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

- - The Daily Edit

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Built on Toil

Designer: Liron Kormas, Kormas Studio

Dancers: Joffrey Ballet School

Photographer: Angela Cappetta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getty Images Are Now Free For Online Editorial Use

- - Stock, Working

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

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

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

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

Roger Fenton Crimean War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calvary camp, looking towards Kadikoi

Calvary camp, looking towards Kadikoi

Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Burghersh, C.B.

Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Burghersh, C.B.

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

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

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

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

Ismail Pacha on horseback, with Turkish officers

Ismail Pacha on horseback, with Turkish officers

Zoave and officer of the Saphis

Zoave and officer of the Saphis

Cornet Wilkin, 11th Hussars

Cornet Wilkin, 11th Hussars

Balaklava, from Guard's Hill

Balaklava, from Guard’s Hill

Lieutenant Yates, 11th Hussars

Lieutenant Yates, 11th Hussars

The valley of the shadow of death

The valley of the shadow of death

Art Producers Speak: Topher Cox

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

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

Mike Stoddard.  Rodeo series

Mike Stoddard. Rodeo series

Personal work

Personal work

Philips Healthcare.  All actors

Philips Healthcare. All actors

Alex S.

Alex S.

Cut Flowers

Cut Flowers

Black Angels Project

Black Angels Project

Charlie Vagabond, Skater, Travler

Charlie Vagabond, Skater, Travler

Philips Healthcare, All Actors

Philips Healthcare, All Actors

Philips Healthcare, All Actors

Philips Healthcare, All Actors

Playball Foundation, MMB

Playball Foundation, MMB

Wilnor Tereau, Haitian Footballer

Wilnor Tereau, Haitian Footballer

Welder, Maine, Bangor Savings Bank

Welder, Maine, Bangor Savings Bank

Cybex International

Cybex International

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

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

How many years have you been in business?

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

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

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How often are you shooting new work?

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

——————-

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

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

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

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

The Daily Edit- Backstage Magazine: Stephanie Diani

- - The Daily Edit

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Backstage

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

Heidi: How often do you work with Backstage?
Stephanie: The creative director of Backstage, Rob Wilson, and I have worked together on a number of shoots in the last few months and he emailed me with several possible opportunities for cover projects in early January. Gillian’s cover was set for my first free day so we confirmed the shoot date a week or two before talking about concepts.
Rob is awesome in that he encourages me to do my thing, but gives me enough direction that I have a starting point or a vibe for the story. I will generally browse through my file of “I want to shoot this” images and send him a half dozen ideas and we’ll narrow it down from there.
I was pleased that of the three images I liked most, two were selected for print. Here’s the outtake:
-3
What sort of art direction did you get?
The first direction he suggested was bright and poppy so, after researching Gillian a bit and getting an idea of how she might photograph best, I sent him some high key portraits samples with bright wardrobe and soft light; a few were shot against vintage-y colorful patterned wallpaper. In all of the lookbook images, however, wardrobe played a vital role and, as there wasn’t budget for a stylist, he suggested we change direction and go for a simple George Hurrell/old Hollywood style that would be more dependent upon lighting and hair and makeup.
I’m a fan of noir films, and I’d been wanting to shoot something moody with one or two lights and a fresnel spot, so it was an easy yes for me. We traded photographs of Judy Garland, Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich and he ironed out the when and where (the Backstage magazine studio, aka conference room) with Ms. Jacob’s agent and publicist.

 

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

This Week In Photography Books: John Divola

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

C’est la vie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line: Excellent exhibition catalogue, very cool work

To Purchase “As Far as I Could Get” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

Art Producers Speak: Vytautas Serys

- - Art Producers Speak

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Sunscarf" - soft tones in Antelope Canyon, USA

“Sunscarf” – soft tones in Antelope Canyon, USA

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

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

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

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

"Man and Sea" - Atlantic coast in Portugal

“Man and Sea” – Atlantic coast in Portugal

"Majestic" - grandness of nature in Iceland

“Majestic” – grandness of nature in Iceland

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Blue Eyed" - playful blossoms in Lithuania

“Blue Eyed” – playful blossoms in Lithuania

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

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

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

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

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

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

How many years have you been in business?

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

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?

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

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

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

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How often are you shooting new work?

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

———–

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

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

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

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

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

Jason Langer Interview

- - Photographers, Workshops

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

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

JB: You were seven?

JL: Yeah.

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

JL: I would say.

JB: So it doesn’t matter at all.

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

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

JL: Well, I was doing that too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Langer_Figure no. 186, 2009

Langer_Figure no. 253, 2011

Langer_Go-Go Girl, 1994

Langer_Moonrise Over Montmartre, 2002

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JB: Doesn’t get any bigger.

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

Does that answer your question?

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

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

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

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

I try to balance both.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you want people to get from your pictures?

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

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

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

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

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

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

JL: Yes.

JB: Did you think it was funny?

JL: Not really.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JB: I would think.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SFPW_APhotoEditor_Jan2014

The Weekly Edit – Zach Gross: The New Yorker

- - The Daily Edit

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The New Yorker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Expert Advice: Estimate Worksheet

- - Expert Advice

By Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This Week In Photography Books: Henry Wessel

by Jonathan Blaustein

Despite what you might have heard, I’m not a real Buddhist. (I just admire many of the precepts.) When it comes to meditation, I’m lazier than I’d like, but do find it very helpful for managing stress.

Walking meditation is a practice I’ve never gotten the hang of, as my mind races whenever I’m out and about. But put a camera in my hand, and it all makes sense. Life slows down, and the pleasure of observation can be overwhelming.

I make my work in the studio these days, but can easily remember the joy that street photography brings. It’s almost intoxicating. Strike the almost.

We often hear people say that reality is stranger and fiction, and I’m not sure I agree. Most good fiction is based upon reality. They’re jealous twins, rather than the type that finish each other’s sentences.

Look around, and you’ll notice some strange shit, no matter where you are. Endless cornfields in the Mid-West might seem boring to a native, but take an urbanite out there, and the miles of rows look like the Roman army.

Drop a devout teetotaler into a seedy dive bar on the Lower East Side, and I’m sure they’d make reference to the nether regions of Hades. (Do they still have dive bars down there, or has everything been gentrified into a fake-speakeasy?)

Where am I going with this? If one looks hard enough, and shoots the proper ratio of frames, the genius of poetic moments will emerge from the patternless chaos. It’s a fact, and probably not one that will ruffle your feathers. (As you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t already have a passion for the lens-based arts.)

That said, I don’t often espouse the tired cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The proof is that this is something like my hundred and thirtieth column, and it’s only just come up. Why, you ask?

Because I’ve just put down the sublime and perfectly titled “Incidents,” by the under-appreciated New Topographics badass Henry Wessel. The slim, periwinkle hard-cover book was recently published by Steidl, and of course, they are known for good taste.

This book has no words. No titles. No essay. No explication whatsoever. Just the artist’s name.

While in lesser hands, that might seem arrogant, here, it proves the tired maxim I stated three paragraphs ago. (And the earlier one about reality and fiction too.)

Within, we see a set of black and white photographs that were clearly taken in California in the 70’s and perhaps early 80’s. That’s a conclusion any educated American viewer would reach. They are uniformly excellent pictures, and only two lack the human narrative.

Many were taken from a moving car, and one from the inside of a public bus. Those photos use the interior structure as an excellent framing device, as Lee Friedlander would come to do in his 21st Century “America by Car.” (If not earlier. If he did, I’m sure someone will correct me.)

This book is all about the quiet drama of insignificant moments, plucked from the space time continuum and frozen forever in celluloid. In that respect, it’s about as idealistic a book as you’re likely to come across, and one I’d heartily recommend.

As there are not so many images within, I’ve politely decided not to photograph them all. But we do see things that force us to stop and look carefully. A woman enters Harry’s Bar, maybe the most overused bar name of all, and she wears a jacket with the establishment’s name on the back. (Lean in, and you see it’s in Pismo Beach.)

A nudie bar has an official looking sign on its door: an application for a theater license. Through the car window, we see one boy astride another, seconds away from pummeling him. (Been there.)

What else? Some muscleheads shop for sunglasses on what is surely Venice Beach. Two young people lean against a wall, dressed for the sun, but above them we see a Christmas decoration.

The geometry of the constructed environment is ubiquitous, in fences, buildings, tennis courts, you name it. And then it all closes with a very poignant moment, as a young woman raises her skirt to show off a bruise. How did it get there? (You’re bound to wonder.)

OK. That’s enough of my wordy blabber. (Ironically about a wordless book.) Somehow, this is the first time I’ve written about Mr. Wessel’s work. Let’s hope it’s not the last.

Bottom Line: Beautiful, spare book that reminds us why we love photography

To Purchase “Incidents” 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: Greg Funnell

- - 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 Greg Funnell, who I think has great skill in keeping things looking fresh and enticing, be it through his commercial or journalistic work.

This was shot as part of a travel commission I did for a UK airline – it involved shooting a story on local surf spots in Morocco.

This was shot as part of a travel commission I did for a UK airline – it involved shooting a story on local surf spots in Morocco.

Havana, Cuba. This was from a personal story I did in Cuba a few years ago on the 50th anniversary of the revolution.

Havana, Cuba. This was from a personal story I did in Cuba a few years ago on the 50th anniversary of the revolution.

This was an outtake from an assignment I had following round the US punk band Cerebral Ballzy as they terrorized central London with their skateboards.

This was an outtake from an assignment I had following round the US punk band Cerebral Ballzy as they terrorized central London with their skateboards.

Shot again for an airline magazine – this time in Turkey, it was a fantastic assignment with enough time to really get stuck in and create a great set of images for the client.

Shot again for an airline magazine – this time in Turkey, it was a fantastic assignment with enough time to really get stuck in and create a great set of images for the client.

This was an editorial assignment documenting a surfer who was taking part in a cold water surfing competition in Thurso, Scotland.

This was an editorial assignment documenting a surfer who was taking part in a cold water surfing competition in Thurso, Scotland.

This was shot for the Red Bulletin, the magazine published by Red Bull. I photographed the BMX rider Kris Kyle up in Glasgow. This was an instant where I shot something for myself (the Polaroid shots) alongside what the client wanted, and ended up loving it and running it themselves.

This was shot for the Red Bulletin, the magazine published by Red Bull. I photographed the BMX rider Kris Kyle up in Glasgow. This was an instant where I shot something for myself (the Polaroid shots) alongside what the client wanted, and ended up loving it and running it themselves.

This a portrait of the rapper Nas. One of those situations where you’ve got 2 minutes to get the shot and subject who doesn’t want to play ball. I shot it in available light back stage – amazingly it was good enough quality to run on the cover of the magazine.

This a portrait of the rapper Nas. One of those situations where you’ve got 2 minutes to get the shot and subject who doesn’t want to play ball. I shot it in available light back stage – amazingly it was good enough quality to run on the cover of the magazine.

From the project “Las Vegas: The underbelly of the American Dream” that I shot as a collaboration with the photographer Adam Patterson. This couple Ned and D, lived in the storm drains underneath the city itself.

From the project “Las Vegas: The underbelly of the American Dream” that I shot as a collaboration with the photographer Adam Patterson. This couple Ned and D, lived in the storm drains underneath the city itself.

This was photo accompanying a short film I shot and produced for an NGO in Malawi last year.

This was photo accompanying a short film I shot and produced for an NGO in Malawi last year.

Street scene, Rajasthan, India. This image is a one from my widelux project that I’m hoping to publish in the near future.

Street scene, Rajasthan, India. This image is a one from my widelux project that I’m hoping to publish in the near future.

How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been going now for about 8 years

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I’m self taught. At university I studied History and War Studies (Kings College London). But I think I knew from day one that when I finished I was going to try and make it in photography I just had no idea how. For a couple of years previous to going to university I’d been an avid user of my schools forgotten darkroom. My interest in drawing, painting and all things visual had led me naturally into photography when I was about 16. From the moment I saw my first image appear in the developer I think I was hooked.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
When I was in my teens I worked part-time in the local library. I came across Don McCullin’s work from Vietnam and it opened a whole new world to me. It matched two of my passions, history and photography, and I was blown away by how much the still image could effect and fascinate me. I started collecting photography books and devoured as much as I could. At this time my main influencers were photojournalists, people like Alex Webb, David Alan Harvey, Larry Towell etc. And even though my visual references have opened up I still think you can see the photojournalist influence in my work – the need to be close to the subject, to try and get the viewer really immersed in the subject. This has worked really well for my commercial work in the travel and lifestyle industries because I think it brings an intimacy and intensity to my images.

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’m a keen user of Instagram (@gregfunnell), I keep a blog (www.focus52.blogspot.com) and I use tumblr (www.gregfunnell.tumblr.com). These all help to encourage me to be continually shooting and generating content on a daily basis. But I’m constantly planning or thinking about longer terms projects or ideas. I’ve just secured my first studio and I’m quite excited about testing again more regularly and also just having a space to invite people into. I never grow tired of shooting portraits.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
It’s always a delicate balance on jobs. I find the creatives I’ve worked with for the longest generally trust me to do my thing and get the job done – I think I’m seen as a safe pair of hands and one that that client will easily be able to get along with. I feel sorry for the creatives when they get stuck in the middle with difficult clients. From my end I try and keep the client as sweet and (if it’s possible) shoot both what they want and my spin on it so that they have the choice. It’s always about trying to find the middle ground but without compromising too much.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I tend to shoot editorial commissions mostly – there are a few magazines that I just love working for as they really allow me a lot of creative freedom. I’m also aiming to do more self-publishing this year – I’m just waiting to find the right designer to collaborate with.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
You have to shoot for yourself – don’t try and be what others want you to be. There’s obviously something to be said for being savvy about what’s popular, but ultimately you need to be producing work that you believe in and that shows your vision.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I try put aside time each year to go off and shoot my own thing. I think you have to be making time to you shoot solely for yourself, you have to believe in the work first in order for others to also believe in it. I’m currently shooting some personal work with a camera called a Widelux, which is swing lens film camera, I’m doing it purely for my own creative need but I hope to continue shooting this as long term project, and it’s slowly starting to generate interest which is nice.

All that being said I did work on a collaboration with another photographer a couple of years ago on a story in Las Vegas on the subject of the American Dream. That was really exciting, and it helped that he was a good mate of mine. We have a similar vision but we each bought something to the table. Some people didn’t get it – and kept asking ‘who took this picture’ – they couldn’t understand when we responded that we weren’t sure or couldn’t remember. Our vision was in such unison that the work held together really well – and I think that’s rare. I’d love to give that another go and shoot another series somewhere in the US.

How often are you shooting new work?
I’m generally shooting a couple of times a week, mainly on assignments. My aim this year though is to force myself to step away from my desk more often and be shooting more side projects.

Greg studied History and War Studies at Kings College London before moving into photography. He’s since spent the last 8 years working for titles that include The Sunday Times Magazine, The Guardian, Financial Times Magazine and the Washington Post. Shooting everything from commissioned celebrity portraits, to travel assignments and in-depth documentary features. He also works with NGOs on development projects in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America for the likes of Save the Children, ActionAid and WWF. Alongside this he also works in the commercial and advertising sector producing content for clients on international campaigns, especially in the travel, lifestyle and adventure industries.

Although primarily known for his photography he also increasingly gets asked to work with moving imagery, having directed and produced work for NGOs, corporate and commercial clients.

When he’s not producing content he guest lectures at Universities across the UK.

You can find him on twitter and instagram @gregfunnell

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 – Cover Trends

- - The Daily Edit

-1

Cosmopolitan

Creative Director: Stuart Selner
Art Director: Victoria Horn
Temporary Art Director: Angela Lamb
Picture Editor: Joan McCrea
Assistant Picture Editor: Gemma Roberts
Photographer: Peter Pedonomou

 

-2

V Magazine

No Masthead available
Photographer: Mario Testino

 

-3Allure

Creative Director: Paul Cavaco
Design Director: Deanna Filippo
Photography: Nadine McCarthy
Photography Editor: Holly Watson
Photographer: Mario Testino

 

I thought I’d take a look at what the body language may be saying in these three covers.  It’s sorta looks like evaluation, interest and a little bit of flirt.

According to Psychology Today the parts of your face that reflect how you feel are called “display rules.”  The tiniest movements around your eyes, face and mouth are referred to as “micro expressions.” Along with expressions and rules, body language or kinesics reveal one’s emotional state.

Kinesics is the study and interpretation of non-verbal behavior related to the movement of the body and face. These movements convey many specific meanings that can be linked to personal, situational and or cultural norms.

So, what do all these hands near the face mean? and what messages do they send to potential viewers?
Here’s what I turned up:

1. Miley Cryus wants you to know she’s sexy.
When a woman caresses her lips, neck, or collarbones, she’s sending  a signal of interest.  This is commonly a subconscious way of drawing your attention to these areas, reminding the onlooker she’s sexy.

2. Is Winona Ryder evaluating her success?
Chin resting on thumb, index finger pointing up against face translates into evaluation. This is a more reliable signal of evaluation than the full hand support, the middle finger commonly rests horizontally between the chin and lower lip.

3. Is Penelope is genuinely interested?
Interested gesture is shown by a closed hand resting on the cheek, often with the index finger pointing upwards. Should the person begin to lose interest but wish to appear interested, for courtesy’s sake, the position will alter slightly so that the heel of the palm supports the head.

This Week In Photography Books: Jacques Henri Lartigue

by Jonathan Blaustein

The Winter Olympics are in full swing at the moment. Do you care? Are you watching? Probably not.

I make that assumption because most artsy, creative types don’t bother with sports. It’s too normal. Too suburban.

As to the Olympics, it doesn’t mean much to me. Except the TV does seem to find its way to NBC each night, if only for a few minutes. They’re so good at hooking you, with the carefully edited backstories, replete with string accompaniment.

You think it’s just a schmaltzy production, and then a couple of ridiculously tough female skiers share a gold medal and jump around like frogs in a hot pan. Did you see that downhill course? It was nastier than Vlad Putin’s temper.

Similarly, we published an interview with Jeff Lipsky this week, in which we spent a great deal of time talking about skiing and snowboarding. (Probably too much time for some of you.) It might have seemed random, but there was a method to my madness.

Jeff described what he does, as a photographer, to put his celebrity subjects at ease. He shared how he chats with them, in a relaxed manner, about a point of connection. And that’s exactly what I was doing with him. I tried to make him comfortable by talking about something we had in common.

Eventually, we got to the subject of photography. Surprisingly, Jeff admitted to daydreaming about snowboarding, as a way of taking a mental breather when things get too stressful on set. So my gambit made sense in the end. You might say I got lucky. (Or perhaps you just skipped straight to the shop talk, as is your prerogative.)

Let’s face it. Sports and art normally don’t mix. The athletes are the cool kids, popular and fit. The artsy types wear glasses, smoke cigarettes, and generally keep to themselves. Right? That’s the perfect John Hughes stereotypical version, anyway.

Luckily, I figured out a way to inject a bit of jockdom into our weekly mix. But you’re guaranteed to like it. I swear. It won’t seem threatening in the least.

How can I be so sure? Because I’ve spent some time with a new book called “A Sporting Life,” by French legend Jacques Henri Lartigue, published by Actes Sud and Hermes. Who doesn’t love old-school black and white photographs by a master? No one. That’s who.

So I’ve got you on a technicality. The skis depicted look like antennas on a big alien’s head. If one of these dead Frenchmen came back to life and glimpsed a carbon-fiber-shaped-ski circa 2014, he’d probably assume it was a sculpture made by Marcel Duchamp.

There are equestrian images, biplanes, tennis, golf, gymnastics, hang-gliders, car racing, shot-putting, diving, boating, swimming, cycling, and, of course, a woman named Coco. The full-bleed image of a tight-curve-dirt-road in the 1928 Tour de France blew my mind, as it made the blood-doping-Lance Armstrong years seem so futuristic.

The technology is old school, true, but the vision is fresh. It might not make you pine for a five-hour-Olympics marathon, during which you scarf chicken wings and pizza while quaffing six steins of beer. Or it might.

But I’m sure you’ll enjoy the photos below. You must. If not, I hereby declare you less than human.

Bottom Line: A very cool book of nearly-ancient sports photos

To Purchase “A Sporting Life” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

Art Producers Speak: Dustin Chambers

- - 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 Dustin Chambers. This kid is legit. Slowly getting more and more National work.  Love to see him get some press.

A woman's disguise photographed at a carnival.

A woman’s disguise photographed at a carnival.

The silhouette of a blow up doll floats above the crowd at a music festival in Texas.

The silhouette of a blow up doll floats above the crowd at a music festival in Texas.

A roll of paper towels sits on the wall in a bathroom in Texas.

A roll of paper towels sits on the wall in a bathroom in Texas.

Children play in a lake during a hot air balloon festival.

Children play in a lake during a hot air balloon festival.

A woman sleeps on the B train on an early, rainy morning in Chinatown, New York City.

A woman sleeps on the B train on an early, rainy morning in Chinatown, New York City.

A woman opens a window on the set of a music video.

A woman opens a window on the set of a music video.

An empty swimming pool on the fringe of the Las Vegas Strip.

An empty swimming pool on the fringe of the Las Vegas Strip.

A man dressed as a bunny stands outside at Frolicon, a BDSM/erotica convention.

A man dressed as a bunny stands outside at Frolicon, a BDSM/erotica convention.

A woman gets her hair dyed at the Bronner Brothers Hair Care Convention.

A woman gets her hair dyed at the Bronner Brothers Hair Care Convention.

A troupe of ballerinas wait for the curtain to rise before their first dance recital.

A troupe of ballerinas wait for the curtain to rise before their first dance recital.

How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been shooting professionally since I got out of school, so since 2009.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I am self-taught, I studied film as an English concentration and minored in French.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
My father was an advertising photographer, so growing up I spent many afternoons after school in his studio. I didn’t really pick up a still camera until high school. I remember being taken by the work of Bresson and Arbus from a young age.

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’m still figuring that out. Life feels non-stop a lot of the time, so I’m just evolving with the work I do and hoping my photography gets better in that process. There are a lot of photographs I’d like to make, but ultimately I make photographs that I’m moved to make and hope for the best.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I work mainly with newspaper and editorial work, which is creatively a little more free. They hire you to do what you do in relation to the rest of the world. There’s no art director, no stylist, it’s just you. Ideally you work with creatives who can turn into clients.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Even learning to think of myself as an artist has been a big step. This year I’ll be one of 12 artists in Dashboard Co-Op in Atlanta, as well as showing work in the Art Papers auction. I also participated in a Flash Powder retreat where I learned a ton about the fine art side of the business.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
I guess that’s good as long as you’re staying true to your vision.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Not recently, no. It’s hard!  But I’m also on staff at Creative Loafing, an alt-weekly in Atlanta, that allows me to shoot my art for their stories, which is really a blessing. I do find that I am most prodding and curious and inspired when I’m somewhere out of my element, away from my city. It doesn’t have to be some fantastic journey across the seas, but if I drove to Florida or Mobile, Alabama, I’d certainly be more taken with more mundane stuff, as I tend to be.

How often are you shooting new work?
Every week for the paper or freelance. For myself solely? Rarely. Every month maybe.

Dustin Chambers is a editorial and documentary photography born, raised, and living in Atlanta, GA. He is a staff photographer at Creative Loafing, Atlanta’s alt-weekly paper, and has freelanced for New York Times, LA Times, AARP, and Chronicle for Higher Education, among others. He loves the American South and the odd cultural dichotomy that exists particularly in Atlanta.

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.

 

Jeff Lipsky Interview

- - Photographers
Jon Hamm

Jon Hamm

Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Zac Efron

Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Zac Efron

Kelly Slater

Kelly Slater

Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington

Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana

Ellen Page

Ellen Page

Jonathan Blaustein: I was ready to begin this interview the way I typically do, by asking some questions about how you came to photography. But in my last bit of research, I noticed that you had actually done an interview like that for APE in the summer of 2012.

Jeff Lipsky: Yes, I taught at Chris Orwig’s class at Brooks, and he did a little piece on me which was really nice.

JB: But I didn’t know that until six minutes ago.

JL: Oh.

JB: That means I’m up shit’s creek, because I can’t ask those questions, since you already answered them.

JL: (Massive pause.) Well…

JB: I don’t know what to do. I can’t ask you how you got into photography if we already published that.

JL: (Another massive pause.) That is interesting.

JB: We’re screwed, man. (laughing.) Listen, this is my thing. I’m just joking around. I’m not serious at all.

JL: (laughing.)

JB: Right. Now you’re with me. I was just messing around. The point was simply that we appreciate that you’re doing another interview, but we’ll have to take this one in a different direction. Otherwise, I become the laziest journalist in the history of mankind.

JL: Right. And my saying is, anyone can take a great picture or write something great under perfect circumstances. But when you’re thrown a curve ball at the last minute, like every photo shoot you do, it’s what you make out of it that counts.

JB: You, and the entirety of our audience will now be judging me harshly to see how I do. Can I hit the curveball? Because we now know the Denver Broncos’ center can’t hit the curve.

JL: Obviously.

JB: Obviously.

JL: I was on an airplane during the Superbowl, so I missed the entire game. I guess that was just as good.

JB: You know what you’re supposed to do next time then, right?

JL: Yes.

JB: Fly Jet Blue.

JL: Fly Jet Blue. That’s right.

JB: It would have solved your problem. Taking a look at your previous APE interview, as well as your website, it says that you were a, I don’t want to say ski bum, let’s say you were lifestyle skier in Telluride, Colorado for ten years. Is that right?

JL: You’re the first person to say that. A lifestyle skier. I love that. I’m going to use it.

JB: Feel free. I just made it up. It seemed more politically correct.

JL: It is very good.

JB: So you were there for a decade?

JL: A decade.

JB: With all the mountain towns in the US, what did you love so much about Telluride?

JL: I believe it is one of the best ski resorts in the world, as far as terrain goes. It produces great skiers, and I wanted to become a great skier/snowboarder at the time. Also, it’s one of the few ski areas in the world where the ski lifts go right into town. The town is not separated from the resort.

It’s a real town. It’s not like you’re living in a resort. People living there do normal things, and there happens to be a ski resort there.

It’s the most beautiful place in the world, too, as far as I’m concerned. Without a doubt.

JB: Without a doubt?

JL: Without a doubt.

JB: I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I’m conducting this interview from the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Taos, New Mexico.

JL: (laughing.) Taos is pretty close. It’s very similar.

JB: Right. But if you’re going to say “the most beautiful” and “the best” to someone like me, it’s going to get my back up a bit and force me to challenge you on some of those assumptions.

JL: {Taos Ski Valley Founder} Ernie Blake made it so I couldn’t snowboard at your mountain.

JB: He did. It’s true.

JL: So Telluride is number 1 for me.

JB: I don’t know if you heard, but Taos Ski Valley recently sold to a conservationist, hedge fund billionaire. Around here, I think the general consensus is that Ernie Blake built the ski valley, but also doomed it by locking out the snowboarders for 20 years. It was inevitable we would decline, after that decision.

JL: I think that they should have remained snowboard free. I just love that certain ski resorts hold their integrity. Even though I’m a snowboarder, I do think snowboarding sometimes brings down the integrity of skiing, because skiing is such a nostalgic sport for me.

JB: Well, we did give up our integrity, and I’m suggesting that it happened too late. We’re now hoping that this guy Louis Bacon’s billions will fluff up the place, because the terrain is amazing, but our resort stopped taking care of itself in the early 90’s, and that was quite a while ago.

JL: This is a big deal. It’s going to be a big resurgence for Taos.

JB: Indeed. I’m telling my friends with money, which is a very short list, that Taos real estate a really good buy right now. We’re pretty much guaranteed to ascend.

All those people out there who don’t ski or snowboard are probably asking when the hell these guys are going to talk about photography. Right?

JL: Right.

JB: But I didn’t really have a choice. Once I couldn’t ask questions about how you got started at Smashbox studios in LA, I was in a bit of a pickle.

Let’s just jump ahead. You live in Venice, and you shoot predominantly in LA.

JL: I live in the Palisades now, and I have three kids. I still have my connection with Venice, though. It got to be too much for me. Venice is a little spoiled.

JB: I heard that.

JL: I moved my production office to Main St in Santa Monica. I just love it.

JB: Do you surf?

JL: I do surf, but not enough to call myself a surfer. I photograph the surf world all the time, and am often with the biggest surfers in the world, shooting their portraits. But I’m not allowed to say I’m a surfer, because my assistants are huge surfers, and they know I don’t really surf.

I can’t walk the walk.

JB: You don’t surf well enough to use that noun to describe yourself.

JL: When I’m with them, I don’t even admit that I surf.

JB: But if you took them to Telluride, with all that vertical, they might struggle.

JL: They would. I know so. I was with Jerry Lopez when he came to Telluride to go snowboarding, and all these great surfers. I had them on the snow, which was really nice.

JB: Is that a part of your street cred with those guys, that you can handle yourself in the mountains? Because you’re an outdoor enthusiast, do they have more respect for you?

JL: I think so. Definitely.

JB: There’s a comfort level that translates into the photography?

JL: Yes. Exactly. Every once in a while, I do get a chance to incorporate my snowboarding or my flyfishing in photography. I’m not really an action sports photographer, though. I’m more labeled a lifestyle celebrity photographer.

Sometimes, I’m able to go on these great adventures. Eddie Bauer was a really good fit for me. Roxie was a good fit too. Shooting surfers on the beach for Outside Magazine. It’s an environment that I’m used to.

I just shot Olympic snowboarders for this Olympic package in Breckenridge, and one of the Dads and I had twenty mutual friends, because they were from Steamboat. It’s always nice to have a connection. You’re looking for that one degree of separation.

JB: Which is maybe not such a hidden secret anymore? How much the personal connection enables the photography to get going in the first place?

JL: Oh yeah. You look for a connection. That’s the number one thing.

JB: You dropped the c-word earlier. Celebrity. That’s the equivalent of you saying Beetlejuice. It opens the door for me. I know our audience is far more educated than your average bear, as far as understanding how photography works.

But anyone who goes to your website will be immediately overwhelmed by the collection of star power that has stood on the other side of your lens. Anybody would have a little Hollywood envy. So we kind of have to talk about it a little bit, if you don’t mind.

JL: When in Rome.

JB: I just didn’t know if you were the equivalent of a lawyer, and part of being able to do this work was there was some kind of photographer/client privilege. I was worried you wouldn’t be able to share some stories.

JL: Oh no. That’s the whole point of my workshop that I’m going to teach at the Santa Fe Workshops. I say how it is. I literally describe the whole process of shooting anyone. Whether it’s a celebrity, or an advertising shoot.

JB: I was curious about the real world charisma of some of these people. The first link on your site is to celebrity men, and you open with pictures of Jon Hamm, Ryan Reynolds, James Mardsen. These super-handsome movie stars. You’ve got some old school guys thrown in there, like Dustin Hoffman.

How much of inherent charisma is dripping off of them when they walk in the door?

JL: It’s interesting. A lot of actors, they obviously have “it,” but a lot of them don’t necessarily have “it” for a stills camera. They’re used to being in front of a moving camera. When they have to stand in front of a stagnant camera and look into the lens, it’s actually awkward for them.

The ones that are pros, and have been doing it for a long time, obviously, are used to it. But they don’t necessarily like it.

Most actors, I believe, don’t like being photographed. When they’re acting, they’re doing their skill. When they’re in front of a stills camera, it’s not necessarily what they want to be doing. In fact, my job is to make it as pleasurable and easy for them as possible.

I’m usually done shooting them before they think they’re going to be done. And I keep them moving around as much as possible. I’ll never have anyone standing around on a set for more than 10 minutes. Then I’ll have another set or scenario where I’ll put them.

It’s always moving and changing. We also play amazing music. Half the time we’re talking, keeping them entertained and amused. So we’re always goofing around.

JB: You’re describing it like they’re going to the dentist office. And you’re in character. Not them.

JL: Sometimes it’s like that. There might be 50 people on set, and all this commotion. But I’ll break it down to be as intimate as possible, and have the fewest people around me when I’m shooting.

Basically, it’s a closed set. That way, there’s one-on-oneness. Or, if I’m not connecting with someone, I might have my first assistant try connecting with them. He’ll be standing right there, and we’ll just chat, and try to include the celebrity in the conversation.

We make it so they’re there hanging out with us. Like, “Hey, what song do you want to hear next?” And I’m firing away at the camera. When I’m done, I want them to say, “That was a pleasure. That was so much fun. I didn’t feel like I was on a photo shoot. That was great.”

That’s what I like.

JB: You’re basically talking about people skills. Which is an open secret among professionals.

JL: To me, you already have to have your skills down as a photographer. It’s already known that you know how to take a picture.

I know my lighting. I’m very technical. I’ve already scouted the location I’m going to be at. I know what time the light is coming, if I’m shooting ambient, which is my preference.

I know exactly what time the sun is going to come through which window. I know what diffuser I’m going to put in front of that window. I know everything about it.

If it’s cloudy, I know which lighting package I’ll use. I know what cameras, what lenses. I already have these things in place, and a fantastic crew.

That’s a given, that you have that skill. And then, when you’re with a celebrity, you have to turn that off. You know you’re prepared, so you just have to be yourself. Be personable. You have to show a certain ease.

You want it to seem easy and effortless. In fact, it’s not, with weeks or months of preparation for that twenty minute shoot. You have to let it go. You know you have everything in place, and you just do it.

That doesn’t make sense, does it?

JB: It does. And it actually helps lead up to where I was headed, especially as you so carefully dodged my attempt to get you to squeal about anyone in particular.

JL: I’ll squeal. Like Dustin Hoffman, whom I’ve shot many times. The first time I shot him, I said, “Thank you so much for sitting with me, and letting me take your photograph.” He said, “What are you talking about? This is what I do.”

This is what I do. It was so nice that he said that. This is my job, he said. “What do you want me to do, Jeff?”

JB: Wow.

JL: Right. Dustin Hoffman. Then you get some actors who are like, “No. I’m not doing that. Absolutely not. No way. No.” They put you on the spot. I’ve had things happen to me where you just want to shrivel up.

Sometimes, I go to my happy place and go snowboarding in my head.

JB: (laughing.)

JL: I’ll be behind the camera, and my crew will look at me, and I’ll look at them, and they’ll see in my eyes that I’m dropping in on my first turn. Then I come back and re-think the situation.

One time, I was on a big set in New York, shooting a TV show advertisement. There was a cast of five or six, and I was supposed to start with the first actor, so I had it lit for one person. He was a tough actor to shoot.

I’m trying to get the shot right, and there were at least 45 people on set. The creatives are all staring at the monitor, but I didn’t even see it. They were seeing it first, which is really hard.

So someone said, “Put the whole cast in.” So they put the whole cast in, and I went, “Oh my god.” How do you compose all of those people in a scenario you’re not prepared for? I shot a few frames, and I see art directors turning their heads, going, “Ew. No.”

I pretended to look at my viewfinder, and for 30 seconds, I say absolutely nothing. I was drifting away on a powder turn, in a happy place.

JB: Awesome.

JL: Then I had to get up, take a deep breath, re-compose, and say, “OK. Everyone needs to be off the set. I’m going to re-set for one person.” Because you always want to start out taking good pictures, not crappy pictures.

I said, “Let me do what I want to do first. One person. Standing over there. And let’s go.” They said, “Oh. Ah. That looks great.” And then I was ready to put the other people in the shot.

Sometimes, you have to check out for a second and re-group.

JB: You’re talking about gaining the confidence to assert authority. You have to get comfortable enough in your own skin to know how to crack the whip among people who maybe aren’t used to being told what to do. Right?

JL: Oh my god yes. Let’s say I’m going to shoot the cover of a magazine that I’ve shot maybe 15 times before. Sometimes, I’ll get caught with my guard down, and someone will say, “No. I don’t like this light.” Or, “I don’t like the height of your camera.”

I’ve had that happen to me. I have to remind myself, I’ve been doing this for 11 years, and I know what I’m doing. You have to speak up. I’ll say, “You see that truck over there? I have a truck full of equipment to light anything I want. And right now, the light I have on the subject is the perfect light. Trust me. This is what I’ve been doing for a long time.”

JB: Let’s go with one more question about the celebrities, because I admit I’m curious. Do you watch “Mad Men?”

JL: A little bit. Yes.

JB: Well, I’m a season behind, and hopefully no one will spoil it for me, but I’ve always been amazed with Jon Hamm’s performance in the show. I don’t think he gets enough credit for how good he is.

His physicality as an actor is amazing. The way he manipulates his facial muscles and posture as Don Draper, so terribly tense. It’s totally different than when he switches character to Dick Whitman. Everything about the way he holds his jaw, and his cheek muscles. Everything changes. It’s the epitome of art, to watch the physical manifestations of his talent.

I know this is a long question, but because you’ve shot him, I thought you might have some insight into that skill set he has. Maybe he brings it with him to a photo shoot? Or maybe he doesn’t? I was curious about your observations.

JL: The thing about Jon is he can sometimes appear to be goofy. He’s such a good-looking guy, and he is easy to photograph, but he is kind of goofy. Some of the frames I’ll go through, you’ll see the goofiness he has, when you want him to be looking serious.

He’s so playful that in some sense, you’re not getting the frames that you really want. Like the picture on my website, where he’s laying back, in a jacket, looking over at me? We’re watching a World Cup soccer game, and he’s sitting on a bed in a really cool house.

He was talking about the World Cup, so I said, “It’s on right now. Kick back and watch.” He started watching, and I said, “Jon, look over here.” That’s the photo, because he’s so happy he gets to watch a few minutes of the World Cup.

Not that I would normally ever put a TV in front of someone, but it happened to be there.

JB: It says something about your improvisational skills.

JL: That’s why I like that photograph. It’s a fresh, real moment.

JB: Have you seen him literally turn “it” on and off in front of your camera?

JL: Yeah. A lot of people can do that.

JB: I got interested in the idea a few years ago, when I was watching “The American,” a movie that Clooney did. He turned his charisma off, 100%. It was chilling. I didn’t realize until I saw that film how many of these men and women are capable of adjusting their wattage like it’s on a dimmer.

JL: If you can have a choice to shoot someone in or out of character, I’d choose out of character. Because I’m always interested in who they are as a person. It’s easier to shoot someone in character.

JB: How often do you feel like you’re getting a glimpse into a real person, when their job is to obfuscate their personality for a living?

JL: I’m getting them as who they are all the time. I see it. That’s the goal.

But it’s different when you’re shooting a cover of a beauty or women’s magazine. There has to be a certain pose, and a certain look. You’re not necessarily shooting them. You’re shooting a look. That’s what’s so tricky about a cover.

JB: It sounds like a template.

JL: For the covers, yes.

JB: So much of your knowlege has been accrued over time, through experience. Going through the battles, finding your voice as a photographer, and your swagger as an authority figure. The Santa Fe Workshops is sponsoring this interview, and you’re going to be teaching a workshop there in March called “The Editorial Portrait.

How are you able to translate your experience in a workshop environment?

JL: It’s such a pleasure, and so much fun to do. I basically just dictate my approach to photography. I strip down exactly what I do. I don’t have any secrets. I don’t have a special “guru” light, and no one can know what it is.

All my stuff is pretty basic and simple, and I’m an advocate of “Keep it simple, stupid.” That’s what we say all the time. When I go to set, I usually bring the same things. You have a tremendous amount of equipment sometimes, because if something goes wrong, you have it.

I show how simple it is. I go through my photographs, and I simplify the process. I show them a photograph of Sharon Stone on the beach. It looks like beautiful light, and it is, but it’s just a piece of board bouncing into her face. That’s all it is. Nothing else.

JB: But you live, as you said, in Pacific Palisades. I’m guessing you use that golden, gorgeous, California beach light all the time.

JL: You have that, sure. But heck, I was just in Ireland shooting a “Game of Thrones” character, and I didn’t have that light. But I had the same light source that I always travel with. So I created it.

It’s true that in certain advertising situations, you have to have an arsenal. You have to know how to do the lighting, and it does get complicated. But generally, editorially, it’s more about getting the shot.

I keep it very organic, and let my subject know that’s how we do it. They appreciate it. If something’s not right, I won’t shoot it, and I let the subject know I don’t to waste their time.

I do that with my class, in Santa Fe. I teach them that it’s all about keeping your eyes and ears open for everything. I might put a celebrity on a couch, and someone says, “Hey Jeff, did you see that chair that was in the kitchen? It was really cool.” So we’ll go look at the chair. You’ve got to keep your ears open for all suggestions. It’s not a single-minded set. It’s everyone’s set, in a way.

I encourage that teamwork, as it’s very important.

JB: In your workshop, you have people work together like that?

JL: In the workshop, yes. I teach teamwork, and keeping it simple. We go through edits of photographs, they can see the mistakes I made.

JB: We’ve been talking a lot about how when the technical skills even out, the interpersonal skills dominate. That seems like a difficult thing to impart to others. I get that you do it, but I’m wondering a bit more about the specifics.

How do you teach your students how to be charming, and confident and relaxed, all at the same time?

JL: First, you need to be confident in your equipment. And you can only control so many things in your environment, so I teach people how to control the things that you can.

If you have certain things in place, what’s the worst thing that can go wrong? You need to put everything in place so that you can be confident about yourself. You do your due diligence, you’ve investigated who you’re shooting, you know where you’re shooting. You have your equipment that you know very well.

You know, if you don’t have any sun, that this light source works really well. You know that you have certain tricks that you can do. If you know those tricks, and you feel confident in them, you can be relaxed.

You can be yourself, knowing that you have everything in place. That’s the key.

JB: You use proper organizational skills, as much as anything, to mitigate your stress?

JL: Oh yeah. Beyond a doubt. I make sure everything is in place, and I have a team of people. If you don’t have a team, you have to do it yourself.

JB: When you teach your workshop, you’re able to go through the technical aspects of your work, you look at your student’s work, you present these philosophies, and they learn from you, even if they don’t have a truck full of expensive lighting?

JL: Yes. If I want anyone to get anything out of the workshop, it’s that photography is simple. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

When I was an assistant, and I worked in the grip room at Smashbox studios, I’ll never forget this one experience. Mario Testino was shooting the Gucci campaign. It was late at night, and I was loading the docks.

I remember that the campaign was already out, and I’d seen it. So I went into the studios, and I remember thinking, “That light is incredible.” He was doing some re-shoots, and I saw that he just had a single strobe on a C-stand with a reflector pointed toward the wall. That’s all he used for that campaign.

He could have had any piece of equipment, but he was only using that. That’s the day I realized, “That’s all you need. One light.”

I’ve come to that philosophy, if I have one light, and a couple of simple sources, it allows me to move faster. It lets me think on my feet, and change it up when necessary, to get the shot.

Keeping it simple is the hardest thing to do.

JB: So what’s coming up for you in 2014?

JL: I just came back from Kona yesterday, where I shot a portrait of a golfer. I’ve got a lot of great editorial coming out, but when you shoot celebrities, you can’t really promote it before it comes out.

It’s hard with social media, these days. I can’t say, “I’m on set with so and so, shooting so and so for this magazine.” I can’t do that. I have to wait for it to come out, and by then, I think it’s so old. That’s the downfall of shooting mainly celebrities.

JB: Well, I think I’ve got the perfect topical ending. You want to go topical, and keep it easy?

JL: Yeah.

JB: How about Bieber? You shot that kid. People can’t stop talking about him. What do you have to say?

JL: I feel sorry for him. I do. I feel sorry for all those kids that have to grow up in the spotlight.

He’s making mistakes. I don’t like to hate these guys.

JB: Understood.

JL: But I did ask him to give me a little smile, and he said, “I don’t smile.”

JB: (laughing.) There’s our ending right there.

JL: He was a punk. If you really want to know, he was a punk.

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