There are photographers who can juggle these two impulses, but most fail. Better to either take the path of making money or making art. In my case, I didn’t plan on making a living with my art. I had a job at an art museum and figured that would be my future, but kept doing my art as a separate activity. I’m glad I kept it separate. Had I tried to become a commercial photographer, I couldn’t have kept my focus.
Rent Bending The Light on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/bendingthelight/125079271
Everybody has this romanticized vision of what you’re doing — a little bit of Robert Kincaid in the “Bridges of Madison County.” The truth is, we are like the Expendables. We’re like Sylvester Stallone and Terry Crews and they are bringing us in when there is some guy who has been kidnapped in Kazakhstan and they’ve got to get him out. And it’s ugly, it’s not pretty. There is never an excuse of like, it rained or my camera didn’t work. You don’t have too many second chances.
My biggest regrets tend to be holistic — about an entire story and the approach I took — rather than a specific incident where I screwed something up. Because the truth is, man, it’s just pictures and not that big of a deal. We’re not doing heart transplants or rescuing people from tall buildings. It’s easy to think we’re more important than we are. Some of the most experienced photographers died trying to photograph things they believed in. Friends of ours. I photograph dogs, so what’s going to happen? Something is going to pee on you, what’s the big deal?
Not getting into Unbound! means nothing. Rejection from other competitions, exhibitions, grant proposals… those rejections mean nothing. Yes, getting into a competition is cool, over-the-moon excellent. And we hope that if you get into Unbound4! that you will see that as a genuine compliment. If you get in to this show, we are going to spend our time installing your work, looking at your work, promoting your work, trying to sell it off the walls, maybe end up buying it ourselves, and finally returning it if it isn’t sold. Getting in to this exhibition means we really like your work. Not getting in does not, however, mean the opposite. Not getting in means nothing. We reject a lot, A LOT, of quality work. Our gallery is only so large. We have invited several artists, as we do each year, and so some of the space is spoken for, which means of the 400+ submissions, there are 1,300 or 1,400 images to consider and we are looking for maybe 25-30 pieces. Sure, it is pretty easy getting down to the most serious contenders for the show. But we probably begin the real struggle once we have maybe a couple hundred images or so to consider.
Wow. Just Wow.
Larry Fink has spent over 40 years photographing jazz musicians, wealthy manhattanites, his neighbors, fashion models, and the celebrity elite. His archive is a thoughtful collection of American history, and Fink’s experience of it. See the project at http://mediastorm.com/clients/2015-icp-infinity-awards-art-larry-fink
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: Paolo Marchesi
How long have you been shooting?
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I went to Brooks Institute of Photography
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Living in Montana I had seen many rodeos, some smaller and others bigger and more commercialized. I find the bigger, more commercialized, rodeos to eventually get repetitive and not so interesting. Shooting the high school rodeo took all the commercial aspect out and it made it for a true experience. I was blown away by how good and tough these kids were. They are the real deal cowboys.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I had shot many rodeos over the years of living in Montana but none touched me as much as this one. You could truly feel the tension and energy. These kids and their parents put their soul into it and it showed.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I tend to get distracted too easily by my many interests. I find it difficult to shoot the same thing over and over. I usually move from personal project to personal project. I like to experience it all and if you look at my body of work it shows. At times it can be detrimental as people like to see photographers who specialize.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I never shoot for my portfolio, my personal work is my portfolio. Since the beginning of my career as a photographer I only photographed things that I was passionate about or involved in. I never specifically photographed subjects that might sell or get me a job. If I am not interested in them I don’t shoot them. I became a photographer by documenting my lifestyle and activities I participate in.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I post on facebook and instagram. I started writing short stories in chapters on Instagram and has been fun. I love story telling using images and words. I just finished three stories about my dogs that had quite some success. You can check them out on Instagram @marchesiphoto
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Yes, I had a picture of a trout jumping and a river surfing story I wrote and photographed that went viral. For sure great press but I can’t associate much monetary gain from it.
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes, I have printed them as promos.
It all started with that trout at age 4. It was a beautiful morning on the Sesia River in the Italian Alps. Who would have known that a fish could change someone’s life forever. Many years and more fish went by before I graduated in Design from The Istituto Europeo Di Design, in Milan. I worked as a Junior Art Director in Paris and as a designer in Italy until I picked up a camera. It didn’t take long to realize that T squares and rulers weren’t for me. I grabbed the camera and flew across the Atlantic to move to Santa Barbara California where I graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography with a Degree in Commercial Photography. Upon graduation I packed my bags and moved to San Francisco. San Francisco is a cool city, and no one can deny it but every time I drove to Hat Creek or the Owens River to fly fish or the Sierras to climb something happened inside me. The peace and beauty of rivers and mountains inspired me and raised many questions. I had been working in the city for 5 years, doing mostly digital and studio photography until one day stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge on my way to Yosemite I asked myself why? I watched the driver next to me honk in anger at the stranger in front of him and asked myself why again? I asked myself why many times until in spring 1999 I packed everything and moved to Montana. I wanted to be closer to my cold blooded friends and nature, away from stress and a crowded existence. A few years later, while visiting my brother in Indonesia, I discovered surfing and rekindled my passion for the Ocean. I realized I needed surf and Ocean in my life to have a complete picture. I decided to buy a house in Todos Santos, Mexico and have been splitting my life between the two places. Working worldwide from Mexico and Montana focusing my photography on the outdoor activities I love to do and being outside in nature in search for a new adventure. Couldn’t do it any differently…
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.
I remember your picture of a Spanish woman throwing water into the street. Was this staged?
A. I would not have hesitated to ask her to throw the water. (I don’t object to staging if and only if I feel that it is an intensification of something that is absolutely authentic to the place.)
Q. Cartier-Bresson never asks for this…. Why do you break this basic rule of candid photography?
A. I didn’t write the rules — why should I follow them? Since I put a great deal of time and research to know what I am about? I ask and arrange if I feel it is legitimate. The honesty lies in my — the photographer’s — ability to understand.
Q. Why do you print your own pictures?
A. The same reason a great writer doesn’t turn his draft over to a secretary… I will retouch.
LH: How important is composition in your photographs?
JK: It’s not a good photograph without good composition. Originally I’m an aeronautical engineer. Why do airplanes fly? Because there is balance.
A good photograph speaks to many different people for different reasons. It depends on what people have been through and how they react.
The other sign of good photography for me is to ask, “What am I going to remember?” It happens very, very rarely that you see something that you can’t forget, and this is the good photograph.
via PDN Online.
Bravo to World Press Photo for taking a leadership role in the debate of what levels of image enhancements, adjustments and manipulation are acceptable for photojournalism. As the winners of this years contest were announced the news that 20% of images that made the final round were rejected for “manipulation or careless post-processing” left many people with jaws agape.
You can engage in the debate with the links below (if you haven’t already), but I wanted to highlight what I think are very important changes in how image adjustments are viewed.
David Campbell, Secretary of the 2015 Photo Contest jury, tweeted out the following:
This means no significant material may be added or removed by either cloning or substantial toning.
— David Campbell (@davidc7) February 12, 2015
Jury based decision on outcome (whether significant material had been added or removed) irrespective of technique (cloning or toning) used.
— David Campbell (@davidc7) February 12, 2015
All images are processed. Levels of processing that do not add or remove content a matter for aesthetic judgement.
— David Campbell (@davidc7) February 12, 2015
Levels of processing that do not add or remove content a matter for aesthetic judgement, and do not break contest rule.
— David Campbell (@davidc7) February 12, 2015
This is a major departure from the old standard of “digital darkroom” which tried to allow old darkroom techniques used by many of the great photojournalists.
This departure is highlighted by Jury chairwoman, Michele McNally in a story on the lens blog titled “Debating the Rules and Ethics of Digital Photojournalism” where she states:
“digital is not film, it is data — and it requires a new and clear set of rules”
It’s also worth noting that World Press Photo called in all the RAW files for images in the penultimate round and then had independent experts perform forensics on the images and present their findings to the jury.
I think World Press Photo has taken some important steps this year in leading by example. The old darkroom technique of burning and dodging things out of your images are OUT but processes that adjust the aesthetics are IN.
In a clear violation of the ASME (American Society of Magazine Editors) Guidelines, Condé Nast has asked their Editors to write advertorials for the magazines they edit:
Condé Nast caused a stir in the media world Monday when it announced plans for a new studio that will allow marketers to work directly with editors at its magazines to create “branded content,” ads designed to blend in with regular articles.
ASME Editorial Guidelines state:
9. Don’t Ask Editors to Write Ads
Editorial staff should not participate in the creation of advertising. Editorial contributors should not participate in the creation of advertising if their work would appear to be a conflict of interest.
The Board of Directors reserves the right to expel from membership in ASME any editor of a print or online magazine who willfully or repeatedly violates the ASME Guidelines for Editors and Publishers.
The National Magazine Awards are tonight and they’re even giving renown photojournalist James Nachtwey an award for Creative Excellence. I wonder if ASME will stick up for editors and next year The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, W, Wired, GQ, Bon Appétit, Traveler and Details will not be allowed to participate? Challenging times for magazines for sure.
At least fifty percent of the image is done in the darkroom—I think Gene would say ninety percent. The negative has the image, but it can’t produce the image completely, as the photographer saw it—not as Gene saw it. You have to work it over and over with the enlarger, you have to burn it in, you have to hold back areas—this detail down here or over there.”
Karales continued, getting more specific about the technique: “Gene always liked to get separations around people, figures, and that was always done with potassium ferrocyanide. It was the contrast that made the prints difficult. Gene saw the contrast with his eyes, but the negative wouldn’t capture it the same way. So he would have to bring the lamp down and burn, and then if that spilled too much exposure and made it too dark, you would lighten it with the ferrocyanide. You had to be careful not to get the ferrocyanide too strong, and yet you couldn’t have it too weak, either. If it took too long, it would spread. So I would blow the fixer off of the paper so ferrocyanide would stay in an area, and then dunk the paper right away to kill the action. Or if you wanted something to go smoother, then you left the fixer there. It was extremely delicate and complicated, but we got it down pat.”
Photographers Rep, Heather Elder, has a conversation with her photographers every year defining creatively and financially what a successful 2015 will look like. She has a post up on her blog notesfromarepsjournal.com with two very important trends happening in our industry: http://notesfromarepsjournal.com/2015/01/13/want-to-know-what-we-told-our-photographers-about-2015
These trends reveal a change in the conversation she has with creatives where it is now assumed that anyone being considered is 100% right for the project and has the talent, vision and skills to pull it off.
Now, instead of scrutinizing your work, it is about how much can you shoot? What is your vision for the photography? Do you have similar libraries to show the client? There will be a lot of moving parts, how will you produce this project? Are you willing to negotiate? And, will they enjoy being on the production with the photographer?
And social media is a natural conduit where these conversations can begin. Many photographers have the chops, but are not having the conversation with their potential clients. Here’s a post to push you in the right direction.
I can take a significantly better looking image with my iPhone today, than I could with a $22K digital camera in 1999. A teenager can share an image so much more easily with millions of people, for free, and do so so much more quickly, than I could as a photojournalist at The New York Times less than a decade ago… and that’s amazing, and at times of course: scary.
Both the QUALITY and COST have been evened out within our business: and historically that’s relatively rare.
The question we now must all ask ourselves as creative professionals is: how do we survive within this new landscape? (especially in one that is moving so fast!)
[…] Well then answer has been around for awhile. It’s nothing new: it’s called SKILL and KNOWLEDGE OF (and respect of) CRAFT.
Am I an idealist? SURE – but I also think I’m quite grounded in reality. And I think that as the cameras become ubiquitous, as everyone gravitates towards the same tools, the playing field will truly become leveled, and ironically we’ll discover that our only true differentiator in time will become the author’s understanding of how they can best put those tools into use. That is what will ultimately set us apart from one another. The exponentially increasing camera technology will indeed be its own worst enemy.
— Vincent Laforet
Read the whole post on: Vincent Laforet’s Blog.
PDN: What kinds of changes to the industry had the biggest impact on your work as an agent?
JR: Before I answer, I should say that the governing principles remain the same. It’s a timeless dynamic, going door-to-door flogging stuff. There’s all sorts of nuance, but it only takes one bout of sitting in an advertising agency’s reception area surrounded by portfolios—waiting for the assistant art buyer to totter out and escort you to a conference room—to allay any doubt that there’s something fundamentally Willy Loman about the whole gig. That hasn’t changed. Nor has the fact that we need them more than they need us.
There were times I’d take some conference call, having stepped away from the dinner table at home; I’d be pacing about on the porch, gesticulating like a spastic cranefly, snorting, laughing too loud, spouting platitudes about “authenticity” and “shooting from the inside out.” Then I’d come back in and there’d be [my family] Juliette, Winnie and Dusty staring at me with half eaten meals and that collective “who the fuck are you?” look. Like the girls had just watched their dad dance on a bar in a Speedo for nachos.
Digital changed the landscape. Before the pixel, craft was still an elemental component of the narrative. A process that involved trusting strips of cellulose in a mysterious dark box was replaced by instant, impeccable rendering, in situ on vast monitors. The photographer’s role as sorcerer and custodian of the vision was diminished: The question “have we got it?” became redundant. Now it was the photographer asking the art director asking the client. Which is a big deal. Because the previous dialectic was that you engaged people who brought something to the party you couldn’t provide yourself. Like Magi, the “creatives” brought creativity; photographers, vision. By abdicating those responsibilities to the guy who’s paying, you’re undergoing a sort of self-inflicted castration. A culture of fear and sycophancy develops. Self-worth diminishes, because nobody really likes being a eunuch, even a well-paid one. There’s less currency in having a viewpoint. The answer to the question “What have you got to say?” drifts towards “What do you want me to say?” There’s reward in being generic, keeping one’s vision in one’s pocket. Trouble is, when your vision has spent too long in your pocket, sometimes you reach for it and it’s not there any more. Something Pavlovian sets in: the bell rings when it’s kibble-time and you drool on cue. Suddenly many jobs can be done by many people, photographers become more interchangeable, the question of “Why him over her?” shifts to ancillary aspects of the process; personality, speed, stamina, flexibility. And there’s profit in mutability; being able to gather several photographers under a single umbrella with a shared mandate makes you more flexible and attractive. But the corrosive byproduct is that the unique sniper’s eye of a Greg Miller, Chris Buck, James Smolka, Sian Kennedy becomes not only less relevant, but actually an obstacle. In shifting ground to garner a larger share of the mainstream, you risk losing identity, licking the hand that feeds you.
There were other strands that played into this shift. The “make it look like my niece could have shot it” esthetic; the bespoke corporate stock library with its emphasis on bulk delivery of cliché; endless emphasis on “aspirational” as a reaction to difficult economic times. Oh, and how about the Death of Print? Half the industry getting fired in a month and no sign of a magazine this side of Bulgaria. Loop back to the top. Add decimation and fear.
Read More: PDN Online.