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Personal Projects: Jennifer Davidson

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 05/25/2017 - 10:00am

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Jennifer Davidson

Seeing Clearly

Ciénaga, Colombia, home to ~120,000 people, is perched between the Caribbean Sea and a large estuary. These two bodies of water are vitally important to locals who rely heavily on fishing for sustenance and income.   Poverty is a hard reality in this area: many relocated here after they were displaced from violence in Colombia’s recent past. Eye and vision problems are very common, stemming from a combination of the intensity of the sun reflecting off water, poor nutrition, and inaccessibility to quality healthcare when accidents occur.

For over 20 years, a group of doctors from the US and Canada have been traveling to Colombia with Medical Ministry International to provide services for better eye health around the country. In 2015, I joined this team to document their work in Ciénaga, both in the clinic and operating room, and to connect with the people who were coming, some from great distances, to take advantage of these services. Through smiles and tears, people generously shared their stories and homes with me. I met a man with cataracts whose life was filled with tragic loss but has found solace in a family down the street. With his eyes straight after a strabismus surgery, an 11-year old boy expressed how eager he was to go back to school knowing that the kids there would no longer have reason to make fun of him. A young mom showed off her prosthetic eye and beamed with joy as she told me her story, now full of hope. This new eye meant social acceptance and the ability to pursue her dream job of hotel management.

When I ventured to the surrounding towns supported by Ciénaga, I found 10-year old refugee camps where people lived who had been displaced from their small towns by FARC guerillas. Even though it is safe for many them to return, these barrios are now their home, these people their family. There were isolated fishing villages built entirely on stilts deep in the estuary where a good fishing spot eventually became a community. Fishermen talked about having to raise their homes when the floods came though, a huge undertaking, but they preferred life in these quiet villages to the crime and noise of the cities where economic opportunities can be greater.

During the two-week program, over 5700 people came to the clinic, with 100s of surgeries performed and 1000s of glasses handed out, but what impressed me most was the resiliency of the people I met. It is easy to forget the power of simple things like reading glasses, which are abundantly available to many of us. Seeing someone who is able to read for the first time in years and the smile that brings to their whole being is unforgettable. So is the tenderness of people living in pieced-together houses with light beaming through cardboard walls, as they tell stories of lives filled with hardship, but also with family. With their new glasses or cataract-free eyes, people were able to see the world more clearly. Those who had come to the clinic with an eye crossed, or even missing, left looking forward to the way their culture would now see them. And I, who arrived with my vision physiologically sound, departed with a new perspective on the daily trials people survive and how, while they may be lacking in material comforts, together, can even thrive.

To see more of the project, click here

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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

 

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Categories: Business

The Daily Edit – Bonobo: Neil Krug

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 10:15am

Photographer: Neil Krug
Artist: Bonobo
Record Label: Ninja Tune

Heidi: What inspired you to create this type of imagery for the album package?
Neil: I had one conversation with Simon (Bonobo) over coffee last summer in Los Angeles, and from that meeting the overall narrative of the package began to form.  I’ve been a fan of Bonobo for a long time and wanted the campaign to stand out amongst the rest, so it was a process of chasing a specific type of landscape imagery tied to the mood of his album, whilst complimenting my own sensibilities of the type of artwork I think will work best across all platforms.

I think the mantra we both took away from our meeting was “beautifully sinister”.  Once I honed in on those words and placed myself in the mojave desert at 4am, the imagery began to spill out. I wanted the work to feel primal and alive, building in momentum into the earth cracked open.  That feeling was materialized into the image that became the cover.

How many hours of drone flight did you accumulate to get the clips you were looking for?
If I remember correctly, only 45 minutes of drone material was shot.  I chased the edit I had in mind so everything was done in one or two takes, plus the sun was going down.

How did the unnatural surprises get incorporated into the images ( fire, blue light, smoke)
The elemental fire, smoke, and light are the characters the landscape shots required in order for the viewer to get involved, otherwise the imagery felt too safe as far as i’m concerned.  The elements invite you in and give the work a reason to exist.

Did you promote yourself to them or did they seek you out?
Ninja Tune (the record label) made the request.  I live by the code of do right by the work, and the work will do right by you.

I know photography wasn’t your first choice and your film experience was self-taught. Looking back, how did this influence you now and set you apart?

It’s hard to say, as it’s something I don’t reflect on often.  If anything, the self-taught method allowed time from me  to grow a thick skin, and more importantly to trust the work. I’m not certain I would be here now if I didn’t pay attention to these things early on.

How long have you been with FORM and has your work evolved or changed since you’ve been on board?
I’ve began working with FORM during the fall of last year and it’s been a rewarding working relationship ever since. Having a great team to work with on a day-to-day basis is an important part of the process, so it’s a blessing to be in the company of people who share your vision.

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Categories: Business

The Daily Promo

A Photo Editor's Blog - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 10:25am

David Studarus


Who printed it?

Printing was handled by Anthony Wright, awlitho.com – he was a total pleasure to deal with, and does great work!

Who designed it?
Jennifer Rider was my designer.  When we first met, I was intrigued because she has worked on a lot of fine art and gallery publications.  She’s also currently working with me on a few other pieces that are for leave behinds, a new biz card, and an email promo.  We’re really focusing on having everything work together to support the brand.

Who edited the images?
Both Jennifer and myself.  I started off with maybe 8 images I told her had to be included, then she selected the rest from within a larger body of work I gave her.  She put a lot of effort into the pacing and flow of this piece!  This is the first time I’ve ceded that much control, but I’m really happy with the outcome.  This particular piece lent itself to that process; for the next piece I’m doing, I’ll provide a tight edit and then let her work out how to best use the images together.

How many did you make?
1500

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This year I am planning for 2 larger, significant, pieces (this being the first).  I also have some ideas for a few very small run targeted pieces.

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Categories: Business

This Week in Photography Books: Anthony Hernandez

A Photo Editor's Blog - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 10:09am

 

There are more photo-books out there than ever before.

The market has proliferated, with the advent of crowdfunding, and publishers who will make you a book if you’ll pay their fee.

So if you’re planning on joining the crowd, I’d recommend you ask yourself a few questions first.

Why do I think my work needs to exist in book form?
Who is the potential audience?
Why will it be necessary for people to buy it?

Occasionally, I like to get you guys thinking about the reasons behind this photo-book industry I cover each week. By now, my tastes are well established, if broad.

One week, I’m praising pictures from the 19th Century, and the high quality of the packaging in which they’re presented. The next week, I’ll big up a little ‘zine that looks like it was made by some very talented teen-agers.

Any type of book can be excellent, if it gets the right balance of content, form, and intentionality. And I’ve interviewed several artists who prefer books, for their permanence, to exhibitions, which are ephemeral.

I love a good show, myself, because it allows scale to become a far more valuable element. Just as people go to the movies to see things on the “really” big screen, I like that in museums, I can see paintings that are 40 feet long, or photographs 8 feet high.

The book’s strength, in addition to longevity, is that it’s intimate. You control the experience in a more personal way. No pushy crowds. No bumping into people in the elevator. No dirty looks from the uptight gallery staff.

You can turn the pages backwards and forwards. Skip ahead. Or dash back to a favorite picture.

But in general, photo-books are linear narratives. The viewer will pick it up, start at the beginning, and carry on through to the end.

Therefore, what you do or don’t tell someone at the outset determines the context in which they understand your work. Some books want you to guess what’s going on, (like last week’s offering,) others ask you to read dense, academic essays before you even get to peek at a pic.

If I’m thinking about these things as a reviewer, I expect you to consider them before you spend the money to make a book.

What are you trying to say, and to whom are you speaking?

Given what I know of Anthony Hernandez’s work, I was a little surprised with what turned up in the mail the other day. The folks at MACK, in London, were kind enough to send me a copy of Mr. Hernandez’s new book, “Forever.”

I reviewed his excellent Amon Carter Museum exhibition, “Discarded,” last year, and was lucky enough to interview him a few months later about his retrospective at SFMOMA. (Since closed.)

He grew up in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, and has been making some pretty smart, considered, and at times beautiful photographs in and around LA for most of his life.

Much of his career has focused on examining the secret haunts and hidey-holes of the city’s homeless community, and the bleak public spaces left for those without Maybachs and mansions in Beverly Hills.

“Forever,” I learned, is a project in which he visited homeless encampments, boxes and jimmy-rigged shelters, and laid down where people sleep. Or where they catch a few minutes of rest, in the midst of the stress-horror-show that is life on the street.

Then he photographed from that vantage point.

I was entranced, as he said, “If you stop, and start thinking about, where I am? How can I be sitting here, or laying down on this bed, you won’t be out there. You won’t be making those pictures.”

I think it’s vital to know that about the photographs, to truly appreciate them. Some are too dry, or too reminiscent of things I’ve seen before, but others are absolutely perfect.

Like the twenty, beat-up, sad-looking copper pennies in perfect rows, sitting atop a thin strip of curb, set against the less-shiny brown of the pebbly dirt.

I think it’s amazing, visually. You can sense how deeply he stared at it. And then, you think, why would anyone living on the street leave money like that?

Are pennies now that worthless?

Or was the place tucked-away-enough they considered it safe?

Maybe they took off in a hurry, or were too high to remember the change?

It’s only one picture, and there are seven or eight I thought were that mesmerizing. Like the matchbook. The brick wall. The concrete block wall. (He does walls well.)

And, most of all, the curled, slightly faded portrait of a weepy-looking young girl. A studio portrait, made somewhere, by someone.

It’s taped or glued to the front of a hollowed-out concrete block. Presumably, in this context, it’s the first thing someone sees after they wake up, and the last vision before closing their eyes at night.

The picture is screaming in my ear: This is the last place I’d ever want to end up. The worst spot in the world. Alone, sleeping on rocks, thinking of the daughter I left behind.

Or maybe she’s dead? And the grief drove her father or mother insane?

The book is set up in such a way that it’s difficult (or impossible) to acquire this context, before looking at the pictures. I suspect it’s intended for art world people, who already know what his work is about.

They bring the knowledge with them, as I did. And I think MACK figured the book buyers would be cool with it. No didactic description necessary.

We can agree to disagree.

There’s only bit that really hints at it, in the book’s closing essay by Judith Freeman. She uses a style in which the narrative and interview bits are jumbled together, distinguished only by font style.

Her words say, “To find a bed or chair, a place you can sit, look out from their point of view.” As it shades towards inscrutable, on first reading, I’d say they’re still assuming people will know what’s going on.

There is nothing wrong with making a book for art collectors and photo geeks. Most established photo book publishers are definitely going for just that market.

But, setting aside one’s preference for knowing versus guessing, I think it’s a very cool book. The best pictures are almost perfect examples of the anti-aesthetic.

Of ugly beauty.

I know from our interview that Mr. Hernandez was friends with Lewis Baltz, (RIP,) who was a genuine master at that skill. Composing so well within ugliness, mastering tone and texture, amid garbage and industrial spaces, that beauty emerged despite itself.

Design-wise, I have to give a shout out to the patterned purple cover followed by a rich, red, inside-cover paper . It’s pretty gorgeous, and makes me think of tailors on Saville Row with a taste for the naughty.

It’s a pretty interesting contrast to the glumness inside, and hearkens back to earlier in this article. Every choice you make, when you build your book, reflects your intention.

MACK, as a publisher, tries to make art objects. They don’t see books as information dissemination vehicles, but rather art itself. And art objects, unlike opinion columnists, need not explain themselves.

Bottom Line: Cool, well-designed, but slightly inscrutable take on homelessness

To purchase “Forever,” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

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Categories: Business

Personal Projects: John Huet

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 10:00am

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: John Huet

About 20 years ago my wife and I moved to Manchester-by-the-Sea, a small coastal New England town north of Boston on Cape Ann. With a population of about 6,000, not a lot happens here. The small town aspect of living here has made it a great place to raise our family. I doubt that many people were even familiar with Manchester-by-the-Sea until the award winning film starring Massachusetts’s native, Casey Affleck, came out last year.

I’ve been photographing this town for as long as I’ve lived here, and after seeing Manchester by the Sea, I went back and took another look at some of my images from the vantage point of the movie. I’m always inspired by the quiet beauty of this little town, and that’s a big part of what this body of work is about for me.

See more of this project by clicking here.

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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

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Categories: Business

Pricing & Negotiating: Pharmaceutical Portraits

A Photo Editor's Blog - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 9:12am

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Portraits and photojournalistic manufacturing lifestyle images

Licensing: Unlimited use of all images captured in perpetuity

Location: On location at a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in the Northwest

Shoot Days: One

Photographer: Northwest-based portrait and lifestyle specialist

Agency: A Small Northwest-based agency

Client: A mid-sized pharmaceutical company

Here is the estimate:

pricing and negotiating wonderful machine, estimates for shoot production, shoot production estimates, executive producers who do estimates, estimates for photographers, wonderful machine production company, examples of photographer contracts, Jess Dudley executive producer, Pharmaceutical Portraits

Creative/Licensing: One of our Northwest-based photographers reached out looking for help pulling together an estimate for a library shoot for a local mid-sized pharmaceutical manufacturer. The agency had contacted the photographer requesting a quote for a one day shoot on location at one of their client’s manufacturing facilities. The project called for 12 setups: four environmental shots of the facility/labs, seven photojournalistic lifestyle images of employees “at work” and one lit/staged portrait. The client required unlimited usage of the library of images. We see a lot of projects along these lines, but this project was a bit unusual because the 12 setups were relatively specific. They didn’t seem to offer a lot of opportunity for variations (as opposed to more dynamic scenarios that may allow for a greater degree of variety in the space, subjects and available actions/activities). Shot one, in particular, was much more carefully composed and art directed because it would be used in trade ads, while the other 11 shots would only appear in collateral pieces. After speaking with the photographer about the hefty shot list, we wanted to make sure the client was aware that it was doable, but perhaps a bit ambitious, and that the day may require some prioritization if we were unable to move around as freely and quickly as expected.

Library fees can start around $7500 a day and will often include unlimited or perpetual usage of all images captured. It should be noted, however, that “library” does not necessarily mean unrestricted use (although it did in this case), and may be used to refer just to the volume of imagery. Accordingly, it is important to make the initial assumption that the client is willing to limit the use in some way. Often, clients are willing to limit either the duration of use or quantity of images for a library shoot, so it is best to begin the conversation with that assumption in mind to avoid inadvertently “giving away” more than necessary. Unfortunately, this was not one of those instances, and the client did, in fact, require unlimited, perpetual use of all images captured. Interestingly, the ambitious shot list helped to minimize the value of the library because the photographer would have to move so quickly from one shot to the next that the variety captured would be severely limited. Additionally, five of the 12 shots were very specific and didn’t allow for variations of any substance. Factoring the volume of shots, limited production footprint, type of client, intended use (including the very specific trade ad shot) and otherwise straight forward nature of the shoot, I set the rate at $10,000 for this shoot.

Client Provisions: I was sure to note exactly what the client and agency would provide: locations, staff “talent,” staging area(s), wardrobe, props, releases and necessary technical and safety advisors. The advisor was important to highlight since we wanted a client rep to be on set to ensure the facility and staff were up to snuff from a technical and safety standpoint. There’s nothing worse than wrapping up a shot and finding out that the subject was supposed to have been wearing safety goggles, so we were sure to put that responsibility on client’s shoulders.

*Tech/Scout Day: Due to the challenges associated with accessing this particular facility, the client was unable to allow for a tech/scout day. It’s generally a very important part of a production such as this, but unfortunately, our hands were tied.

Assistants & Tech: I estimated for a first assistant and a digital tech for the shoot. All but one shot would be captured using available light, and mobility within the facility was a concern, so the smaller the crew footprint, the better. The photographer wanted to tether a laptop on a tripod, so we didn’t need a full workstation rental from the tech, hence the lower rate.

Equipment: I estimated one day of gear rental from a local rental house including a DSLR system, a backup body, a handful of fast lenses, a small lighting and grip kit and a laptop to tether.

Styling: I included one stylist to manage basic hair, makeup, and wardrobe needs for the staff and talent. The talent would be wearing a branded uniform which the client provided, so we didn’t need to do any wardrobe shopping.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the photographer’s time for the initial import, edit, color correction and upload of the entire shoot to an FTP for client review and final image selection.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: I included basic select processing as a lump sum based on 150/image in this case. This protects the fee in the event the client ultimately selects more or less than 12 images.

Casting and Talent: Since the portrait concept called for a relatively tight shoulder up shot of the talent, they agency was comfortable with a digital casting and reviewing recent comp cards to make their selection. The casting fee covered the photographer’s time to reach out to a couple of local talent agents to request current head shots and share them with the agency for review and selection. The talent fees, in this case, were quoted by the local talent agency. Though this is a very reasonable fee for the usage, we’re often able to negotiate slightly lower fees. The fact that this was for a pharmaceutical client put a little bit of a premium on the talent cost.

Mileage, Meals, and Miscellaneous: Finally, we estimated for miles, meals for the production at the on-site cafeteria, and a bit extra to cover any unanticipated miscellaneous costs.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project and luckily, both the client and agency were very easy to work with, and the facilities proved to be as manageable as we had hoped, all of which allowed the photographer to crank out the entire shot list in a normal 10-hour day.

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 large ad campaigns.

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Categories: Business

The Daily Promo – New York Times Sunday Magazine: Damon Casarez

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 10:25am

The New York Times Sunday Magazine

Photo Director: Kathy Ryan
Photo Editor: Stacey Baker
Photographer: Damon Casarez
read about the story here

Heidi: Did you bring this story to the magazine or did you conceptualize the idea and bring to them?
Damon: The photo editor Stacey Baker brought this story to me. I believe I was assigned this project based on the success of my previous assignment work with them on boomerang kids across the country as well as an assignment on LGBTQ canvassers. Boomerang kids was a series of moody, mostly interior portraits and the canvasser story was shot in a South L.A. neighborhood in front of homes the volunteers were canvassing.

How long did the assignment take and what type of direction did you get?
The project was about a week of shooting in Boston and the surrounding cities with 1-2 shoots per day depending on the schedules. The direction was pretty simple from their end; create a strong, natural interior portrait of each family/subject and also create an exterior portrait that’s a bit more formal outside of their homes. After reading the article and taking some notes, Stacey and I talked about having consistency with the exterior portraits and being a bit looser with the interiors. Working with the Times mag is always an amazing experience because they will give some simple directions and trust you to do the rest.

What were the determining factors for interior and exterior images?
The challenge of the interior part was walking into a space I’ve never been in and meeting families I don’t have much info about and creating a dynamic family portrait in a way that is comfortable for them while still being visually interesting and revealing. But, that’s also the challenge of almost every portrait assignment. When meeting each family, I would take some time to talk with them so that we were both comfortable with each other and then we would start to figure out what would be a natural space for them to be photographed. One goal for the exterior shots was to have an option where they would all be executed in the same manner for possible layout options. They were of course open to me doing other options for the exterior but their direction worked out best visually.

How did you handle the dynamic of kids, multi subject shoots an families? Did you take more frames, direct a bit more?
This was my first assignment with families and multiple kids in a confined portrait setting. My assistant and I would try and make things easy as possible by having lighting tested and ready for the family. The struggle with photographing kids is trying to get their attention to us at the same time and having them be still. One of the kids would be playing and making faces at me while the younger one would be running out of the frame! Sometimes you have no control and let them do what they’re going to do and it works out better and becomes a more natural photo. What helped was taking some breaks to release some energy and showing the kids my camera and having them take a couple of frames. We also had to negotiate with some of the kids. If we were struggling to get the shot, I would tell them that we would only need 5 more frames and they could go play and it would work. Once we had the kids in a good place, we shot a burst of frames to try and nail the shot. It was a super fun learning experience.

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Categories: Business

$1.2M Copyright Claim Awarded for Infringement of Photos

Photo Business Forum - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 7:23am
A common refrain by photographers who make excuses for not registering their work with the copyright office is that they’re not that valuable, or that no one would want to steal them.

On May 11th, in Baltimore Maryland, a jury awarded the copyright owner $900,000 in actual damages and $300,000 in statutory damages for 133 total infringements of 24 different images, of plants, in Under A Food Plant Company v. Exterior Design Inc.  The case is BPG-15-871, before the US District Court for the District of Maryland.

At issue was a a series of photographs of a product line that were stolen and used to market and sell a competing product line by a competing nursery. While to the un-trained eye the products may have appeared similar, however according to the press release, “Professor Jeffrey Sedlik, a leading expert on visual arts and photography licensing, was called as an expert witness at trial…He confirmed the infringement using a fingerprint-like “feature point analysis” of the photographs and then researched the fair market value for licensing similar images in similar marketing materials.  Professor Sedlik noted that the use of these photographs in competing marketing materials increased the likely cost of a license drastically, thus increasing the damages sustained by Under A Foot Plant, Co.  The size of the jury award suggests that Professor Sedlik’s testimony was critical in demonstrating Under A Foot Plant, Co.’s damages to the jury.”

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

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Categories: Business

The Daily Promo – Norman Maslov Agent Internationale

A Photo Editor's Blog - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 10:27am


Norman Maslov Agent Internationale


Who printed it?
The Agency promo catalog was printed in Asia in coordination with The Workbook.

Who designed it?
Designed by Anita Atencio at the Workbook and our upcoming promo-catalogue has been revised by the Workbook’s new designer, Andy Carey. The booklet is an expanded extension of our Workbook directory advertising.  

Who edited the images?
My photographers submit images to me and we discuss what we want to showcase each year. I edit the order. 

How many did you make?
2500 copies each year. Mailed to creatives nationally and given out at portfolio shows. 

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is the one full agency group mailing we do once a year. The only one that includes all of our talent. Other mailings throughout the year are separate pieces from the individual artists. 

Where did you get the buttons made?
Buttons made by the Busy Beaver Button Company in Chicago. Designed by Scott Miller

What photo is on that button and why?
The photo is an image that has been a primary part of our identity for over twenty years. We have modified its use over time depending on the application. Hats are an ongoing part of the Agency’s image identity. The round button version was adapted by designer Scott Miller. 

Tell us about the Hat theme.
We’ve been doing the Hat Cover theme on our promotional catalogs for about 12 years. Each year I select one of my photographers to create the wrap around cover/back image. I send them a selection of my hats and they can concept and shoot anything they want with any of the hats as long as it fits the booklets design and front and back cover needs.

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Categories: Business

This Week in Photography Books: Jim Jocoy

A Photo Editor's Blog - Fri, 05/12/2017 - 10:58am

“…it was like the only thing left that made any sense was to try and bash your head against it and hope to wake up somewhere new…”

 

Unlike other book reviewers, I detest opening my articles with a quote. In all the years I’ve been writing this column, I think it’s the second time I’ve pulled out this trope.

Why now?

Well, when I woke up this morning, (Wednesday,) I learned that President Trump had just dismissed FBI Director James Comey.

He had his personal security guard deliver a letter that basically said, “YOU’RE FIRED!!!”

It finally happened.

“The Apprentice” and the government of the United States of America have finally merged into one massive entity, all in the service of money and power.

I’m in a tough spot, myself, as I spent a year and a half before the election warning about our now-lunatic-Commander-in-Chief. And given the ridiculous nature of what’s transpired since he won, I find myself reluctant to continue the barrage here.

It all seems so pointless.

A few months ago, when everyone was talking about how “unprecedented” this all was, I scratched my head, and asked, “What about Nixon?”

I even asked my father directly, as Nixon’s break-in buddies were indicted on the day I was born, March 4th, 1974.

How is this not the same, I wondered?

“No, this is different,” Dad said then, though I suspect he’s since changed his tune. (Though in fairness, he has said for months he thought a 9/11-style special commission would eventually be empowered to look into the Russia mess, leading to Trump’s ouster.)

To be clear, I’m no sage, as I certainly didn’t predict the Donald would win. And I’m wrong often enough, so this is no ego-trip.

Rather, it’s the honest admission of an opinion columnist that I’ve reached the point where the degree of absurdity has exceeded my capacity to ruminate.

Sure, he must think, let’s fire the one guy who has the power to indict my buddies. Maybe no one will suspect my motives? And even if they do, at this point in time, there are no human beings alive who can stop me. So I’ll just have a private meeting in my office with the very Russian operatives that caused this whole mess to begin with.

What does a simple, rural, photo-book reviewer have to say that will stand up to a Hollywood-nightmare-plot-gone-wrong-from-which-none-of-us-can-wake-up?

The answer, my friends, is Punk Rock.

I was never a Punk Rocker, if we’re being honest, even though my cousin Jordan caught on to The Clash and all that good stuff while I was still bopping my head to Billy Joel.

My parents would play Donna Summer all night long, as the Disco era and then the early-80’s-one-hit-wonder phase dominated our 8-track, and the car stereo.

I wore my Izod shirts, and let my mother comb my hair like a good boy. I grew up playing sports, in the suburbs, and didn’t even know my parents hated Reagan until I was older.

“Just say no, Nancy Reagan? Ok. If you say so. Good boys don’t smoke weed.”

That was me. (Then.)

Punks were true rebels. They stuck pins through their flesh, and wore ripped clothes. Nowadays, I’m pretty sure you can spend $1000 on a pair of pants that are sold covered in fake mud.

Back then, in the late 70’s, after Nixon’s fall, this country was hanging on by a thread. (Sound familiar?)

And kids responded by throwing up their hands, saying “fuck it,” and then vomiting on each other. Or pissing in their own van.

Mohawks and skinny jeans and a sense that the world was too crazy to change. Political organizing was for squares, man. Punk was about violent music, fighting with your friends, and living with the calm assurance that the grownups running the world were morally and financially corrupt.

(Sound familiar?)

Rather than claim my current ennui stems from a Punk Rock ethos I’ve never possessed, I’ll just admit this rant was inspired by “Order of Appearance,” a new book by Jim Jocoy, recently published by our friends at TBW Books in Oakland.

I’ve interviewed their publisher Paul Schiek before, and that man, unlike me, is Punk Rock. He lived it, and told us so. He met his buddy, Mike Brodie, (he of the train-hopping punk photographs,) at a party where I’m pretty sure the pink puke was fresher than the beer.

So seeing this book turn up in the mail, from his imprint, made sense to me. I’d never heard of Jim Jocoy before, nor did I know this book was about Punk Rockers.

But it didn’t take much time to figure that out. The vibe, the style, and people were all just right. The book, however, denies us any dates, times or places until the end.

It’s sly, but a sticker affixed to the shrink wrap contains a quote from Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, so I guess that’s the only clue that sets the scene, until the captions.

The book features a look at the original Punk scene in San Francisco in the late 70’s. Mr. Jocoy, like many a photographer before him, was the guy in his crew who liked to take pictures. (I’m guessing, but the proof is in the pudding.)

These photos, which were recently scanned from nearly-40-year-old slides, feel like they’ve been rescued from some old age home for Punks.

Can you just imagine?

The furniture would all be ripped. The carpet smelly. The fridges filled with only ketchup and a few stray cans of PBR, and the nurses would give you your pills at random times during the day, just to screw with you.

Some pictures are sharp, others blurry, and the color palette is vibrant, but not hyper-real. The blue of dyed hair, the ochre of Allen Ginsburg’s man-purse, the yellow of a club wall all feel like they were made in a world of chemical color.

The San Francisco I knew when I lived there, from 1999-2002, was on a roller-coaster ride of consumption and decline. The dot com boom, the dot com bust.

The San Francisco of these pictures was more dire, as there was no Internet. No email. No cell phones. No one to have your back, unless they were standing right beside you.

The photographs don’t scream action. They are more structured than that, though we do have an up-the-crotch vision of a dancer, probably at some club on Broadway. (The caption confirms as much, though I guessed b/c that’s where the go-go bars have always been.)

There’s an overturned car, a dude bashing an ambulance with his head, and a bevy of people passed out from whatever cocktail of booze and drugs they chose that evening.

I can’t say I’ve never seen anything like this before, as other books by TBW have mined the same broad territory. (Rebellious or down-scale white folks. Like “Lost Coast,” which we also featured.)

But what I like most about this book is that it’s not broad. It’s super-specific. These were the kids, and musicians, that responded to 70’s America with disdain, and an arrogant sense of their own righteousness.

They weren’t trying to change the system. Rather, they chose to opt out, in their own way.

These days, we don’t really have that option. It’s hard to hide when you’re bombarded by information and noise, no matter where you lay your head.

Which is why I opened this review with a quote. Sometimes, we do all want to “…bash your head against it and hope to wake up somewhere new…”

So if you’re feeling that way this week, take comfort. You’re not alone. And also remember, they got Nixon in the end. Trump might be on top now, but history has a way of flipping the script.

Bottom Line: San Francisco OG Punks, back in the day

To purchase “Order of Appearance” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

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Categories: Business

Personal Projects: Ashton Ray Hanson

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 05/11/2017 - 10:00am

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Ashton Ray Hanson

Van Life is a new project I am excited to work on. This project focuses on the lives of individuals who have left their homes to explore this beautiful planet by means of modified vans. These people come from all over the world and are from all walks of life. What wonderful people I have met so far!

Personal Project, Guanella Pass, Van Life, Lifestyle, Colorado, Camping, Mountains, Rocky Mountains,

Personal Project, Guanella Pass, Van Life, Lifestyle, Colorado, Camping, Mountains, Rocky Mountains,

Personal Project, Guanella Pass, Van Life, Lifestyle, Colorado, Camping, Mountains, Rocky Mountains,

Personal Project, VanLife, Kathleen, Greg, Idledale, CO, Colorado, TinyHouseTinyFootprint, Morrison, Lifestyle, Documentary

To see more of this project, click here

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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

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Categories: Business

Jerry Saltz: My Life As a Failed Artist

A Photo Editor's Blog - Wed, 05/10/2017 - 10:50am

But then I looked back, into the abyss of self-doubt. I erupted with fear, self-loathing, dark thoughts about how bad my work was, how pointless, unoriginal, ridiculous. “You don’t know how to draw,” I told myself. “You never went to school. Your work has nothing to do with anything. You’re not a real artist. Your art is irrelevant. You don’t know art history. You can’t paint. You aren’t a good schmoozer. You’re too poor. You don’t have enough time to make your work. No one cares about you. You’re a fake. You only draw and work small because you’re too afraid to paint and work big.”Every artist does battle, every day, with doubts like these. I lost the battle. It doomed me. But also made me the critic I am today.

Read More: Jerry Saltz: My Life As a Failed Artist

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Categories: Business

The Daily Edit – Shea Evans: Technicolor

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 05/09/2017 - 10:54am



Shea Evans

Heidi: How has this style evolved into your editorial and commercial work?
Shea: After building up a small amount of these images, I began to wonder if they might have some commercial applications for product shots.  Once I had five or six images to show, I reached out to a creative director I had worked with previously.  This was really casual, just over text (her preferred mode of communication), “Hey, I’ve been working with this style recently, I haven’t seen it around before, if you think you might have a client that it would be a good fit for, I’d love to work with you again”.  Just so happened that she was looking for a new style to match an imminent project.  We ended up working together to craft four images for her client in this color shadow style.  The end client was thrilled with the unique look and used the images as large storefront window posters.

What type of feedback are you getting from the personal body of work?
I’d say the feedback has been positive.  Certainly, with this type of work, the reaction has usually been “whoa!”, but part of that is because it’s such a departure from my previous work, which has a very natural, real and organic feel to it.  This has none of that.  I had a previous personal project, Deconstructed Flavor, that always seemed to excite people.  It leads to a lot more interviews than it did actual work (though I sold some prints and did do a commissioned cover).  But interviews can be great marketing, so I think if nothing else personal work can help in that way.  I don’t think you can really do personal work with an eye to turn it into jobs, it’s just not going to be genuine that way.

How did this style develop?
I started this particular project not as personal work, but more an exploration of technique.  I had had an issue on a shoot with mixing color temperatures from ambient and strobe light sources and so I began experimenting with using gels on my lights to try to match up temps, and really just see what my options were.  I had only used a warming gel here and there in the past but didn’t have much knowledge beyond that.

Pretty quickly into experimenting though, I started to notice the shadow effects I was getting out of combining gels.  And I started to play with multiple gels and subjects.  I got completely distracted from my original purpose.

Just on a creative level, it felt good to completely go away from my style of “real, natural, organic”.  In this way, my personal work has served as a kind of release valve for built up pressure by being boxed in by my own commissioned work.

What are the brain twisting gear elements you are referring to in your comment?
The shadows themselves are related to lights and gels you choose to use.  That’s pretty obvious.  What isn’t obvious though, is that the color of the shadow is related to the gel of the opposing light, not the one casting the shadow.  Also, depending on what combination of gels you use, that affects the color combination of shadows, change one gel out and the one that remains will also be affected and won’t be the same shade in the new image.  In addition to this, power in your light source has a great effect on the color, from a deeper color to a more pastel depending.  On top of this, some gels are denser, requiring more or less power from a light, so any change involves this total recalibration of your lighting setup to achieve a balance.  Then there’s the middle shadow to consider.  If you have an image where the shadows overlap, that creates a third color/shade or shape element.  How do you want that to look?  Then there’s the shape of the shadows themselves, long or short?  How can you turn the subject to get a more interesting shadow or a less interesting one?  Is that shadow too distracting?  Is it too small?  This work has a much more fine line between “Cool!” and “Crap!” than I’m used to working with on my more “normal” tabletop food work.  On the other hand, it makes it that much harder for someone else can replicate.  Lately, it feels like everyone can offer a “window-lit looking food/product beauty” so it feels good to have a difficult shot like this in my offering to clients.

How do you see this work influencing your current brand and style?
I don’t know if it represents a departure point as much as a branch.  I’m not evolving into a new style so much as adding something to my toolbox.  Any photography is partially about light and how you use it.  I love playing with big soft light and also really hard light and everything in between.  I think this is just another option and an expansion of that knowledge of how to use light.

Are you concerned about having too wide of a range with your style and becoming fractured?
A little?  Certainly, it is a little hard working this into the rhythm of my larger portfolio book since it looks is so different.  On the other hand, I’m running a business.  I’m a photographer but what I sell is products.  Before this shoot, my products were, “editorial food beauty”, “food lifestyle”, “portraits of people in the food industry”, “environments in the food industry”, “product in the food industry in a natural setting”.  This simply adds “product in the food industry in a DYNAMIC UN-natural setting” to that list.  It’s still under the umbrella of food/product and I think if I keep it like that, I’ll still be “niched” while really being able to keep my options open for client’s needs.

How do you decide what style to use?
I think that simply comes down to client preferences.  What look do they want for their product?  This could simply be another look I could give them, but of course, I’d be happy to continue with the “natural look” as well.  I’m not in this to force my artistic vision on the world.

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Categories: Business

The Daily Promo: Elizabeth Cecil

A Photo Editor's Blog - Mon, 05/08/2017 - 10:15am

Elizabeth Cecil


Who printed it?

 Hemlock Printing

Who designed it?
Claire Lindsey 

Who edited the images?
Melissa McGill  

How many did you make?
 100. Each booklet is 22 pages. The inside pages are recycled paper and the cover has a matte, soft-touch finish.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
 2-3 times a year

Are you booklets seasonal?
When we decided to create this small booklet for a promo, we went into the project planning to do a small series. We have done three booklets, Fall, Summer, Winter/Spring. It was fun to think about the booklets in a series and to tailor the work to somewhat represent the season. We did a small run with the intention of really targeting our audience with this special piece. We had great feedback, one being that people have kept the books. We hoped that they would stay with people and create a little visual library of the work. 

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Categories: Business

This Week in Photography Books: Sigrid Ehemann

A Photo Editor's Blog - Fri, 05/05/2017 - 10:10am

 

“If you build it, they will come.”

Has such a line ever been uttered in the history of cinema?

How is it possible that one tiny part of an 80’s baseball movie, (when no one even cares about baseball anymore,) could have become a mantra for so many varied things in the ensuing decades.

Sure, “Field of Dreams” had both James Earl Jones and a peak hotness Kevin Costner, but I’d argue that one line is more meaningful than the plot of the entire film.

Ghosts coming back to play baseball?
Sorry.
Not remotely plausible.

But that one line, rather than just being a movie quote that nerds like to bandy about, is a philosophical conceit that can apply to life itself, industry, creativity, you name it. (For pure quotability, it’s always “Caddyshack.”)

If you build it, they will come presents the idea that sometimes, you have to commit to something before you know if it will work. Or even ever come to exist.

It’s like, are you the kind of person who would move to a new city without a house or a job, or does that seem unimaginable to you?

Are you willing to self-finance your next photo project, because you believe in yourself, or do you only do something once the funding is in place first? (Grant, commission, sales, whatnot.)

I’m thinking of such things, having recently returned home from the New York Portfolio Review, which is produced by the New York Times Lens blog, and is held each April at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, just up the block from the Times Building, near Times Square. (Shout out to the excellent CUNY hosts.)

I’m going to write about the best work I saw in the coming weeks, but straight off, I have to tell you guys that in a day and a half, I was able to look at work from photographers on five Continents.

That’s all of humanity, save for Australia.

I’ve reported here before that James Estrin, David Gonzalez, and the Lens team work very hard to build a diverse event. Their outreach efforts are extensive, and result in the most well-mixed room I’ve ever been in.

Ever.

It’s like the 7 train of photographic talent, and I actually paid my own way to get there. Because I think it’s that important to get the chance to hear stories from such varied places, filtered through the lens of such capable photographers. (And videographers, these days.)

The review is free, and the NYT carries serious weight, so you get people applying from everywhere, and even the breadth I encountered was less than in past years, I was told, as multiple photographers had visa issues under the Trump administration.

If you build it, they will come.
You put the intention out there, and see what follows.

I’ve told you guys many times that this column is now user-supported. What I get, I can write about.

And I recently lamented that so much of the column had been about historical projects or heavy political issues of late. I practically begged for someone to send me the kind of thing I often got at photo-eye.

Self-published, or small batch.
Funny. Absurd. Reacting to life’s surreality with a dose of the ridiculous.

Send me something like that, I asked.

And wouldn’t you know it, but “Bruno is a Celebrity,” a new, self-published 2017 offering from Sigrid Ehemann, from Dusseldorf, Germany, turned up in the mail this week.

Thank you, Sigrid.

I’ve been waiting for this for some time now. I love great production values as much as the next guy, and praise them often. But I’m a Marshall McLuhan acolyte at heart. (The medium is the message.)

Some books need to be slick, and some don’t. This one looks like it could have been made at a high end Kinkos. It’s bound like a book report circa 1997, if you were really trying to impress your teacher.

Except for the pink on the cover, which adds a touch of whimsy. (Kooky colors inside too.)

It quickly becomes evident that Bruno is a small dog. I’d call him ugly, but then I know people think chihuahuas are cute too, so I’ll accept he might be adorable.

The book is broken up with text pages, in all caps, that are of-the-moment-critical of our contemporary-digital-narcissistic-Trumptastic-surveillance-state-NOW times.

It’s nominally about Bruno, (also a Sasha Baron Cohen alter ego,) but is really about all of us.

HE BEFRIENDS HIS OWN IMAGES ON TWITTER
HE CURATES HIS OWN BREAKFAST
HE LOVES HIS CHAINS & LEATHER BANDS (Well, that one actually makes sense.)

I could quote most of the text, because it’s funny in the OMG-this-is-actually-happening-kind of way. It’s resigned to our Trumpian moment, but also manages to say Fuck You while still being irreverent.

Humor does that.

Other than just being silly pictures of cute, little Bruno, (who has 5,475,127 followers on Instagram,) there are also strange, appropriated-looking images. Like the preacher hands or the celebrity singers.

Others, of dog toys, seem like they could have been shot for this book.

I love this thing, because it feels hot off the presses. Because it is hot off the presses. Rather than just being one more set of opinions on a screen, (like this one, I know,) it’s a bound group of pictures and words.

A book.
Old school.

When a man gets to be President who bragged about grabbing women by the pussy, why can’t a photobook say, about a dog, for crying out loud, “Bruno loves to fuck beautiful bitches.”

2017 is definitely that kind of moment.

Later, on another text page, we see

HE HAS MET DONALD TRUMP & HIS FAMILY
DONALD TRUMP IS SUCH A WONDERFUL ICON
HE LOVES THE PRESIDENTS HAIR & DANCE MOVES
HE ADORES THE PRESIDENT’S CURRENT WIFE
HE LOVES PRETTY SPICY, THE PRESS SECRETARY

This book is about Bruno.
And it isn’t.
It manages to push ideas, and critique culture, while also having fun in the process.

Kudos, Sigrid.
Keep up the good work.

Bottom Line: A fun, cool, silly self-published book about Bruno

To purchase “Bruno is a Celebrity,” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

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Categories: Business

Personal Projects: Evan McGlinn

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 05/04/2017 - 10:00am

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Evan McGlinn

I was originally asked to travel to Newtok, Alaska for a major US clothing company that wanted to rebrand itself as being an environmentally savvy and green. I was told to write a story and take dramatic photographs to document how Newtok, Alaska was sinking into the sea because of rising global temperatures and melting permafrost.

When I submitted the story and the photographs, the CEO of the company thought it was too depressing and she requested that I remove any mention of “climate change” from the article.

I asked that my name be taken off the article.

Many of my pictures – the ones showing garbage strewn about the town and muddy seawater amongst crumbling wooden boardwalks – were omitted from the story. “Don’t you have any images that are happier?” I was asked.

No I do not.

The situation in Newtok is more dire than my photographs could possibly convey and I have posted the original draft of my story on my website so that people can understand what is happening all across Alaska and the northern part of the globe. Similar stories are playing out in the Solomon Islands and other coastal regions of the world. We ignore these stories, and these images, at our own peril.

To see more of this project, click here

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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

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Visit our sponsor Photo Folio, providing websites to professional photographers for over 9 years. Featuring the only customizable template in the world.

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Categories: Business

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