Posts by: Heidi Volpe

The Daily Edit – Modern Farmer

- - The Daily Edit

Art Director: Sarah Gephart, MGMT. design

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

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

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

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

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

The Daily Edit – Gabriela Herman : Rodeo Queens/Cosmopolitan

- - The Daily Edit

Rodeo Queens - August 2014

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Promo

Photographer: Gabriela Herman
Text and reporting: Kelly Williams Brown
Design: Tyson Evans

Cosmopolitan

Art Director: Mariana Tuma ( freelance )
Photo Director:
Alix Campbell
Photo Editor: Allie Kircher

Heidi: Did Cosmopolitan commission this project or did you bring this idea forward?

Gabriela: This was a commissioned assignment for Cosmo and my first assignment for them. They contacted me in the summer of last year after seeing a story I had shot for Martha Stewart Living on the Kutztown Folk Festival. The first part of the rodeo shoot had a sort of similar, small-town fair vibe, which I think was a parallel. I was very fortunate to be teamed up with a writer, Kelly Williams Brown, who pitched the story to Cosmo and who became a good friend throughout the process.

How many days/weeks did it take to shoot this?

The shoot was split into three trips out West over five months. For the first trip, we went to Corvallis, OR, to the home of Nicole Schrock, who was Miss Rodeo Oregon and the main character of the story. We followed her around at home, on her family’s farm and the local county fair. The second trip started in Portland, OR, where Nicole was joined by five other state queens and we toured around Oregon for a week before arriving at the Pendleton Rodeo, one of the largest and most historic in the country. (Fun fact: At Pendleton, press is required to be in ‘rodeo wear’ meaning cowboy boots, a cowboy hat and appropriate western shirt, so I actually got a budget from Cosmo to purchase these items!) This was probably my favorite trip as it felt like I was just tagging along on a vacation with a group of awesome girls, plus I loved the reactions from walking around town with a gaggle of rodeo queens in tow. Lastly, we travelled to Las Vegas where the Miss Rodeo American competition takes place during the National Rodeo Finals, which is a huge event, cowboys everywhere!

What specifically does “expanded from an assignment” mean?

The story ran in the July issue this summer.  Due to editorial constraints Kelly’s article was condensed into an intro for the photo essay and they published only a tiny portion the material that I had shot. Cosmo’s edit, understandably, was also very different than what I would show. Kelly and I talked a few weeks after it published and realized that we both had so much good material that we didn’t want it to go to waste and discussed how we could expand it. I knew I wanted to make a physical piece as a promo and I wanted for Kelly to share her full story in the way that she originally intended. The result was twofold: this promo book that highlights the photos with Kelly’s reporting interspersed throughout and a post on Medium with her full article and my photos. This was my first time working with Medium and while its geared toward text over imagery, it feels like it was the perfect place for our story to live. It was promoted by Medium, along with our outreach, and has been viewed over 21,000 times.

Was this promo a difficult edit? How many images were considered? 

Yes! Isn’t every project difficult to edit? I shot over 4,000 images and there were probably around 250 that I handed into Cosmo and about 70 I was considering for the promo. One of the tricky things for me was choosing an image on the strength of the image versus the strength of the story. Unfortunately the last trip in Vegas, which was the grand culmination of everything — especially all the amazing sequined outfits — took place entirely under the fluorescent lights of the MGM Grand conference rooms. I had the least access to the girls, who were under constant chaperoned supervision. I knew it was important to show this in the story, but I didn’t feel they were the strongest images, so I only included two at the end to round out the story with the final shot of the newly crowned Miss Rodeo America. It’s not my favorite, but I felt like I needed that conclusion. There were also a few days on the second Oregon trip where the girls weren’t on queening duty and were just dressed in regular jeans and t-shirts. We shot guns, visited a saw mill and a cheese factory, went on a boat ride, and frolicked on Haystack Beach. A lot of the material I shot on those days just didn’t fit into the narrative, despite being some of my favorite shots.

The body of work has a great narrative arc, I loved the quote vs. captions. What made you decide to publish quotes?

I knew absolutely nothing about rodeo queens going into this story. I didn’t even know there was such an honor! The booklet was certainly to showcase the images and I knew it wasn’t the place where people would read a full article. But, I felt it would really enhance the experience by including a bit of context to the images that explains what its like being a rodeo queen for those who, like me, might not even understand the culture. I think this is a story that really benefits from hearing from the girls themselves.

Why the booklet, and not a foldout, magazine or cards…?

I’ve done post cards many times and recently did a promo poster this spring, but had never done a booklet. This might be the first body of work I have that falls nicely into such a linear narrative that making a book seemed logical. I have zero design background though and the idea of tackling a book project seemed very daunting.  Luckily my husband is a designer and was immensely helpful in putting this together and it was an added bonus to be able to collaborate with him on this project. It was also a chance to try on-demand printing. We tried MagCloud and ultimately went with Smartpress, as they had better paper options. Both were great because I could order exact quantities, and can always order more.

Before you approach a multi day project, do you have an idea of it’s development or is it more organic ?  

After the first trip out to Oregon, I came home so excited about the images. Nicole, the lead subject, was just wonderful to work with, as was her family who supported her all the way to Vegas. We had no idea if she was going to win the competition or not but she was perfect to be our main character in that she seemed to get along with everyone, certainly was considered a top contender and photographically was great in front of the lens. We actually got lucky in picking Nicole — the decision was mostly driven by Kelly, who lived in Oregon — because she ended up in third place out of twenty-seven girls in the competition . Projects definitely form more organically for me. I rarely set out with specific images I want to make. With so much material after only that first trip, I had a feeling I would end up with a body of work that I could develop beyond the assignment.

Are you constantly referring to images you’ve already shot and then looking for what needs to be added?

Not really. I usually just shoot and shoot and shoot and then pull out from there. I do wish I had been able to gain more access to the girls during the competition to round out the final stages of the story better, but I think I got enough. Were I to continue pursuing this project, of course I have in mind certain elements that I’d want to add. For example, there were talks at one point of shooting a seamstresses working on the gowns. With any project you could shoot forever and ever, but I think I’m done with this project for now. It was a wonderful opportunity to have all the access I received, and I feel like I told the story I want to tell.

What was your overall creative direction for this ( in your own body of work ) and from the magazine?

For the kind of stories I shoot, the type of direction I usually get is very broad and has me shooting a bit of everything. I love that kind of direction, or non-direction if you will, in that it leads me to shoot what I find most interesting. I rarely receive the type of assignment where there’s a shot already mapped out in someone’s mind and I’m there to execute it. This was no different. Of course there’s the schedule of events to follow but, outside of that, I was free to shoot anything and everything that caught my eye.

Are all the images in the promo unpublished?

There’s only one image (detail shot of Nicole’s Miss Rodeo Oregon chaps) from the promo booklet that was also used by Cosmo.

What was the most surprising element of this project?

Perhaps the fact that I was opened up to this whole new world that I didn’t even know existed. Did you know ‘queening,’ is used as a verb? And that hair curlers are an essential item to being a rodeo queen? This was a total cultural immersions for me from seeing parts of the country I’d never been, to attending my first rodeo, to shooting guns and bonding with girls outside of my social circle.

I am forever grateful to Cosmo and the photo department team who not only took a chance on me but really gave me the opportunity to dive deep into a subject matter, over a long period of time, and develop meaningful relationships.

How did this body of work force you to grow as a photographer?

One of the most important lessons from the this project was the power of collaboration and reporting. In this case I feel like having the quotes and the captions and being able to read Kelly’s full text really enhances the viewing experience of the images and adds another layer of understanding. I’m not a writer, nor do I feel I’m any good at it, yet from this experience I feel like I either need to push myself on the writing front or partner with other writers like Kelly who would be willing to dive deep into a project together.

The Daily Edit – Michael Rodriguez: Los Angeles Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

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Los Angeles Magazine

Design Director: Steven Banks
Photo Director: Amy Feitelberg
Photographer: Michael Rodriguez

 

Heidi: Best of covers/thematic are always a great challenge to keep things fresh. How did this smart concept develop?
Michael: Steve Banks, the design director at LA Mag, came to me with the concept.  Just like the previous cover I did for them, he came to me with a clear idea.  My job is to realize it, make it dynamic.

What sort of editorial direction did you get to develop the the tools?
Steve knew most of the tools he wanted on the knife, but we continued to throw around more ideas for tools specifically, how the form of each tool would parody the likeness of the referenced item.  There were specific topics in the issue that needed to be represented.  Then, we looked at existing tools that get crammed into these pocket knives and picked the best fit.  The palm tree bottle opener took the most time to make a quick read.  It started off much more detailed and had a more organic silhouette.  It took quite a few drafts to make it simple enough to read.

How many knives to did you research/buy or did you simply know the swiss army knife being such an iconic classic was the right choice?
I had a couple on hand to study.  We did a bit of online research but, that was mostly for mechanics and tool details.  The overall shape of these knives haven’t changed all that much over the years.  Most of the research on the casing was for texture and material it would be made from.  We had many options but, we ended with classic red plastic.

Did you do your own post?
Yup, I do all of my post and CG.

 

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What was the biggest technical challenge for this project?
Figuring out how much detail to put into it without it looking messy.  At one point, the tool looked pretty grimy and used.  I like to put in more detail rather than not enough.  Then, you can work back some of the details to a place that everybody is happy with.

How did you get so adept at post/CGI? Did it come naturally for you?
I learned the basics of retouching from my old business partner back in the day.  When I took over the retouching duties, it started off with simple compositing.  Over the years, it just developed in complexity as ideas grew and greater challenges came.  At some point, I felt like I hit a wall with that general direction and started to learn how to create things in a CG environment.  It started with small accents to my photography and gradually, I felt more confident in my ability.  I started making environments that there either wasn’t the budget to have them made or was simply impossible to shoot.  Then, my approach flipped and CG was the majority of image creation and photography became the accent.  Now, things are balancing between the two along with the inclusion of video and animation.

Tell me about your entire process; do you think about the image first and then go into an execution thought process?
If it’s for a job, I consider the best approach for the idea.  Will it be served better in a more illustrative approach or all photographed along with compositing?  (nobody asks me to do anything all in camera, which I like).  The general approach to CG is, if you can capture what you want, the way you want it in camera, that’s the way to go.  If not, you identify the reason and find a solution using other avenues.  Then, that becomes part of the process for that image.  I think it’s important to be adaptable, especially when you’re working under tight schedules.  The image is planned out in advance.  Then, I capture and/or create the elements, lit properly to create a seamless composite.  There’s usually some deviation and improvising along the way but, the general approach is discussed and agreed upon prior to any major work being done.

How do you feel these skills make you a better photographer?
Sometimes, there are things that are totally out of your control that just ruin a shot.  There was this job I had where between the location being scouted and approved by the client and us arriving on shoot day, the  location had been drastically changed.  All of the elements of the location that led us to choose it for the image were gone.  There wasn’t any time fix for a fix.  I proposed that I create a new background where I could match the angle and lighting while improving on the look of the location that we had originally been expecting.  It was an awful situation, but everyone walked away happy.  Since then, I’ve been able to roll with most every problem thrown at me.  That’s not a “fix it in post” mentality necessarily; that’s an unfortunate perspective to have towards image making.  These skills help the photography overcome whatever challenges may arise throughout the job.

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The Daily Edit – Joshua Schaedel: Everywhere Between You & I

- - The Daily Edit

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Everywhere Between You & I

Photographer: Joshua Schaedel
Designer: Rebecca King

Heidi: How did the show develop?
Josh: The show came together in a very unusual way and pretty much grew out of my friendship with Lisa Thackaberry. She was looking for a few different spaces for projects she was working on. We had talked about collaborating together on a project with my photo collective Sorry Danny but the time wasn’t really right for the group. So after Lisa and I met Adam Stamp at the Downtown Photo Room we new that we had to move forward. So the show happened pretty organically. We weren’t out looking for a gallery or a space to do a solo show it just sort of happened. Which I guess is why the show had the feel that it did. So I guess the show came from a really natural place, which couldn’t have been better for such heavy subject matter as depression, guilt, suicide and personal growth.

Was your intent to have a show or was this body of work a way for you to deal with this difficult topic?
Ever since I was a kid I have been searching for a way to connect with my father Jim Schaedel. In the beginning the work about my Dad and his depression, and how that effects or relationship, was really a last ditch effort to reach him. What I found in that processes was that I really needed to work on myself. With each project about my father I tried to let some residual part of my baggage go and with each new discovery I feel a bit better.

I always thought it would be nice to share the work but honestly never thought I would have the opportunity to because the subject matter is so heavy. When Lisa and I first met I was really in a dark place and was trying really hard to be a good son and was really trying to get to a place of understanding with the work. So I really let Lisa into something very personal and she really gave me the strength and the confidence to see it through. So the show really just became as an extension of that. Which is why I am so proud of it and so glad that she pushed me to go forward with it.

Why did you choose to photograph yourself over the course of 12 hours?
The “Selfie” project is very a simple concept, take a half-day and sit and think about your life. My hope was that I could make a piece that I could come back to over and over again to continue to learn about myself so that I wouldn’t follow my grandfather’s (who committed suicide when I was 12) and my father’s path. I wanted to spend the day with myself to see all my flaws, all my shortcomings and all my mistakes. The twelve hours just felt like enough time to reflect and to learn.

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What was the most challenging part from a personal and technical point?
Technically it was hard to work out all the little details and to make all these different projects and concepts live into one room that left viewer with an idea of what depression might feel like. But definitely the most challenging part of the show was personal. I realized when Lisa wanted to show these particular projects that I was going to have to go through a lot emotionally to do an honest job reflecting what my father and I have been dealing with for so many years. I was more then just nude I was transparent and it was scary and amazingly peaceful at the same time. It is without a doubt the best thing I could have done for myself and I have to thank Lisa Thackabeery for believing in me and for giving me the opportunity to set this part of me free.

There’s a beautiful series of screens on your site. How did this integrate with the show?
The broken TVs or “The Last Christmas” came from the original project on my father called “My Father’s Name.” The piece found its way into the show when Lisa and I were discussing the project that gave the show its title “Everywhere Between You & I”. She wanted to know how that project came to be and I told the story behind “The Last Christmas”. Which happened when my father and I were supposed to spend Christmas together and watch a football game. Well, he was very depressed and didn’t want any company that day. I was really upset but I thought that if I at least watched the game I could at least share the game with him even though we were not going to be in the same room. I went to my uncle’s house to watch the game; as luck would have it, the TV broke. I was very distraught and the rest of the family left the room to do other things. As I was sitting there a tire commercial came on that described a cross-country road trip with a father and son. This was something that my father and I had talked about since I was a kid. Even though I couldn’t spend Christmas with him or watch the football game together I at least had hope that one day we might take this trip together. The “The Last Christmas” is really a shift in thinking for me and is piece that tied the show together.

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How has this body of work transformed you, if at all?
The show has affected me in many ways. I think the best part for me was when my childhood best friend made it out to the show. About a month prior to the show his brother who had battle depression for many years committed suicide and once he read “The Update” (the piece that describes my father and I talking about his desire to kill himself) he started weeping and we consoled each other. He shared very openly what him and his family were going through on a level that was very special and I think most people are not comfortable with sharing. That has since happened several times with other people and in those very intimate and open conversations I have learned more then I ever expected. I feel like I have the ability to share more openly with people and I think other people who know my story are more open with me. I think on a deeper level I am a lot less angry and a lot more calm. I hope as I continue to show this work that might get closer to a place of peace.

How will this transcend into your editorial work?
Since I draw most of my inspiration from a personal place and when I am working with subject I feel its best to share my story. Recently I did a documentary job where I had to photograph a young man and he shared a similar story about his father and I shared with him mine. By the end of the conversation he thanked me because I was the first person who he had felt comfortable to talk about what he was going through and I got a really nice picture out of it. So I guess for me the more I learn about myself, the more open I am to share, the more people are willing to share with me. I think once I let down my guard down they do too and that makes for great pictures. But to be honest that is why I don’t do a lot of editorial work because it really affects me and takes a long time to digest. I am currently working on a few editorial concepts that I will hopefully pitch very soon.

You chose to do a newsprint/newspaper promo, why did that seem appropriate to you?
Well I come from a zine background with my collective Sorry Danny so it just seemed natural to me to do it for the show. I believe that art should be accessible to everyone and I think the newspaper is one of the most approachable ways to do that. Everyone remembers there father reading the newspaper in the mornings and so do I, so the broadside newspaper/zine felt like a place where my father ended and I began. I am firm believer in books and zines as the best way, besides the gallery space, to communicate a message and its something I want to continue to do for each show that I have.

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What sort of art direction did you give the designer for this?
My designer Rebecca King and I had luckily worked on a branding strategy before the show. So we just continued that conversation into the concept about my father. Our idea when we designed my branding was that it had the ability to move to beat of the concept at hand. So I just told her what I was trying to say with the show and she delivered a brilliant design around me and my father’s relationship. So each and every subtlety communicates some aspect of that relationship in an elegant way. She is one of those brilliant designers who work from a concept outward to a beautiful object and not the other way around. So the paper happened very naturally just like the show.

 

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The Daily Edit: Steven Simko – Hollywood Stars Promo

- - The Daily Edit

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Steve Simko

What prompted to you start the body of work?
Much of the inspiration for the Hollywood project was derived from Richard Avedon’s “In the American West.” I wanted to capture that intimacy and authenticity that Avedon had in his subjects for that series. I was also late in the game to switch from film to digital (2008) and was curious to see if digital would provide me with the same B&W-type quality images I used to process in my darkroom. I was lucky enough to meet “Tex” at a Hollywood dive bar one night, and after two years of calls (he didn’t use email) he finally agreed to be the first subject in my series. Once I photographed him, I was able to use that image in persuading the other subjects in and around Hollywood to participate in the project.

How did you select the subjects?
Whether it’s a shirt pocket protector that I would see Sal wear without fail every time he visited my neighbor or Tex’s six plus-foot frame with a fiery red beard and a cowboy hat on Hollywood blvd – something about them stands out and is compelling to me, and I knew their unique aesthetic in real life would translate to a unique portrait. I wanted others to see how I saw them.

What are you interactions with them like?
Throughout the shoot, I’m asking tons of questions trying to find out the What, When, and Why that lead them to Hollywood. Every person has their own story, and I usually find that the subjects are more than happy to share them.

How do you convince them to “come to my studio”, isn’t that a bit creepy esp for the women?
Yes, convincing takes time and patience…lots of patience ! This is such a departure from my editorial work for Vogue, but I think the fact that I shoot for them provides some “legitimacy” and trust the subjects are looking for.

Do you personally know them, how long is the session?
Only a few, but I know some of them pretty well now. No more than 30 mins in the parking lot of my studio… all daylight.

Have you had people turn you down? 
Yes, many, but I just keep asking and asking. I still have about six on my list that I would love to photograph.

The copy is a nice touch, did you write it? Are you interviewing them on the spot?
I worked with a copy person at Agency Access, and the details are from the conversations I’ve had with my subjects during our shoots… I keep notes.

How many have you shot so far and do you have some that don’t make the final stage?
I’ve shot over fifty and the final cut was twenty nine.

The Daily Edit – Time Magazine: Spencer Lowell

- - The Daily Edit

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TIME

Creative Director: D.W. Pine

Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise: Kira Pollack

Deputy Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise: Paul Moakley

Photographer: Spencer Lowell

Heidi: How did the cover concept develop, and why did the initial story become minimized?
Paul Moakley from Time called me at home in LA on the morning of August 7th and asked if I was interested in going to Atlanta that night and shooting a story on Ebola. At that time, the first two American patients had just been transported from West Africa to an infectious disease isolation unit at Emory Hospital in Atlanta.

The story was about America’s readiness to deal with an infectious disease as vicious as Ebola. I was assigned to photograph the facilities and staff at Emory Hospital and at the CDC. The subjects included the doctors and nurses treating the infected patients, as well as the Director of the CDC, Dr Tom Frieden. In addition, I photographed the CDC Emergency Operations Center and a staff member in the protective suiting needed to treat Ebola infected patients at hospitals.

After 3 days of shooting, the story was slated as the cover. Then on August 11th, two days before the issue was to go to print, Robin Williams died and his story took the cover and most of the issue, rightfully so.

Fast forward to September 30th, I get a notification on my phone that the first case of Ebola had been diagnosed in the US. I immediately emailed Paul Moakley a link to the article. We had worked closely together on the initial story so I thought of sharing the news with him first even though I was fairly certain he’d already seen it. He responded quickly saying that they were just talking about me and asked if I had any cover ideas that could be executed by the next day at 1:00 pm EST when they were to go to print(10:00 am PST for me).

Tell us about the time line.
That  email I mentioned was received at 2:38 pm PST so that gave me 19 hours and 22 minutes to conceptualize, pre-produce, shoot, edit and retouch. The following timeline (PST) is how things unfolded:

2:38 pm: Started researching.

2:59 pm: Emailed Paul my first idea, which was a super tight portrait of a cowboy wearing an antiviral face mask. The concept was that the cowboy symbolizes America and strength, which I thought would make for a strong contrast with the face mask, which symbolizes caution and vulnerability.

3:57 pm: Emailed Paul two more ideas – 1. overhead shot of an empty hospital bed with a quarantine enclosure and 2. an image of someone in a hazmat suit.

3:58 pm: Started looking on casting sites for a cowboy and calling prop shops and costume houses to see about getting a hospital bed and/or a hazmat suit.

5:09 pm: Kira Pollack, Director of Photography at Time emails me saying that they are definitely going with an Ebola cover and they think my ideas are great. She wants to know if I think I can pull this off over night. I wasn’t sure but I told her I was definitely willing to try.

5:30 pm: Found a costume house with an authentic Hazmat suit from the movie Contagion but they closed in 30 minutes and they were 40 minutes away. They said they’d stay open later for a fee so I emailed Kira asking if I should pull the trigger.

5:41 pm: Kira called and we spoke about which shot would be the most realistic to execute in the next 14 hours and 19 minutes. We ruled out the hospital bed because it would be impossible to source the props. Kira wasn’t entirely sold on the cowboy so we decided to go for the hazmat suit.

5:50 pm: The costume shop withdrew their offer of staying late saying that there was no one there able to stay past 6:00. At that point I called a friend of a friend who is motion picture costumer and asked if there was any way I could find a hazmat suit that night. She said absolutely not. At that point I started looking at other options. I thought back to the protective suiting I shot at the CDC and started researching the personal protective equipment (PPE) being used by healthcare workers in West Africa. I found a page on the WHO website that listed PPE requirements specifically for treating patients with Ebola. After a few phone calls, I found out that all the articles I needed could be purchased at a local army surplus store opened until 9:00 pm, a hardware store opened until 10:00 pm and drug store opened 24 hours.

6:30 pm: Called Kira back to let her know the change of plans. I told her I was able to find a yellow Tyvek suite and a white one. We talked about background options and agreed that yellow on yellow could make for a powerful image with an undertone of caution/hazard and we agreed white on white would make for a good secondary option. After we got off the phone, I set out to to purchase all the parts of the costume from around town.

10:00 pm: Met my assistant at my house to load up lights and seamlesses (luckily I had a yellow one from a previous shoot).

11:00 pm: Got to my office to unload and set up.

12:06 am: Started shooting.

3:34 am: Finished shooting. For options, we shot yellow suit on yellow background, yellow suit on midnight blue background, white suit on midnight blue background and white suit on white background.

4:33 am: Sent my edit of the shoot to Kira, Paul and DW Pine, the Creative Director of Time.

6:34 am: DW emailed me his two cover selects to be retouched – the first yellow on yellow and the other white on white.

7:28 am: DW updated me that they were definitely going with the yellow and asked me to focus my retouching on that shot. He had also comped yellow patches over the edges of my seamless to use for a mock up which he and his team thought looked like walls so he asked if I could composite yellow walls into the final image, which I did.

8:32 am: Final retouched image delivered.

What prompted you to reach out to the magazine about the ebola case?
On the day of the first US Ebola diagnosis, I received a news alert on my phone. Because I had worked so closely with Paul Moakley on the original Ebola story, he was the first person I thought about when I read the news.

Where you surprised when they offered you the assignment?
More than anything, I was surprised that they were willing to let me try to pull the assignment off in such a short period of time. I didn’t think it was impossible but I wasn’t sure it was possible. The fact that they wanted me to try gave me the confidence to push myself. It’s amazes me that not only are they constantly operating at that level of production, but that they maintain such a high level of aesthetic aspirations in the process. It’s really a privilege to get to work with such wonderful people.

What was running through your mind when you fully understood the short timeline?
I didn’t have time to fully understand the short timeline. In pressurized situations, I thrive off of not being able to overthink things and making decisions as they arise. The lack of time really acts as a filter and helps prioritize.

With such little time where did you source the props, and I’d image accuracy was essential.
I referred to the personal protective equipment for Ebola treatment section on the WHO website for accuracy. I also referred to the images I had taken at the CDC of the staff member wearing the PPE for Ebola treatment. From there, I purchased the Tyvek suits, rubber boots and plastic apron from an army surplus store; face shield from a hardware store; and gloves and antiviral face mask from a drugstore.

Who was the model in the image, seeing that the shoot started at 11:30 pm?
The model in the image is my friend/assistant, Pat Martin. I’m grateful that he was willing to drive across town last minute, help me set everything up, and pose in the very warm and uncomfortable suits all night. Now he can say he’s been on the cover of Time Magazine.

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( Some outtakes )

Did you sleep at all?
I didn’t sleep at all. In fact, I told my wife who is also a photographer, that I’d be on set with her for a shoot she had for the Hollywood Reporter starting two hours after I delivered the final image. So, I woke up at 6 am on September 30th and didn’t go to sleep until 9 pm on October 1st. Definitely one of the longer days I’ve had.

What was the most rewarding part of this shoot?
Usually I’ll have a few days to think about an assignment before I start shooting and then a few days to live with the images afterwards. In that time there is a lot of static between my ears while trying to figure out the best decisions to make. The most rewarding part of this shoot was compressing my process to the essentials and becoming very aware of that static which I can definitely live without.

This was also my first cover for Time, which has been a goal as long as I can remember so that in and of itself is rewarding.

The Daily Edit – Jacqueline Bates: The California Sunday Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

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The California Sunday Magazine

Editor-in-Chief: Douglas McGray
Creative Director: Leo Jung
Photography Director: Jacqueline Bates

While it’s called “The California Sunday Magazine,” you’re also bringing geopolitics into the fold, and you have a different unique editorial architecture as well as distribution. Tell us about it.

We are a general interest magazine focusing on stories, mostly about people, that take place in California, the West, Latin America and Asia. We are on all digital platforms and a printed edition, with a launch circulation of more than 400,000, delivered on the first Sunday of each month with the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Sacramento Bee. (And for a limited time, in the Bay Area, with home delivered copies of the New York Times.) We’re comprised of two sections: shorts and features. We are not a service based magazine–we won’t tell you where to eat and where to shop. There are plenty of magazines who do that really well already!

The west coast deserves a good Sunday magazine, how did this emerge?

We emerged from the popular live events series, that our editor-in-chief, Doug McGray started, called Pop-Up Magazine, which is a live magazine which writers, documentary filmmakers, radio producers, photographers, and illustrators perform original stories to sell-out crowds at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall. They’ve had great photographers showing new work on stage — Larry Sultan, Jim Goldberg, Autumn de Wilde, Richard Misrach, Cheryl Dunn, Ron Haviv, Todd Hido, Lucas Foglia. After doing the show for a few years, Doug realized it was strange that California wasn’t home to a big-audience general interest magazine. He loved the sense of community he and the Pop-Up team were building. Fast forward to 2014..and here we are! Doug hired Leo Jung as creative director (formerly Design Director at Wired, deputy art director at The New York Times Magazine) and then I was hired soon after. I moved to San Francisco after working in magazines in NYC for a number of years (W Magazine, ELLE Magazine, and Interview). It’s such an incredible challenge and so unique for a photo editor to help shape what the magazine looks like, from scratch. It’s so inspiring and challenging. When Doug and I first met he said the magazine wasn’t going to have any cover lines. I thought he was crazy. And I knew I had to work with him immediately.

What type of visual stories is the magazine seeking? 

We’re always looking for pitches from photographers. It’s not just about beautiful photos — they need to have a sense of story. Photo essays can be big and sweeping and urgent, or they can be small, local curiosities. As you’ll see in our first issue, we will have a mix of established and young artists. I love having that balance. Photographers can email us at art@californiasunday.com to get our contributor guidelines.

 

Describe your photographic direction for the magazine.

The magazine is made in California. So when it comes to photography, whenever possible we use artists who have a deep, authentic connection to this place, creatively and personally. And that authenticity can be seen in their photographs. We always want to surprise readers. California Sunday imagery will feel cinematic, thought-provoking, not overly stylized or retouched. A sense of place is really important to the magazine, so there won’t be a lot of studio photography. Imagery will feel bright, smart but not pretentious. Subjects will be represented in an authentic, real way. Always accessible, but never dumbed down.

 

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You have a section called “visual short”,  is this an opportunity for photographers to pitch you ideas?

Absolutely. Photographers can email us their pitches and links to their unpublished bodies of work.

In each issue we’d like to try and include a visual short. For the first issue we commissioned Will Adler, who is a fantastic fine art photographer. I saw his brilliant series of surf photography at Danziger Gallery in NY–he has such a deep connection to surf and art (his uncle, Tom Adler, is an art director of seminal early surf photography books.) I love his dreamy color palette and he really embodies the feel of the magazine we’re trying to achieve…cinematic and surprising. Will sent us so many striking images it so hard to choose. We chose a different image for the TOC image where the surfer’s body felt quite still, but when you turn to the story its a nice contrast –turbulent and wonderfully disorienting.

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Holly Andres shot your cover/feature, virtual reality is a challenging topic to visually cover I’d imagine. Some of her work has a wonderfully unsettling narrative. Why did you gravitate towards her work for this?

I met Holly in Portland in 2011 at the PhotoLucida photo previews when I was at W. She was still focusing primarily on fine art photography. I love how she creates imagery that invites you in and takes you to another world, from an era you can’t quite place…which was perfect for the setting we were trying to create for our cover story, called “The Last Medium,” about virtual reality in Hollywood.

We’re hoping to do something really unique with our covers–immediately after you turn the page we have an inside cover, which is an opportunity to continue the cover on to a spread. We think it sets the tone up front in the way we sequence images, very cinematically. The cover is a young girl at home–wearing a virtual reality headset, then you turn the page and you’re in that alternate world with her. We continued that in the story as well, domestic scenes of the family together, then you turn to the last image and the family is in a bright otherworldly setting…

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Often news journalism is about heart break. Omar Lucas photographed Ruth Thalia’s family. Undoubtedly this was important to select the right photographer. It takes a certain type of photographer to gracefully come into a family’s life and capture their sorrow.  Why Omar Lucas?

Omar is a Lima-based photographer, and this was his first time working with a foreign publication. It was important for me that whoever was going in to the home where Ruth Thalia once lived, that they understand the sensitivity of the situation. Omar was familiar with Ruth Thalia’s story–it was on the news frequently there–so he made sure to go to their home and speak with them at length before he even picked up his camera.

 

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Tell me about Daniel Shea‘s piece.

We teamed LA Times arts writer Carolina Miranda with the fantastic Daniel Shea, who was spending a lot of time out west and inspired by the contemporary arts scene. We decided on a unique approach, featuring artists who were directly inspired by the landscape around them. We used architectural historian Reyner Banham’s four ecologies as a guide.

If you want to join, click here to find out more.

 

 

 

The Daily Edit – Stan Evans: Red Bull

- - The Daily Edit

Red Bull /Olympic Hopefuls

Creative Directors: Ryan Snyder, Ilana Taub
Photo Editor: Marv Watson
Photography: Stan Evans
Photo Assistants: West Coast: Cory Steffen/ East Coast: Will Crakes
Hair: / MUA/ Laura Fey
Styling: Stan Evans/ Laura Fey

 

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(Grete Eliassen) Grete is the best all around female skier I’ve ever seen but the truth is I’m always excited to bring out her feminine side and show her in another light. 99.9% of the time she’s in a helmet or ski gear but for this moment I got her to wear a dress. Originally she wasn’t quite feeling it (mainly because of the cold) but I said when you see the image that’s in my head, this will be the photo you show your grand kids to remind them how beautiful you were.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 5.22.13 PM(Louie Vito)  ​Louie is probable the best athlete I’ve ever shot. He is always early, always cracking jokes, always making people feel at home which was the beauty of this shoot. I got to turn Louie into someone else besides “Mr. Nice Guy”. I love the camera for the simple fact that you can take a person’s persona and flip it on it’s head.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 5.22.32 PM(Bobby Brown) I’d never met Bobby before but he was a consummate pro. He cared just as much about the portrait process as the action photos which is rare for an action sports athlete.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 5.22.43 PM(Greg Bretz) Greg was pretty much in a media sponsor frenzy when I shot these photos. He looked to be the first lock on the Olympic Halfpipe selection and you could tell he had alot of interviews on his plate. Pretty much the last thing you want to hear as a snowboarder is “some guy from New York” is here to take your photo. That usually equates to “guy in the sky” and missed grabbed photos with poor style. Two things the core audience of snowboarding hates.  I try to stay true to my roots and remember where I came from so I made it quick for Greg and got these shots in 2 takes. I saw Greg at breakfast later that week told him, by the way,  I shot snowboarding for 15+ years and I grew up in Alaska.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 5.22.51 PM(Arielle Gold) ​For this shot I literally introduced myself on the side of the halfpipe. “Hi I’m Stan Evans and I’m here to shoot your portrait for Red Bull!”  This was during practice for the final  so I would literally caught her hiking to do another run. I was actually lined up on the wrong wall for her action shot and practice ended so I hustled back up at night time (about 10 degrees) and got the action portion of her then.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 5.22.58 PM(Nick Goepper) Sometime in all the seriousness of preparing for the the olympics we forget these are kids. So for Nick’s shoot it was all about fun. It was pretty fun convincing him to do a cartwheel in ski boots and he had the biggest grin when I asked him to backflip with my camera. He asked,  “what happens if i wreck?”  I told him I have insurance…. but don’t wreck. (it’s a canon 5d mark II in his hand that I remote triggered from the ground) If you look closely you can see me bottom left.

Heidi: Had you pitched Red Bull projects previously? Or was this the first open assignment with them?
Stan: Yes, here’s a list of what I had pitched and executed for them:
Grete Eliassen Movie: “Say My Name”
Travis Rice portraits: “That’s it, That’s All”, Mainstream Media ( below )

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Edwin De La Rosa:  BMX Portraits ( below )

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For Travis Rice, “That It, That’s ‘s All”  I shot test samples and had meetings with Travis, Brainfarm Producers and Red Bull, the goal was to shoot for a mainstream audience so it wasn’t as much about his performance on a snowboard as it was building a compelling character.

 

The pitch for Grete’s movie actually took about 8 months. It ended up being a two year project We created a teaser and photos compiled of Grete adventures of what logged the first year and coordinated it with outlets that had already expressed interests in the project and projected views. Grete, Adam Bebout, her regional athlete Manger and I flew down to Red Bull and we pitched in person. They warmed up to it a bit but what took it over the top was the hip jump idea. It was something that differentiated it from other female ski projects and opened the appeal to a larger audience. The general public might not understand skiing but the idea that a woman could fly 30+ feet in the air and create a world record was something a lot of people could be excited about.
Here’s a few pages from the Virulence Report from my office which was for interest in the movie before hand. After Grete’s hip jump/world record the impressions were 33 million the first month by Red Bull’s analytics team.

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What were the directives from the brand?
Red Bull wanted portraits that were compelling to mainstream media but could still live within endemic media. Logo placement is always imperative but I try to blend it subtly. It was nice because action was secondary but I think being able to handle both sides of the spectrum was a large selling point for them.

My guess is you’re also an athlete adventurer. How does that play into your work?
I love the outdoors and being a part of the action but being snowboard photographer started to take it’s toll. I actually was in a car accident on my way to filming a part of Grete’s movie. I chipped off a piece of bone in my kneecap and after 6 knee surgeries I was ready to take a different direction so I started focusing on portraits. If anything I’ve probably toned it down a bit. It lets me see more of the quiet moments between the action and helps humanize people. I still love risky jobs and exploring in that I connect with the subjects because they realize I know what they are going through and as a photographer, I’m trying to make them look their absolute best.
The biggest oxymoron is being on a set in NYC where people act as if something goes wrong someone might die as opposed to being on the side of a mountain in Alaska where someone actually could die.
For example, before Kevin Pearce there was Timmy Ostler. Tim was an amazing snowboarder that I was shooting at Park City. He had a freak fall in the halfpipe, was heli-evaced and consequently paralyzed from the waist down. Those moments change you. I’m not trying to be a downer but those moments make you realize what’s at stake on set or in the studio. I’m so thankful I get to do what I do, and I try to remember that, as well as remind those around me. Positivity and being happy to be there are a huge part of my shoots because in the back of my mind I realize, this can all be taken away in an instant.

What was the biggest hurdle with the assignment?
Weather is always a factor. For the Grand Prix it snowed ton during qualifiers and people could barely get speed for jumps. It made for pretty lackluster action and inopportune for some of the locations I had scouted. I usually try to have a plan B – get creative and adapt. Grete’s location was really the only specific parameter I had to nail. Schedule was probably the other, many of the athletes had overlapping practice or events, other sponsor commitments and competing with television and other media outlets . But sometimes that worked out. I met one of the hosts for NBC and showed him some of the photos of Louie. They ended up using them in a “Road to Sochi” spot so turnaround was quick and I caught a lucky break.

How long did you spend with the athletes in order to capture the non action side of them?
Sometimes 5 – 10 minutes, sometimes days.
I had a hard time tracking down Arielle Gold. I literally saw her at the halfpipe, introduced myself, shot her portrait and action on the spot. For Louie we actually talked quite a bit and he invited me to his home. I was immersed in his training regimen. I ate what he ate. Woke up when he did and would get the gym before him to set up. It made for an amazing experience and it shows in the photos. We ended up having a great spread of photos of everything he did but the edit focused on his physique.
Grete is beautiful woman and was probably the most challenging yet rewarding to shoot. I wanted her to look feminine and have the environment and props tell the story. She really is standing in the woods in 15 degrees with a pair of skis in a dress. That’s amazing trust.
Bobby Brown was probably my favorite though. I had him for about 45 mins. Once he came on set he was invested. He was so curious about the process and how he could help make the shot better. Never looked at his watch, never told me he had places to be. A consummate pro – I was really happy he fought through some injuries and made the Olympic team… I’m a Bobby Brown fan for life.

The Daily Edit – Gail Bichler : New York Times Magazine Design Director

- - The Daily Edit

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The New York Times Magazine

Editor: Jake Silverstein
Deputy Editor: Bill Wasik
Design Director: Gail Bichler
Director of Photography: Kathy Ryan

Photo Editor: Christine Walsh
Deputy Photo Editor: Joanna Milter
Photographer:
Johnny Miller
Stylist: Randi Brookman Harris

Heidi:Once your direction was set to show a package of pills received by mail, what were the next steps in the creative process and what was your time frame?
Gail: The next steps were deciding how we wanted to the package to look, thinking about what type of image would best convey our message and then figuring out the best person to shoot that kind of image. We were on a pretty tight time frame, as we usually are since the magazine is weekly. We had about five days to pull the shoot together.

 

 

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Was it this body of work (My Parents Love Letters ) by Johnny Miller that convinced the team he was right for the project? Were there any other considerations and made you choose him? See the full gallery  here
Yes, this was the body of work that made us think of him. We wanted the image to feel very natural and dimensional – to walk the line of being a conceptual image but with the feel of something real. Our photo department had been looking for an opportunity to work with Johnny, and Christine Walsh (the photo editor on the project) and I thought he would be great for this because his work is clean and graphic but still personal.

I loved the small tear in the cover where the bottle is, what other details were taken into consideration to make this image come alive?
A simple image like this is all about the details, so we paid a lot of attention to them. We hired stylist Randi Brookman Harris, with whom we’ve collaborated quite a bit. She sourced a number of different kinds of envelopes and adjusted them to fit the proportions of the cover. We also designed cancellation and metered postage stamps from India (the point of origin for the packages mentioned in the story) and Randi commissioned rubber stamps of them to be applied to the envelopes. We estimated how much a package like this would weigh and accounted for that when fabricating the metered stamp. Randi applied both stamps to the modified envelopes somewhat haphazardly to approximate the way they would appear if they had actually gone through the postal service, and she applied unequal pressure so the ink would vary in density. We placed a square box in the package to give the impression of the volume of the pillbox and began shooting. As the shoot progressed, we also tried versions where we beat up the envelope more, adding wrinkles and smearing the stamps to give the impression that the envelope had been through the mail.

I know from working at news organization there’s prestige and a social responsibility that comes with designing news journalism. How has your role as the Art Director shaped you personally?
There is definitely a social responsibility aspect to working for The New York Times. While there is always a craft and attention to aesthetics that is part of what art directors do, there are also many other considerations when designing news. Under the best circumstances the most eye-catching design is tonally on target, the most arresting photographs correspond with the narrative of the piece, and the most graphic concept for a cover accurately captures the main point of the story, but in cases where that doesn’t happen, conveying the intent and message of the writing sometimes wins out over the aesthetic considerations. I have learned to look past my own viewpoints on the subjects we cover and see the story from varying angles. And in some cases, it’s necessary for me to temper my own goals for the visuals of a piece with what is right for the magazine and the brand of The New York Times. My view of visual story telling and journalism has become much more nuanced.

While I was at The Los Angeles Times Magazine I remembered having moments of being semi paralyzed and in awe of the amount of news being produced on a daily basis. How does the volume of news and your acute awareness effect you as a mother?
The amount of news being generated a daily basis is absolutely dizzying. Particularly in this moment when digital access means that our choices of where to get information have multiplied exponentially. As a mother, I sometimes worry about the easy accessibility of news that is increasingly more violent and graphic. I want to protect my 5-year-old son’s innocence while I can, so I make efforts not to watch or listen to the news around him, because the coverage can quickly shift from a benign topic to something that could be scary for a little person. 

However, I’ve also seen the upsides to the kind of instant access to news and information that we now have. It’s great to be able to satisfy a curious mind not only with a verbal explanation, but also with images. Particularly for a very visual learner like my son. That has never been as easy to do as it is now. As with everything, we take the good with the bad.

The Daily Edit – Flaunt: Scott Pommier

- - The Daily Edit

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                                       Some additional  images from the shoot.

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FLAUNT

Editor in Chief: Luis Barajas
Creative Director:
Jim Turner
Photo Editor: Mui-Hai Chu

Photographer and Director: Scott Pommier
Director of Photography ( video ): Greg Hunt

Heidi: How did this story come about?
Scott: I really wanted to shoot something for Flaunt so I set up a meeting with the photo editor. Pitching a fashion story can be tricky as magazines have their own agenda and their own style. In the past I’ve had magazines interested in my ideas but they just didn’t fit with what they had planned for the foreseeable future and the concepts would wither on the vine. When I met with the photo editor at Flaunt, I brought some work to show, but instead of presenting a specific story, I described my approach to shooting fashion and then we talked about what themed issues they had on the horizon. I told the photo editor that I would put something together for her, and a couple of days later, after meeting up with some stylists, I had a treatment to show. Flaunt was starting to schedule their fall denim issue, they called it ‘The Distress Issue.’ Denim is a very practical material, and you see a lot of streetwear inspired shoots, or vaguely 1950s styling, but I wanted to shoot something that was both dramatic, and cinematic, something with movement. I sat with it for a while, and then started to sketch some thoughts. I had a picture in my head, that ultimately became one of the teaser films, of a woman hanging upside-down from a galloping horse. I’m not sure where I’d seen this stunt but I knew it was common enough amongst rodeo trick-riders. I wanted to change the context a little bit, so that it was less a trick or a stunt but rather a strange and beautiful image.

 
Did the magazine help cast these beautiful girls who also know how to ride?
Once I decided to focus on trick riding, my producer set about finding the talent and location. She found an amazing team of trick riders called “The Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls.” We looked at having them make the trip to LA, but decided that it would be better for the crew to travel as their property was just amazing. It’s at the foot of the Sierras and they had quite a few acres of pretty wild terrain. It was perfect. This meant the crew driving a little over three hours from LA, and staying overnight, but it was worth it.
The stunts were all performed by incredibly experienced riders, some of the best in the world. We added two agency models that we thought could fit with the trick riders.
I love those Peter Lindbergh or Steven Klein shoots that create a whole world. It’s become increasingly common to plunk a pretty lady is placed alongside or in front of something novel. Sometimes that can feel like models are simply decoration. In this case, I didn’t want there to be such a separation, so I tried to plan shots and sequences that would allow the audience to think of all the characters together. Models and horses are a common element in fashion stories, but it’s usually just a model gently patting a horse’s nose, or standing beside a horse, maybe sitting on a stationary horse, but I wanted to create a sense of familiarity. My producer and I did an extensive search for models. We reached out to a number of agencies, NEXT really got behind the idea and sent us some great options. One of the gals actually flew in to do the shoot. Neither of the models had experience with horses, but the trick riders did a great job getting them up to speed. My producer is a long-time equestrian, which was a tremendous advantage. In the end, we were able to shoot one of the models as she laid out flat on her back on one of the horses, her hair draped down meshing with the horse’s tail. In another shot, a model curled up with a horse that had been trained to lay down on his side. The models and the stunt riders were all really brave, and the result is images that go above and beyond what you normally see with this kind of shoot. It would have been a waste to have this kind of access to some of the most talented riders and highly-trained animals on the planet and shoot something that you could have set up in a petting zoo.

How did you capture the footage?
Most of the footage was shot on a tripod or with a 3-way gimbal. I worked with Greg Hunt, a DP that I knew from my days shooting for skateboarding magazines. I needed someone who understood shooting action, someone with whom I shared a common visual language. A friend had put me in touch with a company called PMG Multi-Rotors that had a prototype of a 3-way brushless gimbal called a TYTO. It’s a handheld version of the stabilizer that’s used for drone-helicopter footage. The TYTO is able to handle a RED epic. For the sequence where the camera tracks along with the rider as she hangs upside down from the horse, a maneuver called the ’suicide drag,’ we shot from a mini-van. We paced the horse, and Greg shot out of the side door using the gimbal. Normally these stunts are performed inside a ring, but for the sake of the story we asked if it would be possible to shoot in a field. The field was really bumpy and the minivan was bouncing almost to the point of catching air but the gimbal did an amazing job of stabilizing the shot. The final result is something that until very recently you just wouldn’t have been able to shoot without heroic efforts and huge expense.

 

How much footage did you shoot in order to get these videos?
Greg was rolling the whole time I was shooting, and in a few cases we broke into two units, as we were starting to run out of time. With fashion shoots you have to expect that hair and makeup and clothing changes can take a very long time so even though we shot all day, the amount of time we could spend on each setup was minimal.

What was the most challenging part of this shoot for either the still or motion?
There were a lot of moving parts. We had a small crew and we were trying to get a tremendous amount done in a very short time. Even though the horses are extremely well trained, they’re still animals and are very nervous by their nature. They were dealing with new people, unfamiliar equipment and they were being asked to do things that they don’t normally do. These horses aren’t normally paired with novice riders, they are very responsive and are always waiting for queues from the rider. The hardest thing was to be able to adapt to what the animals were doing. I shot a lot of the story with a Pentax 67, so trying to focus and frame shots up where the models looked natural and in control while the horse below them was reacting to their environment was difficult. But even at it’s most challenging I knew that this is exactly how I wanted to be shooting.

Why is that?
I’ve always had this idea that there’s a value in doing things the hard way, and with photography that value is a little more apparent. We are exposed to so many images that it’s become increasingly important to me to shoot images that stand out. Whether it’s the location, the action, the art direction or the subject, there has to be something compelling, something out of the ordinary.  Naturally there are times when I tread on ground that others have already covered, but I’m trying to elevate what I do, and add a layer of complexity. I’m not interested in stacking accessories on a static model as if they are mannequins, or in shooting someone doing jump kicks on a seamless. I don’t say that to sound superior, it’s just not for me. I’m interested in fashion as a means to an end, the clothing conveys style, but to me the style is more important than the clothing. I like fashion as fantasy and less as commerce.

 

 

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I know you started out shooting skateboarding, was it a natural segue to shoot athletes?
The first pictures I ever shot were action photos. Very early on I was interested in shooting pictures that were like what you’d find in skateboarding magazines. So yeah, that was something that I got very comfortable with. The photograph of Usain Bolt draws heavily on that experience. I was asked to get a shot of Usain taking off out of the blocks, but was told that I could only have five attempts at the shot. Sprinters put everything they’ve got into their starts and with such a hectic schedule leading up to the Olympics his people were really trying to protect him from any injuries. One of the conversations that I’d had with the agency was about the images having their own look and not feeling like a Nike ad. Of course there isn’t any one Nike look, they produce a tremendous amount of work with a wide-range of artist, but I think what they meant was to avoid a very contrasty, very crisp, hyper-real image where you could see every drop of sweat. Having shot a lot of action I was able to set up a lighting scheme that plays with the flash duration, freezing the areas that need to be sharp and allowing the motion to slightly blur others. The first frame I shot was admittedly terrible, I wasn’t used to the timing of the shutter on the camera. The second frame was a success, but I felt we could do a little better,  the third frame is the one you see here.  Plenty of other photographers have shot this exact moment, but it was a fairly high pressure situation. Puma later built a campaign around the image but we had about a five-minutes to light it, and three-minutes to capture it. When you’re shooting something like that you have to be able to see it in your head before you shoot it. I had a reputation for being one of the slower skateboard photographers, there was always pressure to be faster and faster, which was tough as I was trying to light things in increasingly complicated ways.  I think it sped up my decision-making process, so with a solid crew I can work very quickly.


The other thing that skateboarding taught me  was to tread very lightly in other people’s worlds. Every time I’d see a photograph or read a story about skateboarding that an outsider had done, they’d always get it wrong, every single time. They’d get the terminology wrong, or they’d have someone holding their board in some goofy way, or they’d shoot someone doing a trick that they clearly hadn’t landed. I found that very frustrating, so now I do everything I can not to get it wrong when someone shares their world with me. Authenticity is a word that creatives use a lot in reference to my work, and I think part of the reason is that I have a certain level of reverence for what I shoot.

 

 

 

 

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I know you’re doing more directing and motion work, are you trying to get that depth and movement by layering your still images?
I’m not sure that there’s a connection between the motion work and the double-exposures, but I’m always interested in creating images that have visual depth and that have substance. I suppose putting two pictures in the same frame has some affinities with putting two images into a sequence on a time-line, but it’s not something I had in mind. I do tend to shoot people in motion, even if it’s subtle. I’ve had a number of people tell me that some of my pictures are like ‘film stills’ so maybe there has always been some overlap between the two.

I see you’ve split with your agent Webber Represents and who are you with now?
I’m looking for representation in U.S. at the moment. Webber was great, there’s certainly no animosity on either side. It’s just like any relationship, you have to want to grow in the same direction at the same time. Even with the best intentions, that doesn’t always happen. I think a lot of my work fits in between categories, or blurs the lines a bit. The fashion stuff that I shoot borders on portraiture, a lot of the action photos have a fashion influence, overall there’s a bit of an editorial feel to my body of work, but most of my photos are either commercial or personal. I feel that if you look at all my pictures together they make sense, but I can also appreciate that my work is spread across a few different genres. Perhaps it’s easier to sell someone when it’s very clear what they do, like the capital “L” lifestyle photographer who’s going to whip the talent into a frenzy, and shoot them sticking their tongues out, or climbing fences, or pushing one another in shopping carts. I’ve done those kinds of shoots but they’re not what I want to chase. I’ve been busy producing new work, and what I need is an agent who can see where my photography fits in the commercial world. In the meantime I’m certainly not going at it alone. I have a terrific agent in Toronto (Lisa Bonnici) and I just signed with a production company in the U.K. called Mad Cow films, who are representing me for motion work. Sometimes you have to follow your instincts and trust that you’ll be happy with where you end up.

 

The Daily Edit – Michele Romero: Entertainment Weekly

- - The Daily Edit

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Entertainment Weekly

Editor: Matt Bean
Director of Photography: Lisa Berman
Design Director: Tim Leong
Picture Editor: Michele Romero
Photographer: Dylan Coutler

Heidi: Why the split cover run for this issue?
Michele: Magazines do split-run covers whenever the subject can yield a series of photos to communicate a single topic.  So, ESPN’s Body Issue, for example, or GQ’s Coolest Athlete’s of All Time.  EW has done split-run covers for a variety of shows and this is the magazine’s 3rd time doing a split-run series for “The Walking Dead.”  Single images always make better cover photographs than group shots and fans like the idea of “collecting them all”.

What photo direction where you looking for that made you choose Dylan Coulter?
I had liked Dylan’s multiple image photography on athletes and he did some covers on Footballers for The New York Times Magazine for The World Cup.  I admired the videos he did for that cover story.  It reminded me to try and use him.

This was my third time working on “Walking Dead” covers and over time I’ve become somewhat of an expert  on what fans like about this show.  I realized that zombie kills were a type of physical/athletic sport.  The actors are archers and baseball batters and shovel bashers and epic swordsmen/women and they are a team whose goal is to stay alive. The survivors are athletes in the game of knock the head off the zombie.

 
Screen shot 2014-09-09 at 8.17.46 PMHere’s a few of the many multiple images works I used when I was  putting Dylan forward to my bosses.  Edward Muybridge was someone whose work I had in my initial pitch along with some Jazz Musicians that shot this way in the 50s…

 

When you’re photo directing the talent, are you directing the character, the person or both?
Depends on the story.  If we’re shooting Meryl Streep, we’re photographing the actor.  If we are doing a piece on a character, we let the actor do their thing and create that other being.  In some cases, an artist, is a character, you would talk to Paul Reubens about where you want PeeWee Herman to stand, etc.

Did you experience both roles with interacting with the Walking Dead actors?
I communicate to the actors and then we watch as they create the characters.  In this case the actors REALLY get into their roles and it is thrilling and intense to watch the energy that goes into creating that persona.

Here’s my reference for each actor. I had studied their movements before shoot day and did some sketches because each cover had to vary. These were notes that I had taped to the inside of the “studio” space where we were shooting that day.

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Was this a challenging edit, getting the pieces for each cover?
Dylan and I communicated that we’d need what we called a “money shot” for the main image for the cover and that this moment would be fully opaque while the series evolved in varying ghostings behind this main shot.  It was certainly a larger editing process than usual but my boss, Lisa Berman, reminded me that we were producing four covers that week.  I did not leave the office for a month before 10pm.

Was it predetermined where the cover lines would fall so you could use the full cover space?
No, type is never predetermined before a shoot comes in, but I have learned to always leave room for it.  Tim Leong, our Design Director, made the handwritten type himself for this cover.

There’s a lot of energy ( and blood ) on these covers, describe the mood on set. ( music and so on… )
This was my third time on a “Walking Dead” set and we were on location in Atlanta where the new season takes place.  We set up shop in a warehouse on a gorgeous wreck of a broken train repair yard from the early 1900s. It was old and falling apart and for photography, it was beautiful.  I’ve also never been so hot in my life.
The great thing about this show is everyone wants to give Entertainment Weekly 1000 percent.  The actors work harder than anyone and that energy was definitely captured by Dylan on film (well, digital pixels).  Norman Reedus played Mötörhead for his setup.  Andrew Lincoln cranked Metallica and the duo of Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan were moving to The Black Keys new record.  The only noise during Danai Gurira’s shoot was the sound of her blade slicing through the air.  It was thrilling to watch them all in action.

You deal with celebrities all the time, when’s the last time you’ve been star struck? ( if ever ).
I get excited to work with people and have been privileged to have experiences that are meaningful to me.  You treasure these moments.  If I like someone’s work I am grateful that I get to tell them this fact.  Sometimes I’ve had artists make music in front of me and I definitely “OMG” to myself quietly.  Oh who am I trying to kid, I WORKED WITH DAVID BOWIE.  Yep, he struck me as a star.  When he walked into the studio it was like the sun lit up the whole room.  He was an A+ professional and ate lunch with the crew.  I stole the napkin he used to wipe chicken off his hands so in the future I could make a genetic copy of David Bowie.  I’m sorry, what were we talking about?

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job aside from the schedule.
Working with uncooperative people.

Did you choose that warehouse location because the crew had shot there before and they were familiar?
The location is Terminus on the show.  AMC happened to be shooting there and we got our own spot on that lot as well. AMC shot their ad campaign and Gallery Art/Specials on the same weekend we got time with the cast in Atlanta.

Tell me about the gallery feel you created on set, I know Dylan found this very helpful to set the tone.
Photographer, Art Streiber and my boss Lisa Berman actually taught me about having references up on the day of a shoot.  I sketch cover concepts sometimes and get these pitches to the talent or the network/record label when we’re in concept discussions.  Since we don’t have talent for very long it helps if you can quickly show them what you’re up to.  There is no way to explain a multiple exposure to someone but as soon as they see it they get excited.  I had a pretty great (and decrepit) gallery space.  Dylan and I joked that it would be a great loft space someday.  It was a Dylan Coulter show in a Zombie Apocalypse setting.  No wine and cheese though, but lots of zombie blood.

 Screen shot 2014-09-09 at 8.17.08 PMThis is a wall  of Dylan’s work.  It was great to get to show everyone from Norman Reedus to Exec Producer Greg Nicotero what we were up to–once people saw Dylan’s work they gave us more ideas and toys to play with.

Why did you chose a concept cover for The Walking Dead?
For a show like The Walking Dead I didn’t want to repeat a “hero pose” so Dylan’s work was a great way to make this action show dimensional.  It was something new to get to fans and it worked out really well.

The Daily Edit – Jennifer Robbins: Gotham Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

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Gotham Magazine

Art Director: Anastasia Tsioutas Casaliggi
Photo Director: Lisa Rosenthal Bader
Photographer: Jennifer Robbins

Heidi: Your work is vibrating with energy, how do you create that on set?
Jennifer: Honestly, part of it is my natural state. People used to think I was on drugs because I was always go-go-go.  I think they’ve finally discovered what that’s called – ADHD – there’s  medication for it, which has been suggested.  (laughs) However I’m not that interested in taming it if it means turning into an automaton. I know going into these shoots that my energy has to be up, I mean, this is part of the reason I’ve been hired. So like any prerequisites for a job, this is one of mine.
For instance:

-I get to the set early and talk to everyone
-I bring my portfolio because at times, people may not have seen my work and often that’s enough to get people excited, it gives them a road map as to what is expected and where we’re headed together
-A lot of times it’s music
-Every once in awhile glass of champagne or wine can help
-I’m enthusiastic and effusive as I’m shooting and “getting the shot”
-I jump up and down, dance and I’m usually audible in my self-congratulatory behavior ( laughs )
-I also believe when people are looking at pictures, they are smart enough to know about the sixth sense… to feel when something is forced or saccharine.
-The reality is it’s fun to be a photographer and I do a few things to establish the kind of energy I need.

I’m pretty clear with models ahead of time about what I’m asking from them and when I see them “modeling” a lot of times I just put the kibosh on that pretty quickly. These are already beautiful people, so what?  They are already “pretty” I’m interested in what attraction for the viewer they can create.  I love women (and men) who are not afraid to flirt, stop worrying about whether you look good, clearly you look pretty good to be a model, now let’s have some real fun.

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Jennifer on Set

Inevitability shoots can hit an energetically low.  How do you overcome that?

As a photographer you know that at some point it’s going to come, the lull, so accepting it and not letting the wheels fall completely off the cart is a good. There are a few coping tools I use.
The first thing I do is to blow off a little steam is text my best friend and write “kill me” just to vent it. Once that’s done, I go back to work realizing I’ve got some creative problem solving to do, I can’t have a temper tantrum in the corner just because it’s not fun.

At the end of the day, it’s a job and no matter what, I promised to deliver.  Sometimes I’m honest with it and say, “Okay everybody let’s get our shit together and push on through!” inevitably we do hit an energetic low after lunch. This is exactly why I always hate having to stop for lunch!  Without fail everybody goes into a food coma and it does make my job a lot harder.

I just can’t get sucked into the undertow of blah, as the photographer, it’s not an option.  Now, when the subject is an energetic suck and no matter what music, level of energy, joke or how social I try to be, sometimes you just don’t connect, and that’s fine.  In those circumstances I have to rely on something else and that’s composition, I look at body lines, make aggressive crops. It’s much more interesting to me to reveal maybe only part of the overall scene. Understanding how to compose that and still tell a story is what I love.

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Your work is about glamorous, sexy women and their appeal,  what element does being a female photographer bring?
I’m not sure it’s incredibly profound but my mother was a fashion illustrator for The New York Times as well as department stores.  I was born in Manhattan and use to go to clubs and had pretty friends and at 19 wanted to be super pretty, sexy and be all those things young girls want at that age.
I spent a lot of time doing makeup, wearing skirts about 4 inches long, slinking around in high heels and getting into Mars and Limelight at 15. So some of it was just there for the taking… meaning the glamour, it’s NYC, it’s just more available than in many parts of the country, and it was fun. I used to go out and dance five nights a week! The visuals of a crowded nightclub and people having fun was imprinted in my mind before I ever knew that would be my style.

Plus I have no desire to sleep with my  subjects (who are usually women) so I think in that way the women I photograph can relax into every element of themselves without feeling too self-conscious or that there are any ulterior motives on my end.
 Everyone wants to look good in photos, who wants to look like crap? I make this promise with all  my subjects, simply put, my photos are not saving lives, it’s about feeling beautiful, being photographed and enjoying the process.

I think there’s a certain importance and value to beauty in this world, so much of our daily lives we are inundated with sadness and heartbreak of humanity. Beauty can make us smile and be an escape. I’m not laboring under the notion that somehow I’m curing cancer. I have a realistic perspective on my career and I think that contributes to loosening up the reins a bit and having some fun while doing a great job.

Your work is a wonderful blend of voyeurism and inclusion. How did living with a  documentary photographer change the way you shoot?
Aside from a being a brilliant photographer he taught me two important things. One was the use of  wide-angle lenses and how composition could either move a story along, convey a story, or be the story.  For a while I used a 24 millimeter lens with my “fashion” and it lent itself to a more cinematic, narrative tone.  The other important lesson I got from him was the simplicity of lighting and how to manipulate ambient light with strobe.

As a photojournalist you can’t stop and ask somebody for a do over when you’re covering real people in real-time.

Ultimately that’s how I work now, I love to roll around on the floor or get underneath a table or jump up onto a bar and the only way I can do that is to be unencumbered by my equipment because with my photographic style, just a second of having to rework something because I need to move my lights around can kill the shot.

What as the hardest part of this story for Gotham?
Actually, the hardest thing about this project was the logistics.  It was shot in just two days in different boroughs.  There was so much driving in the worst kind of NY conditions. I had no assistant, and I was carrying all my own gear, so was hard to go from the logistical obstacles to Creative Director!

I had such limited time to come in, find my location and get the shot. Any photographer knows its hard to have all the images hang together in a collection when shooting so many different unknown locations, there’s not set plan. I made sure to give the client several options for each portrait so we could have options for the edit. I love Gotham as a client, they have a lot of faith in me, I’m grateful for that. Subsequently the more freedom they’ve  given me, the happier everyone involved has been with the images.

I know you’re working a personal project shooting plus girls? Tell me about it.
Right now I am laying the groundwork for exploring the world of Plus Size girls. I realize it sounds a little weird as if they’re some other species but unfortunately the world really is divided like that. A few years ago I had my first foray into working with plus size models for Ashley Stewart. I worked with two of the best girls out there: Marquita Pring and Tara Lynn both of whom had posed nude for Steven Meisel for the cover and an editorial in Italian Vogue. While I was fortunate enough to work with the top girls what has stayed with me years later was the experience of their freedom in their bodies and their acceptance of not fitting into what most of us have been conditioned to think is normal but actually is unattainable. For years I said I wanted to work with plus size girls more and more but it doesn’t just materialize. I’ve realized that I have to take it into my own hands and explore this world creatively on my own. Right now I’m in the preliminary stages of exploring what plus size fashion looks like in my style.

As someone who was inundated with this world of fashion that’s compromised of skinny and young, I’ve reached a limit of finding that interesting anymore and personally feeling like the separatism women have.There’s skinny-girl-fun which usually includes skinny dipping, jean shorts and really hot guys around and then there’s the rest of us behemoth-girls-fun often limited to diet coke and bowling or some shit, full piece bathing suits with built in skirts and other “normal-sized” women. Lame.

I think that as I get older I am far more interested in the variety of beauty, personally the kind of work I do I definitely needs women who are confident, comfortable and happy with who they are because that energy comes through in the work.

I’m looking for an added dimension to a woman’s beauty and that only comes from inside, who they are who or who they want to be. In acceptance is their freedom and in that, is my enjoyment of photographing them.

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During your career you spent time in both LA and NY, which has served you better and what are the differences creatively?
Ah, The Los Angeles vs. New York conversation.  It’s an unavoidable comparison that gets made in all facets of living in either city. The truth is, as a native New Yorker you would hope that your hometown would be the biggest cheerleader, but in actuality Los Angeles has been so supportive of me from the beginning of my career and it continues to hold that reception for me.

I started my career in Los Angeles on a whim vacation. Detour magazine hired me on the spot and I started shooting a lot of celebrities/covers which obviously brought in a lot more work.  My current agent Marilyn Cadenbach is based in Los Angeles and some of my best jobs were shot in Los Angeles not necessarily for clients from Los Angeles, Nieman Marcus is a good example of that.

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Clearly the pool of models is different because of the Hollywood factor. There are more actresses available and for me that’s ideal.  I’m looking for someone who can go beyond their looks, embody a character that I need in order to get the job done, get the feeling I’m in search of.

For obvious reasons the weather in Los Angeles has always aided in successful photo shoots, blue skies and warm weather don’t often interfere with the kind of projects I’m out there to do. Aside from the convenience of the weather in Southern California the topography of LA just lends itself to a different aesthetic.

You’re a self described energy ball. Where does that come from and why did you choose to channel that into photography?
Where does my energy come from? My answer may just be a result of many years is therapy but maybe its a combination of things. My parents are extremely funny  and even divorced they’re great friends. My grandparents were WWII generation,  tough people.  My grandfather didn’t believe in being bored, if I told him I was bored that he would say it’s because I’m boring! I love that. Also I was an only child so it required a lot of energy to entertain myself. My mom is really silly, she would make up the most ridiculous names for our cats (names: akkaduka, mafalda, scapaloopalah, piscina, inky, bialystock, bloom, Olaf and shitka) or for anything really and I think she passed on silliness which is a part of myself that I enjoy, it’s the part that keeps me young. Maybe it’s being a Leo? Maybe it’s just more fun than being NOT energetic?

I don’t know that it was a conscious choice to be a photographer.  I was always an artist of some sort and I did know I was creative. I remember my mother had Helmut Newton photo books in the house I was intrigued and fascinated by his work but even then I wasn’t thinking about becoming a photographer, I was still quite young.

I found photography when I was at NYU. Originally it was because I ran out of classes to take. To my surprise I liked photography immediately, experimented alot and had many girlfriends who were willing to pose for me, so I shot all the time. When I realized this was something I can do as a job I thought, “That’s awesome!” and at 21 I really thought I was the greatest photographer! Mainly because at the time my work looked so different from what was going  on at NYU where fashion was looked down on, the trend was to shoot on the street, typically black and white photos of the homeless.

I liked that my work didn’t look like everyone else’s, and despite having a professor who gave me a B- for three consecutive semesters, I still thrived.  She took photos of dead people, literally. So what did I expect with my half-naked red lipstick girls pouring milk over their heads while smoking a cigarette?!?

Steven Lippman: Husband/Father/Athlete/Artist/Humanitarian

- - The Daily Edit
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Self portrait in a back side tube
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Layback.  Photo: Justin Mehren
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Tube time. Photo: Evan Conway
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Hand plant 13 years old  Photo:  Bill Sharp
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Carve. Photo: Bill Sharp… Now

 

Steven Lippman

Personal Site: Steven Lippman Print + Film
Agency Site: Stockland Martel
Instagram: stevenlippman

Heidi: Once and athlete always an athlete. You were a competitive skater and surfer on a pro level for most of your life. How often do you currently train?

Steven: I’ve been skating since I was 9 and I still skate pools and half pipes. I’ve been surfing since I was 16, still love surfing here in Malibu whenever I can, and I surf remote waves all around the world.
My training time varies because of family and work of course. I have an amazing wife and two children that I love spending time with. My daughter is 22 and my son is 6, I’m so proud. My daughter is about to enter the working world with the same ethics I’m teaching my son. Be respectful of your surroundings, be the best person you can, be active and do the things you love. My son and I ride BMX, surf, he takes karate, he’s so full of life! I mountain bike and surf with my daughter. Anyone in my position knows that you are at the mercy of spontaneous moments, family is dynamic, and they come before my love of sport. My wife is an amazing cook, we eat healthy, I’m so lucky. It’s important for me to stay healthy and limber. All of those assets transcend into my personal and work life.

I know you are a dedicated father and husband, do home and work life blend? How does  it all fit in?
As I mentioned it’s about seizing pockets of time and being able to roll with them. Yes, my home and work life blend, they have to. My studio/office is part of my home and I chose that situation so I’m not away from my family any more then I have to be. When I have a break in work, we can be together and if they need me, I’m right here. It’s the best of both worlds and a juggling act to fit it all in, but it’s about making time for everything in life that’s important to you and designing your environment around that.
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Family Portrait in Costa Rica
kids
Ryder and Reilley morning time
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Mountain biking with my daughter
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My son, Ryder
I know you’ve been busy with work, what are you up to these days?
I just finished  big projects with Leo Burnett, Showtime, Fry Boots and I’m doing a TV commercial for Griffith products. I feel so grateful when clients hire me for my entire skill set and are open to ideas/collaborating. Unfortunately I don’t have any creative I can share from those just yet, though here’s a selection of my editorial, advertising and directing work.
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ESPN BODY ISSUE
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James Pearse
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Ed Hardy
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Lifestyle
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Lifestyle
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No Bad Days
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Surfing as a form of healing and therapy is a running theme in your life of giving back. I see you are Vice President of Operations for A Walk on Water (their primary goal is to share the therapeutic powers of the ocean through surf therapy for special needs children and their families) How do you organize your time to accomplish all of this?
I handle this the same way I do my work/family life. I flow with it and I’m dedicated. It’s organic and I make it all fit.
My love of surfing and skating shaped my career, they are intertwined. Prior to my photography and directing I was a model and surf/skate competitor documenting my friends and my life on the road, this is where I developed my eye.
I have so much to be grateful for from my surf/skate life. Once I focused more on my photography/directing career, I wanted to maintain the connection to my roots. For A Walk on Water I can transcend all my directing skills into producing big events, it’s a natural segway for me.
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Photo: Cat Gergory

My son Ryder, and our friend Sully whose father is Pat Notaro, founder of A Walk on Water.

You are also part of the The Blue Project (a nonprofit looking to  preserve the world’s oceans by rallying like minded people and educating the public) as well as an Ambassador for Surf Aid International, Life Rolls On, (a program dedicated to improving the life of kids with spinal cord injuries)  on Surfer’s Healing which specializes in autistic children. It takes a special type of person to volunteer and be such a giving ambassador, what speaks to you about these projects and how does this surface in your commercial and personal work?

It’s a constant reminder of how grateful I am for the life I’ve enjoyed and created for myself and family. Being able to see that same joy in a parents eye when their child catches a wave or simply enjoys the freedom of the ocean is an amazing experience for me. These projects bring me joy, ground me, and always drive me to the search for the truest meaning of reaching one’s potential.  To be 100% honest, I had founded the Blue Project, as time passed I simply couldn’t do it all, so that is currently on hold for the moment, there’s only so much I can do alone. There’s simply not enough time for me to do all I’d like to do, and do it well. What’s great about these interviews is that I have an opportunity to inspire people to get involved in the programs and events in the hopes they gain momentum and succeed.


The Daily Edit – Max S. Gerber iPhone Promo

- - The Daily Edit

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iPhone  Promo

18×18” square, printed on uncoated text stock

Photographer:  Max S. Gerber
Instagram: @msgphoto

How difficult was it to edit down to 81 images of the 700 you shot?
Actually, I stopped counting after 700, so I’m guessing I’m near 800 by now. But yes, the editing and selection was difficult. From the beginning the important thing for me was that it not seem to be about any one picture, or about any one individual. That goes for putting the promo together and also for the project as a whole. Anyone I come across under the right circumstances – that is, the light and environment – I’ll ask if I can take a photo of them,  over time it became rather democratic.

The promo poster is a 9×9 grid of 81 portraits in total. Since I caption each individual image with the person’s first name and occupation only, when trying to get an edit that represents an overview of the larger project, who the people are mattered to me a lot. To edit them I just went through and picked out the shots that either had special meaning to me because of my relationships with the people in the photos, or I chose people who just had remarkable faces. Unfortunately that didn’t narrow it down altogether too much. Nearly everyone’s face is fascinating, depending on what you’re looking for. I think my initial edit had something around 150 images, and then was further narrowed down from there. I built it like a jigsaw puzzle. It was a lot of shuffling things around at first, but then I worked out of anchor points. The corners were important. The middle edges were important. The center of the poster was important.

When approaching the layout of the grid I wanted mostly to make sure that no one area drew too much attention. This thing is not about any one person. You should be able to look at it and focus on something – someone – different each time. Also, to be honest, I’m very aware of the potential to be messing with things indefinitely. At a certain point you have to just call it done and move on with your life. With any promo I’m absolutely certain I’m agonizing over details far more than anyone who will actually receive it.

How did you decide what images were edited into each row? Was there a mix you were looking for?
Yes, definitely. I wanted a good mix of male and female, and a good mix of different visual types of people and different occupations. I have everything from students and laborers, kids to CEOs, actors and even a Nobel prize winner. Like I said, the primary goal was to make it so that no one person, regardless of who they are or what they do, took precedence over another. Of course, everyone’s eye settles somewhere at first and I’m always interested to see which pictures stand out to people. It’s always different.

In laying out each row I just had to attempt not to cluster similar types. For example, I like that the Nobel prize winner is sandwiched between a PA and a security guard. It’s an equalizer.

How long had you been working on this series and is it still ongoing?
I took the first picture that could arguably be said to be part of the series in the early summer of 2012. I was introduced to instagram by Charlie Hess, an art director here in LA, and did the standard thing that people did at the beginning of instagram – pictures of my wife, my cat, my lunch, etc. It was great fun and taking snapshots was very liberating at first. After I took the first real portrait using this processing method, I looked at it in the overall instagram grid of what I was doing previously and thought it might be cool to try to get a whole row to match up. So I did a couple more and liked it. Then, of course, I thought it would look cooler if I could get the whole screen of thumbnails to match, and it kind of took off from there. Honestly, I didn’t expect it to continue for so long and I didn’t expect people to respond to it. At the time I was doing a lot of corporate photography that I wasn’t very invested in personally. The instagram portraits became something I could do for myself under my own parameters that reminded me what I love about portrait photography.

The project is definitely still ongoing. After 50 portraits I found myself actively looking for people every day. After 100 I started to get a good idea of what types of things would work – what environments, what light, what clothing, what type of people. After 200 portraits I started to appreciate the sheer scope of the people I’d encounter. I assume that one day I’ll stop doing these portraits – that I’ll either get bored of them, or the various apps I use to process them will cease to be supported. Every time I consider moving on to something else, though, I find someone with such a remarkable face that I’m sucked right back in.

Carmelo, doorman

Carmelo, doorman

Kyle, auto body tech

Kyle, auto body tech

Sharky, student

Sharky, student

Sergio, shop foreman

Sergio, shop foreman

Daniel, carpenter

Daniel, carpenter

Jose, carpenter

Jose, carpenter

Dwain, neuroscientist

Dwain, neuroscientist

I heard your filters are proprietary, do you have plans to develop and license this?
Ha! I suppose it says a lot about my business acumen that this has never occurred to me before.
Short answer: No. Long answer: No, because focusing on the how distracts from the why. From the beginning the most common question I heard was “Hey, man, what filter is that?” and right away that distracted from the point for me. When I look at all the portraits together it’s not the commonality of processing that’s interesting to me, it’s the commonality of people. The specific parameters of the style I chose to spit them out into the world hopefully makes them seem nifty enough to look at closer, and democratizes them. Everyone treated the same way – same crop, same process, similar light. Everyone as a group.

All the photos are shot and edited fully in the iPhone. I think if people knew how straightforward it really was they’d be disappointed. In truth it’s not one filter, it’s a combination of things through a handful of different apps. It’s just a process I stumbled upon accidentally and sort of liked enough to try again. Photography seems to suffer somewhat from being an inherently technical medium. Everyone looks for the trick rather than for the intent. Tricks come and go, and ultimately trends fade and shift and blend into each other. But I totally get it. I understand that feeling of seeing a picture and being struck by the wizardry of it and wanting to know how it’s done. That’s part of the wonder that a technically based medium affords. It’s great, when it doesn’t overtake the intention of the photo. I see this from photo students a lot. They figure out Photoshop, or they learn to crank the clarity slider all the way up to 100, or they figure out how to use edge lights.  All. The. Time. Rather than taking pictures that have emotional meaning or strive for connection they instead have . . . a look. That said, I completely understant. There’s a lot of noise out there and it’s incredibly difficult to get noticed in this business. Having a look gets you in the door, but then there’s got to be something else.

Then again, maybe you’re right? Maybe I should reveal the trick and license it, perhaps that would free me to go on to the next thing. I think I’d miss doing it, though.

How did you select your subjects?
One of the nice things about the instagram portraits is that they’re truly not for anyone but myself. I didn’t start taking them with an eye toward making a promo, toward impressing an art director, toward pleasing a client, toward satisfying a subject. I just liked straightforward portraits, found a process that worked for me, and wanted to pay more attention to the people in my life. That’s really what it boils down to now, after so many. Photography has long been used as a tool for memory, and it’s been really wonderful having this record of all the people I encounter. I remember things better this way. I remember names. I remember where we were. I remember what we talked about. Without being vigilant for the next face I worry that sometimes the days would just blend into each other too much, if that makes any sense.

In terms of selecting subjects. . .well. . . first of all, any person that comes to my house during daylight hours is pretty much fair game, as far as I’m concerned. That’s why I’ve got so many pictures of handymen and contractors and cable installers and plumbers and such. My wife is very patient with me doubling back into a store or down a street to ask a stranger if I could take their picture while she waits. Someone on my feed recently commented “I love how you collect people”, and I hadn’t really thought of it like that, but maybe that’s what it is. Charlie Hess refers to it as my Family of Man, though that seems fairly lofty to me. I just like taking portraits with my phone. It’s great fun, even when other aspects of photography are not great fun.

How long did each portrait take, describe the process please.
I have a very low rate of refusal. Out of 800 or so subjects I think I’ve been turned down maybe 20-30 times. I consider that quite good. The actual process is very simple, and usually takes only around 30 seconds to a few minutes, depending on how chatty we’re all feeling. Some open shade or a good window, and a plain white wall, that’s it. I try to keep it as simple as possible so that the person can be the interesting thing. I don’t want it to be about the light or the environment.

We live in an age where people are hyper aware of the power of their image, of what it can be used for and how far it can travel away from them. People are cautious, and rightly so. Still, I think the fact that I’m shooting on my phone negates some of people’s suspicions. Certainly if I were walking around with a Canon and a 24-70mm lens trying to do the same thing I’d get shut down far more often. Everyone has an iPhone and everyone takes pictures with it all the time. It’s perceived as no big deal. I have a grid of about 30 of the photos on my phone’s lock screen and if someone asks why I want to take their picture I usually just show them my phone and say “Oh, I’ve done about 700 of these.” Which, of course, is not a reason at all, but that usually is all it takes. I think that because there are so many, and I tell potential subjects that there are so many, it both relieves them of the pressure and also gives them just enough attention that it’s incentive to proceed. That is, sure, it’s a little momentary ego boost, and then they can get lost in the crowd if they’re not thrilled with the result. At least, I think so. It probably also helps that i’m a short, scrawny man who seems vaguely non-threatening.

How did you take your portrait?
I took that on my birthday in 2012. Honestly I don’t know why I did a profile that day, maybe just to accent my out of control bedhead. In terms of using it on the reverse of the promo poster, that was a somewhat last minute decision. Initially I wanted to do a grid of silhouettes with captions to mimic the grid on the front of the poster. That proved to be too difficult in light of my limited Photoshop skills, low patience level and also because I was afraid it would bleed through too much once the final piece was printed. Ultimately in deciding to just put one larger photo and captions on the back it always seemed like it would be a self portrait. If I chose just one of the random 800 to make larger it would give that one person too much weight and it didn’t really make sense. Then again, now that i’m talking about it, it sure does seem egotistical to make my own head the biggest thing there, doesn’t it? I think I chose that one because I wanted it to be decidedly different from the main group. That profile makes me laugh, reminds me that I should get a haircut more often, and hopefully doesn’t seem too serious.

Has this promo been well received and gotten you some work?
I’ve printed 1000 pieces. I printed so many because separate even from photo editors and art directors/buyers/whatnot, I want to make sure that the people who actually like this series of pictures have the opportunity to get a poster. Therefore a lot of my first run of mailing was to non-potential-clients, some of whom I know personally, some not, who I just thought would enjoy having it. I plan to mail out approximately 600-800 or so. I’ve already sent out about 75 and gotten a pretty good response, mostly from people I already know. I’m in the process of addressing and sending out the remainder – which I’m doing by hand, therefore it’s taking a long time. Probably not the best plan, now that I think about it, but it feels so much better. Again, little details that nobody cares about except me. I still maintain that the survival rate of all of these promo pieces that photographers send out is so abysmally low that unless you’re doing something almost entirely for yourself because you want it to exist in the world as an object somewhere, then there’s really no point. I’m fully aware that 90% of them are destined for the trash. Life is an impermanent thing. I would be sending them out a whole lot faster, but at the moment I’ve been distracted by a week old infant. These portraits are at @msgphoto – The cutest newborn the world has ever seen is at @miloandclark.

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What are you typically shooting these days?
Most recently portraiture. I’ve photographed Frank Gehry for El Semenal, the largest Sunday magazine in Spain. Earlier this week I photographed a trauma surgeon in a specially configured operating room partially funded by the DOD for a hospital research magazine here in Los Angeles. Unfortunately those publications haven’t yet gone to print so I can’t share the photos. Most of my clients have long publication cycles, but here are a couple of relatively recent things.

Nicholas, 29 year old stomach cancer patient, for Discoveries Magazine

Nicholas, 29 year old stomach cancer patient, for Discoveries Magazine

Dr. Arieh Warshel, 2013 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, photographed for USC

Dr. Arieh Warshel, 2013 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, photographed for USC

DL Hughley for New Wave Entertainment/DVD Cover (out-take)

DL Hughley for New Wave Entertainment/DVD Cover (out-take)

 
Dan Curry, Visual Effects Supervisor for the Star Trek TV shows, photographed for Middlebury College.

Dan Curry, Visual Effects Supervisor for the Star Trek TV shows, photographed for Middlebury College.

The Daily Edit – ESPN/ The Body Issue : Karen Frank

- - The Daily Edit

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ESPN


VP Creative Digital and Print Media:
John Korpics
Senior Director of Photography: Karen Frank
Creative Director: Chin Wang
 Magazine Art Director: John Yun
Senior Deputy Photo Editor: Nancy Weisman
Project Photo Editor: Kristen Schaefer Geisler

Heidi: What type of body celebration are you looking for from each of these shoots?
Karen: We’re looking to celebrate the athletic form – in all shapes and sizes. our goal is to capture the personality of each subject as well, and to create an intimate, intensely personal and radically different look at the most amazing bodies in the world.

Describe some of the considerations that go into choosing a final image. Do some of the images share the same attributes?
The body issue is about a six-month production. the first shoot happened in early January, and the last shoot in mid-June. we edit the shoots as they come in, and look for the strongest images overall. when we have a majority of the shoots, we take a look at the collection and edit for a mix of different moods and styles throughout the portfolio. it’s important to us to have a good amount of the images show the athlete engaged in his or her sport. we find that this really frees them up to be less self-conscious about being naked, and has made for some dramatic images and some beautiful locations. coco ho surfing in hawaii, ginger huber cliff diving in Texas, NigelSylvester with his bmx bike in an abandoned construction disposal site in Los Angeles, and Jimmy Spithill sailing in San Francisco harbor are some examples of this.

With a 6 month long production, is it hard to loose the flow? Do you revisit your previous shoots to refresh yourself?
Although it was a long production, the shoots seemed to happen in a fairly steady flow.  we did look back as new shoots came in, but we also kept in mind what we had already shot as we made new assignments.  it was exciting to see how everything came together.

Is this one of your most challenging edits?  If so why?
Yes, and no.

No, because the athletes we photograph are stunning, and each of them are totally committed to making strong images. the energy and integrity that they bring to the shoot is reflected in the images, and there are always lots of great shots to choose from. plus how lucky am i to be editing images of amazing bodies?

Yes, because the athletes who participate are taking a risk when they sign up for this. we want to honor that by choosing images that best reflect their strength, beauty and personality. Often – but not always – the athletes see the images on set, and have a strong opinion about their favorite images. there are a few – and it always surprises me – who choose not to look at the images, who completely trust in the process and are confident that we’ll represent them at their best. they put so much into it, and it’s difficult to choose just one image from the many strong options.

Fortunately, we run an extended online gallery where we get to share images that don’t make it into the magazine.
http://espn.go.com/espn/photos/gallery/_/id/11143740/image/1/venus-williams-bodies-want

In one of the behind the scenes galleries, you have poses sketched out on a paper plate, besides this sketch what other interesting reference was supplied by either the photographer or the athlete?
Peter Hapak sent us photo reference of a wood paneled gymnasium, reminiscent of an old Adirondack camp.  he asked that we try to find a basketball court like that for our shoot with Serge Ibaka.  we eventually did find the perfect place – it was an old court on the top floor of a church in Brooklyn. Mark Williams + Sara Hirakawa really wanted to shoot bob sledder Aja Evans on location rather than in studio and had their hearts set on a space that felt sleek and aerodynamic, like Aja’s state-of-the-art bob sled.  they sent images of airplane hangars, and we ended up doing the shoot in a private airplane hangar at the Danbury, Connecticut Airport.
Travis and Lyn-z Pastrana had some very specific ideas about shots we could try and they had a jump built specifically for the shoot.  unfortunately, we weren’t able to use it on the day of the shoot due to the rain.  but the rain did make for some excellent mud, and they enjoyed having a mud fight with each other!

Can you share the process that happens for choosing the athletes and the appropriate photographer?
We worked with an extraordinary group of photographers on this portfolio: Mark Williams + Sara Hirakawa, Richard Phibbs, Morgan Maassen, Carlos Serrao, Peter Hapak, Martin Schoeller, Alexei Hay, Dean Treml, Art Streiber, Finlay Mackay, Max Vadukul, Paola Kudacki, Peggy Sirota, and Steven Lippman.

We take the athletes personalities into consideration when choosing photographers for the shoots. as with any shoot, but even more so in this case, it’s really important to create an atmosphere of comfort and trust. the athletes’ trust in the photographers with whom they are paired and willingness to reveal themselves is evident in the images that result from these collaborations.

We look at photographers who are at the top of their field for some of the action sports. Morgan Maassen who photographed surfer coco ho is an example. Morgan grew up surfing, is well-respected among the surf community, and has a cult following of devoted fans.

How much discussion is there about the actual body language prior to the shoot? Are details reviewed with each athlete or does it unfold organically?
There is lots of discussion that happens prior to the shoot. Some athletes are very involved from the beginning stages before they even arrive on set, and contribute ideas about how they’d like to be photographed. the Pastrana’s are an example of this. Martin Schoeller photographed them at their home in Maryland where all of their “toys” (bikes, boards, jumps and pits, etc.) were at our disposal. we were conceptualizing ideas with them months in advance. they were invested in, and part of, the creative process which fostered the collaboration and feeling of trust that we hope for. their willingness to try anything and their fun-loving spirit really comes through in the photos.

Were you on set and what can you share?
Yes. What amazes me, year after year, is the great energy and spirit of fun that happens on the body shoot sets. there’s always a bit of nervousness and trepidation at the beginning of the shoot, but it quickly dissolves and the athletes, in general, become very comfortable being naked. We try to keep the set intimate when the shooting begins. some athletes prefer a closed set, and need time to warm up to the process. others arrive ready to go, and have absolutely no inhibitions about posing naked.

There are lots of fun moments that happen on set. for the past two years, we’ve created a behind-the-scenes gallery from the shoots.

http://espn.go.com/espnw/photos/gallery/_/id/11139818/image/1/venus-williams-scenes-body-2014

Did you have styling on set or just props?
We have a glam squad on set (hair, makeup, manicurist), a prop stylist, and sometimes set designers as well. An example of this is the Angel McCoughtry shoot where a silver basketball court was constructed within the set designer’s studio warehouse in Atlanta.

I had been on nude set recently.  I remember having some anxiety days before the shoot. It all seemed to fade away once I was actually on set and in production, business as usual. I glanced towards the talent wearing just a belt and heels thinking,  “Aren’t you….cold?” Did you have any matter of fact thoughts?
The biggest practical concerns i have are about the safety of the athletes and the photo crew. It was pouring rain in Graford, Texas on the day of our photo shoot with Ginger Huber, and the rocks were slick. Jimmy Spithill sailed in the frigid San Francisco bay on the windiest day of the year, he had to stop often to warm up and avoid hypothermia.

What type of range were you looking for from the collection? ( sport to body type? )
We look to represent a wide range of sports and body types in the portfolio. this year, we showcased athletes in tennis, football, surfing, bmx biking, soccer, rallycross, skateboarding, basketball, baseball, cliff diving, swimming, boxing, bob sled, snowboarding, hockey, and sailing.

 

If you had to choose an adjective for the body issue what would it be?
Revealing

 

 

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Travis + LynZ Pastrana photographed by Martin Schoeller

 

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Venus Williams photographed by Williams + Hirakawa

 

 

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Larry Fitzgerald photographed by Richard Phibbs

 

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Larry Fitzgerald photographed by Richard Phibbs

 

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Coco Ho photographed by Morgan Maassen

 

 

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Coco Ho photographed by Morgan Maassen

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Megan Rapinoe photographed by Peter Hapak

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Nigel Sylvester photographed by Carlos Serrao

 

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Nigel Sylvester photographed by Carlos Serrao

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Serge Ibaka photographed by Peter Hapak

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Prince Fielder photographed by Alexei Hay

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Ginger Huber photographed by Dean Treml

 

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Angel McCoughtry photographed by Art Streiber

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Michael Phelps photographed by Carlos Serrao

 

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Michael Phelps photographed by Carlos Serrao

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Danyelle Wolf photographed by Peter Hapak

 

 

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Omar Gonzalez photographed by Finlay MacKay

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Aja Evans photographed by Williams+Hirakawa

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Tomas Berdych photographed by Max Vadukul

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Amy Purdy photographed by Paola Kudacki

 

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Bernard Hopkins photographed by Max Vadukul

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Marshawn Lynch photographed by Carlos Serrao

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Jamie Anderson photographed by Peggy Sirota

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Hilary Knight photographed by Martin Schoeller

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Jimmy Spithill photographed by Steven Lippman

The Daily Edit – Communication Arts: Randal Ford

- - The Daily Edit
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Communication Arts

Photographer: Randal Ford

Heidi: How hard was it to take that photograph of your son?
Randal: It actually wasn’t hard at all.  By the time I set up the portrait, he was in good spirits and we already had him checked out by a doctor. My son is such a sweet kid, but definitely all boy. And while this was his first shiner, it was definitely not his first bruise.  However, it was harder seeing the photos on screen than in person.  Looking at them on the computer was heartbreaking. Photographs immortalize a moment and maybe deep down I was scared that his face would always be like that.
 
What was your intention for this photo, posterity or something else?
As a parent I’m always photographing my kids.  Whether it’s with my iphone, a mirrorless camera, or a full setup with strobes.  I want to document their life, well, our life.  And this was part of that process.
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At what point did you know it was ok to take the portrait, did Ellis (your son ) give you any cues? Did you ask your wife for permission?
Once we knew he was physically okay and in good spirits, I felt like it was fine.    My wife knows I photograph everything, especially events like this so I had her full support from the get go.
 
I know you sat on these images for a few months after shooting them, thinking you may composite Ellis into a scene. How did you end up with this final image? 
As I mentioned it was tough to look at these on-screen so they sat on my hard drive for a couple months.  I thought it would be cool to composite him into an environment to further craft a story.  Maybe he was standing on a playground with a bunch of big kids behind him all laid out, or maybe he was in the middle of a boxing ring during a fight, or maybe we digitally painted a super hero sign on his chest.  For some reason I wanted to complicate things.  To further challenge myself.
None of the ideas really stuck though and I finally selected my favorite image and retouched it.
What was going on at the very moment of this particular shot?
The shoot itself only lasted 15 minutes and for a lot of the time he was sitting in this baby seat called a ‘bumbo’ which allows infants to sit up a little easier than if they were in a chair.  For this shot, he probably only looked at me like that for a split second.
I love showcasing kids (and animals) expressions that anthropomorphize them.  Or in other words, apply adult attributes to their character.  This shot, for example, conveys a toughness, a so-what, an I’m tough sort of look that an adult might give a opponent or enemy.  Maybe he was even thinking that for a split second.
 
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This portrait seems like a departure from the layered, rich body of work on your site.
What did you learn about yourself?
A lot of advertising work is layered and complex.  And I’m drawn to that and appreciate it.  I love the challenge of crafting a story in one image.  And sometimes that requires a lot of compositing, retouching, layering, and even CGI, to draw in the audience.
 
However, what I learned in this instance, with this photograph, was that the best way to tell a story is the simplest way.  I had these grand ideas of compositing him in an environment with layers, more talent, skies, and even cgi.  But I don’t think any of that would have been as compelling as this simple image.
 
Einstein said, ‘Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.’  I’m no Einstein and I’m no genius, but this sure does resonate with the lesson I learned with the success of this photograph.
 
Have you done any documentary work? Did this give you an insight into the moral banter that goes on in taking hard images?
I did a bit of documentary work in the early part of my career.  I don’t know if I gained any insight here.  I tend to stay out of moral banter and focus on creating compelling work. If the works gets people to talk, even if it’s banter, then I’m okay with that.

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I know you keep a camera around the house and take photos of your children, how did that influence this portrait?  
I always have a camera on hand.  Whether it’s an iphone, mirrorless, or dSLR.  It’s not often that I setup strobes and a background for my family stuff.  But this seemed like a fitting opportunity and my kids are used to having their photo taken so this wasn’t a unique situation, they know the deal.
 
How long did the transition take for you to go from father to photographer. I’m certain your first reaction was not to take a photo. 
When it happened I definitely didn’t have any thought that I should setup strobes and create a portrait.  But after he checked out okay, and was in good spirits, I thought, ‘I should really create a portrait of this.’  it needed to be shot.
 
Once you released the image to the public, were you concerned about backlash similar to what Jill Greenberg had experienced with her crying kids series?
I wasn’t concerned about it and in fact, it didn’t cross my mind until after it was published.  People who know me, know I have good intentions and would never place a kid in an uncomfortable situation.  However, his face was still going to be bruised up if I documented it or not.  I try to create compelling work first and foremost.  If I get criticized for documenting what’s in front of me, then I’m okay with that because personally I know my intentions were right.
 
What made you decided to include this image in your submission to CA? What did you think this image conveyed to fellow photographers?
Each year I submit 4-5 images to CA.  Some of my peers liked this image and some of them didn’t.  Obviously I’m biased but I felt like it was strong, graphic, and told a story.
Tell me about the full circle moment when  you received the email letting you know you had the cover?
So I’m sitting at our breakfast table reading some stuff on my computer with Ellis sitting in my lap.  During that time, I see an email come in from CA asking for permission to use the image on the cover.  I literally yell out loud, ‘what!? what!? Ellis, Buddy, you are going to be on the cover of CA, are you kidding me!?!’ I literally almost fell out of my chair.  I was elated to say the least and it was icing on the cake that I found out while he was sitting in my lap.  I can’t deny feeling that things happen for a reason and are not just coincidence.  Not the way this whole thing unfolded.


I know you have a son on the way, congratulations. How if at all has your family life impacted your career?
Thank you!  Okay, great question.  Family life has for sure impacted my career.  In a good way.  As the CA cover was about to come out I was running hard to get my website as fresh as possible and finish out a couple personal projects.  At one point, I expressed some frustration to my wife that I didn’t have enough time or energy because the kids were being a pill.  My wife looks at me and says, ‘you wouldn’t be in this situation if it weren’t for them!’  In other words, you wouldn’t be on the cover of CA if the kids didn’t present these daily challenges to you.  And I thought to myself, wow, how narcissistic am I thinking that this was all me!
 
The environment around you deeply influences you and my family is no exception to that.  Yes, I have less free time to snowboard and ride my mountain bike.  But I also have a lot to lose so motivation is not hard to come by.   I’m very focused and work very hard.  
The free spirit of children, without a doubt, enhances my creative outlook.  I’m a family guy.  And my family life deeply inspires me and provides great perspective for my personal and commercial work.
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You have such a range of imagery on your site, how would you describe your work.
I have a passion for photography and that passion spans multiple genres, and has grown significantly over the last couple of years.  I shoot everything from kids to cows to landscapes with an intent to always tell a story.  I sometimes struggle with it, but my goal is to create a common thread throughout my body of work.  I hope my audiences sees that commonality.
 
Do you ever get criticized for having too much range?
I’m very self critical.  Potentially to a fault, so I think about this a lot.  At the end of the day, I have to follow my gut and right now, I feel like I’m doing the right thing.  Time will tell if that’s true but I am grateful to be doing what I’m doing right now.
How has living in Austin shaped you as photographer? Is it nice to be out of the fray NYC and other major cities?  
Austin is a great place to call home.  I travel for 95% of my work but it’s a great home base and easy to get to both coasts.  Don’t get me wrong I would love to work more and shoot more in Austin.  There are just certain advantages and production needs that are better suited for NY or LA.  Being a Texan has definitely shaped me as a photographer.  I think that’s evident in my imagery for sure.  I also think by living in Texas I get slightly different perspectives, creative or otherwise, than if I lived in NY or LA.  I also like my space (smile)

The Daily Edit – Los Angeles Magazine: Amy Feitelberg

- - The Daily Edit

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Photographer: Nancy Pastor

 

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Photographer: ( left ) Gregg Segal
Photographer:  ( right ) Meiko Arquillos

 

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Photographer: ( left ) Christina Gandolfo
Photographer:  ( right )  Art Streiber

 

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Photographer: Dave Lauridsen

 

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Photographer: ( left )  Joe Schmelzer
Photographer:  ( right ) Christina Gandolfo

 

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Photographer: ( left ) Sam Comen
Photographer: ( right)  Ryan Young

 

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Photographer: ( left ) Dave Lauridsen
Photographer:  ( right ) Claudia Lucia

Los Angeles Magazine

Design Director: Steven Banks
Photo Director: Amy Feitelberg

Check out the full story here

 

Heidi: What a great slice of LA nightlife. Describe the process for choosing the pitches, I’d imagine potential imagery and content played even roles.
Amy: For the initial pitch process, I went forward knowing there were a few built in obstacles.
– Since this all had to be shot on one night, that might limit what’s happening around town.
– I had to cast a really wide net so I got enough disparate ideas.
– It meant it was a little bit of luck of the draw for who  would be in town to do it.

When all the decisions were made, I fired off an email to each photographer saying that they got to shoot their pitch. Then I sent out a group email (everyone was bcc’d — I didn’t want anyone to know who was in until the end), and I told them the parameters. Everyone HAD to shoot on the same night. Saturday, May 31st. We defined ‘night’ as between 6pm – 2am. I also told them that this was a case where they had to be reporters too because no one had a writer with them, and they HAD to get the caption info of what they were shooting for when the edit team when back to write about it. I also told them, it was a great opportunity to do extra stuff like gifs, videos etc. And so many of them did that, which is so cool because we’re going to have a really awesome online component as well which I think beefs the whole project up.

How did you notify photographer this was happening, was there something online or in the print edition?
I thought this was an opportunity to reach out to people I hadn’t been able to assign yet, but wanted to get them in the book. So after I made a list, I blasted it out to a ton of photographers and told them to pitch me what they wanted to do. Once I got all those pitches in, I complied them, and reviewed them with the with editor of the story and the editor in chief. Many photographers sent in more than one idea and since we had overlap, it helped narrow down the puzzle. We wanted it to feel diverse and hit a lot of different notes.

How many pitches did you get for this project?
I had over 60 pitches knowing I could only assign 20ish.

What were the determining factors?
Determining factors were things like diversity – geographic, ethnic, age etc, access, ambition and inherent LAness.

Were the photographers responsible for all aspects of production/access?
The photographers were mostly responsible for setting up their own shoots. I did write a lot of letters and make a lot of phone calls. Some things we never got permission on and they did anyway guerrilla style and some things we had to cancel altogether because the venue made it so hard or flat out refused. LA can be an extremely difficult place to shoot even for still photography. Are you listening Mayor Garcetti?

How many “tries” did they have or did everyone go out on the same night?
Everyone had to go out on the same night. A few people had 2 assignments if they could get them done. One that came in that wasn’t even assigned but that I hoped someone was going to pitch was a shot of Hassidic Jews on La Brea. That area fascinates me and I had put it in as an example of something to pitch in my initial blast email. No one took the bait, but then Christina Gandolfo, who had shot these awesome bingo pictures was walking on the street that night and photographed a few. She ended up getting a second full page image in the package too because it was so great. A few projects didn’t work out at all and got cut, but everyone really went above and beyond to make things work.
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Photographer: ( left ) Alyson Aliano
Photographer:  ( right ) Hussein Katz
Did you think it was unusual for the taggers to be photographed in “Canvassing the City?”
What type of relationship did Hussein Katz have with them?
When Hussein pitched that he said “I have many friends in the graffiti world… however I would need to keep their identities concealed.” I thought it sounded awesome. It’s such sub culture in LA and I always think it’s weird when I see a building one day and it’s blank and the next day it’s tagged. I’m always wondering who the hell these people are. I didn’t want to judge it as right or wrong, I wanted to see the experience of people who spend their nights doing this.
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Photographer ( left ): Alyson Aliano
Photographer ( right ) Aaron Fallon
Aaron Fallon’s image “Crew’s Control” is great,  did he have stories about getting access?
Aaron Fallon’s pitch was cool and very unexpected. This is one of those cases that it SHOULD have been hard to get access — but it wasn’t! He had a friend who worked there who helped get him in. I wrote a permission letter for him, but as far as I know, there weren’t too many hoops. The photos are gorgeous. The one bummer about doing this whole portfolio is that almost every shoot that came in had soooo many great images and we only get to run one a piece! That’s what the internet is for I s’pose. So shooting in an airplane hanger at LAX? – a breeze. Trying to shoot at the Hollywood Bowl? — I think they would have had me arrested and stolen my first born. Go figure!
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Photographer: ( left ) Spencer Lowell
Photographer:  ( right )  Wesley Brown

How did Spencer get that image of the stadium in “Diamonds are Forever?”
Spencer’s journey in this is an interesting one. He told me he would love to go to the morgue. LOVED IT! Boom. I assigned it to him. He set out on his own to get permission. I didn’t hear back so I thought it was all cool. So did he… but a few days before the shoot, even though permission seemed like a done deal, the guy helping him went AWOL, and then resurfaced the day before to say no. Spencer had also pitched doing aerials because I believe he has a relationship with a helicopter pilot. I really liked the idea of seeing Dodger Stadium, but there was a game that night and they have a ‘no fly zone’ during games. So he waited til after to shoot it and I love it even more because it feels less expected. He also still went to the morgue and shot and exterior and then went to a tattoo place and shot himself getting a tattoo that says LA on his wrist. Spencer will bleed for the cause!
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Photographer: ( left ) Terence Patrick
Photographer:  ( right ) Maarten de Boer

 

How did Martin de Boer get to tag along for his “Double Parked?”
So in the case of Maarten de Boer, he actually pitched going on a ride along with the fire department. He contacted them but they basically told them they needed at least 3 weeks to get approvals blah blah. So I dug into my bag of tricks because what ho! my sister is a deputy district attorney on the ‘hard core gang unit’ right here in LA. I called her and asked her if she knew any cops I could have Maarten go out with. She asked around and hooked us with LAPD homicide detectives Manny and Nate and we were in! I actually called on her to help us get into the morgue when Spencer was getting the shaft, but at that point we had lost our lead time, she was in trial and we couldn’t pull it off. Having a DA for a sister is amazing! She comes in handy a lot.

What’s the best way for photographers to reach you?

The best way for photographers to contact me is always through email. I wish I had the time to answer everyone, but I just can’t. I do try to look at everything that comes in though!

The Daily Edit: Variety Magazine Covers: Bailey Franklin

- - The Daily Edit

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Photographer: Ioulex

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Photographer: Julian Broad

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Photographer: Platon

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Photographer: Yu Tsai

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Photographer: Ioulex

 

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Photographer: Pari Dukovic

 

 

Variety

Creative Director: Chris Mihal

Director of Photography: Bailey Franklin

Art Director: Cheyne Gateley

Art Director: Chuck Kerr

Photo Editor: Michelle Hauf

Designers: Kevin Begovich, Vanessa Morsse and Sahar Vahidi

How long have you and Chris been collaborating on covers? You’ve seem develop this wonderful flow of type and image.
​I joined the magazine in February 2013 and Chris came on board that May. We hit it off immediately, which was a huge relief given the incredibly fast pace and overall intensity of putting out a weekly like Variety with such limited resources. He always has ideas and opinions but never gets so married to them that it slows down the process. This applies to photographer selection as well, and I am lucky that he always defers to me when it comes down to the final decision. ​Chris has the ideal balance of vision and flexibility and I really couldn’t have asked for a better Creative Director.


I’ve noticed the covers are getting tighter on the subjects, the expressions more intense, which is refreshing for a cover image. How did this look unfold?
​Since we aren’t a newsstand-driven publication, we have the luxury of putting our strongest single image on the cover every week. We also don’t have to deal with cover testing like at most publications. In the end it comes down to what options Chris and I recommend to editors that will make for the best cover. That said, we love the intimacy and power of a great, tight portrait and like the way it differentiates us from other magazines, especially those with lots of cover lines. We have also been lucky to get some really great faces to photograph.
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Photographer: Peter Hapak

 

When did the cover series or multiple runs start to become more regular? 
Did it start with the Power of Women Issue, and then roll into the recent images by Peter Hapak?
​Yes, when we have situations with multiple cover talent that can’t be in the same space at the same time,​ we have (thankfully) opted to do split runs
​and have so far avoided what we refer to as Frankenstein covers. With Peter, we loved his multiple exposure images and wanted a way to give those covers a separate identity from the other black and white portraits he shot of Christina, Aaron and Allison (as well as 49 other actors and actresses) for the Emmy stand alone issues that came out the week prior. We’ve done it three times before, first with Power of Youth (5), and Power of Women LA (5) and NY (6).


You are working with stars, I assume it’s perhaps easier to direct them?
​Although everyone has been very professional, most of our cover subjects are not particularly interested in pushing things beyond your standard flattering portrait. ​They generally have a very strong idea of how they want to be presented, even if it goes against the expressed angle of the story. This really comes up whenever we have a specific concept that we are trying to convey through wardrobe or props. In some ways it has been the kind of limitation that is a blessing rather than a curse as it enables us to focus more on the choice of photographer and what he/she can bring to the equation regardless of the subject’s participation. I liken it to having very limited control over the specific ingredients of a dish but incredible freedom as to the particular chef and cuisine we feel makes the most sense.




About how much time do you typically get for cover shoots?
We generally get between 30 and 60 minutes of camera time with any given subject. 15-20 is not unusual depending on the logistics of the shoot. It took me a long time to not panic at this, but since we don’t really need clothing changes most of the time, 30 minutes has proven to be enough to get what we need. We make a point of letting people go as soon as we have it, no matter how quickly that is. Some of our best results have come in under 2 or 3 minutes.

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Photographer: Craig Cutler

Humor and wit surfaces from time to time on the covers. Describe your cover process, what drives that image? 
​Humor is tricky, because it is so subjective on top of what is frequently an already subjective response to the photography by everyone involved in the final decision. With the Sex on TV cover we ​were lucky to have a concept that lent itself to visual interpretation, not to mention sex. I felt that there was something smart and fresh that could still be done using the naked human body, but it was our Art Director Cheyne Gately who sketched out the boom mic as fig leaf idea. Once we saw that we knew we had to go with it. Craig Cutler was a perfect fit as he has just the right balance of dry humor and dramatic lighting. As it happened on a super rush turnaround, his ability to help with casting the models and source the props with blinding speed was also key.

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Photographer: Bart Cooke

How did Kermit end up upside down?
​That was an example of Chris making something great out of a tricky situation. Bart Cooke took fantastic images of Kermit and Piggy, but we were VERY limited in terms of how we were ultimately able to shoot them. There was debate up until the last minute as to how Disney might interpret showing Kermit upside down, as it didn’t really relate in any literal sense to the headline or thrust of the story. We didn’t let up pushing for what we felt was fun, playful and totally unexpected, and in the end the editors decided it was worth the risk. Fortunately, Disney loved it, and distributed copies at the movies premiere the same day the issue came out.

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Photographer: Ture Lillegraven

Does publishing weekly give you more creative freedom? 
(There’s very little time to second guess)
​
Yes, I would say that putting out 50-odd issues a year gives us more opportunities to take risk​s compared to the pressure that monthly magazines put on their individual covers. Another benefit is if one doesn’t work out as planned for some reason, we aren’t stuck staring at it for a month. In some cases the specifics of a given deadline have informed the creative. For example, our post Oscar issue of Alfonso Cuaron had to be shot the morning after he won and sent to the printer by midnight the same day to make our deadline. That’s how the reference of the iconic morning after portrait of Faye Dunaway by Terry O’Neill came up. The last thing we wanted to do was recreate it, so the challenge was to do something that would resonate with someone familiar with the image but still look like a Variety cover and have photographer Ture Lillegraven’s unique voice. More of a wink than an homage, if that makes sense.

Variety had been publishing since 1905, over the years variety has developed it’s own slanguage or varietyese, (e.g.  boffo (box-office biz) sitcom,  and payola ) Are you trying to do the same visually with your cover portraits? Develop a visual language?
​Funny that you mention it, because we were just talking about the importance of keeping an open mind in terms of what makes for a “Variety cover.” One thing we definitely want to avoid is ​a rigid formula. That kind of sameness would be even more pronounced with a word like variety printed across the top of it. Our primary goal is to have covers that are elegant, smart and graphic. Beyond that, we are hoping to surprise our readers and ourselves from week to week.