Tag Archives: Photographer

Alice Esposito reminds us it’s never too late to change your mark on the world

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Poster for Alice Esposito’s work with Vincenzo Castella

In today’s day in age, it is nearly impossible to envision a world without photography. Picture yourself walking down the street toward the supermarket, only imagine a lack of billboards, advertisements in store windows, and posters on the walls. What would magazines look like? Or film and CD covers? How would we capture perfect moments in time? Photography is a universal language, spoken and understood by people from all different walks of life. It speaks to our eyes, but more deeply, to our souls. It is an undying profession and as technology advances, we are increasingly able to see the world through millions of different lenses. It is an exciting time to be a photographer and for artists like Alice Esposito, it only heightens a passion that has been embedded within her from the time she was a child. For Esposito, photography is both a skill and a hobby, but above all else, it is a job that she has enjoyed building into a career.

“For the kind of photography that I do, it is essential for me to travel, to meet new people, and to learn new cultures. It is something that I truly love to do and the way photography connects me with people all over the world is something rare and beautiful. The potential to tell stories in countless different ways is magical,” tells Esposito.

Esposito has differentiated herself from her competition by more than just sheer talent. She has developed a way to combine her photography skillset with her interest in filmmaking in such a way that gives her a unique edge and understanding of her industry. Her filmmaking skills have earned her several prestigious jobs across the world. For instance, Esposito worked as a photographer and videographer from 2009 to 2011 in Italy and was tasked with filming for multiple different events, conferences and Exhibit Shows. Later on in 2011, she landed herself a job as Vincenzo Castella’s photographer and personal assistant, where she experimented with different cameras and set ups to bring Castella’s photography to a different level. Whenever she was tasked with one of his projects, Esposito would heavily research the concepts, study any and all appropriate mediums, and determine how best to showcase his visions. She is a trusted talent and has an unprecedented ability to capture the ideas of her clients or employers flawlessly.

In 2011, following a conversation with a colleague, Esposito was inspired to tell her own, original, compelling story to the world via stop motion animation. She was excited about the opportunity to explore stop motion animation, as it was the first time she had worked with it. The video short that she created, called Thend, tells the story of a man who occupies a city but consequently becomes occupied by it. The story presents the idea that human beings often forget that when they invade the earth like a virus, they eventually find that the earth, or in this case, the city, ends up infecting and assailing man. Essentially, the story is a reminder for people everywhere to be mindful of the consequences of destroying the earth out of personal interest. Esposito and her team aimed to remind people to think about the repercussions of their actions and to be careful where they step, what they do, and ultimately, of the legacy they will leave behind.

For Esposito, the joy of creating Thend, in collaboration with Carlotta Roda, was based on the ability to both explore her storytelling abilities, as well as to dive deeper into the art form that she lives and breathes for. She took a lead role on the production, leaving herself in charge of the visual style that was to be achieved, the choice of equipment, the set locations, and more. Her natural affinity for photography and videography allowed her to see the project from a unique angle and to bring it the level of quality that the premise and script demanded. In the end, Esposito could have never anticipated the wide-range success that the short would receive. Upon releasing Thend, it was selected for a special screening event called Cronachedi Fotogradia in Verona. It was subsequently screened on the show VideoSoup at Artist’s Television Access in San Francisco in 2011 and was later shown at SiFest 2014 Urban Space Garden.

“The success of the film came as a surprise at first. It started out as something that was supposed to be a fun way to collaborate with other colleagues. When it became a success, I was honored. I loved seeing the way it was received and knowing that I took a risk in showing something new and different but that it paid off big time. It made people think and I enjoyed answering questions about the process of creating it. It was humbling to hear their thoughts and interpretations as well,” says Esposito.

For Esposito, creating Thend presented a series of unforeseen challenges that she is fortunate to have encountered. Every set back and obstacle allowed her to build and refine her skill set and provided her with a series of opportunities to learn new things about her artistry. The reality of working with stop motion is that it is precise and any minor mistake can create a large impact on the final result. The project required a very diligent, detail oriented artist like Esposito and the final result of Thend was a reminder that all of the hard work, time, and dedication that she put into its final production was more than worth it.

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Alice Esposito and Stella Tinucci on set, photo by Nilangana Banerjee

Today, Esposito continues to use her exceptional skills to show the world how powerful photography and videography truly are. She is currently working on creating her own, independent production company and with that, she has some short films moving their way through the editing process. In addition, alongside Director and Producer, Stella Tinucci, Esposito is collaborating on a television pilot called Surreal Estates. The show has been successfully crowdfunded and Tinucci attributes a large part of this success to Esposito’s prowess as a filmmaker.

“Alice’s efficiency, combined with her warmth, add to her talents and knowledge of her craft. She has a very keen eye and she cares about details. This attention to detail, coupled with her professionalism, make her a pleasure to work with. She is also a strong communicator, which is key in this industry. She will do great things,” concludes Tinucci.

Watch Esposito’s astounding work in Thend here.

Top photo by Claudia Caldara

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Award-winning photographer Jennifer Roberts is one to watch

When Jennifer Roberts was just a child, she was always taking photos on her mother’s camera. She loved looking at them. Whenever she would go on a trip, she would take that camera and capture everything she saw. At the time, photography was just a hobby, but as years passed she realized she could turn what she loved into a career.

Roberts is now an internationally sought-after photographer, with an esteemed resume that has earned her the reputation as one of Canada’s best. She has shot for the world-renowned Wall Street Journal, and The Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s largest newspapers, as well as magazines like Canadian Business and Moneysense. She is an award-winning photographer, and her shots for Getty last year featuring Academy Award winning actress Michelle Williams received won a 2017 Applied Arts Annual for Best Portrait, and was nominated for a Communication Arts Award.

“I would say my style is very natural looking but also has a nice polished edge. I like using light in a natural looking way and always try to make sure any artificial light doesn’t look too source-y. Depending on who I’m photographing I’ll decide how much direction to give. I find that when shooting actors and actresses, they don’t need much direction. They’ll know their best angles and be able to provide a lot of interesting poses. If there is a specific angle for the story or tone then I’m happy to provide a little direction. If someone isn’t familiar with being in front of the camera then I’m happy to give some direction so they’ll feel more comfortable,” Roberts described.

Recently, Roberts has shot features for Canada’s largest and leading news magazine Maclean’s, founded in 1905. The magazine has published the work of Canada’s top photographers and photojournalists, including Roberts.

“It was a career goal of mine to be a contributor to the magazine. Working on Maclean’s stories are always really interesting. The topics are very timely and relevant. The art department leaves the photographer with lots of room to be creative and they like the photographer to provide lots of options. It’s also great to know that the end product will be seen around the country,” she said.

Shooting for Maclean’s, Roberts has done very high-profile projects, often being commissioned to shoot subjects with sensitive subject matter. One of these pieces was shooting a critical piece about Dr. Darryl Gebien, titled “How fentanyl turned an ER doctor into an addict.” Dr. Gebien was a former drug addict, also being charged with illegally prescribing fentanyl. Roberts did a portrait shoot with him in his home and she had to be extremely gentle with him as he was really worried about being photographed. In the end, Roberts had captured a beautiful series of photos of Dr. Gerbien that really spoke to his personal struggles.

She also photographed internationally renowned artist Ed Burtynsky, for a profile on his career as an artist. When shooting the Ed Burtynsky, she was on a super tight timeline and small window of opportunity with Burtynsky, but she was able to photograph beautiful studio portraits that really captured the mood and tone of the story.

Another feature included shooting Kristine Johnston and her husband Jimmie Johnston for a piece on Alzheimer’s and Assisted Suicide in Canada. Roberts says she had to be very delicate and gentle in such a sensitive situation. Jimmie Johnston was suffering from Alzheimer’s and was seeking the right for assisted suicide.

Later, she a story following NDP Leadership Candidate, MPP Jagmeet Singh. This was no easy documentary piece, as she had to photograph him while he went about his day in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. She also shot a portrait of Giller Prize and Governor General Literacy Award Nominee Gary Barwin, and worked as a freelance photo editor at Maclean’s Magazine 4.

“As a photo editor and producer, I’ve hired Jennifer countless times over the past five years for photography assignments in Maclean’s, Canadian Business, MoneySense and Tourism Toronto. She continually delivers the best quality of work and exceeds my expectations with every assignment, whether shooting portraits, food or reportage. I have found her to be versatile in her photographic ability, resourceful in difficult situations that may present itself on a shoot, highly creative in her approach, and always reliable. I can say with confidence that she is a well-respected and established photographer in the industry and among her peers,” said Kayla Chobotuik, a Canadian Business Editor.

What was, however, the most influential of Robert’s work for Maclean’s was her feature for the social movement Black Lives Matter. The shoot from demonstration won international Applied Arts Award for Best Documentary photo and was a nominee for an international Communication Arts Award. It demonstrates great documentary ability as Roberts was originally commissioned to shoot a Pride Parade, but when the protest broke out, she was able to capture award winning photos of the event.

“When I won the Applied Arts Award for the Black Lives Matter photo I was really excited that more attention would be given to the issue. By winning that award and being nominated for a Communication Arts award I knew even more people would have the opportunity to see an image from their demonstration. I was also really proud that the photo was being recognized as award worthy,” said Roberts.

With such innate talent, there is little doubt as to why Roberts receives the accolades she does. She is definitely one to watch for.

Artist HuiMeng Wang shares vulnerability and understanding of the world with worldwide audiences

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Visual artist HuiMeng Wang

Born and raised in Inner Mongolia of China, HuiMeng Wang always had a passion for art. Her mother always had a deep appreciation in literature and the Chinese Opera. Growing up, she read nothing but fictions, and would always fantasize about bringing the narratives to reality, in one way or another. Despite this passion from an early age, Wang did not initially feel she was ready to explore being an artist. That patience is what sets her apart from so many. She studied science and engineering, travelled the world, experienced other cultures and immersed herself in life. It was during her travels that she realized she was ready to be an artist.

“I felt I had enough things to talk about and I felt this strong desire to talk about them. A diverse educational and cultural background has made me immensely conscious about the changes and formation of personal identities, during a socio- geographical, professional and/or cultural transition,” said Wang.

During her travels, Wang conducted a 4000-mile road trip in Tibet, photographing its landscape. She created a collection of the photographs, titled The Isolation Book, and it is one of her most remarkable pieces. On a plateau in the northeastern Himalaya, at an average elevation of 16,000 feet, Tibet enjoys great natural remoteness. Its extraordinary physical isolation is also reinforced by political complexity, Wang says. She drove through out the vastness of Tibet week after week, as an observer, as well as a bearer of the great isolation and loneliness.

“People’s state of mind can heavily change the visual perception of a landscape or cityscape. And in that sense, The Isolation Book is a metaphor of my personal struggles through isolation. When one is in isolation, or sometimes self-seclusion, the eagerness of engaging with the outside world always comes hand in hand with the resistance. Such conflict creates great intangible tension, which overrides the reality sometimes, and urgently needs to be described in a form of emotional resonance,” Wang described.

Wang’s initial interest in the project was to truly understand isolation. From the time she was a child, she always has felt more comfortable by herself than when surrounded by others, so she wanted to understand what it was to be truly alone.

“I wished I could understand the nature of isolation better, how it exerts influence and disguises itself. And that is why I picked up a camera initially,” said Wang.

Wang’s photography is extremely impactful for all those who see it. It is perfectly framed, shot, and edited, and with The Isolation Book, each picture is its own essay, worth far more than the usual “1000 words” mantra.

“HuiMeng is a natural photographer capable of composing visual poetry from any scene. Her intellect is stunning. her insight is incisive and her sensitivity is sublime. she is complex and profoundly complex. She is a dream to work with,” said Lonnie Graham, who has worked alongside Wang on various photography projects. “Her uncanny ability to understand a situation and interpret it makes her outstanding. This is what she does with her image making, so that as an installation artist her concepts become dimensional.”

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HuiMeng Wang in Fire Green as Grass

Many around the world know Wang for her outstanding artistic abilities. They know her celebrated work, and the exceptional understanding she possesses of her craft. She is more than just an artist, she is a creator and a storyteller. Just last year, she dined by herself on a suspended table for one hour. While trying to cut and eat a 16oz steak, she had to carefully maintain the balance of the table, and put out the fire which the flowers constantly caught from the candles. Titled Fire Green as Grass, the piece interprets the mental state of an immigrant, displaced and isolated often, for whom conducting daily activities becomes a struggle in itself.

“The title came from Dylan Thomas’s poem Fern Hill. I lived in a place that’s also called Fern Hill in New Zealand for a while. It was the most surreal and beautiful place, but I was also incredibly alone,” said Wang.

Wang normally acts more as a director in her pieces than performer. However she felt the need to perform herself for this piece to truly convey the message.

“I thought I’d be embarrassed to perform in front of the audience. But when I did, even though there were a lot of people watching and the flowers were constantly on fire, I felt peaceful. I also felt like I was saying the things I wanted to say,” Wang described.

Wang’s vulnerability in Fire Green as Grass captivated audiences and critics alike. A fellow artist and friend, Jeremy Morgan, says that Wang has an ability to do this with every project she takes on, whether it be a video, photograph, or exhibition.

“Our conversations have always been a meaningful, creative journey, metaphysically moving from one space to another. HuiMeng has a luminous mind, and is self- possessed but without arrogance. Her generosity and original spirit permeate all of her interactions with people around her. In her performance and filmic work, she displays a poetic, philosophic and socio-political sensibility that is noteworthy wherein beauty, elegance and poignancy are perfectly balanced with precision, focused with intelligence and humanity. She is in every sense a creative being, an artist who is both unique and a powerful presence,” said Morgan.

With such a commitment to her craft and respect around the world for what she does, it is obvious to all that sees her work as to why Wang is considered one of China’s best recent visual artists. Not many can achieve what she has, and she still has so much left still to show the world. However, she does have advice for those looking to follow in her footsteps.

“It sounds silly, but my advice is make absolutely sure that you really want to be an artist before you commit. You don’t want to be an artist because of flexible schedules or some certain lifestyle or things like that. You want to be an artist because you cannot imagine yourself doing anything else. You want art to be the center of your life,” she said. “Also, some wise man said: make work, faster. That is my second piece of advice. Always make work, don’t pause for too long.”