Ribe on Portraiture

I fell in love with photography when I started to take picture of people, everywhere I went I couldn’t stop to look at people and immortalize them on camera. Maybe I was just in love with people, the complexity of every human being, their search for answer, their struggle for life, their madness and wisdom. Portraitist go through the difficult task to represent, through a simple image, the complexity of a person. When I came across Ribe’s work on Flickr I couldn’t take my eyes off his portrait. His master of cropping and light aren’t the only reason why his picture stay in your mind for long. More than anything he masters to capture short instants of everyday life that stay immortalized for ever on paper. The humanity and dignity that comes out from every one of his portrait is the essence of what portrait photography should be, a connection between the photographer, the subject and the viewer.


Can you shortly introduce yourself?

My name is Rick Berland and I live in Minneapolis, USA. I work in media, advertising and marketing.

When did you first started photography? Did you ever studied at a school/university?

I have always been interested in photography but had not started to shoot more seriously until the winter of last year. I have never studied photography in a school setting. But over the years I have been looking and studying hundreds of photos in books and galleries and now on flickr as well.

You mainly do portraits, what does interest you in portraiture?

I felt into shooting portraits of strangers on the street by accident. I had not planned what to shoot but where I walk and shoot, a three blocks section of downtown, there are only people or buildings to shoot. I choose the people.

What makes a good portrait?

For me, if I can catch a compelling face whether it is an emotion or an expression then I’m happy to have shot it. I try to make pictures that are evocative, hopefully a compelling image.

What is that interest you in photography?

So many things but here some that come to mind right now: light, form, shapes, shadows, tones, subject, movement, and that elusive quality that makes a picture striking and I don’t mean “pretty” but something that you can’t always put it into words that moves me.

How would you describe your work and how do you choose the subjects you work on?

If I had to describe it I think it would have to be street photography, maybe existential street photography.
When I go out shooting I don’t go out with a list of the faces I want to capture. I run into people that interests me, it happens fast so I don’t have time to think about it. I usually go out for an hour or less twice a week. Most of the time I don’t get something I like. It is those times I do get something that keeps me interested in shooting and in photography.

Can you tell us more about the series “Out”?

This is the series of the people I have shot on the streets that includes all the shots I have taken in Minneapolis with a few pictures from London from 2007 when I was there visiting my brother.
“Out” is basically all have done since I started shooting over a year ago, an ongoing development of my
style and subject.

How do you approach the people you photograph?

This is a tough question to answer because I don’t have a planned approach to shoot a person and every situation is different. But over the past year I have developed various ways to approach someone without them knowing I’m shooting a picture of them. I try to sneak a shot of them but sometimes they see the camera. It all happens fast which is a good thing. I don’t want to be intrusive withthe camera, I just want to capture a moment of them. Someone told me that what I was doing was stealing a bit of their souls and that the way I was doing it was sneaky. Maybe I’m being sneaky but I would never ask someone to pose for me.

What lighting and camera do you use?

The digital camera I use is a point and shoot Leica D-lux 3 and the lighting is always available light. I really like this camera because is small/light and easy to use fast. I use the same camera settings most of the time. I’m lazy as far as experimenting with different exposure settings.

What are you trying to capture through photography?

Whatever I can get that is somewhat compelling and interesting to look at.

To the viewer of your work what feeling or impression would you like to leave?

Hopefully I can make them feel something or see something different.

Right now are you working on a specific subject? If yes can you tell us more about it?

I’m doing the same subject, shooting people on those three blocks I walk twice a week. I’m working on getting better at it, making backgrounds work better for the image which it’s hard to get because there isn’t time to get framing options. I usually shoot without looking at the lcd to make it less obvious I’m taking a picture. So guessing the frame makes it more difficult to control the background.

What are your main inspirations?

Anything that is visual and sounds good. Books, films, galleries, paintings and music.

What do you look for in other photographers work?

The ability to make something out of nothing. For me, the best photography captures a simple moment in a way that is compelling and moving. This does not apply to photo journalism which is something entirely different approach.

If you could invite 3 photographers or artists a dinner who would it be and why?

Fancis Bacon, Jimy Hendrix and Michelangelo. Why, because they are three great artists doing completely different things and from different generations. I’m sure they would make an interesting dinner occasion.

Any young photographers or Flickr members which work you really like and that you would like us to discover?

Yes, that would have to be a Chieska from Flickr. She is a new photographer with a sharp and intuitive eye and she is passionate about her work. Here is her link:

Thank Your Ribe.

Interview by Frankie.

Ribe Flickr Photostream

2 Responses to “Ribe on Portraiture”

  1. a really interesting read… so enjoyable to hear the voice behind such a brilliantly mysterious body work.

  2. As Billy said it, very interesting reading. You will be curious after a time when somebody’s work is interesting for you, who prepared them. I got to this page in this manner from the part of the flickr being “about you”. Burns there reticent the description, finding out more about you was good on the other hand here. Many successes to your works.

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