This is the first post from Heidi Volpe who is joining APE as a regular contributor to provide news and interviews from the perspective of and of interest to Creative Directors and Art Directors. If you have news that she might be interested in email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her first interview is with designer and developer Joe Zeff:
I have known Joe Zeff for for a few years now and it has been interesting to see him develop in tandem with the publishing industry and by all accounts contribute to it’s evolution forward. Joe is a designer and developer of noteworthy apps such as The Final Hours of Portal 2 and Solar System for ipad and the Splashlight Studio Tour. You can see more of his work here and check out his blog here.
I wanted to catch up with him about his collaboration with George Steinmetz who best know for his stunning aerial photography and the unique way he captures his images: he flies a motorized paraglider. Here is what Joe had to say about his most recent release Above and Beyond: George Steinmetz.
How do you see this app changing the way George’s images are consumed and enjoyed?
I spent five months looking at George’s amazing photographs, but it wasn’t until the final weeks of production that I truly saw what was there. Hearing George describe the challenges he faced when capturing each image, from weather conditions to equipment malfunctions to police chases. Seeing George run as fast as he can with a flying machine strapped to his back, and marveling at the unbelievable view from a video camera attached to his helmet. Learning that George applies a scientific method to his craft in order to position himself at a precise altitude at a precise time at a precise location. Now I see these images much differently, with a better understanding of what each picture required and a heightened appreciation for what George has achieved through his photography.
With this style of app, photographers are able to develop a multi-narrative arc to the images, the making of, the locations and the actual image, is that your hope? Additional story telling?
I hope that the iPad emerges as a platform for photojournalists who can no longer count on newspapers and magazines to subsidize their work. There has never been a better storytelling device, and by integrating other types of multimedia content the stories resonate even more.
How will these sort of apps complement photographers site/portfolios?
I think that’s up to the photographic community. The depth and quality of the content is much more important than the format. Ideally the format becomes transparent, and is created specifically to support the type of content being presented. Steven Meisel’s work would take shape in a much different way than Walter Iooss’ work or James Nachtwey’s work or Platon’s work. I would hate to see a slew of cookie-cutter portfolio apps result from “Above & Beyond: George Steinmetz.” That was not the intent.
Are these images encrypted with any sort of digital tag?
The images we send through the e-mail sharing forms are watermarked, but the images inside the app are not. The iPad is still new, and effective digital rights management remains to be addressed. The ability to capture any screen image at 1024 x 768, and eventually higher when future devices with higher screen resolution appear, will likely concern photographers, and rightly so.
Is this type of development affordable for photographers? How long did this take to develop?
We had a six-month development cycle, and much of that related to the newness of the idea, George’s travel schedule, and our determination to make it as good as it could be. The next app will likely take less time, as we’ve developed efficiencies along the way.
Apps like this will replace coffee table books before they replace portfolios. There are lower distribution costs, larger potential audiences, higher margins, micropayment processing, and the potential for advertising sponsorships.
If I were to break down your career in segments what would it look like?
I’ve always been a storyteller, whether it was as a sportswriter at The Pittsburgh Press, a designer at the Detroit Free Press, a presentation editor at The New York Times, the Graphics Director of Time magazine, or a 3D illustrator at Joe Zeff Design. Today we can tell stories on the iPad that draw on every one of those experiences, and tell amazing stories like that of George Steinmetz more compellingly than ever.
Another photo App worth mentioning that has been out for two months is 50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic. That said, this new App Above and Beyond offers more user features and better story telling. In fact, Above & Beyond passed the National Geographic App on the iTunes charts for Top Paid Photography Apps and Top Grossing Photography Apps after only three days. Very impressive, thanks Joe.