Wonderful Machine – Cameron Karsten: Hook, Line, and Sinker

Happy to share some solid press via Wonderful Machine’s blog as well as a spot in their emailers for July 106. Enjoy!
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Jul 18, 2016
PHOTOGRAPHER NEWS

Grundéns started with a fisherman in Sweden who saw a need for better gear for the fishermen of the world. He wanted clothing that could handle the extreme conditions he and his comrades constantly faced. Now, this international brand is a leader in cold-water fishing and foul-weather gear, and their latest campaign aims to put a spotlight on the fishermen they serve. Grundéns called on Seattle photographer Cameron Karsten for the campaign visuals.

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Grundéns has European, Canadian, and U.S. branchs, and Cameron got on board with Grundéns USA for their rebrand. He says all he had to do was get the initial meeting, share with them his photography and his verve for conservation and adventure, and from there they hit the ground running. Grundéns wanted their rebrand campaign to focus on the fishing experience with special attention to its connection to the environment. Their idea was to find stories from around the world that showed individuals with a passion for fishing, whether as a career or for pleasure. It was Cameron’s job to capture both images and videos for the campaign.

Grundens wanted to change how we see and experience fishing with their visuals by connecting the fisherman/woman with nature as a source of passion and conservation.

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cameron karsten photo, grundens, grundens rebrand campaign, fisherman, fisherman norway, fisherman florida, fisherman guatemala

For phase one of the project, Grundéns sent Cameron to Norway, Guatemala, and Florida. There, he was to interact with real fisherman, spending time on boats and enduring the weather to capture them in action with their craft. In each location it became clear whether the project would focus on recreational or professional fishermen, both of which are groups Grundéns provide for.

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These individuals see the need in their lives to connect with nature, out on the water and in the elements, and transcend the way we care for our planet.

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Before turning to photography, Cameron traveled with the hopes of being a writer. But it wasn’t long before he started adding photos to his stories and composing his tales completely from images. He says although most of his work is more commercial, he loves getting back to travel photography, and this campaign was the perfect hybrid of travel photography and commercial goals.

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For each location, Cameron and the production team talked through story options, set up some drone flying trials, and got the gear into place. But no matter what the preparations looked like ahead of time, the majority of the work always took place on site, where they had to asses the current weather conditions and set up their gear. Cameron says Guatemala was definitely the most challenging with all the saltwater spray.

Guatemala was tricky due to being on a boat with limited movement, and the harsh sun and saltwater spray. But it’s all part of the experience, helping tell an authentic story.

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Cameron’s work is already being integrated into Grundéns’ new website, and will be featured in printed catalogs and brochures, advertising pieces, and social media channels. 70 Agency is getting everything into place for the final release.

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In the mean time, ideas of heading to Alaska, Canada, the Cannery Islands, Belize, and Panama are circulating around, and Cameron is keeping his fingers crossed. He’s also excited to learn about the conservation and water awareness efforts Grundéns will be making through the course of their campaign.

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Check out more work from Cameron at cameronkarsten.com.

Grundens Campaign Pt III – Florida Keys

Driving south over long interloping bridges connecting the dots of sands and mangrove swamps, where history tells a story of shipwrecks and jewels, and wise adventurers who lived the edge forging these sunken treasures. It was hot then, and it’s hot today, as the sun and gulf stream tropics stir an air of heat and humidity. Our treasure also lies underwater, lurking among the throngs of baitfish and circling sharks.

Grundens takes us to the Florida Keys, a tropical paradise for vacationers stretching back to the early 1900s when railroad tycoon Henry Flagler completed the first railway connecting the Keys to the mainland. Destroyed by hurricanes and now part of the world’s longest segmental bridge, we roll atop the Florida Keys Overseas Highway just waiting to  get off pavement for turquoise waters. For more visit the Grundens’ Florida gallery.

 

STORMR Deer Camp: Into the Hoh Rainforest (Pt. II)

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It rained and then it poured. With STORMR gear, the woodsmen were kept warm as a low ceiling of clouds passed, and dry as the hiking became arduous with sweat and fatigued. Heavy ferns draped in our path while carpets of green moss stretched before us. Animal trails were easy to find, their beaten paths the only thing breaking the wildness of the Hoh Rainforest. These led us to the wide open swaths of America’s logging industry.

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Cameron Karsten Photography

Pastorals Gone East

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“Simplicity is the glory of expression.” -Walt Whitman

A road trip last summer into the high plains off the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

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For more work please visit http://www.CameronKarsten.com

Cameron Karsten Photography

All Across Africa: In Uganda

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Meet Margaret, a paper bead jeweler from the Lira District in Northern Uganda. Margaret moved to Jinja in the early 1980s to escape the Lord’s Resistance Army. Today, she is able to pay rent each month all thanks to All Across Africa in Uganda.

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For more visit www.CameronKarsten.com

Cameron Karsten Photography

All Across Africa – Designs by Nightingale Handmade

All Across Africa in Kampala, Uganda

Earlier this year I spent two weeks with All Across Africa helping them rebrand their work throughout Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. With their new website up and running, I’ve fallen in love with Margaret’s (Nightingale Handmade) designs on a few of the images created for AAA. Enjoy these beautiful postcards and go visit www.AllAcrossAfrica.org to make a purchase for the women of East Africa.

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Weavers and a Buy Day in Rwanda for All Across Africa

All Across Africa in Kampala, Uganda

All Across Africa in Rwanda

Weavers and a Buy Day in Rwanda for All Across Africa

Cameron Karsten Photography

Vodou Footprints: Outside the Blood Walls

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Careening east we leave Togo and turn northward, passing into Central Benin. It is flat. I think Africa and I think extremes. Something like Vodou, yes. Extreme. And now when I think Central Benin, heading north just off the coastline, I picture extreme flatness. The roads are straight as an arrow, gray asphalt that moves with the sun’s curvature. Arid dirt lines the peripheral with scrubland leading into an empty horizon. Towns come and go, stopping points for megalithic lorry trucks that bump along the three-day journey into Burkina-Faso and Niger, names in and of themselves that feel extreme. Andretti, or Geoffrey, is a fast driver. He’s our driver, and he’s safe. But going through Central Benin to Abomey feels like forever.

Abomey is the central focal point for power, the power that once was called the great Kingdom of Dahomey. It was a royal city and it was feared by its neighbors (remember the first King of Ganvie? He turned into a stork and fled across waters he was so afraid). It was feared by the colonial powers and nearly defeated the French in the year 1892. It was feared by its own people, traitors who were captured, pushed off its towering walls and sacrificed to the gods. And it is here that Bruce Chatwin’s character Francisco Manoel de Silva in The Viceroy of Ouidah, the beguiled Brazilian slave trader, was sent to as a prisoner, only to escape with the King’s mad half-brother:

The palace of Abomey had tall walls made of mud and blood but very few doors. It lay at a distance of twenty-three thousand, five hundred and two bamboo poles from the beach. In its innermost compound lived the King, his eunuchs and three thousand armed women.

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It is here where the walls are made from the blood of enemies, where the King had the pleasure of sitting on a throne of skulls, as well as choosing from a harem of 40+ women for an evening’s lover. It is here where protection came in the form of those three thousand armed women, the world’s only true knowledge of the existence of the famed Amazonian women warriors; bare-chested females who hacked off heads and bit their foe with razor sharp teeth filed to points. Extreme.

It was dark by the time we reached Abomey, dark just as the night da Silva walked the length of those many bamboo poles into the Kingdom of Dahomey. To foreigners the Kingdom itself could not even be pronounced. The French misspoke it, the culture’s native tongue Danhomé, which in Fon means in the belly of Dan. This is the name of the great Vodou snake god—bringer of life and fertility, the symbolism of eternal recycling. But today it has erased that meaning, succumbing to the French woes, contrived to an erred Dahomey.

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We got our room and sat down for dinner. A man arrived. Menus? Instead he asked if we wanted to see a Vodou ceremony. Right now? Yes. We had to go now. We all looked at each other. He was serious. We were serious. This was our moment with Dan, the master of a fertile project— Danhomé reconciled! Let’s go.

The man flagged three motorbikes once we were out on the dark dusty roads. In Abomey, there are few streetlights and those that worked are as yellow as a melted crayon mixing with its close orange counterpart. The tungsten stain is eerie in the damp heat of inner Africa, with no breeze but passing transportation. Once on the back of our motorbikes, we sped off down foreign roads and eventually arrived at an alleyway. We got off, paid for our fare and our escort’s. There was no music. Hardly any people. we knew we were thinking the same thing: Shit. What have we done.

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Follow me, he said. So we did like puny submissive sheep leaving the tungsten night to follow our shepherd into the shadows of a narrow alley. There was dust beneath our feet, fine red African dirt that would easily soak up the blood spilled from our dying bodies. He was just looking for another human sacrifice: The blood of two foreigners! Abomey’s new theme among the throngs of Vodou tourists.

The man who led us here was in front and he kept waving us onward as my fists clenched tighter with each twisting corner. I felt like the walls were closing in, my backpack of camera gear tightening on my chest with each heavy breath. Then there was music. Tam tams drumming. People singing. An air of excitement reaching our thriving bodies. The yellow-orange glow began to return. Suddenly from the darkness we rounded another corner and stepped into the thrill of a local Vodou ceremony.

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It took minutes that felt like hours to negotiate with the head priest. Meanwhile we were standing by in a thick crowd of black skin. Everyone was pushing together, inching closer to see the performers in trance, taking on the likeness of their gods. They spun in gallant costumes, led by the auditory energy of the drummers who sat under a dim light beneath an expansive green tree. People sat on the dirt, dignitaries in plastic chairs and locals up on the walls and roofs of the surrounding housing. I loosened my fists. Relaxed my shoulders and let out an air of tense breath. I felt my whole body relax into this sacred space of Vodou, a space that we have submersed ourselves in for close to two weeks. We were documenting, exploring and inevitably becoming a part of this culture, a practice that supersedes any other form of religion since the dawning of humanity. 24/7 we were breathing Vodou and spinning its threads within our minds.

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For the next two hours we secured the trust and permission of the people to photograph their local ceremony. Two white photographers with their cameras and lenses and one flash each. We crouched near the Vodou practitioners, studying their movements, watching their feet kick up the red earth and stamp back down to the timing of the many drum beats. We stared and felt that process when an outsider slowly melds into the inner circle. It was impossible not to become a part of the discovery.

As photojournalists and writers, we strive every second to learn more about our subject. Knowledge is the avenue to the complete intimacy of exposure. When the project was first proposed—Hey, how about Vodou?—we knew very little if anything. Pins, needles and a doll? No thanks Hollywood. This goes beyond the misnomer of one of the world’s most unidentified cultures that holds its complex belief system in absolute secrecy. But as the modern age reveals itself and as the lucrative endeavors within the tourism industry help provide for individuals, families and their country, Benin in particular has opened its doors just slightly, allowing those willing enough to go the distance, entrance into a place of origin where signs of evolution are omnipresent.

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The ceremony ends. Our guide, the man who led us to this remote part of Abomey, where the magic history of Vodou and the powers of a royal city in the likes of Timbuktu and Zanzibar dominate, took us away. We were back at our hotel, a sweet little spot called Chez Monique. It was late. The kitchen was asleep as a group of large women lounged next to a blaring television, only paying attention during fits of sleeplessness—a strange scene with the romantic French tongue licking at the shadowed night. A blue cast flickered into these thick crevasses. We sat down. Our food was still warm; a plate of couscous with half a chicken and half a rabbit. The night governed and that feeling permeated deeper: The traveler in a far land with the ebbs and flows of successes, not judged by good or bad, but merely by the feeling of excitement and the fluctuations of extremes, traveling from one end to the next and back again. A life of the unknown. This is Vodou land, beyond pins and needles.

Next essay –>

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logo_blackTrajan

Robert Carlson’s Glass Mind

BobCarlson-15Robert Carlson is an internationally-renowned glass artist and a master not in disguise.  Bob lives his life as an artist, from his work to his art collections and the uniqueness of his home, to the way he parties and likes his martinis.  I had the opportunity to photograph Bob while he was an artist-in-residence at the Museum of Glass Hot Shop in Tacoma, Washington, where he came up with and devised his newest creations from an imagination wild. Bob is pictured up, sketching his latest invention, pulling from depths of his mind something real.

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BobCarlson-448On-hand apprentices assisted Bob throughout the week-long residency. Typically, after the glass is blown and cooled, he’ll spends months with the pieces, studying their forms and subtle messages found within shapes and processes.  Next he employs a reverse-painting technique using mirrors to create the imagery. These will appear on the back side of the glass structures, which take on a whole new dimension while viewing through the various refractions of glass.

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BobCarlsonVert-044-EditHowever, after observing the unusual orbs and their phalangeal crystals, Bob decided otherwise and kept the mirrors on their walls and the pigments in their cans. The work was completely new and glorious in their own form. They are both animalistic and alien. They explore the connection of sexuality and misplaced possession. The glass art can be placed on one side and quickly flipped to be placed on a new set of legs, changing the viewers understanding of what is and what can be. These pieces are works of a genius, derived from a life undisguised from beauty itself.

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logo_blackTrajan

Post-Apocalyptic Youth Survival Group sneak peek!

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Sneak peak of a Youth Survival Group shoot: In a post-apocalyptic world, a band of youths group together to fight the threats of day-to-day survival.

More imagery to come!

Location: Clear-Cut Field – Olympic Peninsula, WA

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D MarkIII w/Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Autofocus Lens

24mm, 1/160 sec at ƒ/18, ISO 100, tripod, composite.

Post: Capture One & Adobe PS6

Cameron Karsten Photography

An Artform for Ages: Forging w/Ryan Landworth

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I know Ryan from the local community on Bainbridge Island, and as we got to know each other, I asked to come and shoot him at work in his shop.  As I walked into his space, I realized what an extreme artform this age-old process is.  Lots of heat.  Huge machinery.  And tons of force.  Here is a test phase of more shooting to come with blacksmith artisan Ryan Landworth.

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Cameron Karsten Photography