Ken Merfeld (www.merfeldphotography.com) (www.merfeldcollodion.com) is a Los Angeles-based commercial and fine art photographer. He owns and operates a studio in Culver City, California, where he photographs fashion, advertising, portrait and celebrity. His work has appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Mademoiselle, Angeleno, Zoom, Black & White and Los Angeles Magazine. His commercial accounts include American Express, Nike, Kodak, Apple, Sony, Pacific Bell, Disney, Mattel, McDonald’s and Panavision. During his 25 years of commercial and fine art photography, he has explored the worlds of autistic children, people with their pets, parent and child, tattooed people, bikers, identical twins, transvestites, little people, erotica and more. His current body of collodion work has been exhibited in Los Angeles, Santa Fe and Mexico City. Ken teaches photography part-time at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.
Scheduled to Teach
LACP Interviews Ken Merfeld
LACP asks Ken Merfeld ten questions about his background, career in and beliefs about photography.
Los Angeles Center of Photography: What kind of photographer are you?
Ken Merfeld: I am a traditional ‘hands on’, B&W aficionado who loves people, animals, the challenge of constant creativity, the mesmerizing world of light and shadow, imperfection in everything, and visual oddity.
LACP: How long have you been shooting?
KM: I have been shooting photographs for approximately 30 years, ever since I took a photograph of my dog that actually changed my life.
LACP: Where did you get your training?
KM: I graduated from Art Center, College of Design, and hit the streets looking for interesting people, emotional light, and unusual subject matter.
LACP: When did you know you wanted to devote your life to photography?
KM: I took a photograph that made me forget two previous college degrees I decided to look into the world of photography and art.
LACP: Did you ever come close to giving up?
KM: No. As difficult as a life in photography can be, there is no plan “B” and no room for failure.
LACP: Have you sacrificed anything by being a photographer?
KM: To be a committed photographer who really strives to be an artist requires time, trial and error, and a lot of hard work. I have invested time, heart, soul, and intellect chasing the enigma of art.
LACP: What have you gained by being a photographer?
KM: With photography in my life I have gained a tremendous awareness of light, composition, and emotional response. I have learned about people, animals, and the tremendous amount of psychology interwoven in the worlds of photography and art. There is also a story or “experience” behind every portrait that I have taken which has made my journey in photography infinitely more interesting.
LACP: What classes do you teach at LACP?
KM: For LACP, I teach “Creative Portraiture”, “The Portrait Series?”, “The Art of Photography”, and “The Daily Visual”.
LACP: What do you love most about teaching?
KM: Teaching makes me a stronger artist in many ways as I have to constantly re-enforce or explain my ideas and feeling about composition, light, design, and subject matter.
LACP: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about making a career in photography?
KM: My advice to others: Be fearless with your approach to composition, light, and subject matter. Master light. Know your equipment and technique [process]. Shoot what you love. Love what you do. Look at art constantly. Work ceaselessly. Break rules. Develop thick skin. And, never advise others about success in photography!