I've been sharing my new projects on social media, especially Instagram and Facebook, but I noticed the last time I updated my blog was about a year ago, and I thought it would be good to resume my writings here. 2017 and 2018 were years of many changes in the way I approach my creative endeavours, and I felt the urge to share the story: the good, the bad, the funny.
Let's begin with a turning point. Both photos above were taken within 5 hours of each other during my last visit to Cyprus. The first one was taken at 2am, after I've been photographing a bellydance festival for 6 hours straight. I remember this moment vividly because it was a marathon, where I tried to capture the best moments of dancers performances (in bad light and strange working conditions - i.e. standing on a table). I've travelled to many countries getting hired to photograph these kinds of events, which allowed me to finance not only some cool trips to interesting locations but also to work on personal projects such as my fine art series The Orientalist.
I am very grateful for that, not all photographers are that lucky. But the thing is that I didn't really enjoy doing it anymore. I like photographing dancers, but I prefer to create scenes, not capture performances. I was tired, hungry, and yet fully concentrated on a task I didn't enjoy. I remember thinking "I don't want to be doing this anymore". It reminded me of my years as a public officer for the Brazilian Government, on a secure, well-paid but mind-numbing job. It was something I had escaped to become a photographer. Back in my hotel room after the event was done, I was backing up images, doing edits and getting ready for the next day, which included a creative shoot that I was very excited about when a friend then sent me this photo. She said she was impressed about how hard and focused I was working and she thought it was cool to send me the moment she captured. I thought it was funny that this first turning point got captured on screen.
The second photo was taken by my wife, Iana Komarnytska, during our creative shoot the following morning. We were having a break for her costume change I think, and I was standing at the beautiful Kourion Amphitheatre thinking "this is what I want to be doing", photographing interesting concepts in ancient, beautiful locations. Why wouldn't I work as hard and focused on my own projects? Iana broke my thoughts saying she was ready, but that it would be cool to take my photo standing there. Me, there, as I was, a reminder, as I considered what I wanted to become.
I don't know what it was about these two images. Maybe seeing oneself from outside, a third-person view in contrasting moments clicked something in my head. Back in Canada, I felt a surge of energy and brainstormed a number of different projects I wanted to try. It's easier said than done, and we always feel we are not doing enough, but as I look back on the last 8 months, I'm glad to say I was able to start and sustain a bunch of different projects, which I hope you will find interesting. Bellow is a brief description of each of them, my reasons behind them, and links to the actual projects.
I am an avid listener of podcasts and audiobooks. Whenever I'm running errands or editing on Photoshop, I'm listening to something. I had the idea back in 2016 of doing a podcast, but didn't know what I wanted it to be about. I've always had too many interests and have always taken inspiration from all sorts of places. It has been a blessing and a curse, but after listening to Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogan podcasts, where they interview a range of different people, I got the answer I was looking for. I would create a podcast around subjects I was interested in, talking to people I admire and have influenced my work.
Three weeks ago I launched the "The Wanderings Podcast: a photographer's exploration of art, science and world culture", featuring interviews with artists, designers, scientists, filmmakers, authors and entrepreneurs who are creating inspiring work in a variety of fields. My goal is to explore topics that influence my personal photography work, including history, mythology, science, music, fashion and world cultures. The first episode features Dr. George Sawa, a musician and historian specializing in Medieval Arabic Music. On the second episode I chat with Alex Kenton, a style and travel blogger, and entrepreneur, and one of the top style influencers in Canada. I've done a few more interviews so far with one coming out every week. You can find links and information about the podcast here.
Earlier last year I was invited to showcase some of my photography work at a gallery in Hamilton, Canada. I've been working mainly with commercial and portrait clients, but I have been developing a few personal projects I wanted to turn into exhibits. I've been thinking about a fine art photography career for a while, and after my moment in Cyprus I thought I should give it a try. I have always been inspired by the work of Brooke Shaden and Alexia Sinclair, and how they make a living selling fine art limited edition prints of their beautiful photographs. I then selected some images from 3 series from my personal work to make available for purchase as limited edition prints. It was fun experimenting with different printers and arquival quality papers to see what would work for my images. I then put my selection online on my Fine Art Print Store and Saatchi, one of the world's largest online galleries. I also decided that part of the profits from sales would go to the models, dancers and musicians featured in the photographs.
I have been playing Middle Eastern percussion for many years, having performed with some cool world music groups in Toronto, including Ventanas, Troupe Obskurah and the Arabesque Orchestra. I love exploring music and cultures from around the world, and together with my wife, who is a world-class dancer, decided to create our own music and dance group.
Since I read Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot, his image of the whole Earth seen from far away in space, as a small blue dot in the vastness of the universe, where borders and conflict were not evident, has always been on my mind. I had this idea of creating a group that would explore music and dance from around the world, and The Blue Dot Ensemble was created. We started our explorations with a focus on cultures from the Middle East, Mediterranean and Central Asia, but we are expanding to the Balkans, Brazil, Greece, and soon we'll research other places. The goal is to fuse elements of different traditions bringing a unique blend of multi-cultural influences, celebrating the interconnected nature of our world through art. You can learn more about this project here.
I want to also mention my ongoing collaboration with my wife, dancer Iana Komarnytska, for her Instagram and social media influencer business. We've been creating images together for 4 years now, and she is always one of my main sources for inspiration. From both a creative a practical point of view, our collaboration serves as a laboratory for experiments in creative videos, photos, music and even product design.
Finally, the main project I am working on right now is developing an entirely new advertising portfolio. A couple of weeks ago I did an intense exercise created by the amazing photographer Erik Almas, on finding and developing your style as a photographer. From that, I discovered a lot about what I like to photograph, and started creating photos exactly around the themes I am most passionate about. During the exercise, a few themes and subjects emerged again and again that I was consciously unaware of: the presence of water, ancient places, elaborate locations and jewellery, ethnic dresses, beautiful female movement, back light and a palette of golden and blue tones.
My new portfolio will focus on fashion, beauty, jewellery and travel, inspired by cultures from around the world. I will create this first collection of photographs over the next four months.
The challenge these days has been balancing tasks from these different projects so that they move forward and nothing falls too much through the cracks. It's very hard for me to switch from one activity like arranging music to editing a photograph for a client, interviewing a guest, preparing for a shoot, or working on marketing for my business. The solution I came up with was to devote one day a week for each, focusing on finishing important weekly deliverables. Of course, as a freelancer you can't really have a set schedule, but I've been trying this approach for a few weeks and it seems to be working.
The project I'm most struggling with how to combine a career in both advertising and fine art photography. I am very interested in crowd funding platforms, especially Patreon, with the goal of funding creative shoots and offering patrons exclusive content.
So, that's what I've been up to. I will write about all these projects in more detail in future posts, but if you are curious about any of them feel free to contact me and send your questions. I hope you found this post useful. If you are struggling doing things you don't like and have an idea, even if a foggy one, of what you want to try, I can only finish with this quote: