BERTRAND JUBA ROBERS, 24 SECONDS A FRAME
In the pages of Conscious Magazine, we challenged Brooklyn-based photographer, Bertrand Juba Roberts, to capture New York and tell its story through his lens. He traveled around New York from Harlem, to Queens, Tribeca, Williamsburg, and more to capture its beauty, culture, people, architecture, and mystery. He gave us about 300 photos, and we could only select a few for this issue. Discover the images making New York, New York. Conscious Magazine, Issue 01
We’re all in the middle of a story, on the middle of a sidewalk, somewhere, in the middle of New York.
Bertrand Juba Roberts, born in Trinidad and Tobago, came to NYC (Brooklyn, specifically) when he was 13 years old. He knew then, that he was truly home.
We asked Bertrand to capture New York’s everyday essence. We wanted to see the city through his lens. We wanted him to create the story.
“As far back as I can remember, I have always been a storyteller, and photography is just one of the ways that I can express that. I have always had a passing interest in photography; it started with disposable cameras, taking pictures of friends and family, then eventually moving on to my first digital camera the Sony Mavica FD91. I wandered the streets with a box of memory cards (floppy disks!) just taking pictures of people and things that caught my eye.
The point of no return was my manager re-reading my resume at the job I work at now. That led to me trying out for the position of the in-house photographer and getting the job.
Photography is my full time job and then some. I shoot 6-7 days a week. I can’t say that I never thought about it as a career. But, that’s what it is, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Q | What makes you stop and say, “I need to take a photo right now?” A feeling, an internal voice. It has grown louder over the years, as I have gotten more comfortable with my equipment.
Q | Do you believe that people can be naturally gifted at photography, or is it something they can learn? Does one need some sort of X factor? People can be naturally gifted at many things. I don’t think that’s all there is to it though. You have to be able to learn from your mistakes, grow consistently, and pay attention to the details. I am pretty sure that I was not naturally gifted, but I am hungry. To this day, I am constantly seeking out information. The X factor (to me) means working harder than the next person. Not because you want to be better at your craft than they are, but because you are never satisfied with your own work.
Q | Regarding your self portrait, please explain how this best represents who you are. Although it is always awesome to be recognized for the work that I do, I am a pretty shy person. Most times, I would rather people see my work and not me. This self portrait is me accepting the fact that every now and then, you gotta show a little face!
Q | Who inspires your photography? As corny as this may sound: life. I am constantly inspired by the things that happen around me and the way that people interact with one another. Living in a city like NY with so much to do and see helps. As far as people go, Joe McNally, Janusz Kaminski, Art Streiber, Erik Almas, and Arnold Schwarzenegger (to name a few).
Q | What is your most memorable moment as a photographer? Which photo of yours has the best story behind it? My most memorable moment was the first time I understood flash photography. I was shooting with a model, and I got the balance between flash and ambient light. It was a genuine eureka moment, and I haven’t looked back since.
Q | What so far is your favorite kind of photo to take? I put a lot of care and thought into most of what I shoot, but hands down this assignment was the hardest but most fulfilling. Now, I wander around and shoot more people interacting. I am more of a natural light shooter in my spare time as well.
Q | How does photography challenge you as a person? And what is the most rewarding part? Photography is easy. The assignments themselves have varying degrees of difficulty/challenge. The most rewarding so far has been this assignment. I have never been to so many areas in such a short period of time. My style has evolved again due to the challenges of this shoot.
Q | Please give us insight into the world of photography. If there is one thing that you would want every aspiring photographer to know, what would that be? Photography is like anything else in life: you get out what you put in. Although, emerging technology has made it easier for anyone to take a picture, there still needs to be some degree of thought behind it. My advice to anyone interested in photography is to ask questions, LOADS of questions. Above all – practice, practice, practice.
Q | Why do you think that when people look at a photo (or stream of photos), they are moved or can feel a connection with them? When people see a frame, a photo, a still, it is exactly that: a still. Life moves by at incredible speed. There are a million little moments that go unseen, a trillion little details that people overlook. A frame held close forces you consciously or subconsciously to see details and impart meaning on the simplest of gestures. If people slowed down and paid attention to the details, then maybe the little things would hold more intrinsic value. Good photography freezes life and makes you feel you are there at 24 frames a second, even when nothing is moving.