Monthly Archives: August 2014

True Professionals Will Adapt And Find Ways To Work Within The New Visual Environment

- - Blog News

Mobile photography is photography. Though if you say that mobile photography is only photography it’s like saying there’s no difference between driving a car or catching a bus, it’s just transport, right? Yet the actual experiences are vastly different. No one questioned the name “mobile phone” when it was used compared to a fixed line phone.

[…]A generation of professional photographers will appear from the impact of mobile photography, and true professionals will adapt and find ways to work within the new visual environment.

via #LightBoxFF: Oliver Lang’s Crash Course on Adapting to Instagram – LightBox.

Art Producers Speak: Erik Umphery

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

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Erik Umphery. I love him not only as an artist, but as a person. He has an unique style and was great to work with.

Michelle Williams single art work for "Say Yes"

Michelle Williams single art work for “Say Yes”

Personal work shot in London

Personal work shot in London

Personal work shot in Barstow, CA

Personal work shot in Barstow, CA

Editoral shot for 360 Magazine

Editoral shot for 360 Magazine

Editoral shot for 360 Magazine

Editoral shot for 360 Magazine

Personal work shot in Tijanna, Mexico

Personal work shot in Tijanna, Mexico

Personal work shot in Barstow, CA

Personal work shot in Barstow, CA

Personal work shot in London

Personal work shot in London

Personal work shot in Malibu, CA

Personal work shot in Malibu, CA

Personal work shot in Palms Springs, CA

Personal work shot in Palms Springs, CA

Usher Raymond shot for BET Networks Image Campaign

Usher Raymond shot for BET Networks Image Campaign

Adesuwa shot for Essence Magazine denim Story

Adesuwa shot for Essence Magazine denim Story

Personal work shot in Downtown Los Angeles

Personal work shot in Downtown Los Angeles

Erykah Badu shot for Essence Magazine

Erykah Badu shot for Essence Magazine

How many years have you been in business?
3yrs 3months

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self-Taught

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I worked in corporate America for 9 years prior to becoming a professional photographer, and when the recession hit a lot of my friends lost their jobs and decided to pursue their passions. I was doing extremely well in my career, receiving accolades and a level of financial success that I had not believed I would have achieved at a young age, but I was unhappy. And the more friends I saw doing what they loved, even with the stress of booking that next job or knowing how everything was going to work out, the more I desired to pursue my passion. I guess it was like one of my favorite quote’s from Marianne Williamson, ”As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others the permission to do the same.” For me, my friend’s light gave me the permission to leave my comfort zone and being really living and pursuing something I love.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
Traveling is a big part of my life and it influences how I create. I think the biggest thing for me is being visually stimulated, so when I’m given the opportunity to go somewhere new I always jump at the chance. Living in Los Angeles, is the perfect place for me, because California has so much visually to offer, and it is accessible. I can hop in my car and in a few hrs, I can be on a mountain, in the desert, at the beach, on a cliff, etc…, so I’m always traveling being inspired and recently I’ve developed an appreciation for other types of arts (writing, acting, illustration) which has opened my eyes to an entirely new world of inspiration. The way I translate all of that into my own creativity is by taking everything that I see or read, and I try to do my best to translate that to my own experiences, to create something how I see it from my own perspective, so if I read something that inspires me I say how does that look in my mind, or if it’s a location I’ll ask myself what would be something I could see happening here.

Pushing the envelope creatively for me is always about doing something that I feel uncomfortable with. When I have butterflies in my stomach about something or I start hearing that little voice in my head questioning what I’m doing it let’s me know that I’m pushing myself to refine my true vision and creating something truly unique and from my perspective. I look for those feelings in everything I shoot.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I’ve been really fortunate that the assignments I’ve received early in my career the clients have given me a lot of flexibility, I’ve heard that isn’t always the case in this industry. I learned early on that you should focus on accomplishing what the client is looking for first then push the envelop with your creativity and typically the images that I find myself pushing the envelop on are the clients favorites, so it’s a win-win, I give the client what they want and I’m able to use the resources/production they have to create something I love.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I make it a point to travel to NY once a month and meet with agencies and magazines. I’ve been doing this for about a year now and it’s really been paying off. I do not have a rep, so I have to beat the pavement myself, but for me it is fun. I get to travel to an amazing city and meet so many interesting creative people. Not starting my career in this industry I look at as a positive and negative when it comes to reaching my buying audience. The positive is I don’t know how people in the industry reach their buying audiences so I’m not restricting myself to any industry norms that may exist, so I’m not tied to doing things a certain way because “that’s how things are done traditionally”. The negative is since I did not go to arts school, I do not have the network already of art directors and producers that I would have attended school with, but that’s ok I just have to work harder to build that network now.

Outside of face to face meetings, I attend Adhesive as often as I can to connect with creatives and sending personalized emails vs the typical email blast have help tremendously in starting a dialogue that will ultimately lead to new opportunities down the road.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
I know about this all to well, simply don’t do it. When I started I knew I wanted to shoot campaigns, so I’d shoot what I though art directors wanted to see. That did not get me far at all, and luckily I had a decent relationship with an art director that helped guide me as far away from that as possible. People want to see something different than what they have already seen and we all have the ability to create something different if we show things from our own experiences and perspective. You want the work you create to represent you, and to be work you are passionate about, which ultimately leads to you booking work that falls into your sweet spot vs work that you are not passionate about, and it definitely has away of showing.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I try to shoot for myself several times a month. At times when I’m really busy it can be challenging but, in order for me to continue growing and developing my vision/style it requires shooting a lot. Even though shooting jobs is great and required to sustain a living, there is nothing better than being able to create something that you have full creative control over. I plan to continue shooting for myself several times a month, 5, 10, and 20 years from now, because I love photography as a medium to create.

How often are you shooting new work?
This year has been really great for me both commercially and personally. I’ve been able to create new work that I’m extremely proud of every month, both personal and commercial.

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I’m originally from Baltimore, MD. I was introduced to photography by my Mother at a young age and developed my love for it. She passed when I was 11 and I stopped shooting. As I got older I had the desire to get back into photography, and even signed up for a course when I was in college, but you had to purchase a SLR camera and I could not afford it at the time. I graduated with a degree in Finance and went of to work in corporate America, several years into my career a friend posted on facebook, “who wants to take a photography class with me”, I went out purchased a camera and signed up for the 6 week class. This pretty much sums up my life now:
Running shoes, check. Camera, check. iPhone, check. I’m good. Gave up suits & ties for a camera and a hell-of-a-life.
 My mantra is to live, love, travel, eat and along the way capture these moments.

Erik Umphery
www.erikumphery.com
erik@erikumphery.com
310.387.1715

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

The Daily Edit – Communication Arts: Randal Ford

- - The Daily Edit
JA14_Cover_Ford

Communication Arts

Photographer: Randal Ford

Heidi: How hard was it to take that photograph of your son?
Randal: It actually wasn’t hard at all.  By the time I set up the portrait, he was in good spirits and we already had him checked out by a doctor. My son is such a sweet kid, but definitely all boy. And while this was his first shiner, it was definitely not his first bruise.  However, it was harder seeing the photos on screen than in person.  Looking at them on the computer was heartbreaking. Photographs immortalize a moment and maybe deep down I was scared that his face would always be like that.
 
What was your intention for this photo, posterity or something else?
As a parent I’m always photographing my kids.  Whether it’s with my iphone, a mirrorless camera, or a full setup with strobes.  I want to document their life, well, our life.  And this was part of that process.
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At what point did you know it was ok to take the portrait, did Ellis (your son ) give you any cues? Did you ask your wife for permission?
Once we knew he was physically okay and in good spirits, I felt like it was fine.    My wife knows I photograph everything, especially events like this so I had her full support from the get go.
 
I know you sat on these images for a few months after shooting them, thinking you may composite Ellis into a scene. How did you end up with this final image? 
As I mentioned it was tough to look at these on-screen so they sat on my hard drive for a couple months.  I thought it would be cool to composite him into an environment to further craft a story.  Maybe he was standing on a playground with a bunch of big kids behind him all laid out, or maybe he was in the middle of a boxing ring during a fight, or maybe we digitally painted a super hero sign on his chest.  For some reason I wanted to complicate things.  To further challenge myself.
None of the ideas really stuck though and I finally selected my favorite image and retouched it.
What was going on at the very moment of this particular shot?
The shoot itself only lasted 15 minutes and for a lot of the time he was sitting in this baby seat called a ‘bumbo’ which allows infants to sit up a little easier than if they were in a chair.  For this shot, he probably only looked at me like that for a split second.
I love showcasing kids (and animals) expressions that anthropomorphize them.  Or in other words, apply adult attributes to their character.  This shot, for example, conveys a toughness, a so-what, an I’m tough sort of look that an adult might give a opponent or enemy.  Maybe he was even thinking that for a split second.
 
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This portrait seems like a departure from the layered, rich body of work on your site.
What did you learn about yourself?
A lot of advertising work is layered and complex.  And I’m drawn to that and appreciate it.  I love the challenge of crafting a story in one image.  And sometimes that requires a lot of compositing, retouching, layering, and even CGI, to draw in the audience.
 
However, what I learned in this instance, with this photograph, was that the best way to tell a story is the simplest way.  I had these grand ideas of compositing him in an environment with layers, more talent, skies, and even cgi.  But I don’t think any of that would have been as compelling as this simple image.
 
Einstein said, ‘Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.’  I’m no Einstein and I’m no genius, but this sure does resonate with the lesson I learned with the success of this photograph.
 
Have you done any documentary work? Did this give you an insight into the moral banter that goes on in taking hard images?
I did a bit of documentary work in the early part of my career.  I don’t know if I gained any insight here.  I tend to stay out of moral banter and focus on creating compelling work. If the works gets people to talk, even if it’s banter, then I’m okay with that.

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I know you keep a camera around the house and take photos of your children, how did that influence this portrait?  
I always have a camera on hand.  Whether it’s an iphone, mirrorless, or dSLR.  It’s not often that I setup strobes and a background for my family stuff.  But this seemed like a fitting opportunity and my kids are used to having their photo taken so this wasn’t a unique situation, they know the deal.
 
How long did the transition take for you to go from father to photographer. I’m certain your first reaction was not to take a photo. 
When it happened I definitely didn’t have any thought that I should setup strobes and create a portrait.  But after he checked out okay, and was in good spirits, I thought, ‘I should really create a portrait of this.’  it needed to be shot.
 
Once you released the image to the public, were you concerned about backlash similar to what Jill Greenberg had experienced with her crying kids series?
I wasn’t concerned about it and in fact, it didn’t cross my mind until after it was published.  People who know me, know I have good intentions and would never place a kid in an uncomfortable situation.  However, his face was still going to be bruised up if I documented it or not.  I try to create compelling work first and foremost.  If I get criticized for documenting what’s in front of me, then I’m okay with that because personally I know my intentions were right.
 
What made you decided to include this image in your submission to CA? What did you think this image conveyed to fellow photographers?
Each year I submit 4-5 images to CA.  Some of my peers liked this image and some of them didn’t.  Obviously I’m biased but I felt like it was strong, graphic, and told a story.
Tell me about the full circle moment when  you received the email letting you know you had the cover?
So I’m sitting at our breakfast table reading some stuff on my computer with Ellis sitting in my lap.  During that time, I see an email come in from CA asking for permission to use the image on the cover.  I literally yell out loud, ‘what!? what!? Ellis, Buddy, you are going to be on the cover of CA, are you kidding me!?!’ I literally almost fell out of my chair.  I was elated to say the least and it was icing on the cake that I found out while he was sitting in my lap.  I can’t deny feeling that things happen for a reason and are not just coincidence.  Not the way this whole thing unfolded.


I know you have a son on the way, congratulations. How if at all has your family life impacted your career?
Thank you!  Okay, great question.  Family life has for sure impacted my career.  In a good way.  As the CA cover was about to come out I was running hard to get my website as fresh as possible and finish out a couple personal projects.  At one point, I expressed some frustration to my wife that I didn’t have enough time or energy because the kids were being a pill.  My wife looks at me and says, ‘you wouldn’t be in this situation if it weren’t for them!’  In other words, you wouldn’t be on the cover of CA if the kids didn’t present these daily challenges to you.  And I thought to myself, wow, how narcissistic am I thinking that this was all me!
 
The environment around you deeply influences you and my family is no exception to that.  Yes, I have less free time to snowboard and ride my mountain bike.  But I also have a lot to lose so motivation is not hard to come by.   I’m very focused and work very hard.  
The free spirit of children, without a doubt, enhances my creative outlook.  I’m a family guy.  And my family life deeply inspires me and provides great perspective for my personal and commercial work.
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You have such a range of imagery on your site, how would you describe your work.
I have a passion for photography and that passion spans multiple genres, and has grown significantly over the last couple of years.  I shoot everything from kids to cows to landscapes with an intent to always tell a story.  I sometimes struggle with it, but my goal is to create a common thread throughout my body of work.  I hope my audiences sees that commonality.
 
Do you ever get criticized for having too much range?
I’m very self critical.  Potentially to a fault, so I think about this a lot.  At the end of the day, I have to follow my gut and right now, I feel like I’m doing the right thing.  Time will tell if that’s true but I am grateful to be doing what I’m doing right now.
How has living in Austin shaped you as photographer? Is it nice to be out of the fray NYC and other major cities?  
Austin is a great place to call home.  I travel for 95% of my work but it’s a great home base and easy to get to both coasts.  Don’t get me wrong I would love to work more and shoot more in Austin.  There are just certain advantages and production needs that are better suited for NY or LA.  Being a Texan has definitely shaped me as a photographer.  I think that’s evident in my imagery for sure.  I also think by living in Texas I get slightly different perspectives, creative or otherwise, than if I lived in NY or LA.  I also like my space (smile)

My Photo Went Viral, And Nothing Could Have Prepared Me For What Happened After

- - Blog News

the media attention, coverage, and money was and continues to be great. I loved it all. But what’s even cooler is that I have been contacted by people, companies, and organizations that I never expected that I’d be in touch with. Airports, local and abroad, have contacted me with an interest in hiring me to do work for them. Airplane manufacturers and leasing companies have been in touch…

This image truly has created opportunities that I never thought possible.

via fstoppers.com.

I am just a guy with an iPhone who likes taking pictures.

- - Blog News

Being a commercial photographer is not my goal, nor will it ever will be. I don’t have the training, or the experience to compete with established professionals. I believe I am part of a photography movement that is based on capturing experiences, experiences from a viewpoint of someone that isn’t a traditional commercial or editorial photographer. Clients aren’t providing me with a set shot list, but rather giving me the freedom to capture the moments as I see them from behind my lens, both mobile and DSLR. I see value in the ability to offer a client both tools to suit their needs, access to my audience and vision through my mobile device, as well as the more versatile, larger image size of my DSLR work.

via Scott Rankin’s Portfolio – Blog.

This Week In Photography Books: Frederic Brenner

by Jonathan Blaustein

I was sitting in a hot tub in Dixon, New Mexico, the other day. My attempts at relaxation were futile, as two soon-to-be seven-year-old boys insisted on jumping in like enormous balls of hail. SPLASH! SPLASH! (No, it wasn’t very relaxing, but the hot water felt good on my sore shoulder.)

Soon enough, I gave up on achieving bliss, and began to chat with my new friend Stephan, who’s visiting from Brooklyn. How strange, that two 40-something Jewish guys might hit it off in the hinterlands of the American West. (Sarcasm intended.) He’s a very bright guy, and told me on several occasions that he’s been reading high level stuff on his holiday.

Naturally, I asked him what he was catching up on. Calculus, physics, philosophy. That sort of thing. (All while I’ve been addictively refreshing my browser to get the latest Arsenal Transfer News. Embarrassing.)

Just as I was exiting the hot tub, he mentioned a concept in computer science theory called an NP problem. (It stands for nondeterministic polynomial time.) Apparently, they’re not solvable via the technology of the day. So they’re alluring to many a great mind.

The unsolvable problem is a somewhat nihilistic concept, when we bring it down to the human level. Can poverty ever be eradicated? I doubt it. And didn’t Bill Gates try to annihilate smallpox or some such disease, only to see it make a genuine comeback in the chaos of Syria. (Facts can be checked on Google, but I’m just spitballing here.)

If you were to poll a bunch of random people about what conflagration is never likely to burn itself out, I’d bet they’d say “The Middle East.” Push them further, and you know they’ll say Israel. The homeland of my ancestors.

Northern New Mexico actually looks a bit like Israel, in the right light. I know, because I was there for a summer vacation/ teen tour in 1991. Smack dab in the middle of the first Gulf War. (Speaking of not relaxing…) All I remember is trying to sneak off for a nap during Kibbutz work duty, and downing horrible Russian vodka to summon enough courage to hit on a pretty girl. (Yes to getting super-drunk, no to any success with the lady.)

People were all geared up for war back then, as they have been since the country’s inception. Which was rather recent, given that my people were living there forever, before we got ejected by the Romans. As of 1948, though, things have looked grim, with respect to any kind of lasting peace.

Of course, I write this now, in the middle of yet-one-more episode of War. People killing people, to try to make a point. Which is?

I certainly won’t be able to tell you, from my cozy chair on the other side of the world. But then, no one will, as peace in the Middle East is most definitely an NP problem. The best I could offer here would be to share another’s more personal, more educated view on the matter.

So I will.

Frederic Brenner’s new book, “an Archaeology of Fear and Desire,” was recently published by MACK. Apparently, it’s one of a series of projects shot in Israel that were commissioned by Mr. Brenner. Other artists like Stephen Shore have had their say, and this book is Mr. Brenner’s take on life in Israel.

It’s a very clean, formal, precise view, with the requisite irony on full display. For example, we get a two page run in the book in which a religious Israeli family dines in splendor in a big house, and on the following page, a Palestinian family crunches together in a much smaller space.

But it’s not just the status quo. We see a couple of dirt bike riders in the desert near Sodom. (Are we to question their sexuality, because of the title.?) And another portrait of a woman who looks very much like she is gay, but am I allowed to speculate on such things? And if I did, what might gay rights look like in a religious country?

We see a blind former soldier with two prosthetic arms. And an anonymous Palestinian man who sure looks like he was tortured, or at least beaten to a pulp, with a wicked scar running across his eye.

There are migrant workers of color, jimmy-rigged border patrol wearing head scarves, and some Orthodox Jews in an airport, with their eyes shaded, looking ancient, except for their always-dorky rolling suitcases. Classy.

This book was perfect to write about this week, for obvious reasons. The images within are well made, but will not change your life.

But they do offer you a window into a world without hope. Or, at least, without hope of ever fixing its own, ancient set of problems. Which is a fair metaphor for what we all do every day. Keep going, enjoy the pleasures at our disposal, and fight when we must.

Bottom Line: Clear, color vision of life in contemporary Israel

To Purchase “an Archaeology of Fear and Desire” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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