Nancy Brown’s Love Affair With China

When South Florida Chapter member Nancy Brown, who has been a professional photographer for three decades, took her first trip to China, she was immediately enthralled.

“When I stepped off the plane on my first visit,” she explains, “I began my photographic love affair with China and its people.”

Five years and six additional trips later, Nancy has released a 289-page large-sized coffee table photography book, “Simply China”. In the book’s introduction, which contains text in both Chinese and English, Nancy explains how the deep kindness of the Chinese people, their pervasive warmth to a stranger in their midst, and the glorious beauty of China’s landscape, architecture, and art continues to move her.

Sunrise over 17th Century water town, Zhouzhuang, Jiangsu Province. © Nancy Brown

She also explains why, with the exception of the Forbidden City, she tends to head for the rural areas – what she calls “the real China” – where not many  non-Chinese go.

Nancy comments, “It is heaven for me to wander around villages and remote areas of China with my cameras around my neck. Making the images in this book was pure joy, and I hope that those who see them feel the beauty and spirit of China as I do.”

The book is divided into seven sections: The Forbidden City, Inner Mongolia (the grasslands of China), Guangxi, West Sichuan, Zhouzhuang, Tibet, and Qinghai Province. Its numerous captivating images, ranging from a snowfall at The Great Wall, to yurts in the grasslands, to monks at a remote monastery, to wild Mongolian horses, powerfully reveal the beauty the photographer sees.

Buddhist Monk strolls with prayer beads in Lhasa, Tibet. © Nancy Brown

Nancy’s first trip to China was in 2004 when the South Florida chapter, along with student’s from the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, were invited to attend the Duyun International Photography Exhibition  in Guizhou Province, China. The chapter sent a selection of photographic prints that were among the thousands displayed at dozens of venues around the city. Between opening ceremonies and banquets, Nancy says she was first introduced to the Chinese people during photographic outings sponsored by the Chinese Photographers Association (CPA).

She quickly made friends within the CPA, which led to invitations to judge at other photography festivals, lecture at a photography trade school, and to specially designed trips to locations in China  off the tourist track. Nancy reports that in remote Inner Mongolia, and again in the western Tibetan homelands of Sichuan and Qinghai Provinces, she would go nearly two weeks without seeing another Western face.

The Great Wall near Beijing after rare October snow fall. © Nancy Brown

Her relationships within China culminated in 2010 when she met in Beijing with the China Nationality Art Photographic Publishing House, which was interested in publishing a high quality coffee table book of photographs with a Western point of view. The book is also being distributed in China.

Nancy insisted the book be priced reasonably, and it is listed at $50 with the ISBN number of 978-0-615-42824-6. Available at Amazon, or an autobraphed copy can be purchased directly from her studio.

Nancy Brown shares photographs and makes friends with early morning exercise group, Yueqing, Zhejiang Province. © Tom Salyer

Nancy Brown has been a commercial photographer for over thirty years, specializing in lifestyle and beauty images for advertising agencies, magazines, design firms, book publishers, and pharmaceutical agencies. After working out of her New York studio for thirty years, she now works from Boca Raton, Florida. Nancy has had five photography books published and was made a Nikon Legend in 2001. Getty Images is her stock agency.  China has become her favorite beauty subject.

Backyard Creatures Crawl Into Personal Project

Before chapter member Aaron Ansarov moved to South Florida four years ago, he spent 15 years in the U.S. Navy as a combat photojournalist and magazine photographer. He lives in Broward County with his wife Anna, 10-year-old son Corbin and 11-month-old daughter Anabella. As a guest blogger he wrote this post.

One of the most fascinating things a photographer can do to revitalize the passion in their lives is to just shut up, stop complaining and shoot photographs they love by way of a personal project.

Finding something that interests them and making images about it always turns out to be successful in one way or another. Whether its a marketable series of images for the next best selling book or simply a personal print in the bathroom, it’s guaranteed something positive will happen… personal growth.

One such project for me has been my Backyard Treasures photographs.

Since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated by the multitudes of living creatures that surround us. No matter how big or small, these creatures’ lives have purpose. They’re right there under our noses in our own backyards, sidewalks and parks. But we tend to overlook, ignore, squish and exterminate them because they may not fit into our lives. If we get up really close and personal with these creatures we can see that they are worthy of understanding and appreciation. I am not sure they have souls, but I do know they have a story to tell and I want to show that through a portrait.

After 15 years as a military and combat photographer, I have seen and done more than most. I can honestly say I’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt and photos to prove it. But when it comes to wrangling and photographing a portrait of a captured wild creature in a studio setting I was a little challenged.

For this personal project I set a parameters for myself and followed a few rules in order to make this project consistently follow a theme. It was very important not to drift from my parameters too much, remember that (like a creature) this project is a living and breathing entity that grows in it’s own way.

 - All creatures must not be harmed. To me, this is an obvious issue. Poisonous, stinky, slimy or just plain nasty, these are living creatures. They need to be treated with the utmost respect.

- All creatures must have come from the wild. No museums, zoos or pets. My subjects must come from the local area and the wild. In Florida we have a problem with many creatures that are not indigenous. That does not matter to me. If they are in the wild and making a life for themselves, then they are fair game.

- All creatures must be released back to the wild unharmed.

Within this framework I rely on my creativity, tempered with the manageability of the creature. Sometimes a subject will give me 30 minutes to shoot, while others will be there for two frames and fly away. The trick is to be prepared in advance.

I use a multitude of lighting scenarios with white or black backgrounds, often vinyl or foam core, and on occasion, I experiment with glass or plastics. I focus on the colors and design that make these creatures so unique. Removed from their natural setting, the eye sees what is most important, the subject.

When in my home studio I use Elinchrom light kits with a series of modifiers ranging from strip lights to a six-foot octabank. This gear is amazing and really makes a difference to me. Of course some may think it a little overkill to shoot a ladybug with an octabank, but I don’t think so. The quality of light that comes from these is amazing.

I shoot with a Nikon D90 and a 60mm macro lens, and for larger creatures I use a 17-55mm, focusing as close as possible. When in a backyard other than my own, I use several Nikon SB-800 flashes controlled wirelessly.

So far, I have photographed over 150 species and I hope that I can eventually shoot every species in the U.S.

Images from this and other personal projects can be seen on my website at

Dead Queen Emerges From Watery Grave

ASMP South Florida member George Kamper is a native of New York City, and has been working in Florida for several years. He shoots fashion, lifestyle, tourism and sports and works with motion creating TV advertisements. The following is adapted from his blog.

Presented with a wonderful challenge and having a can do attitude,  I was recently tapped to produce the 30 second video spot for the Queen Mary “Dark Harbor” Campaign as well as simultaneously creating the outdoor billboard and web banner images.

View the 30 second Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor spot on Vimeo.

From the high tide and full moon to the underwater lighting, every detail had to be planned in advance.

From start to finish this project had an open dialogue with the executive creative director Rob DeLuke of the Y Partnership. Utilizing Rob’s and my point of view and eagerness to create something fresh and new, the sky – and the depths – had no limits.

Believe it or not, this actually evolved from a predominantly studio shoot utilizing stop motion, to a full blown outdoor, nighttime, on the water production utilizing the Canon 5D MkII.

The project was taken on because it was a challenge and Rob kept saying he wanted our input and vision. He wanted it to be super cool and scary, and not the least bit canned.

I should mention that this project had a pretty challenging budget.  Which is one of the reasons I took it on. If this was a full blown Hollywood production, we probably wouldn’t have come out with something as fresh and raw. Our motto is less money, more freedom!

We love the idea that we had to do everything ourselves, produce, scout, direct, light, camera operate, right down to providing the bug spray on site. That’s not to say that we didn’t have a wonderful crew,  everyone contributed in a big way because we all saw this as a portfolio piece.

The first challenge was finding a location on the water where we could control the environment, didn’t have to fight the waves,- remember the movie “Water World” – and could have some power availability and necessary shelter, rest rooms, food availability on site. There was no budget for a RV

We also wanted to shoot in an isolated area so we didn’t have to fight off onlookers, other people’s flash cameras, potential theft and the like. And it was sea turtle nesting season, another challenge because you can’t shoot on the beach in Florida at night, as any light would confuse the hatchlings.

Lighting is the key to my work. I love it. When it works it can bring magic to a shoot! In this case, we knew the look we were trying to achieve and the key light had to come from underwater.

A tidal creek became the perfect location, located at John U. Lloyd State Park in Fort Lauderdale, and at night the creek was the perfect eerie location.

One of our greatest challenges was finding an actress who would be willing and strong enough to stand in water on cinder blocks in five feet of water, for five hours, at night, wearing a tattered ball gown, prostheses glued to her face and hands, blood dripping from her eyes, with seaweed entwined in her hair with a crown on her head.

We must give credit to Ashley DeLuke, Rob’s daughter, who models and is a budding actress. She swam a marathon for us and was willing to go the extra mile.

We could see fish and crab moving around in the water. Ashley didn’t know this, but part of the diver’s job, armed with a spear behind her in the water, was to fend off any sea creatures that got too close.

Under the watchful eye of a helpful park ranger, we were a little nervous we might get stopped after the first take lighting on fire the Queen Mary life preserver ring floating in the creek. Everything went smoothly with several takes of flames in the water.

Many people contributed to the success of the project:

We talked with Robert Carmichael, Brownie Marine Group’s CEO, who volunteered his services and equipment along with Mikkel Pitzner. They became our underwater diver and lighting solution. Brownie Marine is known for it’s depth of knowledge regarding anything that has to do with diving and being around the water. They also work closely with Halcyon and the EUE, and hold several patents for diving solutions.

One of the first phone calls I made was to makeup artist June Ellis who does wonderful work and was up for the challenge of working with prostheses, blood, seaweed and water! In addition to all the research and testing she did, she was a great presence on set, and constantly checked in with Ashley to insure she was doing OK. In all makeup took five hours in studio and then five hours standing in the water. You gotta love crew that loves their job!

The wardrobe and jewelry were handled by stylist Melanie Whittle.  I’ve got to say, from all the research she did identifying just the right style and fabrics, to personally sandpapering and distressing the gown, she’s become one of my new heroes.

Peggy Chase Jordao, one of my go to people, handled props for me and made arrangements with Melanie and June to work on this production.

Gearing up for this shoot took me a couple of weeks since I hadn’t fully made the transition to shooting video on my 5D’s from motion picture 16mm and 35mm film. Chris King, who helped guide us through outfitting our 5D and was on set.

Special thanks has to go to my first assistant Jim Wenger who through thick and thin, was right beside me in five feet of water managing the dry ice. We had three different devices for managing the “smoke” on the water, and in the end, it was Jim’s ability to use a gloved hand that made the photo. Even though the dry ice burned his hand, he just kept taking it for the team.

The sound on the project had everything to do with setting the mood and making it interesting.  Mark Sunderland composed and engineered the sound as well as voice over talent Zach Miller and Danielle Lillig. Lillig also wrote the spot with just the right amount of cleverness and restraint and we love her for it.

Every film maker knows it’s not only what’s in the can that counts, but how it’s cut together. I’ve got to give super special thanks to the tech and editor, Zach Scheffer, who had the vision to put the spot together with the effects that really push it up a notch.

 We wouldn’t have those hands on that shot of the Queen for the billboard if it wasn’t for fantastic retoucher and budding editor Christine Craig. She did a fab job on the Queen’s skin and interpreting the lighting.

And lastly the person that deserves the most credit for this project is Rob DeLuke. He has a great eye, is always willing to go to battle for a great idea, who is willing to step out of a comfortable zone and back us up all the way.

Environment Awakens Through Lush Tropical Light

Scherley Busch is currently exhibiting her latest fine art work “Eco Abstractions- Keeping it Real” in a one woman show at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival Gallery II in Miami. The ASMP South Florida chapter member says “Eco-Abstractions creates an awakening of our environment through a fantasy of vibrant colors, and dramatic abstractions of brilliant sunlight and sensual geography”.

The Coconut Grove Grapevine blog notes 
“Exhibiting intimate and fresh color photographic compositions, Scherley uses her camera to “paint with light” as lush tropical tones play against geometric angles and sinuous curves. She also uses Florida’s searing sunlight and sensual geography as her color palette.The exhibit bridges the gap between art and life by raising awareness and appreciation for our natural resources in all its ‘abstractions.’ “

Also showing  are “Eco Soundscapes”, a video and selections from Busch’s Black and white colorized infrared images, “Miami DreamScapes” previously selected for exhibit by Art in Public Places at Miami International Airport.

The exhibition, which opened in February, runs through March 21 at The Coconut Grove Arts Festival Gallery, located in the Shoppes at Mayfair,  3390 Mary Street, Suite 128, Miami, FL, 33133.

Exhibit Challenges Teens About Hunger

ASMP South Florida chapter member Benjamin Rusnak last week challenged high school students to think about hunger in their community by exhibiting and discussing his humanitarian photographs during Archbishop Curley Notre Dame‘s annual HungerFest.

 “After The Chorus” – When asked who knew someone that had died, a chorus of names rose into the mountain air from a group of anxious women. After four tropical storms destroyed their crops, the subsistence farmer of Baie D’Orange, Haiti, waited at a hilltop delivery pint, hoping for aid to arrive. However, that aid was to late for the 40 people who died of malnutrition in late 2008.”

The Miami Catholic school is hosting Rusnak’s “Dreams and Tempests” exhibit of black and white panoramic photographs he has captured throughout Latin America and the Caribbean while working as a humanitarian photographer with Food for the Poor, Inc., an international relief and development agency.

Rusnak told the students that “working in the tropics, I have often been struck by the irony of people struggling to survive in what should be an idyllic setting. The poor search daily for adequate food, shelter and water under the same sun and palms where vacationers play. And despite their hardships, the poor still have the hope and faith to dream of living in the paradise that surrounds them.”

“Rising Up”- Workers in a garbage dump in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, raise their hands when asked if they dream of a better life – one where they wouldn’t have to earn a living by sifting through refuse for food and recyclables.”

Rusnak told the students how he uses the foundations of solid journalistic story-telling to fund raise for the poor, and how his work depicts poverty in Honduras, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, and Guatemala.

“Dreams and Tempests” has recently been on display at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., KONA Gallery, CA, and George Mason University, VA and he has spoken about his work to people of all ages including engagements at the University of Florida and University of Central Florida.

“Breathlessly Alone” – A young girl sits tethered to an oxygen tank, alone in a Honduran hospital. Opportunistic infections that lead to respiratory problems are common among children with poor diets or chronic malnutrition.”

HungerFest is a yearly event that raises consciousness of poverty and world hunger where ACND students demonstrate solidarity for the poor by abstaining from food and drink, other than water, from Friday afternoon until Saturday evening.  They spend two days bagging lunches with products donated by the student body as well as the community, and deliver the food to Camillus House and the Miami Rescue Mission. ACND is located in Miami’s Little Haiti district.

The mini-exhibit of nine five-foot-wide prints will hang in the school’s art gallery through April 20, 2011, and may be viewed by appointment at 4949 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33137, by calling 305-751-8367.