Francis Alÿs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great stuff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Power of Social Media – Grace Chon and JJ Miller

- - Social Media

by Suzanne Sease

In full disclosure, Grace and JJ are former clients, who I still keep in touch with to see how they are doing. I always want my clients to do personal projects from their heart and it can create an amazing path you never expected. I am an avid Redditor, I think it is a great venue to get your work out there as well as many other ones.

Here are their stories of the “Power of Social Media”

Grace Chon “Zoey and Jasper”

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I started out sharing the “Zoey and Jasper” tumblr page with the editorial contacts I already had, reaching out to magazines I had worked with in the past. I really pushed the tumblr page and instagram with the media, since everyone seems to be complaining these days about the functionality of Facebook Pages, but Facebook was also a huge in helping this go viral.

On Thursday April 10th I shared the tumblr page with a huge dog magazine I’ve worked with regularly called The Bark. By Friday morning, it had 4,700 likes and 1,080 shares. I also sent the link out to a magazine called Koream Magazine, and on Friday they started to publicize it. All all the other huge Asian American media channels started to pick it up – like Hyphen, Angry Asian Man, Audrey Magazine, and more.

The Korean American founder and curator of a My Modern Met saw it on Saturday and immediately reached out to me for an interview that afternoon. Within the hour she had it up on the site and she told me that all the major news sites follow the site like The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail, Yahoo, The Today Show, and Good Morning America, just to name a few.

Within a few minutes of it being up on My Modern Met I had an email from The Daily Mail and they had it up by Sunday.

Come Monday morning on April 14th, my inbox was jam packed with media requests! Suzanne also very wisely recommended that I upload the link to Reddit, and it was picked up by users and made it onto the front page. The images also ran on The Huffington Post, Yahoo, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Buzzfeed, Mashable, People, PetaPixel, and Bored Panda, along with countless international websites in countries like China, Taiwan, Brazil, Germany, Finland, Italy, France, Peru, Colombia, Serbia and Portugal.

On Friday April 18th, the images aired on The Today Show during the 4th hour with Kathie Lee and Hoda. They closed out the segment while discussing (and giggling!) over all the images.

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The dust has now settled a bit, and now I have 18,500 followers on instagram (started at 550) and 18,000 followers on tumblr (started at 0!). My rep Kim Knight has been going on portfolio shows and she’s finding that the creatives are already familiar with the series. Zoey’s original rescuer in Taiwan also miraculously found us, after waiting 7 years to find out what happened to the tiny puppy she took care of. All I can say is wow! The power of social media.

JJ Miller #wewillrun

The #wewillrun was originally pitched as an idea to a client and after their decision not use it, I couldn’t stop thinking about the story and the uplifting message. The project became personal for me and I needed to film it instead of letting it play in my head.

I reached out to the team members of my production company and colleagues that I had collaborated with in the past. They all signed on enthusiastically once they heard the message. The crew included: DP, Jeff Melanson, First Assistant Camera, Nolan Ball, Co-writer and Narrator, Rich DiMare and Produced by Alexandra Bettencourt.

I uploaded the #wewillrun video on Vimeo, and the posted a link to it on Facebook and Twitter. We also sent out a press release through PR Web. The first day it got around 1,000 hits and then there was a write up on the website Boston.com and soon got about 24,000 hits. The same day the BDCwire post it on Readit. I’ve worked with Reddit before on other projects. However, this experience has only strengthened my understanding of how much impact sites like Reddit can have. 

The next morning my email blew up with multiple interview requests, and #wewillrun was trending on top of Facebook and Twitter. That helped the video get shared on a global level, generating nearly 160,000 views on that Thursday. In the following days, it got national press appearing on Fox News, CNN international, and many write ups from sites like the Hollywood reporter, Buzzfeed, ESPN, Elitedaily, Bleacherreport, NESN and many more.

In three weeks on the day of the marathon #wewillrun had been played 449,000 times. When Rich and I sat down to write the script, we wanted to create a message about moving forward. When we read it over, something just felt right gooesbumps. Most of all, it’s been very humbling to have people feel similar emotions. 

http://jjmillerphotography.com

Persistence, Serendipity And Hard Work Come To Fruition For M. Sharkey

- - Working

M. Sharkey is an award winning portrait photographer and filmmaker living in NYC. He began his “Queer Kids” project in 2006 not long after Time Magazine published “The Battle Over Gay Teens: What happens when you come out as a kid?” as the issue of gay youth was beginning to gain national attention. Sharkey’s editors at Getty were among the first people to support the project; knowing it would have legs, they provided a producer to liaise between Sharkey and kids at youth organizations across the US.

By 2010 he had photographed gay and bisexual teens in several states, and aCurator, my online photo mag, had published a series. By 2011 the project was picking up steam with multiple editorial features here and abroad.

When French magazine “Be” contacted the Paris office of Getty about hiring Sharkey for an assignment to photograph “hipsters,” Sharkey and the writer became good buddies; it turned out her father owns a gallery in Perpignan, and in 2012 Queer Kids had its debut in Perpignan, coinciding with Visa Pour L’Image. An organization in Brussels learned about Queer Kids from the exhibition’s press release, leading to an artist residency for Sharkey to show the series so far and to make a new body of work in Belgium. These photographs are themselves being exhibited now at Rainbow House in Brussels.

Meanwhile a feature in Time Lightbox had drawn the attention of the production director at Getty’s Paris office, Marie Borrel, who followed the project closely and when she was tasked with finding just three photographers to show at la Nuit de l’Année at Rencontres d’Arles this year, she selected “Queer Kids.” In July, the work will be projected alongside 8 other photographers on 14 screens around town.

Sharkey travels to exhibit and speak about the series. He is applying for grants and will go on to make portraits in Europe (especially Eastern) as well as Asia and South America.

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© M. Sharkey

The Weekly Edit: Cover Déjà Vu

- - The Daily Edit

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The Hype Machine is in full effect, it’s rare to have a celebrity blanketing the newsstands in this capacity. Is it because she is pregnant, poised to dominate the Hollywood kingdom, or the fact that she’s a cover cameleon?

Glamour

Creative Director: Paul Ritter
Design Director: Sarah Vinas
Deputy Editor/Visuals Editor: Julie Stone
Senior Photo Editor: Martha Maristany, Brian Stone
Photographer: Tom Munro

Dazed

Creative Director: Christopher Simmonds
Art Director: Jenny Campbell-Colquhoun
Photographic Editor: Lauren Ford
Photographer: Benjamin Alexander Huseby

 

Men’s Style

Art Director: Chris Andrew
Photo Editor: Jo Bainbridge
Photographer: Vincent Peters/Trunk Archive

 

Vanity Fair

Design Director: Chris Dixon
Photography Director: Susan White
Art Director: Julie Weiss, Hilary Fitzgibbons
Senior Photography Producer: Kathryn MacLeod
Photographer: Craig McDean

 

 

 

This Week In Photography Books: Manabu Miyazaki

by Jonathan Blaustein

I play with clichés and stereotypes. Maybe I’m just lazy. Or maybe it’s the art training, which suggests that nothing can be completely denuded of meaning. (Even Robert Frank’s jukeboxes will seem fresh again. In 2057. When no one’s ever heard of a jukebox.)

One famous cliché is once you’ve been a teacher for a while, it’s good to go back to being a student. I’ve been teaching for nearly a decade, so I thought it was time to flip the script late last year.

I’m also one of the only Americans with an ounce of intellectual street cred who’d admit the following: I watched every Steven Segal and Jean Claude Van Damme movie made over a 5 year period, in my youth.

I always wanted to learn martial arts, but never had the stones or follow-through to do it. Now, I’m happy to report, I’m 4 months into studying Kung Fu and Tai Chi, and there’s no quitting in sight. (Knock wood.)

I absolutely love it. You might too. It’s brilliant for self-defense, physical activity, mental strength, stress release, discipline, and reduction of the ego. (I might need some help on that last one.)

Many martial arts were adapted from watching the animal kingdom. Hence the excellent style names, like Snake, Crane, Or Eagle. (There’s even a Youtube clip from Jackie Chan’s first movie that shows a house cat defeating a cobra.)

Observing animals in their element is like peeking behind Oz’s curtain.

Just two days ago, I watched a pair of ravens dive-bombing a golden eagle in my backyard. It was a masterclass in calm cool as the eagle, bigger, stronger & faster than the blackbirds, barely flinched as the ravens went by. He was a model of energy efficiency, moving as little as possible, and only when necessary.

His adversaries hurtled past harmlessly, like a bad joke.

We have a couple of golden eagles that live in our valley all winter and spring. They come when the leaves drop, and leave when they pop again. (Turkey vultures rule the skies while the raptors summer elsewhere.) Learning from those two birds has been one of the joys of my time in New Mexico.

I don’t photograph the eagles, though. It feels unseemly. Fortunately, Manabu Miyazaki does. Of course the man to photograph eagles, hawks, owls, and mammals of the night would be Japanese. And yes, there’s an obligatory snow monkey picture or two inside his new book, “Manabu Miyazaki: The Pencil of Nature.” (IZU Photo Museum)

The night photos, made with special rigs, are a bit magical, and show me things I’ve never seen before. As promised, those credentials will get your book reviewed every time. This stuff is fascinating.

We see a bear messing with a camera. An albino badger. A fox looking pleased with itself. And a gorgeous white bunny stunned by the strobe like a deer caught in the headlights. (What? You thought I wouldn’t go long on clichés in the cliché column? Silly rabbit.)

There’s a photo of a jumping field mouse that proves how those little bastards get into my engine block and shit all over my Hyundai. There’s also a deer decomposition sequence that fits so well with the William Christenberry book we just showed that you’d have to believe I planned it. (Unless you live in Taos, and can blame it on Interbeing.)

I recently heard that other Miyazaki, the one who makes the amazing children’s Anime films, may be retiring. Too bad. That dude churns out genius art like the grumpy guy made the donuts. (Try Ponyo.)

The photographer, Miyazaki, could probably go on shooting forever. Hanging out with the critters in the woods. Whispering to the trees. Learning the hidden secrets of Nature.

Bottom Line: Amazing book of nature photos from Japan

To Purchase “Manabu Miyazaki: The Pencil of Nature” 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: Willem Vrey

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 Willem Vrey. He is a Namibian photographer who has an exceptional eye when it comes to photography.

I took this picture at a fish market in a small town close to Cape Town in South Africa, a few weeks after I bought my first camera. I'm not sure why, but I still really like it – especially the way your eye is drawn towards the center.

I took this picture at a fish market in a small town close to Cape Town in South Africa, a few weeks after I bought my first camera. I’m not sure why, but I still really like it – especially the way your eye is drawn towards the center.

I took this during my first week of working on the cruise ship, in a town called Colón in Panama. This was one of those moments that I love in photography where my instincts took over as soon as I saw the bird flying. I brought the camera to my eye, snapped one photo and new that I had caught it at just the right moment – another early image I am still very proud of.

I took this during my first week of working on the cruise ship, in a town called Colón in Panama. This was one of those moments that I love in photography where my instincts took over as soon as I saw the bird flying. I brought the camera to my eye, snapped one photo and new that I had caught it at just the right moment – another early image I am still very proud of.

Still from my time on the ship – we were docked in Auckland, New Zealand overnight and I spent most of the evening walking around the city. It was very misty and with the lights of the city made the sky glow. I got a number of great images of the city by placing my camera on it's back on the ground to keep it steady and doing some long exposures to capture the colours. This is one of my favorites from that night.

Still from my time on the ship – we were docked in Auckland, New Zealand overnight and I spent most of the evening walking around the city. It was very misty and with the lights of the city made the sky glow. I got a number of great images of the city by placing my camera on it’s back on the ground to keep it steady and doing some long exposures to capture the colours. This is one of my favorites from that night.

This was taken soon after I got back home from my stint on the ship. It's a 30 second exposure with two cars driving past (streaks of lights in the foreground) and a dancer friend who I asked to run and jump in front of the camera. While she was in the air I hit her with a speedlight I was holding in my hand... Just one of those images where everything works out even better than I could have hoped.

This was taken soon after I got back home from my stint on the ship. It’s a 30 second exposure with two cars driving past (streaks of lights in the foreground) and a dancer friend who I asked to run and jump in front of the camera. While she was in the air I hit her with a speedlight I was holding in my hand… Just one of those images where everything works out even better than I could have hoped.

This is from a series of aerial photographs of the Namib desert. It's truly one of the most beautiful places in the world and looks especially spectacular from the air. The prints from this series are still some of my best sellers.

This is from a series of aerial photographs of the Namib desert. It’s truly one of the most beautiful places in the world and looks especially spectacular from the air. The prints from this series are still some of my best sellers.

This was taken at a place called Dead Vlei, in the Namib desert in Namibia. The dead trees in front of the huge red sand dunes (the highest dunes in the world) made for a number of very surreal looking images.

This was taken at a place called Dead Vlei, in the Namib desert in Namibia. The dead trees in front of the huge red sand dunes (the highest dunes in the world) made for a number of very surreal looking images.

Just an image I like of one of my portrait client. The sun was going down, everything was working, and I just love how well she is engaging with the camera.

Just an image I like of one of my portrait client. The sun was going down, everything was working, and I just love how well she is engaging with the camera.

Another portrait I like from a portrait shoot outside the city – beautiful model, beautiful hair and one of my favorite portraits – even though the sun was already down and the light was fading.

Another portrait I like from a portrait shoot outside the city – beautiful model, beautiful hair and one of my favorite portraits – even though the sun was already down and the light was fading.

This was taken late one night in the informal settlement on the outskirts of the city where I live. It was part of a series to show what the area looks like at night where the people don't have electricity. People streaming to the city from the more rural regions are building these small corrugated metal houses faster than the municipality can supply services – so here are thousands of people living with now running water, sewage or electricity. It's a very early place to be because there where almost no people about, but inside every house you walk past, you can hear people talking, radios playing and children laughing. Despite the poverty, it's actually quite a clean and orderly society with every little crime and social problems one would usually equate with such conditions.

This was taken late one night in the informal settlement on the outskirts of the city where I live. It was part of a series to show what the area looks like at night where the people don’t have electricity. People streaming to the city from the more rural regions are building these small corrugated metal houses faster than the municipality can supply services – so here are thousands of people living with now running water, sewage or electricity. It’s a very early place to be because there where almost no people about, but inside every house you walk past, you can hear people talking, radios playing and children laughing. Despite the poverty, it’s actually quite a clean and orderly society with every little crime and social problems one would usually equate with such conditions.

This is from a portrait session I did in the informal settlement. I love her attitude and the colours.

This is from a portrait session I did in the informal settlement. I love her attitude and the colours.

This was casual photo I took while exploring an old rock quarry with a friend. She was wading through the water when she found a rock to stand on that was just below the surface, making for a very surreal moment.

This was casual photo I took while exploring an old rock quarry with a friend. She was wading through the water when she found a rock to stand on that was just below the surface, making for a very surreal moment.

This is a friend of mine who I like to shoot. She has the most beautiful long hair and a very natural look. She is looking down, yet still engaging with the viewer.

This is a friend of mine who I like to shoot. She has the most beautiful long hair and a very natural look. She is looking down, yet still engaging with the viewer.

This was during a boat trip in large bay on Namibia's coast. It was very misty, with only 50 meters or so of visibility. I loved the calmness of the water in the bay and waited for ages for a bird to fly into the frame to break the pattern a bit.

This was during a boat trip in large bay on Namibia’s coast. It was very misty, with only 50 meters or so of visibility. I loved the calmness of the water in the bay and waited for ages for a bird to fly into the frame to break the pattern a bit.

A few months ago I wanted to get out of the city and bit and decided to try and drive a 125cc motorcycle about 6000 miles from Namibia to Zanzibar and back. I ended up not taking as many photos as I would have liked, but I did get some great images walking around Stone Town (Zanzibar). I am proud of this one because I managed to time it just right with the guy on the scooter driving past me at high speed – just as he was level with the woman walking ahead of me. I like the contrast between the traditional and the modern.

A few months ago I wanted to get out of the city and bit and decided to try and drive a 125cc motorcycle about 6000 miles from Namibia to Zanzibar and back. I ended up not taking as many photos as I would have liked, but I did get some great images walking around Stone Town (Zanzibar). I am proud of this one because I managed to time it just right with the guy on the scooter driving past me at high speed – just as he was level with the woman walking ahead of me. I like the contrast between the traditional and the modern.

This is from an amazing contemporary dance piece that I was involved in as the stills photographer. There were many images from that job that I liked, but this is one of my favorites. The show is called Anima, and it was put together by the talented people from First Rain Dance Theater – a contemporary dance company based in Namibia.

This is from an amazing contemporary dance piece that I was involved in as the stills photographer. There were many images from that job that I liked, but this is one of my favorites. The show is called Anima, and it was put together by the talented people from First Rain Dance Theater – a contemporary dance company based in Namibia.

How many years have you been in business?
The first time I asked for, and received a bit of money for a freelance job was in 2010, and things just sort of grew from there. Word got around and more and more people began to call me and I eventually had to register my business and make it official.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
At the start of 2009 I felt like I had to make some changes in my life and just get away from everything for a while. I went to into the Namib Desert for a few days for some peace and quiet and space to think clearly. I decided I just needed to get out of the country for a while and simplify things. After a few weeks of narrowing down my options, I decided to apply for a job on a cruise ship. I (literally) threw a dart at a list of jobs I might qualify for, and it hit “on-board photographer”. I applied, got a camera and some lenses and immediately started reading books and blogs and watching YouTube tutorials all day. I also forced myself to shoot in manual mode right from the start, which I feel is probably the one of best habits that a new photographer can have – even if you end up messing up 60% of your shots in the beginning. 

I got the job and soon I was boarding a large ship in Miami, on which I worked for the next 6 months.

It turns out that cruise ship photography is one of the worst jobs out there. I was shooting, printing and selling for 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. The pay is terrible and there is absolutely no scope for expression or creativity, BUT: I was taking 1500 – 3000 pictures a day with manual controls and every photo I took was printed and put up on a wall for everyone to see. Tie this to the fact that my boss on the ship was one of the most uncompromising people I have ever met, I was forced to become very good with my gear very quickly.

After 6 months I left the ship in Australia, flew home and, being broke, started to turn to my photography for an income. The rest of my education came from reading and learning diligently every day, shooting a lot, spending time with other experienced photographers and business people, and making an effort to be honestly critical of my own work.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
There are many great photographers and other people who inspire me on a daily basis, but I think getting into the photo game was simply a combination of providence and a lack of other opportunities at the time. It’s funny where life takes us sometimes.

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 can be difficult sometimes, especially for someone as hard on himself as I am, but when I feel uninspired and unmotivated I find that the best thing to do is to simply start and do SOMETHING – even if it’s bad. I don’t have a team of creatives to draw on, and my clients always expect me to come up with something new and fresh every time.. so when I can’t think of anything, I often have to force myself to go out and begin shooting anything to see what develops, or to sit down and begin writing down anything that comes to my mind. 99% of what I produce during these sessions is usually pretty bad, but that other 1% has very often turned out to be where my best work has come from.

And then, when you have created something worthwhile, you have to make sure that as many people as possible see it and know where to reach you.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
When someone is paying me for something, I try to keep in mind what would be best for the client and how I would feel in their shoes. I have had to learn to curb my arrogance and ego if I am going to make it in business. Having said that though, I do believe that that it is very important to only put out work that you are happy to be associated with, and those two ideals can sometimes be in conflict. When that happens, I try to think about the situation reasonably and figure out how the decision is going to affect me in the long term. Sometimes that has meant saying no to work when I couldn’t really afford to say no to, and sometimes I have had to swallow my pride, take the money and let it go.

I also try to keep a separation between the commercial and the fine art parts of my operation and to only compromise when it makes sense to me.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I have been lucky enough, and work in a market that is small enough, to be able to rely mostly on word-of-mouth and repeat clients. I try to keep my social media updated and to keep my website in order, but generally I prefer to be shooting, printing and editing. I have found that as long as my work is good enough, most jobs will lead to further business.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Invest in a good printed portfolio. Yes, have a website, have Facebook, have an iPad with a portfolio app… but remember that the buyers often get thousands of electronic portfolios sent to them by email – sometimes from people who are better than you are. What stands out these days is something physical like a high quality portfolio book, or even a collection of loose prints in a nice box. Spend the money to have it done by someone who knows what they are doing, and print it on fine art paper. You can show it to them in person, or ship it to their offices with a note saying it will be picked up again after a week or two. I’ve also found that including a pair of white cotton gloves in the package makes the prints immediately seem more impressive and will make them last longer. If you want to replace a print in your portfolio, and it was handled carefully by the people who saw it, you can always frame and try to sell it, or give it away as a gift.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I try to always be working on some sort of series or project during my spare time. I also find walking around the city with my camera has a very therapeutic effect on me. Often great images can come from these excursions. To be honest though, I do find that the more of a business the photography becomes, the less often I think about grabbing my camera as I head out somewhere… something I should maybe work on.

How often are you shooting new work?
That’s a difficult question to answer – I’d have to say that it depends on what I am working on. I would guess that on average I am actually out shooting for profit for about 2 days per week, with the rest taken up with post-processing, seeing clients, making and framing prints, teaching and running the business.

About the Photographer:

Born and bred in Namibia, Willem’s interest in photography started relatively late at the age of 23. However, his eye was developed from an early age through his love and proficiency in fine art. In 2005 Willem graduated and immediately embarked on several successful business ventures, but changes in outlook and values in his early twenties finally led him to discover photography as a way to satisfy, develop and share both the creative and the analytical parts of his mind in a fulfilling and meaningful way.

Mostly self-taught, Willem has approached the subject with diligence, constant self-assessment and high personal standards and over the course of only four years, the scope and nuance of the construction and composition of his work have increased exponentially. Today, he is a force to be reckoned with in the world of photography.

Willem is one of Namibia’s most avant-garde and exciting photographers whose talent for shooting movement is unparalleled. In the commercial realm too, Willem has experienced much success and is in high demand as a portrait and fine-art photographer. He is known for his technical skill and knowledge, his versatility and ability to work equally well with both controlled and natural light.

Contact details:
Email: willem@willemvrey.com
Phone: +264 81 238 7654
Website: www.willemvrey.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/willemvreyphoto

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

New Ideas In Photography – Rob Hann

Julie Grahame:
I’ve known Rob Hann for about 20 years – my agency licensed his music and celebrity photographs here and in the UK. He relocated to the States about ten years after I did, and I’ve been impressed as I watched him reinvent himself.

Rob Hann:
I started working as a photographer in 1993, shooting portraits for magazines and record companies. I was living in London and shot over 900 commissions. I have seven portraits in the permanent collection of The National Portrait Gallery.

In October 2001 I took my first photographic road trip in the US, shooting landscapes and portraits for my own pleasure. I moved to New York in 2003, continued to shoot editorial portraits, and took road trips whenever I could.

By the end of the decade work was very thin on the ground. I was still shooting but not enough. My credit card debt was getting out of control, I was struggling to pay the rent, and I couldn’t afford to go on the road with my camera. A Chelsea gallery was selling my road trip photographs but not enough for that income to be significant.

In August 2010, out of desperation, I decided to see if I could sell my road trip pictures on the street. I bought a small table and set up in SoHo. I had a selection of prints in 11×14” and 8×10” mats.

I thought I was saying goodbye to any aspirations I had in the art world. I was just hoping I might be able to make the rent.

I quickly found that I enjoyed being on the street, meeting people, and my prints were selling well. To my surprise I found that people did not disregard the work because I was selling on the street. Instead I found that if people saw work they thought was good it didn’t matter where that work was.

I hadn’t been on the street many weeks when the owner of nearby Clic Gallery stopped at my table and suggested selling larger, limited edition prints. Clic Gallery is actually more of a store than a classic art gallery and sells books and photography as well as a variety of cool and eclectic objects. Clic has been selling my prints sized from 20×24” to 50×60” in editions of 25 for the smaller prints, to editions of 6 for the largest. Some of the editions have sold out. The gallery is only a few blocks from my table in SoHo and I often send them clients looking for larger prints.

In the spring of 2013 I met the owner of a Stockholm gallery in SoHo. After initially buying a small print at my table he got in touch to buy a number of my large prints. In November the gallery gave me my first solo show and I travelled to Sweden for the opening. The Stockholm gallery is similar to a classic Chelsea gallery and is a little shy about me selling on the street so I haven’t mentioned the name here.

Other good things have come about from connections I’ve made on the street. My pictures will be in a book of landscape photography, being published by Thames and Hudson in September, alongside the work of Edward Burtynsky, David Maisel, and other great photographers.

I’m still on the street four days a week and on a really good day sell more than 30 prints.

I still get the occasional call to shoot a magazine portrait but now I turn them down. I enjoy being my own boss and shooting whatever I like.

What I’m doing won’t suit everyone’s temperament. I work long hours in very cold and very hot weather and I find it tiring. I’m lucky that my photographs appeal to a broad spectrum of people.

I rent a studio apartment in Manhattan but don’t have a mortgage, a car, or even a television, and I don’t have kids I have to put through college. I have cleared my credit card debt, can pay my rent, and am funding my ongoing road trips… and I’m still a photographer.

Rob Hann by Dan Cruz

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New York Portfolio Review – Part 2

I’ve got a joke for you. You might have heard it before.

A black guy and a white guy walk into a bar in Alabama in 1955. The bartender looks at the black guy and says, “If you don’t walk right out of here this second I’ll blow your f-cking head off with this here shotgun.”

So the black guy leaves, with no recourse but to step out the door ass first, to ensure he doesn’t end up with a back full of pellets.

What’s that you say? That joke’s not funny? It’s tragic? Oh. OK. You got me.

It was actually just another one of my ridiculous intros, in which I try to make a point by not talking about what I’m talking about. Which in this case is race, a difficult topic in the best of circumstances.

To be fair, today I’m talking about “diversity.” Which includes such sub-topics as age, gender, gender orientation, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and class. All get cooked together in this melting pot we like to call America. (Or do I mean the Internet?)

I grew up in a fancy, former farming-community-nyc-suburb in New Jersey. I’m a white male, from a good family, so I’ve been afforded opportunities many others have not. But I’m also Jewish, and my people have been enslaved and exterminated, so I’ve got that going for me.

My town in Jersey had a large population of Asian-Americans, as a since-closed-legendary-Bell-Labs facility had many engineers on staff. We had Jewish/Italian/Irish Americans too, but that was about it. Non-ethnic-Caucasian-Americans from lower income brackets lived in other towns, like Union Beach. (There were no African-Americans or Latinos to be found.)

Here in Taos, we’re lucky to be a mountain community that has any diversity at all. So many ski towns are as white as the snow on their famed jagged hills. Here, we have Native Americans, Hispanic folks, and us gringos. That’s a lot, for the American West. Highly limited, though, compared to you urban dwellers.

But New York? Fuhgedaboudit.

Everyone on Earth rubs shoulders. It is one of my favorite feelings. Walking around amongst humans from all countries, skin colors, sexual orientations. You name it. (Well, perhaps not walking around. Sitting or standing on a train. Underground. Pressed up against a lot of strangers.)

Being around other types of people is good for the soul. It imprints deeply that we are so much alike. Personified, the other begins to seem like a neighbor. And it’s cool to like your neighbors.

In-person-contact subverts racism.

Too often, in our photography world, we hear that it’s too white. Or too male. Right? How many times have you read a blog post about a contest jury that was all white. Or an art exhibition that was 90% male. Right? I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. Why is it like that, when all smart people know diversity is a good thing?

Inertia. That’s my answer. A lot of people assume things will come to them. That communities grow naturally, and it will slowly get better over time.

That’s one way to go about it.

It’s another to actually call/email/text/FB/tweet/snapchat your contacts about an event, and ask them to do the same with theirs: to reach out and tap up large networks that are different than yours, with the belief that the spiders crawling around various webs will make beautifully diverse babies.

You saw from the title that this article was meant to be about the NYT Portfolio Review, and so it shall be. The above paragraph describes the strategy invoked by David Gonzalez and James Estrin, the NYT Lens blog co-editors who facilitated the review.

Like a lot of people, they believe getting various voices to the table is inherently good. So when they announced the 2nd New York Portfolio review, rather than wait around for whatever submissions came in, they did extensive outreach. “The goal was to make sure we had applicants of all kinds,” Mr. Estrin said. “So we did a special reach-out to make sure that we had the photographers. I know the photographers are out there, both in the documentary world and the art world, so we made special effort to have them apply.”

He shouted out En Foco, among other organizations, for helping to encourage photographers of color to send in their work. Mr. Estrin also stressed that they are interested in including people across class divides as well. “The core of this was the free aspect,” he added. “We wouldn’t do it otherwise. Plain and simple. We just wouldn’t do it.”

I report here that these guys succeeded in creating one hell of an integrated crowd.

As I thought about how to approach a second article, after dropping the fire alarm story last week, the thing that stuck with me was how amazing it was to be surrounded by talented, passionate people from so many backgrounds. I personally reviewed male and female photographers from Japan, China, Norway, Germany, Ecuador, and Brooklyn. (And then had beers at the Half King with a Japanese-Korean guy from Germany, a German guy living in Estonia, and a long-haired Mexican dude who shoots for Sports Illustrated in New York.)

The Lens team needs to be commended, and I’d suggest others follow this model. (They walked the walk, as it were.) Mr. Estrin stressed that his colleague, Mr. Gonzalez, as a person of color, was particularly adept at handling these issues.

“I once asked the editor-in-chief of a publishing house why one of their survey books had so few Latino or African-American photographers,” Mr. Gonzalez chimed in, via email. “He was refreshingly honest in his response: curators and editors often stick to whom they know. Well, I know lot of different people.”

“In fact, I would argue that I might know more people than some of the more noted editors out there. This is not a boast, but a reflection of my cultural/social roots and experiences: as a Puerto Rican, New Yorker, Yalie, Times-man, I’m aware of photographers, journalists and issues that might go unnoticed by others who do not have that sensitivity.”

Beyond diversity, though, there has to be great photography. The second part of the strategy, I was told, was to have enough diversity in the applicants to ensure they could make individual yes/no decisions based strictly upon the quality of the work.

Last year, some of what I saw was not very good. This year, every photographer had work worth showing. So let’s get to it then.

Motohiro Takeda showed me his pictures on Saturday. I’d heard about the project in the grapevine at Review Santa Fe last summer. The prints are very dark, and he hands you a flashlight to view them. They’re insanely gorgeous, but don’t deliver the same experience on the web at present. I wanted you to see them anyway.

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Holger Keifel was there on Saturday as well, and showed me a series on Boxing that was subsequently published on Lens. I loved six images of donated organs, in transit to be transplanted. He claimed to have 7 seconds each time to get the shot, and wanted us to know “the idea of this series is not about death. It’s about saving lives.”

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I also met Linda Bournane Engelberth the first day, when Mary Virginia Swanson grabbed me and said, “You have to look at this,” before handing me a laptop. The Norwegian photographer explores disaffected youth in Latvia, where the opportunities are few, and an Empire-hungry Putin is looking over their shoulders.

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Evan Ortiz grew up in Brooklyn, and is a journalism student at RIT. He showed me the project with headphones in video form, which I thought was strange, as it meant we couldn’t talk. But I liked the video piece very much, so he was right to do it that way. The powerful series focuses on a fellow student who overcame addiction and depression when she came out as a lesbian.

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Gina Pollack showed me images of women in their underwear. They’re accompanied by audio about the project “Bikini Season,” which examines how women view having their private areas waxed. It’s a smart subject, as the audio manages to be hilarious and poignant at the same time, which is a difficult mix to conjure.

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I first met Kayle Schnell on top of a mountain. Honestly. While hiking to Kachina Peak at Taos Ski Valley this winter, I stopped to talk to someone because she carried a heavy, pro camera up a very steep mountain. Not an amateur move. It was Kayle, who’s a journalism graduate student at CUNY. Her long term project focuses on a recovering drug addict on methadone. (And nicotine, apparently.)

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Santiago Arcos Veintimilla is a from Ecuador, and was recently awarded a Fellowship to work with the Magnum Foundation. His project, “La Cienega,” depicts the only town in Ecuador that has no children. That snake photo is going to haunt my nightmares for years.

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James Lawler Duggan is a young photojournalist who’s worked all over the “Arab Spring” territory in the Middle East, and in Syria as well. He described asking the Syrian man to take off his shirt so he could make the photograph, and how hard it was to do that, not knowing what was underneath.

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Grant Hindsley is currently based in Provo, Utah. I liked some of his single images, and a project on same-sex youth couples as well. The Mizzou Pride picture was one of my favorites of the weekend, and it felt proper to end today with Al Sharpton, straight outta NYC.

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Art Producers Speak: Cedric Angeles

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 Cedric Angeles. His images of food and travel always have an angle or composition that makes you see things from a different perspective, resulting in an a-ha moment.

A boy jumping into the Black Sea in the coastal town of Batumi, Republic of Georgia. This was my first assignment for Travel and Leisure Magazine.

A boy jumping into the Black Sea in the coastal town of Batumi, Republic of Georgia. This was my first assignment for Travel and Leisure Magazine.

Portrait of poet Marilyn Nelson at the Soul Mountain Retreat, a writer’s colony she started in East Haddam, Connecticut. Commissioned by Oprah Magazine.

Portrait of poet Marilyn Nelson at the Soul Mountain Retreat, a writer’s colony she started in East Haddam, Connecticut. Commissioned by Oprah Magazine.

Portrait of a mento band, the Jolly Boys. Photographed at their favorite bar in Port Antonio, Jamaica for British Airways High Life Magazine. The band is experiencing a resurgence in popularity after releasing a cover af Amy Winehouse’s song, Rehab, in 2010.

Portrait of a mento band, the Jolly Boys. Photographed at their favorite bar in Port Antonio, Jamaica for British Airways High Life Magazine. The band is experiencing a resurgence in popularity after releasing a cover af Amy Winehouse’s song, Rehab, in 2010.

Publix 2013 Milestone 1:00 Spot. Publix wanted to show the significant milestones in our lives such as a birth of a baby, a birthday, graduation and getting married. The production and filming were done in Tampa, Florida. In conjunction with the video, I also shot print ads for this campaign. This is a great example of the blurring of lines for photographers being asked to be directors as well.
This is part of an entertaining story for Bon Appetit Magazine with musician Jack Johnson and his friends,  shot in the North Shore, Oahu in Hawaii.

This is part of an entertaining story for Bon Appetit Magazine with musician Jack Johnson and his friends, shot in the North Shore, Oahu in Hawaii.

A fashion story in Mazatlan, Mexico for Travel and Leisure Magazine.

A fashion story in Mazatlan, Mexico for Travel and Leisure Magazine.

Part of an Ad campaign for ARUBA.

Part of an Ad campaign for ARUBA.

Personal. My wife as the artist Frida Kahlo with our youngest daughter, Gala. Photographed in our living room.

Personal. My wife as the artist Frida Kahlo with our youngest daughter, Gala. Photographed in our living room.

Portrait of writer Malcolm Gladwell for RED Magazine. Photographed in his apartment in Manhattan.

Portrait of writer Malcolm Gladwell for RED Magazine. Photographed in his apartment in Manhattan.

A video portrait of Jody Meche, a frogger living in Henderson, Louisiana. Commissioned by Garden and Gun Magazine.
Backstage at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow during a performance of Swan Lake. A story about Moscow for Conde Nast Traveller UK.

Backstage at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow during a performance of Swan Lake. A story about Moscow for Conde Nast Traveller UK.

School children playing along the Indian Ocean in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Commissioned by Travel and Leisure Magazine.

School children playing along the Indian Ocean in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Commissioned by Travel and Leisure Magazine.

A shepherd in Madagascar. Part of my on-going project on animal herders around the world called Milk and Blood.

A shepherd in Madagascar. Part of my on-going project on animal herders around the world called Milk and Blood.

How many years have you been in business?
I would say that it officially started when I moved to New York from Los Angeles in 2000, so this is my 14th year.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
My “on-the-job” training started when I lived in Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating High School, I worked as a Grip in commercial shoots, music videos, and films. I learned lighting and cameras from the directors and cinematographers that I worked with on set. I wanted to be a filmmaker but my desire to travel and take pictures took precedent and I left the film world and formally studied photography at the Art Center College of Design.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
My love for photography began with my father. He was an amateur photographer and would share his photos with me. He subscribed to National Geographic magazine and I would spend hours reading and fixating on images of faraway places. I think that the urge to see these places began my interest for telling stories through images. And I knew that photography was my ticket to travel the world. I grew up in the Philippines, from a small town and becoming a photographer was the least likely thing to happen. I immigrated to the United States and lived in Los Angeles. I found work in the film industry and this was when I discovered the works of cinematographers and photographers that pushed me to pursue image making. I watched films shot by Michael Chapman, Raoul Coutard, Janusz Kaminski, Georgi Rerberg, Sven Nykvist, Vittorio Storaro, Christopher Doyle and devoured photography books by Danny Lyon, Robert Capa, Larry Clark, Miguel Rio Branco, William Klein, Richard Avedon, Werner Bishchof, Jim Goldberg, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Nan Goldin, Malick Sidibe, Josef Koudelka, to name a few.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
It is important for me to take a break from taking pictures. My wife is an artist, a painter and sculptor, creating gigantic sculptures made out of steel. Watching her create works in steel that weigh thousands of pounds is a revelation. She has been a source of inspiration for me. We have 2 daughters and I don’t need to say how kids can light a fire under your ass when it comes to creativity. I read a lot, listen to music, watch films constantly, maybe a little too much.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Once I am awarded a job, I know everything about the shoot. Creative calls have happened, layouts have been shared and I become part of the team with the creatives and the client. The creatives I have worked with have been supportive of ideas I bring to the project I would say being held back meant that I was not awarded the project as the clients may have found another photographer’s work more fitting. Commissioned work always comes with a shoot list or a layout to follow and obviously, there is always more freedom in editorial projects. Clients hire you for your aesthetic and wants you to bring your vision to the their project. I have done editorial travel stories where I am not given a shoot list, no leads, no contacts. Just a general sense on what the story would be about. Complete freedom, dream shoot, right? Not for me. I actually like directions from my editors, to be given a specific story to follow. It gives me more freedom to shoot things that are not on the list but at least I would know that I am telling a more cohesive story. I would probably not say “holding me back” – it is more a collaboration between myself, the creatives and the clients and it is one aspect of commercial photography that I truly enjoy.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Since partnering with MONACO REPS, I haven’t had to think much about designing and distributing promotional pieces for commercial work because they do an excellent job as my representatives. So instead, I think about ways to promote my work as I personally see it. For instance, I redesigned my website to focus primarily on storytelling, to include more images surrounding a piece that illustrate it in detail. I have a Tumblr page that I update with outtakes from shoots or to share new ideas, and I have a Facebook page for my photography that shares recent work and favorite images from my archive.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Be careful of trends. Only show work that you love. Create work that is personal. I mean, these are advice that have become cliche but very important to heed.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Yes, I am working on several projects at the moment. My projects are long term in nature and involve a lot of travel. I don’t believe in shooting everyday. I like shooting projects in chunks of time and taking breaks in between. A big part of nurturing my personal voice comes from functioning as a husband and a father. It is fairly easy to be consumed by photography and the time I spend with my wife and my two daughters plays a big part of making sure I stay honest with my work.

How often are you shooting new work?
My work keeps me busy three out of four weeks every month. I plan it out so that I have enough time in between to edit and decompress after days of non-stop shooting. But my wife says I am shooting new work in my head all of the time

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Cedric’s brand of lifestyle photography is simultaneously joyful and moving. When viewing Cedric’s Lifestyle photography, one cannot resist an instant sense of longing to join the scene. He is a man constantly on the move, photographing places and cultures with the goal of understanding how other people live. He approaches photography with an interest in narrative and the spirit of a documentarian. Photo District News (PDN) named him as one of the 30 Under 30 Young Photographers to Watch. He is a Co-Founder of INTERSECTION PHOTOS, a boutique photo stock agency that deals with high end travel imagery. He is represented by MONACO REPS.

Clients Include: Aruba / GQ / Travel+Leisure / Food&Wine / Bon Appetit / Gourmet / Vogue / GLAMOUR / W / Men’s Journal / Men’s Health / Self / Real Simple / Publix / Sarabeth’s / Conde Nast Traveler UK / British Airways High Life / Martha Stewart Living / Departures / Royal Caribbean / O Magazine / Discover / Lifetime / Time Inc. / Los Angeles Times Magazine / Four Seasons Magazine / Rolling Stone 

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.

Sherpas Fund

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On April 18, an avalanche on Mount Everest swept through a line of Sherpas preparing the climbing route for their commercial clients. Sixteen men were killed, making it the deadliest day in the mountain’s history.

We are a group of ten photographers who have worked extensively with the Sherpa people and are devastated by this tragedy. For us, this is a moment to ask how we can help our Sherpa friends—both in this time of crisis and in the years to come. As a first step, we are donating the prints you see here, a selection of our photographs of the Everest region and its people, curated by our editors, National Geographic’s Sadie Quarrier and Outside’s Amy Silverman. One-hundred percent of proceeds from this sale (after the cost of printing) will go to the Sherpa community via the nonprofit Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation, which has been working with Sherpa climbers in the Khumbu since 2003.

Go here to purchase a print: http://www.sherpasfund.org/

Sale ends midnight tonight PST

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The Weekly Edit- FHM: Emily Shur

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Picture Editor: Rachael Clark
Art Director:
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Photographer: Emily Shur

Heidi: What was it like to direct the talent, I’d imagine it’s like flipping a switch, and he’s on. How much interaction did you two have?  
Emily: We had a good amount of interaction.  It’s true that photographing someone at Will’s level is a lot like flipping a switch, but there has to be a good relationship between photographer and subject regardless.  He doesn’t need much direction from me, but I do think that he (and most talent) is relying on me to let him know if something isn’t working.  I think a thumbs up, a thumbs down, or a suggestion on how to make the picture better is always appreciated, and that’s part of the trust one builds as a photographer.  The concepts had been approved ahead of time so we were all aware of the different shots.  We would shoot a little, and then sometimes Will would want to see the pictures.  Sometimes he would make adjustments after he looked at a few.  We’d go back to shooting and he would slightly change his face or body language.  I think of subjects like Will as a gift.  It’s so amazing to photograph someone who is so naturally talented as a performer.  The trick is to make sure the end result is worthy of such a generous gift.

Since he’s been so heavily photographed was there pressure to try and make this shoot stand out?  
There’s always pressure to make a shoot stand out.  Always.  One thing I had going for me with this one was that this shoot was in character as Ron Burgundy which hadn’t been done that much (at least in the past 10 years or so) at the time.  I LOVE Anchorman and was beyond excited to shoot Ron Burgundy in all of his glory.  I mean, Baxter was there and everything.  I was admittedly very nervous before the shoot which is pretty normal for me.  I hate that I get so nervous, but I suppose that means I care a lot.

What sort of direction did the magazine give you?  
The magazine actually gave quite a bit of direction, which I like.  They came up with most of the shots we did ahead of time.  The general idea was to do an old school “At Home With…” shoot you might have seen in past issues of Life Magazine with someone like Frank Sinatra.  The shoot would be Frank, or in this case Ron, going about his daily business at home being effortlessly cool, but of course with a sense of humor.  They sent a pretty detailed PDF with reference images and a shot list.  I loved all of it which made me even more excited about the shoot.

A lot of your work has a sparkle of humor, but I wouldn’t call you overtly animated / funny. How does your own personality transcend your work?
Hey, I am funny!  It’s true that I’m not overly animated, loud, or hyper….I’m pretty mellow, but I am funny and more importantly, I think I can recognize funny in photographic form.  I don’t take pictures because I aspire to be a comedian or an actor or a model.  I take pictures because I want to be the best photographer I can be.  Photographing a joke is very different than hearing a joke or seeing a sequence of events that results in a laugh.  The viewer is seeing a single frame and that’s it.  So, the joke needs to be readable in that one frame.  It’s not easy, and not even all funny people are good at being funny in still photographs.  So, it’s especially awesome when I have the opportunity to photograph someone who gets the process of still photography.

You regularly update your blog, with long written entries as well which I enjoy. Describe this creative outlet for you, do you update on a schedule or when it strikes you?
I really only write when the mood strikes.  I used to do it more than I do now, but I try to keep up with it as much as I can.  It’s pretty time consuming because I don’t just write stream of consciousness style.  I go back re-read things like 4-5 times and make little changes each time.  If I don’t have time to write I’ll just post images – outtakes, published images, and personal work.  I post images that I like and see which ones other people respond to the most.  I think blogs are a good sounding board for new work.

New York Portfolio Review – Part 1

The fire alarm chirped voraciously, like a cricket in a bad mood. Immediately, every eye in the room was focused on me, the idiot that opened the fire door.

I saw them staring.

Rather than hide, which was my natural instinct, I raised my hand and waved it around. “It was me,” I said. “I did it. I’m the idiot.” That done, people went back about their business. As I’d made fun of myself, it made no sense for them to bother.

I stood in the middle of the lobby in the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, awaiting the beginning of the second day of the New York Times Portfolio Review, and I’d just made a fool of myself. (Albeit briefly.)

The day before, as everyone filed out after Saturday’s review, I was instructed to use the Fire Exit by the gruff-yet-friendly security guard behind the desk. So I approached her, after my faux pas, and said, “You told me it was OK to use the Fire Exit yesterday.”

“That was yesterday,” she said, glaring at me sardonically. “Today is today.” Is that not the perfect incarnation of New York City herself? Take nothing for granted. Make no assumptions. Or you’ll end up looking like a schmuck.

I only mention this to you, as it seems like every time I head out on the road, something embarrassing happens. Last year, at the same event, I mocked a dude in a Mexican wrestling mask only to find out I knew him. Poor form.

But I was there for a reason, which was to review portfolios and then share work with you, our loyal readers. In so doing, we at APE get the chance to give a boost to deserving young photographers, and also show you what is being made by the next generation. (In the 21st Century, we call that a win-win.)

This was the second year of the event, and it is free, which is rare. It’s announced via a Lens blog post, and then the photographers are selected from applicants all over the world. Even the application process is free, so you might consider applying next year.

As is often the case with start up ventures, the second year was definitely smoother than the first. Last year was fun, but this year was more efficient. I reviewed a few portfolios on Saturday, as a rover, but mostly focused my attention on the younger photographers who were invited to Sunday’s event.

Last year, we showed the work of two photographers. This year, everyone I reviewed had something worth sharing with you. As is often the case with younger artists, the work was inconsistent. Great images would be followed by clunkers, like the end of the batting order on a bad baseball team.

But all of them had a voice, and showed me at least one picture I found worth publishing here. The only problem, such as it is, is that I ended up seeing more than 10 artists, which can make for a muddled viewing experience below.

So we’re going to break it up into two articles. This week, I’ll show you half of the artists, and next week…the rest. I was genuinely impressed by the passion and talent in the room both days, so I can only hope you’ll respond to some of what you see over the next two weeks.

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I reviewed Andi Schreiber’s work on Saturday, and we met briefly in Santa Fe last summer. She’s a photographer, and mother, based in Scarsdale. Andi makes pictures with an honest-but-not-quite-pitiless view of family and aging in America.

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Wenxin Zhang is an artist based in San Francisco. She describes her photo series as novels, and hopes to figure out innovative ways to present the work in book form. Her portraits were my favorites.

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Arno De Pooter is a painter, photographer and digital artist from Belgium. Most of his work was pretty good, but one series in particular, called “Bleach,” was really terrific. His symbol choices were perfectly now, and the desert mirage aesthetic heightened the futurism.

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Cassandra Giraldo showed me a portfolio of images made of “Gentle Punks” in St. Petersburg, Russia. As opposed to Skull-crushing-Aryan-racist Punks. She shoots mostly editorial, but is also pursuing photography as art.

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Patrick McNabb, from NYU, was working in a theatrical, stage-it all-and-go-big-on-drama, kind of style. Some felt heavy-handed, but a few were really smart, strange, cinematic and believable.

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Mark Dorf is based in Bushwick, and is working on some fresh digital images that manage to feel relevant without being too Geeky. Some, but not all of his work, is also somewhat photographic in nature.

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Art Producers Speak: Lance Koudele

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 Lance Koudele because in a large project he was able to handle every aspect with grace under fire. He was able to handle the unexpected and somehow found a way to capture the true essence of the project. His eye for beauty was something I have only had the pleasure of witnessing a few times in my career.

Shot from a campaign for Sensi Graves Bikinis. All of the ladies were professional athletes… awesome to work with females who have not only beauty but an incredibly powerful presence.

Shot from a campaign for Sensi Graves Bikinis. All of the ladies were professional athletes… awesome to work with females who have not only beauty but an incredibly powerful presence.

Photo of Phil Sullivan in Boston for a Life Is Good rebranding I recently shot with Straub Collaborative. Always awesome to work with a brand to help them redefine themselves.

Photo of Phil Sullivan in Boston for a Life Is Good rebranding I recently shot with Straub Collaborative. Always awesome to work with a brand to help them redefine themselves.

Ryan Huggins atop Illumination Rock on Mt Hood, shot for Native Eyewear. The snowboard descent under starlight and sliver of moon was magical.

Ryan Huggins atop Illumination Rock on Mt Hood, shot for Native Eyewear. The snowboard descent under starlight and sliver of moon was magical.

Cloud break in Tengboche Nepal. This portrait for WEND magazine is of TREW clothing co-founder Chris Pew, it was one of the only cloud breaks we enjoyed on our 3 week trip there.

Cloud break in Tengboche Nepal. This portrait for WEND magazine is of TREW clothing co-founder Chris Pew, it was one of the only cloud breaks we enjoyed on our 3 week trip there.

Owen Leeper launches- Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The mountains have been the source of my creativity for the last 25 years. Nothing gives me more stoke than a steep canvas of untracked snow. “Snow Spoken” a self published photo journal will be released this fall.

Owen Leeper launches- Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The mountains have been the source of my creativity for the last 25 years. Nothing gives me more stoke than a steep canvas of untracked snow. “Snow Spoken” a self published photo journal will be released this fall.

Taken from Beach Life. A self produced project.

Taken from Beach Life. A self produced project.

Stand Up Paddle-boarder shot for Slingshot SUP. I am a fan of the underside of bridges. So many people never take the time to explore what lies under them. Each bridge is an opportunity for adventure.

Stand Up Paddle-boarder shot for Slingshot SUP. I am a fan of the underside of bridges. So many people never take the time to explore what lies under them. Each bridge is an opportunity for adventure.

Mountain Biker. Taken from a series of portraits of downhill racers.

Mountain Biker. Taken from a series of portraits of downhill racers.

Dutch Red Bull athlete Ruben Lenten. Like herding cats this one… very enjoyable and one of my dearest friends in the world of kiteboarding, something I’ve shot a lot of over the years.

Dutch Red Bull athlete Ruben Lenten. Like herding cats this one… very enjoyable and one of my dearest friends in the world of kiteboarding, something I’ve shot a lot of over the years.

Friendship Glacier British Columbia. Campaign for HydroFlask. We were airlifted to a remote hut for a week without running water or electricity to self access ski tour the surrounding mountains.

Friendship Glacier British Columbia. Campaign for HydroFlask. We were airlifted to a remote hut for a week without running water or electricity to self access ski tour the surrounding mountains.

Travel piece shot for Men’s Journal- Isabella Caves, Puerto Rico.

Travel piece shot for Men’s Journal- Isabella Caves, Puerto Rico.

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

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Well, both… I went to the Art Institute of Portland and studied Digital Media. I really twisted the curriculum to study the things I wanted- sound, photography, especially film. After graduation I soon found doors kept opening for photography so I rolled with it. When issues arose along the way I problem solved, and figured it out myself.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I think initially it was the people that truly live the subject they shoot- the Buddhist Matthieu Ricard, adventure work of Jimmy Chin and the mountain culture of Jordan Manley. It also was the people that capture the lifestyle- Daniel Blom, Chris Burkard. Lately I’ve been inspired by the more fashion travel lifestyle work of Misha Taylor.

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 never set the intention to do something to be noticed. I want the subject to be noticed, it’s not about me. I want people to experience a place and moment that they normally never would. I want them to be inspired to explore. I also want a sense of fun to radiate into the viewer… a sense of empowerment that there is a life much deeper than the one they are told of on TV.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Sometimes, but like any collaboration there is give and take. I always push the boundaries when I think it necessary, it always seems to be appreciated in the end.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I recently enlisted the help of Amanda Sosa Stone and a brilliant boutique marketing agency based out of Portland Oregon called Owen Jones and Partners. We just rolled out a new website and I’ll be following it up with a direct marketing campaign this summer.

What I am finding is when I fly out to Boston, LA or NYC to work people instantly notice my vibe is different. I live in Jackson Wyoming in the winter and Hood River Oregon in the summer and that’s refreshing to them. New bookings happen with them as a result. I really like meeting face to face with people and hope to do more of that once the summer shooting season slows to show my work.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
I think it’s important to show what you want to shoot. Show what you like. Show the story of who you are. Those authentic images hold the most magic.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Yes, I find the more I shoot the more creatively inspired I am to shoot. It goes hand in hand. Living in two locations keeps me going and grounded as well. The Pacific Ocean and Teton Mountains are powerful places.

How often are you shooting new work?
Weekly.

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Lance Koudele is an American photographer born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. His early adult years were shaped by his experiences as an extreme snowboard athlete, traveling and riding mountain regions and deserted surf breaks across the globe.

Those that know him will tell you he is naturally full of peace and compassion. It was no accident that his ease of connecting personally compelled him to begin to combine people and place. His talent for capturing the magic that happens when the two come together form the foundation of his growing career.

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

The Weekly Edit – Women’s Health: Sarah Rozen

- - The Daily Edit

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Women’s Health

Photo Director: Sarah Rozen

Fashion Director: Jacqueline Azria

Creative Director: Theresa Griggs

Photographers: Williams + Hirakawa

Heidi: What made you choose Palm Springs for location? East coast long winter?
Sarah: We wanted something dramatic and a little Mad Max feel so we originally looked into this cool dam but couldn’t permit that. Then our Fashion Director, Jacqueline Azria, who is French happened to remember always loving the windmills on the drive to Palm Springs.

Did you have a studio day and location day for this?
We actually set up a little studio in the Parking Lot. We shot the on location shots first and then the studio stuff. 

What about W+H made you choose them for this shoot?
I have shot a fashion story with Williams and Hirakawa almost a year before in Alaska and had loved the photos. And had been waiting for the right story to use them again for. I liked this one for them  because it was completely different than the previous fashion story. They are really good to work with and the results are always stunning.

What makes you stick a mailed promo on your wall? I’m sure you get a flurry?
Something has to grab me. Usually it is different or drama in the narrative. Can’t just be the same old same old. 

Are you partial to female photographers? Meaning does gender ever play a role for your projects?
It depends on the story and depends on the subject. I really just try to match the right photographer for each story.

This Week In Photography Books: William Christenberry

by Jonathan Blaustein

Colin looked away, unable to meet her eye. Shame has many tells, and this one was screaming louder than an infant at the witching hour. He’d wanted to tell her the truth for months, of course, but couldn’t bring himself to speak the words.

Now, it was too late.

Maddy had opened a letter addressed to him. She’d never done that before, but he understood why she’d done it. They’d been married for nigh on 30 years, and he was sure she’d noticed the change in his behavior.

First, he started drinking more heavily. When they could afford the extra whiskey, it hadn’t been so noticeable. But as fortunes faded, it became more obvious that $5 a week mattered elsewhere.

Colin thought he’d be able to pick up some extra day labor, but, honestly, he knew it was as illusory as magic. The economy in rural Alabama, such as it was, did not allow for extra anything, much less work or money.

Soon enough, his sex drive began to abate. Men need confidence to feel good about themselves, and a no-job-having, no-money-making, lie-around-the-house-and-drink type of man doesn’t feel desire like he used to. When he was younger, and the future held promise instead of a slow decline into ruin.

That’s the part they always gloss over in the history books. For all the talk of progress, and ideas building to the future, like the march from horses to trains to automobiles. That’s what people like to talk about.

It’s easier to forget forgotten places. They die slowly, like a malnourished child. There’s no bloody mess, and no one there to hear you scream. Though most lack the energy at the end, for screaming.

No, Colin wasn’t surprised that Maddy opened the letter from the bank. If anything, he was embarrassed not to have the guts to tell her to her face. But if he couldn’t meet her eye these days, how was he to summon such courage?

They were to be out in 30 days, even though no one in their right mind would want the house. It was falling apart as it was, and wouldn’t be standing for long, without some money and TLC. Outside of him and Maddy, there was no one who’d care about one more slanting shack. No one at all.

Except for William Christenberry, of course. Thankfully, he’s been out and about, cruising the back roads and dirt lanes of Alabama for many, many years. I’ve always loved his work, dramatic and subtle at the same time.

If you’re unaware, Mr. Christenberry has visited and revisited the types of falling down, incredibly nostalgic, romantic little shotgun shacks, and taken their pictures over many years, as they slowly succumb to entropy. Books are great for these sorts of projects. All you need to do is turn the page, and another year, or 5, has passed. No need to wait.

Should you care to see such work in a beautifully made book, you’ve come to the right place. The Fundacion Mapfre in Spain has just released an eponymous monograph, in conjunction with a pair of major exhibitions there. I will show it to you in the snapshots below, because that is what I do.

I was unaware, actually, that Mr. Christenberry also made sculptures. It’s very common in the art world, for artists to work in multiple media, but less so among more traditional photographers. I’ve been encouraging experimentation for years, as my long-time readers know, and this work can provide inspiration.

The photos of these churches and BBQ joints are amazing, but then, rendered in miniature as sculpture, the feeling changes. It must. Expressing similar, important ideas in varying ways is the sign of a genuinely engaged mind. Brilliant stuff.

Bottom line: Big, beautiful monograph by a deserving legend

To Purchase William Christenberry 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.