Tag Archives: photography

LET’S PLAY THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND THE MODEL

I’m glad my last visit to Madrid was so productive, filling an agenda with plenty of activities we don’t usually carry out when I’m visiting.

I’ve already told you about Hopper’s exhibition, and The Wildhearts’ special program at Viva Las Vegas. There were lots of beers and tapas with friends, and nice walks, but I want  to tell you about one of the funniest activities I shared with Agnès, which I’m looking forward to repeating, related to her blog, From Here to Fashion, photography, nice locations and outfits.

The blog cover many aspects regarding fashion, as you can imagine. Trends, designers, models, complements, vintage shops, photographers… topics which imply a research carried out via Internet, paper magazines, and the quest for inspiration in local shops. It’s not so simple as it might seem, and takes its time.

What has this to do with me? Sure you’re wondering, considering I’m not a fashion addict, even though I’m more interested and updated than it seems. For all the fields I’ve mentioned, my sis can handle by herself, but when it comes to show her own outfits, she modeling herself, in order not to deliver identical and boring pictures assisted by the automatic shooting mode, she needs some help.  Most of times, the appointed photographer is Kiko, and even though we know he’d do whatever for her beloved, he’s not into photography, thus, this outfits improvised sessions are quick, and taken in a very standard manner, so he doesn’t get bored or tired.

Imagine when Agnès asked me if I could take some pictures of her, and I accepted right away…she was so happy!

Agnès is a very controlling and organized person in some aspects in her life, as most of us, there are others in which she’s total chaos. I was amazed he way she handles her blog, scheduling posts, listing the outfits she wants to show, analyzing the complements to wear so everything perfectly matches. Quite impressive really!

You know our styles are totally different, I think mine hasn’t really changed in at least 15 years, but for including some items in my looks, such us make up, hairdo, skirts, tighter t-shirts, bags and glasses. That aside, I’m the kinda jeans and rock/film t-shirts with sneakers kinda girl. Perhaps I should ask Agnès to talk about my style more in depth, as far as I know, all the differences omitted, she likes my style as an important part of my personality.

On the other hand, since I met her many years ago, she’s changed her style completely, from top to bottom.  It’s funny to think what she’s gonna wear next time I’m seeing her. Really unexpected.

Let’s get to the point. I took pics of three outfits in two days, and the locations chosen were really nice.

First place was Campo del Moro gardens, which belong to the Royal Palace. A great variety of vegetation and trees , combined with beautiful fountains, and the quietness ruling, make of this place one of the coolest spots in Madrid.

Agnès was wearing a beautiful dress she found at her favorite vintage shop in the city, complemented with sandals and socks (I’m not into this mixture), and a cane bag resembling to the old fishing ones our grandparents used to carry.

I reckon she enjoyed the session lots, as I was shooting bursts, counting for her to move, and trying to make the whole thing more dynamic and interactive. Moreover, I was trying to cover her requirements regardless, and if I had to lay on the pavement to take a good shot of her sandals, even though I was covered with dust and pine stings after, I wouldn’t care less. I was up to everything.

Second session was that very same day after lunch, but unfortunate it was a quick one, due to terrible heat in the afternoon. We went nearby, to Madrid Rio, a project created at the bank of Manzanares river. It’s become a nice area the locals use for leisure activities and chilling out. Trees were planted but unfortunately haven’t grown up enough as to offer shelter from the killing sun.

This time Agnès was wearing a summer black jumpsuit, short, fresh and comfy, remarked by a pair of with platform sole sandals with a bow in white, quite pin up like.

Sun was so rough on us, she had to borrow my sunglasses to avoid much frowning. I was melting and almost blind, so the pictures were a bit lower profile. Sis, my apologies, I was dehydrating!

We were supposed to come back to Thyssen Museum to see the permanent exhibition, but it was such a wonderful morning at the Prado meadow, lying under the trees, enjoying the breeze and the fresh grass, we decided to spend some time simply for out joy and amusement, taking pictures, chatting and observing the people around. It was a blast!

This dress Agnès was wearing is one of my favorites, blue, red and white. Adorable and super easy to combine. In fact, complements chosen to fit were marvelous and mostly in red, which is my favorite color. A red satchel bag, the red Ray-Ban’s, the flat shoes and the red Swatch. Perfect. and the final touch with the golden bracelets.

It is really an interesting experience to take this kind of pictures. I’m not used to people modeling nor posing for me, nor having to capture details of things. I’m more into bands in motion, buildings, street art, and people in natural attitudes, so this is completely new for me, and I love it. Moreover, the fact that the model is my best friend encourages me to get good results, thus I try my best even though I’m not a pro by all means. Still, my condition as amateur doesn’t have to stop me from learning, trying and working hard as long as I can help my sis.

And finally, not only the best reward is seeing my pictures in her blog, which I encourage you to take a look at, and where you’ll find her outfits better explained, but also seeing her pleased and happy. And of course, the end of the sessions followed by a cold beer at one of these classic taverns, so typical in Madrid. Cheers!

Can’t wait for the next session, sis! Thanks for trusting me 🙂

NEAL CASAL BROUGHT ME RYAN ADAMS & THE CARDINALS TO THE HELLHOUSE

I haven’t talked about live music photography yet, and to be honest, if I had to choose a field to develop my poor skills in, or focus my work onto, live performances and street art would be my main targets.

I find really difficult to capture those intense moments coming from the spontaneity of the band members, the feelings, the passion, and the workspace  is usually terrible. Lights, shades, angles, jacks, annoying mic stands, and even these mobile video units. Now I’m thinking of a picture of Nicke Royale with Imperial State Electric, which could have been awesome but it was completely ruined because of this huge  video mobile arm. It was one of these “Fuck My Life” moments, believe me.

I will refer to outstanding photographers covering this field very soon, but now I’d like to talk about something more special and intimate, Neal Casal achieved through hundreds of pictures, many of them included in his book Ryan Adams & The Cardinals: A View of Other Windows.

This compilation of pictures means trespassing the threshold into the inner world of one of my favorite artists, Ryan Adams, and the band he formed and fronted for approximately 5 years, The Cardinals, which Neal Casal joined in 2005.

Their world, including the writing and recording processes and methods, the band on the road, the relationship among members, the good and bad moments, from happiness to exhaustion, euphoria and solitude, is beautifully reflected here, in a humble way, with no ambitious aspirations but to catch and keep part of their lives and experiences for good.

I’ve always thought Neal Casal is a very emotional artist, with a taste for the beauty in a discrete manner. Whenever I listen to his solo stuff it evokes me some kind of peace. The tandem formed between Neal and Ryan is really complementary, as if the second provided the passion and the guitarist was there to balance and keep things under control.

The fans know by know about Adams’ shyness and mood swings, he’s quite a borderline personality, in my opinion essential to be the genius he is. Casal, seems to be the witness of all his extreme behavior, close enough as not to disturb him either, which hasn’t to be very easy.

The relationship among the members of the band is also interesting. So far, so close, everything changes depending on the circumstances. Being part of a band which spends long time on the road must be rough and strenuous. We have no idea of what two hours show means in terms of effort, work and sacrifice. It’s like a family but implying a responsibility towards a different audience every night, and bread on your table. Your working day doesn’t mean 8h at the office, or the factory, but playing eating, travelling, sleeping…

Adams appreciated the talent of Casal right away, and the covers of Easy Tiger and Follow the Lights Ep are credited to him, together with the albums artwork featuring some of the pictures.

I have to remark another personal issue which makes this book more special, and it’s the fact that there are plenty of pix referring to the European tour in 2007. I was lucky to attend to one of the shows in November 2007, a thrilling and absolutely wonderful night, in which I signed not only a peace agreement with Adams, my filthy hair boy, but also my unconditional love for the rest of my life.

Ryan Adams and The Cardinals split ways in 2009, for many reasons, among others, Adams’ retirement announcement caused by the Ménière’s disease, and later on,  the loss of the bassist Chris Feinstein.

Neal Casal has just released a beautiful album named Sweeten the Distance, keeps on taking pictures which have been published in many established magazines, and nowadays he’s part of Chris Robinson’s Brotherhood. Let’s cross fingers and wait if he manages to let us into this family through his lens.

CALIFORNIA SKATEBOARDING THROUGH LENS – HUGH HOLLAND

One of my biggest frustrations has to do with skateboarding. Do you remember Marty McFly in Back to the Future breaking a soapbox car and creating a skateboard out of it? Well I had a crush on this sport ever since.

Unfortunately its practice has started becoming popular recently, and it has to do more with a fashion trend rather than with the sport itself. Let’s say skateboarding here is for posh and cool people nowadays in Spain. Barcelona is currently full of boards, there are some shitty skate rinks and parks, but the credit has to be given to foreign youngsters.

Pity now it’s too late for me to learn without taking risks involving likely physical consequences at my 30’s I cannot afford suffering.

 I love the concept, the aesthetics of the skaters, their bodies, the movements, the musical philosophy involved, especially with the old school ones, directly attached to rock and metal…

Leaving aside what skate boarding means to me, there was a place and a time, where skate boarding changed radically in its practice. Before it became one of the most popular extreme sports with half pipes and other acrobatics, skateboarding was simply a source of entertainment for the kids in America, comparable to roller skating, and cheaper than a bike.

California hosted the revolution in skateboarding. By now, many of you are acquainted with names such as Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, Jay Adams, Dogtown and Z-Boys. This was a generation of problem childred. Kids raised in rough home environments, attached to a board as an extension of their body.  Apart from other circumstances and events, many of them were lucky their passion kept them away from the streets and jail, some of them ended deep down in shit.

In the mid 1970’s a major drought in South California, affecting LA especially, caused massive water restrictions, which implied many private swimming pools being drained for long time. The Z-Boys found these pools the perfect place for skating and developing stunning acrobatics, thus they started sneaking into the houses illegally for their pleasure.

Very few managed to witness such early experiences in first person, and Hugh Holland, together with Glen E. Friedman, who I will talk about soon, carried a camera in the right time and the right place, capturing awesome moments of the godfathers of modern-day skate.

Hugh Holland published a compilation of these captures in his book Locals Only. It goes beyond skating, this book reflects this community of kids and their lifestyle, with the boards as the epicenter of their existence.

These guys had an attitude, and appearance and an inner trademark. Their hair bleached, their suntanned well built bodies exhibited as if it was normal, sometimes wearing wasted and ruined Vans and Levi’s, and sometimes just bare feet. Their style is aggressive, their attitude is mean. They were kids, but could be dangerous, and wanted to look tough, and they did. These were the guys who really grew and learned everything from the streets.

It is difficult to sum up the talent and the work of an artist, and a photographer, as they are able to transmit so many feelings and things in a capture, it can be overwhelming sometimes, but if I had to choose a capture to define Hugh Holland, that would be this one, no doubt.

For me, this image is a generation portrait. Little Danny Kwock, in his bathsuit, literally stuck to the board, even though you can observe his feet soles are not firmly leaning on it, his eyes closed and his body surfing as if in ecstasy…this capture is simply awesome!

Enjoying these pictures, regret and frustration comes to my mind once again. I should have tried to slide with a board when I had time even though I was on my own. Nscht!

FEMALE SENSUALITY THROUGH LENS – ELLEN VON UNWERTH

The post I wrote related to Larry Clark encouraged me to keep on writing on some other photographers whose work makes a mark upon me.

I told you that I prefer the filth and the decadence, rather than the cuteness and the beauty, or better said, the innocent and childish beauty. In fact, I’m quite tired of this attitude as a way of life. I will develop this anti-cuteness feeling I have someday soon.

Avoiding to start comparing one artist to the other, I’ll mention Larry Clark once, just to make a point. His style deals with decadent reality, showing extreme scenes, plenty of nasty sex, drugs, and trailer-park current stories. His reality is so real, we do not feel attached to it, although is not so distant to our so called normal lives.

Ellen Von Unwerth, the photography icon I’m talking about tonight, is also extreme, but in a different level and environment.

Very attached to the world of fashion, as she used to modeling before starting her role as a photographer, her work is clearly based on the female eroticism, delivering captures of gorgeous women at the height of their sensuality.

Her photos have been published not only in the most important fashion magazines, such as Vogue, Elle, but also in other established ones, as for instance Vanity Fair, or The Face.

Many celebrities have posed under her command, from Claudia Schiffer to Drew Barrymore, always showing some halo of depravation and making them look absolutely irresistible.

The German photographer  has already published seven books, and has also taken the role of director filming few short length pieces for fashion desingers, and directing several videoclips.

Von Unwerth’s women are too extreme,pose is completely forced and planned, makeup is challenging, and the contrast enhances the effect of the capture.

There’s no innocence, not cuteness, the power of sex and sensuality to their utmost, provoking the viewer as to have a reaction, finally end into a collection of hot pictures, close to the bizarre and fetishism, and the role of punishment and reward. I honestly love the idea of powerful women, nasty and somehow devil, exploiting their sensuality to achieve anything.

High heels, fishnet stockings, sensual underwear, nudity, ropes, whips… I cannot help but thinking of Eric Stanton and his bizarre depiction of women, as the ultimate punishers. Yep, some day I will also talk about him.

How did I know from Ellen Von Unwerth? Since I opened my Tumblr account (I cannot considerate it a blog, but a kind of public dashboard), I’m developing one of the most entertaining of my past times, which is, surf the net in search of images worth enough posting. I’ve realized that, to feed my hunger for culture and wisdom, I’m constantly stimulating the two principal senses, sight and hearing, and the images, the captures, constantly moving and renewing, are an essential source of knowledge.

This was the picture that made me feel interested in the artist and start searching for more.

Doesn’t she remind you of Mia Wallace? In my mind same question pops up when observing this capture: what’d happened to Mia Wallace at home, after all the heart kicktarting incident?

Hope you like this little taste of Von Unwerth’s amazing portfolio.

THE WORLD PERCEIVED THROUGH LENS – LARRY CLARK

As you might know by now, I love photography. I try to be a little bit creative capturing the essence of things which usually only matters to me, as a stamp and a memory of a certain moment, to remain forever.

It’s true that going out for photography safari on your own can be a bit tedious, if you want to carry extra lens and other devices with yourself, and it’s easy you sometimes feel lazy to leave your warm and cozy cave, to take some photos of January morning light. You really have to be in the mood. There’s an absolute truth for the amateur photographer: the more you practice the better, and if you don’t, let me tell you, although shooting is easy, you lose confidence and clumsiness strikes back, till you get in “shape” once again. This is my current situation. It’s been too long since I don’t hit the streets with my reflex camera. I have several ideas on little projects, basically to have a target to find out in my walks, but I lack the will right now.

Few days ago I told you my IPhone is nowadays my favorite toy, regarding instant photography. I currently use several applications, being Instagram the best, not only for posting instant pics, but also a a social network. I’m serious when I can assure you, since I starting using this app, I’ve posted approx 1600 shots. Self portraits, street art, tv and movie captures, food progress, gigs, friends, objects… anything is admissible in my world. I really did instant shooting.

Remember I told you about the exhibition of photography I enjoyed, at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm? It was a total blast, and made me realize how much I like this art over paintings and sculptures. I find it straight, real and raw sometimes.

I was particularly impressed by Tulsa series, by Larry Clark, captured during 1960-70’s. Nasty sex, drugs, and white trash characters were the core of his work. I found it terrifying and fascinating at the same time.

Believe it or not, being completely ignorant and unaware, Tulsa somehow reminded me of this film, Kids. I wasn’t even 20 when I went to the movies to watch it. I have the clear memory of Jose and I, also very affected and shocked by the story. The plot perhaps wasn’t outstanding (sorry I haven’t seen this film in ages), youngsters in those conflictive ages they’re supposed to be kids but behave like adults, with the difference of being careless and too reckless. The way Kids was told, was what really left us speechless. To start with, more or less, people around me had same kind of education, economic possibilities, and family figures, we were raised in traditional values, and although things are changing, in the 90’s, we could say everything was normal. Those NY teenagers were mean, vicious and dangerous, and despite the fact that it was fiction, we could feel this was just a capture of something really going on.

Few days  ago, I thought of writing a post dedicated to Larry Clark, I haven’t written anything related to any photograph, but considering the miscellaneous tone of Since my Baby Left Me, I thought “why not?”. The idea wasn’t telling you about his life and career, but of course, I was interesting in being a bit acquainted with his background.

As soon as I checked  Wikipedia (yes, I love this site and I use it on daily basis, and hate to think some kind of shitty law can apply censorship and ruin it for good) , it took me just one line and a half to discover, the very same Larry Clark who shocked me with his personal portrait of dirty Tulsa, had managed to shock me 17 years before.

There’s not much else to say, now it’s time to observe, and I really hope out of disgust, you can enjoy his work as much  as I do.