This Week In Photography Books: Pepa Hristova

by Jonathan Blaustein

The French have laws to protect their culture. Films. Cheese. What have you. It’s embedded in the legal code; a bulwark against rampant McDonaldStarbuckWalmartization.

Similarly, the Romans insist a good tomato sauce can include garlic or onions. But not both. Try to mess with a traditional recipe there and you’ll be met with either shock and horror, or anger and gesticulation. It’s not the done thing, messing with their bucatini all’amatriciana.

It’s these little, idiosyncratic elements of human existence that differentiate one society from another. Culturally speaking. We all need food, water, shelter, family, and a way to provide for ourselves. These are non-negotiable elements of human existence.

On the big stuff, almost all human societies have come to an agreement. A roof over you head is better than a cave. Toilets are preferable to outhouses. Cell phones are better than smoke signals. And guns and ammo are more efficient than bows and arrows.

Yet in some places, black is a funerary color, while elsewhere it’s white. Which is the proper bridal color at weddings in some places, while elsewhere it’s red. Rotten shark meat is a delicacy in Iceland, but you couldn’t get me to eat it for $50. I’ll tell you that much.

These details have fascinated photographers for as long as we’ve used cameras. Why? Because we’re observers, and the camera is the ultimate recording device.

With respect to the weird stuff, in the 21st Century, if something eccentric is going on in any part of the world, the global photo community has heard about it. Last summer, for instance, I saw a project about a small community in the Albanian mountains. There, unlike everywhere else, (except Northampton, MA,) there is a group of women who live their lives as men. They take an oath, swear to be asexual, and are left to walk the earth as if they were Adam rather than Eve.

I mentioned the project to one of my editors, who told me he’d seen photos of the sub-culture before. Everyone knows about it already, it was suggested. So I was not exactly shocked when I picked up “Sworn Virgins,” a new book by Pepa Hristova, published by Kehrer Verlag, which presents a thorough portrait-based examination of the women/men. (The narrative is introduced by a set of establishment shots with a serious cinematic bent.)

I’m not sure you’ve seen this world before, though, and the book is very well put together, so I thought I’d share it with you today. To be clear, I’m not suggesting the artist is derivative; rather that it’s just really hard to find something new to observe these days.

What most interested me about the book was its seeming anonymity. The title and artist’s name are incised into the spine, but were not legible. And there is no title page, or authorial information in the front of the book at all. So it wasn’t until I scoured the end credits that I even found the artist’s name.

Lacking that knowledge, I was left with only the story to parse. The book is divided into segments that are separated by a few pages of small, pink paper. Each contains the subject’s name, and a brief bit of info about each of them. (Great use of a paper change to keep the viewer interested.)

You’ll be enchanted by the weathered lines in each woman’s face, and scratch your head in wonder at the veracity of their biological sexuality. A woman? Really? Can it be?

Or maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll just think they’re sequestered lesbians living in a world that created a convoluted way of explaining human sexuality. Further text suggests that the tradition evolved out of a dearth of men, as so may Albanians died at the hands of violent vendettas. (Albanians being to Italians, gangster wise, what Russians are to Jews.)

OK. You get the point. This book will provide a window into one more way of understanding the absurdity of the human condition. Is it for you? I don’t know. I guess that depends upon what your definition of is is.

Bottom Line: A well-made book that explores Albanian transvestites

IMG_2255

IMG_2256

IMG_2257

IMG_2258

IMG_2259

IMG_2260

IMG_2261

IMG_2262

IMG_2263

IMG_2264

IMG_2265

IMG_2266

IMG_2267

IMG_2268

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: Brendan Meadows

- - Art Producers Speak

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

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Brendan Meadows.  I love the way his images show the drive and determination that young girls possess while still maintaining the light, fun spirit of youth.  Fantastic work!

Broncolor had approached me about producing a shoot to help bring some attention the their lighting equipment. This was shot in Vancouver at Bryan Adams's studio last spring.

Broncolor had approached me about producing a shoot to help bring some attention the their lighting equipment. This was shot in Vancouver at Bryan Adams’s studio last spring.

Real Housewives of Vancouver Season II key art. A game changer for me here on the West coast.

Real Housewives of Vancouver Season II key art. A game changer for me here on the West coast.

My daughter back from Miami and having some professional make-up applied. This would later become the album cover for Fur Trade.

My daughter back from Miami and having some professional make-up applied. This would later become the album cover for Fur Trade.

A personal studio still.

A personal studio still.

Publicity portrait for a friend turning the children's book into a motion picture.

Publicity portrait for a friend turning the children’s book into a motion picture.

Album publicity for Last Gang Records. Zero photoshop here. C-Print images sent down to Chicago to be made into puzzles, then frozen in blocks of ice and reshot in their organic natural state. 8 months of work.

Album publicity for Last Gang Records. Zero photoshop here. C-Print images sent down to Chicago to be made into puzzles, then frozen in blocks of ice and reshot in their organic natural state. 8 months of work.

Personal body of work using the Spanish Civil war as inspiration, primarily the work of Robert Capa and the first real 'media war'

Personal body of work using the Spanish Civil war as inspiration, primarily the work of Robert Capa and the first real ‘media war’

Killing Season III publicity for AMC

Killing Season III publicity for AMC

Pilot publicity for CW network. My first big US job, and big deal for me and even bigger deal with Frank Ockenfels III shooting the hands portion in LA a few months later. Retouching done by John Crawford who brought all elements together. First billboard....stoked.

Pilot publicity for CW network. My first big US job, and big deal for me and even bigger deal with Frank Ockenfels III shooting the hands portion in LA a few months later. Retouching done by John Crawford who brought all elements together. First billboard….stoked.

 Publicity work for Lab Magazine, shot this before a show in Portland last fall on Type 55 Polaroid.


Publicity work for Lab Magazine, shot this before a show in Portland last fall on Type 55 Polaroid.

How many years have you been in business?

I’ve been in the industry now for just over a decade, but only started calling myself a photographer with conviction for the last four years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?  

I held my first camera at the age of ten and my first Polaroid was of Lady Diana at Expo 86. I still have that picture. I got my feet wet scholastically at Ryerson University taking darkroom and theory classes. It wasn’t until a fortuitous opportunity came along at Westside Studio to ‘first’ under Chris Gordaneer that things really began to take shape. I did almost three years there under his wing really learning the business, production and direction first hand. After that I kept my training going and started assisting with Frank W. Ockenfells III, Nigel Parry, Andrew Eccles and Kevin Lynch.

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

Frank (fwo3.com) has and continues to be a constant source of drive and inspiration. At the beginning I was all over the place and trying to weave in between different arenas to stay versatile and fresh. My book was everywhere and filled with music, portrait, advertising, fashion and personal work…a nightmare to get in front of an art director or potential client. Some of the best advice he gave me early on was remove myself from thinking I was going to change the market in any regard. This was in Toronto at the time and he told me to create a book that was clean and on brand, the rest would come, but don’t think by pushing your vision that the work will come your way.

This was also at a time when I was unsure of my place in the industry. There was no money in music, didn’t want to stray into the fashion, advertising wasn’t my biggest draw and felt somewhat lost as to the direction I should be heading. Staying close to a classic portrait foundation was essential and wanted to still work with actors and musicians who brought something personal to the table. Staying inside the entertainment industry was a perfect fit and now my primary drive for work and finding new clients.

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 that should come naturally to any artist. Motivations are a huge catalyst for any creative endeavor. You wake up, get out of bed each day and push yourself with the only a reward being reached once the project/piece has fully been realized. Getting noticed is part of the territory that falls into the tasks column of this profession and can sometimes cloud efforts I find.

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

Not at this point in my career. The biggest struggle I have with clients at present is primarily budgetary. They go through my book with big eyes and seem frustrated they cannot get this look for a quarter of the budget.

I got a call from an East coast record label this year and he said to me; ‘We hear you’re the guy to call when we want an amazing shoot with zero money.” Flattering and insulting at the same time. And yes I bust my ass for every production and have done so since the beginning…..some of that has crossed over from the start and I still look at every opportunity to be shooting as a gift. It’s very lucky to love what you do. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing because we’re all peppered with a little production, post-production, lighting and skill sets that we have had to earn along the journey to get into that professional realm. You’re getting the full combo package having me on set.

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

Always looked at traditional means of exposure from the other side of the river bank. I could not really afford to get my work into annual submissions and thought staying original was a better means of getting noticed.

The first of which was an event I created and co-founded called Drawn to Develop. It worked directly with Street Kids International who supplied drawings from street kids around the world that I then allocated to the best Canadian photographers working at that time who had to render the drawing into a finished photographic piece that we auctioned off at a gala event in Toronto during the fall of 2008. It did 4 strong years and has raised over $140,000 for Street Kids International since its conception. That gained a ton of attention due the ambitious amount of work involved and curious nature of the project.

“Who are you exactly?” Got that a lot of that, but getting Floria Sigismondi to create an image from a drawing was worth every hang up.

From there I did a few curated shows; tried to stay relevant as best I could before moving out to Vancouver in the fall of 2010. Then I went back to square one on the ol’ rolodex and the phone went from ringing every once in a while to almost never.

Covet was started to make my presence known in Vancouver. It was also me throwing a wrench into a photographer’s inspiration to see what comes up. Bring 30 photographers to the mix who supply a subject and location that they themselves hold dear. At random each of us chose from the two groups and went out and created an original piece for the show. Did that two years in a row, got on the map and earned the attention of one of my biggest clients of my career.

Is there a formula for any of it? Not a chance. Everything I do inside the professional circuit is based upon working hard and knowing that there is someone younger and hungrier out there behind me.

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

Eventually these efforts will run themselves short and just be in vain.  Staying true to you audience and finding your stride is key. With the tireless dedication this craft demands it crucial to make your efforts worthwhile and garnish a return.

Would you plant a garden for your neighbors?

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

Constantly. My ambitious cup is always brimming over with ideas and creative ventures. Have been slowing down the project scopes as of late and asking myself more questions than just running out into the night with a burning spear, full of rum and generally running amok as I did in my 20’s. Trying to embrace a fully realized project from conception to hanging have become important lately, while still keeping content and intention at hand.

Having my commercial work grow into what I’m now showing now is starting to allow those questions relevance.

I’ve been failing upward for years and am really excited for the next couple of years.

How often are you shooting new work?

As often as possible.

I’m just now getting serious with all the extra work I shot this year and getting ready to rotate the portfolio, the website and putting together a small promo from some recent time in Japan.

————————————————————

Brendan Meadows is a photographer based in Vancouver, Canada.

He began his professional training at Westside Studio in Toronto. Today, after a decade of experience in advertising, publicity, editorial, music and portrait photography, Brendan has developed into a versatile professional, known for his ability to comfortably weave through many different arenas. His professional travels have taken him from the Swiss Alps, to the Arizona desert, to the high Arctic and the Caribbean, shooting everywhere from grand hotels to gritty slums.

The dominant thread in Brendan’s signature style is his strong interest in photographing people. He considers this focus to be his greatest strength and concentrates the bulk of his creative efforts towards creating images that celebrate all aspects of humanity. Brendan has produced pictures that brim with conviction, demonstrating a vision that is both raw and precise.

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 – Who Shot it better?

- - The Daily Edit

 

-4

Men’s Fitness

Consulting Design Director: Joseph Heroun
Creative Director: Andy Turnbull
Photo Director: Jane Seymour
Associate Photo Editor: Henry Watson
Photographer: Peter Yang

 

-6

Men’s Health ( US )

Creative Director: Robert Festino
Director of Photography: Jeanne Graves
Art Director: Thomas O’Quinn
Deputy Director of Photography: Don Kinsella
Photo Editor: Mark Haddad
Photographer: Sam Jones

 

 

-5

Men’s Health ( UK )

Creative Director: Declan Fahy
Photo Director: Cat Costelloe
Art Director: Jamie Sage
Deputy Art Director: Marianne Waller
Picture Editor: Alexandra Kelly
Photographer: Patrik Giardino

 

Portfolio Reviews – Review Santa Fe

- - Portfolio Review

I believe, when done right with a little luck/good timing thrown in, portfolio reviews can be very beneficial to photographers. I joined the Board of Directors at the non-profit Center in Santa Fe (full disclosure) over a year ago and have really enjoyed getting to know the people behind it and the inner workings of the portfolio review they put on called, Review Santa Fe. I took the opportunity of their annual call for entries to interview the Executive Director, Laura Pressley. She brings together a very high level group of Gallerists, Curators, Photo Editors, Book Publisher and Photographers annually for the event, which is no easy task. What’s always impressed me more is her ability to network, forge relationships and engage a group of people who have zero time for anything extra. Ask any additional questions you have in the comments.

Give me a little bit of your background and how you got started working with CENTER?

I’m from Chicago, received a BFA from the College of Santa Fe. After I graduated, I moved to the San Francisco area and worked at the Richmond Art Center where I witnessed the transformative effects of public art and community based art projects on families and cities. I felt myself align with the ethos of art service organizations and the public sector.

When I came back to New Mexico in 2000, I got involved with PhotoArts Santa Fe, a city-wide celebration of the medium. Through the event, I met the Director of the Santa Fe Center for Visual Arts (our old moniker) and was later recruited to be their Programs Coordinator after their success of the first Review Santa Fe. I have been here ever since. The name of the organization and the programming keep evolving, but the organization has maintained a sincere purpose and campfire quality that has been there since the beginning.

You are in the middle of your call for entries, tell me about the programs you have this year?

Yes! The call for entries (http://www.visitcenter.org/callforentries) is targeted to photographers who are looking for support and exposure opportunities. The award recipients receive a professional development package including online and traditional exhibiting platforms. This is not a “contest” but rather an opportunity to work with an art service organization in expanding your reach.

PROJECT LAUNCH (http://www.visitcenter.org/competitions/overview/project_launch_2014) is a grant for documentary, journalistic or fine art projects with a $5,000 cash award, two exhibitions with one during Review Santa Fe and the other at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center later in the year, also publication in Lenscratch, invitation to Art Photo Index and more. The Selection Committee is Fred & Laura Ruth Bidwell, Bidwell Projects & Transformer Station; Roger Watson, Curator, Fox Talbot Museum; and Patrick Witty, International Picture Editor, TIME magazine. Deadline: January 22, 2014

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT (http://www.visitcenter.org/competitions/overview/project_development_grant_2014) is a grant for works-in-progress for documentary, journalistic or fine art projects with a $5,000 cash award, two exhibitions with one during Review Santa Fe and the other at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center later in the year, also publication in Lenscratch, invitation to Art Photo Index and more. Juror: Lisa Hostetler, Curator, George Eastman House, formerly Curator at the Smithsonian Museum. Deadline: March 12, 2014

THE CHOICE AWARDS (http://www.visitcenter.org/competitions/overview/choice_awards_2014) are in three categories Curator’s, Editor’s or Gallerist’s Choice and you can choose to enter 1, 2, or 3 of the categories for your work. The recipients are featured in the Award winners exhibition at Center for Contemporary Arts during Review Santa Fe. They also receive complimentary participation in Review Santa Fe, Lenscratch publication, invitation to Art Photo Index and more. The jurors are Curator’s Choice – Malcolm Daniel, Curator in Charge, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX formerly Curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Editor’s Choice – Cheryl Newman, Director of Photography, The Telegraph, England; and Gallerist’s Choice – Steffi Schulze, Gallery Management, Camera Work, Germany.

REVIEW SANTA FE (http://www.visitcenter.org/reviews/overview/review_santa_fe_2014) is a juried portfolio review event and conference scheduled for June 26-29, 2014 in Santa Fe, NM. Review Santa Fe is designed for photographers to get their work seen by those that can help them achieve maximum impact. Scholarships and payment plans are available for photographers upon acceptance. Deadline: January 22, 2014

I see portfolio reviews popping up all over the place, tell me what separates Review Santa Fe from the rest of what’s out there for photographers to attend?

Review Santa Fe has changed the course of many photographers careers with dozens of actual outcomes every year. The juried component elevates the experience for all involved as it attracts not only committed photographers but also reviewers from high distributions magazines and high profile museums who don’t go to other reviews. The reviewers talk amongst each other giving CENTER’s reviews high marks. Many have stated that it is the best review they ever attended.

I just sent out our e-news yesterday with part of a testimonial from Alec Soth, here is the whole thing (from 2005): “A few years ago I felt stuck. I’d completed a project and received some attention in my hometown but I had no idea how to get the work out nationally. Out of the blue I was nominated for the Santa Fe Prize. The award and the attention were terrific, but the real prize was the review experience. The exposure to prestigious professionals and fantastic fellow photographers gave me access to an invaluable national network. It didn’t take long for this experience to reap huge rewards. Within a year of my experience at Review Santa Fe, I had a solo exhibition in New York, a book contract and was invited to participate in the Whitney Biennial.”

I do a lot of the research on who is using photography well and paying. Our reputation and our alumni have allowed me to cultivate key relationship with those picture professionals. At Review Santa Fe, you may have opportunity to meet with someone who can add your work to our nation’s archive in the Library of Congress. In one day it’s very possible you could meet with decision-makers from The Library of Congress, the Whitney, the Getty, TIME magazine, The New Yorker and many others who are looking for content. So, there’s fertile ground at Review Santa Fe that attracts not only some of the best reviewers and photographers.

Our alumni list is hot, hot, hot with editorial and fine art photographers – Alec Soth, Chris Jordan, Julie Blackmon, Hank Willis Thomas, Brian Ulrich, Tamas Dezso, Cristina de Middel, Carolyn Drake and Ben Lowy…the list goes on and on.

If I’m a photographer thinking about going to a portfolio review tell me how should I evaluate what’s available and how do I know I’m ready for one?

Regional reviews at your local photo art centers are great for getting feedback on a work-in-progress. It’s actually quite nice for reviewers to know that there is no expectation and allows for a really authentic and engaging conversation that can lead to insights and next steps. The more national and international reviews, you are ready when you have a cohesive body of work within a polished presentation that may be relevant to a broader audience. It doesn’t have to be fully completed but having a resolved concept and direction and being able to communicate clearly what the work is about is important.

In terms of criteria, I would evaluate the organizations track record and, if you can, ask a reviewer to speak candidly about their experience at an event. The most important thing are the reviewers attending. Ask yourself, are there reviewers on the roster that you want to meet? If so, are they accessible in other ways? You want to try to use that opportunity to meet with people you could not otherwise.

Also, many of us are becoming conscious consumers. There is a critical difference in the priorities of a non-profit art service organizations and other types of businesses. We are accountable to all of our attendees, as well as donors, the city, the state and sometimes the federal government. I have a responsibility to have actual outcomes in my programs and for our attendees to have worthwhile experiences. I would look to see if the program is aligned with a mission-based organization as that instills a level of trust and mutual investment. Essentially, non-profit organizations are for photographers, not for profit. On that note, another important question: are there scholarships or payment plans?

What advice can you give specifically with regards to Review Santa Fe?

- When in doubt submit the edgier series.
- Bring two or more projects with you to the event.
- Submit fewer images, and the tighter edit (you will be judged by your weakest, not your strongest image).
- Pay attention to your sequencing, make it like an album. When it doubt, have a strong #1, #4, and other signature pieces sprinkled evenly throughout the series. End strong.
- In your reviews, realize that you, as storyteller, are as important as the work, in building key relationships. In other words, your bedside manner is very important.

What can people expect to get out of the event? I heard from someone who had great reviews last year but they were frustrated because 3 months later nobody had responded to any of the follow up including yourself. Then in another 3 months a big magazine is publishing a portfolio of their work, so they are relieved obviously, but there was a long period where they were not happy about the time and money spent on attending and the lack of response afterwards. I know it can feel real chummy at the event, but then everyone goes back to work and reality. Can you comment on that?

Given the work is strong, it all comes down to patience. There is a lot of content needed these days for hungry image consumers. I tell a story during Review Santa Fe orientation about a three time alumni who showed her black and white images of bumblebees back in 2006. It didn’t get published until 2010 from a publisher she met at the event. That was when bees were on everyone’s radar because they were disappearing and made the news. Sometimes the reviewer is waiting for the right moment, when the audience is ripe. Editors are managing a bunch of assignments and don’t have time to take a moment to tell you that the timing isn’t right yet.

In terms of my experience, which is also reflective of some reviewers, emails that are non-urgent may wait a season or longer to be addressed. I know it’s almost absurd, that amount of time. The thing is that I love talking to photographers and this particular one, I eventually communicated when I was able to properly engage with her. If I just wrote back “be patient” and explained editors and others heavy work loads, would that have helped any? That discussion needed to be within a context of a sincere conversation that is specific to each individual at a particular moment in the life of their projects and careers.

I see that photographers get discouraged and that’s hard especially when some of their fellow reviewees seemingly get recognition right away. This year within several weeks of the event, we had two photographers on the Wired blog, one on the Smithsonian blog, two others on the New York Times Lens Blog, and a gallery exhibition. The thing is that you don’t know how long each individual has been working on their projects prior to that recognition, and how many times they tried to get the work out prior to the event, if they have an established connection to the reviewer and perhaps Review Santa Fe was that impetus to finally show the work. Each story is different.

But absolutely stay in touch. What prompted me to finally write back was that particular photographer’s holiday card made me laugh. Please keep in mind that once you put the work out there it is not on your time frames or your needs anymore – it is on the magazine, the gallery, the business, or the organization’s schedule. Since they are the ones you are hoping to work with you have to trust their judgement and trust that they are savvy business people who know when the moment is right.

What you can expect is to get your work in front of people who have the power to distribute it to a broad audience. You can expect to be around a group of people all working at a high level and who are dialed into the field. You can expect to make friends you may have for years. You can expect reviewers to be mutually invested in looking at new work. You can expect that although they may not write back in a timely fashion, they will remember your work and reach out when the time is right.

CENTER is celebrating its 20th anniversary, do you have anything special planned?

Sure do. It includes expansion into the central downtown Santa Fe outdoor venue location (the Railyard) and projections of the 2014 photographers works during the simultaneous international multi-media festival called Currents. This parallel festival has a series of programs and installations happening along with evening events with DJs and projections that our participants and encouraged to attend. Its all right down the street from our new location, the Hotel Santa Fe. We are also hosting a Saturday night Fundraising Gala with the Center for Contemporary Arts who are celebrating their 35th anniversary and the Santa Fe Workshops attendees are also invited to the gala as they are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.

Plus, the 100 participating photographers will be invited to give artists presentations scheduled throughout the weekend at the Center for Contemporary Arts. We will have two of our high profile alumni – Julie Blackmon and Phil Toledano – to give evening presentations. There’s more planned but basically its going to be non-stop forward momentum infused with some fun.

_02_PortfolioViewing

© Matt Suhre

© Matt Suhre

© Matt Suhre

© Matt Suhre

© Dottie Lopez

© Dottie Lopez

© Sam Portera

© Sam Portera

© Eric Cousineau

© Eric Cousineau

© Jane Phillips

© Jane Phillips

Mailer Printing For Photographers

- - Marketing

I want to create a couple resource pages for photographers with your opinion about the various services in the comments. If you are game for it I’d like to start with printing mailers.

A great resource for looking at mailers and promos is the blog No Plastic Sleeves: blog.noplasticsleeves.com
You can also visit many of the agent sites on our Agent List and they will many times show promos on their blog (just click the rss feed icon on the listing to visit an agents blog directly).

Wonderful machine has an excellent resource page where they list lots of companies under Printing – Business Cards & Mailers.

I know that Modern Postcard is an old standby for printing mailers and Moo has been very popular in the recent past, but what else do you recommend?

Recommended

Agency Access “does a great job, quality is a bit better and a bit pricier”

Paper Chase Printing In LA “does a really good job”

PsPrint “been using them for years and they do nice work”

4by6 “really great printing quality and paper. their color has been incredibly accurate too”

Thoughts for 2014

- - From The Field

by Jonathan Blaustein

Hubris. Such a strange word. Like a mashup of a WASP first name, and a Jewish penis-snipping ceremony that sanctifies a covenant with G-d.

Hubris relates to that innate human tendency to presume we know too much. The Greeks covered this one pretty well with the Icarus myth, and it’s a story continues to be retold through time. (Even by the future giant hairless rats, I’m sure.)

I mention it because it’s the first full week of 2014, and I’ve already found myself in a spot of bother. Totally preventable, of course.

Though I’m sitting at home by the fire, just yesterday, I found myself swimming beside my wife in the steel gray Caribbean Sea. It was no form of azure, as storms had been about all week. The waves were so big the surfers were out, and they’re about as common on the Mayan Riviera as Mafiosi rats. (Another type of giant mostly-hairless rodent.)

There we were, Jessie and I, in the empty ocean. The sky was gray like silver is gray. Or fire smoke. Or hair on an old man’s chest.

The air temperature matched the sea, so it was lovely out there. The shore was so-much-less-compelling to view than the undulating ripples, so I turned away from land. The water shimmered geometrically on every surface as the waves rolled, like perfect fractals of ocean-y goodness.

So beautiful, I thought. So beautiful. I was at peace.

I swam towards the open water. Just a bit, it seemed; seduced by sirens bearing peach margaritas. I floated on my back and lost myself for a minute or two, staring up at those 57 shades of gray.

Finally, I looked back to shore. Jessie was about forty yards closer than I, but we were both further out than I’d ever swam.
Dangerously far, in these conditions. I caught a breath, and noticed the current was actively taking us out to sea.

I high-tailed it in, varying strokes, swimming hard, and barely made a dent in the distance. We yelled to each other, time to get out of here, but ocean merely shrugged.

My folks were back at the apartment with my two kids. What would happen, I thought?

I was genuinely afraid.

I tried to keep calm, and swam as hard as I could, timing my strokes with the incoming waves. Fighting against the amoral current. Finally, I was able to grab hold of a floating rope. Jessie took the free safety’s angle, and met me at the same moment. I thought we were safe.

Then I looked up, and a huge wave was about to crash on our heads. “Dive,” I yelled. We went under, and felt the full force of fury. “Grab the rope,” I yelled. “It’s raking my neck,” she screamed, and she swam away.

After a few more minutes of walking through quicksand, finally, battered, we were ashore. Shaken. The adrenal glands, which fired again later that day at the abysmal #AmericanAirlines counter in Cancun Airport, have left a sour aftertaste with today’s morning coffee.

But my wife and I, thankfully, are none the worse for wear.

Just the day before, I was bragging to her how much experience I had in the water, from summer camps and growing up at the beach. I sounded like a younger, far less macho version of a Jewish Hemingway. (Too bad I hadn’t smoked one of the ubiquitous Cuban Cigars in his honor. Big ups to you, Papa.)

yousufKarsh-ErnstHemingway-large

© Yousuf Karsh

At night, driving home from the airport beneath the half-moon-black-night sky, she asked me if I’d ever been that scared in the ocean. “No,” I replied. Or at least not since the time I tried to body surf shore breakers in Sea Bright, and ended up with pebbles embedded in my forehead, on top of a nearly broken neck. (You can ask my cousin Daniel, if you don’t believe me.)

Do I have a point? It’s this. The New Year is upon us. Whether I ever meant to or not, I’ve turned this column into a space where you can expect to be entertained, and hopefully have your thoughts provoked. (Occasionally, I’ve been known to give unsolicited advice.) We all enjoy looking at the photo books, so don’t worry, the reviews will be back next week, in addition to the usual mix of interviews and travel articles.

But today’s thought is this: why not make a New Year’s resolution that challenges the core of who you are? Clearly, I need to work on my humility. So I’ll give it a try. Where are you weak? How can you strengthen those muscles?

Lastly, I’d like to acknowledge the obvious with our comment section. In 2013, after years of suffering insanely rude reactions to our hard work, we decided to moderate. As such, it’s become a much quieter place.

I’d like to suggest that collectively, we might find ways to use it as a public forum again. One with more behavior restrictions, I readily admit, but wasn’t that what most of us always longed for? Civil discourse?

If it’s possible to revive it as a viable resource for others, I’m willing to chip in. Best wishes, and Happy New Year! (Again with the exclamation points.)

To purchase “Karsh Beyond the Camera” visit photo eye

Art Producers Speak: Timothy Archibald

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 Timothy Archibald

Editorial Photo Illustration shot for Bloomberg Business Week ,  4/2013 for a story about the Matchbox company.

Editorial Photo Illustration shot for Bloomberg Business Week ,
4/2013 for a story about the Matchbox company.

Image from a self promotional series from 2010 titled “Babes In The Woods”

Image from a self promotional series from 2010 titled “Babes In The Woods”

Portrait of a Mother and Son for a story in Scientific American about strides in Autism research. 8/2013

Portrait of a Mother and Son for a story in Scientific American about strides in Autism research. 8/2013

Photo Illustration for a story in Family Circle magazine about pre-teens and compulsive eating disorders. 4/2013

Photo Illustration for a story in Family Circle magazine about pre-teens and compulsive eating disorders. 4/2013

 Portrait of the Wear Twins for UCLA Magazine, 2012

Portrait of the Wear Twins for UCLA Magazine, 2012

 Self promotional image created with stylist Shannon Amos 9/2007

Self promotional image created with stylist Shannon Amos 9/2007

Photo illustration for Family Circle magazine about Mother / Daughter relationships. 5/2013

Photo illustration for Family Circle magazine about Mother / Daughter relationships. 5/2013

Photographs for the Nokia Lumia Holiday Campaign , shot for Geometry SF. 12/2013

Photographs for the Nokia Lumia Holiday Campaign , shot for Geometry SF. 12/2013

Photographs for the Nokia Lumia Holiday Campaign , shot for Geometry SF. 12/2013

Photographs for the Nokia Lumia Holiday Campaign , shot for Geometry SF. 12/2013

Photographs for the Nokia Lumia Holiday Campaign , shot for Geometry SF. 12/2013

Photographs for the Nokia Lumia Holiday Campaign , shot for Geometry SF. 12/2013

Portrait for TIME for a story on Attachment Parenting. 2/2012

Portrait for TIME for a story on Attachment Parenting. 2/2012

Portrait for On Earth Magazine for a story on Salmon Fishing 9/2013

Portrait for On Earth Magazine for a story on Salmon Fishing 9/2013

Portrait of Tiny House Architect Jay Shafer 3/201

Portrait of Tiny House Architect Jay Shafer 3/201

Portrait of Jessica Mah for Silicon Valley Bank. 2/2013

Portrait of Jessica Mah for Silicon Valley Bank. 2/2013

Image from book ECHOLILIA / Sometimes I wonder.

Image from book ECHOLILIA / Sometimes I wonder.

Image from book ECHOLILIA / Sometimes I wonder.

Image from book ECHOLILIA / Sometimes I wonder.

How many years have you been in business?

I’ve been doing Timothy Archibald as a commercial and editorial photographer since 1999. Previous to that I spent 8 years as a newspaper photographer for The Phoenix New Times. It was the golden era of the alternative press: 1991-1999. The paper hired me to do all the photography for a weekly paper- two picture heavy stories a week as well as restaurant review photographs and live music photos. I worked all in black and white, shooting TMax and processing the stuff at my apartment. It was myself and 9 writers, and I really learned the power of storytelling from those writers. That job taught me how to tell a story, develop a voice, yet still package it to look like something that would fit in a newspaper. A very important 5 years in terms of figuring out how to make a living. Before that job I was just kind of a guy who took cool arty photographs. After that job, I felt I had something that just might sustain me.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?

I had the greatest education I could really ever hope for I think. As a teenager I was allowed to take college photography classes taught by Martin Benjamin at Union College in Schenectady N.Y. That was four solid years, ages 14 – 18, and then continued working for him on my summers home from college. He teaches photography as expression- he introduces it to the students as a tool to learn about the world and to let the world learn about them. Powerful stuff from the very start….and at an age where I wanted it badly. After high school I went to college at Penn State and was an Art major, really just wallowing in all of the arts…something I had no inherent talent in at all! But it was a small enough art department that simply by taking it seriously, I was able to define myself. If I did attend some big art school at that time, I know I would have been crushed like a bug.

I am a big believer in that lesson I learned there in college: you may not be the best at something, but if you find a place where you can thrive, or be comfortable, it will allow you to be your best. And sometimes that place is left of center, or small, or corporate, or not what you were expecting. And it’s not really about competing, or being the best, but it’s about being able to create a space to be able to grow, to nurture your skills.

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

Well, I always thought of myself as someone who had a long relationship with photography, rather than someone who really “got into this business”, but of course I am in the business.

I have a really vivid memory of being a senior in college and standing at a newsstand looking and being riveted by the work of photographer Brian Smale. He was working in only black and white at the time, had a hard flash in his images that suggested darkness of a sort, and his people…the vibe from the people in his pictures was just really emotionally three dimensional. I felt I knew these people, and Smale’s style packaged it all for maximum effect. I remember looking at that work and saying “ Wow…he is doing it all, and it looks like it’s his job too…!”

I’m sure that moment led me to see the editorial market as one that would reward you for having a strong voice. Now at didn’t have that voice myself at the time, but I felt that if I could cultivate one, there would be a market that would appreciate it.

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 am a big believer in the idea that your photographs should grow with you, they should mature with you, and they should reflect you like any art you’d create would.
Our work, commercial or not , is something that if you do it right, and listen closely, your work can grow as you grow…and recede as you recede as well. Right now I’m a big believer in trying to listen to the shift that work may need to take, and I think it is evident in the work we show to the market place. But it did take a while to reach that point of making something, creating some product out of all that “listening”.

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

For me, if I am brought in on a commercial job, corporate job, editorial job, anything really, it seems that it’s already past the point of everyone accepting the quirky nature of the work. That fight has already been fought. The tricky part, of course, is delivering the image with all of the unique human qualities everyone is expecting, but amidst the confines of this commercial production. Because of course, you want everyone to get what they are hoping and dreaming of from your work. By the time the photographer is called in on a project, the creative have lived this thing for months. I think it’s my job then to bring their dreams to life in a way, get them excited about this thing that was exciting in the beginning, but may have gotten a little stale to them in the process. And of course, if your work is a little bit off base, you tend to view your supporters, clients, anyone really, with such a strong sense of loyality…you want to really bring them what they hoped for from your work in the first place…you want to let them have the magic.

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

My personal projects really are the things that seem to resonate with the creatives. Now it doesn’t mean they can really hire me to do work that looks like that…but it is the thing that gives me some traction. And really at this point, I wish it was my commercial work that everyone was gaga over…but that really doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards…or stars…or anywhere really. But with that knowledge, it does allow you to abandon some markets and try to passionately pursue other markets. I am a big believer for setting yourself up for success- getting yourself in the position to do the work that just flows out of you, whatever that is.

But for me, the large personal projects have been the things people always want to see and discuss: Sex Machines: Photographs and Interviews (2005 ) and ECHOLILIA / Sometimes I Wonder ( 2010) are the bigger ones that have become books, but I’m always working on smaller ones that never get beyond my website and spam mail, but they do give people something to grab on to, something to follow.

Now we have, of course, the free social networks at our disposal. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr…and what is next? Though I laugh about these things, I do embrace them and really think they have allowed me to extend into an audience in a way I never was able to before. Via my blog and the various social networks, I’ve tried to create and maintain a persona that gives people a good feeling for what it’s like to work with me. I’m a true photo geek, I totally love sharing other people’s work, I’m fascinated by the history of photography ( and it’s seemingly diminished importance) and I like to be a busy working photographer and a curious Dad to my two boys. I want these concerns to come through in my online persona and I feel they help others relate to me as well. Now this is a lot to communicate, but over time online, it can come to the forefront. In the past our attempts at sharing anything from our life was so few and far between, it just wouldn’t happen. It was then all about the work, but the barriers between creatives and photographers were immense. Now, it’s a bit more slippery, in a good way.

All that said, we just were offered the opportunity of spending a week “taking over” the Smithsonian Magazine Instagram page. It was my first shot at playing the Instagram game, and I gotta say it was a manic constant and total blast.

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

Oh, well that is the million dollar question that will haunt photographers to the day they die…or the day photography itself dies! Work needs to speak the language of the marketplace, that is true, but then it also needs to be GREAT and unique as well. Add super consistency to that, and a nice personality, let’s say some physical attractiveness maybe…and well…maybe that it the key to success? Really, anyone who answers that question with confidence I’d be immediately suspicious of. But we do see people who have cracked that code: their work is intellectual and visceral and they are still doing massive campaigns and printing money. Now…some people may say my work has those first two elements, but those last two points have been elusive to me. But I’m always working on something, so I really can not complain.

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

I go in phases: each super serious personal project seemed to take 3 years of shooting and then two years of blowing it up into the media stratosphere. Then after those periods I seem to put the self expression aside and focus on my career with a bit more intention. Right now I’m putting a lot of energy into shifting the work into this new phase that is just a bit more human and less ironic. I wanted to find a way to tap into the raw energy people responded to in the ECHOLILIA work, but try to speak that language in my assignment work. And only now, three years past the book publication, does it seem like I learned how to do that. And even that is like…oh, trying to tap into some emotional rawness that is kind of an intangible. It’s not like you can just rely on a technique. But I’m 46, I’ve been doing this for a while now. I think I can tap into this stuff I searching for, but I really couldn’t have done it earlier.

How often are you shooting new work?

This summer I had an intern, first time ever, and her marching order was to produce commercial looking work with me using her energy and enthusiasm…and a tiny non existent budget. Summer’s coming to a close and it is exciting for both of us to see these images blossom. So here a little structure did help it all come to fruition and most likely was more productive for everyone then some make work project like working on a data base or something that we’d all rather not do.

Now I should note that this first ever intern is a mom of 3 pre school kids and went to NYU as well. She’s got as real a life as anyone and talked her way into creating an internship that didn’t exist at all. So there was a drive there, and it would have been silly to not think that she would bring something startling to the mix. I knew there was something there. One of our first pictures from this internship is included here.

But the point I’m trying to make here is don’t stop listening to life. Don’t feel you’ve heard it all before, you’re bored and jaded, there is nothing new and you can’t get out of a pattern. When I was younger I feel like I needed my work to shout and be extreme, to find things people have never seen before. Now I feel there is a lot to come from simply listening and seeing the wonder that sometimes comes out of what is right in front of you.

——————————————————————————————-

Timothy Archibald ( b. 1967, Schenectady, N.Y.) is a commercial and editorial photographer living and working in San Francisco, CA.

His commercial clients include Crispin Porter Bogusky, TBWA Chiat Day, American Express, Skittles, TIME, National Geographic, and Scientific American.

Archibald’s personal projects have appeared in the collections of Videotage in Hong Kong, The Australian Center for Photography, The Museum of Sex, NY and The Catskill Center for Photography in Woodstock N.Y. He is the author of Sex Machines : Photographs and Interviews ( Process, 2005 ) and ECHOLILIA / Sometimes I wonder ( Echo Press, 2010 )

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.

Weekly Edit – Architectural Digest China: Ben Miller

- - The Daily Edit
    Screen shot 2014-01-06 at 5.52.55 PM Screen shot 2014-01-06 at 5.53.04 PM

Architectural Digest China

Talent (Indigo Communication): Michelle Liu
Visual Director: Leon Sun
Photographer: Ben Miller

Heidi How did you end up working in China on this particular project? Are you sending promos internationally?
Ben: I used to live in Shanghai, so am familiar with the culture and speak the language.  My wife’s parents still live there, so in an effort to see her family more often, I decided to start exploring the market there last year.  I went on a couple of trips and called a lot of agencies, knocked on a lot of doors, and made some good contacts.  I have not done any mailers yet, but the meetings alone were able to get bids on a number of large projects, plus a few editorial assignments.  I also have some informal collaborations with some of the larger production houses there, who are putting my name in the hat for larger projects.
How much are you working here in the US?
I am still working more in the US, I am signed by FRESH Artist Management in NYC, which is part of Greenhouse.  They have been great and helped me out on a ton of large projects and bids last year.  The reception in the China market has been very encouraging as well, so I intend to pursue work on both sides for the foreseeable future.  Some of my bigger clients in 2013 included Dr. Pepper, Adidas, GAP, Ted Baker, Lucky Brand, HUE, Indah, and editorial in Rolling Stone Russia, Ladies Home Journal, Leveled Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler.  I am mainly doing Ad and fashion jobs, but would love to do more editorial.
I assume you speak Chinese, is that right?  
Yes i am fluent in Chinese, which helps a lot.  Most people in Shanghai speak good or decent English, but it does show a level of respect to make the effort to learn their language.  The work of foreign photographers is very popular over there, but most foreigners cannot speak, so it loses them a lot of jobs.
Were there any obstacles to this shoot?
In China, budget is always an issue.  The rates are not the same as in the West, unless you are already a super famous photographer.  So, this means being more creative and figuring out ways to deliver value.  Also, I had to have a Chinese bank account to accept payment for the job, which was fairly easy to do, but an extra step.
What, if any are the differences in how the work flow, production works compared to a US equivalent magazine?
Since it is owned by Conde Nast, it is pretty much like working with any NYC Based magazine.  Similar job roles, people to deal with, editing process, etc…
How did the creative process unfold for this project? Do you get much direction?
I worked with Leon Sun, the Visual Director at AD China, who is a super nice guy with a ton of vision.  He already had a very established concept as far as styling and talent goes.  This freed me up to focus on lighting, composition, color, etc…  We shot everything in a day at a beautiful retail space called Design Republic in Shanghai.  This included a key portrait, and a number of food and table shots.
How does the equipment rental/gear sort out?
I flew my laptop, camera, and one case of lights from the US with me. I have a set of stands, modifiers, and other grip that remain at my parents in laws’ house for all my China shoots.  For larger productions, there are great resources such as Central Studios or Amanacliq, who can rent you any of the standard gear at western prices.
Do you have a stable of assistants you work with over there?
I have a couple of good guys I know, and a number of rental houses I can call on when needed.  The quality of assistants is generally not as high as in the US, so more oversight and tutelage is usually required.

 

 

Hiring An Architectural Photographer

- - Working

Over on our sister blog, Photography & Architecture, we have an excellent post up informing Architects how to go about hiring a photographer. Julia Sabot interviewed Redeye Reps founder Maren Levinson about the process. You may find some good info in there or you may want to pass some advice onto potential clients:

There should be a cancellation policy or weather provision set up in advance, especially if there are multiple exterior shots on the list. Professional photographers are freelance. If they take your job, it is likely they are saying no to another. If you cancel without any notice due to weather or scheduling, they will want some sort of compensation for the day they did not accept another job. Mostly photographers will be reasonable about this and if they are local, could be ok with waiving it, but it should be discussed in advance.

pandainterview

The Weekly Edit: Who Shot it Better?

- - The Daily Edit, Working

BA-DEC-Cover_lettering_1_1000

Bon Appetit

Creative Director: Michael Axe
Deputy Art Director: Mike Ley
Photo Director: Alex Pollack
Photo Editor: Susan Getzendanner

Photographer: Michael Graydon
Food Stylist: Nikole-Kerriott

 

 

 

-3

Martha Stewart Living

Creative Director: Matthew Axe
Deputy Design Director: Jen McManus
Photo Director: Jennifer Miller
Deputy Photo Editor: Linda Denahan
Photographer: Anna Williams
Food Styling: Jennifer Aaronson

 

 

-2

 

Food Network Magazine

Creative Director: Deirdre Koribanick
Art Director: Ian Doherty
Deputy Art Director: Marc Davila
Photo Director: Alice Albert
Deputy Photo Editor: Kathleen E. Bednerek
Photographer: Johnny Miller
Food Styling: Christine Albano

 

 

 

Photographer Holiday Cards

- - Working

Who better to keep the Holiday Card tradition alive than professional photographers… this is in your wheelhouse folks. Here’s a few to get started, post links in the comments to your holiday card and I’ll add them to the list. Here’s to a happy and successful 2014 for everyone.

01Martin_Schoeller

More here: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/photobooth/2013/12/a-merry-photographer-christmas.html

20131118194923-e1387469216180

http://thomasleetruewest.com/2013/12/19/best-wishes/

xmas2013

http://www.shanekislack.com/xmas/

Personal Photos

http://www.portergifford.com/studium/?p=1964

LiveMusicalExperience-with-Image

http://jeffsingerphotography.com/promo/201312-livemusic/

052_Image_002-1-Edit

http://laurengrabelle.blogspot.com/2013/12/happy-holidays-montana-editorial-fine.html

http://www.tedweinstein.com/pics/2013/

postcard_template_us

http://sethlowephoto.tumblr.com/post/70507348230/merry-christmas-shot-this-photo-in-my-hometown

canvas copy

http://reciprocity-failure.blogspot.com/2013/12/christmas-card-of-year.html

2013_holiday_promo1

http://robertolding.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/happy-holidays/

20131116_MCG0032_Christmas-Edit

http://matthewginn.com/happy-holidays/

BcB-GysCIAA-VdI

https://twitter.com/Don_Johnston/status/414469820860473344/photo/1

5"x7" Post Card Template

http://klikphotographic.com/newsletter/dec2013/5X7%20copy%20low%20res.jpg

santa

http://www.mikepinches.com/santa

tumblr_my8ixyrHgr1qca6b2o1_r2_1280

http://johnkealey.tumblr.com/

xmas2013

http://www.johnzillioux.com/Clientarea/Cards2.html

davehutchinson

http://davehutchinson.photoshelter.com/image/I0000URntjP8WJbM

cassonxmas2013

http://casson.com.au/cassonxmas2013.jpg

1508191_10151795770581951_1436661311_n

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151795770581951&set=a.10151665444596951.1073741825.82326371950&type=1&theater

wendy_carrig_photography

http://wendycarrig.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/joyeux-noel/

santa

http://www.srobertsphoto.com/happy-holidays

tumblr_my0mrgvKZb1qzpo12o1_1280

http://dwphoto.tumblr.com/post/70911266023/happy-holidays

The Best Work I Saw in 2013 that I Haven’t Already Written About Yet: “Portraits.” by Luc Tuymans

- - From The Field

by Jonathan Blaustein

“There is no better feeling than stumbling upon genius of which you were completely unaware!”

That’s what I jotted in my little notebook. I normally eschew exclamation points, but in this case, it was quicker than going with ALL CAPS. Dropping an exclamation point at the end of that sentence was my way of speaking to my future self. This is so brilliant, JB! You can’t forget how brilliant it is, JB! Never Forget!

About what was I jotting shoddily coded messages, scribbled in fourth-grade quality handwriting? I was in an art exhibition featuring the best work I saw this year that I haven’t already written about yet.

Ah yes. My iconoclastic version of a “best of” column. Of course I’m far too “rebellious” to just do a “best of” photobook list, like everyone else. Each year, I do it my own way, and it has managed to kick off an unexpected sh-tstorm two years running.

Not this year. Oh no. I’m going to tweak my own rule a bit. Did you notice the column was titled “work” this year, rather than photos? We’re exploiting a technicality so I can present to you “Portraits.” by Luc Tuymans, recently published by Yale University Press and the Menil Collection.

There I was, standing in the middle of Mr. Tuymans’ exhibition, “Nice,” at the Menil Collection in Houston last month, when I wrote the aforementioned note. Please, remember how good this is, I said to myself. Go out into the world and tell the masses. Visit this free exhibition. It’s a soul colonic in these holiday-season-over-eating-meat-fest times. (The exhibit is on view through January 5th.)

Truth be told, I talked two random strangers into coming inside before I even got to the front door. A young, African-American couple called out to ask me directions to the Rothko Chapel. I told them they needed to follow me inside first, before walking the block-and-a-half up the tree-lined street. So they did.

The reason this column is long this week, in addition to my overly-ambitious espresso consumption on Christmas Eve morning, is that this exhibition was the antipodal node to the Mike Kelley exhibit I saw in Amsterdam in the spring. (Which is currently on view at MoMAPS1.)

If you don’t recall, that was the mid-life-crisis-inducing art exhibit I wrote about in April. It gave me a near-panic attack about just being mortal; not a transcendent genius for all time. Oh the shame! I was upset at first, as Mr. Kelley’s manic, dystopic mastery over so many media meant I was far more pedestrian than my ego had previously led me to believe.

It hurt like a hemorrhoid. Yes, a hemorrhoid popped up on my soul for a few hours. Shrieks rang out in my ears, first of pain, and then of joy. I was liberated; free to just be a regular artist who loves spending time with his family, and watching soccer games on the TV each weekend.

I was free to make my art because I wanted to, not because future art-historians were playing space-jenga while waiting for my works to wind their way through time. I could feel the pulse of Mr. Kelley’s illness as it pervaded the unbelievably excellent objects before me. It was unsettling genius, and I grew to like the feelings it evoked. Eventually.

Fast Forward to November of the same year. I was visiting Houston, as I had photographs in an exhibition at the Houston Center for Photography, which is one block from the Menil Collection. One might say it was destined that I see Mr. Tuymans’ show.

The book is all I have to show you, so show you I will. I mentioned a technicality earlier, and it’s this: the art objects I’m describing are reproduced here as photographs. So…technically…this is a photobook review.

Without exaggeration, I went back into the show, “Nice,” four times over a two hour period. Here’s why.

The exhibition opens with a metaphorical and literal trinity: a Spanish Colonial wooden head of Christ, a primal-looking bronze-age mask from Syria, and a small painting of a cropped Old Man’s head called “Donation,” from 2005, by Luc Tuymans. The triumvirate spoke with an authoritative but quiet voice: “Art has been a part of culture for as long as culture has existed. As has the worship of powers unknowable.”

I spent precious minutes with everything I would soon encounter, staring in wonder. The energy radiating off the objects was so intense, I felt as if red-and-black ants were gnawing on my toes. Religious fervor, the angst of death, the seduction of power, the wonder of creation, all these messages were pulsing through the space.

The mask was a predominant theme throughout, almost always giving me the joyous willies. One piece, from Vancouver Island, found/taken by Captain James Cook, sat beside what I was sure was a ceramic death mask of André Breton. Creepy-tastic.

The book confirms that Mr. Breton was alive at the time, so the piece was not actually a death mask. It just really, really seemed like one. That the two pieces shared a room with an austere portrait of Condy Rice should tell you all you need to know about how a certain dry humor can seep into even a room filled with eerie remnants of the past.

I should probably say something about Mr. Tuymans’ paintings, as they manage to both anchor the space, and hold their own with these ancient companions, which I was told he selected himself. The work manages to be primal and poetic, contemporary but elegiac. It’s all about balance, and he almost always gets it right. (One notable exception was the painting, “Iphone,” but everyone’s allowed a mulligan.)

The palette is stripped down. Super-subtle. Almost pastel. At one point, as I stared, I thought I could detect the legacy of Monet. But the colors are always beautiful and succinct. They go together like candy canes and Christmas.

As I admitted, I didn’t know who he was before I stumbled upon the show. (Though I had heard his name before.) So I began to piece things together, over the four trips, and even found myself discussing things with fellow viewers. (Is he French or German? I don’t know. Could be either. Luc is a French name, but the work seems more Germanic to me? We wondered.)

Turns out, he’s Belgian, and I could see the imprint of both the French and Flemish influences. The deft handling of light made me think of the Dutch tradition, and the sense of eccentric whimsy, just on this side of good taste, made me think of the French.

There were paintings of Jesus, politicians, war criminals, religious figures, and other things as well. (Including masks.) One portrait, titled “Portrait,” from 2000, held me rooted to the wood floor. It was the eyes. They were beatific. Glowing.

They connected perfectly with the Egyptian encaustic paintings, from the Roman era, to be found in another room. Haunting eyes. Eyes that were meant to be preserved by conservators until the Giant Rats take over. (If you doubt me, read the brilliant two-part series by Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker this month. Apparently, giant hairless rats of the future might start wearing the skins of the creatures they kill, like futuristic-cave-man-monsters. At least we won’t be around to see it…)

In the book, which provides background material for the objects and paintings, I learned the painting was a cropped rendering of a photo of a gay man showing off his tattoos for a lover. An unfamiliar woman and I chatted about whether it was a self-portrait, so sure were we there was a reason why the painting had extra oomph.

Tuymans, again in balance, manages to present his work in the context of historically important art, while still communicating that he’s doing it for the right reasons. He comes across as merely another artist plugging away, unsure what people will do with his pictures when he’s dead and gone. (Albeit a wildly talented one.)

There was a light-absorbing Ad Reinhardt painting about, and a giant gold leaf piece by Yves Klein shimmered like heat waves rising off of the Mojave pavement at 4pm in summer. You notice an abstraction of yourself in its reflection, almost as if you’re rendered by Tuymans in gold.

Picasso made an appearance, as they were displaying a piece that had been attacked by an insane art student in the recent past, and then restored. I noted to myself that when Picasso becomes an after-thought, you know you’re in a very special place.

The references to death, religion, and history are inescapable. I was haunted by a Gothic stone headpiece from France, and it’s certain to pop up in my dreams in the next few years. (Creepy dead stone French guy, go bother someone else.)

Basically, this exhibition was life affirming, while Mr. Kelley’s was ultimately nihilistic. It reminded me I had no idea what people would think of my work after I died. No one can know that. So it ought not be why we make it. Do it for now, for you, not for those jenga-playing-future-historians.

That’s what was so genius! about this exhibition, and why you should go, if you can. In combining the Old with the New, it reminds us that the urge to create and collect is timeless.

But we are not.

The craftsman who carved that Spanish Colonial Christ head, at the entrance, could not possibly have conceived of the place where his work currently resides. It would appear in his mind as a fantasy, like the first sailing ships seen by Native Americans.

What a refreshing reminder. Make things because you want to. Because it gives you joy. That’s what I took away from Luc Tuymans’ exhibition. We’re here for a short while, and then dead forever. Give it all you’ve got.

I’d like to imagine that Mr. Kelley and Mr. Tuymans crossed paths on the Super-Duper-Art-Star circuit one day. Perhaps in Basel, or Beijing. Maybe Mr. Tuymans put his hand on Mr. Kelley’s shoulder, coldly looked him in the eyes, and nodded. Empathetically.

And maybe Mr. Kelley, eyes despondent, nodded back and smiled. Mr. Tuymans might have gripped and squeezed his counterpart’s shoulder, in an avuncular way, and smiled back. Then they parted, each to schmooze a different billionaire collector.

But maybe, just maybe, Mike Kelley went home that night, looked in the mirror, and decided he could fight back his demons for a few more days.

That’s all I’ve got for you in 2013. Stay strong. Keep going. And if the giant hairless rats knock at your front door, just tell them you’re not home.

IMG_2100 IMG_2101 IMG_2102 IMG_2103 IMG_2104 IMG_2105 IMG_2106 IMG_2107 IMG_2108 IMG_2109 IMG_2110 IMG_2111 IMG_2112 IMG_2113 IMG_2114 IMG_2115

This Week In Photography Books: Notes from the Foundry

- - Photo Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

Dear Melissa Catanese,

Hi. How are you?

My name is Jonathan Blaustein, and I’m an artist and writer based in Taos, NM. I write a weekly photo book review column that’s published right here each Friday, on A Photo Editor.

We’ve never met or spoken, but you might recognize my name. That’s because I’m the a-hole who attacked you earlier this year, right here, on A Photo Editor. (You might have heard something about it.)

I made an example of a book you’d made, presenting it as evidence of the remarkable vapidity of much of contemporary photography. I’m here, many months later, to apologize. It was poor form to suggest your intellectual curiosity was less impressive than your friend list.

I often use this column as a place to sharpen the many axes I choose to grind, and you were the unwitting victim. I hope you accept my apology, because, as my regular readers know, sometimes I just can’t help myself. The taste for controversy is rarely sated gracefully.

For the rest of you, this letter is meant to serve as a reminder, yet again, that we need to keep our minds open. Just because you feel something strongly doesn’t mean it’s true. We’re at the end of 2013, and it’s a good time to make amends, apologize to those you’ve wronged, and clear your head for the New Year.

As a way of proving my positive intentions, let’s take a quick look at “Notes from the Foundry,” a new soft-cover book recently published by Spaces Corners in Pittsburgh, PA. (And edited by… you guessed it… Melissa Catanese, along with the equally-well-connected Ed Panar.)

It’s a strange book, given its inviting Tiffany-esque color palette. Open it up, and you’re met with a postcard insert informing you the publication is a compilation of work by several photographers, including luminaries Zoe Strauss and Todd Hido. (The latter of whom apparently inspired Spike Jonze’s new film, “Her,” if we’re to believe what we read on the Internet.)

Back to the book. That small bit of text on the insert is all we have to go on. Then it’s page after page of photographs, totally unlabeled. No titles, no sections, no essays. Nothing.

I recognized one image by Andrew Moore that I’d seen so many times before, and then the Todd Hido pictures at the end were easy to spot as well. But the rest of it was a bit opaque; a mashup of images by people like Daniel Shea, Nicholas Gottlund and Gregory Halpern. In fact, I had to look through the book a couple of times before discovering the text on the backflap that gives order to the artists’ work.

But what about the photos? Don’t they matter too? Or is this just an absurd attempt to hoover up some of the slime I hurled in Ms. Catanese’s direction earlier this year?

The pictures are so different from one another, it’s hard to say the book is about anything. Unless it’s Pennsylvania. Or Northern Appalachia. Maybe that’s it. The Eastern Mid-West. What would we call that?

The theme might not be super-tight, but the pictures are engaging and well-made, and in their variety, forced me to ask some good questions, as a viewer. What is photographable? Is everything?

Cameras are pointed in all directions, now, all the time. Are we really living in a world that co-exists, brick for brick, in the physical and digital realities simultaneously? If a tree falls on Google Earth, will you hear it through your new-Christmas-present-beats-by-Dre headphones? And if you do, does it even matter?

Sometimes, I find myself drawn to things other than photographs. Hunks of rock, paint on canvas, or a movie that makes me want to give it all up and hitchhike to Hollywood, with a bandanna dangling off a stick like some yokel from the Beverly Hillbillies.

Other times, though, while flipping through a book like this, I’m reminded that it’s insatiable curiosity that keeps us clicking the shutter. Curiosity at what a group of children might look like, in the silhouetted light of a highway overpass? Or why the acrid smoke rising from a chimney resembles a triumphant tornado? Or why some random pieces of plywood are taped together on a city sidewalk?

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Blaustein

Bottom Line: A cool compilation, perhaps about PA?

To Purchase “Notes from the Foundry” Visit Photo-Eye

IMG_2048 IMG_2049 IMG_2050 IMG_2051 IMG_2052 IMG_2053 IMG_2054 IMG_2056 IMG_2057 IMG_2058 IMG_2059 IMG_2060 IMG_2061 IMG_2062 IMG_2063 IMG_2064 IMG_2065 IMG_2066 IMG_2067 IMG_2068

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: Henrique Plantikow

- - Art Producers Speak

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

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Henrique Plantikow. I’ve been keeping my eye on him and feel he is prolific and fresh.

This guy is showing us his lip tattoo.

This guy is showing us his lip tattoo.

This is part of a series I photographed called "The Trestle". I had heard of this location; the only way to get there was by swimming or walking on the broken bridge and jumping in.

This is part of a series I photographed called “The Trestle”. I had heard of this location; the only way to get there was by swimming or walking on the broken bridge and jumping in.

I took this photo at the swimming pool where I used to live.

I took this photo at the swimming pool where I used to live.

I met these siblings in New Hampshire; they were traveling from California with nothing but a backpack each. We shot these at a local laundry mat.

I met these siblings in New Hampshire; they were traveling from California with nothing but a backpack each. We shot these at a local laundry mat.

I prefer not to comment on this one.

I prefer not to comment on this one.

I think what makes this portrait interesting are the New England fall/winter colors, everything is so muted.

I think what makes this portrait interesting are the New England fall/winter colors, everything is so muted.

Kids have so much energy and life; it's always a fun experience working with them.

Kids have so much energy and life; it’s always a fun experience working with them.

This is one of the photographs I stumbled on. The power of photography, is the ability to capture a moment that's gone forever in a fraction of a second.

This is one of the photographs I stumbled on. The power of photography, is the ability to capture a moment that’s gone forever in a fraction of a second.

I love improvising and making it up on the spot; this was photographed in an apartment in Boston.

I love improvising and making it up on the spot; this was photographed in an apartment in Boston.

This is from a recent library of images I took for Samsonite's back to college campaign.

This is from a recent library of images I took for Samsonite’s back to college campaign.

How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been shooting professionally for about 2 years, before that I stayed busy building my portfolio.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I’m mostly self-taught. I studied graphic design in school, and learned things like composition and color theory, that also apply to photography. I learn by doing; I got a piece of advice from Kurt Markus that I’ve taken to heart. He said to me “if you’re curious about how photography works, just go out and try it”. I did, and photography became a process of self-discovery, I started going out and finding what was interesting to me.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
The reason I got into this business was because I fell in love with telling stories and creating moments. I was also inspired by the work of Bruce Weber and certain independent films like “Y Tu Mamá También”. What inspired me was the freedom to create something original.

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?
This might sound cliché but I find inspiration in the people around me. One of the things I enjoy doing is street casting; going to an unknown place with strangers and getting them to open up in front of the camera. The process is one of the rewards for me. I’ve made many friends because of photography.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
It depends on the client; some are more conservative than others. At the end of the day, I’m there to bring the art director’s vision to life; it can be tough for them when they have good ideas turned down by clients. That’s why I keep creating personal work, I’m in control.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I focus most of my attention on creating new work. I’ve also relied on in-person meetings and referrals. Meeting someone in person is important for me; I’ve been told that I look much different than what they expected. I started blogging recently; it gives me a chance to talk about my work. I also signed with an agent that has been showing my portfolio all over.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
The biggest decision you make when you decide to become a photographer is: what will I shoot? I think there are two schools when it comes to this. One way is to pick a category of commercial photography, and build a body of work around that category. This is easier in the short term because you have a map to follow. But you’re second-guessing and copying what’s already been done.

The 2nd way is to develop your personal voice. This is harder in the beginning, and will take longer to get noticed. But in the long run you’ll create work that’s authentic to you.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
All the time. That’s when I’m having the most fun…

How often are you shooting new work?
It depends on the week; I like to keep it spontaneous. One thing I do is, go on a sprint of shooting, then I take some time to review and edit what I got.

Born in a small Brazilian town, Henrique grew up a very free spirit. His earliest memories include walking around his neighborhood hanging out with his friends getting in to trouble. He believes that from this time on he was subconsciously drawn to street culture, an ever present theme in his photography today. However, photography was not Henrique’s first love or foray in to the commercial world, he actually began as a graphic designer, a skill he believes informed his overall aesthetic. After 7 yrs of staring at a computer screen for 9+ hrs a day, a tired Henrique picked up a camera and has yet to put it down. His images have graced the pages of Dazed & Confused, Flaunt, Paper, and Out. Clients love his raw, authentic style, energetic work ethic, and desire to tell stories through his images.

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.

 

How Ted Koppel and ABC TV Tried to Steal my Life Work

- - copyright

By Nate Thayer

December 8, 2013

I am banned by legal agreement to write the following: ABC Television/ Disney Corporation, after seven years in court, where they attempted to bankrupt me and ruin my reputation for objecting to them stealing fifteen years of my life work, buckled and paid me. They have the legal right to take back the money they finally paid me–which actually all went to lawyers and taxes–if I open my mouth.

Fuck them.

Good luck getting blood from a stone while trying to attempt to muzzle a free person in a free society while claiming you are an icon of the free press and free speech

So here goes…..

http://natethayer.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/how-ted-koppel-and-abc-tv-tried-to-steal-my-life-work/

Thx, Julian

WSJ Magazine: Lawrence Beck

- - The Daily Edit

Dec2013Jan2014-spreads (dragged) Dec2013Jan2014-spreads (dragged) 1
Wall Street Journal Magazine

Creative Director:  Magnus Berger
Design Director: Pierre Tardif
Photography Director: Jennifer Pastore
Photo Editor: Damian Prado
Art Director: Tanya Moskowitz
Assistant Photo Editor: Hope Brimelow
Photographer: Lawrence Beck

 


Heidi: This is your first editorial commission, congratulations and what a treat for WSJ. What was it about this project that made you accept?

Lawrence: The Diego Della Valle/Coliseum shoot seemed the perfect subject for my first editorial commission, in addition to the fact it was for the WSJ magazine, which is beautifully printed and of very high quality and content, the subject matter was right in line with what I’ve been working on for 4 or so years in Italy, and more specifically in Rome.

You have the wonderful gift of creating portraits of the most spectacular pockets of nature, be in gardens or thickets. What is it about landscape/nature that captivates you?

The most captivating element of photographing nature and the union of human-made and the natural, has been the core subject matter of my photographic oeuvre for more than 15 years.  I was extremely lucky growing up in a beautiful setting such as the Italian Alps in summers, and being able to look at great artworks in Italy, fresco cycles being amongst my favorites.  The “Thickets” series represents a kind of “all over” photography, relating to Pollack’s drip paintings and abstract-expressionism as a whole, and the notion of “all over painting”.  The “Italian Gardens” were inspired more from early Renaissance painting were perspective was just being figured out and has a similar look and feel to the inherent flatness of a photograph, specifically in artists such as Masaccio, Piero della Francesca and even from Giotto, who painted a century earlier.

How did Italy’s crumbling Colosseum and the Italian billionaire (Diego Della Valle) who’s funding its restoration project come about? What intrigued you about this?

The commission from the WSJ came about through the gallery that represents my work, The Sonnabend Gallery in New York.  There was interest shown in my photography because of my concentration in photographing gardens, villas and ruins in Rome over these last years.  The idea of photographing the Coliseum made me happy and stirred up excitement within me, though the prospect of making a portrait of Diego Della Valle was intriguing mostly because the vast majority of the portraiture that I have done over the years is of my family, my wife and my young daughter.  The whole thing became a challenge, shooting digitally, which is not what I normally do, and having time constraints which is something that I’m not used to.   With my own work, I still shoot film and use a view camera, which allows me to utilize the inherent camera movements that come in very handy in certain cases of fine focus and depth of field.  It would have been much more difficult to shoot a portrait with a 4 x5”, so I shot with a DSLR and a medium format digital camera.

What are you considerations when executing this type of work?  Did you propose this project to the magazine or did they reach out to you?

Diego was extremely friendly and generous with his time.  We basically started down in the Coliseum, in the cavernous ground level maze of tunnels and passages used to keep animals and the other players who performed on the stage of the Coliseum just above us.  We moved to the top level of the edifice and that is where I ended up getting the best shot of Diego, used in the magazine.  The project was not something that I had considered bringing to the WSJ personally, not really knowing that this is something to consider, though in hindsight, it worked out beautifully and opened a door to editorial photography.  I fully enjoyed the experience, and have a greater understanding of the technical challenges inherent in this type of project, along with the logistical problematic such as the trip from New York to Rome.

ABronxSnow Untitled Phone Pic V

Untitled Phone Pic IV Untitled Phone Pic III Untitled Phone Pic II

Your work is so dramatic and refined, how do you feel about the quickness of imagery floating about today. Can you share some of your more personal work from your iphone and your thoughts on the brevity of images these days.
Do you enjoy instagram?

For many years, I shied away from digital capture, believing that it was not true photography,  but was forced to learn it when ektachrome was discontinued and reproducing artwork  (painting and sculpture) had to be done digitally.  What has really intrigued me is phone photography, the immediacy and quality of the image and the ability under the proper circumstances to make a decent 8 x 10” photo.  I have come to fully embrace the digital medium, learning Photoshop in the process and being able to use this brilliant new tool, which I believe is one of the greatest inventions in photography.

You can see the complete WSJ story here