Category "The Daily Edit"

The Daily Edit – George McCalman: The Promo Process

- - The Daily Edit


Caroline Schiff


Jason Madara


Jason Madara


Joe Pugliese


Joe Pugliese


Linda Pugliese


Linda Pugliese


Jessica Antola

George McCalman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Edit – Mike Sakas: Editorial Story Pitching

- - The Daily Edit



150607SKSTajikistanMoto2205 150606SKSTajikistanMoto1946 150606SKSTajikistanMoto1861 150607SKSTajikistanMoto2344
150608SKSTajikistanMoto2639 150608SKSTajikistanMoto2661

141021SKSTajikistanMoto9475 150608SKSTajikistanMoto2598
150607SKSTajikistanMoto2374 150607SKSTajikistanMoto2342 150607SKSTajikistanMoto2252

Mike Sakas 

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Daily Edit – Benjamin Rasmussen: TIME

- - The Daily Edit

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.14.20 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.14.27 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 1.14.34 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Edit – Kenji Aoki: Real Simple

- - The Daily Edit

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 12.00.44 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 12.00.52 PM
Real Simple

Creative Director: Janet Froelich
Photo Editor: Alice Jones

Photo Editor: Emily Kinni
Photographer: Kenji Aoki


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

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

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

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

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

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


The Daily Edit – Narayan Mahon: ESPN

- - The Daily Edit

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 7.32.52 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 7.32.58 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 7.33.08 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 7.33.15 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 7.33.20 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 7.33.25 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 7.33.31 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 7.33.38 PM

Photo Editor: Kaitlin Marron
Photographer: Narayan Mahon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Edit – Floto + Warner: Architectural Digest

- - The Daily Edit


Some outtakes below:

f+w_St. Patricks_AD_1_9520

f+w_St. Patricks_AD_1_9595

f+w_St. Patricks_AD_2_9520

f+w_St. Patricks_AD_2_9557

f+w_St. Patricks_AD_2_9572f+w_St. Patricks_AD_2_9584

Architectural Digest

Photo Director: Michael Shome
Features Editor: Sam Cochran

Photograher:  Floto + Warner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Promo: Edgar Artiga

- - The Daily Edit





Edgar Artiga

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Edit: Richard Johnson Ice Huts / Modern Farmer

- - The Daily Edit


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 8.28.59 PM

Modern Farmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 4.57.04 PM

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

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

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


The Daily Edit – New York Magazine: Dina Litovsky

- - The Daily Edit





New York Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

What did you wear?

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

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?

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

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

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

NYMag Gayle King

NYMag Gayle King1



Gayle King Story

How hard was it to keep up with Gayle?

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

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

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

The Daily Edit – Liam Doran

- - The Daily Edit

EO Winter Cover 15


Elevation Outdoors
Editor-in-Chief/Photo Director: Doug Schnitzpahn
Director of Photography: David Reddick
Photography Director: Keri Bascetta
Photographer: Liam Doran

What was your first paid editorial assignment?  
It has been a while so I’m not totally sure, but I think it was a backcountry trip I shot for Powder Magazine.  We got on the Durango-Silverton train and were dropped off in the middle of the Weminuche Wilderness. From there we would hike in six miles and climb a few thousand vertical, put in a base-camp and ski 14,000 foot peaks for a few days.  When we got off the train, I had a fever of probably 102 and it was pouring rain.  It was a brutal hike but I made it in, but my fever would’nt break for another 36 hours.

How many days a year do you travel?

I would guess about 150. I now have two young girls, Bergen 4 and Elsa 2, so being gone for long periods of time puts a lot of stress on the family.  I am fortunate to have an amazing wife who very much supports my work and understands what it takes for me to achieve my photography goals.

For a shot like this there are no do overs. Are you stationary or also skiing?  
During the shot I’m stationary of course but as a ski photographer you certainly have to be a very proficient skier.

How many locations did you scout for this cover shoot for Elevation Outdoors?
None really.  The location is Coal Bank Pass which is between Durango and Silverton in southwest Colorado.  My athlete Sven Brunso skis here regularly so he knew where the snow and light would be best. We were able to work about a 1,000 foot section of ridgeline from top to bottom and set up 8-10 different shots on the way down.

How long did it take you to skin up to this location.
( climbing skins are a tool that backcountry skiers use, to ascend the mountain ) We were moving pretty efficiently so I would guess about an hour maybe hour and a half.

How cold was it; does it affect your camera gear?
It was single digits when we left the car but as the sun came up it warmed to the low 20’s. I use a Canon 1DX and it has great battery life so the cold does not affect it really.  I use Sigma lenses exclusively and they have never had any issues due to cold weather.

Where did you find the cover model, who is it?
Actually the athlete found me on this one.  Sven Brunso called me up and invited me to come ski some of his favorite spots.  We had a great shoot (this is our third cover together) and we continue to work together.

Since you’ve been doing this for so long, do you know you athletes limits?
I do…and they know mine!

For a fresh powder shots there are no do-overs. Do you train for ski season assignments since you are also carrying gear?
Fitness is a huge part of being a successful ski and outdoor photographer.  I will do some ski specific training during the lead up to ski season but more importantly I try to maintain a high level of fitness throughout the year.  You can’t concentrate on photography if you are exhausted from your hike up the mountain, so I am sure to build plenty of athletic time into my workweek. The few days a year that I get to ride/ski/hike without my pack I feel super fast!

How can you tell it’s time to call the shoot to avoid injury?
Unfortunately injuries are part deal in ski photography. They can happen anytime but usually it happens at the end of the day when everyone is getting tired. I have had numerous broken bones, deep lacerations, two blown knees and other injuries.  Most of the skiers I work with have had the same or worse.

Tell us about the “Fresh” image for SKI, how does your equipment perform in those conditions?
This image came from a shoot up on Coal Bank Pass.  I had just received Sigma’s new 120-300 f2.8 lens and was looking to put it through the paces.  Sven Brunso (the skier) and I got up well before sunrise and drove to a spot on the pass that Sven had previously scouted.  The 120-300 is a big lens so I can’t get it super deep in to the backcountry.  Luckily this shot was close to the road.  For anyone wondering the lens is stunningly sharp and we got a Photo Annual cover in Mountain Magazine and this full page for SKI the very first time I shot it.

You had an interesting route to the Arizona Snowbowl, was that part of the Powder assignment to travel through Monument Valley?
Traveling through Monument Valley was not specifically part of the assignment but to get to Arizona Snowbowl from Breckenridge, CO this was the best route.  We knew snow conditions would not be ideal and that the travel aspect of the story would be important and that’s what got me thinking about this shot.  More specifically how to get an interesting shot that was not the cliché of looking down the road to the monuments.
How did you convince your wife that you needed to take her car instead of your truck?
Ha! Yes well convincing the wife to take her car was not too tough.  I drive a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and my skis and photo gear live in the bed while I’m on the road.  To make this shot work from a storytelling perspective I would need to see the skis on top of the car.  Since my wife’s car has ski racks it was a no brainer that I would need to take her car. By now she is pretty accustomed to my photo shenanigans and she was kind enough to acquiesce.




The Daily Edit – Beatriz Palomo: Vanity Fair Spain

- - The Daily Edit

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 8.44.47 AM Cover by Dafydd Jones

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 8.53.48 AMCovery Photo by Jonas  Fredwall Karlsson

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 8.42.26 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 8.42.46 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 8.43.40 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 8.43.46 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 8.43.53 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 9.01.01 AM
Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 9.01.24 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 9.01.31 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 9.04.49 AM

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 9.05.06 AM
Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 9.05.15 AM
Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 9.05.37 AM
Vanity Fair Spain

Editor: Lourdes Garzón
Art director: María San Juan
Graphic designer: Cristina González Vieco
Photo Editor Mangaer: Beatriz Palomo
Photo Editor: Sara Ocón

Heidi: How much of your photography is assigned?
Beatriz: In Vanity Fair Spain aprox 20% of the photography is assigned. The rest of the content of the magazine is either syndicated from Condé Nast international titles, licensed by Condé Nast US archive, photo agencies, illustrators, photography archives, or other (film, music, fashion or beauty brands, personal archive from subjects that are interviewed, etc.)

What resources do you use to look for photographers?
In Vanity Fair Spain photo edition department, we search among almost all archives, websites, agencies and photographers. Our daily work is to look for the best and most unseen photographs for our features. Web/Internet is the most used resource, as well as other magazines work (both our Condé Nast International titles and competitors) and our unique Condé Nast US archive.

How many promos do you typically get in any given week?
I usually get between 50 and 80 in a week, many of them are not interesting for the magazine, but I love to receive good photo stories anyways, even if they are not what I am looking for the magazine I work for. I always try to save some time to review and see all the promos that I get (from photographers, from photo agencies, from illustrators, from representatives…). Even if the story is not related to the magazine I try to thank and send some feedback if I have liked the work (mostly in the times that I think ‘here is a very good photograph’). I truly think it is good to share this with photographers. If I would be -or when I was a photographer myself- on the other side, I would have liked to hear any feedback of my work (positive or negative, in my personal opinion, they both help).

(there is a Spanish phrase that says: always try to give what you would like to receive yourself).

Along with photo editing, I see you teach. What course do you teach and where?
I am also collaborating as a jury for ‘Visa pour l’image, Perpignan Festival ‘ since 2014 and as a photographer’s portfolios viewer with PhotoEspaña (biggest Photography Festival in our country) in 2015.

The course I teach is ‘Photo edition in magazines’. I have given classes here to name a few:

Escuela de Fotografía y Técnica de la Imagen which is Photography and Image Technique School

LENS Escuela de Artes Visuales  Visuals arts school  in the ‘Master de Fotografía de autor y proyectos personales’ which is Author and Personals Projects Photography Master

IED Istituto Europeo di Design in the ‘1 year Fashion Communication course’  where I taught 1 year fashion communications.

Universidad Complutense de Madrid, a the Science of Communications University is where  I taught in the 3rd year of Audiovisual Communications, documentation course.
This is also  is where I studied my major/degree.

The Daily Edit – Mitch Feinberg: Marie Claire

- - The Daily Edit






Marie Claire

Market and Accessories Director: Kyle Anderson
Fashion Director: Nina Garcia
Editor and Chief: Anne Fulenwider
Photo Director: James Morris
Photographer: Mitch Feinberg

Heidi: How did this project evolve?
I have a wonderful relationship with Marie Claire. It is one of the few American fashion magazines that treat fashion still life pages as an opportunity to advance passionate editorial views on accessories and not simply as a vehicle to please advertisers. Their Market and Accessories Director Kyle Anderson, Fashion Director Nina Garcia and Editor and Chief Anne Fulenwider all take a direct interest in demanding that the pages are strong and fresh. For a still life photographer, this is a thrilling context in which to make new work.

Months before a final art due date, Kyle sends me jpegs of the next accessories story.  The story subject might be based on a color, a design direction, materials or a cultural reference. It’s usually my responsibility to come up with a visual solution, although occasionally he or someone else will have a few suggestions. I pitch just one idea, including swipes from industrial sites or stores that refer to the environments I want to create. I do not like to make drawings or send “finished” images — it is better to keep things loose so that I have room for spontaneity. Once I send the pitch everyone weighs in and we go from there.

For the Haute Tech story, Kyle mentioned that he had a fine jewelry December story in search of an idea. Fine jewelry can be a tedious editorial subject because designs generally do not evolve much from year to year and diamonds are unforgiving in poor lighting conditions — a tough subject to make fresh.

I have been involved with a couple of technology projects and developed an appreciation for a well-designed circuit board. Apple’s boards, in particular, are very fine, all black, with an absolute, maniacal fidelity to minimalism. I immediately thought of making boards that in some way reflected or enhanced the design direction of the jewelry. Kyle worked hard to find pieces that would mesh well with the concept — no animals or organic designs, for example.

How long did the project take and tell us about your process with the engineer?
The editors loved the idea and I got to work in July.  We all figured no one had done this, at least not at this scale. My original intention was to design and order the prototype boards myself. I spent a day or so learning the nomenclature and general design principles. I already knew that board design can be devilishly difficult in the details, but straightforward designs are fairly easily to execute. There is a very large community of amateur board designers associated with platforms like Arduino, as well as many foundries that specialize in prototyping. I downloaded one of the popular free software packages and set to work. I started with a good drawing I had already made in Photoshop for the first design – the black Chopard board. Then I hit an unexpected wall. Circuit board software is designed to make circuit boards, not pretty patterns. Duh. A user first builds a schematic with all the components and only then moves on to “routing”, finding the shortest, most efficient paths to lay the “wires” between all the components. Clearly, I was not going to easily figure out how to build a schematic that would allow me to “route” the wires in a predetermined pattern.

Help was needed. I spent a considerable amount of time on tech blogs and the Web looking for an engineer that had both an aesthetic view on the world and the technical skills required. I came across one man, a fellow in England named Saar Drimer, who had a circuit board design company called Boldport. He had gone so far as to write a program that allowed him to import illustrator files into a circuit board-friendly design environment. I emailed him almost immediately. He quickly understood my project. I had found my guy.

I’d imagine the sketches were fairly in-depth in order to create the final “working boards,” tell us about that exchange.
We encountered many technical difficulties. I had to visit the jewelers and carefully measure the dimensions so that the jewelry would fit perfectly into the designs. This was very difficult to figure out, as cutouts also had to be drawn up for the rings and earrings. The magazine was extraordinarily helpful in opening doors, and we were lucky none of the pieces were sold before the shoot. Saar started with my drawings but soon added his own special sauce, making the boards more credible. By the end, we were going back and forth with very rough drawings and he took it from there. It was a lot of work for him, as he also had to design and solder functioning boards with the LEDs. I was also lucky he had a very good foundry in the UK that was willing to work hard on the quality and color of the shadow masks (the non-metallic surface of the boards). We spent about six weeks start to finish. The shoot took just two days, up in my Connecticut studio. There is almost no retouching, just a little cleaning up. I’m old school, I like my images real. We both feel that we executed something new, perhaps opening the door to new designs with circuit boards as a functional, aesthetic material.

How do your ideas manifest?
I wish I knew. they just pop in unexpectedly. On a long walk, in the shower, at an exhibition, anywhere, really. I read a lot, I look at design blogs,  magazines, many non-photographic sources. Unless there is a specific request I stay away from my colleagues’ Websites; too many voices in a photographer’s head can be deafening.

What was your break, meaning how did you get started?  Everyone has a breakthrough project though we all see you as superstar out of the womb.
Thank you. I do not know if I was a superstar out of the womb; I’ve been told that I produced a lot of spit up in my early years. Unless you are Guy Bourdin, many years of work will be required before you find a strong voice. That might be daunting to hear, but I think the best photographers love the process of making photographs. Your voice will come, sometime soon, hopefully. In the meantime, I suggest you make images simply for the joy of it. I have always felt that way, even during the years when my career was uncertain. As in all creative endeavors, this is a tough business. Do it because you love it. Still life photography has always felt like the best way to express myself, I have enjoyed a lifetime exploring how that happens.

What is another creative outlet for you?
Three years ago my wife and I moved to a small farm in Connecticut. I have learned a lot about fencing (not the epee kind), black bears (don’t run), and wild turkeys (not happy when challenged). More than enough new outlets for a guy who spent 28 years in Paris.

The Daily Edit – Cameron Davidson : New York City Aerials

- - The Daily Edit



Early evening aerial view of Times Square in the Manhattan, New York City.

CD_2014_0601_NYC_0080 copy




Aerial of the Williamsburg Bridge in the early morning, New York City, New York, USA


Aerial of Manhattan, New York City GPS DATA of shot location. LAT: LONG:

Aerial of Manhattan, New York City GPS DATA of shot location. LAT: LONG:

Aerial of Manhattan, New York City GPS DATA of shot location. LAT: LONG:

Aerial view of Midtown Manhattan and the Hudson River shoreline in the late afternoon.


Cameron Davidson

Heidi: How long is a typical aerial shoot?

Cameron: It depends upon the project and location.  When shooting over New York City or London, we plot out the times and sun path to maximize our shoot times or to catch the quality of light that the assignment calls for.  Usually about one and half to two hours.

Have you even been both pilot and photographer?
In my early days of aerial photography, right after I earned my pilots license, I would shoot and fly at the same time.  Problem was, for me, the altimeter tended to spin left, which meant I was descending.  I know two fixed wing pilots that are superb aerial photographers and also a Gyro pilot who have mastered the ability to fly and shoot at the same time.  If I was to try it again, I would shoot from an ultralight aircraft.

The key thing to remember about aerials, is, safety comes first.  I fly with a fairly elite group of pilots who know how to fly for the camera and primarily fly for the film industry.  There are a few photographers who have the same or higher level of experience that I have, all of us, are focused on flying safely.  My goal is always safety of the crew, client and myself. Since I am also a pilot, (although inactive at the moment) I know and speak the same language as the pilots flying the ship.  I tend to fly in turbine helicopters and often in twin-turbine ships.  There’s a lot of planning that goes into these flights and we always have a pre and post mission brief.  I never bring unnecessary people along for a joy ride.  That comes from the mantra of “more people equals more weight, more weight in the helicopter equals less power.”  Power is your friend.

What was the genesis for this body of work?
In early 2009, I was on assignment for Vanity Fair in New York City.  The shoot called for recreating the views from the cockpit of US Airways Flight 1549 that crash-landed into the Hudson River.  After I finished the shoot, we flew back to the heliport, I asked the pilot if we could schedule a second flight for sunset and into early evening.  His schedule was open, so we went for it.  I shot at sunset and since it was fall, dusk came quickly.  In 2009, DSLR cameras were not especially good at high ISO and low-light photography.  I decided to keep shooting and cranked the ISO up and see if I could create a usable image.  I did and it became a best seller for one of my stock agencies.

I’ve always been drawn to the intersection of mankind and water.  My work is fairly graphic and the hard lines with dark and light of the city is similar in form and tone to my aerial landscapes of marshes, river and settlements along watersheds.

So far, I’ve published six books and one iPad app on aerials.  My last book, Chesapeake, was a twenty-year love affair with the Chesapeake Bay Watershed that was the University of Virginia Press distributed.

My aerial assignment work is a mix of editorial, annual reports and advertising.  Earlier this year I shot a campaign for a automotive company.  The first shot was Manhattan from 9500 feet on a very cold 16 degree day.  The temperature in the cabin, at altitude, was minus three degrees.  Add about sixty knots of forward airspeed and we were a wee bit chilled.  The same project took me to the edge of the Everglades, where I shot as low at forty feet above the water. I’ve shot aerials in over thirty countries.

Discovery Channel assigned me to shoot shoot 360 immersive aerials for the Nik Wallenda walk websites his walk across the Grand Canyon and Chicago River.

That was very much a collaborative approach with their in-house graphics team, specialized software with quite a lot of testing and several pre-flight mission and weather briefs.  We had a half-hour window for these shots due to waiting for light to reach into into the canyons and before the winds picked up. I have flown for so long, that fear does not enter into my mindset.  I fly with good people in solid aircraft and everyone goes in with a safety first frame of mind.  I do say a prayer before every flight and ask for the safe return for all on board.


Is there a particular time of day you like to shoot these?
My favorite time of day to shoot is O’Dark early and O’Dark late.  I like working the edges of light.  The first and last light of the day is a challenge and a joy to work with: shadows hide and help create form with structure.  I rarely shoot aerials in the middle of the day.  I can only think of a couple of times in the past few years that I have.  One was in Haiti just after the January 2010 earthquake.  The only time I could schedule the helicopter was between NGO medical missions and that was 2:00 in the afternoon.  Recently I shot a series of B&W aerials of Manhattan in the middle of the day.  I wanted to embrace the hard cold light of late October.  I think it worked.

Are there scouting missions for project like this?
Sometimes, I scout by fixed wing.  Most often, I travel to the location and scout on the ground.  I take sun path plots, gps readings, look at shadow lengths and figure out the obstacles and opportunities.  I also use topographic maps plus satellite images via Google and Bing.

You’re a pioneer in this field, how did the love for aerial develop?
It came to me quite naturally.  I started off as a bird photographer.  I was working on a project for National Geographic Magazine in southern Maryland and I saw a Yellow Piper Cub behind a barn alongside a country road.  I asked the farmer who owned the Cub if he would fly me over the Heron Rookery I was photographing.  He did, for all of $15 to cover expenses.  I was hooked from that point forward.  It was the perfect viewpoint for how I like to shoot.  Graphic landscapes, targets of opportunities and hopefully, a unique image that challenges the viewer.

However, the real pioneers of aerial photography are William Garnett  and Bradford Washburn.  Mr. Washburn was also an explorer, and mountaineer.  He photographed remote mountain ranges in Alaska with an 8×10 camera at, 12,000 feet without oxygen.   I met Mr. Garnett and his wife a few years before he passed away.  In my office, I have a signed print of one of his favorite aerials, an image of Death Valley with rolling dunes and hard morning light. Mr. Garnett is considered by many, to be the grandfather of American aerial photography.


Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.12.45 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.12.56 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.13.06 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.13.14 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.13.31 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.13.40 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.13.48 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.13.55 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.14.05 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 5.14.13 PM

What has been the most surprising/innovative application for this type of imagery that you’ve seen?
Outside of books and magazine stories, I’ve started shooting images that were intended of the movie poster market.  Two of my New York City images have been made into the lead poster for the Spiderman movies. The U.S. Post Office chose an aerial of Blackwater Refuge from my Chesapeake Book project as the image to show marshes in the Earthscapes series of stamps.

Photograph by Cameron Davidson All Rights reserved/© Cameron Davidson for usage.

Photograph by Cameron Davidson All Rights reserved/© Cameron Davidson for usage.

Photograph by Cameron Davidson All Rights reserved/© Cameron Davidson for usage.

Quadopter/Octacopters (drones) have brought a raft of new uses and some of them are incredibly exciting and useful.  Everything from tower safety inspections to mapping, to wildlife counts and of course, aerials from a slower and lower altitude, which I might add, is significantly safer than flying a helicopter at 200 feet.

I have a long relationship with the good folks at Corbis and you can see many of my aerials there.  Also, I launched my own stock library, titled, AerialStock.

The Daily Edit: Isamu Sawa: Mercedes Benz Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

06-07_CONTENTS.indd Merc_14-15_JPG-1 Merc_16-17_JPG-2 Merc_18-19_JPG-3
Mercedes Benz Magazine

(Australia & New Zealand)

Managing Editor: Sarah Lewis
Editor: Helen Kaiser
Art direction & Design: Glenn Moffatt
Hair & make-up: Blanka Dudas represented by Hart & Co
Retoucher: Aaron Foster @ Studio ADFX
Photographer: Isamu Sawa


Heidi: How did the SHOWSTOPPER JPG project come about?
Isamu: In October 2014, the famous French couturier was bringing his retrospective exhibition ‘The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk’ to Melbourne Australia to be held at the National Gallery of Victoria. To coincide with the event, Mercedes Benz who was the Principal Partner of the exhibition wanted to run an editorial in their magazine and commission a photographer that could handle two disciplines; that of portraiture and automotive photography together. Collaborating with Mercedes Benz, Jean Paul Gaultier had created a unique one-off design of a Mercedes SL-Class exclusively for the exhibition and images were required of him and the car for the editorial.

Editor Helen Kaiser approached me and commissioned the photo shoot. Helen knew my capabilities as both a portrait and automotive photographer. She also knew that I was comfortable shooting high profile celebrities; we worked together previously when she entrusted me to photograph famous Australian actor Geoffrey Rush.An  ad campaign was realized by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne to promote the exhibition and I was subsequently commissioned to shoot that as well.

Have you shot for Merc Benz Magazine before?
Yes, a while ago though. If memory serves me right it would have been over 10 years ago when I was still shooting film.

What was the direction from the magazine?
The brief was to capture Jean Paul Gaultier with his uniquely designed Mercedes in the studio; covering off three to four different angles within a very limited time frame of no more than an hour.

Helen Kaiser initially sent me illustrations of the unique vehicle design by Jean Paul Gaultier with his signature stripes; we subsequently discussed shooting against a plain background due to the graphic nature of his design. The main issue however was the limited time allocated with the fashion designer. It would not have been possible to pre-light for multiple angles of the car together with the designer and achieve the sort of result that would do the story and publication justice. After a few days of brain storming I emailed Helen with the idea of shooting his portrait and the car separately…

“…in essence my idea based on the very limited time we have with JPG is to shoot him and the car separately and try to make up nice graphic images. So I suggest we do very graphic portraits of him and make up ‘double-exposed look’ collages of him around the car. I also like the idea of having him and the car in black and white apart from the blue stripes…I think this idea would make it more ‘editorial looking’ rather than looking like a typical advertising shot…”

 With the concept approved, we shot multiple angles of the car on the first day in the studio and concentrated on just the portraits of Jean Paul Gaultier the following day.

How difficult was it too keep the cyc clean and do they roll the car in?
Keeping the cyc clean was not an issue. We laid carpet down to avoid tire marks when driving the car into the studio and onto a revolving floor; once it was on the turntable it was quite easy to turn the car around for the specific angles we needed. The assistants wore protective plastic covers around their shoes when moving around the studio.

Is the car engine ever running at some point?
Yes but only when we initially drive the car in.

What is the biggest challenge with shooting a car, I’d imagine reflections? 
Reflections are ‘one’ of the main challenges when shooting cars in the studio. In this instance however we had the added difficulty of shooting a white car in a white studio; so the main challenge was to create enough light and shade in the bodywork to bring out the unique contours of the vehicle without losing definition against the background; at the same time highlighting the design created by Jean Paul Gaultier.

Was their any wardrobe direction for JPG?
We asked his management to bring some dark plain tops, ideally black and perhaps a jacket for some texture. We didn’t want to be too prescriptive; especially given his line of work, but emphasized that we needed something plain and dark for the ‘double’ exposure idea to work…


Isamu Sawa_JPG_signed print

I see you have a signed print. Do you often have people sign your prints?
A few days after the shoot I was printing out some proofs of the retouched images and had a wild idea about having them signed by Jean Paul Gaultier. With nothing to lose I contacted his personal assistant via email to see if there was any chance that I could have him sign a set of prints for my personal collection. She replied that, “in the ideal world it would be easy to organize” but she couldn’t promise anything as he had such a busy schedule including a talk and book signing that evening. She suggested trying to catch him at the book signing; which was easier said than done because the evening was booked out. I attended anyway and talked my way into the event and with the help of his personal assistant Jelka, managed to get one print signed. I waited for over two hours but it was worth it. The image hangs proudly in my studio.

I don’t often have prints signed especially these days when we hardly print anything but I do have a set of prints signed by famous Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel and a poster by one of Australia’s most famous bands Hunters & Collectors.

The Daily Promo: Fedele Studio

- - The Daily Edit

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.18.14 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.17.39 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.18.47 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.18.53 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.19.01 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.19.07 PM

Who printed it?
John: Donoson Printing for the video carrier and Bender Graphics for the booklet insert.

Who designed it?
I designed the piece. I began my career as a designer/art director so I still dust off those skills every once in a while to create new feature marketing and promo pieces. My studio has moved into shooting both stills and motion content over the past few years so we needed a way to showcase all of our work in the most efficient and memorable way we could find. It was designed to display all of our content while also having maximum flexibility for future print runs to minimize additional design time in front of my computer –I’d rather be shooting! The branded carrier has only general info about us. The video player has a USB port so we can upload custom motion content, as needed. The still imagery booklet is then printed short run so we can then be as targeted as we want to specific prospects/clients.

Who edited the images?
I edited the images wanting to include a broad overview of our portfolio & reel on this first run.

How many did you make?
We created a run of 100. Given the ridiculously high expense of each mailer we chose to do a small test run first to see how recipients responded. We’re planning a much bigger run for 2016.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
We try to send smaller printed mailers out quarterly/bi-monthly. The more expensive ones like this go out about once a year. Any more and I’ll have to pick up a second job to finance it.

What type of reaction are you getting from the piece?
This is a fairly new technology so it’s been hilarious to see the initial responses. People walk into a portfolio meeting expecting our book and iPad, then see these sitting there waiting for them. “Where in the hell did you get this?”, has been heard more than a few times.

Sometimes the button that auto-plays the video is tripped while in the mail so we’ve heard from a few people that the package arrived and it was playing music. It’s unintentional but guaranteed they’ll open ours first.

The Daily Edit – ArtNews: Katherine McMahon

- - The Daily Edit


Creative Director/Designer: Artur Wandzel
Creative Editor: Katherine McMahon
Photographer: Katherine McMahon


Are all creative editors also photographers or is this a reflective of your large skill set?

For the most part, I’m a Photo Editor. I research, request and edit photos for the front of book and features each month, but I also try to contribute original photography as much as possible. Whenever there’s an opportunity to shoot original photography for the magazine or website, I try to set up a shoot. I’ll discuss concepts/ideas with my Editor in Chief Sarah Douglas, Creative Director Artur Wandzel and the editor or write of the piece. For this shoot, I worked closely with Hannah Ghorashi who wrote the feature. We discussed concepts together before and conducted the shoot/interview within the same 2 hour window. Jenny Kanavaros was the makeup artist for the shoot, and we discussed keeping it with neutral tones but a strong brow.

What is your role at ArtNews?
Essentially,  I’d say my role has elements of both being a Photo Editor and Staff Photographer.

You mentioned you were inspired by an image from her 1976 performance.
What’s your process for sourcing inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere. I try to first think big picture but I also like to keep it simple. For this shoot, I re-watched ‘The Artist is Present,’ The documentary that chronicled her 2010 Retrospective at MoMA, and I always find inspiration in looking at old archival images. This image in particular really stuck with me:



I wanted for us to try to emulate it in a different time and context. Our office is near the Flower District, so I handpicked a few long stemmed red roses the day of the shoot and brought them with me. Before I left dropped them in a vase with some flowers she already had on her kitchen table.

I love the Givenchy dress, it has look and feel of being a headmaster, what drew you to this look for her? I know you thumbed through her closet full of designer clothing.
It was surprisingly simple- Marina picked out the dress, and I loved it. She had so many beautiful outfits to choose from, but I personally loved the high contrast. It seemed bold and assertive in an understated way.

Marina Abramović is widely known for her performance art and clearly a trail blazer in that genre. How easy or hard was it to direct her?
It was a breeze directing her. With every shoot comes vastly different dynamics, like any other relationship or interaction in life. As a performance artist, she seems very aware of her physical presence and very comfortable in front of the camera. She has an intensity in her eyes and I found her to be very charismatic. This was a shoot where I took on a more passive role as the photographer. I tried to just let her do her thing.


Aside from the simple rose for a prop, you had a candle and matches, why was that?
I had a general idea but wasn’t totally sure what the lighting in her apartment would be like the day of the shoot. I also just like to have a few unconventional props on hand just in case, so I brought a few candles and matches as a potential lighting tool in the event that we wanted to try a few intimately lit images, and I thought it might be nice to incorporate an open flame into the image somehow. In the end, the natural light was too good to pass up and I think that a darkly lit setting for the images wouldn’t have served the story as well. In addition to the candles and matches, I brought two large bags worth of lighting equipment to the shoot and didn’t end up using any of it.

The Daily Edit – GUP : Sebastian Palmer

- - The Daily Edit

Choque, 27, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.
Choque, 27, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.

José Maria, 55, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.

José Maria, 55, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.

Ariane, 19, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.

Ariane, 19, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.

Moisés, 36, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.

Moisés, 36, resident of Cracolândia; São Paulo, Brazil.

Patron Saint of Impossible Causes, Saint Rita de Cassia, is glued on the window overlooking the room; João, a kindergarten teacher has just become a grandfather. He has given up his home so that his daughter and grandchild have a better start in life.

Patron Saint of Impossible Causes, Saint Rita de Cassia, is glued on the window overlooking the room; João, a kindergarten teacher has just become a grandfather. He has given up his home so that his daughter and grandchild have a better start in life.

GOD’; Lisene currently works as a manicurist in an up-market salon. Working 6 days a week she has been able to save enough money to buy 2 cows for her brother who lives in the countryside and looks after her child. One day she hopes to travel.

GOD’; Lisene currently works as a manicurist in an up-market salon. Working 6 days a week she has been able to save enough money to buy 2 cows for her brother who lives in the countryside and looks after her child. One day she hopes to travel.

The orange cover of a book entitled “how to interpret your dreams” sits next to Kris; a single mother who lost all her savings due to fraud. Her sole income is from selling toys on the street corner.

The orange cover of a book entitled “how to interpret your dreams” sits next to Kris; a single mother who lost all her savings due to fraud. Her sole income is from selling toys on the street corner.

Edvaldo; a cook, works 7 days a week. Last year he won a competition to train as a chef in Europe but was disqualified when it was discovered he didn’t have a high enough literacy level.

Edvaldo; a cook, works 7 days a week. Last year he won a competition to train as a chef in Europe but was disqualified when it was discovered he didn’t have a high enough literacy level.

Tom Blomfield, founder + CEO of Mondo bank . Bloomberg Markets.

Tom Blomfield, founder + CEO of Mondo bank . Bloomberg Markets.

Baroness Denise Kingsmill, chairman of Mondo Bank. Bloomberg Markets.

Baroness Denise Kingsmill, chairman of Mondo Bank. Bloomberg Markets.



Guide to Unique Photography

Photographer: Sebastian Palmer

Heidi: How did the instagram take over come about, are you invited?
Sebastian: Yes. I was invited by GUP

Do you shoot new content for this or does it come from your archives?
All the content came from my archives. I guess that It would have been interesting to shoot a new project specifically for the takeover but the call came in quite late and at the time I was bogged down with other work in London (so maybe a fresh / new series of images might not have been possible anyway)

Is there a print component to this?
Yes. I will be featured in their 10th Anniversary issue. GUP #47 – The Big Ten
(showcasing images not posted in the takeover)

How do you decide what you are going to post over the course of the 10 days?
I wanted to keep to showing just my personal work. So I decided to post a small selection from those projects based in Brazil along with images that might help to explain my surroundings or way of thinking.

You studied French, History, Economics and Sociology prior to becoming a photographer. What was your turning point to become an artist?
I don’t really see there being a turning point such just a coming back to. I was always artistic and from a really young age I was always doing something creative (drawing, painting, sculpture, guitar etc etc etc)

However, when I went to a new school at the age of 13 it all fell by the wayside (for numerous reasons) and as the years progressed I began to focus on subjects that were “going to get me a good degree and make me successful in later life”…. it just took me a while to realize that I had been following the wrong path (whilst at university) and that I needed to get back to what I had left behind all those years ago.

Is PROJECTS in your portfolio an expression that combines your previous studies and your current life as an artist
Possibly, maybe….. It’s a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario (which one came first)…. I’m not sure how much those subjects actually influenced my work. I see it more in reverse, I chose the subjects because they interested me to some degree.

Artist Statements

[All images were shot on location in Cracolândia, São Paulo, Brasil]
Over the past 3 years I have been living with and photographing sections of Brazilian society that have been marginalised and discriminated against. It is my aim to create a body of work that raises awareness for vulnerable sections of society; to give them a voice and in doing so hope that measures can be taken to ensure that they live in dignity.
The latest chapter of my project focuses on crack-cocaine addicts.
I felt that shooting a portrait series of close up, black + white head shots was the best way to humanise my sitters – by minimising any distractions and allowing the viewer to come into direct face to face contact with them.
Although this subject matter has had a lot of exposure with Brazil hosting the World Cup, I believe that it has only worsened the situation by further dividing an already fractured society and reinforcing negative views and prejudices. Reportage style images often taken from a far and with no interaction have only helped to strengthen the “us” and “them” mentality.
Separate from us. Away from us. Far from us. Nothing to do with us.
In order to banish this misconception I needed to get as close to my subjects as possible.
To interact. To communicate. To participate. To let you look into their eyes and realise that they too are human beings; that they too are a part of this society in which we all belong.
Are we able to look at ourselves in the mirror and face uncomfortable truths?
In this series I have been living in an illegally occupied building in downtown São Paulo, Brazil with some of the 70,000 people that migrate to the city every year in search of a better life.
Often arriving from the countryside with little or no money, no skills and high rates of illiteracy their journey is a tough one. They can not afford to pay for rent and the majority can not find employment. Those that do manage to find a job are underpaid and often work 7 days a week to make ends meet.
Yet despite these conditions and the hardships that they face, everyone that I encountered found the strength to carry on through hope. It is this theme that I wanted to explore.
I have used diptychs as a means to expand the narrative. Always using items found close to or belonging to the subject. These detail shots are clues so often overlooked and dismissed but that I see as fragments of information which help to complete the puzzle.
All images are shot in camera. I have made use of long shutter, deliberate camera movement and the placing of items in front of the lens in order to allow me to create an aesthetic quality and my interpretation of the subjects’ utopia.
São Paulo Nights focuses on transgender prostitutes.
Transgender persons in Brazil are treated as 3rd class citizens. They are discriminated against on a daily basis and are marginalised by society.
They experience such injustices from an early age when they first appear to be different and as such many do not finish school.
Nonetheless, even those with an education still find it hard to find work. As a result, many turn to prostitution to make a living.
This, combined with the majority of societies fear, ignorance, hypocrisy and lack of education on the issues means transexuals are caught in an ongoing downward spiral of discrimination and marginalisation [being subject to violence, social exclusion, drug abuse, crime, exploitation and severe health risks].
Many of the photos were printed, then ‘tampered’ with (painted, etched, bleached, burnt etc) and then re-photographed in an attempt to portray not only Brazilian societies views + actions towards transgender persons but also the struggle and human injustices that they face on a daily basis.



Contact GUP here

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 5.00.18 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 5.00.24 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 5.00.29 PM

 Bloomberg Markets

What sort of direction did the magazine give you?
In the beginning I was sent through some reference shots of my own work so I could get a feel of what direction the magazine wanted to take the shoot.  However, although the style of the images looked similar they were all achieved by using different techniques and lighting setups. Also, they liked some elements from one shot and wanted to combine it with elements from another shot. So, we sat down and mapped out a rough plan of what we were going to shoot and how we were going to do it, with the understanding that things might change on the day.

Tell us how you used your creative freedom? Was it difficult to earn?
As mentioned above, nothing was set in stone, so to speak. Bloomberg understood that to achieve the look that they wanted we would have to experiment on the day. I like to see it as organized chaos. I set a starting point (a foundation) knowing that if I do steps 1+2 I will get a certain look. However, from there you can play around – get the subject to move more or less, move the camera, increase the number of flashes or their duration, play with shutter speeds etc etc etc – the possibilities are endless. Once you see the shots coming through you can decide to follow a certain path and push things in one direction or maybe dial it back and go another way.

No, I don’t think that it was difficult to earn. I think that it has more to do with the fact that Bloomberg were very open minded and willing to experiment. (something that I find a lot of the industry is scared to do these days by always playing it safe in the fear that they might upset what they believe their readers want to see)

Bloomberg is known for spectacular photography and creative leaps. Knowing this did you want to take some creative risks?
Of course. I think that it would be silly not to. On the day of the shoot we did try out many different things, some of which never made the final cut. However, there are always going to be constraints, such as time and money. Also, you have to be aware that you are working for a client and no matter how creative they are they still need to put together an issue where all of the photo pieces are going to tie together.

The Daily Edit – David Lopez: Have a Nice Day

- - The Daily Edit
Picture 032

Picture 032


Picture 016


Picture 014

Picture 031

wonderburger 001



Have a Nice Day

Photographer: David Lopez

“Have a Nice Day” is framed around the fast food industry. How did you develop this idea and what were you wanting to express?
After high school just about all of my friends were working in the fast food industry while trying to pay for college. Like most people in that line of work their favorite topic of conversation was sharing fast food horror stories. One of my favorite stories was from an employee that had to deal with a customer that was so upset that his food was taking a little longer than expected that he punched out the window screen at the counter. He received his food shortly after because apparently the customer is always right, even when they throw a tantrum and destroy company property. My friends all shared this similar feeling of frustration and belittlement so years later I began trying to capture the feeling that my friends were describing. It just so happened that at the time I began to develop this idea a friend of mine was starting a magazine (Compound Butter) that was focused on junk food and was looking for collaborators. So the first two portraits I shot for Have a Nice Day were used for her magazine. I received a lot of positive feedback from my professors at Art Center so the project took off from there.


Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 9.16.31 PM

Did you direct the workers ?
I try not to direct the workers much. I’m working very quickly when i’m shooting their portraits because they’re usually on their breaks and don’t want to deal with me. So I tend to pick a location beforehand and then let them inhabit the scene however they feel comfortable. At the very beginning of the project I was still getting comfortable approaching people so there were times that I spent up to an hour sitting in a restaurant waiting to get the courage to ask for a portrait. It’s been a great way to get me out of my comfort zone.

The images are graphic, have color pop, is that why you chose to shoot a doughnut; to have the color and graphic backbone get reinforced?
Yes! I’m glad you caught that because it’s something that’s very important to the project. From the very beginning I’ve been drawn to the relationship between the colorful environments juxtaposed against the unappreciated employees working behind the counter. It doesn’t matter what fast food restaurant I walk into I always feel like i’m being slapped in the face by this artificial experience that’s been manufactured to make me feel happy. It all goes back to the title of the project. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to constantly tell someone to have a nice day while you’re standing there having the worst day ever.

Did you drop the shake or was that a lucky find? What drew you to this, was it mix of graphic and organic shapes or more the “surprise” of a shake on the ground?
The shake on the floor was a lucky find or as my professor Ken Merfeld would say, “a gift from the photo gods.” I could’ve easily set up a shot like this but it’s really important for me to keep the project as honest and straight forward as possible. I may be the one documenting but at the end of the day I’m trying to tell the story of the under appreciated employee who has to go out clean up that mess.

How long did this body of work take?
I’ve been working on Have a Nice Day on and off for a year now. As a side project I’ve started collecting the receipts from the restaurants I photograph to have a written document that will explain why I’ve been gaining so much weight lately. My next project is going to have to involve some sort of physical exercise so I can even things out.

Will this be ongoing or a one-off for you?
This project is definitely something I plan on continuing. Especially right now while there is so much debate over minimum wage for fast food employees. New York and Los Angeles have raised the minimum wage up to $15 but many cities have yet to follow their lead. I’ve even begun to notice some restaurants implementing touch screens to replace wage earning humans. So this is a very crucial point for the narrative of the project that I need to document.

Did you give yourself a specific radius for the fast food places? 
I’m open to traveling as far as I have to for the right fast food restaurant. Right now I have my eye on a Del Taco that’s on the way to Las Vegas. Apparently it’s the first one that was opened so the design of the restaurant hasn’t been changed since 1964. There’s also a Taco Bell up north in Pacifica that’s been described as “the most beautiful Taco Bell in the world” it’s an isolated little lodge that sits right on the beach. I’ve seen some pictures on yelp and it has to be the strangest looking Taco Bell I have ever seen but I can’t wait to get up there. It’s also a good excuse to eat a cheesy gordita crunch with the sand in my toes.