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Former Photography Director Rob Haggart
Updated: 18 min 35 sec ago

This Week In Photography Books: Mike Slack

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 9:24am

by Jonathan Blaustein

“Mad Men” ended this week.

Did you see it? Were you dissatisfied? Personally, I like to imagine Matthew Weiner’s recurring nightmares about “The Sopranos” last episode, and its less-than-stellar reception.

Can’t you see him tossing and turning in a king-sized bed, replete with high-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets? Unconscious, with the Pacific Ocean shimmering out the window, he wonders how to live with himself if he fucks up the end of “Mad Men” the way David Chase faded to black.

He must have been a neurotic mess in the days/months/years leading up to Don Draper’s denouement. I’m certain of it. Because otherwise, he wouldn’t have over-thought things to the degree he did.

SPOILER ALERT

Ending the show with a meditating Jon Hamm’s beatific smile would have been just about perfect. The skeptical, stoic Don Draper, finally merging with the emo-boy Dick Whitman. The straight-laced beefcake, who looked Iconic in his 50’s hat, finally trusting in the Universe enough to go easy on himself.

To forgive.

That would have been a profound message about mankind’s ability to grow and change. (And woman-kind, of course.) But no. Matthew Weiner had to take it one step further, and ambiguously suggest that the momentary enlightenment was put directly in service of inventing that famous Coke commercial that we will all have stuck in our heads forEVER.

A classic bit of over-thinking, especially as he didn’t bother with the epilogue showing Don Draper’s triumphant return to pitch the idea. That would have made more sense, traditionally, than the half-done act of running the ad.

But then, most of us get in our own way, from time to time. We overcomplicate things. Normally, it’s better to keep it simple; to see your job as making the donuts, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. (What if we made the wheel square? Instead of round? We could build pyramids with this newfangled contraption.)

Today’s book does just that. (Keep it simple, that is.) Mike Slack’s “Shrubs of Death” had me at the title. I might have rushed past last week’s telling book cover, but this one grabbed me by my chakras and didn’t let go.

Shrubs of Death? How great is that?

And then, it delivered on its promise. We see a lot of shrubs. Each picture is cropped just right, to anthropomorphize a bit of shrubbery. (There’s a Monty Python joke in there somewhere. I’m sure of it.)

I giggled for the first few photos, and then started flipping more quickly. It was like a paper version of an animated gif. What would you call that? A flip-book? An analogue cartoon?

No matter. Halfway through, I thought to myself, “This is cute and witty, but honestly, Mike Slack could have shot this whole project in 25 minutes.”

I really thought that. I swear.

I even made puns in my mind about Mike being a Slacker, and making a book out of the experience just because he could. Then, the end notes claim that he did, in fact, shoot the entire group in one day. (The consistent light was a giveaway.) Apparently, he made the pictures at a cemetery in Indiana. (Hence the title.)

Let me be clear here. This is not a great book. And charging $32 for the thing requires some genuine hubris. But at least Mike Slack didn’t over-think anything.

He got a funny idea to shoot shrubs in a cemetery. Maybe he always thought it could be a book. And then he did it. The fact that I had it in my hands proves its existence.

Why am I highlighting it today, if I only like it ironically? Because art is in the making. We all have lots of ideas. But sometimes, it’s best to just get out there and make something. Anything.

The truth is harsh. No matter how smart you are, sometimes, you just need to photograph those shrubs… before you’re the one 6 feet under the ground.

Bottom Line: A funny little book that won’t change your life

To Purchase “Shrubs of Death” Visit Photo-Eye

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Categories: Business

The Art of the Personal Project: Mark Scott

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 9:51am

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: Mark Scott

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How long have you been shooting?
We moved to Germany in the middle of my freshman year of high school – my Dad was in the Army. It could have been awful, but it wasn’t – the experience helped me become a photographer. I was fascinated with how different everything was and started taking pictures non-stop. I had a camera for several years before, but it was shooting around Europe that really got me started “seeing” the world in pictures. I’ve shot commercially now for about 25 years.
 
Are you self taught or photography school taught?
Originally self taught. In high school I packed a 35mm camera around everywhere. Shot tons of b&w, spent hours and hours in the darkroom on base, processing and printing pictures. My chemistry teacher, who was a photo geek, introduced me to the work of photographers like Cartier-Bresson and Andre Kertész. He liked to critique my pictures, always encouraging me to shoot more.

I took a community college photography program in Washington state learning basic technic, and then moved to L.A. to go to Art Center. But I never made it there. I was lucky to get a full-time assistant job with a successful lifestyle photographer who also had just come to L.A. Most of the work was ad campaigns for agencies in NY and Chicago. It was intense, but I was learning so much I decided postpone Art Center. Assisting is a job every young photographer should have for a while. We did everything in house from estimating to image delivery. Besides working as camera assistant on shoots, I was involved in production, casting, scouting, even sourcing props at the studios and prop houses. After that, I freelanced with a variety of out of town photographers shooting ad campaigns on the West Coast. I never went back to school.

With this particular project what was your inspiration to shoot it?
My first studio was on Melrose, right in the heart of the Melrose District. Melrose, which isn’t far from my home, is a magnet for creative people from all over the world. I’m pretty low key, and not much of a fashionista, but what I’ve always loved about Melrose are those people who do make bold personal statements with the way they look and dress. And combined with the creative street artists there’s always opportunity for pictures. That’s a good match for a social media project. There’s a great energy from street shooting, and I wanted to revisit Melrose as a project to share on social media.

How long have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
From day one I started putting this work out on Instagram. But when I started, there was really no project yet. I just shot and posted pictures. A few months later I started dopemelrose.com, an image blog using WordPress. I got great response, so I included DopeMelrose pictures in my printed portfolio, on my website and in the work I promote on Workbook. That section of the portfolio always sparks conversation.
 
Since shooting work for your portfolio is different from personal work how do you feel when the work is different?
That’s an interesting question, because the difference is a little blurry sometimes. Some of my personal work is shot for my portfolio. It’s the motivation and the approach that changes.
 
Exploring the world through the lens of a camera is such a great feeling of discovery. It’s what I fell in love with when I first started taking pictures and what motivates my personal work.  I like to explore subjects that interest me – then observe, experiment and let the imagery evolve organically.  I approach some projects like visual brainstorming … looking to find or create moments that are authentic, moments that tell a story or that have amazing light and composition. Personal work helps to hone my craft and is a great source of inspiration for my commercial work.
 
But of course the approach is different when I’m shooting portfolio pictures that are relevant to clients and brands I want to work with. DopeMelrose is much more serendipitous. Portfolio shoots are storyboarded with clear image goals in mind and production values more like assignments. I shoot lifestyle, so crew, talent, scouting, locations, permits, permissions, props and wardrobe are necessary when producing portfolio shoots. 
 
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it’s working?
How do you define “working?” Personal projects always work. Not because they always create awesome images but because the experience is fun, interesting and the process exercises creativity. 
 
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues like Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram, or Facebook?
I started DopeMelrose to be an ongoing social media project using Instagram. Instagram has been key to this project because when I ask someone to participate, within a few seconds they have my Instagram up on their phone and they’re totally cool to shoot a quick portrait. I’m experimenting with shooting on an iPad, selecting the picture with the people and posting immediately. People love being part of the entire process. I just started posting to tumblr.
 
If so has the work every gone viral and possibly with great press?
Nothing like @thedress or “Charlie bit my finger”.
 
Have you ever printed your personal projects for marketing to potential clients? 
Early in my career I marketed a personal project I shot on the American West to a handful of Western brands. That quickly led to years of work with the Martin Agency for Wrangler.
 
Pictures from that project – cowboy portraits, authentic relationship moments and the printing technic have also inspired other ads. It’s exciting to get layouts referencing personal work. Imagery from that project has also been licensed for a variety of companies, including a major U.S. liquor company promoting its brand in Eastern Europe.
 
One really exciting result of the American West project was that I was asked by an art buyer I had been working with to hang a show of my photographs in the halls of Ogilvy NY.  
 
I shot and marketed that project for several years. It’s really amazing not only how much commercial work was the direct result of that one project but also how many amazing creatives I’ve gotten to know and collaborate with along the way.
 
Artist Statement
I wanted to connect with the creative spirit and personal stories of the people who make Melrose what it is.  Past generations have influenced this street with Punk, New Age, Goth. It will be fun to look back and see the social and creative influences of today’s generation.
 
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Mark Scott is a lifestyle photographer based in Los Angeles.  He specializes lifestyle, portraiture, sports and reportage. You can see his work at http://www.markscottphoto.com


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

Categories: Business

Paul Schiek TBW Books Interview

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 9:23am

Jonathan Blaustein: I just called you on the phone. We’re not Skyping. And I noticed that your phone number was 444-BOOK.

Paul Schiek: Yeah.

JB: Who did you have to bribe, as a book publisher, to get BOOK as your phone number? How much money did they make you pay?

PS: OK. Awesome first question, because I love these little details that most people don’t notice, or care about. A lot of people don’t have landlines anymore, and to me, a landline represents this classic way of doing business, so people can just call you at 444-BOOK.

It was sort of, I don’t want to say kitschy, but it was…

JB: Cute?

PS: I’ve had this long goal of being a business in the Oakland community, and that TBW would sponsor a Little League team. In the same way that Joe Schmo the plumber buys a Little League team their uniforms.

JB: (laughing) You’re gonna do that?

PS: That’s been a dream of mine for my publishing company. When I set up a landline, I said, “How much would it cost to have my number be 1-510-TBW-BOOK? But that was taken just numerically, by chance. So I just said well what about 444-BOOK?

They said it was available. So I said, “OK, how much is it going to cost to have that for the rest of my life, as my landline for my business.”

They were like, a one time charge of…$35.

JB: (laughing.) There it is. 35 bucks.

PS: So that’s the office phone number. In certain circumstances, it’s totally appropriate to tell people that’s the number. Sometimes, it’s goofy, and I just say the numbers 444-2665. But I like having it. It’s cool, and it references the workmanlike qualities that I like to instill in this company.

Some people get it, some people don’t.

JB: Listen, that was the fun first question. The next question is more traditional, but something that I’m really curious about. You’re a successful artist, as well as being a publisher. Why did you gravitate towards art to begin with?

PS: The short version is that I was out in the world, shooting a lot of bands that I would go see. I always had a camera with me, but I didn’t have an understanding of photography. I’d moved to California, and was working whatever menial jobs were possible, just to get by.

I was having a great time, away from a seemingly culturally oppressive environment where I grew up, in Wisconsin. At the time, for a 17 year old, it sure felt that way. Anything left or right of center was frowned upon. So I moved to California, and lived that lifestyle for a long time.

I made the decision that I was going to take something seriously. I think I was 26 at the time. I applied to one local art school, which at the time was California College of Arts and Crafts, but now it’s California College of Art.

JB: Right. They dropped the last C.

PS: Yeah, but when I was there it was CCAC. I got in, and it was an immediate life-changing experience. This isn’t my quote, but I became like the jock of art school. I would stay there 24 hours a day. I had no email account. I had never been on a computer, and here was a room filled with 25 computers, and you could do whatever you want on it.

I was blown away at the idea that I was encouraged to challenge things. It didn’t matter what I did at school. They were like, “Oh that’s interesting. Why did you choose to do that?”

That was extremely liberating and fascinating.

JB: Did you get to work with Larry Sultan?

PS: Yes, I worked with Larry my last year, but the whole time I was there I became really close with Jim Goldberg, and worked with him extensively. He’s 100% responsible for introducing me to photobooks and sparking that interest in me.

I worked with Larry, in 2005, but I didn’t become extremely close with him. He was a very influential person on my work there though. He was a extremely smart man, and someone I was very honored to have a opportunity to work under.

JB: In working with Larry Sultan and Jim Goldberg, you were introduced to super-star artists just as you were beginning your career. That must have been foundational for you?

PS: I knew that they were well-respected, and great artists, but I was just excited by what they were willing to offer up in terms of them being interesting people with interesting perspectives on things. I knew that they had books out, and I could go in a library and look at their book.

To me, that was something. That these guys, that I knew, that I could go sit one-on-one with, and talk about photography, I could also go in a library and, amongst these stacks of books, pull out a hardcover, coffee-table book with their images in it.

That amazed me. I’d never known people that had books out. You know? In a lot of ways, that inspired me to say, “I’m going to make a book.”

JB: And now, it’s 10 years later, and everybody’s got a book. That whole idea of it being a super-exclusive career marker, it seems like that mystique has been watered down a bit. Would you agree?

PS: I would agree with that. Yeah. Somewhat frustratingly, I agree with that. It bums me out a little bit, because I loved the exclusivity of it. It was this defining thing.

JB: Well, you can see everything from grumpy cats to gestating grandmas on the Internet, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great pictures there too, right?

PS: Yeah.

JB: Well, in 2005, which is when I’m guessing you graduated, you decided to publish your own book. It’s a perfect segue. You were fascinated by books. You had professors who knew how to make them. And well, well before everyone was doing it, you said, “I’m going to make my own book.”

Is that how it happened?

PS: That’s exactly how it happened. The more intricate part of it was that part of our requirement to graduate is that we had to mount a show, and make a post card announcing it. We had to print and frame it ourselves.

That was what we had to do to graduate, and prove that we are photographers. To me, it was just absurd. No one knew who I was. I had friends who were on the East Coast, in the Mid West, and Down South. I wanted to share what I was doing in school with these photos, and it just made no sense to spend this money to print these large photographs and frame them.

No one was going to see it. No one was going to care. Then, I was going to have to sit on this product that I didn’t know what to do with, that no one wanted to buy.

It made a lot more sense to me that I would be a publisher, and I would make a book. Then, I could mail it to those people, and use it as a promotional tool. Et cetera, et cetera. I had asked for Jim and Larry’s blessing, to do the book instead of a show, and they said it was fine.

I should also say that at that point, I’d been making ‘zines for years.

JB: OK.

PS: So the idea of a book to me was the next level ‘zine.

JB: I’m glad you pointed that out. It didn’t come from nowhere.

PS: No. I was looking at, and participating in these things that were happening alongside the music world. I’d collected and seen fan ‘zines for years. Ever since I was 13 years old in Wisconsin, I’d seen ‘zines. More importantly, I was buying and seeing records.

A lot of times, a record was hand-printed, and on a random, nothing label. It was just like a name. So I just applied all those same concepts to publishing a book. In my classes, people would say, “You can’t just say you’re going to make a book. You need a publisher.” So I’d be like, “Well, I’m the publisher.”

JB: (laughing) That’s awesome.

PS: They’d be like, “What does that mean? Who’s going to print it?” So I said, “I’ll print it.” Then they’d be like, “Well, you need a distributor.” And I’d say, “I’m the distributor.”

JB: (laughing) That’s rad. Oh my god.

PS: This, to me, was not foreign whatsoever.

JB: Right.

PS: This was just how you made something that was yours, and you put it out in the world. For me, it wasn’t weird at all, but to some of the people I was studying with, they thought it was a circus sideshow. They said, “This dude says he’s going to have a book in a month for his senior thesis.”

To me it was just, I’ve got to get to work. I’ve got to figure this out. So that’s the way it worked out, and how I published what essentially was my first art book. It’s funny to call it a book. It was 4″x6″, and 40 pages, but I really did the best I could to challenge the materiality of what a ‘zine was, and to make a book out of it. To bring it into the feel of what a book is.

Really, I gave them away. I had a book release party at my friend’s little book/zine shop here. I said, “First 100 people get a free copy of the book.” That was just this technique for me to say, “There’s gonna be 500 people there.” Probably 30 people showed up. But on the flyer, I wrote first 100 people at the door get a free copy of the book.

That was just me trying to be funny, but it was also allowed me to believe in myself, in a strange way. So we screen-printed flyers, and had the party. It was what I’d seen other people do, having record release parties for their band.

You do it in this little space with 7 foot ceilings, and cram a bunch of people in, and hang up a few photos. It was cool, and it was fun, and it felt like mine.

I never played in band…

JB: I was just about to ask you that.

PS: No, I never played in bands, but I was around that, and was living with and knew people in bands. I watched how they operated, and ran little businesses. I never felt a part of that. I was always making photos of it, but was never a part of it.

I tried to apply those same techniques and understandings and operations to this new thing that I was starting, which was making books. I should also mention that at that point, I was becoming obsessive about photography. I was looking at everything I could get my hands on.

Spending as much time as possible either making photos, or printing photos. I was becoming really entrenched in it. While I was in school, I was making so much, but also working jobs, because I needed to pay rent and basic life needs.

So I really wasn’t able to focus, for a bunch of different reasons, on the reading assignments. I wasn’t really getting the History of Photography. After school is when I started to take a moment and go back to read. I really wanted to study the medium. I just wanted to be the kid who knew everything. I didn’t want anyone to be able to say to me, “Do you know those early daguerreotypes by blah blah blah?” and I’d have to say, “No, I don’t know it.”

I wanted to be able to say, “Yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about, and we can have a conversation about it right now.” I really wanted to be able to back up the decisions I was making. I was aware people would want to pigeon hole me and while in no way am I an intellectual, I wanted to at least be able to know the history of the medium to a T.

JB: Yeah, I had a buddy in school like that, back at UNM in the late 90’s. My friend Scott B. Davis looked like he worked in a record store, and he knew everything. He had the background.

I came to it at 23, so I didn’t have the background. Everyone would just look at him, and the eye-rolling was ridiculous. It was like, “How the fuck do you know that? I don’t know that. I wouldn’t even know how to learn that.”

So you were that guy.

PS: Here’s the thing I want to be clear about. I wanted to be that guy as a defense mechanism. I was insecure in the art world because I was really just a dirt bag from Wisconsin. I felt like this new world that I’d discovered, which was the art world, I was seen as the kid who could go to a house party, or a show, and make pictures of kids throwing up, or whatever. And I did make those photos!

But I was making tons of photos. I was shooting everything and later relying on the editing process to extract meaning and try to create new narratives. I was trying to use images as signposts. This was the time when VICE was doing their annual photo issue.

This style of photography was hyper-on-the-radar. You shoot with a point-and-shoot…flash at night. From my perspective it was a really exciting time for photography.

JB: Listen, I was living in Brooklyn when Ryan McGinley had that show at the Whitney. The whole Beautiful Losers thing.

PS: So you know exactly what I’m talking about. I wanted to be a part of the academia side of things also. I wanted to prove that I was deeply invested in this. That this wasn’t by chance, that I was working really hard at something.

It’s funny, but I haven’t thought about this work in a long time. I was shooting with a point-and-shoot, 35mm, but I would crop my photos like a 6×7, to give it a more formal quality. Larry was shooting with a 6×7, so I would take these 35mm photos, but then I cropped them so they had a snap-and-shoot aesthetic, but they were presented more formally.

JB: When you say crop it like a 6×7, you mean use that aspect ratio, so people would think it was made with a bigger camera?

PS: Exactly. Maybe it was grainy, or had a bright flash. Or it was in a situation where you wouldn’t use a big camera. But then the prints would look like something Larry would do. It would be more serious, not the snap-shot thing. Perhaps it was staged, that whole conversation of fact and fiction in photography.

I was trying to do both things; to be in two places with the work. I’m digressing…

JB: There’s no such thing in one of these interviews, man. You’re supposed to. That’s part of the deal, and why these are different from everyone else’s interviews.

We don’t stick to a script. We want to give the readers a chance to learn from your experience. People have their own big ideas, and don’t know where to go with it. Or they don’t feel like they have permission to just do it themselves.

I’ve done it in my career, and it’s always been helpful.

PS: Sure.

JB: Sometimes, you just have to self-declare. Like you said earlier, “I am a publisher,” and then you are one. We manifest these aspects of our personalities, and our careers, through hubris.

PS: That’s exactly right. That’s a main tenet of what I was privy to growing up. You say you’re a guitar player in a band, not because you either have a guitar, or you know how to play it, but because you do it. That can obviously translate into any facet in life. You determine it.

This is sounding corny, so I want to stop talking. Next question. I feel like I’m on a soap box now.

JB: You can stop right there, but I actually know what you’re talking about. Back in graduate school, I had a friend who asked me, “How do you get a show?” I said, “The easiest way to get a show is to make a show?” So he said, “How do you make a show?”

I said, if there are pictures on the wall, and people in the room to look at them, and they have wine in plastic cups in their hand, then you have a show.

PS: That’s right.

JB: He said, “Oh, it’s that easy?” So I said, “Watch. I’ll show you.” We had a beautiful apartment in Greenpoint, with white walls and hardwood floors, so I just did it. I invited my grad school buddies, and hung pictures, and there were some people there. Then, in the second show, there were more people there, and then in the third show, it was a wall-heaving jammer, and I thought that was great, until I had to clean up the next day.

PS: (laughing) Yeah.

JB: I had to mop up all the dried, stinky beer from my kitchen floor, and I thought, “OK, I think I’ve made my point.”

But a lot of people don’t necessarily give themselves permission to take risks, and let it hang out. I try to use these interviews as a way of giving people some confidence to do what they want to do, even if it’s not necessarily related to what you and I are talking about.

I’ll put myself on the soapbox, so you don’t have to be. How’s that?

PS: OK.

JB: But back to the publishing. You made one book for yourself, and then a couple more, but then at some point, you decided that you were going to publish other artists. You must have woken up and said, “Well, I do have a company. And I might not have a Little League team under sponsorship yet, but this is no longer just for shits and giggles. This is a real thing.”

PS: Yes.

JB: And then you managed to cultivate relationships with some really successful artists. Can you walk me through the genesis of that, from doing your own work to publishing other artists, and selling books, and really trying to push the envelope?

PS: That is another example of form following function. I’d gotten out of school, I’d made that book “Good by Angels” as my senior thesis, and I wanted to do another book. By that point, I was making different photographs, and I wanted to show them again. But I still hadn’t cultivated a following, beyond my immediate friends, and I didn’t know how to reach a larger audience.

It was really just a practicality thing. I’d been studying with Jim, and he and I had become close, so I asked him, “Hey, I want to make another book. Would you also do a book with me?” He agreed to it, and I always think of it as him extending an olive branch to me, you know?

This is something I don’t normally talk about, but I feel comfortable talking with you about the business side of things.

JB: Sure. Thanks.

PS: I didn’t have any money. Big surprise. I had no money to print anything. So I developed this system where I said, “I’m going to make these four books. One’s going to be by Jim, and I got two other artists, and one will be mine. People are going to buy these books because Jim’s involved in it. And I’m going to force people to look at my own book.”

They’re going to have to buy my book, because they want to get Jim’s book. They’re only sold as a set. That’s going to be a way to expose my work to a larger audience, and also, more importantly, it’s going to secure some funds for me to pay for this thing.

Once Jim agreed to do it, I promoted it, and got some orders coming in, and I took that money and I developed a program where the books would come out individually over the course of the coming year. The reason that I did that was because it was an opportunity for me to make the money to produce them as they came out, to pay for production of the other books.

I took the money from the initial orders and go to the printer, pay them, and then go and pay the bindery. Then I’d have the first book, but people already paid for all four books. So I’d ship the first book to the customers, and then I’d start praying.

I’d be like, “Fuck. I need more orders.”

JB: Right.

PS: Then I’d do more promotions, and more emails, and I’d ask some friends and tell them about it, and a couple of more orders would come in. You can see what I’m saying here.

JB: Yeah. It was a great hustle.

PS: Eventually, I got enough cash together, and I’d print book number two. And then I’d start praying again. And then repeat.

Finally, it got to my book, and I was shipping it out to my subscribers. I was like, “Wow. Here’s a subscriber in England, man. England! I’m shipping a book to England!”

JB: (laughing) Right.

PS: Anyway, I realized that I was doing something of value, and that I should continue pursuing it. That opened up opportunity, because I was cultivating a client list, and was able to print better books, because I could start relying on these people to order.

I was really trying to build an old school business, no different than a plumber. “Hey, you’re going to hire me, and I’m going to come in and provide excellent service, and give you and excellent product, and next time you need that again, you’re going to call me.”

That’s really what I believe in. It’s how I grew up.

JB: I was just going to say, this has to be a Mid-Western thing.

PS: Yeah, I’m from Wisconsin. 100%. And it’s really funny, because when I was there, I was miserable. I don’t know if you’ve experienced this. Did you grow up in New Mexico?

JB: I grew up in Jersey, man, so I can relate.

PS: Jersey. So you understand what I’m talking about.

JB: Yes.

PS: Because you have this dichotomy in your ethos and approach to things. The cultural differences, right?

JB: Absolutely.

PS: I don’t know if you’ve experienced this, but when I was in Wisconsin, I really couldn’t appreciate it. This year’s really important for me, because it’s my 18th year in Oakland. So this year marks the same amount of time in Oakland as I was in Wisconsin.

It’s a strange feeling. Maybe that’s beside the point.

Now that I’m in California, steeped in the art world, I find there’s a lot things I don’t appreciate. Things I’m not in line with. When I break it down and look at it, it’s because of the way I was raised.

JB: Jersey gets a bad rap, and I couldn’t wait to get away, frankly. But one person’s “Bridge and Tunnel” is another person’s grounded, down-to-Earth, everyday American.

PS: Absolutely.

JB: I could see the Twin Towers from my town, but it was so different from New York City.

PS: That’s exactly right. Do you feel that now that you’re in New Mexico, which couldn’t be more different from where you’re from?

JB: It’s like what you were saying with your 18 and 18. My folks first brought me out here when I was 14, and they moved here permanently when I was still in college.

PS: Moved here, meaning New Mexico?

JB: Yeah. Taos. They still live here. So I’ve been around this place, on and off, for 27 years. This is home, and Jersey is the place that made me, that I still go visit occasionally.

In my own psyche, I don’t relate as an East Coaster so much.

PS: All my family is still in Wisconsin, and I go back to visit, so I’m still connected to it. I think about it a lot. And then I come back from these trips, and within four hours, I’m back in this liberal, hippie bubble that we live in in the Bay Area.

JB: The sun is shining, and the palm trees are swaying.

PS: Totally. And I find it comforting, and I love it. At the same time, so much of it is not in line with how I want my life. In a lot of ways, I create this environment for myself, like the phone number, that harks back and references this nostalgic America. I don’t know…

In a lot of ways, I’m antiquated, and still not in touch with the way things really are. But, whatever. It’s this weird world that I’ve created for myself. I assume it’s idealized in a lot of ways.

JB: Let’s go into that world a little bit. I’m looking at the “Subscription Series Number 1″ on your website, which I assume is the project we were just talking about, without naming it.

That’s the first time I see Mike Brodie’s name pop up on the website, and it was put out in 2006.

PS: Yeah.

JB: I’m going to go ahead and assume that people will know who Mike is, without having to do a lot of backstory. I’ve reviewed his first book, by Twin Palms, and he’s had a ridiculous amount of success in the last few years.

How did you guys meet? How did you come to become friends and collaborators?

PS: I was introduced to Mike through a friend of ours: Monica. Mike would travel through Oakland, and Monica lived in a punk house that we’d go to and hang out at, they would have parties and shows there. He’d stayed there a couple of times, and she told me, “This kid comes through town, and he’s great. His name is Brodie, and he’s got all these Polaroids with him.”

At the time, I shot a lot of Polaroid stuff. It was natural, and that simple. There was a party at the house, I think it was actually Monica’s birthday. My good friend DV and I were there. We all just hung out, I remember I made a photo of Brodie that night with his dog Pucci. My wife recently put it in this special cabinet at home. Brodie looks like he’s 12 years old in the photo now!

I told him to bring some Polaroids next time he was in town, and he did, so we sat there and talked about them. He was showing me these Polaroids he was getting while he was traveling, and I was already becoming versed in the Fine Art world. I was hearing terms like “archiving,” because of school. You know?

JB: Sure.

PS: I was like, “Archiving. OK. Acid free.” I said to him, “OK, why don’t you send me these Polaroids, and I’ll archive them and for you, and catalogue them. Because I think these things are pretty incredible.”

He and I started hanging out. He was younger than me, and I had a little more knowledge than he did at the time, so I was kind of…

JB: Big brother?

PS: Maybe A little bit. Maybe like I could help this kid, in some way, because I was pretty sure he was going to get steam-rolled pretty soon. Based on how good these things are. That’s all.

He and I became pretty fast friends, so when he came through town, he’d stay with me. I enjoyed his stories.

There were other things happening. I got in a gallery around the same time, so I was really getting into the art world. I was seeing prices, and how important art became on the secondary market. Understanding and learning the habits of collectors.

When I was thinking about the stuff that Brodie was making, I thought there was probably an opportunity for us to collaborate a little more than just hanging out as friends, and looking at photos. He had no interest in the art world whatsoever, and I did, so I thought maybe he and I could work out some sort of system.

I could help oversee things, and help ensure that they were done properly. Not butchered.

JB: It’s come across in the interview that you have a good business mind, to go along with your work ethic. But if I understand things right, the creative collaboration worked both ways.

I’m pretty sure I remember from when I first reviewed your excellent book “Dead Men Don’t Look Like Me,” that Mike Brodie is the one who first found the pictures that became your art project. Is that right?

PS: That’s exactly right. At one point, he was traveling in Georgia, and was spending time in an abandoned prison. When you’re 23, it sounds really fun to go to an abandoned prison.

He found all these mug shots, and sent them back to me, and said, “You got to look at these. They’re incredible.” And I looked at them, and I thought they WERE incredible.

I don’t know if you’ve pulled this together, but I have a real interest in vernacular photography. I think a lot of people do at this point. I’m interested in found photography, and re-contextualizing images that were never intended to be seen in certain ways.

How history can re-shape the meaning of photographs. I love all that stuff. So this was really up my alley, and he knew that, so he sent them to me in a big, beat up box. My nature is to organize and archive, so I began immediately to put them into groups and categories, to make sense of it. Because there are hundreds and hundreds of them.

I made categories: Black guys, white guys, old guys, young guys. I wanted to make some sense of what he sent me. Eventually, I edited the images to become a book with the conceptual approach that I was choosing images with likeness to myself. That in an almost Becher-esque way, you could see all the images and get a generic idea of the Author. In this case, me.

JB: It’s funny, because you keep using the word archive, and the word we haven’t used yet is appropriation. I’m constantly surprised that the idea of appropriation is still as dangerous and edgy to some people as it seems to be. You know?

Richard Prince is held up as a god and a devil, depending on which side of the fence you sit. Is that something that you were thinking about at the time, with this work? You mentioned archiving and vernacular, so that makes me think maybe it wasn’t a conscious decision on your part to say, “I’m appropriating this. I’m taking it, and making it mine.”

PS: It’s interesting. Appropriation, in my mind, has a negative connotation to it. So I think earlier, I said re-contextualizing, which is another way of saying appropriating. I archived and organized, at first. Then afterwards, when I was making the book, it certainly can be argued that yeah, I appropriated those photos for my own artistic enjoyment.

I certainly did that.

JB: Yeah, I think you’re probably right that it’s seen as a pejorative term, but the process is so well-established within the tradition of art that I almost wonder whether we’re selling the word short.

Frankly, I had a different read when I saw the pictures as over-sized prints on the wall at Pier 24 than I did with the book. I much preferred the hand-held experience.

PS: Yeah. Books and prints have very little in common. They are very distinct and separate experiences to me.

JB: That’s why I wanted to talk to you about this. Aside from the word itself, do you think that it ought to still be controversial, in 2015, when people have been doing it successfully and intelligently for decades?

PS: I personally don’t see any problems with it. It’s a response to the appropriation that happens every day on the Internet. My personal belief is that we live in a time, for better or worse, where images are made, consumed, and used by everyone at all times.

We live in a borderless, fenceless, Wild, Wild West when it comes to images online. It sounds arrogant and pompous, because it is, but my job as an artist, as a person who thinks about and consumes photography at every level, as a person who attempts to contextualize images in our culture, my job is to use images any way that I feel is responsible and appropriate

There might be repercussions from that, but that’s a world we live in now. (pause.) Now I’m thinking about what I just said. Certainly, if there’s copyright on things, that’s a legal binder to an artist and complicates this whole conversation above my pay grade and expertise.

(pause.) Hey look, can we chalk it up and say I don’t know the answer. I’m just reacting. I’m doing what I do, and I don’t necessarily know the answer to your question.

JB: I wanted your opinion, and you gave it. It’s a great opportunity to talk with someone who’s working with that practice, and doing it well. How could I not want to touch on that in the interview?

But there are other things I’d like to talk about. Let’s jump back into photobook publishing, before our brains burn out.

The most recent thing that I saw, and reviewed, by TBW is the “Assignment Number 2″ project, with the Sugimoto and Misrach photos. The book made with a prisoner who had been held in solitary confinement in San Quentin prison. I’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about this.

PS: OK.

JB: Both Rob and I thought this thing was really, really dynamite. Creative, smart, political, positive. You’ve been publishing for ten years, and now it seems like you’re in a place where you’re almost re-inventing what a photobook could be. Do you think that’s a fair statement?

PS: Well, yes. But also no, in the fact that I wish you had a copy of my first book, and it wasn’t much more than a bunch of glued together postcards. So I really have always had that idea that a photobook is not what we’re told a photobook is. How it’s experienced. The materiality of it.

A large portion of what I do with TBW are these limited editions. They’re objects in a way that’s interactive, and sculptural. I have parts that are machined by motorcycle builders. I’d like to hope that the work I’m doing with TBW is always questioning the format of books.

This particular project, “Assignment Number 2,” was just a great opportunity to explore and think about what this thing should be. It went through many different incarnations, in the design phase. That project was 3-something years in the making, and it was always talked about that it was going to be a book.

We just finally got to a point where it just was telling us it didn’t want to be a book. You’re photographing that yellow-hand-written paper against a black backdrop, so you can lay it out on a page. Then, against a white backdrop. Then, it’s against concrete, which will reference the idea of a prison cell.

Nothing’s working. It’s not feeling right. At some point you just say, “What we need to do is reprint it at scale, page for page. That’s the way it wants to be.” It needs the tactile, interactive experience, so that the person can get the sense of what this thing is.

So you come to that conclusion. It’s an organic, natural process when designing a project, where you say “OK, so if we have this yellow paper, we have 10 of them, and it looks exactly like his original paper, then how do we bind it into the hardcover book?”

It’s not enough pages. It’s not in signatures, so we can’t stitch it. We don’t want to staple the side of it.

JB: It’s a process.

PS: It’s a process and you have to trust the process. The real story is, I was going to FedEx, and I go to these really great ladies near my house, to drop off my packages. They’re these old school ladies that have this packing and shipping store. You know those stationary store type places?

JB: Sure.

PS: I went in and asked, “Anne, do you have any old clips?” Because everything in there is from the 70’s. Dead stock. I asked for clips for a binder folder, and she pulled out three different options.

So I had one of each, and one of them happened to have those old two-hole punches. So we mocked it up, and I said, “What if we just punched it two times, and put in a folder like this? Actually, that feels really good. That feels right. Let’s do that.”

Then, we’ve got into developing and aging this folder. That’s the process. I’m as excited these days about the design of these things. Coming up with those solutions.

For a lot of people, the dream is to be a photographer. You travel the world, you make photographs. And that’s it. You know this.

JB: I know this.

PS: 99% of what you do as a photographer is not photographing. The actual photographing, or working with photos, is very limited. Most of it is going to Fed Ex and trying to find the exact two hole punch.

So in the process of designing this, we wanted it to have this exterior feeling. Really grubby, dingy, worn out. And then the inside you open it up, and you have these perfect reproductions of Hiroshi Sugimoto and Richard Misrach photos.

How do you achieve that? We sampled out all these papers, and we found a manufacturer who did double-sided paper. One side uncoated, and the other with a gloss UV varnish.

That whole process: How does a viewer see this? How do they touch it? How do they open it? What’s the feeling they get when they slide it out of the package? If they open this flap first, what are they presented with?

There’s a whole process to looking at books. You know this as a reviewer. You look at them in a certain way, in a certain environment. Are you standing up, or are you sitting down? Are you drinking a beer, or are you not?

I take all these things into consideration. Who is my audience? How are they going to experience this? I love, love, love thinking about all those things.

JB: It comes across. I kind-of wanted to hear you say that stuff, because, in my experience, these things are never arbitrary. They can’t be.

PS: That’s right.

JB: When something works that well, I wanted to hear you talk about all the thought that goes into it. You must have learned quite a bit about process these last ten years, or am I assuming incorrectly?

PS: My process has never changed. Now, I’m balancing this thing where I have to run a business now. I know through your writing that you have kids too. I have a kid now.

Things change when there are real life issues that need to be dealt with, so I’ve had to make certain adjustments that I wouldn’t have made before.

It used to be, “Hey, I’m going to hand stamp all these covers, and if it takes me three weeks, all night long, I’m happy to do that.

And I thrived on that. But now, I can’t do that, because I have these other things that I have to pay attention to. I’ve had to make certain decisions, in production, and how to stream-line day-to-day business, to make it more efficient.

But I still am doing insane things that make no sense. Like hand-stamping that cover with the date, and the red tornado that you talked about.

JB: Exactly.

PS: I’m not kidding when I say I tested that hand stamper 100 times, so that I learned when I stamped it, to twist it at the same time, so that it smudged. Lester, who runs the office, said, “Why are you stamping it twice?” I said, “I think, from a design perspective, it looks more interesting if the date is there, and then also there’s this weird red smudged date. As if the person who stamped it made a mistake.”

And he just looked at me like, “If you want to stamp it twice, go ahead.”

JB: (laughing)

PS: So I was stamping it twice. Here’s the thing: the reason that I started hand stamping things is because on that first book I did, “Good by Angels” I didn’t have a budget to print a cover.

So I found a printer, and they were like, “Here’s what we’ll print for you. And if you want a 4 color cover printed, it’s this much more. If you want black and white, it’s this much more. I said, shit, I don’t have any money. So what I’m going to do is buy a rubber stamp with my title on it, and I’ll hand stamp them to save money.”

I had this book at the time, called “The Self-Publish Bible,” or something like that, and there was literally 10 commandments. One of them was, “Make sure that your title can be read from 10 feet away. Use a bright color, and bold font, so that when it’s on the shelf in the book store, people flock to it like a moth to a flame.”

I thought, this is insane. This book is not going to be in a book store, so that doesn’t apply to me whatsoever. So in an antagonistic approach, I did my cover black on black in a Old English font. You could just see it slightly reflecting in the sunlight, but I hand-stamped them all, and that became this thing that I’ve done ever since.

Each one is subtly different. Now I have the resources to print 4 color covers, and we did. On “Assignment Number 2,” all that weathered edging is printed 4 color. So all I had to do was make a stamp logo with the date, and print that on there too, and it would have eliminated me hand-stamping thousands of covers.

JB: You’re risking carpal tunnel syndrome for your creativity.

PS: (laughing) Exactly. But I was really driven to be able to provide something that was subtly unique to each person. I think it’s awesome that on the review copy you got, it looked like a tornado. Somebody else buys it, reads your review, and thinks, “Why doesn’t mine look like a tornado.” And then they say, “Oh shit, mine doesn’t look like a tornado because they’re different. Are these hand-stamped? Who on Earth would hand-stamp these? Why? What does it matter?”

Well, when you think of an institution like San Quentin prison, and you think of the office there, there’s some lady there who got the thing, and received it on July 18th and…stamped it. That’s why. You know what I’m saying? That’s why. Because that makes sense with what we’re trying to get across in that project.

I love all that stuff. I want to tell you one other thing, because I want you to understand why these things are in my head. I told you earlier that I would order records direct from record labels when I was younger.

JB: Right.

PS: I ordered a record a long time ago, and it had a white booklet with the lyrics of the song. Some photographs. And really delicately placed on the sleeve, and some of the pages, were these perfect, black fingerprints. And, I thought, “Oh my god, this is the best design ever. Somebody subtly took fingerprints, scanned them, adjusted the levels, and printed these fingerprints to reference a ghost. Or a person of the past, flipping through.

It fell in line with the aesthetic of the band. It made sense. I thought, “This is brilliant design. I love it. Super-smart. Super-subtle. Super-beautiful and poetic.”

Well, flash forward 8 years, and I was having a hard time. I was pissed off at the world, needed some cash, and sold all my records. I quickly realized that was a mistake, and went on the hunt to buy back the records that were important.

I ordered that record again, and I open it up: no fingerprints. I was totally crushed, because I realized that there wasn’t a smart designer that designed this with these fingerprints. But I was also amazed that someone had flipped through the booklet, and it got slipped back into the pile and packaged, and my record was unique in that way.

JB: Right.

PS: I thought I’d bring it up. Those nuances are so powerful, and I try to put that into the books that I make now. Whether or not anybody gets it, or cares, I don’t know.

But for me, it’s that important.

JB: Don’t they stay that about Apple? That their engineers always want the innards that nobody will ever see to be as elegant and efficient as the design is outside?

PS: I heard the story that Steve Jobs said, “This motherboard is cluttered, and has to be redone,” and someone said, “No one’s ever going to see it,” so he fired them.

JB: Urban legend.

PS: There’s a madness to it. An arrogance to it. But maybe a reason for it? I don’t know.

JB: I don’t believe these things are accidental. When people are willing to do the kinds of things that you’re talking about: take risks, stay true to themselves, meld the different parts of their personality into a holistic object, people can tell.

They might not be able to break it down in the specific way that you build it up, but it’s communicated properly, and they understand they’re looking at something powerful. Something that’s really well built.

When you break it down for the readers, you’re giving them an opportunity to think a bit about these ideas might impact their work, and their careers.

You talk about paying attention to the smallest details, and no one would know this, but our interview was briefly interrupted when my phone line went down. And I didn’t need to go back to check my email to find your phone number.

510-444-BOOK. It was embedded in my brain. Like it or not.

PS: Man, I like that!

JB: True story. And thanks so much for your time. We really appreciate it.

Above door entering TBW Books offices, Oakland Ca.

Above door entering TBW Books offices, Oakland Ca.

Packing station,TBW Books, Oakland Ca.

Packing station,TBW Books, Oakland Ca.

Detail of Subscription Series #4, TBW Books

Detail of Subscription Series #4, TBW Books

Detail of wall above packing station, TBW Books, Oakland Ca.

Detail of wall above packing station, TBW Books, Oakland Ca.

TBW Books product

TBW Books product

http://www.tbwbooks.com/books/ASSIGNMENT-NO-2

http://www.tbwbooks.com/books/DEAD-MEN-DONT-LOOK-LIKE-ME

 

Categories: Business

The Daily Edit – Jeffery Cross: AFAR

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 9:37am

 Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 3.47.51 PM

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 4.59.15 PM

 

AFAR

Creative Director: Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson
Director of Photography: Tara Guertin
Photographer: Jeffery Cross

Heidi: Where did you get all that candy?
Jeffery: AFAR’s art department collected iconic and oddball candy (from staff members who had traveled recently, from online sources, and from local shops), based on visually interesting packaging, as well as geographic range. The Mix department runs in the magazine in every issue, and always tackles one object, from all around the world. The candy came from Sweden, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Japan, Colombia, Iceland, and beyond.

What is your process for setting up those graphic shots?
AFAR’s art director Jason Seldon mocked up the candy in the San Francisco office before we shot it in my Oakland studio. The products were all bright, colorful, and pop-y, and Jason wanted to play up that aspect. He’d also wanted to use that crazy pink background for some time, and this seemed like a good opportunity to do so. First step was to level the set and camera, waned the shot to be as rectilinear as possible. To help with the arduous task of getting the candy lined up in some sort of grid two we employed two special pieces of equipment: the first being a laser square…always fun to play with lasers, and the second being a 24” x 36” vacuum easel, this gave us a totally flat surface and held each piece of candy in place…magic!..The only downside was the noise. A vacuum easel should come with a great stereo… or noise canceling headphones.

How many options did you have and how long did it take to set up that spread?
For this spread we took the slow and steady approach to end up with one version built piece by piece, evaluate then modified until it looks finished. According to the metadata the shoot took aprox 4hrs from start to finish.

Did you try any of the candy?
We did! Unfortunately… I tried almost all the candy. It was all good in its own way. It was cool to see how each country approaches its sweets, all super different than our candy here in the states. Lucky for me that there were two families with children on my loading dock after the shoot… Being the stranger with the candy I doled out as much of the candy as they would take. The kids went crazy over the McCraw’s Taffy… its crazy big.

How big was that piece of candy for the opener?
McCraw’s taffy, which is made in Denver, comes in nearly foot-long strips, and has been in production since 1908! I am sure it would have other practical uses much like duct tape. It’s a fun product

Categories: Business

The Daily Promo – Cody James

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 9:45am
2015 Up In The Air Zine

2015 Up In The Air Zine

2015 Up In The Air Zine

2015 Up In The Air Zine

2015 Up In The Air Zine

2015 Up In The Air Zine

2015 Up In The Air Zine

2015 Up In The Air Zine

Cody James


Who printed it?
QIS in Lower Manhattan.

Who designed it?
I designed the zine.

Who edited the images?
I designed the zine and edited the photos with the help of the creative eyes of a few friends.

How many did you make?
30

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This was my time making a zine like this. I am going to start making zines every few months. It’s great to see this process through and hold the finished product in your hands.

I was in Alaska last July and had the opportunity to trade photos for a flight with some local pilots. I’ve always had a huge interest in flight, nature, and storytelling. I feel like this was a great chance to combine all of these elements and put the content into a cohesive story. I’ve been wanting to make more physical objects of my work, and I chose to start with of some of my favorite photographs to date.

Did you add any text to the images/captions?
I didn’t add any text or captions to the images. I opened the zine with a quote by Socrates and let the images do the rest of the story telling. The quote was : “Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.”

 

Categories: Business

This Week In Photography Books: Lindsay Morris

Fri, 05/15/2015 - 10:01am

by Jonathan Blaustein

My daughter is a spitfire. A wild-cat. A force of nature. She is genuinely fierce, and has tried to kick me in the face more times than I can count. (Luckily, I’m quick enough to dodge, and of course, she isn’t trying to hurt me. But she did tag my wife just last night.)

She also loves the color pink, and wears her Elsa-themed Disney princess dress as often as we’ll allow it. I’ve seen her in a tiara, and it’s cuter than a waterskiing squirrel. But she won’t let us put her hair in pig-tails.

Ever.

Honestly, like many a hetero-guy, I was frightened of having a daughter. I imagined future scenarios with boys at the door, waiting to take her out on the town. I was one of those boys, years ago. Their minds are not very complex, I’m afraid.

Once she was born, though, I realized that you take each day as it comes. We’re not yet 3 years in, and I’m eternally grateful that she wasn’t a boy, as it’s expanded my world immeasurably, learning to live with this head-strong, moody, gorgeous little blue-eyed girl.

And, on several occasions, I’ve wondered whether she’ll be interested in those boys that come to the door, or if she’ll prefer girls instead. I don’t mean to shock here. If I had to guess, I’d suspect she’s straight, like her brother and her parents.

But it’s 2015, and thankfully, most of us are comfortable with the idea of gender mutability and homosexuality. It’s cool with me that my little girl likes to wrestle and fight, in addition to playing with her dolls.

Who am I to judge?

It’s ironic, tragic, and a bit thrilling that we live in a country, and a world, that offers unprecedented rights for LGBT people, while concurrently, hordes still try to restrict their freedoms. It’s so of-the-moment to watch things evolve this quickly. (#YOLO)

Hell, I wrote a story for Lens in March, in which I profiled an artist who’d photographed Hijras in Bangladesh. Those are men who gender identify as women, and occupy a stratified position in the Muslim society. The article’s text was slightly amended, after a qualified commenter claimed I’d used improper gender nomenclature in my explication.

It doesn’t get more real time than that.

I’m always interested in the way photographers show us things we haven’t seen. Things that are relevant to the here and now. So it was inevitable that I’d want to review “You Are You,” a new monograph by Lindsay Morris, recently published by Keher Verlag in Germany.

And so I shall.

The key to the book sits on the cover, but I didn’t notice, as I opened it rather quickly. The first photos give the sense of a camp environment, but not much more. Picnic tables around a campfire. Lush green vegetation. An archery target affixed to a tree.

Then, after the title page, we’re treated to a visceral, and not-too-long poem by Victoria Redel, that describes a young boy with the courage to publicly acknowledge his love of glitter, and other “girly” things. It was a moving piece of writing, and then the next page, (the cover image I’d skipped past) shows what appears to be a short-haired boy, with a flower in his hair, frolicking with a gaggle of girls.

OK. I get it now. This is not just any summer camp. Interesting things are happening here, and I want to know more.

In each subsequent photo, I found myself scouring the images more carefully. Is that a boy? Could it be? What’s going on here? What’s the deal?

The pictures are uniformly well-made, and the sense of joy and play leaps off the page. I’ve been not-so-patiently awaiting summer, and this book made me want to bellow at the gods to make the good weather come that much sooner. (Or at least bellow at the fuzzy bunny staring at me, just outside the window, in case he has a direct line to Mother Nature. Make it warm, little bunny. Make it warm.)

There is a fair bit of text at the end of the book that gives us the context we’ve mostly guessed at. Ms. Morris spent several years visiting, and photographing, at Camp You Are You, which takes place over a weekend every summer. It allows “gender-nonconforming children and their families” a space to hang out together, play, and explore their identities collectively.

The end section features resources for people wanting more specific info, several essays, and testimonials directly from some of the parents. It’s a photo-book with the heart of a instructional pamphlet. Or maybe it’s both.

People like us, we’re the target market for this sort of publication. Open-minded, liberal, supportive. I’m sure some of you might break that stereotype, but creatives in general tend not to be small-minded homophobic racists. So this book might well be for you.

Personally, I’d be more curious to see the expression on someone’s face, someone who believes in denying others the freedom to be themselves. What might they say, while flipping through these pages? How much evidence of joy would it take to set them off, to fire up their anger? How many kids would they rather see cooped up inside an oppressive box?

Bottom Line: Excellent, positive, life-affirming look at a summer camp for gender-nonconforming children

To Purchase “You Are You” Visit Photo-Eye

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Categories: Business

The Art of the Personal Project: Callie Lipkin

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 9:51am

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: Callie Lipkin

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How long have you been shooting?
20 years
 
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Both – I studied art at Northwestern University and then at the University of Minnesota, but my training really comes from my years as a full time photojournalist. I always loved the storytelling aspect of photography so I was shooting documentary work at ‘art school’ but it was not incredibly well received. I was shooting long term projects on things like people with Huntington’s Disease and children diagnosed with ADD and that was not seen as much as an art form back then. My work was more warmly welcomed in the photojournalism world.
 
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it? 
I was inspired completely by the environment. I had driven by the barbershop a couple of times and decided to ask about doing a shoot there. I was just coming off of some more heavily produced tests and wanted to go in a totally different direction with a more traditional documentary approach which is more like the work I did when I first started as a photographer.
 
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
Some projects I have worked on for years, or months. This one in particular I shot in a matter of hours. Every project is different that way. Sometimes it’s good for me to do something without thinking about it at all. It’s a good creative exercise, which I enjoy. I developed the concept for the magazine mailer after shooting this project in order to have a fitting format to showcase how the pictures all work together.
 
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working? 
I usually know in an hour or two if something is not working. But I think the nature of my work is to keep pushing to solve a problem. I can’t remember shooting a project that went entirely into the scrap heap, at least not right away, but some might not be as developed as they need to be for a 12 or 16 page mailer. They all find their place somewhere – maybe on my website or blog, or in a treatment statement if it’s subject matter that applies to a particular proposal.
 
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Most of my work originates from personal projects since they are the place to try something new without any fear of failure. They almost have to be different from my existing work in order to continue to grow my personal style. Client work usually references personal work and is a place to perfect and fine tune what I started on my own time. I feel lucky that many of my commercial jobs come from clients seeing my personal projects, getting inspired, and wanting to use that inspiration as a jumping off point for their brand imagery.
 
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yes. Since we don’t get permission to post client work on social media all the time, personal projects are incredibly important to share in this way. It’s also a really great way to get instant feedback when I am working on or editing a project to gauge which images are connecting with people the way they are connecting with me.
 
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
I have had some press for my series of burlesque projects that spanned several years. If my work reaches people in my network and they feel moved or inspired by it in some way I am satisfied. If it reaches beyond that, it’s gravy.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes. I send out a publication titled Vault to current and prospective clients at least twice a year. I try to include some copy that gives the story or subject matter some context and it usually features a personal project. I got a great response to the printed piece for this collection from the Belmont Barbershop.
 
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Callie Lipkin is an authentic photographer. A look through her lens reveals a simple organic moment between photographer and subject. 20 years of shooting has given her a truthful eye, her images unfolding like the story of her subject revealing themselves a little more shot by shot. 

While an undergrad at Northwestern University, a fortuitous trip to China opened Callie’s eyes and her focus from a career in engineering to one in professional photography. Post graduation, Callie started her photography career in journalism, interning and working for several newspapers including the Beacon  News in Aurora and the prestigious Boston Globe where she worked side by side with POY and Pulitzer Prize winning photographers. In 2001, she found the newspaper business on shaky ground and decided to pursue a freelance career. Today, Callie has a long list of clients who benefit not only by the beautiful quality of her photos, but also from her passion and desire to get the best possible shot. Callie is known to set up a shot with a goal in mind then allow the process and interaction between the subjects to give it depth and character. 

“I like the problem solving aspect of photography, not knowing how we are going to execute something exactly, but giving it room to breathe and grow. The most interesting looking images I take are that way because they came about naturally, it’s a connection between who I’m shooting and their surroundings. I feel like there is the opportunity to learn something about the world, or about myself, almost every time I interact with someone new.” 

Callie’s been successful in her photographic style, winning several awards including 1st Place from AltPick in 2009 and having her 2014 Whirlpool campaign featured in Archive Magazine.  Callie lives in Chicago with her husband and their two sons, her greatest inspiration and favorite subjects. When Callie’s not shooting photographs she’s spending time with her family, playing piano (in which she is classically trained), running, and honing her cooking skills by creating healthy meals with her boys.  She is also available in her hometown of Minneapolis as a local and for travel worldwide.


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

Categories: Business

2015 ICP Infinity Awards: Larry Fink

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 10:14am

Wow. Just Wow.

Larry Fink has spent over 40 years photographing jazz musicians, wealthy manhattanites, his neighbors, fashion models, and the celebrity elite. His archive is a thoughtful collection of American history, and Fink’s experience of it. See the project at http://mediastorm.com/clients/2015-icp-infinity-awards-art-larry-fink

Categories: Business

The Daily Edit – Emiliano Granado: T Magazine and Manual for Speed

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 10:13am

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T Magazine

Photo Director: Nadia Vellam
Photo Editor: Caroline Hirsch
Photographer: Emiliano Granado

You can read the T Magazine article here

Heidi: I know this was your first time shooting with T Mag, how was it they had you on their radar? Had you been sending promos?
Emiliano: To be honest, I don’t know! I do send them promos, but I don’t think I was sending Caroline promos.

What were you doing in Argentina already? Do you often send notes to clients if you are traveling internationally
I was shooting a commercial job for 72andSunny. If I foresee having an extra day or two, I will definitely send a travel notice. Luckily, I’ve been busy enough lately that I don’t really have too many extra days.

What sort of direction did you get from the magazine?
They wanted photos of the artist at her studio and at her home. Details of both place and portraits of her in both places.

 Manual for Speed

ARG/USA- Founder, Director of Photography, Social Media: Emiliano Granado

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USA – Founder, Photographer, Writer: Daniel Wakefield Pasley

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Tell us about Manual for Speed’s Photo Annual, I know Manual for Speed started out as a personal project and PND covered your story last year.
The photo annual is a big deal for us! We’re finally putting digital pixels into the analog world, and it makes it feel real, all of a sudden. For the last four years, it’s felt like a digital side project. But it’s starting to feel more and more like a media property. We’re collaborating with artists, with designers, etc. We’re taking retail sales seriously. We’ve got plans for more printed material. It’s just getting bigger and bigger.

With that said, personal projects are great forms of marketing. And self-publishing is a great way to get those projects out. The most memorable images of my career are from projects that were self-initiated or where I invested more than the necessary to complete the job. If you can create emotional connections with your images, people will notice you. When things are slow, you have to create work for yourself. If you’re not constantly creating work, then you’re failing.

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When you first started doing MFS as a daily. What was the hardest aspect of publishing MFS?
Just the logistics of posting every day is gnarly. Photo edit, words, structure, quality, spelling errors. All that becomes gargantuan tasks when you’ve been running around all day and you have to wake up early the next morning.

Did you simply figure it out how to produce MFS as you went along ( publishing daily ) or did you have any prior experience?
Definitely no experience! We got a ‘publisher’ that receives all the images and words and puts it together neatly and creatively. That was by far the best thing we did.

Describe that moment when you realized this was about to get real.
There was never ONE absolute breakthrough moment. Instead, many small ones. A certain pro rider would tweet at us. They’d give us their personal phone number to get a hold of them. We’d get offers from strangers to sleep at their homes. We’d get recognized by strangers at races. People would send us loving emails out of the blue. Traffic would spike. Sales would spike. Major media people would say what a great job we’re doing, etc etc. Lots of little victories here and there.

What do you think was the single most important aspect to MFS’s success and what type of advice can you share for others wanting to pursue a personal project?
MFS has a unique voice. No one else is doing anything similar. A personal project should be exactly that – personal. Make it yours. Own it. Don’t do what you think the world wants to see. Just do you.

MFS’s coverage of the 2013 Giro d’italia drew your biggest traffic numbers to date and was the first time you guys started getting more mainstream attention. Were you surprised how much traction you got?
Yes. We had been doing MFS for a few years already and it wasn’t getting the attention we thought it should. The Giro was definitely the first big POP.

Had you ever published content on a daily basis? I gained a new found respect for daily online content. ( I had recently worked for Red Bull’s Sound Select division on  30 days in LA  and got up at 5:00 am for a month to edit and post, it was tremendously rewarding and relentless )
As I write this, I’m in a hotel room with two other MFS guys. We’re editing photos and concepting ideas and figuring out how best to execute tomorrows post. We won’t be done for a few hours. And then we’ll tweak the post in the morning while we’re in the car chasing the race around. It’s grueling and gnarly to publish daily. It is extremely rewarding though.

Where does your love of riding come from and how often do you ride?
It started as a means of transportation, but turned into an athletic endeavor. Riding is incredibly rewarding – you put in a physical effort and all of a sudden you’re going 25-30mph on two wheels. Its a great feeling. You can go as fast or as slow as you want, but it’s always fun to watch the landscape roll by. Unfortunately, I don’t have that much time to ride anymore. I commute everywhere on bike, but I’ve only been going on longer rides once a week if I’m lucky.


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How did the merchandising come about? Are you enjoying any success with it?
Merchandise was always a way to help pay the bills. Recently, we’re approaching merchandise as “retail as content.” That means everything we make has to be original artwork, thought out ideas, and it has to deliver on MFS’ worldview somehow. Slapping a logo on a tshirt is bullshit. We don’t want to make bullshit.

Aside from the photo annual, what’s next for MFS?
We’d like to continue publishing books. Smaller typology studies. Maybe some newsprint editions. Definitely a Photo Annual for 2015. More merchandise – lots of original jerseys and apparel coming this summer. Print sales. Interesting media partnerships with non-cycling media, etc.

For those of us with some serious bike lust, check this out, custom bikes
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Categories: Business

The Daily Promo – Stephen Rose

Mon, 05/11/2015 - 10:06am

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Who printed it?
The zine was printed by Shapco in Minnesota.

Who designed it?
I designed it and had some (mostly production) help from my friend Seth Zucker who is a really talented designer. He works on a lot of interesting art books and publishes some of his own under the name The Kingsboro Press.

Who edited it?
I edited the images.

How many did you make?
I made 500

How often to you send out promos?
This was never intended to be a promo piece. I made it in conjunction with an exhibition I had last year of the same name. It was a site specific show at a midcentury modern furniture gallery called Regeneration. The idea is that the obsessive nature of collecting devolves into a kind of sexual obsession.

I sent some out to art galleries and art magazines but never really thought about using it as a promo until recently. I thought at the very least it’s going to stand out!! Not your typical beautifully lit promo I guess.

 

Categories: Business

This Week In Photography Books: Ken Schles

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 10:04am

by Jonathan Blaustein

Some people party for fun. Others do it out of habit. Still others because it distracts from deep sorrow. Until they wake up the next day, with yet more to forget. (And more rotgut to swill.)

I don’t binge drink anymore. I don’t feel nostalgic for lost evenings stumbling around cities, the dark world vibrating before my eyes. I remember the feeling well, though, like a phantom limb.

But I don’t miss it.

At first, it was fun, as I was a “good boy” who never had the chance to rebel, as a youth. By the time I got around to it, I gave it my all, vomiting with regularity. Fighting too. And yelling. But it never turned me into the lothario I craved to be.

Realistically, I wouldn’t be the me I am today had I not made my share of mistakes. And I certainly had some good times. It’s a phase, for most of us, and then we grow out of it.

Like the 80’s.

I suppose the 70’s might quibble, but I think the 80’s were the most phase-like decade ever. Everyone was happy when it was over.

The end of the Disco era saw a New York awash in drugs, sex, and the diseases they spawned. Mostly AIDS, of course. But the city had not-yet-recovered from the dank 70’s, so it still appeared a ruin, in many ways. Pre-Internet, Pre-Guiliani, it really was Gotham.

I picked up on bits of the vibe, through the evening news, and on occasional trips into NYC with my folks, to catch a Broadway play or a baseball game. (That’s what the Bridge and Tunnel folks did.)

But my take is only tangential. Occasionally, you’ve got to go to the source to see, feel, or know what went down, all those years ago. Thankfully, we can do just that.

“Invisible City,” by Ken Schles, is a photo-book I’ve heard of many times, but never seen. Frankly, I didn’t have a clue what it was about. But it’s been re-released by Steidl, so now we all have the chance to flip through a touch-stone of the 80’s, New York City style.

The book doesn’t tell you it’s New York, and it doesn’t have to. The night time, the grime, the Brooklyn Bridge, they all conspire to let us know where we are. The decay of the city, the fashion, give us the time period. (As do the end notes, which inform us the book was originally released in 1988, designed by New Mexico’s own Jack Woody.)

At first, I was thrown, because the pictures are not uniformly excellent. They’re not the kind of photographs that make you envious of the artist’s talent.

The effect is more cumulative, as it should be, in a good book. Picture after picture is blurry. Grainy. The camera was constantly in motion, which is a damn good structural metaphor for a city that never sleeps. There is graffiti, and street lights, and a baby carriage standing, alone, in a creepy hallway.

Cafe Bustelo shows up twice, which proves these guys were keeping it real.

We see lots of drinking, but none of it emblematic of joy. It’s more the addiction variety, with women half-passed out on the toilet, or cross-eyed drunk in a restaurant. We sense a bohemian scene, not unlike Nan Goldin’s friends, but here it never coalesces into a redundant vision.

Motion, always motion.

There is a picture of two people copulating like animals in a ramshackle courtyard that was perfectly set up by a picture of pretty flowers overlooking a similar space. There are boobs, of course, because Boobs Sell Books℠.

Overall, we enter a space in time, and then we leave. I looked at it again, as soon as I was done, just to double-check that the world was there waiting for me, while the cover was closed.

There are excerpts from the kind of writers that give pictures like this high-level-intellectual-street-cred: Kafka, Baudrillard, Orwell. They were helpful and appropriate pieces of writing, but masked an important reality. Ideas, words, often take priority in a certain kind of art: the kind that alienates, and claims the high ground.

Pictures like this, though, speak to the gut. They isolate time from itself, which needs little philosophical underpinning. But I guess, if you’re going to make a classic book, backing up your ideas with heavyweights is never a bad call. (Duly noted.)

Bottom Line: A re-issued classic, straight outta the NYC 80’s

To Purchase “Invisible City” Visit Photo-Eye

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Categories: Business

The Art of the Personal Project: Spencer Selvidge

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 9:52am

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: Spencer Selvidge

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9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

How long have you been shooting?
I started around the age of 4. My Mom got me a toy camera that took the most awful photos. What you saw was not what you got.

When I was 19, I started to approach photography from a professional perspective rather than something I did while camping in Boy Scouts. For more than 10 years now, I’ve been making my living as a visual storyteller.  

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
It was a little bit of everything. I am self-taught on the technical side. Then some mentors in college guided me through basic photojournalism and I started to tell visual stories.

After college, I traveled to expand my portfolio and began probing with my photography to explore sense of place and controlling chaos with composition. Then a brief stint at a portrait studio proved not to be the path for me, so I went to graduate school for photojournalism to build a network and focus on how to approach my work.

The program was very much “build your own path.” I studied under three exceptional photo professors: Dennis Darling, Donna DeCesare, and Eli Reed. They couldn’t have been more different from one another: the lifetime artist, the consummate thinker, and the restless soul, respectively. But they are each passionately heartfelt and uncompromising documentarians. Without them, I wouldn’t have continually pushed further with this Texas 9-Pin project. They encouraged me to grasp the mental and personal aspects of photography in a deeper way, and it’s made all the difference in my success as a professional.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Texas 9-Pin began as an off-the-cuff mention from a professor in graduate school. I spent my first night at the Blanco Bowling Club and Café meeting a few of the regulars and making images for a class. I felt at home there immediately, and was encouraged by the warmth of a few bowlers. I love connecting with people while making images and this was the perfect situation for that. They reminded me of my grandparents: Americans of primarily German descent who were avid bowlers.

When this project came to me, I didn’t expect it to connect me with my family’s history. The sounds, smells, and family atmosphere pulled me in, reminding me of how present both bowling and photography were in my childhood. The inspiration to keep shooting grew with each visit.

Shooting “polaroids” is what elevated the whole project for me. It did two things: 1) The photos drew the subjects to come physically closer and open up to me. It allowed them to feel a part of the project because the photos existed in the analog world, not digitally. The nostalgia outweighed the fact that I was an outsider likely going to put them on the Internet. And 2) They brought the Texas 9-Pin project full circle from a class assignment initially to something deeply personal.

The story was about the collision of tradition and modernity, growth and change, age, etc. It was everything I was looking for. It stirred me emotionally in ways I only began to understand a year into covering it, when I finally started shooting with my Grandpa’s Polaroid cameras, a Land Camera 250. I hadn’t fully appreciated how my grandparents’ decades bowling and my Grandpa Herb’s cameras related to my love for people and social issues. The people I was connecting most strongly with, the older generations, gave me great perspective on just how much history our elders take with them.  They became living symbols of my grandparent’s love for bowling, something I had never experienced with them as an adult. And there I was documenting it with my own brand of photojournalism-styled snapshots with the very camera Grandpa used to document his family. Though he passed several years ago, it felt like I was creating new memories with him. The last 6 months became a torrent of peel-apart film.

Now, two and a half years since I was last shooting there, I think the project worked so well because it connected those mental and personal aspects of photography. It was a slice of my family’s past mixed with the social issue of modernity conflicting with tradition.

And the cheap beer from a fantastic local brewer in Blanco didn’t hurt either.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I spent a little over a year and a half on it until I felt like the project was ready… and I worked on it so long that it supplanted my original thesis idea and became my final report for my graduate degree. I’d love to do more someday. I think there’s a bigger story here.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I generally know within a few outings if a project is something I want to pursue. If it is working for me, a project will start to keep me awake at night. I am always competing with myself, thinking about how I will top the previous “best shot” or push myself further.

With Texas 9-Pin though, I knew it was special the first night but it took me nearly a year to start shooting with the Land Camera and the Fuji peel-apart film.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I actively try to make my personal work different and push my boundaries because being stagnant doesn’t lead to anything new or better. But, when it comes down to it, I feel like I am always just shooting to satisfy myself when I am working on a personal project.  It just so happens that I am rarely satisfied with individual outings or images so I push myself into new places. I think the work benefits from my internal competitive drive.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I have never made much effort to put my personal projects out on my social media pages. But, over the last few months I have become very aware that I can build audiences for my work and for the things I care about. Just last week I started organizing stories and images to start sharing regularly.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press? Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Never. I send the occasional email or update but I know I am too timid about self-promotion in general.

BIO
Spencer Selvidge is a freelance photojournalist based in Austin, Texas, who specializes in visual storytelling with sound, video and stills. A native of St. Louis, MO, he took his first photos at the age of 4 and spent many weekends throughout his childhood selling newspapers for the family business and taking pictures in Boy Scouts.

He is originally a self-taught photographer and first cultivated his skills while earning his degree in biology at Texas A&M University. A while later, Spencer returned to school and completed a masters degree in photojournalism at the University of Texas at Austin. He has traveled extensively with the aim to explore cultures and issues around the world as well as at home. Spencer is enthralled with and devoted to respectfully and ethically capturing the individual essence of his subjects and stories – especially when he can shed light on and help create awareness about important issues.

ARTIST STATEMENT
Texas 9-Pin Bowling — Like photography, bowling had been a regular family event when I was growing up, and the sounds of pins crashing, the smell of the diner food, the patina of years of Texas heat and cigarette smoke, as well as the family atmosphere, pulled me in to this project.

Documenting the survival of this cultural oddity known as bowling, was important to Texas and bowling history as well as my own personal connections to my family.

Ninepin bowling was originally an outdoor game brought by European settlers to the United States but largely outlawed by the 1930s. Today, a version of it survives as a cultural relic in the small German-heritage enclaves of Central Texas thanks to tradition and family values. In most of the country, bowling alleys were places filled with men drinking and gambling, so states and counties outlawed it wholesale. The crime term, “Kingpin,” is one of ninepin’s lasting legacies, and is derived from the special middle pin used in the ninepin game. This is why the ten-pinned game most Americans play today exists, to skirt laws that banned the previous version of the game–but not in small Central Texas towns.

Here, the game was never outlawed because it was a team sport, unlike its newer cousin, that was often a post-church or after-dinner family affair in small towns. Texas’ version of ninepin bowling, still played in similar forms in New England and internationally, has 17 or 18 alleys spread over four mostly rural counties in Texas’ Hill Country.

The Blanco Bowling Club has survived decades of declining membership and annual shoestring budgets, and faces real challenges to maintain relevance in an ever-evolving world of technology, activities, entertainment and, sometimes, economic uncertainty. The club, and to some extent the town itself, is and has been under a quiet assault from the modern world for decades while some residents do their best to hold on to what was and hope for a future that includes old traditions.

You can read my master’s report here, to see more and learn about how ninepin is different, the 2000+ year history of bowling and why ninepin has managed to survive in Central Texas.


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

Categories: Business

Licensing Images In Perpetuity Is A Huge Mistake

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:08am

A reader sent me the following email:

I don’t mean to sound critical of your efforts to inform young photographers of proper business practices by publishing estimates like this one: http://aphotoeditor.com/2015/04/22/pricing-negotiating-studio-portraits-for-a-pharmaceutical-manufacturer/. It’s an important and useful service but, for the sake of myself and my fellow photographers who have to fight the tendency of clients to want more and more rights for less and less money, I have to point out that the licensing of these images in perpetuity without additional fees is a huge mistake and a terrible precedent to set. I have photographed numerous jobs very similar to the one you describe below. My terms, which I have negotiated without the benefit of a rep usually include significant fees to for re-use after one or two years. I am often able to double my fees this way and have not received resistance to that from pharma agencies despite the supposedly humble nature of a very profitable area of business.

This estimate, which gives a lot of rights away for nothing, may well make your photographers popular. Unfortunately, they will probably never own a home, send their kids to college, have decent medical care, or be able to ever retire – some pretty basic expectations, I think. Most responsible reps would agree that one has to make an concerted effort not to give away too much too easily, even in this ultra competitive environment. We have no union to protect us, just common business sense. Giving rights in perpetuity away for free is sort of like “feeding the animals” – they come to expect it.

Here’s an estimate from a similar type of shoot that was three day video and still shoot with a pre-light day.My producer and I planned the shoot out very carefully, provided the client with a lot of great still and video images, and we all worked our asses off for four long days. Most importantly you will also see that I made an additional $14,600 two years after that shoot. That was for another two years of usage and I am eligible to be paid again at the end of those two years. I think that the Wonderful Machine estimate is doing a real disservice to photographers by suggesting that it is fair and necessary to give such broad usage rights away for so little.

I hope this is helpful to you and our fellow photographers. I don’t consider myself a tough negotiator but I estimated this without the benefit of a rep. Any rep will tell you that a certain amount of intelligently applied resistance to client’s pricing pressure is the only way to stay in business. I realize that the photographer described by Wonderful Machine is “up and coming” but that degree of lowballing is terribly shortsighted and even desperate feeling. His fees are way too low when you consider the amount of time and talent required, the associated expenses and responsibilities, and the amount of usage by the pharma industry.

Neat Receipt-$3,400.00 Cash Transportation

Neat Receipt-$14.60 Cash Utilities

Categories: Business

The Daily Edit – Celebrity Impersonators: John Hryniuk

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 9:58am

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John Hryniuk: Celebrity Impersonators

Heidi: Where did this idea come from considering you don’t live near Hollywood?
John: The idea of photographing impersonators came from doing one on one portraits with real celebrities at the Toronto International Film Festival. Unfortunately you get about 3 minutes in a boring hotel room. You can’t really be very creative in that amount of time.

How much time do you typically get with them?
About five years ago I though it would be really interesting to photograph impersonators because they give you all the time you need. I thought if I had the real person in front of me how would I photograph them? The other great thing with impersonators is there usually are no cranky egos to deal with. They are pretty much willing to do anything you’d like except something that would portray the celebrity they’re impersonating in a bad light.

Are you shooting these while on other jobs?
No, every year I take time off to travel and shoot the projects I want to work on. There isn’t any pressure or expectations from art directors or clients. Its about having fun. I call it a working vacation. I discovered its really important as a professional photographer to work on your own personal projects. You have to make the time to shoot things for yourself otherwise you will burn out.

How do you choose the characters and where do you find them?
In terms of casting its easiest to attend their yearly conventions in Las Vegas and Florida etc. I usually choose the most realistic looking ones, here some of the places I’ve found people.

The Annual Celebrity Impersonators Convention Las Vegas , on linkedin,  you tube, another convention in Las Vegas

How long has this series been in play?
The series is still an ongoing project. I think I will probably search out individuals and attend a few more meetings before it will be complete. The impersonators all do this part time or full time for a living. Which makes it even more interesting for me. I don’t only love photographing people but also finding out all about them when I do. There is also something about photographing in the United States that find unique than any other place in the world. The culture lends itself well to this kind of project. It is very different from Toronto, Canada where I live as its much more conservative.

A few times while working on this project I felt like I was on a TV reality show. I asked the boy who was impersonating Elvis why he was doing it he hesitated for a moment and responded: “ Because my mom made me. “

Categories: Business

The Daily Promo: Elizabeth Weinberg

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 9:44am

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Who printed it?
Smartpress in Chanhassen, MN. I have used them for several years.

Who designed it?
Me!

Who edited the images?
Me!

How many did you make?
650.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I do at least one large mailer per year and fill in the gaps with some postcards.

 Tell me about your design process
At first the cover was just going to be just white with the title and no photo, as I always have a hard time editing for that one cover shot. I got the plain-covered hard proof back and then decided to instead use a photograph that would look good very cropped in. In the photo, the boy’s hair is flying, giving the viewer a sense of movement, but leaves the rest open to interpretation. It’s all about making the person holding the book want to open it up.

Once the images were laid out, I felt it looked a bit too plain, so I added a geometric element to guide the eye through each page. Each section of the booklet has its own line, and each line was a color that I decided would best represent the series of images. The different colored lines were all aligned chronologically on the first page of the book, sort of like a symbolic table of contents.

 

Categories: Business

This Week In Photography Books: Christopher Williams

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 10:39am

by Jonathan Blaustein

The strangest thing happened to me yesterday. I was chatting with a neighbor while photographing his Apache sweat lodge. (Long story.) We’d met for the first time the day before, so I was making small talk about our little valley.

I asked him if he’d seen the pair of golden eagles that lived around here, and often roosted in the tall cottonwoods near the stream.

He said he had no idea there were a pair of golden eagles around here. His tone was dubious. Then he mentioned that there WERE a couple of red-tailed hawks living in the canyon, but of course that was something else entirely.

It was the third time in as many weeks that someone had told me my eagles were hawks. The first two times, I shrugged it of as misinformation. But yesterday? I realized I might have been the one mistaken.

So I ran home and hit up my trusty friend Google. My heart sank. My favorite birds, the one’s from whom I’d learned so much, were not eagles… but hawks.

Should it matter?

The birds are no less beautiful. Or majestic. Their hunting prowess no flimsier, nor their stupefying ability to soar through the air without seeming to move at all.

So what was the problem? In my mind, they were eagles: rarer and more special than common hawks. I identified with them as being the kings of the sky. That they lived in my yard made me feel special. I told many people about my eagles.

But they were never eagles. At least, not outside my own mind. They nested inside my expectations, and laid eggs that gave me courage and confidence.

And now?

Now, I have to get over myself. I’m still freakishly lucky to live in a place where I get to watch red-tailed hawks circle over my yard on a near-daily basis. The fact that I’m even conflicted about this says quite a bit about my ridiculous character.

But expectations are powerful things, even if they don’t have a tangible presence. Take books, for example. We “expect” them to make sense. To tell a story. To inform us of their meaning, at some point, before we cease to flip the pages.

That’s their job. To tell us stuff, either in pictures, words, or both.

But what if you found a book that absolutely refused to bow to convention? That reveled in fucking with your head, while simultaneously depicting a set of images made during an artist’s career?

What would you think about that?

I’m glad you asked. Because I just finished looking at a red monograph of work by the conceptual photography/art star Christopher Williams, and I’m still scratching my head.

I knew it was his book, because photo-eye had affixed a tag that said Christopher Williams, printed in Germany, $120. That’s all I got, even after looking at the whole book. (Though the “Printed in Germany” did appear at the end of the book too, on an insert, which was a tad reassuring. That they knew how to print words at all, that is.)

I would have figured out it was his book, had I not known, because I’ve seen some of his seminal images before. They’re always inscrutable. Pictures of cameras, deconstructed. Cars, tipped like cows in a pasture. Models, obviously on set, with color bars in the frame. Corn in the husk.

I’ve read a bit about him in the past, and know there are strong motivations behind the work. Big ideas. Political, even. But you’re never going to suss that out just by looking at the pictures. I’m a bright guy, and I wouldn’t even know where to start.

But start I did, and the first handful of pages in the book are red. Like, red red. Bright red. Cherry red. Coca Cola red.

There’s no name on the cover. When you finally find a photo, on a white page, it’s a piece of yellow foam wrapped into a sculptural form. The kind you might put upon your child’s bed to make it softer. (My son was praising his yellow-bed-foam just yesterday, coincidentally.)

That picture repeats later. As do others. There are seemingly African workers in front of a Heidelberg printing press. Some images, of apples, run off the page, and reference the printing process. That, I can say with confidence.

There is one picture of boobs, that repeats, because, as we all know, Boobs Sell Books℠.

Random repeating images. Lots and lots of red pages. No words. Pictures that are odd, and perhaps discomfiting. Maybe a little hypnotic. But they give you nothing concrete.

It’s like the whole book is the spawn of a mad scientist who had sex with a bespectacled artist. It only makes you angry if you think you’re supposed to get it.

But what if you don’t try to get it? What if there’s nothing to get? The world is a messy place, as I wrote last week. Logic and reason exist, but so do chaos and terror. Money rules the day, and it always has. (Though it might have taken the form of salt, gold, oil or jewels.)

When I was done, I practically chuckled at the chutzpah it takes to make a book with no words. There’s even an insert at the end, the type that typically contains an essay or two. Maybe an artist’s exhibition history?

Nope. It was blank. Only red.

Like the look on your face, perhaps, while you’re reading this. Will you like this book? I don’t know. But I think it’s awesome, because it undercuts almost every sane idea about how to make a photo-book.

And all that red made me realize my red-tailed hawks are perfect, just as they are. What’s in a name, anyway?

Bottom Line: Inscrutable, almost offensively strange, yet perfectly awesome book by a brainy art star

To Purchase “Printed In Germany” Visit Photo-Eye

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Categories: Business

The Art of the Personal Project: Vincent Dixon

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 9:41am

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects. A personal project is the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director/photo editor or graphic designer. This blog thread is to feature the personal projects of photographers who advertise in LeBook. You can find him here: http://www.lebook.com/vincentdixon Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Vincent Dixon

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How long have you been shooting?
Professionally, about 20 years. I was seldom without a camera for about eight years before that so twenty-eight in total.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self-taught.

In my early twenties, I moved from Ireland, to France. I was a post-grad science student in Paris and discovered the street photography of Cartier-Bresson, Eugene Smith and Andre Kertész. I became friends with Justin Creedy Smith, Peter Lindbergh’s assistant at the time, and that fueled my interest in photography. As soon as I finished my Ph.D., I did an internship at a photo studio for about two months, and then over a two-year period, I assisted the fashion photographer, Steve Anderson.  That’s where I learned the basics, like how to expose film. Then I worked as a producer for a couple years. So most of my training has been on-the-job training in terms of photography.

For example, before I shot my first major advertising assignment, the Absolut Vodka “Cities of Europe” campaign, I really had never used a 4×5 camera. I took a photo assistant for the first photo. After that I shot the rest of the campaign with just the Art Director, Pascale Gayraud. No producer, no assistant, just the two of us. It was quite an adventure. I spent about a week looking at locations and then about three or four days shooting on each photo.  That was my school.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
In 2011, I took a sabbatical from commercial photography and went on a yearlong journey around the world with my wife and four children. It was priceless share many new experiences with my family, as well as a time to submerge myself in creating photo-essays of our travels away from the confines of a working schedule.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I started showing it pretty much immediately. From the road, I regularly sent friends a “Picture of the Day”.  And then a selection debuted as part of a self-published magazine called “Wanderings” which had several stories from the year traveling and the Pushkar Portraits.  Also from that magazine, Lisa Matthew, Managing Art Producer at Team One, curated her favorite images for a showing at their agency in Los Angeles.

Wanderings on-line: http://vincentdixon.com/wanderings/

And a little clip on the making-of: http://vincentdixon.tumblr.com/post/73353102298/a-behind-the-scenes-look-of-the-printing-to

It was a great to see the prints framed and hanging at Team One: http://vincentdixon.tumblr.com/post/73361107847/gallery-show-at-team-one

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I am shooting pretty much continually and thinking about projects most of the time. I’m also looking back at work I did, some of it over twenty years ago. I think what changes is our definition of “Is it working”?

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Lucky for me, most of my commercial work is informed by my attraction to street photography — meaning I always try to make photos that have the spontaneity of reportage despite their construction.  So when I’m shooting for myself, I really just go for projects that interest me and hope that maybe they will resonate with a wider audience. If they do, great, and if they don’t, well, I was just shooting for myself and that is an end in itself. You never know, maybe they will have an audience later or maybe they don’t deserve one.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I’m not as good at this as I should be, one of my intentions for 2015 is to do more social media, it is a wonderful way to share your work.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
I worked on a portrait project for The Mimi Foundation in Belgium last year https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMWU8dEKwXw and the video of the project got 15 million hits on Youtube in two weeks that really changed my way of looking at media and the way we present projects.

Here is a promo we’ve recently completed where we used a video instead of a printed piece. https://vimeo.com/117510349. I really enjoyed making this with my friend and editor Stuart Radford.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes Wanderings Vol. 1 that I spoke about above was such an effort. https://vimeo.com/84136488

We are also honored to have it featured by Danielle Currier over on her “No Plastic Sleeves” blog:  http://blog.noplasticsleeves.com/sharing-personal-work-vincent-dixon/

This is what I said about The Pushkar portraits in Wanderings

Pushkar Camel Festival 2012:
A year ago I came to Pushkar with my family during the annual Camel festival that is held every November at the time of the Kartic Purnima full moon. Villagers, traders and famers come from all over Rajasthan to trade up to 20 000 camels and horses. It is also one of the five Dhrams or pilgrimages that is held in high esteem by Hindus and holds the only temple to Brahma in India. This was one of our first stops in India and I was completely blown away by the exoticism of it all. It is a photographer’s dream. That in itself can become a problem. You are quickly exhausted by the intensity of the colors, the crowds, the endless possibilities, strange as it might seem because there is so much to do your brain can lock down. I think that it took me a year to absorb all I had seen.

Coming back I needed to try something different. Last year I travelled light with just small cameras. This time I brought bigger cameras and lights. There were a number of reasons I wanted to do this. First I am fascinated by how the camera itself affects the photo we take, how for example bigger cameras can slow us down and perhaps force us to take a more studied photo. The Rajasthani are incredibly handsome, the detail of their clothes and jewelry are remarkable, they have an eye for color and form that few possess. I wanted my portraits to reflect this. On a photographic level I needed the precision and care that these tools bring to try capture the subject.

Inspired by Irving Penn’s “World In A Small Room” I set up a small studio at the camel fair. On Monday when I got to Pushkar I found a large tent and rented it for a few days. It wasn’t ideal, it had green netting on the sides and the roof was full of holes that created green shadows and these hot spots. I had some cotton cloth died black that night. It took most of Tuesday morning to get things set up. Here are some of the photos that I took Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday.

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Born and raised in Kilkenny, Ireland, Vincent relocated to France in his early twenties.  Shortly after earning his PhD in Molecular Biology from the Institut Jacques Monod, Paris, he embarked on his photographic career.  As a result of his ability to make images that merged photorealism with surrealism, he was quickly awarded top advertising campaigns including Absolut and Perrier.  Those highly visible assignments helped cement his photographic reputation throughout Europe and later in North America; making him the go-to for many agencies and their ideas.

Along the way, Dixon’s work has won many advertising awards from organizations such as:  The Art Director’s Club; Gold, Silver & Bronze Cannes Lions, Gold, Silver and Bronze Clio’s, New York Festivals International’s Advertising Awards for Design, International ANDY Awards, One Show, D&AD Silver Pencil, International Advertising Festival, The Epical Awards, the French Art Director’s Club, Grand Prix Strategies, Grand Prix de L’Affichage and the London International Awards.

Photo awards have come from Communication Arts, PDN, Lucie Awards Advertising Photography of the Year, American Photo Contest Advertising Image of the Year, PDN Pix Digital Imaging Annual and featured in Luerzer’s 200 Best Advertising Photographers Worldwide.

Dixon’s clients include Absolut, Adidas, Axe, Dow, Coca Cola, General Electric, Jameson, Mercedes, Nissan, Playstation, Pepsi, Schick, Sony, Toyota, Visa and Virgin Media.

Vincent currently resides in Philadelphia with his wife and four children.


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

Categories: Business

Introducing Photographers Quarterly

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 10:01am

Photographers Quarterly is a new online magazine edited by Jonathan Blaustein and designed by myself, that gives us an opportunity to to show portfolios and make something purely about the photography. And of course, being an online magazine, we can do whatever the hell we want with it, which I love.

You’ll find the first issue to be a great mix of familiar and not-so-familiar names, but consistently high quality pictures. I’m excited to see what Jonathan comes up with each quarter, but please enjoy the inaugural spring issue of Photographers Quarterly featuring the work of Roger Ballen, Valery Rizzo, John Gossage, Maija Tammi, Tabitha Soren and Robbe Vandegehuchte De La Port:

http://photographersquarterly.com

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Categories: Business

The Daily Edit – Kyle Johnson: AFAR

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 9:39am

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AFAR

Creative Director: Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson
Director of Photography: Tara Guertin
Photographer: Kyle Johnson

 

How did you get those amazing aerial shots?
I ended up taking a helicopter tour of Kauai, knowing it would be the most amazing way to see and photograph the island from a unique perspective. I specifically found a company that offered a doorless chopper to get the best photos I could. The experience was incredible and terrifying at the same time. I honestly found that looking through my lens made it feel less “real” but every time I would set my camera down I started freaking out. The pilot gets down within the canyons and directly over the rocky cliffs or huge ocean swells. Its really a surreal way see the crazy diverse mix of landscapes on such a small island.

What was your approach to this shoot, did you have a shot list?
I approached this shoot similar to any editorial project I shoot. I definitely come in excited with some initial ideas and knowing the magazines specific needs. I always leave room however for exploration and spontaneous shots as well…Always turn down every road that looks interesting, dont hesitate to talk with locals, etc…

With this being a big feature, we definitely talked about the shoot a lot before hand and went into it with a Shot List. I had never been to Kauai previously. Being brand new to an area is always a great advantage for me photography wise. Everything is new and exciting and none of the little details get missed or overlooked. With a place this incredible I know there is bound to be almost too many good small details. I did try to stay within the vein of the story though. With it being a story for their Food Issue, the specific dishes had to be chosen and bringing any necessary lighting/plates/etc.. was also planned ahead of time. Shooting food at night almost always needs to be lit. I wanted to light it yet have it still feeling fitting to the story that was mostly shot outdoors & natural.

Did you know the writer on this project?
I have yet to meet Chris personally however he also wrote the one other travel story I have shot for AFAR earlier last year. After that story (about Oregon Coastal foragers) he reached out to me via email expressing he loved how the story turned out. We have corresponded a few times and I hope to collaborate with him again. I think my aesthetic is a good fit for his stories and we definitely have a mutual respect. I was stoked to find out he was writing the Kauai piece.

What sort of direction did you get from the magazine?
The creative director Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson & Photo Director Tara Guertin are both amazing people. AFAR does a great job of planning, producing and scheduling yet also letting the photographer find your own vision and tell the story as you see it and experience it. They both had great ideas going into the shoot on locations, aesthetic, and other details. Elizabeth actually joined me during the food shoots and helped with specific plate styling. Its great to collaborate with people who are just as passionate and whose aesthetics and curation I respect.

Whose idea was it to ride a bike off the pier?
Technically Jim was only diving off the pier…not riding a bike off of it but he did have damn good form. I might of mis-worded that about the bike. He rode his cruiser bike onto the pier and then dove off a few times for us. I was taking some more classic environmental portraits at his restaurant Bar Acuda. We were pretty much finished up and he asked if we needed anything else. I mentioned “not unless you wanna go dive off the Hanalei Pier”. He answered right away “sure!” This made for more for some way more natural and cool shots of him. He truly is in his element on the island.  (2 outtakes attached)

How was the food at Bar Acuda?
The food we had was awesome! You can really tell Jim uses the best local ingredients possible. Weekly trips to the farmers market/fish markets and sourcing as many things as he can that way. The islands climate can grow almost anything. As simple as it was the Local North Shore honeycomb with Humboldt Fog goat cheese and apple was one of my favorite things we tried. That honey smells and tastes like the islands flowers. I also have only good things to say about any of the sea food they serve. Seared Ono was especially memorable.

What made this story different from your other travel assignments?
This was a dream job! 100 percent. I have shot a lot of travel related stories around the Northwest where I live but I had never yet traveled somewhere so exotic and breathtaking for travel work. I think knowing it was a big feature and a huge opportunity pushed me to work harder than ever before. I was up before sunrise every day and really made the most of every minute on the island. Without sounding super cheesy, it really affirmed how much I love my job. Its a ton of work on a travel story. Running around hitting so many places but its always the most fun and exciting. Especially being somewhere you have never been and knowing the photos are going to accompany a great travel writers story. I don’t think I have ever been more excited to get home and scan through film/files than on this story.

How many shots did you get of the ocean before you got that beautiful opener?
Surprisingly not many. It was only our first morning of shooting..(we arrived the previous afternoon). My assistant Ron Harroll & I got up before dawn and just started driving around looking for interesting views and landscapes in the morning light. It wasn’t even a particularly scenic beach  but we noticed the waves/water looked good in that light and we pulled over for a few quick shots. It ended up making a great opener.

Categories: Business

The Daily Promo – Rebecca Cabage

Mon, 04/27/2015 - 10:00am

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Who printed it?
I had them printed at The Paper Chase Press,  they came highly recommended from a long time agent friend.

Who designed it?
I designed the promos myself.

I see you added a touch of gold to the promo.
Yes, the gold is to represent honey and it’s thick card stock, so the sides of the cards have gold on them. 

Who edited the images?
I edited the images with the intent of it telling a good story, like an editorial piece would. I wanted a close up of the honeybee so that you could identify with, and personalize the bee. Each image after pulled back a little more until it ultimately reveals the full story of the beekeeper. Here’s the complete gallery and written story.

How many did you make?
I did a total of 180 cards, and sent them out in pairs of 3, so 60 total.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This was my first batch of promos to go out. Prior to this year, I was working full time at a studio, as the Director of Bookings, and was shooting on weekends and in my off hours, and didn’t have time to pursue additional work. I’m now 100% percent focused and plan to send out promos 3 times a year.

I recall seeing a remarkable video at one of SPD’s Unsung Heroes;  Mathieu Young presented you.
It was a pleasant surprise to see that along with being a successful Director of Bookings, you were also a talented photographer with a deep interest in environmental awareness.

Categories: Business

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