About cashakevin

KEVIN CASHA FMIPP, FSWPP Master, AMPA, AMPS Hon Life Member Mipp Mps A career now spanning over 30 years in photography, Kevin has won numerous international and local awards. Past President of the Malta Photographic Society and current Chairman, and founder, of the Malta Institute of Professional Photography (MIPP), he is also President of the Birkirkara Visual Art Group. Casha is the only person in Malta who has been awarded Honorary Life membership of both top local Photographic organizations for his work towards bettering photography and photographers in Malta. He was co-founder and is the Technical Co-coordinator of the Malta National Picture Archive as well as the Chairman of the Malta Government Trade Testing Board for photographers. He is the main Lecturer for the Higher National Diploma course in Photography at the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology. He regularly lectures on photography at the Malta Institute of Professional Photography, Heritage Malta and University of Malta, and conducts regular workshops both in Malta as well as internationally. He is also a much sought after International Judge on photography and regularly curates various photography and art exhibitions. Throughout his career, he has staged numerous “one-man” exhibitions in Malta as well as in places like Italy, Corsica, United States and Sicily. Casha has been the Malta Photographic Society’s “Photographer of the Year” for four times as well as “MIPP Photographer of the Year”. He is a winner of the Malta Fashion Award for photographers, a Fellow of the MIPP and the Society for Wedding and Portrait Photographers and an Associate of the Master Photographers Association of Great Britain. His Photography has been widely published with no fewer than thirteen books illustrated fully with his images. www.kevincasha.com

FUSION – A collaboration through photography

FUSION – a collaboration through photography

“And my aim in my life is to make pictures and drawings, as many and as well as I can; then, at the end of my life, I hope to pass away, looking back with love and tender regret, and thinking, ‘Oh, the pictures I might have made!'”
Vincent van Gogh

Photography is an international language which empowers people hailing from diverse societal and cultural backgrounds to communicate through imagery. This exhibition, a collaboration between renowned Chinese photographer Zeng Yi and Malta’s Joseph P. Smith, demonstrates the close relationships which can be forged through persons who share the same artistic passions and interests. Great images need neither captions nor descriptions when, through their content, they can communicate a message, a mood or a feeling. No matter how differently human beings relate to photographs, images can bring distant cultures together. This is what makes photography so powerful and what today’s image makers should never lose sight of. Producing “pretty pictures” is fine but how much more valid are photographs that can influence and impact viewers?

© Zeng Yi

© Zeng Yi

© Zeng Yi

© Zeng Yi

© Zeng Yi

© Zeng Yi

The work of Zeng Yi and Joseph P. Smith clearly illustrate the power that this photography has: of enabling us to gain an insight into the lives of the ‘protagonists’ captured in their photographs – people who are different and remote from us but who we can magically relate through carefully and cleverly executed imagery. Although the work of these two photographers differs in subject yet the human content and sensitivity of their photographs is more than evident and cements their imagery together. The quality and variety of the works in this exhibition propels viewers towards an interesting experience of aesthetic as well as informative journey.

© Joe P. Smith

© Joe P. Smith

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‘Fusion’ brings together a fine selection of photographs mainly from China and Malta. The project extends the valid interaction between Chinese and Maltese photographers spurred on by the China Culture Centre in Malta and aided through the collaboration of the Malta Institute of Professional Photography and the Spazju Kreattiv at St. James Cavalier.

Kevin Casha 2016
Exhibition Curator.

THE PERILS OF INTERNET

The Perils of internet….

The recent bad experience of one of my students made me reflect on problems when buying from the internet. Naturally, there are bargains to be had and many reputable buyers and, furthermore, at times we are forced to buy from internet as some products are not readily available from local distributors. Yet, I think we need to be aware of a few pointers which I would like to mention here when making online purchases:

• You are not seeing the product you are buying at point of purchase. This introduces the risk of being sold a damaged, shop-soiled or even counterfeit item, and the risk of damage during transit due to insufficient packing, rough handling or similar. Beware of deals that seem too good to be true – sometimes that cheap battery, lens or camera case will prove very expensive in the end.

• Products sold on EU websites are not necessarily tax-paid in the EU. This exposes you to the risk of having to pay an extra 5.1% duty and 18% VAT on the item you purchase upon clearance through Malta customs.

• Most manufacturers have different warranty schemes for world regions. A product marketed by a manufacturer for sale in the Far East or US is not normally covered by their EU-wide warranty. Internet sites are not obliged to specify where they buy their products from and don’t often specify whether the product they are selling is covered by the manufacturer’s EU warrenty scheme or not.

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• Furthermore, claiming a repair or replacement under warranty requires a document, showing signature and stamp of the seller together with the serial number of the equipment being claimed and the date of sale. You don’t normally get this document when purchasing camera equipment on the internet unless you specifically ask for it. Local distributors in Malta will require this document to get reimbursed by the manufacturer for any warranty claim they honour, so it is understandable for them to insist on an original, signed document of sale as part of your warranty claim.

• Counterfeit goods. This is a growing problem globally. The selling of high cost counterfeit goods on the internet can be a costly exercise. Never buy cut price big name brands unless you are confident of the outlets authenticity. Rogue websites. As well as counterfeit goods there are criminal gangs out there who produce web sites which look like reputable retailers which are in fact designed to steal your payment details and or identity. They look just like the real thing and are often sites you have used before. Always make sure you type in the address yourself and never follow links from emails or even other web sites.

Naturally, I have researched the above information and I hope that this will enable you to better evaluate circumstances when you contemplate your next purchase. Good luck!

THE VANISHING MALTA PROJECT

An APS Bank Project

Vanishing Malta

The idea behind the three year project is to raise consciousness on social issues captured through photography. The chosen theme for this year is Vanishing Malta and aims to ‘freeze’ in time several characteristics that belong to the present or past, interpret them through the eyes of five photographers and thus convey them to all future viewers.

BOOK COVER

BOOK COVER

The photographers were selected on a number of criteria including their passion for the medium, their technical background and a creative eye to portray the given subject. To encourage cultural diversity and integration, two foreign photographers were engaged, namely Tomoko Goto from Japan and Anastasia Zhukova Rizzo from Latvia, in order to garner a foreign view of how Malta is perceived. Martin Agius, a well-established photojournalist brings professionalism and experience to the group, whilst Lorraine Abela and Mark Pace, who are both young and have recently gained their Higher National Diploma in photography, round up the group with their enthusiasm and contemporary conceptual outlook.

one of the images exhibited at APS Bank in Swatar

one of the images exhibited at APS Bank in Swatar

The Vanishing Malta publication would not have been possible without the help of the writers who penned in the text, the APS Marketing Unit and Midsea Books, who were responsible for the design and printing. Finally, I would like to sincerely thank the APS Bank Management for making this idea materialize. The Bank has always believed in increasing awareness and pride about our heritage and has regularly been at the forefront of the art scene by encouraging local art and artists to pursue their talent. APS Bank’s belief in photographic art is extremely beneficial not only for local photographers but also for enabling the general public to further appreciate and cherish our inimitable heritage.
I hope that visitors to the Vanishing Malta exhibition and readers of this book are stimulated to think deeper into what makes our beloved little island what it is today.

Kevin Casha 2016
Exhibition Curator and Book Editor

Update – Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue International Photography Competition & Exhibition

During the recent CHOGM events, the OUT OF THE BLUE PHOTOGRAPHY exhibition was inaugurated at the MarItime Museum in Vittoriosa by HRH Prince Charles. The opening brought to fruition the work of many months which included the preparation of rules, launching and promotion, the judging, preparation of exhibition boards and the collating of a publication. All this was a great opportunity to showcase the value and importance of our blue planet and raise awareness around all Commonwealth countries on the value of our seas. A vast area of our global ocean lies within the jurisdiction of Commonwealth countries. More than half of Commonwealth countries are islands, to whom ocean matters are of vital importance.

 HRH Prince Charles delivering his opening speech

HRH Prince Charles delivering his opening speech

Through the work of Kevin Casha, MIPP President, Malta had a substantial entry and local photographers left an excellent impression with the international judges. Two MIPP members had their works amongst the finalists: Joe P. Smith and Nick D’Ancona’s images are also exhibited in the Maritime exhibition. Furthermore, other work, mainly coming from the photographic section of Atlam Subacqua Club, in Malta, was close to making it to the final selection. The competition’s overall winner was Ms Ashley Wee, from Canada with a photograph of a sea turtle taken in the Bahamas. Ms Wee attended the exhibition’s inauguration.

MIPP President Kevin Casha together with the overall winner, Ms Ashley Wee

MIPP President Kevin Casha together with the overall winner, Ms Ashley Wee

The Out of the Blue competition, exhibition and book were made possible by the partnering organisations which were The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit, The Royal Commonwealth Society, National Geographic Pristine Seas, the CHOGM Taskforce and the Malta Institute of Professional Photography. Kevin Casha himself was instrumental for the success of this event as he was not only one of the Judges but also Picture Editor and Exhibition Coordinator. The exhibition is open to the general public from the 28th November to the 11th of December 2015.

Protecting our seas …

Protecting our seas…

Recently, I was honoured by being invited to be part of the selection panel for the OUT OF THE BLUE Prince of Wales’ Commonwealth Environmental Photography Awards. The competition, held under the auspices of HRH the Prince of Wales, aimed at encouraging Commonwealth Citizens to showcase the beauty and bounty of oceans and marine environments.

The judges’ task was to select the winners of each competition category as well as the images which have been eventually exhibited in Malta during the November Commonwealth CHOGM event. The judging panel consisted of a further three judges coming mainly from environmental backgrounds. All the judges’ CV’s are highly impressive and, apart from their vast experience, are all photographers in their own right. Besides myself, the group consisted of Terence Dormer, a diver and founder of the British Sub Aqua club; Hanli Prinsloo – multiple South African free diving record holder and founder of the I AM WATER Ocean Conservation project; and Daniel Beltra – a Spanish born photographer working from Seattle who specialises in aerial environmental photography.

The publication which accompanies the exhibition in Malta.

The publication which accompanies the exhibition in Malta.

The judging, held at the prestigious St James Palace in London, was not an easy task, with nearly 900 entries coming from all ends of the Commonwealth. The works were under different themes and categories with one category for under 18 participants as well as a Mobile Phone category. This was also another opportunity for me to learn more about selection processes and the organization of judging panels. Naturally the work, coming from so many different areas of the commonwealth as well as the cultural diversity of the participants, made for different levels and standards of entries – there were the obviously top notch images coming from professional photographers and then entries from hobbyists and youths. It made for a very intriguing mix of images. I could not help notice that some of the work was of the documentary side – just recording a scene or a holiday snapshot – yet other images had an important message as well as an obvious thematic involvement by the photographer. It was also curious that the weakest section was the mobile category. With the use and proliferation of mobile phones, I would have expected much stronger images in this section.

From a personal point, it was also a pleasure that recent efforts of myself and the MIPP to work with Atlam sub aqua club photographers are paying off. I successfully encouraged them to put in their impressive work for this competition. In fact, the Malta entry was noticeable and a good number of works left a good impression on the experienced judging panel.

© Kevin Casha

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY – A PUBLISHER’S PARADISE OR AN OPPORTUNITY FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS?

It is useless denying it – digital technology has turned totally into a publisher’s paradise, or has it? Technology has made photography accessible to a much wider swathe of the general public. Most of this new, snap happy horde are part timers – they already have full time jobs and for them photography is a hobby, a pastime, nothing really too serious. So this vast proliferation of photographers has made available to publishers an ever evolving stock of free images and, consequentially made the sale of images by professional photographers so much more difficult.

An image which can easily fit into editorial. © Kevin Casha

An image which can easily fit into editorial.
© Kevin Casha

The publishing industry is aware that there are loads of good photographers who are ready to freely give their images for publication – just for the sake of seeing their photographs in print. This is a fact of life and cannot be reversed back. Pros just need to accept it, but then digital media and the internet revolution have also made it easier for one to proliferate images and make one’s work known. The first thing a photographer earning his livelihood from the business needs to determine is whether it is to one’s advantage to pass on images for free and thus join the bandwagon. Today, one does not need to fork out money for physical print portfolios or lose time and effort going to meetings. Internet has made it possible to market one’s work from the comfort of one’s laptop. It is up to each photographer to decide whether to start making his work known around the world or whether to remain a non-entity, stay out of business completely and satisfy oneself with the ‘likes’ on Facebook! Yes, the decision is a harsh one to accept for photographers who have been used to getting paid for their work – but today it is a fact of life and the sooner one accepts it, the better.

So how does one try to turn the situation to one’s advantage and tap the valid possibilities that are out there? Like in everything else, it boils down to hard work – nothing comes easy yet some photographers have turned the situation in their favour. One must not forget that although photographers have increased in a big way, the world wide web has also enabled us to enormously proliferate our client base. Images put online and published are now being seen all over the world. Who would before have seen one’s images in Africa, in Alaska or in China? If one trawls around the internet, one is bound to find up and coming young photographers who have managed to capture attention and, subsequently, paid work.

Sounds difficult? Yes, for sure with so many good photographers around. It is not easy to get noticed in such a competitive field. But is it really as inacessible as it seems or are we not making enough effort to tap this market? There are hundreds of online and conventionally printed publications needing images from all genres of photography. Publishers are all the time looking for fresh and engaging work which will enhance their content. One needs to get them to see one’s work.
Naturally, the main beneficial thing when one’s work is published or seen online is that your credited work is seen by a wide audience. There are so many opportunities out there to have one’s work published. It’s just a question of being organized and being industrious.

There are some things which need to be noted: Most publishers will require releases if you have recognizable persons in the images. This, as we all now adds another complication. Yet when one is aware it should not be such a great problem to obtain releases particularly for personal work in which one has control over the subjects. Just prepare releases for all types of photographs, even carrying them with you whilst shooting. Also one can use blur or movement to obscure recognition. Being aware of the copyright and data protection laws of your country is also vital. Furthermore, try and study the publications which would mostly welcome your style or genre of photography and concentrate your efforts on them. Fit your images to the publication.

A generic image typical of magazine potential. © Kevin Casha

A generic image typical of magazine potential. © Kevin Casha

There lies also the possibility of ‘barter.’ Make efforts to exchange your work for free advertorial space or any other product or service that is of use to you. This will be more doable in one’s own country as one would, most probably, know the publishers on a personal basis. It is not a disgrace to barter work – the world was, and still is, based on barter – be it with goods, services or money. One needs to be aware of retaining copyright of one’s images after they have been published. Most publishers recognize this and have no objection, but be aware of a few companies and individuals who are out to take advantage. Use your ready stock photography avoiding to go into expense to shoot purposely for publications. Make sure to read the submission guidelines in detail – remember that most editors will have hundreds of submissions to view and things such as sizing your images or naming them wrongly will most certainly get your work discarded right away. One other factor to remember is not to put up the images you intend to send to publications on Facebook -use other photographs for this purpose – as publishers do not like to use images which are already out there.

One last recommendation: do not be disheartened when publishers do not respond or give you feedback. The process is not quick and easy and most of the times it takes long to strike gold. The important thing is to be patient and persistent. If your work is good, it is bound to be eventually noticed and rewarded. So get off your backside and bring your work to the notice of the world!

© Kevin Casha 2015

COMMUNICATION AND THE SIMPLE PLEASURES OF LIFE….

COMMUNICATION AND THE SIMPLE PLEASURES OF LIFE….

I have recently returned from Inner Mongolia, in China. I was representing Malta in the 1st Bairin Left Banner Photographic Season. Needless to say, it was an unforgettable experience. Being so far away from my surroundings in little Malta, the trip and the stay made me reflect.

The inauguration of Bairin Left Banner Photography Season

The inauguration of Bairin Left Banner Photography Season

Travelling to the place was one of my most strenuous trips to date – it took nearly two days of travel going there and a further two days coming back, each way involving three flights and countless bus journeys! Yet it was well worth it! Together with other international photographers and personalities, such as the FIAP vice president, we were based in Bairin Left Banner, in Chifeng City, at an excellent and modern hotel, Jing Du hotel. I actually got to know that we were the first Europeans staying at the hotel! In fact, everyone wanted to take pictures with us – something which I must say, I did not mind in the least. It was a fantastic event with a grand opening in the main culture centre of the City. Coupled with this event was the inauguration of a high level international photographic exhibition.

A typical pastoral scene in Inner Mongolia

A typical pastoral scene in Inner Mongolia

Yet, what impressed me most during my stay was the
will for people to communicate and live together in harmony. My only Chinese is limited to ‘Good morning’, ‘thank you’ and ‘Kampei!’ (Cheers!) and the Chinese command of English is rather similar to my abysmal skills in the Chinese language. So it was not easy to make each other understood. Still, I only required to smile at totally unknown people, who unhesitatingly smiled back and welcomed me, a total stranger, not only into their houses, but also into their hearts.

Reminiscent of Van Gogh

Reminiscent of Van Gogh

The hospitality we were shown was really without any bounds. Just as an example, during one instance, I joked that I had not seen the traditional, furry cows (Yaks) that Mongolia is known for – so, lo and behold – the next day we were taken to a place where two Yaks and countless wild horses were grazing contentedly. I was later told that the area we were in did not have any Yaks but our hosts managed to bring two examples from some far off place in order to please us! This was the limits they went to so that their guests were happy.

Traditional Folk Dancers

Traditional Folk Dancers

It was a pleasant feeling when I witnessed countless scores of townspeople enjoying themselves with morning exercises (such as Tai Chi) and games (such as ‘shuttlecock’ and tennis). They daily congregate in the squares not only to keep fit but also to communicate with each other. Their pastimes are old fashioned yet geared towards keeping them in touch with their fellow beings – simply playing cards in the streets or singing together in choirs. How we have lost all these communication skills in the West! We are so hell bent on commercialism, on earning not only a living – but earning more and more in our greedy race for having all the commodities that we can dream of – that we seem to have lost our way. We do not even make the effort to talk to each other anymore without using modern, insensitive technology. In this day of stellar communication many of us are just lost, wandering souls with very little real human contact – living in our own little bubbles.

An uncomplicated folk

An uncomplicated folk

Switching to the photography side, I can add that the weather was kind and that I was pleased to be able to cut myself off from my everyday life in Malta.

Dusk in Inner Mongolia

Dusk in Inner Mongolia

A Buddhist temple

A Buddhist temple

Deer on the skyline

Deer on the skyline

It was exhilerating to lose myself in the Prairies, the mountains and the sunflower fields – so reminiscent of one of my favourite artists – Van Gogh. I just hope that I did not day dream too much and that the images I brought back of the place does justice to such an enchanting segment of the world.

Sunflowers and Sunlight - a perfect combination

Sunflowers and Sunlight – a perfect combination

“Kampei!”

Kevin Casha

Photographers and Weddings

PHOTOGRAPHERS & WEDDINGS

As many of you know, I have now stopped photographing weddings for quite some time. I spent quite a large chunk of my career covering what I consider a very demanding assignment. I was recently looking up some of my previous interviews and articles and my last interview for a newspaper in relation to wedding photography came to view. I was very surprised that reading it again it is still very apt till today. The main focus of this interview had been to raise awareness in the general public of who to entrust with their wedding pictures. I thought of publishing it again in the newsletter as I think it makes sense for both future couples as well as for photographers to gain a better insight into what wedding photography involves.

© Kevin Casha

© Kevin Casha

Weddings. Quite a staple diet for successful photographers – and a dilemma for wedding couples. The crucial question is who does one entrust with taking his wedding photographs? With over thirty five years of experience in wedding photography, besides other areas of commercial work, professional photographer Kevin Casha is more than qualified to express his views on this subject. In practice, he outlines that a competent wedding photographer should be capable of reaching that happy medium whereas the bride and groom are guaranteed excellent service whilst at the same time having as little time taken up as is possible.

Kevin stresses the importance of discussing beforehand all the details and facets of the couple’s wedding and subsequently fixing a shooting and time schedule according to the couple’s needs. Getting an experienced professional photographer specializing in wedding photography usually ensures reliability, quality and a smoother running event.

In reality, a couple should keep in mind that a good “general practice” photographer might not be the most suitable person to shoot a wedding. In health matters, although we do go to our GP whenever we have minor ailments, we eventually consult a specialist when more serious matters loom over the horizon. The same parallel can be easily applied when employing a photographer for a wedding. One should definitely source out someone who has experience and a proven track record of photographing weddings. A good portraitist or photojournalist might not be the right choice. Would you go to a Dermatologist if you have, say, a muscular problem? Of course not! The same goes for a photographer. There are very few really good “all rounders” (although one might think otherwise from the various adverts and hype in the media!!).

So a couple needs to be wise and ensure they book a photographer who is experienced in the genre of photography they require. Doing otherwise is inviting disaster. It is obvious that a wedding is a very special occasion and the more planning that goes into the preparations, the better. Each wedding has its own story and needs, and a good photographer should be able to gauge the needs of the couple and make their day a memorable one – naturally, for the right reasons!

© Kevin Casha

© Kevin Casha

The couple should not be taken in by aggressive and repetitive advertising. How “professional” and great a photographer declares himself to be is no yardstick as to how good he really is. The couple should here listen to referrals from their friends and the general public who might have already employed a photographer and where pleased with his work, attitude and service.

It is important that initially, before the couple finalizes their booking, they discuss at length what type of images they want and how they visualize the evolvement of their wedding. A good, experienced professional photographer can make a wedding fun, just as much as an inexperienced and ill prepared photographer can turn it into a nightmare.

Budgets, prices, editing and whether images are going to come in an album or just on DVD should be made clear prior to the booking. What is being paid, and for what it is being paid, should be clearer to all parties. One must also be prepared to allocate some time in which to take the posed set-up photographs and group shots. The photographer cannot guarantee quality if most times he is shooting in a candid, haphazard manner. A degree of control is needed in most photographs. Still, if everyone is organized and co-operative, this should not take an experienced photographer more than three quarters of an hour.

Kevin recommends that group photographs, which are usually quite troublesome, should be kept to a minimum and only feature the couple’s immediate family. The day for shooting all the guests at a reception has long been superseded, especially with video service being virtually an ever-present part of today’s weddings. Group images should be done as early as possible before the reception starts. This ensures the cooperation and the good state of all the featured guests.

Punctuality is another important factor and the bride should ensure that her hairdresser and make-up artist stick to their time schedules. Unfortunately, the practice seems widespread where some supposedly “professionals” just don’t care when they finish their work and into whose time they are encroaching upon. A sure way of starting on the wrong foot is when the bride fails to be ready by the agreed time. A photographer, no matter how experienced, cannot do the same level of work in half the time he would usually allocate. One should also make sure that the dressmaker has already delivered everything on time. It is not unknown that a dress arrives on the wedding day sometimes with disastrous results! Lively children are another delicate matter. Kevin reckons they should not form part of the bridal retinue. These will invariably start playing up and cause nervousness all round. If the kids are relatively well behaved, then it is not a problem.

If one is keen on getting exceptional wedding photographs, one should also consider carefully the venue and time of the wedding. A morning wedding can usually give more rewarding results than an evening one and a well-thought out wedding hall can further help the photographer to create memorable images. The fact is that it is not so easy to create certain images at night – for sure, the complications and time factor are bound to increase. Kevin thinks that today’s trend towards simpler, more comfortable dresses, textiles and natural looking hairstyles, help to make the bride more relaxed during her big day, thus contributing to better, more natural photographs. Everyone knows that a grumpy, irritated bride is not the ideal person to try to radiantly photograph!

One thing, which irritates Kevin tremendously, is when clients employ the services of an experienced photographer and then proceed to ignore his advice, restrict him and not co-operate or stick to what has been agreed. It is a fact that to take good quality photographs at a wedding is no easy task and time and concentration is needed. If the couple do not even want to concede this, it is best not to employ a good photographer in the first place!

Remember, a photographer has one sharp “guillotine” hovering above his head – he cannot go wrong. There are no second chances. The same applies to the bride and groom’s choice of photographer. The choice should be well thought out and studied.

KITTY CHOU – The Purist photographer

Kitty Chou was born and raised in Hong Kong in 1961. She is the fifth of six sisters.

Although outwardly shy and reserved, when talking about photography, Kitty immediately lights up. The passion shines through her eyes and a transformation comes over her when she meets people who are seriously interested in discussing her photography. Like most persons taking up photography, Kitty initially tried her hand at a number of diverse photographic genres, but she has always been fascinated and drawn to people and society. Like most photojournalists, Kitty has a natural knack of communicating and she loves engaging with people. Despite the human element features in a lot of her everyday photographs, there is, ironically, a conspicuous absence of persons in most of her Fine Art exhibition work. Her work is imbued with classicism although most of her fine art imagery borders on abstract and semi abstract subjects.

© Kitty Chou

Portrait without a Face no.2

Through her own admission, Kitty is an extremely curious person and one realizes that this characteristic filters through her work. Most of her Fine Art work invites the viewer to first of all, engage aesthetically, then to delve deeper into what the images can evoke. Kitty’s work is at times mysterious and leaves a substantial part to the interpretation of each viewer: she is not one who spoon feeds the viewer.
After attending primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong, she went to the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, United States, graduating in Business Administration in 1982. Kitty was always keen to take what would be termed snaps or documentary images. She was interested in preserving the memory of a fast disappearing lifestyle with the development of the society, especially the one in Hong Kong. She was further inspired when she saw an exhibition of Henri Cartier Bresson at MOMA in New York while she was in university. Bresson’s work not only impressed her but set her reflecting on photography.

© Kitty Chou

An interesting view of a mundane subject

Her first camera was a Minolta analog model. Like a lot of photography enthusiasts, she also developed her own films. After University, she seemingly drifted away from photography only to take it up in earnest again in 2002, buying a compact, point and shoot, two megapixel Casio digital camera. Kitty is mainly self taught and does not put much store in what cameras and equipment she employs – for her, the camera is just a means to an end and the importance of her photography is encompassed through perception, subject framing and aesthetic composition. She recalls her early days when many people she encountered would be asking her what type of camera she uses – as if the camera makes you a better or worse photographer! Many tended to be biased and look down at her photography due to her not sporting the latest “professional” camera model! This reminds me of a dear departed friend and great photographer, David Facey who, when once asked as to what type of camera he uses, he replied: “One of those little black ones!”

© Kitty Chou

The exhibition venue – the Natural History Museum, Mdina, Malta

Kitty’s first exhibition, in 2011, at the New York School of Interior Design, was urged by her professor, who seeing her work, encouraged her to exhibit at the school gallery. She entitled her exhibition “The Accidental Photographer: Line, Colour and Perspective.” The response to her work was so positive and encouraging that Kitty felt that exhibiting and showing her work was the way to go. This is one of the factors which continue to encourage her to exhibit as she particularly enjoys the feedback of her audience.

 

A year later, Kitty conducted a talk with slide show, as well actual prints at the Asia Society in Hong Kong. Ben Brown, a gallery owner, was invited to attend the talk by the forum moderator. The gallerist was intrigued by Kitty’s work and expressed interests in working together. Less than six months after that initial contact, Kitty had a solo show in their Hong Kong gallery.

She followed this exhibition by taking part in a Hong Kong collective exhibition during 2013. This was held at Duddell’s , a very up market restaurant and gallery in Hong Kong. This exhibition merits particular mention due to the fact that iconic Chinese artist, Ai Wei Wei, who was under house arrest then, was the curator. In 2014, another milestone followed for Kitty when car manufacturers Rolls Royce, converting their showroom into a pop-up art gallery, hosted Kitty’s work as their first Art Series in Asia.

© Kitty Chou

Kitty’s keen sense of light and texture

Ironically, there was a time when Kitty refused to go and see other photographic exhibitions as she felt that her work would be influenced and lose its distinct, personal character. Yet, today she has reversed that, mainly because she is confident enough about her work. These last years, she feels unshackled and free to do her ‘own thing’ and not be unduly influenced by what people say.
Kitty does not use any supplementary lighting in her images, preferring to keep her work as simple and true as possible. Her main ally is natural light. In fact, her style and work resemble more the photojournalistic or ‘street’ photographer. She does not manipulate, arrange or set up her images – her process is one of keen seeing and intelligent selection, cropping only in the camera and not in post process,maintaining that, if this is done, her images would lose or stray away from their initial purpose and concept. For this same purpose, even her digital editing is kept to a minimum – just some minor colour correction and brightness and contrast levels. Apart from Cartier Bresson, who remains forever one of Kitty’s inspirations, other photographers she admires are Horst P. Horst and Herb Ritts. She is particularly attracted to the more vintage photographers due to their studied composition and intelligent perception. This is actually interesting as in fact, although a large part of her work ends up being abstract and semi abstract, Kitty’s work is always imbued with classical inference.
She has now been working totally with the digital medium, due to its convenience and wide creative possibilities, printing her Fine Art exhibition work on high end special art paper. Kitty is increasingly looking to explore subjects which have a meaning to her and is interested in producing more work that possibly can have a social concept. Kitty is also looking at future challenges, and a project that is slowly taking birth is the production of a book on her photography.
Finally, I asked her how she would describe herself, a fine art photographer, or perhaps a photojournalist. She promptly replied that she really does not feel boxed to any particular type of photography but that photography has gradually just become an integral part of her lifestyle and is one of the main purposes and driving forces of her life.

Kitty today is married and has one son. She commutes regularly between New York, Paris, and her own Hong Kong.

© Kevin Casha, 2015
www.kevincasha.com

Note: Kitty Chou will be exhibiting her latest work in Malta at the Natural History Museum in Mdina between the 20th of May till the 7th of June, 2015. The exhibition is called “Cotidie The Magic of the Everyday.”

http://www.nysid.edu/news-events/events/kitty-chou-exhibition

http://duddells.co/venue/en/

Maintaining your Passion!

Maintaining your Passion!

I recently started teaching another series of the MIPP’s Introduction to Photography Course and the discussion fell on what discourages newcomers to photography. I gave it some thought and I tried to narrow it down to five main factors which contribute to the failure of beginners to maintain their initial interest and momentum.

© Fast Track (2)

1. EQUIPMENT:
Do not blame your equipment (or lack of it). Yes, certain equipment is needed for some genres of photography, such as macro, sport or wildlife, but photography has been with us for nearly 200 years and those photographers who came before us did not even dream of the equipment we have at our disposal today. Yet, the history of photography is brimming with outstanding and iconic work where a basic camera and lens were employed. Auto-focus and the camera Monitor, just to mention two things, are relatively recent inventions.

2. POST PROCESSING:
On the other hand, post processing or digitally editing images after they have been captured with a camera, is here to stay. How can the images of a student of photography, who has no idea of post processing, compete with those of someone who is employing the enormous benefits of fine tuning one’s images? The answer is simply a big “No.” When such newbies compare their images, they are bound to be disheartened. Thus, when taking up photography, or going to learn, one must today perforce interest oneself in image editing. Otherwise, one’s images cannot reach today’s industry standards.

3. SLOW DOWN:
Life has become so fast that most of us rarely pause enough to see the opportunities and the great visual images that are there for the taking.
One can carry a camera around the clock, (which I recommend) but unless one learns and disciplines oneself to slow down and to look at the world a little differently one may never actually see those images. When out taking pictures, fully absorb the surroundings and if something stops you in your tracks, keep the camera down and first use your eyes and your brain. What has attracted you to stop? How can you shoot the subject differently? What do you include and leave out? Is the background complimentary? The list never ends. Yet ask yourself these questions as eventually it will become a natural procedure which will get one into the habit of seeing subjects which otherwise would be ignored. The main idea is to include photography into your daily lifestyle and rhythm, and observe even when the camera is not with you

4. RESEARCH:
This is becoming a very neglected part of the photographers of today. Art needs stimulation and knowledge. If we do not constantly research and improve our knowledge, in all spheres of life, our horizons will be as restricted as a horse with blinkers. The more we research on what others have done before us, the more we look at other art forms, the more we read on photography, the more we research themes and concepts, the more our imagination and creativity will broaden. Humans are a product of their conditioning, so how can someone who isolates oneself and is not constantly searching for ways and means to improve his work progress? The more knowledge we have, be it conceptual, historical, technical etc; the more capable we will be to improve our work.

5. NETWORK & COMPETE:
A common gripe I hear is that newcomers are very scared to compete in photographic competitions or even to show their work on social media. Here I totally disagree. Images were not meant to be taken and hoarded by the photographer. Images are taken to be seen, discussed, generate awareness, pass a message. The reasons why we photograph are endless so if one is going into photography being perpetually scared to show one’s images, one might as well stick to philatelly or needlework! Do not be worried about how others see your work, or if you fail in a competition. This is a vital process for a beginner to learn how to improve. If one does not hear critique of one’s work, how can the work evolve? How can a photographer’s confidence grow if the photographs are only seen perhaps by a few close people around him – who would normally be too polite to say what they truly think? So go out there to compete and show your work and remember, even those ‘judges’ started out the same as you.