Photography Tricks and Hacks You Need To Know in 2018

We live in a visually driven society. Not only does the art of photography impact our daily lives, it has promising implications for the future of our world. Historically speaking, photos were reserved for the wealthy and taking a picture was deeply involved.

Now, we have a camera with us wherever we go. Drone technology has allowed the average user to take stunning photos from new, incredible angles. Police use photography to create graphic renderings of accident scenes to solve mysteries ( read to Discover Photogrammetry Software – PhotoModeler).

Embrace the photographic future with these hacks you need in 2018.

Create Your Own Lightbox

How do Instagram influencers get incredible photos using an iPhone? They work the lighting. You can create your own light box with sheets of paper in front of a window, or white bristol board taped together with an overhead light. Both pro and amateurs know, that there’s nothing like natural, grey skies for taking a photo, but what if you don’t have that option?

Create Your Own Flash Diffuser

If you must use the flash for a photo, create your own diffuser using a piece of white paper over the light. This simple hack has the same effect as your personal lightbox project, except you can take it with you wherever you go. While this method of diffusion will never have the same quality as using a proper diffuser stand, it can take the starkness out of flash photos.

Create a Laptop Backdrop

If your lightbox isn’t cutting it or you’re in a rush, you can take incredible product photos using your laptop as a backdrop. Google an image you want in the background and expand to fullscreen. Place a reflective surface on your keyboard and position the product so that it is close to the mousepad. Take your photo with a focus on the product. The background will become unfocused enough to look natural, depending on the image you choose.

Get a Selfie Light Phone Case

With social media dominating our methods of communication, selfies have become the norm. There is no indication that anything will change in the future, with social media use becoming the go-to form of marketing and communication. If selfies are your favorite type of photography, invest in a phone case with a ring light. These phone cases disperse light evenly and make for stunning photos regardless of your surroundings.

Get a Beanbag Tripod

Tripods can be bulky and annoying to carry around. They can also be expensive and lack versatility if you work in various settings with different cameras. DIY bean bag tripods work for both phones and cameras, and can easily be thrown in a bag or purse for travel purposes.

Go Vintage

While DSLR cameras are still the king when it comes to photography, the methods will change as technology evolves. Someday, we will likely have camera contact lenses. However, even as we move toward highly advanced photographic tools, the vintage look is coming back with a vengeance. Fortunately, you can capture the vintage vibe without sacrificing camera quality.

Rub Vaseline on a sheet of glass for a blurry effect. Place a pair of pantyhose over the lens for a soft, vintage glow. Soften your edges with a plastic sandwich bag over the lens. The options for adding a vintage feel without using editing software is endless.


How we take photos is always changing and the future is still uncertain. What remains timeless is the need for avid photographers to freeze time.

In the Spotlight: Minneapolis based Photographer Brandon Lepasti

Brandon Lepasti is a Minneapolis based Portrait photographer. He completed his BFA from The Art Institutes International Minnesota. Brandon finds himself particularly attached to snowboarding since childhood, and in turn, snowboard photography. He has been the recipient of the FY 2013 Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board along with many other awards and titles.

View complete portfolio at brandonlepasti.com.

1. Tell us about the initiation of your career in photography? Did you always want to be a photographer?

I was a sponsored snowboarder back in high school. I used to enter regional competitions in Minnesota and Wisconsin and I filmed for a local snowboard production company based out of St. Cloud, Minnesota. I was snowboarding 4-5 days out of the week, if not more, and all of my close friends loved snowboarding just as much as I did. Snowboarding was my life and I still attribute a good portion of who I am today to snowboarding. Unfortunately, not everyone can make a living off snowboarding and so eventually I found myself thinking about college. I was trying to think of a way to remain in the snowboard industry and found myself debating between going to school for photography and videography, since both play a strong role in the industry. I knew nothing about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, or white balance settings. All I knew was that I wanted to be creative and I felt I had an eye for good composition. In the summer of 2009, I began attending The Art Institutes International Minnesota for my BFA in Photography. I would never see life with the same eyes again.

 

Brandon Lepasti Photography

2. What according to you are the strengths and weaknesses in your photography?

I believe my strengths are also what I enjoy most about photography – arranging my composition and using/manipulating light to compliment my scene. I see everyday objects as graphic elements that can create balance, movement and repetition in a photograph. I see the world in lines and shapes and I enjoy exploring the numerous ways they work with one another to create visually pleasing imagery. Similarly, I have an appreciation for light and shadow and how the two can have an affect on one’s emotions. I enjoy the challenge in being plopped in a given environment and having to study the quality of light and how I can add to or manipulate it. These aspects of photography have helped me to see life in such a unique way and I am grateful for that.

I have many weaknesses, but there is one that stands out in my mind most. Like many photographers and other creatives, I have the tendency to fixate myself on one idea – usually my first idea. I often pre-visualize what my photographs will look like, so it can be pretty frustrating when things don’t go as I had imagined. I tend to waste so much time trying to solve the problem and later, while  observing my photographs on a computer, I realize there were plenty of other avenues I could have ventured down. Although I have made progress on this narrow mindedness, I have nearly drove myself insane with this in the past while creating numerous photographs.

 

3. On your portfolio, you’ve named one of your photo galleries “3 sec. clip”. Please share with us the reason behind it.

3 Sec. Clip is the name of a photographic essay book I made while in college – documenting the action and lifestyle behind the scenes of what it takes to make a snowboard movie. There are numerous snowboard production companies that release a film once every year. Depending on company budgets, these movies are distributed locally, nationally, and even internationally. The films consist of an introduction, roughly seven to twelve rider sections, and the credits. Countless hours, days, weeks, and months of hard work are crammed into a two to three minute video part. I am intrigued by the effort it takes to achieve a three second clip, hence the reasoning behind the book/album title.

As a side note, the book consists of far more images than I included on my website. The book goes more in depth. I chose a select few of my favorite images to be included on my website with the idea that I will add to it over the years.

 

 

Brandon Lepasti Photography

4. For you, what makes an image worthy of being in a portfolio?

Every image in a portfolio should be strong technically and aesthetically. That is a given. The images as a whole should also reflect the photographer’s unique vision and style, which is developed over time and can be ever-changing. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the images should speak to the viewer – evoke some kind of emotion, feeling or response.

 

5. Which genre of photography do you find yourself most attached to and why?

Of course I enjoy snowboard photography because that is where my roots are. However, while in college, I grew a strong interest in portraiture, especially while on location. If I have to pick one, I would say environmental portraiture is my favorite genre of photography. I thoroughly enjoy the creative process of figuring out how to best portray a person in a given scene. Each and every portrait shoot presents its own challenges, which in return open the doors to so many creative solutions. My inspiration to make a portrait of someone is based on their unique physical environment, human characteristics, and the role they play in our society.

 

Brandon Lepasti Photography

6. If you could pick any photographer as your mentor, who would you pick and why?

Although he is no longer alive, I would choose Arnold Newman as my mentor without a doubt.  He was one of the most innovative and influential photographers of the 20th and 21st century. He is most known for being the “Father of Environmental Portraiture.” Newman often mentioned the use of graphic elements in his photographs, but he not only unitized these elements for the sake of visual pleasure, he also had a purpose behind the way he arranged his compositions to better reflect his subject and who they were. I would like to have followed him on some assignments to see exactly how he approached his subjects and to hear him speak out loud what he was thinking while composing his photographs.

7. How did you come across Pixpa and how has been the experience for you so far?

Unfortunately, I do not have the patience to learn code. I am overwhelmed with a cluster of symbols, numbers and letters. Fortunately, there are a handful of companies out there providing photographers with sleek website templates. I chose Pixpa because their website templates are tastefully designed and they are very affordable. Also, their drag-and-drop style editor is very user-friendly. Building my website was fairly painless. Overall, I am very pleased with Pixpa and what they have to offer. I would recommend them to a friend.

 

Brandon Lepasti Photography

I am planning to make some drastic updates to my portfolio website in the near future, so please visit frequently.

In the Spotlight: High End Celebrity Photographer Avantika Meattle

This month, the spotlight is on Avantika Meattle. In this interview, she talks about her seven year long stint in Bollywood, her travels across the world, and her return to Delhi as a wedding photographer. Pixpa finds out more about her love and passion for creating meaningful memories.

Visit Avantika’s website

You have captured moments of what seem to be the two greatest Indian loves – weddings and movies. Tell us about your experience as a spectator/participant in these two spectacular slices of Indian life.

We, Indians, love our weddings, and we love our movies. Indian weddings and movies embody the splendour, and the richness of our society, not to mention the grand culture, heritage, traditions, attire, dreams, and aspirations of the people. Indeed, weddings are like movies nowadays.

I have been associated with both aspects closely. To me, the level of involvement and the emotional connect weddings and movies have with society is simply extra-ordinary, and unique.

In a wedding, the entire family is together – friends, colleagues, relatives celebrate. This is the day that the couple, the bride especially, has dreamt of, for so long. There is a plethora of things going through her mind – excitement, anticipation, nervousness, anxiety, happiness – it is a cocktail of emotions. As a photographer (and someone who has been in that place), I can connect very well with these emotions. I love capturing these nuances on camera, in fact, these are the pictures bring back fond memories every time you look at them.

The same applies for movies where we celebrate the Indian dreams and aspirations. It is very fulfilling to be able to get that one shot which will connect with the common Indian.

What part of your job excites you the most?

I love capturing moments. In this profession, the highest accolade is when the person you have photographed feels that your picture has conveyed everything he/she was going through in that moment. It could be an actor or a bride. My real excitement comes from the knowledge that these pictures will remain long after everything is over, and they will invoke all those wonderful memories.

For instance, my pictures of Priyanka and John Abraham in Dostana, Aishwarya Rai in Umrao Jaan are ingrained in the public memory. Till this day, whenever I see brides use the photographs shot by me, I can’t help feeling super excited.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Anyone can click a picture – cameras are good and technical details are easy to learn. However, establishing an emotional connection and timing the picture with the right framing, lighting, etc are the finer details that make it more enjoyable.

My inspiration is the emotional connection. I search for that unique emotion which captures the essence of the event. My camera is the tool – but the entire focus is to bring out and capture the emotion.

From Italy to Udaipur, marriage seems to have taken you around the world. Which, in your opinion, is the most special moment of a wedding? Tell us about some such moments that you have captured on film

In my opinion, the best moment is when the bride is getting ready for the wedding. At this juncture, brides, across nations and cultures, are overwhelmed with emotions. The rest of the ceremonies and rituals allow you to capture vibrant and colourful shots, but nothing comes close to the beautiful image of a bride getting ready for the wedding. Also, I feel it really helps that I can connect with the bride on a very personal level, calm her, and capture the excitement and anticipation.

How would you describe your experience of working with children? Are they challenging subjects?

Babies are very challenging, but they are great to work with. The challenge is obvious – they have their moods and they will not comply with any request if they don’t want to. So, one has to be very patient and play with the baby till she/he is active enough to click.

However, the best part about babies is that they don’t know what is going on, so they don’t freeze like adults do. Their expressions are natural and real, it’s a pleasure to go crazy taking pictures of a happy baby.

What would be your dream project?

My dream project is to do a wedding or couple shoot in a place like Alaska, Antarctica or even deep sea diving!! I just love these spaces! Frankly, would love to work in settings where the nature provides the perfect backdrop – snow capped mountains, beautiful beaches, perhaps, in the middle of nowhere.

What kind of equipment do you use?

I have been using Canon set up from the last 4 years. I am currently using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (Body). I keep on building my equipment with all kind of lenses, lights, flashes, slaves. The list is endless.

One thing you’d advise fellow photographers to avoid.

I can only tell what I try and avoid – try not to push any agenda. You may have a great concept or a pose in mind, but if your client is not naturally comfortable in that, you should try something else. Essentially, your concept needs to align with the client, and not the other way.

Also, sometimes the best pictures can be shot with the simplest of cameras. Know your art well. Read a lot. Practice even more.

Any advice you would like to give to the Pixpa community.

We should always keep trying to learn. There is so much to learn, and a picture can, indeed, say a thousand words. Every photograph has the potential to teach something – sometimes, it may be a great new insight or sometimes it would be just to learn what not to do. Be a student always, and keep trying to sharpen your skills.

The goal is to let your picture convey the entire story without words.

Tell us about your experience of building your website on Pixpa.

It was super easy! I am really happy that I could design it according to my taste and get it going so soon. The customer service of Pixpa is also fantastic. They are very helpful people. I am really happy to have built a complete portfolio website in the most convenient manner possible.

 

In The Spotlight: Marian Hammond

This week, Pixpa had the pleasure to interview Marian Hammond, an extremely versatile photographer and filmmaker, in our interview segment. Marian is the co-founder of a communication and marketing firm, Brink Communication and manages to follow her passion for photography in her free time. Her work captures varied genres and reflects the passion with which she pursues photography. Here’s knowing her in greater detail.

(View her portfolio at Marianhammond.com)

1.  How has your love for photography assisted you in your work at Brink Communications?

I co-founded Brink three years ago to help clients create change for good. With communications moving ever-more visual and audiences preferring to view rather than read, having a background and love for photography helps me lead the team here in designing communications strategies and marketing campaigns that quickly create impact and change hearts and minds.

 

 

2. You have attained formal education in both photography and filmmaking. Which one do you feel more connected to and why?

Photography will always be my first love. Although I shoot digital now, the hours I spent in a darkroom learning the art and craft are still with me, and the smell of those chemicals takes me instantly back to my college years. When I was 19, I received a Stanford grant to spend the summer creating a photo essay on women’s bodies in front of (and behind) the lens, which was a trans-formative and deeply healing experience for me. Through that project, I gained a deep appreciation for what it means to capture someone’s image and essence on film, both to the viewer and the subject. And photographing my daughters over the past 6 years has given me so much joy – being able to capture and share their personalities, changes and discoveries has been a gift as a mom and an artist.

 3. Who are some of your favorite photographers? How do they inspire you?

I love Diane Arbus for pushing the boundaries of portraiture. Dorothea Lange, for pioneering photojournalism and creating social and political change through photography.

And of course, Annie Leibovitz for her sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, always lovely images that make us reconsider the way we look at familiar faces.

 

 

4. As a marketing professional what would be your marketing advice to upcoming photographers?  Which of the two Instagram or Pinterest would serve to benefit photographers more?

My advice is to pick one channel and do it well. If you love Pinterest, great. If you prefer Instagram for Photography, go with that. The best way to create impact is to convey your personality and range and to build relationships with other artists and potential clients.

5. You are quite the multi-tasker – a marketing professional, a keyboardist, a photographer and a homemaker. How do you manage it all?

Only just barely! I am happiest when I am busy and learning and pushing my own boundaries – and that often means shoving 10 pounds of crap into a 5-pound bag (as my mother would say). Trying to maintain balance and focus/connection with my family while also exploring my creative and professional self is an ongoing challenge for me. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

6. What is the one question nobody has ever asked you – that you wished they did?

I can’t think of anything. I’m a pretty direct person so if I have something to share, I do. No shrinking violet here!

7. Finally, tell us about your experience with Pixpa.

I love Pixpa! It meets the (high) standards for web functionality, aesthetics and audience experience that I bring from my marketing background, while also making it easy to keep up-to-date. I can honestly say I wouldn’t have a portfolio website without it.

In the Spotlight: Matthew Pendergast

Meet Matthew Pendergast, producer, director, and above all, a man with a deep love for exploration. In this exclusive interview, the San Francisco-based Matthew Pendergast tells us more about his experiences with the camera, the world and himself.

Visit Matthew’s website

Pixpa: You have done spectacular work on a range of subjects, quite complex and diverse in their character. What motivated you to take this creative journey?

Matthew: I’ve been traveling ever since I was a little kid, so for a long time I’ve been inspired by places, people, and cultures. While writing for Reuters in Beijing, I told stories from a journalistic perspective. However, I had the chance to work with video and learnt more about visual storytelling. In college, I began to develop an interest in Asia’s development, and spent a lot of time there, traveling and working, especially in China. So, it has been very inspiring to chronicle the issues that these communities face, as the region’s economy skyrockets. And to this end, it has just been a process of expanding my visual repertoire over the years in the interest of telling a more compelling, succinct and dynamic story always.

Pixpa: How long have you been working as a producer and director?

Matthew: Five years.

Pixpa: From Bangladesh to Cambodia, Sri Lanka to Mongolia, you have travelled extensively. In your opinion, which has been the most rewarding experience of your journey and why?

Matthew: I’ve had some incredible experiences on the road, from rescuing a dying horse in a Mongolian blizzard to profiling river gypsies in Bangladesh who rarely ever stray from their boats.

While I’ve been able to capture some great images, I think that the most rewarding part was to meet the people who are fighting to give their communities and their neighbors a better life. These are the people who have let go of the opportunities in bigger cities or on foreign shores. They have chosen to stay behind to help kids in their community have an education, or make sure their environment isn’t destroyed by unchecked industry.

Working with these people and finding out what inspires them to put aside more immediate aspirations for something bigger than themselves – that’s definitely been the most rewarding part of the journey.

Pixpa: What type of films do you enjoy creating?

Matthew: I’d say, films that focus on a person’s story, and are driven by a powerful narrative, and give you freedom to experiment with new styles and shots.

Pixpa: What, in your opinion, sets you apart from the rest of the film-makers/photographers?

Matthew: I came to filmmaking in such a roundabout way that I bring a whole range of other experiences to the process. Working as a journalist, for instance, helped me learn how to focus on a story and be able to leave out the extraneous bits. Having spent nearly half my life abroad, I’ve become really attuned to the details of how people live, the finer nuances of culture etc. All this and more is what makes me different, but I think, above all, it is the fact that I’ve loved the way that I can use film/video to tell those stories.

Pixpa: What kind of equipment do you use?

Matthew: Canon DSLRs, primarily.

Pixpa: As a creative person, what are the challenges that you have faced? Tell us how you overcame them.

Matthew: Honestly, when I first started, I had no idea what I was doing. Someone put a camera in my hands and told me to come back with something. It was trial by fire, but I firmly believe that’s the best way to learn. I discovered an incredible wealth of knowledge out there, especially on the Internet – I learnt so much by just reading how others have grappled with the same issues. I taught myself how to shoot, light, edit, create motion graphics, and all of this with the help of a great online community willing to share their valuable knowledge.

Pixpa: What, according to you, will be an ideal project?

Matthew: Most of the projects I work on are under 10-minutes runtime. I would love the opportunity to spend a longer amount of time really digging into a story, its place and people, and to have the funding and time to create something feature-length that tells an important story.

Pixpa: What part of your job excites you the most?

Matthew: Traveling to a new place with a camera in hand!

Pixpa: You have many feathers in your cap. A journalist, film-maker, photographer, graphic designer- which one defines you best?

Matthew: As I mentioned above, I think we are an amalgamation of the things that we have done. Each experience adds to the process of being a creative professional, and I try to keep those lessons handy when I’m working. Sometimes, the most seemingly random experience can turn into the inspiration or answer you’re looking for.

Pixpa:How many projects do you do each year?

Matthew: On an average, I do about 8-10 projects each year.

Pixpa: Any advice you would like to give to the Pixpa community.

Matthew: Take some time to share your experiences! There’s a lot of noise on the Internet, for sure, but it can always use another voice, especially someone who can share valuable experiences. I’m sure that almost every person, who is reading this, has been online, at some point or the other, searching for tips to make their work better. Contribute to the community with your own knowledge!

Pixpa: Tell us about your experience on building your website with Pixpa.

Matthew: Well, I liked the templates and it seemed like a nice “plug-and-play” option for someone who didn’t want to deal with code. I had to deal with a bit of jargon and had to delete some of the pre-loaded content. However, once I got the hang of how the dashboard worked, it was fairly smooth and didn’t take too long to get my website up and running.

In The Spotlight: Photo Tantra

This week, we’re in conversation with Photo Tantra – a team of Indian wedding photographers. Photo Tantra was started by Vinayak and Snigdha in 2009. There’s been no looking back for them since. Today, they’re counted amongst India’s top five dream wedding photographers.

Being a wedded couple themselves, Vinayak and Snigdha understand the enormity and diversity of the emotions behind a wedding ceremony. Photo Tantra provides vividly customized and personalized deliverables with a contemporary touch. Widely traveled as well, they’ve covered about two hundred and fifty weddings in many different countries. With the wedding season round the corner, we got a chance a catch up with Photo Tantra and know more about their journey.

( Check out their profile at Phototantra.com)

1. When did you both plan to become professional wedding photographers? Was it already planned out when you both got married or was it a recent professional choice?

It all happened by chance. Vinayak was already into photography and I was still learning the art. One fine day someone just mailed asking us to photograph his wedding. We were reluctant initially because we had never shot a wedding before. But when we realized that this person had so much trust in us we decided to give it our best shot. We enjoyed the shoot and loved being a part someone’s celebration and happiness that we never looked back after that day.

2. Being wedded and wedding photographers, what are the things that you wish to alter in your own wedding?

If we can ever go back in time, we would hire a professional photographer rather than depend on our friends for photographs. Though we had lots of photographer friends who had come to attend our wedding but looks like they were more interested in the wedding food. One of our photographer friends was more interested in taking photos of Snigdha’s cousin.


3. We enjoy the candid approach you take and the natural feel of each series. How do you avoid going down the path of staging photos and continuously providing authentic looks?

In a wedding it is important to take staged photos also especially family portraits, couple portraits etc but we keep it to a minimum. We try to be as invisible, as unobtrusive as possible. We also try to make sure that the bride and the groom are very comfortable around us so that even if they see us around with cameras they don’t get too conscious. Timing is very important when it comes to taking natural moments. The ability to predict the next possible moment also comes with experience and involvement with the process.

4. If you could only use a few words to describe your style what would they be?

Spontaneous, unobtrusive, staying in sync with the flow, with the process and with the people involved.


5. You both seem to have mastered the new-emerging genre of Wedding Photojournalism. What is it about weddings and this particular genre that inspired you so much?

Weddings are a mixture of many genres. It involves documentary style, glamorous fashion genres, candid like street photography and one also needs to wait for the right moment like in nature or wild life photography. So weddings and wedding photojournalism lets you explore and use so many different styles of making a photograph.

6. Beginning 2009 and spanning about 250 weddings, what is the one wedding experience that stands out in your mind?

Each wedding comes with its own uniqueness because people involved in it are different and unique. It will be very unfair if we pick one. There are wedding though which are funnier, crazier than others and it is always these weddings which keep coming back to our memory. Be it a drunk bride dancing on the latest Hindi item song, or a bride driving her groom like a maniac to reach the venue on time, or the bride asking us to help her zip her gown or blouse. Most funny incidents happen in the makeup room or on the dance floor after a few pegs. Sometimes, the bride, bride’s mother and bride’s sister end up looking the same and we get confused who is who.

7. What would be the top 3 elements new photographers breaking into wedding photography should prioritize?

Practice, develop your own style, experiment.


8. What do you feel is the most challenging aspect about photographing weddings?

Indian weddings are very long and never start or finish on time. The biggest challenge is to keep your energy levels high all the time even at 3 am on a December night and off course manage to take photos in a crowded stage where everyone is jostling for space.

9. Finally, tell us about your experience with Pixpa.

Pixpa has been one of our best decisions. It’s simple yet elegant to look at and has been hassle free which is a great thing because it like your show window where potential clients come to stop by to take a look at your work. It’s the 1st point of contact for any client. So far our clients have only complimented us on how our website looks. The clarity is great, the display and speed is great and service is prompt.

Interview – Kristina Rolander on creating immersive environments and large-scale paintings

Kristina Rolander is a visual artist living and working in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She makes large-scale paintings and immersive environments.  A while back, Kristina realised that her work wasn’t reaching the type or size of an audience she desired when showing in galleries, so she began collaborating with musicians, making custom works to be installed for live shows.

Kristina currently creates handpainted backdrops and is slowly embarking into the world of immersive stage design.

 

“Milwaukee has an amazing music scene and within it, I’ve found a community full of talented creatives crossing over genres and open to collaboration.”

 

You can view her portfolio website at www.kristinarolander.com built on PIxpa.


© Kristina Rolander[/caption]

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

In addition to being a visual artist, I’m a mama to two children – Julien (11) and Vera (5). My son is a musician with a design sensibility and my daughter is a painter with a fashionista personality. My boyfriend, Joey Grihalva, is a writer that covers the music scene in Milwaukee and despite working with different mediums, we are a united creative force. It’s a house heavily immersed in art, music, and culture, and it’s a great time to be an artist in Milwaukee.

Describe to us your college days at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design?

MIAD was very, very intense. I attended college on my own dime and was very aware of needing to extract every possible opportunity from the institution. There was a lot of flux within the school – power plays between the old art school mindsets vs. the new. We had yet to experience the impact of social media and digital technology. We were still grinding limestone rocks in Lithography class and developing film in the darkroom. I’ve always felt as if I’m straddling the line between analogue and digital worlds. I use the computer as a powerful tool in my skill set, but I don’t prefer it for artmaking. For artmaking, I’d much rather use physical materials and create something with my hands.

At MIAD, every student was required to choose a major area of focus. This was difficult for me as I was pushing for an interdisciplinary path. I eventually went into Printmaking at the advice of an instructor. I liked how physical it was, how I could push and pull materials, dig and carve into metal plates, smash colours together through a press. It was also the department with the smallest amount of students enrolled. I was well aware that I could exploit this for my own artmaking exploration. For my senior thesis, I created multiple installations with objects, paintings, video, but with very little Printmaking presence. I definitely found the loopholes in order to make the work I wanted to make, while still meeting the objectives of the class.

How clear were you on what lay ahead?

I really wasn’t at all! However, back then I would’ve told you I had it all figured out. Honestly, I could never have predicted the path my life would take. After graduating from MIAD I worked in a thrift store for minimum wage until I landed a temporary production design job. I was illegally living in my warehouse art studio with a handful of other artists when my best friend and I decided to leave Milwaukee and move to New York City. I had $500 and a one-way ticket. In October of 2002, we both packed a suitcase and headed to the city. We had no friends and lived together in a small room inside a family’s brownstone for the first six months.

My plan was to go to graduate school for film. At the end of college, I got really into avant-garde video and landed in NYC with an idea to “remake the music video.” It’s funny how music has always been the common thread throughout my life. In middle school, I thought I would grow up and design CD covers for bands. In high school, I thought I would be in a band. In college, I briefly flirted with the idea of photographing musicians for Rolling Stone after documenting a few years of my high school boyfriend’s band. When I moved to NYC, I started making collage-type paintings with lyrics scrawled all over, while hitting local shows at night and documenting them with my video camera. Now, I collaborate directly with musicians, blending all of the skills I’ve accumulated thus far – design, installation, painting, and concepting. It’s surreal when you look back at the entire picture of your life and career.

© Kristina Rolander. Photo by Kelly Bolter

© Kristina Rolander

What or who inspired you in your early days?

Everything + anything! I’ve always found really strong women to attach myself to, placing them in mentorship roles. My professor in college, Lynn Tomaszewski, was and is a huge inspiration. As a child, I loved Stevie Nicks and Keith Haring. As a teenager “Siamese Dream” by The Smashing Pumpkins changed my life. In college, I loved Basquiat + Rauschenberg. I’ve been continually inspired by thrift stores, poetry, rock stars, song lyrics, 1970s television, crescendos, adventure … all of the places I’ve ever seen … and all of the people I’ve ever known.

What projects are you currently working on?

For 2017, my goal is to push the stage design elements of my work. I’d like to integrate more installation and create something more immersive for the live shows. I’m currently working on my second project of the year, a stage design for The Fatty Acids album release show. I will be collaborating with Wes Tank who will be creating live visuals and projecting them onto my stage design. It’s my biggest challenge yet and we are both excited by the haphazard surprise element that may happen when it all comes together for the live show.

How would you describe your visual style?

Neon day-glo gypsy glitter rock-n-roll sparkle packaged inside a well-executed dash of design + order.


How has music influenced your life?

“MUSIC IS EVERYTHING” … this is a phrase that my friend Ava once said, which kind of became our informal mission statement. Really, it’s that simple. Music is everything. Music has the power to immediately tap into human emotion, connect and transform us through live performance. Music allowed me to feel when I was numb due to my life exploding all around me. Music gave me a community to belong to. Music brought me the love of my life. Music is the most beautiful form of human expression. Music has saved so many people in their loneliest and darkest moments. It brings us joy. It sings our pain. It makes us feel alive.

Which of your recent works is closest to your heart and why?

The “Bizarro Jungle” set that I created custom for Oakland, CA band Shannon and the Clams is one that I am very proud of. The owner of the venue they played in Milwaukee (Company Brewing) requested I make a backdrop for their show, however, Shannon asked to buy it after they played. The band took it on tour and back home with them to California. It is the highest profile band I’ve ever created for and to make somebody that happy, that I’ve never met, was an incredible feeling. It was also a turning point for my career as it was the first backdrop I received payment for. Months later, I came across photos online of La Luz playing in front of my backdrop! Turns out, Shannon had put it up at one of her Oakland events, a tropicalia themed dance party that La Luz was headlining. To see my little backdrop baby out in the world, sharing the stage with La Luz and bringing joy to people in California made my heart soar. This is the type of stuff that makes it all worthwhile and keeps me invested. It is what keeps me coming back for more.

If you could go back ten years, what advice would you give yourself?

Not to worry so much, that we all have our own timeline. To enjoy your babies a bit more and worry about your lack of artmaking a little less. That you’ll get there eventually, slow and steady. That you can’t buy time and life experience. That life experience is ultimately what makes the work interesting. So go live your life. Experience it. Be free. The work will follow.

What excites you when you look ahead?

That I have no idea what is gonna happen! I always make a list of goals at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year I look back in awe at what was actually accomplished. I also laugh at what I thought was important but eventually fell away and was forgotten. I’m excited to push my work outside of Milwaukee. I’m excited to meet new bands and musicians and collaborators to work with. Mostly, I’m looking forward to (eventually) quitting my day job and becoming a full-time artist. That’s probably the dream I most look forward to and if I pull it off, I’ll be amazed and in awe of what we as humans are capable of.

Any words of wisdom for artists starting out and trying to find their rhythm?

Make a lot of work, don’t stop, just keep making it. You are gonna make a lot of bad work, and you might think at the moment it is profound and revolutionary (I did!) but don’t make it for anyone else. Make it for you. It will get you somewhere and when you look back, you will see clearly how you needed to make that work in order for you to get to that next step. Find mentors. Talk to people. Be kind. Collaborate! Be open. Know that your ideas are not your own but part of a collective conscious, with many others tapped into the same wavelength. Find those others. Find your tribe. Don’t give up. If you keep one foot in front of the other, eventually you’ll get where you need to be. And lastly, eat the fear.

How has your website helped you?

My website is very important as it acts as a complete visual portfolio that anyone in the world can access at any time. I use Instagram like a blog with more lifestyle and process shots, but my website is my professional landing page. Pixpa works nicely for me as it allows my photos to take centre stage, while the rest of the design maintains a minimalist aesthetic that I desire. My artwork should do the heavy lifting. My website should easily support the content that is already there.


Kristina’s portfolio website (www.kristinarolander.com) is built on Pixpa

Featured image photographed by Joe Kirschling.

In the Spotlight: Professional Photographer Atul Pratap Chauhan

This week, we had the privilege to interview a very versatile photographer from India, Atul Pratap Chauhan. Here’s him sharing with us his passion for the medium, his take on weddings in India and working with some of the top-notch brands in the hospitality sector.

Atul’s beautifully diverse portfolio can be seen at:

www.atulpratapchauhan.comand weddingdaybyatul.com.

1. When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer? Did you undertake any professional training in the field?

Actually it was a while back, around 2006. I started my career with the hotel industry; there professional shoots would happen all the time, right in front of my eye, so I got my initial inspiration from there. But Bangalore was the real deal! I met a photographer there who was shooting food at our restaurant and that’s when I got bowled over with this whole thing. I totally fell in love with the shoot. I was particularly impressed by the role of light in photography, which is still such a vast subject actually and how good pictures get clicked in that perfect second!

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2. In India particularly, weddings are a grand affair and can be tiresome for all parties involved. How do you prepare yourself better to undertake a wedding assignment?

Yes weddings in India are super grand and it gets very tiring if it’s not planned properly. I don’t take too many wedding bookings; I do only 12 to 15 in a year and my focus is solely on destinations weddings. In fact, from last year I’ve also started doing wedding films. So it’s been a busy affair for me. But the thing is, I love photography and love shooting weddings and the emotions especially and I think when you truly love something then you really don’t get tired instead you enjoy your work completely.

3. As a highly-acclaimed and written about photographer, what do you feel are five essentialities a novice photographer must keep in mind to better establish themselves in the field?

1-Research, lots of research and actually daily research.

2-Don’t lose hope if you’re not getting the shot. Keep trying and experiment with lights.

3-Read ‘real’ books and try to stay away from information overload on the internet.

4-It doesn’t matter how hard you work + the super long shifts but the moment you hold the camera in your hand, you should be as fresh as ever.

5-Follow less people, get your originality out!

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4. You’ve shot for some of the biggest brand names in the hospitality sector, print industry and agencies. Having covered diverse genres, what according to you, if any, are some of the challenges one must be prepared to face when indulging with such vast, high-end clientele?

As I mentioned, photography is my real love; yes I love my wife too?! I face more challenges in advertising and commercial photography than wedding photography.

My focus is on what the clients want and I try and mix my art with that.

To be honest, shooting hotels and food is a lot more complicated and requires a keen eye. Understanding of the studio lighting along with food and interiors is really important and the challenge is to get to make all the three work in your favor. Planning your shot as per the client’s need is also quite a task and when you’re able to get what the client actually wants, it’s time for a smile?

5. Photography is a dynamic profession. There are new aspects – techniques, equipment, resources and concepts uncovered frequently. How do you update and educate yourself in the field.

It is indeed a dynamic profession and it requires a lot of knowledge skills also. You improve your techniques with the right research and of course, the right attitude. Right attitude doesn’t come easy. It takes a lot of body bending! I conceptualize most of my shoots but I have a good team too. Sometimes I get great concepts from agencies. Working with good art directors is also important, I learn a lot from them. On the self, I draw my learning’s from books but more importantly daily life. It’s a great teacher & it teaches you a lot!


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6. What are some of your favorite books on learning the art of photography and what about them do you love?

I reserve 5% of my each assignment fee for getting books. I love books where there is simplicity and they actually teach you the greatness of craft. Some of the ones I love are –

The photography of modernist cuisine

India – A Timeless Celebration by Amit Mehra

50 portraits by Gregory Heisler

Annie Leibovitz at work

Complete

collection of Ashok Dilwali

7. You have one of the most elegantly designed online portfolios for a photographer on pixpa.com. Share your experience on engaging with us.

Pixpa is a great platform to showcase your work online and that’s the reason I have three Websites on Pixpa.

It’s great with Google rankings, easy to operate and the Pixpa team in general is very helpful.

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