Category "The Daily Edit"

The Daily Edit – Mark Peterson: Men’s Journal

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Men’s Journal

Creative Director: David Schlow
Director of Photography: Catriona Ni Aolain
Art Director: Todd Weinberger
Deputy Art Director: Kim Gray
Deputy Photography Editor: Jennifer Santana
Associate Photography Editor: Amy McNulty
Photographer: Mark Peterson

Did the magazine know you were from Minnesota and did that have an influence you being awarded the job?

When Catriona Ni Aolain the director of photography at Men’s Journal contacted me I think she assigned me because of my series Political Theatre. So I was looking forward to going back to Minnesota and photographing Jesse “The Body” Ventura.

Had you met the subject previously?

Yes. Jesse Ventura was a pro wrestler in the 80’s in Minnesota.  One of the first things I photographed when I started was pro wrestling.  Then a decade later when Ventura was elected to office in Minnesota I went back for Newsweekmagazine to photograph him.  He was always a great show, as a wrestler or Governor.

Describe your interaction on set.

I meet the former Gov. at his country club so that I could photograph him golfing. It was a cold raining November day in Minnesota so Jesse said he wasn’t going to play golf.  So we just wondered around the clubhouse looking for something that was visual to the story. Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura was talking nonstop about politics and himself so it was hard to concentrate on what I was doing.  Jesse is a true American Character…larger then life.

I love the range or scale shift in the Political Theatre gallery. Do the subjects realize you are shooting them that close or even register you are there?

The politicians know the press is there as there can be dozens of us trying to get a answer or a photo.  It’s like a kids soccer game where everyone surrounds the ball and just kicks at it.

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Is some of your close up work a result of the event “scrums”? 

I started to take very close pictures of the Gov. Christie because he has a reputation of being aggressive and I wanted to show that.  One of the first pictures I took for the Political Theatre series was a tight shot of his mouth while he was shouting at someone.  I wanted to show his aggressive appetite.

In a few words describe this body of work for us, how do you chose the edits, the direction, how calculated is this?

I started the series Political Theatre in reaction to a Tea Party rally on the lawn of the US Capitol.  The pictures I took didn’t show how fake the event was and how it was just a stage for politicians to get on TV.  So after that I started to shoot the pictures with my DSLR and then run them thru my cell phone apps to give them a dramatic look. I am trying to have fun with a subject that at times can be very boring and staged.

The Daily Edit – Dan Saelinger : Men’s Health

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Men’s Health

Creative Director:  Tom O’Quinn
Photo Director:  Jeanne Graves
Photo Editor: Don Kinsella
Photographer: Dan Saelinger
Stylist: Dominique Baynes

What sort of creative direction did you get from the magazine? 
I’m very fortunate that often times when clients approach me the direction is relatively open ended.  I think they are very aware when hiring me of the type of work I produce and that it requires a lot of thought and creative decision making on my end to make it successful.   Don Kinsella (the PE on the project) just asked the the images feel energetic and interesting and hit home the point of the content.  

What was the initial idea and how did you develop it?
The story was about paths of success to a better career and the magazine initially approached me with an overall idea of an office worker taking off or being propelled in some fashion and tasked me with creating a set of three images. As if often the case with an ambitious project we had to take into consideration budget restrictions and Don and his team decided it best to create two great final images rather than sacrifice quality to make three.  Don and I had a couple creative chats and were able to verbally narrow things down pretty quickly and settled on the idea of a guy in a jetpack and a chainsaw cutting through a cubicle.
How do most of your ideas come to life? Is there a sketch process?  
There is definitely a sketch process for the majority of my work.  I find it helps to build trust in the final concept and works as a great tool towards pushing a client into a riskier endeavor.  Also being that I’m located in Portland now I think it eases the fact that the client won’t be on set and sets up for expectations better. Generally I ask the client to provide headlines and text.  I try not to get bogged down too much in the literal aspect of the story and try to pull out key ideas or phrases to help form ideas.
Is there a certain time of day or situation when your best ideas surface?
 I like to let things digest and normally sit on it for a day or two as the the ideas will often come late at night or while driving to work, sometimes even in the shower (the best ones always do).  Either way I like to let things brew, I find when forcing myself to sit down and sketch I often don’t get anywhere.
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How long did it take to build the sets?
Most editorial budgets require us to condense time wherever possible and my team and I have become pretty darn efficient on set builds.  I keep several rolling wall flats in my studio, a variety of flooring and background props so that we can assemble these on short notice.  The challenge on this was really building the cotton rocket effect so the stylist began a day prior building a frame out of chicken wire. Otherwise the rest was assembled and shot the same day.

Since a lot of your ideas are conceptual I’d imagine you have your team of prop stylist and set builders. What made you chose this prop person?
I’m fortunate to have built a tight knit crew out here in Portland and have a couple of go to people for different tasks.  The stylist on this particular shoot, Dominique Baynes has a similar background to myself as a NYC transplant out here in Portland.  So she understands the demands and limitations of an editorial project quite well.  This shoot required the building of the cloud effect which she’s very experienced in and has done for me before as well a building a jetpack on a tight budget and fortunately she has knack for making the impossible possible.  In general we have a similar aesthetic as well which helps in creating this kind of complex conceptual work efficiently.
I love the analogue nature of this work, what made you refrain from compositing layers of images?
I have a general philosophy with my work to do what ever I can in camera.  I’m an absolute fanatic of all things props, so if it can be made and we can afford to do it will go that route.  While I’m a big user of photoshop and am incorporating CGI more and more into some of my work I think things can often get a bit cheesy and over processed looking.  There’s definitely a certain charm to an image with a traditional analogue approach and I try to make sure which ever way I go it was a choice based on creating the best possible image for each particular assignment.
Did you choose cotton rather than fog juice or any other special effect because it would have been to hard to control and last.
Not really.  I’ve done a lot of stuff using fog effect and it can be manipulated pretty easily in photoshop, and much more forgiving if its not captured perfectly in camera.  It was purely an aesthetic choice on my part.  I think the image is much more successful because of how the rocket smoke was handled, its really integral to the overall analogue feel I was aiming for.
Any particular difficulties along the way?
Not so much that anything that was super difficult – there are always a couple surprises in this line of work.  Often when I do conceptual work its there is something we do for the first time, in this case we had to figure out how to chainsaw the cubicle wall.  Of course it wasn’t simple as just taking the chainsaw to it. there was quite a bit of precision sawing and dissecting as well as drywall thrown at the chainsaw while in action to give the effect of it actually cutting through.

The Daily Edit – Vanity Fair: Sam Jones

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Vanity Fair

Design Director: Chris Dixon
Photo Director: Susan White
Photo Editor: Ron Beinner
Photographer: Sam Jones
Set Design: Matt Davidson
Producer: Carol Cohen

I have to ask the obvious, is that a set?
Yes. We built that set for the shoot. We carefully measured the elephant’s width and height, then created the set just four inches bigger keeping in mind the proportions of the magazine spread, where the gutter fell; it was all calculated out ahead of time.

How was the elephant, was she easy to work with?
Tai was a 46 year old and very intelligent. She arrived with her wrangler and our adjustments were very subtle, like parallel parking a car, moving 3 inches here and there, she was responsive and so easy.  A situation like this can be fraught with peril as you can imagine, thankfully it was a great day on set.

How did the talent react when you talked about shooting him with the elephant?
I knew from working with Bradley on the Hangover posters that he loved animals, that put me at ease. Once we brought her in, they spent time connecting and getting comfortable around each other. Of course the wrangler was always there to watch over, that said Bradley was comfortable and trusted her enough let her wrap her trunk around him and lift him over her head.


View the BTS about the shoot here

How did you explain the shoot to talent and the magazine?
I didn’t. This clearly goes against conventional wisdom not to tell talent you plan on shooting them with a six ton elephant but I thought telling someone about the picture ran the risk of this idea getting shut down.

We all see images in our mind when something is described, that’s uncontrollable.

Once a visual is stuck in someones mind whatever it may be, it’s difficult to have them see what you see or alter it. Our own visual catalogue comes into play, and everyone has a different reel.

Past experience has taught me to show people rather then try to explain. We went ahead and had the entire set built, rented the animal and then when talent walked in they saw exactly what was going on. If for some reason Bradley shut down the idea, the worst that could happen was VF rented an elephant for the day.  As I said earlier, I knew Bradley liked and connected with animals, I simply focused on that.

I’ve developed a strong relationship with the magazine.  Here I had this great opportunity to create a unique image, it’s not often those projects roll around, so when the resources and creative freedom present themselves, you make the most of it. The magazine trusts me, which is a great position to be in, what really underscored our relationship was me suggesting to them this is a black and white photo and they agreed.

When I shot Martin Short with the cats I remember how highly trained animals can be. For that shot the wrangler could signal the cat to pretend he was peeing. Knowing that, I asked the wrangler to direct her to curl her trunk and open her mouth as if she was going to trumpet, that detail takes the photo to another level with Bradley sitting there looking rather annoyed.

How much time did you have for this shoot?
We had a day of set building and a prelight day, the actual shoot day was about six hours in total; Bradley had a hard out at noon.  Originally we were going to shoot this in NYC,  we had a full day with talent shooting in Central Park, then the shoot switched to LA. That change of plan gave me time to come up with this new idea. I had a week to get the set built, fully comp up the idea and get creative approved with the magazine.

My team arrived on set at 4:00 am, Bradley came at 6:00 am, and we wrapped on time.  I was pleased to have such commitment on his end to come that early and dedicate himself to the shoot. It’s not often things align like this, it’s great when the opportunity arises.  It’s all about knowing when everything is there for you to make the best picture possible and there’s no excuses of why it didn’t turn out the way you wanted.

The Daily Edit – More Magazine: Emily Shur

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More Magazine

Creative Director: Debra Bishop

Senior Art Director: Jamie Prokell

Photo Director: Natasha Lunn

Associate Photo Editor: Stephanie Swanicke

Assistant Photo Editor: Gabreille Sirkin

Photographer: Emily Shur

Who did the graphic sign for the first shot did that come from the magazine?
Yes the lettering on the sign came from the magazine.  This shot was conceived ahead of time because the art director knew he was going to use this image as the opener.  The magazine asked me to photograph Nadia (our model) with and without the piece of cardboard she’s holding.

Styling and casting seem essential for this project. Who was the stylist and what made you choose this person
The stylist was Jessie Cohan, and she did an amazing job.  I was really hoping to work with a stylist on this shoot that could elevate the images.  I loved Jessie’s sensibility, and she had a great mix of shoots on her site from sculptural high fashion to more bohemian feeling stories that looked like they had a blend of vintage and current pieces.  Since this wasn’t technically a fashion story, we weren’t limited to certain brands or seasons.  So, I wanted to do what felt right for the different shots.  I also wanted to find the right styling balance where everything felt fresh and modern even though our girl in the story was supposed to be kind of a mess.

Tell me about the collaboration with the magazine, how did that unfold?
The magazine had a very clear vision of what they wanted the images to look like.  They used a past shoot of mine as reference for the light and color palette which was great.  It’s helpful for me to have direction when I start thinking about a shoot so I can visualize the images before I make them.  So, we had that as a starting point and then we worked together to collaborate on the five different shots and what our model should be doing in each one.  The story was already written so we had five specific branding-challenged “characters” we were going to be shooting.

What were you looking for in the casting? Long hair must have been essential for the looks, what else?
I actually didn’t think too much about the hair!  I sort of figured we could use wigs if needed, but having a model with red hair was a huge bonus in the end.  I was mainly looking for someone who was comedic and expressive.  Casting this was the most difficult part of the pre-production process for sure.  We saw lots of pictures of attractive women, but none of them really screamed COMEDY to me.  I ultimately needed a really great comedic actress who wasn’t solely concerned with looking pretty.  Nadia Quinn came to us sort of in the eleventh hour on a recommendation from a casting director in NY.  The magazine wound up flying her out to LA for the shoot, and she really was my dream girl. 

Did you have any reference to the looks you were going for?
We had all of the ideas pretty well nailed down before the shoot. For example, we knew one shot was going to be a drill sergeant, one was going to be so bland she blended into the background, one was going to be an over-zealous karaoke singer, etc.  I didn’t have many visual references for the characters, but I had enough conversations with the magazine to feel comfortable going in and just doing it.  And as I said before, I did have strong lighting and color references so I knew where I was going with that from the start.

What made you choose that color background?
The background is actually just a white cyc so the color comes from the color profile I used to process the images…and then of course some Photoshop love in post.  It’s a profile I made on an older shoot (that was used as reference by the magazine).

Have you ever directed a model this much before? Tell me about the shoot process, did you talk it over before you started shooting
This was definitely on the high side of the spectrum in terms of how much I directed Nadia.  We discussed every shot before we got going.  I would give her the general idea…some were meant to be more subtle and some were clearly more big.  While we were shooting I’d call out little tweaks for her to make and she took direction amazingly.  This type of shoot would’ve never been successful if that communication wasn’t there.

Was this a multi day shoot?
Nope – we got it all done in one day.

What was your biggest concern going into this shoot? 
My biggest concern was that one element wouldn’t be as strong as the others and bring the shoot down.  Luckily we had such a great team – wardrobe, hair, make-up, props, talent, etc. – and there was no weak link.  Everyone was dedicated to the story and worked so hard.

What surprised you the most?
I think what surprised me the most was how seamlessly everything came together on set.  There were many people on this shoot I hadn’t worked with before, and that can really go either way.  Not only was everyone so good at their jobs…everyone was nice and happy and we all had fun.  It was really the best case scenario.

The Daily Edit – Joao Canziani Dance Series and Fader Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

Emily Oldak, Queens. NY




Drew Jacoby

Anne Yoon in Los Angeles

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Dancer Bryan Arias in East Harlem and Queens

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Dance Series: Personal Project

Photographer: Joao Canziani


Executive Editor:  Jessica Robertson
Style Editor at Large: Mobolaji Dawodu
Creative Directors: ETC (Everything Type Company) Geoff Halber and Kyle Blue

Photo Director: Geordie Wood
Photographer: Joao Canziani

Heidi: What inspired you to start this body of work?

Joao: I watched a documentary called Pina (directed by Wim Wenders) a couple of years ago, and I was blown away. How dance could be abstract and energetic and seemingly random and chaotic but still cathartic. It sent chills down my spine, particularly watching it in 3D (I don’t need 3D in movies, but for this one it was truly worth it). It planted a seed. So I talked to a friend of mine who is an amazing professional dancer to do a test shoot with her. At the time I was mostly interested in stillness and getting portraits of her. I liked the pictures very much, but the more I looked at them, the more I thought this could be a continuing series with different dancers.

How do you select your subjects?

I picked my dancer friend’s brain, and she gave me a long list of dancers that she knew. She introduced me to a few of them via Facebook or email. So I started getting in touch with them. I met with whoever was interested, and decided to talk to them extensively before the shoot. That was actually the most inspiring aspect of this process, to find out about their upbringing, their lives, why they got into dancing, what they wanted to accomplish in the future… It made me realize that this could be a very fruitful collaboration.

Are these multi day shoots?

Yeah, I shot each dancer in one day.

Describe a typical session, it’s there some structure or is it fluid? ( do have a set of criteria for each series? )

A little structure, and then the rest to chance. The shoot day starts early with scouting some locations around the area where the dancer lives. Usually that takes a couple hours or more. Then we pick him or her up from their home and head from one location to the other. Typically I’d like to have three or four locations per session. That’s the only structure, the locations. But I’ve realized they’re very important, because they contribute to the consistency of the whole series. We’ve gotten lucky with that! Whenever we shot in New York, we always managed to get into an empty racquetball court. It was like having a natural light studio with a beautiful wall for free. And the last dancer I shot, we were able to shoot inside a huge empty public pool. (It’s incredible what you can get away with in this city if you just push a little.)

But I digress. The fluid part is the most fun, obviously. Whereas — as I mentioned before — I was mostly interested in formal portraits of the dancers when I began this series, the shoots quickly became a mix of capturing movement and portraits. My only goal really was to freeze the action in a way that made them seem weightless and abstract and surreal. And particularly something I hadn’t seen before in dancing pictures. The rest was letting them do their thing as they knew best.

Are you doing these through out your travel assigns or do you travel for specific dancers?

Most of these I shot while I had some free time in NYC. One other one that I shot while I was on assignment in LA. I’m hoping that next year I can find other dancers in places other than the US, to have a variety of locations.

Is there any type of music when these shoots are happening, how does the talent get into form?

We shot most of these sessions without music, except for the last one, which was actually extremely helpful. I decided to shoot a little video for this one (which I’m still cutting and should be ready in a couple weeks), and as we were shooting on the racquetball court, my assistant put on a playlist on a little Jambox. This song called Reflektor by Arcade Fire came on, and Emily the dancer began to move so incredibly that we all really got in the groove. It was magical!

What are you goals with this, a show, a book?

Honestly, a book or a show has crossed my mind, but for the moment I’m just enjoying shooting something that is so collaborative and creative yet I can truly call my own. For either a show or a book to happen I have to keep on shooting more.

How do you approach the individual and the collective edit for this?

 I learn a little bit about them and their aspirations by meeting them beforehand. I do tell them though that I’m not interested in shooting the typical images you see out there of dancers — particularly ballet dancers — that can end up being so clichéd and cheesy. Once we’re shooting I let them do their thing, every so often telling them to repeat a movement that looked great, or to try something similar. If I end up capturing something a bit off-kilter, or jarring, or abstract, that also evokes a bit of narrative, then I’m happy. If it makes you ask, “what’s happening here?” then I’m happy.

As for the overall edit, I try as best as I can to have some variety in each session between locations. But also make sure that from one image to the next there is a bit of dynamic range. Some wider shots paired with some more close up, and so forth.

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Let’s talk a little about your Fader cover: How long did you have with the subject?

Four hours or so total: hair and make-up, plus change of wardrobe. So at the end it felt more like an hour and a half or less of just shooting.

What led to this particular body position?

I don’t recall exactly, but Nicki certainly knew what she was doing. The magazine’s style director put on some music that Nicki liked and she moved and danced away. I was particularly interested in those in-between moments of stillness, or where it felt more of a portrait. This was one of those moments that probably lasted a click or two and then it was gone.

Was your dance inspired by this project or vice versa?

It’s funny how for me every recent project informs the newest ones, often subconsciously. I find myself looking back to find inspiration or ideas, sometimes ideas that I didn’t use before or that weren’t as successful that I want to try again. In this case, the dancers happened first, so it was funny how I ended up getting this assignment shooting Nicki Minaj that employed a similar method of capturing her still while she moved to the music.

What type of creative direction did you get from the magazine?

We talked a lot about creative direction before the shoot happened. They had some ideas but also asked for my input and also for a mood board, which I was very excited about. The challenge was that all the previous cover stories shot for The Fader had been shot on location over two days, so they could fill 10-plus pages with a good variety of pictures. This was the first time, I think, that they had to shoot a subject that could only give them one day, in a studio, and four hours at that. So they called me! (Haha.) Since there was going to be a few wardrobe changes, what about using different colored backdrops to complement the different wardrobe, but then also using textiles as backdrops too — a bit inspired by the portraits of Seydou Keita —  to have greater variety. They really liked this idea, but this meant having some extra help with set design if we were to pull it off in four hours. I ended up hiring a producer (also because shooting someone the caliber of Nicki Minaj meant she came with quite a hefty rider, and I had no time or resources to deal with that myself), and he found an amazing set designer that was willing to collaborate with me. I flew to LA, and as soon as I landed, I found out that due to some miscommunication, Nicki was unable to shoot the day that had been scheduled. Oh well… I decided to meet with Lauren, the set designer, anyway, and sort out all the set logistics, including picking the textiles for the backdrops in downtown LA. For a moment there I thought this shoot was never going to happen, but thankfully, it got rescheduled.

The Daily Edit – Maren Caruso: GFF Magazine

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Creative Director: Maren Caruso
Editor-in-Chief: Erika Lenkert
Designer: Catherine Jacobes

What prompted you to start your own magazine?
I’ve been shooting food for magazines and cookbooks over 15 years. The subject of food photography casts a wide net of photo opportunities that include not only plated food shots but a portrait of the chef, the ingredients growing in the earth, interiors of restaurant, detail shots of place, documenting chefs cooking and people coming together to celebrate and eat. Most of my commercial work requires me to shoot a plated recipe or food product. GFF Magazine is the perfect outlet for me to shoot all aspects of food. I was approached by Erika Lenkert; a friend and writer, to help make a gluten-free magazine come to life. It was just the kind of project I needed and more. It has led me to creative directing, shooting a range of stories and collaborating with smart ambitious individuals.

How many people are currently on staff?
Two, myself and Erika Lenkert.

Are you planning a print version?
GFF Magazine was designed to be a print Magazine. We spent a lot of time selecting paper stock, paper weight and a premier printer to create the smooth vibrant experience when flipping through the pages. We have our fall issue on newsstands now and available in many Whole Foods across the country as well as select retail stores. You can get or gift a subscription at

Why a gluten free magazine?
There is room for a playful, upbeat gluten-free magazine with creative amazing food that doesn’t remind you of what you are living without. Gluten-free recipes are in high demand and it can be overwhelming to weed through all of the recipes that are online. GFF is a great place to find tightly curated recipes that won’t disappoint.

What sets your project apart from other food magazines?
What makes GFF Magazine stand out from other food magazines is that it’s playful and inspires you to get down and cook. It takes food seriously in that the recipes are seriously amazing but the stories and imagery are upbeat and fun.
GFF Magazine features inspirational cooking including stories about real people making really great food that just happens to be gluten-free.

What’s been the steepest learning curve for this process? 
Asking people for help and guidance has been a huge learning curve. I quickly learned that sitting back and hoping that everyone will find out about our new venture was not an option. We had to shout out from the top of every mountain and tell people why they should believe in us and what we were doing. It’s amazing how many people did. We raised close to $95,000 on Kickstarter which confirmed the importance of reaching out and asking for support. It also proved to us that there is a real interest in a new indie food magazine focusing on gluten-free fare. We continue to ask for support and help from fellow magazine founders and contributers and business minded friends. It takes a village and tapping into our contacts and resources continues to make our magazine a reality.

How much creative freedom does this project offer you?
I have a lot of creative freedom within the parameters of the photographs that visually support the text with delicious looking food.  For now, GFF Magazine is fulfilling my desire to shoot food in all of its forms and tell stories through my photos.

Did you shoot all of these spreads?
Yes, I shot everything in the magazine.

You had exceeded your goal for kickstarter, did you do any fund raising events?
No fundraising events; just asked everyone we knew to help.
Where do you see the magazine in a 2 years?
In 2 years we hope that we will have enough subscribers so that we can afford to pay people to help us out. We also plan in have a hefty online store by then.

How do we subscribe?
You can subscribe to GFF Magazine online at – it’s a great holiday gift!

How can photographers, writers reach out to you?
Email us at

The Daily Edit – Modern Farmer

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Art Director: Sarah Gephart, MGMT. design

Photography Directors: Luise Stauss and Ayanna Quint, Stauss & Quint

Photographers: Richard BaileyHenk WildschutGrant CornettDaniel SheaLauren FleishmanTom SchierlitzRush JagoeAlexi HobbsCedric Angeles


How long has your studio been in business; aside from Modern Farmer, who are some of your other clients? 
LS&AQ: We started our studio Stauss & Quint at the beginning of this year and work with design firms, book publishers, online magazines and custom publications. Some of our clients include Pentagram, Ten Speed Press and Medium. We really enjoyed working together on Modern Farmer and decided that as a team we could offer clients a great network of photographers as well as years of experience in photo art direction and shoot production. Our goal is to bring our editorial eye to a wide range of clients.

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Overall, what is the photographic direction for the magazine?
LS & AQ: Farming and agriculture are diverse subjects, encompassing many different global issues which are so rich photographically. We cover everything from food production to climate change to politics. What’s been exciting for us has been the international focus of the stories, what has given us the opportunity to work with photographers on every continent. We are drawn to photographers who are passionate about their work and curious about the world around them. Many of their personal projects and editorial work display a sensitivity and humanity without being sentimental. For example, we ran a photo essay by Cedric Angeles that was a personal project he had been working on about shepherds worldwide for the past 20 years. While working on assignments for more glamorous stories, he carved out time to document the life of local herders. He isn’t afraid show how difficult the farming life is while still creating beautiful and arresting images.


Tell us about the genesis of this magazine and who are your subscribers?
LS & AQ: Modern Farmer in the brainchild of Ann Marie Gardner. Luise worked very closely with her and Art Director Sarah Gephart of MGMT. design studio to develop the look and feel for the prototype; Ayanna came on board for the first issue and as the issue came together we refined that further. Modern Farmer is for anyone who cares about where their food comes from and the demographics of the subscribers represent that. It runs the gamut from 3rd and 4th generation farmers to those who can only grow basil in their kitchen window. The goal is to provide in-depth reporting that is entirely approachable no matter your agriculture background.


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Can you share the cover direction? It is always an animal portrait to set the magazine apart from others?
LS & AQ: As the first issue was coming together, we were defining the aesthetic of the magazine and looking for an image that was striking and would set us apart on the newsstand. It was an organic process, working with the art director, Sarah Gephart, and the editors to refine that vision. Richard Bailey’s rooster was one of many options we tried for the cover, but we knew the minute we saw it that it worked. He really is a handsome rooster! The great thing about having an animal on the cover of each issue is that it allows for many different audiences to identify with the magazine. Richard has shot every cover since then and these animal portraits have really come to define the visual identity of Modern Farmer.

Are there handlers for these animals and are they hired, or actual farm animals; about how long is a cover session?
LS: All the covers shoots take place in the UK, where Richard is based. A session usually takes from a couple of hours to half a day at most. There are no professional handlers but because we shoot at active farms, the farm hands help keep things under control. The animals are in constant motion and have to be walked and maneuvered back and forth in front of the back drop so it requires patience. When a 500 pound pig or a Mammoth Jack donkey or a British Blonde Bull doesn’t want to be somewhere, no-one is going to stop it.


What are the typical discussions with the photographers for the covers?
We shoot a variety of breeds for the inside and for the cover we look for the animal where the strongest character and personality come through. This makes for some funny cover discussions when you are talking about a pig. Each breed has a society, like the British Goat Society which connects breeders with farmers and it is through them that we find our subjects. Richard then travels all over the UK for the shoots. For the goat feature he found the only small farmer in the UK who breeds Nigerian Dwarf goats on a smallholding in Lincolnshire next to a Royal Air Force base. As he arrived, there were maneuvers going on in the air, as WW2 Lancaster bombers and spitfires flew low overhead in preparation for a show the following weekend and there were maneuvers going on in the farm. Richard was ushered straight in to the barn to see twins being born to one of the does. The farmer immediately named them after Richard and his assistant.

How do you use instagram as a photo source?
AQ: I’ve never hired someone based solely on their Instagram photos, but I do use it to see what photographers I like are up to, whether I’ve had the chance to work with them or not. I also use it to keep track of where people are and if they are traveling. We recently assigned a big photo essay to Bryan Schutmaat for another client because I saw that he was working out West and, I should add, posting some amazing images.

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Do you meet with many of your photographers prior to shooting with them?
LS: We  meet with photographers as often as we can. We were looking at Rush Jagoe’s book this Fall and he mentioned a farming collective in New Orleans of out-of-work fishermen, who built a Growers Initiative in reaction to the natural disasters they lived through. Luckily, the lineup was just coming together for the upcoming issue and we were able to include his pitch in the issue.
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Do you scan the news and see who is shooting farming related content?
LS: We always keep an eye on gallery shows, photo blogs, books and festivals, and make note of good photography around food production and agriculture. I saw Henk Wildschut’s book ‘Food’ at Paris Photo last year and was impressed by the depth of his research. Starting in 1975 the Rijksmuseum’s department History of the Netherlands has given an annual assignment to a photographer, including an exhibition, titled Document the Netherlands, with the idea to register a current aspect of Dutch society in a series of photographs. Henk had shot large scale Food production in Holland over the course of 2 years creating perceptive and emotive images, making it a perfect marriage of photographer and story for this Modern Farmer piece.
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Tell me about the direction for the food waste project. What was the creative brief to Grant?
LS: The brief was to create images for a 10 page package on how, why and where edible food gets thrown out, amounting to half of the total food supply in the US, which is wasted in every step of the food chain: from farm to retail to consumers. Grant’s work had caught my eye while working on the food pages of the New York Times Magazine and I was looking for an opportunity to work with him. His graphic studies of food as objects as in his Beautiful Decay series made him a great match for this project. Grant often works with the food Stylist Maggie Ruggiero and the set designer Theo Vamvounakis, both huge talents. Their collaboration on Gather Magazine is really impressive. I was lucky to get them together for this assignment. 
I worked closely with the editor Reyhan Harmanci on the waste statistics to give to the team. One of the challenges on reporting that was the lack of great numbers, which underlined how much we need to improve on not wasting food–no one was counting! We ended using two main sources: FAO, a UN group that has done a lot of work on food security and infrastructure and a University of Arizona researcher who treated garbage as archaeological remains. He literally dug in America’s trash to catalog what we ate and what we tossed. That research allowed us to then recreate the average American food waste in the main photos.
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What made you choose Daniel Shea for the GMO project?
AQ: I’d worked with Daniel before at The Atlantic and am a huge fan of him and his work. His portraits are wonderful of course and he’s done some personal projects (Blisner, IL and Coal Work)  that have a real engagement with the landscape and the environment so I thought he’d be a good fit. There’s a real poetry to the way his subjects interact with the world around them but he’s able to translate that well for an editorial shoot so the images remain grounded in the story.  I had been looking for a chance to work with him from the first issue and was glad it came together so quickly. It took 7 issues before we were able to work with Alexi Hobbs, who has a great story in the issue that’s coming out next month. There are so many great photographers out there, and so few assignments!
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I see that you’ve hired Lauren Fleishman, did you follow her blog, Rise and Shine with Me? Had you worked with her before?
AQ: I follow Lauren on Instagram and had kept track of her for over a decade but hadn’t had the chance to assign her anything. She’s now based in Paris and I thought her work was a good fit for the magazine. When I contacted her, she mentioned that she’d always wanted to shoot at a farm but hadn’t had the opportunity yet. She really made the most of the shoot and captured so many aspects of this beautiful farm. The outtake that we used on the TOC is so lush and earthy, you can almost smell the soil. The shoot happened to fall on her birthday. Perrine somehow found out and gave her a huge bag of vegetables as a gift to take back to the city with her.

Do you use your still life opportunities to off set or surprise the readers?
LS: It is great to be able to create a polished and poppy product shoot for a farming magazine where it’s so unexpected. It’s also an opportunity to work with talented set designers such as Angharad Bailey. Together with the great Tom Schierlitz she conceived a crisp and graphic story that brought a strong sense of design in sharp contrast to the environmental images running throughout the rest of the magazine.

The Daily Edit – Gabriela Herman : Rodeo Queens/Cosmopolitan

- - The Daily Edit

Rodeo Queens - August 2014

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Photographer: Gabriela Herman
Text and reporting: Kelly Williams Brown
Design: Tyson Evans


Art Director: Mariana Tuma ( freelance )
Photo Director:
Alix Campbell
Photo Editor: Allie Kircher

Heidi: Did Cosmopolitan commission this project or did you bring this idea forward?

Gabriela: This was a commissioned assignment for Cosmo and my first assignment for them. They contacted me in the summer of last year after seeing a story I had shot for Martha Stewart Living on the Kutztown Folk Festival. The first part of the rodeo shoot had a sort of similar, small-town fair vibe, which I think was a parallel. I was very fortunate to be teamed up with a writer, Kelly Williams Brown, who pitched the story to Cosmo and who became a good friend throughout the process.

How many days/weeks did it take to shoot this?

The shoot was split into three trips out West over five months. For the first trip, we went to Corvallis, OR, to the home of Nicole Schrock, who was Miss Rodeo Oregon and the main character of the story. We followed her around at home, on her family’s farm and the local county fair. The second trip started in Portland, OR, where Nicole was joined by five other state queens and we toured around Oregon for a week before arriving at the Pendleton Rodeo, one of the largest and most historic in the country. (Fun fact: At Pendleton, press is required to be in ‘rodeo wear’ meaning cowboy boots, a cowboy hat and appropriate western shirt, so I actually got a budget from Cosmo to purchase these items!) This was probably my favorite trip as it felt like I was just tagging along on a vacation with a group of awesome girls, plus I loved the reactions from walking around town with a gaggle of rodeo queens in tow. Lastly, we travelled to Las Vegas where the Miss Rodeo American competition takes place during the National Rodeo Finals, which is a huge event, cowboys everywhere!

What specifically does “expanded from an assignment” mean?

The story ran in the July issue this summer.  Due to editorial constraints Kelly’s article was condensed into an intro for the photo essay and they published only a tiny portion the material that I had shot. Cosmo’s edit, understandably, was also very different than what I would show. Kelly and I talked a few weeks after it published and realized that we both had so much good material that we didn’t want it to go to waste and discussed how we could expand it. I knew I wanted to make a physical piece as a promo and I wanted for Kelly to share her full story in the way that she originally intended. The result was twofold: this promo book that highlights the photos with Kelly’s reporting interspersed throughout and a post on Medium with her full article and my photos. This was my first time working with Medium and while its geared toward text over imagery, it feels like it was the perfect place for our story to live. It was promoted by Medium, along with our outreach, and has been viewed over 21,000 times.

Was this promo a difficult edit? How many images were considered? 

Yes! Isn’t every project difficult to edit? I shot over 4,000 images and there were probably around 250 that I handed into Cosmo and about 70 I was considering for the promo. One of the tricky things for me was choosing an image on the strength of the image versus the strength of the story. Unfortunately the last trip in Vegas, which was the grand culmination of everything — especially all the amazing sequined outfits — took place entirely under the fluorescent lights of the MGM Grand conference rooms. I had the least access to the girls, who were under constant chaperoned supervision. I knew it was important to show this in the story, but I didn’t feel they were the strongest images, so I only included two at the end to round out the story with the final shot of the newly crowned Miss Rodeo America. It’s not my favorite, but I felt like I needed that conclusion. There were also a few days on the second Oregon trip where the girls weren’t on queening duty and were just dressed in regular jeans and t-shirts. We shot guns, visited a saw mill and a cheese factory, went on a boat ride, and frolicked on Haystack Beach. A lot of the material I shot on those days just didn’t fit into the narrative, despite being some of my favorite shots.

The body of work has a great narrative arc, I loved the quote vs. captions. What made you decide to publish quotes?

I knew absolutely nothing about rodeo queens going into this story. I didn’t even know there was such an honor! The booklet was certainly to showcase the images and I knew it wasn’t the place where people would read a full article. But, I felt it would really enhance the experience by including a bit of context to the images that explains what its like being a rodeo queen for those who, like me, might not even understand the culture. I think this is a story that really benefits from hearing from the girls themselves.

Why the booklet, and not a foldout, magazine or cards…?

I’ve done post cards many times and recently did a promo poster this spring, but had never done a booklet. This might be the first body of work I have that falls nicely into such a linear narrative that making a book seemed logical. I have zero design background though and the idea of tackling a book project seemed very daunting.  Luckily my husband is a designer and was immensely helpful in putting this together and it was an added bonus to be able to collaborate with him on this project. It was also a chance to try on-demand printing. We tried MagCloud and ultimately went with Smartpress, as they had better paper options. Both were great because I could order exact quantities, and can always order more.

Before you approach a multi day project, do you have an idea of it’s development or is it more organic ?  

After the first trip out to Oregon, I came home so excited about the images. Nicole, the lead subject, was just wonderful to work with, as was her family who supported her all the way to Vegas. We had no idea if she was going to win the competition or not but she was perfect to be our main character in that she seemed to get along with everyone, certainly was considered a top contender and photographically was great in front of the lens. We actually got lucky in picking Nicole — the decision was mostly driven by Kelly, who lived in Oregon — because she ended up in third place out of twenty-seven girls in the competition . Projects definitely form more organically for me. I rarely set out with specific images I want to make. With so much material after only that first trip, I had a feeling I would end up with a body of work that I could develop beyond the assignment.

Are you constantly referring to images you’ve already shot and then looking for what needs to be added?

Not really. I usually just shoot and shoot and shoot and then pull out from there. I do wish I had been able to gain more access to the girls during the competition to round out the final stages of the story better, but I think I got enough. Were I to continue pursuing this project, of course I have in mind certain elements that I’d want to add. For example, there were talks at one point of shooting a seamstresses working on the gowns. With any project you could shoot forever and ever, but I think I’m done with this project for now. It was a wonderful opportunity to have all the access I received, and I feel like I told the story I want to tell.

What was your overall creative direction for this ( in your own body of work ) and from the magazine?

For the kind of stories I shoot, the type of direction I usually get is very broad and has me shooting a bit of everything. I love that kind of direction, or non-direction if you will, in that it leads me to shoot what I find most interesting. I rarely receive the type of assignment where there’s a shot already mapped out in someone’s mind and I’m there to execute it. This was no different. Of course there’s the schedule of events to follow but, outside of that, I was free to shoot anything and everything that caught my eye.

Are all the images in the promo unpublished?

There’s only one image (detail shot of Nicole’s Miss Rodeo Oregon chaps) from the promo booklet that was also used by Cosmo.

What was the most surprising element of this project?

Perhaps the fact that I was opened up to this whole new world that I didn’t even know existed. Did you know ‘queening,’ is used as a verb? And that hair curlers are an essential item to being a rodeo queen? This was a total cultural immersions for me from seeing parts of the country I’d never been, to attending my first rodeo, to shooting guns and bonding with girls outside of my social circle.

I am forever grateful to Cosmo and the photo department team who not only took a chance on me but really gave me the opportunity to dive deep into a subject matter, over a long period of time, and develop meaningful relationships.

How did this body of work force you to grow as a photographer?

One of the most important lessons from the this project was the power of collaboration and reporting. In this case I feel like having the quotes and the captions and being able to read Kelly’s full text really enhances the viewing experience of the images and adds another layer of understanding. I’m not a writer, nor do I feel I’m any good at it, yet from this experience I feel like I either need to push myself on the writing front or partner with other writers like Kelly who would be willing to dive deep into a project together.

The Daily Edit – Michael Rodriguez: Los Angeles Magazine

- - The Daily Edit


Los Angeles Magazine

Design Director: Steven Banks
Photo Director: Amy Feitelberg
Photographer: Michael Rodriguez


Heidi: Best of covers/thematic are always a great challenge to keep things fresh. How did this smart concept develop?
Michael: Steve Banks, the design director at LA Mag, came to me with the concept.  Just like the previous cover I did for them, he came to me with a clear idea.  My job is to realize it, make it dynamic.

What sort of editorial direction did you get to develop the the tools?
Steve knew most of the tools he wanted on the knife, but we continued to throw around more ideas for tools specifically, how the form of each tool would parody the likeness of the referenced item.  There were specific topics in the issue that needed to be represented.  Then, we looked at existing tools that get crammed into these pocket knives and picked the best fit.  The palm tree bottle opener took the most time to make a quick read.  It started off much more detailed and had a more organic silhouette.  It took quite a few drafts to make it simple enough to read.

How many knives to did you research/buy or did you simply know the swiss army knife being such an iconic classic was the right choice?
I had a couple on hand to study.  We did a bit of online research but, that was mostly for mechanics and tool details.  The overall shape of these knives haven’t changed all that much over the years.  Most of the research on the casing was for texture and material it would be made from.  We had many options but, we ended with classic red plastic.

Did you do your own post?
Yup, I do all of my post and CG.


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What was the biggest technical challenge for this project?
Figuring out how much detail to put into it without it looking messy.  At one point, the tool looked pretty grimy and used.  I like to put in more detail rather than not enough.  Then, you can work back some of the details to a place that everybody is happy with.

How did you get so adept at post/CGI? Did it come naturally for you?
I learned the basics of retouching from my old business partner back in the day.  When I took over the retouching duties, it started off with simple compositing.  Over the years, it just developed in complexity as ideas grew and greater challenges came.  At some point, I felt like I hit a wall with that general direction and started to learn how to create things in a CG environment.  It started with small accents to my photography and gradually, I felt more confident in my ability.  I started making environments that there either wasn’t the budget to have them made or was simply impossible to shoot.  Then, my approach flipped and CG was the majority of image creation and photography became the accent.  Now, things are balancing between the two along with the inclusion of video and animation.

Tell me about your entire process; do you think about the image first and then go into an execution thought process?
If it’s for a job, I consider the best approach for the idea.  Will it be served better in a more illustrative approach or all photographed along with compositing?  (nobody asks me to do anything all in camera, which I like).  The general approach to CG is, if you can capture what you want, the way you want it in camera, that’s the way to go.  If not, you identify the reason and find a solution using other avenues.  Then, that becomes part of the process for that image.  I think it’s important to be adaptable, especially when you’re working under tight schedules.  The image is planned out in advance.  Then, I capture and/or create the elements, lit properly to create a seamless composite.  There’s usually some deviation and improvising along the way but, the general approach is discussed and agreed upon prior to any major work being done.

How do you feel these skills make you a better photographer?
Sometimes, there are things that are totally out of your control that just ruin a shot.  There was this job I had where between the location being scouted and approved by the client and us arriving on shoot day, the  location had been drastically changed.  All of the elements of the location that led us to choose it for the image were gone.  There wasn’t any time fix for a fix.  I proposed that I create a new background where I could match the angle and lighting while improving on the look of the location that we had originally been expecting.  It was an awful situation, but everyone walked away happy.  Since then, I’ve been able to roll with most every problem thrown at me.  That’s not a “fix it in post” mentality necessarily; that’s an unfortunate perspective to have towards image making.  These skills help the photography overcome whatever challenges may arise throughout the job.

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The Daily Edit – Joshua Schaedel: Everywhere Between You & I

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Everywhere Between You & I

Photographer: Joshua Schaedel
Designer: Rebecca King

Heidi: How did the show develop?
Josh: The show came together in a very unusual way and pretty much grew out of my friendship with Lisa Thackaberry. She was looking for a few different spaces for projects she was working on. We had talked about collaborating together on a project with my photo collective Sorry Danny but the time wasn’t really right for the group. So after Lisa and I met Adam Stamp at the Downtown Photo Room we new that we had to move forward. So the show happened pretty organically. We weren’t out looking for a gallery or a space to do a solo show it just sort of happened. Which I guess is why the show had the feel that it did. So I guess the show came from a really natural place, which couldn’t have been better for such heavy subject matter as depression, guilt, suicide and personal growth.

Was your intent to have a show or was this body of work a way for you to deal with this difficult topic?
Ever since I was a kid I have been searching for a way to connect with my father Jim Schaedel. In the beginning the work about my Dad and his depression, and how that effects or relationship, was really a last ditch effort to reach him. What I found in that processes was that I really needed to work on myself. With each project about my father I tried to let some residual part of my baggage go and with each new discovery I feel a bit better.

I always thought it would be nice to share the work but honestly never thought I would have the opportunity to because the subject matter is so heavy. When Lisa and I first met I was really in a dark place and was trying really hard to be a good son and was really trying to get to a place of understanding with the work. So I really let Lisa into something very personal and she really gave me the strength and the confidence to see it through. So the show really just became as an extension of that. Which is why I am so proud of it and so glad that she pushed me to go forward with it.

Why did you choose to photograph yourself over the course of 12 hours?
The “Selfie” project is very a simple concept, take a half-day and sit and think about your life. My hope was that I could make a piece that I could come back to over and over again to continue to learn about myself so that I wouldn’t follow my grandfather’s (who committed suicide when I was 12) and my father’s path. I wanted to spend the day with myself to see all my flaws, all my shortcomings and all my mistakes. The twelve hours just felt like enough time to reflect and to learn.

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What was the most challenging part from a personal and technical point?
Technically it was hard to work out all the little details and to make all these different projects and concepts live into one room that left viewer with an idea of what depression might feel like. But definitely the most challenging part of the show was personal. I realized when Lisa wanted to show these particular projects that I was going to have to go through a lot emotionally to do an honest job reflecting what my father and I have been dealing with for so many years. I was more then just nude I was transparent and it was scary and amazingly peaceful at the same time. It is without a doubt the best thing I could have done for myself and I have to thank Lisa Thackabeery for believing in me and for giving me the opportunity to set this part of me free.

There’s a beautiful series of screens on your site. How did this integrate with the show?
The broken TVs or “The Last Christmas” came from the original project on my father called “My Father’s Name.” The piece found its way into the show when Lisa and I were discussing the project that gave the show its title “Everywhere Between You & I”. She wanted to know how that project came to be and I told the story behind “The Last Christmas”. Which happened when my father and I were supposed to spend Christmas together and watch a football game. Well, he was very depressed and didn’t want any company that day. I was really upset but I thought that if I at least watched the game I could at least share the game with him even though we were not going to be in the same room. I went to my uncle’s house to watch the game; as luck would have it, the TV broke. I was very distraught and the rest of the family left the room to do other things. As I was sitting there a tire commercial came on that described a cross-country road trip with a father and son. This was something that my father and I had talked about since I was a kid. Even though I couldn’t spend Christmas with him or watch the football game together I at least had hope that one day we might take this trip together. The “The Last Christmas” is really a shift in thinking for me and is piece that tied the show together.

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How has this body of work transformed you, if at all?
The show has affected me in many ways. I think the best part for me was when my childhood best friend made it out to the show. About a month prior to the show his brother who had battle depression for many years committed suicide and once he read “The Update” (the piece that describes my father and I talking about his desire to kill himself) he started weeping and we consoled each other. He shared very openly what him and his family were going through on a level that was very special and I think most people are not comfortable with sharing. That has since happened several times with other people and in those very intimate and open conversations I have learned more then I ever expected. I feel like I have the ability to share more openly with people and I think other people who know my story are more open with me. I think on a deeper level I am a lot less angry and a lot more calm. I hope as I continue to show this work that might get closer to a place of peace.

How will this transcend into your editorial work?
Since I draw most of my inspiration from a personal place and when I am working with subject I feel its best to share my story. Recently I did a documentary job where I had to photograph a young man and he shared a similar story about his father and I shared with him mine. By the end of the conversation he thanked me because I was the first person who he had felt comfortable to talk about what he was going through and I got a really nice picture out of it. So I guess for me the more I learn about myself, the more open I am to share, the more people are willing to share with me. I think once I let down my guard down they do too and that makes for great pictures. But to be honest that is why I don’t do a lot of editorial work because it really affects me and takes a long time to digest. I am currently working on a few editorial concepts that I will hopefully pitch very soon.

You chose to do a newsprint/newspaper promo, why did that seem appropriate to you?
Well I come from a zine background with my collective Sorry Danny so it just seemed natural to me to do it for the show. I believe that art should be accessible to everyone and I think the newspaper is one of the most approachable ways to do that. Everyone remembers there father reading the newspaper in the mornings and so do I, so the broadside newspaper/zine felt like a place where my father ended and I began. I am firm believer in books and zines as the best way, besides the gallery space, to communicate a message and its something I want to continue to do for each show that I have.

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What sort of art direction did you give the designer for this?
My designer Rebecca King and I had luckily worked on a branding strategy before the show. So we just continued that conversation into the concept about my father. Our idea when we designed my branding was that it had the ability to move to beat of the concept at hand. So I just told her what I was trying to say with the show and she delivered a brilliant design around me and my father’s relationship. So each and every subtlety communicates some aspect of that relationship in an elegant way. She is one of those brilliant designers who work from a concept outward to a beautiful object and not the other way around. So the paper happened very naturally just like the show.


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The Daily Edit: Steven Simko – Hollywood Stars Promo

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Steve Simko

What prompted to you start the body of work?
Much of the inspiration for the Hollywood project was derived from Richard Avedon’s “In the American West.” I wanted to capture that intimacy and authenticity that Avedon had in his subjects for that series. I was also late in the game to switch from film to digital (2008) and was curious to see if digital would provide me with the same B&W-type quality images I used to process in my darkroom. I was lucky enough to meet “Tex” at a Hollywood dive bar one night, and after two years of calls (he didn’t use email) he finally agreed to be the first subject in my series. Once I photographed him, I was able to use that image in persuading the other subjects in and around Hollywood to participate in the project.

How did you select the subjects?
Whether it’s a shirt pocket protector that I would see Sal wear without fail every time he visited my neighbor or Tex’s six plus-foot frame with a fiery red beard and a cowboy hat on Hollywood blvd – something about them stands out and is compelling to me, and I knew their unique aesthetic in real life would translate to a unique portrait. I wanted others to see how I saw them.

What are you interactions with them like?
Throughout the shoot, I’m asking tons of questions trying to find out the What, When, and Why that lead them to Hollywood. Every person has their own story, and I usually find that the subjects are more than happy to share them.

How do you convince them to “come to my studio”, isn’t that a bit creepy esp for the women?
Yes, convincing takes time and patience…lots of patience ! This is such a departure from my editorial work for Vogue, but I think the fact that I shoot for them provides some “legitimacy” and trust the subjects are looking for.

Do you personally know them, how long is the session?
Only a few, but I know some of them pretty well now. No more than 30 mins in the parking lot of my studio… all daylight.

Have you had people turn you down? 
Yes, many, but I just keep asking and asking. I still have about six on my list that I would love to photograph.

The copy is a nice touch, did you write it? Are you interviewing them on the spot?
I worked with a copy person at Agency Access, and the details are from the conversations I’ve had with my subjects during our shoots… I keep notes.

How many have you shot so far and do you have some that don’t make the final stage?
I’ve shot over fifty and the final cut was twenty nine.

The Daily Edit – Time Magazine: Spencer Lowell

- - The Daily Edit

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Creative Director: D.W. Pine

Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise: Kira Pollack

Deputy Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise: Paul Moakley

Photographer: Spencer Lowell

Heidi: How did the cover concept develop, and why did the initial story become minimized?
Paul Moakley from Time called me at home in LA on the morning of August 7th and asked if I was interested in going to Atlanta that night and shooting a story on Ebola. At that time, the first two American patients had just been transported from West Africa to an infectious disease isolation unit at Emory Hospital in Atlanta.

The story was about America’s readiness to deal with an infectious disease as vicious as Ebola. I was assigned to photograph the facilities and staff at Emory Hospital and at the CDC. The subjects included the doctors and nurses treating the infected patients, as well as the Director of the CDC, Dr Tom Frieden. In addition, I photographed the CDC Emergency Operations Center and a staff member in the protective suiting needed to treat Ebola infected patients at hospitals.

After 3 days of shooting, the story was slated as the cover. Then on August 11th, two days before the issue was to go to print, Robin Williams died and his story took the cover and most of the issue, rightfully so.

Fast forward to September 30th, I get a notification on my phone that the first case of Ebola had been diagnosed in the US. I immediately emailed Paul Moakley a link to the article. We had worked closely together on the initial story so I thought of sharing the news with him first even though I was fairly certain he’d already seen it. He responded quickly saying that they were just talking about me and asked if I had any cover ideas that could be executed by the next day at 1:00 pm EST when they were to go to print(10:00 am PST for me).

Tell us about the time line.
That  email I mentioned was received at 2:38 pm PST so that gave me 19 hours and 22 minutes to conceptualize, pre-produce, shoot, edit and retouch. The following timeline (PST) is how things unfolded:

2:38 pm: Started researching.

2:59 pm: Emailed Paul my first idea, which was a super tight portrait of a cowboy wearing an antiviral face mask. The concept was that the cowboy symbolizes America and strength, which I thought would make for a strong contrast with the face mask, which symbolizes caution and vulnerability.

3:57 pm: Emailed Paul two more ideas – 1. overhead shot of an empty hospital bed with a quarantine enclosure and 2. an image of someone in a hazmat suit.

3:58 pm: Started looking on casting sites for a cowboy and calling prop shops and costume houses to see about getting a hospital bed and/or a hazmat suit.

5:09 pm: Kira Pollack, Director of Photography at Time emails me saying that they are definitely going with an Ebola cover and they think my ideas are great. She wants to know if I think I can pull this off over night. I wasn’t sure but I told her I was definitely willing to try.

5:30 pm: Found a costume house with an authentic Hazmat suit from the movie Contagion but they closed in 30 minutes and they were 40 minutes away. They said they’d stay open later for a fee so I emailed Kira asking if I should pull the trigger.

5:41 pm: Kira called and we spoke about which shot would be the most realistic to execute in the next 14 hours and 19 minutes. We ruled out the hospital bed because it would be impossible to source the props. Kira wasn’t entirely sold on the cowboy so we decided to go for the hazmat suit.

5:50 pm: The costume shop withdrew their offer of staying late saying that there was no one there able to stay past 6:00. At that point I called a friend of a friend who is motion picture costumer and asked if there was any way I could find a hazmat suit that night. She said absolutely not. At that point I started looking at other options. I thought back to the protective suiting I shot at the CDC and started researching the personal protective equipment (PPE) being used by healthcare workers in West Africa. I found a page on the WHO website that listed PPE requirements specifically for treating patients with Ebola. After a few phone calls, I found out that all the articles I needed could be purchased at a local army surplus store opened until 9:00 pm, a hardware store opened until 10:00 pm and drug store opened 24 hours.

6:30 pm: Called Kira back to let her know the change of plans. I told her I was able to find a yellow Tyvek suite and a white one. We talked about background options and agreed that yellow on yellow could make for a powerful image with an undertone of caution/hazard and we agreed white on white would make for a good secondary option. After we got off the phone, I set out to to purchase all the parts of the costume from around town.

10:00 pm: Met my assistant at my house to load up lights and seamlesses (luckily I had a yellow one from a previous shoot).

11:00 pm: Got to my office to unload and set up.

12:06 am: Started shooting.

3:34 am: Finished shooting. For options, we shot yellow suit on yellow background, yellow suit on midnight blue background, white suit on midnight blue background and white suit on white background.

4:33 am: Sent my edit of the shoot to Kira, Paul and DW Pine, the Creative Director of Time.

6:34 am: DW emailed me his two cover selects to be retouched – the first yellow on yellow and the other white on white.

7:28 am: DW updated me that they were definitely going with the yellow and asked me to focus my retouching on that shot. He had also comped yellow patches over the edges of my seamless to use for a mock up which he and his team thought looked like walls so he asked if I could composite yellow walls into the final image, which I did.

8:32 am: Final retouched image delivered.

What prompted you to reach out to the magazine about the ebola case?
On the day of the first US Ebola diagnosis, I received a news alert on my phone. Because I had worked so closely with Paul Moakley on the original Ebola story, he was the first person I thought about when I read the news.

Where you surprised when they offered you the assignment?
More than anything, I was surprised that they were willing to let me try to pull the assignment off in such a short period of time. I didn’t think it was impossible but I wasn’t sure it was possible. The fact that they wanted me to try gave me the confidence to push myself. It’s amazes me that not only are they constantly operating at that level of production, but that they maintain such a high level of aesthetic aspirations in the process. It’s really a privilege to get to work with such wonderful people.

What was running through your mind when you fully understood the short timeline?
I didn’t have time to fully understand the short timeline. In pressurized situations, I thrive off of not being able to overthink things and making decisions as they arise. The lack of time really acts as a filter and helps prioritize.

With such little time where did you source the props, and I’d image accuracy was essential.
I referred to the personal protective equipment for Ebola treatment section on the WHO website for accuracy. I also referred to the images I had taken at the CDC of the staff member wearing the PPE for Ebola treatment. From there, I purchased the Tyvek suits, rubber boots and plastic apron from an army surplus store; face shield from a hardware store; and gloves and antiviral face mask from a drugstore.

Who was the model in the image, seeing that the shoot started at 11:30 pm?
The model in the image is my friend/assistant, Pat Martin. I’m grateful that he was willing to drive across town last minute, help me set everything up, and pose in the very warm and uncomfortable suits all night. Now he can say he’s been on the cover of Time Magazine.

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( Some outtakes )

Did you sleep at all?
I didn’t sleep at all. In fact, I told my wife who is also a photographer, that I’d be on set with her for a shoot she had for the Hollywood Reporter starting two hours after I delivered the final image. So, I woke up at 6 am on September 30th and didn’t go to sleep until 9 pm on October 1st. Definitely one of the longer days I’ve had.

What was the most rewarding part of this shoot?
Usually I’ll have a few days to think about an assignment before I start shooting and then a few days to live with the images afterwards. In that time there is a lot of static between my ears while trying to figure out the best decisions to make. The most rewarding part of this shoot was compressing my process to the essentials and becoming very aware of that static which I can definitely live without.

This was also my first cover for Time, which has been a goal as long as I can remember so that in and of itself is rewarding.

The Daily Edit – Jacqueline Bates: The California Sunday Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

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The California Sunday Magazine

Editor-in-Chief: Douglas McGray
Creative Director: Leo Jung
Photography Director: Jacqueline Bates

While it’s called “The California Sunday Magazine,” you’re also bringing geopolitics into the fold, and you have a different unique editorial architecture as well as distribution. Tell us about it.

We are a general interest magazine focusing on stories, mostly about people, that take place in California, the West, Latin America and Asia. We are on all digital platforms and a printed edition, with a launch circulation of more than 400,000, delivered on the first Sunday of each month with the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Sacramento Bee. (And for a limited time, in the Bay Area, with home delivered copies of the New York Times.) We’re comprised of two sections: shorts and features. We are not a service based magazine–we won’t tell you where to eat and where to shop. There are plenty of magazines who do that really well already!

The west coast deserves a good Sunday magazine, how did this emerge?

We emerged from the popular live events series, that our editor-in-chief, Doug McGray started, called Pop-Up Magazine, which is a live magazine which writers, documentary filmmakers, radio producers, photographers, and illustrators perform original stories to sell-out crowds at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall. They’ve had great photographers showing new work on stage — Larry Sultan, Jim Goldberg, Autumn de Wilde, Richard Misrach, Cheryl Dunn, Ron Haviv, Todd Hido, Lucas Foglia. After doing the show for a few years, Doug realized it was strange that California wasn’t home to a big-audience general interest magazine. He loved the sense of community he and the Pop-Up team were building. Fast forward to 2014..and here we are! Doug hired Leo Jung as creative director (formerly Design Director at Wired, deputy art director at The New York Times Magazine) and then I was hired soon after. I moved to San Francisco after working in magazines in NYC for a number of years (W Magazine, ELLE Magazine, and Interview). It’s such an incredible challenge and so unique for a photo editor to help shape what the magazine looks like, from scratch. It’s so inspiring and challenging. When Doug and I first met he said the magazine wasn’t going to have any cover lines. I thought he was crazy. And I knew I had to work with him immediately.

What type of visual stories is the magazine seeking? 

We’re always looking for pitches from photographers. It’s not just about beautiful photos — they need to have a sense of story. Photo essays can be big and sweeping and urgent, or they can be small, local curiosities. As you’ll see in our first issue, we will have a mix of established and young artists. I love having that balance. Photographers can email us at to get our contributor guidelines.


Describe your photographic direction for the magazine.

The magazine is made in California. So when it comes to photography, whenever possible we use artists who have a deep, authentic connection to this place, creatively and personally. And that authenticity can be seen in their photographs. We always want to surprise readers. California Sunday imagery will feel cinematic, thought-provoking, not overly stylized or retouched. A sense of place is really important to the magazine, so there won’t be a lot of studio photography. Imagery will feel bright, smart but not pretentious. Subjects will be represented in an authentic, real way. Always accessible, but never dumbed down.


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You have a section called “visual short”,  is this an opportunity for photographers to pitch you ideas?

Absolutely. Photographers can email us their pitches and links to their unpublished bodies of work.

In each issue we’d like to try and include a visual short. For the first issue we commissioned Will Adler, who is a fantastic fine art photographer. I saw his brilliant series of surf photography at Danziger Gallery in NY–he has such a deep connection to surf and art (his uncle, Tom Adler, is an art director of seminal early surf photography books.) I love his dreamy color palette and he really embodies the feel of the magazine we’re trying to achieve…cinematic and surprising. Will sent us so many striking images it so hard to choose. We chose a different image for the TOC image where the surfer’s body felt quite still, but when you turn to the story its a nice contrast –turbulent and wonderfully disorienting.

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Holly Andres shot your cover/feature, virtual reality is a challenging topic to visually cover I’d imagine. Some of her work has a wonderfully unsettling narrative. Why did you gravitate towards her work for this?

I met Holly in Portland in 2011 at the PhotoLucida photo previews when I was at W. She was still focusing primarily on fine art photography. I love how she creates imagery that invites you in and takes you to another world, from an era you can’t quite place…which was perfect for the setting we were trying to create for our cover story, called “The Last Medium,” about virtual reality in Hollywood.

We’re hoping to do something really unique with our covers–immediately after you turn the page we have an inside cover, which is an opportunity to continue the cover on to a spread. We think it sets the tone up front in the way we sequence images, very cinematically. The cover is a young girl at home–wearing a virtual reality headset, then you turn the page and you’re in that alternate world with her. We continued that in the story as well, domestic scenes of the family together, then you turn to the last image and the family is in a bright otherworldly setting…

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Often news journalism is about heart break. Omar Lucas photographed Ruth Thalia’s family. Undoubtedly this was important to select the right photographer. It takes a certain type of photographer to gracefully come into a family’s life and capture their sorrow.  Why Omar Lucas?

Omar is a Lima-based photographer, and this was his first time working with a foreign publication. It was important for me that whoever was going in to the home where Ruth Thalia once lived, that they understand the sensitivity of the situation. Omar was familiar with Ruth Thalia’s story–it was on the news frequently there–so he made sure to go to their home and speak with them at length before he even picked up his camera.


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Tell me about Daniel Shea‘s piece.

We teamed LA Times arts writer Carolina Miranda with the fantastic Daniel Shea, who was spending a lot of time out west and inspired by the contemporary arts scene. We decided on a unique approach, featuring artists who were directly inspired by the landscape around them. We used architectural historian Reyner Banham’s four ecologies as a guide.

If you want to join, click here to find out more.




The Daily Edit – Stan Evans: Red Bull

- - The Daily Edit

Red Bull /Olympic Hopefuls

Creative Directors: Ryan Snyder, Ilana Taub
Photo Editor: Marv Watson
Photography: Stan Evans
Photo Assistants: West Coast: Cory Steffen/ East Coast: Will Crakes
Hair: / MUA/ Laura Fey
Styling: Stan Evans/ Laura Fey


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(Grete Eliassen) Grete is the best all around female skier I’ve ever seen but the truth is I’m always excited to bring out her feminine side and show her in another light. 99.9% of the time she’s in a helmet or ski gear but for this moment I got her to wear a dress. Originally she wasn’t quite feeling it (mainly because of the cold) but I said when you see the image that’s in my head, this will be the photo you show your grand kids to remind them how beautiful you were.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 5.22.13 PM(Louie Vito)  ​Louie is probable the best athlete I’ve ever shot. He is always early, always cracking jokes, always making people feel at home which was the beauty of this shoot. I got to turn Louie into someone else besides “Mr. Nice Guy”. I love the camera for the simple fact that you can take a person’s persona and flip it on it’s head.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 5.22.32 PM(Bobby Brown) I’d never met Bobby before but he was a consummate pro. He cared just as much about the portrait process as the action photos which is rare for an action sports athlete.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 5.22.43 PM(Greg Bretz) Greg was pretty much in a media sponsor frenzy when I shot these photos. He looked to be the first lock on the Olympic Halfpipe selection and you could tell he had alot of interviews on his plate. Pretty much the last thing you want to hear as a snowboarder is “some guy from New York” is here to take your photo. That usually equates to “guy in the sky” and missed grabbed photos with poor style. Two things the core audience of snowboarding hates.  I try to stay true to my roots and remember where I came from so I made it quick for Greg and got these shots in 2 takes. I saw Greg at breakfast later that week told him, by the way,  I shot snowboarding for 15+ years and I grew up in Alaska.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 5.22.51 PM(Arielle Gold) ​For this shot I literally introduced myself on the side of the halfpipe. “Hi I’m Stan Evans and I’m here to shoot your portrait for Red Bull!”  This was during practice for the final  so I would literally caught her hiking to do another run. I was actually lined up on the wrong wall for her action shot and practice ended so I hustled back up at night time (about 10 degrees) and got the action portion of her then.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 5.22.58 PM(Nick Goepper) Sometime in all the seriousness of preparing for the the olympics we forget these are kids. So for Nick’s shoot it was all about fun. It was pretty fun convincing him to do a cartwheel in ski boots and he had the biggest grin when I asked him to backflip with my camera. He asked,  “what happens if i wreck?”  I told him I have insurance…. but don’t wreck. (it’s a canon 5d mark II in his hand that I remote triggered from the ground) If you look closely you can see me bottom left.

Heidi: Had you pitched Red Bull projects previously? Or was this the first open assignment with them?
Stan: Yes, here’s a list of what I had pitched and executed for them:
Grete Eliassen Movie: “Say My Name”
Travis Rice portraits: “That’s it, That’s All”, Mainstream Media ( below )

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Edwin De La Rosa:  BMX Portraits ( below )

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For Travis Rice, “That It, That’s ‘s All”  I shot test samples and had meetings with Travis, Brainfarm Producers and Red Bull, the goal was to shoot for a mainstream audience so it wasn’t as much about his performance on a snowboard as it was building a compelling character.


The pitch for Grete’s movie actually took about 8 months. It ended up being a two year project We created a teaser and photos compiled of Grete adventures of what logged the first year and coordinated it with outlets that had already expressed interests in the project and projected views. Grete, Adam Bebout, her regional athlete Manger and I flew down to Red Bull and we pitched in person. They warmed up to it a bit but what took it over the top was the hip jump idea. It was something that differentiated it from other female ski projects and opened the appeal to a larger audience. The general public might not understand skiing but the idea that a woman could fly 30+ feet in the air and create a world record was something a lot of people could be excited about.
Here’s a few pages from the Virulence Report from my office which was for interest in the movie before hand. After Grete’s hip jump/world record the impressions were 33 million the first month by Red Bull’s analytics team.

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What were the directives from the brand?
Red Bull wanted portraits that were compelling to mainstream media but could still live within endemic media. Logo placement is always imperative but I try to blend it subtly. It was nice because action was secondary but I think being able to handle both sides of the spectrum was a large selling point for them.

My guess is you’re also an athlete adventurer. How does that play into your work?
I love the outdoors and being a part of the action but being snowboard photographer started to take it’s toll. I actually was in a car accident on my way to filming a part of Grete’s movie. I chipped off a piece of bone in my kneecap and after 6 knee surgeries I was ready to take a different direction so I started focusing on portraits. If anything I’ve probably toned it down a bit. It lets me see more of the quiet moments between the action and helps humanize people. I still love risky jobs and exploring in that I connect with the subjects because they realize I know what they are going through and as a photographer, I’m trying to make them look their absolute best.
The biggest oxymoron is being on a set in NYC where people act as if something goes wrong someone might die as opposed to being on the side of a mountain in Alaska where someone actually could die.
For example, before Kevin Pearce there was Timmy Ostler. Tim was an amazing snowboarder that I was shooting at Park City. He had a freak fall in the halfpipe, was heli-evaced and consequently paralyzed from the waist down. Those moments change you. I’m not trying to be a downer but those moments make you realize what’s at stake on set or in the studio. I’m so thankful I get to do what I do, and I try to remember that, as well as remind those around me. Positivity and being happy to be there are a huge part of my shoots because in the back of my mind I realize, this can all be taken away in an instant.

What was the biggest hurdle with the assignment?
Weather is always a factor. For the Grand Prix it snowed ton during qualifiers and people could barely get speed for jumps. It made for pretty lackluster action and inopportune for some of the locations I had scouted. I usually try to have a plan B – get creative and adapt. Grete’s location was really the only specific parameter I had to nail. Schedule was probably the other, many of the athletes had overlapping practice or events, other sponsor commitments and competing with television and other media outlets . But sometimes that worked out. I met one of the hosts for NBC and showed him some of the photos of Louie. They ended up using them in a “Road to Sochi” spot so turnaround was quick and I caught a lucky break.

How long did you spend with the athletes in order to capture the non action side of them?
Sometimes 5 – 10 minutes, sometimes days.
I had a hard time tracking down Arielle Gold. I literally saw her at the halfpipe, introduced myself, shot her portrait and action on the spot. For Louie we actually talked quite a bit and he invited me to his home. I was immersed in his training regimen. I ate what he ate. Woke up when he did and would get the gym before him to set up. It made for an amazing experience and it shows in the photos. We ended up having a great spread of photos of everything he did but the edit focused on his physique.
Grete is beautiful woman and was probably the most challenging yet rewarding to shoot. I wanted her to look feminine and have the environment and props tell the story. She really is standing in the woods in 15 degrees with a pair of skis in a dress. That’s amazing trust.
Bobby Brown was probably my favorite though. I had him for about 45 mins. Once he came on set he was invested. He was so curious about the process and how he could help make the shot better. Never looked at his watch, never told me he had places to be. A consummate pro – I was really happy he fought through some injuries and made the Olympic team… I’m a Bobby Brown fan for life.

The Daily Edit – Gail Bichler : New York Times Magazine Design Director

- - The Daily Edit


The New York Times Magazine

Editor: Jake Silverstein
Deputy Editor: Bill Wasik
Design Director: Gail Bichler
Director of Photography: Kathy Ryan

Photo Editor: Christine Walsh
Deputy Photo Editor: Joanna Milter
Johnny Miller
Stylist: Randi Brookman Harris

Heidi:Once your direction was set to show a package of pills received by mail, what were the next steps in the creative process and what was your time frame?
Gail: The next steps were deciding how we wanted to the package to look, thinking about what type of image would best convey our message and then figuring out the best person to shoot that kind of image. We were on a pretty tight time frame, as we usually are since the magazine is weekly. We had about five days to pull the shoot together.



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Was it this body of work (My Parents Love Letters ) by Johnny Miller that convinced the team he was right for the project? Were there any other considerations and made you choose him? See the full gallery  here
Yes, this was the body of work that made us think of him. We wanted the image to feel very natural and dimensional – to walk the line of being a conceptual image but with the feel of something real. Our photo department had been looking for an opportunity to work with Johnny, and Christine Walsh (the photo editor on the project) and I thought he would be great for this because his work is clean and graphic but still personal.

I loved the small tear in the cover where the bottle is, what other details were taken into consideration to make this image come alive?
A simple image like this is all about the details, so we paid a lot of attention to them. We hired stylist Randi Brookman Harris, with whom we’ve collaborated quite a bit. She sourced a number of different kinds of envelopes and adjusted them to fit the proportions of the cover. We also designed cancellation and metered postage stamps from India (the point of origin for the packages mentioned in the story) and Randi commissioned rubber stamps of them to be applied to the envelopes. We estimated how much a package like this would weigh and accounted for that when fabricating the metered stamp. Randi applied both stamps to the modified envelopes somewhat haphazardly to approximate the way they would appear if they had actually gone through the postal service, and she applied unequal pressure so the ink would vary in density. We placed a square box in the package to give the impression of the volume of the pillbox and began shooting. As the shoot progressed, we also tried versions where we beat up the envelope more, adding wrinkles and smearing the stamps to give the impression that the envelope had been through the mail.

I know from working at news organization there’s prestige and a social responsibility that comes with designing news journalism. How has your role as the Art Director shaped you personally?
There is definitely a social responsibility aspect to working for The New York Times. While there is always a craft and attention to aesthetics that is part of what art directors do, there are also many other considerations when designing news. Under the best circumstances the most eye-catching design is tonally on target, the most arresting photographs correspond with the narrative of the piece, and the most graphic concept for a cover accurately captures the main point of the story, but in cases where that doesn’t happen, conveying the intent and message of the writing sometimes wins out over the aesthetic considerations. I have learned to look past my own viewpoints on the subjects we cover and see the story from varying angles. And in some cases, it’s necessary for me to temper my own goals for the visuals of a piece with what is right for the magazine and the brand of The New York Times. My view of visual story telling and journalism has become much more nuanced.

While I was at The Los Angeles Times Magazine I remembered having moments of being semi paralyzed and in awe of the amount of news being produced on a daily basis. How does the volume of news and your acute awareness effect you as a mother?
The amount of news being generated a daily basis is absolutely dizzying. Particularly in this moment when digital access means that our choices of where to get information have multiplied exponentially. As a mother, I sometimes worry about the easy accessibility of news that is increasingly more violent and graphic. I want to protect my 5-year-old son’s innocence while I can, so I make efforts not to watch or listen to the news around him, because the coverage can quickly shift from a benign topic to something that could be scary for a little person. 

However, I’ve also seen the upsides to the kind of instant access to news and information that we now have. It’s great to be able to satisfy a curious mind not only with a verbal explanation, but also with images. Particularly for a very visual learner like my son. That has never been as easy to do as it is now. As with everything, we take the good with the bad.

The Daily Edit – Flaunt: Scott Pommier

- - The Daily Edit

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                                       Some additional  images from the shoot.

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Editor in Chief: Luis Barajas
Creative Director:
Jim Turner
Photo Editor: Mui-Hai Chu

Photographer and Director: Scott Pommier
Director of Photography ( video ): Greg Hunt

Heidi: How did this story come about?
Scott: I really wanted to shoot something for Flaunt so I set up a meeting with the photo editor. Pitching a fashion story can be tricky as magazines have their own agenda and their own style. In the past I’ve had magazines interested in my ideas but they just didn’t fit with what they had planned for the foreseeable future and the concepts would wither on the vine. When I met with the photo editor at Flaunt, I brought some work to show, but instead of presenting a specific story, I described my approach to shooting fashion and then we talked about what themed issues they had on the horizon. I told the photo editor that I would put something together for her, and a couple of days later, after meeting up with some stylists, I had a treatment to show. Flaunt was starting to schedule their fall denim issue, they called it ‘The Distress Issue.’ Denim is a very practical material, and you see a lot of streetwear inspired shoots, or vaguely 1950s styling, but I wanted to shoot something that was both dramatic, and cinematic, something with movement. I sat with it for a while, and then started to sketch some thoughts. I had a picture in my head, that ultimately became one of the teaser films, of a woman hanging upside-down from a galloping horse. I’m not sure where I’d seen this stunt but I knew it was common enough amongst rodeo trick-riders. I wanted to change the context a little bit, so that it was less a trick or a stunt but rather a strange and beautiful image.

Did the magazine help cast these beautiful girls who also know how to ride?
Once I decided to focus on trick riding, my producer set about finding the talent and location. She found an amazing team of trick riders called “The Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls.” We looked at having them make the trip to LA, but decided that it would be better for the crew to travel as their property was just amazing. It’s at the foot of the Sierras and they had quite a few acres of pretty wild terrain. It was perfect. This meant the crew driving a little over three hours from LA, and staying overnight, but it was worth it.
The stunts were all performed by incredibly experienced riders, some of the best in the world. We added two agency models that we thought could fit with the trick riders.
I love those Peter Lindbergh or Steven Klein shoots that create a whole world. It’s become increasingly common to plunk a pretty lady is placed alongside or in front of something novel. Sometimes that can feel like models are simply decoration. In this case, I didn’t want there to be such a separation, so I tried to plan shots and sequences that would allow the audience to think of all the characters together. Models and horses are a common element in fashion stories, but it’s usually just a model gently patting a horse’s nose, or standing beside a horse, maybe sitting on a stationary horse, but I wanted to create a sense of familiarity. My producer and I did an extensive search for models. We reached out to a number of agencies, NEXT really got behind the idea and sent us some great options. One of the gals actually flew in to do the shoot. Neither of the models had experience with horses, but the trick riders did a great job getting them up to speed. My producer is a long-time equestrian, which was a tremendous advantage. In the end, we were able to shoot one of the models as she laid out flat on her back on one of the horses, her hair draped down meshing with the horse’s tail. In another shot, a model curled up with a horse that had been trained to lay down on his side. The models and the stunt riders were all really brave, and the result is images that go above and beyond what you normally see with this kind of shoot. It would have been a waste to have this kind of access to some of the most talented riders and highly-trained animals on the planet and shoot something that you could have set up in a petting zoo.

How did you capture the footage?
Most of the footage was shot on a tripod or with a 3-way gimbal. I worked with Greg Hunt, a DP that I knew from my days shooting for skateboarding magazines. I needed someone who understood shooting action, someone with whom I shared a common visual language. A friend had put me in touch with a company called PMG Multi-Rotors that had a prototype of a 3-way brushless gimbal called a TYTO. It’s a handheld version of the stabilizer that’s used for drone-helicopter footage. The TYTO is able to handle a RED epic. For the sequence where the camera tracks along with the rider as she hangs upside down from the horse, a maneuver called the ’suicide drag,’ we shot from a mini-van. We paced the horse, and Greg shot out of the side door using the gimbal. Normally these stunts are performed inside a ring, but for the sake of the story we asked if it would be possible to shoot in a field. The field was really bumpy and the minivan was bouncing almost to the point of catching air but the gimbal did an amazing job of stabilizing the shot. The final result is something that until very recently you just wouldn’t have been able to shoot without heroic efforts and huge expense.


How much footage did you shoot in order to get these videos?
Greg was rolling the whole time I was shooting, and in a few cases we broke into two units, as we were starting to run out of time. With fashion shoots you have to expect that hair and makeup and clothing changes can take a very long time so even though we shot all day, the amount of time we could spend on each setup was minimal.

What was the most challenging part of this shoot for either the still or motion?
There were a lot of moving parts. We had a small crew and we were trying to get a tremendous amount done in a very short time. Even though the horses are extremely well trained, they’re still animals and are very nervous by their nature. They were dealing with new people, unfamiliar equipment and they were being asked to do things that they don’t normally do. These horses aren’t normally paired with novice riders, they are very responsive and are always waiting for queues from the rider. The hardest thing was to be able to adapt to what the animals were doing. I shot a lot of the story with a Pentax 67, so trying to focus and frame shots up where the models looked natural and in control while the horse below them was reacting to their environment was difficult. But even at it’s most challenging I knew that this is exactly how I wanted to be shooting.

Why is that?
I’ve always had this idea that there’s a value in doing things the hard way, and with photography that value is a little more apparent. We are exposed to so many images that it’s become increasingly important to me to shoot images that stand out. Whether it’s the location, the action, the art direction or the subject, there has to be something compelling, something out of the ordinary.  Naturally there are times when I tread on ground that others have already covered, but I’m trying to elevate what I do, and add a layer of complexity. I’m not interested in stacking accessories on a static model as if they are mannequins, or in shooting someone doing jump kicks on a seamless. I don’t say that to sound superior, it’s just not for me. I’m interested in fashion as a means to an end, the clothing conveys style, but to me the style is more important than the clothing. I like fashion as fantasy and less as commerce.



I know you started out shooting skateboarding, was it a natural segue to shoot athletes?
The first pictures I ever shot were action photos. Very early on I was interested in shooting pictures that were like what you’d find in skateboarding magazines. So yeah, that was something that I got very comfortable with. The photograph of Usain Bolt draws heavily on that experience. I was asked to get a shot of Usain taking off out of the blocks, but was told that I could only have five attempts at the shot. Sprinters put everything they’ve got into their starts and with such a hectic schedule leading up to the Olympics his people were really trying to protect him from any injuries. One of the conversations that I’d had with the agency was about the images having their own look and not feeling like a Nike ad. Of course there isn’t any one Nike look, they produce a tremendous amount of work with a wide-range of artist, but I think what they meant was to avoid a very contrasty, very crisp, hyper-real image where you could see every drop of sweat. Having shot a lot of action I was able to set up a lighting scheme that plays with the flash duration, freezing the areas that need to be sharp and allowing the motion to slightly blur others. The first frame I shot was admittedly terrible, I wasn’t used to the timing of the shutter on the camera. The second frame was a success, but I felt we could do a little better,  the third frame is the one you see here.  Plenty of other photographers have shot this exact moment, but it was a fairly high pressure situation. Puma later built a campaign around the image but we had about a five-minutes to light it, and three-minutes to capture it. When you’re shooting something like that you have to be able to see it in your head before you shoot it. I had a reputation for being one of the slower skateboard photographers, there was always pressure to be faster and faster, which was tough as I was trying to light things in increasingly complicated ways.  I think it sped up my decision-making process, so with a solid crew I can work very quickly.

The other thing that skateboarding taught me  was to tread very lightly in other people’s worlds. Every time I’d see a photograph or read a story about skateboarding that an outsider had done, they’d always get it wrong, every single time. They’d get the terminology wrong, or they’d have someone holding their board in some goofy way, or they’d shoot someone doing a trick that they clearly hadn’t landed. I found that very frustrating, so now I do everything I can not to get it wrong when someone shares their world with me. Authenticity is a word that creatives use a lot in reference to my work, and I think part of the reason is that I have a certain level of reverence for what I shoot.





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I know you’re doing more directing and motion work, are you trying to get that depth and movement by layering your still images?
I’m not sure that there’s a connection between the motion work and the double-exposures, but I’m always interested in creating images that have visual depth and that have substance. I suppose putting two pictures in the same frame has some affinities with putting two images into a sequence on a time-line, but it’s not something I had in mind. I do tend to shoot people in motion, even if it’s subtle. I’ve had a number of people tell me that some of my pictures are like ‘film stills’ so maybe there has always been some overlap between the two.

I see you’ve split with your agent Webber Represents and who are you with now?
I’m looking for representation in U.S. at the moment. Webber was great, there’s certainly no animosity on either side. It’s just like any relationship, you have to want to grow in the same direction at the same time. Even with the best intentions, that doesn’t always happen. I think a lot of my work fits in between categories, or blurs the lines a bit. The fashion stuff that I shoot borders on portraiture, a lot of the action photos have a fashion influence, overall there’s a bit of an editorial feel to my body of work, but most of my photos are either commercial or personal. I feel that if you look at all my pictures together they make sense, but I can also appreciate that my work is spread across a few different genres. Perhaps it’s easier to sell someone when it’s very clear what they do, like the capital “L” lifestyle photographer who’s going to whip the talent into a frenzy, and shoot them sticking their tongues out, or climbing fences, or pushing one another in shopping carts. I’ve done those kinds of shoots but they’re not what I want to chase. I’ve been busy producing new work, and what I need is an agent who can see where my photography fits in the commercial world. In the meantime I’m certainly not going at it alone. I have a terrific agent in Toronto (Lisa Bonnici) and I just signed with a production company in the U.K. called Mad Cow films, who are representing me for motion work. Sometimes you have to follow your instincts and trust that you’ll be happy with where you end up.


The Daily Edit – Michele Romero: Entertainment Weekly

- - The Daily Edit

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Entertainment Weekly

Editor: Matt Bean
Director of Photography: Lisa Berman
Design Director: Tim Leong
Picture Editor: Michele Romero
Photographer: Dylan Coutler

Heidi: Why the split cover run for this issue?
Michele: Magazines do split-run covers whenever the subject can yield a series of photos to communicate a single topic.  So, ESPN’s Body Issue, for example, or GQ’s Coolest Athlete’s of All Time.  EW has done split-run covers for a variety of shows and this is the magazine’s 3rd time doing a split-run series for “The Walking Dead.”  Single images always make better cover photographs than group shots and fans like the idea of “collecting them all”.

What photo direction where you looking for that made you choose Dylan Coulter?
I had liked Dylan’s multiple image photography on athletes and he did some covers on Footballers for The New York Times Magazine for The World Cup.  I admired the videos he did for that cover story.  It reminded me to try and use him.

This was my third time working on “Walking Dead” covers and over time I’ve become somewhat of an expert  on what fans like about this show.  I realized that zombie kills were a type of physical/athletic sport.  The actors are archers and baseball batters and shovel bashers and epic swordsmen/women and they are a team whose goal is to stay alive. The survivors are athletes in the game of knock the head off the zombie.

Screen shot 2014-09-09 at 8.17.46 PMHere’s a few of the many multiple images works I used when I was  putting Dylan forward to my bosses.  Edward Muybridge was someone whose work I had in my initial pitch along with some Jazz Musicians that shot this way in the 50s…


When you’re photo directing the talent, are you directing the character, the person or both?
Depends on the story.  If we’re shooting Meryl Streep, we’re photographing the actor.  If we are doing a piece on a character, we let the actor do their thing and create that other being.  In some cases, an artist, is a character, you would talk to Paul Reubens about where you want PeeWee Herman to stand, etc.

Did you experience both roles with interacting with the Walking Dead actors?
I communicate to the actors and then we watch as they create the characters.  In this case the actors REALLY get into their roles and it is thrilling and intense to watch the energy that goes into creating that persona.

Here’s my reference for each actor. I had studied their movements before shoot day and did some sketches because each cover had to vary. These were notes that I had taped to the inside of the “studio” space where we were shooting that day.

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Was this a challenging edit, getting the pieces for each cover?
Dylan and I communicated that we’d need what we called a “money shot” for the main image for the cover and that this moment would be fully opaque while the series evolved in varying ghostings behind this main shot.  It was certainly a larger editing process than usual but my boss, Lisa Berman, reminded me that we were producing four covers that week.  I did not leave the office for a month before 10pm.

Was it predetermined where the cover lines would fall so you could use the full cover space?
No, type is never predetermined before a shoot comes in, but I have learned to always leave room for it.  Tim Leong, our Design Director, made the handwritten type himself for this cover.

There’s a lot of energy ( and blood ) on these covers, describe the mood on set. ( music and so on… )
This was my third time on a “Walking Dead” set and we were on location in Atlanta where the new season takes place.  We set up shop in a warehouse on a gorgeous wreck of a broken train repair yard from the early 1900s. It was old and falling apart and for photography, it was beautiful.  I’ve also never been so hot in my life.
The great thing about this show is everyone wants to give Entertainment Weekly 1000 percent.  The actors work harder than anyone and that energy was definitely captured by Dylan on film (well, digital pixels).  Norman Reedus played Mötörhead for his setup.  Andrew Lincoln cranked Metallica and the duo of Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan were moving to The Black Keys new record.  The only noise during Danai Gurira’s shoot was the sound of her blade slicing through the air.  It was thrilling to watch them all in action.

You deal with celebrities all the time, when’s the last time you’ve been star struck? ( if ever ).
I get excited to work with people and have been privileged to have experiences that are meaningful to me.  You treasure these moments.  If I like someone’s work I am grateful that I get to tell them this fact.  Sometimes I’ve had artists make music in front of me and I definitely “OMG” to myself quietly.  Oh who am I trying to kid, I WORKED WITH DAVID BOWIE.  Yep, he struck me as a star.  When he walked into the studio it was like the sun lit up the whole room.  He was an A+ professional and ate lunch with the crew.  I stole the napkin he used to wipe chicken off his hands so in the future I could make a genetic copy of David Bowie.  I’m sorry, what were we talking about?

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job aside from the schedule.
Working with uncooperative people.

Did you choose that warehouse location because the crew had shot there before and they were familiar?
The location is Terminus on the show.  AMC happened to be shooting there and we got our own spot on that lot as well. AMC shot their ad campaign and Gallery Art/Specials on the same weekend we got time with the cast in Atlanta.

Tell me about the gallery feel you created on set, I know Dylan found this very helpful to set the tone.
Photographer, Art Streiber and my boss Lisa Berman actually taught me about having references up on the day of a shoot.  I sketch cover concepts sometimes and get these pitches to the talent or the network/record label when we’re in concept discussions.  Since we don’t have talent for very long it helps if you can quickly show them what you’re up to.  There is no way to explain a multiple exposure to someone but as soon as they see it they get excited.  I had a pretty great (and decrepit) gallery space.  Dylan and I joked that it would be a great loft space someday.  It was a Dylan Coulter show in a Zombie Apocalypse setting.  No wine and cheese though, but lots of zombie blood.

 Screen shot 2014-09-09 at 8.17.08 PMThis is a wall  of Dylan’s work.  It was great to get to show everyone from Norman Reedus to Exec Producer Greg Nicotero what we were up to–once people saw Dylan’s work they gave us more ideas and toys to play with.

Why did you chose a concept cover for The Walking Dead?
For a show like The Walking Dead I didn’t want to repeat a “hero pose” so Dylan’s work was a great way to make this action show dimensional.  It was something new to get to fans and it worked out really well.

The Daily Edit – Jennifer Robbins: Gotham Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

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Gotham Magazine

Art Director: Anastasia Tsioutas Casaliggi
Photo Director: Lisa Rosenthal Bader
Photographer: Jennifer Robbins

Heidi: Your work is vibrating with energy, how do you create that on set?
Jennifer: Honestly, part of it is my natural state. People used to think I was on drugs because I was always go-go-go.  I think they’ve finally discovered what that’s called – ADHD – there’s  medication for it, which has been suggested.  (laughs) However I’m not that interested in taming it if it means turning into an automaton. I know going into these shoots that my energy has to be up, I mean, this is part of the reason I’ve been hired. So like any prerequisites for a job, this is one of mine.
For instance:

-I get to the set early and talk to everyone
-I bring my portfolio because at times, people may not have seen my work and often that’s enough to get people excited, it gives them a road map as to what is expected and where we’re headed together
-A lot of times it’s music
-Every once in awhile glass of champagne or wine can help
-I’m enthusiastic and effusive as I’m shooting and “getting the shot”
-I jump up and down, dance and I’m usually audible in my self-congratulatory behavior ( laughs )
-I also believe when people are looking at pictures, they are smart enough to know about the sixth sense… to feel when something is forced or saccharine.
-The reality is it’s fun to be a photographer and I do a few things to establish the kind of energy I need.

I’m pretty clear with models ahead of time about what I’m asking from them and when I see them “modeling” a lot of times I just put the kibosh on that pretty quickly. These are already beautiful people, so what?  They are already “pretty” I’m interested in what attraction for the viewer they can create.  I love women (and men) who are not afraid to flirt, stop worrying about whether you look good, clearly you look pretty good to be a model, now let’s have some real fun.

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Jennifer on Set

Inevitability shoots can hit an energetically low.  How do you overcome that?

As a photographer you know that at some point it’s going to come, the lull, so accepting it and not letting the wheels fall completely off the cart is a good. There are a few coping tools I use.
The first thing I do is to blow off a little steam is text my best friend and write “kill me” just to vent it. Once that’s done, I go back to work realizing I’ve got some creative problem solving to do, I can’t have a temper tantrum in the corner just because it’s not fun.

At the end of the day, it’s a job and no matter what, I promised to deliver.  Sometimes I’m honest with it and say, “Okay everybody let’s get our shit together and push on through!” inevitably we do hit an energetic low after lunch. This is exactly why I always hate having to stop for lunch!  Without fail everybody goes into a food coma and it does make my job a lot harder.

I just can’t get sucked into the undertow of blah, as the photographer, it’s not an option.  Now, when the subject is an energetic suck and no matter what music, level of energy, joke or how social I try to be, sometimes you just don’t connect, and that’s fine.  In those circumstances I have to rely on something else and that’s composition, I look at body lines, make aggressive crops. It’s much more interesting to me to reveal maybe only part of the overall scene. Understanding how to compose that and still tell a story is what I love.

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Your work is about glamorous, sexy women and their appeal,  what element does being a female photographer bring?
I’m not sure it’s incredibly profound but my mother was a fashion illustrator for The New York Times as well as department stores.  I was born in Manhattan and use to go to clubs and had pretty friends and at 19 wanted to be super pretty, sexy and be all those things young girls want at that age.
I spent a lot of time doing makeup, wearing skirts about 4 inches long, slinking around in high heels and getting into Mars and Limelight at 15. So some of it was just there for the taking… meaning the glamour, it’s NYC, it’s just more available than in many parts of the country, and it was fun. I used to go out and dance five nights a week! The visuals of a crowded nightclub and people having fun was imprinted in my mind before I ever knew that would be my style.

Plus I have no desire to sleep with my  subjects (who are usually women) so I think in that way the women I photograph can relax into every element of themselves without feeling too self-conscious or that there are any ulterior motives on my end.
 Everyone wants to look good in photos, who wants to look like crap? I make this promise with all  my subjects, simply put, my photos are not saving lives, it’s about feeling beautiful, being photographed and enjoying the process.

I think there’s a certain importance and value to beauty in this world, so much of our daily lives we are inundated with sadness and heartbreak of humanity. Beauty can make us smile and be an escape. I’m not laboring under the notion that somehow I’m curing cancer. I have a realistic perspective on my career and I think that contributes to loosening up the reins a bit and having some fun while doing a great job.

Your work is a wonderful blend of voyeurism and inclusion. How did living with a  documentary photographer change the way you shoot?
Aside from a being a brilliant photographer he taught me two important things. One was the use of  wide-angle lenses and how composition could either move a story along, convey a story, or be the story.  For a while I used a 24 millimeter lens with my “fashion” and it lent itself to a more cinematic, narrative tone.  The other important lesson I got from him was the simplicity of lighting and how to manipulate ambient light with strobe.

As a photojournalist you can’t stop and ask somebody for a do over when you’re covering real people in real-time.

Ultimately that’s how I work now, I love to roll around on the floor or get underneath a table or jump up onto a bar and the only way I can do that is to be unencumbered by my equipment because with my photographic style, just a second of having to rework something because I need to move my lights around can kill the shot.

What as the hardest part of this story for Gotham?
Actually, the hardest thing about this project was the logistics.  It was shot in just two days in different boroughs.  There was so much driving in the worst kind of NY conditions. I had no assistant, and I was carrying all my own gear, so was hard to go from the logistical obstacles to Creative Director!

I had such limited time to come in, find my location and get the shot. Any photographer knows its hard to have all the images hang together in a collection when shooting so many different unknown locations, there’s not set plan. I made sure to give the client several options for each portrait so we could have options for the edit. I love Gotham as a client, they have a lot of faith in me, I’m grateful for that. Subsequently the more freedom they’ve  given me, the happier everyone involved has been with the images.

I know you’re working a personal project shooting plus girls? Tell me about it.
Right now I am laying the groundwork for exploring the world of Plus Size girls. I realize it sounds a little weird as if they’re some other species but unfortunately the world really is divided like that. A few years ago I had my first foray into working with plus size models for Ashley Stewart. I worked with two of the best girls out there: Marquita Pring and Tara Lynn both of whom had posed nude for Steven Meisel for the cover and an editorial in Italian Vogue. While I was fortunate enough to work with the top girls what has stayed with me years later was the experience of their freedom in their bodies and their acceptance of not fitting into what most of us have been conditioned to think is normal but actually is unattainable. For years I said I wanted to work with plus size girls more and more but it doesn’t just materialize. I’ve realized that I have to take it into my own hands and explore this world creatively on my own. Right now I’m in the preliminary stages of exploring what plus size fashion looks like in my style.

As someone who was inundated with this world of fashion that’s compromised of skinny and young, I’ve reached a limit of finding that interesting anymore and personally feeling like the separatism women have.There’s skinny-girl-fun which usually includes skinny dipping, jean shorts and really hot guys around and then there’s the rest of us behemoth-girls-fun often limited to diet coke and bowling or some shit, full piece bathing suits with built in skirts and other “normal-sized” women. Lame.

I think that as I get older I am far more interested in the variety of beauty, personally the kind of work I do I definitely needs women who are confident, comfortable and happy with who they are because that energy comes through in the work.

I’m looking for an added dimension to a woman’s beauty and that only comes from inside, who they are who or who they want to be. In acceptance is their freedom and in that, is my enjoyment of photographing them.

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During your career you spent time in both LA and NY, which has served you better and what are the differences creatively?
Ah, The Los Angeles vs. New York conversation.  It’s an unavoidable comparison that gets made in all facets of living in either city. The truth is, as a native New Yorker you would hope that your hometown would be the biggest cheerleader, but in actuality Los Angeles has been so supportive of me from the beginning of my career and it continues to hold that reception for me.

I started my career in Los Angeles on a whim vacation. Detour magazine hired me on the spot and I started shooting a lot of celebrities/covers which obviously brought in a lot more work.  My current agent Marilyn Cadenbach is based in Los Angeles and some of my best jobs were shot in Los Angeles not necessarily for clients from Los Angeles, Nieman Marcus is a good example of that.

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Clearly the pool of models is different because of the Hollywood factor. There are more actresses available and for me that’s ideal.  I’m looking for someone who can go beyond their looks, embody a character that I need in order to get the job done, get the feeling I’m in search of.

For obvious reasons the weather in Los Angeles has always aided in successful photo shoots, blue skies and warm weather don’t often interfere with the kind of projects I’m out there to do. Aside from the convenience of the weather in Southern California the topography of LA just lends itself to a different aesthetic.

You’re a self described energy ball. Where does that come from and why did you choose to channel that into photography?
Where does my energy come from? My answer may just be a result of many years is therapy but maybe its a combination of things. My parents are extremely funny  and even divorced they’re great friends. My grandparents were WWII generation,  tough people.  My grandfather didn’t believe in being bored, if I told him I was bored that he would say it’s because I’m boring! I love that. Also I was an only child so it required a lot of energy to entertain myself. My mom is really silly, she would make up the most ridiculous names for our cats (names: akkaduka, mafalda, scapaloopalah, piscina, inky, bialystock, bloom, Olaf and shitka) or for anything really and I think she passed on silliness which is a part of myself that I enjoy, it’s the part that keeps me young. Maybe it’s being a Leo? Maybe it’s just more fun than being NOT energetic?

I don’t know that it was a conscious choice to be a photographer.  I was always an artist of some sort and I did know I was creative. I remember my mother had Helmut Newton photo books in the house I was intrigued and fascinated by his work but even then I wasn’t thinking about becoming a photographer, I was still quite young.

I found photography when I was at NYU. Originally it was because I ran out of classes to take. To my surprise I liked photography immediately, experimented alot and had many girlfriends who were willing to pose for me, so I shot all the time. When I realized this was something I can do as a job I thought, “That’s awesome!” and at 21 I really thought I was the greatest photographer! Mainly because at the time my work looked so different from what was going  on at NYU where fashion was looked down on, the trend was to shoot on the street, typically black and white photos of the homeless.

I liked that my work didn’t look like everyone else’s, and despite having a professor who gave me a B- for three consecutive semesters, I still thrived.  She took photos of dead people, literally. So what did I expect with my half-naked red lipstick girls pouring milk over their heads while smoking a cigarette?!?