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Art Producers Speak: Michael Weschler

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 06/05/2014 - 10:01am

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 Michael Weschler. His signature style remains define and he is collaborative, supporting and enhancing the creative vision of any project he participates in. His numerous awards, active participation in industry activities and charitable initiatives, coupled with his passion for mentoring are a testament to what propel photography as an industry and an art.

 

Tim Dundon, Compost Wizard, and His Rooster Tattoo Rescue Cast Amy Rose and Kids at Stone Ridge Richard Gere at The Bedford Post Inn Pre-War and Taxidermy with Porter and Hollister Hovey Brooklyn, NY Wine and Conversation Cocktail Party, Chicago Lifestyle at The Pod Hotel Liev Shreiber at Home SoHo, New York Liev Shreiber at Home, NYC Portrait of Liam Neeson at Home (#098) Portrait of Kelly Ripa in Her Dressing Room ABC Studios, NYC Dinnertime Shuffle and Family Chaos at Mealtime Couple Cooking Together, Chicago Portrait of Chuck Close in his Studio, NYC The Big Hair Girls, Big Debut Alicia Silverstone at The Farmer's Market Portrait of Alexander Wang at Balenciaga, NYC Kids in the Kitchen Father and Son Make Dry-Rub, Chicago Rob Lowe at Home During Construction, Santa Barbara

How many years have you been in business?
16 years

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Well, I started shooting portraits of my friends when I was 8 and was always the kid with the camera. Later I learned to use photography as a tool to draw better, while studying architecture in college. When I switched majors to fine art, I also started working in a gallery, a photo lab, a camera store, and that all led to assisting professional photographers and shooting for them as an associate.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
My mentor was Jerry Burchfield, who used to hang out with Garry Winogrand & Robert Heineken. He helped to create the World’s Largest Photograph, by converting an airplane hanger into a pinhole camera, so he was a historical figure. Anyway, he introduced me to lots of people in the Arts, which opened a lot of doors for me, like shooting with the 20×24 Polaroid camera. He taught me how to make Photograms, which are camera-less photographs made by painting with light on Cibachrome in complete darkness. A couple of years before he died, we took a trip to the Amazon with the same boat Captain for the National Geographic expedition, and he always encouraged me to go further with my work.

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?
Because everyone is a photographer these days, in a way, I focus on making signature images that cut through the noise. Of course, that is easier said than done, but I’m always trying to raise the bar, so that I’m creating something fresh. When I recently shot Chuck Close for Architectural Digest, I knew I couldn’t do a picture of him anything like what he might do, close-up. My portrait of him in his studio was recently selected for the Communication Arts 2014 Photography Annual, so that was very validating. Trust your gut.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
It would be easy to say that, but the constraints you find working for others offer new challenges. With personal work, an artist can be selfish, and not be so concerned about pleasing other people’s tastes. However, making a marketable image that millions of people like is quite hard, so any informed input is often helpful to get you there. In the end, photography is very collaborative, whether it is yourself and one person, place or thing before your lens, or a team of sixty people helping produce a compelling campaign image.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
It’s hard to keep things under wraps these days, and one thing often leads to another. My agents and I share our updates often, so there’s continuous conversation. While some clients’ projects can be confidential, I’m always testing and shooting outtakes whenever I can. The way we share images has changed and we’re always concerned about the value and integrity of the work. We try to unveil a new image each month, one way or another.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Buyers want to see that you can produce what they need, at a bare minimum, and then they want to see your personal work. They’re not going out on a limb for somebody who shoots a bunch of grainy black & white nudes, or just because they’re cool. You’ve got to learn how to show a balance of marketable pictures, as well.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
As my career progresses, I find myself shooting more for others, and less just for me. Because the level of production has increased, it becomes harder to let go, and just make a simple image that still fits with the larger body of work. When I’m able to just shoot and let go, I’m reminded of why I got into Photography in the first place. While these pictures often don’t become part of my portfolio, they are all part of the creative process and keep me in tune.

How often are you shooting new work?
Almost every day. Otherwise, I’m sorting out the details for the next project or the last one.

Michael Weschler Bio:

Michael Weschler started doing portraits of his friends at the age of seven with a Kodak 110 camera. After studying Architecture, he switched to Fine Art Photography at Cal State University & began showing his photographs, installations, and 20×24 Polaroids in galleries. Gaining experience assisting alongside high-profile photographers like Peggy Sirota, the larger assignments gave him the confidence to quickly rise as a renowned photographer in his own right. Known for capturing the detail, personality, and moment that make a photograph unforgettable, Michael is highly sought after to collaborate with other talented creatives. His Portrait work includes notable personalities: Richard Gere, Liam Neeson, Donatella Versace, Liev Schreiber, Don Cheadle, Isaac Mizrahi, LeAnn Rimes, Meredith Vieira, Carrie Underwood, Wolfgang Puck, John McEnroe, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus to name a few. His Editorial work has run in magazines such as GQ, Vogue, Architectural Digest, Oprah, Allure, Life, Newsweek, Stern, Men’s Health, Dwell, Food & Wine and more. He has worked collaboratively on many books and his pictures have been included in Photography textbooks, most notably, “Photography in Focus”. Michael has captured interiors for Giorgio Armani, Ferragammo, and Frederic Fekkai as well as The Gramercy Park Hotel, Grand Hyatt, Liberty Hotel & Hotel Carlton. His Portrait & Lifestyle work has also graced over 20 covers of magazines such as U.S. News & World Report, and he works frequently for such high profile newspapers as The New York Times. Recent Ad campaigns include Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Marriot, Bank of America, The National Pork Board, National Car Rental, etc. His personal work has been exhibited in art galleries and museums from LA to NY to Paris, and he is a national board member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP). Recent photography awards include Communication Arts 2014 Photography Annual Winner, American Photography 2014, 6 Honorable Mentions in The International Photography Awards and Archive’s Top 200 Ad Photographers. He’s received grants to teach Photography from The California Arts Commission, and is currently a mentor for the Young Photographers Alliance. Michael also works with 2 charities in New York City that improve the lives of foster children: (HeartgalleryNYC.org & WeDeserveLoveToo.org) Michael has a studio in New York City, but travels frequently for shoots in Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and around the world. Since he believes “getting the shot” requires fitness & movement, Michael trains as a triathlete managing to get 4 triathlons under his belt, while also enjoying tennis, hiking and yoga.

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

A Client’s “Virtual Presence Device”

ASMP's Strictly Business - Thu, 06/05/2014 - 12:01am

[by Kimberly Blom-Roemer]

Many of my clients are not in the same town or even state as the projects I photograph for them. So, for them to travel to the site the day I’m photographing it can become a huge expense. Being sensitive to their budget, I have developed a service that many clients appreciate.

After I completely stage a view, this includes lighting, furniture placement, decor placement, clean up/removal of distracting items, etc,. I place my cell phone into the same position as my camera, create a panorama of that view and send it to my client. This allows them to make any last minute tweaks, ensure the image is absolutely perfect and avoid potentially costly editing. They have the confidence that the image is exactly what they want – of course, after the “super secret post production” is performed!

Through everyday technology, I provide the confidence that, though they aren’t there on site, my clients know they will receive images that are absolutely perfect.  All from a simple cell phone, everyone wins!

Kimberly Blom-Roemer is a Gulf Coast-based architectural and aerial photographer that loves hearing clients’ reactions to being able to see the images without the hassle of travel to the site.

 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Laziness As A Remedy For Stress

ASMP's Strictly Business - Wed, 06/04/2014 - 12:01am

[by Barry Schwartz]

I’m lazy, always looking for the easier way. Problem is, the easier way takes so much work to set up it can really stress me out. It’s an engagement with neuroses (it takes a lot of work to be neurotic!).

As far as clients go, my stress is not their problem; it’s all about them, as it should be.  Here are a few tips that simplify my client’s lives, and my own:

Delivering Big Files:
Receiving big files can be a source of anxiety for clients. There are lots of ways to do this that involve disks and hard drives and third-party websites that allow you (often for free) to upload big files, give the client a link which they click on, leading to another link, maybe a login (maybe not), maybe a registration (maybe not), and then most of the time the files arrive in some form or another. Doesn’t matter how easy it seems from my end. If I can simplify that process for the client, why not? For me, that means two bits of software. (Why two? One is the backup for the other one.)

These are both for Macs: FileChute, which is free-standing, and CargoLifter, which becomes part of your email software. Both send your files into the cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, your own server, and other clouds). Both provide you a link, which you send to your clients. The client clicks on the link and the files simply download to their computer with that one click. It’s a beautiful thing.

Easy T&C:
Bidding and negotiating are part of any entrepreneur’s gig. To reduce my own stress, my contracts are templates, including the terms & conditions, and the templates are bigger and more comprehensive than they need to be.

O man, you may say, that’s a drag… The deal is this: it’s far easier to take things away (like signature lines) than to add them. In the course of a few minutes, my contract template becomes an estimate, including removing language that does not apply to the type of project I’m bidding. If I get the job, I add things back (like signature lines) by copying-and-pasting from the original template. There are lots of software programs that do this kind of work, but I’m pretty comfortable with Word, so no biggie. And not much stress involved (discounting the ever-present sensation that I’m bidding too low or too high – but now we’re talking about my neuroses, and I’ve already addressed that).

Batch Editing:
Doing any kind of photography, Lightroom is my best friend. This should be no surprise: it is designed to be my BFF by Adobe because they spend so much time listening to what their own clients, photographers, need. (What a concept! Could we pass this gem of business logic on to my cable company?) Lightroom is designed to enable you to intuitively automate a remarkable number of processes while still producing high-quality work. Like, wow.

The unfortunate side-effect is I now feel more comfortable taking way more photos than I used to because it’s so much easier to edit large numbers of images. (Seems counterintuitive for a lazy person; perhaps I should write Adobe and ask them to back off making the software so good.) Clients love getting all those images to choose from, they feel like they get something extra every project. It is all about them.

When all my little efficiencies are all working smoothly, I save so much time being lazy that I get do all the other things that can’t be automated, like eating, sleeping, and walking the dog. So maybe I’ll hold off on calling Adobe on account of my dog; he doesn’t really care that much about software, anyway, and walking him always makes me less stressed.

Barry Schwartz is a photographer, writer, and designer in Los Angeles who tries to remember, like his dog, that life is not really about software, it’s about what the software makes possible.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Weekly Edit: Women’s Health – Jamie Chung

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 06/03/2014 - 10:17am

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Women’s Health

Creative Director: Theresa Griggs
Director of Photography: Sarah Rozen
Deputy Director of Photography: Freyda Tavin
Prop Stylist: Elizabeth Press
Photographer: Jamie Chung

Heidi: What specifically about Jamie’s work made you choose him for this project?
Freyda: I’m a huge fan of Jamie’s work. He can take an ordinary object and transform it into a work of art. His photos are deceptively simple and complex at the same time. In this case the subject matter wasn’t unique but the editor’s and writer’s take were and I wanted the photos to reflect that.

Can you take me through the creative process for this feature?
The process: Myself, Sarah and two art directors met with the story editor who went over, at that point, the story outline and any specific points she wanted to come through in the piece. We all brainstormed and came up with a few ideas. I talked to Jamie about it and he had more than a few great ideas of his own and sketched them out. From there Jamie and I both did some major drug research and then I brought Elizabeth Press, the prop stylist into the process.

I enjoyed the notes of drug addiction in the photos, what material did you use for the “sugar” in razor shot?
She found the perfect colored sugar for the blade shot so to answer your question that really is sugar. Jamie was set on using a glass spoon which was a great choice but we did lose one in the heating process. I never thought I’d want a razor blade hanging in my living room but it is just such a beautiful photo as are the rock candy and spoon. They’re the perfect visual interpretation of the story title, “Sweet and Vicious”.

Heidi: What’s your creative process like?
Jamie: I’m very curious in general, always watching, reading or listening to something. Making an effort to be conscious of my surroundings helps a great deal- (actually- I just made a picture inspired by a Chinese restaurant’s fish tank..!) I also do journaling, sensory deprivation- aka extended showering, and sketching.

You seem to work a lot with metaphors, what inspires your word play and how does that process unfold?
These photographs were made to accompany a story about the addictive/ harmful effects of sugar. And that’s where the sugar as addictive substance concept comes in. Most photography I am currently working on can be divided in three modes. One being product still life where I’m mainly focused on presenting and creating a mood around an object. The second is reportage, I’m very interested in artifacts. The other is a more illustrative kind of work that’s based on a concept or story. I approach these images much like a copywriter would. Looking for the succinct way of describing something in a powerful one or two word answer, this becomes a jumping off point for brainstorming. Also it was a great experience working with Freya, she gave me a balance of support and freedom to interpret this story.

What was the biggest challenge for the shoot?
One challenge in interpreting this concept was approaching the drug/substance metaphor without being to cheeky/ going over the top. For me it’s fascinating when a picture can say more by showing less. Another was creating a feeling of danger and seduction without being overly dark or gloomy (here we used color to strike a balance).

How did you get your start in photography?
I went to Parson’s in NYC and assisted several different photographers with various styles. Still life seemed to resonate with me mainly because I enjoy experimenting in the studio and the process overall.

Categories: Business

Stuart Franklin: how I photographed Tiananmen Square and ‘tank man’

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 06/03/2014 - 10:05am

That image has now become so iconic – but what drove its impact was the fact that people had seen the man standing in front of the tanks on TV, as well as footage of the violent crackdown the night before. The still photographs that a few of us took of that ‘tank man’ scene seemed unremarkable to me, because I was so far away on that balcony.

via Art and design | theguardian.com.

Categories: Business

Time is Money

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 06/03/2014 - 12:01am

[by Todd Joyce]

One of my clients is a large law firm of about 160 lawyers. Their attorneys bill a minimum of $250 an hour in 6 minute increments. When we started the relationship, they were clear that we needed to be efficient with their time – wasting their attorneys’ time, cost the firm money. The most telling comment from the client?  “If I can get my lawyers to come for the shoot.”

They wanted a portrait of each of their lawyers and periodically, they would need groups of lawyers for awards they had won, ads featuring certain specialties, etc.  When these needs arose, some lawyers would be out of the office plus the group shots took so long that many lawyers wouldn’t commit the time – time that they could be billing – to come for the shoot.  It’s easy to do the math: 30 minutes with 10 lawyers cost at least $1250 in billings… Ouch.

Their concern wasn’t what I was charging, it was what they weren’t charging. Time was money to them.

I suggested we photograph each lawyer standing on white in various poses: facing 1/4 right, straight on and 1/4 left, so that we could composite anyone in any size group as needed.  We set it up to be as efficient as possible. Each lawyer came to an area at their firm to have a portrait done, then stepped over to be photographed on white before leaving.

Now, when a need arises, the client sends me a list of who needs to be in the shot and I composite them together in a custom group. 6, 8, 10, 12. it doesn’t matter. I select a pose that works within the grouping. It saves them time and money and I bill for composite time. They love it, since it’s so easy, takes no lawyer billing time and the grouping combinations are almost infinite. Here is a sample of the composite.

Todd Joyce captures people to help his clients sell things. See his new work at http://joycephotography.com

 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Pricing & Negotiating: Architectural Shots For Ad Agency Portfolio

A Photo Editor's Blog - Mon, 06/02/2014 - 9:14am

by Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Architectural shots of a locally-run ad campaign

Licensing: North American Collateral and Publicity use of all images captured in perpetuity

Location: A downtown cityscape and airport

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: A local architectural specialist

Agency: A southern branch of a large NYC-based ad agency

Client: n/a

An art buyer from a large ad agency reached out to one of our photographers, interested in hiring him to shoot two out-of-home (OOH) advertising placements (billboards and transit posters). The ads had just been posted; one was a single three dimensional billboard in a downtown cityscape environment, the other was a series of posters and back-lit displays inside the local airport, both promoting the same client. It’s not unusual for an agency or it’s client to request a shoot to document ads for press releases, awards submissions and/or their portfolios. In this case, the client wasn’t commissioning the shoot, so the licensing would be conveyed directly to the agency.

To take full advantage of the day, the photographer would need to shoot the cityscape billboard in the early morning and late afternoon light, and the interior shots at the airport in the middle of the day while the sun was high. It would definitely be a full day shoot. Other than the long day, the shoot was pretty straight forward. The local film office didn’t require a permit because it was only the photographer, a tripod and one assistant. The agency would be providing the necessary escort and access at the airport, so the prep time would be minimal.

Here’s the estimate:

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The licensing was fairly minimal, however we needed to grant perpetual use to account for the collateral use of the images in the agency’s portfolio. This is an instance in which the photographer’s time is worth about as much as the fairly limited licensing, and as a result has more weight in the calculation of the overall value. Although the license was perpetual, any use beyond the first year of awards submissions would be minimal and presumably taper off pretty quickly. It seems unlikely that the agency would want to promote work in their portfolio that was more than a few years old, which limits the value a bit. Based on the number of activations, intended use and pricing from previous projects of this nature, I arrived at 4500.00 for the creative/licensing fee. Not surprisingly, this rate was a bit lower than the other pricing resources recommended, which don’t take into account the subtleties of the project, but nevertheless provide a solid point of reference. Blinkbid suggested 900.00/image/year and Corbis priced comparable use at 1300/image for the first year.

Assistant Day: The photographer would have been able to handle the shoot solo from a gear perspective, however he wanted an assistant to drop him off for the cityscape shots, in the event that parking proved to be difficult to find.

Equipment: This covered the one day rental costs for a DSLR, a backup DSLR, tripod and a few specialty lenses, all of which the photographer owned and would be renting to the production.

File Transfer: The agency insisted that raw image be delivered via hard drive. This covered the time and cost necessary to dump the images and ship out a hard drive. It’s pretty unusual for an architectural photographer (or any photographer for that matter) to provide unprocessed files, but due to the nature of the project, the photographer was OK with it.

Insurance: We included the cost of providing a certificate of insurance for the airport portion of the shoot. The property management company required standard business liability insurance to shoot on premises.

Miles, Parking, Shipping, Meals, FTP, and Misc: This covered the basic out of pocket expenses the photographer would accrue between mileage, FTP costs, lunch for him and his assistant on the shoot day, and any other miscellaneous expenses that may arise.

Housekeeping (see the project description): I noted all of the production elements the client would be providing: processing, necessary location access, escorts and releases to be provided and secured by agency

Results, Hindsight and Feedback: The photographer was awarded the project and shot it a few days later.

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

Categories: Business

First, Inspect The Shed

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 06/02/2014 - 12:03am

[by Paul Oemig]

As creative professionals, we are all farmers. We plan, we labor in cycles, and weather willing, we harvest. To help us tend to our fields, we rely on various tools and the experience of our fellow countrymen to not only help save us effort but to grow better produce.

But just like the farmer with his shed of tools, it’s imperative we schedule time to inspect our shed to see whether the tools and methods we are using are still sharp and in good working order. There’s few things worse than laboring to cut something with a dull blade — or cutting yourself in the process.

So first make it a habit to routinely examine your toolshed (I’ve found a quarterly checkpoint works well for me) by taking an inventory, reflecting on what methods worked well and what areas need an overhaul, and by making a list of questions to ask colleagues. Performing such an evaluation is especially critical before someone stops by trying to sell you a new tool. And regardless of your inspection time, be quick to discard tools you’ve found faulty. Doing so you’ll avoid a barn full of clutter, tripping hazards and time lost in the field.

Once your storehouse has been pruned, here are some simple, time-honored tips:

Make lists: Keep organized, up-to-date lists that you can see visually. By being quick to capture to-do’s, especially the important ones, you won’t accidentally forget a commitment. I regularly use Tuexduex for its well-designed interface, and its ability to set recurring to-do’s and sync with the cloud.

Turn off notifications: Nothing kills focus like the ping of an email or text. Turn off your notifications and only check your email and social media accounts a couple of times throughout the day. Generally I do so just before noon and again around 3:00 PM.

Carry a notebook and pen: Sometimes your phone will run out of power (or you won’t want the potential distraction of a phone), or you will need to sketch something for a project, or a client will need a pen. Everywhere I go I carry a pen and a small pocket notebook; it helps alleviate the anxiety of forgetfulness.

Paul Oemig is a self-taught food photographer currently “farming” in the Midwest. He welcomes your comments and toolshed stories at paul@pauloemig.com or @pauloemig.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Labor Saving Tools & Tricks

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 06/02/2014 - 12:01am

I don’t know a single photographer who isn’t always insanely busy.  When we have clients, we’re hopping to fulfill their needs and when we don’t have clients, we’re hopping even harder to land them.  This week, our contributors share some tips and tricks that will help you catch your breath.  ~Judy Herrmann, Editor

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

This Week In Photography Books: Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs

A Photo Editor's Blog - Fri, 05/30/2014 - 9:18am

by Jonathan Blaustein

My wife got me hooked on nature shows. Or, I should say, the “Nature” show on PBS. Is anything more predictable than a liberal artist extolling the virtues of Public Television?

I doubt it.

The other night, we were watching the episode about swarm behavior in the animal kingdom. Birds, fish, and mostly insects. They somehow develop a communication style that allows them to move in tandem. Thousands, Millions, Billions, or even Trillions at a time.

In all my years, it was one of the strangest things I’ve seen. Especially the segments on locusts and cicadas. My wife turned to me and said, “Who needs aliens when you’ve got those bastards cruising around the planet?” (Or something to that effect.)

In fairness, it’s a sentiment she’s said before. Some creatures are so shocking to behold that one wonders how anything Extra-Terrestrial could possibly compete. Watching those cicadas hatch, after spending 17 years beneath the Earth, is something I won’t soon forget. (Nor when they shed their hardened bodies for fresh new ones. OMFG.)

They looked so much like the creature in Ridley Scott’s “Alien,” he must have been thinking about freaky cicadas when he designed his vile monster. I’m certain.

It made me think of the “thought experiment” in which we imagine what a real Alien might think of our world. Would a car seem more valuable than a bowl of noodles? Would she/he be able to smell farts, flowers, or fabric softener? Would it wear clothes that need washing, or contain sexual organs that require satisfaction?

All these questions came to mind when I looked at “Light of Other Days,” a new soft-cover book by Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs. (Published by Kodoji Press.) I’ll be honest with you: the pictures in the book don’t make much sense on their own. It might give you a headache trying to sort it all out.

The photos are exclusively black and white, and appear to have been made in a studio. (Which the end notes confirm.) It opens with a couple of images that suggest galaxies, or celestial bodies light years away.

But then, it moves away from blatant space-type-references. Sculptures that appear to have been mashed together by an angry and confused deity. People with fingers for torso-bottoms. Furry lightbulbs. Hollowed-out books and drills spinning ’til Infinity. Like I said, weird shit.

The entire time I perused, I kept thinking everything looked like an Alien. It was communicated to me via the hive-mind, as none of the photographs, beyond 1 and 2, were explicit in their references.

After the photos, I began to read the closing story, “The Eighteenth Voyage,” by Stanislav Lem, translated from Polish. Of course, it was narrated by a scientist who claimed he had created the Universe. Literally.

I chuckled, impressed these ideas appeared in my mind before the words confirmed it. Like the Army ants in that PBS doc, who efficiently decapitated a giant praying mantis by working together, these artists had collectively gotten inside my head.

As I said in the article about Francis Alÿs, sometimes art can burrow beneath the surface, subvert the consciousness, and implant ideas below. That happened here.

I never know which of these books you’ll want to buy. Hell, I don’t even know who “you” are. But I’ll keep writing about things I find interesting, or fascinating, or downright bizarre. And, hopefully, we’ll all learn a thing or two along the way.

Bottom Line: This is one, trippy-ass, inter-stellar photobook

To Purchase “Light of Other Days” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

Categories: Business

I Fail a Lot

ASMP's Strictly Business - Fri, 05/30/2014 - 12:01am

[by Todd Joyce]

This isn’t a confession. There isn’t enough time in the day to address all of my issues. Despite all of my failings, I’m proud to say that I put myself in situations where I expect to fail. Yes, in a way, I try to fail. You might say that I’m very successful at failing too.

Ask yourself about the lessons you’ve learned in life. The biggest lessons are usually learned from failures. And, many breakthroughs in history are preceded by many many failures. Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Honda, known for it’s innovation, has a great philosophy that is well stated in the short documentary Failure: The Secret to Success.  They want their engineers to fail in big ways to help them learn and to grow. After all, what do you learn from success?

Creativity flourishes with parameters and under pressure. If you have a blank canvas, with no limits, you may sit and stare at it. If you are given a canvas, three colors, asked to visually define passion and then given a time limit, you will likely find a way to create. Doctors in Emergency Rooms and in field hospitals are credited with many inventions and innovative techniques, born out of situational pressure or desperation. If they had never been under the stress of a life or death situation, they may have never thought of the solutions they developed. And, doctors regularly make a practice of peer review of their failures. They present their cases, and their care actions are questioned and discussed, so that they learn and evolve to be better doctors. That practice is called an M&M Conference -  these reviews are without punitive action and are intended to improve patient care through modifying practice or policy. It’s learning without the fear of retribution.

Taking creative chances for a photographer would rarely, if ever, be a life or death consequence, so there is likely no fear of hurting anyone. So why not take risks? Of course there should be limits to taking risks on a client driven photographic assignment. If a client is expecting proven results, then you may take risks, but they should be controlled, calculated risks. Use your own time for the wild huge risks that may yield complete and utter failures. I mean that. Regularly, experiment on your own time to learn to be a better photographer/videographer/sound/illustrator/talker/thinker/marketer/technician/organizer/teacher/listener/creator. Putting yourself into near impossible situations can help you grow in ways you would never discover in a more comfortable situation.

A few months ago, I decided to undertake a personal project to photograph environmental portraits, every day, for 30 days. Part of the challenge was also to edit and produce the final images the same day. Some days, there were many portraits and other days, just one. In total, I photographed 52 people. Some days, I had clients (that did not count toward my goals) so I shot early or late in the day. I committed myself completely and ran with it. Some days were very successful, but I learned the most from the days that were not – the days where I was unprepared, the days when I had not done my research or wasn’t of the best mind to be creative. The experience was incredibly stimulating to my creative and organizational process and there are many images from the series that are part of my portfolio… however, the lessons that came from my failures mean more to me than my successes. I’m a better photographer due to my failings.

I highly suggest undertaking your own creative challenge, whatever it is. Don’t make it easy. It’s not a challenge if it’s not hard. And, putting yourself under pressure to create, will keep you fresh and will help build your creative skills. Expect to fail several times. If you’re not failing, you’re not pushing your limits. Embrace the failures and learn from them. If possible, do a M&M conference with peers as you go or when it’s all done. Embrace their feedback and learn from everything you experience and hear. Force yourself to grow.

Todd’s 30 day portrait project can be seen here.

 

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