Category "The Daily Edit"

The Daily Edit – Christopher Anderson: TIME

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TIME

Editor: Andrew Katz
Photographer: Christopher Anderson

Heidi: Athlete shoots can be notoriously short, how much time did you get with the talent?
Christopher: Not always short. Depends. In this case we were supposed to have an hour to set up and an hour with him. We probably could have gotten that but PSG PR was completely disorganized and seemed  not to have even briefed him properly nor prepared on their end. I was quite shocked, frankly. Hence no set up time which is the most ridiculous part of it was we were kept in a holding room, no chance to scout the area or set up until moments before he arrived. I am used to shooting fast but having no chance to set up or understand the space where the shoot will happen is crucial. My advice to photo editors and producers would be negotiating the set up time for the photographer is even more important than the amount of time you negotiate with the subject.

Since he’s a rising star, how did you direct him?
I quickly showed him a photograph I had made of Ronaldo and explained that I wanted to shoot him as a human being, not an object and that it needed to be a collaboration between us. I talked to him like a thinking person and said that, yes, I hope that he looks good in the image but if the image didn’t feel real, no one will care about it or remember it.

What was his reaction?
His face changed and he got into it.

Do you remember the first time you had a shoot where the timing suddenly got cut down to minutes? If so, what was your reaction then, and what is your reaction now?
It happens all the time. Too many times to describe them all here. The main thing I have learned is to always trust yourself and what you do. Know what you want from an image going in. That doesn’t mean to be so planned out that you can’t react. I am talking about knowing what you want an image to be about. For me it’s about authenticity. I stay focused on making a real image and I don’t get distracted or rattled by the time or the “tricks”. Never panic

The Daily Edit – Polaroids of Women: Dewey Nicks

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Bijou Phillips & Emily Cadenhead, Bill Burgess House, Palm Springs

Cindy Crawford, Big Sur.

Isaac Mizrahi & Shalom Harlow, Pier 59 Studios,

Jasmine Guinness, Zuma Beach

Patricia Arquette, Morgan House, Hollywood

Natalie Portman, Upper East Side, New York

Patricia Arquette, Morgan House, Hollywood

Polaroids of Women

Book Designer: Tom Adler
Writer: Brad Dunning
Photographer: Dewey Nicks

Heidi: What made you want to keep all your Polaroids? how where they stored, organized?
Dewey: First and foremost we kept Polaroids for practical reasons: the Polaroids were a tool to help organize and identify film rolls. We made grease pencils notes on the Polaroids for the lab techs as color and exposure references for processing rolls of 120 and 35 mm which was considered the “real film”.

Because the Polaroids weren’t considered “important” they were looser.  I would have to reframe a bit when we changed to the Polaroid camera with its fixed lens. That change helped create a new momentum. The honesty of the Polaroid color reproduction creates an undeniable intimacy with the color and light quality of the original subject.   I always thought that Polaroids were worth saving because the image you see is a unique 1 of 1 photo with a surface that actually saw the light reflected through the lens, never to happen again.

Did you know you’d be doing a book someday?
I was working on 2 or 3 long-term projects that I imagined would be presented as books. Those projects were shot on negative or transparency film with the intention of making high quality images. The boxes of Polaroids were almost like scrapbooks of the moments we loved from shoots, testaments to favorite memories and once I rediscovered them, they rose to the top of the list.

How many did you have in total?
There were several thousand Polaroids.  Black and white Polapan, Polacolor, SX70, Fujicolor instant film were all thrown into a box and forgotten.

How long did the editing process take and what elements did a Polaroid have to have in order to make the edit?
I shared the box of Polaroids with my friend, designer Tom Adler, who creative directed many of the shoots included in the stack of Polaroids. Tom took the images and came back in a couple of days with layouts of an edit focused on portraits of Women. Some well-known women, some young faces, some friends and collaborators. All beautiful. I loved what Tom showed us and his first layout is basically what ended as the final book.

What do you miss about Polaroid?  Your work is often described as fun, energetic and your Polaroids have a type of freedom and unguarded moments, how do you satisfy that now?
Like pretty much everyone else I reach for my iPhone when I see something that I want to record quickly. As convenient as it is to have that technology in hand, nothing takes the place of viewing through the rangefinder of the camera knowing you get one quick chance to decide focus, exposure, and composition to make the picture, and you won’t be able to see the outcome for a couple minutes. It’s a risky process, but uniquely rewarding.

How did you and Brad collaborate for the forward? Did you have long chats, give him the box of images to sift through?
I was incredibly lucky to work with Brad on many photo shoots when he production designed and edited print stories. He had a lot of influence on many of the images in the book.  As a matter of fact, a few of the Polaroids used were from Brad’s personal collection from our shoots.  We spoke briefly about some of the specific Polaroids but Brad, who always references the most interesting details, wrote the foreward from his firsthand experience.

 

The Daily Edit – Medmen: J.R. Mankoff

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MedMen

Photographer: J.R. Mankoff

Heidi: How did this campaign come about?
JR: Medmen reached out to me with a simple concept for their latest campaign. Let’s shoot individual images based on the locations of each of their stores (West hollywood, Beverly Hills, DTLA, Venice, San Diego, Orange County, etc…) and focus on simple clean imagery where the identity if the individual is not as important as their expression of individuality. I was familiar with Medmens previous campaigns in which they have been identifying the stigma that all people consume cannabis. They executed this by showing portraits of a wide range of individuals. I know this to be true, but consuming cannabis is still very much “under the table”, though legal here in California, and Medmen has done a great job making it approachable to everyone.

Tell us about the creative process
It truly was a complete collaboration and Medmen was very open to my suggestions. I scouted locations for three days with them to figure out what would be the best locations and the best times of day to shoot each image. Some initially concepts worked out well, but once we scouted the location, new ideas formed that shifted to what you see today. I believe that a location often dictates the image and its best not to force an image upon it. Medmen was very understanding of the way I liked to work and create and this allowed these images to truly reflect both our visions. Which is why I believe they are so strong.

Were the images shot full length than cropped later as a concept?
Cropping out the heads was always part of the concept, but needed to be shot. Every image was shot on a single frame, knowing that the crop would take away half the image. The actually finished images where much wider then the ones seen on the billboards. It was fun to shoot for a crop that wide. Everything was shot in camera. There were no green screens.

This is a 4 million dollar ad campaign, tell us about its reach.
There are 36 billboards around LA, Wildpostings everywhere, T-shirts and all their delivery trucks (where I believe there are hundreds) all have my images on them. Not to mention ads in local magazines and newspapers. They recently just put up a 7 story tall hand painted mural of my image in DTLA. It’s so cool to see! It really is a big push by them and I think it’s an important campaign to help educate or direct people to start educating themselves on cannabis consumption.

 

Here’s a clip on NRP about this ad campaign

You can see J.R.’s full campaign here

The Daily Edit – Wired: Anna Alexander

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Wired

Photographer Director: Anna Alexander
Design Director: Ivylise Simones
Senior Photo Editor: Amy Silverman
Senior Photo Editor: Samantha Cooper
Associate Photo Editor: Lauren Joseph
Photo Editor: Sara Urbaez
Photo Researcher: Phuc Pham
Visuals Manager: Beth Holzer
Managing Art Director: Alyssa Walker
Photo Fellow: Halie Chavez
Photographer: Michellle Groskopf

WIRED celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. The magazine selected 25 icons of the digital revolution who have had the biggest impact on the worlds of technology, science, and business over the past quarter-century and hired LA street photographer Michelle Groskopf to take portraits of everyone in the issue. We caught up with photo director Anna Alexander about the making of this issue.

Heidi: Why did you feel it was important for one person to shoot the issue?
Anna: Since this was a very special issue celebrating Wired’s 25th anniversary, I felt that it needed a consistent aesthetic throughout. At the time, way back in March- when we were planning the issue- we didn’t have a design goal since we weren’t quite sure what stories would be the meat of it or what previous Wired signature “furniture” items we would resurrect, so we weren’t sure of the look. We knew we wanted it to be colorful and celebratory. We also knew that we were going to have fifty subjects contribute in some way, so – naturally- I HAD to photograph them all. I get possessive like that. We had been saving up for months, like you would for a vacation- a little out of each pay check (or issue in this case).

What were some of the obstacles, and some of the victories?
The main obstacle for this issue was time. Even though we started MONTHS before the issue closed, it still wasn’t enough time to send Michelle to shoot everyone AND edit AND sleep. There were around four subjects in Europe and Asia, but it would take a huge chunk of the precious time we had to send her there. She did not like hearing that, but I had to make the decision. For once, we actually had the funds to send her everywhere since we had saved for a very long time, but we could get double the portraits done in the US in the amount of time it would take her to go across the Atlantic to shoot only four.
Another huge obstacle was SUMMER VACATIONS. These well-known subjects actually DO go on vacation, just like us! Naturally, we invaded a couple of them on their family holidays. We also only had two cancellations, which were legitimate excuses and we were able to reshoot them. The only thing is that when there is a cancellation, we lost a full day of shooting (she shot around two subjects a day, based on geographic convenience to one another).

What type of direction did you give her?
I grabbed a selection of images from her site, both black and white and color. These were the images that I presented to the editors, so these were what I sent to her. “Like these.” I was honestly very open with art direction for her. I asked for black and white and color, vertical and horizontal, up close and full length and then for her to just go for it. “Do the thing you do that makes you feel it.” I don’t know what I said, but she got it. That is a large combination of frames if you match all of those options up with each other, especially in the short amount of time we had with each subject. I had NO idea how she worked with subjects since she’s a street photographer. They don’t necessarily interact with their subjects. They just compose each frame immediately and grab a shot without getting caught. I have to say, this technique worked really well with this project.

Was this a difficult issue to edit?
YES. Oh, very much YES. She sent so many, which I am very, very grateful for, actually. She also sent them all in high resolution final files, so if we had an emergency, which we did- of course, we were ready to fulfill. The edits that she sent to me had safe headshot shots, wonderful can-we-really-publish-this- shots, feet shots and hand shots. Lots of detail images too, just like what her signature style is.
I had to edit for the print features, then the print photo grid in the beginning of the issue, then for the online edition, then for marketing and promoting of the October anniversary event that all these subjects  are participating in.

 

Read about Michelle’s experience here.  
More information is available at WIRED.com/25.

The Daily Edit – Los Angeles Magazine: Steven Simko

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Los Angeles Magazine

Design Director: Steven Banks
Photographer: Steven Simko

Heidi: What was the cover direction?
Steven: The cover brief was “LA’s most iconic places for tourists to be locals ” so Steven Banks (design director LA mag) came up with the concept of photographing a model at the Paul Smith Wall on Melrose #paulsmithpinkwall

Is the cover a painted set?
I scouted the location the day before in the morning and then in the afternoon using the iPhone app LightTrac to figure out the Sun’s best timing for a deep shadow off the model on to the ground (this detail was the most important to Steven’s design).

did you simply tell her to jump? what type of direction did you give her?
We were very fortunate that Kari Michelle (model) used to do the long jump in High School but this was the direction I gave her as seen in this  BTS shot …pretty good jump right ?

Is that the sun or a did you light this? is that her true shadow on the wall?
With the sun’s optimal light between 4:00- 5:30PM the PS store gave us an hour to shoot. We shout non tethered on a Leica Sl with 24-90mm 1/1250 at  f/ 4.5 ISO 100

Did you need a permit, was there a crowd since it’s so iconic?
Yes, we needed an LA city permit. There was a ongoing crowd of selfie takers at one end of the wall but Paul Smith was nice enough to
give us our own section to shoot against away from  the crowd. It worked out perfect for everyone.”

What was the fashion story direction?
The Fall Fashion Story brief was based around a mood board of the clothes that style director Linda Immediato pulled for this shoot. We were able to find a perfect Mid Century Modern location on Peerspace.com

How many looks did you shoot?
We needed (12) shots ended up shooting (13), the model needed to be ready at 12:00 PM that would give us (2) shots per hour.

With such a tight schedule we shot non tethered on a Leica SL with a 24-90mm & 90-280mm  lenses  1/30-1/500 f/2.8 ISO 200 with daylight except for the first and last shots we had a Mole Richardson Senior LED Daylite Fresnel for fill.

What are the benefits on shooting tethered, what are the cons?
The benefits to shooting directly to card are speed. We needed to be in and out quickly from the location so we did a few tethered tests to confirm the exposure / shadows / model placement in the frame. Steven Banks and I felt like we had it; we unhooked the cable and shot three outfit changes

The Daily Edit – The Sunday Times Magazine (London) : Joe Pugliese

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The Sunday Times Magazine (London)

Picture Editor: Russ O’Connell
Photographer: Joe Pugliese

Heidi: Do you shoot and talk more often than not?
As I get further into my career my process has become more relaxed and personal. I like to connect with the subject through conversation before we start shooting, regardless of time constraints. I also like to read the mood and make sure I’m not pushing for something that the subject might not be feeling. It’s incremental, I start with safe and low impact setups and move into the looks that require more participation from the subject once I feel like we’re in a groove.

What did you talk about on set?
Since I knew that the piece was going to focus on his residency in LA as a jazz pianist, I asked him about what kind of music he likes to listen to (in general and during photo shoots) – of course he had a great suggestion and it was played on repeat, at his request. Then he and I had an amusing conversation about my name in which he proceeded to pronounce it with varying intonations as I photographed him. It was funny but not goofy, and he offered a lot of different gestures and expressions as he did that. I felt it was a way into him feeling comfortable enough to be slightly but not overly performative.

What was it about your name that amused him?
I think he enjoyed riffing on the idea of it being pronounced so many different ways. He slipped into that suave persona of his and almost sang the name over and over. I didn’t direct him much as he did this, I could tell it may have been a method for him to loosen up and get into giving me such expressive moments (especially with his hands)

I would imagine each session teaches you something different, what did you learn or take note of on this one.
I learn something about myself each time, each shoot is like a sign post marking a moment of my career- so I pay attention to things like how anxious or relaxed I am going into the shoot, how my expectations match the client’s, as well as the subjects’ expectations, and how I manage to satisfy all of those demands with the imagery. For some reason I was extremely comfortable with this shoot, despite it being a new client and a subject I had never met. I trusted that the magazine wanted me to have creative freedom and I thought that Jeff would play along, which he did. My takeaway was that despite my comfort level being perhaps higher than normal, I still had to approach the shoot with empathy and respect for the subject- because I just didn’t know if he would be willing to participate on the day. The plan is always to read the subject’s mood and react accordingly. It’s the only way to truly record what the sitter is giving the photographer.

When you say you read a person what is your shortlist of lets say three to five cues.
First and foremost, a willingness to be present and collaborative. This can be read as, are they rushed? Do they not feel the need to introduce themselves or be introduced? Are they not interested in conversation? If so, it’s not really a problem, it’s my job to react to that in a positive way and lean into being a director, making it easy for the person to understand what it is I’m looking to achieve. I first really learned this when I photographed Steve Jobs. I tried to have a very brief conversation and he just looked right in my eyes and said, “What would you like me to do?” I showed him the three looks I had set up and walked him from position to position. He did everything I asked and was on his way in a few minutes, and I was able to record his intensity in the images because of how he presented himself to me.

When I do get the feeling that someone is nervous, excited, or both, I try to describe to them what I’d like to accomplish on the shoot so they don’t feel like I’m surprising or tricking them. Trust is everything and there are some quick ways to show a subject that you can be trusted that really help the dynamic.

How did you prepare for this assignment?
For this shoot, being that Mr. Goldblum has enjoyed a long and storied career, I specifically did not do any image research on him. I generally don’t do any research on subjects that I already have an idea how they look, mostly to avoid being trapped in a visual reference created by someone else. Since my background is in photojournalism, I want to bring that reactive and responsive approach to portraiture. It helps me to be more open to understanding the personality of the subject if I haven’t seen too much imagery of them already.

Are you switching cameras and /shooting film and digital?
I shoot with medium format digital cameras for the studio looks, which are slower and more deliberate than my 35mm cameras. If the pace of the shoot outmatches the medium format, I always have a 35mm camera ready to go for some of the reportage-style images I like to get. The smaller format is also a nice way to change up the energy if things are feeling static. It’s nice to burn through a bunch of frames with 35mm and then go back to the more thoughtful pace of the big portrait camera.

The Daily Edit – Mother Jones: Zach Gross

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Mother Jones

Creative Director: Carolyn Perot
Art Director: Adam Vieyra
Photo Editor: Mark Murrmann
Photographer:
Zach Gross

Did the magazine ask you for this treatment or did you put it forward as an idea?
I’ve been wanting to shoot more double exposures editorially and Mark suggested that could be a good way to go for these and he was supportive of me exploring that direction.

Is the overlay directly related to each person in the portrait?
Yes I used bills and paperwork as well as a photograph that the last subject took of the boarder wall between Mexico and the USA, she represented unocompanied minors in immigration cases in her previous job. Also she had napkin art she saved with beautiful messages from kids and families thanking her for helping them…I asked her to read them and she translated from Spanish, the messages were so beautiful and heart warming, there are hints of a message from one of the letters between the slats in the wall.

Where did that overlay content come from?
I talked to each subject on the phone before the shoots so I could hear their stories and experiences to get a clearer impression of how I would photographing them and to find out what the overlays might be. I asked them to send me some paper work and bills and I printed them out on plastic transparencies. I also asked them to set aside any other objects they have that was connected to their experiences.

How did you direct the subjects during the portrait sessions?
My approach really depends on the subject. I definitely have preconceived ideas and directions for the types of images that I’m looking for…but the subjects individuality play heavily on the final images. The way I shoot is a collaboration. I want to get to a place where they feel comfortable…and I want them to participate.

The Daily Edit – Santa Barbara Magazine: Peter Amend

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Santa Barbara Magazine

Creative Consultant: James Timmins
Photographer:
Peter Amend

Heidi: How many days was your road trip?  
Peter:We spent about three days together on the road – which gave us time to enjoy the trip and not feel rushed or stressed out when the weather or light wasn’t right. Also – because we had plenty of time, it felt more like a ‘trip’ than a ‘shoot’, which always translates to a more authentic story and experience. Eryns boyfriend Michael accompanied too – bringing some good vibes to the mix as well.

Did you have a shot list or was the shoot more organic? 
I try to avoid having a shot list, whenever possible. We certainly had a moodboard of themes and styles we were hoping for – but there were few ‘shots’ that had been pre produced. I like to think that my production style involves 50% preparation, and 50% magic. I don’t like to be so pigeonholed into a location or ‘shot list’, that you lose the ability to float on the freedom of inspiration.

Did you also drive in a vintage rig?
Firstly, the vans from Dustie Wagens are sweet – you can have your own Volkswagen experience by renting them locally in SB, without having to own and maintain one.  But my ‘home base’ on the road consists of a 2011 Toyota Tacoma, with a camper shell & rooftop tent. Because most of my work revolves around remote locations, it’s really important to me to have a reliable rig for transportation, gear storage, and sleeping quarters. I’ll always have a soft spot for vintage vans – my first two vehicles were VW’s – but as any owner knows, you’re gonna need a tow truck company on speed dial. And that’s not an idea I can comfortably rely on – especially when a job is on the line.  Thankfully, we had it available to yank the van once it stalled out and starter died on a three-point turn on a windy road.

How many hours per day did you spend with Eryn? 
Aside from sleeping, we were together the entire trip! It’s really important for me to work with subjects that are not only talented and photogenic – but also genuinely enjoyable humans. Much of what I love to photograph revolves around human interactions with nature – and it’s important for me to have a relational connection based on trust and friendship.

Did you and she discuss the plans for the day and they figure out the key shots? 
We had a rough idea of what the day looked like as far as locations, and potential shots – although some of my favorite images were when we pulled over on a side road after seeing a poppy-covered hillside, perfectly matching the color of the VW. These kind of things can’t be planned – so that flexibility is important.

Did you have shots figured out in your mind before you started? 
One of my favorites was Eryn carving on her skateboard in front of the VW van that turned out just like we had hoped. There were a few images I had in mind that didn’t make the spread – a portrait of Eryn on her longboard in front of a gloomy gray Santa Barbara fog bank, and another of Michael throwing up a ‘shaka’ from underwater. Sometimes you imagine a photo and it turns out just like you saw it in your imagination – those moments are what gives you a lot of satisfaction as a photographer – aligning the technical ability with the imaginative forecast and creative preparation.

Did you have an assistant or was it just you?
I find that having an assistant is a huge distraction – so nope, it was just me. As much as I’d love to have assistance with lighting scenarios, gear loadouts, or even someone to drive when I’m exhausted – I feel like having a small footprint translates well to the experience I try to provide the client.

The Daily Edit: Interview with Frank Ockenfels Part Two

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Heidi: Have you ever been hired for strictly illustration?
Frank: No. I’ve been hired to journal and collage, but I’ve never been hired to draw or  illustrate something.

If you were offered an illustration project would you take it?
I don’t know. That’s a good question. I think I’d become Beckett at that point. I’d be Beckett and go like, “Eh, no, that’s not me.” Which is what he says.

Since I’m not a skilled illustrator, I’d probably overthink it. But at the same point I might actually embrace it and dive into it and see what’s there. My ability to shoot faces and form is pretty much “this is what it is.” I follow a lot of illustrators that I think are amazing, and I’m a huge Ralph Steadman fan.

Do you find collage or design easier?
Years ago, Drew Hodges, who used to have a company that did all of the Broadway advertising  hired me for the Diary of Anne Frank. He wanted the advertising to be a visual diary using pictures of Natalie Portman as Anne Frank. I laughed because at the time I was a 40-year-old man and he wanted me to design a page like a young teenage girl. My handwriting isn’t the same. There’s nothing even close, though I can put the pictures together.

We agreed on doing two rounds and at the end of two rounds if they didn’t get it then that’s the time for me to walk away. We went through two rounds and sure enough they kept on… the powers that be were all freaked out, didn’t know what to do with it. They ended up using it just in a different context.

I’d done a couple of journal pieces for magazines but I started putting a disclaimer saying, “If you ask me to do this and you want to use the piece you have to use it as a whole, you can’t crop it. You can’t cherry pick out of what I’ve done because, to me, when I do every single edge of the page it’s connected by what’s happening on the page. If you don’t have the whole thing it doesn’t make any sense

How did you establish your own voice while assisting?
I look at the people that I worked for, and consciously didn’t work for portrait photographers for that very reason. I worked for interior photographers.

When Beckett talks to you, do you feel like he’s asking you questions as his dad or he’s asking a photographer?
That’s a good question. I don’t know. He so rarely wants to talk about photography.

How do you answer them? That’s probably the better question. Do you answer like a dad or do you answer like a photographer?
I answer as a photographer. I’ve taught enough that when people ask me questions and I realize what they’re asking me I make sure that I’m answering them honestly.

And how much of yourself do you see in him as far as being an artist?
Well, I think it’s funny, at 18, which is where he is right now, he is definitely very similar who I was at 18

Who were you at 18?
I knew I could take pictures, I liked taking pictures, I wasn’t committed to it, I didn’t do it 24 hours a day.

I grew up in a household where we’d do summerstock every summer with my mom because it was all about theatre and I’d take pictures. That made sense to me. It was my one thing but didn’t ever see it as an actual thing I could do professionally. I didn’t understand that. So Beckett is surrounded by a mother being a painter and father being a photographer. He’s surrounded by that. He see’s it can be a profession, it’s a lifestyle one can have. They have a nice home. They’re able to feed us. We live a good life, considering. I see him being kind of a  bit irreverent to the process and not really a 100% committed, and a little scattered.

When did it become more focused for you?
I would say it happened when I was in my– I think in my end of my second year in college when we started taking studio classes. I started going in to make sure I could do the studio stuff.

The work on your site now is varied, is that a good approach?
My website is an example of both a good and a bad thing.

I often get notes from industry people and enthusiasts, “I just spent hours looking at your website. It was just so enjoyable.” It’s so all over the place that if someone in advertising is going to hire me, it’s a tremendously hard sell because somebody’s who is not creative and who’s not visual, looks at a site like this and says, “I don’t know what they do. They’re all over the place. What is their style? What are we going to get if we hire this person?”

Isn’t the work Carol curates for you on EyeForward much more of a narrowed edit?
Probably so but not because people like everything. If you look at my website, I give people options of what they want to look at and I try to gear that towards let’s dumb this down. But at the same point, I think it’s interesting to see who you have to go talk to about getting a job nowadays and I think it even goes to the point of photography.

Tell us how things have changed.
You look at photography now, and most photographers, which I kind of make a joke about. Jeff Dunas does this photographers breakfast once a year and it’s  about 25 of us. We get together and sit around this table having breakfast at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club and discuss life. We discuss what happened in the last year and we’ll tell stories to each other.  Everyone from Douglas Kirkland to Gerhard Ludwig attends, it’s a wide variety of photographers, Claxton and Marshall and Herman Leonard.

We sit around and talk as if we are all on the same page and one of the younger guys was talking about something and an older photographers looked at him and said, “Have you ever shot chrome?” and the kid looked at him, ” I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He goes, “Like chrome. Like fly zone.” He goes, “Oh, well no. I haven’t.” He says, “Try it. Go do that one time. Go see what it’s like “THAT will teach you how to be a photographer.”

Shooting chrome film makes you really have to focus while digital has made it so much easier to fix mistakes so quickly. You see immediately that you don’t have the right exposure. You see what’s working and what’s not working. Where when I was a kid I had to shoot chrome. We’d shoot a polaroid and if something changed in the middle of it all, well it is what it is, and you had to be within a half stop of a decent exposure or the whole thing would go south and you’d be overexposed, or the color temperature was wrong, or the light was going off too much, or a good blend of shadow wasn’t there. It’s very similar in the sense of the people you might work for nowadays. Their education might not be in the creative industry. There’s more of a business aspect of it.

Switching gears a bit, did you know that David Bowie wasn’t well?
No. No, I didn’t.

I worked with him kind of on and off over the years. We did 16 shoots with David over a nine-year period. And toward the end that time he said, “We must have done enough for a book.” I laughed and I said, “Well, I don’t know.” that’s when I put stuff together to show him.

He and I sat and looked at it once and then I didn’t see him for a bit. Later he had that episode which happened in Europe where he was sick — then from there, it got quiet. He said to me when I saw him last he wanted to do, we needed to do one more shoot.

I was going back and forth from New York and I really wanted David to sit down with me and discuss each shoot because that, to me, would be an interesting book. Why’d you pick this kid, me, to go to? To constantly call and say, “Hey, I need pictures for this and pictures for that.” He could’ve asked anybody. But he asked me and it’s always been so baffling. I never was able to ask him that question “What did you see? You’re David Bowie. You could’ve asked anybody in to basically take your money and take pictures.” In my understanding of our collaborations, I think he asked me because I never wasted his time. I always tried to do something different each time and he appreciated that.

I’m sure he probably just didn’t want anybody to see him that way. When you found out that he had passed away, how did you feel?
Well, it was weird because it was in the middle of the night in Los Angeles when they announced it. And my phone started beeping which was in the other room and it wouldn’t just stop beeping. What’s going on?” It was all these people calling me, asking me, “Did you know David died?” Then people asking for pictures of David, obviously. And I was just kind of stunned and I kind of got back into bed. And I kind of woke up Diane and I said, “David’s dead.” David died.

I laid there very quietly thinking about it. And I’m not being surprised. I don’t know why I wasn’t surprised and then oddly enough, two weeks later, I’m in London and there was 10 times more news than in the United States. It was all over the press. It was on every magazine cover magazine, every newspaper every day was– the conversation about David all over the television.

There’s an amazing exhibition, ‘David Bowie Is’, that’s been roaming around,  prior to his death even. It’ll be interesting to see how I feel walking through it now, you know?

The Daily Edit – Interview with Frank Ockenfels Part One

- - The Daily Edit

Photographs  by Beckett Ockenfels

 

Frank Ockenfels

We talk with Frank Ockenfels about fatherhood, photography, and raising boys one of whom is a budding photographer.

Heidi: Why do you think your older son Beckett is a good photographer?
Frank: Composition and light. He figured it out quickly which is kind of bizarre and he knew what good light was which is kind of funny because I would say that’s the biggest problem with a lot of younger photographers. He sees light really quickly and understands this is a good piece of light, or that over there is an interesting piece of light, even if it’s the most basic. I built the daylight studio upstairs and he immediately saw how beautiful the light was and how simple it was. Almost so much that he wouldn’t take a light out and try to light something differently.

So he just looks for the available light and well, he sees it. Now, will he use it is another question! But when he goes to take pictures for himself he’s always trying something. He’s done simple and when he does simple, he doesn’t think much of it.

A friend of his asked him to do a couple of lookbooks for friends who are young fashion designers. And he dismisses the pictures, but the light is beautiful and simple and exactly what is needed as people want to see the clothes and the fabric. But then on the same hand he’ll turn around and use a LED panel that we have here. It can be set to constantly change colors so he shot images with the it rotating like a party light, moving and flowing through things. Then he was doing slow-motion pictures of his friends blurred and the colors were moving through it. When I was 17 THAT was not my brain.

Has Beckett taken any formal photography classes?
Diane found a photo class for high school kids at SVA. He ended up taking a class from a photographer Clay Patrick McBride I met when I was just a kid.

Clay told me “Go be a photographer, man. Your work is great.” And so, oddly enough, without us knowing it, he ends up in Clay’s studio lighting class.

Anybody who was around me started laughing, “But, he stands around you all the time. Why would he go take a class like this?”  and I thought he should take the class and forget he know’s anything and listen. Listen and do it the way the instructor is telling you and then take it and learn that process. It’s not like telling you do it the for the rest of your life like that.

You’re learning and feeling how they see. But first, execute what they’re asking you to do. He and Clay totally butted heads because Beckett is very straightforward. If he likes something he likes it, if he doesn’t he doesn’t. If he doesn’t like to do a certain style he doesn’t want to do the assignment.

What do you say to encourage him?
My response:  “Well, welcome to the world of photography. You’re always going to get assignments you don’t want to do. But you have to go above and beyond what that is. I think the hardest jobs to do are the ones that everyone thinks you’re amazing at. And the ones that are the easiest sometimes, which people don’t really get praised for, are the ones where you are given something to push.

If the directive is “Shoot this can on this white seamless” I think that’s easy because you know you can do it, but the fun part is how much more are you able to push it?  It’s funny to watch your kid at 17 have just such an incredible eye and not really 100% embrace it.

Nowadays his generation of people do multiple things. You become a photographer, get connections, then become a fashion designer, you can be both. You can be an actor and a fashion designer. Actor, musician. Musician, actor. Everything is overlapped in using the opportunities to get you where you want to go. And using your education along the way to do so.

How much does Beckett talk about you influencing him?
Not at all.
When he wants to do something he’ll say, “Just tell me how you did this.”
And I’ll say, “Okay, and I still need to show you?”
“No. Just tell me.”

And then, he’ll go and try it himself and he’ll find his own answer to whatever that is, which is great. Clay told him, “Don’t be your dad. You’ve got to be yourself.”  Which at 17 or 18 years old can be tough, he’s going to be influenced by me. He’s standing around me, he works for me, he sees how I shoot. Like any assistant would be influenced by the photographer they work for when they go to do those things for themselves. They’re definitely going to have in their brain, “Oh, this is how I just saw it done.” The key is what you do with that knowledge, and where you push yourself to take it.

 

Paintings by Diane Ockenfels

How did you raise two boys?
I didn’t raise the kids, Diane did. She really was always here for them, when they were younger, they would always rely on her more. If something went wrong, they would immediately go to her, not to me, which was tough when I realized it.

At what point did you start worrying about your boys?
I think with the boys, it’s interesting to see them grow up and all of a sudden being worried.

Every parent worries about what the kid’s going to become. You want them to succeed at what they do. With Cooper, my younger one, he started out being the kid who needed more hands-on because he was not very focused. And all of a sudden he hit high school, we don’t worry about him at all. He goes to school at 6 o’clock in the morning and comes home at 9 o’clock every night. And he’s just tremendously active and proactive in the sense he’s A, B student plus he’s involved in the theatre program. He wanted to play bass about a year and a half ago and just started learning online. Essentially he taught himself how to play. Now he’s in the school jazz band and they’re teaching him how to read music.

Where Beckett is the complete polar opposite. He’s a tremendously talented photographer but doesn’t push forward at all — doesn’t have that thing to every single day stand up and go take a picture.

Did you take photos everyday as a teenager?
I probably didn’t have that till I got to New York and probably my third year of college is when I finally hit it where I was like, Oh! This is something you do every day. Every single day, you wake up and you have to take pictures and to basically answer that question that’s in your head. That is the reason why you would become a photographer. Why is it that one person figures it out while another person doesn’t figure it out? There is no rhyme or reason even though there’s a passion in photography on both ends equally. At my workshops people are looking for me to for the answer, I wish I had the golden ticket. “Look at my book and tell me why I can’t get a job.” I tell them,

“Don’t look at me. I can tell you what I think and what I see in your work and what I don’t see in your work and how you’re presenting it to me, but I’m not the one hiring.”

 

to be continued next week…

 

 

The Daily Edit – The Atlantic: Maciek Jasik

- - The Daily Edit

 

The Atlantic


Creative Director:
David Sommerville
Art Director: Paul Spella
Photographer: Maciek Jasik


Heidi: What type of direction did you get from the magazine?

Maciek: The Atlantic wanted an abstract artistic way to show gender dysphoria in youth. So the soft, colorful approach of my ‘A Thousand Souls’ project appealed to them, as well as my ‘Bypassing the Rational’ series of nudes, which I shoot in a way that’s very obscured and indistinct. They also inquired about a double exposure element that could show both genders in the frame, which I was able to do in-camera with two trans youth.

How did you decide casting or are those people mentioned in the story?
I took care of casting by contacting several trans organizations in NYC and other cities. Word got out to the trans community and several people got in touch. I actually shot many people for the shoot, but only a few made it into the final story. I would receive photos, forward them to the magazine, confirm mutual interest and invite them to the studio. None of them were mentioned in the actual story.
Was this done in camera or post?
All the effects you see were performed in-camera. They’re all very lo-fi techniques that I’ve developed over time. I don’t like to get too involved in that conversation, but I will say it involves placing different elements in front of the camera to alter the focus or add color to the image.
Why did you choose those particular colors?
I tend to combine warm and cool colors in all my images to maintain a balance visually. I never plan on any specific colors until I am there, shooting with the person. So it’s generally an intuitive process informed by many years of combining colors and generally knowing what works and what doesn’t.
What direction did you give the subjects during the shoot?
If I don’t need to say anything, I won’t, as it’s often better to just see what the subject will do without having to interfere. For the full-body shot, the magazine had suggested the subject looking down or away and I thought that was a good idea, to make the image less deliberate. Two pairs of people came together, so that made shooting easier, as they were comfortable with each other and we would all chat during the shoot.

The Daily Edit – Bicycling: Ryan Young

- - The Daily Edit


Bicycling

Creative Director: Jesse Southerland
Art Director: Colin McSherry
Photo Director: Amy Wolff
Photo Editor: Kristen Parker
Photographer: Ryan Young

Heidi: What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Ryan: Kristen Parker, photo editor of Bicycling Magazine and Runner’s World, reached out to me about an assignment in Petaluma, CA focused on Alison Tetrick. The direction for this  was fairly loose. I was told that this story would be a full feature and potentially a cover. She referenced a few personal projects on my site and said she wanted me to shoot in a documentary style focusing on portraits, real moments, landscapes, and any other details that I was drawn to. She was very clear that she didn’t want anything set up and or overly lit. Runner’s World and Bicycling Magazine have recently undergone a pretty dramatic change in their visual direction they’re looking for authenticity and are embracing real athletes, grit, and sweat. After the call with Kristen, I came away feeling very excited. There was no shot list or anything specific to execute. It was truly a dream opportunity.

Did you have a full draft of the article prior to shooting?
Fortunately, I was sent quite a bit of information on Alison prior to the shoot. Kristen sent me a rough draft of the story they had written which covered everything from her introduction into cycling to her comeback after a pair of horrible head injuries. Researching and learning about a subject before a shoot is just as important as charging camera batteries. When shooting an athlete I like to have a full understanding of where they’re at in their careers and life in general. Are they injured? Are they training? What’re they working towards?

Were you aware of her Dirty Kanza gravel win that put her on the map in this sport?
Honestly, I wasn’t aware prior to reading the rough draft and doing further research an Alison. I like to ride occasionally, but I’m a bit of a noob when it comes to the world of cycling. I loved that part of her story though!

Tell us about the spread image.
Given everything Alison had been through mentally and physically with the bike crashes and the traumatic brain injuries, I wanted to create images that expressed uncertainty and isolation. I wanted to play with focus and obscure a few portraits at some point in the shoot. As we were leaving her house she leaned up against a wall on her back porch and had a quiet moment to herself. I asked her to hang tight in the same pose so I could take a few photos through a screen door. I was excited to receive the final image order and have that as one of the selects. It felt very appropriate for the story.

Did you plan out that cover shot or was that pulled from the edit?
The cover shot was pulled from the edit. On our call, Kristen specified: “Don’t shoot for the cover.” I typically like to shoot as many options as possible within the given timeframe. For this assignment, I was blessed with 6 hours with Alison. I shot everything from wide environmental to tighter portraits and had more than enough to work with by the end of the day. Once I had a few options I felt could work for a cover, I began experimenting more with focus and shutter speed. It was very liberating to go out and react to a new subject and location without having to obsess over a specific execution. That’s pretty rare, especially for a cover shoot.

How did the shoot day unfold?
This shoot was a true collaboration between Alison and I. Prior to the ride, we had a phone call and went over different routes, aiming for what we felt would give us the most visual range. Alison suggested a route that offered us rolling hills, tall redwoods, and a vantage point overlooking the ocean a trifecta for the location scout. As expected, she was quite the trooper and ended up spending 6 hours working with my assistant and me.

How did this project inspire you?
I’ve been skateboarding since I was in middle school. I’ve suffered a string of injuries ranging from head to toe. Earlier this year, I underwent shoulder surgery. It’s as much of a mental battle as it is a physical one to push yourself after getting hurt. For me, having a chance to work on a comeback story involving an athlete was a dream assignment. I’m constantly searching for stories like Alison’s to pitch to magazines, so being approached by Kristen and the folks at Bicycling Magazine was beyond exciting. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her ups and downs as she battled her way back onto the bike and life in general.

 

 

 

 

The Daily Edit – ESPN the Magazine: The Body Issue with Karen Frank

- - The Daily Edit

Saquon Barkley photographed by Sophy Holland

Breanna Stewart  photographed by Marcus Eriksson

Lauren Chamberlain  photographed by Hana Asano

Adam Rippon photographed by Mark Seliger

Jerry Rice  photographed by Carlos Serrao

Crystal Dunn  photographed by Marcus Smith

Zlatan Ibrahimovic  photographed by Peter Hapak

Yasiel Puig  photographed by Peggy Sirota

Karl Anthony Towns  photographed by Martin Schoeller

Sue Bird + Megan Rapinoe photographed by Radka Leitmeritz

ESPN The Magazine: The Body Issue

Creative Director: Chin Wang
Director of Photography, Print + Digital: Tim Rasmussen
Director of Photography, ESPN The Magazine: Karen Frank
Deputy Photo Editors: Kristen Geisler, Jim Surber
Senior Photo Editors: Nick Galac
Photo Editor: Kaitlin Marron
Associate Art Director: Linda Pouder

Heidi: This is a moment the industry looks forward too, how long does this issue take to plan?
Karen: The Body Issue is almost a year-round project. Discussions about athletes begin happening almost immediately after the issue closes in June.  However, assigning and shooting typically start in January, so you could say it’s about six months of serious production.

Was it a conscious choice to have 5 men / 5 women for the cover?
Since the beginning we’ve had multiple covers for the issue.  In past years, we’ve had as many as 9 covers and we joked at the beginning of the year that we’d do 10 for 10.  We actually never have a set number of covers for the issue, so we approach every shoot as if it could be a cover.  At the end of shooting, we take a look at what we have and propose any images we feel strongly about as potential covers.  The fact that it came down to an almost even number of men and women (6 men, 5 women) was a really nice coincidence.

Seeing that it’s the 10th year of your annual body issue, what did you learn about the process this year?
This is the 10th year, and we wanted to mark the milestone in a special way.  Several weeks before the issue went live, we released our newly designed Body Issue Archive, a comprehensive collection of every shoot we’ve done since 2009.  For that project, we spent time going back through all the shoots, searching for images we may have overlooked in our initial edits.  Many new, never-before-seen-images are included.  The site has a fantastic search engine; you can search by year, by sport, by name, and see everything here

We also launched a premium digital Body 2018 experience Going back through all the years of Body was a great exercise.  I could see how the photography had evolved from the beginning, where the shoots were much more static and carefully posed, to the place where we are now creating very active and dynamic images

How did you decide what image was environmental and what was studio?
Once we know which athletes have signed on to shoot Body, we do a lot of research about who they are and their particular sport and we begin to imagine how and where we’d like to photograph them.  When we have the photographer assigned to the shoot, we present them with the information we’ve gathered and get their feedback and their ideas about how they’d like to approach the shoot.  For a lot of the shoots, we are able to shoot options that are both studio AND environmental.  That was true this year with our shoots of Jessie Diggins, Jerry Rice, Lauren Chamberlain, and Megan Rapinoe + Sue Bird.

How many different photographers were involved in this issue for the series?
We had just come off a year (2017 issue) where we had, for the first time, made a conscious decision to hire a different photographer for every shoot.  Many of those photographers were new to the Body issue.  In past years, we’d assigned a wide roster of photographers, but several photographers would shoot 2, or sometimes 3 athletes per issue.  We loved the energy that hiring new photographers who had different and diverse approaches to shooting Body brought to the portfolio.  We wanted to continue that for our 2018 issue but also, knowing that this was an anniversary issue, we wanted to include some of the photographers who had created so many iconic images for the issue over the years.  We ended up with a roster of 6 photographers new to the project: Hana Asano, Kurt Iswarienko, Nick Laham, Radka Leitmeritz, Dina Litovsky, and Dana Scruggs; and 9 photographers who had previously shot for Body: Kwaku Alston, Marcus Eriksson, Peter Hapak, Sophy Holland, Martin Schoeller, Mark Seliger, Carlos Serrao, Peggy Sirota, and Marcus Smith.

The Daily Edit – Runner’s World: Jake Stangel

- - The Daily Edit

Runner’s World

Creative Director: Jesse Southerland
Photography Director: Amy Wolff
Photographer: Jake Stangel

When the direction is “do your thing” how do you approach/prepare for the shoot?
I’ve found my best approach to be a good night’s sleep so I can come in to the shoot with sharp mental/visual acuity, and to have some rough shot concepts/sketches in my back pocket, in case things are situationally different from that I’ve planned on. I’ve attempted to come into past shoots with a specific “plan” and exact images I want to achieve, but it ended up locking me in to a set plan and hindering the types of chance encounters I like to seek. Portraiture/sport work is also so very much about the subject and the rapport we quickly build on the shoot day, which is a beautiful unknown that I’ve learned to embrace and lean on. The best way to prepare is to keep my eyes open and observant, my attention on the subject and her environment—as opposed to my camera’s LCD—and to always have my focus and exposures dialed for every minute of the shoot, so I don’t ever miss a potential shot.

Since there was a new creative direction to the magazine what were you trying to bring that was different?
You know, if anything, it was just to stick to my guns more, make work that felt like personal work. I’d done work for RW before, including a cover, but the shoots were pretty art directed and it was one of those situations where I made images that didn’t really feel like they were mine, even as I was shooting them… I was more executing a concept. Which happens sometimes, and you just gotta move with that river as opposed to causing a ruckus and fighting the current too much. So I wasn’t necessarily trying to make “different” images for this RW cover (even though CD, Jesse Southerland told me to “not shoot for a cover”), but make work that felt intensely personal and really conveyed the story of this amazing woman, Amelia Boone, who has been through a phenomenal level of physical and emotional struggle and growth.

As an active person can you tell when you’ve pushed a subject too far for do overs? What are the cues you look for?
Mostly it’s a check-in with the athlete beforehand, and having really open communication of where she/he will be at on the shoot day. Are they injured? Are they tapering (reducing your training mileage before a major event, like an ultra)? Are they on a rest day? What does their coach say? I literally will have conversations about the mileage they can run on the shoot day, or duration of time. These athletes are often at the pinnacle of their career, and the last thing I want to do is jeopardize that in any way because of a photo shoot. I think it also helps convey to them that I’m serious about their well-being and understand their needs, and in setting clear goals and limits, it drops any apprehension they may have about being asked to physically do more than they can or should on the shoot day.

Was this all shot with natural light, if so why?
All natural light. There was no need to use lights that day. I think sometimes people forget that’s an option. Photo has gotten to be such a gear contest sometimes, and I think people whip out strobes automatically now, because that’s “what you do” on a “photoshoot”. There’s a time and a place for lights, but I was really happy with the atmospherics we had that day. Even though I had strobes in the trunk of my car, there was no need to use them, or even use a reflector. I’m puzzled by the compulsive need to use reflector to falsely open shadows. I’m not a religious person, but I believe in the power of mother nature and the atmospherics she brings out into the world, so I generally love to work with whatever she’s got planned for the day, whether it’s bright golden sun or some mystical fog or pouring rain. I love the range of natural light we see in our life, that’s my inspiration for my own lighting.

The Daily Edit – 7 Hues Beauty: Anthony Rhoades

- - The Daily Edit

7 Hues Beauty

Model: Katherine Schule
Makeup: Becky Rothmaler
Hair: Damian Monzillo
Creative Director: William Mydell
Photographer: Anthony Rhoades

Heidi: Did you pitch them work or was this assigned?
Anthony: I submitted the story as a completed project. When testing, I like to conceptualize a bit beforehand with the team, pitch the idea with a mood board to the modeling agencies and go after publication later in the game—the more eyes on a project the better. I try to create new work as often as possible and editorials allow for more creative control and show my artistic range.

How did the collaboration come about with you and the hair and make up team?
Becky Rothmaler, the makeup artist, had written a kind note to me about my work and inquired about the possibility of collaborating on a project. This happens to me a lot, and generally I take people up on it. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a variety of talented people. One of the best parts about being in New York City is coming across so many creatives who are all trying really hard to be their best artist selves.

How often do you test, are the projects focused to specific clients?
I’m always testing and open to new ideas and people. Whenever I’m looking to shoot something, it’s either to produce new work focused on a specific client, fill a hole in my portfolio or push the boundaries a bit. Clean beauty is great, but it can be boring. For me, creating imagery that is aspirational to potential clients is key versus trying to produce work that is exactly what they already do; fit the clients’ needs with my signature on it, without straying too much outside of what fits their demographic target or brand.

How has your use of social media expanded your business? 
I’ve stopped with the mass emails. I’ll still send updates occasionally to a select few, but for the most part I’ve ceased the database email blasts. Because, I have heard from several entities that not only many of those emails don’t get opened but they are also an intrusion and often distracting. Their emails are for work and getting what’s often considered photographers’ spam keeps art buyers and producers from doing their jobs. It’s a tough balance of trying to get your work seen, kept, bookmarked and not put in the junk folder.

I don’t maintain a business page on Facebook but I do have a lot of connections to people relevant to my work on my personal profile. My main inspiration and collaboration comes from Instagram and Linkedin. It just sort of happened with Instagram, I didn’t pursue it as a way to grow my business, and in many ways I still don’t, but I’m constantly inspired. It’s also a great way to keep up with the work of those you admire and to find new artists. Similarly, I’ve made many connections on LinkedIn though I don’t know how helpful it is, I’m working on putting more times into that platform.

For this shoot Damian Monzillo and I initially started chatting on Instagram about working on a project awhile back.  Prior to this shoot, he wrote to me about some of my hair advertising work. I mentioned last-minute that I was shooting the next day and asked if he’d like to join us. Becky, the makeup artist, and I were going to do a macro story but the addition of a hair artist opened things up and let the bird of paradise theme shine.

When developing mood boards for your own projects, are the images sourced from your own archive?
Generally no—I do a lot of research, look at artists, photographers and nature for inspiration and then draw upon the team and their vision as well. When I’m working on a personal project or editorial I’m mostly trying to convey an idea that I haven’t expressed yet or seen through this specific lens in other people’s work. For this particular shoot, I made my usual mood board, showed it to the hair and makeup team and started shopping it around to my go-to modeling agencies to see about who might be interested in our concept. Luckily the package from Q Models contained Katherine Schule, who has great features for beauty and is really a consummate pro.

The Daily Edit – Saveur: Andrew Hetherington

- - The Daily Edit

Saveur


Group Creative Director: Sean Johnston
Creative Director: Pete Sucheski
Photography Director: Thomas Payne
Associate Art Director: Russ Smith
Photographer: Andrew Hetherington

Heidi: What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Andrew: Thomas Payne, Photo Director of Saveur, sent me an email wondering if I would be interested in shooting the Peeko Oyster farm out on Long Island. To be honest, he had me at oysters, but we had a follow-up phone call where we dove deeper into the nitty gritty of what was involved on a practical level and discussed his vision. He also sent me a mood board referencing food photos of mine that he liked, a shot list and info on the story itself. Peter Stein, the oyster farmer, is relatively new to the business and that was an important angle to incorporate into the visual narrative. The theme was “growing” and the story is about what it takes to grow, scale and establish an oyster farm.

How much research do you do for shoots?
I like to get as much information up front as possible. This helps with my own research on the subject and the logistical and production needs to make it a successful shoot from my perspective. It is also really important to talk to the subject in advance on a shoot like this, after all they have more knowledge about the practicalities than anyone else so I arranged a phone call with Peter after an introductory email. Peter also sent me some photographs and video he had which was incredibly helpful.

I would not consider you a “food” photographer per se?
Ha, well I am a photographer who loves to eat and loves to cook so I think that qualifies me somehow. Food is featured on my website in it’s own gallery and in specific projects and commissions for clients like Bon Appetit, Men’s Health and Travel + Leisure. I also really enjoy photographing chefs and have been fortunate to shoot some heroes; Anthony Bourdain, David Chang, April Bloomfield, Sean Brock, Jean Georges, Wylie Dufresne.

You can’t visually tell a story like this – oyster farming – with a beautiful singular still life. It’s about the people who grow them, where they grow them, how they grow them, etc. It’s less about being a “food photographer” and more about the ability to tell a story. I try to tell that story in my own way; as candidly, authentically, imperfectly and humanly as possible.

Weather is key for a shoot like this, did you have a set of rolling dates on hold?
It was important to the magazine that the photos look “summery” as the story was running in their June issue. But we actually shot this, out on the North Fork, at the end of February.

After speaking with Peter, it turned out that the most important weather factor would be the wind and not sunshine or temperature. If conditions were not calm, we would not be able to take to the water on his oyster barge so we put several back to back dates on hold. Peter made the final call 48 hours before the shoot and irony of ironies we also had “summery” sun all day. As it was February, we were dealing with a short amount of daylight. Even though we had sun all day the bonus was it was low in the sky which only enhanced the quality of the light as it bounced back off water. We all really thought we were in for an early spring as it was so idyllic. Little did we realize at the time there would be still two more months of hard winter ahead.

Was this shot all in one day?
Yes, we drove out and back from NYC in one day. I had mapped out the day with Peter – I went through my shot list with him and we decided on what would make most sense and be most efficient in terms of what do to when. Besides weather, there were a lot of factors to take into consideration. After all we were going to spend part of the shoot on open water photographing on and off La Perla, his boat used to harvest the oysters. We decided that we would do these shots at the end of the day to make the most of the late day light as it was not going to be possible to be on the water for sunrise.

The other thing that was really key was to be able to shoot from another boat. I learned this the hard way from previous experience. It seems obvious but it’s incredibly limiting if you are stuck on the one boat. If you don’t have the second boat you can’t shoot the primary vessel in open water. This was one of my first requests for Peter when we spoke initially and he was able to organize and coordinate it. It really was a massive assist both creatively and logistically.

How did the day unfold? Was it just like hanging out and you just happened to be taking photos?
Apart from scheduling what to do and when we really sort of hung out for the day. Peter and his crew were great to work with and were super accommodating. Thomas was there too and the writer Jamie. For me, the best thing is to let people do what they do and to document it as I see it. I like it to be as real and natural as possible but obviously I stop people, direct a little, compose and finesse the scene for my frame. It’s all based on observation and if it starts to feel too posed I like to shake it out and have them start over.

I love your portrait of the oyster. Tell me about the making of this image.
It was the last shot at the very end of the day. We did it on the boat. Peter supplied the vintage plate, too, which really helped. It wasn’t something that I over thought. It was just one of those shots that happened. It helped doing it last, not just for the evening light but at that stage I was in a groove and the photos were coming easily. It really was a fun day. Of course then we got to eat the delicious oysters before driving back to the city.

The Daily Edit – Runner’s World: Mark Davis

- - The Daily Edit


Runner’s World


Creative Director: 
Jesse Southerland
Director of Photography:
Amy Wolff
Photographer:
Mark Davis

Heidi: How did this story come about?
Mark: When I was a sophomore at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, I was in a photojournalism class taught by Whitney Johnson—who at the time was the Director of Photography at The New Yorker. For that class, we had to come up with half semester long documentary projects. I had no idea what story I wanted to pursue or how exactly to go about finding one. I was a competitive runner in high school in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, and one evening while trying to do research for a story for my class I was browsing a running website I used to look at during my high school days. I saw an article about a young Kenyan runner who was on scholarship running at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey. I was blown away by the times that he was churning out, so I decided to try to do a photo essay on him. With the encouragement of my professor, I went to one of his cross country races in the Fall of 2012 and approached Cheserek and his coach to see if they would be up for having me around. They both said it would be fine and that I could tag along to the races. Quickly after starting the project, I knew that this story wasn’t going to end anytime soon.

Did you pitch this to the magazine?
A good friend and a fellow photographer, Jonah Rosenberg, connected me with the Director of Photography at Runner’s World, Amy Wolff, who immediately expressed interest in publishing the work.

Why did you choose to shoot this in BW?
If you have ever been to running or sporting events, you know that there are so many colors involved. As I started to shoot this project, it became clear to me that there were frames that just wouldn’t work in color. Neon can be visually overwhelming and really distract the viewer from the subject in the frame. Shooting in black and white gave me the freedom to focus more on form and shapes and not worry about a neon jacket or jersey completely ruining an image.

Who funded this project?
This project was self funded. I had the feeling that Cheserek might become one of the great distance runners of our time and so I felt compelled to make it to as many races as I could over the past six years to see where Cheserek’s career went. I was thinking of other great athlete’s like Muhammed Ali and Steve Prefontaine, and the visual history of their careers. I felt that I was witnessing the rise of another sports icon.

The Daily Edit – Popular Science: Stephen Mallon

- - The Daily Edit

Popular Science

Photo Director: Thomas Payne
Writer: Rob Verger
Photographer: Stephen Mallon

Please read Crushed to Glory here

Heidi: Where did your affinity for shooting big industrial spaces come from?
Stephen: My interest in the  human footprint in the landscape started when I was a teenager.  I was shooting construction sites and runways as early is my junior year in highschool.  Note to self, don’t sit on the end of the runway just because it’s the best angle.
I began working with the human footprint after a trip to Niger, Africa in 2000  when my editors commented on which images were more marketable for licensing. I started concentrating on shooting landscapes that had more of an identifiable impact on the scene.  I began shooting power lines, antennas, parking lots, construction sites, tree farms, whatever I came across during my travels. Around 2007 I was approached by a book agent that I met during a portfolio review that was interested in making a book of the work.  I felt there wasn’t a cohesive enough body of work yet so we came up with the idea to focus on the recycling industry in the United States.  Ten years later I am still exploring recycling projects and the book is going to be published by Glitterati Editions!

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
I worked closely with Thomas Payne and Rob Verger on the story. Thomas and I met at a portfolio review hosted by ASMPNY and fortunately the next issue  he was working on was this issue on growth and decay which was a great fit for me. We started looking at my existing work and how to expand on it. In the end we didn’t use any of the previous recycling images I had shot which IMHO is a good sign!  Rob (who wrote the story) was also extremely helpful both in the prep and when I was shooting because he was able to keep everyone engaged while I obsessed.

What was the biggest challenge you had shooting in that environment?
Most of the challenges were in the pre-production, getting  the locations lined up. It took a few weeks of phone and emails to get the access granted.  Once we were in the main pressure for me was time. I always want to cover as much ground as possible.

What drew you to one of your first projects Brace for Impact: The Salvage of Flight 1549?
It was a historic moment because it was (and still is, almost ten years later) the only emergency crash in the water where there were zero casualties. Also while we were celebrating my wife’s birthday a guy at the bar asked “I wonder how they are going to get the plane out of the water.”  I realized I knew who might be involved.”  Weeks has the largest rotating crane on the eastern seaboard and it made sense that they could be involved. I called them and they were like, yea, we got the job, want to come down?

Was it toxic in the dumps?
As far as I know I still have ten fingers and  ten toes.

In your recycling work, was the subway car project self assigned?
YES!  I had begun working on my book American Reclamation  and spotted the barge loaded with the subway cars in New Jersey.  I approached Weeks Marine about including them in the project and they were happy  to have me (as was the MTA) to have me involved capturing the work. I had no idea at the time how the images were going to resonate with such a broad audience.

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