Interview: The Documentary Photography of Scott Caan

Scott Caan dabbles in just about everything. On top of starring in Hawaii Five-0, doing theater productions, and yes, his former life rapping in ’90s hip hop group, The Whooliganz, he’s been taking photos over the past decade, shooting intimate and documentary snapshots of his life, his travels and his A-list friends.

Caan credits his start in photography in the early 2000s to his Nikon FE camera he got and the guidance of his mentor, cinematographer Phil Parmet (Grindhouse), whom he met on set ofDallas 362.

He’s releasing his second book of photographs, “Vanity,” on October 30. However, he’ll be signing early copies of the book tonight from 7 to 10 p.m. at the opening reception of his photography show at the Martha Otero Gallery in the Fairfax District. His exhibition will be on display through September 13.

Caan spoke with LAist about the peculiar definition of “vanity,” his bond with Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo who wrote the introduction to his book, and more.

What was one of the most valuable lessons that Phil Parmet taught you about photography?

I guess it’s not really something that he said. It was looking at his work and looking at the way he would approach shooting a scene. I don’t think photography is something that someone can teach you. They can teach you how a camera works, they can teach you where to set your f-stop and shutter speed to get your good exposure. I guess at any kind of artistic or film school or arts school or photography class, you’re pretty much going to learn technical things and I don’t feel like you really learn anything about the photos you’re going to shoot until you start shooting photos. It was mostly looking at the soul that was in his work—not comparing to that, but you know realizing, “Oh, okay, if you’re going to show someone photographed, you’re going to take photos and the idea is to look for soul.” But that’s not something someone explains to you. It’s kind of something you see in their work and you go, “Oh, that’s what I like,” and I guess it’s sort of subconscious. It’s not something you can really give a lesson on. You know what I mean—you don’t know you like that photo and later on down the line you’re like, “I like it because it’s something about the soul of the photo.” I don’t want to sound pretentious. The short answer is more looking at the photos he took than it was anything he said to me. [More at Source]

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