London photographer Roman Sakovich has hit a nerve – many nerves that is, including mine – with his recent portrait series titled “Half”. Thru some simple but astute post production, Sakovich combines the two halves of a person…on the left ‘before’ addiction & abuse, and on the right, after, at full throttle. Certainly the studio photos have been enhanced, but the results don’t waver. Simple photographs, compelling + robust narrative. Signs of good art. #Respect. Great series, Roman.
So began every episode for the famous Twilight Zone series.
And so should a viewer be forewarned when gazing upon the surrealist images of Jay Mark Johnson. For these truly are an exploration into another dimension. [Now that you are forewarned, go ahead and browse through his work in the gallery above.]
Before you even go there: No, these are not photoshopped.
What Johnson has done is use a slit camera that captures a narrow vertical sliver of a scene. By snapping a sequence of shots through that slit and lining them all up together in chronological order, Johnson is left with a single piece that essentially depicts the passage of time as seen through that narrow slit. In this sense, each photograph is actually a composite of hundreds of very slim images.
Things get real interesting when an object or objects in motion — like crashing sea waves or a leaping dancer — is captured.
Groovy perspective, right?
Felix Baumgartner’s skydive from space, inspired me to look at more mind-blowing photography from outside our atmosphere. The photography and work of Michael Benson caught my attention. He has created a spectacular view of the solar system. Truly never before seen photos. To make the images on display in his upcoming book, Planetfall, Benson first curated thousands of photographs from NASA and the European Space Agency. The majority of his selects came from unmanned spacecraft hurtling through space. Some are from rovers on Mars or crewmembers aboard the International Space Station.He then processed the raw files and stitched them together into jaw-dropping shots from the cosmos. Click through the image tabs above to see what I’m talking about.
Photos from unmanned probes are normally black-and-white, shot with a variety of filters. To add color, Benson typically overlays images originally filtered in red, green and blue to create a composite spectrum that replicates what the human eye might see. The process can take weeks, but once it’s completed Benson is left with something unique: an image that is as accurate to the view from a passing spacecraft as most of us will ever come.
I am a big believer in aiming to be different, not necessarily better than everyone else. Marc Vicen’s recent work, a collection of portraits named, “Hanging – The Faces of Unemployment,” is a great example of coming with an angle that turns your photos and thinking, um, upside down. Here is the explanation from Marc’s website. Click through the image tabs above to get a sampling.
“The practice of a globalized economy vertigo, has resulted in a situation that has led many people to feel or be “hung”. Marc Vicens has its special way of looking at this, more and more large group and achieved a surprising result. It’s not just the personal image of “hanging”. Marc has managed to reflect the “new expression” that occurs when a person is in this desperate situation. It is like entering into the feeling of anxiety that governs the daily life of these people. Reality is inverted resulting in an image photographed naked sentiment. It is the expression of the anxiety experienced by anyone because of a destructive economy, feels or is “hung”.”
To see more of Marc Vicens work go here.
Dublin-based photographer Martin Marcisovsky captures subjects placed in distinctly dream-like landscapes. There is a feeling of voyeurism as you look at these lonely figures. The subjects seem to be either lost in their own contemplations or moving forward on some sort of mystery quest with their backs to the viewer. Lord of the Rings meets Dune with a dash of Salvador Dali – sometimes fantasy, sometimes sci-fi these surreal presentations of the deep corners of the artist’s mind are wildly creative. Click through images above to enter some awesomely bizarre worlds.
I asked the artist to elaborate a bit on these insanely cool images:
“Whether the subject is a child or an adult, they each evoke their own level of self-discovery. Essentially, there are two ways to interpret each image—as a representation of feeling lost and isolated or a visual interpretation of contemplatively being in tune with oneself. It’s up to the viewer’s own intuitive perspective to decide how they interpret the intriguing series of works.”
View more of Martin’s work here.
Each year thousands upon thousands of people streaming out of the Nevada desert from the annual gathering called Burning Man. A friend called the annual event, ‘the most significant counter culture gathering of our time.’ This friend is smarter than me in a plethora of ways. I respect his opinion as gold…and yet I still have never personally attended. The organizers state that, “Trying to describe Burning Man to someone who has not experienced Burning Man is like trying to describe a specific color to someone who is blind.” So I am no expert. What I do know is that close to 60,000 people are leaving Black Rock Desert right now and coming back into society all over the world brimming with creativity. That’s cool by me. If, like me, you’ve never been, you probably have a friend that comes back inspired and singing the praises of the experimental community that dances on the playa, drives around in mind-blowing works of art in a surreal Mad Max meets Alice-in-Wonderland landscape. Art for art’s sake at an astounding level.
Photographer Darren Miller has been going to Burning Man for the better part of a decade. He attends each year not just as photographer but also as a professional performance artist. Click through the image tabs above to see some of his joyful work PLUS his shots from last week’s Burning Man. He pays the bills shooting corporate events, commercial jobs and weddings. He often doubles as photographer & entertainment at weddings and events! But it is his personal work, the photography of fellow performance artists, that really lights him up with inspiration. Sometimes quite literally… since he’s been known to fire-dance. I caught up with Darren before he took off for the desert this year to find out about how his community plays into his photography, his influences and why he goes to Burning Man.
CJ: Tell me about Burning Man…
DM: Burning man is one of the largest art festivals in the world that is completely built and created by the sixty thousand participants. In the middle of the isolated and barren Nevada desert
the most colorful creative world comes to life for one week every year. It is radically expressive, and totally unhinged. It is amazing and the scale of the art projects, although worthy of the accolade, could not be held by any of the world’s largest museums. It is an experiment in spontaneous community building that is based on sharing and collaboration. This cauldron of creative expression catalyzes to the core the people who are called to go. When you arrive at the gate you are greeted the words Welcome Home. At that point the mystery of your week there begins to unfold. For me Burning Man is the ultimate coming together of my life as a photographer and performer. There’s a great quote from an essay on the website by Molly Steenson that sums it up: “You’re there to breathe art. Imagine an ice sculpture emitting glacial music — in the desert.”
CJ: Can you describe the intersection of your work as a photographer and a performance artist?
DM: For me photography intersects with performance because the more expressive and entertaining I am, the more relaxed and natural the clients and subjects I am working with become. Photography is a circle between the photographer and the person being photographed. My playfulness and provocative excitement inspire playfulness in others and I find that the more performance-like energy I put into a shoot – the more unique and exciting the results are within my subjects. I push my subjects outside of their comfort zone. People are often surprised, in a good way, by the results. “I wasn’t so sure about that at first,” is not uncommon to hear. But the photos are totally unique and totally full of joy – and it seems to make an impact for people.
CJ: You work with professional performers all the time:fire-breathers, stilt-walkers, dancers, Cirque du Soleil kind of stuff. How do you find these people?
DM:I live in San Francisco which is basically one of the world’s meccas for creative performance and unique expression. It seems like everyone here has some expressive pursuit in their life. What is really wonderful is the collaboration in the performing community. There is a lot of encouragement between individuals and groups to support each other’s creative offerings. In my view the energy of this area is wildly creative, and I feel at home here. Many of my friends and our extended community are world-class performers and so I have a privilege of sharing worlds with them. When we do talk about collaborating on a photo project there is usually a high resonance in our conceptual thinking that inspires a collaboration to happen.
CJ:Given that you are a performance artist – do you try self-portraits?
Self portraits are really interesting to me because I am always evolving my sense of who I am and with that comes new ideas for how I express myself and the performance characters I am developing.
Recently I got a Go Pro camera and I can use it to take pictures of me doing activities a wide range of activities such as surfing, and underwater photography. This year at Burning Man with the giant puppets I have made, I am planning on attaching the Go Pro on the head of the puppet to take pictures from the puppets point of view, with people’s reactions and all.
CJ: Your portfolio has studio work, but it seems there is a strong theme of human creativity juxtaposed with mind-blowing nature. What location do you prefer with your subjects?
DM: In my heart of hearts I am a man of the wilderness and I feel completely at ease in all sorts of environments within the natural world. I grew up on rivers and in the ocean and mountains and on many occasions have solo journeyed into isolated natural areas for days at a time. I never feel more complete in who I am than when I am in the wild. It is this love of the natural world and understanding of the awe and wonder that inspires me to want to photograph people in extreme conditions. What I find in the photograph that we make together is something remarkable. Each person is changed by the environment they are in and the raw natural world setting brings out the epic and heroic and the beautiful nature that is within each of us. Modern society has moved so far from having a daily connection with the natural world, that doing this portrait work in nature serves as a kind of recollection of that connection we have might have lost along the way.
CJ: Who are your influences?
DM: Without seeming like I’m sucking up, and naming names, I am really inspired by the photographers like Chase Jarvis who are sharing their work with everyone openly from concept to creation – in the same way that the artists at Burning Man share their creativity in the interest of inspiring more people. This attitude and culture of sharing is definitely encouraging me to delve deeper into my own personal work and get it out there. The provocative wide open potential for image making gets me really exited. There are so many ideas I would like to make photographs of, and I am looking forward to sharing them and contributing as much as I can to inspire people to embrace their own creative potential.
More info Burning Man here
Disney movies are an integrated part of childhood for most Westernized culture, to the point where if someone is presented with a picture of any of the “princesses” they can immediately identify them. These princesses are a clearly engrained part of our youth culture, visions of feminine charm and reworked classic fairy tales. But what happens when instead of showing these fictional women as beautiful shining figures, you surround them with filth and death? Click through the tabs images above to see examples of just that – the work of Thomas Czarnecki.
The French photographer’s stunning series “From Enchantment to Down” caught my eye and I asked him to elaborate about this innovative and shocking photoset – this is what he had to say:
“I like the darkness aesthetics, I was always been attracted by the world of movies like David Fincher’s Seven or Tim Burton and David Lynch. In photography I’ve found inspiration in many: Eugenio Recuenco, David Lachapelle, Guy Bourdin or my friends Olvier Foulon and Olivier Lecerf – [these] are only a few. Obviously, many an inspiration comes from the digital world, the web, and I can surf for hours going through many a visual adventure that I take inside of me. Each photo takes a long time to achieve, it is sometimes a bit frustrating but that’s how it goes. Finding time between a job and social life is very complicated. I wish I could devote myself entirely to photography but it is unfortunately not possible at this time, but I don’t despair!
The theme of this series is universal. The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland… So many Disney characters embedded in the collective culture as sweet and innocent creatures that I decided to get out of their recognized fairy-tale frame and universe. I staged these same childhood heroes face against the ground and by doing so, create something of clash and culture shock between on one side the naive universe and the innocence of the fairy tales as such and confront them to the other side: a much darker reality that is as much part of our common culture and which is provided to us, incessantly through the darker side and imagery broadcasted through tv, cinema and others. I think it is this comparison that resonates universally in people and generates interest. I leave nothing to chance, each image is fully thought before every shot. I make several preparatory drawings that take into account the location, the light and the position of the character to reach the final image. Sometimes you have to make some small adjustments on the shoot, as removing accessories provided which ultimately do not bring much to the story or find a somewhat more natural for the model but in the end most of the images can be practically superimposed on the original drawing.”
Check out more of Thomas Czarnecki’s work HERE
Jerard here from Chase’s crew. I love a good road trip. There’s nothing like the freedom and discovery of hitting the road with no real destination, no particular schedule and nothing but miles as your mission. I’ve driven the blue highways across the whole of America almost twenty times. Four times on a motorcycle. In all of those miles, there are some memories that fade into the blur of asphalt and double-yellow lines. But there other things that jump out with precise clarity. For whatever reason, food and the people who serve the food, are often among these memories. Places like the Hogs Breath Saloon, a watering hole somewhere between Kansas and Colorado. “Hog’s Breath is better than no breath!” BBQ beef on a kaiser and I can remember the way the waitress chewed her gum.
Hog’s Breath is better than no breath. -waitress between Kansas and Colorado
Swiss photographer Stephen Shaher took a massive road trip across America and created a fun project out of diner food and the characters who served it. The images feel real. You can smell the food and hear the voices of these waitresses. Design You Trust featured the work a while back (with the names and food order explained to boot) and while I dont think that Food&Wine magazine is going to be calling for any food photography from this project, the personality that comes through in these pairings of server and plates of diner cuisine is palpable. It makes me want to head back out on the road and find some hidden gems of Americana. Click through the tabs above to see Shaher’s series from his 2004 journey across the USA.
Inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes you just have to look in unexpected places. Like the past. Whidbey Island, WA photographer Jim Adams has done something you don’t see every day: time travel photography. He finds a location that presents a compelling image, does a ton of research to find historical images, and then carefully overlays old with new to blend decades – even centuries – into a single image. Time travel! By pushing the envelope of what it means to craft an image, he has reinvented and remixed landscape photography in an intriguing way. I’ve touched on this before – the value of the unexpected. Whether it’s a new subject, pushing the boundaries of location or changing your perspective. There is new and fertile subject matter out there. Click through the tabs above to check out some of this skillfully crafted work.
Check out more of Jim’s work here
Tomorrow is the opening ceremony of the Olympics in London. Awe-inspiring athletic forms and feats will capture the attention of the world for the next two weeks. Images of Olympic titans will be plentiful and I am looking forward to both the photography and the drama of country-vs-country competition. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many world-class athletes as subjects and the results are always worth the effort. This collection of photos that has been tearing up the internet recently is a stunning example of great athletes and great photos. Here’s range of great shots from great photogs. Martin Schoeller’s photo of paralympic rower Oskana Masters will stop you in your tracks. Click through the tabs above to see some truly spectacular photos of world-class athletes.
To see more photos like take a deep dive in ESPN The Magazine’s feature click here. Kudos there!
One of the most powerful things about creating images is the magic of bending reality with a camera. In the middle of a city of steel, a single flower can be framed to create the illusion of nature. No one even knows the surrounding scenery exists. Forced Perspective photography is intriguing: it manipulates human perception with things like size, positioning and scale. Click through the tabs above for some great examples of forced perspective photography.
No fancy equipment needed… just creativity and imagination. With a dash of out-of-the-box thinking it’s possible to create a unique image. An image that first that bewilders and then delights the viewer. Change it up. Surprise yourself.
One image can be so powerful – able to elicit strong emotions and social awareness in an instant. Consider this project by a photographer who portraits elderly animals with a Hasselblad as a way to cope with her own mother having Alzheimer’s. The photographs she created are profound and heart wrenching, a unique look into aging with subjects we oftentimes overlook. Click through the tabs above to see some of her evocative images.
The photographer’s name is Isa Leshko, and this is what she has to say about the “Elderly Animals” project on her website:
“I am creating these photographs to gain a deeper understanding about what it means to be mortal and to exorcise my fears of aging. I have come to realize that these images are self-portraits, or at the very least, they are manifestations of my fears and hopes about what I will be like when I am old. My intention is to take an honest and unflinching look at old age and I want these images to inspire others to become aware of and to engage with their own attitudes toward aging and mortality.”
All images by Isa Leshko
Im going to let you in on a secret. It’s a crazy week for our crew – a perfect storm of several jobs/productions happening all at once. [Including the upcoming 3-Day cjLIVE Broadcast from Capitol Hill Block Party - Tune in! Starts on Friday at 3pm!] It’s just plain
hectic hellish busy. Im sure many of you can relate to the feeling – trying to get it all done with 1000 things coming at you at once. Our team is firing on all cylinders right now, working long hours and slugging it out. When we’re busy to this level, sometimes there is a natural tendency to get collectively stressed. But as a group, we’ve made a very conscious decision to lean with it this week. By leaning with it, we’re keeping the stress low and the smiles high. That’s the idea.
As a visual example of this idea, something to picture in your mind when it gets a bit hectic for you, Chicago photographer Paul Octavious has just released a number of new photos as part of his Lean With It series, where he captures people bending in parallel with steeply angled trees. Click through the tabs above to see some examples of what REALLY ‘leaning with it’ looks like.
Thanks for the inspiration Paul. Check out his website here.
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