I tend to linger on images and rework things that I should just move on from, I’m trying to do less of that. Keep making new things.
via MULL IT OVER.
I tend to linger on images and rework things that I should just move on from, I’m trying to do less of that. Keep making new things.
via MULL IT OVER.
Just now, not three minutes ago, I saw a hummingbird. Clomping down my dirt road in flip-flops, I was lost in thought. The first few paragraphs of this column were dancing through my brain; synapses firing, mentally banging on my keyboard. A hundred yards from my computer, and already I could hear the rhythmic song of plastic on plastic.
Then, I saw the whizzing wings out of the corner of my eye, hovering above the most beautiful orange/red wildflower. I stopped dead, turned my head towards the little creature, and watched. Of course, you can’t see the wings move. Everyone knows that. But the blur is hypnotic.
Suddenly, I could hear a magpie squawking. Then, two different bird calls joined the chorus. Next, the sound of the Rio Hondo behind me, whoosh, whoosh, gurgle, gurgle. A symphonic moment, all thanks to Nature.
Of course, the sounds were there all along. I just didn’t hear them, as I was too busy listening to the voices in my head. Ironically, I was planning to write about the intersection of Nature and religion. I had it all worked out.
Then, I saw the hummingbird, and everything disappeared. I was left with only my immediate surroundings. My mind cleared, and I felt much better than I had the moment before. Now, I’m writing a different column than I would have otherwise.
If you were trite, you might say I had my “Moment of Zen.” (Thank you, Jon Stewart.) To all the urbanites out there, I’ll tell you this: I know it sounds cliché. Mountain guy writes about hanging out with the birds, while your background noise consists of honking horns, cursing neighbors, ice cream trucks, and jackhammers working on the roads. (I think they were hammering on Canal St. the entire time I lived in NYC.)
Or, maybe you’ll think something else. “Wow, that sounds amazing. I wish I could live in such a pretty place.” I tell you, we have problems here just like everyone else. Violence and poverty and addiction and wildfires. And you can’t get a decent slice of pizza to save your life, even if you have mad cash like Mikhail Prokhorov.
With respect to the idea of Zen, though, I think it’s worth taking a step further. Art communicates information. (For once, I state the obvious.) Information is a general term: it can mean ideas, of course, but also emotional energy. We’ve been through this before.
Most of time, we tend to focus on the Art that shakes us: dynamic, baroque evocations of Environmental disaster, sexual trafficking, or death. Things like that. Everyone’s always talking about whether Art can change the world, or how images of War are so important for our general body of knowledge. All true.
But how often do we talk about Art that will simply change your mood? Is there value in a photograph, if it only slows you down, soothes your mind, and hijacks your brainwaves away from anxiety or fear or exhaustion, if even for moment?
Minimalism and abstraction have been around for a long time. (The former was popular in China 800 years ago, and the latter evolved in painting a Century ago.) Personally, I tend to prefer my minimalism Sculptural, in the Donald Judd or Carl Andre style. Minimalist photography is not normally my thing.
So I was pleasantly surprised to see Uta Barth’s new book, “to draw with light,” recently published by Blind Spot. Slowly tease the simple hardcover out of its matching slip-cover, and the world’s noise begins to melt into the background.
The volume is broken down into three sections, each displaying a very narrow range of imagery. The first, my favorite, connects to the title. Curvilinear, wave-like forms of white light are depicted on luminescent, white curtains. Again. And again.
One person’s seductive beauty is another person’s “boring as hell,” but hear me out. One minute, I was stressed out about having to write this column, not sure I had the proper creativity-juice-cocktail today. The next moment, my mind was still. I felt better.
The photos are unquestionably beautiful, and simple, lacking any over-arching socio-political message. If you asked the artist, she might not discuss the Zen qualities, the hint of Buddhism. Or perhaps she might. It doesn’t matter.
The other two sections are similar. The second depicts white light on white studio cabinets. The final returns to the curtains, this time interjecting solarized images with the normal ones. Not my style, as I’ve seen a few too many student-cell phone-solarizations to find the tactic worthy of such a major artist. Little matter. I’ve had my few minutes of peace for the day, and have emerged thankful.
Bottom Line: Beautiful and simple, which ought to be enough
Full Disclosure: Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.
Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.
It’s one of those things that I just got lucky, and I didn’t screw up. It’s about being lucky and not screwing up, and trying to be ready for some moment if you happen to be the right place.
Still Images In Great Advertising, is a column where Suzanne Sease discovers great advertising images and then speaks with the photographers about it.
I search out for product photography and how is it is used in advertising. So many times US advertising likes to take the “safe” route and making sure we show products to not upset the “apple cart”. This campaign caught my eye because it was an explosion of flavors and I loved that! So I reached out to my dear friends at Bernstein & Andriulli and asked them and Diver & Aguilar these questions.
Diver & Aguilar: What is really interesting with what you have mentioned about the Magnum Campaign is that this imagery does absolutely go against trend. Taking this into context and looking at a global consumer audience the decision by Unilever to invest in the project makes much more sense. Of course they already have the safety net of the more straight forward “Product” advertising shots in circulation using what I call “Basic visual language” ie – something simple and straight to the point. This is the product and this is what you get. You don’t need to appreciate art to go out and buy a hazelnut and caramel bourbon flavour Magnum Ice.
This imagery of the exploding Ice creams ran in tandem with these product advertising shots you see everyday as you travel around town and our explosions were specifically targeted at different consumer groups. In Latin countries the campaign ran in conjunction with an “Event” the idea being that the consumer could interact and fire the ingredients from a canon at a giant canvas and make “Art”.
When the new Super-Temptation Magnum was launched in Singapore the event was more akin to a socialite party with the new ice being promoted as a Luxury Brand. At the event the clientele were able to order their own bespoke Magnum Temptation flavour made on the spot by a cordon bleu chef.
Lola-Madrid also commissioned us to produce a special series of fine art images that were used to promote the agency and their client throughout the summer of the advertising festivals in Europe, in particular at the Cannes Lions event.
Suzanne: Please tell me more about you’all (okay my Virginia dialect) but I am seeing on the B&A website that you both have so many styles from still life to people. How do you do it?
Diver & Aguilar: Yes we agree it is quite unusual to find a photographer or indeed a creative partnership that is so diverse in respect of the different specialties we cover in the photographic sector. Before I met Pedro I had been working freelance extensively within the Music industry and also doing a lot of portrait & people based conceptual advertising and fashion work. So this was the foundation we started from.
The decision to move into still life was one made out of commercial necessity and also one based on “Creative Growth”. It proved to be one of the best decisions we made business wise, maybe there is a higher level of technical skill involved or it’s a slightly less competitive field than say fashion photography. Although the competition is not just coming from photographers themselves but also the technology namely 3D & CGI, although now these elements are also integrated into our repertoire.
What is critical with what we do is to try and create the same visual signature across the whole range of commissions we undertake and hopefully commissioners can see they are buying into that style rather than a generic “Jack of all Trades”. Pedro comes from a Fine Art background and I have always seen things from quite a fantastical and theatrical perspective, so I guess those influences have started to show through within our style.
It’s not really important how we arrive at the final outcome as there are many solutions to the realization of every brief.
Without a doubt there is still an old school mentality out there and some clients just can’t get their head around the concept of a photographer shooting sport and say luxury watches. But it’s easy to tie up the links when you see football players advertising Hugo Boss Fragrance and F1 drivers for Tag Heuer watches.
Suzanne: As a team it is hard to make the buyer understand how the team work, how do you all make the buyer understand who does what?
Diver & Aguilar: Yes, this is still something that we struggle to communicate to the buyer on many levels. People will always try and break the relationship down into Photographer/Retoucher which is one way of looking at things, but most importantly we are selling people a visual solution to their brief. A photographer can be a service provider or an artist and the same is true with retouching, many agencies have real difficultly understanding the difference, certainly at production level (not so much at creative) this is quite possibly because a lot of agencies now have in house post production and see it as a further source of financial revenue for the agency and cannot discern the difference between post production as an art form or a technical skill.
For us the entire creative process from research to pre production, through to the shoot phase and beyond are so intertwined that they really can’t be separated out, nor should they be. Just to give you an example when I read through a brief I very quickly see in my minds eye what the final result will look like, I always visualize in picture form and that is something that would be hard to translate into words and therefore to trust someone else to portray our vision as we see things.
That said it still amazes me that people will ask ” Do you do your own Post Production?”. This has now led me to producing work in progress imagery of projects in post production, say “screenshots of Photoshop” etc, along with behind the scenes images from the shoot and then using this material online to show people the full process involved in our productions as a visual narrative.
Suzanne: From your personal work to your assignment work, what excites you most?
Diver & Aguilar: I think we find ourselves in quite a fortunate position, having built up a reputation for a certain style of photography a lot of the commissions we get are based on the work we represent online or in our folio.
The best creative directors are those who recognize who the right talent for the assignment is in the first place and then with the least interference possible allow the artist to realize the brief to its maximum creative potential. A great creative can also keep a client at arms length as the client quite fairly may be an expert at running their business but not necessarily have a creative eye.
We also are very lucky to work with a few magazines around the world that fund our own personal assignments. We tend to have an agreement to supply the editor with the content they need, which may be very similar to what we would shoot anyway or the commission gives us the funding to realize our own vision of what we would like to showcase as a personal series of images.
Suzanne: Editorial to Personal to Hired- how do you market that?
Diver & Aguilar: I think everything with every project you undertake nowadays you always have to be looking at the bigger picture. Editorial print is of course a classic vehicle for photographers to showcase their work, you can still reach a lot of people, most importantly it builds reputation and in the instances of the top notch of editorial, fame.
But a coordinated marketing strategy is essential to get the maximum results with your work. If you are shooting personal, you need to look at want you are going to do with that work? Are you going to self publish? If so how are you going to promote this, are you looking to curate an exhibition and what methods of exposure are you going to initiate online electronically to get your work full exposure. Then unless it’s purely self indulgent or your only goal is to sell fine art prints, you also have to be asking questions like; who is this work going to appeal to? What areas of the commercial market may pick up on this project and see the potential to turn it into a profitable commission for you. This might be something in your lighting style or a visible talent you have for casting amazing characters in your images.
There has never been a more diverse set of tools available to a photographer in order to market themselves and although it’s a bit of a minefield out there you really need to take full advantage of the opportunities in order to stand out from the crowd. At the end of the day content is still king and consistent effort will bring consistent results.
Note: Content for Still Images In Great Advertising is found. Submissions are not accepted.
London based, Diver & Aguilar met seven years ago and quickly formed a successful creative partnership working for clients in both the luxury brand sector and conceptual advertising markets of commercial photography. Their collaboration has seen commissions from clients such as GQ, Tatler, The Financial Times and Graff Diamonds as well as advertising work for Coca Cola, FC Barcelona, Nike & Unilever.
In 2008 their work was voted the best advertising photography in Spain by C de C and they have picked up various awards over the last seven years including Gold Graphis & Epica commendations & a D&AD Pencil. Their work has been a regular feature in the prestigious Association of Photographers awards book and exhibition for both their advertising and documentary imagery. In addition to their advertising work Diver & Aguilar are passionate about fine art social documentary photography and have worked with subject matters as diverse as Native Americans, Matadors & traditional 50’s Rockabillies .
Pedro Aguilar studied a fine Art M.A in Seville and Mike Diver trained in traditional Photography at the London Institute.
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..
I knew this was really official when I received an email from my old boss Neil Leifer titled “WOW!” “I just got my new SI this afternoon and I love your 6 page spread in “leading off”. Congratulations, the spread look really great,” Leifer said.
PDN/Nielsen launched a new magazine called PIX and Jezebel immediately picked up on the excessively girly and fluffy content in a post titled “Finally, Lady Photojournalists Get Their Own Photo Ladymag Full of Lady Stereotypes”:
Nielsen issued a statement basically saying that they mistakenly used Photo District News in the sender line when the email went out and that this new magazine has nothing to do with professional photography and is geared specifically for photo enthusiasts (here).
On July 10th The Nielsen Photo Group, parent company of Photo District News, Rangefinder and other publications and photography events, introduced a new, free digital magazine edition of PIX for photo enthusiasts. The content of this edition is specifically geared toward women who enjoy photography as a hobby, featuring articles and product suggestions intended to inspire women to shoot more and create better photographs.
An e-mail announcing PIX was sent to The Nielsen Photo Group’s entire audience including hobbyists, students, emerging and professional photographers. The e-mail introducing PIX mistakenly had the name Photo District News in the sender line.
It seems a little incongruous for a company that wants to be all about professional photography to get in the business of supporting photo enthusiasts and specifically going after the “Mom’s With A Camera” group. But, I guess that’s what happens when you have a corporate mother ship hovering over you.
Personally, I think it’s fine if Nielsen sees an opportunity to make money off the emerging category of MWAC’s I would just expect other titles in the family that think it’s BS to stand up and say so. A little mocking from the Pros is a good thing.
What was missing most of all in this year’s exhibition was artists who take risk with the photographic medium. There was no work that was challenging, trendsetting or relatively innovative. A fault of curation, not the photographers themselves. The lack of edginess and quality raises the question, can the old teach the new during these times of flux in the photographic field?
via Raw File | Wired.com.
I was contacted recently by an East Coast photographer to help quote on a project for a well-known clothing retailer. The retailer’s mid-sized ad agency had approached the photographer and shared layouts for a catalog promoting the following season’s clothing line. The catalog would feature a combination of fashion portraits and still life pictures on seamless backgrounds. Our photographer, a still life specialist, was asked to just quote on the still life portion of the project which consisted of 23 pictures. The comps showed shirts, pants, shoes and accessories shot from above, on a flat surface, arranged as an outfit. Along with the layouts, the agency provided a detailed shot list specifying 3 days of shooting at a local studio.
A few days later, the photographer and I dialed into a creative call with the agency to learn more about the project. As with all creative calls, this was a great opportunity for the photographer to show his enthusiasm for the assignment, share creative ideas and convey confidence to the agency. During the conversation, we learned that the catalog was part of a much larger rebranding effort for their client that would help the brand reach a younger demographic. This was our first hint that the project may be a larger production than your typical studio catalog shoot.
Here’s what we discussed on the creative call:
With this information, I could start to put together some numbers. For a typical national catalog shoot, we normally quote $4,000-$6,000 a day for the creative fee including licensing. Catalog use is certainly advertising use (which might otherwise command a higher fee), but unlike other advertising that might show up in magazines or on billboards, catalog use is normally limited to the actual printed piece. And because of the nature of fashion, the images tend to have very short life spans and tend to require a lot of shoot days (both factors providing some downward pressure on the day rate). Some catalog work is so much about volume and so little about skill that rates can be as low as 1000.00 per day. In those cases, the work is usually done directly for the client (rather than through an ad agency)—and often using the client’s studio and equipment.
In the mean time, we got another call from the agency explaining that they would like us to quote on broader licensing. In addition to the catalog use, they needed 3 months of paid advertising use and print collateral use. A few hours after that, I received another email saying that they now were planning on a 2-day shoot with licensing for just 12 images and they’d like to make it happen for under $100k.
I checked to see what our pricing guides suggested:
Blinkbid: For catalog, web use and print advertising Blinkbid quoted $11,550-$16,500 per image per year or (arguably) $2,887-$4,125 for 3 months. So in the neighborhood $30k for 12 images (factoring in a bit of a quantity discount).
FotoQuote: Their advertising and marketing pack for 3 months suggested a range of 13,728 and 27,456 for one image.
Getty Images: Using their Flexible Licensing, an Advertising Pack of print, outdoor and web for three months in the U.S. would be $12k per image.
Given such a short licensing duration (3 months), I think it’s unlikely that the agency is going to make ads out of all 12 of those photos. So considering all that (not to mention the budget suggested by the client), I decided to price the first two images at 5,500 each and the remaining 10 at 2,000 each, which brought us to a total photography fee of $31,000.
We included the rates for an assistant and a digital tech for both shoot days as well as the pre-light day, and included a second assistant for just the shoot days. The photographer had a producer that he worked with regularly, and at his suggestion, we budgeted 7 days to account for his time to hire the crew, attend the shoot and manage all the post-shoot paperwork. (This seemed a little fat to me given the project.) I also included (at the request of the producer) a production assistant (also a little excessive). I budgeted 1200.00 for the photographer for the pre-light day (which in retrospect, might be a little thin.)
The stylist was just as important to the agency as the photographer, so we included rates for a seasoned soft goods stylist who would also be shopping for the supplemental props. The quote we received from the stylist broke out separate fees for their shoot days and prep days, and we included them as separate lines in the estimate. The stylist would be bringing their assistant and a tailor/seamstress to alter the clothing. We budgeted 4 prep days for the stylist – 2 to get props and 2 in the studio to prepare the clothes, make any necessary alterations, and set up at least the first couple of shots. The stylist assistant would handle the returns.
While the props were originally supposed to be minimal, the agency ended up sending over a few sample images of nice travel accessories and other items that they wanted to have on hand. For those props, we budgeted 2000.00. We included costs for seamless paper and foam core for the stylists to lay out the clothing on and pin it to if needed.
We would need the studio for the two shoot days, a pre-light day, and the additional wardrobe stylist prep day. The photographer also specified 5000.00/day for equipment rental. That might sound like a lot at first glance, but it would allow us to run 2 sets at a time so the stylists could be setting up one shot while we were shooting another.
I tend to include a nominal amount of crew overtime charges as a matter of course to avoid any surprises later. It also gives us some wiggle room in the budget in case other unexpected costs arise.
We also included a post-production day for the photographer to organize and do final tweaks, then deliver the raw files on a hard drive. (The ad agency would be handling the retouching themselves.)
I chose to add a line-item for insurance. It’s customary on motion picture projects and increasingly on bigger still projects to add 1-2% to cover the cost of equipment insurance, liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.
I budgeted 1250.00 for mileage, parking, messengers, etc. for all the little things that add up when running around town looking for props, picking up equipment, etc.
I always put “plus applicable sales tax.” That covers me in all cases and it doesn’t unnecessarily inflate my bottom line when we do have to charge it. I always spell out items that the client is going to provide (I forgot to mention that the client was going to do the retouching). And we normally expect to get at least half of the production expenses up front.
The whole project came in at $92k.
You can view the estimate here:
I heard a few days later that the client chose another photographer. But I wasn’t able to get any more information than that.
If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing one of your projects, contact Wonderful Machine.
There is no end to rejection in art (or I suppose in life), no matter how “successful” a person might seem. I had a heck of a last year. Lost of prizes, lots of shows. I’m sure from the outside it might look like I’m on top of the world…. and to some degree I am. Hard work paying off feels great. But the part I don’t advertise as much is that there is still, and I am certain always will be, plenty of getting rejected. They way I see if you don’t get rejected every now and then you are really doing something wrong. Your art must be boring. Or you have become complacent and aren’t trying to push things. I figure the best goal is to keep one upping your rejection. Try to get rejected from increasingly impressive things, grants, publications, institutions, people, etc.
So now that you’re a professional photographer, you need to capture the simpler things in life. All of them. It is your duty as an artist, after all. And there is nothing simpler than your pretentious foodie excursions. You posted an Instagram-ed picture of a handful of blueberries the other day. What would your day have been without those blueberries? Would you have felt a little less connected to the earth and, ultimately, yourself? Would you have felt guilty about letting all of nature’s candy go to waste? Or perhaps the real question is this: how disappointed would you have felt if your beautiful, plump blueberries got less than 15 likes? It would have made blueberry picking pretty pointless, right? But no, you are popular and people like to feel earthy and spontaneous by livng vicariously through you and your blueberry-picking adventure.
“Thank You,” and “I’m sorry” are among the most powerful phrases in any language. (As words are only ideas encoded in sounds, fortunately, the concepts are universal.) In my day-to-day business, I’m constantly surprised that so many people are unaware of the import of appreciation and contrition.
Taken together, those twin values synthesize into Respect. Which is, in my opinion, the key to happiness and success. If you don’t respect yourself, you cannot possibly respect others. And unless you’re a super-talented, pathological narcissist, you’re unlikely to make it far in this world without a healthy dose of Respect.
I mention this, today, because I’d like to temporarily tackle an issue that’s been consistently bugging me for my two-year tenure here at APE. Yes, I’m going to directly address the cadre of knuckleheads and d-bags that leave nasty, heartless, and comically un-self-aware comments at the end of these articles. Lest you think me a simpleton, I do know that these words you’re reading ensure we’ll see more such comments below.
That’s right. It’s time to speak to our gallery of fools; the short-tempered, know-it-all, sadsacks who hide behind the veil of anonymity. Here’s the truth: you make yourself look really bad every time you drop the hatred on our heads. Secretly, deep down, you know this to be true. If not, you’d add your name and email address to each post. But you don’t.
When you disrespect me, (and Rob,) with your petty, childish zingers, you disrespect the rest our the enormous audience that follows this blog. They know better than to admire your thoughtlessness. Ultimately, you disrespect yourself. Your shame spiral all but guarantees that you’ll do it again, here or somewhere else. There is no bucket of Ben and Jerry’s big enough to drown your self-hatred. (Clearly, I’m differentiating between hating, and constructive criticism. The latter is beneficial, as I’ve said many times.)
If you are one such person, gathering your thoughts to trash me at the end of reading this, how about you try something else today? Stop reading, here, now, and go do something else. Take a walk. Lift some weights. Read a book. Even better, grab your camera, and go make some Art. Channel your anger into something more productive. Because if your goal is to hurt my feelings, or get me fired, it won’t work.
However, if this community, (and the Internet in general,) were to lose that mindless hatred, we might just have ourselves some interesting, intellectually challenging debates. I’m certain there are countless readers who never, ever write in because they’re afraid of being embarrassed by one of the few people to whom I’m speaking now. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what those people have to say?
Yes, Respect is the word of the day. It was the keyword for the recently completed European Football Championships too. (Plastered all over those Polish and Ukrainian stadiums.) It’s also a word you hear a lot in inner cities. Minority and low-income communities are constantly decrying the lack of respect they feel from the police, the powers-that-be, and from the rich folks who live a neighborhood or two away.
One way to combat a dearth of Respect is to challenge people’s pre-conceptions and bedrock assumptions. It’s the reason that I wrote those incendiary paragraphs above. It’s also the reason that Kehinde Wiley has had such a remarkably successful career in a short span of time.
Mr. Wiley, the SFAI and Yale trained painter, has made a living off of placing not-quite-sterotypical visions of contemporary African-American men into the traditional, art historical painting context. (At present, he’s also working with Non-African-American-Men-Of-Color.) I say not-quite, because, despite the clothing and bling, there is a vulnerability to his subjects, and sometimes almost a sexual ambiguity, that defies easy stereotypes.
I missed his show at the Jewish Museum when I was ever-so-briefly in NYC late last month, mostly because of a lack of time. Additionally, I knew I had his book in my pile. Big mistake. If you live anywhere near NYC, go check it out. The book has stoked the embers of my curiosity. But now I’m back in my horse pasture. Oh well.
Mr. Wiley has a new monograph of his work, published by Rizzoli, and I’ve given it a good look. Fantastic stuff. The artist photographs his subjects, and places them in ornate, painted compositions that are often titled to reflect their art historical origins. As so many photographers wish they could paint, including the brilliant HCB, this book is worth checking out. The transformation from person to photo to canvas is symbolic of the entirety of Art practice.
Furthermore, there are a suite of photographic images included in the book. The style is the same as the painted images, but they lack the magic, spark, genius…whatever it is, they lack something. Definitely not as good, but still interesting. I only mention it, because I believe it behooves all of us to be proficient in more than one medium, but of course that’s much easier said than done.
Bottom Line: Very cool book, probably not something you’ve seen before
Full Disclosure: Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.
Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.