A moment with photographer Richard Hodder (@inthedrink)
Richard Hodder is possibly more well-recognized by his Instagram Moniker @inthedrink… His photos are epic and, uniquely, they span across a range of different discourses of photography – from pulled out landscapes, to emotive journalistic portraiture, to visceral underwater photography, to surf action… Last week, Richard was in Australia wave hunting and shooting RVCA advocate Jordan Griffin, so we caught up to throw some questions at him:
Thanks for meeting with us Richard… Let’s start with the most interesting thing i heard about you – that you were once an accountant! how did everything change for you, from living in the corporate world, to living in the creative world?
It was a gradual change but it wasn’t by accident. I kicked off a career in finance, deep into numbers and spreadsheets. Automatically anything with less structure with less rules became more appealing. I wanted a job that allowed me to feel more freedom so I stopped chasing jobs with large financial rewards and started doing jobs in industries that were more fun and more in line with the life I wanted to live until essentially work didn’t feel as much like work any more.
Taking photos was a hobby through this time and I never thought I would end up being able to say goodbye to those spreadsheets forever. Photography was something I did for fun and for myself, but once I started sharing with my close friends and family I got excited about the prospect of sharing moments to people I had never met before… and that enjoyment I got grew and grew.
I think my very first was a small square box shaped point and shoot fujifilm digital camera… But it was when I got my second camera, a Ricoh CX1 that I started to really take more photos. It was small and black & was really easy to travel with and take with me everywhere. At the time I really didn’t know anything about taking photos but this camera let me start shooting and I felt comfortable taking it with me everywhere I went so it became something I never left behind.
When did you start to develop more of a style and start trying to capture moments, aesthetic and the vibe of the shots you were taking?
That CX1 had this ‘high contrast black and white’ function on it, and it took these crazy grainy black and white photos… I realized that if I covered the lens with my hand before I took the shot, and quickly took my hand away it would over-expose the image. It would leave only pure black and whites. I didn’t even know why or how the photos turned out how they did or what was going on mechanically, it just looked really cool to me so I kept shooting that way for ages.
Do you still have any of those shots?
Yeah I have them all somewhere.. there were a couple that really stand out now looking back on them, one is a shot of a fisherman wayyyyy up on a cliff in Portugal… He was actually fishing too which was wild, because the cliff was huge. He was throwing a basket off to scoop up the fish and when he caught like 2 fish he was off… Catching the family dinner.
That kind of stuff got me into the whole ‘trying to capture more than just memories’ thing, and I started to look at the different elements of photography to capture something differently to how I had seen it captured before, in my own way or style I guess.
At what point did you start embracing the underwater world of photography?
I love the ocean and surfing, and got hyped on photos of line ups and waves in surfing magazines because they somehow took me to places that I really wanted to go. Then, gradually I started seeing water shots and the angles of being in the water. I was hyped on getting close and being in the water it meant that me and my mates weren’t so disconnected from the action.
As a kid I always wanted one of those bright colored water housings, I thought they were cameras initially and took me ages to realise there was actually a camera inside and they were just waterproof boxes… I was just thinking like ‘I want one of those bright orange cameras, they’re like big and look plastic they look sick!’ Then I learned a bit about life and worked out that actually you can have everything you want, so I saved up and found a cheap second hand housing. Haha so I actually bought the camera to put in it AFTER I bought the housing, which is so backwards. But once I got the camera I jumped at every single opportunity to use it – on weekends and even before and after work, I was pretty hooked.
People or scenery? What is your favorite kind of photography?
Mostly I probably like to do a series of shots that captures a bit of everything. But I guess the most fun is if your right up connecting with someone shooting a portrait. It’s such a cool feeling. Sometimes it’s hard to get in that zone to go up to someone and ask permission to take a photo and even more so for it still to look natural. Once you start hanging with someone and getting to know them without the camera between you, it then becomes easier to shoot a photo pretty naturally without it being too intrusive or feeling rude. To have that authentic candid thing you have to just embrace the person you’re with and just have fun with them – ill often let some moments slip by initially to get into their zone and gain some trust, then eventually you find a moment to shoot something and because you’re comfortable with each other by that point it’s not weird anymore!
Lighting or framing? which is more important to you?
There’s so many different types of photos though different stages over the years that I love… But I guess it was this Black and White photo I took on my CX1 of a lady on a beach in San Sebastian in 2010. I had that one printed and put on the wall at my old workplace about 2m x 1m on some foam board… It was a real starting point, but it’s hard to beat that one for me, I can’t ever go back to that moment and the coolest thing is if I knew what I know now I might have never taken that shot. Being naïve and curious I think is so important about doing photography. I find its best to have no expectations and to convince myself that I know nothing. As soon as you become a professional and you start following the rules it really starts to change everything from your motivation to take photos and your ability to create something unique. I love imperfections, and these will often make a photo feel so much better to me… ie when people put out a photo that aesthetically isn’t perfect, I get so hyped! It shows confidence and also makes an image somehow have more feeling. I enjoy the idea of changing the way things look through the way I’m shooting, embracing the mistakes is actually super enjoyable and is why personal projects can be so much more fun… and really it gives you more creative freedom to do it your way, rather than the way you have seen it done before.
Whose photography or work inspires you?
There are so many people out there shooting photos and that’s the coolest thing! It’s hard to single out one person as basically anyone where you can see passion in their work is totally inspiring… The first person that I ever knew who took photos (apart from my dad) was Rambo Estrada – he’s so incredibly talented and although I think we have quite different styles – he pushes me so much. More recently I have been inspired by another kiwi photographer Joseph Michael – he has shown me so much support and always helps give me confidence to continue to do what I’m doing. I can’t think of a more inspiring and humble person to be around than him for sure.
What’s a question that you’ve always wanted to be asked?
I think you never really get asked questions about your friends or how close relationships are effected by what you do. No one really touches on the personal front. Like how often do you mates hit you up and say ‘how are you going’? Or how often do you wish you were just living in one place so you can be more connected to your partner, your family or friends? Obviously traveling and meeting people is great but it does feel like your missing out when your often away from home and miss those special events or the little things about a home life that are important to you.