Archive for August, 2012
There is nothing like arriving at a new city or a new place for the first time and falling in love with it.
That’s what happened to Benjamin Colombel, an Art Director and Photographer from Paris, when he came to New York on a foggy night in May 2012. (I still remember the first day I arrived to New York to live in, even though it was 10 years ago. The images of 6th Ave on the night before New Year’s Eve are still fresh in my mind)
For Benjamin it was this extraordinary reflection of the light of Time Square on glassy buildings, the Empire State Building vanishing in the fog through the sunroof of the car… It was such a fresh and unique feeling which continues for the next day when he woke up early just to see life slowly rising in the Lower East Side.
I sort of ‘discovered’ Benjamin through Greg Finck, a friend of mine who lives in Paris, and was also featured on my blog. I think Greg made a comment about one of Ben’s images of New York and it showed up in my facebook feed.
But before I continue, I have a confession to make; I LOVE looking at pictures of my colleagues photographers who come to my city for their first time. They look at things different from the locals do and they want to grab any piece of information in their lens. (That’s what happens to me when I visit Paris). Ben (who easily fits my ‘Frenchman in New York’ thing) was here in a very foggy rainy week in May, and the way he captured the city was very misty. The more I looked at his New York pictures, the more I wanted to see other places he has been to and shot. I must admit that some of his other albums made me want to book a flight and go. He has that talent to look at the little things and objects in a way that makes you want to know more, and yet, you kind of understand the feeling he was trying to convey.
For me, I just wait for the opportunity to shoot New York with him next time he is visiting.
Where are you from? I’m from Quimper, a small town in Brittany, France. Near the sea. That’s where I started to appreciate beautiful images. Landscapes are so wonderful there.
Where did you study graphic design? At first I learned by myself. Graphic design is definitely not something that you learn on the bench of a business school. But after a couple of years as a project manager in advertising (after my business degree) I made the best decision of my life. I applied for a graphic design school in Sydney called Billy Blue. I was directly enrolled for the bachelor degree, I was exhilarated ! It was an amazing school with people from all over the world and an amazing education, so different from the French system . That’s where I learned to think differently. Since then I’m highly motivated in whatever I’m doing in this field !
What made you want to learn it? It’s the combination of multiple factors but I guess as I’m a fan of music since my childhood, I always wondered how the album cover were made. As a teenager I used to spend so many afternoons, trying to figure how they were executed. And what I really loved while I was in my graphic design school was to get all the answers to the questions I had during this period. I’m really into technique and still spend a lot of time learning.
If you weren’t an art director/graphic designer, what would you do? I prefer not to think about that. I would probably be highly depressed, held in a madhouse, screaming…
Where do you get your inspiration from? What I love the most is to find time to stay on a bench and watch people. Hear what they say, see how they look, how they move. I could do that for hours. Spending time with my friends is also highly inspirational. I’m really lucky to be amazingly well surrounded. And when I’m not with people I bury myself in my office with my books and one of my best friend … the Internet !
What do you mostly love shooting? As an art director, my day-to-day work is to conceive projects with very narrow boundaries. Everything has to be planned. Photography is my balance to that, I love to shoot the unexpected !
How do you usually approach a new project? If I’m not catching the unexpected, I would say that it’s a long process. I’m really critical in general but it’s nothing compared to how I can be critical about myself, my ideas, my work. I’m my worst client. That’s why I tend to think that photography is a quest to help me find who I really am deep inside. But I realized that the process is pretty long.
What are you working on right now? I have many projects in art direction and also working on some videos (one of my new passion). In matter of photography, I have several ideas right now that may be more conceptual than usual. All I need is to find some time. And I will never give up on travel photography. I’m sure all the readers of this blog can guess why? Argentina might be my next destination. Scoop!
Window or Aisle? Can we say both ? I’m always doing the splits between dream and reality.
I’m really honored to be featured again in one of my favorite and inspiring blogs, Design Sponge.
I met Amy for coffee the other day, just before I headed for a shoot. When I told her about my new photography sessions ‘New Yorker for a Day’ that I am now offering for tourists and others, she loved the idea and wanted to know more about it.
To read the full article, please click here.
Thanks Amy and Grace!
A few weeks ago I had a semi-argument with my mom in which she said I was addicted to Airport terminals and the act of traveling.
While I tried to explain to her that traveling is part of my job and actually part of who I am as a human being, I had to think about it more; (Jewish mothers are always right)
Am I really addicted to Airports? (well, addiction runs in the family)
Can’t I really sit still in one place and need to wander? (I was always the ‘curious cat’)
What is it in the ‘act’ of traveling that makes me happy to the point that I always want more? (I often plan my next travel before the current one really ends)
Not to mention, the urge to take pictures and look at the reality in front of me, fit into a frame.
Was it a coincidence or not, but A few days after my conversation with my mom, a friend of mine got me the book ‘The Art of Travel’ by the philosopher Alain de Botton, and I dwelled into it. The book is not a typical Travel book that suggests its readers where to go, but it is more a philosophical one, that brings up questions of WHY we travel and WHAT do we get out of this experience. Alain de Botton keeps reminding the readers that travel is a learning experience and if we be open and use all of our senses, than we be well rewarded and so our travel experience.
“…Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places. Introspective reflections which are liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape. The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is supposed to do.
At the end of hours of train-dreaming, we may feel we have been returned to ourselves – that is, brought back into contact with emotions and ideas of importance to us. It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestic setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, but who may not be who we essentially are.
If we find poetry in the service station and motel, if we are drawn to the airport or train carriage, it is perhaps because, in spite of their architectural compromises and discomforts, in spite of their garish colours and harsh lighting, we implicitly feel that these isolated places offer us a material setting for an alternative to the selfish ease, the habits and confinement of the ordinary, rooted world…”
The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton
As I’m still reading de Botton’s book, I came across another travel essay, that was on point with how I feel when I travel. If I ever need to justify myself in any future argument, the essay ‘Why we Travel’ by the philosopher Pico Iyer, will be a winning case.
“…We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again—to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more. The beauty of this whole process was best described, perhaps, before people even took to frequent flying…”
While each of us has his own reasons to travel, here are some of mine;
Pro Photo Daily is run and managed by David Schonauer, and it is all about ‘Inspirational work and insightful news and opinions’ regarding photography.
I met David on July 3rd. While half the New Yorkers were fleeting the city to go for a holiday, I found David working quite around the clock in his midtown office. The initial meeting was actually to show him some of my work from Buenos Aires, but while I was showing him my portfolio, he got curious about my laundry images I took. I found myself telling him more about my on going project ‘Intimacy under the Wires’ and David got intrigued. One thing led to another and David suggested to write about it in the blog.
To read the full article, please check this link.
Thanks David for this great opportunity.
Calvin Kelin’s provocative billboards do not cease to amaze me. The picture above was the first one I took. I was so impressed!
Maybe because of the size of the ad, maybe because of the daring look on the models’ face, or because they looked so real; like they were watching us, the people in the street, watching them… or maybe because I loved how the backdrop of Manhattan, north of Houston street, worked well with that ad.
Since that day, every time I get off at Broadway and Lafayette subway station, the first thing I do is look up at the Calvin Klein’s ad and see what’s up. No doubt the sultry billboards on the corner of Houston and Crosby street, a series of Calvin Klein ads, have raised some eyebrows even for a city that has seen it all.
And this is no wonder; Calvin Klein has a long history of advertisements that push the envelope. It started way back in the 1980 to when nothing came between the 15 years old Brooke Shields and her Calvins, continued with the ‘heroin chic’ look back in the 1990s with strung-out-looking models, complete with pale skin and dark circles under their eyes and continued with Eva Mendes in sexy lingerie, pulling a boxer brief of a studly looking guy.
For someone who is coming from the advertising world, I must admit that Yes, advertising DOES work!
At least for us. Because right after I saw that Eva Mendes ad, I went straight to the nearest Calvin Klein store in Soho, to get myself those black panties and bra.
Those huge billboards have become a common view on that corner. They fit well with the nature of New York; daring, provocative, sexy, hot. Since that first time I saw those ads, I keep coming back. And every time I get off at Broadway Lafayette, I have to take a picture. Because there is always something to look at.
A major part of my traveling is connecting with local photographers and shoot with them in their local playground.
There is no better way (for me) to discover a new place, but through photography. It is even better when I do it with a local photographer; Someone who knows the best locations to shoot, the right hours for a sunrise or a sunset, the most photogenic areas of the city, the secret and hidden places and how to avoid the touristic traps. And when someone is visiting New York, I’m always happy to show him around, taking him to all my favorite places.
This collection of images is from different locations in the world. Some of the photographers I met randomly and stayed in touch, with some I know I will shoot again in the near future. With some, it was just a one-timer. Some serve as mentors, some serve as colleagues or friends. But they are all serve as a great talent with tons of inspiration.
Polly, a destination marketer of Easy Jet Holidays, has sent me few questions to answers and asked for some of my favorite Polaroids, which was not that easy to choose. I loved her questions, especially how did it all started and what have been my travel highlights of this project and why. To read all the answers and see which was the first images that started all of that, please read the full article on-line.
‘When I take a really good picture that tells a story, it can really make my day!’
…So here is the story of how I met Adi….
I took this random shot (above) while visiting Tel Aviv on September 2011. It was also when JR, the French artist, visited Tel Aviv, during the social demonstrations and ran the Time is Now project in Israel. I was taking part in this project and had my picture taken, as well as documenting others…When I uploaded the above image on my facebook page, some of my friends recognized Adi (third from left) and tagged him on my photo. I got quite curious to know who was that guy that everyone is talking about, so I sent him a message.
The next week we met somewhere in Tel Aviv and we went shooting together. I see Adi as a magician with everything that has to do with Art and photography.
He is not afraid of experimenting different techniques, colors and angles. His bold, creative and limitless personality reflects very well in the images he produces. (I think you will sense his personality through the answers below). For this interview, I chose a series of images Adi took while he was visiting Tel Aviv last year. I was drawn to the way he captures the night scene and to the way he masters the balance between light and darkness, mostly because I don’t do it quite often.
So sit back and relax because you are about to discover who Adi is. And it sometimes seems as few people in the body of one, Adida Fallen Angel
Where are you from? I was born in Tel-Aviv, Israel on a rainy chilled day at the end of October 1975.
Where did you study graphic design and photography? I studied Multimedia Production at the SAE (Sound Audio Engineering & Multimedia) college in Rotterdam from 2000 – 2002, the studio was mainly into graphic design and 3D animation with touches of video productions, illustrations and web deign and programming, I picked up still photography more seriously when I left the Netherlands at 2008.
What made you want to learn it? I tried many things in my life but two things never left my heart and that was music and arts, I wanted to study something that will help me express myself better and also earn a living. I found out that I am not so good with numbers and words but when it comes to shapes and colors I felt at home, so I picked out the best field for me.
If you weren’t a graphic designer/photographer what would you do? I would be a musician, o wait…I AM ONE!!! win win for me.
Where do you get your inspiration from? O god, good question, basically everything I see when my eyes are closed and what I hear when I am in total silence. If we want specifics then I would pinpoint 3 things, The internet, documentaries and music, specially music.
What do you mostly love shooting? Ummm.. I don’t think I have a favorite genre but I do know I really don’t like to shoot events, like weddings or rock shows or anything with tons of people and even more photographers than air particles. I used to be really afraid shooting people but lately I am falling in love with the humans, I’m also getting really into massive productions where I can really control everything and get a shot that will be as close as possible to the image in my mind.
How do you usually approach a new project? With a smile and a bucket of skills and imagination!
If it’s for me I will spend endless hours until I get exactly what I want (the curse and beauty of being a perfectionist!), If it’s for a client I will spend hours before figuring out how to make the project shine like the sun then I will come with exactly the opposite and let everything happen on the spot, I am a big fan of the magic of the moment and always aim to reach truth within the shot itself, it also demand to have fun while shooting, otherwise it’s just work and I HATE WORK!
What are you working on right now? I just finished a massive art installation in a big streetart gallery in Montreal called Fresh Paint, it is by far my biggest and most complex art piece to date, it took a whole Month to build and sucked tons of energy out of me, it’s pretty amazing if you ask me, beside that I have another exhibition coming up next month where I will show new paintings and drawings, I am also very close to finish my band’s (Spoonlicker) first album which we are working on for a couple of years, very excited about that. Got shoots and little art project in the air and hopefully figure out how to pay my rent this end of the month because sadly I am not the greatest business man! I need a manger, hint hint!!!
Window or Aisle? Window, I insist!!!
Anything to add? Yes, I want to thank you for reading and taking the time to embrace my art/heart, inspiration is very important to me and I feel I need to share as much as I take in, being a part of a cycle that moves around sounds and sights is why we are all here, got to keep the wheel spinning, so thank you.