Tell Me More About: Sven Berger, photographer

I'm so excited to welcome Sven Berger to my Tell Me More About. . . feature. Sven is a favorite photographer of mine who I first discovered on Flickr. He captures beautiful, whimsical images of his children and life in Germany. He is from Dresden, Germany where he lives with his three children and wife. His images have a magical, mysterious quality about them and I have to explore each inch of the frame when I see them. After seeing what's in his camera bag I admit I'm jealous of his equipment. That 70-300? Sigh. I need to find a way to get one of those! 

Thank you for letting me feature you, Sven!


Tell us a little bit about you. Your background, where your from, etc.

I am a married photographer and father of three kids. Born in 1972, I grew up in Dresden, East Germany. My love for photography started early, when I was at school. I studied to become an IT professional. But after the birth of my first child photography became a passion for me again, as I tried to capture every second of the passing time. I am passionate about documenting real life moments and I am a long time contributor for Getty Images and specialize in people photography.  
 

How did you become interested in photography?

I was interested as a child in photography ... at that time it was the film camera. I was using my SLR EXA1b camera but sold it after the reunion of Germany. With the birth of my first child I knew I had to take pictures - a lot of pictures - so bought my first digital camera - my Fuji FinePix E900. But I noticed very quickly that I need a DSLR  so thaf started my love affair with Canon.

What's in your camera bag? 

Canon - still Canon. I am using my Canon 6D, most of the time with my 70-200 2.8L lens. It's perfect when you want to capture children.  

What are your favorite subjects to photograph? 

I love to take photos of people - from the newborn age on up. I love to capture the daily moments and sometimes I do some fine art shoots. I am not a landscape photographer. I just started food photography too, something that  I really love.

What interests do you have beyond photography?

 I love nature. I love to be out there and I love music. I was born in 1972 so I am a fan of the 80s and a big fan of Depeche Mode.

What inspires you? In photography and in life.

In photography I got my inspiration from other photographers. There are so many awesome and great artists out there. It is such a great opportunity for us these days - we are able to got so much information and there is so much inspiration out there.  In life I got a lot of inspiration from many great persons in Germany just like Vera Birkenbihl, Wolf-Dieter Storl and Christian Bischoff. I am trying to have my very own opinion.


What advice do you have for other photographers or artists?

Find your way and don't stop walking or moving forward. Do it and you will have fun and success.

Who are some of your favorite photographers?

I adore Sally Manns work, Tytia Habing, Alain Laboile, Niki Boon, Cris Stephens. Yes all great black and white artists... and I know I forgot many.

Oh and I love the older work of Elena Shumilova and the magic which is Megan Loeks able to create. 

Tell Me More About . . . Engelbert Farms, Nichols, N.Y.

Thank you to Lisa Engelbert of Engelbert Farms in Nichols, N.Y. for being part of this edition of Tell Me More About. Engelbert Farms is owned by Lisa and her husband Kevin. It is a family owned and operated business with her sons and their families also participating in day-to-day operations. According to their site: "Engelbert Farms, LLC is a certified organic dairy farm, certified by Vermont Organic Farmers (NOFA-VT).  It is a true family farm, farming in the same location since 1911. Kevin, Lisa and their sons Joe and John all actively work on the farm.  Their other son, Kris is often around helping out, too."

I recently visited their farm store and highly recommend  their homemade cheeses, especially the lemon and thyme moovache which is only in stock during the summer months. My children and I had a sample and agreed it was the best cheese we have ever tasted.

Tell Me More About is a feature where I showcase artists, business people, businesses or simply every day people with an interesting story.

Image by Organic Valley

Can you tell me a little about your farm, how long you've had it and how you got started in farming?

Engelbert Farms

I grew up on a dairy farm in Athens, Pa.  When my older brothers decided they didn’t want to farm, my dad sold the cows and took a job off the farm.   I’ve always loved animals and loved to grow things, so farming always had a special place in my heart.   The Engelbert family had been farming in Nichols since 1911, and in the Southern Tier of New York since 1848.  My husband, Kevin and I got married in 1980, and took over management of the family farm from my father-in-law.   In 1981, we started farming organically, and became certified organic in 1984.  We didn’t know it at the time, but we were the first certified organic dairy farm in the US!   We are first and foremost an organic dairy farm, but when our sons graduated from college and came back to the farm, we realized we needed to diversify to be able to support more families.  Our operation now includes organic meats (beef, pork, veal), cheeses, small-scale seasonal vegetables, and field crops.  With the exception of the small amount of milk that is kept back to be made into cheese, all of our milk is sold through Organic Valley. 

What does your farm offer the community?

We have a farm store on the farm to sell our organic, farm-raised meats, cheeses and vegetables directly to our customers.   Every piece of our meat is traceable back to the day the animal was born, and our cheeses are made by hand exclusively with our milk.  Later in the summer, as vegetables are harvested, we have potatoes, garlic, onions, and other seasonal vegetables available.  Products from other sustainable farms are available as well – eggs, chicken, turkey, honey, maple syrup, jams & jellies, salsa and pasta sauces.   We also sell meat and cheese to stores and restaurants in the Valley, as well as Endicott, Binghamton, Ithaca and Watkins Glen, and as far as the Hudson Valley and Long Island.  Our farm is part of the Tioga Farm Trail, and the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance.  Several times a year, we have an open house on our farm and offer samples of our cheeses and smoked sausages, as well as farm tours.  Both my husband and I have been heavily involved in organic agriculture at the state and national level, and have done presentations at numerous workshops and field days on organic farming over the past 35 years.

Lisa R. Howeler, copyright

I believe to be truly sustainable and profitable in the future, farms will need to sell as much as possible of what they produce directly to the consumer. 

- Lisa Engelbert of Engelbert Farms, Nichols, N.Y.

How is farming changing today? What is the future of farming?

Farming has always been a challenging profession, but it keeps getting more difficult to do business and make a profit.  Regulations, taxes and land prices continue to increase, putting more and more burden on farmers.  Farms are getting bigger and bigger and small farms are getting squeezed out.  I would love to see farms start getting smaller and more diversified, with their products being processed and sold regionally.  In my mind that would contribute to national security with less imported food, reduced miles that food travels to get to the consumer, and would provide a fresher, safer, more traceable product.  I believe to be truly sustainable and profitable in the future, farms will need to sell as much as possible of what they produce directly to the consumer. 

What is the most rewarding part of owning a small farm?

My favorite part of owning a family farm is dealing directly with our customers and talking with youth groups.  We have met some incredible people over the years, and have made many new friends.  It is very rewarding to know that we are providing high-quality, healthy products.   We like to know who our customers are, and our customers appreciate knowing how and where their food is grown.   When we get thank you notes from customers and from kids that have come for farm tours, it makes us feel like we’re making a difference, and makes all of the hard work worthwhile.   

Photo by Lisa R. Howeler

Photo by Lisa R. Howeler

Where can people find out more about your farm and what it offers?

Our farm store is located right on our farm just east of the Village of Nichols, at 182 Sunnyside Road in Nichols, NY- look for the little red building attached to the yellow barn.  We’re open Friday and Saturday 10 to 3, year round, unless it’s a holiday.  Our website is www.engelbertfarms.com and we have an Engelbert Farms Facebook page, which I try to keep active with what’s happening on the farm. 

_____

To submit ideas for a Tell Me More About … feature email lisa at lisahoweler@gmail.com or use the contact form under Info at the top of the page. People featured in Tell Me More About are from various walks of life, backgrounds and jobs because we all have a story to tell. 

Photo by Lisa R. Howeler

Photo by Lisa R. Howeler

Photo by Engelbert Farms

Photo by Engelbert Farms

Photo by Lisa R. Howeler

Photo by Lisa R. Howeler

Tell me more about . . . Maria Hoover, artist and teacher

Maria Hoover is a mom, an artist, and a teacher from Stevensville,  Pa. She is the owner of Art on A Mission as well as the art teacher at North Rome Christian School, North Rome, Pa. Her business is a paint party business, where she teaches even those who don't consider themselves artists how to paint and get in touch with their artistic side.

She has also been one of my best friend's since seventh grade when we connected over a certain popular boy band from the late 80s/early 90s. 

Thank you, Maria for being part of this week's Tell Me More About . . . feature

Tell us a little about yourself

I grew up in small town, Northeast Pennsylvania in a family of 7 counting my parents. I married my best friend in May of 2006 and bought a house the next month. Nine months later we welcomed our only child to this world. Being a wife and mom are the best things that have ever happened to me, daily it brings challenges, but it's my best sense of security I can feel from another human. Although my full security rests in my God. Growing my relationship with Him is my biggest interest. He has brought me from places I never realized I was in, until He opened my eyes to His Love. I owe Him my life of service, and serving Him is my daily goal. I also love to cook, garden, and paint.

How did you become interested in art?

I have always drawn from a very young age, but my interest came when I was in elementary school art class. My teachers had always encouraged me, and complimented me on my ability. In first or second grade I decided I wanted to be an art teacher. Art was my favorite subject all through high school, I took as many art classes I could. After graduation I began working, and left behind my love of art. Getting an apartment, working, cleaning, a boyfriend, pets, shopping. That all stepped into my life and my art took a backseat.

That's what happens when God has a plan for you, and you don't believe it.

Maria Hoover, owner, Art on a Mission

 

For years I didn't touch an art medium. The most a drew was maybe a doodle here or there while I was on the phone. I let the business of life take over and I lost who I was as a person in all of the demands of life. After I had my son, I was able to be home with him, and I started day dreaming about the enjoyment I had when I would ART. The relaxing effects it would have on me. The satisfaction of creating something that was pleasing to the eye. It was the one thing in my life I was proud of my self for, yet even a couple more years went by before I began to create again.

art by Maria Hoover

 

When Isaiah was 2, I started him with crayons and watercolors. it was a favorite thing for us to do together. He would scribble, I would draw basic pictures, teaching him colors and shapes. As he grew we began to make crafts and our mediums went from crayons to fingerprint and markers. Still in the basics of it all, the God that I had just made room for in my life just four years earlier was slowly returning a love that I had left behind. Because He had a much bigger plan for it than I knew.

How did you become an art teacher?

As I said earlier, in elementary school I wanted to become an art teacher - a preschool art teacher. In my innocence I didn't realize preschool kids didn't need an art teacher, but they mainly had one teacher that did everything with them. As I approached 11th grade, I daydreamed about going to an art college, but with lack of funding, not knowing anything about grants and a fear to leave my family, I quickly dismissed college.. And with a family who lacked in the encouragement I never pursued it even as I grew older.

At one point my mother said, "I wish you would have went to college for your art." Because of my personality, I took that as "I am a disappointment" so art took an extreme back burner. After the summer off following graduation, I stepped into the work force. I worked at restaurants, and our local meat packing plant. There is where I met my husband. For six years art was forgotten.

And then, with the passing of my mother, depression, working, dating, and so many things that made my life busy, I honestly forgot who I was. Then I had a meeting with a God who revealed to me that I had a purpose, and that I am loved. Then came marriage and a baby in a baby carriage, and still no art. But God had sparked a longing in my heart. I started daydreaming now and then, about having my own studio, about painting or drawing but still no ART.

Maria Hoover, Lisa R. Howeler

We began attending a church just before we got married. Six years after I began attending, I was helping with vacation Bible school, and quickly became the artist of the production. It was great! I helped others draw and paint backdrops, I created trees out of paper. For 4 years I helped transform our church every summer into another world. As people began to see my ability, one family in particular, had three girls that attended a Christian school and the oldest girl told me one day that I should come teach at their school, that they needed an art teacher. At the time I laughed it off. In my insecurity I told myself I couldn't teach art. I didn't go to school for teaching. I only remembered how much I loved art. How could I possibly be an art teacher?

 The thought crossed my mind often in the next few months. "I couldn't be an art teacher", became "Could I be an art teacher?". The school year began with Isaiah started kindergarten, and I was babysitting while he was at school at the same Christian school. As I continued to question if I could even be an art teacher, God was positioning me to do just that. I was offered a job driving the very school van that took Isaiah to and from school. I accepted it, opening up the entire day at the very school I was delivering kids to every day. Not long after I took on that job as a school van driver, I also accepted the position of art teacher at North Rome, and here I am 5 years later, doing the exact thing I said I could never do.

That's what happens when God has a plan for you, and you don't believe it.

What medium do I enjoy the most, and why?

 I enjoy every medium I have been able to experience.. Watercolor and pen and ink together are a favorite but I would have to say acrylic paint has to be my most favorite right now. I had never got to work with it too much until recently, and I have found it challenging, yet the finished product is beautiful. I have learned so many new techniques, and love teaching it to my students.

Maria Hoover, artist, Lisa R. Howeler, photographer

What other activities do you enjoy?

I think my favorite pass time is being with Quentin and Isaiah doing something fun. We have recently began kayaking together, and we enjoy it so much. I also like gardening. It's so rewarding when the flowers are full and beautiful, and the vegetables are part of your dinner table, (if you have been able to ward off the weeds.) I also like entertaining, having friends and family over, campfires and fellowship.

Lisa R. Howeler, 2017 copyright

 

How important is art to a child's education?

 I believe art is essential to a child's education. Especially those children who express themselves with the product of their hands. Art comes in so many forms and every one of them are essential. I think when a person does not have the ability to Art, rather it be drawing, painting, sculpting, constructing, photography, dancing, singing, playing an instrument, theater,..they loose who they really are and then are unable to live out their purpose God has created them for.

___

All images by Lisa R. Howeler and some of them are available for sale at Lightstock or Cavan.

To submit ideas for a Tell Me More About … feature email lisa at lisahoweler@gmail.com or use the contact form under Info at the top of the page. People featured in Tell Me More About are from various walks of life, backgrounds and jobs because we all have a story to tell. 

 

Tell Me More About . . . Niki Boon, photographer

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and honored that Niki Boon, one of my favorite photographers, is on my blog today sharing her photography journey and some of her amazingly breathtaking black and white images. She took the world by storm a couple of years ago when her images of her children simply being children in rural New Zealand went viral. Her images capture a universal view of childhood that so many can relate to. I know for me, looking at them not only makes them think of my own childhood with fondness, but also strive to create a similarly relaxed and free childhood for my own children. I'm completely drawn into Niki's world, maybe because she chooses all her images to be showcased in black and white and my focus is on what is happening in the image, versus the distractions of color. In addition to the black and white magic of her images, she also uses layering in so many of her images, which add outstanding depth to the story. Thank you to Niki for finding time in her busy schedule of raising her wild and free children and showcasing her beautiful art to tell me and my blog readers a bit about her journey.

Images by Niki Boon Used with permission by the artist.

Images by Niki Boon Used with permission by the artist.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Niki?

I grew up on a farm in the north island of New Zealand, one of five children in our family. I trained as a physiotherapist at university , and spent a glorious 4-years traveling and working overseas, eventually drawn back to my roots and the country I was born into. I was happy to be home , knowing that this is exactly the place I want to bring up my four wild and free children.

With my husband, we live on a 10 acre property with goats, sheep, chickens, ducks and a dog, small vineyard and surrounded by hills, bush , rivers, and wild coast line - all ours to explore.

We made the decision to educate our children at home , and it has been quite the journey so far.


How did you become interested in photography?
 

My interest in photography started when I traveled and worked overseas after graduating from university

My first lesson in black and white photography was back when I first picked up an SLR camera in my late 20's. Whilst I was living in England I enrolled in a weekend  dark room course, where I spent a glorious two, cold wintery days locked in a tiny room with four others learning how to process and print black and white film.

I fell totally under the spell of the wonder of creating my own prints from scratch. I remember, so well, the endless winter weekend I spent in the darkroom immersed in the magic of it all.... the absolute best way to spend a cold and bleak northern English winter.

I never really focused on it again too much until we decided to educate our children alternatively at home. I knew I wanted to document our days , but I felt that my photography skills were limited , so I put a lot of late nights into researching how to improve my craft. I have taken the long journey of learning how to process an image digitally and the endless search for finding a process that I can love as much as I did my film prints from years ago

 


What's in your camera bag?

 

Up until 2 months ago I shot with a canon 5d mkiii with a 35mm lens. But my canon has been absolutely hammered and taken a lot of places I am sure were not good for it ..and bits are falling of it , and malfunctioning all over the place.. so I recently invested in an Fuji XT2 ( with a 28mm (eqiv) lens which I hope to get .. which I am still building some sort of relationship with.

How do you manage to capture such authentic images with your children?
 

I think my kids are just used to having a camera around them .. they just carry on , they are usually so absorbed in their games , the just get on with it… It is really them that create the pictures , they are the authentic and creative ones, me.. I am just the one that happens to have the camera.

copyright Niki Boon

I fell totally under the spell of the wonder of creating my own prints from scratch. I remember, so well, the endless winter weekend I spent in the darkroom immersed in the magic of it all.... the absolute best way to spend a cold and bleak northern English winter.

- Niki Boon

 


Did your sudden popularity in the photographyworld take you by surprise?

 

Yeah .. for sure … It was at the suggestion of a friend that I entered a few competitions one year , I didn’t expect to gain places in them, so that was an interesting and exciting time. I was asked to do an interview with an American website on the back of one of  the competitions outcomes and from there, the pictures somehow went viral, with a lot of the websites having never had communication or approval from me at all. It was a crazy time for me. I just went with it to be honest and waited till it all passed and now, well there are still a few interview requests, but they few and far between , and I haven’t entered any competitions for quite a while now. I think that time was just fleeting for me.



How has the extra attention changed life for you? Good and bad? More good than bad? Or maybe not bad at all?

It was a crazy time for sure .. but as I said above, it eventually settled down and after a few weeks I was back to the place I was before . Although having said that , it has opened doors to experiences, opportunities and challenges that I may not have had without the exposure . I have been asked to speak at a couple of conferences, a challenge that I took up (despite being petrified about public speaking) , I have also recently been asked to exhibit a few pictures at a photography festival , which is also very exciting.

I hope to  keep taking pictures and documenting a childhood, and will continue to do it for as long as the kids are OK with it. If something else comes of it - books , or exhibition etc.I would love to entertain that.

But basically, at home, I am still Mum- still make the dinners and lunches, fold the washing , work daily logistics of kids extra-curricular activities, wrangle animals, and moderate sibling squabbles and when I have time , take a few photos. Nothing changed there.

What inspires you?
 

I think my inspiration is predominantly the kids. I am fascinated with who they are, the things they get up to, and how they see and exist in the world.

I am inspired by so many photographers. I am ever so slowly building up a small photobook collection with artists I have been inspired by. I think I am drawn to documentary photographers more than any other genre. I am inspired by their art , but also their passion and drive for their stories and their subjects. Eugene Richards is a photographer who’s work I look at over and over.Being outdoors is a big motivator for me too.

 

What advice do you have for other photographers?

It’s not very original … but there is a piece of advice I  read a couple of years ago from a photographer I am inspired by, who said … if things get tricky with your picture taking " get out there and shoot, shoot, shoot. Shoot through the block, even if what you are shooting is uninspiring. Just keep shooting."

Find more of Niki's work at:


Facebook

 

Website

 

Instagram

Tell Me More About . . . Mina Mimbu, artist and photographer

What a thrill for me to feature Mina Mimbu this week! Her work is captivating and catapults the viewer into another world. 

Mina was born and raised in Japan until 14, then moved to beautiful New Zealand.  She has two boys, two and one, who are often the subjects of her work.

"They've been keeping me very busy!" she says.

Thank you to Mina for participating!

How did you become interested in photography?
I always loved photography since I was young, but I started taking it seriously after my first boy was born. Like most of 'momtographers,' I wanted to document my children growing up.

What's in your camera bag?
I don't carry a camera bag! I really wish I could, but I have to carry a large nappy (diaper for Americans) bag instead! My favorite gear is my Sony a7r2, 24-70 mm F2.8 and 85 mm f1.4, which I use most of the time to shoot my children. I have to carry a heavy bag and hold my kids so I love mirrorless cameras because they are really small and light weight.

How do you come up with the amazing images you create? What inspires you?
Children are my biggest inspiration. I believe they see a world differently than us adults.
I think the world to them is much bigger, brighter and more colorful, and full of wonder and excitement. I want to see it, capture it, and create an art of how they are seeing the world. I want people to see the world of childhood through my images. I hope my photographs make people feel something.I hope they make people wonder and dream.

copyright by Mina Mimbu

I want people to see the world of childhood through my images. I hope my photographs make people feel something.I hope they make people wonder and dream.

                                                ~ Mina Mimbu



What advice do you have for other photographers or digital artists?
Enjoy shooting! There are no rules in art. Experiment! I used to get caught up with reaches and followers and likes on social media and it was affecting my confidence. But then I realized I am not shooting for numbers. I shoot because that's what I love doing. I am grateful for social media as I have had amazing opportunities and made wonderful friendships. But it isn't everything. Don't equate the value of yourself with how many reaches and likes you have. Just keep enjoying shooting!!!

 

Learn more about Mina and her work on her Facebook page, Instagram and website.
 

Tell me more about . . . Jason Wheeler, chef

farm to table Lisa R. Howeler, copyright

We are changing the food culture and reminding people that the best food really is grown close to home.

-Jason Wheeler, chef, The Greenhouse Market & Cafe, Sayre, PA

This is the first in a series called "Tell Me More About .  . ."  where I feature local, and sometimes non-local, people of interest or simply interesting subjects

This week I've asked local chef Jason Wheeler to share a bit about himself for my blog readers.

Jason Wheeler is the Chef at The Greenhouse Market & Cafe in Sayre.  He lives in Elmira, NY with his wife, Sara, and  their two kids, Ethan and Evelyn, as well as their two new kittens, Bruticus and Yoshi.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Jason

I was born in Elmira but raised in Eden Prairie, MN. 

I have my bachelor of arts from Mansfield in Spanish Language.

How did you end up co-owning a restaurant?

The plan was to enter the world of international business after graduating from college, but my father had recently retired and decided to open a bakery cafe, so into the new family business I dove.

I began as a server until it became my turn to fill in as cook.  I was 23 and didn't even know how to make a grilled ham and cheese but I watched a lot of Food Network, read a lot of cookbooks, and took a second job cooking on the same line as a classically trained chef and an instructor at a culinary school. They watched me cook, I asked a million questions, and really learned a lot.

_DSC7382.jpg

Now more than 10 years later and I am chef at a farm to table restaurant that has an on site hydroponic greenhouse in which I grow as much produce as possilble for our kitchen 12 months out of the year. We have established a network of 15 local farms & suppliers that provide us with the freshest food in the area. Our restaurant has been accredited by the Culinary Institute of America as an approved internship site for their students to spend their requisite time cutting their teeth prior to graduation. We are also the undefeated People's Choice Champion two years running at the Tioga Downs Casino's annual burger contest. We are changing the food culture and reminding people that the best food really is grown close to home. 

What is the best part of owning your own farm-to-table restaurant?

I would have to say that the most rewarding aspect of having this type of restaurant is harvesting fresh produce and carrying it through the dining room and immediately cooking with it.

Well, actually, receiving deliveries in the back door and having the person that raised and grew the food hand it directly to me and look me in the eye is pretty rewarding, encouraging, and inspiring all in one.

This is how things used to be done.

It's just better for the community!

The money we would be mailing off to {a national food distribution company} is staying local and helping to boost our own shared economy.

Actually, now that I think of it, the absolute most rewarding part of having this type of restaurant is seeing my children eat healthier and take a genuine interest in eating real food.

Actually, now that I think of it, the absolute most rewarding part of having this type of restaurant is seeing my children eat healthier and take a genuine interest in eating real food. Our 7 year old daughter in particular helps mix the nutrients and test their saturation, then test their PH level.

She helps prune and maintain the plants in the greenhouse as well as their harvesting. She loves to help me in the kitchen and help my Dad in the bakery.

Seeing her grow up with a genuine interest in food is magical. (for too long she was a chicken nugget, tater tot, and hot dog gal...)


You can learn more about  The Greenhouse Market and Cafe on their website, Facebook page, or Instagram.  All images for this post were taken by and copyrighted by Lisa R. Howeler