Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Conversation with Isa Leshko

Embden Goose, Age 28, I from the series Elderly Animals © Isa Leshko

Isa Leshko is an accomplished photographer, whose two projects attracted me with her sense of whimsy at first glance but with a dark undertone.

Finn Sheep, Age 12 from the series Elderly Animals © Isa Leshko

NP: Tell us a little about yourself.

IL: I was born in 1971 in Rahway, NJ, which coincidentally is the town where George Tice made a number of his images. I was sick a lot as a child since I was born with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which I outgrew in my late teens. I was a nerdy and lonely kid, and spent most of my free time reading and playing Atari. I lived inside my head and did not spend much time outdoors. I think part of photography’s appeal to me is that it gives me license to explore the world in ways I never did as a child.

I grew up in Carteret, a working class NJ town known for its bars, churches and nearby oil refineries. I was raised in a conservative Italian American household and I longed to get as far away from NJ as possible when I became an adult. I attended Haverford College, a liberal Quaker school in Pennsylvania, which was the furthest distance from NJ that my parents would entertain for my college education. What Haverford lacked in distance from NJ it made up for culturally. Over the course of my first semester, I underwent a radical leftward shift which has lasted through my adulthood. I returned to Carteret after my first year in college with a shaved head wearing combat boots and a leather jacket studded with noxious political buttons. The look certainly had its desired impact on my parents…

Moonie, Age 32 from the series Elderly Animals © Isa Leshko

I studied neuroscience and cognitive psychology in college and toyed with the idea of attending graduate school in one of those areas. I worked for two years as a research assistant for a neuropsychologist before I took a tech support job for Delphi Internet Services. After a few years, the company imploded and I spent the next 7 years working for various Internet startups before falling hard for photography. In my 20s, I also wrote for a few feminist and lesbigay publications and was Books Editor for the now defunct Sojourner Magazine. I couldn’t financially support myself with my writing, though, and my day job got increasingly demanding and interesting. I began working 12-15 hour days, so there wasn’t much room in my life for anything other than work.

I’ve spent most of my adulthood living in various New England towns including Providence, RI, Portsmouth, NH and Salem, MA. In October 2009, I moved to Houston, TX with my life partner of 18 years, Matt, and our three cats, Niccolo, Katarina, and Alfred. We’re all still adjusting to this major change, though I’m excited by the strong photography community that exists in Texas and the Gulf Coast region.

Pumpkin, Age 28 from the series Elderly Animals © Isa Leshko

NP: How did you discover photography?

IL: I spent my 20s as a workaholic and found myself well and truly burned out by my early 30s. Looking for a hobby, I took an introductory photography class taught by Ri Anderson at the DeCordova Museum School. Ri spent a portion of each class showing us work by photographers like Mary Ellen Mark, Eugene Richards, Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman, Sally Mann and Richard Avedon, Ralph Meatyard. Had that class simply been about f-stops and shutter speeds, I might never have become a photographer.

After that first class, I spent most of my free time at the Boston Photo Cooperative, which was a community darkroom that also offered classes. The place was over an hour from my house, yet it quickly became my home away from home. I found the darkroom very alluring after years spent behind a keyboard.

After about a year, it became very clear to me that I had found my life’s passion. I left the computer industry and was lucky to land a customer support job at Zona in Cambridge, MA, which was a photo lab geared toward professional and fine art photographers. It was the perfect job to meet local photographers and talk with them about their work. My coworkers were very passionate about photography and I learned a great deal from them. Zona’s owners generously offered free film processing and darkroom access to their employees, which I amply used. I’d work my shift and then spend my evenings printing. It broke my heart when Zona closed. I still miss that place.

I then took evening workshops at the New England School of Photography and assisted Boston-area editorial and commercial photographers. Eventually I took a job as Marketing Director of Panopticon Gallery of Photography. While working there, I learned about the business of fine art photography, particularly from the gallery’s perspective.

Rooster, Age Unknown from the series Elderly Animals © Isa Leshko

NP: Where do you find inspiration?

IL: Frequently it’s not obvious what compels me to photograph something. I try to follow my instincts and not question them especially when I am shooting a subject for the first time.

There have been times in the darkroom in which I’ve broken down in tears while printing an image for the first time and honestly did not understand why. The answers don’t emerge sometimes until after I’ve spent a few days with the work print hanging on my wall.

I do tend to explore my emotions (especially my fears) through my camera. For example, I grapple with separation anxiety, and found myself drawn toward photographing abandoned spaces during my first few years as a photographer. My childhood was not exactly a happy one, and there is a dark undercurrent that runs through my Thrills and Chills images. I am terrified of aging because grandmother died of dementia and my mother has Alzheimer’s disease. Confronting this fear is one of my primary motivations in pursuing my elderly animal project.

The creative high I receive when I am working and know I’ve taken good picture is also a very powerful motivator. It’s incredibly addictive.

Finally, I draw inspiration from fellow artists and regularly look at work at shows and online. One of my favorite pastimes is to go to a bookstore, and browse through art books and magazines.

Dangling Legs from the series Thrills and Chills © Isa Leshko

Coaster At Dusk, Hershey Park, PA from the series Thrills and Chills © Isa Leshko

NP: How do your projects come about?

IL: I’m still somewhat new to a project-based approach to working. My early years as a photographer were spent largely undirected. I would go for drives and photograph whatever caught my eye. I had a few regular haunts, such as Salisbury Beach in MA, where I did street photography. However, even back then, I kept a list of things I wanted to photograph. I still maintain this list, though it now consists mainly of project ideas. That said, I think it’s important for me to take time to just wander around with a camera, and see where it leads.

My elderly animal project came as a result of a chance encounter with a blind 34-year old horse named Petey that was living at a relative’s farm. I was completely mesmerized by this animal and spent the remaining dwindling light photographing him.

Girl on Tilt-a-Whirl, Coney Island, NY from the series Thrills and Chills © Isa Leshko

Six months prior to meeting Petey, I had spent several months in NJ helping transition my mother to a nursing home. Her Alzheimer’s disease had progressed very rapidly and it was clear she was no longer safe living at home. When my mother got ill, I made a conscious decision to not photograph her. I greatly respect work like Richard Avedon’s images of his dying father or Phillip Toledano’s “Days with my Father” project or Keith Carter’s tea-toned images of his mother. But, I didn’t have a close relationship with my mother prior to her illness. I don’t feel like I have a right to photograph her when she is vulnerable and can not provide consent. My experience of caring for my mother had a profound impact on me though and I knew I would eventually explore my emotions from this time photographically.

The Claw, Topsfield Fair, MA from the series Thrills and Chills © Isa Leshko

After my encounter with Petey, I was compelled to photograph other elderly animals. I began this project by visiting farm sanctuaries mainly out of curiosity. Because of the nature of their existence, farm animals typically do not live out their natural life spans. I was intrigued to observe and photograph working animals that actually had reached a geriatric age. But, I plan on photographing a wide range of species for this project. I also want to photograph animals that are vibrant and seem to defy their age. I don’t want to focus only on animals that look old or sickly.

Waiting from the series Thrills and Chills © Isa Leshko

Point Pleasant, NJ #1 from the series Thrills and Chills © Isa Leshko

NP: What’s next?

IL: I plan on devoting the next few months on my elderly animal project. I received a lot of encouragement for this work at PhotoNOLA earlier this month. I’d like to have several new images in this series before my reviews at Fotofest in March.

This project was also recently awarded an Honorable Mention in the Houston Center for Photography 2010 Fellowship Competition that was juried by Brian Clamp of Clamp Art. Later in 2010 images from the series will be exhibited on the HCP web site.

My first solo show of my Thrills and Chills project will be held at the Griffin Gallery in the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA from April 8th through May 9th in 2010. I will be giving an artist lecture on Sunday, April 11.

My work will also be on display at the John Cleary Gallery booth at the upcoming AIPAD Photography Show in New York, March 18-21st. The gallery currently has several of my prints in its inventory, so if you’re in the Houston area, stop by to check them out. Boston area folks can view and purchase my work through the Boston Drawing Project at the Carroll and Sons Gallery.

Thank you Isa. Nymphoto wishes everyone a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

If you happen to be in Pittsburgh

If you happen to be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as I recently was, catch the Icons of Photography exhibit at the Frick Art Museum. It is a wonderful show filled with emblematic images that everyone can appreciate. Complementing the exhibition, there is also a selection of photographs by Esther Bubley (1921–1998) entitled Children's Hospital 1951, on loan from the Children’s Hospital Foundation. In 1951, Bubley, was hired by the Pittsburgh Photographic Library to live at the hospital and take photographs of the doctors at work over a period of several weeks.

Through January 3, 2010

Whitney Biennial: Nina Berman

from "Homeland" and from "Under Taliban" ©Nina Berman

The Whitney Museum recently announced the artist features in the 2010 Whitney Biennial and we were excited to find out that Nina Berman is one of the artists.

Please re-visit our conversation with Nina Berman by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Picture(s) of the Week: Liz Kuball

Sounding off 2009 with an extended edition of Picture of the Week© Liz Kuball

The end of year and Winter has arrived in New York, and it makes us dream of California.
Liz Kuball's excellent series California Vernacular is just what we needed: beautiful light, sun-bleached landscapes, exuberant greens and succulents! We can practically smell the mild air while looking at Liz' vignettes of Southern California life.

You can see the whole series at To re-visit our conversation with Liz, please click here.
If you want to bring a piece of California home you can buy prints from California Vernacular at 20x200.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Catch MOMA's New Photography 2009 before Jan. 11

from MOMA:

New Photography 2009 is a thematic presentation of significant recent work in photography that examines and expands the conventional definitions of the medium. Although the six artists in this installation—Walead Beshty, Daniel Gordon, Leslie Hewitt, Carter Mull, Sterling Ruby, and Sara VanDerBeek—represent diverse points of view, working methods, and pictorial modes ranging from abstract to representational, their images all begin in the studio or the darkroom and result from processes involving collection, assembly, and manipulation. Many of the works are made with everyday materials and objects, as well as images from the Internet, magazines, newspapers, and books. Some of the artists also work in other mediums and their pictures relate to disciplines such as drawing, sculpture, and installation. As traditional photographic techniques are being quickly replaced by digital technologies, the artists included here examine the process and structure of making photographs.

Through January 11, 2010 at MOMA

Cara Phillips: Intern Wanted

(via Ground Glass)

Job Description:

Work remotely

You must have access to your own Mac work station

Good organizational skills


Photoshop skills for fine-art; including dusting, masks, alpha channels, color correction for RGB and Grayscale, and digital output

Large format experience

Scanning skills, imacon or epson flatbed

Interest in learning and photography a must!

Production, printing, scanning, assisting, (large format & lighting)

Good writing and people skills, and understanding of professional standards

I am looking for a long-term intern for 3 upcoming projects. The first requires a great deal of organization skill and can be done on your own time, the second is production help for several upcoming shows, and the third requires research and contacting companies on my behalf for an upcoming project. I worked for many years as an intern so I am very understanding about the value of your time, however, I need someone who can commit 1 – 6 hours per week off site to work for the next two months. After that the schedule will be more varied. There is a chance if you are so inclined to also be involved in some of my other curatorial and photo projects. Please mention in the email if you interested in writing or WIPNYC. The internship is currently un-paid, however, I am happy to share my time and energy to help you on your artistic path in any way I able to do so.

Please send you resume, references and a short cover letter to

Thank you!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

If You Are in Gustavia, St. Barths

Women First:
Amy Arbus
Virginia Beahan
Julie Blackmon
Mary Ellen Mark
Jean Pagliusp
Roxanne Lowit

Clic Gallery
Rue de la Republique
Gustavia - St. Barthelemy

Call for Entries from INDECISIVE MOMENT

from Indecisive Moment:

INDECISIVE MOMENT invites you to submit your work to our next show, Windows and Mirrors.

Windows and Mirrors is a group exhibition that will consist of installations incorporating one video and one photograph from each participating artist in the windows of the 25CPW gallery. The exhibition seeks to illuminate the symbiotic relationship that these media have for many artists who choose to work with both.

The exhibition will be January 25th - February 7th, 2010


Please submit your work by January 6th, 2010

We are looking for artists who work in both photography and video to submit work.One video and one photograph by each artist will be exhibited, but please feel free to submit as many pieces as you would like. Video pieces will be shown without sound, on a DVD player hooked up to a TV monitor. We ask that all artists be prepared to supply their own DVD players and TV monitors, though we will be able to help find extra equipment if necessary. Instead of a an opening party, we will instead host an event during the exhibition in which all artists included will have their work screened, images projected, and will have a chance to introduce themselves and their work, with a reception to follow.

please email all entries to:

please include:

-your full name and contact info

-short statement about work submitted, connection between your photography and video

-photography: email in jpeg format, less than 1MB

-video: e-mail links if your work is available online or you may also use yousendit or any other file transfer program (available online for free).

-optional artist statement and CV

Windows and Mirrors is a continuation of a series of events organized byINDECISIVE MOMENT which was founded by artists Hyla Skopitz and Teresa Christiansen with the intention of bringing video art to the public eye, in perhaps unconventional means, on their own terms. Indecisive Moment began as the title of the first screening Indecisive Moment: Photographers Using Video, in August 2009 at Hendershot Gallery in New York City. Though film screenings are common, the format is an unusual way to present video art. The artists chosen to participate are all photographers working with video. The event was a means to initiate the conversation about why many contemporary photographers see so much potential in video and where to locate this work within the context and history of film, photography, performance, and the conceptual art of the sixties and seventies.

about 25CPW gallery: Located at 25 Central Park West in Manhattan, 25CPW is an artist run alternative space which provides the opportunity for artists, curators, writers, and educators to engage with each other while simultaneously reaching out to neighborhood residents and the general public. Housed in a donated vacant storefront, 25CPW is a unique space for experimentation, exploration and conversation.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Go-Go Gadget: Gorillacam!

courtesy of Joby

I'm surprised an app like this hasn't been created before this (has it?). Joby has debuted yet another useful photo gadget - this time for free! The Gorillacam app for iPhone actually has several useful functions:

#1 - a timer, with settings from 3-90 seconds, so you can scramble into that photo you're about to take.

#2 - time lapse from 3-200 shots between one second and two minutes each.

#3 - a "press anywhere" function, eliminating the need to search for that tiny button when trying to capture that priceless moment.

#4 - a bubble level for straight-shooting

... and a bunch more helpful things like 3-shot burst, easy uploading functions and unlimited rapid-fire.

Now all I have to do is upgrade my ancient 1st gen iPhone to use it... it requires the iPhone 3.1 update.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays from Nymphoto

We love Mr. T! Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Winter Convo Redux

We thought it would be nice to re-visit conversations with artists that photograph in colder climates. There is something magical about snow.

Erika Larsen, the recipient of the first WIPNYC grant, who exploresthe symbiosis of hunting and nature. Re-visit our conversation with Erika Larsen conversation by clicking here.

After The Wolves, from the series 'The Hunt', © Erika Larsen

Lisa M. Robinson photographs our world in context with nature. In her photograph the snow works like a frame, drawing the viewers attention to the center and the simple marvels observed. Re-visit our conversation with Lisa M. Robinson by clicking here.

Wish ©Lisa M. Robinson

Camilla Seaman captures the overwhelming beauty and power of our natural world. She has said that she approaches photographing icebergs like photographing an elder. There is no separation, everything is connected. Re-visitour conversation with Camilla Seaman by clicking here.

from the series The Last Iceberg © Camille Seaman

Tema Stauffer is a storyteller. Her winter landscapes are quiet and peaceful and one can feel the crisp and cleansing winter air in her photographs. Tema recently curated a selection of photographs for Culturehall titled: Winter. You can find it by clicking here, and you can re-visit our conversation with Tema Stauffer by clicking here.

Front Yard, 2003 ©Tema Stauffer

Céline Clanet has been photographing the Sami in the Arctic Circle. She has a keen eye for details and atmosphere. Her imagery captures the magical realism of Sampi. You can re-visit our conversation with Céline Clanet by clicking here.

Looking for the Lost Reindeer, 2005 - from "Máze" series, © Céline Clanet

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ellen von Unwerth @ Staley-Wise

Ellen von Unwerth
Staley-Wise Gallery
560 Broadway
New York
-through January 30, 2010

Read more about this exhibit at

You can see the entire content of the limited edition Taschen book accompanying this exhibit and also titled Fräulein at:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Studio Visit with Keliy Anderson-Staley

I visited Keliy Anderson-Staley's Studio a couple of weeks back, after her Conversation ran. I more or less invited myself over because I was so curious about her set-up. In college, I took some non-silver classes but never learned any of the wet plate processes. Keliy generously opened up her studio and invited me over for a collodion tintypes shoot.

Tintypes on the drying rack @ Keliy Anderson-Staley's studio

Camera and lenses @ Keliy Anderson-Staley's studio

Workspace @ Keliy Anderson-Staley's studio

The Dark Room @ Keliy Anderson-Staley's studio

Plate developing @ Keliy Anderson-Staley's studio

Keliy pouring collodion back into the bottle @ Keliy Anderson-Staley's studio

Tintype collodion sitting in bath of water @ Keliy Anderson-Staley's studio

Tintypes of me! @ Keliy Anderson-Staley's studio

Keliy under her bright UV lights @ Keliy Anderson-Staley's studio

Thank you Keliy for welcoming us in!

If you are interested in participating in a sitting, contact Keliy at For more information on Keliy and her work visit

You can revisit her Conversation with us right here.

And if you happen to have a studio that you would like to open up for a Nymphoto Studio Visit, please drop me a line-

Monday, December 21, 2009

Upcoming: Céline Clanet @ Blue Sky Gallery

The Wedding, 2009 - from "Máze" series, © Céline Clanet

Céline Clanet
Blue Sky Gallery
122 NW 8th Avenue
Portland, Oregon

Show opens January 7, 2010.

Re-visit our conversation with Celine by clicking here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Go-Go Gadget: Japanese Fun

For those of you who don't know (because I didn't), Bokeh is a photographic term describes the out-of-focus or blurring of an image in as a direct result of the lens on the camera. Sometimes it's used to reduce background prominence allowing more focus on the main subject.

That's the educational portion of this post... and now for the fun portion. How cool is this Bokeh Master's Kit? It attaches to your lense with a rubber band and comes in fun animal, heart, star, icon and other shapes. There's even a kit for making your own designs. It reminds me a little of those Japanese photo booths where you could get your pic snapped with a million hello-kitties or rainbows and unicorns in the background. Super-fun!


Friday, December 18, 2009

Culturehall: Winter

Head over to Culturehall to see the latest curated of selection of art - this time selected and introduced by artist and curator Tema Stauffer:
Tema selected imagery reflecting the psychology of the season and chose works by Mark Burnette, Jessica M. Kaufman, Mickey Kerr and Jeff Otto O'Brien.

You can re-visit our conversations with Tema by clicking here and our conversation with Jessica by clicking here.

Tomorrow: Sasha Bezzubov and Jessica Sucher Artist Talk

courtesy Daniel Cooney Fine Artt © Sasha Bezzubov and Jessica Sucher

Sasha Bezzubov and Jessica Sucher
The Searchers
Daniel Cooney Fine Art
511 West 25th Street, #506
New York, NY 10001
-through December 23, 2009
Artist's Talk Saturday, December 19: 4 pm

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Conversation with Camille Seaman

click on the images to see larger © Camille Seaman

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen concludes tomorrow. Fittingly today's conversation is with artist Camille Seaman who has been photographing icebergs in the Arctic and Antarctica. Her series Last Iceberg is in fact part of an even larger project entitled Melting Away, which documents all of the polar region.
Camille Seaman has a connection with nature that so many of us lack and she produces stunning imagery that is awe inspiring and hopefully will make us reconsider our actions.

click on the images to see larger © Camille Seaman

NP: Tell us a little about yourself.

CS: I am a fearless person, I see each day as a gift and look for the beauty in as much as I can. I am not a cynical person and I love to laugh. I was raised in the knowing that all things are interconnected and that this false idea that we as humans are separate from nature is what I seek to challenge with my images.
less interesting but true... I am 40 years old, my mother is African-American and Italian and my father is a Shinnecock Indian from Long Island, NY. I went to the "Fame" High School, and SUNY Purchase for University.

click on the images to see larger © Camille Seaman

NP: How did you discover photography?

CS: I was born with a camera in my hand! ;-)
No really I always had a camera in my hand as a child...However it was not until I was 32 yrs. old that I realized that I wanted to be a professional photographer.

click on the images to see larger © Camille Seaman

NP: Where do you find inspiration?

CS: In everything! Its everywhere! books, movies, paintings, children, nature... my mind.

click on the images to see larger © Camille Seaman

NP: How do your projects come about?

CS: Totally by chance. A door opens and I always am excited to see where it goes. No successful project I have was planned by me... it just organically developed.

click on the images to see larger © Camille Seaman

NP: What’s next?

CS: I would be lying if I said I knew... I am open to whatever comes.

NP: Thank you so much!

To see more of Camille's work please visit