A Different Take on Portraits: Parallax in London

New York-based photographer, Ricky Chapman, is in London from 6 to 9 November to launch the follow up to his portrait series, Parallax. Comprised of just two shots per subject with no retakes or retouching except for contrast, it’s a way to capture people as well showcase photography as a medium and process. We had a quick chat with Ricky on his how this project came about.

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What was the inspiration for this project?

It was half a challenge for myself and a bit of a front to the industry. I had done a ton of commercial work such as portraiture for school and other people. There was something about it that was making me crazy and I needed to do something that was for myself. In New York, I have this great group of people that I care about and I wanted to start photographing them.

At the same time, I was really frustrated in the way the photo industry works nowadays with everything that’s so quick quick quick. Everything is digital and people don’t really understand the craft.

I said, “I’m going to take two photos. I wanted to do something that had a common thread.” You have a front-on portrait and I wanted to give another aspect of each person. But the actual each set, there’s only 2 photographs taken. If I make a mistake, there’s only two recorded and kept. There’s no retouching and it is as it is.

Why did you choose London as the follow up from your first series in New York?

That would go back to George. She was kind of the inspiration to do this here in London. She was living here in London and I was living in New York. It was a way for me to put myself here for a longer period of time and to give her time.

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You were able to fund this project through Kickstarter. How was that experience for you?

It definitely raised the money that was needed to get here and it took care of aspects such as shooting, travel, post-production and the show. I was glad to do it because aside from raising the money, it was able to get the project out in front of people before it even started. It was nice.

Seeing those people who supported your campaign, even if it was just $5, come out in person and see your work is meaningful. Knowing that they can now see this thing that they were a part of and that it wasn’t something that stayed online. It’s cool to see something online but to be able to stand in front of something physically and look at it; it’s a different experience.

What’s next for Parallax or any upcoming projects?

I’d like to take the next series to a place I’ve never gone before or somewhere I don’t speak the language. Maybe someplace like Moscow or some place in Brazil. Also maybe looking into starting a whole new project, something with colour, maybe.

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Ricky’s book will be available for sale. Orders of portraits and posters are also available.

Connect with Ricky:

Ricky Chapman Photography
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Visit the Parallax: London exhibition at 70 Paul Street, London EC2A 4NA.
Open from 6 to 9 November from 10 am to 6 pm.

To have your next pop up at this location, click here for more information.

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Pop Up Shop Story : Atomica Gallery looks forward

In a previous post, we shared the story of Finchittida Finch’sdf pop-up: a shop developed from scratch by a previously online-only business. This week we’re happy to introduce Atomica Gallery (@atomicagallery), one of the few truly pop-up art galleries which ran from December 4th – 24th this past holiday season. They’ve recently secured a long-term space in Hackney and we were eager to know what the journey has been like to go from pop-up to full shop.

We met up with Atomica Gallery founders Orla and Holly over coffee and brownies to hear more about what it is like to be a start-up gallery, and how the pop-up model has helped facilitate their goals and opened new doors. Holly is an experienced gallerist, working in both Sydney and Los Angeles with a number of the artists they currently show. And Orla’s background in promotion and events ensures that their openings generate a healthy buzz. Their penchant for the strange, retro, punk and pop combined in curious and lovely ways at their December pop-up. The relentless attention to detail both within the works themselves as well as their weird and simple curation proved that big explosions can be contained in small packages.

Orla and Holly came to their selected artists in an unconventional way, “Some of the artists we show have been close to us for a very long time. But we also love showcasing previously un-seen artists or those that may never have been shown in London before.” It was clear that a real challenge of curating a show with so many great artists to choose from – especially in a concise space – is the selection. For their pop-up, Holly and Orla printed out copies of all of their favorite artists’ work (hundreds!) and went through the process of whittling down to just a select few. But they are constantly on the hunt for yet-to-be-discovered artists in the UK and beyond, “We have a huge list of artists that we want to work with. We stumble across a lot of amazing artists through blogs and circumstance. So it’s not like we only want to work with established names, and we are always open to chance.”

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The Inside of Atomica Gallery’s Pop-up in Shoreditch

An Advisor at Hackney Business Enterprise encouraged Atomica to do pop-ups as a way to ‘test-trade.’ By launching a new project this way, fresh businesses are able to develop a strong sense of themselves and learn through experience without the risks and investment required for longer-term rentals. But sourcing a great space, for the short or long-term, is always a challenge.

Holly explained the difficulties they had locating and accessing the right spot for their pop-up, “When we were looking for our December pop-up space, it was really stressful. We thought of many potential places around East London initially, but as it was our first big showcase we wanted an area with high traffic, and that was already warm to the idea of a pop-up. Getting exposure and building a following was one of the most important things we hoped to achieve with our pop-up. Shoreditch seemed like an ideal part of town to get the kinds of visibility and interest we needed.” And so they set about with an unconventional campaign: dropping 1-page offers reading “We Would Like To Rent Your Shop,” into the mail slots of every suitable shop.

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Atomica’s Elegant Solution To Driving Footfall

Orla explained, “We got quite a few calls back, but a lot of people didn’t even know what a pop-up was, or else they expected that we would want the space over many months, and expected us to provide full fit-outs. A few weeks with minimal developments to the space was a hard sell. But we found a great place eventually.” While their pop-up was a success in terms of sales and exposure, their extensive list of artists and a growing catalogue of work meant that a longer-term space was in order.

Their new shop is part of a series of newly converted shop-spaces managed by Hackney Downs Studios. These new locations are playing host to a series of new businesses, from bikes to a bakery and all within 5 minutes from Kingsland Road – one of the busiest streets in the area. Their full-time shop will launch soon (stay tuned on the Atomica Gallery website), but future pop-ups are still a part of Orla and Holly’s future plans, “Because we’re off the beaten track in Hackney, it will give us a great opportunity to connect with a local audience. But we also want to make sure Atomica Gallery can travel to other parts of London and beyond. Some in West and South London, and we’re also thinking about Brighton. We haven’t confirmed anything yet, but doing a kind of tour would be great – a few days or weekends in new locations. We really want to make sure we have a chance to showcase our artists in places that wouldn’t see their work otherwise.”

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Atomica Gallery’s Founders: Orla and Holly

We asked where Atomica Gallery saw itself a few years down the line. Holly shared, “we have done this all on our own. We’re slightly in debt but it’s working. Our new shop is quite a small one. Our dream is to have two, so that we could have simultaneous projects on. The initial plan was to have ‘art for sale’ in one location seven days a week, and then a second with rotating exhibitions. We’re learning as we go. Every week is a learning experience. Anything can happen, really.”

We’re eager for their new shop to launch, and we’ll see you at the opening!

Follow Atomica Gallery on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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