Posts by: Heidi Volpe

The Daily Edit – One Shot Editions: Brian Finke

- - The Daily Edit

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One Shot

Co-Founders: Zack McDonald & Daan van Dam
Photographer:
Brain Finke


Why did you choose to collaborate with Brian?
We’re huge fans of Brian’s work. The man has an unbelievable knack for creating visual worlds that you can’t help but step into. Plus, he’s one of the nicest, coolest guys we know.

Where did this idea stem from?
We have a strong love for photography and have been watching closely as the digital revolution has really transformed every part of it.

It’s turned everyone into a photographer. For better and for worse. It’s given artists the freedom to go to new places, but it’s also taken some things away. The element of surprise, the rush of a happy accident or the joy of the unknown. We created One Shot to help people reconnect with the mysterious and fragile beauty of analog photography.

Why film?
If you take a stroll through the Internet at any given time, you’ll come across hundreds, if not thousands, of digital photos. And they’re multiplying by the second. We really liked the idea of putting something truly ephemeral and impossibly rare into the world. At the same time, we wanted to make the prints as accessible as possible so almost anyone can take a shot if they want. They’ve just got to be quick.

I know Brian can shoot whatever he wants, are you given any idea what he maybe up to?
We just received the prints and all we can say is they’re beauties. It’s almost a shame to destroy the negatives… But those are the rules.

If I wanted to buy one how do I sign up?
The 24 1/1 prints are on sale at oneshoteditions.com. People can select any available print from our store but once a shot has been purchased it will be gone forever. So you better be fast if you want to pick your lucky number. There’s also a limited edition zine available which includes an overview of the series, a Q&A with Brian and an essay about the origins of One Shot.

The Daily Promo – Narayan Mahon

- - The Daily Promo

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Narayan Mahon

Who printed it?
I use Modern Postcard for these types of smaller promos

Who designed it?
I do the layout and design myself for the postcard promos.

Who edited the images?
I edited the images myself, with some feedback from my wife and a few different colleagues/friends.

How many did you make?
1000.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
It depends on what I have planned for promos, when I’ve done larger promos, such as newsprint pieces, I might for one large and maybe 4 smaller promos such as this one per year. This fall I made 3 different promos at once so I could have them ready to send out as the time came and I wouldn’t get lazy about it.

Where did these images come from?
Well, this promo was a little different that most because they came from a test shoot that I did with another photographer, a friend who I consider a mentor and whose work and work ethic I truly admire, Andy Anderson and his son Zach, also a very talented photographer and supportive friend. I had photographed the Lumberjack Championships a couple years before and Andy invited me to come along with them this year so I jumped at the chance to spend some time with them and make some pictures together. It was a great experience to collaborate and learn from him and I ended up making some new work that I was proud of and that ended up being a real energizer for me.

The Daily Edit – Contact High Project

- - The Daily Edit

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PHOTO BY JANETTE BECKMAN

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PHOTO BY BARRON CLAIRBORNE

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PHOTO BY JONATHAN MANNION

 

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PHOTO BY CHI MODU

 

Contact High Project

Editor: Vikki Tobak

Heidi: How did this idea come about?
Vikki: Hip hop is by now widely accepted as influencing just about every facet of life — ideas, fashion, visual language in general. And now it’s far enough along in its history that archives of rare and unpublished imagery tell the big story. Stories that are deeply woven into the fabric of a global mainstream. I worked as a music culture journalist for many years and before that was in the hip hop industry. When I started working as a producer for CNN and went deeper into photojournalism, the dots started to connect. Behind every photo there’s a story of how it happened and what was happening in hip hop culture during that time. By showing the contact sheet and interviewing the photographer, you go deeper into the story. They were rebels, artists who understood the power of words and the power of imagery. And so did the photographers who captured these images. For example, Janette Beckman, a photographer who was our first story, talks about ‘rebel cultures’ and how photographs encapsulate these significant cultural movements.. She shot the punk scene in England before moving to New York to photograph hip hop. I approached Mass Appeal Magazine with the idea of running the series and we have a great relationship. Bucky Turco is my editor there and he sometimes gives me a hard time for selecting certain contact sheets– like the time I decided to feature a black and white contact sheet from Jamel Shabazz rather than a color one he is so well known for. But it’s a great process and I really like working with the magazine because they are dedicated to urban culture.

In what ways did the “Magnum Contact Sheet” book inspire you?
The goal of the series from the start was to compile stories for a book based partially on the Magnum Contact Sheet book. I became really interested in the Magnum Photographers when I started working in mainstream news outlets like CNN and CBS Magnum Contact Sheet. I was really blown away by seeing all the shots on a contact sheet and knowing what was happening in all the frames before seeing the selected image. It really takes you in! And then to hear the photographers tell the deeper story was just so inspiring. I thought about hip hop imagery and how all these years later we have this archive, but, we don’t really have the stories behind what happened that day or what was happening for the culture at that time. This book was an inspiration to do something like that for hip hop.

My hope in doing this book and telling these stories and going a couple layers deeper was to paint a more nuanced picture of this culture that is now so mainstream. These photographers have played critical roles in bringing hip hop imagery onto the global stage. A rare glimpse into their creative process and understanding the behind-the-scenes of the imagery that shaped hip hop is part of a history. These photographers give me access to the original and unedited contact sheets which means alot to me in terms of trust and telling their stories in a deep way. Photographers typically don’t show their contact sheets. It’s very personal and I honor that.
Allowing us to look directly through the photographer’s lens and observe all of the other shots is a an honor.

What about contact sheets in general inspire you?
Contact sheets are like being let in on a secret, going backstage, going deeper into the story. What did the artist and photographer envision from the outset? What was happening in that artists life at the time? What decisions were being made about the imagery that would shape hip hop? People are curious about specific cameras, editing processes, editorial decisions etc.. For example, Chi Modu, who was the photo editor at The Source magazine for many years was in the room with editors talking about who they’re gonna put on the cover, what image to use, and things that contributed to telling this bigger story. It’s also fascinating to and nerd out on cameras, film and processes used for these shoots. 36 frames on a roll and you start to make some serious decisions about what to shoot and how. Hip hop has always been about self-definition especially when it comes to visual culture and style.

How did you try and make your project, different if at all?
I wanted to keep this projected specifically focused on hip hop visual culture. I wanted to talk about certain images, like the Barron Claiborne Biggie King of New York crown image because it’s such a part of the fabric of everything– you see it on murals, t-shirts on television in Luke Cage. People around the word recognize that image. Hip hop has now had enough of a story arc to be able to look back on certain photos and certain photographers and realize that this vast archive of imagery tells an important story.

Are you photo editing this, and how do you decide what is “iconic” being a writer, what is your narrative arc in both words and images?
Deciding which images and photographers are featured is part gut instinct and part earned knowledge. At 19, I moved from Detroit to New York and got a job working for a record label called Payday Records/Empire Management. At the time they represented Gangstarr,Jeru the Damaja, Masta Ace, Mos Def… we even had Jay Z for a minute. I worked as the director of publicity and marketing there and was the go between all those groups and the media which included accompanying the artists on photo shoots and making decisions on images. I toured with them, I traveled the world with them, and learned what it was like to see these images be put out into the world. So now deciding which narratives to highlight and which images are “iconic” is just a natural as looking back on the past few decades and knowing. That Joe Conzo anonymous Bboy photo is just as important as the Jonathan Mannion Jay-Z album cover shot.

Aside from the book, what are your goals for this project?
We also plan to show the series as an gallery/museum exhibition and have it travel the world to the various communities hip hop has influenced

Has it been difficult to find contributors?
Photographers love this series because they understand that their photos are part of a larger conversation about identity, black culture, race and all that hip hop has manifested. They love telling their stories and understand that it’s important to be part of the broader cultural conversation about hip hop and its influence on just about everything. We live in the digital age that is defined by image overload and the careful curation of artist persona. Showing these contact sheets, showing the mistakes, showing the experimentation and range of emotions is a much truer picture of the cultural conversation.

Who is next on your wish list for a story?
I’m interested in further exploring political or conscious hip hop and the way those artists used imagery. Glen E. Friedman’s cover image for Public Enemy’s ‘It Takes A Nation To Hold Us Back” is definitely high up on the wish list; So is Boogie Down Productions ‘By All Means Necessary’ cover which recreated the Malcolm X photo. Then there are the photographers that are definitely part of the conversation: Ernie Paniccioli, Danny Hastings, who shot the famous Wu-Tang cover, Nabil Elderkin who shot Kanye West’s first set of publicity photos, Cam Kirk, Brian Cross, Ricky Powell, Estevan Oriol etc… I also want to expand coverage of hip hop from regions other than New York — 2Live Crew, Too Short, N.W.A, Geto Boys. Oh and the Ice-T ‘Power’ cover with his then girlfriend Darlene.

The Daily Edit – Andy Goodwin: Exonerated

- - The Daily Edit

Andy Goodwin

Heidi: Why did “give back” and offer up pro bono work? Where did that idea stem from?
Andy: My parents mostly. My mom started a foundation that helped raise over a million dollars for a variety of causes, including children’s charities, the homeless and AIDS research. My dad was a blue collared electrician and social activist, who among other things marched with MLK in Selma, AL. On a personal note, I’ve recently begun attending church, which has been a shocker to anyone that knows me. It’s truly helped me to put things in perspective and shown me what’s important.

How did you decide who would get your time? 
I posted a note on Facebook saying that I had some free time in my schedule and wanted to help out with a good pro bono cause. I got a lot of great responses but Northwestern’s Center On Wrongful Convictions really resonated with me. Over the past 18 years, they’ve helped free dozens of innocent people serving someone else’s time. After reading some of the Exonorees stories, I couldn’t believe what they had gone through and knew that I wanted to help.

Was that your idea to add the chalkboard in the background?
Yeah, me and my small crew brought the backgrounds to all of the Exoneree’s homes and set them up in their kitchens or living rooms. Besides shooting environmental portraits, I also wanted something consistent for everyone. The original idea was to have a hash mark for every day that they had spent in prison but sadly there just wasn’t enough room on the boards to allow for that.

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How did the project shape you creatively?
Winning Best In Show at The Midwest Independent Film Festival was pretty amazing- and having a couple of the Exonerees with me that night was an incredible experience. It’s made me realize that I’ve been given a gift that I can use to give back with, like the new projects I’m shooting for Make A Wish and Chicago’s Homeless. Shooting for charities allows me to stretch myself creatively and has also introduced me to some incredible people.

We all agree photography is a powerful tool. That said, hearing people share their story with their own voice has incredible gravity. Tell us about the specific moment when you knew video was a must?
I’ve sort of come to video reluctantly but am warming up to it and gradually feeling more comfortable with it. Going into this I had so many questions that I wanted to ask and realized that only shooting portraits just wasn’t going to cut it.

Since this was your first video effort, what would you do differently next time?
Fortunately video is a far more collaborative effort than still photography, so having Patrick Duffy at Cutters Editing on board really saved my ass. Next time, I’ll have an actual video crew in addition to my stellar “still” team.

Do you have additional plans for this work and will it become an ongoing series.
Everyone involved, including the Exonerees wants to keep this project going, so we’re in the early stages of sussing that out. I’m also really excited to follow-up with video on the Charreada series that I recently photographed. It’s so steeped in tradition and pageantry, you feel like you are in another place and time.

The Daily Promo – James Acomb

- - The Daily Promo

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James Acomb

Who printed it?
American Printing in Birmingham Alabama. I worked with Matthew Conde there. He was extremely helpful with paper stock selection and press checks to get the look and feel that I was going for and the budget I wanted to bring it in at.

Who designed it?
Suzy Weber, I’ve known Suzy for a while now and she did my logo and branding so it was a natural choice for me. I really like her aesthetic and she has always been very honest when we’ve worked together which is huge. I like working with people who tell it like it is. It’s a good working relationship.

Who edited the images?
Suzy and I both did the image edit. When we started the project I told her the basic idea and feel I wanted for the piece. I sent her 30-40 hero images and she did a 1st pass with her faves. It was spot on except for the cover image. We went back and forth on the cover image a couple of times. Then I sent her an image that I had shot the week before and we both agreed that it was the cover.

How many did you make?
 This was a very targeted mailer and I only ran 750.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I do 2 printed pieces a year typically and I supplement that with a monthly email blast with new work. But I think printed pieces have so much more impact so I’m going to up it to 3 printed pieces this coming year.

How did this idea with text come about?
My original thought on the promo didn’t involve any text other than contact info. Suzy came up with the idea to give short captions that added a little backstory, or feeling to the images. I loved the idea but I’m not the best writer so I was a bit nervous about having to put something down on paper. After a lot of thought I just started writing some stories about the images that were in the piece or about the actual shoots and with a little editing from Suzy it turned into an element that I was very happy with and I think added some personality to the promo.

The Daily Edit: Chris Crisman – Women’s Work

- - The Daily Edit

Chris Crisman Presents: Women’s Work

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“Heather Marold Thomason is the Head Butcher at Kensington Quarters in Philadelphia. In just a few years, she shifted her career in web design and is now a force in the sustainable food movement.”

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Christina Burris, Brewer and Operations Manager, St. Benjamin’s Brewing, Philadelphia, PA.

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“Alison Goldblum is a talented and inspiring property developer in Philadelphia, PA.
She also happens to be a great friend to our family and a mentor to my wife”

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Nancy Poli, Pig Farmer, Stryker Farms, Saylorsburg, PA.

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Leeann Johnson, Haul Truck Driver, Round Mountain Gold Mine

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  Mindy Gabriel, firefighter, Upper Arlington, Ohio, for Women’s Work

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“Mira Nakashima, Designer and Woodworker, George Nakashima Woodworking, New Hope, PA.
Mira has been carrying on the traditions of woodworking set forth by her father, George Nakashima.”

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Sadie Samuels, Lobster Fisher, Rockport, ME.

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Sadie Samuels, Lobster Fisher, Rockport, ME.

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Beth Beverly, Taxidermist, Philadelphia, PA.
See more of her work at Diamond Tooth Taxidermy.

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Judy Bowman, Process Operator, Round Mountain Gold Mine, Round Mountain, NV.

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“Jordan Ainsworth, Mill Operator, Round Mountain Gold Mine, Round Mountain, NV.
She is a fourth generation miner and third generation of mining females in her family.”

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Carol Warn, Leach Pad Operator, Marigold Mining Company, Valmy, NV.

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“Kris Alvarez, Senior Geologist at the Round Mountain Gold Mine in Nevada,
mapping mine sidewalls in preparation for the next phase of development on the 55 mile site.”

What compelled you to create this body of work?
Back in February of this year I was having lunch in New York with some art producers from Droga 5. One of those art producers was Emily Heller. Emily mentioned that she had a friend who had recently relocated from Brooklyn to our home base of Philadelphia. This friend, Heather Marold Thomason, had recently switched careers and is now a butcher. My immediate reaction was how I’ve never met a female butcher. I asked Emily for an introduction and I was photographing Heather at her butcher shop just a few weeks later. Once we completed the shoot it immediately became something I wanted to further develop.

I am a father of two – a 4 year old boy and a 2 year old girl. I was raised to believe that I could do whatever I wanted to when I grew up. I want pass down a similar message to my children and without caveats. I want to raise my children knowing that their dreams have no limits and that they have parents supporting them to dive into anything they feel passionate about.

How did you find the women? 
This original shoot with Heather prompted a number of conversations and a snowball effect of similar shoots. We would do one shoot and then the subject would suggest another person.  Every opportunity being presented felt like one that I could not pass up. I reached out to a handful of my favorite industry contacts and the response was incredible. There are so many people that we would still love to include in the project, but we’ll get there.  I believe that Women’s Work is the type of project where the purpose does not have an expiration date. 

What were the determining factors?
Honestly, there was no exclusion to whom we considered. The strongest factors that led us to the people you see now were availability and excitement for participation. At the onset we did create a big list of professional positions that were not typically held by women, but after a few shoots and making contact with some friends, the participants just started flowing in on their own.

This is a fairly big roll out, did you have a planned strategy or was it more organic?
In mid-October we decided that the body of work was at a point that it was worth putting it out there. In light of last week’s election, I hope that this project can provide a hopeful message as we all move forward.

In a sentence, what’s your message?
Gender should not determine professional opportunities.

Post Production, Stills, Video: PXL House
DP, Must Be Nice: Ezra Migel
Producer, Must Be Nice: Robert Luessen

 

Here is some BTS of Chris and the making of these stunning portraits for Lynda.com

 

 

Promo Printer List

- - The Daily Promo

Promo Printer List

Here’s a resource list for your printing needs. We linked to the photographer’s site and listed the printer they used.

Aaron Sosa
Shenzhen Longyin Printing Packing Co. – China. Publishing House Igneo/Ediquid

Doug Human
Newspaperclub of the UK

Alison Conklin
Blurb

Alex Geana
Overnight 

Janelle Jones
Modern Postcard

Mark Peterman
Next Day Flyers

Sean Klingelhoefer
I had it printed through Ken at Continental Colorcraft in Monterey Park, CA but it ended up being outsourced to another print shop because they no longer had the HP Indigo printer I’ve grown to love when I have to do digital offset.

Julia Vandenoever
The Paper Chase Press

Jordan Lutes
Overnight Prints

Michael Rudin
Mag Cloud 

Angela Datre
Overnight Prints

Kenneth M. Ruggiano
I had the prints done by Bay Photo.

Emiliano Granado
Postcards: gotprint.com
20 pg zine: Awlitho.com

Steve Pomberg
The Paper Chase Press

JenniferRocholl
Southern California Graphics in Culver City

Heather Byington
Vista print made the post cards, envelopes were hand crafted by me.

Stan Evans
Modern Postcard

Steve Simko
FOXTONE PACKING in New York City.

 Ryan Geraghty
Moo

Kyle Johnson
This piece was printed by the incredible team at Blanchette Press in Vancouver B.C

Jordan Pay
Peczah in Salt Lake City Utah

Jason Evans
Agency Access

Rob Hammer 
Agency Access

Luke Copping
Agency Access

Cade Martin
Classic Color outside of Chicago

Carlos Serrao
AWLITHO. Anthony, the owner, has done the past four promos with me.

 Jeff Stephen
Minuteman Press

Andrew Dominguez
Minuteman Press located in Austin TX.

Lisa Shin
Agency Access printed, inserted, sealed and mailed the entire project with considerable customer service.

Kevin Brusie
Blurb

Dominic Perri
I used Nations Photo Lab

Nicholas Duers
Blurb

Trevor Traynor
Mag Cloud 

Justin Fantl
The calendar was printed in San Francisco by Spot Graphics

Daniel Dorsa
The cassette tapes were made by MilkTape, I printed the J Cards myself, and the business card was printed by Mama Sauce.

Elizabeth Cecil
Hemlock Printers

Michael Scott Slosar
Aosaimage.com

Sage Brown
smartpress.com

Edgar Artiga
I worked with Rikki Webber at Modern Postcard

Callie Lipkin Photography
Modern Postcard

Tara Donne
This booklet was printed by J.S. McCarthy Printers.

Ryan Young
I had this promo printed by a family-owned business in Anaheim called, Quality Graphic Services.

Fab Fernandez
The printing was done by a company in London called the Newspaper Club.

Nathan Seabrook
4 x 6

JD White
Moo

Fedelestudio.com
Donoson Printing for the video carrier and Bender Graphics for the booklet insert.

Andrew Kornylak
Universal Printing in Durham, NC

Tuan Lee
I printed with Jennifer O’Neill at Marina Graphics.

Tom Hussey
I printed the images in house on a really nice feeling Red River paper

Meredith Jenks
NOVA in Brooklyn

Kevin Arnold
It was printed by Hemlock Printers in Vancouver

Isamu Sawa Photography
Bambra Press

Alex Thompson 
I had the photos printed at Samy’s Camera

Sam Kaplan
Advanced Printing NYC

Bob Martus
Linco Printing in Queens, NY

James Worrell
Modern Postcard

Blair Gable
The books were printed by Photobook Canada – 40 copies. The postcards were printed by Vistaprint and the stickers were printed by Loudmouth Print House in Ottawa.

Kevin Zacher
Source Print Media in LA

Breungrega
It was printed by Pinguindruck here in Berlin

Tim Tadder
This was printed by my friends at Marathon Press in Nebraska.

Adam Cohen
I used a local printer, Minute Man Press

Ed Sozinho
Moo

Lori Eanes
Overnight Prints

Joshua Scott
The card was fromModern Postcard, and the screen wipes are from www.4allpromos.com.

Aaron Cobb
Somerset Graphics in Toronto

Brooklin Pictures
Modern Postcard

Cyndi Long Studios
Grogtag.com printed the coasters.

Cody James
QIS in Lower Manhattan.

Stephen Rose 
The zine was printed by Shapco in Minnesota

Elizabeth Weinberg
Smartpress in Chanhassen, MN. I have used them for several years.

Rebecca Cabage
The Paper Chase Press

Stephen Kent Johnson
It was printed by Mirror NYC

Justin Poulsen 
MSG Printing in Toronto

John Hafner
Blurb

Josh Ritchie
Dale Laboratories in Hollywood, FL.

Ryan Nicholson
Spangler Graphics in Kansas City

The Morrisons
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.

Keith Barraclough
A company out of Arlington, Texas called Liberty Playing Cards

The Daily Edit – The Red Bulletin: Justin Bastien

- - The Daily Edit

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The Red Bulletin

 

Creative Director: Erik Turek
Art Directors: Kasimir Reimann, Miles English
Photo Director: Fritz Schuster
Writer: Andreas Rottenschlager
Photo Editor: Rudi Ubelhor
Photographer: Justin Bastien

Heidi: How did this project stretch you as a photographer?
Justin: This project literally stretched me in half at times with the final shoot day being very intense. We had big waves coming from two directions, freezing cold water, 130 mph rotor wash from the helis ripping into the exposed skin on my face. I spent in total about 10 hours in my wetsuit freezing my ass off, about 3 hours were spent swimming big waves and bad current in a remote location. This whole article could easily be focused on that one day in the surf ops shoot and what it actually took to get the shot. Did I mention, I love this stuff!

Did you lose any of your motor skills due to the cold?
Of course, being in in cold water for that long everything stops working. You quickly see why people can’t last very long in the cold, open ocean. Even with our super warm Patagonia wetsuits, booties, gloves, mask and snorkel on, everything just become more difficult and exhausting. It’s especially hard to operate a water housing wearing thick gloves and numb hands. It’s funny,  your lips are the most exposed and by the time you come from the water and hit cold wind, you can’t talk at all (which my girlfriend would think is good thing at times). 

You live in balmy So Cal, did you do any cold weather training?
No, I didn’t do any cold-weather training for this job. I have surfed a lot Alaska and Southern Chile over the years for fun and really enjoy these kinds of conditions and the solitude it brings. I enjoy the remote and wild places other people generally don’t go; the cold is part of that. Also, climbing in the mountains teaches you how to suffer in the cold and to be honest I enjoy the challenge and kind of like suffering. It teaches you a lot.

Did you pitch this to The Red Bulletin? and how often do you work with them?
Yes, I pitched this concept to The Red Bulletin. My cousin is in the Coast Guard stationed in Kodiak, Alaska and I visit his family every year. We surf, camp, explore the island. My cousin gave me a tour of the Coast Guard base; after seeing the place, meeting his great crew and knowing how beautiful Kodiak island was, I knew this story had to be told. It was a passion project from the very beginning. The most difficult part was getting access, which took almost a year, and then getting the Coast Guard comfortable enough to let me get  into some wild outdoor conditions with them. They trusted me, were so cool to collaborate with and so much fun. I felt right at home with the crew. Of course they made sure to torture me a bit in the “sweat cage” during our helicopter evacuation training in the pool. The “sweat cage” simulates a helicopter that goes down in the water and flips upside down. You’re trapped in the helicopter (sweat cage) as it is sinking, and you have to maintain your reference point, release your seat belt, open the door and escape to the surface while you are upside down and can’t see. It’s a great thing to practice because in a real world situation it’s going to be a lot more scary and violent.

How many days were you out there and which was your favorite and why?
I pushed for the magazine to give me an extended period of time knowing weather and access we’re going to be key to the success. I wanted to get into  big surf with bad weather and terrible conditions showcasing what kind of environment these heroic lifesavers work in. The most difficult part was the long wait because we had beautiful, sunny weather the entire time; which is very rare for Kodiak. Then things changed. We had two storms collectiong to the south of us opposite directions, forming great cross chop, rogue waves and with tons of bad weather. There’s a fine line between bad weather that you can fly in and bad weather that grounds the aircraft. Luckily, we were able to fly last minute and get two MH-60s in the air along with a few rescue swimmers for High Surf Ops training. Let the fun begin!

Was anyone from the magazine with you, what type of direction did they give you?
Yes. The Red Bulletin sent Andreas Rottenschlager, a talented writer from Austria. He had worked on intense projects in the past. We both pushed really hard to get the access we needed, the interviews, coverage, he was so great to collaborate with. We also had a blast driving around in a rusty white construction van with a yellow siren I had rented for the job while listening to heavy-metal music. Andreas and the photo editor Rudi Ubelhor wanted me to keep things authentic and shoot everything from the perspective of the rescue swimmers or in some cases the survivor being rescued. They gave me so much support and creative freedom, telling me to just do my thing, keep it real and give the project some emotion. It’s so amazing to be supported like that and have creative freedom. It really pushes the work to a new level with that kind of support from the team at The Red Bulletin

Tell us about the spaces in between taking photographs.
Most of the space in between taking the photographs was spent trying to get the next photographs underway. I often think people have no idea how much hard work goes into just getting immersed in these phenomenal situations. It’s not easy convincing the Coast Guard to send two helicopters and a crew of 10 people into a storm to shoot photographs in high surf (good thing the Coast Guard trains so hard and loves their jobs so much).  The crew on the surf ops day had a total blast, most likely laughing at me “the photographer from LA,” doing donuts in the surf all afternoon. So, the space between was spent on working with the Coast Guard to get the next shot in place and then a little bit of sleep, eating bad food and drying out wet clothes and camera gear. That shoot just destroyed almost everything we had in terms of camera gear.

What are your thoughts on risk?
For the most part, I feel like the risks I take are pretty well calculated and reasonable. I spend a lot of time preparing for the more risky situations and often times they are in environments where I feel comfortable and have already spent a lot of time, most likely for personal activities or interests. I would say the things that worry me more than anything are the elements that are out of my control: the unpredictable behavior of wild animals and people, a catastrophic engine failure or environmental hazards like rock fall and avalanches. Those things, you can’t control and it could get bad quickly. Sometimes, there’s that space between hesitation and action, where you really need to keep your self in check and make a quick decision. In general, if I have any doubts about something being safe or not, I don’t do it. I also think that most bad things happen as a result of more than one bad decision, it’s generally a series of bad decisions that get you in trouble. I think safety is also very relative to your experience and comfort level in various situations. What seems risky to one person isn’t risky at all to another. The scariest thing I have done is gone shark diving without cages, but it was mainly because I was out of my comfort zone and not well educated in shark behavior. The shark scientist I was with thought it was a really mellow and fun day in the ocean playing with a few sharks. I was terrified! I am constantly humbled in my work every single day by the people I work with and the people I photograph. Everything is at such a high level so I am always trying to catch up with everyone; physically, mentally and creatively. It’s not exactly the easiest path, but it sure is fun!

What type of watermen skills do you have and why do you think the Red Bulletin picked you?
It’s funny, I don’t really consider myself to have “waterman skills”, I just like playing in the ocean and making cool photos. Real waterman are those big wave surfers that ride huge waves and free dive to unfathomable depths. To me the whole thing was fun,  none of us could believe we were working. There’s nothing like being out in the wild ocean, feeling all of that raw, natural power and getting tossed around with some like-minded individuals that enjoy the ride as much as you do.

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Any time survival is in a title surly that adds a thrill. I saw you were photographed with “Aviation Survival Technician’s”what was the hardest part of shooting rescue swimmers in high surf ops?
“Survival.” I don’t know how people survive normal life without doing cool stuff like this. All of the people I worked on thrips project really love their jobs and and work so well together as a team. Imagine going to work every day, training hard, flying over the beautiful Alaskan ocean and realizing you are doing all of it to save lives. That’s pretty meaningful for a day’s work. Most difficult part about this whole thing was almost not getting to do it. I would’ve been so disappointed if we didn’t get the big surf day and the bad weather that we really needed to tell the story well.

What advice do you have for anyone photographing high risk situations?
I would just say in a high-risk situation you want to be very competent in the environment you are operating in. It’s difficult enough to just be in certain environments like this or in the mountains,  you really want to feel comfortable, so being there is almost second nature. Adding the element of photography and all the equipment it requires, problem-solving on the fly creativity, makes for a big challenge but that’s what makes it so fun. I couldn’t image doing anything else but this path I am on and I feel so grateful for it everyday. To travel the world, meet interesting people, always learning, being humbled and challenged.

Here’s a behind the scenes video and some content showing what it was like out there for Justin.

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The Daily Promo – Danielle Tsi

- - The Daily Promo, Working

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Danielle Tsi

Who printed it?
Bay Photo

Who designed it?
I did

Who edited the images?
I did

How many did you make?
100

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Emails: once every 6-8 weeks. Mail promos: about 2-3 times a year.

Is there a backstory to this image?
This image recently placed first in this year’s APA awards in the Emerging category, so I saw to it that it got distributed as widely as possible online (with a blog post, social media announcements and an email promo), and a mail promo to a selected list of editors and art buyers that I would like to work with.

The image is part of an ongoing series, ‘Edible Beauty’, featuring DIY beauty products made with edible ingredients and was developed in collaboration with food stylist Zoe Armbruster. Having created food images for the past six years, I was looking for new, unique ways to visually present food and produce. Changing my frame of reference – food as beauty product vs food to eat – inspired a new perspective on the subject. Where I’ve often opted for shooting in natural light, I created all the images in this series with the ProFoto B2. Instead of a prop-filled set, we kept accessories to a minimum, allowing us to experiment with different formats of presenting the finished product. In retrospect, this series represents an intentional departure from my previous approaches to food photography, and it has invigorated my creative vision.

The Daily Edit – Gregg Segal: 7 Days of Garbage

- - The Daily Edit

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Gregg Segal and his family amongst their garbage.

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7 Days of Garbage

Photographer: Gregg Segal

Kickstarter Campaign:  Daily Bread

Heidi: What is your message with this series?
Gregg: The seed for 7 Days of Garbage is that I wanted to call attention to a problem (consumption, waste, excess, packaging) that most of us, including me, are/were oblivious to.
Even though there’s awareness about the problem, there’s a laziness to do anything about it.  You could say we’re all victims of comfort and convenience.

Where did your inspiration come from?
I figured if you’re laying in the garbage and packaging you generate in a week, you can’t ignore it. The pictures are meant to be a wake up call and to provoke action – or at least consciousness. In a way, the subject is both victim and perpetrator, which makes some audiences uncomfortable. We tend to expect issues to be black and white/good guys and bad guys, but in reality problems are more complex. Several years ago, People magazine assigned me to photograph Bea Johnson, who, with her family, produces virtually zero waste. One year’s worth of their garbage fit into a mason jar. Bea inspired me and was one of the seeds that led to my project.

Did you foresee Daily Bread as part of the 7 Days or Garbage? or was this more of an organic evolution?
Daily Bread sprang from 7 Days of Garbage; in the process of photographing people’s garbage, I began to look more deeply at food – what we’re eating and throwing away. Again, I’m calling attention to a cultural blindspot.

We know that eating processed foods loaded with salt, fat and sugar has serious consequences to our health – and that there’s truth in the old maxim, “you are what you eat” yet many of us have poor diets. We tend to put our faith in medicines that will make us better when we’re sick rather than going to the source of the problem. I chose to focus on kids because eating habits that form when we’re young last a lifetime. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Still, there are kids eating well both here and abroad and often indigenous cultures have healthier diets than we do here at home (simple whole foods & balanced meals prepared at home). My aim is to photograph children in other parts of the world surrounded by the foods they eat in a week – and I think the results will be inspiring and actionable; I plan to share recipes and menus with viewers, which will accompany the portraits in a book that is part social commentary, part public health initiative and part international cookbook.


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Is your travel funded by kickstarter alone?
The budget I created will allow me to shoot in two regions and cover the costs of travel, crew, and equipment – and all the food I’ll be photographing. The goal is to produce the first leg of the project thru kickstarter and have enough material to present to potential publishers.

How will you pick the children you are going to photograph; how will you find them?
I’m collaborating with Dr. Maya Adam, a Stanford professor whose on-line course, Child Nutrition and Cooking has drawn a quarter million students from around the world. We’ve reached out to her students (in 80 countries) inviting them to participate and have gotten a lot of interest! So, the next step is to cull and figure out which two regions to begin with.

What did this project teach you about yourself as a photographer? how about as a father/family man?
Shooting these projects has shown me that it’s possible to achieve social change through art without being pedantic! I think it’s key for the work to have a service component, which is why, with Daily Bread for instance, I plan to highlight diets that are balanced and healthy. I’m planning to photograph in parts of the world where you find longevity and unusually low rates of diabetes, heart disease, and many kinds of cancer.  With 7 Days of Garbage, I wanted it to be clear that we’re all in this together – and all of us are culpable on some level. I felt it was important for my son (7 at the time) to see that we’re part of the problem, so we lay down in our garbage, too. A few weeks later, Hank said, “soon the world will be covered with plastic bottles. They’ll have to make giant towers to keep all the plastic bottles in. Probably a tower to the moon. 1,000 years ago, there were no plastic bottles. There wasn’t even one plastic thing on Earth. Too bad, there sure are now!” My son’s comments showed me how he (and children in general) process their experiences; though at first they may not seem to get it, the seed is planted and germinating and when you don’t expect it, a light bulb is illuminated – which is why it is key to model well!

What are 3 simple things we can do to change our habits?

As a consumer (waste)

1) Compost – rather than toss food waste in the garbage, you can compost and add nutrient to your soil.
2) Buy products with as little packaging as possible. Even small changes make a difference. Instead of buying the package of pomegranate seeds, for instance, just buy the whole fruit. More work, but less to recycle. Recycling comes with an energy cost that you can help reduce.
3) Re-use whenever possible (try not to do use something once and then toss it – like a plastic cup for a drink of water). Better to bring your own water bottle with you.

As a consumer (food)

1) Eat something green every day (ideally you want a variety of colors on your plate).
2) Don’t eat anything that has a commercial – this may sound extreme, but if you think about it, foods that are nutritious aren’t made by a corporation. It’s the processed and packaged foods, loaded with additives – and salt, fat and sugar – that you want to avoid.
3) Prepare one meal a week with your kids. Find a recipe for a dish they like and prepare it together. Hopefully, they’ll take an interest, begin to develop their palate and next thing you know, you may have a burgeoning chef!

Have you made any of these changes to your shoots that call for catering? Those are notoriously wasteful.
Yes, they are – especially those cases of bottled water. The last couple shoots I’ve done with larger crews I’ve brought gallon jugs of water and asked crew to bring their re-usable containers – still have plastic bottles – but less of them.
I often end up being the producer on my shoots and if I cater, I ask for paper plates (biodegradable) rather than the dreaded plastic – or worse, styrofoam, which takes like a million years to decompose!

When you were shooting the garbage, did they clean out the containers? 
Yes, some people washed their garbage before showing up to be photographed.
One guy even washed his eggshells! Some cut corners and didn’t show up with the really stinky stuff.
Others included everything. I had an assistant who very nearly passed out when catching a whiff of liquid leftovers that appeared at first glance t0 be milkshake but which smelled like rotting chicken! One family called to cancel mid week; they had been saving their Chinese leftovers and the husband couldn’t stand the smell any longer. I suggested they just put their trash in the garbage and bring on shoot day, but they had already lost their initial enthusiasm for the shoot.

What were some of the most striking comments from the subjects?
In general, most were taken back by how much packaging was in their weekly trash. Some (subjects and viewers) were curious why I asked them to include recyclables since they weren’t being thrown away. I explained that I was
1) calling attention to how much excess packaging we unwittingly
consume
2) recycling has a cost; trucking it to a plant, melting it down, reconfiguring it, trucking it somewhere else in its new incarnation
3) Many of the things we think of as recyclable, really aren’t. For instance, most people assume pizza boxes are recyclable and, in and of themselves, they are, but when they’re soiled with grease and cheese, the paper is contaminated and can’t be effectively recycled (paper fibers won’t separate from oils during the pulping process).

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The Daily Promo: Aaron Sosa

- - The Daily Promo

 

 

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DESDE EL AUTOEXILIO Photography by Aaron Sosa Panama City - Panama 2010

DESDE EL AUTOEXILIO Photography by Aaron Sosa Panama City - Panama 2012

DESDE EL AUTOEXILIO Photography by Aaron Sosa Panama City - Panama 2011

DESDE EL AUTOEXILIO.Photography by Aaron Sosa. Panama City - Panama 2010

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Aaron Sosa

Who printed it?
Shenzhen Longyin Printing Packing Co. – China. Publishing House Igneo/Ediquid

Who designed it?
Gisela Viloria, a great Venezuelan designer of photo books.

Who edited the images?
Two great photographers Ramon Grandal, Ricardo Jimenez and me.

How many did you make?
500 copies

How many times a year do you send out promos?
First time I sent a promotion to aphotoeditor.com, I appreciate the opportunity

How did this promo come about?
I’ll share with you the text, presentation of IN-XILIOS:Everybody knows that to emigrate it’s not an easy process, a lot of things has been said about it. The exterior landscape changes but it also changes the inner landscape. How a photographer looks at both landscapes? How to commune within himself the exterior and the interior? What remains in his gaze and transfers from the old home to the new one? These are the questions I tried to answer through 76 images (76 keys) at In-Xilios: a visual essay my experience as an emigrant Venezuelan photographer who is watching and discovering Panama, my current living place and, at the same time, rediscovering myself because, at the end, travels are exactly for that. There is no objectivity in this book, every image is a frame of mind and there’s a long time that photography stopped pretending to be objective. Each one of these images is a notation about a process -the travel, the migration- that is a initiation ritual: we set out from a state of mind to transform ourselves and return being another. On the road, all the Circes and Laestrygonians, all the landscapes, all the times we dream about Ithaca. Aaron Sosa/Kelly Martínez,  Publishing House Igneo/Ediquid

What has the response been from the book?
The book has been very well received. It is selling the USA, Venezuela and Panama. also available on eBay and on my web site. In addition, the book is already part of many libraries of schools of photography in several countries.

What type of assignments were you hoping to get through this promo or was it more self expression with no real commercial target?
It was a rather free expression. Authorial photograph has an exclusive audience. It is not “pretty” but rather photos of photos with a great deal of subjectivity.

The Daily Edit – Wired: Benedict Redgrove

- - The Daily Edit


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WIRED

Creative Director: Andrew Diprose
Director of Photography: Steve Peck
Deputy Director of Photography: Dalia Nassimi
Photographer: Benedict Redgrove

 

These never-before-seen photographs are part of an eight-year project that took photographer Benedict Redgrove deep inside three NASA facilities across the US. He uses Alpa MAX and 12 STC cameras, stitching together multiple images to create photographs with an epic quality. “I shoot about 40 images,” he explains, “then layer them to achieve the highest definition.” Redgrove’s project won’t be complete until 2018, but WIRED offered its readers an exclusive glimpse into his epic space journey in its 11.16 issue.

Was this photo essay presented to you by Benedict Redgrove with a six-year timeline in mind?
Benedict came to us when he was three years into the project – it was just a labor of love at that point. He got in touch with us in order to gain deeper access at NASA. He thought a bit of WIRED name-dropping might help, and it did – eventually. It took three years of negotiations, and about 400 emails, to get to this point.

What type of clearance was needed for such unprecedented access?
NASA is a bit like an onion – you peel off layer after layer. We encountered a lot of “We cannot help, you need to talk to so-and-so department” along the way. But the more Benedict shot, the more the various departments in NASA understood what we were trying to do, and the more doors opened to him. It was very much a case of finding the right person to talk to at each stage.

Where were the images taken?
Benedict gained access to the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, Johnson in Houston and the Smithsonian in Virginia. Next up are the Lunar Lab and training facilities.

Six years is a quite a long time horizon. Was this difficult for the magazine to commit to?
Is it difficult to commit to an elaborate documentation of NASA technology by Benedict Redgrove? Absolutely not – we did not bat an eyelid. It didn’t matter how long it was going to take. We knew the results would be a groundbreaking body of work.

How long will this be a running theme within the magazine?
It’s running across 16 pages (on special paper) in our current issue, November 2016, and of course on wired.co.uk. We also have a photography exhibition planned at our annual WIRED conference in London on November 3-4, which will also have a Q&A with Benedict himself.

Future plans?
Benedict will conclude his work with the launch of SLS and Orion in 2018. After that, there are talks of a book and an expansive exhibition with virtually life-size prints!

NASA is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government, how did this end up in WIRED UK, and how much was published in the US version?
Interest in NASA is not restricted to the US – it has universal appeal. Benedict put it very nicely himself: “To me, there is no other organisation in the world that is more progressive, more exciting or stands more for the betterment of mankind and peace than Nasa. In my opinion, it’s the greatest institution in the world. It involves, science, art, design, engineering, manufacturing, passion, belief, education, information, creation and technology. It’s always moving forward, always seeking answers and finding them, then asking more questions. They educate us, inform us not only about the Universe but also about our planet, and pass down technologies into our everyday lives.”

This collaboration was solely with WIRED UK, but other international editions of WIRED are keen on running the story too. Watch this space.

 

The Daily Promo – Doug Human

- - The Daily Promo

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Doug Human


Who printed it?

Newspaperclub of the UK.  They are a news bureau and they print traditional and digital on news print stock.  They have begun to introduce a cleaner/brighter stock to offer a snappier color and sharpness.  Still having the properties of newsprint.  I loved the alternative approach and giving modern images a throwback to something nostalgic or reminiscent of a slowly dying print industry (newspapers).

Who designed it?
Art Director and Designer Marek Hosek of Boulder CO.  He was an Chicagoan and moved out west a year or so ago.  A friend and colleague.  I went to him for guidance and an approach I would not think of.  Amazing talent and offered this format when I suggested I wanted to explore Newsprint.  He is a fantastic idea guy and I knew his collaboration would allow alternative process as well as unconventional ideas.

Who edited the images?
The editing (like my site) was done primarily by me and Marek.  I made a collection of product ideas and concepts to Marek and he suggested this layout and image selection.

How many did you make?
I went for the traditional “digital tabloid” @ 52gsm.  200 pcs @ 4 pages.  I’m in the process of creating another sample like it with different and new work.  Piece included a embossing stamp that we created to stamp at leisure on the piece, on envelopes and biz cards.  Also a rubber stamp of Doug Human Photo to add yet another stamp/design treatment.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This piece is first run of small series of promos.  I had it printed and by the time I had all of my design and mailing snafus taken care of, I didn’t begin sending until early this summer.  (Had an envelope printed and created; USPS suggested this as a no go in terms of mailing success because of placement of addresses and return).  Transitioned into a black envelope.  About every quarter or so and keeping enough on hand for leave behinds of which this has had more success.

The Daily Edit – Fortune: Michael Clinard

- - The Daily Edit

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Creative Director: Paul Martinez
Director of Photography: Mia Diehl
Photo Editors: Armin Harris, Michele Taylor
Art Directors: Mike Solita, Peter Herbert, Josue Evilla, Christine Bower-Wright
Retouching and Post-Production: Zach Vitale
Photographer: Michael Clinard

Heidi: How did this come about?
Michael: I met the assigning photo editor, Armin Harris, six years ago at a portfolio event in Manhattan. It took that long to get an email back in May from him asking as to my interest in shooting a feature for their annual 500 issue on Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie and the cloud services division he oversees.

Did you pitch the 500 cover idea or did you have the assignment and the magazine wanted to see what you could come up with?
Neither. Having already shot the portrait component a week earlier at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, I wasn’t really thinking a server room could be jazzed up all that much because it’s kind of ”blah” subject matter. I’m typically sketching before shoots, but I didn’t know the server facility was being considered for the cover until Armin gave me an “extra credit” assignment the evening before leaving for Quincy, Washington.

Because the magazine publishes what they call under covers — takeoffs on a Fortune 500 cover highlighting other companies featured in the list — he asked I look for details that I could later recontextualize in post. To this end, I thought the best I’d do is some retro-futuristic version of the numeral in glowing, server lights or big, puffy clouds to play on the cloud storage idea.

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Did you have to get any special clearance to get inside this room to shoot?
Absolutely, NDAs and special concessions were being shared in the week leading up to the Quincy shoot. Additionally, I was asked to drastically reduce the amount of gear and flash units I’d typically bring in, so I got my kit down to a few heads, some niche grip items and Hasselblad’s tilt shift adapter because there were specific elements (clouds, cords, blinking lights) that I wanted to utilize to help tell this story.

Did they disable the servers?
Ha ha! No, I wish we’d been given the time to create the image fully in-camera, but I only had a couple hours to shoot multiple locations. I should note that I was given a folder of scouting pics to study before the shoot, so the only big allowance was that I was given a ten minute window to shoot in complete darkness to create the long-exposure image that opened the article.
This blue and green image was created in-camera?
Yes, it’s a 16 second exposure balanced with off-camera strobe. It is the style and direction I’d intended to take the cover since laying the number 500 in the shadows of the composition seemed doable. It was imperative I left the facility with enough image assets to create the final cover magic conjured in my sketches.

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Was there a discussion about which typeface the number 500 would take?
Yes, font and typeface was very important. At one point, we entertained a big loopy five, but Armin shared a number of Fortune 500 covers throughout the years to help the entire team hone in on the best direction. In the end, we enjoyed the idea that the viewer might need do a double take to notice anything out of the ordinary, so our representation method mimicked the orderly presentation of wires and cables already evident on the server arrays.

How long did it take to create the final cover composite once the direction was chosen?
With retouching by Zach Vitale and under the esteemed direction of Mr. Harris, we delivered the final composite in a few days. A tremendous honor and privilege to execute, the image ran as both the international cover and national TOC page back in mid-June.

The Daily Promo: Alison Conklin

- - The Daily Promo

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Who printed it?  
Blurb printed the promo piece. What is nice about this is that you can order as many or as little copies as you need and then of course reorder without any sort of minimum requirement.

Who designed it?
The talented group over at Curious & Company – I had a great time working with them.

Who edited the images?  
I edit all of my own images as far as color and touch-ups. For this promo I gave the designers a collection of my favorite images with notes on which ones I really wanted to be highlighted in the book and they curated what went on the pages.

How many did you make?
I made 100. I have mailed about half and the rest I hand out to perspective clients in person when we have our initial meeting.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This year I have sent out two. The first promo I made in 2016 was an editorial one focusing on my food and portrait photography and then I decided to make this one which featured my wedding photography work.

I loved the concept of using popular song names with the photos. I thought it was sort of a whimsical combination and perfect for the collection of work I was featuring. Another piece of this promo that I love is the mailing label. I wanted it to stand out right away if you were sorting through your mail and I think it achieves that. I used one of the images that Palm Press turned into a greeting card in their 2016 Wedding line for my personal note; I thought it was a fun fit.

The Daily Edit – National Geographic Magazine: Ami Vitale

- - The Daily Edit

Please read the entire story here.

Photograph by Ami Vitale Ye Ye, a 16-year-old giant panda, lounges in a wild enclosure at a conservation center in Wolong Nature Reserve. Her name, whose characters represent Japan and China, celebrates the friendship between the two nations. Ye Ye’s cub Hua Yan (Pretty Girl) is being trained for release into the wild.

Ye Ye, a 16-year-old giant panda, lounges in a wild enclosure at a conservation center in Wolong Nature Reserve. Her name, whose characters represent Japan and China, celebrates the friendship between the two nations. Ye Ye’s cub Hua Yan (Pretty Girl) is being trained for release into the wild. © Ami Vitale / National Geographic

Photograph by Ami Vitale Zhang Hemin—“Papa Panda” to his staff—poses with cubs born in 2015 at Bifengxia Panda Base. “Some local people say giant pandas have magic powers,” says Zhang, who directs many of China’s panda conservation efforts. “To me, they simply represent beauty and peace.

Zhang Hemin—“Papa Panda” to his staff—poses with cubs born in 2015 at Bifengxia Panda Base. “Some local people say giant pandas have magic powers,” says Zhang, who directs many of China’s panda conservation efforts. “To me, they simply represent beauty and peace.” © Ami Vitale / National Geographic

Photography by Ami Vitale Is a panda cub fooled by a panda suit? That’s the hope at Wolong’s Hetaoping center, where captive-bred bears training for life in the wild are kept relatively sheltered from human contact, even during a rare hands-on checkup.

Is a panda cub fooled by a panda suit? That’s the hope at Wolong’s Hetaoping center, where captive-bred bears training for life in the wild are kept relatively sheltered from human contact, even during a rare hands-on checkup. © Ami Vitale / National Geographic

Photograph by Ami Vitale Wolong Reserve keepers transport Hua Jiao (Delicate Beauty) for a health check before she nishes “wild training.” The habitat also protects red pandas, pheasant, tufted deer, and other species that bene t from giant panda conservation.

Wolong Reserve keepers transport Hua Jiao (Delicate Beauty) for a health check before she nishes “wild training.” The habitat also protects red pandas, pheasant, tufted deer, and other species that bene t from giant panda conservation. © Ami Vitale / National Geographic

Photograph by Ami Vitale In a large forested enclosure of the Wolong Reserve, panda keepers Ma Li and Liu Xiaoqiang listen for radio signals from a collared panda training to be released to the wild. Tracking can tell them how the cub is faring in the rougher terrain up the mountain.

In a large forested enclosure of the Wolong Reserve, panda keepers Ma Li and Liu Xiaoqiang listen for radio signals from a collared panda training to be released to the wild. Tracking can tell them how the cub is faring in the rougher terrain up the mountain. © Ami Vitale / National Geographic

 

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National Geographic Magazine

Director of Photography: Sarah Leen
Creative Director: 
Emmett Smith
Print Designer: 
Hannah Tak
Photo Editor: 
Sadie Quarrier 
Photographer: Ami Vitale

Heidi: How did you find yourself shooting people in panda suits raising captive babies at the Wolong center of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda?
Ami: I was part of a film team that came in 2013 for PBS/NatGeo production. Realized what an extraordinary story this was and pitched it to National Geographic Magazine once I got access to it.

Were there any unique challenges and how did you overcome them?
Many challenges. First, I had to pitch a story and convince editors that I could make it unique and different from what was already done. They had published a story on pandas about 7 or 8 years earlier so my job was figuring out what would be special about this story. Also, these are tiny, fragile creatures and the keepers were quite stressed about their health and safety. I had to work around these concerns and was not allowed to use flash so there were technical issues that needed to be solved including flickering fluorescent lights. It means you have to shoot at 30th of a second to avoid having lines going through every image. Pandas make quick rapid movements so coming away with a sharp and compelling image was harder than it might seem. Plus they are solitary creatures who like to hide in the thick bamboo or high up in the treetops when they are young.

I understood from reading the story that bears being trained to live in the semi wild must not get used seeing humans. Did you wear a panda suit too?
Yes! of course. the best part!

What did it smell like, the suit? 
They scent the panda suits with urine but wasn’t too bad because pandas are mostly vegetarian. They smelled more like wet puppies or bamboo.

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You’ve had a wide range of experiences, how did this one strike or move you as a photographer?
I was constantly thinking how incredibly privileged it was to be there!! Still can’t believe it and miss them every day!

In your motion work on this piece, Papa Panda describes falling in love with the baby panda’s as if they were your own children, did you share that same sentiment of falling in love?
How can you not fall in love with them. I died of cuteness overload many times over.

How long were you there?
5 visits over the course of 3 years.

Did you have to get any special shots to spend time with the pandas?
No special shots but we were careful, especially around baby pandas. We wore masks, disinfected hands and shoes every time entering new space.

The Daily Edit – Grayson Schaffer

- - The Daily Edit

 

 

Grayson Schaffer:  Partner Talweg Creative/ Outside Magazine Editor at Large / Photographer

Heidi: Tell us about your transition from photography to cinematography and what are your thoughts overall about that for photographers?
Grayson: We’re at a point in time where a lot of still photographers are becoming directors. Sometimes that just means buying a Red camera and hanging up a shingle. Sometimes still photographers have clients who are asking for motion as part of a project. From an image-making perspective, motion isn’t that difficult. There are some frame rate and shutter angle considerations that you don’t have to deal with in still photography, but at the end of the day, a frame is still a frame. The hard part is having something to say. And for that, more photographers need to be leaning heavily on their writer friends to figure out what the film is going to be about before you get out there. We see it again and again where competent still photographers—many of whom have sizable Instagram followings and interpret that as a sign from the universe that whatever they do is great—just end up with a series of pretty but disjointed images. We all make crappy movies or write crappy stories from time to time, but you can minimize that if you lean on your talented friends and assume they’re smarter than you.

What made you take to the leap from producing editorial content to producing advertorial or native advertising? 
My personal goal is just to find and report on interesting people. At Outside magazine, that mostly involves finding great characters who are at an inflection point in their lives or careers. It wasn’t until raw cinema camera technology reached the point where we felt like we could get our ideas out onto the screen that we decided we had something to say. At the same time, brands have realized how important stories are. So in a lot of ways the ad world came to us rather than the reverse.

One would think you’d have less control, is that true?
One of the mistakes I see filmmakers make again and again is in sending their work out for criticism and then completely ignoring that criticism either because they’re tired from getting all the way to a rough cut or because they can’t put themselves in their viewer’s shoes to see that the work is missing basic clarity or is overly self-indulgent or precious. Working at a magazine doesn’t give you more control, it just means you get your ass kicked by editors instead of a client. Either way you can’t ignore the feedback. After a few years of it, you realize that they’re trying to fix actual problems and not just make your life miserable. Once you get to the point where your default position is to believe the criticism rather than immediately defend against it, then you’re actually in a place to push back. But, yeah, sometimes commercial clients will sacrifice the story in order to obey the data, stay on message, or avoid getting too real. It’s one reason that the word documentary should be reserved for actual documentaries. That’s gotta stay sacred. Films by brand ambassadors about other brand ambassadors can be amazing to watch. Some of them can even be true and accurate. But I still haven’t come across a brand that has editorial guidelines, fact checkers, or a public editor.

How long has your Talweg been in business and how much have you grown since inception? 
About a year and a half ago, Ryan Heffernan and I had the opportunity to move from production work into being a full-service ad agency. We’ve got a Jedi media planner who’s a real millennial whisperer and a couple of account managers who are super sharp. That core team has allowed us to service clients like New Mexico Tourism and other state agencies. We’ve also been doing work for Yeti coolers and a number of other clients in and out of the outdoor space.

Yeti  has been very successful in getting so much coverage for their brand, what do you attribute this to?
The word storytelling has been getting thrown around a lot lately. There was that great rant by an Austrian designer recently about how that term gets misused.

If you’ve been watching social media, you’d think storytelling was anything where somebody reads poetry in an affected voice while slow motion pictures roll by. But Yeti actually gets it. They find filmmakers they believe in. We all work together to pick characters we believe in, regardless of whether they have any affiliation to Yeti or not. And then we all roll the dice. The very first film in the series was one we did in the Grand Canyon last May called In Current

Our plan was to bring models down the Canyon and have them be “trainees” who were learning the ropes. But about five hours into day one of the trip, we realized that there were actual baggage boatmen who’d been cutting their teeth for years trying to get a shot at rowing a dory. We immediately pivoted to focus on this amazing woman Amber Shannon and were lucky enough to have a client—Yeti’s marketing director was with us on the trip—who didn’t hesitate to go with what was real over what was storyboarded. That project laid the groundwork for the Yeti Presents series, which has been a huge success.

What sort of notes can other companies take from Yeti’s playbook in your eyes?
Some agency types have since told us that the branding is way too subtle in these films for their clients’ tastes. Others have told us they’re perfect. We believe that the most important thing is making a film that people want to watch, not one that requires a huge media spend to get eyeballs on it. If I had to chalk up Yeti’s success with these films to one thing it’s that they’re willing to fail. They assign dozens of these 5-7 minute shorts. They don’t all work out. But the ones that do more than make up for the ones that fall short.

The most important thing for a client who wants to get into storytelling (actual storytelling) is to relax their guardrails and trust the process. This is what doc directors, reporters, and editorial photographers have always done. It doesn’t always work out like you planned it but it always works out somehow. In our REI short film Fast Forward, ultra-distance cyclist Lael Wilcox, who was trying to break the record for the Arizona Trail, came down with a respiratory problem only 36 hours into her ride. The record attempt was a disaster, but you ended up believing in her as a character. And that was more important than success.

How do you manage working at a magazine and then working for advertisers at the same time?
I’ve been an editor at large for Outside since April. So I’m not on staff at Outside anymore. Finding time to write and shoot and make movies comes down to working with a great team at Talweg, great editors at Outside, and only swinging at fastballs over the plate.