Manhattan Street Performance: A Photo Essay

The process of developing my photo essay over the course of two months was an interesting one.  For worse or for better, very little of my original idea survived to the final stages of the process.

If this project taught me anything (in fact, it taught me many things), it is that sticking to your original vision of a final product can actually limit its development. As my Digital Layout professor KC Witherell says, “Don’t get married to an idea.”  This project, like all others at Parsons, put me to the test: could I gracefully allow my ideas and my work to change from my original vision?

When we were first assigned the project, I had my heart set on photographing the performers who jump on the subways and dance on the poles; I saw them everywhere I went during my first month in New York, and I thought that the way the performers affected the body language of the subway riders was very interesting.  People immediately cast their eyes to the floor, to the wall, anywhere but at the performers.  By betraying even the slightest hint of amusement or attention, it was as if the subway riders were entering into a contract with the performers: you must tip us.

Alas, the very day I decided to photograph the contrast between the performers’ body language and the subway riders’ body language was the last day I saw the subway performers until–get this–3 days after the final photo essay was due.  I spent the first weekend of the project riding around the city for hours until finally I decided to cast a wider net and photograph performers anywhere I found them, and any form I found them.  I photographed violinists, break dancers, saxophonists, children’s entertainers, bands; everyone I could find.  I tried to get close-ups of the performers’ faces and the spectators’ faces, looking for contrasts.

After the first critique with Michael Durham, former photojournalist at Life Magazine, it was decided that the close-ups weren’t really working, and in fact the most interesting photos were of the breakdancers.  Photos from days of photographing were discarded.

At that point, too, I needed to come up with a concept for the text that would accompany my photos when they were bound into my final book.  Luckily, with inspiration from Michael Durham, the idea to interview the breakdancers for my text came quickly, and the following week I went back to City Hall where I had initially seen the street performers to ask some questions.  After weeks of observing street performers, I had grown very curious about the lives they lead.

When I got to City Hall, I saw that many of the performers I had originally photographed were there again in the same spot, nearly a month later.  I watched a performance, took some photos, and then approached some of the men for an interview.  I am naturally shy, so the thought of choosing people as my subjects in the first place had been a bit nerve-racking; the thought of interviewing my subjects was even more so.  Ultimately, though, I’m so glad I chose to do these things for my work, because the results were so rewarding.  This is the work that I’m most proud of (so far) at Parsons.

With my photos taken and text written, I set about the task of laying out my book and then binding it.  This took some weeks of revision as well.  Some photos of my mock-ups:

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I decided to make my book into a circle accordion.  That way, my book would fit neatly into a cover and could be pages through as an ordinary book, but could also be displayed in a circle to mimic a street performance: photographs of performers in the center; spectators circling around.  I had to scale my book down slightly for practical reasons. Finding reasonably priced and manageable ways to print a document that’s 6.25 inches by 85 inches was unsurprisingly a bit of a mission!

Here are some photos of the (almost) final version (small refinements will be made before the end of the semester):

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Though the process was long, this was a project that I enjoyed from start to finish, and learned many things along the way.  I discovered that I love bookbinding, and that interviewing subjects isn’t half bad either.  I’m looking forward to producing many more photo essays in the future!

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What? Two Bottles? Start Looking Sideways…

Always roaming in and out of book stores and on book sites, a few years ago I saw the book The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher. I thought – what a visual feast. In some ways it reminded me of Bruno Munari’s book Design as Art. (BUT – not in size). The Art of Looking Sideways has over 500 pages.

The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher publish by Phaidon Press in 2001.
The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher
publish by Phaidon Press in 2001.

This book contemplated the differences between pictures as words – and vice versa. As Alan Fletcher states “the pleasing incongruities and serious science behind perception, process and the imagination that fills in the gaps”. A perfect book to review as we start exploring creative solutions to our bottle project.

Fletcher doesn’t set out to teach lessons. It is more of his experiences and insight that he gathered by – well – just being there and absorbing the world around him.

Here is a series of spreads from

The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher:

A spread from The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher

A spread from The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher



The Art of Looking is wonderful inspiration to visual awareness, an interesting compilation that will entertain and inspire all of you as you start to SEE the interplay between word and image.

• Here is a link to an interesting interview with Alan Fletcher:

• Here is a link to The Art Directors Club Hall of Fame page for BIO info.

NOTE: more on Bruno Munari’s book Design as Art from Google Books:’s+book+Design+as+Art.&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAGoVChMIzabT9uyIyQIVxT4-Ch3IzgA_#v=onepage&q&f=false

Cover for Design as Art By Bruno Munari (paperback).

Find past Munari posts about his books on this blog.

“Dare to be different” – Elsa Schiaparelli

The Lobster Dress: A collaboration with Salvador Dali.
The Lobster Dress: A collaboration with Salvador Dali.

Elsa Schiaparelli, known as the Queen of Fashion and the designer that gave a name to a color “Shocking Pink”(before a PANTONE Color of The Year), was the supreme innovator of dress design in the first half of the 20th century.

She went beyond the typical fabrics of the time – silk, linen, and wool. She was the first to use rayon, Lurex, see-through raincoats, and trompe l’oeil images. She certainly followed her own advice “dare to be different.”

See-through raincoat - early 1930's
See-through raincoat – early 1930’s

There was a period in her design career when she collaborated with such artists as Dali,Jean Cocteau,Alberto Giacometti, and others. Her designs went beyond “the dress”. They were concepts.

Schiaparelli’s creativity may be inspiration as you start your Bottle Project.

Here is a link to a radio interview with Meryle Secrest’s. The author of Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography.

A lambskin belt and suede gloves with gold metal talons - around 1936
A lambskin belt and suede gloves with gold metal talons – around 1936

Soviet Bus Stops | A Photo Essay

Book Cover
Book Cover

I was listening to BBC | NPR  Radio this morning.  There was an interesting interview with a photographer, Christopher Herwig.

The interview was a discussion about his travels across Russia, photography, architecture, and the publication of his book, Soviet Bus Stops (published by FUEL)

Hear a clip and see some of Christopher’s photos. As he put it -The “world’s wackiest” bus stops.

Soviet Bus Stops
Location: Gagra, Abkhazia

FROM CHRISTOPHER HERWIG’S WEB SITE: “Photographer Christopher Herwig first discovered the unusual architecture of Soviet-era bus stops during a 2002 long-distance bike ride from London to St. Petersburg. Challenging himself to take one good photograph every hour, Herwig began to notice surprisingly designed bus stops on otherwise deserted stretches of road. Twelve years later, Herwig had covered more than 18,000 miles in 14 countries of the former Soviet Union, traveling by car, bike, bus and taxi to hunt down and document these bus stops.”

Location: Saratak, Armenia
Location: Saratak, Armenia

I am going to look at all 157 bus stops – in color – as soon as the book is released in the U.S. What a photo essay!


A Career Grows in Brooklyn | Ingrid Carozzi | AAS GD 2007 |

ingrid_spreads_3We are proudly announcing the launch of Ingrid Carozzi’s new book “Brooklyn Flowers”. It was released on May 5th and was produced by one of largest publishers in Sweden, Massolit Förlag. It is a beautiful and highly informative instructional book containing simple flower arrangements made with methods used at Tin Can Studios. There are also lots of images from the Tin Can Studios as well as street scenes from the Brooklyn neighborhoods around the Studio such as Red Hook and Williamsburg. The gorgeous photographs were all shot by the critically acclaimed photographer Paul Brissman who used a Hasselblad, the professional photographers’ favorite tool. Eva Nyqvist was the co-author, who writes for a wide variety of publications such as Elle Decor and Gourmet. Sadly for us New Yorkers it is only available in Sweden for now but is being currently translated into German. There is already talk about books two and three…

Conversation with Ingrid Carozzi

Ingrid Carozzi has been gaining momentum since she graduated from Parsons and shows no signs of slowing down. Her successful flower design studio based in Brooklyn, with a second location coming on line in her native Stockholm, has orders through next year. She is currently booked through 2016 with TV appearances, an executive women’s conference, and an event for the largest auction house in Sweden. Some of the country’s highest profile companies are among her clients.

Ingrid Carozzi in front of her studio in Red Hook in Brooklyn
Ingrid Carozzi in front of her studio in Red Hook in Brooklyn

Ingrid credits Parsons for a great deal of her success. “Without Parsons, I would be nowhere,” she says. “I learned how to communicate well and how to critique work without offending others. This helps me with business because talented freelancers are very happy to work for me.” Her Parsons training also fortified her color strength, an essential talent in working with flowers. “I understand the properties of color — hue, value and intensity — after taking a great color theory course with Kelli Glancey.”

Color Theory Applied
Color Theory Applied

She also was able to improve her sales and marketing efforts as a result of becoming a solid photographer at Parsons in my Process and Skills class. “You can create the most beautiful floral arrangement in the world, but if you cannot capture it, it won’t matter how good you are.” 

 “You need to know how to brand yourself,” explains Ingrid. “My experience in graphic design was essential for my success. I am able to design, build and update my website as my business blossoms. As a former PR person I know how to market myself, too.  These are all things that Parsons helped me to understand. It really is one of the best design schools in the world”.


After graduating from Parsons, Ingrid was presented with a slew of freelancing opportunities. It was a request from a former colleague from the Swedish Chamber of Commerce (SACC) that led to her watershed moment. “SACC asked me to come up with some ideas for floral arrangements for the Royal Green Award Gala Dinner at the Mandarin Hotel which was attended by the King and Queen of Sweden.” At the time, she had been designing business cards and branding for a salvage wood company called Recycled Brooklyn. Since she had access to a plethora of farm crates she had the idea to use them as the vessels for her flowers. When Ingrid brought in her arrangements, fate intervened: the executive chef had, unbeknownst to Ingrid, created a menu that matched her arrangement, even using some of the same ingredients such as crown dill and rosemary.

“I was hesitant, because at the time I wasn’t a florist. I was a designer, but I never say no to a challenge. After that I realized this was something I really love 100%,” says Ingrid. “Once I got started, I knew this was something I should have been doing all along. I launched Tin Can Studios a year later.”




Ingrid Carozzi, who sources her dahlias and anemones from tristate farms, leans wild and loose, using “blender” flowers like ranunculus to unify her high-contrast bouquets. To contain them, she forages vintage measuring cups, test tubes, and wine bottles—often from Dead Horse Bay. While Carozzi focuses primarily on weddings and corporate events (Cointreau and the Pierre Hotel are clients), she’s more than happy to accent your desk or dinner table. All South Brooklyn orders are delivered by bicycle.



Upcycling is the M.O. of Tin Can Studio’s Ingrid Carozzi, based in Red Hook, who recently published Brooklyn Flowers in her native Sweden. Some of her most collaborative wedding projects have been with clients who have provided vessels from their personal collections for her to work with. “There’s more character, and history [that way],” says the florist who regularly transforms everyday objects like wine bottle or tin cans into vases, and who’s been known to handcraft wooden crates from repurposed wood and dig up old bottles from landfills. These choices are responsible as well as aesthetic. “I love the contrast of the patina of something old with new, fresh flowers that are so alive,” says Carozzi whose services include arriving at the end of a wedding to disassemble arrangements and “turn them into mini bouquets to be passed out when guests leave. It is so lovely when people can bring a little piece of the wedding with them.” Here, from Tin Can Studios, wedding flower inspiration for brides-to-be with a feeling for history.


Ingrid TV_1

TV4 Sweden

Interview and edit: Katarzyna Gruda
Guest Editor: Certainly Studio
Photography: Paul Brissman, Ingrid Carozzi & Katarzyna Gruda

My Obsession. Books!

NO,not the latest from romantic queen of suspense, Nora Roberts or hot new memoir from the “it” celebrity.

Books on design,typography,photography,printmaking,pottery,illustration,sculpture,architecture…STOP!

I promise to stop walking into every,YES every, bookstore I pass.

I promise to stop reporting on the latest book review about the subjects I love.

WAIT! I saw a review in The New York Times so I want to share ONE MORE book find before I cross my heart to these promises.

The Ladies of Letterpress. This new book features the best work of the members of Ladies of Letterpress, an international organization that champions the work of women printers. And,it is a wonderful printing resourse.

This is what Amazon has to say about this $40 gallery of prints: “Valuable as a handy resource, it includes a wide range of pieces, from greeting cards to broadsides and posters, printed in a variety of type and illustration styles. Each piece is accompanied by details of paper, inks, and press used in its printing, and a profile of its printer. Whether you’re drawn to elegant greeting cards, humorous note cards, or calendars and posters, you’re sure to find inspiration in this volume. And when you do, there are eighty detachable pages just begging to be pinned up.”

For more info on this book and letterpress here are a few links from The New York Times and others:

Book Info:
The Ladies of Letterpress
A Gallery of Prints with 80 Removable Posters
Jessica White, Kseniya Thomas
ISBN 9781616892739
Publication date 04/21/2015
11 x 14 inches (27.9 x 35.6 cm), Paperback
192 pages, 350 color illustrations
Missive’s “Flamingo” by LisaWillis
Concrete Lace’s
Concrete Lace’s “Eating Seasonally” print by Katie Daniels
Joey Hannaford’s
Joey Hannaford’s “Converge II” by Joey Hannaford

Book Project

My original book idea was grid, focusing on the grids in the city. However, as I went on taking photos for the book, I realized that the idea of grid is very limiting. Like grids, everything and everyone in the city are expected to play a certain role which they’re restrained by. As a result, I decided to get out of the grids and do something completely freeing.

Cover for the Book: 7″x7″ painted newsprint covered carboard


Inside of the pages.





I also did another book on old family photos with similar materials.

Cover for the second book


Inside pages:




By Flora