When only the best will do: Greg Semu and The Raft of the Tagata Pasifika

From Paul Cullity, Kodak Alaris National Account Manager, Australia and New Zealand
Imaging – Paper, Photo Chemicals and Film

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When visitors to the National Gallery Victoria enter the darken halls of Greg Semu’s exhibit*,  “THE RAFT OF THE TAGATA PASIFIKA,” they encounter dramatic, illuminated photographs that both reimagine 19th century master paintings and challenge the reality the artists portrayed.

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“The Arrival” • 1200x600mm • DuraTrans face mounted to 6mm Acrylic • photographed 2014 editioned 2016 • © Greg Semu and Alcaston Gallery Melbourne

Semu**, a student of the colonization and Christianisation of the Pacific as well as the paintings The Arrival of the Māoris in New Zealand and The Raft of the Medusa, disputes the perception of the Māoris in both of these master pieces. Recreating the paintings using 22 indigenous actors in the Cooks Island, Semu portrays the Māoris as strong, vibrant seafarers rather than desperate, emaciated travelers.

The photographs, which emulate the chiaroscuro style of painting, contrast light and shadows to create a three-dimensional illusion. Semu first developed this style with earlier exhibits, to “extend the action beyond the surface of the painting and into the viewer’s space.”

To achieve this dramatic effect, Semu worked with Colour Factory, in Fitzoy, Victoria (AUS). Colour Factory, with which our team has worked for more than 35 years, is known for its fine art printing. Using KODAK PROFESSIONAL ENDURA Display Materials, Colour Factory created eight large format, light box installations, face mounting the printed images to 6mm Acrylic. This is just one of many collaborations between Semu and Colour Factory, having worked together for the past four years.

Labs like Colour Factor choose our Display materials for the standards we’ve set in quality, productivity, and image stability for photographic (AgX) transparency output media. First, labs know that they will deliver the highest quality output that meets both the aesthetics and longevity required by discerning clients. The clients range from individual artists to museums and galleries to upscale retailers and brands. Second, our roll-to-roll and batch-to-batch consistency ensures our lab customers can create efficient workflows, critical in today’s fast paced environments.

“There just isn’t another product at this standard due to the silver halide technology,” said Phillip Virgo, Colour Factory. “The detail in the blacks & highlights is just not matched at this stage.”

*Greg Semu’s exhibit will run through September 16, 2016.

**Greg Semu is represented by Alcaston Gallery.

 

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My Love Affair with Film

Today’s Film Friday blog post comes from pro photographer Caroline Tran. You can follow her on Facebook or visit her website.

Caroline will be presenting at Imaging USA 2016 in the Kodak Alaris booth #1820.  Join her on January 10  & 11 @ 4:00 PM! We look forward to seeing you there.

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My love affair with film began in college, when I first started taking art classes to balance out the heavy workload of my physics major. I ended up loving photography and one of my professors asked about my future plans; at the time I was set on continuing to get my master degree at UCLA and hadn’t considered photography as anything further than a hobby. He said, “I see so much potential in you,” and encouraged me to audit an extension class he was teaching there. It’s really funny to me now because back then I didn’t think as a grad student I’d have time for my “hobby,” but I loved it.

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I loved the unique, nostalgic look of film and learned the ins and outs of working with it in my classes. While in grad school, I started planning my own wedding and fell right into the beautiful world of weddings and all the gorgeous details that come along with it. I loved the planning aspect so much that I just wanted to have a side business so I could keep my foot in that world. I had no idea that my little business would blossom into what it is today but I’m incredibly grateful to be able to work in a field I love and am passionate about.

When I started in the industry, many photographers were switching to digital photography, and that’s the age we live in. I wanted to go forward with the direction the industry was going, but found myself spending many hours behind the computer editing. Especially having started learning on film, I had a set standard for the look and feel of the colors that I fell in love with in college. I found myself spending an exorbitant amount of time on editing my photographs; I wanted a consistent look for my photos and would spend hours at the computer in post-process, getting all of my digital photos to look like film. The look is really important to me and it’s incredibly difficult to replicate. However, as my business started expanding and I had more opportunities to travel and shoot weddings abroad, I realized that the amount of time on editing wasn’t sustainable, especially if I wanted to be able to spend more time with my family.

I was pregnant with my first son, Cameron, when I made the decision to move to film. If I was spending so much time editing my photos to get that film quality aesthetic, why not just shoot film to begin with? Getting pregnant was the catalyst: I wanted to be able to spend more time with my family and less time behind the computer. I needed my business to be more efficient and wanted to work smarter.

I tried a few different photo labs before deciding to work with Richard Photo Lab. I immediately fell back in love with the process and I saved so much time on editing; it was absolutely worth it. Today with two kids and a thriving business I definitely think shooting with film is worth it to achieve both beautiful photographs and also so I can spend time where it’s important.

The best thing about shooting film is that it brought me back to capturing that look that I started with; I love the nostalgia of it, that unique style that stands out in a digital age.  My favorite film to shoot is (Kodak Professional) Portra 800.  Working with film for me is not just an art style, but an experience; you don’t get to see what you’re creating -you have to really know your craft.  I have to think through each shot, making sure everything is beautifully composed and being mindful about what’s within the frame. Each shot is time and money, and I find that taking that deliberate process for composing each shot creates a very distinct and special product for the client.

Film produces a distinct quality of photographs that is difficult to duplicate. I had come to appreciate this look when I learned how to develop film in college, but when I started my photography business I thought going completely digital would be following industry standard. However, in order to achieve the look of film, I spent copious hours editing my digital photographs during post-process. When my husband and I started a family, I realized this process was no longer sustainable if I wanted to have time to spend with them. I’d decided to switch to film in order to save time, but it also brought me close to an art form that I loved. Photographing with film is a special experience that has no parallel; it’s challenging and thrilling to work to create compelling photographs while working with the limits of film.

Film Friday: Shaun James Cox

Today’s Film Friday guest blog post comes from pro photographer Shaun James Cox.

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Originally from North Wales, I moved to London to study photography. I’ve been working as professional photographer since 2010, covering fashion editorial, exclusive events and society reportage worldwide. I have worked exclusively for royalty, society, fashion houses and celebrities. I work closely with the British Fashion Council, who play a crucial role in nurturing and supporting British talent.

04 Model Backstage at Margaret Howell LCM AW15 SHAUN JAMES COX

I began my photography education by shooting on analogue and being in the darkroom, processing and developing film; it is a beautiful place to learn and work. These days I take my film into labs, but it’s good to have that background of hands-on in traditional photography.

01 Jourdan Dunn backstage at Burberry LCM SHAUN JAMES COX

I shoot my personal work on film. There is something special about film which digital doesn’t quite express: the sense of creation and tangibility, where each frame feels especially important and considered. That said, because many clients often need images the same day, I shoot the majority of my commercial work digitally.  It’s efficient.

03 Designer Casely Hayford backstage SHAUN JAMES COX

Most of the film I shoot is 120mm and I tend to use a lot of Kodak Portra film, especially the Portra 160 and Portra  400 . Both give beautiful tones and colours that work well with my style. I have some Portra 800 stock in the fridge, which I will be using to shoot backstage at this season’s London Fashion Week. Apart from the regular & expired stock I shoot, I have some 35mm colour IR in the freezer that I’m really excited about – it’s just waiting for the right project to get the best from it.

02 Model backstage at the Casely-Hayford show LCM SHAUN JAMES COX

You can follow my LFW highlights here.

Website: www.shaunjamescox.com

Heartfelt thanks

After all the hard work of planning a wedding and then the hustle and bustle of the big day itself has died down, there is still one big task to accomplish.

Thank you cards.

When faced with expressing your gratitude to the friends and family who joined you and supported you on your very special day you may be left with lack of words. A photo card gives you more options for making a card unique. Here are some ideas for photos to use in your thank you card.

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Make a plan with your wedding photographer to get a shot on your wedding day of the two of you holding a Thank You sign. It can even be handmade in your own writing – it still gets the message across.

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Take a moment during your honeymoon to take a picture for your Thank You cards. Something as simple as your handprints and wedding bands in the sand make a charming card photo.

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Getting married is a big news but moving to a new address after the wedding is big too! Share your new address with everyone in your thank you card and feature a photo of you in front of your new abode.

Photo thank you cards help you express how you feel beyond words. These creative ideas will help you design a card that will make the recipients want to hold onto it. And photo cards aren’t hard to create. You can even use a photo you snapped with your phone when you were on your honeymoon. With the My Kodak Moments app, you can make prints, collages and these Thank You cards right on your phone.

The app can be downloaded for iOS or Android here.

The most wonderful time of the year – last day of school

After Christmas and birthdays, the last day of school might be the most exciting day for a kid. It’s pretty good day for teachers too and for parents… well maybe it’s not their favorite day.

Whether you are a kid, a teacher or a parent, here are some project ideas that use photos that will make that last day a fun one.

For kids:

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See your friends off on summer vacation with a sweet sendoff. You can add text to your photo with the Kodak Picture Kiosk before stapling it to the bag of candy treats.

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Or you could add a powdered drink mix and a crazy straw to a photo for a summer treat. Both of these are quick and easy goodies to make for classmates.

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You can’t forget about your teacher. Make a thank you gift that they will really enjoy. Add some garden tools and a photo with a message to a flower pot that your teacher can use over the summer.

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Kids might need help with this project but what teacher wouldn’t love this colorful wreath personalized with their photo to hand in their classroom?

For teachers:

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Let your students know how much you enjoyed having them in class with a sand pail and a photo to remember you by.

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Take a picture of each student holding a sign stating what they want to be when they grow up. When combined into a collage, it makes an adorable print for parents to look back on.

For parents:

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Photo greeting cards are the perfect format for creating Keep in Touch cards. You can add text including contact information and a photo (so kids can tell Sally from Sarah), that will help friends stay in touch and have play dates over the summer.

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After a year of classes you might have a big pile of artwork, tests and report cards. Scan them in at a Kodak Picture Kiosk and make it into a photo book to cut down on clutter around the house.

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Don’t forget to take a picture of your little student on that last day of school to pair with a photo from the first day of school. You will love seeing how they grew over a year. If you just took a quick picture with your phone, you can print these photos with the My Kodak Moments app.

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Since there are long days stretching before you until school starts again, a photo to-do list will help the kids stay on task.

All of these projects and more can be found on our School Tips and Projects page.

How and Why I Shoot Kodak Professional Film at Hawaiian Weddings: Guest Post By Wendy Laurel

Wendy Laurel is a film photographer who shoots weddings, families, and lifestyle work on Maui, Hawaii.  She was selected as a PDN winner in the annual Top Knots wedding photography competition for 2015 and her work has appeared in many wedding publications and blogs, such as Pacific Weddings, Style Me Pretty, Snippet and Ink, 100 Layer Cake, Green Wedding Shoes, and many more.  She lives on Maui with her husband and four children.

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Why I shoot film at weddings here in Hawaii is something I get asked all the time.  All. The. Time.  The simple answer is easy — I shoot film at weddings because I love how it looks. I shoot Kodak Professional film and I find that it gives me the colors of Hawaii that I see with my eye here and does it in a super pretty way.

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I am not a super technical person. They way I can explain what I see with film that makes me want to shoot it exclusively is Kodak Professional films’ colors, the depth in the image, the way film handles light.  Film images always draw me in.

I also have fallen in love with the process of shooting film.  For me, the simpler my process is, the freer I am creatively.   With film, I am freed from looking at the camera back, from worrying about the camera settings beyond the basic aperture and shutter speeds.  That simplicity keeps me in the moment with the people in front of my camera and inspires me creatively.

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People sometimes wonder how I shoot film at weddings as if it was a harder process than digital. But I don’t think it really is.  Here are my go-to’s for shooting film at weddings.

  1. KEEP IT SIMPLE

For the majority of the wedding, I shoot with mainly my medium format camera – the Contax 645.  I also carry a 35mm camera – the Canon 1v with a wide-angle lens, which I use for photojournalistic type shots, movement, and some fun portraits.  I also pack 2 back up cameras just in case.  You never know at a wedding what will decide to break.

I have a ton of film cameras that I love to experiment with.  I love my Rollei sl66 and my toy cameras (Holga and Lomos) and fun and different lenses.  But I pick only one “extra” camera to bring with me to a wedding. And I preload that camera with the film it will need and I usually shoot only 1 or 2 rolls through it during the bride and groom portrait time.  I have found that in older cameras and lenses, using Kodak Ektar film works really well.  The strong colors and contrast from Ektar help work against older lenses loss of contrast.

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  1. MY FILM BAG

I use an old shoulder carry camera bag as my film bag. It has three compartments, which I use for the three different speeds of film I will use during the day.  In each compartment, I have a zip lock bag of unwrapped 120 rolls of film.  On top of each bag is a replacement insert for my camera (Contax 645) loaded with that sort of film.  For me, that’s one compartment of Portra 160 and Ektar 100 mixed (my daylight outside films).  The second compartment has Portra 800 (my favorite inside or nighttime color film). And the third compartment holds Kodak Tri-x 400 (for nighttime reception shots).  There is also an empty Ziploc bag that I use to put in all my shot film.  I also put a couple of spare batteries in my film bag.

On the outsides of my bag are two pockets. In one is Kodak Ektar 35mm film, in the other, Kodak BW400CN and Tri-x in 35mm.  Those are for my 35mm camera- Canon 1v.

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  1. MY ASSISTANT/SECOND SHOOTER

I love to shoot weddings with someone by my side. It makes the day go smoother and I love having someone to chat with and bounce ideas off.  My assistant carries my film bag and reloads the spare inserts for me. When I finish a roll of film, I just turn around and open my camera back, he hands me a new insert and I hand him the insert with the finished roll.  Then he reloads that for me while I’m shooting.  Easy. Peasy.  He also shoots here and there as inspiration hits him.

Of course he doesn’t always have to stand right there with me. In slower times of the day, like the getting ready, I might be with the bride and he will be with the guys and I reload the film myself.  But in the busiest times of the day, its especially handy to have his help reloading the film.

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  1. BRING LIGHT

I shoot film all day and all night. So the reception is shot on all film as well.  For nighttime shooting, I like to bring a variety of lighting tools — 2 video lights and 2 flashes.  The video lights work great for first dances and cake cutting.  I set them up on nearby tables, or one on top of my camera and one held by my assistant while I shoot black and white film.   I have flashes for both the Canon and the Contax and I use those also. Flashes work well for dancing shots and candids.

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For me film is all about both the look I can achieve in my images and the process itself. I find myself being much more creative and artistic with film in my camera.  I love experimenting with things done in camera — double or triple exposures, light leaks, super wide angles or older cameras and lenses.  Its really the fun I have with shooting film along with the images I get back that keeps me committed to film.

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Not Fashion Forward from Guest Blogger – Kosuke Okahara

Kosuke Okahara is a celebrated documentary photographer best known for his in-depth work on Colombia and Fukushima, Japan. He is the recipient of several awards and grants including the 2010 W. Eugene Smith Fellowship, Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography, World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass, PDN’s annual 30 Photographers, and the Pierre & Alexandra Boulat Award. His photography has been exhibited at museums, galleries and international photo festivals around the world.

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Last February, I received an assignment for a kind of job I had never done before. It was from a fashion brand called Comme des Garçons. I haven’t done fashion work so I read the email again. It wasn’t a mistake; Comme des Garçons was asking me to shoot their Paris Fashion week show. They asked me to shoot as I always shoot because the designer, Ms. Rei Kawakubo, wanted to document the day of their collection from the beginning to the end.

Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashin Week.

It was surprising that a big fashion brand asked me to shoot. I was curious so I said yes. When I asked them how they found me, they said they were looking for a documentary photographer for their show and eventually for a direct mail campaign. Comme des Garçons’s direct mail is widely known for its artistic concepts. They had seen my images and liked what they saw. This was a completely new experience as a photographer and I was excited to give it a try.

Junya Watanabe - Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashion Week

Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashin Week.

Comme des Garçons’s asked me to shoot as I always shoot. So I ran out to get enough Tri-X for the day. My guess was that it would be quite dark but I could push the film.

Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashin Week.

The directions I had from Ms. Rei Kawakubo were quite simple. She wanted to express intensity but she didn’t want ordinary fashion pictures. Some people would expect backstage access when shooting a fashion show. But another condition from the designer was “absolutely no backstage”. She didn’t want any disruptions with the models. So for me, that wasn’t much of option. It was challenging in a way, but sometimes limitations allow you to push yourself further and to be more instinctive.

Junya Watanabe - Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashion Week

Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashin Week.

As a first timer going inside a fashion show, I didn’t know what to expect. When I arrived I found a large runway that took up most of the space. This was where most of the action would take place. As a documentary photographer, though, I began to see possibilities beyond the runway. I loaded my camera and started shooting.

Junya Watanabe - Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashion Week

Once the show started, it was impossible to move – there was a huge crowd and the place was packed. So I focused on everything else; the people coming and going, team members setting up, and the environment itself.

Junya Watanabe - Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashion Week

When I shoot, I believe that anything and everything can be a part of the story. Of course sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Regardless, I just keep shooting. That is the most important thing for me when I do stories. It may sound basic but focusing all the time is both difficult and exhausting.

Junya Watanabe - Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashion Week

One of the greatest things of this assignment was that they allowed me to take my time in the darkroom. As they said they wanted me to do it my way, I printed all the pictures on fiber-based papers. I developed the many rolls of Tri-X according to my development recipe, then spent 10 days in the darkroom to print the images. These days in the world of photography, things move very fast but sometimes it is good to take time. Shooting film makes me think more. It forces me to look at images over and over while making contact sheets, choosing images, and then printing images. It gives me more time to understand the pictures during the process. I am not sure if this kind of assignment will happen to me again but it was quite interesting for not a fashion photographer.

Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2014-15 | Paris Fashin Week.