The artist, photographer and director takes us inside his London studio — discussing death, beauty, and the works that mean most to him
The artist, photographer and director takes us inside his London studio — discussing death, beauty, and the works that mean most to him
Guest Post by Cybele Sandy, AUGUST
I was having coffee with a colleague the other day and remarked that I felt that in terms of making it in New York as a photographer, talent was only a small part of the battle. My colleague’s answer? “Oh, I actually think talent counts for only 30% of the equation”. This from an executive at one of the top-tier media conglomerates.
Increasingly, I’ve come to the conclusion that hustle is the secret ingredient.
I’ve been in the business for a decade now and I am still amazed that getting to look at art, all the livelong day, is my job. It’s something I truly love: communing with artists, delving into their process and getting them where they need to be professionally is what has made this stage of my career (I’ve at various times been a television producer, in-house marketing executive for a restaurant chain and co-founder of a fashion non-profit) so incredibly fulfilling.
However, the time I’ve logged has taught me a great deal in terms of who makes it and who doesn’t. Leslie Sweeney, one of the founders of the iconic firm Art + Commerce, once remarked to me that “this is such a subjective business”. You go with your gut a lot, what appeals to you viscerally. The first impression I get when I review a portfolio is generally the truest. I have an especially soft spot for new artists, the kids who are only just beginning to dip their toes into these murky waters.
There are so many gifted shooters out there, who seemingly keep missing that big break, while others with less ability seem to move forward effortlessly. What is it, really, that separates the wheat from the chaff? What accounts for the rise and longevity of a Martin Schoeller or an Inez and Vinoodh?
I think the secret ingredient is hustle.
If I may, therefore, I’d like to line up what I believe fuels that flame:
1. Work. It’s not enough to be a good shooter anymore. There’s so much out there visually that standing out truly takes a borderline obnoxious form of persistence. In my own day-to-day, I’ve realized that to get things done, to get through to the people with whom I want to develop partnerships or cultivate as clients, I have to keep knocking at that door constantly. So too must the artist. The good news is that your natural creative bent will allow you to dream up ways to distinguish yourself without becoming a pain. Don’t be discouraged. Keep pushing.
2. Promotion, Including Lo-Fi. A photographer with a defined promotional strategy wins the day. Social media and online promotional activities are huge and important, but their very ubiquity in today’s business transactions makes a printed piece all the more distinctive. In defining your promotional budget (and you should have one) set aside funds for at least 1 printed piece that lands on the desks of the editorial staff or art buyers you’d like to work with. I’m a particular fan of useful promotions, so think of what you’d appreciate. Talk to an editor about his/ her workday and perhaps an ingenious idea may emerge, for example: a beautifully wrapped box with 5 prints in varying sizes, perfect for the office or home gallery wall. You’d be remembered because that sort of thing rarely happens and people love to get an unexpected package in the mail.
3. A Head for Business. Signing with an Agent does not abdicate your responsibility to know what is being done and what has been signed on your behalf. Take the time to read your contracts. In the digital age, they have become increasingly complex, as companies of all stripes recognize the content value and longevity of the images they commission. Often artists are so eager to be on board with a title, they will go straight to the signature page, only to discover later on that they’ve signed away all their rights. Even if you agree to take a hit financially for exposure, sit with the Assigning Editor and see what else they might be able to do in terms of promotion that might be helpful to you. Maybe you do a piece for the magazine on selfies that slides in some of your personal work. Or perhaps you can negotiate for 2-3 advertorials, that both pay and align you with a big brand. And when you do get an Agent, be sure they’re a good fit. Do your due diligence and ensure that they have the relationships they claim to, because we necessarily talk a good game. Insist on a 12 month plan-of-action and check in often to review how things are going and adjust strategy if necessary. As I once told an artist having issues with his Assignment Agent: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
4. Network Cultivation. Be out. Be visible. If you’re not a social animal, unfortunately you’ll have to become “that guy”. When I first started, I realized that a lot of important stuff gets discussed during the inevitable smoke breaks, so I made sure I was out there too. I’ve witnessed photographers get jobs over cocktails. If you’re not a drinker, corral a few editors for a coffee. Go to the openings of established artists- there are sure to be influential people present. And be prepared for opportunity with a quick little flip book on your phone and a sleek business card.
5. Shoot. A Lot. While you’re building your network, hone your art. Stretch yourself. One of the things I admire about the incredible Inez and Vinoodh is that they never settle. They are at the top of their game but they are always reaching, as if they only started yesterday and that’s why their work is consistently surprising and brilliant. I’m also still a big fan of technical prowess- you should know the correct way to light a set, for example, and not rely on the “take-a-ton-of-pictures-and-hope-some-come-out-right” methodology. All of this takes practice.
6. Niceness. We’re all human and people like to work with the people they like. Personality counts heavily toward landing an assignment and if you’re overbearing or throw up a wall in the face of suggestions, no one is going to want to spend hours dealing with that. This is particularly important during celebrity assignments. An A-list cover shoot has made (and broken) many a career. You want publicists to go: “The photographer has to be X” aka you.
That said, you need to be able to be the boss of your set. Be polite but firm, in charge but open.
The moral of the story? Anything worth having requires planning and considerable effort. This is applicable to anything in life, but particularly necessary in making it in the arts in a city teeming with talent.
Guest Post by Cybele Sandy, AUGUST
The quality and flexibility of the camera you shoot with can make a considerable difference in the finished quality and editing options for your video. Are you shooting on a $ 500 DV camera, a $2,500 DSLR, a $10,000 Full feature HD camera, a $25,000 RED, a $60,000 ARRI or are you shooting on Film? The pace of technological advancement in film and video is breathtaking and the features and capabilities of cameras are changing weekly. Bottom Line: You should be able to see the difference in the final output quality in more expensive cameras. If you can’t, then it’s not worth paying for. Your final delivery channel will also determine the need for specific cameras. Streamed video on the internet (where the vast majority of corporate videos are seen) doesn’t require high-end camera’s to capture your content because a lot of that quality will be lost in optimization for the web.Costs: You will spend between $25/hour and $400/hour or more depending on which digital camera package is used. Film cameras, lenses and stock will take you well over $1,000 /hour.Equipment. The more experienced video production companies tend to have a wide variety of tools and equipment on hand for each shoot. Do you need a track dolly or a jib-arm to create a shot with movement? Do you have a high quality field monitor to know exactly what you are getting (or not getting) as you shoot? Do you have all the necessary audio equipment (lav’s, direction mics, booms etc) to capture the audio you need? Lighting and framing are everything in video. Do you have lights – lots of different lights to accommodate a wide variety of shooting scenarios? Do you have a variety of lenses to create the specific feel you are after – wide angle, fixed focal length or Cine lenses for narrow depth of field, etc?Costs. Equipment cost can run anywhere from $25/hour to $100’s/hour or more depending on what specific equipment is required
You’ve probably seen and possibly heard the story of Eric Pickersgill’s body of work: REMOVED. How Eric noticed a family in a coffee shop all staring at their personal devices and simultaneously feeling disgusted dejected and realizing that he was that same family. So he created a series of images with the phones removed, “to show just how weird that can be”.
What you probably haven’t heard is what happens to a photographer when a series of images goes viral. And what can be done to harness some of that viral-ity to money and attention to the photographer whose images have been co-opted by the internet.
“It happened so fast. It still seems a little unreal,” Pickersgill chuckles. 2015 was already shaping up to be a great year for him as an emerging photographer, even before a friend at Business Insider asked to feature his work. Business Insider was the start. Views of Pickersgill’s feature quickly went from a few hundred to tens of thousands. A day later the work started popping up on other blog’s and online publications. How is a little hazy, as some of these early posts were used without an e-mail to him. This additional coverage helped push the work further; this is when sensible inquiries started. USE USE USE, WANT WANT WANT, e-mail after e-mail requesting images for publications we view every day.
The emails quickly ramped up to over 300 a day and Eric says, “money floated into my mind as an afterthought, but I soon realized I was going to need some help.” Almost without exception, the expectation was that images would be given for publication for free. He did not get too many “it will be great exposure for you” insults, but the sense was he would be eager to be published. And Eric was very eager to be published and a number of websites and blogs benefitted.
On the third day of this Eric called photo professional Julie Grahame, who he was introduced to by a mutual business friend. “I wasn’t sure the first time we spoke. I thought the work might just fizzle,” Grahame said. It’s funny to note that both Pickersgill and Grahame shared this thought upon first interactions before they agreed on working together. Pickersgill quickly came back around to Grahame after a day or so attempting the Internet solo. “Other countries started calling for the work. The Netherlands, South Africa, on and on.”
With so many inquiries on the table, Julie set out with Eric to prioritize those likely to have a budget. They agreed to just not get back to a bunch of people until they had managed the more practical clients. That was hard for Eric, he had to understand he wasn’t being rude, he was just staying sane. A couple of things likely slipped through the cracks, because it was so overwhelming, but they soon had several invoices out to various countries, and as each publication came out, they perpetuated the interest.
“Some clients I expected to have a budget said no, and when we refused to play, managed to find a little bit of cash”, says Julie of their interactions with clients. One German journalist said “I’m sure they do have a budget, I’ve just never seen it used” and then found them $200. They had to be creative and flexible – one client who Eric did an interview with had to process the fee as an equipment expense. With all the best intentions and efforts it is difficult to get a publisher to pay up-front but they did manage it on a few occasions.
Lots of people wanted interviews as well, but they still insisted on license fees for the majority of them. They also let go a bunch of websites who used images without permission that they felt it would be impractical to pursue.
“Collecting the money is the usual ongoing effort but we’ve done really well!”, says Julie, “I would like to add we have negotiated licenses that include an ad campaign, and a music video.” (As an aside, managing tax issues and incoming wire transfers from all over the world is a bit of a pain.)
There were also several requests for prints but Eric decided that “instead of jumping to make quick sales, he waited until he found a gallery who was interested in the work and who would then fulfill the print requests for him.” This manifested in an enthusiastic agreement with Rick Wester Fine Art, in New York within a month of going viral.
Family sitting next to me at Illium café in Troy, NY is so disconnected from one another. Not much talking. Father and two daughters have their own phones out. Mom doesn’t have one or chooses to leave it put away. She stares out the window, sad and alone in the company of her closest family. Dad looks up every so often to announce some obscure piece of info he found online. Twice he goes on about a large fish that was caught. No one replies. Eric is saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting. This has never happened before and he doubts we have scratched the surface of the social impact of this new experience. Mom has her phone out now. This is Pickersgill’s story, this is how it all began.
The photos are deeper, they delve into a history of portraiture, and they are as sculptural as they are narrative. Pickersgill’s images bridge a gap between fine art and editorial. They are full of repose and gesture and curiously, the hands of the subjects with their devices removed, create a nebulous sense of vacuum. Composition informs the subject’s relation; tonality and print quality capture awkward moments of estranged intimacy. In Pickersgill’s own words, “I have a strong connection to the body and photographing people.”
REMOVED incites a certain sense of joy hidden in the images’ absurdity. That’s not to say they’re a joke, laughter ensues because the photos allow a viewer to realize just how complicated they’ve made themselves. There’s a freedom in that.
Eric’s future isn’t clear, but there’s a whole lot of potential. The work will continue, and so too will the obsession with REMOVED. As long as people need reminding it seems pretty clear Pickersgill will have subjects to photograph. The body goes on adapting and relying, submitting itself. And maybe that’s the ultimate realization the work can impart. I don’t get the feeling that his photos are trying to say put down the technology, but to grow with each other and to raise the platform. The blinking lights and fun little gadgets will catch up.
This is how a promo is supposed to work. You open one and you are intrigued by the image so you go visit the photographers website. You really like what you see, so you file the promo away or tack it to your board, but then you head off to a meeting or go home for the day and immediately forget about the photographer.
Then the promos keep coming in (every month or two or three) and each time you are reminded how much you liked their work and each time you are enjoying the new image and then you begin to look forward to seeing the next one and then you start recognizing the envelopes when they come in. Eventually, you will hire them. This is how it is supposed to work and that why Sarah Wilmer deserves a special mention for sending promos in 2015.
There seem to be 7 popular types of promos (postcard, pack-of-singles, multi-panel, foldout, newsprint, zine and booklet). Of all 7 the booklet is the most difficult to get right. The printing and design need to be at a certain level to appeal to the advertising and editorial community but the real killer is the edit. Get it down to the best images, making a great sequence and stopping while you are ahead are all hallmarks of a great promo booklet. Here are many that I found compelling in 2015:
Photographers who have not returned a signed contract have continued to receive automated emails with the contract; one photographer has received it twice, another five times. But so far, many are ignoring it, or waiting to see if Time is willing to negotiate fairer terms. “I believe that any photographer who would consider accepting these terms must have little understanding of this industry and will surely regret it later on in their career,” says photographer Henry Leutwyler. “Hopefully, photographers will stick together and not only think for themselves but for each other and most importantly for the budding photographers of tomorrow. If the contract does indeed go through, it might be a good time to consider ditching the party and going fishing.”
Source: PDN Pulse
“It’s a work in which Koons fully appropriated his source, Sherrie Levine–style,” Harrison added. “So in this instance, the case for Koons having transformed the original would have to rely almost entirely on the status of Koons’ work as art. From an aesthetic point of view, it’s difficult not to see this as pure pilfering, in line with much postmodernist appropriation at the time.”
As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.
Today’s featured photographer is: Mark Rogers
How long have you been shooting?
I picked up my first camera when I was 9. It was a Kodak x15 Instamatic with one of those cube flashbulbs. The first image I ever remember taking was of our black cat sitting in a bed of red azalea bushes. I think the pet photography thing was predestined.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self taught. Both my dad and his dad were into photography and passed it on down to me. My grandfather was a newspaper reporter who shot his own stuff and my dad picked up the bug from him. I remember an image my dad took at a beach of a sandpiper running in the surf and thinking: “I want to be able to do that, too.” (see, animals again)
After that I did the classic shooting-for-a-high-school-year-book thing and always had a camera around but it stayed a hobby for a long, long time.
When I moved to San Francisco in the 90s I started volunteering at the San Francisco city animal shelter and began bringing my camera. Folks at the shelter started telling me the images were a lot different than the ones they were used to seeing of the animals there and that’s what inspired me to eventually leave my corporate job and spend my work day on the ground with dogs and cats instead of in a cubicle.
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
My career as a professional photographer had its roots in volunteerism and giving back and I continued doing pro bono work with animal welfare groups after I started shooting professionally 10 years ago. VET SOS (Veterinary Street Outreach Services) was one of the early ones. I knew immediately I’d found something special. When you go to one of those clinics and see firsthand the special bond between the homeless clients and their animals it’s a life changer. I knew it pretty much couldn’t not be a project after my second clinic. I photographed a young woman with her puppy while he got his first veterinary exam. Six months later I got an email from her out of the blue and she said she’d seen the photos online and sent one of her and the puppy to her parents. It was the first time they’d communicated in over a year but started them talking again. She moved back home a month later and was still there with her dog getting her life back in order. That blew me away.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
Truth be told it’s been presented in bits and pieces the entire time. VET SOS has used a number of images over the years to help with fundraising and shots have appeared in a book on the human-animal bond as well as an exhibit in LA on pets of the homeless. I decided about 6 months ago to make it part of my project portfolio on my new website and it finally saw the light of day a few weeks ago when that site finally rolled out.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I tend to have a hard time letting go of something once I start it so I’ll do my best to either make it work or see if there’s a way to use anything I’ve already shot on something else in the future. I find that if I stop working on something for a bit and go back to it another angle or approach becomes clear.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
With the personal work I feel like I can stretch a bit more and worry less about specific outcomes. Portfolio and advertising jobs shoots are very planned out. They’re produced and lot more controlled. Granted, any shoot involving animals has an element of unpredictability but the VET SOS clinics are essentially veterinary MASH units set up in the middle of a street. There’s dozens of people and animals and no room for much equipment. It’s generally just me and my camera trying to stay out of the way and catch the moments so there’s not really time to plan it and do special set ups. It’s a lot more freeing but also tougher to get images you really want because of nasty light conditions or people walking in front of you at the perfect moment. I don’t know for sure if any given shot is going to work until afterwards but I also think that lack of control over all the external factors helps me focus a bit more. I don’t want to make it sound like combat photography but the element of risk of not being able to get a shot seems to make for a better shot.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I post quite a bit on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. VET SOS actually posts the images on their facebook page and a lot of the clients are on facebook and have email. That was something that really surprised me.
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Not quite viral yet but there’s more and more broad interest in tackling the homeless issue in the US and with a program like VET SOS where you have that plus the amazing bond between the homeless and their animals it’s something I hope the press and public takes more interest in.
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
My first book, was just published in October and many of the images in it were from personal projects I’ve done over the years. I’ve started sending that out as a piece to past and potential clients and have some other promos in the works for next year.
VET SOS (Veterinary Street Outreach Services) provides veterinary care to the companion animals of homeless San Franciscans through monthly mobile clinics. The relationships between these animals and their human guardians are some of the most profound examples of the human-animal bond I’ve ever seen and I’ve been continually drawn to them as subjects since I began volunteering with VET SOS in 2007.
Mark Rogers is a San Francisco–based pet photographer known for his ability to draw out the personalities and emotions of his animal and human subjects and the special bond they share. His eye-catching, often humorous images of dogs, cats, and other critters appear regularly in national advertising campaigns and print publications. Mark’s first book, Thanks for Picking Up My Poop: Everyday Gratitude From Dogs was recently published by Ulysses Press.
APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.
Every still photographer I know is struggling. But every still photographer I know that also does video is really busy. I love still photography. It’s the root of my whole career and I’m never going to abandon it. But it’s not enough by itself.
Source: The New York Times
Valuable information from Heather Elder Represents
DISSECTING THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS DOCUMENT On a few recent projects, we have spent a lot more time than usual reviewing specific terms and going back and forth with both agencies and lawyers to come up with language that works for everyone. During these particular projects, I often felt at a bit of a disadvantage when there were lawyers involved and wishing we had one of our own to help navigate our point of view.
I figured we were not alone in this thinking so asked attorney Linda Joy Kattwinkel of Owen, Wickersham & Erickson, P.C. if she would help dissect a generic Terms and Conditions Document that we can share with our readers. People were so appreciative of the information she shared regarding Copyright, we figured they would feel the same about Terms and Conditions.
The documents are a bit long and dense, so we are breaking this series up in a few posts.
The format we thought most helpful would be to 1) review the term 2) translate the term into layman’s language and 3) ask any relevant questions.
In 2013, I was commissioned by Ilex Press and Hachette to write a book entitled “What They Didn’t Teach You in Photo School,” which just launched in the U.S. this month. The entire book is essentially a long cheat sheet on how to make it in the industry, based on the wisdom and advice of over 20+ photographers, photo editors, consultants, and industry leaders that I interviewed over the course of a year.
Though they covered every photography-related topic imaginable—from portfolio editing to managing finances—their collective advice can essentially be distilled into the following points. I hope you’ll find the following tips as helpful and enlightening as I did, regardless of how long you’ve been in the industry.
Find a mentor.
“You should never be the smartest person in the room,” was the best advice anyone ever gave me. It applies very literally to a career in photography: surround yourself with people who are smarter than you—they’ll push you to grow. Almost all of the photographers I interviewed cited a mentor, someone they went to for advice even long after they’d “made it,” someone who offered continual guidance and feedback on their work (generally a more illustrious, seasoned photographer). “Tap into the wisdom and genius of those who came before you,” advises commercial photographer Peter “Poby” Pobypicz. “Learn from their mistakes and lessons.”
Without exception, the most successful photographers I met were the ones who treated their photography career like the business that it is. “The thing that holds back a lot of photographers is not having a plan, simply going from gig to gig,” says commercial and documentary photographer Doug Menuez. “They don’t have an understanding of the business side—the thing we all hate—and as a result, they never have enough cash to create the portfolio and marketing they need to establish themselves. It’s necessary to write a business plan that clearly states what the end game is, and how you see yourself getting there over however many years.”
Though making a living entirely from taking photographs is the dream, it’s becoming increasingly harder to realize. The reality is that to survive in this industry in the long-term, you’ll need to get creative and find ways to capitalize on your passion in more ways than one. “I would strongly advise having multiple income streams across different sectors of the industry, because unless you are a category killer, you are not going to make a living doing 100% editorial,” says photographer Robert Wright. “More likely, you’ll need a mix of publishing, stock, book publishing, corporate, consulting—some sort of blend so that when one revenue stream dwindles the others take up the slack.”
Now, more than ever, making the effort to meet people and cultivate real world relationships is crucial to a photographer’s success. “Getting out there is key,” says Pobypicz. “You can’t sit at home hoping the phone will ring if you don’t show your face, literally. Insist on face-to-face meetings with clients you want to work with.” Even making real life connections that are indirectly work-related—taking a fellow photographer out for a beer, meeting a photo editor for coffee—helps to build networks that can serve you in the future.
Think outside the box.
Experts say that there’s no better time to be different, so don’t concern yourself too deeply with what will “sell,” or try to adapt your individual style into something that’s more commercial or mainstream. “Don’t be afraid of niche areas you’re interested in,” says Menuez. “There’s this amazing work being done by a guy shooting dogs jumping in pools that’s getting lots of attention. Now it’s all about finding your own thing that’s all yours, that you are passionate about, and then shoot that like hell.”
Have a good attitude.
Think it’s common sense? You’d be surprised. “This industry seems to spawn some huge egos of the ‘legends-in-their-own-mind’ variety, and in my experience, it always catches up with them,” says Ellen Erwitt, owner and producer at Big Splash Productions. “There are many photographers that can do one given job, and, all things being equal, the one that will get hired is the one with the best attitude and most simpatico personality. The one who contributes yet listens, is receptive to ideas, and is a team player.”
For more detailed advice on how to make it in today’s industry, pick up a copy of “What They Didn’t Teach You in Photo School,” available at Barnes & Noble stores, local bookstores, Urban Outfitters stores, and online at Amazon.com.
Yes, photography is so easy it’s ridiculous and that’s what makes it so hard. In the end it’s not so much about making the pictures it’s what you do with them. It’s about process, having an idea, making the pictures and then giving them life.
It seems to me that so many photographers have a very narrow view of process. Because the image making part is so captivating, so seductive, it’s easy to make the pictures with no idea in mind and no end in sight.
The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.
In other words, we have what we have. If the sun shines on a patch of desert, and there are no solar panels to collect the energy, it will be absorbed into the dirt.
I recently read that if we burn all the fossil fuels currently embedded within the Earth, seas will rise by 200 feet. Cities, at least those on coasts, will be obliterated.
No matter how many times these scary stats are bandied about the Interverse, so little seems to change. Today, South Carolina is under water. Tomorrow, perhaps California will be aflame.
So few of us do anything potent with such information. Our brains, small as they are, focus on the day to day. Putting food on the table. Paying the rent or mortgage. Buying some beer at the corner store.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
But then, some Art tries to put it in our face, like Christopher Nolan’s flawed but ambitious “Interstellar,” which pre-visualizes an Earth that no longer produces food for its inhabitants.
Is such a future imminent? I certainly hope not.
But sometimes, I look at a photo book, and it does make me wonder. Even if that’s not the “subject” of an artist’s work, the visual impact kicks off my imagination, and I begin to worry.
We’re not being hypothetical today, though. (We seldom are.) I just put down “Prophet,” by the Belgian artist Geert Goiris, published by ROMA, and I’m about ready to hide under my white kitchen table and pray for the best.
Not too long ago, I gave away the secret to the kind of work that will often provoke a review. Abstracted, edgy, metaphorical, referential without being literal. Artsy, if you will.
And this book hits that sweet spot for sure.
No words. No obvious connection between images, but the themes are there if you’re willing to look. Masks. Ice. People suited up for an eternal winter? Asteroid-like objects occupying lawns, or the center of a home.
Portraits encased in glass. Snowscapes rendered in night-vision-green, or eerie, screen-glow-blue. Greasy chicken feet and necks. A bottle of water, caught in the exact tipping point between standing and prone. (Tipping point, get it?)
These pictures are cool as hell. Rarely have I seen color and B&W images mixed together this well. And the end notes state that the work was shown at Foam in Amsterdam earlier this year, which comes as no surprise to me. (Though I do wonder about the music-accompanied-slideshow that happened in Paris, which is also mentioned.)
A title page, at the end, gives us hints, like “Breach,” “The Future,” “Black Friday,” “Forecast,” and “Torrent.”
Are the end times ahead? I sure hope not. I’ve got two young children, and I’d feel like quite the asshole if I were a part of a generation that left them to rot.
But we can’t know what comes next. That’s just a part of the deal we accepted when we emerged from the birth canal. And while it might not have been Geert Goiris’s intention to put me in such a mood today, his pictures did it just the same.
Bottom Line: Edgy, eerie pictures of the world we inhabit- for now.
TIM BLANKS: Do you think you were looking for yourself in those photos? There was a strand in your work for a long time of very ambiguous, beautiful people with long black hair.
Steven Meisel: I think I’m in every picture that I take, regardless of whether it’s a super-commercial something; it’s all me. So am I looking for myself in those kinds of photographs? It’s not intentional; it’s just a sensitivity. Thinking of the Sean pictures: Am I looking for me in them? No, I am them.
TB: Does that mean that everyone in your photos is an alter ego in a way?
SM: Um, not in every one, but yes, to a certain extent, sure.
TB: Thinking of your photos of Linda [Evangelista], for example, there’s a real symbiosis in those images.
SM: Yeah, that’s me, absolutely. That’s a part of who I am. But I have to be honest—I don’t know what I do. I learn more about what I do from other people asking me questions or commenting. It’s nothing I think about; I just do it.
TB: But are there moments when you stop to think, “God, I did that one well”?
TB: You mean it’s always on to the next thing?
SM: Yes. Emotionally, it’s very difficult for me to look at old work. That’s why it was so hard to do the Phillips thing. I either look at what I could have done better, or I start crying. I’m ridiculously sensitive, that’s just who I am, so it’s really tough for me to look at old pictures.
TB: Even when you’re looking at those pictures which I think of as a conspiracy between you and Linda? You don’t feel a thrill?
SM: I always get sad.
TB: You mean melancholy at the transience of everything?
SM: I’m not going to get into the whole meaning of life—of which there isn’t one anyway—but yes.
TB: What thrills me is your ability to re-create atmospheres, to evoke times and places and artists that meant so much to me. I’m assuming they meant a lot to you too.
SM: It’s a part of who I am, of who you are. It’s our experiences and our eyes and our hearts, of growing up when we did.
Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply.
Your rights as a photographer:
Read more here: Know Your Rights: Photographers | American Civil Liberties Union.
A reader sent me this question awhile back:
Lately I have been hearing about photographers with ” vision” or “photographic voice”. I guess with everyone being able to do everything technique is kinda not as important as vision? Some quotes I’ve read heard recently”true style is vision” “those who are in demand have vision or a voice and people want to buy into that”. So my question is…what do you think photographic vision or voice is? And who do you think displays it? What photographers would you point to who have “it”?
“The Norwegian press as a whole, has made a joint statement to never sign any contracts put forward by artists or their management pushed forward by concert photographers, as can be read here. In Norway, most concert photographers are, in essence, photojournalists and identify more or less as such. And because of that, we are part of the press. We are not 100 concert photographers, but 7000 journalists.Together we have a powerful voice. We generally do not meet any photo contracts, and the few we do, never gets signed. And because of that, contracts get fewer and fewer. With the press associations and unions behind us, we actually have a powerful voice against such demands, and the contracts get dropped (though, it has to be said that the local promoters have done tremendous work as well in that regard, but without all of the press acting like a collective, they would have no incentive to waiver the contracts). The aforementioned Foo Fighters contract? Guess what: that was not presented to the photographers in Norway. I can’t even remember the last time I “had” to sign a contract. That’s what having some integrity gets you.”