Jun 12, 2014

An Interview with Street Photographer Omar Z. Robles

I'm breaking the rules with this interview. I normally feature photographers who use only an iPhone or other mobile device, but I wanted some advice on street photography, so I asked Omar Robles if he'd share a few pointers and he was happy to help me out. All of the advice he has shared could easily be applied to iPhone photography.

What is your name and where do you live?
Omar:  Omar Z. Robles and I currently live in New York City.

How did you get started with photography?
Omar:  Long story short, when I went back to college to finish my Bachelor's in Communication and Visual Arts, I had to take a photography class. The professor really liked my work and encouraged me to pursue it further. Shortly after, my brother was working as a journalist for a lifestyle magazine called Metro San Juan. At the same time, they were hiring photographers and my brother took the initiative to submit some of my work to the editors. The editors liked my work and I started working for them first covering social events and little by little I moved up to shoot portraits for featured stories. By the end of the year, I was promoted to shoot their fashion editorials. 

Mystery Man © Omar Z. Robles
Mystery Man © Omar Z. Robles
Get Set © Omar Z. Robles
Get Set © Omar Z. Robles
What camera do you use?
Omar:  I am currently shooting mostly with a Fujifilm X100S.

I understand you trained under the tutelage of Marcel Marceau in the art of mime. How has this influenced your photography?
Omar:  Mime theatre requires the ability to capture and evoke emotions and stories without the use of verbal communication. Photography was just a natural follow-up. Now what I think sets my work apart is specially when I direct a shoot, I use my knowledge of body language to help my subjects bring out those visual cues from within.

Early Light © Omar Z. Robles
Early Light © Omar Z. Robles
How do you approach strangers in order to photograph them?
Omar:  I just ask them if I can take a second of their time for a quick portrait. I usually try to be as fast as possible taking the photo in order to let them continue with their day organically.

Pipe © Omar Z. Robles
Pipe © Omar Z. Robles

Are people usually open to being photographed?
Omar:  In most cases they are, that's what really encouraged me to continue asking more people.

What advice would you give someone who would like to get started with street photography?
Omar:  Learn your camera settings, experiment and go out and shoot every day if you can. 

Do you plan your shoots or do you just capture what you see in your day-to-day life?
Omar:  I go out and see what's out there. Sometimes I just shoot a precise moment that is happening. Other times, I will see something that I like and then I just stay there and wait for that moment at that particular place.

Sunday's Best Series © Omar Z. Robles
Sunday's Best Series © Omar Z. Robles
Sunday's Best Series © Omar Z. Robles
Sunday's Best Series © Omar Z. Robles
Sunday's Best Series © Omar Z. Robles
Sunday's Best Series © Omar Z. Robles
Do you edit your images before posting on Instagram? If so, are there a few favorite apps that you regularly use?
Omar:  For most of the stuff on IG, I usually do a combo of iPhoto for exposure adjustment (mobile app) and Snapseed for details (only sometimes) plus VSCO filters (with some fine tuning of my own).

Have you ever had the feeling that someone is looking at you?  © Omar Z. Robles
Have you ever had the feeling that someone is looking at you?  © Omar Z. Robles
What is the most important thing to remember when composing a good street photograph?
Omar:  Be patient and don't get frustrated. Street photography is a really hard discipline and art form. It requires the ability to stay calm but also to be able to make spur of the moment choices, where sometimes the right choice is actually to not take the photo. The most important thing is to take the photo before actually pressing the shutter.

In Between © Omar Z. Robles
In Between © Omar Z. Robles
Geometry © Omar Z. Robles
Geometry © Omar Z. Robles
Have you ever exhibited your work? If not, any plans to do so?
Omar:  Yes, I have had a few exhibitions in Puerto Rico and Chicago.

Do you sell your work? If so, where?
Omar:  Yes, you can order prints of my work visiting shop.omarrobles.com

Is there anything you'd like to add?
Omar:  Thanks for considering me for this interview. I really love sharing and teaching about photography in general. 

A Step Between © Omar Z. Robles
A Step Between © Omar Z. Robles
Find Omar: Website / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter

Apps Mentioned:


7 comments:

  1. I have filmed Omar through my own camera, his talents go far beyond camera work, i.e. mime. All of the art disciplines overlap :) He shows us that which we all see, but seldom notice. Omar is generous with his spirit, and this is what shows through his subjects. Great interview with a great guy.

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  2. I had the impression from my brief interaction with Omar that he was all that you say he is - I'm so happy to learn that my intuition was correct. I really enjoyed getting to know more about him and his work. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Thank you for sharing Omar. Wonderful images!


    Totally responded to the email with this first SMH

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