Thirty Minutes with Kwe Bentum

Thirty Minutes with Kwe Bentum

We spent time with Kwe Bentum, a prolific mobile and dslr photographer in Chicago. His Chicago images are in the new book, Trope Chicago and he also appears in the upcoming documentary, One Frame.

​I mainly use my Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II and my iPhone for photography. The iPhone is surely amazing and I use it for many wide angle perspective photos especially when the light is great. Using different cameras sometimes gives a different perspective on the same shot. There are times that I have taken photos with both my iPhone and my camera to capture raindrops on a window pane, and I realize that the size of the raindrops and texture appears different due to the different lens characteristics. 

I love capturing people and moments that are unplanned:

There are some moments that come to my doorstep without actively seeking them out. Those are my favorite kind of street photographs because I know that such a specific moment can never be replicated. I love to focus on a theme when doing street photography. For example, I sometimes spend an hour shooting window reflections or a few minutes capturing rainy moments. I also enjoy conceptual photography where I carefully select a subject and location. I think about the colors, clothes, etc., and how they complement the background. Conceptual photography can be time-consuming, but it’s very rewarding once all the pieces come together.

I was capturing window reflections at a Starbucks. The barista realized we were doing a shoot and was very interested in the camera I was using. He thought it was a film camera until I told him the design of my mirrorless Olympus camera simply has a vintage look. We got into a conversation about photography and he showed me his work. I was very impressed with the way he used light to make his shots dramatic. His genuine interest and the entire conversation made me very happy that like-minded artists could get together simply because of a camera.

When I take and edit photos on my phone, I use Snapseed and VSCO filters. However, when I take photos with my camera, I edit with Lightroom. I have certain presets that I made for specific moments such as rainy days. However, I mostly edit a photo from the beginning and like to fine-tune the contrast, highlights, colors, clarity, etc. until I’m happy with the process. After importing to my phone, sometimes I add an additional VSCO filter. 

Social media has definitely inspired me to only post my best shots. Social media platforms like Instagram can be time-consuming (if you allow it to be) and, therefore, I post my best on average, twice a week.  

Photojournalism in different countries would be a perfect photography assignment. There are many places in the world with less media coverage. Some of these places may also have pre-conceived stereotypes that have overshadowed the positive aspects of their lives. I would love to be in such places to experience the unadulterated media-biased versions of their lifestyle and document those moments for myself and possibly for the world.