One guy, 161 IMDb credits
Columnist Steve Lange interviews Ed Araquel, movie photographer
Ten or so questions with Ed Araquel, former Mayo Clinic systems analyst who has worked as a photographer on over 160 movie and TV productions.
So you’ve worked at AT&T, I’ll assume as one of those old-timey telephone operators with the long cords. Then Canadian Pacific, I’ll assume it was as a train engineer. And then finally Mayo Clinic, and I’ll assume as some sort of surgeon.
No. Unfortunately, I worked in computers for all of those companies.
Oh. What brought you to Mayo?
In the late ‘90s, I had done some work in (electronic payments), and I guess that reputation somehow got to Mayo Clinic. They were doing something along those lines, and they called me and it was like a 10-minute phone interview. And all of a sudden I had a job in Rochester, which I thought was in New York. And then I realized, “Oh, it’s Rochester, Minnesota. Where’s that?” So yeah, I ended up at the Mayo Clinic.
How many credits do you have listed in IMDb (Internet Movie Database)?
I think it’s over 150.
161. When you were in grade school, you won a camera, a Pentax 35 millimeter?
It was just one of those fill-in-a-blank entry forms. I had never done any photography before.
In hindsight, that had to be a real life-changer.
Yes, it was, because I discovered I really liked photography. And within two years, I won my first photography contest. ... I just pursued every kind of photography I could. Because I was already making good money at Mayo as a contractor, I bought the top-end equipment (when I lived here). I shot for Rochester Orchestra and Chorale, Rochester Civic Theatre, anything that needed photos, really, because I really wanted to learn everything.
After you left Mayo in 2003, your love of cinematography and photography came together in this perfect storm of mostly shooting stills or behind the scenes for big movies.
Well, in 2002, Mayo Clinic wanted more contractors to become permanent employees. And they told me the salary that I would be making as a permanent employee, which was nowhere even close to what I was making as a contractor. I thought maybe I could do something else and moved back to Canada to try my luck at being a photographer. I moved to Vancouver to be close to my parents. And I knew that Vancouver had already established itself as kind of a secondary Hollywood. So I thought it would be closer to the movies as well. So I moved there, and I just shot whatever I could, got myself known, volunteered on free indie student projects that were doing short films. ... And then one day, a production company called me up and asked me if I could shoot on their TV show that was for WB Kids’ channel. Anyways, after that one-day shoot, I sent the photos to the production manager and they called me back. They happened to be doing a lot of TV shows and movies of the week. And so they started employing me on all these shows.
Very cool. Can I compost banana peels?
Can I compost banana peels?
I’m sure you can.
Um. I thought I read you said you do some composting on the side.
I do? Man, I don’t remember that one.
Anyway. So your job at Mayo then was really your last computer/engineering/office job. Do you pine for those days?
I mean, working at Mayo Clinic was not a bad thing. I mean, without them and the salary offer they gave me I wouldn’t have gotten into photography. They really helped my career in a strange way.
Sure. That’s a really good, positive way to look at it.
Wait. I know what the composting thing was now. It was compositing, which is combining images.
That makes more sense. Hey, can I composite banana peels?
That one I can answer. Sure you can.
Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.