Category "Events"

Shoot LA On Saturday

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I’ll be at Shoot LA on Saturday giving a workshop from 3:15 – 4:15 PM on Social Media Marketing. I’m going to get you pumped up to use social media for marketing your work and finding an audience for projects and ideas you have. I see that Andrew Southam has a discussion from 11:45 – 1:15 and there’s a bunch of other cool workshops and talks so it looks to be worth checking out. Come say hi if you’re going to be there, I always enjoy meeting readers.

More info here:

Portfolio Bootcamp

- - Events, Portfolio

September 23 – 24 Santa Fe’s, CENTER has a retreat-style workshop called portfolio bootcamp that I will be participating in. This is a weekend intensive workshop aimed at photographers of all levels who want to get their portfolios in great shape. If this interests you go here for more information on the event including a list of presenters:

I’m personally excited to hear Robin Fisher-Roffer, of Big Fish Marketing who’s giving a talk on how to stand out and get noticed. She’s a nationally recognized branding expert so I’m sure she will have some great ideas for this. Besides that there will be lots of intensive portfolio discussions and 1 on 1 time to work on books. Even though everyone is hiring off websites anymore, a well crafted book can be an excuse to meet in person and is still a real deal closer.

Social Media Marketing Talk – Portland & Seattle

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I’m hitting the west coast in a couple weeks to give my Social Media Marketing Talk.

I’ll be in Portland for ASMP Oregon on Thursday, June 23rd from 7 – 9pm at Sandbox Studios. More info (here).

Then in Seattle for ASMP Seattle/Northwest on June 29th from 7 – 9 pm at Demaray Hall, Seattle Pacific University. More info (here).

It’s always great to meet blog readers at these events. I shook a lot of hands in Denver and everyone thought the talk was the best they’ve seen on the subject. Hope to see you there.

Thirteen Things I Learned On My Last Panel

One of the great things about being on panels with art buyers and other creatives is the interesting things you learn from them. On this last panel for APA LA called “Why We Hire You” I kept some notes to share what I found out. I was on the panel with Jigisha Bouverat the Director of Art Production at TBWA\CHIAT\DAY, Los Angeles and Mike Kohlbecker the Associate Creative Director/Art Director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Los Angeles. Jigisha has been with the agency for 22 years and manages a team of Art Producers. Mike has worked on some major campaigns.

Here are the things that I thought were worth noting:

1. Before the event Jigisha told me they have been shooting a ton of campaigns in 2011. More this year than in the last year combined.

2. Jigisha loves the blog Feature Shoot and reads it regularly.

3. Several photographers asked the flash vs. html question for websites. Mike said I don’t care. Jigisha said I have no idea what you’re talking about.

4. Mike said he reads most of his email on his android phone and likes it when there’s a mobile version of a site to look at.

5. Mike said on the campaigns he works on, the photographers being considered all are qualified to shoot it, so it comes down to personality as the deciding factor.

6. Jigisha gave an emphatic yes when asked if she likes looking at personal work and said many times the personal work is what they hang on to from marketing material.

7. When asked where she finds new talent Jigisha she’s had good luck with portfolio reviews at the photography schools in LA.

8. Mike and Jigisha agreed that editorial is still a place where they find photographers who are established but haven’t shot advertising before.

9. Mike said he will describe the type of photography he wants for a concept or show moodboards and then Jigisha said she could name 10 photographers off the top of her head that fit any style he could come up with (i was tempted but didn’t test this).

10. Jigisha and her art producers keep internal google docs where they have photographers categorized. She saves links to things she likes to these documents.

11. the advice for the creative call from both of them was:
i. Don’t be the first to speak, gather clues about where this is going from the AD (e.g. it’s going to be bright and happy or it’s going to be dark and moody). If they’ve had other calls before yours you will hear clues on where things are headed.
ii. it’s all about your enthusiasm for the shoot.
iii. it’s easy to tell when you’re faking this.
iv. Mike admitted that sometimes the project has changed and he’s lost his enthusiasm so it’s good if you are enthusiastic about it.
v. Did I mention enthusiasm?

12. When asked if there was anything that happened on a shoot that made them not want to work with a photographer again Jigisha said there was a shoot where the photographer was bad mouthing the Art Director but didn’t know his radio was on. Mike acknowledged he could be a pain in the ass on shoots asking for more coverage of things on the fly.

13. Questions about the triple bid, budgets, pricing and negotiation had Jigisha explaining the Art Producers job is to make sure they get a fair market price for their clients.

Thanks to Andrea Stern for the great questions. Here’s a take of the event from the audience.

Social Media Marketing Talk – Denver

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I’m giving my talk on social media marketing for photographers in Denver on Tuesday. Here’s the ASMP Colorado page with info and the facebook page. If you read the blog and your going to the event come say hi. I’ve found these events are a good opportunity to shake hands with some of my readers.

Date: Tuesday May 24, 2011
Time: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM (Social Hour at 6:00 PM)

Denver Pro Photo
235 S. Cherokee Street
Denver, CO 80223

Why We Hire You – APA LA Panel

This Wednesday, May 18th I will be on a panel with an Art Producer, Creative Director and Art Director at the offices of TBWA-Chiat-Day in LA to help answer the question “why we hire you.” The event is being put on by the LA chapter of APA and Andrea Stern of SternRep. More information can be found (here). I’m excited to talk about the way in which I used to choose and hire photographers and also impart knowledge gained from 3 years of blogging about the subject. The rest of the panel is strictly advertising folks (Jigisha Bouverat, Director of Art Productions TBWA\Chiat\Day; Mike Kohlbecker, Associate Creative Director/Art Director, Crispin Porter + Bogusky; Jake Kahana, Art Director, 72 and Sunny), so it will be interesting to learn about their processes and report back what I find out.

Screen shot 2011-05-16 at 8.03.14 AM

New Media and Diversified Marketing Strategies

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As part of MOPLA (month of photography LA), I’m moderating a panel this Wednesday (April 20th) at Smashbox Studios in Culver City, CA on using new and old media to market your business [New Media + Diversified Marketing Strategies = Business Longevity]. I’ve got Jen Jenkins (Founder, Giant Artists), Kiino Villand (, Keith Goodman (Modern Postcard), Jeremy and Claire Weiss ( and Heidi Volpe (Design Director at Zinio).

The goal will be to discuss the mix of new an old marketing methods that are used to land jobs and reach out to prospects. Also, I want to explore how companies use new media to hire photographers and what they look for when hiring for projects that are a mix of new and old media.

I can’t promise any silver bullets, but I think you will come away with some ideas and inspiration on how you can adjust the mix of your marketing methods.

Two Photographers On A Bus

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Wow, this is impressive. Former Baltimore Sun newspaper photographer David Hobby and Joe McNally of LIFE and National Geographic fame have turned their burgeoning blog/workshop business of teaching hobbyists and semi-pro photographers how to light with small strobes into a 29 city 13,000 mile fully sponsored bus tour (here). First off, it’s amazing how effective blogs are at getting the word out. I honesty don’t think they will have to do a stitch of advertising to sell out all those cities (unless they’re rocking an arena tour). I’m also marveling at these two photographers who’ve looked at what was happening in the business and embraced teaching all these people clamoring to learn more about shooting. Obviously, both are great teachers and this not something you just decide to do overnight unless you have the proper skill set and have spent a good portion of the last 3-5 years developing an audience for it. And the photography manufacturers who’ve gotten on board, what an incredible method to get the word out about your product, a frickin’ bus tour of all things. It’s amazing isn’t it, that in the internet age it comes down to a couple of dudes on a bus. Of course, teaching amateurs how to light their badly conceived images may horrify many of you, but that cat ain’t going back in the bag.


Observations From Photo LA 2011

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John Eder sent me this entertaining report from Photo LA 2011.

I went with my buddy the location scout – he got into that after a career as an assistant. We were gonna play a drinking game where we would have a shot if we saw pictures with:

empty swimming pools
Russian hookers
Indian hookers
any kind of hookers
Indian brothels
deserted strip malls
incredibly sharp images of banal intersections with gas stations
enigmatic pictures that look like stills from movies that never happened
girls in gowns underwater in swimming pools
Anything with 20 of the same thing in a grid pattern – watertowers, neon motel signs, etc.
Anything with North Korea in it
Douglas Kirkland – in any form – on the wall, in person, endorsing something, in a workshop, advertising for a future workshop, anything

We didn’t do it, tho, which is a good thing cos we would have gotten hammered!

Anyway, by Sunday, when we went, all the vendors were bored stiff and would talk your ear off. The gal from Light Works was cool and expounded at length about their really great programs for photographers – residencies, grants, access to their print lab. I’m into that! The guy hawking beautiful ltd. editions of my one-time instructor Jerry Uelsmann let me paw thru all his stuff even when I told him I didn’t have $5K to buy one. Jerry’s work still holds up for me, even in the digital age. I could have sworn the two babes manning the booth for some gallery from Santa Fe were flirting with me, I wonder if they hooked up at the after party with the guy from another gallery who sounded like Cary Grant, or more like Tony Curtis imitating Cary Grant in “Some Like It Hot.” Counted five female patrons with shaved heads, just in that one afternoon. Lots of dudes in designer eyeglasses along the lines of Hockney or Phillip Johnson.

What was striking was the lack of anything really all that new. Nobody from this yrs MOMA “New Photography” show – Alex Prager, Roe Etheridge, etc. No Gursky this year. Only one by Kahn and Selesnick, kind of tucked away, odd cos they seem to be making a big splash with their cool work No Jill Greenberg, who is usually represented. Some truly weird stuff – one thing where you could take your picture in this booth and they photoshopped it into some kind of weird Buddha garden thing. None of the big NYC galleries like Yancey Richardson or Yossi Milo, I guess they don’t have to, no Clampart, nothing like that.

I was thinking about the Clint Clemens interview you did as well, regarding China – there was one Chinese gallery represented, which had a spiffy booth and some nice giveaway postcards, but they were dealing in vintage images of stuff from the 50s in China, which was visually nice but nothing leading edge.

If I had $100K to buy for a zillionaire’s loft, you could have gotten a lot of cool stuff, tho not necessarily for a song, but reams of famous vintage images from the worlds of fashion/ celeb/ journalism available for under $10K. Fetching BIG prices was Helmut Newton. You could have gotten some nice Lillian Bassmans for relatively cheap – one well heeled West Side type power couple were mulling over a purchase as “She’s going to die any minute and they’ll triple.”

Hardly any imitation Eggleston, except for something called “LA Matrix La Brea”, which was heavy on the intersections with gas stations incredibly sharp, Steven Shore involved there along with younger types.

I think the most of one thing we saw was Antarctica/the Arctic/ frozen wastelands with scary icebergs – tons of that! Lots of photo-shopped, manipulated landscapes, which were neat to look at for the most part, tho some of them a little hokey. Also, as usual – we should have put this on the list for our drinking game – there are ALWAYS a million pics of Muhammad Ali at this thing, as was the case this yr.

One of the best things about it, from an overall industry view, was it was way more heavily attended than last yr., and stuff seemed to be selling, even the smaller galleries said business had been good; they felt justified in the outlay of putting up a booth. Last year it was like oh my God the sky is falling, it was not so hot saleswise. There was a lot of stuff with red dots on it, for sold, so that’s encouraging.

I think my fave thing – that stopped me in my tracks and made me laff – was this Corey Arnold pic, on display as the cover of his book:


OK that’s my entirely unsolicited review.

Social Media Marketing Talk

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I’m giving a talk next week in Boise, ID on social media marketing for photographers. If you’re going come say hi afterwards. Here are the specifics:

Social Media has quickly changed the way people communicate and do business. If you’re like most photographers you have Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and maybe you’ve done a bit of blogging, but you haven’t figured out how this fits into your marketing plan. You’re not alone, long established media and advertising businesses were caught off guard as social media revolutionized their industry. Staying informed, making a plan and taking action is essential for anyone running a business in this new environment. In this presentation Rob Haggart will help you make sense of how these new tools work, show you photographers who are finding success with social media and inspire you to take action.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Hotel 43 Downtown Boise
Longitude Room
981 Grove Street
Boise, Idaho 83702

Students $5
ASMP Members Free
Non-Members $15

/sponsored by me.

Adhesive Event at Sweet & Vicious November 30th

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Photographer Tony Gale visited the Adhesive Event for APE and here’s what he saw.

PhotoExpo 2010 – Portfolio Reviews

- - Events, Portfolio

As a follow up to my post entitled Pay For Meetings?, where I looked at the NYC FotoWorks portfolio reviews taking place at the same time as the trade show, I asked a few photographers who attended to give us their feedback:

Terence Patrick:

Thanks for the post a few weeks ago on the NYCFotoWorks portfolio review. I would not have heard about it otherwise. I’m really glad I went and even though I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted, the feedback from those I did see was tremendous. An assignment offer was given on the spot and lots of great contacts were made. For an event of its size, it was very well run. Totally worth every dime I spent!

Kevin Steele:

I didn’t pull the trigger to do the reviews until 2 weeks before, when I realized that a possible assignment was not going to happen the same week. I was still able to get a deal on airfare from the west coast and I have a cousin and a place to stay in the city. I felt the timing was right to get feedback as well as get my work out there after recent awards and a year in which my book has changed almost completely as I focused on where I want to be next. I compared both the juried NYCFotoworks and the PDN/Palm Springs reviews at PhotoPlus Expo and decided to do a set of of 14 editors/5 ABs on Thurs/Friday at Sandbox studios with NYCFotoworks and then the Saturday with 5 more at the event at Photo Plus Expo. $990 + $250.

I made my selections and have to say I was pretty happy with who I was able to see at both events. I prefer how NYCFotoworks handled the registration and selection process although I wish I knew the final schedule sooner. There were some cancellations and rescheduling and I was able to secure an agency AB when a magazine PE could not make it which was better for me. But one reschedule caught me as I did not make note of the change and was out on a break, missing my time slot. During the events I also met with a rep and an agency AB who wanted to see my book in the hallway outside of the schedule. And an artist adviser was on site at Sandbox for free 20 minute consults (smart for her as a great way to market herself). I did not go in expecting to find work – having launched a direction this year I wanted expert advice and critical feedback on my work, my edit, my style, my strengths and weaknesses. I was really surprised that some of the most helpful sessions came unexpectedly, from those reviewers who were near the bottom of my preference list. And that some of those on the top of my list did not provide a critical level I expected. But all in all it was well worth it – it did result in a magazine request for an image to run and one AB said I made her day after she saw an image and realized I was the one she could pitch for a client meeting the next week for a 2011 project.

Fifteen or less minutes (as changeovers were every fifteen minutes) at Sandbox was too short. On Friday evening I had 5 sessions that were back-to-back. What I appreciated were the reviewers who would ask why I was there and what I wanted and then would flip through the book very quickly, close it, open it again and go more slowly, sometimes making a third pass even slower. The sessions at Photo Plus Expo (on Saturday) were 20 minutes and seemed to be less hurried – both in that the extra 25% helps as well so a little overage was OK and everyone was cleared from the room before the next review session. That is in contrast to NYC Fotoworks where I was more than once in the awkward position of standing at my next reviewer’s table while the photographer from the last session was still wrapping up.

This is the first time I have done these “speed dating” sessions. I will usually block a week to visit a city and get appointments (LA, SF, NY). The last time I was in NY I had ten agency AB and editorial PE meetings in five days – and that took a good part of two weeks of preparation: calls, emails and more emails, and a lot of dead time “on call” and leaving voicemails during the visit week.

As a result of all of this I have had face time with an incredible number of editors, reps and agencies that have seen my work now and I can follow up with a level of familiarity that would not have been there otherwise. Some images are now axed from the book, the sequence edited and my direction affirmed while a future personal project has been inspired from one of the reviewer’s prompts.

Brian Stevenson:

I had some apprehension about the review events value to me before I went. It’s not inexpensive and since I don’t live in NY it was a big commitment for me to make the trip. But, I felt like if I made the decision to go, I should do everything I could to make the most of it. I ended up purchasing a pretty significant package of reviews and I balanced my reviewer requests fairly evenly between editors, art buyers, and agents.

The list of attending reviewers was pretty impressive. I signed up early and I ended up being scheduled with most of the people I really wanted to see. When the two day event began, there were also opportunities for me and all other photographers to meet with both photography consultant Colleen Vreeland and a representative from Corbis without incurring any additional costs. I signed up for both additional sessions.

I did my homework before the event. I read everything I could find about the people I was meeting with. I made lists of the art buyers’ most relevant clients. I checked everyone’s resumes on LinkedIn to find out where they’d been before they arrived at the jobs they hold now. I looked at recent copies of the editors’ respective publications. And I looked at the work of all of the photographers who are represented by the agents. I think I was as prepared as I could have been and I think it made me more confident going into the reviews.

Each scheduled meeting was 15 minutes long and the organizers of the event did a pretty good job of making sure the transitions occurred on time. Things got a little backed up throughout the first day (mostly because a couple of the reviewers arrived late) but it didn’t result in anyone being denied meetings. There were one or two reviewers who neglected to show up at all but in those instances, I believe the organizers did everything they could to reschedule photographers with other reviewers. All in all I’d say the event was well run.

I hadn’t attended a review event like this before and I was concerned that reviewers might be so overwhelmed with the number of people they were seeing that they might become disengaged after a few reviews. But, my schedule on both days was pretty spread out and the people I met with seemed genuinely invested in the process throughout the day. I received a lot of positive feedback about my work as well as some valuable suggestions regarding the editing of my portfolio. The agent meetings were helpful to me, not because I expected anyone to sign me to their roster, but because I was able to discuss some specific questions I had about tightening up bids and writing treatments for commercial jobs. I think the 15 minute review times were appropriate since they’re about on par with what I think most photographers can expect in meetings they set up on their own outside of events like these.

I met with a lot of people in the two day period. I doubt I could have arranged to see half the number of people on my own and if I had it would have taken days or weeks of repeated phone calls and emails to make happen. I also would have had to spend more time in New York (I love NY but, of course, it costs a fortune to be there) and I’d have had to do a lot of running around to see everyone. My time is worth more to me than the money I would have saved by trying to set up so many meetings on my own and, again, I’m certain I wouldn’t have been able to arrange meetings at all with some of the people I saw at the event. I made some great contacts and I enjoyed the process.

Update: Jasmine DeFoore gives us portfolio review do’s and dont’s from the PDN/Palm Springs Review (here).

PhotoExpo 2010

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I have a several interesting posts coming from the show floor, seminars I was involved in and the portfolio reviews. In the meantime there’s some good stuff up on Stella Kramer’s blog stellazine as she and several others were reporting live from the event.

I found this note posted by Allegra Wilde on her facebook page quite good as I’m sure it’s advice she was handing out at the portfolio reviews:

“Yeah, But I Have To Make Money….”

(And other ways to ignore the reason you became a professional photographer)

When you are in the business of selling something subjective like photography, there is no standard formula which will tell you who is going to connect with what you do, any more than it is possible to predict who is likely to fall in love with you.

Following what’s hot right now; doing what you have been seeing out there already – imitating the same content, styles, or processes as everybody else is going to be futile in the end.

If you make and show images with the intention of speaking the language of potential clients (and that is what most people do)…you will just end up looking like most people.  You will wind up moving away from yourself.

“Yeah but I have to make money”.

And you may, for a while. However, your career will ultimately suffer.

And so will your heart.

The answer: Make work that is made entirely of… You.

Your life, and your passions.

The things that no one else can appropriate.

If you do that, (and get past your fears about whether it will work), you will have less, or even no competition.  And that is always safer and more profitable than being part of the crowd.

The strongest part of you, is the honest you, and that remains true regardless of the economy, technology, or the weather report.

The connection between a photographer and a person who is in a position to hire them and collaborate with them, begins with chemistry.  And chemistry begins with honesty.

But that is not the whole story.

You will never have a career being the best-kept secret in photography.

The formula for success? It starts here:

Show yourself in your images, and stand by them no matter what. Show your work to people who can hire you.  All of them. EVERYWHERE. Mass market and send your photographs far and wide.

Those who see your pictures and are moved by them will understand you. Will want to be around you.  Work with you.

Isn’t that your ultimate goal?  Isn’t that why you chose this career in the first place?

Allegra Wilde
Portfolio Reviews, Marketing Consultation + Visual Strategies for Photographers, Agents, and the rest of the Professional Photography Community

Ask Anything, Live – Photo Plus Expo

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When: Thursday, Oct 28 from 3:45 pm to 5:45pm

Where: PhotoPlus Expo in NYC

What: Myself, Amanda and Suzanne will moderate a panel of industry pros:

Kat Dalager, manager of print production at Campell Mithun

Greg Lhotsky, agent and partner at Bernstein & Andriulli

Jennifer Pastore, DOP at Teen Vogue

Nick Onken, Professional Photographer

Jim Krantz, Professional Photographer

Why: I thought it would be fun to take the ask anything format and make it live which boils down to this: Amanda, Suzanne and I have all the tough questions you would love to put to these people, but we all know this industry is small and who wants to ask Kat Dalager “Why do agencies tell me to cut expenses and then treat a photoshoot like an all expenses paid vacation for the agency and client? Your catered lunch would pay my assistants rent for a year.”

We’re going to ask those questions.

I hope to have a live feed setup as well so stay tuned to that if you’re interested.

Using Photography To Create Tipping Points Around Conservation

- - Events, Photographers

One of the highlights of last weekend’s Telluride Photography Festival was seeing the work of Robert Glenn Ketchum and learning about the International League of Conservation Photographers. If your photography had the kind of impact Robert’s has just once in your career you would die happy. He does it over and over again with a multitude of grants from people who understand the impact photography can have in changing peoples minds. What really brought this idea home for me was watching the presentation by Christina Mittermeier, president of the iLCP, where she said the goal of their RAVE (rapid assessment visual expedition) projects was to “create tipping points around conservation issues using the power of photography.” Seeing the successes of both Robert and the iLCP emboldened my thoughts about the vast power of photography and its place in our future. Not just for conservation, but as a tool for reaching people in an increasingly crowded media space.

Telluride Photo Festival

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There’s a Photography Festival in Telluride, Colorado happening this week. I’ll be there Friday and Saturday doing some portfolio reviews, giving a couple seminars and hanging an outdoor exhibit. If you’re going to be there as well stop by and say hi. The boys from PhotoShelter will be around as well as the PhotoAttorney so it should be a good time. I’m excited to see the work of Robert Glenn Ketchum and hopefully meet him as well. This is the first year of the festival and I’m looking forward to this turning into a significant event for the photo community in my neck of the woods.

Picture 6

Tradeshow For HDSLR Filmmakers – PhotoCine Expo

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It was brought to my attention that Lou Lesko founder of the popular bidding software for photographers recently started a tradeshow for people who shoot video with HDSLR’s called PhotoCine Expo. Looks pretty cool and it’s happening in LA September 25th and 26th. I thought I’d ask Lou a couple questions:

APE: Can you give me a little background and tell me how blink bid came about?

Blinkbid started as “Blink”, but I couldn’t get the URL so it evolved into Blinkbid. As I was directing more commercials, I had less time to do my own photography bids so my producer and I went on the hunt to find easy-to-use software so we could delegate the bidding. There really wasn’t any available so I came up with a design for a work flow and I had a custom database made. After looking at it for a few months we thought that we might be able to sell it as a product.

My accountant thought it was going to be a big tax write off and indeed the first iteration wasn’t ideal, but by version 2 we started to see a few more sales and we started getting valuable input from the community. We went from there to the point where we could give back to the photo community via APA and ASMP support.

APE: Now what about the Photo Cine Expo how did that come about, the timing seems perfect?

About eighteen months I wrote an article titled “Will Video Kill the Photography Star” for Digital Photo Pro magazine. I was much maligned for my opinion that photography and video were going to converge to the point where I got a few nasty emails decrying that my ability to call a trend had atrophied. Three months later, video exploded in the photo industry and I want from ass to prophet over night.

About this time Michael Britt and Tom Stratton saw the same trend as me, and were in the nascent stages of producing the Collision Conference, the first conference of its type bringing together HDSLR video and photography. They saw my article and asked me to speak. Ultimately we agreed that were like minded and so in 2010 we started PhotoCine News and the PhotoCine News Expo.

APE: Obviously you think there’s a big future for HDSLR filmmaking can you give me some thoughts on that?

Ahh the future. I’ve always held that photographers make amazing cinematographers and directors. It is our trained attention to detail that comes from having a single frame scrutinized that gives us an edge. However, there are a couple very valid reasons why photography has always been seen as the red headed step child of the entertainment industry.

The first is beyond anyone’s control. Movies and TV shows have massive audiences which translates into a lot of money for the studios which in turn put huge marketing muscle behind their products.

The second is an issue that I’ve been on evangelistic crusade about for the last year. Narrative thread. In the early days of photographers shooting video I have seen a huge number of vignettes. Stunning imagery in motion like you would expect from a photographer. The downfall to these vignettes is that they have no story. No matter how short your piece it should have a beginning, a middle and an end.

One way to get an easy introduction to the three act story structure of movies is to read “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder. Snyder goes through visual story telling by offering heaps of examples from movies you’ve seen. If you want to get more existential and learn about the archetypal hero, there is no better book than Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”

As far as the immediate future, conveying a story in motion, and the ability to write a treatment are both becoming absolute necessity to landing advertising jobs. Video is now an integral part of being a photographer. The danger on the horizon for photographers are the cinematographers that are looming on the periphery of our stake in advertising world. Agencies only have eyes for those who can deliver what they need. If photographers aren’t in a position to offer video they’ll start looking at the cinematographers, all of whom are reasonable photographers if they put their mind to it.

I’m incredibly optimistic about the extended future. Never before in the history of the visual arts have there been more opportunities for photographers. There are more distribution channels for original work, more ways to monetize non commissioned pieces, and more opportunity to achieve a level a celebrity based on your efforts.

I always like to stick my neck out with a prediction. In the next three years we’re going to see the decline of reality TV to see it replaced by documentaries and docu-dramas shot by photographers. Because there is something about being a photographer that gives you a unique visual perspective that can’t be found in any other discipline.


Summer Gallery Scene In Santa Fe, NM

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Correspondent Jonathan Blaustein is back with a report from the summer gallery shows in Santa Fe.

Since the last article I wrote for APE, I’ve spent the summer doing the usual things. Making new photographs for “The Value of a Dollar,” weeding in the yard, and running after my young son. Average summer duties. Beyond that, I released a limited edition print to benefit the UN World Food Programme through the collect.give, had the opportunity to hear public lectures by Jonathan Torgovnik, Mary Virginia Swanson, Christopher James, Cig Harvey through the Santa Fe Workshops.

But unlike New York, which quiets down in Summer, in Northern New Mexico it’s high Season. That means busloads of tourists. And tourists like art. So many of the big blockbuster photo exhibitions take place now, rather than in the Fall or Spring. The book designer and blogger Elizabeth Avedon did a blog post previewing the Santa Fe summer scene a couple of months ago, so I thought I’d go see what was on the wall, and report back to the APE audience.

photo-eyeI began my little adventure at photo-eye, which is undoubtedly the photography institution in Santa Fe. The owner, Rixon Reed and his crew recently celebrated their 30th Anniversary. They offer a lot to the community, including a great photo-book store, a sleek photo gallery, and a program of public events and artist salons. The current exhibit in the gallery is a three-person show featuring work by Edward Ranney, Mitch Dobrowner, and Chris McCaw. All three work in black and white, and have differing perspectives on the landscape.

Edward Ranney, a long time NM resident, just published a book with Lucy Lippard that investigates the nearby Galisteo Basin. It was home to pre- and post-Columbian Native American culture for centuries. Ranney’s stark photos are printed without heavy or dramatic contrast, and create the impression of timelessness. Some images depict remnants of earlier cultures, and some do not. Together, they give the impression that the land, with its volcanoes and rocky cliffs, works with a timeframe that mocks the ephemeral.

Mitch Dobrowner’s large-scale landscape prints, by comparison, are dramatic and literal. They’re very beautiful, to be sure, but lack imagination. One exception, a triptych of clouds moving across Shiprock, in the Navajo Nation, is tremendous. Particularly if one has traveled through the Four Corners, as the natural beauty juxtaposes against a hard-core culture of poverty and isolation.

Chris McCaw’s photographs have been exhibited widely of late in NYC, LA, and SF. His work is original and visually engaging, and was recently collected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. McCaw uses a large format camera, and allows the sun to burn its way through photographic paper that takes the place of film, utilizing long exposures. So the paper will show the literal mark of the sun, which shares the rectangle with land & oceanscapes. The balance of creation and destruction is timely and visceral. Killer stuff.

Andrew Smith, at his eponymous gallery, has the other major old-school place in town. The gallery had an installation on the wall by William Christenberry that I was excited to see. There were 20 small prints, in frames, leaning against the wall in two horizontal rows, (one above the other,) sitting on a wooden rail. Like much of his work, the images were made of the same subject, re-photographed over time. In this case, it was an old sharecropper’s house in Alabama, shot between 1978 and 2005. In early images, an old blue car is parked in front of the house, and in some an African-American family is standing on the front porch. As the sequence resolves itself, the car and family disappear, and the house slowly degrades to ruin. It’s a powerful depiction of the cold efficiency of time, and a strong metaphor for the problems facing rural society in the United States.andrewsmith

Smith’s gallery also has a ridiculous display of historical work, hung salon-style, in several rooms on two floors. I’ve never been anywhere like it, outside of a major museum. Ansel Adams, Carleton Watkins, Muybridge, William Henry Jackson, Steichen, Friedlander, Eliot Erwitt, and many other legends of photography are well represented. It’s so full, in fact, that I spotted a vintage print by Walker Evans of the Alabama tenant farmer’s wife, the image that Sherri Levine appropriated years later. It was a foot and a half off the floor, down in a corner by a door-frame. That tells you a bit about how much of photography’s history is crammed into this space. Not to be missed.

verveVerve Gallery, on Marcy St, has a huge following in Santa Fe. I’ve seen several shows there, and they tend to have three person exhibitions, from what I can tell. The work leans towards photo-journalism and documentary photography, with some exceptions. They are currently showing two documentarians, Jeffrey Becom and Nevada Wier, alongside digital conjurer Maggie Taylor. The former offerings were not super-interesting to me, but Taylor’s work is fantastic, and worth a visit. She creates surreal images that layer taken and found photographs, arriving at an original vision with a unique color palette. Taylor has been working this way for a while, and ten years ago, before Photoshop’s ubiquity, there would have been a “how did she do that” quality that is no longer to be mined. But the photographs are compelling, creating a stream of characters out of a Greek Mythology, with rams heads and rhinos and fish men.

Monroe Gallery is another of Santa Fe’s photo spots that has a national reputation, as they show historical photojournalism from the early to mid-20th Century. It’s a different period and style than you see at Andrew Smith, but equally relevant to American photography lovers. This Summer, they’ve got an exhibition in the front room by Bill Eppridge. One wall focused on photos of Robert Kennedy during his campaign for the Democratic Nomination in 1968. Very Iconographic. One image showed Kennedy riding in an open convertible with NFL greats the “Fearsome Foursome.” It stopped me, due to the reference to his brother’s assassination, of course, but also because it seemed like such an anachronism. Can anyone imagine a scene like that transpiring in 2010?monroegallery

The back room of the gallery had several walls of classic photographs of famous people, hung salon-style. It’s a strange, fascinating mash-up of Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill, JFK, MLK, Ghandi, Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Stravinsky, Frank Sinatra, Albert Einstein and more, photographed by the likes of Robert Capa, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White, and Arnold Newman. History; commodified.


Eight Modern is a relative newcomer, compared to the SF institutions mentioned above. It’s a contemporary art gallery in an old adobe building, just off of Canyon Road.

While they often show painting and sculpture in a beautiful setting, the June/July show was by the Chicago conceptual artist Jason Salavon. He uses the computer

to make original work from historical masterpieces, and shows digital projections, video installation, abstract prints, and digital C-prints, which I’d classify as photographs.

The front room contained two pieces that were haunting, smart and original. Salavon created montages of portraits by Velasquez and van Dyck that show just the ghostly suggestion of classical portrait sitters to create a meta-portrait. The layers of brown and ochre, and the subtle look of under-painting, are rendered digital and morphed into hyper-real. The spot where the face resides is not recognizable, per se, but is lighter in color in just the way to suggest what it was. It was probably the best work I saw on my gallery crawl. (But that bespeaks my bias towards the contemporary and conceptual, obviously.)

Finally, I saw one show down I-25 in Albuquerque at the Richard Levy Gallery. I’m including it because why not, as Levy shows contemporary international work in a great downtown space. (And I happened to be in ABQ briefly one day.) His current exhibition is by Manjari Sharma, the Mumbai and New York based photographer whose “Shower Series” has gotten lots of exposure on the web. (Burn Magazine, Lensscratch, Fraction Magazine’s blog & more.) While I’ve seen the jpegs many times, it was good to experience the large prints on the wall. She’s photographed a mix of attractive, multi-racial people who agree to take a shower in her apartment. None of the photos depict the subjects looking at the camera. They’re caught in what appear to be private, contemplative moments. So while the work is visually engaging, I was interested in the way it called attention to the artificial nature and forced intimacy of photographer/sitter relationship.

Well, that was a lot of information, I know. If you’ve made it this far into the article, you’re obviously interested in photography, or Santa Fe, or both. That, or it’s quiet today and you have some time to kill. Regardless, I’d encourage a trip out to New Mexico if you’ve not been before. All the above galleries show high quality work on a regular basis, and you can add Site Santa Fe, the NM Museum of Art, James Kelly Contemporary, Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, and the NM History Museum to the list. And in case you were wondering, I’m not a covert member of the Chamber of Commerce. I assure you.