Posts by: A Photo Editor

If you can’t get to where you want to go, you need to work harder

- - Blog News

…the appropriate time to search for representation is when you literally can no longer manage shooting and client requests and calendars and making estimates and negotiating various licenses and shoot deliverables all at once.

The other time an agent is helpful is if you’re extraordinarily talented but a recluse, and want someone to be your “face” and leave it up to you to just make photographs. But the key thing here is that you need to be extraordinarily talented. Extraordinarily. Talented.

via PDNPulse » Pro Tips for Photographers with Jake Stangel.

Professional Photographer Webcast: Working With Agents, Wednesday December 4th at 2:00 EST

Professional Photographer Webcast Episode 5
Topic: Working with an agent
When: Wednesday, December 4th at 2:00 EST
Where: Here on aphotoeditor.com and Google +

Suzanne Sease and I will be joined by artist rep Heather Elder. Suzanne as you may know comes from the Art Buying side of the business with many years of experience working at Advertising Agencies. Heather is an agent for 8 top commercial and editorial photographers several of whom also shoot motion. In addition to repping she has a must read blog called “Notes From A Rep’s Journal” where she shares the inside dope on working with Art Buyers, Estimating and all things concerning photographers and reps. She’s not afraid to tell it how it is, so I’m really excited to have her on the webcast Wednesday.

I know you will have lots of questions for her so fire away by email rob@aphotoeditor.com (Note: you will remain anonymous on the webcast, I will not share your identity with anyone) or during the webcast on Google+.

You can see our previous episodes over on the APE Google+ page (here).

Daniel Morel Awarded $1.2 Million For Willful Copyright Infringement

- - copyright

“I hope the internet is going to be a little safer now for all artists, all photographers,” he told PDN the day after the jury reached its verdict.

Morel also said he took personal satisfaction in defeating the teams of lawyers from AFP and Getty that he has been fighting for nearly four years.

“That was the most beautiful moment of my life, the look in their faces when they lost. They were so arrogant,” he said. “Those guys [AFP and Getty] knew I was small, and thought there was no way I could sue them, and they took advantage of me. They thought they were untouchable.”

Read more at: http://www.pdnonline.com/news/Morel-v-AFP-Copyrig-9598.shtml

 

Twitter Q&A With Sam Jones, Tuesday 2pm EST

- - Working

Sam Jones (@samjones) and I (@aphotoeditor) are going to have a Twitter Q&A on Tuesday Nov 26th at 2 EST. Follow Sam and ask any questions you have about working as a pro photographer.

Sam is well known a Los Angeles based Celebrity and Portrait photographer who also shoots documentary films and music videos. His most recent music video for Mumford & Sons went viral:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rId6PKlDXeU

Hopefully we can answer your most pressing questions in 140 characters or less…

Use this hashtag to see the questions and answers: #asksj

Discovering Digital Landscapes At 75

- - Blog News

…I enjoy digital more. I don’t carry a computer. I come inside in the evening, and until 12 o’clock I look at the screen on the back of the camera, and I eliminate.

Landscape photography is fantastic. It’s not by chance that as they get older many photographers start with the landscape. There are certain things you have to do to photograph people — you have to be able to run.  If you photograph people, all of the time you are running after something and you are losing all the time. With landscapes you are waiting all the time. It’s much more relaxing.

via Josef Koudelka: A Restless Eye – NYTimes.com.

Everything Influences Me

- - Blog News

I have never had any hero in my life or in photography. I just travel, I look and everything influences me. Everything influences me. I am quite different now than I was 40 years ago. For 40 years I have been traveling. I never stay in one country more than three months. Why? Because I was interested in seeing, and if I stay longer I become blind.

via Josef Koudelka: A Restless Eye – NYTimes.com.

Photography Is As Badly Understood As Ever By Both Its Makers And Viewers

- - Blog News

So we need to go back and give that medium a good, hard look again. What does it actually do? Not what we think it does, not what we want it to do. Instead: What does it do? And how does it do that? We need to think about that process of defamiliarization.

Instead of whining about the limitations of the medium, we need to start appreciating those very limitations. It is right here that the promises lie.

via The Challenge of Photography | Conscientious Photography Magazine.

Auctions Change The Conversation From Art To Money

- - Blog News

Auctions make me sick. I can’t stand them. They’re ruining the art world. They change the conversation from art to money, from quality to quantities, and now those quantities are mass quantities. Hey did you ever notice the word tities is in quantities?

The Francis Bacon is completely predictable. A middle-brow painting by a middle-brow painter painting another middle-brow painter.

via Jerry Saltz’s Best Responses From His Reddit AMA — Vulture.

Advice for Photo Assistants: Working as a First Assistant

- - Assistants

Guest post by Demetrius Fordham

Throughout my years photo assisting, some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned have been while working as a first assistant. Though you glean a wealth of knowledge as a regular assistant—how to handle cameras, digital equipment and lights, how to set up and break down equipment, etc—as a first assistant, you work more closely with the photographer during the shooting process. Essentially, you’re shadowing the photographer and I’d even go so far as to say that you’re the extension of that photographer—making the role an effective litmus test for deciding whether or not photography is actually the career path you want to pursue. (A number of photographers I’ve worked with began as first assistants before making the transition).

So how do you get work as a first assistant? Usually, it’s a process that happens organically: you work regularly with a photographer who likes and trusts you—and for long enough—and it happens by default. You’ll become entrusted to handle pre-production tasks (e.g. arranging second and third assets), post-production tasks (e.g. wrapping the job), and management (e.g. delegating tasks to other assistants). It’s a job that can be rewarding, and if nothing else, you can rely on more regular work and a (mildly) higher paycheck at the end of the day. I asked my buddy, celebrated photographer Doug Menuez, to drop some knowledge on the topic.

In your opinion, what are the benefits of being first assistant?
Being a first assistant is a great way to see how things operate in the real world. There are things that just can’t be taught in school, or even by working as a regular assistant, that you can only get from closely assisting a photographer—especially someone whose creative work you respect, and can be inspired by.

What makes a good first assistant?
Loyalty, attention to detail, a passion for great images. Someone who can take responsibility for their own actions, and think in terms of the whole production. They might not be responsible for travel or some aspect, but they need to be paying attention to it all, and help out where they see a problem coming. Also, they have to be smarter than the photographer and help them focus when they get distracted. Most of all, they have to be mind readers—and stay one step ahead of the photographer.

(Author’s note: If I could add my own two cents, being a first assistant myself, I’d add that 80% of being a successful first assistant is dependent on how well you work with the photographer on a personal level. So much of photography goes beyond technical skills and lighting/digital expertise; a lot of it is about effective communication and interpersonal relationships. And as a first assistant, being an effective listener and communicator/borderline “mind reader” is a necessary skill given how closely you work with a photographer and his clients).

What advice can you impart to a first assistant wanting to transition to photographer?
Soak up everything you can. Listen to everything, watch everything that happens. Be humble—assume you know nothing and be willing and open to learn. Then work your ass off. And have a plan: the thing that holds back a lot of potential photographers is not having a plan. They just go from gig to gig, and start doing well as an assistant—and can get stuck. They don’t have an understanding of the business side and never have enough cash to do their own shoots, portfolios and marketing. Write a business plan that clearly states what your dream is, and how you see that happening over X years.

It Is Easy To Take A Good Picture And Almost Impossible To Take A Great Picture

- - Blog News

Mary Ellen Mark shared her thoughts with me; “People are bidding on something that has no value. I thought it was a joke, so I just took a cell phone picture of a real photograph. It is easy to take a good picture and so hard, almost impossible, to take a great picture. It takes years of labor to do this well. Photography is a craft, an art, a point of view. Instagram is not meant to be fine art or a beautiful object; it is social media—a means of communication.”

via Instagrams Fetch Thousands of Dollars at 2013 Aperture Benefit Auction | Feature Shoot.

This Week In Photography Books: #Sandy

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

I’ll be honest with you: I’m spent. Last week, I visited the Medium Festival of Photography in San Diego. We interviewed the founder last year, my good friend Scott B. Davis, so it will come as no shock that I attended this year.

It was a pretty phenomenal experience, and I’ll recap the best work I saw in an upcoming article. Regardless of my potential bias, I have to tell you I can barely string together clauses to make a sentence right now, much less build an intelligent article out of disparate paragraphs.

Not. Going. To. Happen. Today.

Why, you ask? Why have I not recovered in 5 days? It wasn’t a hangover, if that’s what you’re thinking. I barely had any booze at all. No, what happened caught me by surprise, like a wisp of wind in an airless room.

Medium functioned on a level that re-awakened my dormant idealism. There were so many wonderful people bouncing around, and the resulting conversations were both deep and long. (Insert random dick joke here.) The spirit of creativity was rampant.

It reminded me why I got involved in photography to begin with, and encouraged me to give and share, rather than take and want. I reviewed portfolios, and even broke the sacred 20 minute rule. All my sessions went 25, and I was happy to offer the extra time and energy. It just felt right, under the circumstances.

I promise to share more about what Medium is doing right at a later date. Today, tired and emotionally drained as I may be, I still have to review a book. No vacation days in my line of work.

I thought I’d carry through the spirit of Medium into this review. “#Sandy” is a new book of IPhone photography made in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, edited by Wyatt Gallery. Like many others, I helped support the book’s publication, and received a small credit in the back. Hopefully, this will not count as my second conflict of interest in one article. (If so…you might want to lighten up.)

That the book arrived here the same week that another Superstorm killed people and ruined lives is not a shock to me. We were told these events would happen with more frequency, and it has come to pass. I may not live near the ocean, but one of these days, I’ll have to worry about “SuperFire Felicity” burning my house to the ground. No one is immune.

This book is getting a lot of press, and rightly so. A bunch of photographers banded together to put their work out there for a good cause. (100% of the book’s proceeds go to Occupy Sandy.) Their intentions were noble, and the pictures are harrowing. You will likely have seen some of them before, because folks like Ben Lowy got their images a lot of air play during last year’s protracted misery.

It’s easy to look at ventures like this and dismiss them as attempts to co-opt the spirit of giving with the insatiable desire for publicity. It’s a savvy way to build positive street-cred. For sure.

But as I re-learned last week, thinking in such ways can be counter-productive. Sometimes, one just has to be willing to spread the positive energy with full force. Sometimes, we have to put others before ourselves. This is a part of the social contract. And this week, while others are suffering on the other side of the world, I thought I’d leave you with something to think about.

Bottom Line: Collaborative book project in the face of tragedy

Go Here To Purchase And Support #Sandy

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

Self-Published Photo Books Are Becoming Increasingly Sophisticated

- - Blog News

There are 20 books in the Paris-Photo/Aperture First Book shortlist and 14 of them are self-published. Increasingly, these self-pub books are very sophisticated in their construction and the materials they use.

[...] I really respect the creativity in the self-pub world and the level of production has really increased dramatically.

via Take It From a Publishing Pro: The Photobook Format Is Up for Grabs | Raw File | Wired.com.

The Graying Of Traditional Photography

- - Blog News

It’s no longer enough to get something in focus, well exposed and color correct. It’s no longer good enough to fix all the “flaws” in Photoshop. What the important audience wants now is the narrative, the story, the “why” and not the “how.” The love, not the schematic.

via The Visual Science Lab.: The graying of traditional photography and why everything is getting re-invented in a form we don’t understand..

Professional Photographer Webcast Live – Will The Mobile Phone Camera Replace The DSLR?

Professional Photographer Webcast – Will The Mobile Phone Camera Replace The DSLR?

When: Wednesday, November 13th at 2pm EST

Where: Live here and on Google Plus: https://google.com/+aphotoeditor1

Who: Rob Haggart, Suzanne Sease and Stephen Alvarez

Topic: Join us today at 2pm EST for the Professional Photographer Webcast where we will be speaking with professional photographer and National Geographic contributor Stephen Alvarez who was recently commissioned by Nokia to shoot a 10 day assignment armed only with their Lumia 1020 smartphone. One of the images from that shoot is running as an inside front cover gatefold (3 pages) in the October issue of National Geographic.

Show Notes:

Stephen Alvarez: http://alvarezphotography.com/

Suzanne Sease: http://suzannesease.com/
National Geographic Photography Blog:

http://www.picturestoryblog.com

Blog Post about smartphone cameras: http://blog.melchersystem.com/
Shot Video on the assignment: http://johnburcham.com

Photography Jim Richardson: http://www.jimrichardsonphotography.com/

As Good As An Idea Is, You Must Always Be Ready To Throw It Away

- - Blog News

Charlie [Trotter] was pissed. He had been trying to call me for an hour but my mobile phone was locked inside. In a rage, he asked me what kind of idiot would dream of photographing him trampolining in the rain. Was I trying to kill him?!?! Needless to say, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. “If you want to shoot me come to the restaurant NOW!” he blared, and hung up.

I was furious.

My assistants and I packed up the trampolines, I mumbled away under my breath, and Mrs. Trotter made herself scarce; she was embarrassed. I admit I had a moment where I wanted to say “no thank you” and walk out. It was my book, after all.

Then I remembered something that I learned very early on in my photographic career: as good as an idea is, you must always be ready to throw it away.

via Farewell, Chef — Medium.

Art Producers Speak: Sam Kaplan

- - Art Producers Speak

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

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Sam Kaplan.

Fortune Magazine - World’s Most Admired Companies (GE and Coca-Cola)

Bloomberg Markets - 'Drenched in Debt' story on debt and the White House

Men'€™s Health - Story on blood vessel constriction.

New York Magazine - Satchels

Personal project - Runts and Nerds

Personal project - Big Red Gum

Personal Project - Dental Picks

Personal Project - Pencils

Personal Project - Pringles

New York Times Magazine - Black Bass

Fortune Magazine - Story on #1 Businessperson of the Year (Starbucks CEO)

How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been shooting on my own for about two years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I majored in Studio Arts with a concentration in photography at Wesleyan University but I learned more about the creative process from the conceptual sculpture classes I took there. In terms of technical knowledge, I learned most of what I know from assisting and shooting.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
When I moved to New York in 2007 I wasn’t even aware that you could be a commercial photographer. There’s not one specific person that inspired me to get into the business, but I was definitely influenced by many of the photographers I assisted.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I try to shoot for myself as much as possible. Trusting my instincts at all stages of a shoot is very important to me. I feel that doing personal work and pushing myself in that way can really inform my assigned work.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Every assignment is different. With still-life photography, some of jobs are very straightforward, other times I’m being hired to bring more of my personal vision to the process. Each assignment is a collaboration in order to find the best visual solution to a problem.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I send out high-quality mailers two or three times a year. I spend a lot of time conceptualizing, shooting and physically making the mailers. Editorial work is a great promotional tool as well – every story I shoot could reach far more buyers than an e-promo or mailer.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
It’s not the right move. Buyers want to see your voice and that comes through in work you’re passionate about. Despite this, still-life advertising can be very technical and it can make the agency’s client apprehensive if they don’t see a comparable shot in a book. I’m sometimes asked to do a test shoot for larger campaigns to show the client what they are looking for. I see doing this type of work as an investment that hopefully pays off down the road.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Shooting successful personal work is extremely gratifying. I try to plan most of my personal projects in advance and I’ve found that the more time I spend thinking about something the better the end result will be. There is a freedom to shooting personal work is always exhilarating.

How often are you shooting new work?
As often as possible. The rhythms of client work often dictates when I have time to work on personal projects.

Based in New York, Sam Kaplan was born and raised in Boston, MA. He moved to New York after graduating from Wesleyan University. His clients include The New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, Fortune, Men’s Health and Budweiser. He is represented by Candace Gelman & Associates. http://www.samkaplan.com/

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