Posts from the ‘LINKS’ category

I first met Tanya in one of my Comparative Literature classes at New York University. In addition to being gorgeous and self-possessed she is a brilliant teacher who genuinely cares about people.  The photo above taken by James Meade is from a shoot she did with CLAM Magazine. This is my interview with her:

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Philadelphia and raised in London, Guinea and spent most of my childhood in Cote d’Ivoire. My mother is from Cote d’Ivoire and my father is American.

How have your travels as a student and with the UN influenced you?

Traveling and living abroad in my formative years definitely influenced me. It helped cultivate awareness and curiosity of the greater global community that we are a part of living in West Africa.  Being surrounded by countries in conflict such as Sierra Leone and Liberia sparked my interest in political science, global affairs, human rights and languages.  I love to learn new languages and hopefully I will pick up more in my lifetime. Interacting with people around the world in their own languages is something I have always wanted. My recent trip to the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva was an opportunity for me to meet some influential people and learn more about what the UN does and how it works. It allowed me to get a better sense of where I stand and where I would like to stand in making a difference in the world.

What are the rewards of being a yoga and meditation teacher?

The personal reward is a better sense of self and a healthier mind and body. I’m doing a year-long training with the School for Compassionate Action ( where I learn the tools to work with at risk youth, trauma survivors and people with chronic illnesses.  We all have the ability to heal; our bodies and minds are amazing and powerful. The reward is that I am a constant student as well as being able to impart tools and humbly offer guidance to people so that they may find it in themselves to heal-if they find a little more peace and calm in their day, find that they can focus or have more energy then there is value in the work we do.

Who inspires you?

It sounds cheesy and cliché, but all the people who work hard to make a difference in the world and who fight for and with those who are often not heard.

What are you most passionate about?

Our bodies and minds have a language of their own. Yoga and meditation give us the tools to figure it out.  I’m passionate about all things related to holistic healing-mind body and soul. You cannot treat just one of those things. Healing is about tapping into all three and recognizing that they are all connected and related. I’m passionate about and looking forward to working with and learning from women and children in under-served communities all around the world. I’m hoping to continue my studies. I will probably have to create my own degree in social work, counseling, human rights and holistic wellness. But that is exciting to me. I think it is important to note that some of the work we are doing crosses over into all these fields of studies. It would be interesting to see how holistic healing will become incorporated into the established higher education degree programs in the years to come.

Tanya will soon be launching a blog and can be reached by e-mail at to arrange private and small group yoga sessions.

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I first met Veronica Chan while studying in Prague. Her blog World to Table has delicious photos of food and she also has a brilliant personal style. Make sure to check out her design work for Hail the Right Brain. This is my feature with her:

I dig your designs for Hail the Right Brain. How long have you been doing it and are you a lefty?

I’ve been making wallets since high school.  It all started when my sister Kelly wanted to buy a ticket to a concert and made wallets to sell to her friends.  Duct tape just happened to be the easiest medium she could get her hands on and was a cheap medium to experiment with — if you mess up, throw it out and start over.  With garbage scraps and a roll of tape from the dollar store, she fashioned her first wallet and sold it to a friend.  Shortly after that, it became more of a collaborative effort.  We put our heads together to think of new ways to improve the prototype.

Over the years, we must have made hundreds of wallets; every wallet was an improvement on the last.  The first wallet must have taken Kelly a few hours to make, now it takes about 20 minutes from start to finish.  We’ve got it down to a science, using the least amount of tape possible to make each wallet.  We utilize each tape scrap in the most effective way to reduce wastage and make the most out of each roll.  We’ve also explored new ways to polish and perfect the design — we developed an ID holder, a change purse with a Velcro closure and even invested in an embosser to press our company name onto each design.

Apart from the practicality of making wallets, it’s a creative outlet.  I keep a shoebox full of magazine scraps that I’ve collected over the years, spread it out on a table, then piece together designs until it looks right.  I’ve also screen-printed onto a few of them, which came out pretty cool.  I may have been a little too ambitious when I attempted to print a woodblock design and rolled a wallet through the printmaking press. That technique was less successful and resulted in a few wallet-casualties.

Oh, and Kelly and I are both righties.

Why did you start World to Table?

World to Table is just a way to document and share some cool food experiences that I’ve had.  I like trying new cuisines and new foods. More specifically, I like learning about and sharing the stories and culture behind the food.  I’m no chef or culinary authority, but I enjoy eating and cooking. I hope that by sharing these experiences, more people will be compelled to step out of their comfort zones, try something new, venture into new culinary territory, and expand their minds.

Your feature on whether cooking is nature vs. nurture was fascinating. What is a super taster?

I noticed that the majority of food bloggers or foodies, whatever you want to call them, tend to be Asian females.  I thought it was a bizarre phenomenon and pieced together a few of my observations to formulate a pseudo-hypothesis. Contrary to the Asian stereotype, I’m very right brained and am not so great at math or science, so this whole nature vs. nurture debate could just be a crazy idea I thought up.  A super taster is someone who has more taste buds than a normal person, so they taste things more intensely.

Where was your best meal with friends this summer?

I hate picking favorites, so I can’t say I have one favorite, but I’ve had some pretty great meals in Queens when I went to recruit restaurants for a food event I helped to produce on Labor Day.  Ploy Thai in Elmhurst has some unique dishes, like a wrap made from betel leaves and this crazy bright pink seafood soup that smells like feet, but tastes delicious.

What inspires you?

People who are passionate, innovative and go against the grain.  Playing safe is easy and boring, it takes real guts to do something different and unexpected.  For instance, I met this small Asian woman who is a computer programmer at IBM who is also a prolific fly fisher, which got her involved with a non-profit that preserves the Croton Watershed.  She loves it, and goes fly fishing with 60 year old men on the weekends. Now, that’s pretty cool.


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Currently I’m working as the Photo Editor of Inside New York, a NYC guidebook written and compiled by college students. When I learned about 81 Press I immediately knew I wanted to feature them and was really interested in the editing process for their publications. I had the luck of doing an interview with Carla Williams, a photographer, co-founder of cadreart, writer, and editor of 81 Press.

What is 81 Press?

81 Press has two functions—its primary one is to publish the work of photographers of the African Diaspora in a quarterly journal and book series, and its secondary function as is to catalog and review publications of and by African Diaspora subjects—to create a virtual as well as (eventually) a physical library of these titles. Unfortunately for black photographers, there really haven’t been very many publications to date, but fortunately for readers/collectors, you can amass a pretty comprehensive library of titles. has regular contributors/reviewers—different from, where I’m the only writer and the content varies. I really want’s sole focus to be on publishing. I’ve just accepted a teaching position at Rochester Institute of Technology which will allow me to develop the press component so that 81 Press can begin producing new titles (to date, 81 Press has published only a couple of small offset titles in conjunction with other collaborators—it hasn’t yet published its own titles). This has been an idea of mine a long time in the making but it is really with the advances in digital printing technology and the move away from traditional offset printing models that it can finally be realized. I’m pretty excited about the possibilities—there is so much wonderful, as-yet-unpublished work!

When did your interest in photography begin and what was your first camera?

My interest began at the end of my freshman year in college—I had been making snapshots since high school and decided I wanted to take a photography class. You had to apply to take the class, and I remember going down to the basement where the darkrooms were for my interview and seeing all the equipment and smelling the chemistry and I felt like I’d entered into a magical world. I just wanted to be a part of it. I’m surprised I got in the class! My first “real” camera was a 35mm Canon, I think, that my father got secondhand—all of my equipment was secondhand until well after graduate school. I remember initially the instructor talking to us about using our cameras and making the basic assumption that we’d all at least used a 35mm before, but I had not, and I was too embarrassed to say I did not even know how to use my camera, so pretty much from the beginning I floundered technically, but I loved it so much I was undaunted.

I noticed how influential a book like Sweet FlyPaper of Life was for the photographer Deborah Willis as a young girl, how can publications move us to create new images?

Books have always been my primary inspiration, and to this day I prefer to experience photographs in book format. For me, Jean Paul Goude’s Jungle Fever featuring Grace Jones was the one—it was the first photo book featuring black women that I’d seen and it was taboo and exciting and crazy and awful and great all at once—I couldn’t march to class waving it, proclaiming it as inspiration—in fact, I probably didn’t realize then just how influential it was—but it was always there on the (non-circulating) library shelf where I worked and I could return to it, hold it, sit with it, flip through quickly or linger over it. I don’t think I ever imagined making those kinds of photographs myself, but in time I did, to some degree. Publications allow us a kind of intimate, long-term relationship with images that is harder to sustain with a print on the wall, especially if it’s a gallery or museum wall and it doesn’t hang there forever.

I have been writing and editing friends’ work since grad school and started as a junior editor in 2005, though, really, as a photographer and writer you are constantly editing photographs, both your own and the ones around you. I love it! The most challenging part of editing a journal is figuring out what works well together in terms of getting the right match of content to flow and play off one another—sometimes it isn’t the work you thought you’d go with at a particular time, but somehow it just works with what you already have—plus, you have to be prepared for content falling out at the last minute for a variety of reasons and have to have backup that fits the bill.

How did you get involved in editing photos? What has been the most challenging part of the experience?

In editing an artist’s images for publication, the challenge is to balance the most interesting work with the work that will reproduce the best, the images that might already have a recognition factor (so that people will want to stop and look), and the images that the artist herself wants to have put forward. As artists, especially, if we meet with some success for a particular body of work, we tire of it and have a tendency to want to show new or different work with each new request, forgetting that just because we’ve seen our own images a million times doesn’t mean that everyone else has. As the editor, you want every reader to have a way in to the work, so you also want to try to be representative without being just a catalog of greatest hits. For a book, though, it’s very different, because what might represent well in 5- 7 images in a journal may not hold up as 40-60 images in a book. I tend to like single-theme books rather than surveys because they have a compact completeness to them, although there’s also something to be said for having a wealth of information in a single volume. Um, yeah, I love books. Love them.

When is your next lecture?

I think I am participating on a panel that Deborah Willis is organizing for the Society for Photographic Education conference in Philadelphia in March—until then, I’ll be practicing on my students! I haven’t really taught much before so this will definitely be a new challenge.


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