Monday, June 29, 2009

Spotlight Seven

I was recently interviewed for the Spotlight Seven group on Flickr. Spotlight Seven was created through the 6 Million People project, also on Flickr.

I may not have necessarily chosen the same images that the curator chose to highlight but I love the photos just the same and I am very excited to participate! Check out the links to see more!


1) A tour at your beautiful photostream reveals that you are not a dedicated portrait photographer but an all round one. At the same time you have some beautiful portraits. What I would like to ask you is what place portrait photography is taking in your photographic world.


I think that the choice of my subjects is intuitive. When I am out shooting I really feel like I want to be a part of the stories that are all around me...especially when I'm going out for a walk in New York, where I live. Portrait photography has really become the focus of my work because I love to watch and study people in their element. I find that when I'm out shooting the people on the streets are what most inspire me.

2) As an all round photographer you might feel if there is any difference for you taking land/seascape images comparing with taking street portraits? If there is such a difference can you please elaborate a bit on the subject?


I think that the biggest difference would be the amount of time I have to capture a shot. I have all the time in the world and I definitely take advantage of that when I go out to shoot landscapes or city scapes. Of course if I'm out shooting the ocean or architecture, the light changes and in the case of the ocean, the water is constantly moving and splashing but I take my time. I like to try different angles, get down on the ground, get close, stand back, everything and I change the settings on my camera constantly to try new things and change lenses too. I just don't have that kind of time when shooting street scenes where the focus of my shot is a person or a group of people. On the street things like people's movements, light and focus, are constantly changing and an image is not going to be the same from one second to the next. The lack of time is what pushes me to try to see better...if I'm not paying attention, I can lose what I thought would be the "perfect" capture. At the same time, I try not to think consciously about capturing a certain image when I'm out on the street with my camera. I think it can get stressful and this is more about having fun and pushing myself and challenging myself than capturing the "perfect" image - I'm not sure that exists.

3) Moving with a camera can be inconvenient from time to time what is it about photography for you that you are willing to suffer that inconvenience?


I don't ever consider it an inconvenience. I take my camera everywhere even though it can be heavy with certain lenses. If I'm going out and can't carry it for whatever reason, then I bring my point and shoot. I am never without a camera. I've had the unfortunate experience too many times when I see something that I love but no way to capture it. In NY, something as simple as going out in your pajamas to buy some milk across the street can be an adventure. You never know who is hanging around the deli or what you'll see right outside your building. The only time it can get to be a hassle is when I travel and I have to take an extra carry-on with all my equipment and security makes me take everything out but beyond that...to me, leaving my camera (any camera) at home is like forgetting to get dressed in the morning.

4) At the front of your set “People are People” you posted the beautiful portrait “hay milonga de amor” is there any specific reason for your choice?


I often change the front photos of my sets but I love that portrait. I chose it because it's my favorite of my street portraits. I love the image but it also reminds me of the amazing day that I had when I took it.

5) We used to say that a picture tells more than a 1000 words but, not always it is right. Is there one of your pictures where the story behind the picture has a special place at your heart? And what is the story?


One of my favorite images is a photo that I took on a beach in New York. I called it "Vivo" which means "Alive" in Spanish. I was going through a difficult time professionally and I was considering leaving my job. It was winter and my husband would take me to this beach where we'd sit and talk things out, where he helped me to relax and we'd talk about my options and goals. It was freezing out but we got out of our car and went for a walk anyway because I just needed the fresh air -- we felt mesmerized by the ocean that day. It sounds ridiculous but I felt like the water that day. The waves where coming toward the shore but the wind seemed to be blowing it in another direction. To me it felt a lot like the way life is...when you know the path that you should take is going in one direction, the easier way toward the shore, but there is something that goes beyond the surface that is making you question that easy path. Eventually I ended up leaving my job and starting a new life and every time I look at that photo, which I have framed at home, I remember how afraid of the unknown I was but also how inspired. I think about how powerful the water seemed and the way the wind was whipping my hair around. I think about my husband encouraging me and laughing at me crouched down on the wet sand to take the photo. It was like a self-portrait in many ways.

6) Looking in your stream I can see that you took pictures in different parts of the world. Are people on the street reacting differently in different countries? Can you give us some examples?


I find that there are two kinds of people: those who LOVE to have their photo taken and those who do not.

In New York you never know what you're going to get but I'm obviously always careful and respectful of people. I prefer candid shots but if the person notices me and puts their hand up or looks away or shakes their head, then I put my camera down. Many years ago, when I was still shooting primarily film, I saw this elderly woman on the street on 5th Avenue in NY. She was wearing the most colorful outfit that I've ever seen and her eyes were all made up with black eyeliner. I took her photo and she started screaming at me in the middle of 5th Avenue. I realized that she might be mentally ill and my photo was not meant to be disrespectful in any way but I wasn't about to explain this to her and it's not like I could delete the image from my camera...I just thought she was so...interesting and unique. She was small and old but she chased me across the street and I ran into the Disney Store of all places. She didn't follow me in. Years later when I look at that print I miss shooting film and I still laugh to myself about how I ran away from a woman on 5th Avenue. That's an extreme example but people in New York either don't care about you and your camera or they chase you down. I found that the same goes for cities in Europe and South America.

The only place I've traveled where I felt like it was exclusively one way - that people seemed to be indifferent about having their photo taken and that some of them actually embrace it - is in Southeast Asia. I was in Thailand and Cambodia and my experience was that the people were so relaxed and did not mind having their photo taken at all. But, basically, I think it's a person by person basis...

7) You have almost 1000 pictures on flickr and you participated in quite a few exhibitions what is your goal with your photography? How do you see yourself in about 5 years?


I mentioned that a few years ago I was having a difficult time professionally. I was a corporate lawyer in Manhattan and I was really unhappy about my lifestyle. I felt challenged by my work but I felt like that's all I had....my work. I worked very long hours, never saw my family and friends and I was exhausted. It was too much and I felt like it just was not for me. After a lot of soul searching, I left all of that behind to try my hand at photography. I still have a part-time job but I'm focusing on photography. I feel lucky to have such a supportive husband and family. I have had a few exhibits, sold and licensed some of my work, I've been commissioned for weddings and other shoots and I freelance for a travel company. I've also started my blog, www.ciaochessa.com as a companion to my website, www.monicalshulman.com. I'm not sure where I will be in five years but I'm excited about it. I just hope that I can continue doing what I'm doing, having more exhibits, meet more photographers and art lovers, gallerists, bloggers and potential clients and also be able to go out and work on my personal projects like my current on-going project "In Public" - a street photography collection.

8) What and where is the optimal place for you to take pictures?


I feel lucky to live in New York City where there are photos just waiting to be taken at any given moment.

9) Is there any picture on flickr (not yours) that you wish that you took?


There are so many inspiring and evocative images on Flickr. In fact, joining Flickr is what really pushed me to do this professionally. I had never really shared my images before joining this amazing place after a friend suggested it. It's nearly impossible to pick one photo but if I absolutely had to then it would be a portrait taken of a homeless New Yorker by LJ. I absolutely love his work.

Copyright LJ: http://www.flickr.com/photos/16536699@N07/

I think that if a still image can give you the goosebumps...that's just a priceless feeling. The portraits he has taken in New York, Las Vegas and Italy are so moving. I find myself studying them...he has a very real connection with his subjects. I feel like I push myself to be that bold but I have (very) long way to go to get there.

10) Is there any photograph on flickr that influenced you in one way or another?


It really is impossible to pick just one but in general I'm constantly inspired by the images of LJ, Keren Fedida, Benjamin Goss, Sebastian Miquel (abre/tus/ojos), tetheredto, Rai Robledo (raiworld), Miss Aniela, Olivia Bee,
Brett Walker,
Federico Erra, Rui Palha and Jaime Goodridge (Dockmaster)...so many.

Check out all of the images that were chosen here...

Untitled

Mama Bear

Le PĂȘcheur

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11 comments:

TheBeautyFile said...

omg, your sister is so stunning...! love that pic!

Lily G. said...

Great interview and great pics!

liliesandgrapes.blogspot.com

Elizabeth said...

Fabulous interview! I love the images you shared as well. (I also just noticed that you have a category called "shameless self-promotion." Love it. Thanks for making me laugh on a Monday!) xo

Elizabeth Marie said...

Love it! It's cool how you said that taking your camera is never an inconvenience :)

Amazing photos, of course.

And guess what?! coming to NYC!!! Just to visit and job hunt but we must coordinate!?!

drollgirl said...

i am so glad this interview happend and that you posted it! you are one articulate young lady, and your images are just sublime.

you are on your way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! something good is brewing for you. i can feel it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

fantastic interview, i'M totally going now to check out the links!

Bonbon Oiseau said...

loved reading this and learning more about your inspirations and philosophy and process...oxoxoxodeb

Des said...

Very interesting. I have a follow-up question to the, "How do you see yourself in five years?" question. Do you have any interest in filmmaking? All of the filmmakers I've spoken to always start in photography and then transition into film.

Chessa! said...

thanks, everyone! it was really fun to think about the questions...

Des, you know...I never really did think about film making. I love thinking about angles and depth of field and perspective when I'm watching movies though. it's always so fascinating to see how directors shoot and to think about the choices of the cinematographers...but I never thought of myself doing it. Sometimes I see a scene unfolding in front of me and I can imagine recording it but I'm much more moved by a still image.

Tiffany said...

Love the interview! you are such an amazing woman, loved learning more about your photography and inspirations.

Jessie said...

LOVED reading this! Am here by way of your new sponsorship button at The Lil Bee. :)

Glad I've popped over, and can't wait to see more of your work!