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This Week In Photography Books: Alejandro Cartagena

A Photo Editor's Blog - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 9:31am

by Jonathan Blaustein

I quoted Joseph Goebbels in my college-entrance-essay. It’s true. Of all the strange things I’ve told you about myself, I bet that one tops the list. Hard to believe I was accepted anywhere at all, dropping Nazis into my text.

If I remember correctly, I mentioned his theory that with respect to propaganda, if you’re going to lie, lie big. The larger the falsehood, the more likely people are to swallow it. Or so he said.

Little fibs will be sussed out by a suspicious public, but outright fantasies, they might swallow. I’m sure my good buddy Vlad Putin was paying attention, the way he blames his attempted takeover of Ukraine on the Ukrainians.

Stay classy, VP.

That’s one way to perpetrate your population: to make shit up. Another way, quite the opposite, is to stop talking entirely. To use the shade of secrecy as a way of enveloping the truth. It’s equally insidious, when utilized properly.

I bring this up, as I caught up with Alejandro Cartagena last weekend in Los Angeles. (Culver City, to be exact.) He was at the Kopeikin Gallery for a new solo show, and as I was in town, I dropped in to give him un abrazo and see how he was doing.

For those of you who don’t read my stuff with perfect regularity, Alejandro is a Mexican photographer based in Monterrey. I interviewed him two years ago, and he shared with all of us the harrowing reality of living in the middle of an active war zone. The kidnappings, the fear, the murders in public places.

How Awful.

Now, I’ve been to Mexico twice in those intervening years. My folks spend time in Playa del Carmen in the winters, and I’ve basically been tasked with delivering my children to their door. Gotta see the grandkids, que no? Tourist Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula, is literally a thousand miles from the drama that Alejandro was enduring.

Lately, at least since President Nieto was elected, I’d heard very little about the Mexican Drug War. Almost nothing. Their economy was booming, went the conventional wisdom, and Nieto has taken on some of established monopolies. Things are looking up, it has been implied.

And then, a few weeks, ago, that horrible story broke. The 43 young college students who protested. How they were kidnapped by the local police. Hoarded into buses. Delivered to the Cartels. Never to be seen again. (Goebbels would be proud.)

That is among the worst things I’ve ever heard. And their bodies are hidden so well that the truth will probably never come out. Locked away in a cave somewhere, shrinking from the clarity of light.

I mentioned this to Alejandro. How I’d been suckered into thinking Mexico was on the way up. How foolish I felt, hearing how bad things really were. How naive.

It was no accident, he told me. That was the plan. Nieto’s big idea was to stop talking about the Drug War. Entirely. Denial by omission. A coordinated PR campaign in lieu of a genuine solution to the misery.

That’s what he told me, at least. And he pointed out that despite the publicity generated by the missing students, it was not properly reported on, how many mass graves were discovered while searching for the boys. Multiple mass graves. Lots of them. Each filled with decomposing bodies.

Casualties of War.

Now, sometimes, you come to this column to read funny things. I get it. I keep it light when I can. I’m not trying to ruin your morning coffee, or your lunch break, or your quiet-time looking at your iPhone on the light-rail home.

Forgive me.

But sometimes, in my duties as a quasi-reporter, I learn things. Things I ought to share. Here.

Alejandro is on my mind not just because I saw him a few days ago, but also because when I came home, I found “Carpoolers” in the mail. Wrapped up tight like an X-mas present. (Yes, the Christmas season is practically upon us. And it was just summer. WTF?)

The book was published by Conaculta/Fonca, and is a special production indeed. I included a photo of the wrapping, which was sealed with a sticker that says “please carpool.” A few extras are included with the book, seemingly encouraging you to tag them, Shepard Fairey style, to make the point that carpool lanes get you to work faster. Or save the planet by limiting carbon emissions. (Or something like that.)

The book is well-built, with a photo cut into the hard-cover, and a royal blue spine that matches the denim-on-denim dude in that image. He sits beside construction supplies, a ladder, and a bunch of junk. (Foreshadowing.)

We showed a few of these pictures in the aforementioned interview, but the whole endeavor has grown up like corn stalks out of a secret grave. The book makes sense as an object, and is experiential, like most of the books I’ve been reviewing of late.

The premise is simple. Alejandro hung out on an expressway overpass, and photographed poor Mexican workers on their way to work. It’s meticulous, getting the compositions just right, and I’d bet anything there are thousands upon thousands of misfires. (Occupational hazard.)

The reason the book sings is that he’s been able to develop patterns. Several times, we see the same truck, which seems impossible. Which guy didn’t make it to work that day, and which is there each time?

Are they reading the paper one day, and zoning out the next? Does the garbage get cleaned out, or is someone sleeping on the very same dirty piece of torn foam? Honestly, how did he do it? Find the same trucks more than once?

I have no idea.

There is a piece of newspaper included, halfway through, and I was curious why. (Except for the boob shot inside, because, as we all know, Boobs Sell Books.℠) Sure enough, the next few pictures depict the guys reading the local tabloid rag. A way to pass the time.

They’re all guys, now that I think about it. A few times, they look up and smile. Which breaks the implicit barrier between subject and shooter. Once or twice, they spy him and scowl. More what I’d expect, given the discomfort of the situation.

One time, apparently, Alejandro rode in the back of a truck himself. To get the vibe. He made photographs with the camera pointed up, documenting the view, which often featured helicopters. Ferrying Monterrey’s wealthy elite? Or perhaps a cartel jefe?

Who knows?

But this is one book that will give you a peek into a world you couldn’t possibly know. And I was happy to see it, even if it distracted me from thinking about those 43 stolen boys. RIP.

Bottom Line: Thoughtful, well-constructed view down into pick-up trucks in Mexico

To Purchase “Carpoolers” Visit Photo-Eye
















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

The Only Way is Forward.

ASMP's Strictly Business - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 12:01am

[by Richard Kelly]

I have had numerous conversations with creative’s of all types contemplating when “things” (meaning business) are going to get back to normal.  I have been a part of these conversations for quite a while, and even started a few myself.  I’ve come to realize that the only way to the new normal is to move forward. No more looking back.

Throughout the past decade or so, there has been tremendous disruption in all media, especially for those who use images. That’s an old topic, though, so where is the big thinking moving forward? The business of being creative now includes being creative about business: identifying opportunities where others aren’t looking, anticipating needs companies don’t know they have and offering solutions when everyone else is talking about problems. It means spending less time being a photographer and more time being creative about being creative.

The challenge I see is what we do call this work? And, what will this work even consist of? Maybe it’s something other than a picture, a hard drive or a movie file. How do we charge for services that clients are not used to paying photographers for providing? Does this put photographers in competition with the very gatekeepers – like ad agencies and creative firms – that used to hire us?

One of the reasons I incorporated under a name other than my own is that I was starting to provide services that were not strictly photography. It seemed odd to be consulting on media strategy and then invoicing under Richard Kelly Photography.  I have found that in my client work I often bill more as a consultant than as a photographer.  The consulting may be related to the photography but I am selling something bigger than my camera and me.

This type of thinking is not just outside the box thinking.  It is more like smashing the box –literally. Looking at our value, how we sell it and how we cash it in this is a big idea that all creative’s have to consider.

Richard Kelly used to be a photographer based in Pittsburgh; he is currently much, much more than that. Follow him @richardkellypho on twitter and @richardkellyphoto on Instagram.


Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Art Producers Speak: Thomas Barwick

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:20am

We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.sease@verizon.net

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Thomas Barwick. He does beautiful corporate/lifestyle stock work, some of which is available on Getty.

We occasionally shoot street portraits.  It’s fascinating to interact with people for just a few minutes, with very little direction and see what happens.  Mother and daughter headed to surf after school.

We occasionally shoot street portraits. It’s fascinating to interact with people for just a few minutes, with very little direction and see what happens. Mother and daughter headed to surf after school.

One of my favorite shoots we’ve ever done.  Most of the time I walk away from a shoot frustrated with the things I missed or couldn’t make happen, not this shoot.

One of my favorite shoots we’ve ever done. Most of the time I walk away from a shoot frustrated with the things I missed or couldn’t make happen, not this shoot.

Just a nice engaged father/daughter moment.  I like the little moments in life that make you smile.

Just a nice engaged father/daughter moment. I like the little moments in life that make you smile.

Ridiculously hot day for Seattle, location was a four-story walk up and we had too much gear.

Ridiculously hot day for Seattle, location was a four-story walk up and we had too much gear.

One of my favorite couples to work with, in one of my favorite places, with a really fun vehicle.

One of my favorite couples to work with, in one of my favorite places, with a really fun vehicle.

A bigger shoot with lots of moving parts that was difficult to keep control of and keep moving fluidly.  We were exhausted when we walked away, but the results were better than we expected.

A bigger shoot with lots of moving parts that was difficult to keep control of and keep moving fluidly. We were exhausted when we walked away, but the results were better than we expected.

She was just awesome.

She was just awesome.

Family friends, awesome kids, great skaters and one really lucky moment.

Family friends, awesome kids, great skaters and one really lucky moment.

My favorite image from a mother/daughter shoot.  This was the third frame we shot that day, no directing, just real life.

My favorite image from a mother/daughter shoot. This was the third frame we shot that day, no directing, just real life.

A weekend getaway shoot with a group of friends, spectacular lake in the middle of nowhere with a floating platform we paddled into the middle of the lake.  My job is a lot easier when everyone is having fun.

A weekend getaway shoot with a group of friends, spectacular lake in the middle of nowhere with a floating platform we paddled into the middle of the lake. My job is a lot easier when everyone is having fun.

We are always trying to find fresh ways to shoot in categories that can be overly clichéd.  This guy was great and a business shoot I’m really fond of.

We are always trying to find fresh ways to shoot in categories that can be overly clichéd. This guy was great and a business shoot I’m really fond of.

This was part of a bigger shoot we were doing that day and we scheduled a little time early to try something a little different.  The weather was our friend, one of my favorite portraits.

This was part of a bigger shoot we were doing that day and we scheduled a little time early to try something a little different. The weather was our friend, one of my favorite portraits.

This day was absolutely miserable.  We tired to get one more “summer” shoot in at the end of September.  It rained all morning, the air temperature never got above 65 and the pool didn’t seem much warmer.  We had a couple families in the morning, but it was simply too unpleasant for the kids.  The afternoon was with some young adults; I was tired, cold and frustrated with not being able to make much happen to that point.  This group was amazing.  Thrilled to be there, always willing to give it one more try, great ideas on how to make it better.  They saved the day.

This day was absolutely miserable. We tired to get one more “summer” shoot in at the end of September. It rained all morning, the air temperature never got above 65 and the pool didn’t seem much warmer. We had a couple families in the morning, but it was simply too unpleasant for the kids. The afternoon was with some young adults; I was tired, cold and frustrated with not being able to make much happen to that point. This group was amazing. Thrilled to be there, always willing to give it one more try, great ideas on how to make it better. They saved the day.

Sometimes you need a middle aged white sales guy in a suit.  This guy was perfect, we didn’t need to direct.

Sometimes you need a middle aged white sales guy in a suit. This guy was perfect, we didn’t need to direct.

This was from a recent shoot on a local organic farm where we had done some work before.  We had set the shoot up early in the summer and we were going to see what we could get without a lot of expectations.  One of the wettest days I have ever shot in and it completely worked to our advantage.

This was from a recent shoot on a local organic farm where we had done some work before. We had set the shoot up early in the summer and we were going to see what we could get without a lot of expectations. One of the wettest days I have ever shot in and it completely worked to our advantage.

How many years have you been in business?
I started assisting 1990 and shooting full time in 1995.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I did a fair amount of commercial photography course work at Syracuse University, but I was a Liberal Arts student, so I have an English degree.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I spent what seemed like quite a bit of time in museums as a kid (parents choice, not mine). I didn’t have the patience to understand the nuances of a lot of the art, so I would like to walk around the galleries and see what would stop me, some of that visual training may have rubbed off.

I was a full time assistant for a photographer in the waning days of his advertising career. I got to watch him begin re-invent himself as a very successful stock shooter. I didn’t start shooting stock for many years after I left there, but I understood that it could be a viable way to be a photographer.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
We almost exclusively produce stock, so in order to make the business economically viable we need to create imagery that will stand out on a page with 100 other images on it. We have to continually push to create better and better imagery. I am also not much of a technical perfectionist, I don’t want to do something I did last week or last year, there is no sense in repeating something we’ve already done, so we have to continually look for a new way to work on a theme or an idea.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Fortunately, we get to work with a fantastic creative department at Getty Images and a brilliant Art Director. They continually challenge us to keep our work fresh. One of the best things about the way that we work is that the only real risk we have is cost of production. We own what we are doing, so can take chances with weather, locations, models and ideas. We will generally work with a loose idea and try to play off the real emotion that happens when we set a shoot in motion.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Not enough. Until recently, there were hardly any tools for us to direct link to our collection, or specific shoots at Getty. That has changed and over the next few months we will begin to take advantage of that

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
At the end of the day, I think anyone in a creative industry needs to feel creatively challenged with the work they do. There is always an awareness of what a buyer wants or needs, but you eventually need to find creative satisfaction and by doing that I think you tend to lead rather than chase.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
In effect, everything we shoot is for us. We don’t get paid to create imagery; we create it and hope that it will resonate with a buyer. So at the end of the day we have to be satisfied with what we have done creatively. We have to try to always evolve and elevate what we are doing.

How often are you shooting new work?
Over the course of the year we average between one and two shoots per week. May through October are extremely busy and November through March can be extremely frustrating.


Tom Barwick Bio
Photographer/Filmmaker Thomas Barwick has been with Getty Creative since 2002 and is based in Seattle.  After graduating from Syracuse University in English with what he calls “no marketable skills” he began assisting photographers to survive and fell in love with the business.   He spend the majority his time between working on stock exclusively for Getty Images, and doing the occasional editorial and advertising gig.  Known for his “polished realism”, Tom’s work has been licensed for national and worldwide campaigns such as Dell Computers, Crate And Barrel, Scotia Bank, CitiGroup, and Toyota to name a few.  His fascination with the fleeting and fickle genuine moments that tell a complete story makes his imagery uniquely stand out.



Collection at Getty

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.

Buying a new website?
APhotoFolio.com builds portfolio websites for photographers.
Have a look (here).

Categories: Business

An Honest Job

ASMP's Strictly Business - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 12:01am

[by Barry Schwartz]

A major perk of a creative career is the requirement to connect art with the world.

One of the most influential newspaper editors of twentieth century, Ben Bradlee, former editor of the Washington Post, died last week.   Bradlee was instrumental in turning the Post into one of the best papers in the country.  The Pentagon Papers were published on his watch, exposing (along with the New York Times) damaging facts about the Vietnam War forcefully hidden from the public, and the next year, he guided coverage of the Watergate scandal that over the next two years helped force Richard Nixon’s resignation from the Presidency.

Mark Felt, who died a few years ago, was, at his career peak, Associate Director of the FBI. Near the end of his life, he outed himself as “Deep Throat” — a pivotal source of information for the Post about the Watergate break-ins and the coverup that followed – all leading to the only resignation of a President of the United States.

Both men, one might assume, operated out of liberal ideology, promoting their views through their actions.

Not true.  Neither were ideologues.

David Remnick, the current editor of the New Yorker (who worked for Bradlee as a reporter) wrote in his New Yorker remembrance last week: “After a trip to Vietnam, in 1971, he ‘ended up feeling uncommitted politically as usual,’ he once said.  ‘By instinct and habit, I was more interested in the whatness of the war rather than in the rightness or wrongness,’”  This is exactly what you want from a principled, skilled journalist, slant or not.

Mark Felt, despite his central role in the Watergate scandal, did not in any way consider himself a liberal; rather, he saw himself as a public servant and his actions as a civic duty.  He saw the bigger picture.   Felt became so unhappy with the Nixon Administration’s determined and relentless undermining of the Constitution he was impelled to break away from a career’s worth of loyalty to help expose years of illegal and unconstitutional behavior.

What, you might legitimately ask, has any of this to do with having a creative career?

These men saw beyond themselves, their slice of the world, and their actions revealed a strength of character enabling them to cut through anxiety and doubt, come to a resolution, and act.

In other words, they did their job.

Competition from colleagues in the creative class is intense – always has been. There is only one path to remain sane. Stay focused.  Provide great product and service. Do good work. Stay engaged. Pay attention.

In Bradlee and Felt, there was no separation between their actions, their mission, and having a vision for the future. They were just doing an honest job.

Barry Schwartz is a photographer, writer, and designer in Los Angeles, who learned about sticking to it in his twenties the first time he hit his thumb with a framing hammer so hard he knew he’d lose the fingernail and understood he’d have to keep at it or find another way to make a living.  Which he did, but many years later, long after the nail grew back.   

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Edit: Steven Simko – Hollywood Stars Promo

A Photo Editor's Blog - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 9:46am

-3 -4 -5  -7 -8 -9 -10 -11 -12 -13Hollywood Stars

Steve Simko

What prompted to you start the body of work?
Much of the inspiration for the Hollywood project was derived from Richard Avedon’s “In the American West.” I wanted to capture that intimacy and authenticity that Avedon had in his subjects for that series. I was also late in the game to switch from film to digital (2008) and was curious to see if digital would provide me with the same B&W-type quality images I used to process in my darkroom. I was lucky enough to meet “Tex” at a Hollywood dive bar one night, and after two years of calls (he didn’t use email) he finally agreed to be the first subject in my series. Once I photographed him, I was able to use that image in persuading the other subjects in and around Hollywood to participate in the project.

How did you select the subjects?
Whether it’s a shirt pocket protector that I would see Sal wear without fail every time he visited my neighbor or Tex’s six plus-foot frame with a fiery red beard and a cowboy hat on Hollywood blvd – something about them stands out and is compelling to me, and I knew their unique aesthetic in real life would translate to a unique portrait. I wanted others to see how I saw them.

What are you interactions with them like?
Throughout the shoot, I’m asking tons of questions trying to find out the What, When, and Why that lead them to Hollywood. Every person has their own story, and I usually find that the subjects are more than happy to share them.

How do you convince them to “come to my studio”, isn’t that a bit creepy esp for the women?
Yes, convincing takes time and patience…lots of patience ! This is such a departure from my editorial work for Vogue, but I think the fact that I shoot for them provides some “legitimacy” and trust the subjects are looking for.

Do you personally know them, how long is the session?
Only a few, but I know some of them pretty well now. No more than 30 mins in the parking lot of my studio… all daylight.

Have you had people turn you down? 
Yes, many, but I just keep asking and asking. I still have about six on my list that I would love to photograph.

The copy is a nice touch, did you write it? Are you interviewing them on the spot?
I worked with a copy person at Agency Access, and the details are from the conversations I’ve had with my subjects during our shoots… I keep notes.

How many have you shot so far and do you have some that don’t make the final stage?
I’ve shot over fifty and the final cut was twenty nine.

Categories: Business

Local, National, International

ASMP's Strictly Business - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 12:01am

[by Thomas Werner]

We frequently, if not always, discuss image making in local or national terms. Yet over the past two years it has become apparent that access to multiple channels of international distribution, and a growing demand for socially engaged imagery, will substantively affect the careers of many photographers. As still photographs and motion flow through social, main stream, and new media to an increasingly international audience it will be imperative that image creators have a working knowledge of the culture and customs in countries in which their imagery is consumed. Creatives will need to understand not only local definitions of beauty, power, freedom, and commerce, among others, but also how these definitions function cross culturally. The inability to create imagery that operates locally on an international stage will inhibit a visual artists ability to earn a living, and the development of a successful career.

Equally important is the rise in demand for socially engaged imagery; photography, motion, and social media campaigns that take into consideration the social, cultural, and economic concerns of the countries in which they run. Many corporations and not for profits are looking for ways their campaigns can effect positive social change while also engaging in promotion or commerce. Successful image makers will not only be able to supply imagery for these campaigns, but also be savvy enough to help develop and implement them.

Over the past two years I have had the pleasure of working with UNESCO and the United Nations on a handful of educational projects. This work, combined with an increasingly international student body at Parsons, ongoing projects in Russia, and workshops with Chinese fashion executives, have only served to illustrate the need for the aforementioned. The world is shrinking rapidly, and many of our competitors are already looking for ways to deliver messages and media across diverse platforms in a global marketplace. To be successful we will need to do the same.

Thomas Werner; Educator, Curator, Consultant







Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Are You Indispensable?

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 12:02am

[By Michael Clark]

Every four years, I start working on a new five-year plan to help me make sense of the industry, consider my place in it and to help chart the path I need to take to achieve my goals. From my conversations with camera manufacturers, it is my understanding that they intend to build cameras that can replicate a scene as well as our eyes do and from what I can tell, they are not far off from that goal.

Hence, the question for most professional photographers, and the one I posed to myself in my latest five-year plan, is how do we survive if the whole world can produce good images? Please understand that I don’t mean to infer that excellent cameras make excellent photographers. We all know this is far from the truth, but we also know that “good images” are good enough these days for increasing majority of clients.

Over the last few years I have done some serious thinking on this subject. What I have come up with is that we as professionals have always had to be more than just great photographers. We need to create stand-out, top-quality images but we also have to be professional, easy to work with, excellent problem solvers, fun to be around, and we will have to expand our skill sets into areas that have a higher barrier to entry – like high-end video work. In this social media landscape, we will also need to build a following of people who are not in the photography industry, so that our clients have a built in “bonus” marketing stream just by hiring us. In the end, art buyers and art directors still need to rely on professionals who can come back with the “goods.”

Being a professional photographer has always been a service industry, and now more than ever, what type of service we provide and how well we are equipped to help solve our client’s problems is just as important, if not more so, than it has ever been. More than ever, we need to make ourselves an indispensable part of our client’s team. Perhaps this really is nothing new, succeeding as a pro photographer has always been about hard work, exceeding your client’s expectations and delivering jaw-dropping work. These days the industry is just more crowded than in years past, which means it is even harder to stand out from the crowd.

Our individual personalities now matter more than ever. Working as a pro photographer these days it feels more like a popularity contest than at any other time I can remember in the last eighteen years. Maybe it always was a popularity contest. I’d like to think that the best work rise to the top, but I don’t think that is the case. Those photographers who have excellent relationship skills, those who are very persuasive, and have the talent to create excellent images will be at the head of the class. Going forward, I can see a time where only a handful of the top photographers in each genre are able to make a full-time living and everyone else is scrambling for work or working part time to make the ends meet. With that in mind, the big question is “how do you make yourself indispensable?” I believe the answers lay in the paragraphs above, and working harder than your competition in every respect.

Michael Clark is an internationally published adventure photographer and author. If you are dying for more info check out his Newsletter, which is a quarterly magazine that goes out to over 6,000 photographers and clients. See more of Michael’s work at www.michaelclarkphoto.com.







Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Big Ideas

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 12:01am

Photo Plus Expo brings thousands of photographers together to share ideas, both big and small.  For those who can’t make it – or who want a little something extra – we’ve invited our contributors this week to share the big ideas they think photographers should be thinking about.  ~Judy Herrmann, Editor

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Repping Instagram Photographers – Tinker Street Mobile

A Photo Editor's Blog - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 10:08am
Paul Octavious for Mercedes

Paul Octavious for

by T. Brittain Stone

We’ve all heard about Instagrammers with huge followings that can bill $5000 a day for clients like Mercedes, Best Buy or the Israel Ministry of Tourism. And when you read interviews with said IGers, they are pretty gushy about “sharing their experiences” or “creating a visual diary” while doing some terrific product placement. And I for one think that’s great.

But what does that look like on the business end of these deals, and how does an agency manage the creative process of these campaigns? Below, artists rep Jesse Miller will give you a glimpse of this burgeoning (big) business. His agency Tinker Street is the first to have created a “mobile” division, and he now has built a behemoth roster of many of Instagram’s most followed talent.

And so perhaps one would imagine that the cozy community fabric is bound to become a cynical business with reps poaching talent, agencies demanding metrics for pricing out ROI, “like farming” and unfathomable copyright issues. But talking to Jesse, is well, rather uplifting, and the organic way that his business has developed is a testament to the fuzzy notion that friends can collaborate and be creatively successful.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 10.14.05 PM

T. Brittain Stone: How did you guys start the mobile division and when did it all happen?

Jesse Miller: I started Tinker street about 6 years ago, because I wanted to get back to my roots. I started as a filmmaker and an artist. Tinker Street was a way to get back to that creative center. It began as a small intimate collective of 6 friends, and it was just 6 folks who were doing photo art shows together and then bringing that whole vibe–which I saw the need for it in advertising. We did well with some youth culture work initially.

We expanded the main roster to be more inclusive of some of the things that I like and am interested in with healthcare and technology.

After a little while we noticed that brands were encroaching on the Instagram community, so it was pretty seamless for us, in the regards that our agency is all about friendship and good creative. Michael O’Neal {ed: 571243 followers} was such a big part of that community and so are some of the other folks on the main roster.

It’s that feeling of friendship and camaraderie, and also working together out in the field and supporting each other. Ultimately our goal is to provide across the board content, and have a bunch of people out there in the field.

TBS: I hate the word collective, but there is a little bit of that aspect.

JM: There is. But I like the word in the old sense of the collective like the Man Ray sort of collective… true artists’ collectives. It was inspired by that spirit and it’s always stuck [with me] along the way.

TBS: with a lot of technology thrown in.

JM: Yeah it’s a hybrid of art, ad collective.

TBS: You were always dialed into the ad world, so you had a lot of contacts there.

JM: Yeah, I’ve been doing it for a long time. (Corbis, Marge Casey, individual photogs). I started way back as a PA for film & tv commercials, while myself studying and making films, shooting stills, and doing street art—so starting my own agency was a to go full circle and get back to the creative that was dear to my heart and try to bring that vision to advertising.

One of the things we pride ourselves on and work really hard at is to make sure that there’s a balance. We’re doing big brands, but we’re also doing Save the Children, we work with UNICEF, [and] we’re doing a lot of music collaborations. A start up label and we love their music? Sure we’ll do it for cheap. I keep it balanced that way, and really push folks too to keep working on personal projects.

TBS: And someone’s getting paid at the end of the day

JM: I think that the brands pick up on that, when there’s good creative energy, they’re attracted to that. [If] that turns then making some money so you can put it back and you can take some time off to do some more personal projects? Yeah it’s great. With Instagram, we look at it like it’s another tool in our toolbox,

TBS: do you have competition now, people representing Instagrammers, possibly trying to poach people from you?

JM: Not so much, not what I’ve seen. From what I’ve been exposed to everybody’s really collaborative. Mobile Media Lab, they’re great. They bring projects to us.
We just worked with Laundry Service… and Niche. Everyone’s been really supportive of each other.

TBS: You have 50 “mobile” artists Is there advantage to scale for your business

JM: I think that in general, the core group, everyone on there knows each other so it like a really big family of friends. So it starts there. Secondly, its happens regionally. That’s the interesting thing about Instagram. The few things that maybe differ a little and harken back to the editorial days,[is that] assignments can be relatively sort of fast and quick, and regional. And then others are bigger projects and location is not such a big factor.

TBS: Like travel photography…

JM: The (Instagram) community really values travel photos, and when you see the level of engagement on the travel pictures alone… they a love good landscape, that’s for sure. I think that it was pretty natural for tourism board to gravitate there, and they were some of the first folks that we saw encroach on that space.


TBS: How do you refer to your Instagram group? Do you consider them artists, what’s the nomenclature?

JM: I just say photographers really, or artists. Photographers, yes, but a lot of them are working in different mediums. “Content Providers” feels a little technical and stiff, but that’s kinda what we are, and at the end of that day that’s what we’re going for. But we’re sort of “eclectic” content.

TBS: All this sounds much more organic and I was preparing a lot of questions that were a little more cynical… but it all sounds so pleasant..

JM: I’ve been at it for a long time, At this stage of my career, it’s about refinement and being with the people I want to be with, and enjoying life, because advertising can get really stiff as we all know.

TBS: How else do you onboard photographers. How do they approach you?

JM: It’s all of the above. People send me promos, I get a lot of emails from new photographers, both traditional and mobile. I see a lot of people who have seen us on Instagram. Or photographers who know the original roster. So it’s a mix and its pretty constant. We get a lot of taps. I really try to get back to everybody too even if I have to stay up to the crack of dawn.

TBS: Thats noble of you. Is Instagram for business gaining wide acceptance in terms of the agency world. Are they already aboard or still getting aboard?

JM: There is a swath, a range of people who are involved. There’s stand alone digital boutiques; there’s brands coming to us directly, and then there’s agencies getting involved. It really depends on the agency, because some of them have in house boutiques that are very savvy and know what they’re doing, and other ones are asking a lot of questions. It doesn’t matter who it is thats approaching us, the thing that recurs in a good campaign is really well thought out creative, a good solid creative brief… the ability to collaborate, to listen and ask good questions, and for us to do the same.

The Mercedes campaign (http://www.emergeinteractive.com/work/detail/cla-instagram-campaign) is a really good example of that. Razorfish in NY did an amazing job with that campaign. They prepared very well; it was very early on; it was a very new frontier and they asked a lot of good questions to the people who were in play in that community. It was a great collaboration.


Michael O'Neal Mercedes

Michael O’Neal

TBS: What do agencies consider when selecting a photographer. Do they value the followers most? How does that chemistry come about?

JM: For our group, the thing that we have to offer is that we are a group of friends and we are familiar. Looking back on the campaigns in the 9 month existence of that division, a good majority of the campaigns are multiple folks on the campaign. It lends itself very well to that community. They know each other, they’re following each other.

TBS: It’s like a road trip

JM: Right, because who wouldn’t want to go on a road trip with their friends? When we send 5 to 7 people out, they all know each other and hang out even when they’re not working.

TBS: So when you get a creative brief, you can assemble a little team….
JM: Yeah it does work that way, where they come to us with some rough creative choices, and a few other (Instagrammers), we’ll just shuffle it around where we know who fits best together and who knows each other.

TBS: it all sounds too good to be true.

JM: For me its highly enjoyable. At the end of the day, we feel super fortunate. It’s such an amazing time — this moment in history for advertising and for media — to be involved in this. It’s amazing to watch. For me personally too, to get the privilege to be a sort of conduit between traditional media where I spent a lot of time with old school way of doing things, and this new guard coming in with all the social and what these young kids are doing. Pretty amazing to be in the middle of it.

TBS:. Do you analyze metrics for your Instagrammers’ followings? Do your clients have numbers they’re trying to reach?

JM: People talk about that. We try not to get too involved in analytics, because at the end of the day the thing’s that is going to be consistent is good creative, smart creative, and something that has some depth to it. So that’s where we’re coming from.

TBS: How many on your mobile division are professional photographers?

JM: About half of our main (professional) roster is on Mobile. What’s very interesting that we’ve seen lately, is photographers who don’t necessarily have a high follower count on Instagram, have been getting hired for social media projects. So for example. Matthew Reamer shoots for Converse Rubber Tracks and SXSW, and a lot of what he’s doing is going to their social channels. So it doesn’t necessarily matter all the time when the projects come in whether somebody has a lot of followers or not.

We have a client right now who wants both. Based on the subject of the activity of what’s happening, they want somebody based on their expertise on that subject AND they want some high count followers. So it’s a combo. That guy who has the expertise is on the main roster. So you really see the old and new media, it’s really morphing. If we’re going out and shooting on a tandem broadcast shoot, me might have one person doing BTS video and another person shooting for Instagram. Some people just shooting for the client feed and some doing to post to their own feed so they can leverage their followers.

Its really become a hybrid of all kinds of platforms and resources. I really like it a lot. I like the idea of people collaborating that way instead of it just being strictly, oh this a film set, oh this is a tv set, this is a photo shoot cool. It brings a lot of different personalities together.

And I might refer ( a client) to the mobile roster and then send then to that person’s site, because a lot of the people who are exclusively on mobile are also shooting DSLR. So they’re crossing over to what traditional media people would be doing. I’m pitching them for traditional projects as well. In that sense it’s kind of one big agency.

It’s opening up more. But definitely the people on the main roster who don’t have large followings. They’re not as much getting social projects, unless its just content for the client’s feed.

TBS: That following has got to be a very powerful slice of your portfolio. I would think that advertisers would certainly want that. Can I ask about negotiating tactics?

JM: The interesting thing to know about the fee structure is that its structured very similarly to traditional media, in the sense that we factor in everything, the usage, and the usage terms, the scope of the project, the timeline, what the social media asks are, who the photographer is, and what level they’re at, scope of budget… All those factors contribute to the project, and we take it project by project.

TBS: How does the copyright part work on a campaign like Barbour by Finn Beales (http://tinker-street.com/barbour)?

Finn Beales Barbour Heroes

Finn Beales
Barbour Heroes

JM: Again its a lot like traditional media in that we’re licensing the images. As artists and photographers, and me being an artist originally, I’m always fighting for the photographers rights. So we really don’t do work for hire, well It’s a very rare occasion that we do work for hire. It’s all based on licensing.

TBS: Are there other agents building mobile divisions? Or just managing their rosters’ social feeds?

JM: It’s hard to say. I’m sure there’ll be more popping up as we move along. I think everything is swinging in the direction of digital and social. At the end of the day, like you know cycles in history, as much as everything changes, some things always stay the same, and the thing for us that will stay the same is good creative. Good thoughtful creative. That’s what we strive for.

TBS: Do you constantly have to worry about the next thing? What are the things you’re thinking about strategically down the road?

JM: Coming from filmmaking as a background for, me because I’m biased, I speak to video quite a bit because its think it gonna be future terrain. I really believe in video.

But the way that I see it, and the way I talk to my folks is that you should do what you like, because if you don’t like doing it, even if its valuable in a moment, because its trending, what does it matter if you’re not happy? And I also think that if you’re doing something you don’t like, you’re gonna be less attractive as a person, just the energy you put out. We’ll always keep finding different ways to create cool work and do it with our friends and try and do it gracefully. I think theres a lot of possibility with advertising for the future to be less competitive and more collaborative. And for people who are in power in the new platforms to really create a new environment where it can be about collaboration and good creative. At its best, advertising can be amazing.

TBS: Pet theory. Photography itself no longer just a specialized skill, it’s a life skill, that anyone, especially anyone in creative, you need this skill set. You should study photography, take a photo class.

JM: I think you’ve hit on something thats really interesting because if we look to the younger generation, everybody is so computer literate and device literate. Its the development of a new generation. And always there will be these generation gaps. And the people younger than us, they’re learning so much so quickly. So I think in that part of their world, these devices are a big part of it. I think you’re right; picture taking is becoming a very mainstream way of communicating, in general. Not just or ad work. It’s even for little kids.

Its a total new generation, and it all life changes, and obviously advertising follows life and vice versa.

TBS: You need to be able to take good pictures.

JM: We strive to be kinder and gentler. There is definitely a foundation here that has to do with what I learned at traditional agencies, so that’s true. for me change and growth are paramount to keeping things real. And to become fuller people. We want to continue to be involved in innovation and hopefully we’ll do it gracefully.

Paul Octavious for iheartradio

Paul Octavious for iheartradio

Emily Blincoe for Warby Parker

Emily Blincoe for Warby Parker

Withhearts for Warby Parker

Withhearts for Warby Parker

Lucio Bracamontes for Burger King

Lucio Bracamontes for Burger King

Daniel Seung Lee for Burger King

Daniel Seung Lee for Burger King

Paul Octavious for Hermes

Paul Octavious for Hermes

Finn Beales for Barbour

Finn Beales for Barbour

Michael O’Neal for Vogue

Michael O’Neal for Vogue

Michael O’Neal for Mercedes

Michael O’Neal for Mercedes

Categories: Business

ASMP Hits the Big Apple!

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 12:01am

This week, ASMP will be joining thousands of photographers at Photo Plus Expo, the premier trade event for still and motion photographers.  We hope you’ll join us there and take advantage of these great opportunities to connect with ASMP.

Not a member?  Click here to join and enjoy these great member only offers:

ASMP’s Annual Member Meeting
Wednesday, 10/29 from 3:30 – 5:00 pm
Jacob Javits Center, Room 1E13

ASMP members will get updates from ASMP National Board Chair Gail Mooney and Executive Director Eugene Mopsik, meet incoming Executive Director Tom Kennedy and hear from Fearless Genius creator Doug Menuez about book publishing and platform building.

PPE Test Drive
Wednesday, 10/29 from 5:00 – 8:00 pm
Jacob Javits Center

ASMP members get free access to the Photo Plus Test Drive press event, which features Scott Kelby moderating a discussion on How Technology is Leading the Storytelling Revolution with panelists Adobe’s Terry White, Mylio’s David Vaskevitch, Time Magazine’s Paul Moakley and Photographer Jeremy Cowart plus new product previews and networking opportunities.

Consultations & Portfolio Reviews
Thursday, 10/30 – Saturday 11/1
ASMP booth (#873) on Expo Floor

ASMP members can sign up for a free 20 minute consultation or portfolio review from industry experts, Karen D’Silva*, Elaine Totten Davis, Judy Herrmann, Jennifer Kilberg*, Lynn Kyle*, Andrea Maurio*, Gail Mooney, Angee Murray* or Jennifer Perlmutter*.  Limit one per member - click here for details and to sign up.
*Courtesy of Agency Access

Visit ASMP, PLUS & the U.S. Copyright Office
Jacob Javits Center, Expo Floor

ASMP staff and volunteers will be on hand at Booth #873.  Representatives from the U.S. Copyright office and the Picture Licensing Universal System (PLUS) will be available to answer your questions right behind us in Booths #974 and #972 respectively.

Don’t Miss these Important ASMP Sponsored Seminars:

  • Growing Your Business When Everyone Has a Camera
    Friday, October 30 • 2:00 – 4:00 pm
    To grow a successful photography business today, you need to be as creative in how you think about your business, your skills and your value as you are on set. In this insightful and energizing program, Judy Herrmann shares tips, tools, strategies and case studies to help you build an innovative business that can compete more effectively in established markets and attract new markets for your creative work.
  • Road to Seeing: Nurturing Your Creative Sensibility
    Saturday, November 1 • 10:15 am – 12:15 pm
    Developing your unique vision is key to differentiating your business and adding value to your services. Few understand what this means better than acclaimed photographer, Dan Winters. In this inspiring and informative seminar, Dan shares his insights into how to identify, refine and present your vision, get buy-in from clients and subjects, and get hired to produce your strongest work.

Save $150 On Your Full Conference Pass

ASMP members save $150 on a full conference pass, which gets you access to over 80 seminars, keynote presentations and the Expo floor.  Upgrade to a VIP Pass, which includes a Tamrac Messenger Swag Bag, tickets to PDN’s Monster Mash party and a chance to win one of 100+ Golden Ticket prizes for just $75 more. Note: these offers are valid for online registrations only and will not be available onsite. Click here to save $150.

Save 15% On The Official Portfolio Reviews at Photo Plus Expo

ASMP members get the best discount available on America’s premier review event for emerging and professional photographers. Organized by the Palm Springs Photo Festival in conjunction with Photo District News and The Photo Group, this event offers a fabulous opportunity to meet and present your work for critique, feedback and advice. At no other time can a photographer see such a cross-section of potential clients/representatives from both the commercial and fine art arenas in a three-day period. Click here to save 15%.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

This Week In Photography Books: Kris Vervaeke

A Photo Editor's Blog - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 10:10am

by Jonathan Blaustein

I took my daughter into pre-school on Friday morning. For once, I wasn’t late. What a relief.

One step down the industrial-carpeted hallway, and I was hit in the face with the smell of puke. Vomit. Throw-up. Call it what you will.

The odor was intense, like a kung fu stuntman awaiting a high-wire scene. My goodness, was it unpleasant. And, of course, a horrible omen.

Not. Good.

By nightfall, she was projectile vomiting, my daughter. Fever too, though mild. I was wiping sick off the concrete floors for almost an hour, all together.

Normally, this would not be such a big deal. Kids take ill all the time, and pre-schools are notorious germ factories. All parents know that.

But now is not a normal time. Ebola panic is everywhere, and I’m getting on a plane on Wednesday. The moment she began to evacuate her stomach, the old-fashioned way, I had visions of myself retching into a barf bag, on a Southwest flight, while the pilot re-routed us to the nearest airport.

No joke.

Once a virus comes in the house, you’re really just waiting for it to get on with things. The waiting. It’s miserable. Compound that with fear of sparking a riot in the airport, as your fellow citizens rush away from you as quickly as their chubby, sweat-pants-wearing legs can carry them…

Like I said, not good.

Thankfully, if you can say such a thing at such a time, I got hit with the bug yesterday. Sunday. It was efficient, like Harvey Keitel’s cleaner in “Pulp Fiction.” No wasted effort. I started to feel bad in the late morning, was stuck in bed within the hour, had two quick puke sessions, and was asleep at my normal bedtime.

I woke up today, weakened, but otherwise OK. No appetite, true, but no fever. To be clear, I am not suggesting I have Ebola. Just the opposite. But it’s insane that we’re living in a world where a simple stomach bug can set off that kind of fear.

Fear of death. Fear of misery. Fear of leaving this world, to be forgotten. Forever.

(Sorry. Didn’t mean to freak you out. We’re all going to be OK.)

But it did get me thinking about all those nameless people dying in West Africa. They don’t stand a chance, those guys. You eat a piece of bushmeat, and the next thing you know, your eyes are bleeding and you go to the local shaman for help? Are we really living in 2014?

Sometimes, I wonder.

We all die, and then they have to put us somewhere. A cemetery, most likely. But who even knows who goes where, once your immediate family submits to the ravages of time. I once photographed a gravestone from 1776 that was smack dab in the middle of a suburban front yard in Jersey. (You never know how things will end up, centuries hence.)

But I wasn’t thinking those things as I perused “Ad Infinitum,” a new book put out by Kris Vervaeke. In fact, the only thing I was thinking was, “What the fuck is going on here?” (And “Thank god my son’s asthma attack, ten minutes ago, because he inhaled a bunch of garage dust swept up by the plumber, at his grandma’s house, wasn’t serious.)

On first viewing, this book was perfectly obscure. Page upon page of pictures of Chinese-looking people, faded away. Creepy business. Were the portraits bleached? Photoshop? Who are they? Why are there so many of them? (Insert random billion chinese-people joke here.)

No. Seriously. There was no text. No titles. Nothing.

For once, I’ll admit I skipped and flipped. Because there were so many of them. The monotony. All those portraits. (Ad infinitum.)

I couldn’t find anything at all. I turned it upside down. I flipped from the back. What?

Finally, I noticed that the page numbers were interrupted. They ran up, and then started over again. A clue?

I sourced out the point of interruption, and found a one page statement that explained what was going on. Honestly, I was a
shade disappointed. Sure, it was good to hear the backstory. Clarifying.

These are portraits from headstones in a cemetery in Hong Kong. They have been separated from their owners’ names, out of respect, but also to create the sense of disorientation that hit me so squarely. They are faded, and destroyed, because they have been subject to the elements. Worn down by the undefeated prize fighter extraordinaire: Time.

I was only-a-little-sad to learn the truth, simply because I thought I was looking at the first book I’ve seen yet that had the guts to tell nothing at all. No hints. Which would have eventually pissed me off, and maybe I wouldn’t have reviewed the book? Tough call.

But this one has a haunting quality to it that seemed perfect in the run-up to Halloween. And ideal for me to dive into on a sick day, home, watching pointless movies on cable. Waiting to get better, so that I can just be some anonymous dude at the airport on Wednesday. Arousing no suspicion at all.

Bottom Line: Creepy and obscure portraits from a Hong Kong cemetery

To Purchase “Ad Infinitum” Visit Photo-Eye

















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

Giving Good Blog

ASMP's Strictly Business - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 12:01am

[by Kat Dalager]

Okay, I’m going to name names: Chris Buck gives great blog.

His posts are witty and fun and they make me want to read the whole thing. His stories are interesting and his photos help tell the story. Sure, not everyone will be able to blog about a shoot with comedian Steve Martin, but the basics should be the same even if it’s a shoot with Mr. Corporate Executive.

  1. Don’t try to sell. Blogs should be about human interest stories. People are voyeurs by nature so they enjoy a glimpse into someone else’s world.
  2. Keep it brief. You’ve got me for about 30-60 seconds – and I’m a fast reader/viewer.
  3. Shoot behind the scenes whenever possible, either video or stills. Make sure you have the client’s permission to post the imagery beforehand.
  4. Photos and video, yes, but what’s the story? If you don’t write or tell the story well, enlist/hire/beg someone else to write or shoot it for you.
  5. Have a point of view, but a rule of thumb is to be cautious in approaching any topic that might start an argument at the dinner table with your in-laws – unless you are prepared for the backlash. You risk alienating potential clients if you take a strong point of view on a controversial topic.
  6. Your blog should reflect your personality. They’re just one more facet to showing potential clients how you see the world (see #4 above).

Kat Dalager has been an Art Producer and voyeur for companies such as Life Time Fitness, Campbell Mithun, Target, Carmichael Lynch and The Martin Agency.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Art of the Personal Project: Grace Chon

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 10:03am

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: Grace Chon








Zoey and Jasper



Zoey and Jasper

Full disclosure Grace is one of my clients.

How long have you been shooting?
I’ve been photographing animals since early 2008.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I am self taught but have a background as an advertising agency art director. I think that training definitely developed my visual and design sensibilities, and once I picked up photography it was a matter of learning the technical aspects of it.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
My baby! It’s funny because I really don’t have any interest in photographing kids or babies at all, but my own child was definitely my sole inspiration. As a new mom, the days can get long and repetitive sometimes. I started the series to have a fun activity for Jasper and I to enjoy during the day, and would edit the images during his nap time.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I began the series in January 2014 and started sharing them immediately on my personal Facebook page and on Instagram. I started getting interest from bloggers that wanted to write about the series but I didn’t know if I wanted to release it to a larger audience. By April I decided to promote the series a little bit and gave the go ahead to bloggers and the series took off online.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
This is probably the first personal project I really devoted some time to, mostly because it all took place in my home and was really easy for me to execute. I kept shooting them for myself before the series got exposure because I enjoyed the challenge of it – styling the images, editing the images, choosing the concept, and of course the challenge of shooting a baby and a dog! I imagine I would still be shooting the images even if they hadn’t received any exposure because it was working for me – I enjoy the process and the results.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
My usual work is portraiture or very lifestyle and shot in environment, so shooting this series has been really refreshing for me. I love that the Zoey and Jasper series looks vastly different than what I usually do and I love the simplicity and minimalism of it. But it still retains elements of what I always do – there’s a lot o color, and they are emotive portraits. I love capturing all the different smiles Jasper can make, and while Zoey looks the same in almost every shot there are small subtleties there that I love getting from her.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I started out sharing the images on Facebook and Instagram, and eventually made a Tumblr page dedicated to the series. Once the images started going viral they made their way over to Reddit.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
The images went viral in mid-April and were written about online and in print in the US as well as internationally.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I made print promos specifically for the Zoey and Jasper series and sent them out to potential clients. Hopefully someone somewhere saved one!

Grace Chon is a commercial photographer specializing in animals, lifestyle images, and celebrities with their pets. Utilizing her background as a former advertising agency art director, she creates modern and emotive portraits of people and animals.

When she’s not writing about herself in the third person, Grace likes to go hiking with her dogs, meditate, and grow organic heirloom tomatoes. She makes a mean guacamole (want to challenge her to a guac-off?) and really hates Comic Sans.

In her spare time, Grace photographs homeless dogs looking for their forever homes and donates her photography services every year to multiple dog rescue groups in Los Angeles. She lives in LA with her husband, baby boy, and their beloved rescue dogs, Maeby Fünke and Zoey.

Artist Statement:
Everyone knows dogs and babies make adorable photo subjects. As a first time mom and photographer, I had 2 of the most adorable models at my disposal and the Zoey and Jasper series was born. It has been my goal to create photographs that stayed away from the cloyingly sweet and cliché imagery you might expect when you think of dogs and kids. I love good design, color, and the unexpected. And most important of all, I love humor! I wanted to capture all of that and document the silly relationship between a rescue girl and her little boy.

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.

Catch Suzanne presenting with Kat Dalager for Market Right 2014 in NYC on Wednesday, October 29th http://yodelist.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/were-proud-to-announce-market-right-2014

Categories: Business

No More Noise

ASMP's Strictly Business - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 12:01am

[by Paul Oemig]

About a year ago, the rather adamant designer Mike Monteiro blogged about an experience after talking to a Quaker near his home in Philadelphia. Not being religious himself, he inquired about how their religious services were conducted. The Quaker told him that during their religious gatherings they simply meet and sit together in silence. No one speaks until they feel moved to. Or as was put in Mike’s post, “They only open their mouths if it improves on the silence.”

Today the web is anything but silent. People are always speaking somewhere, with millions and millions of blogs and the like being updated every moment. It has increasingly become a cacophony of noise, and the experience of trying to make yourself heard to those around you is similar to trying to have a conversation during a concert.

Blogging more and more today feels the same way. So before embarking on a blog ask yourself if those posts will “improve on the silence.” If they do, in time you might find yourself playing music on stage.

 Paul Oemig is a Milwaukee-based photographer who goes to plenty of concerts and sometimes gets on stage. He welcomes your perspective at paul@pauloemig.com and @pauloemig.


Categories: Business, Photo Industry


Debra Weiss - Creative Consultant - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 11:46pm


I am really pleased to announce that I am in the process of turning this program into a book project and it will be one in a collection of books based upon my seminars. HOW TO BE YOUR OWN BEST REP will be the first in this series. This will be a comprehensive guide on how to best present yourself and your work. A select group of chapters will be available for individual download purchase. If you’d like to be on my mailing list, please contact me at HOW TO.

Too many photographers, too few reps. What’s a photographer to do?

With or without representation, it’s still your career to manage and control. Many photographers believe that in order to be successful they must have representation. But the landscape is rapidly changing courtesy of the internet and social media. While a good agent can help make a difference, there are no guarantees.

Photographers Stewart Cohen and Glen Wexler, along with Andrea Kaye (VP, Art Production Manager, McCann) will be joining me for a blunt and insightful conversation at Photo Expo on Thursday, October 30th to discuss how to navigate your way through the seemingly daunting task of handling your photography business.

Topics discussed will include: The cost of having an agent, Expectations, How to get meetings, Marketing strategies that may actually work, Understanding negotiation and much more. You will be informed, entertained and will leave wanting more!

This program is geared toward any photographer at any level who wants to have a better grasp on how to run a more effective and efficient business.

For information about Photo Expo and registration, visit HERE






The Sphere of the Blog

ASMP's Strictly Business - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 12:01am

[by John Welsh]

Yeah, well, I never liked the word Blog. It’s clumsy. I think of Blah and Ugh and other reflections of ugly. And having heard “just read my blog” a few thousand times makes my eyes bleed at the thought of another rambling about a topic surely mundane.

Enter the writer and journalist, they have at least taken some of the sting away from language butchery. And there is the occasional Ordinary Citizen With Talent. They make me hate the word blog just a bit less. So where do all of the visual people fit in? I mean, in the old days, and with the only-speaking-for-me-opinion (how’s that for butchery?), I’ll say photographers shouldn’t have written captions for their own photos. They really were that bad.

Hello 2014. We are no longer mere image creators. Really. We are expected to be literate in many aspects and being professional requires it. And I know it’s been spouted lots of times, that we are communicators and story tellers and we need to live that way – it’s all true. So can photographers compete with the masses who fight for a slice of your ever decreasing attention span?

Yes, they can. How? Read good writing. Read what energizes you. Shoot what’s important to you, then read what’s important to you. Become all hipster-like, shoot some artsy beer can photos…then write a brilliant artist statement for your exhibit. Then the hard work begins. Promote it, talk about it, get it out there. Just write. And enjoy it when you suffer paralysis of the mind at 6am after an all-night video editing session (just like I’m suffering now, as I attempt to scratch this post out). Work hard. And then keep doing this, for years. Somewhere along the way I bet you’ll learn some things and prove The Opinionated wrong. We are more than people with cameras. Good night.

John Welsh is the current ASMP chapter president in Philadelphia and now that he’s half way done filming All Things Coal, he’s busy wracking the brain, juggling many things and wearing many hats in an attempt to hopefully tell a really good story.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Edit – Time Magazine: Spencer Lowell

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 10:35am

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Creative Director: D.W. Pine

Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise: Kira Pollack

Deputy Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise: Paul Moakley

Photographer: Spencer Lowell

Heidi: How did the cover concept develop, and why did the initial story become minimized?
Paul Moakley from Time called me at home in LA on the morning of August 7th and asked if I was interested in going to Atlanta that night and shooting a story on Ebola. At that time, the first two American patients had just been transported from West Africa to an infectious disease isolation unit at Emory Hospital in Atlanta.

The story was about America’s readiness to deal with an infectious disease as vicious as Ebola. I was assigned to photograph the facilities and staff at Emory Hospital and at the CDC. The subjects included the doctors and nurses treating the infected patients, as well as the Director of the CDC, Dr Tom Frieden. In addition, I photographed the CDC Emergency Operations Center and a staff member in the protective suiting needed to treat Ebola infected patients at hospitals.

After 3 days of shooting, the story was slated as the cover. Then on August 11th, two days before the issue was to go to print, Robin Williams died and his story took the cover and most of the issue, rightfully so.

Fast forward to September 30th, I get a notification on my phone that the first case of Ebola had been diagnosed in the US. I immediately emailed Paul Moakley a link to the article. We had worked closely together on the initial story so I thought of sharing the news with him first even though I was fairly certain he’d already seen it. He responded quickly saying that they were just talking about me and asked if I had any cover ideas that could be executed by the next day at 1:00 pm EST when they were to go to print(10:00 am PST for me).

Tell us about the time line.
That  email I mentioned was received at 2:38 pm PST so that gave me 19 hours and 22 minutes to conceptualize, pre-produce, shoot, edit and retouch. The following timeline (PST) is how things unfolded:

2:38 pm: Started researching.

2:59 pm: Emailed Paul my first idea, which was a super tight portrait of a cowboy wearing an antiviral face mask. The concept was that the cowboy symbolizes America and strength, which I thought would make for a strong contrast with the face mask, which symbolizes caution and vulnerability.

3:57 pm: Emailed Paul two more ideas – 1. overhead shot of an empty hospital bed with a quarantine enclosure and 2. an image of someone in a hazmat suit.

3:58 pm: Started looking on casting sites for a cowboy and calling prop shops and costume houses to see about getting a hospital bed and/or a hazmat suit.

5:09 pm: Kira Pollack, Director of Photography at Time emails me saying that they are definitely going with an Ebola cover and they think my ideas are great. She wants to know if I think I can pull this off over night. I wasn’t sure but I told her I was definitely willing to try.

5:30 pm: Found a costume house with an authentic Hazmat suit from the movie Contagion but they closed in 30 minutes and they were 40 minutes away. They said they’d stay open later for a fee so I emailed Kira asking if I should pull the trigger.

5:41 pm: Kira called and we spoke about which shot would be the most realistic to execute in the next 14 hours and 19 minutes. We ruled out the hospital bed because it would be impossible to source the props. Kira wasn’t entirely sold on the cowboy so we decided to go for the hazmat suit.

5:50 pm: The costume shop withdrew their offer of staying late saying that there was no one there able to stay past 6:00. At that point I called a friend of a friend who is motion picture costumer and asked if there was any way I could find a hazmat suit that night. She said absolutely not. At that point I started looking at other options. I thought back to the protective suiting I shot at the CDC and started researching the personal protective equipment (PPE) being used by healthcare workers in West Africa. I found a page on the WHO website that listed PPE requirements specifically for treating patients with Ebola. After a few phone calls, I found out that all the articles I needed could be purchased at a local army surplus store opened until 9:00 pm, a hardware store opened until 10:00 pm and drug store opened 24 hours.

6:30 pm: Called Kira back to let her know the change of plans. I told her I was able to find a yellow Tyvek suite and a white one. We talked about background options and agreed that yellow on yellow could make for a powerful image with an undertone of caution/hazard and we agreed white on white would make for a good secondary option. After we got off the phone, I set out to to purchase all the parts of the costume from around town.

10:00 pm: Met my assistant at my house to load up lights and seamlesses (luckily I had a yellow one from a previous shoot).

11:00 pm: Got to my office to unload and set up.

12:06 am: Started shooting.

3:34 am: Finished shooting. For options, we shot yellow suit on yellow background, yellow suit on midnight blue background, white suit on midnight blue background and white suit on white background.

4:33 am: Sent my edit of the shoot to Kira, Paul and DW Pine, the Creative Director of Time.

6:34 am: DW emailed me his two cover selects to be retouched – the first yellow on yellow and the other white on white.

7:28 am: DW updated me that they were definitely going with the yellow and asked me to focus my retouching on that shot. He had also comped yellow patches over the edges of my seamless to use for a mock up which he and his team thought looked like walls so he asked if I could composite yellow walls into the final image, which I did.

8:32 am: Final retouched image delivered.

What prompted you to reach out to the magazine about the ebola case?
On the day of the first US Ebola diagnosis, I received a news alert on my phone. Because I had worked so closely with Paul Moakley on the original Ebola story, he was the first person I thought about when I read the news.

Where you surprised when they offered you the assignment?
More than anything, I was surprised that they were willing to let me try to pull the assignment off in such a short period of time. I didn’t think it was impossible but I wasn’t sure it was possible. The fact that they wanted me to try gave me the confidence to push myself. It’s amazes me that not only are they constantly operating at that level of production, but that they maintain such a high level of aesthetic aspirations in the process. It’s really a privilege to get to work with such wonderful people.

What was running through your mind when you fully understood the short timeline?
I didn’t have time to fully understand the short timeline. In pressurized situations, I thrive off of not being able to overthink things and making decisions as they arise. The lack of time really acts as a filter and helps prioritize.

With such little time where did you source the props, and I’d image accuracy was essential.
I referred to the personal protective equipment for Ebola treatment section on the WHO website for accuracy. I also referred to the images I had taken at the CDC of the staff member wearing the PPE for Ebola treatment. From there, I purchased the Tyvek suits, rubber boots and plastic apron from an army surplus store; face shield from a hardware store; and gloves and antiviral face mask from a drugstore.

Who was the model in the image, seeing that the shoot started at 11:30 pm?
The model in the image is my friend/assistant, Pat Martin. I’m grateful that he was willing to drive across town last minute, help me set everything up, and pose in the very warm and uncomfortable suits all night. Now he can say he’s been on the cover of Time Magazine.

-1 -2

( Some outtakes )

Did you sleep at all?
I didn’t sleep at all. In fact, I told my wife who is also a photographer, that I’d be on set with her for a shoot she had for the Hollywood Reporter starting two hours after I delivered the final image. So, I woke up at 6 am on September 30th and didn’t go to sleep until 9 pm on October 1st. Definitely one of the longer days I’ve had.

What was the most rewarding part of this shoot?
Usually I’ll have a few days to think about an assignment before I start shooting and then a few days to live with the images afterwards. In that time there is a lot of static between my ears while trying to figure out the best decisions to make. The most rewarding part of this shoot was compressing my process to the essentials and becoming very aware of that static which I can definitely live without.

This was also my first cover for Time, which has been a goal as long as I can remember so that in and of itself is rewarding.

Categories: Business

The Blog is Dead! Long Live the Blog!

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:01am

[by Pascal Depuhl]

Blog. Don’t blog.

To blog or not to blog, that is the question. Well not really, but more on that in a little bit. First a brief history: In the late 1990′s people began keeping online journals, called weblogs (those morphed into ‘we blog’ as a joke and blog stuck). Posts would include the date they were written, they had a title and would become a repository of a single author writing about a single topic. Readers could comment on these entries and follow a blog automatically via RSS (Real Simple Syndication).

Today’s blogs are totally different  from those old weblogs (ok, not really) and the technology behind today’s blogs is light years ahead of where it was, less than 20 years ago (no, actually it’s not).  Rick Tuttle, one of the early bloggers and veteran web developers (he’s also one of the organizers of WordCamp Miami, which is the top blogging conference), believes “not that blogging has changed, but the rest of the world has changed.” 17 years ago there was no Facebook, no Twitter and the only way people found you online was via search or by typing in a URL that they found printed on your business card. So today’s question is:

Should you blog or should you not?

According to Wikipedia in early 2014 “there were around 248 million blogs in existence worldwide.” That’s up sharply from the 156 million public blogs 3 years prior. And that’s not even mentioning the 271 million active Twitter users who write half a billion tweets (or micro blog posts) every day – according to Twitter.

Today’s blog is often a MAB – a multi author blog (like the one you’re reading right now), with bloggers being courted by brands to write about them. (I’ve been invited to free pre- movie screening, because I blog. I have a friend in Austria, who got a Mercedes SUV for free for a few months, because he’s a blogger. One of my college buddies runs a social media ad agency and is inundated with gifts, perks and offers from companies – because he is very active and visible on social media and the blogosphere.) So should you blog or shouldn’t you?

Don’t blog.

If you’re thinking about starting a blog, those numbers seem insurmountable, the competition unbeatable. Is there even anyone who is going to be interested in what you have to say? So, I’ll agree with our blogging expert Rick Tuttle, when he says “Don’t blog, just put a webpage up with a phone number and a picture of yourself. And that’s it.

Or Do.

Rick does allow for one exception to this rule (and by now you should know how I feel about impossible odds).  Wanna know what Rick says about when you should blog? Spend 4 1/2 minutes with this expert and find out …

Rick Tuttle on Blogging


Strictly Business (ASMP’s MAB) will be talking about blogging all week long. You’ll hear other perspectives and opinions on why blogging is something we all should be doing. Pascal Depuhl has been blogging since the beginning of 2008 and his blog”…catching the light!” will talk about blogging topics all week as well (from how to get started, to why to blog, how to get sponsors for your blog to how to pitch your content to the big blogs.)  Contact him on twitter @photosbydepuhl, if you’d like some help in tackling your blog ideas …

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Expert Advice: How To Invoice A Client

A Photo Editor's Blog - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:03am

By Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

I have to admit that one of the most satisfying parts of producing a shoot is when I compile an invoice and every dollar and cent is perfectly accounted for. That’s partially because it proves I did a great job and made sure the project stayed within budget, but it’s also satisfying because I have a habit of being overly organized. That mentality extends to invoices, and I wouldn’t think of sending a client a document that was in any way incomprehensible.

From a photographer’s perspective, I know compiling an invoice isn’t as satisfying as receiving payment or seeing your images on a billboard or in a magazine. However, a client will most definitely appreciate the neatly organized paperwork, and it’s these sorts of mannerisms that might just make them want to hire you again. There is of course no right or wrong way to compile an invoice … wait, strike that … what I mean to say is that there is no right or wrong format for an invoice, as long as it’s clear and easy to understand.

Since every project is different, the information included in the invoice and its presentation can dramatically scale up or down. Sometimes a client will require receipts for all of your expenses, but other times you might be working on a bid or for a flat project fee where you don’t need to show receipts for anything. The latter of the two of course makes for a simpler invoice. Sometimes you may also have receipts within receipts. For instance, it’s ideal to present receipts for all “meals” together, but your assistant might include a copy of a receipt for a coffee on their invoice to you along with an invoice for their time, which you then need to pass along to the agency. So, while each project will be billed on a case-by-case basis, you should simply do your best to organize everything appropriately, which might mean setting invoicing requirements for the subcontractors you hire. Also, always be sure to keep the original copies of your receipts for absolutely everything you buy for a shoot, whether you plan to charge your client for it or not.

The following is an example of an invoice that I feel is straightforward, clean and easy to comprehend:

The first page of the invoice acts as a summary of all fees and expenses, and also notes the advance payment received as well as the final balance due. All of the following pages are either invoices or scanned receipts to justify the expenses. When estimating the project before the shoot, you might consider including items such as “shoot processing for client review” and “selects processed for reproduction” as expenses rather than fees since you might ultimately outsource retouching, and because it helps to potentially increase the amount of an advance (if you’re only permitted to receive an advance on expenses). However, since we do not need to include a receipt or invoice to justify these items, I’ve included them in the “fees” section at the top. Organizing it this way makes it clear that the pages following the front of the invoice are to justify the expenses only.

You’ll see that each receipt/invoice used to justify the expenses is formatted differently (because they all come from different vendors) and it’s therefore important to add uniformity to make them easier to digest. That’s why on each page I use Adobe Acrobat Pro to add a title to the upper left hand corner, then circle the total and note the total again on the bottom right corner. The titles help to clarify which line item on the invoice the page corresponds to, and while adding the total at the bottom may seem redundant, it helps to summarize pages where there may be multiple receipts (like for meals).

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I also use Adobe Acrobat Pro to create PDFs of each invoice/receipt and to compile the final invoicing packet by merging all of the PDFs into one file. To create a page of receipts (for meals in this instance), I lay the receipts down on a flatbed scanner and set the preferences on my computer to automatically save a PDF. You might try to use your phone to take a picture of your receipts (or even take photos of your receipts with a DSLR), but the quality of the images you’ll receive from a flatbed scanner will be well worth the investment, and prices for scanners have dropped dramatically over the past few years.


Sometimes you might not be able to get a receipt for an expense (like a tip for a bellman or charges for mileage) but you’ll still want to be reimbursed. In these instances we use the petty cash log below to document these expenses.


As I mentioned previously, the scale of your production will determine the formatting and length of your invoice. For instance, an invoice I recently submitted for a large production had 30 pages dedicated to wardrobe styling alone. In cases like this, it may make sense to have cover pages for each section (to correspond to the line items on the invoice) rather than just adding section titles to each page.

No matter how you format an invoice, you just need to be organized and present everything in a manner that is easy to comprehend. If you take a few extra minutes to create a well-formatted invoice, you’ll save the time and energy you’ll otherwise spend going back and forth with your client to justify your fees and expenses. In the end, it should help you receive payment faster, and will make your client (and their accounting department) enjoy working with you.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating, producing or invoicing 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

Do Blogs Still Have a Place?

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 12:02am

[by Tom Kennedy]

Circa 2000-2005, blogs were the primary way individuals could reach an audience on the Internet. Many used blogging to express themselves, offer insights and opinions, or address niche interests not being discussed in mainstream media. To a large degree, the emergence of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media streams in the past decade has affected the landscape of blogging. Social streams offer “sound bites” or short posts containing many of the same elements as blogs, but executed in a more naturally conversational style.

With that said, I think blogs still represent an opportunity to display the fruits of one’s skills and experience, express a more extended viewpoint on issues of importance to the community and demonstrate one’s value as a community member.

Successful blogs have a consistency of “voice” that reflects the personality of the blogger in a way that is accessible to the audience. The blog topics themselves can also contribute to shaping the perception of the voice being expressed.

Deciding on the primary purpose is crucial. Is the blog meant to raise concerns, share information, raise questions, entertain, or offer inspiration? Answering that question should determine the content and approach. Increasingly, blogs are more visual, which makes sense for our profession.

Ideally, a blog not only expresses the personality and intentionality of the blogger, but also fosters social interaction that builds community. To do that effectively, the blog must contain “hooks” that enable the community to respond to what has been posted. Providing feedback loops and two-way communication to the natural community of interest is critical.

Social stream mechanisms can be effective for driving attention to a blog and enabling the community to find it. I look at Twitter and Facebook or Google+ as steering mechanisms that can help a natural audience navigate to the deeper content offered on blogs or websites.

Part of the struggle of maintaining a blog is arriving at a way to generate enough content with enough frequency that it is valuable to the audience (and its value to the author exceeds the time invested). Publishing rhythms can vary widely. It is helpful to think about rhythm as a variable influenced by the content itself, and the capacity to sustain publication as part of one’s work activity. Various publishing frequency rhythms can work as long as the audience can learn what to expect.

Finally, determining the role of the blog as an indicator of one’s professional value is also a decision point. I’ve come to believe that I can use social streams to express thoughts more quickly and I can stimulate a more interactive conversation than if I relied solely on a blog. I still think a blog has value for allowing more full expression of my thoughts and I use it as such. But I supplement that usage with other more instantaneous and fluid forms of communication that are less time-consuming to produce, but still allow me to contribute to the community.

Tom Kennedy is an independent consultant coaching and mentoring individual photographers, while also working with various organizations to train individuals and teams on multimedia story creation, production, publication and distribution strategies for digital platforms, and enhancing creativity. He also regularly teaches at Universities and multimedia conferences. He has created, directed, and edited visual journalism projects that have earned Pulitzer Prizes, as well as EMMY, Peabody, and Edward R. Murrow awards.  He can be reached at kennedymedia@gmail.com.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry