Real World Estimates – Reportage For Advertising Use

by Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine Producer

Recently, an ad agency contacted one of our photographers about an estimate to shoot a series of still photographs for a campaign for a popular sporting goods manufacturer. A year earlier, the photographer had quoted on a similar project for the same agency, but the two of them couldn’t come to terms on it (the photographer wasn’t comfortable delivering extensive licensing on so many pictures for what he thought was a low fee). But his diplomacy, patience and professionalism were rewarded when the agency came back to him with another project. Knowing that the client was cost-sensitive he wanted to make every effort to deliver a reasonable proposal. But just as he knew the client’s sensitivity to price, the client knew his and came back to him anyway. They were interested in the photographer not just because of his style of shooting, but also because of his post-processing technique.

The shoot was to take place on one day at a factory half-way across the country. The project required making portraits and candid photos of employees at work, as well still life pictures of the final product. The shoot would require only minimal pre-production. All of the elements in the pictures (the people, the location, the props) were already in place, and the photographer’s (mostly) ambient light style of shooting would allow him to get his pictures with minimal equipment or disruption to the operation.

The photographer had gotten the initial details from the agency (including a shot list) and then asked me to talk to them. After reviewing the concept and approach with the photographer, I prepared a list of questions for the art buyer:

  1. Do you want the photographer to use his signature available light shooting and post-processing style? Yes.
  2. Do you want the photographer to work with the people and process as it is, or dress it up in any way? As is, but of course filtered through the photographer’s unique style.
  3. Would all of the elements of the manufacturing process be available to shoot at any time of day, or would we have to work on a certain schedule? Each step of the production process was going on all the time. The shot list broke the shoot up into four situations within the facility, with loose guidelines for each.
  4. Does the whole manufacturing process take place in one facility or will we have to move from one location to another during the day? Everything was contained in one big facility.
  5. Do you want all of the pictures (including the still life pictures) to maintain the same ambient light look (even though the photographer may add light here and there)? Yes.
  6. How many final images do need? 18
  7. What licensing do you need for those pictures? Worldwide print advertising use (in sport publications only), web advertising use, point of purchase, collateral (print and web) for 2 years.
  8. Are there other photographers bidding on the job? None (at this point). I also found that the agency was pushing hard to use this photographer because his past work and unique style was the actual inspiration for the concept.
  9. Do you have a set budget? No.
  10. Are you going to want to approve the pictures as they’re being made? No. (Normally, on an ad shoot, a photographer is going to want the client to sign off on each picture before moving on to the next one. The photographer and I decided that his project required a more fluid approach. If he was going to get 18 final images in one shoot day, there would be no time to stop and get approval every 20 minutes. And since the approach was more one of discovery rather than replicating a comp, he didn’t want to lose momentum by stopping frequently.)

With all that in mind, I got to work on the first version of the estimate.

Fee. While the licensing was pretty extensive, there were limitations to consider. The print ad use was limited to sport publications and it was unlikely the agency would be using all 18 images in ads simultaneously. To determine the fee, we looked at the number of situations outlined in the shot list, rather than the actual number of shots. The images within a situation amounted to a hero shot and variety of detail shots.  Based on the number of situations (4), licensing, style and sophistication of the production, we decided to set the fee for the first situation at 9000.00 and each additional situation at 3000.00. We checked our pricing against a few other sources. BlinkBid’s bid consultant suggested a range of 5950.00-8500.00 per image per year, which is a great starting point. Corbis was in the same ballpark, 8500.00 per image per year and FotoQuote was slightly lower at about 5000.00-6500.00. What these pricing calculators can’t take into account are the sophistication of the production, similarities between the images or caliber of the client/product/agency.

Assistant. Since the shoot was going to be pretty low-tech, the photographer decided to just have one assistant and to have him look after the photo equipment as well as manage the digital files. The photographer and the client were comfortable reviewing images on the fly in order to keep moving quickly (mostly seeing them on the back of the camera with a few breaks during the day to see them on a laptop). Against my better judgement, I went along with the idea of one assistant. For the small additional cost, I think it’s worth having a second assistant on just about any shoot. And when working out of town, I’ll normally book a local second assistant who will know where to go when the photographer needs something in a pinch.

Equipment Rental. The photographer didn’t need to rent that much gear  for this low production, available light project. We budgeted for 3 rental days of a 5d mk II @ 200/day, a 24-70 @ 35.00/day, a 50 1.2 @ 35/day and a 7d body for backup.

Digital Capture Fee. For most editorial and corporate shoots, I charge a capture fee for each shoot day (which pays for the time to create and post a web gallery) plus either a file prep fee (when the processing is straight-forward) or a retouching fee (when it’s more elaborate). For most advertising projects, it makes sense to have a digital tech on hand to help the client view the pictures as they’re being made as well as organize, rename and run any galleries necessary. But we chose the run-and-gun approach for this shoot

Retouching hours. The treatment the photographer gives to his final images is somewhat unique and time consuming, so we billed accordingly.

Scouting and Travel Days. Since the locations (and the action at each location) were fixed, the scouting would be relatively brief. We decided it could be combined with the travel day. The photographer would need to figure out where he was going to stage his equipment and review all the areas on the shot list. This allowed me to bundle the scouting with the travel day. The photographer planned to fly in the day before the shoot, scout that afternoon, shoot the next day, and return home the following morning.

Airfare & Baggage. I estimated for airfare for the photographer and his assistant. Since they wouldn’t have to bring a lot of gear, we only had to account for 2 checked bags each way per person @ 25.00 each. The tickets were 337.00 per person and baggage fees would total 100.00. I rounded up a dollar and made it a point to remind the art buyer that this fee would increase the closer we got to the shoot, so making a decision sooner rather than later was most cost-effective.

Car Rental. We looked up rates for a two-day SUV rental. Enterprise had cars available for about 100.00/day. I also included the full insurance coverage at 20.00/day and 40.00 in gas to refill the tank.

Lodging. The photographer and assistant would each have their own room for two nights. I found rooms at a Residence Inn for 120.00 per room per night, including taxes.

Catering. We estimated catering for 8, including the photographer, his assistant and 6 others from the agency and  client. We typically estimate 35.00 per person for a light breakfast, normal lunch and snacks throughout the day.

Miles, Parking, Tolls, Meals, Misc. This item covers miles the photographer has to drive to the airport from his home/studio, any parking, tolls, meals that he pays for on the travel or shoot days (excluding catering), and any miscellaneous expenses that may pop up at the last minute.

Location, talent. We wanted to make sure that we clearly stated what the agency and client will be providing if the photographer wasn’t providing it. Every necessary component of a shoot should be addressed in the estimate.

Advance. We normally ask for 50% of the estimated costs so that the photographer can pay their vendors in a timely fashion and buy/rent what they need for the shoot. Some agencies have rules about paying out a certain percentage of the expenses and a certain percentage of the fee, which we are usually fine with as long as the photographer has enough to cover out-of-pocket expenses.

Here is the first estimate:

The art buyer ran it by her colleagues as well as the client and got back to me the next day. Not surprisingly, a budget had materialized. She told me that they would like to keep the estimate below 25k because it’s their policy that if an estimate exceeds that amount, they’re obligated to consider three vendors and run the estimate through a cost consultant. This is not the first time I’d heard about the “keep it under 25k rule.” So the give and take began.

The fastest way to cut costs is to reduce the licensing terms or number of images licensed. The client was very specific about the licensing they needed, so it seemed our only option was to limit the number of images. Even though we priced this based on the number of scenarios, we decided to trim the amount of shots down to 15 and prorate the fee on a per-image basis. Had we needed to reduce the number of images by more than three, we would have reevaluated the cost per image. This adjustment also reduced cost of the file preps and brought the bottom line down to 24,225.00.

Here is the second estimate:

The art buyer ran the second estimate by her colleagues and the client. Now they decided that they wanted 20 images from the shoot (two more than initially requested). So we bumped the fee up accordingly and resubmitted the estimate.

Here is the third and final estimate we sent to the agency, which the client approved. Apparently, the AB can skirt the cost consultants by issuing 2 POs if the estimate comes in just over 25k:

About a month after the shoot, the agency contacted the photographer and asked to license an additional image from the shoot to be used in a single spot on television as well as online for up to one year. We gave them a price of 3000.00 and they agreed.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing one of your projects, you can reach Jess at jess@wonderfulmachine.com

Talent Is Nothing Without Focus and Endurance

- - Blog News

In every interview Im asked whats the most important quality a novelist has to have. It’s pretty obvious: talent. Now matter how much enthusiasm and effort you put into writing, if you totally lack literary talent you can forget about being a novelist. This is more of a prerequisite than a necessary quality. If you don’t have any fuel, even the best car won’t run.

via The 99 Percent.

The Daily Edit – Tuesday
11.29.11

- - The Daily Edit

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Entertainment Weekly

Design Director: Amid Capeci
Deputy Design Director: Heather Haggerty
Photography Director: Lisa Berman
Deputy Photography Director: Sarah Czeladnicki
Deputy Photography Director, West Coast: Richard Maltz

Photographer: Sam Jones

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

Getty Cuts Pay for Editorial Contributors

- - Stock

Getty announced pay cuts for editorial contributors and when PDN asked them if that was because they needed to lower their prices (here):

Asked whether Getty has found itself unable to compete for low-priced business without asking for concessions from suppliers, agency spokesperson Jodi Einhorn said, “No….[W]e are developing new ways for customers to use more of our content and as a result, new ways to pay contributors must be created in these situations.”

And exactly how will contributors benefit?

Getty is “making changes and improvements around how we share and license our content, which will benefit our photographers,” by providing more exposure and more potential for sales of their images.

Potential sales and exposure… photographers love that.

I don’t want to beat a dead horse over here… there’s a long thread of comments over on the PDN Pulse blog, but last time I brought up the Getty contract changes photographers found the discussion useful.

There’s no doubt that Getty has found a sweet spot in sales with their subscription model, unfortunately that means contributors are seeing lots of images sold for $5. I often get asked why someone doesn’t step in and create an agency with a better cut for photographers. Truth is, the higher priced sales are very labor intensive and require insurance. Given the choice between selling a handful of images for a million dollars and a million photos for a dollar, stock agencies will take the latter, because it can be done by a computer at no cost and no hassle.

Marian Goodman: The Accidental Art Mogul

- - Blog News

Almost every big contemporary gallery is funded by the blue-chip old works they sell out of the back room, while Goodman almost never sells works that her artists haven’t made. “It’s all front room,” says Tate director Nicholas Serota. “It’s an achievement to build a gallery on those terms.” Where other major galleries seem to have a supermarket approach, with something to feed any billionaire’s habit, most Goodman artists conform to one vision. “There’s an ethos in the gallery that you don’t find in many others,” says Serota. Goodman spots good work by young artists who seem likely to matter—the Jeff Walls of this world—and then sticks by it.

via Marian Goodman:The Daily Beast.

This Week In Photography Books

- - Photography Books

We’re not always great with shades of gray, in America. Take Thanksgiving. Most, (but certainly not all) Americans are thrilled at the chance to get a few days off from work, gorge on over-stuffed Turkey and over-salted stuffing, watch a lot of football, and try not to get in a raging fight with their suddenly re-surfaced siblings. Rarely do we invoke the Pilgrims, and our ceremonial celebration of their feast with the Native people of the continent. More rarely, still, do we contemplate the fact that our cause for revelry, while important to us, coincides with the genocide of the formerly plentiful residents of what is now the United States.

Interestingly enough, we photographers worship a particular vision of America, one captured in celluloid by a Swiss guy 50+ years ago. We love the beatnik sensibility, the jaded diner waitresses, the honkey-tonk jukeboxes, the crosses and flags. So much, do we love “The Americans,” that it spawned an army of wandering shutterbugs, metaphorical Jews, investigating other places, bringing the critical eye of a foreigner to each exchange.

I don’t know about you, but I grew up during the Reagan 80’s, read lots of spy fiction about the Evil Empire, and then watched it Fall. The following decade, without a counter-balance to our consumptive power, we grew rich and cocky. We were destined to rule forever, with our democracy, our free markets, and our muscle cars. Made in Michigan.

Pontiac is a town in Michigan. It’s also the name of a GM car brand that was recently disbanded, the result of the manufacturer’s brush with implosion at the height of the Economic collapse a few years ago. The very same collapse, of course, that razed the dreams of a long-lived American Empire. And now, perhaps, our vaunted American Dream itself. From endless horizons to Chinese envy in ten short years. I suppose that’s how it works.

“Pontiac” is also the name of a perfect, tan, hard-cover book recently published by Mack in London, in conjunction with the GunGallery in Stockholm. Ah, the Swedes. Famous for their lack of sun, gloomy stoicism, and now for the sexual violence of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Serious stuff. Gerry Johannson, the photographer behind the project, plays the role of the stranger from distant shores, who seems to have washed up in Pontiac in April of 2010. The book opens with an austere page of statistics, illuminating the slow leak of air that has escaped the balloon. 7% Unemployment in 2000 vs. 31% today. 4,715 vacant housing units. It ends with the ominous phrase, “Demolition means progress, Cities of Promise, MSHDA.”

There is no essay here. No token statement by someone purported to be famous, of whom you haven’t heard. Just a series of small, square, black and white images, flanked below by a title that refers to the street on which they were taken. Bleak. Clean. Quiet. Truth be told, it starts a little slow. You think of Robert Adams, Henry Wessel, a bit of Freidlander in the compositional style, and of course the aforementioned Swiss Hipster, whom I don’t need to name. So slow, in fact, that I actually flipped to the back and worked my way from there. (It’s a strange habit that I have, mostly with magazines.)

Soon enough, the book seduced me like a Reno hooker sipping Vodka at the bar. (Just a simile. Never happened.) First, I was moved by the mood, the ugly beauty, the sweet scent of the decrepit. We are all suckers for an abandoned building, or in this case many. Then, I began to notice that Johansson often photographed the same intersection from two angles. East and West? North and South? Who knows, unless you live in Pontiac. He also included diptychs; in one case, double images of the same church. Further, then closer. As to the use of Black and White, the use of the square? Perfect.

I worked my way from back to front, and the barrage of empty streets, not subtle, took on the pacing of an old Blues song. Turn the pages, hear the words. I didn’t expect to see many people, though there are a few images, from a distance, of small humans towards the front. Just when I thought it was safe to judge the book as a lyrical, very well-made elegy to our collective despair, it started to get a bit weird. First, there was a photograph of a student center with a row of trees outside, but upon closer inspection, they’re not trees. I don’t know what they are. They look like fat, eyeless, hooded Klan members in washed out gray uniforms. Then I got to an image, titled “Joslyn Road,” that had a small sign in the lower right hand corner. I struggled to recognized the characters, which looked like hieroglyphs. As I stared, confused, slowly my eyes refocused, and I could read the cut-off words “Great Cros.” (Short for Great Lakes Crossing) I flipped away and back again, just to make sure I wasn’t crazy. Happened again. (I admit, it was pretty early in the morning.)

The next page, having switched again to front to back, was another photo, also titled “Joslyn Road.” In an overgrown field of weeds and Evergreen trees, looming in the background, we see a big white Orb, with a line of oval lights emanating from within. It looks, for all the world, like a spaceship sitting behind the trees. What is it? I have no idea. It’s so fantastic, I’m staring at it right now, eyes away from the keyboard. WTF? Inexplicable Sci-Fi in a meditation on the decline and Fall of the American Empire? Wow.

Mr. Johannson develops a rhythm to this book, and a symbol set of shadows, little houses, cars, bars, and lots of trees. It’s the trees that take back the abandoned neighborhoods, you know. The overgrowth of Nature that results from an out-flux of people. Sure, they might knock down some houses, and make a few new parks. Sounds nice. And maybe the United States will find it’s footing, and begin to make things again. I don’t know, and neither do you.
Bottom Line: Perfect

To purchase Pontiac visit Photo-Eye

The Daily Edit – Friday
11.25.11

- - Working

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W

Creative Director: Alex Gonzalez
Design Directors: Joseph Logan
Photography Director:
Caroline Wolff
Photo Editor: Jacqueline Bates

Photographer: Max Vadukul

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

The Daily Edit – Thursday
11.24.11

- - The Daily Edit

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Oprah

Creative Director: Adam Glassman
Design Directors: Priest+Grace
Photo Director:
Katherine Schad
Art Director: Jaspal Riyait
Deputy Photo Director: Christina Weber

Photographer: Fernando Milani

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

The Daily Edit Interview – Patagonia Catalog Winter 2011

- - The Daily Edit

Heidi Volpe interviews Patagonia photo editor Jenning Steger.

Up at dawn for a sunrise cliff session, Carston Oliver seizes the moment for some Wasatch air time. Alta backcountry, Utah. Jay Beyer

Heidi: What a bold move to put a spread photo by Oskar Enander in the catalog, was that a hard sell since the rider isn’t one of your ambassadors?
Jenning: No because the photo is so stellar it did not leave much room for discussion, it’s a fantasy photo, ambassador or not everyone wants to be him. I admire and respect the Chouinard’s for having the courage to let a commercial entity operate with a photojournalistic heart. It’s more about the spirit of the photo rather than the logo being seen. This is why I love my job.

Riding light. Yves Hüsler, Engelberg, Switzerland. Oskar Enander

 

How many people work on producing this catalog?
Lots, we are an ‘in house agency’ more or less, so we touch almost every aspect of the project minus cranking the wheel on the press and licking the stamps.

The main group consists of:

Catalog project coordinator
Merchandiser
Graphic designer
Photo Editor
Copy Editor
Product photo shoot- studio, stylist, photographer, clothes steamer
Creative Director final sign off
Production
Color Separator
Printer

How do you submit work for consideration? I can’t imagine you can get back to everyone who submits work.
We work primarily on ‘spec’ meaning a photographer submits images on the speculation that we might purchase them. We sometimes offer up-front assignments if the story involves: a Patagonia athlete/ambassador, an original idea, or has an environmental focus. We try our best to get back to everyone but it’s impossible. That being said one of my favorite things about this job is communicating with photographers. I pick up the phone and call to chat as often as I can, its an important part of being successful at this job, communication is key so we can meet our photo needs. The use of social media has helped, customers can post photos to our Facebook page. The rest of our pro photographer’s submit via FTP. We strive to be a paperless dept abd are always trying to improve workflow to be more time efficient, so we have more time to edit.

How much of this catalog was spec?
90% of the Patagonia Winter catalog was built on ‘spec’ photo, the parting shot was on a company partnership trip to Alaska and we had some staff photographers around the same day the photo of Forest on page 17 was shot.

You can see some video of that day here:

Patagonia ambassadors Ryland Bell and Josh Dirksen earn their turns with the Deeper crew. Mare’s Tail, Fairweather Mountains, Alaska. Greg von Doersten

When helicopters and high production costs come into play, that shows a level of drive on the photographers part since you don’t cover that cost and in essence these are personal projects. Are those photographers hard to find?
I think since we don’t operate under a typical commercial photo structure most of our photographers have some personal interest vested in their images, it goes hand in hand with working on spec. You would not work on spec unless you loved what you do, because there is some risk. For Patagonia, finding photographer’s is never hard, because we treat our talent really well, but I guess it would be a lot easier to find a commercial photographer where all elements are mostly controlled. I always encourage photographer to embrace personal projects even if they take years to accomplish. To fund the big expeditions a photographer might have a variety sponsors all chipping in to pull the trip off financially, this can complicate things, but is necessary in some instances to join forces for the greater good.

How much direction do you give the photographers, if any?
We rarely set up shoots, of course this varies per project and purpose of shoot and image needs. If we do offer an up-front photo contract we get a general who, what, where, where, why from the photographer, and then supply a basic shot list, art direction and product. From there we let the photographer run with it and embrace their creative eye.

Holly Walker leaves her signature on Shuksan Arm – one year after a major stroke. Mount Baker, Washington. Re Wikstrom

We had a good snow season this year, does that makes your image pool richer?
Yes, especially for ‘backyard photos’ which are always a pleasure to see. It was a fantastic season to be a photo editor in North America on 63 page color winter action sport catalog. I had a blast with all the eye-candy and loved to see the high snowfall combined with a late season which yielded insane photos. Also the chica’s stepped it up this last snow season, one of my favorite photos in the catalog is on page 44 of Holly.

How much post do you have to do on these images?  Of course Photoshop is a no-no as your visual approach is more photojournalistic.
We do very little photo manipulation, every once in a while we take a logo out to keep us legal if we were unable to clear permission (this is how we differ commercial vs. editorial, logo permission, model releases etc are mandatory. We had to try to get Tropicana logo permission last week, the big corp companies are different than the outdoor industry, its hard and time consuming). In the 5 years I have worked here I have removed 1 snowflake coming out of a rider’s nose and 1 rock at edge of the frame for type legibility so very little to no photo manipulation. What you see is what the photographers saw and shot. Each frame is a piece of original art and I am not the artist so I have no right to alter. We are kind of old-school like that, we like well composed images that are captured in camera vs. in computer (post).

We do about 2-3 rounds of color with our separator fine-tuning how image will print on our recycled paper, next to or in-line with what color product etc.

Seth Lightcap waits out a storm in the Fairweather Range. Alaska. Tero Repo

Who are your new riders this year for the ski/snowboard team?
In addition to our fantastic team already in place we welcomed, Forrest Shearer, Josh Dirksen, Carston Oliver, Aidan Sheahan and Ryland Bell. Check out our entire ambassador roster here:

Jay Beyer’s work is heavily featured in this issue, is that a new find for you?
Jay Beyer has been contributing to Patagonia for the last four years, but in the last two years we have been publishing him a bit more regularly. It’s been fun to watch him grow as a photographer, he is a pleasure to work with and gets the Patagonia quest for authenticity.

Do your new athletes also bring in new photographer’s since many of these images are authentic? Meaning it’s a good powder day with your friends, and you capture it.
Yes and no, it goes both ways. For sure ambassadors bring new to Patagonia photographer’s to the photo dept as well we sometimes try to connect the dots between some of our core snow photographer’s to the ambassador’s depending on location, riding style, etc.  I also do my homework and am always looking at photographer names of shots I adore in the top editorial mags. Group dynamics and safety are very important in any trip so I can make photographer suggestions to an athlete but it has to happen naturally and there has to be a trust relationship. Some athletes come with their own set of photographers and we honor that relationship and look forward to collaborating with new talent.

Dressed for the occasion. Patagonia skiing ambassador Lorenzo Worster genuflects into the Incredible Hulk Couloir. Bridgeport, California. Christian Pondella

I’ve worked with Christian Pondella over the years, he is such a solid photographer and athlete. What do you enjoy about working with him?
The things that stands out the most for me is he is a true ski mountaineer photographer. It’s one of the few sports where the cameraman has to have the same skill set as athletes/rider to get the shot.

The photographer has the burden of humping in the camera on his back or skiing with a brick on his chest. In order to correctly shoot they have to essentially ski the same line safely and quickly, they must always be two steps ahead. He isn’t afraid of a little bad weather and submits comprehensive XMP data which makes a big difference. Our photo dept receives over 60,000 unsolicited images a year, (less than 1% of those are published approx).

Four feet of blower equals hero snow for Carston Oliver. Mount Baker, Washington. Jay Beyer

The shot of Carston on Mt.Baker is pretty sick, how did Jay get that image?
I enjoyed seeing Jay’s Mt.Baker photos as we see a lot less Cascades ski imagery than we do of AK or Utah so it’s refreshing.  Grant Gunderson has been up there for years producing exceptional work. Grant is somewhat responsible for putting Baker on the world ski map through his photos. Mt. Baker holds the record for the largest single-season snowfall in the world (1999, proximity to the ocean and prevailing west winds). I also like Baker partly because it’s the anti-resort, I am much more comfortable publishing an in-bounds photo of Mt. Baker than a shot off KT-22 one of the best chairlifts for terrain access in North America. Something about the Baker crew seems so tough, raw and real. We like gritty photos here at Patagonia.

I remember one discussion I had with Jay regarding winter photos. Almost every photo shoot he went on he was by himself, meaning not joined up with a film crew to shoot for the day. It’s good for the athlete when there is a film crew and still photographer but not necessarily good for the photographer. Last year Jay primarily shot by himself, meaning no film crew, just an athlete or two. It’s a bit of a risk on the photographers side but I admire him for having the confidence to skip out on the larger production. For Jay in my eyes, it was more about the skiing than the shots and it worked, he got the sweet shots cause his head and heart had the spirit of skiing. I appreciate photographer’s who are not afraid to shoot in bad weather, life isn’t always bluebird, a sense of atmosphere is good.

Here is what Carston had to say about that shot:
That photo is actually kind of an interesting one, because it is in a slack-country zone at Mt Baker that gets skied all the time, but I don’t think that particular little flute has been shot or skied before. 
It’s on the wall of a popular chute, but is located right at the end of a mandatory straight-line, so nobody skiing the chute ever notices it because they’re going too fast to focus on anything other than what is immediately in front of them. Also when approached from above, it’s pretty much a cliff that either gets aired, or passed by to get to a pretty rowdy pillow line. 

This shot was taken on the first day of our trip to Baker last winter, and I was showing Jay around because he had never skied there before. The only reason we found it was because I sent Jay down the chute on our first run while I went to ski the pillows. He ended up side-slipping down it instead of just pointing it like everyone else, and looked up to see this perfect mini-spine/flute. He then shouted to me to ski it, guided me into it from below, and shot it from a spot tucked up against the wall of the chute. 
It’s pretty cool how a new set of eyes can find a new feature in a zone that get’s skied so often, particularly when almost everybody through there ski’s past within a few feet of the thing.

Check out their new iPad Snow app for more images, avail for download in iTunes.

Worst Ever

- - Working

What do Richard Avedon Alfred Eisenstaed, George Silk and Ansel Adams have in common? They all shot cringe worthy covers for Life Magazine. Never underestimate the ability of great photographers to produce some real stinkers. The key is not letting anyone see them…

See more here: Life’s 20 Worst Covers

Smiling Is Superficial

- - Blog News

The truth is no portrait of substance has people smiling. Look at the history of painting, Rembrandt, Titian, Goya, Velasquez, Sargent, Vermeer, DaVinci, etc., the subjects gaze to the viewer is neutral at best, neither inviting nor forbidding. It is there for the viewer to see and feel. Smiling is like much of American popular culture, superficial and misleading. It is part of our vernacular, but it should be expunged in photographs.

Rodney Smith

The End Starts Here via, wizwow

This Week In Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

Just curious, but am I predictable in my unpredictability? If so, some of you must have seen this week’s column coming. Last Friday, we showcased some low-pro, under-the-radar type books you probably haven’t heard of. So of course, today, I’m busting out the big guns. Today, you get a sneak peak at three new photobooks by guys who are all over the place right now. A little fashion, a little journalism, and a bit of art to ease you into the Thanksgiving vortex. Will next week’s books be all about turkey slaughter and obesity? Stay tuned.

Speaking of Mr. Richardson, I suspect that some of you probably know him personally, this being a tight-knit industry and all. I’ve never met the man, but am quite familiar with his work. Last Friday, I showed his blog to my students, and the lead feature was a video of Terry making out with Chloë Sevigny, who was dressed, improbably, as Terry Richardson. (Just curious, but would you make out with Chloë Sevigny if she was dressed as Terry Richardson?) If you’ve ever stopped to ask yourself how anyone would end up like that, then you need to check out “Mom & Dad,” a new double-book production just released by Mörel Books in London. Two, minimalist black soft-covered books come together in a simple black slip cover. Mom, and Dad. Each is a raw, emotion-laden little ride through Terry Richardson’s past, through a documentation of each of his parents. Who, not surprisingly, seem like they’re bat-shit crazy. For all of the gloss of his editorial work, I think these volumes are intimate, and the photographs are well made. I can’t say it’s disturbing, even when his mother flips the bird to the camera, or shows off her octogenarian boobs. Because you kind of expect that from him. It’s tough to continue to shock, when the bar has already been set so high. The project is an edition of 1000, so grab one now, if you’re into this sort of a thing.
Bottom Line: Surprisingly tender, unsurprisingly crazy

To purchase Mom & Dad visit Photo-Eye

 

 

Our next book, “Iraq/ Perspectives,” by Benjamin Lowy, comes to us from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke, by way of William Eggleston. Mr. Lowy, who once offered me the chance to touch his shrapnel, (I assumed, incorrectly, that he was joking), received this book as a prize for winning the 2011 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. Mr. Eggleston was the judge, which gives the volume a high-art imprimatur. The smooth, black, hard cover consists of two separate projects shot in Iraq, where Mr. Lowy spent years documenting the war for various news outlets. The first is a set of pictures shot through the bullet proof window of an armored Humvee, and is intentional in it’s depiction of Iraqi street life at a remove. At first, I was put off by the lack of viscerality, of any real emotional connection to the subject matter. But then I realized that it was a metaphor for the way Americans actually experienced the war, which ate up so much of our hard earned cash, and left a trail of blood and detached limbs across that desert country, so many miles from here. Most of us probably couldn’t tell the difference between Basra and Tikrit with a gun to our heads, so the cool detachment of the photographs seems appropriate, upon proper reflection. The second set of images were shot through Military-grade night vision goggles, so they too present a green, altered perspective. One photo of some bound, gagged presumed prisoners of war will likely stay with me for a while.
Bottom Line: New-style journalism for the 21st C

To purchase Iraq/ Perspectives visit Photo-Eye

 

 

Finally, we come to “Interlacing,” a canvas-wrapped soft cover book released a few months ago by the Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, and Steidl. It was published in conjunction with a major retrospective of Ai Weiwei’s career photographic output. By now, I’m guessing you don’t need me to tell you about Ai Weiwei, as his nasty detention at the hands of the Chinese Government has made him the most famous artist in the world. (And somewhere in London, Damien Hirst sheds a diamond-studded tear.) This particular book was sent to me in response to the article I wrote on Ai Weiwei’s behalf earlier this year, but it’s also available at photo-eye. As such, I thought it was appropriate to review it. Let me cut to the chase, for once, and just suggest that you buy this book. The breath of work to be found is astonishing, from early photos of the artist and his Chinese hipster buddies running around NYC in the 80’s, to the famed middle-finger images that include a Gaudi cathedral in Barcelona, the Duomo in Florence, and a sheep meadow in Xinjiang. It presents documentation of the rise of some now ubiquitous contemporary Chinese architecture, a set of cell phone images shot in 2009, and a series of individual portraits of the Chinese citizens that Ai Weiwei brought to Kassel Germany for the Documenta 12 festival in 2007. (That was his project: transporting 1001 Chinese citizens to visit the show as a cultural exchange.) There are probably 20 other sets of images here, beyond what I’ve already mentioned. It’s dense with prose as well, including reprinted Tweets. I may be biased, but this book makes a compelling case for why Ai Weiwei might be the best artist in the world right now.
Bottom Line: You should buy this book

To purchase Interlacing visit Photo-Eye

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Ye Fakers

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Someday there may be invented a machine that needs but to be wound up an sent roaming o’er hill and dale, through fields and meadows, by babbling brooks and shady woods–in short, a machine that will discriminatingly select its subject and by means of a skillful arrangement of springs and screws, compose its motif, expose the plate, develop, print, and even mount and frame the result of its excursion, so that there will remain nothing for us to do but to send it to the Royal Photographic Society’s exhibition and gratefully to receive the “Royal Medal.”

Edward Steichen, Camera Work, No.1, January 1903, p.48-

via Ben Rains. thx, Jeff Weddell.