Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Elias Carlson

Elias Carlson
Seattle, US

Landscape photography takes up a significant part within your work; what fascinates you herein?

I've always been fascinated with nature. When I'm outdoors I find myself enraptured with beauty on such a wide scale. I find as much joy in a sweeping landscape as I do in discovering a wildflower I've never seen before. I grew up in the suburbs and I live and work in the city, but I was blessed to have a family that spent a lot of time camping and hiking. In fact, many of my most treasured memories and stories occurred outdoors. I also think there is a freedom and clarity of thought that you can find on a mountain path or in the woods that isn't available in the city. I love the city, but I think I need to escape it from time to time to get my bearings and take a look at things from a different perspective.

How do you cope with differing lighting conditions outdoors?

I'm still learning the ins and outs of managing natural light and I still have a lot to learn. I have yet to experiment with graduated filters, and in landscapes that means you're often dealing with bright sky and darker land. I've found what works best for me is to decide on a mood or a particular subject as the focus of an image and expose with that goal in mind. Probably the most important thing I've learned is simply to wait for the good light, and to be prepared when it comes. Additionally, over time I've gotten better at judging what kinds of conditions are photographable. Sometimes the light is just too intense and it's better to take a pass and come back later.

And how can one prevent nature photography to slip into displaying stereotyped motives?

It's interesting that you've asked this question because it's something I'm constantly thinking about and struggling with. I've taken my fair share of stereotypical landscapes, and I do think it's part of the learning process.
When I first got into photography I was shooting digital, and I picked up a couple of magazines on landscape photography. It seems like every single article on how to achieve a great image was the same. Basically you need a super wide-angle lens and to find something interesting in the foreground to focus on. If you can add leading lines to the image so much the better. I quickly realized that what you end up with is a cookie cutter approach that results in just about every "good" landscape image you see out there these days. After trying this approach a couple of times I became intensely bored with the results. Anybody with a 14mm lens and beach access can go make an image of a starfish on the sand at sunset. What it comes down to in my opinion is vision, honesty and subtlety.
Some of my favorite images from other photographers have some element of discovery in them. It's the "second look" type of beauty that I strive to find. I find that instead of trying to force my view of how things should look onto an image, I have to open my mind and just soak it in for a moment. Usually when I take the time to do that I'll start noticing things that weren't immediately apparent and suddenly an image will pop into place. On the flip side of that, I also have a bit of a shoot-from-the-hip approach to landscape photography. A lot of my shots come on road trips or hikes where I don't have much time to set things up so I just have to frame a shot quickly and keep moving. There's some honesty and an uncontrived feeling that happens with some of my images as a result I think.

Is there something you have been trying to capture a lot of times and feel still haven’t succeeded in properly?

Fog and mist. It's so breathtaking and ethereal. I have a lot of images with fog and mist and I'm not satisfied with any of them. Sometimes they turn out alright, but I have yet to capture the mystery and majesty of vaporized water to a degree that I feel does it justice.

Currently, what kind of photographical motives do you feel drawn to the most in other artists’ works?

Without a doubt honesty and vision. I am drawn to images that show a photographer's ability to see the world and capture it in a way that feels natural and real. I love it when you can feel a photographer thinking through their pictures. One of the things I love about photography is the different levels of engagement that happen with a really amazing shot. There's the initial recognition of beauty, then you dig deeper into the image and discover things you didn't see at first, and during this process you start to get a feel for the vision of the person behind the lens. I don't know that you can call this a "motive" but it is a result of the photographic motives I value.

Do you think that art is something that can be ‘consumed’ in the capitalistic sense of the term?

Well, yes, definitely. Obviously there's a lot of people out there selling prints of their work and trying to make a living creating art. From a purely monetary point of view art can be bought and sold, which would classify it as "consumption", I suppose. On the other hand, a true artistic achievement is timeless and really can't be quantified with numbers.

Is there an art piece you have not grown tired of observing?

Of course. I've always been interested in art. When I was younger I was always drawing things. I used to draw pictures of my favorite professional athletes using baseball cards for reference. I'd also do my best to sketch copies of Alaskan wilderness drawings from a book by wildlife artist Doug Lindstrand. I wanted to be an architect when I was younger and ended up going to school for graphic design. I would say art is a necessity for me. I can't not create it in one way or another. As a result of this lifelong fascination I've been exposed to all of the usual artists. To this day I never tire of revisiting the work of the masters and I always enjoy discovering new art. From a photographic standpoint there are several people on Flickr who I continually revisit: Anna Shelton, Missy Prince, Kevin Lelland, Rachael Schumacher, and Joe Nigel Coleman to name a few. These talented folks have all created images that are a constant delight to see, even after dozens of viewings.

How important do you value interior design and decoration for yourself and the place(s) you live in?

I value it highly, although that falls more into my wife's realm than mine. She has amazing taste and has turned our little apartment into quite a home. While I wouldn't say that I'm responsible for the end product, our sensibilities are very much in line. At the end of the day though, I'm less concerned with the particulars and it becomes more about how I feel in the space. When I'm home I feel at home and that's more important than any article of furniture or decoration.

What would be your first choice to relax and divert yourself from everyday life: short city trips, longer vacations to countrysides or beach holidays?

I love to get outdoors. My favorite place in the world is a cabin in the Methow Valley that my grandparents own. I try to get out there whenever I can. It's about 4 hours from Seattle, so it's close enough that you can make a weekend of it. Not to mention the drive on Highway 20 is unbelievable. My wife's family also goes down to Lincoln City, Oregon once or twice a year to the ocean. In general, if I'm near mountains or any kind of water I'm pretty happy. My wife and I also love to visit the many parks in Seattle when the weather is nice which is always a good one-day diversion. On a random, but somewhat related note, I have played basketball since I was a little kid and one of my favorite things to relax is to go do my dribbling and shooting drills in the morning or after work. Something about the familiarity and repetition of these exercises that I've been doing my whole life is very calming. If I need a 45 minute break from real life that's typically my go-to activity.

Are you a curious person?
I think the people that know me well would agree that curiosity is one of my defining characteristics. I'm endlessly fascinated by all kinds of things, and I find great pleasure in observing the world, or learning about new things. I guess that's how I got into photography. It sounded like fun so I learned everything I could about it and got a camera. One of my favorite things to do in the morning before work is grab one or two cameras and just start walking with no real destination. Sometimes I find wonderful things to take pictures of, other times I just end up walking around for an hour, but I always love it because I'm discovering new parts of the city I've never been before.

Like the touch of fresh air. Take a look at his work!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Alberto Feijóo

Alberto Feijóo
Alicante, Spain

What can be reasons for you to choose analogue over digital photography?

I began using analogue; I learned everything about photography using film cameras.

On your website you show three different projects. Which of them would you say did you feel most devoted to while working on it?

The most important project for me is "Life is for Everyone" because it has taken me a long time to develop this series. I got to know a lot of interesting people, but most of them don't appear in the pictures. There are hard stories behind each person.

Both "Life is for Everyone" and "Walk Again" each have quite distinct and complex conceptual foundations. Are these likely to change in the course of the project, or do you rather set up guidelines to work with and stick to them strictly throughout the whole work?

I use guidelines sometimes, I make a kind of list about what I want to find. I read a lot and sometimes I find really interesting things like the work of Rabindranah Tagore: his work pushed me to make “Life is for Everyone“.
But sometimes I take pictures and after a while I develop the film and I see what I did. When I see their connections I start to make a series by assembling the pictures accordingly.

Are these two ongoing works of yours, or have you started new ones?

I have started a new series about group therapy. All the pictures were taken in London this summer. It's a kind of fictional project, like “Life is for Everyone“: so in some way it could be seen as a second part to that project.
Also, I'm making prints now in the laboratory in Madrid and trying to find common things between pictures; for instance colours. For me, colours are very important.

And are the pictures in "untitled" simply a miscellaneous collection of other pictures?

“Untitled” is a "game": it depends on the image that you click on for which images will follow: according to the image you choose the subsequent ones will differ.

From your point of view, photographers are collectors of...?

Photographers are collectors of luck.

Why do you think people often don't like to look at pictures of them?

Because pictures are a part of you, like one of your arms, or your belly button. It's difficult to accept yourself just as you are.
From my point of view: I need to see pictures of me in order to realize what I'm doing and what or who I am: seeing pictures of myself is a hard exercise, but you have to do this. It is self-criticism.

What goes through your mind when you pass by regular photography studios and see all those wedding pictures etc. in their displays?

On the one hand it's depressing. But, on the other hand, these pictures show me what I am not to do.

In percentages, how would you distribute between equipment, expertise and luck each their importance to the final outcome of the work?

Luck is a very important thing; I have to say that I consider myself a lucky person. But from my point of view, you have to work hard on the ideas, too, and be yourself. Nowadays we have high technology in our hands, but this technology shouldn’t take over the power.  I would distribute it like this: 30% luck, 50% ideas and 20% equipment.

What was your biggest disappointment/surprise in cinema so far this year?

Avatar was a swindle.  I think it’s a perfect example (and it's happening everyday) for high technology being at the service of a poor idea.

Conceptuality. Take a look at his work!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Lukasz Wierzbowski

Lukasz Wierzbowski
Wroclaw, Poland

What got you attracted to photography the most?

Ability to create my own little world of collected memories.

When looking through your gallery, it struck me how you reconcile saturated colours within diverse lighting conditions. Is the rendition of a rich palette of colours of prime importance to you?

It makes me more than happy to see all the intensive and juicy colours and using ISO 100 film with nice lightning usually helps me to get this effect.

The majority of your models are female. Would you be interested in working more with male models in future? How do you think could this change the sight of the pictures?

I have worked with male models on a few occasions but I feel that girls’ behaviours are more natural and spontaneous. Guys usually try to control themselves by hiding their real emotions while girls just go with the flow.

Body language seems to be a major theme in your work. What's your interest herein?

Movement of human body is a huge source of inspiration for me. All the tiny details, little expression... I'm truly fascinated by the nature of human body.

Advantages of natural over artificial light?

Natural light is simply magical while artificial light feels only like cheap substitute. Unfortunately winter is coming and I will have to get used to it….

What would you say are crucial elements for 'good' portraiture?

Good light and the right timing.

How long did youd longest and your shortest photo shoot take?

I don't usually plan my sessions in advance; that way every session is more unique. It can take an hour or the whole day. Sometimes it's even hard for me to tell when the actual sessions starts and when it ends…

Do you have a certain idea in mind before taking a picture or does it more often develop along with the shooting?

There are few projects that I'm currently working on. Lately I've been doing commissioned, more fashion oriented work. I would love to publish a new book in the near future as well.

The gift and the curse of photography?

It's highly addictive. I think it's both gift and curse.

Lucid, distinct, alive.  Take a look at his work!

Friday, 1 October 2010

O. Sam Akingbade

O. Sam Akingbade
Essex, UK

On your blog you write that you're a collector of words. As you collect images there, too, would you say it's possible to narrow down the description of a picture on one word or sentence?

I think it is possible to describe anything in a single particular way. However, since we have a plethora of words that can be called upon to express our taste or distaste, and the use of those words being subject to both the viewer's vocabulary and, more importantly, the effect the image has on them, the possibilities are endless from person to person. I also believe that art is a language in itself, with the intention of communicating ideas and ideals.

For some time you had posted works by Edward Hopper. What is it that interests you in them?

What I find particularly appealing about Edward Hopper's work is the depiction a very small number of people in them. And in paintings where there was more than one person, each of those people still evoked a sense of estrangement and loneliness; maybe even a quiet longing.  As I tend to be inadvertently drawn to that mood, finding Edward Hopper's paintings amazing wasn't much of a surprise. Besides the subject matter, the beautiful hues and immaculate composition in his work render them visually stunning. One of my favourites is New York Movie, 1939.

And do you see any correlations to what you're trying to achieve within your photographic works?

I yearn to find those moments in life, you know, because I'm naturally partial to them. Even without a camera in my hand, I've watched people on trains and buses go by, wondering where they were going, what they were thinking and what made them tick. So it was only natural that I embraced this in my work.

I personally at times felt that street photography was the most capturing when it appeared to show intimacy. Would you agree?

Absolutely. Street photography, for me, is one of the purest forms of photography. It's free from our interference, so to speak, and it's true to life as it impulsively occurs, oblivious to the camera's presence. My intent is to bypass our sense of self-awareness by taking pictures clandestinely. That way I preserve moments when people are going about their lives as they normally would, for that is the "twenty-four carat them".

Your work wanders around the different parts and corners of London. If there is something "special" about this city, what would you say is it?

Hmm ... quite a few things, actually - the endless nooks and crannies of the city that one discovers every now and then, the side by side stance of old and new architecture and the general hustle and bustle of it's busy streets.

You have been using different formats, so which one has been your favourite so far? Why?

Of all the formats I've used, medium format film has to be my favourite. When I first took interest in photography, I shot with a compact Sony digital point & shoot but I wasn't satisfied with what I was getting; the digital process felt a bit impersonal. I wanted a rawer aesthetic to my pictures, to complement their feel, and I also wanted to thin down the barrier between myself and my subjects by using a very simple camera, my dear Holga.

Coming back to your blog on which you've been collecting works from within various art forms. Is there an underlying theme for your selection?

Well, I tend to collect pieces that tend to have a singular subject, majority of those being in the field of portraiture. Whatever I like and I feel is in line with the other work I've collected, I add to the collection. So you might get an undulation of themes, but on the whole I feel it all adds up.

Is there an area within photography that you would consider specializing in, besides street photography?

I'll always take the kind of pictures I've been taking. However, I'd also love to undertake an exploration of the body, with the use of large format film so you can almost feel the images. And I definitely intend to do more portraiture, as soon as I find a model. Finding a model is bound to be the hard part.

Should faultlines be worn with pride?


A photographic walk through city lives, take a look at his work!