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ODE TO ARTA

Arta in ParadisePhoto by Hanna H.

I have been remiss on my interviews. I hope you’ll understand when I tell you why.

Some of you may know, I am a huge animal lover, especially dogs. Back in April, my little Arta became ill. So much of my attention went to her. Then she passed away quite suddenly in May. It’s always sudden no matter how much you know about the inevitable. It was just devastating. At the same time, other life changing things were happening in my life. I know Arta sensed all this and decided that it was best to leave sooner than later. It was her final gift to us. The result was, I lost the passion and motivation to do anything – like the interviews for this blog. I think it’s because when you lose your love, well, somehow all the other things don’t matter anymore. I at least, wallowed in my loss of Arta. The misery became the replacement for her. As if clinging to the last spiritual remnants of her. Trying to turn it back into some tangible form, like the feeling of having her.

Now it’s over 2 months since she passed. I think I have finally accepted that she is no longer with us, however much I hate it. That’s why I want to take a moment here to give an Ode to my baby girl. It’s a way not to forget her. Isn’t that what the internet is for?  And with this tribute, I feel a melancholic cloud slowly lifting. It will never go away entirely, but I can manage it. I feel the passion coming back. And the interviews will come in the next weeks.

I want to give my heartfelt thanks to those who gave me words of kindness and sympathy whether they knew me or not. Believe it or not, I took great solace in them.

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ODE TO ARTA

Our Dearest Dearest Beloved Arta,
We already miss you so terribly. You’ve brought so much love, joy passion, loyalty and friendship to our lives. You’ve enriched our sense of living and those whom you’ve met.
Your passing make our hearts ache. But when we remember the wonderfully blessed life we had together with you, it brings tears of joy.
Know that you’ll always be in our hearts ♥.
May your spirit soar free in your new journey. We can only hope that our paths will cross in the future so we can once again be in each other’s embrace.
Be well our baby fairy. Til we meet again.
Love forever,
E, O, & L

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ARTA H.  On a rather mundane evening in November 1996, a boy came into a bar where O, his then wife, Katerina and his friend Mathias were having a drink after a day’s film shoot, in the town of Arta on the island of Majorca. The boy had a basket of puppies he wanted to find homes for. O and Katerina fell immediately in love with the runt of the litter but asked the boy for his telephone. They needed to sleep on such a big decision.

After a sleepless night, O and Katerina called the number and woke up the family of the boy at 6:00 o’clock in the morning. They dragged Mathias out of bed and together they went to pick up the little runt. That day they flew back to Munich with the tiny ball of fur in O’s coat pocket.

Upon arriving at the airport, serendipity had it that O’s production company was shooting a film next to customs. O pretended that he was part of the production and easily evaded customs and animal control.

He rushed the little puppy to the veterinarian. When he asked if there was a name, O gave her ‘Arta’ as homage to the town she was from. The vet diagnosed the poor thing as more worm than dog. He predicted that Arta would not live more than a week. Arta stayed a week at the vet. .

O and Katerina brought Arta home. Together, they tirelessly nursed her back to health. In the process, they got to know Arta and realized they rescued a Fairy and not a puppy.

Arta

I’,m here!

Arta grew up in Munich, Germany. She was O’s confidant and companion. She hung out in bars and restaurants and never left O’s side. She became the infamous production dog. When she was on a film set, everyone knew the producer (O) was not far behind. The sound man would affix a piece of gummi ball between her tags to make her “sound proof” as she was allowed to wonder all over the set.

In 2001, E came into O and Arta’s life. She brought her very ill dog Lulu all the way from Los Angeles to Munich. Arta kept her own but at the same time was accepting of Lulu. When Lulu died 4 months later, Arta’s shear warmth and love helped E bear an incredibly difficult grieving period.

Soon Arta won the heart of E who gave her regular trims and baths. The once wild and messy dachshund, yorkshire, schnauzer mix became the manicured sassy dog, befitting of the gay neighborhood she lived in.

In 2004, together with O and E, Arta moved to Los Angeles and started to live the life of an Angeleno. She also became a  Frequent Traveller and the darling of stewards and stewardesses.

Arta and Ludwig

Happiness is Togetherness

In 2007, for fear that Arta was getting old and lonely, Ludwig came into her life to keep her spirit and health young. The new arrival was difficult to accept. A sprained leg, and bouts of depression pervaded for 6 months. A princess simply doesn’t share the stage with anyone, let alone a dog from South Central with a German name. But Ludwig’s charm eventually won her over and they soon became inseparable.

In 2008 Arta travelled and worked as a producer together with Ludwig on a film set in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. There she experienced -50 degrees Fahrenheit, wore snow boots, shared the director’s room, and fell in love with Canadians.

In April 2009, Arta suddenly lost her left eye to Glaucoma, a genetical disease. Although she lost her 3D sense, it didn’t stop her. She resumed playing and had a wonderful life.

In 2010 Arta experienced the RV life. She and the family travelled in a motor home for holidays. She swam in the Colorado River, skinny dipped in Sedona creeks, saw the majestic Grand Canyon. And those were just a few of the many places she tread her paws on.

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In April 2011 Arta became deathly ill. There was a growth at the base of her aesophagus. Friends from far and wide came by to say their good-byes. As a swan song, the family took her to Carmel, her most beloved beach.

Arta stepped out of the car and took one whiff of the ocean air, and like a powerful potion, as if Popeye ate spinach, Arta bounced back and started chasing dogs 2 and 3 times her size.

But by Thanksgiving in 2011, Arta lost complete sight in her remaining right eye. She became totally blind. The family took her to Munich for one last trip to her puppyhood home. It was bitter sweet as she could only smell and hear the sounds of Munich. By the end of the year, she couldn’t hear anymore except for very faint sounds. And her dementia became worse and worse.

Life was extremely frustrating for Arta after that. She bumped into everything. And around two weeks before she died, she lost so much mental capacity and found herself stuck in corners of furniture and cracks, unable to pull herself out. Someone had to walk behind her constantly to pull her out of situations. She became more needy emotionally and stuck close to the family. O said it felt like she was crying for help…

Arta and hat

Arta travelled every where in Europe, USA and Canada. Lived the life of a fairy. She was a Citizen dog of the world.

Just as the midnight hour turned to May 8, 2013, while walking with O before bed time, Arta coughed and collapsed, passing away on Blue Heights Drive right outside her house, overlooking the night lights of the city in West Hollywood, California, USA.

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We…The world lost one of nature’s most precious treasure…

arta snoozing

ZZZZZZZZ

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Just posing.

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Where are my grapes?

Waiting for the Handout

“Welcome home Arta and Ludwig. The usual Prosciuto di Parma?” – Stammtisch at Bistro Bruno, Munich

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Waiting for the walk.

Luddy & Arta

I have to admit, I was pretty jealous when Ludwig came into our lives. I got sick, I sprained my paw… I was miserable for 6 months. But then I fell in love with him.

Producers on Set-2

It’s a tough job but someone has to do it. – Photo by David Giesbrecht

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Ludwig visited me, two days after I nearly died. I had my own oxygen room.

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At the doctor’s office for a check-up.

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Ha! You had everyone say goodbye to me thinking I was a goner. Well, you thought wrong! Thanks to the love of family, friends and positive ions at Carmel By-The-Sea.

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What are you waiting for?

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The stream looks harmless, but in reality it’s a 12 feet deep gorge filled with ice cold water. I know it first hand. Right after this picture was taken, I slipped on the slimy surface and dropped in the water like a rock. I nearly drowned in this spiritual place of Sedona, Arizona.

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I love the smell of wet sand.

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I’m the mighty goalie!

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Yippee-kayay! Life’s a beach!

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I love SNOW!

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Munich’s Viktualienmarkt is one of my favorite places.

Voulez vous

Voulez vous coucher avec moi?

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You caught us.

Home sweet home

Home Sweet Home

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Enjoying each other’s company.

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Can someone help me?

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Hasta la vista, baby… I’ll be waiting for you on the other side.

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Arta lies peacefully in her favorite garden at her Grandparents’ house in Orange County, USA…

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If Tears Could…

If tears could build a stairway, and memories were a lane,
We would walk right up to heaven 
to bring you home again.
No farewell words were spoken.
No time to say good-bye.
You were gone before we knew it, 
and only the Universe knows why.
Our hearts still ache in sadness
 and secret tears still flow.
What it meant to lose you, 
No one will ever know.
Anonymous

You’ll always be in our hearts dear Arta.

R.I.P. September 1996 – May 8, 2013

Leica Store Los Angeles Grand Opening

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I had the honor to attend the grand opening of the new Super-Sized LEICA store located at 8783 Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood last Friday night. It’s the only one of it’s kind in the world, for now.

If you want to make an international destination and push a global brand, you have to think big. Leica made sure they did just that and spared no expense. They opened with a big splash – and apropo to this town, Hollywood style. All the managing directors around the world and key players in their company flew in to help get the new store and the party up and running. Of course, Leica’s very own celebrity entourage was on hand to help bring attention to their new space.

You knew the party was super-sized when you drove up, and 30-40 valets stood in line ready to take your car. Then a throng of greeters tapping iPads to “log you in” descended upon you, not to mention the countless security personnel. But the best part was, Eberhard Kuehne, Leica’s West coast regional manager who invited me (Thanks Ebbi!), was standing to give me a big hug. I couldn’t wish a warmer welcome. How I wanted O to be with me but when you’re married, one has to work and, well…O was in Budapest….So I had to endure the event all by my lonesome…sort of.

L1022300Ebehard Kuehne (center)

There were no name tags, or rubber stamping on the back of the hand here. No- I had to wear the ubiquitous chic black rubber wristband with the Leica dot. Then I had to run down the red carpet and be confronted by a battery of press photographers and papparrazzi. But, as a kind greeter told me, if I’m not comfortable, I could walk behind the cameras. Ahem, is that a subtle hint that I’m not a celebrity? Okay, my street shooting buddy, Rinzi Ruiz, did recognized me at the time. He was working as a second press photographer for Chris Weeks who was shooting for G-Star Raw, the co-host of the event. I turned to the kindly greeter, nodded and walked down the red carpet anyway – you know, to feel the love. I did notice from the corner of my eye, photographers were changing SD cards, chimping through their screens to see if their last shot looked good, comparing notes and cameras, anything but snapping a picture of me. Then I realized, I had survived the red carpet horror. 🙂

The building is great. The new General Manager of the Leica store, James Agnew, told me it was a last minute convergence of all the elements of the universe. Leica had been looking and looking for a place to call home but found nothing that fit their criteria. A leaser of the space dropped out and Leica nabbed it right away – just a few months before they opened. It was meant to be.

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They did a nice job of converting a furniture store into something very special. Thanks to Roland Wolff, Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Steffen Keil and Kathy Goldman, it has its own brand identity in the well known design center of West Hollywood near Robertson Boulevard. Taking cues from the images its cameras make, the black part of the facade frame the activities inside like a big picture frame. The modern, clean and sleek store reassures you that design and aesthetics are mantras and a way of life for Leica. Nearly 8,000 sqft/900 sqm of open space. There is a VIP lounge in the back. But frankly, being in an, albeit cushy room without windows, may sound cool and exclusive, but you’ll miss out on everything. If you want the Leica experience, the real view is looking through the store and out to the front of the street. There is an outdoor lounge upstairs that also overlooks the street and entrance, making it a very L.A. kind of place. And it goes without saying, they have an espresso machine. Hanging out has never been made more enjoyable. They even have their own valet parking lot in an area where parking doesn’t come cheap. So there’s no excuse not to check it out .

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One of the first people I met was Dr. Andreas Kaufmann. Like a good host, he was out by the front door greeting guests. You could see he was proud of the realization of one of his long time dream.

L1022310Dr. Andreas Kaufmann

When you walk into the store you immediately come upon Liao Yibai’s giant FAKE LEICA sculpture. It’s a a fun piece of glossy objet d’art and appropriately named. It reminds me of Claes Oldenberg’s classic giant sized replicas of every day objects such as binoculars, rubber stamp, bowling pins. But this one is made of stainless steel and is imbued with lots of detail from the Leica MP #253. I love the story behind Liao’s inspiration for the name. He grew up in a military factory in China. The cameraman in the factory used a ‘fake Leica’ to record the factory’s missile tests – the successful ones. As a child, he was allowed to press the shutter and was fascinated with cameras ever since. He can’t remember which Chinese make of camera it was- could have been the Seagull or Hua Ying, but he remembered the reference to Leica. China also made the Shanghai, another ‘fake Leica’. This is like Russia’s Fed, Zorki. Japan’s Cannon III, Minolta 35, Nicca, Yashica YE, Tanaka IIC. England’s Periflex and America’s Kardon. All Leica copies of their time. But the Chinese don’t mince words. It’s called a fake Leica because even then, the camera was exclusive and legendary and those who couldn’t afford it, bought the look-alikes. As you can see here, the Leica camera in any form, is still sexy and seductive.

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Beyond the sculpture is the main floor split into two by the glass staircase. On the left is a library of books curated by Martin Parr. What a treat. Lots of interesting and unusual photography books. Finally, books that are worth discovering. They also sell accessories and gifts like specially designed Leica T-shirts. On the right side are glass cabinets filled with Leica cameras and Leica optics. It’s like opening one treasure chest after another.

L1022352 Seal standing with hard core Leica fan

The party drew all kinds of people from the movie, fashion, music and photography world. In front of the camera like actors, and singers and rockers.

L1022320Nikki Sixx (Mötley Crüe) with a photographer

Behind the camera like journalists, photographers, cinematographers and supplier/vendors of cameras, movie cameras and equipment. There were gallery owners, collectors and photography enthusiasts.

L1022342Award winning photographers Nick Ut and Mary Ellen Mark (behind is her exhibit)

Photography was at the heart of this opening with the whole upper floor dedicated to the display of images. The opening exhibit featured amazing and prolific images from Mary Ellen Mark, graceful ones by Yariv Milchan, and even Seal’s capture of an intimate moment. You have to see the images up front and personal. They are truly inspirational.

In Hollywood fashion, loud music pounded while beautiful people adorned modern furniture next to the suits.

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I had the chance to feel the 50mm Summicron-C cine lens. Wow, what a hefty piece of glass. It’s the same elements as the regular Summicron but the gears to support flawless and silent follow focus is more demanding than the ones still photography requires. It’s incredibly smooth. Also the housing needs to withstand the weather elements in a more robust way. I can’t wait to be able to spend some time with it and the Summilux-C lenses. I was talking to Leica’s CW Sonderoptic’s Managing Director, Gerhard Baier and he’s extremely proud of the work they accomplished with the entire prime lens series of both the Summilux C and the Summicron C. They had one mounted on an M240 and another on Arri’s Alexa (movie camera) and both were sweet.

L1022312-EditLeica M240 with 50mm 2.0 Summicron-C

I also met several Leica store managers whom I talked about the pros and cons of Leica cameras. What I especially noticed is that they still have very strong opinions about Leica products good and bad which give them the independence I feel help Leica in a positive way. What I mean is, they aren’t just ‘yes’ people. Thank goodness.

Then came the Leica X Vario, which David Farkas (Red Dot Forum), let me play with. Some of you may know, I poo poo-ed the X Vario when it first came out as it wasn’t meeting my expectation of a mini camera with an M- mount. But when I laid my hands on it, my opinion started to change. Contrary to textbook opinion of slow aperture equals difficult to use in low light, the camera surprised me on how it captured details in just such a situation. And in a cinematic way, when the zoom lens follows focus, the bokeh transitions soft and smooth, unlike many zoom lenses where the transition is clunkier. I have yet to render my full judgement until I really review it, but my mind is open for more surprises.

L1022382Leica X Vario with Leica M240 in background

As I mentioned, G-Star Raw co-sponsored the opening. They worked together with Leica to create the Leica D Lux 6- Edition G-Star Raw. It has a cool rough and tumble look about it. I like the muted grey tones mixed with the dark brown leather case. It also has a military feel to it.

gstar leicaLeica D Lux 6 – Edition G-Star Raw

Tom Smith and Justin Stailey of Leica Akademie USA told me the idea behind the opening of this store is to create a ‘center’ for Leica and photography. Of course they will sell, but they want a cultural center. A place where local and international photographers can come together and share their work with others. They want to emphasize the final product of the print. Leica Akademie will play a bigger role in our Leica future. They don’t just want to educate us on how their camera works but on the whole process of photography and resulting ideas. So there will be lectures, workshops, as well plain and simple hangouts for amateurs to learn from professionals. It’s what Leica should be about. A true corporate sponsoring of the arts. I love it. The camera will sell if the images inspire. I only wish they did this sooner.

L1022380David Farkas (Red Dot Forum and Leica Miami) & Chris Moore (Leica marketing)

I also had the chance to meet one of my Twitter followers, Chris Moore. He’s a Leica marketing specialist focusing on social media and all things media from analogue books to anything digital. His first advice to me was to get my photography business card straightened out. I was walking around with my day job business card, writing on the back my Leica Liker info. Was I a doofus or what?

The neat thing about the opening party is the mixture of all kinds of people. It’s like going to the candy store and meeting Willy Wonka and his entire crew and all their customers from different walks of life.

L1022387Street photographers Chris Weeks, Rinzi Ruiz, Frank Jackson

People had fun at the party.

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What’s a grand opening without a ribbon cutting?

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Out came the giant scissors.

L1022354Leica Brass (L to R): Steffen Keil, Alfred Schopf, Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Roger Horn

Annie Seaton, the Gallery director told me the next day that nobody wanted to leave the party. They had to kick people out. The ‘stammplatz’ (the usual hangout place) is already happening. 😉

Leica has come a long way in a relatively short period. When you think about it, they were about to go bankrupt in 2006 because they didn’t know how to survive in the digital age. Stubborn people within Leica didn’t want to change back then. They could have gone down the same path as Kodak: A distant memory of the past and no one would have new Leica products to play with today. Now, they’re building factories, opening stores and generally implementing a grander, albeit, glitzier vision of Leica. Some die hard Leica fans think it’s too much about bling and not about the good old fashioned Leica camera. But in today’s social media and brand-centric society, they are simply cultivating the same reputation they had before World War II: exclusive, high quality and expensive. They’re just now using what was once more word of mouth as a direct marketing tool to build their brand on. If they need celebrities to help market their products, then they should get all the help they can. Look- they are not just surviving, they are leading and forging their own future, thank you very much. We’ll always gripe about whether one Leica camera or lens is better or not than another. But I for one am glad Leica is doing what they are doing so we can have something to talk about and most importantly, cameras that inspire our creative selves.

I want to thank Tom Smith for introducing me to everyone.

I wish the new Leica Store LA and Leica Gallery all the best of luck.

Here are all their links.

http://leicagalleryla.com
http://leicastorela.com
https://www.facebook.com/LeicaGalleryLA?fref=ts
https://www.facebook.com/LeicaStoreLA?fref=ts

L1022368-2The L-word

#17 PAVEL KOSENKO, Moscow (Russia) Street Photographer

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Leica Liker is honored to have Pavel Kosenko, a Moscow (Russia) Street Photographer as our #17 guest.

I first discovered Pavel Kosenko through his Russian website  http://www.pavel-kosenko.livejournal.com. No, I can’t read Russian but Pavel is a blogger and photo discoverer himself. I came upon his post from another post of “4 x 5” Kodachrome slides of the American war effort during World War 2. They are stunning examples of color and subject matter by industrial and military photographers. You can check it out here. It was from there that I found Pavel.

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What drew me to Pavel’s work is his sense of color. When you look at his images, you can just eat the colors. They are exquisitely rich and velvety or harsh and poppy. It’s as if he took them with Kodachrome, except it’s digital.

Pavel talks about the harmony between colors. He is devoted to the study of color. Not just with color wheels but how master painters, who have command of color, are able to combine colors to compliment each other.

Many of us start by contrast of forms, objects, composition, shadows and irony within the frame of story telling. Pavel on the other hand starts with color and in a way, emotions. Not emotions like happy or sad, but a kind of internal stirring. If you study many of his photographs, they are simple observations. Yet some of them have a subtle yet powerful complexity to them because of the variety and depth of colors. His colors define details that would have been overlooked had the image been too contrasty or over exposed. So you are pulled into the image wanting to explore every corner.  That’s not to say that sometimes Pavel also loves to make colors pop in high contrast shots. But when he is able to capture the digital version of that ‘Kodachrome’ magic, I can’t stop poring over every pixel of his photographs.

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Here is my interview with PAVEL KOSENKO:

Nick Name: No, I just have my real name – Pavel Kosenko.
Currently living in: Moscow, Russia
Motto: “You can only be happy here and now.”

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Street Photographer since: 2011
Profession/Job: Photographer
Websites: http://www.pavelkosenko.com
Organizations or Group: None

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What do you do as a photographer professionally? Technically photography does not pay my bills. I do many things to pay the bills as a photographer. For instance, I organize photography tours in a variety of countries like Turkey, Vietnam, etc.. I also teach master classes in color for photographers. I have written a book, titled THE LIVING DIGIT, which is presently only published in Russian. I want to translate it into English to get a larger audience.

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I also do color consulting for print. I have a small photography school in Moscow. I have a popular blog with 15,000 readers and 50,000 views posts per day. I have people who pay advertising on my blog. Camera companies give me cameras to use to write reviews about. I also have projects that are photography related. I have a friend in advertising who thinks my sense of color could be utilized in film. As you can see, I do a lot of things.

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Favorite Street Camera & Lens: Canon EOS 1D X with Canon 35 mm f/1.4 lens, Canon 50 mm f/1.2 lens
Back-up Street Camera & Lens: Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon 18 mm f/2.0 lens
What and when was your first camera? Zorki Russian camera. I don’t remember the number.
Favorite photography gadget: iPhone 5

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Favorite street food: Italian
Do you listen to music while shooting? Sometimes, but not often.
Favorite music when shooting and/or editing Photos: Royksopp, Delinquent Habits, Moloko, Cypress Hill, Depeche Mode, Die Antwoord, Pink Floyd, Royksopp, Django Reinhardt, Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show 🙂 etc.
Favorite photo software: RPP (Raw Photo Processor)

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3 Favorite Master Photographers: Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Alex Webb, David Alan Harvey
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: The same
Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? Unfortunately, I don’t have any.
Color or Black and White? Color

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(Square images = Instagram)

Shoot Film or Digital? Basically digital because film does not have the abilities that digital has to offer. With digital, I have more possibilities to push the limits of color as well as provide the best quality. But sometimes I play with film because is has an inherent aesthetic component which digital does not have. Film allows me to improve my visual experience and I try to apply what I learn in my digital work.

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If Film, what type of negative? Last time I used film it was Kodak Ektar.
Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? Any time. But lately I like to shoot without sun light (in the evening and with candlelight in rooms).

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How do you define street photography? Exactly like Henri Cartier-Bresson defines it.
How did you get into photography? Actually my life was originally not destined for photography. I was born in the small Russian town of Protvino in the Moscow region. It has around 37,000 people. Protvino is a town of scientists. The main business is the research institute. It’s a tradition for young people in this area to go to the Moscow Physics Institute to become a scientist. The parents force their children to follow their footsteps. I left because I studied in Moscow at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute where I was for 1-1/2 years. But after attending the institute, I realized I needed to be creative. I went to music school for 5 years instead. After that I realized music was not my thing.

When I was 6 years old my father gave me a camera. I was shooting everything from family to friends, but primarily for myself only. While I was in music school I figured out photography was my where my passion and interest lied.

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What is it about the medium photography that attracts you? What are you trying to express in photography?  For me it’s like drugs. I need it. I wake up and grab my camera. Or I switch on the computer and search for photographic images. I need to improve my visual experience all the time.  Even when I was studying physics and music, I was taking photographs. Sometimes I leave my camera at home and then I have to have it a few days later.

Why did you choose Street Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting? I did not choose only Street Photography. It was my interest for the last 2 years, but I like art photography too. I try to mix it up.

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What motivates you to photograph the streets? My interest in ordinary people and their lives.
Is Street Photography an obsession? I think yes.
Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or a group? Both

Are you an invisible photographer or visible? Visible. I like to communicate with people. I believe that photographer cannot be invisible. You can’t shoot outside and think you have no effect on it. Each photographer sees his own particular way. We all get different photographic results, even if we all shoot the same place and in the same direction.
Favorite street photography city: Istanbul

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What inspires your photography? Art, especially by Russian painters. I was a jazz musician in my past life. Although, I haven’t played the guitar for 6 years, the idea of art as an expression of me is extremely important. I love music. Sometimes I shoot while listening to music in my headphones. It is important what I listen to because the combination of the music and what I shoot is the process of my artistic expression.

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Here are some painters I look to for inspiration: Konstantin Korovin (http://pavelkosenko.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/constantin-korovin/), Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Victor Borisov-Musatov, Nicholas Roerich, Arkhip Kuindzhi, Alexandr Rabin, Wassily Kandinsky, Alexandr Zavarin, Caravaggio, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, etc.

Is there a philosophy, concept or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? I think it is better to quote Gueorgui Pinkhassov:  “Shoot the bad pictures, you might get a good one.”

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What is your style? I don’t think I have a style. Often photographers don’t see what they see. It takes others to see what the photographer saw. My reaction to my fotos is often much too critical, sometimes dismissing good shots. I need to have a curator.

In general, I look for color and “chiaroscuro”. I am interested in light and dark colors. For showing light we need dark. I experiment in colors, dark, light. I always think about dark and light in my color compositions.

Pavel man house

How has it changed over time? I think like everyone, I took travel photos first. After that I realized that they were good but they were like postcards. You know, National Geographic-type. It’s the first level of photography that everyone reaches. I realized I had to go to next level. I then went to one town and stayed a long time whereas before, I stayed 1 day in each town like a mindless tourist. I extended it to 3-4 days to a week. At first, I responded to anything exotic. For instance, if you come to Moscow, your first day would be spent at the obligatory Red Square. It’s not a deep level of understanding of our city. It’s only after spending a year can you have a chance to see life that’s not at a touristic level. I consider myself now  at 2nd level. I’ve been to Vietnam 9 times now. At first 2 weeks, then 2 months at a go. In the beginning, it was ‘pop’ like Britney Spears. Now it’s more impressionistic because I am getting the feel of the real Vietnam. SO I would say my style has moved from travel photography, to street photography and it’s moving towards art photography. I am more interested in impression and not information. I call it art.

Pavel donut

What do you look for in a good photograph by others? What makes a color photograph look good? I don’t look for anything specific in other photos 🙂 I rely only on feelings. I am drawn to pictures with vivid colors, but I like b/w pictures too. With colors, I like harmony and rich variation (not many difirent colors, but many variation with lightness and saturation). And I don’t like supersaturation. In b/w I like geometry, texture and rich variation of shades of gray. Composition for me does not matter, because it is pseudo-science. The important thing is feelings and emotions.

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How does color play a role in photography? Funny you should ask. My book THE LIVING DIGIT is exactly about that. When modern photographers look for colors they go to post production books to study histograms. This is the wrong way. The main idea in the book is to question the colors you find in museums. I mean, you need to study color through painters and history of art. Study the visual experience. After you have enough visual experience, your eyes can actually see what colors are in harmony and what not. And what works with each other. Then you can use digital tools to help you. It is about the aesthetics of color. In my book I start off with psychology of perception. I write about saturation and perception of colors – blue works better in dark regions while yellow is better in light situations. For example, I show how people normally see and perceive, from art to post production. Then I show the ‘art’ of perception followed by raw files and how it works. I use language of the modern digital photographer to explain a complex language in simple photo language. I talk about this in my master class.

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How do you go about shooting a street photograph? Sometimes I like to sit at a café and watch for around 1-3 hours. I see. I look. If I find an interesting background, I wait for some people to walk into my frame. But some times, I like to talk to people. For instance, last time I went out to shoot, I walked on the street and immediately spoke with people; to connect with them and to learn about their lives. While we were talking I noticed they had relaxed. That’s when I took a relaxed portrait of them. Not passport photos. Of course it’s very important for me to form interesting geometric frame. So while I’m talking to them, I am constantly looking for an interesting viewpoint. I am more interested in the art of the shot and  not the classic street frames. So my shots tend not to be classic street captures. Sometimes it’s just the color. I like to take impressionistic images. For instance, Vietnam before bedtime.  That’s the direction I am more interested in.

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Can you describe the entire process of photographing these photos, from preparation to when you pressed the shutter button?  I took this picture in Colombo. It was the last day of my two-week trip to Sri Lanka. By this time I thought every shot I made were all “masterpieces”. I just walked around the city with a camera in hand, and assumed the images would somehow make interesting photo-stories. As always, I am interested in texture and color. So when I walked past the garbage, I took about ten shots, not counting on any one to make a good photograph. But when I worked the Raw-files, I saw a good picture. It was  interesting, not only in color, but the scene itself (crows and cats).

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In this photo (below), what is interesting is not so much the picture but the story behind this woman. Her name  is Kulipa. She lives in the village of Jeti-Oguz on Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan. She is 80 years old and raised 11 children in the one-room apartment with total area of about 30 square meters. Now  her kids have grown up and gone to different cities and countries, but sometimes they come to visit their mother. They come with their wives, husbands and children, so in this tiny apartment sometimes there are 20-35 people. In this case, sleeping on the floor, one next to each other. It sleeps 10 people, therefore 10 or more are awake. They all take turns sleeping.

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I managed to get into the Kulipa’s house, because I was working on a project in Kyrgyzstan at the time. The project was linked to the search for information about Soviet astronauts who trained at the local air force base. Kulipa worked at the base as a cook from 1960 to 1970.

I was visiting Kulipa for many hours. We looked over all of her family photo albums. She told me a lot about her life. We drank tea. After 2 hours she was used to me and stopped paying attention to my camera. That’s when I snapped the picture.

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How do you choose your shots when you edit? What tells you that the shot is good? This is the most complicated process. On the selection of photos I spend 100 times more time than processing them. I try to focus only on my gut feeling.

Best 3 tips for shooting the streets: Stay in the moment. Use mostly wide angle lenses. Treat people well.

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Best single advice on how to improve your work: Visit the museum and look at paintings.
Best single advice on how to edit your work. Excuse yourself from work and go shoot some photographs.
Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: Study the classic street photographs.

Pavel family

What’s the best moment in your street photography career? I do not have a career in street photographer. I shoot for pleasure.
What’s the worst moment in your street photography career? See the answer to the previous question.
What projects are you working on? Now I’m interested in a whole series rather than single shots. It’s the direction I am taking.

Pavel kid
Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? I am not sure that in 5 years I would do exactly street photography 🙂

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Are there exhibitions planned in the future? I am not ready for a serious personal exhibition. However, I have been repeatedly invited to participate   in group exhibits. As soon as I’m ready to show a body of work, I’ll do it.

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Leica Liker thanks Pavel for sharing his experience and inspirational advice with us. We look forward to checking in with him in the future.

You can check out Pavel’s book here.

You can check out Pavel’s gear in “Liker Bags’n Gear” here.

This is Pavel’s self portrait.

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