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Picture Perfect

What could be easier to give your own home personality than with the right photo?

Whether it’s a memorable quote or drawing, sophisticated or playful the right wall decoration can give a home that unique touch that helps further showcase you and your style. When finding the perfect picture, there are some tips that can help to skillfully stage the personality of your space. Katarzyna Kolenda, interior expert and managing director for Dekoria GmbH, reveals which wall decorations suit which type of home decorator and gives tips on how to arrange them perfectly.




Your Natural Habitat

From natural wood to walls of stone, untreated natural materials have once again become the focus of many interiors today. The comfortable, light effect that natural designs have on a room’s style is undisputed and can even be proven to reduce stress, from images of greenery and nature itself to a simplistic color palette of softer greens and whites. So what would go better with an urban jungle look than botanical motifs and photos full of vibrant greenery? 

Nature lovers can live out their great passions when choosing frames and photos. For example, canvases that display green or wooden elements give the room a rustic, creative charm. “As [if back] in the forest, the botanical motifs should find their perfect place on the wall,” advises Kolenda.

More than Words

The home is a place where you most feel comfortable, a perfect place to organize your favorite thoughts and feelings and give them a place of importance visually, such as a framed photo of a quote or life motto. If you frame a motto of life on the wall, it not only looks modern but also conveys a message to visitors, whether it’s to “Be brave!” or to “Find the beauty in every day.”

“Statements and sayings no longer just belong in the notebook or on a T-shirt,” says Kolenda. “You can give rooms a new mood in just a few moments while looking calm and trendy, especially when combined with other pictures.”

The Art of Change

Each photo or art piece reveals a lot about the person who puts it on display, whether it’s floral patterns for nature lovers or action heroes for die-hard cinema fans. “When finding the right picture, people should simply listen to their gut,” summarizes Kolenda. With passion comes the potential for change, so do not be afraid to change your art or photo style over time. Like art itself, style is never truly static and therefore has the potential to show growth and change.

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Bruce T. Martin uses photographs as words to create a vivid story about the culture and history of Mayan caves and cenotes of the Yucatan and more.

Photography by Bruce T. Martin

“In 1975, my father gave me a Pentad Spotomatic 35 mm camera, that I still have today,” says Bruce T. Martin, an American Fine Arts photographer. Even early on Martin didn’t pursue other careers or jobs outside of photography. Initially, his interest in cameras and capturing moments sparked when he was studying abroad in Europe 1976 and he’s been studying the art form ever since. Now, Martin explains that he takes a literary approach to his photography. “Images combine like words do in a sentence to tell a story,” he says. “My motivation is to use photography to document our world, explore our perceptions and question our viewpoints. ”


Martin grew up in Chautauqua County in western New York where he studied at Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. His connection to photography continued to grow even building a darkroom in his parent’s basement and later began apprenticing for Irving Penn in New York City. “That experience opened my thinking to a whole new world of possibilities,” says Martin. Although the young photographer already had an affinity to landscape photography, his job at the Chautauqua County Office of Planning and Development led to a deep appreciation for architectural structures. One responsibility of Martin’s new job was to “contact the owners of interesting and important architectural structures in the community to secure permission to photograph their homes and buildings.”


Gruata Milenio, Yucatán 2012

In terms of style, the photographer has “tried to combine the excellence of many photographers such as the technical mastery of Ansel Adams, the unique viewpoints of Andres Kertesz and the eloquence of Irving Penn, to name a few,” says Martin. However, from a technical point of view, Martin describes his approach as direct. “Positioning my camera in a place where I believe will reveal what I feel is most important to the image … then waiting for or creating the lighting that best reveals the detail and color to express the emotion and purpose of the image.”

As an artist, Martin is always working on a number of projects such as a larger portfolio of Boston cityscape and architecture. A series called “Fragment Landscape” is also in the works and involves overlapping images gathered in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. However, there has been one persisting project that Martin has been expanding on since 1987.

“I have been working on a project on the Maya of Central America, using historical documents, academic research, and current events in conjunction with my photography and recordings from the field,” according to Martin. The first phase of the project resulted in the book and exhibit, “Look Close See Far, A Cultural Portrait of Maya”, and has now progressed into the next component. “Seeking Sacred Landscapes, Maya Caves and Cenotes of the Yucatan”. Martin describes the project as, “beautiful, mysterious, and compelling.”

The series “Seeking Sacred Landscapes” is a combination of images of the Yucatan’s caves and cenotes with archeological, historical, and environmental essays by established authorities, according to the experienced photographer. Martin’s images compel you to look closer at the detail that has formed over the years within nature.

It’s hard to imagine what being in those types of caves would be like, but Martin describes it as a time full of anticipation. “Knowing that I will experience and learn something new each time fills my mind as I begin the descent into these underground chambers.” This experience has been building over the years. When the project first began Martin became interested in many of the Mayan’s core mythology concepts, which later led to his deeper understanding of the culture. “Harmony in life is a daily struggle. With the rapid development of recent years, many contrasting and violent viewpoints have been introduced, so that the Maya and their environment are being overwhelmed,” says Martin. “Surviving these disruptive influences and maintaining their cultural dignity is the challenge for an uncertain future that the Maya now face.”

The series “Seeking Sacred Landscapes” is a combination of images of the Yucatan’s caves and cenotes with archeological, historical, and environmental essays by established authorities, according to the experienced photographer. Martin’s images compel you to look closer at the detail that has formed over the years within nature.  

It’s hard to imagine what being in those types of caves would be like, but Martin describes it as a time full of anticipation. “Knowing that I will experience and learn something new each time fills my mind as I begin the descent into these underground chambers.” This experience has been building over the years. When the project first began Martin became interested in many of the Mayan’s core mythology concepts, which later led to his deeper understanding of the culture. “Harmony in life is a daily struggle. With the rapid development of recent years, many contrasting and violent viewpoints have been introduced, so that the Maya and their environment are being overwhelmed,” says Martin. “Surviving these disruptive influences and maintaining their cultural dignity is the challenge for an uncertain future that the Maya now face.”

Through images that help to shape and tell a story, Martin is hoping that the series “Seeking Sacred Landscapes” will attract some attention to these struggles. “With a greater awareness of their issues, a more productive dialogue on the Maya and their land can begin, which will promote cultural diversity, protect their environment and respect for their fading traditions.”

Each part of Martin’s experience pushes him further and enhances his ability as an artist. A journey from architectural to landscape photography has proved there is more than what originally meets the eye, which can be seen in the details of his photos. According to Martin, “Each of these naturally-occurring, organic caverns and cenotes are unique yet similar architectural spaces that overwhelm your perceptions and preconceived notions of the world we live in.”

Cenote Ik kil, Yucatán, 2016.

This editorial originally appeared in The High End Spring 2019.

Photographers, writers and videographers can enter with the chance to win money, mentorship and an “adventure mobile.”

By Brielle Bryan

Travis Burke, the widely followed adventure photographer, is on a quest to find some of the most talented individuals who are looking to tell a story through their art. Burke started the Ultimate Storyteller contest to encourage others to follow their dreams and embrace their creativity, which he decided to do four years ago when he took a huge leap of faith. With just $81 to his name, Burke decided to trust his instincts and set out to follow his passion. This calling has taken him around the country in a van or “adventure mobile,” which Burke affectionately refers to as “Betty the Grey Wolf.”

Through the Ultimate Storyteller contest, Burke is seeking entries from photographers, writers and videographers, and will be choosing winners based on their works’ creativity and authenticity. The contest is accepting admissions during the entire month of May, and winners will enter with the chance to receive “Betty the Grey Wolf,” $6,000 worth of gear and a one-on-one mentorship with Burke himself.

Burke hopes to share his personal experiences with aspiring artists seeking adventure. Burke has visited the backroads of Vermont during Fall to photograph a covered bridge under the star-filled night sky. He’s captured the dangerous, yet stunningly beautiful ice caves in Washington and spent months in Utah exploring some of the longest and deepest slot canyons in the world in search for the perfect light. Burke is following his dreams, wherever they take him — chasing inspiring images and capturing them for everyone to see.
Burke’s breathtaking pictures feature the unending beauty of the natural world. A trademark of his images is the human touch — a man on a cliff admiring the beauty before him, a trio trekking through rock formations, a couple kissing under a waterfall. Burke said that his photographs help people experience the emotion and grandeur of a location so that they can imagine themselves being there.

Along his journey, the avid athlete can be found walking slacklines over canyons, freediving through caves in the ocean and just pushing himself and the boundaries of his craft. Burke has enjoyed the insight and experiences that he has gained from his travels. It’s a life that has fed his soul. Now Burke wants to pay it forward!

Photos courtesy of Travis Burke Photography

A retired publisher turned photographer and world-traveler – and now author – literally wrote the book on wine and travel in Argentina.
The first in a series of coffee-table books on wine regions of the world, Exploring Wine Regions: A Culinary, Agricultural and Interesting Journey Through Argentina, began as a feature story.
“I love to travel. I’ve been publishing a travel magazine for 20 years, and I’ve retired,” says Michael C. Higgins, PhD. “I thought I would go to Argentina to find why I hadn’t met a Malbec I didn’t like. So, for five weeks I traveled around. And then went back for another five weeks. And I had way too much for a feature story, and too little for a book. So I went for a third time for three weeks.”
The culmination of his travels is a comprehensive list of not only the wineries and vineyards he visited and their offerings, but also sightseeing options and delicious restaurants. “I’m giving you the inside track. You can take my book, go to Argentina, never have a glass of wine, and have an amazing experience,” he states. “But, the best way to learn about wine is to drink it.”

And the best way to drink wine is by going straight to the source, and thoroughly immersing yourself in it. “I fell in love with the culture, food, the landscapes and the whole environment.”
“When some people go wine tasting, they visit four or five wineries a day. I sit in one. I get to know the winemaker, the agronomist, the people making the wine and walk the property. I find taking in the whole experience is amazing,” Higgins explains.
Higgins experienced many “behind the scenes” things throughout his travels, learning how the Argentinian wine industry is continually evolving.
In the Uco Valley, southwest of Mendoza at the foot of the Andes Mountains, the elevation (3,000 to 5,000 feet), mixture of soils, extreme temperature ranges, air quality, fresh water from the snow melt, and the extremely long growing season have created a special micro-climate that is very attractive to winemakers. There are three different sub-regions, with three separate sources of water that contribute to each area’s unique wines.

Sebastian Zuccardi, grandson of the founder of Familia Zuccardi winery in Maipú, began working in Altamira in 2007 and studied the soils, rich in limestone. This led to the creation of five super-premium labels for Zuccardi wines. At this location, Higgins got to see firsthand how it’s decided where to plant the grapes.
“I’m in the vineyard, and they’re digging like 500 trenches in the middle of the vineyard, about 15 feet long, 2-to-3-feet wide and 4-feet deep. What they wanted was to see what was under the ground. Malbec loves limestone, and when they were digging, you could see all the minerals,” shares Higgins.
In Patagonia, whose cooler climate produces Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and, of course, Malbec, Higgins saw the revitalization of the wine industry. “There used to be 260 wineries in the region 100 years ago, but in recent years only one was left. Now, there are 20-plus wineries using ancient vines and propagating new vines to produce high-quality wines,” Higgins explains.
In Northwestern Argentina, near Salta, the single tallest grape vine in the world, a Pinot Noir, stands at 10,206 feet above sea level. This grape vine is another experiment that Higgins saw firsthand. “The wineries in the Calchaquí Valley start at about 6,500 to 8,500 feet above sea level, and some at 9,000 feet. They’re pushing the limits,” he says.

At Altura Máxima, an experiment to see which vines will grow best in the high-altitude environment is underway. It is led by Ing. Agr. Rafael Racedo Aragón, who has established a biodynamic farming environment that he believes will influence a crop’s ability to establish itself. Already planted are 86 acres of Malbec, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The combination of a soil high in phosphorus and exposure to the sun is expected to yield a crop with concentrated aromas, polyphenols and flavors.
So, has Higgins really never met a Malbec he didn’t like? Short answer, no. “Malbec is big, like a Cabernet, but at the same time it’s fruity like a Pinot Noir. I think there’s a real magic to wine,” he shares.
“It’s a testament to Argentina that after 13 weeks, I haven’t even begun. I knew a lot about [wine] before I went, but now I’m a different person. I know more about Argentine wine than Californian wines, and I live in California!” Higgins exclaims.
California, incidentally, is the next region to be covered by Higgins in his Exploring Wine Regions series.

Photo credit to Michael C. Higgins

A photographer’s journey through the North Pole is documented through his new book, “Arctica: The Vanishing North,” a tribute to one of the most beautiful and rarely seen places on Earth.

By Kirsten Niper

Sebastian Copeland, an internationally renowned photographer, polar explorer, author and environmentalist, has released a new photography book, titled “Arctica: The Vanishing North.”

Copeland has nurtured a fascination for the polar regions since childhood. “I was naturally attracted to distant and frozen landscapes and developed an early taste for adventure. My experiences developed from the mountains to the polar regions about 10 years ago. Since then, I have made the poles the center of my interest and focus of my travels. They allow me to capitalize on my artistic skill as a photographer, bringing back images that help people fall in love with their world.”

Often perceived as a misconceived treasure, people seldom make the journey. Part of Copeland’s goal is to get people to discover their world. “My motto is ‘get out — it’s out there,’” but realizing that it may be hard for others to make it to the Arctic, a landmass one and a half times the size of the United States, Copeland takes us there.

“I aim to take them there. Being confronted with the beauty that surrounds outside the confined convenience of urban living is also the best way to empathize,” shares Copeland.

Using weather-resistant equipment that can store large files, Copeland discovered that the Arctic is a “35 millimeter environment. I learned that from trying my hand at larger formats on earlier trips; the results were great, but hard earned on the equipment and the work. I learned my lesson on the ice, you need to shoot a lot of frames because of the variables. It gives me even greater respect for the pioneers: Frank Hurley, Herbert Ponting and George Lowe.”

Even the logistics are more complicated when shooting in the Arctic, and equipment protocols are often the greatest challenge. Batteries are stored close to the body for warmth, as they cannot last in cold weather. In order to get a shot, one has to find the camera and appropriate lens, locate the battery and insert the battery into the camera, all without wearing gloves. Then, shooting also has its additional challenges, as heat from one’s eyelids can fog the eyepiece and instantly freeze it.

The environment of the Arctic lends itself to a point-and-shoot approach, and the results will always be exotic. However, Copeland has learned to look for specific elements and tries to find himself in front of the right subject. “That, perhaps more than anything, is the more difficult work,” he shares. “Primarily, I look for unique perspectives. The beauty of these regions is the open spaces, the lack of clutter. This allows shapes or subjects to really stand out.”

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