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Posts Tagged ‘Personal Work’

Now, I know for a fact that not every reader of this here blog is a starving artist or commercial photographer. No, some of you have regular jobs with employers like a big soulless corporation or New York State. And as I imagine you sitting in your penthouses, country estates and castles, contemplating your next fur coat or stretch limousine, I’m wondering why you don’t hold off on that Beverly Hills mansion and give the $85.000.000 that you saved to Claudia Hehr?

Claudia Hehr, as you might remember, graced the pages of The Heavy Light once before and has another interesting project in the pipeline. This time she wants to photograph the orphans of the Good Hope Center in Tanzania and document the work of Artists for World Peace, which is not Ron Artest‘s new name, but a non-profit that works with above mentioned orphans. And for this she needs your help.

To find out more about the project, see a video interview with Claudia, and donate the $85.000.000 go to

http://www.indiegogo.com/claudiahehr

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Some of the regular highlights of my New York existence are the amateur soccer games I play in Chinatown. Some fellow kickers and I started to get together quite a long time ago for a midweek pick-up game on a 7 a side pitch at the edge of Barrio Chino. The game proved to be very robust and survived the cold winters, hot summers, stretches of low popularity, stretches of too much popularity, and many personnel changes for over a decade now. Even though soccer has its fair share of whiners, complainers, braggers, spoiled brats, bullies, people teetering dangerously close to sanity, as well as people that are all of the above, we managed to keep the game clean, competitive, friendly and fair.

Out of this pick-up game a weekend league named Groupstage evolved thanks to the efforts of Matt

and Tomas.

Matt and I have been bouncing the idea of a photo shoot around for quite a while, partly to promote his league, partly to promote my business, but also to do something creative with people we like to hang around with. As a matter of fact we’ve been talking about it for so long that it got kind of embarrassing. So this November I finally got my derriere in gear and picked a date for the shoot. Production becomes much easier with a deadline.

I started off with a location scout. The shoot had to be on a weekend or an evening when people would have a bit more time, and I don’t really like working in the evening, since then’s when I do my deep thinking. Field time on weekends is at a premium with tons of leagues competing for space. We decided on a field in Brooklyn that had good turf and was big enough to claim a corner for the shoot even while people were playing. Since the budget was midgety and since I’m still a bit confused about the (not so)new NYC permit process I decided to chance it and shoot permission free.

Since I was going to take action shots, flash sync speed became an issue. I normally shoot with a RZ67 with a 1/400 sync speed. I usually like to get a little blur, since I’m kind of bored with all the full freeze shots out there (if you can’t do something, it’s usually best to pretend that you wouldn’t want to do it anyway), but at that speed (1/400th that is) it’s sometimes hard to get just the right amount of movement. My pal and fellow photographer Juergen Frank was nice enough to loan me his Phase One 645 body and I rented a new Schneider lens with a sync speed of 1/1600. Beside the lens I rented a Profoto 7b with 2 heads (in addition to the 2 packs and 4 heads that I have), and a ton of sandbags. The rentals this time came from Nucleus in Red Hook.

The right amount of blur.

I worked with Chris as my one and only assistant and we set up a grey muslin backdrop that I had stuck in the dryer twice and ironed (!) the night before just to decide that we didn’t really like the grey for this set-up. Emotionally it was hard for me to let go, since I really don’t like ironing, but eventually I agreed with Chris and we put up a black cloth.

The next problem was surprisingly sync speed. Even though the lens can handle 1/1600, we could only get it to work properly at 1/800th. I’m still not sure why. One theory is that the radio slaves wouldn’t work that fast, but if anybody can think of another explanation, let me know. Luckily 1/800th gave me just the bit of blur I was looking for, so whew.

Bad backdrop, bad sync, good assistant.


Between these two issues we were still in a bit of a scramble by the time the first player showed up. Fortunately nothing else went wrong and we could start to concentrate on taking pictures. I set up 2 cameras, the 645 with the 110 mm and a Phase One P45+ at a distance for the action shots and full portraits and the RZ with a 90mm and my own P25 for close-ups. The RZ is a beautiful camera for tight portrait work and it cut down on time for lens changes.

Shooting action with an unfamiliar camera proved also to be not so easy. The shutter release point was way further back than in the RZ and the ball was often already in the fence when I took the shot. There was definitely a larger than usual blooper reel:

For lighting we set up 2 7B packs with 4 heads with regular reflectors from the front and the sides. We had another 7B with 2 heads coming from behind the models from each side and there was also a bit of sunshine from high and right.

The postproduction was minimal except for darkening the backdrop, and dealing with a bit of glare we sometimes got from the backlights, because the players didn’t always end up in the same place, and removing the shadow of a light or two on the floor, and cropping, and sexyfying the color, contrast and saturation a bit.

au naturel

a la vogue

If you’re thinking about joining a league in New York and playing against some of these handsome devils here, you might want to check out Groupstage.

If you want to read a roaming, eclectic, soccer-inspired blog, with league news thrown in for good measure, check out the Groupstage Blog.

If you want to read ( and I mean read) a roaming, eclectic, mildly melancholic, soccer-inspired blog, without league news but in German ( I know you Germans are out there), check out Freitagsspiel.

If you want to see the entire Chinatown Ballers series, click here.

Hope you all have a high scoring 2012.

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So the good news is that that image above from my Dead Indian Pass series received an honorable mention at the International Photo Awards (the Lucies), but the bad news is that nobody mentioned it to me. I had to find that out all by my poor pitiful self. The same thing happened already last year. My Giddy Up series placed second and I was definitely told about that. I even received an official certificate that I could frame or fold up and keep in my wallet in case I’d ever run into an art director. So last year I was checking out the winners’ gallery and, still basking in my own glory (even though my old coach said placing second only makes you the first loser), moved on to the honorable mentions gallery just to stumble upon The Sultans there.

I didn’t make much of it. I figured it was an honest mistake or maybe they didn’t think I could handle two successes at the same contest without my head swelling up to a grotesque size and exploding and soiling that nicely framed certificate on my wall.

But this year they did it again, not mentioning my honorable mention that is, and now I think they might be doing it on purpose.

I know, it’s not exactly earth shattering news (to be the 7th loser in the 32nd category) and they would have to send out a lot of emails (my picture is about # 1487 from the top) but still, every little bit counts and that’s why we enter contests:  To brag about winning (or being mentioned, honorably at that), to go to an editor or art buyer and proudly proclaim: I’m not just something the cat dragged in, no sir, I’m an award winner, you can trust me with your multi-dollar shoot.

For every photo contest already out there, there are 3 new ones springing up, blunting the effect of all of them.  Generally they charge quite a bit of money and it’s becoming very questionable if entering (and winning in some fashion) any of these is actually worth it, but what’s not questionable to me is this:  If you decide to have honorable mentions in your contest than you should put in the effort to let the mentionees know.  You’re welcome, don’t mention it.

You can check out the winners and honorable mentions here.

 

 

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During a short and sweet road trip with the missus through Wyoming last year I noticed that there were a lot of bikers out and about and after a while it dawned on me that they were on their way to the big yearly meet-up in Sturgis, South Dakota. Most of them have been on their bikes for days and you could see in their faces the effects of the wind and the sun. It seemed like we could do a nice little portrait series.

The first day we wanted to do the shoot was too rainy and we decided to use the time for a thorough location scout. We drove out of Cody and took the Chief Joseph Byway to the Beartooth Highway, which took us all the way up into Montana. One road was more spectacular than the next. We decided to set up shop the next morning at a place called Dead Indian Pass.
The spot overlooked a beautiful valley where Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce faked out a pursuing US Army on their (painfully close but unsuccessful) run towards the Canadian border.

We set up lights at a pull-out and asked the bikers that stopped there if they wanted to sit for a portrait. I think we got a nice collection of Amurrrican (and a few Canadian) archetypes.

To check out the entire series, click here.

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There is a new gallery called “At the Races” on my website.  I spent a day at a messenger track race in Kissena, Queens which has a velodrome (what doesn’t New York have?).  The images were taken last year on the glorious, glorious day when Germany whooped Argentina 4:0 at the World Cup which might explain why it took me so long to post them (I’ve just stopped celebrating).  In any case there will be a longer post about the nuts and bolts of the shoot soon.

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As I might have mentioned 20 or 30 times before, I had a show with the Upstream series at Intermedia Arts gallery in Minneapolis recently, and as I am working my way out of the post-show laziness I thought it would be nice to share a few snaps of my Minnesota adventure.  The closing of the show coincided with the 5th year anniversary party (and fundraiser) of Upstream Arts, the fab non-profit I produced the images with.

Leaving New York in miserable weather.

As a difficult New York artist I demanded a VIP lounge (aka guest bedroom)…

and VIP transportation (btw that color is salmon and not pink, I’ll have you know).  I also demanded lots of snow, since I developed a habit for the white powder over the winter in NY.

Then I had a look at the show, that was printed, mounted and hung in Minneapolis with me sitting in NYC and hoping for the best:


That’s how it looked.  Apart from a few minor details it turned out great and I was one happy camper.  Then it was time for the big party, which I deemed to be one of my biannual suit wearing occasions.

A suit always helps make me look better nervous.

Final doll-up in the Green Room.

Whew, a few people showed up.

Double whew, quite a few people showed up.

Triple whew, it was packed…

probably because there was beer…

and cake…

and an expressive performance…

and… uh… stuff by the great Upstream Arts’ artists that were on hand.

It was absolutely awesome to see a good number of the models come, like Ben to give me shit positive feedback and constructive criticism….

and to see old friends, who should have visited me in New York a long time ago, but instead always lure me to their snowed-in neck of the woods.

It was a great experience and I want to thank again the people that made it possible with all their help:  The good people at Upstream Arts and Intermedia Gallery, Susie Green, Janet and Joe Green, Sabine Scheckel for help with the retouching,  Jeff Cords and 8th Street Studio for the printing, Joe Besasie for the mounting, Dave Luke for hanging the show, Simone Mueller for designing the postcard, Raoul Duke from Flashlight Rentals for overall goodness and niceness, Mike Garr for general advice and living room basket ball clinics, Stella Kramer for doing an interview with me about this work on her blog, Amber Terranova for showing the series on PDN Photo of the Day, Matt and Lillian Guidry for their hospitality, and most of all Julie Guidry for being the driving force behind this project.

Photo by Corey DeGuia (thanks Corey).

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©Stefan Falke

Even though The Sultans show at the Deutsches Haus at NYU enjoyed a very solid turnout despite New York being a giant icy puddle that night, I’m not resting on my laurels. As a matter of fact, after checking the spice rack in my kitchen, I don’t even have any laurels, but I’m not resting on my sprigs of rosemary either. No, I’m on to the next solo show which will happen in Minneapolis, MN, the town where they have 200 different words for snow.

The exhibition will feature my “Upstream” portrait series of adolescents and young adults with mental disabilities that we produced for the terrific Upstream Arts non-profit organization.

UPSTREAM
at
Intermedia Arts
On view from Wednesday, April, 6th to Monday, April, 18th.

Closing Reception on Monday, April, 18th.

2822 Lyndale Ave. South | Minneapolis, MN 55408

Phone: 612.871.4444
Fax: 612.871.6927
Email: info@IntermediaArts.org

Monday-Friday 10AM to 6PM and Saturdays 12PM to 5PM

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To everybody’s relief the great Sultans-Spam of 2011 is nearing it’s end. All in all there was an accumulation of over 40 inches in Facebook entries, blogposts, postcards and emails in January alone. More than 3 times the average.

The good news is that the exhibit finally opens tonight. The images are hung (hehe), the white wine is warmed and the red wine is chilled, for that authentic art opening feel. I even had my prerequisite nightmares about another blizzard tonight or nobody showing up just for the heck of it, in which case I hereby solemnly swear to never be on Facebook again. Never. Ever.

The production of the show turned out to be more fun than I had expected. A big part of that was the help of dedicated professionals like David and Hashem at Printspace (printing), and George and Eric at Digital Plus (mounting). Another big part was the help of friends like (fellow photographers) Myriam Babin who schlepped and advised at pretty much every stage of the process, and Neil Beckerman who flouted every child labor law and made his seven year old daughter Lindsay help us hang the show for free.

I’m also thankful to the bloggers (always lovely) Julie Grahame at a.Curator, Stefan Falke, Fotocare, and the mighty Jackanory for spreading the word, alongside all the good people who sultanized Facebook with reposts and such.

In any case tonight’s the night. Be there, near Washington Square.

The Sultans will be on show at NYU’s Deutsches Haus from January, 28th to February, 25th, 2011.

The opening reception will be on Friday, January, 28th from 6 to 8 pm.

Deutsches Haus at NYU
42 Washington Mews
New York, NY 10003
212.998.8660

http://deutscheshaus.as.nyu.edu

Hours of operation:
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Fri: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

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First things first before it’s too late: Happy new year to all you faithful readers (and of course to the faithless ones, too).

The Heavy Light is getting a slightly tardy start into 2011 partly because I’m still a little comatose from eating a ton of Janet and Joe’s christmas cookies (mmmh) but even more importantly because The Sultans are getting their own show at the Deutsche Haus at NYU.

Visitors can admire the glorious geezers in spectacular printed matter and in majestic sizes up to 30×40 inches; jaws will drop, i-phone affected minds might get blown!!!(!)

This will be my first solo show and as I’m writing my own hyperbole (any PR person looking for an internship?) I’m also a wee bit nervous about figuring out the whole process, especially about recouping the costs of the show or (dream big alert) turning a profit with it.

Over the years I’ve purchased a nice little collection of art but my continuing problems with buying other peoples’ work are that I have limited real estate for it, that it’s hard to come up with the money for something striking, and that I’m not sure what to do with it in the long run.  I have some paintings, drawings and photographs on my walls that I dearly love (the art, not the walls) but after looking at them for years and years I wouldn’t mind a change.   It’s pretty much impossible to sell the pieces since most of them are not collectables from big name artists, throwing them away would make me a bad person, and storing them (which is what I do) is a drag in New York.

So, here’s what I’m thinking:  Renting art work.  I know it’s done on a corporate level, so maybe it could work on a private level as well.  Instead of selling a framed and mounted print for let’s say $1200 you could rent it for the first year at $400.  If you really like it you rent it for another year ($350), if you really really like it you extend the rental ($325) and after 4 years and $1400 it’s yours.  It’s a little more than buying outright but this way you can be sure it really goes well with the sofa.  For the same price as purchasing one image you could also exchange it after one year for another Sultan and then for another.  After that you could hang up a picture of a naked lady and look at that for a while.

So, now my question to you dear reader is:

Does renting art sound like a good idea to you, or more to the point, would you (yes, you) personally ever rent a piece of art for your home or as a gift?

Please respond via the comments on this site or if you’re the shy and private type I would love to get an email, a call , a letter or a visit, too.

Thanks for helping me out with this.

Mark your calendars.  Remember:  Jaws will drop.

The Sultans-recent photographs

Deutsches Haus at NYU
42 Washington Mews
New York, NY 10003

Opening Reception: Friday, January 28th, 2011, 6 to 8 PM

on view:
January 28th, 2011 – February, 25th 2011

Hours of operation:
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Fri: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

The Sultans-Part 1
The Sultans-Part 2
The Sultans-Part 3
Coda: The Sultans get their Name

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Dietmar Busse is (primarily) a fine-art photographer living in a one bedroom walk-up in that nondescript neighborhood around lower Lexington Avenue. His apartment has become the set of an amazing series of portraits that he calls “The Visitors”.

In the years that I have known Dietmar he has done some beautiful fashion work,

photographed NYC street-life,

hung out with barbershop beauties,

went full floral,

and documented where he grew up in northern Germany.

His work is intense and calm at the same time and always feels personal. Whenever I stopped by Dietmar’s place over the last few years he had rough prints of new mesmerizing portraits pinned up. I’m very happy that he agreed to be interviewed for The Heavy Light.

Dirk Anschütz: First things first, Dietmar. Why did you become a photographer?

Dietmar Busse: (Laughs) Well, after I finished high school I was not sure what to do. I signed up for Law School in Berlin and went for one day. At the same time I found out that I got accepted for a job in the south of Spain, that I had applied for earlier. I immediately hitchhiked to Badajoz only to find out that I really didn’t like my prospective employers. On my way back to Berlin I stopped in Madrid and met all these creative people, designers, artists, and so on and I became friends with a model and a photographer. I guess somehow I always wanted to be an artist but I never thought of photography as an accessible career and talking to my new friends changed that. I thought, I can do that. The model was friends with Michael Wray, an English photographer and I ended up being his assistant. We often had 2 or 3 shoots in a day. It was insane, but the great thing was that we did everything. Studio, runway, location, still life. I learned everything from 35mm to 4×5. I just received an amazing amount of knowledge in only two years.

DA: How did you decide to come to the US?

DB: After I finished working for Michael (I was exhausted), I felt that there was really not a lot to learn for me anymore in Madrid. I stayed for another two years mostly partying and building up my portfolio, but I knew I had to leave Spain and decided to go to Milan. Then a friend talked me out of it and convinced me to go to New York. I didn’t know anybody except one person who I had met a few weeks earlier in Madrid and who gave me his business card. I called him up and by coincidence his roommate had left and I had a room in New York.

DA: So, let’s talk about “the Visitors”. What made you start that series?

DB: I did so many different things from fashion, reportage, still life to glueing flowers on to myself for a few years. So here, I wanted to start a body of work that was cohesive and coherent. Something that was very focused. I wanted to work on something that I love. I wanted to work on something very simple. I love the intimacy of a studio as opposed to location and I figured, oh, I can do this in my apartment. I like being here and I like to invite people into my little world. I love being with people especially in a small setting and I love people that stand out in society especially visually. I love fashion and I asked people to dress up, so that gave me a chance to bring a fashion aspect into my work without dealing with magazines and agencies and all that.

DA: How did you get people to sit for you? Isabelle Toledo for instance?

DB: I worked with Isabelle Toledo before. I shot her for a magazine in the 90’s. I love her and love her work. It’s people like her that make it exciting to be in New York.

DA: How about Allanah Starr?

DB: Well, in the beginning of the project I would go out and ask people on the street, later I went clubbing to spots that are still pretty crazy. Allanah was referred to me through a friend at a nightclub. A lot of the casting was word of mouth. Or if I wanted to photograph somebody, I tried to find someone that knew that person, so they could make an introduction for me.

DA: Was there anything that surprised you during the project?

DB: No, not really. I guess sometimes I’m surprised by the results. During the shoots of this project I was working in a small studio, locked up almost, with people I really didn’t know. So, there’s an emotional response to that. Sometimes it’s awkward, sometimes it feels like a weird encounter. Sometimes it feels like it wasn’t a good shoot, and then I look at the contacts and they’re great. It’s very intense. I mean the work is intense, because I’m intense (laughs). Sometimes I look at work that I shot a few years ago and I’m amazed at how good it is and I can’t understand why I picked such a mediocre picture as my final selection or why I wasn’t happy with the photographs back then.

DA: What equipment do you use?

DB: (Rolls his eyes, laughs) I’m really not interested in the technical aspects of photography.

DA: Come on, you might not be a gear-head but you create a very specific and consistent look that could not be achieved with any old camera.

DB: Ok, I’m only interested in the technical part as far as it will help me get the results I want. With the set-up here I keep it to the minimum. I only thought about it in the beginning, now everything is always the same. I use a Hasselblad from the 500 series for the quality. I always work with one lens, an 80 mm. I use always strobe, never daylight. The light [an ancient “brown” Speedotron. DA] is always set up, I just have to push the on button and move the stand into position. I painted the background gray, it’s a wall in my apartment. I don’t think about it anymore. That way I can concentrate on the sitter. I don’t change the camera, the film, the light. During the shoot I don’t want to think about the technical part.

When I’m on assignment I always have to adapt to the given situations. Here it’s always the same. That said, I got a new lens recently for close-up work, a 120 mm Macro.

DA: Tell me about the double exposures.

DB: It basically started as an accident. I was printing in a rental lab and exposed a sheet of paper with two negs. First I threw it in the trash, but then I pulled it out again and took it home to look at it. I thought it looked a lot like photo school, but it also just looked right, then I went back to the lab and tried it with a few more negs.

The use of multiple negatives allows me to go past what you see through the viewfinder and explore a world of fantasy.

DA: How do you decide which images to combine?

DB: It has to feel right. I look. I play. What I have as landscapes in black & white is from my village in Northern Germany. So I have to see what’s there. Trees, or cows, or meadows. I look to combine images that have an integrity on their own, that don’t need help. I look at a portrait and I wonder what would he look like with an upside down tree in his face (laughs).

It combines two very strong and influential experiences of mine that are very far apart. My growing up on a small farm in Germany and my life in New York.

DA: You’ve shot some very different projects but there is a combining quality to all your work. How would describe your approach to photography?

DB: I see myself as a story teller. I like to show things that I feel. Photography for me is a way to communicate emotions. A photograph has to feel honest to me.

I’m always interested in showing beauty, even if it’s a fat man with pimples and only one eye (laughs).

DA: Thanks a lot for the interview.

Dietmar Busse’s website

You can also see for yourself where the magic happens, because Dietmar has an open studio this coming Saturday (Dec. 11th) and Sunday (Dec. 12th) from 2 PM to 8 PM
at
120 Lexington Avenue, Apt. 4E (@ 28th Street)
New York, NY 10016
(212)683-0865

All images in this post ©Dietmar Busse.

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