I’m imagining those last minutes

- - Blog News

I know what you were thinking: What a silly way to die. What a silly, selfish, ridiculous mistake to have made. Don’t think that, brother. You had a very specific vision for your work and for your life, and that vision included your death. It didn’t have to, but that’s how it turned out. I’m so sorry, Tim.

Maybe Misrata wasn’t worth dying for—surely that thought must have crossed your mind in those last moments—but what about all the Misratas of the world? What about Liberia and Darfur and Sri Lanka and all those terrible, ugly stories that you brought such humanity to? That you helped bring the world’s attention to?

via Sebastian Junger Remembers Tim Hetherington – Vanity Fair.

Tim Hetherington’s Last Interview

Outside magazine called over a month ago to ask if I would interview a photographer for their summer interview issue. I immediately pitched them Tim Hetherington whose work I admired although I’d never met or spoken with him before. The body of work he created in Afghanistan was so vast and varied, including an award winning Oscar nominated documentary (Restrepo), plus he’d made some outlandish statements like “forget photography” in the press that I just knew he was blazing new trails for photographers and photojournalism in particular.

When I emailed to setup the interview he said it needed to happen immediately, because he was going to Libya. After what he survived in Afghanistan and previous conflicts it never crossed my mind that Libya would be his last. Here’s an excerpt of our conversation:

ROB HAGGART: Hey, Tim, how are you?
TIM HETHERINGTON: Rob, I’m very well, man.

Good. Did you find a way into Libya?
Ah, I’m still trying to work out what to do. I mean, I’ve got a potential way in, but—I mean the thing is, the situation is moving so fast it’s very hard to know whether it’s a good call or not.

Right.
That’s the main thing at the moment.

And do you have an assignment or are you just going to go?
Yeah, it’s like a top-shelf documentary film. A director who I know who—and I said I wanted to go in. The problem is, unlike making still photographs, you don’t know what you’ll get in this kind of situation.

Right.
When it’s so fast moving, it’s very hard to structure a kind of narrative. It’s difficult to find characters—you know what I mean? I have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s like a complete fishing trip, so it’s also, like, not wanting to—for them back in New York, the director—for them to understand clearly that that’s what it is.

Right, they probably don’t understand that or maybe just basing it on your previous documentaries, right?
I just don’t want to set myself up for them thinking that they’re going to get something and then they don’t, because it’s impossible—it may be impossible to do what they want out of that. No second chances— like it’s so fast moving, it’s pretty crazy what’s going on. In terms of the government moving very close to Benghazi and who knows whether Benghazi is going to fall or whether the rebels will counter-attack or whether Gaddafi will buy people out in the town, you know what I mean?

Read the rest over at Outside Magazine.

Tim Hetherington Killed In Libya

Tragic, heartbreaking news from Libya that Tim Hetherington was killed and and photographers Chris Hondros and Guy Martin have severe injuries after being struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.

I interviewed Tim just before he left for Libya for an Outside magazine piece. I hope to publish parts of our conversation soon. My prayers and thoughts go out to the photographers families and friends.

NYTimes.com story.

Update: Interview with Tim from November 2010.

Creative Director Tries To Bully Photographers Into Not Emailing Him

- - Marketing

A new site that’s sure to get photographers riled up sprang up last week called “Stop Photospam.” Creative Director Calle Sjoenell from BBH New York is using the site in an attempt to stop photographers and agents from spamming his and his colleagues email. In the first posting on the blog he states:

I have tried everything since I started at Fallon Minneapolis in 2006. I open my new email account and found photographers mailing me without my consent. Since spamming is illegal in Sweden. I got really upset and have tried to fight it ever since. I’ve, been unsubscribing, mailing, even calling them. But the flood continues. I get btw 10-15 every day. This is how we stop it. Join, retweet, spread!

Then on the main page he’s got a list of Art Directors and Creative Directors at major agencies who all claim they will never use a spam photographer and then go on to “declare never to use any of the following spam photographers” with a list that they claim to all be spammers. To add someone to the list it looks like all you have to do is forward the mass marketing email (spam?) and you’re on it.

In theory this list could grow to include most of the working photographers in the world. I’m not sure how Calle and his fellow creatives plan to manage that or even stick to their word of not working with these people. And, of course I know enough people in the business who like receiving these emails that it seems unrealistic that a small group who doesn’t could even put a dent in the traffic.

What’s interesting and hypocritical about this whole thing is that many of the people who say they don’t want emails from photographers are listed in AdBase as wanting them. Craig Duffney, Paul Wagner, Greg Hahn and even Calle himself are listed in the database along with their emails. Why not, before you go getting all huffy online, remove yourself from one of the largest databases that photographers use to reach creatives? Seems stupid to not start there.

calle_adbase

If the database owners are to be believed, all the creatives listed have agreed to receive marketing emails, but even if they didn’t or didn’t know they were agreeing to this it’s pretty simple to opt-out of both. I do have some sympathy for Calle and his friends, because there’s a large amount of garbage and irrelevant emails that come in from being on a list. If you don’t have the time or patience to sift through it then you should remove yourself from the marketing databases at Agency Access, AdBase and Workbook and leave the heavy lifting to the Art Buyers and Photo Editors whose job it is to plow through all of this. Additionally for those who aren’t using the main marketing databases to email creatives there is a law in the US that requires all marketing email to have an opt-out option that must be honored (CAN-SPAM Act).

I do believe this signals a change in attitude towards email marketing, from mildly annoyed to outright anger. I’m sure there are plenty of creatives who feel the same way but are not as vocal as Calle. If your list is not targeted you’re likely just pissing someone off.

This Is Why I’m Not A Hotel Receptionist

- - Blog News

When you’re a boy in your mid-teens in the home counties of England in the early to mid eighties, things like this are the punch in the face you need if you don’t want your life to be something that begins at 5.30pm on a Friday every week.

In time, although my interests and tastes in photography have travelled across a lot of ocean, Bailey’s work and story have remained as the Greenwich meridian of my photographic core and even now, when I look at his work all these years after first finding it, I feel that I am back in my home port.

via Chris Floyd: Clean Living Under Difficult Circumstances.

New Media and Diversified Marketing Strategies

- - Events

As part of MOPLA (month of photography LA), I’m moderating a panel this Wednesday (April 20th) at Smashbox Studios in Culver City, CA on using new and old media to market your business [New Media + Diversified Marketing Strategies = Business Longevity]. I’ve got Jen Jenkins (Founder, Giant Artists), Kiino Villand (WSTRNCV.com), Keith Goodman (Modern Postcard), Jeremy and Claire Weiss (day19.com) and Heidi Volpe (Design Director at Zinio).

The goal will be to discuss the mix of new an old marketing methods that are used to land jobs and reach out to prospects. Also, I want to explore how companies use new media to hire photographers and what they look for when hiring for projects that are a mix of new and old media.

I can’t promise any silver bullets, but I think you will come away with some ideas and inspiration on how you can adjust the mix of your marketing methods.

Dan Winters Interview – Part 3

- - Photographers

Dan Winters interview part 3. Part 1 is (here). Part 2 is (here).

Rob: So when did you move to Austin?

Dan: We moved in 2000. I knew going into this that there’s no market in Austin. There are a lot of photographers here…

Rob: It’s amazing how many photographers there are in and around Austin.

Dan: Yeah, we have a pretty amazing photo community here. There are ties down here, but really there’s “Texas Monthly”, that’s about it.

Rob: What’s amazing, though is the Creative Directors that came out of Texas Monthly. Fred came from there and DJ and  Scott Dadich.

Dan: I was always envious of the relationship Seliger and Fred had and I had it to an extent with DJ, and we did some really good stuff together, but I never thought it matured to where we both had hit our stride. Now I feel like I’m on my game and I feel like it’s a culmination of all the stuff that preceded this. That happened when Scott and I started working together. The funny thing about Scott is how much younger he is than I. I think the first time I met him he was 23 or something, but for some reason it just gelled, and I think it was partially due to his tenacity, because some of the stuff we shot I was questioning what it was going to be like. Like that barbecue thing, it looked like an insect collection and I’d studied entomology since I was nine, even went to California State Fair and won once in high school.

Rob: Wait, you studied entomology? Ok, your style is starting to make more sense to me.

Dan: From the time I was nine until I was 18, I studied entomology under George Merriken. I wanted to be an entomologist, but realized they don’t get paid anything. I could make more money as a photographer. When George died and his wife donated his entire collection to a couple universities I flew up to California, and set up a studio in her house and documented the entire collection on 8 x 10. I shot them all the same way using a little set I built.

When I showed Scott those he called me to say, “Why don’t we do barbecue and do it like those insect collection photos.” And right from that moment I felt like we were on the same page. I really feel like I will always work with him, he’s a very close friend, he designed my book.

Getting him to design the book was a project in and of itself. He and I had started two books already, and we had one of them almost done, a black and white street photography book. So I had always said, if I get a book deal, you’re designing the book. So, I got this phone call from Aperture, and they said, “We want a book with you and we want to send some people down to your studio in Austin, what’s your schedule like?”

They have a two-year, first look deal with me and I have several books that I’ve been working on including a bee book.

meat

Continue Reading

The Arc Of Your Careeer

- - Blog News

The arc of a career is like climbing a tree. You could climb straight up and get to the top, but you would have missed the potential exploration of each of the branches. And I think that’s when the magic is revealed. That’s when you really start to look and you start to take it past where you’ve been.

— Dan Winters

Dan Winters Interview – Part 2

- - Photographers

Dan Winters interview part 2. Part 1 is (here).

Dan Winters, September 1989, New York City

Dan Winters, September 1989, New York City, photograph by Kevin Amer

Dan: I worked for Chris for exactly a year. When my year was coming up, and I said, ” two more months left.” And he’s like, “you’re really going to stop?” and I said, “yeah, I want to shoot.” The entire time I had worked for him, every weekend I was shooting at his studio because he would go to his house on the North Brook Long Island with his wife, and I would have friends come over and shoot portraits of them and do lighting. I built my portfolio while I was working for him. So when I left him, I started going to night meetings.

Rob: A year. that’s pretty fast isn’t it? Sounds like you were super ambitious

Dan: Yeah, I mean this is my life. I had that place in Little Italy for only three months, and then I found a room in Brooklyn in Park Slope. I was dying to get into the city, so I found a shit hole, we called it the hell-hole. It was this building on Lake Street and Hudson in TriBeCa, which at the time was like no man’s land. There wasn’t even a restaurant, you couldn’t do anything. You had to ride your bike over the canal to get Cuban food.

There were three of us in this place, I had one room and my darkroom was in my room and I slept on a futon so I could fold it up and shoot. I’ll never forget opening my eyes when I woke up and looking at chemistry that’s on my shelf.

Rob: [laughs]

Dan: This was a really interesting time. Throughout the history of magazine photography, there had been individual voices but there was more of a different schools of photography. You had the “Geographic” school, the “Life” school and the “Esquire” school of photography. So the magazines were dictating the look, to a certain extent. And photographers were really kind of like scurrying to fit in so that they could be shooting for that magazine, rather than a photographer really trying to hone his own voice and get it published.

So, in the ’80s, I feel like a lot of individualization started to happen with guys like Seliger, Chip Simons, Eisler, Karen Kuehn. Then there was Bill Duke and Matt Mahurin, who did tons of stuff for “Rolling Stone” and were really trying to really individualize. And some of it was based in technique, which I always feel like is a little bit shallow, because I think, when you rely totally on technique, if you have the waif-y, alabaster-skinned model, and you have the right background, you have the right lights, and you have the 8-by-10 Polaroid, you can make this kind of picture. But if you take any of those elements away, you don’t get that. So that’s really technique-based. It’s not like vision.

Heisler was a big influence on me. He could do anything. He was shooting still-life objects and portraits and all kinds of stuff. He did this great photo essay on the Olympics with this amazing portrait of Louganis diving off the high-dive, in infrared four-by-five. I’m like, “Oh, that’s amazing shit.” I was just like, “Wow, this is great!” So that’s where my head was. My head was in New York. My head was on this work.

I built this portfolio up and started to take my portfolio around. It was a custom box, with loose prints, all black and white. You dropped it off, you waited around, you picked it up, you took it somewhere else, because I only had one. So I went to Metropolis Magazine, the design studio that did it was Helene Silverstein and Jeff Christensen, because they didn’t have an in-house art department. They had a studio called Hello Studio, which was awesome, cause when they answered the phone they’d say, “hello studio.” Which always cracked me up.

What I’d do is I ‘d go to the newsstands, to look at magazines and figure out where my work could fit, which I think is very important for a photographer to do. So I would drop off my book. Then ride my bike over to the Cuban restaurant that I used to live at, then I went home and the red message light was beeping on my phone. I picked up the message. And it was Jeff, at Metropolis. He said, “This is Jeffery, you dropped you book off here a few hours ago, I have a couple of assignment for you.”

Continue Reading

Dan Winters Interview – Part 1

- - Photographers

danwintersDan Winters is one of the most recognizable, awarded and sought-after editorial photographers in the world. I’ve worked with him a number of times, even visited his studio in Austin, but it wasn’t until I got the chance to interview him that I fully understood what makes him tick as a photographer. I think you will really enjoy reading what he had to say.

Rob: So how are things with you? Busy as ever I’m sure.

Dan: I feel like the greatest gift I’ve had, is the fact that in 26 years, I’ve never not been busy. Honestly, I think the key to that has been, treat every assignment as if it’s your first one, you know? I think there is a misconception, especially that students have and I really make a point when I speak at schools to talk about the fact that you never really arrive. You are always working towards something but you never stop. I think there is this crazy idea that you get somewhere and then everything is cool.

Rob: OK, so can we go back to the beginning? I really want to hear how you got started in photography.

Dan: The first exposure I had to it was when I was in 4-H club, I was 9 or 10. We had an instructor who was a military photographer during Vietnam, and he was really passionate about it. He had a full darkroom set up at his house, so he headed the photography project.

Once I graduated from high school, I started going to a junior college that had and still continues to have the same instructor, John Gray, who was incredibly influential to me and several other guys like Matt Mahurin. I still go out to my old alma mater, Moorpark College, and give lectures and I talk to him all the time. He’s still a mentor. He studied under all the people who started the New Bauhaus School in Chicago. You know, Moholy-Nage and Manray, Siskind, Callahan; they were all in Chicago at the Art Institute. And John studied under them. And so, he brought that to educating which, you know, is lacking in institutions that teach photography.

So early on, I started to just devour everything I could about early photography and early processes. John’s a talented photographer but knows his life’s calling is to educate and to inspire. So when I was at Moorpark, that was huge for me. That was like, you know, the floodgates opened and it was just profound. Then I went to Munich, and went to film art school at the University of Munich film department.

Rob: Wait, why did you go study film?

Dan: I was really interested in photojournalism, and documentary photography, which was what I was doing early on. And, for some reason I wanted to study documentary film. And they had this legendary department. Herzog was on the board, and Fassbinder, at one point when he was still alive, was on the board. It was this great thing I’d read about. I’d studied German in high school and in college, and I thought it would be this great adventure. I was doing carpentry while I was going to junior college and I saved a bunch of money but school didn’t cost anything. Material cost but if you get accepted into a German school you don’t have to pay for it because tuition at state universities is free.

I actually felt what was inspirational to me about Germany was a little bit romanticized. I had this idea that I would go over to a foreign country and study. And I’d read Hemingway, and I’d read Orwell, “Down and Out in Paris and London” and “A Moveable Feast, ” which are about them living on nothing in a foreign city, a little bro’ thing, with them. I was doing odd jobs, and I shot some stuff for the “Deutsche Zeitung,” which is the German version of “The New York Times, ” some freelance stuff. I was hustling.

I started to realize that this has been an incredible experience, but I’ve – I don’t want to say I’ve thrown away the last year and a half of my life – but certainly I could have probably been moving in the direction that I wanted to be moving more rapidly if I hadn’t gone. But, now I look back on it, and it was invaluable to me to have that experience. I think living abroad for anybody especially Americans because you tend to grow up a little bit myopically, is a great experience. So, anyway, I didn’t finish school there. I went for about a year, a little under a year and a half, I guess. Then I came back and I got hired by a local paper. It was a 35,000 daily.

Rob: And this is in California? Where?

Continue Reading

You Are Always Working Towards Something

- - Blog News

I think there is a misconception, especially that students have and I really make a point when I speak at schools to talk about the fact that you never really arrive. You are always working towards something but you never stop. I think there is this crazy idea that you get somewhere and then everything is cool.

— Dan Winters

Licensing Images For Facebook

A reader sent me the following question:

Do you know of a discussion on your blog or anywhere else discussing pricing for clients who want to license images to put on their Facebook wall?

My specific situation is a major [redacted] company wanting to use a series of editorial images that I originally shot for their brand magazine. They don’t have usage rights outside of the magazine, and want to post 10-15 images on their main facebook wall.

Would love to know how other photographers are working with their clients on this, or if there is some sort of standard developing for pricing Facebook wall photos for major clients.

I contacted a couple top-shelf agents to see if I could find some pricing information:

To us that is considered online use. So if the photographer sold “one time editorial and online use,” then that covers it. If they sold “one time editorial use” and “magazine website use only,” then I think they should pay something for Facebook. Even if it is a nominal fee. They could sell them a 1 year online use, no advertising for $500-$1000 depending on the amount of images.

and

I actually think social media/online usage is separate from general website/online use. We have not been asked for this usage yet but would expect to charge a fee for the use. Perhaps $350-$750 each depending on how many are purchased. This is new territory.

It looks like we’re ahead of the curve on this. Chime in on the comments if you can add any information.

How to steal like an artist

- - Blog News

9. Be boring. It’s the only way to get work done.

As Flaubert said, “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

I’m a boring guy with a 9-5 job who lives in a quiet neighborhood with his wife and his dog.

That whole romantic image of the bohemian artist doing drugs and running around and sleeping with everyone is played out. It’s for the superhuman and the people who want to die young.

The thing is: art takes a lot of energy to make. You don’t have that energy if you waste it on other stuff.

via Austin Kleon thx, Keith,

The Magnum Photographers Magical Mystery Tour

- - From The Field

by Jonathan Blaustein

Musicians make their money on the road, but can the same logic be applied to photographers? Sure, The Strobist and Joe McNally can give camera-company-sponsored lighting workshops out of a bus around America ($249.00 DVD set not included), but can a motley group of Magnum photographers make money out of an RV named Uncle Jackson en route from Austin, TX to Oakland, CA?

The “Postcards from America” bus tour kicks off next month with Photographers Alec Soth, Mikhael Subotzky, Susan Meiselas, Jim Goldberg, Christopher Anderson and writer Ginger Strand documenting their journey from May 12 to May 26, 2011. I hope they learn from Willie Nelson’s mistakes and leave the reefer behind.

Make no mistake, this is a branded, sponsored, multi-platform endeavor, meant to support the photographer’s careers and shine some 21st Century light on the Magnum brand. The story will play out in realtime via Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and an audience participation site on Flickr. Photography fans will have the opportunity to buy postcards, books, and prints online, all printed on HP printers. Ultimately, there will be a pop-up exhibition somewhere in Oaktown. The photographers aim to engage directly with their audience, and I imagine they’ll have plenty of opportunities to chat over weak coffee and sugary donuts.

It’s not unlike the Kickstarter and Emphas.is platforms that enable photography fans and lovers to directly support the work of photojournalism. Until very recently, publications would hire photographers to create content that their consumers would then buy. That still happens, but what we’re seeing now is that photographers are attempting to cut out the middle-man by “selling” the content directly to the audience (out of necessity, of course). We can call it a gift, a reward, or donation, but really it’s just commerce. All in all, it’s a good idea if the prints and books sell, and everyone has a good time. Content will be generated. Compelling images will be made.

In the Interview we recently published with Nina Berman, I discussed the fact that the boundaries between journalism and art were beginning to seem arbitrary. This venture seems to validate that idea, as the “Postcards” tour doesn’t seem that much different from Ryan McGinley cruising around the country with a bunch of clothing averse young hotties. If we saw this as a road trip by a group of artists who happened to be friends, and who planned on selling prints after the fact, it wouldn’t seem strange or newsworthy. But the fact that this tour is being done in the shadow of Magnum, an icon of American photojournalism, makes it a much bigger deal. It’s hard to imagine Henri Cartier-Bresson rambling around the American West like Clark W. Griswold, but then again, HCB isn’t trying to pay the bills in 2011.

postcards_map_big

JWT Art Buyer on Email Self-Promos

- - Blog News

I get tons of them, at least 50 a day, especially on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays—it’s an insane amount. The problem is that I open and read 90 percent of my e-mails on a Blackberry so if you are sending me images in an e-mail, chances are I won’t see them.

The best e-mails are very focused, event-driven announcements about a show or a new book that’s coming, things of that nature. Keep in mind that creatives are not constantly looking for photographers, we’re doing our other job too.

— JWT Art Buyer Shawn Smith

via Jasmine DeFoore