Rob Catania has been making images for more than twenty years. Based in Chicago, he has been in and around the photographic market since the bug first bit him as an under-graduate at Loyola University. While originally working for other photographers as an assistant, he soon realized that commercial photography was a cutthroat business, especially in the late 80’s and early 90’s in Chicago. He honed his craft on 4×5 and medium format film, where lighting a room scene was equally as important as exposing a good bracket of shots.
“I learned from some really great architectural photographers that seeing the composition and seeing the light in a scene meant you were on your way to producing a great image.”
After 10 years of watching others show him how to take pictures, he decided to take his real life experience back to the classroom and he completed an MFA in digital imaging in 2010.
“I became obsessed with the digital image. Photography has always been about the latest and greatest technologies. In the early part of last century, Kodak created a camera that allowed the user to carry a device with them to take pictures. They could then send the camera in to Kodak for processing. They would receive prints and a re-loaded camera back…it’s not that different today. We just get our images a lot faster.”
Rob believes that the print is the culmination of the work that goes into making a strong image. Photographers often take hours to make one image whether setting up a shot or waiting for the right light. Making a great print is equally important.
“Photography needs to be about the print. As photographers we’re saying ‘look at this slice of life and time that I have captured’. The light that captured this image is being held here for you to appreciate… and nothing does that quite like the printed image.”
A street photographer in the making, Rob realizes that walking around and aiming a camera here and there does not make him a street photographer. While influenced by photographers like Lee Friedlander and Frank Gohlke who have different styles, Rob has begun to elicit his own style that takes the landscape photograph into the city, while the city scene is treated like a landscape.
“In the past year or two I have been working with High Dynamic Range photography. As this technology continues to improve, I have found that the range of light I want to portray, and the range of subjects I want to use continues to expand. As a self-proclaimed documentary style image maker, I am always looking for my photographs to say something to the viewer, but I am coming to the realization that sometimes a good image just is.”