This past month has been a whirl wind of experiences and opportunities.
From a family wedding trip gone solo vacation to New York City which lead me back into the offices of IMG Models and NEXT Models, allowing me to absorb information from the fashion and photography industries top leaders, to photographing for major clients, to stepping foot back into the classroom, to growing in demand for my work in the San Diego region, its been a hell of a month -- and yet amidst all the chaos I can surely say that I am enjoying every minute of it!
I'd love to share a personal reflection and what I was able to take away from these experiences, as to further elaborate my perspective to viewers drawn to my site to showcase who I am and why I do what I do. I hope that I can inspire you with these stories and provide some insight at the same time.
I believe the best photographer isn't in who has the best camera, or the best photoshop skills, but the person who truly sees life differently and I hope in some way my writing helps accompany my visual point of view.
New York City. Big city of dreams. I first arrived in NYC at the age of 22 geared up to attend the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Full of dreams, but no idea what they were. Still to this day I have my own qualms with attending Graduate school as early as I did, but at the same time I think it is a necessary part of who I am today, my beliefs, and my experiences. My department of Digital Arts focussed more on the philosophical aspect of art from a Fine Art perspective rather than the commercial art field I went on to work in. Which is why I feel my photography is unique. Because in my mind each piece is a work of art, not a photograph.
I worked my ass off, quickly executing class projects while interning and working for some of the photo industries largest players. Beginning at Art Partner (owned by Giovanni Testino, brother of Mario Testino) , I worked my way from lowly intern to capable producer, leveraging myself onset whenever I could with famed photographers like Terry Richardson. From here to Art and Commerce with the PRODn team with Steven Meisel and IMG Models working under VP David Cunningham.
Despite an amazing opportunity my inner creative longed to be on the forefront rather than the backend and I left to pursue new opportunities back to my native west coast of San Diego, California. I risked it all in this pursuit, with no job lined up, no major plan. Just listening to myself.
Leaving NYC was a hard and complicated decision, but I ultimately new it meant starting again. Something as an artist I have never feared and often embraced. I began work a teacher and creative strategist for a non profit called Outside the Lens with a mission I really believe in, helping get cameras and digital skills into the hands of those schools that otherwise would not be able to provide such an experience. The result has been humbling and taught me more than I think I could teach my students whom I am constantly learning from.
Determined to create a unique lane for myself, I can not say that I am there. Or that I am a success. Or that I know where the road ends. And I am okay with that. Everyday I am a work in progress and learning and growing in the process. I'm a firm believer in connecting the dots. I think life is a pattern, all the tools are there, all the paths are provided, and its up to us to put them all together. I'm still piecing my puzzle together, but can already say its weaving together beautifully.
Upon my return I was able to do some reflecting and compose a list of four bullets that have helped me push forward in life and in business. Come back tomorrow and I will share ten bullets from a man far wiser than myself from a book titled, Made in America.
1. Look at everything as an opportunity (work a shitty job? Find out what you can take away from the experience rather than focussing on the negative? Why does one item sell more than another? How does your attitude effect customer service. Be a sponge!
2. Understand you aren't hot shit...yet. And that there are people better than you. You may be confident and feel like you know everything there is to know, but that just isn't true. There are people more talented and more knowledgable than yourself. LEARN FROM THEM. BEFRIEND THEM. UNDERSTAND THEM. They will be able to provide you a wealth of knowledge and resources that helped them along the way. Look to them as mentors.
3. Treat everyone with respect. This is a big one. Not even to advance but just in general. You never know what someone is going through, what they've been through. Life isn't fair and sure as hell isn't easy so this is just a good rule of thumb for life. For business don't burn your bridges. That person that you thought was a doofus at your last job, may go on to create the biggest business you've ever seen. Treat them with respect and maybe when you need advice he'll open up the door to you.
4. Stay ahead of the curve. Stay learning. You can never know to much. Is there a new technology coming out that will impact your industry. Learn it. Use it. Free class or webinar you can attend? Go! The people that fail to succeed also fail to adapt. Don't let that happen.
Thank you for reading and I would love to hear from you! Send over a comment and share what lessons you have learned along the way! Maybe we can all learn from eachother!
I was vetoed by my girlfriend the other day to go see my movie of choice, Ant Man, for the new Disney Pixar film, Inside Out. As a huge fan of animation and Pixar in general my reluctancy was minimal and I my anticipation grew to relive my childhood glory days filled with inspirational films like Toy Story, Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo.
Inside Out features the story of a young girl during a traumatic move from small town life in Minnesota to the big city (San Francisco) and told through the personification of her emotions i.e. anger, joy, sadness, disgust, and fear. It is the first film I've seen for kids that addresses the topic of depression and handles it brilliantly using the emotions to display the main characters reaction to the world and events happening and changing around her as well as dabbling in explaining how our long term and short term memory work.
From an artists standpoint the film was magnificent. And not just for the dazzling display of effects we have all grown to love from Disney and Pixar, but for one scene in particular that crosses into an experimental territory for Pixar that I loved. As the characters head through the imagination section of the brain, their bodies are contorted to the different stages of abstract thought such as 2 dimensional and non figurative. Eventually the characters simply become lines running along the plain, a hilarious nod to artists and abstract theory.
While in my opinion Inside Out dragged on a bit, overall I'd give it an A rating and a must see, especially for those interested in the workings of the mind and those looking for a lead in to the conversation of depression, especially with children.
One of the most amazing parts of teaching is being constantly reminded why it is you do what you do.
As part of the Outside the Lens team, I am currently out of my traditional structured High School classroom element and over the past three weeks have been trekking throughout downtown La Jolla teaching multiple age ranges in multiple locations. The experience has had its challenges --lugging heavy equipment around in the San Diego summer heat, memorizing a new group of names and faces each week, balancing the brain from your high school vernacular and toning it down to your middle school speak --but nonetheless rewarding. It has proven to me that really in any circumstance as a teacher, no matter the type of student or the age range, that I can succeed and achieve rave reviews from students and parents. All this at the same time learning a completely new part of San Diego and finding a way to navigate through it (thank you NYC for conditioning me for this).This has lead me in some awesome spaces including the Coast Room of the Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla and the La Jolla Historical Society.
This summer I have been teaching a little of everything - The Big Picture ( aNature and Architectural Photography class, to Street Photography, to a new class I created called #Trending. I have been able to collectively tap into the resources that inspired me as a youth, all the while learning to hone and perfect the craft myself. In the Big Picture it was the work of artists such as the famed Ansel Adams and Julius Schulman who inspired us me in films like Visual Acoustics where Schulman explains how elements like adding people to his work really helped it take off and showcase a time past. The trailer for Visual Acoustics below and the full movie can be found on Hulu for free at http://www.hulu.com/watch/678465 .
On the nature spectrum we visited the work of world renowned photographer, Peter Lik, and with the help of Krystal Lawler, the Gallery Director for the Peter Lik Gallery we were able to engage in our own personal tour of the collection.
As my work began in fashion and portraiture it was fun to become a tourist along with my students and document the sites here in San Diego. Heres a few shots I got that I really love.
For Street Photography it was artists like Scott Schuman aka The Satorialist (whom I've had the opportunity to meet several times during NYFW with IMG Models) where I learned the principles and building blocks of my own website and ideology, the work behind starting your own website, the hours behind the scenes, and the laborious task of making sure you are sticking to the script EVERY day. Intels video for Mr. Schuman has always been a source of inspiration for myself as I began learning the fashion and street landscape so it was none other than imperative that I showed the clip.
In #trending I was given the task of teaching the social media landscape to middle school students in a way that empowers them to create content and share, but with caution and with purpose. To question the students with things like filters for their photographs and challenge them to understand why we hashtag, if a filter is necessary or important to a photograph, and examine what items and elements make a video/photo successful via social media. For the answers I looked to brands that have dedicated themselves meticulously and with much success to their social efforts such as a formed company I had worked for like IMG models, and how they use the page to document of the moment information as well as the videos of Levi Maestro, a young entrepreneur I had the pleasure of meeting at Reed Space in New York City a few years ago. Levi also is a self made photographer/videographer who started from humble beginnings documenting moments with his friends which lead him to success in the digital field all through the promotion he put out there on platforms like vimeo, instagram, twitter etc. In this class I was able to put my extensive knowledge of social media marketing to the task with years of experience from both companies big and small, trial and error as an entrepreneur for my own sites and ideas, and studies from San Diego resources such as Immersive Youth, a youth marketing agency that regular publishes tips and tricks to reach young audience viewership.
Learning new things is one of my favorite things to do. But there is something to be said about revisiting a topic you have already learned. It can make it feel new; feel fresh. For me, having the opportunity to relearn photography and media and disect it on the stage for each age group has been a learning experience for me as well. Passion, even the strongest kind, can fade. But only if you let it. The secret is to discover and remember and find new reasons why you love doing something everyday. Hell I think thats the secret to life.
O ya and we had some fun in slowmo. Shout out to Hilary from Outside the Lens for the edit.
P.S. Special thank you to Outside the Lens for giving me the opportunity to teach what I want in these amazing locations, to MCASD and the La Jolla Historical Society for allowing us to use your facilities and show the students why La Jolla is so amazing!
In addition to my writing contributions here on my own page I have also writing for the Outside the Lens blog page hosted on the website www.outsidethelens.org
My most recent post can be viewed on the OTL website live here
or simply viewing below. This month's article features the story of a true go getter and one of my students V, whose confidence and dedication is paying off, projecting him as the winner of the GUHSD Art Show and a finalist in the Museum of Contemporary San Diego art show!
Outside the Lens at the MCASD 25 and Under Exhibition
By Alex Ingram, Outside the Lens Media Educator
There is no greater feeling as a teacher than to see your students succeed in ways you could only dream of.
Over the past few weeks, several of my Outside the Lens students at Chaparral High School and I have been diligently working together to find new ways to get their work exposed. Whether it was for their recent exhibition, "Daydreamers", at the Outside the Lens Media Lab for which they created an Instagram page specifically for the exhibition's promotion (follow @daydreamers.otl), or applying to various gallery opportunities throughout the San Diego/Los Angeles region.
Vince "V" Anelli next to his photograph, One Time, which was selected as a finalist in the MCASD 25 and Under Art Contest
One of my students in particular, named V, asked me how he could get his work out there, and of course I was up to the task! We began scouring the vast internet landscape plotting a list of shows and deadlines. Fortunately, V is a self starter and his tenacity to meet deadlines was impeccable. It's a refreshing to see a young person so motivated and knowledgeable seek his way into the art world, determine his place therein, and navigate through with ease. On the momentum of his past win at the Grossmmont Unified High School District Art Show (First Place) and his class exhibition, "Daydreamers", held at the Outside the Lens Media Lab + Gallery at Liberty Station, V was also ranked as a finalist at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego 25 and Under Art Contest held at the MCASD Downtown location.
I was able to meet V at the MCASD show personally to congratulate him, document the work, and to support the budding artist. While he did not walk away with the win, he was not discouraged in the least and returned to class the following Monday, shooting and editing a self portrait and asking me the deadline for the Museum of Photographic Arts exhibition!
Interview with V on Soundcloud - LISTEN
Over the course of the two trimesters I've spent with V, I have come to know him not only as a student, but as a person. Never letting adversity stand in his way he holds his head high, proud, and confident as ever. It's a rare thing to witness someone truly develop into their own person, and I believe V is remarkably already doing what most of us only ever aspire to do - being himself and thriving in the process.
At Outside the Lens, we strive to empower all youth to find their voice and share their stories through photography and digital media.
Netflix has recently added the 1902 classic film, A Trip to the Moon, to its roster and I have to say if you get a chance watch it, due so immediately. This short is nothing short of groundbreaking. The sheer way that is filmed has a cinematic quality that I feel rivals that of major motion pictures filled with beautiful sets, an enthusiastic cast, and a simple plot that develops into an epic tale of human achievement. Theres a psychedelic quality to the film that takes you completely out of the real world and into the world of the explorers and their spacial endeavors.
Originally created and directed by Georges Méliès in black and white the film has been completely restored and painted with a new soundtrack from the band Air.
Compare the new version to the original and let me know what you think.
Which version do you like better and why?
Being able to share a gift is a tremendous part of my being and a large part of why I gravitate towards the arts. It allows self expression through a lot of soul searching and perseverance, along with all the research, technique, and technical training that one is able to expend.
As a teacher being able to use that wisdom to impart to your students is something beautiful. They can learn from your follies, build from your triumphs, and soak up your knowledge like a sponge.
I have been able to experience this with each and every one of my students and seeing it come full force as one of my students, V, was accepted into the Museum of Contemporary Art of San Diego 25 and Under competition. Its moments like this as a teacher where you can look back and truly feel proud to at least be apart of the process and hoping for each and everyone of them to reach higher and higher!
To anyone interested in voting for V's work in the competition log into facebook, search for MCASD, and like the post shown below under the album 25 and under contest! The competition ends June 5 so be sure to vote!
Link to MCASD Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/mcasd
Link to MCASD website: http://www.mcasd.org/
Self help books are everywhere. And advice of all sorts. Some with words of wisdom that help stretch and expand our mind and put us at ease - others that make us overwhelmed as we heed the advice making our missteps ever more present.
This is a short post I wanted to share and part of a greater hashtag I will be looking to share as June approaches.
As a southern California the beach for me is therapeutic and I'm not even much of a swim/surf type of person. Its just the sounds of the waves rushing back and forth in accordant rhythm, the wind feathering through your hair, the acknowledgement of being so small in a world that clearly has a lot more going on than any problem or worry you have in your own head.
My place of peace is the beach. And this month Id love to hear in comments from my readers where their place of peace lies.
"It's an incredibly meaninngful role to be able to help spark a young mind."
Working as an educator with Outside the Lens I am able to put into play all the minds that have helped build my repertoire of advice - pulling from stories and examples from those who have inspired me - all with different points of views and pathways to success. From the teachers before me who lead and inspired me from my photography instructor at CSUSM like Deborah Small, my thesis advisor at Pratt, Claudia Herbst Tait. Employers and leaders like David Cunningham and Kyle Hagler of IMG Models, Marianne Tesler of Art Partner. My mother and father. All teaching different lessons, but all with an overarching theme of dedication, hard work, and perseverance.
I'm a firm believer of connecting the dots. That all of these people and stories are brought into your life for a reason, imparted knowledge to you for a reason, and its up to you to pull and decipher what that knowledge was for, why the seed was planted, and how and why you will use it.
This week my students are in preparation for their second show, and progress and understanding of the process has come through full force, in terms of their work, submission process, and relaxed feeling - coming off the confidence and success of the previous show. In conjunction to their school work the students are actively submitting student work to statewide exhibitions and we got our first winner this weekend - V - who took first place at the Grossmont Unified School District Art Show. The show included works from all 13 High Schools in the District and its amazing to see what hard work and dedication to a craft can do. V is the type of person who constantly seeks advice, formulates new ideas, spends his time working on the weekends to hone the craft.
Everyday I'm inspired by my students and while for now I may the "know it all" imparting my 2 cents, I know its only a matter of time before they take my place. In fact I look forward to it.
Because how can you be the man you want to be, without learning from the men you want to be like.
9-5's are often skeptical of the schedule of a teacher. So your class only lasts 2 hours a day huh? What do you do for with the rest of your time? -- is a question I get from my friends who are not in a creative field. The truth of the matter is when you are in a position you enjoy you quickly realize that relating the time you spend to a definitive, quantifiable number is nearly impossible, and that odds are you are always working. Whether its researching a new idea to evoke to your students, or reading their homework and assessing new angles to approach the topics.. at teachers job never really ends.
I've found this to be the case on my "Spring Break" getaway which consisted of a whopping one day escape to Los Angeles. One that proved to be fruitful in conquest, but subsequently short lived and perhaps a bit of a hassle.
My Monday morning embark to Lala started with a late start and a rush to pack and hit the road, accompanied by Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. Some 2 hours, a headache and god awful traffic avenged I found myself in Glendale knocking on the door to one of my all time favorite artists, the talented Mr. Steve Harrington. I have always been drawn to Steve's work for its psychedelic and stylized properties, evoking a feeling I often receive as calling myself a Californian. Through chatting via email I explained to Steve about the non profit I work for titled Outside the Lens and why I think the company and its mission statement (getting art and media in the hands of all youth and teaching them to become empowered by it) is important to me and seeking ways he could potentially get involved. It was an awesome experience to open the door for future collaborations, view and meet someone I look up to and respect, and ponder new ways to grow the organization.
A teachers job is never over. Even on break my day was spent reaching out to the arts community on behalf of my organization and build pairings and relationships to strengthen our core vision. That the difference between having a job you are passionate about and one that you look at as a 9 - 5. Rather than counting down the hours so that I can go do what I want, I get the chance to do what I want everyday, find new ways to do it, and even better inspire others who may find ways to do it better than myself.
Preparing to leave L.A. on my day to I went to get coffee and spotted Steven Yeun aka Glenn from The Walking Dead in Los Feliz grabbing coffee and went over for an introduction talking to him about the season finale and his appearance on fellow artist, David Choe's radio show. Leaving that evening I felt humbled in my mini day vacay, and having the opportunity to escape reality for a day.
Day well spent indeed.
To accompany my Goodreads portfoli I wanted to share some of the new reads I've been picking up and how they've helped, influenced, or inspired me. As an educator I get the opportunity to see first hand how impactful a good read can be and how it can be used to develop anything from a lesson plan to my own perspective.
This week on an eventful weekend of napping and reading, I came across two books that I had to buy for the weekend. The first, a book titled, On the Shortness of Life iIs Long If You Know How To Use It, by Seneca which I first heard reference to listening to Tai Lopez (American businessman) The book is set to tell us that as humans we are prone to distraction. Ultimately saying life is fleeting however if you use it correctly and efficiently, life is just enough time.
The second book is Jimmy Carters newest book, A Call to Action. I first heard about this book on Jon Stewart when Mr. Carter was a guest on the show, telling of his heroics for water in Africa. In A Call to Action, Carter describes his beliefs on numerous topics including women's rights, power, and religion. I've only scratched the surface of the book but its very interesting to hear the scope of Mr. Carters life and how it has influenced him. Growing from a small boy on a farm to President of the United States.
I'll give a full review on the two in the next week, but wanted to set the precedence to the upkeep of this blog. Feel free to leave any comment or suggestions below.
Please find attached a link to my Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/alexingrammedia
Interesting forum with painted Jack Whitten. Recently had the opportunity to drop by the MCASD, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla to see Mr. Whitten's work and was deeply inspired by his process, subject matter, and themes as an African American male from the south.