Apr 152011

Felix Kunze on Marlene Rose

Selecting a project is a challenge that

every photographer must face.  Whether

you are a reporter for Time magazine or

an avid Flickr poster, we all need new

and exciting subjects.  But how do you

learn to step outside of the comfort zone

and find new projects?

Felix Kunze Adam Marelli

Liquid glass is poured into the prepared mold. This is a delicate process. It has to be timed just right to make sure the glass hardens in a consistent fashion. It has to be poured fast enough so it doesn't cool, at which point it can no longer be worked with.  © Felix Kunze

Fashion Eye On Glass

Humans are creatures of habit.  We like our coffee a certain way, have our favorite restaurants, and have a tendency to take the same pictures.  Self imitation is not reserved for amateurs, in fact it is a bigger problems for professionals.  Some photographers like Timothy Greenfield-Sanders even admit, “I do take the same picture over and over again, but I think its an important picture.”  He has made series on everyone from politicians to porn stars, but he uses an 8×10 view camera and one light.  He seems happy with this, but for most other photographers the world the variety of the world is too much to resist.

Timothy Greenfield Sanders Adam Marelli

Porn Star Tera Patrick.  © Timothy Greenfield Sanders

There are a number of techniques for breaking the monotony of the typical shot.  We can change cameras, take trip, or take on a completely different project.  Felix Kunze sent me his recent essay on glass artist Marlene Rose.  This is a departure from Felix’s typical portraiture which has a glossy fashion influence.  In a cross over, he took his Vogue style and adapted it to a workshop of molten glass.


Honore Daumier's Third Class Carriage, 1862 Adam Marelli

Honore Daumier's Third Class Carriage, 1862.

Sebastiao Salgado Adam Marelli

Sicilian Fishermen.  ®Sebastiao Salgado

Pieter Breugel Adam Marelli

The Harvesters, 1565. Pieter Breugel

The History Of Work

Documenting people at work has been a major focus for artists since at least the 1500′s.  Artists like Pieter Bruegel, Honore Daumier, Corot, and Van Gogh all painted pictures of people working.  Once photography came on the scene, lenses replaced the brushes as a popular way to depict the conditions of the worker.  Sebastiao Salgado shot miners, Cartier-Bresson shot office workers, and Edward Burtynsky shot the ship breakers.  Work is a fascinating subject where raw energy is on display and often allows photographers to get inside the action.  Since the “worker” is occupied with the task at hand, the photographer is free to move around, almost invisibly.  The results vary from outright celebration of craft to bringing attention to abhorrent working conditions around the globe.

Edward Burtynsky Adam Marelli

Ship Breakers, India.  © Edward Burtynsky.

Henri Cartier Bresson Adam Marelli

Bankers Trust Company, New York.  © Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Fortunately for most of us, work happens everywhere.  It is an easy project to access, most of the time.  Unless you want to do a series on Customs Officers at an international airport, most working environments are willing, even excited to have someone interested in their craft.  So if you are looking for a new project, it might be waiting down the street.  The advantages of shooting people at work are endless.  Here are a few ideas to consider about a working environment that are harder to find on the street.

  • The subjects are too busy to be bother by a photographer.  This is a great time to be using a camera without a flash.  Using a flash, aside from casting an artificial light, will remind your subject they are being photographed.
  • When people get caught up in work, they let down their guard.  You will catch honest moments of frustration, excitement, and disappointment.  As I artist I know first hand, stuff breaks and that emotions comes out no matter whose around.
  • Your working schedule is predictable.  If you decide to shoot fisherman, they will always leave the same time everyday.  You can anticipate the lighting conditions and build time for the project more easily than random street shooting.
  • People like flattery.  When you take interest in someone’s work the feedback is usually fantastic.  They will make all kinds of special accommodations to help your shoot.
  • If you are looking to make the transition from amateur to professional, one way to build a portfolio is by taking on “Work Projects.”  For example if you like sports cars, go to a sports car mechanic.  This way, when you send your work to a car magazine you already have images that fit their profile.  Its a win/win.
  • The action at work is always changing.  The new setting, new characters, and unique activities will perk up your sense and the difference will be visible in the images.


So if you are looking for a new direction or just want to refresh your current direction, go to work.  And going to someone else’s job is more fun because you can leave whenever you feel like it.

Have a look at Felix as he wanders inside a glass studio to document the glass as it changes from lava to works of art.  View the full essay here on:

Felix’s Site

[ Marlene Ross by Felix Kunze ]

Felix Kunze Adam Marelli

Artist Marlene Rose in her Florida studio.  © Felix Kunze

Felix Kunze Adam Marelli

The first step involves contouring a special mixture of sand and clay (kept at exactly the right moisture). This is done with precision tools to achieve the shape that Marlene has envisioned.  © Felix Kunze

Felix Kunze Adam Marelli

The detailing is so exact and the sand so pliable, any loose sand is vacuumed out of the mold. The sand is part of the secret of Marlene's success. It has to be the exact consistency required to be malleable yet firm.  © Felix Kunze

Felix Kunze Adam Marelli

The sand is then 'baked' into place with a blowtorch, ready for the heavy glass to be poured without changing the shape of the mold.  © Felix Kunze

Felix Kunze Adam Marelli

The colorized mold is a beautiful preview of what the final piece will look like.  © Felix Kunze

After a week of cooling slowly to room temperature in the kiln, the finished piece emerges. It will be cleaned, polished, mounted and photographed before becoming part of the amazing collection of works that is Marlene Rose Glass.  © Felix Kunze



  One Response to “What Is My Next Project”

  1. Great article! You’ve inspired me to hunt down a new project.

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