The New York Times Magazine
Editor-in-Chief: Jake Silverstein
Design Director: Gail Bichler
Art Director: Matt Willey (designed the feature)
Director of Photography: Kathy Ryan
Audio interviews: Catrin Einhorn and Kristen Clark.
Produced by: Stacey Baker, Jon Huang, and Riely Clough.
Photographer: Christopher Griffith
see the online slide show here
Heidi: Did you travel to the shoe shiners or did they come to you?
Christopher: We developed a very small transportable studio that we brought with us to shoot in arguably the most cramped environment ever. Some of these places are quite small, so finding enough space proved challenging.
Who wrapped the cloth around their fingers? and do they have signature style of hand gestures/wrapping?
They all wrap their own hands and no two are really the same. They all have slightly differing techniques, differing types of rags and different approaches to giving the customer ‘the best shine in town.’
What a great moment to celebrate the craft. How did the subjects react?
Some were very skeptical, frankly many thought we were insane but all agreed to be photographed…eventually.
The colors and the knots are so beautiful. Were those designed or came from their kits?
They are all from their personal kits. Nothing is designed but they all have different preferences for the type of cloth for the type of shine.
Spit Shine: very smooth, thin cotton sheet. Dull Shine: thick towel fabric. Who knew?
What was your creative direction from Stacey Baker?
Make it iconic? Make it beautiful? I think we all knew that it was a pretty unique project. I was never convinced it would even get published because this kind of photo essay is rare these days. I just wanted to make sure that I did the idea justice. Our benchmark was the image of miles Davis’ hand shot by Irving Penn.
Heidi: I know this was your brainchild, how did this idea come about?
Stacey: Last summer during work one day, I ran across the street to the Port Authority to have my boots shined. I climbed up into one of the chairs and a man named Lenny shined my shoes. We started talking, and he said he’d been shining shoes for decades. His hands were beautiful–the way he wrapped the cloth around his long, lean wrinkled fingers. They looked like sculptures. I asked him if I could take a picture (see attached). He showed me the various the cloths he uses to shine shoes, and some of them looked like works of art. I wondered if there was a photo essay there.
What was it about Christopher Griffith’s work that made you choose him? What did you already know about his work that would make your idea come to life?
Christopher immediately came to mind for the project. The work of Christopher’s that I was most familiar with are his large monumental still life’s. They look like sculptures. I thought he might be a good fit. He was an absolute dream to work with and his pictures are remarkable.
Photo essays are such luxuries in any magazine, was this a difficult sell to the staff?
It actually wasn’t. As soon as I returned to the office, I ran the idea by our photo director, Kathy Ryan, who loved it. We then pitched it to our editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein, who gave it the green light. Jake is a huge fan of photography and what we do in the photo department. We were all blown away by Christopher’s pictures.
Design Director: Nicole Dudka
Photographer: Scott Council
Heidi: Have you worked with this client before?
Scott: I have shot about 5-6 things for Chicago magazine. The last cover I did for them was for this same issue but last year and it was portrait series with Common.
What type of direction did you get from them?
I presented my ideas and had several conversations with the Design Director, Nicole Dudka who had a lot of great ideas, so it was a great collaboration. I also submitted my ideas with sketches in PDF form so they would have a visual to help them understand what I wanted to do. The issue was about the fall arts in Chicago. Its called the “Fall Preview” and it covers everything, music, theater, dance, art, etc. He started his acting career in Chicago and went to school in Chicago so they wanted a portrait series with images of him doing things related to the arts.
How much time did you have with the subject?
I had him for 3.5 hrs including wardrobe changes and lunch. We did multiple set ups, I had two alternating sets, both in New York studios. I wanted to do three, but there wasn’t enough time nor budget.
What is the easiest aspect of shooting accomplished actors, and conversely the hardest?
The easiest part about shooting accomplished actors is that they really seem to know who they are and they don’t let their publicist run everything as much. They don’t have anything to prove because they are already know. There for they can take what you’re trying to capture and really make it their own, they “deliver.” They seem to be more responsive once they are on board with the ideas. Point being, take new talent for example: They have a career they are grooming and so they try a little too hard, worry too much about their image and some still let their publicist think for them, this can be difficult on set.
He has a great range in this shoot, how did you change the tone, what sort of direction did you give?
They wanted me to have him bobbing for apples and doing a lot of things that are kind of not at all who he is, so it was a little tough to sell him on the ideas. At lunch I saw him by himself and I went over and we talked about what I would like to shoot and what the magazine wanted me to shoot. He said “People are always asking me to do things that are not me, its like everyone wants to make fun of me.” I mentioned this is firstly a portrait session and secondly, a cover. I didn’t want him to do anything that was not him. With all my subjects I’ll explain what I’m trying to capture and then they can add or subtract anything. We work together and we both feel good about it. At the end of the day, you need to live with the photography. I really meant what I said to him, I wasn’t trying to trick him into doing what I wanted. I created an honest dialogue with him and I gave him the option to participate, we all want the same thing: To do a good job.
What do you enjoy most about portraiture?
In the end I’m not interested in creating entertainment photographs so we can all stand and stare of the actor, athlete and see what magic they produce. I will always deliver an image that I was hired to deliver, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to relate to it. Often project goals and true photographic goals aren’t aligned. I’m interested in Michael Shannon as a person as an equal human being with a voice and an opinion. I fell in love with portraiture because when I look into a portrait I see myself, I see each one as a little symbol of everything great and everything beautiful about who we are as human beings.
Art Director: Danny Seo
Writer: Christine Richmond
Photographer: Jonas Jungblut
Travel assignments are the most coveted, how did this project come about?
The writer on this story, Christine Richmond, also was in Ireland with me for a story last year. It was with the same magazine and we worked together well so I think we were a perfect team to go over there without an editor and do our thing.
Did you have a relationship with the magazine?
Yes, I have been working with Naturally Danny Seo for about a year thanks to another great photographer, Shelly Strazis who recommended me. My first job with the magazine was the travel story in Ireland mentioned above. Besides having bad oysters and the resulting food poisoning on our most important shoot day it went great and I have been busy with the magazine since.
How long were you there?
We spent five days in the area and traveled between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai for one day by car. I then flew to Bangkok and spent another night. Initially this was going to be a two-day story but given that it took me a good two days just to get there we extended to make it worthwhile.
Did you have a specific shot list from the magazine?
We had a loose list. There were certain elements which they wanted to see but we really had a bit of freedom to explore, while sticking to a pretty solid itinerary, and build our own story based on what we encountered. That was really nice. The fact that it was just the two of us made that somewhat straight forward as well. There was no exact image request on that list, all images in the story are experience images.
What was the biggest obstacle for this project?
The distance to the location from my house if you can call that an obstacle. Really, the fact that I had to travel for pretty much 2 days straight to get there was, probably the only thing one could consider an obstacle. Or maybe having to shoot while sitting on an elephant, I could see that being an obstacle for someone! I think if you want to find an obstacle you always can. Weather, getting head butted by a 400 lb baby elephant, language barrier, this list can go on for a while. Part of doing a travel assignment is to get past obstacles and render them into experiences.
How many vaccines did you have to get?
Well, I needed some updating anyways but I did get some specific to the region. I think I walked out with four different vaccines and a few hundred dollars less in my pocket. The place where I got them was pretty pushy on malarone tablets for malaria but I decided against those for fear of nightmares and when we got to Thailand people were surprised on the suggestion of taking it.
How do you go about tackling travel shoots, do you have a process?
It depends on the assignment. For the Thailand piece the writer and I were pitching other stories to piggy-back onto the trip quite frantically. We figured we should make the most of it being all the way over there already. Nobody was interested and in hindsight we were relieved since we were pretty spent after those five days. I also did a little bit of research on the area to make sure I wouldn’t miss something while already there. But this trip was very well-organized and we had guides almost all the time so we could just do our thing without having to worry about logistics. There actually was almost no time to explore beyond the itinerary, so we just focused on that.
In my experience assigned travel jobs are usually organized and have an itinerary so doing a bunch of extra research can be a waste of time since you never get to whatever you find and it might end up distracting you from focusing on what you have in front of you. It really depends on the client and specific assignment.
One thing to be careful with is to over-research and then getting stuck on an itinerary created on a screen versus a real life experience. When I travel for shooting stock or on jobs with loose schedules I like to have a few pointers and then explore from there.
Project based travel shoots require a whole lot of prep. Having two young kids and being on the road as much as I am has not really allowed for extended project based travel in the recent years but I do have ideas that I’d like to realize in the future. My recent Europe trip was sort of project trip since I planned it as a “shootation”, shoot a bunch of stock while being on vacation. I quickly realized that being on the road with two kids under the age of 6 by yourself killed a lot of the activities that were only loosely planned.
How was Santa Barbara been as a home base?
I love Santa Barbara as a base. Almost all my work is out-of-town so I get quite a bit of international exposure. I had this conversation with a client recently. We were sitting having coffee in Vancouver during a shoot and he mentioned that I was so cut off from the world in Santa Barbara. I replied that it forces me to travel and I actually get exposed to different cultures and locations more than if I lived in a large market and wouldn’t have to leave.
It’s not easy growing your career living in Santa Barbara, people think you are a local photographer (or who knows maybe they don’t?) but I do ok, I travel, and I live in a place I truly enjoy. And when I need my fix of urban, modern, culture or whatever I get antsy about I make sure to get it on an upcoming trip.
What made you choose Brooks for schooling?
My whole pre-Californian life was heavily influenced by California. Skateboarding, Mountain Biking, surfing, the weather, the Beat Generation writers, the lifestyle. This may be a little off topic but Mr. Hasselhoff (yes yes, I am German) did an incredible job selling this place (Baywatch! I hope the California tourism board knows how much he helped) Ha! More than wanting to go to Brooks I wanted to be in California! And Brooks accepted me so I packed a bag and went. They came highly acclaimed and I had been photographing for a good 5 years at this point (I was 20) and knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life. It was a perfect fit.
Looking back, what type of advice would you give students? Or what did you wish your younger self knew back then?
Network hard with your fellow students, a lot of them will end up working in places that will be of interest to you down the road. It’s also nice to have a solid set of friends that you can check in with if you run into something you don’t quite have an answer to. Also: Don’t drive yourself crazy about grades. My whole academic career was driven by me passing classes while really focusing on the stuff that I wanted to focus on. I actually think that assisting (apprenticeship/real world experience) is probably more valuable than having a college degree in this career. It’s important to be honest with yourself! Understand that this career requires experience, skill and dedication. Embrace the failures and don’t be afraid to make more. Understand the economics behind this profession and check in with yourself every so often. Are you having fun? It is a choice to be a photographer, might as well make it exactly what you want, otherwise I don’t see the point.
How has your love for travel and sport folded into your work and resulted in assignment work?
Being able to do certain things physically is a skill set that sets you apart. The same goes for being ok with long days of travel and all the other fun things that can happen to you while on the road. I think all my clients appreciate that I am very tolerant to challenging travel and that I can shoot underwater, while riding a skateboard or on the side of a cliff. I also really enjoy shooting “real” stuff. It’s great to be on a produced and organized set and being able to apply your knowledge of lighting and all that stuff but getting a portrait of someone right after he got pulled in the boat because a shark started circling him during an endurance swim is just so visceral, you communicate with people through your images, it’s engaging.
Travel experiences enrich you culturally and being active allows you to apply that experience and get angles and/or locations that would otherwise be inaccessible to you. You won’t get hired to shoot from an inflatable dingy on open ocean all day if you only shoot in a studio and I enjoy doing stuff like that from time to time. I don’t want to spend all my time inside. It also makes for great dinner conversation when you tell people who you have been slapped in the face by a dolphin (and have video to prove it), survived an 8.8 earthquake on the 19th floor of a hotel or race street luge. I think it just creates a brand and we all know that’s a good thing.
Who printed it?
Linco Printing in Queens, NY
Who designed it?
Michael Freimuth, Creative Director and Partner at Franklyn did the design work. We wanted to go big with the images and keep everything else minimal. For this particular piece, the newsprint and the brown grocery bag paper envelope worked perfectly with the imagery.
Who edited the images?
The images originally came from a story I shot that ran in Men’s Health: so the edit credit really should go to Don Kinsella the Deputy Director of Photography over there. Great guy and a pleasure to work with!
How many did you make?
How many times a year do you send out promos?
Generally speaking four times a year. I try to hit seasonal themes or send out a series of teasers on one subject. The images came about from a story was called Raise your Steaks in Men’s Health – basically about buying potion of a cow. The meat shot represented everything you get from 1/8th of a cow. First we photographed a Scottish Highlands cow in Rural Pennsylvania, named Raquel. She was the farms show cow, winner of many a blue ribbon. The farmer sent everyone in my crew home with some of the best beef I’ve ever had. It was a pretty amazing juxtaposition the to then photograph the meat still life. We did the corresponding recipe shots in studio the next day. Prop styling by Thom Driver and food styling by Jamie Kim.
Founder & Editor in Chief: Joshua Paul
Heidi: Was it your intention to be a Formula 1 photographer?
Joshua: I never intended to be a Formula 1 photographer, editor or publisher of a magazine. There was no concept, savings, or business plan, just a perfect sequence of events, dating back to childhood that brought this to fruition. I was born with innate love of cars and racing, specifically grand prix racing. I also subscribed to Road & Track magazine for as long as I can remember. As a photographer, I have been sent to over 85 countries, on some very dodgy shoots, traveling so frequently, I used to pre-pack my bags for subsequent trips. Lollipop couldn’t have happened more organically – Formula 1 brings together my love of cars, racing, travel, adventure, photography, and magazines.
How did the project get it’s start?
On a freezing day in February of 2013, I woke up to KCRW, and heard about an upcoming music festival in Barcelona, called Primavera Sound, with Blur as the headlining band. I spontaneously bought a ticket, and booked a flight and room for the month of May.Over the next few weeks, realizing the Spanish Grand Prix would take place during my trip, I asked my friend and the new Creative Director at Road & Track, Dave Speranza, if I could shoot the race for them. They were into it, and helped me attain accreditation for the Spanish Grand Prix.
I didn’t see this as anything more than fulfilling a dream to shoot a Formula 1 race, before the concert the following weekend. I was psyched to be there, and nostalgic to be shooting for Road & Track. When I arrived at the circuit in Barcelona, the first person I saw was the NBC broadcaster, Will Buxton. I said hello, and with a very warm welcome, he encouraged me to introduce myself to the person who gave me accreditation, Pat Behar, and insisted I go to the Ferrari, Mercedes, Lotus and McLaren motorhomes, ask for the Press Officers, and tell them I’m with Road & Track, and ask if I can photograph the drivers, the cars, the garages, etc. I immediately went to say hello and thank you to Mr. Behar, who not only knew my name, but he knew my website thoroughly, referencing specific images, telling me, “That’s why I gave you accreditation.” Then he offered, “You should come to Monaco,” the next race on the calendar. Then I went to Ferrari and Lotus, and they too generously offered to let me shoot the drivers getting suited up in the garages, buckled into the cars, and speeding off onto the track. That night, I called a friend back in New York to tell them what the hell had just happened, and his response was, “Dude, you’re in.” I didn’t feel that way at all, but knew something special was happening, I accepted the invitation to Monaco, sacrificing my Blur concert.
Did you have a previous relationship with Road and Track?
Not as a photographer, but as a long-time subscriber, since I was about twleve years old. My connection was through the Creative Director, Dave Speranza, who gave me one of my first assignments, for “Golf for Women” magazine, in 1999.
What was it specifically in this image by Jacques-Henri-Lartigue that inspired the project?
I love everything about this image! It looks fast, dangerous and romantic. The drivers are wearing leather helmets, there is an exposed gas tank behind the driver’s heads, and the wheels are bent to an oval, with two spare tires, suggesting there will be a flat tire. The people in the background look upper class, which hasn’t changed in F1 racing, and they are skewed in the opposite direction of the car, emphasizing speed. It’s also muddy, and I feel like I can hear the engine and smell the fuel. Mostly, what intrigues me about this image is the odd crop. I so badly want to see the whole car, but it’s as if this was all he could capture at that speed. He leaves me craving more. I’ve always wanted to create timeless images, and I’m trying to do it in F1.
I know self publishing is a challenge, what was your driving force?
After Road & Track told me they could no longer sponsor my accreditation, an idea arose to publish an independent, American Formula 1 magazine, as a photo-narrative of every race. Most F1 magazines report news, driver gossip and the business deals. To stay in Formula 1 as a photographer, you must attend 12-14 races each season, and publish hundreds of photographs. Lollipop helped achieve some of these requirements, but I had no idea how intense the travel would be. There are twenty races in twenty different countries, taking place every other weekend, from March until November! Had I known in advance what this would take, I’m not sure I would have done it, but taking it race by race was exciting and achievable. I kept discovering new things about the sport, uncovering different layers, and I woke up every morning totally inspired to go explore, shoot something new, play with shutter speeds, etc. The more races I shot, the more I discovered, and realized I had access to not only the race track, the cars and drivers, but also with permission, to the team garages, the mechanics, engineers, teams trucks, and factories. There is so much to shoot – it’s the ultimate travel story.
Where did the funding come from Lollipop and what’s the backstory on the name?
Lollipop is self-funded. I looked for sponsors and advertising, but Formula 1 is not well known in the United States, and there was no circulation to speak of. I took a loan for the printing of the third issue, but the sales are offsetting the costs, and inherent expenses. The name Lollipop pays homage to a piece of racing equipment formerly used during pit stops. The crew chief held a long pole with a disc at the end of it, affectionately called the lollipop. It was used to communicate with the driver of when to stop, and when to go. Now they are electronic, like stop lights.
Why is there no video allowed in F1?
The rights holder of Formula 1 owns the broadcasting rights worldwide. He provides a live feed of each race, bringing all the cameras, microphones and cameramen around the world, from race to race. We are only allowed to shoot still frames, which is amazing for me, because I love the still image and narrative.
You’ve traveled to 22 races and been to 40/50 countries, are you also shooting other jobs?
I have taken a few races off here and there, to regroup and shoot other assignments. It’s more a matter of letting my clients know I’m back in the United States. This is where social media sometimes backfires. If I post images from around the world, everyone assumes I’m gone, so I need to be careful about that. I also keep in touch and let everyone know I’m back – this goes for friends too. I’m grateful that they have been patient with me, and still call. As far as shooting assignments, I would like to concentrate on motorsports and the automobile industry. I would also like to see Lollipop expand to different genres of prestigious racing, like LeMans. I am enjoying the challenge, and as much as I love being a photographer, I love every aspect of publishing, it’s exciting, empowering and new.
How many different cameras do you have for each race?
I bring one camera, and sometimes a backup body. I’m not a gear head and don’t like carrying all the weight. I also like to choose a focal length and stick with it. If I can do this from race to race, mixing it up a bit, it keeps me fresh, the work fresh, and gives a different look to each race. More important than the camera, I shoot with fixed focal length lenses. I bring a Zeiss 35mm, 50mm, and a vintage Nikon 105mm, along with an autofocus 24-70mm, as a back up for portraits. Both Nikon and Canon reps come to every race to service our gear, and bring crates of cameras and lenses for us to use. I occasionally try a long lens, but I prefer to shoot wide. Last season, as I started to repeat races from the year before, and decided to bring along my 1913 Graflex 4×5, and shoot black and white film. I wanted to try to recreate some classic images with modern cars, and deconstruct the cars a bit, concentrating more on their form, than the sometimes garish advertising. It’s a huge challenge, but keeps me intrigued, and really slows things down. Instead of shooting infinite frames on memory cards, I shoot about twenty sheet per session, and I feel like a photographer again, thinking about composition, framing, and point of view.
How are you sustaining yourself, does the magazine have advertising?
Lollipop is produced on a shoestring budget, with no overhead or employees. I’ve slept in tents, stayed in far away hotels, walked, taken public transportation and have asked for rides to and from the various circuits. Besides paying the designer, and expenses for the fashion shoot, all the money went into printing. That couldn’t be sacrificed, and we printed it based on the paper and ink we wanted, vs. cost. I have not taken any advertising, not that I didn’t try, but in the end, I am happy we didn’t get any ads, because I want Lollipop to be exclusive and collectible. I would like to think, if you picked up an issue ten years from now, you’d still say wow, and not be distracted by outdated ads. I know this is very idealistic, but I think it would be better to try to advertise by association, or by a single, per-issue sponsor, or through custom packaging. I also think and hope that when Lollipop is discovered by F1’s hundreds of millions of fans worldwide, the distribution will grow and help make it sustainable and profitable.
Are you selling any of there images?
I have supplied images to several magazines, but I decided I wanted to publish exclusive content, and simply try to create the most beautiful racing magazine ever.I would like to publish and exhibit the black and white work, and it’s a matter of time and priorities. I’m doing my best to set realistic goals, and unfortunately, it’s not an immediate goal.
What’s the greatest challenge with this project?
The biggest challenge was getting to that first race. Formula 1 has a bad reputation, based on how the sport was governed over a decade ago, but the people are incredible, and they are incredibly supportive. The challenges now are my stamina, and finding a financial solution to keep this going. A lot has been achieved in two years, including permanent accreditation. I believe in it, the response has been overwhelming, and I think money will come.
How have you grown from Lollipop?
If there was ever a more significant right of passage, this is it. I came to a point in my life to take a real risk, and stopped caring what anyone thought, or failing, and ignored any discouragement. After 17 years shooting professionally, I feel like I’ve finally found my voice as a photographer and writer. I feel more articulate, acute, and in the moment. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like having a new career, doing exactly what I love to do.
What would you tell other photographers that have a deep passion for a hobby or sport?
I have always been very encouraging and I say go for it! You have nothing to lose, and I think every day, if Lollipop stopped tomorrow, it was a huge success. Very few people take big risks in their lives, for fear of failure, lack of stability or peer pressure. Nothing has been easy for me, but I work hard and I’ve had a lot of luck! My first assignment was to shoot shampoo bottles and I was psyched! Then I shot a garden, and then a restaurant. It took three or four years before I got a big travel shoot, and even then I took a deep breath and thought, okay, that’s one, now let’s try for two. You have to believe in yourself, and not be discouraged. There is every reason to not try to be a photographer right now, or think it’s already been done. Everyone is a photographer today. We all have phones, but what do we do with them? Photography is about nuance, and if you look at Robert Frank’s, or Irving Penn’s contact sheets, you’ll quickly see this is a working process, and the great frames jump off the page.Before my first race, a friend asked, “Why F1? It’s already been done.” Not to me it hadn’t, not even close.
Are you also writing all the interviews?
Yes, and that’s empowering. I was an English major in the creative writing program at the University of Washington. I have always felt comfortable writing and have kept a journal for about fifteen years. But again, this happened by accident. One day the Press Officer from McLaren called and asked when I would like to interview their rookie driver, Kevin Magnussen. I thanked her, and explained that I was a photographer and more interested in taking his portrait. She kindly welcomed me to do both. I laid awake the night before, nervously thinking of questions to ask, and just went for it. It wasn’t the best, but it was a start, and it helped me get over being star-struck, and talking to the drivers. I had no idea how difficult it is to dictate an interview and make sense of it. It is really challenging, and massively rewarding. After that, I asked the other teams for interviews, and tried to approach the interviews a little differently. It got better, but drivers expect to hear questions about that weekend’s race, with the Press Officer by their side, so it’s hard to do a lifestyles piece. When I interviewed Pirelli Motorsports Director, Paul Hembery, I felt much more comfortable to just chat and listen. It felt more like we were sitting in a pub drinking a pint, with him telling me about his life. I learned a lot, especially that the most interesting people in Formula 1 are not necessarily the drivers.
How long does on issue take to produce?
I have learned so much in the last two years, and most of it the hard way, but that’s kind of my style.The third issue was a redesign, which took about six months from inception, with three months of hard work to finish. We missed our initial two deadlines, but benefitted by having more time to add written content, like an extra interview and an article about my camera repair with Lotus. Production took over four weeks, because our pages were so heavily coated in ink, it literally took three weeks for the paper to dry. I have to factor that in for the next issue. And then of course, shipping, which took a week. I hope the next one comes together much quicker, but then again, there is a lot of content to gather and the season is long. I want to mix up the design to continue to keep it fresh.
Photo Director: Nicole Kopperud
Senior Art Director: Matt Taliaferro
Heidi: Tell us about the subjects.
Jordan: Bill Berloni and his dogs were photographed in Connecticut on Bill’s farm. We were able to choose the dogs we wanted to work with (he has about 30 dogs). We knew we were in for a treat as his dogs are some of the best trained in the country, with high day rates. Fortunately they weren’t divas. He has a new show “From Wags to Riches” on the Discovery Channel that just came out where he turns shelter dogs into stars.
How hard was it to manage the dogs?
The magazine didn’t want a studio setup for the cover shot of the dog, so we photographed them outside. After we set up the cover shot, we were told that they needed to bring the dogs out one at a time. We then shot the dogs individually in our scene and later composted them together. The biggest challenge was the heat. We had a van with AC near the set for the dogs to stay cool — we were able to shoot each dog for a few minutes. Since our subject is a master trainer and has such a unique connection with these dogs we needed to do less wrangling from camera than usual, but that didn’t stop us from doing some kazoo blowing of our own.
Did you have treats on set?
There were treats and tons of different noise makers ranging from kazoos to the plastic trombone-like- whistles which were a big hit and seized the most attention from the dogs.
Were you concerned about any of your equipment with dog hair?
No – whether we are sippin’ a cappuccino in studio or rollin around in the dirt with dogs, we usually know what we are in for and plan accordingly. In this case, we had plastic bags under our equipment.
Can the dog really make his ears go up or did you do that in post?
Ah, unfortunately no, or at least not in the short time we had to shoot him!
We wanted to create an organic movement from the centered “star” dog, so we had Bill pick up his ears and drop them to get this effect.
What was the most remarkable training command of the day?
I wish I could say there was a word but it turns out its mostly about hand signals.
There was this one thing Bill would do to get the dogs to run. He would simply walk away and get into his car, and they would come a runnin’.
How hard was it to get all of the dogs looking for the group shot or was that done in post?
For the group shot, they were all so well trained that we were able to position them on the couch and with hand signals, they would stay in place. There was an assistant dog trainer behind camera for that shot to help us. It was done in camera and felt like a small miracle to have them all just sitting and looking at us like that. Had we not been in the company of such well trained animals and top notch trainers this would have required lots compositing.
What has been the biggest influence on your work?
I love to look at photographs, photographer’s careers to see how they’ve created work year after year building on ideas,being flexible, creating work that has value.
What was your first real break if you can remember?
I clearly remember my first big project. It was a documentary project and it started as a 1 day shoot that evolved into a 10 day shoot. I came home, quit my day job, got a new job bartending and looked for work and photographed everyday for years. No BS in that statement. Not much has changed.
You have such a strong corporate client list, how did that happen?
I remember being a young photographer and looking at the stack of annual reports on my father’s desk. They were always interesting to flip through and very photo heavy. I started to keep a list of the design agencies that worked on them and started to hand print promos to mail out to the art directors. I drove many a receptionist crazy trying to get the names of the right people to mail to. It was a very organic process that worked for well for me.
I enjoy that your promo’s are so interpretive. Quite a few of your images give us hope and an escape from whatever we are doing at the moment. I have your “Self Published spread 12-13” on my wall and often fall into that image when I need a break from my desk. Did you do this consciously? Put images in that promo as an escape for the viewer inevitably sitting at their desk wishing they were someplace else?
I’ve always thought that a promo should start a conversation with whomever is on the receiving end. Whenever I start a promo edit it tends to lean towards the commercial side. What I think people want to see, where the industry is at. I start to whittle that down with the help of the designers and the edit/promo starts to have a vision. Starts to feel like an extension of myself. I also start to have doubts and spend more that a few nights thinking about the image edits, the pagination–everything. It’s about a 3 month process from the first edit to the last with a few rounds of variations. The second guessing is an important part of the process (for me) and I generally feel that if the anxiety isn’t there then there’s something wrong.
When a promo arrives on a desk I want to get it opened. I want to allow the smell of ink to fill a room. We send out promos in clear envelopes with big imagery on both the label side and the back side. It’s always the goal for the promo to drive people to the site where they can see all the work they want. I’ve heard from a handful of people who spread 12-13 is hanging on their walls. There’s no better compliment than that. Yes, I certainly want a project from the promos but if It starts a conversation with a creative, adds a few Instagram/Facebook followers then its working.
I think in this crazy paced digital age everyone needs a visual respite. I don’t think that we consciously put in imagery that speaks to that but its tends to happen. I had spread 12-13 on my mind for weeks before the right situation presented itself. I wanted to shoot it out in Montauk but the weather just wasn’t right. We were 2 weeks aways from going to press when I found myself out in SF during a crazy December storm. I had an idea of something I wanted and reached out to Heather Elder who put me in touch with location master Jim Baldwin who turned me onto Sutro Baths. We hiked in wind and rain for about 30 minutes before I found the right spot. I actually thought the birds screwed up the shot until I saw the frames. I found what I was looking for and called Marcos, the CD at TODA who was working on the promo, and asked him to hold up while I sent it off to him. (Marcos and I have worked together on promos/websites/portfolios for 15 years)
A lot of your work and comments here keep you deeply anchored in the moment, were you always like this? Or has it become refined over time?
I like to think I was always anchored in the moment. It’s how I work; how I’ve always viewed situations. Everyone has a story to share and I try to tell these stories when I work. I try to find something that we can both relate to and build upon. It’s not the image that makes the photograph, it’s about the conversation that makes the photograph happen.
How has your family influenced your work and what has it taught you about yourself?
Being a father has taught me that the well-being of one’s family trumps everything. I talk about my children (2 boys 2 girls ) to everyone I shoot and that can lead to some interesting places. All teens make for a very interesting household.
I see you are without out a rep. What’s your best advice for marketing yourself?
Be smart with your time. Be respectful when reaching out to people. Research, research, research. I love sending out simple emails with personal notes and an image. Have a sense of humor. Know that it’s not about you and approach people that way. Be kind. Don’t make calls when you’re in a low or bad mood, go see a movie instead (advice to me from Duane Michaels years ago). Know that there are “friends” and “client friends” and understand the difference.
I could use a rep. When I go on appointments with larger agencies the first or second question is “who are you rep’d by.” I’ve worked with great reps in the past and have good relationships with them. Theres positive and not so positive things about working with agents. I think one needs to learn how to be their own rep before anything else. Learn the business because it’s a business no matter how creative you are.
Tell us about the conversations behind your promo images.
Walter Kirn and first day of vacation.
I really wanted to use the shot of Walter for a couple of reasons. I loved the image but there’s also a great back story. I photographed him 17 years ago for GQ for the contributors section. Met at the Gramercy Hotel and did some pictures that were fine but when I left I never felt like I really got what I wanted, if I even knew what I wanted really. I’ve thought about if for years on and off. Seriously, years. I’ve always keep track of him and I saw a post on FB mentioning him. I reached out to him through FB and reminded him who I was. How many people named Walter are there in the world really? He remembered the shoot, actually remembered details that I forgot. I asked if I could shoot him again when he was in NYC next. As it turns out, he was in the city the next weekend. We met up, talked , shot and I got what I was after. The funny thing is, and I wasn’t even aware of this, is that there’s a white coffee cup in both shots we did.
The promo editing was done by TODA. I whittled down to about 500 images for this round. To say “edit” is a stretch though.
This is generally what my house looks like on any given weekend morning. I always have film cameras around and the table image was shot on Kodak 400 through my favorite camera the Mamiya7II. Its traveled the world with me multiple times and has never…not once, crapped out on me. I always liked this image but never saw it as a paired up with another image. They showed it to me with this image of my son Otis and I was immediately sold. This particular shot was from a test with the new Leica S camera. Most intuitive comfortable piece of gear I’ve shot with in years.
The image of the 3 tourists against a wall was shot near the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey. I love it there. Photographs to be taken at every turn and I never felt uncomfortable shooting on the streets there. We were originally there for a Coca-Cola lifestyle shoot. Whenever I go to a new place I generally throw on some running shoes and clear my head with a trek through the area that often turns into a scouting trip of some sort.
I paired this with an image from the Governors Island carnival from two summers ago. I wold have never put these two together but it works because the contrast between the backgrounds. This spread hung up in my office for a few weeks to see if it grew on me. That’s part of the process when I edit and make decisions with these things. It will live on my fridge, in my office, somewhere where I see it when I pass through. I wait to see what the spread feels like after a bit of time has passed. Might be odd, but it’s worked this long so why change?
I’m always struck by how often people will not allow an experience to simply unfold before they start documenting it. I’m guilty of it at times but to see a kid walking down the street or sitting in a stroller with an ipad just kills me. What happened to just looking around, to being curious? I’m sure these ladies were just tourists outside Macy’s during the holiday but to me they we’re missing something. The leather fanny pack does it for me.
What’s not to love about Miami in the winter?
The last image to make it into the promo. I asked to swap this in just before it left for the printers. I love weather and I had this stormy sea image in my head for weeks. I was waiting for the right time to drive out to Montauk to get it but the weather was not cooperating as I said earlier. After I shot it I though I’d have to retouch the birds out. Ha. They made it that much better! I called Marcos in a “hold the presses” moment and we got this in. One of my favorites on 2014.
Just documentary portraits from jobs. Probably the only two images from paid jobs in the promo.
I love doing promos and find the process of how someone else experiences my work refreshing. It’s a long process for me. Lots of time goes into moving images around on pages before I even send the edit to TODA. It’s a bit of an emotional process in the beginning until it leaves my hands. Once it’s done the feeling of waiting to see what the designers come back with is equal to the feeling of waiting for rolls of film to come back from the lab. curiosity. Excitement. It’s all there.
Once we get round one done, I pin them up and live with them. This will generally lead to second edit that may have a few more commercial images in it. They always look great but I’m often left feeling like something is missing. I always know what’s missing but it takes sometime to make the changes. This time around I had my producer, Susan Shaughnessy, Paula Gren of The GrenGroup and Amanda Sosa Stone (my creative buddy for years) weigh in on the edit. All agreed more personal was stronger. I’ve always thought a promo should immediately stand out in the mail so that’s why we’ve always used clear envelopes. I’ve also started to send an email or PM to specific clients with a snap of the promo cover to let them know it’s on their way. It all works though sometimes a bit better than others. When I’m traveling to an area for appointments I generally will hold off sending a promo until two weeks before I arrive. It’s always a compliment when people remember receiving it. Promos are a way to start a conversation and my career has been one long conversation with many people.
Photo Director: Casey Tierney
Photo Editor: Brian Madigan
Photographer: Danny Kim
What are the tricks for shooting ice cream in it’s half frozen, half-melted state?
The food stylist comes prepared with a styrofoam box filled with dry ice so the ice cream can reset faster than in the freezer. I will leave the modeling lights off on the strobe so they do not emit heat. Also some store bought ice creams do not melt like home-made or parlor style ice creams, certain sugars such as corn syrup and stabilizers such as cellulose gum slow down the melting and dripping process. For multiple scoops the ice cream is held up by long sticks if its unstable then retouched out.
Do you have any good behind the scenes info about this shoot?
This image was originally shot on yellow color aide, Real Simple converted the background to pink when they decided to use it as a cover.
You were previously a staff photographer at New York Magazine, and now you’re at Bon Appetit, are you staff or freelance only?
I was on staff at New York Magazine from 2010-2012, there I learned to shoot food, still life, & fashion. I am currently freelance only, Bon Appetit being one of my regulars.
What was your biggest break in your career thus far?
I got to meet and photograph Martin Short for a New York Times article. I was star struck, I am a huge fan of Jiminy Glick.
How did shooting the Strategist pages shape you as a photographer?
The Strategist openers forced me to think like a magazine designer. Headlines, text, and graphic quality were all in consideration when shooting those pages.
How hard was it to make the transition from staff to full time shooting for a variety of clients.
I worked with some of the best photo editors in the city at New York Magazine, they eventually moved on to other magazines and even become photo directors, we all keep in touch so finding work was not a problem.
What’s your creative process for the smart/witty/graphic still life images?
I listen to what the photo editors or art directors have in mind and I also ask for some context of the article, then I try to make many options as I can before the studio closes.
Do you have a journal? Do you write copy?
No journal, I do not write.
A group of LA based photographers and journalists joined together to create a project that would raise awareness and support for the young men and women of Los Angeles aging out of the foster care system.
This collaboration resulted in a book and exhibition called “Aging Out.” I had the pleasure of chatting with the photographers about the book and their collective.
Heidi: What drew you to this project?
Aaron Fallon: Around 2007 or 2008, I had seen a photo project with an accompanying story about young adults who had or were about to age out of the foster care system. I cannot recall the details, but the idea itself impacted me in the sense that I tried to imagine myself at 19, 20, or 21 years old having to face the world on my own without support of family, without someone to turn to or somewhere to go. And it seemed so overwhelming and scary. We all need support and a little help sometimes and to be at that stage in life without guidance or support — would, at the very least, be extraordinarily difficult. I wanted to start my own version of the project in Los Angeles. It was a way to use photography outside of my normal channels in a manner that might help others. Although I had done some other pro bono projects through the Taproot Foundation previously, this would be a project that truly resonated with me and I could have a lot more involvement and oversight of the entire process.
The idea stayed with me, but it didn’t come to fruition until several years later after the subject came up during a meeting with Maggie Soladay, (former photo editor of American Lawyer Magazine and Corporate Counsel Magazine), she had overseen a New York City version of a similar project and advised me about how to get things going. She suggested finding an editor/producer/creative director to partner with. Around the same time Coral Von Zumwalt had just put together a monthly meeting of sorts with several photographers in what would become the Image Hoarders. I reached out to Jacqueline Lee to take on the Editor/Producer/Creative Director role and pitched the idea to the Image Hoarders.
Joan Allen: Our earliest group conversations discussed the importance of having ongoing personal projects. Each of us would discuss the project we were currently working on or a new one we wanted to start and we would encourage one another to make progress on them, those of us who actually had time to get theirs started would share their accomplishments during meetings and would ask for feedback. When Aaron proposed this project to the group, it was during this time and we unanimously jumped at the opportunity to work on a creative group personal project, especially one that would raise awareness for such an important cause. The only creative conversations we had involved creating “a day in the life of” each subject. I think all of our photography and visions mixed very well together for a photo-journalistic, photo essay, reportage feel.
Matt Harbicht: I liked that we would be bringing attention to a subject that typically went unnoticed. We all had heard about this, but had never seen what life was like for people who have had this kind of childhood.
Matt Hoover: My passion is documentary photography, telling stories and meeting new people. One of the reasons I got into photography was to make a difference in my community or even the world if possible. This was an opportunity to tell a story of one persons life that might help others and bring awareness on what’s going on here in our own country.
Megan Miller: Aaron brought the idea and some information to our group. Once he showed us the sheer number of children aging out here in LA each year, and that LA County had the most children in the system of any county in the country, I think we all realized that something was happening in our own community that we didn’t know enough about. I wanted to learn more and then try and share that knowledge and awareness with others.
Yuri Hasegawa: When this project came up, I was grieving heavily from the loss of my husband. My loss changed my entire life. My loss also changed me as a person, my perspective about life itself and affected me in both good and bad ways. One of the good changes after my loss is that I developed a desire to use my photography skills to help create something more meaningful in life, yet I had no clue about any specific idea or plan. Also, I was still too weak to feel “passion” to do anything more than keep living day by day. In a way, it was the most difficult time to think about a personal project on my own, even though I knew how much a new project would help me, after hearing about this, I immediately thought that this would be a great opportunity to be a part of a creative project and thought the timing was all happening for a reason. I liked the idea of having one project to work on with such an amazing collective of photographers (eventually to become the Image Hoarders) as a group collaboration.
Heidi: How did you find the subjects? Tell me about how you engaged with them and got them to open up?
Aaron: Joan Allen introduced us to the Alliance for Children’s Rights here in Los Angeles. The Alliance reached out to many of the Foster Youth they work with and put us in contact with those that were interested in being a part of it. Jacquie and I sorted through the potential subjects and tried to make sure we would be covering a broad spectrum of subjects and stories.
For both of my shoots, I met the subjects at their apartment and made sure we both allotted enough time to pretty much spend the day (afternoon) together. To me, this approach was best, as I could meet them in their own environment and without any particular time or location restrictions. We would sit and chat for a while. They’d tell me their story. I’d tell them about myself and the project. And then eventually we’d get around to creating some photos.
My first shoot was just Ernesto and myself. And the longer we chatted and then shot together, the more I learned about him. We went to lunch as well, and I shot some stuff with him in his neighborhood and at his favorite local restaurant.
My second shoot with Chardea, was in tandem with the writer. I let the writer do her thing first and I sat and listened. And after I chatted with Chardea. And took a similar approach as my first shoot. And we went to lunch as well.
Coral: Most of the subjects were brought to us through the Alliance for Children’s Rights which is an organization that serves as an advocate for foster kids and at-risk youth. However, one of my subjects, Cody, and I were brought together via a personal connection. My cousin worked with him years earlier as a childcare counselor at his group home. She knew his story was powerful and was impressed with how he had taken control over his life at the time.
With my subject, LaKendrea, I had the luxury of time which helps immensely when you are trying to connect with a subject. Over the course of three different days together, she became comfortable enough with my presence that I could just tag along and blend into the background as she lived her life. She allowed me to document her while she went about every day tasks like caring for her son, giving rides to her friends, visiting with her family, and potentially life-changing events like searching for an apartment and trying to convince a landlord to rent to her.
I also strive to have an empathetic ear, and I hope that comes across when I am with my subject. Being a good listener goes a long way toward helping anyone open up, and it holds true for subjects as well.
Lastly, it always helps to establish common ground between oneself and one’s subjects. Both of my subjects, for instance, are parents of young children. As a parent of young kids myself, we could share the universal joys and challenges that come with parenthood. There was also a period of time in my childhood when my mother was having troubles and a social worker had to intervene. I didn’t experience even one iota of what LaKendra or Cody went through, but there was a touchstone there I could go back to and it was easy to put myself in their shoes and understand them.
Joan: I was mentioning our book project to a dear friend of mine and at the time I had no idea she was independently highly involved and passionate about this cause on her own. She had a relationship with a non-profit organization who helps these young adults learn life and job skills to increase their chances of survival. She introduced me to a wonderful subject who ended up being one of the people I photographed and also to Alliance for Children’s Rights. We had a meeting with them and to my knowledge, most or all of the other subjects were introduced to us through the Alliance. My friend really helped us get the project off the ground in the beginning and I am very thankful to her for that.
Matt: Locking down people who came from troubled pasts was difficult. Sometimes people would fall out of contact because they had switched homes or had other trouble. Some just fell out of contact completely.
Matt Hoover: Most of the time meeting someone new to photograph I like to sit down and introduce myself. Tell them where I’m from and what I’m doing. I like to listen to my subjects and here what they are doing, what’s going on in their life, etc… You can’t rush it, you have to sit down and take your time, get to know the person your going to photograph. No one is going to open up and feel comfortable around someone new who shoves a camera in their face. You have to gain trust first then let moments unfold in front of you.
I also like to use humor when meeting someone new, whether it be for a project or just out and about in the world.
Megan: To get to know who I was photographing I just made sure to have a real, full conversation with them before I ever even took the camera out. The great thing about it being a personal project, is that you can spend as much time as you need.
Heidi: When you shoot something this emotionally complex, how to you prepare for the shoot if at all?
Coral: Shooting stories like these are really refreshing actually because I feel I have to prepare less. Instead of agonizing, like I often do for my editorial and commercial shoots, over what type of equipment to use, what assistant and/or digital tech is available, is there budget for a producer, will the subject give me more than 15 minutes, etc., I instead just get to concentrate on the subject. It is just me and my camera and the subject. And because neither of the stories had been written for Cody or LaKendra before I shot them, I went in with minimal information and got to hear their story firsthand.
Joan: I don’t personally feel that I had to prepare any differently than I do with any other shoot. I just wanted to get to know these wonderful and strong peole and hear their stories. I asked to just hang out with them during normal daily routines, making dinner, etc. I didn’t just show up and grab my camera and go for it. I wasn’t in a hurry. I would meet and talk to my subjects and ask questions and just help them not think about it being a photo shoot until I sensed they were relaxed and I was just some regular friend hanging out in their living room. Then, when I was sure their guards were down, I would just keep talking but start taking photos as well. I did photography Lt. LaShanda Holmes for two separate days at the National Coast Guard at LAX Airport. Those shoot dates required being much more scheduled with our time, as, permission was needed for LaShanda to be part of the project, for me to be able to photograph at the Coast Guard, for me to be able to photograph the helicopters and her in uniform and for her specifically scheduled slots of time that needed approval. Those days did not allow for the flexibility of just “hanging out” beforehand.
* Joan Allen also shot the cover image.
Matt: You think about what’s important to illustrate this person’s story. If you are in their homes, the first thing you notice is how bare they are. Most of us have acquired an enormous amount of “stuff” throughout lives. We all knew this going into our shoots so things like the emptiness of their environment would be something to focus on. For many people the idea of their own place or home was integral to their story. In my case I didn’t know what the situation was going to be, so I just ran with it.
Matt Hoover: I really try to think about what this person has gone through. What obstacles might have come into their life. What would I have done or felt if these things happened to me.
You can’t really prep for certain things because you have no idea what this person has gone through. You just need to listen and go with the flow.
The portraits are a deep reveal into ove coming so much in their lives, how hard was the edit and what were you looking for in the final select?
Aaron: In making final submissions I wanted to show a broad range about the person I was photographing. Yes, both of the people I photographed had pasts that would be considered emotionally heavy, but that doesn’t define either those people. So, if I have an image that may be reflective or poignant and could be viewed to reference their past — great, but I also looked for lighter moments, or moments that show who that person is now. And with both of my subjects we had fun moments during the shoot, so I wanted to make sure to include those as well.
Coral: I found it hard to edit because as I became closer to my subjects, LaKendra in particular because we spent more time together, I found I was editing out images that told a fuller story because I was acutely aware of her feelings and did not want to show any images that didn’t paint her in the best light. As with many jobs, however, I went back a second and third time – each time trying to put on fresh eyes – and put forward, what I hope, is the most honest story possible.
Matt: I think I was looking for something that showed their strengths and a look at the struggle they had gone through. We visited her old school as school was always the driving force in Jasmine’s life. She showed me the Taco Bell she waited at for people from the Hollywood Youth Shelter to come get her. Seeing these places that had little or no meaning to me were the driving force behind what changed her life. It was powerful to walk those steps with her.
Megan: As far as what I was looking for to send to Jacqui, I was just trying to show the entire range of the person I had gotten to know. The positive moments, the struggles. That’s difficult to do in just a few images, so I was just hoping for that to come through.
Yuri: I do feel that I had more of a tendency to be subjective easily on this edit. My biggest problem was, shamefully, the lack of variation. There were a few technical issues on the shoot day, which limited our option to get more variety in terms of locations and different situations. I attempted to book a second shoot date, but, my efforts failed. That part was a huge challenge for me, wanting something more and not being able to create it.
Coral, tell us about why you created ImageHoarders.
Early in my career, I had the good fortune of working as Art Streiber’s first assistant. Over those five or so years, I truly felt part of a tight-knit photographic community. Logistically, Art’s shoots were often quite big – they felt more like a small film shoot rather than a still shoot – so I was working along side many assistants, set designers, stylists, creatives, etc. I felt like part of a team and there was always a tremendous amount creative collaboration. And more than any other photographer I’ve known, Art truly enjoys fostering photographic friendships and mentoring young photographers – he is very generous with his time and experience.
After shooting on my own for close to 10 years, I found myself feeling isolated and missing the sense of community I felt while working with Art. My shoots are typically pretty intimate… oftentimes I am shooting with just one assistant by my side, and then I spend an ungodly amount of time alone while I edit (and edit again – I am a slooooow editor). I missed the group dynamic and was craving the conversation of photography. But I didn’t want to take part in something formal and regimented – I wanted something intimate and casual and inspiring. One night, over beers and archiving woes in my garage, I was talking with a couple friends about this quest to find my own little photo version of the Algonquin Round Table and I realized other people were craving the same thing. So that was the nexus of ImageHoarders. I invited a handful of photographers whose work I respect into my living room. Some are friends that I assisted alongside with years ago and are now established shooters. Others are former assistants of mine who I missed working and hanging out with because they are now busy shooting on their own or making that transition into shooting full time. There is a range of age and experience within the group which benefits us all, I think. And it is a safe place to share information, bounce ideas off each other and show work in progress. Now roughly two years later, we continue to inspire each other to do better work and we enjoy each other’s company while doing it.
Creative Director: Jacqueline Azria
Photo Director: Sarah Rozen
Photographer: Steven Lippman
We wanted to shoot activewear bathing suits fashion in a very graphic and sporty way so approached Steven with the idea. Steven loves the water so we knew this was the perfect assignment for him.
The model Jill is someone we had worked with before and knew that she surfed and would give 100% to whatever we asked her to do. She actually came directly from kite surfing camp directly to our shoot. Once we picked Hawaii our producer had to closely watch the weather and wind and ended up adapting our shoot days based on the wind patterns.
Director of Photography: Allyson Torrisi
Associate Photo Editor Devon Baverman
Photographer: Tony Luong
How often to you work for Popular Mechanics? Was this your first assignment for them?
This was my first assignment for Popular Mechanics, I have done another since then which is great. The whole way the shoot came about was quite crazy when I think about it. Allyson Torrisi called me the day of the shoot pretty much, asked if I was available and asked if I would be interested in shooting it. I immediately said yes as I had been eager to shoot for them. I was actually shooting another assignment when she got in touch with me so I immediately wrapped up that first shoot, went home only to pack another bag, upload my memory cards and book a hotel room since there was a driving ban in effect starting that evening. All of this happened in a matter of a few hours, I can’t thank Allyson enough for putting that trust into me arranging for all of that happen and shooting the assignment as it was my first time being thrown into that kind of situation.
Are driving bans common in Boston around that time of year? And is that a regular line item on your checklist: Can I drive?
Driving bans, absolutely. Especially when there are anticipated snow storms like the ones we had this year. Boston has such small and windy roads that it makes it almost impossible to plow and have things run smoothly at the same time. It really becomes a mess. Luckily though, the city makes good calls during those times as the whole place is running back to normal in a day or so after just getting 3 feet of snow. As for driving, no, not at all. I usually carry 3 or 4 bags when I go on a shoot so a car is good to have and we do have public transportation but fortunately, I only needed one bag for this assignment.
What are your best tips for shooting in freezing conditions?
Hand warmers for your batteries and snow pants paired with good boots. I was constantly in knee deep snow trying to keep up with Jim since he’s a pretty active weatherman. He would randomly turn around while he was on set and go jump in the snow, snow show and make snow angels, I would then follow – I couldn’t have done that if I wasn’t wearing snow pants and boots. I also brought multiples of gloves to swap out, when one pair got wet, I would let them dry in the news truck and rotate them throughout the day.
Was it hard to light Jim for the portrait and did you use any of their lighting ( when he was broadcasting the news… )
At times it was but you make do with what you have and think on your feet about how to apply the supplied light to the picture you’re trying to make. This type of shoot lent itself to a faster paced type of shooting so I had a flash on a bracket the whole but I also utilized the lights the camera crews use which were great and a lot of fun as well. Since the shoot started at 3am, I got to see the light temperature change dramatically and was able to bounce off of that throughout the day. Other times, I would ask Jim to move in a different spot or shift him to the other side and so on and so forth. For the most part, he was in front of the TV-camera being lit by their lights or in the truck tweeting his heart out.
How did you protect your gear and try and keep your fingers warm? I’d imagine adjusting cameras is hard if you have gloves on.
The night prior after checking into the hotel, I went down to a store and bought a bunch of plastic bags and rubber bands. I kept those items in my jacket along with some gaffers tape and would cut holes in the bags and tape/use the rubber bands to make seals around specific parts of the camera. I don’t have one of those fancy camera covers so it was super lo-fi but it worked. The thing I realized also was that after a certain temperature, the snow would just bounce off the front of my lens, once it started warming up – that was when things started to get wet and cause problems. Fortunately, since the news casting truck was only a few yards from where Jim was reporting from, I was able to retreat and dry off, warm up, have a snack and put a new bag on the camera if I needed to. I also used those gloves with the detachable fingers, but again, I only had a few hours to really prepare so I took out all the winter gear I had and brought it with me.
Why was the call time 3 am? and was it clear you’d be shooting for 12 hrs?
Jim and his crew were traveling to boston the day that I got the call about the assignment and since the storm was scheduled to begin that following morning at around 2am, it was only obvious enough to begin then. When Allyson briefed me on the shoot, we both knew it would be best to begin shooting as early as possible to catch Jim in his prime. Since Jim is also notorious for jumping into the thick of when weather gets intense, he wanted to be the first one out reporting on the snow before anybody. That said, I knew I would be shooting for a good deal of time but I also wanted to spend that time with Jim since I had seen so many videos of him on Youtube. All that said, we ended up walking back to his hotel together, had a good lunch together and said our goodbyes as he went back up to his room to sleep and rest back up before his next segment. It was a fun way to see both sides of Jim and make pictures of it all at the same time.
Some additional images form the shoot
What niche do you see this publication fulfilling?
I had been toying with the idea of this magazine for a couple of years, and when my daughter was born last year, I knew I finally had to do something. Its really concerning that we put unrealistic beauty expectations on our young women through ridiculous levels of retouching and body warping, so I wanted to start a fashion magazine to help change that. EDWARD features all natural, un-retouched models in raw, beautiful editorials. It highlights amazing styles and gives our daughters something to aspire to that is actually obtainable.
All black and white and no retouching? tell us about that– what type of photographic statement are you trying to make.
The aesthetic is all centered around creating a publication that is true and aspirational. Simplicity. Something that blurs the line between art and commerce. Retouching has gotten so out of control that models in fashion magazines barely resemble people. Just google “liquify in photoshop”, and you can see what I mean. This publication will be the opposite of mainstream fashion magazines in every way. We plan to have advertising, but only as native, sponsored stories, so as not to detract from the overall feel of the piece.
How much harder are the photos to take now that you’re not retouching?
Its really not difficult to make a beautiful woman in stylish clothes look amazing on film. Choice of lighting, posing, hair, makeup, and clothing make all the difference. We didn’t have these photoshop tools decades ago, and our idea of realistic body image was much more realistic and healthy. Our contributors see it as a challenge, and I agree. If you cannot make beautiful art without creating it all in the computer, you are not a true artist in my mind.
So you retouching NONE of the images, correct?
Correct. Only basic light adjustments like brightness and contrast are allowed. No skin retouching, cloning, or body warping of any kind are allowed.
How does the casting go down?
Casting is a collaborative process with our artists. The photographers produce the shoots, and we simply ask for sign-off on the major players before the shoot date arrives. We hate to intervene in the creative process, so we rarely change anything, unless it is something that really needs remedying.
Are you shooting the bulk of the images?
I plan to shoot one editorial per issue. We have dozens of photographers from around the world, along with amazing stylists, models, and other crew who are all contributing their time to this project.
What’s the business idea behind this and are you seeking any funding?
We are actively seeking investors and subscribers. We know this project can be very viable as an art book style quarterly or monthly publication. In addition to the publication itself, we are working on other products such as art prints that can help better compensate the artists we work with in the longer term.
What was the catalyst for this idea? I know you recently had a daughter, are you trying to send out the right messages to men and women?
Yes I have been disgusted with the state of retouching in commercial photography for a while now. Having a daughter last year finally made me want to do something about it. We need to be creating a world where people are happy about themselves and their bodies. And while I do think it is important to eat well, exercise, pay attention to ones appearance, it is impossible for people to live up to models that have been warped and manipulated into something unobtainable. Women in American culture unfortunately have more unrealistic expectations to live up to, so that is why EDWARD focuses on them.
Do you think as society ( most female beauty images ) we are prone to not believe photography any longer? Are you trying to give us hope?
I think that most intelligent people are well aware that mainstream imagery in magazines is far from truthful. But even if people know that intellectually, it is easy to forget when looking at an individual image. I am not trying to give anyone hope, I am simply trying to steer the industry in a more truthful direction.
How much longer does it take to finding the correct angles to mitigate the need for retouching?
A good photographer should be finding those angles already, so for me it was not much of an adaptation. I think the lighting, and paying close attention to hair and makeup is the most important part. Softer, moodier lighting tends to be come conducive to creating the right mood for EDWARD.
Why did you call it Edward?
EDWARD is my middle name. For me, it brings up the image of a proper British gentleman, reliant on logic and truth. He appreciates the finer things in life, and values honesty and character above all else. He loves women, and more importantly, respects them.
What’s the best way for people to reach out to you?
They should email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Associate Photo Editor/Editor: Jenna Garrett
Writer: Jakob Schiller
Read the online piece here
Photographer: Ethan Pines
Heidi: How did you find out about the Science Fair?
Ethan: A close friend of mine is one of the directors of judging, and every year he tells me that I need to come and shoot — that it’s full of quirky, imaginative kids with inventive projects and large personalities. And it’s never been covered well. This year I finally decided to do it.
What about the fair appealed to you? Had you seen an image/student that compelled you to take it on as a personal project?
I’d seen a few snapshots on the Science Fair website from past years, but until I arrived at the Fair I hadn’t seen anything conveying the spirit of the kids, the uniqueness of their projects and the atmosphere of the day. And I think it’s all these elements that appealed to me. I was a bit of a geek as a kid, but I always wanted to be one of the cool kids. And I think that was a mistake. What I admire and love about the kids at the Science Fair is, they absolutely believe in themselves and their visions. They’re not there to win or to get famous, but because they’re proud of what they’ve done and are excited to show it off.
It’s also the kind of portrait series that, if you choose the right kids, almost can’t go wrong. It’s easy to focus on gear and lighting and technique, but photography is really about the subjects and the content, and it doesn’t get better than this. It was amazing — over 900 kids and projects, all of whom won regionally or locally to get here, all of whom converge on the California Science Center in downtown L.A. with their ill-fitting suits, their adolescent awkwardness, their earnest enthusiasm, their fairly mind-blowing projects.
I’m also a longtime fan of science fiction, and ultimately that’s what many of these projects are — new ways of thinking about problems, imaginative forays into the future.
Did you set out to have it published? or was this purely a creative exercise for you?
I always hoped to publish it somewhere but didn’t get much interest beforehand. So I thought I’d go and shoot something good, then send it out afterwards. I wanted to make photo editors’ jobs as easy as possible — get something in front of them practically ready to go. The Science Center was also generous and trusting enough to give me a media pass and full access without a specific editorial assignment, so I wanted to make sure I did right by them. They and the Fair deserve the coverage.
What’s the difference between shooting this type of series and let’s say a client job? How does your creative process or mental process compare?
Of course I can do whatever I want with a personal series, as opposed to a client job with a specific creative mandate. But what I did is exactly what I would have done if a magazine had assigned me the shoot. If an advertising gig sent me to the Fair, there would have been a lot more discussion and preparation beforehand regarding the ultimate purpose and use of the images, the client’s and agency’s creative direction, the message we wanted to convey, what some of our ideal images might be, etc. And I would have put a lot of thought into how to direct the kids, how to dramatize the client’s goal and agency’s ideas, what moments I’d be looking for, what scenarios I’d want to create, and how to make all that happen. And of course how to light it, what gear I’d need, what crew, what preproduction, and so on.
Since this was a personal series, my preproduction focused on how I wanted it to look, how to light it to get it there, and how to rig a battery-powered, portable strobe setup that my assistant and I could easily move around and manipulate in small areas. There was a lot of coordination beforehand with the Science Center, and I went the day before to scout. I also put some thought into creating a well-rounded photo essay — including details, still-lifes of projects, overviews of the exhibition rooms — rather than just a portrait series. As for directing and the content of the shots, I’ve shot so many portraits by now, I didn’t do much preparation beforehand. Between the kids themselves and the way I shoot, I felt I’d end up with what I was looking for. Too much preparation for something like this, and you can end up focused on a preconceived agenda rather than what’s happening in front of you.
How did you determine who would be shot/made the edit?
Determining whom to shoot was tough. Not because there weren’t enough good subjects, but because there were too many. Nearly 1,000 entrants and projects, and only a four-hour window when the kids are out with their projects for judging. Once we were inside I skimmed the aisles of one main area to find the first few interesting-looking kids with interesting-looking projects, After those, I did it again in the next area. Any one of those hundreds of kids could have been a complete gem to shoot; I just had to choose and run with it. And make it as good as possible once we were shooting.
What did you say to the kids to get them to open up? did anyone turn you down?
I’d simply stop at a kid, tell him/her I was shooting portraits, and ask if I could photograph him/her. It helped to have a media pass on my shirt and be the guy with the strobes flashing at various places around the Science Center. No one turned me down. Most of them seemed eager to share what they had worked on. And if they were a bit embarrassed, that also makes for a good portrait.
Once we were shooting, I watch for good moments, shoot the moments between the poses, talk with them, get them animated and expressive, work with whatever presents itself spontaneously, and make sure I get what I have in my head as well.
Once you saw the body of work, what were the key factors in choosing Wired over let’s say another tech publication?
Choosing Wired was a no-brainer. It’s the highest-profile and lushest tech publication out there. I think it’s one of the best-designed and -edited publications, period, tech or otherwise. I’ve shot for them before, so I thought that my pitch email would at least get read.
What did you pitch consist of? How many images, what was the crux of the text?
I edited down the shoot to a tight 21-image photo essay that I laid out in a .pdf with a title page and simple captions. I emailed it to Wired with a brief explanation of the Science Fair, and let the .pdf speak for itself. Once they accepted it, they asked me for a broader edit. I sent them everything that I’d be happy to see in print / online, and let them create the final series. Their version and mine ended up fairly close, so I felt that they understood the essence of the project.
Sift /A King Arthur Flour Publication
Creative Director: Ruth Perkins/Tamara Dowd
Photographer: Julia Reed
How did the project come about for you? Were they a former client?
I was actually hired at King Arthur Flour as a PR Coordinator in 2013. My background was in film and photography, but I saw an opportunity to bring those skills to King Arthur through PR. I was working as a food and lifestyle photographer in LA before moving back east (I grew up in Vermont) and had planned to continue my business here. I never imagined I’d end up in a marketing department, but King Arthur Flour is a wonderful company, known locally for its charitable giving and status as a founding B Corporation. They aren’t, however, as well known for these things on the national level. I felt like good companies need good storytellers and advocates too, so I took the job. About a year ago, I was officially promoted to Multimedia Producer, where I concentrate on telling our story through photography, writing, and video.
Oh man, everything and anything! I do most of our “lifestyle” photography, for bakeries/people of interest nationally, as well as internally. Many of those shoots end up in Sift, some are for our blog, Flourish. I am a contributor to our instagram feed, and I run our video program, which is still a bit of a one-man show. At the moment I write, produce, shoot, and edit all of our videos.
A deep appreciation for food is in my blood. My father was a chef and my mother was a baker; they met while working for the same restaurant. Growing up, everything we ate was made from scratch, and often from the garden. I never saw store-bought bread in the house, and we never went out to eat. Bones and vegetable scraps were saved, for building rich stocks that simmered on the woodstove all winter long. I vividly remember visiting my aunt in Boston when I was 13. She asked if I liked frozen waffles and I was SO excited to try them, because I had never had them before! I was seriously disappointed. We didn’t have much money when I was growing up, but my parents knew how to transform even the cheapest ingredients into rich and flavorful meals. I took my first job in a restaurant at 14 washing dishes, and worked my way up to waitress, and later, cook. I went to college in my early 20s, as a way to escape the restaurant industry – which is somewhat ironic in retrospect. In LA I started going to farmer’s markets – at first as a way to reduce my carbon footprint, but later because of my love for the people who grew my food. I felt such a strong connection with the farmers I’d see every week – their stories and personalities connected me to the land in such a real and tangible way. The experience brought me back to my roots, and eventually inspired my move back to New England. I started taking photos for farmers to use in their marketing efforts – it was my way of helping the community and people that meant so much to me. I started a short-lived blog, and began getting solicited for more food-oriented jobs. At King Arthur, I get to merge my two favorite styles – food and lifestyle. The bakers I work with remind me a lot of the farmers I knew in LA. The best ones have enormous passion for what they do, and an indefatigable drive to better their craft. Everyone comes to the table from a different direction, and for a different reason. When I photograph bakers for Sift, I always want to know what moves them to bake. Baked goods are as unique to their bakers as fingerprints are to people, and I like to photograph them as though I was taking a portrait of the maker themselves.
The biggest challenge for me personally was the timeline. We moved fast on this project, so I found myself rushing to meet deadlines for the premier issue, while simultaneously trying to collect images that we might want for future issues (fall foliage for instance – it happens without regard for your schedule!) As a team, we wanted to make sure that we weren’t just putting another food magazine into a saturated (and some say declining) market. Authenticity is what makes our company what it is, and we wanted that to come through in the magazine – I think it did. Our creative director Ruth Perkins, and our Editor Susan Reid worked hard to weave stories from many writers and photographers into one cohesive set. With the help of our agency HZDG, they put together a magazine we are all incredibly proud to have our name on. Also, it’s SO soft! Have you touched the cover? It just feels so luxurious and inviting, I couldn’t be more honored to have been a part of this team.
– Samples and/or link to your published work, please also include a list of where you have been published
Ventura Blvd Magazine
Editor-in-Chief: Linda Grasso
Creative Director: Ajay Peckham
Graphic Designer: Elena Lacey, Michelle Villas
Photographer: Michael Becker
Heidi: Tell us about your commercial photography as a second career. What caused you to make the switch?
Michael: I was drawn to both music and photography from an early age. When I was 11 my grandfather, who was a professional photographer in Manhattan, gave me his beautiful old 1950’s Rolleiflex. I was immediately hooked. When I hit my teens, I became increasingly interested in music, particularly blues and jazz. I started playing guitar and ended up going to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. After graduating I moved to Los Angeles and spent the next 15 years in the studio making music.
Several things happened that ultimately led me back to photography. In the year 2000 there was a commercial actors strike that had a dramatic effect on some of my clients and my business as a composer/producer. Shortly after that, both my parents became very ill. I decided to move back to New York to help take care of them and to deal with the difficult transitions. It was then that I rediscovered my grandfather’s old Rolleiflex. Taking photos of my parents and the town where I grew up became both an escape and a way of documenting what my family was going through. There was something about the immediacy of photography that resonated with me. I was hooked all over again.
I know your first career was as a successful music composer, how do the two interplay, if at all?
They both have the incredible power to move people, and to reflect and comment on social conditions. After years of making music, I found photography refreshing in that I could make a photograph relatively quickly, whereas writing and producing a song can be a rather lengthy process.
My professional experience has been that both require a strong, individual voice or vision, but they are also fertile playgrounds for collaboration. I loved playing in bands and working in the studio with other musicians. Photography is also a great collaboration, starting with the entire creative team, through to the subject interaction with the photographer.
My biggest lesson from music carried forward into photography is to trust the creative process. Don’t set out to make something perfect, set out to make something authentic and then subject it to a heathy dose of scrutiny and refinement.
How did you execute the Mark Jacobson story? I understand you turned over a completely researched idea both editorially and photographically. How long did this process take?
I have been working with a wonderful editor and photography consultant, Lisa Thackaberry. I was interested in doing more editorial work in addition to my entertainment work. My wife, Staness Jonekos, had also done a major career switch from television executive producer to published author. It was Lisa that suggested we find an interesting story to tell and work as a team doing the story and photography. She suggested we pitch magazines directly and thought going in with a complete article might be a viable way to get published. Since staffing and budgets are down in editorial, it made sense to try and create our own opportunity.
My wife immediately remembered our first encounter with Mark when I started working in entertainment and thought it might be an interesting story. I loved the idea and reached out to him to see if he would be open to doing it. After explaining our intentions, he agreed and we set up the first interview. It wasn’t until we sat down with him that we realized what a rich history there was with him and his father Irving. Irving had quite a remarkable career prior to inventing the first camera sound blimp. From the time I first called Mark to when the article was published this month, took almost a year.
What compelled you to share this story and why this magazine?
To our surprise, there had been almost nothing written about the sound blimp. Just Mark’s web site and a couple of mentions in users’ blogs. Such an obscure thing, surely there must be an interesting story. It’s been a part of film and television publicity and marketing for decades. Many film marketing one-sheets are made from the unit stills shot by the onset photographer. Shots that could never have been captured with a noisy camera snapping away during an actual take.
Once again it was Lisa Thackaberry that suggested we pitch it to Ventura Blvd Magazine (VB). She thought the local business angle was a great fit since his shop is in Studio City. VB does fantastic stories on local businesses and they still dedicate a luxurious amount of space to photographs.
Were you surprised that this story hadn’t been told as it’s such an important part of photo history?
We were definitely surprised at how little information was out there. In general, on set photographers are there for the publicity and marketing teams, not as part of the actual production. The very nature of the job requires a certain amount of stealth, thus I think it gets somewhat overlooked.
What compelled you to ask about the family history?
We were aware that it was Mark’s father who originally invented the first blimp. We were just curious what prompted him to design such a seemingly proprietary piece of gear. What kind of demand could there possibly have been at the time other than a few one-offs. Now blimps are used everywhere, from television and film sets to theater productions, golf tournaments, etc. Any place the clicking of a camera is a distraction to the action.
Was Mark surprised that the story made the cover? ( ie…not a publishers idea of a sexy subject )
He was completely blown away that he made the cover. We all were! Linda Grasso, Editor-in-Chief, and the amazing design team at VB literally picked our favorite photograph from the whole shoot to use on the cover. We couldn’t have been happier with the layout.
I think there’s great value in local publications and being connected to community, is that why you pitched this to Ventura Blvd?
Yes, it just seemed like a great fit given the proximity and the fact that VB is still prominently featuring photography. Plus we live in the hills above Studio City so it felt like it was relevant to us as both members of the community, and also the industry.
I know you shot Nancy Cartwright for the magazine, did you ask her to do her Bart Simson for you?
I did not, but I know she’s all too happy to oblige when someone asks.
What were you trying to capture when you photographed her and was it hard to separate her from that iconic voice?
Nancy is an incredibly talented voice over artist and an explosive bundle of energy. I simply tried to capture the exuberance she has for her new passion with sculpting. Clearly Bart is an inseparable part of her that she embraces and is protective of. I completely enjoyed the time the three of us spent together!
Los Angeles Magazine
Creative Director: Steven Banks
Art Director: Carly Hebert
Photo Editor: Amy Feitelberg
Photographer: Nicole LaMotte
Heidi: I know your astrology sign is cancer, how much to you think that plays into your love of shooting home/interiors and your philanthropic work?
Nicole: I definitely think my astrology sign plays into my love of interiors…cancers are home bodies at heart, always needing a home to call their own. Even as a child, I was always aware of my sense of home, rearranging furniture in my room to create a different feeling (or maybe just trying to get a better pov for camera ;)) As an undergrad I studied photojournalism at Columbia College in Chicago and without realizing it until later was the very first books I bought were interiors. I bought the “Family Houses by the Sea” by Alexandra D’Arnoux and then Isle Crawford’s “The Sensual Home”. I am drawn to the feelings that a curated space can provide. The philanthropic work really helps to balance me out. As a cancer, I am definitely sensitive and not just about my own feelings. The first time I traveled to Haiti and saw the looks in the the eyes of the orphans, I had a visceral reaction that compelled me to go back and find ways to help. One way was through my pictures, but I also recruited an artist friend, Rebecca Farr, to come along and bring the gift of art and self-expression to the children.
You were also a photo editor, where you always shooting and editing?
I have been shooting most of my life, it just has not always been my livelihood. In my twenties I had a career in the corporate travel world which not only gave me a great business background but also afforded some amazing travel benefits…and that is when I would do most of my shooting–while on my travels. I would love coming back from a trip and editing the pictures and making a book (the old fashioned way, with prints and albums). But, when I turned 30, I decided it was time to get back to photography which is when I transitioned into the magazine world. My photo editing career started at Santa Barbara Magazine and then ended at C Magazine. I worked with Margot Frankel at both places, she brought me down to LA to help launch C Magazine.
Is it hard to edit your own work? What’s your process?
Depending on what I am editing, the process can be very difficult. Shooting a story tethered is relatively easy, with the exception of portraits, as you are able to watch the story develop. When not shooting tethered, I will usually do a first pass edit with one rating and then wait as long as I can (depending on assignment due date) and take a second pass which usually consists of looking at the rated ones and knocking some down. Sometimes I find it helpful to look at a shoot in the “proof shoot” view, again going back to my photojournalism training, and looking at images smaller to see what grabs me. When editing for a show or my website, I always need an outside perspective as I cannot easily separate myself from my work.
When did you decided dedicated yourself to photography only?
After spending about six years as a photo editor, I decided that it was really time to go out on my own. Producing shoots became less fulfilling and I needed to focus on my passions.
What was your big break?
My big break really came from a dear friend, Andrea Stanford, who had come from the magazine world and was launching a new division at One Kings Lane. She needed a photographer to shoot the leading interior design tastemakers for online sales. I helped her to establish the processes and then began shooting regularly which allowed me to support myself. It was an incredible feeling to have such a supporter – someone that believes in you completely. I ultimately started working at the company full time, and did so for 2 years, which granted me incredible access to the interior design world. And I loved meeting all of the interesting people and shooting such a range of spaces from super layered to incredibly streamlined.
You have a strong understanding of the narrative arc, does that stem from your magazine editing work?
As a photo editor, I worked closely alongside an incredibly talented creative director, Margot Frankel. I would sit with her while she laid out stories, so I really did gain an incredible understanding of how images can tell a story and the need for scale changes; she has an incredible way of laying out images that is unexpected and fluid. Being on shoots as the photo editor also allowed me to observe the process of developing the story arc.
How often do you work for LA Magazine?
This was my first time working for LA Magazine. They had seen my other story on Lulu and wanted to house so there was not a ton of direction on the story. The writer was on set for this one so we were able to collaborate on the important elements of the house/story as it unfolded. It is always nice when you can get tidbits of the interview to help inform the richer part of the story; I find you can uncover a lot layers this way, like maybe a collection that isn’t full on display or pieces of art that are significant. The magazine asked for coverage and gave me a template of the house layouts to use as a loose reference. They wanted to be sure I covered as much as possible in both a horizontal and vertical format to help with the layout and maximizing the images for a four page story.
What are some key tips for shooting people in their environments?
When shooting someone in their environment I like to have conversations with them about their house and what spaces they use the most so that they are comfortable in the environment. Lulu is use to being photographed so I didn’t need to worry as much with her. Sometimes it is nice to have the homeowner in a space that otherwise might not feel complete, in the case of Lulu, I loved the front entrance with the rug down and the assortment of jars but felt like it would be much livelier with her in it (and to avoid a dark whole which the door would be).
What happens on a cloudy day when you have a job? Do you try and simulate sunlight?
Cloudy days are actually good, except when you are shooting people as it brings down the overall light. I try to avoid the harsh light when shooting interiors and move around the house accordingly. I really like the feel of natural light. The challenge is when I have to light someone and making it feel cohesive with the rest of the story which is natural light. So I work from my ambient and then add just a pop to to give a little direction without looking too lit.
Editor-in-Chief: Eric Celeste
Designer: Caleb Bennett
Creative Director: Samuel Solomon
Editor-in-Chief: Eric Celeste
Heidi: How did this job come about for you?
Samuel: Years ago, I worked with Genome’s founding Editorial Director, Eric Celeste, while at American Airlines’ inflight, American Way. We always had a great working relationship during our time there, so he reached out about the Creative Director position when things were first getting off the ground.I jumped at the opportunity because I felt like it would be a chance to build something meaningful from the ground up, and had a lot of potential to become a great product.
Did you choose healthcare consciously as an editorial pursuit? It seems as though that would be a very solid career path. Smart.
Not healthcare specifically, but I’ve always had a personal interest in science, and looking back I’ve often gravitated towards projects which had a philanthropic element or could contribute something of real value for the audience. Not to draw a comparison to Tibor Kalman, but I always admired the editorial work he was able to do at Colors, and that sort of social consciousness has always been very appealing. There is a lot of promise in the field of genomics and personalized medicine for helping people with chronic diseases, so to be able to work on a magazine that can have real impact is great. The bonus is that from a design perspective, science and medicine have such a huge visual vocabulary to draw from.
Who publishes it and how many times a year does it come out?
Genome is a quarterly published by Big Science Media, and is the core product around which the media company is built. All of our content lives in both the print edition and online at genomemag.com. We’re in the process of closing our fifth issue (Summer 2015) right now.
How big is your staff?
Well, I am the entire art department if that says anything. It helps that we publish quarterly, and I occasionally bring on some outside help when needed. So yeah, we are a pretty lean operation — 5 in our Dallas office, our Editor-in-Chief in the Bay area, and we are growing our sales staff outside the Dallas area.
Are you also the Photo Director?
More or less. I do all of the research, assigning, editing and color work.I’d say the vast majority of our imagery is conceptual in nature, so there’s also a good deal of illustration in the book.
Medicine can a dry subject, what is your creative mantra to combat that?
Well, our writers and editors are great at making these topics accessible for a broad audience, which in turn makes my job a lot easier.If you look at the existing visual vernacular of genomics, you see a ton of glowing 3-d helixes, walls of ACGT text, scientists hard at work in the lab. My challenge is to try to avoid the clichés, and find a fresh way to speak to these topics.For the first issue, I wanted to see if we could do an entire issue without a single helix. We came close — I think there was exactly one. But it was a super smart solution by the Milan-based illustrator, Alessandro Gottardo.
How did the idea of the suit come about for the disease story?
We work out which story will be featured on the cover for each issue during editorial meetings. Usually it’s something with broad appeal — topics that affect everyone like family, technology, food, etc.
For this particular cover, I had to find a way to communicate disease inheritance that would be really immediate for the reader. The idea came up to bring something that’s usually hidden inside the body to the outside, so we ended up using clothing as the metaphor for inherited genetic traits, with the genetic mutation represented in orange. There’s this sort of anxiety around the idea of an inherited disease, because it’s lurking away inside your genetics, and the jarring patterns help to reinforce that anxiety.
I reached out to Randal Ford, because I knew he could execute the concept and bring something extra of his own to the project. A concept like this could go south pretty fast if it wasn’t executed really well. Randal brought on Gigantic Squid to help with the retouch and creating the patterns, and in the end, everyone did an awesome job of making a pretty weird idea come to life.
What’s the creative direction for the brand?
Our overarching goal is making complex science understandable and compelling for the lay audience. I’d say the creative direction is idea-driven and bold, sometimes a little experimental or whimsical but always approachable. Someone with an existing health condition doesn’t need to fight against the design in order to get to information that could potentially change their life.
Are you hamstrung at all by newsstand sales?
Genome is actually not on newsstands, and goes primarily to subscribers and point-of-care settings: doctor’s offices, hospitals, personalized medicine facilities. Anyone that’s interested can subscribe for free at genomemag.com/subscribe.
Who is your competition?
We were the first producer of content centered around genomics and personalized medicine, so we have a leg up in that sense, but a few more have come along recently. Front Line publishes a genomics magazine, and Cure is a cancer publication which occasionally touches on personalized medicine. Ultimately, our competition is any publication in the point-of-care setting, so everything from medical journals to newsweeklies.
If a photographer wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way?
A simple email or printed promo piece works just fine and we look at everything that comes through our door, digital or print. Submissions, messages, criticisms, whatever can be sent to art(at)genomemag.com.
Creative Director: Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson
Director of Photography: Tara Guertin
Photographer: Jeffery Cross
Heidi: Where did you get all that candy?
Jeffery: AFAR’s art department collected iconic and oddball candy (from staff members who had traveled recently, from online sources, and from local shops), based on visually interesting packaging, as well as geographic range. The Mix department runs in the magazine in every issue, and always tackles one object, from all around the world. The candy came from Sweden, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Japan, Colombia, Iceland, and beyond.
What is your process for setting up those graphic shots?
AFAR’s art director Jason Seldon mocked up the candy in the San Francisco office before we shot it in my Oakland studio. The products were all bright, colorful, and pop-y, and Jason wanted to play up that aspect. He’d also wanted to use that crazy pink background for some time, and this seemed like a good opportunity to do so. First step was to level the set and camera, waned the shot to be as rectilinear as possible. To help with the arduous task of getting the candy lined up in some sort of grid two we employed two special pieces of equipment: the first being a laser square…always fun to play with lasers, and the second being a 24” x 36” vacuum easel, this gave us a totally flat surface and held each piece of candy in place…magic!..The only downside was the noise. A vacuum easel should come with a great stereo… or noise canceling headphones.
How many options did you have and how long did it take to set up that spread?
For this spread we took the slow and steady approach to end up with one version built piece by piece, evaluate then modified until it looks finished. According to the metadata the shoot took aprox 4hrs from start to finish.
Did you try any of the candy?
We did! Unfortunately… I tried almost all the candy. It was all good in its own way. It was cool to see how each country approaches its sweets, all super different than our candy here in the states. Lucky for me that there were two families with children on my loading dock after the shoot… Being the stranger with the candy I doled out as much of the candy as they would take. The kids went crazy over the McCraw’s Taffy… its crazy big.
How big was that piece of candy for the opener?
McCraw’s taffy, which is made in Denver, comes in nearly foot-long strips, and has been in production since 1908! I am sure it would have other practical uses much like duct tape. It’s a fun product