Didn't think I'd be gone this long.. better roll with it!

Logging back online: here I am, stationed at my new desk in Manhattan, where I'll be calling home for at least the next year. I came here with a bag of clothes and books on my back, and now I'm working at the photography book Mecca known as Aperture

Not bad, eh?

With creaky floorboards and photography books falling off the towering shelves surrounding me, I think I'll get along here just fine. It definitely didn't hit me how incredible it would be to work here until a few days ago... things had been moving so fast that I didn't have time to digest. The next few months are already scheduled to work with photographers I've been looking up to for years, names soon to come! This will be the kick in the pants I needed to get back into my own work as well, which has even reenergized to be the earliest morning riser in Brooklyn.  

One thing to expect to hear about the next time we speak: books, books, poor artist jokes, and more books.

Working as a Global Citizen

The more assignments I take on the East Coast, the more I’ve been thinking, “Why not just live here year round?”

On yet another escapade to the East Coast for a few freelance photo jobs, I’ve started to scope out the real estate scene in NYC from Astoria (Queens) to Brooklyn to the unobtainable Manhattan rent prices. What I’ve come to learn is that finding an apartment does not happen over night…

While I flip-flop in search of a place to call home, I was lucky enough to partner with citizenM hotels and take refuge in their Manhattan location for a few days while I gained my bearings and endured a very unexpected blizzard as well! citizenM & I exchanged tales of my experiences in Manhattan and discovered how their location is prime for visiting artists and art enthusiasts like me.

You might think Midtown is too bustling and central of a location for you to rest, but after working with citizenM, I can say I was lifted out and above the spectacle of Manhattan and had my own apartment to breathe. 

 

Waking up in Midtown already put me at the center of every direction I would need to go. Whether I was visiting friends in Brooklyn, photographing in the East Village, or exploring Central Park, nothing was out of reach for me. I was at a spot where almost any major train is within a few blocks, which made cutting through Manhattan a breeze. An added bonus was having MoMA down the street filled with one of the world's greatest collection of artist books, which I visited twice because I had so much to see.

And then the blizzard loomed... Not so surprisingly, the city refused to come to a complete pause, despite the rising snow. Though driving was discouraged, no one could stop the other 'citizens' and I as we ventured in and out of our Midtown fortress to take a quick dive in the snow mounds, before retreating back inside. Nothing quite like coming in from the snow and watching it fall with a cup of coffee. 

Thankfully, this blizzard gave me an excuse to have a bit of time for myself and kickback while working from the perches all over the hotel, high and low. It reminded me I should kick-back and relax more often! 

citizenM is originally a Dutch company and they have locations all over the world... I hope to work with them again when I'm on my next project abroad!  

Where will I wake up tomorrow?

Where will I wake up tomorrow?

Freitag x Vasilko Feature

Very excited to see my feature on Freitag's website this week! When Freitag originally heard word that I would be traveling to Norway to research and document the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, they jumped at the chance to help me make the trip possible. Their gear carried me through some rough terrains and I'm thrilled I could take their products to places it has never been before. Check out the feature here: https://www.freitag.ch/en/svalbard

Side note: Something that didn't receive as much attention was my short residency at Zoku Amsterdam, a new hotel aimed towards global entrepreneurs. I alongside the Zoku marketing team flagshipped a Zoku Artist in Residence program. Starting from my long-shot of a proposal in which I suggested free living in exchange for bringing photo & design skill into the Zoku branding, we created a program that will continue to host artists from around the world. In return for using their talent to beautify Zoku and spread the Zoku idea of gathering and exchanging ideas between global guests, artists will be given the space to pursue their own creative endeavors in Amsterdam. 

You never know where you'll end up in a week's time.

  • 9AM: Phone of a sleepy freelance photographer rings 
  • Freelance photographer shuts phone off; 9AM is too early for him
  • 9:30AM: Phone rings again
  • With a few grunts, freelance photographer aggressively silences his phone again.
  • 10AM: Phone rings once more
  • Finally, freelance photographer answers:
    •  "HELLO, WHAT?"
  • Startled by the aggression, caller explains the urgency.
    • "What would you say if you & I went to Paris next week, Lucas..."  

And so, little did I expect at 10 in the morning one a week ago from today, I found out I would be traveling to Paris, all expenses paid. *cue falling to the ground* 

My friend Nik, pictured ominously above, runs a small design studio, Nikolas Bentel Studio. What he had just been informed before making that surprising call to me was that one of his former projects had been selected to feature in a collective designer show at Paris Fashion Week 2017... and the show was happening in 5 days! 

Before I knew it, my e-ticket was in my inbox and we were en route.  

The group show, Prototype, culminated the works of 6 speculative designers who each conceived clothing designs thinking towards a drastically different, yet not so implausible, future. The show was co-sponsored by the upcoming movie Ghost in the Shell, which depicts a future of computer robotic advances and cyber threats, starring Scarlett Johansson.

All 6 featured designers' works.

Nik's project revolves around the idea of an increasing presence of pollution in our atmosphere and developing a line of clothing that can react and alert you to the level of pollutants in the air. Though his project still rests in the conceptual phase, he created prototype designs and a video demonstrating how the clothing reacts visually to various airborne pollutants.

Though our trip was quick.. like 3 days quick.. we squeezed in more than our fair share of excursions, including le Musée Rodin, la Sainte Chapelle, and le Palais de Tokyo. It was hilarious and humbling to see Nik outside of the typical setting that we have always known each other in; showing him around a city that, though I cannot call it a second home, exudes all the reasons I'm proud to be French. 

Congrats, ol' chap! 

Lost & Found Pieces Coming Together

I often allow images and other content to stew & sit out-of-mind for a while, offering some time for reflection before drawing final conclusions about what the content conveys. I recently came across a short 9 second video on my phone that captured the accumulation of rain & melting ice waters at a time when Svalbard should have been well into its winter weather patterns. But as a changing climate looms, areas like Svalbard are some of the most drastically impacted. For me, this clip is a powerful memory from my time in Svalbard. 

I'm thinking of how stills or textures from this video could serve as a possible design element moving forward. At the time, I didn't think anything of this video, but now it may end up playing a role after all. It goes to show you never know what you will and will not use when out in the field gathering content & material.  

If I ever am fortunate enough to return to Svalbard for a longer period of time, I'm thinking a series of smaller videos of that paths from running waters could make a powerful blend if they were displayed in sequence or several videos displayed at once.  

Going into Svalbard, I was so focused on the one entity of the Vault that I didn't foresee how many other moving parts to the region were all in sync with each other; if one part fails, then so does the Vault. Rising temperatures and increases in rain pose a threat to the Vault and the ecosystem of the island. I'm excited to tell the story of the island and arriving at the doors of the Vault amidst an unknown and unsure landscape. 

 

 

I'm also starting to think about possible type faces that I can use to write the introductory text and explanation of how I came to find myself in Svalbard in the first place. I sorted out images from the Island that had peculiar and striking text examples, but also text that derives from places integral to the history of Svalbard's. The following four images are from the coal mines of Svalbard, which were the main reason people came to settle there. 

Here's a peak into part of the layout map that I think only I can read.. might look like a chopped up mess, but this thing is a very useful sequencing cheat-sheet for me as I connect image to image. 

As a side note, my good friend Philipp from Svalbard has been bringing his Svalbard guiding business to fruition, and I'd love to help him get the word out farther. If you're looking not only for a one of a kind adventure of intense hikes or husky sledding expeditions, I would tell you that you have to go to Svalbard and my man Philipp is the guy to give you a personal and extraordinary guided adventure. Check him out & get to planning a trip you won't regret. So lucky to have met him, and I can't wait until I get to go back! Here is his site:   

https://polardogssvalbard.com/about/

Pocket Sized

As a preliminary experiment with my images from Svalbard & the Global Seed Vault, I fastened miniature booklets conveying an eleven image sequence of the Vault and its presence within the larger landscape. I'm thinking about which influences which, the Vault vs. everything that surrounds it. Though it may be just a small gash in the mountain side, everything that lies within the Vault has the power to influence a global landscape. In the overall scheme, it feels like the Vault and it's landscape are in a constant flux of protection and power. 

Where have you been, Mister??

I bet you thought you were done with me, huh? Well, think again!!  I'm back, out of hiding, and here to cook up all sorts of treats from my trip to Svalbard & the Global Seed Vault. I may have made a pit stop or two.. or three.. before returning home, but now it's time to start of the fire and head to the studio! 

My head is pulsing with memories not only from the Seed Vault and everyone I met in Svalbard, but from the exhibits, artists, bookstores, and sights throughout Scandinavia that have inevitably affected how I want to approach not just my Svalbard book, but future projects as well. As you see below, my studio tables, floors, and just about any vacant flat surface are covered in small test prints to help me see connections between images that I might not realize from simply looking at them on a computer screen. Move an image here, swap some from left to far right, overlay a few and then realize it looks ridiculous and put them all back, and then try again... that's how it goes and what the next few days will consist of. Before I think about structure, I've got to think about story & sequence; my three "S" policy, if you will.  

Though I'm still coping through the mental headache of sequencing and establishing a book of the Seed Vault and its relation to the landscape, I've begun to give myself exercises in experimenting how the images can possibly coexist with each other. The first experiment is taking form in a 12 image accordion narrative that navigates in and out from the front doors of the Vault to the greater region of Svalbard; where the images take place in proximity to each other isn't so much the focus, more so its the rich array of color, texture, and echo of the region where the Vault resides.

Through the chaos of unpredicted warming temperatures at the time of my visit to Svalbard and how future occurrences of this warming climate might affect Svalbard, I'm definitely going to heighten the theme of a landscape in distress and confusion in the final product. Navigating through Svalbard, taking you on a blind pursuit..

If you're viewing this on a mobile device, rotate horizontally to get the full width & effect of the images:

Behold the template image that I'll carve my first set of experiments out of...