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[by Todd Joyce]
Click on a link to watch a video and a commercial pops up. You can skip the ad in 4, 3, 2, 1, “skip ad.” If it caught your interest, you may have stayed. If it was a sell, then you skipped it. In embedded ads, the hook has to happen within those first few seconds or the viewer is gone.
In a post about the future of video, it would have been easy to talk tech…don’t get me wrong, tools are great to have, but they are just tools. Most of us are tech nerds, who spend a metric crap ton of time researching and testing equipment to enable us to do new and exciting work. What we all need to remember/admit is that even the most advanced piece of equipment/technology, won’t make the viewer watch our work. Think Blair Witch Project. It was shot with simple video cameras – and video cameras are getting more simple all the time. The director didn’t have the subjects lug cinema quality cameras. It wasn’t about the tool. It was the suspense and excitement that held your attention.
Recently, I spent a large amount of time researching and watching various types of motion work. I watched everything from great movies to successful commercials. The good ones made you relate to someone or something, right away, which made you part of the story. That hook is what keeps us from going on to something else. Developing that hook is tremendously important and difficult to quantify. And doing it sooner is becoming more important than ever. Attention spans are getting shorter and they will likely get even shorter in the coming years.
To prepare for the future, spend a metric crap ton of time researching what makes a motion piece interesting enough to hold the viewers attention and less time researching the newest, iconic, doorstop bound pieces of hardware. The future of video, is getting and holding the viewer’s attention. It’s not about the tools.
Todd Joyce – BTW, the metric crap ton is slang for a huge value that is hard to quantify, e.g. Todd has a metric crap ton of work here.
I can take a significantly better looking image with my iPhone today, than I could with a $22K digital camera in 1999. A teenager can share an image so much more easily with millions of people, for free, and do so so much more quickly, than I could as a photojournalist at The New York Times less than a decade ago… and that’s amazing, and at times of course: scary.
Both the QUALITY and COST have been evened out within our business: and historically that’s relatively rare.
The question we now must all ask ourselves as creative professionals is: how do we survive within this new landscape? (especially in one that is moving so fast!)
[...] Well then answer has been around for awhile. It’s nothing new: it’s called SKILL and KNOWLEDGE OF (and respect of) CRAFT.
Am I an idealist? SURE – but I also think I’m quite grounded in reality. And I think that as the cameras become ubiquitous, as everyone gravitates towards the same tools, the playing field will truly become leveled, and ironically we’ll discover that our only true differentiator in time will become the author’s understanding of how they can best put those tools into use. That is what will ultimately set us apart from one another. The exponentially increasing camera technology will indeed be its own worst enemy.
— Vincent Laforet
Read the whole post on: Vincent Laforet’s Blog.
[by Sean Kernan]
At first, photography was not a career for me. It was a way out of a job that had stopped being creative (in theater, of all places), and a way into a universe that was larger than anything I’d ever suspected was there.
Up to that point I’d spent my life first as a student, then as a responsible stage manager. But when I looked through a camera, suddenly I was blown into a wider world. Photography let me see, and know that I was seeing. In those moments I became childlike again in an adult sort of way. It was the greatest do-over one could ever hope for.
But when I became a professional photographer all that changed. I began to look for—and see—just what I was sent out to see. And when I tried to go back to the kind of goal-less seeing that had freed me in the first place, I found out how very hard that is.
Still I kept trying, going off to unfamiliar places and marooning myself there for a time. One day, while I was in the throes of photographing in a boxing club in Africa, I pressed the little button that said Video on the back of my new Canon 5D II and it was as though a door slammed open to reveal yet another universe. And if such a door opens and you don’t step through, you’re a fool.
Video was just as exciting as my discovery of photography had been. Once more I was wandering around with the camera to my eye and nothing in my mind. And whenever I do that, I am somehow enlarged. I don’t really understand that, but I’ve come to trust it.
Since that first try there have been unexpected outcomes of the best kind. I’ve finished a film in that boxing club in Kampala. I’m still working on an extensive video on the Crow Reservation in Montana. And I’m wrapping up work on projections for a theater/dance performance that opens in New York in January.
And none of these was an assignment. They just combusted spontaneously, exactly the way my first transformative photography projects did.
Of course, there’s the business of making one’s living and photographers everywhere are looking at the medium of video as a natural extension of their work. It promises to be a very exciting transition.
Still, there’s a part of me that is almost afraid that some client will ask me to do some big video project and turn my exploration into a job with necessary outcomes. Well, if that happens, I’ll deal with it, and it’ll be great.
But through my career I’ve always had sense enough to know that my exploratory impulse was a taproot that was growing and searching out nourishment. I understand that I have to take that impulse for a long walk every time I see it pawing at the door. If I don’t, I’m finished.
Sean Kernan’s latest book is Looking into the Light: Creativity and Photography, an investigation of ways photographers can invigorate their own vision. Available at the Apple iBookstore.
Heidi: What inspired you to start this body of work?
Joao: I watched a documentary called Pina (directed by Wim Wenders) a couple of years ago, and I was blown away. How dance could be abstract and energetic and seemingly random and chaotic but still cathartic. It sent chills down my spine, particularly watching it in 3D (I don’t need 3D in movies, but for this one it was truly worth it). It planted a seed. So I talked to a friend of mine who is an amazing professional dancer to do a test shoot with her. At the time I was mostly interested in stillness and getting portraits of her. I liked the pictures very much, but the more I looked at them, the more I thought this could be a continuing series with different dancers.
How do you select your subjects?
I picked my dancer friend’s brain, and she gave me a long list of dancers that she knew. She introduced me to a few of them via Facebook or email. So I started getting in touch with them. I met with whoever was interested, and decided to talk to them extensively before the shoot. That was actually the most inspiring aspect of this process, to find out about their upbringing, their lives, why they got into dancing, what they wanted to accomplish in the future… It made me realize that this could be a very fruitful collaboration.
Are these multi day shoots?
Yeah, I shot each dancer in one day.
Describe a typical session, it’s there some structure or is it fluid? ( do have a set of criteria for each series? )
A little structure, and then the rest to chance. The shoot day starts early with scouting some locations around the area where the dancer lives. Usually that takes a couple hours or more. Then we pick him or her up from their home and head from one location to the other. Typically I’d like to have three or four locations per session. That’s the only structure, the locations. But I’ve realized they’re very important, because they contribute to the consistency of the whole series. We’ve gotten lucky with that! Whenever we shot in New York, we always managed to get into an empty racquetball court. It was like having a natural light studio with a beautiful wall for free. And the last dancer I shot, we were able to shoot inside a huge empty public pool. (It’s incredible what you can get away with in this city if you just push a little.)
But I digress. The fluid part is the most fun, obviously. Whereas — as I mentioned before — I was mostly interested in formal portraits of the dancers when I began this series, the shoots quickly became a mix of capturing movement and portraits. My only goal really was to freeze the action in a way that made them seem weightless and abstract and surreal. And particularly something I hadn’t seen before in dancing pictures. The rest was letting them do their thing as they knew best.
Are you doing these through out your travel assigns or do you travel for specific dancers?
Most of these I shot while I had some free time in NYC. One other one that I shot while I was on assignment in LA. I’m hoping that next year I can find other dancers in places other than the US, to have a variety of locations.
Is there any type of music when these shoots are happening, how does the talent get into form?
We shot most of these sessions without music, except for the last one, which was actually extremely helpful. I decided to shoot a little video for this one (which I’m still cutting and should be ready in a couple weeks), and as we were shooting on the racquetball court, my assistant put on a playlist on a little Jambox. This song called Reflektor by Arcade Fire came on, and Emily the dancer began to move so incredibly that we all really got in the groove. It was magical!
What are you goals with this, a show, a book?
Honestly, a book or a show has crossed my mind, but for the moment I’m just enjoying shooting something that is so collaborative and creative yet I can truly call my own. For either a show or a book to happen I have to keep on shooting more.
How do you approach the individual and the collective edit for this?
I learn a little bit about them and their aspirations by meeting them beforehand. I do tell them though that I’m not interested in shooting the typical images you see out there of dancers — particularly ballet dancers — that can end up being so clichéd and cheesy. Once we’re shooting I let them do their thing, every so often telling them to repeat a movement that looked great, or to try something similar. If I end up capturing something a bit off-kilter, or jarring, or abstract, that also evokes a bit of narrative, then I’m happy. If it makes you ask, “what’s happening here?” then I’m happy.
As for the overall edit, I try as best as I can to have some variety in each session between locations. But also make sure that from one image to the next there is a bit of dynamic range. Some wider shots paired with some more close up, and so forth.
Let’s talk a little about your Fader cover: How long did you have with the subject?
Four hours or so total: hair and make-up, plus change of wardrobe. So at the end it felt more like an hour and a half or less of just shooting.
What led to this particular body position?
I don’t recall exactly, but Nicki certainly knew what she was doing. The magazine’s style director put on some music that Nicki liked and she moved and danced away. I was particularly interested in those in-between moments of stillness, or where it felt more of a portrait. This was one of those moments that probably lasted a click or two and then it was gone.
Was your dance inspired by this project or vice versa?
It’s funny how for me every recent project informs the newest ones, often subconsciously. I find myself looking back to find inspiration or ideas, sometimes ideas that I didn’t use before or that weren’t as successful that I want to try again. In this case, the dancers happened first, so it was funny how I ended up getting this assignment shooting Nicki Minaj that employed a similar method of capturing her still while she moved to the music.
What type of creative direction did you get from the magazine?
We talked a lot about creative direction before the shoot happened. They had some ideas but also asked for my input and also for a mood board, which I was very excited about. The challenge was that all the previous cover stories shot for The Fader had been shot on location over two days, so they could fill 10-plus pages with a good variety of pictures. This was the first time, I think, that they had to shoot a subject that could only give them one day, in a studio, and four hours at that. So they called me! (Haha.) Since there was going to be a few wardrobe changes, what about using different colored backdrops to complement the different wardrobe, but then also using textiles as backdrops too — a bit inspired by the portraits of Seydou Keita — to have greater variety. They really liked this idea, but this meant having some extra help with set design if we were to pull it off in four hours. I ended up hiring a producer (also because shooting someone the caliber of Nicki Minaj meant she came with quite a hefty rider, and I had no time or resources to deal with that myself), and he found an amazing set designer that was willing to collaborate with me. I flew to LA, and as soon as I landed, I found out that due to some miscommunication, Nicki was unable to shoot the day that had been scheduled. Oh well… I decided to meet with Lauren, the set designer, anyway, and sort out all the set logistics, including picking the textiles for the backdrops in downtown LA. For a moment there I thought this shoot was never going to happen, but thankfully, it got rescheduled.
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[by Pascal Depuhl]
Video is to stills, what digital was to film.
When digital was just getting started, I heard many photographers say: “I don’t need to learn another technology and besides, that digital thing is never gonna take off.” A few years later, I found myself saying the same thing about video in 2009. I had just read one of Gail Mooney’s (@mooneykelly) posts on why still photographers should consider shooting video and thought “… that video thing is never gonna take off.” If you have not seriously looked into video, please believe me – you owe it to yourself to do just that. I’m not saying you have to get into video production – I don’t believe photography is going to go away – but if you don’t make a decision about motion, the market is going to decide for you. Period. If you don’t think this can happen, ask any E6 lab owner, just sayin’.
Video changes minds.
Motion is a very powerful medium. Don’t believe me? Watch this 6 minute video and tell me, that at the end of the video you don’t want to buy this boat. My clients know that a well produced video will change their customers minds with good story telling. And video lets you show and tell great stories.
In my case, a few, short years after dismissing Gail’s post out of hand (sorry Gail – turns out you were right), I found myself on a snow covered runway filming my first documentary in Afghanistan. A video that the marketing officer for the European Union will later call “one of the best I’ve seen from any partner to date actually, both in terms of format and content – very well done!” Footage of this video will air on National Geographic and the BBC, it will be screened at a Film Festival, win national awards and it will put me on a TEDx stage, but I don’t know any of this is going to happen, while I’m kneeling in the snow that morning. Just goes to show you if I can do this, so can you.
Where do I see video going?
I believe motion is here to stay – not because our DSLRs can shoot video, but because with the advent of mobile devices like the iPad, video has gone mobile. People know that their device is capable of showing video, so they expect it on the websites they visit. That’s where we come in. Motion picture, TV ads, etc. all have established players, who have been doing this way longer than we have, so I’m not competing there. My market for video is in the 45 sec – 5 min web video, telling a story about a service or product.
Getting into video
Reality check: You don’t have to own the latest video equipment – one can go broke just keeping up with every new camera that comes out every 6 months – I can rent what I need. My go to camera is a Canon 5D Mk II and a GoPro. I bought a few tungsten lights for my light kit and I edit on my 5 year old Mac Book Pro laptop.
So, what are you going to do with video? If you haven’t dabbled in video yet, please do yourself a favor and try it. Don’t let all the gear, formats, codexes, standards, etc. overwhelm you. Just take some time this holiday season to push the record button on your DSLR and play with it’s video function. Learn by making a few mistakes, get a feel for it–it’s way different than still photography–but as a photographer you’ve already mastered much of the visual vocabulary for video: lighting, composition, color, production…in fact I’d venture to say you’re heads and shoulders above many of the videographer’s out there. If you already are working with video, consider helping other photographers make the leap.
Pascal Depuhl has been creating commercial videos since mid-2011 and shot “On Wings of Hope” six months later. (He got some hard data from a university about how this film has changed minds and spoke about it at TEDx in The Art of Changing Minds.) He teaches a workshop series called Move2Motion, that’s designed for still photographers who see the need to get into video and has spoken at WordCamp Miami on “How to create a killer video for your blog!” Send him a tweet (@photosbydepuhl) and ask him anything you want to know about getting into video as a still photographer.
Shoot Concept: Portraits of two spokesmen previously featured in television commercials in various lifestyle scenarios
Licensing: Web Collateral use of up to 13 images for 3 months
Location: A studio in California
Shoot Days: Two
Photographer: Portraiture and lifestyle specialist
Agency: Mid-sized, based on the East Coast
Client: Large food company
Here is the estimate:
Creative/Licensing: The agency had recently produced a series of television commercials introducing two spokesmen for the brand, and they were now interested in extending the concept into their social media marketing. Specifically, they wanted to promote a contest on the brand’s Facebook page, and they hoped to capture a series of images of the spokesmen in different environmental settings with various props. We initially discussed shooting the project in multiple locations, but the potential costs and necessary prep time required to take the shoot on the road warranted a shift in the creative scope. In the end they decided to do the shoot in a studio on a white background, and planned to retouch various background settings into the shots.
The agency planned to release about one image per week on the brand’s Facebook page over the course of three months. Rather than breaking up the licensing and integrating language limiting a one-week duration per image, we included use of up to 13 images on their page for the entire length of the 3 months. Taking the intended use and limited licensing duration into account, I decided to price each image at $700. I’ll typically reduce the cost of additional images, but I felt that each image was unique, and therefore each one carried the same amount of value. Also, in many cases when negotiating much more substantial usage, I feel that the value of the licensing can outweigh the photographer’s creative fee. However, in this case I felt that it was appropriate to also include an increase to the rate to account for the photographer’s time, so I included an additional $1,500/day. This “creative fee” is on the lower end of what we typically estimate for a creative fee per day, but I felt it was appropriate given the experience level of the photographer and the scope of the project. The licensing and creative fee I calculated added up to $12,100, and I decided to round down to an even $12,000 to simplify the proposal.
The agency asked for a price to license additional images as well as options to extend the licensing duration to include 6 months and one year. I felt $1,000/image was appropriate for additional images based on the prorated cost of the fee and the number of images already being conveyed. Additionally, I felt that doubling the licensing duration was worth 50% of the fee, and extending the duration to include one year was worth 100% of the fee.
After compiling a creative/licensing fee that I felt was appropriate, I checked to see what other pricing resources suggested. While Blinkbid and FotoQuote don’t offer a price specifically for social media use, they do suggest a price between $300-$750 per image for use on a client’s website for 3 months. Getty and Corbis both suggested a price of about $300 per image for use on multiple social media platforms for 3 months. As for the licensing duration options, Getty and Corbis added about 30%-40% to go from 3 months to 6 months, and about 80%-90% to go from 3 months to 1 year, and this was pretty similar to my calculations. FotoQuote suggested just about half of these rate increases (15% to go from 3 months to 6 months, and a 40% increase to go from 3 months to 1 year). Taking all of this into account as well as the upward pressure being placed on the photographer to create 13 completely unique images (as well as the size of the client), I felt that I was in a good starting place with the fee.
Photographer Pre-Light Day: Since the 13 scenarios would require a significant amount of time to set up (especially due to prop styling), we wanted to account for a prep day in the studio for everyone to get on the same page in order to hit the ground running on the first shoot day. Also, these concepts would actually require arranging and shooting in two different sets in the same studio throughout the day. One set would be staged and then broken down while the other set was being shot, and this process would continue over the course of two days with all 13 scenarios. This made the pre-light day even more valuable, and the photographer would have time to work with her team and plan how they’d move back and forth between each set and arrange the lighting setups the day prior to the shoot.
Assistants: We planned for the first and second assistants to attend the pre-light day, and we included additional days on the front and back ends of the shoot for the first assistant to pick up equipment and prepare for the shoot with the photographer. The first and second assistants would each lend a hand on their individual sets in the studio, while the third assistant would bounce back and forth between sets for additional support.
Digital Tech: We included the cost for a tech ($500/day) plus their workstation and equipment ($1,000/day) for each of the two shoot days. The photographer planned to set the tech up in an area between both sets, so they wouldn’t need to keep moving back and forth.
Producer and Production Assistants: The producer would help wrangle the crew and make arrangements for all of the logistics, and we planned on three prep/wrap days, one pre-light day and two shoot days. Given the scale of the shoot, we accounted for the producer to have two assistants on each shoot day to help manage each set and lend a helping hand for miscellaneous tasks throughout each day.
Hair/Makeup Stylist: With only two talent, we were confident that one hair/makeup stylist could prep them in the morning and monitor the talent throughout each shoot day.
Wardrobe and Prop Styling: The talent had a signature wardrobe look from the commercials that the client had been sticking to for the most part, but each scenario would still require a slight wardrobe change (mostly accessories) and a complete refresh in the way of props. We included two shopping days for the wardrobe stylist, and accounted for the fact that they’d attend the pre-light day and each shoot day prior to spending a day returning the wardrobe. We also included four assistant days for the wardrobe stylist to account for two days on set and two days helping out with procurement and returns. The prop styling would be more robust than the wardrobe styling, and we accounted for three shopping days for the prop stylist prior to the pre-light day, shoot days and return day. We also included two assistants for the prop stylist, both of which would attend the pre-light day, and one of which would also lend a hand with shopping and returning. At the time of estimating, the agency was still developing the exact scenarios they hoped to capture, but we figured on $600 per setup based on some of the ideas initially presented. Some scenarios would likely require less than this, but others would require more, and we felt this was an appropriate budget as a starting point.
Van Rental: In order to bring all of the props and wardrobe to the studio, we included the cost of a van rental for the week, including insurance and gas.
Studio Rental: We’d need the studio for three days to account for the pre-light day and both shoot days.
Equipment: Since the photographer would be working on two different sets, we needed to account for double the amount of equipment. We figured on $2,400/day for two sets ($1,200 each), and figured most rental houses would offer a “3 days same as a week” deal. While the shoot would be three days, we’d actually be picking up and returning the equipment before and after the shoot.
Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the time, equipment and costs for the initial edit, as well as the upload of the images to an FTP for the client to review and ultimately select the images they wanted to license.
Selects Processed for Reproduction and Delivery by Hard Drive: While the agency would be compositing in the backgrounds, the photographer was still responsible for color correcting each image and processing the portraits, and we anticipated it would take about an hour per image to bring the quality level of the images to a place that would satisfy the agency. We also included the cost to purchase a hard drive and deliver it to the agency.
Catering: We anticipated that there would be about 20 people on set including the crew, talent and agency/client representatives each shoot day, and anticipated that $50 per person would cover light breakfast and lunch each day.
Miles, Parking, Meals, Production Books, Expendables, Misc.: This was to account for additional meals on the pre-light day ($300), the cost to professionally print/bind production books ($200), mileage/parking/misc. expenses on the shoot days and pre-light day, as well as shopping/return days for the stylists ($900), and miscellaneous expendables and expenses that might arise on the shoot days ($650).
Results: The photographer was awarded the job. Additionally, the client added on 3 more shots/scenarios, which justified a fee increase of $1,000 per shot. However, the shots didn’t require much in the way of additional props/wardrobe, so the expenses weren’t impacted.
Hindsight: It can be a bit tricky pricing various durations of social media use since so often the exposure of an image on Facebook seems to just last for a day or two (at least for images posted in the “photos” section of a Facebook page as opposed to the “cover” images at the top of the page). While it was great that we could limit the duration on these images, many agencies assume that social media use should be perpetual since the images live “forever” in follower’s feeds and in the “photos” section of the brand’s page. However, it’s most certainly possible for a client to pull down images from their Facebook page, and it can be regulated the same way as any other advertising or collateral use.
If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns.
[by Gail Mooney]
The digital revolution continues to change our media landscape. We have moved way beyond just getting a video to play online. As a culture we want to receive and share content on demand, wherever we are. Mobile devices are rapidly becoming our primary tools for communicating. What does this mean for still photographers?
Mixed media content is in demand in today’s marketplace. Video, sound, time-lapse, animated Gifs and still images all play their roles in fulfilling a company’s marketing and communication needs. As electronic platforms become our primary means for messaging and delivering content, photographers should take note: your clients’ media needs are expanding. They need more content to fill an array of outlets and portals.
Many still photographers have positioned themselves as “visual asset producers” and have set up their businesses to fulfill more of their clients’ visual needs. That doesn’t mean they do it all themselves, quite the contrary. They scale up (sometimes on an as needed basis) by collaborating with video and sound pros to provide all of their clients’ media needs for today’s marketplace, rather than sending them out the door to their competition.
Some video production companies are competing with still photographers by providing high quality frame grabs from 6K cameras to fill their clients’ still image needs. They are using still images as an upsell to provide an integrated visual solution of both video and stills. They’re also monetizing the stills by redirecting the money that would have been budgeted for still photography. But, there’s no reason a still photographer can’t model his or her business the same way and take on the role of producer to fulfill the video and other multimedia needs of their clients’ needs.
A few things to keep in mind:
From new and cheaper technologies to vastly changed client needs, a lot has changed since the first still-video hybrid cameras were released. This week, our contributors focus on what’s happening in the world of motion and how they’re responding to new opportunities and demands.
I love portfolio reviews. It’s true. Believe it or not, I used to be a harsh critic of the process. Before I got involved, I raged against the system, in which photographers pay for meetings with industry professionals.
Then, I decided to listen to some advice from a few colleagues, and give it a try. It worked out very well for me, as my reviews at Review Santa Fe in 2009 and 2010 helped my work break out on the Internet, which led a host of sales and exhibitions.
Now, in my capacity as a writer here and at the New York Times Lens blog, I go to the reviews to look at work and write about it. You know this, as we’re in part 2 of my series about the Medium Festival of Photography in San Diego.
I’m pretty sure you guys enjoy looking at the work I see, because I always get great feedback on these articles. And of course, I do like to keep it entertaining, to ensure that you make it to the bottom of the piece to see the pictures. (Oh. Right. You could always skip to the photos? I suppose that’s true.)
Where am I headed? Is there a point? Yes, it’s that I’ve noticed in my last few reviews that these events are not just about people pitching. It’s more than the “what can you do for me” that you think it is. (That is, if you’ve never attended one before.)
In my experience, and perhaps it’s because I’ve been teaching for nearly 10 years, many of the artists come to the table seeking feedback. They want advice on how to get better. They ask all the right questions about where they are weak, and where they are strong.
For the artist, it’s like spending a few hundred dollars to go to grad school for the weekend. If you’re not frantically pitching someone, 20 minutes is a good amount of time for a conversation. You can learn a lot, if you’re willing to listen.
There are the big national reviews, sure, but there is now a system firmly in place with regional reviews, at festivals, all over the country. You can get some great advice, and benefit from participating in a mini-idea-cluster, without having to buy a plane ticket and rent a hotel room.
I’m off this week to photo NOLA, so we’ll have another slate of articles coming up for you in the New Year. But these festivals are everywhere. Just off the top of my head, I can throw out New York, Chicago, San Diego, Portland, New Orleans, Santa Fe, Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Denver and San Francisco.
I’m sure there are many more too. Which means that you might consider looking into what’s available in your neck of the woods. It’s hard to get genuine critical feedback from your friends and family. Certainly, it’s tough once you’re out of school.
Medium is a great example of a festival that was designed to serve its community. It brings people together to celebrate shared passion, and I think that’s something we could all use more of. Certainly, living as I do in the middle of nowhere, I sometimes get jealous of the opportunities available to my urban colleagues.
Back to the photographers, though, and let’s finish this off. As with last week, it’s in no particular order.
John DuBois was one of two artists on whom I was pretty tough. He’s a full-time software engineer, and showed me a project that I thought wasn’t quite up to snuff. Our signals got a bit crossed, as I could tell he didn’t think my criticism was quite appropriate. (I wanted more from him, and wasn’t afraid to say so.)
Then, he showed me a second project that I liked very much. It had all the elements I was craving: a personal connection, a sharp eye, and a more consistent image quality. John spends a lot of time out on the road, in his day job, and sees a series of hotels and motels where he beds down for the night. So he takes pictures to keep himself busy. These are great.
Lisa Layne Griffiths was the other photographer I tore into a bit. She showed me a series of set-up studio portraits that were a long way from ready. We broke down all the ways she could improve the project, and she knew how much work she had to do. But she was very enthusiastic about improving.
At the portfolio walk, I stopped to chat with her again. She showed me a small series that she’d made of soldiers returning home from the Iraq War. I was impressed. I like that the pictures are not exactly neutral, but neither are they sappy or overly emotional. They’re just right, and a great reminder to those of us not directly connected, that these continual wars have a real cost to far too many people in this country.
Jonas Yip is an Asian-American photographer based in Los Angeles. He spent some of his youth in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and worked on a series in Mainland China. It was difficult for him, he told me, to look like everyone else, while obviously being an outsider inside his skin.
I like the way his pictures made the smoggy sky into a positive element, by celebrating the drab color palette. And the repeating use of the people, always with their back to him, was smart as well.
Martina Shenal is a professor at the University of Arizona, and she recently spent a sabbatical in Japan. (China’s rival for power in the Pacific.) Martina and I spent a good deal of time talking about paper choices.
Many of the artists I met were using matte paper, which naturally decreases an image’s contrast, and, by extension, the illusion of three dimensionality. Pictures look flatter, and less vibrant, than they do on a lustrous, pearl, or glossy surface.
Despite the fact that Martina is a working professional, I shared with her the idea that her photographs would simply look better if she made some other choices. On screen, of course, we don’t have those problems. Several of her photos really captured that Japanese-Zen-vibe, and I’m sure you’ll like them below.
Amanda Hankerson and I met briefly at Review Santa Fe in June, and then again during Medium. We had a drink at the bar with a few friends, and despite the horrific lighting, she pulled out a Magcloud-type-publication to show me. Her project is called “The Hankersons,” and I love the premise.
Apparently, there are only Hankersons in the United States, and nowhere else. There aren’t many of them either, and as an early ancestor was a slave owner, there are African-American Hankersons, and Caucasian Hankersons. Random, no?
Amanda uses Facebook to track down her fellow Hankersons, and then photographs them. Because that’s what photographers do. I think there was a Hankerson who played for the 49ers in the 90’s, so maybe she can look into that.
Finally, we’ve got Dalton Rooney. He’s a photographer who recently moved back to Southern California, after living most of his life elsewhere. He’s been trekking around the landscape, re-familiarizing himself with the desert vernacular.
He showed me a few images that were printed rather dark, and that made for a moody viewing experience that I really enjoyed. There was almost a sense of foreboding in a landscape I normally associate with sunny-happy-joy-land. Nicely done.