Photography, Typography

Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides. – Lao Tzu

Inspirational quotes series: #005

Another addition to the inspirational poster collection of mine. This time with photography and type, not type alone. Self initiated projects are valuable to keep skill sets alive and force yourself to produce. It is easy to get caught up in all the other aspects of running a photography business that you stop shooting for yourself. I have been there and done that. Hence the projects. It is my second time at running a full-time photography business. First time straight after ending my apprenticeship. 3 years of studying on the job. I had already shot quite a few jobs for the studio and thought I had the drive and skills to set up.

First knock, agencies are vary of any newcomers as they want to know that you can pull it off. They prefer working with established ones as they would hate explaining why a re-shoot is needed.

Second knock, credentials are important even though nobody will ask for your diploma. I was competing as an advertising photographer against others that spent their time studying abroad before setting up back home. Even the ones that had gone through apprenticeships before me.

Needless to say, most of my energy went to seek new work, creating opportunities and working mainly editorial and doing regular go-see’s with new work to the agencies. A few years on my own I packed up my bags, left for England, as I had been accepted first at Surrey and then due to personal reasons changed to KIAD. The course at KIAD was brand new, specialised in advertising photography. The tutors told me that I was a bit unlucky as I should have been placed straight into the second year and not the first, as it was simply too basic.

However, I met some wonderful people that I enjoyed spending time with and solve photography projects. Merlin Hendy, Richard Sainsbury, Daniele Melgiovanni and Peder Songedal. Merlin is a brilliant dance photographer, Richard got represented by Photonica while in school, Daniele is part of one of London’s biggest studios and Peder has become a Canon Master in Norway.

KIAD only taught me two things that I didn’t already know. Split tone printing and the graphic design classes. I loved the latter ones. Something new and creative. I liked it. I wanted to learn more than only the two hours a week we had. Another fellow Norwegian from my home town had studied graphic design in London and had highly recommended his school.

As I normally do when I am about to set out for something new, I research. I asked the graphic design tutor at KIAD what schools she would recommend. I was given a brief list. Then I asked about the school that my friend recommended. “You will never get into that. That’s the best one.”

Determination. You will need it in any business you want to succeed. If you don’t want it, somebody else will. I managed to schedule an interview with the design school. Brought my photography portfolio and my humble attempt at graphic design. I met Andrew. I showed him my work. The graphic work was rubbish, almost thrown away immediately. Photography work hold interest. Then my story. Why I wanted this. Why I was here. Why he should give me a chance. I walked away with the brightest smile ever. I was accepted at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design.

I had to change school midterm. I had to get refund from the other school. I was the first Norwegian student to ever have done a transfer midterm. All the paperwork and money lost in fees as I did not get a full refund. It all didn’t matter. I was where I wanted to be. I was an oddball. That’s why I got accepted. I found out from my tutors later that that was how I were described to them. The oddball from Norway.

I had two options. I could breeze through the design course by solving briefs the photography way or I could pick the hardest challenge and get to understand type and typography. I got my hands dirty in the basement of Southampton Row setting type by hand. Letterpress printing. Same way you will never understand dodging and burning in Photoshop if you haven’t tried it for yourself in the darkroom. Not that I will make you necessarily better, but you will have a better understanding about the craft. I got to understand the logic behind the tools in QuarkXpress. Before everybody changed to InDesign.

Dual background. Design and photography. Need to fuel both passions. Inspirational quotes project helps. Enjoy the series as it develops.

Life’s too short to not be doing what you love doing.

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Music, fashion and passion

Kari Rueslåtten

It’s super. Music, fashion and passion. Super 8. Kari brought the music and it is absolutely worth listening to “Other people’s stories”.  Photographed at Ramsgate beach, England. It was a long train ride, something that you end up missing living here in Vietnam. Trains are simply the best of public transport, as long as there are no leaves on the track or other delay reasons. Getting a seat, enjoy a conversation or simply read books for an hour (or more) and then you are there.

Compare that to riding a motorbike on the streets of Saigon, having to keep track on every single movement as nobody cares to use their rearview mirrors or even turn and look behind. Motorbike or even bike riders that could easily have put any kamikaze pilot to shame will come out from small alleyways and be in front of you before you know it. Blink and you collide. Look somewhere else and you collide. Be paranoid and expect anything can appear in front of you and you stay safe. I rather read a book on a train.

Kari Rueslåtten

Also captured on the super 8 was one of the earliest collections of fashion designer Siv Støldal.

Fashion on Super 8

Fashion on Super 8

Fashion on Super 8

Fashion on Super 8

Photographed in Avondale Road, close to Green Lanes in London. Green Lanes is a Greek and Turkish area of London, with freshly baked bread in quite a few varieties and the same for hummus and olives. Great place for food.

However, I must admit a fondness now for Vietnamese food after spending close to a decade here already. Time really flies. Too fast. Music on. Time for more captures. Here we go. Passion!

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“Now I stand here” – A simplistic guide to Polaroid transfer

Now I stand here

Where the ocean’s blueness

Is without limit

The haiku that inspired a trip to Bournemouth, England, and the following examples of Polaroid transfer.

Polaroid transfer, Bournemouth beach, England.

Polaroid has been a long lasting love relationship of mine that came to abrupt when Polaroid decided to stop producing their films. My all time favorite, Polaroid 669, was discontinued and the new and improved version did not work well as a polaroid transfer medium.

I still got the Polaroid camera with interchangeable lenses, the Polaroid bucket for large format polaroid films to be stored on location, the Polaroid Polaprinter, even the 8×10 Polaroid developer and more.

Experimenting with Polaroids was great. The roughness, the imperfections, the random results, all of that by using hands on techniques appealed to me.

– First step. Be prepared.

– You will need Polaroid film, now possible by the Impossible Project. (Disclaimer, I have not used the new films yet.)

– Have a small roller ready, some 2-3mm thick foam board, smooth surface. I found those the best. Cut them down to size.

– Get something interesting to photograph and take out the polaroid.

– Let it develop between 10-15 seconds before peeling of the emulsion and placing it on the foam board.

– Use the roller to transfer the dyes into the foam board surface.

– Wait.

– Remove the emulsion and you have now done an emulsion transfer.

The transfer is different to the lift technique.

The lift technique involves separating the Polaroid surface from the base and place it on your new base of choice, often paper. The separation takes place in water and requires a lot of patience as well as a steady hand, otherwise you will rip it apart. I have to dig further in my archive to find some.

Here is a link to a PDF book about Polaroid transfer that I found online.


Polaroid transfer, Bournemouth beach, England.

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