magazine's recent "Best of Cleveland" awards, Fresh Water
was voted by readers as having the Best Photo Content
. The entry reads:
"Cataloging all the need-to-know news of development, innovation, food and culture in Cleveland, Fresh Water relies not only on reporting and writing to illuminate the compelling tales that fill the e-zine every week, but on dynamic photographs of the people and places that are making and remaking the city at a frantic pace. Bob Perkoski
is the man behind the lens capturing Cleveland as it happens, and his photos bring life and perspective to the nuts and bolts of the story."
All of that credit rightly falls on the shoulders of Perkoski, managing photographer since the online magazine's inception. It is Perkoski's fine eye and attention to detail that makes Fresh Water
look as sharp as it does. But it's the photographer's calm confidence both in front of and behind the lens that manages to put his subjects so much at ease.
We thought it would be fun (and embarrassing) to put Perkoski on the spot:
How long have you been a pro photographer?
I’ve done photography since high school, but in a professional capacity since 2003, when I helped launch Balanced Living
magazine. I did all the graphic design and layouts and I started photographing the feature articles.
How did you get started?
I started in high school, as a senior, when I got on the yearbook staff. They had just put in a dark room and I took the camera home and started shooting. The art teacher, who headed the yearbook staff, liked what I was doing and had me shoot most of the photos for the yearbook. I went to art school after that in Pittsburgh, where I focused mainly on photography classes.
How do you keep up with all the technological changes in your profession?
Well, I used to do the dark room thing, spending hours developing and printing. But then I kind of got away from photography for a few years. When digital came out I got curious and started experimenting again -- and I loved it! I guess I liked the immediate results as well as the adjustments you can make afterwards. Not breathing in toxic fumes all day was also a plus! As far as new technology goes, the thing I don’t like is that once you update, you’re already outdated when something new comes along. That’s why I don’t hang around camera stores too often.
What's the most rewarding part of your job?
It would have to be meeting new people and going to places I never would have known about. Fresh Water has been great because it gets me into those places and connected with people who are reinventing Cleveland – and then I get to share those stories with everyone else. I am grateful that I have been able to document, in images, the growth Cleveland has seen in the last few years.
It must be nice to get recognized for your hard work behind the lens.
I guess I’m always surprised when I meet people and they say that they like what I’m doing. With Fresh Water, and all my other freelance work, a lot of the time I’m editing at home by myself. It’s always nice when I get positive feedback on my work.
Do you have a favorite picture that you've taken?
Whew, that’s a hard one. Would it be trite to say that “the next one I take” is my favorite? I like to take photos as they happen rather than stage something. There’s just something about letting the subject do what they do and then just forget about me as I photograph them. As far as other photographer's work, that would be hard as well. I like images that make me stop and say “Now that’s cool!” and make me want to take a closer look.