Over the past week I was able to touch base with PIX customer UK Born photographer Michael Berkofsky. He took some time to answer a few questions for us!
PIXFEEDLA:When did you first begin to taking your photography seriously and decide to push yourself and turn it into a profession?
MBERKOFSKY:When I was 16, Princess Margaret was engaged to society photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones. I saw Tony’s great pictures in huge spreads in the The Daily Mirror. They were inspirational. I wanted to be a photographer from day one. I had no back up plan though my fiancé’s father wanted me to drive a London cab. I got an apprenticeship as a darkroom printer the summer of 1960 when I was 16 in London’s East End.
Every day I dreamed of being a better printer, a top printer in the West End and one day soon, a photographer, a fashion photographer. I learnt most of my photography from a 1950’s Ilford Manual. The rest from printing for some photographers who knew what they were doing and working wonders for others who didn’t.
PIXFEEDLA: Since you have been photographing what trend have you seen repeat itself?
MBERKOFSKY:Everything comes and goes and comes back. Even direct flash.
PIXFEEDLA: Do you feel that a photographer can successfully be in both stills and the motion world?
MBERKOFSKY:My American producers told me to not even to mention to the ad agencies that I was a photographer. (1985) In Europe especially France it’s OK. I’m talking about TV Commercials. Many photographers shoot beauty and cosmetics for TV commercials
PIXFEEDLA: What is your favorite thing about the image of Jimi Hendrix? Can you tell me a little bit about the time you spent with him that day?
MBERKOFSKY:Jimi had ‘Hey Joe’ at no. 34 in the UK charts January 1967. I had just heard the record on the radio. Rave magazine asked me if I could shoot it in 20 minutes. Jimi wore a very stong perfume (Petunia)
He was 24, I was 22. He was polite, shy and throught the lens he was serene. The magazine mad a hash of the reproduction -on cheap paper. I kept only 1 frame of 6x6 Ektachrome - shot on a Hasselblad.
The magazine lost the the rest of the film as well as the whole of their ’60s Rock collection including early Beatles and Stones pictures in a flood and ate by rats. I lost / mislaid my one frame and searched for it for 40 years and it was found it in a 35mm plastic holder in my old assistants garage in Santa Monica, only just salvageable in 2010.
PIXFEEDLA: Can you give aspiring Photographers tips on making their photography into a profession?
MBERKOFSKY:Don’t go to college. Get a job as a 3rd assistant, make tea or coffee, whatever it takes to learn from a professional not a school teacher.
What Film and Photo Colleges don’t tell you.
1 There are no paid jobs in the Film or Stills business - it’s all freelance.
2 A BFA or MFA will not get you a job as a Film maker or Photographer. You have to set up your own production company
and show your work folio to get jobs. You will need to know how to compete for jobs - something you probably won’t be taught.
3 Production Company’s do not like students.
4 Colleges are plagued by tenured teachers they can’t get rid of. These people have been away from the business so long
they are out of date. New professionals wanting to teach are kept out.
5 Many teachers were taught by other teachers and have no experience in the field.
Some teach from for example from The American Cinematographers Manual that you can buy for $25.
6 Almost all Colleges and their tenured teachers believe you have to make a 25 minute film to become a film director.
Most tenured teachers hate TV Commercials and the Web. They do not believe that Movie directors like Spike Jonz, David Fincher, Tarsem Singh, Michael Bay, Ridley and my friend the late Tony Scott were all TV Commercial and Video Directors.
I would like to thank Michael Berkofsky for his time.
To see more of his work visit www.MichaelBerkofsky.com