An Alexander in London

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SUN SHADES | FOREVER 21 HOT PINK RIBBED SWEATER-KNIT CROP TOP |
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MEDUSA MINI BLUE CLUTCH/CROSSBODY

THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY SAKU NEW YORK

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When it comes to working with photographers, I'm quite selective. There's really only been one person aside from myself that photographs street style for me, and that is my husband, but when I had to travel to London and he had to stay behind, I needed to find someone reliable and with quality (which my standards can be very high... eek!) but when a new friend of mine from this year recommended someone she had worked with, I took a look at her Instagram and was immediately open to her style and vibe. But like any first encounters, they can be a bit awkward, even nerve-wracking to some, but Elena and I had commonalities such as a passion for photography, both Eastern European, and same headstrong go-getting kind of attitude. We broke the ice quickly. 

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But when the time came to shoot, her camera suddenly was not turning on. At first, we (I know a thing or two about cameras) both thought it was just the battery/sensor that had a small dust or something on it and we tried to clean it. Nothing. We took out the memory card and restarted the camera again, and tried many other crazy things one photographer will try to get the camera to work (this is definitely part of the problem in the digital world, yeah?) again, but to our dismay, nothing was happening. We finally ended up at a camera repair shop about a five-minute walk in central London.

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 When we arrived, Elena saw a man with a Canon body similar to hers, and immediately wanted to test his battery on her body. He was happy to do so, but it still didn't solve the problem. Her camera was still not turning on. A technician in the shop finally assesses her body and battery and can confirm that there is something wrong with the body. She was disappointed as everything was fine that morning (as I know me, myself, a photographer will check to make sure everything is working before even leaving the house!) and on top of working with me, she had 3 more clients that day. She tapped away into her phone before the man with the Canon, named Alexander, popped in once more.

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Overhearing she had to work for fashion week that day, Alexander, 'Alex', straight up offers his camera to her, with no expectations. At first, Elena refuses, even at some point offering money herself to borrow his camera. He says no and then asks for one thing in return. If she ever needed an assistant and just had the time to give him a few tips, and he was not a professional photographer, that would be the next best thing. I honestly have to say that meeting Alex and his friend Amelia the way that I did was something you don't have happen to you every day. What are the odds we'd all be in the same camera repair store in the heart of London on some random weekday in the middle of the afternoon and for this to occur? It's as if as just when I start to think that the world is just crazy and that's that, an angel descends down to earth and I mean... wow. I am still so touched by one person's kindness. All thanks to an Alexander in London, my first shoot was a success! 

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Photos by: Elena Gola

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The House of the Angel

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THE HOUSE OF THE ANGEL

photographer SUZANNE SPIEGOSKI

stylist SUZANNE SPIEGOSKI

hair STACEY PALANCIA

makeup STACEY PALANCIA

model HANJING (ANGEL) ZHENG

Clothing credits

Look 1 Sarah Swann Two-Piece Track Suit

Look 2 deux A White Shirt Dress

Look 3 & 4 Layana Aguilar Black Dress // LELET NY Butterfly Necklace 

Look 5 & 6 Floriane Fosso Winter Shearling Coat // LELET NY Silver Earrings & Bobbies

Look 7 Sarah Swann Detachable Green Fur Hood

Look 8 Sarah Swann Grey Marl Coat 

Look 9 Forever 21 Burgundy Dress // LELET NY Poppies Wide Headband 

Look 10 deux A White Shirt Dress (Styled differently from Look 2)

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Henry Leutwyler Interview — Document

Document   Book Cover: The .38 caliber revolver used to assassinate John Lennon. (Photograph by  Henry Leutwyler )

Document Book Cover: The .38 caliber revolver used to assassinate John Lennon. (Photograph by Henry Leutwyler)

When I think of my favorite genres in photography: portraiture, still life, crime-scene - I never imagined it could be all be done by one single photographer. That's until I discovered Henry Leutwyler. He is best known for his celebrity portraits and his work have been published in the likes of Vanity Fair, National Geographic, and Vogue. In his new book, Document Henry encompasses a vast range of objects from iconic moments owned by fascinating people throughout history, pop culture, the arts and sports. These fields include his very own heroes (and villains because "not everything in life is cute"), as Henry carefully archives the good, the bad, and the even the ugly, or rather tragic.

Such as the captivating cover of Document, which displays the .38 caliber revolver that killed John Lennon, each photograph offers a humanizing chronicle of society: Where we've been and where we're going.

Audrey Hepburn's Valentine portable typewriter. (Photograph by  Henry Leutwyler )

Audrey Hepburn's Valentine portable typewriter. (Photograph by Henry Leutwyler)

The objects are completely separated from their contexts and owners (excerpts are cleverly hidden in the back of the book) and what remains and what's been left behind, are traces both in a historical artifact-like nature and one where dreams are made of. A masterfully crafted book of an unconventional collection of 124 images such as Mahatma Ghandi's sandal, Julia Child's madeleine baking tray, Jimi Hendrix's red Fender, Gene Kelly's beaten up Converses, the mechanical prop hand from the original 1933 King Kong movie, and more, it has taken over a decade to complete.  

So when I had the pleasure to sit down and talk with Leutwyler, I had lots of questions. The biggest question? What 'pulled the trigger' to get going on such a demanding (and expensive) series. The initial idea of conveying stories through people's possessions in Document really came together after working on two specific but isolated projects. It first started when Leutwyler was commissioned by the Elvis Presley Estate roughly ten years ago where he spent nearly a month photographing Elvis’ personal effects, including his comb, eyeglasses, prescription bottles, toy cars and gold-plated microphone. Even down to Lisa Marie's birth certificate. 

He then went on to do an assignment for Mother Jones on gun control. Leutwyler by chance came across the .38 caliber revolver used to assassinate John Lennon. While he ended up taking a photograph of that gun, the start of something bigger began to brew. And this is what helped jumpstart Document

John Lennon's blue-tinted sunglasses. (Photograph by  Henry Leutwyler ) 

John Lennon's blue-tinted sunglasses. (Photograph by Henry Leutwyler

Andy Warhol's paintbrush. (Photograph by  Henry Leutwyler ) 

Andy Warhol's paintbrush. (Photograph by Henry Leutwyler

"Photography is not open heart surgery on newborns. We don't save lives. While I believe we're not performing heart surgery, I do believe photographs have the power to change the world." -Henry Leutwyler

This is precisely answered my next question – what's the 'big picture'? The consistency of the book is rather subtle but profound. Leutwyler's minimal style strongly express the right to think and feel. Nothing is instant. When you look at the photographed objects you want to stare for a while, you want to touch them; smell them; perhaps even reminisce in with feelings of nostalgia, melancholy, triumph, rage, sadness, joy. All very raw human emotions. But what underlies in Document is not its sheer beauty of mementos/sentiments and the way it can be carried through your own memories, but the power it has to compel you to learn something.

And to make an impact on the world, Leutwyler decided to use the first photograph that started it all, the photograph of the gun that assassinated John Lennon and donate all proceeds of the sale of the print to Everytown, a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Something's gotta give and Leutwyler is doing just that.    

Of course, I had to mention a few of my own favorite heroes, and yes, perhaps villains. My father would have loved to see Muhammad Ali's glove. In fact, he met him once in person at a hotel in Indiana. We both loved watching boxing films together, a tradition going all the way back to the original 1979 film, The Champ. I still cry to this day watching that movie. And I'm still madly in love with the art of boxing. See how much can be grabbed from a single image? And all precisely from an object of the rich & famous. 

Other favorable mentions: Bob Marley's hat and guitar, along with Bob Dylan's harmonica, Jimi Hendrix's red Fender, and Michael Jackson's glove. Some of my all-time favorite musicians, they all had something special and I think that's what, maybe partially, set their destinies and certainly helped change the world as well. I am still mesmerized by their music to this day and that, at least to me, is significant. Even just looking at the objects, I can hear the tunes and feel the beat in my heart. It makes me want to dance and shout all at once. But only if I can jump into James Gandolfini's Cadillac while doing so (and yeah, tagging along a few of Avedon's 'tools' for a shoot of my own.) 

James Gandolfini's Cadillac. (Photograph by  Henry Leutwyler )

James Gandolfini's Cadillac. (Photograph by Henry Leutwyler)

Richard Avedon's studio A-clamp. (Photograph by  Henry Leutwyler )

Richard Avedon's studio A-clamp. (Photograph by Henry Leutwyler)

Portrait by  ©   Suzanne Spiegoski  

Portrait by © Suzanne Spiegoski 

FUN FACTS


  • FIRST LOVE: STILL LIFE

  • BIGGEST FEAR: DEATH

  • BIGGEST PET PEEVE: I DESPISE ENTITLEMENT & ENTITLED PEOPLE.

  • GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: BEING ABLE TO MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH.

  • GREATEST REGRET: CAN NEVER BUY BACK TIME.

  • IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE?: NOTHING. 

  • FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHER: MR. PENN. UNRIVALED TO THIS DAY.

  • FAVORITE FOOD: JAPANESE

  • FAVORITE PLACE IN NYC: THE NOGUCHI MUSEUM

  • FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD: VENICE, ITALY

Leutwyler will be exhibiting photographs from Document at the Foley Gallery in New York City beginning November 3. I'll be attending the opening reception, so stay tuned for a recap of the event through my Insta Stories & SnapChat! 

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Source: www.henryleutwyler.com

How to Take the Best Pictures of Your Dog

WEARING: LASSO DOGS LEASH & CAMERA STRAP | UNIQLO DOWN VEST | 
BDG JEANS | CHIC ALLOY MATTED SUNGLASSES |
NIKE REVOLUTION 3 RUNNING SHOES IN BLACK | LULULEMON RUN WITH ME NECK WARMER

Happy Monday! I've been working hard on creating the best content I can for you guys! I'm booked up solid until the end of the first week of November with new upcoming stories, as overwhelming and crazy as it's ever been, I cannot wait to share everything we have in store for you! From more fall looks to even a special feature interview, today we're covering how to take the best pictures of your dog! Here are 8 tips on making this somewhat challenging task more enjoyable for everyone involved. :)

1. CARRY HIGH-QUALITY EQUIPMENT

This goes without saying. And I'm not talking technical equipment such as the camera or lens, but other factors that need to be considered when doing dog photography. Like a 100+ pound wolflike dog that will need a good steady leash in between takes, which is why I use Lasso's rudder leash and matching camera strap. What's great is the customization options Lasso has - you can choose length, size and colors for each. I went with a 36 inch camera strap because of my small petite frame, but you can choose from a selection of lengths. Same with the leash. And I can't forgot about footwear and eyewear. When photographing MaQ, I will always be in sneakers. My go-to pair for the past year are the Nike 3 Revolution running shoes. And recently, I've been obsessed with the Chic Alloy matted sunglasses. If I can't see and/or move for photo shoots, we might have a problem. :) 

2. PERFECT TIMING

I'm not talking about f-stops or shutter speed, but more about being in tune with your dog's energy and vibe. Looking for a regal portrait? Draining your dog's energy with exercise before the shoot can help you and your dog be in a more calm, relaxed state. If you're opting for more action shots, the photo shoot itself will provide the exercise! Save that energy for this kind of shoot. This also goes with trust and training. It has taken a lot of time and work to get MaQ to pose the way he does. Our bond is undeniable and it shows in our pictures, but when people ask me how I get my dog to be so still and focused in photos, it's all on training, timing and dedication. 

3. DECIDE ON YOUR LOCATION/BACKGROUND

Will you two be in a park? Or on the streets of a bustling city such as ours in this post? Being prepared comes in handy when shooting with your furry baby. Know what to bring for certain settings and environments, such as warmer months of the year, carry water to stay hydrated. Extra batteries never hurt either. The more aware you are of your surroundings for a shoot will only better your comfortability and chances of getting the shot(s) you really want. That's where the magic really starts to happen!

4. KEEP SETTING/ENVIRONMENT NATURAL & RELAXED

It's important to get your dog used to the sights and sounds of his surroundings as well. And it's even more crucial for you yourself to try and stay as calm and relaxed as possible. I try to stay away from squeaky baby-talk or shouting uncontrollable things to my boy during a shoot. Calling his name once or twice is usually enough, though sometimes like a teenaged kid, his attention span lessens and I have to get a bit more firm with a 'watch me' command. When he hears this, he knows it's time to stay focused. And he is ready to please. All in all, the goal is to always make any experience a positive one. One that is fun & engaging for both of you!

5. TAKE A LOT OF PICTURES

I've always believed in out of the ten times you're trying at something, doesn't matter what it is, you may get one good bite/hit/whatever word you would like to insert here to describe it. This also applies in taking pictures. The more you take, the better chance you'll have in getting those amazing shots. Candid ones are the best in this type of scenario. And the more time you spend with a camera, the more you will learn and grow in the process. 

6. TURN OFF FLASH

In my opinion the best form of light is natural sunlight. It is perfect for pet photography too. However, if you really need to use a flash, especially indoors, try to use an off-camera flash and turn it upwards so the light's bouncing off the ceiling and not your dog giving them demon eyes. Ha ha ha! 

7. GET YOUR DOG'S ATTENTION

Stock up on dog treats and toys! Positive reinforcement also brings an overall positive experience. Each time you reward your pooch after getting the shot(s) you want, makes the time spent together an awesome one. How can you get your dog to look straight into the lens of the camera? Bring their favorite toy or treat and hover it over the camera to entice them. For example, MaQ, like many German Shepherds, has an extreme high level of ball drive, so we use his all-time favorite Chuck-It ball for photo shoots. He could focus on that ball all day long. This is a great way to get their undivided attention. :)

8. GET ON YOUR DOG'S LEVEL

Literally meeting eye-to-eye with your dog will help them see you as an equal, that it's not an alpha moment but an experience to share together. And a good one at that! By also doing this, you can think outside the box in terms of angles and composition as most think to photograph their pet from above first. So get ready to get on the ground and perhaps get a little dirty... trust me it'll be worth it! ;)


Sponsored post in collaboration with LASSO & DRESS LILY.

photos + videography by Gilles Decamps & Suzanne Spiegoski

Our latest pet lifestyle video, 'How to Take the Best Pictures of Your Dog!' 8 Tips + Full story on the blog at www.suzannespiegoski.com and to get more info on the featured leash & camera strap go to itslasso.com photos + videography by Suzanne Spiegoski & Gilles Decamps Be sure to Subscribe for new videos every week http://bit.ly/21XFK0K 

LOVE & XX'S,

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Monstera Deliciosa

MONSTERA DELICIOSA, SELF-PORTRAIT SERIES, AUGUST 30TH, 2016.

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PHOTOS BY: © Suzanne Spiegoski 

When it comes to my work in self-portraiture I rarely if ever photograph myself in the nude, let alone publicly show any of the photographs. Self-portraits are not easy to do, in fact, it's the most challenging subject I have ever had. Well, so far... we'll see if that'll ever change. ;) But the more involved I become in the torrid affair that is - one with the camera, the more open I am in the relationship. When I first started 'dating' the camera, I was always so anxious to start clicking away. Now, don't get me wrong. I still get that feeling to this day. But there's a more calm formality to it now. With time and effort, a shitload of patience, and experience, I've learned quite a bit. But that shouldn't stop there. Never stop learning. 

This past year has been all about taking risks, good and bad, perhaps even downright ugly when I come to think of it. But the more chances I've taken, the more rewards I've been given. Does it have anything to do with money? No. Vanity purposes? Not at all. To me, self-portraiture is all about the relationship you have with yourself and with the camera. To know oneself is to know many, in my belief. What better way to know how to photograph anyone or anything? No, not every photographer does self-portraits, and they shouldn't have to nor need to be a good photographer, but it's a wonderful path to self-discovery and in my opinion, one of the best forms of self-expression. Being first and foremost a writer, there are sometimes feelings... stories... concepts that I cannot put down in words. With photography being my other medium, it aids me in releasing vulnerabilities I didn't even know were there. 'A picture is worth a thousand words', and sometimes the image of a subject can convey its meaning or essence more effectively than a description does. I get the best of both worlds as someone in the arts. I'm very fortunate to be able to do what I do. And I never forget it.

Lastly, today I had the immense pleasure and honor of interviewing the wonderful Henry Leutwyler at his studio in downtown Manhattan. He is a wonderful photographer with a new book coming out this Fall that'll I'll be writing about on the blog! I can't wait to share my experience with Henry and his amazingly talented work. You are going to be blown away! Just utterly spectacular. I'm so excited about this story! Stay tuned... in the meantime I'm doing another recipe this week and step-by-step video! It's got a ton of avocados by the way..... :)  

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