Tag Archives: photographer

Old School Photography

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Perhaps the most meaningful personal shoot of the year comes every December. We sit down and talk about what the year meant and how to capture that in a photograph. How to express where we were at that time. I shoot the annual Ann Street Studio holiday card photograph in the same format each year, on a 4×5 film camera with black and white Ilford film.

This year’s image crossed continents twice from start to finish. It begins in France, taken in the afternoon light of Provence with flowers I bought at my little town’s Saturday farmer’s market. After I framed the flowers just so, I used two magazines to manipulate and block the natural light of part of the background and on some of the arrangement while the shutter stayed opened for 30seconds. I shot somewhere around 15 plates with variations on lighting and exposures then packed them up and brought the sheets of film back to New York with me to be hand processed at LTI.

As always, I took the processed film and contact sheets to my favorite darkroom lab in Boston which I pilgrimage to every winter and spent two days hand printing the set of 200 on Ilford warm tone fiber base paper.

I brought the final 200 back to France with me and spent days by the window light addressing each one, some with added personal notes, to be mailed out all over the world. It is a long process but one that brings me great joy in a digital age. To give someone a physical object you made with your heart, soul and abilities is like having a small piece of me in your home. The sense of pride I feel when people send me photos of the image framed in their home makes me feel grateful that I am a photographer. However, for the most part I don’t know what people do with them. I like to imagine someone using one as a bookmark to later discover again years from now. I like to fantasize a child or grandchild will come across one decades from now in an old box and feel a connection to me or at least to who I once was. They don’t have to know me personally but I hope they know my work.

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Below, in my beloved darkroom in Boston. 

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Below, back at home in France addressing each envelope. 

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The text that accompanies the print:

This is a limited edition fiber print of a simple bouquet of flowers  was photographed in the afternoon light of Provence in the South of France. Shot on 4×5 black and white film, this image was hand processed, printed and pressed but the artist.

We believe if you take away the color of a photograph, what you are left with is the life it represents. In “Ranunculus #8” the delicate bouquet was captured at different stages of bloom and in an array of colors wrapped around each other as a representation of all ages and races of humanity. The past year was uneasy and sometimes heartbreaking for many around the world and this photograph represents 2016 as a reminder that we are more beautiful when we all come together. The falling petals are the tears we may have shed but are caught by another in an act of love. We hope you join us in our belief that it is the differences in us which make life an endless gift of discovery and enriching beauty to be celebrated.

We thank you for coming along on our journey and hope that you cherish this print as a way to say thank you for an amazing year. Each bring is signed, numbered and dated.

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“Ranunculus #8”

See 2015 here.

See 2014 here.

See 2013 here.

See 2012 here.

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When Pigs Fly…

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When I first started my journey to France I got a new piece of jewelry, something that represents my approach to life. It was a signet ring by Retrouvai, a modern heirloom designer based in L.A., with a flying pig engraved in gold in the middle.

I love signet rings with their classic monograms so this was a bit of a departure but the symbolism of the flying pig to “embody strength to overcome life’s greatest obstacles” was exactly the reminder I wanted to give myself to be strong on my new journey in a far off land with a foreign language I did not speak, I was in a town I’d never been and was living in an apartment I’d never seen before, in the middle of nowhere. Fast forward five months and everything worked out.

It wasn’t always easy.

I have cried from frustration, fear, exhaustion, confusion but now I’ve grasped the swing of things. I’m a better person. I’ve learned so much about myself and grown immensely by doing something so completely different than the life I had created in New York. I am stronger. I’m a better photographer, I’m an inspired artist. But perhaps more important than any of it, I took the courage to live one of my dreams.

When you test what you can do you realize that anything is possible. The limits we create in our mind are just that, creations of the mind. Every time I slide this ring on or off or catch glimpses of it reflecting the light I think about that line engraved on the inside, nestled against my skin, a message that is one of the things I most believe about how to live a fulfilling life… “Anything is Possible.”

“A wise man once said anything is possible when you stop believing it is impossible.”

More stories from my life in Provence here.

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Old School Photography

Holiday_Card_2014_02 Much 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_07 Holiday_Card_2014_11

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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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