John Gossage Interview – Part 2

- - Photographers

Jonathan Blaustein: Photography is a crazy thing to do with one’s time. And a crazy thing to devote one’s life to. It’s obvious that you’ve given almost everything a lot of thought. What do you think it is about this particular method of expression, as opposed to chipping in marble, that hooked into you and never let go?

John Gossage: Simple, practical things. It keeps me amused. It keeps engaging me. I make pictures for myself. I’m not an entertainer. I don’t make work for an audience.

I try to make it clear, and present it to others, because I really enjoy when other people value what I do. But they have to come to me, more than anything. That’s the difference between art and entertainment.

I played music for a while, and the idea is that you play for an audience. There’s an interaction there, and playing music is entertaining. What I do isn’t.

I suppose it’s serendipity, but it’s kept me amused, so it’s kept my audience amused. Around 1980, or ’84, I realized I wanted to make books, as I’d thought for a long time that artist-controlled books are the major leagues of photography. Books have the greatest impact on me, from other photographers. So I had faith that my work would make the most sense to people that way.

It stays out in the world. The first commercial book I did was “The Pond,” with Aperture. They set up a book signing at ICP, and one person came. Nobody knew what the hell it was. It got reviewed, positively in “People” magazine too, which is one of the most bizarre things of all time. Unfortunately, “People” has absolutely no cross-over with the audience that buys photo books, which I tried to explain to Aperture, so it made no difference.

Now, Aperture has re-printed it, and it’s one of the classics. Everybody I meet says they bought an original edition, and it changed their lives. But there could only have been twelve of them.

You have to have faith that if the work engages you, it will engage others. It’s about taking that bet. And sometimes, you can be wrong.

JB: Under that philosophy, if it doesn’t engage others, it doesn’t matter, as long as it engages the maker. Right?

JG: Oh yeah. I’m interested in continuing to be amused.

JB: You’ve made many, many books over the years.

JG: Unfortunately, yes.

JB: And in non-traditional ways, using non-traditional materials. Oversized books. Wooden books. And according to your Wikipedia page, and congrats for having one…

JG: I don’t know who did that. Not me.

JB: I don’t doubt that. But as I was saying, did you really make a book called “Hey Fuckface”?

JG: Oh sure. It was a box, actually.

JB: A box?

JG: I got interested in the space in between the wall and your lap. Pictures hang on the wall, and books sit on your lap. There’s that space in-between. So I made these boxes that can’t hang on the wall, because the back comes off. If you try to hang it, it falls to the floor.

It was called “The Things that Animals Care About, and” and “Hey Fuckface,” which is a book about curses. Or maybe it’s a publication.

Basically, you get a box with a Plexiglas front, and wood around it. You put one photograph in, and look at it for a while, and then you move it and put another photograph in it for a while. They have to lean against a wall, or sit on a book case, or something like that. Somewhere in between the two.

JB: Have they been exhibited as sculpture? How did that work? Did they make their way into individual collections?

JG: “Hey Fuckface” is actually original prints on boards with hand-written curses with each of them.

JB: (pause) You don’t know me well enough to know that I’m rarely speechless. But I don’t know what to say. As a formerly-foulmouthed Jersey Boy, I have to see that. Where could an average person see that? Is it possible?

JG: I don’t know what collections have it. Currently, they’re going for $7000 now, even though I sold them for $150 to begin with. That happens with photobooks too. But what they are is pictures of some of the most polluted places in New York State.

The interest is the nature of curses. If you’re not religious or superstitious, what is a contemporary curse? And also, curses never mean what they say.

It started by taking one photograph of this, up in Syracuse. I was taking a portrait of a young boy, and next to him was a telephone pole. Scratched into the pole was the mis-spelled curse “Dickless pigfucker.” Luckily, I wrote it down.

JB: (laughing)

JG: I thought, what a wonderful curse. Anatomically impossible, and aesthetically unpleasant. What more can you ask? It’s done to annoy people. I guess Roe was right.

JB: I was just thinking about that, as I recently reviewed a book by Dash Snow. It’s a interesting idea, how we offend people. Like it’s an action that you’re doing to somebody else.

I read that you got some NEA grants back in the day. Is that right?

JG: Yeah.

JB: That was before everything shifted, because Serrano and Mapplethorpe “offended” or perhaps “annoyed” the wrong people. As an artist, I think it’s kind of interesting to think about how personally people can take their own emotional reaction to somebody else’s ideas.

JG: I see it here in Washington. I saw a wonderful thing at the National Gallery, about six months ago. The National Gallery is free, and it’s on the mall, so it’s often the first museum experience for people. They’re going down the mall, and they end up in an art museum.

Anyway, there was a guy, almost totally cliché as a non-art person, and he asked the guard “Did my tax dollars pay for that?” He was pointing at an Elsworth Kelly painting of two colors.

I found out later that the guards are trained to say this, because he replied, “No. Mr. Andrew Mellon paid for that, Sir.”

He was offended. He wasn’t going to engage it. He was offended by the lack of understanding of what might be going on here. He didn’t speak the language.

It’s like being offended by Bulgarian poetry, if you don’t speak Bulgarian. People don’t do that, but with art, they do. Art can really get people worked up, which is one of the reasons, I guess, that we do it ourselves, and hope others get engaged with it. It still has that power, amazingly.

JB: Especially in a world where most people are so well-trained to tune out information that doesn’t coincide with their worldview.

JG: Its presence is offensive, if you don’t understand it. In America, most of the news about art has to do with how much it’s worth, not what it’s about.

JB: I made the local TV news at some point, for that reason. They got their hands on some documents about what the State of New Mexico paid for my work.

Thankfully, they didn’t kick up the outrage they were hoping to. The only person they interviewed was some un-important conservative political activist, and they didn’t rile anyone enough.

JG: (laughing.) I’m sorry they didn’t rile sufficiently. Maybe next time.

JB: Next time, I suppose they need to pick a more intelligent critic. It was just some guy who owned a pet store, or something, and was a Republican on the weekends.

JG: (laughing.) I’m willing to rile up a guy who runs a pet store. That should be worth doing for an afternoon.

JB: One of the things that I intentionally put into that project, “The Value of a Dollar,” and I continue to think it’s funny, is that anyone who wants to can spend a dollar on a McDonalds doublecheeseburger, and put it on a pedestal in their room. Or you can go spend a dollar for a pack of candy necklaces, and thumbtack it on your wall, for a dollar, or you can buy my picture of those same candy necklaces, on a piece of paper, for $1000.

JG: Exactly.

JB: I don’t often hear people recite that absurdity back to me, but I think those inherent contradictions are often what makes people respond subconsciously.

To me, what could be more obvious about pointing out the economic machinations of art than to say that simply by Two-Dimensionalizing something, I’ve increased its value 1000%.

JG: Sherri Levine was really involved in that in the 70′s. She re-photographed Walker Evans’ pictures exactly, and made them her pictures.

What? Where’s the value? Where does art actually exist in this whole transaction? What’s going on here?

That’s the whole Duchamp question. What’s going on here? What keeps us fascinated? How does this work? There’s no real answers for it. It’s a set of questions that keeps you going.

Why is the original less important than the image made of it? What degree of eloquence comes into play there? Because it is there.

There is a Bill Eggleston picture of little toy animals on a chrome counter-top. From the early 70′s.

JB: OK. I can’t think of it immediately.

JG: It’s one of his famous pictures. I actually have the animals Bill photographed, and the picture. He took them away from his son Bill Jr, he said, “Sure, you can have these.” So I could remake that photograph, any time I could find the right countertop.

JB: You didn’t actually steal candy from a baby, but you stole toys from a child.

JG: No. Bill did. It’s one of those evil Bill Eggleston stories that we all tell. He took them from his son, and his son has never forgiven him, I’m sure.

JB: I’d like to talk about politics, because I know it motivates you to some degree. For the record, I tried to get my hands on some of your books. I was at photo-eye on Friday, and the power went out across the city of Santa Fe.

I was actually holding your books up to the residual window light, just to get a sense of the objects themselves.

JG: I like that.

JB: No one says I don’t work hard.

JG: You could start a small fire at photo-eye with books I hate, and use that light to look at mine. But I won’t name which photographers’ work I hate.

JB: I would ask, if I weren’t so sure it would ultimately get redacted, even if you said so now.

JG: We won’t go there. Don’t pick on the crippled and lame.

JB: Well, I wasn’t able to see many of the books, but I tried. But where I was originally headed with the question was talking about politics. You spent time in Berlin in the 80′s, right?

JG: Yeah.

JB: So you photographed the Berlin Wall, and many years later, you made pictures through the gates of power in Donald Rumsfeld’s neighborhood in DC. When you’re dealing with topics that are so loaded, like heading to Colorado to photograph a town that has three Supermax prisons, or environmental waste sites, to what degree does your personal politics motivate your subject matter choices?

JG: You have to understand, I live in a town where politics is actually a true profession. But I would never make a claim that my photographs have any impact, politically, because I know people in the administration now. You live long enough, and you’ll know people who actually have real power.

I have the ultimate respect for how hard it is to actually do anything politically in this country. For anyone.

So the photographs have political implications. Let’s put it that way. They’re not political, as such, because I don’t have any faith that they change anything directly. It just doesn’t happen. You’re talking mostly to the already committed.

JB: Agreed.

JG: But let’s take it case by case. I was asked to do a show and a workshop in Berlin in 1982. It was interesting to go to a place where the literature of that place is already so pre-established, that I can lean on that, and see what I can do, as opposed to discovering it.

It had WWII, it had the Wall. The absolute dichotomy, right in front of you, between Communism and Capitalism, all laid out in UPPERCASE LETTERS. You could play off of that.

When I got there, I realized it was far more complicated than that. The Wall was incredibly beautiful. It was funny. I was utterly convinced that the guys at the CIA had conned the Russians into building it, because it was the worst PR for Communism you could possibly have in the whole world. And it was evil. Everything I was told. But it had all those other factors.

I got fascinated with photographing in the city, so I spent almost 11 years photographing around Berlin. I had close friends there, and people kept inviting me back to do stuff, so I spent a lot of time back and forth, but never lived there.

The thing with Rumsfeld is, this is my neighborhood. If I move to the other room, I can virtually see his ex-house out of my window. I was interested in the connection between beauty and elegance, and it’s a neighborhood I like a lot. I run through it, and have for many years.

Discovering that Rumsfeld was my neighbor made me convinced that I was at the center of the evil that was going on in the world at that moment. That dichotomy was of interest, so I tried to make very, very beautiful photographs that imply the sensibility that you can’t come from a perfect place. Everyone else wants what you have.

And you have the right to enforce that upon them, which would be an ultimate mistake. It seemed the perfect project to be my first in color. (The Thirty-Two Inch Ruler/ Map of Babylon)

JB: Had you been shooting in color all along, but not showing the work, or was this actually the first time you tried to make pictures that way?

JG: I’ve been friends with Bill Eggleston since 1972. We’re really close. I saw the work before his show at MoMA, from very early on, and thought, this is terrific. This is brilliant.

So I made a couple of dye-transfers, and looked at them, and thought it wasn’t my vision. I didn’t like film color. I didn’t like the color space that you have to manufacture into film products. And I didn’t like the nature of the prints.

They suited Bill perfectly, especially dye-transfer. Dyes and Kodachrome suited Bill perfectly. It was exactly what he wanted. And for me, it wasn’t.

But then digital got good enough. Martin Parr is a close friend of mine, and I would see what he and the Magnum guys were doing. I asked them what was the best camera to get, and they said a Canon this and that.

So I got that, and started fiddling with the RAW files to see if I could get the color I saw. I realized that I could. So then I could do color, because before that, I couldn’t get it to look like what was attracting me, and that was really frustrating.

JB: Ironically, I think that might be the first book of yours that I saw. The pictures are really lovely.

JG: There’s a certain picture in there of a wrought-iron sign. It was made the first day I got the camera, and it convinced me I could do it. I figured if I could make that, I could learn how to make more of them.

JB: Speaking of digital, someone mentioned to me you don’t have a website.

JG: Right.

JB: Given that it’s 2013, what’s the reasoning behind that?

JG: I don’t have any interest in people encountering my pictures on a screen, except in the most casual way. Stuff that happens on the web is like conversation. It’s like what we’re having now.

I’m more interested in the form of literature. It’s different.

JB: You used that word with respect to Berlin, but you meant it in a visual way?

JG: Oh yeah. It’s all visual. I’m a terrible writer. Like I told you, we have to talk this through. I’m not going to write any of it.

JB: Don’t you worry. I’m transcribing this stuff. You won’t have to do anything. It’s on me. (ed. note, It took me two and a half months to get to it. My bad.)

With respect to literature, though, that’s not normally the way people use the word. How do you connect the word to the constructed visual experience to which you’re referring?

JG: For the purposes of this discussion, let’s say that photographs look like something, and they’re about something. Those are two things that are totally intertwined. That “looking like” is integral to what they mean. It goes around and around. It’s an unresolvable conundrum.

As a maker of it, it’s a way to think about it. Like, “What are these things about?” And “What have I done to make them look and feel like that?”

You have a photograph in front of you. It’s in your lap, in a book, perfectly reproduced. You can see it absolutely presented. Nothing is hidden. It’s immediate. Every time you turn the page, it’s all there.

If it’s a really remarkable image, you emotionally react to it, you intellectually react to it, and you viscerally, sensually react to it. It all happens at once, in that instant. Similar to the moment of taking it.

This is the end of my Guggenheim Fellowship year, which is on a project that is going to be a book called “The Nicknames of Citizens.” It’s something I started in 2003, thinking about photographing in America, and what the nature of photographing in contemporary America might be.

The only parameters I gave myself were I didn’t want to photograph iconic American cities, in that I didn’t believe America had regionalism anymore. So the places were Memphis, the Mississippi Delta, Rochester, MN, St. Louis, Tucson… just places.

JB: Did you come out of this project continuing to believe there is no longer any regionalism in America? Or did the act of investigating change your mind?

JG: It didn’t change my mind at all. Let’s put it this way: the degree of regionalism that exists is basically irrelevant to what I care about. My pictures, if I do them correctly, will all look like they could have been made in virtually the same place.

There are certain little specific differences, obviously. You can pick out that Tucson doesn’t look like Memphis. But anything that’s to the point of it is all the same. That’s where we’re going.

Walker Evans could go out and shoot Alabama one way, and Bethlehem, PA the other, and he’s stressing the differences. Even Frank’s “The Americans” doesn’t even stress that much anymore. When you decide to do a project on America, you obviously look back.

The bibles of American photography always took that subject on. And it’s interesting to decide to say, “All right. What did they do? What did they achieve? What’s left to do? Is there anything left?”

I’ve made a bet on that, but I’m not quite sure what it is yet.

In the middle of this, out of total happenstance, I wound up photographing kids that want to be artists. 17 year olds. I hadn’t done portraits in years, and I did one day in Rochester, MN, because I had nothing else to do, and it was raining. Every kid I photographed produced a portrait that just stunned me, so I did more of that.

JB: I did see those pictures, in a book at photo-eye. It’s oversized, to say the least. It’s bigger than a coffee table.

JG: It is pretty big. It’s one of those books you put under your bed. Basically, if I come over, you dust it off, you take it out, and then I ask to go to the bathroom, and I can see the square under your bed where the dust had been.

JB: Given how much you’re got going on, are there any upcoming exhibitions we can tell our readers about, or any other new books coming out?

JG: Long-term, in 2015 I have a retrospective show called “Routines” at the Art Institute of Chicago. Book-wise, I have a Steidl book that’s been for sale on Amazon for about six months that we haven’t designed or printed yet. And I’m doing a book with Kominek, the people in Berlin who did Alec Soth’s “Looking for Love 1996.” It’s called “Nothing,” with photographs I took in Saudi Arabia in ’84. Radius is doing a three volume set of color work taken in Italy, with three stories by Marlene Klein.And Aperture is doing a Masters of Photography book, which should be funny.

That’s about it for now.

JB: Thank you.

Italy, 2011

Italy, 2011

Italy, 2011

 

John Gossage Interview – Part 1

- - Photographers

John Gossage: I was just coming over to answer the phone, and I was thinking, “What if the interview is just all lies?”

Jonathan Blaustein: Lies? I’m just interested in things that read well, and are interesting…

JG: Exactly. There’s more interesting things that I can make up than I’ve actually done.

JB: That may well be true. You have my absolute permission to bullshit to your heart’s content.

JG: This is the assumption that previous interviews by me weren’t all bullshit. And most other photographers as well.

JB: That makes for a great first on-the-record question, doesn’t it? Should I expect what you tell us to actually be true?

JG: Just having fun with this, you know what I think the interesting question is? It’s a question that is sort of unanswerable. But thinking about these photos I just made around Albuquerque and Cañon City, do I think that they’re actually true, or are they just good stories?

You never really get an answer to that, as a photographer. You take what you’re offered, and assume it has some germ of both in it.

JB: It might be generational, but you go to college and art school, and they do whatever they can to rub the value out of that word: true. Thanks to the Post-Modernists, it’s almost like I have a reflex. You hear the word true, and you cringe a little bit. I think that’s sad. It should be a powerful word, but it’s been robbed of some of its weight.

JG: There is a generational difference. I had a whole bunch of people from Yale come by a few years ago. Some graduate students and an undergraduate. Really, really smart people. God, the degree of theory they have honed their way to has made them incredibly confused.

The way I came up, there was nobody to talk. Nothing was theoretical. Everything was practical.

JB: Maybe part of the development of that language was a defense mechanism against photography not being considered a real art for so long?

You started making photographs at 14? And you told me you had your first show at 16? Is that right?

JG: It was about 15, if I remember right. I had my first professional assignment when I was 14.

JB: (laughing.) Who gave you your first assignment as a 14 year old?

JG: The Staten Island Advance. A newspaper. I was born and raised in Staten Island, New York, and a school friend’s father was head of the sports desk at the Advance. They had lost one of their photographers. I’d been doing it for the High School newspaper. They said it was better than what they were getting in the regular newspaper, so they asked if I’d like to do some assignment work, if it didn’t conflict with school hours.

JB: Did you look like a 14 year old, or were you unnaturally old looking?

JG: I’ve never had a good idea of what I look like, to tell you the truth. I have a feeling I looked 14, but I had really good equipment. (laughing.) As we all know, from all of the advertisements, good equipment trumps everything.

JB: Are we not now living in an age where that is more-or-less true? The off-the-shelf digital cameras, for $500, are so good that almost anyone can make a passable image. Given how much of the work that little computer chip does. Isn’t it amazing?

JG: The technical end of it has become phenomenally simple. Photography has always been a simple medium, compared to painting in oil or chipping at marble.

JB: Sure.

JG: There was never a lot of technical sweat, if you will, because the machines brought you a considerable distance. It was obviously a lot more sweat, back then. When I was in Santa Fe, I was shooting film with a 2 1/4 x 2 3/4 range finder camera, because for black and white, that produces the best results for me. I’m not wedded to technical stuff at all. I just want results.

When I shoot color, I shoot the highest end digital stuff, because I always hated film color. I sort-of stand in both worlds. But you are right, it’s very easy to make technically good images. What’s absolutely clear is that it’s very, very difficult to make images that are memorable in any particular way.

JB: I agree, and that’s a pretty terrific place to jump off from. At Review Santa Fe, you gave a talk, which I wasn’t able to attend. The word on the street was that you were there as the sober voice of reason. Or maybe not sober? It was a Sunday morning, so were there any bloody marys involved?

JG: My lecture was in a church. A few people took Iphone photos of it, and it really looks like we were delivering a sermon to the congregation. It was really funny.

JB: What was the gist?

JG: They asked me to do certain things. I was meant to speak to an audience of photographers who’d come for the review. People pay a lot of money to get there, so they wanted to give them as much take home as they could. Usually, people ask me to come and explain my work. This was more about whether I could tell them, at this point in their career, how things worked for me, when I was coming up. I said it isn’t really applicable anymore, because it’s a whole different world.

So I told stories, if you will. The running joke was that I was the speaker to crush all hopes, dreams and aspirations. But I think by that point, a lot of people had gotten a lot of opinions from people, so they’d already done that.

JB: You took it easy? I was hoping to get some dirt on what you said to crush all hopes and dreams, but it didn’t come to that?

JG: Basically, there were all sorts of photographers with different ambition levels as far as a career goes. I told them, “I’m a fine art photographer. I show in galleries and museums, and I do photography books. I don’t do commercial assignments.” By this point in my life, I would be awful at it, because I don’t take instruction well.

What does that mean? I tried to base it on the simplest business model. You’re selling a piece of paper for thousands of dollars. Why can you justify that business model? What I’m trying to do is make photographs that don’t fully reveal themselves, except after multiple, multiple viewings.

If a collector buys a $5000 photograph of mine, and puts it on their wall, and they have basically gotten from it everything they can get, in a month…I’ve ripped them off.

I’m actually sitting here right now, and there’s an Atget photograph right next to me that I’ve probably had for twenty years. I just turned my attention to it, swiveled in the chair to look. It still utterly amazes me. It’s the greatest bargain I ever spent on a piece of paper. That’s what artwork has to be. It’s not immediate satisfaction, or the whole business model is wrong. We make objects of fascination.

I saw a few people’s photographs in Santa Fe, but not a lot of portfolios, because I didn’t have a lot to offer to the people who were there. They needed concrete results. The few people who had subtler work, who weren’t getting immediate feedback of “I’ll hire you, or I’ll give you a show”…I wanted to talk to them to say that they may well be doing it right.

Somebody asked me once what the perfect reaction to one of my photographs would be, when someone saw it for the first time. I said it should be sort-of-like, “Huh.” That’s about right. “Huh” means “there’s something there…I don’t quite understand it…but there’s something that attracts me…something that I want to look at again.”

That’s what I try to do for me. To keep me interested in what I’m doing.

JB: How do you go about approaching the concept of subtlety like that? Most of the work that you do involves being out there in the world, navigating, and making pictures. What goes through your mind to force you to pull back? You’re talking about aesthetic restraint, in a sense. How does that work?

JG: It isn’t exactly thought about. When I’m out shooting, I’m not thinking. I’m reacting. It’s almost like the photographs are offered to me. That’s sort of an acquisition phase, if you will.

One of my oldest friends in photography is a photographer named Lewis Baltz. We’ve known each other since the early 70′s. Lewis is the ultimate conceptualist in the way he approaches things. Lewis knows what he wishes to do, and then he makes photographs based on those concerns, based on where he thinks he should go to illustrate those concerns most succinctly. I’m the absolute inverse.

I may set some parameters, like I’m going to Italy to photograph, or I’m going to Berlin. But I’m totally open to the world educating me on what the content is.

Having made photographs for a long time, I trust my ability to make photographs. Things almost appear to me. “That looks like that could be a photograph.” And most of the time it’s not.

I came back from this trip to Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Colorado with about 130 rolls of film, because I was really pushing photographs that I didn’t know how to do. Looking at the contact sheets so far has been depressing. So many mistakes and so many stupid photographs.

Slowly I’m beginning to see the ones in there that are interesting. They’re a surprise to me.

JB: As we said, you’ve been making photographs for over 50 years. What were you doing that you didn’t know how to do? What were these challenges? Were they technical, or spiritual?

JG: It was very practical. I wanted to stand back further. I wanted to see how far I could be away from something and make contact with it. I’ve always appreciated tremendously another good friend of mine, Robert Adams. When you go to Colorado, you think of Bob Adams. There’s no way around it.

JB: Indeed. He owns it.

JG: He photographed things at great distances that seem intimate. I always thought, god, I don’t know how he does that. How does he make that work? I’m not shooting mountain ranges and tract homes.

I’m thinking “All right, step back a little further. Try to make the point of what you’re photographing almost hard to discern.” I failed a lot, because composition is like juggling a number of balls. I can only juggle six at once, and I was trying to juggle twelve.

Most of the time I dropped the ball.

The light of the fires and the smoke changed my whole sense of what light I should be photographing in. Very quickly we lost that clear-cutting Western light, for an overall smoke plume. I did a number of things with that that were of interest to me.

Changing the context of what I was doing, I started photographing right on the edge of Cañon City, where, if the fires had come over the hill that was separating the fire from the city, this neighborhood would be the first to go.

It’s not that uncommon in the West, especially these days, to have these fires. For me it was a totally different way of thinking about the anarchy of nature. (ed note, Now those same folks are worried about flooding at the end of the same Summer. Crazy.)

JB: To me, that’s why Mr. Adams’ work was so successful. It’s his emotional connection to the place. It’s almost expressionistic in that regard. You’re so aware that there was a human being, standing there with a piece of technology, capturing light.

Do you feel like maybe we’re entering a phase where it becomes far more about the accrued wisdom, knowledge and personality of the photographer, instead of just the light and texture and tonality? Does that sound reasonable to you?

JG: Everybody thinks their now is an exception to the rule. I thought so in the 70′s, and the 80′s. You think “We’re different.” The more you look, you realize we’re not.

Let’s just say, in the US, though of course it’s a world-wide community of photography, there are 25 serious voices working today that will be kept. It’s true, there’s a lot more to be disposed of now.

Look at photo books. Someone said we’re in “the renaissance of photo books and the dark ages of content.” That was the quote.

JB: That’s not your quote? Because it’s a good one.

JG: It comes from an email from a friend who I shouldn’t credit, because he’ll get in trouble.

JB: Of course you’re right, that everyone thinks their time is exceptional. But from where I stand, it’s hard not to look at the numbers game. Even if the amount of quality practitioners doesn’t vary, we’re living in a time where there are tens of thousands of photographic artists out there who all believe that they’re the ones who have something to say.

So it does seem exceptional, in that the amount of material that is constantly bombarding us is unique, in the history of photography.

JG: When I was coming up in New York City, there was little outside the city. Photographic education consisted of taking Lisette Model’s class, and maybe taking Brodovitch’s workshop. That was photographic education.

On the East Coast, there was also Minor White, whatever he was teaching at MIT, which I was never quite sure about. And at RIT you could learn how to make film with Kodak. That was the end of photographic education.

Then the programs came along. I taught graduate school for 14 years at the University of Maryland. My sense is that it’s one of the greatest educational failures of the American education system.

The College Art Association did a survey once, that I came across in their magazine. They surveyed people who had MFA’s in all fields, not just photography. They asked, five years out of graduate school, how many of them considered themselves working artists.

Five years out of school, it was 13%.

If you taught medical school that way, you’d be thrown out of school. You wouldn’t be able to teach. It’s a phenomenally abysmal statistic. There are no more really interesting voices out there with school than there were before it.

I think people become interesting in spite of it, as opposed to because of it.

JB: Let’s go there for a second. Is that not something that people are missing in general? The need to be interesting as a human being? The need to cultivate interests and passions, and contradictory attitudes? To take risks, and fail?

Where do people go wrong?

JG: Where do people go wrong? (laughing) I’m not the one to say that. With respect to the programs, I can only speak to the places I’ve been: Yale, Bard, Columbia College. People who have asked me to come and speak recently.

People have to defend their work, week after week. That’s brutal. You have talk about it all the time, but that’s stuff you can’t talk about. There’s this incredible pressure on projects, as opposed to sensibility. Most photographic projects do not resolve a subject in any particularly interesting way. Photography subjects do not tend to come to resolution.

They’re a framework in which a sensibility exists. That’s totally misunderstood by most of the younger photographers I meet. They think that projects are inherently interesting. Most projects aren’t.

One of the people I’ve gotten to know recently, and I’m going up to his opening next week, is Roe Ethridge. He’s a really, really interesting photographer. When I met the students at Yale a few years ago, basically, everybody wanted to be Roe, as far as I could tell. They sort-of admitted to it.

It’s unsolvable, what he does. It’s a mixture of everything. Commercial, un-commercial. We did a talk together in Paris, and he said, many years ago, he showed my book, “The Pond,” to his teacher Ron Jude, who told Roe that I said I made pictures to annoy people. He said he took that as the best gospel he’d ever heard.

I think Roe makes pictures to annoy people, but they’re brilliant. Just wonderful. They have nothing to do with the way I think about books, or sequencing. I enjoy seeing that. His is a unique, original voice.

Art is made by individuals; it’s not made in theory. It’s not made by being reasonable at all. It’s made by being obsessed. And you can’t teach obsession. You can’t teach obsession that’s intelligent and inviting.

People just come up in spite of all this stuff.

[Part 2 Tomorrow]

Canon city CO 2013

Canon City Fires 2013

Trinidad, CO 2013

Young Artists Syracuse NY 2012

Young Artist Syracuse, NY 2012

This Week In Photography Books: Guillaume Simoneau

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

Without intending to, I suppose I’ve become a real journalist. Were we to go back to my first APE post, in the summer of 2010, I suspect we’d find the writing a good deal less evolved. I was faking it until I made it.

I knew I was doing the job properly when I recently interviewed a slightly addled 94 year old man in his nursing home bedroom. I drove 3 hours to Albuquerque, just to get the story right. (And three hours back, obviously.) The conversation was enlightening, as the man reminisced about his experiences in World War II, seventy years prior.

His son, who followed his footsteps as both a doctor, and a conscientious objector, mentioned how differently we view war in the United States, since the abolition of the draft. When it was the law of the land, almost anyone could be absorbed into the fight for freedom. Everyone knew someone who had suffered.

Now, we have what he referred to as a “warrior class.” People who we pay, (and not well,) to do the fighting for the rest of us. I can’t speak for you, but I don’t personally know anyone who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan. I suppose I don’t mix with the warrior class. What I know, I know from the media.

Occasionally, though, one does come across a narrative that cuts through the emotional exhaustion. Dr. Cobb’s tale was one such circumstance. Or the time I talked with Ben Lowy about the way bombs function very differently in real life than they do in the movies. (Light travels so much faster than sound.)

This week’s book is another such example. If you want to feel personally invested in things, if only for a little while, I’d heartily recommend Guillaume Simoneau’s new, aptly titled book, “Love and War,” recently published by Dewi Lewis in England.

I’d heard of this project at Review Santa Fe in 2011, but hadn’t seen so much as a photo. Buzz is a real phenomenon, like momentum, and lots of people were talking about this work at that festival. Still, I never got around to Googling it. (Thankfully. I would certainly not have enjoyed the book as much without the surprise factor.)

Apparently, the artist met a young, beautiful girl at the Maine Photographic Workshops in 2000. It was a different era, as we all know. Nobody gave a shit about Osama Bin Laden, who’s since turned the world upside down, before sinking to the depths of a forgiving sea.

The object of his (and our) affection, Caroline, eventually joined the military, and served in Iraq. She also married someone other than Mr. Simoneau. Eventually, they reunited. It’s implied, though never explicitly stated, that they conducted an affair. I suspect it was a complicated relationship.

The book tells the story in a non-linear fashion. They were together in Goa on 9/11/01, and then another photo shows a newspaper from 9/12/01, photographed ten years later. The headline speaks of George Bush bringing the culprits to the book. Is that a Canadian expression?

Caroline is visually compelling, and all of these photographs are superb. I can see why my colleagues were taken with this tale two years prior. The photos, like the subject, have charisma.

There is an essay at the end, which she wrote, that is like a kick in the gut, by a mule in a foul mood. It hurts, for a little while, but makes the preceding beauty stand out that much more.

I’d bet this is one of those books that will make all the year end “Best Of” lists that will start to pop up before you know it. (Has anyone seen a Christmas tree yet? I wouldn’t be shocked if someone somewhere is trying to kick off the shopping season in September.) It’s a great book, and will deserve the forthcoming accolades.

Most of us will never know what a charred body smells like. Or peek into an exploded tank filled with melted flesh. That’s for the best. Because I now know of at least two people who have nightmares about such things, and I’m glad my psyche was spared.

One last thing, because I forgot to mention it before now. There are photos in the book that show communications, between the lovers, in the form of photographed text messages. I’m sure this has been done before, but it’s unlikely to have been done so well.

Bottom Line: Beautiful photos, innovative story-telling, great book

To Purchase “Love and War” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

 

Art Producers Speak: Mathew Scott

- - 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 Mathew Scott with Hello Artist.  He is brilliant and has worked with us on several projects.

From the series "Jerkin Crews, Los Angeles" photographed for XLR8R Magazine

Sonia Boyjian, photographed for Russian Vogue

Toro y Moi, photographed for Nylon

Seu Jorge, photographed for Now and Again Record.

Adam "Doseone" Drucker, photographed for Anticon Records

Heather Fedewa, of Wax Idols, photographed for Self Titled.

I shot this while on an assignment, using Coachella as the theme for the shoot... This was a pretty hectic three days.

This is from a few days of shooting for myself, while exploring parts of California I had not yet been to. This image was taken in Palm Desert, CA.

Out-take from a shoot in Mission Beach, San Diego.

This was shot in the farm lands of Illinois, while working on one of my first advertising assignments.

From a shoot in San Francisco featuring Wildfox swimwear.

How many years have you been in business?

I have been shooting for about 6 years now.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?

I studied photography at the Academy of Art, in San Francisco. I also feel like I learned a lot from actual experience, especially those first few years out of school. I’d say it’s a good mix of both.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?

I have had many different influences through the years, when I was in school, I was motivated by the creative environment I was in, seeing what everyone else was creating, and really getting an idea of what was possible. After school, I had the opportunity to assist some very busy, and talented photographers. That really helped ease the uncertainty I was feeling about being a freelancer, and motivated me to stay focused, and keep working. A few of my early influences, and people who’s work I still admire would be Arnold Newman, Larry Sultan, Jim Goldberg, Joel Sternfeld, and William Eggleston… Just to name a few.

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?

My inspiration comes from the fact that I do what I love for a living. Every assignment presents new challenges, and I really enjoy that. The feeling you get when you work through an idea, trying different things that might not be working, then you get that moment where everything comes together… That feeling never gets old. I am always trying to one up myself, trying to make each image my new favorite photograph. It can be a little unhealthy at times, but it’s what keeps me going.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?

That has not been an issue as of yet. I feel the assignments I get allow me to be creative, but I also go into a shoot knowing that I am there to create images for someone who has specific needs. Sometimes I get the chance to shoot my own variations, and they end up working out, sometimes I don’t. Either way, I get to bring someone’s idea to life, which is something I really enjoy doing.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?

I use social media quite a bit, mainly Tumblr. It’s a really easy and effective way to get your work in front of a lot of people. I also send out the standard emails, promo cards and booklets, as well as face-to-face meetings. I try to use as many methods as I can, and stick with the ones that work.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?

I’ve always thought that trying to cater to everyone sounded impossible, so just show what you truly enjoy shooting, and keep your edit tight. I feel that showing personal work can be a great way for people to get an idea of who you are, so I always try to show personal projects that I have shot, or am working on.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?

I am. I just finished up a few shoots with a friend of mine, who is a great stylist. We both had some down time, and decided to work together on a few ideas. I also have a couple other personal projects I am working on. I don’t tend to force those, as there is never really a deadline, so when it feels right, I will head out and shoot for a while.

How often are you shooting new work?

I try and shoot as often as possible, on average, probably once or twice a week. I don’t really like sitting around, so when I get the chance to work on something new, it’s always welcomed.

Mathew Scott was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. At age 21 he moved to San Francisco, where he studied photography at the Academy of Art. Mathew currently splits his time between San Francisco and Los Angeles, working on a variety of commercial, editorial, and personal projects.

www.mathewscott.com

represented by Hello Artists-  www.helloartists.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.

Working In China

- - Working

Guest post by Shannon Fagan

My post a couple of years ago about jobs in China on A Photo Editor occasionally generates some interested persons to reach out and take the time to email me about working in Beijing, Shanghai, or perhaps Shenzhen. There have been no takers that I am aware of for the jobs though, and the reasons are interesting, curious, worthy of review. I’m now at the two and a half years point in my relocation from New York City to Beijing; well beyond the rose-colored glasses, but not blinded by the smog either. This is an update to that storyline, which I thought would be interesting to APE’s readership, all of who undoubtedly hear a lot about the wonders of the Chinese economy. So bizarre and numerous are the stories in the news, that now The New York Times, Getty Images, and iStockphoto are all blocked in China along with just about every serious social media outlet produced in the United States, including Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Shaun Rein, an agile entrepreneurial consultant to industries interested in relocations to China, and I occasionally trade communication about the amazing adjustments necessary here and which make working in China as a small foreign business very difficult. Add on top of these situations, that I have initiated a creative-based business, and it’s been a ripe learning experience. In under the first two years, I bailed a job applicant out of a silence-only windowless detention center, was blackmailed by a college student intern, was locked inside of a store and manhandled to purchase knockoff wardrobe, been visited by local officials bearing cameras and voice recorders, been encouraged to pay countless kickbacks (particularly for models), had company salaries removed from the office (while I was on vacation), and then blocked from the market of Mainland China by a competitor. It’s thus a little tongue and cheek to say that I have learned more about operational fundamentals in Beijing via episodes of AMC’s Breaking Bad, than stories in Businessweek. That is not to say that McKinsey and Company level expertise is not warranted in this market, but rather that such operational mechanisms are handled, as Shaun Rein has reminded me, at the Fortune 500 level, and not the small entrepreneurial startup arena of 50 workers or less, locally referred to as SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises).

China is amazingly interesting now; yes, despite the hurdles. We just saw the initiation of a new government and officially mandated Five Year Plan adjustment. The country is blossoming in subtlety as I learn the local language and become increasingly aware of the social context framework. I have, and I really do believe this, the hardest working production team that I have ever had anywhere, here now operational in Beijing. We’re having fun (it’s important to remember that) and we’re making images in droves that were never available before to the Chinese economy (our modus operandi). All are model and property released with technical specifications for global advertising, from a market overflowing in IPR theft and with little historical involvement in international advertising. It’s an entrepreneurial venture that has awakened in me all the challenges that I was seeking and for which New York City no longer provided during The Great Recession of 2008 forward.

This write-up is an insider’s take on the notorious economy in China for foreign commercial art creatives interested in participating. It is important to know that the manner of the mechanics of the economy here in China are different than in the US, where equal opportunity meets equal amounts of work. China is very much divided in the scope of work available and where the jobs are going. In the years since the post on APE, I have come to know, and probably more so accept, that the economy in China is and will be for a very long time barred from foreign participation unless the individual is embedded near permanently locally. This makes what may seem like “doing business in China” very difficult for one-off trips of assignment work. That does not mean that there is no opportunity to pursue, but those opportunities would be best spent (for a foreigner’s time and money), in contacting the normal routes of introduction to clients…i.e., ad agencies in Asia, or, better yet, advertising/design agencies in the West with the interests in sending a photographer abroad to do the work.

That’s the short take.

The longer take, important to us all since this is looking to be among the preeminent future economies in the world, is that the reasons for this lay within the manner in which the Chinese economy is situating itself. The meat and potatoes are essentially this: there are two types of jobs in China.

In Group 1, are the Chinese client jobs aimed to local talent; primarily focused on price (about 1/3rd the foreign norm), and not particularly focused on creative achievement but rather “technical achievement” (can the chosen worker do the work performed?). A lot of the latter deals with lacks of trust running between Chinese society and their government, the manners of establishing credibility in the market, the educational system setup, and the like. The work is provided through networks of communication (one’s work relationships), and it takes time to get those and even longer to maintain them. One would have to be in China to navigate this, and I do not see this system changing in the near future. If one had an interest in pursuing Chinese clientele, the scope of obtaining the jobs is much more labor intensive than a drop of a portfolio and massage of a budget. One would have to be in the trust network, and provide a lot of pre-emptive service to estimate, re-estimate, shoot tests, and the like, in order to establish an assignment. This would be an assignment, which in the end, would not generally remunerate for the time to do this setup work. Thus, the market is going to remain segmented. To do this from abroad is logistically not possible. As Shaun mentions, “it can be challenging for foreign creatives to work with Chinese clients, as historically Chinese firms are not willing to pay top dollar for creative services and consulting while they are for something tangible like hardware.”

In Group 2, there is foreign client work using both local and foreign talent and the work is budgeted according to both international price and local price. It varies widely and depends on the job. These jobs are often being situated in editorial focus, such as events and news stories, corporate portraits, and similar kinds of work. Actual advertising work is channeling for Westerners by the Westerner being connected primarily to the Western client before China becomes the focus. Thus, the manner of getting the work is similar to the way that photographers are marketing now. This is the system in which one has a potential client knowledgeable about their commercial artwork, and the client happens to have an assignment in China, or India, or Chile, or Fargo, North Dakota. This manner protects the photographer for licensing and payment, the bigger concern being simply getting paid. The local established method of money trading hands in China is almost always one half of the money up front, and the other half upon delivery. This delivery part can leave the living-abroad individual hanging if there are not protective mechanisms in the middle. One has very little power in Chinese legal systems (both Chinese and foreigners alike).

After two years, numerous jobs have come across my desk, but in nearly every case they have fallen into one of the two groups above. Time and again, interestingly, I have listened to foreign photographers living in China resolutely state that all their work is generated from foreign-only clients, and I found this odd. Odd because, often their experience, their years on the ground, their language abilities, even their Chinese friends, would all seem to suggest that other options were available to these candidates. But, I did not come across situations where this factually, more than hearsay, appeared to be the case in marketing and actual work performed. It could be that this market in China is generally quite underdeveloped in maturity compared to the Western focus of photography/creative economies seen in other major cities where there is mentorship, “rules” of engagement, and situations inducing competition to innovate. Certainly this is the case to a large degree, as standardization is wide here, but still difficult to measure since there is no over encompassing organization and each individual is mostly left to his/her own manners of development.

China is a very interesting place and economy. In many ways, I wish that there were more easily-situated work available to back up the post online a couple years back, but what I came to learn was that those offers were in Group 1 above, and generally not realistically obtained for those working outside of China. It may be the case that as my understanding of Chinese work and life continues, I will see yet another subtlety to the situation and go back on my analysis here as to why these market offers of work are not being met with foreigners showing up and actually doing that work. Clearly there is money flowing in China and there is work to be had, but it’s the mechanisms and logistics that are barring foreign operators from participation. China has everything that the West has, but it has its own local version: YouKu is China’s YouTube, Weibo is our Facebook, and all of these established Western websites are blocked. This should give a taste for the complications and when one multiplies them by the idiosyncrasies of daily life, it makes what seems as easy as a plane ticket and visa, quite relatively removed.

The bottom line is this: One, do not expect it to be easy to work in China. Two, do not expect on-the-ground support to the degree of comfort and planning that the West offers. Three, plan to exercise a great deal of patience upon each setback. Four, plan on needing to be present for supervision and quality control throughout the process. Five, the cultural barrier is greater than the language barrier. Six, jobs pay less. Seven, everything is transient, have multiple backup plans. Eight, China isn’t inexpensive for foreign businesses anymore. Nine, the Kung Po Chicken tastes better. Ten, the Chinese experience is exhilarating.

This is an image of the sun on a typical bad air quality day in the summer in Beijing. Ironically, for as unpleasing as it is to be outside in such conditions, it can be favorable for the overcast lighting effect and warm color hues that it creates for productions.

This is my smog and UV shield combination that I sometimes use when bicycling around Beijing.

Location scouting in China requires a lot of on the ground hussle and relationship building. Given the hurdles for cultural and language differences, we’ve seen great results by presenting our portfolio and team in person at target locations that we wish to shoot at. We do this in combination with our work in the community to develop mutually beneficial business relationships.

Outdoor locations in Beijing are relatively easy to shoot in since they generally do not require a permit. However, it takes a dance of logistics and conversation should local security arrive. It requires experience to understand who is real security and who is simply instigating trouble for a kickback payment. There are times when we politely engage, and other times when we know that we should wrap set and move on.

My newest favorite piece of equipment is my ultra tall Gitzo tripod. Obtaining international brand photo gear in China can be difficult since the choices are limited. I often transport new items to China after trips back to the United States. Repairs are equally complicated since international shipping is usually required.

We’re often involved in the local community with hands-on demos and recruiting from the local schools, whether that be from photo education, design schools, or business programs. Our best local job candidates come from a variety of backgrounds. There really is no one rule in hiring for production and photography work here. We have developed an in-house method to train our assistants since there is very little mentorship for this profession in China.

This is a behind-the-scenes image from our cover shoot for Time Out Beijing’s “Old Beijing” issue in February 2012. It later was voted as the best cover in Time Out Beijing’s 100 issue history.

Though this may look like the moon, it is actually an unmanipulated image of the winter sun in Beijing on a bad air quality day at noon. Beijing’s air quality levels have come under severe scrutiny in the past year after a particularly bad winter season for air pollution. It is not uncommon for a string of days in the winter months to be recorded at levels above the US Embassy’s top instrument reading of 500 AQI. There was a particular day in January 2013 that was recorded at 755 AQI. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48VAFtUlPLc#t=27

The Beijing winter can be terribly cold and exceedingly smoggy. The particulate in the air often renders one exhausted by late afternoon. In an effort to cut down on exposure, I found that wearing regular ski googles can be an effective shield to my eyes from the air pollution and dust.

 

The Weekly Edit
Michael Muller Shark Portraits II

- - The Daily Edit

Heidi: I know this last trip to South Africa was the punctuation of your shark series and upcoming book/film.  Your next project is more land based but equally as adventurous and photogenic. What is the allure of the safari for you? And what story do you hope to tell with these images?

Michael: I have always had a passion and draw towards wildlife, in fact the first photo I can remember taking at 8years old was of a shark.  Granted it was a photo of a photo in a magazine but I find it humorous how my life came full circle and I have actually made that childhood fantasy come true.  I love being in the wild on land or in the water, it’s just being so close to nature and all the amazing creatures this planet has.  I think people are so removed from nature in this modern age and by being disconnected we are also very un-aware of what is going on to our planet.  The again people i think know but just don’t want to accept or engage it.  It’s much easier sipping a Starbucks in your car and letting someone else deal with it.  The problem is eventually it WILL affect us ALL.  When food supplies from the ocean start to dwindle away, and the fact that 7 of 8 people on this planet live off the ocean, what do you think is going to happen when people can’t feed their kids?  I think your imagination can fill in the blanks.  That is what is happening, we are stripping our oceans of so many species and not giving them enough time to reproduce.  That is what I hope my photos can do, maybe make people stop and take a look at our planet and say “WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?”  I have 3 daughters and some of these animals I am taking pictures of they may very well never get to see in the wild if we stay at the pace we are going.  The fact is we aren’t staying at that pace, we are excelling. In the last 30 years 50% of the Great Barrier reef in Australia is GONE…. YES GONE!  that shows signs of progression which means in 10-15 years it will ALL be gone.  That is the largest reef on our planet, it is a very scary sign and things like this are happening everywhere what people just don’t seem to care, or care enough to do anything about it.

You were wanting to complete this shark project with one last series, which for you was the shark breaching. How does one encourage a breach?

I have had an image in my head for the last 5 years I need to get out of my head and onto a print.  That is a very tough thing when you have an idea and you have to sit with it for so many years.  This image I had was a Great White shark breaching in between my strobe lights at night time.  Capturing a shark breaching in the air is a challenge all its own, but to get lights out far enough and the shark to breach in the right spot in the small window of darkness needed, well that’s basically a small miracle I was trying to pull off.  I have been shooting Great Whites for almost 10 years and have somewhere in the neighborhood of 80,000+ images of this animal.  I have photographed it with my lights in almost every way possible, but this one.  How does one encourage a Great White to breach? Well I wish it was as easy as throwing a tennis ball like I do with my dogs but it’s not.  In order to attain a breach you need to tow a decoy(seal) behind the boat at a distance of 25-40 feet and hope that the shark doesn’t realize it’s not real which they do about 90% of the time.

When a shark breaches, its usually a predatory move and can involve a kill.
Did you feel like you were pressing your luck with your safety for this last trip?

I was in the boat so there is NO danger to towing a decoy.  We are also towing a foam seal so there is NO killing of any animal involved.  The only thing that happens is a shark waste some energy trying to kill a fake seal and probably gets a little frustration at the discovery it’s not a meal.  In all the years I have spent diving with sharks, there has never been any danger presented to me or my crew from the animals.  From the diving side there has, with the risk of bends and running out of air etc but never from the animals.  We take every precaution necessary when we photograph these animals and treat each shoot with the upmost respect.  We are dealing with wild animals so you don’t go in like a cowboy and run wild or that is when accidents happen.  Ego is NOT a good thing to bring to this arena, humility and respect are key when dealing with predators.  Don’t get me wrong one needs a belly full of confidence and to really have a good grasp of one’s fear and to keep it in check.

You had a film crew and scientists along for this trip. What role did science play in timing your trip and picking a location?

I brought a film crew on last years trip as well as this most recent one.  We are cutting the footage into a show and since I was attempting to do something no one has ever done before, I wanted to have it on film for the future.  I can’t go back and do it again had I got the shot so better to capture it in the moment.  Yes I met with one of the Worlds most premiere Great White Scientist Alison Kock who is the Research Manager for Shark Spotters in South Africa.  I met with her to see what I could learn, what I can do to help, what the state of sharks are in South Africa and that part of the World.  She does amazing work tagging and fighting for the rights of these animals in getting laws passed to protect them which is NOT easy.  Commercial fishing is BIG business, its like Oil and they have funds and lawyers and lobbyist that get them what they want which is the ability to make money at any cost.  It is a very David and Goliath type of battle.

What is the hardest part of waiting for the universe and mother nature to cooperate? I mean, you can’t direct a shark, or can you?

Everything about this shoot is hard.  Waiting hour after hour with my eye pressed up against the view finder in a ball on a moving boat tracking a decoy 40 feet away disappearing behind every wave and the knots in my stomach expecting a 15ft shark to pop up any second.  That is what its like to, there is NO warning it just happens and you almost can’t believe its happening.  The other thing that happens is a whole bag full of “Murphy’s Law” meaning every time I went to adjust the piece of foam i was sitting on, a shark would breach.  The camera man would ask me a question and I would turn for a sec to answer and the shark would breach.  I wanted to rip my face off so many times because I knew I was only going to get a few chances at this if that and when those ,missed opportunies happened I was just beyond frustrated. If you want to crush your ego and get really humbled then try shooting great whites breaching off Seal Island in Simons Town South Africa.  And NO I can’t be like, hey “nut Case” come back and do that again, only this time when you breach come at me belly first” and yes we have names for most all these sharks, one of which was nut case.

What did you do to pass the time and how long did you wait between shots?

There is not a whole lot to do to pass the time because you are waiting for this thing to happen and have to be ready at all times.  Sure we would make jokes and try to keep the mood light but for the most part the tension on the boat you can cut with a knife because EVERYONE wants to see the shark breach, everyone is waiting for this moment to happen and we are all focussed on it.  There were many times that an hour would go by with nothing then we would have a breach, but most of the time there would be these times when there would be a series of like 3-4 breaches in like 15min and that would be it so you needed to be ready.  At about 10am the sharks stop breaching cause the sun comes up and the seals then gain the advantage and can see the sharks approaching and since they are faster swimmers the sharks don’t waste the energy and that is when we would anchor the boat and set up my “shark Studio” which I would have multiple strobes in and out of the water set up and shoot the sharks in a “portrait” type session.  That too involved many hours of waiting in between sharks coming to the boat.  There would be none and then without warning we would have 5 sharks around our boat!  it was amazing.

What did that patience and loss of control teach you? and does that ever translate into your commercial work?

The lessons I learn are invaluable, and can be applied mostly to my kids ;)  to my commercial work, heck life in general. I learned to pause and be in the moment, and to trust God.  I don’t think I have ever prayed harder to the point of tears swelling up in my eyes asking god and the Universe to have that shark breach when I needed it to.  I wanted it soooo bad.  What I realized is I had to let it go and give it away before it would happen.  When you hold on to something that hard, and want something that bad, I think most of the time you don’t get it.  Only when you let it go and give it away does it come back to you.  There are many times I have to apply patience on my shoots, and yes all those hours on the boat were great building blocks of patience because no person, no commercial job creates the feelings waiting and watching a 2 ton great white fly 15ft out of the water create.  Also my commercial clients can talk so we can work things out, sharks haven’t learned to speak yet so until they do they are the boss and we are just spectators in their World.

What made you bring a Gary Baseman Chew toy?

Gary is a dear friend.  He takes photos of TOBY, the name of that doll everywhere around the world, every day.  I told him “Gary your never going to be face to face with a great white so let Toby come along on this trip and let him get to experience swimming with a shark which Gary saw the opportunity and kissed TOBY goodbye and put him in my care.  I was very protective of Toby and wanted to make sure he came home with all his arms and legs, which of course he did!!!

Photographs of Michael by: LELAND HAYWARD

Questions for Alison Kock, the Great White Scientist Research Manager for Shark Spotters in South Africa.

Heidi: What was your involvement on this shooting trip with Michael?
Alison: Michael came to chat to me about the sharks of False Bay, to learn more about the incredible dynamics of the cat and mouse game between the sharks and the seals at Seal Island, and to learn more about the ways Shark Spotters was reducing human-shark wildlife conflict issues. Michael also generously donated a new camera to our research program for documenting individual sharks for our photographic-ID catalogue.


Fact-based information is surprising low when compare to other life threatening risks.
Why do you think the hysteria around shark attacks has developed?

I think that people have an inherent fear of the unknown, and in so many respects we know very little about sharks. Even when there is shark news, it usually follows a bite incident, and many people only get to hear and read about this one aspect of sharks. When people set eyes on their first white shark, the words that come out their mouths are not “man-eater”, “ugly” or “stupid”, contrary, the words are usually more like “beautiful”, “graceful”, “powerful” and “humbling”.

How do you think Michael’s images will shape this notion about sharks either positively or negatively?

But, the reality is that most people will never get to see a shark in its natural environment, they’ll never get to experience that insight for themselves and therefore its vital that people like Michael who do have access to broader media which is accessible share their experiences. In Michael’s case he brings a really fresh, raw angle to his photographs which depict their grace, power and beauty in a way that people can relate to and appreciate, whether they like sharks or not.


What has your research uncovered thus far about the influence of environmental variables (eco tourism) on great white shark movement / behavior?

I believe that the more we understand about the behavior and movements of large, predatory sharks, the higher the possibility of increasing water user safety and minimizing shark attacks and their subsequent negative conservation and economic repercussions. So far our research team has documented very predictable patterns in their behavior, such as low presence along inshore bather areas during winter, and high presence during summer. We have also discovered that its predominantly female white sharks present inshore during summer months, which has important management and conservation implications due to threats found in this areas. We have also discovered very strong relationships between white shark presence and water temperature and lunar phase, with the highest sightings when the water is warm (around 18 ºC) and during new moon. These behaviors and patterns are likely linked to better opportunities for feeding on their natural prey or ideal environment to be in.

Are there any new shark safety technologies and developments you can share with us?

There are quite a large number of products on the market already, and development all over the world to test and find new technologies which are both people and shark friendly. Currently though, there are very few products which have been scientifically verified and those that have produce mixed results depending on the species of shark and it’s behavioural state e.g. is it motivated to feed, or is it simply swimming from one place to another after already having a big meal.   In addition to the Shark Spotters program, the City of Cape Town is experimenting with an exclusion (barrier) net at one of its beaches. This exclusion net is different to the traditional shark nets which reduce shark bites by catching sharks and reducing their local populations. The exclusion net acts as an underwater barrier, keeping sharks and people separate, and is an environmentally friendly way to reduce conflict. Other similar concepts are also being trialled.


What is a shark shield?

A shark shield is an electric shark deterrent. Sharks have specialised sensory organs on their heads and snouts which can detect minute electric fields. They use this sense to locate hidden prey. Electric deterrents, in theory, aim to disrupt or overwhelm this sense, to temporarily cause the shark discomfort and have it move away. Research has shown that in some cases they do have an effect, and in other cases they don’t. The bottom line is that as with most safety devices, they can never guarantee safety 100%.


Your organization was founded by Greg Bertish of True Blue Travel and has come a long way from the days of cell phone calls from an overlook.
How does the spotting work now?

The Shark Spotting Program is now recognized as the City of Cape Town’s formal shark safety program. We operate on 8 beaches and employ 32 people from Cape Town’s disadvantaged areas. Shark Spotters are positioned at strategic points along the Cape Peninsula, primarily in False Bay coastline. A spotter is placed on the mountain with polarized sunglasses and binoculars. This spotter is in radio contact with another spotter on the beach. If a shark is seen the beach spotter sounds a siren and raises a specific color coded flag (diagram). When the siren sounds the water users are requested to leave the water and only return when the appropriate ‘all clear’ signal is given. The program not only offers direct safety, but provides employment and capacity opportunities for previously disadvantaged members of our community, and it conducts applied research to better understand white shark behaviour and movements, and trial and test new safety technologies. Shark Spotters’ core mission is to find pro-active, environmentally friendly solutions to reduce shark-human conflict, for the benefit of both people and sharks.

If I wanted to donate to shark spotters how would I go about doing that and what would that contribution be supporting?

We have a number of ways people can donate to our organization. The quickest and easiest is via our PayPal account (http://sharkspotters.org.za/donations). They can also visit that link to make direct transfers into our bank account. We are a registered NPO (NPO 060-390) and Public Benefit Organization (PBO 93037 421). We are also registered under Section 18(a) of the Income Tax Act and are therefore able to issue donations receipts that can be redeemed against an individuals or organizations taxable income.

 

Why Is There Sexism in Editorial Photography?

- - Working

Guest Post by Erin Patrice O’Brien

I was doing a shoot last week for Golf Digest with Christian Iooss, the magazine’s director of photography. We were photographing a celebrity who golfs with a bunch of set-ups. I have worked with Christian and his deputy picture editor, Kerry Brady, a few times in the past.

It occurred to me that this was probably Christian’s first shoot where he just happened to be surrounded by all women. On that day, my two assistants,Lyndsey Newcomb and Rebecca Reed, were women, and the prop stylist Helen Quinn also had an entirely female crew. Christian and I talked about the differences between men and women photographers, some of which were apparent, others seemingly assumed by certain photo editors.

I always recognized that the editorial side of media seems to embrace, or at least maintain, the good-ole-boy network. It’s bothered me for some time, particularly given the female talent in the market on the demand and supply sides. There are plenty of amazing women photographers out there who are not getting hired by magazines in spite of the fact that the majority of photo editors are women. I’m pretty sure the break out among photo editors is 80% women and 20% men. With that figure in mind, I realized that of the editors who hired me it was a 50/50 split of female to male. The same thing goes for art buyers. Seriously.

After the shoot, Christian forwarded me a thoughtful blog post by a photographer named Daniel Shea. Daniel observed that there was an absence of women working on the magazines for which he was currently shooting and questioned why?

Thank you, Daniel. I have been questioning this for a very long time.

When in college, I spent hours at the library, looking at photographers whose work captured my imagination. I was into Sally MannNan Goldin,Richard Avedon and Helen Levitt. When I opened magazines, I was inspired by the work of Annie LeibowitzSheila MetznerSarah MoonPeggy Sirota,Pamela HansonBrigitte Lacombe and Ellen von Unworth. They were doing what I wanted to do. They were women photographers with their own vision who were making beautiful work. Mary Ellen Mark was my idol, closely followed by Melodie McDanielCleo SullivanDana Lixenberg and Elaine Constantine.

I would scour magazines to find the latest and most interesting work. I would rip out the pages from VibePaper, and i-D with the work of Melanie Mcdaniel, Elaine Constantine, Dana Lixenberg, Cleo Sullivan, Anna Palma and Corinne Day. They inspired me. I loved their work. I loved their perspective. It made me think in a different way, and I learned from it. I would read The New York Times and be inspired by Brenda Ann Keneally. I printed at Printspace next to Baerbel SchmidtJustine KurlandImke LassSylvia OtteGillian LaubElinor CarlucciTracey Baran and an assortment of guys whose careers took shape much differently than mine.

When I arrived in New York City in 1995, I began assisting many photographers, including Jill GreenbergTria Giovan, Anna Palma and Ellen Silverman, none of who had assisted and all of whom had their careers going. I also worked for a bunch of male photographers. It was much harder to be a female assistant. I would work for fashion photographers as a second assistant and literally feel invisible on the set because the other women were skinny models who were sixteen years old. When I would pick up from the equipment rooms at any of the big studios, I was routinely treated like a “girl who couldn’t possibly know anything.” The men running the equipment rooms were bullies who hated their jobs and took it out on assistants who were not part of the cool club. Pier 59 anyone?

What I learned from Jill Greenberg was that you didn’t have to know everything technically. One could figure it out by experimenting or have an assistant show you how to do it. I saw her experiment and test things and be creative. She knew what she wanted. Jill was just a year older than me and she was doing it. We had our differences, but she took Michele Pedone and me under her wing and gave us solid work for a year on cool shoots as opposed to working for still life photographers wiping off perfume bottles.

When I look through magazines or online, if I see a picture that I love, 9 times out of 10 it is the work of a female photographer.

George Pitts was instrumental in hiring women and black photographers and showing a completely different perspective to the world. Vibe was first where I saw many incredible female photographers. It was breathtaking. Pitts told me once that he thought women were better photographers and it really stuck with me because I agreed. My favorite photographers have always been women.

I can’t tell you the number of times that people would come to my shoot and walk right past me looking for the photographer. Or how many times that I’ve been asked if I was the makeup artist simply because I was a woman standing on the set.

Some female photo editors who will go unmentioned that I have worked with put their own glass ceiling issues above women photographers.

Translation: Women don’t frequently help other women in business, even when it benefits both. A lot of times my work and that of other female photographers is relegated to the front of the book (magazine speak for work appearing before the feature well), while male photographers get the cover or the big feature story. Conversely, some of the male photo editors that I’ve worked with have given me some of my most challenging assignments that I am sure a female photo editor in the same position would never give to a woman.

There are many female photo editors who really do hire equally and have supported me throughout my career, and I am very thankful for and could not have succeeded without them: Leslie dela Vega, Doris Brautigan, Nickie Gostin, Michelle Molloy, Brenna Britton, Kathy Ryan, Crary Pullen, Lucy Gilmour, Donna Cohen, Rebecca Simpson Steele, Amelia Haverson, Fiona MacDonagh, Kathy Nguyen, Rebecca Horne, Heidi Volpe, Florence Nash, Helen Cannavale, Phaedra Brown, Julie Claire, Ernie Monteiro, Donna Cohen, Sarah Harbutt, Yvonne Stender, Kate Osba, Raquel Boler and Michele Romero…to name a bunch.

When I was pregnant, I was worried that no one would hire me if they knew, so I didn’t tell any photo editors until I wasn’t allowed to fly anymore. After I had my daughter, Maya, photo editors like Marianne Butler, Victoria Rich and Suzanne Regan hooked me up with jobs that were in NYC for a while, or said you can bring the baby.

When I get a call for a shoot, usually my first call is not to secure an assistant, but to make sure I have childcare coverage. I live in a community where I know other parents that are able to pick up my daughter if my shoot runs late or even have her sleep over. I feel blessed to make a living as a photographer. I love what I do.

And those skills of being able to manage a business, a household and a child are things that have taught me to troubleshoot and always be prepared for surprises that require solutions. I know that if an assistant, stylist or babysitter doesn’t show up I will still be able to do the job.

Daniel Shea says, “In my own personal experience shooting high-profile people and situations, shoots can get tense quickly, and you have to be able to be aggressive and assertive in a time-crunch situation. That is in no way meant to suggest that women can’t do that, but here is where sexism rears its ugly head—if women are perceived as being less able to handle those situations, that can definitely factor into the decision to hire men.”

The constant multitasking that is my life as a woman, mother and photographer makes me more qualified to deal with time crunch and stressful situations better than most. I am completely confident when doing three set-ups in an hour, which I did the other day, or handling the “you will have 10 minutes with this person” shoots. I can do these shoots with my kid pulling my hair or climbing on me because I can shut out everything except the shoot. It’s the nature of the job. It’s also my life.

One photo editor I spoke to told me, “As a photo editor (and not a photo director), I get to choose a short list of photographers, send them to my boss and hopes that he/she picks the one I want to use. I think a lot of time PEs want to hire women and their directors go for the guys—I don’t know why that is, maybe because they have a history, maybe its because their name is better-known. I have had many—MANY—conversations with editor friends of mine who keep having to hire the same male photographers because that is what their boss wants, I think most, if not all, PEs see the ratio and realize it’s fucked up.”

Women and men get different things from their subjects. It’s how we relate to each other. This is an important conversation. I know that Daniel Shea is compiling a list of female photographers that he would endorse which is great. I have my own list worth sharing.

My list has been in my head since I started shooting, and it keeps getting bigger. I am always checking out and inspired by the really cool work of women photographers. What female photographers’ work matters most lately? Delphine Diallo and Sarah Wilmer blow me away. Livia CoronaLauren GreenfieldGail Albert Halaban and Elaine Constantine are all doing things in different media, but to great effect and on their terms. Dulce Pinzon,Maggie SoladayAmanda Kostner and LaToya Ruby Frazier are pushing cultural, social and economic boundaries with their extraordinary work. Sandra Myhrberg started her own fashion magazine, called Odalisque, where she employs a ton of women photographers. And the female brands behind some of the biggest corporate brands: Olivia Bee and Elizabeth Weinberg.

That Daniel Shea is bringing up this issue is important. But what of the many women—photo editors, for example—who can do the same but choose to sit on the sidelines instead, avoiding taking risks and playing it safe to their own career benefit? Women will rise in greater numbers when other women take risks by pushing the talents of unknown and little-known women, and by the continued support of men who have the power and influence to get women recognized. It’s not an either-or scenario. Both things have to happen. And men need to stop hiring other men who are just like them. By default that places women at a disadvantage.

Here is a big list of women photographers who are all…. killing it.

 

Portrait

Alessandra Petlin http://alessandrapetlin.com

Alison Aliano http://www.alysonaliano.com

Angie Smith http://angiesmithphotography.com

Anna Bauer http://www.annabauer.com

Annie Liebowitz http://annieleibovitz.tumblr.com

Autumn de Wilde http://www.autumndewilde.com

Barbel Schmidt http://www.baerbelschmidt.com

Cara Bloch http://carabloch.com

Cass Bird http://www.cassbird.com/

Catherine Ledner http://www.catherineledner.com

Christina Gandolfo http://www.cgandolfo.com

Dana Lixenberg http://www.danalixenberg.com

Danielle Levitt http://daniellelevitt.com

Darcy Hemley http://www.darcyhemley.com

Delphine Diallo http://www.delphinediawdiallo.com

Dulce Pinzon http://www.dulcepinzon.com

Elaine Constantine http://www.elaineconstantine.co.uk

Elizabeth Weinberg http://elizabethweinberg.com

Emily Shur http://www.emilyshur.com

Erika Larsen http://erikalarsenphoto.com

Erin Patrice O’Brien http://erinpatriceobrien.com

Eugenie Frerichs http://eugeniefrerichs.com

Flora Hantijo http://florahanitijo.com

Gabriela Hasbun http://www.gabrielahasbun.com

Gillian Laub www.gillianlaub.com/

Guzman http://www.lesguzman.com

Jessica Antola http://antolaphoto.com

Jessica Wynne http://jessicawynnephoto.com

Jill Greenberg http://www.jillgreenberg.com

Kendrick brinson http://kendrickbrinson.com

Kyoko Hamada http://www.kyokohamada.com

Lisa Wiseman http://www.lisawiseman.com

Lamia Maria Abillama http://www.lamiaabillama.com

Lori Adamski Peek http://www.adamskipeek.com

Mackenzie Stroh http://www.mackenziestroh.com

Martha Camarillo http://marthacamarillo.com

Mary Ellen Matthews http://www.jedroot.com

Megan Peterson http://www.meghanpetersen.com

Meredith Jenks http://www.meredithjenks.com

Michele Asselin http://www.asselinphotography.com

Michelle Pedone http://www.michellepedone.com

Morgan Levy http://morganrlevy.com

Naomi Harris http://naomiharris.com

Olivia Locher http://olivialocher.com

R. Jerome Ferraro  http://www.jeromepix.com

Robin Twomey http://www.robyntwomey.com

Sage Sohier http://www.sagesohier.com

Sarah Wilson http://www.sarahwilsonphotography.com

Susana Howe http://www.susannahowe.com

Sylvia Otte http://www.silviaotte.com

Sarah Wilmer  http://sarahwilmer.com

 

Lifestyle-Fashion

Amanda Marsalis http://www.amandamarsalis.com

Anna Wolf http://www.annawolf.com

Beth Perkins http://www.bethperkins.com

Brigitte Sire http://brigittesire.com

Catherine Wessel http://www.cathrinewessel.com

Chloe Aftel http://www.chloeaftel.com

Christa Renee  http://www.christarenee.com

Debra LaCoppola http://photoduo.com

Ditte Isager http://www.ditteisager.dk

Emily Nathan http://www.emilynathan.com

Erica Shires http://www.ericashires.com

Ericka McConnell http://erickamcconnell.com

Jennifer Rocholl http://www.jenniferrocholl.com

Karan Kapoor http://www.karankapoor.com

Kate Powers http://katepowers.com

Kathryn Wolkoff http://katherinewolkoff.com

Melanie Acevedo http://www.melanieacevedo.com

Nina Anderson http://www.ninaandersson.com

Olivia Bee http://www.oliviabee.com

Samantha Casolari http://www.samanthacasolari.com

Sarah Kehoe http://www.sarahkehoephoto.com

Sue Parkhill http://www.sueparkhill.com

Terry Doyle http://terrydoylephoto.com

Thayer Gowdy http://thayergowdy.com

Venetia Scott http://www.clmuk.com/photography/venetia-scott

 

Fashion and Beauty

Amanda Pratt http://www.amandapratt.com

Amber Gray http://www.ambergray.net

Anna Palma http://annapalma.com

Caroline Knopf http://www.carolineknopf.com

Catherine Servel http://catherineservel.tumblr.com

Chloe Mallet http://www.raybrownpro.com/

Claudia Fried http://claudiafried.com

Claudia Goetzelman http://www.claudiagoetzelmann.com

Cleo Sullivan www.cleosullivan.com

Colleen Rentmeister http://www.colienarentmeester.com

Corinne Day http://www.corinneday.co.uk

Daniela Federici http://danielafederici.com

Elinor Stigle http://www.ellinorstigle.com

Ellen Stagg http://thestaggparty.com

Ellen Von Unwerth http://www.ellenvonunwerth.com

Gabriele Revere http://www.gabriellerevere.com

Indira Cesarine http://www.indiracesarine.com

Jamie Isaia http://jamieisaia.com

Jennifer Livingston http://www.jenniferlivingston.com

Julia Pogodina http://www.juliapogodina.com

Karen Collins http://karencollinsphoto.com

Kate Orne http://kateorne.com

Liz Von Hoene http://www.lizvonhoene.com

Melodie McDaniel http://www.melodiemcdaniel.com

Micaela Rosato http://micaelarossato.com

Ondrea Barbe http://ondreabarbe.com

Pamela Hanson http://pamelahanson.com

Paola Kudacki http://www.clmuk.com/photography/paola-kudacki

Sandra Myhrberg  http://sandramyhrberg.com

Sarah Moon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Moon

Sarah Silver http://www.sarahsilver.com

Sheila Metzner http://www.sheilametzner.com

Stephanie Rausserhttp://stephanierausser.com

Yelena Yumchuk http://www.2bmanagement.com/

 

Still Life, Food Interiors Lifestyle

Alexandra Rowley http://www.alexandrarowley.com

Amy Eckerton http://www.amyeckertphoto.com

Andrea Chu http://chucandy.com

Andrea Gentylhttp://www.gentlandhyers.com

Andrea Wyner http://www.andreawyner.com

Anita Valero http://anitacalero.com

Anna Williams http://annawilliams.com

Aya Brackett http://www.ayabrackett.com

Beth Galton http://bethgalton.com

Beatriz Dacosta http://www.beatrizdacosta.com

Burcu Avsar http://www.burcuavsar.com

Diana Koenigsberg http://www.dianakoenigsberg.com

Ellen Silverman http://www.ellensilverman.com

Erika Rojas http://erikarojasphotography.com

Erin Kunkel http://erinkunkel.com

Katherine Barnard http://kathrynbarnardphoto.com

Leela Syd http://leelacyd.com

Linda Pugliese http://www.lindapugliese.com

Ngoc Minh Ngo http://patbates.com/ngoc_minh_ngo/

Melissa Punch http://www.melissapunch.com

Moya McAllister http://www.moyamcallister.com

Maura McEvoy http://www.mauramcevoy.com

Rachel Watson http://rachelwatson.com

Rita Maas http://www.ritamaas.com

Sara Remington http://www.sararemington.com

Tara Donne http://www.taradonne.com

Tria Giovan http://triagiovan.com/

 

Documentary

Amanda Koster http://www.amandakoster.com

Amira al Sharif http://www.amiraalsharif.com

Anastasia Rudenko http://www.anastasiarudenko.com

Andrea Gjestvang http://andreagjestvang.com

Annabel Clark http://www.annabelclark.net

Brenda Ann Keneally http://www.brendakenneally.com

Chiara Goia http://www.chiaragoia.com

Chloe Dewe Mathews http://www.chloedewemathews.com/hasidic-holiday/

Christina Paige http://www.christinapaige.com

Dorothy Hong http://www.dothong.com

Elissa Bogos http://elissabogos.squarespace.com

Ericka McDonald http://www.ericamcdonaldphoto.com

Emily Berl http://www.emilyberlphoto.com

Erin Siegel McIntyre http://about.me/erinsiegal

Gail Albert Halaban http://www.gailalberthalaban.com

Imke lass http://imkelass.com

Jessica Dimmock http://www.jessicadimmockphotography.com

Katarina Premfors http://www.katarinapremfors.com ngo, inspirational

Kate Brooks http://www.katebrooks.com

Kathryn Cook http://www.agencevu.com

Katrina Dautremont http://katrinadautremont.com

Latoya Ruby Frazier http://www.latoyarubyfrazier.com

Lauren Fleischman http://www.laurenfleishman.com

 

This post originally appears here: http://erinpatriceobrien.tumblr.com/post/60936647347/a-response-to-sexism-in-editorial-photography

This Week In Photography Books: Palíndromo Mészáros

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

I’ve made a huge mistake. Of course, you’ll assume I’m quoting Arrested Development. But I’m not. I haven’t even seen the new episodes, as my ass-backwards slow Internet is not good enough for Netflix streaming service.

I’ve actually made a huge mistake. Last week, I told you about my voracious neighbor, who is re-shaping nature to fit his whims. He has the money to do it, and that’s all that matters. But I used that intro a week early. Should have saved it for today.

Such a bummer.

Now, I don’t have an opening rant worthy of the book I’m about to discuss. I already talked about the fact that we manipulate the Earth’s environment at our peril. So what am I supposed to open with today? The Beatles? Chemical weapons in Syria? Why Tony Romo sucks, despite the fact that the Cowboys beat the Giants Sunday night?

F-ck it. I’ll just talk about the book.

“The Line” is a new soft-covered publication by Palíndromo Mészáros, published by the Universidad de Cádiz, in Spain. In case you’re wondering, I’ve always had fantasies of being an old, crinkly retired dude, sipping sherry in Cadiz, staring out at Morocco. Does that have anything to do with the book? Of course not. But since I cut the intro short, my personal narrative is creeping deeper into this week’s book review.

The book includes a tan band that sits snugly across the bottom, like a band-aid covering a bloody wound. Were that the simile were less appropriate. Alas, it is.

Remove the partial-slip-cover, and you’re faced with a photograph of a forest, with the bottom of the trees covered in ochre. (I love that word. Makes anyone who uses it seem smart. A lesser mind would just say red.)

What’s going on here? You’ll have to wait to find out. Next comes a piece of translucent, Rioja colored paper that’s partially blocking a somewhat-cliché photo of a road, receding into the distance. Yes, we’ve all seen that picture before. But at the beginning of a book, it’s obviously being used to lead us into the narrative. Nice device, I say.

Soon, we see a beautiful, flowering tree, covered, to a point, with that same ochre dust from the cover. The architecture screams Europe, but what’s happening here? Has Christo gotten loose with the paint again? Is it a large-scale performance piece that we just haven’t heard of yet?

If only.

The line of dust continues, through the eerily empty, mostly bleak landscape. Ominous vibes are building, for sure, but not until we find some text, in the middle of the book, do we know what is going on, and where in the world we are.

Apparently, on October 4, 2010, a horrible industrial accident befell a couple of villages in Hungary. 35 million cubic meters of toxic waste swept through the area, killing some, and ruining the environment. Perhaps forever, but it is not specified. The text is originally presented in Spanish, and the subsequent English translation is a bit Googly for my taste, but I suppose it is kind-of endearing. (And the Roger Fenton, Atget and Bill Owens references are right up my alley.)

From there, the line winds through the rest of the book. The photos are uniformly well-made, and contribute to the overall-very-high-quality-nature of this publication. Really, it’s just so well-thought-out.

It closes with what we assume to be the factory itself, then a big pile of the red stuff, and then a second sheet of the see-through elegant paper. Fantastic, if tragic. (How many times have I echoed that sentiment, as so many photo books deal with difficult subjects?)

The book accompanied an exhibition of the work, and both, presumably, received public financing in Spain. That the brokest country in the world is supporting artistic documentation of an environmental disaster in another European country is enough to get you out of bed in the morning. (That, and good night-dreams about waking up to cafe con leche and churros, before switching to sherry and tapas. Man, those guys have it good, even if they do have 25% unemployment. Not a bad way to spend a job-less day.)

OK. We’re done here. Yes, I’ve shown you most of the photos in the book, because there aren’t that many to begin with. But don’t be a mooch. Buy the thing, and support some Spaniards while you’re at it.

Bottom Line: Exceptional production of a far-too-common occurrence

To Purchase “The Line” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

 

Art Producers Speak: ioulex

- - 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 Director: I nominate ioulex and have been a fan since they first started shooting. They bring such craft and care to the photos they take and you can see this in the work they do. The photos are unique and beautiful. It’s been great working with them and watching their career grow. I don’t say this about a lot of people but I do think they are iconic for our generation and will continue to get bigger and bigger.

Portrait of Diane Pernet in Paris

Annie Morton in Pennsylvania

Choreographer Benjamin Millepied for The New Yorker

Actor Adam Driver for Flaunt magazine

Young actress Odeya Rush for Flaunt magazine

Portrait of Mykki Blanco for Flaunt magazine

a still life from our installation at Audio Visual Arts gallery in New York

from a fashion story featuring Iris van Herpen couture collection for Big magazine

Costume designer Christian Joy in her studio, for The New York Times T magazine

Painter Damian Loeb in his studio for The Block magazine

Designer Thom Browne for Standard magazine

Designer Thom Browne for Standard magazine

How many years have you been in business?
We’ve been shooting as a duo for about 7 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
We both graduated from Parsons School of Design, majoring in graphic design. We studied in Paris and New York. We took a couple photography classes, but nothing extensive. We are basically self-taught in photography.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
We are mostly influenced by cinematography – the work of our favorite DP’s — Sven Nykvsit, Sasha Vierny, and Raoul Coutard. Also the films of Cassavetes and Fassbinder. As far as actual “working photographers”, we are very much in awe of some of the inexhaustible Magnum members – Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Steve McCurry. The thought of them continuously producing brilliant work over a long period of time is very inspiring.

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?
We never feel like we’ve exhausted all the possibilities, there is so much you can experiment within image making. Whenever we see a new beautiful film, a dance performance, visual art exhibition, it makes us excited about photography again, thinking how we could translate or evoke something we saw using our tools, in two dimensions, for an editorial shoot or a personal project.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
No, we haven’t been in a situation like this. Maybe because we don’t shy away from talking to the client, communicating what we’re trying to accomplish. Of course it’s crucial to work with creatives who are confident and passionate about what they do and, very importantly, choose us for the right project.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
We update our website regularly, and share specific new projects with individual art buyers and creatives.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Nobody wants to see anything, they are bombarded from all directions. The only way is to share specifically on an individual basis, to be aware what clients the art buyer is working with, what their background is, what their taste might be like.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
We really feel like you can only shoot for yourself, whether you’re getting paid or not. We always have something in the works.

How often are you shooting new work?
In addition to editorial projects, we have on-going personal series, and some spontaneous little projects that we make up every day.

Photography duo ioulex is Julia Koteliansky and Alexander Kerr. They graduated from Parsons School of Design, and live and work together between New York and Paris. Their images appeared in the New York Times T magazine, New Yorker, Die Zeit, Big, Flaunt, and Dossier Journal. Ioulex’s work was exhibited at Audio Visual Arts gallery in New York, Colette in Paris, and Diesel Art Gallery in Tokyo among others. Advertising clients include Helmut Lang, Bloomberg, and Zara.

http://ioulex.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.

Zack Arias Interview

- - Photographers

Jonathan Blaustein: What’s the story with the beard? How long have you had that not-quite-quasi-ZZ-Top-looking thing?

Zack Arias: I have not seen my chin in sixteen years. I had a goatee after high school, and then in ’95, I went on a trip around the US, and I decided not to shave. It’s a really good device to cover up double-chins.

So I’ve just stuck with it. I had to cut it off once for a part-time job delivering pizzas. Other than that, I’ve had this stupid monster on my chin for a long time. One reason I keep it is it’s a reminder that I can’t go back to a normal day job. I have to make photography work for me.

It’s lost all its color, though, after four kids. It’s all gray and white. Part of me is ready to lose it, but none of my kids know me without it.

JB: I’ve had mine about as long as you’ve had yours. I can’t really imagine going back, they do become a part of our personality, no?

ZA: They do. I would not be able to think about things without it. Whenever I’m thinking, I twirl and pull on it. If I cut it off, I would be so lost.

JB: It’s a good point. It definitely is an advantage for guys like us. It makes us appear smarter…

ZA: Yes.

JB: …and it gives us that extra beat. That extra two seconds to figure something out. You touch it, and look pensive, but really you’re thinking, “I don’t know what to say, and I need to come up with something quickly.” Is that about right?

ZA: (laughing) That is exactly it.

JB: Our secrets have now been divulged to the cyber-sphere.

ZA: Awesome.

JB: Isn’t it safe to say you don’t have any secrets from the cyber-sphere?

ZA: Not too many. I try to be a fairly open book, wherever I am in life. I used to operate differently. I would play my cards close to the chest, and embellish whatever I was working on so people would believe I was working on more important things than I was. The whole fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude.

That didn’t go well for me, and my whole life fell apart. I’ve always been active on forums, or some sort of water-cooler-esque type of thing where photographers commune and get together. I just decided that when I came back to photography, I would be truthful with myself, and my colleagues. For better or worse.

And it’s been a lot better. I don’t feel like I have to position myself with anyone any longer.

JB: And yet so many people are nervous and afraid to speak their mind. Wouldn’t you say?

ZA: Yes. I think so. Some people are nervous about sharing where they are in their life or career, because maybe they have to keep up the persona that “Hey, I’m busy, and things are going great.”

In a world where we all need to be nice, and professional, and everybody’s worried about sticking their neck out, or saying anything that isn’t nice…if you have a problem about something in your industry, you keep your mouth shut.

There are fantastic arguments to be made for that. I do bite my tongue a lot. But then there are times that I let it loose. I’m going to say what I think, and try to be professional, and hope that works out well.

JB: I can relate. When I started writing for Rob, almost 3.5 years ago now, he encouraged that type of honesty. I remember being really uncomfortable the first few times I let it fly. His advice, which I took very seriously, was that people respect honesty.

In my research, looking at the way people respond to you online, where you have a huge presence, it seems like there’s been a correlation with your success. Or am I assuming too much here?

ZA: I would agree with you. My goal is not to build a community, or build numbers, or get people to follow me or read my stuff. My goal is to interact with my industry, my peers and colleagues, and help out where I can.

But I am going to say what I think. The people I interact with, I want them to be the kind of people that understand that. They don’t have to always agree with me, but there has to be a mutual respect.

I don’t want to make everything sugar-coated and happy, trying to bring in as many people as possible without ever stepping on toes. I think people do react to people who are genuine. People who are honest.

You can tell that about someone by just going through their twitter feed, or reading a few blog posts. I think my number one hero in this industry today is Joe McNally, and he is the most genuine, humble, truthful, tell-it-like-it-is kind of guy.

He’s very helpful, doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he’s honest with his success, and his failures. I love that man, as a photographer, as well as a person. There’s not many people I look up to more than McNally.

We’ve all met the divas and the rockstars, and their ego enters the room before they do. I don’t want to associate with that, really.

JB: As a photographer, have you found that working in such close quarters with people, under pressure-packed environments for years, that you can kind of smell that ego and attitude as soon as it walks in the door? How are you at getting quick reads on people? Is that a skill you think has evolved?

ZA: Absolutely. Maybe it’s a personal skill that you just bring to photography, or to life. But being a photographer, especially working in editorial or commercial fields, you never know who you’re going to be in front of, and who you’re going to be interacting with, day to day.

You get an email that says you’re assigned to go shoot Mr. Jones, over at ACME company, and when you walk through the front door, you have no idea who you’re going to meet. It is a good skill to be able to size people up quickly.

In photography, you don’t have very much time to interact. If I feel like this person is puffing themselves up, that lets me know how to deal, and get the best picture out of them. Sometimes, I’ll play into that, if it lets me make the best portrait I can.

Other times, I feel like I need to bust through the veneer, and I understand the veneer, because I too had that myself. But I want to bust through that, and get something different.

It’s a good skill to have, but I can’t say if photography has taught me that, or not. You get that gut feeling about someone, when you meet them.

JB: Speaking for myself, it’s definitely a skill that I’ve learned over time.

ZA: Yes.

JB: I know I was naive and worthless for some time. But pushing 40, I feel like I’ve begun to figure it out. It’s funny, because in a youth-obsessed culture, we often under-value these skills that you can only learn from taking your knocks.

ZA: Have you seen Craig Ferguson’s rant on youth?

JB: No.

ZA: It was one of his opening monologues. Fantastic. He comes out and says, “I’ve figured out what all the problems are.” He talked about the fact that society used to appreciate experience, wisdom and age, and then it turned to celebrating youth, and became stupid. That kind of thing.

I just hit 40, and I start to worry, am I going to be as relevant? Every art buyer I meet is fresh out of school, and twenty-something, and here comes the gray-haired old guy. But the reason that I really appreciate where I am in life now, though I know I still have a long way to go, is that I bring experience to things that don’t have anything to do with lenses, cameras and lights.

I can walk in a CEO’s office, or a hip-hop studio that’s filled with weed smoke, and I can do my job. Experience is invaluable.

JB: We’re all looking for that sweet spot. Because we’ve all seen work by older photographers, and we scratch our heads and say “when did he lose it?” So a lot of people are wondering “how do you keep it?”

ZA: I hope that the hunger to evolve always stays with me. This October marks the ten year anniversary that I left my day-job, and put a stake in the ground. I said, “I’m gonna be a photographer, dammit.” I had failed before at this venture, and this was my second chance to make it.

I’m proud of what I’ve done over the last ten years, but I want the next ten years to look different. When I hit 50, I want to change it up again. I don’t want to settle in.

JB: But for you, it’s not just shooting, of course. I think a lot of people are familiar with you through your web presence. You’ve got a popular tumblr in which you answer people’s questions, and you just turned that into a book.

You make yourself accessible to others, and you teach workshops, sell T-shirts. Do you see teaching as much a part of who you are as clicking the shutter?

ZA: I do. I actually had to back off on teaching, because I’m a photographer. I’d been asked to do some workshops, and I really enjoyed it, so I did some more. Then, a lot of my regular music-industry client work fell out from under my feet.

Teaching kind of caught me, so I started doing it more. But then, all of the favorite pictures I was creating, at that point, were at workshops. Not personal projects, or going out and getting steady client work.

I was becoming miserable as a photographer. I’ve watched photographers become popular with their web presence, start teaching, and stop shooting. We don’t really see them take pictures anymore. Yet they’re constantly out there saying, “Come on photographers, I’m going to help you out…to do the thing that I don’t do anymore.”

I love teaching, and I’ll continue to do it, but I want you to find me with a camera in my hand. I don’t want to just set up at the end of the dock and sell bait. I want you to find me with a hook in the water, and if you ask me what I’m doing, I’m going to tell you, and share my experience.

I don’t think I can be a relevant teacher, if I’m not out there shooting, and working with new technology. If all of your stories are, “Well, ten years ago, I was on this job…” I’d rather say “Ten days ago, I was on this job, and this is how I dealt with it.”

JB: I want to talk to you about Cuba, because the Santa Fe Workshops is sponsoring this interview, and a little birdie told me that you did a workshop with those guys in Cuba. Then I saw on your blog that you made some images down there as well. So I thought maybe we could consider you our resident Cuba expert for the day.

ZA: For the day, yes.

JB: Are you comfortable with that moniker?

ZA: I’ve only been one time, with the folks from Santa Fe. They brought me in to lead a group of photographers through Havana.

JB: So what did you think?

ZA: It’s an Un-Believable place. And the people are so amazing. Cuba is just an unreal, fantastic place. The thing I tell people, when I start talking about it is, get your ass to Cuba. Get there now, before it opens up. Before the casinos come back, and there’s a Starbucks on every corner.

It’s a remarkable place that is just on our back door.

JB: What were some of the things that were most appealing to you?

ZA: The people were the most appealing, number 1. Number 2, it was meeting fellow photographers, Cuban photographers and artists.

They have done so much with so little for so long that they can do anything with nothing. Some of the best photography that I’ve seen in a long time was done by Cuban nationals that are down there.

The stories that they tell, like when the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba was the red-headed step child, and they got dropped. “Sorry, you’re on your own.” One photographer was telling me that during that time, there was no film. But he had gotten his hands on some expired, 35mm movie film, and he and a buddy of his cut it up, and put it into canisters. But they didn’t have any chemistry. So they went hospitals and doctor’s offices, and got the expired chemistry that they used for making X-rays.

With vinegar and water and such, they built their developer, stop and fix, and it was super-contrasty, but it worked. So they kept shooting.

I met another photographer who had gotten hold of an old Nikon D40, or something like that, and he had an old Minolta lens. Of course, the lens didn’t fit on the body, and there were no adapters. So he would take pictures by holding the lens in front of the body, and focusing it, and he made it work.

As far as other forms of art, it’s like, I’ve got some phone books, and a cardboard box, a broom, and someone’s going to make prints. It’s a purity, and I walked away from that experience in Cuba looking at all of us photographers in the West, in the developed world, and we have everything, and we’re not doing anything with it.

They have nothing, and they are pouring out their heart into the craft. They are so sincere about photography, and art in general. We went to a ballet school, and a boxing school, and the kids are so passionate.

It blew me away, and showed me how fat and rich and spoiled we all are. I left half my gear in Cuba. I dispersed it to people who needed it, and the next time I go, I’m going to buy some used stuff, or things I’m not using much, and leave all the gear there.

“You need a camera? Here you go. You need a flash, here you go.” You take down some AA batteries with a recharging unit, and you’ve made a friend for life.

JB: It sounds like the experience offers the photographers who come down to the workshop more than just the chance to photograph old cars and beaten up doors and windows.

ZA: Absolutely.

JB: It seems like degraded, weathered old Cuban things are images that we’ve seen so many times. How are you able to guide people away from just clicking the shutter at cliché?

ZA: You’ve got to remember, some people just enjoy photography for the sake of photography. They’re not trying to cure cancer with their camera. They’re not trying to be the next Richard Avedon, or Mary Ellen Mark. They go to Cuba, and they cannot wait to shoot an HDR picture of an old Chevy.

That is their dream, and they’re going to go home, and make a big print of it, and put it on their wall. Then, they’re going to sit back with a huge smile, because they’re going to remember going to Cuba, and getting their HDR picture of an old Chevrolet on the side of the street. And they’re going to love that.

You and I will scoff, and gag, and say “NO!” and tear at our clothes, but you’ve got to let people just enjoy it. Sometimes, I’m jealous, because there’s a lot of pictures I never take because everyone takes that picture, and I’ve seen it a million times.

What I tell people, especially on something like going to Cuba, is let photography be secondary. Your camera is your passport into experiences. There’s an old Jay Maisel quote that I harp on all the time: “If you want to become a more interesting photographer, become a more interesting person.”

You do that through increasing your experiences in this life, with the people you meet, and the things that you see. Going to Cuba will definitely make you a more interesting person. It opens your eyes to things, socially, politically and economically. You come back different, with a new perspective on life.

The pictures are good and fun, and of course you want to go down there and make photos. My thing is portraits, so I wanted to get some of those, and street photography and such. But when I think of Cuba, it’s not about the photography. I think about the people, and the music and the food and the art. Sitting out by the ocean, watching the young kids jump in the water. And the rum, and the cigars.

And the stomach bug I had for two weeks after the trip…

JB: OOOOOH.

ZA: All of that. I don’t think about the pictures, but the camera is what took me there. It allowed me into the doors of people’s homes, places I couldn’t have entered otherwise. The camera was the excuse to share a coffee with someone, which was far more valuable than whatever picture I took.

Does that make sense?

JB: Of course. It’a heck of an answer. So good that I’m going to spin it on you. Given how well you just described Cuba, now I’m a little curious about where you’re based.

I’ve only been through Atlanta, the ATL, one time. It was very brief, many years ago, and let’s just say my memories were clouded. We’ll leave it at that.

What’s it like down there in Hotlanta? You’re from Georgia, right, so this is home turf?

ZA: Home turf. Yes. I wasn’t born here, but I moved here when I was three, so close enough.

JB: That will qualify. Is everyone hangin’ out with Ludacris, smokin’ blunts and going to Braves games? Or what?

ZA: That’s just our life. No, Atlanta a great, big city that allows you to do whatever you want to do with your life. It’s got a big enough population, 5 million and growing, that it can handle that, but it’s still a small town kind of feel. The life in Atlanta is all about the neighborhoods.

Our downtown kind of sucks. Don’t bother going there. The life is in the neighborhoods. We’re a networking city, so we love to connect people with other people. Whenever I’m out talking to someone, very often I’ll say, “You know what, you need to meet this other guy I know, because he’s working on something you could connect with. I’ll put the two of you together, because I think y’all could do something with that.”

I get a lot of work in Atlanta like that. Two people are having a conversation, and then my name will get dropped into there, and then I get an email connecting me to someone else.

We’re a great hub. I love our airport, because I can go anywhere in the world I need to be.

And I would say we rival New York in food. If you want to come and eat amazing food in Atlanta, I will send you home fat, happy, and bloated out of your mind.

JB: Something tells me New York wouldn’t necessarily compete with you guys on the biscuit and gravy front. I would think you have that all wrapped up.

ZA: I’m talking international cuisine. Not just southern food. One of our favorite places to go eat is this little dive called Hankook Taqueria. It’s a Korean taqueria with a little Southern flair to it. It’s unreal.

We have the best pizza you’ll ever put in you mouth, in this town. And I’ll say that to any New Yorker.

JB: Are you intentionally trying to provoke controversy here? I feel like you are. If you’re going after pizza…

ZA: It’s hip hop. You’ve got to have some rivalry. We got to talk crap about other places and people.

JB: (laughing.) So this is now the pizza version of Dirty South claiming supremacy over NYC-style hip hop? Is that where we’re at?

ZA: That’s where it’s at.

JB: It’s hard out here for a pimp. Is that what you’re telling us?

ZA: (laughing) One of my top three favorite movies ever, right there. Hustle and Flow.

JB: It’s a great, great film. I actually found that out by reading an interview you recently did in which you claimed that those interviewers were the most prepared and excellent that you’ve ever interacted with. So I felt that, given I was guaranteed to not be number 1, I could just be lazy. I didn’t have to do any prep.

I really felt empowered by the fact that someone else was automatically better than me.

ZA: (laughing) Well you should. Because Tina and Ryan at The Great Discontent are…

JB: They’re better than me.

ZA: They’re blog gods.

JB: I hear you. I’m not even being sarcastic. I accept the fact that I am a blog human, and not a blog god. I’m empowered by it. You’ve done me a favor.

ZA: Come on? Don’t you want to rise up to the occasion?

JB: Nope. Nope. I’m a lazy, GenX slacker, man. You’ve been generous with your time. Is there anything else you’d like the audience to know about? When did your new book come out?

ZA: It’s been out a month or two. I can’t even remember.

JB: Where can people find that? Amazon?

ZA: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, things like that. But I don’t want to toot my own horn here. I do want to give a shout out to you, and Rob, and everyone working with A Photo Editor. You’re my number 1 photography-related blog that I follow.

There are a lot of good photography blogs, but about the industry, and working, and the people that you profile, everything Rob’s built has been fantastic.

And a shout out to the Santa Fe Workshops too. They took a chance on me, doing this trip to Cuba, and I appreciate that. Get your ass to Cuba. That should be the name of this article.

JB: Get your ass to Cuba. That’s the un-official title. And that was very classy of you. In all of my interviews, you’re the first person who’s ever turned it around with a reverse shout out to us. Good on ya.


The Weekly Edit
San Franciso Magazine: Claudia Goetzelmann

- - The Daily Edit

 

San Franciso Magazine

Design Director: Ellen Zaslow
Art Director: Ron Escobar
Director of Photography: Ilana Diamond

Photographer: Claudia Goetzelmann

In what ways has your globetrotting life influenced your work?
As a visual artist you draw from your influences and I believe the more we expose ourselves to new experiences and foreign cultures the ‘richer ‘our lives will be.  It gives inspiration and keeps the spark alive – to create and stay fresh and current with our art forms. I believe my globetrotting life has given me many of those inspirations and shaped me in many ways. The way I see the world and the way it helped to formed my vision and style in my images. I am German, so that carries a very graphic element and then all those years in Asia – that is kind of calm and zen and California is colorful.
I feel like it is all that, and maybe it is a little bit whimsical, a little bit understated. People tell me that my work is impactful but also has a somewhat playful vibe to it. It feels fun and dynamic and fresh. I think that is because that is who I am.  I think I don’t take myself too seriously, and my photos reflect that.  I think its because of all my travels, the countries and cultures I lived in, one has to be open minded. We can learn so much. It keeps me moving intellectually and grow as a person and as an artist.

How many languages can you speak and has that ability ever helped you land a project?
I speak German and English and I used to speak Indonesian quite fluently, a bit of French and Spanish. I am not sure if it helped me directly to land a project but I am sure it helps being a worldy citizen and knowing how to connect to foreign cultures. ( I know 5 words of Russian too!) I have been in Moscow for a job and spend a bit of time there exploring the city. So it was nice to relate to some local customs and cultural trades etc. while shooting w/ Maria.

For the design of this fashion story, it has qualities of a moving image with the layout, was that your idea to present to the magazine?  ( with the smaller images like a film strip )
The filmstrip idea was a collective decision made at the magazine after the shoot. There are soo many amazing images that is was really hard to choose just one image per look/ per page. So why not emphasize the movement aspect and showcase more images at the same time. What a fabulous idea!!!

How much direction do you get from the magazine? and what specifically was your direction for this project?
When Ilana Diamond (PE) approached me about the project its was quite clear that is was an assignment tailored for me. Fashion merged with movement = Claudia Goetzelmann. The idea was to showcase the latest fall fashion trends on Maria while she is dancing/ moving around her favorite neighborhood in San Francisco.
While talking to Ilana and Ron Escobar (Art Director) it became quite clear that we also wanted to make sure Maria’s fun and quirky personality would be reflected in the images. A dream assignment for me! We scouted the area where we wanted to shoot and attached a look to each location. But we also left a bit room to play. And it was also a lot about embracing my shooting style and vision. Being as prepared as one can be in advance (the German in me takes over) it allows time to play and let magic happen. I loved shooting with Maria. She is such a pro. She knows her body and her movement so well and she loves fashion. It was such a pleasure to collaborate with her on this project!

Your cover is perfect for supporting the cover lines/logo was that shot discussed or this was an organic moment and it become a cover?
San Francisco Magazine and myself have the same approach towards cover attempts. We can aim for a particular look but should be thinking about the cover at all times during the shoot. It leaves room to play and think outside a grid. We had some generic ideas about the cover.  But when Maria was wearing the Valentino Daft Ceramic Mood coat and dress it became clear that this would be an amazing cover option.

Do you supply and motion for their ipad issue?
Yes, the Magazine does, you can view it  here.

Aside from shooting the fashion feature I meet up w/ Maria at the Ballet studio one morning to shoot some frames of her training – the magazine wanted to keep the visual language aligned throughout the story.

I see you also had another image in the magazine along with the feature, how did they come about?
They also asked me to shoot the LOOKER page (one cool fashion accessory) – we shot a McQueen bag and McQueen shoe. The loved both so they used one in the content page and one in the actual LOOKER page. They usually don’t do that.  I feel so honored that the Magazine embraces my photography that way.  I truly enjoyed working with the team. I was a wonderful collaboration from the beginning to the end.

You call your self and integrated media photographer, director of photography. What exactly are you trying to tell people with this title?
I started shooting/ directing videos a couple years back and I wanted people to know that I am doing that. I can shoot still images and also shoot the video part of the project if applicable. Its important for me to stay up and current on the latest happening and requirements of technology. I want to be able to offer such services to my clients.

I see on your site you’ve broken out SWIM/LINGERIE and LIFE/MOVEMENT what made you call out SWIM/LINGERIE and not simply call it fashion 1, fashion 2 and so on?
I feel it needed its own category. I already have fashion 1, 2, 3, 4 . There are tons of images on my site and I want to keep it simple and fast digestible for the viewer/ visitor so they can get to what they are looking for. My work lives in the Advertising and Fashion world.  Potential clients who look for Fashion might not be interested in the Life and Movement part or Advertising clients might not want to look through all the Fashion. The way we live now our attention span has become extremely short. Its all about the instant. I hope by breaking out those categories it will help navigate my site and work.

 

When Photographers Become The Media Buy, Ad Agencies Get The Deal Of A Lifetime

- - Working

Guest post by Mason Adams

Compared to print and web, mobile advertising is cheap. A print insertion can cost $40 CPM (Cost Per Thousand) while popular sites like Gawker sell banners for $10/thousand. Mobile averages $2.85.

This summer Mercedes hired 5 Instagrammers with the mobile­-centric agency Tinker Street to shoot their own road trip in the new CLA class ­- the person with the most likes at the end of the trip won a 3 year lease on the car.

“Take the Wheel brings together some of Instagram’s most influential photographers including: Paul Octavious(432,000 followers), Tim Landis (523,000 followers), Michael O’Neal (487,000 followers); Alice Gao (538,000 followers); and Chris Ozer(503,000 followers). Each “like” from their followers will bring them closer to the car.”

It’s a direction many brands and agencies are experimenting with and it begs the question: are the photographers being paid for their images or for access to their followers?

According to the Mercedes social media lead, the CLA Instagram campaign reached almost 90 million impressions (number of photos multiplied by the number of followers on the 5 accounts).  At $2.85 CPM that comes to a media buy of $256,500, or a minimum fee of $50,000 per photographer (on top of the normal creative fees and expenses).  Except that engagement on Instagram is normally 18 times higher than other mobile services. On the upper end, that’s $900,000 per photographer. Even without knowing the exact numbers, it’s easy to speculate that by hiring Instagrammers, Mercedes got the deal of a lifetime in advertising.

Photography is still the most important and impactful tool for advertisers to spread their message. This isn’t just an opinion,­ it’s reflected over and over in the statistics of companies that use photos to promote their products online. If educated about the true costs of advertising, I imagine that photographers with a large online audience would think twice about selling their followers out for a 3-year car lease.

Mason Adams is an artist manager and freelance photo strategist for advertising.

 

This Week In Photography Books – Asako Narahashi

by Jonathan Blaustein

My next-door-neighbor spent most of the summer erasing a hill. Even now, as I sit and type, enormous machines are cranking and clanking away. They dig the dirt, gather the boulders, and then large trucks come and cart the land away.

He’s building a road a few hundred yards up the valley, so the hill has slowly disappeared, while the road takes form. Though humans are at nature’s mercy, we do our best to deny that reality. Foolishly, we think we’re capable of more than we are, simply because we know how to design and build things.

Most of the time, we only scratch the surface of this enormous orb. Occasionally, as we’ve seen in photographs of mining operations, we bore down a bit further. Either way, we rarely consider that the Earth is thousands of miles deep. There are rivers of water, and then lava flows, beneath the concrete on which you tread.

Wherever you live, it is difficult to get a fresh perspective on things; to be reminded our precious turf is a small fraction of the planet. Aerial photography is often used for this purpose, and it works. And we can all conjure the image of Earth taken from space. Close your eyes and try. (It’s not difficult.)

Asako Narahashi has come up with a different methodology: photographing land from the perspective of water. Wade, swim, photograph, and everything will look different. I know this, having just put down “Ever After,” the artist’s new monograph put out by Osiris. It is one beautiful production.

That’s the word that kept popping into my mind: beauty. How often do we dismiss that term as not-significant-enough? How many of you have that as your simple goal; the creation of beautiful, well made things? Were you to read the lengthy interview with Ms. Narahashi at the end of the book, (which I admit I only skimmed,) you’d see that she has loftier ambitions.

But I’m not sure they’re met, and I’m not sure they’re necessary. Looking at the photo of light gleaming off the ocean waves, with Mt. Fuji looming in the background, I wonder whether I could ever want anything more? Wow, is that a gorgeous picture. Though I haven’t complained until now, I’m actually feeling rather crappy, laid up with a cold. That photograph made me forget about my temporary troubles. I could look at it forever, withering to dust.

Flipping through, I briefly considered that the photos represent the view from inside a Tsunami, barreling towards shore. But they lack the sense of violence, so the thought was quickly discarded. And I was surprised when I recognized Amsterdam, seen from the vantage of a canal.

Only then did I realize the book moved beyond Japan’s shores, with photos taken in Dubai, Santa Monica, Brooklyn, and other places. It made for a nice diversion from my virtual Japanese vacation. Less successful was the later interspersing of land-based images. Certainly, though, the artist is free to mix up her pictures as she chooses.

That’s about it for today. I’ve got to go take some cold medicine, and put my sorry ass to bed. But this book is a keeper, and I’d heartily recommend it for your Fall Season Shopping List.

Bottom Line: Gorgeous photos of (mostly) Japan, taken from the sea

To Purchase “Ever After” Visit Photo-Eye

 

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

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

 

Art Producers Speak: Eugenie Frerichs

- - 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 producer: I nominate Eugenie Frerichs. She is a Portland, OR based photographer. She has several sites worth looking at. She most recently documented people behind Chilean Patagonia National Park and farmer’s in Colorado. Her work is visually stunning, filled with such emotion and hope.

Emily on the phone. From the series North Fork Valley, a study of farm life in Western Colorado, 2012.

Chicken. From North Fork Valley, 2012.

Buckley, Kebler Pass, 2012.

Corey, Fern Gully, 2012.

True Grain Farm, Kispiox, BC. From the photo series for Modern Farmer, 2013.

Rémy, Pemberton, BC. From Modern Farmer series, 2013.

Pinot Meunier. From North Fork Valley, 2012.

Jano. From series of portraits of the people building the future Patagonia National Park in Valle Chacabuco, Chile, 2012.

Britta. Valle Chacabuco, 2012.

Corey and the radio. Alaska, 2013.

How many years have you been in business?
I’ve worked in the photo industry in one form or another since 2005, mostly as a photo editor, then art director and art producer. I started focusing on my own photography in earnest about three years ago.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Somewhere in between. I have a degree in art history, and assisted a photographer during college, but mostly I’ve learned from the industry itself, having worked on set in so many different roles. A lot of observation, getting in over my head, and learning by doing. I also have very generous photographer friends who have helped me tremendously over the years.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I saw Alec Soth give a talk recently where he said he had two artists hunkered on his shoulders, Robert Adams on one side, Weegee on the other, opposing forces influencing his work in equal parts. I liked that image, though mine would be with Dorothea Lange and Taryn Simon. They are both truth seekers making work in the realm of nonfiction, but they go (or in Lange’s case, went) about it in very different ways – a bit of editorial, a bit of fine art, one from the hip, the other very conceptual and calculated. I have been working to strike a balance between these two ways of shooting in my own projects, and try to channel the wisdoms of Lange and Simon to make better, smarter work.

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?
Nothing inspires me more than hitting the road, truck packed up with gear and dog, maybe a loose schedule but ideally a lot of room for the unpredictable. Most recently my work’s been focusing on farm life and what I’ve been calling the “modern wild”, which requires that I head into far off places, rural communities, mountains, deserts, coastal areas – epicenters of ways of life that fascinate and inspire me. Finding stories in these zones, and attempting to tell them best I can, keeps me fresh and feeds my curiosity (which never seems to be satiated). I save my pennies to make these trips possible, and as for turning them into paid work, well, I just have to trust that as long as I keep doing this – pursuing stories that are interesting to me, and shooting them in a way that feels true to my style – then eventually it will resonate with the right someone at the right time. This could mean a long life of dirtbagging in my truck! But an example of this did just happen, when a road trip I’d been planning from Portland to Alaska turned into a month-long online series for the magazine Modern Farmer. It’s a very cool new publication out of the Hudson River Valley, with a smart team of writers and editors. It’s been exciting to work with a publication that is so aligned with what I’ve been pursuing on my own.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I can’t say I’ve experienced this as a photographer, but I’ve definitely seen it play out when on set in other roles. The creatives want one thing, the clients want another. I have a friend who says she treats every client job like an art school assignment – creative challenges that keep her brain in shape. That’s a smart way to look at it – turn the potential tension into a teachable moment.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I am still very much in the realm of just shooting and sharing what I’m up to with peers via the usual digital channels. For longer-term projects, grants and residencies become important, and eventually exhibitions – all things that can drum up great PR. I also find a lot of value in being part of the audience, not just needing things from it; stepping outside of my own work, and engaging with the art community when I can. Last year I joined the board of the Portland arts org Photolucida, and have made so many more connections that way, just by showing up and getting exposed to new work and an inspiring community of artists, curators, and editors. Making real human contact – I like that stuff. It goes a long way.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
From my experience as an art producer in the ad industry, I’ve seen that often an artist’s personal work is the work that gets the job. Not always, but often enough to take notice. So I guess the advice I’d give is what I’ve been telling myself, too: Just pursue what you love and be genuinely psyched about it. Sounds trite but I really believe it. Set your own course and boldly stick to it. No apologizing for the weird things you love, this will yield better work in the end. I think art buyers recognize this, and appreciate originality and authenticity far more than knowing that you’re technically able to shoot what you think they want you to shoot.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Yes, always. For example, I’m writing this from Alaska, wrapping up two months of work on a new series.

How often are you shooting new work?
As often as I can. I learn something new every time I head out, so I’m kind of hooked.

Eugénie Frerichs lives and works in Portland, Ore. though travels often in search of stories on farm life and the modern wild.
www.eugeniefrerichs.com
http://nonsurveillee.tumblr.com/
http://instagram.com/elfrerichs
hello@eugeniefrerichs.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.

Sam Abell Interview

- - Photographers

Jonathan Blaustein: Are you still in love with photography, or has it gotten boring after all these years?

Sam Abell: That’s a good question. I was asked by a student what my most significant accomplishment was at National Geographic, after thirty years, and I said that my career came to an appropriate close, and I still loved photography. Not everybody who spends their career at anything ends up fascinated and involved with it.

I think that it’s workshops, honestly, that have kept me keen about photography, and about my photography. My career as a workshop photographer came while I was at the Geographic in the late 70′s, and has continued consistently since then.

It actually has transcended my career at the Geographic, so that when my career there ended, I had momentum as a teacher, and a belief in photographic education at the workshop level.

JB: Forgive my ignorance, but you speak of your role as a photographer in the past tense. How and when did that come about? Do photographers retire?

SA: (laughing.) Well, I can’t speak for other photographers, but the photographers who went forward strongly when the so-called “official” part of their career ended, to me, were those who had taught. Teaching enriches and enlivens one’s work.

When assignments were over, photography continued. One of the primary reasons it did was that I wanted and needed to have fresh work. Also, it’s very stimulating to be around non-professional photographers. They’re the ones with the purest flame burning about their photography. I appreciate that.

My Dad took a workshop from a photographer who worked at the Toledo Blade, a newspaper I delivered. I knew this photographer’s work. My Dad took a night class from him at the University of Toledo. Without that class, I wouldn’t have become a photographer, because my Dad came home and taught me what he learned in class.

People say to me, “Who’s your favorite kind of photographer?” Or “Who would be your favorite photographer to have in a workshop?”
And I always say, “My Dad.”

My least favorite photographer to have would be myself. Someone who wanted a career at National Geographic. Because it’s almost mathematically impossible to achieve that. It’s more difficult now, to be a Geographic photographer, than it was when I came along. And it wasn’t easy at that time.

JB: That’s the assumption that a lot of people are making these days. I often find myself talking about the literal tens of thousands of photographers who’ve come through art schools and educational programs in the last few decades. To speak nothing of the everyday hobbyists and enthusiasts.

If I was able to travel back in time, and tell you in 1974 that there would be 5 billion camera-phone wielding photographers in a few decades, what would you have said to something like that?

SA: That would astonish me, of course. For example, in my dorm, at the University of Kentucky, I had the only camera. I don’t think anyone came to college with a camera, other than me.

JB: People are constantly trying to parse what it all means. It seems like some people are astonished and excited about the fact that the world has become obsessed with our particular passion. Then you see a camp that’s almost resentful, because citizens are undercutting a lot of people’s jobs. The entire landscape seems as if it’s built upon earthquake territory, at this point.

How do you view this incredible shake-up that we’ve seen in a pretty short span of time?

SA: I’m in the first camp. I’m glad about it. I welcome it. I’m keenly interested and excited for this moment in photography, and am glad to have seen the evolution of it.

It was unexpected, of course, although I was a consultant for Kodak back in the late 80′s. There were engineers there who told me that in the future, most photographs would be taken on telephones. They weren’t able to do anything with that. They were engineers, not management.

But that’s the first time I heard about that astonishing idea. And now I’ve been watching the tsunami of images.

The class that I teach is called “The Life of a Photograph.” It takes up the question, of the billion photographs that were taken today, how many will have a life, and why? So the new reality has made the question more pertinent, not less pertinent.

JB: Anything that has any potential to stand out, one in a billion, needs to have something special about it. That seems like an obvious assumption. As a teacher, how has your approach to people’s expectations shifted?

SA: It’s shifted in a good way, away from what you might call the singular successful image, to the sustained body of work. Yes, there are billions more photographers, and billions more photographs every day, but who’s building up a point of view? Who’s photographing with intention, and whose body of work will sustain itself and survive?

This might seem off the track, but an interesting thing to me that others could talk about better than I, but one of the growth areas in photographic education has been the so-called slow photography. The tin types, daguerrotypes, collodion process…old processes, in short. Old, time-consuming, craftsman processes in photography.

The thing with my workshops is, photography is a thoughtful process. In an atmosphere of fast photography, and generally thoughtless, quick, automatic photography, I think that there is an interest in the slowed down, thoughtful approach. Even though I teach with 35mm, my method takes people by surprise, because it isn’t fast, and it isn’t about hardware or software, or even great results. It’s about great process.

JB: You’ve been teaching at the Santa Fe workshops, the sponsor of this interview, for a really long time now. How did you originally get involved with Reid and the crew?

SA: I met Reid at the Maine Photo Workshop, where he was #2. I saw him in action there, and when he went out to Santa Fe, I wanted to help him succeed. So my connection to Santa Fe is very closely, and continuously a connection with Reid. I believe in him and his philosophy of photographic education.

I teach at a couple of other workshops too, but I’m most loyal to Reid, and he’s been very loyal to his teachers, and to me personally.

JB: Do people come to study with you with the secret hope that you’ll help them launch the one in a million shot at National Geographic? Or do you mostly get students who appreciate your vision, and your understanding of color and light?

SA: Increasingly, it’s people not interested in National Geographic. In the last workshop I taught, a woman flew in from Thailand. She’s a medical doctor in Bangkok. I asked her in her one-on-one session where she wanted photography to be in her life.

Did she want a second career? Was it about earning money? Or was it art? And she said “None of those. I want photography to be serious in my life.” It would be like someone wanting music, like piano playing, to be a richer, deeper, and maybe even harder experience.

That’s who comes to my workshops. I jokingly tell my students that the class could be called “Your photographs: Better.”

JB: Well I’m sitting here, and it’s probably morbid, twisted professional curiosity as much as anything else, but I’m looking at “Stay This Moment,” one of your monographs, that I got at the Taos Public Library.

I’ve got the book open to a photograph of some cowboys castrating cows. This one guy actually has a surgical blade, covered with blood, jutting out of his teeth, while he’s getting ready to do some business.

SA: Right.

JB: It says something about me that I’d choose to leave that page open…

SA: (laughing)

JB: …but it seems as if you’ve seen quite a few crazy things in your days of traveling around the world taking pictures. Is that a safe assumption?

SA: That’s safe. But the picture that you chose is a singular picture for me. Probably the most singular. It’s on the spine of an upcoming publication of mine, in four sections. In other words, there’s four boxes, and each box has a section of that picture.

JB: And that’s a Radius publication?

SA: Yeah, that’s right. Though Geographic didn’t publish that photo in the story that it was done for, “The Life of Charlie Russell,” a cowboy artist in Montana. But later, maybe a year and a half ago, they named it one of the 50 greatest pictures ever made at National Geographic.

The picture has had a life, and after Geographic didn’t publish it, I got busy and published it in the book that you have, and wherever I could publish it. It’s a photograph that has gone on to have a life.

It’s also a good example of how I teach the composition of photographs: from the back to the front. Even though the picture is dominated by the cowboy in the foreground with the surgical knife in his mouth, the composition begins with the landscape, which was the first thing I saw.

Then it jumps forward to the cowboy, and everything in between is what I’m looking at. The last thing I’m looking at is the red bucket, as it exits the frame.

But the picture wouldn’t exist if the cowboy on his horse in the distance weren’t above the horizon. If the horizon were going through the head of that horse, I wouldn’t exhibit or publish that picture.

There are things that I teach, about building photographs, and that’s why people come to my workshops. Word has gotten out: Sam Abell has a way to take pictures. When people come to the workshops, they’re consumed with seeking the subject, and I teach seeking the setting.

JB: It’s kind of you to share that with the audience. I’m looking at these cowboy pictures, and they’re so iconic, I can’t help but segue to the fact that you were, at one point, the photographer entrusted with creating the massively important 20th Century archetype of the Marlboro Man.

As a National Geographic photographer, and an editorial guy, how did you come to work on that campaign?

SA: Well, I did it once, and they recruited me. I did it primarily out of curiosity. A lot of legendary photographers had worked on that campaign. Ernst Haas had done the early photography, and I knew him. There’s a lore in photography about that campaign, and I was curious.

So I did it once, and they asked me to do it again, and I declined, because my curiosity had been satisfied. It was enjoyable, interesting, and an insight into Americana on several levels that I couldn’t get any other place. Insights into advertising, and big production photography, which is the opposite of what I usually do, operating as a single person.

It was interesting to see the spectacle of a shoot like this, but it only occupied three or four days out of my life.

JB: Wow. Where were you guys shooting?

SA: New Mexico. Over where the Philmont Scout Ranch is located. The other side of the mountain from you.

JB: Up by Cimarron?

SA: Exactly.

JB: Who knew? I don’t like to be predictable, but given that our audience has risen up in anger many times about what Richard Prince did to you, or to your picture, I’d be a fool if I didn’t at least bring it up.

We all know the circumstances through which appropriation got hot in the Art World, and came to represent Post-Modernism. I would guess almost all of our audience will sympathize with you, as opposed to Mr. Prince. But would you mind if we briefly discussed your reaction to the way your Marlboro Man photo was appropriated?

SA: Let’s put this way: Richard Prince’s most famous photograph was made by me.

JB: Right. What does it feel like to be in that position?

SA: I will just say, appropriation is an intellectual idea until it happens to you. It’s a philosophy, and it’s got its own intellectual framework. Then there’s what happens when it’s your photograph. Then it’s personal, and that’s all I’ll say.

The reason I don’t want to say anything about it is it has a strange power to take over the conversation. Just like it’s doing with us. I was asked to participate in a documentary about Richard Prince, and be the voice of someone who was appropriated, and I declined. The reason I did is I don’t want it to be the subject of the discussion of my work.

It has that power.

JB: I appreciate that, and I will honor you and move off topic as we speak. I brought up the cowboy images, because they’re so powerful in this particular book. Clearly, through your work, you’ve been able to travel quite a bit. Now, I’m looking at a picture of Lake Como, and there are also pictures here from Japan.

Is there anywhere in the world that you always wanted to go, and haven’t yet had the chance? Or have you scratched all of your curiosity itches?

SA: I would like to go to Antarctica. That’s about all. I’m very involved in photographing America now, so I don’t think of faraway places, as I did when I was young. As I said in the Radius book, I now want to be a photographer of my time, and our common culture.

It’s what I’m photographing, and I’m very involved with that.

JB: Where have you been photographing lately?

SA: Wherever I am. I’m never not on assignment. What I’m interested in is modern American history. I’m taken with the changes that have occurred in America in my lifetime.

I’m interested in smokers standing on ledges, and big box stores, the rise of the suburbs, and the hollowing out of small towns. Self-storage. Things that didn’t exist 50 years ago. Our common culture. What we have agreed is OK to live with.

In my first class at the University of Kentucky, my American Literature professor came in, and the first sentence out of his mouth was “The central theme of American Literature is an attempt to reconcile what we’ve done to the New World.”

I wrote that down in my notebook, and thought, “What is he talking about?” But that’s what I think about now. The New World and what we’ve done to it.

I did a story for the Geographic on Lewis and Clark, and Stephen Ambrose was the writer. He said, “I’ve got the easiest job in the world. I just have to re-tell the story of the greatest fishing, camping, hunting, canoeing trip of all time. You, Sam, have the hardest job, which is, pretend like nothing has happened in the last 200 years.

That statement woke me up to the fact that the landscape that Lewis and Clark came across was greater than the Serengeti. And it’s gone. It’s been replaced by agribusiness and hydroelectric projects, and cities and towns, and networks of transportation. If that happened to Africa, there would be a world-wide outcry.

But it happened here.

 

The Weekly Edit
Amy Feitelberg : Los Angeles Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

 

Los Angeles Magazine

Design Director: Steven E. Banks
Photo Director: Amy Feitelberg
Senior Art Director: Carly Herbert

Photographer: Henry Leutwyler

Heidi: How difficult was it to produce this shoot? Sounds like the writer Chris Nichols had been working on the production of this for sometime.
Amy: It was really difficult to produce this shoot for a number of reasons.  Yes editor Chris Nichols had been working on it but we thought we were going to have way more time before we were going to shoot it. Chris was slowly gathering a list but as I started communicating with the team over at the museum, I was quickly realizing they were installing everything we wanted to shoot at that very moment and we weren’t going to have access to it once it was installed.

What was it about Henry’s work that made you choose him for this assignment?
Why didn’t you consider a LA born and bred based photographer since this was a tribute to LA?
I had been in early talks with Henry about the idea of shooting this. He is definitely an NYC shooter but I thought he would want to do the project b/c it was so up his alley. At first we were going to tackle a different subject for Best of LA that would have been a sort of behind the scenes/reportagey kind of thing that I wanted him for after I spent time with his Ballet book. But when we switched to objects, I thought, well he’s still the perfect person for the job b/c he does both so beautifully. If you’ve seen his Michael Jackson stuff – it’s beautiful!

So we had had a casual conversation about this shoot that I thought we weren’t going to do until the end of May. He was coming to town for Paris photo and we were going to have dinner and discuss it. When I realized our window was closing for access I called Henry in a panic and said ‘CAN YOU STAY IN TOWN FOR THE WEEK AFTER PARIS PHOTO TO SHOOT THIS PLEEEAASSEEE!’ To add to the craziness, we were closing current issue at the time and I was committed to go to Palm Springs photo later that week and this was the last thing I planned on doing. Luckily his schedule totally worked out for it. I brought out his assistant and we headed to the basement of the museum Monday morning. Then we had a challenging task of picking objects that hadn’t yet been installed, objects that were beautiful and interesting, and ones that hit on all the major influences into the building of Los Angeles. It was really tough to get the right mix.

Where they shot on site at the Natural History Museum? Where there any special handling techniques required to shoot these pieces?
They were all shot on site at the museum and none of us were allowed to touch ANY of the objects. Beth Werling who is a historian there had to handle everything so Henry would say ‘a little to the right. now left. now up. now down.’ that kind of thing for 4 straight days.

Were you on set for this?
I was on set for the shoot. I had to run around that place like a nut for a lot of days but it was really fun. Henry and his assistant Billy Jim were great to work with. Henry shot way more than we even had room for.

Which piece as the hardest to shoot?
For the opening shot which is the map of LA, that was really hard. It’s like 20 feet long and it had already been installed. To get up high enough to shoot it from about wasn’t possible and we couldn’t turn off the lights in the ceiling to get rid of the glare. We couldn’t pull it all the way out because even though it was on rollers, it would hit the other installations. Henry had to get down in it to make it work. I was surprised how beautifully it came out considering how restrictive it was.

 

This Week In Photography Books – Sebastião Salgado

by Jonathan Blaustein

Do they still eat people in Papua New Guinea? Apparently so, I read. But I’m not about to hike up into some jungly mountains to find out for certain. N.F.W.

Whether they still practice cannibalism there or not, we can all agree that people have come up with some seriously weird shit along our evolutionary history. You’re obviously reading this on some sort of digital device, so you’ve progressed beyond subsistence living.

You likely own an Apple product. If not, certainly Samsung. Worst case, you’ve got an LG something-or-other, as those Koreans are making good products these days.

Whatever you think of our 21st Century, First World lifestyles, we’ve come a long way from hunting animals with spears and eating alligator meat. Right? People don’t live like that these days?

But of course they do. (I tricked you with my rhetorical genius.)

Those folks are out there. We just don’t interact with them, unless we’re on some sort of safari/favela tour. (Hey Marge, get a look at the saggy boobs on that old Abo.) Naked savages exist in fantasy worlds. They don’t feel the crunch of cracked dirt beneath their callused feet. Do they?

If you doubt me, check out Sebastião Salgado’s new coffee-table book “Genesis.” Is this the first time I’ve reviewed a coffee-table book? For sure. Is it the type of work I normally proffer on a lazy Friday? Not really.

But I always, always preach that we need to get out of our comfort zones, and experience new things. That applies to me as well. No edgy-little-art-book-number today. No sir. This here is a genu-ine Taschen publication, meant for the masses.

What can I tell you about it? Are there a lot of boobs, presented in a manner that will make you feel a smidge awkward? Yes. There are. But I’m not showing them, as I used up my August boob quota last week. (Right, Rob?)

Set that aside, and it is a fascinating collection of images, by any measure. The artist has labored and trekked across this planet, many times, just to create this group of images. We see jungles and deserts and snowpack, oh my. There are indigenous groups who live in every extreme climate you can imagine.

It’s a powerful reminder there are people who exist as if it were 10,000 years ago. Poison darts. Drinking cow blood. That kind of thing. Mr. Salgado has photographed them for us, and if you don’t find this interesting, there is something very wrong with you.

The animals are here too: penguins, hippos, giraffes, crocodiles, monkeys, jaguars, you name it. Some of them are dead, festooning the backs and outfits of the natives who ate them. That might not even be the strangest body modification in the book. I’d go with the gourds or bones stuck through the chins of the Amazonian folks within.

Whether or not you appreciate the slightly ironic tone with which I am discussing this book, I must stress that the project is a massively impressive undertaking. This book is clearly meant for all of us. Mr. Salgado wants everyone to remember the world is infinitely less virtual than we realize, and I commend him for the effort.

Bottom Line: Massive coffee-table book with broad global vision

To Purchase “Genesis” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

 

Art Producers Speak: Jeremy and Claire Weiss of Day 19

- - Working

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 producer: I nominate Jeremy and Claire Weiss of Day 19. They are established but their work is nice and fresh. They also are very low key to work with and create no problems on set. They are very flexible when things change. I recently worked with them a campaign. There were a lot of problems on my side with the talent, which were musicians due to legal matters, and they sailed through drama free and accommodated the production 110 percent.

This shot was for Pepsi "Live for Now" campaign we did last year. Pepsi's first ever global campaign strangely enough. It was the biggest campaign for us exposure wise in the states and seeing you photos on billboards all over town and in Times Square does not get old.

We take a lot of pictures of our kid.

Shot for that same Pepsi campaign last year.

We saw this guy walking around Reading festival in England a few years back. He hadn't seen it yet so was excited to see the back of our camera. Slayer wasn't playing until the next day.

When we first moved to Los Angeles we had a ton of bands always staying with us and we would go to the shows mostly to drink free beer backstage but taking photos validated our drinking of the free beer. This is Casey from Hot Rod Circuit roughly 2003 at The El Rey shot on T-Max 3200. One of 3 frames shot that night.

We had the opportunity to shoot David Lynch for the now defunct Swindle Magazine and decided to shoot 4x5 film. We each shot about 4 photos of him before our time was up and he politely said "You were a pleasure to watch work" and walked away into his studio. This is is first and only shot we've looked at from that shoot. It also brings up a point about working for free and we'll probably get hate mail for saying it but working for free for broke magazines isnt a bad thing. I'd much rather have one of my all time favorite photos and memories than the 500 bucks.

We shot the launch campaign for Google Glass earlier this year in the middle of a blizzard in NY. The mayor actually  put a curfew one the city halfway thru day one. Made for some great pictures.

An idea we pitched to our office mates Monster Children about models in their cars using all available light in a Burbank parking lot. The idea with the cars ended up being kind of dumb but we got a great spread and a cool little short movie out of it.

Another idea we pitched to Monster Children for a fashion story all underwater using available light at night. The model actually fell 5 feet down into the infinity part of the infinity pool 5 minutes in and could barely walk which is the reason her foot is up but also the reason we love the image.

We've done 8 or 9 campaigns for Converse in the past 5 years and this was I'm guessing for their sunglasses. 3 great models we've brought back for other shoots.

Our assistant and translator/tour guide in Tokyo last year.

Aska from our ongoing 4x5 Polaroid Project.

Last summer we did month plus shoot with Leo Burnett and the last day was in the sand dunes outside of Death Valley so we brought a pool and a water truck out there to celebrate. And of course our motor home driver tackled the creative director into the pool. Totally normal day on set.

Jeremy in Turks & Caicos last month.

We went to Tokyo last year to shoot the biggest Korean pop band in the world's busiest intersection for Adidas.

Booyah!

How many years have you been in business?

I don’t know how long I would call it a legitimate business but starting getting some paying gigs around 2000 when we moved to Los Angeles. Claire and I didn’t start shooting together until 2006 and she waited tables up until 2007 and I would do movie extra work (it’s an easy gig in LA) and go on tour with bands selling merch and make little photo ‘zines with the tour photos and sell them to pay rent. I did that up until 2006 when we got a pretty big advertising job out of the blue, but that money went fast paying off debts so we were broke again in 2007. So to take an easy question and give it a difficult answer we have been making a living solely off of photography since 2008. I think people always saw us as bigger than we were really because we shot some pretty popular albums for friend’s bands but that paid pennies.

We both realized very early on we would never make great assistants, I tried twice and both times it ended pretty badly and I don’t think Claire ever even tried.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?

Both. Claire and I met while we were both attending a county college in New Jersey where I was taking a photo class because I had shot a roll of film at a concert and this fanzine Anti-Matter wanted to publish it but only if the print had a black border around it. I had no idea what that even meant so I took a printing class to learn how. A teacher named Charles Luce showed me the magic of a filed negative holder at County College of Morris in 1998. I urged Claire to start taking some photo classes too and she fell in love with the darkroom. I miss the black border; it was like a badge of honor that you didn’t crop.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?

The influences to start taking photos and to get into the business of taking pictures are totally different. I am from NJ and grew up taking the train into NY to skate every day and go to shows. I would always see guys like Ari Marcopolous, Chris Toliver, Tim Owen, and Larry Clark taking photos and I was intrigued by them but always too shy to talk to them. I got a camera from my mom and starting taking photos of my friends hanging out like I imagined their photos looked like. That’s what got me to start shooting and the eventually led me to take that class so I could make better prints than A&P was giving me.

Strangely enough the person who turned us on to the commercial world of photography we are in now was a photo rep who seeked me out because of the photos she had seen in one of those many photo ‘zines we had made. I guess someone showed her one and she called me and wanted to meet. She asked to see my portfolio but I only had photos taped into these black sketchbooks. It was her idea for Claire and I to work together because when she was helping me build a proper portfolio she wanted to use a photo of Jack Black that Claire had taken backstage at Coachella, so we ended up building a portfolio of both of our work in it. We didn’t really realize our work could fit into the advertising world, it wasn’t even something we aspired to until we started getting some advertising gigs and realized the clients and agencies just wanted us to shoot like we were shooting our friends.

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 think we are each other’s biggest inspiration. We get a kick out of bouncing ideas off of each other and there’s a healthy competition between the two of us to get an amazing shot. We only know how to shoot the way we do so we are always being honest with ourselves. Advertising came to us; we didn’t change our way of shooting to cater to the ad world. I’ve seen a lot of people, assistants and others; completely change their style to what the trend happening was. We had an assistant shoot in that super sharp ultra realistic whatever its called style when it was hip a couple years back and now they shoot “lifestyle”. Such a terrible word.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?

Years ago we did. Our book would get us in the door but clients would always seem scared away probably because we had photos of a guy with Slayer carved into his back or a girl with a bloody nose in there too.

These days we have enough pretty successful campaigns under our belt that it makes it easier for clients to look past the tattooed lip photos etc.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?

Honestly, we don’t do much self-promotion. We need to do more for sure. Our agency Giant Artists makes a book once a year that includes everyone on the roster that people seem to dig and we send out an email every couple months that maybe 3 people click. I’d say its mostly the work we’ve done speaks for itself and word of mouth gets us most of our work. We’ve had art buyers tell us that a creative director would put one of our photos on their desk and say, “find out who shot this” more than a handful of times. It’s flattering.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?

Maybe it works for them, who knows? Our motto has always been show what you wanna shoot.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?

We have an ongoing Polaroid Project that we do when we get a chance that’s more of an excuse to meet people doing cool shit than anything else. It’s pretty much the same photo of different people, Claire shoots one and I shoot one.

We don’t see much of a separation though of what we shoot for clients and what we shoot for ourselves. Maybe the stuff we shoot that’s not commissioned is a bit darker but that stuff usually gets referenced for an upcoming shoot when we end up showing it. Our goal going into every job is to want to completely redo our portfolio with the images when we are done. We’ve been lucky too that any idea we have outside of something we’ve gotten hired to shoot we’ve pitched to a magazine ahead of time and they gave us space to print it.

We’ve never done a “test shoot”.

How often are you shooting new work?

Never not shooting.

Jeremy & Claire Weiss split their time between Los Angeles, CA and Big Bear Lake, CA with their 5 year old son Eli.
studio@day19.com
Represented by:
Giant Artists
323.660.1996
info@giantartists.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.