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Bending the Light

A Photo Editor's Blog - 6 hours 42 min ago

Rent Bending The Light on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/bendingthelight/125079271

Categories: Business

Can You Look Back to See Where You’re Going?

ASMP's Strictly Business - 17 hours 4 min ago

[by Charles Gupton]

Seldom does the arc of your career – or your life in general – ever follow the path that you thought it would when you planned it out.

It’s only when looking back at the journey that you can see a connection between the seemingly disparate dots — a pattern or a line that makes sense.

I began my career as a newspaper photographer. After just a few years, I started my own business shooting assignments for magazines, corporate communications, and advertising with the production of stock photos as a side venture to create some income to fill in the gaps between assigned work.

Eventually, stock photography became my full focus. But my work as a stock photographer hit a wall when my stock agency was sold and new submissions were rejected for a time while the agency reorganized. Our income plummeted and my wife and I decided to take a sabbatical from active shooting after the impact on the communications world after 9/11. During that time we started an organic farming business on a farm we’d purchased a couple of years before.

When I started back actively shooting in 2006, I decided to pursue personal portrait commissions based on the lifestyle approach I’d been known for in my commercial work. But within a few years, I found that the personal portrait field was being quickly eroded by the influx of “soccer moms” who were shooting personal photos at low prices with no training in the technical standards of the profession.

As I started the process of morphing into the motion field and all of the new skills I’d need to flourish in that discipline, I truly questioned whether I had the capacity to continue with the transformations I was putting myself through. I had several friends who had either quit the business altogether or had simply refused to adapt to the changing marketplace.

It was at that point that I looked back over my career and realized that I had a couple of important “through-lines” in my life. The most significant was that I love telling stories more than I care about what tools I’m using or where those stories are told.

During the time we produced stock photos, we devised narratives around the situations we created and produced images that fit that story. Even while we were farming, we marketed our products more through the stories we told than by our technical proficiency as farmers.

In addition to the motion projects that we continue to produce, I’ve started a podcast in which I interview creative leaders about their fears, obstacles, and processes for shipping their work. Again, the thread that connects all my work together is story.

Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a relative newcomer to the visual communications field, I encourage you to look at the thread of continuity that ties your work together rather than the devices that you use to produce it.

For too many years, I thought that cameras were the instruments that shaped my work as a storyteller, rather than the questions I asked and the vision I brought to the stories I was telling.

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. His newest venture, The Creator’s Journey podcast can be found through www.charlesgupton.com. You can email him at cg@charlesguptonphoto.com.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Edit – Ben Miller: Edward Magazine

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 8:40am

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EdwardMag.com

Photographer:Ben Miller

What niche do you see this publication fulfilling?
I had been toying with the idea of this magazine for a couple of years, and when my daughter was born last year, I knew I finally had to do something. Its really concerning that we put unrealistic beauty expectations on our young women through ridiculous levels of retouching and body warping, so I wanted to start a fashion magazine to help change that. EDWARD features all natural, un-retouched models in raw, beautiful editorials. It highlights amazing styles and gives our daughters something to aspire to that is actually obtainable.

All black and white and no retouching? tell us about that– what type of photographic statement are you trying to make.
The aesthetic is all centered around creating a publication that is true and aspirational. Simplicity. Something that blurs the line between art and commerce. Retouching has gotten so out of control that models in fashion magazines barely resemble people. Just google “liquify in photoshop”, and you can see what I mean. This publication will be the opposite of mainstream fashion magazines in every way. We plan to have advertising, but only as native, sponsored stories, so as not to detract from the overall feel of the piece.

How much harder are the photos to take now that you’re not retouching?
Its really not difficult to make a beautiful woman in stylish clothes look amazing on film. Choice of lighting, posing, hair, makeup, and clothing make all the difference. We didn’t have these photoshop tools decades ago, and our idea of realistic body image was much more realistic and healthy. Our contributors see it as a challenge, and I agree. If you cannot make beautiful art without creating it all in the computer, you are not a true artist in my mind.

So you retouching NONE of the images, correct?  
Correct. Only basic light adjustments like brightness and contrast are allowed. No skin retouching, cloning, or body warping of any kind are allowed.

How does the casting go down?
Casting is a collaborative process with our artists. The photographers produce the shoots, and we simply ask for sign-off on the major players before the shoot date arrives. We hate to intervene in the creative process, so we rarely change anything, unless it is something that really needs remedying.

Are you shooting the bulk of the images?
I plan to shoot one editorial per issue. We have dozens of photographers from around the world, along with amazing stylists, models, and other crew who are all contributing their time to this project.

What’s the business idea behind this and are you seeking any funding?
We are actively seeking investors and subscribers. We know this project can be very viable as an art book style quarterly or monthly publication. In addition to the publication itself, we are working on other products such as art prints that can help better compensate the artists we work with in the longer term.


What was the catalyst for this idea? I know you recently had a daughter, are you trying to send out the right messages to men and women?

Yes I have been disgusted with the state of retouching in commercial photography for a while now. Having a daughter last year finally made me want to do something about it. We need to be creating a world where people are happy about themselves and their bodies. And while I do think it is important to eat well, exercise, pay attention to ones appearance, it is impossible for people to live up to models that have been warped and manipulated into something unobtainable. Women in American culture unfortunately have more unrealistic expectations to live up to, so that is why EDWARD focuses on them.

Do you think as society ( most female beauty images )  we are prone to not believe photography any longer? Are you trying to give us hope?
I think that most intelligent people are well aware that mainstream imagery in magazines is far from truthful. But even if people know that intellectually, it is easy to forget when looking at an individual image. I am not trying to give anyone hope, I am simply trying to steer the industry in a more truthful direction.

How much longer does it take to finding the correct angles to mitigate the need for retouching?
A good photographer should be finding those angles already, so for me it was not much of an adaptation. I think the lighting, and paying close attention to hair and makeup is the most important part. Softer, moodier lighting tends to be come conducive to creating the right mood for EDWARD.

Why did you call it Edward?
EDWARD is my middle name. For me, it brings up the image of a proper British gentleman, reliant on logic and truth. He appreciates the finer things in life, and values honesty and character above all else. He loves women, and more importantly, respects them.

What’s the best way for people to reach out to you?
They should email us at hello@edwardmag.com

Categories: Business

To Improve Is To Change; To Be Perfect Is To Change Often.

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 12:01am

[by Pascal Depuhl]

I can’t count how many times I’ve changed in my photographic career, from an amateur to becoming an assistant, from assisting to working full-time running an in-house studio at a catalog house, from working for someone else to working for myself as a freelancer.

Change is always stressful, whether it entails learning how to shoot large format when all you know is medium format, or having to learn digital photography when all you know is film ,or choosing to learn video when all you know is still photography.

Change is good. Embracing change early, often gives you an advantage. Change is what makes our job interesting. Change prevents us from falling into a rut. Change is exciting.

If you hate the new, the unknown, the different: have a change of heart. Change your mind and don’t see change as a disruption, a drag on your time or an insurmountable obstacle. Take the opportunity of change and expand the services you offer to your clients.

Use change to get ahead of the pack. Take a chance on change and be willing to fail. Our industry is constantly innovating and it’s imperative for us to keep up with new developments in technology. Be willing to change course and although learning something new may slow you down, enjoy this change of pace.

The biggest change I’ve made in my career in recent years is expanding into motion. Yes the learning curve is steep, the competition is fierce, the workflow requires (often expensive) upgrades and producing video requires much more time, than a still photo shoot, but…

…today, video is responsible for over half of my revenue.
…video allows me to travel to some amazing places.
…video makes me more valuable to my clients.

Be willing to change. Actually strike that – actively seek out change. Getting in front of change is one of the best things you can do for your career as a photographer.

Winston Churchill said it best: “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

Pascal Depuhl loves change, but most of all he loves to create content, that changes minds. He’s given a TEDx talk called “The Art of changing minds.” Let him know in the comments, or on Twitter @photosbydepuhl, if you are the first to change, if you embrace change with everyone else or if you only change, when you are forced to change.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Promo: Joshua Scott

A Photo Editor's Blog - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 10:06am

Screen Wipes Promo 3

Screen Wipes Promo 4

Screen Wipes Promo 1

Eggs


Honey

Orange 2

Party Scene 1
Screen Wipes Promo 2

 

Joshua Scott


Who printed it?

The card was from Modern Postcard, www.modernpostcard.com and the screen wipes are from www.4allpromos.com.

Who designed it?

Yee Wong at 52kilo, www.52kilo.com

Who edited the images? Did it come with images?

I edited the images myself along with input from my agents Katie and Kristy at K2 Creative Management, www.k2creativemanagement.com

The screen wipes did not come with images. I shot all images.

How many did you make?

About 250. I think that was the minimum order allowed for the screen wipes.

How many times a year do you send out promos?

I try to send out physical promos about 4 times a year and intersperse an email promo between those mailings. So together I’m sending out about 8 pros a year. Depending on my available budget.

How did this idea develop?

This promo came out of my agent K2 Creative Management asking me to do a more involved unique physical promo piece. Before this I only ever send out postcards just because they are the most budget friendly. Sometimes the postage actually costs more than the printed card! Reluctantly I came up with a few ideas based on the end user receiving a product that they could actually use. That was important to me that the piece actually be a little useful.  Once we decided on what the physical item was going to be, the screen wipes, we came up with a few tag lines and I started to brainstorm image ideas that could relate to the product. This was the 1st time I actually shot images specifically for promo use. Before this I just used images I had shot for other jobs as just kind of an update of my work. I think actually shooting dedicated images for a promo concept really helped make this piece stand out and be a cohesive idea. Its good to have someone, my agent in this case,  pushing you to step it up.

Editor’s Note:
If you’d like to send promos for review I’d love to check them out:
21135 Colina Rd
Topagna CA
90290
Categories: Business

An Evolutionary Path to Photography

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 12:02am

[by Chris Winton-Stahle]

Eckhart Tolle once said, “In seeing who we are not, the reality of who we are will emerge by itself.” My decision to become a photographer and commercial artist wasn’t a lightbulb kind of moment, but more of an illuminated path I followed.

When I started my career, “my plan” looked very different from what it is now. I could never have imagined how complex this evolving industry would become these last 15 years. Like so many other young student photographers, my big dream was to one day shoot for National Geographic and travel the world! “How glamorous that would be,” I thought to myself as a freshman in college in 1999. Little did I know…

© Chris Winton-Stahle

© Chris Winton-Stahle

As I am writing this article, I am on a flight to Portland, Oregon for work. Traveling photographer? Check! I am with my wife of 9 years and our 2-year-old son who is sitting beside me playing with his toy cars and singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. The surprisingly pleasant, yet often complicated part of the “big plan to become a photographer.”

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” as so eloquently stated by John Lennon. As we move forward in the pursuit of our goals, we evolve and mature as people. New doors always open while others close and this is life’s natural cycle.

At some point not too long ago I came to the realization that my heart was with my family and that original dream I wanted to pursue 15+ years ago was not conducive to my new dreams. Though I started out pursuing a very traditional career as a photographer, the direction of my life has persuaded me to find ways to spend less time on location and traveling.

© Chris Winton-Stahle

© Chris Winton-Stahle

I am where I wanted to be in the beginning, but  it looks different from what I had imagined. I have developed a method of working that involves collecting background images wherever I’m traveling, photographing the majority of my subjects in a controlled studio space, and spending the majority of my time living out the “adventure” in a Photoshop creation. I incorporate traditional photography with my own stock imagery and CGI components I create in-house. It is a good business model for me.

My career has been a constant series of trials and errors that have allowed me to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I’ve failed a lot in my career. However, every time I’ve fallen I’ve picked myself up, learned from the experience and slightly revised my plan. Though the plan looked vastly different in the beginning than where I’ve ended up I’m still miraculously where I wanted to be, and still evolving each day!

© Chris Winton-Stahle

© Chris Winton-Stahle

For me, always keeping an open mind has been a key to success. Learning to let go of specific titles regarding the definition of my craft has opened doors to opportunities that I could have never imagined. Finding ways to create imagery that transcends the traditional definition of photography has allowed me to keep aspects of my original dream of being that traveling, nomadic soul, while remaining available to be with my family when I am needed.  I am learning to balance my family life with my career life in a way that keeps everyone happy while still allowing my career to grow.

There is no doubt that photography is a difficult field in which to make a living.  Any veteran of this craft will tell you the same. There are times when I feel frustrated and exhausted, but I always push forward. The truth is, my brain is not programmed to do anything else. I am an artist! Though it is never easy, it is always rewarding.

© Chris Winton-Stahle

© Chris Winton-Stahle

I try to look at the unique industry challenges as an adventure and a series of opportunities to grow stronger in my craft, wiser in my profession and more enlightened in spirit. I remind myself every day how very lucky I am to be able to do what I do. It is my calling and it is what makes me feel the most alive. I am confident that when I reach the end of my journey as a photographer and artist that I will look back and say, “WOW, Look at all the amazing places I’ve been, the wonderful people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made from all over the world, and look at all of the amazing images I’ve created that have, in some way, brought beauty to this world.”

Chris Winton-Stahle is an award-winning photographer and accomplished photo illustration artist who sees the camera as only half of his process in creating great imagery. Chris often pulls components from multiple images and CGI when creating his work for clients in advertising, magazines and entertainment.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

This Week In Photography Books: Yusuf Sevinçli

A Photo Editor's Blog - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 9:47am

by Jonathan Blaustein

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, while I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, as of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. ”Tis some midnight visitor,’ I muttered, ‘rapping at my chamber door. Only this, and nothing more.'”

Edgar Allen Poe, “The Raven,” as I remember it from 7th grade

You never know what will stick in your head. Some things stick that we’d rather not, like an image of James Foley getting his head hacked off. Other things hang around, and we savor them, like the aftertaste of some magical Ecuadoran chocolate.

In general, it’s good to be memorable, if you’re a photograph. It means there’s an element, embedded in your pixel or grain structure, that enables you to stand out from the literally endless crowd.

The numbers of pictures made each day, week, or year, are simply too large to process. They might as well be infinite, these jpegs, because I can’t imagine anything stemming the tide. Even in the end of the world, as imagined by Sci-Fi genius Neal Stephenson, the jpegs and .mov files withstand the apocalypse.

Given this reality, (tons of pictures, not the end of days,) it’s the job of a conscientious photographer to try to figure out the secret code to originality. It’s often said that developing a voice, or Point of View, can help differentiate oneself.

I’d say that’s true, but perhaps it’s easier said than done. In a world of 7 billion people, it can be a tad tricky to figure out what makes you different from everyone else. Even self-awareness is not the magic bullet it might have been back in the day, when the “Average American Male” was as cognizant of his emotions as a pile of railroad ties.

Then again, you, the audience, are not limited to America. That’s one of the very best things about the Internet. It brings us all together. British photographers know what’s on the wall in Los Angeles. Japanese book makers know what’s on the shelves in Roman stores.

It’s all out there.

Normally, we think this is a good thing, in that we keep abreast of our community. Sure. That’s true.

But it can also make it that much easier to ape someone’s style. To allow the creative creep to happen, in which you’re subtly absorbing information you might not even realize. Before you know it, you’re not exactly appropriating, but your pictures are less original than they might have otherwise been.

Which brings me back to “The Raven,” or at least, what I remember of its opening stanza. How do scary movies work? They use scary music, with lots of low-timbre, asynchronous drums, strings, and piano. The color palette revolves around some shade of Black.

The world that Edgar Allen Poe conjured, before cinema even existed, haunts us still. (Pun intended.) Scary movie tropes are there because they work. Lots of light, with shiny colors? Not scary. Skeletons emerging from black muck? Scary.

It’s the same thing with a certain style of photography. Black and White. Grainy. Low light. Blurry. Creepy. Discomfiting.

Having said those words, do any images come to mind? I bet they do. I reviewed Ken Schles’ book “Invisible City” a month or so ago, and it would fit the bill. But it was done back in the 80’s, and those pictures conjured a mood that by all accounts resonated with the New York City that actually existed.

“Good Dog,” a book in my photo-eye pile, by Yusuf Sevinçli, made in Istanbul, may represent that city just as well. I have no idea, as I’ve never been to Turkey. (Though I’ve heard it’s a lovely.)

The book, though, reminded me of so many others that I was not able to take it seriously. I apologize, as normally I lavish praise on the books I write about. This one certainly has redeeming qualities, and some of you may even want to buy it.
(I’m not suggesting it’s worthless.)

Rather, it’s devoid of creativity, despite its edginess. Last week, I deviated from my normal style, and wrote a critique directly to a young photographer. Having received a thank you note, I feel I hit the mark. And the comments were favorable too, though one person did suggest I was in attack mode because the pictures were so traditional.

Everyone knows I like edgy work, but what does that even mean? I’d suggest it refers to photographs that contain an element of tension and surprise. They throw the viewer off-guard, with unexpected choices. I enjoy sitting with such pictures.

“Good Dog,” therefore, does not match up with that description. The trope does, with it’s darkness, grain, big eyed kids, dangling Eggleston light bulb, flowers, panty-covered vagina, flies, dogs and birds. It’s supposed to be edgy. I get that.

But after seeing such things more times than I can count, I was bored of this book well before I finished. I even made a game of it, saying, “Wait for it. Wait for it.” until the boob shots showed up. They had to be there. It was inevitable.

Why?
Because Boobs Sell Books.℠

I’m sure Yusuf Sevinçli is a talented artist. He shows in galleries, and might well sell a lot of his work. I’m not suggesting he’s a hack. Surely, these are the types of photographs he enjoys making. (And with Ken Schles thanked in the end notes, he appears to have some well-placed supporters.)

However, I didn’t want you, the audience, to think I took a shot at Seth Hancock last week because of the style of work he likes to make. Rather, I sought a teachable moment, where I could speak to all the image-makers out there. In particular, because it’s a message I’ve heard directly from other colleagues at portfolio reviews.

Make the pictures you want to make. Do what gives you joy, or satisfaction, or scratches the incurable mental itches that cloud your sleep.

But when it comes to making a book, and putting things out there for the rest of us to see, don’t sell yourself short. There are many ways to tell the same stories. And tropes can even be broken. In fact, it’s the subtle tweaking of tradition that tends to create the deepest resonance.

Bottom Line: Weird, dark photos from Istanbul

To Purchase “Good Dog” Visit Photo-Eye

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Categories: Business

Eggs in a Basket

ASMP's Strictly Business - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 12:01am

[by Jenna Close]

When I first started my business, I had the specific goal of being the go-to expert for alternative energy photography. I wanted to make beautiful images of solar panels, wind farms, electric trucks, algae biofuel and the like. This idea arose from researching markets that I thought would survive the economic downturn of 2008, which is the year I began my professional career. In tandem with market research, I looked for industries that suffered from a dearth of good imagery. Alternative energy companies fit the bill perfectly.

For 3 years, 99% of my income came from producing still photography for this industry. I never managed to really break into the wind market, so my scope narrowed even further to a single focus on solar energy. This was all well and good until the boom turned to bust around 2011. Many of my solar clients were bought up by larger conglomerates or ceased to exist at all. I realized quickly that while having a niche was initially a good thing, I had taken a risk by putting all my eggs in one basket.

© Jenna Close.

© Jenna Close. Our early work focused almost exclusively on the solar energy sector.

Today the focus of my business has changed. My target market has broadened to “the world at work”, which includes many industrial companies not related to the solar industry. I now shoot mainly composite work that has a clean, hyper-real quality, and much of my marketing material is centered around my skills at making ordinary things look extraordinary. Video comprises roughly 40% of my income, whereas when I started I wasn’t thinking about motion at all.

© Jenna Close. © Jenna Close. Today, we’ve diversified our client base based on our distinctive visual style.

Career evolution can be a tricky thing, and times of transition can make for some lean years now and then. However, I find it exciting to head in new directions. I think the key is to evaluate where you want to go on a very deep level before making the move. When I look back at my first portfolio, I am surprised at how much I’ve grown and where I’ve ended up. Surprised, and pleased.

© Jenna Close.  New work from our Buck the Cubicle series.

© Jenna Close. New work from our Buck the Cubicle series.

Jenna Close is currently working on Buck the Cubicle, which is a self generated project designed to further her transition from alternative energy to the larger world at work.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Art Producers Speak: Eli Meir Kaplan

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 10:09am

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 Eli Meir Kaplan because we love his editorial style of shooting. And from a producers standpoint, he is so easy to work with, gets along great and totally connects with our art directors, clients love him, and he can make something out of nothing.

Curtis Pope, trumpeter for The Midnight Movers, photographed for my portrait series of DC soul musicians Soul51.

Curtis Pope, trumpeter for The Midnight Movers, photographed for my portrait series of DC soul musicians Soul51.

This was a composite I did inspired by a wooden sled I bought at an estate sale.

This was a composite I did inspired by a wooden sled I bought at an estate sale.

This was from a shoot from an internship for a small community newspaper several years ago. The local swim meets were pretty intense.

This was from a shoot from an internship for a small community newspaper several years ago. The local swim meets were pretty intense.

This was a nice, natural moment between mother and daughter I captured while on a shoot for Dwell.

This was a nice, natural moment between mother and daughter I captured while on a shoot for Dwell.

I built that airplane myself. It took me four days.

I built that airplane myself. It took me four days.

Miniature horses from a story about a miniature horse dentist for The Wall Street Journal.

Miniature horses from a story about a miniature horse dentist for The Wall Street Journal.

This high school football team went without a winning season for 10 years until their 9-2 season last year when I photographed this.

This high school football team went without a winning season for 10 years until their 9-2 season last year when I photographed this.

This ice cream shop didn't have a phone number so I just showed up and thankfully they let me photograph.

This ice cream shop didn’t have a phone number so I just showed up and thankfully they let me photograph.

I was in the Cub Scouts as a kid so it was fun to visit a Boy Scout camp to take some photos.

I was in the Cub Scouts as a kid so it was fun to visit a Boy Scout camp to take some photos.

Two great models to work with. One was in a Chapelle's Show sketch and the other was Tim McGraw's brother.

Two great models to work with. One was in a Chapelle’s Show sketch and the other was Tim McGraw’s brother.

How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been in business for six years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I studied photography at the International Center of Photography and the University of Texas at Austin. Of course I’ve grown a lot since then, but those courses and teachers like Donna DeCesare and Eli Reed helped me discover my vision and produce strong work.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I started out as a documentary photographer. I was blown away when I saw Bruce Davidson’s East 100th Street. Through different experiences in life I had been really drawn to meeting people who came from different backgrounds than myself. I was already interested in photography. When I stumbled on East 100th Street at The Strand in NYC, I was like “Wow, this is what I want to do.”

Then I took a documentary course with Andre Lambertson at the International Center of Photography and he gave me the courage to pursue this field.

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?
I think one of the best motivators for me has been going to portfolio reviews and getting feedback that helps me further refine the focus of my work. From those reviews I’ve seen what people respond to and what they don’t.

I talk to people, I read, I keep a long list of projects that I’d like to do, I look at a lot of photography, go to museums, and I shoot as much as I can.

I’ve also found that some of my best shoots have been situations that I was fairly uncomfortable in.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
If that happens, it’s extremely rare. I really love to collaborate and create images that are my interpretation of what an art director, creative director, or photo editor has described. That being said, not all work ends up going in my portfolio.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I meet in person often, I send eblasts and printed mailers, enter contests, I’m on Behance, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, portals, Wonderful Machine, and in Workbook. I also work on larger personal projects that I often try to circulate on blogs.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
It doesn’t work. I’ve certainly tried it and haven’t been successful. That being said, as a communicator, I’m making an attempt to create work that connects with my audience.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Yes, I do test shoots, photograph portraits and short projects, and I work on longer term projects. I’m currently photographing an ongoing portrait series of Washington, DC soul musicians, called Soul51.

How often are you shooting new work?
I shoot for myself as often as I can between client work. It usually ends up being a few times a month.

Eli Meir Kaplan is a commercial and editorial photographer in Washington, DC. He became interested in visual media when his parents brought home an early black and white video camera. Always passionate about storytelling and beautiful images, Eli found that his purpose as a photographer was to capture genuine and intimate moments from the human experience.

elimeirkaplan.com
(202) 600-9372
eli@elimeirkaplan.com

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

Always be Reinventing

ASMP's Strictly Business - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 12:01am

[by Richard Kelly]

Plotting my career in the early 80’s I never imagined my career today.  Photography industry insider Stephen Mayes describes my current lifestyle as having a “portfolio career” essentially one that includes multiple income streams from a variety of services over a range of industry sectors. What my mother calls having a lot of irons in different fires. Although not what I envisioned, this is really good for me.

My single most valuable character trait is my curiosity; it has fueled all aspects of my creative life and continues to lead me to new opportunities both for creative expression and also commercial exploitation.

Just the other day, a longtime client and friend from my New York City days, introduced me as one of the most interesting people she knows. She mentioned that I was someone who is always reinventing his work and life.

I learned in that conversation that all my work has a common core, which is storytelling. In essence I like to learn, I like to experience things and then I share my enthusiasm. My work varies like the wind. I read, I write, make pictures, do interviews, capture video, splice images together, teach a class, consult with a client, moderate a panel discussion, introduce my daughter to a classic film, push a few buttons, just a normal day in my life.

A few years ago, thanks to my friends at ASMP I learned to rethink my business. This process included a fair amount of self-evaluation (Judy Herrmann’s 2goodthings.com is very useful in helping with that process.) I also had to rethink my brand and my identity, how I described myself and what I was ultimately selling.

For someone in the middle of their career, this sort of re-invention is not easy. What was my business? What did clients expect of me? What new services could I offer? On the upside, I continue to fuel my insatiable curiosity.  I learn something new every day. I have tons of new experiences and stories to share. Best of all I get to illustrate them all with pictures – some moving and some still. I live in a state of always be reinventing.

Richard Kelly is a lens based producer living in a state of reinvention. You can follow Richard on Instagram @richardkellyphoto or Twitter @richardkellypho.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Microsoft Instagram Feed Launch Shot By Justin Bastien

A Photo Editor's Blog - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 9:25am

During my various conversations with reps and photographers about Instagram assignments and campaigns exclusively for social media, I picture genial hipsters wandering the globe with their friends and iPhones. Recently however, Jonathan Feldman, owner of Massif Management, regaled me with tales of a major social campaign he wrangled that seemed more like an extreme sport. And as harrowing as it may seem, perhaps it is the shape of many campaigns to come.

It began with the fact that Microsoft happened to have a barely utilized Instagram account, and the Edelman agency pitched them something novel. Instead of talking about “product and software” on their Instagram platform, focus on passionate people in small business and tell their stories. Pitch accepted, the agency started the work of selecting a group of 30 remarkable, but not quite famous people from all over the world that had done exceptional things and had compelling stories behind them. And of course they had to find someone to make all those the portraits, only not with an iPhone. This is Microsoft after all.

Adventure photographer and director Justin Bastien got the call while he was on a granite cliff on the side of Mount Whitney–a professional hazard since he is a world-class rock climber–where he was directing a commercial shoot and scaling the rock with his characteristic nonchalance. This call though actually made him nervous. The job was intense. 30 different portraits in 10 (non-adjacent) countries in about 8 weeks. The whole project would roll out in real-time on Instagram and officially launch the feed.

I spoke with Justin not long ago after he had caught his breath from this epic assignment:

T. Brittain Stone: How did you end up getting the call?

Justin Bastien: It was a friend of mine at an advertising agency who knew a photography rep that had this assignment for an agency that had a client. It was like 5 layers removed. My name came up I guess from several people. The call went something like this, “so, there’s this project I thought you would be a good fit for and you come highly recommended. It involves traveling around the world shooting a variety of subjects from fashion, sports, science, adventure and wild animals… are you alright with shark diving in New Zealand… shooting bears in the jungles of Borneo?”

TBS: When did the project get awarded? How did you guys negotiate it?

JB: It was actually a really long process. Initially there were 5 other photographers, and this was all over the course of about three weeks getting closer to the launch of the project. I’m stressing out. It went on and on and finally got down to three of us….

Jonathan Feldman at Massif Management managed (the process). It was my first time working with him! They had a fixed number, and we had to come up with a scenario. So we had to adjust licensing based on shoot days and travel days based on that number. And they were asking me for more portfolio work and asking me how I would approach specific problems and how I would approach specific photos and about workflow. So there was a lot of back and forth in the selection process. Neither the client (a marketing exec at Microsoft) nor the agency had actually done something like this before.

The campaign was called the Do More campaign (#DoMore), and it was really focused specifically towards launching their Instagram feed… but they also wanted to feed it out to their other social media.

TBS: Did they consider your social media prowess or number of IG followers?

JB: I’ve never been the big time social media person at all. I post stuff when I feel like it, just stuff that I like.

TBS: How did they find the subjects?

JB: It was people that knew people that knew people… and also interesting people that were coming up in the news and showing up in social media, and they just reached out to them. The concept was to have some global coverage.

TBS: And the connection to Microsoft?

JB: It was like “You use technology, and you probably use Microsoft’s and there’s a Microsoft component to your life. It was a shift away from product focus and was more about people and what they do.

I have to say, every person was really impressive. Their passion, their intellect, their history, their story. Sometimes I’d ask, “how could this person be compelling?” and you’d meet them and you’re blown away by their journey and their passion for toothbrushes or aortic valve replacements or fashion or sharks.

TBS: Give me some numbers and an idea of what the production and the crew was like.

JB: We did 29 unique shoots in 10 countries and flew over 40,000 miles. And each picture went to over 12 million viewers on all of their social media platforms.

If we missed one connection during all of the 40,000 miles we flew, we were going to miss one of our subjects. Only one person cancelled. We only lost one bag!

I worked with these two really great Edelman folks, Kate Shay (Creative Director) and Christopher Swanson (Art Director), and it was their idea. They conceived the whole thing, pitched it to the client and won the whole deal. They were so awesome to work with. I almost felt like we were in art school again, like we were in finals for 3 months. And we had this crazy deadline, and we had no resources.

TBS: You had no assistant. Was that a budget choice?

JB: I have no idea to be honest. It was hard for me to even fathom… some hoe along the way… I mean, I pushed for it and pushed for it. Could you imagine, right? The AD, CD and producer would help me carry bags in, and once I started lighting, everyone helped out as much as they could, but I would say, “Hey, could you feather that light and throw a 5 degree spot grid on that thing?”, and they’re like “huh?” I’ll tell you I became real fast at lots of stuff.

The visual challenge was pretty immense in some of these locations. You’re showing up with duct tape and wire and you have maybe 2-3 hours to capture a minimum of 4-8 setups. We didn’t have locations or hair & makeup or anything. You make the most of it. Chris and Kate were really great at collaborating with me on coming up with visual solutions.

TBS: So one basic question that every photographer will ask is did you have to think “square” for all of the shoots?

Oh gosh yeah, absolutely. It kind of was a drag because I prefer to use prime lenses and use longer focal lengths when I can, and a lot of times, I had to use a zoom lens and had to go in a lot wider, like at 24 or 35 which isn’t great for portraiture. We were in tight spaces a lot of the time and it was really tough to accommodate the square format and do environmental portraits.

TBS: That is a challenge, and then you’d have to consider the other formats?

JB: I was focusing primarily on Instagram, those were our “hero” images. And then we had to have secondary and tertiary images that would go out to Twitter (at 2:1 aspect ration) and Facebook (at 12:6.3), and the blog could be in any format.

TBS: To think in all those different formats while shooting, maybe you just don’t think?

JB: Ha! No you have to!

So the turnaround on these things was so crazy. We would drive for 4 to 5 hours, do a shoot, drive for another 3 hours, edit till like 4 a.m. and then have a “meeting” at 6 a.m. with the agency (back in the U.S.) go through proofs, and I’d get request later that day. I’d have to process and “color” all the images and get them back before my next shoot at 2 p.m.

I’d be in the back of the car, connected to my phone, sending images and working them in Photoshop and Lightroom then export it again with GPS coordinates and metadata. This campaign was happening in nearly real-time.

TBS: How did the final selection process happen while you were on the road? Were you pleased with what hey chose?

JB: When you’re shooting for a medium like Instagram, you’re competing with all these other wonderful images out there and all this other information. Plus the pictures need to be really strong visually. And so I was really pushing hard to go with interesting lighting, composition, and so on. But there’s a certain conservative nature to the campaign. We had to make sure that the client and the agency would approve it.

TBS: Did you get numbers on engagement? Was there an ROI, or metrics that you got back on the road?

JB: Well, the IG account went from basically zero to over 100K to date and growing. I would say that is a pretty successful engagement.

TBS: Did you feel like you got a lot of exposure out of it since you were featured as their photographer? Was it all worth it?

Oh yeah.
I think it’s one of those things where in the end when you look back on it, it’s really cool, but while you’re in it, you’re so sleep deprived and tired. And there are there magical moments in between… and then it gets super heavy again and exhausting. Then there’s this great person you meet and you’re all energized, and then you realize you haven’t slept in three days, and there are three deadlines that are past due.
But are you kidding me, I’m jogging on the beach at sunset in Hahei, New Zealand. And diving with sharks today and I’m getting paid?

Sal Masekela

Sal Masekela

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Categories: Business

A Generalized Specialty

ASMP's Strictly Business - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 12:01am

[by Barry Schwartz]

My first career was in construction and kitchen-and-bath design, so when I became a professional photographer many years later it was a pretty natural progression to specialize in architectural photography. The business culture was something I understood very well, I already had industry connections, and I was more than happy to hang around pretty buildings.

As a young photographer in my teens, making images of whatever caught my eye and for years after, I often thought about turning pro but felt I did not have the fire in the belly I believed it would take. I took my little camera (an Olympus OM1) everywhere, including on jobsites. Some of my friends considered me a bit of a pest; little did I understand at the time how that level of persistence was a positive attribute – a requirement, in fact – for a professional career.

I educated myself about different kinds of photography purely by instinct: I followed what attracted me. Avedon and Penn, Cartier-Bresson and Sam Abell, Jerry Uelsmann and Wynn Bullock. I taught myself how to develop film and use a darkroom. I never took a single class. In my twenties, I added color, stopped processing and turned all that over to labs. I never learned anything about studio photography or technical cameras and focused on documentary work and the occasional portrait. It was a lot of fun.

The last ten years of my actual career was dominated by building and designing kitchens. To promote myself through pictures, I bought a tripod and some lights and umbrellas and made an awful lot of awful pictures. Gradually, through attrition, I got better. When my wrist and elbow started to give out it became clear the blue-collar part of my life was coming to an end. I assumed I would simply turn to designing full-time, but circumstances offered me the chance to photograph other people’s work, and the short version is: I never looked back.

Switching careers in middle age concentrates the mind, as the Brits say, and studying became an obsession. I didn’t have to learn about the culture of design clients, because that had been my own life; my job now was to learn about the techniques and culture of architectural photographers. Among the many truisms I heard was that design clients expect their photographers to be specialists – as they were – and to never show them any other kind of work on websites or in portfolios because that demonstrated a lack of seriousness of purpose, and design is a serious business. If an architectural photographer did produce another kind of work, the smart move was to keep that quiet by having a separate website.

A niche was a niche, but I began to discover successful photographers who did not follow that path. Having turned pro, I had a camera with me all the time, and found myself doing street photography and portraits more than ever. It was still a lot of fun. This was work I wanted to get paid for, and while I understood the concept of niche marketing I began to believe there was a place for a serious architectural photographer who also made pictures of people. I knew this might be a bit chancy for a new career, but starting a new career was already a fairly chancy move, so, why not? Besides, I already had the experience of a diverse career, simultaneously working as a contractor, carpenter, and designer.

Architectural photography remains my primary source of work, and I’m certain I’ve lost opportunities because of my decision to diversify, but other projects have come my way precisely because I produce several kinds of work, all proudly displayed on the same website. Several recent projects each required portraits, architecture, and documentary work. Niches may be niches, but fun is fun.

Robert Brunner, a well-known product designer, recently wrote: “You don’t own your brand. A brand isn’t a logo or packaging. It’s a gut feeling. And when two people have the same gut feeling, you have a brand.”

My guess about my career turned out to be the right move – for me. Being a generalist is my brand. That’s what my clients think, exactly what I hoped for. Maybe I just got lucky. I don’t think so.

Barry Schwartz is a photographer, writer, and educator in Los Angeles who feels branding is just another word for nothing left to lose.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Edit – Ethan Pines: Wired

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 9:44am

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Wired


Associate Photo Editor/Writer: Jenna Garrett
Read the online piece here
Photographer: Ethan Pines

Heidi: How did you find out about the Science Fair?
Ethan: A close friend of mine is one of the directors of judging, and every year he tells me that I need to come and shoot — that it’s full of quirky, imaginative kids with inventive projects and large personalities. And it’s never been covered well. This year I finally decided to do it.

What about the fair appealed to you?  Had you seen an image/student that compelled you to take it on as a personal project?
I’d seen a few snapshots on the Science Fair website from past years, but until I arrived at the Fair I hadn’t seen anything conveying the spirit of the kids, the uniqueness of their projects and the atmosphere of the day. And I think it’s all these elements that appealed to me. I was a bit of a geek as a kid, but I always wanted to be one of the cool kids. And I think that was a mistake. What I admire and love about the kids at the Science Fair is, they absolutely believe in themselves and their visions. They’re not there to win or to get famous, but because they’re proud of what they’ve done and are excited to show it off.

It’s also the kind of portrait series that, if you choose the right kids, almost can’t go wrong. It’s easy to focus on gear and lighting and technique, but photography is really about the subjects and the content, and it doesn’t get better than this. It was amazing — over 900 kids and projects, all of whom won regionally or locally to get here, all of whom converge on the California Science Center in downtown L.A. with their ill-fitting suits, their adolescent awkwardness, their earnest enthusiasm, their fairly mind-blowing projects.

I’m also a longtime fan of science fiction, and ultimately that’s what many of these projects are — new ways of thinking about problems, imaginative forays into the future.

Did you set out to have it published? or was this purely a creative exercise for you?
I always hoped to publish it somewhere but didn’t get much interest beforehand. So I thought I’d go and shoot something good, then send it out afterwards. I wanted to make photo editors’ jobs as easy as possible — get something in front of them practically ready to go. The Science Center was also generous and trusting enough to give me a media pass and full access without a specific editorial assignment, so I wanted to make sure I did right by them. They and the Fair deserve the coverage.

What’s the difference between shooting this type of series and let’s say a client job? How does your creative process or mental process compare?
Of course I can do whatever I want with a personal series, as opposed to a client job with a specific creative mandate. But what I did is exactly what I would have done if a magazine had assigned me the shoot. If an advertising gig sent me to the Fair, there would have been a lot more discussion and preparation beforehand regarding the ultimate purpose and use of the images, the client’s and agency’s creative direction, the message we wanted to convey, what some of our ideal images might be, etc. And I would have put a lot of thought into how to direct the kids, how to dramatize the client’s goal and agency’s ideas, what moments I’d be looking for, what scenarios I’d want to create, and how to make all that happen. And of course how to light it, what gear I’d need, what crew, what preproduction, and so on.

Since this was a personal series, my preproduction focused on how I wanted it to look, how to light it to get it there, and how to rig a battery-powered, portable strobe setup that my assistant and I could easily move around and manipulate in small areas. There was a lot of coordination beforehand with the Science Center, and I went the day before to scout. I also put some thought into creating a well-rounded photo essay — including details, still-lifes of projects, overviews of the exhibition rooms — rather than just a portrait series. As for directing and the content of the shots, I’ve shot so many portraits by now, I didn’t do much preparation beforehand. Between the kids themselves and the way I shoot, I felt I’d end up with what I was looking for. Too much preparation for something like this, and you can end up focused on a preconceived agenda rather than what’s happening in front of you.

How did you determine who would be shot/made the edit?
Determining whom to shoot was tough. Not because there weren’t enough good subjects, but because there were too many. Nearly 1,000 entrants and projects, and only a four-hour window when the kids are out with their projects for judging. Once we were inside I skimmed the aisles of one main area to find the first few interesting-looking kids with interesting-looking projects, After those, I did it again in the next area. Any one of those hundreds of kids could have been a complete gem to shoot; I just had to choose and run with it. And make it as good as possible once we were shooting.

What did you say to the kids to get them to open up? did anyone turn you down?
I’d simply stop at a kid, tell him/her I was shooting portraits, and ask if I could photograph him/her. It helped to have a media pass on my shirt and be the guy with the strobes flashing at various places around the Science Center. No one turned me down. Most of them seemed eager to share what they had worked on. And if they were a bit embarrassed, that also makes for a good portrait.

Once we were shooting, I watch for good moments, shoot the moments between the poses, talk with them, get them animated and expressive, work with whatever presents itself spontaneously, and make sure I get what I have in my head as well.

Once you saw the body of work, what were the key factors in choosing Wired over let’s say another tech publication?
Choosing Wired was a no-brainer. It’s the highest-profile and lushest tech publication out there. I think it’s one of the best-designed and -edited publications, period, tech or otherwise. I’ve shot for them before, so I thought that my pitch email would at least get read.

What did you pitch consist of? How many images, what was the crux of the text?
I edited down the shoot to a tight 21-image photo essay that I laid out in a .pdf with a title page and simple captions. I emailed it to Wired with a brief explanation of the Science Fair, and let the .pdf speak for itself. Once they accepted it, they asked me for a broader edit. I sent them everything that I’d be happy to see in print / online, and let them create the final series. Their version and mine ended up fairly close, so I felt that they understood the essence of the project.

Categories: Business

Looking Back to Move Forward

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 12:01am

[by Bruce Katz]

When I’m asked to give career advice to emerging photographers or my students that are just starting out in the business I try to take stock of my 30+ year career and distill my experiences down to some basic advice that is still relevant in today’s market.

Early in my career I was most interested in being a magazine photojournalist. While I had some modest success shooting, I was never able to get traction cracking the big assignments. Eventually, a small architectural job came my way and completely changed the course of my career.

Why?  The simplest reason is that people saw in my architectural work a passion that was missing from my photojournalism.

Shortly after shooting the architectural job, I sat down with a designer friend to produce a promo mailer. (The internet did not yet exist.) Almost all the images chosen were from the architectural job. While I didn’t realize it at the time – the work was much stronger than my photojournalism and it took someone who could look at my work without my own biases to show me the way.

The takeaway is that you must align your own expectations and goals with your actual talent and strengths as a photographer. It took me many years to realize this lesson, but the market showed me way when doors started opening for my architectural work. I was smart enough to step through and focus (sorry) and capitalize on this by focusing on architectural photography.

It’s important to take the time to evaluate your own work with some dispassionate perspective. The best way is to listen carefully to those that are reviewing your work. You will find common praise and critique over time when you attend portfolio reviews or when you meet with creatives.

Once you align your goals with your natural talent, doors will open.

Upcoming portfolio reviews worth checking out:

Palm Springs Portfolio Review at Photo Plus Expo

FotoFest 2016 Portfolio Review

The following portfolio reviews have not yet set dates for this coming year but if you check back on their websites periodically, new dates should eventually be set:

ASMP New York Commercial Portfolio Review

ASMP New York Fine Art Portfolio Review

Third Annual NY Times Lens Blog Portfolio Review

Bruce Katz, former ASMP National board member, shoots architecture and portraiture, and teaches at ICP in NYC.  www.brucekatzphoto.com

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Promo – Aaron Cobb 6/22

A Photo Editor's Blog - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 10:51am
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Aaron Cobb

Who designed it?
Ross Chandler Creative ( rosschandler.ca ) designed my promo.  I had the initial concept of the mix-and-match interactive triptych, and Ross helped me work through the creative process, problem-solving, finessing and printing process.  This was actually the second time I had worked with him.  Earlier that year he and I worked on designing my website, logo, and branding.  He even designed a secondary logo that uses my web URL, AARONCOBB.COM, put together cleverly with the use of images from my website.  They can also be mixed and matched.  It was a great experience all around, Ross worked his ass off.
Who printed it?
Somerset Graphics in Toronto printed my promo piece.
How many did you make?
I printed 2,000 copies, which I believe was their minimum order.
Who edited the images?
I edited the images.  I knew before the shoot days that everything needed to be clean, minimal and symmetrical.
How many times a year do you send out promos?
I have been sending out the promos about twice a year, but also as needed.  If there is a potential client I feel I would be a good fit with, I will send one their way.
Tell us about your subjects in the promo.
I had photographed Rashel (the female talent), and Gentleman Reg (the blonde talent) in Toronto, and had been trying to organize a shoot with the third and final talent for the project.  Larry Gomez, aka the Wolfboy, lives in Los Angeles, and works part-time in a circus there.  He has hypertrichosis which is an abnormal amount of hair growth all over the body.  It is also known as Werewolf Syndrome.  I was interested in taking his portrait before this promo idea came about, but once I was working on this promo, I knew that he was the final piece of the puzzle.  He has a circus agent in LA named Chuck Harris.  I found his contact info and gave him a call.  Chuck liked my work and agreed to help me with this creative project as long as I took his portrait as well.  It took several weeks to co-ordinate schedules and draw up a contract that the images were solely to be used for promotional purposes.  I flew down to LA for a week, rented Beachwood Studios, and photographed Chuck and Larry.  I got the images I wanted of Larry, and the added bonus of a cool image of Chuck smoking a cigar with his awesome Coke-bottle glasses.
This was my first promo, and the whole journey was a great experience, and very rewarding in its own right.

 

Categories: Business

The Hustle Never Ends

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 12:02am

[by Michael Clark]

When I started out as an adventure photographer, I knew it would take years to really establish myself and solidify a career in photography. I had read somewhere that it would take two to three years to go full-time as a freelancer, and then another five to seven years before I would be making decent money. Somehow, early on I got it into my head that if I could make it to the ten-year mark, I would have it made in the shade and assignments would be coming my way non-stop.

Before I went full-time as a freelancer – almost 20-years ago now – I ran into James Balog and had a conversation with him about his work and career. I remember him saying quite clearly that it only gets harder the longer you work as a photographer and that the continual hustle to get assignments never ends. That blew up my pre-conceived notion about making it to the ten-year mark and then hitting easy street. He also mentioned that every year there are young photographers entering the profession who are hungry, willing to work extremely hard and who want to take his assignments. At that point, I was one of those hungry photographers.

© Michael Clark. Chris Sharma deep water soloing on Big Momma (5.13d/14a) in the Tarantino Cave at Cala Barcos in Mallorca, Spain. Shot on film way back in 2004, this image is still in my portfolio but shows my older style of capturing the action in a documentary style. I still shoot in a documentary style when capturing action, so this isn’t necessarily an “old” technique but this image is from early in my career.

© Michael Clark. Chris Sharma deep water soloing on Big Momma (5.13d/14a) in the Tarantino Cave at Cala Barcos in Mallorca, Spain. Shot on film way back in 2004, this image is still in my portfolio but shows my older style of capturing the action in a documentary style. I still shoot in a documentary style when capturing action, so this isn’t necessarily an “old” technique but this image is from early in my career.

Over the years, I’ve learned that, at least for the adventure genre, finding motivation is key to moving your career forward. When I was starting out, I had an intense desire to make amazing images and also serious motivation to make a living.

Once I got established, though, I realized that it would be all too easy to relax a bit and not work as hard as when starting out. For me, it was and still is the new photographers who are full of energy and really pushing hard that make me push myself as hard as I can to come up with new and exciting work. Those young guns out there help keep my motivation high and keep me pushing the envelope.

I started out shooting mostly for editorial publications then moved into shooting commercial assignments for advertising. After shooting a few “big-time” assignments I came to realize very quickly that with big sums of money at stake, comes a huge amount of stress. Most of that stress is self-imposed because I know I have to come back with images that will make the client happy. Delivering images to the client that surpasses their expectations is also a serious form of motivation for me and always has been.

© Michael Clark. Pro-surfer Thomas Ihnken at catching some air time at Rocky Point on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Thomas was lit up with five (5) Elinchrom Ranger 1,100 Watt/sec battery-powered strobes, which were triggered by a PocketWizard ControlTL transceiver. This image represents pushing the envelope of flash technology to the breaking point. Lit from 500-feet away, this is a first for modern never-before attempted or pulled off flash photography techniques. You can read more about this image and how it was created on the Elinchrom blog.

© Michael Clark. Pro-surfer Thomas Ihnken at catching some air time at Rocky Point on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Thomas was lit up with five (5) Elinchrom Ranger 1,100 Watt/sec battery-powered strobes, which were triggered by a PocketWizard ControlTL transceiver. This image represents pushing the envelope of flash technology to the breaking point. Lit from 500-feet away, this is a first for modern never-before attempted or pulled off flash photography techniques. You can read more about this image and how it was created on the Elinchrom blog.

The past 20 years have taught me that staying motivated, however that happens, is key to a long career in this field. If I am not constantly pushing myself and my work, and exploring new things, prospective clients will see that. Every year, I have to keep shooting portfolio images or personal projects that take hard work and dedication to pull off to make sure I am still relevant so that I can be around in this profession for another 20 years. The hustle never ends.

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

Evolution of a Career

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 12:01am

In the 26 years that I’ve been a professional photographer, I’ve watched my skills and my interests evolve over time.  My goals, hopes and dreams when I entered this profession were very different from what I wish for today.  Over the years, I’ve discovered that careers are rarely linear -not only are there ups and downs, but most of us experience by-ways and side ways, criss-crosses and the occasional two steps forward, followed inevitably by one step back.  This week and next, our contributors share insights on how their careers have evolved over time and the wisdom they’ve gained as a result. ~Judy Herrmann, Editor

 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

This Week In Photography Books: Seth Hancock

A Photo Editor's Blog - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 10:40am

by Jonathan Blaustein

A picture is worth a thousand words. So they say. And “they” are normally right, so we repeat the cliché ad nauseam.

But what if they’re wrong? What if words ARE better at some forms of communication? Are we all in the wrong business?

It’s an interesting question. These days, images are more popular, and by assumption powerful, than ever before. We discussed the idea a while back with curator Russell Lord, a photography expert if ever there was one.

The idea is that photographs convey information beyond the boundaries of language. A picture of fire will read as fire in China, Chattanooga, or Timbuktu. Fire warm. Fire cook food. Me like fire.

We don’t need words to recognize an object, or even a set of actions. Soccer/Football is a global sport, and a portrait of Lionel Messi, or Cristiano Ronaldo, will be recognizable in most parts of Earth, with no further explanation.

But what about emotions? What about the subtle nuance that resides inside a human being’s soul. (Should we accept the existence a soul, which is DEFINITELY a conversation for a different day.)

I’m waxing philosophical, as my brain is still in some form of image-induced stasis, after looking at dozens of projects at Review Santa Fe this past weekend. I’ve come to find that the best work gains quick acceptance in a portfolio review environment.

You can always spot the artists whose work is breaking out. They stand up a little straighter. Look you in the eye. They know they’ve got the goods.

But that leaves a rather large percentage of photographers who are making good photographs, or even just decent. They mostly get silence from their reviewers, or quiet nods. It’s hard when you’re not getting compliments or criticism, so I go in the other direction.

I give honest, kind critiques, and now, people seem to be seeking me out just for that. They know I’m there to help.

So today, we’re going to attempt such a thing in a book review. It’s more of a catalog, really, called “10 Minutes With A Stranger,” sent to me directly, by the photographer Seth Hancock. (Now of Los Angeles.)

I received it a while back, and just took a look. It’s not like anything I’d normally review, and you regulars know I’ve tried to expand my range of late. So let’s go there.

Seth, I’m guessing you’re a commercial photographer. By calling it a personal project, and the shooting style you adopt, I’m inclined to read the situation thusly. Perhaps you do editorial work too, but I don’t think your training is in art.

The project, which we’re looking at here today, consists of images you made of random strangers, on a long and winding American Road Trip, while you were moving from New York to LA. You limited your time with all the people you met, and beyond photographing them, you also got them to share very personal information with you via a diary.

You must have some very impressive people skills. (Rico Suave, my friend. Rico Suave.) I liked the idea, and I like the book, but perhaps not in the way you intended.

The pictures have a very “commercial” look to me. They’re shiny, and some of the people are even smiling. (The big no-no in the art world.) I can tell straight off that you know how to operate a camera, and a set of lights. And I did like the two images in which you had the subject hold a light to their face. (Very meta.)

But if I were judging the photos alone, they really don’t tell me much about who the person is, nor are they distinctive from other photographer’s pictures. There is no edge. No overtone of emotion. The wall between subject and camera is thicker than Donald Trump’s bullshit. They’re neither off-putting, like early Thomas Ruff, nor are they poignantly beautiful, like Rineke Dijkstra.

The journal entries, however, are often heartbreaking. I can’t believe you got people to open up to you like this, in such a non-traditional way. (At least for a photographer.)

A young man writing a tragic letter to his dead wife. A young woman sharing her fears and pain after having a stroke, brought on by faulty medication. A man, chilling on a stoop that says “No Loitering,” writing of his trip down the wrong path, and subsequent redemption.

An African-American cowboy quietly bemoaning racism. An older man, who raises wolves, and wishes humans could only be a shade more lupine. Or a young Latino woman who said the best day of her life was when her father abandoned her family. (We can only imagine…)

I read each and every page. Word by word. Wow, were these stories powerful. I felt connected to the subjects on levels profoundly beyond what the pictures allowed me to access.

Yet, I’d never have read the words, had the pictures not existed. Not only do the images anchor the project, but I only review photo books. No photos, no review.

So, Seth, I’d encourage you to figure out how to imbue your future pictures with the depth and emotional intensity found in these incredibly honest admissions. Is it even possible for you? I don’t know.

But the best portraits obviate the need for explication. They leave us with more questions than answers. And typically, the best stories don’t have pictures. Perhaps you’ll break new ground one day?

Either way, I’m glad you sent your book my way. It held my attention, and made me think. It gave me access to new information: in this case, the inner world of a set of strangers I’ll never meet.

Bottom Line: An interesting personal project that illuminates a set of random lives

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Categories: Business

How do You Sound? Tips for Better Audio When Using a DSLR

ASMP's Strictly Business - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 12:01am

[by Gail Mooney]

Perhaps, one of the most daunting components of video production for still photographers is capturing good audio. Audio is everything. If your audience can’t hear or understand the dialog in your video, they’ll walk away. If I have the budget, I will hire a sound person.

Check out these videos to hear what good audio sounds like:

Audio captured with internal microphone of Canon 5D Mark II (same card as video)

Audio captured with Samson Zoom H4N (digital recorder and separate card)

Here are a few tips for getting good audio:

  • You won’t get good audio by using the camera’s built in microphone – at least not for interviews. However, don’t turn off the camera’s audio. You can use it as a reference when syncing sound later in post-production.
  • Use external microphones for capturing audio interviews. Ideally, you should record your interview audio using a digital recorder with XLR connections like the Samson Zoom H6 or the Tascam DR-60DmkII. I generally place a “lav” microphone (lavalier) on my subjects. I will also use a shotgun microphone, mounted (with shock mount) on a boom pole that’s on a fixed stand. If I have the budget for a crew and I’m shooting on the fly, then I’ll hire a boom operator. If you should decide to use an amateur or assistant as a “boom operator”, rather than hire an experienced operator who knows how to capture “consistent” audio, you’ll most likely end up with poor audio captured at inconsistent levels. The shotgun microphone should be about 12-18 inches away from your subject.
  • For run and gun” situations, you can probably get away with using a microphone mounted on the camera, as long as you are close to your audio source. You can either run a microphone (with a mini plug) directly to the camera OR you can run a microphone with an XLR adaptor through a pre-amp like a JuicedLink or a Beachtek, which will yield a cleaner audio capture. This works well for capturing ambient sound for b-roll or live action, and your audio will be recorded to the same card as your video. If you do want to capture your interview audio using a microphone mounted on the camera, make sure that you get your camera in close to your subject (not more than 18 inches away), and that you us a mixer or a pre-amp.
  • Microphones - Use an omni-directional or cardiod microphone when you are in a more controlled situation, like a sound stage, and you want your sound coming from more directions. “Lav” microphones (lavaliers) can be used for interviews, either hard wired or with a wireless kit. Carefully attach and position the mic on your subject to avoid any unnecessary noise coming from hair or jewelry rubbing up against it. A good camera mounted microphone is the Sennheiser MKE 400 (compact shotgun) or the MKE 600. For interviews I use my cardiod Sennheiser ME66 with K6 powering module. The Rode NTG2 is also a nice, lightweight condenser shotgun mic.
  • Use a wireless system only when you NEED to. In cities like New York you can get a lot of interference on various frequencies. Always go wired when you can. A great and affordable hard-wired “lav”, is the SonyECM44B If you find yourself needing a wireless system, spend the money to get a system that has a good range. A popular wireless kit is the Sennheiser evolution G3.
  • Use a good windscreen or “dead cat” when outside. Even if you’re inside on a windy day with the windows open, you can pick up wind noise.
  • Use headphones. Don’t just look at your meters. Your meters may indicate that you are recording sound, but it may not be good sound. You could be picking up interference or getting distorted or clipped audio. Wear headphones and make sure that you are capturing quality sound.
  • Always consider that you will be using the audio – even for your b-roll. You will need clean usable audio for b-roll, even if it’s only intended as ambient, background sound.
  • Pay attention to audio. Start by letting your ears do more of the work. Every room and situation has its own sound. Listen up. Be quiet and tell your crew to be quiet as well. You never know when you’ll want to use the audio – even if you think you won’t need it.

Gail Mooney has been shooting video and capturing audio for over 15 years. She is a partner at Kelly/Mooney Productions located in the greater NYC metro area.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Art of the Personal Project: John Davis

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 10:18am

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: John Davis

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How long have you been shooting?
About 15 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I studied Photography at The Maryland Institute, College of Art (MICA).

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
The unique concentration of artists and creatives that call Baltimore home is the main inspiration. More specifically, the Treason Toting Company project, part of a larger project collaboration called SCOUT (see Artist Statement), was inspired by the guys at Treason and their commitment to quality, style and the creative class of Baltimore. Jason Bass and Aaron Jones truly embody the qualities of the bags they make.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
This particular project was shot over the course of about one month. I didn’t have a plan for the work before it began so it’s been shown in a few different places: framed prints exhibited at local craft brewing space, a traditional portfolio book and as part of a brand video created by my friends and collaborators at ShineCreative.tv.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
It depends on the subject, but I usually know pretty quickly if it’s working. I like to give it some time to breathe, so I’m usually not too concerned with how long I spend on something. Sometimes I’ll lose interest in a project and move on but I might also come back to it later… possibly years later. A personal project that doesn’t work out can still be a success if I’ve learned something from it.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
By design, shooting for my portfolio is almost always different from my personal work. The goal of my personal work is to explore new directions for my commercial work. In the case of Treason Toting Company, the personal work was where I saw my commercial work moving so I knew I wanted it to be different and that was really the point of project.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I use a combination of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. Social media is the perfect place to test and get feedback on new work, Personal and Commercial.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
I wouldn’t say anything has gone viral but it has definitely helped drive more people to my website. It’s also a great way to keep my name out there. Even though we’re all striving for it, I think “going viral” and “great press” can be overrated. It’s hard to argue with going viral but it’s really difficult to gauge great press. I’ve had great press and lots of attention from the right people but still not seen an uptick in jobs. It’s also possible that the rewards aren’t felt for a long time, or spread over years, and by then it’s really hard to say where it all started. I believe consistency in social media is most important for it to succeed. Unless you have a dedicated social media person, it’s really hard to keep on top of all of it.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I’d say about 50% of my marketing draws from personal projects. Combining personal and commercial images in marketing can create just the right amount of tension to give things a fresh look. My clients really enjoy seeing my personal vision, especially when juxtaposed with commissioned work. It has also helped some of my clients find new ways of using me.

Just recently, The Treason Toting Co. project caught the attention of a long time Higher Education client of mine and led to them hiring me to shoot a project for Stanford University in Palo Alto, Ca.

——————

John is a photographer based in the Baltimore, Maryland. He specializes in telling stories with images for a wide range of clients, from higher education and advertising to national editorial publications. On his “off” days he keeps busy by training for his next Marathon and photographing his fellow athletes.
You can see more of John’s work here:
http://www.jdph.com

Contact: john@jdph.com

The Treason Toting Company project is the first project in a series collaboration with my friends and colleagues at ShineCreative.tv. The project is called SCOUT and is an exploration of the creative path and those driven to pursue it. Treason was an opportunity for me to experiment with a style of shooting that I had previously only applied to my Education Lifestyle work. By expanding my vision and being free to tell the story as it unfolded, I could take a more intimate perspective, observing in a way that allowed the essence of Treason to come to the surface and tell a true story with images.


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 establishing 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 feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

Categories: Business

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