Monday, November 26, 2012

Artist Series/ Kenneth Ruggiano

Interview by Photographer Angela Cappetta

Los Angeles artist Kenneth M. Ruggiano never seems to stop.  He is currently organizing photographers for one of many Help Portrait events in Los Angeles on December 1st.

Help Portrait is a global event founded by Jeremy Cowart. Jeremy describes the event as “a community of photographers coming together across the world to use their photography skills to give back to their local community.” Kenneth is working with a dedicated group to give back to families that are receiving services form Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. They will come together on December 1st at Glassell Park Community and Senior Center in Glassell Park, CA to photograph families who may have never had a formal family portrait before.

Kenneth spends the rest of his year perusing a career as an editorial portrait photographer. His work has appeared in many national and regional publications.

The work shown below is work from a project of Kenneth's called Joplin Tornado.  "I was still living in Tulsa Oklahoma when the EF-5 Tornado hit Joplin Missouri. I was watching the reports of devastation on TV and I knew that I needed to make the short drive to Joplin to document the people. It wasn’t a natural leap to make a connection from Joplin to Help-Portrait for me at first. But I found these people fascinating. I want to know about them. For me it didn’t matter if their entire life was just turned upside down by a tornado or if they are getting their first real family portrait. I want to know the back story, and I hope that I can make a picture that tells that story. I’m always in search of a real moment. We see a lot of real moments during Help-Portrait. When you hand a family a print and they get a little teary because they’ve never had one before, that’s as real as it gets."

1) Tell us about your motivation behind the Help portrait session project?

I got involved a few years ago because a friend was doing it. Then last year my wife and I had just moved to LA and I thought it would be a good way to get to know some people in the area while still doing a good deed. We made some new friends that day and got to see happy families.

2) How much time do you devote to making a Help portrait day like the one coming up in Glassel Park in the Los Angeles area?

I’m spending a lot of time in the next week to make sure we are able to pull the event off without a hitch. There are a lot of people I don’t even know who spend all year making this event happen world wide.

3) Do you collect all the Help portraits into some kind of historical archive?

A big part of Jeremy Cowart’s vision for Help-Portrait is that the images aren’t for the photographers, they are for the families. We don’t shoot them to put in our portfolios. So I guess the historical records are hanging in people’s homes around the world.

4) Why Joplin Tornado?

I just felt compelled to go and document it. I hadn’t done any work like that before so it was way outside my comfort zone. I was incredibly nervous walking up to the first house and talking with the owners. I thought I would be told to leave. But they wanted to talk about it and share the experience. The people I met were inspiring.

5) Why the profound empathy for these survivors?

Growing up in the Midwest one gets very use to seeing severe storm warnings at the bottom of the TV screen every “tornado season.” Tornadoes seem so random. I think I’ve been lucky to have avoided being directly impacted by one.

6) How can a photographer volunteer to help you with the Help portrait project?

Help-Portraits events are happening all over. Best place to start looking for one in your area is to go to LA is a launch city so we are having the event on December 1st most other events will take place on December 8th. So there is plenty of time to get involved. If there is a photographer in the LA area that’s free this Saturday (December 1st) we would love to have you come down and volunteer.

7) How can somebody buy one of your pieces?

Currently the best way for someone to buy my work is to contact me directly at

Monday, November 19, 2012

Artist Series / Aline Smithson from Lenscratch

Interviewer: Angela Cappetta

Los Angeles artist Aline Smithson is engaged in all aspects of the artistic lifestyle. Tirelessly keeping her finger on the pulse of the art world with her blog LENSCRATCH, she devotes as much brain space to her own remarkable photography as time allows. She is one of my heroes. The work I am featuring is from her series In Case of Rain. It is a look at the remarkable beauty of simple pleasures in a desensitized world.

Her work has been shown in galleries and museums around the world, most recently at the Santa Barbara Art Museum and the Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado.

"We live in a world full of technical distractions. I see my children gathered around their computers as though it’s a summer campfire, faces aglow, as they peer into a world of friends and fantasy, participating in a new forms of entertainment that further remove them from the childhood that I experienced.

Today’s generation has lost touch with the activities that previous generations have enjoyed—reading a good book in a comfortable chair, playing board games on a rainy day, flipping through Life magazines, or sprawling out on the living room rug while listening to records and reading the backs of album covers.

And it’s because of this that I have been looking at bookshelves and untouched childhood pursuits with a new eye. With great sadness, I realize that these objects will someday be obsolete, at least in their current incarnations. And like a curator of antiquities, I see them now as beautiful objects to be admired and preserved, if only on film.

I can only hope for rain, a heavy rain and maybe a power outage."

1) What's your thought process behind your work? I work internally, observing my immediate world and make work about it. Sometimes it's conceptual, and sometimes straight observation.

-- 2) Do you shoot a lot? I shoot all the time, but shoot much more in the summer when I am not teaching. I carry a camera with me when I travel, which I have been doing a lot of lately, but am not making significant work, simply documenting things I see. I am part of a collective, Six Shooters, where I need a wide range of images as there is not time to shoot a response image--and I also have a stock agency, so some of my strays will find homes.

-- 3) Where do you photograph? I photograph everywhere, but a lot of my work is made at home or at familiar places, like the lake house we visit every summer. I think, for me, that limiting my spaces makes me more creative.

-- 4) Why are you interested in this subject matter? I began my photography career in a traditional way, in the darkroom, using old cameras. I still shoot that way, but I find that much of what interests me is looking at how rapidly our world is changing, in so many areas of our lives, and I want to slow down and capture things before they are gone.

-- 5) Does your calling as a blog master get in the way of having time to make work? Hmmm...never hear the term blog master! What started as a way of sharing my own work six years ago has resulted in an amazing international community of image makers that I am so excited to share with others. I post every day--a commitment I made to myself from the beginning, so YES, without a doubt, it gets in the way of making my own work, but it makes me work even harder to accomplish things. I use my time wisely and focus.

-- 6) What do you see yourself photographing next? I have a new project that is not at all similar to what I have done before (and I'm not ready to share it)--I think it's good to shake things up--I'm not someone who has to make similar work...I like using my imagination to try lots of approaches...I'm leaning towards my conceptual side lately.

-- 7) If someone wants to acquire one of your pieces, whom should they contact? Me, or one of my galleries!

Interviewer: Angela Cappetta

Aline Smithson

Six Shooters


Monday, November 5, 2012

Picturing Cellists - NYC Music Photography Shot with Film

Words + Pictures by Angela Cappetta.

I've been photographing cellists in their practice spaces. These pictures are about the physicality of being a musician, carrying a hulking cello around then delicately placing it so it balances on one thin spindle. I am using Fuji 6x9 camera and TriX 120 film.  These pictures are shot on location in New York City. The shoot was photographed in a church in Washington Heights where this cellist practices.