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Former Photography Director Rob Haggart
Updated: 47 min 6 sec ago

Work from Photo NOLA, Part 1

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 10:38am

It’s Wednesday morning. I’m sitting at my kitchen table, where I like to write. Outside the window, the snow has just begun to fall. White flakes drop from the sky like so many perfect coins, tossed into Trevi Fountain.

In the black wood stove, piñon logs gurgle as their latent energy is converted into heat. The flames crackle too; the only sounds I hear in this otherwise silent, winter world.

It’s the Holiday Season, and we’re all getting ready to shut things down for a little while. To spend time with our families, perhaps take a vacation. Do our best to regenerate for 2015.

Just this morning, I was thinking about that word. Holiday. Clearly, it stems from the two words Holy and Day. Holy? That’s a word that’s been mostly bled of meaning, outside of true believers.

How might we re-interpret it, bring it down to Earth, give it a connotation that seems more relevant in our confusing, futuristic, and yet anachronistic times? (2014 being the year in which territorial land grabs became popular again. Just like the old days.)

As I said last week, I live in a magical place. This is known. The big mountain to the East is revered as sacred by the local Native American Tribe. They see the land as Holy.

Others, hippies mostly, call that same mountain a vortex, one of the few places in the world where energy carries mystical properties. Or maybe you’ve heard of the Taos Hum, which is not an actual topic of discussion here in town.

Regardless, there is enough evidence, personal and historical, for me to call this place special. When you live here, you realize that not all things can be explained. Science is great, but some knowledge comes from elsewhere. Just like the Big Bang is much like any other creation myth.

Once you’re comfortable assigning magical properties to one place, it’s not so hard to do it to another.

But where?

I’m willing to put the great city of New Orleans on that list too.

During my recent visit, I found there were some odd similarities between this little mountain town in the High Desert, and that classy city in the Louisiana swamp. (Odd, but true.)

I’d guess it’s because each locale was not founded by Puritan America. New Mexico was a Spanish Colony before anyone had ever seen Plymouth Rock. The French built New Orleans, and the resulting gorgeous architecture speaks to their legacy.

Here, the Catholic tradition believed in Saints. Mysticism was real. Penitentes whipped themselves in small mud huts. Those aforementioned Native Americans, even today, perform ceremonies that amalgamate animism with Catholicism. Spooky, beautiful stuff.

I know nothing of Voodoo, myself, but New Orleans clearly has a history of religious mashup too. Slaves from Africa mixed with Acadians. Local Native American tribes were thrown into the mix, resulting in parades filled with African-American “Indians.”

Americans came late to this particular party.

That’s a long introduction, I’m well aware. But this is to be my last piece for 2014, so I thought I’d go down swinging. Plus, the luxurious snowflakes have put me in a thoughtful mood.

My trip to New Orleans a couple of weeks ago re-enforced these ideas. There is something special in the air there, and it’s clear I’m not the only one that thinks so. It’s a tourist mecca for good reason. You don’t just go for the food and the drink and the chance to see flashed boobs. (I saw none.)

You go because in such places, we can be reminded that it’s a good thing, that the inexplicable exists. Who wants to live in a world where all the answers are at our fingertips?

Not me.

Google is great for offering up the illusion of omniscience. But it just that, I assure you. Illusory.

I’m betting you’d like some evidence.
How’s this?

When the time came to leave, my wife and I hopped into a taxi cab. Immediately, it was clear that our loquacious driver was that type of local. Witty, charismatic, and dripping with down-home wisdom.

When discussing the propensity of professional football players to find themselves in trouble, he pointed out that we all have the capacity for violence. And murder. Those guys are just people, like the rest of us. We all have our stresses, which lead to bad decisions.

“Pressure bursts pipes,” he said. How true.

As he continued, one story hilariously leading to the next, I happened to look down at his name. Lucien.

Lucien? I rubbed my temples. That was the name of the cab driver I had when I last left town, back in 2012. He even made it into the story I wrote, published on this very blog.

Could it be? What were the odds?

I mentioned my theory about why people loved New Orleans so much. Because the locals, as much as they cherish their culture, are happy to share it with everyone. They clearly relish the fact that people revel in the spirit of the place, and take a smidge of it home with them. (As opposed to places like Taos, where each new visitor wants to shut the door behind them. And the descendants of Conquistadors give tourists a good mad-dog look whenever they can.)

Responding to that theory, Lucien said, “It don’t cost anything extra to be nice.” Which was the exact same thing he said two years ago, on which I quoted him.

That sealed the deal. The heavens had intervened. Chance reared its head, and then went back to sleep, allowing some Holy Spirit to give my wife and me the perfect escort to our plane.

Call me crazy. Call me a hippie. I don’t care. Just don’t call it a coincidence.

As artists, it’s important that we be willing to suspend our disbelief, from time to time. After all, our calling is alchemy, not science. Creation is messy, and can not be written up into an algorithm.

The keynote lecturer at photoNOLA was the great Emmet Gowin. This was more or less the crux of his lecture, which had everyone transfixed. I took notes on my Iphone, but think, this many words into the article, that I’ll save that conversation for the next piece.

I saw so many good projects at the portfolio review that I will be writing three stories, so there’s plenty of time to meander into the bigger ideas that motivate us. (The good stuff, as far as inspiration goes.)

Rest assured, the New Orleans Photo Alliance, the non-profit that runs Photo NOLA, does a bang up job. They run a terrific festival, and showed me a hell of a good time. I’m thrilled to have seen so much to share with you, and will commence with that now.

Before I stop musing, though, I’d like to wish you a magical Holiday season. May you get all the gifts you desire, and let’s hope some of them don’t cost anything at all.

On to the photographers.

As with the articles about the Medium Festival, I’m not putting these fine artists in any order. We’ll look at some this week, and the re-start the process in 2015.

Larry Colby is a photographer from Boynton Beach, Florida. This is his second career, as he was originally a financial planner. But he’s all in on photography, these days, and his work was the first I saw.

Larry photographs in a local soup kitchen, which feeds a collection of Central and South American immigrant communities. He’s been focusing primarily on the children. Their portraits, in particular. I encouraged him to step back a bit, give us the cinematic equivalent of establishment shots. But also to dig deeper into the issues of poverty and immigration on a grander scale.

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Jan Arrigo is a Southern photographer who did stints in the publishing world, including a stretch at Oxford University Press. Jan has spent 20 years photographing animals in zoos, at night, with the intention of publishing a book. It all began with the kangaroo picture, which she took after getting boxed by one of the creatures in Australia.

We discussed whether she ought to try to market the project as a children’s book, which was her original intent, or try to make something for the mass market. Alternatively, she’s also considering doing a small-run photo book for the photo community.

Clearly, she’ll have to decide where the project will fit best, and what’s most important to her. Then it will be easier to accomplish her goal. But all good books need good photos, and I thought these were pretty cool. Even better, her leave-behind was a box of animal crackers covered in small versions of her photos. Very clever.

A black bird perched on a tree outside a window appears as if from a dream in this black and white photo portrait taken in Orlando, Florida.

A Florida raptor stares intensely ahead in this black and white photo portrait by Jan Arrigo.

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Black and white photo portrait of a flying monkey by Jan Arrigo.

A snake stares into the camera's lens in this Jan Arrigo black and white photo.

Two bear cubs show their claws in this fight captured by Jan Arrigo in a black and white photograph.

A Louisiana brown bear stares into the camera in this black and white photo portrait taken at the Audubon zoo in New Orleans.

A male lion pants under a moonlit night in this landscape photo portrait.

As if posing this Western Lowland gorilla gazes into the camera in this black and white photo by Jan Arrigo.

Two black birds react to a photographer in the Florida Everglades in this black and white photo.

This black and white photo portrait of a large white rhino shows him eating an herbivorous diet.

Black and white photo portrait of a boxing kangaroo by Jan Arrigo.

Brad Hamilton was visiting from New York. He’s been working on a project that attempts to add a digital, 21st Century twist to classic street photography. Not unlike Barry Frydlender, he mashes up multiple images, taken over time, into one frame.

I was intrigued by the fact that Brad often chooses neutral backgrounds, out in the real world. He sets himself in front of construction sites, places where a large swath has been painted white. Then he shoots tens of thousands of pictures, so he said.

The photographs enable him to create narrative or symbolic connections. He often titles them by the street corner that he adopts as his temporary home.

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Ashley McDowell is a young photographer from the Boston area. She studied photography at the undergraduate and graduate level, recently receiving an MFA from Syracuse, where she worked with Doug DuBois.

Ashley’s work is as personal as it gets. She’s been working on a long-term project that focuses on her sister’s heroin addiction, and the havoc it’s wreaked on her family’s collective life. Some images were fraught, and others were too subtle for the subject matter, I felt. The lists, held up in several photos, represent the items her sister stole from her family.

The best work is so personal that it allows an artist to tap right into the collective unconscious. The more honest we are, the more likely we are to tell a story with which many others can relate. I thought Ashley’s strongest images were well on their way to creating the type of empathy with tragedy, and addiction, that will captivate an audience.

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Bob Bright is a long-time commercial photographer based in Los Angeles. And he’s a life-long resident as well. One of those people who remembers when the megalopolis felt like a small town. When the dreams of the world were focused on Hollywood. Fame. Glamour. A better life.

Bob’s photographs parallel that by looking at the aging architecture and infrastructure of LA. He’s got a great medium format digital camera, and the high-resolution, modernist renderings match well with the faded, modernist glory. As we sifted through the project, finding the strongest through-line, I felt the metaphorical qualities begin to shine through.

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Finally, we’ll end with Leigh Webber. As I wrote last week, I mostly treat these meetings as critiques, these days. I’ll tell people immediately if I can publish their work here, or pitch it to the Lens Blog. No secrets about that, so I don’t leave tension hanging in the air.

It allows me to ask questions about why someone has come to the table. Where they are in their career. What type of feedback I can offer to be as helpful as possible.

For Leigh, it was difficult. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina, and has been shooting commercially, and doing weddings, for years. That’s her comfort zone.

She came to Photo NOLA, though, to introduce her work to a fine art audience. She knew nothing about it, and was taking a chance. Putting herself out there.

What she showed me was understandably jumbled. There were five different groupings of two or three pictures. Nothing coherent, but all well made. And everything focused on her son, as he grew up.

I told Leigh if she wanted to go through her archive, when she got home, and find a consistent voice, I’d be happy to take another look and see if I could publish it. Many photographers would have seen that as a rejection, not a challenge.

Leigh, true to her desire to grow, and learn new things, took me up on the offer. She sent the edit I’m showing now, which has something of the wild spirit of youth, mixed up with a mother’s love. I dig the photos, and hope you do too.

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As always, the lesson is not to settle with what you know. Not to get lazy with your skills. I hold myself to the same standards, and am working on some new ideas for next year. Things I currently have no idea how to accomplish.

That’s where we find the good stuff. All the best, and see you next year.

Categories: Business

The Art of the Personal Project: Mike Marques

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 10:21am

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Mike Marques

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How long have you been shooting?
12 years professionally

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I am a graduate of The New England School of Photography in Boston.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Personal work is what keeps me going so I am constantly thinking about topics and concepts. At that time, I wanted to have a Connecticut focused topic that needed more attention than it was getting. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, CT Chapter had been a client of mine for a couple years and I attended one of their fundraising events. I came across a book, published by the national chapter, that had portraits of people across the country diagnosed with MS. Not one person was from Connecticut. The number of diagnosed CT residents was about 6500 then.

I contacted the chapter about creating a book on a local level. At first, there was push back because publishing a book costs money and they weren’t interested. I had to change my approach. All I asked was for them to let me photograph some residents to show them where I was coming from. They started to understand my view of wanting the local community to see that MS is close to home. After meeting with the communications director a few times she agreed to reach out to some residents.

I personally did not have any connection to the disease and was not too familiar with it. There is no cure and it affects everyone very differently. I knew this would present its challenges and force me to think outside of my wheelhouse.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
At the beginning it was just about creating a few portraits. We put the idea of a book aside and just focused on one resident at a time. The MS chapter came up with lists of names of who could be photographed and we discussed which stories which raise the most awareness. I spoke directly with my subjects before photographing them and talked about how MS has affected them and what they have done to still live the life they want to live. MS affects people differently both physically and mentally so the approach to each portrait was new every time. One of the earlier portraits was of Karen Guarnaccia (in wheel chair, sitting in front of sliding glass door). MS has had a large affect on her physically – some days getting out of bed was not an option. The final image was Karen on a good day. I arrived at the MS office a few days after the shoot with a 16×20 print of Karen. The director finally realized the type of images I wanted to create and the impact they could have in our community. We started meeting on a regular basis to discuss possible subjects. We reached out to well over 100 people, many of which did not want to take part for various reasons. At first we set the number at 25 portraits. When we hit 25, there were some things the images had not addressed so we kept moving forward.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
We started shooting in September of 2010 and the last portrait was taken in December of 2013. We sometimes went a month without photographing anyone. Between me traveling for assignments and the chapter having busier times throughout the year, scheduling was often difficult. Also, we did not shoot much in the summer months due to the most common symptom of MS being heat sensitivity.

Something I decided from the very beginning was that whatever was to become of this project, the final images needed to be shown together as a whole. There are so many stages and severities of the disease that one image alone could not tell the whole story. This idea led us to word “mosaic” – each portrait is strong on its own though everything together reveals an even bigger picture. Word started to get out about the project so we did release a few images that could be used for press and social media.

In February 2014, we had a gallery opening to reveal i am a MoSaic and to show gratitude to those who took part. Many had not seen their portrait until the day of the gallery opening. Some people’s MS had progressed since their portrait was taken. There were many tears, some of sadness and some of joy. It was a wonderful day and a truly humbling experience.

Since the original show, the images have been on display at the Connecticut State Capital in Hartford, The Grove – a co working space in New Haven, CT, and the Aetna world headquarters. I am currently working on putting together a fundraising event in Stamford, CT (just outside NYC) for March 2015. The images would be on display a few weeks before and after the event.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Portfolio shooting has more of an initial direction and focus you are going for. I was ok letting this project take shape on its own without thinking too much about it. I wasn’t concerned as much about the photography but more about the communication and understanding going into a shoot. I do not work with models often, I photograph real people. With any portrait, there needs to be a level of trust between myself and my subjects. Putting something like MS in the middle of all of that presents a whole other element I don’t deal with often. Working this way changed the way I shoot – for the better – and helped me grow as a photographer.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I usually post to my blog and that feeds into my Facebook and Twitter. There were numerous production and behind the scenes images throughout the years as the work was being created. Once the project was complete, I had a routine to post a few of the final images per week for a little over three months.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
We did get a good amount of traction from our initial social media outreach. Through that, I was able organized an NPR panel with three of the subjects and myself. I did a couple morning TV shows as well as numerous print media around the state. The MS Chapter continues to use these images for marketing and raising awareness in all media.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I have created a promo piece specifically focused on i am a MoSaic. It is a 8.5” x 5.5” handmade book with images from the project and the story behind it. I also built a website dedicated to the project: www.iamamosaic.com

Project Statement:

i am a MoSaic is a collection of images portraying Connecticut’s many faces of multiple sclerosis. It is collaboration between photographer Mike Marques and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Connecticut Chapter. As a dedicated volunteer and supporter of the National MS Society, Mike has traveled around the state for nearly three years capturing residents living life as fully as possible in the face of MS. More than 40 residents of all ages, races, genders, and abilities were photographed. This is a unique and moving portrait of the many ways in which people live with this potentially debilitating disease. Together, the images become a composite picture of hope and resilience.

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Mike Marques is a portrait and lifestyle photographer based in West Hartford, CT. The images he creates are the result of the trusting relationships he builds with his subjects. When he’s not traveling on assignment, he can be found cycling the backroads of Connecticut or on a hike with his cattle dog. His clients include Connecticut Magazine, General Electric, Health Dialog, United Bank, World Wrestling Entertainment.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Categories: Business

A Visit To The Getty

Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:55am

The phone beeped in the middle of the night. A text. Must have been Dad, I thought, shaking off my dreams. He wakes up at 3:30 in the morning. He must have sent me good wishes on the trip.

Jesus Christ, Dad. It’s the middle of the night. Give me a f-cking break.

I swatted at the phone to shut it up, and went back to bed. I was due up super-early to head to California, so I was none-too-pleased to have my anxiety-ridden sleep interrupted any further.

Parents.

When the phone beeped again, this time as an alarm clock, I rolled out of bed at 5. My eyes refused to open, like a recalcitrant clamshell. I looked at my messages, mentally composing a text to Dad that would included some impolite language.

Except it wasn’t Dad. It was Southwest airlines. They’d texted me at 3:55 am to say my flight had been cancelled.

Ouch.

I had a serious cortisol drop, and tried to reschedule through the website, but that was useless. So before you know it, I was talking to a grumpy customer service rep, who’d been working straight through the night, trying to figure out how to salvage my trip.

At 5am.
Not fun.

(You try being civil and polite under such circumstances.)

When all was said and done, I made it to LA. But I routed through Vegas, and lost a bunch of time. Time I meant to spend at the J. Paul Getty Museum, looking at art, so I could report back to you.

They’d graciously set up a few meetings on my behalf, to have some of the curators show me work, as their photo exhibitions were changing over. They had to move things around to accommodate, and I had to apologize for the airline shenanigans. No harm, no foul, I suppose.

I only mention the drama because I’d been bragging to my wife the night before about how good I’d gotten at avoiding and managing stress. I’m a road warrior, I said, or something like that.

Which only guaranteed that things would go to Hell as quickly as possible. Cancelled flight? Yes. 25 minute wait for the rental car shuttle? Sure. 1 hour wait for the rental car? Of course. Construction on the 405 that rendered my careful directions useless? Naturally.

By the time I turned up at the museum, improperly dressed for the 85 degree day, I was salty and grouchy and spent. Not much good to the world, unfortunately. Much less as a journalist who was meant to at least APPEAR intelligent.

Luckily, for those of you who don’t know, the Getty Center is set on a hilltop overlooking all of Los Angeles to the East, and the Pacific Ocean to the West. It is as beautiful a setting as you are likely to find, for a museum, anywhere.

So I sat down for a few minutes, when I finally arrived. Caught my breath. Took in some sun. Breathed deeply. And I felt better.
Who wouldn’t?

My first move was to go to see Peter Paul Rubens’ gigantic tapestries in an exhibition that had just opened. Apparently, in the Baroque period, some Spanish royalty commissioned him to design 20 foot wide tapestries that depicted the victory of the Eucharist. The dominance of Catholicism.

Spain controlled the Southern Netherlands, which is now Belgium, and wanted to take over Holland, which was Protestant. The artist first made a series of phenomenal oil paintings, which were also displayed, and then had those pieces transcribed into cloth, on an enormous scale, by other artisans.

As near as I could tell, it was straight-up propaganda. (Nothing new, if you’ve seen European art before.) The Catholic Church was the prevailing power structure, and had plenty of funds, so it was a solid patron, albeit one with a clear agenda.

I looked at the work for a while, in the dark room, and then stepped outside and looked at the Pacific Ocean. I repeated the pattern two more times. In all my years of looking at art, visiting museums, and traveling around, I’ve never done anything like that before.

The fresh air helped me suss out my thoughts. The paintings were taut and packed with energy. Once translated into another medium as tapestries though, they lost the viscerality of the originals. What was forfeited in emotive power was more than likely gained with the impressive scale, as far as delivering the message. Fear us. We are coming to convert your souls. The Eucharist bows before no man. (Or something like that.)

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Soon enough, I found myself in the innards of the museum, still wearing my puffy vest in the 85 degree weather. At least it will be freezing in there, I thought, so I’ll be glad to have it. This place, unlike every other museum I’ve visited, was not chilled to perfection, though.

So I ended up sweating as the meeting got started.

Not. Very. Classy.

I took the vest off, allowed the air-con to do its job, and began to parse what was going on before me. Which I will report to you, finally, now…

The Getty had arranged for me to meet Nancy Perloff, a curator at the Getty Research Institute, who was putting on a large exhibition about World War I, and the propaganda imagery that flooded the Continent. (In honor of the Centennial.) She was interested in the visual language that was used to depict the War, but also the manner in which imagery was manipulated to present one’s enemies in unflattering ways.

The exhibit, “World War I: War of Images, Images of War,” has since opened, so you ought to go see it. I did not have the opportunity, I’m afraid. We were joined in our conversation by Mazie Harris, a curator from the photography department.

Ms. Perloff presented us with a 6-photo panel piece made in London in WWI. She said it was the only photography that was included in the exhibit, so they carted it over to show me. Very decent of them.

The images were made of a German dirigible that hung over London, in 1916, lobbing bombs down below. It seemed like an early version of a drone, where superior technology enabled one side to pummel another from a safe distance.

But those Brits were crafty, so the series showed the floating beast lit up from below by spotlights. And then it was shot down, probably by airplanes, though that was not entirely clear in the pictures.

The first two were straight black and white, then a third was more of a sepia color. The last three pictures, while the wreck descended in flames, were rendered in red. Totally expressionistic.

We discussed the photographer, H. Scott Orr, of whom I’d never heard. Had he made money off the images by releasing post cards? Ms. Harris showed us some provenance work she’d done, when other such images came on the market. We discussed the degree of research that goes into the job.

Curators are often seen as glamorous these days. Practically art stars, in the public’s opinion. But I must say, whenever I spend quality time, I see them as scholars and historians. Right there in LA, talking about history, war, culture, and research, it was clear that I was dealing with people who’d devoted their lives to discovery.

Were the flaming blimp pictures propaganda, I was asked? I thought not, because H. Scott Orr was just making his work; doing his thing. If he’d been commissioned, like Rubens, and supplied with a message beforehand, I would have said yes.

We wondered how the colors were achieved? As the resident photographer in the room, I suggested toning. I’d seen a heap of hand-colored Russian images at FOAM in 2013, and they look very different.

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

After a while, our discussion broke up, and Ms. Perloff and Ms. Harris moved along. Amanda Maddox, who’d been quietly doing her work, right there in the room the whole time, looked up from her notes and introduced herself. She’s also a photography curator, and was working on the new Josef Koudelka exhibition that has since opened.

She’d spent the better part of six years on the project, which was meant to be the first major, complete retrospective of the artist’s career. They’d given over their entire photography exhibition space for the show, which was also a first.

Ms. Maddox showed me “The Wall,” an accordion-fold book that Mr. Koudelka had made for “This Place,” the Israeli photo project we’ve discussed thrice in my book review column. Apparently, Mr. Koudelka’s solution to being invited was to focus on the wall dividing Israel from the presumptive Palestine, and then make only two copies of the book.

As they stretched the book wide, which would ultimately reach nearly 40′, I was reminded of that classic SoCal accordion-fold book, “Every Building on the Sunset Strip,” by the ultimate LA guy, Ed Ruscha.

At that moment, in walked Virginia Heckert, the chief photo curator at the Getty. I pointed out the comparison, and she mentioned the book review I wrote where I called “bullshit” on Mr. Ruscha for claiming he’d never heard of Stephen Shore, Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, or Nicholas Nixon. (FYI, Mr. Baltz has since passed away. RIP.)

I asked Ms. Maddox why Koudelka? If she was going to devote 6 year of her life to something like this, marrying her passion, work ethic, research skills, and all the other component parts, why him?

There must be a reason.

She replied that Mr. Koudelka had demonstrated a level of commitment she found fascinating. After he had to leave Prague for publishing anonymous photographs following the Soviet invasion, he based himself in London. But he soon began photographing the Gypsy, or Roma communities, for which he became famous.

For years, she told me, he was essentially homeless. Following the human migration, sleeping outside, where he could. He’d head back to London for the winters only, as it was too extreme to live outdoors. He’d given his life for his art, Ms. Maddox said, and so she was devoting a chunk of her own to honor that.

She also showed me some mini-accordion-fold books that he makes, by hand, and keeps in his back pocket. They’re his maquettes for book ideas, though they look as much like a Hello Kitty version of a photo book: adorable, and the kind of thing you want to touch. (They didn’t let me, though. Touch them.)

After a couple of hours, I let everyone get back to their jobs, and set out to do more of mine, which meant wandering around the museum until it closed, looking at art. Chatting up the people who worked there. Having a good time.

Honestly, the staff I encountered at the Getty were just so nice. And helpful. The folks at the info desk, the security guards, the coat check lady, the curators, media contacts. Everyone. I’m sure it takes a ridiculous sum of money to keep that place running, though with the name Getty attached, I doubt we have to worry about their endowment.

Aside from a fee to park, the museum is free. There is a vast amount of amazing things to see. Gardens to walk through. Views to take in.

If you live in Southern California, or are heading there any time soon, I’m telling you to go there. As soon as you can. I was embarrassed to admit I’d never been to visit before. Now, I can’t wait to go back.

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Categories: Business

The Daily Edit – More Magazine: Emily Shur

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:05am

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More Magazine

Creative Director: Debra Bishop

Photo Director: Natasha Lunn

Photo Editor: Stephanie Swanicke

Photographer: Emily Shur

Who did the graphic sign for the first shot did that come from the magazine?
Yes the lettering on the sign came from the magazine.  This shot was conceived ahead of time because the art director knew he was going to use this image as the opener.  The magazine asked me to photograph Nadia (our model) with and without the piece of cardboard she’s holding.

Styling and casting seem essential for this project. Who was the stylist and what made you choose this person
The stylist was Jessie Cohan, and she did an amazing job.  I was really hoping to work with a stylist on this shoot that could elevate the images.  I loved Jessie’s sensibility, and she had a great mix of shoots on her site from sculptural high fashion to more bohemian feeling stories that looked like they had a blend of vintage and current pieces.  Since this wasn’t technically a fashion story, we weren’t limited to certain brands or seasons.  So, I wanted to do what felt right for the different shots.  I also wanted to find the right styling balance where everything felt fresh and modern even though our girl in the story was supposed to be kind of a mess.

Tell me about the collaboration with the magazine, how did that unfold?
The magazine had a very clear vision of what they wanted the images to look like.  They used a past shoot of mine as reference for the light and color palette which was great.  It’s helpful for me to have direction when I start thinking about a shoot so I can visualize the images before I make them.  So, we had that as a starting point and then we worked together to collaborate on the five different shots and what our model should be doing in each one.  The story was already written so we had five specific branding-challenged “characters” we were going to be shooting.

What were you looking for in the casting? Long hair must have been essential for the looks, what else?
I actually didn’t think too much about the hair!  I sort of figured we could use wigs if needed, but having a model with red hair was a huge bonus in the end.  I was mainly looking for someone who was comedic and expressive.  Casting this was the most difficult part of the pre-production process for sure.  We saw lots of pictures of attractive women, but none of them really screamed COMEDY to me.  I ultimately needed a really great comedic actress who wasn’t solely concerned with looking pretty.  Nadia Quinn came to us sort of in the eleventh hour on a recommendation from a casting director in NY.  The magazine wound up flying her out to LA for the shoot, and she really was my dream girl. 

Did you have any reference to the looks you were going for?
We had all of the ideas pretty well nailed down before the shoot. For example, we knew one shot was going to be a drill sergeant, one was going to be so bland she blended into the background, one was going to be an over-zealous karaoke singer, etc.  I didn’t have many visual references for the characters, but I had enough conversations with the magazine to feel comfortable going in and just doing it.  And as I said before, I did have strong lighting and color references so I knew where I was going with that from the start.

What made you choose that color background?
The background is actually just a white cyc so the color comes from the color profile I used to process the images…and then of course some Photoshop love in post.  It’s a profile I made on an older shoot (that was used as reference by the magazine).

Have you ever directed a model this much before? Tell me about the shoot process, did you talk it over before you started shooting
This was definitely on the high side of the spectrum in terms of how much I directed Nadia.  We discussed every shot before we got going.  I would give her the general idea…some were meant to be more subtle and some were clearly more big.  While we were shooting I’d call out little tweaks for her to make and she took direction amazingly.  This type of shoot would’ve never been successful if that communication wasn’t there.

Was this a multi day shoot?
Nope – we got it all done in one day.

What was your biggest concern going into this shoot? 
My biggest concern was that one element wouldn’t be as strong as the others and bring the shoot down.  Luckily we had such a great team – wardrobe, hair, make-up, props, talent, etc. – and there was no weak link.  Everyone was dedicated to the story and worked so hard.

What surprised you the most?
I think what surprised me the most was how seamlessly everything came together on set.  There were many people on this shoot I hadn’t worked with before, and that can really go either way.  Not only was everyone so good at their jobs…everyone was nice and happy and we all had fun.  It was really the best case scenario.

Categories: Business

This Week In Photography Books: Brad Moore

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 10:02am

by Jonathan Blaustein

I just flew in from New Orleans, and boy, are my arms tired. (Ba doom boom. Tch.)

Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. It flowed out of my fingers, and then, there it was. As ridiculous as that bad joke is, the underlying truth stands.

I did just get back from New Orleans.

And every bone in my body is aching from the deep exhaustion of ten hours of travel each way, with 26 critiques sandwiched in between. (Plus the amazing parties and such. It’s not a drag, by any means.)

Since this column is as much a running commentary on my life as it is a series of book reviews, I must share that I feel like sleeping for 3 days straight. Instead, I came home to my two young children, and that’s just a daily marathon.

Enough bitching. What can I tell you today? NOLA rocks. I’ll be featuring it at length in the coming weeks, so I’ll spare you too much backstory in the here and now. Suffice it to say, it is a city that has “The Magic.”

I live in Taos, a small mountain town that is renown for it’s spiritual juju, so I know of what I speak. New Orleans has an ineffable something that makes it an addictive locale for many a tourist.

Let’s face it, the world is big. Far bigger than any one person could ever explore. Even Tony Bourdain has seen but a fragment, no matter how tired HIS bones might feel.

Places, cities, such as we know them, are nothing but an aggregate of people, structures, and landscape. That’s it. Yet somehow, they manage to develop distinct identities. The Castro is not the Lower East Side.

North London is not the North side of Chicago. These statements are so obvious as to be practically meaningless, and yet I type them still.

Why?

Because as photographers, or lovers of photography, we know that the best work manages to tap into the Zeitgeist of a place. To allow us to learn something crucial about a spot we might never have seen with our own eyes.

The camera is the proxy for the artist, and the artist is the proxy for the tourist. Here, declares the artist, is something you ought to see. Now, declares the artist, I will show you things that will embed in your memory, and make you think you know more than you do.

Speaking of which, I was in Southern California in late October, as you well know. (If you were paying attention at all.) I love that place too. It’s pretty, sure, but there is a seedy normality to the joint that I find alluring.

I’ve spent next-to-no time in Beverly Hills, or its ilk. Give me a low-rise little beach town any day. (Big Shout Out to Leucadia.)

Brad Moore has managed to capture an essence of SoCal that I’m pretty sure you’ll love. The SoCal of the Inland Empire, and Orange County, and mismatched patches of pavement. We can all see it in “Brad Moore,” a new book recently released by the nascent publisher Acuity Press, also from Southern California.

Why will you likely love it? Because it mashes up the anonymous modernism of the super-structure with the random chaos of real life. Korean churches behind geometric facades. Buddhist temples in half-abandoned-looking row houses.

And a seamless, flat, gray sky that references the smog, for which the place is often known, and the fog, that ever-present menace to coastal sanity. (Hey Fog, if you blow out now, so I can see the sun for a few minutes, I’ll give you $500. What, you can’t spend money, because you are an apparition made of moist sea air? Fuck you, then, fog. Fuck you.)

The book is really well-made, the images razor sharp. The repetitive shapes jump out at you, but just when you think you’re getting the hang of things, you’re given a surprise.

A big blue truck on a lawn, where we’d otherwise expect to see a house. What? And there are two dark smudges with streaks running down. Was the truck struck with paint-ball pellets? A group of miscreant teen-agers marring the otherwise “perfect” suburban existence?

No explanation necessary, really. Who doesn’t love a good mystery?

Later, a pile of green lawn beckons, the color as intense as a magic mushroom ride. What is that on the grass? Oh, it’s a tarp, holding a heap of grass shavings that are no longer a part of the territorial integrity of said lawn.

Brilliant illusion. Maybe the ideal metaphor? The gloss, disembodied from the host.

OK. That’s as much as I can squeeze out of my tired brain. I’m leaving Southern California, in my imagination, so I can look out my window to the shocking number of gopher mounds that dot my backyard.

Fucking Gophers. Why don’t you move somewhere where they’ll actually appreciate you?

Bottom Line: Terrific pictures of Southern California

I just flew in from New Orleans, and boy, are my arms tired. (Ba doom boom. Tch.)

Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. It flowed out of my fingers, and then, there it was. As ridiculous as that bad joke is, the underlying truth stands.

I did just get back from New Orleans.

And every bone in my body is aching from the deep exhaustion of ten hours of travel each way, with 26 critiques sandwiched in between. (Plus the amazing parties and such. It’s not a drag, by any means.)

Since this column is as much a running commentary on my life as it is a series of book reviews, I must share that I feel like sleeping for 3 days straight. Instead, I came home to my two young children, and that’s just a daily marathon.

Enough bitching. What can I tell you today? NOLA rocks. I’ll be featuring it at length in the coming weeks, so I’ll spare you too much backstory in the here and now. Suffice it to say, it is a city that has “The Magic.”

I live in Taos, a small mountain town that is renown for it’s spiritual juju, so I know of what I speak. New Orleans has an ineffable something that makes it an addictive locale for many a tourist.

Let’s face it, the world is big. Far bigger than any one person could ever explore. Even Tony Bourdain has seen but a fragment, no matter how tired HIS bones might feel.

Places, cities, such as we know them, are nothing but an aggregate of people, structures, and landscape. That’s it. Yet somehow, they manage to develop distinct identities. The Castro is not the Lower East Side.

North London is not the North side of Chicago. These statements are so obvious as to be practically meaningless, and yet I type them still.

Why?

Because as photographers, or lovers of photography, we know that the best work manages to tap into the Zeitgeist of a place. To allow us to learn something crucial about a spot we might never have seen with our own eyes.

The camera is the proxy for the artist, and the artist is the proxy for the tourist. Here, declares the artist, is something you ought to see. Now, declares the artist, I will show you things that will embed in your memory, and make you think you know more than you do.

Speaking of which, I was in Southern California in late October, as you well know. (If you were paying attention at all.) I love that place too. It’s pretty, sure, but there is a seedy normality to the joint that I find alluring.

I’ve spent next-to-no time in Beverly Hills, or its ilk. Give me a low-rise little beach town any day. (Big Shout Out to Leucadia.)

Brad Moore has managed to capture an essence of SoCal that I’m pretty sure you’ll love. The SoCal of the Inland Empire, and Orange County, and mismatched patches of pavement. We can all see it in “Brad Moore,” a new book recently released by the nascent publisher Acuity Press, also from Southern California.

Why will you likely love it? Because it mashes up the anonymous modernism of the super-structure with the random chaos of real life. Korean churches behind geometric facades. Buddhist temples in half-abandoned-looking row houses.

And a seamless, flat, gray sky that references the smog, for which the place is often known, and the fog, that ever-present menace to coastal sanity. (Hey Fog, if you blow out now, so I can see the sun for a few minutes, I’ll give you $500. What, you can’t spend money, because you are an apparition made of moist sea air? Fuck you, then, fog. Fuck you.)

The book is really well-made, the images razor sharp. The repetitive shapes jump out at you, but just when you think you’re getting the hang of things, you’re given a surprise.

A big blue truck on a lawn, where we’d otherwise expect to see a house. What? And there are two dark smudges with streaks running down. Was the truck struck with paint-ball pellets? A group of miscreant teen-agers marring the otherwise “perfect” suburban existence?

No explanation necessary, really. Who doesn’t love a good mystery?

Later, a pile of green lawn beckons, the color as intense as a magic mushroom ride. What is that on the grass? Oh, it’s a tarp, holding a heap of grass shavings that are no longer a part of the territorial integrity of said lawn.

Brilliant illusion. Maybe the ideal metaphor? The gloss, disembodied from the host.

OK. That’s as much as I can squeeze out of my tired brain. I’m leaving Southern California, in my imagination, so I can look out my window to the shocking number of gopher mounds that dot my backyard.

Fucking Gophers. Why don’t you move somewhere where they’ll actually appreciate you?

Bottom Line: Terrific pictures of Southern California

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

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

Categories: Business

The Art of the Personal Project: Mark Laita

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 10:26am

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com.

Today’s featured photographer is: Mark Laita

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How long have you been shooting? 
I starting photographing rock bands that would come through Chicago when I was in high school in the late 70’s. I started shooting advertising in the mid 80’s.
 
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self taught, or by assisting great photographers, but I went to photography school as well.
 
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I love the cultural uniqueness of Mexican wrestling. I can’t say I love the wrestling itself, but documenting these large, masked Mexican men in tights and capes can’t be beat.
 
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I haven’t really presented it yet. When I feel I’m finished I’ll show it to publishers.
 
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
The way I work is I’ll shoot things and some of them will show potential as a series and I’ll keep shooting until it feels done. With Serpentine, it took more than ten years before I decided to expand the 5 images I did in 1998 into a series of hundreds of images.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
They often overlap, but generally, advertising clients still need to see some images that make sense commercially. A mix of both seems to work. It shows that you can be very creative, but can also do what the client wants, if needed.
 
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
No. I’ll pursue a publisher if the project has potential as a book.
 
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
When a popular blog covers one of my books it can quickly spread to many others that want to feature it. That’s happened with my book, Created Equal a few times now. It’s crazy for a few weeks and then it fades down.
 
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I’ve used some non-commercial images in my self promotion and later decided to expand on it and turn it into a larger body of work. 

————–
 
Mark Laita is a commercial and fine art photographer based in Los Angeles. His work has been featured in campaigns for Adidas, Apple, Estee Lauder, Mercedez-Benz and Van Cleef and Arpels. Mark has had three books of his photographs published; Created Equal, Steidl 2009, Sea, Abrams, 2010 and Serpentine, Abrams, 2012. His work has been exhibited at galleries in the U.S. and Europe.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Categories: Business

As The Cameras Become Ubiquitous All We Have Is Craft To Differentiate Us

Wed, 12/10/2014 - 9:47am

I can take a significantly better looking image with my iPhone today, than I could with a $22K digital camera in 1999. A teenager can share an image so much more easily with millions of people, for free, and do so so much more quickly, than I could as a photojournalist at The New York Times less than a decade ago… and that’s amazing, and at times of course: scary.

Both the QUALITY and COST have been evened out within our business: and historically that’s relatively rare.

The question we now must all ask ourselves as creative professionals is: how do we survive within this new landscape? (especially in one that is moving so fast!)

[...] Well then answer has been around for awhile. It’s nothing new: it’s called SKILL and KNOWLEDGE OF (and respect of) CRAFT.

Am I an idealist? SURE – but I also think I’m quite grounded in reality. And I think that as the cameras become ubiquitous, as everyone gravitates towards the same tools, the playing field will truly become leveled, and ironically we’ll discover that our only true differentiator in time will become the author’s understanding of how they can best put those tools into use. That is what will ultimately set us apart from one another. The exponentially increasing camera technology will indeed be its own worst enemy.

— Vincent Laforet

Read the whole post on: Vincent Laforet’s Blog.

Categories: Business

The Daily Edit – Joao Canziani Dance Series and Fader Magazine

Tue, 12/09/2014 - 10:03am



Emily Oldak, Queens. NY

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Anne Yoon in Los Angeles

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Dancer Bryan Arias in East Harlem and Queens

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Dance Series: Personal Project

Photographer: Joao Canziani

Fader

Executive Editor:  Jessica Robertson
Style Editor at Large: Mobolaji Dawodu
Creative Directors: ETC (Everything Type Company) Geoff Halber and Kyle Blue
Photo Director: Geordie Wood
Photographer: Joao Canziani

Heidi: What inspired you to start this body of work?

Joao: I watched a documentary called Pina (directed by Wim Wenders) a couple of years ago, and I was blown away. How dance could be abstract and energetic and seemingly random and chaotic but still cathartic. It sent chills down my spine, particularly watching it in 3D (I don’t need 3D in movies, but for this one it was truly worth it). It planted a seed. So I talked to a friend of mine who is an amazing professional dancer to do a test shoot with her. At the time I was mostly interested in stillness and getting portraits of her. I liked the pictures very much, but the more I looked at them, the more I thought this could be a continuing series with different dancers.

How do you select your subjects?

I picked my dancer friend’s brain, and she gave me a long list of dancers that she knew. She introduced me to a few of them via Facebook or email. So I started getting in touch with them. I met with whoever was interested, and decided to talk to them extensively before the shoot. That was actually the most inspiring aspect of this process, to find out about their upbringing, their lives, why they got into dancing, what they wanted to accomplish in the future… It made me realize that this could be a very fruitful collaboration.

Are these multi day shoots?

Yeah, I shot each dancer in one day.

Describe a typical session, it’s there some structure or is it fluid? ( do have a set of criteria for each series? )

A little structure, and then the rest to chance. The shoot day starts early with scouting some locations around the area where the dancer lives. Usually that takes a couple hours or more. Then we pick him or her up from their home and head from one location to the other. Typically I’d like to have three or four locations per session. That’s the only structure, the locations. But I’ve realized they’re very important, because they contribute to the consistency of the whole series. We’ve gotten lucky with that! Whenever we shot in New York, we always managed to get into an empty racquetball court. It was like having a natural light studio with a beautiful wall for free. And the last dancer I shot, we were able to shoot inside a huge empty public pool. (It’s incredible what you can get away with in this city if you just push a little.)

But I digress. The fluid part is the most fun, obviously. Whereas — as I mentioned before — I was mostly interested in formal portraits of the dancers when I began this series, the shoots quickly became a mix of capturing movement and portraits. My only goal really was to freeze the action in a way that made them seem weightless and abstract and surreal. And particularly something I hadn’t seen before in dancing pictures. The rest was letting them do their thing as they knew best.

Are you doing these through out your travel assigns or do you travel for specific dancers?

Most of these I shot while I had some free time in NYC. One other one that I shot while I was on assignment in LA. I’m hoping that next year I can find other dancers in places other than the US, to have a variety of locations.

Is there any type of music when these shoots are happening, how does the talent get into form?

We shot most of these sessions without music, except for the last one, which was actually extremely helpful. I decided to shoot a little video for this one (which I’m still cutting and should be ready in a couple weeks), and as we were shooting on the racquetball court, my assistant put on a playlist on a little Jambox. This song called Reflektor by Arcade Fire came on, and Emily the dancer began to move so incredibly that we all really got in the groove. It was magical!

What are you goals with this, a show, a book?

Honestly, a book or a show has crossed my mind, but for the moment I’m just enjoying shooting something that is so collaborative and creative yet I can truly call my own. For either a show or a book to happen I have to keep on shooting more.

How do you approach the individual and the collective edit for this?

 I learn a little bit about them and their aspirations by meeting them beforehand. I do tell them though that I’m not interested in shooting the typical images you see out there of dancers — particularly ballet dancers — that can end up being so clichéd and cheesy. Once we’re shooting I let them do their thing, every so often telling them to repeat a movement that looked great, or to try something similar. If I end up capturing something a bit off-kilter, or jarring, or abstract, that also evokes a bit of narrative, then I’m happy. If it makes you ask, “what’s happening here?” then I’m happy.

As for the overall edit, I try as best as I can to have some variety in each session between locations. But also make sure that from one image to the next there is a bit of dynamic range. Some wider shots paired with some more close up, and so forth.

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Let’s talk a little about your Fader cover: How long did you have with the subject?

Four hours or so total: hair and make-up, plus change of wardrobe. So at the end it felt more like an hour and a half or less of just shooting.

What led to this particular body position?

I don’t recall exactly, but Nicki certainly knew what she was doing. The magazine’s style director put on some music that Nicki liked and she moved and danced away. I was particularly interested in those in-between moments of stillness, or where it felt more of a portrait. This was one of those moments that probably lasted a click or two and then it was gone.

Was your dance inspired by this project or vice versa?

It’s funny how for me every recent project informs the newest ones, often subconsciously. I find myself looking back to find inspiration or ideas, sometimes ideas that I didn’t use before or that weren’t as successful that I want to try again. In this case, the dancers happened first, so it was funny how I ended up getting this assignment shooting Nicki Minaj that employed a similar method of capturing her still while she moved to the music.

What type of creative direction did you get from the magazine?

We talked a lot about creative direction before the shoot happened. They had some ideas but also asked for my input and also for a mood board, which I was very excited about. The challenge was that all the previous cover stories shot for The Fader had been shot on location over two days, so they could fill 10-plus pages with a good variety of pictures. This was the first time, I think, that they had to shoot a subject that could only give them one day, in a studio, and four hours at that. So they called me! (Haha.) Since there was going to be a few wardrobe changes, what about using different colored backdrops to complement the different wardrobe, but then also using textiles as backdrops too — a bit inspired by the portraits of Seydou Keita —  to have greater variety. They really liked this idea, but this meant having some extra help with set design if we were to pull it off in four hours. I ended up hiring a producer (also because shooting someone the caliber of Nicki Minaj meant she came with quite a hefty rider, and I had no time or resources to deal with that myself), and he found an amazing set designer that was willing to collaborate with me. I flew to LA, and as soon as I landed, I found out that due to some miscommunication, Nicki was unable to shoot the day that had been scheduled. Oh well… I decided to meet with Lauren, the set designer, anyway, and sort out all the set logistics, including picking the textiles for the backdrops in downtown LA. For a moment there I thought this shoot was never going to happen, but thankfully, it got rescheduled.

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Categories: Business

Pricing & Negotiating: Studio Portraits Of Spokesmen For Social Media

Mon, 12/08/2014 - 10:07am

by Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Portraits of two spokesmen previously featured in television commercials in various lifestyle scenarios

 Licensing: Web Collateral use of up to 13 images for 3 months

 Location: A studio in California

Shoot Days: Two

Photographer: Portraiture and lifestyle specialist

Agency: Mid-sized, based on the East Coast

Client: Large food company

Here is the estimate:

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Creative/Licensing: The agency had recently produced a series of television commercials introducing two spokesmen for the brand, and they were now interested in extending the concept into their social media marketing. Specifically, they wanted to promote a contest on the brand’s Facebook page, and they hoped to capture a series of images of the spokesmen in different environmental settings with various props. We initially discussed shooting the project in multiple locations, but the potential costs and necessary prep time required to take the shoot on the road warranted a shift in the creative scope. In the end they decided to do the shoot in a studio on a white background, and planned to retouch various background settings into the shots.

The agency planned to release about one image per week on the brand’s Facebook page over the course of three months. Rather than breaking up the licensing and integrating language limiting a one-week duration per image, we included use of up to 13 images on their page for the entire length of the 3 months. Taking the intended use and limited licensing duration into account, I decided to price each image at $700. I’ll typically reduce the cost of additional images, but I felt that each image was unique, and therefore each one carried the same amount of value. Also, in many cases when negotiating much more substantial usage, I feel that the value of the licensing can outweigh the photographer’s creative fee. However, in this case I felt that it was appropriate to also include an increase to the rate to account for the photographer’s time, so I included an additional $1,500/day. This “creative fee” is on the lower end of what we typically estimate for a creative fee per day, but I felt it was appropriate given the experience level of the photographer and the scope of the project. The licensing and creative fee I calculated added up to $12,100, and I decided to round down to an even $12,000 to simplify the proposal.

The agency asked for a price to license additional images as well as options to extend the licensing duration to include 6 months and one year. I felt $1,000/image was appropriate for additional images based on the prorated cost of the fee and the number of images already being conveyed. Additionally, I felt that doubling the licensing duration was worth 50% of the fee, and extending the duration to include one year was worth 100% of the fee.

After compiling a creative/licensing fee that I felt was appropriate, I checked to see what other pricing resources suggested. While Blinkbid and FotoQuote don’t offer a price specifically for social media use, they do suggest a price between $300-$750 per image for use on a client’s website for 3 months. Getty and Corbis both suggested a price of about $300 per image for use on multiple social media platforms for 3 months. As for the licensing duration options, Getty and Corbis added about 30%-40% to go from 3 months to 6 months, and about 80%-90% to go from 3 months to 1 year, and this was pretty similar to my calculations. FotoQuote suggested just about half of these rate increases (15% to go from 3 months to 6 months, and a 40% increase to go from 3 months to 1 year). Taking all of this into account as well as the upward pressure being placed on the photographer to create 13 completely unique images (as well as the size of the client), I felt that I was in a good starting place with the fee.

Photographer Pre-Light Day: Since the 13 scenarios would require a significant amount of time to set up (especially due to prop styling), we wanted to account for a prep day in the studio for everyone to get on the same page in order to hit the ground running on the first shoot day. Also, these concepts would actually require arranging and shooting in two different sets in the same studio throughout the day. One set would be staged and then broken down while the other set was being shot, and this process would continue over the course of two days with all 13 scenarios. This made the pre-light day even more valuable, and the photographer would have time to work with her team and plan how they’d move back and forth between each set and arrange the lighting setups the day prior to the shoot.

Assistants: We planned for the first and second assistants to attend the pre-light day, and we included additional days on the front and back ends of the shoot for the first assistant to pick up equipment and prepare for the shoot with the photographer. The first and second assistants would each lend a hand on their individual sets in the studio, while the third assistant would bounce back and forth between sets for additional support.

Digital Tech: We included the cost for a tech ($500/day) plus their workstation and equipment ($1,000/day) for each of the two shoot days. The photographer planned to set the tech up in an area between both sets, so they wouldn’t need to keep moving back and forth.

Producer and Production Assistants: The producer would help wrangle the crew and make arrangements for all of the logistics, and we planned on three prep/wrap days, one pre-light day and two shoot days. Given the scale of the shoot, we accounted for the producer to have two assistants on each shoot day to help manage each set and lend a helping hand for miscellaneous tasks throughout each day.

Hair/Makeup Stylist: With only two talent, we were confident that one hair/makeup stylist could prep them in the morning and monitor the talent throughout each shoot day.

Wardrobe and Prop Styling: The talent had a signature wardrobe look from the commercials that the client had been sticking to for the most part, but each scenario would still require a slight wardrobe change (mostly accessories) and a complete refresh in the way of props. We included two shopping days for the wardrobe stylist, and accounted for the fact that they’d attend the pre-light day and each shoot day prior to spending a day returning the wardrobe. We also included four assistant days for the wardrobe stylist to account for two days on set and two days helping out with procurement and returns. The prop styling would be more robust than the wardrobe styling, and we accounted for three shopping days for the prop stylist prior to the pre-light day, shoot days and return day. We also included two assistants for the prop stylist, both of which would attend the pre-light day, and one of which would also lend a hand with shopping and returning. At the time of estimating, the agency was still developing the exact scenarios they hoped to capture, but we figured on $600 per setup based on some of the ideas initially presented. Some scenarios would likely require less than this, but others would require more, and we felt this was an appropriate budget as a starting point.

Van Rental: In order to bring all of the props and wardrobe to the studio, we included the cost of a van rental for the week, including insurance and gas.

Studio Rental: We’d need the studio for three days to account for the pre-light day and both shoot days.

Equipment: Since the photographer would be working on two different sets, we needed to account for double the amount of equipment. We figured on $2,400/day for two sets ($1,200 each), and figured most rental houses would offer a “3 days same as a week” deal. While the shoot would be three days, we’d actually be picking up and returning the equipment before and after the shoot.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the time, equipment and costs for the initial edit, as well as the upload of the images to an FTP for the client to review and ultimately select the images they wanted to license. 

Selects Processed for Reproduction and Delivery by Hard Drive: While the agency would be compositing in the backgrounds, the photographer was still responsible for color correcting each image and processing the portraits, and we anticipated it would take about an hour per image to bring the quality level of the images to a place that would satisfy the agency. We also included the cost to purchase a hard drive and deliver it to the agency.

Catering: We anticipated that there would be about 20 people on set including the crew, talent and agency/client representatives each shoot day, and anticipated that $50 per person would cover light breakfast and lunch each day.

Miles, Parking, Meals, Production Books, Expendables, Misc.: This was to account for additional meals on the pre-light day ($300), the cost to professionally print/bind production books ($200), mileage/parking/misc. expenses on the shoot days and pre-light day, as well as shopping/return days for the stylists ($900), and miscellaneous expendables and expenses that might arise on the shoot days ($650).

Results: The photographer was awarded the job. Additionally, the client added on 3 more shots/scenarios, which justified a fee increase of $1,000 per shot. However, the shots didn’t require much in the way of additional props/wardrobe, so the expenses weren’t impacted.

Hindsight: It can be a bit tricky pricing various durations of social media use since so often the exposure of an image on Facebook seems to just last for a day or two (at least for images posted in the “photos” section of a Facebook page as opposed to the “cover” images at the top of the page). While it was great that we could limit the duration on these images, many agencies assume that social media use should be perpetual since the images live “forever” in follower’s feeds and in the “photos” section of the brand’s page. However, it’s most certainly possible for a client to pull down images from their Facebook page, and it can be regulated the same way as any other advertising or collateral use.

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

Categories: Business

Work From The Medium Festival of Photography 2014 – Part 2

Fri, 12/05/2014 - 8:41am

I love portfolio reviews. It’s true. Believe it or not, I used to be a harsh critic of the process. Before I got involved, I raged against the system, in which photographers pay for meetings with industry professionals.

Then, I decided to listen to some advice from a few colleagues, and give it a try. It worked out very well for me, as my reviews at Review Santa Fe in 2009 and 2010 helped my work break out on the Internet, which led a host of sales and exhibitions.

Now, in my capacity as a writer here and at the New York Times Lens blog, I go to the reviews to look at work and write about it. You know this, as we’re in part 2 of my series about the Medium Festival of Photography in San Diego.

I’m pretty sure you guys enjoy looking at the work I see, because I always get great feedback on these articles. And of course, I do like to keep it entertaining, to ensure that you make it to the bottom of the piece to see the pictures. (Oh. Right. You could always skip to the photos? I suppose that’s true.)

Where am I headed? Is there a point? Yes, it’s that I’ve noticed in my last few reviews that these events are not just about people pitching. It’s more than the “what can you do for me” that you think it is. (That is, if you’ve never attended one before.)

In my experience, and perhaps it’s because I’ve been teaching for nearly 10 years, many of the artists come to the table seeking feedback. They want advice on how to get better. They ask all the right questions about where they are weak, and where they are strong.

For the artist, it’s like spending a few hundred dollars to go to grad school for the weekend. If you’re not frantically pitching someone, 20 minutes is a good amount of time for a conversation. You can learn a lot, if you’re willing to listen.

There are the big national reviews, sure, but there is now a system firmly in place with regional reviews, at festivals, all over the country. You can get some great advice, and benefit from participating in a mini-idea-cluster, without having to buy a plane ticket and rent a hotel room.

I’m off this week to photo NOLA, so we’ll have another slate of articles coming up for you in the New Year. But these festivals are everywhere. Just off the top of my head, I can throw out New York, Chicago, San Diego, Portland, New Orleans, Santa Fe, Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Denver and San Francisco.

I’m sure there are many more too. Which means that you might consider looking into what’s available in your neck of the woods. It’s hard to get genuine critical feedback from your friends and family. Certainly, it’s tough once you’re out of school.

Medium is a great example of a festival that was designed to serve its community. It brings people together to celebrate shared passion, and I think that’s something we could all use more of. Certainly, living as I do in the middle of nowhere, I sometimes get jealous of the opportunities available to my urban colleagues.

Back to the photographers, though, and let’s finish this off. As with last week, it’s in no particular order.

John DuBois was one of two artists on whom I was pretty tough. He’s a full-time software engineer, and showed me a project that I thought wasn’t quite up to snuff. Our signals got a bit crossed, as I could tell he didn’t think my criticism was quite appropriate. (I wanted more from him, and wasn’t afraid to say so.)

Then, he showed me a second project that I liked very much. It had all the elements I was craving: a personal connection, a sharp eye, and a more consistent image quality. John spends a lot of time out on the road, in his day job, and sees a series of hotels and motels where he beds down for the night. So he takes pictures to keep himself busy. These are great.

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Lisa Layne Griffiths was the other photographer I tore into a bit. She showed me a series of set-up studio portraits that were a long way from ready. We broke down all the ways she could improve the project, and she knew how much work she had to do. But she was very enthusiastic about improving.

At the portfolio walk, I stopped to chat with her again. She showed me a small series that she’d made of soldiers returning home from the Iraq War. I was impressed. I like that the pictures are not exactly neutral, but neither are they sappy or overly emotional. They’re just right, and a great reminder to those of us not directly connected, that these continual wars have a real cost to far too many people in this country.

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Jonas Yip is an Asian-American photographer based in Los Angeles. He spent some of his youth in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and worked on a series in Mainland China. It was difficult for him, he told me, to look like everyone else, while obviously being an outsider inside his skin.

I like the way his pictures made the smoggy sky into a positive element, by celebrating the drab color palette. And the repeating use of the people, always with their back to him, was smart as well.

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Martina Shenal is a professor at the University of Arizona, and she recently spent a sabbatical in Japan. (China’s rival for power in the Pacific.) Martina and I spent a good deal of time talking about paper choices.

Many of the artists I met were using matte paper, which naturally decreases an image’s contrast, and, by extension, the illusion of three dimensionality. Pictures look flatter, and less vibrant, than they do on a lustrous, pearl, or glossy surface.

Despite the fact that Martina is a working professional, I shared with her the idea that her photographs would simply look better if she made some other choices. On screen, of course, we don’t have those problems. Several of her photos really captured that Japanese-Zen-vibe, and I’m sure you’ll like them below.

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Amanda Hankerson and I met briefly at Review Santa Fe in June, and then again during Medium. We had a drink at the bar with a few friends, and despite the horrific lighting, she pulled out a Magcloud-type-publication to show me. Her project is called “The Hankersons,” and I love the premise.

Apparently, there are only Hankersons in the United States, and nowhere else. There aren’t many of them either, and as an early ancestor was a slave owner, there are African-American Hankersons, and Caucasian Hankersons. Random, no?

Amanda uses Facebook to track down her fellow Hankersons, and then photographs them. Because that’s what photographers do. I think there was a Hankerson who played for the 49ers in the 90’s, so maybe she can look into that.

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Finally, we’ve got Dalton Rooney. He’s a photographer who recently moved back to Southern California, after living most of his life elsewhere. He’s been trekking around the landscape, re-familiarizing himself with the desert vernacular.

He showed me a few images that were printed rather dark, and that made for a moody viewing experience that I really enjoyed. There was almost a sense of foreboding in a landscape I normally associate with sunny-happy-joy-land. Nicely done.

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Categories: Business

The Art of the Personal Project: Marc Ohrem-Leclef

Thu, 12/04/2014 - 10:26am

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com.

Today’s featured photographer is: Marc Ohrem-Leclef

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How long have you been shooting?
I have been actively photographing since the age of 16.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Both – I taught myself most technical aspects, and then I studied Communication Design in Darmstadt, Germany. Those studies were more important in terms of learning about art-history and the formal education of the eye.

With OLYMPIC FAVELA, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Since the mid-nineties I have pursued work that focuses on portraits of communities, whether they are formed by blood-lines, social circumstance or cultural movement, all in context of the ideas of ‘place’ and ‘home’: Which elements play part in building the construct we call ‘home’ like landscape, communal and personal history, type and fabric of the surrounding community.

Based on these interests I wanted to examine what motivates the residents in 13 of Rio de Janeiro’s impoverished communities who are facing evictions from their homes to fight so hard to stay in their homes and communities.

The result are two bodies of work: One is a series of portraits of residents in front of their homes, many of the marked for demolition by Rio’s Housing Authority SMH with spray-paint.

The other is a series of performative images – here I directed the favela residents to pose for me holding emergency flares to create a visual representation of their struggle and resistance while using a gesture that is also universally associated with liberation, independence and celebration.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
It is an ongoing project – I started researching it in spring 2012.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
The decision making process is fairly fast – either it works or it doesn’t, for me and outside viewers. I tend to spend more time on research before I begin a project these days, and it’s working for me.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I do not think the difference should be too great, in terms of a sincere commitment to my subjects. Of course the settings are different. But if you don’t connect to the vision, whether it is based in reality or it is a carefully produced environment, the results won’t be satisfying.

I immerse myself in a certain environment to capture my subjects naturally.

In this respect the images of residents holding the torches are a new approach that allows both my subjects and me to take an active role in the making of the images.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
All the time .. it’s fun!

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
For OLYMPIC FAVELA it has certainly happened.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I have, yes. I think it is important to strike a balance between showing personal work because it to inspire creatives. But of course you need to be able to satisfy the clients’ wish to see you can produce images in a production-setting as well … .

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Marc Ohrem-Leclef was born in Dusseldorf, Germany, 1971. After working as an EMT and interning with a regional newspaper, Marc studied Communication Design at FH Darmstadt completing an extensive photography-thesis on life in rural Jamaica. Since the mid-nineties he is based in NYC. Marc’s work has been exhibited in Germany and the U.S., and has been published in numerous international publications, most recently OLYMPIC FAVELA, published in 2014 by DAMIANI/ARTbook.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Categories: Business

The Daily Edit – Maren Caruso: GFF

Wed, 12/03/2014 - 9:27am

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Creative Director: Maren Caruso
Editor-in-Chief: Erika Lenkert
Designer: Catherine Jacobes

What prompted you do start your own magazine?
I’ve been shooting food for magazines and cookbooks over 15 years. The subject of food photography casts a wide net of photo opportunities that include not only plated food shots but a portrait of the chef, the ingredients growing in the earth, interiors of restaurant, detail shots of place, documenting chefs cooking and people coming together to celebrate and eat. Most of my commercial work requires me to shoot a plated recipe or food product. GFF Magazine is the perfect outlet for me to shoot all aspects of food. I was approached by Erika Lenkert, a friend and writer, to help make a gluten-free magazine come to life. It was just the kind of project I needed and more. It has led me to creative directing, shooting a range of stories and collaborating with smart ambitious individuals.

How many people are currently on staff?
Two, myself and Erika Lenkert.

Are you planning a print version?
GFF Magazine was designed to be a print Magazine. We spent a lot of time selecting paper stock, paper weight and a premier printer to create the smooth vibrant experience when flipping through the pages. We have our fall issue on newsstands now and available in many Whole Foods across the country as well as select retail stores. You can get or gift a subscription at gffmag.com

Why a gluten free magazine?
There is a room for a playful, upbeat gluten-free magazine with creative amazing food that doesn’t remind you of what you are living without. Gluten-free recipes are in high demand and it can be overwhelming to weed through all of the recipes that are online. GFF is a great place to find tightly curated recipes that won’t disappoint.

What sets your project apart from other food magazines?
What makes GFF Magazine stand out from other food magazines it that it is playful and inspires you to get down and cook. It takes food seriously in that the recipes are seriously amazing but the stories and imagery are upbeat and fun.
GFF Magazine features inspirational cooking including stories about real people making really great food that just happens to be gluten-free.

What’s been the steepest learning curve for this process? 
Asking people for help and guidance has been a huge learning curve. I quickly learned that sitting back and hoping that everyone will find out about our new venture was not an option. We had to shout out from the top of every mountain and tell people why they should believe in us and what we were doing. It’s amazing how many people did. We raised close to $95,000 on Kickstarter which confirmed the importance of reaching out and asking for support. It also proved to us that there is a real interest in a new indie food magazine focusing on gluten-free fare. We continue to ask for support and help from fellow magazine founders and contributers and business minded friends. It takes a village and tapping into our contacts and resources continues to make our magazine a reality.

How much creative freedom does this project offer you?
I have a lot of creative freedom within the parameters of creating a magazine with delicious looking food and creating a visual story to support the text. For now, GFF Magazine is fulfilling my desire to shoot food in all of its forms and tell stories through my photos.

How do we subscribe?
You can subscribe to GFF Magazine online at gffmag.com – it’s a great holiday gift!

How can photographers, writers reach out to you?
Email us at erika@gffmag.com

Categories: Business

Paying Homage To Julian Richards, An Irreverent, Demented Master Of Ceremonies Disguised As An Agent

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 10:20am

Guest Post by Marni Beardsley, Director of Art Production at Wieden + Kennedy

the news spreading around for the last few months of julian richards closing shop was something you desperately hoped to be a silly rumor. even with his talented photographers asking my opinion on new homes and the website now defunct in such a bizarre way—classic julian—you still wanted to bury your head in the sand. for it’s hard to imagine the photo industry without its eccentric-visionary-genius-bigmouth-wizard in residence. i forgot how much i enjoy julian’s exceptionally unique writing style and musings. his pdn interview with amy wolff is without question the best i’ve read in years. no one to better sum up the industry so eloquently and brutally as julian—always with a healthy dose of sheer hilariousness.

i suppose it’s finally time to pull the ole head out of the arse and say thank you to this wildly captivating, twisted, hysterical, dirty, immensely brilliant man.

it’s long been a privilege to work with julian’s smartly curated roster including chris buck, michael mclaughlin, david barry, greg miller, sian kennedy and the late, great james smolka, among other gifted artists julian has represented over the years. he not only represented the highest caliber artist within his specialized niche, but he also knew the importance of vetting personality. in other words, no pompous assholes allowed. as such, you could count on every last photographer to be kind, dedicated and genuine, delivering nothing but top-shelf-quality content while ensuring an enjoyable, positive experience for all.

but the real treat was getting to watch a true genius in action. an irreverent, demented master of ceremonies disguised as an agent. yet we all knew he was much, much more than that. to say julian was a refreshing respite from the typical agent/art producer dynamic is a gross understatement. as you found yourself hanging onto every fascinating thought that left his crazy, often repulsive mouth, you knew you were gonna be in for one hell of a fun ride, a ride that would be filled with the purpose of achieving nothing but the finest picture taking and creative problem solving i’d ever witnessed.

there are countless stories of working with julian, but one in particular stands out the most. it credits his unconventional solutions or, perhaps better yet, his sheer insanity. and yet julian’s duplicitous plan worked beautifully; the work was off-the-charts exceptional, creatives and clients walked away extremely happy and i was left standing, jaw dropped to the floor.

the concept involved photographing the talent in some sort of bizarre-looking space suit in an environment that obviously didn’t make any sense for him to be in. visually it needed to have a bold, modern, arresting quality with a photojournalistic bent. i helped the art director pull some images from one of julian’s photographers who fit the bill perfectly. we sold the concept through to the client, who also loved it. the next natural step was to enlist julian and his photographer, begin estimating and have the almighty creative conference call.

before we get to that, let me just say my art director gravitates to the outlandish, the twisted, the deranged. edgy isn’t good enough. it needs to be completely fucked up. when the art director and i got on the phone with the photographer to discuss the concept and his approach, we found him to be surprisingly soft-spoken and very sweet, with a solid point of view about his vision and how best to execute it. but when we got off the phone, the art director said he wasn’t sold. “why the hell not? his answers to how it would look were spot-on,” i implored. more than that, it was this very photographer’s images that helped sell through the concept.

the art director questioned whether the photographer’s personality was outrageous enough. he wanted someone as fucked up as the concept. i did my best to explain that, more often than not, it’s the quiet, “normal” ones you gotta watch out for. their deviance is expressed through their work. still, he wasn’t confident enough that his energy would bring out the crazy in the talent. “he’s wearing a fucking hazmat space-suit thingy. how the hell are you supposed to bring out personality in that?” i just didn’t get it.

i immediately called julian and explained the situation. after a barrage of hysterical ricky gervais-esque retorts, he said, “i’ve got it! if he wants an outlandish, perverted personality, let’s give it to him. let’s do the call again after the weekend.”

“how would that change anything?” i asked.

“because i’ll pretend to be the photographer.”

monday came, and we did the call again. this time “the photographer” appeared to have dipped into his secret stash of crack cocaine. he was explosive, spastically spewing all sorts of deranged nonsense at 150 miles per hour. there was no getting a word in if you wanted to; between his brilliant psychobabble he was panting profusely, as if he were simultaneously doing one-handed push-ups.

the art director LOVED it. ate up every word and the crazy energy behind it. toward the end of the call they exchanged some perverted absurdity, and the next thing i knew it was locked and loaded. i stood there in complete shock, desperately trying to contain my laughter. my art director didn’t seem to think it was odd that a person could do a complete 180 in personality. even more shocking, he also didn’t notice that halfway through the diatribe, a heavy british accent crept into the conversation. people often overuse the expression “peed my pants,” but i literally urinated—not in a toilet—from the hilariousness of it all.

sadly, with julian out of the business these ludicrous stories are now a thing of the past. thankfully i have the reminder of a six-foot blow-up doll bequeathed to me by lord richards—much to the confusion of my coworkers and my kids when they visit my office. i do, however, now semi-hide a photograph created by julian’s alter ego, a highly conceptual pervert who goes by the name perkin lovely. the photograph in question is a tightly cropped shot of a naked, pasty-white, hairy man with his package tucked between his legs. in its place is a ridiculously huge black dildo with a toy piglet perched on top, happily waving “hello!” “look, mommy, there’s piglet!” squealed my then-four-year-old daughter when she visited. i realized winnie-the-pooh would have a whole new meaning if i didn’t move it pronto.

better yet are the scintillating emails i’ve squirreled away that span 20 years. these unrestrained and dirty poetic reveries would be better served in the publishing world instead of a folder titled “fucked up brilliant shit” created just for him. if i could share one i would, but i don’t want to get sued.

as wildly successful as julian has been all these years as a photo agent, this legend is more than likely going to blow our minds even further with his next adventure—whatever that may be. i hope it fully utilizes his fantastical performing ability and enviable storytelling that are deeply rooted in this brilliant wordsmith’s dna.

as julian takes his well-deserved final bow, we are left with no other option than to applaud wildly with much gratitude and respect. and maybe even a little bit of urine in our pants.

—marni beardsley on behalf of the art production departments at wieden+kennedy

Categories: Business

Work From The Medium Festival of Photography 2014 – Part 1

Fri, 11/28/2014 - 10:55am

Last year, when I went to visit the Medium Festival of Photography, I practically leaked energy.

I stayed out drinking, chatted with every possible person, dispensed advice incessantly, and worked through my portfolio review breaks. Only then, when it was almost done, did I give a public lecture in which I bared my soul to a crowded room. (Yes, even more nakedly than I do here each week, if you can believe it.)

In the end, I had a bad series of interactions with a fellow artist, and labeled him a “dick” in this forum. Which almost cost me one of my best friends. Honestly, he stopped talking to me over it, though we’ve since patched things up.

I’m nothing if not adaptable, so I vowed to do it differently this year. Driving down the 405 from LA, where I had a day at the Getty that I’ll chronicle in an upcoming piece, I near-chanted to myself that I’d take it easy.

Chill, if you will.

There was plenty of time to think, as the traffic was thick as Thanksgiving gravy, despite the late hour. I didn’t arrive at the Lafayette Hotel until 9:30pm, which I assumed made me the last reviewer there. (I was wrong. The reviewer across the hall showed up at 3:30 am, and woke me with a closing door. Ironically, it turned out to be a friend, so I couldn’t be too mad. Thanks, Maren.)

Anyway, the plan worked out swimmingly, as I even managed some time in the blue pool one sunny afternoon. (When in SoCal, after all.) I hit the gym, took my quiet time, walked through the corridors with my head down, avoiding eye contact. Anything to make sure I had good, positive energy for the reviews, and that I came home able to work. (Rather than losing 2 weeks in a fog, as I’ve done before.)

Fortunately, I did get to see a nice variety of photography to share with you here. And I even get to use the word “dick” again, as it was tossed about with shocking abandon by the keynote lecturer, Duane Michals. I kid you not, that dude said “dick” at least 15 times within the first three minutes of his lecture.

He was playing a character called Dr. Duanus, and opened with a story about needing a penis reduction. I watched the crowd, and people were in various states of disbelief. He was like a cross between Larry David and Robin Williams. Not what you expect in a photography lecture.

I ought to give him a more fitting shout-out than that, though. Mr. Michals lecture was by far the most entertaining and enlightening I’ve yet heard. He was profane in a way that was endearing, rather than discomfiting, and also managed to show a large selection of his work. Pictures and words that gave the crowd energy, and permission to experiment.

Afterwards, at his book signing, people stood in line for at least an hour, or I should say lines. There were two, in opposite directions, that snaked throughout the entire hotel lobby. No lie. People couldn’t wait to take pictures with him, catch a moment, get a book signed. It was electric.

But back to the reviews, which were my main priority. (That, and eating at the many insanely-good-cheap-ethnic-restaurants within 5 blocks of the hotel. Thai? Check. Pizza? Check. Falafel? Check.)

I’m going to break this down into two articles, as I’ve done in the past. So that you can actually look at the photos without it all blending into infinity, like the great Pacific Ocean. I want to keep your attention crunchy, like a perfect fish taco. (OK. No more cheesy SoCal similes. I promise.)

In no particular order, let’s lead off with Samantha Geballe. She’s an artist working in the Los Angeles area, who’s studied with Aline Smithson. (Who just won Center’s Teaching Award. Well deserved, I’d say, as I’ve gotten to see her students’ work 2 years running.)

Samantha is a very large person, and gay. As such, she has to live squarely in the crosshairs of people’s prejudice. Twice. She presents as a very calm presence, but told me that things are chaotic on the inside. Her visceral, black and white self-portraits aim to channel her actual emotions. Powerful stuff.

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Brian Van der Wetering is another of Aline’s charges. He works full-time for Epson, which means I now have a super-hookup for lots of swag. He already sent me a new 44″ photo printer, so you should be very jealous. (Just kidding. I’ve received nothing of the kind.)

Brian’s set-up photos were hilarious, and also a shade poignant. They share the sense of play and misbehavior of a ten year old who loves lighting his sister’s dolls’ heads aflame. They are well-made, but also well-thought-out. I thought they were pretty excellent.

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Tipping Point

One Spark

Crossing Over

In Jeopardy

Shaky Ground

Dependency

Jane Szabo is also an LA-based artist. Her training is in other media, and she came to photography rather recently. She showed me three portfolios, and I could actually see her working it out, sequentially. The third project caught my eye, as she’d created non-functioning dresses for the camera, and I thought I’d share it here.

Notice the way it mashes up fashion, sculpture, installation and photography. She’s able to bring her various interests together into one artistic package. I particularly liked the way the pictures could almost be installation photos from an actual art exhibition, but are not. She utilizes the white space well.

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Mike Sakasegawa has a full-time day job as well, as an engineer, I believe. He photographs his family, as we all do, but attempts to take the pictures beyond the average snapshot. He wants to communicate the sadness he feels at his children growing up, and the joy he relishes with each day.

The pictures resonated with me, despite the well-worn subject matter. We can all relate, which also helps an audience appreciate a project.

Eva

Contrast

Prize

Kettle Corn

Hold Fast

Adriene Hughes teaches at UCSD, so she didn’t even have to travel down the coast. Surprisingly, though, she showed me some pictures that were taken in my town of Taos. I did a double-take at first, exclaiming, “What the hell?” or some such.

Adriene made a performative project in which she always dressed up in her favorite deer head. Many of the pictures felt like documents of performance, rather than photographs made as original art objects. But there were more than a handful I really enjoyed, and the picture with the little dog sitting on the naked dude’s lap was simply priceless.

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Finally, we come to Tetsu Kusu. He was hanging around the lobby when I came in that first night, and planned to volunteer for the festival. I craned my neck in all directions, looking to spy anyone I knew. Tetsu approached, and seemed to know who I was. He gave me regards from Miki Hasegawa, a photographer I profiled here after meeting her at Review Santa Fe.

It seems as if the Japanese photo crew is rather tight, and I guess my own “image” is out there on the Interweb enough that I will occasionally get noticed. (Down, ego, down.) Anyway, Tetsu and I spoke a few times over the weekend, and he showed me his pictures on his iPhone.

He’s currently traveling around the West Coast, sleeping on a surfboard in his car. He posts images each day on a password protected Tumblr, so the project is updated in realtime. There’s an edgy vibe to his portraits, so the whole thing made me think of a Japanese-surfer-on-the-road-Mike-Brodie-type-of-deal. Very cool.

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Sayonara until next week.
Jonathan-san out.

Categories: Business

The Daily Edit – Modern Farmer

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 10:49am

Art Director: Sarah Gephart, MGMT. design

Photography Directors: Luise Stauss and Ayanna Quint, Stauss & Quint

Photographers: Richard BaileyHenk WildschutGrant CornettDaniel SheaLauren FleishmanTom SchierlitzRush JagoeAlexi HobbsCedric Angeles

 

How long has your studio been in business; aside from Modern Farmer, who are some of your other clients? 
LS&AQ: We started our studio Stauss & Quint at the beginning of this year and work with design firms, book publishers, online magazines and custom publications. Some of our clients include Pentagram, Ten Speed Press and Medium. We really enjoyed working together on Modern Farmer and decided that as a team we could offer clients a great network of photographers as well as years of experience in photo art direction and shoot production. Our goal is to bring our editorial eye to a wide range of clients.

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Overall, what is the photographic direction for the magazine?
LS & AQ: Farming and agriculture are diverse subjects, encompassing many different global issues which are so rich photographically. We cover everything from food production to climate change to politics. What’s been exciting for us has been the international focus of the stories, what has given us the opportunity to work with photographers on every continent. We are drawn to photographers who are passionate about their work and curious about the world around them. Many of their personal projects and editorial work display a sensitivity and humanity without being sentimental. For example, we ran a photo essay by Cedric Angeles that was a personal project he had been working on about shepherds worldwide for the past 20 years. While working on assignments for more glamorous stories, he carved out time to document the life of local herders. He isn’t afraid show how difficult the farming life is while still creating beautiful and arresting images.

 

Tell us about the genesis of this magazine and who are your subscribers?
LS & AQ: Modern Farmer in the brainchild of Ann Marie Gardner. Luise worked very closely with her and Art Director Sarah Gephart of MGMT. design studio to develop the look and feel for the prototype; Ayanna came on board for the first issue and as the issue came together we refined that further. Modern Farmer is for anyone who cares about where their food comes from and the demographics of the subscribers represent that. It runs the gamut from 3rd and 4th generation farmers to those who can only grow basil in their kitchen window. The goal is to provide in-depth reporting that is entirely approachable no matter your agriculture background.

 

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Can you share the cover direction? It is always an animal portrait to set the magazine apart from others?
LS & AQ: As the first issue was coming together, we were defining the aesthetic of the magazine and looking for an image that was striking and would set us apart on the newsstand. It was an organic process, working with the art director, Sarah Gephart, and the editors to refine that vision. Richard Bailey’s rooster was one of many options we tried for the cover, but we knew the minute we saw it that it worked. He really is a handsome rooster! The great thing about having an animal on the cover of each issue is that it allows for many different audiences to identify with the magazine. Richard has shot every cover since then and these animal portraits have really come to define the visual identity of Modern Farmer.


Are there handlers for these animals and are they hired, or actual farm animals; about how long is a cover session?
LS: All the covers shoots take place in the UK, where Richard is based. A session usually takes from a couple of hours to half a day at most. There are no professional handlers but because we shoot at active farms, the farm hands help keep things under control. The animals are in constant motion and have to be walked and maneuvered back and forth in front of the back drop so it requires patience. When a 500 pound pig or a Mammoth Jack donkey or a British Blonde Bull doesn’t want to be somewhere, no-one is going to stop it.

 

What are the typical discussions with the photographers for the covers?
We shoot a variety of breeds for the inside and for the cover we look for the animal where the strongest character and personality come through. This makes for some funny cover discussions when you are talking about a pig. Each breed has a society, like the British Goat Society which connects breeders with farmers and it is through them that we find our subjects. Richard then travels all over the UK for the shoots. For the goat feature he found the only small farmer in the UK who breeds Nigerian Dwarf goats on a smallholding in Lincolnshire next to a Royal Air Force base. As he arrived, there were maneuvers going on in the air, as WW2 Lancaster bombers and spitfires flew low overhead in preparation for a show the following weekend and there were maneuvers going on in the farm. Richard was ushered straight in to the barn to see twins being born to one of the does. The farmer immediately named them after Richard and his assistant.

How do you use instagram as a photo source?
AQ: I’ve never hired someone based solely on their Instagram photos, but I do use it to see what photographers I like are up to, whether I’ve had the chance to work with them or not. I also use it to keep track of where people are and if they are traveling. We recently assigned a big photo essay to Bryan Schutmaat for another client because I saw that he was working out West and, I should add, posting some amazing images.

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Do you meet with many of your photographers prior to shooting with them?
LS: We  meet with photographers as often as we can. We were looking at Rush Jagoe’s book this Fall and he mentioned a farming collective in New Orleans of out-of-work fishermen, who built a Growers Initiative in reaction to the natural disasters they lived through. Luckily, the lineup was just coming together for the upcoming issue and we were able to include his pitch in the issue.
 
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Do you scan the news and see who is shooting farming related content?
LS: We always keep an eye on gallery shows, photo blogs, books and festivals, and make note of good photography around food production and agriculture. I saw Henk Wildschut’s book ‘Food’ at Paris Photo last year and was impressed by the depth of his research. Starting in 1975 the Rijksmuseum’s department History of the Netherlands has given an annual assignment to a photographer, including an exhibition, titled Document the Netherlands, with the idea to register a current aspect of Dutch society in a series of photographs. Henk had shot large scale Food production in Holland over the course of 2 years creating perceptive and emotive images, making it a perfect marriage of photographer and story for this Modern Farmer piece.
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Tell me about the direction for the food waste project. What was the creative brief to Grant?
LS: The brief was to create images for a 10 page package on how, why and where edible food gets thrown out, amounting to half of the total food supply in the US, which is wasted in every step of the food chain: from farm to retail to consumers. Grant’s work had caught my eye while working on the food pages of the New York Times Magazine and I was looking for an opportunity to work with him. His graphic studies of food as objects as in his Beautiful Decay series made him a great match for this project. Grant often works with the food Stylist Maggie Ruggiero and the set designer Theo Vamvounakis, both huge talents. Their collaboration on Gather Magazine is really impressive. I was lucky to get them together for this assignment. 
I worked closely with the editor Reyhan Harmanci on the waste statistics to give to the team. One of the challenges on reporting that was the lack of great numbers, which underlined how much we need to improve on not wasting food–no one was counting! We ended using two main sources: FAO, a UN group that has done a lot of work on food security and infrastructure and a University of Arizona researcher who treated garbage as archaeological remains. He literally dug in America’s trash to catalog what we ate and what we tossed. That research allowed us to then recreate the average American food waste in the main photos.
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What made you choose Daniel Shea for the GMO project?
AQ: I’d worked with Daniel before at The Atlantic and am a huge fan of him and his work. His portraits are wonderful of course and he’s done some personal projects (Blisner, IL and Coal Work)  that have a real engagement with the landscape and the environment so I thought he’d be a good fit. There’s a real poetry to the way his subjects interact with the world around them but he’s able to translate that well for an editorial shoot so the images remain grounded in the story.  I had been looking for a chance to work with him from the first issue and was glad it came together so quickly. It took 7 issues before we were able to work with Alexi Hobbs, who has a great story in the issue that’s coming out next month. There are so many great photographers out there, and so few assignments!
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I see that you’ve hired Lauren Fleishman, did you follow her blog, Rise and Shine with Me? Had you worked with her before?
AQ: I follow Lauren on Instagram and had kept track of her for over a decade but hadn’t had the chance to assign her anything. She’s now based in Paris and I thought her work was a good fit for the magazine. When I contacted her, she mentioned that she’d always wanted to shoot at a farm but hadn’t had the opportunity yet. She really made the most of the shoot and captured so many aspects of this beautiful farm. The outtake that we used on the TOC is so lush and earthy, you can almost smell the soil. The shoot happened to fall on her birthday. Perrine somehow found out and gave her a huge bag of vegetables as a gift to take back to the city with her.

Do you use your still life opportunities to off set or surprise the readers?
LS: It is great to be able to create a polished and poppy product shoot for a farming magazine where it’s so unexpected. It’s also an opportunity to work with talented set designers such as Angharad Bailey. Together with the great Tom Schierlitz she conceived a crisp and graphic story that brought a strong sense of design in sharp contrast to the environmental images running throughout the rest of the magazine.

Categories: Business

Richard Renaldi Interview

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 10:19am

Jonathan Blaustein: I wanted to start out talking to you about Chicago, because you’re from there, and I know very little about the place.

But the more looked at your website, I wonder if you belong anywhere? Do you live out of a suitcase?

Richard Renaldi: No. You were looking at the Hotel Room pictures, I imagine. And maybe some of the “Crossing” project. I do travel a lot, but that project, (The Hotel Room portraits,) is 16 years worth of travel.

Some of it has been for work, and my partner and I are definitely travelers, not tourists, so we like to do some adventuring. But this year I do feel like I have been living out of a suitcase, because of being on the “Touching Strangers” train. I’ve been all over, promoting the book, exhibitions, and talks.

Home is New York, and North Eastern Pennsylvania. I did grow up in Chicago, but I left at 18 to go to school here in New York at NYU. I haven’t lived in Chicago since. I only go back to visit the family.

JB: You mentioned your partner, Seth, and the “Hotel Room Portraits” series, which most people probably don’t know about, features the two of you on at least 4 continents, by my count, perhaps more. There is so much to talk about here, and we’ll try to cover all of it. But you’ve referred to Seth as your partner, and given all the hubbub in the last couple of years, are you guys married, or are you going to get married?

RR: We’re not married, and we’ll probably eventually get married. But probably we’ll just do a City Hall thing, and then maybe have a party. I don’t see myself exchanging vows in a public declaration of our love.

But our commitment to each other is there, sixteen years together and the proof is in the pudding. I could say boyfriend. I like that word. But he’s not such a boy anymore, and boyfriend doesn’t necessarily describe the graying aspect. (laughs.)

Part of the intention of that project is also quantity. We started out a little half-assed about the discipline, surrounding when we would travel and take a picture. So the first few years, there are actually some that are missing.

When I got a better SLR camera and lens, around 2007, and started shooting digitally, I started thinking about the project more, we’ve been fastidious that every single time we go somewhere, we have to do one. Even if I don’t really want to do it, we always make sure we make a portrait.

As you can see, they run the gamut from pretty dumpy hotels to fancy. It’s important that there’s a class component to the work.
There is a range, from trashy motels to corporate midrange ones, and then the really fancy ones. Most of those were on a job I did for Microsoft, where I went to 18 countries, in 2007.

But also, there’s an architectural element. And there are cultural markers too. It becomes not just a portrait of us, and our intimacy, our aging, the transformation of our bodies, and my ink. By the design, and the interior spaces of these different rooms, you can tell something about the place.

There’s a lot there to keep it going. Layers to the work, which I find exciting.

JB: All I kept asking myself, which you already kind of answered, was how the hell can these guys afford to travel to this many countries on such a consistent basis? But I’m guessing from your answer, when you said you did a job for Microsoft, that you also do commercial work. Which I didn’t know.

RR: Not so much recently. But I have had some privileges, and used those as an opportunity to photograph and travel. I was fortunate to not be grounded to one place and having to always worry about my financial security. I’ve been able to up and go, and spend weeks at a time traveling through South East Asia.

Some of those trips were after the Microsoft job. We were in Taiwan, and went onwards afterwards. Last year, I went to print my book in Hong Kong, and we were going to take a trip to Thailand, but there was a coup. So I met Seth in Morocco.

JB: I saw that. And you were in Southern Spain too this year. And Canada.

RR: Yeah, we just drove up to Canada. I always wanted to see the Maritimes. I was teaching in Portland for a week, so Seth came up and met me. We met some friends and also went to an island in Maine called Vinyl Haven.

A lot of it is combined with work, or visiting family. We just like to travel.

JB: Sure.

RR: We try to do one big trip a year. We used to put our place on Airbnb, so when we went to Bolivia, Chile and Easter Island, that basically paid for the whole trip, renting our New York City apartment.

JB: I have a 7 year old. It was his birthday yesterday. When I told him I was going to interview you, he said I should ask you why the people had to be touching?

RR: What’s your son’s name?

JB: Theo.

RR: Theo? I like that name. Well, they had to touch because the concept was about connecting two strangers in a photograph. I’d been doing single portraits for many years, and I was shooting “See America By Bus,” about the people traveling across the country on Greyhound buses.

That was the first experience where I was making large format work. Consensual portraits of two people that didn’t know each other, in the same space. It added this new layer of complexity and challenge to making a portrait.

I had to get the permission and approval of two different sets of people to be in a picture together. And I really liked that, and thought there was something really rich there.

I was interested in the space between people, like in they city. You see a group of people, clustered together, and in that moment and space in time, they’re connected. Standing at a light, waiting to cross the street. Everyone looks like they’re together, because they’re in a group.

But they’re not. They don’t know each other. I wanted to link them.

Also, there was this desire to catalog, in the way August Sander catalogued people. I had this impulse to do that, but to mix and match. To take different types of people and put them together.

As the project progressed, I became as interested in people who looked like they belonged together. Similar types.

But I think the reason why they had to touch, to answer Theo’s question, is that I was really curious what the body language would look like. As I write in the essay, what would the physical vocabulary look like, when someone asks two strangers to do that.

JB: I think part of what people respond to is the disconnect between the concept and the reality. Everything looks so natural. Until you know what’s going on, you would never guess.

I didn’t think of it at the time, but its so transgressive, to touch strangers. Theo and I were in Denver a few weeks ago. In a coffee shop.

There was a guy, sitting at a table by himself, drawing. He had all these fancy colored pencils. Theo will talk to anybody, he’s got a very open personality, so he walks up to the guy and starts asking about his pictures. Then, he put his hand on the guy’s forearm. Immediately, I jumped, and said, “Theo, you can’t do that. You can’t touch strangers. You can talk to them, but you can’t just go up and touch people.”

I promise, it had nothing to do with your book. We hadn’t even scheduled the interview yet. But the idea was so powerful in my instinct, that you don’t do that.

I’m sure people want to hear the backstory about how you do it. How you convince people to put their hands on someone like that? How you get them to break that taboo that they probably don’t even realize is there?

RR: The further the distance gets from the project, the more I realize that other things were at work. There was definitely a bit of a dare, and a challenge to people.

“I dare you to transgress,” like you said, “your own boundaries.” To do things that we are told are not necessarily appropriate.

There is a challenge that is being placed onto my subjects. More recently, I’ve started thinking that there is a transference that’s happening, of what I might want to do to the person.

As I became more of a director, as these scenes of joining these people together played out, I realized that I needed to make more compelling pictures. People have a very conventional sense of touch, in general. If left to their own devices, they’re just going to hold hands. Or put their arm around each other.

They’re not going to get that intimate. I realized I needed to be more of a director, and construct the points of contact. What I now have come to see is sometimes, I’m transferring what I would want to do one of the subjects. By having the other subject do it.

There’s this one image of a woman who’s going through chemotherapy, and she looks sick. You can tell. She has these ortho shoes on.

JB: In Hawaii?

RR: Yeah, it’s in Oahu. I paired her with this other woman, who was on her honeymoon, and I had her caress her on the cheek. I think it was the second exposure I made. I know that’s how I felt.

I felt bad, and I would have wanted to do that. There is this emotional transference that I see in these pictures, from where I stand now.

There’s another with a sexy black guy and black girl, in Venice Beach. I really wanted to touch the guy. He was like a body-builder working out at the pit in Venice Beach. You know?

JB: Sure.

RR: I wanted to be really intimate. So what she did was what I wanted to do. I find that conversation interesting, because it’s newer for me. It’s come up lately, discussing the work at talks. I’ve started to see my own projections. What I would wish for, were I to have that freedom to touch someone.

JB: That’s the sequel, right?

RR: (laughing.) (pause.) I can’t be the “Touching Strangers” guy forever.

JB: (laughing.) Indeed. I feel you. It was tongue in cheek. I don’t think we do sequels in photography. It’s not Hollywood, right?

RR: It’s true. Maybe you can do B-sides?

JB: It’s great to see the way people have responded to it. I saw it on the wall, and then I saw the book.

RR: Did you see the show at Aperture?

JB: I did. I was in New York in April. That’s part of why I ended up reviewing the book. I don’t get excited by photography as often as I’d like, unfortunately. But that show grabbed me, so when I finally got my hands on the book, it was a perfect way to write about it.

But until I did a little research for this interview, I didn’t know that Aperture had done a Kickstarter to raise money for the book. You didn’t do a Kickstarter campaign, they did?

RR: That’s right.

JB: How does that work? Here at APE, it’s a conversation we have often. Where does the money come from? Who’s doing the raising? How much do you have to bring to the table?

So please don’t feel like I’m putting you on the spot, but Aperture raised $80,000 to publish your book.

RR: Right.

JB: That’s crazy. Did they use it all? Isn’t it their job to raise money? How does this work?

RR: I just wanted them to publish it outright. They told me they had been approached by Kickstarter to partner with them. Kickstarter was interested in raising their own profile.

JB: They got to benefit from partnering with the Aperture brand, in a sense?

RR: That was the intent. And Aperture, as a non-profit, is always looking for funding. So they viewed this as a new source of funding, because they’re always begging for money. They do auctions and fundraisers. They saw this as another source for them.

For me, personally, I was not sure about going down that road. One reason is that if people know me, and know my background, they probably knew that I had the resources to have had my own publishing company, which was Charles Lane Press. Which you know about.

JB: Right.

RR: Although it was very challenging, and in the end, I wasn’t able to continue and make it work.

JB: You’re using the past tense here. I had no idea that it was defunct.

RR: It’s not defunct, but it’s on extended, if not permanent, hiatus. We’re still selling our stock of inventory. So it’s not gone, and there could be the opportunity some day to re-engage with that.

JB: You started it to produce your own book, which was “Fall River Boys.” Is that right?

RR: That’s right. But we also produced 3 other books by 3 other photographers.

JB: Thereafter.

RR: Yes. Which I’m very proud of. It was a great accomplishment, and I think they were really fantastic books that were under-appreciated, actually.

JB: As a publisher, how did you go about selecting work to get behind?

RR: I was naive, so I got behind the work that I wanted to get behind. Not work that, from a financial standpoint, crunching the numbers, I knew I could sell this many books. And make this much back.

I really wasn’t interested in publishing someone that had already been published, and had many opportunities before them. And I wanted to work with people that I thought were doing really interesting things. To give the same opportunity to them that Aperture gave to me with my first book in 2006.

I wanted to be a curator, in a way. For my partner and me, this were our choices. What we were presenting. And I didn’t want to present someone that everyone knew. You know?

Which was what someone told me I should do, if I wanted to really make the company work.

JB: I’m just spitballing here, but that’s why people like Martin Parr, or Paul Graham…

RR: (laughing) I was just thinking of Martin Parr too.

JB: Right. That’s why they have seven books a year, because the companies know that if they work with an established brand…

RR: It’s what people want. Because they buy it. Or it’s what people know. It’s a combination of the two. It was really challenging.

But getting back to Kickstarter, that was one concern. And another concern was, “What if we don’t make it?” When we were having this conversation, I don’t think Indiegogo had its feet to the ground yet. So if you didn’t make your goal on Kickstarter, you didn’t get anything.

To alleviate that concern, Aperture set a really low bar.

JB: 10 Grand.

RR: Yeah. The book would have cost more to produce, for sure, but at that point, they were talking something very small. More like the size of that Tim Hetherington book, do you know it, “Infidel?”

JB: Not off the top of my head. I should have lied and said yes.

RR: Closer to 5.5″x7″ than 8.5″x11″, you know? A smaller trim size, and a smaller press run. The campaign launched after Aperture sent a videographer, and we made the video piece of me actually making a “Touching Strangers.”

They launched it in June, and they have a hefty marketing department behind them, where they can get the word out to a huge mailing list. People knew about the project, because I had been putting it out since 2007. I showed the series on Conscientious, and on David Bram’s site…

JB: Fraction.

RR: Yeah. I think I had, over the years, built an audience. But we met the funding goal in three hours. It became this thing that had a life of its own, and we got a lot of attention. The New York Times did a piece while the campaign was still up.

Towards the end, CBS news contacted me and wanted to do a piece. I was anxious and nervous about that too. I thought they were going to paint it with a very sentimental brush. It was all about “Touching Strangers,” and they tailed me on a shoot. I pushed back really hard against where I thought he wanted to go.

It still goes there, but it’s OK that it goes there. There is, included, some of the tension and complexity. I was really pleased with how the final piece came out. The segment is called “On the Road,” it used to be with Charles Kuralt.

JB: Sure.

RR: Very Americana, heartfelt stories. The piece does arouse sentiment, but I don’t think that’s bad. Because the work does, you know?

I was actually in New Mexico, and it aired the day that CBS went offline in three of the biggest markets, because of a contract dispute.

JB: Oh my goodness.

RR: So people in New York and LA tried to tune in, and CBS was black on Time Warner cable systems, because Time Warner and CBS had a dispute which lasted a week. But in the fall, the piece got picked up by some of the news aggregating sites, like Reddit, and it went viral.

The Youtube video of that CBS piece ended up with 2 million views. It’s too bad that didn’t happen when the Kickstarter campaign was up. That just propelled it even further.

JB: But they wouldn’t have needed $800,000 to produce your book, right? 80 Grand, I would imagine, covered everything?

RR: It enabled them to make a bigger book, a higher press run, and covered the traveling exhibition.

JB: Do people now contact you? Do they want to be shot by Richard Renaldi? Is this developing a commission aspect to your career, or has that not happened yet?

RR: Last year, when the project went “viral,” an organization called Art Works, in Cincinnati, approached me. They have a partnership with Cincinnati Metro. They are generally a mural program, where they create murals all over Cincinnati.

With the Metro partnership, they place art works in the bus stops, in the big light box displays. They thought it would be great to bring “Touching Strangers” into that, and do a partnership with Cincinnati Metro. They commissioned me to make original “Touching Strangers” for the light boxes, to coincide with the Photo Focus photo festival, which opens this weekend.

I jumped at the chance, because for engaging the public, on a mass scale like that, the bus stop is perfect. And it comes full circle, because the idea came out of the “See America by Bus” series.

JB: Right.

RR: As the time approached, to go make the pictures, I was actually dreading it, because I hadn’t shot “Touching Strangers” in a while. I was done with it, and it was hard to wrap my head around going back to do more. So I didn’t want to go.

But it was a commitment, and I ended up making some of the best pictures in the series. Really, it turned out to be a strong collection, the pictures from Cincinnati. Maybe we can include some of those.

JB: It would be cool to publish them. We’d love to show things that people haven’t seen.

RR: Honestly, beyond that, I was hoping that I would get another ad campaign some day. I had a great experience with that Microsoft job. It was kind of the job of a lifetime, I don’t know if that will ever happen again but I am certainly open to it.

JB: Well, those folks read this blog every day. So, who knows?

RR: I know, I know. I would love those folks to throw me into the mix again. On that Microsoft job, which spanned 18 countries, I really ended up enjoying the discipline, and it ended up making me a better photographer.

I had to think about other considerations, and photograph with someone else in mind. But I was really fortunate, because I had the artistic freedom to make the kind of images I wanted. In that project, it really looks like my work.

I’d really like that opportunity again.

JB: Well, we’re putting it out there, so we’ll see what happens.

RR: Yeah.

JB: (laughing) I’m helping as much as I can.

RR: I was approached by Hanes, recently, to do people touching each other’s new Hanes soft-cotton blend T-shirt.

JB: Right.

RR: So they wanted to basically co-opt “Touching Strangers.”

JB: Strangers Touching Michael Jordan.

RR: Basically. They wanted to sell underwear with my idea. And that didn’t appeal to me. I thought it wouldn’t respect the work I did on this project. But they thought it was the greatest idea in the world.

JB: Of course they did.

RR: They wanted to attach my name to it. I thought, “Maybe if I was anonymous, and it was a lot of money, I’d consider it.” But I pushed back pretty hard, and I never heard back.

JB: Earlier in the interview, you talked about a project in which you were photographing in bus stations, which are inherently transient, and you were taking Greyhounds and such. And with “Touching Strangers,” it’s right there in the title, that you don’t know these people.

How do you operate? Do you give people prints, when you take their picture? Do you ever stay in touch? Is this only a fleeting connection, or have any of these pictures led to relationships that have evolved over time?

RR: I don’t know if I like the word fleeting, but it was definitely a short-term relationship.

JB: Ephemeral? How’s that?

RR: Sure. There could have been a strong connection, but I haven’t done a project where I’ve followed someone for a long period of time. Where you get close to them.

My portraiture has been more about a place, or an idea, rather than the long story of someone’s life. Because of that, I haven’t gotten to be close friends with many of my subjects, per se.

Though “Touching Strangers” is the one exception, where I have had subsequent contact and conversations with some of the people in the pictures. That is largely due to a lot of the press that followed; they wanted to be connected with some of my subjects to interview them about the experience.

I became an intermediary, or a go-between, and I really enjoyed having the contact with them. I always send my a print or a jpeg, so I always get their contact information.

JB: It’s the perfect title, “Touching Strangers.” You have this incredible way of opening yourself up for your audience. In the book, you talk about the fact that you used to sneak out of your house in Chicago, when you were a teenager, and literally touch strangers.

That’s almost an encoded part of the title, though I suppose you have to read the statement to know that. There are different levels of ideas going on in this one project, wouldn’t you say?

RR: I would. It’s pretty layered, I think. Which is cool. There’s a personal part, and then the universal. It’s resonated with the viewers, and it’s an accessible idea.

Probably the most that I will ever have in my career. I don’t imagine subsequent series will reach as many people. I’ve really reached more people with this one series than most photographers ever do.

And that’s kind of cool. It’s an accessible idea, and so much of art is often intimidating to people. There is often this notion that you need to know something about art to understand it.

I think that’s a potential pitfall of art and photography, is that it can be so academic. I think it’s because photography is this reproducible thing, so there’s this drive to make it seem rare, because of the market.

There’s a preciousness attached to it, where photography is trying to make itself rare. Music and film aren’t like that. They’re for everyone. I think art would be better if it had a more accessible, mass appeal approach.

That doesn’t mean I created “Touching Strangers” to have mass appeal. It just happened to resonate.

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Categories: Business

This Week In Photography Books: John Gossage

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 9:13am

by Jonathan Blaustein

When I was young, a school year felt like a decade. Time moved like blue children’s goop, as it slithers out of its container. (Slurp, slurp, slide a millimeter, slurp, slurp.)

I’m well aware that this idea is far from new. That time moves more quickly as we age. I know it. You know it.

So why do I mention it now?

Because it will be Thanksgiving next week. We’ve already had snow here, and it’s dipped below 0 at night. Honestly, I’m not sure how this happened. Summer feels like it was just here; the moisture residue on the window pane, after you’ve breathed upon it.

In the last few years, I’ve finally figured out that a year is a natural cycle. Perhaps it’s connected to our planet’s journey around the sun. Perhaps not.

Who am I to conjecture?

But it most certainly does affect the way we feel. Nearing the end, rounding third base, if you will, we’re all exhausted. Worn out. Tired deep in our bones.

I’m sure you feel that way too. We all do. Thanksgiving offers the illusion of respite. Sure, we won’t have to work for a few days, but all that eating, socializing, and digesting takes energy few of us have to spare.

Then it’s a glamour-less push to Christmas break, where many of us will finally get a chance to unplug and recharge. To stop. To sit. To allow ourselves to regenerate for the new year.

What will we do in 2015? Will we try new things? Attempt to learn new skills? Push ourselves to defecate on what we already know, in the hopes that it might fertilize a new way of seeing?

Right. It wouldn’t be one of my book reviews if I didn’t leave you with at least one uncouth image. So consider the job done. But a book review it is, so let’s get to it.

Today, I want to highlight “Who Do You Love,” by John Gossage, recently published by Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. It is a strange production, to be sure, and its oddity is confirmed in an interview at the end, between Mr. Gossage and Darius Himes, the former director of the gallery.

I was genuinely unsure of what I was seeing, when I first perused. Why the cheap cardboard cover? Were these actual prints glued to the pages? I gently moved my fingernail along the edge, and found it was a smooth sheet of paper. Why the big tan borders, and the odd pieces of color?

Take a moment, read the captions, and you realize these are re-creations of actual assemblage pieces. They’re simulacra. Virtualizations of slightly 3-dimensional art that exists in the world. Not one more iteration of a digital file that can be done with what you please, including embossing it on a coffee cup.

As many of you know, I interviewed the artist here a couple of years ago. He was the funniest, most engaging, and perhaps even the most charismatic person I’ve interviewed yet. Brimming with energy and wit.

These pictures are quiet. Thoughtful. Subtle. Emotive like an almost finished cigarette. So very different from the man himself.

The aforementioned interview with Mr. Himes confirms that Mr. Gossage almost never ventures outside of the purely photographic. (Though the boxes he told us about, called, “Hey Fuckface,” if I recall, are likely another attempt.) These pieces were a deliberate challenge to what he knew of photography.

And experiment. A car crash, as he said.

I wasn’t sure if I liked them the first time through. On the second pass, I decided that I did. Especially as the little pieces of virtual colored paper begin to take form, to have personality, to make you think of art in general.

And play.

The photos too have a power to them, on repeated viewing. The hand, held up, like Stop. The X of the steel beams. The outright beauty of the shadow of a border fence over a Pacific beach.

Mr. Gossage admitted in our interview that he’s made a lot of books. Probably more than he could count, unless he had a CV handy. Many of us have still not made even one. (Myself included.)

I can’t imagine it’s that easy to use this type of forum for experimentation. Making a cardboard book that attempts to re-create the subversive spirit of a cardboard photo project. It takes guts, and the foreknowledge that some people will find it underdone.

Even the title, “Who Do You Love,” takes on an unexpected meaning as the opening page depicts lyrics from that 70’s song that you won’t get out of your head, once you realize what I’m talking about. (“I walked 47 miles of barbed wire…”)

Anyway. Enough for today. You get the point.

Me being me, you can be sure there will be more on “what we can expect for next year,” in the weeks to come. But let this be the start, before you’ve even had your first, sweet taste of tryptophan. I wish you much luck in exciting new ventures, should you have the stones to try reinvention in 2015.

Bottom Line: Cool, slightly crazy attempt to recreate assemblage art

To Purchase “Who Do You Love” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

Categories: Business

Art Producers Speak: Jennifer Whalen

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:12am

We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.sease@verizon.net

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Jennifer Whalen because I saw an old soul within an emerging talent. Jennifer has the eye, the skill and the production chops of a much more experienced shooter but has the fresh approach of someone seeing things with a new viewpoint. She absorbs information like a sponge and applies it to her work. She’s got what it takes to go the distance.

I always keep my camera close because usually in between shots there are magic moments that happen. I captured something unexpected that I love. 

I always keep my camera close because usually in between shots there are magic moments that happen. I captured something unexpected that I love. 

This shot wasn't planned. We had too many people in the Jeep and she fell asleep in the trunk. I love this shot because it wasn't forced.

This shot wasn’t planned. We had too many people in the Jeep and she fell asleep in the trunk. I love this shot because it wasn’t forced.

Spontaneity. I have a background in photo journalism, so I always keep an eye out for  moments that only last a split second.

Spontaneity. I have a background in photo journalism, so I always keep an eye out for  moments that only last a split second.

Young dads can be hip and stylish, too.

Young dads can be hip and stylish, too.

This photo happened during a look book shoot. The outtakes are usually my favorites.

This photo happened during a look book shoot. The outtakes are usually my favorites.

This was a test shoot, and I couldn't help but take a detail shot of that pocket. She wanted to wipe off the sand from the previous shot and I told her not to. The sand on her legs is my favorite part.

This was a test shoot, and I couldn’t help but take a detail shot of that pocket. She wanted to wipe off the sand from the previous shot and I told her not to. The sand on her legs is my favorite part.

For me, art is about capturing a small part of a larger world. I love to take detail shots.

For me, art is about capturing a small part of a larger world. I love to take detail shots.

Part of capturing a feeling is capturing the fleeting movement.

Part of capturing a feeling is capturing the fleeting movement.

I love being inspired by other people and capture a photo that is truly them. I also like to add in a bit of humor whenever I can.

I love being inspired by other people and capture a photo that is truly them. I also like to add in a bit of humor whenever I can.

I like to take photos that have a graphic quality to them; either in composition or with my subject's body movement. In this case, both are graphic.

I like to take photos that have a graphic quality to them; either in composition or with my subject’s body movement. In this case, both are graphic.

This is an outtake in between shots which quickly became one of my favorites.

This is an outtake in between shots which quickly became one of my favorites.

During our lunch break, I told her to bite it by the corner just to humor me.

During our lunch break, I told her to bite it by the corner just to humor me.

While in Kauai, I noticed that swinging on vines was a natural pastime among friends. I set up a shoot where I did stills and video with these gals because I loved the shapes they made with their bodies while swinging.

While in Kauai, I noticed that swinging on vines was a natural pastime among friends. I set up a shoot where I did stills and video with these gals because I loved the shapes they made with their bodies while swinging.

I had to balanced while standing on the canoe to get the angle I wanted!

I had to balanced while standing on the canoe to get the angle I wanted!

A cup of coffee goes really well with great tunes.

A cup of coffee goes really well with great tunes.

How many years have you been in business?
I have been pursuing commercial photography and video for about 2 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I have a degree in both Journalism and Fine Art, but I am a self-taught photographer and videographer.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I don’t find myself having one specific source of inspiration, but I’m always inspired by people who create something out of nothing. For example, my dad is a carpenter, so I grew up helping him and seeing his ideas develop into something tangible. It was a good foundation that helped me to realize, with heart and soul, I can turn my ideas into something rewarding and profitable.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I don’t shoot to get noticed or hired; I shoot for myself and I am constantly searching for that special thing, that weird little moment of simplicity in movement or expression that speaks honesty and truth. I am always trying to be attentive and develop my sensitivity to the world when shooting. After doing that over-and-over again, I end up with a body of work that is constantly evolving. I have an all-or-nothing personality, which pushes me to take risks and put my whole self into my work. Taking risks is about reaching my fullest potential and never staying in my comfort zone. It means never being afraid to try a new idea. If it doesn’t work out in the end, that’s fine, at least I tried. For example, exploring video has made me a stronger still image storyteller and has strengthened my overall artistic vision. When I am shooting personal work, it’s all about leaving expectations at the door. That attitude gives me an open mind and allows me to build off of what I am seeing around me and appreciate the idiosyncrasies of the people I am photographing or filming. Just like with playing music, it’s about tuning into the rhythm of other people.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
There will always be times when the images that you and the AD love won’t make the final edit, whether it is due to composition of the photo or the overall satisfaction of everyone involved. When it happens, I don’t spend my energy on being angry or disappointed about that. The client chooses images based on what’s appropriate for their audience. It’s not about me; it’s about collaborating to get what is best for the client.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I send personal emails, mailers and set-up meetings. A relationship can’t begin until you meet with people in person, so I am a big fan of getting myself in front of people.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
When I first started pursuing advertising, I spent a year building my commercial portfolio before pitching it. When I started testing, I was under the impression that creatives wanted to see a portfolio that looked like finished ads, so I took photos that resembled what I was seeing in the media. The problem was that it wasn’t my voice. I was creating work based on what I thought potential clients wanted to see. I was trying too hard to make something that had already been done before. Creatives don’t want to see a portfolio that looks like ads. I wished someone told me that earlier. Creatives want to see your unique vision and perspective of the world. I ended up eliminating about 90% of my portfolio and added a new set of images that showcased my voice and my point of view. At that moment, my work started to get noticed more and I was happier with what I was showing. My advice is to not worry about what you think others want to see. Make work that you like and showcase that with confidence.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I am always shooting for myself, and if I’m not shooting, I’m thinking about how I want to shoot my next personal project. There will never be a point in my life when I stop shooting.

How often are you shooting new work?
I shoot a new project once a month, maybe more if time allows.

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I’m a lifestyle photographer / videographer residing in Los Angeles.  My approach is to capture life in motion – a feeling of realism.  I live for storytelling, and my work embraces the world for its humor, spontaneity, and adventure.  Whether it is trekking through a frozen waterfall or following adventurers into the heart of a rain forest, new experiences excite me. My passion toward collaboration fuels my momentum for each project. I stay inspired by my subjects’ charisma, idiosyncrasies, and the ability to connect with them in an authentic way.  I have a degree in Journalism & Fine Art from the University of Minnesota, and have been a full time creative ever since.  When I am not photographing, you may find me at my neighborhood’s diner enjoying pancakes for dinner.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Categories: Business

Photographers’ Rep Julian Richards on Why He Abruptly Quit the Business

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 10:27am

PDN: What kinds of changes to the industry had the biggest impact on your work as an agent?

JR: Before I answer, I should say that the governing principles remain the same. It’s a timeless dynamic, going door-to-door flogging stuff. There’s all sorts of nuance, but it only takes one bout of sitting in an advertising agency’s reception area surrounded by portfolios—waiting for the assistant art buyer to totter out and escort you to a conference room—to allay any doubt that there’s something fundamentally Willy Loman about the whole gig. That hasn’t changed. Nor has the fact that we need them more than they need us.

There were times I’d take some conference call, having stepped away from the dinner table at home; I’d be pacing about on the porch, gesticulating like a spastic cranefly, snorting, laughing too loud, spouting platitudes about “authenticity” and “shooting from the inside out.” Then I’d come back in and there’d be [my family] Juliette, Winnie and Dusty staring at me with half eaten meals and that collective “who the fuck are you?” look. Like the girls had just watched their dad dance on a bar in a Speedo for nachos.

Digital changed the landscape. Before the pixel, craft was still an elemental component of the narrative. A process that involved trusting strips of cellulose in a mysterious dark box was replaced by instant, impeccable rendering, in situ on vast monitors. The photographer’s role as sorcerer and custodian of the vision was diminished: The question “have we got it?” became redundant. Now it was the photographer asking the art director asking the client. Which is a big deal. Because the previous dialectic was that you engaged people who brought something to the party you couldn’t provide yourself. Like Magi, the “creatives” brought creativity; photographers, vision. By abdicating those responsibilities to the guy who’s paying, you’re undergoing a sort of self-inflicted castration. A culture of fear and sycophancy develops. Self-worth diminishes, because nobody really likes being a eunuch, even a well-paid one. There’s less currency in having a viewpoint. The answer to the question “What have you got to say?” drifts towards “What do you want me to say?” There’s reward in being generic, keeping one’s vision in one’s pocket. Trouble is, when your vision has spent too long in your pocket, sometimes you reach for it and it’s not there any more. Something Pavlovian sets in: the bell rings when it’s kibble-time and you drool on cue. Suddenly many jobs can be done by many people, photographers become more interchangeable, the question of “Why him over her?” shifts to ancillary aspects of the process; personality, speed, stamina, flexibility. And there’s profit in mutability; being able to gather several photographers under a single umbrella with a shared mandate makes you more flexible and attractive. But the corrosive byproduct is that the unique sniper’s eye of a Greg Miller, Chris Buck, James Smolka, Sian Kennedy becomes not only less relevant, but actually an obstacle. In shifting ground to garner a larger share of the mainstream, you risk losing identity, licking the hand that feeds you.

There were other strands that played into this shift. The “make it look like my niece could have shot it” esthetic; the bespoke corporate stock library with its emphasis on bulk delivery of cliché; endless emphasis on “aspirational” as a reaction to difficult economic times. Oh, and how about the Death of Print? Half the industry getting fired in a month and no sign of a magazine this side of Bulgaria. Loop back to the top. Add decimation and fear.

Read More: PDN Online.

Categories: Business

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