This Week In Photography Books

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

If, like me, you have a kid, you’re likely to have re-discovered your adoration for Dr. Seuss. That man, crazy as he must have been, could most definitely spin a yarn. And I just love the way his stories and sentences always seem to find a balance. (On the fifteenth of May, in the Jungle of Nool, in the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool…) Not too messy, not too clean, not to cutesy, not to tough. Just right. So with that in mind, I thought I’d follow up last week’s selection of big, cloth-bound, heavy monographs with a couple of small, taut, poetic little books. (And of course, they’re by female photographers to balance out all the previous guys. As promised.)

Just in time for Halloween, “Dondoro,” is a soft cover, perfect bound, slim little booklet by Estelle Hanania, published by Kaugummi Books. It’s a creepy, trippy set of images of Japanese masks, dolls and dancers that has the feel of a ancient funeral procession. A head stone image and the general melancholic tone hint that the color photos metaphorically depict lament and sorrow. As the French-only text offers up “En mémoire d’Hoichi Okamato 1947-2010,” I feel pretty comfortable with that guess. I’m not a scary movie guy, to be frank, and when I saw that Japanese horror flick with Sarah Michelle Gellar a few years ago, I almost crapped my pants. But this book is cool, and I’ve found myself opening it and closing it a lot since I picked it up from photo-eye. It must be the time of year, because everyone likes getting the heebie-geebies in late October, but this is a book that I think will stand the test of time.
Bottom Line: Disturbing, but in a good way.

Visit Photo-Eye to purchase Dondoro

 

“Hurricane Story,” offered by Broken Levee Books, (via Chin Music Press,) is a colorful little hard cover by Jennifer Shaw. I confess that I really haven’t seen anything like this, and neither have you. Ms. Shaw, a New Orleans resident, was one week from giving birth when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. She tells the story of her and her husbands’ evacuation and subsequent displacement, which I admit is a tale we’ve heard before. And of course, there have been a hundred natural disasters since, each of which pushes Katrina a bit further into the background. In this book, however, the story is re-created using toy props, shot dreamily and lusciously with a Holga. Each page uses a single sentence to illuminate the narrative, and the technique enables the viewer to read the story both in words and pictures simultaneously. It’s lovely, witty, poignant and original. Definitely a book you want to have in your collection.
Bottom Line: Just right

Visit Photo-Eye to purchase Hurricane Story

 

Full Disclosure: Books and scans were provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase. Please support Photo-Eye if you find this feature useful.

Get Your Portfolio On

- - Portfolio

The proliferation and acceptance of iPads as photographer portfolios is a great thing. Not only is it inexpensive compared to printed books, you can include motion and depth on subjects that your client may be interested in. That being said, the printed book is still a source of familiarity for those in the hiring position and a great way to start a meeting off on the right foot. I was on a panel recently where photo editors said “if you can’t make nice prints don’t bother with a printed book” and I have to agree that while the selection and sequencing of images are super important the quality of the prints can make or break the whole presentation.

Photographer Zack Arias describes the process of updating and printing a new portfolio and it’s a good read for anyone who hasn’t done one yet:

A printed book is a thing to take pride in. There’s something tangible about it that holding an iPad doesn’t compare to. Note that I’m a big believer in electronic forms of showing your work. I walk into every meeting with a print book AND an iPad. The book is the best representation I have of the work I do. The iPad holds expanded galleries of work that support the book and hold other galleries of work that don’t find their way into the main book. Things like personal projects, travel photography, video, etc. Eventually I want to have a series of print books that show a range of the work I do.

Read the rest here.

A Conversation with CPC 2011 Winner Yaakov Israel

- - Blog News

Yaakov Israel’s The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey, complex, multi-faceted project, featuring portraits and landscapes, was my personal pick as a winner of this year’s Conscientious Portfolio Competition. For me, the project captures seemingly disjointed moments in time, offering many hints and as many red herrings. The viewer is invited to come back and re-look at these photographs, to find a slightly different world each time. New details reveal themselves, while old details change their meaning ever so slightly. Instead of pointing at something and saying “This is the way it is” the photographs ask their viewers to discover what is to be found and to ultimately come to their own conclusions.

via Conscientious.

Wanted: Camera Operators

- - The Future

You can trace the decline of the Camera Operator job back to the days when being a photographer meant you were actually a chemist. Steady technological advances in film, lenses, cameras and software have turned operating a camera into something a monkey can do. You don’t have to look any further than Craigslist to see postings for camera operators listed at $0.25 per object and $10/hr, to realize operating cameras is not a good way to make a living. I don’t think I’m stating anything new here, just working my way to several points I want to make in response to this email I received:

As a benchmark, I am interested in PDN’s 30 under 30, but I can’t help feeling, that it’s about being connected to the right channels, presenting to the right audience and in the right manner. I wrestle with the notion of, “It’s who you know, not what you can do.” And a lot of times, it all feels like a networking popularity contest, or how one presents/markets his or herself.

How does a photographer best position his or her work to a photo editor to be considered at that level? What draws their intrigue? Is it a look, a ton of skill, getting published in the places, being unique in a world when everyone is trying to be unique and therefore mimics one another?

Photography as a business is not about operating cameras. It’s about operating a business and applying the rules that govern successful businesses: advertising, marketing, networking, professionalism, instilling confidence, igniting word of mouth, leadership, standing out, evolving, defining your offering, building a team of talented people… etc. While it may be horrific to see jobs that once paid well go for McDonalds wages, those people are only looking for someone to operate a camera.

The other point I want to make, is that hitching your wagon to something like the PDN 30 is not a good idea. Professional photographers have multiple points of contact with their clients before getting hired. If the first time anyone sees your work or has heard of you is in the PDN 30 you will disappointed by the lack of response. As a benchmark your appearance in the PDN 30 should be accompanied by your 3rd year of direct marketing, a spread in a great magazine, successful portfolio meetings and the completion of an intense personal project.

The job of camera operator has been in decline for many decades, don’t follow it into the ground.

My Clients Ask Me For A Solution

- - Blog News

More and more I get assignments with very open ended parameters. My clients are very often asking me to come up with the solution. This is challenging as there are sometimes no limits. I have to ask a lot of questions to get to what’s important to them. I believe I’m most creative with some parameters, so I decide on a mini story that all my ideas must fall into. The story usually aligns with something in my gut that I want to try visually.

— Saverio Truglia

via » this is the what.

The Daily Edit – Tuesday
10.18.11

- - The Daily Edit

( click images to make bigger )

Esquire

Design Director: David Curcurito

Art Director: Stravinski Pierre

Photo Director: Michael Norseng

Photo Editor: Alison Unterreiner

Photographer: Brock Davis

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

Heidi: How long did the photoshop work take for that image?
Brock: Not long, I only use photoshop to clean up an image and color correct. I prefer to work organically when it comes to creating visual props and pieces. No photoshop was done on the stallion. My friend Amy made the prop, we decided it would be best to use a model horse from a toy store and cut it in half. The wig was wrapped and styled around the torso of the horse.

What was the inspiration for that, a hood ornament? How much word play goes on in your mind when thinking up solutions? Do you have you a process you go through?
Hair grooming was a big focus of the article, I knew that I wanted to show a man with a bold hairstyle.

The first thing that came to mind was a pompadour which is meant to be bold and dramatic, but I wanted to take it a step further so I added the animal shape. I was thinking about animals in dramatic poses and I remembered the Lone Ranger’s horse Silver. The shape of a stallion rearing up seemed to fit the shape of a pompadour, so I decided to go with it.

Did you work with a hairstylist?
No, my friend Amy and I did the styling ourselves. Esquire had requested that the model be a red head, so I asked my friend Gabe to model. Amy found a wig that matched his coloring and we assembled the prop.

For your Rapala video: how did you get the fish to drive?
The fish was a prop made by a place in Toronto. It was made to look and move realistically. The gills and mouth were wired electronically to open and move as they would in the water. I wanted the framing to show the fish behind the wheel, but I didn’t want to show how the fish was holding onto the wheel, or sitting in the seat of the car. I didn’t think those details were necessary and could possibly be distracting. The main thing was to show the fish just being a fish, with a moving wheel in front of him. This image edited around the car actually driving down the road would work well make it seem like the fish is tearing down the road. The car was placed on a trailer, and pulled down the road. The trailer is a rig designed to hold a vehicle so that it can be filmed on the outside and around the vehicle easily, while still maintaining the motion of driving down the road. At the end of the spot, we threw a fake rubber fish out of the car to make it look like the fish dives out of the door. The final shot is a real fish swimming off in the lake.

 

What can you tell me about the development of the Harley Davidson work?
The Harley ‘Build Yours’ campaign was for the HD Parts and Accessories division. P&A is all about giving riders the chance to customize their bikes. The idea came about when I was thinking how interesting it would be to drop a motorcycle from a great height and when it hits the ground it explodes into hundreds of parts and the parts form the shape of the person who customized the bike. That was the feel were going for. We worked with a company in London called First Base imaging. They flew out to Minneapolis for the shoot. We dismantled 3 bikes all the way down to the last bolt. Each piece was photographed. It was a meticulous and tedious production. I wanted all of the pieces to be in proportion to each other when arranged on the floor. Each ad went through about 30 versions before getting to the final image. We photographed models and in photoshop placed all the appropriate pieces to create the image. It was a long project but in the end I think it turned out successful.

Film Fading to Black

- - Blog News

While the debate has raged over whether or not film is dead, ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have quietly ceased production of film cameras within the last year to focus exclusively on design and manufacture of digital cameras. That’s right: someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.

via Creative COW.

Craig Cutler’s CC52 Project: 1 shoot a week for a year

- - Photographers

Heidi: With the CC52 Project did you start out with a grocery list of photography fundamentals that you wanted to explore in unique and challenging ways? For instance: The foil triptychs seem to be a pure light and shape study.
Craig: I’ve always worked on my own, the difference now is the seven day deadline to complete a project and move to a new idea within the next seven days. Whether I like it or not, it’s mood driven.

What has been the most surprising to you about this project and what have you learned about yourself as a photographer?
I tried not to fall into a routine and allow myself to have an open mind and find inspiration from different things. The most surprising aspect has been that I thought it was going to be easier. We are in week 30 and it’s a bit harder, but the images are getting better. Plus I enjoy the freedom. When shooting editorial, the amount of freedom or lack of, can be suffocating. By time the image flows through all the channels, it can get watered down. With this project I don’t answer to anyone, I’m doing it for myself, like or it not.

I enjoyed the distillation of the everyday experiences of a melting popsicle and a burning marshmallow. How challenging was that to achieve, and make it so simple and artful?
This is where the industry is going and we need things with movement. People have a hard time taking something abstract and making something of it. How do you take a marshmallow and make it interesting?  Make things move and they become something more interesting. It also helps to have Victoria Granoff as your food stylist.

Have you always sketched out you ideas first?
When I sketch I mentally go through the photo shoot in my head. It’s here I decide to move forward or shut it down.

For CC12:Duct Tape: How long did each image take, and did you apply one piece at a time and then take a shot? How many rolls did you use, and whose car is that?
20 cases of duct tape. I had interns and lots of people to help. I spent 6 hours doing a very elaborate lighting for the car. In the very end, it was too fussy, the idea didn’t need lighting. I pulled it all off and ended up shooting it with one direct light. Two days of applying tape, 15 minutes to light it. The car took one full day. And it’s my car. No one would rent me a car like that allow it to be covered in duct tape.

In CC1:Ice Cubes Are those real ice cubes? How can you achieve that with no melt if they are?
Absolutely all of them are real ice cubes. Shooting quickly with 4×5,  I simply made a pencil mark on the set and then built the columns. I had my assistant bring out 3 industrial sized racks of cubes, we used 30-40 cubes per take and had about 30 seconds for each take. Can’t even tell you how many times it collapsed. Unless its motion everything is shot on film, and at the end of this project I am having a opening with the prints.

Do you think there will be some sense of gravity for your last segment?
I don’t know that’s a great question, it’s so far down the road!

Do you know what that last piece will be yet,  or are you inspired weekly and spontaneously?
Spontaneity is the number one important thing to me.

Tell me about this latest piece: The Vase.
Steve Meierdin, was my first assistant/ manager full time, now he freelances for me on special projects. It’s one of my favorites right now. I like it because its so simple. The  base of the idea is just a white vase and white box, everything else happens around it. High tech meets low tech here, The editing had the biggest impact on that project. We adjusted the speed of the “cycles” for the editing and the audio was a stock waterfall that we manipulated. I wanted it to be unrecognizable, but paced with the video so it’s in your head but you are not quite able to place it.

I have nothing but respect for people who are thick skinned enough to not let that type of stuff get to them

- - Blog News

I know that these type of things need to be covered and it’s important for journalists to be there to tell these stories, but I just don’t know if I have the type of stomach, or courage, or brass (or whatever you want to call it) to make pictures of people when they’re going through such rough times.

via Internship Perspective: Ryan Young | The Visual Student.

This Week In Photography Books

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

So before anyone points it out, I’d like to note that this column has thusfar been a bit male-centric. My apologies. Today’s offering is no exception: all dudes. Fortunately, I’ve run through my addictive photo-book stash, and need to hit photo-eye for a re-up. I’ll make sure to find a better gender balance going forward. The collection of books to be reviewed today have a few things in common. All are beautifully produced, cloth-bound hardcovers, and ought to satisfy last week’s commenters who yearn for something less derivative. Lest I be accused of pandering, however, I’ve had these books waiting in the queue for a month or so.

“Ernst Haas: Color Correction” is a gray cloth-wrapped book from Steidl, with bright red text accents jumping off the cover. Mr. Haas, for those of you who are unaware, was a highly influential commercial and editorial photographer (and Magnum member) who holds the distinction of having the first show of color photographs at MOMA. According to the book, he fell out of favor after John Szarkowski took over the MOMA photo department, and his fine art images, or personal work, have not been given proper appreciation until now. So I’d suppose that might be enough of a reason for some of you to grab a copy, given that many of these images have never been seen before. (They went through something like 10,000 slides to make the edit.) But for most of you, it comes down to the pictures, not the backstory. This volume is teeming with extraordinary color images that collectively create a serene, quiet tone, despite the loud and audacious palette. Abstraction plays a large role, but we get to see people, places, and things, all mashed up with reflections and visual obstructions. Personally, I fell in love with a photo of a man holding a pomelo behind his back in on a NYC street, and a poignant little image of an abandoned necklace, nestled on the ground among some dead leaves.
Bottom Line: A Classic Career, Re-imagined

Visit Photo-Eye to purchase Ernst Haas: Color Correction.

 

 

“Joel Sternfeld: First Pictures” makes a great complement to the Haas book. This one is also offered by Stiedl, in white, with a classic 70’s Americana image affixed to the cover. If you think that the title and that photo give you a sense of what’s in store within, you’re right. They do. This collection of photographs was made between 1971-1980, and it shows. The last words in the book’s essay are “This book is a time capsule,” and I didn’t need them to tell me that. It’s obvious. But wow, could this guy find the symbolic moments of that decade that we all love to love. (Yes, that was a Donna Summer reference. Deal with it.) This is a large book with lots of photographs, and like the Haas book, many of which you’ve never seen before. They have a wit, pathos, and dexterity with symbolism that are as enjoyable as the cultural references. A yellow wheelchair chained to a sign post follows an image of a old lady counting her dollars at the counter of a NYC diner, the empty soup-cracker-wrapper catching the light from the flash just so. Then he drops an image of a bunch of cigars and some horned-rimmed black glasses in the pocket of a 70’s polka-dotted polyester shirt. Boom. What a tripych. He closes the narrative with a series of images shot in malls around New Jersey in 1980, (yes, I was looking for anyone I knew) that perfectly anticipates our contemporary fascination with Jersey Shore, while also capturing the spirit of 80’s teased hair and un-ironic mustaches. This book is a keeper, for sure, and I’m sorry I have to return it.
Bottom Line: Unapologetically Awesome

Visit Photo-Eye to purchase Joel Sternfeld: First Pictures

 

I thought I’d finish up with another set of color images that attempts to take a fresh look at the world. We jump a few decades to the present for “Suburbia Mexicana,” a gray cloth-bound hard cover that was published jointly by photolucida and Daylight books.  I’m a big fan of Alejandro Cartagena’s work, and I’m probably at the back of a long line, as he’s been honored by just about everyone for this project. Mr. Cartagena set about to take a closer look at the cookie-cutter, mini-muffin style concrete micro-homes that have sprouted up around the Mexican industrial city of Monterrey, where he is based. (Though the phenomenon exists around Mexico.) The images can be read ironically, like, look at those ridiculous little monsters debasing the environment at the base of some desert Mountain-scape, or earnestly, like, look at what happens when a Third world country begins to develop a middle-class, and people can finally afford a decent place for their families with a TV and indoor plumbing. Regardless, “Suburbia Mexicana” captures the essence of a global movement that has seen the American middle class struggle while hungry, desperate people around the world claw towards a better way of life. Those of you curious to see what’s going on in our neighbor to the South, (aside from the gruesome drug war and absurd permanent spring-break tourist culture) will get a unique vision of an issue super-relevant to our times.
Bottom line: Insightful

Visit Photo-Eye to purchase Suburbia Mexicana

Full Disclosure: Books and scans were provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase. Please support Photo-Eye if you find this feature useful.

Did that experience prove you don’t have to be in New York to have a magazine career?

- - Blog News

I didn’t know if you could have a successful magazine career outside of New York. It was an experiment. It helps to be here. There’s an awful lot of talent here. But one of the things it taught me is that there’s talent all over. We found tremendous photographers all over the South.

via Adweek Q&A With Time Inc.’s Lifestyle Division Editor Sid Evans | Adweek.

Stephanie Rausser’s Kiki & Coco Project

- - Photographers, Promos

Stephanie Rausser’s personal project Kiki & Coco, is an awesome example of how you can use the web and social media to see if there’s interest in something you’ve created then use that demand to evolve the project into other mediums. Also, there’s simply no better way to make a connection to clients than with a personal project, it speaks volumes about your passion for photography.

Rob: Tell me how the project started?
Stephanie: In November 2007 one of my closest friends, Debra McClinton, took her life. Our daughters were the same age and we had become good friends after she assisted me for many years.

I had realized things were bad for her, and I remember after a call in the summer of 2007, thinking something needed to be done – that things had turned for the worse. Three months later it was too late and to this day I have guilt and anguish over wishing I had done more. When we worked together we worked well together and often went on trips, taking turns photographing our daughters and after her death I have had this recurring dream where she moved in with us and we become business partners and photographed every job together.

At the time, I was wrapped up with my business and life and I did not intervene. What intervening would have looked like is hard to say but my choice not to has impacted me. Sometimes things happen in your life and they are an invitation to change things. Deb’s death stopped me in my tracks and it made me start to think differently. Like no other deaths I had experienced, it made me realize how fragile and delicate life is and how important it is to take care of yourself, those that you love, and to slow down. The Kiki and Coco Project came about because it was a way to not only deal with the grief and sadness that followed Deb’s death but also it was a way for me to do something out of the ordinary, something that allowed me to connect in a more meaningful and creative way.
This is how the trip to Paris with my daughter Kiki, and her doll, Coco, came about.

So, when you got back you made a video of the images from the trip (here). What was the response to the video?
The response was great. The French music we found to go with it was adorable and it seemed the images moved people. The video (slide show) was reposted on many blogs. I think too it was the final reason my agent Sarah said yes to working together. We had met many times prior but when I got back from Paris and finished this project, I sent her the video and we met one more time and that is when we started working together. I could tell she really resonated with the Kiki and Coco slide show. After the slide show was created, we designed the calendar, printed 3000, and sent them out to art buyers, art directors, family and friends.

 

What was the response to the calendar?
The response to the calendar was big and it was predominantly a female response. To this day, four years later, I still get emails from women wanting to know where they can buy the doll.

Moms especially loved the calendar. I must have gotten an email a week for months from moms asking where they could purchase the doll. They would email me and mention that their daughter would love the doll appearing in the photographs but after getting quite a few of these emails I started to wonder if it was really the mom who wanted the doll.
There is now an official Coco inspired doll and is still made and available at http://shop.jessbrowndesign.com/product/coco-inspired-rag-doll
There are also several knockoffs of the doll with the same name.

Another great response to the calendar was the ad jobs that came about. The conference calls with the art directors would start something like this: “I have your calendar and what you shot for it is in the same vein as the project we are doing….” I definitely got several ad jobs as a result of the Kiki and Coco calendar.

How did it evolve from there?
I did two more calendars after “Kiki and Coco in Paris.” One was with Kiki again in Italy (same idea: 20 days away, afternoon shoot every day, a story to tell with the preface to the start of every day being: how do I make my next photo even better and at the same time keep to the parameters of the story I have already created). I sweetened the deal for Kiki and swapped out the doll for ice cream cones, lollipops & popsicles and it was called “Sweet Italia.” Originally I had thought of taking the Coco doll to Italy but as time progressed I realized my daughter was not so interested in being photographed as I had hoped she’d be. I realized it was necessary to raise the ante; to her, ice cream and lollipops were more intriguing as she had a wicked sweet tooth. She gave me her all but after the Italy calendar project she begged me to find another model.

Also, although “Sweet Italia” was beautiful it did not have the same aura, draw, and sentimentality that “Kiki and Coco in Paris” had. I did my last calendar “I left my heart in…” (2011) in San Francisco with my niece, Zeli. Then, in the Spring of 2011, Cameron + Company, a boutique book publisher in Petaluma, CA contacted me to see if we could turn “Kiki and Coco in Paris” into a children’s book. I sent Cameron and Company the roughly 5000 images from what I shot over 20 days in Paris and from those photos they came up with a story that would appeal to children. They pulled their favorites (which I asked to re-edit because they originally wanted the photo to be from the perspective of the doll but the project was shot from the perspective of the girl and the strongest images were about the girl, not the doll) They then wrote a twist to the story that I took photos for and now we have the book, Kiki and Coco in Paris.

How do you see projects like these fitting into the job of professional photographer?
It is so important for a professional photographer to be able to tell a story that engages his or her audience, especially in the competitive and saturated climate today, where images and videos are at every turn.

When you take a big project like what I did in my three calendars, where I photographed each afternoon for 20 days, it is a creative process that is vital to honing your artistic skills. When you are in the midst of a project like this, you are constantly thinking, what tells the story the best? What can I do now that is even more unexpected or unusual within the set parameters – which in this situation with Kiki and Coco was a seven-year-old girl and her obsession with a cute little doll in the beautiful city of Paris. Where do we go next to help tell the story? What could be brought in to make for a funnier photo? What can I do that will make my viewer smile, or even better, laugh out loud? I think doing projects like this makes a photographer a better problem solver on top of the fact that when you are deep in the project, it is one of the most exhilarating places to be as a creative person. The process of narrowing down 14 final images from thousands of images (12 calendar months and a cover and back image) for each of the three calendars I did has been an enjoyable creative process like no other. If I had my way I would still be doing the calendars with kiki every summer in a far away location but it turns out she prefers to be behind the camera, like me.