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Offbeat with Joel Robison

It’s not every day that a person’s work transports one to another time or place. Rarer still is the photo that makes one feel like they are peeking in on another, magical world; so it is with the photography of Joel Robison. I discovered Joel’s work a few years ago on Instagram and I’ve been an avid fan ever since. Let’s get to know him a bit better.

Joel Robison

Aside from the mechanics of photography (e.g. the exposure triangle, framing and composition), what one piece of advice would you give a person picking up the camera for the first time to help them capture the best image.
I would ask them “why” they are taking the image. Anyone can take a good photo with good equipment but a photographer should always know why they are taking that photo. Is it to tell a story, is it to capture the moment, is it to share something about someone, knowing why you are doing what you are doing is the best way to understand your creative difference and what sets you apart from everyone else.
Which non-­photographer has had the most influence on your creative style? Why?
I think I would say Walt Disney. Growing up I was obsessed with the classic Disney films and his creative energy always inspired me to see the world differently with more magic and more colour.
What creative habit did you add, remove or alter, which resulted in a breakthrough in your work?
Writing things down. I used to pride myself on having a vault of a memory but then I started forgetting photo ideas, emails I had to write, all those things. When I started keeping notebooks (one for photography ideas and one for tasks to finish) I started getting more done, I started being more efficient with my work and I was much more accountable to myself which really helped me do more.
What smell or song brings back a strong memory, pleasant or otherwise?
There’s this one smell of plastic toys in a shopping mall or store that will bring me right back to visiting Disneyland for the first time as a kid. It hits me all of a sudden and I’m reminded of the colours and sounds and excitement of visiting such a magical place. I wish I could bottle it and spray it in my house when I need to feel that whimsy from time to time.
Name one subject, prop or location on your photographic “bucket list” and share why you have not had it in front of your camera … yet.
I think for me it would be Iceland, I know that it’s the photography hot­spot right now but coming from Canada and having a deep appreciation for beautiful landscapes I would just love to explore it and to experience it in my own way. I’m hoping I can see it one day soon with my camera in hand.
Some artists embrace the unknown. Others try to control for it. Which are you? Why?
Always embrace the unknown. We can never be fully in charge of anything. More often than not, something goes differently than planned during a photoshoot and that’s where things can get interesting if you know how to handle yourself. If it starts raining or the lighting changes or there’s a herd of cows suddenly arriving in your shot it all gives you a chance to think on the spot and see where your creativity leads you. The unknown is fun!
When you need a creative kickstart, what does it for you?
Running. I go for a long run and it usually takes about 10 minutes into it for my brain to filter through all the random things like the weather or what I should make for dinner and then all of a sudden it’s like my mind is in a cloud of creativity and I can think and see differently. It helps calm me down and helps me sleep which are all factors in maintaining creativity.

Catch And Release - Copyright Joel Robison

What is your favorite color? What do you imagine that color tastes like?
I have colour synaesthesia, a neurological phenomenon which for me connects colours to words, names, numbers and dates so colour is very important to me. My favourite colour would be a navy blue, in my mind all the people, days, and memories that have calmed me down are “written” in this navy blue colour. Over time I’ve noticed that my favourite things are sorted into cool colours in my mind while unflavoured things (Mondays, the dentist, math class) were sorted as reds or oranges.

I would imagine that colour probably tastes like a handful of multi-flavoured Jelly Belly’s, changing with each bite and sometimes good and sometimes a bit weird.

Given the opportunity, what fictional character would swap places with?
Hmmm that’s a good question. My first instinct is to say Harry Potter just because I love the stories, but I think if I could I would swap places with Alice from Alice In Wonderland. I’d love to just walk around a world that is totally different from what we know and understand.
Kids, Animals, Fine China, Water and Monster Trucks. You must include two in your composition. Which do you choose? Why?
I would say…..kids and animals even though I feel those are the two most difficult to control. I’d choose them because I think I could come up with some pretty crazy but creative ideas with them and I think they’re typically photos that people really enjoying seeing. Who doesn’t love a puppy?
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