Old cars, they just don’t make them like they used to: Joe Reifer interview

Night photographer Joe Reifer interviewed by Laura Greb

1. Your photography is pretty unique in subject such as the broken down campers and cars in the junk yard. It's an interesting perspective, do you mind explaining it?

I primarily shoot at night with a focus on abandoned places. The junkyard work is part of a larger fascination with the Southern California desert, primarily the Mojave. The desert is a great preserver of once gleaming artifacts. And I love old cars -- they just don't make 'em like they used to.

2. What current projects are catching your interest? 

Later this summer I'll be featuring a new body of work from a really interesting historical location on my website. I've made two trips to the Mojave Preserve this year to photograph mining ruins.

I’m also gearing up to teach night photography workshops at an abandoned desert junkyard called Pearsonville with photographer Troy Paiva. The workshops feature 3 nights of shooting in an amazing location with hundreds of cars from the 50's, 60's, and 70's. During the daytime we go over lighting techniques, post-processing, and do critiques.

3. Where has your work previously shown? 

I've primarily shown in local San Francisco venues and small West Coast galleries. I enjoy printing, and the process of editing and sequencing for a show. That being said, I'm pretty selective about where I show -- it has to be fun. For the last 5 years I've shown work at a unique venue called Lucky Ju Ju that is a combination pinball museum and art space.

4. Any current shows you're focusing on? 

This spring I had a couple of pieces in a group show in San Francisco, and at a gallery in Oregon. I'm hoping to put a small show together this fall, but I'm still working on the details. Most of my energy goes into shooting and displaying images online. The most important part of photography for me is the adventure of going to interesting places. Photographing at night is a way to document these journeys with a touch of the surreal.

5. How are you evolving and keeping creativity fresh in order to keep up with the industry changes?

I'm always researching new locations, and look forward to photographing during every full moon. I frequently visit my local library to check out photography books, and I'm inspired by a wide range of film and literature. I'm not concerned about my work fitting into any trends or industry changes -- these come and go. I have a strong drive to make work that excites me, and to keep learning and growing.

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