The illusion of patronage

- - The Future

Along the lines of my “Camera Operators Wanted” post, Seth Godin tackles the idea that a writers job is no longer just to write:

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.

via The illusion of patronage.

What Is the Most Important Action You’ve Taken in Support of your Photography Business?

- - Blog News

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.

Ami Vitale

via PDNedu

This Week In Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

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

To purchase “This is Not a House” visit Photo-Eye

 

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

To purchase “Soldier/Many Wars” visit Photo-Eye

 

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

To purchase “La Creciente” 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.

Social Media Marketing Talk – PPE NYC Tomorrow

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.

The iPad Is A Distraction

- - Blog News

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.

Shooting Advertising With A Conscience

- - Working

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.

Scores Of Young And Inexperienced Photographers Descended On Libya

- - Blog News

“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.

via On Young Photographers and Conflict – NYTimes.com.

The Daily Edit – Wednesday 10.26.11

- - The Daily Edit

( click images to make bigger )

ESPN

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.

We Need To Do Better

- - Blog News

“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…

via Vincent Laforet’s Blog.

9th Annual Lucie Awards

- - Awards

The Lucie Awards were held last night. Always an exciting event because the honorees, presenters and nominees are the luminaries of the photography industry and the winners get to walk up on stage and accept a statue. Here are the winners:

International Photographer of the Year went to Majid Saeedi
Discovery of the Year Award went to Anna di Prospero
International Photographer of the Year – Deeper Perspective Award went to Daniel Beltrá
Picture Editor of the year went to Kira Pollack, Time Magazine
Photography Magazine of the Year went to ZOOM
Fashion Layout of the Year went to W Magazine for Tilda Swinton, photographed by Tim Walker
Book Publisher of the Year went to Chris Boot, Ltd for Infidel by Tim Hetherington
Photography Curator/Exhibition of the Year – Kohle Yohannan for Beauty Culture at the Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles

The 2011 honorees were:
Dawoud Bey for Achievement in Portraiture
Bill Eppridge for Achievement in Photojournalism
Rich Clarkson for Achievement in Sports
Nobuyoshi Araki for Achievement in Fine Art
Nancy McGirr and Fotokids for Humanitarian Award
Eli Reed for Achievement in Documentary Photography Award
The International Center of Photography received The 2011 Spotlight Award

Congratulations to everyone.

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.