Valentine’s Day is this weekend, and in honor of the holiday, I thought I would share with you some of my all time loves.
Photographers whose work I love:
- Lillian Bassman (fashion). Beautiful black and white artistry.
- Garry Winogrand (street photographer). The godfather of street photography.
- Robert Frank (street photographer)
- Sally Mann (portraiture)
- Helen Levitt (street photographer)
- Jodi Cobb (National Geographic photographer, great series on geishas)
- Saul Leiter (street photographer)
- Guy Bourdin (fashion)
- Sarah Moon (fashion)
- Diane Arbus (portraiture)
Camera equipment I love:
- Canon 5D Mark III in-camera double exposure feature. When I found out that the Canon 5D Mark III had this magical power, I simply had to have the camera. I’m not a gadget girl per se, but I love playing with this feature. Of course, the best double exposures are created by hand in Photoshop, but this is still fun. It’s like using an old-school Holga film camera, but getting to see the results immediately.
- Canon 24-70mm lens. This is the workhorse lens that I bring with me everywhere. It covers every angle, from wide to telephoto, and works in just about every situation.
- 50mm lens. This lens sees the world approximately the same way your eye does, so you can capture memories exactly as you saw them. My 50mm lens is a 1.8 macro, so I can use it to get up close and personal with subjects.
- My new Macbook Pro. I got my new laptop over Christmas, and boy what a difference it makes. I wish it was as large as my old 17-inch Macbook (size matters when you are using the laptop to watch TV), but it is so much faster for processing edits.
- Hakuba memory card cases. I used Gepe card cases previously, but they are difficult to open and it is a struggle to pry out the cards. It’s a little thing, but these Hakuba cases are lightweight and easy to open.
And I’m learning to love external lights for portrait sessions. I normally just use on camera flash bounced off the ceiling or wall, but I would love to work do more shoots in a studio setting this year where I can be master of my domain, lighting-wise.
Places in New York City where I love to shoot:
- Pell Street in Chinatown. When I think about Chinatown – and I’m talking neon signs in Chinese overhead with swinging lanterns that transport you to 1940s Beijing – this is where I go. The Nom Wah Tea Parlor is located at the corner of Doyers and Pell and has got atmosphere in spades. Personally, however, I can’t recommend the dim sum here. I’ve been twice and it’s just over priced meh, though perhaps worth the extra dollar for ambience.
- Coney Island. This place is still magical to me each and every time I visit. I cannot get enough of the dilapidated charm of this place. Also, Nathan’s corndogs.
- South Street Seaport area. This is the oldest part of NYC, and the neighborhood’s cobblestone streets retain the old charm. Plus, there are lots of graffiti around if you want a more gritty atmosphere. In the areas where I shoot, there are never any tourists to get in the way. Oh, and did I mention the fantastic view of the Brooklyn Bridge?
- Gantry Plaza State Park. Waterfront + NYC skyline + ancient relics from the old New York docks + a wee bit of greenery in the corner of the park = great photos, no matter the subject
- Times Square. Still the best place in NYC for photos of unsuspecting tourists
Places I love to visit when not in NYC:
- Sarasota, Florida. Last year my mom and I took an overnight trip to Sarasota. I’ve been to the city before, but this time we did more than the usual tourist traps. There are lots of cultural places to visit, and they have a fantastic tiki bar that hasn’t changed since the 50s – the infamous Bahi Hut.
- Highlands, North Carolina. My cousins live here, and my family has been visiting this area since I was born. When I need to get away from the city and escape to the silence of the forest, this is where I go.
- Paris. My favorite city in the world. I’ve been three times, and would love to go back again and just sit in a cafe, watching the world go by.
- Kyoto. One of my all-time favorite trips was a trip I took on my own to Japan in 2004. The trip really started my photography career, and one of the photos I took there of a geisha remains my favorite photo of all time.
- Budapest. In 2002 (I think???) I took a trip to Copenhagen, Prague, and Budapest. It was a fantastic trip, but what stuck with me were all of these hidden caves within the mountainside. In one such cave there was a chapel. As a kid I always loved discovering hidden places, and this trip brought me back to my childhood.
Places I would love to visit:
- Easter Island. Does anyone remember the old TV show ‘In Search Of’ with Leonard Nimoy? It was on in the 70s – my childhood – and there was an episode on the mysterious statues of Easter Island. Well, I’ve been fascinated ever since and would love to visit.
- Turkey. Specifically, the cave homes of Cappadocia. See Budapest above.
- Japan. I have already been to Tokyo, Kyoto, and the surrounding area, but I would love to go back and see more of the country, specifically Kyushu and Shikoku.
- Newport, Rhode Island. Maybe it’s the fact that Downton Abbey is ending, but I have always wanted to visit Newport and see the grand mansions.
- Memphis, Tennessee. My aunt and uncle lived in Knoxville, and I’ve been to See Rock City several times, but I would love to go back and see Memphis, which I have never visited. A trip to Graceland and a side trip to Nashville are definitely in order.
Photo publications I love to read:
- SLR Lounge. I try to keep up on the latest photography news by reading an article a day. Some days that happens, and some days it doesn’t. The SLR articles are always useful and worth my time. The publication has a lot of good tutorials and DIY tips.
- Feature Shoot. This is my weekly dose of photographic art. I am trying to be disciplined enough to visit NYC photo galleries on a regular basis, and this blog keeps me updated on what is popular in the fine art world.
- Wedding Wire. Industry-specific photography marketing news that you can use.
- Photo District News (PDN). I often don’t read the monthly magazine until several months after the publication, but I always find the information useful. I especially like how each issue is dedicated to a specific brand of photography: portraiture, fine art, wedding, etc.
- Professional Photographer and Rangefinder. These are the official publications for the Professional Photographers of America and WPPI, respectively. These magazines have the best business-related photography information out there. I enjoy reading about fine art and technique, but sometimes you need help with getting clients in the door and promoting your brand. These are the magazines for getting business done.
Others: A Photo Editor (blog geared more towards editorial photographers, but great information nonetheless), PhotoShelter guides (great information, though I feel guilty that I have never used one of their website templates), Chris Jarvis’ blog.
Photo projects I would love to do this year:
- Year-long photo essay focused on one person or a group of people/performers. In the past I have photographed a student model club in the Bronx and a Bette Midler impersonator in Staten Island. I want to find out what makes someone tick and get to know the person(s) through the lens. The trick is finding the right person. Suggestions?
- One place, 365 days. There is a street photographer who has been focused on the eccentric pedestrians passing by the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue. The concept of taking one place and photographing how it changes over time intrigues me.
- Double exposure series. If you have seen the opening credits of HBO’s True Detective, then you know what double exposure looks like. Double exposure has always been out there in photography, but now it is being taken to an all-new artistic level. Most of my fine art photography work deals with transformation, and this is a technique that is all about transforming two separate photos into an entirely different form of matter.
- Creating photo jewelry. Years ago I purchased a necklace at the Union Square Christmas market that had a tiny photo in the charm. I would love to start making these charms with my own photos.
- Putting together a book of my photography. I have a few ongoing series that I would like to put together into a book, if for no other reason than it makes me focus on organizing these photos. Last year I took tons of photos of county fairs in Florida, and I have all of these photos that I need to edit.
Photos I love (not my own):
- Woman swimming, by Toni Frissell. Totally mystery. What’s this woman doing floating in a dress?
- Woman walking in Times Square, by Lillian Bassman. Black and white fashion photography made nearly abstract.
- Child smoking cigarette, by Sally Mann. Again, the mystery: where are the parents? In this case, behind the camera. Also, Sally Mann’s shallow depth of field is beautiful.
- Untitled #6, by Diane Arbus. Diane Arbus always gravitated towards those on the fringe of society, but her photos showed a fascination, never a disdain, for her subject.
- Couple carrying two chimps, by Garry Winogrand. One simple push of the shutter button, but this photo says so much about society.
Photos I love (all mine!):
Double exposure of a geisha. When I was in Kyoto, the film loader in my camera — a Canon AL-1 — got stuck. Over a dinner of kaiseki dinner in my ryokan, I carefully tried to fix the damn thing being sure not to damage the in-camera roll of film that was only halfway finished . In doing so, I rewound the film. The happy accident was this portrait of a geisha double exposed on a separate photo of temple sweepers.
Street lights in Nara, Japan. Same trip. No color filters, no tinting. This is just how the street looked.
Heel on thigh. One of the first photos I ever took for a class at SVA.
Monkey skeleton. From a portrait series I did of skeletons in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
Street rage. A shot I snapped on the streets of NYC in 2010 or so. Fellow New Yorkers, haven’t we all felt like this?
Chincoteague landscape. A shot from a road trip I took to Chincoteague Island, where they have wild horses (the tiny things in the far left of the horizon).
Path train spotlight. I lived in Newark, New Jersey for a year and a half, and this photo was the only good thing to come out of my time living there.
Skyscraper bird. Random shot, but I like it.
Coney Island roller coaster. I took this photo last year with my phone, and it is of one of the new roller coasters in Coney Island.
Kid with Cupcake. Total serendipity that I clicked the shutter when this cute kid (and dog) asked for a cupcake. Taken during a family portrait last year.
Things I love to do when I don’t have a camera in my hand:
- Visit museums and galleries. I’m always looking for inspiration on other people’s walls.
- Play tourist. I love to pick a place I haven’t been, and just wander around. With the power of Google maps, no one ever gets lost.
- Make things. Secret confession: I am nuts about crafting. I love making jewelry – usually necklaces, broaches, and earrings – but I would love to learn how to make shoes. (Can you imagine making your own high heels?) One day my dream apartment will appear – complete with crafting suite – and I will have room to finally bring home mom’s sewing machine and start making clothes.
- Watch slightly trashy TV. For almost every hour of the day, I am sitting in front of one laptop working, with TV streaming through my second laptop. Some people listen to music while they work, I type along to the sounds of Project Runway (yes, I have seen every episode and personally I think the show has jumped the shark, but oh well). Other TV I am loving right now: The Americans, The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth, The Good Wife, and Face Off.
- Water my plants. I love to grow things, though with winter upon us, it is a constant battle to keep my plants from succumbing to the radiator of death. The heat kills off half of my plants annually. I love tropical plants, owing to my Florida roots, but the plants do not love the conditions in my apartment.
Movies I love:
- The Conversation. Gene Hackman at his best
- Blade Runner. The original version
- Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. The best Jones film out there, though Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade runs a close second.
- Fight Club. I never thought I would love a Brad Pitt film, but there it is.
- The Night Porter. Not for the faint of heart, but Charlotte Rampling is great in it.
Others: Heist (again, Gene Hackman) and Les Diaboliques (in the original French)
Websites I love to waste time on:
- Gawker. I am not a fan of the writers so much as the comments section after the articles. Also, they have a lot of NYC-focused articles.
- Politico. I’m a political news junkie, and this is my online crack feed.
- New York Magazine. New York based and loving it. Excellent profiles of people. I hate that the writers are Bernie haters. Best site to go to for photos of awards show fashion.
- Gothamist. New York focused. This is where I get most of my local news, including the information that my local Barnes and Noble is going to be taken over by a specialty Target and that restaurant row in Forest Hills is going to be bulldozed for a condo. Not happy about either turn of events.
- The Guardian. One of the best papers, period. I was up until 3am reading their to-the-minute coverage of the Iowa caucus polls. So exciting!
- The Atlantic. Great articles on topics from everything political to scientific. I save tons of articles and read them later on my Pocket app.
- Lainey Gossip. Hollywood gossip with an insider’s view. Lainey has an acerbic wit, and she and her writers call celebrities on their crap.
- Lifehacker. Some really good tips here, though I can’t say I read the publication on a daily basis. It’s like Ted Talks: I know it’s good information, but I don’t read it often enough.
- The Glamorous Housewife. I love this site, though the content-based ads are starting to get to me. All things crafty, fashion, and food-related through the mind of a modern 50s housewife.
Well, there you have it: me, summed up in a couple of lists. There is more out there, but that’s for another blog. What about you? What do you like? Any recommendations for TV shows or photo projects?
If you would like to see more examples of my work, or to find out more about what makes this NYC photographer tick, please visit my website.