Catch Me If You Can!

Hello everyone! I just popped in to give you an update since I realized I left you hanging with a post back in 2011.

The story since then? I came back to London again in November last year after six months in Colombia and about two and a half in New York.

It’s been a pretty awesome year for me. I found a new job in the field of international education which I adore, I’m in a great relationship with a garden designer from Tenerife, and I’ve had the chance to travel quite a bit this year – since March, I’ve been to Barcelona, Dubai and Tenerife; we have tickets to go to Toronto and New York in October, plans for Edinburgh in November and Tenerife again for Christmas.

I’m enjoying being back in London, still running my photography and jewelry/handbag shops on the side and embracing that near-30 confusing appreciation for cooking, baking and buying pretty napkins. We’ve discovered lots of delicious London restaurants in the past few months and spending today lounging about on a British bank holiday Monday.

I’m writing on my good old London blog again, which contains loads of photography, interviews with artists and lots of other goodies so stop in a say hello (just click the screen shot below):


Come follow me there. You can also find me on Pinterest, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.

See you around!

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Photo Larks

I haven’t written in this blog in almost four months, but I see people are still poking their heads in once in a while. What’s been happening the last four months? Anything exciting?

I’ve spent my past four months in a tiny rural village in Colombia. I’m back in New York now until January when I return. It made for some interesting photo opportunities – mountain kids holding chickens while sucking on blow pops, mules carrying sugarcane down dirt roads and some pretty flowers and plants I’ve never seen before. Certainly made a change from my usual urban exploration photos from London – the street art, the grubby buildings, the fascinating people.

I decided to set up a little shop on Etsy this week for prints. I’ve grown quite a collection of photos over the years and thought this would be a great way to get them out there. There’s plenty to add, but I’ve started out with a chunk of about 35. It’s pretty vibrant and colorful over there. Just how I like it.

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Through The Eyes Of: Enzo Dal Verme

Travel fuels much of Enzo Dal Verme’s photography, as does portraiture. He has a talent for bringing out the beauty in people in a studio situation or while they’re working hard in a dirty field. One of his most interesting pieces, for me personally, is shown below – a portrait of Ölucean de Lemos in Hawaii wearing a mud covered shirt and a big grin. Enzo captured him in his element jus as he was and that’s what made the shot brilliant.

To help out fellow photographers, Enzo has written a book to share some tips on how to shoot reportage, something he does constantly which made it pretty easy for him to explain how to photograph like a pro. He tells us what to expect from his book in this interview, talks about the importance of leaving his comfort zone and discusses his upcoming photography workshop. This week he celebrated one year since he launched his blog so be sure to stop over and give him your congrats when you finish reading.

LPO: Tell us a bit about your background.
EDV: As a child, I felt that growing up it would have been nice to become a photographer (and also a few other things), but then I forgot. Later on, a number of coincidences led me to experience that fantasy.

LPO: You say on your blog that “One of the best things I have learned in life is to get to know my fears rather than fight them.” Tell us about a time when your photography has taken you out of your comfort zone.
EDV: Once I was in a semi-deserted subway car in New York at night and in front of me sat a South American woman with her daughter. The mother was dreadfully tired, I imagined her going back home after a very long and heavy working day. She couldn’t keep her eyes open and her big, depleted body was abandoned on the seat with her head hanging over sideways. Everything about her oozed exhaustion, except for her right arm that held her daughter tenderly. The girl was probably five years old and laid on her mother’s lap wearing pink overalls. She wasn’t that tired and from time to time she opened an eye and looked at me with a sweet pouting face.

The light was hitting the couple just perfectly and the entire scene was shouting to me “Shoot me, shoot me!” The camera was in my bag and it would have been really easy to point it at them, but I decided to enjoy the moment and respect their privacy. In the following days I kept thinking about that missed opportunity: was my fear of being too invasive completely founded? Maybe they would have even enjoyed finding themselves published on the pages of a magazine… Never mind, I am happy to have that wonderful memory even if I can’t share the picture.

Episodes like this actually help me to be more clear about the way I want to relate to the world. Challenging moments can also come up when I am supposed to photograph someone who becomes unavailable at the last moment, or when I am shooting outdoors expecting a sunny day and it rains, when I am discussing an assignment and I realize that I will not get what I need, when a magazine publishes one of my stories in a distorted way… In other words, when the world seems not too kind to me. But if I look well into the issue, I usually find out that it is not only the practical problem to make me feel uncomfortable, but also and above all my inner reaction to it. Facing and exploring what’s there in that particular moment (sometimes fear of… whatever) allows me to transform the problem into a great learning opportunity.

LPO: You’ve written a manual on how to shoot reportage. Give us a brief rundown of tips for beginners.
EDV: First of all, ask yourself “Why do I want to shoot this reportage?” and make sure that your answer is fully, totally, absolutely convincing. You are stepping into something very demanding. Choose a strong and interesting topic. Be extra accurate in the pre-production phase, but be ready to change all and everything you had prepared so meticulously (shit happens). While shooting, don’t be a vulture, become part of the situation you are documenting. When it comes to composition, be mindful of the needs of the media that will publish your story. Give a harmony to the general impact of your reportage. Don’t forget the details. Keep your mind empty and curious at all times. Imagine that you are an infant with no memories and no history, seeing the world for the first time. Be extremely organized and disciplined in every phase (including scrupulous post-production). Acknowledge every single person who is helping you out.

LPO: Do you remember a certain moment when you fell in love with photography?
EDV: It has been a gradual process.

LPO: Much of your work is in portraits. Tell us a story behind one of the most interesting people you’ve had the privilege to photograph.
EDV: I find most people that I photograph are extremely interesting, regardless if they are celebrities or whatever. Ölucean de Lemos lives six months in Sweden and six months in Hawaii, where I photographed him on the farm that pays for his work with nothing more than room and board. He made a radical and unconventional choice in life. He is not interested in pursuing a career or earning money but only wants to live in contact with nature. I interrupted him while he was working and he asked me if I wanted him to put on a clean shirt for the photo. I answered, “NO!”

Shooting portraiture is my way to inquire into reality and every time I photograph someone I also end up feeling I know myself better because I look at the subject as if I was looking at myself expressed in a different form. We are different, but not so different…

LPO: Do you prefer indoor or outdoor photo shoots or being out on the field reporting with no organized set-up? Why?
EDV: I have a slight preference for shooting portraits indoors, but I also enjoy being out in the field with nothing planned. Being indoors allows me to play with the light in a way that would be difficult or impossible outdoors. On the other hand, the exploration of outdoor environments often offers me interesting surprises.

LPO: Among many others, you’ve worked for Vanity Fair, Vogue, Marie Claire, Grazia, Elle and Glamour. For the beginners, talk a bit about the process that goes into generating work for yourself, following through to publication.
EDV: I could tell you that you need to be very professional, have a great body of work and be able to present it. I could recommend that you be precise, reliable, creative, enthusiastic and easygoing. All these things are true, but they are not enough to generate work. Photo-editors and editors have the power to give you work and the reasons why this happens or not are really unpredictable.

LPO: There’s a line between amateur and professional photographers that gets smaller and smaller. Do you find that as a professional you struggle because of sites like Flickr that give publications greater access to the work or amateurs?
EDV: Amateurs are sometimes willing to give their photos away for the simple satisfaction of seeing them published. Micro-stock agencies are selling pictures for 1 dollar or less. Publishers budgets are shrinking… of course photographers are having a hard time. What’s happening now is an evolutionary process and only those who are able to adapt and evolve will survive.

LPO: How do you feel about post-processing? Which programs do you use, if any?
EDV: Photoshop is my friend, but only for minor adjustments. I don’t like too much retouching. About selecting my pictures, right this morning someone told me that I am “a  little dated” because I don’t use Lightroom or Photomechanic, but Bridge. Oh well…

LPO: Share something about yourself that you haven’t mentioned in the rest of the interview.
EDV: Soon I’ll be teaching a portraiture workshop that I am really happy about. Photography is often considered in terms of its aesthetic impact and aesthetic is certainly great, but it’s not what interests me the most. I like to see shapes, materials, colors and consistencies as expressions of our innermost nature. In other words, the thing that truly attracts and inspires me is not forms but life expressing itself though them. That’s probably why I love shooting portraits so much. And that’s why I enjoy teaching this photography workshop. It is not focused on technique, light schemes and similar, but on the ability to get in touch with some aspect that makes the person that we want to photograph special and unique (perhaps something the person is not even aware of) and compose our images quickly and intuitively. I will also offer a low-cost version of the workshop to be held at the Youth Hostel on beautiful Lake Como in Northern Italy. Will post an article on my blog sometime in the next weeks, stay tuned…

Thanks Enzo!

For more of Enzo’s work, have a look at his blog:

For more interviews with photographers, have a look at the archives.

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Through The Eyes Of: Jacob Kedzierski

Jacob grew up in my hometown of North Tonawanda, New York so I had a fun time poking through his photo galleries. Of course, he’s left the area like a lot of us have and now he’s in NYC. His photography is unique at a time when most people rely on digital camera and post-processing techniques. Jacob mostly sticks with film – in a variety of cameras.

He’s taken a bit of time to explain that choice, shares a few collages of street signs he created that have been the centerpieces of two exhibitions and lets us in on his unusual collection.

LPO: Tell us a bit about your background.
JK: I was born in Buffalo, New York in 1976 and raised in North Tonawanda, New York. Lived there until 1997 then headed to Denver for school. Graduated in 1999 and roamed around for a few years until settling in New York City eight years ago.

LPO: Having been raised in the relatively small city of North Tonawanda, New York, studying in Denver, Colorado, and living in New York City now, in what ways does your approach to photography change according to your immediate environment?
JK: My approach doesn’t change that much other than maybe film speed. I thrive on new environments. If it looks interesting and inspires me, I’ll push the button.

LPO: Last year you held an exhibition called “The Streets of North Tonawanda” and another one called “The Streets of Manhattan”. Share a piece from each show that you feel best represents your vision of each city and tell us why.
JK: My vision of each is constantly evolving, but the street names stay the same. The collages were the center peice in each exhibit. Alongside, I showed 35mm prints of the city. The idea started as a joke, then I realized it was actually a cool, fun way to show the city. I like the interaction the collages have with people. It’s a puzzle to find your street. I hope the collages inspire people to explore their city and take a detour from their normal path.

LPO: Do you shoot mainly in film or digital? Explain your choice.
JK: I mainly shoot film with a Nikon FM10, Minox EL or GT (which ever one wants to work that day) and an Agat 18k. Once a year, I load up the holga and shoot a roll of that. My on-the-go camera is a Canon SX210 digital; it’s a great little camera. I like the patience behind shooting film, sometimes I’ll spend a month shooting one roll. Plus it’s always a good day when you pick up a roll from the printers. It’s also a good day when you upload photos from your digital camera. I have no experience with DSLRs but the compact point-and-shoots can take great photos. Overall, I’m always more impressed with film.

LPO: Which aspects of your photos make them stand out as yours, elements that have developed over time to become your creative “eye”?
JK: I feel my creative eye is still developing. It’s hard for me to judge my own work. A picture I think is great will go unnoticed while a shot I don’t like will get interest. I’ve been shooting for 14 years; I may have a better answer in 30 years.

LPO: Do you remember a certain moment when you fell in love with photography?
JK: Yes, while studying video and film production at the Art Institute of Colorado. Every day, I’d walk through the photography wing and look at the prints hanging. I was amazed by the work. My roommate had given me a camera, the first few rolls were smears of light and under exposed. I didn’t know about setting exposure and focus. The results were still exciting. My lighting teacher gave us a photo assignment to establish moods with lighting. I really had a good time working on that, especially now knowing how to operate the camera. My teacher was very encouraging with my photographs. I contemplated switching majors, but continued studying video/film production. I bought a camera shortly after and started shooting stills of all the films we made in and out of school. In some cases incorporating the stills into the film. I enjoy all aspects of filmmaking and being able to incorporate photography into it makes it that much better.

LPO: Favorite place to take your camera and why?
JK: Running errands; the best photos usually come when your not out shooting photos.

LPO:What’s your photography motto? What words of wisdom keep you motivated and inspired?
JK: My photo motto is never shoot the obvious and keep it simple. When shooting film, all effects are done in camera and with digital all effects are done in photoshop. I’ve always liked this quote from Cindy Sherman on photography, “If I knew what the picture was going to be like I wouldn’t make it. It was almost like it was made already… The challenge is more about trying to make what you can’t think of.”

LPO: What are your main objectives as a photographer? What do you hope to accomplish or communicate through your body of work?
JK: My main objective as a photographer is to capture original thought prokoking images. I’m not really trying to communicate anything other than I’d like people to spend more than a glance looking at my work. I’d like to shoot more street sign collages. Paris keeps popping into my head, though Denver is a more feasible city right now.

LPO: Share something about yourself that you haven’t mentioned in the rest of the interview.
JK: I collect paper napkins.

Thanks Jacob!

For more of Jacob’s work, have a look at his website.

For more interviews with photographers, have a look at the archives.

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Through The Eyes Of: Tim Ronca

self portrait

Capturing the people who fill the streets of Los Angeles, Tim shoots with a wide aperture to bring the characters in his images to the forefront. He’s conquering his own timidity by participating in the 100 Strangers project, a pursuit that has opened his eyes to the fact that many people are open to being photographed if you’re brave enough to approach them.

Read on for more of Tim’s thoughts on the 100 Strangers project, his take on when to ask someone for a photo or just shoot and a story about the fascinating meringue dancing stranger, Eddie.

Headphone Hemit

LPO: Tell us a bit about your background.
TR: I grew up in the city of New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City, with a loving set of parents and two wonderful sisters. Being a very visual person and a movie lover, I enrolled in a film program at Messiah College in Grantham, PA and spent a year furthering my education at Temple University in Philadelphia. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for close to five years now and do freelance camerawork for various television shows, commercials, and movie promos. Weekends when I’m not working, you can find me, camera in hand, walking the streets of downtown LA.

Brad - Stranger 6/100

LPO: You’re participating in the 100 Strangers project. How’s it going? What was it like the first time you walked up to someone for a shot?
TR: I became interested in street photography a little over two years ago – the majority of my work since then has been candid portraiture. However, what’s great about the 100 Strangers Project is that it has challenged me to really interact with the people I am photographing. There are so many fascinating people going about their daily routines in downtown Los Angeles and I’ve often wondered who these people are and where they are going. Participating in the 100 Strangers Project has afforded me an excuse to find out.

I think the project is going well so far. Every new face tells a unique story. The hardest part is actually finding the time to get out and shoot.

I have to say the first time I walked up to someone and asked for a photo was pretty nerve-wracking. When I finally mustered up the courage to approach him, he turned me down! However, it only gets easier the more you do it. Worst case scenario, they say no.

Downtown Cowboy - Stranger 8/100

LPO: Besides people, what subjects are you most drawn to with your camera and why?
TR: When I’m not photographing people, I enjoy exploring Southern California for roadside Americana, specifically artifacts that feel lost in time – whether it be classic cars, neon signs or even rundown motels. There’s something really intriguing to me about how fast American culture changes and that relics from generations past still exist. However, those relics are vanishing quickly and I feel an urgency to grab them before they’re gone. I believe there’s evidence of this in my portraiture as well.


LPO: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome to get a great shot?
TR: I would say the biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome to get a great shot is my own timidity. In the past, I’ve blown dozens of opportunities simply because I was too scared to be noticed or ask permission for a photograph. You’d be surprised how many people are open to having their photo taken. Most of the time, all you have to do is ask.

LPO: Which aspects of your photos make them stand out as yours, elements that have developed over time to become your creative “eye”?
TR: That’s a really good question. I hesitate to say that I have a photographic “style”, but there are a few strategies I like to use when shooting on the street. For instance, I love to shoot my portraits with a wide open aperture, isolating my subjects within their environment. When shooting candids, I like to wait for the moment my subject makes eye contact with the camera before snapping the shutter. Also, I shoot only in natural light.

Eddie - Stranger 5/100

LPO: Tell us a story behind about one of the most interesting people you’ve had the privilege to photograph.
TR: I’ve bumped into a number of interesting people on the street and the stories of how we met are usually simple. However, that doesn’t mean those stories are not interesting or memorable.

One of my favorite interactions was with a gentleman named Eddie (above). It was a couple years ago during a parade traveling down Broadway Blvd. in downtown LA. He was dressed to the nines – sporting a fedora, suit, tie, and half a dozen rings, and dancing in the street, tipping his hat to passersby. I was fortunate enough to grab a few snaps.

As fate would have it, I ran into Eddie again about a month ago outside of Clifton’s Cafeteria (again on Broadway). We chatted for a few minutes about his meringue dancing and about Long Beach (where he lived). I asked him if I could take his photo and he told me “later”. I was a little bummed, figuring I’d missed an opportunity. However, about an hour after that, he spotted me across the street and waved me over. He posed for a few photos, tipped his hat, and went on his way. The story is simple, but the lines in his hands, the rings, his face… those are all very complex and tell their own story.

Rashad - Stranger 4/100

LPO: When photographing strangers in the street, how do you decide when to ask and when not to ask?
TR: One of the most common questions people ask me about photographing people in the street is when to ask and when not to ask. Usually, if a person looks friendly or nonviolent to me, I don’t have a problem approaching them. However, occasionally I’ll spot someone on the street that is so fascinating to me that I don’t want to give them a chance to turn me down. In those cases, I try to make myself as inconspicuous as possible, set up my shot, and wait for the right candid moment.

Tony - Stranger 3/100

LPO: Do you remember a certain moment when you fell in love with photography?
TR: I can’t pin down my love of photography to a single moment. However, I can remember rifling through the family photo albums almost daily as a kid. I can remember being up sketching until 3 in the morning, trying to improve my use of light and shadow (I considered art school for a time). I can remember composing shots with a bolex for a film production class in college, and I can remember buying my very first DSLR; spending nearly every evening after work at Venice Beach photographing people on the boardwalk. It was an evolution, really.

Man About Town (color)

LPO: What are your main objectives as a photographer? What do you hope to accomplish or communicate through your body of work?
TR: My main objective as a photographer is to capture moments, people, and places that may seem ordinary at first glance, but ultimately transcend the mundane and possess their own unique history. I try to show a perspective of the city (Los Angeles) that is perhaps not quite as glamorous as it is portrayed in the media – often bleak and depressing, but frequently vibrant and alive. Hopefully, my photographs are communicating that.

Parents Eaten...

LPO: What is the one question you wish I would have asked you and how would you answer it?
TR: I can’t think of anything that you haven’t already covered! Thanks for having me on the blog and for taking the time to look at my photos!

Thanks Tim!

For more of Tim’s work, have a look at his Flickr stream.

For more interviews with photographers, have a look at the archives.

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Through The Eyes Of: Ian Brumpton

Like many serious street photographers, Ian wants to remain anonymous (hence the screen print instead of his lovely face above). If that’s what it takes to snap up shots with such wit and narrative as his portfolio shows, we’ll let him stay in hiding. If you decide to track him down, he’s best found with a camera, surveying the scenes on central London’s streets as they unfold around him. He has an eye for that certain perfect moment in time.

Read on to find out why Ian prefers to shoot in black and white and how he would approach his art differently if he lived in a small town. He also lets us in on a stage play based on the lives of one of his great heroes that he’s been researching in his spare time.

Life in the Fast Lane

LPO: Tell us a bit about your background.
IB: I’m originally from Newcastle-on-Tyne and came down to London nearly 20 years ago in search of warmer weather and a few other things. Mostly my career has been in marketing, which is still the day job and one that I very much enjoy. I first started taking photography seriously in 2009 when I bought my first Rangefinder and I’ve been hooked on street photography ever since. Last year my work started to get a bit of attention which is nice and hopefully I can progress that this year and have an exhibition to build on the press coverage I’ve had recently.


LPO: You’ve said in the past that London is one of the best places to be a street photographer. Can you elaborate on that?
IB: Obviously London is one of the most diverse cities in the world and this is one of it’s greatest attractions. From a street photography perspective, large cities are easier to work in than small towns as it’s much simpler to be inconspicuous on a crowded avenue in a city where no-one is surprised to see someone taking photographs. Working the way I do with candid shots in a small town where everyone knows everyone and someone taking a photograph is a rare site would be a lot more challenging. I think you can still be a street photographer in a village or a small town but if it’s the place where you live all the time it’s more sensible to take a documentary, consensual approach to your subjects.

Once upon a time...

LPO: Ted Grant once said, “When you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls.” Your photographs are shot in black and white. Do you agree with him? Why the decision to shoot completely back and white?
IB: It’s a nice turn of phrase and I can see where he’s coming from but it’s probably stretching the virtues of black and white a bit. A great photo is a great photo regardless of the format; souls can be captured in colour too. I choose to work in black and white for a few reasons which are mostly based around aesthetic preference. Nearly all the photographers I most admire have worked primarily in black and white and personally I prefer its neutrality when photographing candid street scenes. In terms of applying a recognisable style to my own work, I have also found that easier to achieve in black and white. Though I have no plans to abandon black and white, I certainly wouldn’t rule out working in color in the future.

When I did take pictures regularly in color, I found it much more difficult to compose an interesting frame free of any distractions. If someone in the background of your frame has pink hair, then the viewer’s eye is inevitably drawn there, whether they are the focus of your shot or not; working in black and white obviates this. If I’m honest, working in color did also skew my choice of shots. If you’re not careful, you spend your time waiting for people that stand out from the crowd purely in terms of colour: a lady with red shoes, a couple of pink poodles, etc. and ignore more interesting subjects because they’re wearing dull colours.

Happy Birthday

LPO: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome to get a great shot?
IB: In London, it’s usually poor light rather than bullets whizzing past my ear, which is probably a good thing for the longevity of my career…

The Dream Life of Angels

LPO: What’s your photography motto? What words of wisdom keep you motivated and inspired?
IB: My motto would be ‘If you see a shot, take it’. If you think about your shots for too long, they tend to disappear. Motivation has never been a problem. I love taking candid shots and it’s pretty much second nature for me now. Inspiration comes from all around; I do view a lot of other photographers’ work especially on Flickr and there’s always someone new coming along who raises the bar with their work. I try and use that to push myself harder. There’s still a lot of things I would like to improve on in my work.

man & child

LPO: What makes your shots so incredible is your impeccable timing or unending patience. How do you know when to shoot? Which are the most important elements that need to fall into place when you’re composing a shot?
IB: Patience I don’t have in abundance. I very rarely stand around and wait for a specific shot; timing is all important. I guess it’s down to practice in reading the scene around you and spotting something interesting, which of course is different for everyone. Like every other photographer, I miss plenty great shots by a split second! I’m a Virgo by star sign, key traits being tidy and orderly and many of my compositions are, perhaps sometimes too much. I try and work in a good backdrop and good dark-light contrasts as well as a compelling subject. That’s the ambition anyway!

An Autumn poem

LPO: Share one of your images that you feel best demonstrates the style of photography you strive to achieve and tell us why.
IB: (photo above) The light on this day was beautiful. I took a lot of photographs that afternoon. For some viewers the image may be a bit of cliche, but it’s one of my own personal favourites. As soon as the pigeon settled on the boy’s arm, I knew there was a great image there to be taken. I’m usually more interested in photographing people full on, but here the silhouette told much more of a story. I’m keen on striking images with a classical composition as well as an interesting narrative and here I think I managed to get all three.

Age is just a number

LPO: What have been the most positive and negative reactions you’ve had from people who realized you were taking their photograph?
IB: ‘If you take my photo I’ll smash your face in’ (he didn’t) was possibly the most negative reaction I have had to date, but generally I have no problems with adverse reactions from my subjects. Usually I get indifference, bemusement or amusement and of course some people do actually love having their photo taken – they tend to be the most fun! I do approach all my subjects with respect and I think that’s important.


LPO: What are your main objectives as a photographer? What do you hope to accomplish or communicate through your body of work?
IB: Like all photographers I want my work to be seen and appreciated by a wide audience and to develop a following. Hopefully if I can raise my profile with an exhibition, it will open up the opportunity to travel more and do some international documentary and reportage work which I can’t afford to do at present.

A trip into town

LPO: Share something about yourself that you haven’t told us yet.
IB: I spent several years in prison for armed robbery. Well, no I didn’t, but I did used to write comedy for a living – Spitting Image amongst others, for those of you with a long memory! If photography wasn’t my prime focus right now, it would probably be writing; they both offer the opportunity to share your observations of the world seen through your eyes with a wider audience in their different ways. In fact, at the moment I’m doing some research for a stage play about one of my heroes, the black actor and political activist Paul Robeson and the time he spent in England in the late 1920s. One day I’ll get round to writing it. He’s a truly remarkable man, but because of his politics he’s all but forgotten in his native USA.

Thanks Ian!

For more of Ian’s work, have a look at his Flickr page or website.

For more interviews with photographers, have a look at the archives.

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Through The Eyes Of: Marietta Gawdzik

Canada might be considered home right now, but the world is a photographic playground for Marietta. She calls herself “Flower Bee” on Flickr – perhaps because her lifestyle of flitting from country to country with her camera at hand mirrors the busy bee hopping from flower to flower to collect its pollen prize. Her images capture the aspects of a culture unique to each area she visits – the people, clothing, landscapes and all the bits and trinkets in between.

Before heading off to Laos, Marietta took a few moments to tell us about her very first camera that set her off on some travel adventures, talks about returning to the same spot to capture it in a different light and shares a few words of wisdom from Henri Cartier-Bresson that keep her inspired.

Flowers for you madame

LPO: Tell us a bit about your background.
I was born in Poland in 60s. Since childhood I vicariously traveled through books, magazines and travel shows on TV. This was the only window to the world at a time when Poles could not leave the country without the proper authorization to be issued a passport. I tried to make my explorer dream real; I studied travel and tourism management, and later I worked for travel agency. In the early 90s I moved to Canada where I live with my family to the present day. I go on trips with my husband, who also photographed, whenever I can.

Red Dao embroidery

LPO: When and why did you become a photographer? Can you remember a certain moment that made you decide that was what you wanted to be?
MG: We all have albums of pictures of loved ones and of ourselves from when we were younger. When I was at school I was taking photos of my friends and my family using my mother’s camera. The first camera I bought myself was a Russian knockoff Yashica I found in a small Siberian town. With it, I started to take pictures during my trips. I always have a camera in my hand when I travel. I want to stop all those magical moments in the frame, documenting fascinating cultures and exotic locations. Travel photographers are mostly freelance photographers. In my daily life when I’m not abroad, I design floral arrangements and have recently started to work with jewellery; but it’s great to travel around the world, take pictures and get paid for it too.

Cuban cigar

LPO: Your love of travel has taken you all over Latin America, Asia and Europe. Which place has provided the most fulfilling experience for you as a photographer and why? Is there a place you would not return to?
MG: All the places I visited were interesting in their own way. Some had fascinating nature and topography, others had amazing ancient history or vibrant traditional clothing and warm faces. Havana is a street photographer’s dream destination. Cuba has a unique mix of 1950s cars, rich Afro-Latin culture and great colonial architecture. Argentina has a fascinating and diverse landscape, vast desert, the Andes mountains, lakes and glaciers and extensive flat regions. Vietnam is amazing place to take photos, I especially like the hill tribes area around Lao Cai province in the northern part of the country. Sometimes a place is inaccessible or discouraging, the weather is not ideal or the food is difficult to deal with but there are always other interesting and exciting elements which you like and it winds you up to want to return again. There is no such place that I wouldn’t return to.

Buddhist monk at Angkor Wat

LPO: When you travel, what elements do you look for when composing a photograph?
MG: Travel photography is challenging and absorbing, it changes constantly with the light, places, seasons and daily weather. I love lines and colour. I try highlighting colour within a certain area of a photograph to use as a compositional element. When I’m setting up a shot I always consider natural light. I love the time around sunset, when light is always very warm. It’s worth it to return to a spot during a better time of day to capture that unique atmosphere.

Tango Argentino

LPO: Share one of your images that you feel best demonstrates the style of photography you strive to achieve and tell us why.
MG: I have never actively tried to develop a style or even thought about it. My philosophy is try to get the best shot possible at the moment.

I look for opportunities in everyday life. I want to make an image that captures the individual spirit of the person. I look for candid moments. For portraits, I try to make contact with the person, spend some time with them, wait for the moment they feel more relaxed about the situation.

The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth.

LPO: Apart from your travel shots, you have quite a good collection of nature and animal photographs. Talk about the similarities and differences in the way you seek out photo opportunities while abroad versus at home in Canada.
MG: My real passion lies in travel photography and I would describe the photos I take at home as more of a weekend hobby. It gives me the opportunity to practice with the camera in a familiar and relaxed setting. Nature and animals are very forgiving meanwhile people abroad are not as comfortable in front of the camera, especially when photographed by strangers.

My older sister

LPO: How do you feel about post-processing? Which programs do you use, if any?
MG: I do some minor exposure correction and sometimes I will crop a worthwhile photo, but, overall, I do not spend much time editing my images. I try to do most of the composition and exposure work while shooting but I would like to learn more about post-processing.

Chewing coca leaves

LPO:What’s your photography motto? What words of wisdom keep you motivated and inspired?
MG: “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

Looking upon your photos as if you were looking at them through someone else’s eyes is a good way to give yourself constructive criticism. This way you will notice improvement and it will motivate you to keep learning.


LPO: What are your main objectives as a photographer? What do you hope to accomplish or communicate through your body of work?
MG: Having my photos noticed and used for publication is always rewarding. I would like my body of work to expose unique places and cultures to people who cannot travel for various reasons. I want people to journey through photography just as I did before I started exploring.

Passing by the Bayon temple

LPO: Share something about yourself that you haven’t mentioned in the rest of the interview.
MG: Well, I’m just an ordinary person, who has a chocolate addiction, loves gardening, is scared of spiders and crazy about trekking.

Smile of Vietnam
Thanks Marietta!

For more of Anne’s work, have a look at her Flickrstream.

For more interviews with photographers, have a look at the archives.

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For the next few months, I will be in Colombia, so I’ll be writing less in this blog and more in that one if you want to follow along:

Colombian Motorcycle

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Through The Eyes Of: Galibert Olivier

Amazingly, Galibert considers himself pretty new to photography. Even more impressive, he managed to build up such a stunning portfolio without picking up his camera as often as you would think. Last year, he only used it for five weeks. Originally from France, Galibert loves to travel and connect with people in some far away places like Tajikistan and Pakistan by taking clear, vivid portraits.

Through his busy schedule of studying, caving and canyoneering, Galibert took a bit of time out to share a story about a kid with incredible eyes, mention a couple of photographers who inspire him and tell us why Pakistan is his favorite place.

LPO: Tell us a bit about your background.
OG: Well, it looks a bit like patchwork! I will try to be brief. I’m 39, living in a medieval village in South France, close to where I grew up. I have done many different jobs in France and abroad and just started studying to become nurse. I still have two years to go before I graduate.

LPO: Do you remember one particular moment or event that made you fall in love with photography?
OG: I’ve been enjoying photography for a while. I particularly love Sebastião Salgado and Francesca Woodman. In 2007, I bought a D80 and started to take pictures in Pakistan which remained until last year on my hard drive.

Then I had some good feedback from friends. This is why I thought I should do something with those clichés and started to work on them. Eventually, I published them on Flickr. It felt as if I had turned the light on something and I fell in love with photography, a world of infinite possibilities.

LPO: Which aspects of your photos make them stand out as yours, elements that have developed over time to become your creative “eye”?
OG: It’s difficult to answer; maybe the subjects and places I have chosen. In reality, I try to work more on photo stories. I mean, I get an “original” subject and work with it. I also try to look at everyday beauty.

LPO: What are your main objectives as a photographer? What do you hope to accomplish or communicate through your body of work?
OG: Well, I don’t consider myself a photographer, because I have made some other professional choices. I’m just doing photography as a hobby, for leisure. My main goal is to experience some pleasure with photography. I want to share and show how people live, what’s going on elsewhere. Of course, I started photography recently and there are so many ways to explore.

LPO: You’ve taken lots of portrait shots, especially during your travels in Tunisia, Tajikistan and Pakistan. How do you approach people and what is the typical reaction? Is language an issue? Have you ever had a negative experience?
OG: How I approach people, well, 90% of the communication is non-verbal. You go to meet someone with a smile and you will have some chances to get one in return. This is a typical reaction even if it’s not working every time. I am working with a 24/70mm lens, and I must establish a contact for my portraits. It is a choice and I have not had regrets about it.

I always ask people, talk to them and as much as I can I try to give them the pictures later on. Recently I’ve bought a small printer. It is pretty efficient. This way, I can give the pictures immediately. Some people refuse I take pictures of them, so I try to ask again. If there’s an issue, I’ve just to keep the portrait in my mind! I have never had a negative experience.

LPO: During your travels, in which place did you have the most fulfilling experience in terms of photography and why? Anywhere you wouldn’t return?
OG: I’ve been traveling in many places, but I just started last year to travel with a photography goal. As for the places I know, they are all different. Tunisia is famous in France. The opportunities were so numerous and the people so sweet when you take a bit of time with them, it was just real pleasure.

Tajikistan was also a great experience. There are no tourists at all. I would like to come back to this place. As for Pakistan, I have spent one year there, and it’s just my favorite place, such an incredible country. It is really a true human experience. I intend to go back there again next summer, and take more pictures of course! There are no places I wouldn’t return that I can think of.

LPO: You’ve got some vintage style shots of Tunisia. Can you tell us a bit about this Flickr set, how you created these images?
OG: About the vintage, it’s just a feeling I got. I wanted to have a new way to work with my photos and I used Photoshop. I have to try new ways of taking pictures, work on them, and explore the possibilities.

LPO: A good majority of your work focuses on people, but you have one set specifically devoted to doors. Talk a bit about what draws you into a shot, what inspires you to pick up your camera.
OG: For now, I am not using my camera a lot as I’m involved in studies. When I have some free time, I go caving or canyoneering and it takes a lot of time. So, last year I used my camera for only five weeks. Sometimes I take it like the day I visited an old village in South France, where the doors where lovely.

LPO: Tell us a story about one of the people you have photographed that made you want to take their picture.
OG: One of the people I have photographed who inspired me to take his picture was a kid in Kande, North Pakistan. I was walking down the street of this village, surrounded by breathtaking mountains when a kid with incredible eyes appeared. I got my camera. He was a bit afraid and curious, and then I shoot his face. I really love this picture for the expressive face.

LPO: What is the one question you wish I would have asked you and how would you answer it?
OG: Well, why there are not so many portraits from France? I promise you to change that soon! 😉

Thanks Galibert!

For more of Olivier’s work, see his Flickr stream.

For more interviews with photographers, have a look at the archives.

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The Eye: Pamela Ross

These shots from Pamela show off her skill at highlighting objects using bokeh. I love the quotes she includes on Flickr beneath each photo in her stream.

For the watches: “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”

time is priceless

And a quote for the macaroons: “A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.”

a diet with macarons

Love the colors in the second one and the bokeh cookies in the background. I’ll have one in each hand, thanks!

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