Riding Along in my Automobile

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I feel so fortunate to get to experience  such wonderful luxuries in life and a day with Ralph Lauren is always such a pleasure. To launch their new Automotive Eyewear Collection they opened up the doors to the Classic Car Club of Manhattan to send us on a road trip out of the city, up the Hudson River to test drive some seriously cool sunnies in Ralph Lauren style. 

Since I own a little vintage convertible I decided to go modern lux… I found out the Bentley drives a little smoother than my 1982 Mercedes and you can actually hear the music on the stereo! We flew across the George Washington Bridge to my favorite local drive along the Palisades. I love that feeling when you turn off the bridge waving goodbye to Manhattan and becoming instantly enveloped in trees ans nature. We stopped for lunch a the Red Hat on the River, a converted factory building restaurant with water views and killer lobster rolls. It was a perfect way to spend a summer Friday- fast cars, fun friends and fashion.

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Old School Photography

Holiday_Card_2014_02Much about being a creative is really understanding your voice and your vision, which isomething I have struggled with in the past while trying to find myself as an artist. With the passage of time and constant study, you start to see who you are, what you love and then… how the world truly looks to you. I will never be able to escape my tendency toward romance, beauty, simplicity, emotion and the classics.

So, I embrace it.

I can never ignore the soul fulfilling satisfaction of taking a photograph from concept, to composition, and then captured at just the right moment on film. That one shot, the quarter of a second pulled from time and eternalized into a physical object of study. This was the birth of photography for me, this was how you would take a picture and then agonize through your fear of mistakes in the waiting of development; a torturous process that I’m insanely in love with. In 2012 I decided that our studio holiday cards would be created in this fashion every year as a way for me to count the passage of time, to make something of an artifact for the people in my life, and to slow down from our crazy digitized lives back to where it all began for me as a photographer. I get to give the best I’ve got in this old school process; my vision, my thoughts, my mind, my passions, my skill and most of all, my time.

For this year’s studio holiday card I thought about the recurring visuals from 2014 and let my mind’s eye wash away in the strong currents of pictorial memories. What stood out to me? What did I learn about myself? What did I realize I loved? We traveled around and around the world to Bali, Brazil, Australia, Ghana, Dominican Republic, Provence, Germany, England, the American South, and Peru (more on that next week!) and you’ve been with me each step of the way these 12 months.

As I reflected on the year the place I loved most was Paris. It keeps coming back to me, as if a part of my soul is there waiting. I love the classic nature of her perfectly white architecture. The endless amounts of art and inspiration. And of course, the light. I love the way the french look at beauty and the physical form. As an adult now in charge of my own body, destiny and confidence, I’ve found that I am now enamored with the beauty of the body, it’s evolution and ever changing shapes, the softness of skin and functionality that make us human. I thought about the beautiful sculptures of Paris that dot my endless walks, the thing I love to do most there. I thought about that day I spent in the Louvre with my father and all those breathtaking halls of beauty celebrating the female form. Then that was it. I wanted to bring all of those things into my world, in front of my lens, on an early winter evening at Ann Street Studio…

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Using a dark changing bag I loaded Ilford Delta 400 black and white film into my 4×5 sheet film holders. Below our intern Sarah Rocco captured behind the scenes shots photographing model Mitzi who I previously worked with at our studio and who I knew had the type of body I was going for. Holiday_Card_2014_07Holiday_Card_2014_11

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Island Girl

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The beauty of Punta Cana was not limited to the just the resorts, but I found the island people of the Dominican Republic mirrored what nature had created. From their charming personality to beautiful warm skin color I found them intoxicating. A strange hybrid of latin culture mixing with European elegance, most of the people we met spoke multiple languages, lived abroad in Europe for a time and had a history of world experience. Being a photographer left alone on a island with her best friend (a stylist) and all these beautiful locals, we decided to focus our lens on Ana Nicole, another one of the Dominican Republic’s beautiful island girls, before she sets out to university in Holland… but for now, she’s just hanging out in Elle Sasson, letting the sun warm her skin, getting guys to open coconuts for us.

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Big Sur

California's Big Sur, a sceneic drive along the pacific coast highway

I’ve always wanted to drive along Big Sur, the dramatic edge of the western United States. While in Pebble Beach with Lincoln Motor Company, it seemed like the appropriate time to do that all-American activity of going for a drive, listening to old Beatles songs and Elton John favorites, pulling over every two miles to look in awe at the real picture show that is Big Sur.

California's Big Sur, a sceneic drive along the pacific coast highway California's Big Sur, a sceneic drive along the pacific coast highway California's Big Sur, a sceneic drive along the pacific coast highway California's Big Sur, a sceneic drive along the pacific coast highway

 

Captured on 4×5 black and white Ilford Delta film

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

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It’s an interesting thing, the world of luxury cars. Growing up in Texas, luxury meant the biggest pickup truck on the road…but that was not for me. I dreamed about the cars they drove in Sabrina and what was in Jay Gatsby’s garage. I knew these cars were aesthetically special but beyond that my knowledge ended. Lord help me when it’s time to change the oil or, heaven forbid, a flat tire with the old car I just bought last fall. I’ll def be pulling one of these when that day comes…

So here I found myself at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as the guest of one of my favorite clients, Lincoln Motor Co. which as you know has a great history of classic motoring in America and I felt so honored to be their guest, diving into this world of antique perfection.

Here are 10 things I learned in the lap of luxury:

  1. Do not touch the cars.
  2. These car owners give a new meaning to “spotless“… the smallest particle of dust was no match.
  3. Men will totally lose any logical thought in their head when one of these cars or if any of the new concept cars is present…or even in ear shot. (yes, we could hear them driving around from our hotel room)
  4. Racetracks are LOUD. Earplugs next time… I wonder if Donna Karan makes a chic pair?
  5. You don’t know rich until you know car culture rich. Jay Leno has said “Concours is where simple millionaires come to rub shoulders with billionaires.”
  6. Once you show your automobile at the Concours, you can not enter again for 10 years.
  7. One example I found through sly eavesdropping of how much it cost to restore an antique car: $500,000.
  8. Cars in the 1920s (Duesenberg) had hidden bars stocked with crystal decanters and tumblers. I literally screamed when he opened the back of the seat to show me.
  9. The prize car at auction while I was there went for $23 Million…. a car that I can’t figure out how it would ever make it past a speed bump.
  10. After driving around Monterey Peninsula next to Lamborghinis, McLarens and classic Ferraris any other roadway in America looks disgusting… including the Hamptons. #gamechanger

~

It was an intoxicating passion to be around, and only something as perfectly beautiful as these cherished pieces of automobile history could distract from the ravishing California coast…pebble_beach_concours_d'elegance_02 pebble_beach_concours_d'elegance_03

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Snapshots of Summer

Snapshots of a photographer's life. Summer in Amagansett, NY

I always have a camera with me, it’s part of fulfilling that need inside to capture the moment: the moment in time, the moment in my life, the way we were that makes me a photographer. I collect photographs in a way of possessing all that is beautiful in the world. If the picture is made, I then have it for always and the stress of the passing moment dissipates, and it is forever with me.

After our Paris trip I took a load of film to the lab collected over the past few months. I love the rediscovery of these moments I photographed, random snapshots of time I had to have live on forever. Oh yes, I remember the feeling of my hair blowing in the wind on the long car rides to Montauk or the way the sun was glowing through the trees in a burst of golden particles on the way to Sag Harbor or how beautifully the boat’s sail danced on a pivot as the rain headed our way. I look at the photographs, like a diary of my life, a fluttering of heartbeats forever trapped in a moment in time.

Snapshots of a photographer's life. Summer in Amagansett, NY Snapshots of a photographer's life. Summer in Amagansett, NY Snapshots of a photographer's life. Summer in Amagansett, NY Snapshots of a photographer's life. Summer in Amagansett, NY

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ESME VIE

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The elevator doors opened onto the fifth floor of the historic Rafael Hotel in Paris, most notably the place where Grace Kelly & Jacqueline Kennedy called home, and there sat this beautiful woman in a blush colored dress with an explosion of satin roses cascading over her shoulder like a vision of what women looked like so many decades ago. The woman was designer Julia Voitenko and like what all modern women battle with, she was searching for a wifi signal. Not knowing who she was at that moment of meeting did not stop me from showering her with compliments and inquiring about every detail before me. When she realized I was there to see her collection, was the moment I realized the collection I was about to see was hers and into the suite we went.

She walked me through the idea of the “new wardrobe” for the modern day woman where she needs only own a few pieces that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of classic looks, one in which Julia describes as “beauty made to wear”. Pulling inspiration from the 50s and 60s the silhouettes remain timeless and flattering to all body types while being hand constructed in Italy from the most prestigious Italian silk {something we know a thing or two about}.

In suite fit for a Princess, overlooking that dreamy view of Paris, I fell in love with ESME VIE and her idea of dressing for ladies.

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Paris Time

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For the past 4 years we’ve have the greatest pleasure of enjoying Paris in the fall. First with Esteé Lauder, then for MAC Cosmetics, following with Ralph Lauren and this past trip with CHANEL. I feel so fortunate to be able to shoot for clients who see the magic in this city of lights as much as we do. After work we always stay as long as possible to eat, drink, shop, get inspired and take epic long walks in the enjoyment of life. I’m happy to have french friends and favorite restaurants. I adore how things never seem to change here- the same woman sells me my favorite chocolates, the same waitress serves us that day’s seasonal dish, though this year her english is much better… which kind of makes me sad. Then there is always the thrill of discovering something new. The rooftop of the Raphael Hotel was enchanting. Dinner on the terrace of Monsieur Bleu with this sparkling view was so elegant. And the home stores where on. point. this time.

Standing under the watchful eye of time I looked out over Paris thought about the years that have passed and how one day I’ll look back on this time in my life and say… “now wasn’t that just magical.”

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India Salvor Menuez

When I was discussing with Kelly about casting for our CHANEL Haute Couture shoot she suggested this amazing young creature named India Salvor Menuez. From the first google image search I did of her I found her so fascinating, you really can see how this girl is just herself, a true individual who makes decisions based on her ideas and who she knows she is… so refreshing. Her presence in the studio was that of a calm artist, confident beyond her years. When I began to photograph her I could not contain my delight. She moved naturally in front of the lens the way I always try to direct models to do. This creative little creature, something of an exotic flower, was like a Renaissance swan to me. When I found the moment through the digital frame, India, so patient would hold it while the large format polaroid technician would help me capture the moment again but this time for analog. After the shoot we interviewed India about her personal projects, a fitting companion to these personal photos~

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You’ve modeled, acted, painted, photographed, created performance art – which of these mediums are you most drawn to? Is there any medium you want to explore that you haven’t yet?
I appreciate them all for such different reasons, for me it’s the cross pollination that is most interesting right now…seeing how different mediums can work together, or what the discrepancies are, how each path communicates its message differently is what interests me. I have so much respect for masters of crafts, artists who focus on their one way, but I’m just not there yet…I still want to try so much more. I co-wrote a film that has been in the works for 4 years now with my dear friend Maiko Endo; and working on that side of filmmaking has been really special for me and is certainly something I want to continue doing more of. One day I’m sure I’ll direct.

How would you describe your art?
A practice in search of new experiences.

When do you first remember thinking, I want to be an artist?
As long as I can remember. When I was little I remember thinking it must be the most free way one could live.

What do you look to explore in your work?
The human experience and how to push that further.

Who inspires you? Who are your heroes?
There are too many! But the heroes who influence me most are those I get to meet and work with. I cherish getting to grow up in NY, especially for the opportunity to call artists I so adore in time my peers.

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Your big acting breakthrough was as Leslie in Something in the Air. What was that experience like? 
It was amazing; I was so unexperienced but I just totally went for it and am so glad I did.

Do you have any films coming out soon?
A film I shot last summer with director Nathan Silver is going around the festivals right now called Uncertain Terms that’s getting some great response from audiences.
Then the film I mentioned that’s in post-production right now with Maiko should be finished sometime next year, so that’s super exciting. I shot a really special feature with director Luigi Campi upstate this past spring that I am looking forward to coming out and a short film with Zia Anger shot just a few weeks ago…and a handful of other indies in post-production I’m curious about. I’ll be shooting a short film later this month with Sebastian Sommer. I guess you can say I like to keep busy!

What projects are you currently working on?
Aside from all the films…I am soon to release my first public treadings into music on a project called YOU WHO with my amazing friend and collaborator Brian Close on Save the Day Records. We’re playing our first two shows this weekend actually: Friday at Body Actualized Center and then Sunday at PS1’s Book Fair which comes through us both having shows on Know-Wave Radio which is a continuing project.

I of course have my studio practice I put a lot of effort into keeping up, and then there are some exciting performance art projects – Gallerinas being one and then another is coming up with the same collaborators Mike Bailey-Gates & Claire Christerson at a show called Gymnasty which should be delicious…

What would be your dream project?
Something that brought everyone together at their full potential somehow.

What are you most passionate about?
Love.

Where do you find your calm amidst the craziness?
In nature and good food.

What drew you to live in Chinatown?
My dad moved here when I was in 4th grade after my parents split up. My mom still lives in the same sweet home in Park Slope but it was really Chinatown that opened me up to the whole of Manhattan and I’ve had two apartments elsewhere since I moved out but moving back to the neighborhood a year ago felt so solid. I knew this would be an apartment I would really live in a while. There are a lot of different reasons i love living in Chinatown but in general I just like the attitude of the neighborhood.

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Fashion is…
a moment

Art is…
important

Women are…
humans who identify as women

Love is…
lifeforce energy

Beauty is…
appreciation

New York is a city of dreams…my New York dream is…
every day different

Favorite trait of New Yorkers is…
they are weird

I wish people appreciated more…
the planet

An ideal day for me is…
a new experience with a good meal

I am happiest when…
moving

The best way I express myself is…
through action

In ten years I hope to be…
alive



India’s website // Instagram // Tumblr

All things CHANEL here

 Clothing & Jewelry by CHANEL //Modeled by India Salvor Menuez // Styled by Kelly Framel // Makeup by Christine Cherbonnier // Hair by Joseph DiMaggio // Manicure by Angel Williams // 8×10 Polaroid Technician Noé Arteaga //  Concrete Mural by Mr Perswall for Wallpaperdirect

More female muses: Laurel | Caroline | Jasmine

VITA!

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After we wrapped our Hamptons Magazine shoot, we decided to play around on digital and on film with our model muse Vita Sidorkina. There are whispers in the industry that she is the next “it” girl, and it says a lot that she just signed a contact with Victoria Secret PINK. I’ve shot a lot of people through the years from models to artists to friends and business folk so I’ve felt the differences in front of the lens. I do my best to make the sitter feel comfortable, beautiful (or handsome), and safe, even if that means helping them pose down to their pinky toe to get a balanced and aesthetically pleasing shot for both yourself and them. However, sometimes you have someone who truly knows how to move in front of the camera. You start a dance and dialogue together both giving to create. Vita does that and as a photographer, it’s my favorite way to photograph someone. It feels like watching a flower bloom in high speed through your camera box.

This was my favorite shoot from summer: I love the simplicity, I love the styling Kelly did on Vita that she picked up from how some of the “cool” guys in the Hamptons had been wearing their sweaters in the chilly night air, and of course, I LOVE Ralph Lauren which is all she needs to wear out East…

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Why do we look at photographs?

Looking up at Franklin Street in Tribeca

A photograph is a moment of our time in life, a brief slice of happening. It’s the capturing of a memory, holding far more detail than we can ever comprehend…the way the light looked, the way it felt to be there. Sometimes, if the photograph is good enough, you can smell the air, feel it along your skin.

You can look at a good photograph and feel it come alive, the image dancing into a mirage of your memories – are they real? are they fact? – blurring the lines between what is my remembering and what is yours, what is a dream and what is your own reality.

I’ve been here before…or have I? I look at this photograph and I hear my heels click on the cobblestone walkway. I am sure I was here. In heels? Perhaps not…that’s something I’ve only dreamt about.

Part III: Berlin

In the 1950s, my grandfather Beck was stationed in Berlin. Growing up as a child, I was always so fascinated by the old black & white photos of him from this era in this place unlike anything I knew on the country roads of Texas. I’ve always wanted to go and walk in his footsteps, to think of him as a young man, his family so far away, the devastation of war in front of him. We walked from East to West, we studied the differences from old photographs. We wandered the streets of Scheunenviertel and Kurfürstendamm. We had pretzels and beer, schnitzel and sauerkraut and look back in time of a city that changed so much.

Berlin in black and white film photographsBerlin in black and white film photographs Berlin in black and white film photographs   Berlin in black and white film photographs

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Part II: Paris

A black and white film journey through Paris and the beaches of Normandy.

Paris is so much to me…a constant source of inspiration, of light study, and beauty. When we stepped off the train from London at Gare de Nord, the smell hit me, that same familiar Parisian smell of coffee and cigarettes, and dusty old books in a garden of roses. The hotel, so quaint, with the Eiffel Tower framed between the walls of the street. We sat in cafes and drank wine, watching the people go about their day, their loves, their minds lost in their own thought. I wonder what they are thinking and have I thought that same thing before? We climbed the stairs of Sacre Coeur, danced with the states at the Louvre, and watched the sunset on Pont Neuf. On a poetic day we found ourselves on a train to Normandy, on a walk through the beaches of Omaha in silence, imagining the horror of war, looking up at the fate of too many. I always love Paris – it’s never goodbye but only I’ll see you soon…. and soon I did.

A black and white film journey through Paris and the beaches of Normandy. A black and white film journey through Paris and the beaches of Normandy.

A black and white film journey through Paris and the beaches of Normandy.

A black and white film journey through Paris and the beaches of Normandy. A black and white film journey through Paris and the beaches of Normandy. A black and white film journey through Paris and the beaches of Normandy. Continue reading “Part II: Paris”