Interview by Kanyinsola Aibana

Brian Eggert is a sophomore concentrating in Romance Studies. This fall he took VES 42a with Carlin Wing.  It was his first photography class.

Kanyinsola Aibana: Does your title have a project?

Brian Eggert: So, this was all for my VES 42 Project and I called the book I made Freezing on the Sidewalk. The project evolved from this paper I had to write where the question was: if you had unlimited resources and time and if necessary, superpowers, what would your ideal photography project be? In the paper I said that if I would be invisible and silent so that I could take pictures of motions and freeze time without anyone interacting with the camera. So the Freezing on the Sidewalk title was also a play on words because I was really cold when taking the pictures.

KA: Were you bending down when taking the photograph?

BE: Yeah, I was. So I tried to dress up like a homeless person and blend in with other people sitting on the sidewalk. I just sat on the ground and smoked cigarettes and had a little tripod and a sweatshirt over the camera. So most of the people I shot didn’t know they were being photographed.

KA: That is an interesting thing you say, because for one of my assignments in my class I followed a homeless person around and took pictures of what he did.

BE: I had cool interactions with people who were actually homeless and who thought I was also. Some of them would just sit down and talk to me for a while and a lot of them offered me to go to a shelter to eat a hot meal or asked me if I had a place to stay. It’s kind of nice to see that the people in Harvard Square definitely take care of each other.

KA: How many times did you go out and shoot and how long for each time?

BE: I probably went out twenty times for about an hour each time. Depending on how crowded the Square was, I would fill my memory card in around 40 minutes or an hour. In the last week of shooting I got another memory card and I was spending an hour and a half shooting.

KA: So you used a digital camera?

BE: Yeah, I used a Canon Rebel XXI.

KA: Are there any specific photographers that influence your work or that you particularly like?

BE: Well, Phillip Lorca DiCorcia makes kind of snapshot photography on the street, which I guess is what I am most interested in. Unposed portraits. So yeah, definitely him.

KA: What did you take away from the project and rather the class itself?

BE: Well, I didn’t really know anything about photography before this term. I took studio art in high school and I would have liked to take photography but didn’t have time. So I think I definitely have a new appreciation for photography and how much time goes into making an image. It seems like you can just point and shoot, but I spent probably as much time on Photoshop as I did shooting, to try and get annoying noise out of the background of the shots. So definitely I have a respect for photography that I didn’t have before.

KA: Same here, in my class we used film, so I couldn’t see the pictures I took until they were developed.

BE: I think my experience was kind of similar to yours more so than to anyone else in my class, because when I was shooting I wasn’t able to check the photos because I was trying to keep the camera hidden. So a lot of times something unusual would happen in front of me and I would be like, “I really hope that I got whatever expression,” etc. But then I would get into the lab and it would be out of focus or the timing was wrong.

KA: So you went back to the same place every time to shoot?

BE: Yeah, well when my teacher first told me to try to be invisible, that was kind of a difficult assignment, so I was trying all sorts of things. It was really hard not having people stare down at the camera or put their hand in front of their face. So I started trying it at night because I thought it would be more discreet and the only place where I could get decent shots was this spot with really bright lighting, the newsstand by Cardullo’s. I just kept going back there. I shot in other places a little bit, but none of the shots came out very well.

KA: Do you plan taking more photography classes?

BE: Maybe. I am not a VES concentrator but I definitely like art and exploring different classes that Harvard has. I would definitely like to take some more photography classes as this was my favorite class this term.


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