Based between NYC and LA, photographer Marcus Russell Price has a job that only some dream of — he works with some of the biggest names in comedy including Pete Davidson, Aziz Ansari, and Amy Schumer. He recently tested out our New Petzval 55mm lens. Check out the results here.
Hi Marcus. Welcome to the Lomography Magazine! Please introduce yourself to our community real quick.
Hi, everyone! My name is Marcus Russell Price and I'm a photographer and director. I primarily, though not exclusively, work with comedians.
How did you discover photography in the first place?
I was fortunate enough to attend a high school that had a photography and darkroom program as an elective, as well as a teacher that helped to foster my interest. The school has since removed the class, which is particularly heartbreaking because I know how pivotal it was for me. I really don't know where I'd be without it.
You're shooting and touring with some of the countries greatest comedians. How much fun is working for them really?
It's great. I feel incredibly lucky. I get to travel the world with some of the funniest people alive. It's really a privilege. I remember laughing my ass off to Inside Amy Schumer and then a few years later I was flying around Europe with her. I grew up watching SNL every single week. Now I get to spend most Saturdays backstage at SNL with Pete Davidson. It can all be very surreal. I consider myself very fortunate to work so closely with such talented and hardworking professionals. My dad was a local Philadelphia comedian when I was a kid, but I wasn't allowed to watch him perform. I think maybe that's where my fascination with comedy began - the mystery of it.
What do you love most about your job?
I'm often asked if I get tired of hearing the same jokes over and over when really that might be my favorite part of it. I love how a joke or premise evolves on stage, city to city. How changing the emphasis of a word or phrase can completely make or break a joke. I love watching different audiences respond uniquely to the same joke. There's an unpredictability to it that I still haven't figured out.
You've taken the New Petzval 55mm lens with you on your job. How did you like the lens and what was your experience with it like?
The New Petzval 55mm lens is so much fun to use. I had a chance to go to Mumbai with Aziz Ansari. He's a great photographer so we spent most of our time there walking and shooting the streets together. After India, I jumped to Bangkok for a few days. It produces such a unique look that is impossible to replicate in post. As a photographer, sometimes it's hard to feel like you're breaking new ground, especially in a city like Bangkok. That city has been photographed from damn near every angle, with every camera, focal length, and aperture setting. But, when carrying the New Petzval 55mm lens, and knowing the history of it, with every shot I had the exhilaration of thinking "maybe I'm the first to ever take this photo like this" or at the very least "maybe I'm the first in 100 years to take a photo like this".
Recently, you've used this lens for a very special video project, for Black Lives Matter. Tell us a bit about the project and why you wanted to use this lens for it.
Last month I teamed up with director Jonathan Olinger to create a video to introduce a new campaign launched by Black Lives Matter called #WhatMatters2020. The purpose of the video was to spotlight the faces of people who are most often affected by the policies and decisions made by our elected officials. With the upcoming U.S. elections, we wanted to emphasize that these are the faces of the people that need to be considered and addressed if any political candidate hopes to be elected to office. When Jonathan and I began discussing how the video should look and feel I immediately suggested we use the New Petzval 55mm lens. The intent of the video was to gain attention and the Petzval almost demands your attention. It captures your subject in a way that audiences maybe have never seen before. It draws attention to the subject in an almost magnetic way. I can't imagine the final product without it.
Any advice for people wanting to use the New Petzval 55mm lens?
Shoot at the widest aperture and get weird. Remember depth is really what makes this lens shine.
And last but not least: Any advice for our community members who would like to pursue a similar career in the entertainment industry?
Volunteer yourself. "I can do that" is one of my favorite sentences. Think about who you know. Maybe you have a friend who works the door at a music venue? Ask them if you can shoot the show this Wednesday. If you're any good maybe they'll ask you to come back and shoot a bigger show next weekend. All it takes is a few people to start saying "Hey, who took that photo?".
If you would like to check out more of Marcus' photos, be sure to follow him on Instagram.