Richard Rothstein came into my world after I featured one of his subjects, Kareem McJagger, for our weekly Instinct Hottie series. It was here that I took a deep dive into the kind of work he does where I was blown away with his gorgeous subjects and how he’s able to capture their beauty in each photo he shoots.
The New York City mainstay has had a passion for what he does for decades, dating all the way back to his teen years. His art today, however, was inspired by two separate yet major events in his life that profoundly challenged who he is both personally and professionally.
He’s the latest to be featured in Instinct Magazine’s ongoing Photographer Series that highlights the beautiful work from many in our LGBTQ community. Check out our exclusive with him below.
How did you get involved in the art of photography?
I’ve been expressing myself through photography since the age of 13. My father’s hobby was photographing city night life and news events, and he would often take me along on his adventures. However, there were two events in my adult life that dramatically determined the current direction of my art. The first was coming out at the age of 40. Finding a sense of normalcy and wholeness presents a very difficult challenge. Homoerotic photography and my creative interaction with my models really helped me come to terms with myself, to better understand myself and to evolve into a whole human being. The second event was a near fatal illness in 2013; photography gave me the motivation and inspiration to fight my way back and become the person and artist I am today.
Did you have any inspirations before getting into the industry?
I have spent much of my life wandering through art museums fascinated by the way photographers and painters use composition, perspective, light, shadows and color to influence emotion, tell stories and challenge the viewer with questions.
How would you describe your specific style?
Bold, aggressive, emotional, dramatic and as often as possible with a bit of humor.
You’ve shot some pretty amazing people during your career. Do you usually search for them or do they come to you?
Mostly, they come to me. Friends of friends and inquiries through social media.
What has been your favorite shoot to date and why?
The next one, the one I haven’t done yet. Photography is a challenge and an adventure. Once a shoot/edit is over, I dwell on how it could have been better.
If there was one event that you could cover what would it be?
Turkish oil wrestling.
Do you feel photographers are not as appreciated these days due to so much of the focus shifting to social media selfies and filters?
Somewhat, but it also challenges true artists to work harder to rise above the mundane and cliché. It is very hard to do that but the struggle to do so is invigorating.
What does the future hold for you and what are you looking forward to the most in your career?
I’m growing old as f**k. The future? To have the mental acuity to keep surprising people and the physical strength and mobility to keep making art. That said, every time I’ve encountered an obstacle to doing what I want, I’ve enjoyed the adventure of creating a workaround.