Posts by: A Photo Editor

The Art of the Personal Project: Paolo Marchesi

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As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Paolo Marchesi

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How long have you been shooting?
20 years

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I went to Brooks Institute of Photography

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Living in Montana I had seen many rodeos, some smaller and others bigger and more commercialized. I find the bigger, more commercialized, rodeos to eventually get repetitive and not so interesting. Shooting the high school rodeo took all the commercial aspect out and it made it for a true experience. I was blown away by how good and tough these kids were. They are the real deal cowboys.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I had shot many rodeos over the years of living in Montana but none touched me as much as this one. You could truly feel the tension and energy. These kids and their parents put their soul into it and it showed.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I tend to get distracted too easily by my many interests. I find it difficult to shoot the same thing over and over. I usually move from personal project to personal project. I like to experience it all and if you look at my body of work it shows. At times it can be detrimental as people like to see photographers who specialize.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I never shoot for my portfolio, my personal work is my portfolio. Since the beginning of my career as a photographer I only photographed things that I was passionate about or involved in. I never specifically photographed subjects that might sell or get me a job. If I am not interested in them I don’t shoot them. I became a photographer by documenting my lifestyle and activities I participate in.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I post on facebook and instagram. I started writing short stories in chapters on Instagram and has been fun. I love story telling using images and words. I just finished three stories about my dogs that had quite some success. You can check them out on Instagram @marchesiphoto

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Yes, I had a picture of a trout jumping and a river surfing story I wrote and photographed that went viral. For sure great press but I can’t associate much monetary gain from it.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes, I have printed them as promos.

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It all started with that trout at age 4. It was a beautiful morning on the Sesia River in the Italian Alps. Who would have known that a fish could change someone’s life forever. Many years and more fish went by before I graduated in Design from The Istituto Europeo Di Design, in Milan. I worked as a Junior Art Director in Paris and as a designer in Italy until I picked up a camera. It didn’t take long to realize that T squares and rulers weren’t for me. I grabbed the camera and flew across the Atlantic to move to Santa Barbara California where I graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography with a Degree in Commercial Photography. Upon graduation I packed my bags and moved to San Francisco. San Francisco is a cool city, and no one can deny it but every time I drove to Hat Creek or the Owens River to fly fish or the Sierras to climb something happened inside me. The peace and beauty of rivers and mountains inspired me and raised many questions. I had been working in the city for 5 years, doing mostly digital and studio photography until one day stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge on my way to Yosemite I asked myself why? I watched the driver next to me honk in anger at the stranger in front of him and asked myself why again? I asked myself why many times until in spring 1999 I packed everything and moved to Montana. I wanted to be closer to my cold blooded friends and nature, away from stress and a crowded existence. A few years later, while visiting my brother in Indonesia, I discovered surfing and rekindled my passion for the Ocean. I realized I needed surf and Ocean in my life to have a complete picture. I decided to buy a house in Todos Santos, Mexico and have been splitting my life between the two places. Working worldwide from Mexico and Montana focusing my photography on the outdoor activities I love to do and being outside in nature in search for a new adventure. Couldn’t do it any differently…


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 has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

I Don’t Object To Staging – The Honesty Lies In My Ability To Understand

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I remember your picture of a Spanish woman throwing water into the street. Was this staged?

A. I would not have hesitated to ask her to throw the water. (I don’t object to staging if and only if I feel that it is an intensification of something that is absolutely authentic to the place.)

Q. Cartier-Bresson never asks for this…. Why do you break this basic rule of candid photography?

A. I didn’t write the rules — why should I follow them? Since I put a great deal of time and research to know what I am about? I ask and arrange if I feel it is legitimate. The honesty lies in my — the photographer’s — ability to understand.

Q. Why do you print your own pictures?

A. The same reason a great writer doesn’t turn his draft over to a secretary… I will retouch.

via Discussing Honesty in Imagery – NYTimes.com.

Josef Koudelka on Motivation, Humanity and What Makes a Good Photograph

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LH: How important is composition in your photographs?

JK: It’s not a good photograph without good composition. Originally I’m an aeronautical engineer. Why do airplanes fly? Because there is balance.

A good photograph speaks to many different people for different reasons. It depends on what people have been through and how they react.

The other sign of good photography for me is to ask, “What am I going to remember?” It happens very, very rarely that you see something that you can’t forget, and this is the good photograph.

via PDN Online.

World Press Photo Sets The Bar For Allowed Image Adjustments

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Bravo to World Press Photo for taking a leadership role in the debate of what levels of image enhancements, adjustments and manipulation are acceptable for photojournalism. As the winners of this years contest were announced the news that 20% of images that made the final round were rejected for “manipulation or careless post-processing” left many people with jaws agape.

You can engage in the debate with the links below (if you haven’t already), but I wanted to highlight what I think are very important changes in how image adjustments are viewed.

David Campbell, Secretary of the 2015 Photo Contest jury, tweeted out the following:

This is a major departure from the old standard of “digital darkroom” which tried to allow old darkroom techniques used by many of the great photojournalists.

This departure is highlighted by Jury chairwoman, Michele McNally in a story on the lens blog titled “Debating the Rules and Ethics of Digital Photojournalism” where she states:

“digital is not film, it is data — and it requires a new and clear set of rules”

It’s also worth noting that World Press Photo called in all the RAW files for images in the penultimate round and then had independent experts perform forensics on the images and present their findings to the jury.

I think World Press Photo has taken some important steps this year in leading by example. The old darkroom technique of burning and dodging things out of your images are OUT but processes that adjust the aesthetics are IN.

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/17/world-press-photo-manipulation-ethics-of-digital-photojournalism

https://storify.com/davidc7/what-are-world-press-photos-rules-and-standards-on

http://blog.photoshelter.com/2015/02/world-press-photo-eliminates-20-percent-of-images-for-manipulation/

http://www.bjp-online.com/2015/02/image-manipulation-hits-world-press-photo/

http://time.com/3706626/world-press-photo-processing-manipulation-disqualified/

https://www.david-campbell.org/photography/manipulation-examples/

https://bitly.com/bundles/martijnkleppe/m

The Art of the Personal Project: Jeremiah Stanley

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As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Jeremiah Stanley

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Full disclosure, Jeremiah is a current client of mine.

How long have you been shooting?
I guess I’m kind of a late bloomer as they say. I didn’t buy my first digital camera until I was 28 (I’m 34 now) and recently accepted into the photojournalism program at the University of Florida.

It wasn’t until I got into Eddie Adams Workshop XXV in 2012 (team Lilac forever!) that I decided to give photography all I’ve got. There I had the opportunity to shake hands with and get portfolio reviews from amazing portrait photographers like Gregory Heisler (I think I actually ruined his breakfast) and Dan Winters. After meeting them and hearing them speak, I was changed forever as a person and photographer.

So, to answer your question, I’ve been shooting commercially for about 3 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I graduated from the photojournalism program at the University of Florida and I absolutely loved my time there. It wasn’t so much the technical skills and training that I benefited from the most, but it was the people I had the chance to meet while in school.

For instance, Sports Illustrated photographer Bill Frakes was my Advanced-2 photography professor. I mean how crazy is that right?! Also, I met the great portrait photographer Andrew Hetherington while he was there on assignment for Fortune magazine, which was a major turning point for me. Both of these men continue to be great mentors to me to this day.

Having a photojournalism background has also been a huge advantage in my portrait work. Photojournalsim is all about catching that moment and telling a story and portraiture is a lot of the same. You’re looking for that special something, that one moment that will tell the story of that person or tell a story through that person. I think going through photojournalism school has been a huge advantage for what I do now, even though it wouldn’t be considered true photojournalism.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
People. It’s always about people. I love people.

Everyone is so unique and everyone has a story to tell and most people, when given the chance, really want to tell their story. It’s something that just fascinates me. And as a portrait photographer, I get to explore different worlds and dive into people’s lives on a daily basis and I absolutely love that.

I’ve always had the ability to approach people from all different types of economic and social backgrounds and having that ability really helped out with this project. Being approachable and respectful really goes a long way. All of the bikers we photographed were very nice and courteous, but if you can’t relate, on some level at least, to the person you’re photographing, then your portraits will be nothing – they’ll be flat and lack substance.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I actually photographed this project in one day and I presented it on the web shortly after.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Usually after the first few shoots and when I get them on a screen I can tell if there’s enough beef there to actually have something worth looking at. My wife, Meredith, is a really great editor and she provides me with a generous amount of honest insight into how the project is taking shape from an outside perspective. For this project, I knew after the first woman I photographed that this was going to be something good. I never know how good, but I had a feeling people would be interested in looking at these portraits.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
This one is always an interesting question to me or maybe it’s just because I’m still early in my career.

For me, it’s all personal and it may be cliche to say, but for me there’s literally no distinction from shooting for my portfolio and shooting personal work. My approach is one and the same. Every time I’m working toward making an image, whether in pre-production, while shooting, or post-production, I’m using all of myself, both physically and mentally. I’m using all my past experiences, good and bad, to interpret the world around me which will affect the images I make. And for me that’s the goal. I want my personal experiences to affect the images and when they do, that’s when I know what I’m making is real and honest and truthful.

It’s when photography turns into an outlet and an extension of myself that I begin making real images, and I think that’s why editors and directors hire me or at least that’s why I hope they do and hope they do in the future. It’s the photographer’s own, personal voice that speaks the loudest and when I’m allowed to explore the world from my vantage point, really great things can happen. The only difference here is that sometimes a company or firm fronts the bill and sometimes I do. But whenever I’m shooting or working toward a shoot, it’s all personal.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yes, certainly. Getting your work out there for people to see is half the battle.

Here’s my shameless plug:

www.Facebook.com/JeremiahStanleyPhoto
www.Twitter.com/JeremiahStanley
www.Instagram.com/miahstanphoto

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Not yet. Still waiting for my 15 minutes of fame.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I sure have and will be doing the same with this one. I actually love walking into meetings with this project in my book and I enjoy trying to guess before each meeting what type of reaction they’re going to have. Even if an editor or art director are quick flippers, they’ll almost always stop when they get to the ‘Bikers’ project.

Once I was in a meeting with about 8 creative directors and after a few minutes they were all huddled together, standing over the portfolio, pointing, laughing and asking questions. And that’s exactly what you want to happen during a meeting.

ARTIST STATEMENT ABOUT THE PROJECT:

This project was photographed at a biker event in a small Florida town called Leesburg. Every year, about 300,000 people come together here to talk about and look at bikes. I, of course, came to look at the people.

It’s always hard to guess what type of people will come to any particular event as often times the images in my head of the people I think will attend don’t always match the people that actually show up to that event. In this case though, they absolutely exceeded what I had hoped for.

I hired an assistant to hold one light near the rear on a monopod and I held another light off to the front side, also on a monopod, and shot with the other hand (you can actually see the exact set-up in some of the reflections in their sunglasses). We were basically a walking, mobile studio literally carrying all of the gear on our backs and shooting simultaneously on-the-fly.

I decided to leave the background messy, and not worry too much about composition, because I’ve seen tons of similar projects where the photographer pulls them onto some type of seamless backdrop and I wanted this one to be different. I really wanted to bring the viewer into the event, as if they were actually standing right there themselves looking at that particular person, using the environment of the event itself to help.

To make the portrait series have a cohesive look and feel, I used the same focal-length lens (with an ND filter to bring down the background exposure), lighting, and angle, while only changing the physical locations. We were there shooting for about 10 hours and met some incredible people.

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Jeremiah Stanley is a commercial and editorial portrait photographer based in Florida and Dallas (It’s currently 81 degrees outside). He enjoys hiking with his 9-year-old daughter and the Texas Two-Step. His portraiture recently won an American Photography 30 award and a PDN World in Focus award. He was also selected to be a part of Eddie Adams Workshop XXV. If he wasn’t a photographer, he would be a competitive barbeque smoker. Please contact him directly to see what his photography can do for you.

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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Will ASME Stand Up For Magazine Editors And Punish Condé Nast?

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In a clear violation of the ASME (American Society of Magazine Editors) Guidelines, Condé Nast has asked their Editors to write advertorials for the magazines they edit:

Condé Nast caused a stir in the media world Monday when it announced plans for a new studio that will allow marketers to work directly with editors at its magazines to create “branded content,” ads designed to blend in with regular articles.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/write-ads-conde-nast-staff-is-wary-1422404937

ASME Editorial Guidelines state:

9. Don’t Ask Editors to Write Ads
Editorial staff should not participate in the creation of advertising. Editorial contributors should not participate in the creation of advertising if their work would appear to be a conflict of interest.

http://www.magazine.org/asme/editorial-guidelines

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The Board of Directors reserves the right to expel from membership in ASME any editor of a print or online magazine who willfully or repeatedly violates the ASME Guidelines for Editors and Publishers.

http://www.magazine.org/asme/about-asme/asme-bylaws

The National Magazine Awards are tonight and they’re even giving renown photojournalist James Nachtwey an award for Creative Excellence. I wonder if ASME will stick up for editors and next year The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, W, Wired, GQ, Bon Appétit, Traveler and Details will not be allowed to participate? Challenging times for magazines for sure.

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For W. Eugene Smith 90% Of The Image Is Done In The Darkroom

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At least fifty percent of the image is done in the darkroom—I think Gene would say ninety percent. The negative has the image, but it can’t produce the image completely, as the photographer saw it—not as Gene saw it. You have to work it over and over with the enlarger, you have to burn it in, you have to hold back areas—this detail down here or over there.”

Karales continued, getting more specific about the technique: “Gene always liked to get separations around people, figures, and that was always done with potassium ferrocyanide. It was the contrast that made the prints difficult. Gene saw the contrast with his eyes, but the negative wouldn’t capture it the same way. So he would have to bring the lamp down and burn, and then if that spilled too much exposure and made it too dark, you would lighten it with the ferrocyanide. You had to be careful not to get the ferrocyanide too strong, and yet you couldn’t have it too weak, either. If it took too long, it would spread. So I would blow the fixer off of the paper so ferrocyanide would stay in an area, and then dunk the paper right away to kill the action. Or if you wanted something to go smoother, then you left the fixer there. It was extremely delicate and complicated, but we got it down pat.”

via In the Darkroom with W. Eugene Smith.

The Art of the Personal Project: Cameron Davidson

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As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Cameron Davidson

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How long have you been shooting?
Professionally since 1980 – 34 years.  I started shooting as a 10th grader with an Agfa Isolete I found in a closet.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Mixture of both.  I studied on my own through high school by constantly going through Modern and Popular Photography annuals and by studying the work of the photo gods of that era – Arnold Newman, Jay Maisel, Ernst Haas and Pete Turner.  I also did the indentured servant route by working with several DC based photographers – the most notable being Ross Chapple, an exceptional architectural shooter who taught me how to light. 

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I have worked and shot in Haiti since 1999.  I was on the board of the NGO Community Coalition for Haiti and shot many of their projects.  The work I shot for CCH between 1999 and 2012 documentary in approach.  This project was shot for a new NGO, Goals Beyond the Net and I wanted to slow my approach down.  The goal was to stay in one place – the soccer field in Jacmel and shoot portraits of the players over four days.  My goal was to take one lens, one strobe and one camera and keep it simple.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it? 
I shot the project in the summer of 2013.  I started showing it that winter and was fortunate to place second in the portraiture contest for the National APA contest.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working? 
I pre-planned what and how I was going to shoot.  I was committed to the project before I flew to Haiti and knew that it had to work.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I like it  – it shows a different side of me.  Many people think of me as an aerial photographer and I have always been more than that.  I love shooting portraits and showing a personal project that shows a different approach to me is always a positive.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I do use Instagram and Twitter.  Tumblr is the blog right now but that is getting ready to change when I launch my new web site this winter. 

Instagram is only black and white images shot on the road or on assignments.  Usually, behind the scenes pictures, found objects or views from helicopters.  Twitter is a mix.  Articles I found, links to stories about photography or web sites.

instagram.com/camdavidsonphoto

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If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Nothing has ever gone viral.  I’ve seen quite a bit of my aerial work posted to the click-bait sites – you know they type – 25 most interesting aerials views of the world or 10 sites to see from the air.  That type of site.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes, I have.  I printed with MagCloud, a retrospective of sorts.  It was called 13 years, and it is available light portraits shot in Haiti for CCH. 

STATEMENT:
The portraits in the Goals Beyond the Net project were shot over one week in Jacmel, Haiti in support of the NGO.  The goal was to shoot portraits of young soccer players who are enrolled in the GBN program.  I wanted clean and simple images without posturing that reflected the honesty and drive of these young players. 

The images have been used to increase donations, as gifts to donors and for promotion for the NGO.  I made prints of each person I photographed and send them to Jacmel.  Two months later, I was given a box of handwritten letters – in French, Creole and English thanking me for the photographs.

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Cameron Davidson’s passion for photography took root in his teens when he found an old Agfa Isolette camera at the bottom of his closet and began looking at life through a lens. It blossomed further, when he discovered the contours and contrasts of a world measured by altitude and sheer natural beauty from the rear cabin of a turbine helicopter.

For more than thirty years, Cameron developed the artistic skills that have helped him to become an acclaimed aerial, environmental, editorial, corporate, and fine art photographer. Simplicity and elegance make his work transcendent. He has photographed locations and people in 49 states, 6 Canadian provinces, and 29 countries. His compelling aerial images of North American landscapes and cities have graced the pages of publications ranging from National Geographic to The Washington Post. His six books – Chesapeake; Washington DC from Above; Chicago from Above; A Moment of Silence: Arlington National Cemetery; Over Florida; and Our Nation’s Capital: An Aerial Portrait – embed character and personality into the grandest and simplest photos. His eye for the visual has opened boardroom doors to many premier corporate assignments, including annual reports, as well as high-profile editorial venues. A partial list of his clients include ESPN, Money, Audubon, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Wired, Vanity Fair, AARP, Dominion Resources, General Dynamics, M&T Bank, Virginia Tourism, SEIU, Standard Life, and some of the top advertising agencies in the world.

Cameron has lived in Virginia, Texas, and Michigan. He now resides in the community of Alexandria in northern Virginia. Reach him at 703-845-0547 or via email.

Goals Beyond the Net: http://goalsbeyondthenet.org

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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

The First Conversation Is No Longer About the Photography It’s About the Photographer

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Photographers Rep, Heather Elder, has a conversation with her photographers every year defining creatively and financially what a successful 2015 will look like. She has a post up on her blog notesfromarepsjournal.com with two very important trends happening in our industry: http://notesfromarepsjournal.com/2015/01/13/want-to-know-what-we-told-our-photographers-about-2015

These trends reveal a change in the conversation she has with creatives where it is now assumed that anyone being considered is 100% right for the project and has the talent, vision and skills to pull it off.

Now, instead of scrutinizing your work, it is about how much can you shoot? What is your vision for the photography? Do you have similar libraries to show the client? There will be a lot of moving parts, how will you produce this project? Are you willing to negotiate? And, will they enjoy being on the production with the photographer?

And social media is a natural conduit where these conversations can begin. Many photographers have the chops, but are not having the conversation with their potential clients. Here’s a post to push you in the right direction.

The Art of the Personal Project: Ryan Heffernan

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As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers advertise in LeBook. Check out his link at http://www.lebook.com/ryanheffernan. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Ryan Heffernan

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How long have you been shooting?
9 years

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Mix of both. I went the liberal arts route for undergrad but spent two seasons after working at the Santa Fe Photography Workshops. I consider that time to be photography school. Growing up with a photographer father immersed me in that world from an early age as well.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Growing up in St. Helena, CA it was amazing to watch the valley transform into a massive production every harvest. I wanted to explore the contrast between wine as a luxury good and the hard labor that went on behind the scenes.

The project took me to Mendoza, Argentina and Tarija, Bolivia in addition to the Napa Valley.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
3

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Tough to say. I plan to continue shooting this project for many years to come, so it’s hard to define where they begin and end.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
It feels pretty similar in the end. I’m always trying to make the most interesting images possible.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yes, mostly Instagram although I’m not prolific.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Not yet.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I haven’t promoted them in print.

Born and raised in Northern California as the son of accomplished still-life photographer, Ryan was immersed in the world of photography and design from an early age. Today Heffernan is an advertising photographer and commercial director, based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico and San Francisco, California. He specializes in photographing people in their landscapes, aiming to tell unique stories and works for diverse clients ranging from Adobe Systems, UBS, Leo Burnett, The Martin Agency, and New Mexico Tourism to Outside Magazine, GQ, McGarrah Jessee and a host of others.

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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

The Art of the Personal Project: Neil DaCosta

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As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Neil DaCosta

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How long have you been shooting?
12 Years, the first half was strictly snowboard images.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I have a degree from RIT, but that only teaches you the basics. I learned the most from self-teaching after entering “the real world”.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
The other collaborators and I had talked for a while about doing a Mormon project. We were not happy with their meddling in California’s Proposition 8 and their views/actions on homosexuality in general.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
The shoot only took one day. We released it the next week, I think. We wanted it to be released while Romney was still running for President.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Not long. If I am not feeling it, I scrap it and move on to the next one. That doesn’t mean I don’t get a few images out of it that I might be happy with, but I know whether it is worth pursuing longer-term or not.

The toughest part for me is not sharing a project prematurely. I am working on one now focused on guns. I really want to start showing of the photos I have, but know it will be better if I wait until I feel like it is a complete body of work.

As for the Mormon project, by the first frame, we knew we had something good.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
To keep my sanity intact, I combine the two. I see my portfolio as an extension of my character, but I also understand that it has to be geared towards getting work. When I see a hole in the portfolio, I then come up with a personal project to fill it. As an example, talking over my portfolio with my rep, it was decided that I needed some images that had younger faces, multiple people, a motion piece, and production value. I then started to brainstorm on how I could have fun within those parameters. My series Teenage Angst was the result. Although I will never enjoy dry walling, every other aspect of that project was a blast and I am proud of showing those photos/video in my portfolio.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Constantly. It is a free way to get your work out there. I haven’t personally dabbled in Reddit too much, but other people have posted my work on there and it gets a lot of hits. Mormon Missionary Positions got as big as it did because of Reddit.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
As prefaced above, the first day the Mormon project got released, a well known Redditor (is that even a word?) posted it on there and it went crazy. It crashed our server and we had to upgrade it in the middle of the night. The first day it had over a quarter million views. And in the past two years it has entered the ebb and flow of the Internet. A blogger in Turkey will post it and all of a sudden there are 3,000 hits in a day from there.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes. With this project I made a promo piece that I sent to a few targeted people that I have worked with previously or really want to work with. With inspiration from the cut out bibles that you can hide a flask/gun/contraband in, I bought about 50 Books Of Mormon from the local Mormon bookstore. I then cut holes in them and glued the pages together. In the holes, I dropped a stack of photos from the project. Attached the project’s artist statement and sent them out.

It is weird though, I still haven’t been hired to shoot any paying Mormon jobs!

Artist Statement:

Sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, are sinful and undermine the divinely created institution of the family. The Church accordingly affirms defining marriage as the legal and lawful union between a man and a woman.

LDS Handbook 2
21.4.10
A visual discourse into the relationship of state and church.

Neil DaCosta is represented by Held & Associates http://www.cynthiaheld.com

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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

As The Cameras Become Ubiquitous All We Have Is Craft To Differentiate Us

- - Working

I can take a significantly better looking image with my iPhone today, than I could with a $22K digital camera in 1999. A teenager can share an image so much more easily with millions of people, for free, and do so so much more quickly, than I could as a photojournalist at The New York Times less than a decade ago… and that’s amazing, and at times of course: scary.

Both the QUALITY and COST have been evened out within our business: and historically that’s relatively rare.

The question we now must all ask ourselves as creative professionals is: how do we survive within this new landscape? (especially in one that is moving so fast!)

[…] Well then answer has been around for awhile. It’s nothing new: it’s called SKILL and KNOWLEDGE OF (and respect of) CRAFT.

Am I an idealist? SURE – but I also think I’m quite grounded in reality. And I think that as the cameras become ubiquitous, as everyone gravitates towards the same tools, the playing field will truly become leveled, and ironically we’ll discover that our only true differentiator in time will become the author’s understanding of how they can best put those tools into use. That is what will ultimately set us apart from one another. The exponentially increasing camera technology will indeed be its own worst enemy.

— Vincent Laforet

Read the whole post on: Vincent Laforet’s Blog.

Paying Homage To Julian Richards, An Irreverent, Demented Master Of Ceremonies Disguised As An Agent

- - Art Producer, Artist Rep

Guest Post by Marni Beardsley, Director of Art Production at Wieden + Kennedy

the news spreading around for the last few months of julian richards closing shop was something you desperately hoped to be a silly rumor. even with his talented photographers asking my opinion on new homes and the website now defunct in such a bizarre way—classic julian—you still wanted to bury your head in the sand. for it’s hard to imagine the photo industry without its eccentric-visionary-genius-bigmouth-wizard in residence. i forgot how much i enjoy julian’s exceptionally unique writing style and musings. his pdn interview with amy wolff is without question the best i’ve read in years. no one to better sum up the industry so eloquently and brutally as julian—always with a healthy dose of sheer hilariousness.

i suppose it’s finally time to pull the ole head out of the arse and say thank you to this wildly captivating, twisted, hysterical, dirty, immensely brilliant man.

it’s long been a privilege to work with julian’s smartly curated roster including chris buck, michael mclaughlin, david barry, greg miller, sian kennedy and the late, great james smolka, among other gifted artists julian has represented over the years. he not only represented the highest caliber artist within his specialized niche, but he also knew the importance of vetting personality. in other words, no pompous assholes allowed. as such, you could count on every last photographer to be kind, dedicated and genuine, delivering nothing but top-shelf-quality content while ensuring an enjoyable, positive experience for all.

but the real treat was getting to watch a true genius in action. an irreverent, demented master of ceremonies disguised as an agent. yet we all knew he was much, much more than that. to say julian was a refreshing respite from the typical agent/art producer dynamic is a gross understatement. as you found yourself hanging onto every fascinating thought that left his crazy, often repulsive mouth, you knew you were gonna be in for one hell of a fun ride, a ride that would be filled with the purpose of achieving nothing but the finest picture taking and creative problem solving i’d ever witnessed.

there are countless stories of working with julian, but one in particular stands out the most. it credits his unconventional solutions or, perhaps better yet, his sheer insanity. and yet julian’s duplicitous plan worked beautifully; the work was off-the-charts exceptional, creatives and clients walked away extremely happy and i was left standing, jaw dropped to the floor.

the concept involved photographing the talent in some sort of bizarre-looking space suit in an environment that obviously didn’t make any sense for him to be in. visually it needed to have a bold, modern, arresting quality with a photojournalistic bent. i helped the art director pull some images from one of julian’s photographers who fit the bill perfectly. we sold the concept through to the client, who also loved it. the next natural step was to enlist julian and his photographer, begin estimating and have the almighty creative conference call.

before we get to that, let me just say my art director gravitates to the outlandish, the twisted, the deranged. edgy isn’t good enough. it needs to be completely fucked up. when the art director and i got on the phone with the photographer to discuss the concept and his approach, we found him to be surprisingly soft-spoken and very sweet, with a solid point of view about his vision and how best to execute it. but when we got off the phone, the art director said he wasn’t sold. “why the hell not? his answers to how it would look were spot-on,” i implored. more than that, it was this very photographer’s images that helped sell through the concept.

the art director questioned whether the photographer’s personality was outrageous enough. he wanted someone as fucked up as the concept. i did my best to explain that, more often than not, it’s the quiet, “normal” ones you gotta watch out for. their deviance is expressed through their work. still, he wasn’t confident enough that his energy would bring out the crazy in the talent. “he’s wearing a fucking hazmat space-suit thingy. how the hell are you supposed to bring out personality in that?” i just didn’t get it.

i immediately called julian and explained the situation. after a barrage of hysterical ricky gervais-esque retorts, he said, “i’ve got it! if he wants an outlandish, perverted personality, let’s give it to him. let’s do the call again after the weekend.”

“how would that change anything?” i asked.

“because i’ll pretend to be the photographer.”

monday came, and we did the call again. this time “the photographer” appeared to have dipped into his secret stash of crack cocaine. he was explosive, spastically spewing all sorts of deranged nonsense at 150 miles per hour. there was no getting a word in if you wanted to; between his brilliant psychobabble he was panting profusely, as if he were simultaneously doing one-handed push-ups.

the art director LOVED it. ate up every word and the crazy energy behind it. toward the end of the call they exchanged some perverted absurdity, and the next thing i knew it was locked and loaded. i stood there in complete shock, desperately trying to contain my laughter. my art director didn’t seem to think it was odd that a person could do a complete 180 in personality. even more shocking, he also didn’t notice that halfway through the diatribe, a heavy british accent crept into the conversation. people often overuse the expression “peed my pants,” but i literally urinated—not in a toilet—from the hilariousness of it all.

sadly, with julian out of the business these ludicrous stories are now a thing of the past. thankfully i have the reminder of a six-foot blow-up doll bequeathed to me by lord richards—much to the confusion of my coworkers and my kids when they visit my office. i do, however, now semi-hide a photograph created by julian’s alter ego, a highly conceptual pervert who goes by the name perkin lovely. the photograph in question is a tightly cropped shot of a naked, pasty-white, hairy man with his package tucked between his legs. in its place is a ridiculously huge black dildo with a toy piglet perched on top, happily waving “hello!” “look, mommy, there’s piglet!” squealed my then-four-year-old daughter when she visited. i realized winnie-the-pooh would have a whole new meaning if i didn’t move it pronto.

better yet are the scintillating emails i’ve squirreled away that span 20 years. these unrestrained and dirty poetic reveries would be better served in the publishing world instead of a folder titled “fucked up brilliant shit” created just for him. if i could share one i would, but i don’t want to get sued.

as wildly successful as julian has been all these years as a photo agent, this legend is more than likely going to blow our minds even further with his next adventure—whatever that may be. i hope it fully utilizes his fantastical performing ability and enviable storytelling that are deeply rooted in this brilliant wordsmith’s dna.

as julian takes his well-deserved final bow, we are left with no other option than to applaud wildly with much gratitude and respect. and maybe even a little bit of urine in our pants.

—marni beardsley on behalf of the art production departments at wieden+kennedy

Photographers’ Rep Julian Richards on Why He Abruptly Quit the Business

- - Working

PDN: What kinds of changes to the industry had the biggest impact on your work as an agent?

JR: Before I answer, I should say that the governing principles remain the same. It’s a timeless dynamic, going door-to-door flogging stuff. There’s all sorts of nuance, but it only takes one bout of sitting in an advertising agency’s reception area surrounded by portfolios—waiting for the assistant art buyer to totter out and escort you to a conference room—to allay any doubt that there’s something fundamentally Willy Loman about the whole gig. That hasn’t changed. Nor has the fact that we need them more than they need us.

There were times I’d take some conference call, having stepped away from the dinner table at home; I’d be pacing about on the porch, gesticulating like a spastic cranefly, snorting, laughing too loud, spouting platitudes about “authenticity” and “shooting from the inside out.” Then I’d come back in and there’d be [my family] Juliette, Winnie and Dusty staring at me with half eaten meals and that collective “who the fuck are you?” look. Like the girls had just watched their dad dance on a bar in a Speedo for nachos.

Digital changed the landscape. Before the pixel, craft was still an elemental component of the narrative. A process that involved trusting strips of cellulose in a mysterious dark box was replaced by instant, impeccable rendering, in situ on vast monitors. The photographer’s role as sorcerer and custodian of the vision was diminished: The question “have we got it?” became redundant. Now it was the photographer asking the art director asking the client. Which is a big deal. Because the previous dialectic was that you engaged people who brought something to the party you couldn’t provide yourself. Like Magi, the “creatives” brought creativity; photographers, vision. By abdicating those responsibilities to the guy who’s paying, you’re undergoing a sort of self-inflicted castration. A culture of fear and sycophancy develops. Self-worth diminishes, because nobody really likes being a eunuch, even a well-paid one. There’s less currency in having a viewpoint. The answer to the question “What have you got to say?” drifts towards “What do you want me to say?” There’s reward in being generic, keeping one’s vision in one’s pocket. Trouble is, when your vision has spent too long in your pocket, sometimes you reach for it and it’s not there any more. Something Pavlovian sets in: the bell rings when it’s kibble-time and you drool on cue. Suddenly many jobs can be done by many people, photographers become more interchangeable, the question of “Why him over her?” shifts to ancillary aspects of the process; personality, speed, stamina, flexibility. And there’s profit in mutability; being able to gather several photographers under a single umbrella with a shared mandate makes you more flexible and attractive. But the corrosive byproduct is that the unique sniper’s eye of a Greg Miller, Chris Buck, James Smolka, Sian Kennedy becomes not only less relevant, but actually an obstacle. In shifting ground to garner a larger share of the mainstream, you risk losing identity, licking the hand that feeds you.

There were other strands that played into this shift. The “make it look like my niece could have shot it” esthetic; the bespoke corporate stock library with its emphasis on bulk delivery of cliché; endless emphasis on “aspirational” as a reaction to difficult economic times. Oh, and how about the Death of Print? Half the industry getting fired in a month and no sign of a magazine this side of Bulgaria. Loop back to the top. Add decimation and fear.

Read More: PDN Online.

Cinematographer Roger Deakins Shares 25 Pieces of Juicy Filmmaking Knowledge

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Cinematography is a strange blend of creative art and practical resourcefulness. Deakins is aware of this and, while striving for artistic relevance in his films, acknowledges that he sometimes needs to get out of the way and avoid favoring perfectionism over the realistic obstacles of a shoot.

He’s also quick to point out that his job is ultimately to serve the director and that the “art” of cinematography is meaningless when it doesn’t benefit the director’s vision.

It is this combination of attitudes that makes Deakins a voice of reason in cinematography circles. He’s such a capable artist who, at the core of it, is OK with releasing his “art” into the public — shortcomings and all.

Read more here: The Black and Blue.

The Art of the Personal Project: Tom Hussey

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com.

Today’s featured photographer is: Tom Hussey

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How long have you been shooting?
Professionally 20 years. Add in the time when my father first handed me a camera and that makes it seem like 100 years ago.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I am photography school taught. I went to SMU for my undergrad and RIT for my Masters. But with the way technology changes, I am self-taught every day.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I have always been a football fan and aside from my time in high school, I never really followed high school football. Then my stepsons started playing. Their school is small so they played 6 man football. It’s really exciting and high scoring. I was given compete access to the practices, games and locker room for a season. It was so much fun.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I was excited about it right away. I put it out there as soon as I could get the files edited.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I think I am like all creative people. I always second-guess myself. I will work on a project and think it’s going nowhere. I put it away and step away from it for a while and revisit it after I have done some other work. If I do not pull a whole promo out of the project I usually always find one or two strong images for my portfolio. I also use my blog as sort of a working laboratory for a place to get images out there. Things that may never be in my portfolio but images that have merit. Interesting enough, I have walked into creative meetings at agencies only to find they have pulled numerous images from my blog. I guess what I am trying to say is never give up. Something’s working if you are shooting everyday.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I am excited by the difference. If you are standing still in this business and not attempting different things, you are dead in the water so to speak.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Since I post new images daily to my blog those same emails are carried over onto Facebook and linked on Twitter. I use Instagram as a kind of personal sketchbook of thoughts (all random) and behind the scenes things happening on set.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
I have had a couple of things go viral. It’s crazy. Great press is always good. I was in London shooting and when I got back to my hotel the concierge called me over to show me a campaign of my images was featured in The Daily Mail. That stuff always surprises me.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes. I chose to share the football project not because it was my most recent personal project but because it has been referenced by creatives and been attributed to a lot of awarded jobs over the past few years.

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In the course of a diverse 20-year career in commercial advertising photography, Tom Hussey has established a successful advertising studio. Respected industry wide for his lifestyle photography and admired for his lighting techniques, Tom has worked on local, national and international campaigns. Based in Dallas, Texas, TOM HUSSEY Photography, LLC is a full production photography and motion studio.

Tom’s passion for photography began in the early 70’s when his Dad got a new “expensive” SLR camera. Tom asked to take a picture and much to his mother’s horror was handed the camera. He put the camera down briefly but was never far away from it. Tom has taught photography on the college level and worked in the Conservation Laboratory at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House.

Tom is a graduate of Southern Methodist University where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production with a minor in Photography. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Museum Practices and Conservation with an emphasis in Photography from The Rochester Institute of Technology.

Tom Hussey is represented by Michael Ginsburg, 212.369.3594 and in Texas he is represented by Carol Considine 214.741.4034

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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

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