Interview

February 24, 2016

Howl: Portrait + Wittiest Photographer of the Year

2015 Stocksy Awards: Celebrating the Best in the Biz. The Stocksy Awards celebrate photographers across twenty-one categories who produce truly outstanding work that not only takes our breath away, but pushes the industry forward. Visit awards.stocksy.com to check out our 2015 winners and to watch the awards show video. Keep your eye on the blog for interviews with all our winners!

HOWL is Forest Woodward, Elliot Ross, Jim Lind and Patrick O’Brien. Based in New York City, the team’s core ideology is to craft authentic experiences that celebrate real moments and people.
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// How did the HOWL collective come to be?

Late on a unseasonably cold spring night in a windowless, mostly empty music venue on Bowery in New York City, we ordered a pitcher of Six Point and a few whiskies. Frustrations with our jobs in the photo industry- namely long hours with little pay foamed to the top. Forest’s smile grew bigger and bigger and we knew something was up. He outlined a plan for the four of us to escape the grind, spend more time with one another while creating work together. Sounds good right? The core ideology behind HOWL was and always has been about crafting authentic experiences with each other and our friends (the pack) and to make a comfortable living while doing so.

// What’s the story behind your winning images?

The portrait reflects a moment between a fisherman named Stan and Elliot. Stan along with a few other local Santa Cruz fisherman were celebrating the start of a partnership called Real Good Fish (http://www.realgoodfish.com/) who strive to reduce environmental impacts of fishing and distribution by supporting sustainable practices and focusing on keeping networks between the ocean and our mouths small and immediate.

The image of our spaceman actually created a bit of a heated moment between us! We were a week into traveling through South Island New Zealand, close quarters in small vans, soggy clothing and all- spending a considerable effort on creating a short film titled Space with our friends at Gnarly Bay. Despite Patrick’s insistence that Elliot not cross a barricade and out onto an active glacier, he did so anyway while donning a 40 pound Hollywood prop house spacesuit. The squads of rangers never appeared, we weren’t deported and Elliot came back smiling. Patrick was fuming, but after a meal and some wine, Howl was howlin’ again.

// What has been the greatest influence in your work?

This is a complex question to answer considering there are four very active members that all have quite different backgrounds in life and their creative pursuits. One of most important values that we share is empathy. Only through taking steps to understand our subjects or a story in great length can we craft work that has meaning. Our biggest fear is creating work that doesn’t do justice to our subject and letting others down. This is the same pressure many of the FSA photographers of depression era America must have felt. It’s easy to be inspired by the approach of masters such as Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans through the difficult and sensitive subjects they documented.

“It’s simple, we love what we do, and especially when we’re doing it together.”

// What creative projects are you currently working on?

Well, we are wrapping up a campaign shoot with the Savannah College of Art and Design. The alma mater for three quarters of HOWL. That felt nicely full circle to be receiving money and not giving to SCAD! Our eyes are also turned to Rio De Janeiro and celebrating Carnival in the fray of those tight, colorful streets and crush of humanity and tradition. We have a healthy pack of friends joining us on this one; it’s bound to be one for the books.

// How do you stay motivated to shoot and create?

Finally an easy question! It’s simple, we love what we do, and especially when we’re doing it together. Naturally, everyone’s energy ebbs and flows, so we take it upon ourselves to step up and carry the good vibes when needed.

// What is the creative community like in your hometowns?

We all came from very different backgrounds, but we can say the creative community here in NYC is like an an apple pie a la mode, cold on the outside but warm on the inside. You just gotta do a bit of digging to see why so many interesting people are drawn to this creative melting pot.

Howl’s full collection >


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