Adam Marelli Photo Now Boarding Leica Air . . . Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:12:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Photographer’s Gift Guide Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:12:11 +0000 adam [more...]]]> Photographer’s Gift Guide

What to buy for your favorite photographer

Travel Essentials


North Sea Submariner Sweater. A. Marelli Gift Guide

North Sea Submariner Sweater. A. Marelli Gift Guide

1.  North Sea Sweater
$ 150

When winter flexes its muscles, grab the “Submariner” sweater from North Sea.  Its a 100% wool turtleneck that the Brits invented so they could stay warm while hunting U-Boats.  It balances the historical accuracy with a cut that looks good on its own or under a blazer.  It is my go to sweater for cold weather shooting and long haul flights.

Barena Venezia Tv Formentera Jacket.

Barena Venezia Tv Formentera Jacket.

2.  Barena Venezia Slanegà Tv Jacket (Formentera)
€ 419

A friend of mine turned me on to Barena Venezia recently.  Their jackets are styled after the Venetian fishermen.  The style is part workwear and part Italian fashion.  Barena Venezia is a small shop who likes to keep it local.  Their jackets are woven with a little stretch so you can look good without feeling like you are in a straight jacket.  The generous pockets, inside and out make it a great alternative to the photographer’s vest.

Filson Travel Bag Medium

Filson Travel Bag Medium

3.  Filson Travel Bag -Medium Luggage
$ 325

It looks like Venice might put a ban on wheeled luggage.  Only in Venice, right?!  Well in case they do, might as well have a good bag to toss into the vaparetto.  Avoid the split zippers and baggage limitations with a soft shelled bag designed to last a century.  As a carry on piece of luggage it carries enough for two weeks on the road, will age better than Maggie Smith (who is doing is pretty fine job herself.)

Field Notes Notebooks.

Field Notes Notebooks.

4.  Field Notes Notebooks (pack of 3)
$ 10

Technology is good, but not perfect.  While online check in, single click purchases, and instant weather updates are welcome advancements, there is still nothing like getting your ideas on paper.  These perfectly sized note books are a must for any photographer because you never know when your next great idea might hit.

Rotring 800+ Mechanical Pencil and Stylus

Rotring 800+ Mechanical Pencil and Stylus

5.  Rotring Mechanical Pencils 800+
€ 70

What the + mean?  The good folks at Rotring have improved with mechanical pencils to include a stylus that can be used on iPads and tablets.  The weight, build quality and feel of their mechanical pencils will make you want to find an excuse to draw something.  And the black paint finish will brass just like your Leica.  A nice touch.

Leica D Lux 109 Camera.

Leica D Lux 109 Camera.

6.  Leica D-Lux 109
$ 1,195

It is rare that I recommend gear…so take this as you will.  The only camera that I am really interested in right now is the new Leica D-Lux (Type 109).  And while many of you are thinking, “Oh yeah, I’d be interested in it if Leica gave it to me,” I can tell you…this is not a gift from Leica, but something I plan to buy.  Small enough to fit in a jacket pocket and compatible with an Ikelite underwater housing…I’d like a camera for events and “light underwater” that does not feel like it sacrifices much from my Leica Ms.

A. Marelli Small Camera Bag

A. Marelli Small Camera Bag

A. Marelli Medium Camera Bag.

A. Marelli Medium Camera Bag.

7.  Adam Marelli x Slow Tools Bags
small – $ 225
medium – $ 285

After years of complaining about camera bags, just like everyone else…I decided it was time to do something about the photographers dilemma.  Is it possible to have a bag that you actually want to carry, which does not look like a camera bag, and will last a really long time?  Now the answer is YES.

This will be a gift for the patient photographer…because they will not be ready until Feb/March of next year…but we are only producing a limited edition of 50 bags in each size.  So it is recommended by pre-order before they are sold out. Email us at 

Gitzo Traveller 2 Tripod and Ball Head.

Gitzo Traveller 2 Tripod and Ball Head.

8.  Gitzo Traveller Tripod
$ 1,100

For those spectacular night shots that only happen on the road, its best to carry a small light weight tripod.  This way you can capture award winning shots that are just not possible without a steady hold.  Gitzo has become the Patek Philippe of tripods.  Great quality, well designed, and expensive enough that you might have thought you were buying a camera and just a tripod.  But when it slips into your carry on and hardly notice the weight you will thank whoever buys this for you.

Jaeger Lecoutre Geophysic 1958

Jaeger Lecoutre Geophysic 1958

9.  Jaeger LeCoultre Tribute to the Geophysic 1958
$ 9,800

Everyone remembers the first watch they were given.  For most of us, it was a turning point where someone acknowledged, “You are an adult (or you at least have the general outline of one and are bound to fill in the missing pieces over time.)  In honor of this tradition, why not share the same watch that first surfaced at the North Pole in 1958 as the US Navy was stalking the Russians with a young photographer.  Man, woman, child…it hardly matters who is on the receiving end because afterwards they will be a “changed man.”


Collector's Prints, from "Traces of a Lost Ceremony" © Adam Marelli

Collector’s Prints, from “Traces of a Lost Ceremony” © Adam Marelli

10.  Make your own Exhibition Prints with Digital Silver Imaging
Save $250 when you buy $ 750 worth of prints

Do you live with someone who is bonkers about photography?  If so, how often do they print their own work?  The best gift that you can give any photographer is the chance to see their work in glorious printed form.  This holiday season, my printer, Digital Silver Image is offering printing deals on their highest quality Silver Gelatin Fiber Prints.  If your “crazy photographer” has not seen their work in exhibition form, they are bound to love you for this one.

Digital Silver Imaging Holiday Discount

Wishing everyone a fantastic holiday season!  

Best-Adam Marelli

]]> 2
Photographer at LARGE: Michelle Leung Mon, 15 Dec 2014 16:18:09 +0000 adam [more...]]]> Photographer at Large

Michelle Leung


A Stylish Commute. Verona/Italy © Michelle Leung

A Stylish Commute. Verona/Italy © Michelle Leung

Adam’s Note

The end of December is the perfect time to reflect on the goals we set back in January.  All over the world people gather to clink glasses and celebrate the possibility of the future.  Maybe all of the rituals of New Years Celebration are to shrug off old habits and give ourselves an upgrade.  We gather up a new round of courage, set goals beyond our wildest dreams and then hit February and forget where it all went.  As Ernest Hemingway once said,

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk.”

Behind our goals, lies the looming monster known as fear.  It is a powerful force that has many shapes and sizes.  Fear is not just the paralysis of an artistic block or being afraid to approach strangers.  It comes in the form of procrasticnation, excuses to do it “another day,” and the fear that if we put our work into the world no one will like it.  These are fears that everyone has, I have them, you might have them and some of the biggest names in art and photography have them.  But instead of going at it alone, I wanted to open up the conversation.  We should be allowed to discuss our concerns in a safe environment, free from criticism, because ultimately, once we are free of our fears…everything improves.  Please join me in welcoming a new Photographer at Large to the site, Michelle Leung as she takes us through her journey of Art & Fear.

Art & Fear

Michelle Leung

If my fear were personified it would resemble a ten foot gelatinous version of Miyazaki’s Totoro. I find my fear both comforting and frightening. Starting this journal, my fear initially sat heavily on my chest, making it difficult for me to breathe. But now it sits quietly alongside me.
This short journal was inspired by the book ‘Art & Fear‘ by Bayles and Orland. And I was encouraged to share these personal thoughts because it seems others might be enduring – or at least, experiencing - something similar. There’s also apparently a catharsis that comes from sharing my thoughts (and for those who don’t know me, sharing my inner-most thoughts is certainly not my forte), so I remain optimistic of this outcome.

Men's Shop before dawn. Verona/Italy © Michelle Leung

Men’s Shop before dawn. Verona/Italy © Michelle Leung

I am in a long term relationship with photography. I love it. But sometimes it doesn’t love me back. Despite this, I persist because I want the relationship to work - and “work” is the operative word. Apparently staying the course in the relationship with photography requires constant work – a lot more work than I had originally anticipated. I originally thought that photography and I could just have a casual relationship, but this appears unsustainable. I am blinded by my passion for photography, so I endure the highs and lows that come with it.

Coming to repent. Verona/Italy © Michelle Leung

Coming to repent. Verona/Italy © Michelle Leung

The parties to this relationship are my camera, others, and me. My camera doesn’t say much and doesn’t have much to add to the conversation. He looks back at me unblinking when I ask searching questions. So instead, I turn to think about the impact of others and myself in this relationship with photography. Big deep breath - here it goes…

Stay tuned for part two of Michelle’s series on Art & Fear later this week.


How have you dealt with art & fear?

Best-Adam Marelli 

]]> 5
Adam Marelli x Slow Tools Camera Bag Collaboration Fri, 12 Dec 2014 18:41:15 +0000 adam [more...]]]> Adam Marelli x Slow Tools 

Camera Bag Collaboration

New York City/Osaka

Slow Tools © Adam Marelli-5

Slow Tools shop in Osaka, Japan.  © Adam Marelli

One Year of Testing

In the summer of 2013, I met Ichiro Nitta at the Capsule Trade show here in New York City.  He represents a boutique bag manufacturer out of Osaka Japan, named Slow Tools.  In their collection, a small canvas shoulder bag caught my eye.  The bag was unstructured, beautifully made, and almost perfect for a Leica travel kit.  But Slow Tools was only showing their goods, they were not selling anything.  I went home empty handed, but curious to visit them in Japan and see how their bags would work as an alternative to all the other camera bags on the market.

Slow Tools © Adam Marelli-5

Slow Tools window front.  © Adam Marelli


Four months later, I arrived at Hotel Anteroom, in Kyoto.  Masako, said, “Mr. Marelli, we have a package you.”  Ichiro sent a small shoulder bag which I planned to test for one year.  Being a photographer and not a bag company, I can entertain long testing periods without the pressures of bottom lines and quick turnarounds.

Camera bags should be cool.  They should be an exciting companion to a camera, something we want to take around on a daily basis.  My biggest disappointment with many of the products I encounter is that they feel rushed, designed for everyone, and lacking the small touches that make a piece feel unique.  With no timetable, I wanted to use the bag for one year to discover its DNA and understand what I would change if I could design it myself.

Slow Tools © Adam Marelli-5

Slow Tools tote.  © Adam Marelli


Over the course of 2014, I traveled almost 100,000 miles and the Slow Tools bag came everywhere with me.  It was dressed up for dinners, poked and prodded at Customs, and became my daily bag at home in New York City.  We were inseparable.  But like a much loved teddy bear, the canvas edging and back panel started to show signs of wear, which is why this year, I set up a trip to Osaka to fix the trouble spots, make some changes, and create a bag that was unique in style and construction.  If the bag could be adapted to meet the needs of photographers like me, why couldn’t it work for someone like you?

Slow Tools © Adam Marelli-5

Slow Tools ground floor.  © Adam Marelli

Design meeting in Osaka

Slow Tools and I sat down with swatches of canvas, leather, a full kit of Leica gear, pens, and notebooks to create a camera bag for photographers who hate camera bags.  The prototypes just arrived in New York this week.  You can expect to see them up on the site next week (pre-orders will be available.)

Slow Tools © Adam Marelli-5

Slow Tools bags.   © Adam Marelli

What did I want to change?

1.  Silhouette. The problem with most camera bags is that they look like camera bags.  They share more in common with the “ubiquitous black rolly bag” than anything you would want to claim as your own.  I’m a wool, canvas, & leather sort of guy who appreciates a fabric that breaks in over time, reflects a personal style, and would never be mistaken as something you could buy in bulk.

2.  Padding…this is a point where I differ from almost the entire photography world, but I don’t like padding.  Most of the time my bag is empty because the camera is in my hand.  The idea was to create a durable, light bag, that would not feel like dead weight after a day of shooting.  When I do put the camera in the bag, it’s only in transit or when I sit at a restaurant.  I try not to bang it against things because if I had to choose weight over padding, I would choose light weight any day.

3.  Materials.  There is a growing trend to make things that don’t patina.  It must be the influence of plastic surgery on our culture.  But I like things that age…I’m a vintage watch guy, I prefer my leather to feel like it was inherited and my bags to look like they have been around the world a few times.  The golden era of bag design ended after World War 2.  The combination of heavy duty canvas and beautifully tanned leather used on steamers, train travel, and for diplomatic persuasion (yes, war)  is as good as it gets.  Keep the carbon fiber, kevlar, and composites for Formula One cars and trips to the moon.

Design selection © Adam Marelli Slow Tools interior. © Adam Marelli Slow Tools publications. © Adam Marelli Slow Tools © Adam Marelli

Limited Edition

The bags will be individually numbered and offered exclusively through this website.

Prototypes of the new Adam Marelli x Slow Tools Camera Bag Medium © Adam Marelli

Prototypes of the new Adam Marelli x Slow Tools Camera Bag Medium © Adam Marelli


Next week there will be images of the new bags, complete with specs and pricing.  The estimated delivery of the bags is looking like February or March of 2015.

Look forward to sharing them with you!

Best-Adam Marelli

]]> 19
MTA Arts & Design Installs New Photography Exhibit by Danny Lyon Tue, 09 Dec 2014 17:07:42 +0000 adam [more...]]]> Danny Lyon

MTA Arts & Design Installs New Photography Exhibit by Danny Lyon

Underground: 1966’ Features Images of Subway Riders on View for First Time


Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC © Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC © Danny Lyon

Adam’s Note

Every year New York City attracts millions of photographers, many of whom are waiting to take their first subway ride through the heart of Manhattan.  Originally opened in 1904, the subway system created an underground world which would serve as a backdrop for photography, film, and art for the last century.  

Like no other place, the subway system carries the pulse of the city and offers visitors a glimpse into the real New York.  From the open-roofed trains of the early 1900’s to the graffiti-covered cars of the 1980’s, photographers have kept a close eye on the shifts in subway riders of each decade.

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC 1 © Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC 1 © Danny Lyon

Archival Images of Danny Lyon

MTA Arts & Design has installed a new photography exhibit that features exclusive images by Danny Lyon, who photographed subway riders in 1966. The exhibit, located at the Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr BDNQR2345 station in Brooklyn, will be on view for one year.

Lyon has had a storied career as a photographer and filmmaker who documented, as both an observer and participant, the civil rights movement in 1962 in the South and motorcycle gangs in Chicago. He injects the medium with a decisive point of view that directs attention to those often unseen.  His later work took him to prisons to explore conditions there.

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC 3 © Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC 3 © Danny Lyon

Lyon returned to New York City in late 1966, when he took his mother’s advice: “If you’re bored, just talk to someone on the subway.” He used a Rolleiflex camera and color transparency film to photograph the subway in Brooklyn.  The images in “Underground: 1966” have never been publicly exhibited.

“Brooklyn is changing very rapidly and so many newcomers have joined longtime residents among the 40,000 people who use the Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr station every day. ‘Underground: 1966’ is a great opportunity to show them how it used to be, and to show off the work of a groundbreaking photographer who was born in Brooklyn,” said Lester Burg, Senior Manager of MTA Arts & Design.

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC 4 © Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC 4 © Danny Lyon

“Underground: 1966” comprises eight large-scale photographs that show a lone woman standing on the platform; two women bundled up from the elements; a dapper reveler; a lone sailor, and two teenagers waiting on an elevated platform. They evoke a mood and atmosphere in which people were alone with their thoughts as they traveled by subway.  Lyon uses the available lighting and creates a moment of quiet and calm that is reminiscent of the work of Edward Hopper and offers a more sympathetic version of earlier Walker Evans photographs of subway riders.

Lyon was especially pleased that the work can now be viewed in a subway station, saying: “There is something about taking the work to where the people are that makes for a different viewer connection from visiting a museum to see an exhibit.”

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC 5 © Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC 5 © Danny Lyon

Lyon created the originals with a Rolleiflex camera using Kodak safety film slides. He did not use a tripod during long exposures, so moving objects like people show up in the photographs as ghostly figures. The transfer of Lyon’s images from vintage slides to large-scale transparencies required the assistance of several sponsors, which donated their services. MTA Arts & Design would like to thank Magnum Photo, which created the scans; Kodak/alaris, which provided the Endura transparency material; and Griffin Editions, which printed the proofs and the final photos.

Lyon was featured in a retrospective at the Menil Collection museum in Houston, Texas, in honor of his 70th birthday. His work has appeared in books, museum and gallery exhibitions throughout the United States. His work is represented by Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York.

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC 6 © Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC 6 © Danny Lyon

MTA Arts & Design’s lightbox project exhibits photography at four locations within the transit system: BDFM 42 St-Bryant Park station, 4567S Grand Central-42 St, BDNQR2345 Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr and 45 Bowling Green.  New artworks are installed annually at each location.

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC 7 © Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC 7 © Danny Lyon

About MTA Arts & Design

MTA Arts & Design, formerly known as MTA Arts for Transit & Urban Design, encourages the use of mass transit in the metropolitan New York area by providing visual and performing arts in the transit environment. The permanent art program is one of the largest and most diverse collections of site-specific public art in the world, with more than 300 works by world famous, mid-career and emerging artists. Arts & Design produces photography installations as well as award-winning graphic arts and live musical performances in stations, and the Poetry in Motion program in collaboration the Poetry Society of America. Arts & Design serves more than 8 million people who ride MTA subways and commuter trains daily and strives to create meaningful connections between sites, neighborhoods, and people. For more information, please visit

To view more of Danny Lyon’s work please visit his gallery or see his books by Phaidon Press,  both of which I highly recommend.

Edwynn Houk Gallery: 

Phaidon Press: 

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC 8 © Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon Rolliflex Subway NYC 8 © Danny Lyon

Best-Adam Marelli

]]> 0
Photo Tips: How to talk to Strangers No 01 Mon, 08 Dec 2014 20:29:43 +0000 adam [more...]]]> How to talk to Strangers 

“The Couple”

N° 01


For demonstration purposes... this is NOT how we want to shoot, from behind, distant, and disconnected.  © Adam Marelli

For demonstration purposes only… this is NOT how we want to shoot: from behind, distant, and disconnected. © Adam Marelli


How many of us would love to photograph perfect strangers, but the idea of talking to people, let alone taking their picture, seems impossible.  This is a series that looks at situations around the world, where I have met complete strangers, taken their picture and walked away with more than a smile.

Last year, B&H Photo invited me to speak about the topic and when they reviewed my slides they were skeptical.  They did not know if a guide on photographing strangers would be that interesting…well 132,000 views and counting; it seems like there are a few people out there who would like to know how to do this more easily.  So welcome to the new series “How to talk to Strangers” and I hope that it encourages you to get out there, take some pictures and make a few unexpected friends along the way.

The ubiquitous selfie...these girls just finished their semester in Florence and were headed home in a few days.  © Adam Marelli

The ubiquitous selfie…these girls just finished their semester in Florence and were headed home in a few days. © Adam Marelli

Know thy Self

Before you attempt to photograph people, spend a few minutes reflecting.  When you traveling, do you:

  • Strike up conversations with the person next to you on a plane, at a bar or in a park?
  • Do you smile or make eye contact with people on the street?
  • Do you actually like people? (laugh if you will, but there are a lot of photographers who really don’t like new people)

If you answered Yes to all of the above questions, things will be a lot easier for you.

If you answered No, experiment with the questions to which you answered no.  It will get you in the habit of being comfortable with new people in a short period of time.

Dinara, shot one. © Adam Marelli

Dinara, shot one. © Adam Marelli

The Framework

For the sake of clarity, let’s set out a framework for the series so it is not confused with Street Photography or Portraiture.

Street Photography, social documentary, social realism…whatever we call it, is not what we are discussing here.  No one is giving brownie points for the picture being candid.  This is a learning experience and truthfully, I have NEVER met a gallerist, curator or editor that has even cared if a photo was “pure street.”  The concept is an invention of the Internet and it will not be the focus of the conversation.

Portraiture, we will consider this any photograph which was arranged in advance with the intention of making a portrait.  It’s a great way to learn and something that may be useful to try, but for this series we will stick with the idea of walking up to someone on the street and being allowed to take their picture.  Allowed is the key word here.

Things started top improve the more we shot.  © Adam Marelli

Things started to improve the more we shot. © Adam Marelli

Dinara & Plamen in Florence

In May, David Farkas and I were in Florence, Italy for a workshop we hosted.  Perched high above the city is the abby of San Miniato al Monte.  It overlooks the Arno River and Brunelleschi’s dome of Santa Maria del Fiore.  It provides a dramatic view of the Renaissance city below.  People gather, every night, to take the most important picture of the 21st century, The Selfie.

While the light faded into the horizon, we saw a young couple on the wall in front of the abby.  He was doing what most boyfriends do, trying to take a picture of his girlfriend.  She was doing what most girlfriends do, rolling her eyes as he fusses to get just the right angle and setting on the camera.  These awkward exchanges happen at every sunset around the globe.  We decided that we might ease the obvious tension by asking, “Hey, would you guys like us to take a picture of you both?”  

What did they say?


Why did they say yes?  Who knows exactly, but my best guess was that she was at the end of her patience and he was equally frustrated with the half smiles that girlfriends give when they no longer want their picture taken.

In effect, we were allowed to take a picture because we solved a problem for them.

Eventually she got really into it and everyone had a great time.  © Adam Marelli

Eventually she got really into it and everyone had a great time. © Adam Marelli  

Solve a problem FIRST and ask to take their picture SECOND

Once we were allowed to shoot, we asked Dinara and Plamen to sit in a few locations, gave a few instructions and they were happy to oblige.  After a few shots, Plamen decided that it might be easier for him to grab a few pictures while we were shooting, so we ended up just shooting Dinara.

Ask for their names

When we meet people, what were we taught to do?  Introduce ourselves, shake hands, bow…it all depends on the country, but photographers seem to forget their manners with a camera in hand.

There is nothing different about talking to strangers then there is to meeting a new client.  They want to know who you are, why you are there, and whether you are actually paying attention to them.  Here is how you can solve this problem, because it will happen every time you photograph someone new.

  1. Introduce yourself, clearly.  If your name is complicated and has three hyphens, two middle names, and a royal prefix, just give them the short version.
  2. Tell them why you want to take their picture. In this case, we said we were doing a lead-in a photo course, that was all they needed to hear.
  3. Most importantly….REMEMBER their names.  A real test of whether someone is paying attention is if they remember your name.  Try this the next time you are out.  Introduce yourself and see how many names you can remember.
As usual, I am behind the camera and not in the group picture.  © Adam Marelli

As usual, I am behind the camera and not in the group picture (Brenda, Dinara, Plamen, and David). © Adam Marelli

During college I used to do this for fun.  We would be out with friends and meet a group of new people.  While everyone was busy sizing one another up, I would listen and remember everyone’s name.  I can’t tell you how many people will be impressed if you remember their name.  Forget about being good looking, charismatic, or even a good photographer… all you need to do is pay attention. Why?

It makes them feel special because most people introduce themselves simply as a precursor to them talking about themselves (Welcome to NYC.)

And this was the skyline shot that David wanted to wait for...and why not.  Who says we have to shoot just people? Brunelleschi's Dome over Florence © Adam Marelli

And this was the skyline shot that David wanted to wait for…and why not. Who says we have to shoot just people? Brunelleschi’s Dome over Florence © Adam Marelli

The follow up

While most of the photography world kicked and screamed with the introduction of digital cameras, they have two advantages that we did not have with film.  First, you can turn the camera around and show them their picture immediately and secondly, you can email them a picture afterwards.  Sounds silly right?  If you can take a good picture of someone within a few minutes of meeting them, they will enjoy it…I guarantee you.

Once you finish shooting, exchange info or cards or whatever you have and send them your pictures as a thank you.  I try to do this with everyone I meet.  Can’t tell you how many times I see one of my pictures as a new Facebook profile picture.  And do I mind…no not at all.  It is a fair exchange where everyone walks away feeling good about the situation.

Now go out and give it a try and see how you make out.

Best-Adam Marelli





]]> 7
Workshop Photographer: Monika Houck’s Venice Tue, 02 Dec 2014 16:49:46 +0000 adam [more...]]]> Workshop Photographer: Monika Houck’s Venice

Da maestro ad apprendista

From master to apprentice 

Venice, ITALY


Da maestro ad apprendista © Monika Houck

Da maestro ad apprendista © Monika Houck

Adam’s Note

How often do we allow someone to come to work with us?  Not that often, right?  And for good reason.  Work is our livelihood.  It is the place where we build up a reputation that comes with years of earning people’s trust.  Inviting people into that world is not very common and when it happens special accommodations often need to happen.

But eight times a year, I take photographers, many whom I have never met before, and bring them to work.  They are allowed unfettered access to connections that took me years to develop.  It can be a little nerve racking because if something goes wrong it’s on me.  But more often than not, it is a wonderfully rewarding experience that satisfies the curiosity that photographers have about my working process, the world of master craftsmen, and their own ability to make pictures.   It allows them to step into the worlds of master craftsmen with a guide to insure that they walk away with great images.

This October, a group of six photographers joined me inside the squero of Roberto Tramontin, of Tramontin e Figli,…the oldest remaining gondola workshop in Venice.  We spent the day with the head of shop Roberto and his apprentice Michele as they put the finishing touch on a recently restored gondola.  After our time in Venice, photographer Monika Houck collected her thoughts on the experience and edited her final images from the shoot.  Her sensitive approach revealed a different perspective on the master/apprentice tradition.  As I remind everyone in the workshops, “We each have a  unique view of the world and the ability to see what no one else has seen before.”  This is why we carry cameras.  Please enjoy Monika’s images and we look forward to seeing you at a workshop in 2015.  (ps they are already 50% sold out, so do book soon to insure your spot)

Roberto spiega © Monika Houck

Roberto spiega © Monika Houck

Da Maestro ad apprendista- l’arte di squero Tramontin

by Monika Houck

In Venice art and craft are practised since centuries as one – “artigianato” – only distinguished by the work they produce: be it a drawing, a painting, a sculpture or a beautiful building.
One of the unique arts of Venice is the construction and restoration of gondolas. Since the foundation in 1884 by Domenico Tramontin – the Squero Tramontin is developing this Venetian artcraft. 
Michele restaura con cura Michele Pulliero, apprendista di costruttore di gondole © Monika Houck

Michele restaura con cura Michele Pulliero, apprendista di costruttore di gondole © Monika Houck

Learning from the masters has a well-maintained tradition in Italian art – this is why art was and still today is produced in workshops where masters are proud to transfer their expertise.
The gondolas are built by squeraroli (square = team in italian) -  who transfer the art from father to son or from master to apprentice. To become a a master in this art-craft takes at least 5 years of practice and a final exam.
Un sguardo attento Roberto Tramontin © Monika Houck

Un sguardo attento Roberto Tramontin © Monika Houck

My interest in visting Squero Tramontin was to see this process of learning. Roberto Tramontin is the very skilled and thus open-minded master of Squero Tramontin. It was a great pleasure to see Roberto talking about his profession and even more to see him working with Michele.
Michele Pulliero works as apprentice within Squero Tramontin. Michele is convinced that this is a way to maintain the Venetian tradition of artists. Michele studied art and then decided to apply his learnings and become a squerarolo – learning from and with Roberto. And producing beautiful pieces of art – Venetian gondolas.
Thanks to Adam for teaching the art of seeing and introducing to Roberto and Michele.
Michele chiuda © Monika Houck

Michele chiuda © Monika Houck

Discorso sul l'arte 3 © Monika Houck Insieme Roberto e Michele © Monika Houck Roberto spiega © Monika Houck Due artisti © Monika Houck Discorso sul l'arte 2 © Monika Houck Due maestri dell’ arte © Monika Houck Discorso sul l'arte © Monika Houck Il mano di Michele © Monika Houck Michele © Monika Houck

Please join me in congratulating Monika on her work and her continued effort to improve her photography.  It is never easy to step into someone’s space and make solid images, especially when it is someone we admire, like Roberto or Michele.  Until the next adventure…

Best-Adam Marelli 

]]> 2
Harry Benz Camera Strap: The B Strap Tue, 25 Nov 2014 00:12:56 +0000 adam [more...]]]> Harry Benz B Strap

Simple Solution for an age old problem 

Toronto Canada


Harry Benz B Strap with Slow Tools Bag © Adam Marelli

Harry Benz B Strap with Slow Tools Bag © Adam Marelli

Start from scratch

While most of the photography world wants to sell you on technology and features, Toronto-based designer Harald Benz is taking a different approach.  He is ok with camera companies duking it out over high ISO performance and cameras with more buttons than a nuclear reactor.  As each year elapses, photographers are no longer asking for more, they want less.  Less complications, less kinks and less things to go wrong.

Born out of his own desire for a better camera strap, Harry Benz set out to solve a few design problems that got in the way of his photography.  The aim was to create a camera strap that did its job so well, it went almost unnoticed.

The straps come in boxes which are individually stamped and signed by Harry.  Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

The straps come in boxes which are individually stamped and signed by Harry. Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

What did he fix?

Comedian George Carlin once complained that it was impossible for something to be both “New and Improved.”  He said it had to be one or the other…well in this case the idea is not exactly new…camera straps have been around as long as cameras, but it is certainly improved.  There were four major design faults that Harry wanted to improve:

Harry designed a cleaner connection to the body of the camera by eliminating the dog ears.  Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

Harry designed a cleaner connection to the body of the camera by eliminating the dog ears. Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

Dog Ears: In order to keep rings on a strap from scratching the camera, many companies use little flaps of leather called Dog Ears.  Over time the thin pieces of leather tend to fold over, sometimes they rip and look untidy, as Harry put it.  His goal was to eliminate the dog ears so there were no extra pieces on the strap and the rings would not scratch the camera.  His solution is a tapered piece of leather, hand stitched through the strap.  It creates a solid connection that will not fail over time.

The thickness of the strap eliminates the need for a shoulder strap.  Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

The thickness of the strap eliminates the need for a shoulder strap. Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

Shoulder Strap: The idea of a shoulder strap is nice, but the delivery leaves something to be desired.  Thin straps need a pad in order to wear comfortably over your shoulder.  Harry wanted to make a strap that was comfortable to wear over the shoulder without a pad.  By selecting a heavy water buffalo hide, the strap wears well with no additional padding.  By eliminating the strap, it can be easily wrapped around your wrist while you shoot.

Some of his early customers said, “But what if I want a shoulder pad?”  

He said, “Try it for two weeks, if you want one, I will make it.”

No one has come back for a shoulder pad.

Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

Split Rings: Selecting a split ring for a strap is not as easy as “getting the best one out there.”  Very strong, heavy duty split rings require pliers to open.  There is a balance between good metal properties and too difficult to use with your fingers.  Harry feels confident that his selection of stainless steel split rings strikes a happy balance.  (Ask photographer Brigit Krippner, whose silk strap recently gave way at the ring and sent her camera crashing to the sidewalk in Brooklyn.  Leicas look cool with wear, but not with a huge chunk missing from the body and a rangefinder mechanism that now needs servicing.)

By offering the strap in custom lengths it will always fit you perfectly.  Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

By offering the strap in custom lengths it will always fit you perfectly. Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

Water Buffalo Leather:  When Harry first explained the leather, he made special emphasis that it was water buffalo leather.  There are other options like Shell Cordovan or cow leather, but he did not feel they were right for a camera strap. Those leathers are soft and pliable, which works well for dress shoes and fine leather goods.  They also have a soft underside that can feel like molting toilet paper over time.

Harry also has experience making leather watch straps for Panerai and other brands, and he said that while water buffalo is too tough for a watch strap, it does not stretch nearly as much as other leathers with a camera hanging from it and found that it held up the best over time.

Custom Lengths:  We all come in different sizes which is why the straps can be cut to custom lengths.  For me, I like a strap to be short because I normally wrap it around my wrist.  When I need to put it across my chest, I like the strap to sit high, just under my arm.  But my strap length would not work for everyone.  Harry is sensitive to this and will cut it to any length you would like.

On location in Kyoto at a private temple and master plasterers.  Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

On location in Kyoto at a private temple and master plasterers. Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

From Sardegna to Kyoto

Harry asked me if I would try two of his straps and write a review.  I was on my way to Sardegna and four months later, I would be coming back from Japan.  The travels seemed like the perfect opportunity to see how well the B-Strap would do under my regular shooting conditions.  The strap went to the coastal towns of Sardegna, bell makers’ workshops in Japan and about 12,000 miles in between.  The strap became softer with use and worked so well, I almost forgot it was a new item.  The whereabouts of the other strap will be revealed in another article. Let’s say for now, that it has a proud new owner based in Luxembourg because I like to share with my follow photographers.

The wrist wrap as I normally carry the camera.  Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

The wrist wrap as I normally carry the camera. Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

Who is this strap designed for?

When picking any product, it’s helpful to understand who it is designed for, because the perfect maternity dress is not going to do you any good if you need a tuxedo.  The B Strap is for a photographer who enjoys the classics over fads, prefers to tell the bartender which gin to use in a G&T, and likes to pay a little more to avoid the hassles of a crowd while traveling.  This is the discerning client that Harry had in mind while he built this strap.

The box which will arrive at your home.  Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

The box which will arrive at your home. Harry Benz B Strap © Adam Marelli

As an added touch, Harry put his art direction background to use for the design of the box.  Each box is hand stamped and filled out by Harry himself.  If you would like to check out the B Strap and some of Harry’s other strap offerings, you can visit him here,

And you can read additional reviews on:

Best-Adam Marelli


]]> 6
Venice, through the eyes of a Writer, Mirsada Hadzic Thu, 20 Nov 2014 18:10:40 +0000 adam [more...]]]> Venice, through the eyes of a Writer

–Mirsada Hadzic

Until you meet again…


Venice © Mirsada Hadzic

Venice © Mirsada Hadzic

Adam’s Note

How can an experience be summarized in a single medium?  Whether it is the typewriter of Ernest Hemingway or the camera of Robert Capa…the feel of a city like Venice is difficult to capture in one medium.   No one has done it “best.”  Writers and photographers constantly look to each other for inspiration, even if they are not willing to admit it.  Why don’t they admit it?  Because inside of every image or every sentence lies a strength and a weakness.  There are some mediums that work better than others, but the balance of writing and photography is a scale that tips back and forth everyday.

Today, we will shift gears slightly and follow a writer’s experience of Venice.  Over the last two years, I have followed the musings of Mirsada Hadzic on Facebook and Instagram.   Through her words and small shots of Venice, she captures a sense of the city that is undeniable.  Aside from the regular heavy hitters of literature that have worked their way through Venice, I enjoy the delicate way that Mirsada responds to the city on a level that shows her ability to feel out the details and get a sense of place that many photographers struggle to achieve.  Hopefully this detour into the “World of Words” guides us one step closer to the moments that make a trip feel so intense.  Because there is nothing more reassuring than reading the words of a perfect stranger who is saying exactly what you feel.  Join me in welcoming the very shy and wonderfully talented Mirsada as she gives us a glimpse of her private love affair with Venice.  

–Adam Marelli

Venice © Mirsada Hadzic

Venice © Mirsada Hadzic

Until you meet again

It’s like the poet once said:“Only the images have long memory. Words tend to change their order.” All my attempts to write about Venice were futile. Images spoke louder. But when it comes to love, you need them both. Words and images. Falling in love with Venice changed my life. It changed me on a molecular level. Mixed my blood with sea water and my bones with stone and wood. Filled my eyes with liquid light. Something waited for me there. It summoned me. Hidden in a secret Morse code of words. Disguised in books. Present in a taste of wine. It’s impossible to explain love.

Venice © Mirsada Hadzic

Venice © Mirsada Hadzic

That is not a question of reason, but of heart. And the heart is stubborn and quiet when you need it to speak its mind. Still, it has one capital weakness, and that’s beauty. Beauty of a darkening sky, silver water, silent walls, secret gardens…Venice is a mystery. No matter how close you get it doesn’t reveal anything…at first. But, then, slowly, you find its traces in a winter sky, on the bottom of a wine glass, in the verse of a poem…rhymes of an hour. And then you want to see it again. You missed something that first time, and now you’ll listen more carefully; walk slowly, talk quietly and it won’t slip away. But it does. It’s in her nature to allure and seduce…but to remain a closed book. It’s almost impossible not to come back.

Venice © Mirsada Hadzic

Venice © Mirsada Hadzic

We were never strangers, Venice and I. I guess I’ve been there before. With Corto Maltese, Ernest Hemingway, Henry James, Marco Polo. I learned from them. How to listen, where to look, how to drink…They just couldn’t teach me how not to miss it once I left. And all the time I spent there all I wanted to do was to keep the streets empty for myself. I wanted to see its beauty without witnesses. I thought of Corto Maltese who travelled the world but always kept coming back to Venice. His sadness walked the streets by my side. Beautiful sadness. It remained in the corner of my eye. Never quite visible, but present. I saw its glimpse on the smooth black surface of a gondola passing by under the stone bridge. One blink of an eye and it’s gone. Gondola on its way to sleep. But not the sadness. She remains awake.

Venice © Mirsada Hadzic

Venice © Mirsada Hadzic

And a story of bridges…their impossible beauty. The way they take you deeper and deeper, across the streets covered with stone. And you wonder how it’s even possible that it’s still there. Against the laws of physics. Drowned world. Prisoner of water, but still a mistress. Equal to the sun. Made of illusions, dreams, sea water, stone, wood, words, lace…and like all beautiful things it can’t be defined. Once you walk into a secret, you can’t ever escape its magic. Lullaby of chandeliers behind iron gates and silver windows. Quiet lives of strangers. Nocturnal beauty of a moment of surrender. And you know you’ll wait. Until you meet again.

–Mirsada Hadzic

If you would like to follow more of Mirsada’s moments in Venice, find here Instagram feed here: 

]]> 4
Kyoto Genius Table with Adam Marelli, hosted by Leica Kyoto Wed, 12 Nov 2014 15:15:50 +0000 adam [more...]]]> Kyoto Genius Table, featuring Adam Marelli

Go-On x Kyoto City x Kyoto University

Hosted by Leica Kyoto


Kyoto Genius Table © Adam Marelli

Kyoto Genius Table © Adam Marelli

Genius Table

Collaborations are one of Kyoto’s strengths.  Their promotion of like minded artists and creatives from around the city is at the heart of Kyoto’s outward expansion.  At the front of this movement you will find the Go-On group (which means Big 5)  Nowadays you can find the craftsmen of the Go-On group featured at international exhibitions from London’s Victoria Albert Museum to Venice’s Biennale.  The craftsmen behind Go-On have blurred the lines between traditional craft and art as their cutting edge collaborations are carving out a new space in the creative worlds.  They understand that the best way to expand their programs is to join forces with international artists who share similar philosophies.

As a welcome to Kyoto, Go-On’s Ryo Kagami invited me to be a featured guest at the Kyoto Genius Table.  The Genius Table, which he designed for Kyoto City and Kyoto University, opens a dialogue between visiting creatives and the extensive network of professionals working in Kyoto.  I was honored to have earned an invitation with the work I am exhibiting at Leica Kyoto (opening Friday October 31, 2014.)

Leica Kyoto's unexpected interior © Adam Marelli

Leica Kyoto’s unexpected interior © Adam Marelli

A Love of Quality

Located on the second floor of Leica Kyoto, we were welcomed to a light dinner and an informal discussion where we could forget about titles, ranks, and accomplishments, and discuss the role of artistic collaboration as equals.  This is the “genius” of the Genius Table.

The faculty from Kyoto University wanted to better understand why Japanese craftsmen were a feature of my work and how my professional backgrounds in art, construction, and to a lesser extent Zen led to the development of the series.

We talked through the start of the project in all of its forms.  “Traces of a Lost Ceremony” has over fifty people involved in the production.  Until last year, when we took a formal inventory of all the moving parts, I would have guessed about twenty people made the project possible.  But after a thorough inventory, it was apparent that the project was much bigger than I expected.

While I was given fair warning by a number of people back in the US that “doing things in Japan” can be difficult, I found that when it comes to collaboration, maybe in contrast to setting up a business, everyone was amazingly helpful.  There were many steps that happened behind the scenes and only reached me after all of the kinks were ironed out.  It is a process I would love to see repeated in other locations, but I am not sure that is possible.  It might be uniquely Japanese.

Leica Kyoto Exhibition Announcement

Leica Kyoto Exhibition Announcement

The Student View

Present at the table were two students who are close to graduation.  They will head from Kyoto to Tokyo for work at the end of the Spring.  The migration to Tokyo for work is not uncommon, but the city of Kyoto would like to see that change.  With the resurgence in popularity of Japanese crafts, at home and abroad, artisanal houses are in need of business resources like accounting, marketing, and strategy.

The conversation took a detour, as we talked about the challenges that artisanal production faces in Japan and abroad.  It is something I have seen at Bellerby Globe in London, at Tramontin e Figli in Venice, and Merz b. Schwanen in Berlin.  High quality production is not enough for a workshop to survive.

Unlike the last thousand years of production, artisans are beginning to understand that in order for them to succeed, they need to focus on what they do best, which is create and work.  For all of the other parts, they can bring in more business oriented people to train inhouse.  This way, they can avoid the restructuring that comes with venture capital investment.

Newspaper article in Kyoto

Newspaper article in Kyoto

The Road Ahead

The future of Japanese craftsmen is unknown.  Like an animal species that made it off the endangered list, things are looking bright, but they are not entirely in the clear.  The global markets of Europe, Asia, and the Americas are promising, but there are many steps between here and complete success.

That being said, the road is no less certain for the artist.  We are all in the same boat.  In a fast paced world, focused on technology and the next best thing, the value of art and design objects will always appeal to a smaller audience.  The work we produce will never go head to head with a smart phone, but on the flip side, it will last a lot longer.  Throughout history, the objects that survive the pipeline of civilization are those pieces which concretize a moment in time by fusing the philosophy of an age with materials that will outlast their makers.

I’d like to thank Ryo Kagami, Kyoto City, Kyoto University, and my friends at Leica Kyoto for putting together such a wonderful discussion.  I look forward to watching it develop in the coming years.

Up next, coverage of the exhibition and pictures from the opening party.

Exhibition Opening: Tomada Tomizo, Tsukamoto Kazushige, Tsuji and Adam Marelli.  © Dirk Heyman

Exhibition Opening: Shunji Kamemura, Tomada Tomizo, Tsukamoto Kazushige, and Adam Marelli. © Dirk Heyman


Best-Adam Marelli



]]> 0
Leica Blog Interview with Adam Marelli Fri, 31 Oct 2014 01:30:58 +0000 adam [more...]]]> Leica Blog Interview with Adam Marelli

Leica Meet x Leica Camera

“Invisible City”

"Invisible City" Matera, Italy © Adam Marelli

“Invisible City” Matera, Italy © Adam Marelli

Cultural Photography

Back in April, I was introduced to the Leica Meet photography group.  Founder Olaf Willoughby brings together Leica photographers from Europe and the US to discuss, shoot, and explore the world with a camera.  Whether you are a professional or an enthusiast, Olaf’s aim was to create a place for people to share their experiences and skills with a larger community.

In collaboration with Leica Camera, Olaf created an interview series that looks at the photography projects as they develop.  He invited me to participate and share a single project.  After four months, thousands of miles of travel, and too many emails to count, we finally linked up and put together the interview on my recent project “Invisible City,” based in southern Italy.

Read the full interview on the Leica Blog below…and you guys know how social media works, if you like the interview, leave a comment or a few kind words, so Leica knows that you enjoy the material. 

I’d like to thank Leica Camera, Olaf Willhouby & Eileen McCarney Muldoon, Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, and the city of Matera for their work on this project.

Best-Adam Marelli


]]> 0