We’ve long been an admirer of his photos so we thought we’d introduce you to the man behind SqueakyThinger, Raf Carrera.
Tell us a little about your background?
I am completely self-taught. My professional life has very little, to nothing, to do with photography; which may be why I enjoy it so much. Not to say that I haven’t spent hundreds of hours watching “how to” videos and talking to friends about techniques. There have been many hours spent on facebook messaging friends like Julianne Karr, Greg Keysar and Dan Crosley with “hey, how did you do that?”. Please check them out. They are each very different photographers, which is why I very much appreciate what they do.
Squeakythinger is an interesting name. Where does it come from?
Having owned a few aircooled vw’s, some of my favourite subjects are cars… old cars. So when I decided to play around with creating a watermark, I came up with our logo, which, if you haven’t noticed, is made up of 4 hearts and 4 wrenches, to signify our affinity. Anyway, when putting together one of our first videos, it was for Central Jersey Society’s All Aircooled Gathering, I thought the static image of the watermark was a bit boring so, I had it spin… and that was cool but, it was when scrubbing through footage of buses arriving at the show, it all came together… one of the buses had really squeaky brakes. So imagine, there is my watermark, spinning about, with the squeaky brakes as the soundtrack. A friend asked what I was going to call the watermark and I said “you know, the squeakythinger”… and there it was.
What inspires you to do what you do and inspires you to carry on?
It’s fun. I sit in an office in the middle of the city for my day job. Photography is an opportunity to capture moments we wouldn’t otherwise notice. This has been particularly important for us, as our family grew 1 member larger, with the birth of our William past summer.
What makes the good picture stand out from the average photograph? How do you make your photos different?
That’s easy light and processing. With good processing, you can make an awesome picture incredible but can never make a bad shot good. This is why I am in absolute awe of the guys that only shoot film; so in tribute of those guys… #filmisnotdead
What does photography mean to you?
I’ve been into the math of photo/video as long as I remember. It started with a Kodak instant camera my parents got me when I was about 8 and continued to shooting friend’s birthday parties. I distinctly remember sharing photos and videos and specifically their reactions. The majority of my family is back in Peru, where I was born, so being able to share life’s moments and the feeling of pure joy is simply incredible. That’s what photography means to me.
What do you feel about the world of photography at the moment and what do you like to use when capturing the best images?
I’m currently a Nikon shooter. We are living in such an incredibly awesome time for photography. Starting with your very basic, inexpensive point-and-shoot cameras, to mobile phones shooting 4k, the arrival of great mirrorless cameras; this is really a great time to pick up the hobby. I have a D600 and a few prime lenses. My favourite lens at the moment is a 50mm manual Nikon f1.2. It’s simply a thing of beauty. I also like a nice Russian-made Zenitar 16mm f2.8 and Nikkor’s G line (28, 50, 85mm).
What motivates you to continue getting the best from your photography?
It’s a pure and utterly selfish need to show them off, especially to my wife.
What are you trying to get across to your audience with your photos?
This is going to sound a bit ridiculous because I swore I wasn’t going to be “that guy” but, it’s more about what I want people to feel. To put it simply, my goal is to capture feelings.
Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your style of photography?
There are so many styles I enjoy. There are a handful of photographers and videographers that have this film noire style that I really like and have influenced my “look”. I enjoy the balance between the richness that darkness brings with the vibrancy of light. I’ve actually been taking screen captures from video footage lately with great results.
How do you get the thing that is in front of the camera onto paper/screen in just the way you want?
It’s a deliberate goal to spend as little time processing images/video as possible. Thanks to the magic of RAW images, it doesn’t take very long to get my images the way I want them. My images, for the most part, are purposely white-balanced incorrectly. I much prefer a warmer tone to my photos so that is the way they’re typically edited. There is just something about the warm glow of a sun-kissed subject. Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect to a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors? I am blessed to live in Northern NJ. I am 30 minutes away from Times Square, 15 miles away from beautiful mountains, an hour away from NJ’s famous beaches. We have full sticky summer, snow and everything in between. So to answer your question, I don’t “handle” those factors. I simply “go with them”.
Colour vs. Black and White.
Why one over the other, and is the photographic process different? Truth be told, there are very few situations where I opt for black & white photos. And typically, it is because the colour version sucks. There, I said it. There are many times, especially with candid photography where the background sucks. This is a perfect opportunity to kill the colour and go nuts with your contrast slider.
What is your favourite thing to take photographs of?
Family. Either of my wife Amy, son William, our fur baby Lady (#pupdelux on IG). After all, they are the most important aspects of my life.
Last photograph on earth? What will it be of?
One picture… it would have to be a boudoir session with the creator of AirMonkeysMag. #callme
Where do you see your passion for photography taking you in the future?
We know that cars and photography can be quite expensive hobbies. I purchased my first aircooled (70 type 3 square) about 8 or so years ago on eBay (it was in one of the first issues of Air Monkeys). I was fortunate enough to make a little money on the sale. The sale funded my second project (67 type 4 fasty) and managed to make a little money on that sale. This resulted in a small “fun fund”. I used some of the fund to purchase my very stock, triple black, 1970 Mercedes 280 SEL but I also had enough to buy some photo equipment. This is when I promised my wife that I wouldn’t put any “new” money into the habit; any and all future purchases have to be drawn from my “fun fund”. I’ve been lucky enough to have progressed in my photography/videography to have landed a few paid jobs. Whether it’s show coverage, portrait session or auto feature, I honestly didn’t expect things to progress as much as it has. I still very much consider myself a hobbyist with very much to learn. Looking back, there aren’t too many people that have a self-sustaining hobby. This make me (and my wife) very happy.