Adam Marelli Photo Now Boarding Leica Air . . . Mon, 14 Sep 2015 21:06:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hidden Churches of Matera Mon, 14 Sep 2015 21:06:06 +0000 adam [more...]]]> Hidden Churches

Le Chiese Rupestri

M A T E R A  /  I T A L Y

From the valley the churches are almost invisible.  Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

From the valley the churches are almost invisible. Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

Escape from the Ottoman Empire

What would the major religions of the world be if they were not at odds with each other?  We might not recognize them if all of a sudden they decided to get along.  It is an endless cycle of “My gods are better than your gods.”  Evidence of this exchange can be seen all over the world.  From the converted interiors of Hagia Sophia to the Buddhas which replaced the Hindu Shiva-Lingas of Ankor Wat, architecture can be repurposed to conform to opposing beliefs.  Its really quite extraordinary.

The rough interior columns of the churches.  Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

The rough interior columns of the churches. Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

Frescos inside of the churches retained their color well over the years.  The rough interior columns of the churches.  Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

Frescos inside of the churches retained their color well over the years. The rough interior columns of the churches. Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

In the wake of centuries of intolerance lies a history of diaspora architecture where small groups can gather in refuge.  In the 12th century, Byzantine monks were chased out of Turkey.  Keeping with the spirit of religious persecution, the Ottomans decide to make life difficult for the monks.  Standard approaches were employed to convert the monks.  They were offered conversion or execution.  Instead of entering a bloody and most likely fruitless war, the monks migrated north.  A group of monks settled in the quiet valley in Southern Italy.

The column dividing two sections is covered in hand carved crosses from the monks.  Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

The column dividing two sections is covered in hand carved crosses from the monks. Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

A detail of the crosses carved in stone.  Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

A detail of the crosses carved in stone. Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

They found new homes in a sheltered valley.  Scattered across Matera are natural caves.  Formed from loosely packed limestone, they offer shelter from the elements and are soft enough that they could be enlarged with only hand tools.  Unlike the facade of Petra in Jordan, these smaller churches were not designed to make a statement.  In fact, the lower profile they were in appearance the better.

Expert Renato Favilli leads the workshop through the details of the churches.  A detail of the crosses carved in stone.  Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

Expert Renato Favilli leads the workshop through the details of the churches. A detail of the crosses carved in stone. Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

It appears that even the Byzantine Christ had a love of pasta, check out that belly.  Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

It appears that even the Byzantine Christ had a love of pasta, check out that belly. Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

These enclaves ranged in size from a few meters to a cave large enough to park small truck.  The monks, eager to make peace with the locals exchanged education for the chance to live freely.  They were permitted to use some of the caves for religious ceremonies.  Over the years the caves were enlarged, decorated, and carved into small churches, called in Italian Le Chiese Rupestri.

The deepest cross carving we could find, though we never agreed on how many masses it took to carve that deep.  Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

The deepest cross carving we could find, though we never agreed on how many masses it took to carve that deep. Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

If there were ever churches that embodied the Japanese sense of Wabi-Sabi, or the art of the imperfect, these churches would be it.  They are humble in design and finish.  Every angle is rounded and there is not a straight column in any of the 200+ churches.  Unlike the more notable facades of The Pantheon, St. Peters or the many duomos from Milan to Palermo, these churches might be missed at first.  In fact they were not designed to stand out, but to blend in.

Fresco detail. Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

Fresco detail. Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

Once inside they reveal a quiet and solitude that rival any of the great churches of Europe.  It is a complete misunderstanding that greatness in architecture can only be achieved with scale and money.  Great architecture creates atmosphere, everything else is secondary.  Their walls still collect water from the mountain side, which gives them the distinct damp smell of stone.  The frescos which adorn some of the walls have remained in amazingly good condition considering they are exposed to the weather all year round.

Even in the full light of the morning, the light inside of the churches is beautiful.  Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

Even in the full light of the morning, the light inside of the churches is beautiful. Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

This May, our Matera Workshop was led into the caves with local expert Renato Favilli.  An economist by education and profession, he loves history and particularly Le Chiese Rupestri.  He took us through the many details of the churches.  One that was quite compelling were tiny crosses which were carved in the wall.  Resembling the graffiti carvings often found on antiquities, there were totally consistent.  Renato explained that the crosses were carved and re-carved at every mass.  The deeper the carving the more masses it celebrates.  It was a small touch of humanity that made everyone feel more connected to the space.  Tracing our fingers over each carving we all made guesses on how long it would have taken to make the very deep crosses.  As you can imagine we never agreed on an answer.  Maybe there is something about religion that invites us to debate endlessly.

Even though Renato spoke excellent english, with hand gestures like this, who needs words?   Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

Even though Renato spoke excellent english, with hand gestures like this, who needs words? Le Chiese Rupestri @ Adam Marelli

As we climbed up the hillside the silence of the cave was replaced by chime of cow bells.  We were off to meet the legendary cheese maker Gaetano Scarilli whose cows graze in the valley around the churches.  It is a unique convergence of centuries old architecture and equally old traditions of cheese making. But more on that story later in the week.

Master cheese maker Gaetano Scarilli © Adam Marelli

Master cheese maker Gaetano Scarilli © Adam Marelli

The Podolica cows of Matera.  Quite possibly the happiest cows in the world.  © Adam Marelli

The Podolica cows of Matera. Quite possibly the happiest cows in the world. © Adam Marelli

How to visit

Fortunately we will be back in Matera next May for a workshop and the opportunity to explore more of the history that remains hidden in plain sight. If you would like to visit the churches on your own, Renato Favalli can be reached through his email ( or Trip Advisor page.

If you are interested in joining us for the Matera Workshop next year May 13-15, 2016 you can register at 

Leica Camera from Photo Village

A special thanks to the gentlemen at Photo Village for the Leica M240 and the 35mm f/2.0 Summicron used in this shoot.




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NEWS: Digital Photography School by Adam Marelli Tue, 08 Sep 2015 19:12:06 +0000 adam [more...]]]> NEWS: Digital Photography School by Adam Marelli
Digital Photography School Figure to Ground by Adam Marelli

Digital Photography School Figure to Ground by Adam Marelli

In the ever expanding world of online teaching, Digital Photography School just published my first article on Figure to Ground.  For many of you on this site, the concept is not new.  Figure to Ground is about as essential as remembering to take the lens cap off of your rangefinder.  So for anyone who missed the article, give it a look, send it to a friend and as a social media thank you…please leave a  comment at the end.  This way we know that you enjoyed it.  Thank you in advance.


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In search of Cartier-Bresson in Basilicata Tue, 25 Aug 2015 20:36:27 +0000 adam [more...]]]> In search of Cartier-Bresson in Basilicata
ITALY. Basilicata. Pisticci. 1951. (original caption)

ITALY. Basilicata. Pisticci. 1951. (original caption)

Four years ago, we visited the small city of Matera in southern Italy.  It was just after Christmas and the hotel where we stayed was barely at fifty percent capacity.  All of the other visitors were Italian.  It had the feel of being on the outskirts, possibly forgotten in comparison to the other Italian hot-spots.  But that was exactly why we wanted to visit Matera.  Out of curiosity, I asked my Italian teacher what he thought of going to Matera for a week.  He said, “A WEEK?! For what? I’d go for a maximum of 2 days, there is nothing to do there.”

Cartier Bresson in Basilicata from Magnum Photo

Cartier Bresson in Basilicata from Magnum Photo

Against all sense and advice, we went and loved it.  My grandmother was born in Ferrandina only twenty minutes from Matera, so maybe the city is in my blood, but it is an extraordinary place.  Unique in its architecture, food, and most of all the people.  I’ve made so many amazing friends there, I could not imagine life without Matera.  Fast forward four years and the city was awarded Unesco European Cultural Capital for 2019, there are now over twenty hotels when there used to be only two (about a decade ago), and the sassi are slowly coming to life again.  While many people are strictly focused on Cuba as a before and after, there are still some major treasures to be found in Europe.

Cartier Bresson in Basilicata from Magnum Photo

Cartier Bresson in Matera, Basilicata from Magnum Photo

While I was there, on my first trip, I was reading Assouline’s biography of Cartier-Bresson.  HCB took a few trips through the region of Basilicata in the 1950′s and 1970′s.  There were a few images from his series that stood out in my mind.  One of them was of an odd set of stairs and an ecstatic little girl running up to his lens.  Maybe it is my background in construction that led me to the stair cases, but one day I found the exact stairs.  Magnum Photo credits the picture as being taken in Pisticci.  But this is not true, not that I care much about the caption.  Magnum has millions of photos and far be it from me to start offering online corrections.  I find it more compelling just to make the mini-discovery on my own by heading out for a walk with a camera.

Matera, Italy © Adam Marelli

Matera, Italy © Adam Marelli

On a recent trip back, I wanted to take a photograph before the place changed.

After World War II many of the families were forcibly moved out of the sassi (what is not the historical center.)  By the 1970′s the sassi were all but abandoned.  So the little girl in the picture could still be alive, but I have not found her yet. That will be part 2 of the saga.

If you like Cartier Bresson and have not read this book, Id highly recommend it. Henri Cartier Bresson by Pierre Assouline

If you like Cartier Bresson and have not read this book, Id highly recommend it. Henri Cartier Bresson by Pierre Assouline.

Do you have any before and after pictures that you have discovered while traveling?  Tell us about it below…




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Cast your votes: SXSW Panel Picker 2016 Mon, 17 Aug 2015 18:16:15 +0000 adam [more...]]]> Fear and Creativity

SXSW Panel Picker 2016

Fear the other four letter word. SXSW panel picker © Adam Marelli

Fear: The other four letter word. SXSW panel picker © Adam Marelli

Get your ideas off the ground

For the last three years, I’ve had the good fortune to speak at SXSW.  While many think SXSW is just a music conference and a reason to drink too much in the Austin sun, SXSW is a great resource for growing entrepreneurs and photographers.  Remember, starting in photography is as much of a business as it is a creative path.  One without the other will only lead to frustration.

My aim as a speaker is to give creatives the tools and confidence to succeed.  How do I do this?  By sharing the details of my path as an artist.  When I was coming up as an artist, there were no resources like this.  Everything was trial and error.  That experience taught me a lot of lessons, but learning the “hard way” takes a long time.  I enjoy offering a group of creatives my stories, so that we can save the hardships and get to the fun stuff: S U C C E S S

The road to creativity can be daunting.  Somedays it looks like a wide open highway and other days it looks like a train tunnel that just collapsed in front of you.  Managing the ups and downs of a new business is easier when you have friends who can guide you along the way.

Whether you will be in Austin Texas for SXSW or just watching the videos online, the panel picker allows you to select who you would like to see shaping the voices of the future.  Cast your votes, share it with a young artist, or a caring (but probably overbearing parent) worried that their artist child will end up destitute.

As I used to tell my “caring father” when he wondered how I would make money:  ”If you are the best at what you do, someone will pay you for it.”

Submit your vote today…I graciously thank you again for this opportunity.


Watch last years talk below.



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Interview: Moushumee Jha “The Insider” Tue, 11 Aug 2015 14:24:32 +0000 adam [more...]]]> Interview: Moushumee Jha

“The Insider”


The Insider @ Moushumee Jha

The Insider @ Moushumee Jha


Just to give the readers a bit of background, we met through Art Photo Feature and the “Finding Light” competition …Instantly I noticed your sensitivity to light, but that is just the beginning.  Could you tell us more about the photography you make and what sets it apart?

It’s been an honour and privilege to come in contact with you thru the Art Photo Feature forum. You are absolutely correct in noticing my sensitivity to light.

Over the years, I’ve worked as an actress in theatre, stage, TV artist and have even worked in a few feature films (Assamese language). As such, the vocabulary and structure of black and white films, the directors’ instructions to “hold the light” and the nuances of using the play of light and shadow has stayed with me as I moved into photography.

In some sense, my images are my stage, my subjects are the artists on this stage and I try to find/tell their stories using light to create my show through my pictures.

This would explain my preference for black and white, use of light and shadows, patterns and reflections in my photography.

"The Insider" © Moushumee Jha

“The Insider” © Moushumee Jha


In the last decade, the combination of digital photography and the Internet have led to an explosion of pictures being taken.  It seems many people feel like they have a creative eye.  And it has also allowed  photographs to be more than pictures “of places” but “pictures from places.”  Could you speak about being a photographer from India and if that matters to you?

As digital photography and certainly mobile phone cameras have become cheaper and widespread, we have certainly seen that more talent is being discovered, showcased and recognized than ever before. Social media platforms have been a great enabler in the democratization too. It has not only allowed people to publish more and consume more, but also share more and learn from each other.

I don’t believe that everyone who is creating, publishing, sharing pictures is necessarily talented. But I do believe that if someone is talented, the new tools and the medium makes it much easier for someone to be discovered. It is much harder to miss talent.

What is also happening is that the new talent is looking at the world around them as “insiders”. They are very comfortable with the scenes, the context, the stories, the culture and the nuances and they are bringing forward a perspective that an external documentation could never capture. Perhaps this is what you are referring to as “being a photographer from India”.

I will give you an example. As an Indian, and a resident of Delhi, the by-lanes of Jama Masjid area are not new to me. I am familiar with the people, the culture, the rhythm of the place. I am also familiar to the people who live and work there. So when I go inside an old Haveli, drawn by a dim light, it is not out of place at all. This act allowed me to discover a group of friends relaxing after a day’s work and playing “Carrom” which became the prize winning entry for the APF forum competition.

Similarly, as a daughter of Assam, when I visited Majuli, the largest river island in the world, the obvious did not inspire me unlike the other photographers who get fascinated by the monuments, the dances, the culture. I found it fascinating to understand the life of young boys, brought to Majuli to train as monks.

I think it is a big advantage of being from India in that sense. India is diverse, full of stories, culture, tradition & social patterns that don’t overwhelm me as they would a foreign observer. This enables me to get to the story behind the scene, which is my trump card.

Being Indian, being from India, being a woman – I get access, acceptance and proximity to present these stories through my canvas.

"The Insider" © Moushumee Jha

“The Insider” © Moushumee Jha


When I went to India for the first time, I decided to leave the camera in the hotel.  It was such an intense experience, my aim was to just absorb everything.  Growing up in India, what is the country like from an insider?

For an Indian, who grew up in India, in the traditional family setup, India is inherently a very simple place – life happens at its own pace with an age-old established pattern that repeats. We simply follow the pattern. People are simple and spiritual. Nature is supreme – every element has a God.

Its only when we try to communicate about the seeming chaos on the street, the philosophy behind our spirituality, the rationale behind the celebrations and we try to provide a reasoned, logical argument that we begin to complicate stuff.

Growing up, one can discern the expanse and diversity of India – people, traditions, festivals, food, language etc., but even then there is a spiritual binding that that organizes the chaos; something that foreigners discover after they have made repeated visits to India.

As a photographer, India therefore provides a wide tapestry. There is so much to see, absorb, adopt in our images – color, texture, expressions, hardship, happiness, celebration, spirituality. And this happens in a non-stop fashion.

"The Insider" © Moushumee Jha

“The Insider” © Moushumee Jha


Pursuing the arts is not often encouraged.  It can be a challenging path professionally and people are often discouraged from it.  Can you tell us a bit about how you became interested in photography and how your nurtured the practice both artistically and professionally?

This is a myth. There is a history of “in-the-family” tradition especially for arts, crafts in India. The modern India especially the post-independence 50 years may have been about assimilating into the western systems and a focus on engineers, doctors and such professions but liberal arts have always been favoured by folks in eastern India, southern parts and even western portions.

I come from family of artists, musicians, authors & academicians myself. The evenings at home would reverberate with music, laughter, stories and celebrations. There was a creative competition between the family members. This helped set the bar high for my own artistic stint – I had to measure up to folks in my family and better them.

This background in theatre and film, as I have said elsewhere was very useful as I moved into photography. The language of camera, light was familiar.

Of course I had to take a break after my marriage, but once my boys had grown up, with encouragement from my family & friends, I started photography as a hobby to pass time creatively during their school hours. Slowly, I gained confidence as my frames were appreciated by all. The larger push happened as I discovered social media and the ability to share my work with professionals and to hold my own.

A key contributor and motivator also was being asked to be an admin of  Delhi’s first ever photography page/forum – “Delhi Photographers” which I am still part of with Vineet Vohra, Rohit Vohra, Dinesh Khanna, Enjo Mathew. It gave me a platform to discuss, learn, share and validate my ideas.

As I grew in confidence, I decided to publish my first book; take part in exhibitions and the recognition and support helped me further get involved. Professional requests followed thereafter and now it has been nearly 16 years journey, both as an artist and a professional.

"The Insider" © Moushumee Jha

“The Insider” © Moushumee Jha


Recently you had an exhibition, could you tell us about the body of work you presented and what it meant for you to put together a show, rather than simply put pictures online?

Yes, in March 2015 I participated in a group exhibition (by 4 photographers) on the theme – “TimeOut”. I displayed a set of six B&W pictures that showcased moments from everyday life spent in leisure or carefree pursuits – Children playing after school in a monastery; A Little Girl dancing at Jama Masjid;  Traders playing Carrom after a day’s work; A Solitary Musician. I also showcased a special picture of widows of Benaras and Vrindavan on a trip to the symbol of eternal love, the Taj Mahal.

I have taken part in group exhibitions before. I find that a show offers a richer engagement with the viewer than online medium. The visitors analyse, critique and inquire about the pictures and I can make a conversation that explains my point of view. The experience is more constructive than digital feedback. I also get to hear people comment on the picture without any conversation and it gives me an indication of how my pictures are being perceived.

"The Insider" © Moushumee Jha

“The Insider” © Moushumee Jha


Speaking of exhibitions, right now the Metropolitan Museum of Art has an exhibition of a photographer who worked in India and Myanmar just before the turn of the century.  Exploration photography has a dark side to it and one of the lasting vestiges is this tendency to photograph things that stand out as “strange” to a traveling photographer.  For that reason, most of the pictures we have seen come out of India, with a few exceptions like Raghu Rai, were made by photographers visiting the country.  But even summing up a place as large and diverse as India, in a single essay is impossible.  It is great to see an internally emerging voice, could you speak about how locals are viewing themselves and the world around them with a camera?

There is a very popular hindi song which most Indians relate with. The words are “phir bhi dil hai hindustani”, which loosely means “yet, my heart is Indian”.

This theme resonates with many of the emergent talent we see around. The “insiders” understand the POV of the “visitors” and how India has been presented before, but are presenting their own stories through their images. As a result, I think the world is discovering a different India and a new Indian POV.

For many decades the pictures from India brought to focus the oriental, the exotic, the different-than-us, the poverty, the chaos, the spirituality etc. As you have rightly said these were made by “visitors” to the country who documented what they saw, the in your face contrast with their own cultures.

However, now that this element of India is established, the Indian artists are able to provide the stories behind the frames, the celebrations amidst the poverty, the heart-beat amidst the  rituals and create pictures that present the pulse of life.

For a long time, access to international geographies was limited for Indian photographers. This has been addressed with the emergence of digital sharing platforms and social networks. So now we see both artists as well as activists coming to the fore. And they are presenting the pride in being Indian.

"The Insider" © Moushumee Jha

“The Insider” © Moushumee Jha


While the scene of Indian photography is finding its feet internationally, it is even more rare for photographers to be female, which I’ve always found strange.  From personal experience I graduated an art program that was 25 women and 7 men…but the professional world does not look like that.  Do you encounter any challenges as a female photographer?

Yes, there are fewer women in photography.

Thankfully, in the last 2 decades as more women have joined the work-force across all sectors, this is changing and changing fast. With time it will get even better.

There are challenges for sure as clients question the capacity for work & travel especially in hostile conditions. Lack of infrastructure can create hardships and especially for women. Security is a concern.

At times, when I am shooting at odd hours of the street, if the area is troubled or disturbed, I get told – “ghar jao”, go home. This is not safe for you.

I work with many women photographers and I find that they bring their unique sensitivities to their craft. I believe those women who can take a bit of challenge in their stride are pushing the boundaries.

It is also pertinent to point out that there are also advantages as a woman. One is readily accepted even in the most social, private spaces, which allows you to shoot stories that would not be accessible to men.

"The Insider" © Moushumee Jha

“The Insider” © Moushumee Jha


If we might tread into even more delicate territory, the recent rape case in India has received a lot of attention.  One of the points, often made, is that there is a cultural idea that women, outside of the house, should be accompanied by men and should not be “out late.”  As a photographer, this is rather impractical and limiting.  It seems like that would inhibit a huge amount of work from female photographers and tips the scales in favor of men creating images.  What is this conversation like inside of India?

I believe that the protectionist slant towards women in Indian attitudes is a result of the need to protect from repeated invasions that India has witnessed. Over time this has moved into a sometimes over-zealous and perhaps limiting constraints. If we go back further in history, we find evidence of women being more equal in all aspects and more participative in society.

There are areas where as a woman photographer I can attract unwanted attention; or where I would consider the security risks carefully. But then there are other areas where I may have an advantage being a woman. Street photography is definitely one such – being a woman gives me better access than a man.

The rural hinterland is a challenge but stories are emerging from there too. I believe that the present is tilted but the future is not – the future points to a larger opportunity for women across all professions.

"The Insider" © Moushumee Jha

“The Insider” © Moushumee Jha


Outside of the politics of things, lets talk about shooting…from the Himalayas in the north to the converging seas in Kanyakumari, India has a level of diversity from spiritual practice to topography that is endless.  What and where do you like to make pictures and why?

A great advantage in India is its diversity – from the physical to the cultural. It is rather impossible to cover all dimensions in a lifetime.

Since I am drawn to religion & spirituality, the connectivity of human soul to faith, calmness, solitude and also the energy of celebrations, my most favourite places are those that offer such opportunities.

I have travelled but a very small part of India and there is plenty to explore. I have had the opportunity to shoot in Ladakh; many parts of Assam including Majuli, the nucleus of the Vasihanavite culture; Cochin; Benaras; Vrindavan,

Also, as a street photographer, I find stories in places I am comfortable with – the city I live in, the city I grew up in are both sources to find the stories from everyday life, daily joys and sorrows that catches my eyes.

"The Insider" © Moushumee Jha

“The Insider” © Moushumee Jha


What projects are you working on right now or in the near future?

I am working on a couple of new projects at this time.

a) Creating a photo bank for the Tourism Department of State of Assam

b)  A book project on “Widows of Vrindavan and Benaras” – not the story of their drudgery and misery but the change in their lifestyle, their celebrations, their freedoms and how society is becoming more inclusive towards them and attitudes are changing to accept them in the mainstream. I am collaborating with another talented photographer, Jayati Saha of Kolkata on this project.

c) Delhi 6×6 – An ongoing project with 5 other Indian photographers that aims to capture the life and pulse of “Old Delhi” an area with Pin Code: 110006. (Vineet, Rohit, Dinesh and Prateek  are also  part of this project.)

d) I am planning a Solo Exhibition on a woman oriented theme for next year, 2016.

To experience more of Moushumee Jha’s photography follow her on Facebook:

Thank you Moushumee for your fantastic work, I hope that everyone enjoyed the interview as much as I did.  Feel free to leave comments below to Moushumee : ) 


"The Insider" © Moushumee Jha

“The Insider” © Moushumee Jha

"The Insider" © Moushumee Jha

“The Insider” © Moushumee Jha

"The Insider" © Moushumee Jha

“The Insider” © Moushumee Jha

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O’Mast: The story of Neapolitan Tailors Tue, 04 Aug 2015 19:51:30 +0000 adam [more...]]]> O’Mast: The story of Neapolitan Tailors

by Gianluca Migliarotti


O'Mast by Gianluca Migliarotti

O’Mast by Gianluca Migliarotti

Neapolitan Tailors

Less than one hundred years ago clothes were made by hand, for individuals.  It was a time consuming and expensive tradition that has been slowly replaced by “ready-made” clothing, produced anonymously in distant factories.  The fit is an average of height, weight, and girth.  The S, M, L, and XL solution to clothing removed not only the specificity from the tailoring experience, but also the exchange between tailor and client.  Italian director of Kid Candy, Gianluca Migliarotti, wanted to open up this clandestine world of the needle and thread to a new generation of people who might prefer a lasting garment that is impossible to find on the racks of any store from a flea market to a Barney’s.

O’Mast is a film that looks at some of the living legends of Neapolitan tailoring in their natural environment.  From the thimbles to ashtrays, it captures an authentic view of men who sculpt fabric around the irregularities of the human form.  In the end, both the suits and the film fall as naturally as “Rotten banana” (which is often how a good fitting suit will be described.)  Check out the trailer of the film below.  I bought it on iTunes and have watched it more times than I am willing to admit.

One of the legendary featured tailors in O'Mast, Antonio Panico.

One of the legendary featured tailors in O’Mast, Antonio Panico.




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Behind the scenes: “How to build a series” seminar Tue, 28 Jul 2015 21:30:29 +0000 adam [more...]]]> Behind the scenes: “How to build a series” seminar

A\MARELLI workshops

N E W  Y O R K  C I T Y

Behind the scenes of the A\MARELLI seminar © Monika Houck

Behind the scenes of the A\MARELLI seminar © Monika Houck

The four corners of the globe

This past Saturday photographers gathered at my studio for the first “How to build a series” seminar.  While they did not exactly come from the 4 corners of the globe, a few did fly in from places like Germany and Florida which I always find very humbling.  One of the photographers, Monika Houck, who you read about here took a few behind the scenes shots for everyone to enjoy.

Behind the scenes of the A\MARELLI seminar © Monika Houck

Behind the scenes of the A\MARELLI seminar © Monika Houck

Why a seminar?

After years of running workshops, I discovered that a select number of photographers had no problem making good images.  They knew where to find good light, how to maximize a scene, and even how to select a trip that would yield great pictures.  But they were not sure how to create a series.  They wanted to put together a collection of cohesive pictures that told a story.  Viola!  From this idea the “How to build a series” seminar was born.

It is styled after the great French salons of the 18th century, when artists would get together and discuss their work.  They might also have drank too much, stolen each other’s girlfriends, and made fantastic claims of greatness, but how can we hold that against them?!   The salons were less about the details of production; rather it was a place to lend a critical eye to moving forward.  We always want to move forward…it is part of our nature.  If there is no challenge, no next level, we get bored, lose interest, and eventually move on to other things.

Behind the scenes of the A\MARELLI seminar © Monika Houck

Behind the scenes of the A\MARELLI seminar © Monika Houck

To put the artists salon into photographer terms, it is a place to leave aside the technical end.  The Internet tips the scales heavily in favor of camera reviews and “Top 10 lists of things you will NEVER need.”  In the seminar we dealt in something that is rarely seen online: constructive, critical discussion with solutions for the next steps in everyone’s series.  Or to let one of the participants speak on my behalf:

Behind the scenes of the A\MARELLI seminar © Monika Houck

Behind the scenes of the A\MARELLI seminar © Monika Houck

Your workshop provided a strong set of ideas that will help drive how, where and when I shoot to create photographs worthy of theme and exhibition. The tool kit will be essential as I start to develop from capturing a moment to truly telling a story with an artistic impact. The richness of this process will clearly deepen my understanding of photography as an art form and provide more purpose than clicking away on the latest technologically advanced camera equipment. 
Many thanks to all. Looking forward to stay in touch and enjoy the photographic journey!
-Chuck Ludmer
If you are looking for an excellent 1 day workshop to improve your approach to photography I have a recommendation.  Adam Marelli offered just such a course this last Saturday in his studio.  His approach is thorough, well prepared, and you will view lots of images that support his discussions. Rather than randomly making  photographs you will be able to conceive and plan your photographic outings.  This allows the photographer to take a proactive role in image making. Very highly recommended.
-Penny Breen
How to build a series manual © Adam Marelli

How to build a series manual © Adam Marelli

What do you actually learn

The participants were taken through a manual that I have built to outline how to make a series.  It is made into a PDF so they get to take it home and keep it as a reference as they build their next series.  Inside, it breaks down the essential components of a series, the tools you can use to improve your approach, how and when to use each tool, and answers some of the most challenging questions like “Why make a series in the first place?”
Behind the scenes of the A\MARELLI seminar © Monika Houck

Behind the scenes of the A\MARELLI seminar © Monika Houck

What’s next?

The next stop on the workshop tour is Venice (where one space actually opened up…a participant had a work conflict, so if you were thinking about coming this is your lucky day! Drop us an email to claim your space )  After that we are off to Kyoto for two workshops and then in November there will be one more “How to build a series” seminar to round out the year.  We look forward to seeing you there.
Thank you Monika for the behind the scenes photos (which before anyone asks, were made on the original Leica Monochrom)

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Photographer at Large: Dirk Heyman with Philippe Dufour Wed, 22 Jul 2015 13:49:17 +0000 adam [more...]]]>

Photographer at Large: Dirk Heyman with Philippe Dufour

Philippe Dufour
L e  S o l l i a t  /  S W I T Z E R L A N D

Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

Horlogerie Compliquée

On a miserable grey and cold day (March 29) with storm warning 3 (in a scale up to 5), I had the opportunity to visit the atelier of Philippe Dufour with eleven other interested people. Philippe Dufour is a legend, especially in Japan where his meticulous attention to detail, craftsmanship and the respect for the traditions of watchmaking has won him accolades (and a fan club).
Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

He was not pre-destined to become one of the masters in the “Haute Horlogerie”. It happened by accident. Philippe Dufour was born and lived in the valley of the Lac Du Joux (Vallée de Joux) which was then a rather remote area of Switzerland.
Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

Watchmaking has shaped the social fabric of the valley since XVIIe century. It is what people did in the long winters when they were totally isolated, huddled in their farms with small windows while outside there was little to do to gain a living. Until the middle of the XIXe century, the organization was based on the model of “l’établissage” where the workers worked at home and were specialized on specific parts, and the “établisseur” organized the work, the final assembly and the commercialization of the finished watches. This fundamentally changed when, at the end of XIXe century, the advent of standardized and thus cheaper watches coming from America forced a rethink of the model. The “établisseurs” became the first brands but the industry was still focused around small and medium enterprises. The crisis of 1974-1982 lead to a concentration and the creation of the large groups such as Swatch. However, during all that time the valley kept its tradition of small enterprises and workshops.
Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

So what about Philippe Dufour, born in this remote valley? As he was not good at school, there were at that time two options open to him: become a farmer or become a watchmaker. As his parents did not have a farm, watchmaking became his only option. So he went to the technical school of Le Sentier (Ecole Technique du Sentier) at the age of 15 and from there started his career in 1967 with Jaeger-LeCoutre. He immediately found out that he liked this! As he was curious to see something other than the Vallée de Joux, he worked abroad in London, the Caribbean and then back in Switzerland. He learned that it is important to be open to other cultures, understand what people want, as well as the importance of customer service. He also understood that you do not need to be born in Switzerland in the Vallée de Joux to become an excellent watchmaker.
Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

As he was tired of working for the big well known brands, which he claims are only interested in profit margins and sales: “ils n’ont rien compris!”, he started his own workshop initially focused on the restoration of old watches. His personal enjoyment became a passion. By restoring these ancient watches he truly learned about the craftsmanship which passed from generation to generation: “our ancestors could do things which today with all our modern technology, we cannot match”.
Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

He is still passionate about watchmaking: the possibility to create a piece of art that people want to see (and want to buy). When jokingly asked if mathematics was still a problem as it was one of the reasons he left school early and is still a skill needed to design watches, he replied that he learned to be good at it: “Besides possibly in music, there are no prodigies in art. It is about the passion to create, focus, learning, hard work, patience, gain mastery”.
Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

He is well known for his 3 series of watches:
  • Grande et Petite Sonnerie Répétition Minutes: 1992, first ever that such a complicated mechanism was completed for a wristwatch.
  • Duality, double régulateur: 1996, first ever double escapement wristwatch.
  • Simplicity: 2000 hand-winding mechanical wristwatch (200 made), which is an example of listening to what people want. Not everyone could afford one of the above.
His workshop is small and filled with machines mostly from the 1920’s till the 1950’s which were largely discarded during the crisis of 1974-1982. At the technical school he learned to make his own tools, a skill he still has. Only in the design of his watches does he use modern software tools. He believes it is important that if you strive to be the best you can be, then you need to be as independent as possible and be able to have or to make the right tool for the right job. Only one machine had numerical control added to it. Some of the tools are surprisingly humble: for polishing he uses diamond-powder and branches of a local bush species which he collects in autumn: the best for the job.
Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

His watches are sought after all over the world, and cost on the 2nd hand market and auctions much more than the price for which he sold them. With a smile he told us that he could not afford one his watches: it takes him 8 to 9 months to make one. So the only Philippe Dufour he has and wears is a Simplicity. He does buy vintage watches and the only new one he bought and thought is good is a chronograph from Lange & Söhne.
Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

While his workshop has workbenches for five, he currently works alone. New apprentices do not stay long enough to master the skills. Philippe Dufour together with Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey (of Greubel Forsey) created in 2006 the project “Le Garde Temps – Naissance d’une Montre (“ to maintain the disappearing skills of ancient watchmaking. The idea is that one carefully selected apprentice learns all the skills by spending time at and learning from the 2 workshops. This apprentice would then pass on this knowledge to other apprentices and so create a network. It was French watchmaking teacher Michel Boulanger who was selected in 2009.
Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heym

Readers of Adam’s articles will, I am sure, note that there might be parallels. Globalisation and the drive for instant personal gratification and quick gains has brought havoc to ancient skills and traditions. But there is hope that they will survive and even thrive, although on a smaller scale. It is encouraging that as local apprentices lack the interest, stamina and will to acquire these ancient skills, people from other regions & countries step in. Just think about Eric Chevalier doing his apprenticeship at the Sasuke metal workshop in Sakai City (Japan) with master Yasuhiro Hirakawa. One can wonder, if in order for ancient skills to endure, the apprenticeship itself needs to become global.
Eric Chevalier, apprentice to master black smith Yasuhiro Hirakawa by Dirk Heyman

Eric Chevalier, apprentice to master black smith Yasuhiro Hirakawa by Dirk Heyman

I hope to be able one day to go back to Philippe Dufour’s atelier; the time spent there just passed away too quickly.
Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

Philippe Dufour © Dirk Heyman

All of Dirk’s images were made on the original Leica Monochrom using a 50mm Summilux f/1.4.
View more of Dirk Heyman’s images:


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Lightroom won’t import ANYTHING Mon, 20 Jul 2015 20:54:49 +0000 adam [more...]]]> Lightroom won’t import ANYTHING
What if the tools fail © Adam Marelli

What if the tools fail?  Simon from our workshop shoot at violin makers Hayn & Hayn in Berlin.  © Adam Marelli

Before the last workshops in Berlin and London, I needed to buy a new laptop, download Lightroom 6, and pray to the photo-gods that all would be well abroad.  Half way through the Berlin Workshop there was a problem.  Lightroom would not see any images when I tried to import.  I could bring up the import window, see my SD card, external drive and pictures on my computer, but EVERYTHING was grayed out.  Oh dear god what do I do?

Lightroom Import  when it is working properly looks like this.

Lightroom Import when it is working properly looks like this.

If you have the same problem as I did, the issue is that you:

  1. Click the Import button
  2. The Import screen comes up
  3. All of your files, drives, or SD cards are grayed out and zero images show up in the center panel
  4. You start hyperventilating

I did what you are supposed to do in that situation. I rolled up on the floor and commenced crying. : ) Just kidding…David Farkas and I searched the Net first because many Lightroom glitches are known and documented online.  Chances are someone else has already been through the problem and published the answer.  This is one of the upsides of the Internet.  There are entire communities of people who would like to help you avoid the problems they encountered.  But what happens when the problem you are having is not coming up online?  If you have ever called Adobe Support, you already know that a third colonoscopy, a trip to the DMV, or a 12 hour flight next to a screaming baby sounds like more fun than calling Adobe.

Stepping outside for a second to clear my head, I noticed that the meeting room next to ours read “Welcome Adobe.”  As luck would have it, there was an Adobe meeting next door to the workshop.  Now, Adobe is a huge company, I thought, “What are the odds that this is the Lightroom team?”  When a guy in a tan sport coat walked towards the room, I asked him, “You don’t happen to do anything with Lightroom do you?”

He said,”Depends, what’s the issue?”

Standing next to me was the head of the Adobe Creative Suite.  There is not a better guy in all of Adobe I could have bumped into.  We showed him the problem, asked if he had seen it before, and with the BEST customer service response I’ve ever heard, he said,”Why don’t you give us the computer and we will work on it.”  Talk about hands on quality control.  He took the computer into the other room and went to work.

They had not seen the issue I was having before and they tried a number of fixes, more than I can list here.  They fired a few emails back to the team on the West Coast of the US, so we needed to wait overnight.  Fortunately we were all staying at the same hotel, so we could reconnect over breakfast.  In the morning, they had an answer and a list of instructions to follow.

Praying for Solutions © Adam Marelli

Praying for Solutions © Adam Marelli

After re-installing Lightroom and a few other attempts did not fix the issue, they recommended we try the following:

Start Lightroom CC 2015 with clean user preference:
  1. Press and hold the Shift+Option keys when double-clicking on the Lightroom application icon to launch it.
  2. Lightroom will show you a dialog asking whether you want to “Start Normally” or “Reset Preferences”. Click “Reset Preferences” to start Lightroom with a clean user preferences.
Start Lightroom CC 2015 with clean presets:
  1. Launch Lightroom CC 2015.
  2. Go to Menu Lightroom>Preferences to bring up the user preference dialog.
  3. Go to the Presets tab, under Location, click on “Show Lightroom Preset Folder…” button.
  4. In the Mac OSX Finder, rename the highlighted “Lightroom” Lightroom preset folder to “Lightroom.original”.
  5. Relaunch Lightroom.


Smile, because all is well with the world and Lightroom works again.

Hopefully you do not encounter this issue, but if you do, I hope this article helps or that you bump into Adobe like I did.  And if you are in NYC I look forward to seeing you at my seminar on Saturday “How to make a photo series.”



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How to find light, when you are standing in it Mon, 06 Jul 2015 19:33:56 +0000 adam [more...]]]> How to find light, when you are standing in it

K Y O T O  /  J A P A N

Model Naoko Fuchikawa Kyoto Workshop © Adam Marelli

Model Naoko Fuchikawa Kyoto Workshop © Adam Marelli

You are the picture

Would you like to grab your camera, step outside, and always find great light?  We scour the globe in search of good light.  Free from the tricks of the studio, the real test for a photographer is if they can find great light without any help from Photoshop or a strobe.  The magical light that we find in great pictures often eludes us on a daily basis.  The search goes on in vain…equipped with low light lenses and high ISO cameras the search does not seem to be any easier today than it was 50 years ago…but why?

Circling Barracuda in Papua New Guinea.  © David Doubilet

Circling Barracuda in Papua New Guinea. © David Doubilet

David Doubilet

Famed National Geographic photographer and fellow member of the Explorer’s Club, David Doubilet tells a story that everyone can put to use.  Many of you might not know David by name, but will certainly recognize his work.  On a dive in Papua New Guinea, David was surrounded by a school of barracuda.  As their silvery bodies encircled him, he decided he could not get a good shot.  In this moment, he realized that HE WAS THE SHOT!  The picture he wanted to take was of a diver in the middle of the school, not a picture taken from the inside.  So he went up to the surface, grabbed one of the other divers and told them to get in the picture. The result is one of the most famous underwater pictures of the last fifty years.

Workshop photographer Larry Hayden standing in the light © Adam Marelli

Workshop photographer Larry Hayden standing in the light © Adam Marelli

Kyoto Workshop

I tell the story of Doubilet often in workshops to ease the stress of many photographers.  Many photographers overlook the fact that the good light is ON THEM, not around them.  Last year, while we were in Kyoto on a model shoot, one of the photographers, Larry Hayden, felt stuck looking for light.  Most of the time Larry enjoys taking cityscapes in the early morning hours on a tripod.  The new challenge of photographing a model, in the back alleys of Gion (the Geisha district) challenged Larry’s sensibilities.

Being a teacher of good faith and a sense of humor, I told him he was the picture.  I snapped a picture as proof.  Confused, he looked at the screen on the Monochrom and laughed.  He was in the light the entire time, so he could not see it.  The rest of the shoot was a breeze for him.  He could step back and see what I was talking about, which made the afternoon more enjoyable and the pictures even better.

Next time you are struggling to find a picture, take a step back…you might be in your own shot.





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