Dominique James, Photographer

It's all about the pictures …

A photographic portrait of a painter as an artist

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A photographic portrait of Filipino artist Katrina Bello.

A photographic portrait of Filipino artist Katrina Bello.

BY DOMINIQUE JAMES

Her name is Katrina Bello. She is a painter. I met her fall last year in New York. She was introduced to me as “Kim” by the couple Butch and Beng Dalisay, who at that time were vacationing in the East Coast. The first time I met Kim, we had lunch at the cafeteria of Conde Nast’s headquarters in midtown Manhattan. It was quite memorable because though I couldn’t exactly remember what I ate, I was taken in by the fascinating setting—the cafeteria was designed by the well-known architect, Frank Ghery. Since that first meeting, I must have gone out with Kim countless times, and I always tease her that Frank Ghery doesn’t know what a straight line means. We’ve become friends, Kim and I. Kim is crazy about art. And I’m crazy about her—as a friend. Whenever we meet up, we’re always manage to find ourselves surrounded with art—at a museum, a gallery or anywhere else. So far, we have been to the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and countless galleries and art shops around Chelsea, Brooklyn, and Queens. Since I’ve met Kim, and since I moved to New York, I’ve seen more art—paintings, sculptures, installations, performance, and yes, photography, than I’ve ever seen before. I usually end up getting a headache after each of our visual and experiential art trips. And, I always complain to her that I never understand 99.9 percent of the art I’ve just seen. She just laughs at me. One thing though that I learned to appreciate from her is cheese. We sat down over a selection of fine cheese that she ordered from the cafeteria of the MoMA, and she went on to educate my palette—coaching me to describe the taste of each of each of the cheese we nibbled on endlessly along with some biblical fruits. If it’s anything about food, I’m attentive. One time, I told Kim that I wanted to photograph her. So when we went to P.S. 1 MoMA, I brought with me my Nikon D2Xs and a couple of lenses, and as we walked in and out and around this fascinating art space, I was also somewhat “creating” my own art—taking pictures of Kim. I’ve shot a little over 600 images of Kim that day in the span of about 2 hours, and the moment I got home, I loaded it all into Aperture 2.1 on my 15-inch unibody MacBook Pro. So far, I’ve shown Kim only a couple or so of the shots from that afternoon session. The one picture you see here, which was recently used in a full-spread feature about her in GP Magazine, is one of those shots. It was taken at an “art building” across the street of P.S. 1 MoMA. I’ve yet to show Kim all the other shots I’ve done of her that day. Usually, I would randomly email her one or two from the entire set whenever the mood strikes me. I have quite a number of interesting photos of her, and I’m keeping these pictures to myself for now, thinking I’d surprise her when the right time comes along. I sometimes wonder though if she’s at all interested in seeing all the pictures I took of her. She never really asked me about those “other” pictures which she has yet to see. She is unusual in that way, among many other ways, because almost everyone I’ve taken pictures of are actually impatient (and even a tad demanding) when it comes to taking a look at their photos. But no, not Kim. We never even talk at all about her pictures when we’re together, on the phone or on email. It’s just there, those photos. [Note: For inquiries and for information on professional photography assignments for editorial and/or advertising purposes, as well as post-production digital image editing and enhancement, please send email to Dominique James at dominiquejames@mac.com or call 912-246-1131. Thank you.]

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