Acclaimed photographer Amy Arbus visited the New York Film Academy’s Battery Park campus to speak to Photography school students. Arbus’ work has been featured in many periodicals such as Rolling Stone, Village Voice, and New York Magazine, and is featured in many collections including The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Morgan Library, and the New York Public Library. Amy’s family has been renowned for their photography — she is the daughter of legendary photographer Diane Arbus, and is also the sister of famed Doon Arbus.
Amy Arbus at NYFA
Her 80s street style column for Village Voice On the Street is considered one of her seminal works. “Photographers‘ first stuff is what sticks,” Arbus told NYFA students. She captured celebrities on the streets of New York City, including a young Madonna just before the release of her debut album. Her column also included British punk rockers, The Clash, in their prime.
Of her project, Ladies of the Night, Arbus said, “I broke every rule that I was ever taught.” These photos were taken in secret, from afar, without comprising
the subjects’ anonymity. Throughout the lecture, Arbus repeatedly referenced the romanticism of those photographs. Her influences also include Film Noir and Modernist Art.
During a master class with Richard Avedon in 1992, Arbus resolved some of her emotions surrounding her mother’s death (Diane Arbus died by suicide in her bath when Amy was 17). Her TubsPictures is a series of nude self-portraits taken in a bathtub and were featured by Avedon in his article on Amy Arbus in Aperture’s Photographers on Photographers issue 151.
One specific piece of Avedon’s advice that still motivates her to this day was a fitting message to the students in attendance: “You’ve got to contribute something to the medium… you have to do something unique.”
Arbus is in the midst of her new series Outsiders, seen below, via her Instagram.
Next week, Photo District News (PDN) will present PDN‘s 30 2018: Strategies for Launching and Building a Career, featuring their new and emerging photographers to watch. The New York Film Academy (NYFA) is proud to be hosting the event, which will take place on September 27th. PDN has been one of the top resources for professional photographers for over two decades. Every year since 1999, PDN‘s editors have chosen 30 emerging photographers who represent a variety of styles and genres and have demonstrated a distinctive creativity, vision, and versatility.
Photo by Kyle Durosz
During this informative discussion, photographers selected for PDN’s 30: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch will share the most valuable lessons they learned as they launched their careers. They will discuss their strategies for gaining exposure, honing their styles, getting help on business issues, and meeting the challenges of starting a photography career in today’s competitive market.
Photo by Hannah Reyes Morales
Free and open to the public, this panel will be moderated by Holly Stuart Hughes, editor of Photo District News, and will feature PDN’s 30 photographers Brad Ogbonna and An Rong Xu, a Sony Artisan of Imagery and New York magazine photo editor Marvin Orellana.
Pusha T by Brad Ogbonna
The event is sponsored by Sony and Canson Infinity. The Sony Artisan of Imagery is Michael Rubenstein. Running creative will be Marvin Orellana, Photo Editor, New York magazine. The free seminar will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. and will be followed by a reception from 8-9 p.m. You can view work of the participants of this year’s event on PDN‘s website and profiles on each of the 2018 PDN’s 30 photographers are featured in PDN’s April 2018 issue.
Photoville, the popular photo festival at Brooklyn Bridge Park, is returning for its seventh consecutive year. The event will take place between September 13-16 & 20-23 and will again include an exhibition of art taken by 16 different New York Film Academy Photography students and alumni. This year’s container exhibit will be made up of art from FAYN, NYFA’s biannual photography magazine.
FAYN is a collaborative photography magazine produced by the New York Film Academy Photography Department. The magazine features students, faculty, and alumni whose work explores contemporary concepts in art and culture.
From Ziomara Ramirez’s “The Last Time”
The alumni and student work conveys a wide range of emotions and aesthetics from love and beauty to the traumatic and political. It also serves as an example of the variety of ways NYFA students effectively convey their photographic expression — from high fashion to landscapes, or bright and vivid to dreary and nocturnal.
Curators of the Photoville exhibit are NYFA Photography Chair David Mager and Instructor Joan Pamboukes. Faculty Advisors and Editors of FAYN magazine are Amanda Rowan, Kean O’Brien, and Naomi White. All of the photographers featured in the exhibition are included below.
Tanne Willow’s “Matriarch”
Alumni work includes “Coming Out Stories” by Alejandro Ibarra. Of his collection of photos, Ibarra says, “The inspiration for the series came after a friend of mine told me about how he came out to his family. My own experience was very different from his, but I somehow really related to it.” Ibarra is an MFA alumnus from NYFA’s Los Angeles photography school and a current instructor for NYFA LA.
“Feed” by Wen
BFA alum Ziomara Ramirez’s haunting work, entitled “The Last Time,” documents the scenes of homicide victims in Los Angeles. Her photos were taken around the same time of day as the shootings, lending an eerie tone to already unsettling subject matter.
Tanne Willow‘s “Instant Composition” and “Matriarch” are both featured in the exhibit. Transitioning from dancing to photography, the 2-Year Conservatory grad unsurprisingly said, “My preferred way to work is with people in motion. Whether it’s fine arts or commercial photography.”
Opening night for Photoville is on Thursday, September 13th. The festival will take over Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO, Brooklyn. You can find the New York Film Academy in container #15.
The full list of the students, faculty, and alumni exhibited:
Rushank Agrawal Brenda Cantu Nitin Doppalapudi Thomas Locke Hobbs Alejandro Ibarra Mark Joseph
Earlier this August, students from the Shanghai Theatre Academy attended a 1-week Photography workshop at New York Film Academy’s New York City campus. The Shanghai Theatre Academy is a public university in China dedicated to dramatic art education and was founded in 1945. Its predecessor was Shanghai Municipal Experimental Theatre School, cofounded by the famous educator Gu Yuxiu.
The New York Film Academy (NYFA) photography school provides a unique experience not found elsewhere; with a passionate focus on the practical elements of photography, NYFA empowers students to master not only the essential basics taught by other good photography schools, but also the technical and business practices that will set them apart in their professional photography career.
NYFA’s photography school offers several programs and courses, including youth camps in the summer. The young students from Shanghai Theatre Academy visited for one week, and were able to practice hands-on with state-of-the-art-equipment.
After the completion of their course, the Chinese students wrote NYFA a very grateful and heartwarming thank you letter:
“Thank you, New York Film Academy!
This summer, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in the camp organized by the New York Film Academy. The staff members from the Academy provided us with everything we needed to learn about filmmaking: knowledgeable teaching staff, filmmaking equipment, lively teaching environments, new filmmaking concepts, on-site practice, and much more! We have learned so much in so short a time. The skills we have learned and the practice we have observed will help us significantly in many ways moving forward!
We want to say, once again, that we truly appreciate this lifetime experience at New York Film Academy. Who knows? Someone from this camp group may become a filmmaker, all because of this first taste of filmmaking in the US, at the New York Film Academy! Thank you, the New York Film Academy!”
The New York Film Academy congratulates the students from Shanghai Theatre Academy and congratulates them on a job well done!
New York Film Academy (NYFA) Community Outreach and NYFA’s Photography department recently collaborated with Los Angeles Animal Services to help get some of their animals adopted into homes.
LA Animal Services provides care to found or surrendered pets by housing them in one of six city shelters located throughout the city. The organization has a fleet of volunteers that work with the animals on a daily basis to help get them adopted and into caring homes. One of the most useful tools for adoption is good photographs of the pets, so those interested in adopting can see the animals online. LA Animal Services intakes nearly 164,000 animals a year and any help they can get supporting their outreach and adoption possibilities is important.
NYFA’s Photography department brought 16 Photography students to the East Valley Animal Shelter on June 20th and set up several backdrops and lights to capture adorable images of the most underlooked dogs, cats, and bunnies at the shelter. The students had the opportunity to work with the animals and their handlers and produced beautifully lit images.
Amanda Rowan, a member of the NYFA-LA Photography Department faculty, remarked, “As somebody who cares deeply for animals, it was wonderful planning this shoot with my Applied Photography class.” She continued, “It was a great lesson in producing a shoot and working with unpredictable clients (the animals). Learning to light and work under these conditions is a great skill to have.”
NYFA students and everyone involved had a very positive experience working with LA Animal Services. This semester, a new group of NYFA students and alumni have signed up to donate their time to produce short Public Service Announcements (PSAs) about pet adoption and care with LA Animal Services. Mason Richards, Chair of NYFA Community Outreach, stated: “We’re excited to continue the partnership with LA Animal Services with the video PSAs, and also to continue the work of filmmaker and activist Julie ‘JD’ Disalvatore.”
Richards added, “It’s so exciting to see our NYFA student body, faculty, and staff sharing their talents for a greater purpose.”
The New York Film Academy spoke in further detail with three others involved with the LA Animal Services photo shoot. Denise Carlson is a NYFA-LA Producing instructor who is also a pet owner and advocate for animal safety. She connected LA Animal Services with NYFA C.A.R.E.S. — which is part of NYFA Community Outreach. Brenda F. Barnette is the General Manager for LA Animal Services, and Ashley Rodriguez is their Public Relations Specialist:
New York Film Academy (NYFA): What are the primary services that LA Animal Services provides? Why are these services important?
Brenda F. Barnette (BB): We provide shelter to lost animals until we are able to reunite them with their owners and help stray pets find their new homes.We offer free spay/neuter services to low-income LA City residents and discount coupons to any City resident for three dogs, three cats, and three bunnies per household. Additionally, the community can visit their nearest shelter location to adopt, foster, and license and microchip their pet.
Ashley Rodriguez (AR): You can adopt your best friends at our Animal Services Centers. All of our pets are spayed/neutered, microchipped and vaccinated upon adoption. For those whose pets aren’t spayed or neutered yet, we have free or discount spay/neuter vouchers available to help you get your pet fixed. It’s healthier for them and helps reduce unwanted litters. We also have an amazing team of Animal Control Officers that work out in the field and conduct animal rescues if there is ever a cat stuck in a tree, a raccoon stuck on a roof, or a horse who has fallen into a ditch and can’t get out on its own.
NYFA: Denise, how did you get involved with LA Animal Services?
Denise Carlson (DC): I have been involved in animal rescue for many years, networking animals who need homes, raising money, and doing what I can to help. I usually foster a litter of kittens every year, and two of my dogs are actually fosters. The shelters generally do a great job, but they can’t do it alone — there is so much need, and when you look at the faces of the animals there who don’t have homes it is heartbreaking. The staff and volunteers at LA Animal Services are amazing, and they really appreciate whatever you can do. It is just a very worthwhile organization and NYFA can be proud to work with them. This is a way to really make a difference in the community.
NYFA: Why do you think its important to volunteer?
DC: In general, there are nothing but positives about volunteering.When you volunteer you are not just giving a gift to the organization, you are also giving a gift to yourself — it is so satisfying to know you have done something worthwhile! We in the creative community can use our talents in ways that others may not be able to in order to help. Taking photos of shelter pets can help them get noticed and adopted more quickly; making videos about life at the shelter, adoption, how to bring new pets into your home, etc., can make all the difference. You are literally saving lives by helping, and there is nothing better than that!
NYFA: What are some misconceptions that people may have about pet adoption? Why is it important to make people aware of the issues affecting animals?
BB: A common misconception is that all shelter animals are broken — and that’s far from the truth. At our LA Animal Services Centers, we have a variety of pets in all sizes, ages, and breeds, just waiting for us to find them a new home of their own. There are life circumstances that may put a pet owner in a position where they must re-home their animal because they have no other option. That pet was raised by a kind person, lived with a family, and knows to trust people. It’s then our job to transition that pet into a new home. Another common misconception is that animal shelter staff view their duties as only a job and do not care for animals. Our staff are extremely dedicated to the animals in our care and the people that we serve. They care compassionately, advocate actively, and work tirelessly to insure the best possible environment for all animals.
AR: A common misconception I see often is that people can’t believe that they can find a purebred or non-shedding dog at a shelter. We want to encourage all people to visit their local animal shelter before going to the pet store or looking for a breeder. We have amazing cats, dogs, bunnies, and we also have turtles, birds, snakes, guinea pigs, hamsters, roosters, and more available for adoption now! Adopting from a shelter gives the pet you take home a second chance at living a great life and provides space at the shelter for an incoming pet.
NYFA: What can you say about Julie “JD” Disalvatore’s contribution to LA Animal Services? Why is it important to continue her tradition since her passing?
DC: I met JD through a friend who knew we were both interested in animal rescue. I was completely blown away by her. JD was a very talented filmmaker, and when I met her she was battling terminal cancer. She did not focus on herself, though, instead she devoted her remaining time on earth to helping save animals. She was at the shelters all the time taking pictures of animals who needed homes, she worked on videos for the shelter, and was always an outspoken advocate for them. She would go from chemo sessions to the shelter to help, she did not let anything stop her. JD was a force of nature, and she made a tremendous difference.When she died it was incredibly sad, but also a real loss for the shelter pets, and I realized that her legacy had to be continued somehow, so I thought it would be a perfect match for NYFA students to be able to do something so valuable and also keep JD’s spirit alive.
NYFA: How do you feel about the partnership between NYFA-Los Angeles Community Outreach and LA Animal Services? What are some of the benefits for the students as well as your organization?
BB: We are very excited to be partnering with NYFA-Los Angeles Community Outreach. This is a win-win for the animals, the department, and the students. This partnership helps us artistically communicate our mission to the community while providing the students lessons and opportunities to practice their art.
AR: We love it! It really is great to be able to partner with the NYFA-Los Angeles Community Outreach team of professors and students to highlight all the great work our staff and volunteers do every day for animals in LA. The students get the chance to work with animals, learn about our services, and help us share very important messages about animal care and welfare at the same time.
The New York Film Academy looks forward to working with LA Animal Services every semester, using our photography skills and resources to get animals into homes! If you’re interested in adopting or fostering a pet from LA Animal Services, you can find more information here.
Renowned for her pioneering work in morphing technologies, legendary visual artist and New York Film Academy (NYFA) faculty member Nancy Burson has just shown how powerfully the arts can intersect with world affairs with her image on the cover of Time magazine: an arresting portrait that combines the faces of U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Burson’s work was also recently singled out by Time magazine in its list of 100 Photographs: The Most Influential Images of All Time. Together with MIT scientists, she patented the morphing technology that the FBI drew upon in the ‘80s to track missing children. She has been featured on Oprah, Good Morning America, CNN, National Public Radio, PBS, and Fuji TV News, as well as countless local TV segments in the USA, Canada, and Europe; and discussed in The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Houston Chronicle, and Scientific American Magazine, to name a few. There are four monographs of her work and reproductions of it appear in hundreds of art catalogs and textbooks on the history of photography, published in all languages. Burson’s fine art photography is available through ClampArt Gallery in NYC. Her website can be viewed here.
Ms. Burson took time out of her busy schedule to sit down with the NYFA Blog and share her thoughts on the meaning of visual art, why she’s still learning, and what it’s like to see her TIME magazine cover image joining a vital international conversation about democracy, freedom, and the future.
NYFA: Tell us, what does photography and visual art mean to you?
NB: The best way of answering is just to say that I think art is destiny-driven, and then there’s the added element of determination that seems to be behind it. That’s what visual art means to me. There’s no choice; you just do it. You do it because it’s your destiny to do it, and you’re driven to do it through determination.
NYFA: What inspired your morphing technology projects, and your recurring theme of composite images?
NB: When I first came to New York, I had this idea to create a machine that would age you by computer. That was driven by a show that I saw at MOMA. It was the first time I had walked into MOMA, and there was a show called The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age. I went there not knowing what to expect, but what I found was a very participatory show in which people that I began to know later on had pieces that were not only three-dimensional, but moving images, video images, and things that were more or less participatory in nature. I thought it was a lot of fun to participate in the art, and it was after that, shortly after that, that I conceived this idea of the aging machine where viewers could see themselves older.
I took the idea to EAT (Experiments in Art and Technology), Robert Rauschenberg’s organization that was pairing artists and scientists together. So I went to them and said, “I have this idea to age people with a computer.”
Androgyny (6 Men + 6 Women) 1982
They paired me with someone who did very early computer graphics — it was pen and styles and a pad — and I was like, this is just drawing! And he said, yes, you have to wait for the technology to catch up.
I kept in touch with him and eventually he told me to call Nicholas Negroponte, the head of MIT’s now Media Lab, and he thought it was a great idea. They had something called a digitizer (now called a scanner), and it was one of the first times that a computer could interact with a live version of a face.
So I was kind of in the right place at the right time. I had the idea in ’68, and I went to work with MIT in ’76. I’m not that patient, but I was doing other things and kept connecting back to this person, and along the way got to know a lot of other people developing programs that were similar. One friend of mine became the Oscar winner for the morphing technology to make images move. Originally I had the patent on the still images, and he had the technical Oscar.
NYFA: What inspired your latest project, the image of Trump and Putin on the cover of Time magazine?
NB: I’ve been politically active over the years, and I felt I needed to say something.
This last couple of years has not been an exception, and since Trump was elected I have done what I could on Instagram. That’s pretty much what I think an artist can do, unless it was about showing work that had to do with Trump. A few years ago before he was even elected or running, I did a piece called What if He Were showing Trump as 5 different races. I showed it as art in LA. It was a commission by a very prominent magazine that never ran it — they decided at the last minute it was too controversial, so I went elsewhere and finally placed it with Huffington Post.
Then the last couple of years, I did a very early version of Trump and Putin, because the Russia thing has been going on for awhile. Time magazine photography director Paul Moakley is familiar with my work, it was three years ago they put me into their 100 Photographs: The Most Influential Images of All Time. Since then I’ve been sending him creepy images of Trump, one with Kim Jong-un, and one with the three together, and there’s been this dialogue back and forth, and he mentioned last year he was considering them for the cover. I was like, oh, I didn’t know that! I didn’t find out until the last minute this was going to the cover, and I didn’t know if they would run it because it’s so controversial.
So in the end I had a couple hours to finish it and send it in. It was really fast. I had to run down to do the video interview. It was really truly a wacky day, one of the wackiest ever.
What was really meaningful was to be able to have this input in this dialogue that’s ongoing about this investigation, and I think that week was a turning point.
NYFA: What is it like to see your image having such an impact, especially with the wildfire spread of the internet?
NB: Yeah, I mean, amazing. I’m very grateful.
NYFA: What did it feel like to see your artistic techniques used to help the public through searches for missing children?
NB: What happened with missing kids was really amazing. The first case we did was the Etan Patz case for the FBI, and at that point we had done some other images of kids that had been not parental abductions but stranger abductions, and usually those kids don’t turn up. We had done a number of those, and it’s so hard to do. Then Cosgrove/Meurer Productions in LA — these are the people who became the producers/directors of Unsolved Mysteries — did a couple of hour-long TV specials about missing children.
They pulled some of the parents of parental abductions in here and we did updates of the kids. The parents were pulled in to see the update on the screen, and then these images were aired on TV, kids were found literally within a half an hour of the show’s airing.
So we began to find kids — this was around the mid ’80s — and we found at least several in that one year.
I remember this one kid getting on the phone with me because the father had gotten him back from the mother after that show was aired. This was a kid who had just been an image, and then I was talking to him — and his picture looked really very similar to the update we had done. It was a Frankenstein moment. I really was. Just wow.
At that point in the mid-80s the FBI purchased a copy of our software and then they started finding missing adults as well, which is a kind of a different process.
Etan Patz Update (Age 6 to Age 13), 1984
NYFA: What’s the most rewarding thing about teaching photography? What would be your one piece of advice for students interested in the visual arts?
NB: Probably the most rewarding thing about teaching is that it gives back, in a way, to the photography community. I think that when you teach you also get something back from the fact that you’re always learning. There’s always something to learn from students. I think teachers understand that it’s a give-and-take.
I find student are always wanting to find out what’s out there, what’s new, wants happening. I keep up with the community, not only for my sake, but for their sake. Sometimes there are important things to learn and it’s important to know the state of the art of the tech.
What I say to my students is that if you really want to be a visual artist, or in the case of NYFA, if you really want to be filmmaker, if you really feel this is what your role should be and it feels like destiny to you, then it will become what you do in a certain way that overrides a lot of other stuff. So if your priority is your art, you’re not going spend a lot of time messing around with doing things that you shouldn’t be doing — you have to stay focused.
I think the people that really understand that their destiny is artmaking in a certain way are more solidly based and determined. The kids who I know are going to make it are the kids who are hanging out at NYFA and shooting their projects at night and shooting on the weekends, and they’re just making it — every day they’re making it.
That’s the basis of a career that’s going to be ongoing. That’s going to be a sure thing; you have to have the determination and you have to be unwilling to give up. You have to see that as you goal.
NYFA: Which of your projects have surprised or shaped you the most?
NB: Certainly missing kids was one.
The human race machine, when that came out in 2000, came out as a collaboration with Zaha Hadid at the Millennium Dome in London. I thought it was very cool that people were standing in line for a couple of hours to see what they would look like as a different race. Now it’s not something that I would want to bring out in the world. Now I see that as more about separation than togetherness. But at the time it was an interesting way for people to raise awareness that elicited an empathetic response. My whole concept for right now is called TogetherAllOne, which addresses what astronauts see in space; they see the bigger picture, they see the blue marble. They understand that we are TogetherAllOne.
So there’s the missing kids, the human race machine, and the craniofacial kids. I spent seven years photographing deformity and I got to know kids with progeria, the aging disease as well as adults
Recently it’s really nice, as I’ve heard from some people form those years who saw the new Time cover. One of them in Europe reached out. I had photographed her son, and now she’s developed an organization since them to keep the progeria kids’ families together. I think it’s really great. And I remember her son. It’s been powerful hearing from people whose kids I photographed when they were young. There was even one incident that I heard about where one of the craniofacial kids used the machine with his family to see what he would look like with more of a “normal” face, so that was also a really powerful moment.
During those years I also spent time with adults with prosthetics on their faces from cancer. These are people who had survived cancer and had pretty big holes in their heads if you took their prosthetic device out. I knew the head surgeon at Kettering, and he introduced me to his clients and I photographed them. It was great. It was a real educational experience for people to see these people, and I would have shows of these images and the subjects would come. It was in its own way very experiential.
NYFA: How gratifying is it to see a process you created and revolutionized decades ago still have such an impact on photography, media, and culture?
NB: It’s interesting, I was thinking that the technology was too rudimentary and not specific enough to address politics in a way that would have an impact. But here it is. That was great.
I’m very thankful to Time magazine, who allowed this cover to be. It was a chance and they knew it, and they took it. They had just done something controversial a few weeks before, with Trump looking down at the little kid who is crying, and that had two million hits. The Trump/Putin cover is there, and has I think a two million hits at this point. That was a big cover for them and it was controversial, and they chose to do it again.
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Nancy Burson for so generously giving her time and her story to our student community. Ms. Burson has a show currently in Brescia, Italy, with a solo show upcoming at Art Basel Miami in December. Read our headline piece on Nancy here. Watch Nancy’s interview with TIME below:
The New York Film Academy (NYFA)’s New York City campus recently hosted nearly 50 veterans, active-duty military personnel, and dependents for an evening master class in the application and principles of light in digital photography.
Chair of the NYFA Photography Program David Mager facilitated the three-hour workshop.
Professor Mager’s lecture Principles of Light served as a great introduction to the laws and active principles behind the lighting of any scene. Attendees learned to approach a shoot with a pre-visualized idea of what story they want the light to tell.
Both the lecture and hands-on exercises guided attendees to see what different types of light look like, and how to think about lighting as an essential tool in image creation. See more photos from the day here.
NYFA’s Chair of the Veterans Advancement Program, The Honorable Colonel Jack Jacobs, treated the participants to welcome remarks.
NYFA provided this photography workshop at no charge to the veteran participants as part of the institution’s support of service members residing in the communities where NYFA has U.S. campuses: Los Angeles, New York City, and South Beach (Miami). In the past two years, NYFA’s Division of Veteran Services has provided more than a dozen such free masterclasses in various filmmaking related disciplines including Acting, Screenwriting, Filmmaking, and Acting for Film.
When you’re starting your own photography business, few things are as exciting as those first few high profile gigs. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography alumni and teaching assistants Stephany Viera Fernandez and Neil Camposuelo recently celebrated this landmark, during a promotional shoot with Swedish singer and songwriter Jasmine Kara.
To celebrate and share their success, Stephany and Neil have offered the NYFA blog a sneak peek behind the scenes.
NYFA: First, can you tell us a bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?
Steph & Neil: Coming from two different parts of the world where photography is not as broad, unlike here in New York, one of the main reasons was to be able to keep growing and to build confidence — not just as a photographer, but also as a complete artist. We attended NYFA in different school years, but we both felt this school is the best avenue to do so.
We wanted to be surrounded with talented and motivated people who shared the same passion as us. Along with the great faculty and other amazing students, being with them daily and continually creating work opened a whole new domain of ideas and philosophies on how we view the industry that is ahead of us.
NYFA: Why photography? What inspires you about this medium?
Steph & Neil: What is really astounding about photography is how you can be able to create your own world, but also at the same time you can capture the world right in front of you.
There are so many ways you can maximize the use of this medium. Also, the power of one frame and the longevity of preserving that one frame can influence not just the present but also years to come. It is like a relationship also; it builds up gradually, and requires understanding between you and the medium to obtain the peak of mastery.
NYFA: How did you two connect as collaborators?
Neil: After I finished my stint as a student here in NYFA, I applied to work as a TA last year, which eventually made Steph my colleague. That was when I got to know more about Steph and her work. I saw we had the same passion and motivation to succeed, and that was when I proposed the idea to her to work as a photographer duo.
Steph & Neil: We knew it would be a good idea because we both have different cultural backgrounds and expertise; the dynamic between us is very good. Working with two brains and bodies can get more work done, and we are able to experiment with contrasting ideas and putting everything together cohesively. We both have trust, and along the way we help each other grow as we fill in our individual differences, strengths, and weaknesses.
NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying (and/or working as a TA) with us?
Steph: For me, it was when I met all the teachers here in NYFA. I was really in awe of the load of talent and knowledge that they all have. It gives me the drive every day to potentially reach the same level.
As for working as a TA, it is like being a student all over again. I continuously go along with the classes and I also experience in real time how fast photography changes in terms of style and techniques. That helps me to always have a different outlook and an open mind whenever I approach our own work.
Neil: Just like what Steph said, my favorite moment here in NYFA is also the opportunity to meet all the teachers, to have a conversation with them and basically to learn from them every day. It is really a blessing to have such a group of people this great, because it helps me to stay humble, work harder, and keep track of my vision — our vision as a photographer duo.
It is also great to work as a TA here at school because it gives you a sense of responsibility. I consider it a noble profession to be a part of student development, in terms of their career and life, to be able to help them, as well as guide them to be great on what they want to pursue.
NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your recent shoot with Jasmine Kara? How did this collaboration come about, and any inspiration or details you can share?
Steph & Neil: We will be doing a cover for her upcoming single that will be released into three different languages (English, Spanish, Persian) this August. We cannot really tell yet the full detail of the single, but it is about how we can carry on in life with all the negativity and problems through laughter.
The concept we are planning to do is a mix of humor and inspirations from Greek sculptures, work from photographers like Roger Ballen and Chris Buck, and relating it to the music video of Jasmine Kara’s single. Our main idea is having our own take of humor in a contemporary art approach, as we are trying to blend in the mood of the song but still remaining grounded in the style of our work as a photographer duo.
NYFA: When photographing a star like Kara, how do you prepare?
Steph & Neil: This kind of opportunity do not come every day. So, when we knew we would have the chance to do a shoot with her, we started doing our pre-production plan.
We had at least one-and-a-half weeks and to prepare, and even though it was a short period of time, this is one of the advantages of working as a photographer duo; we’re able to accomplish more and finish on time.
Plus, [we did] a lot of research also. It is important to get to know the subject, her personality, and her background history as a singer. We had a couple of meetings with her, talking about the ideas for the shoot and making sure everything was according to plan.
NYFA: What is your must-have piece of photography equipment, or your must-do ritual when preparing for a shoot?
Steph & Neil: We never forget to have a scrim-jim on our equipment list every time we shoot. It is a very versatile diffusion, and helps soften and tone the light. This is like the signature look we have on most of our work.
And for a must-do ritual, we love to eat before and even after a shoot! We always double-check everything also from the pre-production and the equipment we are using to avoid mishaps.
NYFA: What’s your advice to students interested in photographing on the pop and music scene?
Steph & Neil: For us, it’s not just about photographing on the pop and music scene. In general, our advice is that students should continue to grasp anything they can learn. Continue reading books, watching movies, talking to people. In the future, this will be an accumulation of knowledge and experiences that they can apply to their work. They should not be afraid of experimenting, breaking the rules of photography, risking ideas. In this era of photography where everything has been done already, students should be able to create ways to improve these latter ideas into something new and contemporary.
On the other hand, students must still respect and give credit to the history of photography, the art of it, and take time to understand how we got here to this point — especially in the level of creativity.
Lastly, we would like to share this quote with everyone. This is a mantra for us working as a photographer duo: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” We both believe that we make our own luck, that we should have to work for it, and just keep creating beautiful images.
NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful for the work you’re doing now?
Steph & Neil: Absolutely, NYFA was like our training ground and a big part of the foundation of who we are now as an artists and photographers.
Coming here to New York City and to this school with no prior professional experience, it did help bring out the best in us. The school gave us not just the tools but also the mental preparation to face the reality of this industry.
Thank you and congratulations to Stephany and Neil!
Photography in Florence is magical; the light is soft and billowy, almost tangible. The 2,000 year-old Florentine streets are paved with cobblestones and the buildings display history in layers as you walk by, one fresco emerging behind another. Since everything is new to the eye in unfamiliar surroundings, all kinds of details and expressions jump out and call to be photographed.
Florence is covered in art from Renaissance paintings by Botticelli and Da Vinci, to the Duomo and other architectural gems. Nearly every church has fine art paintings and sculptures inside, frescoes by Giotto and Masaccio, and you can get so close you can smell them!
Photo: Matthew Angel Acevedo bo2m2_photography
Over spring break, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Chair of Photography David Mager and Associate Chair of Photography Naomi White traveled with 18 NYFA students and alumni for an incredible week of photography in the historic city of Florence, Italy. Students came from several different departments (Acting for Film, Filmmaking, and Photography), creating a diverse group of talented and creative people.
Classes were held in the mornings at the beautiful NYFA Florence campus in Piazza San Lorenzo, and were geared towards both beginning and advanced students. In the afternoons, we alternated between walking tours of the city and commercial shoots at local businesses. We also toured Tuscany together, visiting the hill towns of Siena and San Gimignano, both built for pedestrians with large city squares and ornate romanesque-gothic churches.
Walking tours focused on elements of exposure and how aperture affects communication, as well as embracing decisive moments through street photography and documentary portraits. We toured the church of San Lorenzo, with it’s collection of Renaissance paintings, including the recently restored Annunciation by Filippo Lippi (c. 1450); the Boboli gardens with their magnificent sculptures and shady dells; and wound our way along the Arno, crossing over several bridges including the famous Ponte Vecchio with it’s shiny jewelry shops and magnificent views of the river.
There were also 3 commercially-focused shoots, where advanced students worked with the ProFoto B1 lights to create elegant imagery for various businesses. The first was in a 600-year-old apothecary in Santa Maria Novella. Gothic vaulted ceilings and pink and white striped stone pillars define this enchanting space, which is now used as a fully working perfumery selling upscale bottles of expensive perfume.
The second business was an all-women-run ceramic shop. The owner, now in her 80s, still goes to work every day to paint beautiful ceramic pottery alongside her daughters.
The third business was a leather school where students are trained in creating leather goods typical of Florence such as bags, purses, belts and shoes.
We had a wonderful group of students who not only took great pictures, but who bonded and enjoyed each other’s company.
The NYFA Photography excursion to Florence offered a great week away from the familiar daily life and gave the students new skills and new perspectives. If you ever have the opportunity to go to Florence with NYFA, you should take it!
The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography Department’s third annual trip to The Palm Springs Photo Festival was the best yet.
“Everyone I met with said they were really impressed by the work from the students at The New York Film Academy,” said NYFA Photography Instructor Amanda Rowan. “I felt so proud to be representing our school and the amazing and talented emerging image-makers in our program.”
NYFA Instructors took 13 students and collectively attended more than 50 portfolio reviews. The review meetings included photo editors from People Magazine, National Geographic, Wired Magazine, and Vanity Fair, as well as gallerists from both emerging and established national galleries.
In addition to having portfolio reviews, the students attended several lectures and career retrospective presentations by legendary image-makers such as Stephen Wilkes, Dan Winters and Erwin Olaf. The festival hosted networking events and parties every night, which NYFA students were able to attend to connect with the wider photography community.
NYFA BFA Photography student Lotta Lemetti said,“For me the biggest lesson this festival gave me, was having to learn how to articulate what my work means to someone who has never seen it before.”
“It was really cool to get to talk about my work and show my images to fresh eyes,” agreed NYFA 1-Year Photography student Maddie Smith. “I had no expectations going in but was just excited. The feedback was amazing!”
Each year at The Palm Springs Photo Festival, students receive valuable feedback that often lead to jobs or gallery exhibitions. Last year MengMeng Lu met with the curator from Embark Gallery in San Fransisco and a few months later was a part of an amazing exhibition there. In addition, Alejandro Ibarra met with an Editor from BuzzFeed and was then published.
Amanda Rowan and Kean O’Brien organized this event alongside the director of The Palm Springs Photo Festival, Jeff Dunas. The festival is very generous in supporting the New York Film Academy’s students each year. We cannot wait to go back next year.