365ers is a series of interviews with members from our fantastic community. The interviews were kindly carried out by Loni. We will be releasing a new interview each week over the next month or so, we really hope you enjoy the interviews and learn something interesting about some of the great photographers on the site.

Our first interviewee is Chris Ross, a long time 365er.

The Interview

Tell us a little about yourself

Well, those that know me on this project likely know too much about me already! I'm on my second 365 Project now. When I first started in December, 2009, I lived in Sunny Florida and was married. Through 2010, I found myself single, unemployed, (like a lot of
people), and moving back to my Home State of Ohio after a 20 year absence. When the project ended, I was happily gainfully employed with a great organisation (spelled this way intentionally for our European and Aussie friends), dating whom I consider the “most beautiful one” as she is beautiful inside and outside, and freezing my backside off again in the Midwest US Winters.

Physically, I am a bronze Adonis. My flowing locks of hair, and tall masculine build always get the attention of the females.

Now that you've recovered from crying with laughter, everyone that knows me knows that the last paragraph was “Photoshopped”. I try not to take things too seriously. If I poke fun at something, I usually do not stray too far from the mirror. I like me, and my
alter ego does not take things seriously either. I'm 5'6, bald, middle aged, and have the same waistline I had in High School. Yeah, I'm a wimp. But how many other 48 year old men have ladies asking to do a jello shot off their abdomen? (Did I just say that?)

Have you had any formal photography training?

Formal? No. I have always been artistic, since about age 3. I always excelled in Art Classes. By 8th grade, I was in a Photography Club making my first Shoebox camera. By High School I ran a Camera Department at a Retail store in my home town of Cleveland. I learned by reading, practice, practice, practice, and being able to take sometimes harsh criticism from others. If you can't take criticism, don't ask for it.
However, being artistic teaches you how to compose, plan, and be patient with it. I am the old school film guy. When you shoot film, your resource is limited, so it forces you to plan and compose. In the digital world, it is not uncommon (we've all done it, admit it) to take 300 shots and keep 4. With film, you take 4, and you keep 4.

I have a great appreciation for those that were formally trained, because students in many Universities, for example, still have to pick up a Large or Medium Format camera, and learn the hard way. It makes you better. I will always challenge anyone to try it. While I have never shot large format, but I enjoy shooting medium format on occasion, through the inverted ground fogged glass viewfinder and no camera meter. It forces you to compose, take your time, and concentrate.

When and/or why did you become interested in photography? What about it got your

When I was 6, my Grandmother gave me a camera. It was a Diana 120 Medium Format plastic POS (yeah, you know what POS means). Similar to the notoriously wonderful Holga's now used (a must have for creativity...I still don't have one!) Grandma got the camera for opening up a savings account at the friendly neighborhood hometown bank. Grandma opened up savings accounts all over town. I think she was able to furnish her home that way. For a lousy image and a retrospective commentary, see my 2/4/11 photo:

Why did you start your 365 project?

A fortuitous moment of destiny! A fellow photog friend had mentioned a 365 project I may be interested in seeing, and said “Go check out 365 Project”. He meant 365project.com, not 365project.org. I ended up here. By the way...the other one is a photojournal of a person from 2002, and pales in comparison to this project.

What camera/s do you shoot with?

I shoot mainly with a 9 year old Nikon D1H. At 2.74 whoppin' megapixels, it takes care of me just fine. I have enlarged up to 16x20 with no trouble. And for $250, you too can own one. That hopefully has ended the over hyped megapixel debate.
I also shoot a Nikon D40x for digital. I like the old D1H more though.
For 35mm film (my preference), I have a Nikon N90S, a Canon A1, a Pentax K1000 (my first and still favorite 35mm), and a Minolta something or other that I hardly ever use.
For Medium Format, I have a 30+ year old Mamiya RB67. She needs some new bellows now. Looking on Ebay. This thing will blow away anything manufactured now for 10+ more times the price. Period. And all for $279 with a 70mm lens and 120 back.
I also have a shelf collection. A 1950's Crown Graphics Graflex Large Format, a couple Argus “brick” Medium format rangefinders, a Jiffy Kodax Six Twenty in mint condition, a Canon FE, and 3 Kodak and Ansco Brownies. All are works of art to me.
Oh, and don't forget the iPhone!

I know you still shoot film, in addition to digital. Do you have a preference? And why?

I prefer film. Why? Because they still make it! I'm old school, but I am also adaptable. To expand on that, Digital is convenient. Digital is efficient. Digital is great. Digital also still has a long way to go. Unless there is a digital camera out there that I have never heard of nor can afford, digital is still unable to do a proper exposure in challenging situations, as the sensors can't comprehend the necessary balance of shadows, midtones, and highlights.
When someone shoots digital, they always ask “Why are my shadows too dark, highlights blown out, etc, etc. Film balances exposure better, is more vibrant and dimensional out of the camera (if you shoot color reversal), and is much sharper.
I read a very boring but informative book that really teaches the science of exposure. For the curious insomniacs that are lusting for great overall exposure, I highly recommend “Ansel Adams, The Negative, Book 2”. It focuses more on developing your own film, but also, if you read between the lines, teaches it through the camera too.
Look at National Geographic. The best images...from film, not digital.

What's your favorite lens and why?

My favorite lens...hmmm. Usually it is the one that is attached to the camera when I need to shoot something on the fly. I am not one to carry a huge backpack of cameras and lenses around. Yes, I have a backpack, but I rarely take it with me. It is usually 1 camera, and 2 lenses, one of which is in my pocket.
Because I enjoy landscapes the most, my favorite is likely my Nikkor 35mm f2.0. It has little distortion or chromatic aberration, good range of depth, auto focuses accurately, and is sharper than a swimsuit model on the cover of Sports Illustrated. I am not a macro shooter. And, for those that know me, I am not a “Bokehmeister”.
What is a Bokehmeister, you ask? I made the word up. It is an individual that is always using the word, and has no idea how to properly achieve it. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against that. I think it is great that people still want to learn how to do something, rather than let technology do it for them. We need more of that.
Landscape photography usually requires smaller lens openings, so I do not spend a lot of money on fast lenses. If I could afford them, I probably would!

What's your favorite photo from your project?

For my second project, I can honestly say that I do not have one, yet. If I was forced to choose one, it would be this one:

It is metaphorical for many of us. For me, a door, as someone from this project caringly counseled me on when things were at a lot point early in 2010, are opened when another one closes. It is true.
And yes...I have a door fetish. I find many doors fascinating in their architecture and style.

What do you like to photograph most? For instance, do you like portraits, landscapes, fine art, or just anything or anyone that steps in front of your camera?

I love landscapes. I am known as the guy that gets up before the sun comes up to prepare to “find” something to shoot. If it is a good day, I find what it is right before the light is right. I do not plan my shots beforehand.
It is an adventure for me to hop in the car occasionally, and put a music CD in. When the CD is over, I get off at the freeway exit. And that is where I will find something to shoot. I have no idea what it will be. Anything. If the light it right, it was worth the 60+ mile drive.

Who do you like to follow on the 365project?

I do like to specifically follow those that use this, like I, as more of a daily photojournal. I like their wit, their honesty, their emotion. I also like to follow some that accomplish things that I do not do, or perhaps would like to do. It helps me to learn by observing.
I feel that a commentary from the photographer is essential in this project. It helps the viewer get inside their head. When that occurs, the individual has, to me, really shared their photo. I know that not everyone has a commentary about the image, and some images definitely speak for themselves. But, I would encourage anyone to say something. Honestly, if an image is titled “IMG24092” I usually pass it up. Why? Because I do believe that if a photographer doesn't take the time to think about giving the image a title that expresses the image in their words in a forum like this, then maybe they didn't take too much time to think when they shot it.
I have opinions, I know. Like it, or not. I yam what I yam. It doesn't make me right. It just is what it is.

Thank you for choosing me as an interviewee on this wonderful project. I am definitely not close to being a great photographer. I just have a passion for it, as I have had for many years. However, with this project, I am part of a great community of great people. When you have that, nothing is impossible, is it?

Read more interviews from this series...

365ers - Chris Ross
365ers - Lauren Dahlhauser
365ers - Jesse Wallace
365ers - The Steve
365ers - Rochelle Cassidy

Thanks Loni!

Loni was kind enough to create this series of interviews. Why not check out her project or leave a few nice words in the comments below.

posted March 15th, 2011
Great interview! Always fun to get inside your head, Chris!
posted March 15th, 2011
awesome interview Chris , Loni well done too . Nice to read about one of my longest favorite people. But yeh i already knew most of it lol . Keep up the good work Chris.
posted March 15th, 2011
Awesome interview Loni and Chris.
posted March 15th, 2011
So glad these are back!
posted March 15th, 2011
Chris, You can be the Voice of 365 anytime! Great wit and insight.
posted March 15th, 2011
Fabulous interview!! Nice to see this feature back on the blog.
posted March 16th, 2011
great piece.... love these articles and glad to see there are back
posted March 16th, 2011
Enjoyed the interview, and yes I have enjoyed some of the photos too.
posted March 16th, 2011
Love the interview thing! Great way to get to know some of the more focal 365ers!
posted March 16th, 2011
Fantastic idea and love the interview :)
posted March 16th, 2011
Great article and I too am loving having the interviews back, it is wonderful to get to know each other a bit better.
posted March 16th, 2011
Great to see this back up and running. :)
posted March 16th, 2011
nice to get to know you better, Chris! Good job Loni.
posted March 16th, 2011
A fantastic read!
posted March 16th, 2011
I love to read these interviews!
posted March 16th, 2011
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAH, seriously Chris, you never fail to make me laugh.
posted March 16th, 2011
Awesome interview!!! :)
posted March 16th, 2011
Great interview, nice to be introduced to someone new and great job Loni.
posted March 16th, 2011
Great interview!!! :) I read every word of it and enjoyed it!
posted March 17th, 2011
@mrssmith @daliadestructo @allie912 @liipgloss @chevymom @allie912 @melissapike Hahahahahaha. I am surprised it wasn't edited!
posted March 17th, 2011
Chris you are not a bronze Adonis. with flowing locks of hair, and tall masculine build always get the attention of the females? I alway thought you put up a fake picture! Great interview with a wonderful friend.
posted March 17th, 2011
Really enjoyed the interview, Loni and Chris... and I am also glad there will be more. I loved the interviews that were done last year.
posted March 18th, 2011
Chris, you almost make me want to pick up my camera again. Great interview! (And I'm sure that photo of your rear end from last year holds the record for most views EVER.) :)
posted March 18th, 2011
Great interview Chris and Loni! Enjoyed every word.
posted March 19th, 2011
48 and doing jello shots off the ladies...something to strive for :). Great interview guys. I have many memorable photos and many were from Chris. I actually recalled one just the other day when gazing up at the sky and seeing what appeared to look like a cloud formation in the shape of a middle finger. Some that follow Chris might remember it. Classic Chris photo!
posted March 19th, 2011
enjoyed this!
posted March 19th, 2011
Wonderful interview, Loni and Chris!! Thanks for making me laugh ;-)
posted March 19th, 2011
@lintbrush Matt, me thinks you are referring to The Finger of God image, below:

posted March 19th, 2011
@moncooga HAhahahahahaha! Ya, I could pick this out as a Chris photo without the watermark :-)

You were a really good interviewee :-) I had forgotten how funny it was!
posted March 19th, 2011
Very fun and cool interview! really enjoyed reading!
posted March 20th, 2011
ok ... i have a lot of pix to go look at! loved the interview. well done!
posted March 27th, 2011
A great interview. Nicely done, and it's always nice getting to know others through this medium.
posted March 17th, 2012
Love the interview but can't view the first 2 pictures. I get a broken image icon and the message from 365 "That page cannot be found right now" !Sure hope this gets fixed since I particularly want to see young Chris' first photo.
posted April 24th, 2014
Wonderful interview! I love what you said about giving the photo a title. I waited from April 6 until April 20 to post one of my photos because I could not come up with an appropriate title until then!
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