Posts by: Heidi Volpe
Director of Photography: Allyson Torrisi
Associate Photo Editor Devon Baverman
Photographer: Tony Luong
How often to you work for Popular Mechanics? Was this your first assignment for them?
This was my first assignment for Popular Mechanics, I have done another since then which is great. The whole way the shoot came about was quite crazy when I think about it. Allyson Torrisi called me the day of the shoot pretty much, asked if I was available and asked if I would be interested in shooting it. I immediately said yes as I had been eager to shoot for them. I was actually shooting another assignment when she got in touch with me so I immediately wrapped up that first shoot, went home only to pack another bag, upload my memory cards and book a hotel room since there was a driving ban in effect starting that evening. All of this happened in a matter of a few hours, I can’t thank Allyson enough for putting that trust into me arranging for all of that happen and shooting the assignment as it was my first time being thrown into that kind of situation.
Are driving bans common in Boston around that time of year? And is that a regular line item on your checklist: Can I drive?
Driving bans, absolutely. Especially when there are anticipated snow storms like the ones we had this year. Boston has such small and windy roads that it makes it almost impossible to plow and have things run smoothly at the same time. It really becomes a mess. Luckily though, the city makes good calls during those times as the whole place is running back to normal in a day or so after just getting 3 feet of snow. As for driving, no, not at all. I usually carry 3 or 4 bags when I go on a shoot so a car is good to have and we do have public transportation but fortunately, I only needed one bag for this assignment.
What are your best tips for shooting in freezing conditions?
Hand warmers for your batteries and snow pants paired with good boots. I was constantly in knee deep snow trying to keep up with Jim since he’s a pretty active weatherman. He would randomly turn around while he was on set and go jump in the snow, snow show and make snow angels, I would then follow – I couldn’t have done that if I wasn’t wearing snow pants and boots. I also brought multiples of gloves to swap out, when one pair got wet, I would let them dry in the news truck and rotate them throughout the day.
Was it hard to light Jim for the portrait and did you use any of their lighting ( when he was broadcasting the news… )
At times it was but you make do with what you have and think on your feet about how to apply the supplied light to the picture you’re trying to make. This type of shoot lent itself to a faster paced type of shooting so I had a flash on a bracket the whole but I also utilized the lights the camera crews use which were great and a lot of fun as well. Since the shoot started at 3am, I got to see the light temperature change dramatically and was able to bounce off of that throughout the day. Other times, I would ask Jim to move in a different spot or shift him to the other side and so on and so forth. For the most part, he was in front of the TV-camera being lit by their lights or in the truck tweeting his heart out.
How did you protect your gear and try and keep your fingers warm? I’d imagine adjusting cameras is hard if you have gloves on.
The night prior after checking into the hotel, I went down to a store and bought a bunch of plastic bags and rubber bands. I kept those items in my jacket along with some gaffers tape and would cut holes in the bags and tape/use the rubber bands to make seals around specific parts of the camera. I don’t have one of those fancy camera covers so it was super lo-fi but it worked. The thing I realized also was that after a certain temperature, the snow would just bounce off the front of my lens, once it started warming up – that was when things started to get wet and cause problems. Fortunately, since the news casting truck was only a few yards from where Jim was reporting from, I was able to retreat and dry off, warm up, have a snack and put a new bag on the camera if I needed to. I also used those gloves with the detachable fingers, but again, I only had a few hours to really prepare so I took out all the winter gear I had and brought it with me.
Why was the call time 3 am? and was it clear you’d be shooting for 12 hrs?
Jim and his crew were traveling to boston the day that I got the call about the assignment and since the storm was scheduled to begin that following morning at around 2am, it was only obvious enough to begin then. When Allyson briefed me on the shoot, we both knew it would be best to begin shooting as early as possible to catch Jim in his prime. Since Jim is also notorious for jumping into the thick of when weather gets intense, he wanted to be the first one out reporting on the snow before anybody. That said, I knew I would be shooting for a good deal of time but I also wanted to spend that time with Jim since I had seen so many videos of him on Youtube. All that said, we ended up walking back to his hotel together, had a good lunch together and said our goodbyes as he went back up to his room to sleep and rest back up before his next segment. It was a fun way to see both sides of Jim and make pictures of it all at the same time.
Some additional images form the shoot
Who printed it?
Who designed it?
Who edited the images?
I did with the help of a photographer friend, Pamela Gentile.
How many did you make?
I made 50 5.5 x 8.5 inch booklets for $95.69. The cover is card stock. The inside paper is a little thin–you can see through the pages a little. Next time I’ll order the higher quality paper.
How many times a year do you send out promos?
Several times a year I send out 5 x 7 inch postcards, this is the first booklet I’ve ever made.
How did this series start?
This series started with my (somewhat disgusting) interest in flattened food containers that I would find on the street. I first photographed them as objects either on a light table or on black. I realized I liked the x-ray quality of the light table best. Then I started trying to limit the series to fast food, food containers and plastic forks, knives and spoons. I was really limited by what I could shoot because everything had to be translucent. I tried a lot of ideas but gradually realized the best ones weren’t too literal.
What niche do you see this publication fulfilling?
I had been toying with the idea of this magazine for a couple of years, and when my daughter was born last year, I knew I finally had to do something. Its really concerning that we put unrealistic beauty expectations on our young women through ridiculous levels of retouching and body warping, so I wanted to start a fashion magazine to help change that. EDWARD features all natural, un-retouched models in raw, beautiful editorials. It highlights amazing styles and gives our daughters something to aspire to that is actually obtainable.
All black and white and no retouching? tell us about that– what type of photographic statement are you trying to make.
The aesthetic is all centered around creating a publication that is true and aspirational. Simplicity. Something that blurs the line between art and commerce. Retouching has gotten so out of control that models in fashion magazines barely resemble people. Just google “liquify in photoshop”, and you can see what I mean. This publication will be the opposite of mainstream fashion magazines in every way. We plan to have advertising, but only as native, sponsored stories, so as not to detract from the overall feel of the piece.
How much harder are the photos to take now that you’re not retouching?
Its really not difficult to make a beautiful woman in stylish clothes look amazing on film. Choice of lighting, posing, hair, makeup, and clothing make all the difference. We didn’t have these photoshop tools decades ago, and our idea of realistic body image was much more realistic and healthy. Our contributors see it as a challenge, and I agree. If you cannot make beautiful art without creating it all in the computer, you are not a true artist in my mind.
So you retouching NONE of the images, correct?
Correct. Only basic light adjustments like brightness and contrast are allowed. No skin retouching, cloning, or body warping of any kind are allowed.
How does the casting go down?
Casting is a collaborative process with our artists. The photographers produce the shoots, and we simply ask for sign-off on the major players before the shoot date arrives. We hate to intervene in the creative process, so we rarely change anything, unless it is something that really needs remedying.
Are you shooting the bulk of the images?
I plan to shoot one editorial per issue. We have dozens of photographers from around the world, along with amazing stylists, models, and other crew who are all contributing their time to this project.
What’s the business idea behind this and are you seeking any funding?
We are actively seeking investors and subscribers. We know this project can be very viable as an art book style quarterly or monthly publication. In addition to the publication itself, we are working on other products such as art prints that can help better compensate the artists we work with in the longer term.
What was the catalyst for this idea? I know you recently had a daughter, are you trying to send out the right messages to men and women?
Yes I have been disgusted with the state of retouching in commercial photography for a while now. Having a daughter last year finally made me want to do something about it. We need to be creating a world where people are happy about themselves and their bodies. And while I do think it is important to eat well, exercise, pay attention to ones appearance, it is impossible for people to live up to models that have been warped and manipulated into something unobtainable. Women in American culture unfortunately have more unrealistic expectations to live up to, so that is why EDWARD focuses on them.
Do you think as society ( most female beauty images ) we are prone to not believe photography any longer? Are you trying to give us hope?
I think that most intelligent people are well aware that mainstream imagery in magazines is far from truthful. But even if people know that intellectually, it is easy to forget when looking at an individual image. I am not trying to give anyone hope, I am simply trying to steer the industry in a more truthful direction.
How much longer does it take to finding the correct angles to mitigate the need for retouching?
A good photographer should be finding those angles already, so for me it was not much of an adaptation. I think the lighting, and paying close attention to hair and makeup is the most important part. Softer, moodier lighting tends to be come conducive to creating the right mood for EDWARD.
Why did you call it Edward?
EDWARD is my middle name. For me, it brings up the image of a proper British gentleman, reliant on logic and truth. He appreciates the finer things in life, and values honesty and character above all else. He loves women, and more importantly, respects them.
What’s the best way for people to reach out to you?
They should email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Who printed it?
The card was from Modern Postcard, www.modernpostcard.com and the screen wipes are from www.4allpromos.com.
Who designed it?
Yee Wong at 52kilo, www.52kilo.com
Who edited the images? Did it come with images?
I edited the images myself along with input from my agents Katie and Kristy at K2 Creative Management, www.k2creativemanagement.com
The screen wipes did not come with images. I shot all images.
How many did you make?
About 250. I think that was the minimum order allowed for the screen wipes.
How many times a year do you send out promos?
I try to send out physical promos about 4 times a year and intersperse an email promo between those mailings. So together I’m sending out about 8 pros a year. Depending on my available budget.
How did this idea develop?
This promo came out of my agent K2 Creative Management asking me to do a more involved unique physical promo piece. Before this I only ever send out postcards just because they are the most budget friendly. Sometimes the postage actually costs more than the printed card! Reluctantly I came up with a few ideas based on the end user receiving a product that they could actually use. That was important to me that the piece actually be a little useful. Once we decided on what the physical item was going to be, the screen wipes, we came up with a few tag lines and I started to brainstorm image ideas that could relate to the product. This was the 1st time I actually shot images specifically for promo use. Before this I just used images I had shot for other jobs as just kind of an update of my work. I think actually shooting dedicated images for a promo concept really helped make this piece stand out and be a cohesive idea. Its good to have someone, my agent in this case, pushing you to step it up.
If you’d like to send promos for review I’d love to check them out:
21135 Colina Rd
Associate Photo Editor/Editor: Jenna Garrett
Writer: Jakob Schiller
Read the online piece here
Photographer: Ethan Pines
Heidi: How did you find out about the Science Fair?
Ethan: A close friend of mine is one of the directors of judging, and every year he tells me that I need to come and shoot — that it’s full of quirky, imaginative kids with inventive projects and large personalities. And it’s never been covered well. This year I finally decided to do it.
What about the fair appealed to you? Had you seen an image/student that compelled you to take it on as a personal project?
I’d seen a few snapshots on the Science Fair website from past years, but until I arrived at the Fair I hadn’t seen anything conveying the spirit of the kids, the uniqueness of their projects and the atmosphere of the day. And I think it’s all these elements that appealed to me. I was a bit of a geek as a kid, but I always wanted to be one of the cool kids. And I think that was a mistake. What I admire and love about the kids at the Science Fair is, they absolutely believe in themselves and their visions. They’re not there to win or to get famous, but because they’re proud of what they’ve done and are excited to show it off.
It’s also the kind of portrait series that, if you choose the right kids, almost can’t go wrong. It’s easy to focus on gear and lighting and technique, but photography is really about the subjects and the content, and it doesn’t get better than this. It was amazing — over 900 kids and projects, all of whom won regionally or locally to get here, all of whom converge on the California Science Center in downtown L.A. with their ill-fitting suits, their adolescent awkwardness, their earnest enthusiasm, their fairly mind-blowing projects.
I’m also a longtime fan of science fiction, and ultimately that’s what many of these projects are — new ways of thinking about problems, imaginative forays into the future.
Did you set out to have it published? or was this purely a creative exercise for you?
I always hoped to publish it somewhere but didn’t get much interest beforehand. So I thought I’d go and shoot something good, then send it out afterwards. I wanted to make photo editors’ jobs as easy as possible — get something in front of them practically ready to go. The Science Center was also generous and trusting enough to give me a media pass and full access without a specific editorial assignment, so I wanted to make sure I did right by them. They and the Fair deserve the coverage.
What’s the difference between shooting this type of series and let’s say a client job? How does your creative process or mental process compare?
Of course I can do whatever I want with a personal series, as opposed to a client job with a specific creative mandate. But what I did is exactly what I would have done if a magazine had assigned me the shoot. If an advertising gig sent me to the Fair, there would have been a lot more discussion and preparation beforehand regarding the ultimate purpose and use of the images, the client’s and agency’s creative direction, the message we wanted to convey, what some of our ideal images might be, etc. And I would have put a lot of thought into how to direct the kids, how to dramatize the client’s goal and agency’s ideas, what moments I’d be looking for, what scenarios I’d want to create, and how to make all that happen. And of course how to light it, what gear I’d need, what crew, what preproduction, and so on.
Since this was a personal series, my preproduction focused on how I wanted it to look, how to light it to get it there, and how to rig a battery-powered, portable strobe setup that my assistant and I could easily move around and manipulate in small areas. There was a lot of coordination beforehand with the Science Center, and I went the day before to scout. I also put some thought into creating a well-rounded photo essay — including details, still-lifes of projects, overviews of the exhibition rooms — rather than just a portrait series. As for directing and the content of the shots, I’ve shot so many portraits by now, I didn’t do much preparation beforehand. Between the kids themselves and the way I shoot, I felt I’d end up with what I was looking for. Too much preparation for something like this, and you can end up focused on a preconceived agenda rather than what’s happening in front of you.
How did you determine who would be shot/made the edit?
Determining whom to shoot was tough. Not because there weren’t enough good subjects, but because there were too many. Nearly 1,000 entrants and projects, and only a four-hour window when the kids are out with their projects for judging. Once we were inside I skimmed the aisles of one main area to find the first few interesting-looking kids with interesting-looking projects, After those, I did it again in the next area. Any one of those hundreds of kids could have been a complete gem to shoot; I just had to choose and run with it. And make it as good as possible once we were shooting.
What did you say to the kids to get them to open up? did anyone turn you down?
I’d simply stop at a kid, tell him/her I was shooting portraits, and ask if I could photograph him/her. It helped to have a media pass on my shirt and be the guy with the strobes flashing at various places around the Science Center. No one turned me down. Most of them seemed eager to share what they had worked on. And if they were a bit embarrassed, that also makes for a good portrait.
Once we were shooting, I watch for good moments, shoot the moments between the poses, talk with them, get them animated and expressive, work with whatever presents itself spontaneously, and make sure I get what I have in my head as well.
Once you saw the body of work, what were the key factors in choosing Wired over let’s say another tech publication?
Choosing Wired was a no-brainer. It’s the highest-profile and lushest tech publication out there. I think it’s one of the best-designed and -edited publications, period, tech or otherwise. I’ve shot for them before, so I thought that my pitch email would at least get read.
What did you pitch consist of? How many images, what was the crux of the text?
I edited down the shoot to a tight 21-image photo essay that I laid out in a .pdf with a title page and simple captions. I emailed it to Wired with a brief explanation of the Science Fair, and let the .pdf speak for itself. Once they accepted it, they asked me for a broader edit. I sent them everything that I’d be happy to see in print / online, and let them create the final series. Their version and mine ended up fairly close, so I felt that they understood the essence of the project.
Ross Chandler Creative ( rosschandler.ca ) designed my promo. I had the initial concept of the mix-and-match interactive triptych, and Ross helped me work through the creative process, problem-solving, finessing and printing process. This was actually the second time I had worked with him. Earlier that year he and I worked on designing my website, logo, and branding. He even designed a secondary logo that uses my web URL, AARONCOBB.COM, put together cleverly with the use of images from my website. They can also be mixed and matched. It was a great experience all around, Ross worked his ass off.
Somerset Graphics in Toronto printed my promo piece.
I edited the images. I knew before the shoot days that everything needed to be clean, minimal and symmetrical.
I have been sending out the promos about twice a year, but also as needed. If there is a potential client I feel I would be a good fit with, I will send one their way.
I had photographed Rashel (the female talent), and Gentleman Reg (the blonde talent) in Toronto, and had been trying to organize a shoot with the third and final talent for the project. Larry Gomez, aka the Wolfboy, lives in Los Angeles, and works part-time in a circus there. He has hypertrichosis which is an abnormal amount of hair growth all over the body. It is also known as Werewolf Syndrome. I was interested in taking his portrait before this promo idea came about, but once I was working on this promo, I knew that he was the final piece of the puzzle. He has a circus agent in LA named Chuck Harris. I found his contact info and gave him a call. Chuck liked my work and agreed to help me with this creative project as long as I took his portrait as well. It took several weeks to co-ordinate schedules and draw up a contract that the images were solely to be used for promotional purposes. I flew down to LA for a week, rented Beachwood Studios, and photographed Chuck and Larry. I got the images I wanted of Larry, and the added bonus of a cool image of Chuck smoking a cigar with his awesome Coke-bottle glasses.
Sift /A King Arthur Flour Publication
Creative Director: Ruth Perkins/Tamara Dowd
Photographer: Julia Reed
How did the project come about for you? Were they a former client?
I was actually hired at King Arthur Flour as a PR Coordinator in 2013. My background was in film and photography, but I saw an opportunity to bring those skills to King Arthur through PR. I was working as a food and lifestyle photographer in LA before moving back east (I grew up in Vermont) and had planned to continue my business here. I never imagined I’d end up in a marketing department, but King Arthur Flour is a wonderful company, known locally for its charitable giving and status as a founding B Corporation. They aren’t, however, as well known for these things on the national level. I felt like good companies need good storytellers and advocates too, so I took the job. About a year ago, I was officially promoted to Multimedia Producer, where I concentrate on telling our story through photography, writing, and video.
Oh man, everything and anything! I do most of our “lifestyle” photography, for bakeries/people of interest nationally, as well as internally. Many of those shoots end up in Sift, some are for our blog, Flourish. I am a contributor to our instagram feed, and I run our video program, which is still a bit of a one-man show. At the moment I write, produce, shoot, and edit all of our videos.
A deep appreciation for food is in my blood. My father was a chef and my mother was a baker; they met while working for the same restaurant. Growing up, everything we ate was made from scratch, and often from the garden. I never saw store-bought bread in the house, and we never went out to eat. Bones and vegetable scraps were saved, for building rich stocks that simmered on the woodstove all winter long. I vividly remember visiting my aunt in Boston when I was 13. She asked if I liked frozen waffles and I was SO excited to try them, because I had never had them before! I was seriously disappointed. We didn’t have much money when I was growing up, but my parents knew how to transform even the cheapest ingredients into rich and flavorful meals. I took my first job in a restaurant at 14 washing dishes, and worked my way up to waitress, and later, cook. I went to college in my early 20s, as a way to escape the restaurant industry – which is somewhat ironic in retrospect. In LA I started going to farmer’s markets – at first as a way to reduce my carbon footprint, but later because of my love for the people who grew my food. I felt such a strong connection with the farmers I’d see every week – their stories and personalities connected me to the land in such a real and tangible way. The experience brought me back to my roots, and eventually inspired my move back to New England. I started taking photos for farmers to use in their marketing efforts – it was my way of helping the community and people that meant so much to me. I started a short-lived blog, and began getting solicited for more food-oriented jobs. At King Arthur, I get to merge my two favorite styles – food and lifestyle. The bakers I work with remind me a lot of the farmers I knew in LA. The best ones have enormous passion for what they do, and an indefatigable drive to better their craft. Everyone comes to the table from a different direction, and for a different reason. When I photograph bakers for Sift, I always want to know what moves them to bake. Baked goods are as unique to their bakers as fingerprints are to people, and I like to photograph them as though I was taking a portrait of the maker themselves.
The biggest challenge for me personally was the timeline. We moved fast on this project, so I found myself rushing to meet deadlines for the premier issue, while simultaneously trying to collect images that we might want for future issues (fall foliage for instance – it happens without regard for your schedule!) As a team, we wanted to make sure that we weren’t just putting another food magazine into a saturated (and some say declining) market. Authenticity is what makes our company what it is, and we wanted that to come through in the magazine – I think it did. Our creative director Ruth Perkins, and our Editor Susan Reid worked hard to weave stories from many writers and photographers into one cohesive set. With the help of our agency HZDG, they put together a magazine we are all incredibly proud to have our name on. Also, it’s SO soft! Have you touched the cover? It just feels so luxurious and inviting, I couldn’t be more honored to have been a part of this team.
– Samples and/or link to your published work, please also include a list of where you have been published
Who printed it?
Who designed it?
I have been working with Peter Dennen of Pedro + Jackie, he has really helped me fine tune my images to create more of cohesive look/feel. Between the two of us, we came up with the design for the promo.
Peter and I decided on the images to be used and I did all of the retouching.
How many times a year do you send out promos?
I try to send out 4 mailers p/year and then send out 3-6 email promos in between the gaps of the printed pieces.
Ventura Blvd Magazine
Editor-in-Chief: Linda Grasso
Creative Director: Ajay Peckham
Graphic Designer: Elena Lacey, Michelle Villas
Photographer: Michael Becker
Heidi: Tell us about your commercial photography as a second career. What caused you to make the switch?
Michael: I was drawn to both music and photography from an early age. When I was 11 my grandfather, who was a professional photographer in Manhattan, gave me his beautiful old 1950’s Rolleiflex. I was immediately hooked. When I hit my teens, I became increasingly interested in music, particularly blues and jazz. I started playing guitar and ended up going to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. After graduating I moved to Los Angeles and spent the next 15 years in the studio making music.
Several things happened that ultimately led me back to photography. In the year 2000 there was a commercial actors strike that had a dramatic effect on some of my clients and my business as a composer/producer. Shortly after that, both my parents became very ill. I decided to move back to New York to help take care of them and to deal with the difficult transitions. It was then that I rediscovered my grandfather’s old Rolleiflex. Taking photos of my parents and the town where I grew up became both an escape and a way of documenting what my family was going through. There was something about the immediacy of photography that resonated with me. I was hooked all over again.
I know your first career was as a successful music composer, how do the two interplay, if at all?
They both have the incredible power to move people, and to reflect and comment on social conditions. After years of making music, I found photography refreshing in that I could make a photograph relatively quickly, whereas writing and producing a song can be a rather lengthy process.
My professional experience has been that both require a strong, individual voice or vision, but they are also fertile playgrounds for collaboration. I loved playing in bands and working in the studio with other musicians. Photography is also a great collaboration, starting with the entire creative team, through to the subject interaction with the photographer.
My biggest lesson from music carried forward into photography is to trust the creative process. Don’t set out to make something perfect, set out to make something authentic and then subject it to a heathy dose of scrutiny and refinement.
How did you execute the Mark Jacobson story? I understand you turned over a completely researched idea both editorially and photographically. How long did this process take?
I have been working with a wonderful editor and photography consultant, Lisa Thackaberry. I was interested in doing more editorial work in addition to my entertainment work. My wife, Staness Jonekos, had also done a major career switch from television executive producer to published author. It was Lisa that suggested we find an interesting story to tell and work as a team doing the story and photography. She suggested we pitch magazines directly and thought going in with a complete article might be a viable way to get published. Since staffing and budgets are down in editorial, it made sense to try and create our own opportunity.
My wife immediately remembered our first encounter with Mark when I started working in entertainment and thought it might be an interesting story. I loved the idea and reached out to him to see if he would be open to doing it. After explaining our intentions, he agreed and we set up the first interview. It wasn’t until we sat down with him that we realized what a rich history there was with him and his father Irving. Irving had quite a remarkable career prior to inventing the first camera sound blimp. From the time I first called Mark to when the article was published this month, took almost a year.
What compelled you to share this story and why this magazine?
To our surprise, there had been almost nothing written about the sound blimp. Just Mark’s web site and a couple of mentions in users’ blogs. Such an obscure thing, surely there must be an interesting story. It’s been a part of film and television publicity and marketing for decades. Many film marketing one-sheets are made from the unit stills shot by the onset photographer. Shots that could never have been captured with a noisy camera snapping away during an actual take.
Once again it was Lisa Thackaberry that suggested we pitch it to Ventura Blvd Magazine (VB). She thought the local business angle was a great fit since his shop is in Studio City. VB does fantastic stories on local businesses and they still dedicate a luxurious amount of space to photographs.
Were you surprised that this story hadn’t been told as it’s such an important part of photo history?
We were definitely surprised at how little information was out there. In general, on set photographers are there for the publicity and marketing teams, not as part of the actual production. The very nature of the job requires a certain amount of stealth, thus I think it gets somewhat overlooked.
What compelled you to ask about the family history?
We were aware that it was Mark’s father who originally invented the first blimp. We were just curious what prompted him to design such a seemingly proprietary piece of gear. What kind of demand could there possibly have been at the time other than a few one-offs. Now blimps are used everywhere, from television and film sets to theater productions, golf tournaments, etc. Any place the clicking of a camera is a distraction to the action.
Was Mark surprised that the story made the cover? ( ie…not a publishers idea of a sexy subject )
He was completely blown away that he made the cover. We all were! Linda Grasso, Editor-in-Chief, and the amazing design team at VB literally picked our favorite photograph from the whole shoot to use on the cover. We couldn’t have been happier with the layout.
I think there’s great value in local publications and being connected to community, is that why you pitched this to Ventura Blvd?
Yes, it just seemed like a great fit given the proximity and the fact that VB is still prominently featuring photography. Plus we live in the hills above Studio City so it felt like it was relevant to us as both members of the community, and also the industry.
I know you shot Nancy Cartwright for the magazine, did you ask her to do her Bart Simson for you?
I did not, but I know she’s all too happy to oblige when someone asks.
What were you trying to capture when you photographed her and was it hard to separate her from that iconic voice?
Nancy is an incredibly talented voice over artist and an explosive bundle of energy. I simply tried to capture the exuberance she has for her new passion with sculpting. Clearly Bart is an inseparable part of her that she embraces and is protective of. I completely enjoyed the time the three of us spent together!
Who printed it?
Grogtag.com printed the coasters. I went with the premium double sided. More expensive, but worth it in this instance.
Who designed it?
I designed it myself. I minored in Design/Art Direction in college, which doesn’t qualify me to handle the job, but I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted one side with an image and a very “low key” mention of my website, and then the other side to be very clear about what my name is and how to find me.
Who edited the images?
I edited myself. I had a plan to make a set of 4 coasters. I had three images I already wanted to incorporate, so I then shot an additional image (Peticolas) to round out the feel of the set.
How many did you make?
I started small. Only 100 of each coaster. I wanted to target the local breweries, plus the more established craft breweries across the nation. I’ve had such a great response to them, I will either print more, or make a new set to send out.
How many beers did you drink to make this?
I love love love beer, but I generally won’t crack one open unless my client for the day wants to, or at least the final shot is on set.
For the Peticolas image, I needed to create several “pours” which means I needed to continually empty the glass until I got the hero shot. Of course I didn’t want to move the glass (I had focus/lighting exactly how I wanted it,) so I channeled my previous rookie-drinking-self and drank from a straw.
Anyone that has enjoyed the Peticolas Velvet Hammer understands why I quickly decided it was in everybody’s best interest for me to discard instead of consuming the beer. It is truly smooth like velvet, but will quickly hit you like a hammer if you’re not careful.
How many times a year do you send out promos?
I TRY to send out quarterly, or at least twice a year.
I know you’ve been home brewing since 2012, it this what prompted a beer promo?
I’ve been a huge fan of craft beer for several years. Texas recently opened up the laws making it easier for small breweries to sell their brews. There’s been such an explosion of quality breweries here, I decided it was a great excuse for a promo. Unfortunately, the cost per piece is still out of reach for the smaller guys, but I look forward to working with them once they’re ready to make a bold marketing statement.
Photo by Erin Davis Smithison
Los Angeles Magazine
Creative Director: Steven Banks
Art Director: Carly Hebert
Photo Editor: Amy Feitelberg
Photographer: Nicole LaMotte
Heidi: I know your astrology sign is cancer, how much to you think that plays into your love of shooting home/interiors and your philanthropic work?
Nicole: I definitely think my astrology sign plays into my love of interiors…cancers are home bodies at heart, always needing a home to call their own. Even as a child, I was always aware of my sense of home, rearranging furniture in my room to create a different feeling (or maybe just trying to get a better pov for camera ;)) As an undergrad I studied photojournalism at Columbia College in Chicago and without realizing it until later was the very first books I bought were interiors. I bought the “Family Houses by the Sea” by Alexandra D’Arnoux and then Isle Crawford’s “The Sensual Home”. I am drawn to the feelings that a curated space can provide. The philanthropic work really helps to balance me out. As a cancer, I am definitely sensitive and not just about my own feelings. The first time I traveled to Haiti and saw the looks in the the eyes of the orphans, I had a visceral reaction that compelled me to go back and find ways to help. One way was through my pictures, but I also recruited an artist friend, Rebecca Farr, to come along and bring the gift of art and self-expression to the children.
You were also a photo editor, where you always shooting and editing?
I have been shooting most of my life, it just has not always been my livelihood. In my twenties I had a career in the corporate travel world which not only gave me a great business background but also afforded some amazing travel benefits…and that is when I would do most of my shooting–while on my travels. I would love coming back from a trip and editing the pictures and making a book (the old fashioned way, with prints and albums). But, when I turned 30, I decided it was time to get back to photography which is when I transitioned into the magazine world. My photo editing career started at Santa Barbara Magazine and then ended at C Magazine. I worked with Margot Frankel at both places, she brought me down to LA to help launch C Magazine.
Is it hard to edit your own work? What’s your process?
Depending on what I am editing, the process can be very difficult. Shooting a story tethered is relatively easy, with the exception of portraits, as you are able to watch the story develop. When not shooting tethered, I will usually do a first pass edit with one rating and then wait as long as I can (depending on assignment due date) and take a second pass which usually consists of looking at the rated ones and knocking some down. Sometimes I find it helpful to look at a shoot in the “proof shoot” view, again going back to my photojournalism training, and looking at images smaller to see what grabs me. When editing for a show or my website, I always need an outside perspective as I cannot easily separate myself from my work.
When did you decided dedicated yourself to photography only?
After spending about six years as a photo editor, I decided that it was really time to go out on my own. Producing shoots became less fulfilling and I needed to focus on my passions.
What was your big break?
My big break really came from a dear friend, Andrea Stanford, who had come from the magazine world and was launching a new division at One Kings Lane. She needed a photographer to shoot the leading interior design tastemakers for online sales. I helped her to establish the processes and then began shooting regularly which allowed me to support myself. It was an incredible feeling to have such a supporter – someone that believes in you completely. I ultimately started working at the company full time, and did so for 2 years, which granted me incredible access to the interior design world. And I loved meeting all of the interesting people and shooting such a range of spaces from super layered to incredibly streamlined.
You have a strong understanding of the narrative arc, does that stem from your magazine editing work?
As a photo editor, I worked closely alongside an incredibly talented creative director, Margot Frankel. I would sit with her while she laid out stories, so I really did gain an incredible understanding of how images can tell a story and the need for scale changes; she has an incredible way of laying out images that is unexpected and fluid. Being on shoots as the photo editor also allowed me to observe the process of developing the story arc.
How often do you work for LA Magazine?
This was my first time working for LA Magazine. They had seen my other story on Lulu and wanted to house so there was not a ton of direction on the story. The writer was on set for this one so we were able to collaborate on the important elements of the house/story as it unfolded. It is always nice when you can get tidbits of the interview to help inform the richer part of the story; I find you can uncover a lot layers this way, like maybe a collection that isn’t full on display or pieces of art that are significant. The magazine asked for coverage and gave me a template of the house layouts to use as a loose reference. They wanted to be sure I covered as much as possible in both a horizontal and vertical format to help with the layout and maximizing the images for a four page story.
What are some key tips for shooting people in their environments?
When shooting someone in their environment I like to have conversations with them about their house and what spaces they use the most so that they are comfortable in the environment. Lulu is use to being photographed so I didn’t need to worry as much with her. Sometimes it is nice to have the homeowner in a space that otherwise might not feel complete, in the case of Lulu, I loved the front entrance with the rug down and the assortment of jars but felt like it would be much livelier with her in it (and to avoid a dark whole which the door would be).
What happens on a cloudy day when you have a job? Do you try and simulate sunlight?
Cloudy days are actually good, except when you are shooting people as it brings down the overall light. I try to avoid the harsh light when shooting interiors and move around the house accordingly. I really like the feel of natural light. The challenge is when I have to light someone and making it feel cohesive with the rest of the story which is natural light. So I work from my ambient and then add just a pop to to give a little direction without looking too lit.
Who designed it?
I designed it.
Who edited the images?
How many did you make?
It’s an ongoing campaign/process as I make them by hand, which takes some time. So I pop off a few every time I get a chance, and am sending them out gradually.
How many times a year do you send out promos?
This was my first time sending out a promo. I love printing them, bundling them up, and shipping them out. It’s like making a nice gift for someone you want to like you, and hoping they enjoy what they receive. I aim to send out a nice package 3 times a year from now on. I already have the next one designed in my head and I can’t wait to make it.
Where did you get the pencils and wood grain paper?
Pencils are from a local shop, and the paper and boxes are from Paper Source. Paper Source is full of cool stuff for making promos.
This promo stemmed from a very fun job, so I wanted to show it off in a nice little package. Michelle Kohanzo, the Creative Director of The Land of Nod hired me to make fine art photographs for their stores to sell. She was completely open creatively, and totally supportive to my team and I. It was a dream job working with her. We got to shoot in Wisconsin, at a camp that has been many different things in the past, a speakeasy in prohibition days, a church camp, and a brothel! We got to stay overnight in the cabins there overlooking the lake. It rained and stormed a great deal on the shoot day but it all worked out great!
Who printed it?
Who designed it?
Who edited it?
The promo was printed, designed, edited, cut, glued and assembled 100% by me. I’m a maker of sorts (which is why I like to brand myself as a “Picture Maker”) and I hand make many of my own props and sets for shoots. If there’s something I’m looking for but I can’t buy it anywhere, I’ll just make it. I’ve done anything from cooking, sewing, building, screen printing, painting, hot-gluing – you name it, I have probably done it for a shoot or in life. I like working with my hands, so building and crafting are something that comes pretty naturally for me. I spend a lot of weekends at home with power tools and a glue gun.
The original idea for the promo was to make an old-school Valentine, but the downside of making everything by hand is it takes a lot of time. So, I’m still in the process of sending some of them out! But I think the message is universal, so I don’t think people will mind if they receive them post-Valentines day (I hope!) To date, I’ve probably sent out about 75, but have plans to send out about 200.
The typography is consistent with my branding (I also designed my logo out of a silhouette of my head); Everything I do is hand made and hand-tailored for a specific subject or the client, so I’m really thoughtful of the “whole package” and how the design, layout, etc, all come into play for the final product. I also think people really like having an interactive experience, and getting mail with your name hand-lettered, adds to the interactivity of the promo. The idea was to make the envelopes look kind of like a love letter (or I’m “in like with you”) and I really wanted them to pop when people saw them on their desks. I wanted to make something fun that people would want to share.
Editor-in-Chief: Eric Celeste
Designer: Caleb Bennett
Creative Director: Samuel Solomon
Editor-in-Chief: Eric Celeste
Heidi: How did this job come about for you?
Samuel: Years ago, I worked with Genome’s founding Editorial Director, Eric Celeste, while at American Airlines’ inflight, American Way. We always had a great working relationship during our time there, so he reached out about the Creative Director position when things were first getting off the ground.I jumped at the opportunity because I felt like it would be a chance to build something meaningful from the ground up, and had a lot of potential to become a great product.
Did you choose healthcare consciously as an editorial pursuit? It seems as though that would be a very solid career path. Smart.
Not healthcare specifically, but I’ve always had a personal interest in science, and looking back I’ve often gravitated towards projects which had a philanthropic element or could contribute something of real value for the audience. Not to draw a comparison to Tibor Kalman, but I always admired the editorial work he was able to do at Colors, and that sort of social consciousness has always been very appealing. There is a lot of promise in the field of genomics and personalized medicine for helping people with chronic diseases, so to be able to work on a magazine that can have real impact is great. The bonus is that from a design perspective, science and medicine have such a huge visual vocabulary to draw from.
Who publishes it and how many times a year does it come out?
Genome is a quarterly published by Big Science Media, and is the core product around which the media company is built. All of our content lives in both the print edition and online at genomemag.com. We’re in the process of closing our fifth issue (Summer 2015) right now.
How big is your staff?
Well, I am the entire art department if that says anything. It helps that we publish quarterly, and I occasionally bring on some outside help when needed. So yeah, we are a pretty lean operation — 5 in our Dallas office, our Editor-in-Chief in the Bay area, and we are growing our sales staff outside the Dallas area.
Are you also the Photo Director?
More or less. I do all of the research, assigning, editing and color work.I’d say the vast majority of our imagery is conceptual in nature, so there’s also a good deal of illustration in the book.
Medicine can a dry subject, what is your creative mantra to combat that?
Well, our writers and editors are great at making these topics accessible for a broad audience, which in turn makes my job a lot easier.If you look at the existing visual vernacular of genomics, you see a ton of glowing 3-d helixes, walls of ACGT text, scientists hard at work in the lab. My challenge is to try to avoid the clichés, and find a fresh way to speak to these topics.For the first issue, I wanted to see if we could do an entire issue without a single helix. We came close — I think there was exactly one. But it was a super smart solution by the Milan-based illustrator, Alessandro Gottardo.
How did the idea of the suit come about for the disease story?
We work out which story will be featured on the cover for each issue during editorial meetings. Usually it’s something with broad appeal — topics that affect everyone like family, technology, food, etc.
For this particular cover, I had to find a way to communicate disease inheritance that would be really immediate for the reader. The idea came up to bring something that’s usually hidden inside the body to the outside, so we ended up using clothing as the metaphor for inherited genetic traits, with the genetic mutation represented in orange. There’s this sort of anxiety around the idea of an inherited disease, because it’s lurking away inside your genetics, and the jarring patterns help to reinforce that anxiety.
I reached out to Randal Ford, because I knew he could execute the concept and bring something extra of his own to the project. A concept like this could go south pretty fast if it wasn’t executed really well. Randal brought on Gigantic Squid to help with the retouch and creating the patterns, and in the end, everyone did an awesome job of making a pretty weird idea come to life.
What’s the creative direction for the brand?
Our overarching goal is making complex science understandable and compelling for the lay audience. I’d say the creative direction is idea-driven and bold, sometimes a little experimental or whimsical but always approachable. Someone with an existing health condition doesn’t need to fight against the design in order to get to information that could potentially change their life.
Are you hamstrung at all by newsstand sales?
Genome is actually not on newsstands, and goes primarily to subscribers and point-of-care settings: doctor’s offices, hospitals, personalized medicine facilities. Anyone that’s interested can subscribe for free at genomemag.com/subscribe.
Who is your competition?
We were the first producer of content centered around genomics and personalized medicine, so we have a leg up in that sense, but a few more have come along recently. Front Line publishes a genomics magazine, and Cure is a cancer publication which occasionally touches on personalized medicine. Ultimately, our competition is any publication in the point-of-care setting, so everything from medical journals to newsweeklies.
If a photographer wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way?
A simple email or printed promo piece works just fine and we look at everything that comes through our door, digital or print. Submissions, messages, criticisms, whatever can be sent to art(at)genomemag.com.
Creative Director: Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson
Director of Photography: Tara Guertin
Photographer: Jeffery Cross
Heidi: Where did you get all that candy?
Jeffery: AFAR’s art department collected iconic and oddball candy (from staff members who had traveled recently, from online sources, and from local shops), based on visually interesting packaging, as well as geographic range. The Mix department runs in the magazine in every issue, and always tackles one object, from all around the world. The candy came from Sweden, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Japan, Colombia, Iceland, and beyond.
What is your process for setting up those graphic shots?
AFAR’s art director Jason Seldon mocked up the candy in the San Francisco office before we shot it in my Oakland studio. The products were all bright, colorful, and pop-y, and Jason wanted to play up that aspect. He’d also wanted to use that crazy pink background for some time, and this seemed like a good opportunity to do so. First step was to level the set and camera, waned the shot to be as rectilinear as possible. To help with the arduous task of getting the candy lined up in some sort of grid two we employed two special pieces of equipment: the first being a laser square…always fun to play with lasers, and the second being a 24” x 36” vacuum easel, this gave us a totally flat surface and held each piece of candy in place…magic!..The only downside was the noise. A vacuum easel should come with a great stereo… or noise canceling headphones.
How many options did you have and how long did it take to set up that spread?
For this spread we took the slow and steady approach to end up with one version built piece by piece, evaluate then modified until it looks finished. According to the metadata the shoot took aprox 4hrs from start to finish.
Did you try any of the candy?
We did! Unfortunately… I tried almost all the candy. It was all good in its own way. It was cool to see how each country approaches its sweets, all super different than our candy here in the states. Lucky for me that there were two families with children on my loading dock after the shoot… Being the stranger with the candy I doled out as much of the candy as they would take. The kids went crazy over the McCraw’s Taffy… its crazy big.
How big was that piece of candy for the opener?
McCraw’s taffy, which is made in Denver, comes in nearly foot-long strips, and has been in production since 1908! I am sure it would have other practical uses much like duct tape. It’s a fun product
Who printed it?
QIS in Lower Manhattan.
Who designed it?
I designed the zine.
Who edited the images?
I designed the zine and edited the photos with the help of the creative eyes of a few friends.
How many did you make?
How many times a year do you send out promos?
This was my time making a zine like this. I am going to start making zines every few months. It’s great to see this process through and hold the finished product in your hands.
I was in Alaska last July and had the opportunity to trade photos for a flight with some local pilots. I’ve always had a huge interest in flight, nature, and storytelling. I feel like this was a great chance to combine all of these elements and put the content into a cohesive story. I’ve been wanting to make more physical objects of my work, and I chose to start with of some of my favorite photographs to date.
Did you add any text to the images/captions?
I didn’t add any text or captions to the images. I opened the zine with a quote by Socrates and let the images do the rest of the story telling. The quote was : “Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.”
Photo Director: Nadia Vellam
Photo Editor: Caroline Hirsch
Photographer: Emiliano Granado
You can read the T Magazine article here
Heidi: I know this was your first time shooting with T Mag, how was it they had you on their radar? Had you been sending promos?
Emiliano: To be honest, I don’t know! I do send them promos, but I don’t think I was sending Caroline promos.
What were you doing in Argentina already? Do you often send notes to clients if you are traveling internationally
I was shooting a commercial job for 72andSunny. If I foresee having an extra day or two, I will definitely send a travel notice. Luckily, I’ve been busy enough lately that I don’t really have too many extra days.
What sort of direction did you get from the magazine?
They wanted photos of the artist at her studio and at her home. Details of both place and portraits of her in both places.
ARG/USA- Founder, Director of Photography, Social Media: Emiliano Granado
USA – Founder, Photographer, Writer: Daniel Wakefield Pasley
Tell us about Manual for Speed’s Photo Annual, I know Manual for Speed started out as a personal project and PND covered your story last year.
The photo annual is a big deal for us! We’re finally putting digital pixels into the analog world, and it makes it feel real, all of a sudden. For the last four years, it’s felt like a digital side project. But it’s starting to feel more and more like a media property. We’re collaborating with artists, with designers, etc. We’re taking retail sales seriously. We’ve got plans for more printed material. It’s just getting bigger and bigger.
With that said, personal projects are great forms of marketing. And self-publishing is a great way to get those projects out. The most memorable images of my career are from projects that were self-initiated or where I invested more than the necessary to complete the job. If you can create emotional connections with your images, people will notice you. When things are slow, you have to create work for yourself. If you’re not constantly creating work, then you’re failing.
When you first started doing MFS as a daily. What was the hardest aspect of publishing MFS?
Just the logistics of posting every day is gnarly. Photo edit, words, structure, quality, spelling errors. All that becomes gargantuan tasks when you’ve been running around all day and you have to wake up early the next morning.
Did you simply figure it out how to produce MFS as you went along ( publishing daily ) or did you have any prior experience?
Definitely no experience! We got a ‘publisher’ that receives all the images and words and puts it together neatly and creatively. That was by far the best thing we did.
Describe that moment when you realized this was about to get real.
There was never ONE absolute breakthrough moment. Instead, many small ones. A certain pro rider would tweet at us. They’d give us their personal phone number to get a hold of them. We’d get offers from strangers to sleep at their homes. We’d get recognized by strangers at races. People would send us loving emails out of the blue. Traffic would spike. Sales would spike. Major media people would say what a great job we’re doing, etc etc. Lots of little victories here and there.
What do you think was the single most important aspect to MFS’s success and what type of advice can you share for others wanting to pursue a personal project?
MFS has a unique voice. No one else is doing anything similar. A personal project should be exactly that – personal. Make it yours. Own it. Don’t do what you think the world wants to see. Just do you.
MFS’s coverage of the 2013 Giro d’italia drew your biggest traffic numbers to date and was the first time you guys started getting more mainstream attention. Were you surprised how much traction you got?
Yes. We had been doing MFS for a few years already and it wasn’t getting the attention we thought it should. The Giro was definitely the first big POP.
Had you ever published content on a daily basis? I gained a new found respect for daily online content. ( I had recently worked for Red Bull’s Sound Select division on 30 days in LA and got up at 5:00 am for a month to edit and post, it was tremendously rewarding and relentless )
As I write this, I’m in a hotel room with two other MFS guys. We’re editing photos and concepting ideas and figuring out how best to execute tomorrows post. We won’t be done for a few hours. And then we’ll tweak the post in the morning while we’re in the car chasing the race around. It’s grueling and gnarly to publish daily. It is extremely rewarding though.
Where does your love of riding come from and how often do you ride?
It started as a means of transportation, but turned into an athletic endeavor. Riding is incredibly rewarding – you put in a physical effort and all of a sudden you’re going 25-30mph on two wheels. Its a great feeling. You can go as fast or as slow as you want, but it’s always fun to watch the landscape roll by. Unfortunately, I don’t have that much time to ride anymore. I commute everywhere on bike, but I’ve only been going on longer rides once a week if I’m lucky.
How did the merchandising come about? Are you enjoying any success with it?
Merchandise was always a way to help pay the bills. Recently, we’re approaching merchandise as “retail as content.” That means everything we make has to be original artwork, thought out ideas, and it has to deliver on MFS’ worldview somehow. Slapping a logo on a tshirt is bullshit. We don’t want to make bullshit.
Aside from the photo annual, what’s next for MFS?
We’d like to continue publishing books. Smaller typology studies. Maybe some newsprint editions. Definitely a Photo Annual for 2015. More merchandise – lots of original jerseys and apparel coming this summer. Print sales. Interesting media partnerships with non-cycling media, etc.
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