Category "The Daily Edit"

The Daily Edit – Brian Bielmann: The Eddie

- - The Daily Edit

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 4.24.19 PM

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 4.24.28 PM

Surfing World

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

Tracks

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

Tow WAVES in Tahiti/2005

Tow WAVES in Tahiti/2005

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

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

AI19

Andy Irons Underwater Portrait005

BRIAN 2

John John Florence in West Australia

John John Florence in West Australia

scenics

underwater

underwater

VC274

north shore winter 2014

North Shore Winter 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 6.52.19 PM

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

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

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

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

You go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

image1

The Daily Edit – Brinson+Banks

- - The Daily Edit

Smithsonian_Cover_Spread-1

Smithsonian_Cover_Spread-2

px

px

Variety_SarahPaulson_002

Variety_SarahPaulson_003

Variety_SarahPaulson_001

Variety_Oscars_001

Variety_Oscars_002

Variety_Oscars_003

Variety_Oscars_004

Variety_Oscars_005

Variety_Oscars_006

Brinson+Banks

Smithsonian Magazine
Photography Director: Molly Roberts

Variety Magazine
Director of Photography: Bailey Franklin

The Washington Post
Features Photo Editor: Nicole Crowder

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

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 8.16.58 PM

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 8.17.15 PM

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 8.17.43 PM

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 8.17.50 PM


Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 8.18.09 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 20160209_Conan_OBrien_428

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

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

The Daily Edit – Hugh Kretschmer : Oprah Magazine

- - The Daily Edit
Dark_Cloud_Spread
Pill_Bottle_Final_with_Cap_Cropped
Therapy_Office_Final_2_Cropped
Unravelled_2_Final_Cropped
Upside_Down_Final_Cropped

Oprah Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 11.06.55 PM

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

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

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


Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 11.06.13 PM

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 11.06.47 PM

 

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

The Daily Edit – Marv Watson Photographer / Photo Editor

- - The Daily Edit

MW_LoL-World-Final_041013_0429League of Legends World Championship 2013 ( Staples Center )

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

_RV_4394Shoutcasters for League of Legends

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

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

Members of team EDG cheer on their team

 

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

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

Soren ‘Bjergson’ Bjerg of Team SoloMid

 

MW_BattleGrounds_231113_0520

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

Piglet of Team Liquid

 

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

Life ( Starcraft II )

Marv Watson

mrvphotography for Instagram


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                    Chris Sharma in Eureka, CA

MW_20150518_Chris-Sharma_0333

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

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

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

_RV_8724

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

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

Christmas-2014_0915

EG8V0404

IMG_2414


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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Edit: Psychology Today – Guzman

- - The Daily Edit

Odd Emotions 1 with type

Odd Emotions 2 with type

Guzman 1
Guzman 2

Guzman 3

Guzman 4

Psychology Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Edit – George McCalman: The Promo Process

- - The Daily Edit

MCCALMAN PROMO_CAROLINE SCHIFF 1

Caroline Schiff

MCCALMAN PROMO_JASON MADARA 1_

Jason Madara

MCCALMAN PROMO_JASON MADARA 2

Jason Madara

MCCALMAN PROMO_JOE PUGLIESE 1

Joe Pugliese

MCCALMAN PROMO_JOE PUGLIESE 2

Joe Pugliese

MCCALMAN PROMO_LINDA PUGLIESE 1

Linda Pugliese

MCCALMAN PROMO_LINDA PUGLIESE 2

Linda Pugliese

MCCALMAN PROMO_JESSICA ANTOLA 1

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

141020SKSTajikistanMoto8887

150608SKSTajikistanMoto2540

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
TIME


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Edit – Kenji Aoki: Real Simple

- - 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

ESPN.com

Photo Editor: Kaitlin Marron
Photographer: Narayan Mahon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily Edit – Floto + Warner: Architectural Digest

- - The Daily Edit

1215-AD-VIEW

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

Screen-Shot-2015-12-09-at-6.39.48-PM

Screen-Shot-2015-12-09-at-6.39.43-PM

Screen-Shot-2015-12-09-at-6.39.37-PM

Screen-Shot-2015-12-09-at-6.39.29-PM

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, www.icehuts.ca, 416-755-7742

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

NYMAG100Parties01

NYMAG100Parties02

NYMAG100Parties03

NYMAG100Parties04

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

Focus_SvenLiam

Elevation Outdoors
Editor-in-Chief/Photo Director: Doug Schnitzpahn
Powder
Director of Photography: David Reddick
SKI/Skiing
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.
latitudes
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.
Liam-Doran-0036

Liam-Doran-0039

 

 

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

unnamed

unnamed-1
unnamed-2

unnamed-3

unnamed-4

unnamed-5

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?
Mitch:
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

CD_2014_0601_NYC_2631

 

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

CD_2014_0601_NYC_0080 copy

CD_2014_0601_NYC_0625

CD_2014_0601_NYC_1076

 

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

CD_2014_0601_NYC_2206
CD_2014_0601_NYC_2242
CD_2014_0601_NYC_2413
CD_2014_0601_NYC_2550

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 Cameron@camerondavidson.com for usage.

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

Photograph by Cameron Davidson All Rights reserved/© Cameron Davidson Cameron@camerondavidson.com 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.