British Photographer Chris Floyd, 43, has been primarily shooting portraits since 1992. More recently, he joined the growing number of still photographers embracing video—er, filmmaking. His current project, “The Way I Dress,” grew out of a series of three fashion profiles he put together for the Sunday Times of London. The series features notable men dressing themselves as they ruminate on the subject of style. “If you create the space,” says Floyd, “the time you spend getting dressed could be the most reflective of your day.”
Floyd brought his movies to former British Esquire editor Jeremy Langmead, who’d recently been poached by the popular online women’s fashion retailer Net-a-Porter to launch their new men’s site Mr. Porter. “I took the three films with me on an iPad,” says Floyd. “We watched them through and he said, ‘Yeah, great. Let’s do six.’”
Grayson: So What is your background as a photographer?
Chris: If I’m known for anything it’s for doing portraiture. It’s very difficult in this day and age to do lots of different things. I like reportage, portraiture, even architecture. But [creative directors] want to be able to put you in a box and say, This guy does portraits, and that guys shoots ice cream, and this guy does still life.
What’s your production process?
Those were with a Canon 5D. I shot three in London and three in New York. It’s me a couple of a assistants, and that’s kind of it. One of the things I’m confident about is my ability to light. So I light the space and then the guy comes along, and I explain what we’re doing. The thing you have to explain more than anything is that he’s going to have to get dressed and undressed about ten times.
So you do the whole thing with one camera?
The budget is pretty good, but it’s not enough to do it with two cameras. I don’t have any qualms about stating that I’m quite new to all this, so it’s a learning process. I would rather learn it slowly and thoroughly than try and rush it.
How do you light your scenes?
I use HMIs and gels—nothing crazy—just enough to warm them up or cool them down. I move things around until it feels right. For me, it’s very instinctual. It’s kind of like finding a woman that you love. I play around with it and then—Yeah, this feels right. I want to spend some time with her.
How are you moving the camera in these shots?
With nearly all of them, I used a jib. I have no idea what kind it is, actually. You can pan and tilt and waive it around. I think we needed a bigger one, though. There were a couple of moments where I wanted to do very slow movements, and it wasn’t quite big enough and heavy enough to move gracefully.
How do you handle your post production?
I have an editor here in London who’s got a lot of experience. The thing I like about these movies perhaps more than anything is the collaborative nature of filmmaking. It’s the one thing that’s completely different from being a still photographer. In filmmaking, you have to give yourself up to the process. The learning curve is quite steep. Stills and motion share the same alphabet, but the language is different. You look at certain points in the process and say, Oh I understand what’s going on here but it’s a bit different than what I’m used to so I’d better shut up and listen to the guy who does know what he’s doing. I think you have to surrender your ego if you want to get better at it.
What about sound?
Pay attention to it. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a great take with shoddy sound that you can’t use. We do record the ambient sound of the guy getting dressed, but the rest of it is a voiceover. I use a Sennheiser…something, plugged into the 5D. The voiceovers I record separately on a recorder. I talk to the subject for about 20 minutes. Then I go off and do the sound edit, which I kind of do on my own. I use a very basic program that’s free called Audacity. I spend about a day doing that. It makes you go back to the pictures again and look at them in a new way.
The good thing that’s come out of this Mr. Porter project is they’ve asked me to do something else, now. I can’t say what it is, yet, but it’s really exciting. They’re great to work for. They’re far less hands-on than if I were doing the equivalent gig for a magazine. It’s like, Here’s the money; go away and don’t come back until it’s done.
I was looking for strange, absurd situations, going on endless tours to festivals, campgrounds, and shopping centers. If I found an interesting place, I could stand there for hours, waiting. I often get asked if my pictures are staged. They are not, but I always try to be very visible as a photographer, and I don’t know how much I influence a situation, just by having a camera.
Many successful, serious authors are in love with the notion that they get to be serious and successful merely by writing.
There was a brief interlude, perhaps 50 years in all post-Gutenberg, in which it was possible for a talented writer to be chosen, anointed, edited, promoted and paid for her work. Where the ‘work’ refers to the writing.
This idea that JD Salinger could hide out in his cabin, write, and periodically cash royalty checks is now dying.
Authors of the future are small enterprises, just one person or perhaps two or three. But they include fan engagement specialists, licensors, new media development managers, public speakers, endorsement and bizdev VPs, and more.
No one has your back.
Sad but true. The author of today (and tomorrow) is either going to build and maintain and work with his tribe or someone is going to take it away.
That whole thing with the Medicis didn’t last forever either.
In 2010, I went back to school at the University of Miami and got a graduate degree in multimedia. In a time when media is struggling and searching for a new path, I’m finding that I’m busier than ever, telling meaningful stories in new ways for a variety of outlets. It’s an exciting time to be a photographer and journalist, and this new skill can create more opportunity for all of us. I think the most important thing any artist can do is to constantly push themselves and improve their craft.
It occurred to me the other day, after wrapping up a beginning photo class, that it’s a lot easier to teach style than substance. My students, all young, had turned in an assignment of self-portraits, and the level of stylistic sophistication was pretty advanced. Very fashionable. As to the substance, let’s just say that one would glean little about their personalities, beyond the fact that they were pretty successful in masking any inner turmoil. Now, while this might seem to have little, if anything, to do with a weekly photo book review column, I used it as my inspiration for today’s selection. Each book below carves out some serious new ground, stylistically, while looking at subjects that have been photographed to death. They use blatantly different techniques, and yet all manage to end up at hyper-real aesthetic that is so emblematic of the 21st Century.
Edgar Martins’ “This is Not a House,” is a smooth, mid-sized hardcover recently released by Dewi Lewis Publishing in England. I suspect many of you might be familiar with some of this photographs, as Mr. Martins was embroiled in quite the stink a couple of years ago. I vaguely recall the scenario, in which the NY Times had to pull his work from their website when it was determined that the images had been “manipulated,” as if we’re living in a world where anything is not. But I never got a chance to see the pictures. They’re terrific. Irrespective of the controversy (and the book’s text makes many, many references to it), I think this is probably the best visual encapsulation of the housing bubble meltdown I’ve yet encountered. We see an image of the inside of a new, traditional-style living room, well-lit, set against the window view of a golf-course and snow capped mountains. Perfect. Wood, concrete, glass and steel, all new, but vacant and post-apocalyptic, coalesce into a vision of a society where “More was More,” and now we’re left to grapple with the idea that “Less is More.” It’s definitely reminiscent of Lewis Baltz’s “Park City,” but with his strong use of strobes, and the apparent digital correction in favor of symmetry, Mr Martins’ images feel constructed, sculptural and false. They’re hollow and fictitious, all the while “documenting” a phenomenon that shared the same characteristics.
Bottom Line: Worth the drama
Suzanne Opton’s “Soldier/Many Wars” is a new, hard-cover offering from Decode Books in Seattle. It’s one of those two-books-in-one type deals that I’ve seen a bit recently. (Turn it around, start again.) And like Mr. Martins’ project, apparently the work created some controversy that I missed a couple of years back. Her portraits of soldiers, taken up close, while the subjects’ heads were resting on a table, were blown up into cryptic billboards and installed in cities around the country. I wish I’d seen one, as I’m interested in artists who are taking their work directly to the people. But of course, none of that really has anything to do with whether the book is any good or not. It is. With the “Soldier” project, Ms. Opton manages to pull the viewer as close to a contemporary warrior’s face as we’re likely to get. By photographing the sitters sideways, she automatically changes our perspective from every other portrait we’ve seen. Yes, some of them look like they could be dead, but that only enhances our interest. The photos are contemplative, powerful, and nuanced, and the slightly-off color palette and super hi-res look definitely push them towards hyper-real. Fascinating. The “Many Wars” project, in which she photographs soldiers receiving treatment for PTSD, wrapped in cloaks, was less interesting to me. But one dude is a dead ringer for Obi-Wan Kenobi, and that was worth a giggle right there.
Bottom Line: Cutting-edge
Finally, we come to Alejandro Chaskielberg’s “La Creciente.” It’s a smooth-surface hard-cover published by Nazraeli Press, with funding support by the Burn Magazine Emerging Photographer Grant. Many a documentary photographer had gone into the bush, or the forest, or the jungle to highlight the story of a group of indigenous workers, cutting into the Earth in some way or another. Been there, done that, true. These photographs, however, don’t look like any of the other images you’ve seen with that particular obsession. (And I believe they are staged as well.) Mr Chaskielberg, an Argentine, photographs only in the light of the Full Moon, (which doesn’t seem to be connected to any concept,) but that light, mixed with a healthy use of strobe lighting, creates a striking effect. With the shallow depth of field, they look a bit like tilt-shift images, but not entirely. Truthfully, I don’t love all the photos, but at least a handful are so good that the book is worth a look. “The Foreigner,” in which a beautiful woman, head turned to the side, emerges from the green grass with the sun behind her, looks so much like a 21st C Madonna image that I had to look twice. Two pages later, in “Escape,” a woman is perched awkwardly on the riverbank, a blue canoe below her in the water. It just doesn’t look real. I accept that on some level, there was a woman, and she did exist on the river bank, but my brain still reads the image as a surreal construction in a studio somewhere, or more likely a vision conjured up and rendered by a computer. Very fitting for our times.
Bottom Line: A fresh look at a familiar subject
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Design Director: Dean Sebring
Contributing Art Directors: Raine Bascos, Valerie Sebring
Photographer: Anthony Mair
Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted.
We now live in a world where information is potentially unlimited. Information is cheap, but meaning is expensive. Where is the meaning?
via Brain Pickings.
I’m giving my talk on photographers using social media tomorrow (Friday) at the PDN Photo Plus Expo in New York City. The talk is at 1:30.
The talk has evolved since I first gave it 2 years ago as I’ve discovered more and more photographers finding success with social media. Also, this idea that you uncover demand using social media, rather than create it has changed how I look at everything. So, if that interests you and you’re around come by and listen.
Just being there doesn’t mean publishers are there at all. How they are there is what matters. Publishers must not be distracted by the ability to iterate magazines into a digital space and they must not be distracted by the iPad. Rather, they must ask, what is the likely form and function of content going to be 10 years from today and what is the true potential of locatable, social, personalized and discoverable magazine experiences?
via The Media Online.
This guest post was written by Christopher LaMarca author of Forest Defenders: The Confrontational American Landscape
Within the world of professional photography, ones ability to work on personal projects must be balanced with the jobs that bring in the capital required to do so. In finding this balance, occasionally we are asked to compromise our personal principals for the paycheck which sustains us in this highly competitive field. With the current state of the world, perhaps its high time to take a difficult but necessary look at our industries relationship with perpetuating an extraction based economy responsible for the widespread environmental and social degradation we see all around us today.
A couple of months ago I was approached by the advertising agency representing Chevron to place a bid for shooting a campaign aimed at increasing the effectiveness of their global corporate recruitment. Before submitting an offer, I was faced with an ethical and intensely personal moral dilemma that stemmed from the possibility of using my craft to advance a corporate agenda I do not support. Most recently Chevron has admitted during the long-running trial in both US and Ecuadorian courts that it created a system of oil extraction that led to the deliberate discharge of billions of gallons of chemical-laden “water of formation” into the Amazonian River basin of Ecuador, affecting thousands of people with cancer and other illness. These facts represented a counter weight to the realization that the type of financial benefit this job opportunity offered was enough to finish and fully fund a documentary film that I have been working on for the past two years. This film represents the most intimate and visceral body of work in my professional career.
Having worked on energy issues for the past five years I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited into the homes of countless families and company employees who’s lives have been affected by the extraction of natural gas, coal, and oil. Ironically, it was the natural dignity and heroism I captured in the images of these individuals that the client hoped I would bring to their campaign of workforce recruitment. How could I justify my professional contribution of working with a company that has proven countless times over that the desire for increased profits is far more important than the human and environmental disasters they leave in their wake. Through this process I had an opportunity to re-examine the direction of my own ethical compass. I’d like to say there was never any question about my decision, but in this case, that was not true. I have no doubt that I made the right choice for me, which clearly isn’t the right choice for everybody.
I believe the questions posed while I was flirting with Chevron’s money are questions that often get lost in our industry. Can we justify the prostitution of the work we love to corporate interests so that we may continue to chase down our individual dreams of self expression? Do the ends justify the means? When we convince ourselves that that they do, what gets lost or destroyed along the way? Whether we’re using our craft to create corporate “cool”, or ‘greenwashing’ the public with an eco-friendly image that hides the true nature of that which is being peddled, we are covering up the truth which hides right in front of our eyes. And in doing so we act in direct opposition to the truth of our own work we desire to share with the rest of the world.
“I don’t think most young photographers know the risk,” he said. “But you can’t deny them their chance. Jim Nachtwey and Don McCullin had a first time. Patrick Chauvel had a first time. You don’t get experience until you are under fire. You don’t understand how to protect yourself until you stand behind a wall being shot at.” As a photographer at Black Star in his mid-20s, Mr. Morris chafed at the bit, trying to get assignments in El Salvador and Beirut. His boss, Howard Chapnick, told him he wasn’t ready. So Mr. Morris set out for the Philippines on his own.
( click images to make bigger )
Creative Director, Print and Digital Media: John Korpics
Senior Director, Design: Jason Lancaster
Art Directors: Mike Leister, Marne Mayer, John Yun
Senior Deputy Photo Editor: Nancy Weisman
Deputy Photo Editor: Jim Surber
(1-3) Photographer: Francesco Carrozzini
(3 spread) Photographer: Jeff Reidel
Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted.
“How many of you expect to make your living from creating or providing content?”
Close to half of the audience responded by raising their hands up.
When I asked the same audience:
“How many of you believe that you should pay for content?”
Less than a dozen people kept their hands up…