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Photo Student: Part Two

Charlie Naebeck is the other amazing photographer I was able to speak with.  He's nearing the end of his tenure with Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design and he's got an incredible body of work to show for it.

His grandmother was a photographer and gave him his first camera; a Polaroid 600. Now he's seldom seen without one. World renowned fashion photographer Stan Malinowski told me the reason he got into photography was to be able to talk to people... and girls... but it was a tool for conversations he otherwise might not have. Here's what Charlie had to say:

"I feel particularly drawn to photography over other mediums because it acts as a gateway of opportunity to interact with people and places I would otherwise not get to meet or see in my lifetime. I find it keeps me inspired due to continuously changing what I am seeing and experiencing. One day I might be in the studio photographing head shots, while the next I could be half way across the world photographing for a client or fine art project."

Image for the fall edition of a' la MODE magazine

Image for the fall edition of a' la MODE magazine

During breaks from school Charlie continues to work hard in his field (something I urge all students to do). He recently connected with photographer Jordan Matter for work in New York.

"Jordan wrote a blog post titled The Power of Yes. I read his post and it immediately resonated with me that this was something I do myself. I say yes to things people could say no to because they think it's too hard or difficult to accomplish and I make positive experiences and opportunities out of it. I was so inspired by the entire finding of my life mantra, that I headed to a tattoo shop with one of my friends to get THE POWER OF YES tattooed on my left inner forearm. I continuously use this approach in photography. What can I make if I say yes and continue to create new opportunities? "

Prior to school Charlie held a few jobs, like cashier, cook, logo designer, website developer, musician (played in 5 bands), record label owner (twice), supervisor, book printer, programmer, photographer, artist, farmer, philanthropist, activist, producer and audio engineer. 

"Sometimes experiences overlap and sometimes they take you down different paths that split off in life, just like the experience of getting laid off from my IT supervisor job inspired me to head back to school. "  

A Night at the Park

A Night at the Park

In Waiting

In Waiting

The above images aren't traditional film nor are they traditional digital. They're experimental, combining elements from both processes. 

"I have been very interested in old processes lately like film noir, wet collodion and black and white film. I also have a background in IT. I thought it would be great to mash up worlds and experiment with what could be created if I combined partial old processes and partial new process. In these images I experimented with the process of photographing digitally, using a projector as an enlarger to print onto photo paper, then hand developing the prints. I later scanned them, photographed various textures and overlayed them in post to emulate that of wet collodion without the harmful chemicals. I have been curious if one can tell the difference between true wet collodion verses experimental wet collodion. "

Much like a Mac with an Intel processor running Windows and OS X, Charlie can follow technical guidelines down to the sub-atomic particle as well as enjoy the freedom of shooting from the hip. 

"(While abroad in Italy) I would go on mini day trips with my friends and do nothing but blindly shoot from the hip for the entire day without looking through the view finder. Sometimes I would find the work was compositionally sound, where others I would get this completely different creation that I would have never thought about as a different way to see whatever it was I was shooting. It was continuous excitement to print and see what new surprises awaited me every time I shot. I ended up doing a show at U of M where I put up the entire lot of photos I shot in Italy no matter if I thought they were good or bad."

Fashion shoot at Rockaway Beach

Fashion shoot at Rockaway Beach

Fashion shoot for a' la MODE magazine

Fashion shoot for a' la MODE magazine

When he's not photographing fashion (which he has an amazing eye for!) he's working on projects with powerful messages.

"I am working with the topic of body image and the celebration of diversity of the human form through black and white photography. I had a friend that passed away from bulimia. Being I photograph a lot of fashion and commercial work outside of my time spent at the University of Michigan, I wanted to use the opportunity for my thesis to explore taking body image out of the contexts of what the media commonly brain washes culture with. My goal within the next year is to photograph 300 male and female figure nudes of anyone 18+ that wishes to pose. I am conducting an interview with each individual that poses for the project to speak with them about their views of body image, why they decide to pose for my project and how they see body image being looked at in the future. I am also writing my own perspectives down about each shoot I complete to answer the same questions after each photo shoot to share my own insights and am opening up commentary to third party viewers who want to share their experiences either with the work or with their own experiences with the topic of body image. I will be combining the photographs and texts with experimental print methods to make unique pieces of work to open a dialog about body image for positive acceptance beyond that of traditional media."

Nudes from his series on body image

Nudes from his series on body image

Lastly, the things he's drawn to and the people that inspire him are:

"I am continuously drawn back to people and spaces in my work."

" Lately I have been inspired by: Richard Avedon, Igor Vasiliadis, Edward Weston, Carne Griffiths, Olga Noes, Elliott Erwitt, Steven Meisel, Stefano Brunesseli, Gregory Heisler, Sally Mann, Renee Jacobs, Imogen Cunningham, Rowan Newton, Arthur Dow, Jordan Matter, Helmut Newton, anything film noir based, Romeo Di Loreto, and my friends."

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Photo Student: Part One

Yesterday I highlighted students recently introduced to the world of photography. In a few years they might continue shooting as a hobby, begin an apprenticeship with a studio or further their education through college.

I had the chance to speak with two amazing photographers currently attending the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design. Nicholas Williams is the first. 

Nicholas' path to photography is an interesting one.

"I came to photography through skateboarding. I think this is a pretty common story, but there comes a point in a skater's career when they think, Yeah, I can't do half the shit my homies can do. What can I be good at? Then they pick up a camera and find a niche as the crew's filmer or photographer. I filled the void as photographer and began trying to emulate the stuff I saw in Transworld and Thrasher. But shooting skateboarding is hard for me, because I started not skating everyday and I eventually began shooting more portraits, and fashion stuff." 

   Ivan Afanasyev, Tail Slide, Dearborn MI

 

Ivan Afanasyev, Tail Slide, Dearborn MI

   Bloody Skateboarder at the Streets Skatepark

 

Bloody Skateboarder at the Streets Skatepark

I then asked him which is more important: subject, environment or action. His response didn't surprise me as his works often include the composition and story-telling seldom seen by those with less than decades of experience.

"I think you need all three, no? I almost always really want to incorporate two of those concepts into my composition." 

   Allana Baker

 

Allana Baker

Image capturing technology has changed a lot in the last ten years. So much so that today's DSLRs shoot video, making it easier for photographers to venture into motion. He explains this is the direction he's headed. 

"I still use a DSLR so it feels very similar to staging a photograph, but now I am directing scenes based in time instead of moments. So lately I have been getting a lot of enjoyment from trying to depict the subtly psychotic, the quietly deranged and people who are occupying a different reality, a place that never makes sense and is often condemned in our day to day culture."

His work and style already provide inspiration for peers of all ages, but who does he look up to? 

"I think I get the most out of artists who are not primarily photographers. When I idolize a photographer, it really shows in my work, like my style morphs to theirs. So I try to focus on artists who draw, paint, or make films so I don't have to worry about adopting a photographic style that is not my own. I really love Egon Schiele, Stanley Kubrick, Salvator Dali, Roman Polanski, Harmony Korine, and Wernor Herzog, all for their own reasons. Film directors that use subtle diversions from reality to create new worlds are my favorite meal. As I am still in school I am so thankful to have people like Ed West and Holly Hughes who are each both huge stores of information and offer great, honest opinions. Stamps is pretty stocked with solid professors, I like them all, even the ones I disagree with I really enjoy the challenge they provide."

(That last sentence is incredibly important!!!) 

Professor Ed West has not only helped Nicholas perfect studio lighting, but also pushes him to travel and explore photo stories as he did following drag performer Dulce De Leche with the Kelly McKinnell Memorial Award. 

Nola Smith

Nola Smith

Dulce De Leche in her home, San Franciso, CA

Dulce De Leche in her home, San Franciso, CA

So, what's next?

"After college... right... academia feels so safe and warm. I go back and forth about graduate school. If I could get into a fully funded program it would be cool to bop around for a bit longer and ride the wave of free studio space and time to create whatever I want. Although I feel like I should really get out into the real world, maybe live the grunge life and soak up some salt. All my favorite directors and artists seem to have come from underground sorts of places and I feel I have led a very privileged middle class existence. I might really need to just be in a place where I am the only  variable in whether or not I have food to eat and a place to sleep. Although the danger would never be real, someone is always around to save me. So yeah, obviously undecided, leaning towards academia, but only if I can make some work that is considered good enough to go for free."

As long as Nicholas is experiencing life and making new work, it doesn't matter what he decides. 

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