Pamela Pianezza dreams about pictures. The pictures she’s done and could have done better, the pictures she couldn’t do, because she didn’t have her camera, and pictures that obsess her so much that at some point she knows she’ll have to go back to that place and try again. “I also dream about the pictures I would love to do. Sometimes I just have boring “technical dreams” : before going to Japan for instance, I kept dreaming about what camera, what lens I should use etc. So given the level of my obsession, I guess I’m really a photographer.”
pamela pianezza – chasing haruki murakami – 4
She’s a French-Italian, Paris-based photographer and journalist, mostly focusing on film and literature. Much of her time is spent travelling to film festivals around the globe, working on portraits and documentation, lugging around heavy cameras and accessories.
As a counterbalance, Pamela likes to explore the cities and parks with disposable cameras, in search of foto povera (translating badly as “poor photography”) – a term with overtones of snapshot and undertones of anti-convention.
Her camera of choice for these images is a Holga. A week for heading to Japan, she had a motor accident and had to use crutches during the whole trip. “The Holga is light, and gives the best visual echo to what happens in my brain and I’ve continued using it because it’s the cheapest medium format camera I know.”
In this genre, she has been working on two series. The first is Chasing Haruki Murakami, which is a photographic translation of Murakami’s novel Kafka on the Shore, featuring images from around Hokkaido, Japan.
I hadn’t read any of Murakami’s books before, and discovered that his storytelling was built around narratives of loneliness and angst, and these themes are often set against backdrops that are dream-like and surreal. Pamela’s images tap into this concept, presenting pictures that are disconcerting in their banality and slightly unkempt, evoking feelings of unbelonging and transition.
pamela pianezza – chasing haruki murakami – 3
pamela pianezza – chasing haruki murakami – 5
A second series is Far From the Madding Crowd. It’s peaceful and quiet and she says, taken as “an attempt to escape, for a few hours, the rollicking, pulsating and exhausting atmosphere of film festivals, where I spend a big part of my life…”
pamela pianezza – far from the madding crowd 14
pamela pianezza – far from the madding crowd 12
“I’ve always made some money with my pictures: I sell pictures to magazines; I’ve been working as a theatre photographer for 7 years… So it would be great if that part of my job, which isn’t the most personal part, could grow to become a bigger source of income. As for my personal projects, I want to keep a complete freedom in term of subject, methods and timing.”
pamela pianezza – far from the madding crowd 5
“I’ve the conviction that it’s not the camera that makes the photographer. I’ve been fighting about that a lot with one of my friend who doesn’t take seriously people who don’t have a huge camera. Of course, for my assignments, I need a strong and reliable camera, so I use a good Nikon reflex with very bright lenses, since I like to work in natural low light.
“But let’s be honest, you can’t have that kind of camera with you all the time and I like to take pictures every day. So my life changed when I get a Fuji X100, which is the perfect camera for me: it’s discreet, light, and with a prime lens. I hate zooms. I’m completely lost with them.
“I’m also very found of iphoneography and I think Instagram is a great thing if you use it as a tool for your photographic diary.”
pamela pianezza – far from the madding crowd 2
pamela pianezza – far from the madding crowd 9
Surrounded by film and images in her everyday worklife, it is obvious that Pamela has a myriad choice of influences, and she admits it is a hard question for her to answer. In general terms, her loves are documentary photography, foto povera and film noir, but there are some special people at the top of her long list.
“Raymond Depardon will forever be the love of my photographic life. I thought it would pass with time but it doesn’t. The way he adds intimacy to the very universal stories he tells is just amazing. How he can jump from a remote village to the halls of the presidential palace… He’s a chameleon. These days, I’ve been reading and rereading his book, Le Desert Américain.
She also loves Rinko Kawauchi, who she says “could find poetry in a trash can”, and Daniel Challe for his poetic vision of daily life. There are contemporaries and friends, Ivan Ikic and Pierre Morel, and of course there are filmmakers – David Lynch for his oniric visions, and Jacques Tourneur for his most mysterious movies Cat People, and Vaudou.
Many others have taught Pamela many things and helped her get to where she is today. “Reza showed me how to physically behave and move with a camera. He has a mix of confidence and discretion that comes with an incredible elegance. Sébastien Calvet, one the best French political photographers, showed me how to find the right distance to your subject, which also means to find the right aperture for you. In my case it’s more or less f:4. That was one of the greatest discoveries of my life. Ed Lachman taught me to look at everything that moves me and wonder why. Why do I like the way those things look? Where does the light come from? Why is there a reflection? He also told me the best way to improve your work is to identify the most inspiring people for you and to find a way to meet them. If you understand them so well, there’s a big chance they will understand you too.”
You can find more of Pamela’s work on her website cargocollective.com/pamelapianezza. She is also the creator and editor of Tess Magazine, dedicated to film and culture.
Baptiste Riethmann is a Swiss-born, French-speaking photographer who has travelled the world and is currently living in Mexico City. There, he runs a small coffee shop and cafe, where occasionally he exhibits his collected images on the walls. And he admits he’s starting to get itchy feet again.
“I came to Mexico for first time in 2006 with my bike and a book to learn Spanish but I left my camera in Switzerland (the most stupid thing I’ve done in my life). I felt in love with that country, with that culture. It’s so full of contrasts! I have returned twice and now I’ve been living here for four years (and begin to miss travelling).”
baptiste reithmann – architecture
Contrast is in plentiful supply in Baptiste’s images. Dark, moody and still, his compositions are rich in delicate details, but filled with strong forms and punctuated by bright colours and gritty textures.
He also admits that TheDarkSideOfTheRoom was probably not the best choice for the name of his photography biz, but says it was chosen because he was listening to a Pink Floyd track on the radio at the time.
baptiste reithmann – door
baptiste reithmann – door
“I had never sold any photography before but when I exhibited my work in the coffee shop, many people told me they liked it. My girlfriend told me about Etsy so I opened a shop on January 2013 (and sold my first picture three weeks later). Like many artists I would like to be able to live from my artistic work, but for the moment there is still not enough opportunity. At the moment I have the coffee shop and in the past I had various jobs – I worked in a hospital, in carpentry, archaeology, in a ski station and many other things.”
baptiste reithmann – fishermans hand
As a self-taught photographer, Baptiste is wary of identifying other photographers whose works have been a direct influence on his own, although his list of those he admires is long. “I don’t want to copy the ideas from others so I don’t really want to know who or what inspires me, I’m afraid to lose my creativity! But in photography, my favourite artist would be William Klein, I love his black and whites and the graphic concept of his pictures but what I admire depends a lot of my mood.”
baptiste reithmann – landscape
“I started taking photographs when I was 18 on a trip to London with a friend, but I’ve always been fascinated by art, writing, painting, music. I spent my childhood observing everything, inside and outside of me, for instance how do sounds or colours affect me. I liked to give colours to numbers or to a day of the week.”
“My father was a graphic designer and my grandfather was passionate about photography and painting. Even if they never directly taught me about art, I’m sure I’ve been influenced by seeing them working, looking at the material they used, the brushes, the old cameras, the darkroom smell and everything else.”
baptiste reithmann – light and snow
baptiste reithmann – lines and curves
baptiste reithmann – street san cristobal de casas – portrait of woman and dog
“One of my favorite pieces of work is a series of five photographs showing a child and a trash can in San Cristóbal de las Casas (Chiapas, Mexico). It was the end of the afternoon and I had only five pictures more on the negative film. I sat down and began to think about how my eyes were influenced by my Swiss culture. I saw that this trash can that wasn’t in its right position and thought I was probably the only one disturbed by those kind of details. I took a picture of it to remember that idea and suddenly the child appeared and put the trash can back in its vertical position. He just completed my thought and I realized that each moment of capturing those images has something so magical, you’re totally present and that can transform the reality.”
baptiste reithmann – san cristobal – boy & trashcan series
His best piece of advice? “Be your own Sun!”
You can find more of Baptiste’s work in his Etsy Shop, DarkSideOfTheRoom.
Caryn Drexl has two lives. During the day, she describes herself like this : “While my images might tend to create a specific image of the type of person I might be, I’m actually pretty bubbly and light-hearted. Goofy even. I’m always trying to make people laugh.”
caryn drexl – the memory collector
But at night, her photographs are filled with mystery and bugs. Sitting somewhere between the surreal and the whimsically romantic, her images swim in subdued colour, mist and shadows. Faces of girls in lace or insects. Eating hair, wearing dead birds, drinking cups of tea. They speak of half-remembered dreams; they are visceral, sensual, equal parts horror and seduction.
Caryn’s photographs are often self portraits because “I’m the only one available at 3am when things are quiet and I’m alone with my head, and certain pesky ideas are getting louder.” and, “Other times my ideas seem a little too cruel to do to other people.”
caryn drexl – a jewel
caryn drexl – I know the pieces fit
caryn drexl – dirty pretty things
Her ideas come from many places. “Everywhere. Everything. Sometimes I sit down and look at old paintings online for a few hours. Old photos from the 20s through to the 50s. Sometimes I’m in the hardware store and something weird jumps out at me and I think “that would look awesome on someone’s head!” Or I’ll be window shopping online and I’ll notice a pretty dress and get a flash in my head of it moving a certain way and something grows from that. Often it’s just random. One second I’m chasing the dog around the couch and the next second there is an idea in my head that seems to have come from nowhere. And every once in a while I’m on flickr or tumblr or deviantart, looking at other people’s work, and I’ll see something I’m kinda grumpy I didn’t think of first, and from there, instead of abandoning the idea of ever doing it myself because “it’s already been done”, I figure out how to make the idea mine. Of course I don’t mean stealing, because I would never, intentionally, repeat someone else’s idea down to every last detail. I just figure out what I like about it, and how I can incorporate that into something that’s more my *mine*.”
Her titles for images are as loose as the inspiration for the pictures themselves. “I, for the most part, don’t want people to worry about what I mean, but to pay the most attention to what the image says to them. At the same time though there are times where there is something I’m trying to convey, or something specific I had in mind, so I kinda, sorta, try to hint at that through the title in hopes that it won’t be overlooked completely. I come up with every idea differently, I approach every image differently, so my hopes and expectations are always different. I want the title to hint at something, if there is something to be hinted at, but to also remain vague, in case there isn’t something I need to hint at, or just so that my “message” doesn’t smack someone in the face.” And, “Thesaurus.com is my good friend.”
caryn drexl – current ledger
caryn drexl – head full of roses
Caryn is a self-taught photographer working out of her home in sunny Florida. She openly admits that “Everything I know I learned through trial and error or the internet.” Although she loves the look of film, and does own some vintage cameras, for practicality she prefers working with digital images. And no big cameras either, “I have girly little hands and a dislike for big heavy cameras that’ll break my wrist or my neck, so the littler ones suit me well.”
Her love of photography started when she was about 10. After returning from a family vacation, she discovered that she had taken the only properly exposed images out of everyone. Having other photographers in the family meant that this was an admirable feat, and she was so excited about her success, she went on to take a bunch more shots. Candidly describing these next ones as “crap”, Caryn says she stopped taking photos for several years, despite continuing to claim she’d be a photographer when she grew up.
caryn drexl – little red wolf
She picked up image-making again as a teenager, by experimenting with self portraits via a scanner, and then via a webcam. “All these images would immediately be put online, included in the online journal I kept. The positive response I got spurred me on, and things just grew from there.”
“Around 21 I got my first film camera, and though it was fully automatic, and I loved it, it was still frustrating because I had grown too accustomed to instant gratification. At 22 I started stealing my then “mother-in-law’s” 2mp digital fuji and that was when I really started to set up little shoots and “create”, so to speak. It was still mostly self portraits, though friends and family would participate too. At 23 a nikon d100 was bought for me and that’s when it all really started.”
caryn drexl – nose dive 2
caryn drexl – the remains of the day
caryn drexl – you don’t sing to me any more
“One day, when I’m older, I hope I can have a show that includes a self portrait from every year, age 15 on. Lastly, because of most of what I’ve said already, I consider myself an artist the internet made. It molded me and propelled me farther than I would have gone without the resources and support system it gave me. I am still not the best technical photographer, the way I started out kind of ruined me a little in that way, but at the same time I feel it allowed me to go where I wanted to with my ideas without any fear. I try my damnedest to hold onto that, regardless of what progression I’ve made.”
You can find more of Caryn’s mysteries in her Etsy shop, CarynDrexl.
Steve Raley’s first camera was given to him at around age 2 or 3, but it wasn’t an encouraging experience. “I was given what was supposedly a “toy” camera but it was actually a working model. It was taken away from me shortly after I received it because I kept taking photos without advancing the film, resulting in multiple, multiple exposures. Not an auspicious beginning I’m afraid.”
photogrunt – red poppies against a wall
photogrunt – early spring
His big turning point came in high school when he enrolled in a photography class, and his father subsequently gave him his Argus C44R 35mm rangefinder camera; he didn’t look back. After finishing school and joining the Marine Corps, he spent much of his 20 years there working as a photographer – official portraits, accident investigations, photo spreads for print publications, award presentations and whatever else was needed. After leaving the Marines, his interest in photography dwindled, until one day he realised that it was actually an important part of his life, and he missed it. So he bought himself another camera, and got started again.
photogrunt – dr seuss flowers (clematis seed heads)
photogrunt – Marie
Despite the wide ranging subject matter (everything from delicate blossoms to urban architecture), there are many aspects that tie his style together. Images may be sometimes bold and majestic, sometimes tender, but always there is a sense of strong composition, often with striking diagonals and/or steep perspective. Texture and light are essential components in his images. Black and white photography is his preferred mode, and when colour is used, it is purposeful.
He looks to luminaries such as Ansel Adams for inspiration. “I don’t try to emulate his work but his images have always inspired me. A second photographer would be one most people would not be familiar with. Josef Scaylea was a photographer with the Seattle Times newspaper for many years. He did news photography, of course, but was primarily noted for his feature and landscape photography. I have always admired his “eye” and his technique.”
photogrunt – rotary grocery
photogrunt – engine no.529
Steve still has a normal “day job” in Information Technology as a Systems Administrator for an independent school. He started his Etsy shop with his wife’s encouragement, after she saw other photographers having success there.
When I asked Steve if there was something curious or quirky about himself that he would be willing to share, he replied, “I asked my wife that question and she said, “Well, I love it that I can just look at you and laugh, so there must be something quirky about you.” No word on what exactly that quirky something is, but it must be funny.”
photogrunt – west valley barn
photogrunt – mt rainier looking east
photogrunt – edison slough
His best piece of advice? “There are so many, but the one that pops immediately to mind is, “Always look both ways before crossing a street.” It’s good advice and on the face of it quite simple, but with a little imagination it can be applied to so many other things in life besides avoiding oncoming vehicles.”
You can find lots more of Steve’s photography in his Etsy shop, PhotoGrunt, and on his own website, www.eyepiphany.com.
Inspired by light first and foremost, the images of Kim Hayes are dramatic and beautiful. Strong compositions with graceful lines evoke a sense of peace and expansive space.
kim hayes – a far away place
Landscape and travel photography are her first loves, but it is her day job as a wedding photographer that has given her the resources to follow her passion. “Bills have to be paid!” as she says. She has been photographing weddings for many years, and even though it isn’t her first choice, is grateful that it has still allowed her to make money with her camera.
Photographing the landscape is an escape from the everyday grind. “When working for yourself, sometimes you just need to get out of the house, so most of my work has been created while on a break from editing weddings. Also, I get to travel to really beautiful places for weddings, so I do some landscape photography on the road.”
kim hayes – golden field
Kim has been hooked on photography ever since high school. When she left school, she shot in film and spent time in the darkroom for around 10 years before enrolling in the Art Institute of Seattle and (hesitantly) learning the digital side of photography.
Although occasionally using Photoshop to enhance and layer her images, most of the time what you see is what you get. For Kim, a good photograph starts with light. “There has to be good light! The rest comes after that. I also often use a tilt shift lens which gives some of my photographs that dreamy look. I love it, but try not to overdo it.”
kim hayes – the storm
One of her personal favourite images is The Storm. “It was taken right down the street from my house at Picnic Point in Lynnwood, WA. It was snowing so hard that day, the clouds were dramatic, and it was just before sunset. My husband and I thought it would be cool to go down to the water to see if it was snowing on the beach.
There is something about being on the water during a storm that makes me feel alive, with the wind whipping wildly around my face.
The image itself has had very little adjustment to it- just a little contrast adjustment and that was about it, so what you see is what we saw that day. It was totally surreal and beautiful.”
kim hayes – twisted
kim hayes – with grace in our hearts
“I admire and am inspired by so many other artists, sometimes those artists change daily. I love that we live in a world where we have unlimited access to beautiful things on the internet. I do a lot of browsing on the web when I need a distraction from work, so I get a lot of inspiration from random clicks on my computer.” However, she says her biggest influence is music. “I love the way a song can make you feel and change your mood in a second. I’m always listening while working, so the music often dictates how the final image comes out.”
“My favourite artists include Laurent Chehere (check out the flying house series), Keith Carter, Pakayla Biehn … this list could go on forever. Musically inspired by: Jonsi, The Lonely Forest, Radical Face, Bon Iver… this list could go on forever too.”
Despite her passion for photography, she admits it wasn’t an easy thing to put her work out there for public scrutiny.
“Early on I had a hard time getting my business started and had trouble motivating myself to put the work out there. I did a lot of stalling and questioned if I was even good enough to make this a life long business. An old roommate of mine said something that has always stuck with me: “Why don’t you just start now? Just do something, because right now you aren’t doing anything” It seems so simple but I remind myself of that almost every single day- you have to start somewhere. Use what you have, do what you can, create things you love…and hopefully the rest will follow. ”
kim hayes – workspace (with office assistant)
She describes herself as “a bit of a hermit and a crazy dog lady.” She has also recently been exploring the world of silver smithing and jewellery design. “It’s fun to dive into something totally new, it keeps things fresh.”
You can find more of Kim’s landscape photography in her shop KimHayes.bigcartel.com , and her wedding and dog photography at kimhayesphotography.com.
Since Jessica Reiss started getting serious about her photography, she has been taken aback by the response. “I honestly never expected to sell anything! My shop has been open for a little under a year now. I have 100 sales, have had my work on several different blogs, a movie set and a TV show set. Never in my wildest dreams could I have expected to get this far all within a year!”
It’s not surprising. Her images are quiet and thoughtful, and have a lovely sense of realness about them; there is nothing pretentious or manipulated, just good compositions with a lean towards minimalism. Architecture, colour, symmetry and patterns are her loves, and the details that are found in the everyday.
jessica reiss – church door – new zealand
jessica reiss – windows – sydney
jessica reiss – flatiron
Jessica already has a full time career as a pediatric speech language pathologist, so photography is just a hobby for her. She had long been interested, but only ever had a ‘point-and-shoot’, and it wasn’t until her husband gave her a camera for her birthday a few years back that she became more focused on collecting images. Her husband also become more interested and started taking pictures too, and even though they now have a second camera, they still share lenses.
“My husband and I would go on long walks around our neighborhood and take pictures all of the time. I would post some of them on social network sites and share them with my family. Everyone kept saying how they loved my pictures, and that I should try to sell them. So, I decided to give it a try. I originally opened an Etsy shop in 2011 when I first got my camera, but quickly realized that I did not have the time to commit to it. Then, in February of 2013, I decided that I would try it again and put in the time and effort.”
jessica reiss – chairs – NYC restaurant
jessica reiss – hikers on a mountain – Edinburgh
jessica reiss – blue mountains – australia
jessica reiss – vineyard – new zealand
Now Jessica takes the camera everywhere with her, and had a fabulous time on their trip to Australia and New Zealand during their honeymoon last year. The colours and textures are perfectly evocative of what it’s really like here.
I for one am looking forward to seeing what else she find during her travels.
jessica reiss – windows – melbourne
You can find more of Jessica’s photography in her Etsy shop, jessicareisspix, and on her Facebook page, JessicaReissPhotography.