Sydney

One of the best things about working in a hotel especially this new company I am with entitles their employees to complimentary nights! The universe aligned and I was able to get a night at the hotel plus I had enough miles to fly out to Sydney from Manila. My cousin was also in town so I was able to stay with her for a few nights. I haven't seen her since 2004 and have never met my niece. I wanted to spend some quality time to catch up. So, I took advantage of the opportunity and visited the city for the first time. I loved it! It's a cross between San Francisco and Santa Barbara because of the nearby beaches that could be reached via ferry. I did the whole tourist thing and tried my best to take photographs that describes my experience. When given another chance, I would love to come back there and stay longer possibly travel to Melbourne or stop over if we ever make our way to New Zealand.

Tourists at the commuter Ferry from Circular Quay. July 2017. 

Tourists at the commuter Ferry from Circular Quay. July 2017. 

View of the Sydney Harbor Bridge from the Hop on Hop Off Bus. June 2017.

View of the Sydney Harbor Bridge from the Hop on Hop Off Bus. June 2017.

Manly Beach, July 2017

Manly Beach, July 2017

Three Sisters. Blue Mountain. July 2017.

Three Sisters. Blue Mountain. July 2017.

Family Time

I enjoyed an afternoon soaking in a jacuzzi with my siblings and my niece. A friend of Malyn's was kind enough to have us stay overnight in their vacation home in Punta Fuego, Batangas. It is rare that we get together so I always make sure I document these fleeting moments. We caught up on family stories and of course, we shared so many laughs.

Punta Fuego, Batangas. June 2017

Punta Fuego, Batangas. June 2017

Punta Fuego, Batangas. June 2017.

Punta Fuego, Batangas. June 2017.

Puenta Fuego, Batangas. June 2017.

Puenta Fuego, Batangas. June 2017.

NYC Moment 2

We passed by this gentleman who was talking to his buddy seated inside the moving truck. He saw me as I raised my camera to my eye. I decided to make a quick portrait instead of waiting for a moment since he had the right stance and was juxtaposed perfectly with all the other elements within the frame.

50th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues. New York City. 

50th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues. New York City. 

Inspiration: Dale Chihuly at the New York Botanical Gardens

For me, this image that I captured at the New York Botanical Gardens sums up the beauty of Dale Chihuly's work. He draws inspiration from nature and his organically shaped glass work "merges" with it. And, the light above the greenhouse added to this beautiful photograph. 

I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced.
— Dale Chihuly

9/11 Memorial Visit

As I approached one of the reflecting pools at the 9/11 site, my eye immediately caught these single white roses lodged  in a few of the names around the perimeter. A sign nearby gave the explanation: "As a tribute, the 9/11 Memorial places roses upon victims' names on their birthdates." And, so I began photographing the flowers as I walked around the pool This particular image was spiritual and somewhat haunting. The morning sun creating  a shadow between two buildings and a halo on the white rose against the dark metal. It sent shivers to my spine as I clicked the shutter. 

It is Everywhere

How does one make an interesting photograph when people are immersed in their mobile phones? This is a question that always comes to my mind whenever I walk the streets after work.  

Kodakan chosen as finalist at the LA Photo Curator International Awards

The theme was "Root" with esteemed guest juror Susan Spiritus. A big thank you to Susan as well as to Laura Freitag for giving space for these photographic projects at the same time giving back to social causes.  I  am honored to be in the company with these talented photographers:

1st Place: "I Wish Her Then" Amy Kanka
2nd Place: "Heritage" Ellen Jantzen

Honorable Mention:
"Who I am" Theresa Tarara
"Family Tree" Marilyn Carren
"Treehouse" Sam Tucibat
"Artist Rock" Karen Klinedinst
"Artifacts (Kodakan)" Stella Kalaw

Kodakan from the Artifacts from 52 Victoria series.  

Kodakan from the Artifacts from 52 Victoria series.  

Warm Weather

We had a few days this week where the temperature in the city was in the mid-70's. I felt comfortable enough to walk around without a jacket. I am out in the streets again with my camera looking around for some type of gesture or an interesting facial expression. Here are two that I like so far.  I am still feeling rusty. 

Back in the Street

Last Thursday, I was able to carve out some time to finally get out and walk the streets with my camera around my neck. I can't tell you how good it felt to be looking and composing within the frame and pressing the shutter. This past year, I switched employment unexpectedly and my attention shifted to learning the new job. Such endeavor took up so much brain power and energy that it depleted my will to go out and shoot. However, I did manage to work on a quieter still life series on the weekends so I was not without my camera for the entire period. I am quite rusty but the good news is that I've reached a point where I am able to put my energies where it truly belongs and focus on taking pictures again. And, by God's grace, I got my old schedule back so I have time to walk regularly. 

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