Work From The Medium Festival of Photography

- - From The Field

by Jonathan Blaustein

It’s Thursday afternoon, so this article is due in a few hours. The snow is falling rapidly outside my window, as winter has arrived in full force. To the East, the mountains are hidden behind a wall of moisture-laden clouds, which litter white gold upon our steep slopes.

Could there be a better time to close my eyes and imagine myself sunning by the über-SoCal-pool at the Lafayette hotel? It’s hard to believe it was almost a month ago that I visited the Medium Festival of Photography. Yes, people. Time flies.

But I’ve already discussed my experiences, in snippets, twice before. So I’d rather not rehash things. Let’s keep it fresh, like virgin flakes dropping from the sky. (By the way, I’m beginning to doubt the “fact” that no two snowflakes are alike. That seems statistically impossible. If anyone can verify that for me in the comment section, I’d be much obliged.)

Back to San Diego, though. I’ve promised to tell you why Medium was so successful, so here goes. I’ve been to several festivals over the last few years, and some of them have been genuinely excellent. (Cue the obligatory Review Santa Fe reference. No, I’m not on their payroll.) But Medium stood alone, for a few reasons.

Scott B. Davis, the founder and director, is rare in his skill set. He’s methodical and detail-oriented, but also warm, relaxed and grounded. He’s got the creativity of a successful artist, (which he is,) but also the clinical, keep-the-trains-running-on-time abilities of person who would be Director of Exhibitions at a museum. (Which he is.)

It’s unexpected to find one person who can wear both hats. As a result, Medium felt well-organized and put-together, but also managed to capture a slightly-improvisational, OMG you’re my new best friend vibe as well. I got into several conversations about photography that lasted for hours, which almost never happens.

And because the weather was great, cheap food was plentiful in the surrounding neighborhood, and the palm trees were always waving just outside the windows, most people were in a good mood. Relaxed, friendly people make for good company, and other people really are the foundation of a festival. (Hello, Captain Obvious.)

So aside from the negative interaction I mentioned two weeks ago, (which could, in fairness, be chalked up to a misunderstanding,) for five days, I was riding a cloud of positivity. It pushed me to open up, and constantly listen for new information. In fact, I even altered my lecture, at the end of the festival, to include things I’d learned in previous lectures by my fellow speakers.

Of course, I was primarily there to look at work during the Eye to Eye portfolio reviews. Surprisingly, most of the people who sat at my table were not looking for immediate gratification. (i.e., can you please publish my work in Lens and APE?) No, most of the photographers I met were looking for constructive criticism and feedback about how to improve. It was hard not to be impressed by their drive to better themselves as artists.

That said, I did see some work that I’d like to highlight here. The overall quality ranged dramatically, and some of what I’ll show here might not be your cup of tea. But I though it merited mention.

We’ll begin with an exception, though. The final lecture I attended, before heading to the airport with a car full of tired photo-peeps, was by Michael Lundgren. He’s an artist based in Arizona, shows at ClampArt, and has had a book published by Radius. So, to reiterate, Michael was not there to have his portfolio reviewed.

His lecture was the opposite of mine. It was relaxed and low-key; full of quotes and thought-provoking material that he read aloud. It was far more lyrical than I can expound upon in this brief space. He did lament the lack of critical writing about photography, though, so how could I not accept the challenge?

Michael’s current project, “Matter,” was shot in the desiccated desert, as is much of his work. Though some images from his earlier series, “Transfigurations,” managed to concurrently portray the Arizona desert as a distant planet, while also implying the Earth will get along just fine once all the humans are gone, “Matter” is more oblique.

It mashes up sci-fi references with environmentalism. (Which is a difficult mix, but the algae-marinated fox below hits the mark perfectly.) Before I saw him speak, a colleague described him as “profound.” I admit that a couple of paragraphs here, and a handful of jpegs, make it impossible to communicate that. In person, speaking for an hour, he did strike me that way. Michael embodied the artist as shaman, pushing one’s vision beyond the normal to bring back stories of “ecstatic time” to the rest of us. (There was no mention of peyote. To be clear.)

Michael Lundgren

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Now we’ll get on the photographers I reviewed.

First up is William Karl Valentine. His physical presence struck me right away, as he was a very big man, with a prominent cop mustache. His super-intense eyes said he could crush me in a bear hug, like a villain out of a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. (Yes, I watched a lot of bad karate films in the 80’s. Who didn’t?)

Bill studied photography in the famed ASU program back in the 80’s, working with Bill Jenkins and Bill Jay. But his career took another route, and he ended up becoming a police officer in Southern California. (Chino, actually. Hence the cop stache.)

He made black and white photographs on ride-arounds before joining the force, then while in the Police Academy, and he shot some images while “on the job” as well. The dated feel brought me right back to the days when gringo kids like me were bopping our heads to NWA, singing aloud about this mysterious place, “Compton.” (Actually, I heard ‘Dre and Snoop in the car just yesterday, and couldn’t help belting out the chorus.)

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Next up, we’ve got Amanda Dahlgren. She’s based in San Diego, and has spent the last few years making photographs that look at the remnants of the housing crisis. She was interviewed about her work by Kai Ryssdal on “Marketplace,” so she’s definitely given these issues some thought. Her current project, “Pre-Abandoned,” looks at homes under construction in the Master Planned communities that were so rapidly de-populated once the world went to hell.

Her premise is that these structures, not-yet-lived-in, will be abandoned in the near future. It’s a bleak outlook, but I found the photos to have a quiet dignity that the housing crisis so clearly lacked.

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Pauline Gola showed me a set of photographs made under water, shot in black and white. As I’d met someone at PhotoNola last year with a similar process, I had to mention it during our critique. But the pictures themselves are very different. In her artist statement, she describes the photos as being, “liquid aberrations” which I thought was a very smart phrase.

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Steven J Knapp had the work that probably surprised me the most. He’s also an Arizona resident, and told me he felt compelled to make the following images as a response to the Gabby Giffords shooting a couple of years ago. He felt rage and horror, and wanted to channel that into his art.

Granted, the following pictures have no actual visual connection to the tragedy. But the emotion comes through pretty clearly. They reminded me of angry gods from ancient Tibetan tapestries, but are in fact self-portraits made in Photo Booth, and then manipulated like mad in the computer.

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Finally, we’ve got two pictures from Cy Kuckenbaker. He’s currently an artist-in-residence at MOPA, and has a background as a film-maker. Cy is interested in transitioning to stills, but also wants to figure out how to tell stories using stills, video, and text all together. (Get in line. That’s the holy grail of storytelling right now, isn’t it?)

While I’m normally loathe to publish someone’s unfinished work, Cy did show me two very cool pictures from a new project. It’s called “So Your Friends Will Really Know It’s You”, which is the prompt Facebook gives you when you create a new account to upload your profile photo. He’s made digital portrait masks of people, and then re-photographed them wearing versions of themselves on their face. One guy is a dead ringer for Vladimir Lenin, which is odd and cool at the same time. (We’ve got to have a Big Lebowski reference right here, don’t we? “Shut the Fuck up, Donny.”)

Cy then posts the pictures on Facebook, and titles the images based upon how many likes the picture receives. Love. It.

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I imagine very few of you have actually read all the way to this point. If you have, well done. I’d like to give you a better conclusion, but I have to put another log on the fire. Hopefully, though, the above pictures will have properly warmed your heart. (Cheesiest. Conclusion. Ever.)

Art Producers Speak: Patrick Ecclesine

- - 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 Patrick Ecclesine. I like working with Patrick because he has a vision that elevates anything I have ever had in my mind when approaching a shoot. He has a bank of knowledge and creativity that allows me obtain more than I anticipated and more concepts and ideas I haven’t even thought of.

Tim Roth

Tim Roth

Isabel Lucas

Isabel Lucas

Shia Labeouf

Shia Labeouf

Jessica Pare

Jessica Pare

Blair Underwood

Blair Underwood

The Blacklist for NBC. This is an example of my commercial work.

The Blacklist for NBC. This is an example of my commercial work.

Slow Kiss - Plate 19. This is an example of my personal work. Slow Kiss is a four year collaboration with Director/Producer Daniel Sackheim. We're creating a neo-noir narrative told in the still format.

Slow Kiss – Plate 19. This is an example of my personal work. Slow Kiss is a four year collaboration with Director/Producer Daniel Sackheim. We’re creating a neo-noir narrative told in the still format.

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How many years have you been in business?
Twelve years now.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I did two semesters of photography in high school and then quit when classes got into color printing, which, for some reason, I had little interest in at the time. That was the extent of my formal training.

Who was you greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
A rock and roll photographer named Barry Schultz. He’s a great guy originally from LA’s San Fernando Valley, who spent years traveling with the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and a bunch of other legendary rock groups of the ’70s. My dad met Barry in the waiting room of the Hollywood hospital where Barry’s daughter and I were both born and our families became intertwined. Because Barry’s wife is Dutch, they decided to live in Holland where they built a very successful stock footage company.

During my freshman year in college I went to Europe. In Amsterdam Barry gave me a dozen rolls of positive film that he wanted to test and, for six weeks, I traveled through Europe documenting the trip with my Pentax. Later, Barry developed the film, which was nice, because I was broke and probably would never have got around to it. I still remember the serious look on his face when he called me into his office. With all the slides spread out on a light table, he said, “This work is excellent. Really, every frame could be a postcard. You could do this professionally. I mean it.”

I don’t know if he meant it, but I believed him. Later, when I came up against a lot of resistance, I’d go back to that moment and it gave me the courage to push through all the naysayers. That one moment gave me the confidence I needed. Sometimes all you need is someone to believe in you so you can believe in yourself.

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?
Personal work. It is an absolute must. It is how you develop a point of view and find your visual integrity.

Do you find that some creative love your work but the client holds you back?
The key word in this equation is client. If you’re taking a job, then your responsibility is to the client. Period. You may be hired for your personal vision, but if you’re selling a product, whether it’s an entertainment property or toothpaste, you have to frame that product according to the client’s needs. Granted, you have to bring your point of view to the work, but it’s not about your ego. It’s about servicing the needs of the job.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
The entertainment community is tight-knit and difficult to break into. Once you’re in the door and people see you’re not leaving, word spreads on its own. Thankfully I have some great clients who have been incredibly supportive of me throughout the years, which has allowed me to focus on my personal work. I keep tap dancing around social media but, outside of Instagram, I’ve had trouble truly embracing it. I’d much rather spend my time with real people in person. I go to New York quite a bit where I’ll meet with anyone and everyone. I’ve been reaching out to other markets because I’d like to spread my wings and collaborate with people in other fields, but it’s tricky because I’m labeled a celebrity shooter. I never thought that could work against me, but sometimes it does. Mind you I’m not complaining. Lately I’ve been shooting for Vanity Fair. It was always a dream of mine to contribute to Vanity Fair so I’m really proud and grateful for this.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Buyers need to see that you are capable of executing the sort of work they’re hiring for. They’d be putting their jobs on the line to take chances on unproven talent. On the other hand, if you’re chasing the ever-changing landscape of shifting desires and tastes by replicating the current climate of what’s popular now, then you’re sacrificing the one thing you have of value as an artist: your point of view.

The issue this question raises is one of art and commerce. You need the commercial jobs to finance your art, and you need the art to stay inspired, create fresh work, and get the commercial jobs. It doesn’t matter if you’re an art director, a designer, a musician, a painter, a filmmaker or a photographer, the reality that any artist working in the commercial medium has to face is that they must fight for their creative every step of the way. It is disheartening to see your best work get quashed and never see the light of day. The only way to prevent getting jaded or turning bitter is to create work that speaks to you individually. Personal work is essential because it transcends words, salesmanship, or any attempts at imitation. It is the spark that ignites the connection between creative people and is your greatest currency as an artist.

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

How often are you shooting new work?
As much as possible. I’ve always been intrigued by the gap between stills and motion. I believe there’s a lot of ground to break in this arena and I’ve been testing, experimenting, and refining. Recently I’ve been mounting RED cameras to drones that I’ve had custom built. The technology is mesmerizing, allowing for spectacular visuals. I’ve also been collaborating with director and executive producer Daniel Sackheim. We’re working on a neo-noir narrative in stills that we call Slow Kiss. It features lavish production values, recognizable actors, and unfolds like a movie within a book. We recently hit a wall with financing, but I expect the project will soon regain traction because it’s truly unique and ambitious.

For me, images are all about telling a story, and every good story has some mystery to it. Like life itself, you can never say with certainty where it’s headed. All you can do is your best work and hope that people take notice.

PATRICK ECCLESINE has lensed over 100 publicity and advertising campaigns for the film and television industry. A frequent contributor to Vanity Fair Magazine, Patrick is an award-winning photographer, director, avid surfer, and ten-year member of the I.A.T.S.E. International Cinematographer’s Guild.

His 2009 book, Faces of Sunset Boulevard, tied for first place with Annie Leibovitz’s book, Work, to win the prestigious 2009 SCIBA Book Award for Arts & Architecture.

Patrick was born and raised in Hollywood, California, earning his B.A. from the University of California Santa Barbara.

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.

 

Professional Photographer Webcast Live: Working With Agents

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

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

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

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

Show Notes:

Heather: http://www.heatherelder.com
Rob: http://aphotofolio.com
Suzanne: http://suzannesease.com

Finding an Agent: http://theagentlist.com

Letter from a photographers agent: http://elderrep.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/dear-photographer-an-open-letter-from-a-photographers-agent/

The Weekly Edit: Marie Claire Jonathon Kambouris

- - The Daily Edit

Maire Claire

Artistic Director: Alex Gonzalez
Creative Director: Nina Garcia
Design Director: Byron Christian Regej
Photography Director: Caroline Smith
Associate Art Director: Wanyi Jiang
Senior Photo Editor: Ashley Macknica Barhamand
Photographer: Jonathon Kambouris
Heidi: How difficult was it to shoot the crystal embroidered objects?

Jonathon: Photographing accessories can always be tricky but the challenge to make a still object look beautiful and interesting is something that I really thrive on. For this story my goal was to capture a mood and make the items glow. To bring out the crystals and jewels it was really about creating texture. My lighting process used soft light to create an edge on the items which separated them from the black background and then I mixed that with a harder light to create texture. The combination of this lighting was key to making these items sparkle.

What made you decide on black for the background?

The creative direction and inspiration for this assignment was to have a bunch of flares exploding off of the jewels. I figured the best way to capture this would be to photograph them on black. This complemented the accessories well and set a moody background to create beautiful and sexy lighting.

I assume all the star burst flare added in post. Did you have a special technique for that? How do you know when to stop adding more?

There is a crazy amount post work that can be done now a days, but I always approach every assignment trying to capture as much in camera as I possibly can. There were a few techniques I used with lighting and lens filters but in the end the intensity I desired for the flares could not be captured in camera. On-set my retoucher and I played around with different techniques in photoshop to create these intense light flares. It was a lot of trial and error. We would see how one flare would look and then I would go back to my set and light the accessory in a way that would naturally complement the flare that was going to be added. It was really about experimenting with adding and subtracting the flares and lighting until it felt perfectly balanced. Post work is so important, especially with still life photography so I have had to learn and really understand what I need to do in camera to create a seamless and natural transition from capture to final retouched image. As a photographer you really need to not only think about what you are shooting but also plan before you shoot and after during the post production processes. It is really important to be very detailed oriented through out each one of these phases. My retoucher and I have been working together for a good amount years now. We have really learned a lot from each other and it has been an excellent collaboration.

Are those items you shot purple, red and green respectively?  or did you add that light detail?

These items were actually black with clear and black beaded jewels. I originally shot the items as they were designed with no color and they looked very beautiful, but the editor in chief really wanted to see color in these shots. Adding color brought out an other dimension and in the end it was very fitting for this story.

What was the biggest challenge if any for this shoot.

I always feel like the biggest challenge in photography is visualizing an idea in your head and trying to translate that into a successful photograph. It is really about problem solving. For this specific assignment the flares needed to be added in post, which created a huge challenge; on-set there was no real reference point to start with while I was shooting. The hardest part was visualizing the right lighting for the accessories that would look natural and balanced with the flares that were going to be added. The key to making this story successful was having a deep understanding and connection between what I capture in camera with lighting and what needed to be accomplished in post.

 

Do you shoot for Marie Claire often?

Over the past year I have shot numerous accessory stories for Marie Claire and it has been an incredible collaboration. Their creative team is so talented and comes to me with fantastic inspiration and they really push every story to the creative max. It is obvious that we want to create thought provoking imagery of accessories and I think we have managed to accomplish this ambition successfully. It is an absolute wonderful creative process and I am really proud of the work we have accomplished together.

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

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

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

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

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

This Week In Photography Books: Jaime Permuth

by Jonathan Blaustein

Welcome to my third annual Thanksgiving column. Once again, we celebrate our forefathers: the ones who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to take over a continent blessed with untold natural resources. Yes, we Americans eat turkey to honor a genocide.

As you know by now, I love this country. (Despite being aware of our blood-drenched creation mythology.) People throughout history have done bad things to one another. Once word got out that there was land for the taking, and trees for the felling, it was only a matter of time before shit got real.

Sure, we can be cynical, and dismiss the entire American experiment as one of rapacious greed. But what’s the fun in that? Isn’t it better to mock the Puritans for their lack of humor, obsession with witches, and fastidious yet spartan fashion sense?

Even today, their name is evoked as a pejorative term. Puritanical. We only thank them for founding our country once a year, because that’s about as much time as we can stand to think about their no-dancing-no-fun-having lifestyle.

Our Manifest-Destiny-ness is counterbalanced, of course, by the narrative of a nation of immigrants. We are a new society, and have proved a haven to those seeking a better life, though we rarely greet them with open arms. They come anyway, and many generations have been able to ensconce themselves, forging a safer future for their offspring. (Big ups to my now-dead-great-grandparents for making the move. Staying in Europe would have been very, very, bad for my bloodline.)

Ever since our Siberian ancestors, 15,000 years ago, Americans have been walking, swimming, sailing, floating, driving, and even riding bicycles to the land where the streets are paved with gold. This country is the perfect embodiment of the imperfection of the human condition. We do some things really well, and fail at least as often as we succeed. (Could Obama really not find anyone in the whole country who knew how to build a freaking website?)

No matter what changes in America, people continue to move here seeking a fresh start. Just like the auto mechanics and scrap metal traders at the heart of Jaime Permuth’s new book, “Yonkeros,” published by La Fabrica in Spain. (The country for whom the Italian, Cristoforo Colombo, forever altered the course of history by discovering Hispañola.)

The title refers to a nickname for those types of businesses, which are found on a small peninsula called Willets Point, in Queens, NYC. The place is charmless in a way that’s charming, and gritty in way that allows for the subtle observation of beauty. In other words, it’s the ideal place for a long-term photography project.

Mr. Permuth is himself an immigrant from Guatemala, and it’s not hard to see why he was drawn to the place. The inhabitants come mainly from Mexico and Central America, so we don’t have to wonder if their conversations were carried out in English. (Que tal? Me llamo Jaime. Soy fotografo. Podria tomar su foto, por favor? No, no soy immigracion. Es seguro.)

It’s a perfect symbol for America, and the contradictions we can never escape. We killed a bunch of people and took their land so that we could set up a country where are men are free. (But not the slaves, of course. Or the women.)

We have a big statue in the New York harbor that offers to accept the tired, poor, and huddled masses. Unless we build a huge fence at the border to keep them out. We don’t want to pass immigration laws, because if we don’t, it’s like the 11 million illegal immigrants don’t exist. Our laziness converts them into phantasms; ghosts that are really good at fixing cars, cleaning houses, and picking fruit.

The book, the nominal subject of this diatribe, contains many pictures, so it’s likely you’ll have your favorites. I love the ones that are razor sharp and slightly surreal, like the deflated soccer ball, perched atop a car, reflecting clouds in the shiny painted metal. The few color images are a bit out of place, until you see the glowing pink sky above a snow-covered world. (Gorgeous.)

I also found a highly-pornographic image embedded on a small TV, which caught me by surprise. There is enough image diversity in the book that it entices you back, confident you won’t have seen it all just yet. Which is a good metaphor for the human condition, I’d say.

Yes, we’ve seen many things before. Almost everything, in fact. But that’s the keyword, isn’t it? Almost.

Bottom Line: A cool book about immigrant culture, perfect for Thanksgiving

To Purchase “Yonkeros” 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.

Daniel Morel Awarded $1.2 Million For Willful Copyright Infringement

- - copyright

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

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

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

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

 

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

- - Working

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

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

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

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

This Week In Photography Books: Richard Misrach

by Jonathan Blaustein

Last week, I wrote about conflict of interest. Or at least I mentioned it. Which was a first.

These days, when everybody is connected to everyone else, it becomes much more difficult to speak the truth. We become co-opted by our relationships, occasionally, and I do wonder how often I’m affected.

I’ve worked hard to write with honesty in this space, and I hope it’s branded me a straight shooter. (Or more likely a big-mouth. So be it.)

Where am I going with this? I’m currently in the second article of a short series about the Medium Festival of Photography. It was founded by a very good friend of mine, and I went to review portfolios for APE and Lens, and to deliver a public lecture about my work.

As I’ve already written, the festival was truly exceptional. Will you believe me, knowing I’ve got a personal connection? Medium certainly invited me knowing I’d write about my experience there. (Which was overwhelmingly positive.)

But what about the bad stuff? Will I be critical, or will I keep my mouth shut? I’ve been asking myself that very question. What to do?

It’s funny, but the one dark mark on my time there had nothing to do with Medium, per se. And still I feel awkward sharing. But I will. (Can’t. Stop. Fingers. From. Typing.)

I almost-met a fellow artist and blogger at Medium, and was seriously put off by his boorish behavior. I’ve already written about his book, and reviewed it very positively. So there was no prior bad blood.

Doug Rickard, who appropriated and photographed images of poor people on Google Street View, gave me the velvet-rope-ignore-treatment, on three separate occasions. I was taken aback, as it had been a while since anyone pretended I didn’t exist, from such a short distance. (18 inches. I could practically smell his breath.)

Mr. Rickard lectured directly after me, and came very close to shoving me out of the way to get to the podium. He didn’t even muster the obligatory head nod, or half smile, that most civilized people would. It was like a microcosm of high school. He was the burly jock, and I was the black-clad artsy kid, not significant enough to acknowledge.

I write this knowing many of you will read these words as vengeful. I’ll show him! (Shakes fist.) Who does he think he’s dealing with? It’s inescapable, that you’ll think this.

I should add, Mr. Rickard was a pretty big guy, like a Sacramento version of an amateur SoCal motor-cross racer. (Replete with a flat-brim, bro-style baseball hat.) He might genuinely try to kick my ass. So that’s another reason to keep my moth shut. In addition to looking petty, and disappointing my friend Scott.

So why dish? Because I think the mere fact that I feel this uncomfortable telling the truth, after years of bragging about my propensity to do so, makes this a worth-while endeavor. And it’s also a hugely teachable moment for the rest of us.

There is no privacy anymore. It’s gone. Mourn it as you will, but it’s not coming back. Our behavior is a reflection of our brand, and our reputation. No matter how successful you are, you need to treat people well, or it will come out. Whether it’s Terry Richardson facing boycotts, or this dick Doug getting outed on the Internet.

My lecture, just before his, focused on the genuine effort necessary to see symbols in the world and embed them in art. To recognize connections. To choose to make meaning from life, whether you believe it resides there inherently or not. We say it every day, right? We’re all connected. What does that even mean?

I’d mentioned Mr. Rickard’s work in my lecture, as I showed a project I’d done in 2006-7, in which I photographed the computer screen. The resulting photos were absurd and random pixelated portraits, fragments from jpegs I’d stolen from various dangerous parts of the Internet. I don’t typically show the pictures, as I felt the series was too derivative of Chuck Close’s aesthetic. I gave Mr. Rickard a shout out for getting it right.

And of course, Mr. Rickard was also a member of Richard Misrach’s young artist salon. We reported on that after Mr. Misrach’s lecture in Tucson last year, when he’d shown work by several younger Bay Area artist friends of his. I felt awkward telling you guys about it, as it seemed like the epitome of the incestuous behavior at the heart of this now-rambling article.

My pixelated portraits might go over well one day, or I might keep them in a drawer. Regardless, I haven’t seen that many things quite like them.

So you’ll appreciate my shock at reaching into my book stack, and discovering “11.21.11 5:40pm,” a new book by Richard Misrach, published by Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. (Whose Gallery Director I know from his days in Santa Fe.) If you’re ready to hear about a book, congratulations. You made it. And what day is it now? (I delivered the article to Rob on 11.21.13)

This book is strange, and you likely won’t want to buy it. It’s conceptual enough that it might seem too narrow for a collection, given the price. (Or perhaps it’s meant mostly for collectors. What do I know?) But it also happens to be one of the most interesting books I’ve seen in my time as a book reviewer.

It opens with a view of a couple down on a beach, seen from a terrace above. I was immediately reminded of Mr. Misrach’s other ocean-and-beach-based projects. That’s where the similarities end.

We notice that the young couple is taking a dual-selfie. Or joint- selfie? A couplie? What’s the proper nomenclature here?

No matter.

Each subsequent page turned reveals a closer version of the previous photo. It devolves to pixels, and then the black of a presumably singular pixel. (Like the deep black of that awful Sopranos ending. David Chase: you’re better than that.)

Then. A surprise.

The image begins to resolve again. Pixels. And then a pixelated portrait. Finally, the image is sharper still, and we see that we’re looking at the portrait of the couple. The one that they actually took of themselves.

What? How did he get that? What the f-ck is going on here?

Awesome. A little worm-hole gem. So odd and smart and surreal. I love it. But will you want to actually own it? That’s another question.

It’s taken me almost ten days now, since I returned from San Diego, to get my head together. It’s forced me to ask some hard questions.

You’ve got to make up your own mind about how much you think I’m holding back, these days. I’d like to think I put my integrity out there each week, but this is one big icy-yet-twig-strewn slippery slope. It’s new territory, and through this column, you’ve come along for the ride.

So I hope to continue to earn your trust, and I’ll endeavor to keep it real. But there are now layers to be parsed, and I accept that’s going to happen. Medium expected I’d be me, and I’m sure they’re now thinking that if the worst thing I can say about them is that one of their lecturers was rude…they’re doing pretty well.

It’s helpful to be reminded, though, that we need to take a hard look in the mirror. In a networked world, in which we all become beholden to one another, it’s good to be conscious that it’s happening.

We need to be willing to speak its name. Like Voldemort. Or Beetlejuice. Or Ron Burgundy. Who’s now shilling for Dodge. You dig?

Bottom Line: Fantastic, conceptual book by a major art star

To Purchase “11.21.11 5:40pm” 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: Christian Kozowyk

- - 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 Christian Kozowyk because I loved working with him and thought other art producers might like to learning more about him.

This was a fun one that we shot before a rowdy night out on the town.

This was on a shoot for Ford. Halfway through hanging out with this guy he tells me he can do a backflip and then proceeds to breakdance—probably the most spontaneous thing that worked out during a shoot.

Outtake from a night off during a production in Portugal. This guy was looking for his friends. I didn’t speak Portuguese.

Outtake from a shoot. Still finding that prickly grass in my black Nikes.

Second time in a convertible on the PCH.

This is a seaside town I happened upon while traveling through Europe.

First time with a water housing. I got a black eye from it.

The pier was so icy this day that I almost slipped into the lake. Loved this family.

Kids are so easy to photograph.

Genuine as you can get. Real is real.

I used to skate with Perry when he was 2 years old. His dad and I built a concrete skate park together in New Hampshire. Now he’s all grown up and traveling the world.

Hairdoo. You meet a lot of people in this world and sometimes you just have to use nicknames. He had amazing energy—the day after the shoot he drove his motorcycle from LA to NYC.

Family dynamics are always fun. We had packed up the cameras and were getting ready to leave when this just happened. It was worth taking them back out.

Double vision.

Military salute. This guy wasn’t looking at the camera; he was looking through the camera. It was cold.

I’ve lost track of the number of sunsets I’ve caught on the Williamsburg Bridge. Whenever I’m in town I ride my bike there every night.

How many years have you been in business?

I’ve been using a camera since I was 18, shooting professionally for five, and with my agent Candace Gelman for three.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?

A little bit of both—I went to college for art, but I think school can only teach you so much about being a working photographer, and I’ve definitely learned a lot more out there experiencing things and meeting new people.

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

Honestly for me it is more of a what. It will sound cliché but there is no shortage of inspirational photographers that are committed to the process, and people who have been amazing mentors to me. They have all inspired, supported and taught me over the years, but at the end of the day the real draw for me to get into the business was a basic need and drive to learn more about myself and the world around me. I am all about leaving a positive mark with my life and I believe that through photography I have the opportunity to work towards that goal. The process of photography is my life. It is a way for me to be constantly growing and evolving. It allows me to live with an open heart and to give back in a way that hopefully inspires other people. When it’s all coming together, it’s an amazing feeling and one that is endlessly motivating. How could you not get hooked on that?

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?

For me, it’s about the people and how the moment fits into that scenario. I am constantly re-discovering myself through my work and I’ve learned that following your heart trumps all. I’d like to think my work stays fresh because the people I shoot make it so, and my role is more about creating a space to allow that authenticity to unfold, finding stories that exist and becoming part of them. Trends come and go and most ideas are not necessarily new ones, so it’s really about being able to sit with someone and capture their spirit and energy in a frame. That’s always fresh. Real just does not get old in my opinion. It’s about keeping things authentic by just being authentic—and finding a team of creatives that are working with a brand that have that same vision and energy to put into a project.

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

Naturally every situation and client is different. We all have our specific job to do as part of the creative process, but sure, there are times when you’ve got the creatives in line with your vision, but the client is hesitant—it’s a trust thing and a comfort level. I like to be very involved in the pre-production and I love to collaborate from the beginning to the end. Our approach and strategy are honed in to a ‘T’, so there are no questions in the client or agency’s mind before the shoot starts about what to expect as the outcome. Again, my work is all about that real look and feel, capturing the essence of people in a way that only happens when people are comfortable. I’m not typically amped on things being overly mapped out with no room to breathe, but it’s important to find balance with the client’s needs and expectations. I think the goal with the client’s expectations would be to take away that sort of focus group mentality and get down to what really matters in telling the story—finding people that are authentic and that everyone can relate to. Gearing our productions this way allows for those real moments to happen. I enjoy encouraging clients to let go a bit and am inspired to help brands connect with their audiences in a real way.

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

Building a strong web presence is important. I update my website whenever I have new work to show, keep up with social networking and my Tumblr. Staying in touch with the folks I have collaborated with over the years is something that’s important too.

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

Follow your heart. Find out what you’re good at within the medium and go for it. It’s about what you believe in and what you love, and that’s a journey in itself. Before you go and sell something, you have to have a mission statement; a mantra that you will live and die by—you have to know what you’re selling. The rest will follow.

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

Every time I pick up the camera I am shooting for myself, whether it’s for a commercial job or not. It’s that simple. The thing about photography that never gets old is its ability to keep me present, grounded, in the here and now, and to appreciate people. It’s an opportunity to sit with new friends and old, to document life, enjoy it, and participate in it. It’s beyond the aesthetic. You have to know yourself in order for that complete package to unveil itself, whether it’s knowing when to direct and when not to, or disarming a situation despite the cameras, the layouts, or the shot lists so that you can focus on people and their emotions. Whether I am capturing a group of friends or a family dynamic, I try to create space for things to happen in a natural, unforced way for myself and for everyone involved. Photography is an exploration, an experience, a record—both personal and shared—a reminder for us all to stop and smell the roses.

How often are you shooting new work?

I am always working on ideas when I’m not in production—we always have something cooking. We have been shooting about two to three big commissioned projects every few months.

Christian lives his work. For him, it’s less about documenting a subject than truly getting inside the subject matter and living it. He specializes in capturing real moments in a unique way. His distinctive, consistent style and creative approach have helped brands define themselves, while earning Christian many industry awards, including: Communication Arts (advertising and photography), One Show, Addys, American Photography and PDN (photo annual) to name a few. He has been selected for Archive Magazines-”200 Best Ad Photographers Worldwide” since its inception and highlighted in the Communication Arts Advertising Annual in the “Fresh Section”.

Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, Christian and his team collaborate with creative teams worldwide on award winning advertising campaigns and slice of life projects. When he’s not on location or shooting personal projects you can find him hanging with “Peu Peu” – his French speaking cat, yelling at the bird that lives on the piano to stop screaming, working on his usually not running vintage Harley, playing the guitar, or wave hunting for ‘not close outs’ while avoiding broken glass, dirty trash bags, needles and ice storms at Rockaway Beach, usually at 67th Street.

Christian Kozowyk
www.christiankozowyk.com
christian@christiankozowyk.com
718-916-5510
Candace Gelman & Associates
www.candacegelman.com
415-897-0808

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.

The Weekly Edit – Who Shot it Better?

- - The Daily Edit

 

Cooks Illustrated/ Holiday Entertaining

Design Director: Amy Klee
Photo Editor: Steve Klise
Photography: Keller + Keller
Styling: Catrine Kelty

 

Better Homes & Gardens / Holiday Recipes

Art Director: Gene Rauch
Photographer: Andy Lyons
Food Stylist: Jill Lust

 

Martha Stewart Living

Creative Director: Matthew Axe
Photo Director: Jennifer Miller
Photographer: Marcus Nilsson

Savuer

Art Director: David Weaver
Photography Director: Chelesa Pomales
Photographer: Michael Kraus
Food Styling: Penny De Los Santos

Advice for Photo Assistants: Working as a First Assistant

- - Assistants

Guest post by Demetrius Fordham

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week In Photography Books: #Sandy

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

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

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

Not. Going. To. Happen. Today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line: Collaborative book project in the face of tragedy

Go Here To Purchase And Support #Sandy

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

Art Producers Speak: William Anthony

- - 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 Associate Creative Director: I nominate William Anthony. I’ve floated past him in the industry circles for the past eight years or so and have had the pleasure of getting to see his career evolve. He’s an amazingly talented dude.

Georgetown’s legendary Hat ‘n Boots used to be a roadside gas station in South Seattle. The boots were the bathrooms. (I didn’t notice the MS13 gang tags until after I got my film back.)

Male burlesque dancer shot for Portland Monthly magazine. I won my first journalism award for this shot. Not sure how I feel about that. (Before you ask: gaff tape.)

The legendary Burnside skate park in Portland, OR. I had my 4x5 camera that day to take photos of the park itself when I met two train kids from Georgia. This guy was shredding—barefoot.

My good friend Daniel G. Harmann in the recording studio.

I was recently commissioned to photograph production stills for Duff McKagan’s forthcoming documentary It’s So Easy and Other Lies. This was backstage before rehearsals of the live-reading show at the legendary Moore Theatre in Seattle. Duff’s seen here with his guitar tech Rob.

This little guy’s facial expression perfectly fit the sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge from Vista House just outside Portland, OR.

Boston Marathon bombing icon Bill Iffrig for Runner’s World magazine. In addition to the shot list from RW, I just had to get a shot of him from behind, matching the perspective of the now-infamous Sports Illustrated cover photo of him on the ground with Boston PD officers over him.

Impromptu portraits, shot with my iPhone and posted to Instagram.

Jimmy from the now-defunct Seattle band The Divorce, from KEXP.org’s First Annual BBQ. They couldn’t afford a rental stage so they used a flatbed truck. The results were EPIC.

At the end of 2012 (and the WORLD), I was commissioned by Marie Claire UK magazine to meet and photograph two female “preppers.” The subject in Spokane, WA had weapons all over the house. Some hidden, some in plain sight.

Farmer and activist Ramsey McPhillips on his property in McMinnville, OR. In the background looms a growing landfill threatening his crops. Shot for Portland Monthly magazine.

Brian Aubert, lead singer/songwriter from the Los Angeles band Silversun Pickups. Their breakout single was a song titled “Lazy Eye.” Brian didn’t hide his. For KEXP.org

Portland Fire & Rescue, Search & Recovery Diver Lt. Rich Tyler for Portland Monthly.

How many years have you been in business?
As a photographer, almost 10 years. But I have been a creative professional for 17 years now. I started out as a graphic designer in ‘96 and then moved over to the advertising world as a studio manager for an award-winning boutique in Del Mar, CA called Big Bang Idea Engineering around 2000. I transferred up to Seattle with them and soon moved to another agency as an Art Director. It was the ad world that really opened my eyes to professional photography. I saw so much good work cross my desk. I ended up being that art director shooting black and white set photos while on agency shoots that I processed myself. Around 2004 I thought I would try shooting as a career. I gave myself one year. If I was in the black after 12 months, I said to myself, I’ll stick with it. And here I am, almost ten years later.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self-taught. I did, however, take a Photo 100 class with darkroom lab. That’s kind of what bit me. It was an elective for a graphic design degree (that I never finished), but I was hooked the first day in the darkroom.

The steepest part of my learning curve, however, came when I got my first DSLR in ’03. Around the same time I started volunteering my time as a photographer at the amazing public radio station here in Seattle, KEXP 90.3 FM. They were relaunching their (now-revolutionary) web site and needed photography content. Since I had virtually no money to donate at the time, I gave them my time and they gave me an endless stream of incredible subject matter and the creative freedom to try new things. I wanted to be to KEXP what Charles Peterson was to Sub Pop. I shot for them for three years straight and still do to this day. The station is now a world leader in online radio and their YouTube channel is incredible. So proud to have been a part of that station.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
My good friend Catherine Ledner. Back when I was an art director, I found her on Getty and hired her for a job in Los Angeles in 2001. We became instant friends and still are. Her sense of humor, talent and unending encouragement are probably my most consistent motivator.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I try to stay as open-minded as possible. I see myself as an assignment photographer in the truest sense of the term. When I get calls, especially cold calls, on the other end of the line is an experience I may or may not have any history or knowledge of. Whether an editorial assignment of a story or a commercial assignment where my responsibility is to help craft a predetermined narrative, I approach each assignment/job with fresh eyes. I’ve been doing this long enough to have the confidence in my skill set that I know my personal style will come through in the end. And ultimately, that’s why I like to think I get hired, for my perspective.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Not really. It depends on the client—and the agency. As I mentioned before, I’ve been on the other end of the phone before, and have had to have those conversations with clients as part of the creative team. So I understand the responsibilities creative agencies have to their clients. The good agencies know how to not only get amazing creative work, but satisfy the creative brief, strategist, media buyer, etc. It’s a juggling act but what I think separates the good agencies from the legendary ones is the ability to manage all those moving parts like a surgical team. By the time I come into the picture, (post-awarding), the process has begun and I’ve already been chosen for my aesthetic. So there’s rarely a request to “be” something else other than myself.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
In addition to the usual gamut of mailers, e-mails, phonecalls and agency visits, social media has helped me enormously. I can’t stress it enough. I have a very active and robust Instagram feed. But I am really careful to handle it like a visual diary and not a portfolio. (I make that clear in my profile.) I stick to iPhone photos as much as possible and when I post non-iPhone work, I make it very clear. Instagram fits my personality perfectly. I have adult ADHD, so things tend to catch my attention for just a moment or two. Tops. My feed is made up of anything that catches my eye. That said, I do curate it carefully. Editing is still important even in something so casual. My feed gives potential art buyers and photo editors not only a glimpse of my unfettered eye, but also my personality. A client once likened me to the slow food movement and called me a “slow artist.” Someone whose holistic vision really can’t be accurately seen unless you spend some time with it. I like that. I’ll take it. Also, if a client follows me for a while, and I follow them, we begin building a rapport early so that should we be lucky enough to work together, we kind of already know each other. It really does prime the pump. Lastly, and importantly, Instagram has led to actual, real jobs. Jobs I wouldn’t have had otherwise. So it’s not just a diversion for me. It’s a necessary tool. It’s not for everyone, but I am glad it’s available because it’s a perfect fit for me.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Show “yourself,” not just a body random of work. I remember the days when the only ways to find new shooters were the annuals and directories. There are so many other avenues now. Avenues that can give a deeper view into you as an artist and as a professional that were simply unavailable in the past. I work with a lot of musicians and seeing their business model transform from one of major distributors (major labels) to self-publishing ended up being a blueprint for the commercial visual arts. I love my Tumblr feed. I follow a few curated feeds that show me new artist everyday. (Don’t forget to credit the artist, Tumblrs. I need to find them somehow!) My advice is to get your vision out to as many of these curators and tastemakers as possible. But make sure it’s YOUR vision. It’s really the only thing separating photographers these days. Lighting styles, color-palettes and unique camera tricks are all great, but what separated Hemingway from Huxley wasn’t their typing techniques. It was what they were writing.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Always. It’s the art director in me. Finish one campaign, on to the next campaign. The next adventure. The only way to hone your vision is to do the leg work. If something interests me, personally, I always try to find a way to get to shoot it. I maintain a “Personal Work” section on my web site for just this purpose.) Commisioned work is important, but personal work is raw. There’s no outside influence so you are seeing EXACTLY what I want you to see.

I am in pre-pro on two personal projects now. One that will definitely happen and one that I really hope happens. (The green light depends on a lot of unknowns at this point.)

How often are you shooting new work?
Constantly. I couldn’t stop if I tried. (See also: ADHD)

William Anthony is a former advertising art director, commercial & editorial photographer, husband, eternal optimist and annoying grammar cop. West-coast based, but well-traveled, William has become expert at photographing people, places influenced by people and animals acting like people.

He currently lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and two cats despite being a “dog person.”

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.

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

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

When: Wednesday, November 13th at 2pm EST

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

Who: Rob Haggart, Suzanne Sease and Stephen Alvarez

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

Show Notes:

Stephen Alvarez: http://alvarezphotography.com/

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

http://www.picturestoryblog.com

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

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

The Weekly Edit: Adam Voorhes – Details

- - The Daily Edit

Details

Creative Director: Rockwell Harwood
Senior Photo Editor: Ashley Horne
Contributing Photo Editor: Stacey DeLorenzo
Photographer: Adam Voorhes 

Prop Stylist: Robin Finlay

Is Robin Finlay whom you always work with for props?
Robin is my wife and creative partner. We collaborate on everything from the conception of ideas through the final delivery of a photograph. We have an intimate understanding of each other’s process, and are both passionate about our work. We’ve very much evolved into a team over the past few years.

How did the concept evolve?
Details is wonderful to work with on conceptual images because they tend to avoid literal visuals. They open the door to abstract ideas that we generally aren’t able to pursue. We can brainstorm and sketch outside of the box. Although we concept many of the images we execute for them, this wasn’t one of them, and the egg wasn’t the original idea. We were asked to create a wall with a hole in the shape of a fleeing figure, as though someone had run screaming and crashed through the wall. Robin built the wall out of sheetrock, cut the figure, styled broken 2x4s and crumbles of shattered wall. But on the morning of the shoot we received new direction. The new concept was a shattered egg that is being held together by tape, glue, stitches, any possible means.

Is that a real egg? if not what materials did you use?
Real. Since we were down to the wire on time Robin ran to the store, bought a few dozen eggs, and started breaking them, then gluing them back together with super glue while I pre-lit.

How much of this is post?
Everything but some of the glue is added in post. But it was pretty seamless. While I photographed a few of the eggs Robin made stiches in paper. We gobbed some hot glue on paper, and crumpled tape on paper. Then I chose the egg I preferred and started photographing the elements to match the lighting and angles on various parts of the egg. Then it was just a matter of dragging and dropping the elements onto the egg. Easy stuff.

What is the actual size / scale of the egg?
Egg sized.

Here IS one we concepted. The story was about working out so hard that you damage your body. Apparently you can stress to your cardiovascular system and build up plaque by pushing yourself to extremes. We drew a handful of sketches based on anatomical hearts, the vascular system, and I always like to set things on fire so why not a flaming shoe? This image was selected and we went to town. The execution was straightforward. Burning plastic is pretty foul so we dawned our respirators, turned on the vent fan and started to torch the thing. Burn. Shoot. Burn. Shoot. Repeat until done.

This Week In Photography Books: Jo Röttger

by Jonathan Blaustein

I was lying in bed the other night, trying to fall asleep. Dreamily, I asked my wife a question. What are the five places you’d most like to visit? She named them, but I couldn’t follow along. By the time she turned the question on me, I was already unconscious.

I thought about it the next day, when I awoke. I whittled down to Germany, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam. As I recited the list, I realized I had chosen the former Axis powers, and two Communist countries.

OMG. What does that say about me? Am I a less-than-patriotic American? Or a horrible Jew? And what about Africa and South America? Does their Continental omission mean I’m also secretly racist? Or do I just really like asking absurd, rhetorical questions?

Frankly, I haven’t been to Italy, the artist’s paradise, in a decade, and I’ve never been to Asia. So that covers 4 out of 5. As for Germany? I was in Lübeck once, very briefly, about 15 years ago. The people in the North were very nice. They kept buying me beers, incredulous that I’d come to their part of the country, rather than Bavaria. And the currywurst was super-delicious.

I’d like to go back, because who wouldn’t want to visit Berlin these days? But there’s something else, and it has far less to do with WWII than you might imagine. I just seem to groove on the German aesthetic. I love that they are so serious about their formalism and craftsmanship. And they’re eternally curious, without ever seeming to believe they’ll hit upon an answer.

Take this week’s book, for instance. It’s called “Landscapes & Memory: Thirty photographs” by Jo Röttger, published by Peperoni Books. Does it consist of exactly 30 photographs? Of course it does. Are they exquisitely composed, and built as well as a Maybach? Did you have to ask?

This book is excellent on multiple levels, but really excels at reminding us why iPhones are cute, but will never replace a large format camera. And why journalists and artists are…not exactly the same thing. (Much less citizen journalists.)

I’m not here to disparage the growing number of amateurs out there. Hell, if they’ll call me a journalist, they’ll clearly let anyone in the club. It’s an important job, sharing the news, but it’s not the same thing as making art.

This book gives makes the difference very visible. The artist was seemingly embedded with the German military, and made photographs in their company. He shot them while they were training in country, and also while they were active duty in Afghanistan.

The formalism is impressive, as I mentioned, but so too are the beautifully drained colors seen at dusk. The mid-day-desert sun leeches desire from the world too, and that blister-bright palette is on display as well. These pictures beg to be seen at 40″x60″, and I wouldn’t doubt that they’re built that large for exhibition purposes.

I was certainly reminded of Simon Norfolk’s work, but then Mr. Röttger kicks the whole thing up a notch. (My first, and last, Emeril Lagasse reference. Bam!) At the end, he photographs the German soldiers while they’re training in some Alpine landscapes that are straight out of “The Sound of Music.” (Which I’ve never seen, but am more than happy to reference here.)

Where are the lederhosen? Where is the alpenhorn to summon the shepherds home for strudel? I don’t know, and I don’t care. These pictures are so damn good, I want one for my wall. Hell, I want to build a bigger wall, and then put one of these bad boys up.

This project offers what I wanted, and then rejected from the Luc Delahaye photograph in the War/Photography exhibition I reviewed at the beginning of the year: the size, sharpness, clarity and patience that a big camera offers, without the knee-knocking sense of exploitation. (i.e., profiting off of a dead Talibani soldier. Delahaye might not have stolen his boots, but what he did take was worth $20,000 a pop.) Regardless, I do hope you enjoy the book.

PS: I’d ask you to share your top five list in the comment section, but when’s the last time that worked?

Bottom Line: Exquisitely crafted photos in Germany and Afghanistan

To Purchase “Landscapes & Memory: Thirty photographs” 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: Sam Kaplan

- - Art Producers Speak

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

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Sam Kaplan.

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

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

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

New York Magazine - Satchels

Personal project - Runts and Nerds

Personal project - Big Red Gum

Personal Project - Dental Picks

Personal Project - Pencils

Personal Project - Pringles

New York Times Magazine - Black Bass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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