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First Friday w/ Allison Carenza

August 4, 2010

Fact: I’d never heard of “First Friday’s” prior to last Friday.  I just felt we should get that out of the way.

Folks, if you live in/near the Kansas City area and aren’t sure what you’d like to do this Friday (8/6/2010)*, may I offer as a suggestion attending “An Evening of Art”, from 6-10pm at 325 Southwest Boulevard, KCMO.  The headline act of this shin-dig is none other than one Allison Carenza, of fame.

The theme (her theme) is “Indonesia”, which you astute geography buffs already know is just west of Oakland, CA.

I had a chance to engage in a little Q&A with Allison recently regarding this event, and quickly realized that this was/is definitely Frothy-Worthy material.  So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce Mrs Allison Carenza:

Pants: Can you tell me a little bit about the trip to Indonesia?  How is it that you were able to go there and take all these photos?

AC: I love to travel, always have.  Jon and I knew we wanted to go somwhere exotic, and 3rd world.  I like to get away from the westernized cultures, so when I read the book Eat, Pray, Love I knew it was meant to be.

Pants: When did you get into photography?

AC: I’ve been taking pictures for as long as I can remember.  I took courses all through high school and college, since then I’ve been learning from books, internet, and trial and error. It’s just always been a big part of who I am.

Pants: What sort of things are you looking for in pictures?  Scenic landscapes which are inherently beautiful?  Contrast?  Color?  Mood?  Etc?  What is it that you want to “say” through photography?

AC: Mood definitely!  I feel so close to the Earth so I think that’s why I’m drawn to take pictures of it.  I also love people in their natural element with their natural expression.  I don’t think all pics need to be of people smiling.  I want people to feel when they look at my pictrues.

Pants: Color vs Black & White?

AC: I like both color and black and white.  Sometimes color adds to the mood of the image, and sometimes it takes away from the mood so I make it black and white.

Pants: How’d you end up in Indonesia?

AC: The book Eat, Love and Pray.  It sounded exotic, natural, and cheap.  We researched online and found a trip that fit our adventurous style.

Pants: How long were you there?

AC: A long time, but it went so fast.  About a half a month.  It takes 2 days to get there and back so we were gone most of the month of July in 2009.

Pants: What was it like?

AC: The people are amazing in Bali.  So nice and willing to help.  We felt extremely safe.  We could even leave our bags on the beach with no worry of theft.

Pants: What memory stands out the most?

AC: Oh my, I have so many memories it’s really hard to pick one.  One morning we got up before the sun and went out on a 4-person outrigger to watch the sunrise while dolphins jumped in the waters around us.  It may sound too good to be true, and it was.

Another memory was when we reached the top of Mt. Ringani.  After hiking for 8 hours I was blown away by the view and the fact that I made it.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  We sat on the crest of the volcano and watched the sun set below the clouds over the ocean.

Finally I loved the little moments I shared with my husband Jon.  One night we went out in search of a local bar that was showing the Wimbledon final.  We found one and watched Federer beat Roddick.  We were of course cheering for our American, but it was fun.

Pants: What image, in your opinion, comes closest to capturing the feeling you’re trying to convey?

AC: I think all my signature images collectively convey the mood.  Overall Indonesia is a chilled out, exotic, tropical paradise, but what I really want people to see that the beauty of the island and it’s people is way more powerful than the poverty.  When Jon and first arrived in Indonesia we were shocked by the poverty, filth, and lack of safety among the locals.  Whole families would ride around on mopeds with no helmets; babies even, just sitting in their mothers arms.  Anyway we were definitely in culture shock.  A few weeks later we left from that same city, and when we left we were shocked we ever thought it was dirty and poverty stricken. It was beautiful.  It definitely changed us.  I hope others can see that too.

Pants: And you also do portraits, yes?  What do you like best about that?  Is there a guiding set of principles that you’re considering when taking portraits?

AC: I guess my only guiding principle would be to make people feel good, if they feel good they’ll look good.  I spend a lot of time in the shoot talking to my clients, getting to know them, and making them laugh.

Pants: Is each person immediately visibly unique, and you know right away which type of photo you’d like to get of them?  Or, is it more about discovering it as you go?

AC: I definitely discover as I go.  People usually come in a little tight, and uncomfortable.  My job is to get them to relax. Sometimes it’s so easy, and sometimes it’s not.  Either way I love the challenge.

Pants: What about the art?  Like “Lotus”; what’s the story there?  Did you photograph that?

AC: Lotus is a picture printed on a 3ft square canvas with a finish that makes it look like a painting.  I shot it when I was leaving a temple and bent down to look in this muggy pond when I noticed this one lonely lotus.  It was beautiful.

Beautiful indeed.  Check it out this Friday.

* Note: As far as I know this isn’t in any way a celebration of the 65th anniversary of the US dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, so be apprised that the use of nuclear and/or thermo-nuclear (or “Nuke-you-lure” for you Bush fans out there) celebratory devices is strictly prohibited.


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