Personal Projects: Nicolo Sertorio

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Nicolo Sertorio

Artist statement:

I consider myself privileged: I am white, male, educated, healthy, living in the Western world. I am, however, part of a ‘disenchanted generation’: born after WWII when globalization seemed like a great idea, a path towards one big happy family, only to be awakened to a hard reality of inequality and environmental abuse. Nowadays hardly a day goes by without some alarming news: ice melting, fresh water contamination, overpopulation, corporate greed, food poisoning, oil dependency, wealth inequality, the list goes on. It seems the world lost its mystery to become the playground of the very few at the expense of the rest. I believe the resulting sense of powerlessness has left us disenfranchised, resulting in a lack of social or environmental accountability.

But is this really the only way? Do we really need to follow this dead-end path?

I experience the context for the work as presenting the viewer with a world where humanity’s need for insatiable consumption has led it to the ultimate consumption, that of the consumption of the self. From this point we are brought to a world where humanity has disappeared and only nature remains, in its solemness. Nature has endured and now overcome the weight of humanity’s selfish behaviours and we are reunited with nature’s beauty and mystery.

Presented as a hypothetical archeological study on the nature of co-existence, it is my hope that we can still assume both global and individual responsibility, that we can still change our path forward.

To see more of this project, click here.

Gallery Exhibit and opening in tonight, September 7th in San Francisco here

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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit – Erik Asla: The Stillness of Motion

- - The Daily Edit

 

 

Erik Asla

I know you were a  Herb Ritts protégé what were key insights he offered and how difficult was it not to follow his footsteps?
I think the main value of working with Herb was to realize how important it is to always aim for perfection. He never stopped doing exactly that. It’s challenging and hard at times. Also, I saw how he was able to make people feel at ease by focusing all attention on his subjects, whether celebrities, models or ordinary people. In my eyes, that was his main gift in addition to his keen eye, communication.

Herb is not someone whose footsteps one automatically tries to follow. He was one of a kind. I did not want to become a poor replica of the master, so I took deliberate steps to go a different route.

In a sentence describe what it’s like to have a mentor?
In the best of times, it is an extremely rewarding relationship for both parties. Usually, with lots of sacrifices on the part of the protegé.

 

How did your former law schooling transcend into your photographic career, if at all? 
Did not transcend at all, but I realize I have a creative and an analytical side. Needless to say, the analytical side has been completely sidetracked for the last couple of decades.

How did you make the transition from commercial to fine art?
It was more of a necessary evolution than anything else. The desire to create something that represents my way of seeing without embellishments or the influence of other visions.

Your fine ark work, The Stillness of Motion celebrates the organic beauty with a linear eye; we don’t feel rushed nor pushed into a lane. What was your creative message?
I try to capture imagery that resonates with who I am, how I see things, how I think, dream. What my preferences in life are. All of that, really. The serenity and graphic simplicity envelop everything I am and strive for.

How many images did you shoot in order to refine it to the edit you currently have?
Multiple thousands. I guess that’s partly why it’s rewarding when I feel that I have one that stands out. Because the road to getting there is often quite long.

Describe the creative space you feel when in your commissioned work vs the fine art?
Ideally, you want to have the same freedom in commissioned work as in fine art. Though in reality, that is seldom possible. Fine art is so unconstrained, so liberating. In the end, all that matters is that you create something that resonates with yourself and your audience. And that you do it without compromises or short cuts.

This Week in Photography Books: Gary Isaacs

 

All summer, here in the column, I contrasted projects made by insiders and outsiders.

It wasn’t intentional. We didn’t have a big staff meeting, with a conference table covered with donuts, and brainstorm all the different themes I might develop.

There are no staff meetings.
There is no table.
And donuts are for cops and stoners.

Rather, things seem to evolve in certain directions, when you have a weekly column for 6 years.

Today, though, I want to take the issue head on. No oblique references, or silly puns. This question is core to the history and future of photography, so let’s go there.

The French have a word, “flaneur,” that all of us are taught in art school. It means a wanderer, but not in the sense of some Dude named Cooter who rides the rails, and needs a shower more than America needs a new President.

Rather, in photography terms, a flaneur is one who visits new places, roams the streets with a camera, and is constantly on the lookout for the daily drama of real life.

Many, if not most photographers have been there at some point, and I can personally attest I devoted my life to photography after a certain 5-day-cross-country-road-trip, camera in hand.

It’s a fact that the camera, as a machine, has the power to change human experience. Once you’ve gotten a hold of one, and realize how drastically it alters how you see and feel the world around you, it’s hard to go back to a less-well-lived life.

But if you study photography, go to art school, and try to make a career of it, most of the time, you gravitate towards more structured projects. You’re encouraged, for good reason, to make work about what you already know: to mine your expertise for knowledge-wisdom-nuggets, and render said information in visual form.

It’s advice I’ve received, and have dispensed myself.

These days, most people want to dig deep into their own cultural, gender or class-based experiences. (Not surprising, given the prominence of identity politics in many institutions of higher learning.) You’re encouraged to stay in your lane, essentially, rather than aimlessly explore other viewpoints.

They’re two accepted ways of doing things, (wandering and tunneling,) and I’d argue it’s the middle ground that gets tricky.

We saw evidence of that at Antidote, which I opened up to a few of my former UNM-Taos students, free of charge, so they could get the benefit of the world class teachers I brought to town.

One Antidote student was making work in and about a small, Hispanic community in Northern New Mexico, where he had few ties, and he got feedback pushing him to defend the decision. We probed for actual connection, but he rebuffed us, believing his intellectual interest allowed him to investigate another culture, even though he didn’t officially belong.

More power to him, but it’s a rough road.

Conversely, one of my local students had done work, in my class, about “descansos”: roadside memorials to people who’ve been killed.

It’s a popular subject, as they are visually compelling, and I even reviewed such a project at Photo NOLA a few years ago. That time, the pictures had been made by a white, Jewish lady who came in from out-of-state.

Work like that, done by outsiders who are doing more than just wandering, has come under fire lately, as it’s called “cultural appropriation.” I’ve defended the practice here, and would again, under other circumstances.

But what we saw at Antidote gives me pause.

The Antidote crew was rapt during the descanso critique, because my former student had photographed memorials to her dead friends and family. With each memorial, she told us who had died, and how the tragedy unfolded. There is a lot of death and violence in Taos, so the project becomes a metaphor for a culture few outsiders can possibly understand.

The pictures are well-made, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that they were constructed out of pain, out of heartache, sent a strong energy through the critique. Such information can be conveyed through text or video as well, but I witnessed the vibe coming right from the pictures on screen.

It was hard not to compare the two projects. One came from personal experience, the other because sometimes people need to find a project for school, or assignment, or to keep pushing the rock up the hill.

I’m not saying one way is better than the other, and I’m even contemplating my first major curatorial effort, exploring a “foreign” culture, because that’s where my curiosity is taking me.

Where is this rant coming from?
(You always ask the right questions at the right time.)

I just put down “Chinatown,” a new self-published book that came in the mail the other day, from Gary Isaacs. (Not sure on this, but I’m guessing he’s a member of the tribe too.)

This book, all grainy, moody black and white, stems from an assignment in San Francisco’s North Beach, the introduction tells us. Gary did his work there, but found himself powerfully drawn to that exotic neighborhood right next door. (Having photographed SF Chinatown myself in the past, and cruised its streets earlier this summer, I can attest it’s insanely photogenic.)

Not content with his first efforts, Gary went back a few times, to flesh out his vision, and said he spent 15 full days photographing 30 square blocks. Structurally, it fits somewhere between a straight flaneur story, and something a little deeper.

The neighborhood is vibrant, and obviously different. It looks great, because it represents a historical immigrant culture, with its fascinating visual signifiers, yet is surrounded by a more traditional America. (OK, maybe it’s not wise to brand San Francisco as normal America, but you get my point.)

When you look at this book, there is no sense you’re getting an intellectually supported, politically motivated, culturally nuanced vision of the world. There will be no graduate thesis written about these pictures, nor will anyone start a Twitter Hashtag war, like they did for #IronFistSoWhite.

The sprit of the wanderer, of one who’s addicted to the joy of seeing, permeates the pages. I’d argue this book can be a catalyst for all of us to turn our attention back onto the world around us, and try to see it with fresh eyes.

(And if you insist the pictures represent a white person’s cliché vision of Asian culture, you’re welcome to that opinion.)

I just read a piece in GQ, by a guy I went to summer camp with many years ago, about breaking his Weed-Cherry at 35. He’d been too uptight to smoke marijuana earlier in life, but finally got around to it, just in time for the legalization efforts, when the stigma had gone away.

His final sentences were about the way New York City glowed, with lights reflecting off wet streets, when he walked the city while high. His perceptions became heightened, and his experience of visual pleasure was enhanced.

He felt glad to be alive.

I like Mary Jane as much as the next guy, but when photography does its job, and we get to be our best selves, the camera is all the help we need to be overjoyed by the magic of the world.

Food for thought.

Bottom Line: Cool book, featuring noir photos from San Francisco’s Chinatown

Personal Project: Grace Chon

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Grace Chon

Ten years ago, I was a stressed-out art director working at an advertising agency. It was supposed to be my dream job, yet there I was, a miserable and workaholic wreck. It was at this moment in my life that I ended up adopting a street dog from Mexico named Maeby. Adopting her was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If we’re being honest, I had found my soul mate.

Maeby’s sweet smile was better than anything else I could have turned to after a horrible day at the office. Suddenly working on ad campaigns felt meaningless when all I wanted to do was spend time with dogs. I bought a camera and started taking headshots of other rescue dogs to help them get adopted. My volunteer work evolved into a bustling pet photography business, and nine months later, I quit my job in advertising to become a full-time pet photographer. The rest, as they say, is history.

For nearly a decade now, I’ve devoted my life to capturing the faces and personalities of thousands of pets. While I love all God’s creatures, great and small, dogs will always be my favorite. Their loyalty, faithfulness, and unconditional love have filled a million tiny holes in my heart that I never knew existed. I’m now convinced there is no better therapy than a tail-wagging, butt-wiggling, smiling dog. Perhaps after reading this book, you might agree (unless of course, you already do!).

May the uncontainable happiness of these dogs touch your heart as much as they have touched mine.

Back story: This book is the result of a Tumblr + Instagram page I started back in 2014, to showcase my very large collection of smiling dog images that I’ve accumulated over the last near decade of photographing dogs. (http://dailydogsmile.tumblr.com/) I pitched it as a book back in 2014 and couldn’t get any “bites” but when a book editor approached me in 2016 to do a book together, she loved this idea. The moral of this story? Don’t give up your “dogged” determination to make your projects into a reality.

LINK TO PREORDER:

https://www.amazon.com/Dog-Happy-Photographs-Grace-Chon/dp/1682680983

To see more of this project, click here.

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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

 

The Daily Edit – Nigel Parry: Outside Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

Outside

Photo and Design Director: Hannah McCaughey
Photo Editor: Amy Silverman
Deputy Art Director: Petra Zeiler
Photographer: Nigel Parry

 

Heidi: How many set ups did you do and what type of direction did you give for this image for Cory in the snowsuit?
Nigel: We got to maybe five or did six different setups, things were going well. Then we we’re coming to the last set and I said, “This is where I want you to put your big snow suit on as if you’ve traveled, you’ve done your climb and you are finally at rest. It’s obviously in a studio, but just try and make yourself feel like the avalanche has just happened.”

“Cool, that’s good.” he said, “I just need to go over and pick up this message,” and he just sat at the dressing table for maybe 10-15 minutes.
I said, “Okay, when you’re ready,” and he then walked back over to the set and we started shooting again.

“Just try and take yourself back there and I’m going to keep shooting.” He carried on just looking at me and all of a sudden, he started crying.” There are tears in his eyes I said, “I’m going to keep shooting,”

“That’s fine,” Cory replied.

After I stopped shooting I went and gave him a big hug and assumed what just happened was he’d taken himself back into that terrible state where he had almost died and he was reliving the emotions. He said,” You know when I went over there and picked and picked up that message? I was told that my best friend just committed suicide.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said, “I’m so sorry,”

He said, “No, it was my decision to keep going on. It seemed fitting anyway, I knew I was going to be quite upset.”

Do you find that a little challenging to shoot a peer?
Cory is an adventure photographer and takes incredible photographs in situations where I wouldn’t even in my wildest dreams think to find myself. He takes very different pictures. To me, photography is so compartmentalized; we’re just in two totally different spheres.

What type of direction did you get from Hannah?
The direction I got from her was simple. She told me he’d almost died and she wanted something similar to the photos you see of people before they climbed Everest; with a nod towards early 20th century images where they’re very slow shutter speeds so everyone had to sit very still and stare at the camera. I thought this was perfect direction since he’s a mountaineer, there’s no smiling, no movement. The fact that I was shooting a lot of black and white made it easier and more powerful.

Had you met Cory before?
No, though he seemed like a sincere bloke. I don’t know what he was like before the accident, and maybe that’s changed him. But I found him a terrifically interesting in every way. You want to get to know him more. I think he’s very visually appealing and we have been doing some corresponding actually because he’s doing a bit of portrait work, and I’ve been mentoring him a little with of all of that.

Is there something creatively that you learned about yourself or did anything shift for you as a photographer after the shoot?
Every now and again you have what is an abundance of creativity and you can work with that if you want. It’s really an abundance of Limbic resonance. That’s what photographers want in their arsenal. Because that’s just, there are areas of your brain which basically feels emotions and is able to empathize with another person. If you’re able to do that, That’s your major tool, once you’ve got all your lighting source figured out. As a portrait of photographer you want to be able to get so close to the person, not necessarily as in proximity, but just be close to them emotionally and on their wave length that you and they become joined mentally, emotionally. That’s what one always strives for. I don’t know how one gets it. I just know that this is my goal in portrait photography. I’m so desperate [laughs] to people — because it makes people open up. Our shoot was great in that respect. If somebody is very receptive to that, then it makes for a wonderful connected shoot where the person who’s being photographed knows just about when I’m going to shoot the photograph, and I know what they’re going to do next. You become sort of connected.

You do have a nice connection then since you’re mentoring him.
Well, I do now, but the first time I met him was when he walked in and said, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that I’m meeting you and you’re going to photograph me.” I said, “What? What are you talking about mate?” [laughs].Yes. That’s very lovely of him to say that. He said, “You’re also my hero.” “Oh, well that’s fantastic. I’m sure by the end of this you’ll be my hero because I’ve never climbed a mountain that spared my life.” I replied.

Do you have any photographic influences?
Yes. I’ve had many. Not many of them are living right now. I’ve tried to emulate or pay homage to David Bailey. I use David Bailey as the person I would love to learn from, I was totally taken by his pictures. His directness and his cruelty in some respects. It’s a sort of cruelty you don’t get from Irving Penn who I also love. Also for the decisive moment, the good old favorite Cartier-Bresson because I started out as a reportage photographer. Cartier-Bresson was my idol and hero, alongside David Bailey as well. I find that there’s an awful lot of similarity between portraiture and Cartier-Bresson’s work. In fact, there’s an awful lot of similarity between portraiture and virtually any other kind of work. Once you’ve mastered portraiture, you can pretty much jump off to anything. The key to portraiture is to have an environment in which, be it lighting, or whatever it is in that environment that you’re photographing, the moment comes to make the magic happen.The only difference between say, portraiture, and reportage is that reportage people have to get themselves in the middle of the crowd. Whereas I have to get my studio set so that when the magic happens, I can get it. There’s very little difference in the actual execution, the principles of execution they are very, very similar.

Do you remember some of your first images when you thought, “I love photography and this is what I want to do?
Well, I remember a lot of my first images. The first image that I ever had published was a picture of some little girls walking down some steps inside the British museum in London. I realized that even though it was only sold as a postcard, that must be a great way of making some money out of something which I enjoy so much. It was the fact that I was willing to put money behind this to make a wet plate of it than print it on paper, buy the paper, buy the ink and distribute it. There must be something good about it.

What would you tell your younger self, now that you have so much experience as a photographer?
I’d tell myself not to become a photographer, be a lawyer or a doctor or do something that can’t be replaced by a phone and a bunch of algorithms–but no, I wouldn’t change a thing about my chosen career. It has been the most wonderful, the most interesting, the most challenging, the most frightening. The road with the most twisted bends, and turns and highways and freeways. I wouldn’t change a thing. It has, and hopefully will still be wonderful.

 

 

The Daily Promo: Yuri Hasegawa

- - The Daily Promo

Yuri Hasegawa

Who printed it?
JEJ Print in Monterey Park, Los Angeles, CA. They are a family owned, web press printer; I love that they can customize.  This was my first time printing on newsprint so I wanted to work closely with the printer learning about the characteristics of newsprint, how the images would interact with the medium and I wanted to support a local business. Ryan at JEJ Print was very helpful during the entire process. 

Who designed it?
I designed it myself. Once I fined tuned the layout a graphic designer friend of mine, Blake Ingram created the final export. He finessed the font placement and also gave great advice on the overall design. I wanted the design to be simple and photography forward. I placed the cover portrait’s (Lance Mountain) eye specifically, so that it would appear in the perfect spot – peeping over  to achieve an eye-catching effect and be easy to mail.

Who edited the images?
I edited it myself with feedback, advice and opinions from variety of people: mentors, colleagues, friends, artists.  I’m so grateful for everyone’s help, thank you! My editing goal was to select images that ultimately spoke to my style, community and interests.  I completed around 3 rounds of edits until I reached the final decision.

How many did you make?
1000 copies. I sent out approximately 800 in the US. I still plan on sending a portion to international clients and keep some for leave behinds.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is my very first large run mailing promo! Previously I was sending out more DIY printed post cards to a select list of publications I wanted to contribute to,  mailing them twice a year as well as supplementing with email promos twice a year. I have regular clients in Japan, but I knew I needed to be more proactive to promote my work within the US market. One of my goals was to include the US advertising and client direct market. The  idea of this promo was to make my first big introduction to a broader audience.   The idea of the cover title “HELLO” came along pretty quick: “Hello, nice to meet you. Here is my work, my name is Yuri!” Allong with this serving  as a promo piece, I wanted to make something that I could give away and show my photographs in a different format. I often grab a “newspaper” if it’s free and full of photography,  I’m so intrigued by the play of the images on newsprint.

This Week in Photography Books: Larry Sultan

 

America is dominated by Baby Boomers and Millennials.

You know this.

My cohort, Generation X, is small by comparison, and as we’re all slackers, we get lost in those giant shadows. But we’re famous for our sense of irony, and these days, it’s a life-saver.

For instance, the one thing most people want, more than anything, is to have a long life. Nobody wants to die young, except for rock stars, but as Rock-n-Roll is dead, the rock stars are gone anyway.

People want to live as long as possible, even though that best case scenario almost always leads to illness, broken bodies, doctor bills, and some form of misery and pain.

Like I said, without irony, where would we be?

My own parents are aging, as I’m 43, and the last ten years have been a litany of ill health. My Dad had two major back surgeries, including a spinal fusion, interspersed with years of aggressive, debilitating nerve pain.

My Mom had a spinal fusion of her own, and before she’d fully recovered, she tore her achilles tendon in Mexico, and had that godawful injury as a follow up. (Though she reported her experience in the Mexican health care system was excellent, in case you’re thinking of moving to the other side of the Wall…)

It’s a challenge, watching the people you love suffer; a reminder it will be your turn soon enough. If you’re one of the lucky ones, that is, and you don’t get pre-mature cancer, or hit by a car driven into a political protest.

On the plus side, aging is meant to bestow wisdom. While our bodies degrade, no matter how many crossword puzzles we do, or superfood smoothies we imbibe, our understanding of reality often develops nuance and expertise.

Who hasn’t looked back on a younger self, thrown up one’s hands, and exclaimed to the sky, “What the fuck was I thinking?”

I know I have.

Right now, I’m focusing on a particular moment, back when I lived in San Francisco in 2001. I’d recently applied to graduate school at CCAC, (now called CCA,) and the Dean of Admissions had arranged for me to sit in on a class with superstar-photographer-professor Larry Sultan.

I brought my portfolio along, as I’d been assured he’d likely review the work, and discuss how I might fit in at the school, were I to be accepted. (I wasn’t.)

But on the day I arrived, Mr. Sultan said it was a special class, with some guest lecturers, and he wouldn’t have time to meet with me. He warmly welcomed me to stay, assuming I could learn a thing or two.

As I wasn’t going to get what I wanted, I slipped out at the first smoke break without even saying goodbye. If he couldn’t see me, my younger self thought, what was the point of sticking around?

Such a rookie mistake.

The incident played in my mind, over and over, as I walked through the singularly brilliant Larry Sultan solo show at SFMOMA back in May.

It was easily one of the best photo shows I’d seen in years, and at the end, they had a video monitor set up, with a lengthy interview with the artist.

Sadly, he passed away too-young in 2009, so it was much like hearing from a ghost. A ghost, I might add, from whom I had been too proud to learn, in the limited way I’d been offered.

I sat there for 20 minutes, easily, and this from a guy who never, ever has patience for such things. (Never. Ever.)

Thankfully, the folks at SFMOMA are pretty cool, and they’d arranged for me to preview the Mike Mandel exhibition next door, and meet the long-time curator Sandra Phillips. Even better, as I was leaving, they gave me a hot-off-the-presses copy of “Pictures from Home,” the Larry Sultan classic that was recently re-released, (or re-imagined?) by MACK in London.

Needless to say, when I showed the book to people at Pier 24 that afternoon, (after admitting I used it as a sun-shade on the blazing walk along the Embarcadero,) they looked at me like I was the messiah.

“How did you get that,” exclaimed the Assistant Director? “I’m actually thanked in the liner notes,” she said, “and I don’t have a copy yet!”

I blushed, said something about getting lucky, and realized this was a book I needed to sit with properly.

No skimming allowed.

I hope you’ll trust it’s taken 3 months to find such time, and that I busted open the green, hard-cover book as soon as I was able.

Meaning yesterday.

But there is so much text that I lay it down, and came at it today with a couple of hours set aside. Let me be clear, this is a book you need to read, not just look at the sharp photography.

“Pictures from Home” is such a great meditation on aging: of people, of dreams, and of America itself, that I’ll state outright it deserves its masterpiece status.

A more poignant, intelligent book, you are unlikely to find.

It features many of the seminal images shot during that series, made from approximately 1982-92, in addition to stills from Sultan family home movies, text by Larry Sultan, interviews with his Mom and Dad, and ephemera from their lives.

The short version of the story is that Mr. and Mrs. Sultan, Irving and Jean, moved out to Southern California in 1949, right after the War boom, in the midst of a recession. They were East Coast Jews, he from NYC, she from Jersey, and they joined the wagon train of Americans headed West towards a better life.

Eventually, Irving landed a job as a salesman for the Schick Razor company, and made his way up the corporate ladder for 20 years. It is as pure a vision of the American dream as you’re likely to find, as a Jew who briefly went by the pseudonym of John Dutton, to work in an English clothing store, was eventually embraced by the whitest of American corporate culture.

Until he wasn’t.

Turns out, Irving was spit out by Schick at 56, when he refused to move his family back East for a promotion. No matter what, he was only giving up the California sunshine if they pried it from his cold, dead hands. (RIP Irving and Jean, in addition to Larry.)

Irving never held another job, easing restlessly into a golf-strewn retirement, but Jean built a successful real estate career in his stead, allowing a feminist subtext to creep into the book as well.

In last week’s review, I admitted I found Ashley Gilbertson’s writing more compelling than his photographs. (Most of you probably preferred the pictures, but you’re not writing the review.) It certainly made me question when words communicate more effectively than images.

But this book proves how perfectly the two can complement each other, in the right hands. First person histories about scamming girls at the boardwalk, being abandoned to orphanages, taking massive risks, and developing sangfroid in our relationships take center stage, and inform the way we view each subsequent photograph.

Later on, the text begins to allude, and then outright mentions, the fact that Larry Sultan staged these photographs, believing a fictionalized version of reality can often tell more “truth” than a document.

In the fraught photo of Irving, standing in front of a white-board featuring knowledge gleaned from a Dale Carnegie course, we learn that Larry asked Irving to misuse a word, on purpose, to suggest a certain fallibility. (Empathize became empathy)

I could go on and on.
But I won’t.

This is a book best enjoyed by yourself, on your sofa, with a cup of coffee or two. (Or three, as it was with me. No blue sky today, so I needed extra energy-juice.)

The times of the great, white male are either over, or still far-too-prevalent, depending on which media outlet you read. But in this case, the idea of shrinking, until there is nothing left but time for leisure, as your aggregate life slips away, is sad but real.

I hope my parents regain their footing, and enjoy a spate of health and good fortune. But I don’t know it will happen, as aging gets us all in the end. (If we’re lucky enough to land on its doorstep.)

C’est la vie.

Bottom Line: Brilliant, re-issued classic that examines the fading American dream, and the realities of old age

To purchase “Pictures from Home,” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

Personal Projects: Kris Davidson

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Kris Davidson

PROJECT TITLE:  American Macondo

MEDIUM:  Giclée prints on archival matte paper.  Additional mixed media on select prints may include acrylic paint, gel medium, fabric, pencil, glitter, gold mica flakes and other found materials (most of the images are prints without mixed media).

SUMMARY:  American Macondo is a photography based project with selective mixed-media components that looks at the US/Mexico relationship through a magical realism filter, considering the role of cultural memory and imagination in process of Americanization.

STATEMENT:  Often when we think of migration, it is the physical distance traversed and the challenge of the journey that comes to mind. But for those who migrate, there is also an invisible, lingering landscape constructed of stories, shifting memories and imagined futures that unfold from generation to generation.  Americanization is not a clearly defined event with a discernible beginning and ending; rather, it is an abstract process that defies time and man-made international boundaries.

In imagining Americanization as a process that exists on both physical and non-physical planes, an aesthetic that borrows from the literary genre of magical realism makes sense; it allows for a bridge between the intangible and tangible. There is a strange, fleeting pain that comes with cultural change. It is an ache so subtle and profound that it might very well require a bit of magic to be understood.  After all, magic has inherent analgesic qualities. In leaving a land and a familial history, the immigrant splinters away from a predictable trajectory; it is the start of a curious process that continues in a wave-like manner with the immigrant’s children.

American Macondo is structured as a vaguely familiar journey narrative with a varied cast of characters in Mexico, the borderlands and in the US states bordering Mexico.  The project will be told in three acts tentatively titled La Migra (considering the borderlands and migrant experience), Strange Sueños (considering cultural memory of Mexico) and American Dreams (considering the later stages of Americanization). The final body of work will also incorporate a written component — an accounting of shared stories, memories and dreams collected in the course of photographic capture.

As an immigrant to the United States myself, it is my deep conviction that in order to effectively comment on Americanization, both the internal and external aspects of the process must captured.  As author Neil Gaiman tells us:  “People think dreams aren’t real just because they aren’t made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.” 

To see more of this project, click here.

To attend one of Kris’ workshops, get information here

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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

 

The Daily Edit – Jesse Burke: Wild&Precious

- - The Daily Edit


Jesse Burke/ Wild & Precious

Heidi: You were named by Time Magazine as one of the of top instagram photographers to follow, when did you start your Instagram practice?
Jesse: Social media in my photography practice started back with the advent of Instagram in 2010. I had initially decided that I was going to use my Instagram account as a way of sharing personal photos only with my friends and family. Very quickly, my clients got wind of it and really liked the images. We then started having conversations about what it all meant. It was exciting and new for everyone; this, of course, shifted my thinking about how I could organically use Instagram and social media in general by applying my personal aesthetic. This is something that I strive to keep true throughout my postings, whether personal or commercial.

Jesse: Just because you have an iPhone and a social media account doesn’t mean you are a photographer. How has the iPhone shaped your craft?
When I started shooting with my phone as a secondary source I realized that my voice was still there in the images, even though the intent of the picture making process was a little bit different. I think over the years this has influenced my outlook on how I perceive myself and shifted my vision in my work. I think what sets me apart from other photographers is that vision. I stay very true to who I am as a person and that guides the picture making practice. In my case this means being a husband/dad first, artist/photographer second, and nature lover/farmer guy third.

How has your phone made you a better photographer?
Since I was academically trained as an artist, all of the practices that I was implementing into my artwork were very quickly falling into my social media channels and my commercial photography. I believe the strength of my voice comes from my art making background. Initially, I made a very concerted effort, and still do, to “keep it real” as much as possible. To be myself and not swayed by outside forces. I will post pictures through social channels that I really love regardless of their content. Sometimes they may seem a little silly but they’re important to me and I simply like them. That’s the approval process. There’s a lower bar for what I think is acceptable on my social channels, which allows me to be much looser in terms of my editing and shooting practices. I think this has expanded my outlook on how my photography can be approached and has strengthened my abilities as a photographer.

Do you feel this notion of the skill needed in being a photographer is undermined by technology?
I don’t. I believe it’s actually accentuated. Skill is a complicated word. Does it refer to one’s ability to control the tools or to have a unique vision? Both? I often think in a pretty conceptual or metaphysical way about photography. I trust my gut. I’m not sure I would call that skill, although one certainly needs a lot of skills to be a photographer, no doubt. For me the technology has really helped me by allowing me to have better pictures; sharper and higher quality images, a looser approach, and in the end more balance to my work. I think the quality of the camera, whether it be an iPhone or the Canon digital I use, is so good now that every picture can be technically fantastic. So the skill part comes back to the concepts and execution of the ideas in my opinion and I’m not sure technology harms that. I’m thankful that digital technology supports me and allows me the ability to create conceptual art pieces from my iPhone that I can show in the gallery setting and place into museum collections. Back when Instagram started I would never have imagined that the photos on my feed would live in museum collections. This still blows my mind.

Let’s circle back to vision, what is yours? 
If everybody has great files then it’s the artistic vision and aesthetic that’s going to allow the cream to rise. Originality is key in a world where authenticity is paramount. I see a lot of inauthenticity, especially on social media. Trends will ebb and flow and we as connoisseurs can get swept up in that. It’s nature and it’s not terrible, but I think holding on to your version of authentic can be your best asset. My artistic vision is just my version of how I see the world. My vision is dependent on my priorities, my family, the well-being of the planet, nature, animals, and art in general. If I had to be specific I would say my vision is that of a thoughtful, but wild, environmental portraitist looking for ways to connect my subject to the landscape and light. Ideally, something real and considered yet gritty and raw.

How do you stay authentic to yourself and your work?
I stay authentic to myself and my work is just by embracing what’s around me. I know that sounds cliché but if you look through my social media channels you will see that I’m just a guy living on and appreciating the land for all it’s worth. I have a little farm with my family (3 kids, 10 chickens, 2 ducks, 1 dog, and 1 pet skunk, as well as a various assortment of rehab animals coming in and out) in Rhode Island and we do all kinds of amazing things out in the wild together. We are explorers and we are open to what’s in front of us. Being open to the magic around you is such a huge part of the journey for me. I go about my life paying close attention to and documenting these things, and that has become the makeup of who I am as a person and photographer. There’s no space for lack of authenticity when you’re working in conditions like that.

You use your work as a diary, how are you archiving this and do you have broader plans for family posterity?
I do use photography as a diary of sorts, constantly documenting the events in my life. Sometimes that’s shooting art projects in the deep woods of Maine, sometimes it’s at the dining room table at breakfast with the girls, and sometimes that’s on a set shooting fashion models or Ford cars. I think as you live with my work you start to see how it all gels together and in the end, it becomes the authentic version of who I am as a person and inevitably as a photographer. It’s all over the place and that is my favorite part. My creative partners, whether they’re art directors, photo editors, or social media experts, are sophisticated and can see how my particular version of  authenticity can play into what they need for their clients. Sometimes it’s an obvious direct hit and sometimes it takes courage and a bigger leap. As far as family posterity is concerned, part of my larger goal in life is to teach my kids how to be aware of the magic I mentioned in the previous question. The journey to appreciate and acknowledge that is what guides this ride we’re on. Hopefully my girls will grow up to aware of what’s around them and brave enough to interact with it. Photography is one of the vehicles I use to ensure this happens.

What do you feel is your particular gift as an artist and when did you realize this?
Ultimately, I think my strength is in storytelling. Any project I approach, whether personal or commissioned, I try my damnedest to tell the whole story. This originates from my time at RISD attending graduate school. I started making work that truly explored a given concept from micro to macro. I was shooting landscapes, portraits, and still lifes that all spoke a common language and told a single story. Once I finished my thesis project, Intertidal, I realized that this methodology was working for me and I kept at it. This is exactly what I do for my clients because it’s the only way my mind works and it’s the best way for them to use me. Sure, I can take a single portrait of any given subject, such as a farmer. But I would much rather shoot the farm, the farmer, the farm dog, the produce, the soil… the details. I love the minutiae. The whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts. I want my photographs to elicit a genuine response to how amazing a situation is, to tell a story and share the narrative visually. A friend recently introduced me to this amazing quote from writer John Lubbock, “The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live In”that really sums up how feel about my approach, “What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.” I try to be them all.

What has documenting your daughters taught you about your craft? 
I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons over the years by collaborating with my daughters. The first has to be acquiring some serious patience, something I innately lack. When I first started shooting with Clover, about 6 years ago, I realized this was uncharted territory for me. The way I had shot images up that point was slowly and carefully, working in a seemingly “adult” way. That wasn’t going to cut it with the kids. I had to get a grip on the fact that finding patience would allow me to get what I needed and wanted. Also, I realized very quickly that I wasn’t solely in charge. Once I let go of some of the control and allowed them to be themselves, and stop being a director, barking orders, the images became so much better. I now approach photography from a much more fun, almost childlike, way. I try to think of shoots from all perspectives, both still and moving, calm and chaotic, adult and childlike. The kids forced me to break out of my formal comfort zone. Obviously, becoming a father changes you at the core, but strangely it took me turning my camera on them to realize this. I want to see them smiling and crying, proud and wounded. I try to be very aware of all of these scenarios as they are happening. It’s hard to do, but many times you just have to be there. Being present is half the battle.

How did Wild & Precious come about and how have you grown professionally from that project?
Wild & Precious originated from a road trip that I took with my oldest child to explore and document the New England landscape and in the fall of 2010. Very quickly I realized that I was on to something and this might be my next personal project. Personally, I was growing as a parent and photographer while I worked on this project and naturally it spilt into my professional career. I have become this environmental portrait photographer/nature dad by way of Wild & Precious. Once I realized that was happening the road trips became a priority for us personally and it became important for me professionally to document it all. The project has allowed my work to really grow in ways that I never expected. I couldn’t be happier with where I am as a professional and I owe a lot of that to being that nature dad. Now I find myself working very specifically for clients to make work that was spawned from Wild & Precious. We recently worked on a children’s hospital commercial project that was about showing the strength and vulnerability of children. This is exactly what I am interested in my personal work so it was a dream to create those types of images for clients. 

Commercial clients are now doing more branded content with a hint to editorial, blurring the lines. What projects have you shot that fit this authentic storytelling?
This summer I worked with Fatherly.com to photograph a version of Wild & Precious for L.L. Bean. We collaborated together to create images that tell the story of “A Classroom In Nature.” This is at the core of everything I believe in both personally and professionally. It was a perfect collaboration and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Most recently I worked with Honda to travel around and document what it means to be a father in the US. I got to meet and photograph a wide variety of dads and their children. This was an incredibly eye opening project that jives perfectly with all of my personal and professional goals. It was unbelievable to get out there on the road and bond with these families and shoot pictures of them just being themselves. It was beyond rewarding and constantly forced me to assess my own views on fatherhood. I should also mention that the Wild & Precious film was my first foray into filmmaking and I am now completely addicted.

Who are you represented by and why did you choose them?
I am commercially represented by Tea & Water Pictures. It’s a relatively new signing for me, as of this past winter. I chose to go with Tea & Water for many reasons but ultimately it was because of their sustainability message that won me over. They want to do good things for the Earth and tell amazing stories. That is what my life is all about! It’s a perfect match up and we’re already doing great things together. I couldn’t be happier. It’s a real privilege to work with people who appreciate you on all levels, both artistically and personally. We’re bound for great things and I’m excited about the journey forward!

Are you your own photo editor? If so what is your approach?
I am my own photo editor. In terms of an approach, I always want to tell a meaningful story. Telling a rich story has always been the back bone of my approach to photography. I try to think about the narrative from all ends. I will include wide shots, medium shots, and tight shots in my edits. I will use portraits, landscapes, and still lifes as a way to show a whole story. I usually try to say something about strength and something about vulnerability, as I stated before. I love how opposing forces can feed off of one another. I like to think of my photographic approach to editing as a sliding scale from black to white. You need some black, some white and inevitably a lot of grey. The idea of curating a viewers experience is really exciting to me. The edit of my Wild & Precious book is one of the things I am most proud of. I suffered through that process but in the end, it came out perfect. It was so important that the images relate to one another in just the right way so that when you flip the page the connections make sense and gel. The book form is in many ways an idealized state of the work for me. It’s a curated collection of all my thoughts and dreams come to life presented in just the right way so we are on the journey together.

The Daily Promo – Nye’ Lyn Tho

- - The Daily Promo

Nye’ Lyn Tho

Who printed it? 
Moo printed this for me. 

Who designed it? 
I design all of my promotional material my background is in graphic design.

Who edited the images? 
I edited and retouched all of my work.

How many did you make? 
There are currently 15 pieces in that series.

How many times a year do you send out promos 
Funny you should ask.  Sending them to Rob was actually my first time. This is my 2nd year in business for myself and I have been getting by on word of mouth but it’s time to expand.

This Week in Photography Books: Ashley Gilbertson

 

Antidote is over, and I’m happy to report it was a big success.

Oddly, it was a lot like an art project, as I visualized something new, and then went about executing what I saw in my head, so it could come out into the world.

Unfortunately, the two days since the event ended have been filled with sorrow, as a good friend had to deal with tragedy here on our doorstep.

I don’t feel comfortable sharing the details, (since when?) but let’s just say that someone’s life fell to pieces, and my friend was left to deal with the aftermath. (And we became the support system for our friend.)

We spoke about how insidious PTSD is, as it basically perpetuates terror energy in an unbroken chain. Addiction, illness and War are representatives of the worst in life, and their fingers reach into many pies.

Take, for example, the soldier who signs up to serve his country, but ends up killing strangers on the far side of the world, for reasons he’ll never completely understand. With his guns, he perpetuates misery on others, even when his cause is noble and patriotic.

And then he, or she is killed in action.

Another life snuffed.
Potential lost.
Joy extinguished.

The soldier’s death then devastates his or her family. (Or when they come home broken, the effect is the same.)

I’ve gone morbid today, I know, but I just dealt with some heavy shit, on the heels of a weekend of intensely positive energy. I’m in a strange place, I admit.

But Antidote, a weekend of hide-out bliss, was counterpointed by what happened in Charlottesville. Open-faced Nazis, carrying torches, and screaming hate at the top of their lungs.

Violence is among us, and tensions are high.
As a columnist who often discusses what’s actually going on in the world, I must say, I don’t know where this is headed, but it doesn’t look good.

When countries go to War, which is what happened under the last Republican administration, young people die. That happens every time. But the normal ways of showing such things have lost the power to move people, I’d say.

So today, in light of all the aforementioned circumstances, I pulled an older book from the shelf, “Bedrooms of the Fallen,” by Ashley Gilbertson, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2014.

It was submitted last Fall, long after it had been introduced, but I’ve never had a hard rule about only reviewing new releases. It’s mostly worked out that way, but today, we’re mixing it up.

Ashley Gilbertson, an Austrialian-born-America-based photographer, has been a war correspondent for a long time. And at one point, while working in Iraq, a soldier was killed while protecting Mr. Gilbertson’s life.

That would leave an imprint on any psyche.
A PTSD of its own, if you will.

Eventually, Mr. Gilbertson’s wife suggested a project, as he grappled to deal with his feelings, in which he’d photograph soldiers’ bedrooms.

The ones that were intact, because parents couldn’t bear to part with the memories, which were enshrined within their homes.

Our childhood bedrooms, it’s well established, are where our identities first form. Are we neat or tidy? (Oscar or Felix?)

Do we have posters of sports stars, or bikini-clad women, or none of the above?

I noticed that the UK soldiers’ rooms had a lot of DVD’s. What’s that all about?

The pictures here, shot in black and white with a panoramic, wide angle perspective, are somber. How could then not be? And it’s not that I cried. I’m too numb for that.

The pictures are straight forward, and I’ll show a fair sample below. (As I always do.) Maybe a few extra, even.

Mr. Gilbertson’s well written, extensive afterword grabbed me more than the pictures. We all receive information differently, and in this case, the story about the story was more compelling for me than the images of the story.

I doubt many of you would agree, as the photographs are excellent, and it is a photo book.

We don’t need to have favorite children, though, and I commend the publishers, and the artist, for making a book that dripped with empathy in many ways.

I honestly hope, for all of our sakes, that the world calms down a bit, and that the USA is able to find a graceful, non-violent way out of the Trumpian mess we find ourselves in.

Fingers crossed.

Bottom Line: Poignant, important book about the true cost of war: our children

To purchase “Bedrooms of the Fallen,” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

Personal Projects: Michael Johnson

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Michael Johnson

Two-Wheeled World

My project, “Two-Wheeled World,” serves several purposes–the first being, simply, my passion for the bicycle. There’s what it can do for us as individuals and for the environment. We ride for fun, for fitness, to get from here to there. We ride to free ourselves from the daily grind or to lift our social conscience. Sometimes we ride for no reason at all. We love how riding creates a cool breeze on a still morning and how, after a long day at work, hopping on a bike makes us feel like the day has only begun. We ride to make familiar places new again. We see things in a different way, experience our environment more positively. Riding a bicycle in a metropolitan environment is one of the greatest feelings of freedom one can have. It’s amazing even to be able to feel this free in a modern city.

Then there’s the community that makes two wheels their form of transportation. The second and main purpose of this series is to put real faces to those who choose the bicycle over other forms of transportation. I want viewers to take the term cyclist out of the equation and replace it with “people who ride bikes.” My goal was to put people first so policymakers, motorists and everyone else recognize that these are your mothers, sisters, friends, and neighbors. They’re using this great tool—a bicycle—and deserve to be safe and respected like everyone else.

I’ve featured people who use their bicycle for work, school, travel, play, to race, or who just want to feel like a kid again. People who are activists, artists, messengers, and commuters. My intention is for the project to humanize cyclists and hopefully make dangerous drivers use more caution, as well as show how much better off society would be if it were a two-wheeled world.

To see more of this project, click here.

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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit – Cade Martin: Southwest Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

 

 

Southwest Magazine

Creative Director: Kevin de Miranda
Photographer: Cade Martin

 

Heidi: Did Derek share any reflections about his injury?  
Cade: We did not talk about the injury itself but we talked about his gravitating towards a piano after the injury. Derek dove into the shallow end of a pool at a party. After being diagnosed with a severe concussion and resting for 5 days, he woke up with an unquenchable urge to play the piano. He doesn’t even read music, but the most complex and intricate works – spanning all genres – now flow from his fingertips. In some ways, the injury itself is just a moment that marks a before and after and so much focus is on how his life has changed.

Tell us about the concept behind this shoot.
It was an honor to be trusted with this story and I was super excited when I heard about the opportunity. Kevin de Miranda, Creative Director at Pace Communications, came to me with the conceptual idea of Derek playing the piano at the bottom of a pool, it was perfect…then I just had to figure out how to pull it off. At the time, I had only photographed one underwater image before – but I loved the idea of creating something ethereal and beautiful. It was a bit of challenge logistically as well as technically but Derek was amazing throughout – as generous with his time and energy as he is with his story and his music. He was up for anything and ready for the underwater adventure.

Did Derek have any hesitation about getting into the pool since a pool where his injury happened?
Not at all, Derek was amazing from our first call and was completely game for anything and going anywhere.

Did you photograph the piano in a pool or was this done in post?
I put a piano in a pool at Matt Hyland’s 4th of July party in 11th grade and vowed that I wouldn’t do that again. Joking.We created the piano and the bench with CGI in post-production.

What were the technical challenges of this shoot?
The biggest challenge was the location honestly. We found a great outdoor pool in the Ft. Lauderdale area. We arrived and it had rained the day before so the pool water was very murky. We ultimately embraced the look and plowed ahead. I love the otherworldly effect you get with how an image captures underwater, but other than that, it is surprisingly similar to any other project as far as focusing on capturing what is needed.

Did he play the piano for you on set?
The piano was created in post-production so there was no piano there but he was always diddling with his fingers as if we was playing an air-piano.

How did this shoot inspire you as a photographer?
It would be hard not to be inspired, as a person, regardless of profession. The idea that there are gifts within even our hardest days is one that we can all learn from. As a photographer I’m inspired by characters and their stories, and by the adventure afforded to me by seeking that out. Derek’s story is utterly unique and almost unbelievable, but he is so genuine and open and accessible, I thought that was such a cool juxtaposition to capture. It’s what I enjoy most about what I do. I don’t know if I’m interested in the camera as much as the adventure, but the camera has been my trusty vehicle and we’ve developed a pretty good relationship. A story like Derek’s reminds me of the surprises and gifts I find on the other side of the lens.

 

 

The Daily Promo – Zach Ancell

- - The Daily Promo

 

Zach Ancell

 

Who printed it?
Prints were done by PSPrint. Because each promo included seven cards, I wanted to keep the costs down. I’ve used PSPrint in the past and the quality is solid and the price very reasonable. I was able to catch them when they were having a sale. 

Who designed it?
I did it all myself. I took inspiration from actual Pantone cards as well as other promos I had seen on the aPhotoEditor instagram. The hardest part was finding all the different pieces but in the end it all came together.

Who edited the images?
Again, I did it all myself. I had done a project earlier in the year for a client where we shot people on a red background (done in post). After seeing it, I realized I always shot on black or white and wanted to explore color as well. To keep things efficient, I shot everything on white and then changed the background color in post. 

How many did you make?
There were 50 promos that had the box, cards, and jelly beans. There was another 50 that just had the cards that I sent out as well. It was tricky deciding which went to which but at the end of the day 100 people got promos from this project. 

What made you want to include the jelly beans?
Honestly? I think people love food so I figured I couldn’t go wrong with adding something in there. I wanted it to be one solid color to kind of play off the project theme. I looked at M&M’s for a second but figured it being so hot this summer they might melt in transit. 

Were they all green? How much did you buy and how did you package them?
They weren’t all green. In hindsight, I think I would have just stuck to one color for all. I ended up buying a little less than 20 lbs of jelly beans in green, purple, blue and orange to match some of the cards. I purchased some small bags and basically measured it out to the best of my ability. I’m so thankful I didn’t end up running out and actually allotted the perfect amount. I won’t lie though, a couple did get eaten during the packing process.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I try to send out promos around four times a year. Not always to this extent though. Some just postcards, some posters, and some that have a little treat like this. In the end, I like to switch it up or else I get bored of what I’m sending out (and I don’t want to send it to people and for them to get bored as well!).  I will say, this is the first time I’ve sent a promo out and received emails back from people. So, I might be doing more like this one in the future!

This Week in Photography Books: Rebecca Memoli

 

I’m a little distracted at the moment.

Antidote starts tomorrow, and somehow I find myself playing roles of caterer, landscaper, teacher, entrepreneur, tour guide, and raconteur, simultaneously.

Be careful what you wish for…

Truth be told, I’m very excited. I promised you guys earlier this summer that I wouldn’t promote the retreat here, but technically I’m not, as it’s already good to go.

Following the advice I dispensed in the column a few months ago, (Build it and they will come,) once I decided to go for it, and started buying plane tickets for my instructors, the event fell into place.

But not before.

As my Dad used to say, back when he had the guts to walk away from a lucrative law career, with no guarantee of what the future would hold, “Commit to the path, and you’ll find the way.”

Things are coming at me quickly these days, so it’s great to be able to hit the couch each evening, after we put the kids to bed, and watch some high-grade content on Netflix and Amazon.

After years of having sub-par, over-priced Internet, (Thanks for nothing, Centurylink,) I’ve now got a fairly priced 40mb/second set up, so we stream to our hearts’ content. (Like the rest of you.)

Lately, Jessie and I have gotten into “I Love Dick,” the extreme, fascinating, feminist tale set in Marfa, Texas. You probably wouldn’t recall, but I did a travel series here about a trip to Marfa, back in 2012, and found the place strange as hell.

The show captures the odd mix of high-brow culture and fabulously wealthy people inhabiting a shit-box, formerly poor town in nowhere West Texas. I’m not sure I’ve been to a weirder place, unless you count Van Horn, TX, the creepy spot where we spent the night on our road trip South to Marfa.

“I Love Dick,” while putatively about the Marfa-Art-World Culture, is really a meditation on female sexuality. There have been a million think pieces, posted on a million message boards, seriously discussing the female gaze.

Shows like this are arbiters of the cultural changes afoot in the 21st Century. I could not be happier to see edgy stories like this told from the female perspective, made by female artists.

And this coming from one of biggest male feminists out there. (As I may have said before, with a wife who went to Vassar and Smith, I was always going to end up here.)

“I Love Dick,” though, has helped me distinguish between the parts of the female experience a straight white male can understand, and those he can’t.

For instance, a recent episode featured a digital ghosting effect, in which an amorphous white blob was digitally overlayed on a few of the female characters.

“That’s cool,” I thought.

But when the show was over, I turned to my wife and said, “What do you think that was all about?”

I genuinely didn’t know.

Without missing a beat, Jessie looked at me sympathetically and said, “It represents female desire.”

She was neither rude nor condescending, but it was clear that something I couldn’t figure out was exceptionally obvious to her. (Point taken.)

Speaking of points, how about I get to mine, as I have breads to bake, schedules to build, furniture to move, tents to raise, children to feed, etc.

Yesterday, “The Feeling is Mutual” turned up in the mail. It’s an exhibition catalogue produced by Rebecca Memoli for a show she curated recently in Chicago. (Rebecca has herself been featured here in articles about the Filter Festival.) The catalogue includes four emerging artists: three young women, and a gay male artist.

And as Rebecca states in the afterword: “This collection of photographs examines the concept of family values through a feminist lens.”

I think that tells you what you need to know, as each artist looks at the families they were born with, or created. Rebecca also stresses that many people don’t find support, understanding, and love from the families into which they were born, and need to build a new system from scratch.

(There it is again: Build it and they will come.)

I’m not going to describe all the projects in detail, as I think the pictures speak well for themselves. Basically, today’s book is a hot-off-the-presses, photographic equivalent of “I Love Dick”: unconventional, edgy, poignant, and showing us things from perspectives that were traditionally voiceless.

As I’m not reviewing each artist separately, I’ll tell you that the pics below are in order, and the artists are as follows: Samantha Belden, Nydia Blas, Blane Bussey, and Sarah Hiatt.

Hope you enjoy it, wish me a little luck with Antidote, and see you next week.

Bottom Line: Cool, edgy exhibition catalogue for a feminist photo exhibition in Chicago

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

Personal Projects: Ewan Burns

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Ewan Burns

Exit Altitude 13.5K

There’s a certain apprehensive joy in reaching out of a plane at 13,500 ft. with your right foot to find the “camera step”. About the size of an Apple track pad and riveted onto the fuselage of a jump plane, it can’t be seen without putting your head outside, which completely throws you off balance. So you have to do a bit of feeling about. The wind speed is about 100 mph, and then there is the prop blast (the wind generated by the propeller), which is considerable. I’ve noticed that thinking only about my immediate goals is very useful during this procedure.

Above the camera step, vertically separated by four feet, is a simple handle, about the size you might find on a kitchen cabinet. With my left hand holding the door frame, my right hand on the kitchen cabinet handle and my right foot on the step, I cling and crouch on one leg in preparation for the skydivers to set themselves in the exit. It can take 10 to 15 seconds for everyone to put their heads and hands in just the right place, for when the count comes it had better be so.

The dive leader, whilst grasping a bar inside the plane above the exit, stands on one leg on the lip of the exit and starts the count with a whole body movement in the direction everyone will go in another second. Out (1), In (2), Out (go). The rest of the skydivers are crammed into every spare inch available both inside and outside the plane. I’ve even seen skydivers standing on the plane’s wheel, although I haven’t figured out the acrobatics required to gain that particularly exposed roost.

Skydivers jump solo, sometimes in small groups and sometimes in the hundreds (no kidding). You can Google search “Skydiving head down world record” and will find 164 of the world’s most able skydivers wobbling and weaving their way through the sky in order to find a specific designated “slot” in the prescribed geometric formation. If a skydiver is in the wrong place, the record attempt is not recognized or validated.

The count is given, and usually I like to leave a fraction of a second before the group so I can get on my back and look up at the chaotic beauty of humans who refuse to accept that falling from great heights is bad or a finale.

I’m not saying that I don’t feel apprehension at some level, but the interesting thing is that once I commit and put my energy into the doing, the fear stops and the doing envelopes me.

To see more of this project, click here.

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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

 

The Daily Edit – Lisette Poole: ESPN

- - The Daily Edit

ESPN

Director of Photography Digital and Print: Tim Rasmussen
Director of Photography ESPN the Magazine: Karen Frank
Creative Director, Digital and Print: Ching Wang
Art Director: Eric Paul
Photographer: Lisette Poole

Heidi: How much of your work is based in Cuba vs North American/Carribean?
Lisette: I’m mostly based in Cuba but have worked all over Latin America and in the U.S. I have a lot of personal and assignment work in Cuba which I’d say makes up 60% of the work I do right now.

 Is there a large local talent pool?
 Yes, there are a large number of talented correspondents in Cuba. I feel lucky to have worked with them over the last two years. 

Tell us about this opening image. Did you shoot this particular image for the opener?
I hadn’t planned it as an opener. I discovered that scene when I went to meet the subject at his house, Dary. We missed Dary for our first meeting but it gave me a chance to scout our location which was his house. The next day I shot him prepping for training and when I knew he’d be coming up that hill, I ran ahead. I thought it gave a great sense of place for his life and current situation.

What were you trying to draw out of the subject here?
Dary was usually upbeat and funny, but I could tell deep down he was disappointed by some of the things that happened in his career. I hoped he would let his guard down for a moment. First thing in the morning (this was shot around 6-7am) he was tired, on his way to work, he had just introduced me to his newborn son. It seemed like he was more “himself” then without his guard up. On this quiet morning, I could sense that he was out of place, no longer home, and not having reached that dream.

How did you and Lerys connect during the shoot? (Lerys is the main character, the portrait shot with the green background)
We connected because I listened. I am also Cuban and have lived there for almost three years now so we had an automatic bond. It was fascinating to me to hear the players’ stories of leaving Cuba, especially Lerys. He said that he left his house, telling his grandma he was going to buy cooking oil and never returned. He was still visibly shaken from the migration experience, spending hours on a tiny boat which was ill-equipped for the trip to Haiti. He also missed Cuba and really wanted to be home. Lerys seemed to feel defeated and didn’t want to be photographed so it took time to build confidence with him. His story reminded me so much of all the Cubans I know who’ve left like my own family and the women I followed last year as they travelled to the U.S. from Cuba through 13 countries.

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The Daily Promo: Shaughn and John

- - The Daily Promo

Shaughn and John

Who printed it?
We got it printed through the online service Modern Postcard.  It was our first time printing through them, so we weren’t sure how the process would go.  It turns out that it was very smooth and we were thrilled that one person at the company was assigned to us and was our point person throughout the entire process.  Huge thanks to Nick Kennedy at Modern postcard for taking care of us from beginning to end!

Who designed it?
We don’t really go around calling ourselves designers, but when it comes to our work we usually have a pretty clear idea of how we want it to be presented.  Often tackling the design ourselves means cutting out a lot of back and forth and getting to the heart of the piece quicker.  For this promo we basically locked ourselves in the studio for two days straight and were able to solidify the design of the book fairly quickly.

Who edited the images?
The images were edited by us as well.  We have a wall in our office coated in sheet metal so that we can display magnet versions of our work and rearrange the edit with ease.  We both previously interned for the amazing photographer Art Streiber and one of our many tasks as interns was to print new work onto magnets and maintain the editing wall.  Sometimes ideas are so good you just have to take them for yourself.  Thanks Art!

How many did you make?
We printed a run of 500.  350 were sent out to current and prospective editorial and advertising clients.  The rest have been given out at jobs, shows, trips…and of course you guys at A Photo Editor.  Each time we create a print a promo we push ourselves to order and mail out more than we did the time before.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
The last two years we have been averaging about 3/4 per year.  The process has evolved along with our shooting careers.  Past promos include printed coasters, postcards, newspapers, and now paperback books, We are hoping to start working on a new one soon as well as out first limited edition hard cover photo book.