Addiction is nasty, and the house always wins. Put those together, and it makes for a cunning and helpless transfer of wealth. Whether it’s street dealers taking ten spots off of twitching junkies, sports arenas charging $9 for a warm Budweiser, or casinos absorbing cash from the repetitive slashing of one-armed bandits, it matters little. As I said, the house always wins.
Gambling is the addiction that I understand least. I’ve been blessed with good genes, as addiction does not seem to run in my family. Given how much beer I drank as an 18 year old in college, ever proud of my ability to double-fist Schaeffers, I’d have been an alcoholic years ago under different circumstances. Drinking and drugs, though, at least I get. The alteration of brain chemistry can be a heap of fun, and, until the hangovers descend in your late 20’s, the lack of accountability makes it easy to overdo it. Or do it, then overdo it, then do it some more.
But gambling…it’s never made sense. I’m told that the thrill of victory must overwhelm the fear of losing your dollars. But really, how much fun can it be? A lot, obviously, or Vegas would never have risen from the sun-baked Nevada Earth.
Apparently, Vegas is no longer the biggest gambling den around, having been displaced at some point by the Former-Portuguese-Colony/Island Macau. If you’ve never heard of Macau, no drama, as it’s a pretty small place off the South Coast of China. There’s the keyword right there. China. As the swirling-cash-toilet-bowl of choice for the world’s rising economy, just imagine how much money must be rolling around down there. Better yet, you don’t have to imagine. Just look at “White Noise,” a new book by António Júlio Duarte, recently published by Pierre von Kleist editions.(Subtitled “Sleepless Nights-Casinos-Macau.”)
Now, I’ve already tipped my hand several times that I love weird/odd imagery, and sci-fi infused imagery all the more. I must be easily seduced by shiny, flash-driven, gleaming photographs, so that’s one of my tells right there. I’ll spare you one more Murakami/Parallel Universe reference, but man do I have a soft spot for that style.
This book has it in spades. There are no people, the use of flash dominates, and boy do these photographs shine. Crystal chandeliers, gold-leaf encrusted sculptures, porcelain goddesses, mirrored-disco balls, metallic drapes, it’s all in there. Even more disturbing, elephant tusks standing at attention, Michael Jackson’s white glove resting on velvet, and cash money circulating through a vacuum-tube like something Bob Barker would dance to if he were dosed with LSD.
The casinos pictured here really do resemble spaceships. It’s not just that I’ve got Star Trek on the brain, (or better yet, Wall-E.) It’s definitely supposed to look like that. You can almost hear the imperceptible whir of the air-con systems, breath the recycled cigarette fumes, drain dry a watered-down vodka, and feel the vibration of all those machines and gaming tables sucking up money like a big, fat bong-hit.
So let’s have a moment of silence for all the poor suckers who bet it all on black, and lost. Homes gone, cars re-possessed, lovers left, it’s a sad tale. A sucker’s bet, you might say, thinking that anyone but the BIG MONEY comes out ahead. But then again, this is just a book review, and “White Noise” is a just a book.
Bottom Line: Shiny, gleaming, flash-driven casino awesomeness
Full Disclosure: Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.
…it is not always possible to secure copyright clearance before pictures are published. Our industry therefore adopts the stance that if a picture has no overwhelming artistic value and if there is no issue of exclusivity (ie it is already being published online or elsewhere) then no reasonable copyright owner will object to its being republished in exchange for a reasonable licence fee.
via Land of Oak and Iron.
Still Images In Great Advertising, is a column where Suzanne Sease discovers great advertising images and then speaks with the photographers about it.
I am a true believer of doing pro-bono work, because it is not only for a great cause, but it is usually the most creative work. Why wouldn’t you want your signature on it. I found this campaign in Ads of the World (where I find a lot of my material) and not only loved the message but the way Matt Barnes shot it.
Suzanne: I see that you used stock images for the basis of the tattoos. Do you think it would have been too invasive to have used “real” victims?
Matt: While the turn around time didn’t allow for that approach, what was most important for us was presenting the message in the best way possible – with that idea in mind, I purposefully kept the lighting nondescript and the models almost shadowed. I was provided with the tag lines for the scrolls of the tattoos before the shoot so that helped me choose the stock images I wanted to use. I wanted a wide age range and preferred faces looking straight at camera. With a project like this, the identities of the models weren’t as important as the idea and message behind it all.
Suzanne: How did the tattoo artist, David Glantz, get the images on the figures? The work is so detailed that these are amazing pieces of art. How tricky was that?
Matt: As the subject is so significant, appropriately executing each facet was crucial. The process worked something like this; first off I found suitable stock personalities to fit each role – diversity was essential and I spent a lot of time searching out suitable people. Once they were selected, I made the images black & white, added contrast, removed detail and enhanced the edges, before passing the digital files along to David (who I had known already through friends that he’d tattooed). He printed and traced the images, added the banners and type and I was left with pulling off the trickiest bit – applying the tattoos to the models digitally, while maintaining a realistic look. It was difficult, but I gave them the appearance of age to better set them into the skin and was happy with the results. David was vital in pulling the project off and I was really pleased that he was into working on it with me. It wouldn’t have turned out half as well without him.
Suzanne: This campaign is very alarming and really gets your attention. I know so many people who ink their bodies because the loss of a loved one, so this is very powerful. How successful was the campaign?
Matt: I had a great response on my end; I received lots of feedback via my blog (http://mattbarnesphoto.tumblr.com) and a fair of bit of press at the time as well. The ads ran around the holidays, a topical time for the issue at hand, and I hope it made an impact.
Matt Barnes is a commercial photographer based out of Toronto, Canada and his work can be seen at http://www.thatsthespot.com
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.
If you need proof of the career-building power of social media, look no further than Jesse Rosten. The 31-year-old TV-commercial director lives in the small, Northern–California town of Redding and has spent the last eight years producing spots for local clients like casinos and colonoscopy clinics. Then last month Rosten uploaded a fake advertisement for a non-existent beauty product called Fotoshop by Adobé. The two-minute clip is a commentary on the beauty and magazine industries’ reliance on retouching. Launched with a tweet and a Facebook post, Rosten’s video quickly racked up more than 5 million views between Vimeo and YouTube and made the rounds on the media industry websites. Grayson Schaffer spoke Rosten about what went into this production and what Rosten thinks he got out of it.
Grayson: What sparked the idea for this clip?
Jesse: I was watching an infomercial for some beauty products with some “before” and “after” photos and it just looked like the “after” shots had been retouched. I thought I should do a commercial for Photoshop because it seems like that’s all the beauty industry uses anymore. It’s that whole photographers’ refrain, “Fix it in post.”
Grayson: There was some serious production that went into your project. How did you pull it together and fund it?
Jesse: I’m a commercial director, but I’d never worked in this particular genre before—fashion and beauty. Everyone involved volunteered. We had two make-up artists, a hair person, and four production people. The camera lenses were all donated, and I’ve got some of my own lighting gear. The biggest out-of-pocket cost was buying food for everyone on the day of the shoot. It wasn’t super expensive; it just took a lot of labor.
Grayson: How did you convince everyone to get on board with this?
Jesse: The first thing I did was write a script and put together a storyboard. I’ve worked with lots of these people on other paying gigs so they’re always up for a good time. The crew had been in other viral videos I’ve done, so at this point they’re sort of familiar with my crazy ideas.
Grayson: What were you hoping to get out of this?
Jesse: I just hoped people would find it funny—a snarky message directed at the beauty industry and Photoshop users at large. But I also realized that the more this looks like a real commercial, the funnier it’s going to be. So while it is a satire, and there are elements of parody, the funniest thing about it is that it’s all true.
Grayson: Now that it’s blown up and has been seen by several million people, what has it done for your business?
Jesse: Yeah, my inbox has been a mess—a lot of inquiries and interest. I haven’t turned it into any paying gigs yet, but now I feel like I can justify putting time and resources into this. On the one hand, this project was something I wanted to do to stretch myself as a filmmaker, but it has also been good marketing for my work.
Grayson: You said that you had done some other viral videos?
Jesse: Two years ago, I did a video called iPad Plus Velcro which had a little bit of success. Apple actually picked it up, which is unique because they usually have a very specific brand aesthetic. And then this same crew helped me produce another video called iPad Photoshoot, where we took nine iPads and did a shoot using the iPads as a light source.
Grayson: Were you able to get Apple to fund the second video?
Jesse: No, I tried to milk it, but I never heard back.
Grayson: Do you feel like you’ve cracked the code for what it takes to make a viral video?
JR: Yes and no. I don’t think I’ve cracked the code, because at the end of the day you really don’t know when something is going to go viral: You don’t create a viral video; you create a video and then it goes viral. But at the same time with this Photoshop thing, I knew that it was a current topic and that its novelty gave it serious viral potential. But I never expected it to get as big as it did as fast as it did. In less than 24 hours, it had half-a-million views and that was before it had been written up on any major blogs.
Grayson: Was that like a mainlined shot of adrenaline?
Jesse: I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sitting in front of the computer hitting the refresh button and watching the view count go up every ten minutes. It’s nice to know that something you created is resonating with people.
Grayson: What is your specific line of work?
Jesse: The paying gigs are commercial direction. I work with agencies and sometimes directly with clients to direct, shoot, and edit commercials. I’m also trying to break into narrative filmmaking?
Grayson: Anyone cool you’ve worked for in the past?
Jesse: Honestly, I’m not a big-name-brand director. I’m self-taught and self-employed. It started with local car commercials eight years ago, and I’ve slowly worked my way up to hospitals and casinos and government-type jobs. In the last two years I’ve focused more on working with agencies that have their own client lists.
Grayson: Surely clients understand what a rare thing it is for a director to generate five million views without a budget? The YouTube versions of most SuperBowl ads don’t rack up those kinds of numbers.
Jesse: Well that’s always been my thing because I haven’t had a lot of resources. One of the things I like most about filmmaking is creative problem solving—whether that’s coming up with a creative story or coming up with a creative way to make due with few resources. Right now I feel like I can do anything with a camera and a few worklights.
Grayson: So what’s your advice to people who are where you were eight or nine years ago. Can social media kick open the door?
Jesse: I think so. Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist when I started. But my advice would be just to continue to create. There’s really no magic formula for this sort of thing, it’s just a lot of hard work. Your first project is probably going to suck, but every time you take on something new and push yourself a little further you learn something. Eventually you’ll start creating work that you’re proud of.
…being unprepared on set will not cause you to be creative, at the best you can copy something that you know works or do something interesting that may not be right for the story… directing is all done before the cameras and crew show up.
via Winokur Photography.
Lots of chatter online about how photographers should embrace sharing their work and stop complaining about copyright. All started by this post (here) by the king of HDR (Trey Ratcliff) who says:
As this future becomes more and more plain to me, I see a rapture of sorts, where old-school photographers clinging to the old-fashioned ways of doing things will be “left behind.”
Which is funny because this sort of rapture, where a photo blogger suddenly loses their virginity, is pretty common. Witness the Strobist back in December of 2008: Four Reasons to Consider Working for Free.
Now, I can’t blame them for their rapture, because they and many others have discovered a perfectly legitimate business model for making a living with a camera: Selling Something Besides Photographs.
So, I want to provide a little perspective here. Making a living selling photographs will not die. On the same note photographers should look at, understand and possibly adopt some of what they are doing into their own business. Selling ebooks, dvds, workshops and giving lectures will make up part of the income for successful photographers in the future. Nothing wrong with that. Declaring that everyone will be left behind unless they share everything and make up the difference with ebooks on tips for punters is completely wrong.
The key is this: Focus your attention on the people who you have a legitimate business interest with and be okay with not being liked by everyone.
“I vote for an iPad when an agent comes to see me and wants to show me books of multiple photographers and/or artists. However, I still prefer a big, beautiful printed book for presentation. I know our Creative Directors still want to see a well-put-together printed portfolio when they’re deciding on shooters for upcoming projects”
Silly video about an important topic:
They also have a page dedicated to photographer rights: http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/know-your-rights-photographers
When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police. Such photography is a form of public oversight over the government and is important in a free society.
When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs. If you disobey the property owner’s rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply).
Police officers may not generally confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video without a warrant. If you are arrested, the contents of your phone may be scrutinized by the police, although their constitutional power to do so remains unsettled. In addition, it is possible that courts may approve the seizure of a camera in some circumstances if police have a reasonable, good-faith belief that it contains evidence of a crime by someone other than the police themselves (it is unsettled whether they still need a warrant to view them).
Police may not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances.
Police officers may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations. Professional officers, however, realize that such operations are subject to public scrutiny, including by citizens photographing them.
Note that the right to photograph does not give you a right to break any other laws. For example, if you are trespassing to take photographs, you may still be charged with trespass.
A federal court in New York has dismissed a $28 million defamation lawsuit against photographer Jason Lee Parry on a legal technicality: He’s a California resident, the court said, so he’s not subject to jurisdiction under New York law.
via PDN Pulse.
In service of radical honesty, let me state for the record that I’m exhausted. Practically brain dead at the moment. In a couple of the interviews I conducted in 2011, I talked about the reality of the photographer’s 21st Century hustle. We all have two or three jobs, cobbling things together to make a go of it. We do it out of passion, desire and necessity. But sometimes, speaking for myself at least, it leaves one drained of creativity juice, like a de-sanguinated chicken.
Speaking of bloodless poultry, I spotted one on page two of the new book “Rodina,” by Irina Ruppert, recently released by Pepperoni Books in Germany. (Sorry, it was a rooster.) We’re always hearing some version of the conversation about how everything’s been photographed, all the good ideas taken, nothing new under the sun. As one who strives to innovate, I like to dispute that train of thought whenever possible. But there is also a ton of value in a story well-told, a vision perfectly executed, a narrative jaunt in an exotic place, rendered through the eyes of a stranger. “Rodina” is such a story.
Eastern Europe & Northwest Asia seem to have become hot subjects in the last few years. Some photographers have been attracted to the darkest of sides, human trafficking. Others to the kitch-tastic combination of fabulous oil wealth and fabulously bad taste. Others still are seduced by the “trapped in time” aspect of one of the world’s last “undiscovered” frontiers. Regardless, I’ve seen a lot of work made in that part of the world. Some stands out, some fades into the deeper recesses of my memory in an instant.
This book makes the cut, and I enjoy writing about it after highlighting work by so many heavyweights in the last month. I’ve never heard of Irina Ruppert before, and I couldn’t care less. That’s one of the true secrets of a great photo book: if it all comes together, the fame and/or reputation of the maker is of little significance.
The cloth-bound, tan hard-cover book lacks any text on the outside, and has a small piece of fabric embroidered onto the front. It’s a touch that speaks to the hand-made and the intimate, and indeed, it is a small and lovely little ride on the inside. The first photo shows an old Bulgarian Airlines airplane sitting on the grass in front of an apartment building. Consider me intrigued.
Photo two was mentioned above, and of course, I’m always interested in work that shows us what we don’t want to see.
A skinned cow head on the wall, chicken foot in a bowl of soup, and a goat standing on the road round out the symbolic theme. I love it. Woven in between, we see images of rolling fields, purple kitchens, hanging laundry, sidelong glances, and an old dead woman decked out in a coffin/horse cart. Throw in a fisherman rowing away from a random set of explosions in the water, and you had me at “Hello.” Really cool book.
Truth be told, (once again) I never thought of myself as a photo-book lover before I started writing this column. A photography lover, yes, but the books I could take or leave. That was then. Now, having had the privilege of scoping out all the new releases for a half-year, I feel differently. A book is an object, and the image edit a rhythmic narrative. It all needs to coalesce just so for me to really love the object, even if I never hear from the artist again. So for all the talk of shrink wrap, collectors’ markets and art stars, it’s good to remember that a great photo-book can come from anyone, and that it needs to be held and appreciated.
Bottom Line: A great book from a little-known artist
Full Disclosure: Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.
As it happens, the television networks that actively supported SOPA and PIPA didn’t take advantage of their broadcast credibility to press their case. That’s partly because “old media” draws a line between “news” and “editorial.” Apparently, Wikipedia and Google don’t recognize the ethical boundary between the neutral reporting of information and the presentation of editorial opinion as fact.