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.
The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography Department’s Guest Lecture Series offers students the opportunity to meet active, working artists and engage with them personally and professionally. In each series, lecturers present their work, discuss their practice, and talk about how their particular career has evolved in the dynamic and ever-changing field of photography. NYFA students are able to ask questions and lead discussions with the guests that range from technical challenges and solutions, to conceptual and philosophical explorations.
The guest lecturers range from fine art photographers, commercial photographers, and multimedia artists, to photography reps and creative directors. Photography reps and creative directors discuss the process of selecting and working with photographers, offering advice on presentation, websites, and branding. This spring, Jen Jenkins from Giant Artists, Maren Levinson from Redeye, and Dara Siegel from I heart reps., brought books of their clients’ work and other printed materials for students to peruse and touch — tactile experiences that bring photography to life.
Of NYFA’s Spring 2018 series, BFA Photography student Lotta Lemetti said, “For me these artist guest lectures are always inspirational because it takes away a little bit of the mystery of being a successful artist: they are human beings too, just like us. Each one of us could be there one day. That’s how I always feel after seeing these people talk. I think the intimate small group size also helps to feel the human connection between the lecturer and audience.”
Commercial artists such as Rose Callahan, a NYC-based photographer who was in Los Angeles on a book tour, also brought books. She discussed her books on men’s fashion, which had blossomed from her personal project photographingdandies in NYC; Gestalt publishing in Berlin had seen her blog on the subject, and sent her on a world tour through Africa, Japan, and parts of Europe. The students loved hearing about her process of making her pictures — what kinds of lights she used, how she approached her subjects, and her journey through the mystical world of book publishing.
Another commercial artist, Taj Stansbury, a local LA-based filmmaker and photographer, discussed how his eloquent and mindful artistic practice is based in gratitude, and shared personal stories of getting his foot in the door to make videos with Rihanna, Eve, Ludacris, JLo and many others.
Guest Lecturer M. Rasmussen, a creative director discussed the importance of color and listening to your inner voices, while Zen Sekizawa, an advertising photographer and activist, talked about her personal project, You and I See Why, which explores the “fleeting nature of memory and the inevitable loss of context that occurs when revisiting old ideas.”
Jordie Oetken, a local photo- and video-based artist, discussed her original approach to art making, using her body and her experience studying the art of stunt doubling, to get to a more nuanced and authentic place in her work. She discussed the importance of community and how she often uses the people around her to engage and assist in her art making practice.
The NYFA Photography department would like to thank all the wonderful Spring 2018 guest lecturers for their generosity of spirit and willingness to share their expertise and experiences with our students:
Thomas Locke Hobbs
The Photography Department is gearing up for a great new summer season of exciting guest lecturers, so stay tuned!
This spring, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography Department did a fashion collaboration featuring emerging Los Angeles-based fashion designers, sponsored with equipment from two of the biggest equipment brands in the photography industry: ProFoto and PhaseOne. The event was executed like a high-end commercial shoot, and NYFA students were able to experience what it is like to work with art directors, producers, models and designers.
Joe Lavine from ProFoto brought the latest in portable strobes to the set and helped students build flawless fashion lighting, while Scott Nidermaier from PhaseOne brought medium format Diegel cameras, so that the students would be shooting the highest resolution and quality images available.
Faculty Art Director and Lighting Instructor Amanda Rowan said, “It was really important to show the amount of work that goes into big fashion shoots to create the final images for a magazine spread.”
The shoot took place on the Universal Studio Backlot’s Western Set, and the models were all NYFA acting alumni. Working with celebrity stylist team DShaunte Mcknight and Kenee’ Thompson, students produced and shot a 10-page fashion spread that will be featured in our next issue of the NYFA photography magazine FAYN.
“Because of the amazing location we had access to,” said Rowan, “We asked that the stylist curate looks that express the modern spirit of the Wild West in Los Angeles: living your dream an artist.”
This workshop was the first production shoot for students after their semester-long journey into the one-year photography program. It is in their last semester class, called Production Practicum. For the rest of the semester, the students take on the roles that were learned on this big shoot and are able to become their own producers and art directors.
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Universal Studios, our sponsors PhaseOne and Profoto, stylists DShaunte McKnight and Kenee’ Thompson, and all the New York Film Academy students who worked hard to make this day a huge success. We can’t wait to see your photos in the next episode of FAYN.
This year, NYFA was invited to participate in the Getty Center’s annual College Night. The event attracts 2,500 college students from all over Los Angeles and is designed by college students, for college students — with a little help from Getty curators, education specialists, and faculty at participating universities.
This year’s College Night celebrated the diverse and unique qualities that make up the city of Los Angeles. The call was to showcase Los Angeles as a city of artists, to inspire students to re-think their ideas about what art can be, and show them that art is for everyone.
NYFA Instructor Jennifer Penton and Co-Associate Chair of Photography Naomi White formed a class dedicated to Getty College Night with 11 photography students. Together, they created and pitched interactive programming ideas.
One of NYFA’s MFA in Photography candidates, Juan Sebastian Echeverri, was chosen to be on the prestigious Getty Advisory Board, along with students from these participating schools:
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Southern California
Santa Monica College
California State University, Los Angeles
California Institute of the Arts
College of the Canyons
Loyola Marymount University
California State University, Long Beach
California Lutheran University
Working with the local, non-profit group Welcome to Junior High, who promote the artistic pursuits of marginalized voices, NYFA students envisioned a Wish Lantern Lounge, where participants were invited to write their wishes on one side of a tag, and the part of their identity that they would like to see better represented in the world, on the other. Once their tag was made, students chose a lantern from an array of colors and hung it up. Over the course of the evening a “grove of light” was created by the hanging of hundreds of lanterns, each sending a message.
Participants could walk under the lanterns and read the wishes and identities, which ranged from “Angry Intersectional Feminist” to “Cat Lover,” and from “Tolerance for Immigrants” to “More Opportunities.” It was an emotionally moving experience to walk amongst these fervent desires, and to see the lanterns enliven the space with their joyful spring colors and flickering lights.
“Being part of the Getty Collaboration was a rewarding experience,” said NYFA BFA Photography student Edolia Stroud. “It was so cool to collaborate with my peers, and have our installation displayed at the Getty.”
Fellow BFA Photography student Jennifer Siemsen agreed. “I think that with the collaboration of all the attendees, we ended up creating something really beautiful.”
The New York Film Academy would like to thank the Getty Center for their inspiring College Night event and for honoring us by including our students’ exhibit in it. We would also like to thank our staff and students for their incredible work in making the exhibit such a success.
“What I’ve mainly learned from NYFA is to be able to tell stories. Of course, I’ve learned about image and sound, which are also important, but being able to include some kind of drama in a story stands out above the rest. As a matter of fact, during the final editing process of Soul, I would call the director while he was editing the film and, after watching the cuts together, he applied what I was discovering at NYFA. I think is has helped the film.”
Already a successful journalist in Egypt, Abdallah came to NYFA to study filmmaking and enhance his storytelling skills. He is keenly aware of the impact movies can have on people and his thesis film, Doors of Mercy, seeks to shed light on the plight an Egyptian woman can face when giving birth to a child out of wedlock.
Monika is a portrait and fashion photographer whose work has been published in IKONA, L’Officiel, Elegant Magazine, Promo Magazine, Shuba Magazine, Eden Magazine, Fayn Magazine, Stilius Magazine, Zurda Magazine (online), The Wrap (online), and Luxure Magazine. Her work was also featured at the 2017 edition of Photoville, one of New York’s premier photography festivals.
A New York Film Academy MFA Screenwriting alum, Melarissa wants to help grow the film industry in her native Indonesia and empower women by telling their stories. She has said that being a Fulbright scholar and being able to make personal and professional connections throughout the course of her studies has been a life-changing experience. Of her time at NYFA she’s said:
“I learned a lot about structure, dialogue, character. I feel like I now have the skills that are expected of me. That’s why I want to use my voice to speak for those who can’t.”
Already a founder of a production company in his homeland of Angola, Hugo earned his Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking at NYFA’s Los Angeles Campus. Even though he was encouraged to pursue medicine and engineering, of which Angola is in dire need, he replied, “To me, culture is just as important as those other things.”
Every year, thousands from the art industry attend ArtExpo New York in search of trendsetting art and artists that will be shown in galleries worldwide. Hosting more than 35,000 avid art enthusiasts annually, ArtExpo is the largest international gathering of qualified trade buyers — including gallery owners and managers, art dealers, interior designers, architects, corporate art buyers, and art and framing retailers.
Kingi Kingibe’s photography
There will be 400+ innovative exhibiting artists, galleries, and publishers from across the globe, showcasing exciting original artwork, prints, paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, ceramics, giclee, lithographs, glass works and more — all under one roof at Pier 94.
New York Film Academy artist/alumni featured at ArtExpo 2018 include:
Kingi Kingibe: From Nigeria, Kingibe has explored the devastating effects of cotton; from its role in the enslavement of African American people to its damaging effects on the planet. In a recent exhibit, the artist framed cotton plants in gold and transfers stunning portraits of Black women in vintage cotton clothing onto actual raw cotton. The exhibit juxtaposes the ubiquity of cotton with its barbaric origins.
Photos by NYFA alum Jon Henry
Jon Henry: Henry graduated from the New York Film Academy Photography School’s 1-Year Conservatory and is a teaching assistant at the New York City campus. In his visual artwork, he focuses primarily on the black family and the community at large. He also explores the representation of athletes in fine art. His Stranger Fruit in Smack Mellon’s Hot Picks 2017 and you can read about him on the NYFA blog.
NYFA alum Ana Paula Tizzi
Ana Paula Tizzi: The work she will be showing is entitled Dear Fubá, which illustrates her father’s advice via letters from Brazil. She uses photographs and cinemagraphs (photos with certain features that are animated). The artist says, “Among these are how to achieve self- acceptance, the importance of moderation and the need for persistence in work and life.”
Alejandro Ibarra: LGBTQ+ families are often labeled “non-traditional,” and NYFA MFA grad Ibarra photographs both straight and LGBTQ+ family portraits in his series Piece by Piece, and addresses the irrelevancy of sexual orientation as it pertains to how families are classified.
Photography by NYFA Alum Alejandro Ibarra
Natasha Rudenko: Bodily Confessions examines “femininity, national identity, and gender politics as a Russian born, white woman living in the United States.” Rudenko comes from a conservative background in Russia so her viewpoint is a unique one. The artist says, “This project is about my journey of recognizing and interpreting my whiteness, my body, my power, my presence and place through photography.
From his hometown of Chennai to his recent 24 Hours in Times Square project, one thing that never changes for street photographer and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography Conservatory grad Venkata “Venky” Krishnan Ganesan is keeping an open mind. The artist recently challenged himself to spend 24-hours straight, out on the streets in New York City, convincing perfect strangers to let him take their portrait on a chilly winter day (20°!). No wonder this enterprising photographer won the Best of Manhattan Award for Photographer 2017.
Ganesan is hoping to set an official record with his marathon 24-hour portrait session on the streets of New York, during which he told Fstoppers he blasted through:
2.5 liters of water
3 energy bars
5 cups of coffee
15.9 miles (walking back and forth between Duffy Square to Times Square)
Now, the Photography Conservatory grad tells the NYFA Blog about his process behind his herculean street photography project, his approach to art, and what’s coming next.
NYFA: What inspired your 24 Hours in Time Square project?
VKG: The idea is been in my mind for a long period of time. It was more of a goal I wanted to achieve as a test of endurance: Will I be able to stand and talk to a whole bunch of strangers for 24 hours straight, and convince them to get a portrait done in less than a min?
NYFA: What surprised you the most? What did you learn through this experience?
VKG: Learning how to handle rejection was very important for growth. Everyone talks about failure. I think if you are open to rejections and you will never have failure.
I was surprised that I was able to handle rejection for 24 hours non-stop.
NYFA: What is your key advice to students interested in street photography?
VKG: Sometimes you have to be more of a business person than an artist. If you need something, you ask for it and you will get it.
My advice would be stop clicking pictures with the camera and start clicking with your mind. You will get better pictures.
NYFA: As a street photographer in these extreme conditions, what were your strategies for endurance? And how did you select your subjects?
VKG: Endurance will follow with excitement. I am always excited to click pictures of people I can never do that will nature. I go with my gut for my subjects and they turn out to be interesting faces.
NYFA: What inspires you most about street photography?
VKG: Interactions with lots of people inspire me the most. When you talk to so many people, you get a new perspective in life, and it gets better the more you interact.
NYFA: How has your approach to photography grown or changed since studying at NYFA?
VKG: After being a commercial photographer for many years, I had to unlearn what I did in the past. I think unlearning is the key to learning. You always think you know, but you actually don’t. I learned how to look at photography in a different way in terms of becoming an artist and making money. With the help of all my mentors at NYFA, I have become a extremely evolved photographer.
NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?
VKG: I enjoyed every moment in NYFA. That was the most exciting period in my life. You get to see and lean the something new every day.
NYFA: What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
VKG: I am working on something with which I will be able to give back to other photographers. It’s a website where you can upload your images, and we will help you get your photographs curated. This will help photographers develop their style and introspection.
With the 24 Hours project, I will be applying for the book of records and thinking about doing the same project for five more years, and make it into a book of strangers.
NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful for the work you are doing now?
VKG: It is like the human brain — I use only 7-10 percent of what I learnt at NYFA, but I am trying to use more and see what happens. I use almost all the basic techniques and NYFA gave me a road map on what how and why, which makes me a better photographer.