Photographer-Driven Projects, with Ashok Sinha and Anabel DFlux

09/14/2023Link0

How central is your personal drive and unique creative vision to the pictures you make? If these characteristics strike a chord or are traits to which you aspire, then you won’t want to miss our inspiring chats with photographers Ashok Sinha and Anabel DFlux. We caught up with both of these accomplished creatives earlier this year at B&H’s 2023 Depth of Field Conference.

Above photograph © Ashok Sinha

We begin with architectural photographer Ashok Sinha, whose personal project to document iconic mid-century structures and classic cars in Southern California resulted in the crowd-pleasing monograph Gas & Glamour, now in its second printing. Sinha offers valuable insights about how channeling his passions and not overthinking the details allowed him to bring his photography career to new heights—resulting in his work being displayed as a massive billboard in downtown LA, released as limited-edition NFTs, and featured in gallery exhibitions in collaboration with an international fashion brand.

Union 76 Gas Station, 427 N. Crescent Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. The parabolic concrete roof was sketched for the Los Angeles International airport. Instead, it became a Beverly Hills gas station canopy in 1965. Fluorescent tubes and red squares around the edge underscore the swooping UFO vibe.
Union 76 Gas Station, 427 N. Crescent Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. The…
McDonald’s, 10207 Lakewood Blvd., Downey, CA 90241. America’s oldest surviving McDonald’s dates to 1953, and a franchise that predates the McDonald’s Corporation. In 1994, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed it as endangered. The stucco shed and canted plate glass windows were subsequently restored.
McDonald’s, 10207 Lakewood Blvd., Downey, CA 90241. America’s oldest…
Jet Wash, 939 W Manchester Blvd, Inglewood, CA 90301. Tunnel-style automated car washes proliferated during the rise of car culture. This 1961 Inglewood example is well-preserved—and still open for business. Its oversized sign and jet-age scalloped fins distinguish an otherwise unremarkable structure.
Jet Wash, 939 W Manchester Blvd, Inglewood, CA 90301. Tunnel-style…
Chips, 11908 Hawthorne Blvd., Hawthorne, CA 90250. This 1957 diner serves up understated elegance thanks to a Taliesin-trained architect. Its grey/green exterior, meticulous stonework walls, and creamy semicircular booths recall the architectural teachings of Frank Lloyd Wright. A new dining patio remains the primary design alteration.
Chips, 11908 Hawthorne Blvd., Hawthorne, CA 90250. This 1957 diner…
Saga Motor Hotel, 1633 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91106. In 1959, this flat-roofed hotel was essentially a pit stop along Route 66—a desert oasis with tall palm trees around a bright blue swimming pool. Today it’s a visual marker in the famous New Year’s Day Rose Parade. In 2002, the memorable Moorish typeface prompted designation as a Pasadena Historic Sign.
Saga Motor Hotel, 1633 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91106. In 1959,…
Bowlium, 4666 Holt Blvd, Montclair, CA 91763. This 1958 bowling alley is the work of Long-Beach-based Gordon Powers. His architectural firm is credited with orienting the game away from men and moving it into the family realm. Lithe rounded structural arches mark the building entrance for passing drivers.
Bowlium, 4666 Holt Blvd, Montclair, CA 91763. This 1958 bowling alley…
Norm’s Coffee Shop, 470-478 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048. Restauranteur Norm Roybark opened this landmark location in 1957. Currently the oldest in his Norm’s diner chain, it preserves the nautical sign and sharp cantilevered canopy. In 2015, real estate investors applied for demolition, but the local cultural commission voted for preservation as a Historic-Cultural Monument.
Norm’s Coffee Shop, 470-478 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048…
Flamingo Motel, 6105 N Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91606. This 1961 building features a projecting pink soffit of sculpted stucco and an illuminated red arrow pointing travelers through the porte-cochere to a parking lot and two-story rear wing. The location dates to the era when motels littered this route from Los Angeles to northbound U.S. Route 99.
Flamingo Motel, 6105 N Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91606. This…
Pann’s Coffee Shop, 6710 La Tijera Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045. Original family owners lovingly maintain this space-age 1958 diner with a “tortoise shell” roof. Classic features include the animated neon sign, tropical plantings, terrazzo floors, plate glass windows, and stone walls. Frequently used in films, the building received a 1993 Conservancy Preservation Award following restoration.
Pann’s Coffee Shop, 6710 La Tijera Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045…
The Donut Hole, 15300 Amar Rd., La Puente, CA 91744. This whimsical drive-thru was built sometime between 1947 and 1968. The original chain bakery went bust in 1979. Subsequent owners restored one of the large brown fiberglass rings after damage from a 2004 car crash. Local lore says newlyweds still visit the bakery as a fertility rite.
The Donut Hole, 15300 Amar Rd., La Puente, CA 91744. This whimsical…
Ashok Sinha Portrait
Ashok Sinha Portrait
Ashok Sinha

After the break, professional animal photographer Anabel DFlux describes how she fashioned a personal penchant for pets into a sustainable career path while still a teen. Yet, despite her clear passion for and talent with pets, DFlux reaches beyond a single photographic specialty to cultivate work across multiple niches—including the heady realm of rock and roll.

A Hungarian Mudi surveys the expanse of a Texas field.
A Hungarian Mudi surveys the expanse of a Texas field.
A Dalmatian puppy prancing in the sunlight
A Dalmatian puppy prancing in the sunlight
Sora catching a frisbee in the ocean
Sora catching a frisbee in the ocean
Horse chilling with its handler in a Nevada lake
Horse chilling with its handler in a Nevada lake
Attentive dog in the Las Vegas Arts District
Attentive dog in the Las Vegas Arts District
Human subject petting a fox at the JAB Canid Education & Conservation Center
Human subject petting a fox at the JAB Canid Education & Conservation…
Maeve the wolfdog from Running with Wolfdogs
Maeve the wolfdog from Running with Wolfdogs
A dog takes a high-flying leap during one of Anabel’s innovative powder sessions.
A dog takes a high-flying leap during one of Anabel’s innovative powder…
Portrait of an Arabian horse
Portrait of an Arabian horse
Anabel DFlux on location with her camera
Anabel DFlux on location with her camera
Anabel DFlux

Check out these real-life career examples and walk away with an equal measure of inspiration and practical tips. 

Guests: Ashok Sinha and Anabel DFlux

Sponsored by

Episode Timeline:

  • 1:20: Ashok Sinha’s personal project about mid-century Los Angeles architecture and classic cars, and his resulting book Gas and Glamour, currently in its second printing.
  • 6:13: Determining the pecking order between cars and architecture: Sinha is a car guy first, and the car he would kill for—a 1955 Thunderbird.
  • 8:36: The relationship between Sinha’s images of architecture and cars in terms of design elements, and his use of book collaborators, such as an architect, a curator, and a magazine editor, in producing the book.
  • 10:48: Working with the publisher Kerher Verlag, and their accomplishments based on budget and working through COVID. Plus, book specs, and the use of QR codes for Google maps to each architectural location.
  • 13:19: Keeping the book alive through an NFT project with Sloica, a massive billboard in Los Angeles, an exhibition at the Center for Book Arts, and a collaboration with a fashion brand that partially funded the book, involving exhibits in 20 Japanese cities.
  • 19:32: Episode Break
  • 20:43: Anabel DFlux describes how she transformed a precocious interest in photography and her love for dogs into a lucrative pet photography career while still a teen.
  • 25:05: DFlux’s work with various animal organizations, from the American Kennel Club (AKC) to the nonprofit JABCECC, a conservation facility for wild canids.
  • 28:58: The matter of anthropomorphizing pets and projecting individual feelings onto an image, and ways to photograph pets to bring out the right look using positive conditioning and exposure.
  • 35:34: Expected poses and traditions for photographing pets, such as show dogs and horses. Plus, animals and flash photography vs. continuous light. DFlux uses tube lights with a client’s favorite color and an octagon soft box plus colored rim lights.
  • 41:15: Is it possible to photograph more than one subject and not have a specific niche? Yes it is, citing DFlux’s specialties in pet and music photography.

Guest Bios:

Born in Calcutta, Ashok Sinha is an American filmmaker and photographer who shoots lifestyle and creative culture though a contemporary architectural lens. Before pursuing an art career, Sinha programmed telecom satellites for the U.S. government after graduating from Columbia University. He left behind a second career in advertising, and eventually settled in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

Sinha’s timeless images capture a sense of place wherever he finds himself. On the centennial of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s voyage, Sinha crossed the Drake Passage on an icebreaker, photographing for the National Geographic Image Collection. He fell for modern design on a travel assignment documenting Oscar Niemeyer’s architecture in Rio de Janeiro. He drove 2,500 miles shooting Gas and Glamour, an art book of Los Angeles roadside buildings from the golden age of car culture. Chosen by both The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles magazine as a top photo book in 2020, a review in The Guardian wrote that it’s “easy to get lost in nostalgia, and even escapism, looking at Sinha’s photographs.”

As a cinematographer and cofounder of Story Font Studio, Sinha produces documentary films and videos for commercial clients. His 2019 Sticker City short was featured by Amazon’s All Voices festival, and Pigeon Kings of Brooklyn was screened at the 2015 Syfy Brooklyn Bridge Park film festival. Sinha is licensed as an FAA certified drone pilot, and his studio is a certified New York State and New York City Minority Business Enterprise. In 2010, Sinha founded the Cartwheel Initiative, a nonprofit devoted to empowering at-risk youth through visual storytelling.

Anabel DFlux began her artistic journey at age 10 after being gifted her first camera. This newfound passion quickly turned into a skilled endeavor, and by 15 she had opened her own photography service, DFlux Photography, which became a full-time profession by age 17. Although her photography is a self-taught skill, DFlux holds an Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design and Visual Communications, and a Bachelor’s in Business Marketing, with a focus on branding and content marketing.
  
DFlux Photography began as a canine portrait service for Los Angeles-area pet owners at local dog parks and community events. She soon moved into the world of dog sports, photographing for a wide range of clubs and organizations. DFlux’s work has been featured by the American Kennel Club and the United States Dog Agility Association, and she has photographed national and international canine champions, as well as their litters.  

Rejecting the idea of a single niche, DFlux also photographs family portraits, captures engagement sessions, and documents musicians and bands, all with a goal to bring out the individuality, beauty, and character of her every subject. She always puts a client’s comfort above all else, and actively ensures each session is filled with nothing but fun, laughter, and life-long memories.  

Perhaps the most unique and interesting twist in DFlux’s photographic career is her partnership and work with exotic animals, such as wolfdogs (commonly, but by scientific standards improperly, called “wolf hybrids”), various species of foxes, dingoes, and tigers. By partnering with organizations to bring these creatures to photo shoots, she seeks to debunk myths surrounding these animals, encourage the public to protect their wild counterparts, and raise funds for conservation. Contrary to popular belief, these are not wild animals; they are domestically bred to be a part of a respected ambassador program. They are specially trained and cared for to love the company of people.

A passionate teacher, DFlux offers photography instruction to the public, and serves as an educational writer for several online photography resources. As a self-taught photographer, she has a different understanding of learning, and is skilled in assisting students who struggle with traditional learning schemes and lesson plans. She teaches students of all skill levels and with all types of camera equipment, in addition to offering instruction in post-processing techniques and artistic business management skills. DFlux has taught seminars at Canon USA, and at Samy’s Photo School in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Santa Ana. In 2019, DFlux became an ambassador for Sigma Corporation of America, and she has since dedicated her time to education through Sigma's incredible array of events! 
 
DFlux loves giving back to the community, and regularly donates photo sessions and creates visual content for organizations such as CLEAR Canine Cancer & Lymphoma, East Valley Animal Shelter, Adopt the Arts Foundation, multiple wolf conservation centers, and the Judith A Bassett Canid Conservation & Education Center.

Stay Connected:

Ashok Sinha Website: https://ashoksinha.com
Ashok Sinha Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ashoksinhaphoto
Ashok Sinha Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashok.sinha.3720
Ashok Sinha Twitter: https://twitter.com/ashoksinhaphoto
Ashok Sinha YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@ashoksinha2167
Ashok Sinha Gas and Glamour book: https://ashoksinha.com/BOOK/1

Anabel DFlux Website: https://www.deliquesceflux.com
Anabel DFlux Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/anabeldflux
Anabel DFlux Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeliquesceFlux
Anabel DFlux YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/anabeldflux
Anabel DFlux at Sigma: https://blog.sigmaphoto.com/author/anabel-dflux

Pelican Cases Link: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/browse/Pelican/ci/4457/N/4232860887


Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: Jill Waterman
Senior Producer: Mike Weinstein
Executive Producer: Yermy Weiss
Editorial Director: Shawn C Steiner

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