Archive for the “Artist Profiles” Category

An interview with Ken Kaminesky – 103,000 followers on Twitter and counting

By Cindy A Stephens

I hadn’t expected commercial travel photographer Ken Kaminesky to tell me that he spends too much time on Twitter. Ken has 103,000 followers on Twitter, which is impressive by most standards (certainly by mine). Ken shared with me that his Twitter stream is slowing down significantly because he is on the road so much for business and also for his new photography tour business with upcoming tours in Italy, Iceland, and Jordan.



“I wish I could delegate it but that isn’t the point of social media,” he says. “The point on Twitter is to be a resource and to get to know a person,” adds Ken. In fact, answering, engaging and proactively reaching out to people on Twitter is what Ken attributes his Twitter success to. It is rare, he says, when he doesn’t reply when someone tweets something relevant to him. (Case in point: Ken generously gave me an hour of his time to interview him, despite his extremely busy schedule).

Despite the rather large amount of time that Ken spends tweeting, he is confident that it has helped his career and has propelled him to achieve better strategies for marketing. “My Twitter following gives me credibility.” Ken says that his success on Twitter allows him to reach out to send a media kit to a tourism company, for example. “They see my numbers and say this guy is for real.” This means that what once might have taken months or weeks to make meaningful business contacts now takes days or hours.

How to use Twitter for business

Jack Hollingsworth recently told me “Sadly, photographers spend too much time in the social environment without monetizing their interests. It’s a big problem.” Ken says that he is still learning to be more strategic on Twitter adding “Twitter is the crack of social media – it’s addictive.”

There are many ways to use Twitter strategically to promote a business. Ken shared three of his tips with me.

  • Marketing is a small part of Twitter. Ken advocates a 10 to 1 ratio: Tweet 10 things that are of interest to you for every 1 that is about you. People he says, don’t want to know about your business too much. He sees that people who have good followings are those who talk about the industry and what they are passionate about. “For me those things are curating, architecture, science, travel, and art.”
  • Be personable. Seeing the person behind the photographer is something that Ken is passionate about. He wants to really talk with people, as people not businesses. This echoes Ken’s earlier comment about delegating – people can’t get to really know the person behind the tweets if those tweets are being done by someone else. “Talk to people,” Ken advocates.
  • Network and socialize with key brands. Talking to people extends to magazines, writers, companies that are prospects for your commercial work, and others. “Show interest in what others are talking about and if you find them interesting use that as a strategy to be able to talk to them in their language. Tweet at them. Send a direct message.” Ken advises that if you are researching someone for business perhaps reach them on Twitter first. “It’s a more social thing. Read their Twitter feed. Engage them afterwards. Be a social person and use social media to its full extent,” he adds.

Some of you may remember a marketing conversation I had with fine art photographer Annu Palakunnathu Matthew about building relationships with galleries. Using Ken’s approach , consider reaching out to a gallery owner on Twitter before mailing an unsolicited portfolio. The point would be to develop a relationship first and connect on some shared interest.

See also how to find and work with a gallery

Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+

Facebook is also important, Ken says, for social engagement with people. You can be more personal on Facebook but you can’t reach out to potential corporate clients. “Facebook isn’t about that,” Ken says.

One social media network that Ken would like more time for is LinkedIn. “Networking and marketing, that’s the beauty of LinkedIn”, he says. For Ken, LinkedIn allows him to connect with peers and collaborate on projects together, perhaps globally.

Google+ is also important to Ken in terms of photography these days. He says “the Google+ team is doing a great job and makes it a great social sharing channel. It will be a very important social media platform for years to come.”

Unlike these other social media networks Ken says “the beauty of Twitter and its 140 characters is that it respects your time.” “It is really tough,” says Ken. “Social media has added to the workload for those who already have a full plate to begin with. It’s also opened a lot of doors. It is a double-edged sword.”

Mostly Ken tells me that social media has been fantastic to him although he still wishes it didn’t take us so much of his time. He’d prefer to be doing something creative, which isn’t happening enough these days.

Do you really want tens of thousands of followers on Twitter? Do you have the time that it is going to take to build your following and then engage with them every day? Go into it with your eyes wide open, set clear priorities and monetize your interests to create your artistic presence.

See also 5 tools Ken Kaminesky uses for managing his photography businesses from the road

Trademarks or registered trademarks mentioned in this post are the property of their respective owners.

Ken Kaminesky is a commercial travel photographer and visual storyteller. His work has been featured in numerous commercial publications, including the New York Times and on the cover of National Geographic. He communicates his passion for travel, and for the landscapes & people he meets along the way, through his popular blog, and through yearly workshops in places as far-flung as Jordan, Italy and Iceland. His favourite place in the world is always his next destination. He believes that everywhere has a story that will inspire people, and he’d love to capture it in an image. He doesn’t usually talk about himself in the third-person.

Cindy A Stephens is a marketing professional and fine art photographer. She has more than 20 years of hands-on experience as a marketer and image maker during the digital technology revolution, and now teaches creative professionals how to create artistic presence in a changing art world. Her series on Boston Photography Focus, Marketing Conversations for Photographers, presents constructive concepts and tips on how to improve success and visibility as a photographer working in the world of art, commerce, or both. Regular guest contributions for Mosaic offer suggestions on building influence using mobile photography.

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By Phillip Jones

It’s impossible to live in a large city and not, at least to some degree, fall under its spell.  For some of us this fascination goes further and we find ourselves tramping down uncharted avenues searching for the city’s hidden secrets. Photographers, in particular, feel this tug.  Urban landscapes become the prime subject of their visual explorations.  In fact, the way we’ve come to perceive certain cities has been shaped by the artistic vision of the photographers that document them.  Paris has its Atgets, New York its Abbotts, Tokyo its Moriyamas, and so on. The cities keep growing and evolving, however, and each new generation of photographers naturally observe their surroundings with fresh eyes that replenish our understanding of the here and now.

Last night the PRC held its Urban Landscape Night here in the photogenic city of Boston as part of its ongoing Nights at the PRC program.  We looked at the portfolios of five urban photographers whose experience ranged from recent graduate to seasoned professional, but all of whom were dedicated and competent artists. Glenn Ruga, the PRC’s executive director, and I kicked off the evening with introductions, some observations about the urban landscape in general, and then we dove right into the presentations.  Each photographer had 20 minutes to present 20 images.  Three chose to lay their prints out on tables and two projected their work digitally.  I was asked to give the “official” feedback although the audience wasn’t shy about contributing input of their own.

(c) Randall Armor

Our first presenter was Randall Armor, who is a successful professional photographer, having shot commercial and editorial assignments for Lotus, Fidelity, Boston Magazine, and many others.  He is currently the director of the photography program for Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts.  This level of technical achievement and sophistication was evident in his many-faceted presentation.  His work had several subcategories including black-and-white street photography, nocturnal time-lapse photographs of moving trains, and complex incidental compositions utilizing signage, windows and reflections.  It was as if he’d curated a group show of urban photography but just happened to have taken all of the shots himself.  The work featured some real gems, and it’s a pleasure to see this skilled pro take a break from commercial assignments in order to follow his own paths of artistic inquiry, each of which seems rich with potential.

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by Barbara Ayotte

Benedict Fernandez

Benedict Fernandez at his Almanac Gallery in Hoboken, NJ. Photograph by Elliott Ruga

On a recent sunny Sunday afternoon this spring, PRC Executive Director Glenn Ruga, his brother Elliott, and I visited the Almanac Gallery on Garden Street in Hoboken, NJ, owned by Benedict “Ben” Fernandez and his wife, Siiri.  Originally Ben’s parents’ home, the small gallery feels more like a museum, marking significant milestones in documentary photography. Ben is most known for his “protest” photography, particularly his famous and intimate portraits of Martin Luther King, Jr. (A portfolio of this work will be sold at the upcoming PRC event “Treasures from the PRC Vault” on May 7.)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Photograph by Benedict Fernandez

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Photograph by Benedict Fernandez. One of 12 images included in Countdown to Eternity portfolio.

Ben was seated on a couch in a small, sparse room dominated by a wall of posters marking the first photography expos at Arles that Ben helped to organize, the ICP lectures of The Concerned Photographer series featuring the icons of twentieth century photography including Cornell Capa and Ben, and posters of rallies with Martin Luther King, Jr.  Photos of Ben with Lisette Model, Richard Avedon, Susan Meiselas and Capa dotted the other walls, near shelves of boxed prints and portfolios.

Minutes after we walked in, Siiri was ready to reminisce about the amazing influence and breadth of Ben’s career, of which Ben prefers to call “photo-anthropology” as opposed to photojournalism. Siiri started by taking out his famous Martin Luther King, Jr. portfolio “Countdown to Eternity,” commissioned by Kodak. The exhibition based on this portfolio has been shown in 18 cities and is still traveling. We didn’t know that there was also a second portfolio, commissioned by Leica. Only five copies of the Leica version were created and are valued at $25,000. The Kodak version sold at the George Eastman House Auction for between $5.000 and 7,000. (Ben and Siiri could not remember the exact price.)

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 By Jessica Ladd, PRC Fall 2012 Intern

Since opening in 1971, the Panopticon Gallery has become one of the oldest fine art photography galleries in the United States specializing in contemporary, modern, and vintage photography.  Their goal is to represent established and emerging photographers who are focused on developing and expanding their careers. They also regularly assist collectors in buying, selling, and locating photographs along with supporting local educational institutions. On October 25th, I had the privilege of attending the Panopticon Gallery’s Fall Photography Salon, where photographers represented by gallery owner Jason Landry were able to show off their most recent work. The artists-Lindsey Beal, Heidi Kirkpatrick, Stella Johnson, Roger Farrington, Alexander Harding, and Bill Franson-all had very different ideas, making each of their portfolios unique.  Throughout the night, I was able to talk with and interview each photographer and learn more about his or her artistic style.  My goal was to learn what each of their portfolios was about, if there was a message they were trying to convey, and what inspired them to create their personal style of photography.

Interestingly enough, both Heidi Kirkpatrick and Lindsey Beal have incorporated themes involving contemporary and historical women’s issues, feminism, and sexuality into their work. Their images highlight the delicate shapes and gentle curves of the female body through unique photographic methods such as transparent imagery on film, sculpture, and 3D mixed media objects. But while the overarching themes of Beal and Kirkpatrick’s work are similar, vast differences set them apart from one another. Kirkpatrick’s work depicts the world experienced by women, along with exploring various areas of the female body in detail, such as faces, arms, legs, breasts, hands, and hair. The subjects in her images range from infants to full grown women, symbolizing the different stages of female’s life.  In a non-traditional approach to photography, Kirkpatrick has transferred these vintage images onto three-dimensional objects including wooden blocks, ceramic spheres, and even mahjong tiles. When I inquired as to why she had chosen such a unique way to display her work, she said that she wanted to give both the objects and photographs a second life. “Only part of their story is being told,” she stated, “The rest is out of reach.” This idea caused me to view the items in a new light, and not as old things, but symbols of another era. What purpose did these objects serve before they were altered? Who are the women in these photographs? What stories do they have to tell? The answers to these questions are, unfortunately, lost with time, but through her creative process, Kirkpatrick has indeed given them a ‘new life.’

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Article by Hilary Falcon, PRC Intern, Spring 2012

For Almond Dhukka, president and savior of the Boston University Photography Club, the love affair with photography all began with a messed up delivery from eBay. After placing an order for a three-ring binder, the engineer in Almond was only hoping to store his class notes in a more methodical manner. What arrived on his doorstep, however, was fate: around $4,000 worth of Nikon camera equipment, all in one box. But Almond still longed for his three-ring binder. After receiving a message from Ebay about the photographer in San Diego who was out an entire order of DSLR + equipment, Almond referred to the terms & agreements listed on eBay’s website and pointed out that the camera goodies were technically his now.

Anyways, it was kismet. Because Almond promptly got to work at learning every technical aspect of his new camera, clearing away its aura of mystery and dissecting each and every one of its functions. This all came pretty naturally for Almond; he majored in Mechanical Engineering and graduated this May from BU with a job already lined up in Connecticut to work on nuclear-powered submarines. When looking at Almond’s photography, one can see that he is drawn to architecture, geometry, symmetry – in a word, linear design. “I love to know how everything works,” Almonds says.

So how did Almond come to save the BU Photo Club, which was suffering from low membership, involvement, and enthusiasm? Read the rest of this entry »

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Untitled (from the series Lessons of Impermanence), 2009 30 x 24 inches, color coupler print from 4x5 negative

GS: Tell me how you first connected with photography.

TS:  My relationship to photography has always been that it was simply another art medium that could be put to use to manifest my ideas, in the same realm as, say, painting, drawing, sculpture, etc. I started out as a painter, and originally wanted to pursue that. However, as I gained familiarity with the grand scheme of art, both historically and the more contemporary, photography became more appealing to me.

GS: Where did you grow up? Is your family from there?

TS: I grew up on the North Shore of Massachusetts, close to Boston. The majority of my immediate family is there.

GS: And you live in Somerville now, right?

TS:  I do.  It’s a great little city with a fairly large art community.

GS: Where did you go to college, Tara? Have you attended grad school?

TS: I received my BFA from The Art Institute of Boston in 2010. I was a fine arts major at first, then after two weeks, I impulsively switched into the photography program. I did this simply because it felt right, but also because I needed a change, and photography was exciting to me.

Grad school, if I go, probably will not be for a few more years. I think it’s important to take time off, and I’m really enjoying life without school.

GS: What was the first photograph you remember seeing, that made a significant impact on you, and how old were you?

TS: This sounds bad, but I honestly can’t remember the first photograph that I saw that drew me in.  I was more interested in the medium as a whole.  I had never realized that photography could be whatever you wanted it to be, it wasn’t just, you know, snapping pictures of what was around you. The possibilities of what a photograph could be were endless, and from a naive standpoint,  that was very exciting. There was a mysterious, sort of eerie quality to photography that I was attracted to.  A photograph possesses the implication that what is depicted in the image is, in a sense, real, and that the moment presented actually happened. I’m saying this in a broad sense; I understand that with all of the digital work and manipulation that goes on now, it is often looked down upon to say that something is “real,” especially in an academic setting.  I’m referring to this idea in comparison to the feeling or construction of a painting or a drawing.

I used to go to the book store when I was younger and look through all of the art books because I honestly didn’t know much about the extent of what art could be and I was hungry to see all of the possibilities. It was then that I came upon photography, and there was just something about it that drew me in. When I first felt this attraction to photography, I was about 9 or 10 years old, and it was something I felt I would never be able to do. Photography was extremely intimidating and I didn’t know how to wrap my head around it. It wasn’t until I started becoming more educated and developed in the arts, especially in a technical sense, that I had a grasp on how to construct a photograph. At the time I first started using a camera (an old 35mm that belonged to my father that was just sitting in the closet unused and collecting dust) I was painting a lot of really basic still life studies for school. I began to experiment with photographing these still lives and trying to make them look like paintings. This isn’t to say that I didn’t try everything, like most new photographers do. I walked around and took street photographs, portraits, abandoned building pictures, all of those different things people new to the medium do to learn how they see. It wasn’t until I went to get my BFA that I decided to pursue photography.

GS: I respond to what you wrote about the “realness” attached to photographs. When I was a kid flipping through books and magazines I was always wary of pictures of things like frogs and fish that I didn’t like in reality. Something about them, about the images themselves unsettled me; it was as though touching the picture was actually like touching the thing. Some of your still life images remind me of the apprehension I experienced as a child. They create a sense of fear, or uneasiness.

TS:  I like the idea of a photograph being able to represent something unsettling that is not typically part of everyday life. This feeling that you talk about as a child looking at photographs, the uneasy feeling that you felt as though you were touching the real thing, is one of the qualities that makes the medium of photography appealing to me over other artistic mediums. A photograph can be very confrontational, especially if it depicts something uncanny that viewers may not necessarily want to look at.

GS: I’m glad you brought up that notion of the uncanny, because that’s a phenomenon your work brings to the foreground. I think the uncanny takes the familiar, the everyday, and makes it strange. In your work, you take ordinary things–ordinary in a butchershop, fishmongers, or slaughterhouse, perhaps, but still not all that unusual–and by recontextualizing them, by putting them in settings that assume some ritual, some set of actions that may still be going on, these objects assume a new uneasiness. It’s not so much that the objects aren’t part of everyday life, it’s the treatment, the presentation of them, that puts them into the realm of the strange and unsettling.

TS:  Still lives have an air of mystery to them and oftentimes, their content is very ambiguous, which makes it such an interesting genre.  Most still lives feel very quiet and delicate, but they can also have the ability to imply something very strange, or even horrific, that occurred before, after, or on the outskirts of the scene. The choice and rendering of the object is so important in establishing what the photograph is intended to express. My photographs, especially when at full scale, force the viewer to see the explicit detail prevalent in the image, no matter how generally grotesque the subject matter may be. However, by using the aesthetic sensibility of painting, the viewer is often seduced by the image’s beauty and can not help but want to look at these fearful, vile arrangements. It is my way of pursuing the age-old sensibility of the vanitas still life, using beautiful, seductive images to successfully introduce unappealing, frightening motifs.

Untitled No. 5 (from the series Seven Evil Thoughts), 2010 40 x 180 inches, color coupler print from 4x5 negative

GS: How large are the multi-panel pieces you’ve been making, like this one?

TS:  Each panel is 40 x 30 inches, making the entire six panel piece 40 x 180 inches.

GS: Tell me about the process, conceptual and physical, you follow to get the images to “full scale” as you put it. You said earlier that you photographed the still life compositions you were making for school; was it a straight line from that to creating tableaux directly for the camera? Did you always know that the images needed to get as big as the recent work is? What motifs, or other goals, were pushing you to get larger?

TS:  By “full scale” I was referring to the photographs in their large exhibition format (versus on a computer screen, handling prints, etc). My process always begins with the concept. Ideas, various influences, feelings and words circulate until I organize and make sense of everything. I then begin to conceptualize specific images, which eventually leads to preliminary sketches of the entire portfolio.

Sketch for Untitled No. 7 (from the series Retribution), 2010, 18 x 12 inches, watercolor on paper

Untitled No. 7 (from the series Retribution), 2011, 40 x 30 inches, color coupler print from 4 x 5 negative

After all of the sketching is realized, I begin shooting. The entire process of arranging the image varies depending on the nature of its content, but I always try to take my time with the work.

When I began photographing the still life arrangements that were originally intended to be painted, I quickly realized that I could, essentially, “paint with the camera.”  The process of moving away from painting and into photography was fairly straightforward and simple for me. It just kind of made sense. However, I hope to never let go of the use of paint in my process entirely. Besides being a necessary tool in the pre-planning of my photographs, I think the sketches play a significant role in informing the grand scheme of the work.

I always knew my photographs had to be large in order to explicitly imply the notion of painting. As much as I appreciate small work that packs a punch, I am in love with impact that large images can have. The first artist that comes to mind when speaking specifically about size is the painter Jenny Saville. I became enamored with her work and the magnificence of its size, it is so overwhelming and confrontational, and the scale she chooses maintains the dialogue she has established with the old master painters. Since my work is also referencing that area of art history, I find the larger size effective. In my arrangements, every drip, stain, mark, and gesture is important.  I agonize over every minute detail. Making the work large is the only way to do these details justice.

Panel 2 of Untitled No. 5 (from the series Seven Evil Thoughts), 2010, 40 x 30 inches, color coupler print from 4 x 5 negative

Panel 4 of Untitled No. 5 (from the series Seven Evil Thoughts), 2010, 40 x 30 inches, color coupler print from 4 x 5 negative

GS: Tara, thanks for talking this through with me. As I’m writing, late in May, I know you’ve just received notification about your 2011 Photography Fellowship award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. I wanted to say congratulations on the honor; I was pleased to have seen and supported your work in that context as one of the three jurors this year. Will this financial gain allow you to do anything new you’d been hoping to do for some time?

TS:  Thank you so much, George.  I am so grateful for the several people that have been supportive of my work. Every artist certainly needs those people, and I feel very fortunate.  I’ve recently completed a new body of work and am currently in the early planning stages of the next, but I always want to go bigger, more elaborate, as I keep going.  It is definitely beyond exciting for me to have funds to work with.  We’ll see what’s in store for the future.

This conversation was carried out through document sharing, starting in February 2011.

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Among Photo District News‘ list of 30 “new and emerging photographers to watch” published in the April 2011 issue are several with New England connections:

  • Rachel Barrett, born in Cambridge, MA, attended School of Visual Arts and Tishc School of the Arts at NYU, lives in New York
  • Justin Fantl, born in Hanover, NH, attended San Francisco Studio School and Academy of Art, San Francisco, lives in Brooklyn
  • Dima Gavrysh, born in Kiev, Ukraine, attended RISD, lives in New York and Providence
  • Ryan Heffernan, born in Berkeley, CA, attended Bates College, lives in San Francisco
  • Joel Micah Miller, born in Silver Spring, MD, attended Northeastern University and Hochschule der Medien in Stuttgart, Germany, lives in Stuttgart

See their work, and that of others worth watching, at’s gallery site, here.

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I was intrigued to read Stephen Tourlentes’ comments about his night photographs of prisons, courtesy of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and their web feature, ArtSake. If you are unaware of ArtSake, here’s what the MCC has to say about it:

ArtSake is a place to dig into the creative, innovative work of Massachusetts artists. It’s hosted by the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), the state’s arts agency.

We chose the name ArtSake because support for the arts is often framed in terms of its additional benefits: to education, to the economy, to communities. But we wanted to carve out a space where we celebrated art and art-making for its inherent merits, for its own sake. We’ll use this space to celebrate our state’s innovative and creative minds, highlight new projects, and feature ideas and content straight from the artists.

Above all, we hope to encourage readers to participate in the advancement of Massachusetts arts – especially their own.

I was pleased to discover the state doing this for the arts. I will try to make a habit of checking ArtSake for features on photographers, though I would probably benefit from reading all its offerings, as a way of further acquainting myself with the arts and artists of Massachusetts. I note, though, that the ArtSake archive has 70 items tagged with “photography,” so maybe I should confine myself to my home medium.

Link here to Stephen Tourlentes on ArtSake.

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Just read this blog entry about Steve McCurry, who managed to get the last roll of Kodachrome out of Kodak’s manufacturing. I’m imagining the machines turning off as the film comes off the spool, in the dark. Thanks to Judith H. Dobrzynski for this. Jeff Jacobson, who is on our schedule of exhibitors here in 2011, is also thinking about the last roll, in a metaphoric and personal sense. A long-time user of Kodachrome, Jeff’s “last roll” is a meditation on life both on film and off. Stay tuned for more on that.

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In order not to lose some nice bits of PRC history, we’ve created an archives of the Member’s Spotlights that have been produced in the last couple of months. The Spotlights will be replaced by NEO later this summer. But instead of losing these items to the ether, you can re-access them here; the links will take you to the Spotlights as they were formatted for the PRC web site.

Yael Ben-Zion

Barbara Norfleet

Paul Wainwright

Andrew M. K. Warren

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