Saturday, June 4, 2011

Being Seen - Oprah

For many years the element of "being seen" in art, photography, literature and personal life was - and is - very close to my heart.   It is also at the base of my work as a photographer. In the time I spend with somebody during a photo session I want to create this space where the person in front of my camera feels "seen". It is a process that can not be forced. It has to do with awareness and arriving in the present moment for everybody involved.

I was contemplating to make "Being Seen" a regular topic on my blog for quite some time. So when I heard Oprah in her final show speaking about "validation" and the desire to be seen and heard it struck a strong chord with me. 

I am not an Oprah Show "regular" and the few shows I saw I came across only by chance.  But I always was interested in and admired her for her ability to communicate with people.  I was wondering what was at the core of her work and what keeps her going through all these years. I made it a point to see her final show and was impressed and touched how she summed up her last 25 years:

"I've talked to nearly 30,000 people on this show, and all 30,000 had one thing in common: They all wanted validation. If I could reach through this television and sit on your sofa or sit on a stool in your kitchen right now, I would tell you that every single person you will ever meet shares that common desire. They want to know: 'Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?'

"Understanding that one principle, that everybody wants to be heard, has allowed me to hold the microphone for you all these years with the least amount of judgment. Now I can't say I wasn't judging some days. Some days, I had to judge just a little bit. But it's helped me to stand and to try to do that with an open mind and to do it with an open heart. It has worked for this platform, and I guarantee you it will work for yours. Try it with your children, your husband, your wife, your boss, your friends. Validate them. 'I see you. I hear you. And what you say matters to me.'"

Thank you, Oprah!!

My site.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Savoring life and food: Seattle food bloggers

Such a lovely experience to work with these beautiful and savvy women for the Food Blogger story in Seattle Woman Magazine for the April 2011 issue.
We did the covershoot at Jessie Oleson's gallery store CakeSpy on Capital Hill. Jessie swung tirelessly her brush again and again until it expressed just the right amount of ease and boldness. She also provided the delicious drawings of the flying cupcakes. Is that paradise ??  (Of course, the question to ask: Does Jessie ever eat any cupcake herself? As graceful as she is)  
Molly Wizenburg, Shauna Ahern and Keren Brown were photographed at The Landing, a beautiful event space near University Village. Thanks so much to Peter at the Landing for letting us use his space with the beautiful light as a backdrop.

A big Thank You also to Keren Brown of for bringing everybody together and organizing the space.
One of the next events that Keren organized will be on June 13th at Tom Douglas Palace Kitchen. It sounds wonderful and I am very tempted to attend that party...Keren will be also part of Kim Rickets Book Events on June 20th at the Palace Ballroom: "What we talk about when we talk about food."

My site

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cafe Liebermann

I love museums. Maybe even more I love museums cafe's. - Just kidding.. But seriously, I am not the type of person that visits an exhibition with educational headphones on my ears. I think it is important to learn about art, but I prefer to do that before or after I see the exhibition. Somehow I want to keep my senses open for what I see and what I feel, when standing in front of the painting or the sculpture for the first time. I want to trust my perception and what speaks to me and what touches me.
Because of that I love museums cafes. I feel there is a kind of osmosis happening just by sitting in a cafe that is part of the museum. Even if you don't see the artwork there, you feel the presence of all the art in the surrounding rooms, it speaks and comforts.
There are great museum cafes and not so great ones. I have very fond memories of visits to museums - and the cafes' - in Hannover, Berlin and Hamburg in Germany, where I lived for many years. These visits often happened with girlfriends.
Sometimes I go just by myself. On the last day of my recent trip to Germany, arriving at the Hamburger trainstation and having some free hours before going to my girlfriend's house, I left me suitcases in the station and went to the nearby Hamburger Kunsthalle.
After seeing two great exhibitions in the Gallery of Contemporary Art I arrived at the cafe, Cafe Liebermann just before they closed the counter. I still got a glass wine and sat for an hour in the empty cafe and had the best time. It was like a gift
It felt as if I arrived at myself. There was this protected space that allowed me to just be there, looking back at all my encounters with family and my old firends I had seen in these last three weeks of my trip.  I came to a quiet point in myself.  I wrote a postcard to my friend and notes on the red paper bag from the store that I would later add to my journal.

Cafe's and museums are very important places to be.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Derrick Cartwright of SAM

When I photographed Derrick Cartwright at the end of last year on an assignment for the Seattle Art Museum, he was the - still new - Director of SAM . I did not have a chance to meet him before the shoot. When I arrived at the day of the shoot and walked through the museum to the spots I had chosen as possible locations, I saw him being involded in talking to visitors in the big museums hall. I was impressed and touched by the energy and personal involvement that I could sense around him while connecting with the people.

The question was on my mind how I would photograph him. In general I am always looking for the human being behind or in the constraints of the position in the hierarchy of an institution. I was interested in what Derrick Cartwright's personal connection to art is, what the drive and motivation is and what keeps him going in the not easy task of guiding a big ship like SAM through the storm.

Of course there is only so much you can touch on in the photo situation. It's all about arriving at a "presence", for myself in really "seeing" the person I photograph as well as being aware when the person arrives at that moment of presence himself.

I love this image! There is something around his eyes I find very beautiful and where I can sense a gentleness and the ability to make himself available to the person in front of him. I also believe I can see what is kept alive in him in his relation to art and what might lead back to his very early and direct experiences in what art and creating art can mean and can communicate for a single person and society as a whole.

I am sad to hear the recent news that Mr. Cartwright decided to resign from his position as Director of the Seattle Art Museum by the end of June. As he says: "Now, I want to re-establish my personal connection with the artists, objects, and ideas that got me into museum work in the first place."

Luckily he will stay in Seattle and it is very likely that we will see him around. I have a lot of respect for his decision to honor and follow what is "close to his heart". I am happy to have met him and I am sending all my best wishes for his further path!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Melody Biringer - Craving Success

Photography by Ingrid Pape-Sheldon © 2011
Last spring I had the pleasure to photograph the fabulous Melody Biringer of CRAVE Company for SeattleWoman Magazine. Initially my meeting with her was planned just as location scouting for the shoot. She showed me her office, her closet with her stylish outfits, the favorite coffee shop and the Dutch Bike store with European bicycles she is so fond of. What was planned as a meeting became the shoot itself as Melody was enthusiastic, energetic and playing along, always seizing the moment.  
Photography by Ingrid Pape-Sheldon © 2011
Melody is adventurous and combines a strong business sense with the ability to have a good time - especially with girlfriends. With her  Craveguides she is now exploring - and conquering I believe -  Europe with the first city of Amsterdam. Congratulations to Melody for publishing her first book recently: CRAVING SUCCESS. She openly talks about her successes and failures in running 21 (so far) businesses.  It has plenty of good advice for entrepreneurs. And fun too!!
Her next speaking events will be at the Orlando Spark & Hustle Conference and at the KISSpdx event in Portland

Saturday, March 26, 2011

SAM's Picasso Women..

I am catching up a little here with my shoots for Seattle Woman Magazine from the last year.

This was a very fun shoot with Maryann Jordan and Chiyo Ishikawa from the Seattle Art Museum. Chiyo is the deputy director/curator at SAM and Maryann is Senior Deputy Director. They both made it possible that the Picasso exhibition found it's way to Seattle.

It's always some juggling involved of schedules and locations in preparing for these shoots. So many things have to come together. Cara Egan of SAM was my ally in location scouting and finding time in the busy schedules of Chiyo and Maryann

The day of the shoot was very exiting, as it was the press conference for the exhibition and everything went a little bit in a whirlwind. Chiyo and Maryann were both in very good spirits, as all their hard work now became visible in the opening of the exhibition. I had a chance to quickly walk through the packed exhibition and got exited.

The exhibition however was no option as a background for the shoot, because - among other considerations - of too many visitors and insurance concerns.

Here is the cover photo without the cropping for the layout. The location is the beautiful Family Room, that is part of the exhibition space. I really liked the windows, the architectural elements, the light that created some patterns on the floor, together with the black boots and pants, the connection to the outside, the postures of both women that give a feel of girlfriend cooperation in this big project and the elation and satisfaction of bringing a long path of work to it's completion.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Seattle Writers of Speculative Fiction

Great shoot with two Seattle writers of speculative fiction for the February issue of Seattle Woman Magazine, Timmi Duchamp and Louise Marley.
Lots of fun to explore the Science Fiction Museum for possible backgrounds. Of course it's also exciting to be in a museum early in the morning before it opens and to have it all to yourself (kind of....)

The initial plan was to photograph Timmi and Louise in the Battlestar Galactica exhibition. But there were so many other colorful spots. The idea was to bring a little of the "speculative" environment into the images. I also got inspired by an article Timmie Duchamp posted on her website about the "Second Self" the writer creates with the "authorial voice" in the story.

Timmi Duchamp

This element of a shifted reality  was something new for me, as my images usually deal with what I find, which means I don't create an artificial reality around the person. But I was inspired by the challenge and the museum provided at each corner colorful light situations.

Louise Marley

Louise is a former opera singer and I found it fascinating how she brought that experience into her writing.
You can read the article by Cat Rambo online in SeattleWoman Magazine. Or look for printed version
Louise Marley's website
A big thank you to Anita Woo, the media contact of the EMP and Science Fiction museum, who was very helpful and generous with her time.

SISTERS & GIRLFRIENDS - Elena and Chiara

Today is International Women's Day. I am thinking of how important women's friendships are with their girlfriends and their sisters....