This Week in Photography Books: Ed Eckstein

- - Photography Books

 

My son just saw “Airplane” for the first time. (Thanks, Dad.)

He’s turning 10, so I guess he was ready. I certainly remember watching it as a kid, laughing so hard that my stomach hurt. But that was back when the movie was fresh, and the references made sense.

Not surprisingly, as it’s 2017, Theo felt uncomfortable with the “jive turkey” scenes, as what was acceptable in 1980 is considered highly racist today.

He also didn’t know what to make of the Hare Krishna’s. I mean, how do you explain that to the Internet generation? It’s not like we’ve got bald, dancing hippies at airports anymore.

(Instead, we have bomb-sniffing dogs, and lots of smelly bare feet.)

In a weird way, I miss some elements of the monoculture: the pop references, and films, that everyone got.

Where’s the Beef.
Joe Isuzu.
Eddie Murphy doing Gumby.

The comedic movies from the 70’s and 80’s, in particular, stand out as cultural icons that have not really been replaced. (Well, I guess Alec Baldwin doing Trump comes close.)

If you ask anyone between 30-50 about the funniest movie of all time, the odds are they’re going to say something with Bill Murray in it.

“Caddyshack,” most likely.

The fact it had peak-funny Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and Rodney Dangerfield makes it hard to pick anything else. But I could just as easily say that about “Stripes.”

It featured peak-funny Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and John Candy, with a scary/funny performance by Warren Oates to boot. (How sad is it that three of those guys are dead now?)

“Stripes” gets pushed down the list a bit, for many, because it was really two movies in one. The first part, with all the classic lines, (“You call me Francis, I’ll kill ya,”) was set in basic training.

Show me something funnier than John Candy mud-wrestling.
I dare you.

But the second part, which morphed into an Anti-Soviet action movie, is a bit harder to defend. Completely different tone, and seeing Warren Oates become a good guy was hard for my young brain to process. (Ah, such a simpler time, the 20th Century. Our good guys were good, our bad guys were bad, and it was OK to chant “USA” without irony.)

Seriously, I think my entire understanding of basic training comes from “Stripes,” and I guess that says a lot about me. I don’t have any family members in the military, I never considered joining up, and I was born just after the end of the draft.

For me, “The Draft” means 20 hours of ESPN each Spring, watching heavily-made-up former football players dissecting clips of college footballers whose names they can barely pronounce. (Yet still I watch…)

It’s hard for most people to relate to a world in which the government could force you to fight, and often die, no matter what you thought about the situation. We are so far removed from that time, it’s hard to imagine a world in which that many Americans had skin in the game.

These days, a small minority of American families do the heavy lifting for all of us. And, most of the time, it’s lower income kids, from rural areas lacking job opportunities, that end up dying for our “freedom.” (Yes, I’m putting quotes around the word, b/c with Trump around, it seems like a much shakier proposition.)

Thankfully, (and not unexpectedly, if you know this column,) a photo book turned up in the mail the other day that puts this issue before our eyes, straight outta the early 70’s.

“Grunts: The Last US Draft, 1972” is a new book by Ed Eckstein, published by Schiffer Publishing in Pennsylvania, and it provides a glimpse into the last draft class in American History. (This time I don’t mean the NFL.)

This photo book shows us a set of pictures that Ed Eckstein made in 1972, when he embedded with a group of draftees, and followed them from Philly down to basic training in South Carolina. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get “Stripes” out of my head, when I was looking at this book. (Yes, I’m a weirdo.)

But the thing about a documentary photo project is that it shows us the unvarnished situation, in clean black and white, and eventually, I was able to see these young men as people, rather than stand in’s for John Winger and crew.

While this book gives us something we otherwise wouldn’t get to see, (a surefire way to get reviewed,) I wouldn’t say the pictures are dynamite. They’re good, and in some cases very good, but in general, I don’t think they’re terribly visceral or emotion-grabbing.

Rather, they feel historical to me.
And important, as such.

There are little bits of humor, like the little tags on the uniforms, made “For Soldiers of Distinction.”

How great is that?

Even better is the promotional poster, featuring Richard Nixon, that promises “Equal Employment Opportunity” from the Federal Government.

Let that sink in for a moment.

In one little advertisement, Richard Nixon is presented as less of a racist/sexist than our current President. Nixon, the past poster-child for how to be a terrible President, in retrospect looks like a balanced statesman compared to our current Asshole-in-Chief.

Then we get a signs that says, “When you fire think “BRAS”: Breathe/Relax/Aim/Squeeze.” No f-ing way something like that passes muster in 2017. Misogyny may still be alive and well, but with a now-partially-female military, tacky puns like that would never cut it.

And how about the guy in full karate-chop mode? How much you want to bet he’s making a Bruce Lee-esque karate-chop cry? Hiiiii-yah!

It’s true I’m making light of a situation that demands a bit more respect. It’s likely that some of the guys in this book went on to die in Vietnam.

Nothing funny about that.

But that’s kind of my point. As the military burden shifted from almost-all-of-us to a select demographic in this country, the reality of War, and its costs, has become buffeted, to a dangerous degree.

Which is why I’m glad Ed Eckstein sent this book along to remind us, in this time of “Rocket Man,” that none of this is a laughing matter.

Bottom Line: Vintage, black and white documents of the last draft class

To Purchase “Grunts,” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

Personal Project: Joey L

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Joey L

Overview: WE CAME FROM FIRE: Portraits of Kurdistan’s Armed Struggle Against ISIS

The ancient Kurdish homeland is partitioned between modern-day Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Oppression by state powers led Kurds to embrace armed struggle, yet failed to produce a lasting resolution. As the new war against ISIS dismantle nation-state borders, the once persecuted have risen to secure the power vacuum.

 Artist Statement:

WE CAME FROM FIRE: Portraits of Kurdistan’s Armed Struggle Against ISIS is an independent and self-funded portrait photography series that transformed into a book project. It observes a controversial ideological guerrilla movement that has manifested itself into a sophisticated army in response to a crisis threatening the existence of an ethnic minority.

After a ruthless and exhausting 6 years of war in Syria, only the most ideologically strong militias have flourished, absorbing various fragmented factions and uniting them under strict philosophies. The statistics flooding our daily news cycles rarely capture the mental convictions that can turn the tide of war, often surprising analysts with years of experience observing from afar.

When one crosses into the North East of war-torn Syria, and is catapulted into a worldview crafted by the Kurdish guerrilla. Conversations often drift to conspiracy theories. It seems ISIS is just the beginning of a long list of culprits plotting to destroy the Kurdish identity. Oddly, the conspiracies begin to make sense. The militia’s secretive hierarchy vanishes due to its compartmentalization, and you find yourself among individuals who left their families with the intention of defending their culture and way of life.
 
I have never felt comfortable calling myself a “war photographer.” In the past, I have photographed projects highlighting the plight of minority groups, but never in a war environment. When finally approaching a project on the Kurds, despite my lack of experience in a war zone, it became necessary to focus on their fighters—the armed defenders of a language and distinct cultural practices outlawed by every state the Kurds live.

Portrait photography is an external medium that can remind us of our shared humanity, but it is also the best device for the nearly impossible goal of depicting the inner ideology which has fueled the Kurdish movement to rise to such a position of power.

To see more of this project, click here.

Purchase the book in pre-order: https://joeylshop.com/products/guerrilla-fighters-of-kurdistan-fine-art-photography-book

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/232453075

The full film can be viewed for free here:  www.BornFromUrgency.com

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After 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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

Pricing & Negotiating: Lifestyle Shoot for Technology Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Lifestyle images of professional talent using a mobile application.

Licensing: Web Collateral and Web Advertising use of up to 15 images in perpetuity.

Location: A residential property

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Lifestyle specialist

Client: A technology company

Here is the estimate:

pricing and negotiating, lifestyle shoot, production, photography production, wonderful machine, estimating, photographer pricing, craig oppenheimer

Job Description and Fees: The client was a relatively new player in the mobile app space, and while they weren’t quite a startup, they were young in the industry and about to make a big marketing push. The concept for the shoot focused on two people using the app and accompanying accessories on various mobile devices within a house, and they also needed environmental still life images of those devices as well. The usage was entirely web-based, and they planned to primarily use the images on their website, and potentially run web ads with a handful of them as well. While the requested usage included a perpetual duration, the devices themselves and the technology used would limit the shelf life of the images to about a year, as they’d quickly become outdated with new product launches (by the client and by third party retailers).

I priced the first image at $2,000, images #2-3 at $1,000 each, images #4-6 at $500 each and images #7-15 at $100 each. That totaled $6,400, which I rounded up to an even $6,500. I’d typically extrapolate this number to account for the perpetual duration, but the shelf life in addition to the fact that the client was handling the majority of the production (which meant that it wouldn’t be a huge time/energy commitment for the photographer) helped justify leaving the fee right at $6,500. Speaking of the production elements, I made sure to note everything that the client would be providing which included the location, casting/talent, hair/makeup/wardrobe/prop styling, production coordination and catering.

Photographer Scout/Pre-Production Day(s): I included one day for the photographer to go scout the property with the client. I’d typically include $1,000 for this, but we were trying to keep the estimate as lean as possible, and based on the time crunch, it was apparent that the scout day would likely be limited to just a few hours, which helped justify bringing the fee down a bit.

Assistants: Despite a request from the client to limit the crew to just one assistant, I included two for the shoot day as we anticipated the need to move a decent amount of equipment around through the house (and potentially outside) throughout the day. Based on the market, this rate was appropriate to bring on the necessary team.

Digital Tech: I included a tech for the shoot day who would help to display the images to the client as they were being captured. I included the expense of their laptop workstation in the subsequent equipment fee.

Equipment: This accounted for $800 in cameras/lenses and $700 in grip/lighting rentals, in addition to $500 for a laptop workstation.

Mileage, Parking, Misc.: Since the client was providing the majority of the production coordination, there wasn’t much else that needed to be included, however we did add a couple hundred dollars to account for minor miscellaneous expenses that might arise.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: While the digital tech would be organizing the files during the shoot, I included $250 for the photographer to go through all of the images after the shoot to remove any that they felt weren’t appropriate and create a web gallery of a reasonable number of photos for the client to consider.

Color Correction/File Cleanup/Delivery of 15 Selects: The agency wasn’t looking for any major retouching or compositing from the photographer, and only requested that they adjust color and apply very basic processing to the images prior to sending the high resolution selects back to the agency. I included $100 per image to accomplish this.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.

Hindsight: We’ve estimated many projects previously where the client informs us that they are coordinating the majority of the production elements, and sometimes it doesn’t always go smoothly. If there’s an agency involved with an internal producer, that typically increases our confidence in their ability to line up a successful shoot day, but when an agency isn’t involved, and when a client is seemingly inexperienced, that definitely gives us pause, and it’s hard to reflect that feeling in the estimate. Fortunately, this particular client did a great job and streamlined the production with ease and professionalism, which was a huge relief. The shoot went well, and the images reflected the preparedness of the client.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

The Daily Edit – People Magazine: Bradley Meinz

- - The Daily Edit

People Magazine

On Set Photo Editor: Rachael Lieberman
Photography Director: 
Catriona Ni Aolain Lindbaek
Creative Director: Andrea Dunham
Photographer: Bradley Meinz
Heidi: How long did you have for this shoot?
Bradley: I was given ten minutes total for the shoot, which took place during the press junket at the Four Season’s hotel in Beverly Hills, California.  The shoot was to promote the new Samuel l. Jackson and  Ryan Reynolds film, Hit Man’s Bodyguard.

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
I had a call with the magazine’s photo director in NYC prior to the shoot, she really wanted to get a reportage style image rather than a controlled portrait on seamless,  however to cover all bases I was asked to get both!

With only 10 minutes to shoot, what type of exchange did you have with the subjects and the publicist?
The publicist were mainly just a voice to keep the shoot to the ten minute limit!  I introduced myself to talent when they stepped into my set (first shoot was seamless) and I gave them only a little direction asking them to have fun with it.

What are your go to tools for managing the stress of this type of shoot?
I always try and tell myself to stay in the moment, often times these types of high profile celebrity shoots take on there own personality.  I never really want the photo to feel “about me” as the photographer but rather the energy of the subjects.

How did you overcome the obstacles of the uninspired hotel room and low ceilings?
I called the hotel prior to the shoot asking for the rooms measurements & ceiling height!  I knew it was going to be a close fit with lighting and grip.  I could of used one light on the seamless set up and called it a day, however I actually had four sources playing in that shot, it was really important to me that I had nice quality of light for these two amazing actors!  The outdoor photograph was much more loose and I had my first assistant
handhold “Hollywood” the key light.

 photograph by Kaiya Peralta

The Daily Promo – Jake Stangel

- - The Daily Promo

Jake Stengel

Who printed it?
We got it printed by Chromatic in beautiful, sunny Glendale, CA. 

Who designed it?
Julie Johnson designed it in collaboration with Jen Jenkins, my rep at Giant Artists. 

Who edited the images?
Jen and I edited the images together. My work is pretty wide-ranging, so we wanted to show that aforementioned range, but also keep it feeling cohesive and of one voice. The images are primarily from a campaign I shot for OpenTable last year (the main back image of the boat, as well as the top three images in the grid), the bottom left is for BMW, shot at The Whale Wins in Seattle, and the bottom right is from a Rapha lookbook in Amsterdam. We went back and forth a bit on how to simultaneously show food, environment, portraiture, and some sport, but mostly wanted to show some soul and nice colours. 

How many did you make?
Enough for all of the land (the land has 
1500 people on it).

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I try to send out a round of promos about once a year. Since Giant sends out promos to commercial clients, I stick towards personalized promos to magazine photo editors in the US and Europe, with sticky notes of English Bulldogs and Retrievers with cute handwritten phrases like “welcome to my brand!” on them. 

This particular promo also serves as a take-away card at meetings as well as a mailer in a clear cello envelope.  The size is intentional – it fits into the back pocket of a portfolio.  It’s also not as small as a traditional postcard to get lost at the bottom of a file drawer.  But not so big as to be obnoxious and take up valuable space.  Altogether, they are a cohesive presentation at portfolio shows that have become synonymous with the Giant brand.  The idea is to put a full bleed image on the front that may be more personal or fine art that someone would keep on their wall with 4-5 images on back that show your range. 
 
Giant also creates an annual book that comes out each Fall.  Each edition is themed, with a written introduction by Jen, and features a variety of work from each artist.

This Week in Photography Books: Michael Crouser

- - Working

 

I’ll be honest with you.

I’m pretty fried at the moment.

It’s been a long year, and a long summer, and right this second, my brain’s a little spent. Just when I thought I was getting caught up with things, my Dad told me I had to get on this Equifax shit-show, and nothing brings up stress chemicals like the fear of identity theft.

That said, a weekly column is just that, as it requires me to feed the beast.

And so I shall.

Last week, I reviewed a book that was squarely in my old comfort zone, back when we worked with photo-eye: a small-batch, edgy, art-school type project that was more off-putting than embraceable.

My main criterion for reviewing a book has always been, does it compel me to sit down and write? If the ideas flow, then the book is interesting.

I don’t have to love it, and you don’t have to love it. I’d hope that, over time, we all enjoy far more books than we dislike. Given the feedback I get from you, I think that’s probably true.

So this week, (as is my wont,) we’re going completely in the opposite direction. This book couldn’t be more different than “Married to America.”

Seriously, if you tried to come up with a more antithetical project, I doubt you could. (But if you want to try, we do still have a comment section.)

I interviewed Michael Crouser here a few years ago, as he’s a talented photographer who makes pictures that yearn for yesteryear, and often lack visual markers of present day. We discussed how his black and white photographs, when shot in Europe, actually look as if they come from a previous era.

It’s like a photographic equivalent of “Midnight in Paris.” (The only good Woody Allen movie I’ve seen in the last 15 years.)

So I wasn’t surprised when “Mountain Ranch,” his new book, recently published by the University of Texas Press, turned up in the mail. Apparently, the project was just shown at ClampArt in NYC as well.

This time out, Michael spent 10 years, (2006-16) photographing the declining ranching culture of North West Colorado. If last week’s pics were the epitome of edgy/uncomfortable, these are as earnest and heart-warming as it gets.

Frankly, they’re not my favorite style of photographs. I like a bit more bite. But most of you will probably dig these pictures, as they’re so well-made, and really hard to dislike.

If last week’s review was Ted Cruz, this week we’ve got Oprah. Everyone loves Oprah, right? (Yes, I’m going to Chicago next week, so I wanted to kiss a little ass, as I think Oprah still runs that town.)

As you know by now, I grew up in suburban New Jersey. Nothing could be further from that experience, all cars and green lawns and manicured highways. But now I live in the Rocky Mountains, and can personally attest that ranching culture, with all the cowboy accoutrements, is alive and well.

This America, the one in these photographs, is alien to almost all the urbanites out there. It looks like a Red-State fantasy camp, but really, it’s a way of life that has existed as long as Westward expansion was a dream.

The book features some powerful, first person accounts, by the ranchers, of why the lifestyle is dying. Property taxes, inheritance taxes, a younger generation that wants an easier life.

Michael Crouser wants to document this world, to show us his passion, before it disappears. And today, I thought it was appropriate to share it with you. Because if I’m too cynical to enjoy some lovely pictures, then I should probably get a new job.

Bottom Line: Lyrical, old-fashioned pictures of Ranch Life in Colorado

To purchase “Mountain Ranch” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

 

Personal Projects: Lucas Zarebinski

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Lucas Zarebinski

My personal projects are about turning everyday objects into something extraordinary. I’m a strong believer in “less is more” and have been religious about embedding that philosophy into my work. Simplifying the creative process and the photos themselves helps me get to the point and show the true nature of what I’m photographing. Food, paper, pills, and pencils are just a few of the common objects I choose to work with.

“Pencil Planet” contains about 200 pencils rigged into a circular shape that, to me, resembles a celestial body. “Waves of Pencils” attempts to transform the mass of pencils into a completely different entity, a swirling wave.

“Toilet Paper Story” is a body of work that portrays the familiar object in a new, funny, and engaging way. I started working with a few rolls of toilet paper and later added paper towels into the mix. The pastel backgrounds bring a warm and inviting tone to the photographs. I wanted the paper to look like it was coming out of the picture, engaging with the viewer even more. In the end, I’m just hoping to put a smile on their face.

To see more of this project, click here.

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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit – Michael Norseng: My Bold North

- - The Daily Edit

Photographs by Ackerman + Gruber/Mpls. St. Paul Magazine


Photographs by Eliesa Johnson/Mpls. St. Paul Magazine

MSP Communications

Associate Creative Director: Michael Norseng

Heidi: What advice do you have for any photo director looking to transition out of magazines?
Michael: Over time, (and this is a continual discovery), I have found that titles can often be misleading.  And especially people’s perceptions of those titles.  “Photo Editor”, outside of the NYC publishing carousel, newspapers, or rarified titles and markets, can be a bit of a limiting designation.  Two decades in, I still often get the question, “so what did you do or rather do exactly?” The reality is that for each person, the experience, responsibilities, and creative role in the process is varied.  I think it is beneficial to shift the semantics and attempt to make people understand that the term is broad and more of an umbrella to describe a lot of other sub roles.  In my case and just a few: Researcher, Producer, Project Manager, Video Producer, Art Buyer, Problem solver, conceptor, and yes, Creative Director.  I think that understanding of capabilities and embracing the ability to sell oneself can be a difficult roadblock to overcome, but in the end it is essentially about not limiting yourself to just being defined by one thing, or one title.  There is no clear path.

For me it took stepping away from NY, and having someone, Creative Director Brian Johnson, and a company, MSP Communications, realize that I could be an important asset/cog in the wheel of their creative process.  I feel lucky in that regard.

You had an impressive run at Esquire, what do you miss most about being in editorial?
I’m incredibly grateful for the time I had living in NYC, working in magazines, and especially at Esquire/Hearst.  But there was a confluence of reasons of why the experience was coming to an end, both personally and professionally.  I was extremely, (extremely is an understatement), blessed during my time in NYC that I rode this wave and crossed paths and learned from some of the best Photo Editors, Creative Directors, Designers, and Editors in the industry.  And additionally by extension, photographers, writers, illustrators, agents, subjects, on and on…and on. I believe, and I hope, I carried a lot of what I learned from those individuals on to this role I am in now.

One of the things that David Granger, former Editor and Chief of Esquire, and by extension David Curcurito, Design Director, instilled in all of us was to continue to be ambitious, curious, and varied in terms of story-telling and put out high quality work into the world no matter what the restraints.  Every day it felt like we were constantly evolving creatively.  Or at least I hope we were.  It was often a fulfilling and exciting place to work, even if not everything we tried landed in the way we hoped.

By extension too, there was a recognition that individuals had capabilities outside of their designated roles, (back to the previous question).  So yes, I worked on photography and managed that department, but also contributed a few times little bits of writing, or story ideas, or what have you.  It was the sort of environment that fostered ambition and embraced whatever people wanted to contribute and there were no set lanes in which you were forced to stay.  In fact, I think the entire reason why I was originally promoted from within there about a decade ago is because I had expressed an interest in producing video content and extending the reach of the stories (mostly in a surface visual way) online or eventually on the ipad.

So it has been exciting transitioning to MSP Communication where that work or my varied background has been valued.  I am not only involved in some editorial photo capacities with Delta Sky Magazine and Mpls/St. Paul, but also working on video projects as well.  The environment is collaborative, my colleagues are great, and I feel like I’m working in a similar role to put out public facing work which is both ambitious, but of a high quality both locally and nationally.


Photograph by Ture Lillegraven


Photograph by Caitlin Cronenberg

As a creative, what is the most important ingredient to keep you fully engaged?
I have a broad range of personal interests and knowledge, so I love diversified subject matter.  Or the ability to think of ways to poach or have cross-over applications to how something is presented in a unique way.  It is one of the reasons why I’ve always loved editorial, and especially what could be called as general interest, because the subject matter, perspective, and story-telling is always varied.  I also love the pace that it provides…that there is constant creation on all levels of size each day. If it doesn’t work once, learn from it, and move on.  The goalpost is constantly shifting and you have to work fast.

I think I’m also excited by putting out content into the world either in print or online that either engages or people consume in some regard.  If it initiates an emotional response, or the person looking at feels like it was well done, enough to capture their attention, then that is the ideal.  Personally I want the work that either myself or my colleagues put out to deliver on being high quality.

How much has your video experience influenced your career?
I think it safe to say that if I wouldn’t have experimented with video, or taken advantage of the opportunities to do it, I wouldn’t have found myself in the position I am in today.  I believe it is what separated me from the pack when individuals were being brought through the door to interview at Esquire 10 years ago.  And it has been instrumental of course to me in this next role I find myself in.

How did this video series come about?
My new(ish) colleagues at Mpls St. Paul Magazine/MSP Communications had this incredibly ambitious video series pitch, (in conjunction with Explore Minesota and The Superbowl Host Committee), already in the works before I started here in December.  So although I heard only minor mentions of it during my interview process last fall, it wasn’t necessarily a reality until I started.  I think it was my first week of work here when Brian Johnson, (Creative Director), Drew Wood (Editor), and Jayne Haugen Olson (Editorial Director), and I sat in a room and collaboratively said ok, we have this seed of an idea and an opportunity, so how do we execute upon it and what do we want this ultimately to be and look like.  Given my background, and some experience in this regard, I think they, and leadership and MSP, collectively leaned on me and my perspective and background in terms of the best way to execute, package, and present these.  So we/I hit the ground running.  And now we are leading up to week 30 of 52.  It has been exciting, to say the least, each and every week putting one of these out there.

Tell us about your creative process for these videos?
Essentially, what these are, and the elevator pitch which I often repeat, is that Superbowl 52 is coming to Minneapolis in 2018, and thus we wanted to figure out a way to capitalize on that and shine a spotlight on the state via videos with 52 notable individuals, one each week until next year, that have connection to the state. The goal each week has been to not only tell their stories through individualized love letters, but also bring in elements of things to ether do and/or see if someone was to come and visit.  All within 2:30.

Because of how we/I am executing these, with different contributors, restraints on time and access to subjects, etc., these are all a bit apples and oranges in terms of presentation.  I would like to think each one is unique as the different subjects we are covering.  The front end title sequence, (with exception of the background) and closing credits are for the most part templated, initially developed along with a former colleague and great AE designer (Tom Losinski), but I am able to alter them each week to be specific to each subject.  So I like to think the bookends or cookies to the Oreo stay relatively the same, and it is the cream/content that shifts week to week.

And that constant shifting of sands also goes for my role on the project.  For the most part you could say I’m the lead in the creative execution along with my partner and colleague Drew Wood.  But there is so much as well that happens behind the scenes with my colleagues that people will never get to see…in terms of how we get the most eyeballs on them, the design of the website, etc.   And in terms of myself week to week,  I would say my lead role is that I am hiring the individual photographers, directors, cinematographers, etc, to do these and  managing the output, the say on the final videos.  I’m also working alongside my colleagues sending requests to PR to try to wrangle talent/subjects, which has been fun and extension of some of the moderate communication I did before with PR people.  And some weeks, and this has been fun, actually trying my hand at interviewing the subjects off camera.  Har Mar Superstar, Lindsey Vonn (upcoming), and Alec Soth have been a few highlights in this regard.  Or and additionally, outside of outputting the titles each week,  I’m actually from time to time editing the actual videos or shooting some of the b-roll, or just working with the directors on the best final cuts.  It has been really fun.  Intense at times.  But I/we are pleased I think with what we are producing.

And again, back to the beginning of this interview, and I feel like this series is emblematic, there are no clear lanes of responsibility on this.  It is just all hands on deck, in a collaborative editorial environment, to put what we hope is good, high quality storytelling to the world…at an extremely quick pace. You can find a few below and the rest here:  myboldnorth.com

 

Alec Soth was shot and edited by Kevin Horn

 

Jim Brandenburg filmed by Ackerman + Gruber

The Daily Promo – Craig Litten

- - The Daily Promo

Craig Litten

Who printed it?
The promo was printed by Moo (www.moo.com). Since I’m new at promos I decided to experiment with a company I am already aware of, and familiar with the their high quality printing.

Who designed it?
I designed the cards, but used a template for the text (moo has pretty limited designs for text) and worked around the limited template as much as possible.

Who edited the images?
The images were edited by me also. The original images were shot for Sunbum and used in their product promotional catalog. The photos originally ran in color, but I much prefer the black & white versions.

How many did you make? 
I did a very small run as a test of the print quality from Moo. In my opinion, their quality is fantastic and exactly as I envisioned when toning them on screen with deep rich blacks, a wide tonal range and crisp detail. Since I’m pleased with the results, I’m preparing to do a full run of these same cards soon.

How many times a year do you send out promos? 
This is my first attempt at such a thing, but looking ahead I plan to send out promos at least twice per year to see how it goes.

This Week in Photography Books: Justin Clifford Rhody

 

The Earth spins once a day.
It circles the Sun once a year.

We are born, we live, and we die.

Everywhere we look, cycles represent the natural world around us. Karma, or God, or whomever, seems to have a preference for circles.

Everything seems to come back around again, or “full circle,” if you will, if there’s only time to allow it.

Yesterday, I got into it with my soon-to-be-10-year-old, because he kept complaining about doing his homework. He rolled his eyes like a professional actor, and sighed demonstrably. Anyone within twenty miles would have known he was unhappy.

I stood there, watching a younger, newer version of myself. Man, the shit I used to get from my folks for giving them dirty looks. For throwing them shade.

Cut to 1984:

Mom: You better cut that out, or you’re going to be in big trouble.

Me: What!

Mom: You know what. Cut it out.

Me: I didn’t say anything!

Mom: You didn’t have to say anything. It’s written all over your face.

Me: How can I get in trouble if I didn’t say anything?

Mom: Dirty looks are just as bad. Cut it out, or you’re going to your room. And your father will not be happy when he gets home from work.

Me: (Dirty Look) Fine!

Cut back to 2017

I stood there, watching him give me the stink-eye, like Avon Barksdale mad-dogging a snitch, and at the same time, I was deeply in my memory, wondering how these life cycles can be so obvious sometimes.

My son kept rushing through his homework, because he wanted to watch TV. He hates homework, and thinks that makes him original. Such pain, having to do 10 minutes of homework, what with Irma heading towards Florida.

Much as I was angry, as a Dad, I was also empathetic, because every kid hates homework. And I was also the omniscient narrator, a small voice in my head appreciating the irony of it all, understanding it was my time to reap what I’d sowed 30+ years ago.

Like I said, everything old is new again, including Fascism in America, apparently.

Seriously, can you believe that some people grew up so badly, and ate so much garbage, that they think Fascism is the way forward? That’s like saying, no thanks, Doc, I’ll pass on the surgery. Gonna get me some leeches instead, ‘cuz I’m sure they’ll cure me right up.

Last week, I wrote about the inside/outside debate, and how the spirit of the “flaneur” is alive and well in 2017. Roaming and wandering. As someone pointed out on FB, without the outsider, there is no “The Americans,” the Bible that made many of us into photographers.

The tradition of the road trip is as old as cars. I’m sure some dude in Detroit grabbed his best bud Cecil, cranked up the Model T, and hit the dirt roads looking at all the places they’d never seen before.

Likewise, certain sub-themes seem to continually re-emerge in photography, each time suffused with the same energy. In this case, I’m thinking of a certain style of anarchy. A vibe, always put out by young-men-in-bands, that they’ve re-invented living dirty. (Or nasty, if you prefer.)

This week, “Married to America” turned up in the mail, a new book by Justin Clifford Rhody, recently published by Hidden Eye. Justin had written to see if I’d be interested in his book, and after a quick peek online, I said sure, send it along.

When I reviewed Jim Jocoy’s “Order of Appearance” a few months ago, we discussed this punk rock spirit. But that book showed some OG punks from the early 80’s. Guys who were puking on their buddies before Justin and his crew were born.

This book reads differently to me.
It makes me feel old.

First of all, I couldn’t help catching some typos in a statement by road trip buddy Carlos Gonzalez. One of our regular readers, the publisher and former Center board member Joanna Hurley, used to ride me about its vs it’s, so now I can’t not see it.

Like a grumpy Dad chastising his son for mistakes he’s made himself, I was angry at my brain for focusing on the silly typos. Let it go, you square, another part of my brain said. Punks don’t care about typos.

The pictures in the book are cool, but not distinctive. They remind me of simulacra of previous road trips, of previous photos, of previous “On The Road” seekers. It was just so hard to find anything fresh here.

But not impossible.

There are two diptychs, (layout wise,) that I thought were really smart. One pits a Wolverine-style-glove against a bronze wall-plated bust of George Washington; a great little visual poem about 21st Century America.

Even better, the still life of the Egyptian hieroglyphic stela comes right before the obligatory shot of a filthy, disgusting, shit-stained toilet. (You can’t have one of these books without that shot. Or the velvet boobs painting.)

But that’s where the meta-level kicked in. When we see Egyptian art, we think about the past. Our collective history. And what we, as artists, leave behind for “future generations.”

So the subsequent toilet shot becomes the answer to the question. Justin Clifford Rhody is gifting that foul-poop-recepticle to the next generation, and the ones that follow, and he’s doing it with his eyes open.

The final statement tells us more about the book. It is indeed a poetic record of a road trip three guys took, playing music in little “underground” venues, and projecting slides of found imagery to boot.

I don’t deny, in any way, that these Millennial fellas are authentically themselves. I get that they lived this experience, had fun, made art, didn’t hurt anybody, and are growing up in their own time. (A much-less-naive era than we Gen-Xers were given.)

I get that certain people will read this like I’m a hater. Like I’m too old to understand the joy, the freedom, of life on the road. No kids to make breakfast for. No trash container to pull up the hill. No responsibility to crush your spirit.

Maybe I am getting old? (Or as Danny Glover famously said, “I’m gettin’ too old for this shit.”)

Maybe.

Or maybe there’s something to this cycle of life? Maybe the Universe prefers circles for a reason? And we’re all doing the best we can, right where we need to be.

Bottom Line: Cool, but familiar, tale of rockers on the road

To purchase “Married to America,” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

Personal Projects: Nicolo Sertorio

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Nicolo Sertorio

Artist statement:

I consider myself privileged: I am white, male, educated, healthy, living in the Western world. I am, however, part of a ‘disenchanted generation’: born after WWII when globalization seemed like a great idea, a path towards one big happy family, only to be awakened to a hard reality of inequality and environmental abuse. Nowadays hardly a day goes by without some alarming news: ice melting, fresh water contamination, overpopulation, corporate greed, food poisoning, oil dependency, wealth inequality, the list goes on. It seems the world lost its mystery to become the playground of the very few at the expense of the rest. I believe the resulting sense of powerlessness has left us disenfranchised, resulting in a lack of social or environmental accountability.

But is this really the only way? Do we really need to follow this dead-end path?

I experience the context for the work as presenting the viewer with a world where humanity’s need for insatiable consumption has led it to the ultimate consumption, that of the consumption of the self. From this point we are brought to a world where humanity has disappeared and only nature remains, in its solemness. Nature has endured and now overcome the weight of humanity’s selfish behaviours and we are reunited with nature’s beauty and mystery.

Presented as a hypothetical archeological study on the nature of co-existence, it is my hope that we can still assume both global and individual responsibility, that we can still change our path forward.

To see more of this project, click here.

Gallery Exhibit and opening in tonight, September 7th in San Francisco here

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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit – Erik Asla: The Stillness of Motion

- - The Daily Edit

 

 

Erik Asla

I know you were a  Herb Ritts protégé what were key insights he offered and how difficult was it not to follow his footsteps?
I think the main value of working with Herb was to realize how important it is to always aim for perfection. He never stopped doing exactly that. It’s challenging and hard at times. Also, I saw how he was able to make people feel at ease by focusing all attention on his subjects, whether celebrities, models or ordinary people. In my eyes, that was his main gift in addition to his keen eye, communication.

Herb is not someone whose footsteps one automatically tries to follow. He was one of a kind. I did not want to become a poor replica of the master, so I took deliberate steps to go a different route.

In a sentence describe what it’s like to have a mentor?
In the best of times, it is an extremely rewarding relationship for both parties. Usually, with lots of sacrifices on the part of the protegé.

 

How did your former law schooling transcend into your photographic career, if at all? 
Did not transcend at all, but I realize I have a creative and an analytical side. Needless to say, the analytical side has been completely sidetracked for the last couple of decades.

How did you make the transition from commercial to fine art?
It was more of a necessary evolution than anything else. The desire to create something that represents my way of seeing without embellishments or the influence of other visions.

Your fine ark work, The Stillness of Motion celebrates the organic beauty with a linear eye; we don’t feel rushed nor pushed into a lane. What was your creative message?
I try to capture imagery that resonates with who I am, how I see things, how I think, dream. What my preferences in life are. All of that, really. The serenity and graphic simplicity envelop everything I am and strive for.

How many images did you shoot in order to refine it to the edit you currently have?
Multiple thousands. I guess that’s partly why it’s rewarding when I feel that I have one that stands out. Because the road to getting there is often quite long.

Describe the creative space you feel when in your commissioned work vs the fine art?
Ideally, you want to have the same freedom in commissioned work as in fine art. Though in reality, that is seldom possible. Fine art is so unconstrained, so liberating. In the end, all that matters is that you create something that resonates with yourself and your audience. And that you do it without compromises or short cuts.

This Week in Photography Books: Gary Isaacs

 

All summer, here in the column, I contrasted projects made by insiders and outsiders.

It wasn’t intentional. We didn’t have a big staff meeting, with a conference table covered with donuts, and brainstorm all the different themes I might develop.

There are no staff meetings.
There is no table.
And donuts are for cops and stoners.

Rather, things seem to evolve in certain directions, when you have a weekly column for 6 years.

Today, though, I want to take the issue head on. No oblique references, or silly puns. This question is core to the history and future of photography, so let’s go there.

The French have a word, “flaneur,” that all of us are taught in art school. It means a wanderer, but not in the sense of some Dude named Cooter who rides the rails, and needs a shower more than America needs a new President.

Rather, in photography terms, a flaneur is one who visits new places, roams the streets with a camera, and is constantly on the lookout for the daily drama of real life.

Many, if not most photographers have been there at some point, and I can personally attest I devoted my life to photography after a certain 5-day-cross-country-road-trip, camera in hand.

It’s a fact that the camera, as a machine, has the power to change human experience. Once you’ve gotten a hold of one, and realize how drastically it alters how you see and feel the world around you, it’s hard to go back to a less-well-lived life.

But if you study photography, go to art school, and try to make a career of it, most of the time, you gravitate towards more structured projects. You’re encouraged, for good reason, to make work about what you already know: to mine your expertise for knowledge-wisdom-nuggets, and render said information in visual form.

It’s advice I’ve received, and have dispensed myself.

These days, most people want to dig deep into their own cultural, gender or class-based experiences. (Not surprising, given the prominence of identity politics in many institutions of higher learning.) You’re encouraged to stay in your lane, essentially, rather than aimlessly explore other viewpoints.

They’re two accepted ways of doing things, (wandering and tunneling,) and I’d argue it’s the middle ground that gets tricky.

We saw evidence of that at Antidote, which I opened up to a few of my former UNM-Taos students, free of charge, so they could get the benefit of the world class teachers I brought to town.

One Antidote student was making work in and about a small, Hispanic community in Northern New Mexico, where he had few ties, and he got feedback pushing him to defend the decision. We probed for actual connection, but he rebuffed us, believing his intellectual interest allowed him to investigate another culture, even though he didn’t officially belong.

More power to him, but it’s a rough road.

Conversely, one of my local students had done work, in my class, about “descansos”: roadside memorials to people who’ve been killed.

It’s a popular subject, as they are visually compelling, and I even reviewed such a project at Photo NOLA a few years ago. That time, the pictures had been made by a white, Jewish lady who came in from out-of-state.

Work like that, done by outsiders who are doing more than just wandering, has come under fire lately, as it’s called “cultural appropriation.” I’ve defended the practice here, and would again, under other circumstances.

But what we saw at Antidote gives me pause.

The Antidote crew was rapt during the descanso critique, because my former student had photographed memorials to her dead friends and family. With each memorial, she told us who had died, and how the tragedy unfolded. There is a lot of death and violence in Taos, so the project becomes a metaphor for a culture few outsiders can possibly understand.

The pictures are well-made, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that they were constructed out of pain, out of heartache, sent a strong energy through the critique. Such information can be conveyed through text or video as well, but I witnessed the vibe coming right from the pictures on screen.

It was hard not to compare the two projects. One came from personal experience, the other because sometimes people need to find a project for school, or assignment, or to keep pushing the rock up the hill.

I’m not saying one way is better than the other, and I’m even contemplating my first major curatorial effort, exploring a “foreign” culture, because that’s where my curiosity is taking me.

Where is this rant coming from?
(You always ask the right questions at the right time.)

I just put down “Chinatown,” a new self-published book that came in the mail the other day, from Gary Isaacs. (Not sure on this, but I’m guessing he’s a member of the tribe too.)

This book, all grainy, moody black and white, stems from an assignment in San Francisco’s North Beach, the introduction tells us. Gary did his work there, but found himself powerfully drawn to that exotic neighborhood right next door. (Having photographed SF Chinatown myself in the past, and cruised its streets earlier this summer, I can attest it’s insanely photogenic.)

Not content with his first efforts, Gary went back a few times, to flesh out his vision, and said he spent 15 full days photographing 30 square blocks. Structurally, it fits somewhere between a straight flaneur story, and something a little deeper.

The neighborhood is vibrant, and obviously different. It looks great, because it represents a historical immigrant culture, with its fascinating visual signifiers, yet is surrounded by a more traditional America. (OK, maybe it’s not wise to brand San Francisco as normal America, but you get my point.)

When you look at this book, there is no sense you’re getting an intellectually supported, politically motivated, culturally nuanced vision of the world. There will be no graduate thesis written about these pictures, nor will anyone start a Twitter Hashtag war, like they did for #IronFistSoWhite.

The sprit of the wanderer, of one who’s addicted to the joy of seeing, permeates the pages. I’d argue this book can be a catalyst for all of us to turn our attention back onto the world around us, and try to see it with fresh eyes.

(And if you insist the pictures represent a white person’s cliché vision of Asian culture, you’re welcome to that opinion.)

I just read a piece in GQ, by a guy I went to summer camp with many years ago, about breaking his Weed-Cherry at 35. He’d been too uptight to smoke marijuana earlier in life, but finally got around to it, just in time for the legalization efforts, when the stigma had gone away.

His final sentences were about the way New York City glowed, with lights reflecting off wet streets, when he walked the city while high. His perceptions became heightened, and his experience of visual pleasure was enhanced.

He felt glad to be alive.

I like Mary Jane as much as the next guy, but when photography does its job, and we get to be our best selves, the camera is all the help we need to be overjoyed by the magic of the world.

Food for thought.

Bottom Line: Cool book, featuring noir photos from San Francisco’s Chinatown

Personal Project: Grace Chon

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Grace Chon

Ten years ago, I was a stressed-out art director working at an advertising agency. It was supposed to be my dream job, yet there I was, a miserable and workaholic wreck. It was at this moment in my life that I ended up adopting a street dog from Mexico named Maeby. Adopting her was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If we’re being honest, I had found my soul mate.

Maeby’s sweet smile was better than anything else I could have turned to after a horrible day at the office. Suddenly working on ad campaigns felt meaningless when all I wanted to do was spend time with dogs. I bought a camera and started taking headshots of other rescue dogs to help them get adopted. My volunteer work evolved into a bustling pet photography business, and nine months later, I quit my job in advertising to become a full-time pet photographer. The rest, as they say, is history.

For nearly a decade now, I’ve devoted my life to capturing the faces and personalities of thousands of pets. While I love all God’s creatures, great and small, dogs will always be my favorite. Their loyalty, faithfulness, and unconditional love have filled a million tiny holes in my heart that I never knew existed. I’m now convinced there is no better therapy than a tail-wagging, butt-wiggling, smiling dog. Perhaps after reading this book, you might agree (unless of course, you already do!).

May the uncontainable happiness of these dogs touch your heart as much as they have touched mine.

Back story: This book is the result of a Tumblr + Instagram page I started back in 2014, to showcase my very large collection of smiling dog images that I’ve accumulated over the last near decade of photographing dogs. (http://dailydogsmile.tumblr.com/) I pitched it as a book back in 2014 and couldn’t get any “bites” but when a book editor approached me in 2016 to do a book together, she loved this idea. The moral of this story? Don’t give up your “dogged” determination to make your projects into a reality.

LINK TO PREORDER:

https://www.amazon.com/Dog-Happy-Photographs-Grace-Chon/dp/1682680983

To see more of this project, click here.

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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

 

The Daily Edit – Nigel Parry: Outside Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

Outside

Photo and Design Director: Hannah McCaughey
Photo Editor: Amy Silverman
Deputy Art Director: Petra Zeiler
Photographer: Nigel Parry

 

Heidi: How many set ups did you do and what type of direction did you give for this image for Cory in the snowsuit?
Nigel: We got to maybe five or did six different setups, things were going well. Then we we’re coming to the last set and I said, “This is where I want you to put your big snow suit on as if you’ve traveled, you’ve done your climb and you are finally at rest. It’s obviously in a studio, but just try and make yourself feel like the avalanche has just happened.”

“Cool, that’s good.” he said, “I just need to go over and pick up this message,” and he just sat at the dressing table for maybe 10-15 minutes.
I said, “Okay, when you’re ready,” and he then walked back over to the set and we started shooting again.

“Just try and take yourself back there and I’m going to keep shooting.” He carried on just looking at me and all of a sudden, he started crying.” There are tears in his eyes I said, “I’m going to keep shooting,”

“That’s fine,” Cory replied.

After I stopped shooting I went and gave him a big hug and assumed what just happened was he’d taken himself back into that terrible state where he had almost died and he was reliving the emotions. He said,” You know when I went over there and picked and picked up that message? I was told that my best friend just committed suicide.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said, “I’m so sorry,”

He said, “No, it was my decision to keep going on. It seemed fitting anyway, I knew I was going to be quite upset.”

Do you find that a little challenging to shoot a peer?
Cory is an adventure photographer and takes incredible photographs in situations where I wouldn’t even in my wildest dreams think to find myself. He takes very different pictures. To me, photography is so compartmentalized; we’re just in two totally different spheres.

What type of direction did you get from Hannah?
The direction I got from her was simple. She told me he’d almost died and she wanted something similar to the photos you see of people before they climbed Everest; with a nod towards early 20th century images where they’re very slow shutter speeds so everyone had to sit very still and stare at the camera. I thought this was perfect direction since he’s a mountaineer, there’s no smiling, no movement. The fact that I was shooting a lot of black and white made it easier and more powerful.

Had you met Cory before?
No, though he seemed like a sincere bloke. I don’t know what he was like before the accident, and maybe that’s changed him. But I found him a terrifically interesting in every way. You want to get to know him more. I think he’s very visually appealing and we have been doing some corresponding actually because he’s doing a bit of portrait work, and I’ve been mentoring him a little with of all of that.

Is there something creatively that you learned about yourself or did anything shift for you as a photographer after the shoot?
Every now and again you have what is an abundance of creativity and you can work with that if you want. It’s really an abundance of Limbic resonance. That’s what photographers want in their arsenal. Because that’s just, there are areas of your brain which basically feels emotions and is able to empathize with another person. If you’re able to do that, That’s your major tool, once you’ve got all your lighting source figured out. As a portrait of photographer you want to be able to get so close to the person, not necessarily as in proximity, but just be close to them emotionally and on their wave length that you and they become joined mentally, emotionally. That’s what one always strives for. I don’t know how one gets it. I just know that this is my goal in portrait photography. I’m so desperate [laughs] to people — because it makes people open up. Our shoot was great in that respect. If somebody is very receptive to that, then it makes for a wonderful connected shoot where the person who’s being photographed knows just about when I’m going to shoot the photograph, and I know what they’re going to do next. You become sort of connected.

You do have a nice connection then since you’re mentoring him.
Well, I do now, but the first time I met him was when he walked in and said, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that I’m meeting you and you’re going to photograph me.” I said, “What? What are you talking about mate?” [laughs].Yes. That’s very lovely of him to say that. He said, “You’re also my hero.” “Oh, well that’s fantastic. I’m sure by the end of this you’ll be my hero because I’ve never climbed a mountain that spared my life.” I replied.

Do you have any photographic influences?
Yes. I’ve had many. Not many of them are living right now. I’ve tried to emulate or pay homage to David Bailey. I use David Bailey as the person I would love to learn from, I was totally taken by his pictures. His directness and his cruelty in some respects. It’s a sort of cruelty you don’t get from Irving Penn who I also love. Also for the decisive moment, the good old favorite Cartier-Bresson because I started out as a reportage photographer. Cartier-Bresson was my idol and hero, alongside David Bailey as well. I find that there’s an awful lot of similarity between portraiture and Cartier-Bresson’s work. In fact, there’s an awful lot of similarity between portraiture and virtually any other kind of work. Once you’ve mastered portraiture, you can pretty much jump off to anything. The key to portraiture is to have an environment in which, be it lighting, or whatever it is in that environment that you’re photographing, the moment comes to make the magic happen.The only difference between say, portraiture, and reportage is that reportage people have to get themselves in the middle of the crowd. Whereas I have to get my studio set so that when the magic happens, I can get it. There’s very little difference in the actual execution, the principles of execution they are very, very similar.

Do you remember some of your first images when you thought, “I love photography and this is what I want to do?
Well, I remember a lot of my first images. The first image that I ever had published was a picture of some little girls walking down some steps inside the British museum in London. I realized that even though it was only sold as a postcard, that must be a great way of making some money out of something which I enjoy so much. It was the fact that I was willing to put money behind this to make a wet plate of it than print it on paper, buy the paper, buy the ink and distribute it. There must be something good about it.

What would you tell your younger self, now that you have so much experience as a photographer?
I’d tell myself not to become a photographer, be a lawyer or a doctor or do something that can’t be replaced by a phone and a bunch of algorithms–but no, I wouldn’t change a thing about my chosen career. It has been the most wonderful, the most interesting, the most challenging, the most frightening. The road with the most twisted bends, and turns and highways and freeways. I wouldn’t change a thing. It has, and hopefully will still be wonderful.

 

 

The Daily Promo: Yuri Hasegawa

- - The Daily Promo

Yuri Hasegawa

Who printed it?
JEJ Print in Monterey Park, Los Angeles, CA. They are a family owned, web press printer; I love that they can customize.  This was my first time printing on newsprint so I wanted to work closely with the printer learning about the characteristics of newsprint, how the images would interact with the medium and I wanted to support a local business. Ryan at JEJ Print was very helpful during the entire process. 

Who designed it?
I designed it myself. Once I fined tuned the layout a graphic designer friend of mine, Blake Ingram created the final export. He finessed the font placement and also gave great advice on the overall design. I wanted the design to be simple and photography forward. I placed the cover portrait’s (Lance Mountain) eye specifically, so that it would appear in the perfect spot – peeping over  to achieve an eye-catching effect and be easy to mail.

Who edited the images?
I edited it myself with feedback, advice and opinions from variety of people: mentors, colleagues, friends, artists.  I’m so grateful for everyone’s help, thank you! My editing goal was to select images that ultimately spoke to my style, community and interests.  I completed around 3 rounds of edits until I reached the final decision.

How many did you make?
1000 copies. I sent out approximately 800 in the US. I still plan on sending a portion to international clients and keep some for leave behinds.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is my very first large run mailing promo! Previously I was sending out more DIY printed post cards to a select list of publications I wanted to contribute to,  mailing them twice a year as well as supplementing with email promos twice a year. I have regular clients in Japan, but I knew I needed to be more proactive to promote my work within the US market. One of my goals was to include the US advertising and client direct market. The  idea of this promo was to make my first big introduction to a broader audience.   The idea of the cover title “HELLO” came along pretty quick: “Hello, nice to meet you. Here is my work, my name is Yuri!” Allong with this serving  as a promo piece, I wanted to make something that I could give away and show my photographs in a different format. I often grab a “newspaper” if it’s free and full of photography,  I’m so intrigued by the play of the images on newsprint.

This Week in Photography Books: Larry Sultan

 

America is dominated by Baby Boomers and Millennials.

You know this.

My cohort, Generation X, is small by comparison, and as we’re all slackers, we get lost in those giant shadows. But we’re famous for our sense of irony, and these days, it’s a life-saver.

For instance, the one thing most people want, more than anything, is to have a long life. Nobody wants to die young, except for rock stars, but as Rock-n-Roll is dead, the rock stars are gone anyway.

People want to live as long as possible, even though that best case scenario almost always leads to illness, broken bodies, doctor bills, and some form of misery and pain.

Like I said, without irony, where would we be?

My own parents are aging, as I’m 43, and the last ten years have been a litany of ill health. My Dad had two major back surgeries, including a spinal fusion, interspersed with years of aggressive, debilitating nerve pain.

My Mom had a spinal fusion of her own, and before she’d fully recovered, she tore her achilles tendon in Mexico, and had that godawful injury as a follow up. (Though she reported her experience in the Mexican health care system was excellent, in case you’re thinking of moving to the other side of the Wall…)

It’s a challenge, watching the people you love suffer; a reminder it will be your turn soon enough. If you’re one of the lucky ones, that is, and you don’t get pre-mature cancer, or hit by a car driven into a political protest.

On the plus side, aging is meant to bestow wisdom. While our bodies degrade, no matter how many crossword puzzles we do, or superfood smoothies we imbibe, our understanding of reality often develops nuance and expertise.

Who hasn’t looked back on a younger self, thrown up one’s hands, and exclaimed to the sky, “What the fuck was I thinking?”

I know I have.

Right now, I’m focusing on a particular moment, back when I lived in San Francisco in 2001. I’d recently applied to graduate school at CCAC, (now called CCA,) and the Dean of Admissions had arranged for me to sit in on a class with superstar-photographer-professor Larry Sultan.

I brought my portfolio along, as I’d been assured he’d likely review the work, and discuss how I might fit in at the school, were I to be accepted. (I wasn’t.)

But on the day I arrived, Mr. Sultan said it was a special class, with some guest lecturers, and he wouldn’t have time to meet with me. He warmly welcomed me to stay, assuming I could learn a thing or two.

As I wasn’t going to get what I wanted, I slipped out at the first smoke break without even saying goodbye. If he couldn’t see me, my younger self thought, what was the point of sticking around?

Such a rookie mistake.

The incident played in my mind, over and over, as I walked through the singularly brilliant Larry Sultan solo show at SFMOMA back in May.

It was easily one of the best photo shows I’d seen in years, and at the end, they had a video monitor set up, with a lengthy interview with the artist.

Sadly, he passed away too-young in 2009, so it was much like hearing from a ghost. A ghost, I might add, from whom I had been too proud to learn, in the limited way I’d been offered.

I sat there for 20 minutes, easily, and this from a guy who never, ever has patience for such things. (Never. Ever.)

Thankfully, the folks at SFMOMA are pretty cool, and they’d arranged for me to preview the Mike Mandel exhibition next door, and meet the long-time curator Sandra Phillips. Even better, as I was leaving, they gave me a hot-off-the-presses copy of “Pictures from Home,” the Larry Sultan classic that was recently re-released, (or re-imagined?) by MACK in London.

Needless to say, when I showed the book to people at Pier 24 that afternoon, (after admitting I used it as a sun-shade on the blazing walk along the Embarcadero,) they looked at me like I was the messiah.

“How did you get that,” exclaimed the Assistant Director? “I’m actually thanked in the liner notes,” she said, “and I don’t have a copy yet!”

I blushed, said something about getting lucky, and realized this was a book I needed to sit with properly.

No skimming allowed.

I hope you’ll trust it’s taken 3 months to find such time, and that I busted open the green, hard-cover book as soon as I was able.

Meaning yesterday.

But there is so much text that I lay it down, and came at it today with a couple of hours set aside. Let me be clear, this is a book you need to read, not just look at the sharp photography.

“Pictures from Home” is such a great meditation on aging: of people, of dreams, and of America itself, that I’ll state outright it deserves its masterpiece status.

A more poignant, intelligent book, you are unlikely to find.

It features many of the seminal images shot during that series, made from approximately 1982-92, in addition to stills from Sultan family home movies, text by Larry Sultan, interviews with his Mom and Dad, and ephemera from their lives.

The short version of the story is that Mr. and Mrs. Sultan, Irving and Jean, moved out to Southern California in 1949, right after the War boom, in the midst of a recession. They were East Coast Jews, he from NYC, she from Jersey, and they joined the wagon train of Americans headed West towards a better life.

Eventually, Irving landed a job as a salesman for the Schick Razor company, and made his way up the corporate ladder for 20 years. It is as pure a vision of the American dream as you’re likely to find, as a Jew who briefly went by the pseudonym of John Dutton, to work in an English clothing store, was eventually embraced by the whitest of American corporate culture.

Until he wasn’t.

Turns out, Irving was spit out by Schick at 56, when he refused to move his family back East for a promotion. No matter what, he was only giving up the California sunshine if they pried it from his cold, dead hands. (RIP Irving and Jean, in addition to Larry.)

Irving never held another job, easing restlessly into a golf-strewn retirement, but Jean built a successful real estate career in his stead, allowing a feminist subtext to creep into the book as well.

In last week’s review, I admitted I found Ashley Gilbertson’s writing more compelling than his photographs. (Most of you probably preferred the pictures, but you’re not writing the review.) It certainly made me question when words communicate more effectively than images.

But this book proves how perfectly the two can complement each other, in the right hands. First person histories about scamming girls at the boardwalk, being abandoned to orphanages, taking massive risks, and developing sangfroid in our relationships take center stage, and inform the way we view each subsequent photograph.

Later on, the text begins to allude, and then outright mentions, the fact that Larry Sultan staged these photographs, believing a fictionalized version of reality can often tell more “truth” than a document.

In the fraught photo of Irving, standing in front of a white-board featuring knowledge gleaned from a Dale Carnegie course, we learn that Larry asked Irving to misuse a word, on purpose, to suggest a certain fallibility. (Empathize became empathy)

I could go on and on.
But I won’t.

This is a book best enjoyed by yourself, on your sofa, with a cup of coffee or two. (Or three, as it was with me. No blue sky today, so I needed extra energy-juice.)

The times of the great, white male are either over, or still far-too-prevalent, depending on which media outlet you read. But in this case, the idea of shrinking, until there is nothing left but time for leisure, as your aggregate life slips away, is sad but real.

I hope my parents regain their footing, and enjoy a spate of health and good fortune. But I don’t know it will happen, as aging gets us all in the end. (If we’re lucky enough to land on its doorstep.)

C’est la vie.

Bottom Line: Brilliant, re-issued classic that examines the fading American dream, and the realities of old age

To purchase “Pictures from Home,” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

Personal Projects: Kris Davidson

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Kris Davidson

PROJECT TITLE:  American Macondo

MEDIUM:  Giclée prints on archival matte paper.  Additional mixed media on select prints may include acrylic paint, gel medium, fabric, pencil, glitter, gold mica flakes and other found materials (most of the images are prints without mixed media).

SUMMARY:  American Macondo is a photography based project with selective mixed-media components that looks at the US/Mexico relationship through a magical realism filter, considering the role of cultural memory and imagination in process of Americanization.

STATEMENT:  Often when we think of migration, it is the physical distance traversed and the challenge of the journey that comes to mind. But for those who migrate, there is also an invisible, lingering landscape constructed of stories, shifting memories and imagined futures that unfold from generation to generation.  Americanization is not a clearly defined event with a discernible beginning and ending; rather, it is an abstract process that defies time and man-made international boundaries.

In imagining Americanization as a process that exists on both physical and non-physical planes, an aesthetic that borrows from the literary genre of magical realism makes sense; it allows for a bridge between the intangible and tangible. There is a strange, fleeting pain that comes with cultural change. It is an ache so subtle and profound that it might very well require a bit of magic to be understood.  After all, magic has inherent analgesic qualities. In leaving a land and a familial history, the immigrant splinters away from a predictable trajectory; it is the start of a curious process that continues in a wave-like manner with the immigrant’s children.

American Macondo is structured as a vaguely familiar journey narrative with a varied cast of characters in Mexico, the borderlands and in the US states bordering Mexico.  The project will be told in three acts tentatively titled La Migra (considering the borderlands and migrant experience), Strange Sueños (considering cultural memory of Mexico) and American Dreams (considering the later stages of Americanization). The final body of work will also incorporate a written component — an accounting of shared stories, memories and dreams collected in the course of photographic capture.

As an immigrant to the United States myself, it is my deep conviction that in order to effectively comment on Americanization, both the internal and external aspects of the process must captured.  As author Neil Gaiman tells us:  “People think dreams aren’t real just because they aren’t made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.” 

To see more of this project, click here.

To attend one of Kris’ workshops, get information here

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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.