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Jen Pollack Bianco Meets Alan Kastner, Oggsie and Misho Baranovic

By Stephanie - 6 min read

Jen, a writer and photographer from LA, went to Tokyo, Sydney and Melbourne to meet Alan, Oggsie and Misho. Here’s the story of the three encounters.

Jen Pollack Bianco, a writer and photographer from Los Angeles, regularly travels around the world to meet people and places for her travel blog.But who would have thought that her passion for mobile photography would lead her tomeet three “EyeEm Rockstars” in far away lands? Let’s pass the torch to Jen and get to know how she met**Alan, Oggsie and Misho…

Running a travel blog means my lifestyle is mobile by definition. I’m based in Los Angeles, but half the time I live out of a suitcase. I am quite possibly one of most mobile of the mobile photographers. One of the perks of my gypsy existence is that it has allowed me the opportunity to meet some of superstars of mobile photography in person.My recent travels have taken me to Japan and Australia, where I got face time with some EyeEm rockstars.

Let’s face it — not everyone you interact with or follow online translates into real life, or is even recognizable from their avatar, but after spending some quality time with them, I can say that I am truly fond of and impressed by these three artists.

Obi-Wan Kenobi in Tokyo

The work of Alan Kastner is out of this world, and I’ve been a fan for sometime. He’s based in Tokyo, which is my favorite city to visit. I think he should get a kickback from Japan’s tourism board because his images really make me crave Asia. Alan’s work is so complex yet subtly nuanced. He’s pretty much a Jedi master: well versed in every app and shooter out there, fluent in the technology and very selective about what to use and when to use it. He has a very distinct style and point of view, but his work also has a sense of mystery and layer of playfulness that made me suspect we’d get along.

I cajoled him into joining me in Asakusa while I got a geisha makeover for the blog and was thrilled when he agreed to come along. Alan is incredibly flexible (literally) and a bit mysterious. He can sit crossed legged on a pillow and chat about music or history for hours. Above all, he’s a gentleman. He was concerned about my jet lag and data roaming plan, and helped me document our day when my geisha makeup made me unable to do so. We had a fun adventure wandering the streets of Asakusa. He also has a dry wit, which I very much appreciated.

Luke Skywalker in Sydney

A little over a week later I was in Australia where I got a chance to meet Oggsie in Sydney. If Kastner is Obi-Wan Kenobi, I’d have to cast Oggsieas Luke Skywalker. He’s full of opinions, is a bit of rebel and a reluctant hero at the same time. He’s bionic, too. He’s a former athlete that has re-purposed his lightening fast reflexes for street shooting and the results are incredible.

Unlike my afternoon with Alan, Oggsieand I had lunch and coffee together and didn’t shoot at all. Oggsiealso has a great sense of humor. We were enjoying schnitzel and deep into a discussion about hashtag abuse and overuse of inspirational quotes in social media. Oggsiewas making a rather good argument about how useless it is to post pictures of cups of coffee that lack context. Lucky for me, Oggsie’s cappuccino arrived and matched his orange tie dye t-shirt perfectly. I snapped a pic and immediately uploaded it, forcing him to “like” a pretty picture of a cup coffee.

Han Solo in Melbourne

A few days later I was in Melbourne and got to meet Oggsie’s MPG partner, Misho Baranovic. If I stick with my Star Wars analogy, then Misho is Han Solo: the most fun to be with at a strange bar, confident in any given situation and ultimately working for the greater good. He’s also very laid back. I really enjoy his Instaburb project. He is also an excellent host and is a perfect example of why Melbourne feels like a city where I could live—Misho and I met at a rooftop bar and after one round of Mountain Goat beer, I felt like we’d known each other for ages.

We talked about mobile photography, our significant others and just about everything else. He appreciates Oggsie’s opinions and is very supportive of his fellow photographers. He is thrilled, for example, for the success of AikBeng Chia’s solo show in Singapore, where I am headed for Chinese New Year and Misho was kind enough to make an introduction. Luckily for me, AikBeng’s show has been extended and he’s offered to take me on a private tour when I get there.

Back in LA

I have learned from travel that it is best not to have any preconceived notions about people or places before arriving at the destination. Interestingly enough, my introduction to these superstars started when I was able to view their wonderful work online – long before we got to shake hands in person.

I look forward to meeting many more of my fellow mobile photographers in coming trips and the chance to appreciate each others’ work. But, I may have to stop with the Star Wars comparisons because I’m running out of the good guy characters and I think we’re all really a part of the Rebel Alliance.

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