Every artist has his tools, and I love few things more than exploring the equipment of passionate professional creatives. I stumbled onto Dabito’s blog Old Brand New last year, and was instantly drawn in by his hazy, sunny, intimate photography. I’ve had a hankering to experiment with older cameras myself, but the technology can be a bit intimidating. I’m thrilled that not only has Dabito chosen to portray himself through his collection of beautiful cameras, but that he’s sharing his expert advice on various models. Thank you for sharing, Dabito!

My first SLR camera was the Nikon FM10 given to me by a friend in college. I used it for my intro to photography class in Santa Cruz and fell madly in love with photography and have been using film cameras ever since.

Over the past decade, I’ve been collecting different cameras, and shooting mainly 35mm, 120 and polaroids. Because processing film has gotten more expensive, more people are purging them which is sweet news for me because I’m finding all these awesome cameras from thrift stores, all for a song! My prized possession is the Contax T2. I gasped when I saw it sitting in a smelly, junk-filled glass case. It has the super sharp Zeiss lens with a sleek metal body. Probably one of my favorites to carry around for all occasions.

My other favorite is the Polaroid SX-70. If anyone wants to get into Polaroid, this is the one, It’s a collapsable SLR camera which gives you more control. Polaroids are the most unpredictable film to shoot but it’s also the most special.

I’m not letting go of film cameras anytime soon. There’s a magical quality to them. It’s more experimental. I don’t develop photos myself anymore (wish I did though!) so I never know what I’ll get after I pick up my photos from the labs. It can be a good thing because it’s out of my control and sometimes, I can be a control freak. The whole process of film just feels more raw and real to me. —Dabito


Nikon FM10, Diana F+,  Konica AutoReflex TC, Polaroid 420 Land Camera, Yashica T4 Super, Minolta Hi-Matic G, Yashica D, Holga, Argus C3, Contax T2, Konca C35, Kodak Jiffy, Yashica Pentamatic, Minolta Hi-Matic AF2, Polaroid SX-70, Ansco Memo, Polaroid spectra, Yashica Lynx-14, Canon Canonet Ql17, Olympus Ecru, Olympus X2 , Olympus Stylus Epic


{Attributes} Emilie Griottes

by kate on July 10, 2012

Today’s edition of Attributes comes from a designer whose color-coordinated culinary project, ”Pantone Tarts” spread like wildfire around the Internet, inspiring countless foodies and designers alike. Emilie Griottes is indeed a lover of color, and it should come as no surprise that her portrait in objects is our most rainbow-hued to date. You can read more about the individual items Emilie chose to represent herself below. And to see more of Emilie’s work, visit her website here—it should be mentioned, too, that her site is searchable by color … so brilliant. Thank you for participating, Emilie!

I’m a big collector! I love all small everyday objects of different shapes and colours. I keep everything in a big box and close it like a treasure chest. Every now and then, I open up my box and spend some time looking at one object after another, remembering—with a smile on my face —when I acquired each object. The common theme of all these souvenirs is colour.  —Emilie

Tickets: Whether plane tickets, museum, or exhibition tickets, I keep the tickets for absolutely everything from every trip I go on! A bus tickets, restaurant menu, or a train map. The idea is that one day I’ll take the time to make a massive travel collage by putting the tickets with photos. Going through my treasure, I found tickets that are over 10 years old. I was also delighted to find pretty tickets with gorgeous graphics. Sadly, we no longer have such beautiful plane tickets today, as they are more often than not just an email print-out. I think it’s a shame.

Pretty little sweets: My friend Adeline went to Japan and brought me back some pretty little sweets called Rakugan. I’ve treasured them ever since, without eating them, for their shapes are so delicate. I also collect beautiful tins with attractive typefaces and illustrations, or other interesting packaging.

Little dolls: I love small objects and try to bring one back from each trip. The small red horse is a Dala horse from Stockholm. The llama made of black stone comes from a city called San Pedro de Atacama in northern Chile. The driftwood comes from an island beach in Vancouver. The little Japanese dolls, however, are from Paris! I love the idea of keeping part of my memories and travels through these little dolls and other small objects.

Watercolours: I collect a lot of small bits of watercolour paper with different colours. I use them as my own personal colour references, or my pocket colour chart.

Clouds: I love the cloud shape and use it a lot. That’s why I wanted to create little clouds that I can keep nearby. So, I made little pottery clouds, which you can “adopt” on my shop online, though I’ll always keep one nearby!

Paris: I made these letters out of pottery, and added magnets to remind me how much I love Paris.


{Attributes} Kari Herer

by kate on May 24, 2012

Today I’m thrilled to share the newest addition to our Attributes column: photographer Kari Herer. I raved about Kari’s rich, tactile still life photographs last year. Since then, she’s created several new series that combine illustration with lush, colorful blossoms. I’m not surprised to see a couple cameras depicted her, and it was a real treat to read the stories behind some of the more mysterious objects in her portrait. Thank you for participating, Kari!

Monarch: We used to hatch monarchs under our kitchen table when I was a child. I remember watching the striped caterpillars turn to chrysalis and then into butterflies. It’s one of my fondest memories and someday I would like to visit the Monarch breeding grounds in Mexico.
Letterpress: The texture of letterpress warms my heart.
My Mother and Father: This was taken in Milwaukee en route to a wedding expo.
Old Camera
Ceramic tools: I spent many years working with clay and porcelain
Ceramic bird bone: Art piece that I made this during a residency in Massachusetts.
Dried Protea: I always keep dried flowers around my studio.
Collection of moss
Ceramic ear made by Richard Notkin: This is one of my favorite art pieces ever given to me (this is close to the size of my thumbnail). Because of Richard Notkin, I always ask myself after completing a project, “How can this be better—is it perfect?”
Old Duaflex
Ceramic heart, by Alica Mordenti: This ceramic heart fits in the palm of my hand and reminds me of my health. It’s a symbol to keep my heart healthy and strong. I took up running when I was 25 and haven’t stopped. It’s my healthy addiction.
Nest found on my doorstep
Tools I use for my illustrations
Emerson Made flower:
My favorite accessory.
Pentax Camera: First camera that my mother gave to me in high school.
Peony: My favorite flower.
Old Camera
Archie Bray Coin: I have held onto this coin reminding me of a very special carefree summer spent working at the Archie Bray in Montana.
Ceramic Bones: Art installation that I created as a ceramics major.
Tea bowl: This tea bowl was given to me by the artist Lee, Hun-Chung. I drink out of it when I need to calm my thoughts.
Dried Magnolia: This magnolia was dried on my studio floor.
Starfish: I keep many gifts from the ocean that I have collected through the years including rocks, sand, and shells.

—Kari Herer

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Our newest installment of “Attributes” comes from Hila Shachar, a freelance writer and the woman behind Le Projet D’Amour. I always gobble up Hila’s work, whether it be poetry, film critiques, or just general observations on art and culture. Hila has a new book coming out in August on the cultural extensions of classic literature, which I am equally eager to read. I’m thrilled that Hila has agreed to share her portrait-on-objects with us, and she describes her cherished mementos with her usual thoughtful, articulate prose. Thank you so much for sharing, Hila!

Sylvia Plath’s Collected Poems: Plath was one of the first poets to make a profound impact on me. Although I have numerous copies of her work, this particular book is special. I bought it a few years ago with my then-boyfriend. We were both in a miserable mood, feeling cold and tired. Every time I look at this book I remember crawling into bed in our underwear in his heater-less apartment, thinking of the synchronicity between Plath’s words and the rain
outside. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s a fond cliché.

My grandfather is a historian. A while ago, he gave my brother and I some tokens from an archaeological dig in Israel. Not only do I find it amazing to hold objects in my hand that were held by people so long ago, but I also think they represent my grandfather’s ability to make history significant in my life. He was the first person to instill in me a sense of history’s relevance in the present.

Graduation ticket:
When I got home from my PhD graduation ceremony, I went to place my ticket and program in a box where I keep mementos. The whole night felt extremely surreal to me. But when I found my other graduation ticket for my bachelor of arts degree, I remembered the way I felt in my previous graduation ceremony, when I had just started my PhD. I find it strange to look at my PhD certificate, almost as if it isn’t real. But looking at my undergraduate graduation ticket grounds me, because it takes me back to that moment when I was on the brink of it all.

Old family photos:
I get really attached to photos and these are some of my favorites of my mother, my father, and my grandfather. But there is one photo here that tellingly lacks a human presence. It’s a simple photo of flowers on the table, taken on a Shabbat dinner in my grandfather’s kibbutz. Behind the flowers, there’s a portrait of his brother, who was killed. This gaping absence in my grandfather’s life represents to me his own absence in mine, and how much I miss him.

Train tickets:
I love to collect train tickets. Sometimes they are more evocative than postcards, because the perfect postcard images don’t really speak of my real experiences when traveling, while a train ticket can take me back to a moment, a feeling, or a thought.

Turkish coffee:
I can recall some of the most important moments of my life through coffee. I also suspect that without it, my book would never have gotten finished. My favorite type is Turkish coffee, which in my family, is “cooked” over the stove and drunk in small shots with a heap of sugar. Strong and sweet is how we like it.

Interview tape:
This tape is a recording of the first interview I conducted with a Holocaust survivor. I’ll never forget it, as it fundamentally changed how I view the world and my place within it. I can still vividly remember the dizzy feeling I had after it was over, standing in the interviewee’s kitchen while he offered me some hot chocolate. This ordinary question seemed so moving after I had just seen this man weep like a child.  
{Photograph by Hila Shachar}


It’s been a little while since our last Attributes column, but we’re back today with a gorgeous portrait-in-objects of one of our favorite designers, Maria Alexandra Vettese. Maria has unique, impeccable taste, which shows through in her styling, art direction, and photography work, just as in her personal projects. It was treat to read Maria’s description of the artifacts in her collection and learn a bit more about her take on art making. Thanks for sharing, Maria!

In another life I would have been the type of artist who works with her hands. I suppose I do work with my hands in some ways, and certainly when I take photographs, but I mean really down and dirty work with my hands. The kind of work where you feel the grit on your hands and your soul. I think this collection of items which paints my character shows just how much the tactile world means to me. I love holding something simple and somewhat common in my hands. And then in an instant something cosmic happens when I touch it … I know it has a life of its own and it is mingling with mine. The object becomes a part of my world and I become a part of its world. Each time I see these items in my home/studio I remember the moment we first came into contact. Love at first sight. I am grateful for the depth they give to my everyday life.

You can see two of my favorite mugs—one being an antique with a very tiny handle and worn out ink and one being a Karin Eriksson piece. Every holiday season I order a big box from Karin. I have quite a collection and so do my loved ones. This is a tradition I plan to keep for the rest of my days. Karin’s work really speaks to me. You also see wood and rocks from many a beach walk. I limit myself to one rock per walk if I indeed happen to see one that speaks to me. The pale grey one with seaweed attached is a particular favorite. It’s really stunning and I swear, even after all this time, you can still smell the ocean on it. Also among these treasures is a ceramic bell made by White Forest Pottery, a gift from one of my closest friends. I adore how unique it looks and feels. The most important item in this collection is the small porcelain bird. The piece is broken, actually, and I have just one half but still it’s one of my most prized possessions. This bird speaks volumes about who I am and where I have come from. I can’t tell you the story but I can tell you that one of the most important people in my life has the other half (which is another bird). MAV

{Image above— Art Direction: MAV / Photography & Styling: Chloe May Brown}

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