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Posts Tagged ‘Studio’

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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Sometime late 2009 Julie Guidry called me up and asked me if I was interested in applying for a “Getty Grant for Good” to shoot an image library for Upstream Arts.

Upstream Arts is a Minneapolis based non-profit whose mission is to “enhance the lives of adults and youth with disabilities by fostering creative communication and social independence through the power of arts education”. The classes are taught by working artists including painters, sculptors, actors and dancers, who help their young clients explore different ways of expressing themselves. A pretty big deal for the participants, as it turns out.

Well, we didn’t get the grant, but filing the application started a thought process about how to portray people with disabilities. Most of the images we found out there were of sporty triumphs or happy-happy family moments, but almost nothing showed the complex human beings behind the disabilities. There was a need for straight-on portraiture. The more we talked about the project, the more interested I became, and eventually we decided to go ahead with the shoot. Grant money be damned.

So in the summer of 2010 the Misses and I loaded up our late Volvo with a large amount of gear

and headed to the Twin cities on the mighty Mississippi (4s, 4i, 2p, 1m).

On the way we stopped in Cleveland, since we’ve never been there. After we unloaded at the hotel, we went straight to Jacobs Field where we watched the Indians beat the Red Sox in convincing fashion. A very good omen for the trip. In my function as a semi-professional travel adviser, I’d like to recommend:  If you ever find yourself in Cleveland in the summer, try to go to a baseball game there. It’s really what baseball should be like in my opinion. A nice, smallish stadium, relaxed atmosphere, borderline affordable beers and sausages, and no $1500 seat in sight (and I’m saying this as a Yankee fan)

.

We made another stop in Chicago and then it was onwards to Minneapolis with only a few hours lost due to a little automotive health issue.

Once in Minneapolis we started working at the shoot which was going to happen at the Jewish Community Center in St. Paul (which is the Twin in the Twin Cities). We went there for a quick location scout and requested one of their rooms large enough to set up our studio and provide space for models and their caretakers to hang out. The library fit the bill.

Julie Guidry did a great job finding our models and arranging the time table for the shoot.

I needed a few more pieces of equipment like c-stands and sandbags and we borrowed them from Jeff Cords, a local photographer at 8th Street Studio. Jeff beside being a great still life shooter, is a regular supporter of Upstream Arts and an all around good guy.

For the lighting we used Profotos Acutes and 7bs (plugged in).  There was a head with a beauty dish to the right of the camera and a head with a grid on the left.  There were also one head with a grid on each side behind and above the model.

The camera was a Mamiya RZ 67 (which really shines during close up portraiture) with a Phase One P25 back.

The entire shoot happened in one afternoon.  Our first model was Caleb, Julie’s stepson. He was also our toughest customer, since he was a bit under the weather and in a bad mood. He had a hard time sitting still in front of the camera. We took our time, showed him the entire set up from the camera to the lights, and how everything worked. Whenever we did that Caleb gave us between 45 seconds to a minute in front of the camera. The images turned out pretty well though and Caleb wound up on the cover of our Magcloud Magazine and the postcard of our exhibition.

Caleb

After that the other models and their caretakers started showing up and to my relief the other shoots were easier than the first one. Most of the participants were really into the shoot.  Since I was shooting digitally, I was able to immediately show them the images on a monitor, which helped a lot with the collaboration.  The models had a wide range of disabilities and our interactions reflected that.  Quite a bit of the communication between the models and me happened non-verbally and many creative decisions were based on gut feelings.  There was a pretty high energy on the set, but most of the models managed only about ten minutes in front of the camera before they were exhausted.

Every good portrait is a collaboration between the photographer and the model. It takes a bit of courage to really look hard at somebody but it takes quite a bit more courage to show yourself when somebody is staring at you through a lens. Looking now at the finished images I feel fortunate about the openness and sense of generosity with which these young people approached the shoot.

Julie Guidry organized a show of this portrait series at Intermedia Arts Gallery  in Minneapolis and tonight is the closing reception (and Upstream Arts fundraiser).  It’ll be interesting to see the reactions and hear the opinions of the models first hand.

On a last (and own horn tooting) note:  I just found out that four of the images made it into American Photography 27.

Intermedia Arts
2822 Lyndale Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55408
612.871.4444

http://www.intermediaarts.org/

April 5th through April 18th, 2011
Monday-Friday 10AM to 6PM, Saturdays 12PM to 5PM

Closing Reception and Upstream Arts Benefit:
Monday, April 18th, 6:30-8:30 PM



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Alright, Upstream is up and ready for your viewing pleasures at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis.

Stella Kramer did an interview about this series with yours truly on her very read-worthy Stellazine blog.

If you should find yourself in the winter-wonder-land that is Minneapolis on April 18th stop by at the closing reception. There will be refreshments.

Intermedia Arts
2822 Lyndale Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55408
612.871.4444
http://www.intermediaarts.org/

April 5th through April 18th, 2011
Monday-Friday 10AM to 6PM, Saturdays 12PM to 5PM

Closing Reception and Upstream Arts Benefit:
Monday, April 18th, 6:30-8:30 PM

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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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There’s a new gallery on my website with some of the fixie (fixed gear bicycle) riders I photographed during the summer in Red Hook, Brooklyn. To my enduring surprise I actually shot still lives as part of the project, and liked it. I guess stranger things have happened, but it can’t be many.

The title “One is all you need…”refers to the fact that fixies have only one gear, just to clarify it for people living under a rock or outside of Williamsburg.

Anyways, I’ll do a post about the shoots soon and I’ll keep working on this project, so there will be more images coming.



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On June 11th the wait will finally be over. 32 teams from all over the planet will meet in South Africa to figure out which nation will be on top of the soccer heap for the next 4 years. The best players will try everything to become legends. Ordinary people will strut like roosters if their team is winning or lose every last ounce of self esteem if their country can’t make it out of the group phase. Productivity levels all over the world will be way down. Good times.

Much, much further down the skill ladder I have been playing New York City soccer and it has been nothing short of a great experience. For years I’ve been playing every Wednesday at the edge of Chinatown in a game that was started by English, Irish and Scottish bartenders and has since expanded to include a regular cast of footballers from Mexico, Brazil, Australia, China, Sweden, Vietnam, the United States, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Columbia, Turkey, Austria, France, Germany (of course) and maybe even the occasional Welshman.

Beside the obvious benefits of exercise, comradery and acquaintance with bar-tenders, the game has also been a great source of models, for all sorts of shoots, for me. A lot of soccer players know how to move, and quite a few know how to act. Especially the Italians.

In the picture above I photographed Hassan, a very skilled Moroccan striker and Peter, a tough Irish midfielder during a stock shoot for Getty.

We shot at a studio with a cement floor cushioned by an extra thick futon mattress, that’s why we needed a tough guy for the flying header.
We lit the place with a mix of Pro Acutes and Elinchromes. The flash duration was a bit on the slow side, so we got a tiny amount of motion blur which I like better than the completely frozen look. The 2 players were shot separately and combined in Photoshop. The camera was a Rollei 6003 with an 80 mm lens and we shot on Kodak NC 160.

Enjoy the World Cup and let’s all hope the German team wins.

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