Pennsylvania. So it was all farm country where I grew up and I, you know, I’d go out and take photographs of the pastures and, and what the Mount Pisgah and, and shoot some sunrise and sunset stuff on occasion, stuff like that. Um, and then like I said, once the digital came out and I started moving towards digital cameras, I still like film and there’s just something about it, but I just don’t, I don’t dabble in it anymore to be honest. Uh, I, as you, I’m sure you’re aware, cause I posted pictures on Facebook from time to time.
Liam 00:15:39 I have quite a collection of film cameras. Uh, antique and vintage film cameras. I wrote up local antique malls and when I find one I’ll, I’ll snatch it up to add to my collection. I’ve got some brownies here and you’re, she goes and Pentax and some others and uh, Minoltas and I just collect them now. I don’t, they’re all functioning cameras. I use, I don’t know, I don’t have the desire to buy film and she fell many more and then it’s being, it’s getting harder and harder to find places that develop film. Of course the cost goes up and I’m like, that’s just too much expense these days. So I just stick with the digital side of things.
Reuben Njaa 00:16:20 I remembered what working commercially, what Pentax camera or whether we’re shaped like a 35, where’s the camera? Those are so welcome. I’m really loved. Those characters were in favor of sharp and then negative.
Reuben Njaa 00:17:17 Oh, just switching gear offline or those were fun times. A lot of days I had a dark room where I could shoot her right away.
Liam: 00:17:39 Yeah,
Reuben Njaa 00:17:42 I think about it should do something with that issue. How welcome Sharon? Pretty sure my credit deteriorated to the point where I probably probably what I’ll end up.
Liam 00:18:13 Yeah. That’s what a lot of people do these days that they develop the negatives and then they just scan a man and turn them into digital and then they can touch him up in light room and Photoshop and stuff. As a matter of fact, one of my friends, he was a coworker from one of my jobs a few years back, Tim Weaver, and he lives in Arizona, Phoenix Area I believe, and he still likes to shoot film. He’s got digital cameras, but he loves film and he develops his own film. He has a dark room in his house and, and he still gets a note. As a matter of fact, anytime I post one of my and my film cameras from my collection, he’s always messaging me and he’s like, man, if you’re not going to run through film through that thing, sent it to me, I’ll use it. I’m like, Nah, I’m not going to run films or oh, but I’m not going to give them to it because I like to collect. And I just, I think I’ve always been a technology person. You know, I work in it as well as doing currently doing full time real estate photography and I’ve always been a technology person and I, I love the new stuff, but I also love the old stuff. So
Liam 00:19:20 yeah, one of my friends posted on Facebook earlier today, a list of the five things I said that people no longer have in their homes, DVDs, cds, and I can’t remember what the other three items were. And they said, come back if you actually still have one of these items. And I’m like, I have all five. And one of my other friends is like rarely as big a tech nerd as you are, you still got all that old obsolete stuff. And I’m like, Hey, I like old tech. I liked new tech both. So.
Liam 00:20:11 Oh yeah, absolutely. And the problem is technology changes so fast cause for many years, um, I would do what they called white box feces. I would build my own computers, I’d go to a place where I could buy the motherboard and the CPU and memory and all the other components and I would build a complete system myself. Cause that way I got what I wanted. You know, I didn’t have to hurt, I didn’t have to go to Dell or gateway or whoever and get assistance from them and pay way more than it was worth it to get a mediocre system. I could build it myself and have a more high end system and yeah, it still wasn’t. But if you’re cutting out the manufacturing costs, that saves you some money there. So I would buy the components and then just build the whole system myself. And I did that for a long time.
Liam 00:20:56 But you know, technology was changing so fast that it would seem like, you know, uh, the latest CPU today would be obsolete in six months. So it was just crazy. It was a never ending battle of keeping everything upgraded, you know, technology wise, because it’s changing so fast and it’s been that way with the digital cameras too. But I think, I think it’s kind of tapering off a little bit more now, although now everybody shifting into the world of mirrorless full frame cameras. So then you got the news, he got the mirrorless camera wars going on, you know, everybody trying to outdo each other and Canon and Nikon, you know, were tardy to the party so to speak. And you know, uh, Sony has been dominating and uh, in the mirror was full frame cameras. But now that Nikon and Canon have got their hat in the ring, I don’t think, especially cannon, I don’t think it’s going to take a long to catch up with Sony and universal and Sony Fan boys tell me I’m crazy.
Liam 00:21:53 But it’s like, well, look at it logically. Nikon, not so much, but Canon and Sony both are heavily divested in all kinds of other technologies. You know, Sony has got televisions and DVD players and Blu ray players and all this other stuff. There are video game consoles. They don’t make all of their money just from there. Their camera and lens line, that’s just a small portion of the revenue string. And it’s the same way. It was kind of, cannon does a lot of medical imaging technology, MRI machines and stuff like that. So with both of those companies, cameras and lenses are just a small part of how they make their money and both companies have very deep pockets so they’ve got way more money to spend on research and development. Then some of the other companies do. And wait, you know, with Canon and Nikon both being around for over a hundred years, I don’t see either one of them went out of business anytime soon and I’ve been predicting that Nalat cannon’s got mirror was full frame bodies.
Liam 00:22:53 They released two so far and there’s a rumor that they’re going to release a pro one yet. So there third body this year. Uh, we’ll have to wait and see if that actually happens. But uh, there there’s pretty strong rumors indicating that they are and it’s going to be a 60 mega pixel plus sensor, dual memory card, probably even more enhanced. I detect auto focus to better compete with Sony’s IAF. And I keep telling people, it’s like, look, now the look has gotten into the, gotten into this party of mirrorless wolverine. I don’t think it’s going to take them more than 18 to 24 months before they’re completely caught up a Sony.
Reuben Njaa 00:23:33 I see a lot of articles about mirror. I had a summary, what was the rear camera and the London and I go to New York. I could walk around with that little Cameron. I Dunno, this is so small. I’m going to my daughter last year. Um, I think I’m probably all set on my camera gear now. MMM. And there’s probably what I was trying to ignore. All the while we advertise via our bodies are working.
Liam 00:24:26 Yeah, I can understand that. And same way with me, one of the first mirrorless cameras that I had was an aps. It was a Sony Nex. Uh, I had the next six, um, and it was a good little camera. I got some great images with it, but it was one of their earlier crop buddy mirrorless cameras and the evs wasn’t the greatest in those days. Matter of fact, um, when they were doing the next series of APC mirrorless cameras, the camera didn’t even come with the electronic viewfinder. You had to buy it as a separate piece to add onto the camera. So you know, when you bought one out of the box, by default, all you had was the, the LCD screen on the back. Then you had to shoot live view mode using the back of the camera. But luckily I bought mine used from a guy phone on craigslist and, and he already had the EVF added to the next six that I bought from him.
Liam 00:25:19 So I didn’t have to worry about that part. And it, like I said, it was in the early days of Sony mirrorless technology. So the EVF which kind of slow and clunky and um, it was hard to really, it wouldn’t keep up with what you were trying to do as well as they do these days. And the other big problem in the early days of the mirrorless cameras was they were small. I have big hands myself. Most of my bodies appear pretty good sized bodies. And um, so that part I didn’t like the ergonomics wasn’t that great and their battery life was terrible. I mean, my next six, I think I would get like a hundred, 150 shots before the buy, the battery would be completely dead because they were putting these tiny batteries in them and they just didn’t last. You know, the EBF was running, running constantly, and the EVF technology was old.
Liam 00:26:11 You know, it was the early days, the EVF. So they were a huge drain on the batteries in those cameras. So Sony has come a long way with the technology, you know, now that they’re doing the a seven series and the [inaudible] and stuff like that. But it was slow going and, and that’s one of the things I keep telling people. I’m like, look, you got to look at how Canon and Nikon, especially Kannon do things versus Sony. And I liked, uh, for an analogy, I always say Canon and apple are very similar in how they do things and Sony and Samsung, Samsung on the smartphone side are very similar. Sony and Samsung, we’ll both just throw the latest technology into something, you know, a product that they’re going to put on the market, who cares if it works properly or not. And that’s why you would, you’d hear the stories and read these stories online where you know, when Sony released their first muralist, full frame camera that had four k video, it’s like, oh yeah, it’s got four k video a yeah, but it’s four k video really only in theory because yes it has four gay video, but four k video, a full frame means the camera gets hot and about a minute and a half and then you can’t use it until it cools down.
Liam 00:27:22 So, and everybody’s been crying about the fact that Canon didn’t go four k full frame and their first marital was full frame bodies. It’s a one seven four crop factor when you want to shoot four k video. But it’s because of the fact that you’ve got to get the hardware ironed out to the point where you can do full frame four k without the camera glowing red. And I subscribed to Tony and Chelsea, Northrup and Connecticut, they’re big on youtube and you know, their photography youtube channel is pretty massive. And I remember, uh, and one of the videos Tony was talking about, you know, the early days with the Sony’s with the four k video and he says, yeah, we were on vacation one time in Florida and I was carrying the camera in my hand, walking around the beach with a turned off in my hand. I turned it on to shoot some video and as soon as it booted up, it said it was already too hot.
Liam 00:28:20 So, and you know, that’s what I tried to get people to realize that Canon has a more cautious approach because to them, their reputation is everything. They’ve been around for over a hundred years and they’re used by a lot of pros, especially sports shooters, wildlife shooters, you know, national geographic people and, and the people that shoot the Olympics and all these other professional sports and canons reputation is everything to them. So they’re not going to release their first mirrorless, full frame camera and put full frame four k video in it and it has a camera constantly hot and locking up or crashing and user, you know, they want to have the best customer experience. So they’re going to wait to put that newer technology in a future Eos, our version of their camera when it’s more properly vetted rather than just throwing it on the market. And who cares if it works completely or not?
Liam 00:29:17 We’re not, we’re not technically alive cause it does have four k video. You just can’t use it because the camera gets dude off. And uh, and uh, you know, some people just don’t seem to grasp that, that it takes time for new technology to flesh out and it’s, and it’s the same way in the smartphone world. You know, Apple’s slower to adopt new technology in their phones because the technology has to be properly vetted and proven before apple will put it into their smartphones or their iPods because they’re the same way as Canon. Their reputation is everything. And Sony just like, or a Samsung, just like Sony, they don’t care, so they’ll throw 10 watt wireless charging in their phones and on. Then all of a sudden you’re seeing all these customers that are complaining that their phones are getting super hot or the batteries explode because it’s only a 10 watt wireless charging isn’t a perfected technology yet.
Liam 00:30:14 It’s just crazy and it’s hard to keep up with all that stuff. And for my part, I love the cameras I have. I’ve got old canon gear, I’ve got one or two third party lenses. I got one Sigma Art Lens and I got a couple of lens babies and stuff like that. But most of my glasses can and my bodies are all cannon. You know, I have three DSLRs and one mirror was full frame. I bought the Esr and I love it. It’s a great camera and I don’t need to have the latest technology and my first mirror was full frame body because I still let my DSLR, so I don’t care. Yeah, I don’t care if they an Esr can’t do 20 frames a second because my one dx mark do. You can do 16 a second so I’m perfectly fine with that.
Liam 00:31:00 And you want to get into your medium format at some point, but I want to wait until I get to the point where I can afford to get a digital medium format. I know I can buy Amea is all day long on Ebay or Amazon or Greg’s list. I find them all the time for a few hundred bucks, but I just don’t want to, you know, I don’t want to deal with the hassle of developing film. It’s just too much costs. Too much time involved. Now you have, yeah. You have medium format film bodies, don’t you?
Reuben Njaa 00:31:31 No, not the more. I know what, I’m sorry. I’m so all my, I have a Cutler, we’re back in the day when I told him everything around digital cameras, I made an format to our door a lot depends on how you tripod or a good way to go quite in that category. I don’t shoot that shallow, but I have a project five years ago and I rented a one back and I ran into, say I had at that time had like a hundred megabyte image. I shot the job and I still had a couple of barriers left the rentals. I was out at a park and slow me down. I flipped the land off and I put this, I made this hole pinhole camera when I went out the next day and shot with this how to megabyte a digital camera with this dollar and a half pimco rooms and then it was fun because I like photography can be challenging. The chance to come into my work. I don’t, I don’t like everything to be quite, so not all like nowhere to exactly what I’m going to get a trophy, you know, tracking as a parent whole anyway. Was that sort of uncertainty in that sort of skirting or wouldn’t you had to go up slow, methodical kind of work? What the tripod maybe format other than the way to go?
Liam 00:34:11 Yeah, I’ve been kicking around the idea. I just haven’t pulled the trigger on buying them on yet. I do like to do some tripod work cause I like to shoot landscapes. I have a and I’m sure yard, no, cause I posted about it a hundred times when I was still going to school but I have that one, a sunrise shot on Tybee island beach and, and George out by Savannah has been really popular and sold. I sold uh, getting close to 800 copies of that I’m getting now. And so I would love to have a medium format to use for that kind of stuff. Went on to, you know, I get up at four o’clock in the morning, I get some quick breakfast and a couple of copies in me and drive out. I never stay on Tybee island cause it’s pretty much a tourist destination so it’s really expensive to get a hotel there.
Liam 00:34:59 So my girlfriend, I’ll usually stay at a hotel in Savannah and then we’ll drive out. And that particular year when I got that shot, we got up about four in the morning. We had some breakfast and coffee and we did the 30, 35 minute drive out to the island and got there before the sun came up. And I was right there on the beach as the sun came up over the Atlantic and it was just perfect. I had my tripod all set up and I wasn’t even using a full frame in that day. I was using my, uh, I think I was still using my 50 d and uh, I had my, uh, 28 to one 35, a USM with image stabilization and I had it set up on the tripod and as assigned come up over the Atlantic. It was a perfect shot. And I, you know, I snapped it.
Liam 00:35:46 And the thing that is so, it was so funny about that day is it was just luck, I guess you could say because it doesn’t always happen. But the light, the way the light was when the sun came up over the Atlantic that morning gave a orange glow to everything. And I’ve had people ask me, they’re like, well, what’d you do to that? And post processing to get that orange look. And I’m like, I didn’t do anything that’s straight out of the camera and only one shop that morning came out that way. Just the first one I shot came out like that. I didn’t do it. Yeah. I didn’t do a thing with the shot. I’ve sprayed out of the camera in it into light room and I was like, that looks awesome. And I posted it and, and I’ve sold a lot of copies of it on Getty and uh, but it’s a great shot.
Liam 00:36:32 So I would love to have a medium format for doing that kind of stuff from time to time. And I’d also like to eventually get into doing a commercial or product photography. And I know a lot of times for, for that kind of work, the clients that, you know, a client that’s going to go out, and I’m not going to get to that point anytime soon, but you know, a client that goes out and hire somebody like chase Jarvis to do one photograph or a new product and they’re going to pay him $300,000 for one shot that they’re going to have to put in every magazine ad on the planet. Every magazine they run ads with and they’re going to turn it into a billboard or whatever else. You know, those clients that are paying that kind of money, they usually want the photographer, they hire shooting medium format because of, you know, the largest sensor.
Liam 00:37:16 You get more dynamic range, you get more detail. Um, I’m somewhat close to that. The, the people go back and forth about it. Um, but a lot of people say that the five Dsr than I have from Canon is about as close as you can get the medium format without actually having one because it has a 50 megapixel sensor and it has a massive amount of dynamic range to it. And I do get amazing photographs with it, but I just as Sunbae I’d like to have a medium format. I wish Canon make made one, but they don’t. So you know, if I’m going to buy medium format, I’ve got to go with phase one or Fuji Film or Hassle Blab. Um, I don’t think there are.
Liam 00:38:01 Oh, here. Oh, are they? I hadn’t heard about that. Yeah. The only problem is like, it’s so bloody expensive. Yeah. Because, uh, I know Hasselblad did the, um, the x one d meritless medium format camera and uh, it’s $10,000 just for the body with no lenses. And then by the time you buy a decent that you can only get the lenses of course, from Hasselblad. So, uh, the lenses, the lenses aren’t cheap either. So you pay 10 grand for the body and then you know, one lens is like 3,500 bucks and it’s like, oh my God. But
Reuben Njaa 00:38:43 yeah,
Liam 00:38:45 yeah, absolutely.
Reuben Njaa 00:38:49 Okay.
Liam 00:38:51 That’ll probably be the route I ended up going unless I hit the lottery or something down the road. But I doubt that will happen.
Reuben Njaa 00:39:06 Yeah.
Liam 00:39:09 Yup. Absolutely. Well, the other big thing that intrigues me with Sunday, getting a, a medium format, digital cameras, the fact that if you, let’s say you buy a hassle bland, one of their, maybe not their top of the line model that’s 50 or 60 grand, um, uh, you know why if you could come up with the money to buy one, it’s 15 or $20,000 or even a used one for that range. Or if you can get lucky enough to find one for 10. The big thing that I like about the digital medium format cameras is the way they release software updates for the camera. It’s basically a lot of times like getting a whole new camera because they change the software so much. The medium format camera, the digital medium format cameras from everybody I’ve talked to, they’re more like a computer than a camera.
Liam 00:40:00 So every time they release a major software update for that particular hassle, bland body, it’s like getting a brand new camera all over again. So if you’re lucky enough to have the money to buy one, it’s like you could buy up one time and you probably never have to buy one again depending on how long you live. Um, I know one, a photographer that does product photography, commercial work that I follow on Youtube, he’s in the UK, his name is Carl Taylor, and he just got the, uh, not too long ago. He bought the, I think it’s the [inaudible] 100 d or something like that. It’ll do 100 megapixel images. It’s a hundred megapixel sensor, but the way they do this stacking or whatever, you can actually create 400 megapixel images with it. But that camera, just the bodies like $60,000. And I guess he made, he makes you enough money shooting for big corporations that he was able to go out and buy one. But, uh, but that was one of the things he was saying and one of his videos, he’s like, yeah, the Nice thing about this is it might be a $60,000 camera. I don’t need to buy it again. I can shoot with the same body for the next 20, 30 years because every so often they just released a new major software update for the camera. It’s like having a whole new camera again when you install it.
Liam 00:41:23 Yeah. So that, that aspect of it is pretty cool. And uh, I don’t know about you used Hasselblad’s because I don’t really see their medium format used around where I live in and I’m in Atlanta, but I don’t think there’s a whole lot of people that shoot hassle blood in this area. But I know like you mentioned earlier, um, phase one, um, they’re actually headquartered here in Atlanta and I’ve looked on their website. You could actually buy, um, excellent condition, used a medium format system to theirs for like nine, $10,000. And the Nice thing is, uh, being their local, to me here in Atlanta, a lot of times they’ll have used ones that they fully serviced and everything before they resell them. And for $10,000 you’ll get the camera, you know, with the back and everything and it’ll come with at least one lens included as well. Yeah. It’s not quite so bad if you spend a nine, $10,000 for a used one and you’re getting a free lens as part of the package. But you know, because medium format lenses, we’re just not cheap at all. They’re very, very expensive.

Liam 00:42:32 So, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about your work. Um, you sent me the link to your website and I remember you posting some of the images from this one project of yours that you call mine. And I really love these images. Could you share with my listeners a little bit behind the story behind how you, what the inspiration was for this project? These are really amazing images.
Reuben Njaa 00:42:57 Yeah. Um, graduate school, I had quite a bit in Chicago, very famous photographer, a portrait on the wall lobby or movie star from that error. And they all had black turtle. Hitchcock was more of a man and he shot. Um, so the place was up all those black. So I don’t know if for some reason my mind always year one, I’m looking for something. Do I thought about that? So I bought a couple of, I started shooting class people in the long term. The other weird thing as sort of happened,
Reuben Njaa 00:44:29 I haven’t been here at giving directions, put him in a Turtleneck, I put them on the spot and turn off a lot when I’m sure no court and people are really having some top, oh, what we’ll do, we’re gonna work what to do. And I just didn’t figure that I looked at them, they looked at me, I’m looking through the camera and I just waited there and going on salts, I click it. And it was well wonder whether that do, I was comfortable and they were little mannerisms or every day or most people don’t even realize. And so I, it was just a waiting game and I would really like a standard about us. But you know, this is something I’ve really live through. It put up a Notre throughout campus and you’re done. And everybody stopped by this fear of, you know, and I would assume they had a archer in the town.
Reuben Njaa 00:45:59 So I just went up, uh, uh, you know, they’re not shot well another 60 people all with this shame, say my bed basically streamlining and another job in the radar are when your version is around. I heard the same thing. So all total, I, you know, I might have, I might have purchased 200 people in this one series a, all of this turtleneck, all this trending. And it wasn’t until I was there, I have a show up late. All these prints out which ones I wanted that home project, this sort of Gel together. People, you know, we’re not necessarily uncomfortable, some of them more, but I’ve had this natural look to them. Nothing I didn’t, you know, look over this way or look over that way. And so I really enjoy that, that hole. And a couple of weeks ago I thought about revising that here we a couple of people, but it’s hard to go hard for me to go pack how to do something again that I’ve already pre world close to going off.
Reuben Njaa 00:47:28 But why are you this came together and the people and you know, I had little kids, grandparents, uh, well I look at it, she’ll remember some of the people were asking me, what do you want me to do? I just, uh, I’ve been so used to telling them what to, it was hard and that’s why I left. I had to just bide my time and I’m looking through the camera layer. I’m just waiting. I’m just waiting. And they get mad that it happened. You know, once I talked to four or five shots, that was, oh wow. I never knew I did that.
Liam 00:48:26 Yep.
Reuben Njaa 00:48:28 Yeah. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t play your mother to try that again, but I don’t know if very thing knew I could add to it over and over again. So I started doing that by painting portrait something. That was another challenge. I’m pretty happy with that, with that whole, that whole shit.
Liam 00:49:00 Yeah, I love this series. I love that it’s a fairly simple, basic concept but it’s also fantastic and I love the different expressions you’ve gotten from the different people and and to me the idea of having the black background as well as the black turtle neck, so all that really sticks out of the person as their hair and their face and maybe their hands is just make some really awesome images. I’ve always loved this series of yours,
Reuben Njaa 00:49:28 right? You can’t, you don’t know what, what you got on a lot of money or what sort of set up very simple.
Liam 00:49:54 Exactly. The first guy that you have on your website and the series, cause even got a black knit hat on the hat and the turtle neck and, and he’s got the full beard and it’s just a really good image. I like that one a lot. I like all of them. They’re really fantastic images and it’s just such a basic concept but I mean the images are fantastic.
Reuben Njaa 00:50:27 Yep, absolutely. I was going to try to do a lot of people going through a real complicated multiple lights set up and I thought I could get enough separation with this one. I think overall it met all my expectations.
Liam 00:51:01 Yeah, really love on your website is the incontrovertible apparatuses and I see you’ve got three parts to that now. This is, this is all light painting
Reuben Njaa 00:51:36 three times a year that have what they call a community garage. One time when I was there, this woman had the tools and there were some older tools. Some of them I had never seen before and so I bought a couple pick him home. I just liked the way they failed or they look like I started playing around with life and they’re once I liked it. But that possibility when I was starting to drop a hundred dollar bill country buying to photograph, I’ve got a whole garage full of tools and that’s why they did that. But you know, unlike the people are still around, so we’ll let them figure out where the shoot of our day.
Liam 00:52:47 Yeah. Yeah. That’s cool.
Reuben Njaa 00:52:53 Well, my wife,
Liam 00:52:55 yeah, I really love this series because I love how some of the tools are like virtually brand new and others, you know, they had the rust and the more of the Patina and it just creates a really cool image. I always love any kind of image that has texture into it is really awesome.
Reuben Njaa 00:53:18 We’re brand new, the other stuff, bottling garage sales or junk store if I happened to be around there. But uh, yeah, I, I think one of the interesting parts of photography I like try to get as much texture I can and the flashlight or different angles and could look a regular a strobe or not alive. So, you know, just the way to bring out more tactical rush to someone I really do. And you know, it working where,
Liam 00:54:15 yeah, I like it. I, like I said, I think it makes for a fantastic images. The rusty texture is really great. That’s always something I enjoy and I’m into old stuff like that. Probably because I spent a lot of time with my mom’s parents when I was growing up and my grandpa kiss guard and I, we, we’d go out to flea markets and all kinds of places like that because he had different things. He liked to collect metal tools. He loved to collect, um, and powered saws. So he actually, yeah, he worked at, he worked at a strip mine at first strip mining company. He was there, there a chief diesel mechanic for older strip mining vehicles and stuff like that. He did that for like 35 years. And um, when he first retired he made the cover of the, the largest newspaper, our area.
Liam 00:55:06 The day after he retired from working for state aggregates, he decided to go out with his two man handsaw but by himself and cut down this huge hickory tree they had in their yard. They had over the years, cause they lived, my grandparents live on an s curve and grandpas passed away now, but they lived on this s curve on this. But a state highway or may actually I think it might give you just a county highway and people would always take that term way too fast. And over my lifetime that Hickory tree claimed, I don’t know how many cars that was down at the far end of their property because it sat probably 40 50 feet from the road and people would just come through that s curve way too fast. They’d always end up going through the bottom corner of their yard and hit and that Hickory tree. And so the day after he retired he cut it down with a two man hand saw by himself and then split it all up and put it out for sale as firewood or as what he did the first day he was retired. Did that or uh
Reuben Njaa 00:56:20 oh yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know how many per ones they are, but I really, really enjoy about going to get rid of all those four or five and a half. Yeah. Yeah. Cause they’re really the same. Interesting.
Liam 00:56:47 Yeah, they’re really cool. That was the other thing my grandfather collected tool wise. He collected handsaws and those planes. And, and then the other thing he was into was the, uh, the old colored glass, like cobalt blue glass and stuff like that. Yeah. His favorite was the cobalt blue and he liked to collect the, uh, the Ruby red colored glass as well. The original, the original stuff, not the repop stuff that they, they mass produce these days, but the old stuff, and that’s one of the reasons why I love to go and I’m a big thing and the Atlanta area is antique malls where it’s basically there, it’s like a flea market, but it’s inside a massive building and yeah, and the person that runs it, you know, they, they ran out small spaces for people to come in and sell their vintage and antique stuff. And I’d love to just walk through a big multistory antique mall sometimes on the weekend and just photograph all the things that catch my eye as I’m walking around there. And then of course, I always end up buying any antique cameras they got to add to my collection
Reuben Njaa 00:57:55 power about here are the usual round top. And the only thing in that house or, and when the handbook or whatever the highway that runs through this little path there in Macau of nothing but some of them are high and sell low Amala pop. But our people this time of year and do that little power and go over a couple of weeks ago all the way back from Houston. And it’s just amazing. If you had a wish you could fill it in. That shares are just amazing. Luckily I’m not in the collective mode but I was definitely a pack there.
Liam 00:58:55 Yeah. My favorite shows on TV is a American pickers on the history channel cause I’m like Mike, I’m always fascinated by rusty goals. Yeah. I don’t know. I’ve just always been mesmerized by the texture of rusty metal and I always think it makes great for photographs. Maybe
Reuben Njaa 00:59:21 y’all do these tools and try to figure out another way. I can come up with a different way or photograph, uh, with some of the technique. And I thought about bringing out my for about five and just doing this direct positive, put a sheet of paper in the, in the film holder and ordered, they’re happening, but you don’t have a negative, it’s just a positive and just kind of an insurance thing. I did, I let, try to have our artists some positive, negative, try it that way, but we’re going to give up on the rock now. My daughter wants me to, she got to get rid of those things before you die. I can’t have them.
Liam 01:00:09 They can take care of all that stuff.
Reuben Njaa 01:00:14 Well, and I said,
Liam 01:00:16 as right, you’re being left all of these tools.
Reuben Njaa 01:00:23 Yeah. Hello.
Liam 01:00:30 I liked this. I liked your enticement series too with the fishing lures. I, I’ve never been a a fishing person myself. My Dad tried to get me into it when I was younger, but I was always more into hunting. And he took a, myself and a couple of my brothers. One weekend we went fishing. We did like a camp out along the social and Hannah River in Pennsylvania. And, uh, we, we’re gonna fish all weekend and he went to, he drove into town to get some stuff at the grocery store and while he left his, his line in the water and while he was gone, his line managed to snag a carp. And I wrote, I wrestled with that thing for like 45 minutes and it finally snap the line and got away. And I was like, that’s it for me. I am not wasting 45 minutes trying to reel something that ended that I won’t eat anyways. Cause I, I’ve never liked fish for tuna fish out of the and that’s it.
Reuben Njaa 01:01:40 And when I got home I could do with a photograph played around with them. Uh, when I was in graduate school by the coach, sorry, sorry, I got all these that my daughter had.
Liam 01:02:33 You can leave for her. These are, these are definitely old bores and I say that because looking through the series of photographs, there’s four or five of them here that I recognize. My Dad having an his tackle box. Yeah, he fished for a very long time.
Reuben Njaa 01:02:57 Got a couple of them. A couple of, I know some of them are fresh water or salt water. Salt water. Yeah. I just like I didn’t say it was a pretty cool idea to be some sort of designer and come up with the design. Something that will tie just like I like that creativity that went into these big trouble there.
Liam 01:03:47 Yeah, I think it was a fitting project and the title of enticements cause that’s just like you said, that’s exactly it. When they’re trying to come up with a design for a lure and and what color and they’re going to use, they’re trying to come up with things that are going to attract a particular species of fish or multiple species will be attracted to the same thing. I know my dad was big into bass fishing. That was one of his favorite things to do. So I know definitely some of these ones here are definitely fast followers. And the craziest, the craziest thing is one of the times I did go fishing with him, uh, before the incident on the Susko Hannah back when I was still about maybe 11 or 12, we are efficient in a friends, a pond on their farm
Speaker 8: 01:04:34 and
Liam 01:04:35 yeah, there’s, there was a good size bass in this pond that everybody had been trying to catch
Speaker 8: 01:04:42 and
Liam 01:04:44 people been trying everything, different types of wars and different types of Bait and believe it or not, my dad was the one to finally caught that and you would not believe he caught that large mouth bass with a piece of aluminum foil for Ms. Pack of cigarettes. He put up the balls, it up, stuck it, stuck as hook through it, dropped it the water and eat that thing. Nailed it within like a minute. He had that thing on the line. I was like, are you kidding me? All those lowers you have in your tackle box and that stupid fish went for a piece of aluminum foil.
Liam 01:05:21 Crazy, crazy, crazy. He’s like, yeah. My Dad’s like, well yeah, that’s the thing with bass. They love shiny objects. I was like, yeah, but you had all kinds of shiny lowers. It wouldn’t judge. Just something about that. The aluminum foil that draw drew and PSI and it went right for it and he could snag that sucker real quick and it was just so funny because so many guys in the area had been trying to catch that large bash. Everybody knew was in there but nobody could seem to catch it. While there was a similar story with one of my dad’s other friends that he worked with for a long time, this guy’s name was Bob Bristol and he lived on one of the two mountains that bordered my small town in Pennsylvania. He lived on Armenia Mountain and there was a stag that was like a world record stag at the time.
Liam 01:06:10 This was many, many moons ago in the 80s and it was like a 28 point buck. It was an older buck and everybody was all over Armenia mountain during deer season trying to get that stag just cause everybody wanted the rack. Everybody wanted the rare and Bob and his wife, they’re house was actually a log cabin on the side of Armenian mountain and he got up one Saturday morning, went out through his kitchen, started to brew his pot of coffee and looked out the window over a sink and there that stag was in his backyard and he just stepped out on the back porch with this bow and shot it. There had been people from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, the comb that mountain trying to find that stag and he walks out on his back porch and she took with this po better to be lucky than good. And that’s what he always said too. And He, and he did, he uh, he started had the head’s stuck with the rack and put it about ms fireplace in the cabin. Just crazy sometimes how things work out like that.
Speaker 5: 01:07:24 Yup.
Liam 01:07:25 It’s definitely been fantastic having you on the show this week. Reuben, I appreciate your time and I love, like I said, I love these projects a year as you’ve got some really cool images here and of course I’ll be sharing out a Rubens website on the show notes for this episode. Definitely encourage all that. Oh my listeners to check out your projects cause you got some really beautiful images here. Really great stuff.
Liam 01:07:49 Perfect. Yup. And I would definitely love to have you on the show again sometime down the road. Oh look, I’ll come up with, come up with something else that we can talk about photography related, uh, and uh, hopefully have you back as a guest again down the road. I know Joel looking forward to coming back and she was all gung Ho. She was all gung Ho to come back by the time we finished the burden. Um, but yeah, I’ve always loved your work. I never got lucky enough to have you for one of my portfolio classes. Um, but I’ve always loved your work and you’re a really great person. I enjoyed talking to you and, and I always enjoy hitting you up on Facebook and, and Jackie on there as well, so. Yup. I would say definitely keep adding.
Reuben Njaa 01:08:37 Never make it down.
Liam 01:08:39 Oh, absolutely. Uh, I haven’t been to Texas for a while. I used to get while I believe or not, I used to go through Texas all the time. Years ago when I drove tractor trailer for a living. I used to go to Texas all the time. I drove for a Schneider national carriers and I was always going back and forth for us. Texas, uh, east, west and north, south Bose. I was Waco, I was in San Antonio. I was all over the place. Dallas, Fort Worth, uh, fort worse and yeah, they had me all over the place. I haven’t been out there a number of years, so, and I’ve been wanting to go back to San Antonio, so, uh, definitely. Yeah,
Reuben Njaa 01:09:16 I helped him surely write down.
Liam 01:09:19 Yup. I definitely let you know, uh, if I do get a chance to put it out there sometime in the next, I’d like to go out there and the next year or so at the most, um, just cause I’m always loved Texas. Texas is such an awesome state and I almost moved there. Um, I got laid off from my one it job back in 2010 and for the longest time I couldn’t find another job, which you think would be crazy in the Atlanta area. And I was about ready to pack up and move to San Antonio. And then a company called me up off of me. Really good money and I ended up staying here. But, uh, I’ve always loved Texas. That’s a great state.
Reuben Njaa 01:10:00 There you go.
Speaker 5: 01:10:03 Okay.
Liam 01:10:03 Yup, Yup. Um, one of my managers that I worked with at a pure one web hosting, she was from San Antonio. Here’s a really nice lady. She’s like, yeah, San Antonio’s Great. And she’s like, that’s a lot cheaper to live out there. And then it is here in Atlanta.
Reuben Njaa 01:10:17 Yeah. Was there,
Liam 01:10:25 okay.
Reuben Njaa 01:10:26 A lot of company.
Liam 01:10:31 Yeah. And that that you guys were always had all the military bases there as well? Yup. When I was in the army, I went to a back in the, in the 80s when I was in there. When I first went in the army, I went to sniper school and in those days it was at Fort Sam Houston and now they’ve moved to sniper school down here to Columbus, Georgia and a Fort Benning. Which is ironic because that’s where I went for basic and jump school and now they got both jammers.
Reuben Njaa 01:11:07 Sure.
Liam 01:11:11 I enjoyed doing it, but when I, when I was going through the training, it was tricky because one of the things you had a, you had to, you have to have patience to be a sniper and so one of the things they did as part of our training is they take you out on this range with a big peg board and they would inflate balloons and tack them to the board and you had to pop one balloon with one bullet. Good. And of course they didn’t take you out there on a calm day. They took you out there on a day when the wind was blowing. So you’re not only having to, it was not only a patient’s exercise, but it was a timing exercise as far as making sure you didn’t waste a bullet. Cause that’s the whole mantra was sniper one shot, one kill. So they wanted to see how many of those balloons you could pop.
Reuben Njaa 01:11:56 Yup.
Liam 01:11:57 But, uh, I enjoy doing that in the military. I really, that was one of the things I did. My father, my, my adopted father had done was he was in the army during the Vietnam War. He was a ranger with a hundred and first and, and uh, I didn’t do high school sports like he did. I did track, track and cross country and he did wrestling and football. And, uh, he was kinda disappointed that I didn’t go for those sports, but I thought to myself, well, wow, most of the men in my family had been in the military. So I said, well, I’ll make them happy. I’ll go in the army like you did. So that’s what I did. And he was tickled to death with that. My younger brothers, they played football and did the wrestling part, but since I was the oldest, I like, well I know he, he doesn’t like to say it, but I knew he was kind of heartbroken that I didn’t play football or do wrestling. So I’ll go in the army. That’ll mean, you know, he’ll like that. And uh, he did. Yup. Cool. Yeah, I miss him. But, uh, he was a great guy.
Liam 01:12:59 All right, well let me go ahead and, uh, we’ll wrap this up. I still gotta eat my dinner yet. Uh, we were running a little bit late getting home this evening, so I haven’t had a chance to even have suffer yet. But, uh, we’ll definitely look forward to having you again and I appreciate you for giving me your time and coming on the show and talking to me about your, your photography work cause you got some beautiful images here, some great projects. Yup. You got it. You have yourself a good Reuben. We’ll talk to you again.
Reuben Njaa 01:13:30 Yup. Bye. Bye.
Liam 01:13:33 Well there you have it folks. Uh, that was my interview with Ruben Nahah of San Antonio. He was, like I said, one of my professors when I was one of the professors when I was at the art institute of Pittsburgh Online Division. And he also teaches at one of the universities in the San Antonio area and he does portraiture and landscape photography himself, and he’s got some really cool projects that he has shot that are part of his website. I definitely recommend that you check it out at Ruben [inaudible] dot com and I will definitely have a link to his website in the show notes so that you can check it out. I want to thank all my listeners again for subscribing, rating, and reviewing and iTunes and anywhere else that you might listen to the show. And I will see you next time. And Episode 19