From the Photographers:
Passion Projects, Summer Edition


Brick & Wonder photographer members are naturally more likely to shoot architecture and interiors, but having a great professional portfolio isn’t necessarily the way that they intrigue and convince photo editors, art directors and curators to hire them. Personal work and long term projects are necessary to keep training an eye and to make creative use of non-assignment time... and to make sure that they still have a soul.

For this Summer edition, we feature four photographers who spend considerable energy on their personal work and show an alternate side to their typical shooting personalities. And, as usual, you can drop a line to any of them to talk about ordering a print.

TY Cole, Scenic Route

We’ve known Ty for a while now and we've even collaborated on a few projects. He is one of those rare photographers who can do technical interior and architectural work, but manages to make a really nice portrait as well. And with the series Scenic Route, he adds epic landscapes to that quiver as well. When the images of his itinerancy started popping up on Instagram, I could feel the vastness of the views even on the small screen. They will make marvelous prints.

He tells us: "I’m on the road fairly often, but the majority of my work is local in New York. Yes, I almost always try to tack on a few extra days when traveling for work - if I’m not headed to another assignment. Typically, its after the job though."

"There is a fair amount of prep. Mostly on google images or street view to scout locations. Sadly, landscape imagery doesn’t translate to commercial as often as you’d think. Occasionally, an editorial travel story will come my way and I’d like to think these landscapes have something to do with it."

Chris Mottalini,Secret Meaning

What happens when a photographer a creative director and a food stylist collaborate to make something completely non-commercial? This project, Secret Meaning is a reaction to the fascination that architectural, interior and still life photographer Chris Mottalini and his cohorts, Jeffrey W. Miller and Julian Hensarling, have with symbolism that is embedded in choreographed images, in this case 17th Century still life paintings. In that era, ordinary objects in painted arrangements would have deeper meaning, symbolizing ideas like the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary, knowledge and music. And by the looks of them, plenty of fertility tropes...

The layered effects of the (rather primitive) materials and additional exposures are a reference to the discovery by x-ray of several layers of painted objects hidden under the surface of a painting by Baroque Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán titled “Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose”.

Chris tells us, "The beautiful and weird idea of those hidden layers lurking just under the surface inspired the use of the double exposure technique, which really forms the aesthetic basis of the project. he sets for 'Secret Meaning' probably cost us a total of $10 and are made exclusively of pieces of cardboard, which we painted all kinds of cool colors and cut into different shapes. That's it."

And what are some of the symbols lurking in this series? "I like to leave it open to personal interpretation. But....if you really wanted to get into it, there might be references to fertility, death, the fleeting nature of earthly pleasures, decay, resurrection, vanity, etc."

Jonathan Pilkington, Stones

These stones have a lot of personality. The Avebury Henge stones sit in Avebury Village in Wiltshire, southwest England, and while there were no references to them in Spinal Tap, one of the three stone circles in Avebury is the largest such megalithic installation in the world.

In his architecture and interiors work, photographer Jonathan Pilkington makes elegant, simple pictures that allow light to give the spaces he shoots a glow. In this series, the moody English weather creates a similar glow, causing the landscape to dissolve, transfixing us with these awesome stones and their curious mass. Stare at them long enough and they seem to morph into faces and characters after a while… seem like a circle of grumpy druids, gathered on a foggy morning to perform some ancient rite.

Jonathan tells us, "I spent two weeks in this fascinating area, laden with a rich mysterious history and an equally mysterious modern lore. After visiting the location multiple times over four days, I decided to shoot the Stones one very early morning, around 4am, before sunrise. The benefit of shooting this early, apart from the light, was having the entire monument to myself which was a rather meditative and focused experience. It was a heavily misty morning, which helped create the atmospheric texture."

"Observing the work, many people tend to see different things, which can be a common trait with symbolic and abstract art. It’s great to be able to provide that experience for people to interact with, especially as it enriches the mystery and invokes the imagination."

Garrett Rowland, Estate Condition

Garrett’s commercial and editorial work is highly polished, technically accomplished, and quite “pop-y”; so it was a nice surprise to run across one of his projects that is decidedly not that way. Estate Condition is a series of images he has been making for several years in interiors that are more likely to be forgotten than memorialized -- homes of the recently deceased.

He tells us, "I first started thinking about people's deserted spaces when I visited my Grandmothers house after she passed, about 8 years ago. I had been photographing real estate in New York City at the time, but when I started taking pictures of her empty home, I came to see the objects left behind in a new way."

"It was cathartic for me to get a sense of her going about her day, although she would never do so again. So when I returned to real estate photography, I always kept my eye out for little moments of life left behind- especially when I had the opportunity to shoot an interior for its "estate condition" the listing post after the owner had died."

"I always shot these scenes surreptitiously; so they were hand-held, mostly film, never lit; often I only took one frame in between documenting the rest of the space. And I found so much evidence of life -- of living -- even where they worked to scrub the apartments clean of human presence. I especially liked spotting obscure decorations, dated furnishings, and obsolete technology- the stuff that has no value except to the person who lived there."

"I don't photograph real estate at this point, but anytime I hear about estate sales, or listings, I always offer my services in exchange for personal documentation."

Ty Cole, Chris Mottalini, Jonathan Pilkington and Garrett Rowland are all Brick & Wonder members.