An Interview With Dr. Lew Rothman

Rothman in front of his exhibit

One of the pleasures of being a photography workshop leader is seeing your clients excel. A few years ago, Dr. Lew Rothman, a retired physician, took my Acadia National Park workshop and I was immediately impressed by his work and his very considered and mindful approach to photography. We have kept in touch ever since. So, it was no surprise to hear that Lew’s work is now on exhibit in the New York area.

One of the many things that impressed me about Lew’s work was its elegant simplicity. He is able to wrest the most evocative images from complex scenes. When I heard about Lew’s exhibit, I immediately contacted him. As an advanced amateur, I though it would be helpful to tap his brain to learn some lessons from this wonderful photographer.

How long have you been doing photography? Since I was 10 or 11.

What drew you to photography? A bachelor uncle bought me a Bolsey B 35mm camera and took me to photo shows at the New York Colosseum and to small print shops. I started taking snapshots and became the photo editor of my high school and medical school yearbooks.

Which photographers most influenced you? Cartier-Bresson, Eisenstadt, Erwitt, Bill Brandt, Salgado, Kertesz

How would you describe your approach to photography? Minimalist, graphic and somewhat formal. I don’t like clutter.

Have photo workshops helped you develop as a photographer? If so, in what ways? Yes. I am always interested in how others see and express themselves. I have learned much from both the instructor and the attendees. There are many esthetic and technical issues to master in digital imaging and workshops are a great way to enhance your skill. I have been fortunate to participate in location workshops with several outstanding photographers learning enhanced camera technique as well as honing processing and printing skills during several workshops.

You shoot mostly in B&W. Why? In part it goes back to my roots in the analog darkroom where I spent many years developing film and enlarging my images but also my attraction to strong graphic images, which I believe B&W conveys more forcefully.

Do you make your own prints? Yes.I prefer smooth matt paper for much of my B&W work but also use baryta papers for my color images and some of my B&W.

What camera equipment do you use? I’ve been a Canon user for many years but have recently been using a Sony a7rII for travel photography because of its small size and excellent image quality. I’m just not crazy about its ergonomics.

What is your favorite lens? Hard to pick one. I like to travel as light as possible. For general purpose and travel it’s been the Canon 24-105 F 4 L, for the animal work it’s the Canon 70-300 F 4-5.6 L.

Any suggestions for fellow photographers? I am an amateur at heart. I love photography, so have fun, look at a variety of images from other photographers. Use the work you admire as templates and shoot a lot and connect with other photographers.

To see Lew Rothman’s exhibit, visit the Belskie Museum Art Wall at the Closter Library, 280 High St, Closter, NJ 07624. Exhibit hours are Mon-Wed 9:00 AM-9:00 PM; Thu-Sat 9:00 AM-5:00 PM.

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