Monday’s Inspiration – Charles Marville

Charles Marville was a French photographer born in 1813, who mainly photographed architecture, landscapes and the urban environment.

Marville achieved moderate success as an illustrator of books and magazines early in his career. It was not until 1850 that he shifted course and took up photography—a medium that had been introduced just eleven years earlier.

Widely acknowledged as one of the most talented photographers of the nineteenth century, in the 1850s Charles Marville was asked to document the old quarters of the French capital by the government’s Commission for Monumental Historical Monuments. Marville purposely took the photographs of Paris’s architecture and streets scenes when it was raining, so that the soft diffused light mixed with the rain on the cobblestone produced a picturesque image that elicited a feeling of perfection.

Marville photographed the city’s oldest quarters, and especially the narrow, winding streets slated for demolition. Even as he recorded the disappearance of Old Paris, Marville turned his camera on the new city that had begun to emerge. Many of his photographs celebrate its glamour and comforts, while other views of the city’s desolate outskirts attest to the unsettling social and physical changes wrought by rapid modernisation.

It has been said that Charles Marville accomplished “documentary perfection” with his images of Paris before it was destroyed by Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann’s urban renewal projects. Charles Marville’s body of photographs is one of the few records left of Paris before 1870.


Haussmann not only redrew the map of Paris, he transformed the urban experience by commissioning and installing tens of thousands of pieces of street furniture, kiosks, and Morris columns for posting advertisements, pissoirs, garden gates, and, above all, some twenty thousand gas lamps. By the time he stepped down as prefect in 1870, Paris was no longer a place where residents dared to go out at night only if accompanied by armed men carrying lanterns. Taken as a whole, Marville’s photographs of Paris stand as one of the earliest and most powerful explorations of urban transformation on a grand scale.

By the time of his death, Marville had fallen into relative obscurity, with much of his work stored in municipal or state archives. This exhibition, which marks the bicentennial of Marville’s birth, explores the full trajectory of the artist’s photographic career and brings to light the extraordinary beauty and historical significance of his art.

Creativity takes work

When I first started on this journey, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I tried every type of photography, copied emulated until my black and white photography found me.

Even though I found myself in black and white photography, I was still unsettled. I needed more and I wanted more. Through a lot of research, I came across the work of many photographers and the ones that stayed with me were Michael Levin, Joel Tjintjelaar and Julia Anna Gospodarou and so much more. What stood out for me were the way the subject were portrayed. The way the viewer is drawn into the image. With each of these photographers work, each image draws you in and holds your gaze each time. I knew this is what I needed in my work but how do I achieve this?

I wasn’t any good at photoshop and I also hated sitting down to edit. Well, only one way to solve this is by doing the work. Learn to be a proficient user at photoshop, learn to tell a story with my image and most importantly work toward getting a style of my own.

Saying that the journey wasn’t hard and took me a lot of hours and most of all, a lot of patients. The best way for me to learn was to be thrown into the deep end.

Unity by Pamela Aminou
Unity by Pamela Aminou

The above image is the first one that I took on. It took me over a month to complete. Why? Before starting I had no idea how to make a selection or what the pen tool was. Well I had to learn. I had a lot of help from Julia for helping through this. When I started, I really did not know what I was going for nor that I visualised the final work. I had to ask myself what made me take this image at this particular angle. It reminded of people coming together hence the name UNITY.

There were quite a few things that learned in the short space of time but when you have your mind set on certain you just don’t stop.

From there, I took on one of the most complex images ever. Below you will find the starting image.After applying literally everything I’ve learned, I started to create more and more images. I concentrated on simple lines. I started to crave an little more. So to challenge myself, I started to work on more complicated images.

The first one being below which took me about a month to complete but bare in mind that I was just starting.


This brings me to the image that I’ve just completed. Here is the starting image.

Starting image

After 103 layers, here is the final image.

DX8A4341 copy

All in all, creativity takes work, how much is up to you.

Monday’s Inspiration – Charles Nègre

Charles Nègre  was a pioneering photographer born in Grasse, France.

He studied painting under Ingres and Delaroche, another of whose pupils, Gustave Le Gray, introduced him to photography. Delaroche encouraged the use of photography as research for painting; Nègre started with the daguerreotype.

After a short period of making daguerreotypes, he embraced the calotype process, becoming adept at retouching negatives and printing. He used his pictures as aids to painting and developed his skills as a landscape and architectural photographer.

In 1852, acting independently of the official Mission Héliographique, Charles Nègre embarked on his own photographic survey of his native Midi. Within a year, he had made 200 negatives of its scenery, towns, industries, and buildings (both old and new). However, the attempted publication of a subscription series 1854 quickly foundered. Other projects included pictures on themes of labour and street life (early 1850s), an unfulfilled plan to publish engravings from his pictures of the Holy Land, and a series of images—commissioned by Napoleon III in 1860—of the Imperial Asylum at Vincennes. He later retired in 1861.


The only way to find your voice is to use it

I wrote a post last week about how I was feeling. Although it is new for me to be this personal, I’ve found that this is the place where I can share certain things when it comes to how my emotions relate to my work.

You see my mental and emotional state affects my work to the point that I am unable to perform the tasks I have carried out a million times before.

I’ve never considered myself to be an emotional person but I am finding new things about myself. Although I am still feeling like I’ve lost a part of myself and my voice, the only way to find it again is by using.

Many of us including myself think that we have plenty of time to do things. But none of us can predict what will happen tomorrow. So if you knew that tomorrow wasn’t promised what would you do differently?

What would you share? Your knowledge, what you have learned?

We all have the opportunity to use our voices, to have our say but so many of us waste it. So what will you share will with world?

For the love of photography books

My first memory of books where of the Disney collections when I was about 4 years old. I had the entire collection including the audio cassettes of each story. My grand-mother use to read them to me at bedtime. I remember pestering her to teach me to read on my own and being a teacher she did not say no. I think that’s where my love of books started.

Now days I read a lot of different books by different authors thrillers, murder mysteries and also many photography books.

It is evident that I love photography. I love the freedom it gives me to create, to be inspired. Although I haven’t come anywhere close to owning every photography book or testing every camera I can share with you a few books that I would love to add to my collection.

At Work by Annie Leibovitz: A behind the scenes account by one of the most famous photographers of our time on her career, photoshoots and how some of her most famous images came to light.

Peter Lindbergh: A Different Vision on Fashion Photography: One of my favourite photographers, this book is a beautiful collection of four decades of some of the most iconic fashion photographs in history in his signature black and white.

Tim Walker: Story Teller: For those who see the world as a magical place… this is the picture book to end all. For those young creatives with imagination just starting out, Tim Walker Pictures, offers a glimpse into the artistic process.

Herb Ritts: L.A. Style: Some of the most beautiful black and white photographs of fashion, nudes and celebrities the world has ever seen by L.A. photographer Herb Ritts famous for his striking simplicity and powerful natural light imagery.

Passage: A Work Record by Irving Penn: One of my all time favourite photography books, this covers all aspects of Irving Penn’s work from fashion to portraits.

Hold Still by Sally Mann: An intimate dive into the personal history and life of the photographer herself. In this book, we see  into her esteemed body of work. It is a very interesting memoir.

Edward Weston: 125 Photographs: Containing some of the most striking nudes and still lives in the history of photography, this book is a timeless tribute to the quiet vision of a master photographer.

Imogen Cunningham 1883 – 1976: One of the most prominent women in the history of photography and a pioneer of photography in her own right, this book is a beautiful collection of her most striking photographs from portraiture, nude to flowers. This is a great personal study for me

On Photography by Susan Sontag: A marriage of ideals between the history of photography and what was happening culturally in America in the 1970s that still hits poignant moments relevant to today’s digital society.

Monday’s Inspiration – Samuel H Gottscho

Samuel Herman Gottscho was an American architectural, landscape, and nature photographer born in 1875. After attending several architectural photograph exhibitions, Gottscho decided to perfect and improve his own work and sought out several architects and landscape architects. After twenty-three years as a traveling lace and fabric salesman, Gottscho became a professional commercial photographer at the age of 50.

His son-in-law William Schleisner joined Gottscho in his business in 1935. During this time his photographs appeared in and on the covers of American Architect and Architecture, Architectural Record. His portraits and architectural photography regularly appeared in articles in the New York Times. His photographs of private homes in the New York and Connecticut suburbs often appeared in home decoration magazines. From the early 1940s to the late 1960s, he was a regular contributor to the Times of illustrated articles on wildflowers.

Gottscho believed he created some of his best work at the age of 70. In 1967, his botanical work won him the New York Botanical Garden’s Distinguished Service Medal.  He died in Jamaica, Queens, New York.

Approximately 29,000 of his images are held in the Gottscho-Schleisner collection at the U. S. Library of Congress.  Additionally, over 40,000 are held by the Museum of the City of New York, where an exhibition of his work titled “The Mythic City: Photographs of New York by Samuel H. Gottscho, 1925-1940,” opened in November 2005.  A third major archive of his work is held by Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia


Art and Soul

You may have noticed that there’s been a while since I have not posted anything other than the Monday’s Inspiration posts. There’s a reason why.

The last few months of last year and this year have been really hard on me. I have lost my grand-mother and it’s been very tough on me. I was raised by grand-mother and I feel like a part of myself have been lost since then. A truly significant part. I am still feeling quite lost as though part of me is missing.

So creating anything has been really difficult. I have been finding it difficult to focus and to do the basic of things. Although times have been quite confusing, I am at the place where I feel like everything is fleeting and fragile as though I’ve been running out of time and it is time to create something else.

I am at a crossroads where I’m questioning my purpose and I’m searching for my contribution to this world of ours.

And so the confusion continues. In the meantime, I am sharing with you an image I created last year and if you have any advice I’m willing to listen.

Have a great weekend everybody

Upstaged - Pamela_Aminou