Expert Advice: Emailers & Print Mailers

by Joey Pasko, Wonderful Machine

All photographers should have a variety of promotional tools in their arsenal to help garner clients and bring attention to their work. Among these tools are email promotions and ever-popular print mailer promotions. If used correctly, both can help bring in a lot of new business and keep your name on the radar of your existing clients. However, it’s important to know the difference between email promotions and print promotions.

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An email promotion may seem like a cheap and easy method to get your name out there, but by no means should it be your sole marketing effort. In fact, the best way for photographers to promote themselves is by using both print and email promotional tools very strategically and specifically. Email promotions are a good way to send a large group of clients a quick reminder to check out your website and your new work. If you use the email analytics to see who actually opened the email and clicked to your website, you can create an even more tailored and effective list of clients to send a memorable print mailer to. Think of it this way: your email promotion should go out to a large general list of clients, and your print mailer should go out to a targeted and tailored list of clients.

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Print mailers are a great way to give a potential client something tactile and cool to constantly remind them that you’re the person to hire. But how do you make your mailer stand out? It’s easy to fall into the trap of a typical postcard. Many photographers would say anything more is a gimmick, but remember that your clients receive lots and lots of postcards from great photographers all the time. “Letting the photo speak for itself” sometimes isn’t enough to push your work above all the other promos hanging on the bulletin board.

The solution is to embrace the medium and create something that stands out. Utilizing modern design and printing techniques can help make your promo the most unique one in the crowd.

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At WM, we typically advise photographers to go one of two ways with print promos. The first option is to create a promo that is beyond just a postcard. By elevating the piece beyond the norm, you automatically are guaranteeing that what you send out will stand out amongst other print mailers. A great example of this would be Nashville photographer Josh Anderson’s printed promo. Rather than a single image, Josh added interest by utilizing a printing technique called foil stamping. His print promos included a hand printed board and buttons for the recipient to keep. These small additions to the concept turned what might have otherwise been a simple and forgettable card into a packet that feels more like a gift than anything else.

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Two printing options that people must also consider are digital printing versus offset printing. Digital printing applies ink to a page using a digital printer and offset printing applies ink to a page using metal plates and rollers. There are pros and cons to both. While you can get good digital print quality using a digital printer, offset printing’s quality is superior and has better color matching. Digital prints are far cheaper and better for small batches of prints, while offset is better for larger batches due to its higher set-up price for creating plates. However, unlike digital, offset printing gives you far more options of paper. Offset printing allows you to print on thicker paper, rougher paper and all sorts of specialty papers. It’s important to decide which of these methods will best suit your print mailer campaign. This designer’s humble opinion: while digital can be cheap and easy, offset printing is truly the way to show off photography.

There are a number of other printing techniques that can also be used to elevate a project! Here are some that could easily make your print promo stand out amongst the crowd:

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Letterpress: Letterpress printing is just that — pressing ink (traditionally type) into paper. Letterpress printing has been around since the 1400s, and with the more recent advancement of using photopolymer plates instead of traditional wood type, there are even more possibilities in this print method. With photopolymer plates, much more detail can be achieved. Nowadays, letterpress is prized for the deep impression that can be achieved when the ink is pressed into the paper, and offers really tactile and beautiful results. Whenever I’m given anything letterpressed, I’m more inclined to keep it.

Foil Stamping: Similar to letterpress, a foil press is used to apply foil to paper. Most popular are metallic foils applied to the print, giving an eye-catching and shiny appearance to specific elements on the page.

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Laser-cutting: Laser-cutting is a technique where machines are used to burn intricate designs into or even through various materials. From paper to metal to wood, the results can be dramatic. This technique can transform a simple mailer into something that gives depth and elegance to your work.

For advice or assistance with your own print or electronic promotions, contact us through our Consulting page.

This Week In Photography Books: Jason Nocito

by Jonathan Blaustein

I awoke this morning, before 6, to a bright pink sky. It wasn’t pink like my daughter’s sun hat; more electric, day-glo pink, like a patch of cloth on my Obermeyer ski jacket back in the 80′s.

As I gazed upon its magnificence, I noticed three huge ravens just outside the window, not 10 feet from where I stood. They began to bark at me; it wasn’t squawking. (You’ll have to trust me.) Their bodies shook in fury, and the sound emanating from their beaks were absolutely barks.

Shockingly, the next second, two strange dogs appeared, scaring the ravens away. The dogs, nominally barkers, were totally silent. They trotted away into the field, towards the horses, who we’d more reasonably expect to trot.

Words are funny things. Embedded in language, with its rules and structure, they maintain a consistent power. But unleashed, as they have been in our oddly-futuristic times, and there’s no telling what they might mean. Or how they might be misused.

(OMG. R U for realz? Propr word use is for squarz, man.)

Just think of curses. I occasionally write for another publication, where I can never, ever use the word fuck. I could, however, say copulate, fornicate, or engage in sexual congress. Which all mean the same thing. So what the f-ck is the difference, I ask you?

Sometimes, the original meaning for a “bad” word is so antiquated that it falls off the face of the Earth. For example, when I was young, my mother hated when I said “scumbag.” In Jersey, that meant a slimy person of low repute. To her, it meant condom, or a bag for scum.

She didn’t mind the word condom, of course, just its less-classy euphemism. Why? I still haven’t a clue. Maybe she’ll enlighten us in the comment section.

Another 20th Century epithet was “pudwacker.” I just thought it meant doofus, or jerk. But “pud” is a synonym for johnson, or member, or dick, or penis. So a “pudwacker” is actually a masturbator.

Was Jason Nocito, the artist behind “pud,” a new book published by Dashwood, aware of this? I guess so, but I have no idea. The book lacks any text at all, save for the title/thank you page at the end. (Or paragraph of gratitude. In which he thanks the New York Knicks, which I’ve never seen before.)

The book is orange and blue, (OK, just got the Knicks reference,) and opens up to some grooved, textured paper. Which kind of stuck to the first page the initial time I thumbed through. This was helpful, because the photo I saw immediately thereafter was a puddle. Most of the photos inside, in fact, are of puddles strewn with spent cigarettes and spilt oil.

Is pud short for puddle? Again, I have no idea. But the puddle pictures are the epitome of anti-aesthetic, and I loved them. (Or ugly beauty, if you will.) The colors in the reflected oil are luminous, like the aforementioned pink sky. The pictures appear to have been made with a really-good-medium-format-digital camera, as they’re super-hi-res looking. (Or hyperreal, if you prefer.)

There are a few photos that are definitely not of puddles, like a section of the hood of an old pink Camaro from the 80′s. So does pud mean puddle, only the artist was too insouciant, or devil-may-care, to make a book entirely of puddles? Je ne sais pas.

So I went back and looked again, trying to figure it out. This time, I noticed that the first picture is actually of some wilting flowers. Not puddles, and not “puds.” (It won’t fit, no matter how hard you try to force it, so just go with it.)

We’ll have to chalk this up to a hipster artist, prowling the Lower East Side, finding beauty in the least obvious places. And then being too “ironic” to admit it, so it’s couched in mystery. (Or enigma, if you will.)

When I picked the book up a third time, I grabbed it upside down. I noticed that the cover could also be read as “pnd”. Does that mean anything to you?

Bottom Line: Really beautiful photos of ugly and/or random stuff

To Purchase “pud” Visit Photo-Eye

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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: Misha Taylor

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 Misha Taylor. He is probably my favorite my favorite, he has an incredible eye and always perfectly captures that specific mood in his photos.

I love these images of Jamie Foxx, these are outtakes from ad campaign we did together. He is the ultimate entertainer, it didn't just start when the camera was on him either. He sang and danced and ruled the room. These images really tell that story to me.

I love these images of Jamie Foxx, these are outtakes from ad campaign we did together. He is the ultimate entertainer, it didn’t just start when the camera was on him either. He sang and danced and ruled the room. These images really tell that story to me.

I was asked to conceptualize and shoot the Kisua Campaign, I really wanted to do something contemporary and pop yet still African.. I love how the image comes to life. Its almost a still life, but somehow really jumps around the page.

I was asked to conceptualize and shoot the Kisua Campaign, I really wanted to do something contemporary and pop yet still African.. I love how the image comes to life. Its almost a still life, but somehow really jumps around the page.

This is one of my favorite images, I find the similarities between his face and Johannesburg cityscape really moving. His eyes and scarred face tells the story of the beauty, pain, struggle, and resilience of the still young S. Africa. something about it really gives me hope.

This is one of my favorite images, I find the similarities between his face and Johannesburg cityscape really moving. His eyes and scarred face tells the story of the beauty, pain, struggle, and resilience of the still young S. Africa. something about it really gives me hope.

the way the ice-cream drips through his fingers give the picture a strange desperation, yet reminds me of slow summer days. There is something magical about that parallel that really draws me in.

the way the ice-cream drips through his fingers give the picture a strange desperation, yet reminds me of slow summer days. There is something magical about that parallel that really draws me in.

This was one of the most fun shoot I have ever done, I got a good number of my friends together for an underwear special for Selfridges.  I love this moment, it reminds me of that reckless abandon of long summer days. My friends and I sneaking into pools that weren't ours, jumping off roofs, basically being a kid.

This was one of the most fun shoot I have ever done, I got a good number of my friends together for an underwear special for Selfridges. I love this moment, it reminds me of that reckless abandon of long summer days. My friends and I sneaking into pools that weren’t ours, jumping off roofs, basically being a kid.

This image of Diane Pernet was taking in Paris. She is one of that last  true eccentric fashion icons and working with people like her make portraiture such an incredible experience. I love that you can almost see her eyes, but cant quite see where she is looking.

This image of Diane Pernet was taking in Paris. She is one of that last true eccentric fashion icons and working with people like her make portraiture such an incredible experience. I love that you can almost see her eyes, but cant quite see where she is looking.

This image was featured on Nowness and was taken on the pan African Rovos rail. I love the starkness of the Karoo as it glides by behind her, and how she bisects it in quite a violent way. I find this image quite jarring in the end, even though at first glance its so peaceful

This image was featured on Nowness and was taken on the pan African Rovos rail. I love the starkness of the Karoo as it glides by behind her, and how she bisects it in quite a violent way. I find this image quite jarring in the end, even though at first glance its so peaceful

This image has such a wonderful stillness, I almost find myself holding my breath when I look over it, I never really find peace as far as a place to settle my eyes. I love when pictures have have little lives of their own.

This image has such a wonderful stillness, I almost find myself holding my breath when I look over it, I never really find peace as far as a place to settle my eyes. I love when pictures have have little lives of their own.

These two images were taken in Johannesburg, I cant help but feel that I am in the middle of them as they look at each other.

These two images were taken in Johannesburg, I cant help but feel that I am in the middle of them as they look at each other.

This was taken in Paris, the intensity of the photo is odd  as I find it quite weightless. They seem to counter balance each other. Its beautiful but as their faces come together quite bizarre as well. I really enjoy all these little permutations

This was taken in Paris, the intensity of the photo is odd as I find it quite weightless. They seem to counter balance each other. Its beautiful but as their faces come together quite bizarre as well. I really enjoy all these little permutations

This is one of my favorite places in the world, fitting to its' name; "Natures Valley".  A giant indian ocean on one side and this view inland up the river on the other. The air there has a weight to it. I was really pleased with this image as I can feel that weight when I look at it.

This is one of my favorite places in the world, fitting to its’ name; “Natures Valley”. A giant indian ocean on one side and this view inland up the river on the other. The air there has a weight to it. I was really pleased with this image as I can feel that weight when I look at it.

How many years have you been in business?
This question is a little different for me as some of my earliest memories are from film sets, my father, and award winning director and photographer used to let me look through the lens or operate the camera before I was even a teenager. He also had his crews work me to the absolute bone as soon as I was old enough to hold my own. I worked 22-hour days fetching water and carrying stands. Driving Trucks, writing treatments, setting up lights and loading cameras. But I suppose the question you are after is as far as me being in creative control, to be safe lets say 8 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I learned on the sets of my father and his friends, I tried taking a few classes in university but realized quickly that technically speaking what you learn through work experience and life far surpasses what you learn at school. Something also has to be said from seeing how the best in the world operate creatively, how they deal with clients, and how they stay true to their vision. However as far as theory goes, school was invaluable.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
First and foremost my parents, both artists filled our lives with art and travel. These memories dance their way through almost all of my creative process. Sitting on the front of small rubber boat in the deep Okovango delta and being charged by a giant bull elephant to beautiful girls in a studio.

When there wasn’t an adventure we made our own, seeing so many things allowed for me to see the world through my own lens. I was given the chance to allow my imagination to run wild, and this business gave me the incentive to want to tell stories beyond our day-to-day lives.

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 really try to live my pictures, I try to see myself in my work, the wonderful and the mundane the challenging, the obscure, the loss the gain. We all share a common emotive process, and I hope that what brings my imagination to life will have the same effect on others.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Part of the process is reinvention to make old ideas new, to make bad ideas good, to make complex ideas simple. Of course there are moments in the bureaucracy of this business where the opposite seems to destine to happen, good ideas turn bad, the simple becomes complicated. In the end the fight for what we as creatives believe to be the best execution is best done with the image itself.

To show this image and let the story be right rather than the artist. However there are always the few that need convincing beyond the image, and this is as much an art as the work itself.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I personally believe my work is better off for me concentrating on the art itself, rather than the propaganda and PR. Just to keep making art to keep shooting and experiencing and the reach of that is unmeasurable.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Some people are better at this than others, if done correctly I think someone could do quite well. But in the end to live and love your work, you must do what it is that you want, and produce what it is you want to see.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
It’s important to constantly want to tell stories, even if this is done by other means than photography. To keep new ideas rolling off your tongue or your pen or out of your camera.

How often are you shooting new work?
This question is a bit convoluted, as we seem to be measured in quantity so often. I work everyday, and take a picture everyday. But I suppose I can only roll out new projects when they are finished. This can take less than a week from the birth of an idea to full realization. And there are other projects that I feel I will be working on forever.

But as I see an absolutely binding bond between work and life. I feel like I am working even when I am walking through town or lying watching the rain.

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I was Born in Cape Town, South Africa, in the early 80’s, My Parents both Artists did their best to distract my sister and myself from the Politics at the time by taking us to the people, to the country, to what was real in a place plagued by misunderstanding and misinformation. We traveled feverishly, by all means and to some of the most remote and wonderful places in the world. Before my father’s career took us to the United States, they would pack us and our yellow dog in the back of our Landrover and drive for weeks on end.

When we moved to Los Angeles, in 1989 our lives changed somewhat. But our lust for adventure didn’t. They would pull us out of school and proclaim a fly-fishing trips to Montana or hikes through Monument Valley.

School in the United States was, incredible. I was able to be exactly who I was, and who I wanted to be. I grasped onto the contagious American mindset that allowed you to pursue your dreams and I was off.

I left California in 2000 and began my travels home and beyond. I wanted to see how much of my childhood imagination had painted of memories of Africa, I was desperate to be part of the new hope and new democracy. I fell in love with Africa all over again. And was able to see my life there through balanced eyes,

My love for travel however soon pushed me on my way. I wanted to live Italy and walk through the ruins of the Roman Empire, to live in France and read and drink wine in the same bars as my literary heroes. To Dance in the famous techno clubs of Berlin and ride bicycles down massively wide streets.

I did all this and more, everyday I wake up wanting to keep living, to keep watching all the serendipitous fortunes the world has to offer. I am quite young but have lived a life full to the brim. This is why I feel comfortable telling stories. Because I have so many to tell and the world has so many more to give us.

Check out more of Misha’s work www.assignmentagency.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.

Focus on Your Business with Judy Herrmann & Richard Kelly

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I’ve known Richard Kelly and Judy Herrmann for several years now through the ASMP and different panels and events I’ve been a part of, so when I heard from Richard that they were launching a new educational series for photographers I was intrigued. I think they are both excellent people, so I simply asked them to tell us all about it and you can decide if it’s something you want to check out.

Can you give me a little background on yourself and Judy?
We’re both working photographers and experienced educators. Judy and her partner, Mike Starke, run Herrmann + Starke in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. In 1994, as early adopters of digital photography, they recognized the business opportunities and competitive advantages of the technology. Frustrated by the lack of available information for photographers making that transition, they took it upon themselves to educate the professional community about digital photography and business practices. Since then, Judy has given literally hundreds of seminars on professional business practices for photographers. In fact, we met when Richard attended Working Digitally, a day-long workshop Judy & Mike presented in Pittsburgh on his 40th birthday.

Richard’s photography practice started in New York City, assisting and producing for fashion photographers. He began shooting front of the book for some major magazines and eventually relocated to Pittsburgh, where he realized how much he didn’t understand about business. He joined the local ASMP chapter and, with the help of some great mentors, began learning on the job. Not content to keep what he learned to himself, Richard began giving seminars and teaching at Pittsburgh Filmmakers where he helps students master both the craft and the business of photography. You can see his work at RichardKelly.com.

In the early 1990’s, we each separately attended an ASMP weekend workshop called Strictly Business, where we were both struck by concept of photographers helping photographers. We share a strong desire to use the challenges we’ve overcome and the hard-won knowledge we’ve gained to make the road easier for others to follow. It’s no surprise that we both became chapter leaders and later national ASMP presidents. Our experiences in our own businesses and in leadership roles at ASMP have given us a strong understanding of the variety of paths that can lead to professional success and the need for constant adaptation and evolution as creative entrepreneurs.

Through your involvement with ASMP and different panels and presentations to photographers groups you’ve seen the industry change quite a bit. What’s different today from when you started?
There are so many changes, it would be hard to list them all. Many of them, though, can be traced back to changes in how photography is created and viewed. On the craft side, the learning curve is not as steep and the tools are less expensive, so far more people are taking photographs than ever before. This is great and has led to a fantastic creative renaissance, but it also means that much of the bread and butter work that was profitable for professionals has gone away.

When people do hire professionals today, it’s often for very different reasons than in the past. When we were starting out, mastering the gear – knowing how to use a 4×5 camera or professional strobes – was enough of a differentiator to earn a living wage. Since everyone now has access to affordable tools that allow them to take technically perfect photographs, professionals have to bring a lot more to the table. It’s not enough to create great photographs – to have honed your craft and mastered the tools of your trade – that’s just the cost of entry. Today, more then ever, your understanding of all the complex elements that form the business side of the business matter more than ever before.

The connectivity that we all now have is awesome and also creates a radically different environment for the professional. We can see so many wonderful projects that people are creating – not just locally but all over the globe. For the first time in history, professional photographers have the opportunity to build and connect directly with vast audiences without going through a publisher or really any gatekeeper at all. That was not possible even 15 years ago. This new accessibility to the tools of production and distribution place us smack in the infancy of a new age of enlightenment for photography and it will be very exciting to see where it goes.

Tell us about the online series you’re launching?
Richard has been teaching at Pittsburgh Filmmakers the past nine years and every year, sees what he calls the two week rule kick in: about two weeks after students graduate from their photo programs, he starts to get the panicked calls from students wanting to know what they should do next. Many of these students had wonderful educational programs but for the first time in four years they don’t have an assignment. They know they should be doing something, but what?

We’ve both given countless seminars on business, marketing, copyright, licensing, releases, pricing, etc. and have seen first-hand that students and emerging photographers are not the only ones struggling with business practices. We’ve met hundreds of mid-career photographers with “gaps” in their practices that are really holding them back.

For several years, we’ve talked about running some kind of intensive bootcamp but presenting an in-person program that’s accessible to people all over the country was just too cost-prohibitive. So we’re taking advantage of digital technologies to build a modular series of e-learning courses that will guide the emerging photographer through the process of building their careers, while also filling the gaps for those who’ve already started down the path and don’t want to reinvent every single wheel themselves.

The series will allow us to share everything we’ve learned about starting, growing, running and reinventing a photography career – not just our own experiences but also everything we’ve learned from the thousands of photographers who’ve shared their stories with us over the years. Instead of locking our audience into a linear path, the modular structure will let them pick and choose which topics are the best investment for them.

We’re kicking off the series at 2:00 pm eastern, Thursday, June 26 with a free 60 minute introductory class called What You Really Need to Know. It provides a soup to nuts overview of everything professional photographers need to understand to build a successful business. Registration is open at http://asmp.adobeconnect.com/e29xfy2u5y7/event/registration.html and all registrants will get free access to the recording.

Our first module, Launching Your Career, runs from July 10 – 24. Designed for students, recent graduates or anyone transitioning into the field, it provides an in-depth understanding of the nuts and bolts of starting and running your own business. Registration is open at http://focusonyourbusiness.eventbrite.com/?aff=1a0

APhotoEditor.com readers can save $40 by registering here or entering the promo code APFgo at the main registration site [APE does not receive any kind of commission for this].

How does your program differ from others photographers may be considering?
From a philosophical standpoint, the big difference is that neither of us believes that there’s a one-size-fits-all formula for how to build a successful photography career. We’re not saying, “Do what I do” or selling a non-existent magic bullet. Instead, we’re providing a toolkit – we’re sharing information and insights we’ve gained from a wide range of sources along with a framework for thinking about your business that will help people figure out what’s going to give them the best outcomes no matter what their goals are or the challenges they encounter.

We’ve also designed a unique format. Not only does our modular approach allow registrants to choose the topics they want but each module includes lectures, readings, exercises and live online office hours where we log into the e-learning platform with our students to take questions and discuss whatever they’re struggling with. The lectures provide insights and information. The readings deepen your understanding. The exercises personalize the information and foster deeper thinking. But it’s the Office Hours – where we’re interacting with our students and providing real time answers after they’ve had a chance to process and apply the information – that really set us apart.

Does the future of photography look bright to you? What can emerging photographers expect?
We are absolutely living through a new golden age for photography; the accessibility of capture tools and editing software plus the ease of getting your work out into the world has heralded a creative resurgence that shows no signs of slowing.

For professional photographers, though, the rate of change has created some significant challenges. There used to be clear career paths in this industry – you might become a staffer, a freelancer or start your own studio but if you followed certain steps you were almost guaranteed a decent living. Today, those paths are less clear and there are far fewer guarantees, but as communications become increasingly visual and audiences get more visually sophisticated, we’re seeing some great opportunities moving forward.

There are more collaborative opportunities for creative working together rather than going it alone. Our clients are starting to use photography in new and unique ways – often with the photographer as the lead creative – which allows for exciting new business models. Companies are starting to realize that repurposing print & TV content or taking a “DIY” approach to online and social media uses isn’t effective and are hiring professionals to create work just for these channels. So yes, despite the challenge of learning how to adapt to ongoing change (which is one of the big factors that drove us to create this new series), we see a bright future for professional photographers as well.

That’s not to say it will be easy. Emerging photographers – you need to be prepared to work your ass off. You’ll need a solid work ethic and a fierce commitment to this profession. You’ll need to invest the same time and energy into mastering the business side as you put into mastering your craft. But, if you put some real thought into designing your career, master some basic business practices and learn how to apply your creative problem solving skills to business decisions, we believe you can build a sustainable and satisfying career as a professional photographer.

The Daily Edit – Armando Sanchez – Lucky Peach

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Lucky Peach

Art Director: Walter Green
Associate Designer: Helen Tseng
Writer: Kevin Pang
Photographer: Armando Sanchez

Heidi: How did you get connected with Lucky Peach?
Armando: Kevin Pang, the writer of  “Fixed Menu” is a food critic for the Chicago Tribune. So when Lucky Peach contacted him about the piece, he asked a few photo editors at the Tribune about finding a photographer, and I was lucky enough to be recommended.

How did the work in your  “Incarcerated” portfolio help capture the images from Westville? Is that one of the reasons they came to you?
“Incarcerated” acclimated me to working around inmates. It also helped me develop a small flow to working with the jailers or guards, which is much easier than most people think. But the approach to both shoots was so different. When I was working on the “Incarcerated‚” project, I was really trying to understand how the small spaces and restrictions of prison affect a person’s  well-being. When I was in Westville, my focus was the influence of food played in the lives of inmates and whether or not it had an impact on their long-term outlooks and behavior. I’m not sure if that’s why they selected me for this story but I’m sure it helped.

What sort of direction did you get for the story and were you with the writer?
One of the editors at Lucky Peach told me that this story would focus on the types of foods that inmates can create with ingredients you find in a 7-11, and how those foods contrast with the world outside prison. So I knew what to focus my pictures around. Kevin, the writer, was with me during the entire two-day shoot and he was really great to work with. If I was working a situation or if I saw something that I wanted to stop and photograph, he would always ask if I was ready to move on or if I needed more time to shoot. He never made me feel like I needed to work at his pace, which you don’t always get when working with a writer. Actually, when we were in the maximum security wing while they were serving food, I found myself shooting images that may not have related to the guidelines of the assignment, but were just pictures I wanted to make of the recreation room and medical treatment area. Kevin let me do that and never gave me the impression that I needed to move on.

Did you feel threatened or scared at any time?
Never. Everyone I talked to was basically trying to make the best of a bad situation. Prison is full of routine. It’s the same thing every day, down to the minute. You see the same people, guards, other inmates. So I think anytime you add new people to the routine, it’s almost welcomed. Everyone stares at you and asks you small questions. They were curious about why we were there. Once we told them who we were and what the article was about, everyone wanted to talk.

What struck you about the inmates? Tell me about your interactions with them?
Actually, the only time I felt nervous was when we visited the main kitchen. We were talking to some of the inmates who worked in the kitchen, and one of them told us to go look in the walk-in refrigerator. When we went into the refrigerator, the smell was overwhelming, kind of like an old dirty mop and rotten eggs. I have a pretty strong stomach but I was close to heaving. Anyway, the inmate was trying to show several trays of egg casserole to Kevin. The inmate was basically telling Kevin that the casserole was inedible, but one of the prison employees was defending the casserole and told us it was fine to eat. It got kind of tense, so I quietly stepped away and photographed the egg casserole. That picture actually made it into the layout.

Most of the inmates were extremely receptive and friendly. They seemed interested in what we were doing. They were always polite and willing to share their opinions about the food. Some inmates seemed kind of nervous, but once we started talking to them and asking where they were from, most of them opened up. The only people that we didn’t really talk to were the inmates in maximum security. They were kept in their cells and behind several walls of thick glass and steel doors.

Did you taste the Disciplinary Loaf?
I wish. There was no loaf available. Just finding the recipe was kind of difficult. I got the impression that it wasn’t something that was made very often.

(“Nutraloaf aka Disciplinary Loaf is reserved for offenses such as taking part in a riot or assaulting prison staff.”)

Did you eat anything while you were on location? Did you bring your own food?
I ate the first day during a culinary class. They were serving the kinds of food you would eat at Thanksgiving dinner. The prison had a culinary cooking class that served turkey, mashed potatoes, shrimp cocktail, all prepared by the inmates. It was pretty good. But I never ate the creations the inmates made with food from the commissary. I really wanted to try some, but the inmates save up money to buy the ingredients; Ramen, condensed chicken soup, packaged cheese. I didn’t want to take anything they had saved up for. Other than the Thanksgiving-style meal the first day, I didn’t eat while I was there.

You’re a recent graduate, interned and were published several times in the Chicago Tribune. Tell me about your process for handling those shoots.
It’s been a learning experience. I interned at the Tribune from June 2012 to November 2012. I started freelancing for them immediately after the internship was over, but I had to go back to Kentucky to walk at my graduation ceremony in December. I’ve spent most of my college career interning at newspapers. The Tribune was my last of four internships, and I was pretty sure that I wanted to work for a newspaper when I was done at the Tribune. But after I finished my internship at the Tribune, I found myself in a pretty cool situation where I could immediately start receiving work as a freelancer and still pursue local news, all from the Tribune. From there, I started reaching out to other editorial clients, pursued commercial work and have been trying to teach myself the ins and outs of working as a freelance photographer.

When did you start shooting photos and knew this is what you wanted to do?
I started shooting photos after my mom made me take a photography class while I was a junior in high school. But I knew I wanted to do this when I was a senior in high school. I was watching John Moore present work from Iraq at a high school journalism conference at the University of Texas. He was still with the AP at the time and I was pretty moved by his photos and the team he oversaw that won the Pulitzer. I actually talked to him for so long that I followed him outside until he had to cross the street. After that, I was pretty determined to work on stories I care about.

Pricing & Negotiating: Architectural Images For A TV Commercial

by Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Exterior architectural images of 20 restaurants

Licensing: Use of all images captured in multiple broadcast television commercials

Location: 4 cities on the East Coast

Shoot Days: 7

Photographer: Architectural and portraiture specialist

Agency: Medium-sized, based in the Northeast.

Client: Large restaurant chain

Here is the estimate:

Blinkbid

Creative/Licensing: The ad agency was in the process of creating a series of TV commercials, and wanted to feature still images of the exteriors of their client’s restaurants within the spots. They anticipated that there would be up to five restaurants in each of the four cities where their client had locations, and with an accelerated timeframe for the media placement, they hoped to shoot all 20 locations in one week.

After a call with the art buyer, I approached the creative/licensing fee with the knowledge that while there were 20 locations, that it was most likely that 5 of them would be featured prominently in the videos, and the rest of the locations were options to choose from when compiling the final commercial. I felt that the size of the client, accelerated pace of the project and likely exposure level of the commercials put strong upward pressure on the fee, but the fact that I knew this was a last minute overage on top of the overall budget for the commercial applied a bit of downward pressure. I decided to price each of the first five shots at $5,000 each, then discount the next five locations to $3,000 each, and then further discount the last 10 locations to $1,000 each, which tallies up to $50,000.

After determining the value of the usage, I checked out Getty to see how they may have priced this since it’s not often that I’m asked to price stills for TV. For TV advertising use for three years (which is the longest duration they offer for this use), they priced one image at $4,870, which was nearly right on the nose of what I priced each of the first 5 images. Corbis similarly priced the same use at $4,160. Based on my research and the fact that this was a big project that needed to be completed blazingly fast, I felt that the $50,000 fee was appropriate.

Pre-Production Day: The photographer would require 1 day to pull together all of his travel arrangements and test out a few pieces of special equipment (mainly lenses) he’d need to buy for the shoot. I would typically include travel/scout days, but the rushed schedule broke down in such a way that there would be days when shooting would happen prior to travel on the same day, and I discussed with the art buyer and photographer that it was better to just figure on a week’s worth of shooting (and charge for it accordingly in the creative/licensing fee) and have the photographer shoot and travel on days that worked best for him, rather than specifying a certain number of shoot and travel days.

Equipment: In addition to the special gear he’d need to purchase (which would cost $1,500), I included a fee for the equipment he owned and would be using on the shoot. For these items I anticipated $800/day (including the camera body, lenses, cards and minor grip equipment), and typically estimate that gear rentals for a full week are often rented for the price of three days at most major rental houses.

Lodging, Airfare and Car Rental: One of the locations was local to the photographer, another was a lengthy car ride away, and the other two were plane rides away. We were able to work out a schedule that required five nights of lodging, for which I estimated a rate of $300/night. That’s typically higher than I’d estimate, but the locations were in major cities and would be booked just a day or two before arriving, which would make for expensive reservations. After shooting the local cities, the photographer would be flying to the third city, shooting and then flying to the fouth city, and then flying home after that. I used kayak.com to research flights which ranged from $200-$600. Combined with $60 for each flight to account for checked bags, airfare totaled about $1,400. I then rounded up this number to account for a slight increase on costs should fares increase between the time of estimating and booking. The photographer would only need to rent a car in two of the cities, which tallied up to an estimated rate of about $550 including gas.

Miles, Parking, Meals, Misc: I estimated $50/day for parking for 7 days, $75/day for meals for 7 days, and built in an extra $225 for mileage and other miscellaneous charges/fees throughout the trip.

Post Processing and Delivery of All Images by Hard Drive: The agency would be handling all of the post production, and required a hard drive containing all of the RAW images captured. In addition to the cost of the hard drive and shipment (which I anticipated being about $250), I wanted to make sure the photographer would be paid for his time to organize and manage the transfer of the files (which wasn’t a very difficult process, but it would take a long time).

Results: After submitting the estimate, the art buyer told us they had a budget of $60,000. In an effort to move the project along quickly, the agency asked if the photographer would be willing to take on the project for a flat 60k fee. This meant that the photographer wouldn’t have to compile or submit receipts when invoicing after the shoot, which would have taken a decent amount of time given the travel. Additionally, this meant that any cost savings would go into the photographer’s pocket. For these reasons, he felt the $550 discount was worth it and agreed to the flat fee. He was awarded the project and shot it the following week.

Hindsight: While the scope of the shoot was detailed and fast paced, the photographer was confident that he could accomplish it on his own without an assistant since it would be just him, his camera and a tripod. However, he did ultimately decide to allocate some of the cost savings to hire an assistant as he felt that an extra set of hands was well worth the money to help him move quickly around each city.

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: Richard Renaldi

by Jonathan Blaustein

We talk to strangers all the time, on the Internet. Twitter makes it so easy. Just add someone’s handle to the beginning of a short missive, and they’ll probably read what you have to say. What could be more impersonal?

I did it the other day. Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author of this brilliant article about Reparations, in the current issue of The Atlantic, was taking questions on Twitter. I happened to see the tweet announcing the conversation, so I asked him a question. Why did he focus his investigation on Chicago?

Then I went for a run.

When I got back, I saw that my notifications had blown up. He’d chosen my question as a launching point to explain his motivations. He sent six or seven tweets my way, deconstructing my inquiry in a very methodical manner. And hundreds of people had RT’d the info around the globe.

I felt bad for having started the chat, but not been around to reply. So I apologized to Mr. Coates, and then dropped him another note. Both tweets were summarily ignored, and I was neither surprised by that, nor offended.

Why?

He doesn’t know me. We’ve never met or spoken. Despite the fact that he used my handle repeatedly in his replies, it was little more than a Socratic technique. I was a stand-in for the many people out there who yearned to know more about what drove him to engage so deeply in the journalistic practice.

I was not a real person in this situation, any more than he was a real person to me. I typed a few letters, pressed send, and then my thoughts went out into the ether, where they were received as information. The words were disembodied; a process to which we have all become so accustomed in these last five years.

Our ability to “reach” people we don’t know has never been greater. I still remember the shock I felt the first time I got an email from “Barack Obama” in 2007. (Chicago again.) It seemed like magic. Now, I don’t even click on the spam he sends me. I’m under no illusions anymore.

At best, no matter how many “friends” or “followers” you might have, you can’t possibly have real relationships with more than a hundred people. Even that is a stretch. Which means that 99.9999999999% of humanity will always be strangers to you. People with parents you’ll never meet, boobs you’ll never see, stories you’ll never hear.

And that makes them fascinating. We may know that most humans have much in common with the herd, but unfamiliarity is its own kind of exoticism. Which is why I was so impressed with Richard Renaldi’s “Touching Strangers” exhibition when I saw it at Aperture, in New York, this past April.

For a guy who writes about photography on a weekly basis, there’s surprisingly little I see that embeds deeply in my brain. I’m the type of artist more likely to be influenced by cinema, painting, sculpture, or fiction. Photography doesn’t boil my blood as much as you might think.

But this project was mindblowing. It was the perfect metaphor for the medium writ large. We accept the nature of the rectangle or square. It is the biggest part of what makes a photo; that delineation between what is included or excluded. We accept that there is a world surrounding the border, but we choose not to care, for a brief moment.

As the exhibition has since closed, we’re lucky to be able to view it in book form, also called “Touching Strangers,” also available via Aperture. (The publisher’s name is itself a reminder that the camera is inherently limiting, in its access to light.)

Mr. Renaldi spent years combing the bus stations, laundromats, public spaces, and fancy museums of America, casting regular folks to be his models. Once the text, (and a video in the exhibition) allows us access to the process, a world of wonder floods into our consciousness. We imagine him out there, wrangling people, making small talk, offering compliments about a woman’s hair, or a young man’s bandana.

Yet it all happens offstage.

It puts me in mind of the story Reid Callanan told in our recent interview, how a photographer can approach a random person with odd questions, but, minus the image-making apparatus, the same interlocutor becomes a nuisance, one step short of an assailant.

It’s hard to believe these subjects never met until Mr. Renaldi intervened. The pictures feel so natural, which is a testament to his skill. They’re uniformly excellent, and seeing so many together allows those subtle differences to emerge. Who was reluctant? Who held back? Who cast a curtain across his eyes, to make sure we couldn’t steal his soul?

Which people had chemistry? Who opened up, blossoming into a faux-model for just a moment? Which of those Vegasites with beer cans was totally drunk? How close to death was the bald-headed cancer patient?

Did the Orthodox Jew and the African-American in Brooklyn each realize the other had a guarded look? Did they know the artist must have been thinking of the Crown Heights riots, back in the day? If they knew, did they care? Did their moment of contact create an opportunity for the suppression of prejudice?

I had so many questions, none of which I tweeted to Richard Renaldi. In his beautifully-written end note, he shares his own story, growing up in the segregated city of Chicago. Apparently, he ventured out into forbidden territory as a youth, in search of trysts with strange men.

He became intimate, we can only imagine, in ways far beyond what he’s asked of the people in this book. But the courage and confidence he developed, while fortunately not being kidnapped and killed, enabled this project to coalesce decades later. Thankfully. Because this book reminded me of why some of my colleagues, like the indomitable Jörg Colberg, still find photography fascinating on a daily basis.

Bottom Line: Remarkable project, great exhibition, wonderful book

To Purchase “Touching Strangers” Visit Photo-Eye

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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: Tobias Hutzler

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 Tobias Hutzler. He has gorgeous work and he is so hardworking and humble. I think he is going to be a star some day! He also has some amazing video work on Vimeo.

A recent project for Sony Music, an exciting project with a lot of creative freedom. The light trails are created by the movement of the water.

A recent project for Sony Music, an exciting project with a lot of creative freedom.
The light trails are created by the movement of the water.

Shot in the SouthWestern desert at night in moonlight.

Shot in the SouthWestern desert at night in moonlight.

A series on energy, light and space, shot in deserts across the US.

A series on energy, light and space, shot in deserts across the US.

This image was shot on location at night.

This image was shot on location at night.

An international Honda campaign for Wieden+Kennedy . The concept was to create a warm graphic and modern look.

An international Honda campaign for Wieden+Kennedy . The concept was to create a warm graphic and modern look.

International campaign for Honda. The concept was to create mirroring images, a car that appeals to both, the head and heart. Images that highlight the versatility of the car.

International campaign for Honda. The concept was to create mirroring images, a car that appeals to both, the head and heart. Images that highlight the versatility of the car.

This cover image we shot recently in LA; illuminated solely by moonlight.

This cover image we shot recently in LA; illuminated solely by moonlight.

A portrait of Maedir Eugster from the personal film project "Balance," which led to a global campaign for Titan watches.

A portrait of Maedir Eugster from the personal film project “Balance,” which led to a global campaign for Titan watches.

This is from a series on dancers. We shot this image on a rooftop in midtown Manhattan New York.

This is from a series on dancers. We shot this image on a rooftop in midtown Manhattan New York.

Commissioned by TIME magazine, photographed in Brooklyn.

Commissioned by TIME magazine, photographed in Brooklyn.

Lower East Side at night, New York City

Lower East Side at night, New York City

this image is from a series photographed for TheNewYorkTimes Magazine, a huge festival in the unexplored Western part of India. We scouted locations and captured the stunning sceneries in different parts of the city, like this candle-lit ballon flying.

this image is from a series photographed for TheNewYorkTimes Magazine, a huge festival in the unexplored Western part of India. We scouted locations and captured the stunning sceneries in different parts of the city, like this candle-lit ballon flying.

The NewYorkTimes Magazine commissioned me to photograph a new concept for refugee camps on the border to Syria. We created a custom device to capture unseen overviews to show both the structure and how people interact with the space.

The NewYorkTimes Magazine commissioned me to photograph a new concept for refugee camps on the border to Syria. We created a custom device to capture unseen overviews to show both the structure and how people interact with the space.

This image was commissioned by The New Yorker Magazine, New York July 4th.

This image was commissioned by The New Yorker Magazine, New York July 4th.

How many years have you been in business?
I have been shooting professionally for 3.5 years, but I have been photographing since I was 13, inspired by the work of the German Becher school, Bauhaus, Pop Art and Cubism. I am very interested in illustration, film art, painting and contemporary culture.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I studied photography at some of the best universities in Europe before receiving my MFA in the US on a Fulbright scholarship. That said, my work has also evolved through experience—learning by doing, constantly pushing the boundaries and experimenting in finding new ways. I learned to think outside the photographic box through things like studying film and contemporary culture in all facets.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
My greatest influence was traveling around the world. At an early age, I became very curious about the world and started backpacking throughout Europe, then Africa and Asia. Photography helped me to process all these experiences with different cultures worldwide. I crossed the Sahara and traveled in very remote corners of the world. Through photography, I was able to understand, communicate and tell stories.

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 don’t shoot to be noticed or hired, but to create work that is new and significant. Inspiration is everywhere. I want to introduce new ways and perspectives and make visible what’s hidden. I want to photograph what we all have in common, to find something universal that we can all connect with. This is really a magical thing and so essential.

There is so much that goes into an image: the light, time, composition and intention. Photography to me is more asking questions rather then looking for answers. I am grateful for every opportunity to collaborate with creatives and to go out and shoot exciting new work.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Every project is a collaboration. Art directors are creating great ideas. I am there to help the process come together as smoothly as possible. I’ve been fortunate to work with great art and creative directors. Recently, I had the chance to work with a wonderful creative director at Sony. The creative director was so open to my ideas; it was a dream collaboration.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Shooting editorial is a great way to get my work in front of potential advertising clients. Editorial is also a great way to work with interesting people and explore fascinating subjects with a great creative process and freedom. One week this year, for example, I was photographing large crowds in an unexplored area in India, and a few days later, I shot a cover in the Californian desert, in moonlight.

Personal meetings with clients are also very important to me. There is nothing better then a one-on-one and getting a feel for who the other person is.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
You must create your own market. You must develop a true self.
Who needs a copy of a copy of a copy?

As a photographer, I think it is very important to be able to come up with new ideas, perspectives and solutions. This helps the creatives produce something original and unique. And that’s everybody’s goal, isn’t it?

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Yes. This is the most important part of my work. I am constantly shooting, pushing the boundaries, exploring, challenging myself and working outside my comfort zone.

How often are you shooting new work?
At least weekly. If I’m not shooting, I am thinking about a new way, researching, planning or developing a concept.

In 2013, Time magazine debuted my short film “Balance,” which was produced with cutting-edge technology, It started as a personal project and soon went viral. Many millions of people around the world have viewed it, and it inspired an international ad campaign. For me, personal work is essential to growing as an artist as well as attracting new clients.

http://tobiashutzler.com/index.php?/motion/balance/

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Tobias Hutzler presents subjects in striking new ways, possessing a distinct point of view that has attracted advertising and editorial clients including Honda, Hyundai, Titan watches. He studied photography at some of the most prestigious schools in Europe and received his MFA in the US. He is a Fulbright Scholar and recipient of the prestigious DAAD and European Union fellowships. His work has received numerous international awards and he was named one of PDN’s 30 photographers to watch. “His pictures are both consistent and filled with surprises,” legendary director of photography Elisabeth Biondi wrote of Tobias’ images. As an image maker Tobias captures the pulse of our constantly moving and contemporary culture.

He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, TIME magazine and has been called “visionary” by AD Magazine and “one of the most exciting new artists working in photography.”

He is based in New York City and represented by Stockland Martel.

represented by Stockland Martel
www.stocklandmartel.com
talentinfo@stocklandmartel.com

New York studio:
www.tobiashutzler.com
tobias@tobiashutzler.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.

Susan Burnstine Interview

- - Art

9_The Last Goodbye

10_impasse

11_Michigan Avenue and Monroe 642AM

12_madison and wabash 1132AM

13_what was then

14_around the bend

15_griffith park 1048am_absence of being

16_beyond the east river

17_evidence

18_breakwater light

19_lost in mississippi_absence of being

Jonathan Blaustein: You used to be a stand up comedian?

Susan Burnstine: I worked in the entertainment business for many years, in many aspects. I started playing with stand-up comedy after. I was out there 8 years or so. Can’t say I was that great.

JB: (laughing) You weren’t funny?

SB: I was funny. I just wasn’t funny enough.

JB: (laughing) OK. I like that.

SB: Because you have to be contained in this 30 minute slot. I’m not very contained. I did stand-up comedy in college, and then I started working for Castle Rock, and a lot of different entertainment companies.

I happened to fall on to these sitcoms with a lot of famous comics, and one of them put me up on stage at the Comedy Store, and it went that way for a little while.

JB: So in what capacity were you working for the studios?

SB: Everything. Mostly development. I was behind the scenes, and didn’t do much that was exciting. I did write for years, but I never had any notable successes. So it’s nothing to talk about. I honestly hate talking about my entertainment past, so apologies.

JB: Why do you hate talking about it?

SB: It’s a past that I buried, and I truly don’t relate to it anymore.

JB: I feel that way. Don’t you think a lot of creative-types have phases in their lives? Or snake-skin-shedding periods where we were different people and then we change? I think that’s very common, and not embarrassing.

SB: Certainly. It also brought me to where I am now, because the cinematography and my writing are both a big part of how I create my images. I see very cinematically.

Learning to write screenplays, and having that background, really did give me the fundamentals.

JB: Let’s back up just a hair. You’ve been making and exhibiting your photography for quite some time. Can we put a rough figure on that? How long have you been engaging in the world of galleries, exhibitions, and publications?

SB: I’ve been making my own cameras since 2005, and by 2007 I ended up in my first gallery, thanks to Dave Anderson.

JB: Shout out.

SB: Shout out. Absolutely. He’s the best. I was in Photo LA just walking around. I was a nobody, enamored by everything that was on the walls.

I had been communicating with Dave via email, because I was such a fan of “Rough Beauty.” He’s such a nice guy. I saw him walk by with Alec Soth. Now, I live in Hollywood, and am around famous people all the time. It doesn’t affect me whatsoever.

But I saw Dave Anderson walk by, and I said, “OH MY GOD.” I was totally star-struck, and started screaming, “You’re my favorite photographer.” I made a total ass of myself.

JB: In front of Alec Soth.

SB: Yes, this is the funny part. I’m sorry to Alec Soth, because I have a great respect for him, but I was screaming, “Oh my God, Dave Anderson.” He was so excited that someone recognized him, much less next to Alec Soth he said, “Wait, I want to look at your work.”

So I brought him back to my car, he looked at my portfolio…

JB: In your car?

SB: In the trunk of my car.

JB: You had a portfolio review, impromptu, in the trunk of your car? That is the origin story to your art career?

SB: It is.

JB: Oh my God. I’m not even saying OMG. That’s a straight up Oh my God.

Listen up people. There’s the lesson right there. You gotta hustle. We don’t say this stuff for our own edification. You gotta shake and bake.

SB: It’s true. But I wasn’t planning it. I’m not a hustler. Something told me, “Put your portfolio in the car today.” So I did. And Dave went crazy, and snuck it back into Photo LA, which you’re not supposed to do. He brought it to one of his galleries, she looked at it, and in 2 seconds, I was signed.

End of story.

JB: OK, I’m really glad we’re having this conversation. Because I’ve never heard that before. There are a lot of people out there waiting for something like that to happen to them, and I tend to think those things don’t happen, ever. And that pinning one’s hopes on random discovery is not a particularly viable strategy.

You’re now telling us, “You never know.”

SB: You never know. You never know. That’s how I got discovered. That gallery sold me like crazy for a few years, and more galleries came, and that was it.

JB: Let’s talk about the work itself. You made mention that you build your own cameras. But the cameras you build are not super-hi-tech machines. They’re made out of plastic and tape?

SB: Yes. They’re total pieces of crap. They fall apart. I have to carry tape and Ducco cement with me whenever I go out.

JB: What is the allure of such a process?

SB: The allure is tied to the conceptual reason of why I began this. I didn’t just say, “Oh, I want to make my own camera.” That would have been insane. There had to be a fundamental reason why.

The why is because I was looking for a way to re-create my unconscious world. I suffer from night terrors. Do you know what that is?

JB: Not really.

SB: Mine started at 4 years old, after a severe trauma. What they are, basically, are severe nightmares that you cannot wake up from. You just can’t. And they’re detrimental to your waking and unconscious life.

My Mom was very smart. She was artistic, and a musician, and she decided to help me try to work out these night terrors by drawing and painting the dreams I had from the night before.

The process really worked, so she used that through-out my childhood. They came back in my 30′s, when she was tragically killed.

JB: I’m sorry to hear that.

SB: I decided to work out the effects of the night terrors by photographing my dreams and nightmares, because photography was my main source of creativity at that point. I tried every single camera known to man-kind. You name it, I tried it.

Nothing looked like what I was trying to communicate. My Dad was an engineer and inventor early in his lifetime. He would always build things in the house that were absolutely crazy. When I took my problem to him, he said, “Why don’t you just make your own cameras?”

I’d been working with toy cameras, and realized how they were fundamentally made. Very simplistic creations. So I decided, why don’t I take some time to take them apart and rebuild them. Teach myself how to create a camera.

That’s what I did. Then, I created my own lens, and it all came together in 2005. I did this one test shot of my dog’s nose entitled “Blue’s Nose”, and realized, “That’s what I’m going for. That really looks like my unconscious world.”

That’s how it all began.

JB: That’s amazing. I don’t profess to have begun this process of becoming a journalist with any intent, or any skill. I still bristle at using the word to describe myself. But if I were any good at the job, I would not have missed the two opportunities you brought up to discuss some heavy stuff.

You just told me you had a major tragedy at 4, and then your Mother was tragically killed. There’s a part of me that likes to pretend I don’t hear these things, but then I feel like I’m not really doing my job if I ignore openings for serious discussion.

Let me put that to you in the form of a question. Are you interested or comfortable discussing either of those things
that you mentioned? Or would you rather we just keep going?

SB: (long pause.) I can kind of talk about it. (pause.) I don’t like to talk publicly about what began these dreams. Because it’s pretty shocking. It’s probably not for public consumption.

JB: Like I said, we can move on.

SB: But my Mom… it happens whenever anyone dies. That’s when my night terrors are created again. There’s no telling when they’ll stop. I’m in a real bad phase right now, where they’re coming almost every night. It’s crazy.

JB: I’m very sorry to hear that. On behalf of the readers, we offer you our empathy. Given that I already busted your chops before I turned on the recorder about the very dark and serious look on your face when we began…I think I have my answer about where that was coming from.

My apologies for any insensitivity to your plight. With my obnoxious jokery.

SB: Don’t be silly.

JB: I’ll consider that apology accepted. Listen, the pictures are dreamy. I can’t imagine looking at them, and not using that word. They’re blurry and soft-focus. But they’re also very, very beautiful. Skylines, skyscrapers, the Santa Monica pier. Dynamic and epic subject matter, rendered beautifully. Exquisitely attractive.

SB: Thank you.

JB: But we’re talking about a root cause that is the opposite of beautiful.

SB: You’re touching on an interesting subject that I had a conversation about last week. How come they end up beautiful, and not ugly?

JB: Maybe not ugly. But they don’t feel conflicted. I teach at-risk youth, and I always talk about the idea of using the artistic process to take negative psychic energy and channel it into something positive.

The channeling itself is positive, but oftentimes, the end product might not be. How does that work for you? Is it intentional, to have the pictures be lovely? I’m not saying you need to be Joel-Peter Witkin, but to me as a viewer, they’re 180 degrees from dark and scary.

SB: There’s a reason for that. When my Mom started this process, when I was 4 years old, she actually told me to re-interpret them in a positive way, so that I’m actually re-writing my unconscious existence. And it worked.

It somehow patterns my brain to think more positive than negative. Ultimately, this kind of process helps me stop the night terrors. I’m re-creating my world in a more positive way.

JB: Is it important to you that the viewer of your photographs is privy to your process? If so, how do you go about communicating that additional information?

SB: It does not matter to me, because I honestly didn’t get into this for any other reason. I started creating these images for myself. It’s my own psychological process to purge what’s going on inside of me and create art.

I didn’t plan to be in the fine art world. I didn’t even know what fine art was, until it sort of fell in my lap. So it’s not that important until people start asking me questions, and that always happens.

“Why do you create cameras? Why are you creating this image?” You have to be honest with your viewers. It comes from a serious spot. I could say, “Oh, I like to make blurry pictures.” But then I’m not honoring what I’m really doing.

Once the conversation starts, I have to be frank about where it’s coming from. But it doesn’t matter to me if you just buy it because you think it’s pretty. I don’t care.

If it means something to you, and you want to put it on the wall, if it brings something to your life, that’s great.

JB: Understood. Wow. I rarely get uncomfortable in these interviews. I like making people uncomfortable.

SB: I’m honored. I made you uncomfortable.

JB: I get the video experience via Skype, but the readers don’t. Your turmoil is flashing across your eyes on a semi-regular basis. I’m responding to what I’m seeing, as well as what I’m hearing. And other people don’t have that luxury.

Thank you for sharing this with our audience. I’m always on a soap box. My readers know this. I practically live on my high horse, telling everybody else what to do.

The reason why I do this is because I was a very unlikely candidate to become an artist myself. This process, over the last 17 years, has enriched my life in every way I can think of. And helped me grapple with my own demons, such as they are. Thankfully, and admittedly, they don’t derive from any hard-core trauma.

Even though I try to enliven the writing with humor, I’m very serious about why art helps a lot of people. We build a super-structure over the process: buying and selling, talking and promoting.

Oftentimes, we confuse the value of the super-structure with the value of the process. I feel like you have very cleanly explained to people the way it’s supposed to work. And then dangled this carrot out there, that even random people can be discovered. Which is a myth I try to quash, but there you go.

We’re telling it like it is today. Are we not?

SB: We’re trying.

JB: Fast-forward again, and you’re doing very well. You’re represented in a slew of galleries, show a lot, and just took home an award last week from the Palm Springs Photo Festival. Best in the reviews, is that right?

SB: Yup. That was a shocker.

JB: Well, you also had that happen once at PhotoNOLA, so I’m not sure if it was an actual shocker.

SB: Wow. You do your research.

JB: No, I just have a really good memory. Where are we headed here? We’re headed to teaching.

We’ve talked about why and how you do what you do. And what the pictures look like. But teaching is an entirely different beast. One need not be a great artist to be a great teacher, because the skill sets don’t always overlap.

You’re going to be teaching a workshop this summer at the Santa Fe Workshops, and they’re sponsoring this interview series. Your workshop is called “Visual Narratives.” What does that mean, in your words?

SB: “Visual Narratives” is about communicating your own personal narrative, visually. Digging deep inside of yourself, and being able to identify a consistent thread that is within all your images. And be able to create a body of work.

I have a unique way of teaching that’s very psychological. Most of my students think they went to the shrink’s. They call me “The Psychiatrist.”

It’s a very interesting class. I love it. It digs deep into each person’s personal world, and teaches them how to bring back their unique qualities: what they’ve experienced, what they’re passionate about, and put it into a visual element.

JB: Does that presuppose that everyone is interesting?

SB: I think everyone IS interesting. I suppose there’s someone really boring out there, but I haven’t met them yet.

JB: You’re talking about a framework through which you approach strangers, basically. And a set of assumptions you bring to the table to then teach those strangers. What types of questions do you ask people to get them to share private, secret, interior information?

SB: I have a way of working where I ask stream-of-consciousness questions, and you have just a few seconds to write down the answers. By looking at all the answers together, in a group context, we’re able to put a map together of what makes that person tick. And what they’re really trying to say, whether they know it or not.

Questions that seem vague and unimportant, but they’re very specific, once you put the map together.

JB: What happens if someone comes to your workshop with perfectly anodyne and average pictures of flowers and birds? The most typical and uninteresting set of pictures you might imagine.

SB: (pause) You have to ask them about what is really inspiring them, and why is it flowers, or bees, or whatever it is they’re taking pictures of. And what is it that they want to do with that? I always look at the person’s aspirations for the image, and where they want to get to, compared to where they are with their image making today. Because if I succeed, tomorrow they will start the process of making images they aspire to create. And as a teacher, there’s nothing more rewarding to witness than growth in your students.

For instance, I was always inspired by Impressionists, my entire childhood. Somehow, that informed where I went. My work is Pictorialist based, but I didn’t know what a “Pictorialist” photograph was until maybe 10-15 years ago. But I did know what Impressionism was, and was inspired by the images.

The Impressionists informed my work, and what I was trying to say, so I ask people, “What type of art form are you inspired by, and what really gets you going?” To me, that’s a vital clue about where a photographer aspires to achieve with their work. Does that make sense?

JB: Of course. It was a slightly rude question, but you answered it positively. It’s not easy to get people to open up, and then you have to build trust within the group. Group dynamics, and making sure your pupils respect and trust each other, is important as well. The environment they’re in, and whether they feel secure or insecure in the group, will also determine how far people get in a short span of time. Would you agree?

SB: Yes. I think this is where the stand-up comedy comes into play. (laughing.) I just love people, and I love making them laugh. I love having a true conversation with someone, and digging in to what’s important.

That’s what my classes are about. I don’t accept a vague answer. I really keep digging at people.

I’m from the Mid-West. I talk to everybody.

JB: Well, according to that philosophy, I let you off the hook earlier in the interview. I didn’t keep digging until you broke.

SB: That’s different. I’m not paying $1200 to get to the next level.

JB: (laughing) Touché. We’re talking about inspiration. Outside of the New Yorkers, you Angelenos probably have access to the best art in the US. Or maybe the Chicago girl in you would quibble? (pause) Oh my goodness. I read it in your eyes. Honestly, people, she did not say anything. I did not edit this part at all. I read it in her eyes. She may live in LA, but she was like, “Aw, hell no.”

SB: Chicago.

JB: There it is. Chicago. Hot dogs, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Never leaves your blood.

SB: Pizza.

JB: Pizza. Let’s not go there. You guys use more cheese, the New Yorkers have crispier crust. Truce.

Where I was headed was, where do you like to go look at work in LA? How do you keep yourself juiced up, with all that great art at your fingertips?

SB: It’s funny, but it’s mostly when I’m traveling. I hate to say it. That’s when I have time to go to the museums. I always hit up MoMA and the Met and everything, when I’m in New York.

Who has time when you’re actually here? It’s sad to say, but I’ll go to the Getty and LACMA, when I can. I get a lot of juice going to gallery shows. Artists that I wouldn’t have a chance to see.

I recently saw a great show over at Kopeikin Gallery that was really inspiring. Kevin Cooley. Do you know him?

JB: I saw his videos at MOPA in San Diego. Dynamite.

SB: Unbelievably inspiring show. There’s always a great show going on in the galleries here in LA.

JB: You use the galleries more than the museums?

SB: I think so. When I go to a museum, I get lost. It’s a commitment. I only allow myself that time when I’m out of town, not when I’m here.

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Garden & Gun – Jody Horton

- - The Daily Edit

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Garden & Gun

Art Director: Marshall McKinney
Photography Director: Maggie Brett Kennedy
Associate Art Director: Braxton Crim
Assistant Photo Editor: Margaret Houston
Photographer: Jody Horton

Heidi: How many days did you have to shoot this project?
Jody: All production was accomplished in 3 days. We had a travel day on both sides so I was gone for 5 days in all.

Do you speak Spanish?
I lived in Costa Rica for a few years after college, and living in Texas speak limited Spanish with frequency, but its pretty survival-level.

Were there any language barriers that made this colorful or a challenge?
At one point I was trying to ask a mezcalero how old his youngest son was, but accidentally asked him how old his worst son was. I realized this only much later.

Did you study the agave process before the shoot?
I knew how maguey were cut and trimmed and that the piñas were roasted underground but had not even seen photos of the fermentation and distillation.

Can you tell us your approach to a project like this? Do you story board it?
I love when I can jump in and photograph people doing what they do and can simply document it, staying out of the way mostly, but also asking questions that help me understand what is important to the subjects, why they do what they are doing, and why it has meaning to them.

One goal of mine with the mezcal shoot was to photograph all of the stages of production. There were many natural moments in this process but because making mezcal takes several days, and because we were working in remote areas without the benefit of phones or e-mail, there was no way to schedule a shoot – or to know at what stage of the process a given mezcalero would be in when we arrived. As a result, some directing comes into play – asking people to do what they would do if they were doing x – and making this feel like a natural moment.

When an image has to fit into a very specific space – to account for copy or other predetermined limitation – I love to sketch it out. For editorial work I almost never storyboard, but I do visualize what I hope to see, or what I hope to create.

Were you traveling with the writer?
Yes. I traveled with writer Logan Ward. Due to the challenge of travel and communications this was the best option by far and I’m grateful this was so. It was a fantastic collaboration, and I think we both feel like we made each other better. Our great producer, Blair Richardson, also traveled with us. Blair, who lives in Mexico City, deserves the credit for finding the story in the first place.

Several of your portfolio galleries center around the process of harvest. How did you get started in this niche?
My first exposure to food photography was while working with a small publication when in grad school for Cultural Anthropology. I was attracted to the idea of transformation – things or people moving from one state to another. This is inherently interesting to me and translates, in food work, to harvest/processing/preparation.

Seeing a harvest, or a documentation of it, is also a very tangible way to connect to being conscious of where food comes from. I’m also drawn to the energy and human interaction that happens here – and the goal of capturing and reveling something not widely known.

Its gratifying then to show someone how an oyster is dredged from the Gulf and have them say “Wow, I never knew that was how they did it” – even if they had eaten the same oysters all their life.

The best part of being a photographer is having an excuse to have access to go see and do things like this. I started by asking ” I wonder what this looks like” and then tried to find a way to get to take those pictures. There are so many projects that I hope to do like this in my lifetime.

I recently produced a project for a tequila company in Jalisco, Mexico.  I understand there’s an old growth agave shortage at the moment. Were the fields you were shooting in  patrolled? Was security an issue for you?

How cool.

These fields for the mezcal piece were in very remote areas on small farms and were operated only by the families themselves for the most part. Except for rows of baby plants – that were used like a nursery to transfer elsewhere – there were no formal fields of cultivated plants. These guys had very little resources so no one would have been able to patrol the fields even if there was a threat – unless they did it themselves.

Its true that there is a shortage of maguey. The equation as I understand it is that larger tequila producers, who are supposed to use only one variety of blue agave from the state of Jalisco, have had trouble keeping up with demand.

An illegal trade in maguey harvested from other states (all varieties- not just blue) began 10 or more years ago to respond to this supply problem. Its unclear how much worse it has gotten exactly but given the rise of popularity of tequila – and now mezcal – reports that things are worse seem well-founded. I’m not sure how frequent outright theft of plants occurs from the kinds of fields I saw. Most often plants are harvested by local farmers from their own lands and sold to these smugglers – at a higher rate than they could receive for them locally.

I worried a little about security issues before I left, but we encountered no problems whatsoever.

 

Some outtakes from the shoot.

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Felipe Cortés daughter sips mezcal.

 

 

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The finished product of the distillation – pure mezcal – is caught by a jicara

 

 

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After fermenting in a large wooden vat, the mash is hauled bucket-by-bucket to the oven.

 

 

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Mash from a batch of mezcal is dumped by Joaquin Garcia.

 

 

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Felipe Cortés trims the spiny leaves from a maguey with a machete after cutting it down.

 

 

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Felipe Cortés and his son Ageo at their palenque.

This Week In Photography Books: Adrian Chesser

by Jonathan Blaustein

You’re catching me at a bad time. It’s been an emotional couple of weeks, so my mojo is low, like a cheapskate’s gas tank. On top of that, I’m out of books again. So this is one of those columns where I’ve had to sift back through the rejects and find something interesting to say.

In the past, I’ve found these queries can lead to deep thoughts. Why is this book worth writing about now, when I felt otherwise the first two times I leafed through the pages? Maybe it’s not.

But each time I’ve done this, (seemingly always in summer,) I find that challenging my own notions has been a worthwhile endeavor. Why do we make judgements so quickly? How am I to maintain my position as your proxy, if I don’t push myself to reevaluate my own perspective?

In this case, the book in question is “The Return,” by Adrian Chesser, in collaboration with Timothy White Eagle. (Daylight) According to the end notes, a lot of VIP’s supported the production, so who am I to quibble with their taste?

My problem is that the photos look like Lucas Foglia and Mike Brodie’s pictures had explicit sex, and then 9 months later, Adrian Chesser’s images popped out. As there are many hippies involved, I’m sure someone ate the placenta.

But I’ve definitely learned it’s not fair to penalize an artist just because others are mining similar turf.

This book chronicles a set of lost-ish, lower-class, Caucasian wanderers who returned to living off the land in the mountains of Utah. (Like early hunter-gathering Native Americans.) We know the locale, as one photo shows a middle-aged woman reading the Deseret Times at Burger King. Apparently, says the book, even super-duper-hardcore-subcultures still have difficulty eschewing ALL the trappings of modernity.

These pictures are compelling: with many a dead animal used as trap bait or tree adornment. Even my beloved eagles have been harmed in the making of this new world, which is based so ironically upon the ashes of a cross-Continental society that these folks’ ancestors razed to take America.

I don’t doubt the artist’s fascination with his subjects; nor do I doubt you’ll find the jpegs below worth clicking through. Rather, I wonder why I can’t empathize with their plight? Am I too cocooned in my bourgeois existence to fathom feeling so disaffected by the 21st Century that I’d consider eating mice and sleeping in a teepee, forever?

Perhaps I am. But photographs are tricky beasts. They creep into our minds when we’re not looking.

I live in a place where if I drove 15 minutes, I could hang out with actual Native Americans, who still hunt Elk in their own protected mountains, and most definitely eat at McDonalds. Were I to drive 20 minutes further, I could dodge the rifle cracks that ring out on “the Mesa”; Taos’ own community of wingnut dropouts and water witches. They live with little, and I’m not sure they eat at Burger King.

What’s my point? Humans have found every way to live we can imagine. One woman’s abaya is another woman’s tattooed bare chest. (Boobs Sell Books℠) One man’s obsession with Lebron James is another’s love for Vladimir Putin. Honestly, who am I to judge?

Bottom Line: A window into a genuinely strange sub-culture

To Purchase “The Return” Visit Photo-Eye

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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: Michael Weschler

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 Michael Weschler. His signature style remains defined and he is collaborative, supporting and enhancing the creative vision of any project he participates in. His numerous awards, active participation in industry activities and charitable initiatives, coupled with his passion for mentoring are a testament to what propel photography as an industry and an art.

The Compost Wizard

The Compost Wizard

The Cast of Tattoo Rescue

The Cast of Tattoo Rescue

Family at Stoneridge, Malibu

Family at Stoneridge, Malibu

Richard Gere at His Restaurant, The Bedford Post

Richard Gere at His Restaurant, The Bedford Post

The Antiquarians, Brooklyn

The Antiquarians, Brooklyn

Wine and Conversation

Wine and Conversation

Prepping Vegetables at Dinner Party, Chicago

Prepping Vegetables at Dinner Party, Chicago

The Pod Hotel, NYC

The Pod Hotel, NYC

Liev Schreiber at Home

Liev Schreiber at Home

Liev Schreiber at Home

Liev Schreiber at Home

Liam Neeson at Home

Liam Neeson at Home

Kelly Ripa at ABC Studios

Kelly Ripa at ABC Studios

The Family Meal

The Family Meal

Couple in the Kitchen, Chicago

Couple in the Kitchen, Chicago

Chuck Close in His Studio, NYC

Chuck Close in His Studio, NYC

The Big Hair Girls

The Big Hair Girls

Alicia Silverstone at The Farmers Market, Los Angeles

Alicia Silverstone at The Farmers Market, Los Angeles

Alexander Wang at Balenciaga, NYC

Alexander Wang at Balenciaga, NYC

Kids in the Kitchen, Chicago

Kids in the Kitchen, Chicago

Father and Son in the Kitchen

Father and Son in the Kitchen

Rob Lowe at His New Home, Montecito

Rob Lowe at His New Home, Montecito

How many years have you been in business?
16 years

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Well, I started shooting portraits of my friends when I was 8 and was always the kid with the camera. Later I learned to use photography as a tool to draw better, while studying architecture in college. When I switched majors to fine art, I also started working in a gallery, a photo lab, a camera store, and that all led to assisting professional photographers and shooting for them as an associate.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
My mentor was Jerry Burchfield, who used to hang out with Garry Winogrand & Robert Heineken. He helped to create the World’s Largest Photograph, by converting an airplane hanger into a pinhole camera, so he was a historical figure. Anyway, he introduced me to lots of people in the Arts, which opened a lot of doors for me, like shooting with the 20×24 Polaroid camera. He taught me how to make Photograms, which are camera-less photographs made by painting with light on Cibachrome in complete darkness. A couple of years before he died, we took a trip to the Amazon with the same boat Captain for the National Geographic expedition, and he always encouraged me to go further with my work.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
Because everyone is a photographer these days, in a way, I focus on making signature images that cut through the noise. Of course, that is easier said than done, but I’m always trying to raise the bar, so that I’m creating something fresh. When I recently shot Chuck Close for Architectural Digest, I knew I couldn’t do a picture of him anything like what he might do, close-up. My portrait of him in his studio was recently selected for the Communication Arts 2014 Photography Annual, so that was very validating. Trust your gut.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
It would be easy to say that, but the constraints you find working for others offer new challenges. With personal work, an artist can be selfish, and not be so concerned about pleasing other people’s tastes. However, making a marketable image that millions of people like is quite hard, so any informed input is often helpful to get you there. In the end, photography is very collaborative, whether it is yourself and one person, place or thing before your lens, or a team of sixty people helping produce a compelling campaign image.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
It’s hard to keep things under wraps these days, and one thing often leads to another. My agents and I share our updates often, so there’s continuous conversation. While some clients’ projects can be confidential, I’m always testing and shooting outtakes whenever I can. The way we share images has changed and we’re always concerned about the value and integrity of the work. We try to unveil a new image each month, one way or another.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Buyers want to see that you can produce what they need, at a bare minimum, and then they want to see your personal work. They’re not going out on a limb for somebody who shoots a bunch of grainy black & white nudes, or just because they’re cool. You’ve got to learn how to show a balance of marketable pictures, as well.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
As my career progresses, I find myself shooting more for others, and less just for me. Because the level of production has increased, it becomes harder to let go, and just make a simple image that still fits with the larger body of work. When I’m able to just shoot and let go, I’m reminded of why I got into Photography in the first place. While these pictures often don’t become part of my portfolio, they are all part of the creative process and keep me in tune.

How often are you shooting new work?
Almost every day. Otherwise, I’m sorting out the details for the next project or the last one.

Michael Weschler Bio:

Michael Weschler started doing portraits of his friends at the age of seven with a Kodak 110 camera. After studying Architecture, he switched to Fine Art Photography at Cal State University & began showing his photographs, installations, and 20×24 Polaroids in galleries. Gaining experience assisting alongside high-profile photographers like Peggy Sirota, the larger assignments gave him the confidence to quickly rise as a renowned photographer in his own right. Known for capturing the detail, personality, and moment that make a photograph unforgettable, Michael is highly sought after to collaborate with other talented creatives. His Portrait work includes notable personalities: Richard Gere, Liam Neeson, Donatella Versace, Liev Schreiber, Don Cheadle, Isaac Mizrahi, LeAnn Rimes, Meredith Vieira, Carrie Underwood, Wolfgang Puck, John McEnroe, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus to name a few. His Editorial work has run in magazines such as GQ, Vogue, Architectural Digest, Oprah, Allure, Life, Newsweek, Stern, Men’s Health, Dwell, Food & Wine and more. He has worked collaboratively on many books and his pictures have been included in Photography textbooks, most notably, “Photography in Focus”. Michael has captured interiors for Giorgio Armani, Ferragammo, and Frederic Fekkai as well as The Gramercy Park Hotel, Grand Hyatt, Liberty Hotel & Hotel Carlton. His Portrait & Lifestyle work has also graced over 20 covers of magazines such as U.S. News & World Report, and he works frequently for such high profile newspapers as The New York Times. Recent Ad campaigns include Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Marriot, Bank of America, The National Pork Board, National Car Rental, etc. His personal work has been exhibited in art galleries and museums from LA to NY to Paris, and he is a national board member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP). Recent photography awards include Communication Arts 2014 Photography Annual Winner, American Photography 2014, 6 Honorable Mentions in The International Photography Awards and Archive’s Top 200 Ad Photographers. He’s received grants to teach Photography from The California Arts Commission, and is currently a mentor for the Young Photographers Alliance. Michael also works with 2 charities in New York City that improve the lives of foster children: (HeartgalleryNYC.org & WeDeserveLoveToo.org) Michael has a studio in New York City, but travels frequently for shoots in Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and around the world. Since he believes “getting the shot” requires fitness & movement, Michael trains as a triathlete managing to get 4 triathlons under his belt, while also enjoying tennis, hiking and yoga.

Represented by:

WSWcreative
212.431.4480

Anne Albrecht Artist Agents
312.315.0056

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: Women’s Health – Jamie Chung

- - The Daily Edit

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Women’s Health

Creative Director: Theresa Griggs
Director of Photography:
Sarah Rozen
Deputy Director of Photography: Freyda Tavin
Prop Stylist: Elizabeth Press
Photographer: Jamie Chung

Heidi: What specifically about Jamie’s work made you choose him for this project?
Freyda: I’m a huge fan of Jamie’s work. He can take an ordinary object and transform it into a work of art. His photos are deceptively simple and complex at the same time. In this case the subject matter wasn’t unique but the editor’s and writer’s take were and I wanted the photos to reflect that.

Can you take me through the creative process for this feature?
The process: Myself, Sarah and two art directors met with the story editor who went over, at that point, the story outline and any specific points she wanted to come through in the piece. We all brainstormed and came up with a few ideas. I talked to Jamie about it and he had more than a few great ideas of his own and sketched them out. From there Jamie and I both did some major drug research and then I brought Elizabeth Press, the prop stylist into the process.

I enjoyed the notes of drug addiction in the photos, what material did you use for the “sugar” in razor shot?
She found the perfect colored sugar for the blade shot so to answer your question that really is sugar. Jamie was set on using a glass spoon which was a great choice but we did lose one in the heating process. I never thought I’d want a razor blade hanging in my living room but it is just such a beautiful photo as are the rock candy and spoon. They’re the perfect visual interpretation of the story title, “Sweet and Vicious”.

Heidi: What’s your creative process like?
Jamie: I’m very curious in general, always watching, reading or listening to something. Making an effort to be conscious of my surroundings helps a great deal- (actually- I just made a picture inspired by a Chinese restaurant’s fish tank..!) I also do journaling, sensory deprivation- aka extended showering, and sketching.

You seem to work a lot with metaphors, what inspires your word play and how does that process unfold?
These photographs were made to accompany a story about the addictive/ harmful effects of sugar. And that’s where the sugar as addictive substance concept comes in. Most photography I am currently working on can be divided in three modes. One being product still life where I’m mainly focused on presenting and creating a mood around an object. The second is reportage, I’m very interested in artifacts. The other is a more illustrative kind of work that’s based on a concept or story. I approach these images much like a copywriter would. Looking for the succinct way of describing something in a powerful one or two word answer, this becomes a jumping off point for brainstorming. Also it was a great experience working with Freya, she gave me a balance of support and freedom to interpret this story.

What was the biggest challenge for the shoot?
One challenge in interpreting this concept was approaching the drug/substance metaphor without being to cheeky/ going over the top. For me it’s fascinating when a picture can say more by showing less. Another was creating a feeling of danger and seduction without being overly dark or gloomy (here we used color to strike a balance).

How did you get your start in photography?
I went to Parson’s in NYC and assisted several different photographers with various styles. Still life seemed to resonate with me mainly because I enjoy experimenting in the studio and the process overall.

Pricing & Negotiating: Architectural Shots For Ad Agency Portfolio

by Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Architectural shots of a locally-run ad campaign

Licensing: North American Collateral and Publicity use of all images captured in perpetuity

Location: A downtown cityscape and airport

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: A local architectural specialist

Agency: A southern branch of a large NYC-based ad agency

Client: n/a

An art buyer from a large ad agency reached out to one of our photographers, interested in hiring him to shoot two out-of-home (OOH) advertising placements (billboards and transit posters). The ads had just been posted; one was a single three dimensional billboard in a downtown cityscape environment, the other was a series of posters and back-lit displays inside the local airport, both promoting the same client. It’s not unusual for an agency or it’s client to request a shoot to document ads for press releases, awards submissions and/or their portfolios. In this case, the client wasn’t commissioning the shoot, so the licensing would be conveyed directly to the agency.

To take full advantage of the day, the photographer would need to shoot the cityscape billboard in the early morning and late afternoon light, and the interior shots at the airport in the middle of the day while the sun was high. It would definitely be a full day shoot. Other than the long day, the shoot was pretty straight forward. The local film office didn’t require a permit because it was only the photographer, a tripod and one assistant. The agency would be providing the necessary escort and access at the airport, so the prep time would be minimal.

Here’s the estimate:

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The licensing was fairly minimal, however we needed to grant perpetual use to account for the collateral use of the images in the agency’s portfolio. This is an instance in which the photographer’s time is worth about as much as the fairly limited licensing, and as a result has more weight in the calculation of the overall value. Although the license was perpetual, any use beyond the first year of awards submissions would be minimal and presumably taper off pretty quickly. It seems unlikely that the agency would want to promote work in their portfolio that was more than a few years old, which limits the value a bit. Based on the number of activations, intended use and pricing from previous projects of this nature, I arrived at 4500.00 for the creative/licensing fee. Not surprisingly, this rate was a bit lower than the other pricing resources recommended, which don’t take into account the subtleties of the project, but nevertheless provide a solid point of reference. Blinkbid suggested 900.00/image/year and Corbis priced comparable use at 1300/image for the first year.

Assistant Day: The photographer would have been able to handle the shoot solo from a gear perspective, however he wanted an assistant to drop him off for the cityscape shots, in the event that parking proved to be difficult to find.

Equipment: This covered the one day rental costs for a DSLR, a backup DSLR, tripod and a few specialty lenses, all of which the photographer owned and would be renting to the production.

File Transfer: The agency insisted that raw image be delivered via hard drive. This covered the time and cost necessary to dump the images and ship out a hard drive. It’s pretty unusual for an architectural photographer (or any photographer for that matter) to provide unprocessed files, but due to the nature of the project, the photographer was OK with it.

Insurance: We included the cost of providing a certificate of insurance for the airport portion of the shoot. The property management company required standard business liability insurance to shoot on premises.

Miles, Parking, Shipping, Meals, FTP, and Misc: This covered the basic out of pocket expenses the photographer would accrue between mileage, FTP costs, lunch for him and his assistant on the shoot day, and any other miscellaneous expenses that may arise.

Housekeeping (see the project description): I noted all of the production elements the client would be providing: processing, necessary location access, escorts and releases to be provided and secured by agency

Results, Hindsight and Feedback: The photographer was awarded the project and shot it a few days later.

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: Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs

by Jonathan Blaustein

My wife got me hooked on nature shows. Or, I should say, the “Nature” show on PBS. Is anything more predictable than a liberal artist extolling the virtues of Public Television?

I doubt it.

The other night, we were watching the episode about swarm behavior in the animal kingdom. Birds, fish, and mostly insects. They somehow develop a communication style that allows them to move in tandem. Thousands, Millions, Billions, or even Trillions at a time.

In all my years, it was one of the strangest things I’ve seen. Especially the segments on locusts and cicadas. My wife turned to me and said, “Who needs aliens when you’ve got those bastards cruising around the planet?” (Or something to that effect.)

In fairness, it’s a sentiment she’s said before. Some creatures are so shocking to behold that one wonders how anything Extra-Terrestrial could possibly compete. Watching those cicadas hatch, after spending 17 years beneath the Earth, is something I won’t soon forget. (Nor when they shed their hardened bodies for fresh new ones. OMFG.)

They looked so much like the creature in Ridley Scott’s “Alien,” he must have been thinking about freaky cicadas when he designed his vile monster. I’m certain.

It made me think of the “thought experiment” in which we imagine what a real Alien might think of our world. Would a car seem more valuable than a bowl of noodles? Would she/he be able to smell farts, flowers, or fabric softener? Would it wear clothes that need washing, or contain sexual organs that require satisfaction?

All these questions came to mind when I looked at “Light of Other Days,” a new soft-cover book by Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs. (Published by Kodoji Press.) I’ll be honest with you: the pictures in the book don’t make much sense on their own. It might give you a headache trying to sort it all out.

The photos are exclusively black and white, and appear to have been made in a studio. (Which the end notes confirm.) It opens with a couple of images that suggest galaxies, or celestial bodies light years away.

But then, it moves away from blatant space-type-references. Sculptures that appear to have been mashed together by an angry and confused deity. People with fingers for torso-bottoms. Furry lightbulbs. Hollowed-out books and drills spinning ’til Infinity. Like I said, weird shit.

The entire time I perused, I kept thinking everything looked like an Alien. It was communicated to me via the hive-mind, as none of the photographs, beyond 1 and 2, were explicit in their references.

After the photos, I began to read the closing story, “The Eighteenth Voyage,” by Stanislav Lem, translated from Polish. Of course, it was narrated by a scientist who claimed he had created the Universe. Literally.

I chuckled, impressed these ideas appeared in my mind before the words confirmed it. Like the Army ants in that PBS doc, who efficiently decapitated a giant praying mantis by working together, these artists had collectively gotten inside my head.

As I said in the article about Francis Alÿs, sometimes art can burrow beneath the surface, subvert the consciousness, and implant ideas below. That happened here.

I never know which of these books you’ll want to buy. Hell, I don’t even know who “you” are. But I’ll keep writing about things I find interesting, or fascinating, or downright bizarre. And, hopefully, we’ll all learn a thing or two along the way.

Bottom Line: This is one, trippy-ass, inter-stellar photobook

To Purchase “Light of Other Days” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

Sebastian Junger’s Self-Financed and Self-Released Film Korengal

- - Working

CLICK to purchase tickets

KORENGALa note from Sebastian Junger

I’m writing to let you know that my next film, KORENGAL, is about to come out on May 30th in New York. Tim and I had planned to make a follow-up to Restrepo, but a few weeks after going to the Oscars, Tim was killed in Libya while covering the civil war. I teamed up with our original editor and continued the project anyway. Restrepo was intended to give civilians an idea of what combat feels like; KORENGAL is completely different. It is meant to help soldiers – and civilians – understand the experience of war. How does fear work? What is courage? Why do so many soldiers miss the war? Why is it so hard to come home?
KORENGAL is completely self-financed and self-released. The upside is that no one could tell us how to make our film; the downside is that it is incredibly hard – and expensive – to get an independent film to hit critical mass and go nationwide. But that is exactly what we are going to try to do. If we sell out the Sunshine Theater (Houston and First Avenue) on opening weekend (May 29-June 1), Landmark will take our film nationwide. It will be a real victory for independent film – and for the whole national conversation about war and its aftermath.
In addition, a ticket stub from the film will get you a free beer or house wine at the Half King (23rd Street and Tenth Avenue ) on opening weekend.
Below is a link to pre-buy tickets. Obviously the daytime shows are the hardest to fill, so if you can go to those instead of an evening show, that would be fantastic. Thank you so much for your support. I can’t wait to hear what you think of our film.
Thank you so much for your support. I can’t wait to hear what you think of our film.
Sebastian

 

CLICK to purchase tickets

 

The Weekly Edit- Adweek: Michael Clinard

- - The Daily Edit

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ADWEEK

Photo Editor: Margo Didia
Creative Director: Nick Mrozowski
Props and Food Styling: John Lavin
Retouching and Compositing: Gretchen Hilmers
Photographer: Michael Clinard

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Heidi: How often do you shoot for Adweek?
Michael: About three to five times per year. Since the start of 2014, I’ve tackled two conceptual feature projects, and in those instances, I shot both the cover and opening art to accompany the story. In the last half of 2013, I did the same on the subject of Big Pharma and contributed five images to their annual Hot List issue, published in December. I should just say quickly that in addition to my photographic practice, I exercise a particular form of ideation for Nick and Margo. I consider what I do for Adweek to be a form of grappling. I take their concept and wrestle with it.

Do you typically sketch out all our your ideas?
By and large, yes. Some things can’t be said with words. It’s important for me to find ways to convey a message through symbols, subject matter and themes that are pre-existent in our collective conscience, that visual ether. I love conjuring, so I use all the things at my disposal to bang out my best take on what Norman Rockwell might do if he were in the hustle in 2014.

How much drawing do you do while you are not shooting? Do you have a journal?
While I’m drawing all the time, I like to keep fit photographically, too. I’ve been doing some experiments with tissue paper, shooting into glass and mirrors, using blueberries as indigo, etc. Since February, I’ve slowly been adding things to a personal journal of sorts: The Hills, 98006. I keep a record there of what I’m reading, what moves me. It’s an index, too. Something I can later refer to.

How did The Hills, 98006 come about? What was the impetus for it?
The Hills, 98006 came out of falling in love with a neighborhood and a reawakening in my spiritual life. There’s no prescription, but for me, I read. I listen to audio books. I get out of the house and walk in the woods. If the jewel from my daughter’s tiara falls out, I fix it that evening. Time has taken on less meaning or importance to me; my relationships with my wife and daughter have grown. The Hills shows glimpses of that dimension of my life.

How did this idea for a chicken eating a burger come about?
Margo got in touch on Tuesday, May 6. Her emails are never really long, just to the point. In a word, perfect. She asked if I was around, and my intuition told me this would be something rad.

I told her that if I was needed to churn something out in next 60 hours (like that Snapchat Ghost concept back in February), then regrettably I’d be unable to since my family was enroute to California for what would become the most epic of family vacations.

We determined that I could doodle it up Wednesday and produce the thing over the course of the next few days (while on the family trip), and we could shoot the whole thing on Monday, May 12, so it could hit the printers later that week, like clockwork.

Was the overhead cover idea nixed due to type legibility or the single chicken became more impactful?
That concept was maybe the third or fourth thing I passed along, the one where you see the suggestion of many chicks swarming a burger from above. I sent the hero option and profile options late Tuesday night, and she signed off on those Wednesday morning. That one was generated strictly for giggles Wednesday evening. Another angle. Younger chickens. Something more graphic.

Did the printed idea hatch from that initial sketch?
Ha! Yeah. . . I’ve shot all kinds of animals, so I was only submitting angles and vantage points that I felt I could actually create. It helped to know the anatomy of a chicken, understand how it eats and know that at some point it would have to look up because it has to swallow. That confirms I’ll get my straight-on hero shots, but chickens don’t really look like chickens from the perspective of a traditional headshot. My feeling was that it might be best to see it from the side, so it’d read.

Was the chicken well behaved?
Absolutely. I hired an animal wrangler named Charlie Wainger. Charlie talks chicken. Charlie understands that there’s a certain way you talk to a hen. Whispers are effective. I never know when something will go sideways, so I had him bring a brown hen named, Martha, in case Cleopatra decided she was watching her figure that day (Cleopatra’s the white chicken).

Are you still a beef burger guy?
For some reason this feels like a chicken and egg question. I don’t discriminate against form. Be you cow or be you chicken — I’ve eaten worse.