Pricing And Negotiating: Directing Video For A TV Commercial

by Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Video of a restaurant interior

Licensing: Use of all video content captured in multiple broadcast television commercials

Location: A single restaurant location

Shoot Days: One

Director: Architectural and portraiture specialist

Agency: Medium-sized, based in the Northeast

Client: Large restaurant chain

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: A few months ago I worked with a photographer to successfully estimate an exterior architectural shoot that you can read about here. Within a week of delivering those files, the agency wanted to add on an extension to the project, and this time they needed video content to integrate into their commercial along with the stills. The concept was to capture video of the interior of one of their restaurants and stage a scene of professional talent interacting within the environment in the evening after the restaurant closed to the public. The final video would ultimately be edited down to just a few seconds, and the agency/client would be providing the location, casting, talent, wardrobe, styling and all of the video editing.

The photographer did not specialize in video, but based on his previous successful execution of the stills and the scope of this portion of the project, the client and agency were very comfortable with him taking on a directorial role, as opposed to being the man behind the camera. Therefore, rather than including a combined creative/licensing fee for the photographer, we simply labeled it as a “Director Fee” (hereafter I’ll refer to the photographer as “director”).

My first approach to determine the director fee was based on the previous estimate for the still photography. You can read how we arrived at a $50,000 fee in my previous article, but when analyzed in a pro-rated manner (which is how many agencies view estimates), it broke down to $2,500 per location or around $10,000 per day for 5 days of shooting (which is ultimately how long it took). Based on this information I felt that $6,000 was appropriate for a director fee, taking into account what the director had ultimately made as an effective fee on the previous shoot. I did, however, want to double-check this rate against other resources, and found that Getty charges around $4,200 for a 15-second clip for national broadcast TV use. Similarly, Corbis charges $4,500 for a clip with these specs. Based on my research I was confident that we were in the right ballpark.

I should also note that the format of our estimate in which we present the creative/licensing fee and the following expenses may be atypical for a video project. Since this was an extension of a still photo shoot, and since we were working with a print producer at the agency, the presentation and formatting of our document was appropriate. However, much larger video productions may warrant different formatting, and there are even industry standard documents (like theAICP bid form) that video production companies are accustomed to working with and are well received on the agency/client end.

Test Shoots: Prior to the actual shoot date, the agency and director agreed that a day was needed to not only scout the location, but to do a very rough test shoot using minimal gear to capture naturally lit video of the restaurant interior. It was an opportunity to give the agency a feel for the how the location actually looked, while also allowing the director to test out gear with the camera operator that would be working on the actual shoot. The fee included $1,500 for the director, $1,000 for the producer, $300 for an assistant and $750 for the camera operator, along with mileage, parking, meals and equipment expenses.

Director of Photography: The director was very proficient in lighting still images, but the level of production the agency required for the video meant bringing in an expert to help guide the grip and gaffer to set up the lights. We were shooting at night, but the interior needed to look like daylight was flowing in through the windows, and the DP would help to accomplish this while the director could primarily focus his attention on the overall concept and execution.

Camera Operator: While the director would be managing the talent and determining the primary camera settings, we accounted for the camera operator to be the one who would actually manipulate the camera while capturing the content. The rate we included accounted for a very experienced camera operator who would also be able to provide monitors/feeds for live client review.

Producer: The producer would be responsible for wrangling the crew, compiling a production book and handling pre-production arrangements. Additionally, the producer would make sure the shoot day goes according to schedule while ensuring the project stayed within budget.

First and Second Assistants: I accounted for two extra sets of hands to help out with gear on the shoot day, and to support the producer and all of the crew members throughout the day with miscellaneous tasks.

Digital Tech: While the camera operator would be providing equipment for the client to see the video on monitors in real time, the digital tech would be able to quickly process the video content for the client/agency to watch repeatedly in order to approve the content. This included $500 for their day, and $750 for a workstation. On a larger scale video shoot, this role might be labeled as DIT (digital image technician), but as I mentioned earlier, we were integrating formatting and terminology more in line with a still photo shoot.

Grip, Gaffer and Grip Truck: The DP would give lighting direction to the grip and gaffer who would then be responsible for setting up and adjusting all of the lights. Both the grip and gaffer that I corresponded with about the project worked for an equipment rental company, and they would be bringing the gear with them in a truck. Given the last minute nature of the project, we weren’t quite sure what exact equipment would be needed, so I included the cost for a very well stocked grip truck. In addition to the truck rental (which would cost $675), this included a long list of HMI lights and generators, as well as an even longer list of stands, modifiers and grip equipment.

Additional Equipment Rental: This accounted for all equipment other than lights/grip, including two 5D Mark III camera bodies, multiple lenses, extra large memory cards and a buffer for any other last minute gear the photographer would need once he scouted the location. Some of the gear he owned, and some he would need to rent or buy.

Delivery of Video by Hard Drive: The digital tech would dump all of the video onto a drive after the shoot, and this included the cost of purchasing a drive large enough to hold the video content and the shipping fees to send it to the agency.

Catering: There would be about 20 people on set including the crew, talent and client/agency representatives, and I included $50 per person for dinner and snacks throughout the evening. Typically, I’d figure a client like this would provide meals, but since the shoot was happening after business hours, the restaurant wouldn’t be able to provide food.

Miles, Misc: The restaurant wasn’t located in a very convenient place, and I expected to pay the crew mileage to get out and back. I included $200 for mileage, and then added $300 to help cover any additional unexpected expenses that might arise.

Results: After submitting our estimate, the art buyer told us they had a budget of $20,000, and asked us to see what we could do to reduce the price. I knew we wouldn’t be able to come down by that much, but revised the estimate by removing the tech’s workstation (she’d just be providing a laptop which the client was ok with), reducing the assistant rates to $250/day (the director had a few assistants that were willing to work for this rate) reducing the fee for the grip and gaffer (which they confirmed they’d be able to be flexible on) and reducing the catering to $35 per person (and noted that it wouldn’t be quite as an elaborate spread). Those changes reduced our bottom line by $1,500. Even though we weren’t able to get under $20k, our estimate was approved and I produced the shoot a few days later. Here was the final estimate:

Blinkbid

Hindsight: As the still photography and video worlds merge, it’s inevitable that clients will soon expect all photographers to offer video services (or at least expect to get stills and video from a single production). However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a photographer has to have experience shooting video. As in this case, photographers can take on the role of a director without actually being the one to light the scene or operate the camera. The director role still comes with great responsibility and pressure, but it’s ok for photographers to rely on lighting experts and experienced video crews to collectively get the job done.

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: Brad Wilson

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

I was riding in the passenger seat of a Volvo SUV. Headed North. My father was driving; my young son in the back seat.

We were going to Red River to ride some go-karts. A classic summertime ritual. The mountains were to the East, and out the driver side, we saw the great American desert, rolling all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

The western sky was dark and ominous, as there were massive rainstorms approaching us faster than an unarmed man can raise his hands at the sight of a loaded gun. It had been raining for weeks, so the deluge was clearly imminent.

Which made our go-karting endeavor look a tad futile.

My son asked whether we would make it in time. My father replied that he was an optimist, so we’d plow forward. My son, clever, but not omniscient, asked what an optimist was.

My Dad explained an optimist was a person who looked on the bright side, and expected things to work out well. A pessimist, he countered, tended to fear the worst, and assume it would come to pass.

“Which are you, Daddy,” the boy asked me?

“I’m neither, I said. I’m the third thing. A realist. I think sometimes things work out, and sometimes they don’t.”

“OK. You’re a realist. So will we get to ride the go karts,” he asked?

“That storm is coming really fast. If we get a ride in, I’d say we were lucky. I doubt we’ll get there before the track is too wet to be safe.”

Not that my predictive qualities are always spot on, but that day, it was not to be. The heavens opened, and we had to settle for raiding the candy store, and then getting back in the Swedish Tank to go home.

C’est la vie.

It’s easy, these days, to succumb to the belief that the world is coming to an end. The militarized mess in the St. Louis suburbs. Another war in the Holy Land. ISIS gobbling up territory in Mesopotamia. Planes shot out of the sky by a newly voracious and expanding Russia. (Forgive me, I meant Putin’s proxies in Eastern Ukraine.)

And then there are the stories about elephants being massacred for their ivory. Tigers killed for fake Chinese medicine. Or Rhinos slaughtered for horn to make some old guy’s penis hard.

Onward we march towards oblivion, it seems.

What sayeth the realist? Well, it is hard to be optimistic these days. But what choice do we have? If you’ve bred children, it’s far too sad to assume the world will die around them. Better to hope we’ll figure it out, but I’m not so sure.

Just in case, it might be wise to record nature’s bounty while it’s here. To embed likeness in paper, and safe keep it for future generations. (Sample conversation in 2114, “Daddy, what’s an elephant look like? Why did they go extinct?”)

Fortunately, the Santa Fe-based photographer Brad Wilson had done it for us. Even better, for posterity, he used a super-badass-high-end-digital camera, so the details are there in their hyper-real glory. (Eyelashes and all.)

I know this, because I went to photo-eye this week to pick up a new stack of books, as promised. And there the photos were on the wall, staring me down like an angry drunk mad-dogging you outside the movie theater at 9:45pm on a Friday night. (Speaking of Fridays, the exhibition opens tonight, if you happen to be in town.)

The prints are big, black and gorgeous. (Insert random inappropriate joke here.) If you have a chance to go see them, I’d highly recommend it. If not, of course, we always have the book, “Wild Life,” recently published by Prestel.

According to a promotional video they showed me at the store, the artist hired animal trainers to bring the creatures to a studio in LA. And the book says other pictures were shot at a raptor sanctuary in Española, a zoo in Albuquerque, and, of course, a location in St Louis, Missouri. (Wouldn’t be one of my reviews if the snake didn’t eat its tail.)

The pictures manage to be beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. The chimps are so clearly sentient. The big cats so fierce. The eagles so mesmerizing. In fairness, the owl photos are trapped in full bleed in the book, so their impact is muted, compared to the prints.

But this book oozes “future-historical-importance.” I think I brought up some of these concepts when I reviewed Sebastião Salgado’s “Genesis” a while back. I prefer this book, though.

That one seemed a tad emotionally manipulative. This feels more clean. More objective, if I might use a taboo word, for once. He threw up a black backdrop, brought in some rapidly disappearing animals, got really close with a great camera, and made the pictures.

Here. Look.

For now, the photographs are representations of living creatures. If we don’t change course, however, they will be all we have left. So says the realist.

Bottom Line: Fantastic record of the animal kingdom, while we have it

To Purchase “Wild Life” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

Art Producers Speak: Kristyna Archer

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 Kristyna Archer. Aside from her obvious talent as a shooter, she is personable, fun, able to roll with the punches and goes to the max to make people happy. We used her and my creatives are as smitten with her as I am. We are all excited about what the future holds for her.

This is part of a personal series I shot in 2012 called "Donut Doppelgängers." It seemed so nonsensical at the time, but I had to get out of my mind.  A 'stream-of-consciousness' later, I started comparing them to people.

This is part of a personal series I shot in 2012 called “Donut Doppelgängers.” It seemed so nonsensical at the time, but I had to get out of my mind.  A ‘stream-of-consciousness’ later, I started comparing them to people.

This image was inspired by Cast of Vices, an amazing Los Angeles designer who created these high end luxury versions of your average bodega bag (on right).  It struck a chord with me and I wanted to create a juxtaposition of the "faux" middle class trying so hard to uphold appearances, next to poverty level.  They are both still riding the bus ironically- not so far apart…

This image was inspired by Cast of Vices, an amazing Los Angeles designer who created these high end luxury versions of your average bodega bag (on right).  It struck a chord with me and I wanted to create a juxtaposition of the “faux” middle class trying so hard to uphold appearances, next to poverty level.  They are both still riding the bus ironically- not so far apart…

This image started with the phrase "We're all kids at heart" where I was using childlike props pairing them with adults showing vulnerability.  Yet this shot soon became about something entirely different when you pair a speedo next to a lollipop.  So I changed my crop and decided to get in your face about it.  I love how things can develop into something so much weirder and more vulgar- the subconscious at its best I guess?

This image started with the phrase “We’re all kids at heart” where I was using childlike props pairing them with adults showing vulnerability.  Yet this shot soon became about something entirely different when you pair a speedo next to a lollipop.  So I changed my crop and decided to get in your face about it.  I love how things can develop into something so much weirder and more vulgar- the subconscious at its best I guess?

Campaign I shot for Canon with GREY visually illustrating a sensory experience of the theme "baseball."

Campaign I shot for Canon with GREY visually illustrating a sensory experience of the theme “baseball.”

Campaign I shot for Oxxford Menswear.

Campaign I shot for Oxxford Menswear.

This is a personal project where I wanted it to feel like film stills, because the story is loaded with emotion.  The less purposeful and pulled back you are, the more honest it feels.

This is a personal project where I wanted it to feel like film stills, because the story is loaded with emotion.  The less purposeful and pulled back you are, the more honest it feels.

I do love denim- all kinds. And I wanted to celebrate it.

I do love denim- all kinds. And I wanted to celebrate it.

If you've grown up somewhere where you've never seen snow and freaked out when you saw it for the first time- thats how I felt when I saw an abundance of lemon trees in LA.  I was trying every possible way to make use.

If you’ve grown up somewhere where you’ve never seen snow and freaked out when you saw it for the first time- thats how I felt when I saw an abundance of lemon trees in LA.  I was trying every possible way to make use.

I like to document those people that have had an impact on my life.  Maren is one of them.

I like to document those people that have had an impact on my life.  Maren is one of them.

This happened randomly and all you can do is be ready to capture.  I thought for sure he would never smoke inside his beautiful "Restoration Hardware" home.  But I once I said it he was up for the challenge.

This happened randomly and all you can do is be ready to capture.  I thought for sure he would never smoke inside his beautiful “Restoration Hardware” home.  But I once I said it he was up for the challenge.

How many years have you been in business?
I went out on my own as a photographer 3 years ago.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I went to Columbia College in Chicago and received a BFA in Photography. The camaraderie I experienced from both faculty and classmates during my time there was electric. Then you work your first day on set and you realize you know nothing about how this industry works. A formal education was a great foundation, but only scratched the surface.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I mean there’s a plethora of who, what, and whens that all culminated into “I don’t see how I could not do this everyday.” But specifically I had some amazing professors that would just rip apart your work in critique, which challenged me and pushed me to become a thorough and intentional artist. Linda Levy believed in me and pushed me out the door when I was afraid to make the leap from assisting to shooting. And of course there are those specific artists, directors, writers, cinematographers, that I am constantly inspired by and in awe of- Diane Arbus, Erwin Olaf, Wes Anderson, Anton Corbijn, Sagmiester, Larry David, Thom Yorke.

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 think the easiest way to answer this question is to “be random.” Put yourself in totally random places and situations, with different people all the time, and you will have a plethora of ideas to let bake until they are ready to hatch. That’s sort of what I do. Embrace the spontaneity in life. Also being present in the moment and in tune with all the hilarious human behavior that is happening constantly around you for great entertainment value. People are weird but we all try really hard not to show it. Yet the quirky parts of us are the best parts of us.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Ok, I am not trying to be a “goodie-two-shoes,” but honestly every client I have had thus far has had a respect for what I am bringing to the table and has allowed me to do what I do best. And vice versa, I respect what they need to make their client and team happy. You get exactly what they want, and then you give them a different perspective that sometimes you are unable to see from being too close to a project. It’s the perfect balance and a great collaboration. Everyone wants the best results for the most reasonable cost. You problem solve and think ‘out of the box’ to make something look expensive in a “bogo” kind of way.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
There’s nothing better than meeting someone in person, getting to know them, and seeing what work strikes a chord most for them personally. Yet meetings are hard to get, so I try to make sure my personality comes thru in the marketing materials that I put out into the world. Business is personal, so I love to write notes or make ironic statements on my printed promos. And as much as I wasn’t fond of social media before, now I’ve truly accepted it’s essential and a great tool for business. There are those that abuse it, but I think the power of the potential networking outweighs it.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
It’s over before its even started. That might be a little harsh on my part, but one thing about this industry is you must have a thick skin, strong sense of self, and succinct vision to get anywhere. Who really wants someone to spoon-feed what you think they want? It seems so disingenuous and unattractive. I suppose I relate it to dating. Stop trying so hard and just be yourself. Whatever you are passionate about the most will be the most obvious anyway.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Constantly. That’s the only thing you can do to perfect your craft, develop your style, and find your voice. You can’t be afraid of bad ideas. I think there’s a lot more to lose by not getting it down on paper, or further, creating and being afraid to share. What’s the point? It’s just a discussion or conversation I am trying to start, and there’s no right or wrong. I understand being vulnerable can be scary, but how can you be an artist and not put yourself out there and literally leave your heart on the page. It’s always your best stuff, even if it’s too revealing. The process of discovery and evolution of a concept will help cause a breakthrough. The more you create the higher your chances of making your best work all the time.

How often are you shooting new work?
All the time. Once a week to once a month I’m working on personal projects depending on how busy I get with client work.

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Kristyna is an advertising and editorial photographer who specializes in storytelling.  Her work focuses on conceptual narrative and portraiture. Her clients range from Canon, to Inc. Magazine, to the New York Times.  After growing up blocks from 8 Mile Road and traveling all over the Asia-Pacific as an on-location retoucher, she’s capable of finding a common denominator regardless of upbringing, culture, or language.  She is inspired by her own paradoxical observations, the idiosyncrasies of human behavior, and an inherent love for fashion and design. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and Chicago. Kristyna is represented by Friend + Johnson.

www.kristynaarcher.com
www.friendandjohnson.com

Say hello at me@kristynaarcher.com
Follow her antics:
Instagram @kristynaarcher
Twitter @kristynaarcher

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

The Daily Edit – Max S. Gerber iPhone Promo

- - The Daily Edit

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iPhone  Promo

18×18” square, printed on uncoated text stock

Photographer:  Max S. Gerber
Instagram: @msgphoto

How difficult was it to edit down to 81 images of the 700 you shot?
Actually, I stopped counting after 700, so I’m guessing I’m near 800 by now. But yes, the editing and selection was difficult. From the beginning the important thing for me was that it not seem to be about any one picture, or about any one individual. That goes for putting the promo together and also for the project as a whole. Anyone I come across under the right circumstances – that is, the light and environment – I’ll ask if I can take a photo of them,  over time it became rather democratic.

The promo poster is a 9×9 grid of 81 portraits in total. Since I caption each individual image with the person’s first name and occupation only, when trying to get an edit that represents an overview of the larger project, who the people are mattered to me a lot. To edit them I just went through and picked out the shots that either had special meaning to me because of my relationships with the people in the photos, or I chose people who just had remarkable faces. Unfortunately that didn’t narrow it down altogether too much. Nearly everyone’s face is fascinating, depending on what you’re looking for. I think my initial edit had something around 150 images, and then was further narrowed down from there. I built it like a jigsaw puzzle. It was a lot of shuffling things around at first, but then I worked out of anchor points. The corners were important. The middle edges were important. The center of the poster was important.

When approaching the layout of the grid I wanted mostly to make sure that no one area drew too much attention. This thing is not about any one person. You should be able to look at it and focus on something – someone – different each time. Also, to be honest, I’m very aware of the potential to be messing with things indefinitely. At a certain point you have to just call it done and move on with your life. With any promo I’m absolutely certain I’m agonizing over details far more than anyone who will actually receive it.

How did you decide what images were edited into each row? Was there a mix you were looking for?
Yes, definitely. I wanted a good mix of male and female, and a good mix of different visual types of people and different occupations. I have everything from students and laborers, kids to CEOs, actors and even a Nobel prize winner. Like I said, the primary goal was to make it so that no one person, regardless of who they are or what they do, took precedence over another. Of course, everyone’s eye settles somewhere at first and I’m always interested to see which pictures stand out to people. It’s always different.

In laying out each row I just had to attempt not to cluster similar types. For example, I like that the Nobel prize winner is sandwiched between a PA and a security guard. It’s an equalizer.

How long had you been working on this series and is it still ongoing?
I took the first picture that could arguably be said to be part of the series in the early summer of 2012. I was introduced to instagram by Charlie Hess, an art director here in LA, and did the standard thing that people did at the beginning of instagram – pictures of my wife, my cat, my lunch, etc. It was great fun and taking snapshots was very liberating at first. After I took the first real portrait using this processing method, I looked at it in the overall instagram grid of what I was doing previously and thought it might be cool to try to get a whole row to match up. So I did a couple more and liked it. Then, of course, I thought it would look cooler if I could get the whole screen of thumbnails to match, and it kind of took off from there. Honestly, I didn’t expect it to continue for so long and I didn’t expect people to respond to it. At the time I was doing a lot of corporate photography that I wasn’t very invested in personally. The instagram portraits became something I could do for myself under my own parameters that reminded me what I love about portrait photography.

The project is definitely still ongoing. After 50 portraits I found myself actively looking for people every day. After 100 I started to get a good idea of what types of things would work – what environments, what light, what clothing, what type of people. After 200 portraits I started to appreciate the sheer scope of the people I’d encounter. I assume that one day I’ll stop doing these portraits – that I’ll either get bored of them, or the various apps I use to process them will cease to be supported. Every time I consider moving on to something else, though, I find someone with such a remarkable face that I’m sucked right back in.

Carmelo, doorman

Carmelo, doorman

Kyle, auto body tech

Kyle, auto body tech

Sharky, student

Sharky, student

Sergio, shop foreman

Sergio, shop foreman

Daniel, carpenter

Daniel, carpenter

Jose, carpenter

Jose, carpenter

Dwain, neuroscientist

Dwain, neuroscientist

I heard your filters are proprietary, do you have plans to develop and license this?
Ha! I suppose it says a lot about my business acumen that this has never occurred to me before.
Short answer: No. Long answer: No, because focusing on the how distracts from the why. From the beginning the most common question I heard was “Hey, man, what filter is that?” and right away that distracted from the point for me. When I look at all the portraits together it’s not the commonality of processing that’s interesting to me, it’s the commonality of people. The specific parameters of the style I chose to spit them out into the world hopefully makes them seem nifty enough to look at closer, and democratizes them. Everyone treated the same way – same crop, same process, similar light. Everyone as a group.

All the photos are shot and edited fully in the iPhone. I think if people knew how straightforward it really was they’d be disappointed. In truth it’s not one filter, it’s a combination of things through a handful of different apps. It’s just a process I stumbled upon accidentally and sort of liked enough to try again. Photography seems to suffer somewhat from being an inherently technical medium. Everyone looks for the trick rather than for the intent. Tricks come and go, and ultimately trends fade and shift and blend into each other. But I totally get it. I understand that feeling of seeing a picture and being struck by the wizardry of it and wanting to know how it’s done. That’s part of the wonder that a technically based medium affords. It’s great, when it doesn’t overtake the intention of the photo. I see this from photo students a lot. They figure out Photoshop, or they learn to crank the clarity slider all the way up to 100, or they figure out how to use edge lights.  All. The. Time. Rather than taking pictures that have emotional meaning or strive for connection they instead have . . . a look. That said, I completely understant. There’s a lot of noise out there and it’s incredibly difficult to get noticed in this business. Having a look gets you in the door, but then there’s got to be something else.

Then again, maybe you’re right? Maybe I should reveal the trick and license it, perhaps that would free me to go on to the next thing. I think I’d miss doing it, though.

How did you select your subjects?
One of the nice things about the instagram portraits is that they’re truly not for anyone but myself. I didn’t start taking them with an eye toward making a promo, toward impressing an art director, toward pleasing a client, toward satisfying a subject. I just liked straightforward portraits, found a process that worked for me, and wanted to pay more attention to the people in my life. That’s really what it boils down to now, after so many. Photography has long been used as a tool for memory, and it’s been really wonderful having this record of all the people I encounter. I remember things better this way. I remember names. I remember where we were. I remember what we talked about. Without being vigilant for the next face I worry that sometimes the days would just blend into each other too much, if that makes any sense.

In terms of selecting subjects. . .well. . . first of all, any person that comes to my house during daylight hours is pretty much fair game, as far as I’m concerned. That’s why I’ve got so many pictures of handymen and contractors and cable installers and plumbers and such. My wife is very patient with me doubling back into a store or down a street to ask a stranger if I could take their picture while she waits. Someone on my feed recently commented “I love how you collect people”, and I hadn’t really thought of it like that, but maybe that’s what it is. Charlie Hess refers to it as my Family of Man, though that seems fairly lofty to me. I just like taking portraits with my phone. It’s great fun, even when other aspects of photography are not great fun.

How long did each portrait take, describe the process please.
I have a very low rate of refusal. Out of 800 or so subjects I think I’ve been turned down maybe 20-30 times. I consider that quite good. The actual process is very simple, and usually takes only around 30 seconds to a few minutes, depending on how chatty we’re all feeling. Some open shade or a good window, and a plain white wall, that’s it. I try to keep it as simple as possible so that the person can be the interesting thing. I don’t want it to be about the light or the environment.

We live in an age where people are hyper aware of the power of their image, of what it can be used for and how far it can travel away from them. People are cautious, and rightly so. Still, I think the fact that I’m shooting on my phone negates some of people’s suspicions. Certainly if I were walking around with a Canon and a 24-70mm lens trying to do the same thing I’d get shut down far more often. Everyone has an iPhone and everyone takes pictures with it all the time. It’s perceived as no big deal. I have a grid of about 30 of the photos on my phone’s lock screen and if someone asks why I want to take their picture I usually just show them my phone and say “Oh, I’ve done about 700 of these.” Which, of course, is not a reason at all, but that usually is all it takes. I think that because there are so many, and I tell potential subjects that there are so many, it both relieves them of the pressure and also gives them just enough attention that it’s incentive to proceed. That is, sure, it’s a little momentary ego boost, and then they can get lost in the crowd if they’re not thrilled with the result. At least, I think so. It probably also helps that i’m a short, scrawny man who seems vaguely non-threatening.

How did you take your portrait?
I took that on my birthday in 2012. Honestly I don’t know why I did a profile that day, maybe just to accent my out of control bedhead. In terms of using it on the reverse of the promo poster, that was a somewhat last minute decision. Initially I wanted to do a grid of silhouettes with captions to mimic the grid on the front of the poster. That proved to be too difficult in light of my limited Photoshop skills, low patience level and also because I was afraid it would bleed through too much once the final piece was printed. Ultimately in deciding to just put one larger photo and captions on the back it always seemed like it would be a self portrait. If I chose just one of the random 800 to make larger it would give that one person too much weight and it didn’t really make sense. Then again, now that i’m talking about it, it sure does seem egotistical to make my own head the biggest thing there, doesn’t it? I think I chose that one because I wanted it to be decidedly different from the main group. That profile makes me laugh, reminds me that I should get a haircut more often, and hopefully doesn’t seem too serious.

Has this promo been well received and gotten you some work?
I’ve printed 1000 pieces. I printed so many because separate even from photo editors and art directors/buyers/whatnot, I want to make sure that the people who actually like this series of pictures have the opportunity to get a poster. Therefore a lot of my first run of mailing was to non-potential-clients, some of whom I know personally, some not, who I just thought would enjoy having it. I plan to mail out approximately 600-800 or so. I’ve already sent out about 75 and gotten a pretty good response, mostly from people I already know. I’m in the process of addressing and sending out the remainder – which I’m doing by hand, therefore it’s taking a long time. Probably not the best plan, now that I think about it, but it feels so much better. Again, little details that nobody cares about except me. I still maintain that the survival rate of all of these promo pieces that photographers send out is so abysmally low that unless you’re doing something almost entirely for yourself because you want it to exist in the world as an object somewhere, then there’s really no point. I’m fully aware that 90% of them are destined for the trash. Life is an impermanent thing. I would be sending them out a whole lot faster, but at the moment I’ve been distracted by a week old infant. These portraits are at @msgphoto – The cutest newborn the world has ever seen is at @miloandclark.

-11

What are you typically shooting these days?
Most recently portraiture. I’ve photographed Frank Gehry for El Semenal, the largest Sunday magazine in Spain. Earlier this week I photographed a trauma surgeon in a specially configured operating room partially funded by the DOD for a hospital research magazine here in Los Angeles. Unfortunately those publications haven’t yet gone to print so I can’t share the photos. Most of my clients have long publication cycles, but here are a couple of relatively recent things.

Nicholas, 29 year old stomach cancer patient, for Discoveries Magazine

Nicholas, 29 year old stomach cancer patient, for Discoveries Magazine

Dr. Arieh Warshel, 2013 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, photographed for USC

Dr. Arieh Warshel, 2013 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, photographed for USC

DL Hughley for New Wave Entertainment/DVD Cover (out-take)

DL Hughley for New Wave Entertainment/DVD Cover (out-take)

 
Dan Curry, Visual Effects Supervisor for the Star Trek TV shows, photographed for Middlebury College.

Dan Curry, Visual Effects Supervisor for the Star Trek TV shows, photographed for Middlebury College.

This Week In Photography Books: Mark Mattock

by Jonathan Blaustein

I saw my first yellow leaves this morning. It’s August 13th, as I write this. Seems a little early to be thinking about Autumn.

In fact, you’re probably sitting on a beach just now, nursing a cold one, cursing my reminder of Summer’s impending end. I hate you, Blaustein, you mutter under your breath.

Every year, I think I’m going to do so much more, with my free time in Summer, than I actually do. My wife and I make a metaphorical list of adventures, and then succumb to hanging out around the house, cooking good meals with farmers market produce.

No mountain climbing. No swimming in Abiquiu Lake, in the shadow of Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch. No road trips around the Southern Rockies. I guess we’re just lazy.

Hell, I didn’t even go fishing this year, and I have a trout stream in my backyard. (It might have less to do with my torpor, and more to do with the nasty, fishy taste of trout. Not enough honey and lemon in the world, to cover it up.)

I did take my son fishing a couple of years ago, with my wife’s family. We went to Hopewell Lake, less than an hour away. Most people would call it a pond, but f-ck those guys.

It ended up as one of the more traumatic experiences of my decade. Why? Because the entire place was covered with caterpillars. Am I exaggerating? For once… no.

They were so thick they blanketed every surface you could see, in 3 inch intervals. It was an alien infestation gone wrong. (As opposed to an alien infestation gone right?) They came in to eviscerate the local Aspen trees, and simply sucked all the fun out of our day. (Damn Global Warming. Such a buzz kill.)

Needless to say, I don’t know much about fishing, beyond the fact that I’m no good at it. But it is a Summer activity par excellence. So what do we do when we want to go fishing, that perfect euphemism for “not working,” but can’t do it IRL?

You know the answer. We look at a photo book. Or in your case, you look at pictures of a photo book, and read the nonsense I type above. (Yes, this nonsense.)

“The Angler who fell to Earth,” is a new hard cover book that ended up in my stack from photo-eye. It’s a gray, slim hardcover, and looks like something that MACK would put out. (Like the book from 2 weeks ago.)

Surprisingly, though, it’s an independent publication, designed and published by the artist, Mark Mattock. I learned that from the post script, as nothing in the volume itself suggested it was DIY.

In fact, nothing in the book suggests much of anything. It’s dedicated to Matisse, opens with a cool quote by Thoreau, and then is all pictures.

Like last week’s book, this one is abstract and obscure in it’s thinking. It gives you nothing but pictures, and leaves the rest up to you.

Who is our angler? Where is our angler? What does he do but fish? Why is he riding a train? Is he riding a train? What is going on here? How many questions can I ask in a paragraph before the Internet police arrest me for being overly inquisitive? I don’t know.

I like a book that crawls down into my brainstem, and this is one of them. Lots of cool pictures. Still lives mixed in with more narrative shots, which is another of MACK’s hallmarks. Does Mark Mattock like MACK books? Does he sell sea shells by the seashore? I don’t know, but I’m betting yes.

I love the upside-down newspaper headline about a worm crawling into someone’s brain. (Written in the first-person to boot.) And the fishhook tattoo. And especially the photo of a note telling our angler not to fish in a particular spot. (The detail “We know who you are” is so good I might have to steal it. Is it real? Once again, I don’t know.)

Last week, I ruminated on the beauty of the potential dialogue between artist and audience. Here, the artist is clearly going for it. Here are my pictures. I will not tell you what they are about. If you like my book, you’ll probably try to figure it out. If you don’t, you’ll likely get angry and confused, and hurl it against a wall, sad it won’t shatter.

Bottom Line: Cool, strange pictures about an Alien Fisherman

To Purchase “The Angler who fell to Earth” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

Art Producers Speak: Chris Sembrot

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 Chris Sembrot. I love him not only as an artist, but as a person. He has a unique style and was great to work with.

Personal work and having fun with a new underwater housing.

Personal work and having fun with a new underwater housing.

Part of an ongoing personal project on androgyny.

Part of an ongoing personal project on androgyny.

Personal work from a mid-summer tri in Asbury Park, NJ 2013.

Personal work from a mid-summer tri in Asbury Park, NJ 2013.

Personal work from a mid-summer tri in Asbury Park, NJ 2013.

Personal work from a mid-summer tri in Asbury Park, NJ 2013.

I love shooting friends especially on the first warm day after a long Winter.

I love shooting friends especially on the first warm day after a long Winter.

Cover assignment featuring Annie Clark (St. Vincent) and David Byrne for the Guardian Guide. Was shot on location in David Byrne's studio in NYC.

Cover assignment featuring Annie Clark (St. Vincent) and David Byrne for the Guardian Guide. Was shot on location in David Byrne’s studio in NYC.

Music feature assignment for Billboard Magazine with DJ Martin Garrix, shot in Atlantic City, NJ.

Music feature assignment for Billboard Magazine with DJ Martin Garrix, shot in Atlantic City, NJ.

Ad campaign for Mississippi Gulf Tourism. We shot 14 locations and activities over the course of 4 days.

Ad campaign for Mississippi Gulf Tourism. We shot 14 locations and activities over the course of 4 days.

Ad campaign for Mississippi Gulf Tourism. We shot 14 locations and activities over the course of 4 days.

Ad campaign for Mississippi Gulf Tourism. We shot 14 locations and activities over the course of 4 days.

Cover assignment featuring the band Phoenix. Shot on location at the East Village Standard hotel in NYC.

Cover assignment featuring the band Phoenix. Shot on location at the East Village Standard hotel in NYC.

Cover assignment featuring the band Phoenix. Shot on location at the East Village Standard hotel in NYC.

Cover assignment featuring the band Phoenix. Shot on location at the East Village Standard hotel in NYC.

Part of an ongoing personal project on androgyny.

Part of an ongoing personal project on androgyny.

Cover assignment featuring Annie Clark (St. Vincent) and David Byrne for the Guardian Guide. Was shot on location in David Byrne's studio in NYC

Cover assignment featuring Annie Clark (St. Vincent) and David Byrne for the Guardian Guide. Was shot on location in David Byrne’s studio in NYC

Feature for Running Times highlighting an elite women's high school cross country team in Pennsylvania.

Feature for Running Times highlighting an elite women’s high school cross country team in Pennsylvania.

Feature for Running Times highlighting an elite women's high school cross country team in Pennsylvania.

Feature for Running Times highlighting an elite women’s high school cross country team in Pennsylvania.

Personal work and having fun with a new underwater housing.

Personal work and having fun with a new underwater housing.

Part of my ongoing personal project titled "Urban Surfers." Each portrait was shot around sunrise (the coldest months reserved for only those dedicated to Winter surfing), and within a 2 block radious of the subject's home.

Part of my ongoing personal project titled “Urban Surfers.” Each portrait was shot around sunrise (the coldest months reserved for only those dedicated to Winter surfing), and within a 2 block radious of the subject’s home.

Part of my ongoing personal project titled "Urban Surfers." Each portrait was shot around sunrise (the coldest months reserved for only those dedicated to Winter surfing), and within a 2 block radious of the subject's home.

Part of my ongoing personal project titled “Urban Surfers.” Each portrait was shot around sunrise (the coldest months reserved for only those dedicated to Winter surfing), and within a 2 block radious of the subject’s home.

Part of my ongoing personal project titled "Urban Surfers." Each portrait was shot around sunrise (the coldest months reserved for only those dedicated to Winter surfing), and within a 2 block radious of the subject's home.

Part of my ongoing personal project titled “Urban Surfers.” Each portrait was shot around sunrise (the coldest months reserved for only those dedicated to Winter surfing), and within a 2 block radious of the subject’s home.

How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been on my own professionally for the past four years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
A combination of both. But, the best part of my education came after I left school. Working as an art buyer for five years really allowed me to learn the business of commercial photography from the inside out. Plus it gave me direct access to art/creative directors on a daily basis. It helped forge relationships with people I work with today.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
It had to be my mom. When we were growing up, she’s the one who always had a camera in her hand, capturing whatever moments she could. When referring to my eye, she always says, “You got that from me.” Hearing her say that always makes me smile!

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 try and shoot personal projects that have a different look and feel than my “normal” work. My biggest goal whenever I concept a project idea is to somehow bring out my personality. I stay in the moment and enjoy the freedom of capturing something that strikes me on that day, hour, minute. I don’t shoot nearly as many tests shoots as I do personal projects, because I want my personal work to stand on its own.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I think the honest answer is sometimes, yes. However, recently (more often than not) I have had the good fortune of creative freedom. Working with creative and account teams who trust that my creative vision will ultimately fill the needs of our client makes all the difference in a shoot. It’s not always easy but when you communicate with each other and collaborate as a team, it makes all the difference.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
When I’m not sending out my quarterly mailers, and personal emails, I’m meeting face to face. If I’m given 15 minutes of a busy art producer’s time, you better believe I’m giving it my all. Social media is also huge. I blog 2-3 times a month and am consistently reaching out on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Don’t. Show what moves you – what you’re proud of. Show work that is inspiring for a creative to see and hopefully he/she can envision it in a campaign or editorial spread. Be bold and show what you’re passionate about.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I am always keeping notes on ideas when they strike. I cull through them constantly and pursue the ideas that keep me inspired. I think many of my Facebook or Instagram friends would agree that I like to utilize both as creative outlets.

How often are you shooting new work?
I’m shooting every week. And when I’m not shooting, I’m thinking about it. New ideas fill my head constantly.

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Chris first cut his teeth in the commercial photography world while working as an agency art buyer and producer. He consciously chose the agency route because it offered him experience on the business side and allowed him to shoot and build his first professional portfolio.

Chris now works and lives in his hometown of Philadelphia where he is channeling his love for photojournalism into commercial work. His work has been featured in Communication Arts, Graphis, PDN, American Photography and OneEyeland. His clients include Converse, Reebok, Fuse Network, Guardian Guide, Red Bull Majestic Athletic and Nylon Magazine.

In his spare time, Chris enjoys surfing, building furniture, brewing beer and developing ideas for his next adventure.

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

The Daily Edit – ESPN/ The Body Issue : Karen Frank

- - The Daily Edit

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ESPN


VP Creative Digital and Print Media:
John Korpics
Senior Director of Photography: Karen Frank
Creative Director: Chin Wang
 Magazine Art Director: John Yun
Senior Deputy Photo Editor: Nancy Weisman
Project Photo Editor: Kristen Schaefer Geisler

Heidi: What type of body celebration are you looking for from each of these shoots?
Karen: We’re looking to celebrate the athletic form – in all shapes and sizes. our goal is to capture the personality of each subject as well, and to create an intimate, intensely personal and radically different look at the most amazing bodies in the world.

Describe some of the considerations that go into choosing a final image. Do some of the images share the same attributes?
The body issue is about a six-month production. the first shoot happened in early January, and the last shoot in mid-June. we edit the shoots as they come in, and look for the strongest images overall. when we have a majority of the shoots, we take a look at the collection and edit for a mix of different moods and styles throughout the portfolio. it’s important to us to have a good amount of the images show the athlete engaged in his or her sport. we find that this really frees them up to be less self-conscious about being naked, and has made for some dramatic images and some beautiful locations. coco ho surfing in hawaii, ginger huber cliff diving in Texas, NigelSylvester with his bmx bike in an abandoned construction disposal site in Los Angeles, and Jimmy Spithill sailing in San Francisco harbor are some examples of this.

With a 6 month long production, is it hard to loose the flow? Do you revisit your previous shoots to refresh yourself?
Although it was a long production, the shoots seemed to happen in a fairly steady flow.  we did look back as new shoots came in, but we also kept in mind what we had already shot as we made new assignments.  it was exciting to see how everything came together.

Is this one of your most challenging edits?  If so why?
Yes, and no.

No, because the athletes we photograph are stunning, and each of them are totally committed to making strong images. the energy and integrity that they bring to the shoot is reflected in the images, and there are always lots of great shots to choose from. plus how lucky am i to be editing images of amazing bodies?

Yes, because the athletes who participate are taking a risk when they sign up for this. we want to honor that by choosing images that best reflect their strength, beauty and personality. Often – but not always – the athletes see the images on set, and have a strong opinion about their favorite images. there are a few – and it always surprises me – who choose not to look at the images, who completely trust in the process and are confident that we’ll represent them at their best. they put so much into it, and it’s difficult to choose just one image from the many strong options.

Fortunately, we run an extended online gallery where we get to share images that don’t make it into the magazine.
http://espn.go.com/espn/photos/gallery/_/id/11143740/image/1/venus-williams-bodies-want

In one of the behind the scenes galleries, you have poses sketched out on a paper plate, besides this sketch what other interesting reference was supplied by either the photographer or the athlete?
Peter Hapak sent us photo reference of a wood paneled gymnasium, reminiscent of an old Adirondack camp.  he asked that we try to find a basketball court like that for our shoot with Serge Ibaka.  we eventually did find the perfect place – it was an old court on the top floor of a church in Brooklyn. Mark Williams + Sara Hirakawa really wanted to shoot bob sledder Aja Evans on location rather than in studio and had their hearts set on a space that felt sleek and aerodynamic, like Aja’s state-of-the-art bob sled.  they sent images of airplane hangars, and we ended up doing the shoot in a private airplane hangar at the Danbury, Connecticut Airport.
Travis and Lyn-z Pastrana had some very specific ideas about shots we could try and they had a jump built specifically for the shoot.  unfortunately, we weren’t able to use it on the day of the shoot due to the rain.  but the rain did make for some excellent mud, and they enjoyed having a mud fight with each other!

Can you share the process that happens for choosing the athletes and the appropriate photographer?
We worked with an extraordinary group of photographers on this portfolio: Mark Williams + Sara Hirakawa, Richard Phibbs, Morgan Maassen, Carlos Serrao, Peter Hapak, Martin Schoeller, Alexei Hay, Dean Treml, Art Streiber, Finlay Mackay, Max Vadukul, Paola Kudacki, Peggy Sirota, and Steven Lippman.

We take the athletes personalities into consideration when choosing photographers for the shoots. as with any shoot, but even more so in this case, it’s really important to create an atmosphere of comfort and trust. the athletes’ trust in the photographers with whom they are paired and willingness to reveal themselves is evident in the images that result from these collaborations.

We look at photographers who are at the top of their field for some of the action sports. Morgan Maassen who photographed surfer coco ho is an example. Morgan grew up surfing, is well-respected among the surf community, and has a cult following of devoted fans.

How much discussion is there about the actual body language prior to the shoot? Are details reviewed with each athlete or does it unfold organically?
There is lots of discussion that happens prior to the shoot. Some athletes are very involved from the beginning stages before they even arrive on set, and contribute ideas about how they’d like to be photographed. the Pastrana’s are an example of this. Martin Schoeller photographed them at their home in Maryland where all of their “toys” (bikes, boards, jumps and pits, etc.) were at our disposal. we were conceptualizing ideas with them months in advance. they were invested in, and part of, the creative process which fostered the collaboration and feeling of trust that we hope for. their willingness to try anything and their fun-loving spirit really comes through in the photos.

Were you on set and what can you share?
Yes. What amazes me, year after year, is the great energy and spirit of fun that happens on the body shoot sets. there’s always a bit of nervousness and trepidation at the beginning of the shoot, but it quickly dissolves and the athletes, in general, become very comfortable being naked. We try to keep the set intimate when the shooting begins. some athletes prefer a closed set, and need time to warm up to the process. others arrive ready to go, and have absolutely no inhibitions about posing naked.

There are lots of fun moments that happen on set. for the past two years, we’ve created a behind-the-scenes gallery from the shoots.

http://espn.go.com/espnw/photos/gallery/_/id/11139818/image/1/venus-williams-scenes-body-2014

Did you have styling on set or just props?
We have a glam squad on set (hair, makeup, manicurist), a prop stylist, and sometimes set designers as well. An example of this is the Angel McCoughtry shoot where a silver basketball court was constructed within the set designer’s studio warehouse in Atlanta.

I had been on nude set recently.  I remember having some anxiety days before the shoot. It all seemed to fade away once I was actually on set and in production, business as usual. I glanced towards the talent wearing just a belt and heels thinking,  “Aren’t you….cold?” Did you have any matter of fact thoughts?
The biggest practical concerns i have are about the safety of the athletes and the photo crew. It was pouring rain in Graford, Texas on the day of our photo shoot with Ginger Huber, and the rocks were slick. Jimmy Spithill sailed in the frigid San Francisco bay on the windiest day of the year, he had to stop often to warm up and avoid hypothermia.

What type of range were you looking for from the collection? ( sport to body type? )
We look to represent a wide range of sports and body types in the portfolio. this year, we showcased athletes in tennis, football, surfing, bmx biking, soccer, rallycross, skateboarding, basketball, baseball, cliff diving, swimming, boxing, bob sled, snowboarding, hockey, and sailing.

 

If you had to choose an adjective for the body issue what would it be?
Revealing

 

 

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Travis + LynZ Pastrana photographed by Martin Schoeller

 

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Venus Williams photographed by Williams + Hirakawa

 

 

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Larry Fitzgerald photographed by Richard Phibbs

 

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Larry Fitzgerald photographed by Richard Phibbs

 

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Coco Ho photographed by Morgan Maassen

 

 

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Coco Ho photographed by Morgan Maassen

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Megan Rapinoe photographed by Peter Hapak

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Nigel Sylvester photographed by Carlos Serrao

 

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Nigel Sylvester photographed by Carlos Serrao

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Serge Ibaka photographed by Peter Hapak

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Prince Fielder photographed by Alexei Hay

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Ginger Huber photographed by Dean Treml

 

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Angel McCoughtry photographed by Art Streiber

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Michael Phelps photographed by Carlos Serrao

 

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Michael Phelps photographed by Carlos Serrao

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Danyelle Wolf photographed by Peter Hapak

 

 

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Omar Gonzalez photographed by Finlay MacKay

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Aja Evans photographed by Williams+Hirakawa

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Tomas Berdych photographed by Max Vadukul

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Amy Purdy photographed by Paola Kudacki

 

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Bernard Hopkins photographed by Max Vadukul

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Marshawn Lynch photographed by Carlos Serrao

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Jamie Anderson photographed by Peggy Sirota

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Hilary Knight photographed by Martin Schoeller

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Jimmy Spithill photographed by Steven Lippman

Pricing And Negotiating: Executive Portraits For A Large Agency

Jess Dudley

Shoot Concept: Create executive portraits and corporate lifestyle images of employees at work in their corporate headquarters and on-site at one client location

Licensing: Digital collateral and digital advertising use of up to 40 images

Location: Corporate headquarters and one retailer location

Shoot Days: Three

Photographer: Corporate lifestyle specialist

Agency: Large agency in the Mid-Atlantic

Client: Business consultant

A well-known ad agency recently commissioned one of our East Coast photographers to shoot a library of images for their client’s rebranding effort. The agency’s B2B client provides consulting services to mid-large sized national brands. The goal of the shoot was to capture a range of corporate lifestyle images of real employees at work in their company offices and on-site at one of their client’s locations. The images were created for, and would be primarily used on, the client’s newly redesigned website, so while the production machine was in motion, the agency wanted to create 10 executive portraits to round out the website about page. On top of the web use, the agency also requested digital/web advertising use to cover their trade advertising needs.

Although all of the images would be used on the site, it was likely that only a handful would be used for any of the somewhat limited advertising use granted. However, as is often the case, the agency was unwilling to carve up the usage into different components, making it impossible to impose more than one licensing agreement on different sets within the library. Additionally, the agency was unwilling to bend on the duration of use. Just as with the extent of the usage, we determined that the likelihood of the client taking full advantage of perpetual use was low enough that we were willing to be flexible on that point. The images have a shelf life, and we assume that the value to the client degrades considerably after three to five years — executives change, services change, and imagery needs to be refreshed. After careful consideration and discussion with the art buyer, we decided to price the usage closer to the value of the intended use.

To determine the licensing fee, I considered the caliber of the photographer (in-demand), reputation of the agency (solid), size of the client (niche), intended audience (non-consumer), limited use (web/digital only), assumed shelf-life, number of shot days (2.5, but we priced as 3 — half days are a myth) and intensity of the production (pretty low). I also considered that 1/4 of the images would consist of executive portraits. After weighing all of the factors, we landed at $20,000. Other pricing sources like Fotoquote, Blinkbid’s Bid Consultant and the various stock sites would have us quote the usage fee in the six-figure range, but those pricing resources don’t account for the nuance and just keep multiplying, regardless of the influencing factors and/or diminishing value to the client, and photographer, over time.

From a production standpoint, this project was relatively low impact. The photographer would need to show up to the provided locations with his or her crew, and make pictures of the provided resources. That being said, because we were working through a fairly large agency, their expectations would be slightly more intensive than you may initially expect.

Here’s the approved estimate:

P and N July

Tech/Scout Day: I included a tech/scout day for the photographer and agency to walk through the offices and client locations to make sure everyone was on the same page creatively, and allow the photographer to consider lighting and equipment needs.

1st Assistant Days: I included four days for the first assistant — one to prep gear (and/or attend the scout) and three to shoot.

2nd Assistant Days: The second assistant would be on hand for all three shoot days.

Digital Tech Days: The tech would only be needed on the corporate lifestyle days. The agency wouldn’t need to review the executive portraits on set, so we were able to forgo that expense on the portrait day.

Equipment: $4500 covered costs for a DSLR, a backup, lenses, grip equipment and portable strobe kit, some of which the photographer’s production company owned and would be renting at market rate for the shoot and some that would need to be rented from a local rental house.

Producer: Even though a great deal of the production elements would be provided by the client and agency, we felt that a producer would still be beneficial during the shoot. Since there wasn’t much in the way of pre-production I only included one day for prep (arrange catering, book/confirm the five crew members and pull together a call sheet), one day for the tech/scout and three days for the shoot.

Production RV: The client couldn’t guarantee the availability of convenient staging area so I included a production RV for the two lifestyle days. Since we would be stationary for the executive portraits, it wasn’t necessary on the third day.

Groomer: The subjects would be instructed to arrive camera-ready. The groomer would be on hand to make sure they were finessed a bit and looked their best when on camera.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: Covers time, equipment and costs for the initial import, edit, batch color correction and upload of the images to an FTP for client review and selection.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: Color correction, basic touch-up and specialized processing of the 40 selects. As the result of considerable post-processing, all of photographer’s images all have a distinct feel, which increases the cost for standard file prep.

File Transfer: This covers the cost to deliver the 40 selects via FTP.

Catering: I estimated to provide lunch on the two corporate lifestyle days. Because the third day was a “half day” we didn’t need to cover catering.

Miles, Expendables, FTP, and Misc: This covered out-of-pocket expenses the photographer and crew would accrue between mileage, FTP costs 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.

Results, Hindsight and Feedback: The photographer shot the project and the client came back to licensing 10 additional images. We set the rate for those at $750 each, including processing.

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: Brian David Stevens

by Jonathan Blaustein

By now, you know me pretty well. I’ve discussed just about every personal quirk and lifestyle detail possible. You name it, I’ve been willing to put it out there every Friday, for nearly 3 years.

All in the name of what, exactly? I write about photo books, so that you can look at the pictures.

I try to pick interesting, smart, challenging, or beautiful offerings every time. But occasionally, the stack runs short, and I have to pretend to be more excited than I really am. Those weeks, I might amp up the absurdity a hair. Turn the Blaustein-dial on the speakers up to 11. (Even if it’s meant to top out at 10.)

But rarely do we take a moment to ask why there are so many damn photo books to be begin with. It’s been accepted wisdom, these last 5 years, that every photographer wants a book. Today, I thought it might be worthwhile to stop and ask why.

I began thinking about it earlier this summer, when a colleague admitted to considering expansion into the publishing business. This, from the same person who swore to never go that route, as there is an occasional whiff of exploitation about the process. Seems the ridiculous dollars people are willing to spend were too alluring to ignore.

The industry seems to have moved over to a pay-to-play model to a shocking degree. That’s why we see another Kickstarter entreaty every day now. Artists, not the wealthiest of types, are seeking to raise anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 to have someone design and arrange for the printing of a paper-based-object. (Printed by a 3rd party, in most cases.)

I can’t help but wonder if that’s the most effective use of people’s time and money. Is this not a vanity business, for the most part? How many books do we need?

Every photographer is clearly entitled to spend his, her or (other peoples’) money however they like. It’s still a free country. But what is the end game?

Is it that a permanent object will outlive them? That it shall adorn countless shelves, when their bodies are decomposing in the ground? Or perhaps it is still a marketing object, as I was told by many in 2011-2? A marker of career success that makes people take you more seriously?

The problem with that line of reasoning is that when everyone has a book, having a book is no longer an exclusive proposition. And if everyone can and does have one, then having one does not make you automatically more successful than the hordes. Right?

Couldn’t 25G buy you a new car? Or pay off your student loans? Or cover year of graduate school? Or a trip around the world?

Might not a trip around the world add more than a bound-sheaf-of paper to a photographer’s burgeoning gravitas?

How many artists actually view making a book as an opportunity for communication? How many consider a book an expression of dialogue between themselves and an anonymous collection of strangers?

I ask you, having recently leafed through “Notting Hill Sound Systems,” for the third or fourth time. It was recently sent my way by English photographer Brian David Stevens, having been published by Café Royal Books. The artist and I have traded witticisms on Twitter occasionally, so he sent the book to see what I thought.

Book might not be the right word here. It’s more of a catalogue, or you might even call it a leaflet. It’s on decent-quality paper, and stapled in the middle. No separate cover at all.
So it couldn’t possibly have cost that much to make.

The entire book is filled with images of stacks of speakers sitting on the streets of London. Or so we assume. As there is no supporting text in this publication at all. No hints. No screeds. No explanation of what is going on.

Is it the documentation of an art school project? Are they readymades? Were they put there to be photographed, or were they a part of an existing system? There is almost no way to tell.

I wrote Brian to see what the deal was, and he provided me a link to some backstory. Apparently, right around now, there’s a big Reggae festival in the streets of Notting Hill, a posh West London neighborhood. The whole place becomes an epicenter of reefer madness for a day, and then it all goes back to normal.

He crept around the streets, early in the morning, well before the festivities, just to get this set of photographs. (In all their trippy ambiguity.)

Sitting here in Taos, there was no way for me to possibly know that. But the artist didn’t care. He wanted the viewer to see these things for what they were. Beautiful objects? Fascinating combinations of metal, wood and screen? Quiet totems that represent insanely loud bits of fun? (A nod to John Cage’s silent music?)

Again, we don’t know. After he told me what was up, I perused more carefully, and noticed that several images had “parking suspended” signs embedded within. The kind of things that municipal workers post right before a festival, or a film crew comes to shoot for the day.

So that’s at least a clue. But no more than that. To Londoners, this book will have a completely different meaning than to the rest of us. He’s communicating with them in code.

We get another read entirely. One that absolutely arouses curiosity. What is going on here, and why?

It makes me think the artist has given this whole publishing endeavor a lot of thought. He worked with a publisher, rather than self-publishing, but obviously found someone who understood his vision. And given that CRB is based in England, they were clearly down with the double meaning of the pictures.

They didn’t spend a Range Rover’s worth of cash to get the thing printed. (Or half a Bentley?) And then the first edition sold out quickly, so they got a second edition humming right away. (Which would have kept the costs down further, until a clear market was established.)

Yes, I’m rambling longer then normal today, which is odd, as I normally like to coast in the Dog Days of August. But I’ve been out of the classroom since mid-May, so you’ll have to allow me a teachable moment.

Please, don’t make a book unless you really know why you’re doing it. And if someone tells you to give them $40,000 so you can have your dreams met, just think carefully before writing the big fat check. Or maybe start summoning cheaper dreams.

Bottom Line: Cool catalogue to disseminate cool photos, not a paperweight

Go Here To Purchase “Notting Hill Sound Systems”

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Art Producers Speak: Erik Umphery

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 Erik Umphery. I love him not only as an artist, but as a person. He has an unique style and was great to work with.

Michelle Williams single art work for "Say Yes"

Michelle Williams single art work for “Say Yes”

Personal work shot in London

Personal work shot in London

Personal work shot in Barstow, CA

Personal work shot in Barstow, CA

Editoral shot for 360 Magazine

Editoral shot for 360 Magazine

Editoral shot for 360 Magazine

Editoral shot for 360 Magazine

Personal work shot in Tijanna, Mexico

Personal work shot in Tijanna, Mexico

Personal work shot in Barstow, CA

Personal work shot in Barstow, CA

Personal work shot in London

Personal work shot in London

Personal work shot in Malibu, CA

Personal work shot in Malibu, CA

Personal work shot in Palms Springs, CA

Personal work shot in Palms Springs, CA

Usher Raymond shot for BET Networks Image Campaign

Usher Raymond shot for BET Networks Image Campaign

Adesuwa shot for Essence Magazine denim Story

Adesuwa shot for Essence Magazine denim Story

Personal work shot in Downtown Los Angeles

Personal work shot in Downtown Los Angeles

Erykah Badu shot for Essence Magazine

Erykah Badu shot for Essence Magazine

How many years have you been in business?
3yrs 3months

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self-Taught

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I worked in corporate America for 9 years prior to becoming a professional photographer, and when the recession hit a lot of my friends lost their jobs and decided to pursue their passions. I was doing extremely well in my career, receiving accolades and a level of financial success that I had not believed I would have achieved at a young age, but I was unhappy. And the more friends I saw doing what they loved, even with the stress of booking that next job or knowing how everything was going to work out, the more I desired to pursue my passion. I guess it was like one of my favorite quote’s from Marianne Williamson, ”As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others the permission to do the same.” For me, my friend’s light gave me the permission to leave my comfort zone and being really living and pursuing something I love.

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?
Traveling is a big part of my life and it influences how I create. I think the biggest thing for me is being visually stimulated, so when I’m given the opportunity to go somewhere new I always jump at the chance. Living in Los Angeles, is the perfect place for me, because California has so much visually to offer, and it is accessible. I can hop in my car and in a few hrs, I can be on a mountain, in the desert, at the beach, on a cliff, etc…, so I’m always traveling being inspired and recently I’ve developed an appreciation for other types of arts (writing, acting, illustration) which has opened my eyes to an entirely new world of inspiration. The way I translate all of that into my own creativity is by taking everything that I see or read, and I try to do my best to translate that to my own experiences, to create something how I see it from my own perspective, so if I read something that inspires me I say how does that look in my mind, or if it’s a location I’ll ask myself what would be something I could see happening here.

Pushing the envelope creatively for me is always about doing something that I feel uncomfortable with. When I have butterflies in my stomach about something or I start hearing that little voice in my head questioning what I’m doing it let’s me know that I’m pushing myself to refine my true vision and creating something truly unique and from my perspective. I look for those feelings in everything I shoot.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I’ve been really fortunate that the assignments I’ve received early in my career the clients have given me a lot of flexibility, I’ve heard that isn’t always the case in this industry. I learned early on that you should focus on accomplishing what the client is looking for first then push the envelop with your creativity and typically the images that I find myself pushing the envelop on are the clients favorites, so it’s a win-win, I give the client what they want and I’m able to use the resources/production they have to create something I love.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I make it a point to travel to NY once a month and meet with agencies and magazines. I’ve been doing this for about a year now and it’s really been paying off. I do not have a rep, so I have to beat the pavement myself, but for me it is fun. I get to travel to an amazing city and meet so many interesting creative people. Not starting my career in this industry I look at as a positive and negative when it comes to reaching my buying audience. The positive is I don’t know how people in the industry reach their buying audiences so I’m not restricting myself to any industry norms that may exist, so I’m not tied to doing things a certain way because “that’s how things are done traditionally”. The negative is since I did not go to arts school, I do not have the network already of art directors and producers that I would have attended school with, but that’s ok I just have to work harder to build that network now.

Outside of face to face meetings, I attend Adhesive as often as I can to connect with creatives and sending personalized emails vs the typical email blast have help tremendously in starting a dialogue that will ultimately lead to new opportunities down the road.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
I know about this all to well, simply don’t do it. When I started I knew I wanted to shoot campaigns, so I’d shoot what I though art directors wanted to see. That did not get me far at all, and luckily I had a decent relationship with an art director that helped guide me as far away from that as possible. People want to see something different than what they have already seen and we all have the ability to create something different if we show things from our own experiences and perspective. You want the work you create to represent you, and to be work you are passionate about, which ultimately leads to you booking work that falls into your sweet spot vs work that you are not passionate about, and it definitely has away of showing.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I try to shoot for myself several times a month. At times when I’m really busy it can be challenging but, in order for me to continue growing and developing my vision/style it requires shooting a lot. Even though shooting jobs is great and required to sustain a living, there is nothing better than being able to create something that you have full creative control over. I plan to continue shooting for myself several times a month, 5, 10, and 20 years from now, because I love photography as a medium to create.

How often are you shooting new work?
This year has been really great for me both commercially and personally. I’ve been able to create new work that I’m extremely proud of every month, both personal and commercial.

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I’m originally from Baltimore, MD. I was introduced to photography by my Mother at a young age and developed my love for it. She passed when I was 11 and I stopped shooting. As I got older I had the desire to get back into photography, and even signed up for a course when I was in college, but you had to purchase a SLR camera and I could not afford it at the time. I graduated with a degree in Finance and went of to work in corporate America, several years into my career a friend posted on facebook, “who wants to take a photography class with me”, I went out purchased a camera and signed up for the 6 week class. This pretty much sums up my life now:
Running shoes, check. Camera, check. iPhone, check. I’m good. Gave up suits & ties for a camera and a hell-of-a-life.
 My mantra is to live, love, travel, eat and along the way capture these moments.

Erik Umphery
www.erikumphery.com
erik@erikumphery.com
310.387.1715

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

The Daily Edit – Communication Arts: Randal Ford

- - The Daily Edit
JA14_Cover_Ford

Communication Arts

Photographer: Randal Ford

Heidi: How hard was it to take that photograph of your son?
Randal: It actually wasn’t hard at all.  By the time I set up the portrait, he was in good spirits and we already had him checked out by a doctor. My son is such a sweet kid, but definitely all boy. And while this was his first shiner, it was definitely not his first bruise.  However, it was harder seeing the photos on screen than in person.  Looking at them on the computer was heartbreaking. Photographs immortalize a moment and maybe deep down I was scared that his face would always be like that.
 
What was your intention for this photo, posterity or something else?
As a parent I’m always photographing my kids.  Whether it’s with my iphone, a mirrorless camera, or a full setup with strobes.  I want to document their life, well, our life.  And this was part of that process.
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At what point did you know it was ok to take the portrait, did Ellis (your son ) give you any cues? Did you ask your wife for permission?
Once we knew he was physically okay and in good spirits, I felt like it was fine.    My wife knows I photograph everything, especially events like this so I had her full support from the get go.
 
I know you sat on these images for a few months after shooting them, thinking you may composite Ellis into a scene. How did you end up with this final image? 
As I mentioned it was tough to look at these on-screen so they sat on my hard drive for a couple months.  I thought it would be cool to composite him into an environment to further craft a story.  Maybe he was standing on a playground with a bunch of big kids behind him all laid out, or maybe he was in the middle of a boxing ring during a fight, or maybe we digitally painted a super hero sign on his chest.  For some reason I wanted to complicate things.  To further challenge myself.
None of the ideas really stuck though and I finally selected my favorite image and retouched it.
What was going on at the very moment of this particular shot?
The shoot itself only lasted 15 minutes and for a lot of the time he was sitting in this baby seat called a ‘bumbo’ which allows infants to sit up a little easier than if they were in a chair.  For this shot, he probably only looked at me like that for a split second.
I love showcasing kids (and animals) expressions that anthropomorphize them.  Or in other words, apply adult attributes to their character.  This shot, for example, conveys a toughness, a so-what, an I’m tough sort of look that an adult might give a opponent or enemy.  Maybe he was even thinking that for a split second.
 
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This portrait seems like a departure from the layered, rich body of work on your site.
What did you learn about yourself?
A lot of advertising work is layered and complex.  And I’m drawn to that and appreciate it.  I love the challenge of crafting a story in one image.  And sometimes that requires a lot of compositing, retouching, layering, and even CGI, to draw in the audience.
 
However, what I learned in this instance, with this photograph, was that the best way to tell a story is the simplest way.  I had these grand ideas of compositing him in an environment with layers, more talent, skies, and even cgi.  But I don’t think any of that would have been as compelling as this simple image.
 
Einstein said, ‘Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.’  I’m no Einstein and I’m no genius, but this sure does resonate with the lesson I learned with the success of this photograph.
 
Have you done any documentary work? Did this give you an insight into the moral banter that goes on in taking hard images?
I did a bit of documentary work in the early part of my career.  I don’t know if I gained any insight here.  I tend to stay out of moral banter and focus on creating compelling work. If the works gets people to talk, even if it’s banter, then I’m okay with that.

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I know you keep a camera around the house and take photos of your children, how did that influence this portrait?  
I always have a camera on hand.  Whether it’s an iphone, mirrorless, or dSLR.  It’s not often that I setup strobes and a background for my family stuff.  But this seemed like a fitting opportunity and my kids are used to having their photo taken so this wasn’t a unique situation, they know the deal.
 
How long did the transition take for you to go from father to photographer. I’m certain your first reaction was not to take a photo. 
When it happened I definitely didn’t have any thought that I should setup strobes and create a portrait.  But after he checked out okay, and was in good spirits, I thought, ‘I should really create a portrait of this.’  it needed to be shot.
 
Once you released the image to the public, were you concerned about backlash similar to what Jill Greenberg had experienced with her crying kids series?
I wasn’t concerned about it and in fact, it didn’t cross my mind until after it was published.  People who know me, know I have good intentions and would never place a kid in an uncomfortable situation.  However, his face was still going to be bruised up if I documented it or not.  I try to create compelling work first and foremost.  If I get criticized for documenting what’s in front of me, then I’m okay with that because personally I know my intentions were right.
 
What made you decided to include this image in your submission to CA? What did you think this image conveyed to fellow photographers?
Each year I submit 4-5 images to CA.  Some of my peers liked this image and some of them didn’t.  Obviously I’m biased but I felt like it was strong, graphic, and told a story.
Tell me about the full circle moment when  you received the email letting you know you had the cover?
So I’m sitting at our breakfast table reading some stuff on my computer with Ellis sitting in my lap.  During that time, I see an email come in from CA asking for permission to use the image on the cover.  I literally yell out loud, ‘what!? what!? Ellis, Buddy, you are going to be on the cover of CA, are you kidding me!?!’ I literally almost fell out of my chair.  I was elated to say the least and it was icing on the cake that I found out while he was sitting in my lap.  I can’t deny feeling that things happen for a reason and are not just coincidence.  Not the way this whole thing unfolded.


I know you have a son on the way, congratulations. How if at all has your family life impacted your career?
Thank you!  Okay, great question.  Family life has for sure impacted my career.  In a good way.  As the CA cover was about to come out I was running hard to get my website as fresh as possible and finish out a couple personal projects.  At one point, I expressed some frustration to my wife that I didn’t have enough time or energy because the kids were being a pill.  My wife looks at me and says, ‘you wouldn’t be in this situation if it weren’t for them!’  In other words, you wouldn’t be on the cover of CA if the kids didn’t present these daily challenges to you.  And I thought to myself, wow, how narcissistic am I thinking that this was all me!
 
The environment around you deeply influences you and my family is no exception to that.  Yes, I have less free time to snowboard and ride my mountain bike.  But I also have a lot to lose so motivation is not hard to come by.   I’m very focused and work very hard.  
The free spirit of children, without a doubt, enhances my creative outlook.  I’m a family guy.  And my family life deeply inspires me and provides great perspective for my personal and commercial work.
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You have such a range of imagery on your site, how would you describe your work.
I have a passion for photography and that passion spans multiple genres, and has grown significantly over the last couple of years.  I shoot everything from kids to cows to landscapes with an intent to always tell a story.  I sometimes struggle with it, but my goal is to create a common thread throughout my body of work.  I hope my audiences sees that commonality.
 
Do you ever get criticized for having too much range?
I’m very self critical.  Potentially to a fault, so I think about this a lot.  At the end of the day, I have to follow my gut and right now, I feel like I’m doing the right thing.  Time will tell if that’s true but I am grateful to be doing what I’m doing right now.
How has living in Austin shaped you as photographer? Is it nice to be out of the fray NYC and other major cities?  
Austin is a great place to call home.  I travel for 95% of my work but it’s a great home base and easy to get to both coasts.  Don’t get me wrong I would love to work more and shoot more in Austin.  There are just certain advantages and production needs that are better suited for NY or LA.  Being a Texan has definitely shaped me as a photographer.  I think that’s evident in my imagery for sure.  I also think by living in Texas I get slightly different perspectives, creative or otherwise, than if I lived in NY or LA.  I also like my space (smile)

This Week In Photography Books: Frederic Brenner

by Jonathan Blaustein

I was sitting in a hot tub in Dixon, New Mexico, the other day. My attempts at relaxation were futile, as two soon-to-be seven-year-old boys insisted on jumping in like enormous balls of hail. SPLASH! SPLASH! (No, it wasn’t very relaxing, but the hot water felt good on my sore shoulder.)

Soon enough, I gave up on achieving bliss, and began to chat with my new friend Stephan, who’s visiting from Brooklyn. How strange, that two 40-something Jewish guys might hit it off in the hinterlands of the American West. (Sarcasm intended.) He’s a very bright guy, and told me on several occasions that he’s been reading high level stuff on his holiday.

Naturally, I asked him what he was catching up on. Calculus, physics, philosophy. That sort of thing. (All while I’ve been addictively refreshing my browser to get the latest Arsenal Transfer News. Embarrassing.)

Just as I was exiting the hot tub, he mentioned a concept in computer science theory called an NP problem. (It stands for nondeterministic polynomial time.) Apparently, they’re not solvable via the technology of the day. So they’re alluring to many a great mind.

The unsolvable problem is a somewhat nihilistic concept, when we bring it down to the human level. Can poverty ever be eradicated? I doubt it. And didn’t Bill Gates try to annihilate smallpox or some such disease, only to see it make a genuine comeback in the chaos of Syria. (Facts can be checked on Google, but I’m just spitballing here.)

If you were to poll a bunch of random people about what conflagration is never likely to burn itself out, I’d bet they’d say “The Middle East.” Push them further, and you know they’ll say Israel. The homeland of my ancestors.

Northern New Mexico actually looks a bit like Israel, in the right light. I know, because I was there for a summer vacation/ teen tour in 1991. Smack dab in the middle of the first Gulf War. (Speaking of not relaxing…) All I remember is trying to sneak off for a nap during Kibbutz work duty, and downing horrible Russian vodka to summon enough courage to hit on a pretty girl. (Yes to getting super-drunk, no to any success with the lady.)

People were all geared up for war back then, as they have been since the country’s inception. Which was rather recent, given that my people were living there forever, before we got ejected by the Romans. As of 1948, though, things have looked grim, with respect to any kind of lasting peace.

Of course, I write this now, in the middle of yet-one-more episode of War. People killing people, to try to make a point. Which is?

I certainly won’t be able to tell you, from my cozy chair on the other side of the world. But then, no one will, as peace in the Middle East is most definitely an NP problem. The best I could offer here would be to share another’s more personal, more educated view on the matter.

So I will.

Frederic Brenner’s new book, “an Archaeology of Fear and Desire,” was recently published by MACK. Apparently, it’s one of a series of projects shot in Israel that were commissioned by Mr. Brenner. Other artists like Stephen Shore have had their say, and this book is Mr. Brenner’s take on life in Israel.

It’s a very clean, formal, precise view, with the requisite irony on full display. For example, we get a two page run in the book in which a religious Israeli family dines in splendor in a big house, and on the following page, a Palestinian family crunches together in a much smaller space.

But it’s not just the status quo. We see a couple of dirt bike riders in the desert near Sodom. (Are we to question their sexuality, because of the title.?) And another portrait of a woman who looks very much like she is gay, but am I allowed to speculate on such things? And if I did, what might gay rights look like in a religious country?

We see a blind former soldier with two prosthetic arms. And an anonymous Palestinian man who sure looks like he was tortured, or at least beaten to a pulp, with a wicked scar running across his eye.

There are migrant workers of color, jimmy-rigged border patrol wearing head scarves, and some Orthodox Jews in an airport, with their eyes shaded, looking ancient, except for their always-dorky rolling suitcases. Classy.

This book was perfect to write about this week, for obvious reasons. The images within are well made, but will not change your life.

But they do offer you a window into a world without hope. Or, at least, without hope of ever fixing its own, ancient set of problems. Which is a fair metaphor for what we all do every day. Keep going, enjoy the pleasures at our disposal, and fight when we must.

Bottom Line: Clear, color vision of life in contemporary Israel

To Purchase “an Archaeology of Fear and Desire” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

Art Producers Speak: Victoria Will

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 Victoria Will. She was a pleasure to work with, ever gregarious and an all- around rockstar on set. Difficult weather conditions, challenging directors and limited time with the cast did not hinder her talents. I can’t wait to work with her again.

This is an image I shot for a Miller High Life Project. I had previously seen a sign like that and always wanted to find a way to incorporate it into my work.

This is an image I shot for a Miller High Life Project. I had previously seen a sign like that and always wanted to find a way to incorporate it into my work.

Who doesn’t love jumping on a bed? I hadn’t done it in years until I suggested it for this shoot. It seems to bring out the kid in anyone.

Who doesn’t love jumping on a bed? I hadn’t done it in years until I suggested it for this shoot. It seems to bring out the kid in anyone.

This image is from a shoot for Dasani Water and it still makes me smile! I love the color palette and the energy.

This image is from a shoot for Dasani Water and it still makes me smile! I love the color palette and the energy.

One of my favorite places to visit is a beautiful farmhouse in upstate New York. Its the location of the Eddie Adams Workshop. I volunteer for EAW every October, but there is a lot of prep that goes in to it so I visit the farm often throughout the summer. I have walked past this tree swing a million times, but one weekend I was at the farm and a friend of a friend jumped on it and I made this. Now it reminds me of a perfect summer day.

One of my favorite places to visit is a beautiful farmhouse in upstate New York. Its the location of the Eddie Adams Workshop. I volunteer for EAW every October, but there is a lot of prep that goes in to it so I visit the farm often throughout the summer. I have walked past this tree swing a million times, but one weekend I was at the farm and a friend of a friend jumped on it and I made this. Now it reminds me of a perfect summer day.

I love creating moments for a shoot, but I also love when I catch a quiet scene like this.

I love creating moments for a shoot, but I also love when I catch a quiet scene like this.

I do a lot of work backstage during fashion month and its always great to find moments like these. This was shot while on assignment for Vogue at the Lavin show in Paris.

I do a lot of work backstage during fashion month and its always great to find moments like these. This was shot while on assignment for Vogue at the Lavin show in Paris.

It’s always refreshing when you can collaborate with a subject like Brad Pitt. He is the consummate professional who also happens to be an avid photographer — the perfect combination for a portrait subject.

It’s always refreshing when you can collaborate with a subject like Brad Pitt. He is the consummate professional who also happens to be an avid photographer — the perfect combination for a portrait subject.

This was shot on assignment for Vogue backstage at the Tommy Hilfiger in New York.

This was shot on assignment for Vogue backstage at the Tommy Hilfiger in New York.

I love using the existing environment to make a mood and in this case it was neon lights in Las Vegas. The juxtaposition of a busy Las Vegas Blvd with a thoughtful glance out the window creates its own narrative.

I love using the existing environment to make a mood and in this case it was neon lights in Las Vegas. The juxtaposition of a busy Las Vegas Blvd with a thoughtful glance out the window creates its own narrative.

When I was on a road trip with some friends our truck overheated and we had to pull over at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. I saw this image through the window as we waited. It captures that moment in time just as I remember experiencing it.

When I was on a road trip with some friends our truck overheated and we had to pull over at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. I saw this image through the window as we waited. It captures that moment in time just as I remember experiencing it.

I married into a family of cowboys and I take every opportunity I can to go out and ride with them. They never cease to amaze me. This is a lunch break after 6 hours of being in the saddle.

I married into a family of cowboys and I take every opportunity I can to go out and ride with them. They never cease to amaze me. This is a lunch break after 6 hours of being in the saddle.

On a trip to Mt. Hood, Oregon I was standing on the balcony of a cabin when the car pulled in. It gives an unique perspective to a familiar brand.  I loved the vantage point — and of course the paw prints.

On a trip to Mt. Hood, Oregon I was standing on the balcony of a cabin when the car pulled in. It gives an unique perspective to a familiar brand. I loved the vantage point — and of course the paw prints.

This image and next are part of a series where I used a music festival as a backdrop to tell an experimental narrative through the energy and shared experience of the people there.

This image and next are part of a series where I used a music festival as a backdrop to tell an experimental narrative through the energy and shared experience of the people there.

JackP11

How many years have you been in business?
10 years ago I started working as a photojournalist in New York City. That gave me the background that allowed me to go freelance 4 years ago to focus on the parts of photography I enjoy most.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I suppose I’m a little bit of both. I didn’t go to a photo school, but was lucky enough to study with Emmet Gowin and Andrew Moore at Princeton.

When I was transitioning from photojournalism, I took a portrait workshop in Santa Fe with Platon. It blew my mind and changed my life. From him, I learned what I don’t think I could have learned in a classroom. I saw just how powerful a collaborative effort between a subject and photographer can be and how you need to trust your vision — it’s something that can’t be forced, but has to be felt.

That workshop wasn’t my last. I find those environments recharge me creatively and I am always hungry to learn.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
Looking back, it’s so clear that I was always a visual person. I learned and expressed myself that way best. My mother even saved portraits of dolls that I made with her polaroid camera when I was 6, but it took me awhile to figure out. It wasn’t until college that I starting to think about photography as something I could actually pursue. I stumbled into a history of photography class with Peter Bunnell and immediately fell in love. After that I couldn’t read fast enough and spent a lot of time devouring the work of Lillian Bassman, David Bailey, Larry Sultan, and the paintings of Andrew Wyeth and John Singer Sargent. At that point, photography became more than just an artistic expression, it became a sort of language for me that I could really understand.

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 find inspiration in the usual suspects — photo books, music and movies, but also in the strangest places. Its not always visual, sometimes its a sound, or a feeling, or an experience that I want to recreate in a visual way. For example, the first time you get to jump in a pool at the beginning of the summer — thats the way I want a photograph to feel. I think it should have an emotion attached to it.

I’ve spent a lot of time observing the people around me—and I was always struck by how beautiful a simple and natural human gesture can be. Those little moments can tell a much larger story. Ultimately, I love creating narratives that allow a story to unfold. My goal is to create work that takes you on the same sort of journey.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I’d like to think that the creatives and the client ultimately choose me because they believe that my point of view will help bring their ideas to life. That being said, I love collaborating, with anyone that will have me. Luckily, every part of a shoot is a collaboration whether its with the client, the subject of the shoot, or the crew. That’s where being flexible becomes a crucial part of the job and you have to be willing to make adjustments. Working as a photojournalist really helped teach me that it is possible to adapt to any situation without having to compromise my vision or the clients needs.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I love to send out work that I think is successful and what better way is there to promote yourself than creating work you feel has a piece of you in it. At heart though I am a people person so I try to meet as many people as I can — face to face. Sitting down with someone helps to give them a better idea of who I am and who they would be hiring. To me making a connection and having someone trust that I will execute their vision is just as important as the work.

On the other hand, I don’t do it alone. I am lucky to have people in my life like my photojournalist husband, and my agent, Paige Long, who I am constantly brainstorming with and bouncing ideas off of. Paige has an incredibly creative eye and great institutional knowledge that has helped define my voice. Having that close network of support is invaluable.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
I give the same advice someone gave me — shoot what you want to be hired to shoot. If you are inspired by your subject, it will show. If you aren’t, and you are doing it for the wrong reason, it comes from the wrong place and I think that shows as well.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
There was a time when I didn’t shoot for myself enough. That sometimes made it difficult to have a connection to the work. Now I shoot for myself as often as I can, experimenting and looking at things with new eyes. That’s how a recent project with tintypes happened. I saw one and became obsessed with making them work for me. Its not so much about trying to push the envelope, but about trying to evolve creatively. If I’m making the same safe images all the time, there is no room to grow.

How often are you shooting new work?
Whenever I am inspired! I have a list where I write down images I someday want to make that I’ve imagined and I’m slowly making my way through. Its feels like a rolodex of pictures in my head. But as fast as I cross them off, I seem to write more down.

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VICTORIA began her career at the New York Post where she was a staff photographer. In a news environment responsible for headlines like “Headless Body in Topless Bar,” Victoria honed her skills and sense of humor. With a focus on commercial and editorial portraiture, her photographs appear in newspapers and magazines worldwide, from the Associated Press to W magazine, The New York Times to Vogue. A graduate from Princeton University, she hails from Washington, D.C., but now resides in New York with her two French Bulldogs and photojournalist husband.

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.

Stephen Mallon On Perseverance And Transition To Video

- - From The Field

Over 5 years ago aPhotoEditor wrote a small story on Stephen Mallon’s images of the salvage of Flight 1549.

The backstory.
Prior to the incident on the Hudson River, Stephen Mallon was “surviving” on royalties from multiple stock agencies. He had been photographing landscapes for licensing and exhibition, and personal work. A book editor at a portfolio review had expressed interest in making a book but Stephen felt he didnʼt have the right content that he envisioned for his first monograph. So he set about focusing on his interests in the recycling industry. He engaged a writer to help with a proposal, and, explaining that he intended to make images for non-commercial use, he gained access for two days to a recycling plant in New Jersey, which led to access to others in other states and to a body of work that would come to be titled “American Reclamation.” This was all self-funded by the bits and pieces he was drawing in from editorial and resale.

The break.
In New Jersey, in 2008, Stephen spotted a barge loaded full of stripped down subway cars and thus discovered the artificial reef project, wherein these erstwhile MTA cars are shipped to various locations off the US coast and dumped in the ocean to create artificial reefs both for sea-life and for tourism, images of which would become “Next Stop Atlantic.” The company concerned was Weeks Marine, and here began a wonderful relationship. Forward to 2009 and Stephen and his wife are out celebrating her birthday when Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger, III, makes his amazing landing on the freezing Hudson River. Mallon called Weeks Marine and sure enough they were tasked with retrieving the plane; they commissioned Stephen to photograph the project, bringing him in by tug boat to make an incredible photo essay that made national news. As well as all the licensing, the prints are still selling well in the fine art market.

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How life changed.
Stephen says although he had his body of work of industrial landscapes he didnʼt have a solid assignment piece that he felt was both beautiful and relevant to fine art and for editorial. He says it took real effort to keep the momentum going so he wasnʼt “just a flash in the pan.” It was at another portfolio review that Stephen met Front Room Gallery, based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They offered him a solo show of Flight 1549, and also sold a few prints from “American Reclamation” which led to the suggestion of a solo show of that series, too, in 2010. Now some assignment work began to trickle in, including a trip to Brazil to shoot Petrobas for Fortune Magazine.

“All this time, the 5D Mark II is on the market, and people are talking about video. I equated it a lot to when clients began to ask for digital,” he says. For a while, people would still hire Stephen even when he said “no” to the question of whether he was capturing video, but he knew the time was coming when heʼd need to be able to say “yes.” Heʼd made a “bad” time-lapse around 2008, and only tinkered with the style since. In 2011 Weeks Marine called to say they were delivering a bridge by barge in New York, and was he interested in covering it? Stephen saw the perfect time-lapse project. He scouted the whole route, setting up cameras along the way, in the yard, and on the barge. The film was submitted to festivals, picked up by the Wall Street Journal, and got a lot of attention online. Stephen feels this was the catalyst for his time-lapse future.

The next big step was winning a contract to work for the City of New Yorkʼs Department of Transport – he produced a wonderful time-lapse for the Citibike program.

“I had been dropping my portfolio off at the New York Times pretty much my entire career – 10, maybe 15 years!” says Stephen, when eventually they saw some of his time-lapse work online, and wanted to meet. They loved what he was doing: “Kathy Ryan tried to hire me a couple of times but security at the locations we wanted to shoot in kept on stopping the projects from moving forward.” It wasnʼt until 2013 that she found the right assignment for him: to make a time-lapse over two days and two nights of set changes at the Metropolitan Opera. This video went on to win the Communication Arts photo annual award, and was accepted for the PDN photo annual.

The cost of video production.
“Day rates are pretty much the same for video as for stills – the photographerʼs fee hasnʼt gone up, but Iʼm shooting with seven cameras at a time, I need assistants to set up and monitor them, then thereʼs the cost of post, the editor, and audio licensing. I am busier than I ever have been, itʼs phenomenal, but no, Iʼm not making tons of money. When the budget is there, we put in enough post which covers color correction and rendering. The editorʼs fee is a separate line item, accounting for all the video editing and a couple of revisions. Weʼre always buying hard drives – a terabyte a month! Someone has to pay because we are archiving all these jobs.”

Mallon has been buying camera bodies, one job at a time: he has five digital SLRs and two GoPros so he doesnʼt always need to rent although he does say he could always use one more camera. He is more comfortable shooting live video capture now, and enjoying mixing time-lapse and video in the same piece (he has just finished another job for the DOT, made over 18 months, that mixes time-lapse and regular footage.)

Skills for the future.
“Editing video, the whole aspect of sequence, timing, speed, music, it was a whole new experience for me.” Now heʼs so much more familiar with it all, heʼd like to get a bit more long-form documentary work and is meeting with TV production companies. Heʼs enjoying video but also continues to love shooting stills: “It reminds me how much easier it is to make a photograph than it is to shoot video” he says, laughing.

So far this year Stephen is most proud of a piece made for New Yorkʼs Armory exhibition hall, the result of two years keeping in touch with an ad agency which eventually recommended Mallon to time-lapse the setting up of The Armory Show.

Looking to the future, he believes interactivity is going to be key. In a job heʼs working on now, a public awareness campaign about crossing the road, the conversation turned to how to make a video motion-sensitive, to turn it into an interactive smart-board. He believes he will need to be able to deliver multimedia components, potentially build apps for his clients, teaming up with tech and design professionals.

Stephen Mallon has a solo show this fall 2014 at the Waterfront Museum and a solo show at NYU in early 2015. You can view his work here: stephenmallon.com

The Daily Edit – Los Angeles Magazine: Amy Feitelberg

- - The Daily Edit

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Photographer: Nancy Pastor

 

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Photographer: ( left ) Gregg Segal
Photographer:  ( right ) Meiko Arquillos

 

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Photographer: ( left ) Christina Gandolfo
Photographer:  ( right )  Art Streiber

 

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Photographer: Dave Lauridsen

 

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Photographer: ( left )  Joe Schmelzer
Photographer:  ( right ) Christina Gandolfo

 

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Photographer: ( left ) Sam Comen
Photographer: ( right)  Ryan Young

 

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Photographer: ( left ) Dave Lauridsen
Photographer:  ( right ) Claudia Lucia

Los Angeles Magazine

Design Director: Steven Banks
Photo Director: Amy Feitelberg

Check out the full story here

 

Heidi: What a great slice of LA nightlife. Describe the process for choosing the pitches, I’d imagine potential imagery and content played even roles.
Amy: For the initial pitch process, I went forward knowing there were a few built in obstacles.
– Since this all had to be shot on one night, that might limit what’s happening around town.
– I had to cast a really wide net so I got enough disparate ideas.
– It meant it was a little bit of luck of the draw for who  would be in town to do it.

When all the decisions were made, I fired off an email to each photographer saying that they got to shoot their pitch. Then I sent out a group email (everyone was bcc’d — I didn’t want anyone to know who was in until the end), and I told them the parameters. Everyone HAD to shoot on the same night. Saturday, May 31st. We defined ‘night’ as between 6pm – 2am. I also told them that this was a case where they had to be reporters too because no one had a writer with them, and they HAD to get the caption info of what they were shooting for when the edit team when back to write about it. I also told them, it was a great opportunity to do extra stuff like gifs, videos etc. And so many of them did that, which is so cool because we’re going to have a really awesome online component as well which I think beefs the whole project up.

How did you notify photographer this was happening, was there something online or in the print edition?
I thought this was an opportunity to reach out to people I hadn’t been able to assign yet, but wanted to get them in the book. So after I made a list, I blasted it out to a ton of photographers and told them to pitch me what they wanted to do. Once I got all those pitches in, I complied them, and reviewed them with the with editor of the story and the editor in chief. Many photographers sent in more than one idea and since we had overlap, it helped narrow down the puzzle. We wanted it to feel diverse and hit a lot of different notes.

How many pitches did you get for this project?
I had over 60 pitches knowing I could only assign 20ish.

What were the determining factors?
Determining factors were things like diversity – geographic, ethnic, age etc, access, ambition and inherent LAness.

Were the photographers responsible for all aspects of production/access?
The photographers were mostly responsible for setting up their own shoots. I did write a lot of letters and make a lot of phone calls. Some things we never got permission on and they did anyway guerrilla style and some things we had to cancel altogether because the venue made it so hard or flat out refused. LA can be an extremely difficult place to shoot even for still photography. Are you listening Mayor Garcetti?

How many “tries” did they have or did everyone go out on the same night?
Everyone had to go out on the same night. A few people had 2 assignments if they could get them done. One that came in that wasn’t even assigned but that I hoped someone was going to pitch was a shot of Hassidic Jews on La Brea. That area fascinates me and I had put it in as an example of something to pitch in my initial blast email. No one took the bait, but then Christina Gandolfo, who had shot these awesome bingo pictures was walking on the street that night and photographed a few. She ended up getting a second full page image in the package too because it was so great. A few projects didn’t work out at all and got cut, but everyone really went above and beyond to make things work.
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Photographer: ( left ) Alyson Aliano
Photographer:  ( right ) Hussein Katz
Did you think it was unusual for the taggers to be photographed in “Canvassing the City?”
What type of relationship did Hussein Katz have with them?
When Hussein pitched that he said “I have many friends in the graffiti world… however I would need to keep their identities concealed.” I thought it sounded awesome. It’s such sub culture in LA and I always think it’s weird when I see a building one day and it’s blank and the next day it’s tagged. I’m always wondering who the hell these people are. I didn’t want to judge it as right or wrong, I wanted to see the experience of people who spend their nights doing this.
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Photographer ( left ): Alyson Aliano
Photographer ( right ) Aaron Fallon
Aaron Fallon’s image “Crew’s Control” is great,  did he have stories about getting access?
Aaron Fallon’s pitch was cool and very unexpected. This is one of those cases that it SHOULD have been hard to get access — but it wasn’t! He had a friend who worked there who helped get him in. I wrote a permission letter for him, but as far as I know, there weren’t too many hoops. The photos are gorgeous. The one bummer about doing this whole portfolio is that almost every shoot that came in had soooo many great images and we only get to run one a piece! That’s what the internet is for I s’pose. So shooting in an airplane hanger at LAX? – a breeze. Trying to shoot at the Hollywood Bowl? — I think they would have had me arrested and stolen my first born. Go figure!
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Photographer: ( left ) Spencer Lowell
Photographer:  ( right )  Wesley Brown

How did Spencer get that image of the stadium in “Diamonds are Forever?”
Spencer’s journey in this is an interesting one. He told me he would love to go to the morgue. LOVED IT! Boom. I assigned it to him. He set out on his own to get permission. I didn’t hear back so I thought it was all cool. So did he… but a few days before the shoot, even though permission seemed like a done deal, the guy helping him went AWOL, and then resurfaced the day before to say no. Spencer had also pitched doing aerials because I believe he has a relationship with a helicopter pilot. I really liked the idea of seeing Dodger Stadium, but there was a game that night and they have a ‘no fly zone’ during games. So he waited til after to shoot it and I love it even more because it feels less expected. He also still went to the morgue and shot and exterior and then went to a tattoo place and shot himself getting a tattoo that says LA on his wrist. Spencer will bleed for the cause!
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Photographer: ( left ) Terence Patrick
Photographer:  ( right ) Maarten de Boer

 

How did Martin de Boer get to tag along for his “Double Parked?”
So in the case of Maarten de Boer, he actually pitched going on a ride along with the fire department. He contacted them but they basically told them they needed at least 3 weeks to get approvals blah blah. So I dug into my bag of tricks because what ho! my sister is a deputy district attorney on the ‘hard core gang unit’ right here in LA. I called her and asked her if she knew any cops I could have Maarten go out with. She asked around and hooked us with LAPD homicide detectives Manny and Nate and we were in! I actually called on her to help us get into the morgue when Spencer was getting the shaft, but at that point we had lost our lead time, she was in trial and we couldn’t pull it off. Having a DA for a sister is amazing! She comes in handy a lot.

What’s the best way for photographers to reach you?

The best way for photographers to contact me is always through email. I wish I had the time to answer everyone, but I just can’t. I do try to look at everything that comes in though!

This Week In Photography Books: Christopher Capozziello

by Jonathan Blaustein

“There but for the grace of God go I.” Two weeks in a row, we’re opening with an old school aphorism. Why is that? Have I detected
a growth in our Millennial readership? Am I trying to adhere my contentical requirements to shorter attention spans?

No, that’s not it.

Frankly, I think many of us work less in summer. We try to read a book here and there, and allow a few random moments of calm to intrude on an otherwise busy lifestyle. There’s the Fall Season, and the New-Year-through-spring mad dashes of productivity. And then we have Xmas time and summer breaks, to re-gather one’s thoughts.

As such, my thoughts have turned to wisdom’s efficiency. Aphorisms are like tweets, in that they aim to provide maximum information in minimal form. So much so that we’ve even managed to abbreviate them further: i.e., better safe, a bird in the hand. Neither of those are complete thoughts, but we know them well enough to intuit the second half, and the meaning.

“Better safe than sorry” is like “when in doubt.” It encourages caution, above all else. I suspect the cautious proto-humans were the ones that gave us many of our genes, as the braver sorts were likely eaten by saber-toothed tigers while exploring.

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” sounds like it was made up by a farmer. I’ve got my crops. They are here. They feed my family. If I try this new seed that Jenkinson was telling me about, it might bring in much more. Or it might not. Better safe.

And what about the first one I mentioned? There but for the grace of God, is what people say. They abbreviate this one too. It means, please remember that there are many billions of the people on planet Earth who are less fortunate than I am. I could easily have been born into a war zone, or somewhere with no indoor plumbing. But I was not.

We tend to push such thoughts outside of our day-to-day thinking. It’s easier to get by that way. But what if you lacked the luxury? What if you could never forget or escape the consequences of fate, or God, or whatever word you choose to use for such concepts?

Christopher Capozziello has such a dilemma. He’s a photographer, and writer apparently, and last year he put out a book called “The Distance Between Us,” by Edition Lammerhuber, and I just got my hands on a copy. His twin brother, Nick, was born with Cerebral Palsy, and has had an insanely difficult life as a result.

Two brothers. One womb. One twin healthy, the other sick. It’s like something out of a Dickens novel.

I’ll have to step out of character even further here by telling you I met Chris at LOOKbetween in 2010. We talked a lot, and then stayed in touch. I gave him some tips on how to access the fine art photo community. He came and hung out while I was writing about Photo Plus Expo for APE.

I therefore saw this work very early on. Before the accolades. Before the book. He also asked me to peruse an early-version-pdf at a time when he was submitting a concept for a publication competition that he didn’t win.

All for the best.

Because he’s used the ensuing years to fine-tune his vision, and this large book is the beneficiary. There’s text throughout, including under many of the photographs. He writes naturally, and the narrative fills in many gaps that would not have been dealt with sufficiently, with only titles to inform us. Furthermore, by telling his story so directly, he’s able to amp up the emotional reaction in his viewer.

Nick has seizure cramps that are debilitating. He likes to play pool. He had major brain surgery, and an implant was put in his chest. You can see the implant. You can see Nick go through the ravages of pain.

All the while, Chris can’t help but wonder, why not me?

Eventually, the brothers take a big road trip at the end. And even better, we close with a selection of Nick’s pictures from the trip. (We’ve seen Chris photographing Nick taking pictures, so there’s even foreshadowing.)

Don’t you love it when the column connects from week to week? It’s the happy ending. The über-American cinematic narrative. (With the road trip thrown in as a bonus.)

The book has a message, a point, and a vision behind it. I might have found the text a bit overwhelming at times, but that’s nitpicking. If you invest your time in this one, you’re likely to get a lot back.

You can tell that years of planning and care went into the creation of this book, and years of pain went into the living. Yet when you hold the book, the finished article, you’re holding the outcome of someone’s dream.

Bottom Line: Great book, powerful personal family tale

To Purchase “The Distance Between Us” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

Art Producers Speak: John Fulton

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

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate John Fulton.

"Wrong Tools" campaign for Three Atlanta and CPA Global.

“Wrong Tools” campaign for Three Atlanta and CPA Global.

A young farmer/rancher burns some time after breakfast with a curious audience standing by. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

A young farmer/rancher burns some time after breakfast with a curious audience standing by. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

"Dirt Wave" motocross in the deep south. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

“Dirt Wave” motocross in the deep south. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

"Quail Hunting". Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

“Quail Hunting”. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

"Fiddler Over Paris", a lone fiddler bares his soul to the denizens of the 7th arrondissement. Shot for an int'l travel company.

“Fiddler Over Paris”, a lone fiddler bares his soul to the denizens of the 7th arrondissement. Shot for an int’l travel company.

Pro bono series for my home town fire department. Hazmat crew takes one for the team as fire plane dumps it's payload.

Pro bono series for my home town fire department. Hazmat crew takes one for the team as fire plane dumps it’s payload.

"On The Way to Saturday". Campaign featuring college football mega-fans for BBDO.

“On The Way to Saturday”. Campaign featuring college football mega-fans for BBDO.

"Wrong Tools" campaign for Three Atlanta and CPA Global.

“Wrong Tools” campaign for Three Atlanta and CPA Global.

Campaign for Harley Davidson featuring real owners enjoying the thrill of the open road.

Campaign for Harley Davidson featuring real owners enjoying the thrill of the open road.

 "Lake of the Clouds Valley". Personal work captured on a trip to the high Rocky Mountains.


“Lake of the Clouds Valley”. Personal work captured on a trip to the high Rocky Mountains.

Firefighters photographed for South Magazine.

Firefighters photographed for South Magazine.

"We're there for you 24/7/365". Campaign for Georgia Power.

“We’re there for you 24/7/365″. Campaign for Georgia Power.

"For the longest lasting truck on the road". Campaign commissioned for Eaton Global.

“For the longest lasting truck on the road”. Campaign commissioned for Eaton Global.

Recent commission featuring speedo-clad mechanics to illustrate the client's heat generating product.

Recent commission featuring speedo-clad mechanics to illustrate the client’s heat generating product.

How many years have you been in business?
12 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Both but I did the photo degree route. It was a good jumping board but, like most people, I learned more in just the 1st year working in San Francisco about the industry and my own work than I did during all of school.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I was a skater kid in high school and a lackadaisical student, which took its toll on my studies. I took art classes because I thought they would be easy A’s. I connected with the creative arts immediately and felt myself come alive. Originally I wanted to be a sculptor and I worked diligently towards that goal but eventually I found myself sitting in a photography class. Seeing my first image appear in the developing tray was what set the hook. It’s a cliché’ sentiment at this point, but it was like magic. I was also exposed to the work of the great street photographers, especially the masters of composition and light; Cartier-Bresson and Harry Callahan among others. I worked at my local camera store talking with working photographers every day and developing their images late into the evening. It was an exhilarating feeling to see their work before they did and when talking with them about their assignments at pick up time, it became clear to me that this was the life I wanted. I was also able to work with Jim Erickson and Erik Almas through out my first year after school, which was also instrumental.

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?
It’s important to me to find inspiration from things other than photography whether that be other visual arts, travel, history, and simply conversing with people who are very different than myself. A lot of photographers choose to keep their exposure to other’s work at a minimal, I do the opposite. I look at an immense amount of images and I keep the ones that speak to me in an archive that goes back over 10 years. They cover the spectrum from photography, design, 3D, and fine arts and I often sift through them making mental notes of the things I like, don’t like, and want to experiment with before my next project.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
It varies widely from project to project but limitations can be a blessing. I’ve been studying film making lately and I read something from a feature director awhile back saying that often times he’ll limit himself to just one or two lenses for a whole movie because with every option available for every shot, it can be overwhelming and the images end up being too disjointed. I look at constraints that clients give in that way and it forces me to push my work and grow in a direction that I might not have taken on my own and I walk away with more tools in my creative arsenal.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
All the usual things but the most important to me is face-to-face exposure. The path of least resistance is always the most overrun and that right now is doing everything digitally. My reps are also paramount in connecting with buyers.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Showing what you think buyers want to see is a loosing strategy if that’s your main motivation. Even if you’re scoring some projects, you won’t be shooting what you love and the work won’t be as affective as it should be. Ultimately, you’ll end up spending your career working on things that don’t inspire you and that’s not good for you or your clients.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Not as much as I’d like, but I’m working on that. It takes the willingness to say no to paying projects usually but I think it’s a good investment for one’s creative soul. Story telling in still frame, painting, modeling, motion, and writing is always on my mind from when I wake up until I finally go to bed. Lately, I’ve been spending the majority of my non-working time learning 3D modeling which has been a very captivating creative outlet and has already helped land some of my favorite projects to date.

How often are you shooting new work?
It varies from every couple weeks to a month. I prefer to do my own post work whenever possible and if it’s a series of multi-image composites that typically turns a 3 day shoot into a 3 week process from beginning to end but it’s an integral part of what I love about my job and what makes the images I deliver to my clients unique and impactful.

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John is an America photographer born and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. His work is often described as rich, fresh, and authentic. Clients recognize his consistent vision and adamant drive to deliver impactful and affective images through a broad range of subjects.

John is honored to have been included in Luerzer’s Archive Top 200 Advertising Photographers Worldwide and his work has been recognized by PDN, Communication Arts, Hasselblad Masters, Int’l Photography Awards, Prix de la Photographie Paris, American Photographic Artists, Int’l Loupe Awards, and Color Awards. His clients include AT&T, Harley Davidson, Captain Morgan, Airstream, Westin and Hyatt Int’l among others.

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.