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The Art of the Personal Project: Mike Marques

A Photo Editor's Blog - 8 hours 5 min ago

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Mike Marques

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8_WEB_LKatsetos

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How long have you been shooting?
12 years professionally

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I am a graduate of The New England School of Photography in Boston.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Personal work is what keeps me going so I am constantly thinking about topics and concepts. At that time, I wanted to have a Connecticut focused topic that needed more attention than it was getting. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, CT Chapter had been a client of mine for a couple years and I attended one of their fundraising events. I came across a book, published by the national chapter, that had portraits of people across the country diagnosed with MS. Not one person was from Connecticut. The number of diagnosed CT residents was about 6500 then.

I contacted the chapter about creating a book on a local level. At first, there was push back because publishing a book costs money and they weren’t interested. I had to change my approach. All I asked was for them to let me photograph some residents to show them where I was coming from. They started to understand my view of wanting the local community to see that MS is close to home. After meeting with the communications director a few times she agreed to reach out to some residents.

I personally did not have any connection to the disease and was not too familiar with it. There is no cure and it affects everyone very differently. I knew this would present its challenges and force me to think outside of my wheelhouse.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
At the beginning it was just about creating a few portraits. We put the idea of a book aside and just focused on one resident at a time. The MS chapter came up with lists of names of who could be photographed and we discussed which stories which raise the most awareness. I spoke directly with my subjects before photographing them and talked about how MS has affected them and what they have done to still live the life they want to live. MS affects people differently both physically and mentally so the approach to each portrait was new every time. One of the earlier portraits was of Karen Guarnaccia (in wheel chair, sitting in front of sliding glass door). MS has had a large affect on her physically – some days getting out of bed was not an option. The final image was Karen on a good day. I arrived at the MS office a few days after the shoot with a 16×20 print of Karen. The director finally realized the type of images I wanted to create and the impact they could have in our community. We started meeting on a regular basis to discuss possible subjects. We reached out to well over 100 people, many of which did not want to take part for various reasons. At first we set the number at 25 portraits. When we hit 25, there were some things the images had not addressed so we kept moving forward.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
We started shooting in September of 2010 and the last portrait was taken in December of 2013. We sometimes went a month without photographing anyone. Between me traveling for assignments and the chapter having busier times throughout the year, scheduling was often difficult. Also, we did not shoot much in the summer months due to the most common symptom of MS being heat sensitivity.

Something I decided from the very beginning was that whatever was to become of this project, the final images needed to be shown together as a whole. There are so many stages and severities of the disease that one image alone could not tell the whole story. This idea led us to word “mosaic” – each portrait is strong on its own though everything together reveals an even bigger picture. Word started to get out about the project so we did release a few images that could be used for press and social media.

In February 2014, we had a gallery opening to reveal i am a MoSaic and to show gratitude to those who took part. Many had not seen their portrait until the day of the gallery opening. Some people’s MS had progressed since their portrait was taken. There were many tears, some of sadness and some of joy. It was a wonderful day and a truly humbling experience.

Since the original show, the images have been on display at the Connecticut State Capital in Hartford, The Grove – a co working space in New Haven, CT, and the Aetna world headquarters. I am currently working on putting together a fundraising event in Stamford, CT (just outside NYC) for March 2015. The images would be on display a few weeks before and after the event.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Portfolio shooting has more of an initial direction and focus you are going for. I was ok letting this project take shape on its own without thinking too much about it. I wasn’t concerned as much about the photography but more about the communication and understanding going into a shoot. I do not work with models often, I photograph real people. With any portrait, there needs to be a level of trust between myself and my subjects. Putting something like MS in the middle of all of that presents a whole other element I don’t deal with often. Working this way changed the way I shoot – for the better – and helped me grow as a photographer.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I usually post to my blog and that feeds into my Facebook and Twitter. There were numerous production and behind the scenes images throughout the years as the work was being created. Once the project was complete, I had a routine to post a few of the final images per week for a little over three months.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
We did get a good amount of traction from our initial social media outreach. Through that, I was able organized an NPR panel with three of the subjects and myself. I did a couple morning TV shows as well as numerous print media around the state. The MS Chapter continues to use these images for marketing and raising awareness in all media.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I have created a promo piece specifically focused on i am a MoSaic. It is a 8.5” x 5.5” handmade book with images from the project and the story behind it. I also built a website dedicated to the project: www.iamamosaic.com

Project Statement:

i am a MoSaic is a collection of images portraying Connecticut’s many faces of multiple sclerosis. It is collaboration between photographer Mike Marques and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Connecticut Chapter. As a dedicated volunteer and supporter of the National MS Society, Mike has traveled around the state for nearly three years capturing residents living life as fully as possible in the face of MS. More than 40 residents of all ages, races, genders, and abilities were photographed. This is a unique and moving portrait of the many ways in which people live with this potentially debilitating disease. Together, the images become a composite picture of hope and resilience.

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Mike Marques is a portrait and lifestyle photographer based in West Hartford, CT. The images he creates are the result of the trusting relationships he builds with his subjects. When he’s not traveling on assignment, he can be found cycling the backroads of Connecticut or on a hike with his cattle dog. His clients include Connecticut Magazine, General Electric, Health Dialog, United Bank, World Wrestling Entertainment.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Categories: Business

Inspiration for Any Season

ASMP's Strictly Business - 18 hours 24 min ago

[by Jenna Close]

I’m a big collector of photography books and films that focus on the topics of industry & environment, travel, and climate change. They are a great source of inspiration for me, especially at the end of every year as I begin my habitual project planning and day-dreaming. Here are a few top favorites:

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 11.09.19 PMEdward Burtynsky: Water
I love all of Edward Burtynsky’s work, and his new-ish (2013) book Water is both beautifully rendered and timely. He focuses on “nature transformed through industry”, so if you’re interested in that topic his website is chock full of various artfully executed projects on oil, mining, flooding, etc.

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 11.09.39 PMPete McBride: The Colorado River Flowing Through Conflict (book) and Chasing Water (film)
Pete McBride has spent years documenting the Colorado River and the issues surrounding it. What started as a short assignment for National Geographic turned into a personal project that is impressive in both its quality and expansive coverage.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 11.10.26 PMBenjamin Drummond & Sara Joy Steele: Facing Climate Change
This photography/videography team has a very interesting body of work that focuses on telling the story of climate change through local people. Their four lovely short films focus on the Pacific Northwest. The rest of their portfolio is worth checking out too, as they have had some very interesting assignments around the world as a result of their work with nonprofits and scientists.

Jenna Close will cross at least one item off her “big project bucket list” in 2015. But first (and somewhat more difficult)…Christmas shopping.  www.p2photography.net

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

A Visit To The Getty

A Photo Editor's Blog - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:55am

The phone beeped in the middle of the night. A text. Must have been Dad, I thought, shaking off my dreams. He wakes up at 3:30 in the morning. He must have sent me good wishes on the trip.

Jesus Christ, Dad. It’s the middle of the night. Give me a f-cking break.

I swatted at the phone to shut it up, and went back to bed. I was due up super-early to head to California, so I was none-too-pleased to have my anxiety-ridden sleep interrupted any further.

Parents.

When the phone beeped again, this time as an alarm clock, I rolled out of bed at 5. My eyes refused to open, like a recalcitrant clamshell. I looked at my messages, mentally composing a text to Dad that would included some impolite language.

Except it wasn’t Dad. It was Southwest airlines. They’d texted me at 3:55 am to say my flight had been cancelled.

Ouch.

I had a serious cortisol drop, and tried to reschedule through the website, but that was useless. So before you know it, I was talking to a grumpy customer service rep, who’d been working straight through the night, trying to figure out how to salvage my trip.

At 5am.
Not fun.

(You try being civil and polite under such circumstances.)

When all was said and done, I made it to LA. But I routed through Vegas, and lost a bunch of time. Time I meant to spend at the J. Paul Getty Museum, looking at art, so I could report back to you.

They’d graciously set up a few meetings on my behalf, to have some of the curators show me work, as their photo exhibitions were changing over. They had to move things around to accommodate, and I had to apologize for the airline shenanigans. No harm, no foul, I suppose.

I only mention the drama because I’d been bragging to my wife the night before about how good I’d gotten at avoiding and managing stress. I’m a road warrior, I said, or something like that.

Which only guaranteed that things would go to Hell as quickly as possible. Cancelled flight? Yes. 25 minute wait for the rental car shuttle? Sure. 1 hour wait for the rental car? Of course. Construction on the 405 that rendered my careful directions useless? Naturally.

By the time I turned up at the museum, improperly dressed for the 85 degree day, I was salty and grouchy and spent. Not much good to the world, unfortunately. Much less as a journalist who was meant to at least APPEAR intelligent.

Luckily, for those of you who don’t know, the Getty Center is set on a hilltop overlooking all of Los Angeles to the East, and the Pacific Ocean to the West. It is as beautiful a setting as you are likely to find, for a museum, anywhere.

So I sat down for a few minutes, when I finally arrived. Caught my breath. Took in some sun. Breathed deeply. And I felt better.
Who wouldn’t?

My first move was to go to see Peter Paul Rubens’ gigantic tapestries in an exhibition that had just opened. Apparently, in the Baroque period, some Spanish royalty commissioned him to design 20 foot wide tapestries that depicted the victory of the Eucharist. The dominance of Catholicism.

Spain controlled the Southern Netherlands, which is now Belgium, and wanted to take over Holland, which was Protestant. The artist first made a series of phenomenal oil paintings, which were also displayed, and then had those pieces transcribed into cloth, on an enormous scale, by other artisans.

As near as I could tell, it was straight-up propaganda. (Nothing new, if you’ve seen European art before.) The Catholic Church was the prevailing power structure, and had plenty of funds, so it was a solid patron, albeit one with a clear agenda.

I looked at the work for a while, in the dark room, and then stepped outside and looked at the Pacific Ocean. I repeated the pattern two more times. In all my years of looking at art, visiting museums, and traveling around, I’ve never done anything like that before.

The fresh air helped me suss out my thoughts. The paintings were taut and packed with energy. Once translated into another medium as tapestries though, they lost the viscerality of the originals. What was forfeited in emotive power was more than likely gained with the impressive scale, as far as delivering the message. Fear us. We are coming to convert your souls. The Eucharist bows before no man. (Or something like that.)

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Soon enough, I found myself in the innards of the museum, still wearing my puffy vest in the 85 degree weather. At least it will be freezing in there, I thought, so I’ll be glad to have it. This place, unlike every other museum I’ve visited, was not chilled to perfection, though.

So I ended up sweating as the meeting got started.

Not. Very. Classy.

I took the vest off, allowed the air-con to do its job, and began to parse what was going on before me. Which I will report to you, finally, now…

The Getty had arranged for me to meet Nancy Perloff, a curator at the Getty Research Institute, who was putting on a large exhibition about World War I, and the propaganda imagery that flooded the Continent. (In honor of the Centennial.) She was interested in the visual language that was used to depict the War, but also the manner in which imagery was manipulated to present one’s enemies in unflattering ways.

The exhibit, “World War I: War of Images, Images of War,” has since opened, so you ought to go see it. I did not have the opportunity, I’m afraid. We were joined in our conversation by Mazie Harris, a curator from the photography department.

Ms. Perloff presented us with a 6-photo panel piece made in London in WWI. She said it was the only photography that was included in the exhibit, so they carted it over to show me. Very decent of them.

The images were made of a German dirigible that hung over London, in 1916, lobbing bombs down below. It seemed like an early version of a drone, where superior technology enabled one side to pummel another from a safe distance.

But those Brits were crafty, so the series showed the floating beast lit up from below by spotlights. And then it was shot down, probably by airplanes, though that was not entirely clear in the pictures.

The first two were straight black and white, then a third was more of a sepia color. The last three pictures, while the wreck descended in flames, were rendered in red. Totally expressionistic.

We discussed the photographer, H. Scott Orr, of whom I’d never heard. Had he made money off the images by releasing post cards? Ms. Harris showed us some provenance work she’d done, when other such images came on the market. We discussed the degree of research that goes into the job.

Curators are often seen as glamorous these days. Practically art stars, in the public’s opinion. But I must say, whenever I spend quality time, I see them as scholars and historians. Right there in LA, talking about history, war, culture, and research, it was clear that I was dealing with people who’d devoted their lives to discovery.

Were the flaming blimp pictures propaganda, I was asked? I thought not, because H. Scott Orr was just making his work; doing his thing. If he’d been commissioned, like Rubens, and supplied with a message beforehand, I would have said yes.

We wondered how the colors were achieved? As the resident photographer in the room, I suggested toning. I’d seen a heap of hand-colored Russian images at FOAM in 2013, and they look very different.

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

After a while, our discussion broke up, and Ms. Perloff and Ms. Harris moved along. Amanda Maddox, who’d been quietly doing her work, right there in the room the whole time, looked up from her notes and introduced herself. She’s also a photography curator, and was working on the new Josef Koudelka exhibition that has since opened.

She’d spent the better part of six years on the project, which was meant to be the first major, complete retrospective of the artist’s career. They’d given over their entire photography exhibition space for the show, which was also a first.

Ms. Maddox showed me “The Wall,” an accordion-fold book that Mr. Koudelka had made for “This Place,” the Israeli photo project we’ve discussed thrice in my book review column. Apparently, Mr. Koudelka’s solution to being invited was to focus on the wall dividing Israel from the presumptive Palestine, and then make only two copies of the book.

As they stretched the book wide, which would ultimately reach nearly 40′, I was reminded of that classic SoCal accordion-fold book, “Every Building on the Sunset Strip,” by the ultimate LA guy, Ed Ruscha.

At that moment, in walked Virginia Heckert, the chief photo curator at the Getty. I pointed out the comparison, and she mentioned the book review I wrote where I called “bullshit” on Mr. Ruscha for claiming he’d never heard of Stephen Shore, Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, or Nicholas Nixon. (FYI, Mr. Baltz has since passed away. RIP.)

I asked Ms. Maddox why Koudelka? If she was going to devote 6 year of her life to something like this, marrying her passion, work ethic, research skills, and all the other component parts, why him?

There must be a reason.

She replied that Mr. Koudelka had demonstrated a level of commitment she found fascinating. After he had to leave Prague for publishing anonymous photographs following the Soviet invasion, he based himself in London. But he soon began photographing the Gypsy, or Roma communities, for which he became famous.

For years, she told me, he was essentially homeless. Following the human migration, sleeping outside, where he could. He’d head back to London for the winters only, as it was too extreme to live outdoors. He’d given his life for his art, Ms. Maddox said, and so she was devoting a chunk of her own to honor that.

She also showed me some mini-accordion-fold books that he makes, by hand, and keeps in his back pocket. They’re his maquettes for book ideas, though they look as much like a Hello Kitty version of a photo book: adorable, and the kind of thing you want to touch. (They didn’t let me, though. Touch them.)

After a couple of hours, I let everyone get back to their jobs, and set out to do more of mine, which meant wandering around the museum until it closed, looking at art. Chatting up the people who worked there. Having a good time.

Honestly, the staff I encountered at the Getty were just so nice. And helpful. The folks at the info desk, the security guards, the coat check lady, the curators, media contacts. Everyone. I’m sure it takes a ridiculous sum of money to keep that place running, though with the name Getty attached, I doubt we have to worry about their endowment.

Aside from a fee to park, the museum is free. There is a vast amount of amazing things to see. Gardens to walk through. Views to take in.

If you live in Southern California, or are heading there any time soon, I’m telling you to go there. As soon as you can. I was embarrassed to admit I’d never been to visit before. Now, I can’t wait to go back.

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Categories: Business

Go play. Go to a play.

ASMP's Strictly Business - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:01am

[by Carolyn Potts]

The holiday season can be a great time to catch up on inspirational reading. I’ve a list of perennial favorites I recommend to my clients when they’re looking for books that provide a big return on their time investment.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 11.21.07 PMHigh on that list is Julia Cameron’s best-selling book on creativity, The Artist’s Way. Cameron suggests that your Inner Artist loves to play and you need to provide it with regular play dates.

All artists need to have space and time where new experiences can generate new ideas–ideas that are safe from critical judgement so that they can fully blossom.  She calls that process “Going on an Artist’s Date.”  When you actively commit to doing something outside of your usual routine  and engage in an by activity that suspends time and creates wonder (you know…play), sparks can be ignited that will fire up your own creative process.

One way you can play is by seeing a play. If you don’t usually attend live theater, now might be a good time to get some theatrical inspiration. It’s a great “artist’s date.” There is so much to delight in watching live theater. Not only because of the great performances but because so many of your senses are engaged in live theater; the sights, the sounds–and even smells–occurring in real time allow you to be more fully present and engaged than watching a film or TV.

The connection between photographers and actors is also interesting.  Noted director, Peter Sellars says: “Theater gives you the chance to stop the flow of time.”  Photographers obviously know something about stopping time. Actors and photographers both have an instinctual understanding of the importance of stopping time so we can more deeply reflect on what is happening around us and its true meaning.

I heard that quote last night while listening to NPR. It was during , a great segment from Paul Kennedy’s program IDEAS. This episode was about Sellars’ productions of Shakespeare, who, he says, has created a world for us that is a “giant web of imagination.” It’s a broadcast well worth listening to–especially for anyone who’s curious about a director whose productions are often filled with a “profound humanity.”

You never know what career-enhancing creative gifts might also come from “playing.” Over twenty years ago, when Chicago photographer, Sandro Miller, was photographing Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf theater company, he and actor John Malkovich became friends and shared a creative synergy. Last month, Sandro’s exhibition Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich opened to a packed house at Catherine Eldelman Gallery in Chicago. For those who know the history of photography and for those who know Sandro’s journey, don’t miss it. It’s up through January 2015.

Now go play.

Carolyn Potts, photography marketing consultant, speaker and former photo rep, shows seasoned & proactive photographers how to get more work. When not working with her clients, she loves experiencing the surprises that come from both artists dates and live theater. Connect with her at www.cpotts.com and http://bit.ly/FaceBookPottsConsulting and Google+.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Edit – More Magazine: Emily Shur

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:05am

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More Magazine

Creative Director: Debra Bishop

Photo Director: Natasha Lunn

Photo Editor: Stephanie Swanicke

Photographer: Emily Shur

Who did the graphic sign for the first shot did that come from the magazine?
Yes the lettering on the sign came from the magazine.  This shot was conceived ahead of time because the art director knew he was going to use this image as the opener.  The magazine asked me to photograph Nadia (our model) with and without the piece of cardboard she’s holding.

Styling and casting seem essential for this project. Who was the stylist and what made you choose this person
The stylist was Jessie Cohan, and she did an amazing job.  I was really hoping to work with a stylist on this shoot that could elevate the images.  I loved Jessie’s sensibility, and she had a great mix of shoots on her site from sculptural high fashion to more bohemian feeling stories that looked like they had a blend of vintage and current pieces.  Since this wasn’t technically a fashion story, we weren’t limited to certain brands or seasons.  So, I wanted to do what felt right for the different shots.  I also wanted to find the right styling balance where everything felt fresh and modern even though our girl in the story was supposed to be kind of a mess.

Tell me about the collaboration with the magazine, how did that unfold?
The magazine had a very clear vision of what they wanted the images to look like.  They used a past shoot of mine as reference for the light and color palette which was great.  It’s helpful for me to have direction when I start thinking about a shoot so I can visualize the images before I make them.  So, we had that as a starting point and then we worked together to collaborate on the five different shots and what our model should be doing in each one.  The story was already written so we had five specific branding-challenged “characters” we were going to be shooting.

What were you looking for in the casting? Long hair must have been essential for the looks, what else?
I actually didn’t think too much about the hair!  I sort of figured we could use wigs if needed, but having a model with red hair was a huge bonus in the end.  I was mainly looking for someone who was comedic and expressive.  Casting this was the most difficult part of the pre-production process for sure.  We saw lots of pictures of attractive women, but none of them really screamed COMEDY to me.  I ultimately needed a really great comedic actress who wasn’t solely concerned with looking pretty.  Nadia Quinn came to us sort of in the eleventh hour on a recommendation from a casting director in NY.  The magazine wound up flying her out to LA for the shoot, and she really was my dream girl. 

Did you have any reference to the looks you were going for?
We had all of the ideas pretty well nailed down before the shoot. For example, we knew one shot was going to be a drill sergeant, one was going to be so bland she blended into the background, one was going to be an over-zealous karaoke singer, etc.  I didn’t have many visual references for the characters, but I had enough conversations with the magazine to feel comfortable going in and just doing it.  And as I said before, I did have strong lighting and color references so I knew where I was going with that from the start.

What made you choose that color background?
The background is actually just a white cyc so the color comes from the color profile I used to process the images…and then of course some Photoshop love in post.  It’s a profile I made on an older shoot (that was used as reference by the magazine).

Have you ever directed a model this much before? Tell me about the shoot process, did you talk it over before you started shooting
This was definitely on the high side of the spectrum in terms of how much I directed Nadia.  We discussed every shot before we got going.  I would give her the general idea…some were meant to be more subtle and some were clearly more big.  While we were shooting I’d call out little tweaks for her to make and she took direction amazingly.  This type of shoot would’ve never been successful if that communication wasn’t there.

Was this a multi day shoot?
Nope – we got it all done in one day.

What was your biggest concern going into this shoot? 
My biggest concern was that one element wouldn’t be as strong as the others and bring the shoot down.  Luckily we had such a great team – wardrobe, hair, make-up, props, talent, etc. – and there was no weak link.  Everyone was dedicated to the story and worked so hard.

What surprised you the most?
I think what surprised me the most was how seamlessly everything came together on set.  There were many people on this shoot I hadn’t worked with before, and that can really go either way.  Not only was everyone so good at their jobs…everyone was nice and happy and we all had fun.  It was really the best case scenario.

Categories: Business

May Your New Year Have A Freak-y New Perspective

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 12:01am

[by Charles Gupton]

Are you able to say the words “I don’t know” when you really don’t know the answer to something you think you should? Until you’re able to admit what you don’t know, it’s virtually impossible to be open to learning what you need to know.

ASMPBlog_Dec2014_FreakBook_web

© Charles Gupton

In the early chapters of their newest book, Think Like A Freak, authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, posit that even the smartest people have a tendency towards confirming their biases – or what they already believe – rather than being open to new information that would give a broader view of reality.

It’s tempting to gravitate towards the most obvious or nearest solution when we try to solve a problem. Instead, I believe it is especially incumbent upon creative professionals to keep an open-minded approach when solving challenges. The very essence of creativity is the ability to see possibilities based on imagination, experience, and unprejudiced thinking.

As you’re well aware, the newest tools and technology are not going to give you a cutting edge for very long. Your only lasting competitive edge lies in your thinking, in your ability to see and solve a challenge from a vantage point unique to you.

Think Like A Freak does an excellent job of presenting case studies and antidotes to reinforce the habits of “different” reasoning such as thinking like a child would (with fewer biases and dogma attached) and understanding what others really want (don’t listen to what they say; watch what they do).

If you want to shift your mind into a new position, to see the world from a fresh “freaking” perspective, this title is a good place to start.

Based in Raleigh, N.C., Charles uncovers stories that resonate, then tells them in three-minute films to engage clients for business on the web. You can connect with him at:

cg@charlesguptonphoto.com | www.charlesguptonphoto.com | www.charlesgupton.com

 

 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

A Delicate Balance: The Mashup of the Art and Business of Photography

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 12:02am

[by Richard Kelly]

books

I discovered photography, when I was around ten years old. I was in the process of reading my way around the Ellwood City Public Library when I stumbled upon the Time-Life series, you know that collection of books – silver and black.

From that day forward, books have guided me and my photography. It’s my vice, almost to the point of sneaking books into the house in brown paper sacks so as not to draw attention to yet another book on photography or art or business.

This past summer I spent my time revisiting those books that inspired me, with a particular attention to the seminal works that make up the canon of photo education. In the next few months and looking forward I plan to look at new work for inspiration and solid business advice.

My top ten holiday reading list delicately balances between art and commerce, so here goes.

Dan Winters – Road to Seeing
Jennifer Schwartz – Crusade for your Art – Best Practices for Fine Art Photographers
Latoya Ruby Frazier – The Notion of Family
John Harrington – More Best Business Practices for Photographers
Kathy Ryan – Office Romance: Photographs from Inside the New York Times Building
Cory Doctorow & Amanda Palmer – Information Doesn’t Want to be Free
Jason Fulford & Gregory Halpern – The Photographer’s Playbook
Guy Kawasaki & Peg Fitzpatrick – The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users
David Campany – The Open Road: Photography & The American Road Trip
Susan Carr – The Art & Business of Photography

Richard Kelly is a photographer and educator reading in cafés and coffee shops around the globe or Pittsburgh, often with more than one book going at a time. Follow him on Instagram or twitter.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Holiday Reading

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 12:01am

The holiday slow down is the perfect time to snuggle up with a good book…or tablet.  This week, our contributors share some of the books, blogs, articles, publications and other resources they recommend for still and motion photographers looking to get inspired or grow their business skills.

 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

This Week In Photography Books: Brad Moore

A Photo Editor's Blog - Fri, 12/12/2014 - 10:02am

by Jonathan Blaustein

I just flew in from New Orleans, and boy, are my arms tired. (Ba doom boom. Tch.)

Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. It flowed out of my fingers, and then, there it was. As ridiculous as that bad joke is, the underlying truth stands.

I did just get back from New Orleans.

And every bone in my body is aching from the deep exhaustion of ten hours of travel each way, with 26 critiques sandwiched in between. (Plus the amazing parties and such. It’s not a drag, by any means.)

Since this column is as much a running commentary on my life as it is a series of book reviews, I must share that I feel like sleeping for 3 days straight. Instead, I came home to my two young children, and that’s just a daily marathon.

Enough bitching. What can I tell you today? NOLA rocks. I’ll be featuring it at length in the coming weeks, so I’ll spare you too much backstory in the here and now. Suffice it to say, it is a city that has “The Magic.”

I live in Taos, a small mountain town that is renown for it’s spiritual juju, so I know of what I speak. New Orleans has an ineffable something that makes it an addictive locale for many a tourist.

Let’s face it, the world is big. Far bigger than any one person could ever explore. Even Tony Bourdain has seen but a fragment, no matter how tired HIS bones might feel.

Places, cities, such as we know them, are nothing but an aggregate of people, structures, and landscape. That’s it. Yet somehow, they manage to develop distinct identities. The Castro is not the Lower East Side.

North London is not the North side of Chicago. These statements are so obvious as to be practically meaningless, and yet I type them still.

Why?

Because as photographers, or lovers of photography, we know that the best work manages to tap into the Zeitgeist of a place. To allow us to learn something crucial about a spot we might never have seen with our own eyes.

The camera is the proxy for the artist, and the artist is the proxy for the tourist. Here, declares the artist, is something you ought to see. Now, declares the artist, I will show you things that will embed in your memory, and make you think you know more than you do.

Speaking of which, I was in Southern California in late October, as you well know. (If you were paying attention at all.) I love that place too. It’s pretty, sure, but there is a seedy normality to the joint that I find alluring.

I’ve spent next-to-no time in Beverly Hills, or its ilk. Give me a low-rise little beach town any day. (Big Shout Out to Leucadia.)

Brad Moore has managed to capture an essence of SoCal that I’m pretty sure you’ll love. The SoCal of the Inland Empire, and Orange County, and mismatched patches of pavement. We can all see it in “Brad Moore,” a new book recently released by the nascent publisher Acuity Press, also from Southern California.

Why will you likely love it? Because it mashes up the anonymous modernism of the super-structure with the random chaos of real life. Korean churches behind geometric facades. Buddhist temples in half-abandoned-looking row houses.

And a seamless, flat, gray sky that references the smog, for which the place is often known, and the fog, that ever-present menace to coastal sanity. (Hey Fog, if you blow out now, so I can see the sun for a few minutes, I’ll give you $500. What, you can’t spend money, because you are an apparition made of moist sea air? Fuck you, then, fog. Fuck you.)

The book is really well-made, the images razor sharp. The repetitive shapes jump out at you, but just when you think you’re getting the hang of things, you’re given a surprise.

A big blue truck on a lawn, where we’d otherwise expect to see a house. What? And there are two dark smudges with streaks running down. Was the truck struck with paint-ball pellets? A group of miscreant teen-agers marring the otherwise “perfect” suburban existence?

No explanation necessary, really. Who doesn’t love a good mystery?

Later, a pile of green lawn beckons, the color as intense as a magic mushroom ride. What is that on the grass? Oh, it’s a tarp, holding a heap of grass shavings that are no longer a part of the territorial integrity of said lawn.

Brilliant illusion. Maybe the ideal metaphor? The gloss, disembodied from the host.

OK. That’s as much as I can squeeze out of my tired brain. I’m leaving Southern California, in my imagination, so I can look out my window to the shocking number of gopher mounds that dot my backyard.

Fucking Gophers. Why don’t you move somewhere where they’ll actually appreciate you?

Bottom Line: Terrific pictures of Southern California

I just flew in from New Orleans, and boy, are my arms tired. (Ba doom boom. Tch.)

Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. It flowed out of my fingers, and then, there it was. As ridiculous as that bad joke is, the underlying truth stands.

I did just get back from New Orleans.

And every bone in my body is aching from the deep exhaustion of ten hours of travel each way, with 26 critiques sandwiched in between. (Plus the amazing parties and such. It’s not a drag, by any means.)

Since this column is as much a running commentary on my life as it is a series of book reviews, I must share that I feel like sleeping for 3 days straight. Instead, I came home to my two young children, and that’s just a daily marathon.

Enough bitching. What can I tell you today? NOLA rocks. I’ll be featuring it at length in the coming weeks, so I’ll spare you too much backstory in the here and now. Suffice it to say, it is a city that has “The Magic.”

I live in Taos, a small mountain town that is renown for it’s spiritual juju, so I know of what I speak. New Orleans has an ineffable something that makes it an addictive locale for many a tourist.

Let’s face it, the world is big. Far bigger than any one person could ever explore. Even Tony Bourdain has seen but a fragment, no matter how tired HIS bones might feel.

Places, cities, such as we know them, are nothing but an aggregate of people, structures, and landscape. That’s it. Yet somehow, they manage to develop distinct identities. The Castro is not the Lower East Side.

North London is not the North side of Chicago. These statements are so obvious as to be practically meaningless, and yet I type them still.

Why?

Because as photographers, or lovers of photography, we know that the best work manages to tap into the Zeitgeist of a place. To allow us to learn something crucial about a spot we might never have seen with our own eyes.

The camera is the proxy for the artist, and the artist is the proxy for the tourist. Here, declares the artist, is something you ought to see. Now, declares the artist, I will show you things that will embed in your memory, and make you think you know more than you do.

Speaking of which, I was in Southern California in late October, as you well know. (If you were paying attention at all.) I love that place too. It’s pretty, sure, but there is a seedy normality to the joint that I find alluring.

I’ve spent next-to-no time in Beverly Hills, or its ilk. Give me a low-rise little beach town any day. (Big Shout Out to Leucadia.)

Brad Moore has managed to capture an essence of SoCal that I’m pretty sure you’ll love. The SoCal of the Inland Empire, and Orange County, and mismatched patches of pavement. We can all see it in “Brad Moore,” a new book recently released by the nascent publisher Acuity Press, also from Southern California.

Why will you likely love it? Because it mashes up the anonymous modernism of the super-structure with the random chaos of real life. Korean churches behind geometric facades. Buddhist temples in half-abandoned-looking row houses.

And a seamless, flat, gray sky that references the smog, for which the place is often known, and the fog, that ever-present menace to coastal sanity. (Hey Fog, if you blow out now, so I can see the sun for a few minutes, I’ll give you $500. What, you can’t spend money, because you are an apparition made of moist sea air? Fuck you, then, fog. Fuck you.)

The book is really well-made, the images razor sharp. The repetitive shapes jump out at you, but just when you think you’re getting the hang of things, you’re given a surprise.

A big blue truck on a lawn, where we’d otherwise expect to see a house. What? And there are two dark smudges with streaks running down. Was the truck struck with paint-ball pellets? A group of miscreant teen-agers marring the otherwise “perfect” suburban existence?

No explanation necessary, really. Who doesn’t love a good mystery?

Later, a pile of green lawn beckons, the color as intense as a magic mushroom ride. What is that on the grass? Oh, it’s a tarp, holding a heap of grass shavings that are no longer a part of the territorial integrity of said lawn.

Brilliant illusion. Maybe the ideal metaphor? The gloss, disembodied from the host.

OK. That’s as much as I can squeeze out of my tired brain. I’m leaving Southern California, in my imagination, so I can look out my window to the shocking number of gopher mounds that dot my backyard.

Fucking Gophers. Why don’t you move somewhere where they’ll actually appreciate you?

Bottom Line: Terrific pictures of Southern California

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Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.

Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.

Categories: Business

Casual, Fast and Frequent

ASMP's Strictly Business - Fri, 12/12/2014 - 12:01am

[by Jenna Close]

Up until this year, much of the video I produced was intended to tell the story of whatever company had hired me. My clients consistently wanted 2-4 minute highly polished pieces that could withstand some passage of time and spoke broadly of the values and services that made the company unique. Then, quite suddenly, the scope of the requests changed. Clients wanted shorter pieces intended to showcase a particular event, aspect or accomplishment. Instead of a slick, polished piece that involved a lot of time planning, shooting and working in post, they began requesting a more casual feel with a quicker turnaround. The following is an example brief from a recent job:

Coverage of a giveaway event at a park. Client will secure permits. Must use equipment such as a dSLR that allows for easy mobility and is unobtrusive. High quality video and audio required, take creative shots whenever possible. Interview passerby/participants on the fly, set up two GoPro’s, one for a time-lapse and another for wide angle documentation of the activity at the promoters booth. Separate audio and video files to be overnighted to the agency for editing. Video will be released internally, on our website and on YouTube.

The budgets for these types of shoots are consistently quite good and the constant need for new content means new requests come in frequently. When I asked a long-time client about this change in approach, she gave some interesting insights worth considering for the future:

Her company recently refocused their marketing research to study more closely the way Millennials interact online. They discovered that YouTube is a powerful tool for reaching (and keeping) this generation of buyers. They also found that particular demographic consistently trusts testimonials and reviews by real people and friends more than a traditional commercial that uses actors. They realized that in order to remain relevant they needed to release content on their channel at a much faster pace. They also considered the style of marketing that most attracted this group and found that a casual, seemingly almost off-the-cuff, Instagram-type feel (but still with high quality video and audio) was most effective in attracting loyal followers. Their marketing approach has shifted to more content more often, and their currency for this type of interaction is no longer stills, but video. They do continue to utilize still photography but it is for more specialized marketing with very specific targets. This particular company is putting out short videos 1-2 times a month while only updating their still photography catalog about once a year.

I suspect that we will see a rising need for this type of content in the future. My hope is that clients will also continue to place value on quality even as they recognize they have to deliver more content, more often.

Jenna Close is looking forward to a 2015 full of video, stills and whatever else may be on the horizon. She can be found at www.p2photography.net

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Art of the Personal Project: Mark Laita

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 10:26am

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com.

Today’s featured photographer is: Mark Laita

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How long have you been shooting? 
I starting photographing rock bands that would come through Chicago when I was in high school in the late 70’s. I started shooting advertising in the mid 80’s.
 
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self taught, or by assisting great photographers, but I went to photography school as well.
 
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I love the cultural uniqueness of Mexican wrestling. I can’t say I love the wrestling itself, but documenting these large, masked Mexican men in tights and capes can’t be beat.
 
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I haven’t really presented it yet. When I feel I’m finished I’ll show it to publishers.
 
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
The way I work is I’ll shoot things and some of them will show potential as a series and I’ll keep shooting until it feels done. With Serpentine, it took more than ten years before I decided to expand the 5 images I did in 1998 into a series of hundreds of images.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
They often overlap, but generally, advertising clients still need to see some images that make sense commercially. A mix of both seems to work. It shows that you can be very creative, but can also do what the client wants, if needed.
 
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
No. I’ll pursue a publisher if the project has potential as a book.
 
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
When a popular blog covers one of my books it can quickly spread to many others that want to feature it. That’s happened with my book, Created Equal a few times now. It’s crazy for a few weeks and then it fades down.
 
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I’ve used some non-commercial images in my self promotion and later decided to expand on it and turn it into a larger body of work. 

————–
 
Mark Laita is a commercial and fine art photographer based in Los Angeles. His work has been featured in campaigns for Adidas, Apple, Estee Lauder, Mercedez-Benz and Van Cleef and Arpels. Mark has had three books of his photographs published; Created Equal, Steidl 2009, Sea, Abrams, 2010 and Serpentine, Abrams, 2012. His work has been exhibited at galleries in the U.S. and Europe.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Categories: Business

Iconic Doorstops, the Hook and the Metric Crap Ton.

ASMP's Strictly Business - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 12:01am

[by Todd Joyce]

Click on a link to watch a video and a commercial pops up.   You can skip the ad in 4, 3, 2, 1, “skip ad.”   If it caught your interest, you may have stayed.  If it was a sell, then you skipped it.  In embedded ads, the hook has to happen within those first few seconds or the viewer is gone.

In a post about the future of video, it would have been easy to talk tech…don’t get me wrong, tools are great to have, but they are just tools.  Most of us are tech nerds, who spend a metric crap ton of time researching and testing equipment to enable us to do new and exciting work. What we all need to remember/admit is that even the most advanced piece of equipment/technology, won’t make the viewer watch our work.  Think Blair Witch Project.  It was shot with simple video cameras – and video cameras are getting more simple all the time.  The director didn’t have the subjects lug cinema quality cameras.  It wasn’t about the tool.  It was the suspense and excitement that held your attention.

Recently, I spent a large amount of time researching and watching various types of motion work.  I watched everything from great movies to successful commercials. The good ones made you relate to someone or something, right away, which made you part of the story.   That hook is what keeps us from going on to something else. Developing that hook is tremendously important and difficult to quantify.   And doing it sooner is becoming more important than ever. Attention spans are getting shorter and they will likely get even shorter in the coming years.

To prepare for the future, spend a metric crap ton of time researching what makes a motion piece interesting enough to hold the viewers attention and less time researching the newest, iconic, doorstop bound pieces of hardware.  The future of video, is getting and holding the viewer’s attention.  It’s not about the tools.

Todd Joyce – BTW, the metric crap ton is slang for a huge value that is hard to quantify, e.g. Todd has a metric crap ton of work here.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

As The Cameras Become Ubiquitous All We Have Is Craft To Differentiate Us

A Photo Editor's Blog - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 9:47am

I can take a significantly better looking image with my iPhone today, than I could with a $22K digital camera in 1999. A teenager can share an image so much more easily with millions of people, for free, and do so so much more quickly, than I could as a photojournalist at The New York Times less than a decade ago… and that’s amazing, and at times of course: scary.

Both the QUALITY and COST have been evened out within our business: and historically that’s relatively rare.

The question we now must all ask ourselves as creative professionals is: how do we survive within this new landscape? (especially in one that is moving so fast!)

[...] Well then answer has been around for awhile. It’s nothing new: it’s called SKILL and KNOWLEDGE OF (and respect of) CRAFT.

Am I an idealist? SURE – but I also think I’m quite grounded in reality. And I think that as the cameras become ubiquitous, as everyone gravitates towards the same tools, the playing field will truly become leveled, and ironically we’ll discover that our only true differentiator in time will become the author’s understanding of how they can best put those tools into use. That is what will ultimately set us apart from one another. The exponentially increasing camera technology will indeed be its own worst enemy.

— Vincent Laforet

Read the whole post on: Vincent Laforet’s Blog.

Categories: Business

Opening a New Door

ASMP's Strictly Business - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:01am

[by Sean Kernan]

At first, photography was not a career for me. It was a way out of a job that had stopped being creative (in theater, of all places), and a way into a universe that was larger than anything I’d ever suspected was there.

Up to that point I’d spent my life first as a student, then as a responsible stage manager. But when I looked through a camera, suddenly I was blown into a wider world. Photography let me see, and know that I was seeing. In those moments I became childlike again in an adult sort of way. It was the greatest do-over one could ever hope for.

But when I became a professional photographer all that changed. I began to look for—and see—just what I was sent out to see. And when I tried to go back to the kind of goal-less seeing that had freed me in the first place, I found out how very hard that is.

Still I kept trying, going off to unfamiliar places and marooning myself there for a time. One day, while I was in the throes of photographing in a boxing club in Africa, I pressed the little button that said Video on the back of my new Canon 5D II and it was as though a door slammed open to reveal yet another universe. And if such a door opens and you don’t step through, you’re a fool.

Video was just as exciting as my discovery of photography had been. Once more I was wandering around with the camera to my eye and nothing in my mind. And whenever I do that, I am somehow enlarged. I don’t really understand that, but I’ve come to trust it.

Since that first try there have been unexpected outcomes of the best kind. I’ve finished a film in that boxing club in Kampala. I’m still working on an extensive video on the Crow Reservation in Montana. And I’m wrapping up work on projections for a theater/dance performance that opens in New York in January.

And none of these was an assignment. They just combusted spontaneously, exactly the way my first transformative photography projects did.

Of course, there’s the business of making one’s living and photographers everywhere are looking at the medium of video as a natural extension of their work. It promises to be a very exciting transition.

Still, there’s a part of me that is almost afraid that some client will ask me to do some big video project and turn my exploration into a job with necessary outcomes. Well, if that happens, I’ll deal with it, and it’ll be great.

But through my career I’ve always had sense enough to know that my exploratory impulse was a taproot that was growing and searching out nourishment. I understand that I have to take that impulse for a long walk every time I see it pawing at the door. If I don’t, I’m finished.

Sean Kernan’s latest book is Looking into the Light: Creativity and Photography, an investigation of ways photographers can invigorate their own vision. Available at the Apple iBookstore.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Edit – Joao Canziani Dance Series and Fader Magazine

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 10:03am



Emily Oldak, Queens. NY

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Anne Yoon in Los Angeles

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Dancer Bryan Arias in East Harlem and Queens

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Dance Series: Personal Project

Photographer: Joao Canziani

Fader

Executive Editor:  Jessica Robertson
Style Editor at Large: Mobolaji Dawodu
Creative Directors: ETC (Everything Type Company) Geoff Halber and Kyle Blue
Photo Director: Geordie Wood
Photographer: Joao Canziani

Heidi: What inspired you to start this body of work?

Joao: I watched a documentary called Pina (directed by Wim Wenders) a couple of years ago, and I was blown away. How dance could be abstract and energetic and seemingly random and chaotic but still cathartic. It sent chills down my spine, particularly watching it in 3D (I don’t need 3D in movies, but for this one it was truly worth it). It planted a seed. So I talked to a friend of mine who is an amazing professional dancer to do a test shoot with her. At the time I was mostly interested in stillness and getting portraits of her. I liked the pictures very much, but the more I looked at them, the more I thought this could be a continuing series with different dancers.

How do you select your subjects?

I picked my dancer friend’s brain, and she gave me a long list of dancers that she knew. She introduced me to a few of them via Facebook or email. So I started getting in touch with them. I met with whoever was interested, and decided to talk to them extensively before the shoot. That was actually the most inspiring aspect of this process, to find out about their upbringing, their lives, why they got into dancing, what they wanted to accomplish in the future… It made me realize that this could be a very fruitful collaboration.

Are these multi day shoots?

Yeah, I shot each dancer in one day.

Describe a typical session, it’s there some structure or is it fluid? ( do have a set of criteria for each series? )

A little structure, and then the rest to chance. The shoot day starts early with scouting some locations around the area where the dancer lives. Usually that takes a couple hours or more. Then we pick him or her up from their home and head from one location to the other. Typically I’d like to have three or four locations per session. That’s the only structure, the locations. But I’ve realized they’re very important, because they contribute to the consistency of the whole series. We’ve gotten lucky with that! Whenever we shot in New York, we always managed to get into an empty racquetball court. It was like having a natural light studio with a beautiful wall for free. And the last dancer I shot, we were able to shoot inside a huge empty public pool. (It’s incredible what you can get away with in this city if you just push a little.)

But I digress. The fluid part is the most fun, obviously. Whereas — as I mentioned before — I was mostly interested in formal portraits of the dancers when I began this series, the shoots quickly became a mix of capturing movement and portraits. My only goal really was to freeze the action in a way that made them seem weightless and abstract and surreal. And particularly something I hadn’t seen before in dancing pictures. The rest was letting them do their thing as they knew best.

Are you doing these through out your travel assigns or do you travel for specific dancers?

Most of these I shot while I had some free time in NYC. One other one that I shot while I was on assignment in LA. I’m hoping that next year I can find other dancers in places other than the US, to have a variety of locations.

Is there any type of music when these shoots are happening, how does the talent get into form?

We shot most of these sessions without music, except for the last one, which was actually extremely helpful. I decided to shoot a little video for this one (which I’m still cutting and should be ready in a couple weeks), and as we were shooting on the racquetball court, my assistant put on a playlist on a little Jambox. This song called Reflektor by Arcade Fire came on, and Emily the dancer began to move so incredibly that we all really got in the groove. It was magical!

What are you goals with this, a show, a book?

Honestly, a book or a show has crossed my mind, but for the moment I’m just enjoying shooting something that is so collaborative and creative yet I can truly call my own. For either a show or a book to happen I have to keep on shooting more.

How do you approach the individual and the collective edit for this?

 I learn a little bit about them and their aspirations by meeting them beforehand. I do tell them though that I’m not interested in shooting the typical images you see out there of dancers — particularly ballet dancers — that can end up being so clichéd and cheesy. Once we’re shooting I let them do their thing, every so often telling them to repeat a movement that looked great, or to try something similar. If I end up capturing something a bit off-kilter, or jarring, or abstract, that also evokes a bit of narrative, then I’m happy. If it makes you ask, “what’s happening here?” then I’m happy.

As for the overall edit, I try as best as I can to have some variety in each session between locations. But also make sure that from one image to the next there is a bit of dynamic range. Some wider shots paired with some more close up, and so forth.

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Let’s talk a little about your Fader cover: How long did you have with the subject?

Four hours or so total: hair and make-up, plus change of wardrobe. So at the end it felt more like an hour and a half or less of just shooting.

What led to this particular body position?

I don’t recall exactly, but Nicki certainly knew what she was doing. The magazine’s style director put on some music that Nicki liked and she moved and danced away. I was particularly interested in those in-between moments of stillness, or where it felt more of a portrait. This was one of those moments that probably lasted a click or two and then it was gone.

Was your dance inspired by this project or vice versa?

It’s funny how for me every recent project informs the newest ones, often subconsciously. I find myself looking back to find inspiration or ideas, sometimes ideas that I didn’t use before or that weren’t as successful that I want to try again. In this case, the dancers happened first, so it was funny how I ended up getting this assignment shooting Nicki Minaj that employed a similar method of capturing her still while she moved to the music.

What type of creative direction did you get from the magazine?

We talked a lot about creative direction before the shoot happened. They had some ideas but also asked for my input and also for a mood board, which I was very excited about. The challenge was that all the previous cover stories shot for The Fader had been shot on location over two days, so they could fill 10-plus pages with a good variety of pictures. This was the first time, I think, that they had to shoot a subject that could only give them one day, in a studio, and four hours at that. So they called me! (Haha.) Since there was going to be a few wardrobe changes, what about using different colored backdrops to complement the different wardrobe, but then also using textiles as backdrops too — a bit inspired by the portraits of Seydou Keita —  to have greater variety. They really liked this idea, but this meant having some extra help with set design if we were to pull it off in four hours. I ended up hiring a producer (also because shooting someone the caliber of Nicki Minaj meant she came with quite a hefty rider, and I had no time or resources to deal with that myself), and he found an amazing set designer that was willing to collaborate with me. I flew to LA, and as soon as I landed, I found out that due to some miscommunication, Nicki was unable to shoot the day that had been scheduled. Oh well… I decided to meet with Lauren, the set designer, anyway, and sort out all the set logistics, including picking the textiles for the backdrops in downtown LA. For a moment there I thought this shoot was never going to happen, but thankfully, it got rescheduled.

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Categories: Business

That Video Thing Is Never Gonna Take Off…

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 12:01am

[by Pascal Depuhl]

Video is to stills, what digital was to film.

When digital was just getting started, I heard many photographers say: “I don’t need to learn another technology and besides, that digital thing is never gonna take off.” A few years later, I found myself saying the same thing about video in 2009. I had just read one of Gail Mooney’s (@mooneykelly) posts on why still photographers should consider shooting video and thought “… that video thing is never gonna take off.” If you have not seriously looked into video, please believe me – you owe it to yourself to do just that. I’m not saying you have to get into video production – I don’t believe photography is going to go away – but if you don’t make a decision about motion, the market is going to decide for you. Period. If you don’t think this can happen, ask any E6 lab owner, just sayin’.

Video changes minds.

Motion is a very powerful medium. Don’t believe me? Watch this 6 minute video and tell me, that at the end of the video you don’t want to buy this boat. My clients know that a well produced video will change their customers minds with good story telling. And video lets you show and tell great stories.

In my case, a few, short years after dismissing Gail’s post out of hand (sorry Gail – turns out you were right), I found myself on a snow covered runway filming my first documentary in Afghanistan. A video that the marketing officer for the European Union will later call “one of the best I’ve seen from any partner to date actually, both in terms of format and content – very well done!” Footage of this video will air on National Geographic and the BBC, it will be screened at a Film Festival, win national awards and it will put me on a TEDx stage, but I don’t know any of this is going to happen, while I’m kneeling in the snow that morning. Just goes to show you if I can do this, so can you.

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© Pascal Depuhl

 

Where do I see video going?

I believe motion is here to stay – not because our DSLRs can shoot video, but because with the advent of mobile devices like the iPad, video has gone mobile. People know that their device is capable of showing video, so they expect it on the websites they visit. That’s where we come in. Motion picture, TV ads, etc. all have established players, who have been doing this way longer than we have, so I’m not competing there. My market for video is in the 45 sec – 5 min web video, telling a story about a service or product.

Getting into video

Reality check: You don’t have to own the latest video equipment – one can go broke just keeping up with every new camera that comes out every 6 months – I can rent what I need. My go to camera is a Canon 5D Mk II and a GoPro. I bought a few tungsten lights for my light kit and I edit on my 5 year old Mac Book Pro laptop.

So, what are you going to do with video? If you haven’t dabbled in video yet, please do yourself a favor and try it. Don’t let all the gear, formats, codexes, standards, etc. overwhelm you.  Just take some time this holiday season to push the record button on your DSLR and play with it’s video function. Learn by making a few mistakes, get a feel for it–it’s way different than still photography–but as a photographer you’ve already mastered much of the visual vocabulary for video: lighting, composition, color, production…in fact I’d venture to say you’re heads and shoulders above many of the videographer’s out there. If you already are working with video, consider helping other photographers make the leap.

Pascal Depuhl has been creating commercial videos since mid-2011 and shot “On Wings of Hope” six months later. (He got some hard data from a university about how this film has changed minds and spoke about it at TEDx in The Art of Changing Minds.) He teaches a workshop series called Move2Motion, that’s designed for still photographers who see the need to get into video and has spoken at WordCamp Miami on “How to create a killer video for your blog!” Send him a tweet (@photosbydepuhl) and ask him anything you want to know about getting into video as a still photographer.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Pricing & Negotiating: Studio Portraits Of Spokesmen For Social Media

A Photo Editor's Blog - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 10:07am

by Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Portraits of two spokesmen previously featured in television commercials in various lifestyle scenarios

 Licensing: Web Collateral use of up to 13 images for 3 months

 Location: A studio in California

Shoot Days: Two

Photographer: Portraiture and lifestyle specialist

Agency: Mid-sized, based on the East Coast

Client: Large food company

Here is the estimate:

estimate_terms

Creative/Licensing: The agency had recently produced a series of television commercials introducing two spokesmen for the brand, and they were now interested in extending the concept into their social media marketing. Specifically, they wanted to promote a contest on the brand’s Facebook page, and they hoped to capture a series of images of the spokesmen in different environmental settings with various props. We initially discussed shooting the project in multiple locations, but the potential costs and necessary prep time required to take the shoot on the road warranted a shift in the creative scope. In the end they decided to do the shoot in a studio on a white background, and planned to retouch various background settings into the shots.

The agency planned to release about one image per week on the brand’s Facebook page over the course of three months. Rather than breaking up the licensing and integrating language limiting a one-week duration per image, we included use of up to 13 images on their page for the entire length of the 3 months. Taking the intended use and limited licensing duration into account, I decided to price each image at $700. I’ll typically reduce the cost of additional images, but I felt that each image was unique, and therefore each one carried the same amount of value. Also, in many cases when negotiating much more substantial usage, I feel that the value of the licensing can outweigh the photographer’s creative fee. However, in this case I felt that it was appropriate to also include an increase to the rate to account for the photographer’s time, so I included an additional $1,500/day. This “creative fee” is on the lower end of what we typically estimate for a creative fee per day, but I felt it was appropriate given the experience level of the photographer and the scope of the project. The licensing and creative fee I calculated added up to $12,100, and I decided to round down to an even $12,000 to simplify the proposal.

The agency asked for a price to license additional images as well as options to extend the licensing duration to include 6 months and one year. I felt $1,000/image was appropriate for additional images based on the prorated cost of the fee and the number of images already being conveyed. Additionally, I felt that doubling the licensing duration was worth 50% of the fee, and extending the duration to include one year was worth 100% of the fee.

After compiling a creative/licensing fee that I felt was appropriate, I checked to see what other pricing resources suggested. While Blinkbid and FotoQuote don’t offer a price specifically for social media use, they do suggest a price between $300-$750 per image for use on a client’s website for 3 months. Getty and Corbis both suggested a price of about $300 per image for use on multiple social media platforms for 3 months. As for the licensing duration options, Getty and Corbis added about 30%-40% to go from 3 months to 6 months, and about 80%-90% to go from 3 months to 1 year, and this was pretty similar to my calculations. FotoQuote suggested just about half of these rate increases (15% to go from 3 months to 6 months, and a 40% increase to go from 3 months to 1 year). Taking all of this into account as well as the upward pressure being placed on the photographer to create 13 completely unique images (as well as the size of the client), I felt that I was in a good starting place with the fee.

Photographer Pre-Light Day: Since the 13 scenarios would require a significant amount of time to set up (especially due to prop styling), we wanted to account for a prep day in the studio for everyone to get on the same page in order to hit the ground running on the first shoot day. Also, these concepts would actually require arranging and shooting in two different sets in the same studio throughout the day. One set would be staged and then broken down while the other set was being shot, and this process would continue over the course of two days with all 13 scenarios. This made the pre-light day even more valuable, and the photographer would have time to work with her team and plan how they’d move back and forth between each set and arrange the lighting setups the day prior to the shoot.

Assistants: We planned for the first and second assistants to attend the pre-light day, and we included additional days on the front and back ends of the shoot for the first assistant to pick up equipment and prepare for the shoot with the photographer. The first and second assistants would each lend a hand on their individual sets in the studio, while the third assistant would bounce back and forth between sets for additional support.

Digital Tech: We included the cost for a tech ($500/day) plus their workstation and equipment ($1,000/day) for each of the two shoot days. The photographer planned to set the tech up in an area between both sets, so they wouldn’t need to keep moving back and forth.

Producer and Production Assistants: The producer would help wrangle the crew and make arrangements for all of the logistics, and we planned on three prep/wrap days, one pre-light day and two shoot days. Given the scale of the shoot, we accounted for the producer to have two assistants on each shoot day to help manage each set and lend a helping hand for miscellaneous tasks throughout each day.

Hair/Makeup Stylist: With only two talent, we were confident that one hair/makeup stylist could prep them in the morning and monitor the talent throughout each shoot day.

Wardrobe and Prop Styling: The talent had a signature wardrobe look from the commercials that the client had been sticking to for the most part, but each scenario would still require a slight wardrobe change (mostly accessories) and a complete refresh in the way of props. We included two shopping days for the wardrobe stylist, and accounted for the fact that they’d attend the pre-light day and each shoot day prior to spending a day returning the wardrobe. We also included four assistant days for the wardrobe stylist to account for two days on set and two days helping out with procurement and returns. The prop styling would be more robust than the wardrobe styling, and we accounted for three shopping days for the prop stylist prior to the pre-light day, shoot days and return day. We also included two assistants for the prop stylist, both of which would attend the pre-light day, and one of which would also lend a hand with shopping and returning. At the time of estimating, the agency was still developing the exact scenarios they hoped to capture, but we figured on $600 per setup based on some of the ideas initially presented. Some scenarios would likely require less than this, but others would require more, and we felt this was an appropriate budget as a starting point.

Van Rental: In order to bring all of the props and wardrobe to the studio, we included the cost of a van rental for the week, including insurance and gas.

Studio Rental: We’d need the studio for three days to account for the pre-light day and both shoot days.

Equipment: Since the photographer would be working on two different sets, we needed to account for double the amount of equipment. We figured on $2,400/day for two sets ($1,200 each), and figured most rental houses would offer a “3 days same as a week” deal. While the shoot would be three days, we’d actually be picking up and returning the equipment before and after the shoot.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the time, equipment and costs for the initial edit, as well as the upload of the images to an FTP for the client to review and ultimately select the images they wanted to license. 

Selects Processed for Reproduction and Delivery by Hard Drive: While the agency would be compositing in the backgrounds, the photographer was still responsible for color correcting each image and processing the portraits, and we anticipated it would take about an hour per image to bring the quality level of the images to a place that would satisfy the agency. We also included the cost to purchase a hard drive and deliver it to the agency.

Catering: We anticipated that there would be about 20 people on set including the crew, talent and agency/client representatives each shoot day, and anticipated that $50 per person would cover light breakfast and lunch each day.

Miles, Parking, Meals, Production Books, Expendables, Misc.: This was to account for additional meals on the pre-light day ($300), the cost to professionally print/bind production books ($200), mileage/parking/misc. expenses on the shoot days and pre-light day, as well as shopping/return days for the stylists ($900), and miscellaneous expendables and expenses that might arise on the shoot days ($650).

Results: The photographer was awarded the job. Additionally, the client added on 3 more shots/scenarios, which justified a fee increase of $1,000 per shot. However, the shots didn’t require much in the way of additional props/wardrobe, so the expenses weren’t impacted.

Hindsight: It can be a bit tricky pricing various durations of social media use since so often the exposure of an image on Facebook seems to just last for a day or two (at least for images posted in the “photos” section of a Facebook page as opposed to the “cover” images at the top of the page). While it was great that we could limit the duration on these images, many agencies assume that social media use should be perpetual since the images live “forever” in follower’s feeds and in the “photos” section of the brand’s page. However, it’s most certainly possible for a client to pull down images from their Facebook page, and it can be regulated the same way as any other advertising or collateral use.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns.

Categories: Business

What’s Next in Video?

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 12:02am

[by Gail Mooney]

The digital revolution continues to change our media landscape. We have moved way beyond just getting a video to play online. As a culture we want to receive and share content on demand, wherever we are. Mobile devices are rapidly becoming our primary tools for communicating. What does this mean for still photographers?

Mixed media content is in demand in today’s marketplace. Video, sound, time-lapse, animated Gifs and still images all play their roles in fulfilling a company’s marketing and communication needs. As electronic platforms become our primary means for messaging and delivering content, photographers should take note: your clients’ media needs are expanding. They need more content to fill an array of outlets and portals.

Many still photographers have positioned themselves as “visual asset producers” and have set up their businesses to fulfill more of their clients’ visual needs. That doesn’t mean they do it all themselves, quite the contrary. They scale up (sometimes on an as needed basis) by collaborating with video and sound pros to provide all of their clients’ media needs for today’s marketplace, rather than sending them out the door to their competition.

Some video production companies are competing with still photographers by providing high quality frame grabs from 6K cameras to fill their clients’ still image needs. They are using still images as an upsell to provide an integrated visual solution of both video and stills. They’re also monetizing the stills by redirecting the money that would have been budgeted for still photography. But, there’s no reason a still photographer can’t model his or her business the same way and take on the role of producer to fulfill the video and other multimedia needs of their clients’ needs.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Define yourself by your visual style and the value you bring in the marketplace.
  • Create content that resonates and pitch your client on how they can multipurpose it for a variety of their needs: web videos, events, pre-roll for online ads – even wall art and still images from your frame grabs, if you are shooting 5K or bigger.
  • Keep your production values high – it will set you apart from the semi-pros and amateurs. Create storytelling content that is inspirational, as well as informational.
  • Build your own audience – many clients are looking for photographers who have large social media followings.

Gail Mooney is National Board Chair of ASMP. Find more video tips for still photographers in Gail’s book: The Craft and Commerce of Video and Motion.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Video 2.0

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 12:01am

From new and cheaper technologies to vastly changed client needs, a lot has changed since the first still-video hybrid cameras were released.  This week, our contributors focus on what’s happening in the world of motion and how they’re responding to new opportunities and demands.

 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

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