Local Talk - Interview with Local artist and Classic Man Barber Mike Lasovski

You are a barber by trade, and an amazing one - when did you know that you had a desire to capture and share your photography?
 

I've always had a passion for art, and I've been drawing ever since I can remember. I love fashion and music, and used to do styling for short films and sing in a progressive metal band.   Photography is just another creative outlet for me. I've been perusing it  for the last 3 years.    


In this age of cameras built into cellphones, do you take pictures on your phone or do you use an actual camera? If so, what type of camera?

I take pictures with my phone and make it more artistic by shooting different angles and using  effects. I use what I have for now, but would love to buy a camera in the near future to get better quality and details. 

Do you plan for time to go out and capture images or do you take photos here and there as you go throughout your day?

It is more about "capturing the moment" for me. If I see something interesting in the aspect of colors and angles or anything that I think would look good as a photograph, I'll stop what I'm doing and take a picture.

How does you full time job as a barber translate into your approach for taking photos? I know from hanging photos with you at the shop that your eye is quite good!

I am a perfectionist at my job as a barber and my clients know that! I don't like to leave out anything for the chance, and risk a haircut coming out not looking good. I see everything, every piece of hair. I treat my artwork the same way.

You are originally from Israel, how does your childhood in a different country inspire your approach to photography?

I grew up in the city of Jerusalem, a place that is very rich in history and culture. Jerusalem has spiritual energy, and that by itself inspires any creative individual. Also, growing up, I was surrounded by artistic friends (who later became musicians, fashion designers, photographers etc). Being surrounded by such people pushed me to develop the creative side in me as well. Photography has a universal language with which I can express myself.

What's next for building your photography craft? Are you seeking any type of arts + photography education?

I would love to take some additional photography classes and develop the skill further. I'd like to do more exhibits in the near future and reach a wider audience.

Tell us a bit about the photos you have shared with us @ Local.

The photographs reflect how I see the American culture. It is about my life as a barber. The pictures I have chosen have a dark vibe, capturing the spirit of Halloween 

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follow Mike on Instagram @mikey_thebaba.barber

Local Talk: Interview with Local featured artist Michael Stahl

Michael, we have known you for 14 years! I know this as you photographed our daughter when she was first born. What struck me then as it does now is that you absolutely love your craft. The initial consultation, the photography, the bracketing of images - the entire process. What is it about this discipline that keeps you so motivated?

Well, I've always been a darkroom rat.  I spent countless hours with my film and trays and chemicals making black and white prints.  So I just love the process of creating images.  I find it easy to stay motivated because every session is different and is nuanced in some way.  The important thing for me during a session is making it feel like the camera disappears.  In most cases that does happen as I strike up a rapport with the person in front of me. That's a special feeling.

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Alright...putting you on the spot - you have photographed countless families in the area, is there one that stands out for any particular reason? 

Nice try. But I cannot say that any ONE family stands out.  We've had memorable moments during session (newborn peeing on a dad, for example).  But we also do have families that we see over the years and it's very rewarding for us to see the children as they grow.  We've been doing this long enough to have toddlers that we've photographed come back in for a high school senior portraits.

 

Having been a photographer for 20+ years, what can you say is the greatest lesson learned thus far?  

Patience!  Of course there are days when our subjects might not be in the best mood for a portrait.  So we try to have a laid back approach in which there is plenty of time for even the most reluctant person to come around and present their true self to me.  

 

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What photographers (past or present) have been meaningful to you and why? Which should we take a moment and explore? 

Richard Avedon--I love the simplicity of his studio portraits.  George Hurrell for his dramatic images of Hollywood stars.  And I own Ansel Adams' series of technical books on creating the black and white print and of course his landscapes just stop you.  Bill Brandt broke a lot of "rules" with his edgy and stark portraits.

 

Montclair has been a geographical focus throughout your work. Why is this town so special for you?  

It's such an eclectic town so we get to meet so many interesting people, which results in interesting portraits.  We also love to do our part to support local organizations. The folks in town have really supported our efforts to help out the Food Pantry and animal rescue organizations.

 

In this world of cameras on a variety of devices, and filters to match any desired mood - how do you continue to articulate the essence of professional photography?  

I think it has to do with having a specific point of view and style.  I am flattered when people tell me that they can recognize our work.  Because style is not an app you can download or something one can copy.  It has to come from within.  But we also have to provide something that one cannot do for themselves.  That's why our focus continues to be well lit studio portraits.   

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Black and white seems to evoke quite a bit of emotion but color obviously has its purpose? How do you toggle between the two and ultimately commit to a particular direction?  

We default to black and white  That has always been my passion.  But color does have its place and we work closely with our clients to determine the direction to take.

 

What advice do you provide for someone considering a career in photography?  

Heed your passion.  Photograph things that are meaningful to you.  Seek out a mentor and look to professional organizations (PPA for example) for guidance and educational opportunities.  And don't forget that you are a businessperson, too.  Value yourself and your work and others will also.

 

Tell us something about photography that only you or a few people know. 

"I'm not photogenic" is BS.  There is something about everyone that is photogenic.

 

What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

Straight, strong drip with a little half and half--early and often!

 

www.portraitsbymichaelstahl.com

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Local Talk: Interview with featured artist Darin Wacs

We connected first after discovering that we both were born and raised in NYC. I am grateful every day for such a rich childhood amongst the artist, musicians, and entrepreneurial business owners that made up my neighborhood of Greenwich Village. How did your particular art discipline emerge out of your respective NYC experience?

*I grew up with a father who was a fashion designer and painter and a mother who loved art....we spent all our free time at museums and galleries in NYC...

 

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Is there a person or experience that was pivotal in sharpening your direction?

*In grad school at The School of Visual Arts..the painter Gary Stephan and the sculptor Judy Pfaff helped/forced me to define and stand up for what I was trying to do with my sculpture..

 

What words of inspiration do you share with anyone considering artistic expression?

*I would say to not be afraid to try new things even if they don't always work out...make a mess..

 

What is it about crafting objects out of raw materials that inspired your path?

 The texture and colors of raw materials go against my tendency to paint everything in bright colors..it was a challenge to see if they could work as a medium for me..

 

I’m always interested in artistic endeavors with over-emphasized scale - small or large. Is there a project that you feel like you nailed it relative to the size of the final piece (or pieces?)

*I think my large scale 'sculpture signs' in Palo Alto, CA are good examples of large public projects that draw viewers in and surprise them..I don't see them as sculptures that are also engaged in way finding but art that helps you find places.

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I’m sort of going through this phase questioning what’s really real or just a figment of our imagination. Is it all just a dream? That said, tell us about the quote you selected from Alexander Calder to include on your site “The universe is real, but you can’t see it. You have to imagine it.” 

I love Calder..and the idea that art can create its own universe is magical to me..I think a lot of the work I make inhabits its own world.

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I’m thrilled with the pieces you selected for Local. Please tell us about them.

From the first time I walked into Local I was struck by this idea that I wanted to make light fixtures that were also sculptures...I could picture how they would work in the space and how they might relate to my silkscreen prints..the three 'critter' pendants were painted with the palette of Local in mind to contrast with it and be a part of it..some of the other small sculptures were painted at the same time as the critter lights and show another form and scale which relates to the larger pendants..also I thought about what would work within the spaces that Local has for showing art. I am always taken by what a positive vibe Local has (thanks entirely to you and Adele) and felt like it was a perfect fit for the work I make which hopefully inspires an overstuffed feeling of joy and wonder. 

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What does living in Montclair and being able to show your work here mean to you as an artist?

Montclair is a community with lots of creative people living in it..I know so many talented people and often meet new ones...this is the first time I'm showing sculpture here and its been wonderful.

 

What is your favorite coffee or tea beverage?

An iced latte

 

http://darinwacs.com/