Tag Archives: photography

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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A Photographer’s Gift Guide

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I love photography. I love giving and receiving the gifts of photography and what freedoms those items serve to create, to be inspired, to think about photographs in a more meaningful way. These tools, ever changing, are an important part of being a photographer, professional or hobbyist. While I haven’t come anywhere close to owning every photography book or testing every camera I can share with you what I personally have loved and think would be great for anyone interested in the art of capturing life.

Cameras

Sony a7RII: Perfectly small, amazing quality, this is my go-to travel camera. Because you can connect the camera to the app on your phone you can instantly upload photos to put onto instagram or as I have been doing for these self portraits, using it as a remote shutter release. These are the accessories I love to use with it:

Impossible I-1 Analog Instant Camera: As a huge lover of photography dating back pre-digital era I am always keeping up with my vintage film and polaroid cameras, a dying tool I try to preserve in my arsenal of gear and knowledge. I was thrilled with Impossible released a new version of an old instant polaroid camera so modernized you can control and shoot with in from an app on your phone… as you can tell I’m a fan of remote shooting. The photos this camera creates are soft, dreamy and otherworldly and fit right into my vision of the world.

*FYI, giving away TWO of these later this week! Follow on instagram for the announcement!*

 

Canon 5D series: I have been shooting with the Canon 5D series for around 7 years and it has honestly been the best professional camera experience I’ve had. I’ve used this camera to shoot ad campaigns, fashion editorials, images for brand Zines and brand lookbooks, all my NYFW coverage, brand travel stories and so many other … pretty… little… things.

I started out with the Canon 5D Mark II and now shoot with the Mark III. They recently released the Mark IV which I myself have my eye on. Did you know, we created our first Cineamgraph with the Canon 5D Mark II because of it’s capability of also capturing high quality video! These are the accessories I love to use with it:

 

Gear

Gitzo Tripods: I’m 100% loyal to Gitzo tripods. I’ve been using them since college, I believe they are the best. For travel and in Provence I have been using the Gitzo GT0532 Mountaineer Tripod which is perfect size to carry around easily, fits into my duffel for travel, and is light weight while still insanely sturdy. On the head I use a Gitzo Series 3 GH3780QD Center Ball Head which is absolutely my favorite way to shoot on a tripod. Back at the studio we use a Gitzo Series 5 Systematic 3 Section Long Tripod. This is a very heavy duty piece of gear and holds our bigger cameras such as the Red Epic, Pentax 645z and my large format film cameras typically with a Manfrotto 502 fluid head.

MYDigitalSSD 512GB: Super tiny, super fast and affordable SSD hard drive for location shooting.

LaCie Rugged Mini 2TB drive: Our go-to higher capacity drive, great for backups. Also comes in 1TB and 4TB.

iCloth Screen Cleaning Wipes: Your camera screen gets smudged, your phone has fingerprints all over it. Keep a few of these in your camera bag for a quick clean up.

 

Camera Straps

Photojojo Handy Dandy Hand Strap: I’ve had this one strap for years on my Canon. I love it because it’s padded and sturdy for a camera of this size. It’s so warn in now from all we’ve been through the leather has turned a beautiful patina and at $40 you can’t beat it. *see above camera and strap on far right in the top image*

Gordy’s Camera Straps: This is what I have attached on my Sony a7RII. More delicate, minimal, lighter but still solid leather quality, I’m absolutely loving it. And, they are made to order so you can decide what color leather and stitching matches your personality best. Oh did I mention, they start at $18!

Wood & Faulk Neck Strap:  Another strap I’ve had for years, this is the only neck strap I use. I like the extra width for the pressure on your neck or shoulder while maintaining a nice simplicity of design. The leather has worn beautifully, something that will last forever. Comes in tan, dark brown, and natural.

Camera Bags

Billingham 550: If you were to buy one camera bag for your entire life this would be the one. This is my camera bag, this will always be my camera bag and though it’s a splurge it’s also forever.

ONA: Made in New York City, this is a more fashionable approach than your traditional camera bag. From cool backpacks to women’s handbags, they keep your style intact and your gear safe.

Pelican Case: This is for when I mean serious business. There is nothing cool or chic about the way this case looks but when I’m traveling on a big job, carrying a lot of valuable gear, it’s typically too heavy for a shoulder bag and I wanted everything to be as secure as possible. I like that I can roll this through airports, it can stack with luggage and I can put a lock on it for security. It also doubles as a great apple box on location when you need to stand on something to give you a little more height!

Sachtler SC306 Camera backpack: Our backpack for video gear. It’s big, but not big enough that it weighs a ton when full. It fits in overhead compartments on airplanes, has a slim pocket for a laptop and enough room for all the camera bodies and lenses you need. It also stands upright which is a lot more useful than you might imagine.

Photography Books

At Work by Annie Leibovitz: An amazing behind the scenes account by one of the most famous photographers of our time on her career, photoshoots and how some of her most famous images came to light.

Peter Lindbergh: A Different Vision on Fashion Photography: One of my favorite photographers, this book is a beautiful collection of four decades of some of the most iconic fashion photographs in history in his signature black and white. I also love Untitled 116 and Images of Women.

Blood Sweat and Tears by Bruce Weber: An amazing retrospective of one of the greatest American fashion photographers of all time with his beautifully candid and so Americana imagery. The perfect coffee table book that keeps you inspired time after time.

Tim Walker: Story Teller: For those who see the world as a magical place… this is the picture book to end all. For those young creatives with imagination just starting out, Tim Walker Pictures, offers a glimpse into the artistic process.

Herb Ritts: L.A. Style: Some of the most beautiful black and white photographs of fashion, nudes and celebrities the world has ever seen by L.A. photographer Herb Ritts famous for his striking simplicity and powerful natural light imagery. The Golden Hour is a more intimate look into the journey of the photographer himself.

Passage: A Work Record by Irving Penn: One of my all time favorite photography books, this covers all aspects of Irving Penn’s work from fashion to portraits, to his iconic still lives you see hanging on museum walls.

Hold Still by Sally Mann: An intimate dive into the personal history and life of photographer Sally Mann and how that plays out into her esteemed body of work in this interesting memoir.

Edward Weston: 125 Photographs: Containing some of the most striking nudes and still lives in the history of photography, this book is a timeless tribute to the quiet vision of a master photographer.

Imogen Cunningham 1883 – 1976: One of the most prominent women in the history of photography and a pioneer of photography in her own right, this book is a beautiful collection of her most striking photographs from portraiture to flowers.

On Photography by Susan Sontag: A marriage of ideals between the history of photography and what was happening culturally in America in the 1970s that still hits poignant moments relevant to today’s digital society.

Above self portrait taken at my home in Provence with a few of my favorite cameras wearing Of A Kind Permanent Collection and Retrouvai Heirloom Signet Ring in an image inspired by a Francesco Furini painting.

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Studied.

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I was watching the U.S. Presidential debate live last night, in bed with a glass of red wine, around 4am French time. As I listened to Hillary Clinton speak (looking chic as F in Ralph Lauren, IMO) I was so impressed with how knowledgable and studied she is. Dedicating your life to anything, especially in her case of public service for 30 years, is a huge statement to passion, purpose and incredible knowledge on the subject. I was contemplating how that related to my own purpose.

Change makers start by first learning, then with doing. The power is in knowledge. The expertise is in experience. That’s what I took away. If you have been following my Snapchat this week I have been sharing what I’ve learned about photography. Quick little daily tutorials on knowledge I’ve gained either in the class room or from experience in my breathe thus far as a photographer which is and will be my life’s work.

On Photography

My journey started when I was 13. My mom handed me her 1970s Pentax 35mm film camera. The kind that is so basic and manual all you can do set the shutter and aperture. A far cry from the endless options and controls we now have with digital.

My first lessons in photography started with basic balancing of the camera’s built in light meter and a LOT of trial and error. I learned quickly that I like to overexpose my images by a stop, especially when shooting faces. I learned how slow I can set the shutter before the image begins to reveal the shake from my hand, or breathing. I learned how to communicate movement, not just freeze it. This is knowledge I still use today when I want the image to feel alive. From there I read books, I took every class I could for the next 10 or so years. Post college, I still study. I watch youtube videos, I take classes in alternative photography, I buy random cameras and learn how to shoot with them. I play, experiment, challenge myself and discuss daily.

The Continued Study

I’ve studied photography. I loved photography. I still love the history of photography, btw THIS is the best podcast on the subject. We are now all photographers. We all take pictures, communicate through imagery and share with the world. For those of you who want to make it a profession… take a lead from what inspired me about Hillary. Be studied, do the work. Take your time on the journey. Here I am 20 years later and I am still doing just that. She makes me excited for who I will become as an artist (and business woman) in the later years of my life.

Please, this is not a political post but one about being inspired about another human’s knowledge and commitment to what they belive in, if you belive in it with them or not… #ImWithHer

Above self portrait, in Baukjen dress & wrap coat,

inspired from the painting “San Gerolamo” by Caravaggio

 

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Old School Photography

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Each year, these prints are my little labor of love. This year’s holiday card began almost one year ago, at the beginning of 2015. While shooting a project for Tiffany & Co., we had the opportunity to rent a private helicopter to get aerial shots of Manhattan. I learned two things from that early winter morning ride: 1. I am deathly afraid of helicopters and 2. I wanted this year’s holiday card to be a print of my great love, New York City. Looking down on her from this birds eye view gave me a new visual sense of the layers of history in this city from which we build our own futures. I understood her in a new way and that’s what I wanted to capture.

Considering there is not enough Xanax in the world to get me in a helicopter again, I had to find a new strategy for shooting at this high but intimate angle. Though I love the views from the obvious choices—Empire State Building and Top of the Rock—they didn’t give me the towering sense I was seeking. From the tops of those iconic buildings, the city is dwarfed and dense, slightly out of reach. As luck would have it, our friends from The New Potato were hosting a party with Riviera Events on the 68th floor of the newly completed Four World Trade Center. It’s one of those moments in life where everything falls into place, as if designed by destiny. Here we are in the Financial District, where we work, standing in a building that is part of the present, looking down on the past. It was just what I wanted.

It was an incredibly difficult shot to take. Using a Linhof 4×5 film field camera, the cityscape was not bright enough to register on the ground glass where you do your framing and focus check. Only a few faint street lights were visible for me to use as a rough guide but for the most part I was shooting blind. This also applies to metering: I had no way of knowing if I would be right on the money or not, so I just applied what I knew about the sensitivity of film to light and my experience with it the past 19 years. The image that ultimately made the final print was a 5 minute exposure on Ilford Delta 400ISO film.

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After the image was captured, we packed up and headed to my favorite darkroom in Boston for printing (which made for a great 24 hour Snapchat story!)

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