Posts by: Heidi Volpe

Danny Duarte: Art Center College of Design

- - The Daily Edit

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Danny Duarte

I had the pleasure of being at the 5th term and 7th term reviews at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. It’s always a treat when you can see people’s work progress. Danny Duarte was one of those standouts. I was so impressed with his commitment to craft. What initially caught my eye was his personal project called Reseda. Reseda isn’t an impressive area here in So Cal, there’s nothing remarkable about the neighborhood, which is exactly what Danny honed in on: the beauty in the ordinary. When I first saw his work I was so impressed and had a lot of fun discussing pairings and how powerful that can be. It was so cool to see how he juxtaposed his work, how he carefully looked at pacing, everything was deliberate.  I asked him where he shot most of the work ( since it covered some much of that area ) did he walk around? I should have known better, he took the bus. There again, surrendering to the mundane. Here’s what he had to say about his Reseda project.

Danny: I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley and have lived in Reseda for twenty-plus years. As I got older, I realized that the Valley was looked down upon by those on the outside. I also learned as soon as I started attending Art Center that nobody had ever heard of Reseda. I had always shot images of my neighborhood, but those two reasons are what made me think about creating a series about where I live and grew up. It wasn’t until my Editorial Photography class with Lisa Thackaberry that I began to really focus on it. She really helped me understand different ways to approach this project as she was one of the few that was familiar with this area. Reseda is quiet, amorphous, misunderstood, lonely, and remote even though it is in the city of Los Angeles. I am photographing my neighborhood because it is a part of who I am and i want people to know it exists. I want to show that although it may seem boring and empty, the boring can be interesting.

Along with doing this cool ongoing project he did this zine about gun violence. He created the images, collaborated with an illustrator (Arpawan Ratanamangcla) did the research for the lyrics, designed some type and of course confronts us with an ongoing crisis.

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What drove you to create this book?  Why did you choose this illustrator?
This was a final project for my “Race and Racism” class. I collaborated with a fellow classmate, who is an illustration major, to create a zine about gun violence and police brutality. We had been paired up in a group all term, but when the opportunity came up we decided that by working together we could make a really compelling project for our final. The idea to create a project based on this subject started last year so I used this opportunity to pursue it.
It feels so confrontational, which is different from most of your work.
When it comes to still life photography I approach it differently than how I shoot my street photography. It is another way of expressing myself.  With still life I’m in control of everything in the frame. I can create a narrative based on things I enjoy researching such as science, politics, sports, and technology.
Where did you get gun?
It’s funny. I always get asked where I got the gun from. My dad is a California State Park Ranger so I was able to borrow it from him.
Was it awkward to shoot the gun straight on?
Photographing a gun was no problem but to photograph it pointing at the camera was a bit chilling. It didn’t hit me until I looked through the view finder. I suddenly felt this heart-stopping sensation go through my body. I have never really had a fear of guns but being on the other side of one is an entirely different and frightening experience.
What were the notes that the lyrics had to hit for you to include them in the book?
The lyrics included in the zine are very important. They are the foundation for this project. I’m a huge fan of hip hop music and KRS-One is a huge influence when it comes to this project. What started it all was his song “Sound of da Police”.
The first time I heard it I must have been in the 8th grade and back then I remember thinking how strong the lyrics were. Sometime last year it came on while I was driving home so I listened to it over and over again. I must have listened to it non stop for a week straight, letting it sink in. Every time the song came on my mind created different ideas and visuals. There were also lyrics from Gang Starr’s “Tonz ‘O’ Gunz” that influenced me as it focuses more on gun violence.
What are your hopes for this body of work?
My hope for this project is to create a discussion and figure out solutions about the issues that are going on right now that deal with police brutality and gun violence. No matter which side you are I’m sure that we can all agree that it’s getting out of hand. I believe that photographs can create impact and cause change.
 How did your time at  Art Center help you develop this project? or Who/what were your biggest influences?
My time at Art Center has given me the tools to create this project. Every instructor I have had has made me look at art, photography, and life differently even if I don’t always agree with them.  Two instructors that have hugely influenced my still life photography are Paul Ottengheime and Everard Williams.  I have spent hours talking to them outside of class and the discussions I have had with them have greatly helped me throughout my time there as they have a lot of experiences to share. I also believe that having an open mind definitely helps develop new concepts and allows me to be more creative.

The Daily Promo: Angela Datre

- - The Daily Promo

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Angela Datre


Who printed it?
I used Overnight Prints.

Who designed it?
I designed it.

Who edited the images?
I edited as well. I picked two of my favorite images from this shoot.

How many did you make?
I printed 50 and targeted publications that feature cooking, food culture and/or portraits. I’ve been shooting more food-related work this past year so I wanted to send out a promo that would highlight that.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I usually will create a promo when I have new work that I want to share. Ideally I would like to do one booklet per year with postcards here and there as well.

What project did theses image come from?
These images were from a story I shot on two women butchers at The Meat Hook in Brooklyn for the Village Voice. I always enjoy photographing people in their studios or work spaces so this shoot was a lot of fun. I’m happy when photography assignments bring me somewhere I normally wouldn’t be (like in the freezer at a butcher shop).

The Daily Edit – Fortune: Ackerman + Gruber

- - The Daily Edit




Paul Martinez: Creative Director
Mia Diehl: Director of Photography
Michele Taylor: Photo Editor
Christine Bower-Wright: Art Director/Designer
Photographers: Ackerman + Gruber

Heidi: Since you live in the SPAM heartland, how often do you enjoy it?
AG: Living in Minnesota, you would have thought we have had SPAM before. However, it wasn’t until last year when we were on a shoot in Hawaii that we finally did.

How much time did you get for the shoot?
We spent a day in Austin, MN at both the Hormel campus and at the SPAM Museum.

Since you had direct access to the factory, did you have to wear protective clothing.
Unfortunately that factory shot wasn’t actually from the SPAM factory it was from a Skippy Peanut Butter factory in Arkansas and it actually wasn’t our photo. The SPAM plant wasn’t running when we were there as it was the time of the year where they shutdown the plant and do a deep cleaning of everything. Photographing in the SPAM plant would have been the only thing that would’ve made this shoot even more amazing. Nobody wants to know how the sausage is made unless it’s SPAM and then we are all game.

What were the magazines directives?
Michele Taylor, the photo editor at Fortune, basically said keep it colorful and quirky. This is always music to our ears. She wanted a combination of reportage, still-lifes and portraits of the CEO and president. It was the perfect combination of direction and freedom to explore. When you’re in the land of SPAM it isn’t difficult to find images that jump out to you.

The shoot actually came together very quickly as the CEO and President were traveling for the next month so we got the first email from Michele on Wednesday afternoon and were shooting the assignment that Friday.

Often in cases like this we find the PR person is the biggest hurdle we have to overcome. So we find that keeping an idea or two in our back pocket is best and then after we feel out our subjects we can tell them the idea directly and get them on board, which in turn gets the PR person to run with it.

It’s such an iconic brand with a cult following what was your initial approach?
We see SPAM as this kind of quirky larger than life brand so we wanted the photos to play off that idea and decided the images should be “poppy” to reflect that so we decided to use a direct strobe for the shoot. Not to mention we love the approach for shoots whenever it’s a good fit so that also made it a no-brainer.

SPAM for Fortune

SPAM for Fortune

SPAM for Fortune

Are you both shooting all the time?
It depends on the shoot. For a shoot like this we are both switching fluidly between roles as a photographer/lighting tech/subject wrangler, etc.. In the situation for the CEO portraits, Tim is setting up and dialing in the lights, while Jenn is working with the PR team to calm any fears they might have and assuring them everything will go smoothly. Once the CEO arrives Jenn might start off shooting, while Tim is fine-tuning the lights, monitoring the tethered iPad for any major issues and thinking of about the next scenario. Often times we’ll hand off the camera in the middle of a portrait session to get a different perspective and to keep things fresh for our subjects. For more of the reportage and still-life photos, one person is acting as the assistant and holding the light, while the other person is shooting. The person who is holding the light is also always scanning the scene looking for any other visual potential in the situation. Tim loves shooting quirky Americana things like this so he shot the majority of the day.

Someone recently described watching the two of us work as one of the most fluid dances of creativity they have ever seen. It sounds cool so we won’t argue with them! We’ve been shooting together for so long now that we find we don’t even communicate verbally anymore and we already know what the other person is thinking and can be on the same page effortlessly.

What are each other’s strengths or how do you complement each other.
We find it’s an amazing luxury to be working as an husband and wife team and how much easier it is to break the ice and establish a rapport with our subjects. Often times we won’t know who the “main photographer” will be on a shoot until we meet our subjects and read how they respond to us. So sometimes that might be Tim and other times it will be Jenn, but more often than not we will both usually end up shooting. We find that one person usually has the art direction as their main focus and the other is free to explore beyond those restraints.

We joke with people that our marriage is a breeze and that the only disagreements we have are creative differences when we are out shooting. It’s great though because we channel that energy and use it to push ourselves our creatively. The real fun starts when we get back to the office and and see who’s images spoke to us the most.

Jenn is great at producing, scheduling and making sure people feel comfortable in front of the camera. Tim is usually the one setting up the gear, making sure the lights are dialed in and tackling any tech or logistical issues.

Are you always shooting motion and stills?
If the job calls for it we will. Otherwise we’re happy focusing on only stills. If a shoot happens to be a stills and motion project one person will focus on the stills (usually Jenn), while the other person focuses on the motion side of things (usually Tim). In the past we tried juggling the two between us both but found both mediums suffered so now we separate the roles so the outcome of both isn’t diluted.

What documentary film won an Emmy?
Our prison project Trapped won the Emmy.  The project looked how a prison system deals with treating those who suffer from mental illness. It was by far the most intense project we ever worked on.

The Daily Promo – Kenneth Ruggiano

- - Promos, The Daily Promo

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Kenneth M. Ruggiano

Who printed it?
I had the prints done by Bay Photo. It’s printed on Moab Entrada. After I receive the prints I shoot them “copy stand style” onto slide film, I used Fuji Velvia. I tried a couple different slide films and liked the Velvia the best. After I’m done with the slide film I send it off to Fromex in Long Beach, California to have it processed. No one in my area process slide film any more, sad face. Once it’s back to me after a week or so I cut each positive out and place it into a slide viewer. It’s a total pain in the ass…I mean labor of love. Than I cut a piece of leather, stamp my branding on it and attach. One final piece of branding stamped on the inside of the box filled with some crinkle paper and out it goes.

Who designed it?
I designed it. The semester I was graduating  from art school at the University of Oklahoma, one of lower classes showed some of their work with viewers like this. They hung from string in the hall and you had to walk up and interact with the viewer to see the work. I was jealous I didn’t get to do it.

Who edited the images?
I edited the images. I sent @aphotoeditor one version. There are three others. Who gets what depends on who they are, but they are all fitness related.

How many did you make?
In all I’ve probably made just over a 100. The one I sent to @aphotoeditor was in the second wave.  The first set I did as a test, I got some really positive feedback so I went ahead and did another batch right away.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I’ve been doing a targeted promo once a year. Normally in the beginning of the year but the getting ready/birth of my little girl slowed me down a bit this year.

Where did you find that viewer?
The first set of viewers I bought about five years ago when I first had the idea to do these as a promo. I think I got them from Calumet. I originally planned to find a printer that could print small enough but I couldn’t find anything I was happy with. When I bought more viewers this year I bought them from the manufacturer, Radex Inc.


The Daily Edit – Dwell: Jose Mandojana

- - The Daily Edit

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Assigning Photo Editor: Susan Getzendanner
Design Director:  Rob Hewitt
Senior Designer: Tim Vienckowski
Junior Designer: Erica Bonkowski
Photographer: Jose Mandojana

How long have you been shooting for Dwell?
My first assignment was for the September 2013 issue, so approximately three years.

Did you being a father influence the magazine on choosing you for this project?
As far as I know being a father was not a factor.  That said, having two young children has definitely given me plenty of experience interacting with little ones.  It was fun capturing moments with the children at the home.

Is this all done with natural light? Is that part of the magazine’s aesthetic?
I always bring lighting gear and use it to enhance the natural light when necessary.  I do believe that the overall aesthetic of the magazine is to show spaces as they appear.  That lends itself to waiting for great light and trying to keep things feeling natural.

What type of direction did you get from the team?
I receive a full shot list.  The team does a great job of collecting scouting images and notes.  From there,  it’s basically just trying to cover all the shots from different perspectives and including the homeowners (or family, architects, etc. depending on the story) in frames where the images are strengthened by their presence and the reader can gain a better sense of what it’s like to inhabit the space.  Those decisions really come down to my best judgment as to where natural things can occur with the subjects.

What brought you back to the LA market? 
I will always love the PNW and Seattle.  It was a great 7+ years there, and I’m thankful for the personal and professional growth I experienced.  The move back was strictly for professional reasons.  I travel a fair amount for commissions, and LA just seems like a better fit for where I see my work developing.  I also missed the strong photo community in LA and the opportunities that arise from being able to connect with peers and industry friends.  Oh, and the cycling, beautiful light, and Korean BBQ isn’t too bad either!

Was this the first time you were at the Passive House?
I actually meet the architects of the Passive House 6 months prior to the assignment.  They were building a home across the street from our place in West Seattle, and I really appreciated their attention to detail.  I invited them to walk through our mid century home to chat about potentially doing an upstairs addition.  We had done a fair amount of remodeling already,  and I had vision for the expansion of the home.  We would have hired them,  but decided to move back to LA instead.  So it was great to circle back with them randomly for the assignment as they do great work.

In a few words what is passive architecture?
‘Passive’ architecture and development is a certified building standard developed by the Passive House Institute in Germany.  In order to achieve the standard, the home or blind is built extremely insulated to create an airtight envelope.  There also needs to be energy recovery ventilation, high performance windows and management of solar gain.  In a nutshell,  the home is designed and built to use 90% less heating and cooling than the standard building.


The Daily Promo – Emiliano Granado

- - The Daily Promo



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Emiliano Granado

Who printed it?
20 pg zine:

Who designed it?
Kayla Kern

Who edited the images?
I edited the images.

How many did you make?

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I send postcards throughout the year, 3-5 per year. I try to print more cohesive promos/zines 1-2 times per year.

The postcard promo was a teaser for this zine, what is this publication about?
This publication is about the Spectacle that is the Tour de France. My focus was NOT on the racers, but instead it’s a look at the whole thing. The colors, the landscape, the human spectacle, and even some dudes in lycra.








Tell me about your marketing strategy for the mail/ and the 20 page zine.
The strategy is to keep my brand consistent. To put out the work I’m most proud of. To continue to showcase the work that I believe is the most significant and could be most valuable to potential clients. I sent out 3 postcards leading up to the main piece to ‘tease’ the project. I’m launching the project on my site and making the zine for sale at

The Daily Edit – Men’s Journal: Dustin Aksland

- - The Daily Edit

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Men’s Journal

Photo Director:
Jennifer Santana
Deputy Photo Editor: Michele Ervin
Photographer: Dustin Aksland

Your bio mentions a few filmmakers, what type of impact have these creatives made on you?
Films have had a huge impact on my life. My Mother is a huge fan of films and I grew up going to the theatre and watching all genres of movies with her. To this day we talk about what films we are watching and review them. I believe watching films helped my visual vocabulary. I was the skater that stole my mom’s video camera and filmed everything my friends and I did and then would come home and edit the footage straight from the camera to vhs, pause, play, record, rewind, record etc.etc.

Were you familiar with David Gelb’s work prior to the shoot?
Yes I’d seen “Hiro Dreams of Sushi” and was a fan of the film. I had also seen the first season of “Chefs Table” and enjoyed that as well. I took the assignment because I was interested in talking with David about food and travel.

Why did you choose this location, was it about the food ( for the subject? ) and the location ( for you? )
I’m not sure if David or the magazine chose the location ( Ivan Ramen) but David was familiar with the restaurant and the food on the menu. The magazine wanted David to be holding food or eating. I’d never been to Ivan Ramen and did not have time before the shoot to scout so I figured I’d sort out the shooting location once I arrived. I settled for the counter and a front table near the window for the ramen slurping image ( used in TOC ).

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
The magazine wanted the images to be loose rather than formal and like I mentioned above they wanted David to be eating or have food in his hand. It’s challenging to photograph people while they eat so I knew we would have to have fun with this shoot. Thankfully David was game and we ordered some ribs and ramen and he wasn’t afraid to get messy.

How if at all were you directing him during this portrait? What was happening at that moment?
I had a feeling going into this shoot that it would be a collaborative project considering David’s background shooting in kitchens / restaurants around the world. David asked what my ideas were and I gave him a quick rundown and he was game. The magazine wanted to David to eat a pork bun but the restaurant didn’t have one on the menu so we both thought ribs would be a great option. I asked David to sit sideways at the counter so we’d be able to see his face and then told him to chow down. David being a great director knew how to play it up for the camera and gave me the great “finger licking good” pose.

The Daily Promo – Steve Pomberg

- - The Daily Promo

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Steve Pomberg

Who printed it?
Paper Chase Press printed my piece. They are based in Los Angeles, were awesome to work with, and I think they did an amazing job.
Who designed it?
Dana Silberman is a fantastic art director (and conveniently my wife). She designed the front and back cover and eagle eyed the entire piece.
Who edited the images?
I did most of the editing and Dana gave me some great feedback/input regarding layout and pagination.
How many did you make?
I had 100 books printed this time around.
 How many times a year do you send out promos?
I try and do an annual printed promo and keep my website current.
Tell us about your inspiration for this promo.
For this promo piece my intention was to share unpublished personal work that would appeal to potentially new and current editorial/commercial clients. I wanted to showcase my ability to work on location and in the studio so the selected images oscillate between those spaces. I grew up skateboarding and surfing so I wanted to give a nod to the the activities/subcultures that really got my creative juices flowing and inspired me to pick up a camera. Recent trips to Croatia and Nicaragua along with some of my favorite spots in the southeast provided me with vivid environments to experience and photograph. I am an avid art and record collector, and am fascinated with the concept of “Analog Versus Digital’ so I also included images that reference those areas of interest.

Havard Business Review: Ian Spanier

- - The Daily Edit


Harvard Business Review: Greg Louganis

Harvard Business Review: Greg Louganis

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Harvard Business Review

Creative Director: Matthew Guemple
Art Director: Annie Chin
Photographer: Ian Spanier

Heidi: Where did you find the empty pool?
Ian: I was fortunate this pool in Hollywood was empty, and close to Greg’s home. Originally I tried to get access to an olympic pool, and was surprised it wasn’t so easy and the magazine was dead set on an empty one anyway.

Contextually there are many layers to this story, how did you approach that visually?
( this was about his decorated career as well as his activism )
I love stories that have a deeper level. I didn’t get to scout the pool, so I worked with what was there. I did research on what direction it faced and any other factors that would affect my shoot plan. The big plus signs were an added bonus, given the connection to HIV Positive, so I was lucky there, and to be honest the location as a whole was not great– the pool was dirty and with a small crew (me and one assistant) we couldn’t clean it up that much. B&W helped there as well. Greg was really nice, and I made a couple extra portraits of him for him.  In return, he invited me to the screening of his latest short film called Saber Dance– where he plays Salvador Dali.

How did you get Greg to relax, become at ease?
Whenever I shoot celebrities or athletes there’s a bit of the unknown that doesn’t come into play when shooting non-celebrity subjects.  I always ask my client how much time we will have, but assume time could be less (so if I only get two minutes, I am prepared to work within the limitation)  If there’s more than one set-up I will have both ready to go, so I can quickly move my subject from set to set. I think this helps my subjects know that I am prepared, from there it’s less about the lights and camera and just gaining their trust. There is a lot of psychology behind photography. I like to review what the assignment is with the subject to make sure we are on the same page and usually I say something about me not being able to tell them how to just be themselves, but I am happy to suggest small changes from behind the camera.  I do this just between us by having that conversation closely with my subject; no publicist, no assistants, and no crew hearing this part. I’ve found this to work well for me, particularly in quick situations. There’s a sense of trust that needs to be earned, often immediately. I like to think by putting them in charge out the gate, the subject either relaxes and does their thing, in essence appears as they want to, and I then choose when to press the shutter. If they are stiff, I take over.  Ultimately, either scenario I am actually in charge. I like to think it’s almost like hypnosis, the moment I lull a subject into a place of comfort is generally the best part of the shoot. Sometimes I find the strobe firing over and over, or even the sound of the shutter does this, and other times I gain that trust by sharing an early frame when I know it looks good. Whichever gets things headed in the right direction.

How has your skills as a former photo editor come into play?
When I was a photo editor I would work directly with creative and art directors to formulate ideas for photo shoots, those years of experience really helped me the more I was on the other side of the shoot. I’ve always been an “ideas guy” so when I am given the chance to be part of the pre-shoot creative process or even make the call entirely at the shoot, I feel confident I can deliver. It’s great when a client comes to me with a distinct idea, as I have the opportunity to do their idea and time permitting any of my ideas, which only adds value to the project. When the art direction is unknown I feel pretty confident at this point that I’m being hired to come up with a solution. In the case of this shoot, the art director at HBR had presented the idea of shooting in an empty pool, and the section is always in B&W.  I was also given the copy, which always help me know the mood the magazine wants. These are the best scenarios and are most like the scenario when I was on staff at magazines. Since the magazine is on the East Coast I would take the lead producing the shoot. I do work with producers (or my agent) for larger production shoots–  but as a result of my past as a photo editor, when it comes to producing a shoot I can manage it just fine. Although it was not a factor in this shoot,  one other aspect to my past is that I would always be in the position of having to manage the client’s budget. When shoots come with a smaller budget, it’s not ideal, but it’s a reality of a lot of shoots. I believe that it’s my job to make any size budget work– and at least visually appear as equally well produced as the big budget shoots.

Since you’ve been in the industry on both the hiring and shooting level, what has been the biggest impact you’ve seen in editorial shoots?
I think the biggest change today aside from shrinking budgets is the immense need for content. Digital is a big factor of this, as when we shot film there was almost always an end in sight.  The decline of magazines and rise of social media is the other. Shots lists have climbed and the client’s need for assets for all the various outlets– far beyond the assignment alone are almost always a part of the shoot. I am often asked to shoot beyond any shot list, and even do both stills and video during the same shoot. This being the new reality, like everything else, it’s all about adaptation. Photographers have had to adapt to the rapid changes or be left behind.

The Daily Promo – Jennifer Rocholl

- - The Daily Promo

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Who printed it? 
Southern California Graphics in Culver City

Who designed it? 
The amazing Jean-Marc Durviaux and his team at DISTINC_.  Jean-Marc put so much individual attention, thought, and care into my project.  This is the second promo he’s designed for me.  The previous one placed 2nd in the PDN promo awards in 2009 (just behind the DS reps’ promo and yes, it’s been that long since I last did a printed promo!).  There is so much heart in this design agency, I really adore them.

Alexey Brodovitch’s design work was the inspiration for this project.  Brodovitch is a master of juxtaposition and extreme scale and his layouts remind me of contact sheets that have been cut into strips.   Jean-Marc thought it jelled perfectly with the spirit of my work and ran with it.  It was his idea to integrate graphic elements and type to give a hint of how my work could potentially look as an “already consumed” product.  (Yes — Jean-Marc, I’m glad you talked me into this!)

Who edited the images? 
I presented Jean-Marc with a very broad edit from my entire body of work and he made his selects from there.  It was necessary to get fresh eyes on my work because I tend to get stuck on which photos are my favorites.

How many did you make?
2,000.  1,800 were blessed during a candle lit ceremony and sprinkled with unicorn dust, packed into hand painted envelopes, and mailed out.  The lovely NIkki (pictured) came over and spent about a week painting those envelopes on a tarp in my driveway, sometimes with the help / hindrance of my kids.  I really wanted each one to have a “I made this for you” aesthetic.  The remaining 200 are waiting to be handed out at meetings and mailed out to anyone else who’d like one — just hit me up.


How many times a year do you send out promos? 
Since this promo was a substantial production and big cost, it will be my big annual hit in addition to a New Year postcard I sent earlier this year.

The Daily Edit – Aliza Eliazarov: Modern Farmer

- - The Daily Edit




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Modern Farmer

Editor In Chief: Sarah Gray Miller
Creative Director: Maxine Davidowitz
Photo Director: Lila Garnett
Photographer: Aliza Eliazarov

Heidi: What was the tipping point for you to leave teaching and become a photographer? or do you view the switch simply as photography is your vehicle to teach rather than the classroom?
 Aliza: I studied Environmental Engineering in undergrad and went on to get my masters in Creative Arts In Education. When I was a teacher in LA I integrated photography throughout the curriculum and also took classes at OTIS ( they had a great deal for LA public school teachers). I became more and more invested in photography as an anthropological and educational tool – especially the long term project. I was a tenured teacher at the time and took a leave of absence in 2007 to go to Bolivia and document President Evo Morales’ efforts to reallocate farmland to indigenous people.

During that time, I also had some really talented photographer friends who mentored and encouraged me to pursue photography more seriously. I applied to The International Center of Photography’s Documentary and Photojournalism Program and went there from 2008 – 2009.

Your portraits of the animals are so stately, do you treat them as you would a human subject? Or in other words, how do you get them to react ( do you talk to them, have treats, or is it patience? )
Animal photography happens in the space between fear and poop. Every animal is different, and it’s hard to predict how an animal will react to standing in front of flashing lights in a studio setting. Some freeze, others run or fly into the lights and others will try to go through the backdrop. Some animals are surprisingly calm and curious. You really never know and the farmers are always surprised by which animals end up being the best subjects.

Patience is critical. I like to give each animal at least 10 -15 minutes to get used to the situation. It also gives me a chance to observe and get to know the animal and get a feeling for his/ her personality and outstanding physical traits. On set I’m pretty quiet and let the animals roam within the studio space we have built. Often it is during those times that I get the most interesting photos. Sometimes you only get a few seconds of prime shooting, so you need to be ready.

For Modern Farmer I need to get very specific photos of each animal– a tight portrait with the animal facing both left and right and full body shots – all on both black and white backgrounds (in addition to more creative shots). For those, we want ears forward, long necks, and heads held high. I have the farmer or my assistant  talk to them, call them, make noises, hold treats in front of them. We do whatever it takes to get the shot. It can get pretty comical and hectic on set when birds fly behind the backdrop or a 1,400 pound draft horse decides the shoot is over. It can get pretty stressful, but I love it.




Tell us about how your body of work shooting animals developed, did it grow out “Sustain?”
I began shooting animals while photographing farmers and chickens for two personal projects: SUSTAIN and 2 Chickens In Every Garage.

SUSTAIN is a long term documentary project on the sustainable farming movement.

2 Chickens in Every Garage is a series that looks at the backyard chicken movement across America and the role chicken enthusiasts have played in changing city ordinances and reshaping our relationship with our food and food sources. To make this work, I joined chicken enthusiast groups. I visited enthusiasts in several cities around the country and set up a studio with black backdrop inside of the coop in order to isolate the chickens from their environment and force the viewer to consider the chicken.

Modern Farmer Photo Director Lila Garnett was familiar with my chicken work and published the series on when she was photo editor there seveal years ago. When Lila moved to Modern Farmer 5 or 6 years later – she reached out to me!


Do you have a team of wrangles that you work with, or have your developed enough experience to handle things are your own?
I work with one photo assistant and the farmer/s on set. Everyone helps to keep the animal in front of the backdrop and the space safe for everyone on set.

You often shoot for Modern Farmer, what was different or unique about this project?
I just finished shooting my 5th cover story for Modern Farmer and will be shooting 2 more this summer. Honestly it’s my dream gig and I feel so honored to be involved with this publication.
The pre-production for these shoots can be tricky and Photo Director Lila Garnett and I will work closely together to try and find the farms with all of the breeds we need to shoot for the issue. Sometimes it means traveling to 3 or 4 farms.  We try our best to find farmers with multiple breeds and are in the same general region.

I then travel to the farms and set up a studio on location, typically in a barn– many of which are old and rickety. Sometimes I will stay on the farm for a few days, and other times we break down the studio; travel to the next farm and do it all over.

Scheduling farm animal shoots is tricky when you have to work with weather, breeding, molting, sheering and other things that effect what the animal will look like or availability of babies.Chickens are my first love in terms of photographing farm animals, so I was really excited to shoot the chicken cover story for Modern Farmer. I love the variety in breeds and plumage and more than anything, I love the way  chickens move, twist and contort. Shooting the chickens also felt like I had come full circle so it was extra rewarding shooting this cover.

What was the biggest surprise you had on set?
There have been several, most of them poop related:

-A chicken laid an egg in the middle of this shoot for Modern Farmer.
-A giant draft horse backed up and peed all over the white fabric backdrop. I spent the next morning at the laundromat.
-Duck poop is the worst and gets everywhere.
-Alpacas don’t poop on set because they are like cats and only go in a communal litter box area.
-On my most rece   nt shoot, the cover animal I flew across country to photograph, suddenly grew ill and died hours before I got there.

Best advice for anyone shooting an animal?
Poop happens. Be ready for it.





The Daily Edit – Bon Appetit : Alex Lau

- - The Daily Edit

Bon Appetit


Creative Director: Alex Grossman
Photo Director: Alex Pollack
Photo Editor: Elizabeth Jaime
Photographer: Alex Lau

Heidi: How many choices of doughnuts did you go through after arriving at this one?
Alex: I probably went through 9 variations of doughnuts, with about 4 options of each doughnut.

Did you buy a dozen of the same kind of doughnut to avoid denting the icing?
Fortunately, I didn’t have to buy any doughnuts with my own money, but Blue Star was kind enough to give me a fresh doughnut to work with if I had dented or messed up the icing.

Who was the food stylist?
It was a collaborative effort between me and my photo editor Elizabeth Jaime via email! I was in the middle of a multi city shoot, when Elizabeth told me she was adding another shop to my shot list. She had mentioned it was a cover try, and that I should run through as many options as possible. I basically sent her screenshots as I shot, and readjusted based on her comments.

What were the icing or color considerations?
Since it was a cover option, our creative team is always looking for something that pops in terms of color. I was told to look for doughnuts that had a distinct pattern or nice color since it would be featured by itself on white. I had some trouble with the doughnut flavor that I was originally assigned, since the glaze was too glossy for the harsh/poppy light that I was using, so we had to switch to a doughnut with a similar tone, but with a more matte glaze.

Are the most simple food covers the most difficult?
I wouldn’t say that they’re the most difficult, but that they’re just as challenging as propped out shots. If a food shot is propped out, that gives you more options than doing a standalone shot on white. This makes the onus on the food looking good by itself, as opposed to relying on context and props.

Favorite doughnut?
I think my favorite doughnut was definitely the cover doughnut, which is the Blueberry Bourbon Doughnut. I’m not even a fan of doughnuts but had to eat a couple before leaving.


The Daily Promo: Stan Evans

- - The Daily Promo

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Stan Evans

Who printed it?
Modern Postcard out of San Diego Printed it. Ture Lillegraven referred me to them. They are reasonable priced and efficient.

Who designed it?
I designed it. As far as the concept, I’ve been shooting a bit of motorcycling lately and it seems the market has been saturated with café racers, sunset shots and generic side of the road shots.  While some of those photos will always be timeless, I wanted to capture something that flew in the face of that. High-end motorcycles are precision machines and the apparel motorcyclists wear for protection at those speeds has many features and functions.  I wanted showcase a seamless connection between man and machine;  inspired by the work of artist HR Giger and director James Cameron did on the “Alien” series. It’s dark and moody but in a stack of sunset motorcycle work it sticks out.

Who edited the images?
I edited the images and did the post-production myself.  I had pretty clear vision of wanting to mix crisp product photography with dynamic action.  The photos themselves have very little photoshop.  Some of the on location photos had a bit of light spill because you are capturing things at speed but overall that it was getting the right mix of portraits and action so it flows nicely

How many did you make?
I made 200. I sent out about half of those. I handed out probably another fifty. I still have a few on hand to leave behind at meetings.  I’d be happy to send more out, shoot me an email if you are interested:

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Usually 3 to 4 times a year. I do one larger one and 2-3 follow-ups.

How did this idea come about?
Originally I pitched this idea to a company for a shoot and they passed but the problem with good ideas is they stick, so I made this promo.  A promo is the best manifestation of what you can do with your own mind on your own time.  If you can get people to believe in that, they will believe in you and help manifest bigger dreams and ideas. People will say “no” to your ideas but you need to have the resilience to come back and define those ideas, shoot them and take them to fruition if need be.  Practice until you get to a point where people will take notice.

Later after they saw the promo they came back and commissioned a shoot. It also led to a recent work with Cycle World, which was pretty cool because I’ll be frank; I’m a portrait photographer that likes shooting motorcyclists and hearing their stories. I have an instagram (@upforadventuress) dedicated just my moto exploits but I separate the two because I don’t want to be stamped as just a “moto photographer.” It’s a great outlet to show that world as I see it without any constraints and it’s made my overall photography work better but I enjoy seeing and shooting many things.

Special thanks to Adey Bennett (model), Jeff Moustache (the assistant on the shoot but a talent photographer in his own right) and Yamani Watkins (an executive producer /co-founder of Karma Media Group  an amazing mentor for me in LA )  who all helped tremendously on this project.



The Daily Edit – Oprah Magazine: Jonathan Kambouris

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The Oprah Magazine

Photographer: Jonathan Kambouris
Prop Stylist: Marissa Gimeo

Heidi: What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Jonathan: O, The Oprah magazine approached prop stylist Marissa Gimeno and myself to photograph Mac’s new line of cosmetics for the O, Beautiful! page in the June 2016 issue. The client wanted to emulate the Navajo print of the packaging and create the pattern with the actual cosmetics. I love a good graphic pattern and I was completely on board with this concept!

How did this mosaic pattern idea develop?
We were inspired by the print on the actual packaging so we narrowed down which print worked the best. I did a few sketches with the idea that one of the actual products would be photographed on top of the pattern we were creating, possibly a lipstick or eyeshadow. In the end we decided the strongest composition would be to create the pattern out of the eyeshadow, blush and powder textures with no product on top.

Tell us about the actual build and was the crumble a happy accident?
The magazine supplied us with the product from Mac. However, there was not quite enough to complete the entire pattern. Marissa and I discussed the best way to tackle this challenge. In the end, I decided it would be best to create at least half of the pattern(specifically the top half). Once I got the light tweaked I had to shoot this in a few different stages. There was a good amount of planning  on set to ensure that this image was successful. I wanted to capture everything in camera rather than flipping it in post so the lighting felt consistent and natural with the way it falls off on the bottom. So I photographed each half and then flipped it on set and recaptured again. Once I captured the entire background we played around with different options for the top element. My digital tech quickly composited the several captures so we could see it as one image and decide what we needed to capture more of. In the end the top crumbled piece was a unanimous favorite. We did several variations and really perfected this crumble to make sure it felt natural and perfect. It was not necessarily pre-planned, however, it evolved very intuitively on set and the end result captured exactly what I wanted the image to look like.

How long did it take to build?
Marissa Gimeno: It took me half a day to measure and cut the risers for the composition prior to the shoot. On set, it took approximately 3 hours to apply the makeup to the risers and finesse the final layout.

Did you need to have special tools to handle the makeup?
Marissa Gimeno:
Nothing too unusual that couldn’t be found in a still-life stylist’s kit such as palette knives, makeup brushes and a little ingenuity.

The Daily Promo: Heather Byington

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Heather Byington

Who printed it?
Vista print made the post cards, envelopes were hand crafted by me.

Who designed it?
I did.

Who edited the images?
I did.

How many did you make?
452, though some were sent back, so roughly 420 made it out into the world. I sent promos to only to the agencies I had direct contact details for.
815 postcards were sent, just as a solo card/promo piece, these were all marketed to “art director/buyer”.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This was my first real “big push”.  I have sent out a card here or there a couple times before, but nothing to this level. This is the first time I have heard anything back.

Tell us about the promo concept.
Anthology of Muddled Nightmares is a collaboration between myself and Mitchell Walter. I’ve always had an eye for the dark and macabre, but I balance it with visceral emotion and undeniable beauty.  Mitchell is a professional creative writer; he has always been smitten with short stories, finding their blend of narrative content and poetic metaphors powerfully engaging.

Having a mutual admiration for each others’ work, we decided to collaborate on Anthology of Muddled Nightmares. 

The Daily Edit: Keirnan Monaghan and Theo Vamvounakis

- - The Daily Edit

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Marie Claire

Creative Director: Nina Garcia
Design Director: 
Clare Ferguson
Photo Director:
James Morris
Photo Editor: 
Fiona Lennon
Art Director: 
Wanyi Jiang
Associate Art Director: 
Melanie Springhetti Teppich
Photographers: Keirnan and Theo
Food Stylist: Victoria Granof

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
We definitely do our best work when clients let us do our own art/creative direction. Collaboration is fun, but it can sometimes lead to too many compromises. True creatives trust their artists. James (Photo Director) allowed us to be ourselves. He was a pleasure to work with.

What background is this particular shot and what was the through line with the styling and overall look to this story?
Our thread for this story was to create a loose social narrative. We try not to get too literal. We also like to give context, so that images aren’t just product shots. We usually find materials we think are beautiful and exciting, and see what works.

How did you overcome the reflections in this shot?
We don’t try to overcome reflections too often. In the case of mirrored objects, we just try to make it work in our favor.

Do you have a lead food stylist you collaborate with?  Is it typically Maggie Ruggiero? I love her work! I see you both work on Gather.
We work mainly with Maggie Ruggiero, and Victoria Granof. They are both absolute pro’s.

Do you both shoot the assignments?
Yes, we are truly a team. We also both do set styling, though Theo is really the Eleanor to my Steve Zissou.

What are each other’s strengths?
I suppose that Theo is a little more left brain to my right brain… but that can switch depending on the circumstance. Either way, we even each other out.

How did you two meet and tell us how your working relationship unfolded.
We met in college, and started living together soon after. We got married in 2009. The thought of working together dawned on us early, though we weren’t sure it could work. However, after almost two years now (and a few tears), it’s been a wonderful collaboration. We definitely overlap in so many ways.

The Daily Promo – Steve Simko

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Steve Simko


Who printed it?
I sourced it through FOXTONE PACKING in New York City. He’s a print broker and is known for his foil stamping expertise.

Who designed it?
Myself and longtime friend/designer Peter Scherrer at STUDIO MOUSETRAP here in Los Angeles.

Who edited it?
Myself. I had originally chosen a different image but felt it like I might have missed something in the first edit and went back a couple weeks later and found this timeless image.

How many did you print?
500 total with 300 for the mailing and 200 for hand outs.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
2-3 times a year with a very specific target of photo editors and art buyers.

Tell us about this image.
This image is from a personal project I photographed with Michael Wilkinson (Oscar nominated costume designer) and his husband Tim Martin. I had shot Michael a couple of years ago and they came to me with an idea for a project they were working on for their new branding company and asking if I had any interest in shooting some Haute Couture clothing. Yes, please !

The Daily Edit: Miller Mobley

- - The Daily Edit

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The Hollywood Reporter

Director of Photography:
Jennifer Laski
Photo Editor: Carrie Smith / Jennifer Sargent
Creative Director: Shanti Marlar
Photographer: Miller Mobley


Writer: Libby Peterson

The photograph for the Rangefinder cover was originally commissioned by The Hollywood Reporter.
I think it’s important when great images get a second life and I enjoy the fact they chose this cover image to honor Miller’s career.

You have a portfolio chock-full of celebrity portraits, what made this one unique?
I think there’s a lot of simplicity in this photograph that makes it beautiful. The lighting is simple and understated, the clothing is dark and not distracting. The warms colors of the highlights go in hand with the blues and greens in the shadows. And of course, the subject. Walken was one of my dream subjects (probably one of most photographer’s dream subjects), so to be able to have a portrait of him that I’m proud of is special.

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Do you have a process or narrative for your cover shoots that you try to build from?
Every cover shoot is different. Sometimes there’s a narrative or concept and sometimes it’s just about getting a moment in an uncontrolled environment. I go into every photo shoot with a plan, but also let the “happy accidents” happen. There’s only so much you can control in the type of photography I do.  It’s in my nature to have a strategy when there’s pressure on the line and not a lot of time. With that said, you have to leave room for the un-expected moments.

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Have you ever become starstruck and if so, how did you overcome that?
I will always remember the moment, when my team and I were waiting to photograph President Obama and the First Lady. We had been invited to the White House to photograph them for a cover. We had set up all of our lighting, tested, and were now waiting for them to arrive. I’ll never forget when the doors opened and I overheard from the secret service that the President was about to enter. That was probably one of the most surreal moments in my career. It has nothing to do with politics, but more with the honor of being invited to the White House and having 5 minutes of time with the most powerful man in the country. Once they walked through the doors to greet myself and my team, I remember thinking to myself I can’t believe this moment is happening. It was pretty cool.

How much time did you have for this session?
Unfortunately, only about 15 minutes. As I mentioned, this image was originally commissioned by Jen Laski at The Hollywood Reporter. I was photographing Walken because one his films, “A Late Quartet” was about to hit the screens. I was only given 15 minutes and we had to shoot this in an office building in Manhattan. These are not rare circumstances for me. I thought using a background and doing some simple lighting would justify a classic portrait. Sometimes it’s just good to stay simple.

What type of direction did you get for this project?
Jennifer Laski, the DP at The Hollywood Reporter, who originally commissioned this photograph, told me to get something that feels timeless and iconic. Jen and team at THR are very good about giving the photographer an idea about what they’re looking for, but also leaving room for the photographer to bring back something that’s authentic to his/her style and taste.

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What advice to do you have for anyone that has no experience with talent agents and publicists?
Be kind and easy to work with.  It’s obvious advice, but goes a long way. The entertainment industry is small and very connected. Word gets around if you’re a good photographer to work with or if you’re a difficult prick. That’s not to say that photographs need to be a pushover or a people pleaser on set. I think it’s important to push the limit and get memorable images. At the end of the day, photography is a people business and clients/publicists/agents/actors/musicians/etc. want to work with someone who is enjoyable. That’s just my take on things.