Rediscover Dubai by Geny Villareal Baluyot

Rediscover Dubai by Geny Villareal Baluyot

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Dubai is rich in history and outstanding architecture. One of my favorite places to visit and to photograph is Al Ras, a small district in Deira near the creek, which means “the cove”. Each time I go to this place, I always discover something new.

A few months ago, I visited Al Ras with a small group of local photographers. “How did you find this place?” a local asked me as we entered a rusty elevator in an old building in Deira. In this building we found an interesting window. The geometric patterns on the concrete wall created the perfect frame for the busy market outside. For most photographers, it’s always a challenge to find new places to photograph and to create something new. “I got lost in the market, that’s how I found this.”

One of the advantages of doing a photo walk with locals is that it’s a lot easier to approach strangers for a photograph. Not that I’m shy, but I usually struggle asking people for a photo. But as the day went by, I got more comfortable taking pictures, while confused onlookers watched me from the opposite side of the street. This was a good day for me to practice portraiture.

We entered a blue door on a narrow alley and found ourselves in the middle of an old villa converted into small apartments. There we met Ali, a Pakistani worker who happily posed for a few pictures.

The place is also famous for the Deira Covered Souk, where you can buy anything from gold, textiles and spices. One can’t get enough of the incredible number of things that you can find here and the fascinating people you meet in this local market.

 

In the souk we met a Pakistani guy who sells scarves. At first he was hesitant to do the photo shoot, but after seeing how much his friend was enjoying the photo session, he also joined and allowed us to take his portrait.

We rushed into the old parking building in the souk to catch the sunset. From the rooftop you can see the busy market, the colorful trade boats and the glistening water of Dubai creek. We stayed there for about half an hour and admired the beautiful golden sun disappear behind the light blue horizon. No matter how many times I visit Deira, it will always be a place worth exploring and admiring.

Geny is a Filipino designer and photographer based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. You can see more of her work on Instagram.

Sybil: An Autobiography with Lisa Acton Smith & Sophie Smith

Sybil: An Autobiography with Lisa Acton Smith & Sophie Smith

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I walk to the edge of myself and peer into the great abyss that lives behind me.

1. A dirty blond-haired girl with eyes the color of raindrops plays a childhood game of hide and seek. Her name is stamped on her forehead – Unbalanced. She has been saddled with it since birth. Unbalanced climbs into a shiny green-and-white Ford parked in the yard, scorched by the noonday sun, and plants herself on the floorboard. It’s her favorite place to hide. Her imaginary friend, whom she has affectionately named Protector, counts in an emphatic voice. ONE Mississippi, TWO Mississippi, THREE… She runs straight for the shiny green-and-white Ford parked in the scorching heat. She knows this routine by heart. Pieces of her friend lay on the floorboard.

Gathering her up, she carries her inside. She’s done this eight hundred and ninety-five times before. Always picking up the pieces of her broken China doll friend and putting them back together again. A day and a half later, they play this game once more. Protector counts while Unbalanced hides. As usual, she heads straight for her familiar hiding place. She is greeted by remnants of bone and flakes of sallow skin on a crimson stained floorboard. She looks straight into the eyes of the discarded matter.

She doesn’t flinch.

2. A coming-of-age girl, with the body of a fading orchid, stands alone in the bathroom – her mouth wired shut. Pieces of barbed wire are wrapped around her head. Mocking voices of laughter barrel their way down the crowded corridored walls made of concrete block and shove open the bathroom door. She doesn’t know these intruders anymore. She turned her back on them long ago.

She also abandons Protector.

3. A girl, taking up residence in a woman’s body, finds a new Protector; everyone else calls him by a different name. To him, she is a mystery. To her, he is stability. She loves him like a life raft in stranded deep. He loves her like a buried treasure of rings of gold, so they run away together. She doesn’t know how big dreams can be. He cradles her in his arms as her white satin dress, with the white butterfly appliqué on its train, slides to the floor. They move into a house trailer on Wilderness Trail. Sunshine keeps the clouds at bay. Two years rush by.

4. Then they come in succession:

One
Two
Three
She cries upon their arrival. She’s never felt love like this before. For the first time, she wears the name Protector.

She can barely catch her breath. Lullabies. Late night feedings. Faces flushed with fevers. Giggles. Wide-eyed wonder at some newfound discovery. Bicycle rides and skinned knees bathed in kisses and bandaged with tenderness.
Some days she feels a sliver of herself slowly being shaved away.

5. Thirty looms overhead like a billowing sky of blackened clouds. Old Man Winter seeps into her bones and unpacks his bags, setting up housekeeping. Lullabies and kisses are replaced with deathbed vigils and reassurance from kids wearing old people faces, their wide-eyed wonder slowly robbed of its innocence. She answers to the name Unbalanced once again.

Some days, she summons the courage to stare death in the face. She comes out of hiding. She showers the man, who loves her like buried treasure, with soft kisses. She rides bicycles with the kids behind their house on Maple Street, their sweet, cherub faces returning with rapturous laughter tumbling out of their mouths. They make a soundtrack full of songs like this.

6. She puts pen to paper and writes the story of someone else’s life. Unbalanced names the protagonist Euphoria. Her deep brown eyes perfectly match her long locks of hair that sometimes trail the clear, blue sky. Euphoria plants a Rose of Sharon in her garden. She waters it and watches as it blooms in the shade of flushed cheeks. After spring and summer fade, Euphoria grows tired and lays down on the cool earth blanketed by her locks of long brown hair. With Songbird on her lips, she drifts off to sleep. Unbalanced hides away the unfinished story under her pillow.

7. For Unbalanced, moods bounce up and down like a basketball. Number Four is born. Her birth brings joy and new life into the house on California. That doesn’t keep Unbalanced from bouncing. Summer, autumn, and winter roll into spring. She goes to bed for two weeks with her lips glued shut. Her mother becomes a surrogate. The man who loves her like a buried treasure drives her to appointments and feeds her prescripted medications.

8. Mostly, she stops bouncing and learns to walk a straight line. Sometimes she gets off track. She develops a deeper love and appreciation for the man who loves her like a buried treasure. Occasionally, she pulls out the soundtrack of bicycle rides and laughter on sweet, cherub faces. They decide to make a new one. Its songs sound just as sweet. She buys a camera and tells stories with her pictures. She pulls out the unfinished novel from under her pillow and lets her words flow from pen to page. She fills in the blanks with dreams that are vast as the heavens and wide as the sea.

She climbs to the top of the abyss, arms outstretched. I meet her there.

Lisa Acton Smith and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Sophie, share the gift of artistry. Lisa is a photographer and writer, while Sophie is a photographer and musician. They live in Brookhaven, MS.

If interested in learning more, you can find Lisa’s photography on:

Poetic Images of Multiple Truth by Jussi Kapanen

Poetic Images of Multiple Truth by Jussi Kapanen

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Spring Flowers, 2016 Tampere

Images of Multiple Truth Along the Way

Why do people want to photograph strangers in a public space?

I am a middle-aged father of three children and an art teacher living in Tampere, Finland. I did my master´s degree at the University of Arts and Design in Helsinki (now part of Aalto University) in 1998. Our oldest child moved away from home to study architecture in the autumn 2015. Later that fall, I decided to carry out an idea I had cherished a long time. I bought a micro4/3 camera system, and began systematically shoot on the street. I wanted to refresh the experience of making art, something I lost little by little after uni. Could it be spontaneous, intuitive and surprising still? Could it be part of life outside of my daily work at school? Yes and yes.

Stripes, 2015 Tampere

I have always snapped with my compact camera and earlier with analog SLR. It has been part of family life and travels as usual. One image changed my idea of taking pictures. In Florence at the end of February 2015, while waiting for the order outside of Pizzeria Toto, I turned my camera onto a purple-dressed ”nonna”.

La Viola, 2015 Florence

Purple (”La Viola”) is the city´s symbol color and the nick name of the soccer team. After I took that picture, I had a serious adrenaline peak. I was amazed and confused. Is it okay to do so? The question is valid. My graduation work in the 90´s was a documentary graphic novel based on video material, a story of a man who had lost his girlfriend because of random violence and living on the edge of the society during the economic depression. The project took years, and I got familiar with the questions one has to face in making documentary. But eventually I´ve solved the dilemma of photographing strangers.

I admit, at first the thrill was good enough for me. I fished a lot when I was younger, and I recognized the feeling. The process provided by fishing (as well as by hunting) is similar to the process of street photography. All starts from the equipment and a plan. Then you just have to go out. Senses will awake little by little. The Mind settles, and you´ll live in the moment. There will be a small catch, then maybe bigger. It all depends on the experience, the mind and mrs. Fortuna. And the biggest fish is always waiting somewhere else. You know it for sure. You are patient and walk… finally heading home. At home the catch has to be gutted. Eventually, the fish ends up beautifully prepared and served onto the plate.

The Point of No Return, 2016 Tampere

Conquering Space, 2016 New York

So street photography requires some hunting instinct. People move actively and with interest examining their environment. The Camera comes along in the pocket. Documenting interesting things visually is a direct continuation of the tendency of telling stories, gossiping. Visual narrative applies same laws as stories. Photos must be able to accomodate in Aristotle´s Poetics of a good drama. And like good stories, good images will rise emotions. In a way, we all are telling the same story. The Status, angle and the mood of the story differs. The Grand story deals with us, humans, and our path in this world. The story has always been told, and so it will be in the future too.

Burden, 2016 Tallinn

We are living curious times. Democracy has been questioned, population growth and the climate change threaten our very existence. Such exceptional times had always had an impact on artists and their work. That is happening now in photography with fierce fury. Visual cultures around the world collide and fertilize each other. New factor groups with a new voices show up. They produce a fresh, new art on its own merits. Techniques, contents and themes will be revised.
However, the sense of standing on a cliff fighting against vertigo is overwhelming, caused by the fear of a global climate disaster . And behind our backs humankind grows. Manipulative authoritarian regimes here and there seize the day trying to repress people under their one truth. All of that effects serious art and photography. Me as well.

Vertical Solitude, 2016 New York

How would I describe last year 2016? Surrealistic? Nightmarish?
I´m offering a non-nationalistic and pluralistic, nordic point of view from Europe and EU too. I’ve always been into both politics and sosiological issues, as a teenager I did my political graffiti in Berlin Wall when it divided the city. A Lot is at stake right now. Here in Finland we have faced the unexpected behavior of our neighbor Russia, refugees from Middle East, the rise of the right wing extremists, Brexit and snowless winters. My visit to the USA in the middle of presidential campaigns was a thorough introduction into the irrational division of the country and segregation based on the system itself. Dark forces are on the move and they are living their life in our common consciousness.
But I dived into the world of Instagram too, and found out the barrier of distance, that earlier separated people, had collapsed. The Concept of ”international” diluted. There is no need for ”Paris” or ”New York” anymore. We all are there, constantly, enjoying the jungle of multiple truth and free voice.

Jazz Singer, 2016 Brooklyn

And my ways to see and do things have changed. Having chance to see such a brilliant photography, occasionally strange and uncomfortable, sometimes just beyond my dreams, have forced me to do things better, more planned, more focused. And I´m assured my case is not an exception. I think all of this can be seen in my images.

Mermaid, 2016 Prague

Image and the process around it has always fascinated me. I imply here specifically
an image in general, not photos particularly. Photography for me is primarily a picture making, using camera as a tool.
How, then, visual arts background is reflected in my images? In street photography it´s common to try to find funny coincidences and interesting visual similarities or gimmicks. Humor is a trade mark of many quality images.

Urban Dream, 2016 Prague

Sure I take a picture if I see a humorous coincidence or scene. But at the same time I feel very drawn to images providing the viewer several possibilities of interpretation.

One + One, 2017 Tampere

The aim is to offer humanity as a whole at a time when the picture is taken. I feel that too specific event or a visual coincidence converts image into a pictogram. A pictogram is a picture that has only one meaning (or one truth, so to speak), such as a coffee cup on a roadside signboard. The best photos can be viewed on forever, and their internal splendor won´t disappear. Of course, the best images can be humorous, and in any case they are always compassionate.
So I´m taking pictures of people, who happens to be along the way.
I feel that my photos are documents of the time I´m living in. My view to the documentary is poetic and interactive. These modes are based on the work of Bill Nichols, who have named six types of documentary films.

Waiting, 2016 Tallinn

At the heart of poetic documentary mode is to encounter the subject by subjective process, interpreted by author. The author will be recognized from visual aesthetics. Visual aesthetics means here the whole subject, and visual processing. The traditional narrative content does not mean much. People and events do not develop. It´s a question of juxtaposition of time, space and the subject.

Private Space, 2016 Tampere

On the other hand, I feel reflective documentary mode close. For me, it has always been clear that the reality is difficult to talk about. How to take an image, which corresponds to reality. I solved it by creating ”street setups” with a sense of artificiality. It´s a way to lower the sense of truth, to express that the image is a subjective product. It forces the viewer to understand that the image is the result of a some one´s mind set as well as it tells us something about reality. If viewer suspects the authenticity of the picture, I´ve succeeded.

So what do I want to say with my images? This is a question that puts the author in a difficult position. I feel that my images are first and foremost documents of this time and people. My goal is not to present one truth, more like several of them. On the other hand I do not feel just plain aesthetics productive, but important enough to seduce the viewer.
We all are linked to the great story of humanity with communication. It´s a never ending path, and nicer to walk with camera.

Centuries Watching, 2016 Rome

In the Middle of Car Dreams, 2016 Tampere

Survivor, 2017 Tampere

Adapted, 2017 Tampere

Find Jussi on :

Instagram | Twitter | Website 

Whistling Echoes: Women of the Sea by Donna Garcia

Whistling Echoes: Women of the Sea by Donna Garcia

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They plunge to the bottom of the frozen sea, holding their breath, blinded by the murky abyss, searching not only for pearls, octopi or abalone, but also for freedom.

What would happen if their line were to break? Would the men comfortably sitting above in their boats, gleefully singing songs, try to save them? It doesn’t matter. The Japanese Ama defy the ridged confines of gender expectations because they are driven by a unified sense of purpose – to live free.

For the Ama or “women of the sea”, their faith is not in men but in nature. After all, the sea itself is an intoxicating female entity. Its creatures are the Ama’s allies. Their destinies are woven together like a fluid tapestry.

As the divers rise back to the surface and slowly exhale, the bay rings with the whistling echoes of their gentle gasp, and with it, reverberations of strength, autonomy, courage, stamina, and beauty.

The Ama are one of the most interesting elements of Japanese society. They are the female divers who, since about the year 750, have been diving for pearls, abalone, octopi, and lobsters, as well as harvesting seaweed along the coastline of Japan.

There are many fables of the Ama, including the story of Princess Tamatori, depicted in a Japanese block print from 1814 titled The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, by Hokusai. It is an example of Japanese erotic art called Shunga, popularized during the Edo Period. The divers were often represented as erotic, simply because in Japanese culture the sea is seen as a female entity.

It is believed that the print depicts the story of Princess Tamatori, a figure highly popularized during the Edo period. The princess was a modest shell diver or Ama, who was searching for a pearl stolen from her husband’s family, the Fujiwara Clan, by Ryujin, the dragon god of the sea. Vowing to find the jewel Tamatori dives down to Ryujin’s underwater palace and is pursued by the god and his army of sea creatures, including octopi. When she finds the pearl, she cuts open her own breast and places the jewel inside; allowing her to swim faster in her escape. After reaching the surface the wound proves fatal, and in her death she is forever viewed a heroine.

The Ama were and still are, women who sought independence and community. There are many Ama who continue to dive passed the age of 90. It is one of the few professions dominated by woman and where there were no restrictions on their freedom.

Men would occasionally dive, but it was thought a better job for women, as it was believed that women had an additional layer of fat to keep them warm in the frigid waters. The original Ama would dive nude wearing just a loincloth and a protective scarf on their head. Streamlining their bodies in this way allowed them to swim faster and it was easier to warm up without wet clothing clinging to their skin.

An experienced Ama diver could dive as deep as 30 meters and hold her breath for up to two minutes at a time. These courageous women would dive from rocks, the shoreline and boats, with rope strung around their waists, and men would wait in the boats above to pull them back to the surface.

The whistling noise that they emit when resurfacing is called “Isobue”, or “ocean whistle,” which helps regulate their breathing. At one time, their whistling echoes would fill the bays of Japan. The entire free-diving process allows Ama to develop an extremely large lung capacity — a characteristic that many then pass on to their children.

In the 11th Century a noblewomen, Sei Shonagon, wrote The Pillow Book, a collection of her observations. She had encountered the Ama during her travels: “ One wonders what would happen to them if the cord round their waist was to break.” She goes on, “the men sit comfortably in their boats, heartily singing songs…they do not show the slightest concern about the risks the woman is taking”.

Even though socially the Ama’s labor was certainly less valued than that of men, they were unique among the female population. During a time when women were considered the subjects of men, a woman that could earn her own living, and also dictate the migration of her entire family, was unequivocally liberated. Their positions in society existed on almost a surreal plain.

The Ama are inspirational to me, as an artist and a woman, for many reasons, but foremost because what they did was just what they had to do, regardless of risk or reward. Even more remarkable to me is how they did it; breaking traditional rules within the confines of an existing system and still preserving their individual authenticity along with the connection to their culture.

My series, Whistling Echoes, explores the mythology of these women. Through the use of metaphor and symbolism, my visual interpretation explores the relationship that these women had to the sea and it’s creatures and how it not only shaped their destiny but also allowed them to live free.

Donna Garcia is a Fine Art Photographer from the United States.

To see more work and get more information on the artist please have a look at her Website or Instagram

Changing beauty by Caroline de Bertodano

Changing beauty by Caroline de Bertodano

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Changing Beauty – The Changing Face of Beauty

© Caroline de Bertodano

For centuries beauty was represented by natural beauties. Salome, Guinevere and Nefertiti to name but a few.  Later beauty was portrayed in artworks such as Botticelli’s Spring, Rossetti’s Other Woman, da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and many Impressionist works. All evocative of something more than appearance. The Greek male nude sculptures and the female nude deities of Eastern Ishtar to the later Western art such as Donatello’s “David”, Titian’s “Venus of Urbino”, celebrated the natural human body.  All to stir the mind as well as the sensual passions. Very recent depictions of beauty in art are dormant and beg the question as to why? A backlash to society’s ‘meat market’ and physical fabrications?

© Caroline de Bertodano

Through the ages, the size and shape of beauty have come and gone but natural was ever present. Different body types and features went in and out of fashion aided by the armoury of clothes and makeup but ‘natural’ was the foundation.  People simply got on and appreciated more what they had been born with.  In recent times, celebrity has replaced almost everything and as the avarice consumers we have become, we follow like sheep.

© Caroline de Bertodano

The reality of beauty, either male or female, is that almost every person is not happy in their own skin and has a list of what they feel disdain for about themselves, if not pure self-loathing by many women. An agenda of what they would change if they had the money. Massively increased depression & eating disorder numbers have the psychiatrists rewriting the psychology books.  If we add ageing to the equation, what was ’50 is the new 30’ and now ’50 is the new 70′  based on looks alone. Media role models advocate nothing but shallow appearance, they negate the actual being, of being human, born natural and undoubtedly will die as bare to living as death intends. Time will always transcend the superficial.

Every age has issues of imperfection but never before to such extremes and even the 20 somethings have joined the mass hysteria in the quest for perfection and elusive eternal youth, where beauty is considered to reside. Exaggerated ideas of imperfection and the ‘fixing myself’ phrase is often heard. With the explosion of social media and its consequential hunting grounds, the idea of perfection is now so media influenced by pretense, false impressions of image, persona and of course the eternal super skinny body form…. no surprise there! Many men are taken in by these falsehoods. But in this age of ’swipe right’, they just move on to the next idea on their perfection list, wondering why they cannot find true and lasting love. Women have become competitive instead of supportive, putting good images of themselves to annoy other women or for attention that they lack in reality.

© Caroline de Bertodano

“I’d like to say that I would be happier in my natural skin but given the opportunity, I would enhance myself. It would seem silly not to. When we live in a world where celebrities and superstars are always looking amazing and we are exposed to the ideal woman and figure all the time, why wouldn’t you want to keep up? There seems to be a much higher standard of beauty… not a natural beauty but a beauty that can be made through cosmetic surgery. You only need to look at the ‘IT’ girls of now and look at a ‘before and after photo’ to realise they are doing it. It eventually just comes down to money. Money can buy physical beauty essentially and if I had the money I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t make changes to myself. Every girl has something they hate about themselves or feels self-conscious about and if it somewhat bothers you, of course, you are going to want to change that. It is not like there are any female role models advocating natural of ‘inner’ beauty but quite the opposite really; young girls are bombarded and almost brainwashed by social media about what is a normal young girl should or does actually look like”
Eva 21 years.

 

© Caroline de Bertodano

There is a chasm of difference between plastic and cosmetic surgery.
Plastic surgery is ‘reconstructive’ for medical reasons and includes, burns, limb loss, birth defects, trauma and disease and is vital, both externally & internally life-saving.
Cosmetic surgery is elective, ‘a choice’ by an individual to enhance appearance only.

© Caroline de Bertodano

With endless procedures, media & social influence, the idea of beauty means many are starting to look alike. Some so alien from their original self they become modern day monsters as procedures ‘fall’ and they lack the money to redo them. Expressiveness and uniqueness are being lost. The expressiveness of a child’s face in laughter, the look of love, is the beauty & emotion within that is expressed externally.

 

© Caroline de Bertodano

However, in some adults, they can no longer show emotion on over engineered faces, which in turn affects the emotional communication in relationships. First impressions aside, if we are all impressed by certain looks alone, the character, mind and soul; the internal self,  go unconsidered and disappointment and failed relationships surely follow. Is Audrey Hepburn, one of the iconic beauty’s of our time, now ‘imperfect’?  Her beauty came from what was inside as well as outside and many talk of her internal light.

 

© Caroline de Bertodano

The greatest beauty is the true natural beauty requiring three vital ingredients. Looks, mind and soul. Ever fallen in love with someone you least expected to and been surprised because they are not your ‘normal type’ but because of ‘who’ they are, not just what they looked like?  Imperfections pale into insignificance on realizing emotional depth, mindful heights and the confidence they generate. True beauty is the combination and what artists for centuries before us tried to depict.

 

© Caroline de Bertodano

I would rather see the truth in someone’s eyes and the micro expressions that connect to the soul’s windows than an empty one-dimensional being that simply ‘looks good’. Beauty will always change but not at its core. My Mother used to say, ‘feed the brain and soul as well as the body’ and true beauty is those three things that make up the internal natural light, ‘the natural beauty’ and the only thing that will sustain relationships and transcend the chattels of time.

 

© Caroline de Bertodano

© Caroline de Bertodano

© Caroline de Bertodano 2017

Find Caroline de Bertodano on Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter |
I Am My Mother’s Daughter by Kat Meininger

I Am My Mother’s Daughter by Kat Meininger

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I Am My Mother’s Daughter: My Journey in Photography

My love affair with photography began with my mother. It was not love at first sight. My mother was always taking pictures. Always. Her camera held permanent residence in her handbag, and our lives were put on instant play-pause whenever she was inspired to take a shot, which was often. As a young child, I never thought about this as her passion, but only as an assigned pose to be endured for as long as it took for her to rummage through her purse to find the camera, get the camera out of its case and then get the shot she was looking for. Full disclosure: I was not in the least bit cooperative. However, I was eventually pulled in by all the photos she took, and I began, not only to appreciate them, but to look at them with a more critical eye. I never offered outright (what I thought of as) constructive criticism of my mother’s photos (an action that would have resulted in any number of unpleasant outcomes…. as a very good-looking and somewhat spoiled woman, my mother was more than a bit vain in all areas of her life).

In my mind, I might have been thinking, she should have turned us more towards the light, or away from the light or taken a few steps forward or backward. My interest was piqued, and for my 8th birthday, my mother bought me a Brownie camera of my own.

Of course, at first, I began shooting any subject that was close at hand: including my hand, my dolls, my clothes, my record player, my dresser, my closet door, dust bunnies under my bed, whatever struck my young fancy. In those pre-digital days, I was allowed two rolls of film and one pack of flash bulbs per month, as the film, flash bulbs, developing and printing all had to be paid for out of pocket. I quickly learned to become more selective in my photographic endeavors as not to waste those important resources on frivolous subjects. Time passed, my cameras became more sophisticated, I took classes, I poured over photography books by the masters and I discovered that photography was as much a passion for me as it had been for my mother.

Fast forward a good number of years, into the digital age of cameras. No longer was I bound by the constraints of finance: I could take as many pictures as my memory card would hold! It was a wonderful thing, very freeing. I could take more photos, more photos than I ever had in my entire life. I could experiment more, the possibilities were endless. The drawback, at least as far as my family may be concerned, is that the circle was unbroken: I had now become my mother, only more so. Someone closed their eyes? Delete and retake! Is the composition a bit off or the light not quite right? Delete, reposition and retake! Sunlight streaming behind everyone through the trees? Take one shot head on, move to the left and shoot another, move to the right and take a shot, shoot low, shoot high; take as many shots as your heart desires. It’s a photo junkie’s dream come true.

Enter the mobile phone with its ability to take photographs using a built-in camera. A mobile phone (or as I prefer to call it, my camera phone) that can be taken wherever I roam. This little bit of wizardry (or little bit of heaven) is nothing if not easily portable. This has opened up a whole new world, negating the need to have an unwieldy camera hanging from my neck or a heavy backpack full of lenses and equipment slung over my shoulder unless I choose to go shooting pics old school. Taking photos no longer needs to be a delicate balancing act. As I did when I first began, I can simply point my camera phone and shoot. And, as my mother before me, I now carry my camera in my purse (or in a pinch, in my pocket.)

It might have ended here if not for all those glorious photo apps. I could go on for days, but prefer to focus on my favorite camera app, Hipstamatic. I discovered mobile photography and the Hipstamatic app within months of each other in early 2012. Left reeling from the deaths of my father, my father-in-law and my mother within a three month period in late 2011, I desperately needed an all-consuming distraction. My first iPhone (4S) and the Hipstamatic app fit that bill to a “T.” I believe I was drawn to Hipstamatic because it’s a neat little app designed to recreate photos produced by the so-called toy cameras of the 50s, 60s and 70s. It’s so much more than that, because along with numerous combinations of lens, film and flash filters, there is a full editing suite, which taps into my creative side. I can play with its features in so many more ways than I could with the actual toy cameras I once owned.

Now that I am retired, I am free to wander the countryside, happily snapping away to my heart’s content. The child who wanted to shoot photos of every conceivable subject has been redeemed. There’s a big, beautiful world out there, just waiting to have its picture taken. I take enormous pleasure in snapping shots of a favorite tree or bridge in the different light of day, in different seasons. Every hour of every day presents a new photo opportunity. It’s a new view of an old friend with every click of the shutter. Ironically, I cannot stop taking pictures of my children and my grandchildren. I am in constant stealth mode, camera phone in hand, hunting for the perfect candid moment. My mother would have gotten a big kick out of this.

Kat Meininger can be found on Instagram: mobile photography as @kats_eye_phone & DSLR photography as @kats_eye_images ; as the founder of @hipsta_crazy & Admin of @photomafia group of photo sharing galleries.

Here Today Gone Tomorrow

Here Today Gone Tomorrow

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“Here Today Gone Tomorrow – The delicate balance of sand, water and life.”

I have been drawn to a thin spit of sand and scrub pine for the past 20 years. The landscape is shaped and re-shaped by storm after storm. Sand dunes, sculpted by the wind and sea, slowly shift, creating an ever-changing mural. The quality of light is otherworldly. Sand, water and weather are the key – high and low pressure fronts change so quickly light becomes ephemera.

The Cape Cod National Seashore comprises a majority of the landmass on the Outer Cape. It is shaped by vast stretches of dunes, bogs, ponds, forests and beaches – all accessible to anyone willing to hike in. The delicate balance of sand and water is a tug of war between the land and the sea. It is a powerful, yet fleetingly beautiful place.

My wife, Ellie, is an impressionist painter. She is a student of the Cape Cod School of Art, established by Charles Webster Hawthorne in Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1898. We spend our time together in the dunes and beaches of Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown. We hike in and find a spot. Ellie sets up her easel, spending hours on one painting.  As she works, I wander, studying the landscape. This change of pace has taught me to slow down, be patient, have faith in my composition and wait for the light. More often than not, the storm clouds persist, the light stays flat and nondescript. But on occasion, one is given the gift of a moment, the clouds break and the landscape erupts in beauty.

I visit these haunts ritually, photographing and re-photographing the landscape. It is a form of meditation, a cathartic experience where the quality of the light transforms the familiar to the unreal.

As vulnerable as this habitat is, it pushes back against human attempts to protect it. Snow fences, erected to slow the movement of sand and inevitable erosion, are buried and crushed by the constant flow of wind and water.

Concrete piers and stone breakwaters are eventually broken by the tides, washed out to sea or left upended, a relic from the past. These crumbled and submerged forms are a testament to the natural powers that ravage the land.

The forces of nature are hard in the dunes. Flora is stunted and twisted, a wonderful contrast against the windswept sand. Competition between species, the perpetual fight for patches of fertile soil, creates a visual pallet of color and form. Natural boundaries between salt water species and fresh water species forge delineated lines that crash into a swirling patchwork of hue and texture.

It comes down to water. Frozen water formed the Cape. Glaciers deposited their till, forming the landmass. Water grinds the rock to sand. And water will eventually reclaim this thin spit of land, sucking it back into a dark and hidden tomb. One could say, what the water gives the water will take.

But for today, it’s the water that charges the light, opens the shadows, pushes the weather and gives the gift of this mystical place.

Thank you for taking the time to read and look at my photographs.

To see more of my photos, please visit me on: Instagram | Website.

‘Fishing in the abyss’ by George Pavlopoulos

‘Fishing in the abyss’ by George Pavlopoulos

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I grew up next to the sea and I felt that I had everything: an endless summer, the song of the cicadas, a bunch of faces that refused to grow old and the taste of watermelon under the pine trees. The sea resembled an uncultivated field, where childhood was constantly being reborn and rewarded. I don’t remember all the faces I met, but I do somehow recall sudden expressions and fleeting images: the talk of older people before sunset, the whispering lips of women, the sweating foreheads of busy men, the agony for the coming winter, as well as the promise that a triumphant summer will conquer our lives again.

Then I lost the sea and the transition was violent. Entering the next phase of life kept me occupied but I could hardly somehow manage to return back to the early days. I wasn’t nostalgic or pessimistic; I was just longing for some sort of simplicity, a way of life based on spontaneity, on free will and on outspoken truths. Adulthood did not arrive as a blessing but as the fulfillment of a dreary prophecy. All the potential punishments of our childhood became our daily adult routine: “you’ll be left alone” or “you won’t get any money” or even “you are not allowed to go out”.

The legendary summers looked like shipwrecked boats; they couldn’t set sail because they were too damaged, nor could they reach the shore and start all over again clean. I equipped myself with artifacts, some long existing objects, humble in their existence, easy in their use. Technology has altered them but it didn’t taint their soul. They seemed to have been always there, on that remote planet, as a way of expression and their purpose was to create worlds that we’d probably never visit.

“Yellow Balloon”, Athens 2016

A family of sorts, Vilnius 2016

At first it was a pen and a paper, then a typewriter and later a laptop. Despite its technological evolution, the soul of the written word did not change and there will always be someone willing to lock his body -but not his spirit- into a silent room and start writing. Respectively, at first there was a smartphone, then a compact camera and later a bigger one. Contrary to the ancient belief, images do not consist of a thousand words; they consist of all the words we were not able to write.

“Wrinkles and movies”, Bologna 2016

“Far Away”, Berlin 2017

I can never afford to lose people, but when I started dealing with absence it seemed to me that there was only one way back: the narrative. Through writing I felt I could re-visit, through photography I felt I could re-see. The return to childhood has nothing heroic in its heart and I could never identify with Proustian moments. It was simply that old longing for simplicity sending me to the white paper or the black film.

The white paper and the black film are always an interpretation of a narrative that fails to be resonated: words that fail to be written deliver always a white paper, while photos that fail to be taken deliver always a black image. The eternal battle of the two irreconcilable colors is not only a clash between light and darkness but also the inability of self-expression on a given day. If the creative adult is indeed a child who has survived, one can only imagine how painful a white paper or a black film really feels.

“No man’s land”, Berlin 2017

“The Letter”, Athens 2017

I can’t recall most of the faces of these old summers. They seem to be lost in a sea of oblivion and they are only allowed to emerge for an instant every now and then. Nowadays I spend less time in front of the sea and I am not that spontaneous anymore. I’m spending most of my days in big cities, where History adds an extra weight on the already long faces of the Europeans. Sunny days are good for the body, but only the cloudy ones make me feel really productive. I’d wake up rather early and I’d write until noon; then, I’d take my camera in hand and go out.

The city is crowded and I’m searching for dark corners, spots where the contrasts are magnified. I’m standing there for twenty, maybe thirty minutes. I’m waiting for a face to appear from the darkness, somebody that will remind me of the people I used to know: faces from past summers, lost loves, absent friends, people I rarely see. Some days no one appears, but I live for the day that a familiar face will emerge from the darkness. This is a re-connection of sorts, a short return to the simplicity of childhood: a person, an expression, a scene. The memory is finally serving its purpose, which is to remind us who we really are: we are nothing more than a patchwork of all the people we ever met. For a dense moment I feel like being in front of the sea on a warm summer afternoon. I am extremely young again, I am revolted against oblivion and I’m fishing in the abyss.

THE END

George Pavlopoulos is the author of three novels. He has also written several travelogues and short stories. You can see more of his work on his Website as well as on Instagram.

“Only the inventors survive”, Athens 2016

“The journey of sand”, Bologna 2016

“The man who could not dream”, Berlin 2017

Kings in water, Budapest 2015

“Ghosts”, Athens 2016

“Early summer”, Athens 2016

 

 

 

“Christmas”, Berlin 2016

Towards the future, Berlin 2017

 

Sea spray, Walk along the Sea by Tiphaine

Sea spray, Walk along the Sea by Tiphaine

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Rainy day in Saint-Malo, Brittany, French West Coast. Cloudy sky. Sea spray. Soft and salty droplets carried by the wind. Walk by the sea on a rainy day and smell the perfume of the sea. The Ocean breeze.

Sometimes umbrellas are open. Dark or light spots sprinkled in a seascape with grey tones. The black and white come alive; the texture arises and catches the eye. Slowly. The umbrellas swing, quietly, to the rhythm of wandering walkers.

Stormy weather. Sometimes the weather is less clement, the sky changes, the wind rises, dark clouds are running in the sky, walkers hurry to shelter from the rain that arrives, from the wave that splashes, from the sprays that sting. With the high and low tides, the weather changes quickly by the sea, the sun comes back, it illuminates the landscape and the walkers, it warms the colors, it dries everything, and the umbrellas close again immediately.

My umbrella walkers are often alone. Contemplative. Lost in their thoughts. Looking towards the horizon. Immobile or in motion, anchored in a marine landscape that offers every day a new way of looking at it, even in rainy weather. Whether on the beach, in the cobbled streets, on the Sillon, the floor offers a different light to photography. Black and white act as a poetic revealer. It reinforces the effect of loneliness, accentuates the melancholic or meditative atmosphere, tells an unfinished story, a story to be written.

Go out and take pictures on a rainy day. Walk with the rain, or against it, feel the wind, the raindrops, the spray on your face. Observe the sky and the surrounding landscape, slow down and feel.

A walk through the rain and maybe a photo at the end of the road. This is the path that I follow on Instagram with no specific purpose. At random. Black and white photographic peregrinations written with commas and dots. To be continued…

I warmly thank Grryo for letting me share some of my Brittany here with you. Thank you for this beautiful lighting. Let the beautiful part of photography, writing, creation, documentary, art, a visual aside that opens the eyes and heart, congratulations to them. We are Grryo.

Tiphaine, @tiphdiadel, in real life, works in publishing ; on Instagram, walks with a smartphone ; founder of @bnw_bretagne : a photograph and a story, another look on Brittany.

Embruns. Balade en bord de mer, chapitre 2.

Un jour de pluie pluie à Saint-Malo. Ciel chargé. Embruns marins. Gouttelettes douces et salées portées par le vent. Se balader en bord de mer, un jour de pluie et sentir le mélange des fragrances marines. Air marin. Parfois les parapluies sont ouverts. Taches sombres ou claires parsemées dans un paysage marin aux tons gris et délavés. Le noir et blanc s’anime alors, la texture surgit et accroche le regard. En douceur. Les parapluies se balancent, tranquillement, au rythme de la marche des promeneurs.

Temps orageux. Parfois, le temps est moins clément, le ciel change, le vent se lève, des nuages larges et sombres courent dans le ciel, les promeneurs se hâtent alors pour se mettre à l’abri du grain qui arrive, de la vague qui éclabousse, des embruns qui piquent soudain. Avec la marée, la météo change vite en bord de mer, le soleil revient, il illumine les paysages et les promeneurs, il réchauffe les couleurs, il sèche tout alentour, et les parapluies se referment aussitôt.

Mes promeneurs au parapluie sont souvent seuls. Contemplatifs. Perdus dans leurs pensées. Le regard tourné vers l’horizon. Immobiles ou en mouvement, ancrés dans un paysage marin qui offre chaque jour une nouvelle façon de le regarder même par temps de pluie. Que cela soit sur la plage, dans les rues pavées, sur le Sillon, la texture du sol offre un éclairage différent à la photographie. Le noir et blanc agit comme un révélateur poétique. Il renforce l’effet de solitude, accentue l’ambiance mélancolique ou méditative, raconte une histoire inachevée, une histoire à écrire.

Sortir et photographier par un jour de pluie, en bord de mer. Marcher avec la pluie, contre la pluie, au gré de la pluie, c’est sentir le vent, les gouttes fraîches, les embruns sur le visage. Observer le ciel et le paysage alentour, ralentir le ryhtme, sentir.

Une promenade et peut-être au bout du chemin une photo. C’est le sentier que je suis sans but précis. Au hasard. Des pérégrinations photographiques en noir et blanc écrites avec des virgules et des points de suspension. À suivre…

Un immense merci à toute l’équipe de Grryo de m’avoir accueillie une nouvelle fois. Laisser la part belle à la photographie, à l’écrit, à la création, au documentaire, à l’art, une parenthèse visuelle qui ouvre le regard et le cœur, bravo Grryo.

Tiphaine, @tiphdiadel, dans la vie, travaille dans l’édition ; sur Instagram, jse promène avec un smartphone, a créé @bnw_bretagne : une photographie et une histoire, un autre regard sur la Bretagne.

The Female Gaze in Street Photography by Lauren Louise

The Female Gaze in Street Photography by Lauren Louise

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While perusing my photographs from the last year, I was surprised to notice that I had started photographing women much more often than men. But not just women in general, it was women who seemed to be preoccupied or burdened by something, suspended in their own quiet space, within the milieu and movement of the city around them. How had I developed such a pattern photographically without even being aware of it?  It was only in writing this story that I began to explore why I was drawn to these solitary female figures in which I saw subtle expressions of the same anxieties or unease that I had felt at varying stages throughout my life.

Of course anxiety or unease is not confined to women alone, and I have been attracted to photographing this quality in men as well. But the sheer volume of female subjects over the last few months suggested to me there was something more to it and I began to explore the tensions and dichotomies in my own life that had been sources of anxiety, but were also related specifically to being female:

I have felt empowered by being considered youthful, attractive and seductive, yet disempowered by being objectified and undervalued.

I have felt empowered by being independent and career focused, yet disempowered by being judged for being single or not having children.

I have felt empowered by finding love, getting married and settling down, yet disempowered by my single female friends who felt I could no longer relate to their struggles.

I have felt empowered by being older, wiser and more confident, but disempowered by the stresses of family and society’s changing view of me in the face of physical ageing. 

I use the word empowerment because in all of these women I have photographed, I see an underlying strength, a steely persistence beneath the expressions of concernment or vulnerability which outweighed and outplayed any feeling of ‘disempowerment’.

I began thinking about Laura Mulvey’s infamous writings on the ‘male gaze’ in her essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. Mulvey argues that Hollywood cinema, for the most part, follows the patriarchal ideology of society and (without realizing it) places the audience into the perspective of a heterosexual man. “In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female”, denying the woman her human identity and objectifying her. As a female street photographer in a primarily male dominated photographic medium, my focus on women then becomes twofold—I am inherently interested in women because I am one of them, but I am also able to challenge the philosophy of the male gaze by finding those women that project expressions and personalities that force the spectator to look deeper, beyond the surface— in other words, I want to photograph women because they have a story to tell, not because of their inherent ‘to-be-looked-at-ness’. To be sure, the story they have is one which can only be guessed at and one which will be intrinsically shaped by the viewer’s own worldview and experiences, as I demonstrated in the abovementioned examples.

Having observed and admired the work of other street photographers who find ‘scenes’ to photograph – whether it be two or three people interacting, or a person caught amidst diverse elements in the environment (for example a bus going by, a bird flying into the frame) – I persist with trying to capture the person, and only the person.  In isolating the solitary figure, and highlighting their expression, the viewer is prompted to look within, rather than around, for the story.

In the same way I had begun to think differently about the female faces I had been photographing, I also began pondering my series of ‘faceless’ women. I had taken a number of these, never staged. I was fascinated by the way their expressiveness came through in their posture and that there was always a narrative to be found not in their gaze, but in what they gazed upon. It felt like all of them were searching for something, and looking cautiously but optimistically ahead, again suspended for a moment in their own contradictions. What were these contradictions or these struggles? What were they searching for? The goal of street photography is never to deliver answers but to raise questions.

Lauren Louise is a street photographer based in Chicago, IL.  You can find her on : Website | Instagram

Ode to Winter

Ode to Winter

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I  remember, as a child, fumbling in the complete darkness of my bedroom. The clock having just struck my morning anxieties, and myself heading toward the window to summon the day into the room. Rolling up the night around the slats of the blind, the picture of the wakening day gradually unfolding before me. I usually paid little attention to it. A glimpse that made me feel both reassured that the world was still out there, and worried my school was too.

Some mornings had a different feel though. As soon as a glimmer of daylight crept into the dark, I already knew at its particular brightness that the day would hold different promises. It had snowed and perhaps it might keep snowing!

When I reminisce over the snow days of my childhood, I cannot single out or describe this or that particular day with its own distinct facts. Yet alive in me are a set of moments spreading from this time, grouped in my mind by a similar naïve joy, etched with such emotion that my memory has decided to gather them into one souvenir.

And I can see myself, pulling a chair by the window and watching the snow come down slowly over the wet plain, settling silently in the hollows, on the roofs, seizing the roads and the alleys, covering the ugliness brought on by the day. Then, having made everything even, everything level, it is forced to accept it must fall on itself. At this point, one’s attention is no longer drawn to anything and ceases to recognize. And now one can only see one’s own images projected on the white screen offered by the winter.

Or, I was outside. Snow had stopped  and I was trying to identify parts of the scenery, my playground, my bicycle under a bump. And it was like attempting to read a book in a foreign language, familiar enough to follow the story line, yet not the details.

To this day, I prefer winter to any other season. Not only the snow, but the cold that enlivens or numbs. The fury of the wind when it blows the leaves off and gives them back to the earth, which later chews them and gobbles them up. I enjoy this harshness and this severity. People meet and get to the essential, because it is too cold to linger and tell more.

I enjoy the monotonous landscape. The nature when it depletes, gathers itself, and mourns. The ground that is brown then grey then white then dirty. The flight of the birds that is shorter and heavier. The way they suddenly flock into bands, ruffle the trees and the electrical cables. The ones that decide to remain lonely.

I enjoy watching the night as it awakens the day with the city lights turning on one by one like fireflies on a summer night. The shadows are longer, more present in the home. Our lives languish, it is a slower time, allowing us to look backward. As when walking in the snow, we have to stop and turn around in order to see our own tracks.

And last, I enjoy winter when it shies away, out of breath, and suddenly gives way to perpetual renewal, to the sweet illusion we call Spring.

Anne Closuit Eisenhart is @lesfifoles on Instagram

 

Ode à l’Hiver – Par Anne Closuit Eisenhart

Je me revois, enfant, avancer à tâtons dans le noir de ma chambre. Le réveil venait de sonner mes angoisses matinales et je me dirigeais vers la fenêtre pour convoquer l’aube dans la pièce. Tandis que j’enroulais la nuit autour des lamelles de mon store, se déroulait à mesure devant moi le tableau du jour qui s’éveillait. Je n’y prêtais d’habitude aucune attention particulière. Tout juste un regard qui me rassurait car le monde était toujours là, et qui m’inquiétait car mon école aussi.

Certains matins, il en allait différemment. A peine un rai de jour se glissait-il dans l’obscurité que je savais déjà, à l’éclat spécifique de la lumière, que la journée tiendrait d’autres promesses. Il avait neigé et peut-être neigeait-il encore…

Quand je me remémore les jours de neige de mon enfance, je ne peux bien sûr pas décrire telle ou telle journée précise avec ses faits bien à elle. Mais continue de vivre pourtant en moi un ensemble de moments s’étalant dans ce temps, regroupés dans mon esprit par une même joie naïve, inscrits avec suffisamment d’émotion pour que ma mémoire décidât de les réunir en un souvenir. 

Et je peux me voir, tirer la chaise près de la fenêtre et regarder la neige descendre lentement sur la plaine humide, s’installer, silencieuse, dans les creux, sur les toits, s’emparer des routes et des chemins, recouvrir la laideur amenée par le jour. Puis, quand elle a rendu tout égal, quand elle a tout nivelé, se résoudre à tomber sur elle-même. Alors le regard n’est plus arrêté par rien et cesse de reconnaître. Et l’on ne fait plus que voir ses propres images intérieures se projeter sur l’écran blanc que nous offre l’hiver.

Ou encore,  j’étais dehors, il avait cessé de neiger et j’essayais d’identifier le paysage, mon terrain de jeux, mon vélo sous une bosse. Et c’était comme tenter de lire un texte dans une langue étrangère suffisamment familière pour qu’on en comprenne la trame pas assez cependant pour qu’on en saisisse tous les détails.

Aujourd’hui encore, je préfère l’hiver à n’importe quelle autre saison. Pas seulement la neige, mais aussi le froid qui vivifie ou engourdit, la fureur du vent qui arrache les feuilles des arbres et les rend à la terre qui les mâche puis les engloutit. J’aime cette rudesse, cette âpreté.  Les gens se croisent et se disent l’essentiel car il fait trop froid pour en rajouter.

J’aime le paysage monotone. La nature qui se dépouille et se recueille. La terre brune puis grise puis blanche puis sale. Le vol des oiseaux qui est plus lourd et plus court. Cette façon qu ‘ils ont soudainement de se mettre en bandes, d’hérisser les arbres, les fils électriques. Ceux qui décident de rester solitaires.

J’aime guetter la nuit quand elle réveille le jour, et regarder les lumières de la ville s’allumer une à une comme des lucioles un soir d’été. Les ombres sont plus longues, plus présentes dans la maison. Nos vies se traînent, c’est un temps plus lent, fait pour regarder en arrière.C’est comme quand l’on marche dans la neige, il faut s’arrêter et se retourner pour voir ses pas. 

J’aime enfin l’hiver quand il se dérobe et, à bout de souffle, cède la place à l’éternel recommencement, à la douce illusion qu’est le printemps.

Anne Closuit Eisenhart est @lesfifoles sur Instagram

Finding Your Muse by Monica Galvan

Finding Your Muse by Monica Galvan

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You can tell a lot about a person by what they photograph

There are the ones who photograph their meals at a restaurant, positioning each element carefully. There are those who only photograph their kid’s laughter and smiles to keep them young forever. Some photograph for archival purposes, as a “note to self”. I choose all of the above. I choose to document every aspect of my life in photographs.

I have a fear of forgetting. Our memories are unreliable. We’re selective, recalling the bits and pieces we feel are most important. So whenever I see something too beautiful for words, something that makes me laugh out loud, or just something I want to share with someone later, I get out my iPhone and capture it. I want the moment to live on so I’ve developed a habit, an obsession some may even say, of digitally recording.

San Francisco cityscape from Bernal Heights park

San Francisco city view from Bernal Heights Park during the golden hour, just before sunset. Shot on iPhone 6, edited with VSCO.

I love themes, especially in photography. My reoccurring theme is San Francisco. If you look close enough you’ll find it hidden everywhere. My favorite subject to shoot is the Golden Gate. There’s something about the red/orange hues, the pillars of strength, the fog weaving in and out; it’s an indescribable feeling I have whenever we meet.

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge from Vista Point in Sausalito by Monica Galvan

San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge from Vista Point, Sausalito. Shot on Canon 5D Mark III with 50mm f/1.4 lens.

San Francisco has always been a magical place for me. I can remember being excited as a kid to spend the day in the city with my dad and sister or brother. It was usually just to a “touristy” area like Pier 39 or Fisherman’s Wharf (my dad loves the clam chowder). I had no idea there was so much more to discover in this enchanted land and I wouldn’t for several years.

Fisherman's Wharf signage in San Francisco, California

Signage in Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco.

Maybe it was the cheesy souvenirs, the sweater weather, the food, the crowds the sea lions attracted, or the people who walked the streets with purpose and freedom. I honestly have no idea what happened to make me fall so hard for this city but it started way back then. I’ve grown up since but never out of love; my first love.

San Francisco skyline from the Larkspur Ferry by Monica Galvan

San Francisco skyline from the Larkspur Ferry.

I look back at pictures taken of me from disposable film cameras standing in front of random, insignificant things and I’m struck by one familiar theme, an uncontrollable smile.

Throughout our lives we go through many ups and downs though we tend to recall the negative more than the positive. I’ve lost myself too many times but I’ll always find myself again, in this city.

Mission Dolores Park in San Francisco, California

Mission Dolores park in San Francisco, November 2010.

I haven’t always been as passionate about photography as I am now. Though I’ve pursued photography for many years, over a decade of my life, there were a few chunks of time between when my camera and I were distant from one another. Each time might be for a different reason relating to that season of my life but looking back now, I know the underlying reason that connects them. I hadn’t found my muse yet.

I’m not advocating you sit and wait for inspiration to strike to pursue photography or any form of creativity for that matter. Instead I encourage you to go after it. Inspiration isn’t something you can search for, it has to find you working.

Walking the Burrard bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia

Walking across the Burrard bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia. Shot on Canon 5D Mark III with 50mm f/1.4 lens.

Learning to see the world in a new way

At first photography was something I did on a vacation or a mini road trip away from home. It was about capturing the moments to remember them later. But slowly I began to see the world in a new way. That’s what photography does to you. You see things differently, you notice what others don’t. And this is the exact reason you are meant to be a photographer, to share your vision with those who can’t see it for themselves.

Time | Shot on iPhone 6 with Lensbaby mobile lens

Shot on iPhone 6 with Lensbaby mobile lens, edited with VSCO.

A personal journey

I’ve always felt photography is a personal journey and perhaps that’s why it took me so long to share my work with others. Art stems from a private place inside. Sometimes the artist doesn’t understand the reason they’re drawn to create, they only feel the pull. Photography is no different. I couldn’t tell you why I felt such a strong connection to the medium, I only knew I needed to keep going.

Burrard bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia

Burrard bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia. Shot on Canon 5D Mark III with Lensbaby Composer Pro 50 lens.

Transforming your muse into photographs

You have a muse too. Maybe you already know what it is or maybe you have some more soul searching to do. Either way, when you find it you’ll know. I can tell you from experience it’s worth the wait. Sometimes it’s a person, a specific object, or in my case a place. It varies from one artist to another.

Seattle, Washington cityscape

Seattle cityscape from the Space Needle.

The only way to speed up the process of finding your muse is to keep photographing. It’s going to take a lot of bad photographs before you find the ones that light a spark in your heart and lead you down the path you’re meant to follow. Keep shooting, keep practicing and never stop experimenting. If you’re bored with one genre of photography, pick up another. There are no rules to finding your muse except you can’t give up.

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands by Monica Galvan

San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge from the Marin Headlands. Shot with Canon 5D Mark III with 50mm f/1.4 lens.

Looking for a little inspiration to get you out there shooting and improving your photography skills?

Check out Fall in Love with Photography, a free 7 day photo challenge to kickstart your photography! Every day for one week you’ll receive a new photo challenge right to your inbox. Each challenge features a theme with plenty of tips and ideas to get your creativity flowing. Click through to join and get started!

Fall in Love with Photography: Join the 7 day photo challenge

To find out more about Monica you can find her on monicagalvan.co and Instagram @mlynngalvan

Monica Galvan is a photographer based in the Bay Area of California. She specializes in San Francisco cityscapes and urban environments with a vintage touch. She also teaches aspiring photographers how to find their visual voice with photography at monicagalvan.co 
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