Category Archives: Photographer Q&A

Photographer Q&A with Michael Hanson

Breaking Through Concrete (January 2012)

Aurora Photographer Michael Hanson recently took some time from his busy schedule to answer questions and talk about his upcoming book, Breaking Through Concrete.

Aurora Photos: Your photographs have you all over the world, how do you keep up with such a crazy travel schedule?

Michael Hanson: Lots of sticky notes on where to go next. I have struggle to be more organized than I naturally am to keep all the rental cars, flights, etc in order. I definitely travel differently than I did when I first started, but the anticipation and excitement of working outside the NW remains the same. I’ve become more targeted in my approach to a trip. I’m not wandering around aimlessly, though a huge part of me really misses that style. Photography is a key to people’s lives and homes. It’s an easy way to get access that other travelers don’t have, and I feel very fortunate to see other places and cultures through the camera. One thing the schedule has done has made part of me crave the Northwest and home. I love waking in my house and seeing my friends in Seattle, but after a short rest, I’m anxious to get back on the road. It’s a win-win, I guess.

A.P: You recently finished a study on Urban Farming, can you please share with us your experience and insight on this issue?

M.H: I was in Bolivia working on a project when news came in that the publisher had signed on to the idea of an urban farming ‘tour’ across the US. Immediately, we decided we couldn’t just drive a Subaru or a pickup truck to all these farms for 7 weeks; we had to do it with a certain style. In Bolivia, immaculate, white, retro-buses carry locals from one point to another. These buses are a brilliant white with an almost neon, summer popsicle colored stripe on the side. This inspiration led us to buy a short school bus which had been converted to an RV and ran on a combination veggie grease and diesel. We painted it white with a blue stripe on the side. We named him Lewis Lewis after a farming friend of ours who had recently passed away. We traveled for 7 weeks from Seattle to California across the Midwest to New Orleans and up the East Coast finally ending in Chicago. Each farm represents a different aspect of this urban farming movement. Some work with youth, some work with ex-incarcerated men and women, some are on rooftops, some are in the heart of a suburb and one was a collection of everyone’s yard. Of all the trips I’ve be lucky enough to be a part of, this remains at the top of the list. Every day was wild. I knew zero about diesel engines when we started and now I feel much more comfortable under the hood, or at least under the hood of a short school bus. I am sure that will come in handy again one day. Seriously though, sometimes the most adventurous trips aren’t in exotic locations or foreign countries. I can’t imagine a trip with more highs and lows, but I look back at this project as my favorite.

A.P: When will the book be Published and how can we find out more information about Urban Farming?

M.H: Breaking Through Concrete :: Building an Urban Farm Revival will be published in January 2012 by Univ. California Press. You can visit www.breakingthroughconcrete.com over the next few months as the website begins to get rebuilt in anticipation of the book release.

Michael Hanson / Aurora Photos
Michael Hanson / Aurora Photos

To view Michael Hanson’s Select Portfolio, visit Aurora Select.
To view more work from Michael Hanson, visit Aurora Photos.

Photographer Q&A with Craig Pulsifer on Watertight


Aurora Photographer Craig Pulsifer was recently faced with a photographer’s nightmare: what to do when your model doesn’t arrive? Like a true professional, Craig took matters into his own hands.

Aurora Photos: Please share with us the backstory on how you ended up starring in your own video?

Craig Pulsifer: The reason I’m in the video and not the athletic, self-assured Filipina who was cast for the part is because the talent missed her flight.  I either had to work on both sides of the lens or call the whole thing off, so I went for it.

A.P: You seem able to adapt to any situation that is thrown at you, how has this skill impacted your career in photography?

C.P: I’m not sure if my adaptability has impacted my career, or if the career has made me adaptable.  Early on, we moved our whole family of seven into the one-bedroom suite of our house and rented the upstairs for a whole year, just to survive.  Through that, I learned how to put an old Filipino proverb into practice that says, “If the sheets are short, bend your legs.”  It taught me to improvise.

That said, adaptability is the key to all good location work.  Dealing with people, places, weather, gear and other mysteries will always bring surprises.  That’s why I tend to write my plans in pencil rather than ink.  It leaves room for happy accidents to occur that you could never script or arrange; thinks like, a break in the clouds, an amazing location… and maybe even acting ability when your talent jams on you.

To view more work from Craig Pulsifer, visit Aurora Photos.

Photographer Q&A with Fernanda Preto on BECO

“At the riverside of a narrow arm of Rio Negro in downtown Manaus, families live in suspended blockhouses over what has become a huge urban dump. Sensitive issues such as family, religion and poverty put together a complex mosaic of poetic disturbing images.”

Aurora Photos: What inspired you to make a documentary about the families living in downtown Manaus?

Fernanda Preto: The Amazon just got me in such a special way, I always wanted to go back there and hear the stories about the rain forest, the river, the adventures of living in the middle of the Amazon. Manaus is in the middle of the rain forest. It has a special atmosphere, even with all the barriers to living in a traditional way and the contradictions of a big city. As the city is growing and expanding, things are changing fast in Manaus. Traditional manners are in transition, the relations of the RIBEIRINHOS (people that used to live on the riverside in the forest), now living in the city, are changing dramatically everyday. I see that this change, this transition is history and it is an important story to be told! Not only in a superficial way, but to get inside these people’s lives and see how they go through these changes!

A.P: Can you explain what it was like working in such an austere environment?

F.P: Manaus is a very under developed city in terms of living. Most parts of the city are suburbs, which means that Manaus has a very clear separation of social classes; very poor and very rich. People used to say that it took five hundred years to have 1 million inhabitants and just 20 years to have another million; you can imagine how crowded Manaus is. Manaus also has a housing problem, mostly due to land invasion like the place we filmed. Well, this makes these places very hard to live, considering the drinking water and sewage.

Like any big city, the poor suburbs are an austere environment,and this place isn’t different. Sometimes in violence, but mostly in their ways of thinking, in how they understand the world and how they react to it.

It was very hard to encounter everyday with people living below the poverty line and know that is a very optomistic thought that the govnermment of this country will resolve this!! Why is the govnermment of the Amazon thinking about have the Soccer world cup, spending millions on the stadium, and these people do not even have food to eat! The hardest thing coming face to face with this reality that is very common in my country!!! It was hard to see that people just got used to living like that!

A.P: All of the interviews seem private and sincere, was it hard to get the people of Manaus to open up to you? How were you able to do it?

F.P: Manaus is my home!! Even though I had lived there for only 3 years, it felt like an eternity because of the way people respond to you. The Amazon people have such a cozy way of interacting with you, it is amazing! At first they are a little bit suspicious, because of their own past and the way they understand the “time”, but once you open up to them, everything changes!!! While living in Manaus I went to this place twice to do an essay about it, and I already knew the history of the place. When me and Bruno (the film director) got there, we went to speak with the community president, Mrs. Selma and she received us very well. After explaining our idea to her, she introduced us to some people, and that is how we got started. Then one family introduced us to others, and the kids from that place were always around, wanting pictures and to be filmed; in a way, we felted absorbed by the community and after 3 weeks filming we had a story! Many times we spent an entire day inside a family`s house observing their way of life, from very early in the morning to late into the night! Bruno Jorge, as a formal documentary director, has some devices to get the people to answer some hard questions about their lives; together we developed a very friendly atmosphere.

A.P: When can we look forward to seeing the entire Documentary?

F.P: At this time, we have started to send the film to festivals around the world. The idea is to have the film selected in an international festival, have the preview there, and them make a premiere here in São Paulo. After that, we can start the film distribution.

To see more work from Fernanda Preto, visit Aurora Photos.