Tag Archives: photography

Penumbra Foundation

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A couple of weeks ago I attended a weekend workshop for the 2nd time at Penumbra Foundation, the center for alternative photography. The subject this time around was on the platinum palladium printing process, something which I had been wanting to learn for years. I am absolutely obsessed with what they are doing here and keeping alive the history of photography in a hands on approach. Actually, the reason THIS nude shoot finally happened though we had been talking about it for months, was because I wanted to take these classic female form shots into the darkroom specifically to be printed this way.

In addition to workshops, they also have a studio you can rent, darkrooms, a tintype studio, and lecture series.

Here are a few snapshots taken by new friends I made that weekend I asked if I could share with you all to see into the magic of Penumbra.

{above image by Carl Weese || below images by Tom Grill}

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The Female Nude

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I am a woman. I am aware of my body like any normal human being. It’s not a surprise, just look at the images served up to us. Everyone is beautiful, happy, young, thin… they have the perfect (insert your own personal thoughts here) stomach, eye brows, waist, legs, hips- sometimes it feels like an impossible treadmill of perfect we will never really achieve because of genetics, because we have real life and real work and can’t spend the amount of time it takes to achieve “perfection”.

But really, what is perfect?

I’ve always be interested in shooting nudes. I started in college. The body is one of the most beautiful, natural things about life. The way it changes, the way it gives life, the way each is our own and that is what makes us special. I wouldn’t take my grandmother’s wrinkles away, or Dad’s loving soft hugs, or seeing my sister-in-law’s body change carrying the amazing twins my family adores. I would not say that I have had body issues all my life, but as I’ve gotten older I had to learn to look in the mirror and teach myself to stop judging the way I look compared to other people.

As a photographer I look for what is photogenic from people to places to the design of a still life. I’m not going to lie, I love tall beautiful thin fashion models. They are like illustrations of illusions of an idea of who we think we are or could be. Fantasy is part of the fun, photographing that fantasy is one of the things that I love most.

However…

There is a place for curves too. Curves are incredible. When our model Jourdan walked in I was honestly first taken back by her personality. Her confidence. Confidence is the one of the greatest quality anyone can possess. She was cool, smart, comfortable in her own skin. She was one of the least self-deprecating models I’ve ever worked with. When we started making photographs a lot changed for me. Not only as a photographer but as a woman. Maybe even more importantly as a woman. Here was a human, not afraid to let me photograph her with nothing to hide behind, no character to portray, no fantasy story to tell, it was just her. In the moment. In the light. Just the way she is.

After this shoot I had a mix of emotions. Her body, so beautiful, so photographic in its shapes and contours was in one word: inspiring. She made me realize that the female form in any shape and size is incredible. To have curves, softness, confidence was true beauty. She represented to me what being a woman was all about. I understood why Renior and Matisse painted the way they did and I saw that beauty too. I was so proud to be a woman and in my personal life, more confident about the size of my chest and softness around my stomach. If wrinkles show the hand of time and the life that was lived, curves show the fertility of it and the raw attraction of humanity.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that women come in many fascinating forms and, at this sitting, I saw beauty in a way that should be more often seen.

Here’s to the beautiful form we call being a WOMAN.

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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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Men in This Town

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I met Giuseppe Santamaria, a men’s street style photographer, back in 2011 covering NYFW together. Since I’ve watched Giuseppe’s career and photography really grow into something very special in the men’s style realm. So special, in fact, that a book of his photographs was published this September called “Men in This Town“.  Giuseppe’s approach to photography, men’s fashion, and street style is quite romantic and not at all trendy or concerned with the “who’s who”. He really shoots from his heart. We sat down at our studio last week to catch up and ask him all about his first book~

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Above, a portrait of the photographer photographed on 4×5 black & white film

How did Men in this Town begin?

It started with a tweet. I had photographed my friend’s cookbook cover, and then I started following his publisher on Twitter. One day he said, “Done for 2013 books. Onto next year. Any ideas?” I jokingly tweeted back, “How about a Men in This Town book?” And a year later, it came out.

When did you first start photographing?

By trade I’m a graphic designer. I’ve been working with photos and amazing photographers my entire career. That’s where my eye was trained – not conventionally at all.

How did you learn photography?

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