SOFIA AJRAM FAERIES AND LUMINARIES YEONDOO JUNG WONDERLAND CYRILLE WEINER JOURS DE FÊTES JOE NIGEL COLEMAN SOME PLACE I’D RATHER BE Q&A CAT JIMENEZ MOPLA
IN THE MAGAZINE 08
ON THE TOWN
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24 32 48
JOURS DE FÊTES SOME PLACE I’D RATHER BE TINY REALITIES FAERIES AND LUMINARIES Q&A: CAT JIMENEZ
Photo by Joe Nigel Coleman, see more on page 28
his issue, with the theme of Dreams/ Fantasy, was way too much fun to curate. It was originally inspired by the work of Sofia Ajram, the photographic ingenue of Canada, but the strange combination of ethereal works from some truly great photographers we were able to assemble surpasses just the genius of a single artist. From dream interpretation to the fantasy world of Parisian night fairs, we cover all sorts of dreamy subjects. Including, for the first time, illustration. We’re all about trying to bring in new and interesting kinds of photography, so if you’re interested in the mixed media of layering photographs with other kinds of artwork, head to page 38. You’ll also see a lot of content focused on MOPLA this issue. April is the Month of Photography Los Angeles! This is a great event founded by some incredible photographers, and is all about getting great photography out there. Make sure to check out some of the events if you’re in the greater LA Area, and if you guys think this is as cool as we do, keep your eyes open for more MOPLA material in issues to come. It takes a lot to be able to create a coherent story out of the dreams we have in the night and the fantasies that we have during the day. I mean, how do you really capture the strange feelings that pervade our dream consciousness? I feel like our photographers are somnambulists, sleep walking through life (in a good way). And that’s what I like about these photos - that they bring the dream world into reality. Either that, or I just like sparkly things. Which there are a lot of in this issue. Enjoy!
KAITLYN ELLISON content editor
marketing and advertising director EMILY SANDS art director ADAM OLIVER creative director
KELSEY FRAZIER, ALEXANDER HENSON, ROBIN LAM, EMILY SANDS contributing photographers CHARLOTTE RUTHERFORD, CYRILLE WEINER, ERENA SHIMODA, JOE NIGEL COLEMAN, JOHAN THÖRNQVIST, LOUIS LANDER-DEACON, RACHAEL ASHE, SOFIA AJRAM, YEONDOO JUNG contributing layout & design KELSEY FRAZIER, ROBIN LAM
Photo by Rachael Ashe, see more on page 11
Correction: In the last issue, Patti Hillock’s piece should have been credited as “Picnic, White Sans, NM” archival pigment print, 2010
cover photo by Charlotte Rutherford contents photo by Sofia Ajram back cover photo by Cyrille Weiner
NEGATIVITY LOUIS LANDER-DEACON HTTP://WWW.FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/LOUISLANDERDEACON/ UNTITLED CHARLOTTE RUTHERFORD WWW.CHARLOTTERUTHERFORD.COM
BREATH ERENA SHIMODA HTTP://WWW.ERENASHIMODA.COM
SPECIMEN TURTLE RACHAEL ASHE HTTP://RACHAELASHE.COM
Andrew Phillips, Coney Island
ON THE TOWN
INTERNATIONAL CENTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY WANG QINGSONG, WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE JANUARY 21 - MAY 8, 2011
The first U.S. solo show of Wang Qingsong, Beijing-based photographer who methodically stages elaborate sets for large scale color photographs. The exhibit is organized by ICP curator Christopher Phillips, and will include a series of Wang’s recent videos as well as documentary footage depicting the artist in addition to the images. More information at http://www.icp.org
RAYKO 4TH ANNUAL PLASTIC CAMERA SHOW MARCH 4 - APRIL 30, 2011
Featured photographers Michelle Bates and Sam Grant, in addition to dozens of others, have on display their best lo-fi images at SF’s famous Rayko gallery this month. There are some seriously cool images, and a ton of other fun stuff to do at the photo center. Check it out at http:// raykophoto.com
NEW YORK CITY Wang Qingsong, Competition, 2004. Chromogenic Print ©Wang Qingsong, courtesy the artist
MOPLA OFFICIAL KICK-OFF EVENT PIER 59 STUDIOS WEST SATURDAY APRIL 2, 2011, 7 - 10 PM The official kick off part for the Month of Photography Los Angeles, Adaptation and Reverberations: Contemporary Photography’s Ever Changing Landscape
PHOTOGRAPHY FROM NEW CHINA GROUP SHOW THE GETTY DECEMBER 7TH 2010 - APRIL 24TH, 2011 A range of photographic artwork from contemporary Chinese photographers. “Artists who went abroad to find freedom of expression have returned to establish studios and provide mentoring” - politics and art always seem to go together.
STREETWISE ARTIST TALK WITH BRUCE DAVIDSON MOPA (SAN DIEGO) APRIL 8, 2011
BUSTA & SCHUDE CAPORALE/BLEICHER GALLERY APRIL 11 - APRIL 30, 2011
Urban photography master Bruce Davidson shares his thoughts about some of his most iconic bodies of work. See mopa.org for tickets.
Don’t miss the artist talk on April 16th! Extraordinary photographers and collaborators Ryan Schude and Dan Busta present a large scale narrative event - including a piece showing for the first time. It’s always fun to be the first to see something, so don’t miss this.
OPEN SHOW LA #5 VENICE ARTS GALLERY APRIL 20, 2011 Free monthly event where four curated presenters have 15 minutes each to show off their work. If you like Slideluck Potshow, this is right up your alley. Plus, the submissions are open until April 13th, so you still have time to show off your own stuff!
THERE ARE WAY TOO MANY MOPLA EVENTS FOR US TO SHOW HERE!
CHECK OUT THE
WEBSITE HTTP://WWW.MOPLA.ORG TO FIND A COMPLETE LISTING.
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HAS TO BE ONE OF THE CUTEST PROJECTS WE’VE EVER SEEN.
RECREATES THE FANTASY WORLD OF CHILDREN’S DRAWINGS - IN REAL LIFE. IT’S THE ULTIMATE COLLABORATION. IT’S THE RANDOM, VIVID IMAGINATION OF A CHILD AND THE ARTISTIC VISION AND OF A GROWN-UP. THE PHOTOGRAPHER ANSWERS SOME OF KAITLYN ELLISON’S QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS PROJECT.
What inspired your project, “Wonderland? I was corresponding with a French Fashion magazine editors in 2004, and I came up with the idea after an e-mail exchange with her. If in a drawing a child drew one sleeve bigger than another, then we tried to imitate that in real life, what would it look like? After meeting with a series of different fashion designers working on the concept, I decided to teach kindergarten for a few months.
How did you create these pieces? How did you collect the images and decide which ones to recreate? The children’s drawing is such an unrealistic medium, while photography is really the most realistic. So I like to fill in the gap between realities by using designers and sculptors. I collected so many drawings during my four months of teaching, and each one of them has so many interesting elements. So I only chose the ones that I have the idea to realize in photographic form.
What are you currently working on? I’m working on a project called “Dear Daddy.” It is a portrait of a middle aged man. Less handsome than he used to be, he’s a typical office worker. What makes this project interesting is that the portrait is taken by a child. A large format camera is set up for a child, and he presses the shutter. It’s inspired by the idea that there is always a psychological relationship formed between the model and the photographer, and I want to explore the kind of relationship that happens when the photographer is a child.
see the rest of the project at http://www.yeondoojung.com
EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY “TAKE CARE TAKE CARE TAKE CARE” Austin-based instrumentalists Explosions in the Sky drop their new album this month - entitled “Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.” It’s something to play on a rainy day perhaps, or when you’re just feeling reflective. Music isn’t really our specialty here at Snapixel, but we know what we like. Especially when it’s so good that we spend an entire month listening to it, like we did when we were creating this issue. It’s the perfect music for dreams, no vocals to focus your attention on a specific subject, but delightfully rambling instrumentals that take your mind in all different directions. The record comes out on April 26th. Another reason we love these guys - their holding an art installation and listening event on April 23rd called “Taking Care: 6 visual interpretations” where six artists will each show off a work inspired by a track on the new album. So cool. Find out more on the band’s website, at http://www.explosionsinthesky.com/
BY ALEXANDER HENSON
1 NIKON LIMITED EDITION NIKKOR AF-S F/1.4 LENS SET A photographer’s true claim to legitimacy is measured by the heaps of photo-related gear, gadgets, and glass lying around his or her “studio” collecting dust. Nikon wants to add to that inert collection of paraphernalia with a set of limited edition, beautifully packaged Nikkor AF-S f/1.4 lenses. Let’s forget the fact that close to nobody needs an entire box filled with super-fast primes – it’s a damned good looking set. Limited to 100 sets and individually numbered in a keepsake case, the box includes 24mm, 35mm, and 85mm Nikkor lenses, their respective hoods, and a soft cloth drawstring bag. Freakishly fast – and not the worst value at €4,899. Available now in European markets.
3 Photojojo Ring Flash Adapter Tripods, lenses, umbrellas, strobes, flashes, personal assistants…we here at Snapixel know (and admire) the processes involved in photoshoots, and the subsequent fruits of the photographer’s hard work. But let’s not forget what cameras are really for: pointing a camera at family and friends and capturing the moment. Photojojo is quickly becoming a Snapixel favorite simply because they haven’t forgotten how to have fun with a camera. Their new $40(!!!) ring flash adapter attaches to your existing external flash and provides a soft, even diffusion of light that would take thousands of dollars’ worth of gear to replicate. It’s not a real substitute for prolevel gear…but it’s not pretending to be. It’s just fun. Available now at photojojo.com.
21 LEXAR PROFESSIONAL SDXC 64GB/128 GB CARDS This is America. More is better. Faster is better. Bigger is better. Lexar’s new Class 10 SDXC cards, shipping in 64 and 128GB capacities, are American through and through (except, uhm, they’re not actually made in the U.S.A.). Guaranteeing minimum 133x speeds, the new Lexar Professional SDXC series cards add much-needed speed and capacity in the high-definition photo and video arms race. Leave the dial on burst mode and wear out the shutter; switch on the HD video recording and bootleg the whole performance; or simply go on vacation and leave the pocket hard drive behind. Lexar’s got your back. Available now at adorama.com for $279.95 (128GB) and $129 (64GB).
JOURS DE FÊTES
IMAGES BY CYRILLE WEINER WORDS BY EMILY SANDS
Simply defined, a fair is a gathering place where people come together, away from their daily lives, to experience the sensations of rides, entertainment, and celebrations. It’s a place where your life becomes what you wish it could be, a fantasy filled with joy, laughter and extravagances. A place where your problems melt away, and all that is left is warm pink cotton candy, Ferris wheels, and rides that make your stomach jump with every turn. Fairs are all about the past, momentarily forgetting about the real world in order to temporarily reside in a realm of grandeur. Photographer Cyrille Weiner captures fairs not for the events themselves, but to show the world a utopia – an image of what life could be like. Inspired by the faded elegance of Leon Gimpel’s autochromes, and the imagery of 20th century Paris, Weiner is not interested in fairs for what they truly are, but for the idea and image of a city that existed long ago, or perhaps one so fantastic that it never existed at all. The fair as a historical celebration and architectural phenomenon sharing a glimpse of what modern cities could be like if they had followed a more fantastic rather than practical evolutionary path. Weiner seems to believe that these Fêtes are a reflection of that lost Atlantis, and are ripe with inspirational potential. “Fairs and amusement parks can be a source of inspiration for architects and city planners and this is what I have in mind when shooting my Jours de Fêtes series”. Jours de Fêtes is an ongoing project started in 2006 when Weiner photographed a fair in Le Grand Palais of Paris during the Winter holidays. This particular shoot was inspired by a prior collaborator of Weiner’s, Patrick Bouchain, who’s main focus is architecture, specializing in theater and circus design. Translated as ‘celebration days,’ or ‘party days,’ Jours de Fêtes is not only the name given to the holiday fair event at Le Grand Palais, but is also the title of a 1949 film by Jacques Tati, “The background of this movie is the annual party of a small village. The spirit and atmosphere of this film is close to the one of the event”. One of the most fantastic parts of the Jours de Fêtes series is the transition from the empty pavilions to the light studded exhibition. It’s a move from the ordinary to the extraordinary, as if a word of fantasy and mystery
arises out of nothing. Weiner’s images are a window to the evolution of the event--the transition from ordinary to fantasy that occurs when one steps beyond the structure of the building and finds themselves in the unexpected presence of the rides and lighting it contains. The event itself takes you into a space that is designed explicitly to make you feel lost in a mysterious world of illusion where modern time has no place or appeal. “You lose sense of time being there, the sense of space too. You sometimes don’t know if you’re indoors or outdoors— it’s an escape from the ordinary world. The confrontation of unexpected elements makes it extraordinary. I feel like I didn’t have to do much photographically. I just wanted to be close to the scenery itself, faithful to the dimensions of the place, of the objects and bodies inside it.” In order to project the fantasy into his artwork, the photographer manipulates the world that the viewer can see. The images he presents are specifically selected so that the one can never see the entirety of the fair at once. Playing with the shadows and lighting contrast Weiner strives to reveal certain areas, while obscuring others. For example, he focuses a number of images on bright spots of colored lighting appearing against a dark background creating a space without real depth or presence, a fantasy-land. However reality is never completely obscured, many of the images contain very real elements particularly the people who populate the images. “Usually, I am interested in images where the transition between reality and imaginary is very narrow, when you don’t know if it’s real or if it’s set up. My process is in search of this narrow space between reality, fiction and imaginary”. The result of such a process is the feeling that each image could be real or an illusion. Of course images, however wonderful they are, can never truly capture an event. Weiner understands this as well as anyone. When asked what he wished he could have captured, but didn’t he responded, “The sound. It was really part of what made it extraordinary. There was a DJ mixing sounds and music with the sounds of the event itself. It was at the same time discrete – like coming from far – and very charming. I remember having the sound in mind long after I left the building. Now this sound is like a blurred picture I didn’t shoot – it’s in the deepness of my memory, and I wish I had a record.” Today Weiner continues his work on Jours de Fêtes and others, always exploring the ways people inhabit spaces, both natural and industrial. He continually searches for uncommon places that people come together, particularly the nomadic and transitory settings. “I am in search of an escape of too normative spaces and places, away from mass consumption and instant time of our contemporary society.” He seeks a place where people can come together and experience life beyond the ordinary, an escape from real life all together..
See more of Weiner’s work at http://www.cyrilleweiner.com/
SOME PLACE I’D RATHER BE
IT ALL CHANGED WHEN HE STEPPED INTO THAT CAMERA SHOP.
photography by Joe Nigel Coleman words by Robin Lam
Tucked away in a tiny corner of Prague was something easily missed, an antique camera shop filled to the brim with old cameras, film, and the sense of another world. Joe Coleman spoke no Czech and the store owner spoke no English, but the two were somehow able to communicate through drawings and body language, chatting about life with words and gestures that perhaps neither really understood. But languages be damned, by the end Coleman walked out of that little shop with three analog cameras, several rolls of film, and the start of a new kind of vocabulary: photography. “I suppose I’ve always been a visual person,” Coleman says. “I started traveling about five years ago when I was 19 and [though] I didn’t actually have a camera on that first trip, I was inspired by all the sights and smells and people because when you’re traveling everything is fresh and new everyday.” Fresh out of school, Coleman’s first trip out of his native Australia lasted six months and spanned all of Europe, making new friends, meeting friends of friends, and creating bonds that would serve him well in the coming years when he would travel back and forth between countries, exploring, backpacking, and taking pictures.
Growing up on Tamborine Mountain in Queensland, Coleman explains that his affinity for nature, which is quite evident in his photography, stems from the experience of having a rainforest as his backyard. “As a boy I always had that connection with the environment and [now] I really like taking photos to glorify nature, if that makes sense. Especially with film cameras, it just feels more natural to take these pictures. A lot of the digital photos that you see of landscape and the outdoors seem too perfect, maybe too sharp. I mean that’s an amazing thing and I have nothing against it, but I feel like when I look at those sort of photos it doesn’t really seem real. Nature isn’t that… I don’t know, it’s hard to explain— not that perfect.” Rather, Coleman is more interested in experimenting with his images, exploring the imperfections, quirky colors, marks and abstractions that he can create with film which seem to represent nature in a more realistic manner. In his series Dreams, Coleman has collected photos from Turkey, Australia, Spain, Croatia, Italy, to name a few, taken during the last two years of his travels. Misty colored and infused with a sense of never-ending summers, these images were not
created with a specific idea in mind, but were drawn together because each reminded Coleman of his travels and his dreams in one way or another.
want to do. I just feel really lucky to have a job where I can earn a lot of money in a short amount of time and go traveling to see new places and make new friends.”
“It’s a bit surreal. Obviously for me it’s different because all [of the photos] are actual places I’ve been and memories that I have. They’re not specifically related to any certain type of dream that I’ve had, but more like dream that I could have I suppose. My photos might not always be an accurate representation of what I actually see, but I think when you take a photo the object becomes not what you see, but how you see it. I’ve been taking more and more photos in the past few years partly because I don’t feel like my memory is too good, and partly because it’s really nice just looking back and seeing all these memories. I suppose when you take a photo it’s like stopping time and taking a little bit of it and saving it and putting it into your pocket.”
“I don’t have plans for the future, but I’m not too worried about it—things seem to always work out,” Coleman says, an idea that is most akin to a life philosophy if he has one. “It’s liberating, waking up in the morning and not having a schedule or anyplace you need to be, and being able to go anyplace you want. Something I’ve realized from all the travel I’ve done in the past few years is that money isn’t that important and there’s so many things you can do without [needing] a lot of money, which is an idea I think a lot of people don’t realize.”
See more of Joe Nigel Coleman’s work at www.joenigelcoleman.com
“WHEN YOU TAKE A PHOTO, THE OBJECT BECOMES NOT WHAT YOU SEE, BUT HOW YOU SEE IT.”
Living for the moments when he can travel, Coleman works in payroll at the University of Newcastle and saves up money for his various trips around the world. “I have an office cubicle and do data entry, but that’s completely not a career that I want to be pursuing or anything, it’s just great for me to make money and to do what I want to do, which is traveling. At this stage in my life, I’m enjoying being completely free to do whatever I want, you know, being selfish and just doing what I
TINY REALITIES Photography by Johan Thörnqvist words by Kelsey Frazier Snapixel is a magazine about photography, this we know. But what happens when photography interacts with other art forms? Johan Thörnqvist is an artist who makes his home at the intersection of photography and illustration. Taking snap-shots of our world and illustrating over them Thörnqvist creates tiny, intricate, imaginary realms that draw attention to commonly overlooked aspects of our world and push us to embrace them from new perspectives. Thörnqvist began his venture into mixed media about a year and a half ago after purchasing his first Wacom pen tablet, a purchase motivated by his desire to learn to draw. What would result would become the innovative combination of illustration and photography that he’s now known for. “The style kind of happened by accident. I was using a photograph as a reference and discovered that I liked the picture better when I left the photo”. Using stock photography as the base for many of his earlier works Thörnqvist brings new life to what is sometimes regarded as the dull side of the photography world. Photographs of simple everyday objects such as lampposts, fire hydrants and empty fields become home to bustling cities and foreign creatures. The combination of real life photography and illustration fuses the imaginary with the tangible, the dream with reality.
How does one dream up with these tiny alternative worlds? Thörnqvist says he gains a lot of inspiration from movies, comics and games. “I think my drawings are inspired by comics, and the color and tone come from movies like Les triplettes de Belleville, and games like Samorost and Machinarium”. Working as a web-creative, illustrating gives Thörnqvist an outlet to exercise his creativity beyond the restrictions of clients and briefs. Needless to say, a healthy dose of day- dreaming is involved in fabricating these tiny realities. “I usually start out with an idea of what I am going to do, then I look for a photograph (or take my own). If I can’t find what I’m looking for I usually put something together in Photoshop. Then I draw and after that comes a lot of texturework and color correction (my psds can have up to 70 layers).” The end result? A bustling cityscape atop a rusty old fire hydrant, a bus full of fantasy creatures making its way through vast mustard
fields, a complex condo atop a lamppost and many more. Tiny realities of immense detail emerge from his mind and find realization in illustration. Where Thörnqvist and his imagination are concerned, the possibilities are endless. Beyond infusing the ordinary with new possibility Thörnqvist’s use of photography, illustration and Photoshop serve as a testament to the innovative potential available to artists working in today’s age of technology. No longer is art reliant on one medium or tool, rather the combination of multiple leads to new realms of possibility. Reality isn’t even a necessary element for art any longer, as previously mentioned the potential to dream up an entire world via Photoshop breaks artists further from the ties of convention. While illustrating over photography might not necessarily be a new idea, today’s technological innovations have transformed the means by which artists are capable of fusing the
two worlds together. Drawing tablets, Photoshop, imagination and a dash of talent are all tools that allow the illustrated world to seamlessly meld into the real. It’s as if the illustrated worlds enter into our own, the two coming together in a fashion that enlivens the imagination beyond what is to what could be. When asked what he hopes his work brings to viewers Thörnqvist emphasized a new perspective and encourages us to look upon the ordinary with imagination. Perhaps the next time you notice the same old lamppost you pass by every day or the fire hydrant on your block, you’ll take pause in imagining up your own miniature world; transforming the reality of what is into the potential of what could be.
See more of Thörnqvist’s work at www. http://www.snarlik.se/
*faeries and luminaries
*photography by Sofia Ajram *words by Kelsey Frazier
ou wake up with a start. Sitting straight up you scan the room, breathing deeply. A light sweat glistens on your brow. Everything is just as you remember it—reality is still there, just as you left it the previous night before drifting off to sleep. You are secure in your reality and yet you cannot shake the feeling of your dream. Were you not just in another world, similar to your reality and yet different altogether? It’s almost as if your dreams allow you to live in two separate worlds and yet, how is this possible? We’re all familiar with this feeling, an observation that has made the interplay between dream life and reality a realm of intrigue for centuries. The ability of dreams to affect our lives has been hypothesized, torn down, disregarded and nullified in the modern age and yet one can’t deny the dream’s ability to reflect and alter realities, often times leaving an impression on the mind long after the dream has ended. For photographer Sofia Ajram the dream world is not one void of validity, rather it’s a world that unfolds before us and invites us to explore the unknown. “They (her photographs) are direct interpretations of my dream world. It's a difficult world - or rather, universe, to explain. It all smells the same and feels the same, and I can tell when I'm in it because it's like living a parallel life.” We experience our dreams, become fascinated by them and in Ajram’s case, draw inspiration from them. We cannot fully understand or pin down our dream worlds into digestible rules and systems (and many people have tried, Freud comes to mind), but this is precisely what grants dreams the ability to throw open the door to fascination and inspiration allowing them to take hold and flourish. Born in Montreal, Sofia Ajram lived many of her younger years in Aurora, a small town in Ontario, Canada before returning to Montreal later in life. She describes Aurora as a small town, “To give you an idea of how small, the address number of the house I lived in was "1". We had acres of land and forest, and I spent most of my time either drawing or creating worlds
within myself and the spaces I inhabited. I do remember taking painting classes when I was very young - my father nearly dragged me there, as well as to synchronized swimming. I also played violin, piano and the clarinet. I dabbled a lot in different activities, which shaped the person I am today, although I don't take part in any of these activities anymore.” Her ability to create and inhabit worlds seems to have carried over into her present day life through her photography. Ajram’s images portray worlds foreign to us and yet comprised of familiar elements. She cites her dreams as the main source of inspiration for her work, “My dreams hugely influence my life, and my work. I have yet to meet another person who is as impacted by their dreamworld as I am, although dreams are a very personal subject, which people are ashamed or afraid to share, for they feel they are unimportant, despite how amazing their content might be. I remember my dreams so thoroughly, each of my senses has a memory of the events.” As a result many of her photographs are inspired by and draw from her experiences
They (her photographs) are direct interpretations of my dream world. It's a difficult world or rather, universe, to explain. It all smells the same and feels the same, and I can tell when I'm in it because it's like living a parallel life
within her dreams. And just as we are pulled into our dreams, Sofia’s work draws us into the realities she creates and envelopes us in fascination. Sofia Ajram got her start with photography at the age of 13. Over time she found herself experimenting with different types of cameras gifted to her from family members and in 2007 she was hired by Truth Explosion Magazine to photograph concerts at local venues. After studying graphic design through Quebec’s mandatory CEGEP system now studies English and Cultural Studies at McGill University, from which she intends to graduate in 2013. Today photography remains one of her passions, along with exploring forests, crafting in visual diaries, and a love of mythology and fairy tales. What’s more, all of these passions seem to influence and link up within her photography. Shooting with a Canon AE-Program, Nikon D80 and an SX-70 Sofia’s process emphasizes variety and spontaneity—characteristics that are mirrored in her strong aversion to stagnancy. “Sometimes I do come up with photo 'ideas' before shooting, but none of my shots are exactly planned in advanced. They are all just based on themes or ideas or, more specifically and frequently, of nightmares and dreams of mine.” One thing she really emphasizes is taking each shot on an individual basis. She insists that he work not be looked at as a series but rather an ever-evolving collection of individual shots, “Each is unique, and I like to keep it that way. I never want my work to be stagnant and stackable into generic categories like 'witchcraft' or 'fashion'.” There are a number of factors that influence the overall feel and look of Sofia Ajram’s photos. To begin with, the subjects in her photographs are mainly female. “I love the female body, and women themselves. I think women are incredibly beautiful and elegant and delicate, and just so delightful. I like to portray power in women, vulnerability in women, curiosity in women. I think women are still so under appreciated in a patriarchal society, and women are strong and wonderful in so many ways.” This interest leads Sofia to photograph mainly herself and her close friends, allowing for a great level of intimacy which comes through in the photographs. Another important aspect of her photography is the environment in which the photos are taken. Forests, fields and bedrooms are settings that appear time and time again. “I crave a natural environment, the one I see in my dreams, of vines and mist and fairy dust.” It’s also impossible to ignore the vivid colors and celestial elements at play Sofia’s photos. They seem to suggest a certain type of editing, but not in the form you might expect. When asked to elaborate on her editing process she provided the following description, “I take the photos
and bring them to a local developer for 1-hour photo. When I receive them, I keep them unopened and chant a spell out of the Book of Shadows and keep the photos with a charm and wisp of rosemary under my pillow for one night. Fairies come from the cosmos and transform the photographs. I've only seen them once, they're tiny and smell of dew”. This magical element she claims inherent to her process manifests itself in the photographs themselves. Themes of paganism, ritual, and the cosmos are present in many of her photos and tie in once again to her curiosity about the unknown. “They're not really things I practice, contrary to popular belief. It's just a part of what I find interesting, as it's very mysterious and far from what we known as tangible and understandable. I enjoy myths and what Marie Zucker likes to call 'brutal fairy-tales'. Reading or experiencing these things brings one back to childhood where things can at once be terrifying and intriguing.” These themes tie into the overall fascination with the unknown, an experience that manifests itself in the dream. Sofia’s photos bring these experiences, which would otherwise remain in the
mind, into reality. All this becomes even more striking when one learns just how young Sofia is, just having turned twenty-one this month. With an ever-growing flickr account, a recent write up in Dazed Digital, and a few of her photos circulating on the popular blogging website Tumblr, Sofia’s photography continues to gain acclaim. She intends to expand her talents beyond photography, with goals to create her own Etsy and YouTube accounts as well as her own website by the end of this year. No doubt her photography will continue to be a part of these new developments. Photography is a mode of explorations, bringing otherwise intangible universes into being. While she resists any singular interpretations of her work she did say this much “I hope it inspires others to create something of their own, or to explore their own dreamscapes”. See more of Sofia’s work at http://www.flickr.com/photos/miumachi/
â€œI take the photos and bring them to a local developer for 1-hour photo. When I receive them, I keep them unopened and chant a spell out of the Book of Shadows and keep the photos with a charm and wisp of rosemary under my pillow for one night. Fairies come from the cosmos and transform the photographs. I've only seen them once, they're tiny and smell of dewâ€?
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
MOPLA, LUCIE, AND EDITION ONE HUNDRED THE GRACIOUS AND ACCOMPLISHED EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF LUCIE AND CO-FOUNDER OF MOPLA, GIVES US A LITTLE OF HER INSPIRATION
What inspired you to get into photography in the first place? My beautiful mother gave me a camera in middle school high school is when I connected to the darkroom experience, and found a real peace in the process of developing film and pictures. I fell deeply in love with the process, and eventually built a tiny little darkroom in my parents’ laundry room where I made little 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 black and white pictures on Ilford RC Paper. It makes me sad to think that this process is now considered “alternative” but I also feel very fortunate to have had that experience to compare it to now in the realm of the digital darkroom. How did you move into your main position now – as an advocate for photographers? In my professional life, I’ve been drawn to advocacy work. I’ve chosen to spend my time working with and for nonprofits. When the opportunity arose to volunteer at the Lucie Awards in 2003, I jumped. And, when the opportunity arose to blend my advocacy work with Photography, well, that was a no-brainer for me. As a result of my tenure at the Awards, and with the support, guidance and trust of the Founder, Hossein Farmani, we’ve been able to grow the umbrella organization of the Lucie Awards, The Lucie Foundation to incorporate programs that support and mentor photographers. And, I couldn’t be happier being of service and support to our master image-makers and our future image-makers. Tell us a little bit about how you came up with MOPLA, how did LA and the art scene there inspire you to create this event? MOPLA is our love letter to photography on the West Coast. We have the Lucie Awards on the East Coast every year, and our organization is based in Los Angeles. LA, and it’s population of photographers deserves the same respect and love. MOPLA is our way of bringing together the massive photography community of LA together through exhibitions, events, discussions and projections. Our programming is for everyone, the hobbyist and enthusiast, the student and the professional. And, the LA art and photography scene is growing exponentially. The art world is finally recognizing the importance and vitality, as evidenced by the number of art fairs that have been emerging here, and will descend upon here in 2011. It’s an exciting time to be in Los Angeles. New York, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, Virginia have incredible festivals and photo offerings, it’s LA’s turn. It’s a great time to organize around the idea of photography. What are you most looking forward to for this year’s MOPLA? ALL OF IT!!! SNAPSHOP! is our workshop program for atrisk youth in Los Angeles and we’ve expanded it from a one day program to a four-day program that culminates in the exhibition of the students work. That’s exciting not just for the kids, but for me, for the coordinators and advisors. We are supporting the creative possibilities of these children who
may not otherwise have access, and we’re hoping to build our future image-makers in the process. How did you come up with this year’s theme “Adaptations and Reverberations,” and what does that mean to you? Photography is adapting to technology quickly, as is music because of the endless technological, unforeseen possibilities. Examining the still image, from process, creation and experience of it is entirely up to us, and our adaptability. What we do now with photography will reverberate. We have to make space for all of it, analog and digital. This year’s theme attempts to get the photo community thinking about our creative choices, and how that will affect and “reverberate” for the “now” and the “future’’ of photography. Since the theme of this year’s MOPLA incorporates music with photography – what are your favorite musicians right now? I’m all over the place. I’m enjoying The Ting Tings, Muse, Yusef Lateef, Quantic, Florence and the Machine, Raphael Saadiq (Bay Area), Aloe Blacc...the list is endless. With LUCIE and MOPLA on your plate, do you still find time to shoot your own projects? If you do have time, what are you working on, or if you don’t, what would you like to be working on? I’m always snapping away. I’ve been nurturing a personal photo project entitled The Flip Book. The term “Flip” can be a little controversial in the Filipino Community, and I’ve been shooting portraits of my community of movers and shakers, and everyone in between, since 2002. I’m hoping to publish these portraits in 2012. It’s a celebration of my culture as a Filipino-American, and those individuals whom I’ve been able to shoot. I’d love to have more time to work on that but there’s enough good stuff to share so look out for that in 2012. I’d love to be making portraits of musicians I respect and admire here locally. That’d be dreamy. I’m also nurturing a new project (launched June 2010) called Edition One Hundred. It’s my chance to support artists and photographers, and their work, all the while benefitting a charity of their choice by selling limited edition prints, in you guessed it, 100-print runs. And, with rare exceptions, they are priced at an accessible price of $100.00. The artists donate 10% of the print sale to a charity of their choice. I curate themed online exhibitions, co-curate, or invite guest curators to put together online exhibitions. I’m loving it. One of the best offerings about technology is being able to reach a wide audience in the click of a single button. This project allows me to continue my advocacy work, work with artists that I admire, and want to collect, and I am having fun. editiononehundred.com Check out http://mopla.org, http://www.luciefoundation. org/ and http://editiononehundred.com/ to experience all of Cat’s projects!
Find faeries, festvals and wonderlands in our newest issue, themed dream/fantasy! Plus, check out illustrations, interviews, music, tech, e...