My journey into film has just started.
Tired of hauling the digital beast around.
Committing to film for an entire summer?! Ahhhhh
My journey into film has just started.
Tired of hauling the digital beast around.
Committing to film for an entire summer?! Ahhhhh
A good opportunity or a cash cow? You will hear responses all over the spectrum but I think the overall consensus is that people just want an audience for their work. Understandable but is photography contests the way to go? What is the the overhead costs of having one?
Not much. You have to truly consider what you will receive if you are selected - an exhibition? A shout out on the website? A congratulatory email? A cash prize? I hate to be so technical but if you break down the cost then here is what happens -
National Geographic just closed their photographer of the year contest on May 31st. The prizes range from a trip abroad to cash prizes (this year is $10,000 for first place). All taxable mind you! The magazine will print your entry in an upcoming publication and will post it via web and social media.
Sounds wonderful. How many entries are you competing with? With $15 entry fee per photo I would say at least 100,000 photos are submitted. Do the math - 100,000 x 15 = 1.5 million dollars gross profit for Nat Geo. They not only have a 'Photographer of the Year' they also have 'Travel Photographer, Nature Photographer' and on and on it goes. Millions upon millions in entry fees. With those figures 10,000 sounds like a tiny prize. I can say with confidence I have not heard of anyone making it big with winning - only obtaining bragging rights.
If your aim is to get published there are other avenues to explore. Be selective. These contests provide very little in return and can burn a deep hole in your pocket. Whatever you end goal is make sure that the contest fits in it. Do not play into the hype. In the end, if you do not win, the publication is getting the attention and clicks - not you.
Thank goodness I ended my European tour in this city. The weather and the sun were a blessing. Every single city was cold up to that point - I was over it.
My sister hated Paris, loved Barcelona and I 100% agree. Why?
Maybe it is the colors. The city's colors are vibrant, the architecture is so different. In many European cities the building's architecture starts to duplicate - you will get tired of it quickly. Paris, Budapest, and Prague you will see numerous similarities. In Barcelona, you will see no such thing. I spent more time looking up at the buildings than doing my normal people watching. I am convinced that I could really grow as an artist in Spain. Picasso even said he grew so much from working in Spain despite spending most of his career in Paris. If you have a chance to go - visit his museum! No pictures are allowed but it is totally worth it. I spent nearly three hours there and it was not nearly enough time.
Everyone is friendly. Limited English skills but they are very patient and you can manage. You will hear a lot of warnings about pickpockets - 'best in the world' I was told. No ubers and cabs are very expensive. Stick to the bus and being on foot.
My photos of the buildings may or may not do the city justice. However, here is some lovely snaps of tourists and residents.
Ai Wei Wei has an entire book filled with his online rants. Quite thick. I have not taken the time to read it (I am sure it will be interesting), but in recent years I have chosen to say less and observe more. It may be the effects of taking photos. Trying to stay invisible. It rarely works - I get asked a slew of questions by strangers quite often.
I think he [AIWW] has shown a unique side to himself, but his dialogue has been catered to appeal to a unique audience. In the past he has continuously discussed his fierce opposition to the Chinese government and political policies in general. For a country with billions of people, that can create a problem for those in power. His words have made him more popular than his art. He does not create the art himself (assistants, lots and lots of assistants) and has stated that he makes the work simple so that anyone can re-create it. It would be fair to say he is more of a celebrity or cult personality than anything. His life journey and experiences are more interesting than anything.
Ai Wei Wei recently held an Art Talk in Chicago to promote his new book and exhibition Trace. The man is quite goofy and silly. The person these serious 'art folks' are trying to portray is very unrealistic. Ai Wei Wei is not trying to start a political revolution or overthrow a system - he is sharing his thoughts, ideas, and life experiences and his are experiences resonate with millions. One must be wonder how, decades later, humanity is still facing the problems that Wei experienced at a young age? It is clear he focuses on the topics in his work simply not out of curiosity, but because they are part of who he is. Despite his struggles, he comes off as someone who is happy, humble, and grateful. American society spends significant amount of time arguing over topics that are irrelevant. Our actions towards humanity will be the only thing we will be remembered for.
America is so different and so bizarre. People are encouraged to speak their minds but rarely does anyone listen. No one has ever come up with a viable solution that can dissolve a problem. When you can profit off of people's opposition and anger, why would you strive to make an actual difference? Americans strive for action that benefits themselves and rarely think of how this could help their community.
I blame the ideology of capitalism. I often ask friends what would they do if they were suddenly blessed with a significant fortune. They can never give me a straight-forward answer. What would you do with all of the money? Honestly? Even a life of leisure has its limits. Ask someone in America for something that does not benefit them - you will quickly realize what type of person they are.
Paris is a gloomy place. Photogenic, but gloomy. The atmosphere is rather eerie and it is anything but romantic.
The first city in Europe Americans will name is Paris. You can thank 'We will always have Paris' and 'American in Paris' for that. I could fall in love with the city if it was my first European stop, but being a seasoned traveler that was not the case.
The French are not rude, they are just obsessed with being French. It was surprising they are not curious about any visitors and their English skills are very limited. Very polite but again, no interest in speaking English or learning about you.
Another thing - want to take their picture? No, thank you. Be sneaky and be prepared to be confronted by someone who catches you. I did not find myself in that situation and I hardly took any photos. Paris is such a love/hate relationship. I did not get that warm feeling but perhaps on another visit. I will come back to visit the Paris Opera. Paris, I am bored with you but I am not done with you.
No Words. Only - I need this hat.
Amsterdam is the European Chicago. Well, almost.
Never go in the winter. I experienced a cold I have never felt before. It was so unbearable I bought another North Face. The city has a canal that runs through it so that breeze will leave you helpless at any given moment. My goodness.
What makes it worse is that I had not seen the worst of it. Yikes.
Not a fan of bikers? Stay home. Bikes are EVERYWHERE. The most efficient way to get around is to have a bike. Cars cannot fit in many of the narrow streets. How can anyone find anything? The buildings are so homogeneous I constantly got lost. Ack!
This city is home to the infamous FOAM Amsterdam - one of the most prestigious photography institutions in Europe. I was lucky enough to attend an opening of Lucas Foglia - Human Nature. What a victory if I could have my work exhibited there.
The residents are the most friendly people you will ever meet. I recall visiting a wine store and reviewing a pamphlet in Dutch. The shop owner asks if I wanted him to translate it for me. Repeated visits to retail stores was frustrating as the security bars kept beeping when I entered. One associate said she was concerned for me and asked if she could help. I have never experienced this in the states. Have you?
Everyone speaks English so communication was a breeze. In Germany where cash is king, Amsterdam is all about the plastic.
I took very little photos. Too cold. Not too many people out. No one was standoffish about it but I was taking the time to enjoy my surroundings rather than consistently having a camera in front of my face. I was lucky enough to snap this one:
I am at a lost for words on how I can explain why I like Berlin. If you are looking 'charm' and 'European' style architecture you will not find much of it here. WWII left the city in ruins, but Berlin through culture art, and its residents is pushing themselves into the new age.
Berlin is not stuck in the past visually and culturally like Paris or Prague. Any emerging artist should jump at the opportunity to showcase their talent here. The C/O Berlin's exhibition on Meyerowitz is a prime example of how serious they take art. I stayed in the charming neighborhood of Kreuzberg known for its prestigious art galleries and social clubs. Yes, I am talking about the infamous Kit Kat Club. Once the place closes down at 8 AM any local will gladly take you to another club that will be open till 11 AM. Party on.
Germans are not fond of credit cards so be sure to take cash with you. I found a Burger King that would not even accept credit cards. Are Germans friendly? Yes, once they get to know you. They are consistent in their charms and behaviors. Blunt and succinct, but are open to hear about your thoughts and perspectives. Finding someone who speaks English can be tough so be prepared for some humorous interactions.
Many shops are closed on various days and the city itself virtually shuts down on Sundays. The mall is not even open! I told my Uber driver and he was stunned when I said American Malls are only closed one day a year. Germans work hard but they firmly believe in rest.
I am not a huge fan of ISO but my photos this leg of the trip had other plans. ISO can give a photo a little more character and a somewhat film effect to the final products. Agree or Disagree? Take a look and send me your thoughts!
Two Takeaways -
A city with visual color and warmth. Old. A scene. Tourists everywhere.
Prague, Czech Republic. A little like Budapest but not quite.
The locals are a mix bag - the men exert their dominance or the woman will sass anyone who crosses them. On the other hand, I encountered some locals that were very kind and friendly. For winter there tourists EVERYWHERE. The city is on the water and for the time of year it was surprisingly not frigid. One unique activity I did manage to fit in was a houseboat party on the river. The club was open till 8 AM and some locals came to the club alone. Women even. I do not know anyone who would do that in the states.
I was not wild about my Airbnb. You definitely need to be cautious when booking accomodations abroad. It was cheap (25 dollars a night!) but the place was much more run down than I expected. I could barely see when trying to get ready each morning! I have a small obsession with my hair. HA!
Meat lovers - this is your spot. Any type of meat + potatoes. The staple cuisine. Ick, please bring me a salad.
I STILL cannot get over people will make reservations for tables at coffee shops! Ah...and then the staff will reserve the best table. Sigh.
I have no tips, no pointers, nada. Enjoy. Bridges that are built in the 11th century...colors everywhere. Visit the local art galleries. Get lost in the gothic quarter. Dance. Watch the sunrise.
Take it all in. You will miss when it is time to go.
I never posted about this but I just discovered it. I attended an event around Murakami's exhibition last fall with 400 guests. My Instagram was featured in the post. Yippee!
From the MCA:
On June 22, we welcomed more than 400 of our friends from the Instagram community when we again paired with @igerschicago to bring the world of Takashi Murakami to the social media masses. We welcomed Instagrammers from throughout Chicago to an empty MCA so they could explore the galleries freely. We also provided Murakami merch for selfies, MCA artist-guided tours, and a special all-MCA Bingo game—post 5 photos in a stack post relating to the series of clues to get a Bingo—with photo-focused prizes from the MCA Store. Below are some of our favorites. Follow Instagramers Chicago to find out about their next meet.
No new post this year - A shame I know but I have been around the world. I have always wanted to take a large European trip and I managed to have time to pursue it. My first stop was Vienna or Wien in German.
I am not sure why I believed it would be warmer - it is still winter after all. I did not pack heavier clothing as I would have liked but it is difficult to do so when you have a long trek ahead of you. When I left the city [Chicago] the weather was fifty degrees and tolerable. Wien had a relentless cold wind that would not let up - along with some rain and snow. My body went into complete shock the first day.
I was also unsure what to do - the people of course are hibernating cause of the weather but tourist attractions are few and far in between. Austrians are exceptionally nice,curious, and I had a few brief chats with the locals. The city itself is exceptionally clean - I am sure I never saw a piece of parchment ever on the street. A world of difference from Budapest on trash day!
Austria is the home of Gustav Klimt so I made sure to visit the Belvedere Museum to see the infamous 'The Kiss'. Underwhelming. I have a small obsession with the color gold at the moment and the painting was not as vibrant as I expected. Like the Mona Lisa it is encased in glass (bulletproof?) making it hard to get close and examine it. The Museum grounds were beautiful and it is such a peaceful city to stroll at all hours. No matter how many side streets I explored I always seem to end up in the same spot within the city centre. While the city did not have the excitement I was craving I do believe I would give it a second visit in the warmer months. After eavesdropping on some artists on the train in Berlin, Austria is very supportive of emerging artists. Oh really? I will have to investigate this a tad more.
It would be a tragedy if I traveled all the way to Hungary and not visit the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center. Their special exhibition titled 'Capa in Israel' documented his experience in the newly formed Jewish State from 1948 -1950. The showcase was small but the selection of images accurately depicted the struggles and emotions of families starting a new life in an unknown environment. When I review photographs I am generally drawn to raw or captivating moments. These are the types of things I like to convey in my own work. I rarely prioritize technical aspects as I believe a photograph can be fascinating and have these elements missing. Take a look at Eugene Atget's work if you do not believe me.
This exhibition visit was out of my routine - I often go solo but this time I was accompanied by another photographer based in New York. My exhibition buddy admires Capa strong composition and framing. I was surprised by him mentioning that Capa took into account the smallest details when taking photographs - something I never do. From number of port holes in the frame ( see below - he captured all three and centered them perfectly) to the depth of field I started to finally grasp my understanding of these technical elements. In order to accomplish this, it is important for a photographer to wait for moments to organically present themselves rather than catch subjects 'in the act'. It is clear that Capa did the former while I tend to gravitate to the latter. For the remainder of the trip I decided to take the 'Capa Approach' to everything - frame the shot and wait for moments to organically happen in front of me.
I have been in a serious rut for some time. My photos were not progressing and the season change has made the city mundane and the residents sluggish. At a total loss of how to improve, an acquaintance suggested taking a short trip to Europe. I agreed and off I went. Some people suggested I was mad to go off and meet a stranger in a foreign country. No issue for me - I just wanted to take photos from someone who was farther along in their craft. He is far more advance in his technical skills which can be seen in his . His superior composition and artistic skills are evident in his work partially due to his educational and professional background. If I could say one advantage of going to art school is definitely the discipline they provide you from long studio hours and peer critiques.
When I first arrived I initially freaked out - driving into the city I felt I was in a time warp - a 1980s - 1990s Soviet Union time warp (I found out later the country was occupied until 1990). I will not admit how it has been since I have been to Europe, but I forgot they are not into frills, large elevators, or making tons of small talk. Overall everyone was nice and I ran into no problems. Taking pictures on the streets was a breeze except for the old woman on the bridge who was offended by my camera pointing in her general direction (from 30 ft away) - she yelled in Hungarian and flipped me off. When I approached I tossed the grumpy bird some coins after she shook her cup at me. Only negative interaction that I had.
Overall the trip was a success. My travel companion helped me master night shots and long exposures -something I never done before. What is even more important that I learned more of the mechanics of how my camera functions. Sounds ridiculous I know but nothing like trial, error, and several amazing shots missed that you push yourself to do better. I am very lucky to find someone with the time and patience to help me through this process. Within 24 hours we were already planning our next excursion. Maybe Hong Kong or Europe again? Who knows. Stay Tuned.
Here are some few travel tips if you are planning on visiting soon -
Use cards or Forint
Retail shops and restaurants they take either Euros or Hungarian Forint. The shops prefer Forint so just go with that. The airport will convert your money with no commission (you can find places in the city that will as well)
Book an Airbnb
You are going to Europe so leave your high standards for luxury at home. Yes you can find a 5 star hotel but you will be so busy it is a total waste of money. This trip calls for the basic 'SSS' accommodations 'Sleep, Sh-t, and Shower' and that is all you need.
If you are picky about your hotels and on a budget, I suggest you find an Airbnb. Some will be as low as $10 per night for an entire apartment (yes, you read that correctly) and they are very comfortable. My host provided detailed instructions on how to get there as well a 'things to do' list
No, Budapest gets numerous travelers from Europe - especially from France, England, and Italy. You may not be able to have a conversation about the universe but you can get to point A to B fairly easily.
Fantastic. I am not big on 'food' or a 'foodie' (I am a size 00. Food is the devil) but take the time to find some good places to eat. You will not regret it. Definitely check out Cafe Central Ez Bizstro. One staple you will find is duck on almost any menu. If you are not a fan now you will be once you leave. I would stay away from duck liver but then again it is all about preference.
I did not take as many pictures as I anticipated. I realize now I rather go home with 5 amazing shots than 20 so-so ones. On the other hand, what may be so-so to a viewer may be some of my favorites.
Remember, you are in Europe. Unlike the States if you buy a glass of wine and chill for 8 hours no one would bat an eye. If you are in a hurry, then do not bother to be seated as they will get offended if you rush them. Try to be patient. Service is included in most bills (10-12%) and you will have to order (sometimes more than once) everything including water. Alcohol is cheap: 3-7 dollars for a drink but if you are on a tight budget Budapest is open container. Woo!
Public Bath Houses
Ah, yes. The infamous bath houses. Again, not the peak of luxury. I can only speak of the one I visited behind the Gellert Hotel and it was not glamorous. The set up is quite confusing and it is hard to communicate to the staff that you are a foreigner who has no idea what is going on. If you bring valuables then definitely get a private changing room as they are electronically locked with your bracelet. Bring towels and a swim cap if you would like to use the swimming pool. In the summer the entire outdoor deck is open but only one was open for winter. Just try to relax, ignore the smells, and you will walk out refresh and happy.
The art critic who would find an issue with just about anything - from the air he breathes to the sun in the sky.
After reading his appalling review of Yayoi Kusma's Infinity Mirrors at the Broad, Mr. Knight struck again by popping up in another article in ArtNews. Initially I was convinced his criticism fell only in the spectrum of Kusama but was relieved to know that no one is safe from his succinct insults on Contemporary Art. His latest gripe was with Adrián Villar Roja 's show at the Geffen Contemporary Space in Little Tokyo. Replicating art pieces Rojas utilizes these elements to demonstrate a relationship between art and space. A few questions are considered : How would viewers move through the space? How can the space be modified to accommodate the art? What items should be moved and what can stay in its original place? Rojas' objective is to provide a visual timeline of how a space begins and ends - the creation, the preservation, and decomposition. Will the art or the space survive? What should we draw our focus to? Diaoism describes this with water - strong, yet weak. Able to conform and change based on its environment. While the space can change and survive the movement of the art, the art itself (as seen with the Bicycle sculpture) cannot survive without human intervention.
There is hardly any art critics that will be bold enough to express their disappointment for not one but two exhibitions in 9 days. Knight seems to not be fond of work that challenges a viewer's ability to see the perspective of the artist. Work with extensive technical requirements are more his bread and butter. Contemporary Artists from his standpoint seem to provide no 'it' factor than their predecessors. One must wonder why he even bothers to attend the shows. A deadline perhaps? We all need to pay the bills by some means. A sticking point may be not the concept of the show but the fact that Rojas disagreed that Duchamp's work was not preserved in a manner that was 'respectful'.
Knight needs to start embracing the new era of Contemporary Art. The shift from technical masterpieces to work that invokes conversation may be considered trendy but relevant. Is it so scary that the possibility of Duchamp's work was relevant then and not now? His unwillingness to explore the topic is all too sad.
Adrián Villar Roja's "The Theater of Disappearance" is being held at Geffen Contemporary in Los Angeles now until May 13, 2018.
Adrián Villar Roja, "The Theater of Disappearance (detail)," 2017, mixed media Christopher Knight / Los Angeles Times
Traveling soon. I needed to make an account with United Airlines (I want points) and this security question came up:
Who is your favorite artist?
Well, this is new. No need to type in a name United Airlines had a whole list for your to choose from. The names fell into three categories - World Famous. I know who your work but not your name, and 'This is new. You just blew my mind.'
Let us talk about a few:
The work was nothing short of appalling - I nearly gagged on my Special K when staring at the image of a decapitated cow illustrating the circle of life in his piece titled ' A Thousand Years ' . When you get over the initial shock, you tend to wonder with these labor intensive pieces if he is going for a 'Ripley's Believe it or Not' effect or simply to impress his audience with preserved animals one would find on a farm or a child's petting zoo. Due to my rare use of color in my own work I cannot help but be drawn to his butterfly pieces, but still the thought of these creatures killed for the sake of art disturbs my morality. Hirst's lack of respect for all living things seems to have caught up to him - his current show has been met with scathing views and rightfully so. A dramatic shift from his shtick to capture a story of -- he could have [rather his assistants] have gotten a subtle him from a quick google search the idea would have generated lukewarm interest at best. It seems that Hirst confined himself in a box that would take significant effort to expand beyond it. His current exhibition proves he has much work to do. I doubt I would like to be forever known as a wealthy living artist who made his fortune on killing animals in which one would equate this behavior to sociopathic tendencies if he was a 13 year old boy.
I know him. Ai Wei Wei's exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago had a photo of Huan performing one of his pieces '12 Square Meters'. No question performance art has taken center stage in recent years thanks to some of the efforts of Marina Abramovic. Yes, there is hypocrisy in me praising Huan and shunning Hirst despite both using animals in their work. He does not go for the 'wow' factor but provides a powerful visual representation to his roots and the philosophies of Buddhism. Succinct I know but Huan is so complex it would take an entire novel to peel back the layers of accomplishments of this individual's work.
Who cannot appreciate meticulous sculptures on a grand scale with everyday objects? I love it. That is all that needs to be said.
Fun Fact: I read an absurd amount of publications every week. The Harvard Business Review just wrote a piece about how Photography can be used as an ice-breaker that can connect colleagues with one another. I could do all the talking but I think they explain it better than I can. Link here.
The transition to fall gets most people excited in the city for Blackhawks, football, and apple picking. I on the other hand am excited for one particular weekend in October and that is Open House.
You'd be surprised how many people in the city don't partake in the annual ritual or know anything about it. 48 hours (more like 16) to visit 200 sites where you can look up, down, and all around historical sites, skyscrapers, mesmerizing homes, and art studios. My intent was to get some inspiration and practice but instead I would say I got a little bit of spiritual awakening. I ventured to religious sites and I have never felt so comfortable in a church. One visit that stuck out was the Saints Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church in West Town. Every detail - including the color of Jesus' clothing to the entrance facing the West had a reason behind it. The staff and priest were very kind and inviting to all the visitors. We even got the opportunity to witness a Christening taking place.
The press always insist visitors should see Yale House and I made the effort this year to do so. I was underwhelmed when I first walked in but I warmed up to it as my visit progressed. A historical site that caters to elderly residents with canary yellow walls, high ceilings, and unique staircase makes it a wonder and very photogenic building.
I only saw a small number of sites due to the small time frame. No question I will have to be to be strategic next year - 16 hours is not a lot of time to see your short list. Even though I was exhausted by Sunday evening it is all well worth the effort.