Posts by: Heidi Volpe

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

 

4

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

 

5

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.

The Daily Edit – July Newstand: Joe Pugliese

- - The Daily Edit

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Fortune

Creative Director: Brandon Kavulla
Photography Director:
Mia J. Diehl

ESPN

VP/Creative Director, Digital and Print Media: John Korpics
Senior Director of Photography:
Karen Frank

BillBoard

Creative Director: Shanti Marlar
Photography+Video Director:
 Jennifer Laski
Deputy Photo Director: Jennifer Sargent

Texas Monthly

Creative Director: TJ Tucker
Photography Editor: Leslie Baldwin

Esquire

Design Director: David Curcurito
Photo Director: Michael Norseng
Art Director: Stravinski Pierre
Photo Editor: Stacy Pittman
Photographer: Joe Pugliese

You’re ruling the July newsstand. The covers seem to highlight your strength, what would you say that is?
It’s really hard to say what my strength is specifically because I’m too close to it to know what other people see in the work. When I hear feedback from editors, they reference things like quiet moments, or use the word iconic, which can seem generic but something I think about on every shoot. Not really in a heroic way but as a way to frame what we do in the context of the life of a photo. For example, I often think about the entire career or life story of a person, and at the end of their lives, what picture would define them? What one photo sums up someone who has done great things, and what are the characteristics of a photo like that? Usually they are not very complicated images, not overly conceptual, and allow the viewer to look straight into the subject’s personality without reference or too much explanation of who that person is.

Your work is very straight forward showing the person rather then the star, is this a conscious effort in your development as a portrait photographer? What niche if any are you trying to fill or what are style of brand are you trying to develop?
I think a photographer’s style can often mimic their personality and background, but it can take years to listen to that voice and actually develop it. I came up in the business through a very workaday ethic and perhaps took on too wide a variety of assignments early on. But because of that, my current approach is more confident since I’m not as obsessed with the technicality involved in making a shoot come together. I have my toolbox to dip into and change up when necessary, but for the most part I want the subjects to be the most notable thing in a picture, not the technique.

For the both the Billboard and the ESPN cover, were you surprised the final edit, they both capture that split second moment.
Both of those titles are very good at taking risks and letting the images speak for themselves so it wasn’t a total surprise but I was definitely thrilled to see those frames make the cut. These days, I think magazines are more daring with design and art direction because readers consume so much more imagery that it takes more to grab their attention than it may have 10 or even 5 years ago. I work with fantastic directors of photography, design directors and photo editors at both titles and their cover choices make them a dream to shoot for.

How do you approach your portrait sessions, how much research do is done and what tools do you use to get the subjects to settle in?
I do a little bit of image research on each subject but almost nothing else. I have gotten to a comfortable place with my approach and I don’t feel it necessary to know everything about a subject. For the most part, unless the client has specific direction, I prefer to react to whomever I’m photographing in a natural way, the same way they have to get to know me. Basically we’re two strangers who need to trust each other and gain some level of comfort almost immediately, and memorizing someone’s dossier is just going to get in the way of normal human interaction. I like to gauge a person’s mood and comfort level, and go from there. If they are really uncomfortable or nervous, that’s when it’s every photographer’s job to take the reigns and guide them through the process. I give very detailed direction in those cases and it takes the pressure off the person to perform for the camera, which almost no one likes to do. Portrait photographers are good conversationalists, and that trait has served me very well. I’ve referred to this job as a never-ending dinner party with new and fascinating guests, and I frame each interaction with a subject on those terms. Casual, comfortable, with everyone on equal footing.

For the Lance Armstrong session, how long did it take for you to connect with him. I’d imagine he’s guarded.
I’m a lifelong cyclist and I knew a lot about Lance going into this shoot. I wasn’t worried about him being guarded because he’s clearly someone who understands his relationship with the media, and is very savvy about the point of each profile he agrees to. I was more worried about the session being too one-sided and not having a chance to present the Lance of today, instead of the legendary Tour winner Lance Armstrong of previous years. Sometimes subjects have such a strong brand that they only give you something that fits within those parameters. On the contrary, Lance was extremely open and gracious and totally present. We were comfortable with each other immediately and I didn’t have to push to get honest moments from him.

In a few words what were you trying to tell with that particular portrait.
The assignment from Esquire was to portray how much Lance has been through, just by showing Lance as he is now, in 2014. It’s been 15 years since his first Tour win, and he’s bound to show some wear and tear. The sport alone in the best scenario can age a man, add to that his recent troubles, and it was all we could do to just make honest portraits of a very recognizable figure going through a tough time. I gave him certain direction in terms of posing and sitting, but didn’t ask for much in terms of expression. I never really like to ask subjects to smile. If they’re in a good mood they’ll smile, if they have a lot on their mind they might not. It’s really nice to see what people offer you before you start telling them to act and look a certain way.

Let’s go down the list. What did you hope to communicate with each session?

Fortune/Elizabeth Holmes
Fortune is such a venerable title and I have been a contributor for a long time so I was really excited to be part of this cover. Elizabeth Holmes is a 30 year-old tech entrepreneur and it was nice to see a young woman featured on the cover of Fortune. Mia Diehl is the Director of Photography and she and the photo team are very good at conveying what they want to get from the shoot, while at the same time letting the photographer interpret the subject in a natural way. They chose a strong frame for the cover and I was happy with the clean design of the type as well.

ESPN/DeSean Jackson
The story of DeSean Jackson was one of redemption, which is such a loaded word for a photographer to try to convey. I knew it couldn’t be too conceptual, and I trusted that if they hired me to do it, I was going to have to rely on making an image that just felt like redemption. I think we all knew what the story was about that day on set, and we were each on the same page so to speak about how to get it. As we tried more and more setups, he just got completely loose and totally offered these looks to me that showed me what he was going through. My job was to react to what felt and looked right, and work with him throughout those moments. It’s almost like editing on the fly, when something is good, you keep working it, and when it’s not, you just move on. We kept his energy up by moving fast and accomplishing a lot of looks in a short amount of time. I felt the trust of the DOP Karen Frank and photo editor Stephanie Weed to let me do what I do best, and that is such a great feeling.
Billboard/ J.Lo:
This was a great assignment for me because while the direction of the shoot was definitely to capture the sexiness of a very famous star who has been a household name for a long time, the challenge for me was to find some real moments within those parameters. I always love the “in-between” moments, the frames that are shot after or before the expected pose, even by a split second. Luckily for me, Jen Laski at Billboard is phenomenally talented at recognizing those moments and we worked on the edit together right after the shoot, something I rarely get to do with clients. We have the same taste in those honest moments and I knew I was in good hands with her in getting those frames in print.

Texas Monthly/George Strait
Another situation where the trust of the time really allowed for something special to occur. Design Director TJ Tucker traveled with me to Tulsa to shoot the reclusive country star for a cover commemorating his farewell tour. Strait is from Texas and is an absolute legend in country music. We were told we would have 5 minutes for the cover shoot, and somehow we stretched that to 9 minutes. We moved him through three lighting setups and I chatted with him the whole time. It was a crunch but it was also a very confident and well planned approach. TJ knew exactly what he was looking for, and we were alb to nail it because of that.

Are these all the first cover assignments for the respective titles?
I’ve previously shot one or more covers for each of these titles.

What promos did you send in order to get these assignments?
I don’t send promos outside of some email outreach that my agents at Bernstein & Andriulli handle. I view my editorial tearsheets as my promos, people who hire photographers are magazine readers and always tend to see what’s out there in other titles. I tend to get more work when I have good work on the newsstands.
Also, I just came off a nice round of meetings in NYC and I think that face time really helps me, being based in L.A. I have long standing relationships with a lot of my clients and that familiarity and trust is a crucial element in getting cover shoots.

 

ARMSTRONG_BTS ARMSTRONG_05 ARMSTRONG_04 ARMSTRONG_03 ARMSTRONG_02 ARMSTRONG_01

I know you are an avid cyclist so going into the shoot for Esquire did you show up as a cyclist and a photographer, or just one of those two personalities? Do you think it’s possible to split yourself?
In this case, I definitely had more to talk about with Lance than my usual subjects, but even then, I prefer to get subjects talking by asking broad questions that elicit longer responses. I like the emphasis to be on them, and it’s not really that necessary to share what I know about their lives. I did immediately notice that he had hairy legs, and ribbed him a little about that, haha.

Were you able to show up that day as a photographer only.
Yes, despite my knowledge of the sport and somewhat conflicted admiration of Lance, as soon as I meet anyone for a portrait session, I’m totally a photographer. It’s also part of the process that in my head we are both accomplished individuals, I draw on the fact that I’ve done this all before to calm my nerves and get on with the task at hand.

Has there been any moments of late where you’ve been secretly star stuck?
I wouldn’t say that I ever really get starstruck, but there is a phenomenon sometimes where the amount of respect I have for a subject gets in the way of how I interact with them. I’ve photographed some legendary people in Hollywood, but it’s the subjects that have been well known for decades that I find myself directing less, and just trying to document as they are. People like Robert Evans or Tom Petty or Kirk Douglas. Their legacy is so overwhelming that I don’t want to adjust anything at all, I just want to hold the camera up to them, in a sense.

Why did you choose B&A to represent you, was it a difficult choice?
Bernstein & Andriulli has always been a very influential agency for me, I always looked at their roster and what kinds of projects they were working on to see what kind of potential the industry holds. Carol Alda reached out and along with Ehrin Feeley, initiated a great back and forth conversation that lasted the better part of a year before I signed with them. I was not represented by anyone at the time and I had a very specific workflow and relationship with my clients that I wanted to maintain. Their patience and understanding of what’s important to me in my career were the deciding factors. I love the support and trust I get from them and Howard has given me great insight and advice from the beginning.

Whose on your blog roll/instagram feed?
On IG I’m loving the feeds of design directors, photo directors and editors. It’s so great to see the visual language of the people who are so influential in creating the visual languages of the magazines we shoot for. Ivan Shaw at Vogue has a great feed of NYC street scenes, and Kathy Ryan and Stacey Baker at the NYT mag have created very special feeds that really took off. Patrick Witty, now at Wired, had a phenomenal series on subway riders, and I love the pictorial beauty in the feeds of Nancy Jo Iacoi, Jessie Wender and Yolanda Edwards as well. All these amazing editors are also amazing photographers!

How do you use social media to market yourself?
I try to post things to my personal Facebook feed to share with editors I’m already friends with. I don’t like being too invasive with promotion but it seems to be received well. On instragram, I occasionally post some tearsheets I’m excited about but for the most part I use that feed to share my after-hours life, like cycling and travel.

I know you had assisted Art Streiber, who continues to be a great photo ambassador to anyone on his team, what did Art teach you?
Art is a great friend and we have very similar backgrounds. We both started as photojournalists, I was a photographer for the LA Times after college, and met him through friends in the newspaper business. I had no assisting experience and he totally took me under his wing and showed me how the entire industry operates. I assisted him at a time when the magazine business was extremely robust and shoots were high-budget and high-pressure. He taught me so many great lessons that it would be impossible to list them all, but the takeaway to this day is that to be a portrait photographer you have to truly be interested in people. Art is the most outgoing person I know and it shows in his work. I had to pay attention to my own curiosity towards people for my work to become my own, and I really benefitted from having Art as a mentor and friend.

The Daily Edit – Trending

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I enjoyed these two covers, both celebrating summer. One beautifully composed summer salad as a prepared dish, the other a delightful approach to food as graphic design.

 

FoodWine2

Food&Wine

Design Director: Patricia Sanchez
Art Director: James Maikowski
Director of Photography: Fredrika Stjarne
Photo Editor: Sara Parks
Photographer: John Kernick
Prop Stylist: Christine Trevino
Food Stylist: Andrienne Anderson

 

 

MarthaStewartLiving

Martha Stewart Living

Design Director: Jennifer Wagner
Deputy Design Director: Jenn McManus
Art Director: Jaspal Riyait
Photo Editor: Linda Denahan
Senior Associate Photo Producer: Muzam Agha
Senior Associate Photo Editor: Andie Diemer
Photographer: Marcus Nilsson

 

 

 

 

 

The Daily Edit – The New York Times Magazine: Dylan Coulter

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The New York Times Magazine

Director of Photography: Kathy Ryan
Associate Photo Editor: Clinton Cargill
Art Director: Gail Bichler
Designer: Raul Aguila
Photographer: Dylan Coulter

Heidi: Had you worked with the New York Times Magazine before?
Dylan: This was my first commission for NYT Magazine. I’ve been sending emails promos to the photo department for a couple years and in the last year Director of Photography Kathy Ryan had responded to several of them with kind words. With that said, it was an unexpected call when Clinton Cargill, Associate Photo Editor, called and asked if I’d like to photography and direct videos of the world’s best soccer players.
Congratulations. What work did you submit prior to being awarded the assignment? Along with print, did you send motion work?
I’m not certain if there was one thing that lead to the assignment but, the first email promo responded to was a multiple exposure image of professional baseball pitcher R.A. Dickey that I shot for The New Yorker and, also, a larger project for ESPN The Magazine entitled “Anatomy of a Pitch,” that consisted of both photographer and video.
   -2                                              Brad Ziegler, sinker pitch ESPN Magazine
                                                               
 -1                                               R. A. Dickey: New Yorker Magazine
                                                                                             
When you say Kathy Ryan was supportive, can you explain that a bit more?
I’ve always had enormous respect for Kathy, but hadn’t met her before this project. From afar, it’s always been clear to me that she has a tremendous eye and, of course, a reputation for commissioning immensely talented photographers. To actually work with her was a dream come true. She has a strong sense of vision from the magazine’s perspective, but also was an incredible advocate for my creative ideas as well. She was supportive at every step and had valuable insights along the way.
Where you afraid you were going to fail?
From the moment I was given the assignment there was a lot to do, so I didn’t have much idle time to contemplate a bad result. With that said, I was definitely  aware of the incredible forum that is NYT Magazine and I wanted to create something really good. The magazine did too, so that was always the driving factor and pushed me throughout the project, from developing treatments, to when I had the athletes on set, to whom I collaborated with at all  stages. Clinton and Kathy were instrumental in not letting failure be an option in so many ways. One key area, was by not taking no for an answer when it was unclear whether some of the athletes would be available to us.
Tell us about the idea development/execution for this shoot.
The goal of the project was to both photograph and create short films of the world’s best soccer players. We would travel to them, take portraits, create multiple exposure photographs of a particular skill each player is known for and make a short film about each athlete. The overarching idea was to focus on the athletic prowess and physicality of each athlete and capture that in an unexpected way.
You were awarded the grand prize assignment: The cover, the inside feature, video, a dedicated issue, international coverage. How did you deal with that type of pressure?
First and foremost, when I found out, I remember feeling excitement. It was a massive opportunity. I also felt incredibly fortunate to have been chosen for the commission. Also, frankly, some pride, in the sense, that the hard work up until that point was being recognized. I think most photographers in an unguarded moment, or perhaps even in a guarded one, would admit that a photography career can be a bit of roller coaster ride. This commission was a marker of sorts, that I was indeed on the right path. It’s not always easy to have perspective when you putting one foot in front of the next each day. All of those feelings though quickly settled, with the exception of being excited – that remained present throughout – and I started work on it like any other project.
This being a package assignment and not about one specific element, how did you approach the idea as a whole?  The covers where white, the inside pages where black, how did those concepts evolve?
Kathy and Clinton were interested in creating motion studies – multiple exposures images for the printed magazine and employing slow motion video. So that was initial framing that I started to concept from. I wanted to pare down everything, so the focus was on the beauty and skill of each athlete’s action. We took away everything that wasn’t necessary. I used black as the background for both the multiple exposures and the videos to bring the viewer immediately to the subject. Everyone was to be dressed in their national team jersey – fabulously bright colors. The ball we used was simple, all white and purposely pedestrian looking. Our lighting was a hard source and spare. For the video I had each athlete emerge for darkness to enhance the drama. The slow motion aspect, in the way we employed it, ran counter to how sports is typically portrayed. It encouraged the viewer to look at one single action and admire the masterful skill being performed. This was further enhanced by using a single take, no cuts for each video. Jake Silverstein, Editor-in-Chief, Kathy and Clinton, deserve enormous credit for encouraging this direction. The covers were intended as a contrast to the inside pages and were shot on white.
I know you had planned to have about 3 hrs with each athlete. At what point in the process did you discover you only had 8.5 minutes with Leo Messi? Where you able to  execute the more time consuming idea with other players?
Our initial creative direction – for the photography and film was based on having 2 to 3 hours with each athlete. That was the initial ask. Fairly early in the process, it became clear to Clinton Cargill, who was the primary photo editor and producer, we weren’t going to have that kind of time with the athletes. Everyone we were shooting plays in Europe and when we started the project, they were just getting into the playoffs. That was quickly to be followed by all of the athletes heading directly to their respective national teams in preparation for World Cup. With that said, we didn’t realize how little time we would have until just before each shoot. And that’s after we were told on several occasions that certain players were not available whatsoever! Clinton, to his credit, would not take no for an answer. In the end, we had between 8 and a half minutes and 25 minutes with each player. We had Leo Messi on set for the shortest amount of time. With the brief amount of time we had, we were able to stay true to our original creative direction, but had to be as efficient as possible. I didn’t want to waste a second of time and that was reflected in the choices we made in terms of shot list order, equipment and crew. My hats are off to the crew, many of which I was working with for the first time (all our shoots were in Spain). They were professional and extremely talented. My digital tech Andrew Katzowitz traveled with me from New York and my DP, Edward Gibbs traveled from London, everyone else was based in Spain.
I worked on the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine.  Imagery for news journalism is very different from imagery for consumer magazines.  Image manipulation is not a option. Period. How if at all did this alter you project and your ideas about your own work?
I’ve always believed that less is more in regards to retouching and prefer images to look natural and real, but flattering. Working with the NYT Magazine though was a new experience in this regard and frankly, took some getting use to. Retouching, in a traditional sense is not allowed. In the end, though, it’s was a great exercise in letting go and embracing more imperfection than I’m use to. Essentially being ok with fly away hairs and wardrobe wrinkles.
Because you are reporting for Times Magazine and documenting the athleticism of these players, am I correct in assuming these were all captured in one take? I see the multiple exposures were credited as photo illustration, was that a different type of credit for you?
The portraits were all single frames. The short films are comprised of a single take. The multiple exposures, though, were a composite of different takes and for that reason they were labeled “photo illustrations” as the NYT photography guidelines mandate. This was the first time that I’ve been credited in that way. Which is fine, I do think of the multiple exposures as being as much art as science. Purposely so. They’re technically an evolution of a film based multiple exposure. The technique is to capture each moment as a single photograph and then composite all of the frames together in post production. I work closely with my retoucher, Alex Verhave, to decide which frames to emphasize, through greater opacity, and which layers to de-emphasize, through more transparency. That helps create a visual hierarchy that leads the viewer through the image. In many ways, it’s more important what you leave out as what you choose to include.
Where the athletes shot all in the same location? If not what were the logistics like?
There were three shoots. Cristiano Ronaldo was shot in Madrid. Neymar Jr. and Andrés Iniesta were shot in Barcelona. Leo Messi was shot in Barcelona as well, several days after Neymar and Iniesta.
Because you were short on time, what were your interactions like with the players?  Any language barriers?
I think it’s really important to have a conversation with the subject on a general level and, also, explain what it is I’m after creatively. It used to surprise me, although I’m accustomed to it now, but a lot of athletes and personalities arrive to set having no idea what the concept is. I’ve always felt that involving the subject and having them take ownership is always more fruitful. With all that said, our time was so short and there was language issues. Cristiano Ronaldo speaks English well, so we could communicate easily. The other guys spoke just a bit of English. I speak a touch of Spanish, so we were able to general understand each other. There was always a translator on set, so he’d help convey whatever was not clear.
How did your former career as an advertising art director come into play with the video component?
It was tremendously helpful. Having started my career as an art director, I learned how to concept, storyboard and have a basic understanding of the production process. That said, for the video portion of this project I relied on the kindness and skill of others. Alexis Stember’s expertise was invaluable. She was my post production coordinator and advised on the production portion also. My cinematographer, Edward Gibbs, and editor, Georgia Dodson were essential. Many more people as well. This is an obvious statement, but video is such a collaborative medium. For this project it required the talent of many.
What was your inspiration for the music direction and where was it sourced?
I wanted the music to be unexpected and compliment the spare nature of the visual. During the video process, Georgia, Alexis and I kept discussing and both Philip Glass and Nine Inch Nails. And somewhat odd pairing, but that was the reference that I discussed with Will Bates of Fall On Your Sword who composed the music, Keith Reynaud who did the sound design and later Cory Melious who did the mix. Specifically, each piece needed something different in terms of tempo and emphasis, but we wanted them to family well together.

Where you afraid Neymar was going to hit you with the ball in the video?
Ha, no. I was actually hoping he would! Not the camera, but the plexi glass that was in front of the camera. In a couple of the early takes the ball was leaving frame too soon, so I asked Neymar to try and hit the camera. At first, he didn’t believe me, but once he understood I was serious, I think it engaged him even more. He seemed to like the challenge and maybe the mischievousness of it as well.

What did this assignment teach you and how did it further develop your skills as a photographer?
In many ways I’m glad this commission happened at this point in my career, 12 years in, and not earlier. At one point or another I drew upon most, if not all, I’ve learned along the way. More than anything it reminded me of the importance of grace under pressure. It truly was a dream assignment for a magazine I greatly admire shooting enormously famous personalities in a very short period of time. Sometimes the most important thing to remember was just to take a moment and breathe deeply!

Best advice for anyone starting out?
Certainly there is no one way, but I’d say first pursue a liberal arts education. There are so many more aspects to being a photographer than taking a picture, so it’s important to be able to express your ideas through writing and discussion. And then, I’d say, find photographers who’s work you admire and work for them, gain technical knowledge and insight into the business side of things, production – essentially all the aspects that go into a shoot. Always take photos, even if you’re working for someone else, make the time. With all that said, I didn’t do it this way. I went to school for art direction and ventured down that path first, then decided later on to somewhat blindly jump into photography. So, there’s many ways to get going, but that’s my advice for someone starting from scratch.

 

 

 

-2                                               Cristiano Ronaldo, “Quick Feet,  Slowed Down”

for Cristiano video click here

 

 

-1                                              Andrés Iniesta, “Quick Feet,  Slowed Down”

for Andrés video click here

 

-3                                              Neymar Junior, “Quick Feet,  Slowed Down”

for Neymar video click here

 
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The Daily Edit – Damon Casarez: The New York Times Magazine

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The New York Times Magazine

Directory of Photography: Kathy Ryan
Photo Editor: Amy Kellner
Photo Editor: Christine Walsh
Photographer: Damon Casarez

 

Heidi: I know you started the project with just 3 photos, is that all you had pitched to the NYT for the story and then it developed from there?
Damon: Yes. I was marketing myself for a NYC editorial meetings trip for the following week and I had emailed Amy Kellner at the NYT about a week before going, letting her know I would be coming to town and would love to meet her and show my work. Towards the end of the email, I had one sentence telling her about the project and I attached 2 out of the 3 photos. That’s how this all started.

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( 3 photos that started the project out)

Who did you address to the pitch to and what was your presentation?
The pitch was to Amy Kellner at the NYT. It was super basic, along the lines of “Here is a new project I’m working on about Boomerang kids, young adults who’ve had to move back home after college.” I got a response within the hour, asking if the photos had been published anywhere. We had a phone call shortly after that and she let me know that she would be pitching it to the editorial team and to not show anyone else the photos for now. The next day I received an email saying that it went over great with the team and they wanted me to continue it across the country as a photo essay. It was a dream come true.

Did you send it to anyone else besides the NYT?
I did, I sent it out to about 4 other news based magazines that I thought it would be a great fit for. I didn’t receive any other responses and stopped pitching it.

Was this your first big national news story?
Yes, this was my first national feature story and first cover, of course. I shoot a lot for Los Angeles Magazine, have shot a couple profiles for Bloomberg Businessweek and have had a couple of photos in Pacific Standard Magazine. I assist half time and shoot half time for my income as I’m starting out.

Were you concerned about rejection or did you have enough positive reinforcement prior to reaching out to them?
I’ve learned over the last couple of years after graduating and trying to get my name out in the photo world that rejection is a big part of marketing. You have to have thick skin when you are starting out and no one has heard of you. After making the 1st photo (Jacqueline Boubion,) I knew that the project had potential. Also, after trying to find people on craigslist, I had more responses from writers and photographers who wanted to jump on the project with me. I even got a call from some Hollywood book agent who wanted me to think about making the project into a book or sitcom, since it’s such a relevant topic. I took it down shortly after, ha.

Were you in despair when you decided to to this project, thus it was cathartic?
Yes and no. I had to move back home after having a rough summer where assisting work and shooting work was extremely slow and I had no savings because my overhead was so high with student loans, rent, insurance, etc. Moving back home was my last resort and I felt like a failure for a bit. After beginning the project and realizing how many others were out there like me, it was clear that I needed to bring this story to light and share the experience of the “Boomerang Kids,” including my own story.

What advice would you give to young photo college students?
I would tell students that you have to prepare yourself as much as you can in college. A lot of students don’t and have no idea what they will do after art school and begin trying to figure it out, and then the loans start coming. I had two amazing internships and a few mentors in college and I always tried to meet with other LA photographers, show them my work and get feedback and ask all kinds of questions. I first interned with Maren Levinson, owner of Redeye Reps photo agency, where I learned the business side and marketing side of photography. Next, I interned with Amy Feitelberg, who is photo editor at Los Angeles Magazine. I was able to see how the magazine was run and witness stories from their beginning to it being published. I’m still good friends with both Maren and Amy and constantly ask them for advice and feedback on new work, which is another reason why you should intern.

How receptive has your former school been about this body of work?
My school was extremely receptive. They were very happy to hear the news and hopefully will have me speak there soon! I learned so much on this job and have a lot of insight I could share with students.

How did you decide who you would shoot and how did you go about finding them? Did the magazine get involved?
I found most of the people through a mix of craigslist, and friends of friends. I used Facebook to have my friends reach out to their network of friends and so on. I also found one person, Jessica Meyer, on instagram, by searching hashtags. When I had a potential subject, I would have a long phone conversation with them to see if they were a good fit for the project, then we would talk about their home life so I could get a better idea how I would photograph them. From that point, I would send a brief about each person to the photo editor and we would figure out together if they were right for the story. There were a lot of factors involved for choosing the people, such as what was their major, age, if they had loans, what they were doing now and when they moved back home.

The Daily Edit – Armando Sanchez – Lucky Peach

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Lucky Peach

Art Director: Walter Green
Associate Designer: Helen Tseng
Writer: Kevin Pang
Photographer: Armando Sanchez

Heidi: How did you get connected with Lucky Peach?
Armando: Kevin Pang, the writer of  “Fixed Menu” is a food critic for the Chicago Tribune. So when Lucky Peach contacted him about the piece, he asked a few photo editors at the Tribune about finding a photographer, and I was lucky enough to be recommended.

How did the work in your  “Incarcerated” portfolio help capture the images from Westville? Is that one of the reasons they came to you?
“Incarcerated” acclimated me to working around inmates. It also helped me develop a small flow to working with the jailers or guards, which is much easier than most people think. But the approach to both shoots was so different. When I was working on the “Incarcerated‚” project, I was really trying to understand how the small spaces and restrictions of prison affect a person’s  well-being. When I was in Westville, my focus was the influence of food played in the lives of inmates and whether or not it had an impact on their long-term outlooks and behavior. I’m not sure if that’s why they selected me for this story but I’m sure it helped.

What sort of direction did you get for the story and were you with the writer?
One of the editors at Lucky Peach told me that this story would focus on the types of foods that inmates can create with ingredients you find in a 7-11, and how those foods contrast with the world outside prison. So I knew what to focus my pictures around. Kevin, the writer, was with me during the entire two-day shoot and he was really great to work with. If I was working a situation or if I saw something that I wanted to stop and photograph, he would always ask if I was ready to move on or if I needed more time to shoot. He never made me feel like I needed to work at his pace, which you don’t always get when working with a writer. Actually, when we were in the maximum security wing while they were serving food, I found myself shooting images that may not have related to the guidelines of the assignment, but were just pictures I wanted to make of the recreation room and medical treatment area. Kevin let me do that and never gave me the impression that I needed to move on.

Did you feel threatened or scared at any time?
Never. Everyone I talked to was basically trying to make the best of a bad situation. Prison is full of routine. It’s the same thing every day, down to the minute. You see the same people, guards, other inmates. So I think anytime you add new people to the routine, it’s almost welcomed. Everyone stares at you and asks you small questions. They were curious about why we were there. Once we told them who we were and what the article was about, everyone wanted to talk.

What struck you about the inmates? Tell me about your interactions with them?
Actually, the only time I felt nervous was when we visited the main kitchen. We were talking to some of the inmates who worked in the kitchen, and one of them told us to go look in the walk-in refrigerator. When we went into the refrigerator, the smell was overwhelming, kind of like an old dirty mop and rotten eggs. I have a pretty strong stomach but I was close to heaving. Anyway, the inmate was trying to show several trays of egg casserole to Kevin. The inmate was basically telling Kevin that the casserole was inedible, but one of the prison employees was defending the casserole and told us it was fine to eat. It got kind of tense, so I quietly stepped away and photographed the egg casserole. That picture actually made it into the layout.

Most of the inmates were extremely receptive and friendly. They seemed interested in what we were doing. They were always polite and willing to share their opinions about the food. Some inmates seemed kind of nervous, but once we started talking to them and asking where they were from, most of them opened up. The only people that we didn’t really talk to were the inmates in maximum security. They were kept in their cells and behind several walls of thick glass and steel doors.

Did you taste the Disciplinary Loaf?
I wish. There was no loaf available. Just finding the recipe was kind of difficult. I got the impression that it wasn’t something that was made very often.

(“Nutraloaf aka Disciplinary Loaf is reserved for offenses such as taking part in a riot or assaulting prison staff.”)

Did you eat anything while you were on location? Did you bring your own food?
I ate the first day during a culinary class. They were serving the kinds of food you would eat at Thanksgiving dinner. The prison had a culinary cooking class that served turkey, mashed potatoes, shrimp cocktail, all prepared by the inmates. It was pretty good. But I never ate the creations the inmates made with food from the commissary. I really wanted to try some, but the inmates save up money to buy the ingredients; Ramen, condensed chicken soup, packaged cheese. I didn’t want to take anything they had saved up for. Other than the Thanksgiving-style meal the first day, I didn’t eat while I was there.

You’re a recent graduate, interned and were published several times in the Chicago Tribune. Tell me about your process for handling those shoots.
It’s been a learning experience. I interned at the Tribune from June 2012 to November 2012. I started freelancing for them immediately after the internship was over, but I had to go back to Kentucky to walk at my graduation ceremony in December. I’ve spent most of my college career interning at newspapers. The Tribune was my last of four internships, and I was pretty sure that I wanted to work for a newspaper when I was done at the Tribune. But after I finished my internship at the Tribune, I found myself in a pretty cool situation where I could immediately start receiving work as a freelancer and still pursue local news, all from the Tribune. From there, I started reaching out to other editorial clients, pursued commercial work and have been trying to teach myself the ins and outs of working as a freelance photographer.

When did you start shooting photos and knew this is what you wanted to do?
I started shooting photos after my mom made me take a photography class while I was a junior in high school. But I knew I wanted to do this when I was a senior in high school. I was watching John Moore present work from Iraq at a high school journalism conference at the University of Texas. He was still with the AP at the time and I was pretty moved by his photos and the team he oversaw that won the Pulitzer. I actually talked to him for so long that I followed him outside until he had to cross the street. After that, I was pretty determined to work on stories I care about.

Garden & Gun – Jody Horton

- - The Daily Edit

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Garden & Gun

Art Director: Marshall McKinney
Photography Director: Maggie Brett Kennedy
Associate Art Director: Braxton Crim
Assistant Photo Editor: Margaret Houston
Photographer: Jody Horton

Heidi: How many days did you have to shoot this project?
Jody: All production was accomplished in 3 days. We had a travel day on both sides so I was gone for 5 days in all.

Do you speak Spanish?
I lived in Costa Rica for a few years after college, and living in Texas speak limited Spanish with frequency, but its pretty survival-level.

Were there any language barriers that made this colorful or a challenge?
At one point I was trying to ask a mezcalero how old his youngest son was, but accidentally asked him how old his worst son was. I realized this only much later.

Did you study the agave process before the shoot?
I knew how maguey were cut and trimmed and that the piñas were roasted underground but had not even seen photos of the fermentation and distillation.

Can you tell us your approach to a project like this? Do you story board it?
I love when I can jump in and photograph people doing what they do and can simply document it, staying out of the way mostly, but also asking questions that help me understand what is important to the subjects, why they do what they are doing, and why it has meaning to them.

One goal of mine with the mezcal shoot was to photograph all of the stages of production. There were many natural moments in this process but because making mezcal takes several days, and because we were working in remote areas without the benefit of phones or e-mail, there was no way to schedule a shoot – or to know at what stage of the process a given mezcalero would be in when we arrived. As a result, some directing comes into play – asking people to do what they would do if they were doing x – and making this feel like a natural moment.

When an image has to fit into a very specific space – to account for copy or other predetermined limitation – I love to sketch it out. For editorial work I almost never storyboard, but I do visualize what I hope to see, or what I hope to create.

Were you traveling with the writer?
Yes. I traveled with writer Logan Ward. Due to the challenge of travel and communications this was the best option by far and I’m grateful this was so. It was a fantastic collaboration, and I think we both feel like we made each other better. Our great producer, Blair Richardson, also traveled with us. Blair, who lives in Mexico City, deserves the credit for finding the story in the first place.

Several of your portfolio galleries center around the process of harvest. How did you get started in this niche?
My first exposure to food photography was while working with a small publication when in grad school for Cultural Anthropology. I was attracted to the idea of transformation – things or people moving from one state to another. This is inherently interesting to me and translates, in food work, to harvest/processing/preparation.

Seeing a harvest, or a documentation of it, is also a very tangible way to connect to being conscious of where food comes from. I’m also drawn to the energy and human interaction that happens here – and the goal of capturing and reveling something not widely known.

Its gratifying then to show someone how an oyster is dredged from the Gulf and have them say “Wow, I never knew that was how they did it” – even if they had eaten the same oysters all their life.

The best part of being a photographer is having an excuse to have access to go see and do things like this. I started by asking ” I wonder what this looks like” and then tried to find a way to get to take those pictures. There are so many projects that I hope to do like this in my lifetime.

I recently produced a project for a tequila company in Jalisco, Mexico.  I understand there’s an old growth agave shortage at the moment. Were the fields you were shooting in  patrolled? Was security an issue for you?

How cool.

These fields for the mezcal piece were in very remote areas on small farms and were operated only by the families themselves for the most part. Except for rows of baby plants – that were used like a nursery to transfer elsewhere – there were no formal fields of cultivated plants. These guys had very little resources so no one would have been able to patrol the fields even if there was a threat – unless they did it themselves.

Its true that there is a shortage of maguey. The equation as I understand it is that larger tequila producers, who are supposed to use only one variety of blue agave from the state of Jalisco, have had trouble keeping up with demand.

An illegal trade in maguey harvested from other states (all varieties- not just blue) began 10 or more years ago to respond to this supply problem. Its unclear how much worse it has gotten exactly but given the rise of popularity of tequila – and now mezcal – reports that things are worse seem well-founded. I’m not sure how frequent outright theft of plants occurs from the kinds of fields I saw. Most often plants are harvested by local farmers from their own lands and sold to these smugglers – at a higher rate than they could receive for them locally.

I worried a little about security issues before I left, but we encountered no problems whatsoever.

 

Some outtakes from the shoot.

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Felipe Cortés daughter sips mezcal.

 

 

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The finished product of the distillation – pure mezcal – is caught by a jicara

 

 

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After fermenting in a large wooden vat, the mash is hauled bucket-by-bucket to the oven.

 

 

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Mash from a batch of mezcal is dumped by Joaquin Garcia.

 

 

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Felipe Cortés trims the spiny leaves from a maguey with a machete after cutting it down.

 

 

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Felipe Cortés and his son Ageo at their palenque.

The Weekly Edit: Women’s Health – Jamie Chung

- - The Daily Edit

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Women’s Health

Creative Director: Theresa Griggs
Director of Photography:
Sarah Rozen
Deputy Director of Photography: Freyda Tavin
Prop Stylist: Elizabeth Press
Photographer: Jamie Chung

Heidi: What specifically about Jamie’s work made you choose him for this project?
Freyda: I’m a huge fan of Jamie’s work. He can take an ordinary object and transform it into a work of art. His photos are deceptively simple and complex at the same time. In this case the subject matter wasn’t unique but the editor’s and writer’s take were and I wanted the photos to reflect that.

Can you take me through the creative process for this feature?
The process: Myself, Sarah and two art directors met with the story editor who went over, at that point, the story outline and any specific points she wanted to come through in the piece. We all brainstormed and came up with a few ideas. I talked to Jamie about it and he had more than a few great ideas of his own and sketched them out. From there Jamie and I both did some major drug research and then I brought Elizabeth Press, the prop stylist into the process.

I enjoyed the notes of drug addiction in the photos, what material did you use for the “sugar” in razor shot?
She found the perfect colored sugar for the blade shot so to answer your question that really is sugar. Jamie was set on using a glass spoon which was a great choice but we did lose one in the heating process. I never thought I’d want a razor blade hanging in my living room but it is just such a beautiful photo as are the rock candy and spoon. They’re the perfect visual interpretation of the story title, “Sweet and Vicious”.

Heidi: What’s your creative process like?
Jamie: I’m very curious in general, always watching, reading or listening to something. Making an effort to be conscious of my surroundings helps a great deal- (actually- I just made a picture inspired by a Chinese restaurant’s fish tank..!) I also do journaling, sensory deprivation- aka extended showering, and sketching.

You seem to work a lot with metaphors, what inspires your word play and how does that process unfold?
These photographs were made to accompany a story about the addictive/ harmful effects of sugar. And that’s where the sugar as addictive substance concept comes in. Most photography I am currently working on can be divided in three modes. One being product still life where I’m mainly focused on presenting and creating a mood around an object. The second is reportage, I’m very interested in artifacts. The other is a more illustrative kind of work that’s based on a concept or story. I approach these images much like a copywriter would. Looking for the succinct way of describing something in a powerful one or two word answer, this becomes a jumping off point for brainstorming. Also it was a great experience working with Freya, she gave me a balance of support and freedom to interpret this story.

What was the biggest challenge for the shoot?
One challenge in interpreting this concept was approaching the drug/substance metaphor without being to cheeky/ going over the top. For me it’s fascinating when a picture can say more by showing less. Another was creating a feeling of danger and seduction without being overly dark or gloomy (here we used color to strike a balance).

How did you get your start in photography?
I went to Parson’s in NYC and assisted several different photographers with various styles. Still life seemed to resonate with me mainly because I enjoy experimenting in the studio and the process overall.

The Weekly Edit- Adweek: Michael Clinard

- - The Daily Edit

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ADWEEK

Photo Editor: Margo Didia
Creative Director: Nick Mrozowski
Props and Food Styling: John Lavin
Retouching and Compositing: Gretchen Hilmers
Photographer: Michael Clinard

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Heidi: How often do you shoot for Adweek?
Michael: About three to five times per year. Since the start of 2014, I’ve tackled two conceptual feature projects, and in those instances, I shot both the cover and opening art to accompany the story. In the last half of 2013, I did the same on the subject of Big Pharma and contributed five images to their annual Hot List issue, published in December. I should just say quickly that in addition to my photographic practice, I exercise a particular form of ideation for Nick and Margo. I consider what I do for Adweek to be a form of grappling. I take their concept and wrestle with it.

Do you typically sketch out all our your ideas?
By and large, yes. Some things can’t be said with words. It’s important for me to find ways to convey a message through symbols, subject matter and themes that are pre-existent in our collective conscience, that visual ether. I love conjuring, so I use all the things at my disposal to bang out my best take on what Norman Rockwell might do if he were in the hustle in 2014.

How much drawing do you do while you are not shooting? Do you have a journal?
While I’m drawing all the time, I like to keep fit photographically, too. I’ve been doing some experiments with tissue paper, shooting into glass and mirrors, using blueberries as indigo, etc. Since February, I’ve slowly been adding things to a personal journal of sorts: The Hills, 98006. I keep a record there of what I’m reading, what moves me. It’s an index, too. Something I can later refer to.

How did The Hills, 98006 come about? What was the impetus for it?
The Hills, 98006 came out of falling in love with a neighborhood and a reawakening in my spiritual life. There’s no prescription, but for me, I read. I listen to audio books. I get out of the house and walk in the woods. If the jewel from my daughter’s tiara falls out, I fix it that evening. Time has taken on less meaning or importance to me; my relationships with my wife and daughter have grown. The Hills shows glimpses of that dimension of my life.

How did this idea for a chicken eating a burger come about?
Margo got in touch on Tuesday, May 6. Her emails are never really long, just to the point. In a word, perfect. She asked if I was around, and my intuition told me this would be something rad.

I told her that if I was needed to churn something out in next 60 hours (like that Snapchat Ghost concept back in February), then regrettably I’d be unable to since my family was enroute to California for what would become the most epic of family vacations.

We determined that I could doodle it up Wednesday and produce the thing over the course of the next few days (while on the family trip), and we could shoot the whole thing on Monday, May 12, so it could hit the printers later that week, like clockwork.

Was the overhead cover idea nixed due to type legibility or the single chicken became more impactful?
That concept was maybe the third or fourth thing I passed along, the one where you see the suggestion of many chicks swarming a burger from above. I sent the hero option and profile options late Tuesday night, and she signed off on those Wednesday morning. That one was generated strictly for giggles Wednesday evening. Another angle. Younger chickens. Something more graphic.

Did the printed idea hatch from that initial sketch?
Ha! Yeah. . . I’ve shot all kinds of animals, so I was only submitting angles and vantage points that I felt I could actually create. It helped to know the anatomy of a chicken, understand how it eats and know that at some point it would have to look up because it has to swallow. That confirms I’ll get my straight-on hero shots, but chickens don’t really look like chickens from the perspective of a traditional headshot. My feeling was that it might be best to see it from the side, so it’d read.

Was the chicken well behaved?
Absolutely. I hired an animal wrangler named Charlie Wainger. Charlie talks chicken. Charlie understands that there’s a certain way you talk to a hen. Whispers are effective. I never know when something will go sideways, so I had him bring a brown hen named, Martha, in case Cleopatra decided she was watching her figure that day (Cleopatra’s the white chicken).

Are you still a beef burger guy?
For some reason this feels like a chicken and egg question. I don’t discriminate against form. Be you cow or be you chicken — I’ve eaten worse.

Photo District News: Photo Editor Amy Wolff

- - The Daily Edit


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I had the pleasure of connecting with Amy Wolff, Photo Editor at Photo District News. In order to frame the interview properly I asked her to explain her role at the magazine.

Amy: Though my title is “photo editor,” the job description is different than it’s been at other magazines. I don’t do any assigning or producing. I contribute ideas for stories, help identify trends and issues in the photo industry, and suggest sources for articles and interviews. My contributions are based on what I know about what’s going on in the photo industry as a whole: I am in constant contact with photographers and photo industry folks (emails, meetings, portfolio reviews, openings, events). When the editors discuss story ideas, our goal is to gather information and present it in a way that we hope our readers can learn from, that will help them navigate the business, or give them ideas on how photographers handle challenges– challenges regarding business, funding, marketing, techniques, landing assignments, getting a grant, finding income, selling prints. We try to strike a balance in our coverage that serves readers working in every genre of photography.

One of my biggest roles is providing content for our photo blog, Photo of the Day (POTD) (http://potd.pdnonline.com/). POTD’s audience is much broader than the magazine. Simply put it’s a place to celebrate great imagery, without regard to specific usefulness or story themes. I have discretion over the selection. Admittedly I’m not a great writer, but I’m getting better.

Heidi: For PDN ‘s 30 typically how many submissions do you get?
Amy: As a photo editor I look forward to PDN’s 30 every year. I’d been asked to nominate photographers in the past. I was really excited to be a part of it this year. I started at PDN in February 2013, so I’ve only been through the process once. I’d say the number of submissions depends on the number of folks invited to upload images. PDN editors ask a wide variety of folks (editors, art buyers, gallerists, curators, consultants, publishers) to nominate photographers. Those photographers are invited to upload images to be considered for PDN’s 30. This year about 400 photographers uploaded images.

What specific criteria do you look for in the work in order for it to be considered?
We look for work that is fresh, inspiring, creative and unique. We also want as varied a list as possible because we want the issue to be useful and inspiring to young photographers. Locations, gender, specialties, styles and subject matter are all things we take into consideration.

Once all the considerations are made, how many make the first cut? Can you describe that process?
PDN’s editors judge the PDN’s 30, and there are multiple rounds of judging. We vote on the entries, and tally the votes. After that initial judging we’ll start meeting, as a group, and go through the top 100 or 125 – and by go through I mean look at their entries, read their bios, go to their websites, Google them…try to find out as much information as possible. We narrow it down from there verbally, collectively as a group.

And then the subsequent cuts after that? Do you break it up into categories internally to cover a broad range of styles?
Yes, subsequent cuts are made based on initial ranking, and for the sake of diversifying the list. We don’t have a specific number in mind though – it’s not like we say we have to have 5 photojournalists, 5 fashion photographers, 5 portrait photographers, etc. But we don’t want to have 20 photographers who shoot fashion and are all based in NYC out of a list of 30.

What would you say is the biggest challenge for that process?
The biggest challenge is that we can only pick 30. Sometimes 20 photographers who shoot fashion are all amazing! We have to hope that they come back the following year and we’ll have another chance.

Once a photographer is selected, do you ever hear about success stories following the nominations?
After the 30 are picked my work has just begun. I can’t begin to estimate the numbers of emails I’ve exchanged with these folks. I’m invested in these photographers – I feel like I know them (as much as you can get to know someone over email or the phone). I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the photographers in person post-PDN’s 30 and I’ve asked them how things are going. Many have said PDN’s 30 has helped them with networking (ex. when emailing a photo editor they have never met before they put “PDN’s 30” in the subject line) and getting assignments (ex. clients reach out to them saying they heard of them from PDN’s 30).

For promo or personal work, what strikes a cord with the editors? Have you noticed any trends in the imagery lately?
For Tumblr and Promos We Kept there isn’t a formula to what gets promoted on the blog. We post unusual or ingenious promos, or promos we feel deserve some attention. A lot of thought (and money) goes into those and it’s nice to be able to give them a platform. A lot of the promos I’ve received lately have been zines or small, self-published books. In fact, I have a small pile on my desk of promos I need to blog about. Thanks for the reminder!

What does your office walls look like?
No office for this gal – cube with 3 walls. Empty cubical walls are not visually stimulating so I cover every inch with promos and prints. I’ve been in the habit to refresh the décor after each issue close.

How much mail do you get per day and what makes you keep a promo?
I get more mail at PDN than I have anywhere else. But I do open and look at all of it. Sometimes I think photographers over think the promo – postcard, glossy or matte, envelope or no envelope, vellum, label or no label, hand-written or typed. If the image(s) is compelling, printed well, and your name/location/website is clearly noted, it’s a successful promo. I keep promos so I remember them – for a future article in PDN, for a POTD, or to remember to keep an eye out. I look at work digitally all the time. It’s nice to have something to hold.

I know the editorial market is really tough, any advice for seasoned and emerging artists?
It is still possible to be a successful photographer in 2014 but the rules have changed. There isn’t one path to success. If you are good at what you do and you work hard at it, and you’re a nice person and people like working with you, you have a good shot. I strongly recommend to photographers whose phones aren’t ringing to keep shooting. I know it’s hard to motivate but it’s important to keep making new work so you always have something new to share with people either in person or on social media. Keeping in touch is important – I ask that photographers add me to their mailing list (email, snail mail). I don’t remember everything I see or everyone I meet and need to be reminded that you’re out there.

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For Exposures: What criteria are you looking for?
To clarify, each issue of PDN has a theme (April “PDN’s 30,” May “Lighting,” June “Photo Annual, July “Fine Art,” August “Publishing”) and we try to think ahead about what stories we’ll need for each issue. All of the editors at PDN pitch ideas to each other. We share photo stories and talk about work all the time. Senior editor Conor Risch fields the story ideas for the Exposures section, and he tends to showcase new personal projects, or work that is currently showing in a gallery, about to be published in book form, or work that we feel our audience needs to know about.

Have you noticed any trends lately, do you try and strike a balance between emerging artists and established?
We’re trying to strike a balance of coverage that serves readers working in every genre of photography and at every stage of their careers. When we consider sources for articles, we look at people who have a useful story to share that other photographers can learn from. I think documentary and more long-term story telling is trending lately.

Have you been surprised by any particular artist? ( meaning it was a departure from their normal work? )
My background in photo editing comes from editorial but PDN has opened my eyes to so much more. What I’ve found surprising is how many photographers are shooting both commercial and fine art work. To me, that would be the best of both worlds – make money with a larger commercial job and have the time & financial freedom to make the work you really want to make.

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For the D’Agata feature, do you have any outtakes you can share?
 No, we were given a specific number of images provided by the publisher for the exclusive purpose of reproduction in PDN along with the article.

What in particular about his story gripped the editors for this feature?
For starters his images. He photographs addicts, sex, and prostitution. As our Editor, Holly Hughes, says, D’Agata is a “photographer’s photographer.” Many photographers have cited his work as inspiration. Meghan Ahearn, who was our Managing Editor at the time, was looking through the Prestel Spring catalogue and saw he had a new book coming out, and that the book was a fairly large collection of his work. Senior Editor, Conor Risch, ended up interviewing D’Agata in person which turned into the feature (Antoine D’Agata: Photographing Life at Society’s Margins) we published in the April 2014 issue. It’s a great read if you haven’t read it, and it’s still online:

http://www.pdnonline.com/features/Antoine-DAgata-Pho-10726.shtml

What was the determining factor for the images that did make in the print edition?  ( did you have an online gallery )
It’s like most magazines – the number of images published depends on page count and word count. We can include up to 10 images in online galleries which is helpful when we can’t fit everything in the magazine. We did have an online gallery for D’Agata but in this case included everything we ran in print.

Without a real rhythm, do you find selecting the covers a challenge?
Covers usually come from the theme section – April’s cover came from one of our PDN’s 30’s, Charlie Engman, May’s came from the lighting feature, Nigel Cox, June’s came from one of our the Photo Annual winners, Julia Fullerton-Batten. (more in the newsstand q&a)

Do you follow any sort of edit calendar?
Yes, our themes are chosen ahead of time.

How much pressure do you have for newsstand sales?
We do discuss how the cover might look on the newsstand, but probably less than at consumer magazines because most of our readers are subscribers. When we’re choosing a cover (it typically comes from the theme section) we’re more concerned about not repeating something we’ve done in the past, and it’s appeal to a visually sophisticated audience. We never crop photos inside the magazine: Ever. The cover, however, is a different story. We do occasionally crop the cover image with the permission of the photographer.

Knowing we may have to crop either the top, bottom or sides, we initially look for images that can be cropped without changing the image too much The Creative Director, Darren Ching, and I then pick a handful of images and place them in a cover template. We look for images that don’t compete with our logo, and images that aren’t covered by our logo once they’re placed. We’ll edit from there as a group.

Is the cover image always an outtake from the inside stories?
Yes, again, the cover usually comes from the theme section. If we run the image on the cover, we wouldn’t then run it on the inside of the magazine.

I know you have a side business called CoEdit. What can you tell us about that?

I first met Tim Klein when I was photo editing for a magazine based in Chicago (Michigan Avenue). The assignment was rather, challenging, haha, so we kind of bonded over that. A few months later Tim called and asked if I would consult with him on an idea he had. Some of his clients and photo-shoot subjects had purchased his prints. That sparked his idea to sell photography prints online and he needed help with photographer connections and photo-editing. The more time I invested, the more I liked the idea and the more I wanted to be a part of it so I asked if he was interested in a partnership and he said yes. There are a lot of places and ways to buy photography but CoEdit is different. We sell editorial and commercial photographers’ work, provide context for the images and artists, and it’s curated by industry folks and tastemakers.