This Week In Photography Books: Trent Parke

by Jonathan Blaustein

I used to have an Aussie friend named Pappy. We met when I was still impressionable, and were the best of mates for nearly 15 years. He looked like a pirate and drank like a Marine, so I did too.

Having an Australian wingman is kind of like having a criminal for an accountant. You might feel proud of yourself, for putting one over on the powers that be, but in the end, it’s not likely to work out very well. Australia is a culture in which drinking, partying, fighting and meat-binging are the norm.

Think about that for a second. All cultures have their oddities. Like the French and their extra-marital affairs, or the Puritans with their hatred of dancing. That’s part of what makes a culture distinct, as we’ve discussed here previously.

But an entire country, nay, Continent, filled with the descendants of law-breakers, all of whom like to get wasted and crash motorcycles? Can you imagine? What would that look like?

I’m so glad you asked.

I’ve just put down “The Christmas Tree Bucket,” by the Australian photographer Trent Parke, so we have a good chance to peek in on things. The book was published by Steidl, which does make me wonder what the production meetings might have looked like. (Perhaps some pursed German lips at the sight of such class-less behavior?)

The title refers to the bucket kept around, presumably, to be grabbed by the next person to vomit on Christmas. At the very least, we do get one photo of the putative subject filled with vile goop. (Has anyone started a satirical Gwyneth Paltrow blog with that title yet? Vile goop?)

One can only imagine the subtitle, “Trent Parke’s Family Album” is a truthful moniker. In which case, the many excellent photos within give us an inkling of what life is like at that time of year. The dude in the Borat suit in front of the open swimming pool reminds that Christmas comes in summer Down Under, and that’s enough to make your head spin. (As opposed the the bed spins. Which I’m sure were in evidence here too.)

Meat on the grill, dead mice on the floorboards, screaming kids, oddly placed blow up dolls, denuded Christmas trees: it’s all here. The run of pictures where everyone’s sleeping was a particular favorite. Great rhythm.

There are a lot of photos in the book, and they all have that hipsterish-off-kilter vibe. The awkwardness of a record store clerk who knows so much about esoteric music, but can’t quite figure out how to ask a girl out. So what does he do? He downs a bottle of Jack Daniels and drives to her house, where he sits in the driveway, idling the car, and scaring the bejeezus out of her dad, who comes out with a shotgun after 45 minutes of wondering who the asshole is on his driveway.

Sorry. I got off topic. That doesn’t actually happen here. But if it did, I’m guessing the father wouldn’t wait 45 minutes to see what’s going on. He’d come out after 90 seconds, with a baseball bat, pull the dude out of his car, beat him senseless, and then ask what the hell he was doing there anyway. Goodonya.

Bottom Line: Absurd Aussie take on Christmas in summer

To Purchase “The Christmas Tree Bucket” 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: John Davis

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 John Davis. His demeanor and professionalism, combined with his creativity and flexibility, make John our top choice for many different types of projects. He has literally turned a cloudy day into a sunny one! His work always exceeds our hopes and it’s a pleasure to review photography knowing that John sets out to deliver something truly impressive.

Wesleyan Student for Wesleyan University Marketing Materials and still to be used in student profile video.

Wesleyan Student for Wesleyan University Marketing Materials and still to be used in student profile video.

Baltimore Musician Katrina Ford of 4AD band Celebration.

Baltimore Musician Katrina Ford of 4AD band Celebration.

Tufts University for Marketing Materials.

Tufts University for Marketing Materials.

CEO of Mayorga Coffee for Inc. Magazine.

CEO of Mayorga Coffee for Inc. Magazine.

Runner for personal project.

Runner for personal project.

Junior Olympic Championships

Junior Olympic Championships

Junior Olympic Championships

Junior Olympic Championships

Student for University Alumni Magazine.

Student for University Alumni Magazine.

This is something we shot for online education company, 2U inc. for their Semester Online Ad Campaign.

This is something we shot for online education company, 2U inc. for their Semester Online Ad Campaign.

This is from an image Library we shot for an East Coast Restaurant chain, The Green Turtle. They were trying to rebrand themselves as more than just a sports bar.

This is from an image Library we shot for an East Coast Restaurant chain, The Green Turtle. They were trying to rebrand themselves as more than just a sports bar.

The Green Turtle

The Green Turtle

From a project, titled Anhinga, that I worked on with Baltimore based video production company, Shine Creative. It was part personal/test and part fashion spec for a Baltimore Vintage Clothing store. Images are in camera double exposures that combine our models with vintage clothing details.

From a project, titled Anhinga, that I worked on with Baltimore based video production company, Shine Creative. It was part personal/test and part fashion spec for a Baltimore Vintage Clothing store. Images are in camera double exposures that combine our models with vintage clothing details.

From a project, titled Anhinga, that I worked on with Baltimore based video production company, Shine Creative. It was part personal/test and part fashion spec for a Baltimore Vintage Clothing store. Images are in camera double exposures that combine our models with vintage clothing details.

From Anhinga

How many years have you been in business?
More or less, 15 years with the requisite assisting overlap.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I started as a Fine Art major at the University of Maine and transferred to The Maryland Institute, College of Art (MICA) where I graduated with a BA in Photography.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I didn’t really have a professional influence until I was already in the flow of the photo assisting world. The business of photography, at least my perception of it at the time, seemed like my only option at the time. I knew I wanted to make a living doing something creative and I had just graduated with a degree in photo so that was that. There were definitely photographers that inspired me, but they were mostly fine artists/teachers of art that didn’t push the business side of things. Helen Levitt, Sally Mann, Emmit Gowin and my first Basic Photo professor at U. Maine were big ones for me artistically. Professionally, I would say Dan Winters and Chris Buck.

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?
Is this a trick question?

I try to keep an open mind and let things happen organically. If I’m shooting a lot of higher ed or people, I’ll force myself to do a multilple exposure light test with still life.

A couple of years ago I decided to work with a consultant to completely overhaul my website and put together a new book. The goal was to steer my business away from a certain kind of client. Within two months of the new site launch I was caught in an avalanche of RFPs to shoot for exactly the clients I was lookin for.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I’ve been pretty lucky. The last few years clients have been mostly on board with my take on things. I think a lot of times they are hiring me because they want me to do what I do best.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Everything. Networking, Direct mail, Email promos, Social Media and other online resources like Wonderful Machine, Photoserve and ASMP Find a Photographer.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
If it’s original it will stand out. If it isn’t, it won’t.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Yes, as often as I can. I wouldn’t be in business right now without it.

How often are you shooting new work?
I’m always making pictures and keep a notebook / Evernote of ideas and images that inspire me. I love a good Moleskin but the Evernote app is great because it syncs across all my computers and devices. Realistically, I try to shoot a project every few months and don’t worry too much about whether the personal projects jive with my current paid gigs. I’m always thinking about how to change things up. I also try to collaborate with other artist friends.

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John is a photographer based in the Baltimore/Washington, DC Corridor and is represented by Wonderful Machine. He specializes in telling stories with images for a wide range of clients, from higher education and advertising to national editorial publications. On his “off” days he keeps busy by training for his next Marathon and photographing his fellow athletes.

You can see more of John’s work and a list of clients here http://www.jdph.com
Contact: john@jdph.com

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

 

The Daily Edit – Julia Fullerton-Batten: Blink

- - The Daily Edit

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Ikebana: Ikebana is commonly known as the Japanese art of flower arrangement and origami the art of folding paper. However, the Korean term for paper folding is ‘ikebana’. In Korea the spiritual aspect of ikebana is considered very important to its practitioners. Things in nature are appreciated. Koreans are inspired to identify with beauty in all art forms. In this image we see a two-fold use of ‘ikebana’, the paper folding and using the end product for decoration of a tree.

 

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Fish: Koreans love raw fish and raw shellfish. They are a staple component of the Korean diet, especially raw fish, ‘hweh’.

Forest:  In this scene the artist skilfully hijacks a hoarding hiding an industrial site that is artistically painted as a forest. Reflecting back to the past, the women are burdened with bundles of wood to fuel the fire at home.

 

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Ladder: Beset by invasions from neighbouring countries, including most recently by North Korea, their blood brothers to the north,  this image symbolises the resistance of the South Korean folk to these attacks.

Harvest: Like its neighbouring countries, Japan, China, and Indochina, Korea is also a tea-drinking country with a rich ceremonial tea culture. In this image Fullerton-Batten captures the impression of Hanbok-clad women harvesting tea in the middle of Seoul. In reality the tea plants are boxwood plants.

 

 

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Rickshaw: For many thousands of years Korea was a single, independent kingdom  and resisted many invasions. But the country was defeated by Japan in 1910 and occupied to the end of WW II in 1945. At the end of the war Korea was divided into two nations, south and North Korea along ideological lines. This image reflects back on the Japanese occupation with a Japanese ‘rickshaw’ being drawn by Korean bearers.

Rope: At the end of WWII Korea was split into two separate nations along ideological persuasions, South Korea and North Korea. Tensions built between the two countries. On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, starting a bloody war that lasted more than 3 years and involving more than 20 countries. The image ‘Rope’ symbolises this war and the continuing political struggles between the two nations in the form of a tug-of-war between the two participating countries.

Blink Magazine

Creative Director: and Founder: Aram Kim
Photographer: Julia Fullerton-Batten

Heidi: What drew you to Korea to create this body of work?
Julia: I was asked to exhibit work from several of my projects and host a ‘talk’ at the Dong Gang Photofestival, curated by Louise Clements and Joanne Junga Yang, title, UK PHOTOGRAPHY NOW: The Constructed View. The Festival is held at several venues in the city of ‘Yeongwol”. I try to organize a personal shoot whenever I am asked to travel somewhere specifically for an exhibition opening. In this instance I decided to extend my stay in Korea by  eight days and complete the planning of my project, as well do an unplanned visit to “Everland” for a shoot there, similar to one I had done in Tokyo on a similar visit several months prior.

Korea has fascinated me for a while now, with its history, and its long term unresolved tensions between North and South Korea. I therefore decided to use this opportunity to combine the Festival with a personal shoot in Seoul. I had quite some time in which to prepare my ideas for the project. This I finally decided would be an attempt to combine the traditions, culture and history of South Korea against the modern architecture of Seoul. I did a lot of research online and also liaised closely with people in Korea.

In the three months of preparation for this project did you work with any native Koreans that had cultural knowledge?
I worked very closely with a local Korean producer, a location finder, local stylists and hair and make-up artists. This cooperation also helped me with ideas for the shots. For one thing, although I had heard of the Hanbok traditional dress before, I had never actually seen it. Many of us in the West are aware of recent Korean history – the Korean war and the current political tensions between South and North Korea, but minor cultural details such as not using green paper for wrapping presents I found by searching on Google.

I also worked with Kim Aram, the editor and owner of the Korean ‘Blink’ Magazine. She helped me find the girls for the shoot by blogging about my visit to Korea on Facebook. We had many responses. Although I didn’t meet the girls until the day of the shoot, I had a lot of contact with them by email beforehand. The props that I used were sourced from prop houses in Korea, as I wanted to give a feel of authenticity.

I took my London assistant, John, with me to Korea as we work very well together and we were able to prepare many details of the shots ahead of time.

You had mentioned you arrived during monsoon season, how difficult was that for you personally and your equipment? 90% humidity seems quite high and yet the women look so cinematic and perfect. What were the obstacles in those conditions?
The date of the Festival was, of course long fixed, and it just happened that it took place in the middle of the Korean monsoon season so there as no way to avoid that at all. Before we flew to Seoul there were heavy rainstorms. I was told that 6 people had sadly been washed away by severe flooding along the river.

Upon arrival in Korea, my producer told me that some locations would be too dangerous to shoot at, and that I would have to rethink my ideas. This was worrying as I had each location, each model and each prop all mapped out in my head. However, I was very lucky as the weather changed and the dangerous areas were opened again by the authorities.  We just needed to go there and see if it was possible to shoot.

I feel now that a lucky star was following me during those intense 5 days of shooting. The rain seemed to hold off until the moment that I put my camera back in its case. On other occasions, we would get up at 4am and it was bucketing down with rain, and I prepared mentally to drop a shot or two. But again, upon reaching the location the weather had miraculously cleared and we could shoot in the dry after all.

The humidity was very tough. As neither John  nor I were used to it, the humidity was quite a challenge for us both. John suffered in particular as there was considerable physical effort involved in moving lighting from one location to another, and in setting up and changing power-sources when daylight changed.

The girls also suffered. They wore layer upon layer of material in their Hanbok dress. Fortunately, we had hired an air- conditioned bus for them to escape into and cool down. I also tried to prepare everything and then get them on to the set at the very last minute.

As you explained, the contrast of the austere backgrounds and Korean traditions is at the core of this work.
On your site  Images 1-8 PERSONAL section 3  it looks as though some were shot during your three month stay. How was your approach to these images different from the Korean traditions body of work? 

 

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I spent two days with my London assistant in a fascinating place called “EVERLAND” We were accompanied by a local assistant from Seoul, who helped to  translate and set up the lighting. Yong-sik Shin from Hasselblad also joined us as he wanted to see me on a shoot and he very kindly organised access to the location, as well as a loan of a Hasselblad camera.

“Everland” is a huge theme park in Yongin, Geyeonggi-do province. It is South Korea’s largest theme park, with about 6.6 million visitors annually. It is a truly spectacular place to visit, filled with fantasy buildings, thrill rides, fairground attractions, African safari bus rides, parades and festivals. I didn’t have enough time to see it all, so I concentrated mostly on one area, the “Caribbean Bay”. I approached this shoot in a totally different way from how I normally arrange a shoot – nothing was planned or organized, we just turned up and walked around (with permission of course!) with a suitcase full of lighting and approached visitors to photograph. It was very refreshing to be more carefree with the approach. This is probably the closest I will get to being a reportage photographer, except when I photograph my boys!

This Week In Photography Books: Linda Fregni Nagler

by Jonathan Blaustein

Have you ever seen “After Life,” the Japanese film by Hirokazu Koreeda? If not, you probably ought to slap it up on your Netflix queue. Or go to the video store, if such things still exist in your neck of the woods.

I saw it some time ago, and it has stuck with me ever since, as its premise bores down deep into your soul, like a groundhog. The idea is that we all get to choose one memory to re-live, forever, in the afterlife. Good movie, sure, but once you hear that concept, who wouldn’t begin to contemplate?

Now that my daughter is beyond the baby stage, there are far more opportunities to stare in wonder at her beauty, as the initial stress chemicals have mostly receded. My son’s a looker too, so I often find myself trying desperately to cherish the time, as it recedes from my grasp.

I often ask myself, might this be the moment?

We all know what I should be doing, right? I need to document the crap out of the next few years. Photos, videos, audio clips. You name it. That’s the done thing. Try to defeat time by selecting moments, culling them from the herd, and permanently enshrining them in binary code.

But I don’t do that as much as I should, because I secretly hope that if I pay enough attention, as it’s happening, I might have the chance to relive one of these brief periods of intense happiness. That blasted film really stuck.

This urge, or impulse, has existed at least since we’ve had cameras. And likely before.

Close your eyes, and you can almost see a bearded man with spectacles looming above you, entreating you to hold still. He smells like a mixture of sweat and tobacco, with a hint of peppery bacon. Then he disappears under a black curtain, and POOF, there is smoke everywhere. You begin to cry, and reach for your mother, who is conveniently beneath you, enveloped by a different black cloth.

What?

That’s the rub, when you look at “The Hidden Mother,” by Linda Fregni Nagler, a new book published by MACK, in conjunction with the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco. From what I could tell from the end notes, it might have also been the Italian pavilion at the Venice Biennale last year. (In case you were wondering.)

There is no text to set up the premise, except the title. They saved the essays, by Massimiliano Gioni and Geoffrey Batchen for the end. To contexualize what you just saw. But is it necessary?

I’d say no. Page after page gives us images of anonymous children, perched upon their hidden Moms. Ghosts, phantasms, KKK figures too stupid to know the proper sheet color, all those ideas pop into your head. But you always know what’s going on. The mothers are there to help the children hold still, as the exposures at the time were most certainly not 1/8000 of a second.

Will the book hold your attention? I can’t really say. It is fascinating and chilling at the same time. All those babies, gone forever. All those memories brought together by a futuristic stranger, so it can be called “Art.”

Is it? Undoubtedly. A compelling project too, if only for the manner in which it so clearly subverts the intentions of the long-dead shrouded sitters. All they wanted was a piece of paper to help them remember what their dear children looked like, when they were little.

I’ve got pictures of my own too. Don’t you worry. You do to, I’m sure. But the act itself, the desire to will something into a memory that will last a lifetime, is the part that makes us human. Because Elephants can’t operate a camera. Right?

Bottom Line: Very interesting archive, creepy and smart

To Purchase “The Hidden Mother” 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: Helen Cathcart

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 Helen Cathcart who is a wonderful talent who deserves greatly to be recognized as she is an incredibly well-rounded photographer who can shoot just anything and make you want to either eat it/visit it/or meet it.

I chased this candy floss seller down Chowpatty beach like a madwoman. I was out there photographing for Mr. Todiwala’s Bombay Cookbook and this image made it onto the cover.

I chased this candy floss seller down Chowpatty beach like a madwoman. I was out there photographing for Mr. Todiwala’s Bombay Cookbook and this image made it onto the cover.

I have photographed backstage for Nicholas Oakwell Couture since his first show. He produces the most beautiful clothes. I love the crescendo that builds up backstage until the models walk out on the runway.

I have photographed backstage for Nicholas Oakwell Couture since his first show. He produces the most beautiful clothes. I love the crescendo that builds up backstage until the models walk out on the runway.

This shot was part of an Australian themed recipe shoot for House and Garden. I have a wonderful picture editor there and he has given me many opportunities in shooting a range of different things for the magazine.

This shot was part of an Australian themed recipe shoot for House and Garden. I have a wonderful picture editor there and he has given me many opportunities in shooting a range of different things for the magazine.

This was an advertorial shot for John Lewis and commissioned by the Guardian. I love to make my images look painterly and was particularly pleased with this one.

This was an advertorial shot for John Lewis and commissioned by the Guardian. I love to make my images look painterly and was particularly pleased with this one.

Conde Nast Traveler US sent me to shoot this amazing hotel in the desert in Israel and my poor friend got roped into donning a swimsuit and posing for me.

Conde Nast Traveler US sent me to shoot this amazing hotel in the desert in Israel and my poor friend got roped into donning a swimsuit and posing for me.

I really like this shot of Derren Brown standing in front of a painting he has done of his father. I think it captures a moment which shows his personality, which is actually quite shy, and also that it showcases the fact that he is an amazing portrait painter which not a lot of people know him for.

I really like this shot of Derren Brown standing in front of a painting he has done of his father. I think it captures a moment which shows his personality, which is actually quite shy, and also that it showcases the fact that he is an amazing portrait painter which not a lot of people know him for.

This is one of my favourite recipe shots of Limbu Pani, which I shot back in London for the Mr. Todiwala Bombay Cook Book.

This is one of my favourite recipe shots of Limbu Pani, which I shot back in London for the Mr. Todiwala Bombay Cook Book.

I absolutely fell in love with the Isle of Skye on this commission. This shot is of a deerstalker on the hunt for some venison.

I absolutely fell in love with the Isle of Skye on this commission. This shot is of a deerstalker on the hunt for some venison.

I shot a lovely book this year which was a bit of a departure for me called ‘The House Gardener’. This was an interior shot from a great location house we used.

I shot a lovely book this year which was a bit of a departure for me called ‘The House Gardener’. This was an interior shot from a great location house we used.

I got up at 4am to go out with Olivier Parpillon on his boat. It was for a feature on Bourget du Lac, a village with 4 Michelin starred restaurants. He supplies them all with Lavaret, a fish only found in that lake.

I got up at 4am to go out with Olivier Parpillon on his boat. It was for a feature on Bourget du Lac, a village with 4 Michelin starred restaurants. He supplies them all with Lavaret, a fish only found in that lake.

This was one of my favourite shots from a Cookbook I shot on recipes from the Amalfi Coast by the Caldesi’s. It was in fact my first of many cookbook’s, commissioned by Hardie Grant who I love working for.

This was one of my favourite shots from a Cookbook I shot on recipes from the Amalfi Coast by the Caldesi’s. It was in fact my first of many cookbook’s, commissioned by Hardie Grant who I love working for.

This image was part of a shoot for a Corney and Barrow Christmas Catalogue. It was the first time I realized the feel I could get if I was shooting in near darkness!

This image was part of a shoot for a Corney and Barrow Christmas Catalogue. It was the first time I realized the feel I could get if I was shooting in near darkness!

How many years have you been in business?
I actually started out as a photo editor for 5 years and when my boss found out I did photography too, he let me commission myself for some features, but I made the leap to full time photographer about 3 years ago.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I did a degree in Photography but I would not attribute that in any way to me making a living from Photography today. It was a very fine art based course with no interest in actually teaching you how to get a job at the end of it. I spent 8 hours a day in the dark room which isn’t very useful to me now. I followed it up with an MA in Design and Art Direction in order to get me out of waitressing and I learnt much more from that!

I gained most of my technical knowledge from two photographers I worked with on my picture desk but mainly I believe you learn on every shoot and that there is a way of seeing things that you can’t really teach.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I was given Eve Arnold’s Book ‘In Retrospect’ my by Aunt when I was quite young. I absolutely loved her style and what she captured and how she had just gone out there and put herself in situations. I think that was definitely my main inspiration that I could be a photographer. Although I don’t shoot fashion, fashion photography always inspired me and especially the early fashion photographers such as Richard Avedon and Herb Ritts.

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 have to say this can be quite difficult when you become busy and are shooting commissioned work all the time. For me I make sure to mix up the work I am doing which is why I shoot a lot of different things.

I am trying to be more strict with myself to shoot more personal work but I made a concerted effort at the end of last year that I was going to take some time away from shooting altogether to get my creativity back. I went to Cape Town for 6 weeks at the start of this year just to get to the light, get into a different way of life, even paint! It was just what I needed.

I find that somehow my work has always been inspired by nature and going back to that always helps me.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Every shoot is so different but this can definitely happen. At the end of the day you and the creative are usually on the same page so you will try to push the boundaries as much as possible. A lot of it is about dealing with people and explaining your point of view on the shoot. Almost selling it I guess. Once they see what I am doing they usually go with it. I have very rarely felt restricted and having been on the photo editor side of things I think I can see things from both sides quite well.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
It is sometimes so hard to find time to update the buying audience on your work but so important. I try to do a little newsletter every so often. I use instagram a lot and I have a blog that I like to show personal work and recent shoots, and this goes out to art buyers I have worked with and would like to work with.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
I think you can easily slip into this, especially because it is very important to listen to what the buyer has asked for and make sure they get it, but I have always found that when you produce something that is entirely your point of view and you are really happy with it, it is usually different to anything else and that is the work attracts other work.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I’m not shooting for myself as often as I would like. I really want to get a film camera so that when I shoot for myself it doesn’t feel like work, it feels completely different. I find it takes me a few days to unwind, not shooting at all for me to see things for myself again so I try to block out days where I don’t take commissions for this to happen. I get a lot of inspiration from travel though and this usually keeps my work fresh. I have been planning for ages to shoot behind the scenes at a strip club but can’t find any strippers! If anyone knows any, let me know!

How often are you shooting new work?
At the moment I’m shooting almost every day. I love what I do and keep getting commissions that I love which are very hard to say no to!

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Helen specialises in photographing food, travel, interiors and portraits. She started her career as a photo director, followed by freelance picture editing and photo direction on various news stand titles including British Vogue. After a move to Sydney she made the transition to full time photographer and now shoots for numerous magazines and brands and has photographed a number of cookbooks. Helen is currently based in London.
www.helencathcart.com
www.helencathcart.blogspot.com
twitter and Instagram: @helencathcart

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.

Pricing & Negotiating: Book Cover For Politician’s Memoir

by Craig Oppenheimer Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Seamless and environmental portraits of a prominent politician.

Licensing: Use of up to two images on the front/back cover of a book with a print run of up to 200,000.

Location:  A state capitol building in the Northeast.

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Corporate and portraiture specialist

Client: Large publishing company

Here is the estimate:

estimate_redacted

Concept/Licensing:            

The publishing company was working with an active politician to create and distribute his memoir, and they asked the photographer to capture a few seamless and environmental portraits for the front and back covers. The assignment was pretty straightforward, but they needed the shoot to take place within a few days in a non-local city to the photographer, and given the subject, we knew that the photographer would have very little time to actually shoot the subject. These factors put upward pressure on the fee since it required a skilled photographer to work in these conditions and complete the project within a very tight timeframe.

The photographer completed a nearly identical project for the same publisher a few years ago, and while he couldn’t recall the print run of the book, the publisher agreed to a fee of $8,500 plus expenses. A quick chat with the publisher’s art director led me to believe that they were willing to pay the same amount this time, but they hoped to keep the bottom line around $15,000. The fee sounded healthy for the print run, but it did include two images, and I anticipated that their contract might include rights that would put additional upward pressure on an appropriate fee.

Just for reference, I did check the fee against a few pricing resources. Corbis suggested a rate of $1,258, but their options max out at a print run of 30,000. For a print run higher than 30,000, they ask that you contact them. Getty suggested $2,325 for a print run of up to 250,000 including electronic distribution, and Fotoquote suggested a rate up to $2,835 for a similar print run. If I didn’t know what the publishing company paid previously, I may have priced the two images around $2,750 each, and then added on a creative fee of a few thousand dollars, which happens to bring the fee close to $8,500. This (along with previous experience) reassured me that the fee was appropriate.

Photographer Travel/Pre-Production: The photographer planned to fly to the location the day before the shoot, and since the actual shooting time would likely wrap before noon, he planned to catch a flight back that same day. Additionally, he’d spend a considerable amount of time beforehand to coordinate his crew and make travel arrangements. We figured that getting there and back would add up to a full day, and added on a second day to account for the pre-production.

Assistants: Both assistants would be driving to the location from a major metropolitan city, but since the location was still a good distance from them, we figured they’d drive up the night before the shoot as well (bringing us to one shoot day, and two half-travel days). The first assistant would be responsible for renting an SUV and coordinating the equipment rental, so we added an extra day at a lower rate for him to do so beforehand.

Hair/Makeup Stylist: This is typically much lower than the rate I’d include for a hair/makeup stylist, but they were local to the remote location and offered to work a half day at this rate. We originally anticipated that the stylist would travel in with the assistants, and I’d typically anticipated a day-rate of up to $1,200 if that was the case. However, I wasn’t going to argue with the local stylist’s rate, especially since we knew the travel expenses would likely put us over the client’s suggested budget of $15,000.

SUV Rental: This covered three days to rent a large SUV big enough for the two assistants and the equipment ($475), fuel ($100) and insurance ($125).

Lodging: While we probably could have gotten away with a cheap hotel around $100/night (or less), we anticipated having to pay higher rates since the reservations would be made just a day before traveling. I figured $200/night for three rooms would be plenty.

Equipment Rental: The photographer would bring his camera and a minimal amount of gear, but the first assistant would still need to pick up a backup body with multiple lenses ($500), a roll of paper and stands for the seamless backdrop ($100), as well as various lighting/grip equipment including backups ($1,500). The backup equipment pushed the rental fees up a bit, but when you only have a few minutes with a subject, you better be prepared if your equipment fails.

Airfare: Rates for flights were about $500, and I anticipated paying $50 in baggage fees both ways.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the time it would take the photographer to download, edit, color process, rename files and deliver a web gallery for the publisher to review.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: The photographer would further process the two final images that the publisher selected, and he anticipated it taking less than an hour per image.

Miles, Parking, Meals, Taxi, Misc.: I included a $75/day/person “per diem” to cover meals for the photographer and his assistants for both the travel and shoot days ($450 total), as well as $100 for the taxi the photographer would take to/from the airport and $200 for unanticipated miscellaneous expenses.

Results: Despite the fact that our estimate was above their suggested budget, the photographer was quickly awarded the job and completed the assignment two days later. While the publisher signed our estimate/terms, they also provided us with the following contract:

contract_original_Redacted

The formatting and organization of the contract was a bit confusing, and it seemed like a combination of a “fill in the blank” document (a lot of which was already filled out by the art director) and a “choose your own adventure” novel (especially section 4). In addition to some reformatting, I made the following changes:

- I noted that there would be 2 selected final images

- In section 4, I clarified that they’d pay the photographer $10,000 (his creative/licensing fee plus his travel/pre-production fees) plus expenses.

- I initially clarified that the rights included in section 5 were for a print run of up to 200,000. However, the publisher’s rights manager preferred to not include that language. He said “occasionally [we] exceed our estimates, and we do not want to find ourselves in violation of the terms of our own agreement if the book surpasses expectations.” We were willing to remove the language about the print run, but I wanted the photographer to benefit from the use of his photos in future editions (including foreign language editions) of the book. I revised this section to state that they can use the photos in the “initial English language edition” only. It could be printed and distributed abroad, but not in any other language.

- Further down in section 5, they asked to detail a pre-determined rate for subsequent paperback editions. We noted that the photographer would receive 50% of his creative/licensing fee for use of his photos on the first English language paperback trade or mass-market editions of the book. This was based on the agreed upon percentage from his previous project with the publisher, plus our experience and knowledge of other publishing contracts.

- Lastly, I noted in section 7 that the photographer would retain self-promotional rights to the images.

Here is the revised version of the contract:

contract_revised_Redacted

The publishing company accepted our revisions, and the book will be in stores within the next few months.

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.

The Daily Edit – Angela Cappetta: Built on Toil Promo Piece

- - The Daily Edit

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Built on Toil

Designer: Liron Kormas, Kormas Studio

Dancers: Joffrey Ballet School

Photographer: Angela Cappetta

What inspired you to develop this body of work, is ballet in your background?
I trained until I was about 20 but was never professionally serious about it.  Since I live nearby, I’d see the dancers everyday.  At the deli, coffee shop, drug store.  I wanted to photograph them in their environment, but that was all I knew. So one day I sat down and wrote a letter to the director of the Joffrey.

Included was a project statement for pictures which didn’t exist yet. It was called: Built on Toil, which likened the trainees to soldiers doing a job under command of a general. I saw it clearly: TriX and a 6×9 punched up with the bare bulb of a Lumedyne. All I needed was for him to say yes. Later that day he wrote back (I almost fell off my chair.)

He explained that as he is bombarded with requests from photographers he customarily says no. However, he was so struck by the clarity of the proposal, he offered complete access for as long as I wanted. The next day I started, and continued for two years.

Is your intent an art book or self published piece?
At first, I just wanted to photograph, but now that its been a few years, I’ve roughed up the prints in my darkroom and have a better idea of how the pictures should look.

The current promotional piece, designed by Liron Kormas of Kormas Studio, for now, is the bridge between this and a future book, which I’ll work on next.  This iteration of the project was entirely Liron’s idea.  She asked me if she could design it and I jumped at the chance.  She’s brilliant.

How do you think your images express discipline before maturity, as that is normal practice in ballet to start at such a young age?
Discipline is something that has to be cultivated very early in order to shape any athlete.  In that regard, it’s a very adult series of decisions to be physically and mentally challenged so seriously.  Then, the dancers grow into the discipline, and they decide what their aspirations are.  Some continue training, others start auditioning.  One of the trainees from the Joffrey got a job in the touring cast of Cats right out of conservatory, another dances with a company full time.  They aren’t all that lucky but I don’t think that matters to them.

Were the dancers self conscious around you?
I’ll admit there was a lot of me trying not to get kicked in the head. But these are consummate professionals.  That’s part of their training.  An elephant could drop in the center of that studio and they wouldn’t break focus. On the floor in the middle of their routines with my gear in their faces, they’d glide around me.

What tools did you use to break into their inner circle?
The dancers were incredibly gracious.  They welcomed me.  I’m still in touch with them.  I even cast one as a model for an upcoming editorial.

How long has this this body of work taken you to shoot?
It was a two year shooting project and another year of printing. But it percolated years before that.

What did you learn about drive and determination from these dancers?
I’m interested in photographing the fundamental basis of life as it is meaningful to that particular journey.  The takeaway from every project is different.  This one was a parallel to my own daily discipline to live an artist’s life.  You’re in it or you aren’t.  If you’re not completely, totally 100% there, then you shouldn’t even bother.

Seeing the dancers working together reminded me that having a community of respectable colleagues is important at any stage of development.  Some of them would show up at night, go into an empty studio, push play, and hit their routines hard, just to do it.  It was beautiful to watch.

When I was in my darkroom. I’d see that determination in the tray and something would amp up inside of me and I’d readdress how the print looked or what I wanted from it. It was infectious.  I’d look at my feet, which were in fifth position.

Getty Images Are Now Free For Online Editorial Use

- - Stock, Working

Last week news broke that Getty Images was making the majority of its collection available for editorial and acedemic embedding as long as they can append a footer at the bottom of the picture. The Verge reported that according to Craig Peters, a business development exec at Getty Images the ship sailed long ago as far as trying to prevent unauthorized use of their images online (story here) and their “content was everywhere already”.

Peter Krogh of The DAM Book has a different take on the situation. He speculates that the Carlyle Group, the private equity firm that has majority ownership of Getty is looking to cash out before a 1.2 billion dollar loan comes due in 2016 and given that Getty’s 2011 revenue was $900 million their profit is likely a small fraction of that and so they need to do something quickly to increase the value of the company.

Peter goes on to theorize that the whole embedding business is about gathering information which I agree can be more valuable than money to investors. You should read his entire post here: http://thedambook.com/getty-did-what

You only have to look the Facebook purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp or the stock price of Twitter to understand that users are more valuable than revenue. So I think Getty is going to get on the user bandwagon by allowing free use of their images. What’s crazy about everyone getting on the user bandwagon is they all have the same plan to make money in the end: advertising. I think some simple math will prove that adding up all the minutes spent on an application times the current ad rates does not equal the valuation all these companies supposedly have. Getty is very late to a game of chicken with companies that have a tiny fraction of the overhead. All signs point to a writedown for the Carlyle Group in 2016.

Roger Fenton Crimean War

In the sixth grade, we did a project on the cultural traditions of a foreign country. We had to write reports in our chicken-scratch-children’s penmanship, and some kids cooked food as well. One Korean student brought in some Bul Go Gi, and it was delicious.

I ended up with Yugoslavia, about which I knew next to nothing. Fortunately, a family friend had started importing Yugos to the US, so at least I could talk about that.

A less-than-educated young person might reasonably ask, “What is Yugoslavia?” Or, rather, “Where is Yugoslavia?” Because it doesn’t exist on the map, I can assure you.

Most of us know, of course, that Yugoslavia was a created 20th Century entity, a post-war land mush that brought together some version of Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and probably a few territories I’m neglecting. They’re still around, of course, as are the people who live there. But the country, the geo-political entity, is dead.

Similarly, I just read a piece in the New Yorker that was nominally about the television industry in Turkey. (Yes, I’ve officially become the kind of guy who references the New Yorker all the time.) I say nominally, because the real subject was the manner in which the Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is highlighting historical connections to the vast and powerful Ottoman Empire, rather than the small and relatively weak Turkish republic that was built, again post-war, by Ataturk.

Closer to home, I can tell you that here in New Mexico, there are certain people, whose ancestors have been here for generations, who resent the mass culture of the United States. You can occasionally feel tension in the air. Why? I might point to the fact that the US essentially annexed New Mexico. Or stole it, if you will. And that was only shortly after the land was called Mexico, having recently freed itself from the country called Spain.

What I’m trying to say here, if you haven’t caught the gist, is that history is all about the long view. Names change, but dirt doesn’t. (Unless it’s being violated to reach its mineral goodies, but that’s another rant for a different day.)

The big news, in our age, is that we are all hyper-aware of what is going on everywhere, all the time. That is a radical change to the way we live our lives. So big, in fact, that no one has had the chance to really process the results of the shift.

But we see the effects every day. Take Crimea, for instance. A week ago, that word might have been meaningless to you. (I say might, as I’m aware that this audience is highly educated and up-to-date.) Now everyone knows it as a territory in the country called Ukraine that was just invaded by a country called Russia.

Russia? We’ve all heard of that place. Except when I was young, it was called the Soviet Union, and included the country now (and formerly) known as Ukraine. Names change, but greed and aggressive behavior do not. They are, and I’d venture to say will always be, a part of human nature.

When we look at a globe, or a map, it seems so permanent. Built or plotted, the objects refer to information with a sense of certainty. This is here, that is there. If you go too far in one direction, you might fall off the face of the Earth. (Sorry, forgot that one has been debunked already.)

Of course, we know that the information encoded in maps changes all the time. They’re no more accurate than a restaurant menu from 10 years ago. That’s just the way it is.

We live these dramas in real time, and the pain, misery, and tragedy they engender are not to be made light of. I feel for the people who die in wars, or who die from lack of clean water, or who have to watch their family members killed by horrible forces of darkness that will never face retribution. (Until they do, one, two or three generations down the line.)

The point is, (should I actually have one,) that we’re now judging the news on a minute to minute basis, but the root causes of said “news” go back decades, centuries, or millennia. And that is the kind of information least served by Social Media. You couldn’t possibly know about the Taos revolt that killed Governor Charles Bent in 1847, just like I don’t know who ruled Crimea before the Soviets.

Sure, we have access to so much information via Google, but that’s not the same thing as genuine, lived, history. It’s just not.

So while I could easily mock the monster Putin, and put this all on him, it seems too simplistic. He is the unchallenged leader of a country that has long lived with strongmen, and has a history of territorial aggression. Anyone who was surprised by his behavior wasn’t paying attention.

How many non-Americans might point to the US invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent removal of Saddam Hussein? How many people might suggest the situations parallel? I couldn’t say, but I’m sure they’re out there. (And some of them probably work for the Russian propaganda agency.)

I can’t tell you who ruled Crimea in the 19th Century, and I can’t tell you how this latest crisis will play itself out. If I could, I’d be working for Obama by now.

But I can tell you that sometime in 2013, I had a unique experience in which I got to see, first-hand, what a shitstorm looked like in Crimea in the aforementioned 19th Century. How was that possible? (I bet you’ll guess it’s through the wonder of photography…)

In September, I paid a brief visit to the Prints and Photographs division at the Library of Congress. The Library actually functions like one, which is a bit of a shock. It’s free, and anyone can come in and personally request to “check out” work from the collection.

So I did.

I was handed a stack of plastic-protected prints by the famed, and perhaps brilliant photographer Roger Fenton. I’ve written of him previously, as he stole the show at the “War/Photography” exhibition I saw last year in Houston.

It was a rare pleasure to get to look at the pictures, to hold them in my hands, and connect visually and viscerally to a strange place in a time that had passed away into non-existence. Rare only because I live far from Washington, DC. If you live on the East Coast of the US, you could go often, and look at work not on the wall, but in your immediate physical space.

What did I learn about Crimea, or at least about a slice of the Crimean War?

Look at the collection of rebels, rapscallions, roughnecks, and killers. They obviously come from all over the world, as the costumes will attest. There are a lot of dirty faces, scruffy beards, and hardened tough guys. My goodness.

We can see it’s a desolate place, or was. And we can guess that any conflict with that many warring parties must be messy, confusing, and dangerous. Why would they all be there, fighting? My first guess would be that there’s something of value? Natural resources, maybe? Oil?

Or just as likely, it probably has a geographical significance. Control of a major body of water? Access to a port, or a military high ground? Maybe some or all of these things, as you wouldn’t get a global crusade of treasure-loving-war mongers fighting against each other in a god-forsaken land for nothing.

That’s the lesson we can learn, when we engage with history. Our troubles and triumphs are not as unique as we’d like to believe. Occasionally, I admit I’ll get caught up in the moment. The Arab Spring was such a time.

The optimism blinded me to the reality: Men with guns rule the day. They always have, and they always will. The best we can achieve is a society where the rule of law dictates who gets to use the guns, and when. We have that here in America, and I get to live in peace. (For which I am extremely grateful.)

But we too have been an imperial power, and unspeakable evil has been committed in our name. In the name of Freedom.

So let’s all hope that this latest international crisis ends swiftly, and well. Let’s hope the people of Crimea can go back to a more peaceful existence, and that the Russian tanks roll back to Moscow.

But I won’t be holding my breath. That’s for sure.

Calvary camp, looking towards Kadikoi

Calvary camp, looking towards Kadikoi

Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Burghersh, C.B.

Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Burghersh, C.B.

General Cissé, chief of the staff to General Bosquet, & aide-de-camp

General Cissé, chief of the staff to General Bosquet, & aide-de-camp

Colonel Doherty, officers & men of the 13th Light Dragoons

Colonel Doherty, officers & men of the 13th Light Dragoons

Ismail Pacha on horseback, with Turkish officers

Ismail Pacha on horseback, with Turkish officers

Zoave and officer of the Saphis

Zoave and officer of the Saphis

Cornet Wilkin, 11th Hussars

Cornet Wilkin, 11th Hussars

Balaklava, from Guard's Hill

Balaklava, from Guard’s Hill

Lieutenant Yates, 11th Hussars

Lieutenant Yates, 11th Hussars

The valley of the shadow of death

The valley of the shadow of death

Art Producers Speak: Topher Cox

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 Creative Director: I nominate Topher Cox. His book pretty much speaks for itself.

Mike Stoddard.  Rodeo series

Mike Stoddard. Rodeo series

Personal work

Personal work

Philips Healthcare.  All actors

Philips Healthcare. All actors

Alex S.

Alex S.

Cut Flowers

Cut Flowers

Black Angels Project

Black Angels Project

Charlie Vagabond, Skater, Travler

Charlie Vagabond, Skater, Travler

Philips Healthcare, All Actors

Philips Healthcare, All Actors

Philips Healthcare, All Actors

Philips Healthcare, All Actors

Playball Foundation, MMB

Playball Foundation, MMB

Wilnor Tereau, Haitian Footballer

Wilnor Tereau, Haitian Footballer

Welder, Maine, Bangor Savings Bank

Welder, Maine, Bangor Savings Bank

Cybex International

Cybex International

Bombay Beach, CA.  Post shoot walkabout.  If you have not been there yet you must go now before it is gone!!!!

Bombay Beach, CA. Post shoot walkabout. If you have not been there yet you must go now before it is gone!!!!

How many years have you been in business?

When did I start. Hmmm, hard to say. I would say it has been a good 7 years now. Before that I was a freelance photo assistant, which is a whole business in itself. Shooting for your self while helping others out. That got me ready to break out on my own. It taught me a thing or two… or three.

My folks told me I was helping at my dad’s studio before I could walk.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?

I took a couple of classes (thank you Mr. Simon, TR and Doc), but I guess you could say I am mostly self-taught. I grew up in the photography business. My father was a photographer and my mother was the art director at Cosmopolitan Magazine. So my nursery was my father’s studio, and then when I got a bit older I would go to my mom’s office and play with my toys on the floor as my mother and Helen Gurley Brown would be looking at slides on the light box above me. I would go hang out on shoots all the time as a kid. I would watch and learn. That was my school. Not only how to shoot, but how to work with people.

I went to school and studied Psychology at Syracuse University. During the summers I would work as a photo assistant, studio aide, and stylist assistant. It was a great way to see the business from all sides. After graduation I busted my ass as a photo assistant for a long time. I went all over the world carrying camera bags and such. That’s an education!

One time I had a photo student ask me a bunch of things about the strobes and ratios, f stops etc. Sure, I know all that, but I told him, “brother, when it is too dark I turn them up, and when it is too bright I turn them down”. I think education is really important, but owning what you know and putting it to use is what is really important.

I did a short stint working at MTV. That taught me a lot about making budgets, the corporate life, and being in a cubicle for 8 hours a day.

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

As I said previously, I grew up in it. It was kind of the family business it is the business I know. I still had to make my way up the ladder. No one handed anything to me.

So I wouldn’t say it was any one person, it was all the photographers I knew as a kid. I loved what they did.
Funny thing is that when I told a bunch of them that I was going to be a photographer they all suggested I do otherwise. They told me the photo days of the 80′s and 90′s were long gone. It is true, but it is whole new era….an exciting one.
I love to keep it simple. I have always loved the work of Richard Avedon, Paolo Roversi, Bruce Weber, and Irving Penn.

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?

One thing I love is the opportunities of the digital era and how technology is constantly changing and improving things. I can shoot stills for a client and shoot video at the same time. That way their stills and video match in style and vision exactly. They love it, I love it. I get to see my photos come to life in video.

You have to look around you all the time, see what is out there, look online, look in magazines, see what you love and try to bring it to your vision. Make it your own. Growing up in NYC everything was constantly changing, I think you have to do that with yourself. Reinvent yourself all the time, but keep your true self in there.

One thing about photography is that it takes you to places that you would otherwise never go and meet people you would never meet. I find that to be so inspiring. Every model or subject has a story, every place has something new to offer. I find inspiration there.

Photography has taken me all over the world. It has shown me so many things and opened so many doors.
If I go somewhere on location for work I make sure to get up early and stay up late to wander around. I am lucky to be there, and I find inspiration from what is around me at all times.

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

My job is to take what the client and creatives want, and translate that into my photography. I have to bring all that info and pull it down to a moment in time that may last 1/1000th of a second. That is my job. “Hold me back”, no, I want to give them what they want. I want to make them happy. Making them happy inspires me. If you feel they are holding you back I feel you have to rethink what you are doing. Sure, this is art, this is vision, this is a piece of you…..but this is also work and a job. And your (my) job is to give them what they want….and maybe show them something they didn’t know they wanted. You can always do it both ways, your way, and their way. Then they can look to see what they like best. I did that for a big client of mine. I would shoot the way they wanted and then I would shoot the way I wanted. In the end, they liked my vision more. Now when you look at all their photography it is in my style. That didn’t happen over night, but over time they changed and reinvented their image. If you really get frustrated, then do some work on the side for yourself….which you should be doing anyway.
I hear about photographers who are difficult to work with or get mad at everyone on set. What is that!? We are so lucky to do what we love for a living. We should get down and kiss the ground every day to be thankful. Hold me back, ha, I should be throwing rose petals at their feet as they walk into their office everyday for giving me the opportunity to live like I do. Right now I am sitting in my sun filled studio next to my sleeping dog while my kids are healthy and happy at school and my wife is at work….I have nothing to complain about. My work gave me this….and my clients gave me this.

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

The internet is an amazing thing. You can show your work to folks all the time. You can show them things in bits and pieces. Over time they will remember you.
I hated carrying my portfolios around from place to place. I would pick them up and realize that no one had even opened them up. That sucks….BUT, you have to keep picking yourself up and keep going. Some will give up and some will make it.
AND….I have an agent:-) She is great at getting my work out there. It really helps to have someone give you a kick in the ass too when you are feeling down. She knows the ins and outs of how things work.

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

OK, Here is where I am supposed to say “be true to yourself”, right?. Yes, be true to yourself. Make your style. Refine that style. Show that style.

BUT… remember there is A LOT of money riding on these shoots. There is so much time put into them before you even came into the project. Clients are quick to move on if they don’t like the work. There are a lot of other options out there. SO, they also have to see that you can do what THEY need.

I had a client tell me the other day that last year was their best year in sales ever and that it had a lot to do with my photos. Holy crap! How happy did that make me feel! That is also a lot of pressure. Better sales mean that they can keep all their workers and stay open. All those workers can keep their jobs and feed their families. Not only here where they make the product, but also all over the world where the parts are made or the metal is …wait…how do they make metal?
Anyway you get the idea. You have to show yourself in the work, but that work also has to work for them.

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

Of course. I love to shoot. The money is the bonus. With digital there should not be anything holding you back from shooting everyday. There was a time when I had my fridge stocked with film. I was limited by choosing to eat or processing my film. Now, you can shoot, shoot, shoot.
It doesn’t have to be a big production. You can keep your camera next to your bed and shoot before your feet hit the floor if that is your thing. But it is fun to put something all together and see it come to life.

How often are you shooting new work?

All the time. And even that isn’t enough. Shoot to live, Live to shoot.
If It is not on a CF card yet, it is in my head. Sleeping can be difficult at times because you are thinking about what you want to shoot and how you are going to make that happen.

——————-

Topher Cox grew up in New York and now lives outside of Boston. No longer a huge rock star in Japan, he lives in a house with a white picket fence with his wife, two kids, and a dog. No minivan yet.

They all get back to NYC often for work, friends, and family.

Topher is represented by Katherine Hennessy at www.kate-company.com.
His work can be seen there and on his website www.tophercox.com

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

The Daily Edit- Backstage Magazine: Stephanie Diani

- - The Daily Edit

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Backstage

Creative Director: Robert Wilson
Art Director: William Scalia
Photographer: Stephanie Diani

Heidi: How often do you work with Backstage?
Stephanie: The creative director of Backstage, Rob Wilson, and I have worked together on a number of shoots in the last few months and he emailed me with several possible opportunities for cover projects in early January. Gillian’s cover was set for my first free day so we confirmed the shoot date a week or two before talking about concepts.
Rob is awesome in that he encourages me to do my thing, but gives me enough direction that I have a starting point or a vibe for the story. I will generally browse through my file of “I want to shoot this” images and send him a half dozen ideas and we’ll narrow it down from there.
I was pleased that of the three images I liked most, two were selected for print. Here’s the outtake:
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What sort of art direction did you get?
The first direction he suggested was bright and poppy so, after researching Gillian a bit and getting an idea of how she might photograph best, I sent him some high key portraits samples with bright wardrobe and soft light; a few were shot against vintage-y colorful patterned wallpaper. In all of the lookbook images, however, wardrobe played a vital role and, as there wasn’t budget for a stylist, he suggested we change direction and go for a simple George Hurrell/old Hollywood style that would be more dependent upon lighting and hair and makeup.
I’m a fan of noir films, and I’d been wanting to shoot something moody with one or two lights and a fresnel spot, so it was an easy yes for me. We traded photographs of Judy Garland, Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich and he ironed out the when and where (the Backstage magazine studio, aka conference room) with Ms. Jacob’s agent and publicist.

 

Did you know you were only going to have 10 minutes?
The week of the shoot Rob asked how long I’d need and if I could get some variations in twenty to thirty minutes. [ it was ten minutes for the cover, ten minutes for a second option.] I said sure no problem, but asked if I could arrive two hours ahead to set up in order to be totally ready for her. 
 
What sort of prep did you do and what did you learn from this job?
The night before the photoshoot I picked up a Profoto fresnel head and a roller stand at Samy’s and set it all up in the living room of our apartment to run some tests. 
 
Lesson #1: It’s difficult to focus a fresnel spotlight on yourself while also shooting the tests because it’s such a precise light source. 
Lesson #2: It’s not just the fresnel that creates narrow shafts of light, it’s also a matter of flagging the hell out of a set. Even at its most focused, with the attached barn doors shut pretty tight, the spread of light was greater than what I wanted.
The test session, though I was wetly glowing from running back and forth between the camera, the fresnel and the subject’s chair, was invaluable and my assistant and I had everything set up in under an hour the next day. Rob and I had discussed using the images in black and white, but I decided to bring the mocha seamless because if they decided to use the shot in color it would provide a neutral but warm-toned palette for her fair skin.
How did you approach the subject, I’d imagine it was a greet and then right down to business with little time to settle in with talent.
She arrived right on time with her publicist, and hair and make up artists, pretty much camera-ready. We decided on bare arms and shoulders because the wardrobe she was wearing was a tad perkier than the look of the shot. She was prepared and focused and immediately channeled old Hollywood.
I was shooting tethered so Rob and Gillian’s people could get a sense of what we were getting, and my assistant tweaked the spot and held a reflector as needed. Halfway through I asked her to lounge back onto a chaise to give Rob a similar but slightly different second option. He asked to see everything afterwards, and ended up using three shots in the article, one in black and white. He also designed the graphics for the cover and the article.
Please enjoy the story here

This Week In Photography Books: John Divola

I gave a whopper of a lecture the other week. I tied together the Bering Straight land bridge, the Big Bang, the Lascaux cave paintings, and Mayan creation mythology. Unfortunately, I was too distracted to bring the tape recorder.

C’est la vie.

I like to dive into the idealism of art making, early in the semester, as my high-school-aged students are suckers for the big picture. Teenagers and idealism go together like teenagers and drinking. Or sex.

High School kids love a good rebel. It’s why James Dean and Kurt Cobain will continue to age well; their attic portraits never falling behind the real thing. I’d further venture that America is just one big rebellion factory.

Don’t tread on me. No trespassing. Violators will be shot. Fight the power. (Seriously, though, has anyone made the connection to black leather gloves and major events in African-American history?)

Our program at UNM-Taos, in which I teach college level fine art to younger students, goes over well in general. We talk about how the spirit of rebellion inhabits art practice. What is the conventional way of doing things, and how can we subvert it?

If eye-level dominates reality, why not put the camera on the ground? Or in a mail-box? Or how about photographing your Uncle behind his back, because you’re not supposed to have your phone while herding cattle?

It was fun to talk with them last week about the latest Ai Weiwei controversy. Have you seen the story? Some dude in Miami that no one ever heard of smashed one of Ai Weiwei’s re-purposed Han Dynasty urns, in the middle of an art museum. Right in front of the photos of Ai Weiwei smashing a different Han Dynasty urn.

The meta-worm ate its tail that day. Without a doubt.

How would the great Chinese artist react? What would he say?

Apparently, he differentiated the acts by the fact that he owned what he crashed, while the public smasher destroyed someone else’s property. He found flaw in the logic, but he seemed sanguine about the whole thing, saying “I’m O.K. with it, if a work is destroyed. A work is a work. It’s a physical thing. What can you do? It’s already over.” (Vulture, 02.18.14)

Where were we? I think I’ve even lost myself for the first time. Right. The perfectly-snarled-Elvis-Pressley-lip curl, or the dead-eyed-Eastwood-crows-feet squint that is the ultimate brand of American rebellion. What are YOU looking at?

I just got that sense out of a photo book, and am excited to share tales of its innards with you now: “As Far as I Could Get,” a new book by John Divola, published by Prestel, and organized by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Boy, did I not have a sense of this guy. In my head, I thought of the lone house series. Single structures surrounded by our under-appreciated Western natural resource: empty desert space. Cool, but nothing I hadn’t seen with my own eyes many times, out here.

This book is of the career-arc sort, to go along with an exhibition, so you get to see a range of interesting divergences. Or maybe a set of randomly chaotic and irreverent dalliances with the California style? It’s funny and surreal and literal all at the same time.

It seems Mr. Divola was a contemporary of Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari and those guys, and studied under Robert Heinecken at UCLA. So there is a similar progressive spirit embodying these pictures. They’re genuinely excellent, so leafing through the pages was like discovering that it was Mike Nesmith who was the creative heart of the Monkees all along. (Or that Bon Scott originally fronted ACDC. If that’s out there, what else might be out there?)

In one series, from which the book gets it title, the artist put the camera on timer and sprinted as fast as he could into the landscape. What? Hilarious and poignant. Rare double double.

My favorite, should I care to choose, was definitely “Zuma.” These odd, discomfiting interiors in a shit-box abandoned house on the California Coast are juxtaposed against the perfection of the Pacific. Wow.

I’ve never done a lick of graffiti in my life, so these pictures made me feel a bit of the joy in destruction. Was there any urination involved? What would you wager?

In a smart interview with the Tate’s Simon Baker, Mr. Divola admits his black orb graffiti paintings descend from Kazmir Malevich. It’s a fantastic and appropriate connection, the California vandal and the Russian Suprematist.

OK. It was a long one this week. I’ll wrap it up tight. Excellent book. Great work. And another lesson that no matter how much art we’ve seen, there will always be something new to discover. You just need to keep your eyes open.

Bottom Line: Excellent exhibition catalogue, very cool work

To Purchase “As Far as I Could Get” 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: Vytautas Serys

- - Art Producers Speak

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

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Vytautas Serys. His landscapes are outstanding, his last show in Berlin has received complements (even though it was packed) and atmosphere during the opening was just great.

"Winter's Fairytale" - chilly moonlit lanscape in Sweden

“Winter’s Fairytale” – chilly moonlit lanscape in Sweden

"Warm in the Cold" - colds of Sweden, published by National Geographic

“Warm in the Cold” – colds of Sweden, published by National Geographic

"Sunscarf" - soft tones in Antelope Canyon, USA

“Sunscarf” – soft tones in Antelope Canyon, USA

"Mosaic" - colours of Iceland that soon landed on the pages of GEO

“Mosaic” – colours of Iceland that soon landed on the pages of GEO

"Monumental Sunset" - soft sunset tones in Monument Valley, USA

“Monumental Sunset” – soft sunset tones in Monument Valley, USA

"Man and Sea" - Atlantic coast in Portugal

“Man and Sea” – Atlantic coast in Portugal

"Majestic" - grandness of nature in Iceland

“Majestic” – grandness of nature in Iceland

"Gentle Touch of a Cloud" - rainy day in Iceland

“Gentle Touch of a Cloud” – rainy day in Iceland

"Eye of the Earth" - otherworldly colors in Yellowstone National Park, USA

“Eye of the Earth” – otherworldly colors in Yellowstone National Park, USA

"Deep Painter's Dream" - magical greys in Yosemite National Park, USA

“Deep Painter’s Dream” – magical greys in Yosemite National Park, USA

"Blue Eyed" - playful blossoms in Lithuania

“Blue Eyed” – playful blossoms in Lithuania

"At the Foot" - big lake near bigger mountains in Canada

“At the Foot” – big lake near bigger mountains in Canada

"Artwalk" - interactive art installation in Maastunnel, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

“Artwalk” – interactive art installation in Maastunnel, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

"A Look to the Past" - passing a little hill in Lithuania

“A Look to the Past” – passing a little hill in Lithuania

How many years have you been in business?

Technically, it all started with my first camera, which was a present for my 10th birthday. It got stuck in my hands and has been there ever since. There was only one button, but it was enough to land me the role of photographer in our 4th grade fashion show. When referring to income generating photography, since 2012.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?

Both. I began as a teenager in an effort to achieve images that would be at as good as on postcards seen in shops. Then it became about creating something more. Later, I started attending various classes and university courses. I also studied myself, and continue to do so, from books, photographs and other photographers, with whom I am constantly surrounded, or randomly meet on the street. I see learning as a never-ending process.

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

Creative vibes, as well as support from my family, friends and fans, played a very important role in my motivation. Magnificent nature and high quality publications have always been the biggest source of inspiration for me. At some point, there came a moment when I knew it was time to move into this profession myself.

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?

New people reveal new perceptions, new environments create new ideas and new stories bring out new points of view. Placing myself in dynamic environments, traveling and meeting different people allows me to keep a continually fresh view towards life. When I am taking a photo, I always ask myself if it is worth hanging on my own wall.

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

People are different and so are their ways of thinking. It is wonderful when there is a creative match and luckily, most of the time, I end up in such situations. Working in a good team is always rewarding. Some clients have different vision and needs. Then I have to adjust, forget my ideals, and do what suits their preferences best.

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

It is about doing what I adore and remaining enthusiastic. It is also as much about creating as about sharing, listening and hearing who wants to see what. I prefer exhibiting true passion and finding creative ways to advertise. E.g. sending self-made cards, rather than store-bought ones.

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

Tastes differ. One cannot satisfy everyone. One good relationship brimful of mutual understanding is much better two average ones. Create your own thing, do what you like the most and search for the right clients. As there are plenty of artists, there are also many buyers who always want to see something new and unique… something that has not been seen before and cannot be predicted.

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

Yes. We live in a majestic planet, where hidden beauty surrounds us all the time. Whether skiing or climbing, my camera is always in my backpack and I constantly search for the moment as well as new points of view and unique angles. I also like to take short, half-day, even 2-3 day long photographic explorations of a particular area or phenomenon, which usually ends up as a little, narrated photo story.

How often are you shooting new work?

Regularly. It can be a planned photo shoot or a spontaneous outing. If I see a bunch of people playing in a mud pool at a festival, why not to jump right into the middle and take some shots? Some moments cannot be planned.

———–

Regularly acknowledged by competition judges and publishers such as National Geographic, GEO, etc., Vytautas Šėrys is an explorer who could never imagine his life without the outdoors, traveling and photography.

His soul is constantly seeking for new points of view, true local experiences and ways to translate them into images freezing the magic of the real moment.

After living in Lithuania, Netherlands, Sweden, and Italy, Vytautas chose Berlin, Germany as the next stop in his journey through life.

www.vserys.com
www.facebook.com/vserysphoto
info@vserys.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.

Jason Langer Interview

- - Photographers, Workshops

Jonathan Blaustein: I noticed on your bio that you were born in Arizona, and raised in Oregon. But it looks like you lived on a kibbutz in Israel for four years. Is that right?

Jason Langer: Yes, but that’s not really pertinent to anything. That was in 1973, and I was seven.

JB: You were seven?

JL: Yeah.

JB: I didn’t do the math. So it’s not pertinent in that your seven to eleven year old self has little bearing on your current self?

JL: I would say.

JB: So it doesn’t matter at all.

JL: No. I discovered photography in 1982, and I came back from Israel in ’77. I discovered photography when I was in seventh grade. I was twelve.

JB: You were twelve years old, and when most people were trying to steal their Dad’s Playboys, you were working out how to use a camera?

JL: Well, I was doing that too.

JB: I’m not surprised, given the preponderance of nudity in your work, but we’ll get there. What was it like to start making art that young in life?

JL: I was hooked from the first minute I saw a print develop in the developer. It clicked, and I knew it was me. The chemicals felt familiar, and soon after, my mother bought me a darkroom kit from the old Spiegel catalogue. Do you remember that?

JB: No. It’s either before my time, or I never saw it.

JL: It was like an oversized JC Penney or Sears Catalogue. They had a 35mm enlarger and 8×10 trays. She bought it for me, and I cleared out my clothes and built it in my closet.

There was no running water, so I would bring buckets of water up and mix my chemicals in a completely unventilated room. When I was out of chemicals, I would ride my bike down to the local photo store. I was one of “those” kids.

JB: Did you have to earn your allowance to buy your toxic chemicals? Or did you set up a lemonade stand?

JL: I would imagine I had an allowance to begin with, and then I got my first job when I was fourteen or fifteen. I cleaned a vintage clothing store after they closed at night.

JB: What about the lack of ventilation? Are you less intelligent than you might have otherwise been?

JL: (laughing.) Maybe it unlocked the key of me always being crazy? I don’t know.

Langer_Bow, 1999

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Langer_Figure no. 186, 2009

Langer_Figure no. 253, 2011

Langer_Go-Go Girl, 1994

Langer_Moonrise Over Montmartre, 2002

JB: It’s a great chance to segue. In your work, you seem to walk right up to the edge of the dark side, without seeming to cross over. You photograph at night, and there’s an element of mystery and surrealism.

But you seem like a fairly sane and normal guy. I always find that dichotomy interesting. Are you crazier than you appear to be, or does your crazy funnel right into the pictures?

JL: I’ve made a point of exploring my crazy, haunted side in photography. That’s a crucial issue that I’m trying to work out now in middle age, raising two small kids and trying to retain some of that artistic absorption. In life, you have to choose your path. You can’t do everything. You can’t be a great musician, painter, photographer, and a father, husband, architect – whatever you want to do.

You have to choose where you want to spend your time, because there’s only 24 hours in a day. I’ve gotten good at switching gears.

I chose the path early on of fine art photography. I wanted to create photographs that had personal meaning for me, out of an urge that I had, rather than commercial photography. That’s probably why you might think I’d be a crazy person – I put a lot of investment into self exploration.

At the time, though, there was nowhere for the work to go but under my bed. But I chose fine art photography to be the ruler of my life. Furthermore, I stuck in spiritual fulfillment, and meditation, but I also chose getting married and having a family.

And as you know, once you choose that, it’s a really huge commitment.

JB: Doesn’t get any bigger.

JL: A lot of what I do now is try to carve out every possible minute of the day to allow myself time to do my personal work. As we’re bombarded every day with more and more media, I find I have to make a concerted effort to fall away from the rest of the world, and its responsibilities where possible.

Does that answer your question?

JB: Yes and no. It’s like a mirror, in that I can certainly relate to your situation. But you dodged the question, a bit, as to whether you’re psychotic, in the inner levels of your mind.

But I can understand why you’d dodge it. It’s a slightly offensive question.

JL: No, no. It’s fine. I’d say that having chosen marriage and family has put me more on the side of “normalcy.” Because I do want my kids to grow up in a stable house that is focused on education and fun, not on psychological exploration – not at this age. I try to come out of my cave at least once a day… (laughing).

With that in mind, I have to find ways to go to the dark side on my own. For me, that’s been leaving the house, going to other cities and countries, and just being in a contemplative, exploratory space.

I try to balance both.

JB: What is it about the night that excites you?

JL: Early on, I realized that if you went out at night to photograph, everyone would be gone and your experience would be transformed into the other side of life. There’s a whole other part of reality that is in many ways parallel to our subconscious.

When things are covered up in darkness, it activates our imagination. Having an absence, our instinctual need is to put a presence there. I tend to put in a contemplation of the other: what is beyond our life in a conscious state. Sexuality, which is mostly suppressed, aloneness, death, centeredness – the parts of ourselves that we don’t let out on a daily basis.

Being on the streets, I don’t know what’s out there. I don’t know what’s going to happen, so I investigate.

It was also a function of the films I saw when VHS first came out. Films my mother would show me, like “The Third Man,” “Frankenstein,” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” With those films, there was always a singular male figure against the world, which is also a major theme of film noir.

JB: You became the lone man, wandering the dark city streets, alone? You chose to become the living embodiment of these metaphorical characters in these stories that activated your imagination?

JL: Yeah, I think chose is a good word. For instance, for many years I chose to teach, and then I chose to not teach. So the fact that I’m doing this workshop in Santa Fe is actually unusual.

There are many opportunities to be involved in other aspects of photography these days. You can run workshops, you can teach, be in photographic management, work in camera stores, be on juries, write about photography. There are all of these things to do, and I’ve been very conscious of not doing those things, and keeping my emphasis on photographing.

There are so few hours in a day that I put every spare ounce of energy into making pictures. Because life is just too short.

JB: When I first started studying photography in ’97, there were still teachers talking about the methodology you’ve adopted. Having five or six dealers around the world representing your work, each selling a certain amount a year. Getting books with reputable publishers. And that would sustain itself.

You’ve done that. You’re repped around the world, you’ve had two books put out by Nazraeli, and another coming out with Radius. You kind of seem like a throwback. How do you feel about that term?

JL: I would say that 2013 was very much a year of coming to terms with the new world. It was a chance to see whether my methodology still works for me, or whether it can be changed and still be just as fruitful.

I was always under the impression that not everyone is an artist. Those people that are really dedicated to it and have something to say, end up doing it. Of course in photography for decades there was a technical hurdle that people had to get over if they truly loved photography. Those people became artists. Now, I guess there’s no hurdle, so everyone’s an artist?

Also, I always felt that to become good at anything, you’d need to work on your craft for at least ten years – if you wanted to get good at what you were doing. I never wanted to get published too early, or show in galleries too early. I wanted to wait until my work was good, so I put it under the bed for years and years, until I was ready to show it to someone in the industry whom I respected.

Now, I can’t think of any young photographer who approaches it like that. Today, it’s pretty much “BANG” and it’s out there.

Last year, I asked myself if there are merits to that. Is there a new methodology to becoming an accomplished artist that is not the slow method? What I do is now considered “slow” photography.

To me, that’s absurd. It’s just photography. But in comparison to what is happening now, I guess it is kind of a throwback.

I am starting to experiment with taking digital pictures. And instead of gaining emotional distance from my work, and letting it steep over time, I’m making photographs, coming back to my studio, loading them up on the computer, and immediately editing.

I’m trying to see if that yields good results or not.

JB: You’ve used the phrase “under the bed” a few times already. I keep thinking, that’s where the monsters live. Under the bed. I can’t help but think there’s a connection there.

Do you feel like you use your creative practice to connect the nether regions of your psyche to the light?

JL: I’ve always been interested in the subconscious. The photographers I’ve always connected with early on were night-time and symbolist photographers. Artists that didn’t hand you the meanings; they remained ambiguous.

I love films that have ambiguous morality, because I like to be able to contemplate and think about something for an extended period of time.

So I would say yeah. The monsters, the demons, sexuality, suppressed feelings, darkness, the unknown. All of those things are compelling to me. I’m interested in those secret rendezvous late at night.

JB: We haven’t mentioned the word audience yet. I think it’s become more of a factor in what artists are thinking about when they put their work out in the world. We consider the relationship that develops between the object on the wall, and a group of strangers.

What do you want people to get from your pictures?

JL: This brings up an interesting question between the dichotomy of the old way and the new way. I feel that the audience is there to follow you. You are the person who is in charge of discovering things about life, making them into visual subject matter, and giving them to the world.

Your discovery of the world is paramount, and either people will like it, or they won’t. They will buy it, or they won’t. You will either capture the public’s imagination, or you won’t.

Your job is to be an artist. Now, there’s a new element, in which there is a feedback between you and the audience about what they think of your work. There’s more of an opportunity to talk to the people you’re showing the work to.

But I have to say, I’m not one of those people so far. We happen to be living in a time when public taste has gone away from what I do, and I have to just be OK with that- the pendulum swings.

With what I do, the viewer has to spend time with the photograph, inserting their own experience into it.

JB: Did you ever watch Beavis and Butthead, when it was first on TV, back in the day?

JL: Yes.

JB: Did you think it was funny?

JL: Not really.

JB: I had a feeling you were going to say that. But I am who I am, and sometimes I just can’t help myself. When you said the word “inserting,” I actually heard Beavis and Butthead giggling inside my head.

JL: When Beavis and Butthead were on, I was watching “The Third Man” and “Annie Hall” and “The Great Escape.” I was interested in those kinds of movies, so I was not watching MTV.

JB: I can understand that. And I can also understand why you didn’t think it was funny that I laughed at that word. It shows that we’re on parallel tracks right now.

But I have to say, I really appreciate what you do. And I’m glad that we live in a world in which so many perspectives are in the conversation.

You pose some interesting questions. How much can a person take on? Where should I be putting my time and energy? There are no easy answers.

JL: The greatest thing that I grapple with now is my love for photography in general, and how it is simultaneously exploding into all sorts of fantastic things, and being destroyed at the same time.

We’re so flooded with imagery that it doesn’t impact us the way that it did before.

JB: I hear you. I would love to talk a bit more about the way you teach, when you decide to do it. This interview is being sponsored by the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, and you’re doing a workshop there next month called “Shots in the Dark.”

You’ll be leading photographers out into the spooky evening, and the early light of morning. How do you approach something like that?

JL: My first instinct is to give the students everything that I have. I don’t just talk about what exposures you need to make night photographs. I share the whole philosophy I come with, which includes treating the students as artists. I encourage them to search within themselves for what I call “The Creative Spiral.”

Everyone has their own set of meanings, and a unique perspective about the world. The themes that they keep coming back to again and again – obsessions, perhaps.

What I try to do with my students is that every time they go around that circle, they get closer and closer to the center, so they can create iconic images for themselves that express what they really want to express.

We will go over all the technical things, and Photoshop. I teach students how to dodge and burn digitally, as they would in a darkroom. We’ll learn how to make beautiful, archival prints, and also talk about how to interact with people.

JB: If you go out shooting in groups, how are you able to convey the feelings of solitary joy that you experience in your own practice?

JL: One trick is specificity. I took a class out once to the Marin headlands, near San Francisco, and when we looked at the resulting pictures, everyone’s pictures were the same. They were all of the trees, the rocks, the paths, and the abandoned bunkers.

JB: I would think.

JL: It was a real disappointment. Once we looked at the work, and decided which aspects were the most successful, I had them go back and focus on just one thing. Then it got closer to what each person’s individual interest and message was.

Splitting up, and deciding which individual thing you want to focus on is a good way to put one foot in front of the other, and discover what you really want.

JB: You do quite a bit of work with the nude figure, so is that something you’re going to incorporate in the workshop? Will you be working with models?

JL: We are going to do that. There are apparently models that have worked with the Santa Fe Workshops for many years. We’re going to ask them if we can come into their homes, and photograph them going about their night: clothed, or semi-clothed, or naked.

We’re going to be flies on the wall, or voyeurs, and see what we can do. I like bringing that feeling forward we all know when we’re up working late, the rest of the world is asleep, and all is quiet.

JB: That sounds kind of crazy. I almost want to show up and peek through the window of the house at you guys watching the model make her evening tea in the buff.

JL: I did that in a workshop at the Newspace Center for Photography here in Portland. We photographed the model in the studio, and in their home, and we allowed each student to be the center of attention for a while. So the other students could learn from watching each other’s approach.

That way, everyone came out with unique material. I’m going to try to take it to a place where everyone can let their individual needs show.

JB: What a trip. And I’m sure you’ll be roaming the streets together, as that’s what your work is about. I noticed you’ve spent time in Paris, Berlin, New Orleans, and probably many other cities. A lot of the images have the vibe that you just stepped out of a dingy bar, where you ordered a pack of cigarettes and a bourbon?

Are you going to try to find spots like that in Santa Fe?

JL: We are going to work with some bars and establishments, and ask if it’s OK to come in as a small group of photographers. I’ll teach students how I do it in an unobtrusive, non-offensive way.

There’s so much to do in four days, I’m basically throwing out a lot of opportunities to do things, and I’m interested in seeing where the class wants to take it.

SFPW_APhotoEditor_Jan2014

The Weekly Edit – Zach Gross: The New Yorker

- - The Daily Edit

Zach Gross New Yorker 2 1_6_14
The New Yorker

Photo Director: Whitney Johnson
Photo Editor: Jessie Wender
Photographer: Zach Gross

When did you start shooting and what process and direction did it take?
I started photography when I was 15. I was very into abstractions of all kinds and experimenting with alternative photographic processes without using the camera, I would make my own negatives out of plastic and other transparent materials using ink and paint. I also shot landscapes and some portraits.

What sort of cues surfaced alerting you to your gifted eye / talent for taking photos at such a young age?
I simply wasn’t into the regular school format, I didn’t understand a lot of it. I felt a huge relief with the white sheets of photo paper I could fill them with anything and explore things in a very open way, it felt hopeful. Teachers started wanting to buy prints, so that got me thinking.

I see you have a love for B&W, what and who were you influences?
I would say Man Ray was a big influence, his work and ideas really clicked with me early on. I love B & W there is simplicity and timelessness to it.

I understand the New Yorker gives you quite a bit of freedom, what sort of process do you develop with them to earn that? Congratulations.
I met with the photo editors a few times over a couple years before receiving assignments, They wanted me to answer key questions about my direction and what types of people I wanted to photograph. They helped me understand my work better. They have a really wonderful understanding of photography. They were/are influential to me.

Clearly you are connecting with your subjects. How are you developing that connection and typically how much time do you spend with them?
I think people are interesting. I like to understand and know them… and I want to make them look good. The average time is 2 hours… really depends on the dynamic. Could be longer could be shorter, its always different.

Do you study your subjects before hand?
Depending on the project, but I usually research what they do, what they’ve done and what they look like.

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You had this image selected as one of the 12 standout portraits for the New Yorker in 2012. What resonated with you in making this image? How did it all come together for you?
The picture of El-P was from my first assignment for the New Yorker, I felt like I had to rise to the occasion and everything just came tougher really smoothly. I think it was a turning point in my photography for more reasons than one. This picture brought together a few sub threads going on within my work. It helped me understand my work in a more mature way.

What can you share about this recent New Yorker project?
Some shoots are smoother than others.

 

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What can you tell me about the Carbonscapes?
The Carbonscapes are photograms, no camera involved. I’ve been making them ever since I started out in the darkroom 10 years ago, they evolved from Rayograms. It took me a long time to understand what they were actually about, and the explanation is still forming but, I’m interested in the very large and the very small more specifically outer space and the microscopic. I’m drawn to ideas that embrace the natural connections between those perceived separate worlds. The work is about exploring imagination and science.

Expert Advice: Estimate Worksheet

- - Expert Advice

By Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

If you ask anyone to describe me (especially my colleagues or clients that I’ve produced shoots for), one thing they will all tell you is that I’m organized. When I head out of the office at the end of the day, my desk looks like an overhead shot from a Wes Anderson movie. Folders and post-it notes are aligned, and my pen, notepad and calculator are purposefully positioned next to each other. My orderly way of doing things extends to many aspects of my job, especially in the note-taking process when developing estimates.

Aside from determining creative and licensing fees, a lot of the skill required to create a proper estimate is about asking the right questions and having a method for taking notes. Large projects often require a handful of questions to be answered, while small projects may just need some points to be clarified. Either way, you want to be prepared for when you speak with a client by asking intelligent questions that will emphasize your ability to deliver the most cost efficient estimate based on their specific needs. I’ve developed the following worksheet that I use to write down my questions prior to hopping on the phone and to organize my thoughts as I compile an estimate:

estimate_blank

The first page starts with basic contact information, and I’ll use this space to write down the name of the photographer, client and agency (when applicable) along with the name of the agency/client contact as well as the estimate’s due date.

The next section is all about the W’s: who, what, where, when and why. Some of these questions can be answered based on general correspondence with the client before the phone conversation, and some I might be able to answer on my own. Keep in mind that every project is different and some require additional information. I use the large blank section to write down extra project-specific questions. To be even more organized, I’ll often write down the information I already have and the questions I want to ask in blue ink, and record the answers in red ink. This may sound like overkill, but it keeps the information clear and easy to read afterward.

The last section is dedicated to licensing. On the most basic level, I always want to know how many images a client wants to license, how they plan on using them and for how long they want to use them for. Oftentimes the client’s requested use doesn’t match up with their intended use, and that’s the reason why I have two different sections to record this information. It’s common that a client will request unlimited use, but really they only intend on using the images on their website–that’s a huge difference. (You can read our pricing & negotiating articles for tips on reconciling this.)

The very last item on the sheet is a section to record a client’s budget (if they are willing to tell you this information). I placed it last because it’s always important to show enthusiasm for a project and talk about the creative approach before asking about money. However, I do always ask this question because it certainly impacts my approach to the estimate.

The second page of the worksheet helps me organize the estimate as I’m building it. It primarily acts as a list of production elements to think about to keep all of the major elements in mind. As I mentioned earlier, each shoot requires a different approach, but this list helps me consider every aspect from start to finish. Here is how it came in handy for a recent estimate I compiled:

This is an email I received from a client about a shoot:

email_redacted_edited-1

As you see, the information is a bit vague. I wrote down all of my questions on the worksheet before I called the agency contact, and below is the filled out version after the phone call (blue ink shows my questions and missing info, and red ink shows the responses)

worksheet_1_redacted

Once I had the information I needed, I used the second page of the worksheet to think through each line of the estimate. Here is what that looked like:

worksheet_2

Here is the final estimate based on all of the above organized information:

estimate_terms

Read all of our Expert Advice articles here, and visit our consulting page for information on the estimating services we offer.

UPDATE: 2/28/14
To address the comments to this post, I’d like to note that the scope of the project changed from when I reached out to acquire information to the time the final estimate shown above was delivered. The following estimate was the original one I compiled based on the original description:

estimate_redacted