The saying, “Don’t rest on our laurels,’ is defined as not getting complacent about what you could achieve based on your past accomplishments.
That idiom certainly applies to Douglas Robinson. The singer of The Sleeping, the post-hardcore band he toured the world with, played thousands of shows, and even had a song in the video game “Guitar Hero.”
Now in just a couple of years, Douglas’ new band Night Verses, has gone on to garner tons of buzz, amass thousands of tour travel miles, and has attracted industry giant Ross Robinson (At The Drive-In/Glassjaw/Sepultura) to produce their new record, which will be coming out sometime in 2016.
Then there is the other Douglas Robinson.
The Douglas I’m talking about is also a budding photographer whose Instagram is lit up with beautiful urban landscapes, rich in stark angles, and sharp composition. Like his music, Doug’s photography is alive with vivid colors. However, in this case, Douglas is currently viewing the world via the camera lens in a way not usually associated with Cityscape photography.
Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Douglas Robinson, the artist; to talk about how not ‘resting on laurels’ has led a lead singer in an up-and-coming band to this newfound outlet in photography.
CENE: So how did the photography thing start?
Douglas: I’ve always had a thing for taking photos. I don’t know how or when it started but I just kept doing it. One of my good friends is an amazing rock and a roll photographer named Lisa Johnson. She’s photographed Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against the Machine and tons more. Every time we would talk about photography she would always say that I should keep pursuing it because I have “the eye.”
It’s crazy for me to hear that from her because I idolize her photos and the bands she’s taken photos of. Anyway, I just kept doing it with whatever camera I had. I didn’t really have professional gear until recently but that only matters to an extent. The vision is what matters. Aura, quality is a huge part but art is subjective. So many people think you need the best gear in the world to get great photos when all you need is your eye and the passion for it.
C: What’s your gear setup consist of?
D: I have a Sony A6000, which is a mirror less sensor camera. The body is small and throws people off when I have a job photographing but the camera is next level. I also have a Rokinon 24 – 70mm F 1.4 lens and a 12mm F2 lens. They’re both prime lenses (no zoom) and are great for portraits and landscapes because of their amazing depth of field coverage. That’s my main setup at the moment.
C: What do you consider your style? Are there any photographers out there that inspire you?D: Aside from Lisa Johnson, there’s really no one photographer that inspires me. I don’t really look at photography the way I look at music. When you listen to music, you become obsessed with bands you love and listen to them constantly. They become inspirational when writing records, songs etc. I just look at people’s photos and think to myself, “This is beautiful” or “This isn’t what moves me.” As for style, I don’t really stick to one thing. I just really want to take photos of whatever I think is beautiful, or cool, or moving to ME.
People think you need to take these wild and extreme photos now because that’s what gets attention but I don’t give a shit about any of that. I just love the world for what it is.
Yeah, I want the person looking at my photos to take away some feeling or emotion… but I tend to be a little more selfish with photography. With so many Instagram photographers and whatnot, it’s easy to fall into this format of what you should take photos of. I don’t care about that shit. I’m not trying to hang my feet off of high buildings just to get attention. People think you need to take these wild and extreme photos now because that’s what gets attention but I don’t give a shit about any of that. I just love the world for what it is.
Those people are always wanting more when the real beauty is on the buildings and on the streets and in the faces of your friends or even random strangers. That’s what’s extreme to me… Conveying these intensities through everyday life.
C: A lot of your photography is urban landscape. What draws you to it?
D: I’m always in the city. I live 5 minutes away from Manhattan. I’m literally there every single day. I’m drawn to it because there’s so many roads you can get lost on and find something beautiful in any area you end up in-even if you’ve been to the same spot a thousand times. The other thing is that I’m a full time touring musician and 80 percent of the time I’m not home.
So, not only do I just want to capture photos in the city that I love, but its also amazing practice for taking photos in the middle of nowhere. Urban photography helps so much because you do your best to focus on one subject with a million other things in the frame. You want it all to play a role but you want that one subject to stand out in the photo. When you get smoothness for that then it becomes very seamless in any environment.
C: What’s next for you and your photography?
D: I’ve decided that I’m going to make a tour book on our next tour and future tours to come – all photos taken by me. Usually bands hire photographers, and that’s awesome, but I want these works to be from my perspective. I want people to look at the book as if they are a member of the band.
When they see what they see in the photos, I want them to realize it was taken by the vocalist in the band and let that sink in. I don’t care about being in photos anymore. I used to think I needed to be for format or whatever but all of that’s bullshit. I want the photos to be from the center of it all not from someone on the outside looking in. From my perspective, the person looking at the photos will hopefully feel that connection. Bottom line is that I just wanna take photos every second I can.
C: Anything else you want to say?
D: Thank you. Listen to Night Verses.