2012-03-01. M.I.A… Mea Culpa.
Above: Me, out of town, on and off assignment.
Well? I profusely apologize for my absence. I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties. Truth is, I’ve been busy busy. And after all was shot and the day was done, I was faced with an acute writer’s block.
(What I was doing mostly was posting my little adventures on Instagram - I LOVE INSTAGRAM. If you end up missing me, even just a little bit, then what better way to keep up than to follow me there. My username is @joaocanziani . I promise not to disappoint… There’s me, above, on and off assignment, and then below, some outtakes from various latest shoots, and then below that, some instagram pictures “off duty.”)
Funnily enough, the year started a little slow that I got a little worried. But folks, the lesson here is that you cannot just sit on your ass and wait for things to happen. You have to make them happen (but you know that!).
So I got a call to shoot a fashion story in Palm Springs at the beginning of February. It wasn’t a huge budget but it covered my assistant, some equipment, and my flight. I decided to do it, and take the opportunity to do some portfolio meetings in LA. Oh, and tell the whole world that I was going there, via email communication, and using the wonderful social media methods (they really work, do embrace them, just don’t overdo it).
The meetings went great! I brought a couple of very fresh and very fragrant portfolios to ad agencies such as TBWA-Chiat Day, 72 and Sunny, and magazines like The Hollywood Reporter, among others. Then the calls started coming in. For the first time, it seemed, the news that I was in the West Coast was an alluring proposition for photo editors. First, it has a lot to do with building relationships, and even forming friendships if one is of similar sensibilities (which you may very likely be since we’re all involved in the wonderful world of photography). Once they love you, and you love them back, they’ll follow you wherever you go (it’s a continual earning process).
Second (with apologies to LA photographers), I booked myself as a local. Meaning I take care of my travel and my accommodation while in LA. This may seem obvious to some, but it’s important - at least to me - to go to great lengths to get the job. If I really want to shoot something, I will do whatever is necessary to shoot it. An editorial feature is an incredible opportunity for exposure, promotion, and putting something fresh in my book.
With one shoot in particular, I found myself weighing things in my head for a moment: I was very willing to fly myself somewhere (from LA) in order to do the shoot, even if the magazine was unwilling to pay for the flights, because the assignment was too good to pass up. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do that at the end, but I learned that communicating this keenness was invaluable.
So what was a short work trip to LA turned into a longer trip with visits to San Diego and San Francisco (including more portfolio meetings there and a little day trip to wine country in Sonoma). Then I was back in New York for a day, leaving to Peru for another assignment the following day. By the time I was done, I was absolutely fried. But I loved it loved it all.
I’m back in New York now, available for more.
2012-01-09. In the spotlight!!
Let’s start the new year right! My other blog, Subliminous.com, the one that has taken over my obsessive-compulsive photography life a bit, is now featured on Tumblr’s Photography Spotlight.
Well, hell, cheers to that! And Happy New Year!!
I’m still floating in the clouds from the news I got yesterday: This blog is now listed in Tumblr’s Spotlight for Photography. Not that it should matter, but a little bit of recognition feels good. So if you’re already following me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And if you think your friends and your loved ones will enjoy this blog too, then go ahead and spread the word.
Thank you to my good friend, talented photographer, and NYC-partner-in-crime Nick Onken for the cool portrait of me shown on the Spotlight page. This was taken just this past New Years Eve at my place, surrounded by a few good friends. Thank you to the Tumblr editors as well, whoever you are. Ok, now go check out all the other awesome photographers listed on the Spotlight and follow them too!
2011-12-22. Have a happy Subliminous holiday.
If you got a little box from me like the ones above, then I think you’re a very lucky guy (or gal) because it means I love you lots. (Please don’t be hurt if you didn’t… It was very very hard to put together a list of good friends, photographers, family and friends to send these to.)
I used the send the usual holiday cards in the past, but this year I felt like doing that was a little boring and too predictable. I not only wanted to promote my photography through my Subliminous blog, I also wanted to send something impactful that people would enjoy. So I came up with the crazy idea (it seemed crazy at the time), of sending a small chocolate with the word Subliminous embossed on top. My inspiration for these chocolates (and the name of the blog) was this Peruvian chocolate I used to love when I was a kid, called Sublime. (The name for Subliminous comes from Sublime, and Luminous… but I don’t know if that gets lost in translation now.)
Then I came up with the idea of sending a sticker with the blog info. Again, a business card or a small postcard with a picture seemed the typical thing to do. Who sends colorful stickers these days, specially photographers?
My idea for the design for the stickers came from these Peruvian Chicha music posters I used to notice in the outskirts of Lima (like above). Growing up in Lima, I used to take them for granted, but then living so long abroad gave me a new-found appreciation for them. In fact, once I started researching this style, I became obsessed with it, and even started noticing them in New York.
So the research began. First, a chocolate maker that would be able to emboss the word Subliminous on the chocolate, in a similar fashion to the Peruvian chocolates. This seemed impossible. The chocolate makers I talked to either couldn’t do it in time, couldn’t emboss the words, or they would be prohibitively expensive. These chocolates were too “nice,” like the fancy ones with filling people usually send to clients. What I wanted was something a bit more commercial, if you will, that looked a little more retro. Not so sophisticated please.
I was looking in all the wrong places.
If it wasn’t for my amazing studio assistant Kathryn, I don’t think I would have been able to pull this off. She found the perfect company that could do these, and they tasted pretty good too!
Well, the next step was the packaging. How were we supposed to mail these? Again, I wanted something colorful that people would be eager to open, similar to say, a box of postcards or greeting cards you find at gift shops. Doing something like that, beautifully designed and printed on really nice paper, was also way too expensive. So Kathryn looked up and down the internet for something appropriate. She ordered box samples from various companies, such as small wedding cake boxes (the kind you give to departing guests with a piece of the wedding cake). But these proved too flimsy to mail anything in them. And they came in very limiting (and cheesy) colors.
So we pored over the U-Line shipping catalogue to see if there was anything there we could use and customize. (If you don’t know U-Line, then it is about time you should… they have everything you need in order to ship your artwork or whatever, and they’re pretty nice and efficient too.)
After a little back and forth, and some brainstorming, we came up with the perfect solution: We decided to ship them in these small corrugated boxes measuring approximately 3 x 2 x 1 inches, and designing another sticker that would be die-cut in the shape of the box that we would then wrap the box with (above). We could design this sticker in the same Chicha style to the inside sticker.
I don’t have any of these chocolates left, but I have plenty of these stickers, “From João with love…” If you would like one, you can email me and I’ll mail you one.
Happy holidays from Perú lovely people.
2011-12-12. Common for Respect Magazine. And zombies.
I’ve been wanting to shoot more celebrities since I moved to New York. Seems counterintuitive, since they all appear to congregate in Los Angeles. But no matter, I see that New York-based photographers I admire shoot them often here too. It has been challenging to get, but it’s possible.
So when Casey and Monique of Kids With Candy Productions (who apart from having a full plate producing, also moonlight as photo editors for Respect) approached me with the opportunity to shoot Common, I jumped on it. It didn’t matter if I had to shoot him at midnight, or could only have him for five minutes. I would do it. I would adapt.
Careful what you wish for. All shoots come with their own particular set of challenges. But this one, ohhh.
We were told the shoot was going to take place at Warner Bros. in midtown. Call time was to be 4:30 pm on a Wednesday. After a lot of back and forth over a couple days, that changed to Thursday at 6:45 pm. Thankfully I was still available.
Since I wished to shoot him on the street as well, I wanted to head to the location a couple of hours earlier and scout around the area. And as it was going to be dark already, I decided to bring some lighting for that as well. (I was getting really excited… I wanted to try a colored gel or two on one of the strobes and attempt to get a sodium vapor look to one of the outdoor setups.)
Once we got there, and after more than half an hour of attempting to get all our equipment up the building, we were told by the receptionist upstairs that the shoot location had changed. We would have to meet Common and his team at Jay-Z’s Roc The Mic Studios down on West 27th Street.
We headed back downstairs and hailed a cab. I really don’t know how we did it, but my assistants Pete and Adam and I fit in the cab like sardines with all our equipment. Once we got to Roc The Mic, I got word that shooting him outside was no longer an option (no sodium vapor options this time). Fortunately there was a whole empty floor upstairs from the studio, white walls and clean. A blessing in disguise.
We got setup, went through scenarios, and waited until Common was ready. We waited….
Mr Common shows up finally with a small entourage of mostly women. Another man puts some music on from a small portable stereo. We get to work. Common was gracious and charming. But best of all, he was into the ideas I suggested… like, “let’s jump!” (see below)
What’s the moral of the story? At the end, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and all that. The shoot turned out amazing. I was so happy with it, that at the end of the shoot I got away with shooting Casey, Monique and my kind assistants Adam and Pete, acting out as… Zombies!
(Must have been because I was watching The Walking Dead at the time.)
2011-12-07. You go mom! A Helen Hamann exclusive.
If you’re like me, you may be having a really hard time choosing gifts for your loved ones. Well, here’s an idea. What about a beautiful hand-knitted alpaca sweater, made with lots of love in Peru, and designed by none other than… Yes, my mom.
Yet if your loved one prefers knitting those sweaters herself, here’s another idea: A calendar for 2012 of her designs, the patterns of which are available by purchasing this calendar.
Or hell, just get the calendar because I think it’s going to look great on your office wall. And because I’m really happy with how it turned out. I shot these pictures for my mom a few months back here in the studio, and got my very talented friend Oscar Ramos Orozco (of Behance fame) to design it.
Thank you so much Oscar, and thank you to the sultry Tereza Janáková for modeling these sweaters for us.
You can purchase the calendar here.
Or view more of my mom’s sweaters on her website, helenhamann.com.
A few more pages from the calendar following…
2011-12-02. Getting jiggy with it.
Now that the weekend is inevitably approaching, I leave you with these pictures of honorable members of the New York photo community “networking,” as they do best. Pictures I took with my trusty, yet lately a little unreliable (the shutter is sticking… do I really have to take it to Nippon Camera for the 4th time?!) Yashica T4. (I insist on shooting with it because it’s the most amazing feeling to get the pictures back after the anticipation of waiting for the film to be developed. (Pardontherunonsentence.))
So ok, these are from a couple of very official photo parties that I always love to attend, now that I live here: The PDN Photo Plus Expo Bash, and the American Photography and Illustration Party.
Enjoy. Have a great weekend. Until next time. Love you and all that.
Ms Ani B. and hired model and Ms Jess A.
Mr Andrew H.
Me and Ms Ali U.
Ms Anais M. and Ms Jeanne G.
Mr Marcos C.
Mr Ture L. and Ms Amy W.
Ms Amy W. getting socked (?) by… Ture? I don’t recall this.
Panda sightings on the street.
Mr Jake S.
Ms Victoria R. and Mr David B.
If you’re reading this, please notice the details. Do you see a third face? Hmmm?
Ms Ernie M.
Mr John L. and…? Geordie, is that your ear?
This is Geordie. Mr Geordie W.
Ms Sabrina B. and Ms Jessica A. Sultry.
Ture and Amy, making up, post sock.
Feathers. That’s it.
2011-11-23. Ninety nine portraits.
Ex-cop: ”Do you know what it means to be an anarchist?! It means I will brutally rape you and take all of your power and dominate you. It’s survival of the fittest.”
Anarchist girl: ”Whatever, man.”
— Overheard at Zuccotti Park, October 25, 2011.
This was just some of the colorful and varied dialogue we were witness to while shooting this project. Ninetynineportraits.com is now live.
I’m a contrarian at heart. Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park was an event that overwhelmed my social media life. I didn’t want to be yet another photographer in NYC documenting or tweeting about it. There was something about it that was calling me however. I needed to look for myself. I needed to be a part of it. Not to protest, but to stand there and sort of “shake hands” with everybody involved (the camera gives you unprecedented access if you really let it). To witness firsthand an important event I think we’ll remember for a while.
It turned out to be one very rewarding experience, and very fruitful in my mind, despite the devil’s advocates (i.e., one Bryan Formhals…) telling me otherwise at first. Because on those two days I met all kinds of passionate and/or crazy people. Including a young man apparently so high that he was operating on a completely different level (hope you don’t get to run this country when you get a little older). The asshole that stood there and told prospective subjects not to pose for me because he claimed I would be profiting from all this. The lady who sold buttons right in the middle of the park, with the words written “WE ARE THE 99%” for five dollars. Five dollars! To visitors and tourists alike. The irony.
This is why I was fascinated with this. At first I was received with indifference. But then I felt I belonged there as much as the next person. For those two days, my seamless and my strobe lights became as much a part of Zuccotti Park as the tents and the banners. And just like they didn’t seem to mind (or care) that the button lady was selling buttons there, most of the young protesters there met me with kindness and open-mindedness, eager to pose for my camera.
This wasn’t just a protest. In my mind, this was also a reflection of who we are as a country. You may think your neighbor is out of his mind, but you let him be. And he probably thinks the same of you, but he lets you be too. (In most cases anyway.)
At any rate, Happy Thanksgiving, no?
2011-11-20. The 2011 NYC Marathon, two weeks ago today.
I ran my first marathon two weeks ago today, on Sunday, November 6. I decided to bring the Yashica T4 and a couple of rolls of film, and shoot the experience. Here are some pictures from that day, and a couple from the day after. I wish these pictures could capture the excruciating pain and excitement and ultimate euphoria. They’ll just be quiet reminders instead.
A few people have said that running 26.2 miles is not a good thing for the human body. Quite a few tell me about issues with knees. Yesterday a friend was telling me about a friend who had to quit at mile 18 because he started feeling a weird pain in one of his legs. Doctors checked him the next few days but found nothing. So he got a CAT scan and they found a brain tumor, thankfully discovered in time.
Anyway, I didn’t want to listen to those people. There’s a lot we do that is unnatural to the human body. We smoke, we fly in space, we drink to oblivion. If you think about it, we’re killing ourselves every day, with these pleasures and addictions that we can’t seem to shake off. Well, every day that goes by gets us closer to death. A little excess sometimes is not a bad thing. Tempting death, even in minuscule amounts, is a reminder that we’re very much alive.
Those people were right. But who cares?
Because me too, at around mile 18 (the famous “wall” comes at around mile 20), started feeling these cramps in my legs, and they intensified as I continued. They became so unbearable towards the end that I had to stop for a little bit. I drank some gatorade, ate a little banana. And started walking again. I seriously thought that I was going to have to walk the last three miles.
People on the sides are screaming my name, because it’s written on my t-shirt. There’s thousands of people watching this thing. With a little of that encouragement, I thought, What’s a couple more miles? I started running again. They seemed the longest and most painful I have ever experienced. I mentioned to some friends afterwards that my legs felt as if they had turned to glass, and I could easily shatter them any minute. There was really no option but to ignore the pain and continue.
My mistake was probably starting too fast. My dad, who was tracking me online from Peru, wrote me an email right at the beginning, “João!! Slow down! You’re going too fast!!” Dad, I wasn’t checking my emails at the time… Well, I paid for it at the end. But that’s ok. I did it just under four hours, and that to me was quite an achievement.
2011-11-18. In light of recent events.
I took the following pictures on October 21st and 25th at Zucotti Park in downtown NYC. Behind-the-scenes — sort to speak — taken with my Yashica T4 while I was shooting a personal project there, which I will unveil early next week.
Like virtually every photographer in the NYC area, I decided to visit the park and check it out. Unlike today, it was relatively calm then. The atmosphere was welcoming. The protests peaceful. The park had also become a media circus, and a tourist attraction. Businessmen stopped by on their lunch breaks. German and Japanese tourists took pictures as if this was one more stop in their Manhattan itinerary, right after walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.
So I got the crazy idea that I wanted to do something photographically about it. I wanted to take portraits of the people I encountered there, to perhaps shed a light to the whole phenomenon that Occupy Wall Street has become. In my mind, it didn’t just have to be the protesters. This had become something more… I’m oftentimes more interested in how we perceive an event in reality than the event itself. And this perception nowadays includes and is saturated by the Media, twitter, Facebook, and every passerby with their iPhone camera. But this was crazy because I thought, “how am I going to come up with something original from something I feel everybody and their mother is covering ad nauseam?”
Only time will tell.
So wait till next week for this project. I’m really excited about it. In the meantime, enjoy these.
2011-11-10. American Photography 27!
If you’re in NYC, tonight is the AI-AP party. What’s that, you say? Another expensive photography (and illustration) competition, that’s what. Yet the photography they pick year after year is always impressive, influential, and raw. I always look at the books they publish of the winning entries for inspiration. They throw a good party too.
Apologies in advance if you’ve already seen the image below to death. Well, happy to announce that it was “selected” to be included in this year’s book. In addition, the image above (from my Ciudad Natal series, which I will unveil soon), was “chosen” to appear in the AI-AP website.
Now let’s get those commissions rolling!! (Right.)
Today I’ll be posting other winning entries that were selected and chosen for this year’s American Photography on Subliminous.com. There’s some amazing stuff in there. Take a look.