Website update

I finally had a chance to update my website and showcase a few images from my current project. It is still a work in progress and I find that completing it is quite a slow process. I have been having this debate in my head whether it is appropriate to show them at this stage or not. I have posted some images in the blog. However, it is difficult to view them altogether. I think the website allows me to see the project's progress and to evaluate whether the body of work is cohesive or not.


Ed, 2008
Carlton, OR
©Stella Kalaw

I've been friends with Eduardo for over 15 years. I was first introduced to him by my brother and my younger sister. They were involved in a theatre production back in high school. When I moved to California, my brother handed me his phone number in Los Angeles. He wanted to make sure I knew someone from the past--someone familiar. And, who could not forget Eduardo? Flamboyant, funny and highly energetic, he was never one to be missed in a crowd.

We hit it off the minute we spoke on the phone. Since then, we called each other regularly. We cracked jokes and ended up laughing uncontrollably until we could not breath. Other times, our conversations were more sober-- we talked about our hopes and dreams and comforted each other when it came to matters of the heart. After school, we still kept in touch though not as often as we used to.

When I saw him again a few weeks ago, we just picked up where we left off. I feel so blessed to have friends who continue to maintain a personal connection in spite of the distance between us. As always, he narrated both real and fictitious stories over the course of the weekend complete with theatrical gestures mixed in with his boisterous laughter. Not only was he entertaining, he was also a gracious host. Before I left, I took his photograph while we were in Carlton.

A Conversation on Age

Jörg Colberg of Concientious had an interesting conversation with his friend D:

"The other day, I talked to my friend D. about this. He said that in principle, instead of looking for young photographers we should actually be looking for older photographers. He argued that unlike in painting, where a painter's technique often evolves significantly with age, photography usually doesn't show such an evolution - in part because of photography's very technical nature. So, he argued, young photographers are technically as competent as older photographers, but what really makes a body of work is not technique but "everything else." It took me a while to make him specify what he meant by this, and it basically came down to what one might call "life experience". In essence, D. argued that if you're very young you are usually not able to see as many facets of the world as when you're older, and, crucially, that translated into what kind of photography you are able to produce."

Read his full blog entry.

Wandering 01

©Stella Kalaw

Between working the job and the residency this past couple of months, I haven't been wandering around with my camera. I finally had the chance to do so this week. I think it is an important part my creative process. It is like a pianist doing finger exercises before mastering a piece. In my case, I am continually honing the way I see. I consider these images as my sketches. I will share a few more in the next postings.

Winding down

©Stella Kalaw

©Stella Kalaw

Last Sunday, I photographed J & C in a park in Petaluma. J, the one year old, was restless. All he wanted to do was crawl away from the camera. Meanwhile, C, who was older, tried to interact with J but he was focused on moving around. We decided it was best to go for a group portrait instead. Afterwards, we had lunch back in their home and J & C continued to play. I decided to shoot another roll of film as they were winding down. Soon after I took these photographs, they fell asleep.


My brother and I had planned to make it back to his apartment before dark but the strong downpour prevented us from taking the two hour trip back to the city. We were hoping the rain would stop but it continued throughout the evening. We decided it was best to stay overnight rather than take the risk of getting lost in the region. We had to drive along a winding road through the woods in complete darkness before reaching the main highway. We were visiting Eva, one of my brother's colleagues from work, who had a family cottage in Rynartice-- a small town in Northern Bohemia close to the German border.

Earlier that afternoon, we sat in her backyard surrounded by lush greenery. We drank white wine and ate local delicacies and desserts. We had Cocoska (similar to coconut macaroons), Korbacik ( Slovakian string cheese) and apple streudel. One of her close friends also brought a bottle of home made Slivovice-- a clear and potent spirit made out of plums from Moravia. She poured some in a shot glass and urged us to try it. I took a small sip and instantly felt a burning sensation as the alcohol made its way down my throat. I was about to gag but I shook my head, closed my eyes and swallowed hard.

The rain disrupted our meal so we quickly moved indoors. Later, a few more of her friends arrived and joined us at the table. As the evening wore on, beer and wine continued to flow and the group of friends spoke more Czech and less English. At that point, my brother and I were lost in translation. We politely excused ourselves, and went upstairs to the bedroom. We slept in the same clothes we wore during the day.

The next morning, I stayed in bed waiting for my brother to wake up. From the window, I could see that the rain had disappeared. The interior of the room was filled with antique furniture. Yesterday, while giving us a quick tour of the house, Eva told us that the Czechs were prohibited to travel outside of the country during the communist era so the cottage served as their weekend retreat. Summer and winter vacations were also spent there. Knowing this bit of personal history made it seemed as if time stood still in the room. Somehow, I felt grateful for the opportunity to be there. I suddenly had the urge to photograph and make a record of it.

Personal work

From Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland:

"Today, artwork does not emerge from a secure common ground... Making art now means working in the face of uncertainty; it means living with doubt and contradiction, doing something no one much cares whether you do, and for which there may be neither audience or reward. Making the work you want to make means setting aside these doubts so that you may see clearly what you have done, and thereby see where to go next. Making the work you want to make means finding nourishment within the work itself."