Heidi: Why a podcast? How did this come about? Shaughn and John: As a photo team we’ve realized that working together in the same physical space helps us to make the most of the days we aren’t on set shooting. Although we both live in the LA area there is about 50 miles separating us, which means at least 2 hours of driving per day. Like a lot of people these days the way we cope with the long drive is by listening to an insane amount of podcasts. Whether it be true crime, investigative, daily news or interview style, we love being absorbed in stories while we commute. What began as a fun way of keeping ourselves occupied evolved into a conversation about what a Shaughn and John podcast would look like. We agreed that the best idea was to create a podcast that matched the style and approach of our personal documentary projects. Whether it is through photos, video and now audio we love telling the stories of fringe groups and subcultures.
Which podcasts do you both listen to? We each have our favorite genres. Shaughn leans towards true crime (Sword and Scale, Casefile, True Crime All the Time) and I (John) lean towards investigative podcasts (The Daily, The Dropout, The Dream). But there is definitely a ton of overlap. Some of our recent shared favorites include: Uncover, Bomber, Dirty John, Heaven’s Gate, S-Town, and Up and Vanished.
What is the criteria for a subculture to make the cut? There isn’t exactly a criteria but we both constantly have an ear to the ground searching for our next big project. Subcultures that make you scratch your head and wonder what a day in their life looks like always intrigue us.
How does photography tie into your podcast idea? Photography pretty much ties into everything we do. When there is a good story to tell with audio, there is usually an opportunity to capture great photos as well. One advantage of being a team is that we are able to capture stills and audio at the same time. Also, we’ve noticed that when most people tune in to a podcast they often become interested in knowing what the characters of the story look like. By capturing both the audio and visual aspect of the story we feel we can provide an even richer picture for the audience.
What’s the line up for the first season?
In Season One we are diving into the story of the Sisters of the Valley, a group of self ordained nuns living in Central California who grow and smoke weed! We discovered the sisters back in 2016 and the photos we captured went viral in a way we had never experienced before. We kept in touch with the sisters and over time their operation has continued to grow. Their CBD business now grosses over a million dollars a year and they have since expanded into Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the UK. The sister’s have gotten a ton of press in the last few years but what we hope to do with the podcast is to use the long form medium to tell the deeper story of who these women are.
How is the approach to crafting a podcast different or similar to creating images? The process is actually pretty similar. Regardless of what tools we are using we keep our focus on discovering what the true heart of the story is and working to capture it powerfully and authentically.
Where do you hope this goes in the next few years? Over the next few years we plan to continue producing the podcast with each season focusing on a new fringe group. Our ideas for future seasons include flat earthers, ghost hunters, and more.
Do you listen differently now and how has that affected your photography? We both hear the world a bit differently since we began the podcast. In the same way that we are constantly searching for visual elements that will make for good photographs, we now bring that level of attention to sound and conversations. Whether it’s the crackling of a bon fire, a heartfelt personal story, or even just the sound of silence, we have a whole new appreciation for audio.
For 75 years Dwyane’s photo lab in Parsons, Kansas had been processing Kodachrome film. It’s closing in 2010 inspired many photographers to make the trek to the lab back then, and more recently, a Netflix film called Kodachrome. The New York Times published an article in 2010 about the lab’s closing and it sparked the idea for the film. The last roll of Kodachrome 64 was handed to none other than Steve McCurry, a long time fan of the film, and you can read about his process along with the 36 images he shot here. Closing credits from the movie include McCurry’s images below
Photography by Steve McCurry: Villagers Celebrating the Festival of Holi, Vrindavan, Rajasthan, India, 1996
Heidi: How did this job come about, did you pitch it to the magazine?
Sean: Whenever I hear from Skye Senterfeit, the photo editor at Travel + Leisure and Departures, it’s always a ‘pinch myself’ moment. When I saw Madagascar in the subject line of this email it was particularly exciting, although I’m ashamed to say that my knowledge of the country before this trip came exclusively from the animated kids movie.
How many days were you there; had you been to Madagascar before?
7 days. No I’d never been there before.
What was the overall directive from the magazine? Despite the exotic destination, the direction from the magazine was surprisingly low-key. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Skye several times (starting with some assignments closer to home and then gradually moving further afield) so I think I’d built up some trust! However there was some dramatic emails in the lead up to the trip when news broke of an outbreak of The Plague. A last minute visit to my doctor and the prescription of some obscure antibiotics later, and I was good to go.
Did you have a shot list to fulfill? Often on assignments like this, the writer has travelled in advance and has made a start on the story which can then be used to build a shot list. But in this case I was traveling with the writer so everything was a little unknown. The hardest thing about this particular assignment was the vast visual contrasts in what we were experiencing. From arid landscapes and poverty of local villages to a brand new $2500/night resort on a private island. To find a visual cohesion was the biggest challenge.
Are you editing as you shoot?
Yes absolutely, to make sure everything is backed up and also to ensure that I’m managing to shoot a good variety of images. I love working on travel stories because they are a great excuse to make a mix of details, landscapes, portraits and interiors. I’ve always preferred to work to a series rather than in single frames and I get pretty excited about the idea of crafting a narrative.
You have a broad range of work, is there a common thread you pull on for each category? I’ve always been much more interested in subject matter and atmosphere rather than photographic techniques, and in a broad sense I hope that ties my work together. I’m always striving for a simplicity and clarity from an observational viewpoint.
How much of your work is local and how much is international brands asking you to shoot in AU? Probably 50-50. It’s more convenient to work close to home but as a photographer I think it’s so important to constantly be presented with new environments. It’s the best way to stay motivated and inspired.
Creative Director: Kate Lanphear Fashion Director: Joseph Errico Accessories Director: Julia Gall Director of Photography: James Morris Photographer:Lynette Garland
Heidi: Did you cast the models as well as style them and shoot them?
Lynette: Yes, I like to chose the models myself so that they suit the feel of the shoot that I have in my head. The mood I wanted to create was a kind of low key sensuality, hence using the underwear and hosiery, which I asked to be called in. It was Kate Lanphear at Marie Claire who suggested the idea of using the natural elements/woven accessories. I always have a pretty firm idea of what I want the images to look like, so on the day of the shoot it’s mainly about putting all the different aspects together. I tend to work quite fast with very few people around. I’m always trying to keep it instinctive.
How long have you been doing both photo and styling?
Around two years or so. Initially I was using my i-phone to create images just for myself. It developed from there, really. People saw what i did and liked it.
What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
I had certain pieces that needed to be shot but other than that Kate gave me complete freedom. Basically, she liked my work and trusted me to do what I do.
What do you look for in photo compositions?
It depends on the subject, really. I do like to crop into the image and home in on certain details. It’s often about creating a mood by being a bit more abstract.
What are you inspirations?
I like photographers whose work is intimate and looks natural – Saul Leiter, Joan Colom, Raoul Hausmann.
Design and Photo Director: Hannah McCaughey Associate Art Director: Petra Zeiler Photographer:Nate Bressler
Heidi: How did this story come about?
Nate: I’ve been fortunate to develop a working relationship with Outside that supports “no amount of time is too much” for an assignment, combined with my archaeology background, 37 years on a horse and months with native youth camps, we both knew being embedded would be vital to getting the story.
How long did you spend with riders/racers?
I ended up spending four months with the teams, splitting my time between Pine Ridge and a ranch where I run cattle just north of the reservation. Most nights were spent on floors, couches, the bed of my truck or the ground below the Sun dance tree of a new dear family where we spent long hours talking about problems and solutions of the wounded Lakota nation.
What direction did you get from the magazine? I’ve been a contributor with Outside over 15 years so Hannah stressed the importance of portraits, knowing I should have plenty of reportage moments, from there, the rest was up to me.
Before meeting the writer and racers, I had many lengthy calls with them about what I did not intend to do w my camera, Pine Ridge is infamous for being the worst living conditions in the US and I didn’t want to add to all that press, I let them know that I was there to capture this story in a positive light and leave the depressing stuff to others.
Tell me about the suicides and last second wins, did that relate to any of your images? How did that impact you while you were there?
Summer race season is an incredible distraction from life on the reservation, where childhood is difficult for many growing up in the third world conditions. You can feel the weight lifted off these team members when they load their horses for another race weekend. Unfortunately, the Brew Crew had suffered more than their share of loss, the months I spent with them was never quiet with talk of their virtuoso rider who had taken his life the summer before, just days after winning the World Championship. With friends and family of my own suffering the same fate and an epidemic four times the national average on Pine Ridge, I knew what these young kids were up against. Between high drug/alcohol abuse, an 80% unemployment rate and 17 people per single wide trailer, their life of hard times was very apparent though my camera lens. As our relationship grew, so did the thoughts of a safe shelter for kids to ride during winter months and a classroom to finish the days studies. From these talks a nonprofit was started with the aim to educate native youth and support them through early spring also known as suicide season on many reservations. There’s a need and an obtainable solution to help the native youth that’s been the cause of many sleepless nights, turning my embedded assignment into a project beyond the story itself.
Was it easy to be accepted into the group of riders?
The groups of riders were very accepting by all teams w a weariness of only a select few, unsure of the nonnative w a camera, the jokes flowed freely along w the herbal medication and the commandery of a Kansas born outdoorsman and the Great Plains natives I was camping, cooking and riding horseback with. We all had some form of ranching backgrounds, an understanding of the importance of youth programs affiliated with horsemanship and the hardships of life on the reservation. The race community is small amongst the enormous backdrop of the America’s west so with enough race weekends under my belt their acceptance into the worlds first extreme sport felt as though we had known each other for years.
How difficult was it to shoot the race since the laps were so fast?
Shooting the races had its challenges with the obvious factors of light, angle and the ability to get clean shots came the moments of laying on the track in some blind corner, under the rail, my head out just enough to get the riders who will entering the corner at 40+ mph and unaware of the photographer at their feet. These horses are hot-blooded and warmed up to frenzy come race time, with their high hips and pulsing veins the thoroughbreds will deliver the pic as long as you move just as fast in this chaotic 2 minute race.
Did you also ride?
With surfing being so popular and my local breaks becoming too crowded and overly aggressive, I found myself seeking out horse adventures, still wanting to fill that craving for a connection with the outdoors and the elements out of my control, my last ten years on horseback has taken me on 500 mile endurance rides, cattle drives to brandings and hosting week-long group rides for adventurers looking to sleep under stars.
Between the nonprofit riding arena, the cows I own and ranch w others just outside the reservation and 1,000 miles on the pony express, this summer will keep me horseback daily.
How did you grow as a photographer from this assignment?
I’ve kept a full-time job since I was 15 and as an artist, your life of projects is never finished, with that said I realized through my bond with a this incredible nation and seeing ways to help, I’ve felt a sense of purpose that never came from the grind of being a struggling artist with a bachelor lifestyle. The desire to see things change has ignited a fire within, changing my life for many years to come, the thoughts of happy kids laughing together, leaving their worries behind for a couple of hours a day is my drive well beyond this photo world filled with so many unknowns.
Heidi: You have a variety of color pallets within your work, is this bright poppy a new direction for you?
Joe: I’ve had a few commissions recently where the subject matter really called for super poppy color. I guess I started going in this direction as I transitioned to shooting entirely digital and working more in the studio. In the studio, where you have to make a decision about every variable in the frame (light, color, etc.), you’re less tethered to reality. I’m less interested in replicating “real” light or color than I am in amplifying that artifice of the studio. What I ultimately want is to make pictures that are fun to look at, and sometimes exaggerating the color is a way to get there.
Did you have a food stylist?
Nope. Stella Blackmon, the photo editor, dropped off three dozen doughnuts to the studio and let me play.
If styling your own, what drives your style?
I love how NYC coffee carts display their food and I’ve also been really inspired by NYC deli graphics–where you’ll see stock images of Pepsi cups and bagel sandwiches and doughnuts cut-and-pasted on top of each other over clashing digital backgrounds. They’re super engaging and attention-demanding, all about abundance, but set against this filthy urban backdrop. I wanted this image to have that kind of trashy-cornucopia feeling–kitschy and irresistibly delicious at the same time. The background is a piece of rubber matting – the kind you’d see on the floor of the weight room at your gym. The Donut Pub looks and feels like a diner inside and the pattern had a “Saved-by-the-Bell” quality that had an echo of formica flecks and candy sprinkles that felt like it would fit in that world.
Why those particular doughnuts?
Of the whole bunch, these were the most over-the-top. The Donut Pub makes outrageously decadent doughnuts and these felt like the right ones to show. They’re very special doughnuts. I did a few options with different doughnuts as the hero. This was my favorite and theirs too.
What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Honestly, not much on this particular image. There wasn’t a creative brief or anything. We talked over the phone and hashed out some ideas, but they really trusted me on this one. I had taken a picture of some cake slices the week prior and posted it on instagram and they called it out in their email to me. The direction of that image felt like an obvious way to go for this image.
What do you look for in your compositions?
For me, composition is all about creating energy in the frame. Even if the subject is basically centered, the frame needs to have some asymmetry or some interesting use of color or space that creates tension. The image has to feel alive. I also want there to be a moment where you question what you’re looking at. You recognize it instantly as a doughnut, but it’s not a normal doughnut–it’s familiar and foreign at the same time. Maybe that’s not an issue of composition, per se, but a general attitude about image making.
Creative Director: John Korpics Photographer:Grace Chon
Heidi: How did this body of work start? Grace: The series actually started out as a personal project with 9 dogs, back in 2016. The series went massively viral, and then turned into a book called Puppy Styled that was published in 2018.
Are these dogs trained? The dogs are all not studio trained animals – they are pets that didn’t have experience modeling, let alone in a studio in front of strobe lights. more info about the series here
Is it difficult to give the animals direction? I’m extremely connected to animals and intuitive about them while I shoot, so it’s not difficult to give them direction because I’m pretty tuned into how they’re feeling on set. I also make sure to keep them happy while we shoot, so I bring a variety of treats and toys to keep them happy and motivated. I tell people it’s like a mix of dog training and photography. I also make funny sounds to get fun, unexpected looks to the camera.
Where did your love of people and pets start from? I’ve always loved animals my entire life! I grew up watching Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures and wanted to be a vet when I grew up.
Ethan Pines talks about photographing Elizabeth Holmes for Forbes
In late 2014 I photographed Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and CEO of the now notoriously fraudulent blood-testing company and Silicon Valley darling Theranos. When I shot her for the Forbes 400 issue, she was the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world. By 2016 The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair and others had published excoriating investigative pieces, and Forbes estimated her net worth at zero.
Suddenly her story is everywhere again: John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood is a hit, HBO’s documentary The Inventor just premiered at Sundance, the ABC News podcast The Drop Out is streaming, and a seemingly endless number of articles on Holmes’s massive fraud have come out. In addition to appearing editorially here and there, my portraits have been licensed as key art for the HBO documentary and the ABC podcast.
And friends keep asking me, What was it like at the company? What did you see around their offices? How was it spending a few hours with the woman who appears to be a narcissistic, delusional fraud, maybe even a sociopath? The short answer is, I now see clearly how her starry-eyed investors were taken in.
The company came across as fairly standard Silicon Valley. A campus in Palo Alto, a P.R. person coordinating and vetting everything beforehand, modern open-office architecture, lots of young people from an array of countries walking around doing their jobs. On the walls were large prints from a Martin Schoeller shoot commissioned by the company — including a portrait of Holmes herself — and a giant mural with Yoda’s famous DO OR DO NOT. THERE IS NO TRY. The company was accommodating and welcoming, which is usually the case when you’re coming in to shoot a potential Forbes cover.
As a biotech company, they also had a ton of lab equipment, machinery and accessories around. In hindsight, I keep wondering, if Theranos’s core technology and promises couldn’t deliver, what was all this for? I suppose they were trying to make good on Holmes’s unproven, likely impossible promise of conducting dozens of tests from a single drop of blood, i.e., they were following tech’s ubiquitous fake-it-till-you-make-it approach. Some areas were a jam-packed, disorganized mess. (See next image.)
As for Holmes herself, photographing her was entirely different from what you might think. While she apparently sought to emulate Steve Jobs — his mythically genius status, his black minimalist wardrobe, his change-the-world ambitions, his megalomania — she did not adopt his difficult demeanor, at least on the day we spent with her. Jobs was reputed to be an awful jerk. Holmes was polite, genuine, easygoing, friendly, accessible and an engaged conversationist. She asked about me and my crew, never dominating the conversation. She did her own hair and makeup (quite well). She spent much of her time on set without her her P.R. person around.
I’ve photographed a lot of tech CEOs — Sundar Pichai at Google, Elon Musk at Spacex, Kevin Systrom at Instagram, Jen-Hsun Huang at Nvidia, Tom Siebel at C3 IoT, Patrick Soon-Shiong at Nantworks, Travis Kalanick at Uber, etc. — and they all either have very little time, a specific way they want to be portrayed, or both. Some have that CEO swagger, some are immersed in their own deep thoughts. Yet Elizabeth Holmes was surprisingly malleable, seemingly a blank slate.
She ceded control, trusted us with the shoot and took direction well. She didn’t come out of the gate with fake investor-friendly smiles and body language, nothing smug, no crossed-arm power poses like subjects tend to do for Forbes. I asked her to relax her face completely and just look into the camera, and we got those doe-eyed blank expressions you see in the posters. Between her black turtleneck, shaped black jacket and asymmetrical hair, she had a bit of a sci-fi look, and I told her so. She appreciated the compliment. She was a bit of a dream subject, and I think I was developing a crush on her.
She gave us a lot of time, which is unusual. After setting up for about three hours beforehand, we shot her in three different locations for at least a couple of hours. In two of the setups I asked if we could have some blood samples in the shots, and I found it a bit weird that they had these tiny, fake blood containers just sitting around, at the ready … for what? Publicity? Internal presentations? Employee morale? There was also a metal cart labeled Ebola in the lab where we shot, which freaked us out a bit.
If you’ve seen footage of her talking, you’ve probably noticed her unusually low voice. There are rumors that she deliberately lowered her voice to compete in the male-dominated tech field, but I don’t recall it being that low, and I think I would have remembered something so odd. What I do remember is being charmed by this young, attractive, billionaire visionary who spent time with me and my crew and made us feel important.
And now I realize: This is part of what lured investors. Sincerity. Relatability. Accessibility. Simplicity. The facade of quiet wisdom. Eye contact from huge blue eyes that made you feel you were hearing the unvarnished truth. How could there be anything sinister or deceitful behind those giant, pure glacial pools? In a promotional video commissioned by the company, a compilation of female employees dreamily laud Holmes as “inspiring,” ”intelligent,” “strong,” “nurturing” and full of “big ideas.” Holmes appears at the end the video. At first she looks down humbly, speaks thoughtfully. Finally she looks up at the lens to deliver the final line: “Next to every glass ceiling there’s an iron lady.”
You couldn’t help liking her, wanting to believe her, itching to embrace the dreamy future she promised. I could see how investors and the media were taken in, just as I was. How bizarre to look back and realize that we were in the belly of a massive fraud machine, the deception happening all around us. It’s hard to know what was real and what was fake, both in the company and in Holmes herself. By the end, perhaps not even she knew.
Design Director/Creative Director: D.W. Pine Photographer: Andrew Quilty
Heidi: How has politics shaped your work there? Andrew: American foreign policy since 9/11 shaped my opinion and much of my mission here. I’ve been focusing on Afghans rather than on Americans in Afghanistan. Granted it’s little bit easier for me to concentrate on Afghans over Americans because I am here at a time when the American involvement has been significantly reduced, especially in comparison to 2008 to ‘12. Having said that, America’s involvement in Afghanistan since 2001—and it’s failures—affect affairs here on a daily basis. It’s hard to separate that affect from any subject a journalist might choose to look at here, and I don’t think it should be
What was your sense of the country before you arrived? When I came here, all I knew of the country was what I had seen through the media
I have this photo in my head: 10 camouflage-wearing soldiers walking through a dusty village or across a dusty plain. Before 2001, I wouldn’t have even had that. I wouldn’t have even been able to place Afghanistan on a map, let alone tell you who was there, who’d come and gone or who was in charge on September 11.
What drives you? More and more, I feel an obligation to redirect the minds of readers and viewers who, for the most part, like their governments, are only interested in Afghanistan insofar as it effects them or their national self interest. It’s playing out now with America’s number one priority during peace talks with the Taliban being a guarantee that Afghanistan won’t be used as a base for terror groups with international aspirations, with the future for Afghans seemingly a distant second. There’s some anger toward the Americans and their allies for the hubris that allowed them to think they could mould yet another country that was only moderately willing into a shape more suitable to them. And there’s probably some guilt that I’m from one of those countries that followed the U.S. in, blindly, driven by emotion and revenge.
How do you think your images would have been different had you been in the country earlier? I don’t want to criticise those who came before me because, in the early years of the war there was an appetite for what the international soldiers were doing. Of course readers from Australia want to know what their soldiers are doing; why they’re fighting and dying and coming home mentally ruined. I have no doubt that if I was here, then, I’d have been covering the international military mission almost exclusively, too. But what we rarely heard about were the Afghans affected by the war. The innocent ones being killed in horrific ways. Or why, after the Taliban had been ousted, were people turning against their “liberators.” Afghanistan was still depicted in simplistic way: government good, Taliban bad, when the reality was far more complex. That simplification not only damaged the international public’s understanding of Afghanistan and the deteriorating situation here in recent years, it also ensured the failure of the international military mission and built a culture of corruption into the government and its institutions.
Is this a reaction to how the media has imbalanced everything? It wasn’t about Afghanistan. No one really cared about the outcome for Afghanistan. It was-and still is-all about Afghanistan in relation to how it will affect America. So I just find that a little unfair.
How are you trying to humanize this in your own mind? I think about the people who had no say in this. First they were given hope, then despair and the whole roller coaster that’s ensued. What about them? International interest has tended to focus more on those who made the choice to come here. It hate the cliche of the journalist’s roll being to speak for the downtrodden, but when the balance is so far out of wack, as I feel it was through the majority of the war, and when those who have, and continue to impose well-meaning but dismal policy and strategy are all but impervious to reproach, it’s hard not to back the underdog.
What speaks to you about this experience? and what is misunderstood by those that consume your work? Well, look, I think a lot of people assume that I’m here out of some sense of vocation– and yeah I think that’s part of it but I also think there’s a lot of other things to consider. I actually quite like my life here outside of my work. Although work is pretty all-consuming, I happen to love the work that I’m able to do here. But my point is, a lot of people assume I’m making huge sacrifices and taking massive risks being here, and that I’m doing it all for the sake of the Afghan people. In general, I don’t even think photographers and journalists are particularly empathetic people. That’s a myth that viewers can easily fall for by looking at the kind of subjects many of us focus on but I don’t think it’s entirely accurate. Sure, I get affected by things here – I’ll have to wipe away tears while listening to people tell their stories and I won’t sleep a wink for a couple of days after being close to a bombing but I’m not sure a deeply empathetic person would last long—assuming they had the choice to leave—in this kind of environment. I suppose it’s a journalist’s job to be able to switch it on and off; to be able to channel it into words or pictures rather than letting it overwhelm ones soul.
What is your life like there? I manage a nice old Afghan house that’s home to two dogs taken off the street before I arrived and an assortment of others, mostly journalists, who stay for varying lengths of time. I read the news over breakfast and coffee most days and, if I don’t have something specific to work on I’ll try to get out on my motorcycle to shoot some pictures. As a photographer, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this city. Aside from that, like any photographer or journalist, I’m planning trips into the provinces, pitching or filing stories, sending invoices, responding to emails and, twice or three times each week I’ll do something social, usually dinner or drinks at a friend’s place, taking a new housemate along on the back of the bike.
Are you married? Do you have children? No. No, no. Neither. I’ve had a couple of semi-long-term relationships here in Kabul. But I’ve never dated an Afghan. The foreigner crowd here is a good group of people, by and large. They’re all in similar life circumstances – no kids, no mortgage, maybe or maybe not married. So it’s a bunch of people who are at a similar stage in their life and they’re usually pretty good at what they do. It’s like small-town life with people who have chosen to eschew small-town life.
Dinner table conversation is always really interesting, save for when it inevitably turns to matters of security in Kabul. But that’s a bonus. Obviously good dinner table conversation wouldn’t be enough to keep me here if I didn’t love my work, as I do in a way I never have before. Back in Sydney, I was probably really invested in 20% of the work I did. I cared about it. I cared about what I was photographing. The other 80% was what I had to do to pay the bills. Here, I mean, it’s beyond the inverse. I mean, there’s very little that I photograph here that I don’t find interesting, that I’m not personally curious about or that I don’t think is important. It’s very hard to find a subject here that isn’t in some way affected by the country’s history, and that history makes those subject’s stories compelling in a way that is rare, especially somewhere like Australia. As a photographer, it’s hard to turn away from that.
When I go on your Instagram and see what you are publishing if looks like an incredible opportunity, photographically to personally grow so I would understand why. Yes.
You’re going to come out the other side of this immersion a completely changed person, Most people wouldn’t even think about trying… Yeah, very much so. Most people assume that you can only come out the other end of a period working as a photographer in Afghanistan as a diminished person, damaged by what you’ve seen. If I left now, I’d leave a richer person than the one that arrived here five years ago.
You’ve said you arrived in Afghanistan and just knew that was it. Many people struggle to craft a voice. What I enjoy about your work is — I feel like you’re happy. You’ve zeroed in on a very distinct voice and eye and you’re able to articulate your pictures. It’s fortunate that you’ve found this calling because most people search for this their whole lives. Yeah. Yeah. I know. I know. And I didn’t even knew I was looking for it. I thought I was satisfied in the work I was doing back in Australia and from New York, and now I look back on it, and it’s like BC/AD – before and after I came to Afghanistan. Now, on my website, I don’t have a single picture that wasn’t taken in Afghanistan. It’s a very distinct line for me. It’s also helped me realise the potential of photography as a means to tell stories, or to inform, in a way I’d never understood.
I’m sure that there’s some haunting things that you’re seeing, too. How do you cope with that? I try to look after myself and eat well and exercise and all those things. Speaking with friends. I mean, that’s the good thing about being here. Everyone is in the same boat, and strangely enough, some of my fondest memories here are of the nights following either a big bombing or an incident where someone we know has been killed or injured. Coming together with a small group of friends, just being together, helps. What was that line in the movie Speed? Something about relationships formed under intense circumstances. Those will certainly be some of my strongest memories.
It’s rich. It’s real life that’s so visceral. Yeah. It’s real experience. Yeah. And also part of the reason which makes it hard for me to think about leaving, and most people seem to think I should.
Right. They’re probably afraid for you. People project and can’t even imagine themselves doing that, so it’s natural. Yeah, of course.
Do you pitch stories written and shot by you? Yes, I pitch stories myself and write them myself as well. But that’s relatively new. It came as a result of some of people I used to work and travel with leaving the country. All of a sudden I had to rethink where my assignments would come from, whereas previously, they tended to fall in my lap. Not only that, the stories attached to the assignments stopped coming, so, almost overnight I had to start thinking for myself. It’s a new way of working for me. Where I started my work as a photographer, at The Australian Financial Review in Sydney, I’d be handed my assignments on a piece of A4 paper each morning. It was very rare that I ever had to think for myself. It’s a bad habit that many photographers are bred into. The best photographers, I think, are thinking photographers, the ones who know their subjects intimately, rather than just turning up for a day after the writer has been and gone. So it’s actually been a blessing in disguise, and a challenge
Tell us about the making of this photo which was nominated for World Press Photo for 2019.
I was in a shop, below street level, about 200 metres from where a man driving an ambulance packed with explosives detonated when he was stopped at a police checkpoint. I was asked a similar question when I was home in Sydney recently. I was sitting on on a beach on a hot summer day with some new friends. They asked me about the worst thing I’d seen in Afghanistan. Without much enthusiasm, I gave them the thirty second version of what followed the explosion. The reaction was predictable. The kind of shock expressed to fulfil the social obligation of revulsion, not through actual revulsion, because how could anyone who hasn’t seen something like that conceive of how horrific it is? But we should be horrified. It was at that moment that I decided, if I was ever asked about it again, that I’d tell the whole story or not at all.
Heidi: Is this your first project where you’re the EIC? I know you’ve had long, successful career as a creative director/ photographer. Ger: My career as an artist started early as a teenager and over the decades I’ve found myself in many different roles, crossing various disciplines and mediums. Today I look at an unusually extensive set of skills and experiences even from times before I segued into working almost solely as a creative director and photographer in the fields of fashion, photojournalism, celebrity culture and conceptual art. For The Unseasonal all of that becomes one and it can be seen as a proof that being a jack of several trades can sometimes create unusual opportunities and outcomes. I believe that only with me serving in multiple roles, I could make this magazine what it is today. The Unseasonal is a very intimate and uniquely homogeneous publication with one strong unified vision behind it. So I do find myself the first time also in the role of the editor-in-chief but I look at it more as a necessity than a choice. To me the written word has to be in symbiosis with the imagery and choices of angles, style and topics are following similar rules. The result is an overall feeling with some depth and integrity that readers can sense, that is difficult to put into words but many people seem to resonate with.
What are the differences between those roles? In reality I’m the photo director as well but for The Unseasonal photography is so much in the DNA that a mention in the masthead becomes irrelevant. So since, I find myself in the main roles as the editor-in-chief and the creative director I try to disregard the lines in a similar way I learned to dismantle the boundaries of different mediums. For a while I was lecturing on what I call a universal artistic language. Mediums can be interchangeable and without boundaries. The very same aesthetic of a photograph for instance can be expressed in acoustic work alike. Grain becomes hiss, fog static noise and so on. There is no question that for big corporations and most magazines separating demanding top positions make a lot of sense. But with my diverse background I also saw the advantage in doing things differently. Differences between my roles become indistinct and sometimes things become a bit autocratic or autobiographic, then again very open and collaborative. The overall atmosphere of the outcome is what really counts. I look on every issue of The Unseasonal as a mix tape and it all needs to start in my gut or my heart. It is a very personal, artistic approach with a fantastic team behind it. This framework makes it possible to transport an absolute pure vision without any compromises or battles of egos. It is a very professional, quiet and peaceful way of working.
How did this idea come about? The longer I had been working for many of the most renowned magazines in the world — including Vogue, L’Officiel, and Interview — the more I felt there was also room for something else. For something of a different curation, of another voice, for a more timeless approach, and for treating fashion more as a feeling, artistic form of expression, and way of living. I wanted to put photography on a center stage, offer more room to breathe, give editorial projects more time, and make a magazine that can be a common denominator for many different types and classes of people. I also believed in a magazine that can be truly global, feels like a light summer breeze and at the same time is deep and substantial — something you want to bring on a vacation or that accompanies you for a long time. Something of a certain value that is between a collectible item, a periodical and a book.
Why did you feel the need launch this magazine? With what is going on in the world today, I felt the urge to provide people with the inspiration and lightness for making the world a better place.I also felt it was time for a new over-spanning genre of a magazine that adapts to the change in seasons – both in fashion and the world — and counteracts fast fashion and meaningless social media madness with timeless aesthetics and deep storytelling. I was dreaming of a magazine about passion that unifies fashion, art, travel, and the human condition. A magazine of a rare artistic quality that represents the feeling of a getaway, of slowing down, of exotic places, escapism, breathtaking dreams, and lightness of being, all with elements from the past, the present, and the future. With job and budget cuts in publishing left and right I was even more so dreaming about a magazine that puts quality and content first again.
What do you feel is the problem if any with existing publications? With the rise of digital and Instagram the existing editorial market imploded but the number of independent magazines exploded. Together with people getting increasingly tired of globalization, capitalism, impersonal corporate structures and digital technologies, there was a growing demand for something different, more personal, tangible, and substantial but market surveys do not seem to identify the gaps. So budgets for editorial projects have been continuously decreasing, resulting in a decline in quality and no willingness to take risks. Many established magazines lost their unique selling proposition and slipped into irrelevance. I think people more and more gave up on the publishing industry since for a while it seemed there were not many revolutionary ideas left to try for how a magazine in today’s world can feel and be put together. There is room for much more than doing just another magazine. But people need to step back, observe, take risks again and adapt to the present and the future. Also to how social media and new technologies changed our behaviors but this does neither mean that all will be digital nor that print always needs to look the same. I see it as a great opportunity. It’s the right time for new structures and something warm, beautiful and meaningful.
Do you have an online component to this? Yes. Although print is absolutely essential for The Unseasonal, we strongly believe that online is an important part as well. Just like the print magazine, the website is evolving and there are many plans and ideas for it. Both components have different strength, so we do not try to blindly mirror content but rather embrace each medium’s strengths. Also — some readers generally do not buy magazines, others do not read much online. And then there is a group of people who do both. With online we can put out things faster and with print we can take more time.
If I someone wanted to contribute, how do they get involved? We usually do not accept submissions but do appreciate and try to respond to every email, letter or message we receive. Whenever possible I take the time myself to look through the work and read the pitches. I do value the potential or a steady, unique voice in someone’s work above an established but mainstream portfolio.
Excerpt from “The New York Cover That Made Me Want to Make Magazines” / New York Press Room
One of my favorite covers of this magazine is called “Notes on the Paralyzed Generation.” The issue came out in 1970, when I was 13 (not quite of that generation, but desperately wanting to be the hippie boy on the cover), and I remember yanking it from our mail pile. The cover picture is a deeply sarcastic portrait of mother and that bell-bottomed adult son — the son, obviously able, in a wheelchair. The photographer was a man who did many of New York’s early covers, Carl Fischer. He was a genius; satiric covers are incredibly difficult to pull off and he succeeded almost all of the time. The coverline of that issue read, “Of course he can walk. Thank God he doesn’t have to.” At the time, I thought it — picture and headline in unison — was hilarious. I still do. The cover taught me that great magazines are steeped in point of view, voice, tone. They live. And seeing that cover for the first time is probably what made me want to make magazines for a living, though I didn’t know that at the time. — Adam Moss
Adam Moss took over editorship of New York Magazine in 2004 and is now stepping down. Here’s a few of his seminal covers being shared online by those who praise his work.
Heidi: How did this assignment come about, did you bring the idea to them?
Amy: I had heard about the Malle London Great Mile previously and always thought it sounded amazing! But then I was approached by a German journalist to join the event for a number of magazines. I got to ride and photograph the journey. It was one of the best assignments I’ve ever been asked to photograph! I loved it so much as an assignment, myself and my fiancé have booked ourselves in for the 2019 Rally!
Do you find most are surprised you are a female in this type of work?
Yes!! I still get asked if I am photographing for a University project, and they are surprised when I tell them that I photograph cars for my job. I think it’s a little disappointing that it’s still a question I get asked, but I truly hope that I can try and help change this view for future females in the automotive world.
Do you ride motorcycles and where does your love for driving and and road tripping come from?
I learnt how to ride motorcycles just 2 years ago. I’ve always wanted to ride but felt I wouldn’t fit in to the riding world as a girl. It wasn’t until I started photographing the bike world that I realised it was so fun and anyone was welcome! I think I’ve always had a strong desire for adventure and road trips. When I was 19, I did a solo road trip in my classic Mini 1600 miles around Scotland, just because I wanted to. My parents have always encouraged us to explore, often taking us camping or hiking up mountains! My dad would always tell us stories of his road trips around the world, I don’t think I’d ever not be adventurous!
You have a lot of motorsport work, where does your interest in motorsport come from?
My dad has always worked in the motorsport world, at one point working for Team Lotus in Formula 1, so our family has always been around cars and had a love for classic cars especially. When I learnt to drive, I loved the feeling of freedom. I loved how classic cars looked, they were so full of character. I wasn’t interested in what was under the bonnet, I just loved the smells, the designs, the freedom these beautiful machines could give me. That’s when I bought my 1985 Mini Mayfair! And then when I learnt to ride motorcycles, I bought a 1972 Honda 350F. This year I acquired a 1930 BSA L30, a 1945 B33 and a 1961 BSA Bantam!
How many days was the rally?
The Rally was 7 days in total, riding for 5 of them. We arrived on day 1, registered and met our rally-mates, and then set off early the following morning. Each day we roughly rode 230 miles along some of the smallest coastal roads in the UK, but the ones with the very best views. Each day was magical.
Did you shoot from the car or the back of motorcycle?
Both! At some points I was photographing from the back of a convertible Mini that came from the official Mini Museum! Other times I would sit on the back of one of our team members and photograph over their shoulder. I love to photograph from the bike of bikes as it gives the viewer a but better sense of doing the bike trip too, rather than simply observing the trip from a car.
Creative Director: Andrew Diprose Photo Director: Dalia Nassimi Acting Photo Director: Cindy Parthonaud Photographer:Christie Hemm Klok
Heidi: What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Christie: I got a lot of direction from the magazine. When Cindy Parthonaud, the acting photo director at the time, approached me about the shoot she had a pretty clear vision in mind. She referenced an image that I had taken for WIRED US back when I worked in house for them of the young actor Abraham Attah. The creative team worked up a mock cover using that image of Abraham and we went from there. It was so helpful from the get go to understand their vision and have what that wanted communicated to me so clearly. I had been wanting to do some moody portraiture and this was the perfect opportunity.
How did the idea to utilize the gutter come about?
I can’t speak to how the use of the gutter came about but Cindy or the CD over at WIRED UK came up with. We had always planned to photograph each person individually and piece together the cover but the use of the gutter was entirely the idea of the art team. I love that opener so much.
How difficult was it to schedule the shoot and how much time did you have?
The shoot was difficult to schedule and the time frame was incredibly tight. Although this is the case on most shoots this one was especially tough to pull off in such a small timeframe since we needed more shots in order to fill out a cover story. We had the guys for about an hour, although I think it ended up being closer to 45 min. I got there about 2 hours early to scout and set up. When I know I have a tight time frame I walk through the space with my assistant and map out a game plan. If we all know where to go next the shoot can happen a lot more smoothly. Since we set up a mobil studio and 5 environmental shots we needed to move quickly though each.
How much did you direct them in terms of styling and on set?
I directed them a lot. Since we knew what we wanted for the cover it was just matter of portraying that clearly to them. I tried to fit as many environmental shots as I could in our tight timeframe and knowing what I wanted out of each location was key. My assistant and I tested out positioning when we were setting up so I had those in my mind when I approached each location.
What type of energy do the two of them have that you were trying to portray?
Both of them were pretty quiet and reserved. They seemed to get along really well and have a very close relationship. Stripe is an incredibly successful company and the brothers are very young so we wanted to show that confidence and strength.
Are they aware of their impact and did that come through while you were interacting?
Honestly they were both a bit distracted the entire shoot. They are both clearly very busy so they were on their phones a lot answering emails. Despite their tight schedule and heavy workload we were able to accomplish a really successful shoot.
The thing about shoots like these is that it takes so many people to make it successful. Without my assistant, Cayce Clifford and the Photo Director, Cindy it really could not have happened the way it did. We ran up and down flights of stairs testing out each location and at least 40 min fine tuning the lighting for the cover.
Art Director:Jarret Einck Associate Photo Editor: Holly Pruett Photographer:Gabriela Herman
Heidi: Was this your first shoot with the magazine?
Gabriela: It was my first shoot for Better Homes and Gardens and I felt like it was such a good fit for me based on many previous garden and flower stories I’ve shot for Martha Stewart Living.
How long were you at the garden?
We went down to the Naples Botanical garden where this was shot and had a glorious, (and sweltering!) 3 days documenting all the different varieties of water lilies.
What made this shoot stand out for you?
Besides just learning everything about water lilies and aquatic plants which I knew nothing about, one thing that stood out for me was meeting Danny Cox, the aquatics specialist at the garden, and seeing someone so young have such passion for his plants. “Water lilies are the sexy part of water gardening” he’s quoted in the article saying. While still in high school he got a part-time job at the garden and got obsessed with water gardening, went on to get a degree in environmental studies and now oversees over 300 water lilies on the property.
How did you get so close to the delicate flowers and manage the variety of bloom times?
I loved getting in waders and walking through the different ponds to approach the most prized lily. Some were only knee-deep, but a few we were up to our waists while shooting. It was also nice to have the luxury of time for this shoot to be able to approach the flowers at the exact time of day when they would be open to their fullest and the lighting would be best, including the night-bloomers which we caught early morning.
How did hurricane Irma effect the garden?
The story is actually kinda bittersweet, because a few days after we left, the entire garden was completely destroyed by hurricane Irma. I believe after much cleanup and recovery, they were able to open the garden back later that fall, but the President noted that it would never look exactly the same as it did before the hurricane. The power of photography becomes even more evident in a scenario like this, where through these images, the garden as it once was can be remembered.
Design Director: Gail Bichler Director of Photography: Kathy Ryan Photo Editor: Stacy Baker Art Director: Matt Wiley Deputy Art Director: Ben Grandgenett Concept by: Declan Company/Pablo Declan Props: Pink Sparrow Photo Illustration:Jamie Chung
Heidi: How many people collaborated on this cover?
Jamie: The New York Times Magazine hired Pablo Delcan to concept the story. Then the prop make by the company Pink Sparrow. Then it was my turn to make Pablo’s sketches come to life. In addition to the camera work I also handled the retouch. New York times designer Ben Grandgenett came to set, we worked on tailoring the photography to meet his layout ideas. Photo Editor for the Times, Stacey Baker produced the project, overseeing the whole process.
Was the process long?
The entire project from concept to printed magazine happened super quick- one of the exciting things about a weekly magazine.
What was the most creative obstacle for the cover?
We shot the cover image with a variety of lighting scenarios and a various backgrounds. Ultimately we picked a clean, minimal treatment. We shot a stand in arm/ hand for placement and shadow, then the final robot hand was created in CG- I love it when the process and concept align.
How many options did you shoot?
For the cover image there was 14 options, but some of the variations were slight- like bottom jaw on/off, little rotations, background tones, etc.
Creative Director: Robert Festino Photo Director: Jennifer Dorn Deputy Design Director: Jennie Chang Managing Art Director: Cheyne Gateley Photographer:Art Streiber
Heidi: Were you star struck? Art: Going in, I was a bit concerned about Gaga’s star power and how that might manifest itself; we were shooting in her garage, on her terms, and I really didn’t know which way the shoot would go.
But from the second she introduced herself (hours before we started working) wearing sweats and no makeup, I was immediately put at ease. She was phenomenally collaborative and as she perched and balanced on a 4-foot wooden stool wearing 4-inch stilettos, her team said nothing…allowing her to move, pose and perform for the camera.
What stood out for you for this shoot?
This shoot is really an excellent example of the power of editorial photography and how great imagery can result from just one light, a backdrop and an endlessly giving subject. It’s so easy for us to get sucked into a “more is more” workflow and I have to remind myself that sometimes, all you need is one light…and no fill.
Did you always see it in black and white? Yes…I always saw this in black and white. And after taking to her about how she wanted to approach the shoot, stripped down, simple and unadorned, it confirmed my feeling that rendering the images in black and white was the right thing to do.
What was the conversation on set about? After Gaga stepped onto the backdrop, it was really all about the photos. Our give and take was effortless; she’d lead and I’d make suggestions, then I’d direct and she’d tweak my direction. Then she’d make a move and I’d ask her to adjust. Over the course of our shoot she took two breaks to take a look at the monitor, review what we’d accomplished, and improve on what she’d done.
You have an enormous body of celebrity work, what made this one different? What made this shoot different and unique was how Gaga performed for the camera, how much she gave, and how she continued to push and explore for 40 straight minutes. The bottom line is that Gaga cared about making great photos.
How did the concept for the shoot come about? Two weeks earlier, we had photographed Bradley Cooper, his DP, Costume Designer, Production Designer and his Editor, and we were supposed to have photographed Gaga with that group…but she was sick and didn’t make it. We photographed Cooper and his team on a Schmidli backdrop, in black and white with a single light source. Creative Director Robert Festino, Photo Director Jennifer Dorn and I were going for a 70’s-rock-band-group-shot look…a la Fleetwood Mac. So…we had the “one light on a grey backdrop” look in our back pocket two weeks later when we were set to photograph Gaga.
We arrived at her house in Malibu, not really knowing what direction the shoot would take. Variety was featuring her on the cover and I thought we had to go “big” and “glam”. We walked the property and considered photographing her with one of her horses. But ultimately we landed on just sticking with the backdrop and it was Gaga who suggested that she just wear one of the shirts that Bradley Cooper wears in the movie…and a pair of knee-high stilettos.
Did you feel you were shooting her character or her? No question…I was photographing Gaga, but I was photographing that day’s incarnation of Gaga. My feeling is that her character in the movie is as close to “Stephanie” as she gets when she’s in front of a camera. When she’s photographed, she takes on a version of her persona; she decides what she wants to wear and how she wants her hair and makeup done…and that’s it. About 25 minutes into the shoot, after looking at a few images on the monitor, she turned to everyone and said, “I’m going to go get a hat…I’ll be right back.” She returned with a black bolero which she used as the perfect exclamation point to the rest of her outfit.
Tell us put the image with her finger on her nose. Another collaboration. I asked her to go into a profile and once there, she very slowly ran her index finger down the length of her nose. All I could do was try to keep up.
How much time did you have?
We were told we had an hour with her…but after 20 minutes we had an incredible array of imagery…and we kept going for another 20 minutes. And from 1438 frames I turned in 99 First Selects.
Creative Director: Jim Turner
Associate Art Director: Isaac von Hallberg Photographer:Mario Kroes
Heidi: Was this a personal project you expanded on for the magazine? Mario: Flaunt had contacted me about a week and a half before their due date, asking if I was interested in shooting a story around furniture. I was apprehensive at first, because of the time constraints as well as having to shoot people and furniture together. I love a good challenge though, so I agreed to tag along.
How did this concept come about? The original concept came from Flaunt. The collaboration came about when we started narrowing down the subjects and furniture pieces to use in the shoot. I like to come very prepared, so I spent a good amount of time trying to find references and inspirational images. I couldn’t find a lot though, so I just had a few loose concepts and decided to figure it out day of when the models and furniture showed up in the studio.
The project merges your love of shape/form and fashion. Did the objects drive the direction, or the human form? Definitely both sort of collided the day of. It’s hard to bend the furniture into a certain position, so I tried to find angles and positions that lent itself well to the overall composition.
Did you always see this in black and white? I try to get away with as much black and white as I can. I think for a story like this though, it’s so much better. The simplicity of black and white let the composition and shapes speak a lot more clearly. It would have been too busy in color, I think.
Heidi: What is your association with designer Stella Nolasco?
Erin: The day before Hurricane Maria , my college friend Stella Nolasco called me crying. “Its going to be really bad”. Stella was in Rome to try a treatment for her younger daughter who has asthma. Her Italian husband Sandro and her older daughter Daniella were at home in Puerto Rico. In the months after the hurricane Maria struck. We watched in horror as there was no electricity telecommunications for months. Everyone’s home was flooded, many of Stella’s staff lost everything.
How did the fashion show come about? Stella was able to keep some of her employees working to sew her collection with a generator when she was offered to show at New York Fashion Week to promote Puerto Rico.
The fashion show began with a video by the Foundation for Puerto Rico, featuring islanders rebuilding and inviting mainlanders to come back. The models walked on the runway with a protest sign that said Can’t Say American without the Rican and We Are US Citizens. Without congressional representatives, it was apparent to me that the only way to keep Puerto Rico in the news and the Trump administration accountable was through famous Puerto Ricans posting on their instagram.
Tell me about the message on the T-shirt
When photo editor Jeff Campagna called me to photograph John Leguizamo for the Smithsonian Ingenuity awards, I was so excited. Leguizamo has a one man show which is currently streaming on Netflix called Latin History for Morons. Leguizamo has been an incredible advocate for Puerto Rico and I wanted the photo to speak to his support. I called Stella right away and asked her to design a shirt based on her runway protest sign for him. Leguizamo appreciated the shirt and recently has been using the image for his Instagram and Twitter profile. When we were design students at Drexel University back in the day, I don’t think we would have ever dreamed this up.
You have a deep interest in social issues with your work, how did this develop for you?
I enjoy photographing people who are helping others with their art or their service. It is inspiring to be around creative people who are making art to educate the public and make a statement. I do a lot of pro-bono work for different artists and organizations; sometimes it leads to paid work.
Erin’s Pro-Bono work includes:
The Women’s March
I photographed Pratt professor and artist Gina Gregorio’s wood stenciled head pieces for the Women’s March in 2016. The profits from selling them went to Brooklyn Community Services.
Planned Parents I worked with Michaela Angela Davis and Michelle Willems to do a social media campaign to show PP support for an important and often overlooked issue: accessible healthcare for women of color. The campaign dubbed #LiberatedWoman aims to draw attention to the lack of visibility and care given to minority women’s reproductive health, especially in disadvantaged communities.
Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Foundation I spent a few days at making a photo library to show the clinical work their musical therapists do with their clients. Their therapists work with a broad range of people, including children with autism and other special needs and individuals under psychiatric care.
Resistance Revival Chorus
This is a collective of more than 60 women who come together to sing protest songs in the spirit of collective resistance. As soon as I saw them I approached them to photograph them. There is such joy in their group of powerful women.