picture perfect

Här får ni en liten inspirerande bildcocktail från i år med bland annat prunkande trädgårdar i Kina, välmanikyrerade hallonnaglar och spanska vitlöksscampi. Bild nummer två är från en trång tatueringsstudio i HK där min tjeckiska väninna gaddade in kinesiska tecken i ryggslutet. Ni ser också rosor i vattenglas, tavla med dystra moln och frukost med kokos, jordgubb och vallmofrö. Översta bilden på mig med nygjorda slingor. Längre ner bubblande champagne och senaste specialnumret av amerikanska Elle, dedikerat till kvinnan runt 30. Azurblå vas med rosa ros från östermalmssalong. Provokativ blodkonst. Schackrutiga vans och bokkonst. 
 
Here you get an inspiring set of photos from this year, including gardens in China, well manicured nails and Spanish garlic prawns. Picture number two is from a tattoo studio in HK where my Czech friend made a tattoo with Chinese characters in the lower back. There is also roses in water glass, painting with gloomy clouds breakfast with coconut, strawberry and poppy seed. The first photo is with my new, blond highlights. Further down sparkling champagne and the latest issue of American Elle, dedicated to woman over 30. Azure vase with pink rose from a salon. Provocative bloody art. Vans with chess print and painting with book Art. 

interview with my favourite photographer

 
The first photo clicked by Ali Ghorbani was during the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. 26 years later, he is one of the top photographers in Asia, putting his skills to work for luxury weddings, top brands and VIP clients. Meet Ali G:

Can you describe yourself in three words and tell us where you come from? Patient, passionate and persistent, I think these are important elements to have as a photographer. I was born in Iran and my family moved to the UK and France during the Iran-Iraq war, and eventually making it to USA.  And in 2001, I came to Hong Kong.

Where do you feel home more? Hong Kong or USA? My home at the moment is Hong Kong. I have lots of friends here and I’m working on my photography career. My second home is the US because that’s where my family and childhood friends live and I got my education there.

What were your first impressions of HK? When I first came to Hong Kong, it was a challenge adapting to the hot and humid weather. But soon I discovered the energy and the efficiency of this great city, and I fell in love with it.  I always had a side for adventure, so Hong Kong became ‘home’ really fast!

What is your first memory of a camera? It was during the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Our family had to travel there for our green card interview, and my uncle gave me a 35 mm film camera. “This is a historic moment, you should take photos” he said.  Ofcourse, the fall of the Wall symbolized the end of the Cold War and a new sense of hope for the world.  I witnessed it and I even broke pieces of the wall with a hammer. It was just overwhelming with emotions, noise, lights, and so on.  That was the start of my photographic style: capturing people and their emotions.

What made you change your career from engineering? I wanted to do something more with my life. I wanted to explore Asia and try my hand at business, so I started a trading company importing chicken feet into China. As time passed, I kept getting drawn back into my old passion: Photography. In the beginning, it was really tough, as I didn’t have a portfolio of work in Hong Kong. It was a huge struggle knocking on doors, working thru long nights and being persistent, but eventually, I got my first paid shoot.

Did you ever picture yourself as a photographer? No, but I think photography is something that chooses you; you don’t choose photography.  And as Joe McNally, one of my favourite photographers of all time, says, “We make pictures. At the end of the day, we create something potentially significant that did not exist at the beginning of the day. We go forward, despite the uncertainty.  Because this is an act of love and passion, which defies reason and prudence.”

Tell me about your work as a photographer: Half of my work is weddings; I’m passionate about people.  Since these images have such strong emotional impact and importance, I feel it’s a great privilege capturing these memories for the families and their future generations.  I also work for major brands such as LVMH group, Chopard and Porsche, especially when it comes to their VIP events.  And finally, I shoot corporate and personal portraits. 

How do you keep your ‘eye’ fresh and stay creative? My personal passion is photographing artists and dancers.  I am always in awe of their skills and talents, they do incredible things. In order to grow as an artist yourself, you have to have personal projects, you know, things that make you get up at 4:00AM for!  

Any special projects you would like to share with us? One project which I’m very proud of has been the annual charity calendar which I dedicate to “Women Helping Women Hong Kong”, a Hong Kong based charity. This project brings together models, dancers, makeup artists, set designers and stylists to create photos of women with an artistic element.  Some women’s calendars take away the power of women and reduce them to sexual objects, but my goal is to empower women. Empowering women to inspire others, which is also one of the goals of the charity.   Here’s the website of the charity: http://www.whwhk.org/

Is there someone that you would really like to photograph? Madonna, definitely.  She has been a pioneer in many ways and has always spoken her mind without giving a damn about what people think.  Whether you agree or not with the content is not the point, but the fact that she dares to say and do those things inspires me as an artist. I would love to photograph her raw side, meaning something that most people haven’t seen before.

Who are the most famous people you’ve photographed? Kevin Spacey, Uma Thurman, Keanu Reeves, Shirley Maclaine, Christopher Plummer and Victoria Beckham, to name a few.

What is the challenge of being a photographer in Hong Kong? It’s a very competitive market, and most locals choose to work at lower prices, not realizing they are actually hurting themselves and everyone else in the long run.  It’s also more challenging to penetrate the local wedding market if you don’t speak Chinese.  

What is your future vision? My goal is to expand the destination wedding business by putting together an elite team of photographers and videographers.  I am currently speaking to investors and looking for top videographers, especially for Indian weddings, which are 4-5 day multi-million dollar productions.  To produce high quality and consistent quality is my top priority because my target is luxury weddings. 

What is some advice you would have for younger photographers? Very simple, shoot what you are passionate about and stay with it!

Visit Ali Ghorbanis site here, his Instagram account is @aligphoto and also check his Facebook page here <3

tankar och tillbakablick

En liten tillbakablick till Hong Kong. Har fortfarande hundratals opublicerade bilder från perioden så det här är nog bara en av flera bildregn som komma skall. Hong Kong gav mig chansen att få träffa så inspirerande människor. Entreprenören Javier från Chile som driver ett vodkaföretag och som i framtiden vill lansera i Europa, stjärnfotografen Ali som gav mig access till Hong Kongs finare salonger och alla utlandsstudenter som vidgade mina perspektiv om vad som är möjligt. Min professor Gordon Mathews som inspirerade och som brann som en fackla av engagemang för asylsökande invandrare och nya kulturella uttryck. Hans berättelser och anföranden som tidigare sats på pränt i New York Times eller South China Morning Post för en mycket större publik än en universitetsklass. Mötet med modeföretaget Diors högsta ledning blåste liv i gamla modedrömmar och gav mig tankar om Paris, couture och internships. Alla spännande kreatörer, entreprenörer, konstnärer och fotografer jag mött på galleriöppningar, Art Basel, releasefester och vernissage har gett mig hundratals nya visitkort, Linkedinkontakter och telefonnummer som jag lagt till i mitt nätverk. Hong Kong har börjat förvandlas till ett diamantminne och jag bara vet att erfarenheten har sått någonting gott för framtiden.
 
När man flyttar utomlands till en så pass annorlunda värld som Asien går hjärnan på högvarv i ett halvår. Man får miljoner nya, främmande intryck varje dag och man ser mönster, strukturer och ett samhälle som är mycket annorlunda än det man är van vid. Man träffar hundratals nya människor och anpassar sig till att skriva och läsa på akademisk engelska. Nu har jag landat på en ort där det bokstavligen inte händer någonting. Det kanske är bra för hjärnan. I alla fall intalar jag mig det. Att ha långtråkigt främjar ju kreativiteten. När livet går från regnbågens färgskala till att bli nyanser av bara grått så lär man sig att uppskatta när det kommer färg igen. Nu är det jobb, praktiska åtaganden och att ladda batterierna som gäller. Pulsen går ner och hjärnan vilar. Laddar om och checkar ut. Nya drömmar tar form. I stillheten sker förändringen. I Augusti kommer jag börja ta sats igen och under kommande höst kommer mitt livskapitel att heta Stockholmslivet. 
 

Back to Hong Kong. I still have hundreds of unpublished photos from the period so this is probably just one of several photo rains to come. Hong Kong gave me the chance to meet so inspiring people. For example Javier from Chile who runs a vodka company and in the future wants to expand in Europe. The famous photographer Ali who gave me access to Hong Kong's upper class enviroments. All foreign students who broadened my perspective of what is possible. My Prof. Gordon Mathews, who was so inspiring and commited to he`s work with asylum seekers and new cultural expressions. My meeting with Dior's top management blew life into old fashion dreams and gave me thoughts about Paris, couture and internships. All exciting creators, entrepreneurs, artists and photographers I've met on gallery openings, Art Basel and release parties has given me hundreds of new cards, Linkedin Contacts and phone numbers that I could add in to my network. Hong Kong is for me a diamond memory and I just know that the experience will bring something good for the future.

When you move abroad to such a different world like Asia, the brain is on a intensive work in half a year. You get millions of new impressions every day and you see patterns, structures and a society that is very different than what you're used to. You meet hundreds of new people and adapts to write and read in academic English. Now I've landed in a place where literally nothing happens. Maybe it is good for the brain. In any case, I tell myself that. Boredome helps creativity. When life goes from a rainbow of colors to become shades of gray. I learn to appreciate when life goes color again. Now life is all about job, practical commitments and to recharge my batteries. The pulse goes down and the brain rests. New dreams take shape. When there is no movement my inner is changing. In August I will begin to start off and a new era will appear, the Stockholm era.