Through his hundreds of vibrant photographic collages, his sculptural nudes in his recent series For A Good Time and his frequent editorial work for magazines such as New York Magazine, Nylon and Paper, New York-based photographer Eric T. White experiments with the possibilities and the limits of the medium, treating photography as a mixed media. Growing up with a lifelong passion for photography, White decided to pursue a career in photography after the death of his uncle who left all his cameras to his nephew. Fascinated by the photographic process while stripping down his own techniques to their basics, White almost exclusively uses on-camera flash, creating a consistent edgy and bold aesthetic through his entire body of work. Not only connecting the various aspects of his unique work, White’s uncomplicated process also allows for the possibility for increased compositional innovation, preserving fleeting playful moments with the lens of his camera. With art historical references from Surrealism to Dada to Pop Art appearing in his work, White’s photography captures the powerful beauty of portraiture whether fracturing the human body through eye-catching collage or redefining the nude through fascinating sculptural forms.
1. For the people who might not know you, could you introduce yourself?
My name is Eric T. White and I am a photographer and I also do some multimedia work.
2. How did you develop an interest in photography?
I was in my first year of art school. I had an uncle who was a photographer and, when he died during my first year he left me all of his cameras. After I got his camera, I never looked back because I fell in love with photography.
3. Who are some photographers that influenced your work and your career path?
There has always been a different stage of who I look up to so this answer changes all the time but one of the first photographers that I admired was Helmet Newton. During my art school years, he was a very big influence on me. I happened to be in Europe shortly after I started college where I had the opportunity to visit a Helmet Newton exhibition and that sealed the deal for me. He was really the first photographer whose work I got into.
4. What are some projects that you worked on?
I was really into doing collages for a long time but I slowed down on those lately just because they are so labor-intensive and they take a long time but I still do them sometimes. I really love them. Collages were the first big things I did as a photographer. After that, I assisted other photographers for a long time, I got to travel a lot and I always had a 35-millimeter camera with me so I would take these beautiful shots of the places that I visited. I didn’t really know what to do with them so I ended up using them in collages to give them more life.
5. Who are people you would love to get the chance to photograph?
My number one person on this list would be Barack Obama. It would be so amazing to get the chance to meet him and spend some quality time with him. That would be, for sure, a career highlight, if it happened.
6. Who are some people that you love working with in the past?
It happens all the time, really. When you get the right scenario together and you get an amazing subject together, it’s always really exciting. I think it happens all the time. I leave some shoots thinking about how fun the people I just worked with were so I really couldn’t choose.
7. What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?
I think that the accessibility of photography right now makes it very easy for people to start. Either with film or digital, you can take photos but you must never fall in the trap of thinking you know enough. I did a lot of assisting photographers in the past and I learned that you can never know too much about this field. You can always learn more about the business side of photography, how to take a good photo, printing photos, framing them and so on.
8. How do you teach yourself to take better pictures every day?
It is very important to me that I do personal projects. I do a lot of editorial stuff and commercial work and even if I love working on these, I love doing work on my own. It feels very pure sometimes to just be you and the subject, go out and create something between the two of you. That seems to me like a good way to enjoy being a photographer and better your work at the same time.
9. How would you describe yourself as a photographer? Do you have a certain characteristic that differentiates you from other photographers?
That’s a tough one. Maybe the energy that I try to bring to my shoots hopefully is conveyed in my photos. I really hope that.
10. What do you want people to feel when they look at your work?
I hope that it brings them joy or happiness. I want them to feel good and enjoy the work.
11. What is one thing you wish you knew when you started your career?
I wish I knew how long it takes to actually do this. I thought, as probably a lot of people do, that you just go and take pictures and you become a photographer. It’s almost a lifelong thing if you really want to pursue it. It says that it 10 years to become great at something and I really believe that applies here as well. There is this really great quote about photography, I don’t know who said it but it goes like this “It’s easy to take a good photograph, it’s nearly impossible to take a great photograph”.
12. What equipment do you use for taking photos?
It really depends on what the client is. A lot of my personal projects I shoot film on a 35 millimeter or 21 film. For commercial work, because of time constraints and editing tends to be more digital and for that, I use a Canon.
13. What is your biggest accomplishment so far?
I’ve been in New York for almost 20 years and being here and getting to where I am feels like a pretty big accomplishment on its own.
14. What is the best thing about being a photographer?
The best thing would have to be getting to travel all over the world and meeting new people all the time. That really makes it worth the while.
15. What do you have planned for the future?
I want to keep doing personal projects and probably publish another book. Maybe do some more exhibitions and keep working with amazing people and traveling to great places.
16. Do you have anything to say to the people that support your work?
You’re the best. It is such a competitive field and a very difficult industry to make it in so I really appreciate all the support. I hope that they all know.
17. What are some causes that are dear to your heart and hope to bring more awareness to in the future?
Climate change and ocean pollution. I hint a lot about them in my personal shoots as I always take photos at the beach. Anything I can do to support these causes, I try to because they are of such gravity and we cannot afford to ignore them much longer.
Thank you so much to Eric for agreeing to the interview. You can find more about him and his work on: