Tanner Almon

   

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www.pelime.com/tanneralmon
www.tanneralmon.com

Tanner Almon is a Baltimore born photographer who attributes much of his creative success to his parents encouragement. Having graduated film school at The University of Maryland at Baltimore County, where he had made several “rather imaginative, albeit confusing” student films, and finding it hard to organize film shoots with little money and/or equipment, he began to tell some of his stories through photography - a much more “budget friendly” medium.

Most of these photographic tales, usually shot on 35mm slide film, involve Tanner and his lovely wife, Vicki, driving out to abandoned places and taking pictures of themselves dressed up as whimsical characters caught up rather peculiar situations. Tanner views these rather quirky narratives as a way to always ensure that his imagination remains “close at hand”, his ultimate goal being to figure out a way to make a living traveling around forgotten America taking photographs with Vicki.

   

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Q.  Can you explain what triggered your interest in photography?
A.  Hmm, that’s a tough one. My first experience using a non-disposable camera was an Intro to Photography course I took during my sophomore year of college. Unfortunately all I really remember about that class was being a nervous wreck trying to load the plastic film reel. What did eventually get me going was a visit to a thrift store a few years later when I was home visiting my family for Thanksgiving. I found a pair of matching adult outfits that reminded me a Cub Scout uniform I wore as a kid (I never did make it all the way to Boy Scout). Anyway, every Thanksgiving we have a family reunion of sorts in Ocean City, Maryland and our hotel is right across from the Jolly Roger Amusement Park. I thought it would be awesome to hop the fence with my wife and take some photos of us in the scout uniforms exploring the various water slides and roller coasters. So I dusted off my trusty Nikon FM-10 and we hopped the fence and ran around the park posing with walkie talkies and canteens in what I like to call “high pressure situations”. After about seven or eight shots a security guard kicked us out, which was a bummer,  but I knew I had found my “new thing”, so to speak.

Q.  What do you consider to be your greatest achievements?
A.  Honestly my greatest achievement is just finishing any of my photo and/or film projects. I’ve never really had a crew, so from start to finish I’m not only the photographer and/or filmmaker, but I’m also the art director, the prop guy, the wardrobe guy, the sound guy, and the craft service guy. Fortunately, my awesome wife Vicki usually helps with most of these and has made sure that I never have to be the “make-up” guy or the “hair” guy. Oh, and more often than not I also play a character in these shoots, so it’s quite a bit of a) set up the shot, b) hit the timer, and c) run like hell. Words cannot adequately describe how emotionally draining some of these shoots have been, especially the film shoots. One film in particular, Soda Pop Cough Drop, was especially challenging as it involved my wife and I driving blindly into the Mojave Desert to shoot a film in which we both played multiple characters. Logistically it was a complete nightmare: it was at least 110 degrees out, several of our live goldfish didn’t look too alive once we set up our first shot, our script literally blew away, neither of us could figure out how to work the helium tank, and we didn’t think to bring any food. As incoherent as Soda Pop Cough Drop may be, I’m extremely proud that we stuck it out and saw it through to the bitter, bitter end. I’d say that’s probably my greatest achievement. As a side note, those cub scout uniforms I mentioned earlier are what we are wearing in Soda Pop Cough Drop.

   

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In terms of awards type achievements, I haven’t really gotten too many of those, although I’m proud to say that our version of Hiphopopatamus Vs. Rhymenoceros was a finalist in a Flight of the Conchords lip sync contest. HBO actually aired a portion of our video on actual HBO, which I thought was pretty cool. Unfortunately I don’t have HBO so I never actually saw it on HBO, but several of my friends who do have HBO assure me that it did in fact play on HBO.

Q.  Are there any particular artists you admire and why?
A.  Most of my inspirations are film directors, namely Jean-Pierre Juenet, Wes Anderson,  and early Tim Burton (recent Tim Burton, unfortunately, not so much). All three have such a beautifully whimsical visual language, and that’s what really attracts me to them. If lightning struck me tomorrow and I lost my hearing, I’d still be able to enjoy each and every film by these guys (minus a few recent adaptations by Mr. Burton). Aside from these big name directors I’m mostly inspired by several lesser known artists I’ve found on Tumblr, Flickr, and Vimeo. It’s really inspiring to see folks such as myself, most of whom also work “real” jobs, still somehow finding the time and energy to make their “art” happen. Finally, in the early 90’s there was an absolutely brilliant show on Nickelodeon called The Adventures of Pete and Pete. It’s creativity and quirkiness was way ahead of it’s time and it definitely had some sort of effect on the way my brain works.

   

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Q.  What does photography mean to you?
A.  For me photography is a way to escape from reality and keep my imagination going strong. I just turned 32 but I like to think that photography has helped me to maintain the same level of imagination I had when I was seven. I really love just packing up my car with some funny outfits and props, heading out to some forgotten location, and creating a story with my wife. For me the experience leading up to the photograph is much more rewarding than the resulting photograph itself, although it is really nice when the pictures turn out as well. But really it’s the process that I love, as frustrating as it can be sometimes.

Q.  Is there a narrative behind your work?
A.  Haha! If you ask me the answer is “Absolutely, without a doubt, yes, it’s all about telling a story”. But if you asked my mom the same question, she’d probably say “All I see is Tanner dressed up like a goofball doing stupid things, and poor Vicki, I can’t believe she puts up with him. I wish he’d just take a normal picture for once!” So I guess it’s really up to the viewer as to the presence of a “narrative”. However, I will say this… for me the first part of “the process” is creating interesting characters to put into some sort of “story”, so yes, I always have some sort of narrative tale in mind when embarking on a project. Whether that narrative comes across through the final product, however, is really beyond my control.

   

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Q.  What projects are you currently working on?
A.  I’ll be honest, right now my primary weekend project is trying to learn Adobe After Effects, as I’m hoping it may lead to some sort of job that is better than my current job. That being said, I have two short films that I shot over two years ago that I’d very much like to start cutting together. Both were shot at an amazing hotel called The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California. The first is a whimsically morbid tale inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead, and the second is a rather eerie ghost story involving a traveling salesman. I feel sick to my stomach every time I think about these films as it’s literally been two years now and I haven’t had a chance to touch either. I also have several other photo projects that Vicki and I shot at the Salton Sea around three years ago that I’ve never had a chance to scan. So unfortunately it seems as if most of the projects I’m working on right now are actually very old projects.

Q.  Split between still narrative and documentary, you also have a body of work on Pelime spanning Music Videos, Commercials and Short Films…  How do you divide your time?
A.  Haha, that’s just the thing, there’s NEVER enough time! I basically gave up exercise last year and gained a bunch of weight because I literally convinced myself that I needed that extra hour each day to work on finishing old projects so that I could actually get some content on my website. Now that I just turned 32 I had a change of heart and decided to start exercising again, which of course means I’m back to having even less time to work on personal projects. I’m pretty sure when I’m eighty years old I’ll still be scanning negatives of film I shot in 2007, assuming my negative scanner still works. All that being said, it’s more or less random what project I pick to work on at a particular time. Scanning negatives and playing with them a bit in Adobe Lightroom is definitely way less daunting and stressful that trying to cut a film together, so lately I’ve been working more on the photo side of things, but I really do want to get started editing those two films I mentioned sooner rather than later, so, we’ll see how that goes I guess. It’s quite overwhelming and really bums me out that there’s never enough time!

   

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Q.  What are your inspirations?
A.  I’m not quite sure why, but i have a really strong affinity to certain objects that I grew up around such as typewriters, hula hoops, and etch-a-sketches. All those old toys and gizmos really inspire me. One of my most vivid recurring childhood memories is of me sitting at the kitchen table drawing pictures of robots on my etch-a-sketch while listening to the beautiful sound of my mom punching away at her typewriter. I’m a rather nostalgic person and thus I think it makes sense that these items influence quite a bit of my “work”. This affinity to obsolete objects extends to places as well. My favorite places to shoot are empty deserts, abandoned trailers, old motel rooms, and unkempt backyards - all of which are places that, at least to me, seem to be from a much more “pure” era. I guess you could say that I’m most inspired by old, worn-out, forgotten things and places.

   

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Q.  What are your aspirations?
A.  My only real aspiration, creatively speaking, is to be able to work on photos and/or make film projects seven days a week, 365 days a year. On a smaller scale I’d simply like to finish all of my unfinished projects before I turn 33. On a more personal level I’d really love to learn how to play a musical instrument, I don’t even care which one, I’d just love to be able to “jam out” every now and then.

   

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Q.  Have you ever collaborated with some other artists?
A.  Yes, but not as much as I probably should seeing as I like to make films, which is probably the most collaborative art form there is. That being said, my wife is always a big part of whatever I’m working on, I couldn’t do it without her, that’s for sure. I also have a core group of friends back in Maryland who I work with whenever I get a chance. I lived for a few years in LA and met some really cool actors who helped me with a few projects, and hopefully I’ll continue to work with in the future. But unfortunately nine times out of ten it’s just been my wife and I, primarily because all of my projects require a big time commitment and I’ve never had any kind of budget to pay for help. Most of the time if it’s not me or Vicki in my pictures it’s either a family member or a very close friend who I consider to be “family”. My mom has actually been in several of my films, and while she may not be considered to be an “artist”, she’s a hell of a lot of fun to collaborate with.

   

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Q.  What equipment & techniques do you use?
A.  In terms of my personal photography projects, thus far my primary camera has been a Nikon FM10 35mm camera.  I wish I could say that I particularly love the “look” that the FM10 offers, but really I’ve only used it because in college it was a “pretty good” beginner camera according to the guy at the camera shop at the mall. Not that I have any complaints, it takes nice pictures, but I did absolutely no research before purchasing that camera. I typically shoot with slide film and process it as normal, I’m not really sure why, but I did it once, liked it, and figured “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Once I get the negatives back I scan them with my Nikon SuperCoolScan 9000. In terms of post I primarily use Adobe Lightroom to tweak color balance and contrast.

I also spent most of 2010 shooting one “furball” photo a day on Fuji Instax Mini for a Tumblr blog I was doing called My Mom Reviews My Photos (www.mymomreviewsmyphotos.com). And finally, in December my wife and I invested in a Canon 5D Mark ii so that we’d have a nice digital camera to take on our belated honeymoon to Japan. Deep down I’ll always probably prefer film to digital, primarily because I like the “surprise” aspect of film, but I’ve got nothing against digital. As I mentioned earlier, for me the most exciting part of the process is the experience leading up to clicking the shutter button, I’m not too worried about what camera’s being used. A camera’s a camera.

In terms of film I really love shooting on Super 8, it’s pure magic and I’m so thrilled that small format film is still being made. I feel like I’m a cool seventies dude every time I’m shooting off a roll of Super 8. Of course the Super 8 “look” only works for certain projects. Most of my more traditional film projects have been shot with the Panasonic DVX100 or HVX200. I hope to start shooting some video with the 5D very soon. And finally, I edit everything in Apple’s Final Cut Pro and usually grade using Apple Color.

   

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Q.  What are your professional ambitions and your projects for 2011/12?
A.  I think I’ve probably answered this already, but my only professional ambition at the moment is to figure out a way to get paid to do what I love so that I can do it all the time (not just on late nights and weekends). In a dream world I could somehow figure out a way to make a living driving around forgotten America taking photos and making films with my wife. Obviously I realize that every married couple probably shares this same dream, but still, it’s a good dream and I’m stickin’ to it!

Q.  How do you think Pelime can help with this?
A.  My hope is that Pelime can put me in touch with folks who share a similar creative sensibility. Once I get that networking ball rolling on Pelime only good things will happen, I’m sure. And hopefully, one day, those connections I make through Pelime will lead me to place in my life where I’m doing what I love 365 days a year!

   

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Watch on bael-art.tumblr.com

Video Feature about me and my art, produced by pelime.com

***Caution : The following video contains: Northern Accents, Chain smoking, My Ugly Mug***   

Enjoy:) 

Produced/Directed by J.Harry Edmiston
Produced by: Natali Senikoglu
Edited by: Carolina Mascarenhas
Music by: Michael & Maryann Tedstone (Felt Music)

Jessie Aspiras

     

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Jessie Aspiras from Manila, Philippines is a 22 yrs old photographer graduated from the University of Santo Tomas - Fine Arts. Aspiras is currently working as a Graphic Designer in Dual Action Blender, an advertising agency.

     

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Q.  Can you explain your interest in visual arts?
A.  When I was a kid, I used to have this Pentax camera of my dads and whenever I heard the shutter, it was like music to my ear, I just loved the sound of it. I started to take photographs of random subjects… Later I stopped for a period of time because my dad kept the camera from me. I felt like I was just wasting the film. But that did not mean stopping exploring arts. I remember seeing my grandfather drawing once and I realized how good he was while helping me with all my grade school projects. I was so amazed and felt the same thing when my brother joined drawing contests in our school. I was really curious about their talents and I felt like trying as well because maybe I had that kind of talent too. My brother, my grandpa and even some of my uncles are into arts; this pushed me to start drawing sketches, painting, then made me take fine arts in college, where I did some designs for the fashion industry. Later on I went into graphics and eventually tried photography.

Q.  Who are the artists you admire and why?
A.  I admire Leonardo da Vinci; he is not just one of the greatest in arts but he’s also good in other things such as music, architecture, science, writing and etc. He just has everything. He has a perfect hand when it comes to drawings and paintings with really great style. You’ll know right away that a piece is Da Vinci’s. He’s incomparable. Another artist that I admire is Michael Kutsche. I’ve been a fan of his works and especially of the characters he created for Alice in Wonderland. I mean where does he get all the ideas? He’s just really amazing, a great talent.

      

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Q.  What does photography mean to you?
A,  Photography for me is not about manipulation and mostly the way people live their lives. Photoshop helps making those moments even more significant. It’s all about capturing the soul of the subject, its inner beauty whether it is still life, nature, portrait and etc.

Q.  What were your subjects on the most important project you had done until today?
A.  Different places and people…

Q. What were your inspirations?
A.  People and nature;    I’m just really inspired by the beauty this planets offers us.

Q.  What are the subjects you chose for your latest works?
A.  Different amazing places here in Philippines…

      

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Q.  Is there a story behind your works?
A.  Some of my projects do, the Sunrise album for example. I was depressed when I took those shots and I also didn’t have enough sleep cause I was nor feeling well. I waited for the sunrise that day and it gave me hope… Every time you fail in life, you always have tomorrow to correct your mistakes, improve yourself to be better, a better person, a better artist.

Q.  Can you talk about any professional experience?
A.  I’ve encountered lots of different people in advertising. Some will praise you and some will pull you down. It is important to believe in yourself and keep your creative ideas flowing no matter what people will say about you.

Q.  Do you have a favorite piece among your works?
A.  My Camotes Islands project; it’s just unforgettable to me and the place is just amazing.

Q.  Can you talk about your design and animation projects?
A.  Well I do t-shirt design, web design and graphic design when requested and some for my work. I also did the album artwork of my brother’s SORA series who’s a known DJ here in the Philippines.

      

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Q.  How do you explain your interest for advertising?
A.  Well, at first I was clueless about the way life goes in the world of advertising but when my professors, way back in college, started telling me stories about their experiences, I got really interested. I wanted be like them. All they do is think of ideas, share their creative juices, go for shootings and having fun but in the same time making money. From that moment on, I told myself that I want that kind of world. It is stressful but really fun. 

Q.  Can you define Lomography for us?
A.  Lomography is a type of photography that uses film cameras created by Lomographic Association like Holga & Diana. Pictures taken from Lomos are defined as vignette with its soft, a bit blurry and faded effect on its edges. Nowadays, it’s also called “art” as it can capture random subjects than can be turned out into a very eye-catching photo well which I think people mostly post on their tumbler accounts.

Q.  What equipment & techniques do you use?
A.  I use my Nikon DSLR, tripod, external flash and my devotion for photography of course. My dedication is my technique. 

Q.  What is the motivation behind your choice of material?
A.  I am just inspired with all everything that is around me; the essence of one thing come out when once captured, most people do not notice how beautiful that thing can be.

Q.  Are you working on new projects currently?
A.  None for now because my work is taking almost all my time but I have plans to take shots in Hong Kong, Macau & China this year.

Q.  What are your professional ambitions and your projects for 2011?
A.  To be a professional photographer of National Geographic and the creative director of a known advertising agency!
Well my project for 2011 is to take more shots of undiscovered places here in the Philippines, and yes the purpose is to promote my home country!

Q.  How do you hope Pelime can help with this?
A.  Pelime is a very resourceful website for creative people and it can help young artists like me to be more inspired, dedicated, motivated and be discovered.

                

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FEATURED MEMBER - Mike Sayer

    

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Mike Sayer is the project manager and a crewman for Project Torpedalo, an attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean in what is essentially a pedalo, as part of the Woodvale Challenge Atlantic Rowing Race 2011.

    

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They will depart La Gomera in the Canary Isles on December 4th, 2011, and arrive in Port St Charles Marina, Barbados, covering 2,933 miles (2549 nautical miles). Mike, along with fellow crewman Mark Byass, are only the second pairs crew to attempt the journey in a pedal-powered boat.


                         

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The Torpedalo team have designed their boat themselves, and don’t assume that just because it’s pedal-powered, they haven’t put together an impressive boat. It must be fast, sturdy, self-righting (40 foot waves are to be expected) and equipped to provide a home for the pair for six weeks. It is 8 meters long by 1.5 meters across at the beam, and is 1.5 meters high. The boat is of two-skin carbon fibre construction, with foam core and carbon ribs, with is sprayed with a copper-metallic coating beneath the waterline. It is powered by a single one-gear pedal crankset using a Gates two-stage belt drive and a custom twin-blade low speed propeller.

    

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Working on a continuous rota of two hour shifts of pedaling, the team are hoping for an average cruising speed of 3 knots, with a maximum speed of 7 knots. They have enough food to last 90 days, and water is provided by onboard desalination.

    

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Mike and Mark are working on this project whilst working at Bentley Motors. Money raised through sponsorship will be donated to Make-A-Wish Foundation UK and the Motor Neurone Disease Association, with every single penny going to charity. The team is aiming to raise £250,000.

    

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Q.  Where did the idea for this project come from?
A.  The project was an amalgamation of ideas. We knew that we worked really well together through projects at Bentley, but also through jointly building a racing car. We decided that we should use our spare time to raise some money for charity, and we realised that to raise a significant sum of money we would have to do something crazy! The first idea was to take a standard, beach pedalo across the English Channel, but research showed it would be exceptionally dangerous. So, we developed that idea in to a plan to design and build a specialised pedal-boat, and take it from London to Paris. Unfortunately, the French authorities don’t agree with such schemes, but at this point Mark commented that he’d always harboured a desire to row the Atlantic. So, we scaled the plan up, culminating in the idea to design and build our own habitable pedalo and pedal it across the Atlantic Ocean! Truthfully, there was no beer involved at any stage…
 
Q.  What motivated you to try and complete the challenge in a pedal-powered boat?
A.  A pairs crew has only crossed the Atlantic in a pedalo once before, in 1994. Two guys took 111 days to cross the ocean, but their philosophy was very different. Their journey was the start of a human-powered voyage around the world that took almost 20 years, they weren’t raising money for charity, and they weren’t trying to break records. While their boat proved capable, it wasn’t optimised for the challenge. 500 people have rowed the Atlantic, and while it’s clearly an exclusive club, you can count the number of ocean-going pedal-boat expeditions (on any ocean) on one hand. When the Torpedalo is in the water, she’ll be the most advanced human-powered boat in the world. These facts give us a unique angle, and means the project is “something different”, which is so vital in securing sponsorship.
 
Q.  You’ve designed a boat yourselves. What challenges did this present?
A.  Mark took on the challenge of designing a boat from scratch without hesitation. While he’s without doubt an outstanding engineer, he’d never designed a boat before. The learning curve he had to climb was incredibly steep, but with the help of a team of expert design consultants that we recruited, he took it all in his stride. Designing anything is about managing compromise - optimising one aspect of the design individually is almost always detrimental to another area. Mark has combatted this by always thinking holistically about the boat, and every week steps back from his work and thinks about how we’ll actually use it - what kit needs to be where, how we move about through the compartments, how easy it is to access vital systems for repair, etc. One of the biggest challenges was finding organisations willing to provide their services for free to assist with testing the design, and we’re hugely gratefully to Newcastle University for letting us use their hydrodynamic towing tank for six iterations of hull design, and to aerodynamic analysis company Exa for running Computational Fluid Dynamics simulations on the boat design. Ultimately, the biggest challenge was designing a boat that is relatively comfortable to live in for at least six weeks, whilst being small and light enough for us to physically be able to power it through the water. The boat also has to survive significant waves on the ocean, and self-right if it’s capsised - both of which require careful analysis and simulation in the design phase. I have absolute confidence in Mark’s design, and know that it’s going to be an incredible boat.

Q.  You’ve relied on the input of various experts. Can you tell us about them?
A.  Our expert team has been absolutely vital, and we wouldn’t be where we are without them. Firstly, Mr. Phil Morrison was instrumental in bringing Mark up to speed about the fundamentals of ocean-going rowing boat design. Phil designed most of the current range of ocean rowing boats, as well as some beautiful yachts, and gave up hours of his time to talk Mark through the key principles. Professor Martin Downie, Dr. Peter Wright and Mr. Peter Bowes at Newcastle University and Mr. Alex Whatley at Falmouth Marine School were our hydrodynamics experts, guiding Mark through the process of designing a hull that is 40% more efficient through the water than the rowing boats. Mr. Jamie Fabrizio of Global Boat Works talked us through boat construction principles, while Jim Shaw and Alan Ramsay at Bentley Motors have expertly advised us on packaging and ergonomics. Mr. Tim Searle of Composite Innovations holds superior knowledge about designing with carbon fibre, while his wife Debra is a celebrated ocean rower in her own right and has talked us through the realities of life on the ocean. We’re also grateful to Mr. Simon Chalk, who organises the Woodvale Challenge, for always being available to answer our never-ending questions!

Q.  What dangers are involved in the race?
A.  The Atlantic is certainly a dangerous place. Apart from the obvious threats of big seas and stormy weather, we face a number of possibilites. The largest seas place the boat at risk of capsise, so she’s designed to self-right if that happens. Commercial shipping poses a significant risk, and it will be up to us to spot ships and get out of their way! We’ll also have to be wary of submerged shipping containers that can float just below the surface, which could cause significant damage should we run in to them. A rowing boat in a similar event a few years ago was attacked by a shark, so much so that they had to retire from the race and be rescued!
 
Q.  How confident are you feeling?
A.  I am very confident that we’ll have a capable boat, and that we can pedal it from the Canaries to Barbados. Raising £250,000 is certainly a huge task, but with the right publicity and sponsors I’m sure we can achieve it. Breaking the World Record, though, is by no means certain! Our challenge on the 40-day record is very weather dependent, but if we have the right conditions and Lady Luck on our side, I’m confident that we’ll be fit enough and the boat fast enough to break the record.

Q.  What’s the first thing you’ll both do when you’ve landed in Barbados?
A.  Probably immediately try and mount our respective girlfriends, then have a big burger and fries and a fresh orange! While I’d like to think we’ll be very manly about the whole thing, in reality I expect there’ll be tears.

Q.  Money raised through sponsorship is donated to charity. Can you tell us more about which organisations will benefit?
A.  We’ve chosen two outstanding charities - the Motor Neurone Disease Association, and Make-A-Wish. My beloved grandfather, who was a hero of mine, suffered a slow and undignified death from MND in 2005, so I have first-hand experience of what a horrendous disease it is. The MND Association is the charity that cares for those suffering from MND, and funds research into trying find treatments and a cure. We also wanted to raise money for a children’s charity, and Mark proposed Make-A-Wish, which is a fantastic charity that grants very poorly children a wish that they choose - whether it be a trip to Disneyland or to meet a famous celebrity. Both of our charities do incredible, life-changing work, and we’re delighted to be supporting them.

Q.  Can you tell us more about how people can sponsor the project?
A.  We’re able to collect donations through our website, www.torpedalo.com, where there’s a dedicated sponsorship page. The credit card facility on our site is provided by Barclays and is 100% secure, and every single penny donated will go to our charities.

Q.  Do you have any other projects like this in mind?
A.  Not at the moment! My project after this will be getting married in November 2012, and then Mark and I can finish our racing car!

Q.  How do you hope Pelime can help with the Torpedalo project?
A.  Pelime is a brilliant place for meeting like-minded people, and so I’m hoping that we can use Pelime to contact new people to exchange ideas, promote our project and ultimately champion our fundraising cause. Both Mark and I are extremely grateful to Pelime for the invitation to be part of your organisation.

           

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Watch on j-harry-edmiston.tumblr.com

Creative studio, Special Problems, is acclaimed for working with some of the most talented performers, from Alicia Keys to The Naked & Famous to Jonathan Boulet. It now begins a new play on performance in a seductive film, In Pursuit for LUCAS HUGH.

Patricio Suarez

     

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www.pelime.com/psuarez
www.psuarez.com

For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about photography.  It has always been an intricate part of my life.  Even though I’m not a professional photographer, what I do is very closely related to it.  I’m a Director of Photography in the film industry.
I grew up in Mexico and Ecuador, attended college in New York and started my professional career as a DP in Argentina.  I now reside in New York.  I’m just a common guy with a strong passion, a father of two and a husband. 

  

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Q.  Can you explain what triggered your interest in Photography?
A.  Hard to say… I’ve been interested in photography from an early age.  All I can tell you is that I have always been a very visual person.  Somehow, I gravitated towards photography.  Nothing conscious.

Q.  Are there any photographers you admire?
A.  Many for many different reasons…  All the famous ones for their legacy!
We all do, right? I find many photographers everyday in places like Pelime, Flickr, DeviantArt or blogs.  A few I like are: Jock Sturges, Sebastiao Salgado, Michael Kenna and Mona Kuhn.

Q.  Can you tell us a little bit about your interest in Film & Television?
A.  Well, it started when I was 16.  I lived in Ecuador at the time and I was spending my summer vacation in New York. At the time, I wanted to become a National Geographic photographer.  I enrolled in a basic black and white darkroom class and someone suggested that I should also enroll in another class, which I did.  It was a basic filmmaking class taught with Super-8 cameras.  I was hooked. 

Q.  Any important F&TV projects that brought you success?
A.  It’s been a progressive growth process.  Every job I do brings me some sort of success because I’m busy. 

Q.  What are your inspirations?
A.  Way too many to list…  I look at hundreds of photographs daily. 

     

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Q.  Your subjects seem to be generally ‘women’. Is there a specific reason for that?
A.  I find the feminine form very delicate, harmonious and powerful.  I’m bewitched by it.

Q.  Is there a story behind your work?
A.  Not a story per se, but I always put myself in some sort of role.  I try to live vicariously for a few hours.  The model’s attitude and location play a great role into what mental state I’ll be in for the shoot.

Q.  About your photography works, why black & white?
A.  Black and white is very basic and simple. It puts more emphasis into the content of the photographs since there is an absence of color.  I also shoot square because of that.  The content is not weighed by the framing.  Of course you can weight a square frame, but it is purely done with the content and not the frame.  I like how basic all this becomes.  It let’s me focus on the subject.

  

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Q.  Can you talk about your professional experience?
A.  What is there to say?  I love what I do.  I feel blessed because of that.  I try to learn every day and be open to change.  We are surrounded by an ocean of possibilities!

Q.  Any collaboration in photography or film industry?
A.  Well, in my film world is always about collaboration.  It all a team job, I’m just one part of the machine of making films. In photography, I mostly, only, work with the model.  Sometimes my wife helps me but I’d like to collaborate more. I feel that I could learn a lot this way.

Q.  Do you have a favorite piece among your works?
A.  In film, I think my favorite one was a car commercial that I shot in Argentina for Ford.  It was extremely challenging and I was allowed to be free creatively.  We had limited resources because of the remoteness of the location and we all had to be very creative in our approach.
In photography, I think I can pick a few. There is one shoot of mine with a model named Giovanna, pausing against a window. She is embracing a piece of fabric and has her eyes closed.  This photo reminds me a lot of Maxfield Parrish. There is a very painterly feel to it.

    

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Q.  What equipment & techniques do you use?
A.  Even though I own a lot of the equipment, I tend to not give much importance to it.  I believe that a good photograph can be made with anything. 

Q.  What is the motivation behind your choice of art?
A.  I’m a very visual person.  Both industries have the same needs visually but distinct methods of delivery. There is something inside me that pushes me to create. I thrive when I do.

    

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Q.  Are you working on new projects currently?
A.  I always have something flying inside my head.

Q.  What are your professional ambitions and your projects for 2011?
A.  To keep creating and learning…

Q.  How do you hope Pelime can help with this?
A.  I believe Pelime can help me with my future projects by allowing me to interact openly with like-minded people.

C. Kirk

               

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www.ckirkart.com
www.pelime.com/ckirk

C. Kirk is an urban contemporary painter concentrating on figurative art. For more than a decade, he rambled across the country consuming legendary amounts of booze, drugs, sex, misadventure, and jail food. In 2005 he sobered up, settled down, married and turned his insatiable appetite toward becoming a successful artist. After stampeding the Dallas art scene, kirk’s art quickly became a sought after commodity by local collectors, visitors, and those just passing through.

Since then, C. Kirk has turned his focus toward a broader global audience. His work has been featured in publications (both in print and online) worldwide. The art of C. Kirk hangs in corporate and private collections across the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. He lives and works in Texas.

       

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Q.  We would like to know how everything started for you… What triggered your interest in art? In painting?
A.  My mother began to teach me to draw characters from my comic books probably when I was around 5 years old.  I drew until I was probably 13 and then suddenly stopped.  I guess art became less important because I was too busy seeking out pleasure, excitement and escape from reality.  I had a brief stent in art school in 2000, but soon dropped out and didn’t pick up a pencil for at least 4 or 5 years afterward.  In this time I worked every kind of job you could think of and even underwent pro wrestling training.  I traveled the country for a year or so.  I probably either stayed or passed through every state in America.  I’m not sure exactly what happened, but it was during this time on the road that picked up a pencil and began to fill sketchbooks full of distasteful, psychotic, autobiographical illustrations.  Toward the end of my nation wide spree, I began to develop an interest in fine art.  Like I said, I have no I idea what happened…I just remember that I was living in a furniture warehouse in Hickory North Carolina and decided that I was going to do everything in my power to become a successful fine artist.  

Q.  Are there any contemporary painters you admire?  
A.  There are so many contemporary painters that I admire that my list could become incredibly long.  I have collaborated with a few artists who admire including THH70 and George Morton Clark.  I’m also due to collaborate with the Canadian Stencil artist Indigo sometime this summer.  I’m a fan of Guy Denning and many of the British figurative artists working today.  The Berlin based painter Jaybo Monk is a huge inspiration for me, and a pretty nice guy to boot.  I actually helped pick many of the artists for an upcoming group exhibit witch will be held at Seven Minus Seven in the US Virgin Islands toward the end of April.  It was cool to be included in this process because many of the artist including Indigo, Jaybo Monk, and George Morton Clark, are some of my favorite contemporary painters working today.

Q.  Are there any other artists that interest you?
A.  Sure.  Jenny Saville is a phenome.  I’d give my left nut to be able to paint like that women.

Q.  How do you choose your subjects?
A.  A lot of the subjects I paint or draw are people that are close to me.  My wife and my son both have been portrayed in my work on more than one occasion.  I did two portraits of Indigo since late 2010.  I did a portrait of my friend and mentor THH70 last year that turned out to be one of our collaborative pieces.  I stay pretty busy nowadays so I don’t really get out much for social calls, so many of the subjects I draw are from various publications…basically everything from Vogue to old French nudie magazines.   

         

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Q.  What are your inspirations?
A.  I have a few inspirations for sure.  One would be for my name and my work to wind up in museum collections and textbooks someday.  I think it would be great to be remembered and put in that sort of league.  

Q.  Does ‘time’ and ‘space’ mean anything to you?
A.  Time and space do mean something to me.  Time for sure because that is something I have very little of today.  Between having a wife, young son, and being self-employed, I stay pretty busy.  I recently thought how nice it would be to have an assistant, but then realized that I would micromanage things way too much and really wouldn’t trust anyone else to handle things for me.
Space is easy.  Space and depth is what I use to visually create works.

Q.  Is there a story behind your work?
A.  Sometimes there is.  Other times my work is based on observation.  What I think really tells the story in my paintings is the different uses of media, technique, texture, line, ect… Many of my works are based strictly on a character defect or human experience.  I don’t like to tell people what they should get from viewing my work.  I like for them to walk away with their own experience and hopefully identify with some aspect of the piece.  I think that is what great art does for people.

Q.  What materials do you use?
A.  I use a slew of different materials.  I use oil, acrylic, spray paint, charcoal, chalk, prisma, tape, and paper.  I guess that’s primarily what I have used to create my current body of work.

     

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Q.  Are there specific techniques that you prefer?
A.  I find many of the traditional techniques to be very helpful and fulfilling.  One that I started to use last year would be to either paint your surface first to create a mid tone or to work off of Darker toned papers.  When using white paper or primed canvas, I still generally create a mid tone very quickly.  For me, having a mid tone is easier when building a composition.  Occasionally I’ll create my mid tone later in the work using thinned out paint and rubbing areas with a rag to lighten them up.
Another technique that I like to use is one I call “The take away” method.  Basically I just rub out areas of the paint/charcoal to create highlights or sometimes abstraction.

Q.  Have you ever collaborated with other painters?
A.  Yes.  Like I mentioned above, I have collaborated with THH70 on several occasions and last year did a piece with London based artist George Morton Clark.

       

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Q.  How about your first exhibition? Did you face any challenges?
A.  My main challenge early on was my ego.  My work began to sell very quickly when I began showing in Dallas.  There were some occasions when my art would sell out during a show.  I was so driven but still very GREEN, that when a gallery owner didn’t sell my work, I would become angry.  Nowadays, I realize that sometimes art doesn’t always sell.  Sometimes as an artist, you go through ruts or slow periods.

Q.  Do you have a favorite piece among your works?
A.  Last year definitely.  “Manone” was the star of my 2010 body of work.  There were some other good pieces, but “Manone” topped the all in my opinion.  From my current collection I can’t pick favorite piece.  I put a lot of effort into not putting out any filler this year.  I wanted every piece to be able to stand on it’s own as a top quality piece of art.  I don’t believe there is one star of the collection this year.

Q.  You documentation pieces quite impressive! What pushed you to actually do this?
A.  Thank you.  Vimby.com did a video interview over a couple of my 2009 pieces that received an amazing number of hits.  Later THH70 began filming me during the creation of my 2010 body of work.  I enjoyed the documentation, but didn’t necessarily like how THH70 edited the videos.  I wanted to film/edit the videos myself to have complete creative control.  Also, I don’t do live paintings anymore, so I guess I just wanted to find a way to allow people to see how my pieces were created in the most entertaining way that I could.

       

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Q.  Did you prepare them yourself?
A.  Yes.

Q.  What materials were used while filming?
A.  I used a Cannon Power Shot SD3500 IS.  Also, some of the photographs were taken with a Cannon Ultrasonic thanks to Clay Jones of Seven Minus Seven

Q.  Are you working on new projects currently?
A.  Actually for the last 3 or 4 weeks since releasing my new work, I’ve been doing interviews, sending in info/jpegs for features in magazines and blogs, gathering and preparing info for business collaborations, shipping art to buyers, etc…  I haven’t been able to paint or draw since releasing the 2011 collection.  I’m not complaining though, because things will eventually slow down and then I’ll be complaining because there’s nothing going on.  

Q.  What are your professional ambitions and your projects for 2011?  
A.  I have a few goals and plans for this year.  I want to get started on phase two of my 2011 work.  Right now I have a very limited number of paintings available.  If I don’t get to work on more, things are going to get pretty slow pretty fast!  I want to independently release some limited edition prints this year.  Hopefully the first run will be successful and I can release a print once every month or two.  I hope that my collaborations with 5 pieces gallery in Switzerland will be a successful one.  I have also recently started a partnership with a company in Austria called Baloome.com.  They will be offering a selection of my works as T shirts and digital prints on canvas.  I hope offering my works in capacity will be successful as well.  I am also looking for more galleries around the world where I might find opportunities to exhibit my available works.  One of the most important things for me is to keep moving.

Q.  How do you hope Pelime can help with this?
A.  I hope that my membership and participation on Pelime can be beneficial to everyone I work with.  Thanks again for the invite.

FEATURED MEMBER - Thomas Girard

      

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Thomas Girard is a Shanghai-based Agency Art Director, born in Canada in 1980.

After being educated in Industrial Design and Communication Design at the prestigious Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Canada, he relocated to Shanghai to be a university lecturer in design, later becoming an ambassador of the Art Directors Club and contributor to TEDx.

            

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His clients work for Wired Magazine, Microsoft, Electronic Arts and he has garnered awards from Typecon Alphabet City, In Process Conference, Coroflot All-Stars and Butterfly Zone.

Q.  You have experience in artistic design, interactive design and industrial design.
      What would you consider your speciality?
A.  I come from an artistic background. My dad is an art world photographer who used to shoot for Time, Newsweek and Fortune, but now mainly does gallery showing and photography books and some stuff for National Geographic. I often struggle with injecting beauty into my work and having that play balance with functionality. Frankly, I am drawn to beautiful things, but I’m not proud of that. I never liked the word artistic.

Q.  Do you have a different mindset for these different disciplines or do you approach them with the same philosophy?
A.  My educational background is a hybrid of industrial design and visual design. I feel I almost need not talk about the cross over between design disciplines, it’s so ubiquitous. But at the risk of over-clarifying I would say you can approach one type of design with any method you desire and have some sort of outcome. I reserve philosophy for my spare time.

Q.  What inspires your work?
A.  Nature. Women. Beauty.

Q.  You are currently working in Shanghai, China.
      What advantages and challenges does this present you with?
A.  Shanghai is a melting pot of dilapidated buildings, ultra stealth phase empty shopping malls, cheap Coca Cola and migrant workers. To answer your question, it offers an admirable lifestyle to anyone who relocates there and has a little bit of tact, which I would say is both an advantage and a challenge.

Q.  Can you tell us about the work you have done with the Olympics and Paralympics?
A.  A tiny pitch for a boutique agency to win the Vancouver Olympics 2010 Account.

Q.  Since 2010 you have been an ambassador for the Art Directors Club of China.
      Can you tell us about your work with them?
A.  Short-lived. I was honored to be recognized as an Ambassador of ADC China for a time.

Q.  Which project are you most proud of and why?
A.  My thesis project at Emily Carr - I designed the typeface “Sarah” based on John Baskerville’s housekeeper’s first name. Foundry Emigre has a font, called Mrs. Eaves, which is Sarah’s last name. It’s very popular. But I thought Sarah could be more casual and lyrical than Mrs. Eaves, as well as working well on screen mainly because the bigger x-height and the counters are more open. The x-height is so small on Mrs. Eaves, it looks squished.
I emailed Zuzanna Licko (co-founder of Emigre) about it and got a kind of grumpy email back.

Q.  Which project has been the most difficult and why?
A.  Same project. I always went back and forth between if I should release it or not.
      I never did.

Q.  What are your plans for 2011?
A.  On my desk now I have some work for Sochi 2014 Olympics.
      I’ll probably do a trip to Paris with my wife, and continue research in Russia.

Q.  You teach extensively. What are your impressions of the next generation of designers?
A.  I would divide them. The next generation of first world designers vs those of the developing world. First world designers have a sense of ambivalence to the world around them. No real need or opportunity to improve things at that certain scale, that sort of monstrous scale that exists in some places. The developing world makes all of the changes that can be made, but perhaps struggles to realise those changes. But they have hope.

       

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FEATURED MEMBER - DAVID WIGHTMAN

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http://www.pelime.com/davidwightman

http://www.davidwightman.net

Based in the London’s creative hub of Hackney Wick, artist David Wightman’s work uses layers of precisely-cut, brightly-painted wallpaper to create abstract works and hypercolour landscapes. Wightman draws on postmodern techniques like hybridity and pastiche, along with basic geometric shapes, to reinvent and almost send up established genres. While his abstract works often take the form of rounded and square targets, his landscapes present familiar scenes such as mountaintops, injected with swathes of bright colour and simplified in a comicbook-esque style.

A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Wightman has previously exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Korea International Art Fair, the London Art Fair and is a regular participant in east London’s Hackney Wicked Art Festival. He has presented several solo shows in London and Manchester, the most recent of which is Secret Name at Paddington’s Art Work Space Gallery. Wightman was a finalist in the 2003 Lexmark European Art Prize, and won the RCA Hunting Art Prize in the same year.

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Q.  What was the idea behind your most recent collection, Secret Name?

A.  I had been wanting to show my mountainscapes and abstract paintings together for some time when my dealers, SUMARRIA LUNN, offered me a solo show. I see both types of work as being mutually linked by process and concept. So having them together for a solo show at a large space like Art Work Space was ideal.

Q.  Do you have a favourite piece in the exhibition?

A.  I have two favourite pieces in the show: ‘Lorelei’ and the eponymously titled ‘Secret Name’.

Q.  Your work seems to aim to reinvent the landscape for the modern art public. Do you think there’s still room for this genre in the art world?
A.  I’m not sure. But that’s precisely why it intrigues me as a genre. I see ‘landscape’ in a similar way to abstraction. They’re both pursuits that have fallen out-of-favour in contemporary art discourse. And they both seem to embody a failed sense of the romantic and aspirational.

Q.  There also seems to be an element of pop art in the way you take an everyday object like, as you admitted in one article, “cheap wallpaper from B&Q”, and imbue it with a more sophisticated meaning. Have you always been interested in the postmodern side of art?

A.  I’m not sure if it’s entirely postmodern. Perhaps it’s closer to  Braque’s use of collaged newspaper in his paintings. However, I like the idea of elevating an everyday material or at least making the viewer think different about it. But the wallpaper has a personal connection too. I grew up in a house papered with cheap, but aspirational wallpaper. So wallpaper is more than simply an everyday object to me. It reminds me of my past. It’s a little like Warhol painting tins of Campbell’s Soup, not as an ironic statement about consumerism. But because he used to eat them every day as a child.

Q.  There’s also a strong emphasis on geometry and abstract shapes in your work. What is it about these facets of art that appeal to you?

A.  I see my abstract paintings as a lament to geometric abstraction. I wish I could continue the tradition that seemed to end with post-painterly abstraction in America. But, somehow, it seems false or pretentious to even desire to continue in the same vain. My work is an attempt to reclaim abstraction (and landscape) on my own terms.

Q.  Additionally, there is a great deal of precision inherent in the layering techniques you use. What made you want to work with such challenging material?

A.  My collaging technique is similar to marquetry. I like the idea of investigating two established yet maligned genres. But approaching them with a technique that relies on an element of craft and discipline. I think the technique imbues my work with nostalgia and whimsy. And plays up the fact that both genres have become somewhat kitsch.

Q.  Who or what inspires you as an artist?

A.  Ad Reinhardt and Caspar David Friedrich. And the process of collaging and painting itself.

Q.  Are you working on any new projects currently?

A.  I’ve just started a six-month residency in Northumberland: the Berwick Gymnasium Fellowship. It’ll give me the time and space to make a new body of work and to expand on what I’ve achieved with ‘Secret Name’.

Q.  As an artist, do you consider the response your work will create in an audience during the creative process, or is it solely an individual exercise?

A.  I think about the response from different audiences during the creation of my work. But I try to focus on the process of making work itself. I immersed myself in my studio practice in preparation for ‘Secret Name’ and I’m now trying to do the same with my residency.

Q.  What do you hope to achieve for the rest of 2010 and how do you think Pelime might help facilitate this?

A.  I’d like to capitalize on the success of ‘Secret Name’ and have my work viewed by new audiences. Pelime shall definitely help to facilitate this.

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FEATURED MEMBER - John Hicks

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http://www.pelime.com/johnhicks/

http://www.johnhicks.co.uk/

Born in Bristol, England, John Hicks always preferred everything but the conventional route of education.  He left left school with poor grades and nothing but an interest in photography that had simply stemmed from the ownership of a Kodak Instamatic at age 10.

If you would ask him what he does professionally, he would say : 

"I travel, take photos and stick them in albums!"

Having worked on numerous global advertising campaigns and done a significant amount of international business, Digital Photographer recently nominated him one of the top names in editorial and advertising photography and 2009 saw him honored with inclusion in the prestigious Creative Review Annual.

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Q.  You say you were never a big fan of school and teaching manners.  How is that?

A.  I guess the state school system failed me and I failed it. I was good at art and sport and that’s it.

Q.  What enthralled you with photography that you couldn´t find elswhere?

A.  I got into photography as a kid. On family holidays i would take endless photos of everything and anything and spend hours arranging them in albums. My dad was a chemist so it always was easy to get my stuff processed for free. and later I made a darkroom in the broom cupboard and did it all myself. My dad loved to shoot super 8 movies of me and my sister. I remember one shot he set up where one moment I was riding the swings and the next I’d disappeared and only the empty swing was left - riding the breeze. Stuff like that sticks in my mind even today.I can’t rememember when or why photography became an obsession for me but it did and while it can be the most frustrating, all consuming passion when it all comes good (the light, composition, decisive moment, the energy) its like electricity passing through your body and there is no better feeling.

Q.  How would you define your work? What do your photos say about you?

A.  It’s difficult to define because I’m always trying to evolve and move forward. I’ve always been interested in the decisive moment and motion capture but now I find myself more drawn to environmental portraits of people that really inspire me and lately these shots have had a still and quiter quality to them.I like to find beauty in everything - even decay…I’m not sure that my photos say more than this is me - what I do and what i see and how i feel. I can live with that.

Q.  Do you have any expectations with your work? What do you actively try to express? 

A.  Right now the only expectation I have of my work is to ENJOY it and to feel proud of what I do. My photography won’t change the world but it does serve as a way for me to communicate with a huge amount of people and to try to capture a series of personal emotions and themes that are central to my pictures - hope, beauty, struggle, pride, rebellion, honesty, integrity, energy, life.

Q.  You are currently on a project with HDSLR video, can you tell us a bit more about this?

A.  HDSLR video is such an amazing thing to have happened to photography because it opens up so many opporuntiies. I’d dabbled in film making before but the costs/time/team needed to pull it off were prohibitive but now i can shoot stills and video with the same camera!I’m putting together a show reel of my stuff and finishing up a couple of 3 minutes films I made that allow me to explore more of my cinematic eye and the audio visual medium of visual storytelling - it’s exciting!!

Q.  You started your own workshops called AVISUALI, how did you come up with that?

A.  Avisuali - I’ve always been interested in sharing knowledge and working in the States I came across a lot of really well respected photographers doing workshops and pooling information. it was ike a revelation because up until then the professional photographers i’d met were totally paranoid and always worried that someone was out to steal their shots or lighting set up. A lot of photographers will even keep a closed set because of this but I’ve never had a problem with sharing info.I love to communicate and some friends would say i talk too much but I believe that an open mind will keep you fresh, vibrant and energized and I have as much to learn as the next man. So it got me thinking…..I have an amazing beach house on Lanzarote in the Cananry islands. i’ve travelled the world on shoots and struggled to find better light and or locations than those outside my front door so why not open those doors to others as interested in photography as I am.Check out more info www.avisuali.com

Q.  What are you currently working on?

A.  I’m currently in post production on a short film I’ve made called Last Man Standing about a 70 year old boxer reliving the glory moments of his past while coming to terms with the inevitability of time and the toll it takes on your body,mind,spirit.I’m also working on a series of  portraits in the twilight zone, wrapping up my show reel and experimenting with time lapse.

Q.  What do you hope to achieve for the rest of 2010? How do you think Pelime might help!?

A.  I guess I just want to feel proud of what i try to do -even if I fall short or fail to do it I want to try to challenge myself as much as I can and keep moving forward. ….Pelime and other networks like you can help me with this because I have a terrible habit of ‘once i’ve pressed the shutter button i know instinctively if i have a good shot or not and I’ve never really been into archiving my work or portfolio presentations, etc because i’m so focused on the next shot but when i spend time and hook up with like minded people i always wish i did a little more to collate my own photography into a body of work. Also i love feedback so here’s hoping i get better at this!

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Watch on j-harry-edmiston.tumblr.com

www.philipbloom.net

A first attempt at HDR tone mapping timelapse.

Watch on j-harry-edmiston.tumblr.com

Motion Graphics: TO-FU
www.to-fu.tv

Reference:
paulzii.tumblr.com/​post/​3360025995

Music:
Fairest of them all by Kämmerer
jamendo.com/​en/​track/​751979

Watch on j-harry-edmiston.tumblr.com

www.pelime.com/hugogoudswaard

Direction, photography, motiondesign and edit by Hugo Goudswaard
Shot with a Panasonic GH2 | Music: Whale’s Belly - The Horn The Hun

Matt Humphrey

                          

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www.pelime.com/matthumphrey
http://www.matthumphreyimages.com/

Matt is a documentary and portrait photographer whose work bears a strong international influence. He’s lived and worked in Spain, South America and South-east Asia throughout his life, and has also spent time in Brazil, Cuba and Peru as part of his studies, earning a degree in Hispanic studies from the University of Manchester.

    

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After graduating, he spent five years teaching Spanish and French to students in the UK and Hong Kong. It was then that he decided to devote himself fully to his lifelong passion - photography. Based in London, he has taken photographs in West End theaters, both of stage productions and behind the scenes action; his work can be found displayed in the Old Vic.

Last October, he held his first solo show, Nicaragua: Open Wound, in Canning House. Other work includes Death in the Afternoon, a series of photos of bullfighting. He also took part in 31thirtyone, a series of 31 photographic portraits taken across 31 days. The project garnered the involvement of Kevin Spacey, Sam Mendes and Richard E. Grant, and the auction proceeds were donated to Crohns & Colitis UK.

    

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Q.  What prompted you to give up teaching an pursue photography full-time?
A.  Although teaching stimulated me cerebrally and creatively, it left very little time for me to pursue my passion, which has always been photography. I had always fancied the idea of earning a living from a hobby and something that I inherently enjoyed every part of. I am a creative soul at heart, and thrive off the buzz of taking photos and finding special moments to capture.

Q.  Was it a difficult transition?
A.  It was a massive leap of faith to go from steady, full-time, regularly paid and secure work to chasing my dream in the creative industry, and at a time of huge austerity too! In retrospect, quite a mad choice, but not one that I regret. I figured that if I didn’t make it I could always go back to teaching, which so far I have not had to do. It takes time to build up regular clients though and it has quite often been a test of patience, as well as book-keeping.

    

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Q.  How do you decide which projects to undertake?
A.  At first I didn’t decide and took whatever opportunities came my way. This is the only way to set out and the best way to gain experience of working with a variety of people and in a variety of situations as quickly as possible. Of late I have made my own projects if the ones I want have not appeared. This was the real impetus behind my latest portrait project 31thirtyone, which featured 31 portraits of actors and directors taken in as many days. As I had total creative freedom in it, I really enjoyed seeing it evolve and expand, and in the end it was very successful, being featured a couple of times in The Independent, as well as The Evening Standard and other national professional photography magazines. I also raised in excess of £12,000 in aid of the nominated charity for the project.

Q.  What is it about portraits that interests you in particular?
A.  I enjoy the challenge of trying to find that inner silence or something different or quirky about the person who I am photographing. During 31thirtyone, I was in a different location with unpredictable lighting scenarios for every shoot, so technically it was hard to plan for, but a great challenge. I enjoy building up a relationship with the person on the other side of the lens and trying to figure out how to coax out a certain characteristic of their personality. Quite often this can be fairly hard as there are actually very few people who can feel totally at ease with a camera pointed at them. Finding a way around this interests me - that and getting a graphically strong image.

                                       

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Q.  Do you think you have a particular style, and if so, what informs it?
A.  In this latest project my style was to use natural or available light only, in an attempt to get as raw and organic a photo as possible. My reasoning behind this was to try and portray the sitters that I was photographing (well-known faces such as Kevin Spacey, Jeff Goldblum, Michelle Ryan) with their guard down and in as natural a way as possible. I was interested in them, not a character or the personality that they are built up to be. I would like to think that I am quite unobtrusive in my style of photographing, in an attempt to draw out an unforced look. I believe that if your sitter feels comfortable with you as a person without the lens, then there is more chance of getting the shot you want out of it.

Q.  Your first solo show was a series of portraits of Nicaragua, entitled Open Wound. Can you tell us more about this project?
A.  This was a series of photographs that I took when I visited Nicaragua in early 2009 with a charity called the Peace & Hope Trust. I was there volunteering with the charity, whose aim during that particular stay was to build a bakery and assist families that live and work on a rubbish tip in the Atlantic coastal town of Bluefields. They wanted photos of their work, and for me it was a privilege to help them out - speaking Spanish was also very handy to their work. In terms of the images that I took and exhibited, they featured the type of reportage work that I have always primarily enjoyed taking, and that I would love to do more of. It is important to put everything else into perspective every now and then, but also to be able to share stories with others through still images and to provoke contemplation is an integral part of our mission as photographers.

Q.  You’ve worked frequently with West-end theatres in London. What is it you enjoy about working there?
A.  Entering the backstage world, that is privy to few, and being able to take photographs is a huge privilege for a start. I also enjoy the whole process of putting on a production in theatre and, having worked behind the scenes, I can appreciate the different levels and stages of this. It is the moments that happen offstage, in the corridors, dressing rooms and quiet times that are the ones that the cast and crew remember most, but that the public are rarely able to witness. I find it absolutely fascinating to observe these and, if possible, record them. I like this approach to working and have learned the importance of knowing and researching all the strata of a particular project.

                                        

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Q.  What projects are you currently working on?
A.  I have a few personal projects that are ongoing, but I am also planning the next 31thirtyone, which will feature portraits of well-known musicians. It will have the same format as before in that I aim to take 31 portraits in as many days, and will then feature these portraits in an exhibition. I will hold a silent auction of these prints again and, alongside further print sales, attempt to raise money for charity. This year I am raising money in aid of The African Workshop, based in Mali, which helps local street children to learn, play music and socialise in a secure environment, keeping them away for the perils of child labour, poverty and crime. I’m very excited about it, and can’t wait to see who I can get on board!

    

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Q.  How do you hope Pelime can help with these?
A.  Well, with such a creative network, I hope to find some other like-minded individuals who may be interested in getting involved with this innovative and exciting project. Introductions can be difficult to come by, which is why I am really looking forward to getting into Pelime and seeing what is out there!

FEATURED MEMBER - James Hughes

                        

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http://www.jameshughesphotography.com/

James started photography using a camera made by his mother when she worked for Canadian Kodak. While learning Australian as a boy he started taking pictures of his brothers with kangaroos and never looked back. Despite working & fighting his way through the living industrial archaeology of Northern Ireland ( its factories & bars ) building cars in England ( Land Rover & Aston Martin ) and sleeping in strange countries with his faithful Rolleiflex and sciatica- inducing tripod.

   

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He decided to study photography first in England (HND / BA Hons) and back home to Northern Ireland (MA / MPhil). His other talents include archivist of his long term empire of dirt (photography books and junk) while his unpublished memoirs in the form of poetry and graphic design continue to grow unabated. Recently a grandfather to Amelia he knows the value of staying up late, which he combines with the habit of watching only foreign subtitled movies and talking to strangers about photography. He has never been to Machu Picchu.

    

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Today, James is a celebrated photographer with a wonderful breadth of subject matter and feeling. He has had dozens of shows and won many awards. His work is collected by intellectuals and critics, museum patrons and a few enlightened locals. Through 8 Publications he has published his two recent books, “Spectres of Place: Three Decades of Ulster Interiors”. and “Spectres of Trotsky : The Lost Interiors of an Exile”. His work is represented internationally in some very exotic (and not so exotic) places.

He currently resides in Istanbul, Turkey.

            

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Q.  What does art mean to you?
A.  Art for me is like nourishment for hunger, a hunger for the visual and I can’t imagine living without that.

Q.  Do you have a favorite modern artist?
A.  Amselm Kiefer currently ticks the boxes for me.

Q.  Who are the artists you admire and why?
A.  Certainly Caravaggio for his color and light and similarly the director Andrei Tarkovsky: his use of narrative and poetics

Q.  When was your first exhibition?
A.  1997 was the first solo exhibition called Northlight at Clotworthy Arts Photo Gallery

Q.  What challenges did you face?
A.  I was working 12-hour night shifts in a factory while freelancing during the day combined with apathy for creativity within my home environment, though both reinforced my desire to continue.

Q.  What does photography mean to you?
A.  A way of expression particularly for my hidden personal side and for preserving the stories of the forgotten. 

Q.  Do you have a favourite piece among your works?
A.  Many usually due to the connections with taking them, currently the triptych Was I sleeping as it is a departure from my usual style but mainly because of the power in which it took me! It was a Samuel Beckett moment hence the use of waiting for Godot texts as caption.

Q.  What/who were your subjects when you first started out?
A.  Documenting my home environment and a love of photographing the local were the first to steps I took.

Q. Could you tell us a bit more about your creative process?
A.  I have a wide range of influences which work unconsciously while I tend to let the subject matter find me, usually leaving myself open to chance/fate then I research the place/interior. I wait patiently for the right conditions (light/weather) but work very quickly from the point of deciding a direction, as I often can’t return, spontaneously a bit like a criminal and the crime scene. 

Q. What equipment do you use and why?
A.  Digital at the moment, Nikon D2X with a 17-55mm for the very convenience of speed of use and its range of colour and latitude on RAW files. Although I can say that my long-term personal companion is my 2.8F Rolleiflex; always with a tripod for interiors and a good pair of walking boots.

Q.  What techniques do you use to obtain the piece you want?
A.  Camera on the tripod with the mirror locked up for long exposure with the maximum aperture and lowest ISO. I also expose for the highlights and saturated colour. I use photoshop to pull back the shadows and the color the low ISO reduces noise but it’s a balancing act so bracketing helps. Also the light, never sunny its best when overcast and my favorite condition is light rain (drizzle) as the light is defused naturally. This technique becomes like meditation as I wait during the exposures and the vibe of an interior can influence the composition.

This also translates through to the final prints. I spend a lot of time sampling papers and inks. When the printer of my last exhibition Spectres of Trotsky: the Lost Interiors of An Exile asked for my preference of style of printing was told: in the style of Caravaggio the reply was unrepeatable …but that’s what I aim for.

Q.  What is the motivation behind your choice of material?
A.  My motivation is in finding Poetics, history, narrative and melancholy aligned with a sense of place in subject and is personal, it’s like a high when it comes together, the rest is secondary.  

Q.  Can you talk about one of your strongest work? 
A.  Glenda’s Bed, the picture of the bed with the mattresses piled upon it is the most successful and effects audiences the most. It came about when Glenda saw my work as part of a conference presentation, she told me about her deceased Father in laws house which she thought was a good subject for my style. A few months later she showed me around the recently deserted farm and left me inside to photograph. Upon opening the hatch into the attic I was presented with the gift that is the image Glenda’s Bed. I call it a gift because like many artist/photographers there are times when the subject is presented like a gift when you only go through the motions of your technique or style and the rest is presented in front of you. So with the Bed taken in the style of long exposure by a small skylight on a rainy day, me balancing on the attic hatch … the remnant’s of her father in laws bed are preserved and without the story it still strikes a chord with people because mostly they bring there own baggage to it as picture. 

Q.  You recently moved to Turkey. Is there a specific reason for that?
A.  I was attracted by the sense of place and time, the weather also as I was tired of months of darkness in my homeland. I also like the attitude to the outsider which I prefer and am learning visually from the very different way of seeing.

Q.  What was the force that attracted you there?
A.  The project Trotsky’s lost interiors which found me on the Princes Islands of Istanbul and it was the start of an affair with a place and people in flux.

Q.  How does Istanbul inspire you?
A.  Its unique sense of place and time, its colour of light and personality, for me images everywhere and time frozen.

Q.  Each and every work of yours is very strong but the most intriguing ones are the Georgian and the Buildings at risk. What inspired you to create these projects? Can you tell us the story behind it?
A.  The series buildings at risk where a reaction and one of the reasons I started taking pictures, I was concerned about the disappearance of vernacular buildings and interiors, this has continued to date with the Georgian buildings in Dublin. They started as a research interest and became a passion which is possibly reflected in the images.  

Q.  Are you working on new projects currently?
A.  Finishing an MPhil thesis (Could Northern Irish Interiors be Defined Photographically), also two documentary projects: one on the abandoned photography albums of the anonymous people of Turkey and the other Doors and Shoes of the Dead (In Turkey the ancient tradition of putting the deceased persons shoes outside the door still continues, I have almost completed a series for exhibition & publication) and also I will be teaching at Plato in Istanbul.

Q.  What are your professional ambitions and your projects for 2011?
A.  My objectives for 2011 are to complete the recent projects and also start compiling my retrospective for 2012 and beyond … a vast project as I have 30 years of un scanned negatives, also to publish a small series of limited quality artists books time permitting.

Q.  How do you hope Pelime can help with this?
A.  Through contact with like minded creative people with possible liaisons on similar projects.

    

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FEATURED MEMBER - Ilker Gürer

      

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http://www.ilkergurer.com/

Born in July 18th 1976 in Turkey, Ilker Gürer had his high school education in Istanbul. At the age of 19, Gürer decided to study in USA to improve his linguistic skills and also with the aim of seeking for a job that would fit him. Studied in a small town in Florida, Gürer went to the Central Florida Community College on Business Administration that he later on dropped it. Once his first camera Fujica Slr bought from a Pawnshop, Gürer started getting strongly interested in documentary photography. 

    

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However, Ilker Gürer’s passion for photography got stronger in 2002 in Sudan while working there for two years in Gezira state area, near Khartoum. Shooting photographs of locals then was just for hobby. In his way back to Turkey in 2004, Gürer knew that he had found what he wanted to do in his life. His first documentary was photographed in 2005 on disabled basketball players. His passion on documentary after that experience got even stronger. Gürer has been freelancing ever since for various publications in news and documentary. What inspires him is the examination of the effects of urban transformation on humans and the way they express their strength when facing hardship. 

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Q.  What does art mean for you?
A.  It is kind of a Political and existential way of seeing life I guess. The purpose of art could be to influence and touch the masses or even just minorities. In my case, in my geographical location, I suppose my targeted audience is quite limited. I believe art could play the role of bringing the differences together, providing platforms for people to discuss and share.

Art is progressive, and all the artists, no matter how hard they try to seclude themselves in order to see things, they cannot deny that they are also products of the environments, with their own social backgrounds and societies they come from. I believe that the creation of Art could only come from people’s understanding and engagement with the world surrounding them, always in a process of being shaped and reshaped. Art is not a record but a recording, much more then a reflection of human agency and action.

Q. What does photography mean to you?
A.  I would like to say that I completely agree with Berger on his definition of photography. He says that photography is about capturing the moments after a process of rendering observation of self- consciousness. I believe the standards of ‘what is worth looking at’ could be judged by all that I willingly have not shown. Therefore the style I try to adopt as a photographer all about the collaboration and connections I build with the subjects. I try to bring their voices into their visual images by allowing their dreams and fantasies to take shape. Therefore, by adding the documentary touch, which is not documentation- realism, could contribute a lot to reflexive yet less subjective visual interpretations.

The representational media should not be mistaken as mirrors that reflect reality but rather be accepted as a system through which different identities could be performed. The photographer here is also a performed identity.

Q.  Do you have a favorite piece among your works?
A.  I would say until now I shot two really great pictures that I could call my favorites. Both are from street and single images. Other then that, I really liked being in Crimea; the actual place and those people attracted me enormously. So when it comes to my favorite story, I could say that my Crimean Tartar story is my favorite until today.

Q.  What were your subjects when you first started out?
A.  I was very shy at the beginning so I started with animals and concrete stuff. People were a bit too complicated and difficult for me to approach. So I concentrated on nature, the environment and buildings where I discovered technical aspects of the camera, but the dream was always to shoot social life, and humans.

Q.  Could you tell us a bit more about your creative process?
A.  As I mentioned it earlier, I began with documentary style photography .I was influenced by Robert Capa, Eugene Smith and some other famous documentary photographers. They were and still are my heroes.  I realized that I found my way in photography through them and I had only one purpose when I chose photography: social issues. I shot for about three months the first time in 2000, then in 2004. Those 4 years that I spent without shooting were an education period for me, where I learned how to look and perceive photojournalism and related works, stories. In 2004, I decided to become a photographer, earn my life through it and go deeper into that process. Throughout the years, the more I got comfortable shooting in the streets the more I realized that I like ‘the happening of the everyday life’ and it’s simplicity and complications in the same time were two things that attracted me to it the most. Then it leaded me to shoot the way I do now. I opened not only my eyes but my heart to people and to the rest of the world.

Q.  What equipment do you use and why?
A.  I use digital SLR and two small fix lenses; in the beginning, I thought that the 35mm fitted me more than the square format. Lately, I use both the 35mm and the 50mm lenses. I did not use the 50mm in the beginning because I was a little shy and then I said to myself ‘you have to lose that feeling’, but the more I pushed myself to use those lenses, the more I saw the difference it made in my work.

Q.  What techniques do you use to obtain the piece you want?
A.  Generally the first step I take during the beginning of the process is to create a relationship with the participants and the subject of my work. I do not directly start shooting instead I take my time and mainly search for interesting participants and then observe them. Later on, I start working further with the camera…

Q.  What is the motivation behind your choice of material?
A.  The motivation is always and will always be my deep interest in to the sociological and political forms of existence. Everything related to human behavior and most importantly differences in cultures are my motivation.

Q.  You assisted the production of a short film, Banished, can you talk a little bit about your experience?
A.  I did assist the production of Banished in addition to the photo shooting of each of the production and I can say that it was hard for me to hold the microphone and translate. I have always been interested in Turkic ethnic cultures throughout the former countries of the Soviet Union and therefore when the invitation to go to Crimea (a part of the Ukraine) came to me, the opportunity seemed perfect; it was going to be my first foreign assignment.
A British colleague of mine, a TV journalist who was working to cover the story, actually told me about the Tartar problems; she asked me if I would be interested in join her as a translator because I speak Turkish and its various dialects. We discussed about the project extensively and I realized that working on it would encourage me to proceed with my own interest in researching the personal stories of this part of the Turkic people. No longer would I have to depend just on historical books. Therefore before I went to Crimea, I had read a little about the Crimean Tartars to gather information. Meeting them personally though showed me more than I had ever known. They were Turkic but we were speaking the same language; each of them told me their personal stories. Experiencing this, with these people and seeing their dignity and hope for the future despite the existing problems affected me enormously.

Q.  Are you thinking of making your own short film?
A.  I had never thought of it until you asked, I do not really know.

Q.  Are you working on new projects currently?
A.  I recently finished a project. The new one that I am planning to start now is closely related to urbanization processes. I also did a project on urban transformation last year with a friend of mine. The purpose was to discover the effects urban transformation have on people, I am still working on it.

Q.  What are your professional ambitions and your projects for 2011?
A.  I actually try to relax this year and leave on the productions aside for a while. I plan to do two portrait series on different subjects first and then continue my urbanization effects project. I came to realize that I need to concentrate more on showing my work and this is why I have been thinking of publishing my own book.

Q.  How do you hope Pelime can help with this?
A.  I believe that Pelime will help me to meet interesting people with different and similar minds in the same time; I am happy to start out with a new community.

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FEATURED MEMBER - Caleb Charland

                               

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www.calebcharland.com

Caleb Charland is an experimental photographer who captures everyday physical phenomena, that most people never think about, in a unique and inspiring way.

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Growing up in rural Maine, Caleb spent his childhood in a Do-It-Yourself-oriented household where his father would constantly ask for his help in remodelling the house. These experiences raised an awareness on Caleb´s part of the potential for creative use of materials, and the ability to fabricate his vision.

Caleb obtained a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in photography with departmental honours from the Massachusetts College of Arts and Design in 2004 and a Master of Fine Art degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a Trustees Fellow in 2010.

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In his work Caleb has the curiosity of a scientist, wondering how natural forces can best be represented by particular photographic techniques. His works originate in a questioning of how things work and how a certain process of events will manifest itself visually. It is usually the unforeseen that ends up providing the most interesting part of the image.

For Caleb, each photograph begins with a simple question: “How would this look?” “Is that possible?” “What would happen if..?” and he develops it through a sculptural process of experimentation. Each image is therefore a field for a potentially fascinating visual puzzle.

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All of his images are created in-camera without digital manipulation
The innovation of his photography comes from the use of everyday objects that he finds around his domestic space such as matches, mirrors and different lights, to elaborate upon more exotic experiences.

Caleb is always uncertain of how the shoots will finally appear, as his ideas are mostly provoked by an uncertain curiosity about the world, how things work and wondering what a certain process will lead to visually. Sometimes it work, sometimes not, but he keeps on trying, keeps on shooting, because he believes that knowing exactly how a picture will come out is too boring.

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His last project, called “BioGraphs”, is based around a discovery that he made whilst removing the silver from the film to make images of bacterial growth. As with many other ventures, it wasn’t successful because some silvers remained on the film, however Caleb was amazed to see that the bacteria was growing in patterns that were redepositing the image particles, their life cycles imprinted in silver.

Caleb went on creating solid fields of colour on the film, which he then coated with Agar, a nutrient source and a base where the bacteria could grow. Slowly the bacteria would eat the Agar, and then go on to consume the film emulsion.

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Q.  Caleb, you are widely known for your scientific photography. Where does your interest in this discipline come from?
A.  I’ve always understood science as a way to study, explore, and understand the world. Both art and science are about being curious and inquisitive. Ever since I was a kid watching and helping my dad work on the house, seeing him transform simple materials into a home, I’ve been curious about how things work. As I got older I realized I could find my own way to study the world around me and make those observation into interesting pictures. The work I’m inspired to make satisfies a desire to reinterpret information gained from observing the world and a desire to build.

I think the drive to incorporate simple science into my pictures came in 2005 when I was taking classes in math and science at a community college. I was 25 then and thought that I might go into the medical imaging field, I thought that I could support my art habit by working as an x-ray tech. Part of that training required courses in math and science. One day in class I thought about looking through some children’s books of science experiments for ideas. I knew that I couldn’t just follow the directions line by line and end up with art. However I was getting back to a place where the world seemed honestly fascinating. No one person owns the rights to basic science, its everyone’s and it remains a fascinating well of curiosity and discovery.

Q.  To what extent do you try to understand the science behind the things you are photographing?
A.  Enough to make the image well informed. The science is often a matter of fact, literally. The real challenge and the aspect I focus on most is the context of the phenomena. By using drills and matches for example I think it gives people a way into the work. By using objects that are well understood, people seem to relate to what I’ve found and offer in the picture.

Q.  How do you go about finding your subjects?
A.  It’s hard to say exactly where an idea comes from, sometimes they appear out of nowhere. I used to look to science books as well as Google for ideas on classic experiments for weekend scientists, and I still do from time to time. I think my favourite ideas come from direct observation, for example my image “Ten Seconds in Oil and Water” came to me while doing the dishes one night, I noticed water dripping into a pan of cooking oil. Usually we see oil on top of water, but in this case the fluids were reversed. The water fell into the pan and formed perfect little spheres of liquid within another liquid. The hard part was then expanding the idea into a full frame image, but that’s the most enjoyable facet of my process, getting something to work.

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Q.  How do you set up your photos?
A.  I do everything myself and its different for every picture. Often the set up is informed by the experimental process, I try to incorporate as much of the device or the event as I can. I want the image to be a question and the title a clue to the solution.
You’ll notice in a lot of the images the environment is controlled, for example using a grey background helps isolate the object/event before the camera so there aren’t any distractions or unintended visual collisions in the frame. Though recently I’m trying to make work in the landscape and hope to find more collisions and uncontrollable events.

Images can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 weeks or longer to get right. Or if something isn’t working the way I’d hoped I have to put the idea down for a while, probably until I wise up and realize I was pushing it in a direction it didn’t want to go in and often the object and the phenomena know how to make better pictures than I do. I think the key is finding that harmony between how the idea wants to be seen and how I intend to show it.

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Q.  Can you take us through your photographic process? And what equipment do you normally use for your photography?
A.  My studio has a “junkyard” aesthetic. Nothing is that precious besides the lens and the one portable studio flash I have. I shoot with a 4x5 inch monorail view camera, usually a 90mm or a 135mm lens. I use one table for a lot of the images, its long and and not very wide which I’ve found to be helpful when photographing objects…since the table doesn’t extend that far back it takes up less of the frame. This allows an object to feel more prominent in the image.

I use simple metal clamp lights attached to wooden stands I made out of scrap wood from my dad’s garage. It’s not what you have but what you do with it I guess (I hope).

Q.  Your work seems to be quite a challenge. Are you a perfectionist?
A.  Not a perfectionist, perhaps a Just-enough-ist. I think if and when one is being too much of a perfectionist they develop tunnel vision and tend to miss an unexpected occurrence. However I do want things to work a certain way and I’ll spend hours and hours getting it right. Art has taught me to accept and be comfortable with failure. 70 or 80% of the time things don’t work, but it’s in no way wasted time, that’s the time you learn the most I think. People can tell you they like something a hundred times but you only listen to the one negative comment, it’s the only way to get better.

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Q.  Which photographers and artists inspire you?
A.  Tom Friedman, Abelardo Morell, Zeke berman, William Lamson, Joseph Cornell, Cezanne, Werner Herzog, E.J.Marey, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Sugimoto, Terry Gilliam, Olafur Eliasson, Adam Ekberg, Ben Franklin…

Q.  What are your ambitions and projects for 2011?
A.  I would like to make a book available. To remember simpler is better. To work on a bigger scale out in the environment. Read more. Have fun and to stay curious.

Q.  What would you like to gain from your involvement with Pelime?
A.  To get on more radar screens and to be involved in a group of creatively diverse do-ers and thinkers.

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FEATURED MEMBER - Tom Szaky

      

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Tom Szaky is the founder and CEO of TerraCycle, a company that has turned a lot of heads by making environmentally friendly products out of non-recyclable waste materials.

                               

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He started the company in 2001 aged 19 years old, and a freshman at Princeton University. He hoped to find a way to make environmental responsibility good for businesses. TerraCycle started out as a business selling fertilizer produced by Tom’s large worm farm. After a shaky start, the company attracted investment thanks to a local radio station taking an interest. However, a lack of funds left the business unable to afford proper packaging, so Szaky started shipping his fertilizer to places like Home Depot and Walmart in used soda bottles. Other companies started asking for advice on dealing with their waste, and Tom decided there was a market for a business that could find innovative uses for non-recyclable garbage. TerraCycle started turning old Stonyfield Farm yogurt pots into plant containers, and Capri Sun drinks pouches into holdalls. The business is able to turn a profit out of raw materials that other companies are more than happy to unload on them.
 
As well as Home Depot and Walmart, TerraCycle also ships products to Target, OfficeMax, Petco and Whole Foods Market, and collects waste materials from Starbucks, Kraft Foods, SC Johnson, Mars, Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s and Nestlé. They operate in six countries and hope to expand to more soon. The company has earned awards and accolades from Inc. Magazine, Red Herring, The Environmental Business Journal, The Social Business Network and Zerofootprint. TerraCycle also has a scheme where schools and other nonprofit organizations are paid to collect waste materials for the company to use.

                                          

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Q.  Making products out of non-recyclable materials is not the first ‘Get Rich Quick’ scheme that would occur to most people. How have you become so successful at it?
A.  Ha! I would definitely agree that this is far from a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. I am hoping it is a ´get rich slow, but do it the right way, scheme. I think the opportunity lies in the lack of competition. Other than waste management and the recent arrival  of waste-to-fuel companies, few others are focusing on waste as raw material.
Furthermore I think the timing was right. More consumers are looking for ways to be more sustainable, more responsible, but most are not willing to make major sacrifices quite yet. We are giving them an easy, fun, affordable way to get involved and do good without having to change their lifestyle too drastically. I hope we are serving as a bridge to a world where consumerism and business are conducted in a much more responsible way.

Q.  What has motivated you to pursue this as a business model?
A.  Again, it was opportunity. Waste was everywhere I looked and it struck me as an opportunity to help solve a social and environmental woe whilst also developing a profitable business model.  Who could resist?

Q.  Do you think TerraCycle’s philosophy that environmental responsibility and good business sense can work together is really possible?
A.  Not possible - essential. In fact I truly believe it is the only future for business, and I say that as a businessman, not just an environmentalist. The reasons are simple.
Firstly, natural resources are limited, and fossil fuel energy is growing more and more expensive. Companies that can find ways to tap into recycled materials and renewable energy will be at a great fiscal advantage.  Once some companies show the profitably of these techniques, the rest will follow.
Secondly, consumers continue to demand more social and environmental responsibility from companies. As that continues to happen companies will be forced to respond. Want to change the world? Vote with your dollars. Look at how Walmart has become a leader through sustainable packaging and sourcing. Look at the Greenworks line now offered by Clorox. These came about due to consumer demand, not government regulation.

Q.  Waste disposal is a huge problem for many if not most large businesses. What can they be doing?
A.  Work with TerraCycle of course! But seriously, they need to explore the three “r’s” to find solutions that will help them environmentally and fiscally. Waste material equals waste money. Reduce by finding ways to decrease waste through better Standards of Operations. Reuse by partnering with TerraCycle and other companies or by finding creative ways to put waste to work using their own facilities.  Recycle by finding processes to put their waste back into their own supply chain or to sell to others for the same purpose.

Q.  What inspired you to drop out of Princeton and pursue TerraCycle full-time? There must have been many doubters.
A.  Again, it was opportunity. I felt like if I didn’t pursue my business model right away someone else would. Also, school felt like running on a hamster wheel. So much work and research and writing for a paper or project that only one person would ever see? Seemed like a waste of time and effort to me.

Q.  What challenges has TerraCycle faced?
A.  Many challenges. Too many to tell. But foremost is convincing retailers, manufactures and consumers that just because a product is made from garbage, doesn’t mean it is garbage.

Q.  How else has the rise of ‘eco-capitalism’ impacted business practices?
A.  I think that business of all ilk are starting to realise that eco-capitalistic practices can be good for their bottom line and that is key. As more businesses realise this fundmental fact, the brighter the future will be in my eyes.

Q.  You organize TerraCycle Brigades. Can you tell us more about these?
A.  TerraCycle runs free collection programs that pay schools and charities to collect non-recyclable waste. So, for every drinks pouch, yogurt cup, glue bottle, etc. that a group collects we contribute 2 cents back to their organization. The programs are free to sign up for and TerraCycle covers all shipping charges, meaning they never cost a penny! Interested parties can sign up in the US, UK, Canada, Mexico, Brazil or Sweden at the moment.

Q.  What does the future hold for TerraCycle?
A.  Hopefully continuing to grow to collect more items (currently 32 and counting) in more countries (by mid-2011 we should be in over 15 countries.) Eventually, we want to remove the word “garbage” from the common lexicon. Everything can be recycled or reused with enough innovation and determination.
 
Q.  How do you hope Pelime can help with this?
A.  By bringing like-minded people together to work to a common cause. This is vital to the success of any movement. There are challenges and hurdles ahead if we truly want to achieve a more peaceful, socially and environmentally responsible society. It is only by working together that we can overcome the forces that will fight against change.

     

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