Adam Marelli Photo http://www.adammarelliphoto.com Now Boarding Leica Air . . . Fri, 06 Mar 2015 19:39:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.6.1 A Recovering DSLR User: William Bright http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/03/a-recovering-dslr-user-william-bright/ http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/03/a-recovering-dslr-user-william-bright/#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2015 19:35:23 +0000 adam http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/?p=7236 [more...]]]> Recovering DSLR USER

William Bright

LEICA M240

 

Donghwasa - Daegu, South Korea. © William Bright

Donghwasa – Daegu, South Korea. © William Bright

Hello, my name is William Bright and I’m a recovering DSLR user. For the last twenty years, photography has been a big part of my identity, but recently I began to wonder why it was that I took fewer and fewer photos, despite having some really great equipment. And when did my smartphone become my camera of choice?

And then it hit me: I’d lost control. I had become disconnected with the process. Photography had devolved down to the quick snap. Gone were the days where I would consider exposure, aperture and tone — both photographically *or* emotionally. I was no longer thinking about light. And here I was ignoring my expensive tool with all its sophistication and using it like a point and shoot. It’s no wonder I set it down for my smartphone.

Donghwasa - Daegu, South Korea. © William Bright

Donghwasa – Daegu, South Korea. © William Bright

Mine may be one of the last generations to grow up with manual film cameras, a time when there were only so many shots per roll and every shot counted. And while we have replaced silver gelatin with megapixels, and thoughtful consideration for speed, we have also traded knowledge and experience for the endless cycle of shooting by LCD with a complete disregard for how composition, exposure, and light can affect a moment.

Donghwasa - Daegu, South Korea. © William Bright

Donghwasa – Daegu, South Korea. © William Bright

Last summer, as the date for my two-week summer trip to South Korea approached, I decided to get a new camera. And not just any camera; I had rigid requirements for what I would call the “ultimate travel camera.”  First and foremost, I wanted a full-frame digital camera with the best glass I could find, and after consulting with several photographers I respect, including our very own Adam Marelli, it was clear to me that the Leica M rangefinder system was the way to go.

Leica M240, Leica 50mm f/2.0 Summicron, Leica 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit, and Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 ZM © William Bright

Leica M240, Leica 50mm f/2.0 Summicron, Leica 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit, and Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 ZM © William Bright

MY KIT:

I selected the latest Leica M-P typ 240. For lenses I wanted a well rounded kit, so I picked up the 50mm Summilux F1.4, a used 90mm Elmarit F2,8 and a new Zeiss Biogon 21mm F2.8 with viewfinder. Along with a GorillaPod tripod with Ballhead X, a handful of neutral density filters, and a cable release, I was armed with a small, light, *and complete* portable system that could fit entirely into a nondescript WWII Gas Mask Bag — much like the A. Marelli x Slow Tools Bag — which I could comfortably (and discreetly) carry.

Other photographer friends of mine, the ones who hadn’t drunk the Kool-Aid, balked at the high cost of entry into a Leica system. I can understand that. But my counter argument was simply this: what good is a camera system you never use? I have three other cameras whose primary duty is to collect dust on my bookshelf. My counter argument to the nonbelievers was that I now had a full kit at a fraction of the weight of a competitor’s similar setup. When in the field, that’s important.

Drying Squid. Jeju Island, South Korea.  © William Bright

Drying Squid. Jeju Island, South Korea. © William Bright

MY EXPERIENCE IN THE FIELD:

The first thing I discovered about shooting with a Leica is that I felt much more in tune with the camera. It rode closer to my chest, comfortably slung diagonally across my body. It would recede into the back of my mind when walking and talking with a companion, but also remain substantial enough that I never felt like I’d left it behind.

Also, it’s true what they say! No one notices it! With its smaller profile and whisper silent shutter, people barely give it a second glance. Well almost, that is, save for the other photographers that I would encounter in the field. The intrepid souls sporting Nikons or Canons – particularly those with heavy 300-500mm lenses (are you carrying a lens or a transmission?) – would invariably cast envious glances my way.

Old Grandma in Daegu selling clothing. © William Bright

Old Grandma in Daegu selling clothing. © William Bright

German engineering has a reputation for precision, and in this instance it is well-earned. It’s a religion, and the Leica M is their prophet. In my hands it felt substantial without being bulky, with the mechanical switches snapping into place with such surety that you always knew you were set. The same goes for Leica and Zeiss’ lenses: every aperture change was heralded with a solid click, and focusing rings would glide at your finger’s slightest whim, yet stay put once you’ve found your spot.

Reading the Bible in Daegu, South Korea. © William Bright

Reading the Bible in Daegu, South Korea. © William Bright

Isn’t rangefinder focusing difficult with that tiny square? What about the lack of autofocus? I’ll address the first question: the answer is a simple NO. One of the reasons Leica has become the top  manufacturer in the world is because of its now legendary rangefinder. With it, I’m able to find a target at my desired distance and focus, even during night scenes with a minimum of fuss. As for autofocus, I won’t miss arguing with my lens on what *I* would like in focus, especially after I’ve recomposed my shot.  And most of the time I’m shooting with a wide enough depth of field that I can trust the hyperfocal distance scale on the top of my lens to know what will be in focus, so I never miss a shot. I relied on my knowledge of light and its relationship with shutter speeds and aperture, rather than let the camera show me what my results were. There weren’t fifty dots in the viewfinder to consider when focusing, or follow focus, or seven burst modes. It was focus, shutter, and aperture.

Bulguksa Temple, Gyeongju South Korea. © William Bright

Bulguksa Temple, Gyeongju South Korea. © William Bright

With this setup I feel a symbiotic relationship with my camera; I know my tool and how it works. I’m now able to let go, focus on my surroundings and find the composition I want to capture. At no point am I detached from my surroundings. Quite the contrary, in fact – I can tell an intimate story about every exposure I’ve taken.

Bulguksa Temple, Gyeongju South Korea.  © William Bright

Bulguksa Temple, Gyeongju South Korea. © William Bright

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what camera you use, so long as you’re out there capturing and sharing with the world. Find a tool that moves you, that you can control, and frees you up to capture your little moment and help it transcend into something that won’t simply be cropped into a tiny square on Instagram, but rather, something that you can print, mat, and frame behind glass on your wall.

Block Drugs Stores, New York, NY © William Bright

Block Drugs Stores, New York, NY © William Bright

Now, when someone comes to your home and asks about that photo, you’ll have a story to share. And it will come with an extra thousand words. For me, the system that makes this possible is Leica, and now I’m planning trips simply to photograph places I want to see for myself. Some might ask, what good is a camera if you’re not present in the moment? I would ask, what good is a moment if you’re not present at all?

Hades Ascending. The Devil's Churn, Cape Perpetua, Oregon © William Bright

Hades Ascending. The Devil’s Churn, Cape Perpetua, Oregon © William Bright

To see more of William Bright’s Work: https://www.flickr.com/photos/littlebill/ 

–William Bright

 

 

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Do what you Love: OeO Thomas Lykke & Anne-Marie Buemann http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/03/do-what-you-love-oeo-thomas-lykke-anne-marie-buemann/ http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/03/do-what-you-love-oeo-thomas-lykke-anne-marie-buemann/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 20:58:51 +0000 adam http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/?p=7177 [more...]]]> Do what you Love

OEO Thomas Lykke & Anne-Marie Buemann
BY ADAM MARELLI

 

Do what you Love OeO Thomas Lykke and Anne-Marie Buemann © Anders Hviid

Do what you Love OeO Thomas Lykke and Anne-Marie Buemann © Anders Hviid

01

Recently you finished a new showroom for the family run flooring company, Dinesen.  The space feels more like a home and less like a showroom.  Many people don’t think of floors as anything special because they are always under our feet.  Could you explain how you elevated flooring from simple materials to a complete sensory experience?

 

It is not like we are rainmakers or anything – we just have a desire to make a difference to the people we work with.
When you are in a certain trade you tend to get tunnel vision. You limit yourself to certain opportunities or it can be difficult to create a compelling universe that communicates your inner values and qualities.
Talking about the material – in this case wood, it is all about the context in which you use the material. So back to your question – we found it interesting and challenging to create a complete, full embracing universe using the Plank (floor), and in this case elevating the floor to become a whole universe…subtle, sensory, tactile and emotional – by doing this we have created an experience that on an emotional level communicates the values of a Dinesen floor and why a Dinesen floor is more than a floor you walk on. A Dinesen floor is a statement as a Leica is to the Leica connoisseur.

Dinesen Gallery  © Anders Hviid

Dinesen Gallery © Anders Hviid

02

Working with companies that have been passed from one generation to the next must be fascinating and challenging.  In the past, craftsmen used to rely solely on quality.  If it was “The Best,” someone would buy it.  But today, quality is only one part of a more complex picture of success.  Could you explain the facets of design which allow a tradition to survive?

 

It is an interesting question. I think that today the word quality has more layers to it than in the past – there is quality of the material, quality of skill, quality of authenticity, quality of communication, quality of aspiration etc..  Many layers that all have influence on the success of the product.

To highlight a few values – that are crucial for a tradition to survive:

  1. Communication
  2. Aura
  3. Authenticity
  4. Passion
  5. Relevance
  6. Evolution
  7. And it is about creating new, meaningful concepts that build on the legacy, with an inspired eye to the future and with a metropolitan feel to it instead of local – becoming aspirational to people.

As we are talking about craft we should treat it as so. Craft will never be about being a commodity – there are limitations to true craftsmanship in terms of production. So let’s stop thinking about making less expensive products that can be mass produced – that will never work for true crafts – in my personal beliefs it is more interesting to make less, but better and unique.

To quote Mies van der Rohe “Less is More.”

Dinesen Ballroom Dinesen © Anders Hviid

Dinesen Ballroom Dinesen © Anders Hviid

03

As the creative minds responsible for rethinking how a client will define themselves in the coming years, how do you find and select projects?

 

We meet our clients through our personal relations and we are recommended by people and clients via our network.

We get our next jobs through relations and we get picked for our passion, philosophy and different way of thinking, and for the experience we have gathered over the years. On top of this, we also get picked for our sincere interest in wanting to make a difference for the people we work with.

 

Wood sticks in celling and Wall of imperfection at Dinesen. @ Anders Hviid

Wood sticks in celling and Wall of imperfection at Dinesen. @ Anders Hviid

04

It must be very important to garner trust with your clients because most of them have relied on their businesses for generations.  In addition to working with a number of impressive European clients, you have several projects running in Asia.  Cross culturally, this is not always an easy jump.  How do you build trust with clients and what roles do you play for them?

 

I think when you travel you should have an open mind – you are interested, adventurous, curious, and pay respect to the country you visit. I think the key to Japan is to be patient, observant, open minded, passionate; to pay respect to others and to have some modesty.

Foil samples at House of HOSOO for “More Than Textile” concept. @ OEO

Foil samples at House of HOSOO for “More Than Textile” concept. @ OEO

05

Can you tell us a little bit about how Japan Handmade came into existence?  At one point you mentioned that the craftsmen in Kyoto wanted to expand outside of Japan, but there needed to be some changes in their approach.  What did you suggest and how has it evolved?

 

The 6 members of what became Japan Handmade all have a long history – all are very proud companies with long traditions. From the first meeting we had with them – we wanted them to be successful – again communication plays a big role in success on the global market, and also you need to have the right product mix that sits in an international context.

We created the brand collaborative that we named Japan Handmade and we shaped individual product universes for each of the craftsmen that helped evolve their trade – specially targeted at the global scene for art and design lovers. This means we challenged the original brief where the companies just wanted to take their heritage products and bring them to the international market.

Silver leafing for Nishijin textile production. @ OEO

Silver leafing for Nishijin textile production. @ OEO

06

Craftsmen are famous for their fierce competitiveness, secretive natures, and often jealous tempers.  In some cases, it has contributed to entire traditions collapsing.  But with Japan Handmade there is a very diverse group, working together internationally to support each other.  How was this able to happen?

 

First of all, they are all in different trades. Japan Handmade is today like one big happy family. We believe that united, you are stronger. The name Japan Handmade allows this collaboration, as all are equal – the result is much more powerful in communication and storytelling and relevance.

The members of Japan Handmade have become role models for a whole new generation of craftsmen and crafts companies all over Japan. I think that is the biggest achievement of all. They bring hope to the next generation.

Japan Handmade, called GoOn in Japan, has now become a part of the national school books as an example of crafts and tradition evolved to a modern context.

Nakagawa-san's Hand Planes © Oeo

Nakagawa-san’s Hand Planes © Oeo

07

Design and art are often thought of as excesses or luxuries.  But throughout history, all of our oldest relics are the things that civilizations have created.  To the non-believer, could you explain why you feel like design is an essential part of the human experience?

 

I guess that is what makes us humans – not robots and not animals.

Personally, without art, design, poetry etc. I would die. It is what makes me happy, feel alive and at peace. Design is like all other arts; a way of expression and it is a powerful tool of communication.

Kaikado sake cups prototypes designed by OEO Studio. @ OEO

Kaikado sake cup prototypes designed by OEO Studio. @ OEO

08

At the forefront of all of your projects is a hands on feel, where clients and customers interact with design.  What changes for people when they feel like they are part of the process?  And how can design gently shape our lives?

 

The best design comes out of a collaboration between the designer and the maker – we like to create design that communicates on its own. Design has to come naturally and it has to feel natural.

Objects collection in silver and Jindai-sugi wood designed by OEO Studio for Kaikado. @ OEO

Objects collection in silver and Jindai-sugi wood designed by OEO Studio for Kaikado. @ OEOKaikado Set © OeO

 

09

Rodin used to say, “What is made with time, time respects.”  In regards to the disposable lifestyles that emerged in the last fifty years…how do you feel that design can influence the way we make objects, spaces, and environments for the future?

 

The past shows us that good quality lasts – both in terms of material but also in solution. I hope that people will realize that the last 50 years of disposable lifestyle is not the way forward.

Ceramics in the making at the Asahiyaki workshop. Vases designed by OEO Studio. @OEO

Ceramics in the making at the Asahiyaki workshop. Vases designed by OEO Studio. @OEO

10

In the last few years, we have overlapped a bit in Japan.  The Japan Handmade project was just starting when I set out to create “Lost Ceremony.”  When we first met, it was like we already knew each other.  What parallels did you see in our approaches to looking at and working with Japanese craftsmen?

 

I think we came with the same approach, passion and respect – you used the camera – we used the pen.  I believe in synchronicity.

Ki-oke stool in Sawara and Jindai-sugi wood designed by OEO Studio for Nakagawa Mokkougei @OEO

Ki-oke stool in Sawara and Jindai-sugi wood designed by OEO Studio for Nakagawa Mokkougei @OEO

11

What is up next for the OEO team and when is our next drink together?

 

It is on our shelf of dream projects to do a hotel – a full embracing concept from the naming and smallest of details to the embracing experience you want the guest to feel and remember. And as for the drink – New York, Kyoto, Florence or perhaps Copenhagen ;)

To learn more about Oeo visit them at http://www.oeo.dk 

To see more of the Japanese craftsmen visit Japan Handmade: http://japan-handmade.com 

Thank You!

 

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It pays to be a winner | Robert Van Koesveld http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/02/it-pays-to-be-a-winner-robert-van-koesveld/ http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/02/it-pays-to-be-a-winner-robert-van-koesveld/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 21:14:03 +0000 adam http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/?p=7156 [more...]]]> It pays to be a Winner

Workshop Alumni Success

ROBERT VAN KOESVELD

 

Robert Van Koesveld winner of the Leica Akademie Australia 50/50 Contest

Robert Van Koesveld winner of the Leica Akademie Australia 50/50 Contest

What’s a workshop do for you

You do not have to look very far to find the world of photography workshops on the Internet.  Run by the very best and very worst photographers around the globe, they all make big promises, but who ever checks in to see if they were successful?  Today we will congratulate an Adam Marelli Workshop alumni who took the lessons he learned, applied them, and landed on the high side of victory, both personally and professionally.

© Robert Van Koesveld

© Robert Van Koesveld

Robert Van Koesveld

Last week, Robert won the Leica Akademie Australia’s 50/50 contest which carried with it a new Leica D-Lux Type 109.  Not a bad prize to take away.  Reviewing the submissions, it is no surprise that Robert won.  Why?  The picture carries a number of strengths that are tough to beat, especially in competitions….Here is a list, in no particular order.  You might want to review your images and see how many pictures you have that possess all of these elements simultaneously:

  1. Simplicity. Look at a small thumbnail of the photograph. It is amazingly simple and clear, which gives it the best chance of communicating clearly.  Too many images suffer from unnecessary clutter and are passed over because the viewer just can’t figure out what to look at.
  2. Action.  I could not say how many times I’ve written that the action in a photography is best set on a diagonal.  By using the static staircase, on a diagonal, it adds movement to the picture and enhances the flutter of the feet because one gesture echoes the other.
  3. Color.  The easiest way to approach a color image is to have either a cool background with a warm subject or a warm background with a cool subject.  In this case, the bulk of the image is cool (blue/green/grey) and the subject (the feet coming down the stairs) are warm.
  4. Proper Contrast.  The area of highest contrast will always pull the eye.  In simplified language, the lightest light, up against the darkest dark, will attract the eye.  If the subject is somewhere else, there will be problems.  But here Robert has the highest contrast in his subject.
  5. Location.  Photography is a medium that travels well.  But many pictures look like they could have been taken anywhere.  Here we get a sense of place without the obvious gimmicks of street signs, written language, or over the top local dress.
  6. Patience.  The one button you will never find on any camera is “Patience.”  Just from looking at this photograph, I have a sense of how it was made, even though I have not talked to Robert about it yet.
© Robert Van Koesveld

© Robert Van Koesveld

Patience
Robert is not my typical workshop attendee.  He lands on the more accomplished end of the photography spectrum because he runs his own photo tours, he has published photography books, and this is not the first award he has won.  But while we were in the Kyoto Workshop together, one thing he wanted to understand more fully was how do I visualize a picture, before it happens.  We spent time walking through locations, eyeing up potential shots.  The advantage of a workshop setting was that we could shoot, side by side, he could ask questions, make corrections and re-shoot immediately.  After five days together, he said he understood more clearly how to anticipate a shot.  Now, I don’t actually know if he took this shot before or after the workshop, but my guess is that it was after.  I could be putting my foot in my mouth with this one, but it seems to me that Robert spotted this image, without the feet coming down the stairs, and waited for it to happen.  What do you think?  I think Robert was able to add another tool into his photographic repertoire and the results are clear.  It pays to be a winner.

Congratulations again to Robert and we look forward to seeing you in a workshop soon…

Up Next Florence Workshop

  • Florence/Italy, 2 spaces left
  • Matera/Italy, 1 space left
  • Berlin/Germany
  • London/England
  • Prague/Czech Republic
  • Venice/Italy, SOLD OUT
  • Kyoto/Japan, SOLD OUT

 

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Dan Flavin: Pilgrimage to Light http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/02/dan-flavin-pilgrimage-to-light/ http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/02/dan-flavin-pilgrimage-to-light/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 22:54:50 +0000 adam http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/?p=7133 [more...]]]> Dan Flavin

A pilgrimage to light

DAN FLAVIN INSTITUTE

 

Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

Rarely discussed in the photography world, artist Dan Flavin did not wait for good light, he created it.  His minimalist light installations combine elements of architecture, sculpture, and early technology.  While photographers spend most of their lives chasing light, Flavin turned the tables on art when he took on light, not just as the subject of his work, but as the medium.

Untitled, 1976. Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

Untitled, 1976. Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

The Strip Light
Who in their right mind would step away from the office to visit a gallery filled with fluorescent lights?  It’s madness.  Strip lighting is known as the cheapest, legal way to light everything from airplane hangers to Walmart.  The greenish white lights are two steps shy of waterboarding and have been known to induce depression and suicidal thoughts in the minds of millions of office workers around the globe.  They should be the antithesis of art, so why would Dan Flavin choose them as his medium?

The glow of untitled (to Robert, Joe, and Michael) and untitled (to Jan and Ron Greenberg) Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

The glow of untitled (to Robert, Joe, and Michael) and untitled (to Jan and Ron Greenberg) Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

Does not play well with others
Artists are not known for being team players.  They are a temperamental lot, often fiercely independent, and highly critical of each other.  Art history is filled with challenging figures.  The saving grace is that many of the masters lived generations apart, because if they were all seated at the same dinner table, it might erupt into an all out war.  And while Flavin’s docile light installations might seem to be the closest interpretation of “American Zen,” these quiet pieces do not play well with others.

untitled (to Robert, Joe, and Michael) and untitled (to Jan and Ron Greenberg) Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

untitled (to Robert, Joe, and Michael) and untitled (to Jan and Ron Greenberg) Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

untitled (to Robert, Joe, and Michael) and untitled (to Jan and Ron Greenberg) Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

untitled (to Robert, Joe, and Michael) and untitled (to Jan and Ron Greenberg) Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

Why is that the case?  
Think back to the last time you were at a museum…as you walked from gallery to gallery, admiring the paintings of Goya, Velasquez, Rembrandt, and even modern painters like Pollack, De Kooning and Ellsworth Kelly, did you notice how they all hang very nicely together?  They come in different sizes, but they all look good with similar lighting.  One of the finest examples of a mixed collection to be found is at the Frick Museum here in New York.  In less than 100 meters, you can look at early Renaissance Bellini, turn the corner and see a 19th Century Ingres.  In spite of the tempers of these long dead artists, their work gets along nicely…but this is not the case with Flavin.  His makes different requirements on the architecture and to the viewer.

Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

untitled (in honor of Harold Joachim) 3, Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

Darkness over light
A repeated mantra in photography is “I want to find good light.”  This deceptive idea really speaks to finding good shadows and a touch of darkness.  Light on its own is of little value with out some darkness to balance the effect.  The permanent installation of Flavin’s work, in Bridgehampton New York, allows the viewer to see his work in a light where almost any other painting or sculpture would fail.  Flavin was aware that his work needed a dedicated space with little outside light, so he bought an old church to house his sculptures.  It allowed him to control the environment and create the ideal space for absorbing his installations.

untitled (in honor of Harold Joachim) 3, Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

untitled (in honor of Harold Joachim) 3, Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

Small Windows
Describing Flavin’s work in text is like trying explain the feeling of scuba diving to someone who has never seen the ocean.  No pile of adjectives will capture the sensation, which is why a trip to Dia is absolutely recommended.  But while the experience is something we must do for ourselves, the reflection on his work reveals an unique approach to art making that seems to be lost on photographers.  The environment where our work is shown is almost as important as the work itself.

His work defies photography.  It silently rewards anyone who makes the pilgrimage and teases those who only look at his work in print.  Every book on Flavin is different.  The way a camera sees is neither as consistent, nor as dynamic as the human eye.  A camera takes one aspect and freezes it into a single viewpoint.  But Flavin’s work is three dimensional.  It causes your eyes to shift as one color meets the next.  There are no pure colors and the human brain plays catch up as yellow lights give way to green.  The collective installation completely unsettles the way our brains and eyes work.

Detail of untitled (in honor of Harold Joachim) 3, Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

Detail of untitled (in honor of Harold Joachim) 3, Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

Awareness
Many artists talk about “bringing awareness” to the table.  They want us to notice things that interest them.  But do people like being led?  Rarely.  Flavin, on the other hand, created an environment where we are invited to a realm of exploration.  Each carefully designed space, lighting set up, and color palette was chosen because it changes how we see.  The installations change how we see color, how we determine forms, and how to deal with space…nothing is as it seems in Flavin’s world…as Jacque Cousteau would also discover.

untitled (in honor of Harold Joachim) 3, Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

untitled (in honor of Harold Joachim) 3, Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

The Cousteau Experiment
In the 1970’s, diver Jacques Cousteau made an observation when he cut his hand underwater.  In the absence of sunlight, we bleed green.  The ocean filters out the red light waves, leaving green, blue and ultimately black as we descend into the abyss.  When Cousteau looked down and saw green blood he was shocked and delighted.  It was a visual discovery about how we see.  He became aware that the colors we see in the ocean are enormously affected by the light that touches them.

The majority of Flavin’s work, and certainly the installation in Bridgehampton seems to focus on this idea.  The sculptures spill light on the surrounding architecture.  One of Flavin’s goals was to use light to dissolve the walls of a building.  It has another effect which touches the viewer, just like Cousteau.  Our flesh morphs from jaundice yellow to midnight blue.  We are a moving palette that reacts with Flavin’s work.  Each piece throws a color cast that silently shifts everything it touches.  And as we step out of his work and back into reality, we must patiently wait for the ghost images to fade from our eyes.

Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

Dan Flavin Institute © Adam Marelli

The Morality of Gray
Any painter can tell you that color is relative.  As much as engineers would love to create a perfectly neutral grey, white, black…they will never exist.  It is why I’ve nearly given up using gray cards and software color balance.  Our world is a complex field of shifting colors and once we let go of the fixed gray, the world becomes a much richer place.  The world of Flavin has infinitely more to offer a viewer than a gray card could hope to achieve.  Maybe analogous to life, color is always on the move.  It offers us a visual coordinate that will lead us down a path of exploration, but it makes no promises about where we will end up.  Along the way, we will have to make decisions on how we see and examine why we see things differently than the next person.  But if one of the roles of art is to bring awareness to who we are and what we do, than it should all be a welcome challenge.

To visit the Dan Flavin Institute: http://www.diaart.org/sites/main/danflavinartinstitute 

And I would like to thank Cadillac for providing our ATS Coupe for the excursion and to the homeless guy who stopped us and said “You look mack daddy in your big blue Caddy”  Nothing like random NYC Street encounters. 

Best-AM

 

 

 

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Photographer at Large: Marc Derydt http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/02/photographer-at-large-marc-derydt/ http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/02/photographer-at-large-marc-derydt/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 23:12:07 +0000 adam http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/?p=7095 [more...]]]> Photographer at Large

Marc Derydt

“A city like no other”

Barcelona SPAIN

Photographer at Large Marc Derydt. Barcelona, Spain

Photographer at Large Marc Derydt. Barcelona, Spain

Adam’s Note

Paris, Rome, Barcelona…the mere mention of these cities and people will immediately respond.  Our reaction to a city is intensely personal.  Maybe it is the history, the food or the people, but cities possess a magnetic force that we cannot resist.  By definition, cities are a mess of buildings, traffic jams, and human congestion built up over centuries of turmoil.  But there is something about the way a city makes us feel that allows us to forget all of the hassles.  From our favorite cafes, to the evening light, to the secret spots where you feel the excitement of discovery, cities are the eternal playground for photographers.  They fuel our drive to dig deeper into a culture and explore the ever changing landscape.

Our next Photographer at Large, Marc Derydt, starting working with me two years ago.  His goals were to improve his portraiture and connect his love of architecture with his love of travel.  A native of Belgium now living in Slovakia, Marc set his eyes on Barcelona, Spain.

Barcelona: A City Like No Other

 BY MARC DERYDT

I fell in love with Barcelona in November 2013 and have been going back regularly, trying to slowly build a portfolio of pictures showing the atmosphere of this unique city. Adam has helped me along the way and was kind enough to give me the opportunity of showing my work so far. I do not think that I have the portfolio I want yet, which will force me to go back a few more times. This goes to show that there is always a good side to a bad situation…

Carrer del Bisbe, Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

Carrer del Bisbe, Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

The goal with this short article is to tempt you to visit Barcelona and, assuming you will go, give you some practical advice for when you get there. As we are all passionate about photography, I will also say a little about my experience taking pictures.

Plaza Real Sunday morning. Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

Plaza Real Sunday morning. Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

Let’s perhaps start with that…
I have been in Barcelona with different types of gear, some of it very heavy. However, the best experience I have had so far was, without any doubt, with a Leica M and one lens (50mm). Each of us will have his or her opinion as to how much this would be attributable to the rangefinder system, but there is certainly something liberating about not having to choose among a bag full of cameras and lenses. I believe that we need to slow down to be able to catch those special moments, those that will make an impression on other people, and a “light” approach to equipment helps with this.

Using a film camera also helps one slow down and concentrate on the task at hand. It is a bit of a cumbersome process, but if only as an exercise, I’d say that it makes sense to buy a second-hand film camera and shoot a few rolls. This is the objective for the next trip.

Man with a Gun. Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

Man with a Gun. Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

I also found out that photography is not a team sport. Even with a very patient and understanding spouse, there is a real advantage in walking around alone. Probably because this helps us be more in the moment. Some good places for wandering around and taking pictures of people are the Cathedral (in and around), Plaza Real on a Sunday morning or Plaça de Catalunya.

There is a good photo store some 150 meters from Plaça de Catalunya, Casanova Foto, at 35 Ronda de la Universitat.

As to Barcelona, there is something special about the atmosphere there. Not sure whether it is about the people, the weather, the architecture or the diversity. It just needs to be experienced. Renting an apartment in the center is a good tip: one immediately feels more “local” than in a hotel.

The Apparition. Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

The Apparition. Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

Travel & Shooting Recommendations

Once there, I would recommend the following:

  • TOP 10.  You cannot go too wrong by looking at the top ten from Lonely Planet or some similar website. It is the top ten for a reason.
Conversation Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

Conversation Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

  • OLDEST CHURCH.  In addition to that list, I’d suggest seeing Sant Pau del Camp, in the Raval district, the oldest church in Spain and a place of magical tranquility.
Tranquility in the Cloister. Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

Tranquility in the Cloister. Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

  • BOOK IN ADVANCE, ARRIVE EARLY.  For the big attractions, buy your entries online and, at least for the Sagrada Familia, make sure to book the earliest entry in the morning. Getting in there first is a real treat.
  • TAPAS.  For tapas, try Orio on Carrer de Ferran or Ciutat Comtal on the Rambla de Catalunya. In the latter one, expect to have to wait. They do not take reservations and there usually is a waiting list. Well worth it though.
Museum of Modern Art. Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

Museum of Modern Art. Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

  •  BUY FIRST, SHOOT SECOND.  There are obviously a lot of tourists and nobody seems to have issues with pictures being taken. One exception is the Mercado de la Boqueria, where it is better to buy something (some fruits for instance) before starting to shoot.
The Encounter. Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

The Encounter. Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

  • ROOF.  Entry to the Cathedral is free at some times during the day. You only get access to the cloister and garden though. Better to pay the five or six euros and see the Cathedral itself. Getting up to the roof is also worth it.
  • BEACH.  Barcelona is a city with a sea front and walking down the Rambla, you get to the Rambla de Mar, which is a nice place for taking pictures of the sea or of the city in the evening.
Reflections. Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

Reflections, Maremagnum from La Rambla de Mar. Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

Maremagnum .  Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

Maremagnum . Barcelona, Spain © Marc Derydt

–Marc Derydt

See more of Marc’s work here:

Marc Derydt, on location during the Florence Workshop. © Adam Marelli

Marc Derydt, on location during the Florence Workshop. © Adam Marelli

 

 

 

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REVIEW Artisan & Artist Soft Camera Pouch http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/02/review-artisan-artist-soft-camera-pouch/ http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/02/review-artisan-artist-soft-camera-pouch/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 22:30:36 +0000 adam http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/?p=7084 [more...]]]> REVIEW

Artisan & Artist Soft Camera Pouch

Tokyo JAPAN

Artisan &Artist Soft  Camera Pouch © Adam Marelli

Artisan & Artist Soft Camera Pouch © Adam Marelli

Cushion in all the right places

A number of years ago, Japanese bag designer Artisan & Artist designed a small bag to cushion your camera when it had to be put in a carry on bag.  The bag was called the Rina Bag, named after the Japanese celebrity who wanted to carry a Leica in her purse.  But like many great ideas, it never took off.  Probably due to the imagery of a TV newscaster posing with her Leica, photographers could not get behind it.

Recently, Artisan & Artist went back to the drawing board.  They scrapped the old design, removed the zippers and made a small pouch designed to be thrown inside of a carry on, duffle bag, or any other piece of luggage.  It has enough cushion to keep the camera safe, without feeling like an inflated life preserver.  We made a video review of the Soft Camera Pouch below and hope you enjoy it.

Best-AM 

Front View: Artisan & Artist Soft Camera Pouch © Adam Marelli Side View: Artisan & Artist Soft Camera Pouch © Adam Marelli Three Quarter View: Artisan & Artist Soft Camera Pouch © Adam Marelli Open Pouch with Leica M6: Artisan & Artist Soft Camera Pouch © Adam Marelli Side Open View with Leica M6: Artisan & Artist Soft Camera Pouch © Adam Marelli Artisan & Artist Soft Camera Pouch © Adam Marelli ]]>
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When Style is a Gimmick http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/02/when-style-is-a-gimmick/ http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/02/when-style-is-a-gimmick/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 00:48:45 +0000 adam http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/?p=7044 [more...]]]> When Style is a Gimmick

Finding your Voice

A LESSON FROM ANDY WARHOL

 

This is what many regard as the first step in photography.  Tools are essential, but best to choose wisely and move on quickly.  © Adam Marelli

This is what many regard as the first step in photography. Tools are essential, but best to choose wisely and move on quickly. © Adam Marelli

Finding your Voice

When first buying a camera, possibly the single greatest aim of every photographer is to find their own style and voice.  This will be the mark that differentiates their work from the next person’s.  A recognizable style is worth its weight in gold.  If it is so essential and so easy to spot, why is it so hard to figure out a style and voice for your own photography?

This is how Andy Warhol saw himself, a bit of humor and a touch of absurdity.

This is how Andy Warhol saw himself, a bit of humor and a touch of absurdity.

The Missing Element

This question about style and voice has bothered me for the last few years…but not for the reasons you might expect.  All over the Internet there are workshops, programs, and schools all claiming they can help you discover your own style.  In my opinion, they are mostly b*llsh*t.  Why?  Because the people who come out of the programs don’t find what they are looking for…their own real voice or style.

My voice in art and photography came naturally over the course of twenty years.  There was no rush for it to develop; as a 12 year old, style did not matter as I faithfully copied Michelangelo drawings.  I was in the learning phase.  As I matured, passed through university, construction, zen training, then stepped into being a small business owner with a studio, my voice evolved and the style came with it.  For the most part, I never needed to articulate how it developed because it happened the same way a child learns to walk…by falling endlessly until it eventually just came naturally.

But for someone who is new to photography, regardless of age, I wanted to compress this process so it would not take twenty years.  And while this article may not answer all of your questions, it will let you know what to work on and more importantly, if the people you go to for help know what they are talking about.  You will be a smarter, better positioned photographer than before.

Style without Point of view equals Gimmick.  © Adam Marelli

Style without Point of View equals Gimmick. © Adam Marelli

Keep this simple phrase in mind:

“Style without a point of view is just a gimmick.”

Andy Warhol in his factory.  © Phaidon Press

Andy Warhol in his factory. © Phaidon Press

Case Study: Andy Warhol

Why should a photographer learn about Andy Warhol?  He applied straightforward style to his unique point of view to become an artist who was as loved as much as he was hated.  Oh, and he amassed a fortune of about $600 million by the time of his death, so the old adage that artists are starving does not apply here.  Across the board, whether we love or hate Andy, he demonstrated some useful things we can apply today.

32 Campbell's Soup Cans © Andy Warhol

32 Campbell’s Soup Cans © Andy Warhol

Born into an Icon

What do we know Andy Warhol for, his Campbell’s Soup Cans, Gold Marilyn, the Factory, his silkscreens, or his Polaroid portraits?  He probably produced more iconic work than any other artist of the 20th century.  That doesn’t mean it was all good, just iconic.  Whether you think it’s good or bad, there is a lot to be learned from his process.  There is an endless portfolio we could examine with Warhol, so let’s just pick one part…his portraits, and see what they offer us.

(side note: Understanding someone in retrospect is much easier than forming your own voice…that is a given, but let’s see what happens if we follow Andy’s development.)

Saint Paul by Lippo Memmi

Saint Paul by Lippo Memmi

Church with Julia

Andy Warhol grew up with the church.  His mother, Julia, took him to mass and vespers almost eight hours a week.  As a young child, battling with St. Vitus Dance, a disease of the nervous system, he spent years looking at the gold-leafed Saints in his orthodox church in Pennsylvania.  The medieval portraiture of the saints was simple…a single figure on a gold background.  Surely millions of people have looked at this style of portraiture since the 11th century.  But Andy took that style, that aesthetic, and applied it to a different field of art, celebrity portraiture.

Andy Warhol's signed photography of Shirlie Temple

Andy Warhol’s signed photography of Shirlie Temple

Sick from School

Andy’s disease caused him to shake uncontrollably.  His mother decided to pull him out of school to avoid ridicule.  At home, he spent huge tracts of time alone.  One of his companions was a signed picture of Shirley Temple.  That picture is still at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.  Over her signature, the paper is indented.  Andy traced it over and over again.  He repeated Shirley Temple’s signature with a loving devotion that rivalled his mother’s dedication to the church.  That picture transformed itself from a photograph into an icon.  This influence resurfaced years later when Andy made “Gold Marilyn”, which hangs at the Museum of Modern Art here in New York City.

Gold Marilyn by Andy Warhol

Gold Marilyn by Andy Warhol

Gold Marilyn

If we peel back the clock of Andy’s life it becomes easier to see the thought progression:

  • 1st Influence: Christian Iconostases, for their graphic simplicity and conceptual devotion.
  • 2nd Influence: Shirley Temple, a demi-god of a different kind, we can look at her more like a saint in the young mind of Andy.
  • Point of View:  Andy viewed celebrity much in the way that Christianity looked at saints.  Celebrity, in his estimation, was going to become equal in value to religious figures.  And in many ways he was right.
Style and Point of View equal your voice.

Style and Point of View equal your voice.

Now before you go running off with the idea that finding your voice is some sort of mathematical formula…hold on there.  There is no formula for art or photography, but there are pieces of the puzzle that are essential.

Style without Point of view equals Gimmick.  © Adam Marelli

Style without Point of View equals Gimmick. © Adam Marelli

Remember, “Style without a point of view is just a gimmick.”

One of the many millions of HDR pictures on the internet.

One of the many millions of HDR pictures on the internet.

Your Voice and the Charlatan

If you want to develop your own voice, you might want to discover what it’s made of.  Do you have a style?  Do you have a point of view?  Do those two components exist in your pictures?  If not, maybe it is time to sit down and examine what makes you take pictures.  There is not a program in the world, by any famous institution or photographer, that will gift you a style.  You are going to have to figure this out for yourself.  But you can work with someone throughout the process.  They will keep you honest and on target if they are a good mentor.

I don’t know how many people I have met who think they have style.  They say, “Sure I have style…my style is contrasty street photography.”  Sorry pal, that is an aesthetic (contrasty) and a genre (street photography.)

This is what happens when landscapes are tackled by talented, trained artists.  The effect is stunning and makes HDR look like the worst plastic surgery gone wrong. Indian Spear Fishing by Albert Bierstadt

This is what happens when landscapes are tackled by talented, trained artists. The effect is stunning and makes HDR look like the worst plastic surgery gone wrong. Indian Spear Fishing by Albert Bierstadt

And Beirstadt's success as a landscape painter was not a fluke.  Its not as if he got it right once and could never do it again.  This is one of the many advantages of mixing talent, ambition, and training.  The Rocky Mountain Landers Peak by Albert Beirstadt

And Bierstadt’s success as a landscape painter was not a fluke. It’s not as if he got it right once and could never do it again. This is one of the many advantages of mixing talent, ambition, and training. The Rocky Mountain Landers Peak by Albert Bierstadt

Or another one of the favorite gimmicks that I hear about… “I use HDR to evoke memories.”  HDR is a tool (and a boring one at that) and “…to evoke memories” (that is poetry speak for “remind you of stuff”)  This is not a point of view.  Don’t let the successes of other people mislead you.  In fact, don’t follow anything I say unless you try it out for yourself.

Andy Warhol as a young boy...they art world had no idea what hit them.

Andy Warhol as a young boy…the art world had no idea what hit it.

Conclusion

We are all individuals, with unique points of view.  In fact, the combination of heritage, experience, and individuality that you possess is  impossible to duplicate.  Which means, you do have a point of view even if it has not yet been translated into words or images.  And probably one that could be useful to someone else on this planet.  All it needs is a little reflection, a touch of coaching, and a burning desire to be heard.

It does not need to be some big, scary, intimidating force.  Look at Andy Warhol.  He was a slight, soft spoken guy who looked as if a rain storm might wash him away.  But through his style and his point of view, he gave the macho art world of Picasso and Pollack a good square kick in the nuts.  One that they are still doubled over from, fifty years later.  Now time for you to step into the limelight…off you go.

If you would like the next article delivered to your inbox, we added a subscribe feature on the left side bar…sign up, so you don’t miss a thing.

Sign up to get the next article in your inbox. (on the upper left of the page)

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Photographer Interview Adam Marelli: Answers Revealed http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/02/photographer-interview-adam-marelli/ http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/02/photographer-interview-adam-marelli/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 21:08:27 +0000 adam http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/?p=7038 [more...]]]> Interview: Adam Marelli on Dear Susan

Answers Revealed

BY PASCAL JAPPY

Interview with Adam Marelli on Dear Susan by Pascal Jappy

Interview with Adam Marelli on Dear Susan by Pascal Jappy

Adam’s Note

Based in France, Dear Susan is a collective that looks at the creative side of photography.  They named themselves after the critic and photography writer, Susan Sontag.  They mix a range of essays, interviews, and travel pieces so that your next sojourn abroad might be a little more exciting and fulfilling.  Last week, one of its founders, Pascal Jappy, arranged to interview me for their site.  It was a refreshing conversation.  Jappy did his homework, had engaging questions, and avoided many of the cliches that come up in photographer interviews.  Read the whole piece here…

Adam Marelli Instagram Feed © Adam Marelli

Adam Marelli Instagram Feed © Adam Marelli

Join the Adventures
And if you would like to see more of the images we discussed, you can follow me on my instagram account here: adammarelli

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Warm Weather Workshop: How to talk to Strangers http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/01/warm-weather-workshop-how-to-talk-to-strangers/ http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/01/warm-weather-workshop-how-to-talk-to-strangers/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 20:18:37 +0000 adam http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/?p=6998 [more...]]]> How to talk to Strangers Workshop

Adam Marelli x Leica Miami

MARCH 6-8, 2015

 

Adam Marelli x Leica Store Miami "How to talk to Strangers Workshop" © Adam Marelli

Adam Marelli x Leica Store Miami “How to talk to Strangers Workshop” © Adam Marelli

The Myths

There are as many different ways to photograph strangers as there are ways to pick up a date.  But the “Smash and Grab” approach of some street photographers is about as successful as clubbing your date and dragging them back to your cave.  Not to mention the fact that jamming a camera in someone’s face leads to pictures that all look the same.  And if the goal is to produce “Deer in Headlights” portraits, then I wish you the best of luck.

How to talk to strangers workshop. Varanasi, India © Adam Marelli

How to talk to Strangers Workshop. Varanasi, India © Adam Marelli

If you don’t want to harass your way to a set of pictures, then I’d like to share a number of techniques for photographing anywhere in the world, with confidence.  It does not matter what language you speak, who you shoot for, or if your photography is just for fun, there are a number of useful approaches I use to make pictures at home and around the globe.

How to talk to strangers workshop. Kanyakumari, India © Adam Marelli

How to talk to Strangers Workshop. Kanyakumari, India © Adam Marelli

These approaches are not only easy to do, but they have converted themselves into commissions, international collaborations, and invitations to photograph inside of places that say “No Photography Allowed.”  Join me next month in Miami to learn “How to talk to Strangers” and how you can gain access to worlds that are closed off to everyone else.  In the end, you will have more fun shooting, create unique bodies of work, and make friends in the most unlikely places.

How to talk to strangers workshop. Haridwar, India © Adam Marelli

How to talk to Strangers Workshop. Haridwar, India © Adam Marelli

Workshop Description

Do you wish you could walk up to anyone on the street and take an intimate portrait – one that connects on a human level? Do you look at photographs and wonder how the photographer was able to get so close and comfortable with the subject?

How to talk to strangers workshop. Chiang Mai Monks © Adam Marelli

How to talk to Strangers Workshop. Chiang Mai Monks © Adam Marelli

And does the craze of street photographers sneaking up on people or jamming cameras in their faces seem like complete nonsense? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

How to talk to strangers workshop. Matera, Italy © Adam Marelli

How to talk to Strangers Workshop. Matera, Italy © Adam Marelli

Whether it’s street photography or environmental portraiture, there is an art to photographing strangers. Join artist, photographer and explorer Adam Marelli as he shares stories from his travels around the globe and teaches you techniques that will allow you to take pictures anywhere in the world with confidence and style. He believes that when you take a genuine interest in a perfect stranger, they are often happy to welcome you into their world, even if it’s only for 1/500th of a second.

2 How to talk to strangers workshop.  Kyoto, Japan © Adam Marelli 1 How to talk to Strangers Workshop. Keijiro Miyanishi, Japan © Adam Marelli 6 How to talk to strangers workshop. Chiang Mai, Thailand © Adam Marelli 3 How to talk to strangers workshop. Maizuru, Japan © Adam Marelli

SIGN UP

More details and sign up through Leica Miami (Please click the link to join)

“How to talk to Strangers Workshop” Adam Marelli x Leica Store Miami

See you in Miami,

–AM

 

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Photographer at Large: Rammy Narula http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/01/photographer-at-large-rammy-narula/ http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2015/01/photographer-at-large-rammy-narula/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 18:30:48 +0000 adam http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/?p=6982 [more...]]]> Photographer at Large: Rammy Narula

“Finding Balance”

BANGKOK/THAILAND

 

Finding Balance, Chiang Mai/Thailand @ Rammy Narula

Finding Balance, Chiang Mai/Thailand @ Rammy Narula

Adam’s Note

Rammy and I met a few years ago in Bangkok.  At the time, he was going through a rough patch personally.  Photography was more than a creative outlet, it was his release from life.  What struck me about Rammy was his willingness to work and his self reflection.   Many photographers are content making a bunch of snaps without really examining why they take pictures.  Not Rammy.  After a year of taking images, his pictures were selected by National Geographic and he was already making a name for himself within the Thai photography community.  But he wanted to broaden his skill set and find a deeper meaning in his work.  This introspection is admirable.  Socrates would have respected Rammy for his willingness to live an examined life.  It was for this reason that Rammy was invited to be a contributing writer for the site because I believe that everyone has the ability to find their creative voice.

Photographer at Large © Rammy Narula

Photographer at Large © Rammy Narula

Finding Balance

by RAMMY NARULA

When I was invited by Adam Marelli to write about my experiences on life and with photography, I felt humbled. It was a chance to reflect on how far I’ve come with photography; discussing how it’s helped me to evolve and be able to share the experience of what I have learned gave me a great thrill. I got down to writing my thoughts out and couldn’t wait to put them together in what has become this short blog. The first of many on the subject, I hope.

Let me start by saying I recently went a few months without taking any pictures. It probably sounds like the total opposite of what you would expect to hear from a photographer, but I believe the lack of balance in my life, born out of my obsession with photography, was at the root of this development. Read on and hopefully you will understand why.

Photographer at Large © Rammy Narula

Photographer at Large © Rammy Narula

When my life and mental health were at their lowest, it was my brother who suggested that perhaps photography could be the healing mechanism I needed to take me away from my troubles and find a better balance. My brother, a camera fanatic among other things, handed me a camera. It could not have worked out better. I transformed from a guy with no passion and no focus into one obsessed with developing a new found talent. I would spend hours a day on the street and wanted to travel and explore other cities. I made a list of places I wanted to visit to take photos and created travel plans that covered spans of 6-12 months at a time. Whenever I could travel, I did. I would pack two cameras, a lot of batteries, chargers, SD cards, and sometimes a tripod. My camera became a part of me, almost a third eye, if you will.

It also helped me make an impression on a woman I was dating at the time. She was very much into photography, and the fact that she thought she was a better photographer gave me even more motivation.  I’m happy to report that she’s now my wife and I owe much of it to my interest in photography. Life felt different in a good way and all the little elements started falling into place. I had my first small exhibition last year and followed that up with a bigger event in which I sold prints – a personal milestone and a proud moment.

Photographer at Large © Rammy Narula

Photographer at Large © Rammy Narula

On the back of those accomplishments, I planned and thought about what else I could do to build on this platform. I wanted to do more as quickly as I could.

Things were looking pretty good until one day a sensation hit me like a brick. The feeling that I had become too preoccupied with photography. You see, all of the above happened in such a short span of time that my health, family relationships, work, almost all of the things that ironically drove me into photography in the first place, began to suffer because I was not giving them enough time.

Photographer at Large © Rammy Narula

Photographer at Large © Rammy Narula

I caught myself one day in early September thinking, “Hey! This wasn’t why I started taking pictures!” I wanted it to lead me out of a hole, not right into another one where my obsession could take over.

At that moment my passion for photography felt like it had come full circle. Like hitting a low right after hitting a high. I lost some of my thirst to take pictures, stopped traveling, and shifted my concentration back to the things I felt were being affected while thinking hard about how I would like to come out on the other side. I wanted to reshape my life once more, set some new goals, and bring photography back when there would better stability all around – something I had envisioned I would do when I began on this journey, but then seemingly went off the rails. Before I knew it, a few months had lapsed and my camera was collecting dust.

Photographer at Large © Rammy Narula

Photographer at Large © Rammy Narula

Lucky for me that break didn’t last too long, and a few weeks ago I finally picked up my camera again. I felt more relaxed. I believe the time off had allowed me to reflect and develop a renewed sense of determination to be involved with photography in such a way that everything else that is important to me can grow with it.

I can’t say I have the perfect formula so I won’t expand on the details of how I plan to make this sustainable, but I will say that I think life is ultimately about finding a balance that gives you peace of mind. When something starts to hurt, you have to recognize that a change may be needed.

Photographer at Large © Rammy Narula

Photographer at Large © Rammy Narula

Admittedly, there is still a strong ambition to achieve tangible results by producing more complete bodies of work, and I will have to tread carefully to avoid the same trap, but I’d like to think it will all be worth it. I’ve begun working on plans for the next year, keeping the overall lifestyle balance I now demand of myself in focus, building up confidence that I am now walking on more stable ground.

Here’s to hoping this is not the last time I am asked to write about life and photography, because I will surely have more to say on this subject and how it works out for me over time; giving me an additional channel with which to express myself and share my experiences along with my photographs.

Cheers!

-Rammy Narula

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