Tag Archives: black and white

John Hardy + Earth Day

I‘ve been thinking about Earth Day coming up tomorrow and how much more conscious we are of the globe now thanks to air travel, digital technology and the speed of communication. When I think about the Earth, certain words or earthly elements pop into my mind: Water, Plants, Animals, Wind, Earth, Sound, Gravity, Light, and Humanity. I wanted to put these earthly words into a visual photographic story while also telling the story of one of the most “GREEN” luxury brands and conscious companies out there.

John Hardy, the sustainable luxury jewelry brand based in Bali, thinks about their approach and place in the world in a 360-degree way. For example, all the silver jewelry is made from reclaimed silver which can come from a variety of places, such as old jewelry, computers and refrigerators! They believe they can produce a luxury product that is in harmony with our environment; instead of pulling more out of the earth and continuing to strip our natural resources, they want to use what is already out there.

In Bali, the jewelry is handmade by local jewelry artisans, who have centuries of passed-down knowledge and expertise in craftsmanship. The company knows how important these people are and goes to great lengths to take care of them, providing organic meals for their artisans and a single mother initiative that allows women to work from home in order to care for their child. Together the designers and artisans collaborate to make what ultimately is the distinct look of John Hardy.

When I was interviewing them at their New York City offices about the company philosophy, the passion simply poured out of the team. The pieces I ended up shooting below are all from the Bamboo Collection - this is significant to point out, as these pieces are part of an initiative. For every piece purchased from this collection, one or more bamboo trees are planted with help for forest management and water preservation. This year to date, John Hardy has planted 900,000 bamboo seedlings, which is 6 times the size of Central Park. In honor of Earth Month in April, John Hardy will donate 20% of all Bamboo Collection sales made on JohnHardy.com to support Trees New York which goes to funding a project where the John Hardy team will plant evergreens in the middle of West Harlem with the idea of creating a canopy effect to help filter the air and, in winter, add color to our gray days.

We are all beginning to become conscious consumers. I talked about that a bit in my personal style post: supporting brands that give back. John Hardy is all about what they call “Sustainable Luxury” which breaks down to Culture, Community, Commerce and Care.

Care - Giving back and especially giving back to nature for a “greener every day“.
Culture - the John Hardy Family. Supporting the collaboration between designers and artisans and the preservation of the Balinese art forms and traditional french jewelry making processes.
Commerce - Creating a profit to sustain their initiatives and give back while connecting with consumers and educating them on what their products do beyond the monetary exchange.
Collaboration - Taking care of their the employees either through organic meals, enabling single mothers to work, providing amazing health care to supporting the local orphanages and communities of Bali.

So here is to our Mother Earth and all the gifts she gives us. May we have, as John Hardy says, a Greener Every Day and be the example of a new kind of balance. While photographing the concepts of these earthly elements, I asked our model to come completely barefaced, non-styled hair and bare nails. I wanted this to be about natural beauty, the natural beauty of us… the natural beauty of earth ~

WATER

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Above Gold Knot Ring / Below Silver Link Necklace 

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Below Silver Rope Necklace 

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PLANTS

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Caroline Ventura

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As an artist there are some people who I LOVE photographing. I could photograph them everyday. There is something about their beauty, bone structure, and spirit I love to capture, that my eye finds fascinating and wants to study them over and over. This is the case for jewelry designer Caroline Ventura who is one of (along with Heather) my muses. I first met Caroline on a shoot for Cup of Jo three years ago and we have been friends ever since. Did you know she was the first cinemagraph we ever shot? We just never tired editing it until AFTER our first public one. She was the first person I photographed at our old studio and this shoot is our first together at our new one.

We are both artists and we have known each other as photographer + subject for sometime now. I’ve shot Caroline beautifully, I’ve shot her COOL, but as we have been getting older we are looking to find more depth in our work. I’ve been wanting to focus less on the clothing in my personal shoots these days and more on the beauty of the female form. Caroline and I were going to meet up for dinner and I said, hey, let’s do a shoot before we head out, which eventually turned into a night of film photographs, margaritas, girl talk, and these moments below.

… and just for fun I asked Caroline a series of fill in the blank questions just for a new take on an old friend.

I am most inspired by…

My friends. I’m so lucky to have an incredible circle of talented friends who all support each other and push one another to do/create beautiful things.

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An ideal day for me is…

When I can see blue skies. As long as the sun is shining, anything can be thrown my way.

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My favorite artist is…

Lia Chavez, who is doing really beautiful things in the art world right now. I am so fortunate to call her a friend. Her solo show, Carceri, just opened at Two Rams on the LES. She is one of the gentlest and most humble humans and a huge inspiration to me.

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The best way I express myself is…

With my mouth. I talk a lot.

Caroline_Ventura_25  New York City is…

Home. No matter where I go in my life it always pulls me back.

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Film vs. Digital

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I‘m often asked in interviews the difference between film vs. digital, if film is dead, and how I choose which medium I want to shoot with. Film photography will always be a part of my life. It was how I was raised to take pictures; it is my roots in photography. It feels different to take a photograph on film than on digital even though so much of what they accomplish is the same.

When I shoot on film I am looking for a depth to the final image…quite simply, I find film images to have a soul. Maybe that has something to do with how you take the picture. We go through thousands of digital photographs weekly which feels like the next image diminishes the value of the one before. With film, even when I feel like I’m shooting a lot, it is only in the hundreds and when I push that shutter release each time, that shot is thought-out, composed, and one where I waited for that perfect moment. My friend Adam who had a show this past fall at the Sasha Wolf Gallery said if he ever had to teach a class in digital he’d make his students shoot on camera cards that only hold 36 frames to train them to think about each shot.

However, digital has this beautiful clarity, this “reach out and touch it” ability that I find so beautiful. The velvety texture of flower petal, the saturation of color in a blushing rose. Digital puts you there, in the moment, feeling the light, and seeing even what the human eye can’t. The speed with which we can capture, document and share with digital photography is so astonishing. Recently I tweeted, “Every two minutes, we take more pictures than the whole of humanity in the 1800s.” I alway say, photography is a right, not a privilege, and thanks to digital that has never been more true.

On a day where I just don’t want to sit at a computer editing or writing emails, or I need a break to get in the zone creatively, I find my favorite thing to do is photograph flowersFlowers represent so much about life to me: the beauty, the aging, the individuality and sexuality. I wanted to illustrate the difference between film and digital, so on my last flower study I took (as close as possible!) the same photograph on a digital Leica M with macro lens and then again on a 4×5 Toyo View Camera on Ilford Delta 100 ISO black and white film. I used natural light and did a variety of shots using different F-stops for a varying depth of field.

You tell me what you prefer: Film or Digital?

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Simple natural light setup in our studio, white textured cardboard background. Above, using the shutter cable release to avoid my hand shaking on the shutter release, which  causes motion blur. Most of the 4×5 exposures were between 30 secs and one minute. Below, focusing view on the 4×5 ground glass. 

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The outcome. 

at f/45

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30 Things I’ve Learned in these 30 Years…

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Recently I celebrated my birthday and I have to say, I’m really loving my thirties. I feel wiser, I look slightly older which I love but feel young enough that nothing hurts (yet). I am independent in a way I wasn’t in my 20s and I’ve finally found my rhythm in life. One of my favorite expressions is “If I only knew then what I know now”… so I thought I’d just write it down. The things I’ve learned in the thirty-some-odd-years for anyone younger listening and for anyone older who might like to share with me their lessons so that my next 30 years are just as bright…

1. Have a dream. Follow your dreams.

2. Failures are not mistakes, only the lessons that give us stories.

3. GO WITH YOUR GUT. Always, always, always.

4. “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” That is what I think every time I get a “little nervous”. We don’t know what is about to happen so we can’t live our lives as if we do.

5. You never know what someone is dealing with personally so be kind.

6. Knowledge is power and opportunity. Opportunity is everything. 

7. You may end up loving the things you once hated.

8. Do what you love for a living so you can love what you do. It’s the only time we’ve got, might as well spend it as well as possible.

9. Money does not define happiness.

10. It is the things that people make look easy that are the hardest to do.

11. A great photograph needs no caption because it has an idea, story or message within it.

12. Never be afraid to try something new.

13. Talk about what you love.

14. Giving is better than receiving.

15. Best friends are the keepers of your life’s memories.

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