Posts by: A Photo Editor

The Art of the Personal Project: Vincent Dixon

- - Working

Personal Projects are crucial in showing potential buyers how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or show something I have never seen before. In this revised column, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: projects are found and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured artist: Vincent Dixon

To see more: http://vincentdixon.com/wanderings/category/The+Train+Ride/

In 2011/12 I took a year off to travel around South East Asia and South America with my wife and four children. 

We had been on the road three months when we crossed the border from Nepal to India. I was nervous, I didn’t really know what to expect but had heard from other travelers that India was pretty chaotic. Just crossing the border conformed that. The station wasn’t much better, finding which platform our train was using wasn’t easy. We had been warned that people will always give you an opinion whether they know the answer or not. The 10 pm train was delayed, first for an hour, then two, it finally came to the station four hours late having apparently switched platforms several times. We boarded to find a family asleep in our bunks, gently woken they moved and I took a wet wipe to the top bunk, one swipe and the imprint of my hand was black, Ainlay my wife distracted the kids as I cleaned all the beds, we put our sneakers  on top of the old electric fans as we saw everyone else do, used our backpacks as pillows and got a few hours sleep. When I woke up I took some photos.
http://www.briteproductions.net/vincent-dixon

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APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty. Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

Brian Clamp Interview

- - Art

Brian Clamp is the founder and director of the NYC Photo gallery ClampArt. Last summer, he was kind enough to take some time to share thoughts on the state of the gallery industry. Since we spoke, his new gallery space has opened at 247 West 29th Street in Manhattan.

Jonathan Blaustein: How’s the summer treating you in New York City?

Brian Clamp: It’s been weirdly hot. I’ve been in New York for, god, I don’t even know, 23 years? This was one of the hottest summers I ever remember, so it’s been interesting.

JB: Is the baking garbage smell on every corner in Manhattan?

BC: I haven’t noticed that so much, but we have been moving the gallery, so we’ve actually been out in the heat quite a bit. It’s just been brutal.

JB: Right. It’s hard because nobody likes to see you sweat, but in that weather with that humidity, most people really don’t have a say in the matter.

BC: Exactly.

JB: You and I spoke in Houston and you told me you were moving the gallery. You were in Chelsea which had been the pure epicenter of the New York City gallery industry. You were there for a long time, right?

BC: We’ve been in Chelsea since 2000, but we were in the same building from 2003 to 2016. We were one of the first galleries in the building, so we really got to see the neighborhood grow and develop over that time.

The building that we were in had four different owners while we were there, so it just kept changing hands. We had to sit back and adapt to each new owner and the new ideas they had. In the beginning, it was really a wonderful time, but it’s amazing how different the neighborhood is now than it was 14 years ago.

JB: I saw you in Santa Fe last year, and at that time you told me that Target had moved into your gallery’s building on 25th Street?

BC: That was one of the main problems we had. Target took over the entire second floor of the building for their design offices, but they demanded a private entrance, so the landlord completely threw us under the bus and closed our entrance to the street. It made it much harder to find your way into the back part of the building, where we were located.

Obviously, Target was paying a lot more rent than we were paying, so the landlord was willing to do whatever they asked. That made life much more difficult.

But in addition to Target above us, we had Tesla on one side of us and then a baby clothing company down the hall.

A building that once had been all galleries was not-so-slowly transforming into one for corporate tenants. So we were just seeing a repeat of what happened in SoHo in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

JB: Right. Well, that makes more sense because for the life of me, I couldn’t understand how they had a retail Target in a gallery building, but now you’re telling me it was offices. Ever since then, I thought, “How the hell do they have a Target, with all those shopping carts?” But they didn’t.

BC: Well, the second floor were all design offices, but then they took over the biggest ground floor space, which used to the Cue Arts Foundation. They use that enormous ground floor storefront space for events and parties that they host maybe once or twice a month, and the rest of the time it just sits there empty.

So they do have a ground floor presence, but it’s just not really used all that often.
The other thing is that when we moved out, our rent was nearly being doubled, and in my mind I was saying, well good luck finding anyone who’s ever going to pay that kind of price for this back hall space with no direct access to the street.

But, then it seemed as though Target was going to take over our old space and turn it into a conference room. (Last I heard they backed out, and the space is still sitting empty.)

JB: I think our readers probably know this, but outside of a handful of mega-art dealers who are corporations in and of themselves, galleries like yours, like ClampArt, are small businesses. You were a small business…

BC: Exactly.

JB: …competing for retail space with Target. That’s essentially what you’re telling me.

BC: Yeah. Exactly.

JB: You can’t sell enough prints to do that. You can’t possibly sell enough pieces of photo paper to compete with Target.
It’s impossible.

BC: Well, yes—so what’s happening is probably within five years’ time, we’re not going to really see many mid-size and small galleries left in Chelsea. It mainly will be just the mega-galleries who own their real estate – they’ll be the only people left standing.

JB: It seems like that’s just the parallel with what we’re seeing in a lot of the economy: the rich getting richer. It sounds like your industry is in a bit of a crisis. Is that a fair way to put it? Or is that too dramatic?

BC: Yeah, I think you kind of hit the nail on the head. It’s like we’ve been witnessing this ever-increasing income divide in this country. In the art world, people who are that top one percent have more money than ever, and they’re willing to pay whatever price they need to get the top of the top.

So the very high end of the market was doing exceedingly well for a good while there, whereas anything underneath that was much more difficult. And even people who are wealthy and well off, but maybe not the one percent, are probably being much more conservative with spending since the recession than they had been prior to that time.

So generally things haven’t really bounced back as the economy has continued to improve.

JB: You’ve been a gallery owner in New York since 2000. But you’re from Colorado, if I recall.

BC: Yep.

JB: So you’ve been fighting the fight there in New York for a long time, and really, people know your place. You’re respected in the industry, from what I can tell. But you’re telling us straight up that the train is off the tracks a little bit?

BC: Yeah. Or just still radically changing.
In making this decision to move out of that building where we had been for 14 years, there were a lot of things to think about: the viability, the feasibility of the brick-and-mortar space, versus a lot of galleries who have decided just to go online and shop their wares around at art fairs as much as they can.

Ultimately, we decided actually to expand in a new neighborhood with faith that here in New York City, at least, there are still enough devoted art collectors to be able to support the gallery and our artists. But it is a risky speculation, especially as compared to 15 years ago.

JB: So this idea that a gallery might not have a physical space – and I guess you partially explained it by saying that they’re still showing at art fairs, but it seems like, for as long as there have been gallery/artist relationships, the implicit deal was that a gallery offered a space for public exhibition.

The dealer offers the artist the opportunity to engage with the public, which puts a lot of pressure on the gallery to have that space. So now you’re saying some people are walking away from that core tenet?

BC: Yeah. The ability of an artist to mount a full solo show in a gallery setting, to communicate their ideas to an art audience, is still extremely important. But that’s really, in this day and age, being sacrificed quite a bit.

Artists have to be satisfied with just showing maybe one or two or three pieces in the context of an art fair booth with several other artists. Sometimes galleries do show work by just one artist, however, at fairs like Volta.

But more often than not, it’s just a smattering of work by many people in one booth, which will never be the ideal way for an artist to present their work and try to communicate their ideas.

That’s the direction the market has taken, so if artists want their work to be seen at all, and certainly if they want their works to be sold, then they’re agreeing to those realities as the market changes.

JB: And even in this changing market, where we’re talking about essentially less opportunities, not more, is it fair to say that there are as many people desperate for your attention and trying to get your interest as there have ever been? Or are there more people chasing you down? Anecdotally, how do you feel about that?

BC: I would say that that just continues to increase. The number of graduates from BFA and MFA programs feels like it continues to rise, so there are still more and more artists who are looking for gallery representation.

This has always been the case, but maybe more so now than ever. There are just many more artists than there are buyers to support them. And so it does put a lot of pressure on the galleries in the middle.

JB: I’ve been telling this to people for years, frankly. A lot of the people that we canonize, that we lionize in the history as great as they might have been, at the time that they were out there clicking the shutter, there were so few people doing this.

And now we’re talking about tens of thousands of trained fine art photographers, all trying to compete for a handful of spaces that might open up in the big galleries in New York in a given year.

The odds are awful. It doesn’t, to me, seem like a safe way to expect to make any money. And yet, more and more kids are going into huge debt just to play this game. It seems very unsustainable to me, but like I said, I’m sitting a horse pasture in New Mexico, so my opinion is probably less valid than yours.

BC: Not true.

JB: Well, thank you.

BC: You’re 100 percent correct. Like when you look at it in a historical context, the art world was a much smaller place back then than it is now. And that’s changed radically over the past 20 years, for sure.

JB: So what do you do when you talk to students? I know you’ve given lectures. How do you disabuse people of these ideas without trying to sound like a buzz-kill?

BC: Discouraging – yeah. I mean, one thing to stress is the fact that even artists that do have gallery representation – most of them have some sort of second means of income, whether they’re teaching or working at a lab or doing commercial work.

So, to be realistic is important. The idea that you can support yourself solely from the sale of your fine artwork is pretty idealistic, until you’re pretty well into your career. It takes a lot of time to get to that point, so be prepared for that fact when you graduate so it doesn’t take you by surprise.

JB: Let’s use what you just said as an example. The people who are maybe 25 years in and showing a few different places. I know you’re probably not exclusive with your artists. What do you think it takes to actually succeed in a very difficult marketplace, both on your end as the gallery and on the artist’s end? What does it take to actually bust through and persevere?

BC: That’s probably one of the most important things: perseverance. You do have to be aggressive, and you have to persevere in order to make it happen.

But, honestly, you also have to be smart and have good ideas. The artwork itself is what initially speaks for you, and so if the quality of the work is not there in the first place, then you’re not going to get anywhere else.

Then, like we were just saying, there are a lot of probably wonderful artists who are producing strong, relevant, interesting work who maybe haven’t gotten anywhere. That’s where the other things come in like perseverance, aggressiveness.

JB: What attracts you?

BC: Ability.

JB: We’ve already established that everybody wants your attention, so what gets your attention? What kind of work, either stylistically or conceptually, tends to impress you?

BC: I meet with younger artists all the time, and we show a lot of emerging work in our gallery. I’m seeing what’s coming out of the BFA and MFA programs, particularly on the East coast.

It’s got to be a breath of fresh air, something that’s not just rehashing work by a well-known artist. Something original and new.

I’m interested in all kinds of photography and multi-media work, from figurative and portraiture to abstract work, from still imagery to video, and our gallery shows a wide variety of those things, too. We’re kind of heavy on figurative and portraiture, and that reflects my own personal taste. But for a well-balanced roster, you need to have a little smattering of everything.

JB: Do you spend a lot of time, when you look at work, thinking about the particular collectors who support you who might like something? Do you feel compelled to bring on work just because you think your buyers will like it? Or is that not a strong consideration, and you just go with your own gut?

BC: The initial consideration, first and foremost, is entirely personal. Is it something that I relate to? Is it something that interests me?

Then, if it passes that hurdle, yeah. You start to consider other things. Do I think that I have a clientele that would appreciate this work? Or could I build a clientele that would appreciate it?

How does this relate to the other artists who are already on my roster? You have to be sure that it’s perhaps not too similar to something you’re already showing. Maybe it fills in a hole that hasn’t yet been covered. So those considerations come later…

Then you look at a person’s CV and check out where they studied, who they studied under, if they have shown their work much to this point? What sort of exhibitions were they included in—were they group shows or solo shows? And then you start to think deeper.

JB: Typically, when we go to these portfolio reviews, they often describe them as speed dating. And yet, anecdotally at least, I think most photographers want a handshake at the end of 20 minutes, a kiss on the cheek, and a contract, which of course, isn’t going to happen.

But do you find that there is typically a slow-build with the things that you’re interested in, like you’ll meet somebody and then a year or two will go by and you’ll see them again or you’ll get an e-mail blast? Would you confirm that it’s a slow process? Or do you think sometimes you just know right away and then things move quickly?

BC: Much more often than not, a meeting at a portfolio review is the very beginning of a more long-term process, sort of like planting the seeds for what will grow and bloom much further down the road. There might be exceptions to that, but typically, it is a slow burn and a long process.

You might realize that, yeah, I like this person’s work. I like this person’s personality. And you continue to stay in touch and keep an eye on what they’re doing, what shows their work gets into, if they’re winning any residencies or grants, and just continue to touch base until maybe you have ideas for what to do with their work, or you have clientele you think would be interested.

And then you go from there. Sometimes, from the point of meeting someone at a portfolio review until the time that they get a solo show at my gallery, it’s been as long as five or six years.

JB: Right. Speaking of all these same issues, we talked about rising rents in New York and, again, you made the comparison to SoHo.

I just saw a headline in the paper the other day or on Twitter. I didn’t bother reading the article, which was about some neighborhood kicking out a pair of social practice artists because they didn’t want to start gentrification.

There are a lot of complicated issues surrounding gentrification, and how that can change a neighborhood. (The high-line and all that.) But setting that aside, what about the internet? How drastically has the internet changed your ability to do your job?

BC: It’s changed it 100 percent. In many ways, it’s fantastic. The reach that a medium-sized gallery in New York has is far better than it’s ever been. However, then it changed the market, like I said, for a lot of galleries who may not have brick-and-mortar spaces, who are working just completely online, which has its own ramifications.

JB: But why?

BC: It also kind of changes the relationship between artists and their collectors.

JB: That’s where I was going.

BC: There are a lot more collectors who really just want to deal with artists directly. If they start changing the structure of the business, are our art galleries really serving the same role? Are they as needed and necessary as they used to be?

Certainly there are a lot of artists that want to concentrate on producing work, and they don’t want to be dealing with marketing and sales and shipping and insurance and all of those things. But there are other artists who get a charge out of having direct contact with their collectors, and so it’s something complicated for everybody to work out.

JB: Obviously, you’re not somebody who feels that way because you’re making a bigger space and you’re growing and doing well, though we’re not asking about numbers.

I’m starting to get the sense that, as much as every photographer wants a gallery, if the galleries don’t have physical spaces and the collectors can e-mail you and ask to buy a picture – that’s kind of why I used the word “crisis” earlier on. I’m wondering if the entire model isn’t bound to change? I thought you’d be very well positioned to speculate on that.

BC: Yeah.

JB: Is it all going to change?

BC: I think it has been changing. An artist has to question how much of that responsibility they would be willing to take on. And then perhaps if they have just an online gallery representing their work, is the standard 50/50 cut still appropriate in that situation?

That’s something I encourage a lot of artists to think about—especially if they’re already selling well directly from their studio. Do they really need to enter a relationship like that?

Artists need to weigh the pros and cons. I would hope that the artists we represent realize what a gallery brings to the table, but for other kinds of artists and other kinds of work, then it may be perfectly appropriate to sell directly from the studio.

JB: Can you tell us a little bit about the new space, since we’ve mentioned that you’re expanding and moving? Where are you going to be exactly? And what’s it going to look like?

BC: We’re going to be on 29th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, which is still technically part of Chelsea, but that area of Manhattan has a lot of different names. It’s the flower district, the fur district, and also the garment district.

JB: Near Penn Station.

BC: And it’s close to what used to be called Tin Pan Alley, which is just a little farther east. It’s only two avenues from where we had been located for 14 years, but two avenues in Manhattan can make a world of difference.

It’s a neighborhood with a totally different feel, but still, right now, it really is under transition, too, like a lot of other places. There’s a lot of construction around where we’re going to be, with a trendy gastro pub right across the street, but still certainly a lot of furriers left, too.

There’s also a high-end lighting store on the block, and an art supply store. So it’s still a big mix of things. It’s interesting to see what direction that’s going to take.

JB: Yeah, we all know at the rate NYC changes, you don’t know what a neighborhood will be like in five years.

BC: The exciting thing is those two avenues made a world of difference in terms of price. So for around the same amount of money, we’re getting a storefront with three floors and 19-foot ceilings. There’ll be a mezzanine that overlooks the main gallery with a private office and viewing room.

We’re going to be able to spread out a bit, and it’s going to change the way we’re able to show the work by the artists we represent, which will be a lot more fun.

When you’re in the same space for a long time, you sometimes wonder if things start to become formulaic because you know what works and what doesn’t. So it’s going to be exciting experimenting with a totally different layout and seeing how things shake out.

JB: What’s the opening show? Do you have that planned? (Ed note: again, this interview was conducted last summer, so the opening exhibition has already transpired.)

BC: The opening show will be the fifth exhibition at our gallery by an artist named Marc Yankus. We’ve shown his work for a long time, but he’s got a new series that he’s ready to unveil.

He’s one of our most popular artists, and I’m excited about the direction his photography has taken recently.

JB: Mid-October – gotcha. Sometimes when we do these interviews, I warm up very slowly and talk about people’s backgrounds. You and I have known each other for a long time, so I kind of skipped that, but it is fun sometimes to just hear where the bug came from.

How did you fall in love with photography? And what brought you to the place that you’re at now?

BC: I didn’t have any sort of background in art or art history until the second semester of my senior year of high school. For some reason, and I’m still not even sure why, I decided to take a photography course.

I had one extra elective, so on a whim, I took a photography class. The instructor was a younger teacher. She was really enthusiastic and energetic, and did a great job of getting her students excited about the subject matter.

It was mostly a darkroom class. At the beginning of every session, however, there would be 15 minutes of slide lecture, which was basically going through the history of the medium. And I was excited by both – creating photographs in the darkroom and the art history part of class.

I was so excited that when I went off to college the next year as a math major, I found a way to take as many darkroom classes and art history classes as I could.

But it really was that one semester in high school that lit the spark. I remember going to the public library to the section of photography monographs and just randomly pulling things off the shelf and leafing through them and seeing what excited me. And they were probably the same as a lot of other people, but there were a couple of books in particular that really blew the top of my head off.

JB: Like what?

BC: Nan Goldin’s “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency.”

JB: Of course.

BC: And Diane Arbus’s Aperture monograph. Those two in particular, I remember as being extremely excited about.

JB: You grew up in Colorado Springs, right?

BC: No. I grew up in the suburbs of Denver.

JB: Okay. That makes more sense. I had it mis-remembered. I was imagining you out there in that conservative – I don’t want to say wasteland, as I’ll get in trouble. I had a hard time seeing you there. The Denver area makes way more sense.

BC: Well, you know what, though? Back when I was in school, so we’re talking 1988 was when I graduated from high school, Colorado wasn’t the sort of purple state it is now. It was much more redneck, and there was a lot less culture in Denver at that time than there is now.

It’s fun for me to go back now, because people have flooded in from the East and West coasts so much that things have really changed. And now Denver’s kind of a fun place to be. But, I remember back when I was in high school and college, I couldn’t wait to get out.

JB: I bet. And was it always “I can’t wait to go to New York”? Was that a plan?

BC: It was, actually. I came to New York for the first time when I was in 9th grade for a debate tournament, and that was when I fell in love with the city. It’s weird how even when you’re a kid, you know something. It was like I knew I would end up in New York City. Lo and behold! Less than a week after I graduated from CU, Boulder, I had my bags packed and was on my way to New York City. I’ve been here ever since.

JB: Do you think New York is going to stay the center of it all? At least as far as America goes? Is its relative position weakening as other cities grow? What do you think?

BC: It’s interesting. The internet puts everybody at a more level playing field, for sure.

But, a lot of the creative people who helped build this city and make it interesting in the first place are being forced to go to other places. We’ve seen a mass exodus of the creative class in New York, for sure, which will negatively impact things. But, all that being said, there is still a certain cache being in New York City.

I continue to notice it. There are collectors all over the country, but people really do enjoy the experience of coming to New York City and exploring galleries and museums, and buying work here.

So even if they can get the same thing in Los Angeles or Chicago, there’s still a certain thrill of collecting work in New York. Everything will change, and is already changing, but I don’t foresee another city surpassing New York City as the art capital of this country, anyway.

Los Angeles is an interesting city, and there are probably even more artists there at this point than there are in New York. But, even with its world-class museums and impressive galleries, I would still say there’s no competition between Los Angeles and New York in terms of the volume of artwork sold per year.

JB: And you can take a subway in New York. I was just in LA, and it’s like you really get the sense that people on the West side and the East side, they’re living parallel lives. People plan their whole day around not having to get stuck in the kind of traffic that makes you want to hurt somebody, especially when the sun is beating down.

The last time I was in New York, I couldn’t believe that, because of the rising rents, all the pizzerias were going out of business. Can you still get a decent slice of pizza in your neighborhood? Is that a thing of the past?

BC: That’s a really good question. Gosh. Maybe one place by our gallery still has a decent slice. The pizzerias are fewer and farther apart than they ever were. (Laughter)

When I moved to New York, I lived on St. Mark’s Place, and there was a pizza place across the street that had dollar slices. I probably subsisted on that, and dollar falafels, for the first year I was here. I think you would not be able to do that in 2016.

JB: I really, really miss pizza.

BC: One thing we haven’t really talked about is that a lot of the defection of small and medium-sized galleries from Chelsea has been to the Lower East Side. And the notable fact is that they’re probably the same number of galleries in New York right now as there were prior to the recession in 2008, but because of the architecture on the Lower East Side the galleries tend to be in smaller spaces with lower ceilings.

They’re much more compact. The warehouse spaces in West Chelsea lent themselves better to contemporary art. That was another big deal in our transition – finding a space large enough to show a wide range of art.

JB: Was Brooklyn a consideration? Or not really?

BC: Briefly a consideration. Brooklyn at this point is culturally more interesting than Manhattan for emerging work, and certainly almost all of my friends live there now.

But as far as art galleries are concerned, there are all these wonderful places, especially in Bushwick, but for a lot of my collectors, there’s still this psychological hurdle. Perhaps it speaks to my age, or my experience or what have you, but I just felt much more comfortable staying within Manhattan.

JB: Gotcha. There were a ton of galleries in Williamsburg when I lived in Greenpoint, and then I came back to town five years ago and they were all gone. Or most of them were gone and replaced by retail, and it sounds like that is more or less what’s happening in Chelsea – this idea that high-end things that maybe sell more frequently or where they have lower dollar amounts but you sell more volume.

Is that a trend, do you think? Is that part of gentrification? Galleries giving way to boutiques?

BC: Yeah, that’s exactly what’s happening. The amount of handbag stores in New York City is just mindboggling. (Laughter)

But with regard to Williamsburg, some of the hottest young galleries were in Williamsburg prior to the recession. Most of the more interesting ones ended up moving to Chelsea.
But then the others just closed and nothing ever came back once the economy started to improve. Part of that has to do with the fact that Williamsburg just exploded in terms of real estate. It became so expensive that it wasn’t much cheaper than being in Manhattan.

But, as I said, there are some wonderfully exciting places in Bushwick. Artists are subverting the gallery system altogether, and establishing pop-ups and project spaces in apartments and other unexpected locales throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

JB: I did it. I had a gallery called BQE33. I ran a space out of my apartment, because it looked so much like a gallery, just for my Pratt buddies.

But now all those suckers are screwed, right? They’re shutting the “L” train for a year and a half. How are people there going to get to Manhattan?

BC: Yeah.

JB: All that pricey real estate doesn’t do much if you can’t get across the water, right?

BC: I know. That’s going to have such a huge effect on real estate values, on the ability for all these businesses to make money. It’s going to be a nightmare, honestly.

JB: Right. I’m glad it’s not your problem and it’s not my problem. (Laughter)

Let’s just pivot for a second to creative stuff, then. Part of your job is to look, and I would imagine you’ve got to have your guard up almost all the time, because people want something from you. That’s just human nature.

I know you’re going to museums. I know you’re going to see things, just out of joy and out of learning. Have you seen anything in New York or on your travels, any museum shows, anything that was just unbelievably good and reinvigorated you or anything like that?

BC: Yes, right now the Whitney Museum has this portraiture show that’s all drawn from their permanent collection. It’s actually a really nice way not only to reinterpret, but also represent their permanent collection.

A lot of museums will always have the same artworks on display. Even in the old Whitney space, when you went up to the fifth floor, you would always know what pieces you would see. But this exhibition was exciting and fresh, especially in terms of the inclusion of all media, including photography. They had some wonderful stuff there.

JB: I hate putting people on the spot like that, but I kind of have to. It’s part of the job.

BC: Well, yeah. I can think of a lot of things I saw that I didn’t like, but that was one exhibition I really admired.

Another exciting thing was The School, which is Jack Shainman’s gallery that he opened up in Kinderhook, which is about two hours north of the city.

He bought an old schoolhouse that he’s turned into a place to present contemporary art. I think it opened last year, but I just now made it this summer. And I was blown away.

And speaking to some of this migration, Shainman still certainly has a presence in West Chelsea, but now he’s got this other major operation going on outside of the city, which is really exciting.

JB: Cool. A lot of the first half the interview was kind of bleak, because things are not easy out there, and you’re very kind to share this kind of inside information with us.

But if we were going to pivot to something slightly more optimistic for the younger artists out there, or just the people who really, really want in on the industry and haven’t made it yet, is there any advice you might give to help people stay positive?

Obviously, perseverance is a great one, but are there things that you tend to encourage people on to help them understand why making art is important, beyond just trying to sell it? Or anything like that?

BC: Well, first of all, I think one encouraging thing is something that I touched on before. While everything is changing, there probably are still more galleries in New York right now than there ever have been. And a lot of those galleries are smaller, scrappier spaces that have an investment in emerging art.

We talked about a lot of artists who are being forced out of New York City by the rising real estate prices and cost of living, but the good news is, with the internet and FedEx, etc., artists don’t have to live in New York City to have New York City gallery representation.

An artist can set up shop in Pittsburgh or Detroit and still have a chance of making it in other markets and building an audience. There’s more flexibility in those terms which is fantastic.

A lot of what we talked about was sort of bleak, but I still have the energy and the positivity to try to expand and continue to have a space for younger voices. Despite all of these observations, I feel personally optimistic enough that owning a gallery is still viable and something worthwhile.

JB: No doubt. It’s kind of you to share your thoughts with us.

I’ve always try to remind people that the reasons why we started making art, the things it does for our psyche and our sense of self-esteem, the ability to become healthier if you use your art in the right way, these things don’t really have anything to do with getting famous or selling prints for five grand a pop.

Part of how I remain optimistic is to just remind people that there are deep reasons to do this stuff that don’t involve getting 250 likes on your Facebook post about your next show.

BC: You’re completely right. And you need to be able to keep a healthy perspective about fulfillment and achievement. This relates to anything, not just the art industry, but it goes back to looking at yourself and not comparing yourself to others, etc.

JB: Etc, indeed. So we’ll end on a positive note. I wish you nothing but the best in this new venture. On behalf of all our readers, thanks so much for your time.

BC: It’s always good talking to you.

© Randhy Rodriguez http://randhyrodriguez.com/ Marc Yankus exhibition

© Randhy Rodriguez http://randhyrodriguez.com/ Marc Yankus exhibition

© Adam Ekberg, “A sparkler on a frozen lake,” 2006, Archival pigment print.

© Pipo Nguyen-duy, “Untitled L30,” 1998, Cyanotype (Unique).

© Jill Greenberg, “Untitled (Ursine #59J-48),” 2006, ARchival pigment print.

© Marc Yankus, “Haughwout Building,” 2016, ARchival pigment print.

© Lori Nix, “Circulation Desk,” 2012, Archival pigment print.

I Think Hiring Influencers As Photographers Is A Trend

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Is Havas hiring influencers at all and if so, how do they find them? How many followers does someone need to have in order to be considered an influencer?
We are hiring a lot of influencers! Our creatives find them directly on Instagram, sometimes they give me the person’s Instagram handle and I have to dig to find contact info or a website. I’ve seen influencers with anywhere from 50k-500k followers, it depends on if we’re paying for their influence or just hiring them as a photographer. Lately, I’ve been suggesting that photographers increase their following and post their work on Instagram. They should be using Instagram as just another portfolio tool, it’s a great way to show a cohesive body of work. Start a separate personal account for dog and kid pics.

Do you think this trend is going to continue or so you see signs of it evolving?
I think hiring influencers as photographers is a trend, the technical ability and production sense that photographers bring to the table is worth so much more. I think it’s going to take a while for clients to see it since a lot of them are just starting to get their feet wet in this medium. 

Read more: Trend meets Tradition: Meet Haley Silverman | Notes From A Rep’s Journal

Pete Souza, Obama’s Chief White House Photographer, on Making Pictures | GQ

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On a technical level, did digital photography increase your output? You’ve said you’ve taken around 2,000 a day average, or something like that.

I actually don’t think I shoot that much, because I’m not a motor drive kinda guy. So everything is kinda single frame. I don’t know even if I had been shooting film this administration that I would have shot any less. I don’t feel that I overshoot because of digital. Sure, you don’t have to stop at frame 36, but that’s the reason why you’d always carry ten rolls of film with you at a time. So I don’t know that that would make that much of a difference for me, at least.

Okay, because we were trying to do the math, adding up the shutter clicks, and wondering how many cameras have you completely ruined?

I don’t know how many cameras I’ve gone through but it’s probably been eight or ten. I never blew a shutter, which I know a lot of photographers occasionally do. I usually try to switch when I can feel like a camera’s about to give out. I always carried a backup camera, especially on foreign trips just in case one went down.

Read more here: Pete Souza, Obama’s Chief White House Photographer, on Making Pictures | GQ

The Art of the Personal Project: Donato Di Camillo

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Personal Projects are crucial in showing potential buyers how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or show something I have never seen before. In this revised column, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: projects are found and submissions are not accepted.

http://donatodicamillo.com/the-fringe/

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APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty. Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

I Had An Incredible Ride

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For the first 15 years we were like tittering schoolboys, viewing every offer, no matter how paltry, as an opportunity for naughtiness and adventure. We unashamedly piggied life on the back of work, and in the process both flourished. Photography’s like a panda; it only eats one thing. Curiosity. Without a constant diet of curiosity, it’s dead. So when you’ve reached the point where venturing away from your living room without a business class ticket seems like a hassle, or extending an assignment in Ulan Bator when nobody’s paying for the hotel doesn’t make sense; you’ve ceased to be a photographer. You might be a high-level technician, but your photographs – no matter how much money tech companies will pay for them – are shit. Because the only thing you are curious about is the day rate.

— Julian Richards

Read More Here: A conversation between photographer Mark Mahaney and former photo agent Julian Richards.

The Art of the Personal Project: Jesse Ditmar

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Personal Projects are crucial in showing potential buyers how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or show something I have never seen before. In this revised column, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: projects are found and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s Personal Project: Jesse Ditmar

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02_michelle_dockery

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04_james_earl_jones

05_patti_smith

I bring music to every shoot. James Brown is best. I don’t think it is possible to dislike some James Brown. He can bring you up; he can quiet you down. Mostly he just makes people want to dance.

Sometimes I’ll play AC/DC. It’s a bold play because AC/DC is not background music. John Oliver walked onto set while Back in Black was playing and said “Yeah! Who the hell doesn’t like AC/DC?!” Exactly. Who doesn’t like AC/DC?

I also love to play Al Green. Occasionally I get nervous that Al’s lyrics can get a little too smooth for someone I’ve never met. Then Love and Happiness plays and that song is too good to worry about excessive smoothness. When we photographed in Memphis, I got him singing and had a hard time getting him to stop.

I’m a big fan of Stevie Wonder on the playlist. He is great to sing along to. It can be difficult to ask someone to sing on a photo shoot, but my favorite pictures can be just after someone has stopped singing. There’s a cathartic release and then some calm. I like that calm a lot.

Everyone loves music. Not everyone loves the same music, but everyone loves music. It’s a human thing, and I’m interested in humans. I love asking questions. I love shaking hands, looking someone in the eye, and getting a sense of what they’re all about.

The people I grew up watching and listening to are the ones that make me sweat most on a shoot. You have one-way relationships with these people for years before you could ever know you will photograph them. Suddenly you have to let all of that go. You have to forget you’re a fan. After you do that you can learn a lot, like Tom Hanks is a doting grandfather who collects typewriters, Patti Smith handwrites thank you notes, talking about chess makes Sting smile, and Mike Myers cares most about being a new dad.

Anne Farrar hired me to take my first celebrity portrait a little over two years ago. Since then I’ve been asked by many wonderful people to do it again. This is a selection of some of my favorite portraits in my first two years.

To see more visit: http://www.twothebook.com

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APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty. Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

Tim Tadder Interview

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Tim Tadder is an internationally acclaimed photographic artist. Most recognized for his highly inventive conceptual advertising photography Tadder has been ranked in the top 200 photographers worldwide by the prestigious Luezer Archive Magazine 8 years running. In 2015 Epson, the world leader in photographic printing technology recognized Tadder as one of the top influential photographers, producing a TV commercial and worldwide ad campaign featuring Tadder and his work.

Tim Tadder Steph Curry

When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer? I grew up on the set of a commercial photographer in Baltimore, Maryland. I knew that I was fascinated with photography from an early age when I saw my father developing images for the first time in the darkroom. He had a black-and-white and a color darkroom in a small studio in Baltimore, and I used to watch him print pictures using an enlarger and chemicals. That was magical to me. I always thought it was amazing that you could re-create life from a camera and paper.

Tim Tadder Website

What was your path to becoming a professional photographer? I have a unique path to becoming a professional photographer. I was a high school teacher for five years, and during the summers I did mountaineering adventures. During those climbs, I would make images and host slideshows. People were really interested, and through the slideshows, I found that people liked the images that I created. I found I wasn’t a great teacher but that I really loved photography and so I decided to give it a try. I moved from South America where I was teaching and climbing to Baltimore where I grew up and had connections in the photography world. I decided I would see if I could make it for a year, mostly because that’s all the money I had saved. I worked out of my father’s studio in Baltimore but mostly for the local newspaper doing journalism while I was trying to learn the craft

Simone Bile Images

What formal schooling or training did you have in photography? After two years in Baltimore, I was really in love with photojournalism, so I decided to pursue a Masters Degree in photojournalism from the Ohio University School of Visual Communication. That program is amazing, and I highly recommend it. I learned so much in the short time that I was there not only about photojournalism but also about creating images that were capable of telling stories. I learned so much about visual communications while there. Truly so much of what we do in photography is at its very essence visual communication. Before I was aware of that, I was just making images that I thought looked interesting, but after the program, I started to make images that spoke and told stories. The resulting images were much more intelligent images, so to speak, and that process really helped me become a better photographer in a short period

Tim Tadder Website

Were your parents supportive of your desire to be an artist? Ironically my parents were not very supportive me at all. I think that my father was concerned I did not have the talent to make it as a photographer. I also think that he never really made a lot of money and I think he felt that money equated to success, and in some ways, he felt that I did not have tremendous talent, and thus would not “be successful”. There was a lot of clashing as to what I felt was a good photographer and what he saw as good or great. I can remember my mother delivering me the Help Wanted section with jobs that she thought I would like even though I was making great strides in photography. She continued to show me job openings that she thought would be great careers. I can remember her distinctly telling me that that there wasn’t any money in photography and that you couldn’t make a living as a photographer anymore but I didn’t care. I just wanted to make images, and I wasn’t concerned about money. I was working for peanuts as a photojournalist, and I was really in love with photography. I will say, though, that my father is super proud of me at this point and I think that he honestly just wanted the best for me and realized how competitive and how difficult it is to succeed in this industry. The reality is, that if you love something and that you are passionate about it I think in America you can succeed

Tim Tadder Las Muertas

Do you remember your first published image and how it felt when it first appeared? Not really, I don’t think that I was all that enamored with having a published image define me as a photographer. Ink on paper does not a photographer make. But rather the communicative value of the image. I can remember the first image I made that truly moved people and how that made me feel. I think that was always more important to me, making an image that people reacted to. I can remember getting many emails from viewers responding to how much the image moved them. From all over the world it was a powerful image, and I knew at that point in time I had important skills.

Tim Tadder Cross Fit

You shoot both stills and video. Are you more passionate about one medium over the other? I prefer stills for sure. I like the less is more approach, and with motion, it just takes more people more equipment more blah blah blah…I hate the fat in motion productions. Give me a camera and a lens, and I’ll make it happen, motion you need all kinds of stuff to do commercial work.

Tim Tadder New Work

After all this time, what still makes you passionate about the visual arts?I think how freaking hard it is to make images that move people. Truly to make a great image, it’s very hard and takes a lot of things to go right. Sure if you are a photojournalist you can get lucky, but normally it takes a huge investment of time, energy, people, etc. Greatness comes from the communicative collaboration of energy revealing itself in the well-crafted moment. That elusive search for perfection makes me passionate. If it was easy, I think I would be over it by now. Knowing that I have not done my bet work yet keeps me grinding. I will not stop until my impact is undeniable and that’s the passion.

Tim Tadder Sports

You seem to have so much creative energy in all your work. How do come up with the concepts for your projects? I consume imagery, from TV to movies to art and Instagram, I consume and consume, and I get inspired by what I see but more importantly what I do not see. I try to find voids. I try to find things that have not been visualized. Bringing new visuals to life no matter how absurd or different is a great challenge in our world today. It’s hard to have a visual impact with so much noise. So I try to fill the empty spots with something new.

Tim Tadder Website

When you go into a shoot do you have a detailed vision for the finished project or does it tend to be a collaboration with the subject to determine the result? Always. I am a great pre-visualizer. I know exactly what I want when I go into every shoot, but often I fall short. It’s one thing to see it in your mind’s eye, but it’s quite another to capture it. That’s the illusive search for perfection. We know what we want, but it is sure hard to get it. That’s search is what keeps me passionate. I can feel though that the more I do this, the more my mind and my visions are aligning…so maybe I am getting closer. I do feel I am much much better than I’ve ever been.

Tim Tadder Website CGI

Many photographers take full credit for the finished product from a shoot, but you are quick to point out that without your “team” your success wouldn’t be possible. How large is your team, how did you build the team and how much collaboration is done with this group? I think when you start it’s a very big ego thing. However, as you gain knowledge and wisdom you begin to look around and realize that individually you can only accomplish small things, but collectively you can accomplish great things. True impact comes from people that can harness the collective spirit of passionate individuals and align that energy towards a defined goal. I saw this in the people around me and when I grew up and left my ego behind, I realized that I was only as good as the weakest link on my team. I realized that the people around me love what they were doing and that I needed to embrace not only their passions but honor their contributions. That’s when it all clicked. I can’t do what I do without the support of others. No way. I love them, and I hope they love me because they make everything possible. My core crew is excellent. They are the best, and I will put them up against anyone. My normal team is made up of a first assistant that has been with me for ten years, my producer, our production coordinator, stylist, hair and makeup (sometimes two people) and a gaggle of other freelancers that contribute. The productions swell when needed, by my core is four.

Tim Tadder Website Water Wigs

On average, how much of the finished product that we see in images on your website is done in camera versus in CGI or post production? That goes from zero to a lot. There is much of my work that is captured in camera and sometimes quite a lot of post. I would say what you see is 75 percent in camera, truly only what you see in the CGI section of my website is CGI. Yes there are composites here and there, but I find the less time in the post the better the image. Less is more.

Tim Tadder reflection of Cam Newton

How many man hours went into your Tecate Calendar project including the building of props, the shoot, and CGI/post? Now that project was very very CGI and post heavy. But my favorite image in that collection was all captured on camera (The Gemini Twins shot below), so the key is to mix everything so the audience can’t quite put their finger on it..there is a great Behind the Scenes video (www.timtadder.com) on my site that really shows how this was done. That shoot was huge, and I spent weeks in Pre-production on it. The wardrobe was custom stitched, the CGI sets crafted before the shoot, the animals cast, and the cast was pulled from all over the globe. That shoot was a mission…I would say three weeks solid of pre-production and four weeks in post…but it’s unique and quite amazing. Of course, you only see what was selected by the client and how hey wanted it to sell beer, but the images I love are far more subtle, but that does not sell beer.

Tim Tadder Tecate Zodiac

Of all the athletes you have shot over the years, which one(s) would you say brought the most personality to the shoot? That’s too difficult to answer. There are so many levels of shoot energy, and sometimes the creative requires more personality than others. I will tell you Cam Newton was spectacular as a comedian and told the most jokes. Simone Biles was spectacular and amazing. But there have been so many. I love when I shoot athletes year after year sometimes for the same client sometimes for other clients, but they remember me. Sometimes they greet me with big hugs, and I feel like an old friend. That’s always surprising. I guess they liked the images.

Tim Tadder Website

Your personal projects are amazing. What inspired your Bella Umbrella project? Was that project as messy to shoot as it looks? This project was inspired by things I saw on Instagram. I had been following this LA street artist, and he did all this rad stuff with military smoke bombs. I wanted to do something with him, but he is really dark and quite theatrical. Then I saw this image with smoke and a vintage umbrella in a forest and thought that if I could simplify and elevate the elegance that I would have a beautiful collection of images. The project was a mess and destroyed some expensive vintage clothing. I think it looks easier than it actually was. We took the smoke bombs and taped them to the umbrellas, but when the umbrellas caught fire and the clothes burned, I had to take another approach. So some of these were in camera, and some were composites of smoke plates and the talent. The stylist freaked out and I freaked because I did not want to hurt anyone but we decided we could make happen without any risk.

Tim Tadder Bella Umbrella project

What piece of camera equipment can you not live without? Hmmm, I don’t really have a piece of camera equipment I can’t live without. I don’t believe the tools make the image I believe that the concept, thought, idea the passion make the image. The camera and lens are no more part of the process than a burner on a stove is to a chef.  A chef can make a meal with any type of stove, just as a photographer make can make an image with any type of camera.

Tim Tadder Website

From the behind the scenes video’s on your website, it looks like you have fun on the set when shooting. Do you find that keeping things fun puts people at ease and allows them to open up? Always. It’s a blessing and an honor to do what we do. It’s fun, but it’s really important to do a good job because people’s careers are at stake. We really must remember that we are doing something that is amazing, creative and fun. back in the day I used to get all worked up, but that never helped. It never makes a better image, so let’s make it easy and let’s make it fun so that people leave with a good taste in their mouth.

Tim Tadder Badasses on White

What does the perfect Tim Tadder day look like? Making pancakes for my kids, creating some amazing images that make people go “holy shit”, having dinner with my family and watching the Ravens beat the crap out of the Steelers on Monday Night Football.

What advice do you have for aspiring photographers looking to enter this ultra-competitive industry? You better absolutely love, love, love creating images. You must be willing to work 20 hours a day for years and years. You must be willing to lay it all on the line and never give up. You must have to have a thick skin, a really thick skin, and not be deterred by failure. You have to be willing to make thousands of mistakes and keep making them until you get it right. You have to be willing to produce new work always and you need to be planning your personal work all the time. It’s never ending even for me. You can never take the foot off the gas. If your not willing to do that, then it might not be for you.

Tim Tadder Conept

If you weren’t a professional photographer what would you be doing? I’d run for President, seems like not a lot of people want that job these days.


This post is sponsored by: photofolio-io

Why did you choose Photo Folio for your website? I think the system is simple and presents my work in a clean and clear way. Clients can get right to the point. All I want is for my images to speak to the audience with nothing else getting in the way. The content management system is great and makes creating edits super easy.

Many of the world’s top photographers, like TimTadder, showcase their work with a website from PHOTO FOLIO . Isn’t it time you put the power of PHOTO FOLIO to work for you?

Webb’s pictures offer a soothing antidote of high quality craftsmanship

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For those that worry that the iPhone-toting hordes will soon overrun photography, Webb’s pictures offer a soothing antidote of high quality craftsmanship. As I passed from image to image, my head was continually nodding, acknowledging the real pleasure that is derived from smartly built photographs.

More here: Alex Webb: La Calle, Photographs from Mexico @Aperture – Collector Daily

Creative Calls Are Crucial

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Creative calls are a crucial part of the process and can shape opinions along the way. I go into each bidding process knowing that we could end up with any of the three shooters. Work alone probably won’t get the award; it’s very much about what you bring to the table on the creative calls & development, and of course how the numbers fall. I don’t think it would be doing anyone any favors to say they’re recommended shooter only to have a job potentially award to one of the other photographers also being considered.

Read More: Anonymous Art Producer Offers Tips on Estimating | Notes From A Rep’s Journal

How Not to Design a Photobook – All Photographers Need A Good Editor

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Because photographers are visual, they usually assume two things: that they can design and that they can edit. But they benefit by letting someone else in. It doesn’t matter how well-known a photographer is, the fact is all photographers need a good editor, someone who they can trust checking or proposing picture and sequence decisions. It’s probably the most important part of putting a book together. Often the photographer is too close to the work, or to certain images, and they have a tendency to want to use more images, when they should let some of them go. The reverse can also be true. A photographer can become fixed on particular pictures. I usually want to see a wider edit than the photographer initially has in mind, and quite often between ten and twenty percent of the final picture selection will come in from this broader selection. This doesn’t seem like much, but it can make the difference between the mediocre and the sublime.

Read More: http://aperture.org/blog/design-photobook/

The Closing Of Brooks Institute Is Not A Statement About The Photography Market

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Photography has never been about how many professionals there are, and how or what they charge, where they went to school, how they learned, how hard or easy it is, how smart or stupid the successful ones are, what camera you use, or how many amateurs can look like or claim to be professionals. In every field of art, the people who put difficulty, practice, problem solving, commitment, learning, opportunity and service as the core to making a meaningful life will always find the answer. Looking into the masses of lawyers, accountants, guitarists, painters, plumbers, salespeople, teachers, drummers and photographers, and thinking that there are too many of this or that, or that it is easier to be one thing or another is just plain hysterical reaction to life. It isn’t easy to be alive in this world… it never has been… get over it.

Read more from Dennis Keeley on his Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/dennis.keeley

Not Marketing Has Devastating Effects On Business

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…not marketing has devastating effects on business. There are way too many talented photographers in the marketplace for a photographer not to market. Think about it. If a photographer chooses not to market, that means their imagery and their name is not as top of mind as the next person’s. That means, when a project comes up, most likely, the person who IS top of mind will rise to the top of the consideration list. That also means that the other photographer will get the opportunity to engage with the agency and client, they will get the opportunity to estimate and ultimately they will get the opportunity to bid on the job and develop the relationship.

More: Want to Know What I Told Photographers While I Reviewed Portfolios at the Palm Springs Photo Festival? | Notes From A Rep’s Journal