Artist Interview: Ivan Ferrera

Artist Interview: Ivan Ferrera

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Get to Know Artist Ivan Ferrera!

Ivan Ferrera (@ivanferrera) is a NY/NJ-based photographer. With a professional career in Information Technology, Ivan began dedicating his pastime to shooting the spectacular New York City views as seen from New Jersey where he was born and raised. Working in New York City and living right across the hudson river has allowed him to focus on bringing NYC to his followers around the world. Along with following him on his instagram, check out his work at ivanferrera.com


Tell us a little bit about how you got into photography. How long have you been shooting?

I’ve been interested in photography as long as I can remember. I learned a lot when I started taking product photos and filming/editing product review videos for a business I started with my best friend in 2011. It wasn’t until I planned a trip in 2016 to Cuba that I purchased my first professional grade camera. Even though it was still a hobby, it was in 2016 when I started taking photography seriously.

What kind of photography do you focus on?

I mostly enjoy shooting cityscapes/landscapes. Growing up with the NYC skyline as my backyard, it’s kind of difficult not to take a picture of it everyday. I enjoy taking pictures of things I’d like to look at, so that’s what I focus on. I’ve tried portrait and street photography, but they’re just not as fun as landscapes are for me.

Is photography a hobby or a profession for you?

At the moment photography is my favorite hobby. Fortunately or unfortunately I already have a great career that I’m very happy with, but I do have plans to create professional pieces for people who want unique one of a kind photographs.

What was your first camera?

I can’t remember that far back! I can tell you that I’ve always had a little consumer-grade portable camera; whether it was a Sony something or a Canon powershot something, I even had polaroids before they were cool; I always had a little camera to snap pictures with. But my first professional camera was the Canon 1DX M2; a powerhouse of a camera. I loved it, but was waaaay too big for carrying it around on the regular. I ended up trading it in for a Sony a7rii which I’m still using today.

Are you loyal to any brand, or do you prefer one brand over another?

No. I look at camera gear as tools to get my work done. I’ll shoot with whatever camera you give me. I do need Lightroom though!

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What do you like most about being a photographer?

There are quite a few things I enjoy about it. Mostly I enjoy the journey of taking the shot. From the planning, getting my gear together to getting to the location, to waiting for the right light or the right moment and hopefully smoke a good cigar if I have enough time. I also enjoy and take lots of pride in the output; the actual photograph. And of course I enjoy the social aspect of photography; meeting and running into like minded individuals who have their own interesting stories and are out there doing what we love; including the good folks behind Focal Collective!

Walk us through your workflow and how you know when you’re done with an image.

The time and place of my shots are usually planned. Everything else I might have a rough idea, but I usually go with the flow and decide the details once I get there. Depending on the circumstances I might use a tripod or ND filters, and maybe a lens or two depending on the composition(s) I decided on, and I might take single, bracketed, or long exposure shots; all depends on the conditions. Really the idea is to capture the moment, so there’s only one way to do that and it’s to be in the moment. I usually don’t take a lot of shots either. I might take some shots to calibrate and make sure I like what I see; but other than that, I only take a handful of shots and I’m good. I don’t like sifting through hundreds of shots once I get home!

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I always import and organize all my shots in Lightroom. Once I have my shot, I have an idea of how I want the final product to look. Depending on the idea, it might require some simple editing, or maybe it’s a little more involved. My editing workflow is always evolving, but recently my edits have been a little more involved and usually begin with exporting and editing in Photoshop. I like the granular control and making very specific selections based on how bright or dark an area is. I usually make some contrast and curves adjustments, and color corrections in photoshop, then I go back to Lightroom. In lightroom I’ll straighten out the image, figure out the crop, and make some final local exposure adjustments. I’m very critical of my own work, so at the end I have something that I put a lot of thought into and hopefully something that I’m very proud of.

Knowing when I’m done with an image can be difficult. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so finishing can be a challenge sometimes. I usually stop once I’m happy enough to have it hang on my wall, even though I can go on forever. Sometimes I’ll take a break when I think I’m like 90% done and come back to it later. This usually causes me to come back and realize I’m only 50% done, which is good or bad depending how you look at it. But at some point I’ll say this is perfect and I’ll save the final snapshot. As my style and skills evolve over time, I might go back to previous edits and redo some of my favorites.

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Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect to a successful photo/video. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?

Do your best to predict them! I’m still hunting for my thunderstorm lightning over the city shot. Thunderstorms are mostly predictable, but where lightning will strike, not so much. Storms also move quick so it hasn’t been easy for me to capture the shot. But there are lots of tools out there to help. Also, when you’re not sure if conditions will be ideal, I recommend you go out and shoot anyway. I’ve kicked myself plenty of times for not going out because I thought the weather wouldn’t be good, but turned out to be perfect. The few times you go and it doesn’t work out won’t matter because it’s all about the journey, not the destination.

If you were to give advice to an aspiring photographer, what would you say?

I’d tell them my favorite quote from my favorite movie “Sooner or later you’re going to realize, just as I did, there’s a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.” The path is your individual journey in photography. Don’t focus so much on trying to know everything. You won’t know what your journey will take you through until you’re there doing it. So just get out there and start doing it.

Definitely don’t focus on what camera your favorite photographer uses. Your gear are just tools to help you create your photography. You’ll learn, grow and perfect your craft the more you practice it. This is how you become better, not by the gear you use. Technology evolves just as your skills do. You can figure out what camera gear works best for you when you figure out what challenges you have on your journey. I know photographers that in my opinion take better shots with consumer grade equipment than others do with professional equipment. In the end it’s about you and your journey. Just enjoy it and you’ll be fine.

What’s your favorite photo/video that you’ve taken?

My favorite photo is one of the photos I took in Cuba. It is of the Vinales Valley. One of the most beautiful places on earth. I woke up super early to catch the sunrise from hotel overlooking the valley. It’s a truly magical site. It’s my favorite photo not only because I think it’s beautiful, but also because it reminds me of every minute I spent up there looking at that beauty in person.

Vinales Valley Cuba Sunset

Big thanks to Drew Folgmann and Mike Lindle for letting me share my experiences with everyone on Focal Collective!


Focal Collective: Artist Interview Series

Focal Collective would like to thank our contributing artists! This recurring propensity to create and growing community continues to inspire us. Are you interested in sharing your story? Feel free to apply to our Artist Interview Series with your portfolio, IG, and a brief introduction via our contact page. We'll look out for your message!

Focal Points: Adventure, Tutorial, Gear

If you enjoy our artist interview series, feel free to check out Focal Collective’s other adventure, tutorial, and gear review sections from our blog section Focal Points! We also have free adventure and tutorial content on our YouTube channel!

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