We had the good fortune of connecting with Moses Sparks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Moses, what inspires you?
As a photographer, I find inspiration in many other art forms, such as cinema, music and painting, as well as the natural world around us. Ansel Adams put it very eloquently: “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, and the people you have loved.”
I also take inspiration from the media itself. For me, photography has always been this lovely marriage of art and science. To be truly fluent with the camera, you must master the math…a deep understanding of exposure, light, optics, and composition is vital, but those things alone will inevitably lead to perfect, boring images. You have to go deeper and find ways to infuse your own unique voice and perspective into the work. Great photographers have always learned this intricate dance and made fascinating pictures because of it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve had a lifelong love affair with making pictures. As a kid I would tinker with whatever Kodak Brownie or Polaroid camera was around, and when I was about 13 I convinced my parents to let me build a darkroom in the basement. It was really my Mom’s laundry room, but I put up black cloth and proceed to mix chemicals, develop film, and make prints there. I took pictures of anything and everything. In high school I shot photos for the school newspaper.
I learned anywhere I could: Classes at local colleges, assisting professional photographers, a correspondence course from New York Institute of Photography, and an endless stream of books (this was all pre-internet). I experimented nonstop with cameras, lenses, and especially lighting. Eventually I began to get assignments from magazines and corporate marketing departments.
It was a building process, and I always had one guiding principle: Whatever the client asked for, I delivered, but then I gave them more as well. More angles, more poses, more options, and more ideas. Based on the call backs it worked really well for me, and those clients referred me to others.
Along the way I have worked for most of the major TV and film studios (NBC Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers) and corporate clients such as Public Storage, Bank of America, IKEA, Amazon, and Blue Cross. I have had images published in Rolling Stone, Fortune, Wired, Entertainment Weekly, Harpers Bazaar, and Variety.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am fortunate enough to know a huge number of crazy talented musicians, so I would probably take my friend on a tour of the dive bars that don’t make the news, but nonetheless host some of the best music you will hear in Los Angeles. That list would include the Maui Sugar Mill, The Writeoff Room, Baked Potato, Smokehouse on Main, Sweetwater Cafe, and the Hideaway.
And for eats, some of my favorite haunts are Sotta and Base Camp in Burbank…funky, laid back, great food and atmosphere.
And finally, since the pandemic turned me into a wildlife photographer, I know a lot of great hiking spots where you can see animals, such as the hills above Griffith Park.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
For me, the most basic Shoutout I can recall would have to be the original Life magazine. My parents always had it around the house and it was quite literally a window into another world for me. Seeing the astonishing pictures of people, places, and events I would otherwise never witness was very powerful. I still remember being fascinated by the idea that a photographer was standing there at that exact moment, and captured it in an image to be shared for all time. It was really magic, and something I yearned to do.
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