The thing I like about writing - the process of thinking about the context, the current issues, the audience, figuring out what I'm trying to say, and then how to say it - in so many ways it's just like taking a photograph - and it's great practice in putting things in perspective. This all came to mind while writing the President's Message for the latest ASMP New Mexico Newsletter - http://asmp-nm.org/nm/newsletter/ASMP-NM-Summer2014.pdf
This past spring, i contributed to a kickstarter project called "original pin'. it's a 35mm pinhole camera kit, and something about the simple, beautiful wooden aesthetic really captured my eye. last week, i finally received a little package in the mail: a bag full of parts.
i was a little surprised. there were no instructions - just a link to a video tutorial (seriously, that was the biggest bummer. please, please, please make a pdf, so i'm not reliant on an internet connection and scrubbing repeatedly through video when my hands are full of pieces and glue and tools. that was truly a bit of a bummer). and i'm not particularly mechanically inclined.
it took longer than i expected, and not everything fit together at first, but with the persuasion of metal files, sand paper and a mallet, i eventually had all the pieces in place. when was the last time you actually built or made something - even if from a kit? the treasure here isn't just the finished camera, but the whole process of putting it together was enormously satisfying. the first roll of film is in there now - it remains to be seen what the images look like. but it was still a great project for a few summer afternoons...
more info about the camera, in case you want one, too:
I'm an avid and voracious podcast listener - from the proliferation of amazing storytelling shows like This American Life, The Moth, Risk, Snap Judgement, etc, to innovative documentary like Radiolab and 99 Percent Invisible, to interview-style conversations like Fresh Air, Marc Maron's WTF and Design Matters. And during my decade+ tenure as a dj on "college" radio at WAMH, WZBC, and KUSF, I've interviewed countless musicians and artists.
I'm used to conducting interviews, and listening to them - but now I've been on the "other side of the camera", as it were: I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Josh Rossie for his Full Time Photographer podcast.
My favorite aspect of the experience is how the process of answering questions really gave me new perspective and insight on my process and personal philosophy about my work. We had a great conversation - give it a listen!
I think every photographer secretly hopes to have a book of their work at some point in their career. Thanks to well known New Mexican cookbook authors Cheryl and Bill Jamison, I had my first opportunity last year, creating all of the recipe, atmospheric and cover images for the 20th Anniversary edition of their James Beard award winning book, "Smoke and Spice." The Jamisons are noble royalty in the world of the smokin' arts, and it was an honor and a pleasure (and a delicious undertaking) to produce the images for the book. Added bonus - my dear friend and maestro chef/stylist Stacy Pearl was my comrade in arms.
On a personal note, I had discovered this book nearly 5 years before, after meeting Cheryl for a shoot for Local Flavor magazine. We had just bought a smoker, and weren't having much luck. When I mentioned this, and Cheryl said she had a book on the subject, I went straight to the Santa Fe Cooking School to pick up a copy. We have smoked away countless weekends with this book over the years, and cherish our old dog earred, mop-stained copy.
You can find the book here on Amazon (or better yet, buy it at your local bookstore!): Smoke and Spice.
It's spring, and I've been hard at work completing the Gastronomica story for the 15th Anniversary issue for Trend Magazine, to be published this summer.
As I pause from editing photographs, I'm tempted to look back at the images I created for last issue's Gastronomica, featuring Chef Charles Dale and his new restaurant, Bouche.
Following is an excerpt from the story I wrote to accompany the images:
It’s early evening at 451 West Alameda, and Charles Dale surveys the room. The space is intimate for a restaurant, seating 36 in a building more than 70 years old. It was once a grocery store, once the restaurant Aqua Santa, and is now the stage on which Bouche Bistro entertains. Dale is at the helm of the open kitchen, framed by the reflective steel of ovens and range and the brilliant copper service table before him.
His perspective is part logistics, part preference. Dale, who was born in France and pals around with luminaries such as Jacques Pepin, made significant upgrades to the essentials of the kitchen and aesthetic revisions to the entrance floor and the booths that border the room. However, he had no desire to change the overall blueprint and even commissioned hand-aged furniture by local craftsman to match the original wooden plank floor and maintain the overall ambiance of a historic dining area.
But Dale is also in that precise position because he is both chef and restauranteur. From his location in the kitchen, he can see everything–from the first patron of the evening as he enters the door, to the expression on the face of a diner after her first taste of the meal. The room is his instrument, and he pays careful atten- tion to the pitch and tone, tuning flavors, lighting, and pairings to curate the quintessential evening meal.
My hometown of Santa Fe would never be mistaken for an industrial mecca. An epicenter of art? You bet. A destination for all things turquoise? Unquestionably. A budding film production hub? Trying. But there is very little made on a mass scale here - Santa Fe, pretty much all of northern New Mexico, for that matter, still boasts a thriving artisan community - weavers, potters, farmers, jewelers making things the old way, by hand, either the way they learned as children from the hands of elders, or the way the mentors they came here to find, who still remember the traditional ways to make things, showed them. Click here to see the Custom Hatters of Santa Fe.
That handhewn quality is one of the things that felt right, that made me feel right at home, from the very beginning when I first migrated here from my native San Francisco. And in my time here, I've had the honor of photographing the hands of many artists, producing many things the old way - as when I spent a few weeks documenting the journey of a pot from buckets initial dirt clay dug from sacred pueblo land to the final fired piece with potter Linda Trafoya Sanchez. I've photographed sculptors staining their pieces with pigments made from minerals found on their land, weavers working with yarn sheared and spun from the flock down the road, dyed from their garden vegetables. It's all pretty damn hands on, and after a few years of driving up and down and all around New Mexico, I thought I knew the the basic lay of the land, artisanal-wise, like the back of my hand, as it were.
Then I received an assignment to cover a trade I never knew existed: The Secret Arts of the Custom-Made Cowboy Hat. Little did I know that while classic cowboy outputs such as Austin, Texas no longer boast a single custom hat maker (according to my inside source in Santa Fe...), Santa Fe lays claim to no fewer than three custom hat makers. Not only that, but for those of us who fetishize tools of the trades - the old coffee can buckets filled with a painter's favorite brushes, the geometric array of a jewelers gadgets, or a chefs' arsenal of personal knives - the things the mad hatters of Santa Fe use to make those custom hats are intriguingly vintage, and could be considered objects d'art in their own right. There are the symmetrical rows of aged wooden blocks representing every size of head, the antique sewing machines used to adhere the lining to the hat, the metal type used to imprint the owner's name upon that lining, and the queen of them all, a spectacular victorian contraption called the conformateur, used to "memorize" the irregularities of one's head and convey those to the actual dome of the hat.
The tools, the methods, and the makers themselves were rich in character and history. This story was originally produced on assignment for Santa Fean magazine, but I could easily see extending it for yard to come. Who knows - maybe I'll even own my own cowboy hat one day....
Exciting - the Wonderful Machine Blog features my series on pioneer beekeeper Les Crowder! Read Karrisa Olsen's write up here:
The full photo essay is on my site, here: http://gabriellamarksphotography.com/for-the-love-of-bees
In celebration of the US debut of Baron Wolman's "Groupies" exhibit, I created a "Groupies" photo booth in the gallery to inspire opening reception visitors to emulate their favorite photographs. So many people are inspired by the fashion and personalities captures by Baron's iconic 60's era portraits that it was fun to create a discrete moment of limelight for them to play. Baron Wolman was the original chief photographer of Rolling Stone Magazine. In addition to his vast archive of epic music portraiture, his "Groupies" portraits are currently on exhibit at Kristin Johnson Gallery in Santa Fe.
Host and owner Ziggy Rzig pours a rare belgian beer from the tap at his new restaurant "Omira Grill". I photographed Ziggy, his wife, chef Sally, and the restaurant for the October issue of Local Flavor. Read more on my food blog, "Eat Santa Fe."
The onset of summer triggers the return of the yard sale. Major intersections blossom with flourescent paper, taped to upturned moving boxes, bearing addresses scrawled in sharpie pens. For some, yard sales aren't just a pre-moving ritual or an annual downsizing of household clutter; yard sales are a steady means of regular income. For those with the saavy to aggregate inventory, especially within a specific genre, yard sales become makeshift outdoor storefronts.
Usually the garden variety yard sale, while fascinating if you stop to explore the minutiae of discarded desires and retired appliances, is a bit of colorless blur on the drive-by.
But one Saturday morning this past summer, on my return from an early morning shoot, the site of this particular yard sale was so arresting, I actually had to stop, turn around, and return, just to take it in. I don't know what it was - I'm rarely, if ever, drawn to a pink pallette, but something here - the vibrance, the promise of little pink patterns, the repetition of form, the showy driveway window-dressing - it just hypnotized me. It said summer. Not my summer, really, but all the little summers that would be seen and run through and stained and eventually outgrown by these little pinks.
The days are getting shorter now, and there's even been a roaring fire or two in the kiva to stave off the approaching chill. Much as I love fall, when I look at this image, I can already feel nostalgia for summer - all those little summers - settling in.