Rob Dobi Photographer Interview | Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

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Rob Dobi is an outstanding designer, illustrator, photographer, and is also the owner of the well known clothing line, Fullbleed. He was kind enough to answer a few questions from me about his photography, specifically. You can check out his Flickr account here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robdobi

robd

First off, Rob, how about you let the readers know a bit more about you personally?

I am a 28 year old designer / illustrator / photographer from Trumbull CT. I have been exploring and documenting abandoned buildings for the past decade.

How did you get into photography? Were you self taught?

I was entirely self taught. When i was in my freshman year at RISD there was a surplus of abandoned buildings in the area. My friends and I would explore them and i decided I wanted to document them somehow. At the time I had no photography experience and was shooting with a Sony Mavica (which used floppy disks as storage) and over the years I just honed my craft more and more.

Rob Dobi

How long have you loved photography? Have you loved it all your life?

I was never really into photography growing up, I think the illustrator in me always found it kind of cheap to make an image out of something that already exists rather than creating one on your own. That mindset changed when I was in college and started to realize how hard it was to actually properly convey what it seen in front of you, still something I struggle with to this day.

Tell us about the equipment you use?

I use a nikon d80 w/ a variety of pretty cheap lenses, and a manfroto 3001bpro tripod. it also doubles as a hobo defense mechanism.

Rob Dobi

Would you give a brief walk through your work flow to get ready for a shoot?

I usually just pack water, toilet paper, snacks and make sure I have the proper stuff for safety, gloves, flashlight, phone, respirator, etc… not much else to it! I don’t pack any sort of equipment for lighting, everything I shoot is natural light, no need to fake it.

I know you probably wouldn’t consider yourself a “professional” photographer but your work is truly amazing, how do you classify what you do? Do you consider it just a hobby?

Yeah it is strange, I have certainly been photographing stuff for awhile but i don’t consider myself a professional all that much. I am an illustrator by trade so I think i take what I know in terms of illustration (composition, lighting, etc…) and apply it to my photos. Technically I am an idiot when it comes to photographs, I just know what works and what doesn’t and how to cover up for my weaknesses. If you asked me to take a portrait of someone in a studio type setting I would probably have an anxiety attack. I photograph dead stuff that doesn’t move, photographing people seems to voyeuristic to me.

Rob Dobi

I know you mainly photograph awesome “abandon area”s, tell us more about that?

I have just always found them fascinating, It isn’t about the haunting or creepy aspect at all. It is the thrill and sheer overwhelming feeling when you walk into a wide open factory that used to employ thousands, or a theater that could seat just as many, and now they just sit there with dust covering everything completely frozen in time. No signs of life in decades, no sound whatsoever, just you and your footprints. It has a post apocalyptic feel at times, like you are the only one left on earth. To me I almost feel at home in this situation, I am a fairly introverted person so just me and the click of my camera is a calming feeling.

Rob Dobi

How do you decide on and find locations?

I do a bunch of research locally, scouring newspapers, flickr, youtube, etc… you’d be surprised how much stuff you can find that nobody else knows about just by one person mentioning it somewhere on the internet. 10 years ago it was usually me just driving aimlessly and finding spots, now with all the social networks etc… it is pretty easy to find stuff / people to explore with instantly.

When you are in these places and walking through, what do you try to look for in your shoots?

Usually just everyday mundane subject matter, but shot in a style that shows how empty / decayed things have become. I think it is the stuff people are most familiar with that resonates the most, there is a sense of understanding when it is something people can associate with.

Rob Dobi

I think what makes your photographs so good is the composition and lighting, how many shots do you usually take in a certain area to get both of those so perfect?

I usually know right off the bat what works and what doesn’t. If I take more than one it is usually just to make sure my lines are totally straight.

What motivates you to do what you do?

I just want to have fun and document what nobody else can see.

Rob Dobi

What makes a good photographer, in your opinion?

Anyone who can tell a story with one static image.

If you could be a photographer full time (doing everything from sporting event shoots to weddings), would you?

If I was paid to shoot abandoned buildings, sure, anything else, not really. I don’t really have the knowledge to shoot anything else, shooting people freaks me out, feels so intrusive (this coming from the guy who trespasses). The real reason I shoot what I shoot is because I love the feeling of being inside these places, I would explore them even if I didn’t have a camera by my side.

Rob Dobi

Do you sell any of your prints online anywhere, if so, where can we buy them?

Sure, I have a print store at http://robdobi.imagekind.com

Thanks for taking the time Rob to talk to us, any final thoughts or expert advice to give to the amateur photographers reading?

Don’t use HDR or I will hunt you down and hurt you.

Rob Dobi


Post Author: Zach Reed

Zach is the owner of Blue Tide Productions from Indianapolis, IN, USA. He loves music, Qdoba, watching movies and enjoying life! He made this fine blog, also! ;) You can follow him on Twitter (@bluetidepro)!


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Author: Zach Reed

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  • Jess

    This really helped me on a school assignment. Thank you!

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