I’ve taken the last days to reflect on 2017 and what happened during that year with photography. Usually people do a “Top 10” with albums or movies, I want to show you my “Top Moments” of photography. Not really showing you my favorite or best photos, but more sharing memories that involve photography and that I felt that pushed me forward into the craft, art, and photography world.
I felt that my "photography year" started in April as I returned to Germany from visiting the States for two months in Feb and March. Upon my return, I visited Julian Sander Gallery in Cologne. Julian and I met at Paris Photo 2016 and there he asked for me to show him my work at some point in 2017. We planned a date for me to drive up to Cologne in April during his new Gallery opening along with the exhibition #FACTS. The exhibition was fantastic, some work there was shown by an amazing photographer Sean Hemmerle which his series "THEM" has really inspired me (holding a digital print of one image from the series). The next day Julian took a look at my work. It was insanely scary yet I was ready for whatever he wanted to say. In the end it was great to start a solid connection with Julian. This gave me the push and lift off for 2017 in photography; that a Gallery and someone like Julian wanted to see my work. What an honor!
In May I released my first ever photography publication; my "Morris" photography zine. Starting something brand new like this is always such a challenge and it takes time to do something new. I had this idea in 2016 but pushed it aside from hearing critique and criticism. When I was in the States in Feb 2017 I realized how dumb of me to allow that to happen, and I found the drive again to pursue it.
Therefore, I came out with my first 25 page publication! I honestly do love it. I learned a lot and realized actually how doable it is to make one of these.
I started the idea of Zines for myself because I saw that people weren't ready to commit to buying a darkroom print for 50-100 Euros, although they really liked my work. As well, I was getting so bored with Instagram and just receiving "likes". That's not what photography is about. I wanted to get something out of the internet on into my hands. Produce something that people can commit to buying and that I can hear peoples critique and appreciation rather than receiving a "like".
In May I as well had a go at doing lith printing for the first time. I'm so thankful for the people at K4 Darkroom lab in Nuremberg. The community there is incredible and full of hard working photography lovers. Every Friday is "lith Friday" in the darkroom and I decided to give it a try because I love the work that Oli produces. I have so many landscape photos I don't really know what to do with and I felt that lith was a good alternative process to use. Turns out that my first lith print was magical, it got me hooked. I am such a beginner at lith, but I'm proud to say I tried something new technically this year in photography. From this point I did a few more lith prints, which you can see in my online shop. Maybe there'll be a zine in the future dedicated to just lith?!
The summer consisted of constantly printing in the darkroom and trying to get as many prints done as possible. Ever since visiting Julian Sander I knew I needed to create more prints, therefore, I did! You can take a look at the homepage to see how many prints in total I did to see. I'm glad I have a mix of portraits and landscapes, lith and classic.
In August I met Ayham. Lovely guy who walked into our Studio/Cafe one day asking if there's a photographer that he can meet with to learn more about photography. Had a coffee with him to get to know him and see if there's anyway I could help or assist. Weeks later we are meeting up regularly for him to show me his "assignments" that we both have planned for him to do. I'd like to say this definitely was a highlight for me to feel that I had my first "photography trainee" this year. I did not teach him everything, but I helped find his way and his voice in photography. Check out his Instagram to see his beautiful poetic work! This photo shows him exhibiting some of his photos from the assignments on "concept photography" that we did for many weeks. It was definitely a proud moment for both of us to see how in 4 months shot, printed, and exhibited his work! Good job Ayham!
Knowing I published my first Zine in May, I already had content ready from 2016 that I was waiting to use for another Zine in 2017. In October I came out with my second and final zine of 2017. This one was a bigger project as it was 52 pages and is more of a story rather than a documentation like the first one.
This zine was also a personal and emotional journey for me. I felt as it was like a songwriter writing for their next album. Something I needed to get out and do to move on. I also chose to print 50 copies, unlike my first one I did 30. I think I surprised some people with the content in this one, because it's not my classic street portraiture work. This is what I love about the idea of zines, there's really no rules. One zine can be portraiture, the other can be landscape, etc etc. I choose what I want it to be, and that's what I love. October kicked off the path of promoting my new zine and printing in the darkroom works from in.
As well in October I had my very first zine release party. Zines, prints, and a little discussion time. I was so nervous! I knew it wasn't going to be a huge event with 100s of people, but thankfully I had about 40 people in total show up and chat about the concept of SURVIVAL. Again, this was my attempt to do something different than releasing something strictly online and just getting "likes". I wanted to see peoples faces and reactions, talk to them directly, and hear their opinions rather than receive comments and shares online. I'd suggest that in 2018, if you're a photography, try doing something like this to get a personal human interaction towards your photography than just Facebook or Instagram. You learn so much from it!
TWO DAYS directly following my zine release party I flew to ISTANBUL, TURKEY for my first photography trip of the year!!! I was so excited and nervous for this trip. The idea was to have one week set aside strictly for photography and to work on new concepts. I offered the trip to a few colleagues and friends to see if anyone wanted to come, knowing I'd be there to assist or help start their concept as a coach. It was such a productive time! Seeing one photographer develop their concept from nothing into going out every night, taking tons of portraits, gathering answers to questions, and in the end having 100s of photos to choose from. That gave me so much joy to be able to experience that and in some ways coach this photographer. For me I took 15 rolls of film during this trip and kept to my normal "street documentary portraits" style. Istanbul came alive to me when I was at the seafront where all the 100s fishermen were. That's where the spark and flare was for me! This is a darkroom scanned print of one of my photographs. This year in 2018 I will release my 3rd publication, zine or book, about my trip to Istanbul. Excited to show you guys as I feel that from Istanbul, my best work came from 2017!
Arriving back from Istanbul I had already prepared and made darkroom prints to be a part of the ArtMarkt in Wonderland Creative Studios in Nuremberg, Germany. I chose to share my new concept and zine SURVIVAL. Displaying 6 24x30cm framed darkroom prints. In 2017 I was able to exhibit twice in a gallery with darkroom prints. It's an entirely new feeling when you work is framed and hung on a wall rather than on a screen. Try it sometime!
In September I was in Budapest for a week doing an "off site work week". It was refreshing and amazing to be there and to work at my friends office space for the time. As well, I took the opportunity to visit some galleries and bookshops. I went to Mai Mano Gallery and Bookshop / The House of Photography Budapest. They were currently showing an Elliott Erwitt Exhibition which was wonderful. I had a gander in their bookshop and a chat with the employee there. At the end of the visit they said "If you send us your zine we will absolutely sell it in our shop." That was.... surprising! Therefore in November of 2017 I sent them two zines to just give it a shot, see what happens. Turns out, the VERY. NEXT. DAY. one of my zines sold!!! I freaked out! I'm unsure of what this proves, but it meant something big to me, and I count it as a highlight of my 2017 year!
To end the year I was so excited that Craig Semetko was exhibiting at the Leica Gallery in Nuremberg. I met him in 2014 at the Leica Gallery in Frankfurt and had quite a special time. He gave us a personal tour of his exhibition in Frankfurt during an "off hour" at the gallery. I took his portrait then with my Rolleiflex to seal the memory. So to find out he'll be in town in December was exciting! His exhibition was grand and I was able to buy his first book "Unposed". We then found out that Craigs hotel was next door to our Cafe and Gallery and two days later had coffee and lunch with him. He became more than just a photographer at that point. We are excited to see him again in the future and are so thankful that he took the time to sit, chat, and eat with us. I find that meeting photographers like him are always a source of inspiration and opens your mind up to the world of photography and what's happening in the here and now.
Last year was a crazy year. Meeting a gallery and showing my work, starting two new zines, going to Turkey, exhibiting my work. All having the fear of "What if..." What if the gallery says my work is crap, what if people think my zines are stupid, what if this Turkey trip suck and the purpose of it isn't needed. All these What Ifs going through my head, but still choosing to push forward. I'm glad I did so I can live to share the experience and know I have something new in my toolkit now to use and to share. Actually none of these things didn't "fail". I think my expectations vs reality was definitely tested, but I guess I can say, these things and plans did actually work, and there's so much to learn and grow from it.