[photo credit : Lou Nettelhorst]
Photographer Hal Eastman was born in Seattle, Washington in 1938. He has a BA in economics and business from University of Puget Sound and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. He worked for large U.S. companies in management for 30 years, including presidencies of two billion dollar public companies. Hal quit at age 54 to pursue photography and founded small fine art photography and publishing company Peregrine Images in 1994. He's published two fine art photography books, Natural Dance and Dancessence and one book of poetry, Flawed But Fun: Poems form the Attic.
Natural Rhythms and Innate Energies
If you have a degree in what field is it? BA in economics and business from University of Puget Sound, 1960 and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, 1962.
What was your strangest assignment? I give myself assignments. Probably the strangest (most fascinating) was capturing Native American-trained bareback riders in sheer flowing costumes, galloping through sand dunes and water in Idaho. Also photographing dancers in complete darkness, with light painting, in static poses but imagining themselves in motion and suspended in time and space.
Which photographer would you like to meet? Edward Weston or Ernst Haas.
What famous person (living or dead) would you most like to photograph? Isadora Duncan.
Aside from your camera and lighting, what item could you not work without? My amazing dancers/models.
Is there anything you would not digitally retouch? No, but only very minor retouching, not manipulation. I want to capture most of the image in the camera at the magical moment of exposure.
From where do your best ideas originate? Best ideas originate in serendipitous moments observing and thinking about movement. Having the following broad objective always in mind helps me to focus and create ideas: to create and share simple, beautiful images that communicate the natural rhythms and innate energies of the subjects.
How do you overcome a creative block? My biggest problem, so far, is not creative block but too many exciting ideas. How to prioritize and pursue is the problem.
Do you have creative pursuits other than photography? Managing large companies was another creative pursuit in that it’s imperative to create a vision of what the company should be and develop the means (mostly by hiring and motivating good people) to achieve it. Conceptualizing and anticipating which companies will be good future investments, in the context of a rapidly changing global business environment, can also be a creative exercise.
What music are you listening to right now? Leonard Cohen.
What’s your approach to balancing work and life? I use a pie chart approach. Life is a pie, and it requires three pieces, fairly balanced over time, to achieve happiness: friends and family, outside interests and professional pursuits. One or more pieces of the pie can be too big or too small for short periods, but over time I need all three to be fairly equal to be happy.
What’s your favorite quote? “They copied all they could follow, but they couldn't copy my mind, And I left ’em sweating and stealing a year and a half behind.” —Rudyard Kipling. Kind of egotistical, but a good reminder to keep pushing your creative boundaries and be willing to share your current knowledge with others, because you should always be pressing on to something new.
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Photograph things, people, or places you love and can get excited about. Equipment is unimportant—just a means to an end. Vision and passion are everything.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? How exciting, fulfilling and fun it can be. I might have done it sooner.