BILL pHeLPs anTON KHLivnyY STAnIsLAV SOLNtSEv TeJaL paTNI
T H E L I G H T I S S U E
PuBlisher Welcome to the second issue of WINk. In the Light Issue, WINk continues its mission to bring you images and stories to stimulate and inspire. Illuminating the successful lives of WIN-Talent is confirmation for emerging and established creative souls everywhere that there is indeed a huge light at the end of the tunnel. Much needed positive hope, I say. Let there be light; it enables growth and guides us, much like WIN-Initiative’s objectives.
I am delighted to enlighten WINk readers by highlighting well known artists like Bill Phelps from Brooklyn, New York and the incredibly versatile Tejal Patni who jet sets between India and Dubai. WINk also puts a much-deserved spotlight on an awardwinning newcomer, the young Antòn Khlivnyy. (He’s in Ireland via Ukraine and Argentina.) These photographers graciously shed light on their work and openly share their world experiences. I’ve met them all and recognize their enthusiasm by that special spark of light in their eyes. Special thanks to my longtime friend Mark Von Ulrich (designthing.com) for designing WINk’s second issue. His aesthetic, time and contributions are deeply appreciated. Stay illuminated and continue to fill your life with light. Thank you. Hans Neleman
WIN-INITIATIVE FOUNDER HANS NELEMAN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF CHARLIE FISH DIRECTOR OF CREATIVE SERVICES JAY CORBETT ART DIRECTOR MARK VON ULRICH CREATIVE
PRODUCTION CHRISSY REILLY/PERCY ALBAN CONTRIBUTING WRITER POLINA MYAGKOV
CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS/PHOTOGRAPHERS BILL PHELPS ANTON KHLIVNYY STANISLAV SOLNTSEV TEJAL PATNI BRYCE EBEL
WINK MAGAZINE C/O WIN-INITIATIVE 77 MERCER STREET NEW YORK, NY 10012 212.274.1000 WINKMAG@ WIN-INITIATIVE.COM WWW.WINK-BLOG.COM WWW.TWITTER.COM/WINKMAG
It’s not uncommon to hear religiously based notions of “coming into the light.” In this realm, light is a heavenly body, symbolic of divine deities and benevolence. Its role as a divine force can be seen in just about every major religion. Conversely, shadows often signify dark and devilish terrains, both figuratively and literally. To a photographer, however, light is more often simply a component. Shadows, and what lies within them, are just as important to shooters as lighting. And not nearly as ominous.
So what would you make of a photography collective who operate in total darkness? What would the religions of the world attribute to their works, which are dark and thus seemingly eerie? The Seeing With Photography Collective is just one of the featured artists in our second issue that uses light in a unique way. Meanwhile, there’s a South Africa-based shooter who maximizes his closeness to the sun as the source of light. All the photographers featured in this issue know their “lighting 101” but still opt to break, bend or reinterpret the rules. Witness their form of enlightenment, so to speak. Let there be light. But let there also be contrast and shadow. Charlie Fish
BiLL PHel anDHiS SUspende WORLD
Bill Phelps is undeniably influenced by turn-of-the-century aesthetics. It’s evident in his everyday life, from the vintage motorcycles he collects to his speakeasy-inspired restaurant and, not least of all, his photography. His style, harkening back to a long-forgotten era, has landed the photographer campaigns with clients like Reebok, Neiman Marcus and Harley Davidson. Cursory glances at his work classify Phelps’ style as vintage, yet the photographer himself never utters the word. He chooses, instead, to speak of common themes and characters. Vintage or not, his photographs are always stunning, seemingly simple and direct. They act as a portal to another world, where time and modernization come to an obedient standstill in order to be viewed by present day passersby. Vintage, you say? No, this is Bill Phelps’ suspended world, where art, science, craftsmanship and his characters coalesce on an 8 x 10 print.
To better understand Phelps’ fascination with last century’s early days, it helps to know his influences. Citing Da Vinci as a childhood hero, Phelps says he has always been attracted to the science of art. He grew up painting and drawing, no doubt inspired by his mother, an art teacher. Soon he had discovered the photograph and fell in love with—what else—the scientific processes that rendered the image, as well as the innovative approaches to the art form. “I really love the experimental scientific angle, whether it be photograms that Man Ray did or whether it be the distorted reflected nude figure work that [André] Kertész did,” he says. Listing Alfred Stieglitz and Josef Sudek among his other early inspirations, it was another photographer that was influential in his decision to work in large format. “August Sander was definitely an inspiration to start shooting with an 8 x 10 view camera,” he says. In fact, his first 8 x 10 came via a commercial fashion job he took in 1991 to make ends meet. “They had a handful of 8 x 10 cameras that had just fallen into disrepair,” he says, “and they were sitting in these cabinets, the lenses laying around all dirty and no covers on them. So I took one home and I fixed it.”
Phelps’ affinity for (and appreciation of) craftsmanship extends well beyond the camera: “I’ve been building motorcycles for 25 years and I’ve been building my own spaces to suit myself, whether they be my apartment or my studio space or whatever. I’ve worked with my hands my whole life.” This “hands-on” approach seems outmoded now, given we live in an age where convenience and immediacy reign and craftsmanship is seen more as an art form rather than a necessary skill. But there was a time when one worked tirelessly with his or her hands to create their domain and art. And this exact era, long before the mass production of the 50s kicked in, is precisely the era Phelps is most enamored with. “There was something really alive at that time; so much of what was being built was really crafted. I really appreciate craftsmanship and bold investigation of personal tools and personal craft,” he explains, before adding, “The 30s, the 20s, the teens; there’s something very seductive about what was there.” His photographs offer further proof of his anachronism. From the sets to the lighting, from the characters to the print itself, his work bears a discernible, early-century feel, down to their recognizable sepia tone. When an assistant ran a Polaroid 8 x 10 color negative onto a black and white positive some 17 years ago, the resulting image turned sepia in color. “It happened by accident,” Phelps says about the tone of that first picture, before adding, “It was just one moment and I got addicted to that magical quality of Polaroid film itself.” Indeed, he continued to use the film for the next two decades. More than the tone of his pictures, what really unites Phelps’ work is the focus his 8 x 10 view camera awarded. “It has an ethereal quality to it without it being too affected with any other physical affects,” he says. “Its just sort of a suspended world is the best way I can put it. I really liked that because it felt kind of fantastical but it still felt real, like you could approach it or you could walk into it,” he adds. It’s this theme of an approachable, interactive suspended world that Phelps insists is a unifying theme among his images, more so than the dreaded “V” word. Of course, this recurring motif is harder to come by with today’s crop of digital cameras. “As much as I admire the technology,” Phelps says of his 35mm Canon Digital, “I’m not really romanced by it. I’m really not.” The question is should he be? Replicating sepia tone is now as easy as pressing a button, no longer subject to the cross processing he stumbled upon by chance. With Polaroid now defunct, at least in terms of the 8 x 10 film, what choice does Phelps have but to embrace the current, right? True to form, Phelps offers, “I might start making film myself.”
Bill on BikEs: “The motorcycle is a very heroic character in itself. The motorcycle was first born around the turn of the century. In the beginning they were really more or less motorized bicycles. By the time the 30s had come around, some of these bikes had become very elegant and very powerful and very modern in their design and I find them to be very artful and very much alive as creatures. I have seven now; the queen of the hive is a 1952 Vincent, it’s an English bike. I’ve been riding motorcycles for 25 years. I don’t build them as a profession but I’ve been very physically, viscerally connected to the workings of motorcycles for 25 years. Part of the love affair is riding them, breaking them, fixing them and then riding them again. The building of motorcycles (and the meditation on the building) and the workings of motorcycles has been a very personal and satisfying meditation.”
The turn-of-the-century enthusiast brings cafes from the early 1900s back to life.
MotO ReStauraNt Built entirely by his own hands (with the help of his business partner and a small handful of friends), Moto stands as a living instillation. “Moto is in a triangular, mini-flatiron shaped building in Brooklyn on a corner where the train runs right over the top of it and it’s like an Edward Hopper piece in motion,” says Phelps of his restaurant, which took a year and a half to construct. Inspired by Parisian cafes, where performances and cultural ideas were exchanged, Phelps set out to convert a former checkcashing store into the bustling bistro it is today. Live music is a nightly occasion, with bands performing a variety of music, from tango to Edith Piaf-inspired tunes, all without amps or mics. “It could be Vienna in 1900, it could be Brooklyn in 1935, it could be Prague, it could be Paris, it could be Berlin, it could be Istanbul,” says Phelps about the feel of the restaurant before adding, “It’s that suspended space.” Moto 394 Broadway Brooklyn, NY 718.599.6895 www.circa1938.com
10 Best 10, the first joint photo competition hosted by WIN-Initiative and Resource
Magazine, saw nearly 10,000 images submitted by participants from over 60 countries,
with a total of 900 photographers sending in their best work. Our esteemed panel of
BEST judges included Pulitzer Prize-winning photo editor Stella Kramer, Time Out New York
photo editor Roberto De Luna, graphic designer David Carson, Cat Jimenez from the
Lucie Foundation, and even indie artist Dan Deacon. Ten photographers were chosen and
Carey Kirkella was then selected to win the Kick Award, created by WIN-Initiative and
Resource Magazine to “kick start” an emerging photographer’s career into overdrive.
WINk chatted with Kirkella, whose works feature elements we’ve dubbed Northeastern
Americana, to congratulate her and get the scoop on how she’ll use the Kick Award.
Congratulations, first and foremost, on winning the Kick Award! Thank you. I’m really excited about it! I hear you happen to know a few other winners? My boyfriend, Pete Riesett, was also selected. We were pretty shocked that we both got it. Gabriela Herman is a friend and I also know Sarah Small. Are you guys all hanging out at the same places? How do you all know one another? I think just from going to a lot of the same gallery openings with different emerging photographers. We’re all interconnected. Any thoughts, then, on how photography is shaping up for the future? There’s always going to be interesting, creative emerging photographers. People are always bringing it to new levels. I think photography always goes through different phases, too. But in the end, the best photography and the best photographers that come out of the emerging phase are the ones that stay true to what they love to photograph.
Talk about your decision to submit these particular images. I tried to submit images that best represent my work. I don’t think I intended to mainly submit images of kids but it just sort of worked out that way. The thing I’m most interested in is authenticity. I like to tune in to a kind of energy in the people I’m photographing. It’s almost like a restless energy, under the surface. And I like when there’s a freshness to the feeling of an image. And of course I love color. What’s the set up like for pictures of this nature? How do you like to shoot? I like to use a minimal amount of equipment because I like to be really mobile. I prefer using available light either by itself or with a reflector or a small flash. Most of the images submitted were photographed with a Mamiya 7 II, a medium format film camera. And I photographed these particular images with daylight alone, or just a small, oncamera flash as a fill or bounced off the ceiling.
10 What stage are you in your career? I'm on an emerging level but I’ve also been photographing for a long time. I worked as a photo editor at the Wall Street Journal for the “Weekend” section. I left my position to go freelance right before September 11th. It’s been a bumpy road and sometimes people in my family would say, “Maybe you should try doing something else.” But I've been committed to being a photographer since I was twelve years old, and this is what I want to do. This is what I love and I’m going to make it happen.
How does the Kick Award benefit your career? I'm at a stage in my career where I'm excited to push through to another level and do more exciting commercial assignments. I'm looking forward to taking advantage of this opportunity to meet more people in the industry and to get my work out there more. I think the Kick Award comes to me at the best possible time in my career.
How do you view yourself, as a photographer? I’m always aware of, and I like to think I'm sensitive to, how people feel. I want to make sure I don't put too much emphasis on what I might be thinking about someone I’m photographing. I view myself as very empathetic. Talk about your inspirations. Authenticity, again, and connecting with people on an unspoken level.
Studying photography at Pratt, my first big influences were Robert Frank and Diane Arbus. And before that, my high school art teacher. She was really eccentric and was her own person and always told me to never settle. I think she really instilled that in me. American culture has always influenced my work. I'm currently inspired by and interested in doing work that contributes to positive change in some way.
Carey Kirkella on Carey Kirkella: There's a feeling of freedom in my work, and a light energetic quality to it. The images are of honest, real moments, but there's sort of a hyperrealism aspect about them too. I have a friend who once described my work as "the stuff dreams are made of.” On some unspoken level, a connection is made with the people I photograph and I think that connection comes through in my best work. I'm drawn to photographing the quiet strength I see in people.
As SeEn in the MoVies. Slick, glossy and highly editorial, Tejal Patni’s body of work is—pun intended—picture perfect. In fact, many of his images reSemble stills from a hyper-stylized film. That’s no coincidencE. The Dubai-based photographer, when asked about his influences, cites the biggest names in the industry: Steven Meisel, Steven Klein and Helmut Newton (not to mention our close frieNd Hans Neleman). But when discussing his lighting INFLUENCES, it becomes CLEaR that Patni aims high and delivers higher.
“This is probably quite a cliché explanation of it but, in reality, I use feature films as my references,” he says. “ I don’t really try and imitate that sort of light…but when I shoot fashion, especially, I try and set the mood of a particular film that I’ve seen,” he explains. That’s not to say that he builds his sets accordingly, nor does he purposefully emulate his favorite films. For Patni, this reference is more about his strong affinity for Western films as well as his own desire to become a film director. Citing his photographic memory, Patni asserts that it’s more a feeling he’s trying to evoke rather than a duplicate image. As he points out, “In the end the results might be totally different, but that is certainly the ground I start my lighting from.”
photography, so I’m sort of midway,” he explains. “I’m not an active film director but whenever I do get the opportunity, I do try and direct films.”
For Patni, the road from art student to photographer to occasional filmmaker began with admiring his father, a former illustrator-turnedphotographer. At first finding his father’s profession tedious and boring, Patni later relocated from Dubai, UAE to Mumbai, India to attend the Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Arts, but not before taking his father’s Nikon. The school, itself over 150-years old, is recognized as one of the leading art colleges in India. Its early alums went on to become the fathers of Indian advertising. In fact, more than 50% of all of India’s top advertising talent are J.J. alums. “My first big break [came when] I got to Patni isn’t merely a fan of work with Grey, which was films; he’s a devout then the most creative enthusiast. “The Cohen agency in Bombay,” says brothers, they tend to use a Patni of his college days. particular Director of Photography, Roger Dickens. “I had the privilege to work with the two most creative His films—whatever he’s done for the Cohen brothers guys in India, and that was in my third year of college. or for anyone else—are fabulous and they inspire me Nobody had done that while in college,” he adds. At a a lot,” he says. “If you talk relatively early age, Patni about Wong Kar-wai films, had secured his position as where Christopher Doyle a mainstream, professional shoots them, his work is photographer in India. awesome,” he adds, before listing Hitchcock and David Fincher as other inspirations. His two most influential films, he says, are Fargo and Seven. Patni, who has shot TV commercials and a wellreceived short film, has even attended film school in London. “I find it difficult to give 100% to film and
Soon after, the fashion world came calling, and Patni has been flying between Dubai and India since, putting his gorgeous, polished style to use on innumerous editorials. Along the way, campaign ads for Harvey Nichols, Levi’s, Crest, Land Rover and even Dunkin Donuts have all benefitted from Patni’s meticulous shots. But don’t take my word for it. Lürzer’s Archive recently named the Dubaibased shooter one of their 200 best advertising photographers, having featured four of his campaigns in their esteemed publications. What makes Patni an in-demand photographer is his ability to fuse his artful eye with the ever-changing advertising and branding principles of the day. “Because I went to an art/advertising school,” he says, “to understand the advertising language or to understand what they’re trying to communicate” comes easier to Patni, separating him from the pack of photographers who “don’t enjoy doing advertising and sometimes fail at it only because they don’t see the other side.” Indeed, Patni’s vision and ability to blend art, technique and commerce is undoubtedly what has propelled the photographer to great heights.
explaining, “If I’m in Dubai, because it’s an Islamic country, there’s only so much you can do in terms of fashion or advertising.” Patni explains that the rules and regulations put in place to honor the Islam religion are not often broken. But while some of his (commercial) work is then restricted, it doesn’t mean the creative shooter gives up. “I do my personal work, or I’ll travel and shoot somewhere else. That’s how I find my happiness in what I do,” he says.
did get 10 positive replies, but being in Dubai and travelling everywhere to do a job, it’s difficult for people to understand.” He would have to relocate (an idea he isn’t against), but Patni maintains he still has goals to accomplish, not least of which are major exhibits in both UAE and India.
“After [Mumbai], the city that has given me too much is Dubai,” he says of his reasons to give back to the city that has helped shape him. “I thank the city for it and I thank the people for it. Perhaps because of these So, therefore, I really want to same limitations, Patni finds contribute. Not in terms of that he prefers fashion work making a difference but in over advertising, saying, terms of at least being a “Unlike an advertising shoot, good soldier, which means where many people are doing a book that is involved and at times the published with Dubai client calls the shots, I enjoy artists—stylists, makeup fashion photography more artists, etc…” From there, only because there is no who knows? It’s not a layout or a preconceived stretch to envision Patni notion to what the campaign making his own Vertigo or or editorial should look like. No Country For Old Men. Therefore, it’s more of a He certainly has the skill and open brief; it’s more to do commercial savvy for it. with story telling, current trends or current looks.” In other words, no one’s telling the big boss what he can and can’t shoot.
With his campaign work for international brands, portraits of Bollywood elite and countless fashion editorials under his belt, Patni could easily find work Having been lauded and stateside or in Europe. And applauded for some time in it isn’t for lack of trying that Dubai, it’s interesting to note he hasn’t yet taken over the how, if at all, the Islamic West. “To be honest,” he city’s theocracy affects the says of his global ambitions, photographer’s work. “I am “I have been trying forever; very much influenced by the one day I decided to write to West,” he says, before 80 reps across the world. I
Rudyard KipliNG AnD the J.J. SchoOL of ArTS
While universities and schools around the world separate fine art photography from the commercial, the Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Arts in Mumbai, India doesn’t. That’s because during the Second World War (when the school was run by the British Bombay government), the Sir J.J. School of Arts—as it was then called—faced imminent closure when the government decided that an art school was an expenditure the country could do without. In order to remain economically viable, the school decided to open its Commercial Art Section to train its students on utilizing the arts for commercial and publicity purposes. (Students produced propaganda and pro-war brochures as part of their curriculum, for example.) CAS later became the Institute of Applied Arts and its alumni went on to become the founding fathers of Indian advertising. In fact, J.J. alums (Tejal Patni among them) account for over half of the leading Indian creatives in the advertising industry. Outside of India the school is known for being the birthplace of Rudyard Kipling, who was born in his father’s wooden bungalow that rested, nestled, among the verdant fields. His father, John Lockwood Kipling, was first a professor and later became the school’s first dean. It was this landscape and his travels around his birth country that influenced Kipling to write his most famous works, including The Jungle Book and Kim. Later proclaimed a prophet of British Imperialism and branded a racist because of statements in his novels favoring European intervention, Indians have a difficult time commemorating the Nobel Prize-winning author. Neither statues of the author nor honoring plaques exist in India, other than a small sign at the bungalow indicating Kipling’s birthplace. Fans and history buffs alike have been making the trek to the campus for decades to see the birthplace of the celebrated author. Recently, measures were passed in India to turn the dilapidated, 150-year-old bungalow into a refurbished museum to honor the author and his Indiainspired works.
Roberto De Luna is a Photo Editor for Time Out New York. Having spent 18 years in the photo industry, he’s had vast experience in various publications. He talks about how much the industry has changed from when he first began working and how “there were so many more photographers that weren’t represented by agencies and, of course, fewer photographers altogether.” From that pool, “a lot of people would do their own estimates, do their own books, do their own printing” so that when he first began working at 17, he was “doing everything from estimates to color printing the photographer’s work to cleaning their toilets.” These days, it’s difficult for a photographer to find any creative ventures that will pay his bills. Fewer and fewer big names in the industry are willing to hire new talent and opt for the older, safer photographer who has worked for them in the past; even that pool of “safe” photographers is thinning out. As the desperation for work grows, photographers are progressively more willing to shelf their own personal style and follow the latest photographic trends that appear to be getting paid. Considering our readership, WINk sat down with two important names in contemporary photography in an attempt to gauge some perspective on what is currently being sought out in the industry, how drastically it has changed over the last fifteen years, and some advice for photography beginners.
He discusses New York and how rapidly the industry has grown. Fifteen years ago, he claims, there were roughly 1,000 photographers living in New York. Out of that thousand, there were 10 shooting the top 100 fashion ads. Now there are 10,000 photographers in New York, all with portfolios and agents, all vying for work. The problem is those same 10 photographers are still shooting the top 100 fashion ads, leaving very little growth space for all the new talent: “the big names are looking for something reliable, established.”
Despite this elitism when it comes to the big names in the industry, De Luna comments on how much more “democratic” it has become: “Even 20 years ago, photography was an exclusively white-male pursuit only because the equipment was so inaccessible, so expensive, so unattainable and so difficult to operate. Only rich, white men of breeding had access to it. And that could be said for the first 100 years of photography. Clearly there are exceptions, but predominantly that’s what it was.” With the boom in online publishing sites such as Flickr, and the accessibility of inexpensive equipment, photographers now have immediate, affordable means to create and showcase their work. The result has been fantastic, according to him: “very post-modern, very ethnic, very local.”
With this “democratization,” we couldn’t help but wonder about stock photography and what potential role it will play in the future of the photo industry. We chatted with Derek Peck, Editor-in-chief of PLANET magazine to discuss. According to Peck, globalization—the coming together of varying cultures and ideas through widespread travel and the information age—has been steadily becoming the norm over the last five to eight years. He recognized this early on and devoted his magazine to the concept. “It’s not just a business development, it’s going to be a cultural development.” Thus, “presenting a broad range of ideas and different cultures” is critical and essential.
When asked to describe what his magazine looks for in terms of photography, Peck gave us a few particulars: “I don’t like overly manufactured pictures. I look for stuff that’s not heavily Photoshopped. I like photographers that create an image that is realistic, authentic.” When asked for advice in the style development, Peck says, “it’s really important for young writers, young photographers, young anything to not get stuck in that style that they’re enamored with at the moment.” He adds, “Someone who’s starting out has a tendency to imitate.” And while he recommends imitation as a starting point, because mastering an imitation “proves that you can achieve a style that you really like,” it is from there that “the game really begins.” Once you’ve mastered emulating a style you like, just how do you make it your own? Roberto De Luna www.robertodeluna.com Derek Peck www.planet-mag.com
SOuth R SUn AF ICaN
Many of Stanislav (Stas) Solntsev’s photographs are sun-bathed, idyllic snap fact, sunlight pervades most aspects of Solntsev’s day-to-day dealings. He’s the time of this interview, had just shot a national ad in South Africa for—of telling of all, Solntsev says he made the move from Moscow to Cape Town, S self-taught, Russian-born photographer “is influenced by the atmosphere of
pshots, reminiscent of long, adventurous summer days. In named his professional Web site after the source and, at all products—Sunlight Dishwashing soap. But, most South Africa to be closer to the sun. “My work,” says the the place I live in.”
Having lived in Austria, Vancouver, Croatia and Zimbabwe, Solntsev moved from Moscow to Cape Town, South Africa last November because, he says, he “was looking for some inspiration.” Describing the city as a “beautiful location, where the civilization stands on the edge of the ocean and mountains,” Solntsev says that Cape Town is a perfect site for his creative side. “I wake up at 6 [a.m.], do yoga and go surfing five days a week,” he says. This nature-driven, sunworshipping lifestyle manifests itself in his work through his subjects and sets, but is most prevalent in his lighting choices. “The less we try to imitate the natural light, the better,” he explains, adding, “The sun is the only true source of light and energy.” To accomplish his serene set of naturally beautiful, almost whitewashed photos, Solntsev indicates that he tries to “shoot on location as much as [he] can, with natural light.” “The secret,” he begins, “is simple: I shoot very quickly either at sunrise for two hours, or at sunset for two-to-three hours.” Of course, sun bouncers and diffusers are also used when the source of all light isn’t enough to arrive at the desired finished product. But the beaming sun and ocean surf isn’t all the city has to offer the photographer. From September to April (South Africa’s summer), the city is “flooded with international production. It has the best sites and locations, a variety of production agencies and model agencies,” says Solntsev. “But I must warn the competition is fierce,” he adds. “I have to compete with dudes like Bruce Weber, Antti Viitala, Florian Geiss and Jacques Weyers.”
As if the competition weren’t enough, the market itself isn’t what Solntsev is used to. “The fees are two-to-three times lower than in Moscow for the same type of job. Today,” he explains, “I did a shoot commissioned by Ogilvy in Durban (South Africa). It was a national ad, but it only paid $400 USD. In Moscow,” he contrasts, “it would be $1500 or $2000.” The lower pay scale would’ve otherwise been a problem, but South Africa’s cost of living is relatively low. And, as Solntsev insists, he’s not in the game solely for the money. When asked what advice he had for any up-and-coming photographers, he says, “Look, I gave up being an established, self-employed doctor not to do something just for money. My only advice,” he adds, “is to be passionate about what you do and not to compromise. Well, at least compromise as less as you can.”
So how exactly did a former doctor become one of South Africa’s go-to photographers, competing for work with the likes of Weber? It was a long journey through different continents and terrains, including a stint as a painter in Vancouver. “I did always want to do creative things, like design and architecture. Well, surgery in a way is very creative too,” he says. After nearly five years of full time practice, he developed an affinity towards photography when he purchased a Nikon F80 to document, of all things, his operations. Solntsev then taught himself the basics of shooting and ventured into extreme sports photography, an organic evolution from his mountain-climbing days in Whistler, British Columbia. From sports photography he moved on to stock and, in the period of two years, “ended up shooting fashion and celebrities in Moscow.” Recent stints include portraits of the stars from an upcoming Bollywood-Hollywood crossover film, Florida Road. And all this, he insists, he accomplished without ever being a photo assistant. In July, Solntsev put his outdoors-centric lifestyle, his affinity towards the sun and his knack for the camera to use once more, as he traveled “all over Zululand shooting for African Safari Company.” He may not, admittedly, have made a fortune, but it’s the journey that matters most to him, it seems. “All my mates drive fancy Porsches now,” he says of his long-gone doctor days. Still, it’s evident the rugged outdoorsman-turned-photographer doesn’t regret swapping his scalpel for a digital camera. Head to www.sunlightfoto.com to see more of Stas Solntsev’s work.
K ow BeFore you Go Cape TowN, South Africa LlAndudno BeAch Stas Solntsev says this “secluded, small beach” has a “mango tree path, good waves and the best light to shoot,” in addition to its “huge boulders.” Named after a seaside resort in Wales by the same name, this suburb is actually quite secluded, with little-to-no commercial activity. Llandudno is home, though, to some of the most expensive residential properties in all of South Africa, as well as pricey accommodations for rentals. Recently, the Llandudno Civic Association has laid out clear rules and regulations for international photo shoots that limit times and days when shoots can occur.
Cape TowN StudioMaven www.studiomaven.com Erdmann Contemporaries & thePHOTOGRAPHERSgalleryZA Sculpture, paintings, printmaking and photography all have a home here, with a new solo exhibition by local photographer Melanie Cleary commencing September 9th. www.photographersgalleryza.co.za Cape Town School of Photography www.ctsp.co.za
REPRESENTS THE PHOTOGRAPHERS OF
It’s a given that the photography world is in the process of evolving, racing towards a newer, revamped version of itself. The digital information age now allows more amateur work to, with a quick fix from editing software (which can even be downloaded illegally through programs like Limewire and Torrent), be seen as artwork when presented on social networking sites. Today’s photographer can be totally self-taught and garner enough attention on the Web just from the re-worked versions of their ubiquitous selfportraits. Antòn Khlivnyy is in some respects one such photographer. Having taught himself photography (and photo editing) four years ago, his body of work includes self-portraits, digitally altered to depict the subject ripping his face off, for example, or exposing his heart. And though similar photos are plentiful online, Khlivnyy’s eye and style is already helping him stand apart from the rest of the ever-growing pack of today’s self-taught photographers/digital manipulators. His work is rich in color and imagination, often incorporating elements of floating islands. In Antòn’s dreamscapes, earth and sky are interchangeable and interdependent. Recently, a panel of judges selected one of his photos as the winning image for the Make A Better Place contest initiated by Elena Gutmann. The picture, of a boy and a crow in a field, is laden with soaring emotion. It’s in his ability to convey emotion in his work that the young photographer/digital artist is steadily building an impressive portfolio and laying the groundwork for a promising career. His work is heavy in mood, admittedly driven by the angst and unrest that was prevalent in his adolescence. WINk talked to Antòn Khlivnyy to get to the root of his surrealistic dreamscapes. WINk: Exactly how old are you? Antòn: I just turned 24 in August. WINk: When did you start taking photographs? Antòn: Four years ago. Before that, I did oil paintings.
WINk: There are clear sentiments of loneliness, or at least that’s what I see. Is there truth in that? Antòn: Yes. And it all started with my paintings. I painted the things I felt, each emotion: sadness, anger. I transferred it all onto colors. And after painting I took up photography and continued to express myself with the montages I make. WINk: In your photos, you were the subject most of the time. Was it the same with your paintings? Antòn: In my paintings my emotions were colors; dark colors reflected solitude, lighter colors were moments of joy WINk: If you don’t mind, what was driving these sentiments of loneliness, anger and sadness? Antòn: It’s difficult to explain and describe. It was a depression, the likes of which many 18-year-olds endure. And those in similar situations combat their depression by expressing themselves with whatever medium is most familiar to them. WINk: At the time, where’d you live? Where do you live now? Antòn: At the time, I lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was born in Ukraine. I lived there with my parents until I was 12. Then we migrated to Argentina, where I grew up. And then last year I opted to move to Dublin, Ireland, where I further delved into montages. WINk: What was in Ireland that called you to it. Antòn: That’s a long story. My sister reconnected with a friend online who had been living in Ireland for a while. He offered to fly her up so she could get to know Ireland. When she came back a month later she told me Ireland is beautiful, tranquil and that she liked it. I, at the time, really wanted to leave Buenos Aires. I had Spain in sight, but after my sister’s words of praise towards Ireland, I changed my mind and decided to try my luck there. Before I left for Ireland, I met the guy’s sister. We liked one another, and when I finally went to Ireland we were a couple, very much in love. And now the four of us live together.
WINk: Brother and sister, living with brother and sister. WINk: If you had to describe your style, what would it be? Antòn: That’s how it is. You don’t see that everyday. We’re Antòn: It’s difficult to describe because it’s a combination of all from the Ukraine, met in Argentina, and fell in love in styles and techniques that I use, but there’s a lot of abstract Ireland. and fantasy.
WINk: Tell me why you wanted to leave Argentina. Antòn: Well, that’s an even longer story. First, I lived there for 10 years. I’m a restless person, and I don’t like staying put for very long at all. Also, there wasn’t a whole lot of stability for me in Buenos Aires. I had a very strong desire to get to know other lands and start my life over without having to depend on anyone. And, lastly, because I fell in love with an Ukrainian/Argentinean/Irish girl, which was the biggest reason I moved.
WINk: What camera do you use? Antòn: The most basic one there is, a Canon 450D Rebel XTI, with Sigma 28-70mm and 70-300mm lens, which, by the way, is in very bad condition. Not only is the camera over three-years old, but also the humidity in Argentina is high and my camera got full of fungus in the sensor and other parts. WINk: When you don’t use yourself as a subject, whom do you use? Antòn: Family, mostly. The child is [girlfriend] Oksana’s youngest brother. He is my favorite to shoot. I almost always use Oksana’s four brothers.
WINk: Talk to me about Dublin. Where do you find inspiration now? Antòn: Well, it’s totally different from Buenos Aires, a lot smaller. And most of the time you can’t really do a whole lot because of the rain. But when it’s not raining, there are beautiful places, mountains, lakes and forests. We also fish a lot, which I love. It’s very peaceful.
WINk: Any films that have inspired you? Antòn: There are many. But if you need a name, one of them is “The Fall.”
WINk: So, now that you’re in love and have found a little more peace, will that be reflected in your work? Antòn: I try to show happiness or contentment in my montages, but the majority of them are replete with sadness, worry and fear. Not because I’m afraid of being with my loved one, but because of the things that have to happen, worries about finding a job, and sadness because my friends and family are still in Argentina, so there’s longing and missing still to be had.
WINk: Talk about painters/photographers that have inspired you. Antòn: Without a doubt, Dali is number one. In my opinion, he was the best abstract painter. But there are many others. In photo manipulation, August Bradley, Joshua Hoffine, Julia Fullerton. And one of the best in Black and White is Rodney Smith. Then there are a lot of contemporary photographers and digital artists that not many know of, many of which I met through [a social networking site for photographers].
WINk: Where do you consider home? Antòn: I feel that it is Argentina, just because I miss it so much.
WINk: Think you’ll ever visit Ukraine? Antòn: I had planned to, yes. Coincidentally, this very month. I was going to travel with another WIN photographer, Christian Rodrigues. We were going to shoot in the small towns in Ukraine. But when I told my family they (and others) told me it’s very dangerous for me to travel there now. Because I was born there and left as a child, it’s likely they won’t let me leave the country because it’s the law that I’m obligated to serve in the military, even if I have an Argentinean passport. So until I’m 30-something, I can’t go back.
WINk: Seeing as you’re quite restless, as you said, where will you go next? Antòn: My girlfriend and I have talked about New Zealand because we’re tired of the cold weather, the rain and the wind. It’s very bothersome. My goal, of course, is to continue with my photography. But more than being a good photographer, I would like to be a great editor, seeing as I love art and editing fascinates me. I love digital art. WINk: What do you use to edit? Antòn: Photoshop CS3, but my technical skills are limited because I never studied Photoshop or digital art. I’m self-taught in all that I do.
WINk: How does that impact you? Antòn: Truthfully, I don’t mind it much. It’s just my birthplace. Everything I have Argentina has given to me. I’m an Argentinean who happened to be born in Ukraine.
AntĂ˛n Khlivnny won First Place in the Make A Better Place photo competition with this winning image. His reward: a new Nikon D80, Digital SLR camera.
NARCISs Jonathan Jacobsen
SsuS2.0 Rod Perez Noli-Provoste
Antòn Khlivnyy is not alone in his usage of the self as muse. In fact, it’s apparent (now more than ever) that the largest trend to arise from social networking sites is the ubiquitous self-portrait. Either taken with cell phones or cropped from a larger shot, at no other point in history was it standard to amass large quantities of photographs of oneself. Photo tagging, the process of assigning names to other persons in a photograph uploaded unto a networking site like Facebook or MySpace, arose because of this practice. Meanwhile, new face-recognition software (already in use by Apple
computers) makes it easier for customized searches to bring up all photos featuring the desired individual. It is only natural, then, to expect more and more photography—be it amateur or not—centered on the self to emerge in the next few years. Already, several WIN photographers make great use of the self-portrait. These talented shooters find the best subject is the one that already knows what the photographer wants. Behold a new age: Narcissus 2.0.
iN Th aBSEN oF Despite the total DARKNeSS that
permeates every corner of the arts and
crafts room, thereâ€™s still a flurry of noise and activity taking place, as the
photographers that have gATHEred
here on a Thursday morning donâ€™t have MUCH need for light.
There are heaps of clothing and fabric on the nearby shelves, while trinkets and objects most often found in second-hand stores abound in the room. And as the photographers are issuing directions, busy with the details of carrying out their tasks, someone is playing the flute. This is a creative workroom for a creative bunch of photographers. They work with two cameras, alternating who gets to use the devices. The knick-knacks and fabrics they use become scintillating props in their finished photos. And the only light they need, as it turns out, comes from a thin flashlight. The Seeing With Photography Collective, as they are called, has nearly 30 members, of which most are legally—if not entirely— blind. Led by “sighted” photographers Donald Martinez and Mark Andres, the members of the collective defy the limitations placed on disabled
persons who aspire to create art. The images they’ve created have gone on to appear in exhibits and workshops around the globe. From California to Venezuela, Sweden to Holland, fans and skeptics alike are taking notice. A cursory look on their Flickr page or their Web site will turn up a seemingly eerie body of work. Subjects appear ghostly, cloaked with indiscernible darkness save for the thin ribbons of light. But gloomy, haunting portraits are surely not all the Collective have intended. By definition, being blind means not being able to perceive form or visual
light. Thus, their images reflect the varying degrees of vision, or lack thereof. The impressive array of photographs that the Collective has amassed are created when the room is cast into total darkness as the camera’s shutter is held open by a “sighted” volunteer. Using flashlights, the blind photographers then “paint” their subjects with light. Anything that was lit will show up in the finished product; everything else remains black. Sometimes subjects will be bathed in what appears to be a silver aura, or a hazy outline. Other pictures (done with a homemade box camera under the same dark conditions) show subjects in soft detail, with barely visible features and outlines. The finished photographs are a perfect metaphor of what it means to be—figuratively and literally—shooting in the dark. The tools they are using today are a motley mix of otherwise useless junk. For this group of blind photographers, the way the light shines off of plastic tarps, silver-plated bowls, tea cups, silverware and even bubble wrap create a mood and aesthetic the artists wouldn’t otherwise
be able to attain. “Aluminum foil makes fire,” says Sonia Soberats, referring to the way the light shines off the foil. In their dark environment, a piece of plastic can simulate water, especially when moved around as the shutter remains receptive to light waves. “If you put together a piece of blue cloth with the plastic, it looks like water, like the sea,” she adds. For Sonia, photography wasn’t always a passion. Having lost her vision some 17 years ago, Sonia didn’t take up photography until 2001. “When you go on a trip and you want somebody to take a picture of your family,” she explains when asked why she took up photography, “They take your hands off, or your legs, or your head. They’re terrible, they just snap right away. So I said I must learn how to take pictures with a camera so when we go on a trip with the family I can take the pictures.” Despite her lack of vision, Sonia travels often, brandishing her digital camera at will.
He idEa aRose tO “pAint” wiTh light in tOtal DARKness.”
For someone with such a perceived disability, Sonia’s passion for (and understanding of) photography has led her to become one of the Collective’s most selfsufficient photographers. “Sonia is one of our most independent in making her pictures,” asserts group director Mark Andres. “Probably one of the quickest people to become completely independent,” he adds. He’s referring to the fact that with Sonia he doesn’t often need to offer his help. She’ll announce her vision, at which point volunteers might suggest props with which to achieve her goal (Andres points out she’ll vociferously reject or accept their advice), then she’ll direct the shoot, specifying—to the inches— the framing she desires. It’s then up to Andres or another volunteer to hold open the shutter while the photographer sets about illuminating her vision with a handheld flashlight.
“You’rE USING youR mind
The purpose of the volunteers, Andres explains during the set up, is only to help bring about the photographers’ intended image and nothing further. Often, the sighted might even close their eyes while on shutter duty, ensuring that the picture wholly belongs to the photographers.
that point, the group of us,” he explains. Pinhole cameras were the first experiment the new group toyed with. A homemade box camera included a yarn string with which the blind could touch to their nose (as they posed for the picture) to ensure they’d be in focus. Eventually, through a collective brainstorming of sorts, the idea arose to Andres has 23 years worth “paint” with light in total of experience in teaching the darkness. “It made a whole blind how to work a camera. lot of sense with people who This current program he have limited vision because oversees is very much a you’re not using your sight product of his hard work and to create the picture,” he dedication to the cause. says. “You’re using your Having started working with mind and your body, and the blind at another blind you structure it in your services building in New head.” York City, Lighthouse, Andres quickly learned how Indeed, within minutes of unimportant and isolated meeting me Sonia had asked the blind could be made to me to pose, along with feel when social services another volunteer, for her funding were abruptly cut, photograph. It was to be in ending many of the proboth black and white and grams the blind had come to color, she announced, and rely upon. Many years—and would feature two overlaid funding cuts—later, Andres’ images. Before the image current endeavor strives to had even been completed, be self-sufficient. she knew what it would look like. While expressing his “When I started [at what is doubts earlier, Andres now known as “Visions at suddenly had an “Ohhhhhh” Selis Manor”], I thought, moment as the picture came Okay, fine, let’s just do this together: Two strangers thing how I thought it should sitting side-by-side. The be done, which was we outside of the image is in raised our own money at color and, even though the strangers are touching shoulders, there’s a perceived distance as they look onto the camera. The “inside space” between them is in black and white, and features her two models gazing longingly into each other’s eyes.
With little more than a shower curtain and a black tarp, Sonia Soberats created a beautiful image. But the real power behind the Collective is that, despite the budget cuts and the disabilities, despite lacking “fancy” props and only having two cameras to work with, this group of photographers (some of whom have a whole host of bodily woes; one devotee made it to the gathering only after hours of dialysis and a commute from Staten Island) has come to be recognized throughout different parts of the world for being something other than blind. And every Thursday, as they gather, chat with and heckle each other, they create art in the absence of light.
and yOur body, aNd you stRUCTure iT in your heAd.”
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