Digital Has Definitely Made My Life Easier

- - Blog News

One thing I can say is that having every photographer’s website at my fingertips is wonderful. We have many shoots all around the country in small towns. The Internet is the only hope I have in finding photographers in these areas of the country.  There’s also nothing that impresses me more than when I meet with a photographer to review his or her book and an iPad is pulled out. It just makes viewing a photographer’s work so much easier and it shows that the photographer likes to keep things simple.

— William Morel, Photo Editor at Country Living

via Wonderful Machine Photography Blog.

The Daily Edit – Thursday

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National Geographic

Creative Director: Bill Marr
Deputy Creative Director: Kaitlin M. Yarnall
Design Director: David C. Whitmore
Art Director: Juan Velasco 
Deputy Photography Director: Ken Geiger

Photographer: Martin Schoeller

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

Never Explain Your Work

- - Photographers

I asked Ethan Levitas to tell us a little more about the picture he took for GQ that we featured on The Daily Edit last week. Here’s his response:

Jean-Jacques Naudet, the legendary editor in chief (’76-’88) of French Photo, who looks like a leading man and lives like a gentleman – and who is a gentle man – told me not to. This was years ago, at his flat in Paris, while I was showing him some rough prints of my work Broken Arm. They were strewn all over the living room floor, and as he looked them over he told me, in his deep but quiet voice, “These are great.” Then he asked, “But how did you get all the police to cooperate and pose for you? What did you say?” A bit perplexed by this, I replied, “Well, Naudet, I didn’t. And that, to a large degree, is the work.” To which he seemed to take great delight, smiled wide and said, “These ARE great.” Then he added a four letter word, poured us another glass, lit another cigarette and after a long pause looked up and said, “Never explain your work.”

And though the paradox wasn’t lost on me, I generally agree. But at the risk of stepping on my own photograph, and because I truly appreciated hearing sincerely and positively from my peers about this work, that it spoke to them, a few words.

Sam Brown’s experience is at turns unique, tragic, and inspiring. (I hope those interested will take a moment to read the text of the GQ article as well.) As I considered this sitting, I struggled to avoid any simplification that would leave the individual behind: a skin-deep representation of the trauma, a lens-based impulse to voyeurism or imposed sentimentality, or any political polemic. At the same time, Sam’s story is also Capt. Brown’s story, and cannot, and should not, be separated from the Nation which he represented and served. It is personal and it is collective. Which, incidentally, is not unlike photography itself.

Other than that, and if I may, I’d prefer at the moment to get out of the way and let my portrait, and the medium, speak for itself.

The Daily Edit – Wednesday

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Golf Digest

Creative Director: Ken DeLago
Director of Photography: Christian Iooss
Art Director: Tim Oliver
Associate Art Directors: Riva Schwartz, Doug Wheeler 

Photographer: Peter Schafrick

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

Heidi: Was that commissioned or existing work?
Peter: The piece I shot for Golf Digest was commissioned. They saw some of my personal work I shot using paint and sporting equipment (baseball, football, hockey, and tennis) plus some of the work I’ve done with paint and flowers – and they wanted something similar. Their requirements were that the equipment not be brand recognizable in order to create an powerful image to open for their ‘hot’ new golf gear.

Is that a special type of paint for your splash and crash series?
Nope. Just regular paint.

Did you specifically set out to develop that body of work? How did that idea come about?
My first experiments were with a rose, that I dunked in paint and twirled around. I then expanded the technique by doing a sports theme.

Are you using fans or is it all real motion?
It’s all real motion. I hold the club, dunk it, then swing it.

“The Making Of” shows us this must be a difficult edit because there are so many options, how do you edit this work?
Edits can be a chore! It’s so subjective, and so many of the shots each have their own uniqueness and beauty. Some are very splashy and look really amazing, some more elegant and they too look great. It’s quite easy to come up with at least 6 very unique and interesting final from a shoot like this. Usually the client has a very specific look in mind, so many times the out-takes make it into my book.

Who cleans up the mess?
The mess is somewhat controlled with a lot of plastic. We just wrap it all up and let the paint dry (I also place a piece of optical glass in front of my camera/lens). Then we dispose of the dried paint properly. I’ve got my lucky boots I wear on set, and I have a selection of paint clothes I wear as well. Although the paint can linger on my hands for a few days.

Health Care For Photographers

- - Working

I got a question from a reader about health care:

I’m shopping around for health care and it would be real interesting and helpful to see what people say and recommend in the comments section.

If you have any tips leave them in the comments. I’m sure many readers will find this helpful.

The Notion Of A Cultural Elite Is Threatening

- - Blog News

We now live under the hybrid tyranny of middlebrow. No serious person believes the Oscars are a list of the best films, or the Grammys the best music. Charitably one could say they represent a kind of averaging out, an index of the taste of a group of informed people. At worst, critics acting en masse, with one eye on what’s popular and one eye on what’s good, end up praising work that doesn’t upset them. That’s why there’s so much stuff that looks like art, smells like art, but when you bite into it, it just tastes of cardboard.

— Hari Kunzru, writing in The Observer, via The Great Leap Sideways.

The Daily Edit – Tuesday

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Outdoor Life

Design Director: Sean Johnston
Associate Art Directors: Kim Eddy, Shayna Marchese, James A. Walsh
Photography Director: John Toolan
Photo Editor: Justin Appenzeller

Photographer: Jens Mortensen

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

The Daily Edit – Monday

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New York Magazine

Photography Director: Jodi Quon
Art Director: Randy Minor
Deputy Art Director: Hitomi Sato
Senior Photo Editor: Lea Golis

Photographer: Moises Saman

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

This Week In Photography Books – Ryan McGinley

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

A month or so ago, I was watching an episode of the new cartoon, “The Avengers.” (For the purposes of this article, let’s say my 4 year old was with me. Less pathetic that way.) Regardless, Captain America turned to Iron Man and said, “Leaders lead.” I’ve heard that line a couple more times in the ensuing weeks. I suppose it’s in the Zeitgiest.

The opposite sentiment, beyond ubiquitous, is, of course, “Haters hate.” Most popular in hip hop, but now everywhere, it refers to that ever-so-glib portion of the population that likes to tear down others’ efforts, but lacks the stones to put forth their own creations. And I used to be one of them.

Oh, how I enjoyed being a Ryan McGinley hater. I was so well suited to the job. Living in Greenpoint in 2002, when he was first getting traction, I saw a photograph at Priska Juschka in Williamsburg. The lovely Dakota, naked as the day she was born, was illuminated by flash while frolicking in the black ocean. OMG, I said. How hard is it to sell a photo of a gorgeous naked hot chick? Anyone can do that. Whatever.

Then, the legend grew. He too was from New Jersey, and ambitious. Plus, he was younger than I was. When I saw his solo show at the Whitney a couple of years later, my eyeballs almost liquidated in all the seething hater-dom. “Are you kidding me,” I wondered. “How is this different from Nan Goldin?” I fumed. “He’s just photographing downtown cool kids. BFD. Could it be any more derivative?” Yes, I was jealous. But it felt so good. Because in my heart, I was sure that I was better than he, and that was all that mattered. (Fools. I’ll show them all…)

Fast forward to 2012, and the release of Mr. McGinley’s brand new monograph, “You and I,” just published by New Mexico’s own Twin Palms. Can’t review this one, I thought. I’m the charter member of the Ryan McGinley hater club, and what’s the point of trashing his book? But then an odd thing happened. I checked back in with myself, and realized that I had, at some point, transcended the hate. I suppose, as I grew up, I realized that everyone walks his/her own path. Success comes to different people at different times, if at all. Mr. McGinley was an art star, and I was just some guy. C’est la vie. And that’s when I got very curious to see this book.

Yes, it’s filled with photographs of naked pretty young things. (Far more boys than girls, if that means anything.) But so what? It’s not like he’s selling these things at a porn shop. There are easily more than a hundred plates, shot over a ten year time range. What I mistook long ago as cynical booty-peddling has clearly become the artist’s obsession and passion, as valid as anyones’. In book form, it all makes sense.

Certain symbols are repeated, fireworks, falling, caves, rivers, trees, motion, all as backdrops or partner effects to the nude youths. (Or as Joe Pesci might say, the nude “Utes.”) Much as I once saw these subjects as hipsters trying ever-so-hard, in “You and I,” it’s hard not to imagine them as nymphs or wood elves, perhaps Roman gods on a time-traveling vacation throughout the American West. (Where it seems much of the book was shot.) Yes, it all happened, and these are real people, but they don’t seem so. The allegorical/metaphorical nature of work shines.

The color palette is lovely, blues, greens, yellows. The mood is consistent, as is the shooting style. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to hang most of these photos on the wall, (particularly the cum shot, which you know has to be there,) but in book form, they’re pretty great. Definitely his own thing. Nan Goldin’s name never came up in my head, which says a lot about Mr McGinley’s evolution as an artist, and my evolution from hater to open-minded artist/writer/whatever-the-hell-I-am.

As some readers believe everything I examine is a suggestion for purchase, please do read the above carefully. You might enjoy this book, you might not. Clearly, the subject matter is kind of a love it/hate it thing. But at the very least, I can say that this book is well worth looking at, as it coalesces the vision of an important American Artist. (And now, my 27 year old self is dying a slow, painful death, somewhere deep within my psyche. Good riddance.)

Bottom line: Fantastic book, perhaps not for everyone

To buy this book visit Photo-Eye.

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

‘Zoe Strauss – Ten Years’ at Philadelphia Museum of Art

- - Blog News

…she continues to identify as an amateur, or at least retains certain amateur tics. Her portrait subjects are centered in the frame and square to the camera. She shares details of her working process on her blog and eschews tightly edited, gallery-style installations.

[…] It’s fair to say that Ms. Strauss has accomplished more in the past decade than many artists do in a lifetime. With more gumption than wherewithal, she spun a single idea into a magnum opus.

via Review –

Still Images In Great Advertising – Bryce Boyer

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

In today’s feature, I reached out to Bryce Boyer, because the ads he shot show great lighting, clever concepts and the importance of showing your talent to an agency and creative person using a pro-bono campaign to establish a working relationship. The pay off can be huge, many times better than spending thousands on a direct mailer. Creative people look at award winning ads and find photographers to shoot their paying jobs. In the the begining of my career as an art buyer, Jim Erickson would shoot our creative work with little budgets and it was great creative work that got The Martin Agency and Jim Erickson on the map. It is best to look at some assignments based on how they can help the future of your career.

Suzanne: I would assume this ad is a pro-bono project for Burns Marketing? Is that true?
Bryce: I worked with Burns Marketing to create these images to promote entering work into The Denver Fifty (Note: The award show is tonight), a unique advertising competition sponsored by Ad Club Denver that celebrates the region’s fifty best ideas. To honor the spirit of this contest, we developed posters behind the concept “Great Ideas Can’t Hide.” In other words, if you won’t submit your ideas to this show, Ad Club Denver will find them. That’s why every poster has a creative individual who is suddenly aware that someone is stalking them to take their idea.

Through this process, I had the privilege of teaming up with Jennifer Hohn, a fantastic art director at Burns Marketing, who was in charge of developing a marketing campaign to get creatives to submit ideas. This was my first time working with this agency. It gave me an opportunity to further expose my work to them and the Denver ad community. Fortunately, the posters were scooped up in blogs nationwide. Score!

And as a bonus, I thought this was a good time to give back to this vibrant, active ad community. I believe my creative energy should sometimes do more than move products off shelves. Twenty years from now, I want to look back and see my body of work with a sense of pride. So every year, I partner with a few non-profits that I share common values with. It’s a responsibility that has returns that benefit the soul, not the checkbook.

One more quick note about pro-bono work. There is never a convenient time to do something for free. To make it work, I have to schedule it just like any other job and give myself a real deadline. It’s easy for me to do it in my head, but a deadline makes it happen in real time.

Suzanne: Tell me about the lighting on this as the drama of the image makes the viewer stop versus a great headline with supporting image.
Bryce: For years I have built a style around complex lighting that requires a sizable crew and carts of equipment. This job had no budget, so I wanted to keep it simple. Most shots had one Kino for the key light, a Lowell DP casting a shadow from a foam core cut out of the pursuing “shadow man,” and a small Lowell Omni for fill.

But this wasn’t a one-man show. Jennifer art directed all aspects of the campaign. I pulled a favor from a Denver modeling agency called Radical Talent. I wanted to use actors instead of print models. It worked out great. We also shot a video spot edited by Stephen Zinn, had special effects added by friends at Spillt, and final color was donated by Post Modern. The print retouching was also provided by XYZ Graphics. Even though we had no budget, the whole campaign felt like it was a large job because I was surrounded by such an incredibly talented team.

Suzanne: Since this ad was targeted to creative people, did you see an increase in awareness to your work? Increase in work?
Bryce: Absolutely! I didn’t follow it too close because I shot this a week right before my son Aaron was born. At this point, I unplugged and vicariously watched the rest of the team perform the final touches. I work with a lot of local agencies and I’ve seen the posters pinned to walls all over which I find extremely gratifying. Since returning to the studio, I’ve been slammed…in a good way. I have no doubt that most active creatives in Denver saw the posters and this project will lead to more work in the future.

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

Bryce Boyer is a commercial photographer based in Denver, Colorado who specializes in photographing dynamic images of people for ads and a few select magazines. Clients include Chaco, Olay, Miller/Coors, Johnson & Johnson, Cricket, The Brown Palace, Denver Children’s Hospital, Visit Denver, and The Sports Authority.

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.

Try Not To Be Someone Else

- - Blog News

People told me I wouldn’t find a true style for five or ten years, if not a lifetime. It’s held true. Just when I think I have it where I want it, I look back and think it’s crap. I would stress patience and not paying too much attention to other people’s work. Shoot because you love it; shoot the stuff that resonates with you.

I try to shoot in a way that pleases me and hope to connect with art directors and photo editors who resonate with the same things. Those are the relationships that will be fruitful and the jobs that will turn out well.

via The Great Discontent: Eric Ryan Anderson. thx, Charlie

The Daily Edit – Thursday

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Design Director: Fred Woodward
Director of Photography: Dora Somosi
Art Director: Thomas Alberty
Senior Photo Editor: Krista Prestek

Photographer: Ethan Levitas

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

Jake Stangel – A New Chapter

- - Photographers

I’ve been following Jake Stangel’s career for several years and noticed recently that he signed with Julian Richards and this month shot a feature in Esquire Magazine. He’s been very active online helping fellow emerging photographers, previously with his forum Too Much Chocolate and now a series of posts on his blog “the four most important things you can do to become a professional photographer“. I thought we should check in with Jake and see what’s going on.

APE: Tell me about yourself and how you got started as a photographer?
Jake Stangel: I was that dude in high school whose hands always reeked of D-76 from processing tri-x and printing in the darkroom without tongs all day long. I was fortunate to go to a public school that had a great photo program and provided all the black and white film I could shoot. Photography is just literally how I’ve identified myself since I was 15 years old, it’s been ten years now. Just constantly shooting, constantly out and about with a camera, always loving it. There’s never been a day I’ve been “over” photography, and I feel really fortunate to have that kind of relationship with the medium.

I went to NYU/Tisch photo for college, really hated what the majority of the photo program was about throughout my freshman year. A bunch of 18 year old egos with pretty shitty work (myself included), listless crits, an even more listless curriculum (I hear it’s gotten better, this was in 2008). And it was expensive. I couldn’t see myself there for 3 more years, so I got out of there ASAP after my freshman year.

However, I did stay within NYU, and followed my own educational path by enrolling in a school called Gallatin, where you can create your own major. I studied photography, marketing, economics, American Industrialization, and did a whole lot of writing over those last three years in college, which was seriously fundamental. I also studied abroad by doing a semester with NOLS in Central America for full credit, which took me about as far from NYC and civilized life as one can get. I would very much advise studying a well-rounded group of subjects in college, stay aware of what’s going on around you, cause there’s alot more than photography in this world.

Living in NYC was also paramount to my development as a photographer, and I got to intern and assist for Jeff Riedel and Richard Renaldi. Both of those experiences were fantastic and I learned heaps. These internships were utterly fundamental in solidifying my desire and motivation to become a photographer myself. I got so excited and happy to be on shoots, I knew I wanted to go for it. So, if college kids are reading this, work for photographers you love and respect. Doesn’t matter how big-time they are, though it’s helpful if they are working!

What does biking across the country (three times!) have to do with becoming a professional photographer? Shouldn’t you be assisting or something?
So I’m a little deranged (or very sane) and love cycling and traveling so much that I’ve ridden a bicycle East to West across America three times over three summers, twice while still in college in 2007, 2008, and once after I graduated in 2009. About 3 months and 3,000-4,000 miles each time. Usually 50-65 towns along the way. Lots of on the bike and off the bike time.

Every summer, the camera became my journal. The trips were just as fundamental to my photographic development as anything I did in college, and built the foundation upon which I still shoot: exploratory, narrative driven, environment-focused, mood-oriented, engagingly quirky photos that are based on wonderful light and interesting compositions. Everything became part of a visual diary, and a cause for exploration with a camera.

These exploration-quests set the tone for me to always be present on the real, live moment, the situation, the snippets of life/human interaction/engagement that mark our lives, our personal experiences, our memories. It lets me shoot quickly, loosely, and lightly. It also lets me jump between locations alot quicker, and allows me be on the lookout for great light and settings to shoot in, and not worry about all 9 strobes firing or wishing I hadn’t planted all my lights in one place.

These trips were also a phenomenal way to build a giant body of personal work, which I was aware of going into it, and really tried to take advantage of every day. Almost every ride and every experience was a “William Eggleston, eat your heart out” kind of day.

After I moved to Portland, OR from NYC, I was able to leverage this portfolio alot, and it helped kind of pull me up out of assisting a little quicker. But that said, I was shooting a crap-ton of personal work every day in Portland too.

I recognized that personal work, and developing a comprehensive portfolio of reportage-y, on-location work was the key to getting commissions. So I just went for it. Assigned myself what I wanted to shoot, then showed that work around, then got actual assigned work that nicely overlayed on top of it.

Seems like you’ve hit a new chapter in your career. The forum you started for up and coming photographers (Too much chocolate) is dead and you signed with a major rep. (Julian Richards). Tell me about it?
Yeah first of all, a goddamn hacker that took the site down. I didn’t pull the plug on it. I was getting pretty overwhelmed trying to maintain it at the end of last year while shooting, and planned to put it on hiatus, but keep it live, as a reference. Then this hacker came in and destroyed it. I’m beyond bummed, it was like 2.5 years of my life and hundreds of hours of time on the site. I think I’m just going to upload a tombstone on the homepage.

I met Julian through my genial photographer friend, Alex Tehrani. I was shooting some snowboarders riding halfpipe in 2007 in Stratton, Vermont for a small snowboard magazine. I was being totally dumb/gnarly by shooting with a 4×5 Toyo camera, which is the worst cause it slows down the process about 15 times, and you just hope the rider is in the right place, took the right line you prefocused on, etc. When a shot comes out, it’s worth it, but you’re so gripped the whole time you’re shooting, thinking about the money sinking through your hands.

Anyway, Alex comes tromping down the pipe in ski boots with a 5D and a huge sloppy grin on his face, and he’s like, “Dude! What the hell are you doing?!?”. He was there shooting Shaun White or Kevin Pearce, I think, for Men’s Journal. A friendship was born.

Alex became, and still is very much a mentor to me. I love him for that. He’s got such a great attitude and life outlook. Alex had been with Julian forever, and over time, sometime in 2009 I guess, he introduced Julian to my (nascent and early) work. So from there Julian and I got to know each other in late 2010 or so, and I quote-unquote “signed” with him in the summer of 2011. It was a totally pleasant, totally slow and totally natural process. Like childbirth. I’ve been told.

Julian’s great, I’m pumped. There were so few agents I took a liking to, where the roster was fantastic and the overall vibe wasn’t “we’re gonna turn you into a slick, photo-taking machine and you’re gonna shoot for Mercedes-Benz”. I really love Julian because he lets all of his photographers be themselves, and he really finds work that snugly fits right along with our personal, natural style, as opposed to jamming a square peg in a round hole.

What’s going on in the northwest, some kind of photography movement? Every time I check out someone new and cool they’re from the NW? Maybe you guys have a gang or something?
Well I moved to San Francisco in the summer, around when I came on board with Julian, but the two happenings were unrelated. I moved cause I wanted more sun, really, and I felt like Portland was definitely limiting my chances of getting work and being as visible as I wanted to. I’d have great meetings with photo editors and at the end they’re like, “where do you live again”, and I’d say “Portland!” and they’d be like, “oh…”. So I split. But I still love Portland.

Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver also have smaller and more transparent communities, where everyone knows each other, whereas in NYC and SF you start to not have that. The Northwest is rad because everyone there is incredibly grounded and centered, they’re much more in touch with nature, the rent is cheap and the coffee is also really cheap yet terrific, and most people grow beards, which helps in some way I haven’t yet ascertained.

So, is everything starting to click for you now? In the first chapter I detected angst, like “when is this career going to start,” but now you must be feeling pretty good?
Well, it’s not like I just stepped into the club and everything started to pop off. It’s been alot alot alot of struggle and getting the angle of my Kangol hat just so and there have been lots of rainy mornings spent getting out of ruts and staying positive and directed. Just tons of hard work. That’s all I can really say. Everyone who you see doing well has worked incredibly hard to get to where they are in their career, they’re all on the grind.

If anything, and I’m sure there’s a business term for this, there was a definite tipping point where I had the ability to channel all the commissioned work I was getting back into my portfolio, and that let things snowball alot. I was no longer having to make personal work to get assignments, my assignments were getting me more assignments. So its almost like all these magazine jobs were doing my marketing for me, because not only did it all become portfolio material, but was turning up in print, and it helps you stay top of mind alot more.