travel blog

Kicking It Alone by Kenneth Dixon

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“You spent your birthday alone?!”

“You seem like such a personable human being.” 

I’m actually quite the opposite. As social as photographers are proclaimed to be, I often find solace and peace just shooting alone. The space between my eye, the lens and the subject are along a very fine line. Their distance is crucial, not only in regards to the mechanics of photography but in an atmospherical sense too. The energy between two beings, shared in one space to create, is the essence of what portrait photography is —But when a subject is an object or even space, the dynamic of the photograph changes, immensely.  

Here are a series of photographs I captured of two famous structures designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright - The Rookery and Robie House. The last few images are pictures of the Harper Center, located directly across the street from the Robie House. Its exterior is a nod to Wright's architectural prowess and inspiration. 

Nomad Chronicles by Kenneth Dixon

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“Believe you can and you’re halfway there”

- Theodore Roosevelt

Wait a minute, I’ve been here before! The temperature was below zero with snow lightly coating the ground. I remember fighting an insatiable eagerness to grapple with my fears, as I set off to cover my second NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto only a few years prior. The current day is quite different from the aforementioned work-caetion. Sitting on board my flight to LA, I take a moment and think to myself - "I’m covering the NBA All-Star weekend as an entrepreneur, passionate visual artist, creator, lover of sports, fashion and sneakers, with nothing to weigh me down". I remember going to Canada a few years ago for the first time. It was technically my first time out of the country, outside of a cruise I went on once that didn’t require a passport. Unlike reporting on my first NBA All-Star weekend in New York, Toronto seemed to have much more in store. I’d be covering so much at once in so little time. I’d booked interviews with Draymond Green, Nike designers, and had to capture event coverage for multiple brands. It all seemed overwhelming at the time, yet I was still more than prepared to embark on the journey. There was one catch though, my conflicting boss, who’d put so much pressure on me to shoot a ton of footage without any assistance, etched it in my brain that I needed to capture footage that would only get us millions of website visits, or YouTube views. On top of that, I’d have to navigate the city solo with no international phone service. While I didn’t get a ton of big-name interviews with the celebs he wanted, I came back with a load of contacts from networking, potential interviewees, and footage from every event I attended, minus this private Jordan Brand party that was held in a castle at this remote location. In hindsight, all of that pressure taught me how I needed to seize every opportunity. I was able to conceptualize new equipment that I needed to get certain jobs done, but my biggest lesson was that I needed to create art for myself and others who shared like-minded visions. I was being taken advantage of and not receiving the credit I needed for the hard work I was putting in. So this year, when I arrived in Los Angelas to cover the 2018 All-Star Weekend, I was creating liberally and collaborating with brands and people whom I’d built amicable relationships with. I’d even get a chance to share spaces with some of my favorite artists, Pharrell, Kanye West, Tinker Hatfield, 21 Savage, and Asap Rocky. Networking had played a major role in my success as an artist, particularly being a freelance creative. So being gifted with gab in addition to perfect timing played a major part in my recent triumphs. My affinity for fashion, sneakers, and art transcends casual fandom, so when opportunities arise to collaborate with brands like Nike, adidas, Asics and Jordan Brand, I’m appreciative and impelled to create something that moves not only myself but genuine fans of the culture.   

 

My Sit Down with a Creative in Portland by Kenneth Dixon

Inspiration can come from near or far, but for some creatives, it takes patience, divine timing, and an arduous curriculum. This can come from a mentor or teacher to help with creating consistency and precision. For Australian designer Vince Lebon, it took all of those things. However, one can argue the most valuable prerequisite is experience and a solid body of work to show from it.

After packing up his home & family in Melbourne, he decided to further his career in sneaker design in the U.S. There, Lebon accepted a spot in Pensole’s Footwear Design Academy Master Class of 2016. Additionally, a partnership with global sneaker retailer Foot Locker (“Fueling the Future of Footwear”) accompanied one of these programs.  As part of the program, Lebon and American shoe designer, Brady Corum, partnered up with Asics to launch their very own Asics Gel 180 colorway.

Since designing his sneaker collaboration with Footlocker and Asics, Lebon has been working on his own brand and inspiring big-name designers such as adidas VP Marc Dolce. He also landed a role as a full-time creative consultant and designer for the Three Stripes Brand.

I was able to sit down with Lebon during a creative boot camp at Pensole Academy. While there, we were able to get some insight on Lebon’s creative process, and what life’s been like since completing his education at the academy. Check out the full interview above to hear more from footwear designer and creative Vince Lebon.

Breaking Chains Afterthought by Kenneth Dixon

Sept. 2016

It's funny how life works...in this moment I'm feeling an immense amount of pain, in an emotional sense. It feels like my life's work has been erased from me. My uninsured camera that was just purchased months ago, new mac book and 2 hard drives were stolen from me, right from underneath my nose. I could blame myself for leaving my things in the car somewhat exposed but if they hadn't been showing i may have lost something else in another form. Ironically enough i was just mentioning how diverse and extensive my portfolio was and now it's been taken away from me. My world had literally crumbled when i saw my bag was no longer where i left. I asked myself a why was this happening to me? What had i done to deserve this? In the same breath i had remained calm and thought to myself, this is the start to a new awakening, and growth in my life. Those items were taken away from me to open up the door for other necessities. I won't stay down nor beat myself up about what is now in the past. It's now time to be more creative.  I have nothing to lose at this point. My material items were stolen but not my ideas, creativity, and will to continue to pursue my passions. 


Oct. 8th '17, 2017

A year ago today I curated and featured my art in my debut solo exhibition Breaking Chains. Twelve months prior to today, I was breaking the omnipresent chains of fear, insecurity, and doubt, that were in my life at the time. Though some of those same demons haunt me from time to time, I've had time to deprogram and develop new meditation habits that rid me of those inhibitions. I sit back reflecting on the year and I'm forever grateful for all that I've accomplished and overcome. Since losing my equipment and hosting my exhibition a year ago, I've learned to shoot with new video equipment, began teaching myself how to edit video, studied and learned intricate photoshop editing techniques, shot parts of a documentary in Jamaica, covered the 2017 NCAA Final Four tournament, created my own blog, and long list of other things I'm proud of and want to show gratitude for. 

I remember writing this list of affirmations some days before my show to help ease all of the anxiety I was overwhelmed with. Assessing the list now and reflecting on the show I realize how I forgot to do one of the most important tasks on the list, "Always remember to have fun." The experience was awesome. I can recall learning so much from curating my show, like how to get the proper measurements of the room and hanging every piece to have equal amount spacing between each piece, and different supplies needed to preserve my prints to name a few. What I don't have any recollection of is truly enjoying the occasion, basking in it and sharing that beautiful moment with everyone who came to support me. I remember being more concerned with working my own event, making sure everyone was sharp on the tasks I had delegated to them, and overseeing everything so that my guests were having a good time. If I could take any one thing from that night, it's that I should have put more of myself first and had fun. In any project that you've created, that's your baby, you should reap the benefits of your labor. When your job becomes work, you've then removed all of the love and liberation from your art.

My exhibition did inspire at least one person. The prints for the show were stunning. I was happy with the way my notes were displayed around the gallery space and how it showcased my transitioning throughout my adventure in Europe. I gave a speech at the end of the evening that I totally wasn't prepared for. I was a wreck honestly and nervous but I was proud that I overcame that fear of public speaking in that moment. Mishaps did occur, but I wasn't surprised by them and I handled them with an open and optimistic mind. Discerning life's happenstances are still how I create and are a big part of my inspiration.

Happy one year anniversary Breaking Chains! Huge thanks to everyone who was involved. 


Exhibition Affirmations 

"Your exhibition is going to inspire at least one person in an exorbitant amount

Your prints are going to come out wonderfully 

Your words will be illustrated in a way that you'll be proud of

Your comfort zone will be breached but you shall grow from it

Remain optimistic but be ready for mishaps 

Always remember to have fun 

Listen to life...express from it"

The collection of images and video clip displayed above were shot in different parts of Europe on my iphone. 

Change of Heart by Kenneth Dixon

July 28th '17, 11:41 am

Exhausted from taking thousands of steps walking around the museum of science and industry as an elementary student, I never would imagine how fascinated I'd become over a decade later with the structural compositions and art within various museums. As a kid, field trips to the museum were always mundane activities that I had a discontentment for. Lacking enthusiasm, I'd trudge through these ginormous edifices wondering why I couldn't touch one artifact or walk around without a chaperone watching my every move in hopes that I wouldn't break the "Do Not Touch" rule. At that age, I could only recall trips to the Shed Aquarium being exciting. Despite not being able to touch most of the marine life there, I could at least accept that these exhibits were alive, and not fossils or old artifacts. 

Those earlier sentiments I possessed as a young child, I no longer favor. Every chance I get to travel to a new state or country for more than a day, visiting a museum or art gallery becomes a must. These explorations are typically essential in order for me to feel some sort of satisfaction while traveling, but I admit they're not always what they're cracked up to be. Where the art may lack in some of these locations, the installation and structural design behind them pick up the slack. Isolated displays, dramatically highlighted by overhead light fixtures, high ceilings, linear patterns of walls and frames, exaggerated shadows, and art composition all catch my eye from a photographic standpoint when the art isn't as stimulating.    

Amid my recent travels to Washington D.C., I was able to carve out some time to explore the immediate area around my hotel. While wandering the DC area a bit I passed by the National Building Museum then walked a few blocks to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Three hours and thousands of steps later, I had successfully experienced one of the Smithsonian Museums for the first time. By far it was one of the largest I had been to, featuring over 3,000 pieces spread across 3 different floors. The contemporary American Art exhibits were so diverse, showcasing the art of different cultures and races in an array of mediums. I found the John F. Kennedy, Kerry James Marshall and American Presidents displays to be some of the most intriguing. The aforementioned presidential display provoked my thoughts on slavery in the past. I hadn't known what every president looked like or what all of their contributions to the United States were, but I couldn't help but ponder which ones were racists and fascists.  Every president had a painted portrait except for one, President Barrack Obama. His segment only featured a portrait that was taken during his presidency and a statement saying how Obama's painting is still in the works and should be up by next year. Despite the presidential gallery being fairly new to the Smithsonian, I couldn't help but feel adverse opinions about his portrait not being complete; After all, his portrait was the one I was most excited to view. I wondered who the artist would be to paint Obama's portrait, and how she or he would capture the essence of his character on canvas. 

Marlene Dietrich's Dressed For The Image gallery can also be added to the list of impressive expositions. While it wasn't too privy to the history of Dietrich, and how she was classified as one of the biggest Hollywood stars during the early and mid-1900's, I was impressed by her display in the National Portrait Gallery. The most distinguishing features about her gallery was her portraits. She photographed well, and some of the candid shots of her during her youth were amazing. They evoked so much emotion, from both the viewer and subject. I'll include some images of her below. 

If you're an avid museum goer I'd highly recommend checking out all of the Smithsonian Museums if you have enough time. The American Art Smithsonian is one of the largest in the US so mapping out your day so you can get enough time to experience the entire museum is necessary. Next up on the list is the African American Art Museum, MOSAÏCANADA 150/Gatineau 2017 and the Storm King Art Center.