Facing The Future

- - The Future

Donald Weber, Canadian documentary photographer, VII Photo

PhotoQ interviewed nine photographers on how they respond to the tension between lowering income in the profession, and exploding interest in photography (more museums, galleries, magazines, web, phones, tablets). They were participating in the Day of Photography (in Dutch: Dag van de Fotografie) at the Amsterdam venue of Pakhuis De Zwijger on October 21st, 2011, as organised by the agency Hollandse Hoogte. More than 600 people visited interviews, presentations, discussions and other events.

More (here).

What Inspired The Instagram Filters?

- - Blog News

Instagram founder Kevin Systrom’s was in the photography club at school when:

my teacher handed me this plastic Holga camera and said, “You’re going to use this and learn to deal with imperfection.” I remember developing the first roll and the feeling I got from the vignetting and the light leaks that came from the blurry plastic lens. That transformed the way I looked at photography—from trying to replicate reality into taking a scene and creating some kind of interpretation of its mood.

Read more at The Fader.

Jerry Saltz Learns About Dancing Naked in Public

- - Blog News

I love this week’s challenge. Each artist is asked to respond to a work of art made by a child (on hand in the studio) with one of his or her own. This simple challenge works wonders, lifting all the contestants out of their comfort zones. Iffy artists step up; good ones get better; bad ones bottom out.

via NY Mag.

This Week In Photography Books

- - Photo Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

Sometimes, art can change our lives, or at least how we relate to the world around us. Writing in The New Yorker last week, Peter Schjeldahl mentioned that when he emerged from a recent visit to the new Islamic galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he felt like a slightly different person. Other times, though, it’s just nice to look at photographs that depict a different way of life in a foreign culture, far far away. It’s simple human curiosity, really: travel, for the recession age. So this week’s books are unlikely to give you an Earth-shaking epiphany that makes you to quit your job, or give up your life to Jesus. But they ought to satisfy an inherent desire to look outward towards chaos of humanity, and come back with a shade more context about your own little world.

“Zapallal/Yurinaki” is a new hardcover monograph by Andrés Marroquín Winkelmann, published by MA+GO Concept, and distributed by Misha de Kominek Gallery in Berlin. It’s kind of a funky production, as the blue, cloth-bound spine melds into a cardboard cover with a photograph glued to the top. It has the feel of a high-end arts and crafts project, but not in a bad way. (The text is presented in English, Spanish and German, so we know the audience is meant to be Global.) Inside, the first few pages are cut to different sizes, so it opens up bit by bit, You can see right away that the book depicts village life in Peru, with it’s attendant ducks, chickens, pigs, sheep and cats. Mr. Winkelmann apparently photographed in two different communities in Peru, but it’s not particularly evident in the images. Instead, you get a spate of well-seen, flash-driven contemporary documentary photographs of a place that doesn’t look like where you live. Dirty walls, dirt roads, junk in the backyard, meditative still lives of produce, that sort of thing. A particular favorite was a photograph of a young girl, the pink scrunchy on top of her head just peeking out above a kitchen table, while a generic, framed photo of a Caucasian grandfather kissing his grandson haunts the upper left hand corner of the composition. (It’s got to be the picture that came with the frame, right?)
Bottom Line: Peru
To purchase Zapallal/Yurinaki visit Photo-Eye


“The Brothers,” recently released by Dewi Lewis Publishing, is a black, hardcover book by photographer Elin Hølyand. Two, shirtless, bug-eyed old dudes stare out from the cover, one with a rifle slung over his shoulder. The brothers, I presume. Harald and Mathais, both now deceased, lived together as bachelors on the family farm in rural Norway for their entire lives. It was an old-school, hardscrabble existence, by all appearances. The project was shot in grainy black and white, yet never feels like it was done a long time ago. The photos read modern, for some reason, which could just be that there are enough temporal signifiers to get the point across. There are several double paged spreads where we see both gentlemen, ever so slightly different, like multiple versions of the same guy residing in parallel universes. All bushy eyebrows and plaintive stares…it’s almost enough to make me sad these men are gone, despite the obvious fact that I never met them. Ms. Høyland’s sensibility is odd and strange, but never veers towards creepy or cliché. It’s a terrific collection of photographs, and well printed too.
Bottom Line: Norway
To purchase The Brothers visit Photo-Eye


Finally, we come to “The Submerged,” by Michelle Sank. It’s a smooth, hard cover book recently offered by Schilt Publishing in Amsterdam. (Insert random stoner reference here…) Ms. Sank, peripatetic through a slew of artist residencies, apparently spent a few months in Wales, and this book is the result. Wales? It reminds me of that Wayne’s World joke where they mocked Delaware. Wales is not the first place I would salivate to go, but that’s part of the fun of looking at these books. What does it look like? What kind of people actually live there? I could tell you, but then you’d have no reason to browse the photos below. The whole selection of images is just the slightest bit weird, but in a subtle way. Like the Beauty Queen in mud covered boots, the Hasidic Jews frolicking on the beach, or the pudgy, dough-faced metalhead in the Ozzy Osborne T-shirt. Not to give away the best part, like a Hollywood preview, but the image of a forlorn, abandoned hilltop barn with “Twat” spray-painted on the side is a keeper. The more I look at it, the more I see a funnier, less genius, contemporary take on August Sander.
Bottom Line: Wales
To purchase The Submerged visit Photo-Eye


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.

The Daily Edit – Friday

- - The Daily Edit

Vanity Fair


Design Director: David Harris
Art Director: Julie Weiss
Photography Director: Susan White
Senior Photography Producer: Kathryn MacLeod
Senior Associate Photo Editors: Sasha Erwitt, Susan Phear
Photographer: Jason Bell

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


Heidi: How many days did this take to shoot?
Jason: Just one – we met at 11am and finished about 10pm which included hair make up and doing the stills and film. I prefer to work first to stop the subject getting bored and tired.

Was Courtney involved in the creative process?
No. She was involved in styling choices but in terms of concept etc. she totally left it to me. She just said “I’m putting myself in your hands.” I was very pleased that she liked the results. She called me up afterwards to say how much she liked it all.

The video lighting is different than in the printed version, were they done simultaneously?
Yes they were done pretty simultaneously, we constantly switched from one to the other which makes things move faster.

During filming what is your role? I saw there was a cinematographer, how is that role shared?
I am the director so I say what I want and how I see it and then taking suggestions from all of the crew. I came up with the story beforehand and then discussed with the cinematographer the best way to achieve it. He operates the camera and then I view playback and change things. And I direct the subject always. It’s less confusing for them if it’s just me all day shooting the stills and blocking their moves etc.

Do you think you were selected because of your motion experience?
On this job yes, I work for Vanity Fair a lot anyway, but I heard that they really wanted a film for this one and had liked my previous films for them so were keen for me to do it.

Was that opening/closing shot difficult?
My poor cinematographer (who is great) was very game and got in the water in just his boxer shorts to get that shot. It was not a hot day…. when I discussed the concept of the shoot with him beforehand he had suggested an underwater shot so he only had himself to blame, but he did a great job. I was very keen from the start that it opened and closed the film to give a sense of entering this other world.

What advantage to you feel you have by being the only artist an agent represents (Robbie Feldman)?
It feels like more of a collaboration. We are obviously a bit more involved with each other than if I had an agent representing 10 others. So, we can work more closely together and discuss all aspects of the process. And there’s a shorthand because he always knows very precisely what is going on. I have to stay busy, but that works because I like to be busy.


- - Assistants, Working

Photo by Travis Shinn

OTMFC is a collective of great photographers and assistants that come to your job with a truck load of experience and equipment to get it done right. I caught up with David Hudgins, one of the founders, to see what this is all about.

Heidi: Have to ask, how did you come up with the logo?
David:  The logo was drawn up on a bar napkin.

When you don’t want to drop the f bomb, what’s the replacement?
Over The Moon For Christ is one of our favorites, but we always prefer to drop the F Bomb!

How did this business idea come about?
We got tired of showing up to a shoot and realizing that we forgot to order that one little piece of equipment that we could not do without. We decided to build a truck and have it come standard with all of those little pieces. All you had to do was book the truck and you would have everything you needed to do a photo shoot. It made our life and everyone else’s life easier. When you focus on creating a product that works great for your client, the successful business follows.

You have 3 kitted out trucks right now, do you have plans to expand your fleet?
We are always looking at ways to improve what we are doing. When we decide to take action will depend on the needs of our clients.

How did you decide what each of the 3 trucks would be kitted with?
Through years of experience working on set and placing orders, we knew what equipment we would need for different size shoots and budgets. We tailored equipment packages around these parameters.

Can you do a la carte and or is it a flat fee?
We provide both! We have trucks that come as a package at a set price. We also have trucks and cargo vans that are a la carte and can be built out to accommodate any size shoot. You can also have equipment delivered and picked up from your set.

Have you ever been on a job where the photographer has SO MUCH to choose from they go into option paralysis or they keep changing their set up?
Once we had a whole truck load of equipment, 50,000 watts of light, motion picture lights, etc. The assistants spent hours lighting the set to perfection then the photographer turned in the opposite direction and shot talent with an on camera flash. They never even used the set! That has happened to us so many times we have lost count.

One of the biggest problems photographers seem to have is editing. Whether it is narrowing down the images from your shoot, deciding what couture gown talent will wear, or deciding which lighting setup you will use, a photographer always likes to have options so they can pick the best solution.

Does it ever happen where someone orders the biggest set up you have and then shoots available light? Would you call that your dream client?
Again, that happens all the time. We had a shoot last week where we hauled the contents of a whole truck, including generators onto the roof of a building. The assistants setup all of the lights, and the photographer used a flex fill for the first 2 shots and a flashlight for the last 2. They are not necessarily dream clients, because you still have to setup and breakdown the equipment. The dream client would be the one that gets a truck of gear then tells you to leave it all IN THE TRUCK and then lights available light.

We have a joke about “available light,” because when a photographer says they are going to shoot available light, you think it will be an easy day…then they end up setting up every light you have available and it becomes a long brutal day.

What’s the advantage of hiring you over let’s say renting individual items, cost I assume and variety? Why else?
Passion and experience.

How much new equipment do you invest in on a yearly basis?
This depends on what equipment comes out. Some years have more new toys that others.

How do handle the lighting demands of a still and video shoot on a job where they require both and need to be shot at the same time? Are you noticing a trend towards continuous lighting?
There is a lot of convergence between continuous and strobe lighting. The challenge is finding, understanding, and providing the tools to give the photographer their look with both options.

Your site has an extensive roster of available crew, how do you get on the list? Who vets them?
The people that are on our list, are people we have known and worked with. There are a lot of great assistants in LA that we have not had the pleasure of working with. We try to add people after they have worked with several other assistants on our list and have been recommended by them and our clients.

Are any of your guys aspiring photographers or are you all committed to running this business?
There are a handful of us that are dedicated to running the company. The rest are great assistants and great photographers.

My Work Usually Doesn’t Exist Outside Of Ones And Zeros

- - Blog News

“I’m a child and photographer of the digital generation. My work usually doesn’t exist outside of ones and zeros on a computer, and to have it physically now gives it life. It’s been reborn in a very different way, and it gives it an existence in the real world that will live on whether or not there’s electricity. It took years for me to get a book from Iraq published. I had to win an award to do it because no one wanted to publish an Iraq book. Photo books take a loss financially, and then for it to be about Iraq, a subject that most Americans and Westerners want to forget…”

via Photo Booth:The New Yorker.

Ira Glass: ‘Who cares if radio survives? Something else will happen’

- - Blog News

There’s never been a better time to do creative work than right now. You can get stuff started. You can get it out to people. And you can turn it into a business if it’s decent. And there are more ways to get work to material. And it’s easier to get work. We are at a peak. Everything about our country is going to hell. Our politics, industry — like this is the one part of America which is actually going great.

via » Nieman Journalism Lab.

Real World Estimates – Flat Rate Magazine Contracts

by Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

As we’ve discussed in a previous post, structuring photographic fees on the basis of a day rate vs, space is customary for many national magazines and is generally the most equitable for both the photographer and the client. But we’re increasingly seeing publications prefer to pay flat fees for photo shoots. While working this way can keep the costs predictable for the client, it puts all the financial risk on the photographer. Any unforeseen expenses can eat into your creative fee quickly if you’re not careful. Here are a few things to consider as you negotiate your next magazine job.

For starters, it’s important that you don’t immediately jump into a budget discussion when a client first contacts you. It can be disconcerting to a client, editorial or otherwise, if you show more interest in the money than the project. Yes, it’s important to understand their budget, but save that conversation until after you’ve expressed an interest in the assignment and an understanding of the concept.

Once you’ve heard the details of the shoot, ask the client if they have a contract or if they’d like to work with yours. Then, ask if they have a budget set for the shoot or would they would like to see an estimate. Unlike a lot of commercial projects, most magazines have a pretty clear idea of what they expect to pay for a given assignment. If the client is offering a flat rate, that can mean one of three things. Either it’s a flat creative fee plus photographic and travel expenses, or it’s a flat fee including photographic expenses plus travel expenses (like this assignment for Fast Company). Or, it’s a flat fee including all expenses.

When presented with a flat budget, it can be tempting to decide on the spot whether the rate is satisfactory for the time, skill, licensing and expenses involved. But in most cases, it’s prudent to call the client back after you’ve had a chance to run the numbers and review their contract. What seems like a lot of money at first may be less impressive once you subtract off all your costs and account for the licensing. And of course, be clear before you hang up the phone about what the “flat” rate covers and what it doesn’t.

Figure out how you’re going to execute the job and then list all of the expenses you’ll incur—subtracting them from the total budget. Compare what’s left to the amount of work involved and the licensing required. Is it reasonable? If it isn’t, don’t assume that it’s a take-it-or-leave-it situation. Most clients are willing to negotiate if you handle it in a thoughtful way. Determine what would make it work for you. Then try to understand which items are important to your client and which aren’t, so that you can make an offer that satisfies their needs without giving away the farm. For some clients, the rights are most important and they’ll be willing to bend on price. Other clients will have a strict limit on what they can spend and they will be more willing to negotiate the licensing. We were recently negotiating a contract with a casino whose legal department completely rewrote our contract. It didn’t take a genius to see what their priorities were. So rather than giving them limited licensing for a moderate fee, we gave them all the terms they wanted and simply raised the rate commensurately.

In another recent situation, we were presented with a contract from a custom publisher that specified that they could use all “works” created on the assignment for editorial use forever. We felt that the fee they were offering would be reasonable for their initial needs (which was four images), but that to have use of any or all of the images from the shoot was excessive. The photo editor was sympathetic to our concerns, but her legal department wasn’t willing to modify their contract. Then we saw that it was actually the assignment brief that defined what constituted the “works.” So the photo editor just rewrote the brief to define the “works” as just four images and specify that use of additional images would be negotiated separately (which they later were). This simple change was enough to satisfy the photographer, the photo editor and her legal folks too. A win-win-win.

Here’s an example of one magazine’s flat rate contract:

And here’s a flat rate contract template we use when the client doesn’t have their own contract (click here to download a Word version):

Most of the terms are similar to our day rate against space contract, except for paragraph 2:

COMPENSATION – The Client will pay the Photographer a flat fee, inclusive of all normal expenses, to be agreed upon per assignment, for a specified usage.

Once the contract is in place, all you have to settle on for each assignment is the fee and the usage. We’re normally comfortable with a simple email from the client saying, for example, that for xxxx.xx including expenses they would use a full-page opener plus an additional half-page picture.

There are a lot of limitations in the rest of the contract that you can negotiate to keep in or take out. But as with any contract, the main thing is to be clear about what you’re going to get and what they’re going to get.

For more information on Wonderful Machine’s consulting services, please contact Craig Oppenheimer at craig@wonderfulmachine.com or 610.260.0200.

Should Artists Be Entertainers?

- - Blog News

“Entertainers try to please their audience – artists do what they do and the audience comes to them. I don’t think about my audience whatsoever.”

Suddenly I felt like a cheap carnival hawker. Not only do I consider the audience for my work, I confess that I aim to entertain. Is this pathetic? I guess it depends on the definition of entertainment.


Professional Photography Is a Relationship Business

Check out this behind the scenes video where Kid Rock has this to say about Clay Patrick McBride:

I love working with Clay McBride, because it’s fast, he gets it done. If a light needs to be moved he grabs it himself, he’s pleasant to the people he works with hes nice of course he takes great pictures or he wouldn’t be here. Once I find a good thing I kind of stick with it. They’re always trying to get me to work with different people at every level and I’m like if somethings not broke we don’t got to reinvent the wheel here. I love Clays pictures, he’s take a lot of great shots for me throughout the years album covers, magazines and other sorts of stuff, he’s just a pleasant person to be around. I consider him a friend and we work well together.