Bella, Pratik and Wraith by Gidi Meir Morris

This might sound cocky. Actually, who am I kidding, it is cocky, but if I can't be cocky about something I've invested myself into for 15 years then what can I be cocky about? *

Anyway, what I wanted to say was that I know photoshop. Even, I might say, know it very well, and I don't believe any online courses are going to teach me anything I don't know. I've believed this for a while, and I admit its a mix of both knowing that all online courses aim for the beginner to intermediate, almost never to the advanced user and the fact that I'm being a little cocky.
But then came Pratik Naik and ruined my theory.
Pratik's course on CreativeLive caught off guard because I really wasn't expecting to learn anything from it, and about ten minutes into randomly tuning in, half way through the second day, I was already fumbling in my pocket for my credit card to buy the class. He is that good.

And so when he announced a month or so ago that he is coming to London to teach a workshop I grabbed at it (as in, subscribed to notifications on his news feed) by the coat tails and waited for registration to open. And then I went to look at Bella Kotak's portfolio.
I'd already noted Bella's name several times, as her images popped into my newsfeed and Pinterest feed from time to time, but I have to admit I never really followed her work. That was mistake number one right there.

Day #1: Bella

So I registered for the course and showed up on the day, with an slightly bored air about me, thinking I'll just watch Bella shoot some photos on the first day and then on the second day I can finally pick Pratik's brain, which is what I really wanted.
That was mistake number two right there.

The first day, in which I didn't just get to watch Bella, but under her guidance and precisely executed set of styling (dress by Kathryn Love), makeup (by Lydia Punkhurst) and modelling by Lulu Lockhart I also shot this new portrait, titled Wraith, which I'm not only extremely pleased with but also frustrated by, because I can't quite categorise it (which is why I had to change the "Wayfarer" category into "Wayfarer et al" and add it there).

The first day also reminded me of how easy it can be to just get together with some talented friends and shoot something incredible. I've been so fixated with not "wasting my money on studio rental" that I've spent more time scheming about how to execute a "perfect shoot" than actually shooting, and thats one of the reasons why 2014 has been so stagnant for me. Time to refresh everything, and Bella's example has really given me that knock on the head that I needed.
Things are now starting to move forwards again, thanks to her.

Day #2: Pratik

The next day was Retouching Day with Pratik.
I'm not quite sure what to say here other than... damn that guy knows his stuff. He really humbles me (other than that little bit of cockyness up there) and my supposed Photoshop knowledge, and he has given me some "mind fucking" tips which I'm now struggling to make a part of my regular workflow.
The problem with being experienced is that you're also set in your ways, and changing them is hard. But I'm working on it, and I believe that in the long run, Pratik's advise will really have an impact on my work.

I'll also mention that Pratik make's it his mission for his students to remain such forever and has given those few of us that attended an open invitation to call on his guidance in the future. I really respect that and think I'll take that advice with me.
I really miss my teaching days and once I get my own teaching back on track, I'll extend the same invitation that Pratik gave me, to my own students (as in, I'll tell them that if they ever have any more questions, they can ask Pratik. ;) Just kidding).

Summary

Bella and Pratik's workshop was brilliant. Period. Its clear that they are passionate about what they do. They have a purpose in life, and it radiates off of them both. They are also annoyingly genuine and sweet... which I can only be envious of. I know I have a tendency to close down in professional environments and I'd really like to try and be more like those two in that respect.

I also loved how important it is to them to create a community of professionals and artists. I have to give a shout out to my brilliant fellow students, and now friends, Leigh, Anna-Lena, Victor, and Mahesh, you are all so annoyingly talented!

* I accept the fact that you don't have to be cocky at all, but I'm still human.

'Rare Art' Exhibit and an apology by Gidi Meir Morris

I Think I owe you guys an apology.

When I relaunched my site last year I made a promise to keep this blog alive and kicking. So far it has been dead and decrepit, and thats my fault.

Over the past year I have been struggling to get my feet off the ground again. Having migrated from Sunny Tel Aviv, to Cloudy London, I have had a hard time finding my footing and getting my career running again. Photography is very much a reputation driven business which means moving countries can be very difficult, as your reputation essentially gets reset. This is even harder in a town like London which is both overrun by photographers (and artists of all sorts) and as expensive as a "world town" can be, where your savings get drained very quickly.
But these are no more than excuses.

Even though I've been able to get some nice projects off the ground during 2014 - Kalopsia, starting the Wayfarer series and getting some exposure through Wacom and Digital Arts magazine. I still feel it was mostly a year of stagnation.
And here we are in 2015, already a quarter of the way through, and very little has changed.
Its time for that hiatus to end, and to get things back on track, I am now pushing forward new projects and a reinvigoration of commercial portrait work.

Over the coming months I'll be completely refreshing my commercial portrait portfolio, already have several names lined up which we'll begin shooting in the coming weeks and this is only the beginning. Things are moving again, the break is over.

Rare Art by Exhibit Here

But commercial, as you know, if only one aspect of what I do. Fine Art, my longest running passion, plays a major role in who and what I am, and so reinvigorating my career can't be limited to commercial work.
Exhibit Here, founded by Leila Bibizadeh is an endeavour through which she curates Pop-Up Exhibitions across London. Her next exhibition will take place in the Menier Gallery in Southwark, on the 14th until the 18th of April titled 'Rare Art', and I'm glad to announce that no less than four of my large scale limited edition prints will be exhibited there.

The location of the Menier Gallery and the Rare Art exhibit

 

The exhibit of these four prints, which will include the first three mixed media pieces of the Wayfarer series- Only the WindsOnly the Breeze and Only the Chill and my photographic portrait of my Grandmother I've lost my Buspass, is very exciting to me, as its my first proper exhibit in London and its a good feeling knowing you're exhibiting work around the corner from the Tate Modern.

I'd like to give a shout out to (Makeup & Hair) artist Bella Noell, stylist Stephanie Tumba of Celest Lifestyle and the models Mélie Lemiére,  Constanza Zambrano and Lix Hewett, without whom those three images couldn't have been created. Not to mention Wacom and Digital Arts magazine for sending me a Wacom Cintiq of my own to create them on.

And of course my grandmother, whose portrait is beyond a doubt my favourite.

You're all invited to see the exhibit and though I'm not sure exactly when I'll be there, you're more than welcome to let me know when you plan to be there and I'll try and meet up with any of you for a chat and a glass of wine.

See you all soon.

Interview with DigitalArts magazine & feature for Wacom by Gidi Meir Morris

Cintiq Unplugged: Photographer Achieves Full Creative Potential

Wacom Online

 

When first testing Cintiq Companion, portrait photographer Gidi Meir Morris didn’t think the device was that ground-breaking. Then he unplugged it, and that changed everything ... Gidi is one of 8 professional artists who were selected by Wacom and Digital Arts magazine to give Cintiq Companion a one 30-day trial run.
Originally from Tel Aviv, Gidi Meir Morris now lives in London, trying to refine his own creative style of photography. Therefore, the 30-year-old visual artist has begun to focus more on the creation of fine arts – a process for which he finds Wacom tablets an essential tool: “Wacom has become an industry standard,” Gidi claims. He is convinced that every professional photographer should use such a tablet for the strong “level of control” over work.

Changing the workflow

When offered to test Cintiq Companion and review it from a photographer’s perspective, Gidi looked at the device from every angle. At first, he attached the mobile tablet to his laptop to finish a current project – just the way he would with his regular Wacom tablet. After a week, he knew that Cintiq Companion could do everything his usual tablet could.

Now it was time to move on and change the workflow: Gidi uploaded a portrait photograph from a recent photo shoot onto Cintiq Companion, then unplugged the device from his laptop and sat down on the couch with it. For hours on end, Gidi was immersed in his work, drawing and painting freely around the photograph. “That’s when I started to realise that this device is completely different from anything that I have.”

Lose yourself in the image

Painting directly on the image deeply impressed Gidi. In a Facebook video blog post, he declared: “I just sat there painting. I got lost in the image”. The tool made the him feel “like I had been thrown back to my childhood: I had gone back to creating something out of nothing, which is something I really missed as a photographer. The Cintiq really pulled that back out in me.”

Mobility counts: from the couch to St. James’ Park

Gidi loves that the device made him change his way of thinking about his workspace. “A lot of the things that limit you are actually in your head,” the photographer says. Cintiq Companion allowed him to change his routine, abandon his desk and move anywhere to work and create: “The first step was my couch, the second step was a coffee shop, the third step was St. James’ Park. I just sat there and painted, and that is something I could never do with my laptop and tablet.”

The Cintiq’s battery lasted long enough for Gidi to get a lot of work done outside. He was especially pleased with the strength of the Cintiq Companion’s processor. Once during the test period, the visual artist worked on a file that turned out to be 6 GB large. Gidi says: “Most laptops would struggle with a file that size, and I was actually really surprised that I could paint freely and work on the image. The device is much more powerful than I expected.”

Recommendable, but not for all

After one month of using Cintiq Companion, Gidi felt that it is “a very interesting tool to have” for all photographers who work on one single image for a long time. However, he admits that the device might not be recommendable for every photographer: “It really depends on the kind of photography you’re doing.” According to Gidi Meir Morris, especially those who sort through many files at a time might not get to use all creative options Cintiq Companion has to offer.

As for future Wacom developments, Gidi has the same request his fellow Cintiq Companion test person Estelle Baylis (LINK to the first review) has: Since the artist works with the Mac OS on an everyday basis, it took him some time to switch to Windows 8. “It’s just different,” Gidi says. Therefore, to him, finding a way to make Cintiq Companion run on Mac OS “would completely change the product for people like me.”

All in all: a huge asset

Gidi Meir Morris concludes that Cintiq Companion is a very useful tool for himself – especially as he is trying to move more into the fine arts, where, he claims, “art is mostly about what’s going on in your head and your heart. Therefore, being able to detach myself from my regular work environment is a huge asset.”

Kalopsia by Gidi Meir Morris

As I've mentioned in the past, my real passion has always been art. Much more than commercial work, it in art that I find most of what I'm looking for in my work.

To explore where I can get my art to meet my photography, especially my portrait photography, I have started collaborating with two talented creators - Stephanie Celeste Lifestye, who is a talented stylist and Bella Noell who is an amazing Makeup artist and hair stylist.

Together we are creating a series of portraits of women, trying to touch upon a feeling of anxiety, inner struggle and beauty.

The series, titled Kalopsia, is my attempt to bring my portraiture and art together.
Here is a small promo video we shot during the first shoot for the series.

I will be posting the first three portraits shot on that very day over the next few days on my Facebook page, and later here on the site.

Only Human by Gidi Meir Morris

One of my closest friends recently shared an interesting idea with me. 
She believes, as far as I could understand, that who we are, our soul so to speak, and I ask that you refrain from attaching any preconceived ideas you may have of this term, is passed along, after death, from one person to a next person.

She believes that each soul has a list of tasks to complete, a list of challenges, that this soul must face during the lifetime of the person it currently resides in. If this person fails to meet one of these challenges, to complete one of these tasks, then this challenge will move onwards with the soul to the next person it inhabits, and that person will find he must face this challenge as well. 

If, on the other hand, a person defeats this challenge, accomplishes some kind of goal, then their soul will move on to face the next challenge, and every person further down the line that this soul inhabits, will find life easier, as that challenge, previously beaten by their soul, could never present itself again, as they had already faced it in another life, and won.

The Kinneret, sea of the galilee, Israel

The Kinneret, sea of the galilee, Israel

Fascinated by this notion I searched my consciousness for some kind of awareness of previous lives or challenges faced and overcome. None came to mind.
If I have, in some form or another, already lived in another person, then I am not aware of it. Nor do I perceive any kind of internal struggle, some kind of persevering hardship I have been fighting for centuries.
If I am in fact defined by some kind of soul, participating in some kind of a recurring lifecycle, then I honestly don't perceive it.

I guess I'm alone in this fight... no past or future lives to lighten the load of the challenges I face. I'll have to face them my self.

If I am, in fact, just one person, with one life, no immortal soul with a lineage to share the burden with, then what is the point of facing challenges?
I mean if, in fact, I face some kind of challenge, head on, and beat it, then what happens when I die. Is that achievement lost?
Is there a way for me to, as my friend expressed it, prevent others who come after me from having to face that same challenge? Can I not, lighten the load, so to speak?

Southend On Sea, UK

Southend On Sea, UK

A year ago or so it was another friend who planted an idea in my mind. He had had a bad trip, he told me, one that took him a long time to get over.
Following that bad trip he found himself pondering an old Jewish philosopher's idea,which states that if the life of a single person is lost, it is as if an entire world is lost.
This pondering brought him to the realization that his perception of any person he had ever met throughout his life was not in fact an accurate depiction of who that person realy is. Rather his perception of said person was something else, made up of the sum of the interactions the two of them have shared, and hence this something is an entirely different person than whom that person truly is.

With this idea in mind, he expressed the notion to me that I had, in fact, created, throughout my life, and in the very depths of my mind, an entire world. This world is inhabited by all the people I had ever met through out my lifetime, but it is not inhabited by who these people truly are, but rather by unique people who are made up of the perceptions I have of each and every one of the real people whom I have actually met.
Each one of these people is not the person I have imprinted upon them, but rather they are a truly unique person, and hence an entire world exists in my mind and this world is made up of these truly unique people, who may resemble people I met throughout my life, but are all, in fact, people in their own right. Even if they only exist in my mind.

The direct result of this idea is this: If, and when, I die, this entire world, made up in my mind, and attached to people around me, will die as well.

Looking beyond my own mortality and that of the world which exists in my mind, I realize now that in the same way that such a world exists in mine, it also exists in that of every person I have ever met.
None of us truly know each other, we have just summarized each other into fictional characters whose sole existence is maintained by a single mind, in a single, oh so fragile, consciousness.

How truly small this idea makes me feel. How vulnerable. 
I could die at any moment and take with me so many wonderful lives, and they would never even know that they died, nor even that they existed.

Southend On Sea, UK

Southend On Sea, UK

In one of my truly favourite, though highly under appreciated, films there appears a character who was recently emancipated from a form of slavery. Facing her own perception of self, and leading the rebellion against the oppression which enslaved her, she made a very interesting observation:
"To be is to be perceived. And so to know thyself is only possible through the eyes of the other. The nature of our immortal lives is in the consequences of our words and deeds, that go on and are pushing themselves throughout all time.
Our lives are not our own, from womb to tomb, we're bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future."

I know this is only a film, and I probably do the author of the book on which it is based an injustice for placing my own ideas upon his work which has been crunched up though Hollywood's filter, but I find this idea very inspiring.
This woman made a connection in my head which I don't think the author intended me to make.

If it is our perception in the mind of others which defines our being, and it is only by understanding how we are perceived by them that we can understand who we are, then how can we truly know our selves?

I mean, if this idea is true, that each person's perception of us is unique and different, let alone different from our own perception of our selves, then how could we possibly define who we are by using others' perceptions of us?
That sounds like it could lead to a severe case of split personality disorder.

Pondering this I was leaning towards dismissing this character's entire philosophy. It just doesn't fit.
But then I realised something.
Perhaps I am misinterpreting her idea.

While it is true that each person has a unique perception of me, and hence my being can't be understood based on these multiple perceptions, maybe I am looking at this from the wrong end.
Perhaps when she states that "...to know thyself is only possible through the eyes of the other" what she in fact means is that in the terms of how we effect those around us, we can't measure ourselves based on how we perceive ourselves but rather we must measure our effect on others based on how we are perceived by the people around us.

Our existence, and hence our influence upon others, is limited to the perceptions others have of us.
If I wish to lighten the load on others by helping them overcome the challenges I have faced in my life, I don't need to have a soul which I pass on to others, what I need to make sure is that the imprint I have upon these people is strong enough to give them the tools, and the inspiration, to face their challenges head on. 

They must face them themselves, I can't do it for them, but perhaps I can make sure they are better prepared for the path ahead of them?

With that spirit in mind I would hope that my imprint upon any of you has helped lighten the load.
If it hasn't I appologize, for I too, am only human.

The Kinneret, sea of the Galilee, Israel

The Kinneret, sea of the Galilee, Israel