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Tony in Seattle by Bridgette

Today marks our first Instagramers Seattle Feature!

Each month a member of the manIGers team will select a photographer to interview here on the Juxt blog.  The idea behind this is to showcase local artists who are creative and representative of the Pacific Northwest.  

To date, we are close to 50,000 photos tagged with #Igers_Seattle, so if you haven’t already checked out our gallery please do.  There is plenty of incredible talent, believe me!   

So, let’s get to it.

Everyone… meet Tony… a “Seattle guy”

B:  Bridgette  T:  Tony

B: Hi Tony, let’s start with this shot, one which is particularly AMAZING!  Are you a surfer? Where were you when you took this?

T: Gosh, no! I wish I were a surfer, but I have to be content with boogie boarding and other water sports that take place in waist-deep water. I have a fear of dying by drowning. I think I’d prefer fire. Actually, yes, I’ve just decided for certain that I would prefer fire. While I can manage on the water’s surface just fine — floating, dog-paddling, splashing or sipping a Campari and tonic on a raft — I’m not fond of being pushed under by a ton of falling water.

This shot was taken in Pacific City, Oregon, which is a small, quiet, surf-friendly beach town. My husband, Rand, and I own a little house down there that we use as an escape, so I do have quite a few beach and surfer shots in my feed. Rand surfs, so he shows up in a lot of my shots. Having spent part of my youth in Hawaii, I’m fascinated by the surf scene down there. It’s not territorial and it’s actually very beginner friendly. Most everyone there is just starting out and not actually very good. Except for Rand, of course, who is the best surfer I’ve ever witnessed and certainly ever will.

B: Here’s another favorite – I think of this effect as your signature effect.  What are your favorite editing tools / apps? And tell us which you use to create the blur and drama.

T: This look kind of became known as the “blurry people” effect, and I have many variations on this theme in my feed. I actually think these pieces feel positive and liberating, but based on a few comments I’ve received, I think some people see it as “beautiful death” in some oxymoronic way. That’s OK with me, too. I like that its intent is vague.

The look actually came about by accident. I masked out part of a figure and intended to blur the rest of the scene, but I forgot to invert the mask and I ended up with a partially blurred person. From there it morphed. For example, I have several pieces in which the blur extends in the direction opposite of what you’d perceive to be the movement. I like the jarring effect it creates.

This one — called “Ascent” — is actually my favorite. Here I’ve use the blur to give the feeling of a person evaporating. I called it “Ascent” because I imagine this person ascending to a better place. And I don’t mean from life to heaven, but maybe just from sadness to joy, or from frustration to forgiveness. It’s a movement in a positive direction. But I guess I can also see how some might see a person dissolving molecule by molecule in a Star Trek kind of way.

To get the effect, I use the masking feature in PhotoWizard, and then I apply the Motion Blur tool. Sometimes I do this repeatedly at different strengths and in various areas to keep it from looking too uniform. To get the “smoky” look above the figure, I mask again, and adjust brightness and hue to get it to match the rest of the blur.

To get the texturing, I like to use the layers feature in PhotoForge2. Most of the textures are photos I’ve taken — rusty walls, grimy concrete, driftwood, sand, tree bark, paint, etc. Sometimes I’ll layer two or three to get the look I want.

B: By looking at your photos it’s clear that you love to travel, which has been your most memorable moment? Where would you love to travel to next?

T: I am fortunate to have the opportunity to travel so much. My high school years were spent entirely in Germany (my stepfather was an Army pilot) so I’ve always wanted to stray from home from time to time. Rand and I own a small design firm and we design everything from furniture to holiday items to home decor. We have two large manufacturing partners in Asia, so we travel there 3 to 5 times a year to oversee the development of our products. I think I’ve been to China nearly 40 times already, and I’m still not tired of it.

We feel very lucky to be able to work and travel together without killing each other, and these trips give us the opportunity to tag on short vacations after our work is done, such as Thailand, Bali, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan and Korea. Although I traveled with my family all throughout Europe while I was in high school, and Rand and I have seen so much of Asia through our business travels, there are still so many places to visit. India is high on my list. I’d jump at a chance to get to Morocco or Greece. And we are planning a Turkey trip next year with friends. I also need to see Lebanon sometime before I die because I am half Lebanese.

One of my most memorable travel experiences happened just this year on a trip with a large group of friends to southern Africa. Our friend who planned the trip tagged on a humanitarian effort, and, using funds we collected, we had a kitchen built for a school for orphaned children in Zambia. Rarely do you have the opportunity to give and see directly the effect you are having on real people.

B: Your photos in general are so atmospheric and resemble remarkable pieces of art. Have you ever taken a painting class? Who or what influences you most?   

 

T: Wow, I really appreciate the compliment. My biggest influence is actually Rand, who truly is a talented artist in every sense of the word. He’s an incredible sculptor and painter, and his work never ceases to surprise and amaze me. I’m inspired by him to bring that variety into my own work. I don’t really consider myself an “artist” in the same sense, but I have always had a creative side. I excel at photography and graphic design, and I have nice handwriting (does that count?), but physical art-related activities (sculpting, painting, etc.) elude me.

When Rand and I first met in the mid-90s, I tried painting and sculpting alongside him. I was very good at painting Pharaoh eyes that seem to be staring directly at you from a side-turned face, and I fired a clay serving piece or two that would be welcome at any Klingon dinner party, but that’s as far as I got. Most of the art I’ve wanted to create was either with a camera or a computer. But after a day of work on a computer, the last thing I want to do was spend the evening at the same computer creating art. So Instagram, my camera, and my iPad have actually been an incredible outlet for me. Having an instant audience on Instagram is so gratifying, if not somewhat addictive. After that initial rush of “likes” starts to slow, it’s tough not to want to post again right away to keep it going.

I’ve always had a big interest in trompe l’oeil, which is a fancy French art term that means to “deceive the eye.” It’s an old technique that involves imagery to trick the eye – say, a painted door or window on a wall to give the illusion of a larger space. I spent many a lunch hour after college in temp jobs drawing extremely realistic paper clips on the desk pads of secretaries just so I could spend the afternoon watching them try to periodically brush them aside.

So I like to add a little bit of the almost impossible to some of my images to deceive the eye. For example, in the cloud image above, the beach is Pacific City, but the clouds were shot just a month ago in Vietnam. In this image I joined the two together and flipped the clouds upside-down. The clouds almost look plausible, but there’s something a little off about them. I like bringing disparate images like these together in a sort of collage, but when I do, I want the transitions from one element to another to be seamless.

B: Tell us a bit more about yourself. Aside from exploring the great outdoors, what else do you enjoy doing in your spare time? What type of music do you listen to? Do you have a favorite book of all time?

T: I’m a big fan of hiking the amazing mountains and waterways that surround Seattle. I can’t imagine a more ideally placed city than ours. I also love to cook. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, and for the past 20 years, my good friend Ruth and I have cranked out 20 unique meals for a large group of guests. (Rand and my sister, Karen, do the table decor.) We have a “no repeat recipes” rule, so there’s a lot of testing and planning involved. We also don’t let people contribute any food of their own, even if they claim they cannot survive a Thanksgiving without their grandmother’s mushroom-lima bean casserole. We simply can’t risk any unplanned dish disrupting the perfect harmony of color, texture, and flavor we believe we’re creating… haha.

As far as music goes, I’m a big fan and supporter of KEXP radio (if you’re outside Seattle, check them out on the Internet or in the Apple App Store). I guess I’m partial to indie Seattle artists, like Damien Jurado, Ivan & Alyosha, and Unbunny, but I also love Dan Mangan, Langhorne Slim, and Phosphorescent.

My favorite book of late has been “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell, which the Wachowskis have adapted to film and will release this fall. To me, this book seems nearly impossible to adapt to film, so I’m excited to see what they’ve produced.

B: And lastly, name three restaurants you’d recommend to a first time visitor here in Washington, of course!

T: I could easily name 10. There are so many fantastic places here. My top three this week might be The Walrus and the Carpenter (oysters, fantastic small plates, and amazing cocktails), How to Cook a Wolf (incredible pastas and crudo), and Sitka & Spruce (local farm-fresh foods and incredible atmosphere). But I’d also recommend stopping at Metropolitan Market grocery store at the bottom of Queen Anne Hill, grabbing a few Salumi sandwiches, an orzo salad, some cookies, and a bottle of wine and heading to Discovery Park to picnic with the sun setting behind the Olympics as your backdrop.

BIO: Tony is a product and furniture designer in Seattle. His household consists of himself; his husband, Rand; two cats; an espresso machine; two ovens; a pair of hiking boots; travel shorts; and a stack of unread books.

IG username: @tonyinseattle
Hometown: Although I wasn’t born in Seattle, I’ve been here longest and freely claim it as my hometown
Current location: Seattle, WA
Camera(s): iPhone 4S and Olympus E-M5