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The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.
In other words, we have what we have. If the sun shines on a patch of desert, and there are no solar panels to collect the energy, it will be absorbed into the dirt.
I recently read that if we burn all the fossil fuels currently embedded within the Earth, seas will rise by 200 feet. Cities, at least those on coasts, will be obliterated.
No matter how many times these scary stats are bandied about the Interverse, so little seems to change. Today, South Carolina is under water. Tomorrow, perhaps California will be aflame.
So few of us do anything potent with such information. Our brains, small as they are, focus on the day to day. Putting food on the table. Paying the rent or mortgage. Buying some beer at the corner store.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
But then, some Art tries to put it in our face, like Christopher Nolan’s flawed but ambitious “Interstellar,” which pre-visualizes an Earth that no longer produces food for its inhabitants.
Is such a future imminent? I certainly hope not.
But sometimes, I look at a photo book, and it does make me wonder. Even if that’s not the “subject” of an artist’s work, the visual impact kicks off my imagination, and I begin to worry.
We’re not being hypothetical today, though. (We seldom are.) I just put down “Prophet,” by the Belgian artist Geert Goiris, published by ROMA, and I’m about ready to hide under my white kitchen table and pray for the best.
Not too long ago, I gave away the secret to the kind of work that will often provoke a review. Abstracted, edgy, metaphorical, referential without being literal. Artsy, if you will.
And this book hits that sweet spot for sure.
No words. No obvious connection between images, but the themes are there if you’re willing to look. Masks. Ice. People suited up for an eternal winter? Asteroid-like objects occupying lawns, or the center of a home.
Portraits encased in glass. Snowscapes rendered in night-vision-green, or eerie, screen-glow-blue. Greasy chicken feet and necks. A bottle of water, caught in the exact tipping point between standing and prone. (Tipping point, get it?)
These pictures are cool as hell. Rarely have I seen color and B&W images mixed together this well. And the end notes state that the work was shown at Foam in Amsterdam earlier this year, which comes as no surprise to me. (Though I do wonder about the music-accompanied-slideshow that happened in Paris, which is also mentioned.)
A title page, at the end, gives us hints, like “Breach,” “The Future,” “Black Friday,” “Forecast,” and “Torrent.”
Are the end times ahead? I sure hope not. I’ve got two young children, and I’d feel like quite the asshole if I were a part of a generation that left them to rot.
But we can’t know what comes next. That’s just a part of the deal we accepted when we emerged from the birth canal. And while it might not have been Geert Goiris’s intention to put me in such a mood today, his pictures did it just the same.
Bottom Line: Edgy, eerie pictures of the world we inhabit- for now.
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[by Rhea Anna]
The following case study is excerpted from The Ultimate Tethering Guide.
I love to shoot tethered whenever I can. I believe clients are more engaged in the process when they are able to see what’s going on via the big screen. I find it’s the most successful way to create real collaboration on set. There are a couple of different ways I’ll shoot tethered, depending upon the environment and the demands of the production.
In the Studio
In the studio or in more controlled environments where the camera and computer will not move much, I will sometimes shoot with the laptop on a Tether Table using a wired connection. This way, the computer can be anywhere that’s comfortable for the client and the images transfer as fast as possible directly from camera to the computer. There’s almost no delay between firing the shutter and seeing the images on screen.
The one issue here is the cable. It can get yanked out of the camera port easily, or wiggle loose just enough to break the physical connection and then the software often needs to be restarted before it will recognize the camera connection again.
One tool that does help with this problem is the Jerk- Stopper Camera Support from Tether Tools. It helps minimize the movement of the cord and can prevent it from inadvertently coming unplugged. They also make a version for the computer end, which is somewhat less critical, but it helps make sure that the USB cord isn’t going to come unplugged by accident.
The most important piece of equipment for wired tethered photography is the cord itself. It’s really worth the extra effort to get a good quality, extra-long tethering cable that has plated connections, coatings to reduce signal noise, and a core that provides the best possible transmission.
Out of the Studio
With all of that said, I shoot out on location almost all the time. I have tried (many, many times) the scenario above, but that workflow isn’t always optimal for me in the field. Being connected by cables to a laptop was too limiting for my shooting style.
I searched for quite some time for a reliable wireless tethering system and finally landed on the CamRanger Wireless Tethering System. The CamRanger is a small device that plugs into the camera’s USB terminal and then can sit in the hot shoe or any- where you care to put it within range of the cord that connects it.
The CamRanger creates its own network and wirelessly transmits the images (JPEG or RAW) via the CamRanger software. This allows you to not only monitor the images, but also control the camera (change ISO, shutter speed and f-stop) as well as fire the shutter. You can also watch Live View on your computer monitor. The images are saved to the CF or SD card as well as the computer’s hard drive (some camera models) at the same time. So, there’s no need to transfer the images after the shoot (depending on your camera model).
I import all of my work into Adobe Lightroom, so when shooting with the CamRanger and CamRanger software, I like to use the Auto Import feature of Lightroom. This way we’re ingesting the images into Lightroom right away, making selections and flagging our favorites right there at the shoot. Doing this on set takes a big step out of the post processing workflow and I find it to be a great time saver.
There is one big drawback with this system: lag time. The images do not appear instantaneously; there’s a delay of 15-30 seconds or more while the RAW images fly into the computer. The faster you shoot, the longer you wait. I might have already made changes to lighting or composition by the time the client is responding to the images on screen from a minute or two ago. The delay takes some getting used to, but I think it’s a very worthwhile trade-off for what you gain in the process. And just think, not so long ago we used to have to wait two minutes for every Polaroid to process before we could get client feedback!
Rhea Anna shoots narrative based, conceptual lifestyle stories in the still frame and in motion. Rhea’s lifestyle imagery is used by businesses and brands that inspire. For the rest of the case study, including details on wireless tethering to a tablet and backing up during tethering download The Ultimate Tethering Guide.
As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects. A personal project is the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director/photo editor or graphic designer. This column features the personal projects of photographers who were nominated in LeBook’s Connections. http://www.lebook.com/timtadder
Today’s featured photographer is: Tim Tadder
How long have you been shooting?
I spent 4 years as a photojournalist before entering the advertising world in 2005
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Both. And, it’s complicated. My father was a professional photographer in Baltimore so I grew up around the craft. During my 5-year stint as a high school teacher I picked up a camera as a hobby during my vacations. In 1999 I left teaching and started freelancing at the local newspaper. After two years grinding doing community news I went to graduate school for photojournalism at Ohio University. That lead me to California and eventually to the advertising industry.
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
The Las Muertas projects was inspired by the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos.
Two things came into play that inspired this project. First and foremost a wild fire burned homes and land very close (across the street) from our studio. It turned the landscape into this apocalyptic wasteland that I would pass daily. There was incredible beauty in the destruction, I knew I wanted to feature it, I was not sure how.
Then Halloween happened, and I saw people in costume walking the sidewalks past this barren landscape and a light bulb turned on. Being in Southern California, the Dia De Los Muertos holiday is very much an influence and the landscape was the perfect setting for featuring the subject matter.
Dia De Los Muertos is on November 2nd each year and its is a day in Mexican culture where the dead are remembered and celebrated. It is said that on that day the dead are able to walk through purgatory and visit their earthly haunts. The wildfire destruction to me, represented this purgatory. So that stage was set, and the rest of the project seemed to come together from there.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
This was just a one day shoot followed up with a couple of days of postproduction. This is concept based not documentary so the time invested is more in the conceptualizing and pre/post production. Less time shooting more time planning and refining.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
That varies, there are things I spend a lot of time on that never work and something’s I spend a few days on that work really well. Time for me never determines the success of the project, because my projects don’t require months and months. I don’t have that kind of personal time to invest in my work. Between being a husband, father, and running a business I feel that my days of long-term projects are on hold. I find that the projects I can do are shorter an well thought out, which affords me the ability to keep my priorities central and my life balanced.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I don’t agree with this point of view. I feel that my personal work should be my portfolio. That’s who I am as a visual communicator. My work is personal, and I pour my soul into every job I do, so if there is a disconnect between my personal work and my portfolio, I feel that my voice will be inauthentic. I want to inspire creative’s with my vision and my personal work is the vehicle.
I get more projects based off my personal work than any other images. Literally we get assignments that the creative is my personal work with the logo. Clients and agencies sometimes fall in love with the visuals and they want to contract it for their own messaging. That’s what drives my revenue, the more personal projects I do the more commercial projects I get. It’s a simple recipe that works.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I have never posted them on Reddit or Tumblr, but others have. Its crazy but the moment I release a new project it gets picked up and spread around the web quite quickly. If it hits Reddit, then game on, and the viral thing happens. We have enjoyed the success of some really powerful viral exposure, which always leads to magazine articles, TV interviews, and a zillion blog posts. Ultimately this leads to commercial exposure and success. The Las Muertas series has been featured around the world on tons of blogs and media outlets. Its been extremely well received in Mexico, and we are currently bidding a project based on this creative for a beer company. I am most proud that the Mexican audience likes the work.
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Yes see above. Las Muertas, when googled turns up tons and tons of results from news outlets and blogs around the world.
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes we use them for mailers and source book ads, as well as post on creative sites like Behance.net We share them with our audience every chance we get.
Las Muertas is a celebration of the Mexican holiday Dia De Los Muertos or “Day of the Dead.” Inspired by the beautiful designs and colors of the November 2nd festival, I set out to pay homage to the beauty of the tradition but to also put an environmental connection to the dead and their journey. This project was a collaboration between talented artists that believed in the concept and lent their time and passion to make it a success. The beautiful head dresses were made by the celebrated Dia De Los Muertos sculpture artist Krisztianna and the incredible wardrobe provided by stylist Julia Reeser.
Tim Tadder is a Southern California based creative photographer and director with a strong sport and conceptual portfolio. Since 2012 Tim Tadder has published multiple personal projects that have enjoyed viral success. The most wildly acclaimed “Water Wigs” received over 1 million unique views within the first 24 hours of publication.
Tadder is often hired to produce images and motion projects with either a sport thematic or a conceptual visual challenge. Recent clients include, Mercedes Benz, Reebok, NFL, New Era, McDonalds, Merck, Capri Sun, Modelo, Tecate, Bud Light, Avia, WD-40, Kia, Proctor and Gamble, Walmart
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.
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While wired technology currently offers more robust tethering support, wireless tethering has one huge advantage – no wires to trip over, get tangled up in or constrain the photographer’s movement.
The following chart provides a detailed comparison of the other capabilities of wireless tethering as compared to wired tethering:
|Wired Tethering Benefits||Achievable via Wireless|
|View images on a large monitor as you shoot||Yes|
|Instantly see images at full resolution||Yes*|
|*If JPEG files are transmitted, they will be full resolution but some data will be lost due to compression|
|Check critical focus, composition, styling, etc.||Yes|
|Adjust camera settings more quickly and easily||Yes|
|Control camera settings and remote trigger from connected device||Yes|
|Share images with art director/client on site or remotely||Yes|
|Collaborate more effectively with assistants, stylists and subjects||Yes|
|Tag, rate, and compare images in your native catalogue software||NO|
|Share images on multiple devices||Yes|
|Back Up Raw Files to hard-drive while shooting||Yes|
|Port Images to editing computer via hard drive||NO|
|Implement Raid System during shoot||NO|
|Capture directly into a RAW processor||NO|
|Capture and save images (RAW) into a folder||Depends*|
|*Depends whether images are sent to a personal device or computer and the App or software to which the wireless transmitter transfers images.|
Download The Ultimate Tethering Guide for in-depth instructions on setting up both wired and wireless tethering workflows using dSLRs and medium format cameras including:
Jonathan Blaustein: How do you define great? What motivates you? What do you think is interesting?
Dewi Lewis: It’s almost indefinable, isn’t it? For me, great work is work that excites me. If I see something that I feel is fresh, and has something to say, I think that’s quite important to me, rather than photographers just producing aesthetically pleasing images.
What encourages me to publish something is when I’m surprised and exhilarated by it. It’s as simple as that, really.
JB: When I think about your program, the words “Social Documentary” come into my mind. Do you think that’s a fair description?
DL: There are a number of the books that certainly come under that category. But there are also some that really defy it, I suppose. Some are firmly placed within a “Photography as Art” environment.
But I would say I’m more likely to respond to documentary work than conceptual or abstract work.
Taking it forward a bit, I’ve done many landscape books over the years, but usually those landscapes are saying something about the social or human condition. For me, they need to have that level, otherwise they’re not very interesting.
JB: We might call it cultural criticism?
DL: Yeah. Essentially. I’m looking for projects that say something about our culture as it’s lived today.
There are books we’ve done that have a more historical perspective to them. But essentially I’m really looking at what’s happening in a period that you could bracket by two or three years, at any time.
I’m really interested in the human aspect. Why do people do the things they do? And it’s probably no more complicated than that, actually.
JB: That was the impression that I got. And you find projects by word of mouth, I’m sure. You work with some artists multiple times, like Phil Toledano.
And you look at work at portfolio reviews. But I also noticed on your website that you do accept unsolicited submissions, if people follow a certain set of rules.
DL: Yeah, we get recommendations from other photographers. We work with people we’ve worked with before. But we also have 2 open submissions each year. Generally, one in May, and one in November. Anyone can send in work.
What I don’t like, and what is a real problem, is people sending through Dropbox. Links, and all the rest, throughout the year.
I really do like to focus it down to these two periods. It’s surprising. Most of the work that comes in from open submissions is not that interesting, I have to admit. But you do find things you’ve never come across before. Photographers who are totally unknown. And that’s kind of interesting.
We do about 20 books a year, and I would say it’s pretty rare to get more than 1, maximum 2 from open submissions in a year.
JB: Your website was almost shockingly honest. I’ve never done this before, but I want to read back to you some text from the site. If you’ll allow.
You said, “We’re increasingly finding that we can only publish established, international names, projects with major exhibitions, or those that come with sufficient funding to underwrite the risk. There are now only very few first books that we’re able to do with emerging photographers.”
JB: That’s naked honesty right there. And that has to be a function of all of the increased competition that we were talking about 15 minutes ago, no?
DL: Not really. When I started in publishing, one of the reasons there were very few photography publishers was that photography books simply didn’t make money. Or were very marginal.
There were people such as Aperture, but they were doing it by raising funds as a charity. Many of the other photo books were either mega-names, like Ansel Adams or Cartier-Bresson, or you would find that a mainstream publisher would publish one or two photo books, and then they would drop them.
They were trying them, finding they weren’t financially successful, and then moving on to something else.
It’s never been easy, financially. When I started in the Cornerhouse days, the arts center was a registered charity, so it was much easier to access public funding for books. A number were funded from public sources.
When I went independent, most of those sources dried up. It was a matter of how do we finance books? For the first 10 years, I had to finance them myself. The only way to do that was to do other work, so I did consultancy, and put that money into the books.
We developed it slowly like that. Then, about 10 years ago, there was a switch when it became apparent that increasingly, other publishers were expecting photographers to at least partially fund books.
That switch has just developed exponentially, really.
When we started, 100% was funded by us. Now, it’s generally no more than 50 to 60 %. Some books we totally fund, others we fund partially, and then others, we have to have totally funded. It’s that balance that helps to keep us going.
JB: In your opinion, why has there never been a significant demand in the marketplace? Why don’t they make money?
DL: It’s misleading, in a way, because you have to look at all forms of book publishing. And indeed music publishing. If you look at new fiction, for example, it’s not unusual for novels by unknown writers just to sell in the few hundreds.
DL: They don’t make any money. It’s always that balance where a mainstream publisher will decide on taking a risk on certain titles, to see whether they can make them work. We did publish fiction for a while, because my degree with in English, not photography.
We were very successful in getting various awards, but we weren’t very successful in terms of sales. When I started doing fiction, you could get about 1000 copies of advanced orders into the shops. We stopped when those advanced orders had dropped to about 200.
We were no different than any other publisher. The book shops just stopped taking a risk on new fiction.
Back to photo books, there are big sellers. The last Salgado, I know that well over 100,000 copies have been sold. Helmut Newton’s last book was also probably well over 100,000. However, most photo books, these days, are produced in runs of between 500-2000 copies.
It’s partly that the book shops don’t really support visual books very much. If you take that forward, if you’ve got a limited amount of space in a book shop, and you’re trying to generate revenue from it, you put onto those book shelves the things that you know will sell.
You don’t put on photo books when you can put on best-selling novels, or how-to manuals and guidebooks. It’s very difficult to get the level of distribution that’s necessary to pump up those physical numbers.
JB: If you’re working with established artists with a collector base and a standing in the marketplace, like Martin Parr, with whom you’ve worked before, and you know the books will sell you can go ahead and lay out those funds for publication and distribution.
If you have no way of knowing if the books will sell, you’ll shift that risk onto the photographer. And for that, they get the benefit of your expertise, design team, and distribution network.
Is that the way it works?
DL: It’s more or less the way it works. Obviously, we don’t fear too much when we’re doing a Martin Parr book. It doesn’t mean they’ll sell in enormous numbers, but we’re pretty confident that we’ll at least break even, or make a small profit, and generally do a lot better than that.
But if you look at work by an emerging photographer, you’ve got to realize it’s not only the production cost of the book. We also have other direct costs, for example, my attendance on press to supervise the printing.
Then we have the issue of getting out press copies, which we generally do on a worldwide basis. On a dollars basis, that’s between $1500-2000. Attendance on press will be another $1500. This is just covering expenses, not getting any payment for the time involved.
Even if you have a book which is funded in terms of production costs, we would generally expect it to cost us anything from $4000-5000 to launch it.
JB: And books are heavy objects, and you need to ship them to stores around the world.
DL: Yeah, that’s the next factor.
JB: Of course.
DL: It’s not usually understood that for most bookshops, books are sold on a “sale or return” basis. For Barnes and Noble, for example, you’re not actually selling the book to them. You’re lending it to them.
If they sell it, you get paid, if they don’t, it gets sent back to you.
Essentially, you’re covering the cost of sending the books out, they can be sent back to you, and your distributor will then charge you a cost for actually handling it.
JB: Oh my goodness.
DL: You can actually lose money on certain books. Even above the cost of production.
JB: Let me read you the next quote from your website, as we set it up perfectly: “Please also remember that we must be able to sell the books that we publish. Please be realistic, when assessing your project, and don’t waste your or our time by sending proposals which have only a limited commercial appeal. Just because all your friends say it would make a great book doesn’t mean that anyone would buy it.”
JB: Yowzers. It’s like a kidney punch. You’re taking the air out of people’s false expectations.
DL: It doesn’t work though, Jonathan.
JB: It doesn’t work?
DL: They still send them in.
JB: You’re asking people to be honest with themselves about their dreams, which is very difficult to do.
But what do people buy? That’s where I wanted to head. You’re telling people that you have a sense of what commercial appeal is. Within the market that does exist, of people that do buy photo books, outside of a big name, how do you know what people will buy? When do you feel comfortable?
DL: Essentially, you never know, so you have to go on your own judgement. You go on the basis of belief in a project. Sometimes, I ignore the commercial reality.
One of our big successes last year was Laia Abril’s book “The Epilogue.” Now, that’s the story of a girl dying from bulimia, and the impact on her family. If you just put that in a sentence, and emailed me saying you had this great book project, my instant reaction would be, “How on Earth can I sell it?”
But I was so convinced by the photographer, by the way I knew she would approach the subject, that I thought it was an important book that needed doing. It was one where we had no funding towards it, a big financial risk. But we still felt it was important to do.
It’s one of the great things about being a small publisher, where I’m not working for a large company, nor responsible to a committee, or anyone else. Caroline and I can make decisions where we say, “We really want to do this, and if we lose badly on it, then we’ll have to balance it out with other things.”
We can work that way. There can be projects that come along where I do think, “Well, this is so interesting that I don’t even really think about what the audience is out there.”
I can give you an example of projects that I don’t think work.
JB: Great. Let’s hear it.
DL: Something that happened in the UK a few years ago was that students at the colleges seemed to be told to do a very personal project. They must have been told by tutors to go off to houses that had some meaning to them. It wasn’t unusual to have people who were going to their grandmother’s house, or something like that, photographing the things that had memories for them as a child.
JB: Of course. Dead grandparents?
DL: Dead grandparents.
JB: Yeah, that was big.
DL: Yup. You have to be realistic. Unless there’s something REALLY stunning about the photography, it’s not a subject that’s going to appeal to a wide audience. That seems obvious to me.
And if friends, relatives, etc may get a feel from it, most people won’t. I always say, when I’m giving a talk, that I can’t explain what photographers should send in to me. I don’t really know what I’m looking for until I see it.
This is the great difficulty. But there are guidelines you can give people, and one of the things I always say is that we’re publishing on an International basis. Therefore, the work has to carry across International boundaries. It has to resonate at the human level, so that it touches something within a human being.
There’s a book we did called “Mother and Father,” by Paddy Summerfield. He photographed almost exclusively in the back garden of his parent’s house in Oxford, as they were getting older.. His Mother had Alzheimer’s. She died. His father was left alone. Then, his father died.
He photographs, more or less, the last 10 years of their lives. But almost every photograph is taken in the back garden.
How small scale can you get, in one sense? But the story that it tells is such a human story, that it leaps all International boundaries. It’s understood by everyone, without reading any text.
It’s a very moving book, and it doesn’t matter where you’re from. That is a very difficult subject too, but it’s done reasonably well in the shops, and had a good response from the critics and the audience.
JB: You’re looking for Universality?
JB: This is a big reason why I wanted to interview you. I write about books each week, and we’ve already agreed everyone wants one. But it’s rare that people out there get to hear such specific advice from someone with your expertise.
Let’s carry it forward, a bit. Where do you see it all going? If we’re talking about an industry that’s already had this much disruption, do you ever ask yourself what the climate will look like in 5 or 10 years?
DL: I try to look ahead, but I try not to respond to it.
JB: What are you suspecting?
DL: Let me tell you the problems, as I see them. Perhaps the biggest is that so many photographers now have books. Every photographer wants a book, as we said before. And every photographer now wants to do a more impressive book than other photographers have done.
By that, I mean in terms of the object. Not necessarily the content.
JB: That’s the competitiveness that we discussed earlier.
DL: Yeah, so there’s a sense in which they want a more complicated design, or more complex means of production. They’re driving up the expectations, which is good, in some ways, but it is making it increasingly impossible for many of them to ever get any of their money back.
You have some designers doing the same thing. Some of them don’t understand the technicalities, and are adding cost unnecessarily. Essentially, I think you have designers trying to leapfrog each other. On and on it goes.
The same thing is happening with photographers. I think it’s starting to go too far. I see that as a problem.
DL: I don’t see digital as a problem, as a competitive element, and I don’t see it happening over the next 5 years or so. Certainly, if you talk to publishers who are doing digital books, they’re pretty disappointed with the results they’re getting.
Not necessarily in terms of the production of them, but in terms of the response from audiences. People aren’t really buying them.
JB: Right, because is a digital book any different than a website? Or an app? The things people want out of a book are the tactile qualities.
DL: Right. Is it any different to a .pdf? It depends, though. If you have a book like “Mother and Father,” it’s very poetic and quiet. What you want is simply the images in the sequence that they are.
If you had a book that had something to do with the Yangtze River, say, then you might want to have lots of external links to images within the pages. You might want things about population, history, particular towns, cultural elements within the River area.
You can imagine video, audio, all sorts of extra things being brought into the digital book. That makes it interesting and exciting, something that can’t be done on paper. There are some books that would work digitally, and there are some that would be a disaster. It would add nothing, and simply take away from them.
So the digital question is almost a side issue.
JB: That’s not surprising. It’s one thing to read a thriller on a Kindle, but with photo books, people want to hold a set of photos in their hands.
DL: For me, what’s much more of a concern is that already the large book shops have partially removed themselves from visual books. Waterstones and Barnes and Noble carry very few photo books now, and very obvious titles. I think the days of those large book shops are severely numbered.
I wouldn’t be surprised, speaking of Waterstones in the UK, I can imagine that within 5 or 6 years, they might be down to less than a dozen stores. Key stores in major cities. At the moment, I think they still have over 300.
And while speciality stores are building, I don’t think they can take up the slack across towns and cities in various countries. I think that’s a problem.
JB: Well, the big chains have been shutting down here for years.
DL: But the area I worry about most is the printers themselves. Printing presses are hungry beasts. They need a lot of material coming through. Commercial work will dry up. Things like hotels and other business will no longer produce sales brochures. They’ll put content online, and digitally in some form.
The commercial side of printing is really going to reduce. I’m not convinced that there’s enough printing demand from other areas.
JB: So the prices will go up for those that stay in business.
DL: It’s a matter of, can they stay in business? It’s a whole chain. If printers close, what happens to the printing machine manufacturers. People like Heidelberg, and KBA. Will there be enough printers for them to continue doing this heavy engineering?
Very serious stuff. I do worry a bit about that chain. That’s probably 7-10 years out, but I do think that’s a problem.
If there is an end to the printed book in the numbers that we know now, then it’s going to come from that side, not just from people switching to digital.
JB: So now, we’re dealing with proliferation. Think about Kickstarter. When people are raising money, it’s not their money. There’s not a lot of risk involved when it’s not your money. You’re just accessing the funds from others, $10 at a time.
If what you’re speculating comes true, the people who are left in business are going be able to charge a lot more for their services. If all of a sudden, it costs $150,000 to make a book, instead of $50,000, then it won’t be nearly as easy to raise other people’s money on Kickstarter, and you end up with fewer and fewer books, the way it was before.
You’re saying this is potentially a bubble?
DL: I think it’s still got a few years to live…
DL: I’m really talking about offset printing. It’s pretty complex, isn’t it. I’m thinking longer term. It’s not round the corner.
A big question is what happens on the digital printing side. It’s been around a long time now, with Indigo and others. The printing sheet is still pretty small, though it’s starting to get larger.
It’s not cost effective to do large numbers of copies digitally. Can that take up what might be lost from offset printing? It’s a very complex arena, really.
JB: I want to take you off the prognosticator seat. Predicting the future is impossible, but I was just curious to see how you imagined the future of your industry.
You’ve been a great sport, and we really appreciate your time. You’re planning on being in business for a while, and you’re still excited about what you do?
DL: 50% of the time I’m excited. And that’s enough.
DL: It’s like this. Say you’re at FotoFest, for example, looking at portfolios, and you might have had a really awful day. Then the last session is something really stunning. That’s what publishing is.
You just go through a lot of shit to get to the crock at the end of the rainbow. You do find these extraordinary things, and that’s what keeps you going all the time.
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There are quite a few tethering software options out there and it’s important to pick the right one for your needs. Your choices include:
Of these, the most popular are Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Capture One Pro, Canon EOS Utility, and Nikon Camera Control Pro.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a comprehensive RAW processing and photo management application that includes tethering functionality for select Canon, Nikon and Leica digital cameras. Lightroom offers only limited access to camera settings directly from a computer but fully supports instant viewing, zooming, rating and tagging of shots.You can even set it up to import photos into a specific Lightroom catalog as they are taken.
Like all other tethering software, Lightroom displays your high resolution files on the tethered screen as you capture them, so you can easily check focus, lighting and composition in great detail. Lightroom is available for both Windows and Mac.
Capture One Pro
Phase One’s Capture One Pro is a professional RAW converter and image editing software that also includes extensive tethering features. It enables you to capture, organize, edit, share and print images in a flexible and efficient cabled tethering workflow. Phase One also offers Capture Pilot, a tool/app that connects Capture One Pro to an iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone so users can present, rate, zoom and even trigger the camera wirelessly using compatible mobile devices.
Many of the camera manufacturers have their own tethering software. The list of software includes:
3rd Party Software Options
The software listed above represent the most popular options but not all cameras are supported by them. Plus, some other applications offer additional features such as multiple camera control, advanced time lapse, HDR features and more, which you may find valuable. Tether Tools keeps an up-to-date resource list of currently available tethering software that includes a brief description of each product. The following applications, in particular, may be worth exploring.
For step-by-step instructions with screen grabs showing how to tether using Lightroom and Capture One as well as additional details on manufacturer and third party tethering software, download The Ultimate Tethering Guide, free from dpBestflow.org/tetherguide.
Jonathan Blaustein: Will you admit on the record that Arsenal Football Club is superior to Manchester United?
Dewi Lewis: Never. Never.
DL: Never. Why would I admit to something that isn’t true?
JB: (laughing.) Of course. But what if I secretly deposited £200 in your Paypal account? Would that entice you?
DL: I think you’d need to add several noughts. (zeroes.)
JB: OK. That’s fair. I’m sure most of our readers don’t care about English football, so we can move on. But you do live in the Manchester area, and you’re from Wales.
You were originally a musician back in the day, yes?
DL: It’s a bit strong to say that. I played in bands in my younger years, through to my early to mid 20s, and then decided that I just wasn’t good enough.
JB: Is that typical Welsh humility, that you played in bands for close to15 years, but won’t call yourself a musician?
DL: When you play with real musicians, then you know where you are. I’m not of that standard. Nowhere near.
JB: At what point did you segue into visual art?
DL: It was a long process. I started playing in bands from about 13, in different venues. Then I became involved in performance and theater. My first job was much more related to music and theater than anything else.
JB: Makes sense.
DL: I had a general interest in the visual arts. But I met my wife, Caroline, when I was 20, and her father was a photojournalist working on The Times newspaper in London. That started to give me a stronger relationship to photography.
I got more and more fascinated by it. But then I also became involved professionally, because we had an exhibition space in the first art center that I set up.
That got me thinking more about what shows we should put on, in photography and contemporary arts. I just got increasingly involved in photography.
JB: You set up an arts facility from the ground up?
DL: Two. After University, I worked in the arts first with the local council in Cambridge. Then I ran the Fringe Festival club up in Edinburgh, for one festival.
From that, I moved to a place in North Manchester called Bury, to set up an arts association. It seemed to me we needed a building, so I found one, and we converted an early 1800’s building into a performance space with exhibition facilities, and a bar area as well.
JB: This is with public financing?
DL: Yeah. It was a registered charity, and we raised money primarily from public funding, but also the private sector.
DL: That was the first one, and I ran that for six years. I then set up an arts center in Manchester called Cornerhouse. I was brought in to do a feasibility study on that, and it’s where the shift in my career really took place, I suppose.
Initially, there was interest to establish Cornerhouse for theater and visual arts. But I wanted to set up a film space in Manchester as well, because there was no good, independent cinema there. So rather than going for performance, we ended up focussing on visual arts and film.
At Cornerhouse , I got more and more involved with visual arts, that’s when the publishing started.
JB: Was the facility, in fact, in a corner house? Is that how you name such a place?
DL: It was a building quite close to a railway station, on the corner of two roads. We couldn’t come up with a name. That was the reality of it.
JB: If I told you that I was drinking tea right now, would that impress you?
DL: Not really. I almost never drink tea.
JB: So you’re typical in that you like Manchester United, atypical in that you don’t drink tea, and since you started playing in bands at 13, we probably all have visions of a little 13 year old Welsh punk smoking cigarettes, and acting tough.
Does that about sum it up?
DL: Close to that.
JB: (laughing) OK.
DL: Plus the pints of beer.
JB: (laughing) Plus the pints of beer. Now we’ve got the visual. That’s the best thing I can do, is evoke strong mental images for the readers.
Now they know that I’m drinking tea, and you’re unimpressed, and you used to be a party guy as a 13 year old punk. Now we’re getting somewhere.
DL: It was before the time of Punk, though. I’m that old.
JB: You’re being literal. In America, the term “punk” can have a broader meaning, rather than simply relating to the musical period. But my father was a lawyer when I was young…
JB: …so I appreciate your specificity with language.
JB: Moving through your career trajectory, in 1994, you founded your own publishing house with your wife as your partner? Is that correct?
DL: More or less. I started publishing at Cornerhouse Because we were primarily doing exhibitions, I came across photographers, and in discussions with them, it became clear that what they really wanted were books. And there was almost no one publishing at that time.
So in ’87, we launched the first book, and I carried on publishing there until ’94. But my job was as Director of the place, and it was quite a large organization. We had three cinemas and three floors of galleries. Bar, catering, book shop, education facilities.
So my time was pretty heavily occupied with all that.
JB: Is it still there?
DL: It’s still there, and just about to move to a new home in a couple of months time. It’s still pretty successful. (ed. note, this interview transpired in March 2015.)
But for me, the publishing side became something I became obsessed with. I ended up doing it almost all in my spare time. Although it was for Cornerhouse , I’d be spending weekends and days off developing the publishing side. As I got more involved in it, it became increasingly something I wanted to spend all my time on.
So at the end of ’93, I decided to leave Cornerhouse and set up my own company. Initially, it was just me – Caroline joined me 18 months to 2 years later. We’ve been working on it ever since.
JB: You started in 1994, in a pre-Internet world, where there were not a lot of people doing what you were doing. Everything would have been based on your catalogues, and sending them out in the mail to people, so they could see what you were going to publish.
We’re doing this interview in 2015. Photobooks are everywhere. The world you’ve been working in probably could not have changed much more. It’s almost perfectly different, I’d say. Would you agree with that assessment?
DL: Yeah, I think that’s totally true. I remember in ’95, very few people had email access. I was talking to an American photographer who told me about this new thing, the email, but when I explored it a little further, I couldn’t find anyone else who was on email. There was no point in using it until about ’96.
JB: (laughing) Unless you wanted to email yourself as a digital diary. “Good Morning, Dewi. How are you today? I’m quite well, thanks, but I still don’t like tea.”
DL: Exactly. It’s hard to remember how slow things were, in terms of early Internet access. But although it was a very different world before, I’m not sure it was problematic. You used the phone a lot more, and it was still at the point, really, where if you phoned someone, they answered.
DL: These days, most people will just have answer-phone-messages. You can waste so much time trying to phone people, so you end up just emailing them instead.
JB: It’s remarkable, isn’t it? I was discussing that with a friend the other day, how if you talk to someone on the phone these days, you’ve got to schedule it in advance.
I thought we could talk about the world today, and the landscape, and what you’ve observed. How long ago was it that a book was a rare, coveted object that was a career-defining moment, and now we’re living in a world in which almost everyone has a book? Or if they want one, they can get one, one way or another.
It’s gone from scarcity to ubiquity. How do you feel about that?
DL: First of all, I totally agree with you. It was incredibly difficult for photographers to get a book in the late 80s, early 90s. I’d say, really, through to 2005-6.
JB: Still fairly recently.
DL: There were many well-known photographers who, if they got one book during their lifetime, felt that they’d really achieved something. It is such a massive change.
JB: So how do you feel about it?
DL: Negative and positive. There are too many books being produced. There’s no doubt about that. Too many photographers are producing books without really having developed the work enough.
To explain why I think that, in talks I’ve given over the years, one of the things I’ve always said to photographers, certainly in the UK, is that every book has to be deposited with the British Library. And some of the other copyright libraries in the UK.
In theory, that means that if you’re a photographer, and you publish a book, it will be deposited in that library, and then, in 200 or 300 years time, your great, great, great grandchildren can go along and ask to see a copy of that book. If you think of that longevity of the book, surely it’s worth photographers spending time getting it right.
I think sometimes things are raced through much too quickly. And very young photographers expect a book within a year or two of graduating.
JB: For things to have changed that dramatically, and that quickly, should we not parallel that to the rise of our instant gratification culture through the Internet and Social Media?
These two things go hand in hand. People’s expectations that they ought to have a book, and their ability to produce one via self-publishing, or Kickstarter funding.
It’s a very contemporary situation that we’re dealing with.
DL: Yes, there are a number of factors. One is cultural change generally. The last 15 years, certainly up to the financial crash, everyone kind of believed that they could have whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. So there’s that element.
But there’s also the element that you have to think about affluence. Western societies have become increasingly affluent, over the last 15-20 years. So people have that money to spend on things that they never did before.
I mean, a young photographer in the early 90s could never have put together enough money to publish a book. Most, today, find it possible. So there are changes in terms of the cultural environment, the access to funding that people have, and I suppose also the sense of competition.
There are far more photographers around than there ever used to be.
JB: Of course.
DL: Or at least, a lot more people around who call themselves photographers.
DL: They all want to compete. They all want to be seen as getting to a certain level. And the book seems to help them on that.
JB: How has the change in the landscape changed how you approach your job?
DL: It hasn’t changed that much. That’s the strange thing. There are some things that have definitely changed. I’ll talk about funding in a minute. But essentially, I don’t really see any more great projects than I used to 20 years ago.
There are more good photographers around, but there aren’t more very good photographers. It’s still hard to see great work.
[Part 2 Tomorrow]