Platon Sees a Hero in Stephen Hawking for Wired UK
Stephen Hawking lives at the juncture of flesh and technology, both because his entire career as a theoretical physicist and cosmologist has been about exploring the limits of the human condition, but also because it is through a complex series of technologies that he remains alive and communicating. ALS has stolen most movement from him, relegating him to a motorized wheelchair, and allowing him the usage of only a single cheek muscle to manipulate a communication system. The 76-year-old scientist was the subject of Wired UK’s 100th issue cover, and SAT with Platon for the photograph.
Platon met Hawking at his personal office at the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Cambridge University, England. “The professor was brought in by a team of medical nurses and a technical adviser. I was asked to leave the room so they could have some privacy to prepare him for my sitting - and prepared he was,” explains Platon. “He has a powerful presence. Silent. Motionless. Yet, 200% alive. This man radiates charisma - his eyes burn with fire.” Those of us who aren’t in contact with Hawking on a daily basis, and are isolated from the differently abled among us, often lower our expectation of life signs from those who experience life differently from how we do. That’s a mistake. As Platon’s experience and images prove, just because we can’t empathize with an experience, or see the expression of it, doesn’t mean it’s not as rich and full as our own.
Hawking’s limitations in his chair could potentially also limit his ability to express himself in other ways – like fashion – but he was on point for his session with Platon. “He rocked a dapper tweed jacket with a silk cravat, which elegantly covered up all the plastic tubes entering his fragile body,” says Platon. “He was engulfed by a mechanical throne-like wheel chair, in my opinion it only added to this man’s stature.” He even donned a pair of sunglasses at one point in response to the photography lights, and upon doing so adopted what Platon calls “rock star swagger,” making him into a kind of “a badass super hero.”
We must all constantly reshape how we think of achievement and contributions, and what they look like. Even as Hawking ages and his body betrays him, his work becomes ever more relevant and we must continue to listen to this living icon.
Joey L. Opens the Wilderness for Hostiles
The United States of America’s history with Native Americans is rife with blood and conflict, a horror story filled with terror and shame. It’s a history that every American must contend with as a part of our shared heritage, and one of the best ways to approach that education is through storytelling – even if the stories are fictitious. Late last year Hostiles debuted at the Telluride Film Festival, with a larger national release on December 22. The film stars Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, and Wes Studi, and depicts a collection of white Americans escorting a dying Cheyenne war chief to his homeland in Montana in the late 1800s. The film was shot in New Mexico, where Joey L met the cast to photograph the key photography for the project. Joey was able to grab portraits of each of the main actors including Jesse Plemons, Ben Foster, and Adam Beach.
Shooting in New Mexico afforded Joey L the luxury of a kind of untouched wilderness. From a metropolitan point of view in 2018, it’s easy to forget that even just over 100 years ago, the US had a kind of wildness that has since been largely sanitized not only by urban spread, but also by technology that arrests anyone from getting lost. Part of what makes western stories so captivating is the experience that any danger can be on the other side of a hill, the mysterious stranger we meet could threaten any life, and there is no savior on the other end of a cell signal. Joey L uses the expansive wilderness to great effect, calling up all those desperate risks, allowing the landscape to unfold into mountains in the distance that are then absorbed into the clouded sky. In each solo portrait, each character stands in the grassy expanse, profoundly alone. In the group shot, they move together through the same landscape, alone together, working towards a single goal despite whatever conflict undoubtedly will disrupt their efforts.
The full story is told in Hostiles, but Joey brings pieces of it to the key art the studio used for promotional posters found in Times Square, and dotted all over the country.
Hostiles is out now at theaters nationwide.
Bill Gates and Stephen Wilkes Have Good News in TIME Showing the Grand Canyon from Day to Night
There’s good news!
The good news is that as a culture and as a world we’re doing better than ever. It may not feel that way every day, in fact, as Warren Buffett points out in the latest issue of TIME, pessimism is on the rise. But it’s a feeling of malaise that’s not tied to the real numbers of what daily life looks like today. The reality is more beautiful, and sometimes we need to step outside to remind us how beautiful. In the latest issue of TIME, guest edited by Bill Gates (the first time the magazine has ever had a guest editor), that reminder comes in the form of Stephen Wilkes’ Day to Night photograph of The Grand Canyon. Stephen created the image over a full day of capturing thousands of images that he then digitally stitched together into a single composition. For those of us who can’t get to this amazing natural feature, better yet spend a whole day there, this is the closest we can get to the lived experience in nature. And that’s exactly what TIME wanted to do by inviting Stephen’s photograph to be a part of this monumental issue.
The days may feel darker today than they have in a decade, making Gates the perfect editor for an issue of TIME. The magazine accused him of “relentless optimism,” an incredible and influential quality. His response was astounding. “Improvement is kind of a silent thing that happens gradually. The world is unjust, but it’s way more just today,” he told the magazine. “When you say you’re optimistic you’re not saying you can just stand back, and you’re not saying there aren’t reversals. But you can say, ‘Okay we’ve done really well, let’s take the examples of where we’ve done super well and spread those.’"
Stephen’s image is paired along with a piece by Warren Buffett that goes through the numbers of why we should all be more optimistic about what the future holds. The issue also includes contributions from Ava DuVernay, Malala Yousafzai, and Bono. They’re here to give us the good news, even if it’s couched in hard shots of reality. But if we keep our heads up and our eyes open, we can start to see the world the way Stephen Wilkes is showing it to us: broad, bold, beautiful, and fleeting.
Let’s get out there and see it.
Jeff Nishinaka Stays Festive for CVS
We know that the holidays are already over and eyes are set forward on the new year that’s stretched out in front of us, but we had to show you this project. Jeff Nishinaka teamed up with CVS to help them ring in the holidays with their customers, creating a breathtaking amount of work for their holiday sales. You already know that Jeff can make just about anything out of cut paper, but did you know he could create an entire holiday season?
CVS’ campaign was pretty straightforward: there were a ton of deals for entertaining and gift-giving, but they wanted to add a new twist to the typical holiday fare. So they asked Jeff to create a series of holiday-themed environments entirely out of paper. And boy, did he.
Jeff made it all. There’s a snow-covered pine forest made from white paper. A blue mantle is covered in candles. A green kitchen countertop is complete with wall clock and a hot pot. A red living room window sets the base for picture frames and poinsettias. There’s even an entirely white landscape of snowy hills where a snowman makes an appearance. Plus all the details you can imagine: wrapped gifts, neighbors’ houses, twinkle lights and needles of pine.
It’s another year until the holidays arrive again, but it’s never too late to be festive. Especially in the face of such extraordinary work.
(Check out some of Jeff's work animated below! There's even a swooping dove!)
Paola + Murray Discover San Francisco and New York's Chinatowns for Food & Wine
Home isn’t just a place, but also a people, an energy, and definitely food. Traveling across the globe can make home feel very far away, unless, of course, we bring home with us. Groups of Chinese immigrants who found themselves in New York and San Francisco both have created their own homes carving out a Chinatown in each city and just recently Food & Wine magazine asked photography duo Paola + Murray to get a taste of each.
The two started in San Francisco, heading to Mr Jiu, a restaurant that sits above the street and is known for its design as much as it’s known for its food. “The restaurant itself holds a very sensual energy. When we arrived almost at sunset this incredible warm, golden light was beaming through the floor to ceiling windows,” says Paola. “It was a truly magical moment.” They were welcomed by Brandon and Anne-Lee Jew, the married chef and designer team behind the restaurant. The menu and space is as much a representation of them and their relationship as it is of the culture that surrounds them. Paola + Murray wanted to capture it all.
“The presentation of each dish hit all our senses in one, first the visual satisfaction of very attractive plating followed by the scents of exotic ingredients that enhanced the desire of tasting these incredible creations,” says Paola. “All of these elements inspired us to re-create the lighting, keeping it as authentic and close to reality as possible. We wanted to make it look as if we had used the natural golden light coming through the windows. We strive to show our viewers what we see and taste and feel and we hope we conveyed those emotions as well as smells and tastes through our images.”
Being in California, San Francisco’s Chinatown has a specific energy, exactly what Paola + Murray translated into pictures. But when they boarded a plane to head back home to New York City to face the Chinatown there, they thought were heading right back to a place they knew. After spending time in San Francisco, they saw NYC’s Chinatown again for the first time.
“When we landed back in NYC and headed to Chinatown to photograph Nom Wah Tea Parlor we could not help but notice how this Chinatown was the one of hustling, loud vendors, of smells of dry fish, mysterious ingredients and cigarette smoke,” says Paola. “Although we have been to Chinatown a million times this was different, our senses were enhanced and made us realize how opposite yet complimentary this was from the Chinatown in San Francisco.” Anyone’s first time in New York’s Chinatown experiences the assault on the senses that dulls over time as we experience it over and over. But Paola + Murray got to start new and bring that experience to their audience who may not have the luxury of dropping in on Canal Street whenever they want.
All told, both assignments came together into a sort of uber experience, exploring how shared heritage can shift and grow into different shapes based on context. “This assignment definitely increased our desire to head to China and explore the vast, mysterious, controversial country but also made us curious about what is at our doorstep, making us realize how much there is to enjoy in the country we live in,” explains Paola. “We truly hope our viewers feel the same excitement while looking at our images and reading the words that go with them.”
Christian Kozowyk Wants You To Have Fun
Next to all the challenges, there are a million wonderful aspects of being a professional photographer. There can be a lot of travel, you can photograph the most influential people in the world, you can work with really great brands. But for Christian Kozowyk it’s all about the experience of interacting with other human beings. It’s about the human experience. “I really like interacting with people and I think that’s one of the things that drew me to photography from the get go,” says Christian. “I really just enjoy spending time with people and being an active participant in life.” Photography draws Christian out into the world and as an observer he gets to share all the amazing things that he finds on a day to day basis. “When you’re going through life and you see people from afar sharing a moment – it’s like what life is all about. Spending time with people and being able to enjoy that time and pay it forward and be positive and all that,” explains Christian.
He’s all about the human experience, but Christian also recognizes that a lot of his clients are brands who are selling products. His job is often to make those products look great and create imagery around the products that show people enjoying them. And he loves it. He brings his unique form of positive imagery to these campaigns not just because he enjoys doing it but because he thinks it’s good business. “People want to see things that are hopeful and I think that brands that position themselves as a company or as a corporate entity that’s aligned with that positivity, I think that’s what helps sell the product,” says Christian. Corporate photography doesn’t have to be about a rigid brief and boardroom decided guidelines: it can be about joy and fun and excitement.
This strain of positivity doesn’t just live in his images though, Christian ensures that it’s in his working environment as well. Everyone on his team on every job must approach the work in the same way that he does, that way a workday is never a slog: it’s always a joy. “I work with really great people and really nice people and I really only work with people who have the same philosophy and make a difference in the day to day interactions that they have with people,” says Christian. It can be hard work to make work so fun, but it pays off in job after job and with client after client. The results speak for themselves.
123Klan Blends Aesthetics with Damascus Clothing
Graffiti duo Scien and Klor of 123Klan have come together with Damascus Apparel to create a pack of collaborative product that includes a limited edition teeshirt and an enamel pin.
As a brand, Damasacus is about supporting and lifting up creators of all kinds, it’s a broad invitation. But their look is very specific: they use black, grey, and white in all of their creations for a very consistent look. 123Klan, on the other hand, typically uses all sorts of colors applied in different ways for their murals, apparel, and prints. 123Klan’s brand identity is built around lines and shapes. Bringing together 123Klan and Damascus’ aesthetic sensibilities meant blending them into something new.
The resulting shirt uses the shapes and lines you know from 123Klan in the color scheme of Damascus, printed onto Damascus’ clothing. The pin is the spray can you’ve come to know and love from 123Klan done up in black nickel and black enamel. On both pieces it’s a seamless partnership.
Shotopop Gets Epic for Spike's Ink Master
Tattoos can be anything you want them to be. A memento for a loved one, a reminder of a time gone by, or a beautiful flourish that simply looks amazing. But if you’re going to put something permanent on your body, why not make it epic? That was the idea when Shotopop created the latest teasers for the newest season of Ink Master, the SPIKE TV reality show that celebrates the artistry of tattoos in the best prototypical contemporary American way: competition.
The animated spot entitled “Ink Master: Return Of The Masters” that stretches past 90 seconds, shows us the masters Anthony Michael, Steve Tefft, and DJ Tambe, as well as host Dave Navarro, surfing through a city’s sky that moves to a massive battlefield at the foot of a mountain. Each master commands a small army of artists on the show who compete to win, but in Shotopop’s animation the masters also command all the entities that come to life from tattoos scrawled across fans. Dragons, octopi, birds of prey, and femme fatales leap off arms and chests and slam together on the field of battle.
Shotopop carefully honed the animation style for this video, choosing lines and colors that reflect the heritage of the art form, respecting the source inspiration while bringing it all together to its logical display.
The war climaxes at the apex of the mountain with the masters and Navarro about to engage in a final showdown. But if you want to see what that showdown will look like you’ll have to tune in on January 9th when the new season begins. Until then, check out Shotopop’s animation to tide you over.
Platon and Lavazza Ask: What Are You Doing to Better the World?
The Lavazza calendar is one of the most prestigious photography assignments in the world. It demands the highest mastery of craft and creativity to create beautiful and provocative images. Platon was an obvious choice. In past years Joey L. and Erwin Olaf have both photographed for the calendar, as well as Annie Leibovitz, Steve McCurry, Martin Schoelle, and David LaChapelle. For 2018, Lavazza invited Platon to photograph the calendar, but because it’s Platon he had to do things a little differently. Each year Lavazza’s calendar becomes increasingly more globally aware, and for 2018 Platon and the Italian coffee giant brought it to the next level. Platon took the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for making the world a better place by 2030, and photographed an activist, group, or leader who encapsulates each of those goals. Because these goals go beyond time or a neat schedule, there are 17 photographs instead of the traditional 12 to remind us that it’s always time to better the world.
“I have been invited by Lavazza to celebrate a group of champions and all of these amazing people that I had the privilege to work with on this project delivered incredible messages for us,” says Platon. “I tried to capture their majesty, their magic, their power.”
Traditionally, the Lavazza calendar is rich in color and sumptuous imagery, but this year Platon made the images about portraiture and telling the story of these incredible figures. He wanted to connect us with each of the 17 SDGs and take inspiration from their stories. A-list celebrities like Jeremy Renner and Andre Agassi are mixed in with names you may recognize like Alexandra Cousteau, and those whose stories you’ll learn for the first time. Many wear teeshirts, and each is presented like we could engage with them immediately. There’s a good reason for that. “Muhammad Ali once told me you have to help people see themselves in a story. If you can get people to see themselves in the stories that you put forward then you can achieve greatness. And what I present to you is a new set of heroes,” says Platon. “There’s energy here, there’s passion here, there’s no negativity, there’s no accusations. This is a positive revolution. These are heroes.”
The yearlong calendar is up and running, with all the stories available to view right now. Click through, learn what you can from each of these heroes, take inspiration, and maybe apply what you learn to your own life, your own goals. The name of the calendar is practically an indictment itself: “2030: What Are You Doing?” Ask yourself this question, and we’ll move forward together.
“We live in a time of great connectivity, what this project represents is that magical thing called a shared experience. Where we celebrate our unique and beautiful differences. It’s about coming together to solve common goals,” says Platon. “The next generation is in this project and we want you to be with us.”
Read more about what Platon's goals at Lavazza.