March 19th, 2012 § § permalink
Cleveland Faces on St. Patrick’s Day
As usual I have been meaning to write a post for months now (typical), and am now just getting around to it. Is this laziness, or actually being to busy, you may ask…I’m going to go ahead and say that I really don’t want to answer that but,… yes, it is total laziness I am afraid to say. I am really trying to get better with this.
Yesterday I decided to get my ass off my F**KING chair, and get out and do what I enjoy most, and went out and did some street portraits, while the city streets were filled with hundreds of thousands for the St. Patty’s Day Parade. This was just personal work, and kept it very easy going as I have in the past with my “Street Portrait” series. I am not even going to attempt to write a ton of shit, and act like I have something important to say, so… here you go.
Little side note first… if I photographed you yesterday, and you don’t see your picture here, there is a link at the bottom to a different gallery where you may view all of the photos I took… Thanks!!!
Ronald David, asked for 5$ but we settled on $2. Hey, I got mad bills!!! Sorry homie
Chris and Sebastian
Dock, The hat man
James and Javita (probably spelling this WAY wrong... sorry)
"Black Bill Gates"
Eddie, got to love those boots!!!
With age, comes beauty. No names... sorry ladies.
No name, but apparently LOVES Ohio!!!
Going around photographing like this was a blast, and I really enjoyed getting the chance to be outside on such a nice day, and getting to meet a ton of random people. Although I love very standard street photography, I very much prefer to use lighting. Don’t get me wrong, natural light is amazing, but for my particular style I usually roll around with a studio light. I have to give a huge shout out to my boy Ricky Rhodes, for being a total trooper, and carrying around my heavy ass battery pack, and strobe for 6 hours!!! Ricky is a killer photographer, and an all around awesome guy!!! Be sure to check out his work at www.rickyrhodes.com . I couldn’t have done any of this without him being such a badass!!!
Ricky "The Man" Rhodes
For those of you who got your photo taken by me the other day, but don’t see your picture here, go to : www.kopanskiphoto.com/client/patricksday
Check out my other work at www.kopanskiphoto.com and on Facebook: Kopanski Photography
And don’t forget Ricky at www.rickyrhodes.com and on Facebook: Ricky Rhodes Photo
November 22nd, 2011 § § permalink
Living it up in the windy city…
The mighty "Bean"
Just recently got back from a trip to the windy city with my Cousin, and good buddy and awesome photographer, Darren Hendrix (darrenhendrix.com). Don’t want to bother you with a bunch of bullshit words… just some photos. If you have never been to Chicago… GOOOOOOO!!!! Fantastic city that feels so alive. It was my first trip there, and a very pleasant one to say the least. Got a chance to visit with good friends Brian Young, and George Davis Jr. Can’t wait to get back. Check up in the next day or two for a post about some revelations I had about “travel” while on this trip. Hope you enjoy this small selection of photos… some of which were taken with the iPhone. Be sure to check out Darren’s blog with an awesome photo collage from our trip, darrenhendrix.com/blog. Enjoy!!!
Beautiful Fall day in Millennium Park
Portrait by Darren Hendrix
103 stories up, Sears (Willis) Tower
Navy Pier Park
Chicago Subway, Blue Line
One of the best dudes in the world, George Davis Jr.
On top of the world!!
October 25th, 2011 § § permalink
New perspective with time…
It’s crazy to think that it has already been 5 months since I have returned from Uganda. I don’t think a day has gone by that I don’t wish I was back there with the people, sights, and sounds. I feel this is to be expected for anyone who does a trip like that for the first time. There is no doubt in my mind that I will continue to do more non-profit work around the world in due time. I am already planning a trip back to Uganda to continue work from my last trip. I never quite realized how short 2 weeks could be until I took that trip. I had the unfortunate realization of knowing that when I was leaving to come back home, that was actually the point when I was just getting my own opinion on things, and felt like I was ready to really work on something. I felt like it took two weeks to just get an view point, where I could have my own educated opinion and work on expressing that. Therefore… I feel it is extremely important to return.
This has been the first time I have really utilized the idea given to me from other respected photographers that I distanced myself from this work upon my return to the states, before editing through it. I never quite understood this, but now understand what they were talking about. When I got home I didn’t spend the next month eagerly going through all of the photos and video. Although the urge was there, I trusted in the fact that I would value from leaving the work alone for a period of time, and from this gain a new, perhaps better prospective of my work. I am sure this period of time is really different for each person. Some may take a few weeks, in my case, I took a few months, only glancing at the work here and there. I also know it really helped me to have people I respect look at my work, to get a total outsiders perspective. This to me makes complete sense because given that I was there experiencing the photos being made, I might be drawn to liking something more just because of the story or experience behind it, and maybe not because I actually feel it is a quality photo that tells a good story. Having someone that just looks at the photos from a photographer stand point for me was super helpful. Thanks Dave!!
This is a really short little update, but I really wanted to get something up since it once again has been FOREVER!!! Above is one of my photos from my trip that I used in the Kalman & Pabst Fine Art Show. Sadly to say it wasn’t until just recently that I was able to find out this beautiful girls name. This is Kimono Irene, 12 year old daughter to Kakai Dina, and sister to Wilson. Wilson was my little buddy, and I just can not wait to return to see Wilson, Kimono, Robert, Shamim, etc…
May 27th, 2011 § § permalink
Malnourished children wait all day
A few days ago I saw first hand the single largest problem in most 3rd world countries… hunger. I visited TASO’s children feeding program, that happens every Tuesday and Thursday for their children clients who are malnourished. This was a difficult sight to witness, and it really made me think about how lucky I am to be able to get a hot meal pretty much whenever I want it. These children come to TASO for examination, and feeding, but unfortunately (due to the numbers) are greeted with extremely long wait times. Depending on their examination they will be given feeding packs (some as many as 5), or in more sever cases may even be administered a feeding tube. I am not super familiar with the in-depth realities of this overwhelming problem, but Emily knows much more then I do. Be sure to check out Emily’s blog post for more information about this overwhelming problem. Due to my lack of informative words, I will just share some images, with the hopes that they will speak for me…
May 23rd, 2011 § § permalink
Such joy and happiness from someone so special…
Yesterday I got a chance to meet a little girl named Shamim, who lives in a little village near Mbale. I went to her village with the intent to put down the camera (hard to do) and try and help out Joe as much as I could with the coop build. Although I, and members of the Poultry Project know that I am here mainly as a photojournalist, it’s hard to stand around snapping photos when others are working so hard. This is why I thought after covering 2 coop builds in good detail that this would be a good chance to help out in other ways besides photography. Now looking back on yesterday I am not sure how much help I was as a builder, but never-the-less, I tried to pull my weight… “tried” being the key word.
This being said, it became super difficult to not take photos of Shamim, who we were really there for. I never met Shamim until this point, and with all honesty I never knew of her until yesterday. The first second I met her I was greeted with a beautiful, radiating smile from her. She did not know who I was, and probably why I was there. Most kids I have met so far can’t help but be super curious about the tattoos on my arms. Tattoos are not common here at all, so all the kids love coming up and touching my arm, and always seem to laugh. Later in the day, after working a bit with Joe, David, and Eric I had to go ask Shamim if she had a panga (Ugandan word for machete) for digging. She looked at me and with a huge smile unexpectedly gave me a big hug around my waist, and then preceded to take my hand and show me the way to her neighbor’s house where I would receive the much needed panga. This quick little interaction warmed my heart. It was obvious that Shamim is filled with so much happiness, which made it hard and a bit surprising to learn about her condition. I found out through Kelly that she lost her parents over 5 years ago from AIDS-related illness, and now lives with her grandmother. It broke my heart to learn that Shamim herself is HIV+, and has been since birth. This is very hard for me to understand, and overall hard to take in. I have met other children here that are also HIV+ but for some reason, it really sank in when I learned about Shamim being affected by the disease. Not that anyone else is at all less important, but it was just a bit different for me learning about Shamim. Maybe it was because of her overwhelming smile, or the fact that without knowing me at all she gave me a big hug, or just the fact that she seemed so unbelievably joyful. Whatever the case may be, it really emphasized the overall reason why the Poultry Project is here, and how amazing what they do really is. They are making a difference one person/family at a time, and to me that is huge. With Shamim’s new chicken coop she will be able to get the protein she desperately needs, as well as start earning money from selling eggs to help pay for food, medical supplies, clean water, etc… It’s evident to me that children like Shamim are really why we as human beings really need to take care of each other.
I look forward to seeing Shamim again on Wednesday at a TASO function. I plan to talk with her some more as well as hopefully get a few more photos of her amazing smile. When I saw her at her village she told me that she liked having her photo taken, so I am guessing a few more photos will not be a problem, and probably appreciated. I am not sure how many people come through her village and take photos, but one thing is for sure… I do plan to send back photos to Shamim and the other children I have met throughout this journey, and hope they see that as a little gift of my appreciation for letting me into their life for just a bit. It’s crazy to think that they may have no idea how much they have taught me in the little time I have been able to spend with them. I may have only been in their world for a few hours, but the effects of that on me will change my life forever.
Shamim in front of her home.
One of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen.
May 19th, 2011 § § permalink
After 5 years I finally arrive in Uganda, Africa
Go figure… Took me this long to put up a blog. Big surprise, right? I still can’t believe I am hear in Uganda after all this time of wanting to come here. I am sitting in a little hotel lobby right now, waiting on my citrus drink, and I have to say… I truly couldn’t be happier. Today was only my 4th day in Uganda, and I already have fallen in love with this country. The people, the sights, the smells (good and bad), the overall feel of this country is just amazing. I know now why people speak so highly of this amazing country.
It’s no secret that being here is a bit of a reality/culture shock, and although that is not for everyone… I love it, and feel in ways I kind of need that shock. I feel a healthy reminder of how lucky we are is a great thing. I have seen so many beautiful things here, as well as some things that break my heart.
I feel so unbelievably fortunate to be here helping out with The Poultry Project. Everyone I have met who is involved is unbelievably amazing, and it’s evident that their work comes from the heart. Kelly, Emily, (sisters) Joe, and Emily Axtman have just been amazing guides to the Mbale, as well as bringing me up to 100% speed as far as the Poultry Project goes. I couldn’t imagine being here with another group of people. Be sure to check out the Poultry Project blog!!!
As usual I was planning like a 15 page blog, I obviously have tons to talk about, but my lacking of writing skill is discouraging me to do so at the moment. Not to mention the horrible internet connection. So… I think I will just show some photos and write little captions for now. Hope this is alright…
This was a beautiful little boy I met with when we were doing a coop build in Bukedea.
This is my current room at the TASO guest house in Mbale. I ended up only staying at the Cure Hospital one night.
Joe Doing business at the local lumber yard for materials for the chicken coops.
Peter, TASO’s Special Projects Manager. Peter is a wonderful person who has been answers tons of my questions, and overall just been amazing.
Poultry Project workshop in Tororo, Uganda. This is where new participants got to learn all about the Poultry Project, as well as instruction on how to take proper care of their new chickens.
The amazing chicken coop design by Emily Axtmen. This is the number one reason the Poultry Project is here this year. Be sure to check out Emily’s blog to learn more about the awesome design and her trip to Mbale.
Coop build in Tororo, Uganda. Joe using the very technical water jug measuring technique…very very technical.
Emily Axtman and myself switch roles… she picks up the camera, and I pick up the hammer. Here I am with my man Eric doing some coop building.
The internet sucks here, so this is it for now. Hope to check back in the next few days.
April 30th, 2011 § § permalink
Words can’t express how I feel…
Today as Prince Williams married what ever her name is (no offense), someone very dear to me left this earth. Erin Glaser, some one who truly changed my life for the better died this morning from cancer. Erin was an amazing, wonderful, inspiring, thoughtful, loving, caring, energetic person. I only spent about 2 years really being around Erin, but that was more then enough time for me to learn from her how to be a better person. We had our ups and downs, but in the end, I love her very much, and she will always hold a special place in my heart. Even though we have not spoken in a long while… I will miss you very much Erin. I will never forget what you have done for me, and will cherish the good times we had. The world won’t be the same without you in it…
~May there be calm seas on your voyage home~
April 12th, 2011 § Comments Off § permalink
Projects from the heart…
Well I guess you all can tell by now that if I make it sound like I will be keeping up this blog bi-weekly, I really mean every few months. I have to be honest here, I am really just letting down myself. However, I will not spend much time writing this blog from negative-ville. All is well and I have some great stuff to share. It has been more then a few months since my last post, and because of encouragement from a few individuals who will remain nameless (Jason, David), I have been inspired to get this blog moving again. I have been in a constant state of cleaning up and organizing the last 6 months or so, so hopefully as that happens I will be able to easily post more frequently. I digress…
I am going to keep this some what short, and to the point due to the fact the coffee shop will be closing in 45 mins., and I know myself… once I get home I will not feel like writing more tonight. So come on Coffee!!! Kick me in to high gear on this wonderful Friday night!!!
The main subject of this blog post… Wonderful, amazing, inspiring people, that I have met in these last few months through jobs, walking the streets, and volunteering for amazing non-profit organizations. My first case in point Ashley Poland. I ended up meeting Ashley because her boyfriend (Andy) who owns his own web development company (notebookmedia.com) hired me on to do some photos for promotional stuff. Andy happened to ask me if I wouldn’t mind taking some extra photos of him, and his girlfriend who happened to be in town. He then filled me in on the fact that Ashley has cancer, and that she was going to be in town getting treatment that weekend. He told me that he would really love to have some nice photos of them together, as well as some just of her. Well, there was no way I would pass that up, so I told him I would most definitely do that. Meeting Ashley was truly a wonderful experience. I know it sounds super cliché, but she really made me think about life, the people I love, and most importantly the idea of constantly being positive. It is no secret that Ashley is going through a hard time, but you would never know it if you were talking to her. She seems so happy and so full of life. Hanging out with such amazing people like those two (don’t forget, Andy was most certainly awesome as well) really made me remember why some of the shit in my life is really not that important, and that being a positive person is a very important, if not the most important aspect of life. I truly believe this, and try to remember and put this into effect everyday. Ashley, I admire you and your strength very much. I wish nothing but the best for you in your life, as well as for you Andy. You are both super amazing people and I feel so fortunate to have met the both of you!! I would also like to thank my wonderful assistants, Lissa Brian and Codey Garaux for helping me out. In particular for standing out in the freezing cold with no gloves, and for the mad sprint back to my car. YOU GUYS ROCK!!!
Now we hit the streets!!! I don’t have a ton to say about this series of photos because it is very much the beginning, yet I still wanted to through a few up and talk about my invisible/ street portrait series. I am really working (slowly) on two separate, yet very similar projects right now. One being the continuation of my invisible series, which is photographing individuals that are homeless, in an environmental portrait fashion. The other being a simple street portrait series that I am doing for really no other reason then to get out there and talk to random interesting people. I am not going to go into huge depth on this one just because there is not much to say at the beginning of both of these projects. Rather, I am just going to show a few of the portraits.
The one thing I did want to mention is the idea of how I am approaching this. Not that this is new by any means, but I am doing these portraits with a portable strobe, with my buddy/lighting assistant Bob, carrying it on his back, and then attaching the light and soft box to a boom. Other photographers have done this before, but I do feel it’s not quite the norm. I feel most “street photographers” tend to only use natural light. Which don’t get me wrong, I think that is amazing, and you can never really beat natural light, however, I just so happen to prefer the studio lit look. I prefer the light quality and like having more control by doing it this way. Again, I simply use a portable strobe pack, that is carried in a backpack by my buddy, using only one head with a soft box, and typically a soft grid to light my subjects. Really a very simple but effective setup. Thanks Bob-O!!
The last little project I want to tell you about was my experience working with Flashes of Hope (flashesofhope.com). Working with them had very much the same type of effect on me as I had while photographing Ashley. Flashes of Hope is a national non-profit organization that has photographers around the country, volunteering their time to go to hospitals and photograph children/young adults who are battling decease. Some people are too sick where they can’t even leave the hospital to get a family/individual portrait, or in some cases are so busy with other things that they really just don’t have the time, and since they unfortunately have to be in the hospital so much we (FOH) bring the photo shoot to them. Like I mentioned earlier, photographing people who essentially have life threatening diseases and yet still stay so positive and so joyful, is truly a remarkable thing to see, and to be able to be in the presents of that. I felt so lucky to have met some amazing people in the process.
A super special thanks goes out to my friends, Stephanie Kinder and Jaime Giembusz for helping me out with the Flashes shoot. They are really why the shoot was such a success, and why the kids had a wonderful, enjoyable experience… which at the end of the day was our main objective. Thanks ladies for the amazing help!!!
If you would like to donate to Flashes of Hope, go to Flashesofhope.com where you can find a donate section on there website. I really believe in this organization and hope everyone gets a chance to check them out.
Although these 3 projects are not huge commercial, editorial, or advertising jobs, they have a lot of meaning to me, and I would hope to the people I am photographing, and to me that has a much larger impact on me and my work. The last few years I find myself getting more and more excited to talk to practically anyone and learn about who they are and what their life is like. Whether it’s a hard life or a life more typical, I find what people say to be very interesting. I have learned more about different directions I might want to take some of my work in the past few months, and then I think I have in a while. Because of these recent projects, and people I have met along the way I know I will put even more effort to work with some more non profits, locally as well as abroad… starting with a trip I will be taking to Uganda this May to work with the Poultry Project as well as TASO. Working with these organizations has been something I have wanted to do for a long time, and now after constant delays I will finally be traveling to Africa to work with some NGO’s (Non Government Organizations) that I feel are doing wonderful things and really making a difference in peoples lives. I am planning on doing my best to post a blog entry every other day while there (but we will see how that pans out), so please keep up to date with my trip there. I know this will not only be an amazing experience for me as a photographer and probably even more so as a life changing journey.
The last thing I have for this somewhat lengthy post is just to mention some wonderful friends of mine and links to their sites….
- Whitney Traylor, is a great friend of my who now lives in New Zealand, who will tell you that she doesn’t really consider herself a good photographer, yet one look at her work and you will know that is very much not the case!! She has such a creative spin on everything she photographs. Be sure to check out her wonderful images from New Zealand on her blog.
- Darren Hendrix, who is a dear buddy of mine from school. He currently lives in Seattle and is just KILLING IT with his fashion/life style photos!!! This kid one day said, “ I think I am going to start trying to shoot some fashion-ie stuff”… and about 3 months later he had an unreal portfolio. This guy is all around amazing!!!
- Laura Webb, is a Cleveland based photographer who is really making a name for herself here in Cleveland. I am lucky enough to get the opportunity to help her from time to time. She has her own unique creative style whether she is shooting music, fashion, commercial, editorial, etc… All around an amazing, inspiring person to be around!!
- Jessica Scranton, who I had the pleasure of working with when she came to do a shoot here in Cleveland. She is a Boston photographer, and is by far one of the coolest people I have ever met!!! She has done work all over the world, including NGO work over in Africa, which particularly interested me. It’s not very often that you meet someone for two days, and feel really inspired by them, but that was definitely the case with Jessica.
- Jeff Downie is hands down probably the best fashion photographer I know in Cleveland. He is also probably the hardest working photographer I have ever met. I hope one day to have half as much talent as this guy has. Not only does he have unbelievable images, but also he has such a way of making his subjects feel so relaxed, and so comfortable that he is able to get images that no one can.
Even though I have much more stuff I could share right now, I am going to stop here. I have much to plan, and much to do before I leave for Uganda on May 13th. I am going to try and get one more post up before I leave, but if I don’t…. I’ll post from across the pond.
Thanks everyone for your continued support in everything I do. It is always much appreciated!!
December 13th, 2010 § Comments Off § permalink
Photographing myself for a change…
I am by no means a big self portrait kind of photographer, so this is pretty rare. I have probably taken about 6 real self portraits in my whole life. Not sure why I don’t do more stuff like this. Other photographers I know seem to really get into it. This wasn’t really a planned shot. I was shooting some photos yesterday for this book I am collaborating, on with my boy George, and this just so happened to be a test shot in between photos. I thought the lighting was kind of cool, even though it was a rather simple set-up (nothing wrong with that). I later messed around with this photo a bit in Photoshop by adding a grudge texture as an overlay.
Seeing as how this is a once in a blue moon occasion, and for some reason I actually kind of dig the photo… I decided I would share it.
P.S. Yes, I have a fohawk… What, you want to fight about it!?!?! Just kidding…
December 5th, 2010 § Comments Off § permalink
My 3rd visit to G.O.H.S. proves to be one of the best…
Senior Photo Class
On the Tuesday right before Thanksgiving, I returned to visit the
GlenOak High School Photo program. This was my 3rd visit to the program,
and every time I get invited to come and speak it gets better and
better. The students in this program are truly remarkable young
photographers, who all have very bright futures ahead of them. I had the
opportunity to look at much for the student’s work, and was truly
impressed with the quality that they are producing. Some excelled in the
creative use in Photoshop, others with outstanding portraiture, and
everything else in between. Even though I am not some older veteran with
50 years experience, I hope they were all able to get something from
listening to me ramble on about all of the different elements of the
Mrs. B (the most awesome photo teacher) had the students have questions ready for me, which made it much easier to figure out what to talk about, and really answer what questions they had. I got the usual questions like, “Canon or Nikon?”, “how did you pick what school to go to?”, “how do you afford to buy your equipment?”, “what is your favorite, and least favorite part of photography?”, and my personal favorite “where did you get your tattoos done?”. Everyone had great questions, and showed a very professional interest in what we all do as photographers. I remember the first time going to speak I was worried that the class would be full of a bunch of disrespectful, punk high school students, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. I could tell that everyone has a love for what they do, and were all super professional.
Talking a little bit about gear and why a compass is very important to me
Shooting tethered, and using a grey card
I have no idea what the hell I am doing here, but I look deep in thought
Checking out some of the students work
And even more amazing work
This visit was once again a wonderful experience, and whether the students realize it or not, they very much inspire me when I go there, so hopefully they get a bit of the inspiration as well when I come around. I can not wait for my next visit in the spring, along with the proposed Saturday lighting workshop. Thanks to everyone for making my 3rd visit the best yet!!!