ICP Member Spotlight: Q&A with Steven Klapisch

Jul 20, 2018
© Steven Klapisch
© Steven Klapisch

 What first brought you to ICP and why did you decide to become a member?

I have always loved art and have been a member of many museums since moving to Manhattan in 1975. When I became more interested in photography in 2000, I decided that I had to be a member of ICP to increase my knowledge of photography and photographers. In college I had 24 credits of art history as a political science major. Unfortunately, at that time there were no courses in photography as an art.

What has been your favorite ICP moment?

One exhibit brought me to tears and showed me the power of a photograph. The exhibit, Then They Came For Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, was the most moving exhibit that I have seen at ICP. I saw it at a member opening and went back again to experience it a second time, and then a third time. The government incarceration of United States citizens and permanent residents without due process was abhorrent to me as an immigration attorney. Seeing the faces of these Japanese Americans as they posed for the photographer truly brought tears to my eyes. Unfortunately, the tent cities being set up by our government today remind me of the internment camps for the Japanese Americans.

If you could meet any photographer, who would it be and why?

This is a very tough question and I will cheat and name a few photographers, because it is really impossible to narrow it down to only one. The first photographer I would love to talk to would be Vivian Maier. I am now reading Vivian Maier: A Photographer’s Life and Afterlife. I am amazed that she took all those pictures and didn’t want to show them to anyone. I am upset with myself when I get behind in posting my pictures. I enjoy having people see my photos and would love to know why she didn’t.

I have seen the works of Andreas Gursky several times at exhibitions in New York. His large-scale works are just amazing. I bought several of his books, which are a lot more affordable than his photographs! I would love to discuss his thought process and how he achieves his large-scale photos.

I would also enjoy speaking with Thomas Struth. His work is truly inspiring to me because he takes such different types of photos. I saw his work at a major exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2014. I enjoy taking architectural photos and he takes great ones.

© Steven Klapisch
© Steven Klapisch

What do you love about taking photographs?

I enjoy using my camera to capture a scene that is unique or interesting from my perspective. Having my camera with me makes me more attune to possibilities of a photograph in every block that I walk in New York City. I shoot with two Sony mirrorless cameras and I also take a lot of pictures with my iPhone 7 Plus. I have taken an iPhone photography class at ICP and that class really helped me to be a better iPhone photographer. I also take classes at my local Apple Store, which has great Photo Walks classes every Saturday around different themes.

You work as an immigration attorney. Has your profession and the people you’ve met effected the way you take photographs?

Because of my work I am probably more aware than most people about all the cultures that are in the melting pot of our country. Different neighborhoods in New York City are the cumulative result of many waves of immigration to our city. I try to capture the special qualities of each neighborhood. 

What inspires you to become more involved with photography?

Every day is different, and I want to see something that I can photograph in an interesting way. Early this morning it rained heavily, and I was able to take a lot of photos of puddles with interesting reflections. On the way back to my office after lunch, I passed through a park that has a lily pond. At that moment there were huge cumulus clouds in the sky, and I was able to take about a dozen photos from different angles, capturing the images of the clouds in the pond. I enjoy posting pictures that my friends like in Instagram, Facebook, or my new Smugmug website. I also love buying photography books, so that I can learn from other photographers. The only hardcover books I buy now are photography books, since I do all of my other reading on my phone or Kindle.

ICP Members receive unlimited free admission to the ICP Museum, discounts at the ICP School, invitations to members-only exhibition openings, and much more. Learn how you can become a member today.