Self-taught photographer Robert McCarter on why he’s drawn to Bonneville, what it’s like to create emotion for others in his photos, and why shooting Walmart parking lots was way more fun than Black Friday shopping.
How did you get introduced to photography?
I’ve always been interested in cars so it was only natural to take photos of what I liked for either ideas or inspiration. My photography skills progressed from there.
When sizing up a subject or shot, what’s the first thing you focus on?
Since most of my photography is what I happened upon, I focus on what I want in the shot first then immediately after I focus on what I don’t want in the frame. The latter is most often the hardest part to work around.
Capturing that perfect slice of time – how do you know where you need to be for a shot?
That usually happens right after I’ve missed that moment, but you remember the mistakes, learn from it and move on to making new mistakes.
How have you evolved as a photographer from your first days at this craft?
I started out just shooting cool cars or ideas I wanted to use on my own projects. Now I find myself shooting for other people. By that I mean trying to capture something that creates an emotion for others.
Best piece of advice you ever received about photography?
Don’t throw anything away. Even if it’s a horrible photo, look at it, study it, figure out what is wrong with it and what you could have done differently. Obviously, this is easier in the digital age.
From your experience, have your best shots come from perfect planning or accidents?
Accidents by far. Even if it was a planned shot, I learned how to reproduce it from a previous happy accident.
You’ve spent some time shooting at Bonneville, and you have a book aptly named Salt Shaker. How did this project come about?
I used to mail photo DVDs to friends as a way to share my photographs of the major shows and events I attended. However, some of these friends are PC handicapped or had no means to view a DVD. After my first visit to Bonneville I came up with the idea of making a cheap little book I could send to friends. I printed the first version at home and showed it to a few locals who encouraged me to make a serious effort at it to sell. The project grew from there.
– Robert McCarter