Today I photographed Wangechi Mutu at her studio in Brooklyn. She does these amazing paintings and collages. I really love her pieces. You canÔÇÖt just glance at them; there are so many layers to them, so casual viewing is not allowed. Considering how violent and somewhat shocking her pieces are she was very soft spoken and kind to work with. Her space is a floor in a brownstone she owns. I photographed her as part of my artistÔÇÖs series. For several years, I have been randomly taking portraits of artists. The project started for me when I photographed, Kim Heirston, for Vanity Fair. She is an art consultant. She made some connections for me and we began collaborating together on who to take pictures of. But lately I have been building on the series by having the artists recommend other artists.
I have always enjoyed meeting the artists and seeing how they work. We always see art on nice clean white walls in a gallery but this grounds it more for me. Plus I get to find out more on their creative process. Talking about the different things that inspire them to make their art is inspiring to me.
ItÔÇÖs a double-header month with a story on IndiaÔÇÖs Lakshadweep Islands in Conde Nast Traveler in the August issue. I shot the islands after doing a story on the Maldives for them. The islands are a bit like the Maldives but totally undeveloped. The Indian government protects them vigorously allowing in only a few thousand foreigners a year. Traveler had to procure a special permit for my assistant, Joe Fornabaio and I. This series of islands have very white sands and pristine coves. ItÔÇÖs a diverÔÇÖs heaven. The locals either fish or make coconut rope. With the rope they bind and twist the hairs of the coconuts to make long strong ropes. The fisherman fish mostly for tuna using long lines with multiple hooks. In the morning they go out for bait fish by making a partial circle with netting. Then they get into the water and begin slapping the water to scare the bait fish into the nets.
The hotels there are quite basic. One hotel we stayed at Bangaram Resort(TK) is on it’s on island. Very basic accommodations but we stayed in the Gandhi suite. The water on the island is full of sulphur. Some people come here for the supposedly medicinal quality of the water. Personally showering in water that smelled of rotten eggs was not my way of waking up.
Leaving the island we had to take four planes to get back to New York including a stopover in Iceland for a sick passenger. Total return flight–36 hours! I was talking to my kids on the couch and fell asleep for 8.
My story on a Baja Mexico Sea Kayaking trip came out in the August issue of MenÔÇÖs Journal. We traveled for almost a week by sea kayak through the Sea of Cortez. We started in Loretto and ended pulling out at La Paz. We camped out each night and it was gorgeous! The terrain was a bit like Arizona meets the Caribbean. I had expected to be in a kayak all the time but the expedition group had planned on me traveling via a chase boat. The boat enabled me to get a variety of angles on the situation but it certainly was different from my past MenÔÇÖs Journal expeditions-Snowmobiling Newfoundland for ten days (!) and sea kayaking Lake Powell with John Bowermaster. In both situations, I was participating with the group. In Newfoundland we rode snowmobiles thru virgin wilderness, shoveling out hunting huts each night to cook dinner and sleep. With John we traveled by kayak and camped each night among the craggy canyons.
In Mexico, Steve our expedition leader had his Mexican crew cook us a great meal each night under the stars. Of course, I was running back and forth to my tent downloading the dayÔÇÖs images while shooting night stuff. IÔÇÖm certainly not complaining. It was a great trip and because it almost never rains there this time of year, the weather was perfect.