New Yorker Article: On Photography and Loneliness

...if love belongs to the poet, and fear to the novelist, then loneliness belongs to the photographer. To be a photographer is to willingly enter the world of the lonely, because it is an artistic exercise in invisibility. In the course of its relatively brief history, photography (and, by extension, those who take photographs) has been accused repeatedly of constituting an act of predation, as if the street is a savannah and the person with a camera a large cat, silent and hungry, ready to sprint after its next meal. In reality, though, the person with the camera is not hiding but receding. She is willfully removing herself from the slipstream of life; she is making herself into a constant witness, someone who lives to see the lives of others, not to be seen herself. Writing is often assumed to be the loneliest profession, but solitude should not be confused for loneliness: one is a condition we choose, the other is a condition that is forced upon us. A writer creates a world, and she is the ruler of it; the photographer moves through the world, our world, hoping for anonymity, hoping she is able to humble herself enough to see and record what the rest of us—in our noisy perambulations, in our requests to be heard—are too present to our own selves to ever see. To practice this art requires first a commitment to self-erasure.
— Hanya Yanagihara, The New Yorker

Memorial and Photography

But when the photograph outlives the body — when people die, scenes change, trees grow or are chopped down — it becomes a memorial. And when the thing photographed is a work of art or architecture that has been destroyed, this effect is amplified even further. A painting, sculpture or temple, as a record of both human skill and emotion, is already a site of memory; when its only remaining trace is a photograph, that photograph becomes a memorial to a memory.
— Teju Cole, writer. "Memories of Things Unseen." NYTimes

An old friend from school whom I reconnected with two years ago shared this article. The quote above points to the core of why I love photography and the way I  practice the medium. Whether they are quiet pictures of interiors, God filled light basking the landscape, a portrait or a still life, I am cognizant of the fact that what is in front of my lens is temporary. That pause- that moment of realization weighs heavily on me to make sure the photographs I make or capture contain some depth of emotion or meaning before I press the shutter. So even when I view these pictures decades later, they still carry with it the meaningfulness of that fleeting moment and tugs at my spirit. 

A Conversation with Francisco at GRID Magazine PH

Santa Barbara, CA. 1994.

"What's a latte?" I asked my 19 year old cousin Francisco Guerrero as I had never had it in the 27 years of my existence. He was dumbfounded that he immediately instructed me to meet him at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on State street as soon as we hung up the phone. And so began our photography conversations over coffee. We usually finished our school assignments at the beginning of the week so we had plenty of time to sit and sip our lattes while having these long talks and musings  about our favorite photographers , the creative process, analyze why an image or a photo series excited or inspired us, monographs we've poured through at the library and some gear talk of course. We would do geeky things like "guess the exposure" in a certain spot and one of us verified it via the camera's exposure meter. 

Fast forward to 2015, I met Francisco in his office at GRID magazine HQ in Pasig.  He is now the Executive Editor for the magazine and a host for a travel show on CNN called What I See.  With cameras rolling, we had a great conversation sans the lattes but this time perhaps with much more insight and depth from the many years of life experiences  under our belts.  Here's a short clip. More of our conversation continues in GRID Magazine: Issue 11. Enjoy!

Medic: Jennifer B. Hudson

A good friend of mine wrote me last week and shared some grim news: Her mother was recently diagnosed with cancer just before Christmas. It came as a shock since we just saw each other nine months ago in Los Angeles and she looked well and at the prime of her life. As I was reflecting on this turn of events, I remember the book I bought last year which I've been meaning to write about.  It is Jennifer B. Hudson's book called Medic. I first saw the project through Photolucida and was instantly drawn to her work primarily because of the similarity to Robert & Shana Parke-Harrison's aesthetic. The sepia toned photographs are set in a sparse infirmary or laboratory with humans connected to or interacting with obsolete machines and unusual pieces of equipment through wires and suctions. The subjects appear tired with their bodies slumped over, heads bowed down, eyes closed-- others are lying on their backs peacefully asleep.  In between the photographs in the book are handwritten and typed notes containing vivid recollections of intimacy, feelings of regret and hopes for healing. There are no essays written about the work so I take it that these writings provide the cues and entry points to viewing her pictures. I do appreciate the open ended approach because there are so many questions when it comes to sickness and recovery. These carefully crafted photographs open up the conversation to these sensitive subjects. So as I peruse the book, I think about my friends mother and all those people I know who are battling an illness. It leaves me somber and reflective about life and mortality. 

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This Holiday Season: Let's Support Collect.Give

Three years ago during the Christmas holidays, The entire proceeds for the sale of After the Birthday Party print was donated to the Guidance Center. Thank you to a wonderful organization headed by Kevin Miyazaki called Collect.Give made this endeavor possible. This year, I encourage friends, families and supporters to buy prints and help other fellow artists give back to the causes they believe in. And if you made the purchase in the month of December, receive a free mini print from Collect.Give's Instagram feed! Several of us took turns guest posting for @collectdotgive and Kevin picked 4 artists to send buyers as a holiday thank you. You could receive a mini print by Jon Horvath, Elizabeth Fleming, Barbara Ciurej or Stella Kalaw.

Visit: COLLECT.GIVE

From @collect.give instagram feed. Top L-R: Jon Horvath, Stella Kalaw. Bottom L-R: Barbara Cieurej, Elizabeth Fleming

 

7th Fraction Magazine Annual Holiday Print Sale

Fraction Magazine is having their Annual Holiday Print Sale! Spearheaded by David Bram, HPS is on its 7th year and I am honored to be part of this endeavor. I am offering an 11x14 print for sale: 0928 Monte Cresta Trail, 2012. Richmond, CA is one of my favorites images taken one foggy morning during a summer hike two years ago. This is a wonderful opportunity to begin your art collection and to give as a gift to friends and loves ones.

You can purchase this print by visiting Fraction HPS.

Thank you very much!

0938 Monte Cresta Trail, 2012. Richmond, CA. 11 x 14, Chromogenic Print. Edition of 10. $175.00./ ©Stella Kalaw

0938 Monte Cresta Trail, 2012. Richmond, CA. 11 x 14, Chromogenic Print. Edition of 10. $175.00./©Stella Kalaw

Fallen Orange featured on Your Daily Photograph

For the month of November, my alma mater Brooks Institute and yourdailyphotograph.com by Duncan Miller Gallery in Los Angeles collaborated together to feature the works of students, alumni and faculty. Gallery Director Jesse Groves reached out in late October and invited me to join. On November 16th, the image Fallen Orange, 2007 from The House Remembered series was featured.

Yourdailyphotograph.com is an invaluable online resource for collectors of fine art photography. Each image is offered for sale for 24-hours or until the first collector contacts the gallery to purchase the print. Along side emerging artists, past YDP photographers featured were Henri Cartier-Bresson, Andreas Gursky, Richard Misrach, Andre Kertesz, Edward Burtynsky.

A huge thank you to writer Marianne Villanueva for inviting me to photograph her home and to collaborate with her on this series. Check out her blog: Kanlaon

Wandering 198

Last month, I rode my bike up and down Shattuck Avenue during the Sunday Street Berkeley event. The crowd was smaller compared to last years but I had fun nonetheless. I only wish this event happened more often and not just annually. I love seeing the kids outside playing- something of a rarity these days.

Sunday Streets. Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA/ ©Stella Kalaw

Sunday Streets. Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA/©Stella Kalaw

Sunday Streets. Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA/ ©Stella Kalaw

Sunday Streets. Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA/©Stella Kalaw

Sunday Streets. Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA/ ©Stella Kalaw

Sunday Streets. Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA/©Stella Kalaw

Wandering 197

The San Francisco Giants won its 3rd World Series this week and yesterday they had their celebration parade along Market Street. The rain drenched event did not dampen the spirit of the fans. They filled both sides of the street like the last two parades and waited for hours to see their players and cheer them on. I only had a short amount of time to photograph during my break so I captured mostly the anticipation, people waiting around and milling about. I thought the in between moments can also be quite interesting.

2014 SF Giants World Series celebration. Market Street, San Francisco, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

2014 SF Giants World Series celebration. Market Street, San Francisco, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

2014 SF Giants World Series celebration. Market Street, San Francisco, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

2014 SF Giants World Series celebration. Market Street, San Francisco, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

2014 SF Giants World Series celebration. Market Street, San Francisco, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

2014 SF Giants World Series celebration. Market Street, San Francisco, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

2014 SF Giants World Series celebration. Market Street, San Francisco, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

2014 SF Giants World Series celebration. Market Street, San Francisco, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

2014 SF Giants World Series celebration. Market Street, San Francisco, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

2014 SF Giants World Series celebration. Market Street, San Francisco, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

2014 SF Giants World Series celebration. Market Street, San Francisco, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

2014 SF Giants World Series celebration. Market Street, San Francisco, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

2014 SF Giants World Series celebration. Market Street, San Francisco, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

2014 SF Giants World Series celebration. Market Street, San Francisco, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

Family Spaces Exhibition at Dominican University of California

I am very happy to announce the exhibition of Family Spaces at the Dominican University of California in conjunction with the Filipino American Celebration month. A portion of the sales will be donated to the Philippine International Aid (PIA). Here are the details:

Exhibition Dates: October 1- December 19, 2014

Location: Mezzanine Floor, Archbishop Alemany Library

Address: Palm Avenue San Rafael, CA 94901

Phone: 415-485-3251

Hours:

Monday-Thursday 8:00am-12:00 midnight

Friday 8:00am-10:00pm

Saturday 9:00-9:00pm

Sunday 2:00pm-12:00 midnight


When a Photograph Stays with Me

Back when we were students at Brooks, my cousin Cisco invited me to come with him to a bookstore on State Street (the name escapes me now) and listen to National Geographic photographer Sam Abell. Not only were his photographs compelling, it was the way he eloquently spoke about his practice and described his pictures that really made an impression on me. Several years later, I bought his book Sam Abell: A Photographic Life and there is this one picture that never left my mind. It was this image:

Firth River Valley Yukon Territory, 1981/ ©Sam Abell

Firth River Valley Yukon Territory, 1981/©Sam Abell

It is a photograph of a patch of snow that accumulated in a tiny crevice in the soil on a dark stormy day. It is a very quiet image yet so powerful simply because he stopped and noticed it. All the elements came together in this picture: the light, the composition and the moment. It was captured with such thoughtfulness that it has this meditative quality to it.

A few weeks ago, we were hiking to Garfield Peak at Crater Lake National Park when I stopped and saw a patch of snow below the cliffs. I instantly remembered Mr. Abell's photograph. I raised my camera to my eye and took this picture below as a homage to him. Thank you for sir for inspiring me.

Hiking Garfield Peak. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon./ ©Stella Kalaw

Hiking Garfield Peak. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon/©Stella Kalaw

The Burn: Jane Fulton Alt

Having gone through a physical and emotional transformation in the last few years, Jane Fulton Alt's The Burn project spoke to me immediately. When I saw her images, I was drawn to them. I could somehow relate in a metaphorical sense to the idea of burning-- that these trees, shrubs needed to die in order for rebirth to happen. There is a spiritual quality to her photographs. I don't sense fear like a raging fire image that I would normally see in the news. They are beautifully composed, delicate and sensitive. When she captured fire with its amber colored flames dancing dangerously from a distance, she often used them as a backdrop against the blackened shrubs and twigs in the foreground. The focus seems to always be in the the moments of transformation. The first photograph below of a smoke engulfed single charred tree is one of my favorite images. When I went down to Los Angeles for Paris Photo LA in April, I was thrilled to find out that Jane was going to be there to sign her book. The Burn was one of those that I didn't even hesitate to purchase because the work just spoke to me deeply. I just wished I was able to articulate to her in person how I felt about her work.

Publisher: Kehrer Verlag

Portraits 13: Douglas M. Berry

One of the surprising and fulfilling moments that happened earlier this year was reconnecting with Doug Berry, a colleague of mine from Brooks Institute. He called me one night and said that he was turning 50 this year and had lost touch with a lot of his old friends from school. He wanted to reconnect. He also felt that he had reached a milestone in his life that he wanted someone to take his portrait. He said he could only think of me to do it. I said yes right away because he took mine back in the day for a Hasselblad Student Showcase ad. I was happy to give back and return the favor to him. I was honored of course but panicked as I have not shot a portrait in years! I had to dust off my strobes and needed to practice big time. In the end, I had to trust myself and know that something beautiful would happen. And, I was pleased with what came out of the session. We even got to reminisce and talk about the good old days and realized that we've led parallel lives. Next week is his birthday. He lives down south and I am unable to be there but I hope he had a great party this weekend. Cheers, Doug!

Douglas M. Berry. San Francisco, CA/ ©Stella Kalaw

Douglas M. Berry. San Francisco, CA/©Stella Kalaw

Wandering 196

Two weeks ago, I rode my bike and cruised through the Great Highway during the Sunday Street SF event. I just love the energy when people are out there interacting with each other. It really makes for great pictures! As I mentioned on my earlier post, I've set aside my camera for a few months so I'm a bit rusty. It usually takes me awhile to get into the rhythm of things. But sometimes, the luck factor shows up serendipitously and a scene just appears before my camera. I can't say this is perfect but just enough things going on here that makes this an interesting picture. It is enough to get me fired up again.

Sunday Streets. The Great Highway. San Francisco, CA/ ©Stella Kalaw

Sunday Streets. The Great Highway. San Francisco, CA/©Stella Kalaw

Patience

One of my favorite quotes comes from John Maeda:

Patience is often an uncredited virtue because it appears like you are doing nothing. You are yet you aren't.

Quite philosophical but true. The last couple of months have been a period of growth and that entailed setting aside the camera for a bit and focusing on some internal work. I believe that getting clarity will only help fuel the creative process and the final work in the long run. It's been an interesting journey so far. In the meantime, I am back in the space of sharing photographs, my favorite books, inspiration and whatever comes to mind. We'll see how it goes!

Point Reyes National Seashore./ ©Stella Kalaw

Point Reyes National Seashore./©Stella Kalaw

Cesar Chavez Park. Berkeley, CA./ ©Stella Kalaw

Cesar Chavez Park. Berkeley, CA./©Stella Kalaw

Wandering 195

I turned my clock one hour ahead last night. That means spring is here! Sunday Street SF had their first event for 2014 at the Embarcadero today. I dusted my bike off and rode the entire route. This is the perfect way to wander around and just observe people. I am glad to be out there again.

Sunday Streets. Embarcadero Street. San Francisco, CA/ ©Stella Kalaw

Sunday Streets. Embarcadero Street. San Francisco, CA/©Stella Kalaw

Sunday Streets. Embarcadero Street. San Francisco, CA/ ©Stella Kalaw

Sunday Streets. Embarcadero Street. San Francisco, CA/©Stella Kalaw

Sunday Streets. Embarcadero Street. San Francisco, CA/ ©Stella Kalaw

Sunday Streets. Embarcadero Street. San Francisco, CA/©Stella Kalaw