Nicholas Korkos & Communicating Truth

artist resident – Nicholas Korkos – opens up about his photography.

" I don't hold back. My one goal is to communicate truth, the subject's and my own." 

Working on exposing the side less seen, Nick Korkos' inspiration lies within everyday occurrences and details ... the moon, streetlights, dancers gliding across the stage, a woman walking with her dog ... even a man staring into the lens.

Trying to dig deeper than just surface value, Nick communicates that what they all have in common is that there is more to them than is being shown.

As a member of the Dickerman Prints Artist-in-Residence program, Nick developed his Dance in Motion series, which explores the intimate and abstract world of dance studios across North America. 

Be sure to stop by the gallery before October 28 to see Nick's work in person.


NICK KORKOS: "One night at the Esalen Institute, I went outside to photograph the incredible moon. I increased the shutter speed on the camera, and as  I went to take the photo, the camera slipped out of my hand.

The slip created a blur, and from that accident a whole series was born. Another side of my brain opened up and I thought, "This is my golden ticket!" Although that may have been a bit of a stretch, to a certain extent it was true; I started to see how a camera can be manipulated and how interesting it is to created the unrecognizable."

 From Moon Series From Moon Series


NK: "Always! As a kid I would buy disposable cameras like they were packs of gum. There's something about documenting moments, recording the look on someone's face or the colors in the sky, and then to always be able to look back and remember, that feels really powerful. "

 From Aszure Barton & Artists From Aszure Barton & Artists

DPG: Out of your three categories on your website (lifestyle, performance, and abstract) which would you say is your favorite, if you have one?

NK: "I don't think I have one. Performance is thrilling and keeps you on your feet because it's collaborative and about showcasing every aspect - the characters/performers, costume, lighting, and set design and the intention of the piece. I love the pressure.

My abstract photos are the most freeing and personal, but portraiture is perhaps what sparks me most. There isn't anything more truthful than someone's face. Words are able to be twisted but the physical is hard to misinterpret."

 From Portraits From Portraits

DPG: Can you speak a little bit about your photographic relationship with your subjects? We’re interested in learning more about how photographers use different methods or techniques to get the images they want.

NK: "I try not to ask people to change. Someone's eyes or lips or jaw can tell us everything we ever needed to know. This of course ties in to keep your subject comfortable and light, even if it's a heavier time.

I find it helpful to talk subjects through their feelings. Not asking someone to change for a photograph is the same as not asking someone to change for any other reason. It's a hard concept to grasp but once you do, trusts abounds. "

 From Portraits From Portraits

To learn more about Nicolas Korkos' work and for contact information, please visit his website. 

Sumeet Banerji & The Shroomscapes Series

By examining our world from the viewpoint of a Portobello Mushroom, Sumeet Banerji's Shroomscapes strives to challenge how we see and interpret beauty.

Each photograph begins with Sumeet zooming in on his fungal subjects, giving the viewer a new awareness of its structure and design.

Using only a cylindrical pinhole camera with 120mm film, Sumeet produces his images using a 2 hour exposure time. The result – beautiful, detailed photographs that leave you wanting more.

. . .

After spending the summer working on Shroomscapes during his residency at Dickerman Prints, Sumeet sat down with us to chat about photography, pinhole cameras, life, and mushrooms.

To experience Sumeet's work, please join us on Thursday, September 28, 2017, at Dickerman Prints Gallery for an opening night reception for The Residents. (RSVP HERE)

DICKERMAN PRINTS GALLERYHow did you get started in photography?

SUMEET BANERJI: "As a child, I practiced drawing in an obsessive way. I was a little nuts. I felt it was foundational to establishing a visual language, like if I could learn how to draw, I would be able to speak through pictures. Drawing trains you how to communicate where things are in space. It makes you understand how to make something look large or small. When you study drawing, you are really learning how the human brain processes the visual field.

Drawing was my start in photography. I think that my photographic work now is often a deliberate manipulation of the perceived scale and viewpoints of things. These trends in my photographs are in large part due to my drawing practice."

DPG: What does photography mean to you?

SB: "For me, it’s a kind of puzzle, a way to challenge the mind. You have to be able to look at a three dimensional visual field and have an intuition about how it is going to flatten visually.

Using a pinhole camera with film, the way I shot the Shroomscapes, there was no viewfinder so I couldn’t see what I was doing at all. I calculated and visualized what I could–after that it was a complete mystery until I developed the film."

DPGWhat has your biggest challenge been as a photographer?

SB: "I want people to come back to my pictures many times and always find new things. That’s the basic aim: to make a picture that doesn’t lose its impact over time. I’ve found the best way to do this is through my editing process.

Often, I won't look at the pictures I've taken for a long time, creating the possibility of an emotional disconnection. It has to feel like someone else’s work before I can be objective. In the case of The Shroomscapes, I didn’t look at them for five years. If I look at work I’ve made after a long time and still feel an emotional connection to it, I put it out."

DPGWith your shroomscape series- what was your process with the pinhole camera? What were some of the challenges of this project for you?

SB"The Shroomscapes are made with extremely low tech items. There is no post processing/manipulation. The prints show exactly what was captured on film. The images were made with a cylindrical box (pinhole camera), a portobello mushroom and 120mm film. The warping (in this case straightening) effect is from how the film was wound. The pinhole camera was put right inside the portobello mushroom, within an inch of the stalk so there was very little light. The film had to be exposed for two to three hours.

It is a photographic take on the very old tradition of still life painting. The long exposures made it like oil painting where the image could be manipulated slowly and deliberately.

There is an essay called 'In Praise of Shadows' by the novelist Junichiro Tanizaki that talks about the beauty of shadows and dark spaces. I wanted to capture an image that was in almost total darkness, showing us something from the real world that we can only see through the photographic process–darkness and shadows.

The images that resulted were tonally delicate. Small shifts and inconsistencies in the printing dramatically change the impact of the images. Gabriel, Seth and Garnell at the studio were able to bring the pictures to life in the real world in a very special way."

DPG: What is the future of this body of work?

SB: "I want to expand the series, take more Shroomscapes. Possibly a survey of different species of mushrooms taken with pinhole cameras. I also want to create a series of Cabbagescapes, Avocadoscapes, and maybe even Flowerscapes."

DPGDo you have any new projects you’d like to tell us about?

SB: "I am starting to release my pictures in a series of volumes. It's going to be a collection of my photographic work in books with small pigment prints inserted into the books. It's a good way to see and own all the work in physical form.

Volume 1 contains four series (including the Shroomscapes) with essays and is coming out this month."

To see more of Sumeet Banerji's work and for contact information, please visit his website.

Igniting A Revolution: An interview with Kelly Johnson

For fifteen years, Kelly Johnson has been documenting progressive movements. 

From the climate movement, to Black Lives Matter, the fight to increase minimum wage, Kelly Johnson aims to show humans healing the sick systems and institutions we ourselves created.

We recently sat down with Kelly to discuss her time as an artist-in-residence at Dickerman Prints, as well as her thoughts on photography, life, and the revolution. To experience Kelly's work, please join us for the opening night reception of The Residents.

Thursday, September 28, 2017
6:00 - 9:00pm

DICKERMAN PRINTS GALLERY: What portfolio or project are you currently working on during your residency at Dickerman Prints?

KELLY JOHNSON: "I am working on a project called Direct Action, depicting activists working for various issues by stopping business as usual."

DPg: Can you tell us one of your favorite stories from your life as a photographer?

KJ"One of my favorite times I experienced as an activist/documentary photographer was my time at #Occupy SF. I slept in a tent in downtown SF for 3 months and built relationships with activists all over the bay."

DPgI’m sure, like most of us, you have a point in time where photography caught a hold of you. When did you become a photographer in earnest?

KJ"As a child I moved 18 times by the time I was 18 so I was always saying goodbye to friends and family so I was always taking photos. When I was 21 I started working at a lab and getting shooting gigs and started my own business and one day I realized omg I’m a photographer. I was 25 at the time and have been shooting professionally ever since."

DPg: Out of your movement portfolio, do you have one in particular that was your favorite to shoot?

KJ: "The bay bridge image is my most popular and famous image and I was very honored to be invited to that action. I will say I was so excited that I did not shoot that much that day so I was lucky to get such an iconic image."

DPG: You do abstract painting as well. Which medium do you prefer and why? 

KJ"My abstract work is photoshop collage of images that I do various things to in photoshop. I have worked in oils and acrylic with collage but photoshop is so fun and unlimited."

DPGDo you have any suggestions for those who want to get involved with shooting movements?

KJ"The reason I document the progressive movement is because it is the single most important movement in human history. The life and health of the species is resting on the success or failure of the humans who stand up to save us all. If we fail we are done here. So my advice is care."

DPG: Any new projects that you have in the works? 

KJ"After being in the bay for 5 years now, I have decided to restart my portrait business here in the bay. I am very interested in working with local artists and doing editorial portraits that are interesting and unique, that the artist and I build in collaboration. I have already started working with a couple artists but have yet to start shooting."

To see more of Kelly Johnson's work and for contact information, please visit her website.






An Interview with Jordan Reznick

Meet Jordan Reznick (pronoun: they) — photographer, scholar, activist, educator, and artist-in-residence at Dickerman Prints.

Jordan's passion is photographing communities of people with whom they are intimate: exploring both the agency and vulnerability of their subjects.

Jordan Reznick's Queer Babes series — which is the centerpiece of their residency at Dickerman Prints — was recently exhibited at Aperture Foundation in New York and Romer Young Gallery in San Francisco, as well as being honored with a feature in Vice i-D Magazine.

Some of Jordan's other work includes a series documenting a cooperative community in Oregon — where they lived — and an in-depth exploration of their immediate and extended family.

Jordan received a BFA in Photography from New York University, and an MFA in Photography and an MA in Visual & Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. Currently, Jordan is a PhD Candidate in Visual Studies at UC Santa Cruz.

To experience Jordan's work, please join us on Thursday, September 28, 2017, at Dickerman Prints Gallery for an opening night reception for The Residents. (RSVP HERE)


Jordan Reznick: "My father was a photographer. I grew up admiring his strange photographs and smelling darkroom chemicals. He taught me to use a manual camera when I was ten. I’ve been photographing ever since. "

 Oriah twists (2011),  from We Wish That We All Have a Wonderful Life Oriah twists (2011),  from We Wish That We All Have a Wonderful Life


JR: "I take photographs of people. For years I avoided photographing people because of the power relationship involved and my own discomfort with the interaction—I’m pretty shy. However, over the years, I realized that all of my favorite photographs are photographs of people. In a photograph you can stare at some one in the face at length in a way you rarely can in person. Photographs of people captivate me in a way that landscapes never do.

However, because of the power relationship involved and the politics of representation, I choose to only photograph people with whom I am intimate or have a shared sense of vulnerability. I want my images to be honest and vulnerable, and I also want my subjects to feel that they have power over how they’re represented."

 Rhae, San Francisco, California (2017), from Queer Babes Rhae, San Francisco, California (2017), from Queer Babes


JR: "I’m working on the Queer Babes project. It’s a portrait series that explores the complexity of gender identity and beauty within the queer and trans community today."

 Christiaan, Rosemead, California (2016), from Queer Babes Christiaan, Rosemead, California (2016), from Queer Babes


JR: "I began the project by photographing my friends and lovers, but since then the project has expanded to include new people I meet and people that I had not met until approaching them about the project. Many people that I did not know before, I now count as my friends. I feel really lucky in that way.

I photograph each person in or around their home when possible. I don’t plan the photograph beforehand, but try out several settings once I arrive for the shoot. There is sometimes a sort of collaboration about outfits and backgrounds, but it really depends on the person. Every shoot is an entirely different experience. Sometimes making photographs is only a small fraction of what we do."

 Eric, San Francisco, California (2016), from Queer Babes Eric, San Francisco, California (2016), from Queer Babes


JR: "We Wish That We All Have a Wonderful Life is a project exploring my family. I photographed my immediate and extended family in different parts of the country, exploring what it was like to photograph while experiencing shared vulnerability with my photographic subjects. I photograph from a place that is embedded within my relationships with my subjects rather than as an outside observer. "

 Mom's orange tree (2012),  from We Wish That We All Have a Wonderful Life Mom's orange tree (2012),  from We Wish That We All Have a Wonderful Life


JR: "I am working on developing a new project and all that I will say about it is that it’s pornographic, dirty, and fun."

To see more of Jordan Reznick's work and for contact information, please visit their website.

An Interview with Kenneth Shevlin

Meet Kenneth Shevlin: artist, former commercial photographer and participant in Dickerman Prints' artist-in-residence program.

Kenneth's unique and varied photographic works range from the surreal to the hyper-real. His Places In-Between | New Landscapes series emulates the style of 19th century impressionism using a homemade pinhole camera. Meanwhile, My Space takes an intimate look into that most personal room in our home: the bedroom.

Recently, Kenneth was kind enough to spend some time chatting about his photography and career. Here is that interview...


DP: What does photography mean to you?

Photography is a complicated subject for me. In a day and age when everyone has a camera in their pocket and the ability to broadcast every moment of their lives, I find the amount of images I encounter on a daily basis overwhelming. The over saturation of imagery in the world maybe even threatens the medium of photography to be taken seriously. As far back as 1977 Susan Sontag had already written in her book, On Photography, that -

Recently, photography has become almost as widely practiced an amusement as sex and dancing—which means that, like every mass art form, photography is not practiced by most people as an art. It is mainly a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power.

Photographers today seems to relish the idea that “there’s an app for that…” or “Don’t worry about it, I can change it in post…” Expediency and convenience seems to be king in the medium, robbing it of a kind of specialness. I’ve always loved photography and the potential for it’s meditative process in making art.

I think that’s why photographers like Ellen Susan and Sally Mann use the 19th century collodion process. Aside from the unique images that are created through this process, I imagine the cumbersomeness of that process slows them down and helps them more deeply engage with their subjects.

Photography is a complicated medium that skirts the line between a means of art making and a mechanical reproduction process - (Think Walter Benjamin). So what does photography mean to me, or rather why am I a photographer? I like the process of using a camera as an investigative tool and hopefully uncovering new ways of seeing and interpreting the world. That and I can’t paint!

You have spent most of your career as a commercial photographer. How does that work differ from your passion projects?

To clarify, I only spent a relatively small amount of time as a commercial photographer in the early to mid 1990’s … and most of that time was spent as a first assistant to a very successful commercial photographer here in San Francisco. He specialized in fashion and table top. It’s safe to say that experience killed most of my interest in commercial photography and almost killed my interest in photography in general. After quitting my assisting job and any commercial photography pursuits, I didn’t really pick up a camera again until 2010.

To answer the second part of your question, although quite a stretch in time, the way my photography differs now from before has everything to do with having gone to college and studying art history and conceptual art practice. Art history taught me how to think about art aesthetically and how to appreciate art and its trajectory in a social and historical context.

The conceptual art practice part taught me how to challenge conventional thinking around materials and what art could actually be outside of mainstream interpretation. The experience taught me to think about the “why” and “what" when considering what I was doing. I think without that experience I probably would never have come back to photography… up until then it had seemed so devoid of meaning for me… other than a way to promote products.

Can you describe the idea and inspiration behind your My Space project?

The My Space project came about in late 2014 while recalling my childhood. I had these memories of hearing nightly muffled interactions between my parents through our shared bedroom wall. Usually devoid of any discernible content because of the wall separating us, my parents bedroom became a mysterious place where private things were spoken about, done, and kept hidden away.

Being left alone quite a bit as a child, I would enter their bedroom as a kind of anthropologist any chance I got. I would search through their drawers and closet trying to find clues as to what was going on in that room during those nights. I came across allot of things I shouldn't have: A gun, war medals, pornography, money, cigarettes… It was both fascinating and frightening to me that my parents were one thing on the outside and two complete strangers to me when inhabiting their bedroom. So it got me thinking about the bedroom as unique space, the things we do in that space and the artifacts we keep there. So as a subject, photographing bedrooms seemed it could make an interesting series.

I’m still working out how best to present the spaces in terms of the amount of room to photograph and composition. Once I figure out what seems to work best, I plan on doing as many rooms as possible for a future show and maybe even try to self-publish a coffee table book of the images.

If you could photograph the “spaces” of any five people – living or not – who would they be and why?

I’m not sure. It’s the same issue I have with “if you were marooned on a desert island, what album would you want to bring with you?”

I’ve found every room I’ve photographed so far to be fascinating in some respect.  I go into every environment excited by the challenge of how to compose the photograph and how to light it.  What I find fascinating are the participants reactions after seeing the completed shot of their bedroom. It ranges from them really liking the photo to feeling it looks like some kind of forensic crime scene … filling them with a kind of dread … I guess I couldn’t ask for a better reaction!

Your landscape series attempts to emulate the look and feel of 19th century impressionism, what draws you to that particular art style?

For this body of work, the impressionistic look is a result of having used a pinhole camera. I felt the landscapes needed a particular visual style in order to explore the idea I was having about them. Namely, rapidly diminishing open spaces resulting from resource extraction and the expediency of wholesale development.

I felt Impressionism as a recognizable style was both in concept and technique best suited to the look I was trying to achieve. In this approach I’m trying to blend the scene, allowing light and natural forms to subsume the disfigurement caused by human imposition. My hope for these images is that they create an abstracted landscape existing somewhere between the literal and the imagined, encouraging contemplation around more thoughtful use of these spaces and the need for their conservation.


You developed your own pinhole lens for full frame digital cameras. Can you talk a bit about how you made it and how you use it?


There was a lot of trial and error getting the pinhole lens configuration to work correctly. Lots of gluing, drilling, step up rings, ND filters …etc. Even with the final lens configuration, it’s still a very hit or miss process trying to capture the image when shooting, but I love the process.

One of my favorite parts of being an artist is experimentation. I think most good ideas come from the “happy accident” when trying to solve creative problems. Recently I bought a new camera body from a different manufacturer … now I have to make the lens all over again!

You recently returned from a long photographic trip along the Northwest coast of America and Canada. Could you share a few of your favorite stories and photos from the adventure?

Indeed I did…last summer. It was an amazing trip. I try and get out onto the road each summer for a month to recharge and do the landscape work. It’s also a time I like to think about new photo projects. This trip though, I did more thinking than photographing.

My hope this last trip was to focus on the West Coast. Photographing the sea and the surrounding area from the tip of Washington State down back into California. Unfortunately with the strange weather - El Nino and The Blob (large mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean) most of the trip the entire coast was blanketed in fog.

So short of a meditation on the color grey through photography, I opted to do a bunch of reading on photography and exploring coastal towns. Many of those towns relying on tourism (now that logging is mostly gone) reminded me of something out of a David Lynch film …. scenes of desperation mixed with anxiety, fear and secrets. Could be another body of work!

On your Web site, you claim to have “no interest in whether analog photography is better than digital.” This begs the question, “why not?” Also, which do you prefer and why?

Well I’ve since removed that from the web site as I am not sure how much it added. But to clarify… My relationship to photography has always been a bit frustrated by the tension of its need for supposed precision, science and loyalty to purism and tradition. That and there’s a certain machismo around “gear” and the medium as if it were a kind of sport. It’s a real turn off and ultimately has no real bearing on the making of meaningful images.

It seems, unlike in other art forms, there’s this perceived notion that photography has a set of rules that need to be followed: One must use the correct shutter speed and exposure. There’s a particular lens or manufacturer that’s better than another. Adherence to “classical” composition is mandatory for a proper photograph. Lighting ratios … needing to follow development chemistry exactly (mostly during the days when I worked in the darkroom)… Pro vs Prosumer… A full size sensor is better than a cropped. It goes on an on. As far as I’m concerned these divisions are meaningless and do nothing to further photography as an expressive art form. Mostly it seems to relegate the camera’s use to an elite class of technicians working within a set of confining parameters.

With the development of digital photography there were the arguments between the purists and early adopters about how analog was better than digital…. how film had more fidelity or dynamic range or resolution. In the meantime most of these detractors were still doing the same stultifying work they’d always done. I don’t know… maybe the same arguments went on between those early photographers doing daguerreotype, ambrotypes and tintypes. Ultimately it all just seems like a bunch of noise.

I realize in the stridency of my response I should probably differentiate between my impressions of commercial photography and art photography. My experience working in commercial photography taught me it was important to represent the product or brand idyllically (realistically?) at any cost - regardless of the inherent falseness of the final “hero image”. This most of the time required manufacturing shots by using professional models wearing tailored clothing or in he case of table top … glycerin and water to emulate water droplets on a beer bottle. In these instances maybe it does call for a kind of science, being there is a need for consistency and repeatability.

On the other hand, with art photography (my opinion), it’s not always just about the final image, but the creative process of working towards the desired idea independent of the accepted means and conventions of getting there. More of a free and exploratory process of trying to create something unique in look, texture and feel ….something one of a kind. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the reluctant say, “I’m not a good photographer … I don't know how to use a camera” …. It’s hard to imagine the individual(s) who did the cave paintings at Lascaux having such an ingrained notion of proper technique and skill!

So as to which do I prefer… analog or digital photography? Neither … they’re both great. I do more digital photography as it affords me the opportunity to experiment economically.

What projects are you working on during your residency at Dickerman Prints?

For the residency at Dickerman Prints, I will mostly be working on the pinhole landscape series. I did however work with Seth for one session on a “My Space” photo… discussing how I might do some adjustments to the image before printing. If time permits I’d like to work with Seth and print more from that series before the end of the residency.

What advice do you have to those among us who dream of following their passion and turning photography into a career choice?

If you're talking about advice on how to become a commercial photographer as a career choice …. do NOT spend $100,000 to go to a art school to become a commercial photographer. Find the commercial photographer who’s work you admire and figure out a way to assist with them. You’ll learn more about technique and business that way than all the classes you could ever take at the Pasadena Art Center.

If you want to follow your passion as an art photographer …. get a skill … wait … get a few skills that you can use to make a living while pursuing your vision and personal style. Don’t be afraid to break rules. Create projects for yourself and figure how to bring them to fruition. Figure out what your work is about and why you’re doing it … it will help as a guide in realizing the look, feel and content of what you’re exploring.

Finally try and get into a residency program like the one offered at Dickerman’s. The ability of being able to work with an artist and master printer like Seth would be invaluable in helping you to get closer to whatever vision your trying to achieve.

To meet Kenneth and experience his pinhole landscape series, be sure to stop by opening night of The Residents: Volume III - Friday, December 4, 6-9pm at Dickerman Prints Gallery - 1141 Howard Street, San Francisco.

8 Questions with Preston Gannaway - a Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographer

As an independent documentary photographer and filmmaker, Preston Gannaway focuses on intimate stories about American families and subcultures. Her story on the St. Pierre family, Remember Me, was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography.

As a participant in the Dickerman Prints Artist-in-Residence program, Preston completed a new series of photographic prints from her Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea project. We recently sat down to chat with Preston about her life and career, as she prepares for the upcoming The Residents: Volume III event.

 Bathing, by Preston Gannaway Bathing, by Preston Gannaway

DP: What does photography mean to you?

PG: Photography for me personally is a language, a creative outlet, a way to affect social change, a livelihood, a shared human connection, a reminder of beauty, a way to understand the world. It’s so many things.

. . .

You spent years working in the newspaper industry before moving on to freelance work and passion projects. Can you speak a bit to that transition?

 Twins, by Preston Gannaway Twins, by Preston Gannaway

I was frustrated with the newsroom barriers I hit while trying to do work I felt was important. I realized that too often my goals were at odds with the newspaper’s goals; it seemed like the right time to leave. My partner got a job in San Francisco so we decided to move West and and for me to give freelancing a try.

A lot of the work I do is still the same, most of my clients are newspapers and magazines. But I have so much more Flexibility to choose how I spend my time. Almost three years later, I miss the paycheck but I can’t imagine going back. Ultimately, I don’t want anyone else to be able to claim ownership over my work.

. . .

Your work focuses on documentary photography; specifically, intimate stories about American families and subcultures. How did you become drawn to this genre of photography?

I think I grew up always feeling like an outsider. I suppose many of us did. Because of that, I’ve always been drawn to people who operate outside of the mainstream. Even as a child I felt that way, so it was a natural thing to be drawn to in my work life as well. In terms of the intimate work, I was lucky to be trained by a photo editor I had at the Concord Monitor named Dan Habib when I was first starting out. Getting photographs of intimate moments was a job requirement. And then I saw how effective it could be.

. . .

To create such intimate portraits, you must spend a lot of time with the families you photograph. How do you choose your subjects and develop these relationships?

 Sledding, by Preston Gannaway Sledding, by Preston Gannaway

Relationships are crucial to my work but they can be built over a span of minutes or years. Being genuine and honest is a big part of it.

I find if I’m comfortable with myself and what I’m doing, it helps put people at ease. I try to be non-threatening and unassuming. I don’t carry a lot of gear with me. That said, some people are open to being documented and some aren’t, it’s important to spot the difference. I try not to push people.

. . .

Can you tell us one of your favorite stories from your career?

I got to spend a day with President Obama while he was still a senator campaigning for the New Hampshire presidential primary. He was very personable, as was his staff. It was one of those days on the job that was filled with seemingly insignificant details that I’ll hold as cherished memories for a lifetime.

. . .

What projects are you working on during your residency at Dickerman Prints?

I recently published a book on my project, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. During my Dickerman residency, I’m focusing on creating an exhibition of the work. I’m really happy to have this opportunity.

. . .

 Watermelon, by Preston Gannaway Watermelon, by Preston Gannaway

Winning the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography is an incredible accomplishment. Congratulations! How did that come about? What was the process like?

Thank you! Yes, it was an amazing honor. From 2006 to 2008, reporter Chelsea Conaboy and I documented a family as they dealt with the mother’s terminal cancer. We following Rich and Carolynne St. Pierre, and their children, through her sickness and during the grieving process.

The award was for that photo story. I submitted it for consideration. Though I must admit, I was in total shock and disbelief when I heard it won. Rich came with me to the newsroom as the news was made public. He also attended the ceremony at Columbia University in New York with me. We’re close friends now and I’m still documenting the family today.

. . .

What advice do you have to those among us who dream of following their passion and turning fine art photography into a career choice?

 Oysters, by Preston Gannaway Oysters, by Preston Gannaway

What advice do you have to those among us who dream of following their passion and turning fine art photography into a career choice?

I’m still trying to Figure out if fine art photography can become part of my career! I mean, at least from a business standpoint. I’m grateful to have editorial photography help pay the bills. But one of the things I’ve learned recently is how beneficial it is to connect with people one-on-one. It’s really tough to make those connections from a cold call. I’m a big proponent of portfolio reviews as a way to get your work in front of someone you’d like to work with.

. .

Thanks so much!

Thank you! And thanks again to everyone at Dickerman Prints for supporting this project!

 Plankers, by Preston Gannaway Plankers, by Preston Gannaway

To meet Preston and see her latest work from Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, be sure to stop by opening night of The Residents: Volume III - Friday, December 4, 6-9pm at Dickerman Prints Gallery - 1141 Howard Street, San Francisco.

Click here to learn more or to RSVP

Anastasia Kuba on the Trainlines of Russia

One of our newest artists-in-residence, Anastasia Kuba is fascinated by the inner life of Russian trains. Motivated in part by the forbidden nature of photographing on the trains, Anastasia familiarizes herself with the workers around her, angling for portraits of her subjects in context.

Kim Sikora: Can you talk a little bit about your series “People of the Road”?

Anastasia Kuba: At the moment rail road is still the most popular way to travel from the city to a city. (The) rail Road is like circulatory system of gigantic country.

I will be travelling through Russia by train from West to East making multiple stops in different cities. My main focus will be train attendants. Russian train attendants are known to have a very tough exterior, but at the same time to be very soulful.  I am interested in learning what is behind that mask of an inapproachable person. I want to know what their life is like, who they are,  what their day consists of, what do they see outside of the train window.

I was looking through different forums to find how international travelers see Russian train attendants. This was my favorite:

“Everyone who’s been doing a trip by train while in Russia knows what I’m talking about. These almost mythical stern people treating their cars like their own children, vacuum cleaning it at least twice a day, keeping their passengers in check … And lest you open the window….”

KS: When you are shooting in the trains, are you seeking out specific subjects or details to include?

AK: I am photographing everything/everyone that catches my eye. I think about what to include/ what to not include later when editing.

KS: How does this series relate to your past work?

AK: Vulnerability and strength has been the main focus of my work and it is a main theme of this project.

KS: How did you create the concept for this series?

AK: One of the times I went back to Russia to visit my family and took a train from Moscow to Voronezh I met a train attendant who captivated me with her personality. I remember a moment when an impatient child asked her when is train going to stop. She answered him nicely and then spoke to herself while looking at the window: “When is the train is going to stop… all my life I am asking myself this question”. I just couldn’t forget her. She was so soulful, authentic…

KS: Given the obstacles that most of us face as artists, it can be a struggle to make the time and space to create new work. How do you balance your personal and professional time?

AK: I think I am extremely lucky. I am professional photographer/ artist. Photography is my work, hobby, passion and lifestyle.

KS: Each of your subjects looks they hold a number of stories within them. Are there any stories from your experience with them you’d like to share?

AK: The lady on the very first photograph shared a car with me on the train from Moscow to Voronezh. Her name is Nusha. She was the first person I photographed for that project. Nusha was on her way home from visiting her son who just had a new born grandchild. She has 7 children. When she was 32 and her youngest child was 3 month old her husband passed away…

KS: You are beginning to plan your continuation of this project in Russia. Can you tell us more about your timeframe for your trip? How do you plan to fund it?

AK: I am planning on going in August and travelling  till mid December, because  am interested in showing the rail road life through a change of seasons. Everyone who took a train in Russia once was very excited tohearr about this project. I am launching my kickstarter compain June 1st and I hope that people support me iin my wish to learn and to tell stories of Russian train attendants and all people who’s life is tied o Russian Rail Road.

Stay tuned for the inclusion of Anastasia’s work in the next residency show.

Ana Vega’s Decisive Imagery

Ana Vega’s photography exists at the intersection of engineered fiction and bare reality. Ana is one of our newest photographers in the Residency Program here at the lab, and will be exhibiting images from this body of work in an event at ABCo Artspace in Oakland this upcoming weekend.

Don’t miss the opening, this Saturday April 20, 6pm at 3135 Filbert St in Oakland.

Ana says, “The act of photographing represents a series of decisions and actions, and my work investigates the protocols of the look, of visual perception. I strive to offer images that, despite their realistic qualities, provoke a hesitation as to how to understand them.”

Kim Sikora: Can you talk a little bit about your series? How did you create the concept?

Ana Vega: Her eyelashes rise and fall like a theatre curtain is the trio of images that I worked on while in residency at Dickerman. I was working with silicone, pigmenting it and then pouring it. I wanted to make tongues that would come out of a picture. I then worked with them in the studio with a neutral backdrop to make these images. The process became close to painting, applying color to a surface, red puddles on a flat grey. The images appear in a degree zero as face expressions, moods, postures. Between extreme abstraction and immediate facial recognition.

The images for Her eyelashes rise and fall like a theatre curtain are a parade of an eyelash’s calculated
palpitations, in postures of seduction. Sticking out tongues pouting lusciously, showing their make-up and apparent retouches, like lipstick marks/tracks. The idea of mutual desire with images. “Pictures want to be kissed. And of course we want to kiss them back.”

There is the pleasure of distortion; when the photograph arrives on my screen, the primary mood isn’t the same any more, it’s ready to change. I can knead it and put on a different face, the face I want to show. There is a temporality that is specific to the photographic medium, that is dismantled in stages. It shows through as a being that is always malleable, at each step of production, in it’s own way.

KS: A lot of your images are very clean and spare. Can you describe some of your aesthetic choices in
this vein?

AV: The studio space has an essential role in my images, it is this place where I can bring an object and isolate it – from its context, from its relationships to the world, to us in a certain way – and create fiction… Its a blank. The spareness that you are referring to comes from the will of a specific focus. As portraits of sorts, the subject is placed in plain view. I put my subjects through auditions, and as characters they may play several different roles, or re-appear in different contexts or scenes.

KS: How has your imagery changed in the past few years?

AV: It’s actually changing now, again. My work has always been interested in the aesthetics of advertising, and its static feel. Without leaving that arena, but as a departure towards something more sensual, my imagery is now looking for a more formless or anonymous shape.

KS: For this project, you’ve been in many different locations, LA, SF, and Paris. Do you see any trends
in the local photography scene? How would you compare this to other cities you’ve lived and created in?

AV: I came to California because I’ve been interested for the past couple of years in a young scene of
photographers that was bubbling up in a very influencial way for me – Elad Lassry, Sam Falls, Lukas Blalock, Michele Abeless… Annette Kelm, in Germany..

Southern California gave me something more, something else, difficult to describe. The landscape and cityscape, Peter Shire (and the Memphis Studios)… but it’s not only that. I like this quote from Don Draper, talking about love, “What’s the difference between a husband knocking on a door and a sailor getting off a ship? About ten thousand volts.” Los Angeles is the antinomy of Paris. And yet, loving Paris, it comes so naturally to fall in love with LA. They have this kind of relationship of extreme desire, telling each other “don´t change a thing.”

KS: Is there a new project you’re working on you’d like to tell us about?

AV: A couple of projects are upcoming, a collective show at the 104 in Paris this September. And I’ll be back in California for a duo-show with Gina Osterloh, a great photographer that I met in LA, at Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles in September 2014.

Amanda Boe’s Progress on “Midwest Meets West”

Amanda Boe was recently accepted as one of our inaugural Artists-in-Residence. During her residency, Amanda will be developing and printing new work for her series “Midwest Meets West.”

Here’s Amanda’s current edit for “Midwest Meets West,” including some shots from her most recent trip.

Kim Sikora: How did you create the concept for this series?

Amanda Boe: My brother’s relationship to the landscape was the inspiration for this series. I was intrigued by how his role as a firefighter had given him a sense of purpose through protecting the local forests and wild lands in the Black Hills. I spent some time with him there in 2009 and the pictures I made during that trip became the foundation for this project.

KS: Can you tell us about your overall goals for this project?

AB: I’m currently developing this body of work and I plan to make a few more trips back to South Dakota over the coming months. Ultimately, I’m working towards making a book.

KS: You were recently on a shoot during the wildfires in the Black Hills region. Were you looking for anything in particular during your shoots?

AB: I make a shot list before my trips with ideas and locations in mind, but that’s just a starting point. I wanted to take more portraits for sure, and I really wanted to photograph a wildland fire that my brother was working on. It didn’t happen on this trip, due to unfortunate circumstances and timing, but I’m trying to make it work for a future trip.

KS: What was your biggest challenge?

AB: Trying to get access to a wildland fire was definitely the biggest challenge. I took some wildland fire tests through FEMA before this last trip, and I had been in touch with people from the forest service and state wildland fire department about media access, which did not come through. Tragically, four people died working on the White Draw fire (near Edgemont, SD), which my brother was also working on, and I could not get access. The Black Hills region had several wildland fires this summer and that particular fire was the only one that occurred while I was there.

KS: From your statement, “Midwest Meets West” is closely tied with your memory of this region. I’ve noticed some of your other series that deal with memory as well. When did you first begin exploring this subject matter?

AB: In 2008, I started photographing in my home state of South Dakota and I was thinking a lot about my connection to home and memory. Around that time, I read Dakota by Kathleen Norris, which captures the spirit and character of South Dakota. Her book inspired me to explore the landscape and revisit places from my past. My grandma would share old family photos and relics with me as well, and I became more interested in our family history. I started going back there more often to take pictures of the landscape, my home, neighborhoods, and family. I finally felt inspired by a place that I couldn’t wait to escape years earlier, and now I absolutely love going back there.

KS: How has your imagery changed in the past few years?

AB: I think my imagery remains personal, but perhaps is more psychological in nature these days. My influences have evolved but I’m still very much inspired by film, music, and of course, photography.

KS: Given the obstacles that most of us face as artists, it can be a struggle to make the time and space to create new work. How do you balance your personal and professional time?

AB: I have two jobs, so making time for my own projects means a lot of late nights and spending my day off working on scanning, printing, and editing. I’m still trying to figure out that balance with my personal time.

KS: Can you tell us what to expect in the next few weeks of your residency?

AB: I’m working on a batch of prints during my residency so I can start editing my new work. I’m also going to make exhibition and portfolio prints.

Be sure to stop by the lab and meet Amanda during her Monday work sessions.

Her work is also on view at SF Camerawork in Transient States, through August 25.