Pricing & Negotiating: Architectural Images For A TV Commercial

by Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Exterior architectural images of 20 restaurants

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

Location: 4 cities on the East Coast

Shoot Days: 7

Photographer: Architectural and portraiture specialist

Agency: Medium-sized, based in the Northeast.

Client: Large restaurant chain

Here is the estimate:

Blinkbid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week In Photography Books: Richard Renaldi

by Jonathan Blaustein

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

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

Then I went for a run.

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet it all happens offstage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line: Remarkable project, great exhibition, wonderful book

To Purchase “Touching Strangers” Visit Photo-Eye

IMG_0042

IMG_0043

IMG_0044

IMG_0045

IMG_0046

IMG_0047

IMG_0048

IMG_0049

IMG_0050

IMG_0051

IMG_0052

IMG_0053

IMG_0054

IMG_0055

IMG_0056

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

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

Art Producers Speak: Tobias Hutzler

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

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

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

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

Shot in the SouthWestern desert at night in moonlight.

Shot in the SouthWestern desert at night in moonlight.

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

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

This image was shot on location at night.

This image was shot on location at night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commissioned by TIME magazine, photographed in Brooklyn.

Commissioned by TIME magazine, photographed in Brooklyn.

Lower East Side at night, New York City

Lower East Side at night, New York City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I don’t shoot to be noticed or hired, but to create work that is new and significant. Inspiration is everywhere. I want to introduce new ways and perspectives and make visible what’s hidden. I want to photograph what we all have in common, to find something universal that we can all connect with. This is really a magical thing and so essential.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————

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

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

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

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

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

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

Susan Burnstine Interview

- - Art

9_The Last Goodbye

10_impasse

11_Michigan Avenue and Monroe 642AM

12_madison and wabash 1132AM

13_what was then

14_around the bend

15_griffith park 1048am_absence of being

16_beyond the east river

17_evidence

18_breakwater light

19_lost in mississippi_absence of being

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

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

JB: (laughing) You weren’t funny?

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

JB: (laughing) OK. I like that.

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

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

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

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

JB: Why do you hate talking about it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

JB: Shout out.

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

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

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

JB: In front of Alec Soth.

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

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

JB: In your car?

SB: In the trunk of my car.

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

SB: It is.

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

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

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

End of story.

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

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

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

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

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

JB: What is the allure of such a process?

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

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

JB: Not really.

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

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

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

JB: I’m sorry to hear that.

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

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

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

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

That’s how it all began.

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

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

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

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

JB: Like I said, we can move on.

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

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

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

SB: Don’t be silly.

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

SB: Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SB: We’re trying.

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

SB: Yup. That was a shocker.

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

SB: Wow. You do your research.

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

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

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

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

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

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

JB: Does that presuppose that everyone is interesting?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SB: Chicago.

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

SB: Pizza.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JB: You use the galleries more than the museums?

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

1_Bridge To Nowhere

2_the approach_burnstine

3_circuitous_burnstine

4_ the road most traveled_burnstine

5_suspend

6_Threshold

7_in the midst

8_at the edge of darkness

 

SFPW_APhotoEditor_Jan2014

Garden & Gun – Jody Horton

- - The Daily Edit

Screen shot 2014-06-05 at 11.02.05 AM Screen shot 2014-06-05 at 11.02.15 AM Screen shot 2014-06-05 at 11.02.24 AM Screen shot 2014-06-05 at 11.02.32 AM

Garden & Gun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How cool.

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

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

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

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

 

Some outtakes from the shoot.

     IMG_6205

Felipe Cortés daughter sips mezcal.

 

 

IMG_5265

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

 

 

IMG_4475

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

 

 

IMG_4324

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

 

 

IMG_3737

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

 

 

IMG_3470

Felipe Cortés and his son Ageo at their palenque.

This Week In Photography Books: Adrian Chesser

by Jonathan Blaustein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Purchase “The Return” Visit Photo-Eye

IMG_0026

IMG_0027

IMG_0028

IMG_0029

IMG_0030

IMG_0031

IMG_0032

IMG_0033

IMG_0034

IMG_0035

IMG_0036

IMG_0037

IMG_0038

IMG_0039

IMG_0040

IMG_0041

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

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

Art Producers Speak: Michael Weschler

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

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

The Compost Wizard

The Compost Wizard

The Cast of Tattoo Rescue

The Cast of Tattoo Rescue

Family at Stoneridge, Malibu

Family at Stoneridge, Malibu

Richard Gere at His Restaurant, The Bedford Post

Richard Gere at His Restaurant, The Bedford Post

The Antiquarians, Brooklyn

The Antiquarians, Brooklyn

Wine and Conversation

Wine and Conversation

Prepping Vegetables at Dinner Party, Chicago

Prepping Vegetables at Dinner Party, Chicago

The Pod Hotel, NYC

The Pod Hotel, NYC

Liev Schreiber at Home

Liev Schreiber at Home

Liev Schreiber at Home

Liev Schreiber at Home

Liam Neeson at Home

Liam Neeson at Home

Kelly Ripa at ABC Studios

Kelly Ripa at ABC Studios

The Family Meal

The Family Meal

Couple in the Kitchen, Chicago

Couple in the Kitchen, Chicago

Chuck Close in His Studio, NYC

Chuck Close in His Studio, NYC

The Big Hair Girls

The Big Hair Girls

Alicia Silverstone at The Farmers Market, Los Angeles

Alicia Silverstone at The Farmers Market, Los Angeles

Alexander Wang at Balenciaga, NYC

Alexander Wang at Balenciaga, NYC

Kids in the Kitchen, Chicago

Kids in the Kitchen, Chicago

Father and Son in the Kitchen

Father and Son in the Kitchen

Rob Lowe at His New Home, Montecito

Rob Lowe at His New Home, Montecito

How many years have you been in business?
16 years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Weschler Bio:

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

Represented by:

WSWcreative
212.431.4480

Anne Albrecht Artist Agents
312.315.0056

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

 

The Weekly Edit: Women’s Health – Jamie Chung

- - The Daily Edit

Screen shot 2014-06-01 at 11.12.58 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-01 at 11.13.09 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-01 at 11.13.19 PM

Women’s Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pricing & Negotiating: Architectural Shots For Ad Agency Portfolio

by Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

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

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

Location: A downtown cityscape and airport

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: A local architectural specialist

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

Client: n/a

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

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

Here’s the estimate:

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 4.55.32 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 4.55.57 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week In Photography Books: Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs

by Jonathan Blaustein

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

I doubt it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_0013

IMG_0014

IMG_0015

IMG_0016

IMG_0017

IMG_0018

IMG_0019

IMG_0020

IMG_0022

IMG_0023

IMG_0024

IMG_0025

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

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

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

- - Working

CLICK to purchase tickets

KORENGALa note from Sebastian Junger

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

 

CLICK to purchase tickets

 

The Weekly Edit- Adweek: Michael Clinard

- - The Daily Edit

michael_clinard_adweek_chicken_burger_cover_with_copy michael_clinard_adweek_chicken_burger_opener
michael_clinard_conceptual_food_hero_group_shot_inside

ADWEEK

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

cray_chicken_with_ketchup_on_face_not_put_forward_for_me_web doodle_number_two_michael_clinard_for_adweek_burger_margo_approved_became_cover_web hero_direction_michael_clinard_for_adweek_burger_margo_approved_web hybrid_chicken_dude_in_suit_concept_just_for_me_didnt_put_forward_web interior_food_concept_just_to_help_me_visualize_web  michael_clinard_personal_sketchbook_neil_young_crosby_mashup_self-portrait_idea_web roost_concept_not_put_forward_after_direction_locked_web the_chicks_mauling_a_burger_concept_other_one_not_needed_more_graphic_pretty_for_my_eyes_web

 

 

Adweek_Chicken_Burger_001_comp_v2 Adweek_Chicken_Burger_385 Adweek_Chicken_Burger_439 Adweek_Chicken_Burger_461 Adweek_Chicken_Burger_493

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week In Photography Books: Guido Guidi

by Jonathan Blaustein

My son graduated from Kindergarten this morning. It was quite the big deal. Lots of parents in attendance, lining the gymnasium bleachers like beakers in a chemistry class. Fun stuff.

There was five-song-medley that went on for ages. Or at least it seemed to, as we tried to keep our young daughter from shrieking at any moment. It’s fun for her, the screaming, and she does it with a smile.

Where was I? Losing focus today, as end of school year always finds my fried family worn down like a #2 pencil. Right. The graduation medley.

Each child sang and danced. Hips twisted. Caps and gowns swayed in the fresh mountain air. They opened with “First Grade, First Grade,” (to the tune of “New York, New York,”) segued through the Spanish numbers, and closed with “Happy” by Pharrell F_cking Williams. Had he been in attendance, I would have been “Happy” to beat him to death with that stupid oversized hat he insists on wearing.

All those 6 year olds, in matching outfits, doing identical choreography. At one point, my mother pointed to young Abigail and said, “Look at her go.” She’d found the one girl with that extra little rhythm. The one who could actually dance.

I began to pay more attention to the children in my vicinity. The moves were the same, yet ever-so-not. Differences were easy to see, once I was paying attention. Kind of like that story in the New Yorker the other week, that talked about how the road from Moscow to Lviv is lined with villages. Each can always speak to their neighbor town. But by the time you get to the end of the line, Russian and Ukrainian have diverged to two completely different languages.

Those dancing little New Mexicans came to mind immediately after putting down “Preganziol 1983,” a new oversized hardcover book by Guido Guidi, recently published by MACK. It’s like a Highlights magazine in a 1980’s dentist office. (Which one of these is not like the other…)

Open up and you see a black and white photo of a room with some pencil-written words. Then the same room in color. A well-worn space with an open window looking out across some trees. And a shadow on the wall, with a tree in it. It’s labeled A1.

Turn the page, and the image appears the same. Turn the page again and the image appears the same. Again. Turn the page again and the image appears the same. Again. Turn the page again and you wonder, what the hell is going on here?

Is it the color? Has there been a super-subtle shift in hue? No, that’s not right. Turn the page again, and you definitely notice the shadow has moved. Turn back to what came before, and sure enough, the shadow moves slightly each time.

Keep going, and you actually get to enjoy the minimal changes. At the end, we see a different view of a room, and intuitively know it’s another direction in the same space. The next two photos confirm, the final two directions, rounding out the book and the concept. B, C, & D.

Finally. A16. Room with no shadow.

(Take another look at the cover, and you see a sketch of a four-sided room, with A, B, C & D corresponding to walls in space.)

To be fair, I haven’t photographed the entire book. Seems crude to the artist to give it all away. Honestly, the whole thing might be too repetitive for you to splash the cash. Such a small little idea.

Or is it? Taking the time to notice how time and light are constantly shifting reality, even if we’re too dim or busy to notice.

Bottom Line: Beautiful, simple and maybe profound

To Purchase “Preganziol 1983″ Visit Photo-Eye

IMG_0001

IMG_0002

IMG_0003

IMG_0004

IMG_0005

IMG_0006

IMG_0007

IMG_0008

IMG_0009

IMG_0010

IMG_0011

IMG_0012

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

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

Reid Callanan Founder Of Santa Fe Workshops

- - Workshops

Jonanthan Blaustein: When did you fall in love with photography?

Reid Callanan: My junior year of college, which I spent abroad in London. I was a geology major in college, at St. Lawrence University, and couldn’t find a geology program to mesh into in London. So I took a year at Richmond College, which offers a cross-cultural program.

I took a photo class, though I’d never done any serious photography before that. The teacher was wonderful, and that’s where I got the bug. Her guidance and inspiration, alongside the great city like London, was enough to turn my head around.

When I came back to school for my senior year, my focus was on photography. My degree was in geology, but I spent a lot of time in the darkroom, making my own pictures.

JB: Does this mean that you’ve got a hidden trove of black and white street photos from London?

RC: I do. In storage, I have pictures that I thought, at the time, were amazing photographs that would catapult me into the A-list of photography. Of course, that was a young man’s misplaced calculations and expectations.

I haven’t gone back and pulled those out. I had a lot of images from Speakers Corner which is a great place to do street photography. And there are other images from London, the British Isles and the Continent.

I traveled a lot when I was there. I ended up in the Soviet Union, for my spring trip, and went to St. Petersburg, which at that point was called Leningrad. I went to Moscow too.

I was one of the first tourists to get into the Soviet Union, back in the mid-70’s. They had just opened up the country in a limited way, and I was lucky enough to get on a trip. It was an eye-opening experience.

JB: And you took pictures?

RC: Yes, in St. Petersburg, but I was not so free to photograph in Moscow, as it was the seat of the KGB, and was a much more closed city.

Early on, I developed a love of traveling with my camera. If you fast forward to the Santa Fe Workshops over the last 10 years, a big part of our expansion has been in travel photography and workshops. Going to places like San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, or Havana, Cuba.

It’s a big part of our business right now: traveling with your camera. You open up many doors and windows when you go to a place with a camera that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

JB: What is that lesson you learn in Physics? Light particles behave differently when they’re observed than when they’re not? Is that right? I’m sure you know what I mean.

RC: One of the stories I like to tell the students when they come here, particularly in a portrait class, is how important that camera is to you, when you’re approaching a person to make their picture.

With a camera around your neck, it’s relatively easy to walk up to a total stranger, introduce yourself, and say something like “I love your face. I love the way you look. I love the way you’re leaned against the wall. And I’d really love to make some pictures of you, and in the process, just talk about who you are, and what you do in this world.

You can do that with a camera. Imagine trying to do that to somebody without one. Imagine walking up to somebody without a camera and saying, “I love the way you look. You have a great face. I’d love to spend some time talking with you.”

They’d think you were crazy.

JB: You’d get a kick in the johnson.

RC: Yup. You’re right.

JB: Allow me to switch gears. I really appreciate that you guys at the Workshops have sponsored this series of interviews. I’d love to show my gratitude by putting on my art professor hat for a moment.

I’m in Taos, and we’re all hippies up here. You bring up a large archive of photographs, and then mention that it includes pictures from the former Soviet Union, which is a super-hot-topic right now. Then you say you haven’t gone back and looked at them.

Let me put you on the spot? How about you dig the work out from storage? Who’s to say? Maybe they are the immature photos you remember?

Or maybe, as you’ve changed, you’ll see them differently. You never know until you look.

RC: I will do that.

JB: Great.

RC: You know, there’s a wonderful story that Sam Abell tells. He’s one of our long-term instructors here, and Sam has a theory that we take pictures ahead of ourselves. Meaning, when we make pictures, we don’t understand their importance, their significance, or their photographic acumen.

We’ve made them ahead of our ability to read them. What he is very fond of doing is going back through his old Kodachrome slides from 10, 20, 30 years ago. Every time he does that, he finds images that he rejected at that point.

He looks at them now, and says, “Oh my god, that is an amazing image, and I didn’t realize it when I made it.” He does that
on a consistent basis, and I’ve done it as well.

So, you’re right. If I go back to those images, which I haven’t looked at in 40 years, pictures made in Leningrad and Moscow, I will find a handful that are probably pretty interesting pictures.

JB: You’ve got to. Thanks for allowing me to have an inspirational moment. But I promise I won’t check up to see if you’ve actually done it. I’m not a Jewish Grandma about these things.

You’ve made mention of instructors at the Workshops, but we haven’t gotten to talk about how you built the program.

This is a big anniversary year, right?

RC: It’s our 25th Anniversary here in Santa Fe. Before that, I worked 15 years at the Maine Workshops. You do the math, and that’s 40 years. Basically, my adult life has been spent in the photographic workshop experience.

After college, I decided to try on photography as a career, to see if it worked for me. I lasted two weeks.

The first job was making pictures for a real estate rag, the kind of thing you see in supermarkets. My job was to photograph 35 or 40 homes in a day. To do that, I had to do drive-bys.

JB: What now?

RC: I’d slow down, point the camera out the window, take a picture of the front of house, and then I’d go on to the next address. After two weeks, I decided, if this is what a professional photographer does, I want no part of it.

It wasn’t fun, and I didn’t want to take my camera out in the evenings or weekends, because I wasn’t excited about photography.

I knew I didn’t want to be a professional photographer, but I did want to stay in the community. So then I tried a short stint in a camera store, which a lot of photographers do, because they figure they can get some discounted equipment that way.

That job only lasted two months, but one day, near the end, I was opening the mail, and there was a fold-out poster for the Maine Photographic Workshops. The name jumped off the page, because I had spent summers on the coast of Maine.

Maine as a destination was something I was interested in, and then to realize there was a school there? It was as if I just found Heaven.

So I quit the camera store job, went to Maine, and took a two-week class at the Maine Workshops from Craig Stevens and Sharon Fox. I ended up staying the next 14 years, after that two-week experience.

JB: That’s wild.

RC: I did every job that business had to offer, from being the Darkroom Manager, Store Manager, Operations Director, and the last 4 years, I was Managing Director of the programs.

In 1989, I realized I’d been there 15 years, I’d done everything I could do with the business, but I’d hit a ceiling, because the owner/director, David Lyman, wasn’t going anywhere at that point.

So I decided that life had run its course in Rockport, and I needed to go out and try it on my own. In 1990, I left for Santa Fe and caravanned across the country with my staff from Maine, and a lot of hopes and dreams. We started our first program that summer.

JB: Why did you choose Santa Fe, of all places?

RC: Two reasons: family and business. I had a brother and a sister who lived in Santa Fe, and I’d visited them a number of times in the early 80’s. I fell in love with what Santa Fe is about: the arid climate, the landscape, the mystique.

It’s much easier to go someplace when you have family there already.

JB: Of course.

RC: With respect to starting the business here, there were a couple of things I was looking for. I wanted a location that was West of the Mississippi, because I didn’t want to start a workshop program that competed directly with the Maine Workshops.

I didn’t want to start the Vermont Photographic Workshops, or the Connecticut Photographic Workshops. That didn’t make a lot of sense from a business standpoint, nor an ethical standpoint.

I wanted to go out and find a different demographic region to offer workshops to. Photography workshops need to be located in a visually inspirational setting. You need to be able to attract people to a destination where they want to go and make images. Santa Fe fulfills that requirement, and also has a wonderful photographic past and legacy to it.

The final reason was that I wanted to live here.

JB: We’re talking about a decision you made many years ago, but it’s now 2014. Jumping forward 25 years, what do you think of Santa Fe? Did it live up to your hopes and expectations?

RC: I love living here. It was a great decision on my part. When you make decisions to go places, there’s always a chance that it isn’t going to work out.

When I first got here, in the summer of 1990, was that I would wake up every morning, and the sun would be out. I wouldn’t even have to question whether the sun would come out. That was not normal for me, having spent most of my life on the East Coast.

The first few weeks, I’d ask myself, “Can this be true? Can the sun be out again?” That’s still very true today. The bright sun and the blue sky makes such a difference in the way I approach the day, and my life.

I don’t think I could now do well in a place that was overcast more often than sunny.

JB: We get addicted to the Vitamin D. Setting aside the fresh air, and all.

RC: Santa Fe has not disappointed me personally, nor for the business. Because one of the great tenets of business is “Location is everything.” We certainly have benefited hugely being based here.

Typically, if a business is going to fail, it’s in the first 5 years. We got lucky, and our timing was spot on. Moving to Santa Fe in the beginning of the Nineties, it ended up being a good decision, because that’s when Santa Fe began to explode on an international level as a travel destination.

Santa Fe started to appear in the top rankings of travel magazines. Santa Fe style and Santa Fe cuisine were getting known nationally and internationally in the early 90’s, so we benefited hugely from that exposure.

It’s still true today. I do focus groups every Friday at lunch, which is typically the final day of our workshop week. One of the questions I ask is how they found out about us and why they came.

At least half if not more say they were attracted to coming to Santa Fe, and they’ve always wanted to come here. The fact that they found a photographic workshop that was located in Santa Fe was one of the deciding factors on why they ended up coming here.

It’s a world-class destination, so that certainly helped us get over the early hump that most businesses go through.

Location, location, location.

JB: You’ve been an educator for four decades. That’s a long time. What are some of the things you’ve learned?

RC: It dawned on me fairly early in this experience of coming out to Santa Fe that my interest in and passion for education really started with my father. He was a role model, a mentor, and an educator.

He was the headmaster of a private school in Baltimore, where I grew up. I actually went to the school and got to witness very intimately the running of the school from a business and educational standpoint.

JB: So you and your Dad both spent lives in education?

RC: That is what we do here. We are an educational facility. One of the reasons that the education here works well is because people who come to this business have a great educational and inspirational experience here.

Typically, one third of our customers each week are alumni. That’s a great number, but it also means that two thirds of our audience are new to us.

One reason the experience works so well is that we take the people out of their normal, workday environment, and we embed them into a very energized, inspirational, creative environment where who they are at home falls away.

They get to live the photographic life, to coin a phrase from Sam Abell, for a week. That’s a large part of what they’re coming here for. If they’re doctors or lawyers, or homemakers, or whatever their profession is, they get to be photographers for 5 days. Though we’ve added shorter workshops recently, the core model is Monday through Friday.

People come, and they get to eat, sleep, drink and breathe photography for 5 full days.

JB: Has that always been your core audience?

RC: Our clientele has changed, from when we first started. For the first 8-10 years, our primary participant was a pro photographer. I would say that the ratio was 75% working professionals, and 25% advanced amateurs. Then the digital revolution began to take hold at the end of the 1990’s, and the pro photographic businesses were greatly challenged.

It became much more difficult for pro photographers to afford to come out to the workshops. Our audience changed, around 2000. Today, our audience is 80-85% the ardent, amateur photographer, and 15-20% working professionals.

We’re dealing with people who come from other walks of life, and they don’t get to do their hobby as much as they’d like. They have to carve out blocks of time that give fulfillment. They come and immerse themselves in a community where they get to talk photography, make pictures, get feedback, instantaneously, from their instructors. The learning curve goes through the roof, because of the single-minded focus of what you’re doing here.

JB: So you encourage that sense of dropping into a rabbit hole?

RC: We make an effort on the first night, when we meet the people, to talk about being present, turning your cell phone off, and checking email as infrequently as you can. It’s like putting a firewall up. We tell people, “You have invested a huge amount of time and money to be here. Take advantage of that investment you’ve made in yourself. This is important to you. You’re not doing it because your parents sent you here, or your boss told you to do it.”

It’s no mistake that our campus is located at a retreat center. It’s run by the Catholic Church, and is called the IHM Retreat Center. There’s also a Carmelite Monastery on campus, so it’s a very serene, cloistered, quiet facility tucked in the hills overlooking Santa Fe.

Our program is different from traditional educational institutions. We don’t have faculty that are here teaching every week. We don’t have tenure track. Our model is to bring in photographers to teach for a week, then they leave and go home.

JB: What do you think are some of the skills and personality traits that great teachers bring to the table?

RC: Great teachers are articulate. They can talk about the photographic process: not just technical information, but why people make pictures, and why some pictures are better than others.

You have to have your ego in check, so you can talk about other people’s photography, and bring yourself down to the level of the student. You may be the best editorial photographer in the world, but if you can’t bring yourself down to the level of your students, who are 3, 4, or 5 levels below you, you can’t understand where they’re at and what they need.

It’s also important to be compassionate, to understand where these people are coming from, and what they want from you. Those are the main things I look for in a teacher.

JB: Are you still making photographs yourself?

RC: Yes, I’ve been working on a series of black-and-white portraits. I like to work with projects, as I find it difficult to photograph on a consistent basis without a focus. Though I do use my iPhone for Instagram.

The project I’m working on now is in black and white, because I like to strip away the color, so it doesn’t get in the way of saying something about who they are. It becomes less representational, and more of a subjective, intuitive approach to making portraits.

The series started in Cuba, because I have more time to make pictures when I’m traveling. But it has extended now into Mexico.

Typically, I wander the streets, make digital portraits, go back to the hotel, process the images in Lightroom, decide on a couple of favorites, and make some prints. Then, I take the prints and go find the person that I photographed and hand them a print or two

The reaction is always a wonderful one. They’re very thankful, appreciative and surprised by it. That opens up the door for more portraits that tend to be more insightful, because it’s the second or third time I am working with them and the level of trust his higher.

They see that I’m for real, and I’m offering them a gift, so they want to gift me something by showing me more of themselves. And people nearby, like someone next to a vendor in a market, will see what’s going on, and realize they can get some prints too. I get more people that want to be photographed, when they see that process.

People want to show the prints to more people, so you get to meet the family. More and more layers are peeled back in that process, which helps to make more powerful, memorable, interesting pictures.

The process opens up a world of possibilities.

JB: And free tacos.

RC: I didn’t get free tacos. But I did get chickens with their heads cut off. Free fish too. It’s a process of give and take. If I can give something back to them, while taking time from them, it tends to work really well.

Painter_Cemetery

Mexico2

Mexico_Potraits_001

EM_at_home

Cuba_family

Car_Portrait

SFPW_APhotoEditor_Jan2014

Photo District News: Photo Editor Amy Wolff

- - The Daily Edit


Screen shot 2014-05-19 at 12.36.19 PM     Screen shot 2014-05-19 at 12.37.31 PM Screen shot 2014-05-19 at 12.37.51 PM Screen shot 2014-05-19 at 12.37.58 PM Screen shot 2014-05-19 at 12.38.06 PM Screen shot 2014-05-19 at 12.38.15 PM Screen shot 2014-05-19 at 12.38.23 PM

I had the pleasure of connecting with Amy Wolff, Photo Editor at Photo District News. In order to frame the interview properly I asked her to explain her role at the magazine.

Amy: Though my title is “photo editor,” the job description is different than it’s been at other magazines. I don’t do any assigning or producing. I contribute ideas for stories, help identify trends and issues in the photo industry, and suggest sources for articles and interviews. My contributions are based on what I know about what’s going on in the photo industry as a whole: I am in constant contact with photographers and photo industry folks (emails, meetings, portfolio reviews, openings, events). When the editors discuss story ideas, our goal is to gather information and present it in a way that we hope our readers can learn from, that will help them navigate the business, or give them ideas on how photographers handle challenges– challenges regarding business, funding, marketing, techniques, landing assignments, getting a grant, finding income, selling prints. We try to strike a balance in our coverage that serves readers working in every genre of photography.

One of my biggest roles is providing content for our photo blog, Photo of the Day (POTD) (http://potd.pdnonline.com/). POTD’s audience is much broader than the magazine. Simply put it’s a place to celebrate great imagery, without regard to specific usefulness or story themes. I have discretion over the selection. Admittedly I’m not a great writer, but I’m getting better.

Heidi: For PDN ‘s 30 typically how many submissions do you get?
Amy: As a photo editor I look forward to PDN’s 30 every year. I’d been asked to nominate photographers in the past. I was really excited to be a part of it this year. I started at PDN in February 2013, so I’ve only been through the process once. I’d say the number of submissions depends on the number of folks invited to upload images. PDN editors ask a wide variety of folks (editors, art buyers, gallerists, curators, consultants, publishers) to nominate photographers. Those photographers are invited to upload images to be considered for PDN’s 30. This year about 400 photographers uploaded images.

What specific criteria do you look for in the work in order for it to be considered?
We look for work that is fresh, inspiring, creative and unique. We also want as varied a list as possible because we want the issue to be useful and inspiring to young photographers. Locations, gender, specialties, styles and subject matter are all things we take into consideration.

Once all the considerations are made, how many make the first cut? Can you describe that process?
PDN’s editors judge the PDN’s 30, and there are multiple rounds of judging. We vote on the entries, and tally the votes. After that initial judging we’ll start meeting, as a group, and go through the top 100 or 125 – and by go through I mean look at their entries, read their bios, go to their websites, Google them…try to find out as much information as possible. We narrow it down from there verbally, collectively as a group.

And then the subsequent cuts after that? Do you break it up into categories internally to cover a broad range of styles?
Yes, subsequent cuts are made based on initial ranking, and for the sake of diversifying the list. We don’t have a specific number in mind though – it’s not like we say we have to have 5 photojournalists, 5 fashion photographers, 5 portrait photographers, etc. But we don’t want to have 20 photographers who shoot fashion and are all based in NYC out of a list of 30.

What would you say is the biggest challenge for that process?
The biggest challenge is that we can only pick 30. Sometimes 20 photographers who shoot fashion are all amazing! We have to hope that they come back the following year and we’ll have another chance.

Once a photographer is selected, do you ever hear about success stories following the nominations?
After the 30 are picked my work has just begun. I can’t begin to estimate the numbers of emails I’ve exchanged with these folks. I’m invested in these photographers – I feel like I know them (as much as you can get to know someone over email or the phone). I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the photographers in person post-PDN’s 30 and I’ve asked them how things are going. Many have said PDN’s 30 has helped them with networking (ex. when emailing a photo editor they have never met before they put “PDN’s 30” in the subject line) and getting assignments (ex. clients reach out to them saying they heard of them from PDN’s 30).

For promo or personal work, what strikes a cord with the editors? Have you noticed any trends in the imagery lately?
For Tumblr and Promos We Kept there isn’t a formula to what gets promoted on the blog. We post unusual or ingenious promos, or promos we feel deserve some attention. A lot of thought (and money) goes into those and it’s nice to be able to give them a platform. A lot of the promos I’ve received lately have been zines or small, self-published books. In fact, I have a small pile on my desk of promos I need to blog about. Thanks for the reminder!

What does your office walls look like?
No office for this gal – cube with 3 walls. Empty cubical walls are not visually stimulating so I cover every inch with promos and prints. I’ve been in the habit to refresh the décor after each issue close.

How much mail do you get per day and what makes you keep a promo?
I get more mail at PDN than I have anywhere else. But I do open and look at all of it. Sometimes I think photographers over think the promo – postcard, glossy or matte, envelope or no envelope, vellum, label or no label, hand-written or typed. If the image(s) is compelling, printed well, and your name/location/website is clearly noted, it’s a successful promo. I keep promos so I remember them – for a future article in PDN, for a POTD, or to remember to keep an eye out. I look at work digitally all the time. It’s nice to have something to hold.

I know the editorial market is really tough, any advice for seasoned and emerging artists?
It is still possible to be a successful photographer in 2014 but the rules have changed. There isn’t one path to success. If you are good at what you do and you work hard at it, and you’re a nice person and people like working with you, you have a good shot. I strongly recommend to photographers whose phones aren’t ringing to keep shooting. I know it’s hard to motivate but it’s important to keep making new work so you always have something new to share with people either in person or on social media. Keeping in touch is important – I ask that photographers add me to their mailing list (email, snail mail). I don’t remember everything I see or everyone I meet and need to be reminded that you’re out there.

Screen shot 2014-05-19 at 12.36.33 PM

For Exposures: What criteria are you looking for?
To clarify, each issue of PDN has a theme (April “PDN’s 30,” May “Lighting,” June “Photo Annual, July “Fine Art,” August “Publishing”) and we try to think ahead about what stories we’ll need for each issue. All of the editors at PDN pitch ideas to each other. We share photo stories and talk about work all the time. Senior editor Conor Risch fields the story ideas for the Exposures section, and he tends to showcase new personal projects, or work that is currently showing in a gallery, about to be published in book form, or work that we feel our audience needs to know about.

Have you noticed any trends lately, do you try and strike a balance between emerging artists and established?
We’re trying to strike a balance of coverage that serves readers working in every genre of photography and at every stage of their careers. When we consider sources for articles, we look at people who have a useful story to share that other photographers can learn from. I think documentary and more long-term story telling is trending lately.

Have you been surprised by any particular artist? ( meaning it was a departure from their normal work? )
My background in photo editing comes from editorial but PDN has opened my eyes to so much more. What I’ve found surprising is how many photographers are shooting both commercial and fine art work. To me, that would be the best of both worlds – make money with a larger commercial job and have the time & financial freedom to make the work you really want to make.

Screen shot 2014-05-19 at 12.36.59 PMScreen shot 2014-05-19 at 12.37.07 PMScreen shot 2014-05-19 at 12.37.16 PM

For the D’Agata feature, do you have any outtakes you can share?
 No, we were given a specific number of images provided by the publisher for the exclusive purpose of reproduction in PDN along with the article.

What in particular about his story gripped the editors for this feature?
For starters his images. He photographs addicts, sex, and prostitution. As our Editor, Holly Hughes, says, D’Agata is a “photographer’s photographer.” Many photographers have cited his work as inspiration. Meghan Ahearn, who was our Managing Editor at the time, was looking through the Prestel Spring catalogue and saw he had a new book coming out, and that the book was a fairly large collection of his work. Senior Editor, Conor Risch, ended up interviewing D’Agata in person which turned into the feature (Antoine D’Agata: Photographing Life at Society’s Margins) we published in the April 2014 issue. It’s a great read if you haven’t read it, and it’s still online:

http://www.pdnonline.com/features/Antoine-DAgata-Pho-10726.shtml

What was the determining factor for the images that did make in the print edition?  ( did you have an online gallery )
It’s like most magazines – the number of images published depends on page count and word count. We can include up to 10 images in online galleries which is helpful when we can’t fit everything in the magazine. We did have an online gallery for D’Agata but in this case included everything we ran in print.

Without a real rhythm, do you find selecting the covers a challenge?
Covers usually come from the theme section – April’s cover came from one of our PDN’s 30’s, Charlie Engman, May’s came from the lighting feature, Nigel Cox, June’s came from one of our the Photo Annual winners, Julia Fullerton-Batten. (more in the newsstand q&a)

Do you follow any sort of edit calendar?
Yes, our themes are chosen ahead of time.

How much pressure do you have for newsstand sales?
We do discuss how the cover might look on the newsstand, but probably less than at consumer magazines because most of our readers are subscribers. When we’re choosing a cover (it typically comes from the theme section) we’re more concerned about not repeating something we’ve done in the past, and it’s appeal to a visually sophisticated audience. We never crop photos inside the magazine: Ever. The cover, however, is a different story. We do occasionally crop the cover image with the permission of the photographer.

Knowing we may have to crop either the top, bottom or sides, we initially look for images that can be cropped without changing the image too much The Creative Director, Darren Ching, and I then pick a handful of images and place them in a cover template. We look for images that don’t compete with our logo, and images that aren’t covered by our logo once they’re placed. We’ll edit from there as a group.

Is the cover image always an outtake from the inside stories?
Yes, again, the cover usually comes from the theme section. If we run the image on the cover, we wouldn’t then run it on the inside of the magazine.

I know you have a side business called CoEdit. What can you tell us about that?

I first met Tim Klein when I was photo editing for a magazine based in Chicago (Michigan Avenue). The assignment was rather, challenging, haha, so we kind of bonded over that. A few months later Tim called and asked if I would consult with him on an idea he had. Some of his clients and photo-shoot subjects had purchased his prints. That sparked his idea to sell photography prints online and he needed help with photographer connections and photo-editing. The more time I invested, the more I liked the idea and the more I wanted to be a part of it so I asked if he was interested in a partnership and he said yes. There are a lot of places and ways to buy photography but CoEdit is different. We sell editorial and commercial photographers’ work, provide context for the images and artists, and it’s curated by industry folks and tastemakers.

 

 

 

 

Francis Alÿs

The rainfall was relentless, like a Kenyan endurance runner. The windshield wipers were working hard, and I hoped my friend’s brakes were new. (I also hoped he wasn’t impaired by the two huge whiskeys I watched him down at the Irish bar we just left.)

Only in New York City can it take so much bloody time to go from one village to the next. (In this case, West to East.) I was late, so I was a bit anxious. The whole plan was my idea, and now I was the one mucking it up.

We were en route to Cooper Union, where I was to meet up with my photo buddies Richard and Jaime. Two more intelligent, menschy guys, you’d never expect to meet. As soon as we arrived, I skidded out of the Honda Pilot and dashed across the street. (Only to realize I was in the right spot a moment earlier. Look before you leap into traffic, I always say.)

Our destination was a lecture by the super-duper Art Star Francis Alÿs, who’s from Belgium but based in Mexico City. (Just because someone is super-famous in the Art World doesn’t mean you’ve heard of him.) As I’ve said before, your lowest-IQ Reality TV Star would likely have a larger Twitter following.

But I had heard of him, and had seen a few of his videos online. The Lord only knows how much he charges for his limited edition pieces, repped by David Zwirner and shown at MoMA, but it’s all online for free.

Think about that. In an Art World replete with private vaults, this dude puts it out there for all of us. I’d seen a video where he’s accosted by neighborhood dogs in rural Mexico, one where he set a fox loose in a Museum at night, and the renown piece where he dragged a block of ice behind him until it melted to nothing. He also dashed into a dust-storm/mini-tornado in the name of art.

Great stuff.

As I mentioned previously, though, I mucked up the plan. I told Richard it started 30 minutes after it did, so he waited in the lobby for me while it all got started. Jaime, not privy to that round of texting, got a good seat right in center.

Richard and I? We had to sit on the cold concrete floor, with obstructed views, dripping our rain-soak all over ourselves. It was murder on our posteriors, so time was never going to be unlimited. 20 minutes max. Fortunately, we got lucky.

The talk was so casual, the searching for digital video files on his laptop so comical, I couldn’t believe this guy was as important as he is. Very distracted-professor sort of vibe. But he did exude a niceness, it should be said.

He mostly just played videos one at at time on his computer. Two of them were so good, I had to deviate from writing about photobooks to show them to you. (And to re-iterate, the rest of his work is free to view on his website.)

Both pieces were made in Afghanistan. Much is being made these days of European artists making “art” about war zones. (i.e. Richard Mosse in the Congo.) Personally, I think it’s great when artists try to make content out of genuinely important subjects. Or in dangerous places.

But Art, at it’s core, is about transformation. And news is about documentation. No one has written more about the 21st Century blurred lines than I have, but I’ve begun to contemplate the differences between the now-morphed traditions.

This video, from his Children’s games series, shows a phenomenon Mr. Alÿs observed when he was doing his research. Kids rolling tires with a stick. A practically ancient way to amuse oneself. (Richard mentioned seeing it in this painting by Bruegel.)

The video is cheeky and fun. Thoughtful for sure. But it’s a document of something that was already happening. It’s first level reproduction. I see something. I capture it. It is depicted.

From that, Mr. Alÿs said, he imagined “Reel-Unreel.” It is longer, and I saw only an excerpt. But I practically stopped breathing. You’re in Kabul. It feels like you’re there with the camerawork. Some screen text says that when the Taliban took over, they tried to eradicate the films in the National Archive. Burn them.

Some people fooled them into thinking they got the master sets, but those had been moved. (That text is at the end of the video we’re showing.) So the boys in the “created” video roll a cinema reel through the dirt streets. You can almost smell the truck exhaust. Eventually, one of the reels falls over a cliff.

I forgot about my soggy pants, and uncomfortable ass. I was transported somewhere else. It was a captivating couple of minutes. And that’s why I’m writing about it a month later.

Great art distills. It catalyzes one idea into another through symbolism and craftsmanship. It’s not direct, like documentation. That’s a strength, I think, when it’s done right. Our subconscious speaks in symbols through our dreams. Art, therefore, can circumvent the intellect.

It’s why I love it so much, especially the best of it.
To be clear, it’s not impossible for documentary work to do that. Just much harder. Literality is for lawyers, after all.