O.A.R. bass guitarist Benj Gershman is also involved in photography and he told NiteSide that besides snapping pictures of people and bands, he wants to use his photography to relay messages to the world.
“I want to have a whole other side of photography that is just social messaging," Gershman said. “I’ll have a lot of them revolve around my passion for our environment and a lot of them with my view on America and telling the story about the world we live in right now.”
Gershman premiered his “Rock Cause (O.A.R.)” photography exhibit last night at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in Manhattan. This exhibit profiled experiences of O.A.R., and he said there are other types of bands he would like to create a similar project about.
"What intrigues me is a lot of the bands that look like they’re from the 70s and the people that have that style that they’re not in this modern era, like Kings of Leon or Edward Sharp and the Magnificent Zeros,” Gershman said. “Those kinds of bands have such a magnificent style.”
Gershman, who has shot a Dave Matthews concert, said photography started out as a hobby for him but eventually became a passion.
“I just sort of found it and fell in love with it," he said.
Gershman got his first camera from his father about a year after leaving college. He experimented with it while he was on tour with the band and realized photography wasn’t as easy as he expected.
“I wasn’t good at it at first and that pissed me off,” Gershman said. “I had to really work at it and figure it out. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is for me as a person to not get something right. Mistakes for me are hard to swallow.”
He kept taking photos, not only to get better at it but also just to capture what he and the other band members were experiencing during that time in their lives.
“I realized that our band was going through things that wouldn’t last forever,” Gershman said. “We were changing and our music was changing. I wanted to capture it and savor it a little bit.”
After developing a better understanding of photography, Gershman says it comes more naturally for him than it used to.
“When I look at things now, I don’t just see the whole thing,” Gershman said. “I’m looking at tones and I’m looking at the back lighting. Those things happen much more instinctually than they did early on.”
Gershman says that his band mates used to tease him about always having a camera with him, but always encouraged him and even later asked for his advice.
“They’ve gotten some cool cameras and I’ve been fortunate enough to lend some tips their way,” Gershman said. “They’re the most supportive guys in the world and I’m lucky to have them get it like that.”