Posts by: Heidi Volpe

The Daily Promo: Stephen Kent Johnson

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Stephen Kent Johnson


Who printed it?

It was printed by Mirror NYC

Who designed it?
I designed it.

Who edited the images?
I edited the images, I tried to find an image that was interesting enough to make the inspiration boards of the people I want to shoot with.

How many did you make?
500.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is actually the first printed promo I’ve ever sent out. I was an art director in a former life and used to get a lot of promos in the mail, I found you can’t avoid looking at a postcard, there’s nothing to open.

Where did you source the mushrooms?
The mushrooms are all from Provincetown, MA. My boyfriend and I were up there one weekend this fall and they were everywhere! We’d been up there the year before around the same time and were dazzled by the mushrooms then. I brought my camera this year and my crossed fingers that they would be out again because I knew I wanted to get some shots of them. We went out one afternoon in forest and the sand dunes and brought a basket and loaded it up with the mushrooms, then brought it back to the house and I just played for a few hours with different compositions. I like the more organic shots too, but there was something nice about the old school instructional chart feeling of the dark background and all the little guys lined up in rows. After I was done we put them out on the front stoop in a row, and the people walking by liked looking at them.

Did you prepare any of the mushrooms?
No, we did not eat any of them.

The Daily Edit – Ramona Rosales

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Ramona Rosales

What it is about your style of working that has you with a steady client base?
My overall approach and why my regular clients hire me for specific subjects is that I shoot very fast (good for people who have zero time), I try to maximize that time with multiple / simultaneous set ups and I’m extremely resourceful. Besides creating a fun and collaborative set, I believe I’ve gained a good reputation with both client and talent representatives. Sometimes I’ve had to put my creative motives aside to get job done, but always put my best efforts to fulfill both the job and my own desires on making a great image.

You’re all over the newsstand right now, tell us about some of your projects and how they evolved.

ANDY SAMBERG

ANDY SAMBERG

Billboard

Director of Photography:  Jennifer Laski
Deputy Director of Photography: Jenny Sargent
Creative Director: Shanti Marlar
Photo Editor: Amelia Halverson
Photo Editor:  Samantha Xu

For this issue, I had two assignments in the feature portfolio which included Ice Cube & Andy Samberg. The premise of the portfolio are subjects who are both actors and musicians. With Andy, it was collaborative, we chatted with him about my concepts (we had four set ups ready to go, but we had to narrow it down to two for time).  He was honest on what he didn’t feel would have the best comic effect but was enthusiastic for having fun with my other ideas. He actually mentioned to the editor he wanted to pose with a bunch of mics, but I designed one of the sets to be more random with mics and he had ran with it thankfully. He loved the variety of mics that I had our prop stylist pull. For our second set up, I gave him a choice of different stickers and he went for the kittens, which I secretly hoped he would.

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With Ice Cube, I felt there was so much gravity in keeping the balance between his distinct music and acting persona. I’ve have always been a huge fan and so excited about his directorial project about his days in NWA. I had to shoot at a location near his studio and I found a bar near by that had limited options, but could allow me to experiment to make the location take on completely different look. I wound up shooting four set ups in 20 minutes with him, quickly jumping between each set up. In these situations, my in camera or lightening risks usually pay off, which I feel was a great fit for his character.

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This assignment was a cover and feature with Kendrick Lamar. I had the opportunity to work with him last year and had grown to understand him more as an artist rather then a musician. I’m a fan of all his projects and was able to learn what path he was setting up for his upcoming (now out) album. I also really wanted to experiment with color and light on this one since most images I had seen of him where very dark or moody (which is a great fit for him but I wanted to see him in color)  We had a small budget to work with to build a partial set that I could get a few different looks with; I also brought some elements to play with in-camera effects. He was super excited to see the images as worked through the day which is always is so flattering when the subject appreciates your interpretation of themselves.

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BuzzFeed

Photo Editor: John Gara

I’ve had some fun assignments with BuzzFeed, but this one was a little unusual with Nick Kroll. The story was about his current projects but apparently the entire interview was done over a long day of hiking. Due to his love of the outdoors we thought it would be fun to get him dressed up and shoot him on location as if we were on a hike. He was filming in Ojai so we found a location via AirBnB that was on a beautiful plot of land and had an RV for us to base camp. We had about 40 minutes to squeeze in about five different set ups I planned for us to tackle which I think we wound up doing six to seven different set ups with one look. I got him up in a tree, rolling around in the grass and getting close with nature without him breaking out of character.

 


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ANDY SAMBERG & MOLLY SHANNON

ANDY SAMBERG & MOLLY SHANNON

ANDY SAMBERG & MOLLY SHANNON

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The Hollywood Reporter/40 Anniversary SNL Issue

Director of Photography: Jennifer Laski
Creative Director: Shanti Marlar
Deputy Director of Photography: Carrie Smith
Photo Editor: Michelle Stark

It was such an honor to be working with such amazing talent on this one; we got to shoot pairs of SNL alumnus from different eras including Maya Rudolf with Garrett Morris, Molly Shannon with Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig with Larane Newman. Each shoot was done at different locations or in studio. Andy and Molly had worked with each other in the past, so they immediately had a good time on set. We did three set ups with two changes within 30 minutes. One set up required some special effects including squirting flower and a vintage taxi cab smoking up. Luckily they had amazing team work and we got all the shots we hoped to get. Kristen Wiig and Larane Newman met on set for the first time and it was magic to see these amazing performers bounce off each other. I had five set ups ready to go but was limited on time so we had to sacrifice the last one. Maya Rudolf and Garrett Morris had the most amazing chemistry, it was actually kind of a challenge to interrupt their amazing conversations since everyone on set was so engulfed in their stories and rapport. With them, I loved these in-between shots that captured the essences of how much fun they where having on set.

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Playboy*

Creative Director: Mac Lewis
Director of Photography: Rebecca Black

* the pick up was done via August Syndication

I actually shot him for his PR and it wound up getting picked up by Playboy the same week. I just got to shoot him again a few weeks ago for Bust Magazine. He has an amazingly animated face and we had such a great conversation throughout out the whole shoot we had to keep taking breaks to Stop laughing the entire time.

 

 

 

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The Red Bulletin

Creative Director: Erik Turek
Art Director:  Kasimir Renmann
Head of Photography: Fritz Schuster
Associate Photo Editor: Rudolf Uebelhoer
Photo Editor: Marion Batty
Contributing Photo Editor US: Heidi Volpe

We had worked together on The Red Bulletin shoot with Aaron Bruno, so I know you have this wonderful way of engaging talent with your special effects and the ability to move from set up to set up quickly.  Have there been situations where you’ve prepared set ups and not gotten to them?
Time always a major factor in most of the celebrity shoots and I always feel I need to have as many set ups as possible (within budget or logistical reason) so I’m prepared for surprises, good or bad. There might be factors like delays, weather / (natural) light /location, wardrobe issues, talent issues that might change my plans but I know that by giving myself as many options possible, it allows me more flexibility for the whole shoot. Because there are so many X factors to contend with, specially on a less controlled set, I try not to fall in love (so to speak) with any of the set ups Just from the experience that things can change in an instant. There have been numerous times I haven’t been able to get every set up I hoped to get, but I’ve learned (and still learning) how to best manage my time and prepare my set to allow me to seamless transitions between sets.

Is it typical to have so many set ups for you? Do you have a hit list for your style of shooting and then bend that towards the unique assignment?
Depending on the budget and logistics I’ll layout as many options I can squeeze out within the given time frame, while keeping things fun on set. I think I have a specific style but strive to evolve within what is currently inspiring to me. An assignment may allow me to experiment based on the subject, the logistics and what the client would like to achieve. I’ll customize an assignment with the client as the priority and if there is options to do secondary set ups, I’ll take the opportunity to try things outside of the main scope, usually resulting In images both the client and myself are happy with. It’s moments like this on set that keep me inspired and remind myself to constantly aim to elevate my work.

 

 

The Daily Promo: Justin Poulsen

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Justin Poulsen 

Who printed it?
MSG Printing in Toronto

Who designed it?
Hans Thiessen at Rethink

Who edited the images?
The printed image was shot specifically for this project. The documentation images were edited by Hans and myself.
The post production was handled by myself.

How many did you make?
Originally there were 50. Due to the overwhelming response, I will be creating an additional 50 throughout the year for a grand total of 100.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This was my first promo. I hope to do it once or twice a year (not necessarily containing body parts).

How did the thumb idea emerge?
I was exchanging emails and brainstorming with Hans. We pulled together a rough list of ideas/talents I have that are uncommon. One of the ideas was to create physical thumb drives. We bounced back and forth between some other ideas, but the thumbs seemed to stick. I knew that I could pull it off because we had previously cast an entire fake hand and forearm in faux ice. Including the physical thumb drives in the promo allowed the recipient to have a small piece of the shoot, while also opening their eyes to some creative possibilities of our in-house prop building.

How did the thumbs get made?
First I cast my own thumb in a low durometer platinum cure silicone rubber. This specific rubber is commonly used in the special effect industry to have an almost-flesh-like feel. This “realistic feel” was further enhanced when paired with an internal skeleton (the rigid flash drive). The same silicone used in the thumbs also worked out to be a suitable mold rubber. Casting silicone in silicone, I used a urethane spray to ensure that the mold and thumb did not become one. I then painted/airbrushed using hand mixed solutions of FW ink + alcohol. To seal in the pigmentation the thumbs are sprayed with a solution of naphtha and silicone. With the future thumbs I’m moving to a completely silicone based pigmentation system, which is a slower process, but the end product is more durable.

Here’s a video demonstrating the process of creation

The Daily Edit – Mark Hanauer: We Transfer

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We Transfer

Photographer: Mark Hanauer

We Transfer Facebook

We Transfer Twitter

Heidi: What sparked your interest in submitting to We Transfer?
Mark: I had been using We Transfer for some time. It’s a great service for sending large files to clients and colleagues over the web. I enjoyed a lot of the graphics that they used on their site and one day I decided to send them a series of images that I thought were appropriate for their format.

Which images did you send and how many where sent/accepted?
Basically the images are horizontal with a lot of free space. To my delight they have used a handful of them. All of the images that I sent to We Transfer have been personal images from my travels, three from India and one from Central California. I don’t recall how many images that I sent to them, but I am very happy with what they have used. And they are appreciative as well, nice credit on the page and they share the contribution on Twitter and Facebook.

You’ve been drawn to photographing artists, why is this?
My first job assisting a commercial photographer was for Malcolm Lubliner. He had a studio on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood that adjoined Gemini GEL. 95% of what Malcolm did was for Gemini. I recall my first day at work Malcolm giving me a tour of Gemini and I was mesmerized. The produce fine art lithography and silkscreen printing, very old-world style. Gemini would invite artists to print at their press, the likes of Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, the list is amazing and I was instantly drawn to the work that was created there. We photographed every print that Gemini produced. I learned more about photographic technique there than anywhere I have studied or worked. It was also a great intro for me into the fine art world, something that was very new to me.

I enjoy a vicarious thrill looking through my camera at people that do extraordinary visual work, painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, dance, sports. I love seeing what artists do and I marvel at the process. Working with Julie Mehretu at her studio in Berlin was a remarkable experience. I spent a week photographing Julie, her staff and the studio for a museum catalogue. To have that kind of  time to record her working was amazing. I love to do more in-depth projects like that. Whenever I have time, I try to get together with local artists whose work that I enjoy to create a portrait or something in the moment that gives me joy.

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Tell us about your personal project.
My personal project is currently titled, Negative Space. It’s an idea that has been floating in my head for the last two weeks. The idea is based on something that I remember from a painting teacher in elementary school about the parts of a canvas where the subject isn’t. What do yo do with that space where there is nothing? Generally I think of an idea and by the time I pick up the camera, the idea has transformed into something else. We will see what happens….

The Daily Promo – John Hafner

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John Hafner

Who printed it?
My promo book was printed by Blurb. It’s a Trade Book, 6X9.

Who designed it?
A graphic artist friend of mine, Paul Allen, in Missoula, Montana designed it.

Who edited the images?
Paul and I both edited the images. I did an initial edit, and then had him weigh in on which pics would make the strongest presentation. It’s really tough to edit objectively, and it’s important to
have a neutral set of eyes to narrow the selections. Just because a pic might be one of my favorites doesn’t mean it would add any value to my promo. The end result is, I think, a good mix of product/studio shots, people/portraits, wildlife and documentary that conveys the scope of what I shoot.

How many did you make?
This was actually my first hardcopy promo. My marketing and promo work has largely been digital. I’ve sent out several PDFs and e-books, which have been quick, cheap, simple and very effective. But this year, I wanted to have something more substantial; something that was portable yet impactful that my clients, and prospective clients  would hang onto and reference.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
The promo features some of my best work from 2014. I chose to include a pic of me in the field to give clients a sense of who I am and how/where I work. I primarily shoot for hunting and fishing markets, and my clients need to know that I, too, am an outdoorsman. This gives them the assurance that I know the industry, their brand and their customer. It’s vital that I can tell my clients’ stories not just creatively but also authentically.

What shoot is the opening spread from and whose paw is that?
The opening spread features some pics from a shoot I did last December with the guys from Duck Dynasty. Not only was it one of the more memorable and fun shoots from 2014, it’s great to have their super-famous facial hair in my portfolio. I also included a partial client list to give prospective clients a sense of my experience in the outdoor industry. And I included client and location info. for each pic in the book.

And yes, that’s my Golden Retriever/office manager/page turner/paw model, Shiley, in the promo pics.

The Daily Edit – Jen Judge: Virtuoso Life

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Virtuoso Life

Art Director: Melanie Prasetyo Fowler
Photo Researcher: Mary Risher
Photographer: Jen Judge

Heidi: How often do you and your husband get hired as a team, are you promoting yourselves that way?
Jen: It’s something of a work in progress. Aaron and I have been working together on and off for about ten years. In the beginning, we found that most editors wanted the freedom and flexibility to hire writers and photographers independently. But as we’ve built relationships with editors over the years, they’ve learned that we produce really good work together (and we’re not just trying to score freebie trips). So we’ve been working together more and more, probably about 30% of the time. With the changing media world, we’re also taking steps to begin formally promoting ourselves as a team.

How did this assignment come about?
This is a story that Aaron has been wanting to write since our first trip to Namibia in 2005, and the country’s investment and dedication to wildlife conservation in the last few years had him looking for timely opportunities. Sometimes it’s just a matter of patience and persistence to get a story placed. So when the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) announced its annual conference in Namibia, we took it as the perfect opportunity, and he pitched the story to Virtuoso Life, a publication we regularly work for as a team and they loved the idea.

What was the biggest obstacle you faced with this project?
This was my first “re-assignment.” I had some anxiety about this trip for a number of reasons.

In 2005, Aaron was working as an editor and staffer at Outside magazine and had a story in Namibia for their travel title, Outside Traveler. At the time, I had a full time job in marketing in Santa Fe but was trying to return to my work in photography. So we convinced Outside to let me go with him and photograph the story. The only caveat, since I was a complete unknown, they wouldn’t assign it but would buy stock if they liked what I shot. Upon my return, they liked the images, but my employer didn’t like the time I’d taken off and fired me. Outside hired me for a Las Vegas feature a few months later, other publications saw my work, and the the rest was history. The idea of going back to a place that was the pivotal moment of my photography career was scary and exciting at the same time. I was curious to see how my vision had changed, but I was also nervous about trying to shoot the same thing over again. The fact that Aaron and I both independently won national magazine awards for this feature means a lot.

Travel assignments are the crown jewel for most photographers, what’s your best advice for someone wanting to break into this market?
Travel. You can’t get travel assignments if your work only show cases “local” travel work. Editors need to know you can handle yourself in foreign countries. Language barriers and local customs can be tough to deal with and can often make or break getting a great shot. Being able to adapt to your surroundings and set locals at ease is key.

How many days were you there traveling? and did you have a guide /driver?
Twelve days including travel to and from Namibia via South Africa. We were nine days on the ground. There was no driver, but a pilot flew us about the country.

How difficult was the edit and how many images do you typically turn in?
Edits are always hard. I love making photographs but I get a little stir crazy sitting in front of my computer for hours. I wouldn’t say this edit was any harder than others. The story and the length of time on the ground usually dictates how many images I shoot for a given story. This story was longer than most, so I shot more, about 5,000 images in total. I only like to turn in images I’m really excited about, so I typically submit about 200 and specifically call out about 50 of my favorites.

Does the job usually cover any type of shots, visas, immunizations?
It depends on the destination. As American citizens, we have a lot of flexibility and relatively easy access to other countries, which helps tremendously. For example, in Namibia visa’s were obtained on arrival and no immunizations were required. By contrast, Senegal required a long list of vaccines, and I’ve actually had to turn down two assignments to Brazil because I couldn’t get a visa in time. So every story and country is different.

With so much beauty and intrigue in front of you, is it hard to put down your camera? You must be constantly shooting since everything appears to be beautiful. How do you decide what to photograph (aside from the magazine’s shot list, if there is one)?
Since I was traveling with my husband (and writer), I didn’t get any shot list. We were creating the shot list as we went. In some ways, it’s harder to shoot in tandem with a writer. It means I have to cover everything we do because it’s all a work in progress and you don’t yet know what will or won’t be in the story. In those cases, I am always on.

Over the years, though, I’ve really had to learn to make myself step back. If I shoot constantly, I get overstimulated and don’t produce my best imagery. So I really work hard to conceptualize a few great shots a day and then go out and get them. It’s my way of being proactive and creating what I want versus running around and making mediocre pictures of a lot of things. Ultimately, I aim for variety and continue to check my image library each night to make sure I’m hitting all the bases. Great landscapes, people, architecture, lifestyle and culture, food, flora and fauna—and all at a variety of focal lengths.

Best local food and drink you enjoyed?
Any wild game is amazing, but in particular I love oryx. It’s the most tender, deep red, lean, and flavorful meat I’ve ever had, and I could eat it daily, washed down with a local brew of Windhoek beer, of course.

The Daily Promo – Josh Ritchie

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Josh Ritchie

Heidi: Who printed it?
Josh: After searching around for a reasonably priced printer, since I was getting 1200 prints done at an odd size, I decided to go with a local print house, Dale Laboratories in Hollywood, FL. They were fast (they printed it same day within 3 hours), cheap, and most importantly their quality was exceptional.

Who designed it?
It was sort of a design by committee. It start with a chat with Andrea Maurio who edits a lot of my material. After we came up with a single image idea I tossed it around with fellow freelancer and very close friend Melissa Lyttle. She suggested that I turn the single image idea into a 12 image calendar. From there we both brain stormed both ideas for the images and the presentation until we came up with something I felt fit me while being sleek and functional. I ended up designing and constructing the wooden stands myself spending more that a week covered in sawdust in my driveway cutting, sanding and recutting just to get the perfect 4 x 4 block of wood. My wife began to think I was more of a lumberjack than a photographer.

Who edited the images?
This again was done by committee. Melissa Lyttle, Ed Linsmier, David Holloway, and many other photographer friends all weighed in on what they thought worked best. There was a lot of back and forth on what holidays to use and what techniques to shoot with as well as what final images to use.

How many did you make?
In total I made 100. I gave out a copy to everyone who participated and ended up sending out like 85 to potential clients.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I send out an email promo 6 times a year, a print promo 6 times a year, and one special promo each year.

Did the calendar idea emerge from wanting to have a functional promo?
The thought behind the calendar was that I wanted a way to keep my images in front of potential clients as long as possible. After the initial idea grew into a calendar I knew it would allow me to do two things : First it would allow me to allow me to explore the making of the images a little deeper than I did when I first shot them at the Eddie Adams Workshop, and second it would allow me to keep my work in front of clients for a full year.

Did you match certain images with the months?
Yes. Once I decided to do a calendar I wrote out all of the months and started brainstorming for images ideas. Some months like December, January, October were easy. Other months like May, June, September were a bit harder. For any month that did not have a well known holiday I started writing down ideas and then looked from props that would fit my budget. For May the ideas was May flowers. September was the start of football season. June was BBQ season. After I had the idea’s firmed up I then went out and bought backgrounds in various colors to try and match a color to the time of the year. I then recruited friends and family for the shoot.

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Where did the idea for the leaf blower come from?
The idea for the leaf blower came from some shots I had seen from an ad campaign. Off hand I forget what campaign it was but I like the idea and I stashed it away for a rainy day.

Here’s some BTS and one more.

How did you pitch this to talent?
My friends and family are pretty awesome so it didn’t take much convincing, although I did get some strange looks. I told them the plan and for the most part everyone bought into the idea right away. The ones who were on the fence jumped in with both feet once they found out they would be able to use the leaf blower on someone else. It is amazing what you can get people to do if you tell them they will be able to make someone else look foolish as well. I guess we all have a dark side

The Daily Edit – Mossless: Romke Hoogwaerts/ Grace Leigh

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1 cover copy

Stephen Tamiesie

3 ~man&nature copy

( left to right ) Amy Stein, Cait Opperman, Thomas Prior, Trevor Paglan, Jessica Auer, Michael Itkoff, George Underwood

4 Landeros copy

Kathya Landeros

5 ~mining,Kaneps copy

( left to right )  Suzanna Zak and Justin Kaneps

6 Shea copy

Daniel Shea

7 Evans,~industry copy

 ( left to right ) Terry Evans and Carson Gilliland

9 Foglia copy

Lucas Foglia

10 ~domesticdebris copy

( left to right ) Nich Hance Mcelroy, Eric Ruby, Mo Castello, McNair Evans

19 Yahlring,~desolation copy

( left to right )  Keith Yahrling, Andrew Bruah, Lisa Kereszi

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 Corey Olsen


Mossless

Founder: Romke Hoogwaerts
Partner: Grace Leigh

Heidi: What brought about Mossless magazine?

Romke: As a kid growing up abroad I had become attached to various online communities, one of which was photography. I loved photography, had wanted to be a photographer but I saw early on how hard of a career path it would be, regardless of talent. I wanted to study cinematography, but I also wanted to work in publishing. Once I realised that it would also be very hard for me to even get my foot in any door in publishing if I were to go down this other path, it struck me that I might as well try to develop my own. So I started a blog and soon interviewed a photographer every two days, preparing for a day where I might print a book of someone else’s photos.

Grace: I joined Romke in Mossless in February of 2012 when we started seeing one another. At first just to help packing and shipping copies of the first issue, which had just been released. I quickly became very interested in the project, being somewhat new to New York and the contemporary photography scene—I was raised by two documentary photographers—and found it to be an incredible crash course in everything from daily scouring the internet for content to book design and binding to handling distribution of our print issues. It’s been an incredible learning experience.


What is the best way for online and print photography to complement each other?

Romke: That’s a great question! A lot of newspapers and magazines would sure love to know the answer. I don’t know if I have it either but I do know that since it’s still hard to monetize web content, one should refrain from putting valuable work on there… unless you have some cunning secret interface that has it figured out. I think it’ll take a bit of a change of perspective on the value of content access across the whole internet before this conundrum is really solved. And who knows, some day soon our access to the internet may no longer need backlit screens, maybe then the internet will look more like it’s on paper, which could make physical books totally redundant!

In your mind, what are the differences between imagery that exits online vs print and what are the benefits to each? 

Grace: I find that seeing images online is generally more of a passive act, the images come to you through whatever host you happen to be using (tumblr, Flickr, etc) and can easily get buried or overpowered by the multitude of images moving past your eyes. For that reason in particular I think it’s an excellent place to get acquainted with different trends and movements and for sourcing work to put together collections of images. The appeal of print for me is the tangibility of it and the sort of ritualistic act associated with looking through a book or a magazine. By choosing to leaf through a collection of images you are taking a much more active role in viewing, it’s deliberate. There are so many amazing images online, print just gives them a place to live so they can be revisited again and again.

Romke: It’s a thrill to explore images online, as long as you know where to look to find stuff that will surprise and reveal new things, which isn’t too hard considering how many people across the world take part. With print, it’s a thing of ownership, or belonging and solidarity to a mentality. People buy books so that their contents can become a part of them in some way. It’s a potent feeling that is impossible to have online. Beyond the feeling of ownership and belonging I’d say that main difference is simply in an image’s illumination and resolution. Some images look spectacular backlit, others are best found matte and on paper. Some photos lend well to a calculated sequence, controllable in print, others suit the chaos online. It makes for quite a neat contrast. What really tips the balance, though, is exposure to the public. Books are limited in number, resources and by tangibility. An image online is at once at risk of being seen by no-one and by the whole world.

How many images did each photographer submit for the magazine?

Romke:  We didn’t really take submissions, we requested specific photos that we saw on their websites or blogs. We invited them to add any others they thought would be fitting. I think that most photographers sent an average of about six or seven photographs. Some sent just two or three, some sent about twenty.

What was your editing criteria?

Romke:  Once we had our huge folder of photos, we printed them all out, labeled them, and tried to organize them by loose categories like commerce, industry, rural, urban, and so on. We used those loose categories as groupings that we could move through and we tried to find ways to connect the different themes in a visual way. We had requested a number of photographs that would fall under  “on the road” which we used quite a bit to connect these themes. It was really hard. We created a few rules for ourselves and we broke them frequently in this mad goal of finding some kind of pure sequence.

Overall what was your theme for this issue?

Grace: The theme was photographs taken in the United States over a ten year period, as seen by a chorus of different photographers. It was our goal to create a survey of new american photography so we published a range of works from amateur  photographers we found on flickr to professional photographers with already published works, our only strict criteria that it be taken between 2003-2013 and that the work had already been published online. 

I know you’re developing a fly-on-the-wall/interview type video, which may be turned into a series, when can we look forward to that and how would we find it?

Grace: Yes! We’re really excited about our new project. We’re currently editing that video, which should go online within the next month. I wish I could say more, but I really shouldn’t!

The Daily Promo: Ryan Nicholson

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Who printed it?
It was printed by Spangler Graphics in Kansas City where I am based.

 Who designed it?
Designed by Kirk Lakebrink a Kansas City based designer.

Who edited the images?
Edited by myself and JP Perlmutter an artist consultant.

How many did you make?
We printed 275 copies of the piece and I mailed out 220. I will use the remaining pieces as leave behinds at portfolio shows, etc…

How many times a year do you send out promos?
For the past two years I have sent out 6 direct mail pieces a year (basically one every other month) and this year I am going to do them quarterly.

Where did your idea of women and hoops come from?
It is a long story on how I ended up shooting the piece but I will try and summarize. I played high school and college basketball. I graduated with a history degree and started my professional career as a high school history teacher/basketball coach. I taught and coached in Moore, Oklahoma then in Kansas City, Missouri and finally out in Phoenix, Arizona. The last year that I taught in Phoenix I actually switched from teaching history to photography but through a combination of teaching burnout and revitalized interest in photography (my father was a photographer) I decided not to renew my teaching contract and to give photography my full time attention. I started as a stringer for a couple small newspapers in Phoenix and my business has grown and shifted in a variety of ways over the past ten plus years. I am now based in my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri shooting a mixture of editorial and commercial work.

Despite my career change away from coaching I have always maintained a love and interest in basketball and decided over this past year that I wanted to dedicate some time and attention to shooting it specifically. I had a trip scheduled to New York for portfolio shows last summer and was digging around for information on the street basketball scene in the city. I found a documentary on NYC street basketball called “Doin’ it in the Park” on Netflix which led me to their Facebook page. I was looking at the film’s Facebook page and saw a post about a group of women that play pick up ball every Sunday at Goat Park in the upper west side. I found that “Ladies Who Hoop” Facebook page and sent a message to the organizer asking if I could come and photograph them while I was visiting. The organizer Amber Batchelor welcomed me with open arms and I spent a good portion of a Sunday photographing the group while I was in town.

The second part of my interest in photographing the women was my desire to create images of women in a manner that shows them as strong, athletic, etc….I have two young daughters and any opportunity that I have to use my time and talents to document women that are strong and pushing boundaries I consider time well spent. I have to say watching the women take over one of the courts in a prominent New York City park was really cool to watch and document. I am in the planning stages of another trip there and will definitely go back and photograph the group again.

Read more in SLAM Magazine here
 

The Daily Edit – Portland Monthly: Michael Novak

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Portland Monthly

Art Director: Michael Novak
Photographer: Andy Batt

How often do you have celebrities on the cover? Is this a unique cover story?
This is actually almost unheard of for Portland Monthly. As a city mag, our covers tend to stick to standard tropes such as Best Restaurants, Travel, Schools, Real Estate, etc. Occasionally we experiment with more “newsy” subject matter, but those covers have typically fared poorly on newsstand. And more specifically, our covers almost never feature actual people, except in cases where they’re fairly anonymous, eating in a restaurant or hiking a mountain; our readership responds better to more tried and true reader service. In the 8 years I’ve worked here, we’ve published only three celebrity covers—so it was definitely an experiment to try this approach.

Is this an an annual theme: exceptional Oregon women?
We’ve never done this topic before. The subject was championed by one of our executive editors, Rachel Ritchie, and embraced by our founder, Nicole Vogel, who had experienced plenty of sexism herself in the process of raising capital to start this magazine 12 years ago. Nicole wrote an essay in the issue, about the disrespect she encountered in a city considered a bastion of liberalism.

What makes an exceptional woman for your title?
We chose women across multiple industries and geographies—all of them bravely innovating in their given fields. Our criteria was really just that the women included be doing impressive work that our readers didn’t necessarily know about. We wanted each profile to feel both surprising and inspiring, from the chief of staff for the Governor to a death row investigator to Portland’s first female head brewer.

How did the concept evolve, was it hooked on the idea of these women being pioneers?
The concept was always tied to the pioneering spirit of Oregon women; from a journalist’s perspective, it’s just such a rich subject with so much material to work with. The feature’s evolution was mainly due to our selection of individuals to profile and the format those profiles would take. We could’ve easily made a whole magazine on this subject—we started with a list of more than 100 women to whittle down to 10—so the real challenge was smartly editing our aspirations and limiting the feature to the 13 pages available.

What made you choose Andy Batt for this project?
Andy brings the right skills to the table. He’s worked on many Portland Monthly projects over the years, from shooting a school bus of screaming 7-year olds (never try art directing 7-year olds!) to ballerinas to the March Fourth marching band. He always comes to a project looking to try something new, and though he’ll always execute the client’s ideas, he also brings his own. In the case of the Carrie Brownstein shoot we only had an hour with her, so we had to figure out an approach that was simple enough that we could get options for both the cover and the interior. We had conceived of a Northwest referencial set, with Carrie standing on the stump of a tree with a rough-hewn wooden background. But when I got to the set on the day of the shoot, Andy had commissioned a prop builder to assemble a green background made out of fanned fern leaves, another powerful NW visual. And in the end we went with his fern idea because it just made a better visual.

Do you ever have photographers from out of state shoot for you?
Typically no. Occasionally I’ll have someone from Seattle shoot for me, but honestly our coverage is tightly Oregon-focused and we are blessed with an abundance of local talent so I almost never have to hire from out of state. I often joke that Portland is where photographers come to retire. We seem to have more of them per capita than NY and LA. That’s probably not strictly accurate, but it’s gotta be close!

What’s the best way for photographers to get in touch with you?
The can email me at mnovak@pdxmonthly.com.

The Daily Promo – The Morrisons

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The Morrisons

Who printed it?
The foil stamped folders were printed by a great local printer, Mr. Lam at Candid Bindery.  He’s been foil stamping with expert precision forever.  The nine double-sided image cards were printed by Shapco in Minneapolis.

Who designed it?
We worked with Studio Lin here in New York.  They have a great eye for detail, materials, and color, and we loved some of their previous work (check out the cat calendars for United Bamboo on their site.

Who edited the images?
We always go through extensive rounds of edits ourselves before enlisting the expert eye of consultant and artist Melissa McGill.

How many did you make?
This was our first promo working officially as a team, and we wanted to introduce ourselves in a thoughtful way, favoring quality over quantity.  We printed 500, which was thankfully just enough.

How many times a year do you send out promos?

We hope to mail promos once or twice a year.  We love working with designers and producing something from start to finish.  It’s a luxury and can be great fun.

The Daily Edit – Bloomberg Businessweek: Angie Smith

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Bloomberg Businessweek

Creative Director: Rob Vargas
Deputy Creative Director: Tracy Ma
Director of Photography: Clinton Cargill
Photo Editor: Romke Hoogwaerts
Photographer: Angie Smith
Read the story here

Heidi: How did this story idea come about? Why the Gem show?
Angie: The idea began when I went with a writer friend to the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. We walked through the Gem and Mineral Hall and became completely mesmerized by all of the incredible minerals on display from the Congo, Afghanistan, Morocco, Brazil, China, Arizona etc. We realized that we had a common mineral obsession and a mutual desire to attend the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, the largest mineral festival in the world. We plotted to pitch a story on it, or if anything, just travel to Tucson and experience it for ourselves. As the festival date drew closer, I began further research wrote drafts of the pitch and carefully decided whom I’d send it to.

My top choices were: Bloomberg Businessweek, The New York Times Magazine and California Sunday. Synchroncity was on my side as right before I sent it to Bloomberg, I received a package in the mail containing a book called Mossless that I had been published in. The man who edited and produced Mossless was Romke Hoogwaerts, who also coincidentally become a photo editor at Bloomberg Businessweek a few months before. I realized that the timing was perfect for me to reach out to him and introduce the story idea. Romke replied immediately, telling me he loved it and he would pass it along to Clinton Cargill, the Photo Director. Over the next 10 plus days I spent my days interviewing significant figures involved in mineral show, gaining a better understanding of how the whole festival worked, identifying who the key players were, making sure I could get the access that I needed – and then communicating that back to Clinton. I found out the story was a go and I was on my way to Tucson within a week.

How did you make the pitch stronger?
After I initially sent the pitch out to a few photo editors, I realized that my timing was a little bit off (this was right between Christmas and New Years) and I knew that I could make the pitch stronger simply with more clarity in my writing and waiting until after the holidays. I worked with my good friend and Photo Consultant Meredith Marlay on the structure of the pitch. She helped me tighten my writing into 3 concise paragraphs describing what The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show was, the story angle for the magazine that I was pitching to, and how I would approach the story aesthetically. Lastly, I included images that I found from Google image search showing what the festival looked like and the types of exotic minerals and people that could be found there.

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What direction did the magazine give you?
Clinton and I decided that the best and most interesting way to approach this festival was from a documentary/reportage approach, capturing not only the minerals and the people who attend this festival, but the entire context in which it exists- which is very bizarre. One of the most interesting aspects of this festival is that many of the dealers set up shop in hotel rooms for several weeks at a time. Mattresses were stacked and leaned against the walls to make way for tables and cases displaying rocks of all kinds. Dealers are not only selling from their hotel rooms but they are sleeping in these rooms. With just a peek behind a mineral case, you can see slightly disheveled hotel beds that have recently been slept in and bathrooms full of personal items, its very strange. Many of the high-end mineral dealers would show clients minerals privately – but the only place to do this was in the hotel bathroom. I often found myself and my assistant squeezed into a hotel bathroom photographing a dealer and a client examining a specimen worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. A $500,000 mineral from the Congo would be sitting in a box next to a can of coke, some granola bars and a bunch of travel sized soaps and shampoos from the hotel. It was so strange and incredible to photograph.
After each day of shooting, I would send Clinton screenshots of the key images from that day and we would discuss how the story was shaping up as a whole. It was really helpful to talk with him and get an outsider’s perspective on how clearly I was communicating what it was like to be at this festival.

How long were you in Tucson working on this?
I spent about 9 days shooting the festival, then Bloomberg decided to run it immediately, so I spent a couple of extra days there gathering the caption info and getting the final images retouched and submitted. The story went to press as I drove back to Los Angeles.

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Was there any security involved since the gems and minerals were so valuable? Who attended this show?
Most of the shows took place in hotels, convention centers or large tents set up in parking lots. There were security guards at all of the shows- but not as many as I would have expected. People were walking around these hotels with thousands of dollars in cash in their pockets, carrying expensive minerals in boxes. One of the most interesting facets of this shoot was the people who attend- there were geologists, museums curators, miners, dealers, retired “rock hounds” or rock collectors, metaphysical types, traveling hippies- everyone was from all over the world- there were some real characters. A general observation that I made was that all of these mineral enthusiasts, whether high end or low end, all shared a deep passion and appreciation for the aesthetic and raw beauty of minerals that come from the earth. Many of these people have extensive scientific knowledge about the formation of minerals- and they appreciate not only the beauty of these specimens, but have an in depth understanding of how they were formed within the context of the earth’s geologic history.

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The Daily Promo: Keith Barraclough

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Keith Barraclough

Sample from the deck of The Redhead Playing cards The Redhead Project The Redhead Project The Redhead Project The Redhead Project The Redhead Project The Redhead Project
Who printed it?

A company out of Arlington, Texas called Liberty Playing Cards

Who designed it?

I designed the deck, using Liberty’s Adobe Illustrator-compatible playing card template.

Who edited the images?

My studio manager and I did an initial edit of the images (at the time the decks were produced, I’d photographed 75 redheads) and then I asked Maria Ragusa-Burfield, President of Alt-Pick, to weigh in.

How many did you make?

We ordered 250 packs.  Each pack contains a lead card describing The Redhead Project’s concept and features 54 different redheads’ portraits on the faces of 52 playing cards and two jokers. The backs of the cards feature a collage of 12 different portraits (all of which are featured in the deck).

How many times a year do you send out promos?

I have six email promos and six postcard promos scheduled for 2015. Many will be images from the Redhead series. The playing cards are being used as leave-behinds at portfolio showings and networking events.

Are you a card shark? Why the cards?

No, I’m not. The deck of cards idea came up while my studio manager and I were brainstorming ideas for showcasing and promoting my work on the project to prospective advertising and editorial clients.  We were immediately taken with the idea as a promotional tool.  It’s a tactile, novel, functional, and fun way to highlight 54 portraits from the project.

Where did your affinity for redheads come from?

The initial concept for The Redhead Project actually came to me during a corporate shoot while processing images of an executive who had red hair and piercing blue eyes. I was struck by the contrast of his features against the white Oxford he was wearing and the light seamless backdrop and thought that a series of redheads wearing white against a white seamless would make an interesting personal project.

Since I didn’t know any redheads, I initially relied on word of mouth to enlist participants. We hosted a Redhead Project launch party in July 2013 where we displayed images of the initial 10 redheads photographed, served red hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and invited creative professionals and friends to invite their favorite redheads to find out more about the project.

The scope, concept and reach of the Redhead Project have evolved since the early days of the project and social media (especially Instagram – @projectredhead) has really propelled interest.  All subjects still wear white—like the executive that unwittingly inspired this all—but I also have subjects bring their favorite clothes, accessories and props that reflect their personalities and style, and each shoot is a collaborative process.

The Daily Edit: Michael Friberg: GQ / By the Olive Trees

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GQ

Design Director: Fred Woodward
Director of Photography: Krista Prestek
Photographer:
Michael Friberg 

 

I’d imagine shooting highly produced live performance of a legendary rock band could be anyone’s dream assignment; it’s about the access, up close and personal. What type of obstacles did you run into on this assignment?
I’m too young to really have any real knowledge of Motley Crue other than what I’ve seen on VH1 specials about their legendary debauchery. In highschool I grew up going to punk and hardcore shows in abandoned warehouses and rented storage spaces. Super DIY so this type of thing was totally foreign to me and I was excited for the visual excess that awaited me. I had delusions of grandeur thinking I’m gonna be like Annie Leibovitz with the Rolling Stones or something. Unfortunately the reality was much much worse. Their time and access was over promised and I had to fight tooth and nail to even get the band together for a quick portrait. It was a pretty acrimonious setting, I felt like I was in a real life version of Spinal Tap.

How did you deal with things dissolving around you? 
I was definitely stressed out but I try to keep a sense of humor about things. It was my first time working for GQ so I wanted to do a good job. Luckily Krista had been dealing with their people for a while before I had and she was really understanding about how challenging it was. You never want to be the photographer making excuses for why something didn’t work out. The whole situation was so restricted it was comical. On the first night they let me shoot the first song from about 200 feet back from the stage by the sound board and then escorted me backstage. I was sitting side stage watching this insane spectacle of a show. Explosions and dancers and a crazy light show and I didn’t have my cameras. It was killing me. I was kind of panicking because I didn’t have anything so I snuck out and shot some more photos. That didn’t turn out too well but I got some more photos that I needed. I really don’t like being in a position where I’m having to sneak around. I’m a pretty easy going guy and I get along with most people but the assignment was definitely in jeopardy so I felt like I needed to take some drastic measures or else I wasn’t going to have anything. I got busted and the whole thing sort of exploded in my face but it lead to the magazine negotiating better access for the live show the next night so I guess things worked out. I was heavily babysat from there on out though.

Was this your first assignment for GQ and what about your work/situation awarded you the job?
This was my first assignment for GQ. I was pretty surprised to get a call from them because I had always had a really hard time even getting a meeting there. The assignment came from Krista Prestek the director of photography there who I had never had any interaction with. It turns out that in a meeting the photo editor Katy Dunn who was freelancing there had apparently mentioned my name. She actually gave me my first magazine assignment ever when she was freelancing at Businessweek in 2011. You never know where people will end up in this industry.

What drove you to be relentless about getting the shot and what did you learn from this assignment?
I never want to be the photographer that is making excuses for why something didn’t work out. Even if its true, it doesn’t bode well for you. The editor hired you to get the job done and that includes adverse circumstances more often then not. Sometimes you just cant do it but i’m going to bend over backwards to try and figure something out in the mean time. When the photo director at a magazine hires you out of the blue for an assignment that most people would kill for you need to make sure you do a good job one way or another.

How much time did you actually get with the band?
I thought I might have been exaggerating when I was telling people I got 30 seconds with the band but I just look at the time stamp on the first photo of the band and the last photo of the band. 21 seconds. I didn’t have a choice where I shot it. They told me I could shoot the band backstage on the ramp right before they went onstage. I shot two or three frames front lit and then had my assistant Cole run around behind them and backlit a couple frames and we were done.

I know there is interpersonal band tension which makes it hard to shoot them as a group, how did you resolve that?
I didn’t even really interact with the band. We had negotiated them all being in this place before they went on stage. I don’t even think I introduced myself. When I finished,Nickki sixx said “Fuck yeah! that was quick!” and gave me a fist bump. That is the totality of my interaction with the band on the two day assignment.

What surprised you the most about this assignment?
The flame thrower/bass that Nikki Sixx plays. Its a functioning instrument but it also shoots fire 25 feet in the air. Despite how tough the assignment was logistically, it was pretty awesome to be witness to such a crazy spectacle. Having the opportunity to shoot a bunch of stuff explode while some aging rockstars play “girls girls girls” is a pretty sweet gig no matter what happens.

How has living in Salt Lake City shaped you as a photographer?
I’m originally from West Texas but after high school and one semester of college back home, I decided I needed to get the hell out and get to the Mountains. I didn’t know anything about Salt Lake City, other than that it was the headquarters of the Mormon Church and that its name kept appearing in snowboarding magazines. I went to a small liberal arts college here and snowboarded 4 days a week and occasionally went to class. It was great. Once I got into photography, I thought I needed to get out and get some experience in a big city so I moved to NYC for a year and assisted and starved.I learned a ton but I was running out of money and I wasn’t really shooting any personal work and my girlfriend (now wife) was in graduate school in Salt Lake City so I moved back and licked my wounds. The plan was to move to a big city when she finished school and I would try to freelance but life had different plans. I got a couple random jobs and worked part time, lived with a handful of gross dudes to keep rent cheap and spent all my money on shooting personal work. I always feel like I end up being defensive about living in Salt Lake but I really love it here. Its pretty cheap considering the incredible location. The airport is awesome. Its not really that hard to get a beer despite the rumors. I have the best community and group of friends i’ve ever had here. I slowly started getting regional work and I would go back to NYC and do meetings once or twice a year. I got married in the summer of 2011 and I was still working at a pub part time, shooting part time. I was really lucky that my super gracious wife had a “real” job and it afforded me the space to save up some money and quit the day job and make a run at the freelance thing. A lot of the first assignments I was getting were pretty routine. I was only getting hired because I was a guy with a camera who was capable. The first people who really hired me and encouraged me to do my thing were Businessweek. Specifically David Carthas when he was still there as the director of photography. Early on before anybody else was giving me cool assignments, they were. I am really thankful for that because it helped get the ball rolling and helped me get out of the “regional photographer” rut.

What were the draw backs if any for living in SLC and a smaller market?
I definitely don’t work as much as my peers in big markets. I think everybody assumes everybody is doing better than them but I probably only have 4 or 5 assignments a month. That is totally fine with me because my cost of living is low and I really like to focus on making personal work and having a good quality of life. One drawback of being in a small market where not a ton of stuff is happening is that I end up on the road a lot. It usually goes in spurts. I’ll be home for three weeks and then spend a month bouncing around. There definitely isn’t as big of a creative community as there is in larger cities. Not all of my photo friends live elsewhere but most of them do. I have had a much harder time breaking into the commercial market being here. I think it is a bit harder to be taken seriously when you live in a smaller market. I used to resent that sort of “NY or nowhere” attitude that existed in the editorial world but I definitely think that is changing.

Aside from snowboarding, what brought you to SLC? Were you aiming to start a photography career?
Like I said, I grew up in West Texas where creativity wasn’t exactly flourishing so I had no idea you could even make a living doing something like that. I didn’t discover photography until my sophomore year of college.  I wasn’t at a super art heavy school but I pieced together an education between class and the internet and photo books.

How did the lower cost of living, smaller market help you develop your photographic voice?
I think I sort of answered this earlier but I really can’t stress enough how important it is to spend money on your photo projects. Photo projects are expensive. Film, traveling etc etc it all adds up. For a while I would spend money on gear expecting that to solve my problems but my problems weren’t technical. My problem was that I had no vision or voice or experience. Being a snow bum translated well to becoming a photo bum. When I was in college, I would share houses with tons of my friends to keep our rent as cheap as possible to be able to snowboard as much as possible and work as little as possible. When I started trying to make it photographically it was an easy transition. I still had tons of room mates and my rent was around 200 bucks a month. I would shoot personal projects and travel and spend all of my money on film.

You have quite the client list for shooting full time for just short 4 years, how did you get started?
Like everybody else, I would go to NYC a couple times a year, meager portfolio in hand, and do meetings with photo editors. Even when these meetings weren’t getting me much work, It was hugely educational because you see your portfolio a whole different way when somebody else is looking at it on a table. You can also see what people are and aren’t responding to and learn from that. I slowly started getting work and then I got a couple cool assignments that helped me really show my style and voice and that helps immensely when you can show commissioned work to editors rather than just personal work. The gap between shooting editorial and shooting personal projects is huge. Some of the photos might look similar but the process of shooting them is so different its crazy. On a personal project, if the weather or light sucks you just come backtomorrow but on an editorial shoot you can’t come back tomorrow you just have to make something work. I feel incredibly blessed to have been entrusted with the assignments I have been given. I think a lot of photographers feel entitled to cool work but its important to remember that when some editor is hiring you and you are young and untested, that that person is putting their ass on the line for you. I have no idea why some people gave me some of the assignments I have been given. I didn’t have a single celebrity portrait in my portfolio before Sundance last year when Bailey Franklin from Variety called me. How did he know I wouldn’t melt down and blow it in all of the chaos of photographing over 100 people in four days in a tiny improvised studio?

What’s the best advice you have for any photographer starting out?
Spend all your money on personal projects. Have a low standard of living when you are starting out, that way you can work on projects you care about rather than just doing everything for money to survive. When people can really see you in your projects you will get hired to do the same type work. The hardest thing about photography isn’t taking pictures, it’s figuring out how to communicate what you want about a particular subject and executing that. Getting access, planning, logistics, executing ideas, these things are all the things that you learn by trial and error when you are shooting personal work.

What can you say about your generation of photographers, how is it different from the previous generation?
The internet, for all its faults and insanity, has been instrumental in building a creative community for me. People I met through online channels have become mentors, real life friends and collaborators. I can only speak to my personal experience but in my particular peer group in the photo world, it feels much less competitive and cut throat. When I was first trying to get meetings, my friends were not only giving me people’s email addresses but also doing email introductions on my behalf. Some of these people are technically my direct “competition” but I feel like my friends are operating out of an economy of abundance rather than scarcity. Being a freelancer can be terrifying and screw with your head and you can think every job is your last or freak out when the phone doesn’t ring for two weeks but I think being around people like this has helped me have a much healthier attitude about all of it.

Your work has a vast range of reportage, portraits, details, long narrative arcs. How has that range become an asset to your career?
I personally really like shooting a huge range of things. I think sometimes it makes my work seem a bit schizophrenic and all over the place but it keeps things interesting. The trick is being versatile while still finding a way to put your own personal stamp on it. Thing can easily get generic if you don’t find a way to do that. I definitely think I get hired more often to shoot feature essay type stories that need a few different things photographically to illustrate a story. A lot of the time I end up doing a seamless portrait and then also doing reportage in the same day. Ultimately that is my favorite type of photography. Its cliche but telling stories and interacting with people is really why I got into it and figuring out creative ways to do that is always really fun.

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By the Olive Trees

Design Director: Fred Woodward
Director of Photography: Krista Prestek
Photographer:
Michael Friberg  and Ben Rasmussen

Tell me how By the Olive Trees developed and why this was important to you?
I originally got into photography because I thought I wanted to become a photo journalist. After realizing that that particular style of working wasn’t for me, I started doing a sort of documentary/art/editorial hybrid that really seemed to suite my way of seeing well. I had photographed in Africa a couple times and really wasn’t happy with how things had come out. After doing a couple years of editorial work bouncing around and not really working on anything serious, I was reading an article somewhere about Syrian refugees in Jordan. I felt like the photography for these stories didn’t really match what I was reading. For instance: 2/3s of the refugees in Jordan were living in urban settings, not living in a refugee camp but all of the photos I had seen were from the really sensationalistic, highly visual Zaatari refugee camp. I felt like the refugees were sort of being used as props to illustrate a point. Ben Rasmussen and I had been talking about collaborating on something for a long time and we both were interested in working on something more serious than just photographing wacky stories for magazines. I’ve always been interested in social justice issues and this seemed like a way to participate in the conversation. We had no experience at all in this area but we bought two plane tickets to Jordan, found a fixer and headed over. The experience was definitely life changing and really helped solidify the type of work I want to be making. Ben and I really tried to slow down and photograph these refugees like we would shoot a magazine assignment in the US. Ben was shooting 4×5 and I was shooting medium format, lighting some portraits and reportage. We also did long form interviews with the refugees and got them transcribed.

When we got back, we put together the work for a multimedia piece commissioned by Dirk Barnett the creative director of The New Republic at the time. After making that, Dirk offered to design a book for us. Ben and I had been talking about this but we felt like an expensive photo book might not be the best outlet for this type of thing. At best, we could probably afford to make 500 copies and the people who would buy them would be the people who were probably already familiar with the conflict. I had a couple friends who had made newsprint zines and publications and it seemed like a really great way to use the newspaper medium to communicate information cheaply in a different way. the newsprint allowed us to run large chunks of text straight from the refugees mouths. We had self funded the shooting portion of the project and had managed to come close to breaking even after a couple outlets ran the work but we definitely didn’t have the money to do a large print run of the newspapers. The kickstarter was pretty cool to see because people really got behind the idea. We printed 4000 copies of the newspaper and the cost of each one was a little under 3 dollars for an 80 page full color publication. The low cost meant that we could ship three copies to each supporter and they could become distributors for us. People were leaving them in doctors offices, coffee shops and giving them away. It was cool to see where they ended up. We were definitely surprised at how much support we got. We exceeded our original goal which helped us to print more copies. The goal for the newspaper was that they would always be distributed for free. Now you can order copies on BytheOliveTrees.com for just the cost of shipping.

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How did you meet Benjamin Rasmussen?
I met Benjamin Rasmussen when I saw his work on tumblr, read his bio on his website and thought we had a lot in common. I emailed him to say hi and we struck up a friendship that has been hugely important for me photographically and personally.


What’s next for this project?

I just returned from Jordan about a month ago where I was working on a project about Iraqi Christian refugees who fled Mosul when ISIS took over. I’m going to be working on a long term project about the country of Jordan and how the influx of refugees is affecting the country. Currently nearly 1/5 of their population is made up of refugees which is a really staggering statistic. If that happened in America people would not be that hospitable. There are refugees from Central America coming even as we speak and people are picketing the buses that are transporting them to detention centers. I’d like to go back to Jordan in May to keep working on this project but I just had a grant proposal rejected so if anybody wants to send me back I’d be grateful…

The Daily Promo – Arkan Zakharov

- - Promos

Arkan Zakharov

Who Printed it?
This was printed on a sheet-fed press in Toronto.

Who Designed and edited the images?
I designed and did all press prep on this book, all editing done by me as well.

How Many did you make?
I did a run of 170 copies. 150 were quarter folded for easier shipping in envelopes. The remaining 20 were folded into a book which was sent in a tube to few select locations.

How Many Times a year do you send out promos?
This was the first time I have done a promo. I am planning on sending one out annually.

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@heidivolpe is reaching out to photographers from the Insta-Promo feed @aphotoeditor to learn more about how the promo was made. If you’d like to know more about a specific promo leave a comment on instagram.

The Daily Edit – People Magazine Oscar Portfolio: Brenna Britton

- - The Daily Edit

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People Magazine

Creative Director: Andrea Dunham
Director of Photography: Catriona Ni Aolain
Deputy Photography Director & Multimedia: Christine Ramage
Deputy Photo Editor-Entertainment: Brenna Britton
Deputy Design Director: Dean Markadakis- Designed this layout
Photographer+Director: Peggy Sirota

Heidi: We all know Peggy is a star, what was it specifically that made you choose her?
Brenna: Creative Director, Andrea Dunham, Director of Photography Catriona Ni Aolain, Deputy Director Christine Ramage, and myself wanted Peggy for her signature style, which means you’ll get the most stunning light, effortless moments of cool, and everyone looking beautiful. And for all those reasons, celebrities love to shoot with her. Working with Director of Visual Projects, Blaine Zuckerman, we also wanted a video series in Peggy’s style, to differentiate from the typical photo shoot interview, and have continuity from the still image portfolio through the video series.

With the Oscar’s coming up, how did you hope to set your portfolio apart from the media frenzy around these subjects
The original concept was to do a day in the life of Oscar, with a photojournalistic approach. Inspired by Paolo Pellegrin’s 2008 portfolio for the New York Times, we wanted each nominee to represent a slice of the day. Obsessed with Pellegrin’s image of Sean Penn making a sandwich in his kitchen, most photo editors and photographers dream of that kind of access, with that caliber of talent. That image gave you a private moment with an actor at the least private of times, awards season. To be able to photograph any of these nominees outside of the Beverly Hilton, or any other Hotel on the awards show conveyer belt is a miracle.

Unlike other publications that produce award season portfolios prior to the nominations, we actually wait till the nominations are out and then have about 2 weeks to produce a concept portfolio during the most hectic time for the talent. I’ll call the PR rep to ask to photograph the talent in a really soulful way that represents who they are as human beings at their home, waking up, brushing their kid’s teeth, hiking, driving, something reminiscent of the old LIFE magazine iconic images. I’ll ask for 5 hours for a photo shoot, video shoot, and interview.

The talent and PR reps are spread so thin during awards season, a possible offer of time would sound something like this:  “We have 10 mins in a corner of a hallway, after The “enter any awards event name here”, after 80 other photographers have photographed them in the same outfit, on the way out the door. You may be able to get them to actually stop for you, but I’m not sure, they have to be at Kimmel by 4:00pm, does that work? ” Not really the part of their soul I was going for, but let me see what we can do.

In all seriousness, the talent’s team is face with a mountain of asks, events and interviews, it’s a tremendous amount to juggle a successful campaign. Then I come along and ask for the most amount of time, and their soul on top of it, I’m the last person they want to hear from.  But in the end, each Talent’s teamwork to make the images happen, you have to respect what they are going through and still try to get close to your ideas.

Was this a multi day shoot?
Two weeks in Los Angeles producing what ended up being a 5 day shoot, with 2 shoots cancelled on top of that. Final outcome–5 image portfolio, 6 videos— 1 baby grand piano, 3 horses, 1 shoot cancelled the morning of, and numerous heart attacks. The only way to get through these types of numbers is with an outstanding team from Peggy, to producers Steve Bauerfeind, Cathy Mele, and numerous PEOPLE editors all-pushing to make this portfolio happen.

What type of direction did give the subjects? Were they characters in the films or themselves? 
I know it sounds cliché, but we really did want the talent to be themselves. It was incredibly important to Peggy to speak with each nominee directly, and ask what he or she really wanted to be doing during the shoot. Peggy is always looking to create an authentic environment that puts talent at ease the moment they arrive on set. Eddie is a great example. While we tried to get him on the phone with Peggy, I had done some research, and read interviews that he had a collection of guitars. We hired prop stylist Phillip Williams to get guitars, and worked on art directing the photo shoot around this premise. We had a tough time getting Eddie on the phone with Peggy, because he was filming in Germany, but they got on the phone the day before the shoot.

By the time I landed in LA, guitars had been nixed, and Eddie had told Peggy how he loved to play the piano. The hunt was on for a piano store, or a piano to be brought to set. The guitars were dropped, a vintage car was cancelled, and baby grand Piano was brought to set. I had a panic attack watching 6 guys carry the baby grand up wood steps to our Mid -Century location house and have it placed on a balcony that, to this day, I have no idea how it supported the piano, the crew, and Eddie. End result, a beautiful moment with Eddie doing something he loved.

What was the creative/video direction for this shoot? Did it all come from the photographer? 
Dunham, Ni Aolin, Ramage and myself really wanted a day in the life of a nominee, with each talent representing a different time of the day. Peggy was adamant that the talent be involved in deciding what those acts were so the image was authentic, and not just coming up with another roll for them to play. To make things a bit more complicated we had a video component that would be a trailer for the portfolio. The trailer would carry a narrative taking the viewer/reader through a full day in LA with each nominee photographed for a different portion of the day.  For example, Morning: Laura Dern with coffee, Afternoon: Keaton, riding his horses, Late Afternoon: Felicity Jones at High Tea, Evening: Eddie playing piano, and then came Late Evening: Hawke and Arquette, who where to be having dinner.

This shoot was a great lesson and a game changer to the portfolio narrative. There are the ideas you come up with in an office in New York and then there is the magic you can never predict that happens on set. It’s because of these rare moments I love my job. Everything with talent at this level is controlled and to get a true moment that’s not contrived is a gift. Both Ethan and Patricia couldn’t get on the phone with Peggy due to their schedules, but in the end, all you really needed was for them to show up. Sometimes you can get so attached to an idea that you miss the magic. On-set, you’re constantly ask yourself—“How will this fit into the narrative, the portfolio, the original concept?” You’ve got Ethan and Patricia, two people that have true chemistry, on location at Santa Barbara’s San Ysidro Ranch, at magic hour, with a master of capturing golden light – Peggy Sirota. When you’ve got all those elements together, your job is done, it’s gorgeous, and you didn’t have to do the photo shoot in a bland hotel hallway. The only problem, only one image can run in the portfolio, great problems to have! Then again, Online, Instagram, and the tablet, have solved that too.

The Daily Edit – Bicycling Magazine: Jesse Southerland

- - The Daily Edit
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Bicycling

Design and Photo Director: Jesse Southerland
Art Director: Colin McSherry
Designer: Jimmy Cavalieri

Heidi: I understand you do both the photo direction and the design direction which is becoming more often the norm. What are the benefits and the drawbacks in your eyes?

Jesse: Tighter photo budgets each year are no surprise for editorial photographers, but hopefully they can take some comfort in knowing that their clients are legitimately feeling that pinch as well. Yes, in my case I have absorbed the photo director responsibilities in addition to the design direction.
The benefits have been pretty rewarding actually. Being involved from start to finish allows for better communication without as much getting in lost in translation. There aren’t as many surprises (for the most part) when the edits come in. Overall there are less kill fees which unfortunately don’t even have their own budget lines anymore. We absorb that cost out of the real budget, so it’s crucial things go right the first time. In addition to better communication, I think the process is expedited with fewer people involved. I can get back to a photographer who is on set with direct, immediate feedback. They aren’t stuck waiting as long as they would with the workflow of a traditional art department. Also, when pre shoot problems pop up I can generally get back to them within a few hours as opposed to the next day which was often the case before.
It obviously isn’t all roses. Make no mistake, there wouldn’t be a blog of this name if photo editors’ weren’t crucial to most magazines. I’m stretched extremely thin. I’m used to working ahead, but now it isn’t uncommon to be working on 4-5 issues at once every day. The time needed for photo research is greatly reduced. I love having tried and true photographers, but I miss having the time to dig deeper and find younger photographers with a completely fresh and inspiring outlook on the assignments. I feed off of their excitement and hunger. The time spent designing is the time most sacrificed. I can always pull an all nighter to lay out a feature, but I can’t stay up all night and magically produce all of the photos. So the time spent photo directing is more important for me to focus on in most cases.
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I see you have some international coverage, how are you sourcing those photographers in such remote places?
For Dario Pegoretti story, we needed him shot in his small studio in the middle of nowhere in Italy for that issue. This stuff is probably another day in the life of a regular photo editor, but it obviously takes more research and logistical communication than the average shoot. I basically scoured through Wired Italia for the coolest portraits and found Max&Douglas who lived somewhat close. They absolutely fell in love with Dario and produced some great photographs. Again, nothing crazy for a photo editor, but a huge victory in my position with such limited resources.
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What’s your approach to the overall photo direction of the magazine?
The photo direction is identical to the design direction which is identical to the editorial direction. Everything at BICYCLING is about being exciting, fun, fit, authentic and real. Ideally the photography will contain most of those attributes, but as long as the photo nails at least one of those descriptions we are good, but it has to really nail it. I am most intrigued by authentic and real. Bicycling photography can go really wrong really quick. You may have a really authentic looking person to shoot, but then they put on their outfit, then a helmet, then sunglasses and suddenly that person is reduced to a storm trooper…zero individuality. We have found tattoos and beards go a long way, thank you hipsters! The lighting and processing plays a huge role in the overall direction. When I first started I really did a 180 and completely got away from the high key, edge lit, over sharpened look and went really low fi in an attempt to feel more real. I think the result was a little underwhelming, and though it felt real/raw, it lacked an energy and excitement. I realized there still needs to be enough punch, just the right amount of polish and authentic environments make all the difference. That is the direction we strive for now. VSCO alone can’t solve all of our problems.
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How do you approach gear differently?
Gear is less about the environment and lends itself to more to studio photography which is quite unlike the rest of the magazine. We try to show gear in a very practical, utilitarian way that best illustrates why we feel the need to showcase it in the first place. Bicycling gear definitely evolves over time, but month to month, year to year, the changes appear very minimal. We are often shooting the same things over and over so I try to focus first on how can we best show what is being written about rather than thinking style and lighting first. We work closely with the editors to get a feel for what matters most. Then we go full blown “bike porn” and shoot whatever we think looks the coolest and try to get as close as we can to it. Most often that is what ends up in print, but we still listen to the editors. Also, we take full advantage of provided photography from the companies when available. I figure they have spent a lot more money than we could ever afford on these products. Bonus: they often even come with clipping paths! We have a small but scrappy art department that can comp a lot of provided shots together, add shadows and make it feel like a highly produced editorial page. This allows us to produce and afford our larger shoots.
Gear covers have an entirely different approach to the rest of the magazine. Full disclosure, I cannot get enough ring light for a bicycle cover. I feel embarrassed when I ask photographers to dust off their ring lights, but I honestly think they were made to shoot bikes in studio. Plus there are so many bikes in the advertisements and I have yet to see one shot that way, so it’s really a distinctively editorial look.
What’s the hardest part of doing a single subject title?
BICYCLING requires a direction that clearly separates editorial from advertising. We show people riding bikes and gear. The advertisements are of people riding bikes and gear. Luckily editorial trends and advertising trends usually tend to be the opposite. Cycling advertising is starting to look less produced though so I may have to rethink everything.
Regardless of the direction though, a bicycle can only fit on a 8.5” x 11” page or 17” x 11” spread so many ways. It’s extremely tough to get creative shooting bikes without sinking into a really bad conceptual idea that, at the end of the day, doesn’t even show off the bike that well. This probably has a lot to do with my ring light fetish.
What is your favorite section to design and favorite to photo direct?
I love designing a good profile feature. At previous magazines I would do around 2 every issue. Here it’s closer to 1 every three issues, so I really appreciate them when they come along. My favorite section to photo direct would be the one that requires that doesn’t require direction. That section is slowly in the making, but my goal is to have photographers shooting what they would want to be shooting anyway. I know that sounds cliche, but I really believe there is a bicycling photo culture growing in way similar to skateboarding or surfing. When you have people shooting what they love, their submissions are far better than what I could assign or direct and truly capture everything we want the magazine to be. I am also fortunate to work with editors that see the value in that and are encouraging an art first approach to our features. Hint: please send me awesome stuff.
How often do you ride? if at all?
I ride frequently now. I never did until this job, but I have drank the kool-aid and now I have closet full of tights.
What are you looking for your portraits and riding shots?
I want portraits that draw the reader in and make them spend time with it without realizing it. Something intimate that goes beyond style, but is more about the connection between the photographer and the subject. That connection gets passed on to the reader. For riding shots I’m looking for something with a more voyeuristic feel. The rider should be a real cyclist, not a model. I want the environment to be as much of a character as the rider. These  shots should inspire me to want to ride by making it look like fun, an adventure, not necessarily a workout.
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There’s a nice range to your covers in both gear, scenics and riding, is that a new direction for the title? I remember it always being riders on the cover ( and gear of course )
It is a new direction, one that is closer to what we have been doing inside the magazine. I have never wanted the magazine to exclusively feel like a fitness magazine, but rather an enthusiast magazine where getting fit is a great result of cycling, but not the sole purpose. The overly aggressive solo rider taking up the entire cover gives off a very intense, heavy, serious vibe which isn’t who we are.
What’s the best way for photographers to get in touch with you?
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