Art Producers Speak: Sophie Ebrard

- - 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 Sophie Ebrard. I love her work and she was a joy to work with. Experimenting with natural light and preferring the surprise factor of film for her personal work are two factors among many that give her images a sense of genuine warmth. This is both rare and beautiful amongst the current climate of overly produced and manipulated images.

How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been shooting professionally for 3 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I’ve always been taking pictures. My dad is a keen photographer so in my childhood I always had access to a camera.
After graduating from university, I went straight into advertising. It felt like the right thing to do at the time. It took me almost a decade to realize that my childhood passion for photography was what I wanted to do for a living. Three years ago, I left my well-paid job and started a new career.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
Difficult question as there are so many talented people who I admire and who have inspired me. William Eggleston, Henri Cartier Bresson, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton…are some of the photographers who have had a great influence on how I approach my work.

But I would say, I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t had guidance by some of my very good friends who are also photographers. They have inspired me since the beginning of this journey.

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?
As a photographer, you are constantly trying to find your voice. You can only find it by trying new things and be in the constant look out for projects that suit you. If you stay true to yourself, you will ultimately find a voice, yours. The result will be new, fresh and hopefully inspiring to others. If you like the result, there’s a good chance someone will notice it and will want to hire you for that.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Today consumers are bored of overly produced and manipulated images so brands want documentary style images: reality a little bit enhanced.
They want some of the grittiness, but is has to look beautiful.

I believe possess a good eye for reality. I have an instinct for finding the beautiful in the supremely ordinary. I like to make normal things appear special. My style seems to appeals to both art directors and clients. So far, I’ve been lucky enough to work with great clients and art directors who like the way I see the world and who share my vision of the work.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I try to keep my website updated by posting some new work regularly. I use social medias. But I would say my agents in London and in the US do most of the work. I’m fortunate enough to have great representation.

I’m working at the moment on my first solo exhibition. The project “Porn Set” (working title) is a series of visual investigations into the porn industry. I have followed a director on his shoots for the last two years (in LA, UK, Spain…). As a woman, I’ve tried to capture the beauty and aesthetics of the human body instead of focusing on the sexual encounter, and the primal nature of sex. We rarely see the behind the scenes, the beauty and the emotion that comes out of it. My eye was focusing on the essence of the beauty of the moment.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Never do work primarily because you think it will sell. Never compromise. The minute you do so, you lose your edge. Margaret Thatcher once said: “ If you just set out to be liked, you will be prepared to compromised on anything at anytime, and would achieve nothing”. Not sure I would want to comment on her politics but this sentence seems very true for me as a photographer.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
As a photographer, you need to be feeding your soul as much as possible. Shooting commissioned work allows me to have the freedom to shoot as many personal projects as I want. It’s art and commerce.

How often are you shooting new work?
As often as possible. For personal projects, I mainly shoot when I’m abroad. Light is very important in my life and in my work. And I like being in another country. It makes me look at things differently and pay attention to simple details, much more than I would in my day-to-day life. I try to use natural lighting as much as possible. I love to play with flare, contrasts, light and the shadows.

SOPHIE EBRARD
www.sophieebrard.com

REPRESENTED BY

* Wyatt Clarke&Jones (Worldwide)
www.wyattclarkejones.com
+44 20 7580 7570
james@wyattclarkejones.com

* Judi Shin (USA)
www.i2iphoto.com
+1 (917) 721-5385
judi@i2iphoto.com

Sophie Ebrard is a French, London based photographer. She has in the past shot commissioned work for companies including Adidas, Monocle magazine, Stella Artois, EMI music…

Sophie Ebrard’s photographs are as eclectic and full of life as the photographer herself. Experimenting with natural light and preferring the surprise-factor of film for her personal work are two factors among many that give Sophie’s images a sense of genuine warmth. This is both rare and beautiful amongst the current climate of overly produced and manipulated images. Yet she is not flippant in her art, choosing to connect with the subjects in her photographs on a personal level. Even her pictures that are absent of people aren’t without their own touch of personality and narrative. Sophie’s work is straight from the heart, and comes from her unyielding passion for photography, storytelling and light.

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.

 

New Feature: Professional Photographer Webcast

- - Working

On Wednesday October 16th at 2pm EST (11am PST) there’s going to be a live webcast here on the blog and over on google plus where we discuss working in editorial and commercial photography. Basically the mission of this blog only in a webcast where I can have guests and take questions from people watching. I’ve already done one as sort of a test run that you can check out and decide if it’s something you’d be interested in watching here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrS77wlfzYw

Vimeo version here: https://vimeo.com/76621579

The goal is to try a new format for discussing topics of interests for Professional Photographers and because I don’t think there’s much out there for pros it should be worth producing a few times a month. I also like the idea of having guests on and discussing everything freeform instead of writing blog posts, something I’m doing less and less of 6 + years into this. Each episode with have myself representing the editorial perspective and Suzanne Sease talking commercial photography plus a guest or two. Next week our guest is Art Producer Kat Dalager. Send me any questions you might have on the topic of Art Production.

The Weekly Edit
Peter Bohler: GQ

- - The Daily Edit

GQ

Design Director: Fred Woodward
Creative Director: Jim Moore
Director of Photography: Dora Somosi
Senior Photo Editor: Krista Prestek
Photo Editor: Justin O’Neil
Art Director: Chelsea Cardinal

Photographer: Peter Bohler

I saw on your site there is a section called  “Veteran Fight Club,” was this personal work that got published or an assignment?
The Veteran’s Fight Club story was shot for Maxim last fall. It is about a Mixed Martial Arts class for veterans in San Diego. A lot of the veterans are recovering from injuries and PTSD, and the group provides a crucial structure for the members to connect with each other, feel safe, and release some of the anger and aggression that they are feeling. A lot of them have been through the VA’s treatment for PTSD, which consists primarily of drugs, and they were all adamant that that system doesn’t work, and this club does. Visually, the two stories are very similar, and the veterans story helped me a lot in approaching the Billy Corgan story. I did shoot only one wrestling event, so it was good to have an idea of what to expect going in.
How often do you shoot for GQ? and what sort of direction did you get for this shoot?
This was my first assignment for GQ, and Jolanta Bielat, the editor I worked with, was great. She gave a lot of freedom, and her main direction was to capture Billy Corgan in his element. It’s such a rich story, and I was a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan when I was 15, so I was really fired up about the shoot.
Did you spend multiple days shooting? or was that captured from one event?
The whole shoot took place at one event in a barn outside of Chicago. Everyone involved was super welcoming–it’s a small, home-grown kind of thing, which I think is what attracts Billy Corgan to it and the fans are insanely passionate.
Do you know what the clutch moves are for that sport, or are you shooting on the fly?
I know virtually nothing about Pro Wrestling, but I like to think I learn quickly. The moves the wrestlers were doing were pretty amazing, though. I gained a huge amount of respect for it.
Approximately how many images did you shoot ( I would image quite alot since it’s  theatrical and over the top ) and was it a hard edit since something is happening all the time?
I don’t remember exactly how many images I shot (and I’m on the road right now), but it was certainly well over a thousand. A shoot like this becomes almost athletic, and I slip into a rhythm that mimics that of the wrestlers as they move around the ring, so I shot a lot. My edit was large, too–maybe around 150 pictures–because there were so many people and situations to photograph. I generally submit large edits, because I trust my editors and they also have a better understanding of how the story develops. I’m always grateful for a fresh set of eyes.

Turning Down Work For Your Beliefs

- - Working

Guest post by Ryan Smith

I have had many, many times when jobs fall through for reasons that are outside of my control. There haven’t been many times though when I’ve actively said no to a job and until last week, there had never been a time where I turned down a good paying job from a respectable agency because of ethical concerns.

That’s right. I left money on the table because I didn’t feel comfortable using my skill set to promote this particular client’s product. It was an extremely difficult decision. August is traditionally a slow month for me so when work comes along, and it’s paying reasonable rates, it’s really hard to say no. In this case however, I just couldn’t bring myself to work for this client. Without naming names (and please don’t try to guess), I will say that this client promotes a particular product that I just don’t fully support. I don’t think it’s good for people, the environment, our country or our future.

The reason I don’t want to identify this client is because the people who work for their agency of record are good people whom I like and want to continue to work with. I don’t want my ethical dilemma to reflect negatively on the agency’s business. This is an important point because I greatly value relationships and as a freelancer and small business owner it’s paramount that I maintain good working relationships.

The agency understood my position and even respected my decision. Which is pretty amazing when you think about it. There they were, offering me good money to shoot a job that countless other photographers would probably jump at. And here I am saying no to a job that didn’t even require any negotiation. Here’s the budget, here’s the shot list, it’s yours if you want it.

And, here’s the kicker. The actual assignment sounded interesting to me. I think it would have been a lot of fun to shoot, but I just couldn’t reconcile my feelings about how the images would be used. I thought long and hard about this assignment, but ultimately I had to turn it down. I like to think that I’m sticking to my ethical code and that I’m above selling out, but I wonder how the decision would have been different if the fee for the job could have been “life changing” for me and my family. Where do you draw the line and how do you balance supporting your family and maintaining a good conscience? There is a lot of gray area and only you can make the decision.

For now though, I feel good about not taking the job. Do I wish I was making money right now? Yes, but there are other jobs out there. Just to prove my point, literally within one hour of deciding to turn down this job I received an email from another agency asking me to bid on a much better job for a client that I can really pour all my energy into. Now just keep your fingers crossed that I win the bid.

This post originally appeared here: http://www.playingworkblog.com/2013/08/i-could-be-shooting-right-now-instead-im-writing-this/

A follow up post can be read here: http://www.playingworkblog.com/2013/09/the-opportunity-to-choose

This Week In Photography Books: Paul Gaffney

by Jonathan Blaustein

For the first time ever, I ran out of books. It’s been a while since I’ve been to photo-eye, and I’m due there tomorrow. But that doesn’t help me today.

Frankly, I wrote a column yesterday based upon a book I’d previously rejected four times already. It was all I had, and the resulting effort was tepid at best. What to do?

Fortunately, earlier this morning, my wife rustled up a package from our overly-messy mail pile, and showed me that someone had sent us a book. It’s begun to happen more often, lately, as the word has gotten out that I review photo books. So I slit the cardboard, and took a quick look at what was inside.

“We Make the Path by Walking” is a self-published effort by Paul Gaffney, a photographer in Ireland. I’m happy to report that it’s such a cool book, we’ve made a one-week exception to our photo-eye only rule. My book stack will grow again tomorrow, so today we’ll have ourselves a rule-breaking fiesta.

Really, the only reason I’d choose to write an entirely new article is that good books prod good writing. And boring books bring you the kind of reviews that make you wonder if there isn’t someone better for the job. (The line forms in the rear…) Mr. Gaffney has put his soul into this book, and I’ll aim to do it justice.

The delicate, gray, soft-cover book is slipped into a colorful, pink and yellow half-cover. It sends the message right off that muted colors and vivacity can co-exist. It’s not an easy pairing, or more would attempt it, but it works well here.

Begin to leaf through, and immediately we notice the beauty of the color and light. I suspect it’s Ireland, given the artist’s provenance, but eventually it doesn’t matter. The title is instructive, so we take it for what it is. Each photo gives us the sense of a flaneur out and about, albeit one with Zen sensibilities.

If an artist is going to make one more book about lonely wandering, the maker ought to have a pretty interesting perspective on the whole venture. No worries here. Again and again, the misty light seduces, or the pop of earthy color, the luxurious nature of green, or a depression made by a sleeping animal.

Natural structures in the woods are paired off with animal burrows, and man-made over-passes that look like large-scale sculptures leading to nowhere. I busted out the nature walk just yesterday, to clear my mind for writing, and yet these photos make me long for a more humidified environment. No wonder why all those Irish folks have un-wrinkled skin.

Finally, we reach a beautiful poem by Antonio Machado, in Spanish and English, which tells us nothing the photos don’t. (But it does class up the joint a bit.) Only in an accompanying PR postcard did I learn that Mr. Gaffney spent a year walking 3,500 km to make the pictures.

It was the rare case of that extra info being purely extraneous. The photographs communicated the practice, and its purpose. How often does that happen?

Bottom Line: Very beautiful, thoughtful, self-published book

Art Producers Speak: Andrew Reilly

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 Andrew Reilly. Aside from talent for creating an image without it coming off as contrived or staged, he is one of the most even-keeled photographers I’ve had the pleasure to meet; his disposition conveys itself to his subjects as well, resulting in creative apogee.

This is from a recent shoot for JanSport (via the agency teak digital). An amazing project a 10- day road trip from San Francisco to Austin for SXSW...we had a great group of people an all keep in touch.

This is from the same JanSport shoot...while waiting for a light to change I asked a few of the models to run around the street with their lucha libre masks..The combination of set up shoots as well as spontaneity made this an ideal project.

This is an image from a series of a friend skating a well-known spot, “the pit”.

Over the last year or so I have traveled with the band J Roddy Walston and the Business...this image comes from that series.

A random portrait I shot in San Diego.

A personal test kids at night.

Another image from my shoot for JanSport...pulled over along the side of the road rushing to take advantage of the light.

A test shoot in Los Angeles.

This was shot for UGLY motorbikes a custom build shop in Southern California.

From a series on the band Dead Feather Moon.

A personal test kids at night.

A test shoot in San Diego.

A portrait from the pro-bono work I did for the ABC Youth Boxing Foundation.

How many years have you been in business?
I have been shooting commercially for about 4 years now but always seemed to have a camera around and was shooting for myself year’s prior.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught? 

I am self-taught but there have been previous careers, which have translated well to my career as a photographer (most notably working in the editing department of several national TV productions).

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
My grandfather, an avid amateur photographer.  

He was an architect in the Pittsburgh area, where I grew up.  He got to a point in his life when he no longer was able to use a camera as effectively as he had and passed all of his equipment on to me.  

I first started shooting urban scenes and would often take those images over to his place and have him review and critique them.  He was always very honest in his critique which at times was difficult but made me all the more proud when he liked an image…and in time he liked more and more of the images i was presenting.  I am honored to have had that time and those memories with him.

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?
Much of what I shoot is based on my past…I shoot quite a bit of kids/teens/youth lifestyle and have found that these images show in some ways the life I have lived in my youth (what I did or wished I had done).  I think it is that touch of reality that people connect to and provides the room to be called fresh and creative as opposed to contrived.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I have been very fortunate to work with very creative clients who have trusted my work and me.  Each job certainly presents its own unique challenges, but establishing a high level of communication between all allows for creativity from you, the agency, and the client.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
This year I have really placed a focused on setting up meetings with art buyers/art producers. I was recently in Chicago/Minneapolis for an assignment and added a few days to my trip. With the assistance of my rep we were able to setup 16 reviews between the two cities.

Prior to that I attended the NYC fotoworks LA event and was able to get in front of some great art buyers/producers. I have also set up several reviews on my own around Los Angeles or on various trips to San Francisco. In the next month I have a job in Boston and will set aside a day or two for meetings.

Aside from these face-to-face meetings I am also using various social media outlets (tumblr, instagram, facebook, twitter, blogs, etc), source books, direct mail pieces, and of course email promos.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Shoot what you love in the way that you love it.  In doing so people will connect to your work more honestly and get a sense of whom you are and what you are trying to present.  You will also be more content doing the work you love as opposed to chasing after something you think someone wants to see.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Yes, always and very much so.  

I predominantly get hired to shoot people in commercial assignments, so with my personal work I tend to mix up the content as much as possible whether its landscape, architecture, or street photography…

I also feel it is important to use a variety of cameras (film, Polaroid, point and shoot digital, phone, or video) as each provides a different perspective of your subject which may later be translated into the project you are getting hired to shoot.

How often are you shooting new work?
I’m shooting new material all the time and try to make a point of shooting a larger project at least once a month.

A goal at the beginning of this year had been to donate my time/photography to a local charity…after searching around I stumbled upon a local foundation, ABC youth foundation, which assists at risk youth by structuring an educational program around boxing. After contacting the foundation I shot a few images for the program, which will be used on their site and various promos. The foundation also plans to use several images in a silent auction to help raise money for the program.

For me new work such as this recent pro-bono collaboration along with my usually personal work/testing really helps keeps my client work fresh and relevant…plus I just really love photography and shoot as often as I can.

Andrew Reilly is a Southern California based photographer traveling and shooting often for clients such as JanSport, Toyota, EA Sports, Mattel, Bank of the West, and many others.

www.andrewreillyphotography.com
andrew@andrewreillyphotography.com
443.676.1926

Artist’s rep
www.emissaryartists.com
liz@emissaryartists.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.

Houzz Has Your Image Rights, How Long Before They’re Selling Them?

- - Working

It may already be too late. Houzz appears to be using the images posted by professional photographers to illustrate editorial stories they create for the front of the site. One photographer was contacted by a staff writer to find out who built what was depicted in the images with no mention of licensing the images for this reuse.

It’s not unusual for social media sites to have onerous terms when it comes to posting your images on their site. Generally this is because they have to host the images on servers which may be located anywhere in the world and repost the images at will for other people to see. To solve this they take all your rights… We’re all suspicious of what might come next but so far that’s been the extent of what they do.

Houzz has taken the first step in reuse that should be of great concern for professional photographers. Paying writers to create editorial content with images uploaded to the site competes directly with existing editorial outlets that pay for a similar use. So not only are they ripping off photographers they’re stealing readers from outlets with their free content. And as Houzz works towards a profitable business model they will start selling advertising against their freely obtained content… and their evil plan will be complete.

I’ve written about this before but it’s worth mentioning again. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Houzz, et al have not reinvented the wheel here (despite all the talk about new business models). They’ve simply discovered a lower cost way to obtain content: free (the business model of free has been around forever). And they’re now selling advertising against that content which is no different than how the New York Times, GQ, etc. operate. Except of course, those guys all pay for their content.

Photographer Caren Alpert first alerted me to the Terms on houzz.com:

“As part of your use of the Website, you may participate in certain ideabooks, message boards, member communications and/or other public forums. Your participation is voluntary; however, by choosing to create ideabooks, post photos or comments, send any messages, submit any ideas or feedback, or otherwise participate in any Houzz forum, you acknowledge and agree that any postings, messages, text, photos, audio/visual works, information, suggestions, feedback, reviews or content provided by you (collectively, “Content”) may be viewed by the general public and will not be treated as private, proprietary or confidential, and you authorize us and our affiliates, licensees and sublicensees, without compensation to you or others, to copy, adapt, create derivative works of, reproduce, incorporate, distribute, publicly display or otherwise use or exploit such Content throughout the world in any format or media (whether now known or hereafter created) for the duration of any copyright or other rights in such Content, and such permission shall be perpetual and may not be revoked for any reason. Further, to the extent permitted under applicable law, you waive and release and covenant not to assert any moral rights that you may have in any Content posted or provided by you.”

The Weekly Edit
More Magazine: Yasu+Junko

- - The Daily Edit

More

Photographers: Yasu+Junko
Creative Director: Debra Bishop
Photo Director: Natasha Lunn
Senior Art Director: Jamie Prokell
Assistant Art Director: Faith Stafford
Contributing Assistant Art Director: Lilian Cohen
Associate Photo Editor: Stephanie Swanicke
Assistant Photo Editor: Gabrielle Sirkin

How does the collaboration work, would you say each of you have a particular strengths, if so what are they?
Our collaboration starts with meetings. Pitching for ideas (for conceptual shoots), how to approach the shoot, deciding on lighting and styling directions, etc. We both light and style, but on set, usually, Yasu covers the technical aspect, and Junko the styling aspect. Depending on the job, we know which one of us will be taking initiative…usually,  when masculinity is needed, Yasu, more delicate and feminine shoots, Junko.

Yasu: Your start was more lifestyle oriented, ( shooting family and friends ) how has that transcended into your still life work?
I’m not quite sure if I was ever a lifestyle photographer. Photography has been my love for a very long time, but as a profession, I have abandoned it at one point. When I came back to it, I had to basically start from zero again, assisting, testing, dropping off portfolios. I was already past 40 at that point. This phrase is so over used, but you are never too old to pursuit your dream.

Junko: Your start was a bit later, and steeped in still life, what called you to photography and what were you doing prior to assisting?
I studied economics in Japan, and worked for insurance company for a couple of years before coming to NY.
I always loved photography, loved beautiful objects and still life. I never thought about being photographer until I studied photography at college in New York.  I’m privileged to know great mentors and coworkers. They inspired me to keep going.

Do both of you always work on the project together on set? Or do you discuss ideas and shoot separately? Meaning are you always a shooting as team?
Yes, always on jobs (so far). We are both security blankets for each other, we do shoot individually in our spare time.

Do you have a regular prop stylist you work with or are you sourcing your own items?
We used to do everything on our own when we started out. (Another strength of having two people.) Now, more and more, we are working with stylists. There are so many wonderful talents, and we learn a lot from them.

How if at at all does your culture influence your work/aesthetic?
We wonder, perhaps the general stereotype of Japanese might fit well to a certain degree. We are strongly aware of the pros and cons of being Japanese though.

What do you see as the pros and the cons?
As you may know, we have a lot of Japanese still life photographers in NY.
One reason we believe, is we had a successful forerunner, Kenji Toma from the 90’s. When something like this happens, a whole new breed of people follow that tries to replicate the same kind of success. Unfortunately, many of them also try replicating the style, which is understandable. ( for the Korean people, the forerunner being Sang An, you see a whole group of younger Korean photographers trying to succeed in the “lifestyle” field) Most of them are very technically inclined and “advertising only” minded. We do not share this approach.

For this particular piece in More, how did the idea evolve?  ( the oyster and the ring ) and how does the creative process with you two.
This was a consigned work. We were given a story to illustrate, and with this piece, there was no wiggle room.
We believe the idea was given to us by our beloved editor (not sure what her title is now), Natasha Lunn.

Where did you source the perfect oyster from and how much if any post was there?
We went to fish market in new york city, and bought bunch of beautiful oysters.
About 30 dollars?

Pricing & Negotiating: Album Cover and Collateral for Rock Band

By Craig Oppenheimer Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Environmental group shots and individual portraits of a well-known band.

Licensing: Advertising, Collateral and Publicity use of 12 images for 1 year. However, the images would primarily be for use on the album cover and in the album booklet.

Location: An outdoor scenic location in California.

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Lifestyle and Landscape Specialist.

Client: Grammy Award-winning alternative rock band represented by a mid-sized record label with offices in the US and UK.

Here is the estimate:

estimate_termsClick to enlarge 

Creative/Licensing: The record label originally approached the photographer with a request to create 12 images of the band. One of the images would be placed on the cover of the band’s upcoming album, and the other images would end up inside the album’s multi-page art booklet. It was also likely that the images would appear on the band’s website, iTunes page, various collateral pieces, merchandise and publicity materials.

Before speaking with the record label about their budget, I had an idea of what we might be up against. The music industry is notorious for paying very little while obtaining a lot in the way of licensing. While larger budgets might be available for shoots with big name artists, those projects account for a very small percentage of the shoots that take place in the music industry. Based on a few other projects I’ve worked on in the past, my inclination was that the photographer could expect to get around $5,000-$6,000 for his creative/licensing fee plus expenses, and I was hoping to limit the licensing as much as possible.

When I spoke with the record label, I learned that they had a bottom line budget of $12,500 for the project, and they wanted this to not only cover all creative/licensing fees and production expenses for the shoot, but also to include the layout and design of the album booklet. The photographer and I decided to create an estimate that was appropriate for his photography work only, and leave the design services out of the conversation because it wasn’t a service he offered.

When compiling the estimate, I tried to keep as much of the budget in the creative/licensing fee while also factoring in payment for pre/post production (all of which adds to the photographer’s “effective fee”). In most cases, I approach the creative/licensing fee first to determine what I believe is appropriate without taking a budget into account. However, in this case, I laid out all of the expenses, and determined that the amount left over in the budget lined up with my expectations for what his creative/licensing fee should be.

Before submitting the estimate, I did check a few other pricing resources. Getty priced one image for “retail product and packaging” use on the cover of up to 500,000 products for 1 year at $2,300. Corbis had a specific pricing category for CD packaging, and priced 1 image just under $2,000 including use on the cover as well as inside of up to 500,000 albums for 1 year. FotoQuote priced a similar use at $2,700 and BlinkBid didn’t offer specific pricing guidelines for this use. While they would be obtaining licensing for 12 images above and beyond album cover use, extrapolating the prices suggested by Corbis and Getty would put us far outside of a range I felt was appropriate for a project and client like this.

Assistant: The photographer paid his assistant a bit higher than the rates I typically include, and we would only need him for the one shoot day.

Digital Tech Day Including Workstation: The digital tech would help to manage the flow of file intake and display for client approval on location, and I included $500 for their day plus $750 for the workstation.

Location Scout: The record label/band wanted to shoot at a “scenic” location, and suggested the possibility of photographing the band on a beach. This opened the door to a lot of possibilities in California, and we included two days for the photographer to scout locations in his hometown. If he wanted to outsource this task to a professional location scout, this would have also covered their time and expenses as well.

Location Fees/Permits: I spoke with a few scouts local to the area, and we determined that a few hundred dollars would cover a permit for a single location and the time it would take to acquire it.

Photographer Pre-Production Day: Before the shoot, the photographer planned to meet the band and the record label contacts to discuss his approach. He’d also be arranging transportation, hiring his crew, managing the scouting results and essentially acting as a producer to pull everything together, all of which we charged for his time to do.

Van/Prop Rental: The only prop that would be needed for the shoot was a vintage van that the band would be posing in front of. The photographer happened to have a friend who owned just the right vehicle they were looking for, and he negotiated this fee for the van to be used and driven to/from the location.

Equipment: This would cover 2 camera bodies (~$400), several lenses (~$100), a couple power packs and heads (~$200) as well as additional modifiers, reflectors and grip equipment (~$100)

Basic Color Correction and Delivery of All Images on Hard Drive: While the client would only be obtaining licensing to 12 images, they wanted all of the hi-res images delivered to them on a hard drive. This covered the photographer’s time to do a minor edit of the files and deliver them to the client.

Miles, Parking, Meals, Misc: I included a few hundred dollars just to cover any minor unforeseen additional expenses on the shoot day.

Feedback: While the client wanted their original budget to include the design work, they were willing to seek out a designer and come up with a separate budget for that. The only other feedback they provided was that the photographer had to sign a work made for hire agreement, which was not originally discussed despite clearly stating the requested usage in the estimate and defining the language in our terms and conditions agreement. After I explained the differences between the licensing in our estimate and their work made for hire contract, the label asked to see a revised estimate showing fees based on their requirements. Given the fact that we were already a bit over their budget (and the fact they’d still need to pay for the design work separately) I knew we probably couldn’t push the price up that much. After a series of phone calls and candid discussions about their budget, we ultimately presented this final estimate:

estimate_terms_wmfhClick to enlarge 

Results: The photographer was awarded the project, and the images will be featured on the band’s upcoming album. Here is the contract they presented:

WORK-FOR-HIRE-2013_original_Redacted-1Click to enlarge 

We were able to tweak the terms of this contract to be more in line with our terms/conditions, specifically in regards to turnaround time, payment, indemnification, and the fact that the fees were a good faith estimate and that actual time and expenses would ultimately be invoiced. Lastly, I revised their contract to say that they would need to register the images with the US copyright office, rather than the photographer doing this (which should be part of every photographer’s workflow).

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns.

 

This Week In Photography Books: Tomoki Imai

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

 

I almost wrote about a different book today. I thought about it, but decided not to. The putative subject was an area in Central Asia dominated by countries that end in “stan.” Flipping through the pages, I was taken by the generic-ness of it all.

People don’t like it when I use this space to be critical. For book reviews, I’ve learned to keep the gloves on. (And take the brass knuckles off.) So I chose not to write about that book, even though it was interesting, in the manner in which it looked like so many other projects I’ve seen before.

If you look at photo books (partly) for a living, eventually you’ll see just about every place on Earth. That I’m doing this in one of the more remote locations in the US is at least a little bit ironic. I look out my window, and I see horses, hills and mountains. I look down into the illusionistic space of a book, and I can tell that Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are more than a little similar.

So when I opened up “Semicircle Law,” a new book by Tomoki Imai, (published by M.27,) that was my state of mind. The desire to suss out a locale, as quickly as I can, is something of a game these days. Given the artist’s name, my first thought, obviously, was Japan.

But there was no way to know for sure. The mountainscapes were as generic as landscapes can be. No Himalayas, these. The scrubby jutting land could be anywhere. Keep turning the pages, and no real hints emerge. When the snow comes, I feel better about the obvious guess: Japan. I close my eyes and see the snow monkeys sitting in their natural hot springs.

Are we in Hokkaido? That is my guess, now. And then I wonder if people ever get into the springs with the monkeys. Can’t you just imagine some dumb tourist getting his willy torn off by a savage monkey? That would be horrible.

Eventually, the pictures stop. Your guess is as good as mine. And then the text starts. The very first page, post-photos, shows a map of the area surrounding the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. BOOM. We’re going there.

Yes, this is one of those books that doesn’t tell you what the f-ck is going on until the end. An essay by Charlotte Cotton divulges the details. The photographer repeatedly penetrated the 20km forbidden zone set up around the disaster site. Not unlike the better known Trevor Paglen, he skulked into the hills to bring back secret photos for the rest of us. (And likely braved some serious radiation. Crazy bastard.)

So this book becomes a bit like a new-fangled version of “The Usual Suspects.” You can’t know what’s going on until you do. And then it changes everything about your perceptions of what you just saw. The two written pieces focus on the brilliance of the post-post-post modern, post-human nature of the project. It’s genius, they imply.

I’m not sure I agree. The pictures are graceful, but boring, in a way, and meant to be. It’s a smart project, and perhaps an important one. But to me, it says more about our own expectations of the drama linked to disaster. Banality is probably a better way to go about telling these stories. Because those of us who live in safe places would likely be shocked at how commonplace horror can become.

Bottom Line: A very smart, brave, and probably dangerous project

To Purchase “Semicircle Law” 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: Will Adler

- - Photographers

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 Photo Editor: I nominate Will Adler. His take on the surfing lifestyle/man on wave is unusual in our world here of surf photography.

This is Katie, who I’ve shot a lot. We were in Maui, and I have always wanted to shoot nudes up at the Haliakala crater. What you can’t tell from this picture is how cold it is up there- she was a very good sport about it.

This is from a series I shot at Waikiki Beach in Oahu. I love shooting at crowded beaches- there is so much going on.

This is a pair I did for an art show last year. I really like to find images that play off each other, it can totally change the way an image works.

These are my friends Eric and Jenny, who I shoot and travel with often. This shot was taken on a remote Island, which we sailed to. It has the most amazing beaches, with not a soul around. Anytime I get the chance to go here I jump on it.

This was from a Roxy swimwear campaign. We spent a week near Cabo San Lucas, surfing and hanging out on the beach. Not a bad work situation.

Both these photos are from a series I did called Bamboozled, which was published by Kaugummi books (now Shelter Press) in 2010. The photo on the left was also used by Hixept for their t shirt series. The photo on the right is my brother. Whenever I need a stunt man, he is the first person I go to- he’s willing to launch himself off almost anything.

This is photographer/director Dewey Nicks. It was taken for Apolis Apparel, who I work with quite a bit. This was a fun collaboration all around.

The photo on the right is from a Simple Shoes photo shoot. It was a fun shoot because most of the models were my friends. We basically cruised around, doing what we normally do. Nothing was forced, it made for a very natural series.

This is Tori. She is a great model and also makes some pretty impressive head-dresses and costumes; a good girl to know if you’re a photographer.

The photo on the right was for Surfer Magazine. They called me saying they needed a portrait of Dane Reynolds, but he was leaving in an hour to go on a surf trip. So, I grabbed my camera and hopped in the car. I only had about 15 minutes to take some photos. It’s always fun to have things like this happen- it keeps you on your toes.

This was taken while I was surfing at Rincon. I have a small waterproof camera that I tuck inside my wetsuit. It’s my way of multi-tasking work and pleasure.

The photo on the left is Randy. He is always styled out in the most ridiculous outfits, hanging out at the beach. Here he is surfing in his 1980’s shades, with zinc on his nose and cut off jean shorts. Not to mention he’s on a 12’ board. The photo on the right was shot for Roxy in San Clemente. This was the first big job I had, and was a pretty ideal way to start.

How many years have you been in business?

I’ve been shooting for 8 years but only working in a professional way for the past 3.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?

I’m self-taught—I didn’t study photography in school—but that’s not to say I haven’t learned a lot from all kinds of people along the way, most notably, Bruce Weber; assisting him, watching him work up close, has been invaluable.

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

My influences, in addition to Bruce, are all over the map: from Stephen Shore, Henry Wessel, William Eggleston, and Wolfgang Tillmans to Masao Yamamoto. But one person who’s really inspired me from the very beginning is my uncle, Tom Alder. He’s a celebrated art director, publisher, and designer deeply rooted in surf culture. I’m a surfer myself, so when I started taking photos surf culture was the direction I naturally pointed my camera; and that became my entrance to the business side of photography. But Tom was there from the beginning.

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 always try to pay attention to ideas that pop into my head without deliberation, even when they may seem somewhat insignificant. Those are often the ideas that surprise you and wind up having enduring power. But nothing is more important than actively shooting every week (if not every day). I love looking for new subjects and locations. I get most of my inspiration from my surroundings, and I try to keep my surroundings a little outside of the normal.

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

Every situation is different, but generally speaking I’ve been very fortunate to work with great people. Something that I learned from assisting is how important a good crew can be when it comes to getting work done. If everyone is into it and enjoying themselves, it really doesn’t feel like work at all. But when you’re in a situation where you feel limited, I think it’s important to voice your opinion while at the same time remaining open to other people’s ideas—because in the end, commercial work really is a collaborative process.

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

There are so many good ways to get your work out there these days, all of them totally viable and legitimate. I think the important thing is to choose an approach that feels natural and not forced in any way. But personally, I continue to believe in the tangible print over the digital screen. (I realize this exchange and my images are being published online! Thank you, APE.) Printing has always been an important part of my practice, and I think that in our digital age it’s something that gets overlooked by a lot of young photographers. I also think there’s no substitute for meeting with editors and art buyers in person. And having an inspired rep. I recently signed up with Massif Management, which has been incredible. Massif has opened up doors that probably wouldn’t have opened for me otherwise.

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

Believe in your work, and pay close attention to how you present it.

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

Whether it’s for a client or myself, I’m always taking photos that interest me. I try to be mindful of the importance of unconscious inspiration and let things come together.

How often are you shooting new work?

I try and shoot something every week, as well as review my work. Editing is a very important, if unglamorous, part of my practice.

Will Adler’s seemingly off-the-cuff photographs—typically of friends at play—betray a poignancy that can be hard to reconcile with their breezy surfaces. His photographs have appeared in Juxtapoz, Neon, Surfer, The Surfers Journal, WAX, The New Yorker, Rankin’s Hunger TV, and Paper; commercial clients include Quiksilver, Patagonia, Nike, and Hixsept. His newsprint folio “Bummerland” was recently republished in a second, limited edition by Fourteen-Nineteen books. Will lives in Santa Barbara, California. He is represented by Massif Management [http://massifmanagement.com].

Will Adler
Willadler.com
wadler@me.com

Massif Management
http://massifmanagement.com
jonathan@massifmanagement.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.

 

The Weekly Edit
UCLA Magazine: Charlie Hess & Tierney Gearon for UCLA Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

UCLA Magazine

Design Director: Charlie Hess
Photographer: Tierney Gearon

Heidi: When and how did you first start working with Tierney?

Charlie: Initially I fell in love with Tierney’s video project for the New York Times Magazine, called “Wide Awake.” She made these dreamscapes with thirteen top actresses. I’d never seen anything quite like them — her way of seeing and her intimacy with the actresses were beautiful and original.

Meanwhile I had started running these semiannual events for the Society of Publication Designers called “Unsung Heroes of the American West,” where we celebrate California photographers, illustrators and designers This particular event was on artists who had worked primarily in stills and were now making interesting work with moving images. I knew I definitely wanted Tierney to be a part of it, and got a mutual friend to introduce us. We hit it off right away. I could only show two of the thirteen videos, and when I told her my two choices, she got a bit emotional. Turned out I’d picked her two favorites! I knew then that we were simpatico.

Were you surprised when she agreed to work with you? What was your first assignment together?

I was blown away. I art direct these small circulation alumni and institutional magazines. And my budgets don’t exactly compete with Vanity Fair! But I’ve also learned that if you offer artists interesting subjects and plenty of freedom, they’ll usually say yes if you can keep the assignment and logistics simple. Great artists want to make great work, regardless of the budget, as long as you take care of them.

Originally I asked Tierney to shoot a portrait of a costume designer. The shoot was to be local, all natural light, and an interesting, creative person. Perfect for Tierney. I was thrilled that she agreed. But then, unexpectedly, the shoot got cancelled last minute. I was devastated. But, after sleeping on it, I remembered that I had a much better feature shoot available — the story of an institute at UCLA law school that educates and advocates for LGBT rights. Intuitively I just knew that it was perfect for her.

Tierney agreed without a second thought. The concept I gave her was to shoot people that were positively affected by the work of the Williams Institute. The portraits were to be intimate, human stories of real people fighting ignorance and discrimination. We shot a lovely gay male couple, a deeply committed lesbian couple and two people transitioning to become women. The subjects were all wonderful and appreciative, and Tierney was her charming, engaged self.
The key to the success of the assignment was limiting it mostly to one day, and creating a schedule that gave her the time she needed with each subject. It’s not the sexiest part of a photo shoot, but it’s all the pre-planning and logistics that allowed Tierney to do her thing. We made it as easy as possible for her to be able to do her best work.

What are the ingredients that make Tierney the perfect hire, meaning what is on your mental check list of things you’d like to see happen in the work?

Tierney is the most intuitive photographer that I’ve ever worked with. She doesn’t plan. She doesn’t light. She just shows up, engages with the subjects, and looks for the location and the available light. More than any other photographer I know she trusts her instincts and has confidence she can pull it off. It’s a wonderfully loose and organic process. And I think that’s the secret to her success. That’s exactly what I wanted from this assignment — portraits of people’s dignity and humanity, without artifice. In the magazine spreads here you can decide if we succeeded.


Tierney Gearon: Photographer and Director

Heidi: You can shoot for any magazine you’d like. What drew you to the UCLA Magazine assignment?

Tierney: Who wouldn’t want to shoot a transgender story? I was fascinated by the idea, and we had so much fun doing it. I am always open to new opportunities and I love to work in ways or fields that are not so obvious. UCLA Magazine has current, interesting, fun projects! I am up for anything if it is interesting, challenging or fun.  I am not a person that likes to say: No.

How did you approach this particular shoot for UCLA and what were you trying to draw out of the couples? What was the biggest challenge, if any, to get the images you wanted?

Like all my jobs, I focus on the subjects. I try to connect with them as much as possible — to make them feel comfortable and have fun. This way I get more than expected out of the experience.
I see from your blog that you’re interested in tie dye. How did photography inform that process? Did the tie dye come as a result of your shape color show?

I have been tie dying for years now. It’s actually something I do to relax, especially after a very stressful period of work. I love it. All my friends love it too. It’s a way of sharing myself with my friends. I call it:  “Givable Art. ” Being creative just feels so good, it’s incredibly healing.  I do it where ever I am.  I have recently started selling my T’s, as so many people asked me if they could buy them — its been a really fun process; for friends and children. it brings people together. This summer we did tye dying in Santa Monica, Lakeville CT, The Cotswolds in England, Nantucket, and Mustique.
Can you tell us a little about the alphabet book? Did you shoot your family and friends children and what drove you to create this book?

It’s out in October, and it looks fantastic. Its been almost 4 years in the making!  Yes its a book for my children, a friend and family collaboration.  The initial idea came from a friend who was going through a divorce and needed to make some money. I suggested making a children’s ABC book. She and I had one meeting and then she moved on to something else. My next book project had launched and over the next 3 to 4 years I was working away on the shape, color, images and the alphabet book. It comes out in October with Damiani and it will be featured on my website!

 


John Gossage Interview – Part 2

- - Photographers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JG: Unfortunately, yes.

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

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

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

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

JB: A box?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JB: (laughing)

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

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

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

JG: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JG: Exactly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JG: I like that.

JB: No one says I don’t work hard.

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

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

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

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

JG: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

JB: Agreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JG: Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s about it for now.

JB: Thank you.

Italy, 2011

Italy, 2011

Italy, 2011

 

John Gossage Interview – Part 1

- - Photographers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JB: Sure.

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

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

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

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

JB: What was the gist?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JB: Indeed. He owns it.

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

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

Most of the time I dropped the ball.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five years out of school, it was 13%.

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

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

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

Where do people go wrong?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

People just come up in spite of all this stuff.

[Part 2 Tomorrow]

Canon city CO 2013

Canon City Fires 2013

Trinidad, CO 2013

Young Artists Syracuse NY 2012

Young Artist Syracuse, NY 2012

This Week In Photography Books: Guillaume Simoneau

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Purchase “Love and War” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

 

Art Producers Speak: Mathew Scott

- - Art Producers Speak

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

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Mathew Scott with Hello Artist.  He is brilliant and has worked with us on several projects.

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

Sonia Boyjian, photographed for Russian Vogue

Toro y Moi, photographed for Nylon

Seu Jorge, photographed for Now and Again Record.

Adam "Doseone" Drucker, photographed for Anticon Records

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

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

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

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

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

From a shoot in San Francisco featuring Wildfox swimwear.

How many years have you been in business?

I have been shooting for about 6 years now.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?

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

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

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

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How often are you shooting new work?

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

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

www.mathewscott.com

represented by Hello Artists-  www.helloartists.com

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

Working In China

- - Working

Guest post by Shannon Fagan

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

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

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

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

That’s the short take.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Weekly Edit
Michael Muller Shark Portraits II

- - The Daily Edit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What made you bring a Gary Baseman Chew toy?

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

Photographs of Michael by: LELAND HAYWARD

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


What is a shark shield?

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


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

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

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

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