Peaceful Solitude, Alter Egos

Mark Chamberlain

Ispired by the work of Mark Bauer, Joel Tjintjelaar and Charlie Waite, Mark Chamberlain’s shooting preference is long exposure sunrise and sunset seascapes. What is the attraction? In Mark’s words, “It’s knowing that I can capture the passage of time and movement in a single frame”. Recently, his alter ego has taken a sharp left into the world of architectural photography. The antithesis of his seascape photography, Chamberlain is drawn to the unrelenting lines and shapes of today’s urban geometry. His seascapes are breathtaking. His architecture, powerful. He is definitely a photographer you’ll want to follow.

I've always had something of an artistic streak, and although I spent many a long evening closeted in a darkroom while my father developed and printed his own images, I never really took to photography. Then in 2011 I went shopping for an iPad and came out with a Canon EOS 450D. I haven’t looked back since ." Mark Chamberlain

Kujaja: What type of photography do you enjoy most and why?
MC: I prefer my long exposure work. You get time to think and really “see” and experience the world around you during a 5-minute exposure! The end result usually being a very tranquil image.

Kujaja: How did you get involved with this type of photography?
MC: I spotted some images on the Internet that intrigued me. I couldn’t make out if what I was looking at was the sea or clouds, so I investigated further and found that they were long exposure seascapes. So, inspired by many years of watching sunrises and sunsets at sea, I decided that this was a medium I could use to convey the sense of peaceful solitude that those special times of the day and that specific technique engender. Lately I’ve been inspired to do some fine art architectural work, its different and a challenge but equally satisfying.

Kujaja: Who are the photographers who have influenced your photography?
MC: Mark Bauer was the initial inspiration for my long exposure photography, but I guess I’ve always had a preference for Ansel Adams and his black and white work. Recently the Dutch fine art photographer, Joel Tjintjelaar, has been my inspiration and my aspiration is to be as good as him one day. I also attended a one day workshop with Charlie Waite. I would have cheerfully sat and listened to him talk all day and not gone anywhere near a camera. He is a true gentleman and supremely gifted man.

Kujaja: Do you think your images separate you from other photographers?
MC: Probably the hardest question in this interview, I’d like to think the simplicity and minimalism that long exposure seascapes naturally convey along with using plenty of so called negative space does. Someone once described my images as simplistic. Boy did that rankle me. Simple yes, simplistic NEVER.

Kujaja: What is the recurring thread present throughout your photography?
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On Hasselblad and Analogue

Darren Kelland

Whether Kelland is shooting Hasselblad 501, Leica M3, or Canon EOS 5D, his work is easily identified. His frames contain a certain melancholy and, perhaps, a degree of unearthliness. His love of analogue photography and seascapes have created a most unusual and impressive body of work. Why analogue? Darren replies, “I believe that our planet is still very beautiful. Surely landscape photographers should see that more than anyone. The truth is that before I shot with film, I don't believe I did”.

I search for pieces of calm in a busy world. My life is full of important things such as work and family. Photography gives me a moment to myself. I find beauty and peace in minimalism. For this reason I work almost exclusively with black and white photography. I hope in my work, people will see that there is beauty all around us. I shoot for myself, but if others can find something beautiful or peaceful in my photography then I will be content." Darren Kelland

Kujaja: What type of photography do you enjoy most and why?
DK: Black and white, square format, long exposure, and seascapes. Any one of these or a combination of all four will do it for me. Although it can be complex to create these images, I see a great deal of simplicity in the final images that I produce with these characteristics. I like to view images that provide a moment of calm and I find it in these areas.

Kujaja: How did you get involved with the type of photography you’re doing now?
DK: I feel as if I have come full circle as I am currently shooting quite a bit of film photography using a Leica M3 and a Hasselblad 501cm. I found that when I was shooting digital I preferred black and white images and used Silver Efex to introduce grain to my images. Last year my wife announced that she was pregnant and I decided that I wanted to shoot the first image of my newborn child on an iconic film camera. After a little research, I settled on the Leica and then set about acquiring one and learning how to use it. I also fancied a medium format camera and it had to be a Hasselblad.

I still shoot digital but love the challenge that film presents. Digital works in some cases and film in others. I also enjoy shooting with my iPhone. I acknowledge that I have perhaps picked the best film cameras to shoot with but that is because I believe they are beautiful pieces of kit. The final photograph is king. The camera you use should be one that allows you the freedom to articulate your vision.

Kujaja: You commented, “I found that when I was shooting digital I preferred black and white images and used Silver Efex to introduce grain to my images.” However, medium format cameras are often chosen because of the smooth gradation without grain or blur. Do you find that to be true when shooting Leica or Hasselblad?
DK: Absolutely not. I think this is a commentary on MF digital cameras. It also could be due to choice of film. For color I shoot Portra 400 and while it is great quality and low grain, you can still tell that you are looking at a film image when you see the photographs. If you look at Michael Kenna's images you can tell they are film photographs. He shoots Hasselblad film cameras with (mainly) Tri-X film. I feel that grain adds an edge to my images. In a sense they are more soulful than digital images which can be very clean and almost too perfect. With the Leica M3 (which is a 35mm camera) the grain is very noticeable. I find this challenging as you cannot really crop images as they start to break up a little. Best to get it right in camera. Tri-X 400 in 120 (MF) still has grain and I am very happy with the amount. You can buy less grainy films but where would the fun be in that?

Kujaja: It is said that medium format images are easy to detect because they have a signature look that is recognizable due to the lack of perspective distortion, or flattening of the image. Do you agree?
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Uncensored and for the Record

Alex Coghe

If you want it raw, if you want 'in your face', Alex Coghe is your guy. An Italian expatriate living in Mexico he is, among other things, a photojournalist, a writer, an editor, a publisher, an entrepreneur, an educator, and a Kujaja curator. His gifts are abundant. His words are uncensored. Alex Coghe IS a force to be reckoned with.

To follow: Coghe, uncensored and for the record.

A photographer… especially of impulses, visions and nightmares. Hot monochromatic, metropolitan animal, acid and minimalistic pen, bard of low-fidelity and the slums, all sarcasm and very little sanctity, I am rose and chrysanthemum, lost in a barrio of Mexico City, essentially a visual provoker switching between street photography, erotica and fashion ." Alex Coghe

Kujaja: You refer to yourself as a ‘visual provoker’. Literally translated, a provoker is an instigator. Yet you also say you prefer small cameras because they allow you to be discreet, even invisible. These two statements are contradictory. So, can you better explain your meaning of the words ‘visual provoker'?
AC: I don’t think it is contradictory because these things are not related. I use small and compact cameras because, as a street photographer, I need to be “invisible” to document without intervention on the scene most of the time, although sometimes instead I use an approach that is more ‘in your face’ to make visual contact or to exaggerate the visual impact with a certain character. I call myself visual provoker. Maybe it is only an artistic presumption, or maybe, I just take pictures of anything… an old newspaper, the label on a bottle of tequila, lips… especially lips and eyes. Everything is about sex on the streets…yeah, the city is a tasty and juicy vagina and my camera is the tongue.

Kujaja: Your favorite photographers (classic and contemporary) include: Daido Moriyama, William Klein, Mark Cohen, Jonathan Van Smit, and Michael Penn. These photographers all have something in common… a film noir style of street photography. Is that what draws you to them and how does this translate in your photography?
AC: Well, the fact is that I have a propensity for the sick and those guys are pretty sick! Seriously, I love their work because it is not designed to be a pleasant experience. Their photography is not reassuring and, above all, these photographers present fragments. I feel their presence for a lot of reasons. I share their attitude and vision. These are not guys contemplating their own photos with adoring eyes. Instead, they have a need to just go out and create their own thing. This is the fucking attitude in my opinion.

Kujaja: Some of your favorite people outside the world of photography include: author Bret Ellis (Less than Zero, and American Psycho), film director David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, and Mulholland Drive), musician and film director Rob Zombie (Soul-Crusher, Make Them Die Slowly, Halloween), and rock band Motorhead (classic heavy metal). The images each create with words or frames or music are quite similar. How does their style align with your photographic vision?
AC: Tiamat and Type O Negative, also… and Electro Body Music (EBM). Photographers alone are not the only people who influence me. Artistic influence is like food. What I eat influences my body, maybe also my character, right? When I took up photography again, I had abandoned the writing… mostly poems and novels. Fuck, I was very sick then. Writing poems is an admission of loneliness. Still, photography is just a continuation of that path. I imagine that writing about lesbian nuns was no longer a part of my life. I don’t consider art something to be divided into watertight compartments. It is something more fluid than people think. When I saw ‘Tetsuo: The Iron Man’ for the first time, I was pretty disgusted. Any experience, visual and not, can be absorbed. I really don’t know if this is visible in my photography, but the names you’ve quoted and many more are part of me, of what I love.

Kujaja: You have stated elsewhere that Charles Bukowski is your favorite writer. On you Tumblr blog, you quote Bukowski’s, “So You Want to Be a Writer”. In sum, Bukowski says about writing: if you have to search for it, work for it, wait for it, have to copy others for it, don’t do it. Do you feel the same about photography?
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The Path Less Traveled

Roza Vulf

Lithuanian born Roza Vulf is a self-taught street photographer based in Rome, Italy. She has been published in Vogue Italia and recently participated in two London exhibitions: Cityscapes Festival, and Kupala Night Artist’s ‘CUP’. In a photo genre that has been dominated by males for years, Roza is carving out a place for herself in street photography and is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with, as you will see.

I have been interested in photography since I was a teenager. I owned two film cameras, a Smena and a Zenit, and I developed the photos myself. Life imposes its own rules however, so I dedicated my time to my family, kids, and work. Eventually, a few years ago, I finally got the chance to do what I love and started to devote most of my time to photography." Roza Vulf

Kujaja: What does ‘street photography’ mean to you?
RV: It is an obsession, I cannot stop doing it and I treasure every moment while I am wandering the streets. It makes me what I am. I enjoy capturing raw unposed and unstaged stories, and bringing them to the viewer as I saw them.

Kujaja: Who are some of your favorite street photographers, and how did they influence you?
RV: I love many contemporary photographers, as well as the masters. Saul Leiter, Garry Winogrand, Robert Frank, Andre Kertesz, Robert Doisneau and many, many more. Garry Winogrand once said "When I am photographing, I see life. That's what I deal with. I don't have pictures in my head... I don't worry about how the picture is going to look. I let that take care of itself... It is not about making a nice picture. That anyone can do." These are the words of the street photography genius who influenced me and at the same time it reflects how I see it.

Kujaja: What were the difficulties you encountered when you first embraced street photography?
RV: I would not say there were real difficulties. I find it pretty natural to shoot in the streets. I always feel comfortable and relaxed among strangers in a crowd and I love to observe. Obviously I had to figure out what camera settings are the best for me. It took me some time to understand what camera, and especially what lens, I prefer in order to express exactly what I see.

Kujaja: What is the most challenging part about being a street photographer?
RV: It is an endless discovery, full of great surprises. You never know what you’ll bring home after a day of shooting. It makes you sometimes euphoric or deeply disappointed and doubtful. It makes you feel alive and creative. It gives you possibility to show the world through your heart and imagination.

Kujaja: Is it an advantage or disadvantage being a women shooting people in the streets?
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Servant of the Message

Dragan Todorovic

When you sit down for a cup of tea to discuss all things photography with Dragan Todorovic, it is unlikely you will encounter words such as metering or aperture or exposure or calibration. Instead, you will speak of the unknown and the distant, of the philosophical and emotional plane, of shadows on the wall and the illusion of reality. Todorovic will quote Sappho, Salinger, Dr. Seuss, and Murakami as he draws you into the mysterious and untold stories hidden deep within him… images that are waiting to be written.

My pictures are the book jackets for stories I have not written, and never could have written, because they are not stories that can be told in words. I maximize my satisfaction by incorporating as many hidden messages as possible into my pictures. These messages can only be decoded by playing the photographs backwards." Dragan Todorovic

Kujaja: Describe your photographic style. How did you develop your style?
DT: The benefit of picking a style and staying consistent (and I hate consistency, I love to confuse people) is that having a distinct style is just easier to market. Nothing else. And I’m not doing photography to be famous or to sell things and certainly I don’t try to limit my expression to one voice or tone. But if we talk about the way in which something is said, then I can say that I’m trying to replace the monotony of a style with polyphony, or even better a formal polyphony using literary devices – lyrical and essayistic, ironic and tragi-serious, philosophical and parodic.

Kujaja: Does your style separate you from other photographers?
DT: I don’t think so. Perhaps there’s a million of people thinking like me. What it comes down to is that we all have our own way we see the world, how we want our world to look after all. You can call that a style.

Kujaja: What do you consider your greatest photographic accomplishment?
DT: The very first photograph I took.

Kujaja: On your website, you quote Julio Cortázar, “I think I came to photography by way of literature”. Tell us something about this quote?
DT: I think Cortázar was talking about his very own approach to reality. "On a profound level, I am producing literature, I am photographing a metaphor”, he said. As Jefferson Hunter observed, "Somewhere in the vicinity of every photograph there is a hand holding a pen.” People should read more. People should read Cortázar. Instead of reading this, they should go and buy ‘Autonauts of the Cosmoroute’. Julio Cortázar and his wife, photographer Carol Dunlop, made a collection of stories and snapshots along the French AutoRoute. Cortázar had to finish the book alone because Carol died at the age of 36 before she saw it to completion. Or at least watch Michelangelo Antonioni's ‘Blow-Up’ based on Cortázar's story ‘Las babas del diablo’ (The Devil's Drool), where the blow-up reveals that what he thought he saw was, in fact, something else. So, for me, photography is literature meeting light.

Kujaja: What were the difficulties you encountered first starting photography?
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