We caught up with Baltimore-based photographer Eric Sipes to share his view of Baltimore. In one sentence: “I go out into the city and take what she gives me,” he says.
THE DARKROOM: Basically, tell me about yourself.
ERIC: I’m 33, and was born in Anderson, South Carolina. I’ve been moving around since a very young age, around 6, due to my father’s work in the restaurant industry. Some of the places I’ve lived include Washington State, Kansas, Texas, Delaware, Tennessee, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the Appalachian Trail (does that count? I think it does.)
I don’t take photos for a living, though I’ve done a few paid gigs and considered the idea. I’m afraid that if I quantify the value of my photos too, that’s all I’ll ever see in them, just dollar signs and that’s not what I want. Currently I’m working in the I.T. field at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute. I’ve only been working here for about 10 months but I’m enjoying it thus far!
Another interesting fact about me is that I am monocular; I lost the use of my left eye when I was 8, due to an accident involving another kid stabbing me in the eye with a stick. I joke about it a lot, generally relish the unique perspective it affords me, which I’d like to think translates into my photography.
DR: Do you use Instagram or just mainly Flickr?
ERIC: I do have an Instagram account, I don’t use it very much as I prefer my DSLR over my phone’s camera but it’s there. I also have accounts on 500px, and loads of albums in Facebook and G+ but that’s mostly for friends and family.
DR: What got you started in photography? When?
ERIC: Honestly I got into photography in late 2008 when I was slightly depressed. I was looking for a way to get a new perspective on things. I went out and bought myself a Rebel XS as a birthday present to myself and began learning the ins and outs of composition, exposure and the controls of the camera, and here I am today. I’m still constantly on photo blogs such as Digital Photography School and looking for things I like on 500px.com.
DR: In one sentence, describe your photography.
ERIC: I like to capture candid moods and textures of people and the places where they spend time, including nature.
DR: Now, describe your style of how you capture Baltimore.
ERIC: I go out into the city and take what she gives me. I carry my camera around with me most days, and if the weather permits I just walk around without a destination in mind. It’s amazing to me how much you can discover about a place you’ve passed 1,000 times if you just take the time to stand there for a moment.
DR: What’s your setup? Lens, camera, lights, Canon vs. Nikon? iPhone? What do you use most?
ERIC: I have a Cannon 5D Mark II, my work horse lens is my 24-70mm 2.8L lens, but I also frequently use my nifty 50. I used to love my 75-300mm 4.5 IS USM but I had to sell that when I returned from the Appalachian trail for lack of funds. Glass is outrageously expensive!
DR: Do you go out looking for photos or do you stumble across scenes to capture?
ERIC: Hard to say really, being prepared to capture my next best shot is practically a constant for me. I suppose you could say that I’m always out looking for photos, as such I generally stumble into them.
DR: Where do you draw your inspiration from? Obviously, most of your Flickr feed is Baltimore-centric. What do you like to focus your work on? Why do you shoot what you do when it comes to your Baltimore scenes?
ERIC: I definitely draw my inspiration from my environment. I find photography to be somewhat meditative, in that I am able to be in the moment. When I have my camera in my hand I become acutely aware of surroundings in a mindful way. A perfect example of this is seeing the beauty of a well-used hand rail or just noticing an errant bloom discarded in the street.
I also find inspiration in new techniques I find interesting when researching photography in books and online. You can see that best in images such as this fire orb effect using long exposure, or this 52 card pickup using a strobe effect.
DR: Has your work been showcased anywhere or do you shoot as a passion project?
ERIC: My work has never been showcased anywhere other than online. I began shooting out of a passion for art and continue to do so today.