“I guess ‘precise’ is a good way to describe it,” he says of his own stylistic proclivities. “Maybe even a little OCD,” he adds jokingly. He puts this level of attention to every minute detail, whether he is painstakingly crafting intricate constellations out of dental floss picks for a personal project (“All done in camera,” he notes proudly) or creating photo illustrations for a growing list of clients such as The New York Times Magazine, Details, and Fortune.
His approach might seem throwback, but that’s part of Kaplan’s appeal. Unlike many of his photographic peers, he had a rather low-tech schooling, studying fine art and art history at Wesleyan University.
“There were only a couple of photo classes, so I ended up studying a lot more sculpture,” Kaplan says. “Still, that ended up having the most lasting impact in shaping what I do, particularly the conceptual side—visualizing a form, thinking about the ways materials function, how they can be pushed.”
Kaplan’s natural sense of form made still life an instant fit. Food has been a particularly rich subject. “I like shooting it because it has a shelf life on set,” he says. “It’ll start looking bad after 15 minutes, so you have to problem-solve rather quickly.”