Interview with Bruce Cooper:


What do you like and dislike about living in Los Angeles and London?

Bruce: Los Angeles is a series of cities thrown together. Living patterns are defined less by its sense of community and more so by space: cars are its common denominator. The Freeway is a repeating motif of cars stacking up one behind the other on a smoggy day.

In Los Angeles the quality of light is magical; light fluctuates and renders surfaces in both landscapes and portraits with a high degree of contrast, creating a hallucinatory quality. Colors become revelatory and often aggressive, even in the moments at dawn and dusk.

London is a place where I found who I am artistically and aesthetically, so I am grateful to have schooled there. British visuals and sounds are crisp, cleanly realized accents that are representative of concern for humanity.

Intention, even in luminously soft light, is well established. Light falls softly and gently in muted tones so cherished by black and white photographers; the often cloudy sky occludes the imagery and adds an element of distance as though past and present dissolve together when the image is taken.

Bruce Milton Coper - Photographer (8) Bruce Milton Coper - Photographer (9)

What was your most favorite shoot and why?

Bruce: My first commercial project was photographing interiors of a recording studio complex in Hollywood. Arriving at the studio during off hours, my task was to light and photograph the empty rooms to showcase the facility. The rooms were quiet and the conditions were so spare that they became ideal. Nothing interfered with the process of discovery. On top of this purity of approach, I would finish at daybreak when the light was beginning to warm the air and articulate surface details, turning indistinct outlines to clearly resolved ones.

Bruce Milton Coper - Photographer (7)

Bruce Milton Coper - Photographer (3)

Which Photographers inspire you?

Bruce: The Civil War photographer Timothy O’Sullivan, Stanley Kubrick’s Look Magazine editorials, fashion photography by Sir David Bailey, whose portrait of Michael Caine is a referential touchstone, Mario Testino and Helmut Newton, reportage by Robert Capa and Robert Frank. The following contemporaries: Jenny Brough, Jonathan DeVilliers, Mike Dempsey, Fabrizio Ferri, Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vindodh Matadin, Wanda Martin, Craig McDean and Harley Weir.

What type of shoot haven’t you done yet which you would like to do?

Bruce: Great question. The first answer that comes to mind is to orchestrate an entire shoot underwater. My second answer is to shoot on the desert at night — I recall being stranded on the desert after a music video shoot and being in awe of the starlight: a true desert sky filled by infinite black, with garlands of stars hanging down. Faced with the real possibility of being alone on the desert at night, I contemplated my existence in a way that was unique and to my way of thinking, honest, a moment of pure contemplation, not navel gazing, but seeing inward and outward simultaneously. I would like to translate that experience into a still photograph.

Bruce Milton Coper - Photographer (4)

You also do videos. What has been the most enjoyable parts of working in the different mediums?

Bruce: Having an art school/film and theater background makes me predisposed to different media. Transitioning between video and stills work has been fortunately relatively painless. There are similar parameters of engagement with material and concept narrative with each. In fact, I feel still and motion are linked. I like to shoot test stills on set with actors not only to show position and block scenes, but to give the performer an idea of the framing; what is not in the frame is of more importance then what is seen.

Bruce Milton Coper - Photographer (12)

At the moment you have made shorts. If you were to work on a feature, what would it be about?

Bruce: It would have to be a subject I was obsessed with to the degree that I could devote the time and energy to its realization. My taste is for thought provoking stories that externalize the interior. To shed light on what it is that defines us as human beings is the loftiest goal for any one. With a goal like that, I feel that it runs the risk of becoming pretentious, but I would rather be daring then to play the theme safe.

Bruce Milton Coper - Photographer (11)

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