Archive for July 2009

Tanja Antic, Wallpaper-August 20091024x768 , 1280x1024 , 1600x1200 , 2048x1536 , 1680x1050

Model: Tanja Antic
Photographer: Patrik Blom

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I had a photo session in my studio set-up last night. I did three things new.

First, I worked with Erin (aka e-string), a model who I had not worked with before. She had been recommended to me by some other photographers, and our setting something up was something rather spontaneous.

I was on Facebook one morning a few weeks ago and I saw that she was online, too. I decided to try opening a chat room, as all previous attempts to chat with people on Facebook yielded no responses. I had never spoken with or really corresponded with Erin before, but we knew of each other, so I figured, why not give it a try.

It turned out she did reply, and we went on to have a nice keyboard conversation. Erin is American but lives in London now, so when I asked her when she’d next be in New York, she said in a just a few weeks! So, we set up something right then and there. Unfortunately, the only free time she had was last night, and while doing a studio session on a weeknight after putting in a day at work is not my favorite thing, I went ahead anyway for the chance to work with Erin – and I’m glad I did. She's a good model and a genuinely nice person, too.

Second, I worked with a new light. A couple of weeks ago I bought a 250 watt quartz light with barn doors. All of my other lights use reflectors, which spread the light out well but which don’t permit me to direct it and limit where it goes.

The quartz light was to be my remedy for that, and while I still need to work with it to learn how to use it, overall it worked well as my main light to illuminate the model. I used one of the tungsten lights to light the background and tried to get it more even than in my last studio session back in February.

Third, I used some of the papier mache masks that I bought in Venice last month. Studio work can be pretty boring without (or even with!) some good props, so when I saw some masks, I thought that they might be interesting to take home to use for photos.

I’ll need to see the developed film, of course, to judge how well the combination of model, lighting and props worked, and given my big backlog of film, that will not happen any time soon. Still, from what I saw with my eyes and judging by the digital snapshots seen here, I’m reasonably satisfied with the results.


Otherwise, my friend Dave Levingston will be coming to New York tomorrow for a visit of several days. He'll be staying at my place. It should be interesting.

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A feature about my photography went up today on the blog, Univers d’Artistes. To see it, click here. The feature includes some images that I have not yet posted on the web anywhere else.

My thanks to Unbearable Lightness for choosing to highlight me and for putting the feature together.

At the top here is one of the photos included there, showing the beautiful Julie Maximova in my studio earlier this year.

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I thought I’d take a quick break from the series of nudes that I made with my Holga in California last year. Today I’ll be writing briefly about what can happen when you throw a bunch of photographers together and they’re forced to stay together for a while.

The color photos here were made one evening during a weeklong workshop up on Canada’s beautiful Prince Edward Island back in 2006. If you’ve never been there, it’s worth a visit. The island used to be accessible only by ferry, but now there’s a bridge that connects it to the mainland province of New Brunswick. Of course, the bridge is a long one and it takes ten minutes to drive across it. Oh, and the toll (which is payable only in one direction) was $40.10 Canadian. It’s the only toll I can remember passing through where one can pay by credit card.

So, back to what I was getting at, these photos were taken one night when some of us got together and the liquid refreshment was flowing freely. Strange things indeed can happen under such circumstances. I myself am not a person who imbibes (I’ve tried it and I just don’t like it), but as the others were acting in something of a merry manner, I decided to join in too and let my hair down – quite literally!

Yes, I didn’t do it too often in public but I chose to let the long locks flow. To be honest, having that much hair did get in the way of things at times, so my hair is somewhat shorter now than it was then. For those of you who suspect that I may have just been wearing a wig, I can assure you that the mop seen on my head here was real, live, living, growing hair!

By the way, the fellow with the bulging eyes standing behind me in the top photo is a photographer named Sukumar. In keeping with my recent Holga theme, I’m posting a photo I made of Sukumar with my Holga that week. Also, this photo was the first photo I made of anyone with my newly bought (and very first) Holga. It was on the second frame of the first roll put through the camera, and as the first frame was an unintended shot of the ground, this portrait was the first intentional photo I made with the it.

Sukumar liked it, and so do I.

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This will be a quickie posting for me today as the first of my visitors arrives tonight and I need to do a fair amount of work today to get the place ready. I also want to try to matte some photos if I can while I have some time to do so.

The photo above is of Claudine – another in the series of images made with my Holga at Joshua Tree National Park last year.
Incidentally, Claudine is one of the featured models with Ralph Gibson’s huge new book, Nude, published by Taschen. There are two special versions of the book available, each one coming with a different 11 x 14 silver print. One of the photos, Chicago Nude, 2008, features Claudine as the model. Click here for more info and to see her photo, though you’ll have to scroll down to see it.

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Slikite se izbrisani po baranje na Ana Danchevska
The photos have been removed at the request of the model

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The next few weeks will be busy for me here at home as I’m expecting several visitors to be staying with me over that stretch, beginning early next week. That means that I’ve been spending most of my time here cleaning up and straightening up rather than doing photographic stuff, but I do have enough photos scanned to hold me over for a little while.

Today’s photos are more made with my Holga in Joshua Tree National Park last September. The model in both of them is Rael.

I'll continue with my Holga photos next time.

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Okay, everyone. I’ve finished writing about my trip. Here at home, I’m mostly caught up with the stuff that piled up while I was away (though I’ve still get plenty to do). So, it’s time to get back to posting and writing about my photography.

Last weekend I began scanning some of the photos I made with my cheap, plastic Holga camera at the Community Zoe get-together at Twentynine Palms, California, last year. I’ll be posting them in my next few blog posts, beginning with today’s. These photos are of Madame Bink in Joshua Tree National Park.


When I was in Berlin late last month, I bought a DVD in the shop at the Helmut Newton Stiftung. It’s a documentary from 1988 titled Helmut Newton: Frames from the Edge.
I watched it yesterday and I thought it was pretty interesting as it followed Newton around and had various interviews with him (in English and German) plus some people he photographed, including Charlotte Rampling, Catherine Denueve and Sigourney Weaver.

The film is more of a portrait of Newton than a how-to film, but it was still interesting to watch him work. He was always shown working with a tripod, as I recall, even outdoors. For indoor sessions, he used a Hasselblad. Outside (except for one nighttime shoot), he used a medium format Plaubel rangefiner (which I think I actually saw on display in Berlin, along with some of his other camera gear).

He also seemed to have an idea in his head for what he wanted to do before any photo session began. Indeed, he was very specific in finding a model with a particular look for what he had in mind – though he admitted that over time that look would change. From what I could tell, he utilized others to find his models for him, as he would call an agency or someone he knew in every city he visited to find who he needed. Those were in the pre-internet days and he depended on models bringing their books with them to see how they looked nude. In one instance, when he first interviewed the model, she did not have any photos with her, so he chose to go with her anyway, guessing what she looked like rather than ask her to disrobe for him. (Apparently, he guessed wrong and the photos were not successful.)

An interesting segment was when he talked about printers and was seen with one of the people who printed his photos for him. Here, too, Newton had specific ideas of how he wanted his prints to look, and I was shocked when he took some recently made prints he was not satisfied with and tore them up right then and there in front of the printer! I mean, wanting a different looking print is one thing, but to tear it up right in front of the guy who made the prints seemed rather tactless. Then Newton explained why he did it: he didn’t want any of his prints – even unsigned ones – getting out into people’s hands. For commercial job prints, he told his printer to use plastic (i.e. RC) paper and that those prints should start turning brown after a month or so.

Perhaps the most memorable quote from Newton was this (said in German but translated with subtitles): “There are two dirty words in photography – ‘art’ and ‘good taste’.”

(The DVD is not available in the US, but it is from Amazon Germany. Click here if you’re interested. Although it’s released by a German company, it’s in the NTSC format and will play on North American DVD players and TV sets.)

Sometimes things work for you and sometimes they don’t. I think I wrote how I was disappointed last month in Berlin when Angela Gheorghiu, the singer I looked forward to hearing in the opera Tosca, cancelled due to illness. Well, I read recently that she will be singing Tosca in London shortly, but she wasn’t scheduled to do it. Rather, she’s filling in for someone else who’s fallen ill! Oh, well, maybe another time. I just hope that she’ll be in the Carmen and Traviata that I have tickets for next season.

Finally, something about people who possess high A.Q.’s.

I drove to my aunt’s house for dinner on Friday night via the highway. As I was on the highway entrance ramp (which is flat on the ground and not elevated), I saw that the vehicle in front of me tried to bypass not one but two cars in front of it. The ramp is only wide enough for one full car, so this driver went around to the left, its right half on the paved ramp and the left half off the paving and on the dirt shoulder. It got in front of the two cars, but how much time did that driver really save by doing something idiotic?

Then something similar happened on the way home. I was exiting the highway and was already on the exit ramp when I saw that the car behind me zoomed past me in the highway’s right lane and then cut in front of me. When I got to the intersection up ahead, the light was red (as it usually is there) and that other car was waiting for the light right I front of me. So I ask again, how much time did this driver save by acting like an idiot?

By the way, if you haven’t figured it out yet, A.Q. means “Asshole Quotient.”

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Ana Kalacoska, spring/summer '09 collectionAna Kalacoska, spring/summer '09 collection

Ana Kalacoska, spring/summer '09 collectionAna Kalacoska, spring/summer '09 collection

Ana Kalacoska, spring/summer '09 collectionAna Kalacoska, spring/summer '09 collection

Ana Kalacoska, spring/summer '09 collection

Model: Ana Kalachoska
Clothes Designer: Maja Kikiritkova
Make Up Artist: Dadar
Editorial: Spring/Summer 2009
Photographers: Ani&Dimi

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I returned home from Europe last week, and have been spending the time between now and then trying to catch up on stuff, including sleep. So, for now, I’ll write my the final posting on my trip about my final destination: Berlin.

Berlin is not beautiful like the places I visited in Italy, but it is very interesting and in many ways reflects the history of the 20th Century - World War I, the creativity of the 20’s, depression, World War II, the Cold War and finally the end of the Cold War.

I spent a week in Berlin, there to visit family more than anything else, but I set out to do a number of things, too. One of those was to visit the Helmut Newton Stiftung (Foundation), a museum dedicated to Newton’s photography. As usual with Newton, the photographs were rather provocative. The ground floor exhibit was called Private Proverty (the title of one of his books), but this exhibit was a display of things that Newton owned and used, including his cameras, passports and the document changing his name from Helmut Neustaedter to Helmut Newton. Perhaps the most impressive items, though, were some of the high heeled shoes he used in his photos. Those stilettos are killers!

Upstairs was an exhibit devoted to his huge book Sumo on the tenth anniversary of its publication. For those interested, Taschen is publishing a smaller and more manageable (though still large) copy of the book. Amazon lists the publication date as September, but the bookstore there already had copies.

One thing I certainly didn’t expect to see were some photos of models who I have actually photographed myself, but that’s just what I saw. The guest exhibitors were three photographers who studied photography in Pasadena and later became Newton’s assistants. One of them, George Holz, was represented by a lot of nude photos he made, including two that he made at (or around the time of) a workshop I attended with him in upstate New York seven years ago.

Later in the week, I made a stop at the Café Newton – a café with some of Newton’s famous images displayed prominently on the walls.

I also went over to the Camera Work gallery, a gallery mostly dedicated to fashion photography. The exhibit on view was of photos – mostly fashion and nudes – by the Italian photographer Paolo Roversi.

In looking through a magazine of events and places to visit in Berlin, I came across a listing for the Aktgalerie, a gallery specializing in artistic nude photography. I thought I’d pay a visit to see what was on display, but as I had one business card left with me (and it had on it one of my nude images), I also thought I’d give the card to the gallery owner/manager to see if I might develop some interest in their showing some of my work.

The gallery is located in the Friedrichshain section of Berlin – an area I had never been to before on any of my many visits to the city – so I looked over the train map and found my way there. It was a bit past 1 p.m. on a Friday, and to my disappointment the gallery was closed. I looked up its listing in the magazine and also found the gallery’s website, and both said that it’s open from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday.

I didn’t have the chance to go back on Saturday, but I saw that it would be open on Sunday from 2 to 6. So, I decided to try again. The first thing I did was to pay a visit to the Reichstag – the old Parliament building, recently renovated and with a new transparent dome designed by the British architect, Sir Norman Foster. I had to wait on line a long time to get in, and I didn’t get out until around 2:30. I had something to do that evening and couldn’t stay out too late, so I quickly headed off to the gallery. I got there a little after 4:00 – well within open hours – but guess what? It was closed again!!! So, I never got in and never got to give them my business card. I just wonder when it really is open.

Not to be shut out totally, I decided to go next to another gallery that the magazine had listed as also being open on Sunday from 2 to 6. The exhibit was of portraits and nudes made by a German photographer in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Well, when I got there around 5, guess what? It was closed, too! The hours posted on the door listed Saturday from 2 to 6, but nothing about Sunday. I could see some of the photos inside through the large glass windows, but ultimately, those last few hours on Sunday afternoon were a complete waste of time.

One of the train stations in Berlin I went through a few times was Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse. I can still remember the first time I went through this station. It was in 1985, and it was the point I used to cross between West Berlin and Communist East Berlin. That was on my second visit to Berlin. The first was two and a half years earlier, and I remember crossing over between East and West on December 23, 1982, via Checkpoint Charlie.

As I normally do on a visit to Berlin, I visited the area of Checkpoint Charlie. Now it’s mostly populated by tourists. The guardhouse where Allied servicemen would have to check in before crossing to the East is back there, after having been removed for several years. Two people dressed in military uniforms were standing in front, each asking one Euro to have their photos taken. (I passed.)

The most legitimate item left from the old days is the sign that warned you that you were about to cross over to go behind the Iron Curtain. Ever since I crossed over on that winter’s day in 1982, those words have been burnt into my memory: Sie Verlassen Den Amerikanischen Sektor. Vous Sortez Du Secteur Americain. You Are Leaving The American Sector.

It meant something back in 1982 and 1985. Let me tell you this, what I have told to first time visitors to Checkpoint Charlie who were never there before the Berlin Wall came down: standing there today, one cannot possibly imagine what it was like in the old days to cross between West and East. If I ever took for granted the freedom that people in the West have, I didn’t after that. Crossing over to the Communist side was like diving underwater, holding one’s breath as long as one could before re-surfacing in the West and being able to breathe again. The overcast, wintry weather on that December day in 1982 certainly added to the gloomy atmosphere.

Still, it was instructive of how differently people lived over there, going to a supermarket, for instance. There was one bookstore by Alexanderplatz (which I think is still there) that had in its window display books about Lenin, Marx, Fidel Castro and East German president Erich Honegger. The travel section had books about Moscow, Leningrad, Budapest and Bucharest. (I guess London and Paris weren’t approved destinations.)

Still, it wasn’t all gloomy. I attended my very first opera on that December day. We saw Der Barbier von Seville – Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” – sung in German at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. My sister and I had good orchestra seats, fairly close up, and the tickets were cheap. It was also quite a spectacle: the beautiful ornate old theater, the women dressed in evening gowns, the men in tuxedos and military uniforms – and among them all, me wearing jeans and a flannel shirt, and my sister wearing jeans and a sweater.

Back to the present, I went with my sister and my niece to see Mozart’s Die Zauberfloete (“The Magic Flute”) at that very same theater in east Berlin. It was my first time back there since that day in 1982 as well as my first time to see that particular work. The theater is still as ornate as I remember, but this time we were sitting in the top row of the top section. As the theater is still a fairly small one, we still had a good view.

I also went by myself the following two nights to see Carmen and Turandot at the newer Deutsche Oper in west Berlin. I had actually planned my trip to be in Berlin to see my favorite singer, Angela Gheorghiu, sing the title role in Tosca at the Deutsche Oper, but I had received an e-mail informing me that she had cancelled. That was a disappointment, so I got a ticket for Turandot instead.

Both were good, though I had some problems with the moderninstic staging of Turandot, which is set in ancient China. Carmen was given a traditional staging, and afterwards I went to the stage door exit to meet the evening’s leading lady, an American named Kate Aldrich. I had met her in April when she sang at a concert here in New York, and when I told her I’d be seeing her in Berlin, she asked me to come round later to say hello. This I did, but sadly I never got to see her. (Apparently she left via a different exit.)

On the other hand, I did meet another American singer – the beautiful Nicole Cabell, who was the evening’s Micaela, the good girl in the story. She told me that she’ll be singing the part of Musetta at the Met next February in La Boheme. I told her that I was once in Boheme as an extra – one of the French soldiers who march down at the end of Act II – and when I mentioned that I was thinking of trying to be an extra again, she said to me,”Oh, come on. Do it! We could use more people.” (I will consider it.)

I also went one day to the Pergamom Museum. This is one of the world’s great treasure houses of antiquity, housing the great altar from Pergamom in Asia Minor, the Ishtar Gate from Babylon, the entry gate to the market at Miletus and so on. Perhaps next time I’ll get to see the famous portrait bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti, as well.
So, that pretty much wraps up my trip to Europe. I don’t have any other major travels planned for the year, so now it’s up to me to develop film and file and scan negatives, in part so I can post them here. I hope to eventually start making prints again, too. As always, stay tuned.

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Martina Pavlovska, Matrijahat Menswear CollectionMartina Pavlovska, Matrijahat Menswear Collection

Martina Pavlovska, Matrijahat Menswear CollectionMartina Pavlovska, Matrijahat Menswear Collection

Martina Pavlovska, Matrijahat Menswear CollectionMartina Pavlovska, Matrijahat Menswear Collection

Martina Pavlovska, Matrijahat Menswear Collection

Model: Martina Pavlovska
Clothes Designer: Aleksandar Stefanovski
Make Up Artist: Lucia Stefanovska
Hair Stylist: Studio 501
Photographer: Patrik Blom
Lighting Assistant: Mile Velkovski
Location: Old soap factory

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Hi again, everyone.

I apologize for the delay in writing. I'm now over a week behind in posting about my trip, but I had trouble copying my text into Blogger on the computer I'd been using. So, today I'll be making a post about the final night of my trip to Italy, which was a special evening.

What was so special about it? I went to see the opera "Aida" at the Teatro alla Scala - Milan's La Scala opera house - Italy's premiere opera house and one of the best in the world. Besides New York, I've seen operas in London, Paris, Berlin and Budapest (and Philadelphia, too!). However, the one place that I most wanted to see one was at La Scala, the theatre that´s probably seen more premieres of great Italian operas than any place else.

It is also simply a beautiful theatre - the second largest in Italy, though not nearly as big as the Met in New York. It´s also very old, having been built, I believe, in the late 18th Century.

Still, getting there wasn´t easy. I tried to buy my ticket online from the La Scala website a couple of months ago, and when I checked the seating chart the night before sales began, I saw that the vast majority of the theatre was already sold out (perhaps to subscribers). So, I got on my computer at 3:00 in the morning the next day, which is 9 a.m. in Italy, the time the tickets were up for grabs. I tried three times to buy a ticket in a particular price range (each time different) only to be told each time that the tickets were all gone. By 3:30 nothing at all was left, so I went back to bed feeling mightily upset and disappointed.

This was going to be, after all, the highlight of my trip to Italy and here I was, totally shut out. Still, something told me to try again once I got up to go to work, and miraculously, afew tickets were now available! Perhaps some earlier sales had not gone through, but for whatever reason, I got my ticket.

So, let´s go ahead two months later to the day of the performance. Getting between my hotel and the theatre was going to be a snap, as the tram line #1 went directly in front of my hotel and directly in front of the theatre. Practically door to door service. It would all be very easy. Too easy. Naturally, something would have to happen to make things more difficult - and it did. I read earlier in the day that, beginning at 8 p.m., the tram going back toward my hotel would only go as far as Piazza della Republicca, a few stops from the hotel. Still, that would only be a walk of about five minutes, so it wasn´t too bad.

After I made my last posting, I planned to have dinner in the Chinese-run Italian restaurant next to the hotel, then get changed into a jacket and tie to head off to the theater. There was just one problem: the restaurant wasn´t open yet, and it was after 6 p.m. I didn´t have a lot of time as I didn´t want to be late to theater, so I walked around the neighborhood looking for an open restaurant and couldn´t find any! I was starting to get a bit frantic, so I finally went into a cafe that was able to heat up some already-made lasagna and a pizza-like thing for me. Then it was back to the hotel for a quick change and I was off to the theater.

The theater, as I´ve written, is an old with, with an orchestra/stalls level of seats and six levels above that. The first four levels are boxes, with the top two being regular gallery seating. I took a walk up to the gallery levels during one intermission and I saw that the fifth ring only had two rows of seats, while the sith, topmost ring had up to four in some places. The problem with those third and fourth rows is that the grade of the seating is so shallow that one needs to stand up in order to see the stage, as one can only see the top of the proscenium when seated!

The same goes for higher level boxes from where one needs to look down. From the front of the box one can see, but from the back it can be difficult. My seat was in the second row of a box, but fortunately it was on the first level, so although I had to look over somebody´s shoulder, all I needed to do was look straight ahead rather than down. Unfortunately, the box was on the side next to the orchestra pit, so all I got to see was the right side of the stage. The upside is that I was very close to what I could see - the closest I´ve ever been other than being onstage at the Met - and sitting next to the orchestra the music came through fine. (I could actually have read the score of some of the violinists with my binoculars - if I could read music!)

As for the opera - well, "Aida" by Giuseppe Verdi is one of the great operas by one of the great composers. Even though I had appeared in "Aida" at the Met in New York about a dozen times, I had never actually seen the whole thing before, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. (I won´t bore people with details of the singers and so on.)

In the box next to mine (but without a wall between us) was an American woman from Los Angeles. I asked her if she goes to the LA Opera, and her response was, "Maybe not any more after seeing this" - so seeing an opera at La Scala is a real experience, from the beauty of the theater to the ushers dressed in black with white collars and each with a medalion hanging from their necks to the music itself. In the history of grand opera, there´s been no other place like it.

If I had to pick a favorite moment, it was when the general house lights were dimmed but the lights in the individual boxes were still on, the red fabrics on the walls of the boxes all glowing in unison with everything dark. The women sitting next to me even mentioned to me how beautiful it looked. It was like magic.

As for getting back to the hotel, it was even more difficult than expected. I walked on over to the tram stop, only to see yet another sign posted that included the words sopressa and avanti. I did not have a good feeling about this, so I asked a man who also seemed to waiting for the tram. He had not seen this sign, so he read it and told me (in Italian) that we needed to walk to the next stop. So, we walked a few blocks to the next stop, and he apparently had decided to walk to his destination and he wished me a good evening and continued on. I decided to check the schedule. It was now midnight, and the next tram was scheduled for around 12:19. "Am I going to have to stand here on the Via Manzoni for 20 minutes waiting for a tram to arrive?," I asked myself.

Then a few minutes later I saw a bus coming down the street with the Piazza della Republicca listed as its destination. Should I try to flag down this bus? Perhaps the driver read my mind, but it did stop and I got one. The bus appeared to be the #1 line, so I wondered if it was a substitute for the tram. At any rate, I took it to it´s last stop and then walked from there to the hotel. "Okay," I thought as I finally saw the sign for the hotel ahead, "I had some trouble but I´ve made it back." Then I saw something that made me question everything that had just happened.

I saw the tram #1 coming up the street just as it always did.

I'll write about the last stop of my trip next time.

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