This Week In Photography Books: IPG Project

by Jonathan Blaustein

My daughter loves pink. (Big surprise.) She’s a 3 year old girl, so it goes with the territory.

Just yesterday, we were in a little market near the mountains. She was wearing pink boots, pink pants, a pink shirt, a pink jacket, and her new pink glasses.

She made quite the impression on her fellow shoppers. One of them even asked, “Do you like pink, by any chance?”

“Yes,” she said. “Pink and purple and blue.”

We associate pink with little girls. With innocence and youth. It’s a happy and flippant color.


Well, that’s what I was thinking when I picked up “Sumimasen,” a new pink book by the IPG project, recently published by Editions du LIC.

Wait, you say. What are you doing? You can’t move on to the book review that quickly. Where’s your unexpected and witty transition? Are you mailing it in because it’s a holiday week? (Thanksgiving, here in the US.)

Fair point. It may seem like I’ve cheated you out of my trademark writerly aikido. And yet…

This week marks the 4th anniversary of the column in which I developed my now-signature style. I still remember the moment when my mother-in-law rapped on our door at night, brandishing a rather large gun, as there were trespassers in our field on Thanksgiving.

Somehow, the drama filtered down into my consciousness, and the next day, this column was born. I respect history, and appreciate that I might not have a job right now, had that gun not scared me shitless.

So do you really think I’m going to mail it in on the Thanksgiving column?

I don’t think so.

But then again, this little pink book is so adorable. With anime-like characters on the cover. So inviting. It makes me think of Hello Kitty, and crayons, and the little Winter stockings my daughter wears to pre-school.

Kittens and daydreams and Candyland!

You know what I don’t think of?

A Hello Kitty-mask-wearing, naked, Japanese porn actress whose entire life is captured on four webcams embedded around her small apartment.

(Dramatic pause.) What now?

That’s right. This cute pink book is actually a weird-as-hell meditation on the way Japanese culture forces people to offer two faces to the world: their true selves, which remain hidden, and the public mask, which shrouds the interior reality.

Let me say it again: What now?

Nothing could be less Thanksgiving-y than this book. It’s got plenty of boobs, and screen shots of lady parts. (As I’ve said 1000 times before, Boobs Sell Books℠) Yes, this is nobody’s idea of a children’s book.

(This is Mayura. Hi Mayura. See Mayura make breakfast. See Mayura clean the dishes. See Mayura masturbate with her large and intimidating vibrator.)

Normally, if I showed an edgy book like this, you’d just roll your eyes and say, “Blaustein’s keeping it real today.” But on Thanksgiving, it has to be more than that.

Let’s just say I wanted to bring the rhetoric down a notch from last week’s impassioned screed. True. But in this time of global strife, I think it’s always good to be reminded that the weird shit is what separates us from the Apes.

Anyone can put on a suit every day, punch the clock, make the donuts, and then drink away their misery in a big bottle of vodka. That’s called life. (For too many people.)

So this week, while you’re eating obscene amounts of turkey, laughing at your uncle’s inappropriate jokes, and restraining yourself from killing your obnoxious younger brother, remember this odd little pink book.

Because if this bit of naughty Japanese insanity can’t help you lighten up, maybe nothing can?

Bottom Line: Pornographic Japanese book in a nice little package

To Purchase “Sumimasen” Visit Photo-Eye

















The Daily Edit – Cameron Davidson : New York City Aerials

- - The Daily Edit



Early evening aerial view of Times Square in the Manhattan, New York City.

CD_2014_0601_NYC_0080 copy




Aerial of the Williamsburg Bridge in the early morning, New York City, New York, USA


Aerial of Manhattan, New York City GPS DATA of shot location. LAT: LONG:

Aerial of Manhattan, New York City GPS DATA of shot location. LAT: LONG:

Aerial of Manhattan, New York City GPS DATA of shot location. LAT: LONG:

Aerial view of Midtown Manhattan and the Hudson River shoreline in the late afternoon.


Cameron Davidson

Heidi: How long is a typical aerial shoot?

Cameron: It depends upon the project and location.  When shooting over New York City or London, we plot out the times and sun path to maximize our shoot times or to catch the quality of light that the assignment calls for.  Usually about one and half to two hours.

Have you even been both pilot and photographer?
In my early days of aerial photography, right after I earned my pilots license, I would shoot and fly at the same time.  Problem was, for me, the altimeter tended to spin left, which meant I was descending.  I know two fixed wing pilots that are superb aerial photographers and also a Gyro pilot who have mastered the ability to fly and shoot at the same time.  If I was to try it again, I would shoot from an ultralight aircraft.

The key thing to remember about aerials, is, safety comes first.  I fly with a fairly elite group of pilots who know how to fly for the camera and primarily fly for the film industry.  There are a few photographers who have the same or higher level of experience that I have, all of us, are focused on flying safely.  My goal is always safety of the crew, client and myself. Since I am also a pilot, (although inactive at the moment) I know and speak the same language as the pilots flying the ship.  I tend to fly in turbine helicopters and often in twin-turbine ships.  There’s a lot of planning that goes into these flights and we always have a pre and post mission brief.  I never bring unnecessary people along for a joy ride.  That comes from the mantra of “more people equals more weight, more weight in the helicopter equals less power.”  Power is your friend.

What was the genesis for this body of work?
In early 2009, I was on assignment for Vanity Fair in New York City.  The shoot called for recreating the views from the cockpit of US Airways Flight 1549 that crash-landed into the Hudson River.  After I finished the shoot, we flew back to the heliport, I asked the pilot if we could schedule a second flight for sunset and into early evening.  His schedule was open, so we went for it.  I shot at sunset and since it was fall, dusk came quickly.  In 2009, DSLR cameras were not especially good at high ISO and low-light photography.  I decided to keep shooting and cranked the ISO up and see if I could create a usable image.  I did and it became a best seller for one of my stock agencies.

I’ve always been drawn to the intersection of mankind and water.  My work is fairly graphic and the hard lines with dark and light of the city is similar in form and tone to my aerial landscapes of marshes, river and settlements along watersheds.

So far, I’ve published six books and one iPad app on aerials.  My last book, Chesapeake, was a twenty-year love affair with the Chesapeake Bay Watershed that was the University of Virginia Press distributed.

My aerial assignment work is a mix of editorial, annual reports and advertising.  Earlier this year I shot a campaign for a automotive company.  The first shot was Manhattan from 9500 feet on a very cold 16 degree day.  The temperature in the cabin, at altitude, was minus three degrees.  Add about sixty knots of forward airspeed and we were a wee bit chilled.  The same project took me to the edge of the Everglades, where I shot as low at forty feet above the water. I’ve shot aerials in over thirty countries.

Discovery Channel assigned me to shoot shoot 360 immersive aerials for the Nik Wallenda walk websites his walk across the Grand Canyon and Chicago River.

That was very much a collaborative approach with their in-house graphics team, specialized software with quite a lot of testing and several pre-flight mission and weather briefs.  We had a half-hour window for these shots due to waiting for light to reach into into the canyons and before the winds picked up. I have flown for so long, that fear does not enter into my mindset.  I fly with good people in solid aircraft and everyone goes in with a safety first frame of mind.  I do say a prayer before every flight and ask for the safe return for all on board.


Is there a particular time of day you like to shoot these?
My favorite time of day to shoot is O’Dark early and O’Dark late.  I like working the edges of light.  The first and last light of the day is a challenge and a joy to work with: shadows hide and help create form with structure.  I rarely shoot aerials in the middle of the day.  I can only think of a couple of times in the past few years that I have.  One was in Haiti just after the January 2010 earthquake.  The only time I could schedule the helicopter was between NGO medical missions and that was 2:00 in the afternoon.  Recently I shot a series of B&W aerials of Manhattan in the middle of the day.  I wanted to embrace the hard cold light of late October.  I think it worked.

Are there scouting missions for project like this?
Sometimes, I scout by fixed wing.  Most often, I travel to the location and scout on the ground.  I take sun path plots, gps readings, look at shadow lengths and figure out the obstacles and opportunities.  I also use topographic maps plus satellite images via Google and Bing.

You’re a pioneer in this field, how did the love for aerial develop?
It came to me quite naturally.  I started off as a bird photographer.  I was working on a project for National Geographic Magazine in southern Maryland and I saw a Yellow Piper Cub behind a barn alongside a country road.  I asked the farmer who owned the Cub if he would fly me over the Heron Rookery I was photographing.  He did, for all of $15 to cover expenses.  I was hooked from that point forward.  It was the perfect viewpoint for how I like to shoot.  Graphic landscapes, targets of opportunities and hopefully, a unique image that challenges the viewer.

However, the real pioneers of aerial photography are William Garnett  and Bradford Washburn.  Mr. Washburn was also an explorer, and mountaineer.  He photographed remote mountain ranges in Alaska with an 8×10 camera at, 12,000 feet without oxygen.   I met Mr. Garnett and his wife a few years before he passed away.  In my office, I have a signed print of one of his favorite aerials, an image of Death Valley with rolling dunes and hard morning light. Mr. Garnett is considered by many, to be the grandfather of American aerial photography.


Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.12.45 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.12.56 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.13.06 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.13.14 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.13.31 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.13.40 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.13.48 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.13.55 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.14.05 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.14.13 PM

What has been the most surprising/innovative application for this type of imagery that you’ve seen?
Outside of books and magazine stories, I’ve started shooting images that were intended of the movie poster market.  Two of my New York City images have been made into the lead poster for the Spiderman movies. The U.S. Post Office chose an aerial of Blackwater Refuge from my Chesapeake Book project as the image to show marshes in the Earthscapes series of stamps.

Photograph by Cameron Davidson All Rights reserved/© Cameron Davidson for usage.

Photograph by Cameron Davidson All Rights reserved/© Cameron Davidson for usage.

Photograph by Cameron Davidson All Rights reserved/© Cameron Davidson for usage.

Quadopter/Octacopters (drones) have brought a raft of new uses and some of them are incredibly exciting and useful.  Everything from tower safety inspections to mapping, to wildlife counts and of course, aerials from a slower and lower altitude, which I might add, is significantly safer than flying a helicopter at 200 feet.

I have a long relationship with the good folks at Corbis and you can see many of my aerials there.  Also, I launched my own stock library, titled, AerialStock.

The Daily Promo: JD White

- - The Daily Promo

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 7.26.44 PM
Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 7.26.52 PM

JD White

Who printed it?

Who designed it?
My good friend Craig Wheat did my logo a while back but I designed the cards myself.

Who edited the images?
I edited these 5 down from my current 20 image printed portfolio.

How many did you make?
I made a short run of 20 cards for each image as this was my first go at a promo. Some people received all 5 cards, some got 3 and then I also sent out a few singles. There was 33 total recipients of the promo.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I’m really not sure yet. This was my first run and it was very small so I’m curious to see what happens if I send out 400. I’d like to do at least 4 promos a year but doing 12 small runs sounds fun too!

What have you learned from sending out promos?
As I mentioned before, this was my first run at any sort of promo. I had sent out a few emails prior to these postcards but this was my first attempt at getting my name out there without taking much of a financial hit. The month before sending these out I decided to go freelance. So you can say this was my attempt at getting me out of the “ohh crap” moment and getting my hustle on. Shortly after sending these out, I got booked for a couple jobs with local agencies. None of them had received the promos yet. I do feel that getting the cards out there had something to do with getting these jobs. I have learned a lot from this first mailer, for example how they can reach a bigger audience just by sending one to Rob. Also, sending good photos and vibes out into the universe can never hurt.

This Week In Photography Books: Lynn Saville

by Jonathan Blaustein

I’m sitting in a silent room, over-looking a lilting snowman.

Is there anything more beautiful than a snow-covered field? The sunlight reflects into your eyes, and the blue sky looms above, like an approving grandma.


It’s odd to feel tranquil and safe, in this week when illusions of such phenomena were shattered like the outer layer a frozen puddle, when you crunch it with your boot.

Such horror.

As this is an opinion column, it’s hard not to comment on the miserable situation that played out on Friday, November 13. (OMG, I’m only now realizing those assholes did it on Friday the 13th. Sick bastards.)

But what do you say? How can I add anything to the discussion that hasn’t been said already, or isn’t so blindingly obvious that it need not be said?

I will say this: my heart goes out to all the innocent people who lost their lives. To their loved ones, whose time on Earth will never be the same. To the residents of all the cities out there who now feel so threatened. Who grapple with an underlying level of fear and anxiety that will not go away any time soon.

But I also think about all the people, tens of millions really, who live that way already. Who reside in places like Iraq, Syria, Mali, Yemen, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Israel, Ukraine, etc.

There are so many who live in situations where bombings, assassinations, destruction and mayhem are a part of daily life. Yet we collectively lose our minds when it happens in a place like Paris. In the West. With all the beauty and historic architecture.

I may not be a real journalist, (the jury’s out,) but I did write in this very column, not too long ago, about the banlieues in Paris. We looked at “Dédale,” by Laurent Chardon, and how he implied that the bleak, miserable surroundings in the Parisian suburbs must be wreaking havoc on the mentality of their inhabitants.

We are humans, and therefore flawed. Society, made up of humans on a mass scale, is therefore flawed as well. Should our species survive as long into the future as it has into the past, it will never lack for violence and misery.

But when chaos hits close to home, it feels that much worse. That’s how terrorism works. And lest you think I’m excusing anyone, I’ve already written on multiple occasions that ISIS are **the worst people on Earth**.

But the appeal of their recruitment pitch is not hard to discern.

They find young men, troublemakers already, who are of the lowest status in their home (or adopted) countries. They have no girlfriend, no job prospects, no future to speak of. These men most often live in the kind of miserable neighborhoods you might see in a Dardenne brothers film. (Brussels anyone?)

To these young men, they offer the chance to be heroes, to a certain audience.


These recruits will get to play war, cops and robbers, spy vs spy, whatever clichéd story-book narrative you’d like to use. They will be famous, lauded by a crowd of social media well-wishers. And then, when it all goes wrong, as it always does, they won’t have to spend their lives in jail, tortured daily, nor confined to the hell of solitary confinement.

No, they will not.

Instead of facing decades of potential rape behind bars, with the push of a button, these sociopaths get to go to heaven, attended by 72 virgins. Permanent blowjobs, forever.

Which is to say that as long as there are oppressed, disturbed, and under-employed young men in the world, (and occasionally women) then this message will find fertile soil.

These ISIS killers don’t respect life, so it’s easy for them to take it from others. I may hope we wipe them all from the face of the Earth, but the ideas that motivate them are much harder to eradicate. (See Neal Stephenson’s seminal “Snow Crash,” for the best prediction on the power of viral information.)

It takes books and medical care and job opportunities to defeat that sort of nihilism.

Not bombs.

Because you can’t explode an idea.

In so many cities, here in the US, after 9/11, people did live in fear. Always looking over their shoulders. Is that backpack sitting by itself? Does that Muslim guy look shifty to you? If you see something, say something.

Eventually, those fears receded.

Cities without people feel scary. Emptiness, devoid of light, takes on a type of menace with which most of us are familiar. That’s why these assholes attacked social gatherings. They want to scare people away from drinking and fun. (Remember: no booze under Sharia law.)

Empty cities project a palpable energy, and the camera loves nothing so much as a cinematic scene. Which is why people have been so receptive to “Dark Cities, Urban America at Night,” a project by Lynn Saville, just released in book form by Damiani.

(Even today, I managed to make it back around to a photo-book.)

I have to admit, I like, but don’t really love these pictures. I’ve seen so many of them before, and I’ve even made some myself. (Haven’t we all?) But as a collection, it makes for a very attractive publication.

The pictures are moody without being outright scary. Taken at dawn and dusk, (dubbed the magic hours for a reason,) the images resonate calm and quiet, rather than “a bomb is about to go off” anxiety. As the artist is a New Yorker, I not-surprisingly appreciated the pictures taken out of town, when her discovery-meter was dialed up a little higher.

Upon second viewing, I became more aware of the construction metaphor. People are building, always building, whether it’s a pyramid or a skyscraper. And the empty storefronts, turning over, being re-energized, gives a temporal marker of American cities coming back after the wreckage of the Great Recession.

There’s one picture with a mural in it that says, “This is happening in your city right now.” I considered opening today’s column with that very quote, as Parisians, Londoners, Berliners, New Yorkers and Madrilenos are all worried more today than they were before. (The end notes credit Michael Conlin and William Butler for the Albany mural.)

Unless you’re reading this in Aleppo, or Mosul, or Donetsk, your city is likely safe enough to explore. You can go out for a coffee, and likely not have to worry about getting killed. So in this time of global sadness, let’s remember to appreciate the freedoms we often take for granted.

Bottom Line: Beautiful photos of American cities at night

To Purchase “Dark Cities, Urban America at Night” Visit Photo-Eye





















The Art of the Personal Project: Amy Mikler

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Amy Mikler

A 12 year old girl orphaned by the genocide in Rwanda

A 12 year old girl orphaned by the genocide in Rwanda

Masengesho helps prepare dinner by picking through the rice.

Masengesho helps prepare dinner by picking through the rice.

Masengesho walks to get water at dawn. Gisenyi, Rwands

Masengesho walks to get water at dawn. Gisenyi, Rwands

Masengesho's least favorite chore is carrying water back home. Understandably,  as the jug weighs around 44 pounds.

Masengesho’s least favorite chore is carrying water back home. Understandably, as the jug weighs around 44 pounds.

Masengesho mops the floors at her family's apartment after school.

Masengesho mops the floors at her family’s apartment after school.

Masengesho does the dishes outside on the ground with a basin of water and a bar of soap.

Masengesho does the dishes outside on the ground with a basin of water and a bar of soap.

Masengesho drinks her breakfast porridge before school

Masengesho drinks her breakfast porridge before school

Simple wooden desks and well used chalkboards are the standard classroom features in Uganda.

Simple wooden desks and well used chalkboards are the standard classroom features in Uganda.

Masengesho sits outside her apartment wearing her one pair of shoes.

Masengesho sits outside her apartment wearing her one pair of shoes.

Masengesho answers a question at the chalkboard at her school in Gisenyi, Rwanda.

Masengesho answers a question at the chalkboard at her school in Gisenyi, Rwanda.

Raising arms for class, Masengesho competes for the right answer with the other students.

Raising arms for class, Masengesho competes for the right answer with the other students.

A favorite fruit of Masengesho's.

A favorite fruit of Masengesho’s.

Masengesho playing drums and singing along with the fellow members of her church's children's choir.

Masengesho playing drums and singing along with the fellow members of her church’s children’s choir.


Wearing a typical Rwandan mish mash of patterns, this stately lady waits at a clinic in Gisenyi, Rwanda.

Wearing a typical Rwandan mish mash of patterns, this stately lady waits at a clinic in Gisenyi, Rwanda.

Mothers wait with the babies at a clinic in Gisenyi, Rwanda.

Mothers wait with the babies at a clinic in Gisenyi, Rwanda.

How long have you been shooting?
Full time since 2007

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Hobby, then school, then assisting, then topped off with a lot of self-prescribed “assignments.”

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
The first time I went to East Africa I struggled upon my return to articulate the vast differences in a typical East African’s neighborhood structure and daily routines. Happy for an excuse to return, I set about finding a willing child I could document: someone old enough to articulate some dreams, but young enough to have that open innocence and time that is helpful to a documentary project. I didn’t want a starving kid, nor an atypical wealthy child either for my One Child One Week project. I was fortunate to find Masengesho Julien, a sweet 12 year old girl in Gisenyi, Rwanda.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
Because of the nature of travel time and costs to Africa, the project was a one week shoot from start to finish. I did sit on the images for a while, but did eventually add it to my site. Simply out of love for them. That said, I don’t know how anyone couldn’t come back from Africa with beautiful images, it is a place full of lovely light and gorgeous people. 
After I shot the project my hope was to repeat the process in another country, but I haven’t pulled that off yet. I’m eyeing Guatemala though.…

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I just started a new one, so I will let you know! The One Child One Week | Rwanda project was born of such love and curiosity that it seemed weird not to share it. The newest one is a little more challenging: one day, one old TLR, one roll of 120 film, and one final grid showcasing all the images after processing.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I still strive to achieve images that people will want to look at, but love the freedom and challenge of chasing ideas that aren’t constrained by advertising goals or editorial copy. That said, I go in knowing that the images may never be seen by anyone but me. If I feel it fits in with other work and won’t completely confuse the viewer, I might mix images into my website. But my latest personal project is just to challenge myself to slowly see the scene around me and to treasure each push of the button.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Not really.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
No. I printed a One Child One Week booklet of the little girl so I could send it to her, and gave it to a couple curious friends.

One Child | One Week | Rwanda was born out of equal parts love of the beauty to be captured in Africa, and a desire to show and share what day to day life looks like for a typical East African city child. What do the homes look like? How is the classroom environment? What do daily chores entail? Life in Rwanda is both beautiful and hard, and hopefully these photos capture a little bit of both.


Amy Mikler is a lifestyle & kid photographer based in Austin, TX. Her journey to photography began with a Christmas present from her grandparents at age 9, and initially resulted in creating scenarios for the neighborhood kids to model in. For some reason she did not consider her beloved hobby when considering majors, but after spending most of her disposable income on photography throughout her twenties, she decided she either needed to find a cheaper hobby or go back to school for photography. Thankfully the latter worked out. She shoots for a variety of commercial and editorial clients, and deeply appreciates them allowing her to use her “hobby” to make a living.

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 establishing 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 feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit: Isamu Sawa: Mercedes Benz Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

06-07_CONTENTS.indd Merc_14-15_JPG-1 Merc_16-17_JPG-2 Merc_18-19_JPG-3
Mercedes Benz Magazine

(Australia & New Zealand)

Managing Editor: Sarah Lewis
Editor: Helen Kaiser
Art direction & Design: Glenn Moffatt
Hair & make-up: Blanka Dudas represented by Hart & Co
Retoucher: Aaron Foster @ Studio ADFX
Photographer: Isamu Sawa


Heidi: How did the SHOWSTOPPER JPG project come about?
Isamu: In October 2014, the famous French couturier was bringing his retrospective exhibition ‘The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk’ to Melbourne Australia to be held at the National Gallery of Victoria. To coincide with the event, Mercedes Benz who was the Principal Partner of the exhibition wanted to run an editorial in their magazine and commission a photographer that could handle two disciplines; that of portraiture and automotive photography together. Collaborating with Mercedes Benz, Jean Paul Gaultier had created a unique one-off design of a Mercedes SL-Class exclusively for the exhibition and images were required of him and the car for the editorial.

Editor Helen Kaiser approached me and commissioned the photo shoot. Helen knew my capabilities as both a portrait and automotive photographer. She also knew that I was comfortable shooting high profile celebrities; we worked together previously when she entrusted me to photograph famous Australian actor Geoffrey Rush.An  ad campaign was realized by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne to promote the exhibition and I was subsequently commissioned to shoot that as well.

Have you shot for Merc Benz Magazine before?
Yes, a while ago though. If memory serves me right it would have been over 10 years ago when I was still shooting film.

What was the direction from the magazine?
The brief was to capture Jean Paul Gaultier with his uniquely designed Mercedes in the studio; covering off three to four different angles within a very limited time frame of no more than an hour.

Helen Kaiser initially sent me illustrations of the unique vehicle design by Jean Paul Gaultier with his signature stripes; we subsequently discussed shooting against a plain background due to the graphic nature of his design. The main issue however was the limited time allocated with the fashion designer. It would not have been possible to pre-light for multiple angles of the car together with the designer and achieve the sort of result that would do the story and publication justice. After a few days of brain storming I emailed Helen with the idea of shooting his portrait and the car separately…

“…in essence my idea based on the very limited time we have with JPG is to shoot him and the car separately and try to make up nice graphic images. So I suggest we do very graphic portraits of him and make up ‘double-exposed look’ collages of him around the car. I also like the idea of having him and the car in black and white apart from the blue stripes…I think this idea would make it more ‘editorial looking’ rather than looking like a typical advertising shot…”

 With the concept approved, we shot multiple angles of the car on the first day in the studio and concentrated on just the portraits of Jean Paul Gaultier the following day.

How difficult was it too keep the cyc clean and do they roll the car in?
Keeping the cyc clean was not an issue. We laid carpet down to avoid tire marks when driving the car into the studio and onto a revolving floor; once it was on the turntable it was quite easy to turn the car around for the specific angles we needed. The assistants wore protective plastic covers around their shoes when moving around the studio.

Is the car engine ever running at some point?
Yes but only when we initially drive the car in.

What is the biggest challenge with shooting a car, I’d imagine reflections? 
Reflections are ‘one’ of the main challenges when shooting cars in the studio. In this instance however we had the added difficulty of shooting a white car in a white studio; so the main challenge was to create enough light and shade in the bodywork to bring out the unique contours of the vehicle without losing definition against the background; at the same time highlighting the design created by Jean Paul Gaultier.

Was their any wardrobe direction for JPG?
We asked his management to bring some dark plain tops, ideally black and perhaps a jacket for some texture. We didn’t want to be too prescriptive; especially given his line of work, but emphasized that we needed something plain and dark for the ‘double’ exposure idea to work…


Isamu Sawa_JPG_signed print

I see you have a signed print. Do you often have people sign your prints?
A few days after the shoot I was printing out some proofs of the retouched images and had a wild idea about having them signed by Jean Paul Gaultier. With nothing to lose I contacted his personal assistant via email to see if there was any chance that I could have him sign a set of prints for my personal collection. She replied that, “in the ideal world it would be easy to organize” but she couldn’t promise anything as he had such a busy schedule including a talk and book signing that evening. She suggested trying to catch him at the book signing; which was easier said than done because the evening was booked out. I attended anyway and talked my way into the event and with the help of his personal assistant Jelka, managed to get one print signed. I waited for over two hours but it was worth it. The image hangs proudly in my studio.

I don’t often have prints signed especially these days when we hardly print anything but I do have a set of prints signed by famous Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel and a poster by one of Australia’s most famous bands Hunters & Collectors.

The Daily Promo: Fedele Studio

- - The Daily Edit

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.18.14 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.17.39 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.18.47 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.18.53 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.19.01 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.19.07 PM

Who printed it?
John: Donoson Printing for the video carrier and Bender Graphics for the booklet insert.

Who designed it?
I designed the piece. I began my career as a designer/art director so I still dust off those skills every once in a while to create new feature marketing and promo pieces. My studio has moved into shooting both stills and motion content over the past few years so we needed a way to showcase all of our work in the most efficient and memorable way we could find. It was designed to display all of our content while also having maximum flexibility for future print runs to minimize additional design time in front of my computer –I’d rather be shooting! The branded carrier has only general info about us. The video player has a USB port so we can upload custom motion content, as needed. The still imagery booklet is then printed short run so we can then be as targeted as we want to specific prospects/clients.

Who edited the images?
I edited the images wanting to include a broad overview of our portfolio & reel on this first run.

How many did you make?
We created a run of 100. Given the ridiculously high expense of each mailer we chose to do a small test run first to see how recipients responded. We’re planning a much bigger run for 2016.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
We try to send smaller printed mailers out quarterly/bi-monthly. The more expensive ones like this go out about once a year. Any more and I’ll have to pick up a second job to finance it.

What type of reaction are you getting from the piece?
This is a fairly new technology so it’s been hilarious to see the initial responses. People walk into a portfolio meeting expecting our book and iPad, then see these sitting there waiting for them. “Where in the hell did you get this?”, has been heard more than a few times.

Sometimes the button that auto-plays the video is tripped while in the mail so we’ve heard from a few people that the package arrived and it was playing music. It’s unintentional but guaranteed they’ll open ours first.

This Week In Photography Books: Adam Ekberg

by Jonathan Blaustein

I’ve got a stream in my backyard. One month every year, it turns into a river. Snow, freshly melted, descends from the Sangre de Cristo mountains, and snakes along the border of my property.

It’s as nice as it sounds.

But life being what it is, sometimes weeks go by, and I never even see it. Wake up. Drink tea. Feed the kids. Get the lunches packed. Take my son to school. Do work for my 7 jobs. Go to the gym.

You get the point.

Two weeks ago, I had a mini-epiphany. How many people in the world would love to have a gorgeous mountain stream in their backyard? (Obvious answer: Billions.)

And how many of those Billions would go weeks without sitting at their private Zen paradise?

Likely answer: not that many.

So I made myself a promise that I’d endeavor to sit by that stream once a day, listening to the gurgle of water running around rock, watching the light glint from odd angles, feeling the shadow of ravens as they glide overhead.

I’ve mostly kept the promise, aside from a day when I left before the sun was up, and came home after dark. (I thought of going out with my Iphone as a flashlight, but I don’t think the bears have hibernated yet.)

What can I report? Well, my stress level has gone down, for sure. And my appreciation for life’s brevity is at an all-time high. On Sunday, one of our “adopted” red-tailed hawks screeched not 15 feet above my head, while the sun’s rays warmed my cheeks, and all was right with the world.

It may sound trite to you, but appreciation is a highly-undervalued state of mind. It allows us to find peace with our lot in life, and focus on the small moments that ground us in the present. (Granted, if I were living in Syria right now, I might not preach inner peace so blithely. But I’m in Taos. Thank God.)

Sometimes, a good photo book can offer the same sensation. It reminds a jaded psyche that no matter how many donuts you make, and how much you might hate the taste of sugary-glaze, there is still joy to be found in child-like wonder and curiosity.

Will I get hurt if I jump off that swing when it’s at its apex. (Shout out to Joanna Hurley for schooling me in the proper use of it’s vs its, early in my writing career.) Will I burn the house down if I point a magnifying glass at those dry blades of grass just off the porch. (Never did it.) If I tied 5000 helium balloons to my house, like that Old Dude in “Up,” would it lift off its moorings and head towards the great beyond?

These are the types of questions you’re forced to ask when you look at “The Life of Small Things,” a new book by Adam Ekberg, recently published by Waltz Books in Indiana. (Yes, Indiana.) There is a forward here by Darius Himes that forced me to write a good column this week, because I didn’t want to look outclassed to those of you who subsequently buy the book.

(Short version: Dude can write. If he ever gives up his gig at Christie’s, I may well be out of a job.)

The pictures in this book do speak for themselves, so I’m loathe to describe too many. They are cool, funny, and clever. Warm and cool is a difficult mix, but he pulls it off with aplomb. Balloons repeat, as do disco balls. Items that symbolize fun and leisure. (Birthday parties and Studio 54)

A goldfish in a bag, plopped upon a field, shows up two photos before a splash in a sea. I like that they’re connected, but not sequentially, as many would do. Flashlights abound, reminding us of sleep-overs and camp-outs gone by.

Milk jugs are punctured multiple times, conjuring not just the obvious spilled milk, but the act of “peeing,” which gets a laugh out of my kids every time. (Say pee or poop to an adult and you get nothing. Try it with a 3 year old, and you’re guaranteed a giggle.)

Explosions, fires, soap bubbles, and a lit-up vacuum cleaner lonely in the snow-covered gloaming.

Great stuff.

Yes, this book fits the bill for my “preference for edgy pictures,” which makes it the right book to discuss in my first book review in a month. But don’t fret. This one is not just for the hipsters.

Everyone still has a kid somewhere inside. You just need to know where to look.

Bottom Line: Fantastic book of innovative, witty constructions

To Purchase “The Life of Small Things” Visit Photo-Eye



















The Art of the Personal Project: Jonathan Hanson

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Jonathan Hanson

















How long have you been shooting?
I started taking pictures about 10 years ago.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I’m mostly self taught aside from a few darkroom classes and workshops.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I was in a bar in Baltimore and saw a young man walk in who reminded me of model/actress Grace Jones. I was intrigued and began questioning the way we see femininity and masculinity. After our portrait session, I posted some of the images to my blog and I received emails from readers wanting to know his sex. The reader responses encouraged me to continue to question current gender classification and to continue the work.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I’ve been working on it on and off for the last year. As soon as I had enough images that I thought showed the viewer my voice and vision, I posted it to my website. Its a work in progress so as it develops, I’m presenting it to various outlets for publication.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if its working?
Its tough to say because I think its relative to the project. With this project, I new I was on to something after the first portrait session.

Since shooting for you portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I look at shooting for my portfolio and personal work as the same thing. My goal is to shot what I love and make a living from doing it.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I post a fair amount to Facebook and Instagram. In January, the project was published in The Washington Post Magazine as a six page feature and they shared it across their social network which helped it gain some traction.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I mostly use personal work for self promotion because I think it reveals a little about me and shows off my style a bit.

“Androgynous” is a portrait series focusing on people with a single sex who have a combination of both masculinity an femininity in their physical appearance. The subjects are a mix of people who identify with different sexual orientations and genders, breaking assumptions based on current prescribed gender roles. Through the series, I hope to challenge current gender classification and question the way they see current cultural gender frameworks and beauty. Through the series I propose male and female dualities are interconnected and complementary forces instead of opposing, thus creating a fluid spectrum of gender and sexuality where the whole is greater than the parts.


Jonathan is a Los Angeles based editorial and commercial photographer with roots on the East Coast. Culture, people, music and color inspire much of his work. He received dual degrees in Creative Writing and Journalism from Drake University before setting out on his photographic career. He credits early street photography for seducing him into being a photographer. Jonathan’s work has been recognized by ASMP Best of 2014, The Magenta Foundation, PDN, NPPA, The International Color Awards and the Eddie Adams Workshop.

Clients include – Adidas – Adobe – Bank of America – Billboard Magazine -DeWalt – Discovery Channel – Der Spiegel – Ebony Magazine – EssenceMagazine – Fortune Magazine – Inc. Magazine – Johns Hopkins – Miller Lite -NPR – Men’s Health Magazine – Sports Illustrated – The Advocate – The Guardian -The Huffington Post Magazine – The London Times – The New York Times – The Observer – The Smithsonian Magazine – The Wall Street Journal -USA Today – Verizon website:

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 establishing 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 feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

Dissecting the Terms and Conditions Document

- - Working

Valuable information from Heather Elder Represents

DISSECTING THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS DOCUMENT On a few recent projects, we have spent a lot more time than usual reviewing specific terms and going back and forth with both agencies and lawyers to come up with language that works for everyone.  During these particular projects, I often felt at a bit of a disadvantage when there were lawyers involved and wishing we had one of our own to help navigate our point of view.

I figured we were not alone in this thinking so asked attorney Linda Joy Kattwinkel of Owen, Wickersham & Erickson, P.C. if she would help dissect a generic Terms and Conditions Document that we can share with our readers.  People were so appreciative of the information she shared regarding Copyright, we figured they would feel the same about Terms and Conditions.

The documents are a bit long and dense, so we are breaking this series up in a few posts.

The format we thought most helpful would be to 1) review the term 2) translate the term into layman’s language and 3) ask any relevant questions.

Terms #1-5 can be found here.
Terms #6-9 can be found here.
Terms #10-14 can be found here.

The Daily Edit – ArtNews: Katherine McMahon

- - The Daily Edit


Creative Director/Designer: Artur Wandzel
Creative Editor: Katherine McMahon
Photographer: Katherine McMahon


Are all creative editors also photographers or is this a reflective of your large skill set?

For the most part, I’m a Photo Editor. I research, request and edit photos for the front of book and features each month, but I also try to contribute original photography as much as possible. Whenever there’s an opportunity to shoot original photography for the magazine or website, I try to set up a shoot. I’ll discuss concepts/ideas with my Editor in Chief Sarah Douglas, Creative Director Artur Wandzel and the editor or write of the piece. For this shoot, I worked closely with Hannah Ghorashi who wrote the feature. We discussed concepts together before and conducted the shoot/interview within the same 2 hour window. Jenny Kanavaros was the makeup artist for the shoot, and we discussed keeping it with neutral tones but a strong brow.

What is your role at ArtNews?
Essentially,  I’d say my role has elements of both being a Photo Editor and Staff Photographer.

You mentioned you were inspired by an image from her 1976 performance.
What’s your process for sourcing inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere. I try to first think big picture but I also like to keep it simple. For this shoot, I re-watched ‘The Artist is Present,’ The documentary that chronicled her 2010 Retrospective at MoMA, and I always find inspiration in looking at old archival images. This image in particular really stuck with me:



I wanted for us to try to emulate it in a different time and context. Our office is near the Flower District, so I handpicked a few long stemmed red roses the day of the shoot and brought them with me. Before I left dropped them in a vase with some flowers she already had on her kitchen table.

I love the Givenchy dress, it has look and feel of being a headmaster, what drew you to this look for her? I know you thumbed through her closet full of designer clothing.
It was surprisingly simple- Marina picked out the dress, and I loved it. She had so many beautiful outfits to choose from, but I personally loved the high contrast. It seemed bold and assertive in an understated way.

Marina Abramović is widely known for her performance art and clearly a trail blazer in that genre. How easy or hard was it to direct her?
It was a breeze directing her. With every shoot comes vastly different dynamics, like any other relationship or interaction in life. As a performance artist, she seems very aware of her physical presence and very comfortable in front of the camera. She has an intensity in her eyes and I found her to be very charismatic. This was a shoot where I took on a more passive role as the photographer. I tried to just let her do her thing.


Aside from the simple rose for a prop, you had a candle and matches, why was that?
I had a general idea but wasn’t totally sure what the lighting in her apartment would be like the day of the shoot. I also just like to have a few unconventional props on hand just in case, so I brought a few candles and matches as a potential lighting tool in the event that we wanted to try a few intimately lit images, and I thought it might be nice to incorporate an open flame into the image somehow. In the end, the natural light was too good to pass up and I think that a darkly lit setting for the images wouldn’t have served the story as well. In addition to the candles and matches, I brought two large bags worth of lighting equipment to the shoot and didn’t end up using any of it.

The Daily Promo: Andrew Kornylak

- - The Daily Promo







Andrew Kornylak

Who printed it?
Universal Printing in Durham, NC

Who designed it? Who edited the images?
Peter Dennen of Pedro+Jackie guided the edit and design of this piece.

How many did you make?

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I try to stick to e-promos once a month through Yodelist and a twice-yearly print promo.

How did this project come about?
The “Southern Climbers” portraits came from a personal series I shot during the 2014 season of the Triple Crown Bouldering Series. It’s the largest outdoor climbing competition in the country and spans three events over three months every autumn in the Southeast US. I’ve been competing in and shooting at these competitions since 1996, and it’s kind of a crossroads of the Southern climbing scene with big name international climbers who migrate through every year. I painted a series of backdrops that I could lug around the cliffs with a bunch of lights and a pile of film and digital cameras. I made portraits of hundreds of climbers, spectators, vendors, and a biker gang who showed up for the fellowship and free beer. Climber and photographer Erik Danielson was instrumental in making this big setup work and making the light sing every time.

Peter Dennen of Pedro+Jackie edited the project down to something that would fit in a 12-page booklet. We went with a very simple design. I proofed it using an inkjet printer myself and Universal Printing in Durham did a superb job matching these proofs to the final 4-color booklet.

Chicago’s Filter Photo Festival – Part 3

by Jonathan Blaustein

I get confused sometimes.

I lose sight of what’s important, facing the never-ending onslaught of the 21st Century Hustle.

It happens.

Lately, I find myself in a Twilight-zone-ish reality, where I’m respected and lauded online, or when I leave town, but am treated like a sham here at home. (Where I’m attempting to reform the Art Department at UNM-Taos.)

As this week’s big interview with Trevor Paglen attests, Art leaves the door wide open. It’s all things to all people. If we call it Art, it’s Art. For him, that means surveilling the surveillance machine. For me, it might mean shopping for things to photograph, and then photographing them.

But here in Taos, for the last 50 years, (with a few exceptions, like Dennis Hopper, Agnes Martin, Larry Bell and Ken Price,) Art means looking at something pretty, and making a pretty painting of a pretty thing. Or, just as often, making an attractive abstraction that means nothing whatsoever. Beauty, or one might even say decoration, is its only reason for being.

Why? is a question never asked, because the answer is always, because I wanted to. Because I enjoy plein-air painting. You’re outside. The mountain is pretty. That’s that.

So the idea that Art should mean something, that it can critique society and provoke thought, that it might have a purpose beyond distraction, is a challenging one. It questions the validity of the accepted practice. (Nobody ever made friends by speaking truth to power. You might win a MacArthur Genius grant, a la David Simon, but you won’t become Homecoming Queen.)

Why am I on about this? Well, this column is something of a weekly diary. And my regular readers know there is always a “point” just round the bend, so let’s get there.

When I was in Chicago in late September, I had the opportunity to recharge my creative batteries in the one way that can’t be replicated via the Internet: I got to stand in the presence of some of the best Art being made today.

If you don’t get that feeling from time to time, you forget it exists. Without a regular dose, you become self-conscious about why you’ve devoted your adult life to a practice that many deem superfluous. (STEM, STEM, STEM these days.)

At the Art Institute of Chicago, on a balmy Sunday afternoon, just before the Museum was about to close, I was reminded why Art matters. As this is traditionally a photography blog, I’ll give a shout out here to the Deana Lawson photo show they’ve got up, which was genuinely excellent.

But my psyche was body slammed- Lucha Libre style- by the “Charles Ray: Sculpture 1997-2014” exhibition. In my first draft, I strongly recommended you fly, drive, or train your way to Chicago, ASAMFP, but I now know it sadly closed on October 4th.

Mr. Ray makes sculptures that are in obvious conversation with the past, present, and future all at the same time. His figurative sculptures, in particular, are modeled off the Classical Greek and Roman riffs on humanity that take up many a square foot in the “Best Museums in the World.”

What we know of the past, we often know from Art. Stone lasts longer than paper, or papyrus, or whatever lambskin people were scratching on 3000 years ago. We read into those faces, and postures, what society valued then. We imagine a chisel hacking endlessly to give us an object that wind, rain, and time have worn down to what we see before us.

Charles Ray, working with a team in the 21st Century, makes figures out of machine-milled stainless steel. They are shiny and sleek, like a sexy robots circa 2432. They’re alluring, with their gleaming texture, and impossible manipulation of form, because metal shouldn’t look like this. (And will likely last forever.)

Some are painted white, and those are great too, but the silvery humans, rendered permanent like gods, took my breath away. That the AIC gives you 3 sculptures in a gallery as long as an American Football field, with ceilings as high as Seth Rogen on an average day, makes the experience that much more luxurious.



I missed that feeling of exaltation at being human. The pride at knowing such things exist in the world, and that future societies will judge us on them.

I had 1.5 hours of downtime in my entire near-week in Chicago, and with a walk to the museum and back, that left me 45 minutes to look. To think. To walk in circles, and realize how far I’d have to go to ever be NEAR the best in the world at what I do.

Will I ever get there? It’s unlikely, but impossible to know.

What about you? Do you want to grow? To challenge yourself? To emulate the immortals living on a Mountain somewhere, communicating with ghosts in togas, and yet-to-be-born phantasms in space-ships, who dream of sculptures in hyper-sleep?

It’s not my job to tell you how to aspire. And frankly, I’m learning that some people don’t want to imbue their Art with deep meaning. To contemplate, to fret, and to struggle. I suppose that’s OK. (Though I’d be a lot happier if at least they were nice to me.)

Now is probably the right moment to pivot back to photography. In particular, the rest of the best work I saw at the Filter Photo Festival in Chicago. As usual, these artists are in no particular order. That they are featured in the 3rd, and final piece, does not mean I like them least.

I hope you enjoy. We’ll be back to the book reviews soon enough.

Barbara Karant wrote to me this Summer, as she was sad we hadn’t met at Review Santa Fe. She suspected I’d like her work, and she’s absolutely right. (We’re actually installing a Pop Up exhibition of prints in the Art Building at UNM-Taos next week.)

Barbara teaches at Columbia College, in Chicago, and the institution recently purchased the former home of the African-American-owned Johnson Media Inc, the publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines. (They downsized.) Columbia bought the building, but they don’t have the funds to re-furbish it yet, so it sits alone in its funkadelic wonderfulness.

As you can see, the interiors evoke the mix of 70’s modernism, and the can-you-dig-it style we all remember. (Yes, my folks had shag carpet when I was born in ’74. I think it was orange.) I love these pictures so much, and they resonate more deeply, given the Nat Geo layoffs that were announced this very week.



820 Ebony/Jet

820 Ebony/Jet

820 Ebony/Jet




820 Ebony/Jet

820 Ebony/Jet

820 Ebony/Jet


820 Ebony/Jet

820 Ebony/Jet





Ileana Doble Hernandez is a Mexican photographer living in Massachusetts. I forgot to ask her how she handled the Winter from Hell last year. I’m guessing she was no fan, and nor were her pets. Ileana told me that in Mexico, pets always live outside.

When she got to the US, she learned that house pets lived indoors, so she adopted the local custom. These photos examine what that new life is like, and they do it with the humor and baroque absurdity that is familiar to people who know Mexico. Ridiculous stuff.





gorilla 001







Richard Alan Cohen was among the first people I reviewed at Filter. He’s looking at commercialism, and the fetishization of the female form, by photographing window displays in shopping districts around the world. The use of reflections and the Magritte-Hat-photo make the Surrealist references a little-heavy handed. But the pictures are cool, and I liked that some were constructions, but I couldn’t figure out where the seams lived.

3.Golden Goddess


9.La Perla





17..Done with Mirrors

18. Shoe soul


Paul Matzner had a project that I found cheeky and subversive, though he hadn’t thought about it like that. He photographs random strangers on the street, in various cities. Paul gets right up in their grill, and then clicks the shutter. Nothing new there. (Though the photos are very well made.)

What’s interesting is that he hands them a card, and tells them to contact him if they want a print. Almost no one does. So he never knows their name, or anything about them. He hangs out with people for a minute or two, and they’re gone forever.

So much photography aims to tells us more about a person than a picture really can. (Hence the captions.) Photography tries to seduce us into wanting to know more; to care about someone’s backstory.

Paul is doing the opposite of that. You may be curious, but answering questions is impossible here. These really are strangers, giving us 1/500 of a second of their lives. And it has to be enough.








Marina Font is based in Miami, and showed me the typology project below. She based the work on a broken scale that she came across, and then “weighed” objects from her life that matter to her. Of course, the value provided by the scale is false, and that’s a fun idea.

But it also hints at obsolescence. TVs. Books. Records. All piled up, and waiting to be judged by a scale that can no longer do the one job for which it was invented.

el peso de las cosas 1

el peso de las cosas 4

el peso de las cosas 5

el peso de las cosas 8

el peso de las cosas 9

el peso de las cosas 11

el peso de las cosas 14

el peso de las cosas 16

el peso de las cosas 18

I’d seen Adam Reynolds work briefly in an exhibition at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe. I remembered it being antiseptic, these photographs made in bomb shelters in Israel. Seemed a random subject for an American.

But Adam, who recently got an MFA at Indiana University, lived in Israel for years as a journalist. He even speaks Hebrew. (Which is more than this American Jew can do.)

We discussed the way in which some photos had a visceral quality that hinted at menace, death, and destruction, while others seemed more straight. He thought they were caught in the middle of a battle between the journalistic aesthetic, and the fine art style. (I agreed.) So we talked about how he might resolve that going forward, or if he even had to? Regardless, it’s a fascinating project, as certain societies are forced to live in a state of perpetual war.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.43.08 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.43.46 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.44.10 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.44.35 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.45.07 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.45.25 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.45.59 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.46.25 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.46.42 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.46.59 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.47.19 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.47.55 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.48.25 PM

Finally, yes finally, we have Axelle Horstmann. She’s a French photographer based in Chicago, and she asked me to look at her work during the portfolio walk. I thought some of it was promising, and then we re-connected after she came to my lecture that Sunday. As such, I looked at her website, and found these photos made in Marktown, Indiana, a polluted enclave not far from Chicago.

Apparently, the oil company BP has been trying to buy up the town, as it’s already so toxified from all the refineries in the area. Just a grim place to live, and even then, people are fighting to stay, because it’s home. I thought the pictures were intriguing, so I offered to show them. I’ve since learned that Marktown is a mainstay on the Chicago photojournalistic tour, so you may have seen this place before.









If you’ve made it to the end of this, the last piece about the best work I saw in Chicago, you have my gratitude. Hope you enjoyed the series, and we’ll move on to our regular programming next week.


Trevor Paglen Interview

- - Art

Trevor Paglen is among the most innovative and successful artists working in the world today. In his ongoing investigation of the US Government’s massive and secret surveillance industry, he seamlessly moves between photography, film, video, sculpture and installation, and received an Oscar in 2015 for his contributions to the film “Citizenfour.” His major Fall Season exhibition at Metro Pictures, in New York, closed late last month.

Jonathan Blaustein: You’re in Berlin right now because of the museum exhibition with the massive autonomy cube? Is that what’s going on?

Trevor Paglen: I’m here in general, because I moved a bunch of my studio here in February or March.

JB: Gotcha.

TP: I’ve been working out of here a lot this year, back and forth between here and New York.

JB: There are a million things one would like to ask someone like you, who’s on the genuine cutting edge of how people make and think about art in the 21st Century.

TP: Thank you.

JB: You’re welcome. I would hope it’s not a surprise for you to hear that. You’ve been lauded in many circles.

You think about art in a way that is mind-expanding to others. What is the role of the artist in society today?

TP: I think the main thing it can contribute to society is that you don’t have to define what it is. Having said that, the kind of art that excites me most is art that helps us see the historical moment that we live in.

I guess that’s what I want out of it, for the most part. I mean that literally. I want things that teach me how to see.

That’s still pretty general.

JB: You use your practice as a way of understanding the world around you?

TP: Yeah.

JB: And other artists are free to make work as they choose.

TP: Absolutely. And I think that’s what ultimately is powerful about it. You and me and everybody and their sister can have a different definition of art, and that’s great.

JB: Right. It’s certainly what separates art from math. There’s not one answer.

You make your work for your own reasons, but the political and socially critical aims are so evident. For you, art offers enough opportunity to enact social change? Are you trying to change opinions and battle governmental structures, or are you just making your work?

TP: I don’t think art, in and of itself, can change anything at all. I think it can do a couple of things.

The first thing it can help you do is underline some things that may or may not be going on in the world, that you think are worth looking at.

The second is that it can give you permission to look at that. So through that kind of thing, you start to create the basis for a language with which to think about the way the world works. And again, literally see how the world works.

Art doesn’t make linear arguments. Art is not an op-ed. It doesn’t work that way. Even if I wanted to make an argument about- secrecy is bad- art is really not a great vehicle with which to do that, because you can’t make a thesis statement. You can’t defend it with evidence. It’s much more impressionistic, and I think that the moment we get too confident in the meaning of art, it will often run away from you in the opposite direction.

JB: So why art? Why did you end up with this non-literal way of expressing yourself?

TP: I have always been an artist. That’s the simple answer. I’ve always made stuff, since I was a kid. And I’ve always thought visually. That’s the baseline I’m coming from.

But I think the other part of it goes back to what we were talking about before, where the discipline of art is not narrowly defined. There’s a lot of exploration, and both methodological and formal promiscuity, that you can take part in as an artist.

JB: (laughing.) That’s awesome. Because that’s the way people normally drop promiscuity into casual conversation. I love it.

TP: (laughing.) Right.

JB: That was awesome. I’ve done a lot of these interviews, and terminology always seems to come up. We’re living in this perma-freelance culture, which I call the 21st Century Hustle. It’s a mashup environment.

TP: Sure.

JB: It’s a networked environment. We know this. And yet, a lot of times, people still get stuck on nomenclature. On distinction.

TP: Yes.

JB: Maybe in a way that’s a bit 20th Century. You’ve been quoted as saying you’re an artist, not an activist. You have colleagues who would fall in the latter category, and then of course there’s always the hybrid.

In your mind, if you’re going to say “I’m not an activist,” how do you make the distinction? And does it even matter anymore?

TP: (pause) I guess, for me there’s nothing metaphysical at stake. The longer I’ve been around this stuff, the more confusing that question gets to me, to be honest.

I’m friends with people who work at the ACLU, for example, and work alongside them quite a lot. We can be looking at similar kinds of things. What they do is pretty different from what I do, and at the same time there is a lot of overlap.

But I think there would be a lot of overlap between them and journalists in some cases. And then, obviously between them and traditional lawyers. And in other cases from policy-makers.

I guess I don’t see the world, and don’t see the ways in which people do things in the world, as falling in to very rigid categories.

There are really no lines, if you like. I don’t feel like there are any disciplinary boundaries I need to respect.

JB: That’s what I’m getting at. It almost seems outmoded, this idea of drawing lines around words. I am this, I am not that.

TP: Generally, when you hear people doing that, it’s a pretty conservative position. If you’re sitting around having a conversation about what’s art, and what’s not art, you’re probably defending a very conservative position.

JB: One of the elements that finds its way into your work is spying on the spies. Actually enacting the behaviors that you’re critiquing in order both to draw attention to them, and to create an innovative process. While investigating the things you want to investigate.

Through your work, you found yourself tracking down a CIA black site in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2006. What was it like to be there then?

TP: First of all, I want to jump in on the way you set up that question. I might take a little bit of an issue with it. I think a lot of people look at what I do and say, “He uses the same techniques that the government uses, to look at the government.” But I actually think that the kind of practice, or viewing the things that I look at, have basically nothing to do with the way that state surveillance works.

In the sense that there is a very fundamental difference between a citizen of the state looking at how the operations of a purportedly democratic state are working? Versus a state working in secret to surveil its citizens, or gather intelligence about them.

I think they’re fundamentally different things. Although there are some rough outlines that on the surface appear similar.

JB: Of course. I’ll stipulate that you can’t possibly ape the multi-trillion dollar machine that you’re critiquing…

TP: And I’m not doing it in secret.

JB: Right.

TP: But anyway…I just want to mess that up a little bit.

JB: Please. Feel free. We’re talking about your work. But when you spoke in Santa Fe, with Rebecca Solnit, I remember you talking about keeping tabs on certain mailboxes, and tracking down people who were in the CIA. Following them home.

TP: Oh sure.

JB: I don’t have trouble using the term spying. It’s clearly not the same thing as what the NSA is doing. It’s a structural metaphor. I think a lot of the best work uses relevant elements within its process as a way of commenting on process.

Having said that, I will not be the person to tell you how you’re working, or what you’re doing.

TP: (laughing)

JB: We’ll let somebody else be that guy.

TP: In terms of being in Afghanistan in 2006, I was there with an investigative journalist who’s a long-time friend and sometimes collaborator on different projects. There were about a dozen people around the world who were trying to understand what the global footprint of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program was.

In other words, the CIA had a program of kidnapping people around the world, and holding them in secret prisons and torturing them, basically.

JB: Right.

TP: And one of the things we were trying to figure out was where these prisons were. It wasn’t just us, we were talking with people at Human Rights Watch, for example…but we strongly suspected there was one outside of Kabul. And that’s been subsequently confirmed, that the place we’d found was indeed one.

We spent a couple of weeks in Afghanistan in 2006, interviewing everyone from former prisoners to local journalists to human rights workers. Aid workers. Basically as many people as we could find who’d come across evidence of this.

At that time in Afghanistan, the War in Iraq was going full on.

JB: Yeah.

TP: People had basically forgotten there was this other war going on in Afghanistan. I think that’s something the CIA was leveraging, quite a lot. They had this place they controlled relatively well, and the world’s eyes were simply not on it at that moment. People were looking at Iraq.

In Afghanistan at that time, and I’m sure it’s true now, it’s crawling with mercenaries and spies. There’s a whole class of people in the world who show up at wars, and get involved somehow.

JB: I was hoping to hear about the on-the-ground reality. The adrenaline pumping. Did you feel like you were any more at risk than anyone else in that city at the time? Did you feel like you were in any more danger than anyone else would be in a dangerous city? Were there people aware of what you were doing?

TP: There were definitely people aware of what we were doing. On the other hand, I didn’t feel in much more danger than other places. At that time, when we left, I was living in Oakland, California. When we were researching and talking about going to Kabul, my first impression was “No way. It’s a war zone. I don’t want to go anywhere near it.”

Then I tried to be a little more rational about it, and I looked up what are the kidnapping and murder statistics in Kabul? It turned out that Oakland was 10 times more dangerous, or something like that.

JB: Yeah, man. I had a former colleague whose journalistic mentor was shot in the face in broad daylight, because of a scandal about the…

TP: Chauncey Bailey. Is that what you mean?

JB: Yeah.

TP: Wow. The black muslims.

JB: Yeah, the guys who run the bakery, but are also the Oakland Mafia?

TP: Exactly.

JB: Anyway, moving on from Oaktown. Let’s talk about the idea that in the 21st Century, people now know that they’re under almost perfect digital surveillance, thanks to the work by you and your colleagues.

These stories pop up in the global media cycles for a day, or a week, and then there’s always the next way of commodifying the news. Do you think now, a couple of years after Edward Snowden’s revelations that led to “Citizenfour,” that people are too apathetic and tuned out?

Do you think there is a complacency, for the average American, in the face of this information?

TP: I’d break that up a little bit.

JB: Sure.

TP: In terms of popular culture and everyday life, we have no physical experience of mass surveillance. It seems kind of abstract to the normal person.

JB: Right.

TP: In addition to that, it is abstract because in order to understand it, and its implications, you need a pretty developed technical knowledge about how infrastructures work. How data works. How processing and protocols work. That sort of thing.

On one hand, I think that it’s difficult for people to become outraged about something that you don’t have a visceral feeling of in everyday life.

At the same time, for people who work with these infrastructures, and are a part of these industries, this has been a huge and ongoing thing. The Snowden stuff is still a HUGE deal in the world of information technology and network security. Everybody talks about it non-stop.

JB: I don’t doubt it.

TP: The Snowden documents showed the degree to which global telecommunications infrastructures had been totally, not only compromised, but weaponized. For everybody outside of the NSA, who works in that industry, this was a real punch in the gut. When you talk to people on the technical side, people are doing a lot of work to re-think what these infrastructures might look like in light of what the NSA is capable of doing.

Not just the NSA, but state actors in general, on one hand, and there’s been less concern on the corporate side, which I think is actually just as big a deal, if not a bigger deal than the state side. But I definitely think that a lot of these questions are on the cultural agenda in a way that they really weren’t at all, pre-Snowden.

JB: Unquestionably. So part one was, your average citizen may well be complacent, but that’s understandable, given that it’s an abstract concept, the degree to which their digital security has been compromised. It’s hard to get pitchfork angry about it.

But for the experts, powers like this are very hard to undo. It’s almost like the nuclear revolution. Once those bombs existed, they existed. So at the highest level, there’s a re-organization of the landscape, in a world in which these powers are out there, and are not likely to be constrained.

TP: I mean something very simple, which is that everybody from Google on one hand, to anarchist computer clubs in Berlin, on the other hand, are trying to figure out how to build much more secure systems. Obviously, they have different end games with them. Google wants to create a system that they can surveil, but that other people can’t break into.

Wheres someone like the Tor project is trying to build infrastructures that are, by design, very very difficult to conduct mass surveillance on. Both of those actors, at different ends of the spectrum, are nonetheless united by the revelations about the degree to which telecommunications infrastructures have been compromised by state actors such as the NSA.

JB: Right. The nefarious “they.” I had to get the local video store to hold a copy of “Citizenfour” for me, and I watched it the other day in anticipation of this interview.

I had my little notebook next to me, and it seemed like every tenth word in this film was “they.” The simple pronoun “they” came to stand in, obviously, for the NSA, but also the powers that be. The other guys. The bad guys.

Of course, it’s not that binary, good guys/bad buys, but how could I not ask. To you and your colleagues, who are “they?”

TP: I don’t generally use that language, “us” and “them.” It’s pretty blunt.

JB: It came up at least 50 times in “Citizenfour.” It was like a drinking game.

TP: (laughing.) I think you could create the “Citizenfour” drinking game around that.

JB: I think we just did.

TP: It’s generally a binary term that I don’t use, but I think in the context of “Citizenfour,” he probably meant “they,” the NSA. Right?

JB: Right.

TP: You can say that the NSA is not an internally consistent or unified actor in the world, but at the same time, it’s pretty close to being one. It is an organization with a tremendous footprint on the world, that does have some fairly specific goals that it’s trying to achieve. And it’s an organization that operates, in large part, in absolute secrecy, and with very little oversight.

JB: For me, and probably for many viewers, it was extremely disturbing to see the scenes where those guys openly lied to Congress. That’s evidence right there. “They,” or elements of the National Security Agency, do not believe they are beholden to the legislative branch of the US Government.

TP: The Directors. The people at the highest levels.

JB: People need to see the film.

TP: And they aren’t, by the way.

JB: Well, there’s another question I’d like to circle back to, about grass-roots versus grass-tops activism, so maybe we can lead into that.

I watched the film trying to find your imprint. There were several beautiful, aestheticized establishment shots, one of the big oversized satellite dishes. External moments. Brief interludes. I guessed those were yours. Is that right?

TP: Yeah. In general, a lot of the landscapes, I shot for that film.

JB: Did you do the gorgeous shots of Rio de Janeiro?

TP: No, I did not. Laura shot that, and she also shot the Utah data center stuff.


TP: We both shot it. There were other things in Germany that I shot, and in the UK. I shot about 90 hours of footage for the film, in about 12 or 15 different places in the world.

It wasn’t just shooting for “Citizenfour,” it was also doing research. Looking at infrastructures, and trying to understand how do mass surveillance infrastructures work, and how does that lead us to places in the world that we should pay attention to, and make images of, even if those images don’t have any obvious evidence of mass surveillance in them.

That was the process. The deal that I’d made with Laura was that whatever they didn’t use towards “Citizenfour,” I could use for my own work. There’s a video installation that was just shown in New York, (at Metro Pictures,) and is about to go up in Vienna that’s made out of tons of landscapes that were shot for “Citizenfour.”

JB: Fantastic. Was it in the investigatory research for the film that you started discovering the locations of these undersea cables?

TP: Yeah. Exactly. When I started researching the film, that’s one of the things I started thinking about a lot. This is something that Snowden, and also Bill Binney, who is another NSA whistleblower, kept underlining: the importance of cable stations and cable landing sites.

I had never even heard of that. I had no idea what it even was. So that’s one of the things that we ended up looking at.

JB: And now you’re going to be leading a scuba tour to show people these cables?

TP: (laughing.) Yes. I learned how to scuba dive earlier, in January or February. I’d been traveling around, trying to find different cables on the bottom of the ocean, around these different landing sites. Then photographing them underwater.

I know where a bunch of them are around Miami, so I was going to the art fair, (Art Basel Miami,) and I thought, “Well, let’s just put together a little expedition.”

JB: Let’s pivot a second to what may be a more difficult question. We agree that a lot of people ought to see “Citizenfour.” But as I was watching, and breaking it down, it felt like as important as this information is, and given that your average citizen is not terribly connected to that import, the film did feel to me somewhat inaccessible.

Maybe it was even constructed as such. Very little camera movement. The use of music is muted. There are long sections of lengthy, super-high level discourse.

And with your work, the people in the Art World, who pay attention to art a the highest level, the people who support it are a part of the 1%, not the 99%. I know you’ve worked with some of the Occupy folks, and I’m just sitting here as a critic, but it seems like we’re up against the grass-roots versus grass-tops conversation.

Does one try to influence mass culture directly, or does one try to influence the influencers? It felt to me like “Citizenfour,” and some of your work, falls into the latter category. How would you respond to that?

TP: I’m interested in being as ecumenical as possible in the work that I do. I try to make it as accessible as I possibly can, and try not to be an artist who is really pretentious, and says, “I’m not going to talk about what it is.” Because I think what it is is interesting, and important.

But I think we all speak to different audiences. As an artist, there is an art infrastructure that has specific kind of venues that people go and experience it within. You always have a self-selected audience, whether you’re writing for VICE magazine, or doing an independent film, or making art in museums. I think that’s OK.

Not everybody has to be all things to all people, all the time. For me, anyway, I just try to make the work as accessible as I possibly can, and to create as many different avenues into it as I possibly can. That’s really all I think you can expect of one person. That’s my approach towards it.

JB: You’re an artist, you make art, and as such, you engage in the world that supports it. OK.

It’s mind-boggling how many ways you’ve been making art in the last 6 or 7 years. I doubt you have much time for sleep. “The Last Pictures” is a project in which you launched a highly specialized piece of information-storage-technology into space, on a satellite that was at least intended to speak to Deep Time. To a future that nobody can possibly imagine. Is that about right?

TP: It was a project that was trying to underline the existence of Deep Time, and the fact that humans are making interventions into Deep Time. We wanted to inhabit that contradiction.

The provocation of the project was to say, “Humans are capable of altering the planet on cosmological time scales, and we can’t even imagine what a cosmological time scale is.”


JB: (laughing.)

TP: (laughing.)

JB: Awesome. One person could take his or her entire life to edit down a selection of photographs to represent humans.

TP: It’s an impossible project.

JB: Right. But you did it as one of many things. So what was your criteria? What goes through your head when you have a responsibility that nobody really could or should have, but you have it. How do you react? What do you do?

TP: For that project, we narrowed down the question a little bit. It wasn’t “How do we represent humans to some beings in the distant future,” the question we had was a little bit more specific. It was, “What are all the ways in which human progress has backfired?”


TP: What are the ways in which we have terraformed the Earth’s surface in our own image, which has paradoxically created the conditions for our own potential extinction? That was a little bit of a narrower question.

How do you represent this moment in which human activities have affected every grain of sand on every beach?

And the way I approached it was to create a research group at Creative Time, who commissioned the project. I had a group of mostly graduate students, but also other artists, and we spent the better part of a year having weekly seminars. Bringing in images, and talking about the project. Trying to think through these questions.

We also brought in different guest speakers who were in town. It really was a kind of seminar that we ran. In addition to that, I interviewed between 40 and 50 different people around the world who are involved in fields where these kinds of contradictions between progress and self-destruction were becoming very evident. From people studying bio-technology to people who were pure mathematicians, in some cases.

A huge range of sciences and social sciences and arts. By collecting these conversations, certain types of images would distill from them.

I didn’t actually pick that many of the images. I brought them all together, but it was a pretty collective effort.

JB: I assumed you had collaborators. But it’s very evident from our conversation that you don’t get to make the kind of work you’re making right now, you don’t get to have the kind of cultural imprint you have, without reams and reams of collaborators.

TP: Oh yeah.

JB: You’re building teams everywhere.

TP: For everything. Yes.

JB: For everything.

TP: Yeah, I have different teams for everything.

JB: But you have to.

TP: You have to.

JB: It’s fascinating.

TP: I don’t go into a studio at the beginning of the day, and then emerge at the end of the day with anything. (laughing.) Mostly, I email people and talk to people. On any given day, that’s mostly what I’m doing.

JB: Right. And you’re learning. You get to work with global experts in their own individual fields. That’s what an artist means in 2015.

We talked about the term. You get to do these things under the mantle of “artist,” and co-ordinate with other experts.

Speaking of which, you did a piece in the Fukushima exclusionary zone that I’d like to talk about. We have a program here at UNM-Taos, where I teach, and we bring in High School students from the rural communities around Northern New Mexico, and they get two free college classes each Friday.

One of the communities outside Taos is called Questa, and Chevron had a Molybdenum mine there that they recently closed, and it’s become a Superfund site. This town has to deal with the aftermath of losing all the jobs, and having their mountains ruined.

So one of my Questa students, Anna Marie Sanchez, wanted to ask a question about the Trinity Cube that you made in Fukushima.

TP: Sure.

JB: How was the radiation cube made? And if people aren’t allowed to view it for between 3 and 30,000 years, because it’s in the exclusion zone, how did you handle the radiation to build it?

TP: The exclusion zone is radioactive, but it’s not radioactive in the way that a nuclear submarine is radioactive, if it melts down.


TP: The radiation in the exclusion zone, in particular in the place where we were working, is basically the same level of radiation you would have if you took an inter-continental flight to Europe. If you got above the atmosphere and were bombarded with cosmic rays.

You can go into the zone for any number of hours at a time. I think it’s up to 6 hours.

JB: Suited up?

TP: Yeah. Sure. Absolutely. And it’s not considered harmful, basically. The idea is that you can go in and out of there, especially if you’re a resident, but you can’t live there.

And in terms of handling the material, it’s radioactive, but a very low level of radioactivity. Weirdly enough, it will become more radioactive the longer it stays there. That’s a part of the piece.

JB: Because it absorbs radioactivity from its surroundings? The outside is glass, and the inside is Trinitite, which comes from here. From New Mexico.

TP: Yeah.

JB: From the Trinity site. Did you have to come here to harvest it? Can you buy Trinitite on Ebay? How does one come by the materials themselves?

TP: The first rule of Trinitite is that you don’t talk about where you got the Trinitite. (laughing.)

JB: Is that a David Fincher reference? I think that was.

TP: Yeah.

JB: Right on. I love it.

TP: Trinitite has been illegal to collect since 1974, but Trinitite collected before 1974 is out there. You can get it from different collectors.

JB: I was just curious. I didn’t know it was illegal.

So this is predominantly a photography blog, but we like to talk about art when we can. We now have a picture of you, the modern, hyper-successful artist who’s working in photography, research, video, sculpture, film, space. All sorts of things.

You’ve lived on the West Coast, the East Coast, now in Germany. But at some point, you were in Chicago. I was just there for the first time, pretty much, and had almost no free time, as I was at the Filter Photo Festival.

I carved out an hour, and visited the Charles Ray show that’s currently up at the Art Institute of Chicago. Did you have a chance to see that?

TP: No. I haven’t seen it. I haven’t been to Chicago for a long time. I went to graduate school there, but I have not seen that show.

JB: OK. I was asking because he’s making these sculptures that have these very obvious classical references, and he’s working with teams, but the sculptures are made out of machine-tooled stainless steel, and will last forever. They’re referencing the past, but speaking to the future.

It made me think, in particular of “The Last Pictures,” but of the way you’re working. You’re making an imprint that will outlast us, and then trying to figure out what to say with that imprint.

I was wondering if you were familiar with the work, or had thought about it all, and it sounds like the answer is “No.”
That’s a quick answer.

TP: The quick answer is “No,” the longer answer is I think when you’re making art, you’re always in a dialogue with your ancestors, and your descendants. The way that I think about it, anyway, is that you’re part of a conversation that is on a horizontal axis, in the sense that you’re talking to the other humans now.

But it’s also on a vertical axis, in the sense that you’re talking to the artists that were alive before you, and you’re talking to the artists who will be alive in the future as well.

JB: Can I hit you with one more question?

TP: Yeah, one more, and then I’ve got to go. I’ve got a conference with a space company.

JB: Exactly. How perfect.

I’m sure you’re familiar with Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash,” and how so much of it has come true. Lately, I’ve been trying to put some of my interview subjects on the future prognostication seat.

I read where you were discussing the degree to which drones would become ubiquitous in the future, and people know about Amazon, and their plans for a drone delivery fleet. We didn’t even get to talk about your photographs of drones.

How will people’s lives be different when drones are everywhere?

TP: I think about drones as one very small part of a much larger landscape of automation in general. Automation of labor, on one hand, and automation of analytical work, on the other.

In terms of automation of labor, drones would be a part of a landscape that includes self-driving cars, which will have a huge, huge economic impact on the country. Especially if you look at something like the trucking industry.

Being a truck driver is one of the few jobs that a modestly educated person can have right now, and make a living at all. Particularly, if you look at different economies of the South, the income generated by truck driving is just massive.

So when those jobs start to go away, it’s going to create a huge amount of economic distress, and even further exacerbate the tendencies that we’ve seen in terms of a bifurcation between the 1% and everybody else.

JB: Sure.

TP: In terms of the automation of analysis, we’re already there, it’s just not evenly distributed yet. You’re going to see a world in which much of your activities will be quantified.

It’s very easy to imagine a world in which, for example, the insurance rates on your automobile will fluctuate every month, based on what kind of material you’re posting on social media. What kinds of books you might be buying. What kind of activities you might be engaged with.

Your health insurance rates might fluctuate based on how much time you spend at the gym, and what kind of data your Fitbit sends off to Microsoft, or whomever. These kinds of things, which already exist, will be much more pervasive.

It will add up to a society that, in general, is much less free.


Trinity Cube
Irradiated Glass from Fukushima Exclusion Zone, Trinitite
Trevor Paglen; Metro Pictures, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco


Trinity Cube
Irradiated Glass from Fukushima Exclusion Zone, Trinitite
Trevor Paglen; Metro Pictures, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco


Trinity Cube
Irradiated Glass from Fukushima Exclusion Zone, Trinitite
Trevor Paglen; Metro Pictures, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco

No. 15 Black Site, Kabul, Afghanistan  C-print 2006 Trevor Paglen; Metro Pictures, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco

No. 15
Black Site, Kabul, Afghanistan
Trevor Paglen; Metro Pictures, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco

No. 87 They Watch the Moon, 2010 C-print Trevor Paglen; Metro Pictures, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco

No. 87
They Watch the Moon, 2010
Trevor Paglen; Metro Pictures, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco

No. 97 Untitled (Reaper Drone), 2010 C-print Trevor Paglen; Metro Pictures, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco

No. 97
Untitled (Reaper Drone), 2010
Trevor Paglen; Metro Pictures, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco

No. 103 National Reconnaissance Office Ground Station (ADF-SW) Jornada del Muerto, New Mexico Distance ~16 Miles, 2012 C-print Trevor Paglen; Metro Pictures, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco

No. 103
National Reconnaissance Office Ground Station (ADF-SW)
Jornada del Muerto, New Mexico
Distance ~16 Miles, 2012
Trevor Paglen; Metro Pictures, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco

No 172 Bahamas Internet Cable System (BICS- 1)  NSA/GCHQ-Tapped Undersea Cable Atlantic Ocean 2015 C-print  Trevor Paglen; Metro Pictures, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco

No 172
Bahamas Internet Cable System (BICS- 1)
NSA/GCHQ-Tapped Undersea Cable
Atlantic Ocean
Trevor Paglen; Metro Pictures, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco


TAutonomy Cube
Mixed media
350mm x 350mm x 350mm
Trevor Paglen; Metro Pictures, New York; Altman Siegel, San Francisco

The Daily Edit – GUP : Sebastian Palmer

- - The Daily Edit

Choque, 27, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.
Choque, 27, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.

José Maria, 55, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.

José Maria, 55, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.

Ariane, 19, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.

Ariane, 19, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.

Moisés, 36, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.

Moisés, 36, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.

Patron Saint of Impossible Causes, Saint Rita de Cassia, is glued on the window overlooking the room; João, a kindergarten teacher has just become a grandfather. He has given up his home so that his daughter and grandchild have a better start in life.

Patron Saint of Impossible Causes, Saint Rita de Cassia, is glued on the window overlooking the room; João, a kindergarten teacher has just become a grandfather. He has given up his home so that his daughter and grandchild have a better start in life.

GOD’; Lisene currently works as a manicurist in an up-market salon. Working 6 days a week she has been able to save enough money to buy 2 cows for her brother who lives in the countryside and looks after her child. One day she hopes to travel.

GOD’; Lisene currently works as a manicurist in an up-market salon. Working 6 days a week she has been able to save enough money to buy 2 cows for her brother who lives in the countryside and looks after her child. One day she hopes to travel.

The orange cover of a book entitled “how to interpret your dreams” sits next to Kris; a single mother who lost all her savings due to fraud. Her sole income is from selling toys on the street corner.

The orange cover of a book entitled “how to interpret your dreams” sits next to Kris; a single mother who lost all her savings due to fraud. Her sole income is from selling toys on the street corner.

Edvaldo; a cook, works 7 days a week. Last year he won a competition to train as a chef in Europe but was disqualified when it was discovered he didn’t have a high enough literacy level.

Edvaldo; a cook, works 7 days a week. Last year he won a competition to train as a chef in Europe but was disqualified when it was discovered he didn’t have a high enough literacy level.

Tom Blomfield, founder + CEO of Mondo bank . Bloomberg Markets.

Tom Blomfield, founder + CEO of Mondo bank . Bloomberg Markets.

Baroness Denise Kingsmill, chairman of Mondo Bank. Bloomberg Markets.

Baroness Denise Kingsmill, chairman of Mondo Bank. Bloomberg Markets.



Guide to Unique Photography

Photographer: Sebastian Palmer

Heidi: How did the instagram take over come about, are you invited?
Sebastian: Yes. I was invited by GUP

Do you shoot new content for this or does it come from your archives?
All the content came from my archives. I guess that It would have been interesting to shoot a new project specifically for the takeover but the call came in quite late and at the time I was bogged down with other work in London (so maybe a fresh / new series of images might not have been possible anyway)

Is there a print component to this?
Yes. I will be featured in their 10th Anniversary issue. GUP #47 – The Big Ten
(showcasing images not posted in the takeover)

How do you decide what you are going to post over the course of the 10 days?
I wanted to keep to showing just my personal work. So I decided to post a small selection from those projects based in Brazil along with images that might help to explain my surroundings or way of thinking.

You studied French, History, Economics and Sociology prior to becoming a photographer. What was your turning point to become an artist?
I don’t really see there being a turning point such just a coming back to. I was always artistic and from a really young age I was always doing something creative (drawing, painting, sculpture, guitar etc etc etc)

However, when I went to a new school at the age of 13 it all fell by the wayside (for numerous reasons) and as the years progressed I began to focus on subjects that were “going to get me a good degree and make me successful in later life”…. it just took me a while to realize that I had been following the wrong path (whilst at university) and that I needed to get back to what I had left behind all those years ago.

Is PROJECTS in your portfolio an expression that combines your previous studies and your current life as an artist
Possibly, maybe….. It’s a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario (which one came first)…. I’m not sure how much those subjects actually influenced my work. I see it more in reverse, I chose the subjects because they interested me to some degree.

Artist Statements

[All images were shot on location in Cracolândia, São Paulo, Brasil]
Over the past 3 years I have been living with and photographing sections of Brazilian society that have been marginalised and discriminated against. It is my aim to create a body of work that raises awareness for vulnerable sections of society; to give them a voice and in doing so hope that measures can be taken to ensure that they live in dignity.
The latest chapter of my project focuses on crack-cocaine addicts.
I felt that shooting a portrait series of close up, black + white head shots was the best way to humanise my sitters – by minimising any distractions and allowing the viewer to come into direct face to face contact with them.
Although this subject matter has had a lot of exposure with Brazil hosting the World Cup, I believe that it has only worsened the situation by further dividing an already fractured society and reinforcing negative views and prejudices. Reportage style images often taken from a far and with no interaction have only helped to strengthen the “us” and “them” mentality.
Separate from us. Away from us. Far from us. Nothing to do with us.
In order to banish this misconception I needed to get as close to my subjects as possible.
To interact. To communicate. To participate. To let you look into their eyes and realise that they too are human beings; that they too are a part of this society in which we all belong.
Are we able to look at ourselves in the mirror and face uncomfortable truths?
In this series I have been living in an illegally occupied building in downtown São Paulo, Brazil with some of the 70,000 people that migrate to the city every year in search of a better life.
Often arriving from the countryside with little or no money, no skills and high rates of illiteracy their journey is a tough one. They can not afford to pay for rent and the majority can not find employment. Those that do manage to find a job are underpaid and often work 7 days a week to make ends meet.
Yet despite these conditions and the hardships that they face, everyone that I encountered found the strength to carry on through hope. It is this theme that I wanted to explore.
I have used diptychs as a means to expand the narrative. Always using items found close to or belonging to the subject. These detail shots are clues so often overlooked and dismissed but that I see as fragments of information which help to complete the puzzle.
All images are shot in camera. I have made use of long shutter, deliberate camera movement and the placing of items in front of the lens in order to allow me to create an aesthetic quality and my interpretation of the subjects’ utopia.
São Paulo Nights focuses on transgender prostitutes.
Transgender persons in Brazil are treated as 3rd class citizens. They are discriminated against on a daily basis and are marginalised by society.
They experience such injustices from an early age when they first appear to be different and as such many do not finish school.
Nonetheless, even those with an education still find it hard to find work. As a result, many turn to prostitution to make a living.
This, combined with the majority of societies fear, ignorance, hypocrisy and lack of education on the issues means transexuals are caught in an ongoing downward spiral of discrimination and marginalisation [being subject to violence, social exclusion, drug abuse, crime, exploitation and severe health risks].
Many of the photos were printed, then ‘tampered’ with (painted, etched, bleached, burnt etc) and then re-photographed in an attempt to portray not only Brazilian societies views + actions towards transgender persons but also the struggle and human injustices that they face on a daily basis.



Contact GUP here

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 5.00.18 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 5.00.24 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 5.00.29 PM

 Bloomberg Markets

What sort of direction did the magazine give you?
In the beginning I was sent through some reference shots of my own work so I could get a feel of what direction the magazine wanted to take the shoot.  However, although the style of the images looked similar they were all achieved by using different techniques and lighting setups. Also, they liked some elements from one shot and wanted to combine it with elements from another shot. So, we sat down and mapped out a rough plan of what we were going to shoot and how we were going to do it, with the understanding that things might change on the day.

Tell us how you used your creative freedom? Was it difficult to earn?
As mentioned above, nothing was set in stone, so to speak. Bloomberg understood that to achieve the look that they wanted we would have to experiment on the day. I like to see it as organized chaos. I set a starting point (a foundation) knowing that if I do steps 1+2 I will get a certain look. However, from there you can play around – get the subject to move more or less, move the camera, increase the number of flashes or their duration, play with shutter speeds etc etc etc – the possibilities are endless. Once you see the shots coming through you can decide to follow a certain path and push things in one direction or maybe dial it back and go another way.

No, I don’t think that it was difficult to earn. I think that it has more to do with the fact that Bloomberg were very open minded and willing to experiment. (something that I find a lot of the industry is scared to do these days by always playing it safe in the fear that they might upset what they believe their readers want to see)

Bloomberg is known for spectacular photography and creative leaps. Knowing this did you want to take some creative risks?
Of course. I think that it would be silly not to. On the day of the shoot we did try out many different things, some of which never made the final cut. However, there are always going to be constraints, such as time and money. Also, you have to be aware that you are working for a client and no matter how creative they are they still need to put together an issue where all of the photo pieces are going to tie together.

The Daily Promo: Tuan Lee

- - The Daily Promo




Tuan_Lee_Promo_4532 Tuan_Lee_Promo_4533 Tuan_Lee_Promo_4534 Tuan_Lee_Promo_4535 Tuan_Lee_Promo_4537 Tuan_Lee_Promo_4538 Tuan_Lee_Promo_4539 Tuan_Lee_Promo_4540 Tuan_Lee_Promo_4541 Tuan_Lee_Promo_4542



Tuan Lee

Who printed it?
I printed with Jennifer O’Neill at Marina Graphics. Very experienced and supportive throughout the entire process.

Who designed it?
David Hsia, a design director here in LA and happens to my buddy.

Who edited the images?
David and I did the final edit together, but I did consider some input from some consultants.

How many did you make?
I printed 500.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I do one substantial promo like this piece once a year. Then I’ll send out single sheet promos as support and as new work gets created.

Tell us about the pacing of the promo.
Well, there is an easter egg built into the design of this promo. If you notice, its not blinded. Yes, it flips like a traditional book, but its also a series of double sided posters! And they keep their relationships together either way, sports or traditional fashion. (Although, there are two spreads that are exceptions.) That way my audience can select what they want. And we wanted to show how much thought and planning went into this. The hope is that it’s associated with how much thought and process I put into my work.

Chicago’s Filter Photo Festival – Part 2

by Jonathan Blaustein

Portfolio reviews are great events for a number of reasons. Primarily, they’re a place where photographers can go to build community, and get feedback on their work.

Do not underestimate the value of both endeavors. As I tell people in my 21st Century Hustle lecture, (which evolved from this very column,) your peers are the people most likely to help boost your career. If you have their back, in most cases, they’ll have yours.

But what if you’re working in a vacuum? What if, like me, you don’t live in a major city with a teeming and supportive photo community? Visiting a festival with a portfolio review component, and there are now countless across the world, can be a great way to meet new people, have fun, allow ideas to cross-pollinate, and likely have a laugh or two along the way.

As our long-time readers know, my photo career received a massive boost from two consecutive visits to Review Santa Fe in 2009-10, and a trip to FotoFest in 2012. Hell, I’m going back to FotoFest this March as a photographer, as I have some new work I’d like to introduce to the world.

Having now been a reviewer 6 or 7 times, I’d say I have enough experience to know of what I speak. And as I said last week, Filter is a terrific festival, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. But no experience is perfect, and you know I can’t pass up a teachable moment, so…

Filter, like most reviews, is not juried. That means, from a reviewing perspective, you have no idea who is going to turn up at your table at any given moment. It might be a highly trained artist, with an MFA and a long exhibition record. Or it may be a hobbyist who’s been shooting pictures for decades, for fun, and believes his or her work is ready for the big time.

My strategy is to ask a few questions at the beginning, to suss out someone’s background, what they’re looking for, and how I can best help them achieve those goals. I take the job very seriously, and work hard to be of service to whoever’s sitting across from me. Portfolio reviews cost money, and I don’t want to be the schmuck who makes a photographer doubt the investment of time and resources.

As soon as I got back from Filter, Rob co-incidentally did a post where a photographer asked him whether it was worth attending a portfolio review event without a portfolio? Could an Ipad alone make it worthwhile? I couldn’t help making a snarky tweet about it, because that’s what Twitter’s for. (The gist of it was, if you aren’t prepared, why go?)

Therefore, allow me to share some advice that you might or might not have heard/read before:

If you’re going to invest the money, invest the time. Do research on who will be at an event. Choose your reviewers carefully. Figure out what type of work they publish, exhibit, or support in their organizations. (Don’t leave it to chance.)

Print up the best, most cohesive work you can, in a consistent size. Put the prints in a nice box. Decide ahead of time what type of questions you want to ask, and what type of advice you’re looking for. Know as much as possible about each person you’re sitting with, to ensure that you’ll suck the marrow from each 20 minute session.

This type of preparation is VITAL.

I had three reviews in a row, one afternoon, where the photographers came to my table knowing nothing about me whatsoever. Not my name, my biases towards edgy/artsy work, nor the type of photos that are published in the NYT Lens blog. Each sat down, as ignorant of what I could do for them as a rabbit staring at a coyote, hoping he’ll offer up a carrot for lunch. (Excuse me, Mr. Coyote, but why are you putting my head in your mouth? Are there carrots in there?)

Of course, it’s a difficult conversation from that point on. One person understood me to say, “You don’t know who I am? How do you not know who I am? You’ve never heard of the famous Jonathan Blaustein?” as if I had an ego the size of Trump Tower Chicago. Would I really say something like that? Of course not. (But conversations are two ways streets, and sometimes, they go wrong.)

What I said was, do your homework. Show up prepared. Treat your aspiring photo career with the same focus and rigor one uses in one’s day job. Get the best bang for your buck, or don’t bother.

That advice seems obvious, and I apologize if you feel I’ve wasted the 5 minutes it’s taken you to read this article. But I happen to think it’s worth saying, and it does apply beyond the portfolio review environment.

It’s a rough world out there. Tens of thousands of trained photographers are battling for very few slots in galleries, museum exhibitions, shooting for newspapers or magazines.

Everybody wants acclaim, but there’s only so much to go around, even in a world of viral attention spans.

So if you’re not prepared to do what it takes, I’d suggest you don’t bother. There’s nothing wrong with doing art only for yourself. Most people operate that way.

But if you’re going to seek out an audience of perfect strangers, you ought to respect them, and yourself, by working as hard as you can to make sure your pictures, and your business practices, are worthy of their respect.

Rant over, I can honestly say that my time in Chicago offered many of the same benefits that photographers get: great conversation, deep inspiration, new ideas, fresh energy. Once again, I thank the Filter folks for inviting me, as I’m grateful for the experience.

Now it’s time to show you some more of the best work I saw at Chicago’s Filter Photo Festival last month. (In no particular order.)

We’ll lead off with Bruce Morton, whose work I showed here last year, after meeting him at Photo NOLA in New Orleans. (Another festival I highly recommend.) Bruce blew me away, as he’s the kind of guy who radiates positive energy. The good vibes beam out of his perma-smile like electricity off a taser. (Don’t tase me, bro.)

Bruce was showing pictures from his edgy series, “The Audience,” in which he photographed spectators at all types of events near his home turf in rural Illinois. They’re not exactly flattering, nor are they mean-spirited. But they are fascinating to look at, IMHO.

I’d also like to add that lately, since English-photo-world-good-guy Stuart Pilkington had an unexpected stroke, I’ve been thinking a lot about how quickly life can change. How easily we take our relative good fortune for granted. When I asked Bruce how he was doing, in passing during our email communication, he told me that he had suddenly lost almost all the vision in his left eye, due to wet macular degeneration. It won’t get better, and he’s now mostly blind in one eye. Just like that.

So let’s all send some good thoughts Bruce’s way. (When you have a moment, of course.)













Susan Rosenberg Jones showed me one of my favorite portfolios at Filter, shortly after we looked at a joyless project about her fellow tenants in a rent-stabilized building in Tribeca. It was stilted, which made the next pictures that much more shocking.

Susan lost her husband a few years ago, which is of course very sad. But then she met and married the one and only Joel Roskind, and they’re very happy. It just so happens that Joel Roskind is a Jewish guy who likes to walk around their apartment naked all the time. What? These pictures are therefore warm, hilarious, and witty. It’s not often we get to ogle an ass like Joel Roskind’s.

Second Time Around-1

Second Time Around-2

Second Time Around-3

Second Time Around-4

Second Time Around-5

Second Time Around-6

Second Time Around-7

Second Time Around-8

Second Time Around-9

Second Time Around-10

Second Time Around-11

Second Time Around-13

Second Time Around-14

Second Time Around-15

Second Time Around-16

Second Time Around-19

David Freese brought a portfolio of images from his series “East Coast: Arctic to Tropic,” which will come out in book form next year. It is an examination of the East Coast, from North to South, that attempts to convey the hazards of melting ice caps, and rising sea levels. It’s hard to engender actual fear in the populace, when the change creeps along more slowly than a drunk turtle.

But by the end of the series, all that water began to take on a bit of menace. The sea itself felt like Jaws, looming out there, ready to strike. All that water, and all those cities, so very vulnerable to its power.

3 Greenland Ice Cap, near Kangerlussuaq copy

10  Greenland, Illulisat into Disko Bay copy

52 Saglek Fjord striations 2 copy

62 Gros Morne, Western Brook Pond, Nfndlnd copy

104 Boston copy

110 Orient Point, Long Island, NY copy

115 New York Harbor and Statue of Liberty copy

122 Arthur Kill waterway, the chemical coast copy

124 roller coaster Seaside Heights NJ copy

130 Cape May NJ  copy

139 Delaware River copy

151 Fishermans Island Ches Bay Bridge copy

158 Overlea MD copy

174 coal loading Norf and West, Norfolk VA copy

180 Outer Banks NC copy

210 North Key Largo, FL copy

211 Miami copy

Jack Long sat down at my table, and almost immediately I noticed that he was missing some digits. As I once almost cut off my thumb, I felt an immediate kinship with the dude. And he gives off the vibe of a carpenter on payday too, which was cool.

Jack showed me some pictures that he called liquid sculptures. He has his own process where he whips liquid to the point that it rises in the air, and he photographs it at 1/8000 of a second. (I guessed the shutter speed correctly.) Some of them were kind of decorative, but as we went along, others began to refer to sea creatures, or psychedelic aliens from a parallel dimension. Cool shit.


02Silver Swamp


04Green Goblin

Fluid suspension Liquid Sculpture

06Three Tiers

I met Krista Wortendyke during the portfolio walk Saturday night. She had a photograph that showed three images of war; one real, one from cinema, and a third from a video game. They were all hyper-real, and the mashup made a strong point about the degree to which the fetishization of violence is ubiquitous. The series is called,(re): media, and I think you’ll dig it.











Last, (but of course not least,) we’ve got Victor Yañez-Lazcano, a Mexican-American photographer based in Chicago. (He also works at Latitude, the print studio that is run under the Filter umbrella.) This is one time where the order does matter, as I looked at Victor’s work at the end of the last party, on the final night.

His was likely the 60th portfolio I saw, but I’d been told his work was great, and I certainly thought so afterwards. Victor’s family came from Mexico, so he’s examining identity, and what it means to be Mexican-American in a family of Mexicans. Apparently, he spent some time shooting here in New Mexico, (down South,) so how could I not share the pictures with you.













OK. That’s it for today. We’ll have one more Filter article for you next week, and as a special treat, a 2 part interview with a massively important artist as well. Stay tuned. (Same Bat time. Same Bat channel.)