Stella Kramer

Tell Your Story

Category, Stellazine

#Sandy Still Needs You

Posted on August 14th, 2013

Ben Lowy Rollercoaster

Do you remember Hurricane Sandy? If you were a downtown or edge-of-the-water New Yorker, how could you forget? We got smacked. For some New Yorkers the damage is still present, even 10 months after the disaster. Benjamin Lowy – Sunken Roller Coaster, NJ #SANDY is a book of iPhone photos of Hurricane Sandy by acclaimed photographers to be published by Daylight Books later this fall and will be distributed in 2014. 100% of the royalties will be donated to Occupy…

Dara, Life With MS

Posted on August 7th, 2013

Last week’s experiment in blogging went pretty well, except for the battering I took for asking if anyone was shooting health-related stories in NYC. Well, I heard from a couple of people, including Edward Brydon, a PhD science writer with an ongoing project about a woman with MS.

Here are Edward‘s answers to how he came to photography from science, in his own words:

“Since the age of 16 I had concentrated on science for my education and career, dropping all other subjects to concentrate on it. The chance for the re-emergence of my artistic side came when I met my wife in 2004. She was studying for her poetry MFA at Sarah Lawrence College at the time, and being with her awoke the dormant, creative part of my brain.

When I then gave her a framed photograph of mine as a gift, it really sparked something I hadn’t known was there. Her reaction to that photo, as well as those of a few other people who saw it, made me I realize I had found my medium.

It’s been a long process going through the learning curve; finding out what I like or don’t like and digging deeper into what I want photography to be for me, which is certainly not a superficial practice.

In 2011 I realized I could combine photography and my background in science and health. For me that has so far been about storytelling, and after finding someone willing to collaborate with me I have committed to this long-term story about Dara living with MS.

My scientific background is in the study of viruses, so I am very much interested in pursuing more stories about human health, particularly around the concept of One Health, which is the intersection of human health, animal health and ecosystem health.

But everything comes back to connection for me—connection to land, place, and people, and the intersection of these things.”

And here’s Edward’s statement about this body of work:

Dara has multiple sclerosis, but you wouldn’t know it to look at her. She is a tall, attractive woman, with an easy laugh, a radiant smile, and a confident demeanor. But behind all that she suffers from occasional bouts of extreme fatigue, numbness in her hands and feet, burning sensations, mild confusion. All classic early symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). The first indication something was wrong came when she woke up the morning after Christmas Day, 2003. Dara immediately noticed her right pinky and ring finger were numb – “like, fell asleep on them trying to shake it awake, numb.” Within 5 days the feeling had progressed through her right arm and into the entire right-hand side of her trunk. After rushing to the emergency room the Doctor there told her to see a neurologist. That was New Year’s Eve 2003

Nearly ten years later she visits an MS practice one weekend every month to receive intravenous drug therapy, spending between six and eight hours each day hooked up to the slow drip, drip, drip, of the IV. So far the therapy has managed her MS well; well enough she was able to have two children, leave a job she disliked to start a freelance make-up artist career, and enjoy her time with her family. In her words “Nowhere in this journey did I experience denial. I immediately knew something was wrong and I needed to get it managed and wouldn’t stop until I had answers. The integration of my symptoms into my life overall is well managed now as I’ve become an expert on my own triggers; physically, mentally, and emotionally and am better able to help myself.”

Dara now wants to share her life with MS so that others who have been diagnosed with this disease know there are options and hope. My long-term project with Dara aims to bring the private side of her life with MS into the public for the sole expression of this purpose.


I do want to say that in a big city there are a lot of health issues that relate to all of us. Obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, mental illnesses and more plague our neighbors. It does us all a favor to humanize these abstract (I hope for you) diseases. And I don’t think you need to go overseas to cover these issues.

I’m going to keep asking questions and looking for projects that I will hopefully be able to feature here. So if you have a project you want me to see, let me know. In fact, I have some wonderful photography coming up soon.

All photography’s courtesy of Edward Brydon


Posted on August 2nd, 2013

This has been an interesting week for me–both positive and negative. I wanted to end this week of blogging by writing about a disconcerting incident that raises some basic questions about how we treat each other. I put a query out on FB last week looking for photo projects about health issues in NYC. I had been wondering what people were shooting in NY, since I had seen health-related stories in other places. The curiosity came out of a talk I…

Portrait Photography From Venezuela

Posted on August 1st, 2013

Carmen Graterol 2

Earlier this year, Janette Beckman and I went to Caracas, Venezuela to teach at the Roberto Mata School of Photography. We had a spectacular time, and were so impressed with the school and our students. So I thought I would take this opportunity to show some of their work here on Stellazine. All of our students are hobby photographers—although that in no way diminishes their talent. Their enthusiasm, talent and energy made working with them one of the best experiences…

It’s Important to Think About These Things

Posted on July 31st, 2013

One of the most difficult things for most photographers to do is to edit and sequence their own work. While you may love a particular image, it is often not the photo itself you love, but the emotions and experience associated with it. You are too close to your own work. And sometimes you’ve just been shooting so much that you’ve lost perspective on the work itself. That’s why photographers are well served by having someone unconnected to them look…

More About Helping Each Other

Posted on July 30th, 2013

Ocean Beach Douglas Ljungkvist

I’ve used this space before to try to raise visibility of photo projects, especially when photographers are trying to raise money. Before I ask others to chip in, I make sure I do. But what makes some project’s successful and others not is a mystery to me. Especially when the projects are so strong, so singular, and done by photographers who have been shooting for quite awhile. They have put their sweat, their dreams and their hard work in to…

More Things Come In The Mail

Posted on July 29th, 2013

Flying Henry pages

Once again, I’ve received some wonderful photography in the mail and thought I would share them. Some came as a surprise, and others through purchase. They are varied, and wonderful each in their own way. This is Flying Henry, by Rachel Hulin, a photobook for children, inspired by her son. I LOVE the way she created a unique avenue for her photography. And I LOVE the idea of introducing little children to photography. It’s creative thinking like this that got…

Great Things Come In The Mail

Posted on July 8th, 2013

I’ve received some wonderful things in the mail lately-some I purchased, and some came as a surprise. I thought I’d show them to you, because they are impressive, and I’ve been enjoying them over and over. I always appreciate it when people think of me, and when people put such creativity into their work.

Giles Duley Afghanistant

I purchased this self-published book of Afghanistan photos by Giles Duley, and not only does the work and the care and thought put into the packaging blow me away, but when I found my book damaged by the post office, Giles sent me a new one. Wow! I got not only the fold out book with text, but beautiful postcards with information on the back as to what I was looking at. Everything about his work is thoughtful, emotional and beautiful.

Giles Duley postcards Giles Duley Afghanistan book

I have always been a fan of David Bram and Fraction Magazine, and was glad to get my copy of the 2012 Yearbook. I love the way online photography is moving into actual publishing, extending its audience and giving people a tactile experience with the photography they have previously only seen digitally.

Fraction Magazine 2012 Yearbook Jonathan Blaustein

Landon Nordeman  takes wonderfully quirky photos of events like the dog shows, and sent me a print from his Canine Kingdom project. Many months before we spoke about this during a casual consult over great coffee, but he was the one to come through without my asking. I love people who keep their word.

Laqndon Nordeman

The same can be said of Mimi Ko, who’s work I have loved for quite awhile, since I first met her when I held workshops at Mediabistro. It is soft, personal and intimate. It was a thrill to receive this print.

Mimi Ko

En Foco is an organization “dedicated to cultural diversity in photography.” I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter since they first asked me to review portfolios for them. What better way to show my support than to purchase en foco/in focus Selected Works from the Permanent Collection?

en foco/in focus Hank Willis Thomas

It’s the breadth of the work that really impresses me, and makes me glad to see work I didn’t know about, by artists that don’t often get recognition.

Rustbelt Almanac was a Kickstarter project created by photographer Noah Purdy in order to create a magazine featuring positive economic developments in a region of the country written off as devoid of promise–the part of America that used to be known as our manufacturing heartland. Beautifully photographed, it’s intended to show that there are people and energy and positive things taking place worthy of our support. I look forward to Issue 2.

Rustbelt Almanac Rustbelt Almanac2

Photographer Jason Florio has been a favorite of mine for many years, and I am always so grateful when he offers me a print. These two are from his newest work, from the last expedition to the Gambia when Jason and his wife, Helen Jones-Florio, canoed down the Gambian River from end to end. The spirit of adventure lives, and I am so glad to see that. Jason‘s connection to the people he photographs is incredible, and what his subjects give back of themselves is really wonderful. A great example of connecting with your subjects.

Jason Florio Jason Florio2

What a surprise to receive these cards of scenes from the Hudson River from photographer Joseph Squillante. Useful promo, how refreshing!

Joseph Squillante

As you can see, the variety of gifts is amazing, and the creativity impressive. I can’t wait to see what other surprises show up in my mailbox in the future.

Support: Shouldn’t It Be A Two-Way Street?

Posted on June 24th, 2013

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about support and what it means. Is it something you can ask for, but not give back? Are we obligated to return the favor, or is it even important to worry about that?
As much as I can say there is a photography community in New York, I find myself questioning how much of it is self-interest and how much of it is reciprocal.

Don’t Mourn, Organize!

Posted on June 3rd, 2013

Last week my FB page (and Twitter stream) was filled with the news that the Chicago Sun-Times had fired its entire photo department, deciding it was better to just give iPhones to its reporters, and work with freelancers. There was the expected outrage and lamentation on FB. But that was all it was, and I’m sure people have already turned the page on this stunning event. When I commented on one post that I thought it would be amazing for…