Josh Fassbind Interview


Please introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little about yourself.

I’m half Swiss and half American and I was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland. Photography has always been present in my life and after working, amongst other things, as a graphic designer and golf pro, I finally became a professional photographer in 2010. I’m bilingual and bi-cultural – a kind of mixture of Old Europe’s precision and tradition and America’s welcoming and easygoing style. People often ask me why I left Switzerland to come to LA. Don’t get me wrong, Geneva is an amazing city and Switzerland a wonderful country but I felt I needed to get out and experience something new, something different. My wife and I traveled around the world in 2012 and it was during that trip that we fell in love with California and Los Angeles.

How did you become interested in photography as a medium?
Nothing exciting here. An old camera was handed down to me when I was about twelve. I signed up for a darkroom class in school and learned to process and print my photos, I was hooked. Unfortunately though, after that class was over, supplies were expensive and I reluctantly put the camera down for a while. It was with the boom of digital cameras that my love for the medium was rekindled.

What inspired you to create the “Running Along the Five” series? How long have you been working on it?
I don’t live too far from the portion of the L.A. river that is in Atwater and while I was taking a stroll along the river in the early months of 2017, some debris in the trees and riverbed caught my eye. We had big storms in the 2016/2017 which made the level of the river rise quite a bit. This debris mostly came from homeless encampments upstream that got washed out and then got caught in the trees in this portion of the river.

Do you exclusively shoot film? Favorite stock/camera combination?
Before coming to Los Angeles, my workflow was 100% digital. But then I fell in love with film again and other than my phone, I exclusively shoot film. I own a few cameras: 35mm, medium format and 4×5. Although I love using them all, the Mamiya 7 (6×7) is my favorite. As far as stocks go, Ektar 100 is my go to film but I was back in Europe these past Holidays and shot Portra 800. It’s kind of growing on me.

How long have you lived in Los Angeles? How does your experience in the city impact your photography?
I’ve been in Los Angeles for nearly 5 years and I’m loving it. People constantly talk about the light here and it’s true, it is special. But the biggest impact L.A. has had on my photography is on what I shoot and the way I shoot it. Back in Switzerland my focus was mainly on commercial photography and a heavy use of photoshop. When I arrived in L.A., I took a few classes that opened my eyes to genres of photography I had previously dismissed. I started shooting in a much more objective manner and my subject changed too. I was done focusing on the beautiful and was now in love with documenting the mundane, the overlooked.

Upcoming projects?
I have several ongoing and upcoming projects. My first one is a sort of sequel of one I did in Geneva which consisted of photographing one person from every country living in Los Angeles. It was going well and then Trump happened. People were no longer eager to identify publicly with another country and it just stopped. I might pick it up again while shifting the focus of it a bit though.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been very interested in water issues and how we deal with them, how man shapes landscape, changes rivers’ paths and drys out lakes to benefit his needs. And it’s not just in California and the drought here, it’s everywhere. This coming summer I’ll be going back to Europe for a couple of weeks and I intend to follow one of the continent’s main rivers from its source all the way to where it flows into the sea. I’ll be shooting that on large format mainly but will also have the Mamiya 7.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?
I’d just like to thank you for your interest in my work and for sharing it with your readers.

Be sure to follow Josh’s work on his Instagram as well as his website, http://joshfassbind.com/.