It always amazes me that a concept or idea, when enough people get behind it, becomes an awe-inspiring reality. My good friend and respected colleague Kevin Michael Reed, asked me to join just such an idea. It took me a few weeks before I was able to fully understand how extraordinary this idea really is, as it comes from the genuine support of fellow artists doing what they believe in. As in any successful community, celebrating each of our differences makes us stronger as a whole.
So let’s get started!
First I would like to introduce and celebrate Kevin Michael Reed, the artist that invited me to the tour. www.kevinmichaelreed.com
Kevin is an award winning fashion photographer and cinematographer; most recently his film ANDROGYNY is now an Official Selection in the Chelsea Indie Film Festival! November 20th in Chelsea NY. (That’s now THREE film festivals that this film has been selected for!)
I’ve known Kevin for about 3 years-we met as new members of the ASMPNY Board. It’s been an amazing journey since. Kevin is talented beyond words. Whatever he creates is truly a work of art, a style that is unique and precious. Over the past year he has been dedicated and focused to take his work to new levels, including a step into the realm of video story-telling. The word “admire” is no-where near what his work has inspired in me, but his dedication and focus demonstrate that perseverance, passion and hard work can surely make dreams come true. I wish nothing but success to this talented artist and thank him for taking me on this Virtual Blog Tour!
The next part of the virtual blog tour is a self interview.
I’ve been a professional photographer since 2006-a second career if you will. Through exploration, I have found that I am drawn in 2 directions: Documentary and Architectural Photography. I thought these 2 were diametrically opposed, but the more I delve into each I find they are more and more connected. The beauty of this journey is never over. However the work I do for myself, the documentary story telling, is where I find myself heading more and more. There is so much to discover/uncover/explore that as my confidence grows I am willing to take greater risks to tell the story unfolding in front of me.
1. What am I currently working on?
I currently have 3 projects on deck.
- The Summer Solstice Project, celebrating summer in NYC.
- NYC Strength celebrating the men and women that work behind the scenes rebuilding our city infrastructure.
- The Domino Sugar Factory; a beautiful old building that will be luxury condominiums within the next few years.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I find that I am really intrigued by history. When I look through the lens I am capturing a current moment in time, but feel the layers of history that make the circle complete as I stand on that spot wherever it may be. Before I can complete a story-tell it to its fullest, I need to understand historically what has happened up until that point in time. The further back I can get, the more interesting the project becomes.
3. Why do I create what I do?
As much fun as it is to use new hardware and software, I find the simplicity of a manual camera (where I hear the film advance each time I shoot a frame) gives me the most satisfaction as an artist. I embrace the adventure of life and want to share it with the world. There is so much to discover in my own “back yard”; this is where I currently keep my focus.
4. How does my creative process work?
I hear something in the news or in conversation. If it has an interesting twist, I’ll put the date on my calendar. This has become more and more how I approach project. If I have missed the opportunity in the current year, onto the calendar it goes for the following. This has been successful for a few of my recent stories: Elephants heading to Madison Square Garden or Coney Island Polar Bear Swim to name a few.
Last summer after reading an article in the New York Times about Broad Channel being one of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Sandy, I visited the Rockaway’s multiple times to understand the destruction of that community and how they were rebuilding.
I’ll shoot rolls and rolls of Tri-X when I’m out exploring. Then it’s off to the lab for developing. From there I scan every negative. Depending on what I see on the contact sheet will determine the size of the final project/story. If I feel that what I have is incomplete for the story, I’ll go back and shoot a second or third time. When I started the Summer Solstice Project I was surprised to see 7 years of images in my archives of negatives. Once the frames are chosen for the project, the “digital dark room” edits begin. From there it’s finalizing the images and creating the flow for the story.
Three More Artists
I met Gail a few years ago through ASMP; she is a National Board Member. She is incredibly talented as well as supportive for the Photographic Community both with education and artistic rights.
Gail along with her partner Thomas Kelly, run Kelly/Mooney Productions, a visual communications company in New Jersey. Gail has 30 years of experience in still photography, shooting for international magazines, major corporations and advertising agencies. Gail started shooting 35mm motion footage for stock in 1996, and in 1999 started producing and shooting video projects. Since then, her company has become fully integrated with multi-media. She has also produced three short documentaries: Freedom’s Ride – a story about two diverse groups of high school students retracing the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, The Delta Blues Musicians and Through the Hearts and Hands of Children – a film about the New Jersey Youth Symphony.
Gail sees many opportunities for still shooters to expand into video and feels that this is just the beginning of how technology will transform how we, as visual communicators will deliver our message in the future.
I learned about Mitch through my work with WEEKS Marine. My research into how the Rivers and Harbor of NYC impact the environment and economy, brought me to Mitch. He is passionate about his Creek; he keeps us updated on a regular basis and speaks out on behalf of the area.
Mitch Waxman was raised in Brooklyn, attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, and worked for many years as a comic book writer and artist. He also worked in advertising production and as a photo retouching specialist for several advertising agencies. He has always had a certain fascination with historical material.
After a health scare several years ago, medical personnel advised him that he should start running to improve his health. Having grown up, as aforementioned, in Brooklyn – Mitch cannot run unless something is chasing him so he began to walk the earth and brought the camera along to keep things interesting. Soon, he found the occluded reality of the Newtown Creek and hasn’t left the place since.
Mitch started the Newtown Pentacle website in 2009 to document his adventures along the Newtown Creek(and in the greater harbor and city beyond). He has served the City of New York as a Parade Marshall three times, has been named the Newtown Creek Alliance’s group historian, is a Steering Committee member of the Working Harbor Committee, and offers regular walking, bus and boat tours of the Newtown Creek Watershed. He resides in Astoria, Queens, with his wife Catherine and their little dog.
His photography and unique point of view have attracted no small amount of attention, and Mitch has appeared in several documentaries about the Creek and is often quoted in news articles about the subject.
Frank Rocco (http://frankrocco.com) & Barry Rosenthal (http://barryrosenthal.com)
Both of these men do not have blogs, but I think are totally worth sharing with you. Both are dedicated artists; they set their sights to make things happen. And they have inspired me with their passion, vision and focus.
Frank is the President of ASMPNY and puts his heart and soul into making sure that the photographic community has current information-education to keep members abreast of the ever changing business. He is a talented Fashion Photographer, and balances his time between his work and the organization.
Barry is a fine art photographer that focuses his work on “found trash”. He stayed the course with his art, and began showing in galleries. From there his work continued on a path where more and more people became aware of his vision. He has been on the cover of National Geographic, featured in the New York Times, and continues a journey to greater and greater success.
Until next time.
adventure is life, live it! ®