2012 – Success Or Die Trying

- - The Future

I think everyone is feeling the same thing about 2012, “time to go kick some ass” and I wanted to point out a couple posts that I saw from the end of last year that I know you will find helpful. Before I do that I want to emphasize my own commitment to finding and reporting on success in media and photography. Being unsuccessful is easy. Lets look at and talk to people who are having a career in the middle of the information revolution. And lets not get hung up on the path they took to get there.

I have two pieces of advice for you to begin 2012. Go to this wonderful list of business books and pick one out (http://personalmba.com/best-business-books) to read. Don’t worry about reading it cover to cover or memorizing everything or taking notes. This is not college. You’re in a unique position of owning your own business. You can discover an idea or principle and put it into action immediately and move on. It’s an awesome position to be in, so take advantage of it. One of the books I read last year was “Blue Ocean Strategy” and learned that all things being equal between two competing companies the only thing left is to do is lower your price. To avoid this Red Ocean scenario, get rid of something others find valuable and use that time/energy/money to create something nobody else has.

The first post I found comes from Luke Copping and is titled Lessons For 2012:

Stop hanging around people who have given up

I see it all the time on blogs, on forums, at industry events, and any other place that photographers and creatives might gather en masse – an overwhelming sense of negativity that pervades this industry like a virus. What the finger of accusation is pointing at seems to change weekly, and complaints about clients, rates, technology, MWACs, pro-sumers, students, the internet, micro-stock, and the economy all start to sound the same after a while – a jumble of depressing but comforting noise that can suck you in and have you spouting the same rhetoric back at others. But, if you listen to that noise long enough, one crystal clear idea starts to creep through – that this is ultimately about blame. The underlying mantra behind so many of these complaints can often be reduced and simplified to one statement; “This is not my fault, this is caused by something beyond my control, so I do not have to act to fix it.” This kind of thinking may bring some small amount of cathartic relief, especially when joining in with the masses collectively laying blame on something else, but it will do absolutely nothing to remedy the situation.

I am so over it, and I don’t want to be part of that culture of excuses.

That is why I am so grateful to have made a conscious decision over the last year to surround myself with people so against this type of hive negativity that the idea of giving up and giving in is completely alien to them – either because of their unrelenting positivity, or their indefatigable passion pushing them to take actions that they believe in to find answers to their problems.

Read the whole thing here.

And, this gem from Leslie Burns titled “10 Things to do for Your Biz in 2012 (the gloves come off).”

Forget about old selling tools like “elevator speeches.” Look, no one gives a shit who you are or what you do when you shill.

Fuck SEO. Seriously, unless you are shooting weddings/portraits and/or your work is specifically related to your geography, fuck it (and even for those of you who do weddings, etc., don’t spend too much time at it).

Get out of your office/out from behind your computer and interact with people. Social media is a form of connection but it’s a weak one. You want to get work, you need to meet people in real life.

Go check it out (here). It’s plenty incendiary and a great way to get in a kick-ass mood. I wish everyone “success or die trying” in 2012.

 

Adapt To Survive

- - Blog News

I’ve found the last couple of years the most difficult since I started out – but not fatal. Can the new opportunities replace the fading print market and collapsing library sales? Probably not for everyone. However, many of the old rules still apply. Quality and originality still have value. Niche specialisms are always in demand. Surviving as a freelance in the digital age requires new skills and an openness to new markets, but it is possible – and at least the scrabbling around should feel familiar

via BBC News.

The Daily Edit – Tuesday
1.10.11

- - The Daily Edit

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Details

Creative Director: Rockwell Harwood
Design Director: Nathalie Kirsheh
Senior Photo Editor: Ashley Horne
Contributing Photo Editor: Stacey DeLorenzo 

Photographer: John Balsom

Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted.

Email Subscription To APhotoEditor

- - Uncategorized

If you are subscribed to receive emails from APhotoEditor each time a post is made I’m moving to a digest format so you can get all the posts in a single email (not 3 emails a day 5 days a week). You can go here to sign up for the new digest format from feedburner: Subscribe to A Photo Editor by Email and cancel the other account. There’s also signup links on the sidebar and up in the header with all the other subscription options (everything is reposted on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook if you prefer reading news on those services).

This Week In Photography Books – Friedlander

- - Photo Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

The sun has yet to rise on the first Monday of the year. It’s ten degrees outside, and I’m sitting on a green pull-out couch in my gray cotton boxers. I’m also wearing a fifteen-year-old brown flannel shirt, unbuttoned. My hair, washed before bed, is standing in six directions, like the drummer in a band that you’ve never heard of. Like Lee Friedlander.

I feel naughty just for writing about how silly I look right now. None of us wakes up like someone in a TV Show. Seriously, have you ever noticed that people always kiss each other with morning breath in the movies? Please. So here I am, just rolled out of bed, and the very, very last thing that I would do is take a picture of myself. No, scratch that. The very last thing I would do is to show a photo of myself, looking as I do now, to anyone. No, wrong again. The very, very, very last thing I would do is to publish said photograph in a book. Yes, that’s the last thing I would do.

So it’s a good thing that Lee Friedlander is a braver man than I. Or crazier? Edgier? What’s the right word? (Other than better, which is too obvious.) I’ve written about the man before. Twice in fact. Last time was for a book of previously unreleased images of some cars in Detroit in the Sixties. Nice book, but mostly interesting because no one had seen the particular photos before.

Today, I’m here to talk about “Lee Friedlander: In the Picture. Self-Portraits 1958-2011,” which was recently published by Yale University Press. I’m pretty uncomfortable with the fact that Yale Press now co-exists in an article with a description of my underwear. It’s quite possible I’ll live to regret it. So why would I do such a thing? Because I’m writing about an artist who was far more fearless than that. Let’s call it a tribute review. Next thing you know, I’ll put on tight jeans and bandana, round up some friends, and start shimmying on stage to “Dancin’ in the Dark.” No. More likely it would be “Blinded by the Light.” Great song.

Ah, the book, you say? It’s black and thick, but not too large. The cover text colors, blue and florescent magenta, are jarring, but less so than the diptych of self portraits by Mr. Friedlander, which seem to bookend the temporal range covered inside. Rarely do I discuss things such as font color, but the inside of the flap is a day-glo lime, so clearly they were trying to make a statement right off the bat. With color. In a book of black and white images. Nice. Slowly flipping the pages, and the second photo in the book shows Mr. Friedlander, shirtless, in Taos, New Mexico, 1958. Thereby giving a little context to my half-clothed ravings. (It’s all good, bro. Clothes are for squares, man.)

OK, enough about me. The narrative is linear, the kids are born towards the beginning, and the woman I can only presume to be Mr. Friedlander’s wife looks like a be-speckled beatnik betty. Right away, the shadow comes in as a stand-in for the artist. Straight out of Jung, yo. Deep. But not quite so deep as the artist’s penetrating gaze and fantastic use of neck-fat. So unflattering, so brilliant. Really, it’s a lesson that jumps off the page here. Take more risks. Be less afraid. Push yourself. Take chances.

Last week, in the fabled comment section, a fierce debate arose over whether readers have the right to complain about my choices of things that I like. Others claimed that negative criticism is undervalued in the world of photography and art. I beg to differ. The entire critique process is based upon the concept of criticism, only it’s taught that one ought to respect others, and choose one’s words wisely. It’s best to balance a negative critique with a dose of positivity, and to use language that does not denigrate. But at the core level, the critique is about awakening deeper levels of self-awareness, so that we know, in our hearts, when a photo is not good enough. Or when we need to try harder. Or when we’re simply too derivative. So be negative all you like. But how about having the guts to turn that critical eye upon yourself? Like Lee Friedlander.

Back to the book. I swear I didn’t choose this week’s selection as a counterpoint to last week’s article, but now that I’m looking at it closely, the connection is clear. Growth. Change. The passage of time. It’s all here. A very well-made group of photographs, along with some insider references that people will love.(Robert Frank, Nick Nixon…) Most of the most recent images definitely lack the spark of the earliest pictures, but then again, no one listens to the Rolling Stone’s last album. I’d say I’m not surprised, but I saw Mr. Friedlander’s show at the Whitney in 2010, so I know he hasn’t lost it.

After the celebrity section, which at least has a few laughs, you arrive at the inevitable conclusion. The doctor’s office. The tubes. The glazed eyes. The chest scar. Heart Surgery? Probably. Does it matter? Time gets us all in the end, and it’s rarely pretty. But this book, and the artist’s career by extension, are two lessons in the value of investigation and examination, of ourselves as well as the outside world.

Bottom Line: Profound

To Purchase Lee Friedlander: In the Picture visit Photo-Eye.

Full Disclosure: Books and scans were provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.

Brands Need To Embrace A Culture Of Creativity

- - Blog News

most big businesses do not allow the time, resources or culture to benefit from the failures necessary to develop an innovative, entrepreneurial streak. He claims: “To get anywhere near achieving a culture of creativity that can make your business stand out, you need people who are more excited by what is possible than they are scared of looking foolish if they are wrong.”

via Marketing Week.

The Daily Edit – Friday
1.6.12

- - The Daily Edit

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UCLA Magazine

Design Director and Photo Editor: Charlie Hess
Art Director: Suzannah Mathur
Editor: Jack Feuer

Photographer: J Bennett Fitts

Heidi: How did this idea come about?
Charlie: When I was art directing Buzz Magazine (too many years ago) I was able to run a photo essay in every issue for a few years. It was immensely satisfying and fun. The subjects would come from my relationships with photographers I liked and admired. And always from the photographer’s personal passion projects — basically the stuff they’d shoot for love, but needed a venue to show the work.

With my current magazine clients I suggest photo essays whenever my editors have the space. Everyone seems to like them and they’re a nice break from the copy-driven features. The concept I pitched was this: Everyone knows the picture postcard views of UCLA (as seen in countless TV shows and movies) but what about the real UCLA campus, the seemingly mundane places, the in-between spaces, the landscapes that everyone passes but few people notice. Let JB explore campus and find the hidden beauty of UCLA behind and between the landmarks.

Did you give any specific art direction other than in-between spaces?
It turns out that JB used to sneak onto campus as a kid and skateboard. He knew the campus well (or at least the ramps and jumps!) but he hadn’t been back for years. So I pretty much set him loose, with a few general guidelines. I wanted his perspective, not mine.

After he’d been shooting early mornings and late nights for a few weeks he felt he had some work prints worth looking at. We spent a lunch going over them, which was great because at that point he was pretty deep into it but it was all fresh to me. I gave him some notes and suggestions of where he should focus. He went back a few more times and then we settled on about ten of our favorites. It was pretty seamless and I think the essay is much stronger because I knew when to butt out!

What do you look for in photography?
Legendary music producer Don Was, after remastering “Exile on Main Street,” said that what defines rock and roll is the imperfections, what happens when the drummer is slightly OFF the beat. That’s what makes it rock and roll and not digitally auto-tuned drivel. That’s what I wanted JB to shoot — the human imperfections and random moments, the “off-beat” — NOT the visual equivalents of Auto Tune.

Now that everything’s digital it’s too easy to make it “perfect.” What I love about JB’s landscape work (and even more so in portraiture) is the mistakes and imperfections that make it real. We try to do as little “airbrushing” as possible; I think it makes photographs more credible and sincere, though I know I”m fighting a losing battle!

Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted.

Still Images In Great Advertising – Ron Haviv

Still Images In Great Advertising, is a new column where Suzanne Sease discovers great advertising images and then speaks with the photographers about it.

Sometimes it amazes me what a small world it is in this business. I was asked to write an article for Resource Magazine on “Reps for Hire” and reached out to Frank Meo, Clare O’dea and Jess at Wondeful Machine. In the bios for “reps for hire”, Frank Meo of www.thephotocloser.com, mentions an example of hiring of drug consultant for a pro-bono project. Then weeks later, I am researching powerful still images in advertising and I come across the work of Ron Haviv and “The Meth Project”. I reach out to Ron and he includes Frank in the conversation of how the project was shot. Small world, or what?

Suzanne: These are incredibly compelling images- are these real users? if so, how did you find them? How did you gain their trust?

Frank: The kids in the ads are not real users of the drug. We did our casting via high school students and with some great casting contacts from our producer, Tricia Moran from Branching Out Productions. We got their trust by Ron, as always, being involved right from the start. This I believe was one of key elements to the success of the campaign. The kids, right from the video casting got direction from him. I’m sure that the familiarity between Ron and the talent from the earliest stages played a intricate role in getting these kids to buy into the concept.

Then we hired a drug consultant to be part of our team. This too was a major factor is the success of the campaign. Having a recovering addict on set was in an intriguing way a stabilizing force. His presence brought gravitas to the entire experience. Who better then a person who’s been to hell to convey what that trip is like?

Several other points about this:

1. In the five print and TV bids that the agency received no one else put in for a drug consultant.
2. This idea and results were so well received by the client and agency that they reached out to us for his contact information – they hired our guy for the TV shoot!
3. I’m positive it was this line item that secured us in winning the project.

Suzanne: I understand this is a pro-bono campaign but did the client realize the costs involved to pull this off? And what has the impact of these images had on the Meth problem where they were run?

Ron: This is I think the 6th version of this campaign. By many accounts the impact on meth and potential meth users is enormous. Research has shown that in the past there has been an effect on reducing meth usage where the campaign has been shown.

Frank: The client was great – right from the start. The realized that this was going to cost money to produce. I’m sure that the agency, Organic is the reason for this. From the outside looking in you could see the mutual respect in this client / agency relationship. After working in this business for many years you know a good fit when you see one. More to the point, I believe there’s a direct correlation between great work and a great clients – we were sure glad to be part of this.

The results from the images have been amazing. From all quarters we heard positive reactions. Most importantly the client sees them as “authentic”. The client knows their audience better then anyone. That single comment to Ron and I is the most beautiful music we could hear. Authentic is why I want people to hire Ron.

Suzanne: You have a photojournalistic style that does get you hired for campaigns like IBM, Intel, BAE Systems and ESPN- how do you create that natural feel while staying true to your documentary roots? Do you work with the same producer?

Ron: While each campaign has been different, the client’s overriding desire is for the capturing or recreating moments of reality. Working with a light footprint and letting the subjects, whether models or real life, become immersed and unaware of the camera is about as true to my documentary roots as I can be. The trick in doing so is reaching that point when you have the client and the creative team working with you hand in hand. When it works I feel the results have a great effect.

I’ve been lucky enough to do most of my campaigns with the same producer (Tricia Moran) who has helped me take the projects to the highest level possible.

Frank: All the clients you mentioned and American Express hire Ron based on a rather simple premise. They want reality based imagery. They want to know that he can produce the job at a high commercial level and that he wants to shoot for them. My job, as I see it is to eradicate any doubts and bring insight to how Ron approaches each job.

I believe the results seen on his website and my reputation as a commercial rep does that. Let’s face it, being one of the most respected photo journalists of our time is heavy stuff. I understand that. I must convey to the client that Ron embraces each project with passion and genuine understanding of each clients needs and their audience. Further I also ask Ron to write a creative brief as part of our presentation/estimate/bid offering. This too was part of our successful presentation for the Crystal Meth project.

Our producer, Tricia Moran and Ron work extremely well together as they both see the world the same way. She too is someone who “gets it” and has become an incredible reliable resource for Ron and myself. Having someone whom can produce, inspire and has a “get-it-done” attitude is a tremendous asset to all involved.

Note: Content for Still Images In Great Advertising is found. Submissions are not accepted.

Ron Haviv is the co-founder for the photo agency VII and has been producing images of conflict and humanitarian crises since the end of the Cold War.

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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.

The Daily Edit – Thursday
1.5.12

- - The Daily Edit

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W

Creative Director: Alex Gonzalez
Design Director: Joseph Logan
Art Director: Anna C. Davidson-Evans
Photography Director: Caroline Wolff
Photo Editor: Jacqueline Bates

Photographer: Ron Haviv

Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted.

The State of the Industry: John Boone, Boone-Oakley

The State of the Industry, is a new column where Suzanne Sease speaks with advertising industry professionals and influencers to discuss what’s happening and where we’re headed.

John Boone is in my eyes one of the original virtual office pioneers. It was 1995 and John would work part time at The Martin Agency offices and part of the time in Charlotte, NC, where his family was located. We worked together on many projects and I loved the way he thought: “how can I do something that has not been done before.”  After John decided to venture out on his own with copywriting partner, David Oakley, they continued that belief: For Bloom grocery stores they created a billboard with a muffin that fell off the billboard on to a car. I love that about him!

Suzanne: What other mediums do you see print images being used in advertising?
John: Direct mail will be around forever because it has always has a proven track record of ROI results. Point of sale is becoming more important as well. I think print images will always be strong in vertical publications (especially fashion, sports and automotive). Also, OOH will continue to be strong even though digital displays are becoming more prevalent.

What are your thoughts on Ambient media and do you see this taking off in the States as it has in other countries?
I think it’s been taking off for many years now. Like the non-traditional work Crispin did for Mini, Truth and Burger King. Now every client wants a viral video, a guerilla event, a flash mob, a crowd-sourced idea, etc.

When I go to adsoftheworld.com most of the print mediums that are featured are from outside the United States? Are we being too safe? Are clients pulling us back
Advertising in the U.S. has always been “safer” than other parts of the world. Primarily because the the old P&G model to buy tons of media GRP’s and hammer the sales message over and over. Europeans take a very different approach to advertising. They see it as a more subtle art form that uses intelligence, humor and striking imagery as provocative weapons of seduction. That being said, agencies like Droga 5, Wieden, Goodby and a few others are proudly representing the American ad scene in the right way.

Are clients requiring more and more rights and optional images from still photo shoots?
Yes, with the advent of the digital age, images have a shorter shelf life and can be used on a much bigger (often undefinable) scale. With more and more media options at their digital disposal, clients are looking for ways to expand their marketing message. An image that used to only be used in a print ad is now also used on a website, a banner ad, a blog, a billboard, a trade show booth, an email blast, etc. There’s also an overtone of, because it’s digital, it should cost less.

How many of your current clients require the estimates to process through cost consultants? Do you see more clients using them or realizing they donʼt know what they are talking about?
Usually, the bigger the client, the more they require cost consultants.

Do you think our buying society is educated and appreciates the quality creative advertising or is it the “you tube” and reality show mentality?
With the advent of the digital age, there’s definitely been a shift towards clients demanding for faster, cheaper solutions. To many of them, digital = cheaper. With crowd-sourced commercials scoring high at the Super Bowl and low-budget videos going viral on youtube, it’s hard to justify the value of expensive commercials. And, with easier access to digital video/still cameras, editing software, retouching software, etc., it’s becoming more and more difficult to justify the expense of higher-quality imagery.

What are your thoughts on trying to make a product become a viral sensation? Do you think this is the future or will it phase out?
We have several clients who have asked us to create viral videos for them. It’s hard to tell them that viral videos don’t exist. We can create a video and hope that it goes viral. But it’s kind of like writing a hit song. On the other hand, we’ve actually created old-fashioned billboards that have gone more “viral” than most viral videos. It’s just a matter of doing something that’s worth talking about giving people a reason to share it. Some things will phase out over time, just because they’ve become passe or uncool …like flash mobs.

What percentage of print work is your company doing today compared to 5 years ago? Or even a year ago?
In 2010 we did a ton of print work with Mizuno. Now, a majority of our work is digital and broadcast.

Should photographers and illustrators learn the motion medium?
Yes, absolutely. Clients and agencies are looking for more and more ways to create content to extend the brand message to all forms of media. It’s more often than not that print imagery will also need to be utilized in motion, whether it’s a web banner, a mobile app, a microsite, a web video or some other form of content.

What advice would you give someone who only does print (still) work?
Read the answer above. Also, since more and more digital firms are doing the lion’s share of work for brands, photographers (and their reps) need to spend more time getting to know them and market to them.

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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.

The Daily Edit – Wednesday
1.4.12

- - The Daily Edit

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Vanity Fair

Design Director: Chris Dixon
Photography Director: Susan White
Art Director: Julie Weiss
Senior Photography Editors: Sasha Erwitt, Susan Phear

Photographer: James Nachtwey

Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted.

A Very Special Thanks To My Contributors

- - Awesome

I wanted to take a moment before we get to cranking out blog posts in 2012 to recognize all the awesome contributors here at APE.

The Daily Edit, is a column I think will someday outgrow APhotoEditor. The idea was sparked by conversations with advertising art directors who told me they love editorial photography and my own need to get back to what I loved about photo editing. Looking at lots of pictures. I never gave a second thought to how they were made or what the steps were in the hiring process or what was it exactly it was about the photographer that caught my attention. I just looked at pictures and hired people who made ones I liked. So, I hired Heidi Volpe to go to newsstands and browse the magazines. Whatever she found interesting (a magazine you didn’t expect to have good photography, a new take on an old subject, a photographer she’d been following getting hired by a magazine she respected, pictures that rock), she bought and took a picture of the layout for me to publish. The best part is, I never know what it will be until I look first thing each day. Heidi has great taste and her reaction to images is based on years of experience working at magazines as a creative director, plus she loves editorial photography like I do. I hear from photo editors all the time how much they love it, so I know we’re on the right track.

Jonathan Blaustein started writing for me over a year and a half ago. Originally, he was visiting some photography events and interviewing people working on the fine art side of things. Recently though, he hit his stride with writing that is highly entertaining and self aware. I really love going inside his head as he visits art exhibits and pages through photography books. I’ve spent plenty of time looking at pictures, exhibits and books thinking, WTF, people like this. Jonathan has been expanding my mind and helped me see the underpinnings of this crazy genre. An unexpected bonus has been the recognition his own work is receiving, giving us and inside (the head) look at a career on the move.

Amanda Sosa Stone and Suzanne Sease were plucky enough to realize I had a bunch of photographers hungry for information about advertising and if they helped me find answers the goodwill would pay dividends. What started as a column called “ask anything” where questions and answers were exchanged anonymously and honestly has evolved into Suzanne Sease with a series of “state of the industry” posts and a new column looking at great advertising images. What I absolutely love about this series is how connected she is. She gets people at the top of the food chain to answer questions! I’ve also gained an appreciation for the difficulties facing advertising photography, but Suzanne handles it with such aplomb and a no BS attitude to boot.

Several years ago I asked a photographer I was talking with to send me the estimate for the job they’d just won. I said I was going to black out the identifying information and post it up on my blog to see what people thought. Well, I can only remember a couple other posts that set off a firestorm of comments like that one. I tried to get my hands on more estimates without much luck until the people at Wonderful Machine contacted me and said they be happy to provide them as a monthly column. It was a perfect match because I needed more estimates and they provided an estimating service to photographers. What I truly love about this column is how gutsy it is. Very few people could withstand the scrutiny of thousands of photographers looking at and downloading their latest estimate. Special thanks to Jess Dudley for keeping it alive.

So, here’s to the contributors, all your postings are honest, heartfelt and gutsy. My original mission, to talk about photography from inside the industry is alive because of you.

They Resonate Outside The Edges Of The Frame

- - Blog News

I will often leave many versions of an image up on my studio wall for days or weeks and the ones that get “tired” get taken down. Those that keep speaking, keep surprising, are the ones I select. Really strong photographs can never be owned or fully understood formally, narratively, or intellectually. They resonate outside the edges of the frame, and continue to speak over time.”

— Jocelyn Lee, in an interview with ahorn magazine, via The Great Leap Sideways.