Louis Abelman

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It’s been sometime since my last post, but I’ve been hard at work and away in Iceland. Those photos will be coming shortly. This 4th of July, my buddy Ken was gracious enough to open up his home for a day at the pool. There was food, friends, tennis, basketball, and not much else you could ask for. Even a nature walk through the arboretum nearby. Here is part one of two.

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Yesterday was awesome; actually, this whole week has been amazing. First, Alexis and Derek of Sleigh Bells came by my studio for a shoot for Nylon. They were rad and had good music which always get things moving. Can’t wait until their record comes out. Some polaroids below.
Then, my good friend Louis Abelman came over to have dinner and we did some portraits. He works at The New York Times and is a documentary filmmaker. We had fried chicken again. This is going to be on the jacket of his first novel. Anyway, the images came out nice and were Interview Magazine / Irving Penn inspired.

All images copyright James Ryang 2009

I used to live in Harlem. From Sept. 2001 to Sept. 2002, I lived on 145th and Edgecombe Ave off the St. Nick stop across from Jackie Robinson Park. Crazy. Yesterday, I spent the day installing my friend Louis’ photo show at the Maysles Institute for the Congo in Harlem celebration and got treated to a much-missed fried chicken lunch at Sylvia’s, which is across the street from the theater. I’m gonna be going up there more in the coming weeks if anyone wants to grub.

All images copyright James Ryang 2009

For the last two weeks, Louis Abelman and I have been working on curating a series of photographs to exhibit at the Congo in Harlem Festival. The exhibition is titled “North Kivu: Democratic Republic of Congo.” These photographs were taken by the filmmakers of the Goma Film Project during their visits to the Congo. The festival is going on at Maysles Cinema in Harlem from Thursday, October 1 to Saturday, October 24. The theatre is located at 343 Lenox Ave. between 127th and 128th St. You can call: 212-582-6050 or email: cinema@mayslesinstitute.org for more information. The exhibited prints are 11×14 Archival C-Prints (Editions 1 of 5) priced at $60/print and $100/framed. To order, contact: louisabelman@gmail.com Proceeds benefit Congo in Harlem and the Goma Film Project. Please click HERE for the film schedule and go see the exhibition.

Here is a selection from the exhibition:

Mother and Children, Goma

Girl with Hoop, Goma

Boy in Lava Field, Goma

Schoolboys, Goma

Farm, Masisi

Boys, Goma

Hair Salon, Goma

Banana Vendor, Minova

Scooter, Goma

Congo Struggle, Painting by Christian Adjany, Goma

Sea, North Kivu

Installation Views

For more information, click here:

Summer: Brooklyn

Here are some images from the Grizzly Bear show this weekend, in between shoots, and hanging in the park afterwards. These were all shot with Kodak 400NC and a camera I just got on ebay.

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July 4th

That morning Ari drove up from Princeton and scooped us up in Brooklyn. Mari and Sammy packed fancy snacks and we headed to the beach for what turned out to be a perfect day. Louis biked to meet us there and Jesse was there upon arrival. D. Moore and the boys stacked and flipped and horsed around. We held our position while Sammy, Mari, and Louis dug a trench to protect us from the incoming tide. I don’t know what Louis was doing; I’ve been trying to figure it out. My best guess is behaving like a deviant or a predator; I don’t know. We packed up, found a honeysuckle bush, took a team photo, and headed back to Brooklyn to BBQ just before sundown. We had a good spread going on the roof of Meserole as the fireworks started. More peeps arrived. A fire broke out around Bedford and a cloud of smoke interrupted our view of the Manhattan skyline. The fireworks were set in sequence this year along the Westside. Low-key burgers and old-fashioned hot dogs ended the day. It was a good one.

All images copyright James Ryang 2009


This Saturday we had a going-away BBQ for our friend Evan Rock. The 206 Meserole gang hosted in their backyard with plenty of great food, music, and banter. The highlight of the evening was definitely the introduction of “guacamole challah sliders.” (patent pending) We did get sidetracked by rain but only for a brief moment. Finally, the sky broke and revealed a double rainbow. Woah. Lots of peeps came through; great to see everyone as usual. The party was a success for reals. By the end, everyone was tuckered out. And two men, who held each other ever so gently while dancing, reuntied for a snuggle. And Evan biked home after hugging us before his departure. We’re gonna miss you, Ev. Have fun.

All images copyright James Ryang 2009

Fort Tilden

Fort Tilden is like McCarren on sand, but it’s gorgeous. While New Yorkers played Reggaeton with the intention of blowing their speakers, D. Moore rounded us up in Ari’s car and took us (Louis, Assumpta, Eileen, and I) out to the beach. Pitch-N-Putt has always been why I liked heading to the Rockaways but a musical fake BBQ where crazy girls get naked is a good reason too I guess. Dudes, that seafood place; I want to go to there.

All images copyright James Ryang 2009

Last night, I was hanging with Louis Abelman and before he left for Paris, he volunteered to let me shoot him with Chipwich. It was for my friend Letizia Rossi’s new blog Cute and Cuter, about dudes and their animals/babies. Here’s the image:

Image copyright James Ryang 2009

Brighton Beach

Louis, Assumpta, Mari, and Sam and I took the train to Brighton Beach today, starting summer early. We walked the boardwalk, ate fried foods, and strolled all the way to Keyspan Park in Coney Island. Here are the photos.

All images copyright James Ryang 2009


Once again, Evan Rock has been gracious enough to host a seder for all of us.
It was amazing. The food was fantastic. Fun times.
Evan’s gonna be in Israel next year.
We’re going to video conference him in for Passover 2010.
We’ll miss you Ev.

Here are the photos:

And here’s a sing-a-long:

All images copyright James Ryang 2009


Yesterday, our friend Randa, who works at the United Nations, invited a group of us to visit the Delegates Lounge and take a tour of the U.N. after hours. It’s an interior of a building I’ve always wanted to shoot. Thanks to Jesse and Louis for stepping in and Randa for the incredible afternoon.

All images copyright James Ryang 2009


Ari Kardasis

Eileen Wu

Jason Lew

Jesse Cohen

Karthik Pandian

Ken LI

Louis Abelman

Micaela Davis

Michael Bell-Smith

I was archiving and found these polaroids from an old birthday dance party awhile back. We shot a pack of film before guests arrived while we were still setting things up. Oh snap, I just found the flyer.

Dance parties are really the best.
Good times.

Nights Out

Keren, Louis, Asumpta, Paige, Karthik, Ari, and Nick

So this last week, Karthik and Paige came to New York to visit. We went out a lot, mostly around the neighborhood. On this particular evening, a gang met up at Glasslands Gallery in Williamsburg for our friend Austin’s show, Suckers. We bounced and strolled to the Levee. Whatevs.

This is the bonkers part. So we started running the pool table and generally harassing Louis about looking cartoonishly French (all that was really missing was the baguette and the bicycle). Ari and I chuckled in the corner for awhile. Then, he misses a shot, Karthik’s efforts are all for naught, and along comes Keren with whaaaaat???!!!…..a beret.

Bananas. So we took a photo. End of story.

Jesse, Noah, Sean, Mari, Eileen, Sammy, Asumpta, Keren, Danica, Louis, David, Mike, Emily, and a few more got in my 15-passenger van to celebrate Dave’s birthday in Bushwick and Williamsburg. We went to an amazing little pizza place called Roberta’s, opened by my friend Chris. Later, we piled in for a sit down and chat at Daddy’s. Thanks for making this photo happen guys. xo James

For Karthik

Sometimes when you interact with the world as a photographer, you find inspiration through your friends. While the following events were taking place, I could only answer this distinct call to action and shoot vigorously. It’s like Karthik was pushing me to act. Thank you, Louis Abelman, for everything.

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My friend Louis Abelman (pictured above) works at The New York Times. Last week, he left for Kabul, Afghanistan to research and shoot a potential documentary feature. A few years ago, he travelled to Africa, to the Democratic Republic of Congo to shoot a documentary called LUMO: One Woman’s Struggle to Heal in a Nation Beset by War, which he produced and co-directed.

In Kabul, he’s been shooting with a Canon G9 and has been updating his travel blog, continually adding new photographs and stories about his findings in Afghanistan. I read it to make sure that he’s safe and doing well. Please check it out: