Thursday, December 29, 2011

out with a bang

Scarcely pausing to draw breath these last six months, I've been shooting almost non-stop, making images I am truly proud of. I visited Iceland, the Salton Sea, Vegas, Death Valley, Joshua Tree National Park, the Mojave Desert and some amazing places locally.

egrets & antlers
egrets & antlers © Laura Kicey

distant relations
distant relations © Laura Kicey

fox dry mode
fox dry mode © Laura Kicey

family of four
family of four © Laura Kicey

giants in miniature
giants in miniature © Laura Kicey

into the sunset
into the sunset © Laura Kicey

cook © Laura Kicey

god love bible
god love bible © Laura Kicey

rungs © Laura Kicey

our place
our place © Laura Kicey

sunburn © Laura Kicey

pelican brief
pelican brief © Laura Kicey

Most recently I became a contributor to Hidden City Philadelphia and my last assignment led me to making arrangements with the Philadelphia Port Authority to tour and make a photo essay of the soon-to-be-demolished Mustin housing in the south Philadelphia Navy Yard.

brick barracks (50s)
brick housing (50s) © Laura Kicey

community center/daycare facility
community center/daycare facility © Laura Kicey

And this lead quite unexpectedly to meeting up with WHYY/NewWorks reporter Emma Jacobs for a conversation about my experience there and about exploring abandoned places in general, which will be airing on the radio (!!!!) Friday (tomorrow!), December 30, 2011 between 6-7pm EST. If you are not local to Philadelphia, you can listen to WHYY here live. They will also be showing some of my photos from the Navy Yard online as well as a video of the interview, in which I look like a hot mess. I was expecting to be making a videotaped appearance that day, I was expecting to be shooting outdoors in the rain and dressed accordingly. Oh well.

To cleanse your eyes of such things, I offer a slideshow of the best of 2011:

(better viewed on flickr)

There is so much I missed posting about these last few months, including one of my Lensbaby photos being featured in a full page ad for the Sweet 35 running in most popular photography magazines for the past couple months! but! to make up for my lack of presence a bit, I am having a 2012 calendar giveaway. I try to lay low for Christmas, but the New Year I can get into, so to celebrate I am giving away two calendars. All you have to do is leave a comment saying you would like to be entered in the drawing - you can do so here on the blog, on my Facebook Fanpage, or an reply to @helveticaneu on twitter. One entry per person, one winner per household. You must enter by midnight EST, December 31, 2011. The drawing will be January 1, 2012. You can pick whichever calendar you like from my redbubble shop.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

the people's choice

Dyrhólaey rock
dyrhólaey rock © Laura Kicey

Hello my dears. In the eleventh hour before setting off to Iceland for a second time I entered my first Iceland book blindhæðir in Blurb’s PBN contest and I was just told I was nominated for a People’s Choice Award. That means I am open for voting in the Travel category - you will have to scroll down and look for it (or search laura kicey), and it does require email registration in order to cast a vote, I apologize, though if you have Blurb account already, you are set.

That link again:

steamy swedish babe I
steamy swedish babe © Laura Kicey

I also invite you to share this post if you are so moved. I am vying for a $1,500 prize, which I promise to put to good use (likely making the second Iceland book which I’ve started writing). It is a good feeling, whether I win or lose, that my book was selected by a very impressive group of judges to be on the Travel shortlist of 110 entries.

tanked © Laura Kicey

Many thanks for your time and I hope you enjoy the preview of the book even if you choose not to vote. Takk fyrir!

bareback © Laura Kicey

If you want to see a nice edit of my latest Iceland expedition, which includes some of the images I've put in this post you can check it out on my website here

Also for fun, there is this, the first two unbridged rivers I crossed in Iceland... out of a total of 26 river crossings that day...

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Saturday, July 09, 2011

closing a road and opening a door

Many, or maybe most mornings I awaken at an ungodly hour, usually between 5-7 and I scan my emails and social media. Quite frequently I fall back to sleep doing so and my dreams weave in the muddled contents of the (often strange) messages I receive. This morning was almost one of those mornings. 7am on a Saturday, one rabid follower of Icelandic social media, with a trip only a few days away awoke and had a scroll through the twitter feed and stopped dead in their tracks.

moss islands
moss islands © Laura Kicey

Last week (only because I am constantly looking for such things) I kept seeing different media outlets threatening that Hekla was showing signs of erupting. SOON. While this initially made my blood run cold, I dug more into what I could find from English-speaking Icelandic media and there was a great deal of poohooing over the huge hype being made about how terrifying and destructive Hekla is (actually since it is not positioned in a glacier, eruptions are actually less disruptive because they do not lead to glacial melting and thus flooding and historically it creates also less ash and more lava flow, which is less disruptive of air travel - unlike the recent eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull and Grímsvötn - both of which are located in glaciers and produced lots of ash from contact with the glacier meltwater.

And Hekla did nothing and continues to do nothing.

expanse of kilometers
expanse of kilometers © Laura Kicey

And then this morning things took a turn in another direction and it looked like Katla, Iceland's largest volcano located near Vík in the south, had had a minor eruption overnight which caused some glacial melting and this caused flooding which washed out a bridge just east of Vík. COMPLETELY SHUTTING DOWN THE RING ROAD for a sizable stretch.

sandra and the strand
sandra and the strand © Laura Kicey

The very stretch I would have to be driving one week from the day in order to get to our first accommodation in the southeast. Panic sets in and I realize that there is no point in trying to go back to sleep. It will not be possible. In one anticlimactic burst, had our entire trip just been ruined? I start receiving a pile of messages from Sandra who had been up for hours and fully aware of the situation. We started exchanging some tweets until she asked for my presence on Skype. I made an offhand tweet about the wall our expedition just hit and added #Katla. In moments I had the attention of one "disaster expert" Gislio Olafsson who I had started following around the time of the Grímsvötn eruption. He was asking me what my itinerary was like and what kind of car I was driving. He was swift to report that though there was currently no ferry to circumvent the area (which was my hope), there was the possibility to reverse the trip direction... which for us proved difficult as we had to meet up with Ugglan on a particular day to go to the Westfjörds, where things were booked quite solidly. The Icelandic Road Administration announced that rebuilding the bridge was a top priority but would still take 2-3 weeks to complete. Our other option was another road... through The Interior via Fjallabak!

I had not even given entering The Interior a thought. It is still a bit of an unknown quantity, a vast uninterrupted wilderness, with no permanent fixtures of any sort, shops, nor residents. Rugged rocky roads that were only open two months out of the year due to snow cover the rest of the year. Road that were dissected by rivers one had to cross or turn back.

Basically DANGER. And here we are, looking danger in the eye. Momentarily Sandra and I thought, well, we could cancel our first couple nights stays and make the major 8+ hour drive from Reykjavík all the way to the southeast corner in one great race and then double back along the Ring Road the way we initially intended. Or, grow an adventure to full stunning size. Gislio also threw in the temptation: "There is a route called Fjallabak (north) that involves a few unbridged rivers (mainly small ones though) that 4x4 can pass...Fjallabak is a beautiful route - passes via Landmannalaugar which is one of the pearls of the highlands." And so it is...

So Sandra and I put our sleepy heads together on this and decided to call the car rental company and see if we could snag a small SUV for a non-astronomical sum. It tuned out we got a Suzuki "Jimmy", which is the shame SUV if ever there was one, but for less than $1000 more than what we paid for the compact car for the entire two weeks. So it had been decided, we were going to cross rivers and go through The Interior. Gislio also told us that they were also working on making the Fjallabak route passable to 2x4s as well though it would take some time. Who knows when? Meanwhile tourists are stranded east of Vík trying to get back to Reykjavík. Some will undoubtedly have to double back around the country. I cannot begin to picture what this road and its rivers will be like to cross, and hoping that there is not much rain in that window so they do not rise any more. Even with some visuals it is hard to know what we'll be getting ourselves into until we are in it. Exhilarating and terrifying.

Besides having to likely skip the beauty of Vík, having this more powerful SUV will definitely put us at an advantage in some spots where we were unsure if we would be able to make it over rough roads, especially in many places in the Westfjörds. This will definitely help us expand our scope a bit which is really exciting and something I dreamed of, but dared not hope for, thinking it out of reach price-wise. Since I have a few good shoots lined up for when I return as well as another temp job beginning, I'm hoping I can glide through the bills and bounce, and hopefully some interested folks will want to buy some prints in the aftermath. I will also make another book as something of a companion to this from 2009 which I made public only yesterday to enter in Blurb's Photography Book Now contest under travel. I am also hoping to incorporate some other media by way of mini-iphone compatible books with images and video from my iphone "notes" I take along the way with Blurb's mobile app.

starlight © Laura Kicey

Lest you think I've been resting on my laurels, fretting over volcanoes and doing nothing else, it has actually been a few weeks. A couple weeks back I actually had the pleasure of photographing Dick Hayne's estate and farm, Doe Run. Mr. Hayne is the billionaire owner of the Urban Outfitters/Anthropologie/Terrain/Free People empire.

once © Laura Kicey

And while I can't share the photos just yet, let me say that it was breathtakingly beautiful and the landscape design and architecture were so inspired. I had just visited Chanticleer for the first time the week prior and truly, it was on par with that level of creativity in horticulture. I *can* share some photographs from Chanticleer to whet your whistle.

glory © Laura Kicey

fall and spring
fall and spring © Laura Kicey

thirst © Laura Kicey

the gardener
the gardener © Laura Kicey

sanctum © Laura Kicey

white carpet
white carpet © Laura Kicey

At the spur of the moment a couple weekends ago, I was asked to step in and follow Philadelphia's up and coming Welterweight, boxer Mike Jones for a piece Goldberg was doing on him for Philly Weekly, while he was in town for a fight vs. Raul Muñoz.

mike jones © Laura Kicey for Philly Weekly

We started off by attending the weigh-in which is typically the time where the fighters flaunt their stuff a bit, playing up the disdain (real or not) for their opponents and besides getting weighed, they also pose for a lot of photographs. The one above I liked as it was in between the schlocky guns blazing/number one finger up pose they all pull, and he looked somewhat vulnerable. I also pulled him aside to take some portraits of him in this room so full of men and testosterone, I felt like starting a fight right then and there.

who is mike jones?
who is mike jones? © Laura Kicey for Philly Weekly

The next night was the main event at Asylum Arena in South Philly, which is a very old school boxing ring, no frills. Jones fight was the main event but there were eight fights altogether that same night starting around 7pm. Fighters in all weight classes from all over the world were there. Some of them didn't look old enough to be in high school. We spent most of the evening in the Blue Corner's dressing room. The main room was devoted to the other 7 fighters entering the Blue Corner of the ring and the dressing room at the back was for Mike Jones and a couple of other guys who had his same manager, Doc Nowicki, who kindly gave us an all access pass to wander around freely and photograph whatever and wherever we wanted all night.

mike jones
mike jones © Laura Kicey for Philly Weekly

mike jones
mike jones © Laura Kicey for Philly Weekly

Unlike a lot of the other guys, Mike was not the showboating type. Everything about him was quite restrained and introspective, save when he got to the ring. He barely talked to anyone, there was no entourage, no flashy gear, you barely even noticed when he came and went from a room.

mike jones
mike jones © Laura Kicey for Philly Weekly

mike jones © Laura Kicey for Philly Weekly

mike jones
mike jones © Laura Kicey for Philly Weekly

About two hours before the fight itself, one of the crew starts wrapping his hands which is a process that takes quite a bit more skill than one might expect. And time: almost an hour and a half! After he is wrapped, he is stretched out on the floor and has all his joints opened up and flexed.

mike jones
mike jones © Laura Kicey for Philly Weekly

mike jones
mike jones © Laura Kicey for Philly Weekly

mike jones © Laura Kicey for Philly Weekly

After the stretching he gets his gloves on and spars with his coach for 15-20 minutes. His face is covered with ointments... for what I am not sure (analgesics? sweet sweat to help stay warmed up?) and then he gets his robe on just as he is leaving the room.

Since I had been mostly staying in the dressing room, I had only attempted to shoot a couple rounds of fights earlier in the evening. Since it was being televised the perimeter of the ring was tightly packed with media and photographers and large videographers stands with sound guys. My first go took me off guard i must admit. The ring is quite high, and for someone my height, I had to practically lay my entire upper body on the surface in order that I might shoot under the ropes. Also I was in a corner which made it even deeper. No flash is allowed and even though it is extremely brightly lit, those guys are lightning fast and even with a burst in AI Servo it is a challenge to get anything in focus and unblurred. And the bouncing... the ring is not completely stable, it has suspension so that when a fighter falls it isn't like hitting concrete, it gives. But this also means that as you lean in, what you lean on is shaking wildly beneath you, adding another layer of... um... challenge. Then the fighters come right at you, fast, and if you do not move they will hit your camera, and even then you'll probably get sweated on. And I did. If not bled on, which I did not.

Mike Jones made it pretty easy on me. Round One came and went quickly. And he knocked the guy out in Round Two at 2:29. A very tidy and quick victory. It was pretty fun to watch "our guy" reel it in and be marched around the ring with his hand up in the air, and talk with the press afterward. When the interviews were all done and the wraps cut from his hands he slipped quietly back into the night alone. The slideshow of my images is up on Philly Weekly.

Also recently I promised a fashion editorial and now I deliver! Stacey had the rather genius notion to combine the romance of Gibson Girls with 70s-flavored menswear with loads of striped inspired by riverboats in days of old. I give you the sun-drenched River Queen

model: kristina s. @ wilhemina
wardrobe styling: stacey appel
makeup & hair: april al-zahrani
photography and post: laura kicey

river queen
the river queen © Laura Kicey

river queen
the river queen © Laura Kicey

river queen
the river queen © Laura Kicey

river queen
the river queen © Laura Kicey

river queen
the river queen © Laura Kicey

river queen
the river queen © Laura Kicey

river queen
the river queen © Laura Kicey

river queen
the river queen © Laura Kicey

river queen
the river queen © Laura Kicey

river queen
the river queen © Laura Kicey

river queen
the river queen © Laura Kicey

river queen
the river queen © Laura Kicey

river queen
the river queen © Laura Kicey

Check out her crazy green eyes! Wow. Did we ever have fun and such a beautiful day for shooting, it was a blast.

So now I must be off to bed so I can get a bit of rest in before the trip. I have a deep suitcase to pack and some last minute researching to be done in light of recent events. Please be advised, if you have any interest in such things, will be selling prints via my etsy and redbubble of new images from Iceland upon my return. Of course sales will definitely help offset the new greater cost of this growing expedition. Also for the more passive stalker I will be posting images of where I was the day prior on my "other" tumblog - I have scheduled posts to coincide with areas I've just left, hopefully they remain somewhat accurate, but only time will tell. Keep your eyes trained this way until the end of July and then upon my return I will get around to posting images on my personal tumblr.

That should keep you busy! I know I'm forgetting something somewhere. Oh! Lensbaby like the shots from the editorial so much that they included some in their Sweet 35 Optic gallery on their site! Filter in the optic menu by Sweet 35 to see some more...

I expect I will only have the barest bones of internet access here and there, and frankly would like to just unplug completely for the full two weeks, but you never know when I may suddenly reappear. Until then... bless bless!

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