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Reflections from Above

Friday August 1st, 2014

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by Kelley King

Donna Dotan‘s series, “Reflections From Above,” features graphic, colorful photos, shot from atop a variety of New York skyscrapers, looking down the side of buildings at the bustling world below. The reflection in the glass creates a symmetrical NYC scene, and offers a unique look at the city that is likely the most photographed metro area in the world.

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Donna is an architectural photographer and started the series “accidentally” during a shoot in an apartment on the 80th floor at the Mandarin Oriental in Time Warner Center. The views from the apartment were magnificent, overlooking Central Park and Columbus Circle.

I really wanted to get a shot of Columbus Circle, so I wrapped my camera strap around my arm about four times and stuck the camera out through this opening. What I saw was truly incredible and a vision that would inspire this series. I could only point the camera straight down because of the limited opening, and so half of my photo was the view of Columbus Circle, while the other half was its reflections in the glass building that I was in. This photo became the first of what I knew would be a lifelong series.

Donna enjoys the treasure hunt aspect of the project: if she’s in a tall building made of glass, she’s looking for a unique image. Being aware of her surroundings and searching for spectacular reflections is an essential part of her process, but not all of the photos come easily. During a shoot on the rooftop of a 60 story building, Donna’s husband and business partner, Brian Podnos, insisted that she try to do a reflection photo, despite how scary looking down was.

We were a few minutes into twilight at this point, so I had to shoot at a pretty high ISO with the camera handheld on live view in order to see what I was shooting. My camera was literally hanging over the edge of an 800-foot-tall building! When we saw the shot, we were both so excited about how beautiful the reflection was and I was very thankful that he pushed me to do it! Sometimes the best opportunities can be the scariest, but fear should never stop you from capturing a great moment.

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Donna’s project was perfectly suited for a publicity pitch. There are loads of blogs and publications that need a steady flow of content for their readers, and Donna’s pictures provided the kind of eye candy with a back story that those blogs are looking for. So when I reached out to an editor at Petapixel to see if he had any interest, he quickly replied that he loved the series, elaborating that the photos were simple, well composed and, most of all, “not something I’ve seen before.” I sent some more information about Donna and the project, and within two days, the article was live on their blog.

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The article was a hit on Petapixel’s social media too, with 31 shares and 149 likes on Facebook (so far):

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The attention Donna got from Petapixel generated a number of inquiries about her work, and her web traffic soared to about 200 visitors a day. The story has also been picked up by Vice’s The Creators Project blog, Gizmodo, Mashable, ABC NewsDistractify, Design You Trust and more than a dozen other blogs and online publications.

If you’d like to learn more about Donna and her ongoing project, visit her website. If you’re a photographer and you’d like help pitching a project to publications, check out our publicity consulting services or send an email to our publicist, Liz Ream.

 

Tears: Claudia Susana/ Rolling Stone

Friday August 1st, 2014

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Claudia Susana was invited by Rolling Stone to photograph Benedict Jones, who was a victim in an accidental shooting as a child. The piece accompanied a series Rolling Stone was doing about individuals who have been directly impacted by gun violence, and the opportunity to contribute to such a strong story was something she jumped at.

Working with Benedict was a great experience. He’s a bright, enthusiastic and overwhelmingly positive guy, with a number of projects to match his near-boundless energy. He was very open about his story when I asked, and his candor brought a lot to the mood of the resulting photos.

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Reaching the Peak

Thursday July 31st, 2014

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by Kelley King

Adventure is nothing new for French photographer Alex Buisse. Climbing is in Alex’s blood, and he’s most comfortable when surrounded by mountains.

His knack for adventure recently took him to Greenland, where his team climbed, and named, three virgin mountains. For Alex, the expedition was an opportunity to create some meaningful personal work:

I find [personal work] very important, both for my “photographer soul” and to be able to experiment with new styles and new techniques. For instance, following the advice of some photo editors I really trust, I have been making a conscious effort to focus on all the emotions and all the in-between moments that end up making up a huge part of the experience. This trip to Greenland, just as all the spec work I do back at home, was the perfect opportunity to work on this, without the constraints of a pre-defined client brief.



20140427-greenland-397  Tony Hoare skis next to a nunatak wall during a spring storm.

Tony Hoare pulls a pulk prior to setting camp in North Liverpool Land.

The trip came about after Alex saw an email from the Alpine Club about an expedition that was being organized to explore Greenland’s mysterious Eastern Coast. Alex paired up with fellow photographer and friend, Tony Hoare, who jumped at the chance to explore the mountains.

Even though Alex is an experienced mountain adventure photographer, the climate and the remoteness of the climb made it a difficult project.

We knew rescue wouldn’t be quick to come if we got ourselves in trouble, so we had to make sure to keep everything on the safe side and not commit ourselves too far to any ascent. Then there were the conditions: we were hoping to get a lot of ski shots, but were sourly disappointed once we got there: it was two weeks of bullet-hard ice or terrible crust, hardly the stuff of dreams!



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The harsh conditions put his skills to the test:

The weather provided us with its own challenges: too much blue sky for the first week, which made composition tricky when the foreground is also an infinite expense of white. And a big storm on the last four days, which was great for atmosphere but less so for spirits, when we realized we wouldn’t manage to climb our last objectives and had to spend long hours reading, sleeping and eating, stuck in our tents, listening to the winds blow. Such is expedition life.

In the end, Alex’s hard work and long days have definitely paid off. The project has been well received — the story has appeared in several alpine journals, and is being considered for a few specialized magazines. Alex even plans to use the images for a future print campaign to show editorial clients that he is always up for a challenge.

I learned a lot, both on how to photograph more intimate moments and also on how to address the many challenges of a remote expedition. The most important of which would probably be how not to lose one’s mind while tent bound with nothing to do for days on end!

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For more of Alex’s work, check out his website.

Tears: Adam Lerner/ Jetset

Thursday July 31st, 2014

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Hold the Crust

Wednesday July 30th, 2014

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by Morgan Kazanjian

Despite it’s international origins, pizza has become as American as apple pie. For this, I am thankful. And so is Dhanraj Emanuel, who was asked to photograph the pizza of Scissors & Pie … uncooked … and without the crust. Dhanraj has spent a lot of time photographing food, but this conceptual shoot was a deviation from his usual elegant and clean style. When Dhanraj was initially approached about the project, he felt the biggest challenge was the broadness of the guidelines he was given: “let’s shoot something different.”

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That can mean anything. I thought about it for a while along the usual lines of how I shoot — clean, elegant and unpretentious. Then in one meeting, the client mentioned that the specially made oven from Italy wouldn’t be ready in time for the shoot. That was it! My first reaction was we don’t need to shoot a cooked pizza. Let’s play with the ingredients and create something different. We turned a weakness into a strength.

Scissors & Pie is known for their iconic square slices (yes, cut with scissors), so Dhanraj worked with art director Paul Vinod to make sure the images still clearly conveyed Scissors & Pie pizza without, well, pizza. They decided to make the square outline in flour, which seems simple enough, but they ran multiple tests and experiments on which direction the flour should go, and how it should be placed onto the board. For the final shoots, a food stylist was brought in, but the majority of the planning was done prior to shooting.

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The unusual shoot was a learning process for Dhanraj, who discovered he thoroughly enjoyed being part of the formulation of the idea, in addition to his usual contribution of styling and technical abilities.

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I also learned that when you attempt to do something completely different from everything you’ve done before, you must expect that things will go wrong and it’s crucial to build that into the shoot schedule.

The reaction to the images has been very positive, and Dhanraj says he’s looking forward to shooting the cooked pizza. He also says he has something unusual planned for that as well, and we can’t wait to see what it is!

For more of Dhanraj’s work, check out his website.

 

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