wise elephant, making it happen

Rivka Katvan, Editorial Photographer

By Jason Moriber • Feb 17th, 2009 • Category: Guru Interviews

I first met Rivka Katvan at the loft/studio she shares with her husband, Moshe, on west 17th street in NYC. I knew the studio for its product shots; super-clean, sharp, still-life, work. At the time I had no idea about Rivka’s editorial/personal work, and found it by accident when I read a review of one of her series.

Since then I’ve followed her new works, and was struck most recently by her images of Cus D’amato’s boxing gym. Maybe it’s my nostalgic predisposition for boxing imagery a la George Bellows and the “Ashcan School”  mixed with escapism of a simpler life in the country. Either way, its always neat to see the personal work of an artist, which is sometimes very different than the work they do for their “day job.”

(We put together a short portfolio of Katvan’s boxing images, here, in tandem to this brief interview.)

WE: What about this gym and boxers in particular did you find most intriguing?

RK: During my photo essay on Catskill small town America I was introduced to the Cus D’amato Boxing Gym an historic site of the old court room with Art Deco details and the famous boxers that have graced it:
Cus D’amato, Floyd Patterson, and Mike Tyson. This boxing gym fueled my creative fire. The contrast between the art of boxing and the ornate interior of the gym was intriguing.

WE: So you live upstate as well as in the city?

RK: Yes.

WE: How or why did you decide to live upstate?

RK: We live upstate on the weekends and holidays/vacations to get away sometimes from the hustle and bustle of city life (we do love it, but a break is nice at times).

WE: What about the upstate experience influences your work? More than you thought
it would?

RK: The most influential experience has been the examples of the American small town, which provide a refreshing contrast to the urban community and prove stimulating for artistic expression.

WE: Can you provide an example of this contrast that influences your work directly?

RK: Looking at the people and the place, you just figure it out. Four years ago, on a trip during Memorial day I was intrigued by the people, it was so Americana. I was invited to show my work there. The local people were very inviting; in fact they made comments and suggestions about my work.

WE: Should all photographers be doing some sort of personal editorial work?

RK: Definitely. It actually helps to inspire you and to bring some artistic flare into your commercial work.

WE: In what direction do you see the photography moving?

RK: Very Avant Garde, much less traditional.

WE: Do think this is because photographers need to differentiate themselves more and/or is it because so many agencies are using stock photography?

RK: I think photographers want to come up with something different. My wrok is very traditional, But a lot of people, specially at the photography salon I take part in on, every 3rd Wednesday of he month, I see different types of work, ask questions.

Last I went there I saw young woman, who puts masks on her subjects, creates situations in a very untraditional way. A lot of people are trying to be different. Everything has been done, what more can you show?

But I still go back to the romantic photo. It speaks to me, the traditional always speaks to me. These days 95% of ehat you see in a final image was done in photoshop. I’m not criticizing it, its another form of art, but its up to you. I like old photographs.

WE: What advice would you give a new photographer just launching their career?

RK: Just keep shooting even if you don’t have access to any work at the moment. Build up a nice portfolio, put it out on the web and if you can afford it, just promote yourself as much as possible.


Learn more about Rivka Katvan at her website: http://katvan.com

Jason Moriber is a veteran product/project/marketing manager, underground artist/musician, and online community developer, Jason expertly builds/produces/manages clients' projects, programs, and campaigns. Follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/jelefant
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