This Week in Photography Books: Carl De Keyzer

 

No one alive has experienced a major war on American soil.

No one.

We adults can relate to 9/11, which still seems fresh, but that simply doesn’t compare to a massive ground invasion, where the tanks roll in and start killing people.

Even 9/11, which is the emotional touchstone of so many Americans today, seems like a token holiday to today’s youth.

I know, because I asked.

My students are all 15-18 years old, so not one of them was a sentient being during that horrible day. A few of them said their parents told them about September 11th, but for others, they didn’t even have that.

The consensus was that 9/11, for today’s kids, was akin to D-Day or Veteran’s Day for older generations. (Something that might get you the day off from school, but probably not.) They compared it to the way I might consider Pearl Harbor, which happened more than 30 years before I was born.

In other words, there are exactly NO people born and raised in this country who know what it feels like to be Syrian right now. Or a Congolese. Or even a Northern Mexican, as their Drug War has claimed countless victims right across the border from Trump’s proposed wall. (Maybe Fox News should run a story about El Chapo’s tunnels, JIC our gangsta President has forgotten?)

It’s all a game here in the US, (according to Michael Lewis writing for Vanity Fair,) because none of us is truly familiar with the stakes.

Massive World Wars that kill millions and millions of people, and devastate large parts of continents, are simply too removed from our collective experience.

Worse yet, the ghostly ramifications of the last time people killed each other here, en masse, are still being felt, as the Red State/Blue State divide tracks so-effing-closely with the boundaries of the Union and the Confederacy.

Honestly, I didn’t set out to write another dispiriting column. I know this space used to funny on a regular basis, and perhaps it will again some day. Lord knows I tried to crack 100 jokes at Trump’s expense, but it got us exactly nowhere.

These articles are now beholden to the books that turn up in the mail, and I respond to what I see, so if you guys start shipping in light-hearted, absurdist photo books, I’ll do my best to soften the mood.

Today, though, I want to show you a truly remarkable publication that came in during the Fall, in a batch of books I was sent by the University of Chicago Press. (BTW, if you Chicago-types have seen Obama around, can you please tell him there are 8 billion people out there who could really use his help?)

The book is called “The First World War: Unseen Glass Plate Photographs of the Western Front,” by Carl De Keyzer and David Van Reybrouck, in conjunction with an exhibition that happened in Bruges, Belgium, in 2014-15. It features a trove of previously unseen glass plate images from WWI, that have been digitized and cleaned up, which accounts for the killer contrasts and unscratched surfaces.

The sharpness is a result of the glass plates themselves, sharper than any print, and the color images were apparently made using potato starch, instead of collodion liquid.

I’ve always said I’m most excited when I see something I’ve never seen before, and that certainly happens here. The photographs, which were made by different photographers in Belgium and France, are mind-blowing in the best/worst possible way.

Children playing war games. Masked munitions workers, stuffing bombs for the next slate of killing. Razed villages. Bloated corpses in the mud.

We see an armless man selling souvenir postcards in front of the wreckage of the former tourist-spot. Or a soldier, alone, making a painting of the ruins that stand before him.

There are insanely-crisp photographs of Belgian architecture, taken by occupying German photographers, to preserve what was about to be annihilated. If you don’t see the antecedents of the now-famous, dry, Bernd-and-Hilla-Becher style, you’re simply not looking. (Or you might be my Dad, who doesn’t know about photo history, but reads each week because, you know, he’s my Dad.)

Most shocking of all, if you still have any breath left to exhale, are the set of portraits of young, dead, Belgian soldiers, made just after the war’s inception. They were used, we’re told, to identify the bodies of the young men, who all came from the same village, and died on the second day of WWI.

Big ups to the production team at the U of C Press, because these reproductions are about as good as I’ve seen, printing-quality-wise. They jump off the page and spit in your face, daring you to look away.

The sad truth of my job, which has been bothering me lately, is that no matter what I say, no matter how compelling the material I present here, it will never engage with any of Trump’s army.

That’s where were are in 2017. No amount of information, unless it comes from his mouth directly, can invade the pre-frontal cortex of a true believer.

Not even these pictures, which are definitive proof of what can happen, when things go really wrong.

So why do it?

Well, just yesterday, I went to see the new shows at the Harwood Museum of Art, here in Taos. They hired a new Director last year, and he’s doing great work, so there was much on the wall that moved me. 19th Century Spanish retablos, minimalist Agnes Martin grid prints, and some ink drawings, by novelist John Nichols, of Day-of-the-Dead style skeletons that were so good I smiled.

The first thing I did, when I left the museum, was to walk across the street to the art supply store and buy some good paper, a brush, and some Japanese ink, because all of a sudden, I felt compelled to do something beyond photography.

Inspiration is worth its weight in gold.

So I might not be able to imprint upon the minds of a certain type of American, but I don’t write for them. I write for you guys, the creators and difference makers, and if anything you see today inspires you to fight harder, or enjoy a few minutes of respite from the otherwise dire stories out there, that’s good enough for me.

Bottom Line: Fascinating, scintillating, never-before-seen pictures of WWI.

Click here to purchase “The First World War: Unseen Glass Plate Photographs of the Western Front,”

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

Personal Project: Sara Forrest

- - 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: Sara Forrest

http://saraforrestphoto.com/personal/RODEO-QUEENS/8

Growing up in ‘flyover country’ we were surrounded by the largest expanse of tall prairie grass in the world.  These are the Flint Hills, outside of Topeka, Kansas.  The wind moves through the tall grass, bending it and pushing it in waves, and it feels like you are standing on the edge of a vast green ocean.

My love for environment has always sparked my creativity, and I’m so grateful to have grown up in a family and a place with no preconceived notions of what I could or could not do.  My family and close friends have always encouraged to follow my dreams, so many years ago, I moved from Topeka, Kansas to NYC.  Lately, I find myself romanticizing my experience of growing up on the prairie.  Sometimes it takes leaving a place to realize how much it is a part of who you are.

This Rodeo series was shot in Topeka one late Friday afternoon last fall.  I had always been aware of these competitions, though I never had an opportunity to attend one, so once I found out about it, I grabbed my camera and headed out the door with absolutely no idea of what the next two hours would bring.  I’m so grateful to have spent that afternoon with these wonderful young women.  The contestants were all hopeful and nervous as they prepared for a weekend of competition.  Most of them have been riding horses on their family farms and ranches for as long as they could remember and all of them worked really hard to compete there.  Their enthusiasm was contagious, and every time I see these photos, I’m reminded of how important it is to follow your dreams.

Whether I am working on a personal project or on assignment, I always strive to make images that are honest and authentic.  Photography transcends language and cultural barriers, and my camera gives me the opportunity to share a special moment and energy in a particular space and time. My career as an image maker has allowed me to connect to so many people and unique environments…situations that a young woman growing up on the prairie could only imagine.  I’m so fortunate and so happy to do work I love, and I never take it for granted.

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 Getty Research Institute’s Online Palmyra Exhibition

 

When I got to college in 1992, Pearl Jam was a big deal, and Kurt Cobain was still alive. The first Gulf War had recently ended, and Bill Clinton had not yet assumed office.

As a freshman, I took a Poli Sci class with a fiery professor, and learned a lot about the Cold War, and Spheres of Influence. We were taught about an important book, which had just been released by Francis Fukuyama, which theorized “The End of History.” (Insert ironic joke here.)

It’s now 2017, and for the last three semesters, I’ve been teaching Art History at the local community college. The class is called “Introduction to Art,” and I enjoy sharing my passion with a bunch of Post-Millennials who were reared on screens, calm in the knowledge that Barack Obama had their backs.

As I built my curriculum, I realized that for thousands of years, art was used in service of wealth and power, with few exceptions. This idea of personal expression, speaking truth to power, and radical innovation, that drives the best in contemporary art, would have been unimaginable to our artistic forebears.

Rather, artists and craftspeople were recruited, (if not compelled,) to make objects, buildings and images that communicated directly to an illiterate populace. The message was consistent across cultures: We are in charge. We are the ones bestowed with divine right. Cross us at your peril.

There have always been people who craved power, and were willing to do whatever it took to exercise control over others. Whether out of a desire for riches, because of actual belief in a religious theology, or because they simply craved violence and destruction.

Today, we look back on these artifacts as our collective, cherished history. One can spend hours traversing a great museum, like the Met or the Louvre, and wander amidst objects that reach back 5000 years, and there are often more commonalities than differences. (A basalt Ganesha from India and a basalt giant Olmec head from Mexico are not that different, when you get down to it.)

Hitting up your local museum, if you live in a major city, is far easier than catching a flight to Rome to walk through the Forum, before taking a train to Bari, grabbing the boat to Corfu, taking another boat to Athens, and then perusing the Acropolis for a little compare and contrast.

But sometimes, if you live in the sticks like I do, even getting to a major city can be too much. (Cash, time, you name it.) Thankfully, the best minds, or at least the people in the best museums, have begun to respond to that reality. (And to the fact that the aforementioned youth of today treat their screens as de-facto glass windows into reality.)

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t ramble, but I always get to the point eventually. This month, in our new feature highlighting fascinating digital portfolios, we’re headed back to the 19th Century, when the French sea captain Louis Vignes first visited the ancient Syrian desert Oasis city of Palmyra.

Earlier this year, the Getty Research Institute in LA published, “The Legacy of Palmyra,” which they believe is the world’s first entirely online art exhibition. It features Mr. Vignes’ amazing photographs, alongside other visions of the city, which reached its peak in the 3rd Century AD, before it was conquered by the Romans.

As if we needed further refutation of the absurd idea that history can ever end, (beyond our fearless leader D. Trump,) his best buddy Vlad Putin has used his propaganda outlet, the RT network, to release visions of Palmyra today, as they’ve recently taken the city back from its former captors, ISIS. (Also known in this column as The. Worst. People. In. The. World.)

If you’re unaware, ISIS used Palmyra for target practice, in 2015 and again this year, much as they destroyed priceless historical artifacts in the Iraqi ruins of Nimrud, near Mosul. They released videos of the art-slaughter, which featured gleeful dickheads doing damage to things that belong to all of us. (IMHO.)

The GRI’s exhibition, which is as cool as ISIS is terrible, is an extensive effort to highlight the manner in which history remains relevant. It took a year to produce, featuring copious hours by a well-constructed team, which was led by curators Peter Bonfitto and Frances Terpak.

Ms. Terpak was kind enough to agree to an interview, so I could learn more about the Louis Vignes pictures, and the exhibition in general.

It all began back in 1864, when a French aristocrat, Honoré Théodore Paul Joseph d’Albert, the duc de Luynes, was organizing an expedition to the Middle East, as he was desperate to visit the Dead Sea, among other locations. (Including Petra and Palmyra.)

Many photographers working today are aware of the subset of photo history, in which independently wealthy people have risen to the top rank of the medium. (I’m not naming names, but then again, I don’t have to.) The tradition of the upper crust adventuring and creating is nothing new, and explains the origin of the Vignes photos.

“The duc, given his status, could self-fund this trip to the Dead Sea,” Ms. Terpak said. “He built a small team of scientists, with a geologist, a naturalist, and the duc himself, who studied archaeology and had an interest in biblical studies.”

“He wanted to take someone on the trip who would also record it photographically. With Vignes, what he got was a sailor who also knew the ports in the Eastern Mediterranean, and he was a photographer.”

Much of what transpired has been lost to history, she told me, including whether Louis Vignes made significant work after his excursion, but it is believed the duc hired the famed French photographer Charles Negre to teach Vignes how to make prints in the field.

The Getty Research Institute purchased the Palmyra prints in 2015, and received such an outpouring of interest in a blog story about the acquisition, (and a concomitant promotional Facebook post,) that the curators realized there was an untapped desire for further information. Surprisingly, the acquisition was made before ISIS destroyed much of the Palmyra ruins, but the subsequent ISIS attack made it all the more relevant.

Research institutions like the Getty have a mission to preserve and educate, and working within cyberspace allows them to reach all the people who can’t spend a day exploring the two lovely campuses on the West Side of LA.

Ms. Terpak confirmed as much, when she said, “As I think is evident, we wanted the audience to be everyone. From the specialist who knows Roman History and the Eastern Mediterranean, to the high school student who is approaching current events, and is curious about why Palmyra is important.”

“I think 80% of the site is downloadable. Everything the Getty owns is downloadable, and can be printed.”

She added that the site is also being translated into Arabic at the moment, so it can be better accessed by people who are actually being disrupted by War in the Middle East.

We also discussed why Putin is so intent on associating himself with Palmyra, as it has little strategic import in a larger war. Its power, rather, is symbolic, as it associates him with the history of human civilization, and the many rulers who’ve been etched into stone.

“I think ancient monuments throughout the ages, from the ancient to the present, have always been symbols for rulers to promote themselves, and to show their right to be in power, because they are connected with these great civilizations of the past,” she said.

“I don’t find it surprising that Putin is doing this.”

Lest you doubt me, just today, not minutes before I started writing, I discovered this article claiming that the Syrian Army had “annihilated” one of the perpetrators of the Palmyra destruction, and this fresh video from RT that shows Russian soldiers clearing land mines from the recaptured ruins.

We also discussed why ISIS would go out of its way to do such things. Victors have always raped and pillaged, to our eternal human shame, but this seemed so deliberate. So evil. (A word I typically avoid.)

I asked her why she thought they did it, and she replied, “Syrians don’t want to leave Syria. What people like ISIS are doing is they’re causing not just destruction of the monuments, but they’re forcing the people to leave because they’ve lost their heritage.

“They’ve lost their income. Palmyra was a site for tourism, and by destroying it, it’s destroying its economy.”

Ultimately, though, this is a photography blog, and the Louis Vignes pictures are pretty astonishing. They capture a place that no longer exists, and the thought that we need to reach back to the 19th Century for documentation is rather sad.

That said, Louis Vignes did not see the Palmyra that ISIS encountered, as some of what they destroyed was actually reconstructed by archaeologists in the 20th Century. The Vignes pictures far better reflect the Palmyra that sat, hidden in the desert for centuries, before being “rediscovered” by English explorers in the 18th C.

It was a multi-cultural place, even in antiquity, as it was a cross-roads between the massive Roman Empire to the West, and the Parthian Empire of Persia to the East. Ms. Terpak added that much of the 20th Century scholarship was conducted by Polish and Japanese teams, so the fact that it’s currently being mined by Americans digitally, and Russians IRL, is nothing new.

The Vignes images, quiet as they may be, speak for themselves. While I’m rarely at a loss for words, (including here, as we just cracked 1600,) I don’t think there’s much I need to say, description wise. They’re fantastic, and I’m very grateful that the GRI has allowed us to publish them here. (Again, you can download and print them directly, should you so choose.)

Rather, I think I’ll let Ms. Terpak have the last word on the pictures, as she’s earned the right.

“I think they’re haunting,” she said. “They just evoke the mystique of the place. I’m very upset that I never visited before 2010, because it clearly was a very special place.”

Louis Vignes, self-portrait, 1859, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute

Louis Vignes, 1864, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute

Louis Vignes, 1864, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute

Louis Vignes, 1864, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute

Louis Vignes, 1864, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute

Louis Vignes, 1864, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute

Louis Vignes, 1864, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute

Louis Vignes, 1864, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute

Louis Vignes, 1864, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute

Louis Vignes, 1864, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute

Louis Vignes, 1864, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute

Louis Vignes, 1864, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute

Louis Vignes, 1864, courtesy of the Getty Research Institute

 

The Daily Edit – Design Director/Photo Director/Photographer: Hannah McCaughey

- - The Daily Edit

 



 

 

Outside Magazine

Design Director+Photo Director: Hannah McCaughey
Photography Editor: Amy Silverman
Deputy Art Director: Petra Zeiler
Assistant Photography Editor: Madeline Kelty
Junior Designer: Erica Clifford
Photographer: Hannah McCaughey

Heidi: I loved seeing your images in the latest issue, such a talent. Was this exciting for you?
Hannah: Yes, mainly because it’s a lot of fun, and by shooting a few things in house every month, we stay out of trouble with our accounting department. It allows us to save resources for the more ambitious projects in the magazine.

It’s similar to the way I feel about my design work. I don’t wow myself very often, but I find the process of it thoroughly enjoyable. I’m guessing that it’s this never fully satisfied, quasi-dissatisfaction that propels me forward. With every picture I (very spastically) make, the minute I see it in print, I see only what could have been better about it. It’s not that I’m aiming for perfection. It’s more like a running list of missed opportunities. This kind of thinking is well suited to the “work in progress” nature not just of life, but also of the cyclical nature of magazines. The repetition affords infinite possibilities to learn and grow, and it provides a kind of forgiveness for what went wrong. Much like in real life (although this example never happens), every day that I yell and scream at my kids to get dressed, eat breakfast, put on their shoes, file into the car to get to school on time, I can think about tomorrow and how we’ll be skipping and singing the whole way.

You’ve held the position at Outside as design director and photo director for some time; racking up several design and photography awards. Tell us about your evolution as a photographer.
Part of me was working at staying creatively engaged and satisfied. Sixteen years working on the same title has its wonderful moments and challenges. And I must have had enough bad art-directing moments in a row to where I thought to myself, “Why don’t I just shoot it myself?” And that thought alone was like ding! “Hey. Why. Don’t. I?”

Disclaimer: I’m not sure I’m ready to call what I’m doing photography exactly. I have so much help on both the front end (with assistance setting up all the lights and the camera) and on the back end (with pretty generous retouching). Because I’m so inexperienced, I’m forced to keep things incredibly simple. The idea itself is mainly what these images have going for them. Often, if these weren’t accompanying a specific story, I’m not sure they’d make any sense, and they’re not particularly beautiful or artful. I sometimes wish there was another word for it.

I started super low tech with my iPhone, some Xerox paper (for backdrop and bounce), my desk, and the New Mexico sunlight that comes into my office like a klieg light every afternoon. When I thought I had something that looked even remotely “profesh,” I got up the nerve to ask one of our photo assistants at the time, Michael Karsh, to help me work the camera and set up lights in the studio to shoot it for real. Since he moved back to San Francisco, I have been shooting and learning a lot from Dustin Sammann, who is the most patient and generous teacher on the planet. We created a new kind of freelance position for him: über assistant (when he’s not the photographer himself). Which is basically assisting someone who is super “special”—a.k.a. me.

With your understanding of great photography and composition from your design background, did you feel like, “I can do that”? Clearly, those skills come into play.
Now that I’ve dipped my toes in, I am—more than ever-—blown away by the giant talent and creative genius of the people who contribute to magazines (ours and others). My eyes have been exposed to so much amazing art, dating back to my early days at Rolling Stone in the nineties, and I hope some of it has rubbed off. Some parts of it, like finding a good balance in composition and seeing negative space, come more easily now. But part of the appeal is how much more there is out there for me to learn.

The magazine industry has certainly changed—budgets are lower, multitasking is essential. How does your creative control behind the camera influence your design? Most photographers don’t have a keen understanding of the book as a whole: layout, the volume of text.
Working as the art director gives me a huge, almost unfair leg up on shooting for this magazine. I go into it knowing what the headline is, how much space we have for art, what hasn’t worked in the past, why the story is running in that particular month—or what role it plays in the mix of stories planned for that issue—because I was there in the meeting when it was discussed as a pitch. I know what pitfalls the editors are worried about avoiding, the narrative arc; sometimes I know the writer personally. Add to that, I sit and design pages about 50 steps from where we shoot the art. I can literally ping-pong back and forth between the set and my desk with the layout on my screen (and text on the page) to see whether or not a shot is working. If it doesn’t work, we try something else. And if at day’s end it’s still not working, we try again the next day.

The upshot is that those two halves of my brain—photographer and designer—don’t always agree. Sometimes I’ll have a picture that I would love to see printed and another one that’s better suited to the story. The two halves have to fight it out. In my case, the art director always wins, because she is older (and crabbier). And now I know how that feels for contributors who say, “But why didn’t you print this one? It’s clearly the better photograph.” To which I have to say, “I totally agree, but this one works better for the story.” Not the easiest thing to have to hear or say.

Recently, I had a shoot where I was asking our cover photographer to try it this way and cover it that way “so we could have loads of options.” That’s something I think art directors say because we feel like that’s what’s expected of us by our bosses.  To which he said, “Why? Why do you need options? We have something we both like. We should be done.” It was a record-skipping moment for me, the photographer part of me could totally relate: Why do we feel like we have to “cover it” this way and that way and every way possible? Why can’t we just say that’s amazing! and that’s a wrap? Is this something that happened when we started ordering half caff extra hot no foam 2% lattes at Starbucks? Or, it is because we aren’t shooting film so we feel like why not shoot it every which way? I don’t know the answer to this one.

What made you choose to start doing still-life? Was this partially a response to the expense of sending gear out to get shot?
We have two amazing and talented photographers who shoot the mountains of gear that come through our offices for Outside and the two annual Buyer’s Guides, Inga Hendrickson and Dustin Sammann. That’s not something the magazine would ever need me to venture into. My happy place right now is conceptual still-life, which historically had been very difficult for us to assign. Sometimes it involves using a model to get a certain concept across (the Simplify package, for instance), but more often it means using basic objects from everyday life as symbols for something conceptual or hard to shoot, such as flexibility, traumatic brain injury, mental training, etc. And I like to shoot our one-page style and grooming pages just because there is a lot of freedom as far as what we can do. Young photographers always say to me, “I like to shoot people!” and I think, “Not me!” I much prefer to be alone in a dark room, just me and some random objects.

I know at Outside you transformed your gym into a photo studio—smart move. Did you propose this to the company? How hard was it to set up?
Rob Haggart came up with this idea. He was the one who got Larry Burke, the owner of the magazine, excited and on board to make the investment. He consulted various photographers on ordering the cameras and the lights and equipment and the design of the space itself—all of it, and years later it’s still a fantastic studio and a savvy business decision.

Describe how it feels to have done the entire layout from shooting, design and photo editing? Is it hard to be your own critic?
I think I’m getting better at being my own critic. It’s probably the most awkward for Amy Silverman, our photo editor, to pipe up when she doesn’t like something I’ve shot. I deliberately don’t mention it to the editors that I made the photographs when I first show them a layout, so they don’t get put in an awkward position. Because I’m such a beginner, I never care when they say, “Can we find something else for that?” And, it’s probably good to get thick-skinned about it.

Since now you do the job of three, what would you say are the challenges and benefits?
I feel like I made my bed on this one. I have a lot of designing and art directing left in me to do, and I enjoy it so much, that if I gave it up I would really miss it. By adding shooting to my list, I’ve made my life a lot busier but also more interesting and rewarding.

Do you remember you first assignment for the magazine, what it was like to see your image in print?
Yes! It was a very cool, somewhat scary moment. It was a broken melon duct-taped back together for a story about recovering from traumatic brain injury. I remember trying really hard not to be too precious about the retouching and the layout and the printing of it. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t giving it more attention than the other images in the issue as if the other photographs would tell on me.

Which thrills you the most of all the things you are currently doing?
At the moment, I’m doing a little DIY lighting seminar by moving objects around on my desk in the afternoon sun, mainly during long conference calls.

Do all art directors just want to shoot?
Yes! We do! Thank you, it feels so good to admit it. No, I’m kidding. In all my years of going on shoots for features and covers, I never wanted to be the photographer. How they manage the Herculean feat of juggling the big crowded set, managing all the assistants, dealing with the clients, the stylists and the groomers, the talent, the talents’ people, and, most importantly, pulling genius artwork out of all that chaos? I could no more fly to the moon.

It wasn’t until I found this quieter, calmer side of photography that I could even imagine myself shooting. What I could not have known is how incredibly gratifying it is for the cheerleader to jump in the game. I had no idea how much fun everyone was having. My hope is that the photographer in me is helping the art director and designer find better ways of communicating with our contributing photographers, now that I have a better understanding of the entire process. But on the flip side, I’ve noticed that if a photographer starts making excuses why they can’t or won’t do something for a story or a cover, I’m like “C’mon, quit yer whining!”

Tell us about being a woman in a lead position.
In my experience, being a woman in charge can be an incredibly tricky thing to maneuver. I’ve been going to various locations for feature and cover shoots all these years thinking that surely as I gain more experience, that would equal more respect. It’s true that I get to reap the benefits of being the more in-touch, capable, intelligent, compassionate, hard-working, better-at-multitasking, relatable, sensitive, and emotionally sensitive gender. The bad news is—and studies have proven this—that women don’t get heard as well as men because they’re not as well regarded. For my job, this has meant that in order to get what we need for the magazine, I sometimes have to come out louder, pushier, and more demanding than I’m sure my male counterparts have to be. Depressingly, being the “B—tch” seems like a way too easy booby trap for women in charge to fall into. And maybe part of me is tired of that. Which explains why shooting pictures (versus art-directing them) is so satisfying to me. It means being fully heard and seen, and not prejudged or discounted, and that feels really good.

The Daily Promo: Drew Gurian

- - The Daily Promo

Drew Gurian

Who printed it? 
Prestone Printing in Queens, NY printed the piece.

Who designed it?
Catherine Gray– an amazing creative director who splits her time between New York City and London.

Who edited the images?
Catherine and I worked on the image edit together.  I’ve depended on a group of friends, as well as hiring photo editors to help with image edits, who generally have an editorial background.  This was a bit different for me, in that I worked with someone embedded in the advertising world who’s not a photo editor by trade.  I really loved her perspective on my work, and since I’ve been meeting with lots of agencies, it made perfect sense to work with her.

How many did you make?
100

How many times a year do you send out promos? 
In the past, I’ve sent out small promos 4-5 times per year, but this promo is much more substantial (and costly).  With that said, this will certainly be my main promo for the year, marketing to a very specific group of people.  I plan to follow-up with some more simple promos as well throughout the year.

This Week In Photography Books: Eric Etheridge

by Jonathan Blaustein

Remember when people used to talk about the 24 hour news cycle?

How quaint.

These days, we’ve got a 60/60/24/7/365 news cycle, brought to you by the fine folks at Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc.

Personally, I don’t submit to the Borg all the time. I jump off email and social media each night at 5pm, and take the weekends off as well, so I avoid losing myself in the endlessness of it all.

Because it never. ever. stops.

There’s so much out there that I’m just as likely to get a sense of things during my “work hours,” as there is still plenty of time to look for memes and CULTURALLY SIGNIFICANT TWEETS.

For instance:

Just since Friday, we’ve had the American professor in Korea who got interrupted by his adorable kids during his BBC Skype interview. At first, he knocked his daughter back like he was Frank Costanza reaching across at a jarring traffic stop.

His wife came in, trying to be stealthy like a ninja, but the camera caught it all. At first, the guy was criticized for being a grump, instead of taking his child on his lap and making light of the whole thing.

Then, media scrutiny switched to the people who’d mistakenly assumed the Asian woman was his nanny, not his wife.

Is that racist?

If not, I know something that is definitely racist. Steve King, a sitting US Congressman from Iowa, tweeted that he couldn’t wait for America to become homogenous, as foreign babies were ruining civilization.

His tweet was received enthusiastically by more overt scumbags, like David Duke and Richard Spencer. Then Representative King doubled-down, (rather than retracting,) and stressed that Western Civilization was superior to all others.

Not to be outdone, Kellyanne Conway may or may not have said that Barack Obama spied on Donald Trump with microwaves.

And finally, today, Jorg Colberg tweeted an article, which I promptly read, in which a British cultural critic named Adam Curtis persuasively argued that art was no longer rebellious, in any way, as its ethos of personal expression had so perfectly been absorbed by the insatiable beast that is Global International Capitalism.

It was a good piece, and got me thinking a bit, as I often wonder if so much of what I do, with my writing and photographic work, isn’t just preaching to the crowd.

Even photography itself, once a specific habit, has been appropriated across the globe by EVERYONE.

Is art still relevant, if it’s only used to trumpet individual voices, one at a time in a sea of noise, as everyone else now has platforms to scream ME ME ME ME ME simultaneously?

I’m glad you asked. (Seriously, that was an astute question.)

I’m feeling pretty good about art, right now, having just put down “Cocoon” a new book that documents a public sculpture done by Kate Browne in the Goutte D’Or neighborhood in Paris, back in 2014.

This one came in not too long ago, as the photographer, Eric Etheridge, (Ms. Browne’s husband,) saw my review of the book that Matthew Chase-Daniel and Jerry Wellman made from their public art project on the Navajo Nation.

He noticed similarities, and hoped I might like his collaborative book as well.

Eric, you were right. This was the perfect book for me to see today.

The gist is that Kate Browne has engaged in a series of public art projects in places with fraught, violent histories. There were Cocoons in Mexico City, on the site where the Aztecs were vanquished by the Spanish, and two in Mississippi that investigated the dark history of Slavery and Jim Crow.

This endeavor was done in Goutte d’Or, a historically North African, Parisian neighborhood that has become a way station for many on the contemporary European Refugee Circuit.

The artist builds communities during her projects, while engaging those same communities in the construction of her sculptures. She offers workshops, and other programs, that reach directly into the neighborhood, and teaches people how to make their own little cocoons, personal talismen, to represent difficulties in their pasts.

There is a section of the book that is almost exactly what Matthew and Jerry did, as residents are photographed in a white, studio environment, holding their personal totems. How wild, that two ideas took hold on opposite sides of the world.

But that’s only a small part of this book, as there are opening essays, including two by local community organizers, and it ends with a litany of direct interviews from project participants, describing their racial and cultural pasts.

Essentially, this book refutes the idea that art is only about yelling “hey look at me” in an obnoxious echo chamber. There are countless artists out there who work with others to build teams. To enhance society. To make a difference in people’s lives.

I wrote last week about that famously Chinese ending in “Hero,” in which the greater good is presented as noble, and duty paramount, while individual desire appears sinful in context. That used to give me the willies, as I thought it meant that China intended to rule the world.

Now, though, I’ve begun to wonder whether America isn’t wounded, as it’s become so much harder for people to work together, or even get along, across the partisan divide.

I don’t want to end on a negative thought, though. One defining feature of the Cocoon series is that the sculptures, like their namesake, are temporary. After a public procession at the end of its construction, the Cocoon is lit up, enjoyed for 2 days, and then struck from the scene.

This book serves as proof of its existence. True. But if you read these stories, and look at the vibrance in the photographs, it’s clear that the Cocoon project strengthened a group of marginalized people, if only for a little while.

Bottom Line: Cool book that documents an inspiring, collaborative, public art project in Paris

The Art of the Personal Project: Kris Connor

- - Personal Project

Personal Projects are crucial in showing potential buyers how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or show something I have never seen before. In this revised column, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: projects are found and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s Featured Artist: Kris Connor

Artist’s statement:

“We knew that it would need to be his decision,” says Amy Rough, the mother of  Dawson, an energetic nine-year-old boy from Meyerdale, Pennsylvania. About his decision to have limb lengthening done in the summer of 2012. He was born with achondroplasia, the most common type of dwarfism. The same type of dwarfism that I was born with. 

Achondroplasia was not the only thing Dawson and me had in common. In the spring of 1994, I had my first limb lengthening procedure done by the same group of doctors as Dawson. Over the next five years I would go through an additional three operations to gain 12 inches on my legs and four inches on my arms. 

Limb lengthening and the complex reconstruction of bone materials is not only possible but has been performed successfully for about 50 years, starting in Kurgan, Russia. Limb lengthening and reconstruction techniques is used to lengthen and/ or straighten deformed bone segments. The limb lengthening and deformity correction process works on the principle of distraction. In this process, a bone that has been cut during surgery can be gradually distracted (pulled apart), leading to new bone formation, or osteogenesis, at the site of the lengthening. In this way, bone segments can be lengthened by 15 to 100 percent of their original length.*

The story has been told more than once by other photographers, but the one thing that would separate me from these other photographers. Is that I have traveled the same path as my subjects…in a sense I would be looking into the mirror. I would have an understanding about the pain, doing hours of physical therapy each day, spending my summer in a wheelchair and getting to miss out on some of the activities that my childhood friends were able to participate in.

Starting with his fixatures being put on July 17th, 2012 and standing at 3.5 feet. I followed Dawson’s journey through his first procedure over the next six months that would see him gain four inches from the surgery. “First couple of days were rough! He is smiling again through it all,” said Amy a few days after the surgery. 

http://www.krisconnor.com/portfolio/C0000WcdzozgDX4c/G00007.z22Y6qtwQ

—————

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.

Expert Advice: LinkedIn

- - Expert Advice

By Rachel Walburn, Wonderful Machine

An active social media effort should be part of every photographer’s overall marketing strategy. LinkedIn has some unique features that make it an essential part of that strategy. Namely, it’s the only platform that is strictly business to business, making it easy to find and connect with clients and for them to find you. While LinkedIn is ideal for creating connections, it is also an excellent way to cultivate relationships and promote your brand. We have some advice on not only how to make your profile stand out to get those connections you’d like, but also how to market your brand!

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer​​

photo by Saverio Truglia

CREATING A PROFILE

LinkedIn is an online resume allowing you to share your experience, skills, and interests. It’s primarily a professional platform, but there’s an opportunity for you to show off your unique personality as well.

To create a basic profile, LinkedIn will prompt you for your name, your job title, your location (probably your nearest big city), your industry (probably Photography), and your work history. We recommend inputting your first and last name and then entering your company name as your current job. After getting these basics squared away, we recommend customizing your profile to add in your personality.

You can start off by creating a custom URL. When you make your LinkedIn account, LinkedIn will assign you a URL based on your name plus some random numbers, like linkedin.com/in/joeblow-2334234. LinkedIn gives you the ability to edit that, so create text that matches up as closely as possible with your brand. So instead of linkedin.com/in/joeblow-2334234, it might be better to have it read linkedin.com/in/joeblow-photography. To change this, please see our lovely staff member Ken’s profile below. Detailed instructions describing the process are explained on LinkedIn’s help page.

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

Your headline counts. Instead of writing “Photographer” or “Freelance Photographer,” make it specific. Try “Photographer Specializing in Corporate and Architecture Photography.” Quick changes like this can take you from one of many to one that’s above the rest. Potential clients want to know who and what they’re viewing quickly and if it’s the right fit for them, so it’s important that your profile is thoughtful and complete.

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

Jordan Hollender makes a very clear and descriptive use of his headline by noting that his company HollenderX2 is not just a husband and wife photo team but a duo specializing in conceptual images and portraits.

Make sure your profile picture is of you, not a model you’ve photographed. Keep it professional and in line with the rest of your branding – preferably without a camera hiding your face!

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

D. Scott Clark’s professional profile image on LinkedIn.

You can also brighten things up on your brand’s page by adding banners. If you’re a photographer, you can upload a picture or a series of images to help bring out your personality and make your profile unique.

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

Vance Jacob’s LinkedIn banner showcases examples of some of his portraits.

Use your summary to share your background and tell your story. Be personable and speak directly to the reader. Engage them, so they’re interested in learning more about you. Treat this overview like an elevator pitch of who you are as a photographer. Keep it short and straightforward. LinkedIn allows you to include images, documents, and links throughout your page. You can post a direct URL to your website (or specific pages within your site), and you can include photos or video. Having a few examples of your work in your summary is an excellent way to add visuals to break up boxes of text and give clients a sample of your actual work!

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

Vance Jacob’s LinkedIn summary. Vance elegantly breaks up his bio with thumbnail image links directly to sections of his website.

Include personal interests and hobbies, certifications, causes that you’re interested in and volunteer work you’ve done; even if it was years ago. It’s sometimes those details that make it easy for others to relate to you.

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

Liz Nemeth mentions her volunteer work and interests in children and families on her LinkedIn. This information shows clients her personality and these causes are reflected in the subject matter of her photographs! Your volunteer work is a great way to emphasize your passions are show your depth beyond photographic skills.

NETWORKING: FINDING CLIENTS

By creating a detailed profile, you’ll be making it easy for clients and others in our industry to find you. LinkedIn also provides a number of tools to make it easy for you to find others and to cultivate relationships within our industry.

When you first create a profile on LinkedIn, you won’t have any connections. Start by sending a connection request to people you already know and who are likely to accept your connection. Past clients and photographers who you have a strong relationship with would be ideal people to add. With those connections, you’ll be able to send out a connection request to others who have their privacy settings set so that you must share a common connection before you can request them. With each connection you add (these are your 1st connections), your 2nd and 3rd connections will also grow. You can ask someone in your immediate network for an introduction to a 2nd or 3rd connection if you see a connection that has great potential. You will see this option on your toolbar on the right under another handy tool which shows people similar to the profile you are on:

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

As your network expands, more people will see you and your searches will yield more results. Since LinkedIn uses this algorithm, we recommend connecting with clients in the industry who are going to hire you or introduce you to industry professionals that can help to advance your career. You want to only connect with photographers who can endorse or introduce you to a client.

Follow companies that interest you. Once you follow a company, you’ll receive updates including job opportunities and other news that it shares on your LinkedIn homepage.

To find clients you’d like to work with, look at the company profile page to see who the creative director, art director, photo editor, or marketing director is. Those will be the people that are most likely to hire photographers or be interested in photography and the ones you want to connect with.

RECOMMENDATIONS & ENDORSEMENTS

While Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are great for building a following, showcasing your images, and casual interaction; clients may not be able to get a sense of what it will be like to work with you. LinkedIn serves as a recommendation letter. Users can easily endorse the skills and expertise you list on your page, and in turn, it’s an easy way to confirm what you can do. Even better, users you’ve worked with in the past can write a recommendation discussing their experience with you. Nothing is more valuable to a client than seeing that you’re professional, experienced and a pleasure to work with.

So, how do you get a recommendation? You can contact up to three connections at a time to ask them to recommend you. Try writing a thoughtful recommendation for some connections you had great experiences with. This feedback might inspire them to do the same! Recommendations double as a thoughtful way to say thank you and make an impression that will help you stay on someone’s mind. Not only will recommendations show up on your LinkedIn page, but they will also be visible on the page of the user who wrote it for you – allowing all of their connections to see you shine as well.

To request recommendations from a particular person: Go to their profile, click on the drop down menu under their name and select recommend. From here you can write a recommendation, or you can choose to Ask for a Recommendation.

Endorsements are great because you essentially get to select the skill areas you’d like to be endorsed it! Don’t forget to set up these skills on your page by simply clicking add skill and typing your areas of expertise.

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

Christina Gandolfo’s LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is full of networking opportunities to help you find the right professionals. And like many other social media sites, you have access to it right at your fingertips through its mobile app making it easy to stay connected and active almost anywhere in the world. Think of LinkedIn just as you would Twitter, Instagram or Facebook in regards to posting content! On the homepage, you can use: Share an update, Upload a photo or Write an article to keep your audience posted on new work, features, tearsheets and pieces written on your work. These posts will show up directly in your connections newsfeeds, like Facebook, and the content will permanently live on your LinkedIn profile page.

Expert Advice, LinkedIn, Wonderful Machine, Rachel Walburn, Photography, Photographer

Justin Bastien’s LinkedIn posts live on his profile page permanently after being featured on his connections newsfeeds.

A free account offers all of the features above, and if you decide to upgrade, you’ll gain access to even more connections, have the ability to make more targeted searches and receive more information on who’s viewing your profile. You’ll receive a number of InMail messages– these allow you to directly contact people even if they aren’t in your network. There are a few different options available, and LinkedIn sometimes offers free trials to see if an upgrade is right for you.

Need help with your marketing? Give Rachel Walburn at Wonderful Machine a shout!

The Daily Edit – Stock Pot Images: Ophelia Chong

- - The Daily Edit

Cover photo by Bettina Monique

 

 

Feature story by Josh Fogel

 

Above Images: Seagrass Photography

 


Photographer: James Walker

Stock Pot Images

Heidi: How long did you watch the trends in market before you felt it was a viable business?
Ophelia: My sister came to visit and she has an autoimmune disease, and she took a chance on ingesting cannabis to see if it could alleviate her condition, as I was watching her I thought “whoa, she’s a stoner”, it made me sad to think she would be stereotyped as that and not as a medical patient. A day later I had an epiphany that came to me in the shower to start a cannabis stock agency, I jumped out of the shower and started to google images, and found all of them lacking and stereotypical. A month later I had the LLC in my hands. Before January 8th, 2015, I might have smoked cannabis about ten times. I hit the ground like a tornado, read, got a medical marijuana card, went to dispensaries, attended cannabis events, I dove in like a crane after a sardine. With 28 states including DC having some cannabis legislation, the timing was perfect. California just passed Prop 64 which allows adult use of cannabis, and the prediction is $6.46 billion by 2020, and StockPot Images is there to service the needs of this unstoppable industry. After launching 4/20/2015 we are now over 200 contributors and over 17K in images and video. After careful consideration of the wonderful agencies that approached us, last Monday March 6th we signed an exclusive agreement with Adobe Stock to carry our library in the Premium Collection, this was a wonderful validation of our hard work over the last two years.  NOTE: Predictions from Forbes and revenue estimates from Time Magazine.

Have you observed market trends before and responded?
When I was the creative director for Workbook Stock, I was a huge fan of DIY zines, I started to see a resurgence of the hand-made, the guerilla style, the collageing of emphera and what I wanted to do was to take that for Workbook Stock’s marketing. I pitched the idea to give an artist our stock photography and to add their own illustrative style and incorporate it into a piece that spoke about creativity inspired by stock photography. I hired Adam Larson to create his sensual photo collages, his work won multiple awards and set him on his path out of an agency to his own.

If I wanted to be a contributor for the agency, what’s the process?
Cannabis has been prohibited in the US for 80 years, and because of that access to the plant was controlled. That being said, there are not many photographers of cannabis out there, at the beginning I searched Flickr, and social media to sign my first photographers, after 3 months I no longer need to search, I get inquiries every week and on the average sign 2 – 3 a week. All anyone has to do is to reach out to me and send me a portfolio to look at.

Do you have a team that reviews the caption and strains?
No, I am a one woman band, from curator to office manager to keyworder to bill payer.

You were the creative director at Workbook, what sets your agency apart ( features, specificity?)  
The most obvious is that we specialize in cannabis digital media, and I went from a staff of many to just myself, what I learned while at Workbook was what everyones’ responsibilities were. I observed and asked questions, and learned on the fly, under at times the most stressful times. I remember there was a period where I was designing a magazine, two stock books on top of my normal workload. I produced, curated, designed and sourced everything, and because of that I was able to get the full spectrum from idea to fulfillment.

How else are you connected to the industry?
Community Liaison: THC Design
I have been given the chance to lead the community outreach for a company that has the most diverse staff I’ve been a part of. I am working with veterans, LGBT, disabled and minority communities. My program is not about putting the THC logo on an event or to get “likes” on social media, it is about grass roots work to build a community that we advocate and become advocates for cannabis.

Creative Consultant:  PUSH MAG
I have worked with Abigail Ross at Dope over a year, and we produced feature articles and covers for Dope together with the photographers of StockPot Images. After Abigail left, we along with five other women created PUSH MAG, a magazine that is for the millennial woman in cannabis. Our mission is to be a voice that pushes back, to encourage other women, to celebrate the intrinsic need to be a strong community by saying it’s okay to scream and kick out of the box.

Asian Americans for Cannabis Education: Co-founder / Presently running the whole shebang

I took over AACE from my other co-founders, they had a full plate so I am not carrying the mantel. My goal is to find like-minded Asians in the cannabis community to help de-stigmatize the medicinal use of cannabis. In the last month I’ve found many who are going to join this journey with me, from all walks of life.

What other organizations are you involved with that an aligned with Stock Pot Images?
I am involved with Supernova Women, we are women of color in the cannabis industry, we educate, we promote, we support. ( I am going to be on the board of directors in mid march)

How did that name come about for the agency?
I had names on the whiteboard; all of them were too “weed-centric”. One day I was standing in the kitchen staring at a pot….

It took me a year to get the trademark, because each time the USTPO attorney clicked on the site, their “warning” radar came up. Then it was that the term “stock pot” was too generic, so my attorney suggested “stockpot” and it went through.

My banking story is since I am ancillary, I can get a bank account. However the bank I was with over 2 decades turned me down, I took all my money out of the bank and walked across the street to another bank and they took me on without a word. Cannabis is a schedule one drug so therefore you cannot have a bank account, it is a major downside to the industry that we have to manage all of in cash.

What’s the creative ethos behind the imagery?
Our mission is to offer the true faces and communities of cannabis, none of the subjects are models, and all are real users who signed model releases because they believe in our mission. We have two portraits that I am most proud of, one is of a 70-year-old African-American man, in his Sunday best holding a joint, the other a 90-year-old Chinese grandmother tending to her small cannabis plants. The gentleman is heavy with history, the history of incarceration of African-American men for the simple possession of cannabis.

A Chinese Grandmother tends to her Cannabis Plants by Linus Shentu

African-Americans only make up 13% of the population of the US, yet they make up 25% of prisoners, 60% of the people in jail are people of color. The Chinese grandmother represents the duality of the Chinese immigrant to follow the law and to not rock the boat; she is changing the paradigm by doing what she does on a daily basis.

Do you art direct photographers?
I only art direct my photographers (195 of them) when we need specific images. I am delightfully surprised by each of their uploads, it’s Christmas everyday.

The Daily Promo – Andrew White

- - The Daily Promo
 
Who printed it?
I printed this piece as well as my print book at Soli in Kansas City. They’ve always been good to me, and guided me through paper stocks and printing processes. Added bonus that I can pedal from the studio to check out proof sheets, and they let me bring my bike inside.

Who designed it?
Gage Wente at RW2 and I designed it. We wanted different dimensions than an internet printed 8.5 x 11 book so that it had more impact, but close to it to capitalize on shipping and envelope costs. It ended up being a taller format based off the cover option that worked best.

Who edited the images? and did the pairings?
I edited the images with input from Lyndon Wade of The Wade Brothers. My work is split among sports, music, and portraiture, and all needed to be represented evenly. Similarly, I made sure there was a good mix of advertising, label, editorial, and personal work.

How many did you make?
I printed 250. 100 went in the mail, 50 were handed out in person, and the rest are on hand for leave behinds or for new contacts that come up.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This piece is pretty comprehensive of my work from the past 18 months so I don’t imagine I’ll do another like it till next year. But I plan on sending out specific project promos. I just wrapped a book for the Nashville Visitors Bureau, so I’ll do a piece with those images around mid-year. And I’m directing a live action sports project which I’ll do an accompanying marketing campaign for.

I had this piece set to release in December, but held off until January. Didn’t want it to get lost in holiday party hangovers, better to land on desks when work ramps up and budgets are fresh. Here’s a digital version to check out. It’s a not as cool as the printed version but at least I’m certain the mailman won’t lose it!

This Week In Photography Books: Bruce Morton

by Jonathan Blaustein

Whether you realize it or not, this column has undergone a sizable change over the last few months.

For five years, almost all the books we reviewed were borrowed from photo-eye in Santa Fe. They have a great selection of photo-books, for sure, but the types of books I wrote about were limited to what they had.

Furthermore, photo-eye is famous for getting small batch publications from weird, artsy publishers, so I often wrote about books like that. My friend Melanie, who worked there forever, would handpick a large stack of books, and they mostly consisted of big-time artists and the aforementioned edgy/Euro/Japanese stuff.

As of November, though, we ended our long relationship with photo-eye. Though people began sending me books a few years ago, our selections were heavily filtered through photo-eye, but now they’re coming from you.

It’s true that I can (and do) request books from publishers now, whenever I get a particularly juicy press release, but the guts of what I write about comes from the audience that reads this column.

What a populist notion.
How Trumpian of me.

I’m not saying the books will be better, nor worse, and I do hope we’ll be able to maintain our global perspective. But I think you’re already seeing that some of my selections seem more off-beat than they used to.

Things turn up in the mail.
I look at them.

So much of what I’ve reviewed in the last 5+ years has trended international. I can conjure images of Kazakstan or Calcutta as easily as I can pictures of New York. (OK. I admit it. We do show a lot of stuff from NYC. You got me.)

But it’s 2017 right now, Bub.
Get with the times, you know what I mean.

Trump might wear a blue tie to fool the gobsmacked, but he knows that his supporters are red-meat-and-red-hat-loving white people in the middle of the country. In so many cases, their lives are no better than they were in the late 90’s, and in some cases they’re worse.

The jobs that came back in the Obama recovery, Post-08, skipped rural America, and still others that were there even fifteen years ago have fled, like highwaymen who know the Pinkertons are coming.

Opioid epidemics and underfunded educational systems mean that large parts of rural America have been left behind by gleaming cities and Iphone-robot-sex-dolls and Silicon Valley and arugula-eating elites.

(My Republican Uncle even wrote the word “Proletariat” in a Post-Oscars Facebook post. What is this, Russia?)

Trump is right about one thing, though.
I’ll give him that.
He says the media is biased, and liberal, and of course that’s true.

We are the media. Right?
And we ARE highly educated, occasionally elitist, but most definitely liberal.

When we visit places, like Appalachia or El Salvador, we’re carrying our politics and context with us, so it often takes an insider to give us a more nuanced perspective. And given the state of the times, wouldn’t it be nice to get a glimpse into the world of heartland white people?

Luckily, “Forgottonia: The Audience,” a new self-published book by our friend Bruce Morton, turned up in the mail a month or so ago. Like Jeanine Michna-Bales the other week, Bruce is an artist I met at portfolio reviews whose work I’ve featured in this column before.

In fact, I showed a few of these very images a year and a half ago. Bruce was getting the project up and running, and I remember thinking that these color pictures of people in gatherings, in Bruce’s home area of Western Illinois, were just snarky enough to be a naughty.

The people were large, in so many cases, and I could feel class distinctions tallying up in my head like abacus figures.

Click Clack.
Click Clack.

But in Bruce’s handsome, gray, soft-cover, perfect-bound book, the tone is completely different. His take on things is interesting, in that he moved back to his hometown of Bowen, IL a few years ago after decades in Phoenix, where he got an MFA in photography at the great ASU program.

Bruce is of this place, then got his head filled with technique, theory, and decades of living amid other cultures, before returning home. That combination of curiosity mixed with empathy mixed with a local’s knowledge makes this one of the most interesting books about rural America I’ve seen.

I’ve typically been impressed by Bruce’s image-making craftsmanship, but these are far more casual than I’m used to. The photo professor in me occasionally blanched at some of his snapshot-style cropping.

But these pictures are honest, direct, and most certainly not condescending. They take us inside a world that looks like a different American reality, because it IS a different American reality.

I almost blushed when I saw the heavy acne on the forehead of a high school basketball player. I felt it in my gut, yet also had flashbacks to sitting on the bench, against Mater Dei, the night George HW Bush invaded Iraq to kick off the First Gulf War.

About half-way through, there’s a really slick bit of editing that bears mention. First, we see a wonderful shot of a yard strewn with empty white chairs. Then, the very next picture features a gaggle of African-Americans, crowded together on a public bench, while a few nice fold-up chairs sit empty before them.

Gut-punch.

Of course it’s the only photo of African-Americans, or any people of color for that matter, in the entire volume. (Shout out to Paula Gillen, who’s credited with the editing.)

There is a delicacy and a sweetness to this book that is the opposite of snark and derision. It’s respectful in a way that perhaps only a native son could muster, especially one who has seen the outside world, then still come home in the end.

Bottom Line: Fascinating, warm-hearted look at heartland America.

To Purchase “Forgottonia: The Audience” Go Here: http://www.bruce-morton.net/books/forgottonia-the-audience

The Art of the Personal Project: Cade Martin

Personal Projects are crucial in showing potential buyers how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or show something I have never seen before. In this revised column, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: projects are found and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s Featured Artist: Cade Martin

Cade Martin – Tattoo Series

To see more: http://cademartin.com/personal/

So often my personal projects are sparked by something small, and just as often I take that idea and run with it on a moments notice. This series of tattoo portraits came to be when on a break during a project, a client and I somehow got to talking about tattoos – I don’t think she had one. She mentioned a tattoo festival – the DC Tattoo Arts Expo – being held the following week in the Washington DC area and asked if I was going. I don’t have any tattoos myself but I was intrigued. My personal projects, a lot of times, have me chasing characters and stories they put forth. The thought of all those people with their stories essentially written on their bodies at one location was something I wanted to experience. From there I hustled to rent a space at the tattoo expo and set up a photo booth. 
 
I have used the photo booth set up before for portrait projects, having a ready backdrop and a space for people to step out of the commotion of the convention hall, seems to create an instant curiosity. At the tattoo expo, we simply asked people walking around the convention hall if I could create their portrait. I photographed everyone against a grey backdrop within our makeshift studio – a few minutes with each person, lights and all. 

In postproduction, we went to work exploring & sampling the tattoos on each of the subject’s torsos; from there we created a unique personal tapestry background for every subject. The idea was to create a uniquely textured and scene into which the subjects would be immersed, promoting the rich, multi-layered stories and characters.

The people I gravitated to had complete coverage and amazingly detailed tattoo work, it was such a clear commitment & passion on their part. The whole experience turned out to be a blast – talking and working with people from all walks of life bonded by their common interests.

I followed the DC shoot with another tattoo event south of LA and it was an equally amazing experience, both as a spectator and as a photographer. As is always the case with my portrait projects, I feel truly honored to be let in and given permission to share what I capture. It was amazing to spend a few passing minutes with these people and to see how they are expressing themselves – I found it captivating, equally mysterious and revealing. But, I still don’t have any tattoos.

You can see the behind the scenes video here: https://vimeo.com/175869636

http://www.briteproductions.net/cade-martin

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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 – The New Yorker: Victor J. Blue

- - The Daily Edit

The New Yorker


Director of Photography:
Joanna Milter

Art Director: Nicholas Blechman
Photo Editor: Thea Traff
Photographer: Victor J. Blue for The New Yorker
Full story here
Photo Booth feature with Victor here

 

Heidi: How long were you on assignment for this story?
Victor: We worked on the piece for 6 weeks.

What was the hardest aspect of this assignment?
As with any military operation, there was a lot of “hurry up and wait.” It was tough to stay sharp and keep shooting when the down time dragged on, and to balance it with the more dynamic times.

Did you learn anything new about yourself for this project?
I learned that I need to trust a little bit more, and I need to count on my second and third impressions of people and situations as much as my first one. A few times, guys that I thought weren’t really into our presence ended up being some of the ones I eventually connected to the most.

Did you have any protection?
Well, we had body armor and helmets. But we did not work with a security advisor or anything like that. It was just me, Luke Mogelson the writer, and our buddy Sardar, our fixer and translator. We looked out for each other.

How many languages do you speak?
I speak English and Spanish. The Spanish didn’t help me out much on this one.

For each published image how many frames were shot in that scenario?
That’s really hard to say. It just depends. Sometimes only a few, sometimes hundreds. I can say that we ended up publishing like 22 photos total, and I ended up with about 300 selects.

You have a gift for being accepted into closed/difficult communities, how do you earn their trust?
I just try to be really open with people, and easygoing. I try not to be a “bro” or fake about who I am or what I’m doing there. Folks usually seem to relate to that and while it doesn’t ingratiate you off the bat, it earns trust over time.

What coping skills to you use to deal with the intensity of the work you do?
When I’m working I write quite a lot, and I think that helps. When I get home, one of the hardest things for me is not wanting to let the experience go- to not slip back into my spoiled first world existence. But that happens and I guess that’s natural. I make a concerted effort to reconnect with my friends and loved ones. I usually get sad sometimes, and I try to pour that into the editing of the pictures.

This is your life’s work, what cues do you now have that tell you it’s not the right moment to take a photograph or the situation is too intense?
There was a moment that happened like the second day- one of the SWAT members came tearing into the base collapsing and crying- he had just found out his wife and children had been taken by ISIS. It was a really intense moment and we had just shown up. I was torn about what to do, but I hung back and didn’t really make a picture. I was betting that taking it slow with these guys, earning their trust before I jump in their face like that would pay off, and it did. Later, when things were way crazier, no one ever got mad at me making pictures. You just have to take it slow, figure it out, and be smart as well as brave about raising your camera when things get intense.

You are documenting some horrific situations, how do you cope with this form of photography while you are doing it? and after 
I just try hard to concentrate on the pictures, on understanding what’s going on, and making powerful images of that. It’s my job to take pictures of very serious circumstances. If I couldn’t cope with it, that would be fine, but it would be irresponsible for me to go there to do it. Then I ought to be shooting other types of stories. That’s what makes us professionals- our ability to function in what are difficult, fluid, and at times dangerous scenarios.

Have you ever self-edited feeling that an image was too much to share?
I’m not sure I believe that anything is too intense to photograph. It’s my job to interpret something horrific and make a picture of it that people can look at. I don’t think I pull too many punches. Of course sometimes the circumstances around making pictures require me to think about what’s going on- I have to be careful to be an honest witness and not work as a propaganda arm for anyone. If I feel like folks are trying very hard to manipulate the pictures I am making, I am wary about publishing them. But that was never an issue on this story.

When people look at your work are you hoping they see composition and balance in some of the photos along with your message?
For sure! I am trying to make visually dynamic photographs. My goal is a set of pictures that both inform people intellectually and move them emotionally. If the pictures are poorly made, if I’m not working really hard to “see” them, then I am not doing my job. They have to arrest you visually, make you stop and feel something, then want to know something about the people and the circumstances they depict.

Do you find beauty in cataclysmic images? Just because something is terrible doesn’t mean it can share something wonderful.
It’s an interesting question. Beauty per se isn’t a goal I’m concerned with personally. To me there are much more important aspirations for my pictures- truth being the first. Like I said, I am trying to make the most visually powerful pictures I can- but I believe in photojournalism and I am consciously working within its conventions. I work hard to be creative, but I am not making art. Wars, social crises, marginalized people- I don’t see these as legitimate vehicles for my artistic aspirations. I believe that making well-observed documentary pictures of their experience is how I can best serve as a bridge between them and the moral imagination of the readers that will see the pictures.

The Daily Promo: Patrick Marinello

- - The Daily Promo

Patrick Marinello

Who printed it?
I got my promos printed at Overnight Prints.

Who designed it?
I designed the promos.

Who edited the images?
I edited the photos.

How many did you make?
I originally made 30 but I went the cheap route and didn’t go with the hard-cover for the booklet thinking it would save money, and that it would look fine. When I got the them they looked unfinished so I decided to make another 30 which I was pretty happy with, minus some color issues.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This was the first promo I’ve ever made; I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to put my best work on a postcard and then have the same images on my website. I wanted to do some something unique and really creative. Plus even if you hate the promo who’s going to forget someone mailed you a booklet that resembles a sandwich?

What made you want to do bread and cheese?
The idea behind the sandwich promo was that I was shooting a photo series on cold cuts. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with the series. At the same time I was figuring out how to get paid photo work. I’ve never made a promo before so I came up with this crazy idea to turn the cold cuts into a booklet that resembles a sandwich. I told a few people and they thought it was a great idea so I  decided to make the booklets. I figured photo editors get so many promos, I really needed to stand out.

How many slices of bread did you review before picking that one for the closing image?
There is a bakery I go to by my house and I tried 2 styles of bread. A round loaf and a more classic pullman loaf. I shot a couple slices from the round loaf and then a day later I wasn’t happy with the the shape of the bread so I went with the pullman since it’s more of a classic sandwich bread.

This Week In Photography Books: Adger Cowans

by Jonathan Blaustein

Over the last six years, I’ve become addicted to Arsenal Football Club, a soccer team that plays in London. It’s gotten so serious that I even write about the team, for fun, at 7am kickoff, a popular American-run Arsenal blog.

It all started out innocently enough.

After I sold a chunk of photographs, when “The Value of a Dollar,” took off, I was able to buy a nice television, and hook it up to Dish Network. Straight away, they piped in all this international soccer, (for free at first,) and once I was hooked, they yanked it away.

I’ve had to pony up a lot of scratch to maintain the habit ever since.

While I could have ultimately supported a handful of teams, when I first started watching, (and might be happier had I chosen otherwise,) I was successfully charmed by Arsenal’s famed mega-manager, Arsene Wenger.

He’s hard to encapsulate quickly, partly because he’s so multi-talented. He grew up in Alsace, and therefore speaks French and German, in addition to English, Spanish, Italian and a bit of Japanese. He was trained as an economist, is known as a progressive globalist, and brought a certain Continental, Gallic, professorial cool to the thug-life English league in the late 90’s.

He went on to massive glory with “The Invincibles,” his undefeated 2003-4 team, which was immortalized in Nick Hornby’s “Fever Pitch”. Then Wenger, who had previously managed in Monaco and Japan, designed a new stadium for Arsenal, and kept them in the black through years when the club was heavily debt-strapped.

Basically, I became an Arsenal fan, in large part, because Arsene Wenger was “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” Now, though, his temperament is too tetchy. He knows his time is coming to a close, but is battling with every ounce to hold onto his perch.

The short version is that Arsene Wenger is a legend, albeit one whom most fans and pundits feel has hit the retirement zone. He’s good enough to be good, but no longer good enough to be great.

I don’t think he deserves the “MIMITW” title anymore.

Therefore, we need a new “Most Interesting Man in the World.”
Thankfully, I have a proposal for the perfect replacement. You might not have heard of him before, as I hadn’t, but this dude has been involved in SO many interesting things in the 20th, and now 21st Centuries.

His name is Adger Cowans, and I just finished looking at his new book, “Personal Visions: Photographs,” recently published by Glitterati. Take heed, as Mr. Cowans seems like a genuine candidate for the title, if this book is to be believed.

Adger Cowans grew up in a creative family in Ohio in the 1930’s and 40’s, and was surrounded by art and photography from a young age. There’s context provided for his hyper-productive career, which is then backed up by various statements referring to his massive charisma. Tuliza Fleming, a curator at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, specifically mentioned she’d noticed the power of his personal “cool.”

Better yet, in an afterward, Dowoti Desir, a writer described by the New York Times as a voodoo scholar and practitioner, writes things about him that can only be described as mystical.

One example: “His sacred counterparts are nested among the forces of the Afro-Atlantic spiritual traditions such as the Marassa, the twins of the Haitian Vodou system.”

Another: “Cowans is the silent warrior on our path, the mayuba or the chameleon whose most powerful attribute is its ability to emulate or recreate the environment around them in every meticulous detail, while remaining true to its core.”

I bet he has your vote for “Most Interesting Man in the World” already, and we haven’t even talked about the pictures yet.

The book opens with essays and a personal narrative, including photographs of his family. (This book is built around his life, as well as his work.) There’s actually a picture at the very beginning, of his father, grandmother, and great-grandfather that is so creepy I almost don’t want to photograph it later. (But I will.)

After a stint in the Navy, Adger Cowans went to New York to apprentice with Gordon Parks, have a stint as a street photographer, shoot countless musical celebrities, and work as the set photographer for more than 20 movies in the 70’s and 80’s, including seminal films like “On Golden Pond,” “School Daze” and “Dirty Dancing.”

Adger Cowans has photographed Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Mick Jagger, Henry Fonda, Jesse Jackson, Samuel Jackson, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughn, Biggie Smalls, Al Pacino, and so many, many more.

The book doesn’t seem to be tied to any current exhibition, so it’s more likely a career-encapsulator, as I think Mr. Cowans is “approximately” 80. I’m not exactly sure of his age, as the book’s only weak spot is that it doesn’t provide dates for any of the photographs.

There are multiple sections, and each opens with a quote from an established photography master. (Erwitt, Sander, Weston et al.) The first, featuring street photos from the late 50’s and early 60’s was my favorite, as the best evoke a romanticized version of New York, even though they’ve got uptown street cred. (The snow-covered car and umbrellas-in-the-snow couplet was particularly magical.)

Apparently, Mr. Cowans also paints, makes music, and works with fiber, bolstering his Renaissance Man stature. The book riffs on that distinction, showing different phases of his photography discretely, including digital concoctions, still lives, and experimental imagery.

Not all of the photographs are classics, it should be said, but many of them are really excellent. In particular, I loved the early portrait of Barbara, whom I believe is the mother of his son Eden.

It is oddly intimate to have that family-album-element, but it definitely hooked me into this book. By digging in, I learned about elements of the African-American art community of which I was wholly ignorant. (He was a part of two important art collectives, Kamoinge and AFRIcobra.)

My experience writing about this book was unique, as it strangely enticed me to spend more time than I’d originally planned. First, I looked at it, thought it was cool, and then sat down to write, as I always do. I tried and tried, and then gave up after 6 attempts.

That’s never happened before.
Ever.

Instead, I sat down by the fire, and read it cover to cover, then skimmed back over several parts again. I looked at the images few more times as well, to better understand his career arc.

For whatever reason, this book required more of me than a flip-through and a witty response. I’m not surprised though, now that I know Adger Cowans might just be the Most Interesting Man… you get the point.

Bottom Line: A Funky, fascinating lifetime of work by an African American photographic badass

To Purchase “Personal Visions: Photographs” Go Here: http://glitteratiincorporated.com/products/personal-vision-by-adger-cowans

The Art of the Personal Project: Kris Davidson

Personal Projects are crucial in showing potential buyers how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or show something I have never seen before. In this revised column, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: projects are found and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s Featured Artist: Kris Davidson

Walter as Nat King Cole (Love is the Thing)

Sasha and the Confederate Colonel

Swamp Thing, French Quarter street performer in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Antoinette, a slave genealogist, performing a commemoration for her ancestors in Kentwood, Louisiana.

Jesus Love You, God Love You, I Love you – house in New Orleans, Louisiana.

http://www.krisdavidson.com/PROJECTS/IN-THE-SOUTHERN-GARDEN/thumbs

KRIS DAVIDSON // PROJECT STATEMENT // In the Southern Garden
MEDIUM:  20”x 24” and 30”x 40”prints on archival matte paper. 
SUMMARY: In the Southern Garden is a photographic study of how history lives on in the American South; primarily a portrait series, the project depicts southerners from all walks of life wearing their history

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

In the Southern Garden is an exploration of how individual identity and everyday life continue to unfold in the American South, a place where the past is always present and constantly in a state of revision by the people who tell and re-tell their stories over time. Using a 4×5 view camera, the image-making process is slow, deliberate and collaborative. This project looks at how Southerners understand and wear their own history. 

The American South is lush, green and dominated still by vast expanses of the arable land that gave rise to a slave economy. The idea of a garden serves as a metaphor for the nature of memory, which is seeded and cultivated, and yet, grows wildly when left untended.  The portraits are typically made in garden settings, farming areas or in nature. Some of the portraits feature subjects directly referencing their embraced history (such as Confederate re-enactors or Harriet Tubman) while others are more subtle in every-day dress. It is in bringing all of these portraits together, that history conflates, strangely revealing parallels and intersections of the African-American and white narratives. Every subject is treated with respect. Every subject is an American.

The American South is a place that is tragic, strong, graceful, insolent, optimistic, beautiful, conservative yet wild — teeming with memories that are overgrown and intertwined like untended foliage along the banks of the Mississippi River.

—————

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: Athlete Portraits for a Beer Brand

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Portraits of a professional athlete against a solid background captured on location alongside a video production

Licensing: Advertising and Collateral use (excluding out-of-home and broadcast) of up to two images for one year

Location: A stadium in Los Angeles

Shoot Days: One

Photographer: Portraiture and active lifestyle specialist

Agency: Medium in size, based in the Midwest

Client: A beer brand

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: The agency was in pre-production for a video shoot featuring a professional athlete and they hoped to capture portraits of the athlete alongside that project on the same shoot day. Given the availability of the athlete and the busy shoot day, the agency anticipated that the photographer would have about 30-45 minutes to capture two types of portraits; one posed shot of the athlete holding the product, and another shot of the athlete in action with various equipment. Other than the time constraint, the portraits were rather straightforward, especially considering the agency planned to provide the location, styling and general production coordination through the video team.

Based on the layouts/comps we received, it was clear that they intended to use the images primarily for in-store displays and other collateral pieces, however the requested licensing included use for all advertising and collateral purposes for a year. Based on this, I valued the first image at $8,000 and the second image at $4,000, totaling $12,000. They also asked for an option to extend the licensing to include an additional year, which I priced at 50% of the 1-year rate.

Pre-Production Day: I included one day for the photographer to line up his crew and correspond with the agency and video team to prepare for the shoot day. It’s often expected that a photograhper will bring on a producer when shooting alongside a video team to handle correspondence with the client, agency and video production team, but for this project it was clear that the art buyer from the agency would be filling this role.

Assistants: I included two assistants for the shoot day, both of which would help with lighting and grip equipment while also lending a hand with any last minute needs during the short window of shooting time.

Digital Tech: The digital tech the photographer works with charges $500/day plus $350 for a mobile laptop workstation, which would help the agency/client see the results as they were being shot. We also anticipated the athlete’s publicist would be on site as well, since we knew they’d want to approve the images being captured.

Equipment: This included about $800 for camera bodies and lenses, and $700 for grip, lighting and expendables.

Van Rental: One of the shots required the athlete to jump in the air and land on a large pad. The photographer needed a van to transport this pad (which he already owned) to the shoot, along with his equipment.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This accounts for the photographer’s time to edit the images and deliver a web gallery for the agency to choose from, as well as the delivery of their two selects. The agency was to provide any retouching, so we didn’t include any additional post processing fees.

Mileage, Parking, and Miscellaneous: This covered parking at the stadium and miscellaneous expenses throughout the shoot day.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project, and the client came back a few months later with another similar project featuring a different athlete.

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.