Posts Tagged 'found on flickr'

Found on Flickr: Kolored

This is another installment in our continuing series where we talk to photographers whose work we’ve appreciated on Flickr.

This week we feature kolored.

Give us your quick bio.
My name is Paul Birman. I’m a full-time visual artist, currently residing in Manhattan with my wife, a cat and two turtles. I was born in Moscow, Russia in ’81, immigrated to Chicago in ’95, and moved to New York City on Halloween ’08.

Smith Magazine does this cool project called the six-word memoir. What’s yours?
Hmm…can’t really think of anything.

You grew up in Moscow. How does that affect your point of view in your work, if at all?
Russian society has this unique nihilistic take on everything. But at the same time, Russians are able to achieve amazing feats. I think it translates into my work in a lot of ways, mostly coming from my subconscious. I’m interested in things that are gritty, dirty, dysfunctional, yet beautiful and inspiring.

I read in the Bloginity.com interview you said you got over your trepidation of doing close-up street photography when you moved to New York. What made the difference?
I went to this huge anti-Israel rally in Times Square. The crowd was very intimidating and at times things got pretty violent. I’ve never experienced a demonstration so volatile.  It was very inspiring to be able to capture the emotion and in some cases even hatred. After you stick your camera into the face of someone who is screaming “death to Israel” and waving a Hamas flag, you can pretty much take a photo of anyone.

You seem to take a lot of photos of pretty girls. Is that intentional?
I try to take photos of anyone or anything that I find inspiring or unique. I’ve noticed the trend with pretty girls, but I haven’t been able to explain it. Perhaps it’s just instinctual.

Do you ever get photographer’s block, when the inspiration just isn’t there? What do you do in those times?
Definitely. When that happens, it means that I’ve reached the end of a certain chapter, if you will. It means that I’m ready to explore a different style, take my work into a slightly different direction. Of course I can’t help being a little bummed out for a while, but I know that whatever happens next will be bigger, better, and I get pretty excited since I have no idea what it will be.

Do you remember the first photo you took where you actually felt, “Now, that was good”?
I do.  I took a self-portrait with a little Canon A40 point-and-shoot.  It was the first camera I ever used that had a “manual” setting on it. I took a table light, and pointed it at my face at an angle, so that only a part of my face was exposed.  That was totally an “…oooh, OK, I get it” moment.

How do you know when you’ve taken a good photo?
When I have to change my underwear.

Having lived in New York myself, I would imagine people on the streets can be either blasé or aggressive in the face of a photographer taking their photo. What’s the reaction like?
I try not to leave a lot of time for a reaction. Some street photographers like to get into confrontations; I don’t. I like to get what I need to get and move on. I have techniques to avoid interaction with people.  But I have gotten stares, lectures, smiles, winks, dirty looks and even a couple of bitch-outs. Nothing physically violent yet.

Continue reading ‘Found on Flickr: Kolored’

Found on Flickr: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

This is another installment in our continuing series where we talk to photographers whose work we’ve appreciated on Flickr.   

This week we feature Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.

cinemafia: I believe, right away, most people would look at your photography and compare it to cinema. Not just films in general, but passionate art house, perhaps even noir cinema. There is a lot going on in your photographs that communicates this kind of intangible feeling, be it the rule-of-thirds composition, the available (often low-key) lighting, the telecine-like vignette. And, your images, especially those of people, always seem to tell a dramatic story – without words. Perhaps it’s the mood or expression of a single person, or the “slice of life” scenes you often encounter. Do you take any specific steps to evoke this kind of experience? Do you ever do any pre-visualization, often used in film production, before photographing your subjects?

Tommy Ga-Ken Wan: The films of Wong Kar-Wai have undoubtedly been the biggest influence on my visual style. I first discovered them when I was 15 – not long after I started to take photographs – and, although at that time I lacked the emotional intelligence to understand or appreciate their stories and characters, I fell in love with the images. It wasn’t until a few years later, when I discovered the photography of Eric Hands, which, although generally very different in style and content from my own work, brought the everyday alive for me and made me realize that the images I found beautiful, in Wong Kar-Wai and in general, were not just found in cinema but in the world around me, and that I could capture these. That said, I don’t take any steps to evoke or force them: I prefer to observe rather than direct, take pictures rather than make them. Pre-visualization, then, is something that I’ve never done either. I prefer my approach, anyway: It means that, unlike other, more imaginative creative pursuits like writing, I don’t satisfy my passion alone in a room, but am forced to throw myself into real life and the things that happen around me if I am to take the photos that please me. 

cinemafia: I know there are a few particular directors of photography whose work you follow. Could you tell us some of them, and what influence they may have had on your own work?

Tommy Ga-Ken Wan: The films of Michael Mann have been another important influence on my work, both in their visual style and in the depth of their characters. I once read somewhere that Mann doesn’t make films very often because he spends so much time researching and developing the characters. In my case the “characters” are real people, not fictional creations, but I hope that my photographs suggest all the same – a narrative, a psychological complexity, what a remarkable thing it is to be a human being. Although I can’t speak for Mann’s reasons for doing so, this is why I like to shoot at night: not only is it more visually interesting in its light and colour, people are different at night. During the day there is work to be done, but it is when the skies are dark that people become themselves. When the work is done, the self – what is going on in one’s heart and mind – is not so easily escaped or avoided.

cinemafia: On your website you note that your life with photography began and reached a critical level between the ages of 14 and 17. Having gone so far in such a short time, and at a such a young age, what are your feelings about having been able to tell these stories and share the ideas you have with so many people?

Tommy Ga-Ken Wan: In William McIlvanney’s novel Laidlaw, Detective Jack Laidlaw says (if memory serves, I’ve lost my copy) that there are two kinds of professionals: the first is the person who makes a career out of something and is competent enough at doing it that he gets by. The second has so much passion for what he does that a career in it came as a byproduct. I certainly belong to the second category. Before I started working as a photographer, it was more than a hobby, but a passion, even an obsession, and so it became inevitable that everyone thought of me as “the guy with the camera” which, at least from a professional point of view, was and is very beneficial. As for sharing my ideas and telling my stories with and to other people, I love it. I think that, while to create may fulfill some need in the artist, art is primarily created to be shown and shared. For me, at least, when I share a piece of art with somebody (not necessarily something I’ve made myself) it is to say “Do you understand me? Do you get me? Does this move you in the same way as it moves me?”

cinemafia: How did your work in photography affect your outside life with family and friends, your schooling? What were your experiences meeting other professional photographers, most of whom must have been much your senior?

Tommy Ga-Ken Wan: How has photography affected my outside life? I have struggled with this question. Although, as I’ve written, it means I throw myself into things more, do things I wouldn’t normally do, and it encourages me to embrace any new experience that comes my way, when I read in Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda the line “This was his great strength. It was his great weakness, too, an excess of detachment from his own life,” it resonated with me, and I considered that perhaps photography was detrimental in that it detached me from reality, prevented me from making a real connection with the events that were happening around me, made me a spectator rather than a participant. I began to wonder whether people invited me to parties because they really wanted me there, or because they wanted me to take photographs. But I know who my real friends are, and, on the other hand, I’ve met so many wonderful people and seen and done so many interesting things because I am a photographer. And to be able to make a living out of this, I consider myself very lucky indeed.

cinemafia: One of the elements in your work I pick up on right away, and you even make a declaration of it in your Flickr profile, is your propensity for truth, observation, documentation. Your images certainly bring this sense of the real, the world as-is, held up for all to regard. Do you feel that, as a photographer, you have an obligation to tell your stories from life, uncolored? Is there any instance where you believe your own personal bias or attitude may have changed the way you photographed a subject, or how you presented those photographs?

Tommy Ga-Ken Wan: I love nature, being in nature: beaches, forests, hills and mountains, watching a sunset. But I’ve never been interested in photographs of these things. All art, whether a photograph, painting, novel or film, speaks to me primarily because it gets the human condition. Art is a human endeavor, and the art that gets me most concerns itself with what human beings do, what we have done and, as is especially important to science fiction and fantasy, what we could do.

“Obligation to tell your stories from life, uncoloured.” Obligation seems like too strong a word, but perhaps it is the right one. I think we as human beings have an obligation to be truthful to others and perhaps even more importantly to ourselves. This doesn’t necessarily have to manifest itself in our art – that’s a very personal thing – but in my case, yes, photography has been profoundly helpful to me in discovering the truth about myself and how I feel about the things that happen around me. To photograph a person is, for me, to consider more than light and lines, but the expressions on their faces and the way they think and feel. To photograph a person, and then to look at that photograph afterwards, is for me to think very hard about them, and about myself. But of course there is personal bias: cameras may be objective, but people aren’t, and it is a person who decides what is included in the frame and what is excluded, and the moment at which the shutter is pressed. The subjects of my photographs are often described as pensive, reflective, melancholy. A friend once told me I had a very romanticized view of life and the world. I’m not sure if he meant it with a capital R or not, but I think I know what he means, and perhaps that’s my bias, perhaps the old chestnut about the image revealing as much of the photographer as the subject is, in my case, true.

Continue reading ‘Found on Flickr: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan’

Found on Flickr: Claire Martin

Dave_and_Liz_at_Home

This is another installment in our continuing series where we talk to photographers whose work we’ve appreciated on Flickr.

This week we feature Claire Martin.

cinemafia: In your artist’s statement you indicate that you moved into photography from the field of social work because of its ability to affect change. Could you elaborate on the qualities of photography that give it a greater power over other forms of social work?

Claire Martin: Well, I wouldn’t say it has greater power, just that it also has power to create change. An image can’t create change all on its own; it needs the momentum of people in other industries like social work, politics and law, etc. to put the feelings that a photo incites into practice, so they work together.  An image only has to be seen to be understood, so there is potential to reach a very large audience with photography. That said, if an image strikes a chord with people, it can change the way they think about certain things and in turn their actions may reflect this change.

cinemafia: Is the end result, the images themselves, of a greater importance than the process of taking them? Why or why not?

Claire Martin: The process of taking the image is about changing and challenging my own ideas and perceptions, a fairly self-indulgent process. The end result, hopefully, if it’s any good, is about changing and challenging a broader group of people – and if you can do this, it is invariably more important. Personally though, I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t express myself with photography.

cinemafia: How does having a camera in your hand change the outcome of what you do?

Claire Martin: Hmmmm, this is a difficult question. I guess it means I want something from the person I am photographing. I need to be clear in my intent because I am going to make public our encounter and hence certain aspects of their life. If you mean with regard to my social work background and creating change, this often means photographing people in unfortunate circumstances, so I need to be sensitive to their needs and the repercussions the photo may have on their lives. Mostly people don’t care, but it is worth considering. On a more literal level, having a camera definitely changes the outcome of events. Most people behave differently in front of a camera. It is a blessing when you find a person who is unaffected by the lens.

cinemafia: Have you personally seen any instances where the power of one photographer’s images was used to affect society in a negative way?

Claire Martin: I can’t think of any offhand. I tend to think of all the images that created change for the good, like Mary Ellen Mark’s pictures of Mother Theresa’s plight, the naked girl in a napalm attack in Vietnam by Nick Ut – countless pictures. But of course I am sure there are many examples of photography images used to affect society in a negative way. Recently, I saw a photo of John McCain having Thanksgiving dinner with his family, and the editor cropped it down to him sawing at the turkey with a maniacal grin on his face and published it this way. Uncropped, it was his whole family at the table with him carving for them. It’s definitely easy to manipulate the truth.

cinemafia: One of the running themes I see in your work is the sense of an anthropological pursuit. You seem to have a strong desire to arrive at unique faces of humanity that show themselves in the corners and niches of our world. You seek out the odd and quirky, the isolated, the disenfranchised. Could you describe how you go about finding your subjects, and why you choose them?

Claire Martin: You are right, I have always loved anthropology and studied it alongside my social work degree. Culture fascinates me. I seek out things I am interested in shooting, and I am interested in issues of social justice and quirky cultural niches, so when I hear about something odd or interesting to me, I do my best to explore those avenues. If this means financing a holiday to get there, I’ll do my best to do just that. If it’s in my area, I spend my spare time searching around trying to meet people who will let me photograph them.

cinemafia: Have there been any instances where a particularly interesting, potential subject turned you down?

Claire Martin: There are images that stay in my mind as vividly as photographs, but I never was able to take the picture – in particular, when I was in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver. One huge, strong young man was dressed up as some kind of grizzly bear king with an Indian feather headpiece and a fur blanket wrapped around him – and it was so perfectly executed. The guy was an absolute vision. I crossed the road and initiated conversation, and I had my camera out, but he was so intense and aggressive and out of touch with reality. He started talking about all the nice young girls who had gone missing in the area and I freaked out and kindly excused myself and left. He didn’t want his photo taken and he was tapped. I wasn’t going to push it, although to this day I still think about what a perfectly amazing image it would have been.

Continue reading ‘Found on Flickr: Claire Martin’

Found on Flickr: Eyal Golshani

Mesquite Sunrise

This is another installment in our continuing series where we talk to photographers whose work we’ve appreciated on Flickr.

This week we feature Eyal Golshani.

cinemafia: Would you describe yourself as a landscape photographer to someone you’ve just met? Why, or why not?

Eyal Golshani:  It’s funny you should ask that. I think that in many ways I am still trying to figure it out myself. After doing photography for over three years I have come to realize that I really enjoy travel photography. To me this includes both landscape as well as people. Although I haven’t photographed as many people when compared with landscape, I do have a strong desire to shoot more street photography.

cinemafia: Do you feel that there is a different approach to photographing landscapes than there is to photographing people?

Eyal Golshani: The two couldn’t be more different. With landscape the whole process is very slow and requires careful planning and timing. I spend many hours researching spots for a potential shot – [it's] always carrying a tripod and a remote shutter release with you, spending 15 minutes to set your gear for every shot, mostly at odd times, double checking you have the correct focus and exposure settings.

Photographing people (street photography) requires a different set of skills. You need to be able to see the potential for a good shot as things happen (aka the decisive moment). As such, you need to be able to think fast and change your camera settings while composing the shot. A lot of people rely on new camera technology to do a lot of this for them. There are a few masters of photography that have the ability to do this manually by knowing their gear and craft (some of the most famous Leica photographers come to mind). This is a skill I hope to possess one day – at the moment I am far from it.

Forgotten

cinemafia: I’ve noticed that one of the focal points in your work is texture. Not only do you seem attracted to it, but you pull it all the way to the forefront in your images. Do you feel that emboldening these textures enhances the way that your photographs are experienced by your audience?

Eyal Golshani: It depends on the subject. I think that it works quite well for subjects that have a beautiful pattern, which leads the eye through the image while keeping things interesting.

cinemafia: From your profile I noticed that you’ve only been working in photography for the last three years or so, correct?

Eyal Golshani: Yes, correct.

cinemafia: Before you began, did you have any other creative outlets? Also, do you think you would have become as involved in photography if the state of its technology (i.e., digital) weren’t at the point that it is today?

Eyal Golshani: I was always interested in doing creative things, but the reasons I became more involved in photography is because it gave me a creative outlet while still giving me an opportunity to use my engineering skills to understand the technical background of using a camera and what makes a good exposure.

Continue reading ‘Found on Flickr: Eyal Golshani’

Found on Flickr: amadnomad

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This is another installment in our continuing series where we talk to photographers whose work we’ve appreciated on Flickr.

This week we feature amadnomad.

discarted: So who is this little girl with her traveling zoo we found on flickr? What’s your relationship to her?

amadnomad: The little girl is my daughter, Zhenya L’vovna Jabban Rukhina. She is 2 years old.

discarted: Wow, that’s quite the name…where did it come from?

amadnomad: In Russia, the middle name is a patronymic — in other words, if you are male your middle name is your father’s first name plus -vich. If you are female you add -ovna. Zhenya (named after my father who was a famous painter in Russia) L’vovna (Lev+ovna, but the “e” is replaced by a character that does not exist in Latin characters) Jabban (her mom’s last name) Rukhina (my last name, but in Russia, women get an “a” at the end. Hence the complicated but *fun* name.

discarted: Looking at the photos, you can see that Zhenya has quite the collection of toy animals. Where did they all come from?

amadnomad: Her mom bought her the toy animals. Zhenya loves arranging them and corralling them about the city.

discarted: Can you describe what it’s like to wrangle up Zhenya and the entire traveling zoo for a day out with the camera?

amadnomad: I always carry my camera (Rolleiflex or EOS 1DS). Whenever I catch Zhenya playing with her animals, I try to capture the beauty and innocence of a child’s fascination.

discarted: What spawned this fabulous idea?

amadnomad: I noticed Zhenya’s imagination as she played with the giraffe over breakfast one day. I took a photo and came to admire her rapture with the animals, her “down time” as she quietly played.

discarted: For some time now I haven’t seen an image that has really stuck with me. But these three really crawled under my skin. I was fascinated and amused yet I was also creeped out by them. How would you describe them? 

amadnomad: The images area documentation of our journey via public transportation from Hollywood to the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City.

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Though this was meant to be a shot of the loneliness one may experience during a layover from one bus to another, when you find yourself in an unknown section of the city, thinking of what is to come or what you have just left behind. The trash can, however, lent the image a much more forlorn feel, inaccurate of what I wanted to portray. I agree, it came out a bit creepy.

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The excitement of waiting for the bus, of the adventure ahead. Fun!

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Aahh, the adventure is under way. Unknown faces, unknown places, brochures and fliers everywhere. Exciting time of experience.

discarted: Are there any Zhenya shoots planned for the future? What are some of the other interesting and funny locations we might see her in?

amadnomad: I am working on a new series for Zhenya all the time. 

To see more of amadnomad’s work checkout Lever and Fulcrum.

Interview by discarted.



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