Category "The Daily Edit"

The Edit Daily – Joseph Heroun: Shape

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Shape

Creative Director: Joseph Heroun
Photo Director: Toni Ann Loggia
Art Director: Andrea Legge
Photo/Bookings Editor: David Baratta
Photo Editor: Erica Meneses
Associate Art Directors: Alan Boccadoro, Lisa Stem
Intern: Grace Barretti

As Creative and Design Director of Shape, one of the nation’s biggest magazines with more than 2.6 million circulation, Heroun has transformed it into a photographer’s publication, an unusual attribute for its category. The challenge and mission are to rock a mix of topics equally well: Fitness, style, beauty, health, and food.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Joseph for almost 20 years now, he had a tremendous influence on me as an art director and photo editor. I was lucky enough to work under him for one of my first national magazine jobs.

In a nutshell, he’s a branding specialist. Heroun’s background spans a wide range of titles including Sportswear International, Sports Illustrated, Mirabella, Newsweek, The Boston Globe, Boston magazine, Best Life, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, The New Republic, National Journal, and Men’s Fitness, the latter of which landed on Adweek’s Hot List six months after his 2013 redesign. I caught up with him about some of his thinking behind Shape’s new sex appeal.

What parts of the magazine have had the biggest impact on your watch and why?
All of it, not one thing has been overlooked. The brand was acquired by Meredith Corporation a year ago, culminating with an editorial and design refresh last summer that has evolved nicely. We built upon ideas and directions from the previous year, with evolutionary changes; and concentrated our efforts on sharpening everything. Our new reality included a significant budget cut that mandated better strategies and smarter decisions. We could not allow that hit to reflect negatively on the product, and, in fact, it had the opposite effect. Over time; we figured out what worked and what doesn’t and our A-Team is now firmly in place with all our shooters delivering consistently exceptional work, and a newly refocused editorial framework to hang it on. Huge props are due my stellar photo staff, Toni Loggia, Dave Baratta, and Erica Meneses.

Who, if any one photographer, has helped you create the signature look of your covers? I know this is always a goal for publications, to own a “cover look.”
Our covers have improved most significantly since assigning the amazing Arthur Belebeau as our primary shooter. We’ve worked together previously on fashion and beauty features, and progressed to covers and celebrity features only since the March 2016 issue. Despite not being considered a cover shooter, in the brief time that Arthur has done them the response has been overwhelming. His cool, hard-edged light is exceptional, modern and dimensional in a way that stands apart from our competitive set. It provides Shape with a distinctive look that evokes the sensation of warm sunlight and an active, outdoor lifestyle.

That carries over inside, where Belebeau shoots cover celebs as fashion or beauty features, often with a bit of camp, and a free-spirited, playfully sexy vibe. In our previous incarnation at American Media, we were required to include cover celebs doing workouts, which was dreadful, effectively diminishing their star power. It’s like discovering an esteemed actor in sweats at the supermarket.

What other elements of the magazine have thrived under your watch?
Food is another core topic that has come into its own with a unique look, featuring images photographed predominantly by Sang An and Ted Cavanaugh. Again, with strong, directional, light and crisp, open shadows that express the upbeat emotion associated with clear daylight. Our look is growing more distinct from the dedicated food mags. Though they do beautiful work, obviously, we just need to assert a unique identity. Recently, we’ve consolidated feature recipes to the last spread, allowing for unobstructed full-page hero shots, which look spectacular. They also shoot our front-of-book sections, so there’s a nice consistency that comes through and carries over into our beauty and style product photography, handled by the criminally talented Claire Benoist. Our studio and location fitness/lifestyle shots share the same sensibility, so everyone is pulling in the same direction and I’m proud to say that the magazine has found its stride.

Describe the thinking behind your approach to fitness photography.
Our fitness features have evolved greatly over the past year and a half. We cut way back on the mechanics of exercising, which can be more effectively delivered online, in favor of an elegant, aspirational experience that celebrates the female figure and which doubles as fitness style. For those features we rotate in various shooters including Martin Rusch, Dustin Snipes, Warwick Saint, and Sarah Kehoe.

What is your policy on retouching, (always a point of interest for in women’s fitness publications).
Since my time at Men’s Health and other celebrity titles it’s been important to me to uphold a policy of integrity on this. To skeptical readers that will sound hopelessly high-minded, but I firmly believe it’s in a brand’s best interest to be as honest and restrained as possible with depictions of people, celebrity or otherwise. It can easily go too far if you are not diligent in holding the line. No one wants to see a blemish and nearly any photograph requires some refinement. But I seriously loathe images overly-perfected in post. To me, it ceases to be a photograph, morphing into something closer to illustration. And the prevalence of that tars us all with a broad brush. Shape’s new platform and tagline, Love Your Shape, affirms our commitment to authenticity. And our belief that it’s a big tent, with many interpretations of what is fit and what is beautiful.

Talk about your typography.
Our typography is intentionally understated to place emphasis on the images, which is what resonates with readers. In my view, design is best when there is nothing left to take out. In terms of delivering service content, over-ambitious design hijinx that neither elevates nor instructs is misplaced. It works against the grounded, well-crafted elegance and precision we want the brand to be identified with.

Where do you see Shape, and yourself, in 5 years?
Me: Traveling abroad somewhere, shooting my own images. As for Shape, it’s at the top of its game in one of the hottest categories that will only get hotter. We are being swept up into a wave of a new-found confidence in print. You see it everywhere with fashion mags and others placing a premium on production, with better stock and larger formats. It’s a complete reversal of what was happening just a short time ago during the panic years. Everyone seems to have come to the conclusion that magazines deliver an unrivaled visual experience and that it’s time to leverage that unique strength. Which is good news for photographers. Though budgets are more restrained, the demand for photographic excellence is only getting louder. And, as always, smart design is smart business.

The Daily Edit – Angie Smith: Stronger Shines the Light Inside

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Angie SmithStronger Shines the Light Inside

How do you see this work helping the refugees?
This work will be presented as an large scale, outdoor public exhibition that will be installed in 3 locations in downtown Boise for two months. My hope is anyone who stops to even read one story will walk away feeling like they have learned something new. The word “refugee” is so overused in our society right now because that’s the only word we have to describe people in this situation. But every single refugee living in Boise has such a different life journey. I want to help present these pictures and stories of refugees just as people, who happen to have been born into a situation that they eventually had to flee from, they all happened to end up in Idaho and they all have unique dreams they want to fulfill. Refugees aren’t just the images we see in the news of people in camps or migrating into Europe. Refugees are in the U.S. and they have been for many years, opening businesses, going to college, everyday they are surmounting tremendous obstacles. And beyond that, they are contributing so much to our communities. We just need take them time to connect with them. The more they are integrated into the communities where they resettle, the more they will succeed and be able to contribute to that community and the more we will all benefit. Boise stands out as one of the 5 most welcoming cities in America for refugees.

How did you find your subjects and what was the selection process?
I began with Rita and she is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Then I went to a church in Boise where the majority of the congregation is from the Congo. I offered to take pictures of families in the church, to offer them something that would be valuable, but it would also allow me to start making contacts with people. The first 8 shoots were to experiment and get comfortable and see if people were willing to participate. I made the most contacts within the Congolese community, which also makes up about 30% of the refugee population in Boise. I consistently went to the church services and brought back prints so that people got to know me. All of my contacts just grew from there. People would invite me to their birthday parties, weddings, soccer games and baptisms. I am trying to represent as many different countries as possible in this project, so I had to go through the same process with each different community whether it was the Iraqis, Eritreans or Somali Bantus- I had to build trust.

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How long did you spend with each person and what tools did you use to get them to open up to you?
I try to have an initial meeting with each person, without a camera. I find that it goes a long way to just spend time with people, without an agenda. Many people are coming from cultures where there was a lot more time in the day to simply talk with another person. I think it’s difficult for refugees to adjust to this American lifestyle of constantly working and being busy.  I try to ask them questions and get a sense of the situation they have fled, what their life is like in Idaho and what they spend their time doing. This helps me visualize the picture I want to take of them. The more time I spend with the person and the more I create the space to connect with them, the more trust is built and the more they open up to me. It’s really about putting the time and effort in to get to know them. Many of my subjects I have become great friends with and we spend time together without taking any pictures.

I usually spend about 2-3 hours with each person. For some people, I do several interviews because as I get to know them, they open up more or say profound things as time goes on that I want to include in the project. The less pressure I put on people to talk about something, the more they open up when they are ready. Some of the interviews I have done in collaboration with a writer, Hanne Steen, who has a similar interview style. However, she speaks French and grew up in Kenya, Rwanda and the Central African Republic, so having that shared experience with some of our subjects definitely helps.

How difficult was the editing process and were you the only one editing?
The exhibition will install on September 1st, so I am still shooting and gathering interviews. I can tell  the edit is going to be challenging because I have so many pictures and people from this project that I love. I want them all to be in it. But that’s why some of my goals for this work reach beyond this exhibition. I want to publish a book; start making films have this exhibit travel around the world. The more exposure it gets, the more opportunities I have to share these stories and impact people’s perceptions.

 I will most likely ask for editing help from a friend and amazing photography consultant Meredith Marlay for some visual consultation. I will also go through the same process with Hanne, my writing partner to discuss the stories and how to edit the stories.

The edit will reflect each person’s story to represent a different aspect of this experience. I am always listening for someone to make a point or talk about something that hasn’t been talked about by another refugee.

Did you shoot anyone but not include them in the body of work?
Yes, I have actually shot several people that have expressed some level of hesitation about being on the internet. An example is a transgender woman from Iran, who has been persecuted, beaten and raped throughout her life. She was very open about her experiences wanted to talk about what she has been though. After the photo shoot, she expressed some fear around her identity being revealed. We re-shot her in a way that didn’t show her face. With her, I know there is a high probability she will decide not to be in the project, and that’s okay.  Even if I don’t get a picture that I can use, if the experience made them feel happy, that’s enough for me.

Are you following up with the subjects? Giving prints?
Yes, I follow up with everyone, but it takes a lot of effort to track people down and give them prints. I go to parties and weddings and I photograph a lot of people who I don’t exchange information with because it would just take too long. At the end of the project, I will be allocating the time necessary to track people down. Luckily, it’s a fairly small community and everyone knows everyone, so I can usually find out fairly easily a person’s name and phone number just by asking around. Giving prints to people is really important as a gesture. But it’s funny because with the teenagers, they don’t really want prints. They want you to text them the photos so they can post them on facebook. It’s difficult to communicate to them why I can’t do that sometimes, because I need to keep the pictures close until the exhibition launches.

For more information about the project:
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The Daily Promo: Charlie Hess – 20 Over Twenty

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20 Over Twenty

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What made you want to form this collective?
In my day-to-day practice as an editorial art director and photo editor I began to see huge changes in how photography was being used, and compensated.

On the one side, I see the Directors of Marketing and Communication that I work with scrambling for “content” (what we used to call pictures!) With more and more traffic going to sophisticated websites and social media platforms there is an endless need for digital imagery to “feed the beast.” Websites need to be updated often. And social media platforms need to be fed daily. Consequently, these marketing directors jobs get harder and harder. Not only are they scrambling for content, it has to be on brand, high quality and compelling.

I thought we could help.

Meanwhile, all the great editorial photographers that I work with every day are generally getting less work and being paid less for it too. They didn’t forget how to take great pictures! It just became okay to ask for images for free or for smaller fees, with more usage. It’s the constant drip drip of imagery being devalued. In a world where everyone is shooting daily, why not use your iPhone picture instead. It’s “good enough.” And it’s free. I don’t think it’s okay to diminish the value of people’s work. You wouldn’t ask your lawyer to cut his fees because there are lots of other law firms. For the magazines I work with they understand that we don’t have to pay a fortune, but we have to pay fairly for a days work. And, in return, they get stellar work, shot by professionals, and delivered in such a way that they can use it across all platforms.

These trends inspired me to develop a new agency to meet this need. It’s called 20overTwenty.com (like 20/20 — perfect vision.)

I saw a way to merge all these industry sea changes, making it easier for the clients, and create more work for the creatives. We developed a hybrid business model that includes me as art director, working with clients to best tell their stories. I will help them conceptualize and plan the shoots they need over the course of time, and they can build it into their budget. Plus, the clients get the full talent and resources of all our photographers. Between the six photographers we can shoot nearly anything. Most importantly, this takes the pressure off the marketing clients — they’ll get great photos, specific to their needs, and over time build a library of evergreen images for print, web, app and social media. It’s a win-win.

How did you decide what markets to focus on?
I want us to work with clients and causes that are meaningful. In my mind that’s academic and cultural institutions, and nonprofits — museums, schools, good causes, really anyone who needs content and is working towards good, not evil. These entities typically have decent marketing budgets, and working for universities all these years I know how to get a lot of mileage out of editorial photo fees! We’ll make work that we are proud of, collaborate with smart people, and pay the rent too. Besides, we’re never going to compete with the agencies, and wouldn’t want the headaches.

What were the key factors in choosing your line up of photographers?
Simple answer: Grownups. No drama. Great talent. Basically, photographers I’ve worked with for years, who I know will show up on time, and be professional with the clients and subjects. Also each of them has their own aesthetic. I spent a ton of time thinking about the mix. I wanted us to be able to be able handle any assignment without compromising. And, by the way, that also means video shoots too. And copywriting. And animation. And anything else the clients might need. In a rapidly changing industry we need to stay flexible.

Our out-of-the-gate lineup is Mark Hanauer, Rebecca Cabage, Gregg Segal, Carla Richmond Coffing, Ted Catanzaro and Mikal Czerwonka. When you look at the site you’ll see the depth and range of their work — plus passion, intelligence and creativity.

How does someone get in touch with you to be a part of it?
For now, as a start-up, we have plenty of great talent. But hopefully in the future we’ll need more of everything — photographers in all the major cities, and in a perfect world, experience with cutting-edge new media too.

If you’re a Director of Marketing and Communication you can contact us at 20overTwenty@gmail.com

Where do you see this project in 5 years?
We’ll all be on the beach drinking rum cocktails, making art projects out of shells… when we’re not too sunburned or hungover!

The Daily Edit – California Sunday Magazine : Mark Mahaney

- - The Daily Edit

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California Sunday Magazine

Design Director: Leo Jung
Photography Director: Jacqueline Bates
Photographer: Mark Mahaney

( For more images visit californiasunday.com )

How did the shoot days unfold and how many days were you there?
On the first day of 2016, my assistant and I flew from San Francisco to Sydney, where we were slated to stay for nine days to document Rene Redzepi, arguably the most famous chef in the world, as he and his main team of chefs busily and scientifically attempted to plan the menu for their 10 – ‘pop-up’ restaurant in Sydney, Australia. The whole concept of the ‘pop-up’ was for Redzepi and his staff to entirely close the doors of Noma, his wildly praised restaurant in Copenhagen and for the entire team to temporarily setup shop in Australia where they’d take a crash course in local ingredients and traditions to put together (from scratch) a menu that is innovative, yet delicious, worthy of its $340 per person price tag. For the 10 week stint there were only 5600 individual seats available and they all sold out in about a half hour with 30,000 people on the waiting list. He and his chefs were under an incredible amount of pressure to make something magical happen from local ingredients most of them were tasting for the first time. When I arrived, they were only three weeks away from their opening night and not only did they not have a single one of their 15 or so final dishes perfected, but the kitchen wasn’t even fully built out. The restaurant itself was an active construction zone. Thomas, one of the two head chefs, would be experimenting with new flavors one minute and installing a sink or the oven’s ventilation system the next minute. It was an intense circumstance for me to walk into. Even though they were all super friendly and surprisingly accommodating, I could tell they would’ve preferred I not be there. If I’d been under the amount of pressure they were under, I wouldn’t have wanted ‘me’ to be there either.

But I was there and I felt pretty fortunate to be there. It’s rare to be able to witness the process of an individual who is deemed among the best in the world in their particular line of expertise. And I was surrounded by six of those individuals; not only by Redzepi, but his five person test kitchen team, each of whom specialized in their own particular facet of the eventual menu.

Even though I was there for nine days, we had no idea what sort of access we’d be granted.  There were however a few things that were made known to us. We were warned Rene disliked being photographed and to make it quick and painless. We were told we’d be working around a documentary film crew while we were in the kitchen. We were told to try not to distract or disrupt the chefs as they were under incredible time constraints. We were told we’d need to be flexible.

Tell us about the shooting in this pop-up kitchen.
We arrived at the kitchen on the first day, completely jet-lagged, and were quickly introduced to a few of the test kitchen chefs. We were allowed to walk through the actual dining room which was full of men and women wearing hard hats while drilling, sawing and trying to make sense of a room that at that time bared zero resemblance to the beautiful room it would eventually become. There was so much work to be done, not only on the menu, but also the physical space itself and instead of being there to document the finished product, which is typically the case on assignment shoots, I was there to photograph the process of this whole effort as it inched toward fruition.

On that first day we had come to introduce ourselves mainly to Rene and had planned on coming in the following day for the only one on one moment with him that I’d have for portraits. We never did see Rene that day, or the next. It turns out Rene’s whole family had the flu and it ended up hitting him as well. So, I dove right into covering whatever was happening in the kitchen while trying to stay out of the documentary crew’s shots. The main star of the show wasn’t there, but because of not knowing what sort of access we’d get over the next few days, I had to make the most of what was there.

Between then and the day Rene was able to return to the kitchen, numerous hiccups happened in the kitchen and Rene hadn’t been there to taste or give input on any of the attempted dishes. As a result, the stress level was peaking for their whole team, including those who were dictating the amount of access we were being given. I think everyone was a bit nervous about how Rene would respond on his first day back to having any press inside the kitchen, so we were all told we had to leave and it was left a bit nebulous as to when we could return and how much access we’d have from there on out. So, at this point, I’ve flown around the other side of the world, had been there for three days already without seeing the main person I was there to photograph and was fairly unsure as to how the rest of my time there would unfold.

You mentioned Rene didn’t enjoy being photographed, how was your first meet up?
The next morning we got there bright and early and the writer hoped that if Rene could meet me that he’d feel comfortable with me and we’d be able to explain our intentions and needs. I’m also a father so my instinct was to start talking to him about parenting and figured it’d be a good place to connect with him on; especially since Rene and I are almost the same age and both have younger people helping us who are not parents, who, for better or worse, do not have that added element to their everyday equation. He couldn’t have been more kind and after I shared with him exactly what I hoped to achieve, he seemed excited and told us we were more than welcome in the kitchen, overruling what we’d been told by others I’ve learned in the 8 or so years I’ve been doing this, and well before during my assisting years, that it often helps to go directly to the top when you’re trying to make something happen. In this case, it worked out in our favor.

Tell us about how the portraits came about, they all share the same emotional thread, so much intention; like Renaissance paintings.
I certainly lucked out on this front. Rene and his five supporting chefs are all quite striking and super photogenic. This is rarely the case. It sounds bad, but normally there’s at least a person or two who you aren’t super jazzed about photographing. But literally everyone, including the people we met on the farms later on in our trip, all of them were pretty easy on the eyes. I had that going in my favor for sure. As for the look of the portraits and images of the chefs, there were two approaches to those photographs. While documenting inside the kitchen, because things were still under construction, they had all the windows blocked so it was quite dark with just the existing artificial lighting overhead. Jacqueline Bates and I had brainstormed over email beforehand and had a few ideas for key imagined pictures that were fairly reliant on me bringing in my own lighting. Although, after feeling out the energy of the whole production, I didn’t dare add any strobes and just decided to embrace the existing light. After taking a few pictures, I was pleasantly surprised to see how they things looked on the back on the camera. There were these really bright overheads that would shine down unto the metal cooking surfaces, creating this incredible bounced glow on the chefs. It was like having a permanent, built-in bounce reflector everywhere you turned. That’s why all the images of the chefs at work in the kitchen have that unified look. I did a decent amount to them in post to take the look a step further. Even though everything looked great, it was still very dark in there. I was shooting mainly handheld since I was constantly following the action, often positioning myself under the lens of the documentary film camera or jockeying for position with the sound guy, etc. I was shooting at slow shutter speeds with the lenses aperture as shallow as they’d go, so I was thankfully able to capture most situations without blur. Some of the main portraits California Sunday chose to publish were taken in this setting.

Where were the portraits taken? kitchens are typically bright.
I tend to always gravitate toward daylight, especially the sort that tends to hang like that in those old dutch paintings. So this is what I did for the second approach to some of the portraits. During very rare slow moments in the kitchen, I asked and the individual chefs were gracious enough to give me 2-3 minutes to photograph each of them. I’m so grateful they gave me this time. 2-3 minutes sounds like nothing much to give, but they were pulling 20 plus hour days on their feet, so to get any of their time felt like a victory. My assistant and I found this little spot that was basically inside of a small closed off area that was under construction. And at a certain point in the afternoon, the light was just right in there. We figured out that if the door going outside was positioned just right, almost closed, but not quite, that a sliver of sunlight would reflect off the building next-door and would bounce perfectly through the small crack in the door. We photographed Beau first this way one day late in the afternoon. The other chefs weren’t available. The following days we were to leave to photograph down at some of the farms. After photographing Beau we were told that whole area we used to shoot his portrait was likely going to be dismantled by the time we returned to Sydney. My assistant and I were so bummed to perhaps have to photograph the rest of the portraits anywhere else because it had been so great. Thankfully, after two days at the farms, we approached the restaurant, my fingers were literally crossed, and was so relieved to see our make-shift studio spot was still standing. We did the remaining 3 portraits there and would eventually get nothing more than a few minutes to do something similar with Rene. Again, I’m so grateful it worked out that way.

Your food still life, looks like a painting, it’s so rich, did that direction come from the magazine?
There were some key pieces of direction given by Jackie, but the main objective was to shoot as many different aspects to illustrate what it takes for a world-renowned chef to build a restaurant and new recipes from scratch. So it was important to get pictures of ingredients from the farms that paired well with recipes the chefs were testing with those same ingredients.  You’ll see this in a few of the final images they selected. In some still life images at the farm, I photographed muntries and lemon aspen being held in the palm of a hand. Those ingredients ended up being the key ingredients of one of the main dishes they came close to finalizing while we were there, which was the ‘Native Fruit Dish.’ Seeing something in the field and then on the plate ended up working out well together.

As for the lighting and approach to the still life food images, I treated them in the same way as the day lit portraits I described above. They were literally taken in the exact same space and lit in the exact same way.  For backdrops, I either used pieces of wood I found in the scrap pile at the construction site or we used the raw, unfinished floor. In the case of the ‘Native Fruit Dish,’ it was on the last day we were there. We begged Thomas Frebel to create something that resembled a final dish to photograph. He obliged. The construction crew had just pulled some of the cardboard up off the floor of the dining room, so we decided to photograph the dish against that newly revealed reddish floor. I’m pretty happy with the lighting on that one. I wish someone had taken a photograph of me and my assistant while during that shot. It would’ve looked like we were nearing the climax of a game of Twister, our bodies contorted in odd ways to either block or bounce light. The majority of that image is lit by subtracting light.

As for the still life images of the ingredients at the farms, it was unrelenting and sort of unflattering sunlight all day long, so in an attempt to bring a bit of continuity between that fairly harsh light condition and what I’d already done at the restaurant, I tried isolating the main hand or ingredient against either a dark backdrop or an area of shadow.
I feel like it nicely works with that sort of glow that happened in the kitchen images.

Working there is executing at the highest level, ALWAYS.
What was it like to experience that and in turn try to capture that?
It was impressive to watch the process of the individual chefs. The setting was quite interesting. Each chef was typically completely engrossed in their own individual world while testing or playing around with a recipe. Often German house style music was blaring as the soundtrack. Pretty funny touch of ambiance.

There were times when it was a bit confusing what the chefs were even doing. Like true scientists in a lab. Like witnessing unbridled creativity. That’s essentially what you taste when you eat food they cook.  Every once in awhile, the chefs would meet up at one of the stations to take a moment to taste what the other has conjured up. I witnessed such focus and optimism and truth in their reactions to the taste tests. So supportive of one another. Like they were fully aware that they strength of the whole unit was greater the sum of their individual strengths. It seemed like an egoless space. Even with Rene, he was clearly the decider, but you could tell how much he respected the input of those working for him. I’m sure there were plenty of heated moments that arose within that kitchen during the 10 weeks, but I certainly didn’t see any of it. It was fascinating to watch the faces of the chefs as Rene tasted what they made. Their expression didn’t really change much whether Rene loved it or disliked it, but energetically a bit of glow appeared if his reaction landed on the side of love.

Did you try any dishes?
Because there weren’t any final dishes created during our time there, we didn’t get to try much of what they made. At one point, Thomas put down a bowl of chunks of something yellow with a green oily substance drizzled over it. He motioned for us to enjoy it. I had no idea what I was eating other than the fact that it was the most dynamic taste I’d ever tasted in my life. I’d spent hours watching them do what they do while thinking to myself, ‘how good could this really be?’ And believe me when I tell you it was absolutely mind-blowing. It turned out to be pineapple (I had no clue at first)with a reduction of oils from certain local plants over it. And that ‘Native Fruit Dish,’ yeah, I ate that and it was insanely good. The lemon aspen in it, which we were popping in our mouths at the farms like one would raspberries off a bush in the US, tasted like tiny explosions of lime sherbet. So good.

How difficult was it to edit your own work for this?
Well, even though there were days we couldn’t shoot or days where we only had access for a few minutes, I was there for nine days, so there were a ton of photos to sort through. That was likely the most overwhelming part. It took a few days to go through once returning back to the states. Beyond that, I don’t recall it being much different from other projects. In post, as I mentioned, I tried my best to bring some continuity to the treatment from photo to photo. It’s not everyday a magazine orders around 40 final images for one article. It was a lot to tackle, but so worth it. It’s also not everyday you get 21 pages of photos in a magazine, including the cover. I have a ton of respect for California Sunday. They’re certainly deserving of all the praise that’s been heralded in their direction. I’ve been trying to be super selective about the work I take on, but Jackie could call me and ask me to take a photo of a tire and I’d run to do it.

How did that experience transcend if at all, into your own pursuit of excellence?
I’m not certain it impacted much. I, like so many photographers am highly critical of my own work. I’m always trying to please and never disappoint, so I’ll keep trying at something, reworking the light, or moving something here or asking the subject to turn their neck ‘just a little bit this way’ and I keep going until I feel like I’ve gotten it right. I just do the best I can do considering the situation and depending how resourceful, calm and creative I happen to be in that moment. I think that’s no different with the chefs. I mean, they’re literally geniuses, in a league above all else, but it seemed like their pursuit to just genuinely do the best they could do was not dissimilar to my own.

The Daily Edit – Brian Bielmann: The Eddie

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Surfing World

Editor and Photo Editor: Vaughan Blakey
Designer: Corbin Nash
Photographer: Brian Bielmann

Tracks

Editor: Luke Kennedy
Art Director: Mat Macready
Photo Editor: Ben Bugden
Photographer: Brian Bielmann

Tow WAVES in Tahiti/2005

Tow WAVES in Tahiti/2005

Hands down one of my favorite underwater shots ever , picking thru my photos to put this web gallery together was really hard because a lot of my best shots got left behind and I realized how many of my favorite shots were Bruce and Andy

Hands down one of my favorite underwater shots ever, picking through my photos to put this web gallery together was really hard because a lot of my best shots got left behind and I realized how many of my favorite shots were Bruce and Andy

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John John Florence in West Australia

John John Florence in West Australia

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Surf photography has come a long way since you chased down your first big wave on a boogie board. Tell us about the changes and how it’s changed you. 
You were on your own out there. I had a canon all manual camera, which meant you actually had to set exposure yourself; more importantly you had to focus, and you had 36 photos on your roll of film.

I remember paddling out next to another photographer Denjiro Sato of Japan, we made it through the shore break and were almost out to the lineup when one of the surfers wiped out and his board came flying out of control right towards us and hit Sato. I can’t remember where, but he got cut by the surfers fins on his board. After that, Denjiro was done and had to paddle back in.

Think about it, after all the effort to get out and then BAM! you’re on your way back to the beach. I remember trying to make every shot count, but that roll of film went in about an hour. I had stayed to watch the rest of the event, mainly because we were terrified to have to get back in through the shore break. The whole time out there, you were just dreading knowing that you would have to get back through that, sometimes if you didn’t time it right, you would not make it in.

You see, the current would suck you down to the far left inside on the other side of the bay, to the rocks, known as “jump rock” because in the summer, when the surf is flat, everyone jumps off the rocks, but in the winter, it’s the spot you don’t want to get caught in. So you swim your ass off to get back out and as far away from that are as you can, so you would have to paddle back out to the lineup and start swimming in on the right side all over. It could take hours to get in, NIGHTMARE. Fast forward to today, you have jet skis to get you in the lineup, an all-automatic everything camera and it has 2000 photos, not to mention a ski ride back in straight to the beach. It’s actually awesome. Honestly, I would never go back out there if I had to do all that again. That said, compared to how we had it, now all those concerns are gone. The other big difference is all the technology, the limits are being pushed big time. If it was 10 years ago, the Eddie would never have run at this size. One of those closeout sets would have come through and taken everyone out: surfers, photographers, everyone back to the beach and they would have said too big, it’s over. But with the incredible Hawaiian Water Patrol with their skis, the surfers can push their limits. The surfers are the stars; so badass. the ski drivers the rescue team. I think it has to be the most dangerous contest in the sporting world. Just crazy.

Certainly you’ve been in some life threatening situations, now that you’re a seasoned pro, how are your choices different? What gives you pause?
Well, I’m 58 years old, at Pipeline there are about 30-40 photographers out there for each swell. Since there are not many magazines these days and very limited space for photos, it’s mostly the internet that showcases the work.  Most of those photographers careers will begin and end with instagram. I consider things differently now. How long do I want to be out there?how is it breaking? I look at the conditions and decide, if I’m going to swim my ass off through nine waves to shoot one. To me, that’s not worth it. I wait till the days when conditions are good, and the percentage rate is going to be worthwhile; only then I go. I end up looking like I’m out there all the time because I pick the best days! I’m not one of the top dogs out there anymore. There are guys who that’s all they do is shoot out there constantly; I pick the right days and get some gems and that’s good enough for me. Just never imagined at 58 I would still be swimming out at Pipe. It’s funny, there are very, very few guys still out there who were out there when I started, for the most part it’s all the young guns.

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Brain and Craig trying to out run the wall of water. Photo by Clark Little

Chasing down this wall of water was the biggest wave you’ve out-run, tell us about that day at “The Eddie.” 
Thank God I did not turn around to look at that wave, when I saw the picture I think I said a prayer right then thanking God for keeping me safe.  I was nervous the few days leading up to the event knowing I was going to be out on a ski; everyone was saying it might be too big to actually run the event. This meant if it went, it was going to be the biggest Eddie that had ever gone.

I had actually never been out in the water during clean up sets on a big swell before at Waimea Bay. A clean up set is when the waves close out across the entire Bay and there is literally no escape. I’d been out before when it was really big but never this big, so yeah I was nervous. The morning of the event as the sun came up, we could see a lot of closeouts, tensions were high amongst the competitors, jet drivers. It turned out that there were too many photographers that were supposed to be out there and not enough skis. (I actually contemplated taking myself out of the equation and shooting from the point.) The Director of the event, Glen Moncata said, “You shoot whatever you want, you don’t have to go out there.” I don’t know what it was; but something came over me and I ran for my truck, quickly put on my wetsuit, flotation vest, put my camera in my waterhousing, grabbed my fins and ran for the beach. The skis were being put in the water so I hustled down to the corner and waited for the lull with another photographer, Zak Noyle. As soon as there was a small break in the sets, we jumped in the water and swam quickly to the waiting jet ski, jumped on the boogie connected to the ski; as he hauled ass through the surf before we got caught by a set, we were out in no time, thank God.

Had you been with the driver before?
No first time with the driver, Craig Anderson, he goes by the instagram name of @MakahaCraiger. We probably met but never really talked before, but didn’t take long to bond. When you’re on a ski and you’re going over 20 footers, and they are the small ones, you realize instantly that the driver is the guy who is gonna save your life.  You get intimate very quick.  Hearing the water patrol on the beach, Mel Puu starts yelling on the radio to all the water patrol in the water, (8 skis probably, all on the same frequency), “There’s a closeout set, it’s big guys, get moving now! Get everyone out fast! This one is really big! Go! Go! Go!”

You go.

I had a strap on the back of the ski that had been ripped, so it was loosely tied and had a lot of play, kind of like the reins of a horse, so it was hard holding on with one hand and my other hand holding a big camera in a water housing.  We start heading for the horizon, and when we can see the sets, they are huge mountains of water moving at us and we start heading for the shoulder as fast as we can we are riding sideways on this beast waiting for a place on the wave that’s not already feathering. (this is when the wave is already breaking and there is already whitewater at the top of the wave and there is nowhere to get over as it’s really hard for the skis to get over the wave when there is whitewater at the top)  so we continue going full on as far as we can till we are on the far side of the bay, we can’t get over this thing.

” Hold on!” Craig yells, “We gotta ride it in!” We turn at the top of the wave and actually ride this thing all the way to the bottom going as fast as the ski will go. We’re bouncing like hell and Craig is yelling “Hold on! Don’t let go!” I’m holding tight with my arm on the strap, trying to hold on through the bumps and bouncing off the seat, I’ve got my legs as tight on the ski as I can, not even sure how long it took us to get in but I could hear the wave breaking right behind us like a waterfall.

We barely stayed in front of it, just a mountain of whitewater that could overtake us at any moment, about half-way in Craig yells to me, “You may have to jump!” I’m gonna do whatever he tells me, I pause for a second, yell back, “Just tell me when!”

I have no idea what this means, I’m just following orders and hope I survive.

I’m waiting for the word to jump and then a little farther in and he yells, “Wait! Hold On! I think we might make it!”

We literally get 30 feet from the beach and he swings the Ski around hard and we blast right thru a huge shore break wave, we barely make it through, I manage to hold on to the ski strap, but fall backwards off the seat; still holding the strap I manage to pull myself back up, just in time to go through a second one, and the exact same thing: Blast through, fall off but holding the strap and again pulled myself up, and we gun the damn thing side to side getting around the wave on either side, finally we are back outside and realize we made it.

We both start screaming. “We made it! Shit! we made it! AHHHHHHH!!!! Screaming at the top of our lungs, “that’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done my whole life!” I yell. He yells back,”Yes! That was definitely one of the craziest things I have ever done!”

I’m thinking: Wait, Craig’s a water patrol jet ski driver in Hawaii, and he’s a Hollywood stunt man and he’s says this was one of the craziest things he’s ever done. Shit. Thank you God!

We had around 20 more waves come through, almost as big as this and we had to run alongside of, but we were able to find an exit each time. I was out for 3 heats of surfers, almost 1/2 of the contest and we got a call that I had to come in, as there weren’t enough skis and I had to let another photographer have a turn. The jet ski brought me in and I was on the beach, I seriously wanted to kiss the shore.

There were thousands of people lined up as I walked back towards the stands and some of them started applauding me and whistling, one guy came up and took my photo with him.

It’s funny, I think they thought we were all fearless out there but we were not, we had plenty of fear, we just pushed through it and went out there. I got back through this sea of people and was under the shower when I heard the announcer say, look all the skis are coming in being chased by another huge wave, but this time they made sure they were farther in front of the wall of water, and they had no escape on the inside as we did on our wave.

They had to ride the skis right up on to the beach. I looked out and saw how big the sets were and I immediately thought, “What the hell was I doing out there?” and my next thought was “I’m so happy they told me to come in 5 minutes before that set, I did not want to go through that again.”

It was time to finish shooting the second half of the contest from the point.  The nice safe point, the closest spot to the waves you could get, and not a drop of water on me.

How does a surf shot land on L’Uomo Vogue?
Yes , I’ve got a photo on the cover of L’Uomo Vogue magazine right next to Bruce Weber. It’s a shot of John John Florence from a ski in the water during the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Contest. I’m so stoked! Bruce has been my hero for years as far as a fashion photographer goes, my favorite; and Herbie Fletcher has some shots in there, Dibi Fletcher wrote the story. It’s about The Best Surfer in the World!  doesn’t get any better than that for me. I think I can claim to be the only surf photographer with a shot on the cover of Vogue, it’s a shared cover with Bruce and that’s what makes it awesome! I was on the phone with him while I was shooting the shore break and when I hung up I was so excited to tell everyone, “I was just on the phone with Bruce Weber!” none of the surf photographers knew who he is, luckily Buzzy Kerbox was there, and he is good friends with Bruce. Bruce started Buzzy’s career back in the 80s with his Ralph Lauren Campaign.

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The Daily Edit – Brinson+Banks

- - The Daily Edit

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Brinson+Banks

Smithsonian Magazine
Photography Director: Molly Roberts

Variety Magazine
Director of Photography: Bailey Franklin

The Washington Post
Features Photo Editor: Nicole Crowder

The New York Times
Photo Editor: Jolie Ruben/Arts & Leisure

The New York Times
Photo Editor/ Styles Department: Eve Lyons

I know you met in photo journalism class in college. Fast forward to today. Married, photo duo and shooting celebrities. Tell us how this unfolded.
We started off at small newspapers learning the ropes living nine hours apart when we first began dating. Those were really our training grounds where we got a sense of who we were as photographers while learning to shoot and handle literally everything in the book. At this point the newspaper industry was undergoing mass layoffs, and rather than become another statistic we jumped ship to pursue a documentary freelance career, based in Atlanta, GA. We founded and ran a photographic cooperative for 5 years with 4 other photographers, garnering journalistic assignments from outlets like TIME, Mother Jones, Sports Illustrated, FADER, and Rolling Stone to name a few.

By this point we were married home-owners in Atlanta living a pretty comfortable life. So, about a little over two years ago, we decided to turn all that on its proverbial head, start a new company doing something completely different, and we relocated across the entire country to Los Angeles. We threw caution to the wind, loaded up our two dogs, two cats, and road tripped towards our new lives. And while it was a terrifying first year, we couldn’t be happier that we left what was comfortable to follow new dreams.

When we decided to form Brinson+Banks as a new photographic entity to pursue lifestyle advertising we may have been starting over, but not from scratch. We already knew how to market, act professional with a client, and the importance of things like personal work and even sheer drive. So as we set-up meetings with ad agencies in our new home, we also completely revamped and created our new portfolio, creating a new vision as a team. The documentary work we still hold so dear fed the way we approach our lifestyle work. The new style we created together also translated into our portrait work, pushing the limits of the foundation we built for years telling stories through portraits of everyday people for places like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. This new style, and our long history of musician portraiture made us a perfect fit for celebrity work. Our journalistic background and the relationship we built with the New York Times, mixed with our new aesthetic, presented us with our first celebrity portraiture assignment. From there, it is just a matter of capitalizing on every single shoot of this nature to prove that we are the person (or persons) that can be creative, fast, reliable, and the type of photographer/director that can work with talent of this magnitude. Even without time or a budget backing us up, which has often been the case as we started down this new path.

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With all the celebrity management does one of you handle the team while the other is focused on creative need be?
As two creatives of equal skill and a shared mindset, we have a unique flexibility on set. We approach each shoot differently depending on the players, expectations, and space involved. In some cases, one of us will shoot one scene while the other pays more attention directing and loosening up the subject, and then we trade for the next set up. Sometimes one of us shoots while the other is adjusting lights, fine-tuning the next shot, or even handling the publicist, client or others on set. In many cases we split these duties, and both shoot from different angles as long as it does not feel intimidating to the subject. More often than not, we reverse these roles from one setup to the next, or even trade the camera off when one of us has an idea the other may not have covered off on.

Are you able to turn off your photographic minds and conversation when you’re not working?
HA! We wish, but should remain grateful that we have such an amazing job that we don’t want to turn it off. But yes, when you spend the whole day talking creative concepts, budget, marketing, etc., it’s hard to turn it off at the end of the day, especially when a self-employed commercial/editorial photographer is basically on call 24/7. As newbies to the West Coast of only a couple years, we solve this dilemma by loading up our VW camper van with our dogs and escaping to explore the beaches, deserts, mountains and forests our new home has to offer. It seems to be the best way for us to turn off our work minds and be inspired in another way. That said, we still shoot photos the whole time, and definitely had a creative conference call today for an ad shoot while sitting in the front seat of the van looking at the Pacific. So I guess we will let you know when we find that magic off-switch, but to be completely honest, we met each other in a photojournalism class and that’s where the first sparks flew. At risk of sounding completely cheesy, we fell in love with each other’s photos before we became a couple so photography has always been intertwined in our relationship.

Do you both shoot for each project? 
YES. I won’t say we are competitive with one another, but let’s assume that’s a lie by omission. We both do this because it is our passion, and love few things more than creating a new image. We have learned to check our ego at the door over who is pushing the button since the final image belongs to us both, but we still have to each shoot to fill our creative soul. Really it’s more than that though. We have created a shared vision, but we are both still integral to that, and while our images may compliment each other very well, we still each add distinctive views to the project. So whether we are shooting tethered in a lit studio passing the camera back and forth, or shooting in tandem in natural light, we find it important to both contribute.

Are you realizing you turn in twice as much good work?
We are noticing that we have an ability to produce more work at an intense pace that is hard to maintain alone. We have also noticed that clients with a specific shot list end up with a library and want to license more images. But for us, it is more than just a higher quantity. The most value we see added is in the currency of ideas. One of us may have a concept that seems great, but just doesn’t feel right until the other adds their two cents. We shot an image of Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny that we really liked recently. David set up lights, transforming a beige hotel room and hallway into blues and greens, and it felt completely wrong until Kendrick suggested reversing the gelled colors, and suddenly that small difference in opinion made it all come together. Not to mention that we all have off days and these super quick celebrity shoots bring a certain new level of pressure because of time and status, and it is amazing to have someone to lean on, to BE on when you are not.

I’d imagine there is some complementary /contrast between you two. What is each of your strengths and why?
Totally. We share so many taste preferences that our images work seamlessly together, but we are also hyper-focused on very different things. We share a love for natural light, but David is more obsessed with artificial lighting, and things lining up with technical precision. Kendrick is more about the moment and a sense of looseness, which is a perfect balance. David is a bit more serious in his direction of subjects while Kendrick is more adept at building a humorous repertoire throughout the shoot. The strange part about these differences is that despite who shot the image or what approach was taken, we agree on the editing floor nine times out of ten. And another funny note, editors rarely know who took what photo, but often when more than one photo is published for a story, we will both have an image in print for each story.

What are the best aspects of shooting as a team?
While it may be hard to turn work off, we feel lucky to shoot as a team for one reason first and foremost. On top of being a team in business and art, we are in a devoted relationship, and feel so lucky to share this amazing photographic life with the person we love most in the world. So many couples spend but minutes a day together, so we look at what we have as a gift.

As I mentioned before, it is amazing as an artist to let go of your ego enough to create something and collaborate with another artist. We get to do this all the time. And while we are both equally competent photographers in our own right, and even split up to shoot on the same job occasionally, it is incredible to have someone there who can look at your idea, your direction, your shot, and make it even better. Part of it is also just easy logic, too – what client wouldn’t be happy to have the photographer’s first assistant be as good as they are, and shooting at the same time. I fully believe it would be more common if it were not for the facts that you must check your ego at the door, split a paycheck, and share a creative mind and common goals to a freakish degree.

Best advice for any photo duo?
Yes, and that would be to really be honest with yourselves and each other about this endeavor. In many senses you are trying to become one, and you need to make sure your drive, beliefs, goals, and intentions line up, and not just your aesthetic. This is a long term relationship you are entering and should be treated as such. And if you are a couple, you need to ask yourself if your relationship can handle the amount of time and additional stress you are about to spend together, and if you can keep the perspective that you as a couple is more important than you as a business.

For the second concept on our shoot with Bill Hader and Fred Armisen for Smithsonian, we had the props and space to shoot, but it would be nothing without the emotion. We had already built a rapport with our subjects for the cover shot, and the tension was gone by our second setup. Instead of directing, we just placed Hader and Armisen and left them to their own devices. They started an improv dialogue going back and forth impersonating Obama talking about his LA shopping trip at The Grove, a popular outdoor mall. As we laughed behind the camera, they gave us real laughter that spoke to their comedic triumphs without the need for either to hold a rubber chicken.

How much time did you have for the Contender’s shoot with Variety with the subjects?
A couple minutes per subject for the most part, and even less in some instances. We have had celebrity shoots with easy time tables, but this one was all about preparation, and a head-first dive into connecting with subjects. We shot 48 subjects in all that day, so there was not a lot of time or margin for error. To prepare for the shoot we brainstormed, and even setup a light test at our home the week before the shoot. This gave us the ability to secure the additional grip and gear we needed for our concept ahead of time, and walk in relatively confident. We still arrived hours early to transform a hotel suite into our studio and fine-tune our concept. Once the subject arrives it is all about feeling out their energy, personality, and quickly reacting in a way that they will respond to.

How did the set(s) work? Did you both shoot different set ups?
For that particular shoot, we just had space for one setup, so we traded off shooting per subject. This was actually kind of vital though as we had a constant stream of subjects, sometimes in line outside our V-flats. So not only did we have to stay on point, building a new dialogue every few minutes, but we were shooting handheld with a digital medium format camera and a ring flash which is a surprisingly heavy rig. For this shoot, trading off helped us each stay in peak form for the duration. Because of the limited space we could only do one setup, but knew we needed three for one specific subject (singer Sam Smith). So we solved that by using the V-Flats we had to block light as a black backdrop, utilizing the natural light form the curtain behind our main setup. For the third, we added a little color gelled flare magic sparkle dust to the black backdrop – a Brinson+Banks trade secret ;-)

What’s the biggest difference for you in shooting news journalism vs. commercial magazines? How different is your creative approach, if at all?
The approach is different in that now we are expected to control the situation, and make the image instead of assess the situation and take the image. It’s really all the same – we are still looking for the same light, color, and emotion as we were before, but just with a different directive. It is a different world working with a publicist, and a crew, and a sharp time table as opposed to photographing a chicken catcher in rural Alabama or a political campaign trail, but all the same general principles and sensibilities apply. We are still just trying to connect, feel, and create.

That being said, it does take getting used to to have someone over your shoulder looking at your photos as you take them. There’s a looseness where everything is up to you on where you point your camera and what lens you use and who you focus on in a documentary shoot that can feel amazing versus the truly collaborative feel of a commercial or portrait shoot–the personality is as important as the photography, as are the creative ideas beforehand.

How was living in LA shaped your personal work?
We both grew up in the South so that became our visual language–greens and giant trees and a certain kind of light. Los Angeles has greatly re-shaped our personal work and personal lives and just being in such a diverse new landscape really inspired us right when we arrived. The light is different, the plants are different, being in a new place can really put an extra pep in your photographic step (that’s why traveling can be so fun). But beyond living in a huge city, LA has been the gateway to the West Coast and the deserts, beaches, mountains and vast in-between it has to offer. We take our rare free time to load up our dogs into our VW van and to camp and hike and just generally wander and that has been the fuel that has fed us creatively and given us new perspective, and a much-needed reprieve from our work hive-mind. Just to catalogue our own lives, we created our Instagram hashtag #westcoastexplorersclub to remind us of the importance to always lead a life well lived while we build our career (even if we’re still doing client calls from inside the van).

Conan O'Brien poses for a portrait on the set of his television show Conan in Burbank, California February 9, 2016. Photo Credit: Brinson+Banks

How did the Conan O’Brien shoot unfold as a favorite?
Our shoot with Conan O’Brien was our favorite in a long while, which is saying a lot because there’s some steep competition. We got to play on his set and have fun with it. Conan ended up interviewing us about how we met after he noticed and mentioned our chemistry on set. It doesn’t hurt that two of the three of us were redheads, which doesn’t happen often so Kendrick and Conan got to talk about their ” gingervitis.”

Our shot list with O’Brien included one shot on his mark where he delivers his monologue and one in his dressing room. As it goes with so many well-laid plans we got to the Burbank studio and the mark shot felt boring, and his dressing room was too busy to make the dramatic image we envisioned. Fortunately for us, we started the day by making friendly with everyone we met, and were given a tour around to see other options. We came across a mirror standing alone backstage with the quintessential vanity mirror lights where Conan quietly reflects before he goes on stage, and we instantly knew it was our new spot.

We also found another space to the side of the stage that we liked simply because of the color and shapes it offered. As we setup our lights, we made friends with the director of stage lighting who kindly supplemented our strobes with continuous lighting used for the show. It was also this new friend who helped us flood the stage wall with blue light with Conan reflected in the warm light of the off-stage mirror through an open door. Despite the fact it wasn’t used in print, it was still one of our favorites, and wouldn’t have come about without the new relationship we made.

And as a side note, while David was shooting that setup, Kendrick was directing Conan from backstage, and told him to turn around and repeat a move in the mirror and said it should be his new signature move, to which he replied, “No, that’s David’s signature move. We call it The David.”

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Tell us how you ended up on Conan O’Brien’s set, I thought you were the photographers?
Before the shoot, Kendrick said out loud that she wanted something fun like Conan standing on his desk, but we held back because we were told not to ask for goofiness. What we did instead was build a rapport with our subject while standing at his mark, and then open the door to him for something more collaborative. And what does he do but offer to pose as the thinking man on his desk. So we got our funny photo after all because we connected with our subject – that and the universe smiled on us.

Then to take the cake at the end of the shoot, rather than take a bad selfie, Conan offered us a seat on stage for a faux interview and a memory that really made our day. And then of course, we ended the day with a group hug – seriously though, we did.

The Daily Edit – Hugh Kretschmer : Oprah Magazine

- - The Daily Edit
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Oprah Magazine

Photo Director: Christina Weber
Design Director: Jill Armus
Photo Editor: Scott Lacey
Photographer: Hugh Kretschmer

How long have you been working with the magazine; tell us about your collaboration.
I have been working with Oprah Magazine since the magazine’s inception back in 2000, and in every case it was always a very inclusive and collaborative process.  This project was no different.  All parties on the magazine’s team, Photo Director, Christina Weber, Design Director, Jill Armus, and Photo Editor, Scott Lacey, contributed to the cause both in time and insight, from start to finish.  The process started with a “party-line” conference call with all members online brainstorming ideas back and forth for a good hour or so.  It was great!  This is one of my favorite parts of the process where we bring everyone’s imagination and sensibilities to the table, and “daydream” together.

What type of direction did you get from the team? And, do you always sketch out ideas?
Primarily they wanted the visuals to connote a sense of hope, and we strived to inject a positive subtext.  So, in just about every image there is an element that contrasts with the remaining ensemble; i.e., a ray of sunshine, the word “Hope”, having the model looking up rather than down, etc.   Once the sketches were approved after a few rounds, we talked about details, coloring, set design, and how some of the specialty props would be constructed.  All in all, pre-production took about two weeks, which was fine by me because every detail needed to be looked at and designed into the respective visual, and that is how I typically work.  We discussed things like costume design and color to marry well with the particular set.  Belabored the written “prescription” on the pill bottle, and how the rays of light needed to be in a golden hue.  How the dark cloud was to be designed and how it’s own color needed to match the blue of the room.

Sketches are vital in that process and I have learned not to proceed unless it is sketched out, it simply makes my job much easier. They provide, not only a blueprint for me to work from, but I can gauge size relationships, preview juxtapositions, and overall design and compositions. It segues between a vision in my head and the final photograph. The sketch is also a vital element to communicate my ideas to the art director and something I can get signed off on before production. In some cases, the designer might take my sketch and drop it into the layout, and we can all see how it fits and predict any pitfalls we may encounter during shooting. I am all about pre-production and I make sure I have enough time in the front of a project to make sure the post-production is minimized as much as possible. The sketch helps with that objective in so many ways.

What was the biggest challenge for project?
One hang-up was the chaise in the therapist office.  We searched high and low for the right one, and it was touch and go all the way up until the 11th hour when my set builder located a tufted, brown leather flat-bed type.  It just kind of showed up on shoot day with a collective sigh of relief.

What do you enjoy most about your creative process?
Another favorite part of my productions is prop making, and got the chance to create the dark cloud, pill bottle design, and the woven pigment print sculpture.  Prop making is something I love to do. So much so, Iand am now offering my services to other photographers as a side business through my agent, Renee Rhyner.

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Have you always built your own sets?
I don’t always build my own sets, but I do build them, yes. In this case, the timeline was too tight for me to create the props and set build, so I used my go-to set designer, Fabio Mascio and his team from his company, TractorVision. He and I have worked together for years, and have developed a symbiotic working relationship that clicks now that we know each other’s sensibilities and working styles.

Where or how did your love of prop making develop?
That is a good question and I never get asked it, surprisingly. I use to build things when I was a kid, whether a fort in the backyard with my neighbor, or some sort of functional gadget like a crossbow out of sticks or supplement my bicycle with whimsical handmade rockets or sidecar. And, I’m not talking about just throwing these handmade gadgets and gizmozs together, either. Whatever I did was detailed and elaborate, spending endless hours perfecting whatever I was making so it functioned and looked AWESOME.

How big was the team that produced this?
It was a pretty substantial production for an editorial job, and our collective teams were made up of 14+ people.  The shoot took two days to complete, in a sound stage at Quixote Studios, and that extra time just helped the images in the long run.  It made for very little compositing and post-production work, as we were able to cover everything needed in-camera.


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Love the woman unraveling, tell us about that.
For the image of the woven woman unraveling, I made several, 13×19 pigment prints of the image that I had previously retouched and color corrected beforehand.  The color of the print had to be right, and slightly color biased towards cool tones.  That was because the final sculpture was going to be photographed using a Nikon D800, and that sensor renders skin tones that are biased towards warm hues.  Once that was figured out, two prints were cut in half-inch strips, one in a direction 90 degrees opposite the other, in order for the weave to work as needed.  I used another print as the base to construct the woven assembly on top of and in order to make sure the woman’s face didn’t distort when assembled together.  Each strip was glued at intersecting sections, and I took liberties in forcing some dimension to the overall sculpture by bending some of the strips on the outer areas away from the face.  The sculpture was then placed on a piece of transparent Plexiglass that itself was cut to the overall shape, and placed on another larger piece of Plexiglass that was suspended over the pink seamless background.  The lighting on it was matched in direction and quality to the original set-up when I shot the model.

The Daily Edit – Marv Watson Photographer / Photo Editor

- - The Daily Edit

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The Mid Season Invitational of League of Legends 2015 Season, held at the David Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee, FL, USA on 8 May, 2015.

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TIP and Team Liquid go head-to-head in the third/fourth place matchup of the North American LCS Playoffs, held in Santa Monica, CA, USA on 18 April, 2015. Team Liquid ran out eventual winners, overcoming their rivals 3-2, twice coming from behind.

The final match up at the Mid Season Invitational of League of Legends 2015 Season, between SKT (Korea) and EDG (China), held at the David Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee, FL, USA on 10 May, 2015. The event was won by EDG, who came from a game down, to triumph 3-2.

Members of team EDG cheer on their team

 

The final match up at the Mid Season Invitational of League of Legends 2015 Season, between SKT (Korea) and EDG (China), held at the David Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee, FL, USA on 10 May, 2015. The event was won by EDG, who came from a game down, to triumph 3-2.

Soren 'Bjergson' Bjerg poses for a portrait in Santa Monica, CA, USA on 9 January, 2016.

Soren ‘Bjergson’ Bjerg of Team SoloMid

 

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Chae "Piglet" Gwang-jin, of Team Liquid, poses for a portrait in Santa Monica, CA, USA on 28 May, 2015.

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BlizzCon 2014 at the Anaheim Convention Center, in Anaheim, CA, USA on 8 November, 2014.

Life ( Starcraft II )

Marv Watson

mrvphotography for Instagram


How did you get involved with eSports, are you a gamer?

No, actually, I’m not. I would love to get into some of the games, even on a beginner level, but alas I don’t have the time to commit. I kind of fell into eSports very serendipitously. Red Bull started doing eSport events a few years ago, and I was asked to shoot one of those, which led to another assignment shooting purely editorial coverage of a third-party event, which was actually the 2013 World Championships of League of Legends. Coincidentally, a Red Bull colleague went to work for Riot Games, and threw my name in the mix, and I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with their events since then.

How is shooting this different from shooting a live sport event which I know you often do for Red Bull?
Well, I’d say the main difference is the fact that it’s such a static thing that’s going on. The players are obviously super engrossed in the game, and in the zone, and not much really happens on stage. With the Red Bull events I’ve shot, such as Double Pipe (a double-halfpipe snowboard event), or a Flugtag, there’s a ton of things going on, with a lot of movement; you’re looking to capture the peak/grab of a snowboard trick, or the best angle to show a craft in ‘flight’ so you’re constantly on the move. Naturally eSports doesn’t involve a lot of movement; most of the times the players don’t show much emotion on stage, unless they win the tie (it’s a multi-game format, say best of 5), so I’m always looking to show the energy of the whole event, be it by shooting as many angles and lenses as I can manage, or by focusing on the crowd, which is really where the energy is. The fans go crazy, just like you’d see spectators at an NBA game, it’s amazing.

Because the fans are so engaged (there are a lot that come in Cosplay of their favourite characters, they chant for the teams, they jump out of their seats and cheer) it really makes for great visuals. People often can’t imagine these events, and how thousands of people (Riot Games filled Madison Square Garden, for two days in 2015, at one of their events) can watch other people play video games, but when I show them the photos of the fans, it’s akin to a cartoon lightbulb going off above their heads. The fans are the key to the experience, and it’s shooting them that really helps to show what these events are all about. The ones that get dressed up in Cosplay really love being photographed, so that makes it easy.

One interesting thing, which happened a couple of times, at that MSG event I mentioned, was I had two or three fans ask me to sign their posters for them, purely because I was shooting for Riot.

What type of direction do you get from Riot Games when shooting for them?
They’re great, they don’t give us too much strict direction, other than “tell the story”, “show the fans”, “get behind the scenes” and so on. There’s naturally a lot of facets they want covered (the queue of fans waiting to get it, the players hanging out in the team rooms, the crowd going crazy, the shoutcasters etc), but they leave it up to us (there’s usually two of us shooting) to get creative and tell it our way. We have unprecedented access to the players, and that’s what regular media don’t get, so it’s important for us to get close to them and show what you don’t see anywhere else.

Chris Sharma climbs a Redwood tree in Eureka, CA, USA on 20 May, 2015.

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What other type of work do you do besides sports and events?
I actually shoot all sorts of things, preferably portraits and travel, but also music (shows/festivals). When I shoot for Red Bull, or when I collaborate with another photographer at events at which I’m editing, there’s such a range of things to shoot.  These events are a great chance to practice shooting diverse content. Hence, I’ve been able to add BMX, snowboarding, climbing and various motorsports to my portfolio.

I mainly love to shoot portraits, where I enjoy throwing a few lights in the mixer, be it a studio-style shot, or preferably on-location. I love the challenge of trying to find a location on the fly and get a nice shot out of it, which often happens when you have an artist for just a few minutes at a show, and don’t want a static shot in front of a boring wall.

I get to travel a fair bit, whether on the road on shoots or taking vacation, and always make sure to have a camera with me, especially when I’m in a different culture. There’s so much to see when you go somewhere new, and I’m always on the lookout for the details that tourists wouldn’t normally look for, like the local people going about their business, markets, pretty much anywhere there aren’t a thousand tourists pointing iPhones in the same direction. It’s definitely an area in which I’d like to get more involved.

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Finding Novyon poses for a portrait prior to his performance at Red Bull Sound Select Presents: Los Angeles, at Los Globos in the Silverlake neighourhood of Los Angeles, CA, USA on 25 February, 2016.

Event winner DRG poses for a portrait during Red Bull Battle Grounds Global in Santa Monica, CA, USA on 10 August, 2014.

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How has being a photo editor influenced you as a photographer?

I’ve been able to work with some great photographers over the years, and hence have been able to observe different skills. Not just lighting techniques, though of course that has really helped me hone my portraiture, but also the way they handle the talent, location-scouting with little time, how to devise an event workflow, where the turnaround is very quick. It’s obviously not brain-surgery, but they’re all invaluable skills to be able to acquire from established professionals. I see a lot of work, so have been able to learn from a range of work, from the mundane to the brilliant, so seeing all that has helped establish a kind of mental yardstick of where I know I want my own work to be. There are a few photographers with whom I’m friendly, and to whom I owe a large debt of gratitude in helping me be where I am today (they know who they are – thanks guys!).

Can you edit your own work?
Hahaha, you would think that would be one of the skills I’d have really pinned down, wouldn’t you? It’s something I actually still struggle with, insomuch as I find it tricky to make a cohesive selection from a large body of my own images. When I have to, then of course I am making a narrower selection, such as after a music event, when the turnaround time is by 9am the following day, but that’s mostly motivated by a need to get some sleep!

I can zip through anyone else’s batch of, say, 100 images, and very quickly narrow it down to the 20-25 I think tell the story in the most concise way, but doing that with my own work is a struggle. I do what I really shouldn’t do, and that’s get attached to certain images. I think it’s always valuable to have another set of eyes look over your work, which is of course why outlets have Photo Editors in the first place. Sadly, I still fall victim to what I always preach not to do. Do what I say, not what I do, I guess!

I saw that the New York Times profiled Call of Duty player Matt ‘Nadeshot’ Haag not so long ago. You were also taking photos there, in the Red Bull High Performance Lab; how do you make yourself a fly on the wall but still get the shot.
Actually, the good thing about the HPL is that the guys are really relaxed about having a photographer in there; as long as I don’t get in the way of what they’re doing, they haven’t ever moaned at me; at least not to my face. As long as the subject are cool with it, I can get right in there and very personal with them. The good thing about eSports athletes, in my experience, is they aren’t as wary as pro sports athletes and don’t have inflated egos. The only thing is they tend not to be so savvy about being on-camera, so it’s a balance between making them feel awkward and getting ‘in there’ enough. Matt, on the other hand, was great to work with, and as he already knew me (I shot portraits of him when he signed with Red Bull), so that really helped me out. The tricky thing was how to make my photos look different than the NYT photographer’s, so I used off-camera strobes a lot for accent lighting,

The Daily Edit: Psychology Today – Guzman

- - The Daily Edit

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Psychology Today

Creative Director: Edward Levine
Photo Director: Claudia Stefezius
Art Director: Yuko Miyake
Photographer: Guzman

This magazine content seems to be a unique departure from your work, is this the first time you are working with the magazine?
Yes, this was the first time working with Psychology Today and we’re delighted that they asked us to collaborate on this project. Was it a unique departure for our work? Well, not really. We enjoy taking a concept, in this case “odd emotions,” and figuring out how to visually express it. Our editorial work often has underlying conceptual themes. They could be of a political or social nature; or they could be self-referential. With “odd emotions,” it was not so much about illustrating what was happening inside one’s head but rather creating an unresolved/open ended image, that allows the viewer to interpret those feelings for themselves.

Bringing fashion into a potentially dry subject matter adds a layer of surprise to the images. Were these concepts difficult to sell to the editors?
Actually, when there is an emotional component to work with, the ideas tend to flow. That said, “odd emotions “ was a good rock for us to to leap off of. At first glance, the subject matter may appear to be a little convoluted but Ed Levine (Creative Director) and Claudia Stefezius (photo editor) were very helpful by providing us with a mood board and a list of ideas tohelp establish a visual dialogue. After some discussion, we all zeroed in on the ideas. In addition, we all felt that the images should not be too alienating, these were not emotions that we need to fear but rather, are a part of life.

How much direction did you get from the magazine or were you lucky enough to have creative freedom, I would think the latter.
There was a back and forth re:model choices. As far as our creative team, we have a team that we work with and believe that images created both for advertising and editorial are the end result of the photographer’s creative team choices, each person on the team brings their creative background and ideas to the image.
Hair stylist/Makeup artist/Fashion Stylist/et Designer and of course Assistants and Digital tech. The photographer much like a film director guides these gifted artists in the creating of the images So there is a lot of back and forth emailing regarding props direction, lighting, clothing choices and so on.

Fashion is a departure for this magazine, are you part of the magazine ushering in a new look?
I don’t think it was a conscious decision on our part. As photographers, one has to figure out intuitively how to communicate an idea in an interesting way. Since we needed the images to be thought provoking without beingtoo dark and alienating,perhaps approaching this assignment in a surrealist/ fashion context helped.

Was it a challenge to have them run an image “upside down” on the cover?
That was the magazine’s idea and we loved it. It’s what made us really try to get the assignment.

Did you personally experience any of these “odd emotions”?
Well, regarding the image of the girl climbing on the clock. We chose to work with her knowing that that she had to leave for another previously booked assignment at 3:00 PM. Still shooting her at 2:55 PM, the concept, “an acute awareness of time,” suddenly became our reality! Art does indeed imitate life.

Tell us about the image with the girl and the world on her shoulders.
During the shoot we thought it might be interesting, since it was a beach ball, to take some of the air out of the world. It added an extra layer of meaning to the image, that the world she felt so small within suddenly became fragile and quite literally a little deflated.

The Daily Edit – George McCalman: The Promo Process

- - The Daily Edit

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Caroline Schiff

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Jason Madara

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Jason Madara

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Joe Pugliese

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Joe Pugliese

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Linda Pugliese

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Linda Pugliese

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Jessica Antola

George McCalman

How long were you in the magazine industry and what skills transcended into the work you do now?
I was in the magazine industry from 1995 to 2011. I started at Money Magazine and went onto Entertainment Weekly. I moved to San Francisco in 1999 and continued at Health Magazine, MotherJones, Wired, ReadyMade and finally AFAR magazine. I’ve assigned and worked with a alot of photographers and developed personal relationships with many of them. My background in the magazine world helped in a couple of ways: It gave me insight into what art directors and photo editors/art buyers are looking for. I’m designing these promos for myself in an inverse way: I’m always thinking from the perspective of: “what kind of printed matter would I like to receive?” When I started my creative studio, I was working with Jason Madara, my studio mate. I’ve been his Jiminy Cricket for years, working with him on his portfolio and visual direction. I’m passionate and opinionated about photography. I believe in the emotional power of photography, but I’m also not sentimental about it, so I make my decisions quickly and definitively.

What are some simple decisions and questions that need to be addressed in order to hit marketing goals?
I ask many (annoying) questions of the photographers I work with. I try to get into their psychology and it works in two ways: to get them thinking about things they aren’t, and it gets me into their heads to find out what direction they want to take their work. I usually have my impressions, but this kind of relationship works best when people are hearing themselves make their epiphanies. The line of questioning is ‘Who are you?’ “What are you trying to get across?” I am always surprised at how that question throws artists off. I start with the big picture philosophy first. It forces people to dig deeper and think about the work they produce in a more personal way. The work follows those conversations. If she/he understands the message they are trying to put out in the world, it makes the ‘What images are we using’ and ‘How are we packaging it’ much more fluid. I’ve had a few conversations with shooters who are pure technicians, and don’t care about the meaning of their work. It’s all about what the client wants. I respect that. But that usually means I’m not the right designer for them. And vice versa.

What is the best “formula” you’ve developed for working with photographers?
It’s pretty organic. The design of a promo is usually a piece of an overall branding initiative. It’s rare that I just design promos alone, and it means that I think the work is compelling. I’m a big photography nerd, so I get excited (on my own) and start imaging how someones work can be presented that I think is incredible. I’m a big fan of talking on the phone, scheduled right after presentations. It allows me to get honest feedback and talk through my intent in the design. I’ve worked a couple of times with photographers who want to communicate primarily over email and I absolutely hated it, so I don’t do it anymore. Sometimes the photographer has a set idea on the body of work they want to use for the promo and other times they are completely open. They send me low-res jpegs of ‘everything’ within a body of work and I play around with a few edit directions and get a narrative theme (either through color palette, layout design or story). I send it to them. We keep talking until we’re both happy with the final edit. I think most photographers are terrible editors of their own work, so I argue when I believe an edit choice is being made emotionally on their part.

How is the conversation different between seasoned pros and up and coming?
Not as much as you might think. The seasoned pros just talk more (which is great). In most of cases the seasoned photographers I know haven’t sent out much printed work, and rely on their reps for their windfalls, so there is ambivalence of what the promo actually ‘does’. I’ll used Jason as an example: we’d been talking about doing a promo for 3 years (!) before we actually did one. He was featured in his rep’s own promo book, so he didn’t have any urgency about it.  I pitched a themed poster series to him last year and he got excited. But the process was like pulling teeth. After the posters were printed, he looked and he and said: “When are we doing the next one?” Up-and-Comers are sometimes more open to pushing the envelope, but have done less thinking about who are as individual artists. But I find similar patterns working with either set.

What advice do you have for anyone defining their brand?
I ask ‘Who are you?’ What separates you from others in the industry? Others in the same lane? Play to your strengths. Don’t try and compete. It’s all well and good to admire what others are doing, you should be paying attention to the marketplace, always, but I think it’s as important to remind yourself about what sets you apart. also: I tell photographers to stop designing their own work. Get a designer. It’s as vital to your brand as having a retoucher that completes your sentences. It’s your team, it’s your brand. Find someone who understands what you are trying to say and let them interpret your visual language. Work with someone who surprises you, and who you enjoy talking to.

Do you think there are more promos in circulation OR are we simply seeing more of them due to social media?
I think there are more due to social media. And let’s talk about social media. Because I don’t believe that posting to Instagram and tumblr is the same thing (or replaces) sending out a promo piece. Mobile devices can show sequential art, but doesn’t present a narrative with a beginning, middle and end. Books, magazines and promos provide that in a way that (I believe) will always be a part of the commercial landscape in some form.

What makes a memorable promo in your eyes?
I may sound like an asshole, but I don’t think an arresting image is enough anymore. In the age of Instagram and other social media tools, people have access to generally interesting images on a daily basis. I think how you present your images is what makes it memorable. The formula is simple, the more personal the better. Art Directors and Art buyers want to know how you think, as much as. When that is transparent, it became easier to imagine how you would be on set, or on location. It’s a way in, for people that may be seeing your work for the first time; and a reminder for the people that are familiar with you, and they should be giving you more consideration. I’m a sucker for designing promos with an actual story (the original and best meaning of that annoying word: content), bold type and smart layout design, so that’s what I try to create.

Do you have a staff at your studio?
I don’t have a conventional creative studio. I’ve been mostly a one-man operation. Most of the work that I’m doing is a culmination of designing for the past twenty years in the advertising and and editorial world. I get bored doing one thing, so I’ve created a studio where I get to work on multiple projects that play to my strengths as an art director, graphic designer, typographer and painter. I’m working on four book projects (based on my own ideas) that I’m developing and designing, as well as two fine art shows (one with my colleague, Jason Madara) coming up this year. Working with photographers is something I’m always going to do professionally and personally. It makes me so happy to see an artist cultivate their unique point of view visually. I just love it. I believe it’s possible to work commercially and maintain your perspective and vision. It’s a tricky balance, but when you do, it gives you life.

Tell us about what you do in addition to working with photographers on their branding?
I’m working on a few projects simultaneously. I’ve been working on a portrait series with Jason Madara called The Individuals. It’s a study of The Bay Area through portrait photography and the people (at present count, over 200 names) who have defined innovation across industries (science, arts, technology, academia, etc). It’s an ambitious project: we’ve been shooting it for the past year and will be shooting for at least another year. Jason is the photographer and I’m the art director, but on-set we have a weird shared-unit brain. Right now, the project only exists publicly on my Instagram account (#TheIndividualsProject) and on Jason’s website, but we are working on a book and photography exhibition. You can see the images here: Individuals 1
Individuals 2

I’ve also been working on series of hand painted typography over the last year. It’s based on phrases from my coming-of-age and quotes I hear from the people around me. I’m always writing down what I see and hear around me, and one day I decided I wanted to start the exercise of painting. I’ve been using watercolor because it’s malleable. I’ve been getting magazine and private commissions the last few months, which was unintentional, and has been a lot of fun. I have a fine-art show called The Type Note Series coming this spring.

Another project with Jason Madara is a set of figure study nudes we worked on four months ago. It’s becoming a fine art photography show at the Negative Space gallery in San Francisco. It’s a rich collaboration between him and I. We push each other creatively and its very rewarding experience.

I’m painting a series of portrait of pioneers for Black History Month. I’ve been researching more unknown (a few well known notables) and painting their portraits, using pencil, pen, ink & watercolor. I’ve been approaching each portrait in its own style, finding the personality of each person and treating them as the individuals they are. The unifying factor is that they are all in black and white. You can see the work here

On the surface it’s a diffused assortment of work, but the collective thread is that it’s all my own personal interests. I’m very curious about identity, and how we, as people, present ourselves to the world. it informs most of what I’m drawn to in commercial (and fine) art.

The Daily Edit – Mike Sakas: Editorial Story Pitching

- - The Daily Edit

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Mike Sakas 

How often do you do spec or self assigned travel jobs?
I don’t do spec jobs that often per se but I always keep an eye open for an opportunity whenever I’m traveling.  This particular piece was conceived while on an assignment in Tajikistan. I was a part of a team going to teach a photography/story-telling workshop in Gorno-Badakhshan region of Tajikistan. To get to Khorog, the capital of the region, we flew into Dushanbe and were forced by weather to drive rather than fly. So a 2 hour helicopter flight turned into a 17 hour ride in a fully packed Toyota Forerunner. Originally we were going to fly a helicopter through the Himalayas the group was understandably a little bummed;  however the trip by road was an battering steel-lined-bouncy-castle of a ride.  I simply had to come back and do a longer version on motorcycle. As luck would have it, by the end of our assignment we had a return trip planned and I began research on what our extended route would be.  Having finished the trip and told some stories to my rider buddies, I’m convinced a lot of people would enjoy the tale and may even find it inspirational enough to go on one like it themselves.  So I’m pitching it around.

Have you had success with this before?
I have had success with this before but beyond the obvious magazine coverage, it’s always the weirder spin-off stuff that makes it more interesting.  The last time I did this sort of thing I was going to Thailand on a mountain bike trip with a bunch of guys from my local riding group.  We had planned an epic weekend around a local “friends match” and I actually didn’t intend on shooting much. However, as soon as we got to the mountain I met a couple of the event organizers and a writer covering the race and that was that.  I covered the event and the photos were picked up by a UK riding mag and a mountain bike apparel company.  It also turned into 4 more days of shooting stills and video for the apparel maker.

Who are you hoping to pitch this story to?
I’m planning to pitch the story to some of the more general travel adventure mags first: Outside, Afar, Travel + Leisure, Adventure Travel, Lonely Planet, etc. One of these guys would be ideal as they are more generally in my wheelhouse.  If none of them bite however, I’ll move on to the more specific adventure motorcycle rags:  Adventure Rider, Road Runner, Overland Magazine, etc.

 What does your pitch look like?
Basically, I write an email with a hello or an introduction if I don’t know the contact. I include a gripping (but short) narrative summary with a couple of images and then I wait.  I don’t like dropping a pitch on an editor cold if I can help it but the nature of my (non)process is such that I sometimes find myself shooting a story I probably haven’t done before. That being the case, sometimes I find an audience I’ve never been in front of before.  I try to keep it short and sweet and while I like to be friendly, I understand that most editors are swimming in work and I don’t want my pitch to be heavy. If they’re interested they’ll write back…if not, I move on.

Did you have a writer with you, or you wrote all your own content?
Almost every time I’ve gone out with writer we’ve been on assignment.  Since I tend to do these sorts of spec pieces sporadically, almost accidentally, I end up doing my own writing. It’s not that big of a stretch since I tend to journal during my travels anyways and it’s another way of creating a link between my thoughts and experiences and the audience. Interestingly, since there’s another workflow to writing about a trip vs. photographing one, in a circular way this gives me another avenue of relating to an experience while I’m having it.

 How do you formulate the story? Do you try and outline something or simply allow it to unfold organically?
Certainly I think it’s important to be familiar with your subject and to have a plan but I also believe, as they say, “strategy is only good until the first shots are fired.”   So in a sense I am a reactionary photographer in that, when I’m interacting with a subject, I not only follow it around as it does whatever it does, I let the mood of the thing inform how I photograph and tell the story.   For example, I photographed a small town, again in Thailand, during a Chinese New Year celebration.  As the day wore on and the festivities developed, things began to get more and more chaotic and fast paced. The drums and gongs turned to a near constant ear-splitting drone and the firecrackers and bigger explosions began to resonate in our bodies.  Soon I began adopting that chaotic energy in the way that I photographed the town.  The result was a series of images that were full of motion, vibrant colors, and portraits instead of the romantic images of a quaint rural town that they had started out to be.  Well, I write and photograph a story in the same way; I let the story describe itself to me. It’s my favorite thing that as I have an experience and let things develop, story eventually begins to take on it’s own form and tell me what it’s meant to be.

 

The Daily Edit – Benjamin Rasmussen: TIME

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TIME


Creative Director:
D.W. Pine
Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise: Kira Pollack
Deputy Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise: Paul Moakley
Photographer: Benjamin Rasmussen

Was this your first project with Time?
Yes, this was my first assignment with Time magazine, so I was pretty terrified going into it. I grew up in the rural Philippines and every couple of months we would get our mail and there would be a pile of Time magazines to explore. It has always been the one that got away and has a lot of my favorite photo editors, so I was both incredibly excited and anxious. I got the call for the assignment on Thursday and then flew out Friday night and shot Saturday and Sunday.

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Paul Moakley wanted clean environmental portraits of newly engaged voters. He referenced work that I had done of protestors in Ferguson for Bloomberg Businessweek, which is a style that I usually shoot on Polaroid in really active and sunny situations. It is a flat lighting style that relies on the energy and personality of the person being photographed to carry the frame. I tweaked it a bit because of shooting digital medium format instead of Polaroid and because we were photographing in grey and snowy Iowa.

How did you decide who to approach for a portrait?
Because the style relied so much on the subject, I was really intentional about trying to find people who had a presence to them that could translate photographically. But because they needed to be newly engaged voters and were going to be quoted, they also needed to be thoughtful and articulate. Sam Frizell, the writer from Time, and I would talk with people in line and then tap one another if they would work visually or for the story.

How did you engage them during the shoot? 
I would chat at the beginning and build some rapport as we walked from the line to where we were set up to shoot; I would try to listen as Sam interviewed them. During the shoot I would ask them to think through a specific scenario, which would change depending on what they had said during the interview. One man said that the only candidates he had ever liked were Ronald Reagan, Ron Paul and Donald Trump; so I asked him to imagine sitting with the three of them for five minutes and what he would want them to discuss. Or I would ask a person to image the feeling of the evening of November 8 and their candidate declaring victory.   This would put people in a thoughtful and internal space, which tended to carry into the portraits.

How long was each portrait?
Sam would interview people for about five minutes or so, and I would photograph them often times for just a few minutes more. We were typically taking people in groups of two – four and were rushing to get them back to the line so that they wouldn’t lose their spot.

I know this was your first job with Time, did you send them promos? Is that how they connected with you or did you have meetings with them prior to the assignment?
Time
was near the top of my list when I started doing promo books five or six years ago. And I would always try to come by when I was in New York with my book and show new work and get their thoughts on it. My project By The Olive Trees that I did with Michael Friberg was featured on Lightbox and I have had other interactions with the crew there as well.

I tend to take a pretty long view with these kinds of relationships. I like and respect the folks at Time because I think that they are really good at what they do and they have a passion for good photography. Whether or not I work with them immediately, or ever, doesn’t directly impact how I feel about them. Some of my favorite photo editors work at places that I am not a good fit for, but I will still always keep up with them and reach out because I respect them and love getting their insights.

The Daily Edit – Kenji Aoki: Real Simple

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Real Simple

Creative Director: Janet Froelich
Photo Editor: Alice Jones

Photo Editor: Emily Kinni
Photographer: Kenji Aoki

 


What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
The magazine was seeking something conceptual and abstract based on some of my earlier work.

Tell us about your creative process for this simple, elegant solution for stress.
The article was about stress and how stress can be a positive motivation depending on its type and cause; so I thought about these four key words from the article: “Chaos”, “Calm”, “Pressure”, and “Relief/Release.”I find working through language in this way is often the most important first step before shooting.

Is there a pattern to when or where you ideas occur?
Focusing on one word can conjure many images, in this case I felt I could best extract the essence of these concepts by using geometric conceptualizations. Rather than trying to think up ideas, I sought a resolution by ridding myself of all unnecessary information and focusing on these few words.

Do you have a journal for your ideas, sketchbook?
Having studied design, I find it very helpful to draw rough sketches before shooting, so yes, I keep a sketchbook.

What is that white ball of lines: fishing line, wire?
We used thread for “Chaos” and wire for “Calm”, but we tried to shoot them in such a way as to not be recognizable as such.

For the two contrasting opening spread images, how closely did you work with the art department on your ideas, especially for the type placement?
Prior to the magazine’s release, I wasn’t sure how exactly my images would be used. The typography and layout was done by Janet Froelich, the creative director. Her layouts are always amazing and I am always inspired by her work.

 

The Daily Edit – Narayan Mahon: ESPN

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ESPN.com

Photo Editor: Kaitlin Marron
Photographer: Narayan Mahon

Do you golf?
I have never golfed a day in my life. But I were to golf one day, it would definitely be on a frozen lake with lots of belly-warming booze and layers of wool.

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Don’t get frostbite. But there really was no direction from the magazine other than to shoot anything and everything and just to make a fun photo essay.

How often do you work with ESPN?
It varies, of course, but about five times a year.

What was the biggest challenge for this shoot?
Originally the weather was supposed to be cloudy all day but it turned out to be sunnier, so the snow on the lake was intensely bright. My plan was to shoot this with a ringflash but the snow-sun combo was all the fill light I needed. After that the biggest challenge was staying warm while standing on ice and snow for eight hours. My face was wind burned and my corneas burned from the brightness of the snow, which hurt for a couple of days after the shoot. The things you do for love!

Did you learn anything new that you think could transcend into future shoots?
I learned that I need a pair of insulated overalls! I should have learned that on the previous year’s snowy cross country skiing shoot for ESPN when I was waist deep in snow; but seriously, insulated overalls.

I know the tournament started because of freak storm several years ago; had you shot this before?
It’s a neat way for people to get outside, raise money for a charity and, apparently, because they are on the lake, open container laws don’t apply, so there’s a lot of drinking, for better or worse! But this was the first time I had photographed it.

When your face froze to the camera, how did you peel it off and what did you do to prevent that from happening again?
Well, I had a wool neck gaiter on, too, which I had pulled up over my mouth and nose, but then the viewfinder fogs up so quickly I can’t have it on while shooting. So I take it off for a second and then there’s condensation of the back of the camera and my nose would freeze to it every time, like a tongue on a flag pole! Just a quick pull-apart to detach myself was all that was needed… but no fun either way.

I know this started out as a print project and then got bumped to the web, did you have to do anything different for delivery or edit?
The edit was the same, it just meant delivering smaller files. I shot this medium format so the files were pretty robust for something just going online.

Did you find out about the change in plan after you turned in your edit?
Yeah, I found out after. It’s always a possibility; still just as heartbreaking, though.

The Daily Edit – Floto + Warner: Architectural Digest

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Some outtakes below:

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Architectural Digest

Photo Director: Michael Shome
Features Editor: Sam Cochran

Photograher:  Floto + Warner

How did this project come about?
This was a commission from the Photo Director at Architectural Digest – Michael Shome.

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
We work with Michael quite a bit, so he is familiar with how we work and see things.  This gives us a bit of freedom with the approach.  Our only directive was that this photograph would be featured as a full page vertical.

Where were you when you took this image?
Our vantage point is from the Choir Balcony with the massive Gallery Organ – those pipes were amazing to see so close.  We get to go in some really amazing places and see things you would normally never have access to. Crossing the velvet rope in such a historic place made us feel like kids again. We were also able to stand at the alter.  They were pretty open to letting us roam free.

Did you always envision this shot to be taken up so high?
Absolutely.  What could be better than a God’s eye view on the sacred geometry of the cathedral?

I’m guessing that was all natural light?
Yes, we used existing light – lighting or other changes to the location were not possible.  We couldn’t disrupt the visitors. We did have to hurry though because mass was going to start and that takes a very long time.

Was it difficult to compose the image? 
No.  This was a pretty straight forward architectural approach. However we did experiment quite a bit.  There were many beautiful views.

How did you achieve this technique of the people praying?
We included some off-topic experiments, we took with a thermal camera of people praying. We shot them with a Flir thermal camera, that we rented from Home Depot.
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The Daily Promo: Edgar Artiga

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Edgar Artiga

Who printed it?
I worked with Rikki Webber at Modern Postcard. She’s really great to work with.

Who edited the images?
Jasmine DeFoore edited the images. She’s an amazing editor.  I’m so happy I was able to work with her on this project. She also edited and designed my print books and website.

Who designed it?
I designed the layout of the promo but ran the final design by Jasmine DeFoore to make sure she approved.

How many did you make?
I wanted to do a small run of 100. The reaction to the promo has been really positive so I’m thinking about doing another run.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Ideally I’d like to send out 3 or 4 small runs a year to a select client list.

How did this promo idea develop?
I shot this as a personal project; I love the history and tradition of black college marching bands, and wanted to approach photographing and lighting them as I would an athlete. My goal was to make them look like superheroes showing the passion and energy of these young men and women. I’ve been thrilled with the feedback so far, I think people really connect with that energy I captured.

The Daily Edit: Richard Johnson Ice Huts / Modern Farmer

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Ice Hut # 504a, Shields, Blackstrap Lake, Saskatchewan, 2011 - From the Series "Ice Huts" by Richard Johnson © 2007-2016 Richard Johnson Photography Inc, www.icehuts.ca, 416-755-7742

Ice Hut # 504a, Shields, Blackstrap Lake, Saskatchewan, 2011

 

Ice Hut # 722, Dragon Lake, Quesnel, British Columbia, 2015 - From the Series "Ice Huts" by Richard Johnson © 2007-2016 Richard Johnson Photography Inc, www.icehuts.ca, 416-755-7742

Ice Hut # 722, Dragon Lake, Quesnel, British Columbia, 2015

 

Ice Village # 35, Georgina, Lake Simcoe, Ontario, 2012 - From the Series "Ice Huts" by Richard Johnson © 2007-2016 Richard Johnson Photography Inc, www.icehuts.ca, 416-755-7742

Ice Village # 35, Georgina, Lake Simcoe, Ontario, 2012

 

Ice Village # 60, L'Anse Saint-Jean, Saguenay River, Quebec, 2014 - From the Series "Ice Huts" by Richard Johnson © 2007-2016 Richard Johnson Photography Inc, www.icehuts.ca, 416-755-7742

Ice Village # 60, L’Anse Saint-Jean, Saguenay River, Quebec, 2014

 

Ice Village # 68, Rimouski, Fleuve Saint-Laurent, Quebec, 2015 - From the Series "Ice Huts" by Richard Johnson © 2007-2016 Richard Johnson Photography Inc, www.icehuts.ca, 416-755-7742

Ice Village # 68, Rimouski, Fleuve Saint-Laurent, Quebec, 2015

 

Ice Village # 96, Oyster Pond, Atlantic Ocean, Nova Scotia, 2015 - From the Series "Ice Huts" by Richard Johnson © 2007-2016 Richard Johnson Photography Inc, www.icehuts.ca, 416-755-7742

Ice Village # 96, Oyster Pond, Atlantic Ocean, Nova Scotia, 2015

 

 

Ice Hut # 786e, Point-a-la-Garde, Chaleur Bay, Quebec 2015 - From the Series "Ice Huts" by Richard Johnson © 2007-2016 Richard Johnson Photography Inc, www.icehuts.ca, 416-755-7742

Ice Hut # 786e, Point-a-la-Garde, Chaleur Bay, Quebec 2015

 

Ice Hut # 594e, McLeods, Chaleur Bay, New Brunswick, 2012 - From the Series "Ice Huts" by Richard Johnson © 2007-2016 Richard Johnson Photography Inc, www.icehuts.ca, 416-755-7742

Ice Hut # 594e, McLeods, Chaleur Bay, New Brunswick, 2012

 

Ice Hut # 661e, Point-de-Chene, Shediac, New Brunswick, 2014 - From the Series "Ice Huts" by Richard Johnson © 2007-2016 Richard Johnson Photography Inc, www.icehuts.ca, 416-755-7742

Ice Hut # 661e, Point-de-Chene, Shediac, New Brunswick, 2014

 

Ice Hut # 665f, Deer Lake, Newfoundland, 2014 - From the Series "Ice Huts" by Richard Johnson © 2007-2016 Richard Johnson Photography Inc, www.icehuts.ca, 416-755-7742

Ice Hut # 665f, Deer Lake, Newfoundland, 2014

 

Ice Hut # 675a, Buckwheat Corner, Bras d'Or Lake, Cape Bretton, Nova Scotia, 2014- From the Series "Ice Huts" by Richard Johnson © 2007-2016 Richard Johnson Photography Inc, www.icehuts.ca, 416-755-7742

Ice Hut # 675a, Buckwheat Corner, Bras d’Or Lake, Cape Bretton, Nova Scotia, 2014

 

Ice Hut # 704f, La Baie Des Ha! Ha!, Saguenay River, Quebec, 2014 - From the Series "Ice Huts" by Richard Johnson © 2007-2016 Richard Johnson Photography Inc, www.icehuts.ca, 416-755-7742

Ice Hut # 704f, La Baie Des Ha! Ha!, Saguenay River, Quebec, 2014

 

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Modern Farmer

Creative Director: Maxine Davidowitz
Photography Director: Lila Garnett
Photographer: Richard Johnson/Ice Huts


How long has it taken you to go from coast to coast in Canada for this body of work, and do you add to it each year?

I knew there was a story to be told in 1991 when I was first introduced to the ice fishing community on Lake Timiskaming, bordering Ontario and Quebec. The idea percolated for many years and in winter 2006-2007 I decided to get out and investigate further. The logical starting point was just north of my home in Toronto, Lake Simcoe. It was an overcast, snowy day and there were many huts out on the newly formed ice. I set up my tripod and began to capture elevational views and 3/4 views, basically circling each hut from the same height in a style known as typological study, common  to my earlier bodies of work, Water Towers and Garbage Bins of Wassaga Beach. I returned several more times during different weather conditions and it became clear that overcast, snowy light was the best fit to describe the isolation within a square format. The following year I was in Prince Edward Island in February for an architectural interior shoot and I noticed an ice fishing village across the bay from my hotel. Surprised and delighted, I wondered if it was popular in every province, and that is when the coast to coast narrative began. I would need to travel to 10 provinces and search for locations while holding onto the overcast, snowy aesthetic for consistency. This would take years, as I was to discover. Out of 52 weeks, there are only 3 weeks of possible shooting in many locations given my restrictions for continuity. In 2010, I began to incorporate the landscape into large format panoramas talking about community and place. This series is entitled Ice Villages. It seems that every year I peel away another layer about the culture, the people, the regional architectural requirements that make ice fishing a quirky yet popular winter phenomenon.

I know you are an architectural photographer, what drew you to the ice huts and do you shoot interiors?
For me, an ice fishing hut is the most fundamental expression of architecture. It is designed and built by the owner. It is transportable. It is shelter with a hole in the floor serving a common purpose. Yet with a similar list of design criteria each one is uniquely different; a testament to the owner’s personality. I shoot the interiors when possible, but it is more difficult than you would imagine.

How do you deal with the obstacle of limited space for the interiors?
The limited space can be handled with wide angle lenses, however, my square format framing (from the exteriors) has challenges inside. I always try to include the augured hole(s) in the floor but sometimes they get cropped out. And then there is the issue of the fishermen inside, toasty and warm. These aren’t portraits and I would rather the huts be empty.

Is it difficult to be invited in for an interior? ( I’d imagine you’re happy to step into a 90 degree tiny room for a spell )
Actually going inside a heated hut is not ideal when you are bundled up and on the move. Its like a jogger at a red light: they don’t rest, but actually keep jogging on the spot. As well, the equipment doesn’t like the extremes of cold to hot and back again. Lots of sensitive electronics and optics that get condensation then frosty can lead to issues you don’t want to deal with. And of course there is  no polite way to turn down a drink, which can easily move on to several. When I find an area with a good number of huts and the weather is overcast and snowy, I try to get as much done outside as possible. The next day might be sunny and then you’ve missed those opportunities. As the focus of this body of work is an architectural study, I am less interested in portraits and having people in the shots, especially the interiors. Also, the extreme wide angle lenses can stretch people at the edge of the frame in unflattering ways.

How long do you spend in one location? Do you have a snowmobile to get around?
The amount of time varies depending on the number of huts and the weather. I prefer to drive to locations for several reasons, the most important being the discovery of gems along the way. I also can carry my full kit of gear: lenses, a sled, additional boots and other bulky items. When flying everything has to be stripped down to regulation size and weight which results in compromise. I do fly to locations west. However, my starting point in Toronto allows me to drive to locations east. I’ve driven to Newfoundland twice which is 36 hours and includes an overnight ferry cutting through 6′ of ocean ice with lots of white out conditions along the way. A snowmobile would be helpful for some situations but hauling it around all the time would make me less agile and unable to navigate the backroads which often lead to wonderful surprises. So I walk a lot. Snowshoes and a sled with my gear pulled behind. Once I spot a location I will study the huts with binoculars to see if they are worthy of the possible hour long walk to get out. I  keep to daylight hours, which in winter ends at 4:30pm. After that its easy to lose your orientation and find your way back off the ice, especially if the weather turns. Even the wind can reduce visibility with blowing snow, which, ironically, is what I search for. Google is not a reliable back up as cell service is often non existent or spotty.

Do you have a favorite hut or village that you’ve photographed?
I have many favorites but one that comes to mind is Ice Hut # 556, Ghost Lake, Alberta. The rocky mountains are in the background and the hut is like a log cabin, hand hewn timbers with a little smoke stack. Quintessential Canadian.

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Aside from retouching yellow snow, do you do any additional work on the images?

When conditions are ideal you are 85% there: light snow, soft (distant) background, bright colours. Because I shoot digital, there are a million ways to process the files from the source data a raw camera file gives you. Grey and white and snow are very tricky to render what the eye sees. I tweak the saturation and contrast a bit, all part of the processing options. Remember Ansel Adams would play with processing temperatures to achieve greater detail in the shadows. Same principles apply: its about rendering a scene to what you experience in the moment, beyond what a basic average metered exposure will achieve. A fresh snowfall always covers up the often gritty surroundings of a clear day.

How much equipment do you bring along and it’s there any techniques you have for protecting gear from the elements and keeping your hands warm? 
Those little hand warmer pouches in mittens are the only way to last any length of time. Fiddling with large format lenses, shutter releases, focusing knobs all require bare fingers for articulation. popping them back into a warm mitten brings frozen digits back to life. Otherwise, layered clothing. Walking distance in thick snow pulling a sled works up a sweat even at – 20 (celcius). Keeping all the heavy items on a sled allows you to be mobile and lighter than if you had a back pack, which would be unsafe in certain ice conditions. Its all about spreading the weight around.

 

The Daily Edit – New York Magazine: Dina Litovsky

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New York Magazine

Director of Photography: Jody Quan
Editor for Ladies who Gala:  Roxanne Behr
Editor for Gayle King:  Marvin Orellana
Photographer: Dina Litovsky

Heidi: How do you make yourself “invisible?” and when the subjects start to notice the camera, how do you deflect/deal or overcome this?

Dina: It’s impossible to make yourself invisible when working with flash in low-lit environment. The hardest thing is to avoid the subjects posing for the camera, since everyone assumes that’s the shot the photographer is looking for. One way to avoid is it wait on the side when other photographers gather take their shots – once they are done people tend to instantaneously relax and take off the game face – that’s when I snap a few images. Another way is to move in very quickly before the person realizes they are the subjects of the image,  that works when they are distracted by being on the phone/talking with someone. It’s easier to shoot subjects in a crowd, people don’t think that I’m singling them out and just ignore the camera. The hardest image is of a person alone in their own space – I either need to be super fast or let them pose first for the camera and then once they think the shoot is done take one more photo.

Did you have an assistant and how much gear do you typically bring?

Usually I have an assistant to help me with the off-camera flash. That allows me to direct the light from many directions and it’s especially useful in large spaces when shooting crowds. Held in the right way, the flash isolates the subjects that I’m interested in while still preserving the ambiance of the space. I bring just minimal amount of gear – one lens, on camera transmitter and a flash.

What did you wear?

I always wear all black and most importantly, very comfortable boots.

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?

The editors wanted to feel the exclusivity and the decadence of the scene and of course see a lot of celebrities, but other than I had a lot of freedom to experiment. I was sending in the images after every few days to make sure that the story was on the right track. There were some adjustments done but we were on the same page from the beginning, which was great.

This event has a unique subculture, what elements were you trying to show without being ostentatious or was this the point?

In part the focus was on photographing the over-the-top jewels and the clothes, they were a big visual part of what was happening. But I was also interested in the interactions between the guests and their mannerisms.

NYMag Gayle King

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Gayle King Story

How hard was it to keep up with Gayle?

The hardest thing was waking up at 3am to make it Gayle’s place by 4:30 am. I am definitely not used to that so it wasn’t easy to get into work mode right away.  Gayle goes into hair and makeup at every morning at 5am at CBS and doesn’t rest until 11pm in the evening. I found her energy contagious so other than that first hour in the morning the shoot was both challenging and invigorating.

Since you parallel her, what tricks to you have to stay engaged and working the entire time?

Most importantly I make sure to get a good night’s sleep, I need at least 7 hours a day to feel fully functional so with Gayle I was in bed by 9pm. I start out with an espresso but that’s all I need to get going, once I start shooting the adrenaline keeps me awake and alert so I can shoot all day without feeling tired.