Monday, September 29, 2014

Highlights from: Slow Exposures

Install Image by Ann George

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the photography event Slow Exposures in Pike County, Georgia. It was a weekend packed with nontraditional photography events, like pop-up exhibitions, soirees with three legged dogs, and late night cabin critiques. After an exciting (and tiring!) weekend, I highly suggest heading to this event next year, and entering the annual juried exhibition.

Here are a few highlights:

Install Image by Ann George

"The Posse" Pop-up Exhibition 
Time, Place, and Eternity: Flannery O’Connor and the Craft of Photography
Anne Berry, Ann George, Bryce Lankard, S. Gayle Stevens, and Lori Vrba

Exhibition Statement from the artists:

The writer [photographer] operates at a particular crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location” (59):  A photographer need only substitute nouns: photographer for writer and photograph for story, to understand how Flannery O’Connor’s thoughts on the craft of writing apply to the art of photography. This year, which marks the fifty-year anniversary of her death, five southern photographers pay tribute to Flannery O’Connor by creating a pop-up exhibit in the barn at Split Oak Farm in Zebulon, GA as part of Slow Exposures, A Juried Exhibition Celebrating Photography of the Rural South. This exhibit follows the Posse’s 2013 pop up, Hay Now, which New York curator John Bennette called “the most brilliant installation ever to come down 109:” In his words, “My breath was swept away. I said, ‘hallelujah, something wonderful has come to this town.” Time, Place, and Eternity explores five aspects in Flannery O’Connor’s writings that relate to the craft of photography: Grace, Mystery, Manners, Gesture, and Habit. We are opening the exhibit at SlowExposures, and our goal is for it to travel to other venues throughout the coming year.

Eliot Dudik 
On This Land I See Heroes and Saints
Curated by John A. Bennette

Exhibition Statement from Slow Exposures: 

"This unique exhibition combines related bodies of work by Elliot Dudik: Broken Land and Still Lives. Mr. Bennette was inspired by Mr.Dudik’s images and ideas as well as The Good Lord Bird: A Novel by James McBride, winner of the 2013 National Book Award. It is an inspired and imaginative retelling of the events around abolitionist John Brown’s cause from the perspective of 12 year-old Henry Shackleford, a Kansas slave Brown mistakes for a girl. Henry, living in disguise joins the band of abolitionists and bears witness to meetings with Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, as well as the raid on Harpers Ferry.

Mr. Dudik’s work is timely, or maybe timeless, as it deals with a subject that has plagued man for generations: War. At the time of the Civil War, photography was coming into its own. The elements of War: battles, casualties, the land and the pre-battle keepsakes became one of the first subjects of importance recorded with this new technology.As a direct result of the Civil War, America was reborn at the beginning of the 20th century—it was to be The American Century when the nation rose from the ashes of war.

Broken Land is a meditation on key battle sites that will evoke conversations. Dudik’s thought processes are revealed through his artist statement, “These photographs are an attempt to preserve American History, not relish it, but to recognize its cyclical nature and derail that seemingly inevitable tendency for repetition.”

Still Lives is a photo essay of Civil War re-enactors, people from all walks of life coming together, for many reasons, to preserve history to the best of their abilities. This photo essay is an ongoing series of portraits, which have stories to tell and memories to give, that places the viewer at the critical moment on the battlefields."

McNair Evans
Confessions for a Son
Winner of the Conlan Prize for First Place in Slow Exposures 2013

Project Statement from the artist: 

There was no man that my father admired more than his father, and no one his father admired more than the man who raised him. With tenderness of heart and warm humor my father met everyone as his equal.

Upon his death in November 2000, I was exposed to our family business’s insolvency. Dad faced a series of devastating fires, bad crops, perpetual over- extension and high-interest loans. Five generations of familial and financial stability fractured. While the economic effects were immediately obvious, the emotional implications lingered beneath the surface for nine years.

In 2010 I returned home to photograph the lasting psychological landscape of Dad’s legacy. Retracing my father’s life, I used photography to comprehend its events. Visiting the farms where we hunted, his college dorm rooms, and his oldest friends, I photographed his family members and businesses while researching his character and actions. I could not equate these.

Initially confused and angry, I grew to know him as a teenager, college student, co-worker, life-long friend, and father who lovingly withheld business realities. I witnessed shortcomings and successes and found empathy with a man who faced so much in his life. His sacrifices cost the ultimate price, and accepting that some questions may never be answered, I grew to love him again.

Confessions for a Son juxtaposes these photographs with those taken by my father roughly 40 years ago. Photographs from family archives and experimental practices join to explore this complex relationship between father and son. These works share my emotions after his death, my search to learn more abut him in recent years, and the journey of acceptance and forgiveness.

These pictures are my way of saying its OK. Everything that happened is done and it’s OK. They are my way of taking ownership of everything that I felt, and all the anger and all the shame, and saying, “Yes, I felt that, and it’s OK to feel that, and I still love you.”

Aline Smithson and Alex Dilworth discussing second place winner, Aaron Blum at the juror talk

Photography of the Rural South

Exhibition Statement from Slow Exposures:

"Every photographer has had the experience of seeing an image and passing it by. We did not stop the car, turn around, go back….interrupt that conversation… take the photograph that was there right in front of our eyes. Many such “I wish I had taken the time” moments dot our shared lives as photographers. And whether we live in the rural south, or visit and pass thru the southern countryside, we all see the evidence of a disappearing rural lifestyle, architecture and way of life that has historically existed in small southern towns, homes and lives for decades.

Slow Exposures began and continues to be a unifying platform to challenge photographers to not only stop, turn the car around and take photographs of this south that is fading away – sometimes gently, sometimes harshly – but to also actively seek out and preserve thru photography, the South today.

Photographs tell stories. Photographs document a window into our present – which becomes the future generations past – and as time capsules, are priceless gifts to ourselves.

SlowExposures honors this mission and I am proud to continue to support this photographic tradition." --Gary Gruby

Monday, September 22, 2014

Rebecca Drolen

Ear Hair

Rebecca Drolen received her MFA in Photography from Indiana University in 2009. She joined the art department at Belmont University in Nashville, TN in the Fall of 2013, before which she served as a Faculty Fellow at the University of Georgia and as an assistant professor at Michigan State University. Drolen’s photographic work explores constructed narratives, using the element of truth that a photograph carries to imagine and validate impossible scenes. Her work has been shown in group and solo exhibitions on a national and international level, notably, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Texas Tech University, and the Theory of Clouds Gallery in Kobe, Japan. Drolen has had work published in several art magazines and has a piece held in the permanent collection at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.


Ashley Kauschinger: How did you series, Hair Pieces, begin? What started your interest in how we socially view hair, and the beauty standards associated with it?

Rebecca Drolen: For very many years, I have been a person who is recognizable by my long and somewhat wild hair. My series, Hair Pieces, began with a bit of self-reflection and essentially laughing at myself as I wondered why or how I wrap up so much of my sense of identity in my looks, specifically my hair.

The first image was made when I found a braided ponytail that I had cut off years earlier with intention of donating. For whatever reason, I thought…I can use this! I fashioned the braid into a necktie, put on a short wig, and made the first image of the series, Hair Tie. The image is one part liberating and two parts manic. I loved the notion of telling an ambiguous story with only the figure and their interaction with hair as the contents of the frame.

The Wet Look

AK: After creating this work, what do you think it is that makes hair beautiful and grotesque? Has your perception of your own hair changed?

RD: I entered making this work with a sense of fascination that hair is both beautiful and repulsive in our culture. The fragile influence of context is its only distinction. We see long hair on a woman as a symbol of beauty and femininity, but as soon as the hair is cut or removed the body, we think of it as unsanitary and strange. Likewise, we seem to never have enough hair in the places we want it, and too much hair in the places that we don’t want it to be!

As an artist, I keep coming back to ideas of a common human struggle as a main point of inspiration. Making this work helped me realize how it truly is a futile act to shave hair on one part of the body (knowing it will return all too quickly) while wishing hair in another place would grow faster. I am going to keep doing these rituals of hair removal and growth even though I know they are an endless and useless struggle – that sense of irony and dark humor is both inspiring and entertaining as I make work.


AK: Take us through your photographic process. How do you begin thinking about bringing an image together? How do you think about the construction of an image? What is a day of shooting like for you?

The start of making individual images for this project happened in a lot of different ways. Sometimes I would begin with a phrase that I wanted to illustrate, sometimes I would find an object or prop that I knew I could transform in purpose, and other times I would tinker and struggle through means of illustrating how a view of a certain kind of hair could be forced to walk the line between beautiful and strange.

Simplicity was my one rule in terms of frame construction and design. I wanted the photographs to be illustrative of an idea, but not documentary in nature. The blank spaces and limited depth of foreground to background space allowed the images to feel like the subject offered is something akin to a specimen to be studied.

Each of the images have been shot in my home. I tried to start with as blank a space as is possible and then only add the few necessary elements to tell the story. I made the work while I was mostly alone and became a bit compulsive about arranging and re-arranging items in the frame. The images were all constructed in front of the camera, as opposed to later in post-processing, which means I got to buy a huge amount of synthetic hair!


AK: Can you discuss a bit about the jewelry pieces and what they signify in the series?

The jewelry pieces that are a part of the series offer a tip of the hat to one of the main elements of historic inspiration for the project: Victorian Mourning Jewelry. After the death of her husband, Queen Victoria spent the remaining decades of her life in public mourning in the late 19th century. Her celebrity and influence over culture at the time meant that it became fashionable to mourn, thus an industry of mourning formed. One very popular product/service of that emerged at the time was jewelry pieces made from the hair of a deceased loved one. The hair was intricately woven in to bracelets, lockets, and other ornate casings. While our current culture may get squeamish or find it morbid to wear the hair of the departed, at the time it was an incredibly sentimental and loving gesture.

There is something about the archival, lasting quality of hair as well as its link to memory that is mirrored in how we treasure and store photographs of loved ones. This link was one part of the compulsion to make my jewelry objects of hair mixed with images. I was also interested in twisting the sentimentality of the Victorian pieces and instead mourn the loss of the hair itself. Commemorated and given a sense of nostalgia within my jewelry pieces is hair that may have otherwise been undesirable – toe hair, eyebrow tweezings, etc. Instead of the hair being discarded, it is elevated to a state of beloved memory.


AK: What advice do you have for fine art photographers navigating the world? What has been your process of finding funding, time, and jobs after you graduated?

You have to be consumed with the will to make work and willing to put in a lot of hours to do so. There are countless distractions and no right answers or direct paths toward success. It seems incredibly important to show up, work hard, meet other people who are making art, create community, and take a lot of risks. It can be overwhelming to observe how many talented Photographers are making work right now, but there is always room for unique voices and compelling new images. The most important element in staying motivated is to remain sincere as you find the content that you care about and are willing to take some authority to speak about in your art-making. Other than that, whether it is jobs, exhibition opportunities, or reaching out to new artist friends, I try to put myself out there as much as possible, manage my disappointment with failures, and let the successful moments fuel me forward!

Hair Cut

Monday, September 15, 2014

Aline Smithson's Five Favorite: Photographers to Watch

Over the last few months, I have been exposed to terrific work and wonderful portfolios through juroring exhibitions and attending portfolio events. Narrowing my discoveries down to 5 photographers was almost impossible, so my selections truly reflect the tip of the iceberg of quality work in the current photo zeitgeist.

While jurying the Griffin Museum Annual Juried Exhibition, I discovered the work of Greg Sand and Molly Lamb—and then had the opportunity to see Molly’s work in person at Review Santa Fe. Both submitted several significant images to the Griffin Exhibition and it was tough to select just one.

Greg Sand

Greg Sands’ work is based on memory and loss, drawing us in by what is not in the photograph. Leaving only a trace of the original photograph, the viewer is left to imagine what might have been and makes us consider the truth of the photographic image. I appreciate that the altered images contain whimsy, but more purposefully examine the issues of existence, time and death.

Molly Lamb

Molly Lamb’s photographs from her series, Ghost Stepping, are powerful as individual images and even stronger when combined into a series. Her photographs are visually layered and speak to the transience of objects after the passing of a loved one. She has given those objects energy and life through light and perspective, creating personal still lifes that allow us to see anew.

Frances Denny 

Frances Denny won the Lenscratch Student Award and I was happy to see the work in person at Review Santa Fe. Having recently graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, her work is already being well celebrated and exhibited. She uses color, light, pattern, and graphic elements to explore female family members in her project, Let Virtue Be Your Guide. I am drawn to this work for is well seen and beautifully articulated tableaus that consider “legacy and embodiment”.

Liz Arenberg 

I met Liz Arenberg at Review Santa Fe and was completely taken by her project, You See Me. Her photographs were stunning in person and the deeper well of intention that the work comes from made the series even more powerful. I was moved by how she uses her camera, able to capture a tenderness, reverence, and a knowing that makes the work so rich.

Stephen Milner 

Stephen Milner submitted his project, The Ogeechee River, to Lenscratch. Through our correspondence, I came to appreciate Stephen’s dedication to his craft and his examinations of our world. Stephens’ photographs reflect his ability to capture place and put into context the fragility of not only the natural world, but the communities coexist along side it.

Thank you Aline Smithson

After a career as a New York Fashion Editor and working along side the greats of fashion photography, Aline Smithson discovered the family Rolleiflex and never looked back. Now represented by galleries in the U.S. and Europe and published throughout the world, Aline continues to create her award-winning photography with humor, film, and a 50-year-old 2.8F Twin Lens Rolleiflex.

In 2012, Aline received the Rising Star Award through the Griffin Museum of Photography for her contributions to the photographic community. Aline founded LENSCRATCH; she has been the Gallery Editor for Light Leaks Magazine, and a contributing writer for Diffusion, Don’t Take Pictures, Lucida, and F Stop Magazine. Aline juries competitions and curates exhibitions for numerous galleries, organizations, and magazines, including CENTER, Critical Mass, The Center of Fine Art Photography and The Magenta Foundation. She has been a reviewer and workshop instructor at photo festivals across the United States, was nominated for The Excellence in Photographic Teaching Award in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and received Honorable Mention in 2012 and was nominated for The Santa Fe Prize in Photography in 2009. Aline has been teaching at the Los Angeles Center of Photography in Los Angeles since 2001, and at the Santa Fe Photo Workshops since 2012. She is a founding member of the Six Shooters Collective. Aline lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Harry, and considers her children her greatest achievement. She is not yet ready to get another dog but actively borrows from friends.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Michael Kirchoff's Five Favorite: Destinations to Photograph

Tallinn, Estonia

When I was first asked to do a Five Favorite of my destinations to photograph, I thought, “no sweat, I can rattle that off in no time!” In actuality, it has been difficult and a bit painful. There are so many wonderful and exotic places to go in this world, with so many exciting cultures and people, that it really is excruciating to narrow a list down to only five. With that in mind I decided to make it my top five that are NOT some crazy difficult-to-get-to places that few people have heard about, but done more in the way of recognizable and accessible to everyone. Besides, one of my favorite things to do when visiting someplace obvious or touristy, is to photograph it in a way that is quite unlike anything else done before, or better yet, in a way that focuses attention away from the typical. Well, at least to my knowledge anyway. Therefore my list is made up of fairly common destinations that anyone would find fascinating from a visual standpoint. Also, I made up the list by city name. I didn’t want to be so broad as to name countries in general, nor so specific as to list actual sites or locations. People tend to make plans in this way anyhow, even if they have a narrowed idea of exactly where and when they go when they step off the plane or out the door.

Now I really don’t consider myself well traveled just yet, having visited maybe a couple of dozen countries in total. That’s a lot by some peoples standards, and a joke to others. But then, I’m not exactly done exploring yet, now am I? I also have a tendency to make my travels a solo endeavor a great deal of the time. Other people don’t always agree with the “just one more trip around the Colosseum”, or “we’ll just get up a couple hours before sunrise” mentality I have. Oh, and even though I enjoy eating in a nice restaurant as much as the next person, I’d rather just stay out shooting with an energy bar and a bottle of water. Staying active and shooting is time better spent to me. I didn’t go all that way to eat some chefs five-star seared octopus skewers (though it sure sounds yummy), I want to experience what the people and the landscape have to offer!

So here is my list, in no particular order. I’ve included only a few notes on each, as I would rather you did your own research and then go and discover them yourselves. However, if you ever need more advice, tips on traveling with gear (or film!), or want to know other worthwhile destinations, please feel free to reach out and drop me an email anytime.

St. Petersburg, Russia 

Now, if you know anything about me at all, or have seen any of my work, you know that I have a fascination with Russia. After visiting St. Petersburg the very first time, that fascination turned into a passion and love for a city that has placed it as my most visited foreign destination to photograph. Most people, myself included, consider St. Petersburg to be the cultural capital of Russia. Known as Leningrad during Soviet times, it is also a very untypical Russian city in terms of its layout and architecture, with a more Western feel than anywhere else in Russia. This is a city that was planned by Peter the Great to be the major seaport of Russia, and with the help of French, Italian, and Dutch architects, it was built with a number of waterways and canals that only lead to the inherent charm of this great city. One can spend a lifetime exploring the cities museums (Hermitage Museum anyone?), theaters, galleries, and monuments. I know I said this list is in no particular order, but between you and me, this is my number one pick.

Beijing, China 

Beijing is the place to go to ease into the culture shock of going to China. Full of history and culture and smog. Unbelievable amounts of smog, second only to the amazing places to discover. Don’t let it keep you away though, that would be a huge does, after all, lend itself to some intense sunsets. I’ve found China in general to be a very friendly country, and Beijing is no exception, even with the big city vibe. People are extremely helpful if you’ve lost your way (which can easily happen) and will help you out with directions. Since it’s such a big city, English is pretty widely spoken as well, and people will help you practice your Chinese just about anywhere. One thing I noticed while exploring there was that most of the major sites require a lot of time to truly see. You will need an extended period of time when in places like The Forbidden City, The Summer Palace, and The Great Wall, for there is something quite wonderful at every turn.

Paris, France 

Do I even need to tell you why Paris is a favorite? You all already know more about this city without me telling you anything about it. All the great things you hear about Paris are absolutely true. Sure someone is going to be rude to you, but you knew that already too, so why not just laugh it off as another Parisian experience. Besides, if this was your home, you just might act the same way to someone like me butchering your language in an attempt to purchase bread and cheese to sustain you while walking around. Paris is full of romance, history, amazing food, and some of the most stunning architecture anywhere in the world. It truly is The City of Light, in more ways than one. Yes, there is the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame, but it is within the parks and streets that amazing scenes reveal themselves day in and day out...just ask Atget or Cartier-Bresson. Paris should be on everyone’s bucket list, photographer or not.

Prague, Czech Republic 

Visually, a city trapped in time, both over the long and short term. I had a thirteen year break in between visits here, and it seemed as though it was only a week. Not only were there very few changes to the establishments of the city, but during both visits I even spotted the same elderly gentleman playing violin in the shadow of Prague Castle, photographing him on 35mm film in 1998 and with my iPhone in 2011. My means of photographing him changed far more drastically than even him or where he played!
Thanks to the Nazis using Prague as a base of operations during World War II, this city suffered few casualties in the way of all the bombing going on. I could easily spend a week exploring gothic Prague Castle or St. Vitus Cathedral held in its midst. This is the kind of city that I tell people to “just go”...don’t ask questions, just go! Normally I’m a bit of a sissy when it comes to winter travel (I am from Los Angeles after all), but I feel that being here under a blanket of snow would prove to bring a whole new level of astonishment to the landscape. My own next visit here might be just that.

Tallinn, Estonia 

The original “Old Town” city center of Tallinn is the closest thing I know of to walking into a medieval world. Much like Russia, Estonia was a source of fascination for me as a child, being introduced to it by a comic book character by the name of Cerebus (nerd alert). Oh yea, a comic book that proved to be right when I arrived and was immediately transported back in time. My whole reason for even visiting Tallinn was that at the time I did not know a single person who’d ever been there, or even knew anything about it. Perfect enough reason for me to go then! The funny about Tallinn though, even though it has a reputation for being the center of Bohemia, it is also listed as a top ten “digital city”. Basically a city of technology, especially in the world of broadband communications and wireless networks. This is where Skype was invented, not that you would guess that standing at the base of the spire of St. Olaf’s Church, looking down at the original walled layout of the city. Another nice feature of Tallinn is its close proximity to both St. Petersburg, Russia, and Helsinki, Finland. Indeed, I arrived there from Russia via bus, and left for Finland via hydrofoil. In fact the Tallinn to Helsinki run and back is a hugely popular route for local weekend travelers looking for a change of scenery. Do yourself a favor and try out the photographic trifecta of St. Pete > Tallinn > Helsinki and you’ll come home full of stories and amazing images to go with them!

Beijing, China

Yes, I know, I didn’t include any cities in the U.S., but it was my intention to highlight the places that you need to really “get away to” on purpose. I have plenty of destinations in the U.S. I could include as well, but like I mentioned before, it was an impossible task to include all of my favorites. Seriously, how can you have a list of top five photo destinations and NOT include New York, the street photographers wet dream?! Clearly this is not a comprehensive list. What Top 5 list is? This is simply my own Five Favorites list as of today, and will most certainly change in the not so distant future. I want it to change, and change dramatically, for that would only mean I’m still out there exploring and discovering new places on the planet to cram into this list. The new entries could be very obscure, or they could come from a small town only a few miles away, and that’s the beauty of exploring. Travel can be expensive at times, it can be difficult or daunting, but it can also be life changing. You really don’t have to go very far at all, in fact, home may just well be your favorite place to visit, wherever it may be. What I would like more than anything is that you come up with your own list, then shatter it while you continue on your own journey...and I do hope you create some amazing photographs along the way. Safe travels everyone.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." - Saint Augustine

Prague, Czech Republic

Photography has been a part of Michael Kirchoff's life since childhood, and an all consuming passion since his teen years. His work has graced many walls with solo exhibitions in Los Angeles, New York, Astoria, Oregon, and as far away as Lishui and Shanghai, China. Images from several collections can also be found in publications like Fraction, Adore Noir, Diffusion, B&W, Square, PH, Seities, and in blogs and sites like Lenscratch, Light Leaked, F Stop and Plates to Pixels. Michael’s photographs and constant blathering are all over the interwebs of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram, hoping that a future copyright case isn’t in the not so distant future. When not talking so highly of himself in third person, he can be found planning his next get away, packing a minimum of clothing items in between mounds of cameras and Polaroid. Michael has also been known to be that guy getting pat down by irate TSA officers for carrying Ziploc bags full of sodium sulfite and lead bags full of film through security at your favorite if the concept of a favorite airport even exists. He also likes to list things, as evidenced by this bio and everything you’ve read here today.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Clay Lipsky’s Five Favorite: Photos of Artistic Growth

1. When I first got into photography I shot anything and everything, but was always interested in capturing those magic moments when subject and environment came together at just the right instance. This photo was taken early one morning in the south of France. I was jet lagged, wandering about and saw this man starting to get in the water. I had to run in order to get the desired alignment and only captured one image like this. For me it’s an example of that desired synergy of vision and timing, but looking at it later the photo also spoke to me conceptually as the idea of man versus world. The idea of how mankind effects/ is affected by and navigates the world around us. It is this theme that would ultimately come to be the underlying root of my art as I progressed to become a more conceptual photographer.

2. Initially I was apprehensive about shooting people and found the rural abandon of the desert a stimulating landscape to explore and sharpen my skills. Luckily I live in Los Angeles, not far for the Mojave desert, a vast expanse littered with artifacts and oddities. This photograph represents an evolution of my approach where after years of exploration I was now motivated to create consistent bodies of work, in this case a typology of desert views. The series “Landescapes” documents the thumbprint of man on the natural landscape and hints at stories of broken dreams and the desire to flee urban trappings. By this time my photography had also begun to evolve technically, in this case incorporating the use of flash in order to balance interior & exterior exposure values. The end effect for me was a somewhat surreal perspective where all was in focus and the outside world hung like a painting on sagging walls. I soon realized that my choice of camera and technique were equally important as the subject in order to form a particular style that elevated the image and the overall feeling.

3. As I grew more experienced so did my curiosity about other photographic mediums. Since I never formally studied photography, I began to put myself through the paces by exploring the pros and cons of various types of cameras and films. Shooting Polaroids enabled me to achieve vastly different looks while also embracing the imperfections and happy accidents of film. My work had always employed symbolism but using this format helped create more painterly looks that enabled my new-found focus of creating fictional narratives. In my series “Fading Light” I enjoyed the resulting surreal, poetic images so much that I wondered if I was really a photographer or just a lazy painter. I still enjoy shooting Polaroids for the simplicity of the process and their unexpected results. It provides a nice alternative to digital, where once the photo is taken there is no more processing to be done. Additionally, the lack of manual camera functions taught me that sometimes it’s best to give up control and see what happens.

4. This image was taken along the surreal shores of the Salton Sea, a man made lake in Southern California that used to be a thriving resort area but has now succumbed to the slow decay of time. I came across the scene while shooting images for “Seaside” a self published photo book. I had been to this location before, but this was a new and temporary addition (that is gone now). It reminds me of how truth can be stranger than fiction, the world is constantly in flux and it pays to perpetually explore. This was shot on a vintage Hasselblad film camera which provides impeccable quality, but I was nervous that the image might not come out because of accidents that can happen in camera, with exposure, transit or developing. Everything worked out but from that point on I always brought a digital camera with me "just in case" something went wrong, especially with scenes as surreal as this.

5. The final image comes as a result of a cultural exchange I did in Cuba and a series entitled “Havana Noir.” Documentary street photography was a new endeavor for me, but like many others I was inspired by the unique surroundings and was curious to explore this classic realm of photography. Armed only with a camera, some poor high school Spanish and comfortable shoes I wandered deep into the streets of Havana. I stumbled across this scene that was so rife with culture and community I knew I had to make something of it. Once I befriended the father figure of the group with my broken, but sincere, Spanish I was able to take mix of journalistic and environmental portraits. It was in this situation where I realized my new passion for photography had enabled me to evolve as an artist and a person, drawing me out of my comfort zone into situations I could never imagine. This type of work in still not my focus, but continually reminds me of the magic of Cuba and its people as well as the universal power of photography to inform, entertain, empower and enable cross cultural connections.

Clay Lipsky is a fine art photographer and Emmy Award winning graphic designer based in Los Angeles. His photos have been exhibited in various group shows, including those at the Annenberg Space for Photography, Lishui Photo Festival (China), Pink Art Fair Seoul (Korea), Ballarat Foto Bienalle (Australia), Square au carré (France), Impossible Project Spaces in NYC & Warsaw, Poland as well as The Smithsonian's National Atomic Testing Museum. Clay has been published internationally in print and online, most notably with Esquire Russia, Wired Italia, Fraction, Square, Diffusion, i-ref, Daily News (UK), Shots & um[laut] Magazines. Clay is also an avid self publisher with over twelve titles to his name and serves as Art Director for the photoblog Lenscratch.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Rafael Soldi's Five Favorite: Apps that have changed the way I work for good

Today on Light Leaked, we start a new series of post in which photographers share their Five Favorites of a photography related subject. To begin, Rafael Soldi shares his five favorite phone apps that have made him a more productive and inspired photographer.

It's no secret that between smart phones, apps, and the internet our modes of working have changed dramatically. Sometimes I feel less and less grounded in reality and I try to force myself to do things the "old way"—I love making phone calls, handwriting notes, and leaving voice mails, for example. But there are a few apps, websites, and online services that have in fact changed the way I work, for the better! Let me start by saying that while I am not old-school per se, and I am connected and fairly savvy with technology, my technical know-how is still very limited compared to some of the things I hear my fellow photographer friends talk about (I think I finally figured out how to use my DSLR!).

So, on to the list. These are my 5 favorite apps that changed the way I work for good:

Considering most photographers today are on Instagram, it's very easy to underestimate its power and take it for granted. Some people are very against it, I'm very for it—and here's why. Before Instagram I wasn't making pictures every day, now I am. Before Instagram I wasn't looking at images every day (at least at this rate), let alone "curating" an ever-changing feed of images that make my brain happy and inspired. I haven't really seen a change in my fine art work due my Instagram influences, but I have seen in me a renewed interest in exploring image-making, meeting other photographers, trying new things, and stopping more often to appreciate the beauty the world a little longer. I appreciate once again the magic of photography to bring fragments of permanence to a world in motion. Instagram is my visual journal. You may ask, are there other ways of doing this exact same thing without subscribing to Instagram and its terms of service? yes, probably. Do those other ways work for me? No. I've learned one thing: If something works for me, I stick to it.

Accounting. Record keeping. Invoicing. Expense reporting. Taxes. Financial Planning. BO-RING, I know! When I decided that this would be the year to get my ish together, I met with a CPA and did lots of research on accounting softwares. I was looking for something that was efficient, affordable, and user-friendly for a dude who loves accounting as little as me. Freshbooks came to the rescue and changed my life!  Well, here's the thing... now I truly do love doing all of these things, and I log into Freshbooks almost daily—I've never been so organized in my life. 

Freshbooks allows me to create and send invoices, receive payments (manually or online), craft and send estimates, log expenses, track my time, manage projects, pull reports, project my income, and hundreds of other things. They also have a blog with amazing resources. Some of my favorite dorky things about this software: 

- I can use it both on my computer and on my iPhone. 

- It has all kinds of reports, including one that pulls all the info you need to prepare your taxes at the click of a button, which, if you've kept good records, is a life saver! 

- Possibly one of my favorite features is the expense recording tool. Every time I spend money on anything (film, framing, dinner with a client, museum membership, camera repair, software subscription, my internet, etc) I just upload a photo/file of the receipt and log in the expense. You can assign it a category, note the vendor, and bill it to a client if applicable. This means I don't have to keep any paper receipts and everything exists on the cloud. 

- For a design freak like me, I turned down many other perfectly suitable softwares simply because I found them to be ugly; Freshbooks gets the job done and is lovely to look at at the same time—at $20/month it's worth every penny! (<-- Hint: you can expense that!) 

Most people already have a Dropbox account or something similar, whether it is Google Drive or something else. The concept shouldn't be foreign but it has become such a big part of my daily work that I have to mention it. Dropbox allows you to store files on the cloud, so you can access them wherever you are. I use Dropbox primarily for three things:

- To store a permanent folder (which I call 'professional practice') that contains all of the documents related to my practice, some things I access almost daily and others not so much, but they are all important to keep handy. Here I find my C.V., my bio, headshot, grant applications, mailing lists, contracts, track my editions, consignment agreements, model releases, portfolio samples and frequently requested jpegs, among other things. I also keep a W9 PDF handy with my signature on it that I can just send so I can get paid quickly!

- To store files for clients. If I do a shoot for a client, I can put my final edit in a zipped folder on my Dropbox and just email them a link to download it. Later I delete the folder to make room. It doesn't get more seamless than that!

- To store files I am currently working on. I also do graphic design for some clients and often work on both my desktop at home or my laptop, depending on where I am that day. So if I am working on an inDesign document, I keep the file, any images I might use, fonts, text, and other assets on my Dropbox until I'm done with the project.

Nowadays whenever you ask anyone how they've been, chances are they will respond with some version of 'super busy!' Everybody is busy. Truth is, with endless procrastination opportunities at our fingertips, we are all very busy procrastinating, me being the leader of this movement. I have to be very diligent with the systems I set in place for myself, which has turned me into an obsessive list maker. I write down everything I have to do--even the littlest things--and if I accomplish something not on the list I write it down anyways and cross it off. I need to visualize my progress. 

While feeling very behind at work one day I discovered Todoist, a handy to-do app that can live on your desktop, iPhone, and even your gmail inbox. Whatever you access most often. I simply use it to keep a running list with me at all times and crossing it off as I go. The app is a lot more powerful than that, depending on your needs. You can assign tasks colors and categories, priority status, flags, and separate them into folders and projects. I'm not using it to it's fullest potential, but it works for me.

Travel: Tripit and Uber/Zipcar

A. Tripit
Lately I've been managing a lot of travel for work. Tripit by Concur has been amazing! Every time I book a plane ticket, bus ticket, hotel room, or Airbnb and the confirmation e-mail reaches my inbox, Tripit recognizes it as travel arrangements and immediately pulls all the information from those e-mails and sends them to the app on my phone. When I log into the app I see in an organized list all of my upcoming trips. When I tap on each trip I see every detail I could possibly need, from confirmation numbers and departure times, to what kind of plane I'll be flying in and my seat assignment. 

What I like about it is that it presents all your information for your trips in an extremely organized fashion, and once again, it's easy on the eyes. If I have booked a trip that involves flights, hotels, ground transport, and other details, it takes all of it and feeds it into a visual chronological itinerary with all the details a tap away. You can even check into your flights directly from Tripit and share all your flight details with friends (i.e. shoot an e-mail to whoever is picking you up from the airport with all the details).

B. Uber/Zipcar
Most people already know about Uber, and though it might not relate directly to my work as a photographer, Uber has gotten me out of many sticky situations without breaking the wallet. I do not have a car, and I live in a densely populated city with not-so-great public transport—it gets me places but it's not ideal if you are carrying equipment or framed work, obviously. So being able to request a car directly from my iPhone with one tap, and have it show up at my door 2-5 minutes later is amazing! If I am planning on running a bunch of errands or need to transport something bigger, then Zipcar is usually my choice. Unlike Uber, which is taxi service, Zipcar allows you to rent cars of all sizes/prices by the hour.

One of my favorite things about both services is that there is no transaction involved, I get in and I get out, and I receive a receipt via e-mail (which I quickly screen grab and log into Freshbooks as an expense!). So for a car-less soul in a city littered with Uber cars and Zipcars, I am a fan!

Rafael Soldi is a Peruvian­-born, Seattle-­based photographer and independent curator. He holds a BFA in Photography & Curatorial Studies from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Soldi has helped curate exhibitions at Farmani Gallery, Wilgus Gallery, MICA, Silver Eye Center for Photography, and Photographic Center Northwest, where he is the Marketing Director. Soldi’s photographs have been exhibited and published internationally at the Frye Art Museum, American University Museum, Griffin Museum of Photography, Greg Kucera Gallery, Connersmith, Emory University, PCNW, Vertice Galeria, and G. Gibson Gallery among others. He is a 2012 Magenta Foundation Flash Forward Award Winner, 2014 Puffin Foundation grant recipient, and his work is in the permanent collections of the Tacoma Art Museum, Frye Art Museum, and the King County Public Art Collection, among others.