William Hereford — Finding Success With Sponsored Videos

- - Video

by Grayson Schaffer

For New York–based William Hereford, 27, the former assistant of Chris Craymer, the breakthrough came two years ago with a short video called “Cooking Dinner”. Hereford calls the three-and-a-half minute clip “a technical test, an attempt to shoot video that acts like a still photograph.” He overlaid typography—the recipe instructions for roasted duck—onto the scenes so that the overall effect is sort of like a moving cookbook. The clip was viewed more than 30,000 times and led Hereford into the fuzzy and exploding world of advertorial—sponsored videos that give the viewer something both beautiful and useful but ultimately exist because they’ve got product to move.

GRAYSON: Explain the evolution of your business.
WILLIAM: After “Cooking Dinner,” the CEO of Meyer Corporation called my cell phone and left a message. That was unique; it was a sign of the developing market for this kind of thing. They said, “We really like this but if we just turn it into a commercial, it’ll never get as much attention as your original piece.” I told them I thought we should create content that looks like it was “sponsored by” and not “created for.” Now I throw those words around all the time when I meet with clients. If you want to succeed on the Web, the content needs to look as though it is sponsored content and not content that you created to advertise your specific product. Soft sell, soft sell, soft sell.

Or else make the hard sell. Everything in between is just crap. Some clients call and say, “We don’t want to push the product too hard, but we want to make sure it’s about the product.” And I always say, No, No, if you want to do this, either don’t be ashamed that you’re selling something (like these Old Spice commercials that are going around) or else produce something that looks editorial. And that’s what Anolon wanted. We shot 18 videos for them. The idea was just to show the product being used and shoot something that’s really beautiful to drive traffic to their site. I thought it would be great if we could let each consumer walk away with a service element—a recipe (See the videos here.).

GRAYSON: So what did Anolon do with videos?
WILLIAM: They used them as sponsored content on Saveur’s website [of which Hereford is also a contributor]. If readers of a magazine’s website like the content I’ve created, they’re also going to like the content I’ve created for Anolon. It makes sense for Anolon to advertise with Saveur; it makes sense for Saveur to pursue Anolon. That coupling allows us to have bigger budgets and create better content. I don’t think this was possible before Web videos.

GRAYSON: Where’s the market for this stuff?
WILLIAM: I recently went to a Women’s Wear Daily conference, and I was the only photographer there. It was all marketing people. There was a price to get in, so it was a big investment for me. I thought it was so perfect. I met someone who asked why I was there. I said, Last year 80 percent of my income came from advertorial.

GRAYSON: How do you price this stuff? Who’s to say what it’s worth?
WILLIAM: It’s still the wild West. The print industry has a pretty good structure, but well-produced video just costs more to make. You can’t shoot it with a still camera wrapped around your shoulder and hope that it looks great. Everyone is scrambling. You’ve got to create these pairings between products and editorial in order to get a budget that allows you to do it right.

We Must Admit That This Is Awesome

- - Blog News

Almost any half-decent reproduction of the Game of Madness or Blind Woman conveys their power. A photograph by definition is a reproduction rather than an original, a reproduction that carries and confronts us directly with an actual chemical trace of a human being in a particular place at a particular time. If we pause to think about that for a moment, we must admit that this is awesome, but it is an awesomeness of a totally different order to the painterly wonders of a Holbein or a Rembrandt.

via The Great Leap Sideways.

The Daily Edit – Monday
1.23.12

- - The Daily Edit

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New York Times Magazine

Design Director: Arem Duplessis
Director or Photography: Kathy Ryan
Art Director: Gail Bichler
Deputy Art Director: Caleb Bennett

Photographer: Pieter Hugo

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

This Week In Photography Books – Robert Adams

by Jonathan Blaustein

For all the controversial, opinionated, and edgy things I’ve written in the last couple of years, I think I’m about to put it all to shame. Here, now, I’m writing my first ever “book not reviewed.” Huh? What does that even mean?

By way of explanation, I should say that I’ve been sitting on a pristine, unopened copy of the new Robert Adams trilogy “The Place We Live,” recently released by Yale University Press. Much as it is akin to career suicide to criticize, let alone mention the Yale Photo Mafia, I’m committed to the path of honesty. Rob encouraged me to speak my truth, and here it goes.

I love Robert Adams’ best work. It’s transcendent. I even drove 700 miles to see the prints on the wall in the reconstructed “New Topographics” exhibition in 2010. Leaving the gorgeous galleries, I announced Adams’ work to be the best, and my three cohorts disagreed. (They voted for Baltz. Who’s now a Facebook friend of mine. What is the world coming to?) Anyway, I think Mr. Adams’ Colorado landscape images from the 1970’s are as important as any group of photographs we have.

The best images manage to walk the line between cerebral and emotional, subjective and objective, wistful and angry, optimistic and pessimistic. One can truly sense the presence of a man, standing on a spot of earth, perusing patiently through glass. And of course, anyone who grew up in a suburb, and then watched the subsequent residents slowly absorb the nature they craved…the work hits home. It was as prescient as it was picturesque.

So why have I been unable to cut the seal on these three books, sitting on my stack for two months now? That’s the question I’m asking myself, now, watching the ravens float through the sky in front of the purple, snow-covered mountains. For some reason, my inability to puncture the plastic seems more interesting here than the books would inevitably be. I feel a bit like Cameron guarding his Dad’s Ferrari. Best not to even touch it.

First of all, there’s the cost, I suppose. $250. For collectors only. Then, there’s the sense of grandiosity. Three books at once? From an artist who’s already had so many books published through the years? Thirdly, there’s the fact that I’ve already been scooped by Alec Soth and Fraction Magazine, both of whom published Mr. Adams’ work in the last month. Finally, I must admit that the sense of rebellion at not opening them is just too great for me to overcome.

That’s why I’m going with the “not review” here. Then, photo-eye can sell them to someone who will cherish them forever. Just like I cherish the memory of that art exhibition in Tucson. I’m certain the books would be great, so let’s not assume that I’m being critical here, I’m just going with the moment.

The reality is, this package in front of me is just too precious. It’s intimidating, like the Torah that I had to carry during my Bar Mitzvah in 1987. There I was, in the midst of becoming a man, rocking the hair gel, and all I could think about was what would happen to me if I dropped that f-cking gilded scroll. I think you have to fast for 40 days if it hits the ground, but I could be wrong. The Hebrew School training is finally starting to wear off.

Maybe I’m just afraid to write anything negative about one of the photography world’s true gods. I saw a small exhibition of his work at the Nevada Art Museum in the Fall, and felt like everything after 1990 was just not up to snuff. So if I don’t open the books, I won’t see the failures, and then I won’t have to write about them.

Or maybe I just like the idea of doing the absolutely unexpected, and not opening the books on general principle? (Like I don’t root for Tom Brady on GP. He’s just a pretty robot.) Regardless, I suppose this is a first for “This Week in Photography Books.” Come back next week, and I promise to talk about the images inside a book, instead of just the box. And if I wake up with a horse head in my bed on Saturday, I suppose that will confirm that the YPM is alive and well. Any contributions, in memoriam of my career, can be sent to the World Food Programme, courtesy of the UN.

Bottom Line: I chickened out of opening the damn thing, but it’s probably awesome

To Purchase The Place We Live 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.

National Geographic Seminar

- - Blog News

The day’s final presentation was eagerly awaited. David Lachapelle! Everyone was expecting slightly pretentious extravagance. We were going to show him, the King of Photoshop, what a “real” photo was. Every one was nicely surprised. Lachapelle was very much himself. Humble, funny, immensely cultivated, he shocked everyone! At the end of his interview, he showed us the making of his Pieta. When spectators realized there was NO photo manipulation involved, he triumphed!”

Jean-François Leroy via La Lettre de la Photographie.

The Daily Edit – Friday
1.20.12

- - The Daily Edit

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TimeOut New York

Design Director: Adam Logan Fulrath
Associate Art Director: Kathryn Brazier
Photo Editor: Jolie Ruben
Associate Photo Editor: Alex Strada

Photographer: Russ&Reyn

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

Heidi: Did you know TimeOut was going to publish the caption about cover with the guy/girl not using photoshop?
Russ&Reyn: No. But we liked it.

How many takes did you do to get that cover image with the guy/girl?
Only a few. The guy is incredibly strong and was able to do it with both arms.

Was the set hard to build for the inside shot, and how long were they able to hold those poses, looks tough. Is that also one image, no photoshop?
The bars were already in place. It was just a matter of us building the set around them. Each performer was different. Some could hold the pose longer than others. The image was choreographed and then, yes we photoshopped to fit each of the spaces.

Did you know they were going to run a double issue?
All we know is that we shot for one cover but they ran two. We think it was to increase visibility of the magazine.

 

SOPA And Photography

- - copyright

You have the DMCA so you don’t need SOPA (or PIPA).

Like many have suggested SOPA is like banning cars because bank robbers use them to get away. Overkill basically. And, in the wrong hands, ripe for abuse.

Also, there are some serious problems with the way SOPA is written, as Clay Shirky explains in the video below: It reverses the burdon of proof and doesn’t actually stop you from reaching a website. I think it will cause more problems than it solves.

Buuuuuuuuuut, let’s not kid ourselves here. As much as Hollywood and media conglomerates want to protect their businesses, Google and Facebook want to steal it. Nobody is fighting for your rights. They’re simply deciding who will be in control of the copyrighted material you produce.

This is a very difficult position for photographers to be in. You would like to take down rogue sites plastered with your copyrighted content when they don’t respond to DMCA notices and at the same time media conglomerates are finding ways to undermine your ability to make a living producing copyrighted content. Ultimately, I think it is best to not side with the Media Conglomerates. Their business model is dying. Breaking the internet will not fix it.

The Queen of Versailles

- - Blog News

The opening-night film comes to Sundance with the kind of publicity for which Harvey Weinstein would pay dearly. However, Lauren Greenfield’s genius move lay not in PR strategy but in her choice of subject. David Siegel’s the kind of guy who not only thinks it’s sensible to build a 90,000-square-foot mansion (just before the real estate bubble burst, as it happens), but also thinks it’s a good idea to file a lawsuit threatening Greenfield and Sundance the week before the film premieres, complaining that the movie makes him look bad. (Never mind that the attendant press attention and public record about his $11 million foreclosure in May 2011, serves to make him look… well, bad.) All that aside, Greenfield also has an eye for candy-colored disaster that is never anything less than incisive and entertaining.

via indieWIRE.

Still Images In Great Advertising – Danny Christensen

Still Images In Great Advertising, is a new column where Suzanne Sease discovers great advertising images and then speaks with the photographers about it.

Great Advertising is not only a print ad or billboard, it can be a vehicle that is not considered conventional. Today’s example is just that, a new show on E! called Scouted, which becomes an unconventional way to show a photographers work. I’m sure many will be critical of the show itself, but this is the reality of the business:

There are many people in this industry includes photo editors, art buyers and art directors who will watch and see Danny Christensen at work photographing and directing models. What better way to advertise how you shoot on set and then the final results in printed images. I reached out to Danny after watching the show to see if he would be interested in being a part of this series.

Suzanne: How did you get the opportunity to be the photographer of record for this program? I am sure they considered hundred’s of fashion photographers and you got the job, that is a great testament to your talent.
Danny: The executive producer and creator of the show, Michael Flutie, contacted my agent, Lorenzo at L&A Artists, and asked if I would be interested and requested a meeting. That was on a Tuesday, 7 days before the planned start of the filming the NYC part of the show. Originally, there was supposed to be 8 different photographers on the show, one for each episode of the first season. A few hours after the meeting they contacted my agent and requested a 2nd meeting the next day, where I was to meet the entire team of producers, including the guys from 51 Minds who produced the show and the Executive Producers from E!

The meeting went really well and Thursday morning they contacted us and asked if I was interested and able to do all 8 episodes – with pre-production meeting the following Monday! I guess I fit the bill of who they were looking for and I think a big part of it was my non-traditional look and feel to my work and my experience with motion, that Michael Flutie was keen on integrating in the shoots.

Suzanne: I have several clients who have been the photographers on Americas Next Top Model and it has been great for their careers. How have you seen changes in your business?
Danny: The response has been amazing. Especially the first couple of weeks here in 2012, where Season 1 episodes are coming to an end. I think everyone was waiting to see how the show developed and that the quality of my work, both the pictures and the videos was consistent.

I shot everything on the RED EPIC camera, so everything was shot in motion and we pulled still photos from the motion film with amazing results. It’s a quite new way to approach fashion and beauty photography. Additionally we cut together a fashion film clip that was shown to Scott from One Models the day after the filming, and Scott based his decision to sign the girls, both on the video and the stills. So, a lot of the response has been from clients who are interested in doing just that, filming a commercial/video component and shooting the stills.

Suzanne: Most the time you are working with young talent who have never been professionally photographed and to make it even more difficult, photographed for the first time on television. How do you work with them to get them to feel comfortable with the whole process? Is there a lot of unseen footage where you are coaching them? inspiring them? talking to them about the process?
Danny: It was very challenging for sure. I’ve worked with brand new talent many times before but as you mention, there is a crew of 30-40 people and 3-4 cameras on set for these shoots so most girls just froze like a deer in headlights when they came on set. I had to talk to the crew and we found a solution where only the people who had to be on set was there. That also included asking the girls parents and the scouts to wait off set, the girls simply couldn’t relax and I didn’t get a connection with them before the people they knew left the set. Then the girls were more relaxed and they connected with me and the camera.

When ever I could, I would go and say hi to them and introduce myself when they were in hair and make-up and I would explain a little about what we were going to do, but it was primarily to just break the ice before they came on set. I feel some times with brand new girls, it’s better to simply direct them on set rather than trying to explain them something before hand, that they don’t understand anyway. That normally only results in a girl trying to “model” as they might have seen online or on a tv show and that’s NOT going to work, especially in a video/motion piece.

In most cases, due to the production and time challenges, I didn’t even meet the girl beforehand and she would walk on set with the tv cameras rolling. That was really challenging ,but most of the girls warmed up after the first shot and we got beautiful pictures and videos.

What You don’t get a feel of on the show, because of the editing of the tv footage, is that I only had max 45 min filming time with each girl where we did 2-3 different looks. I have never done that before. Additionally, we had around 14 hours turn around time for final images plus edited and produced videos. It challenged me as a director and photographer and I feel I learned a lot from it. It forced me to practice and plan how I approached each girl, based on concept/look and a little profile video clip of each girl that the scouts provided me with – that was really exciting!

Danish-born Danny Christensen discovered his love for the visual arts working in advertising and PR in Copenhagen and New York. This passion for advertising led him to transition into fashion, portraiture, and fine-art photography during the following years. In 2006, Danny attended photography school in Denmark. He continued his creative journey in Paris where he assisted various fashion and portrait photographers It was also in Paris where Danny started started his career as a working photographer shooting, editorials, small commercial jobs, and film. Danny splits his time between New York and Copenhagen, Paris & Milan.

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 get afraid of making mistakes, you are toast

- - Blog News

A lot of what you do at National Geographic is you’re an arbiter or taste. And of course what we want to do, I don’t want to be elitist, unapproachable, inaccessible, but I want this to be an experience of high taste. That you can’t get any place else, and of course when you tap into that gut reaction knowing that there are times you’re going to be wrong, admit your wrong, move on, learn. It’s very analogous to being a photographer in a field, and everyday making decisions.

via Interview: Chris Johns, Editor, National Geographic Magazine | burn magazine.

The Daily Edit – Wednesday
1.18.12

- - The Daily Edit

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Runner’s World

Design Director: Kory Kennedy
Photo Editor: Andrea Maurio
Deputy Art Director: Marc Kauffman  

Photographer: Craig Cameron Olsen

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

 

Heidi: What are some of the hurdles when shooting elite athletes?
Craig: The biggest hurdle is their schedule. How much time I have with them sets the tone for everything else, and it can change on a dime, depending on training schedule or whether other photographers are shooting them as well the same day.

Does their training schedule influence what you can have them do, ie sprint, run stairs full blast…
Well schedule is followed closely by weather, weather dictates a lot.  I find the best tactic is to keep it moving, I have my set ups in mind, scouted ahead, and depending on the editor’s direction, I know where I want to take them.  I don’t like to get one shot, I like to play with the possibilities and get as much variety out of my time with someone.  With athletes it’s gotta keep moving or they get bored, tired, and it’s over.

Were the permits hard to get or did you run and gun it?
For Mo and Galen, Andrea Maurio at Runner’s World wanted open sky to lay type, and the story was about their partnership-training together. We were on the Nike Campus where they train, so permits were a non-issue.  We started on the oval track and then hit a spot I found on the cross-country track through the woods.  I found a soccer ball on my scout and picked it up as a souvenir for my son, and it turns out Mo was a big soccer fan, so after the first couple set ups, he saw the ball and started playing…punting it back and forth with Galen, then the next moment they were hitting it each other with it and the spirit of their partnership really came through…and that’s the moment we were all looking for.

Christopher Anderson- Return of the Staff Photographer

by Grayson Schaffer

On Tuesday, New York Magazine announced that it had signed longtime contributor and well-known photojournalist Christopher Anderson as the weekly magazine’s first-ever “photographer-in-residence.” In a statement released to the British Journal of Photography, New York said the 41-year-old Brooklyn-based shooter would tackle a “broad array of subjects in a full range of styles, from photojournalism to portraiture to conceptual work.” Anderson will now work exclusively for New York, at least where print magazines are concerned. The odd thing, here, is that the era of the staff photographer was supposed to have ended when National Geographic gradually moved away from the practice. We called Anderson to try and make sense of the sudden turn of events.

Grayson: Congrats. We thought the staff photographer position had gone the way of the film camera, what happened?
Christopher: I’ve had a close collaboration with [photography director] Jody Quon and [editor] Adam Moss for quite some time. They came to me and asked if I would consider taking this kind of position as an experiment—a way to reaffirm the magazine’s commitment to exciting photography. It’s a great opportunity.

Grayson: What are the specifics of the arrangement that you can share?
Christopher: The amount of time is, as of yet, undetermined. We’re going to see how it goes for at least a year.

Grayson: As much as you can produce for them? Are you like an all-you-can-eat buffet of photography?
Christopher: Well this is the real world, and of course they’re going to want to use me as much as they can. It is, in that sense, an all-you-can-eat buffet. But I don’t think that was the point. The idea wasn’t to say “Let’s put him on staff so we can use him up as much as we can.” The point was to have my undivided attention. We want to see if working together in a concentrated way like this can produce some interesting work over time.

Grayson: So it looks more like a professor’s chair than a hamster wheel.
Christopher: Right. They have my undivided attention, but I also have theirs. As a freelance photographer, you spend a lot of time trying to drum up business—shooting just to eat. Now I feel like I can focus on the creative side. I genuinely like working with that magazine, and I love the current projects they’re presenting me with. You might think your hands would be tied and you’re owned by them, but in a weird way I feel much freer.

Grayson: Why do you think staff jobs went away in the first place?
Christopher: There were never many to begin with, though there were some contracts. I used to be on contract at Newsweek. But the implosion of the publishing industry in general, and the photography industry specifically, led to the end of that practice. In the end, it’s cheaper for magazines to use freelancers. It makes economic sense.

Grayson: So how does this arrangement make economic sense?
Christopher: I don’t know that it does. It’s kind of an experiment. But my sense is it’s not about economics. It’s hard to put an exact price on the value of this kind of collaboration. This is more about a creative partnership. I think that they’ve looked at models of how this is done before, particularly by the New Yorker. That magazine has had a long tradition of staff photographers over the years: Richard Avedon, Gilles Peress… and I think this is sort of that New Yorker model where it’s about letting my identity stay independent, even though I’ll be attached to the magazine.

Grayson: They’ll probably end up with some great work to show for it.
Christopher: I hope that that will be true. I also hope that I can produce some great work for myself. I see this as a mutually beneficial relationship.

Can I earn a living as an actor?

- - Blog News

It may take several years for a beginner to earn a living as a performer. You must have a substantial cushion of savings to fund your quest and/or secure consistent alternate work to support you during the early stages of your career.Even the most talented performers may do everything right and still not end up with acting jobs. Success in this business is an unpredictable combination of talent, training, residence, “look”, energy, attitude, and the completely uncontrollable factor — luck!You must not take rejection personally! Even a working professional may not earn their income performing in just one medium.

via Getting Started as an Actor FAQ | Screen Actors Guild.

The Daily Edit – Monday
1.16.11

- - The Daily Edit

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Vman

Editor-in-Chief / Creative Director: Stephen Gan
Photo Editor: Evelien Joos
Consulting Creative / Design Direction: Greg Foley
Art Director: Sandra Kang
Design: Maryellen McGoldrick, Jeffrey Burch

Photographer: Damien Blottiere

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

This Week In Photography Books – Léonie Hampton

by Jonathan Blaustein

For some time now, I’ve wanted to write about why Art matters. On the heels of the high-minded and perhaps overly serious interview I conducted with Jörg Colberg, it’s been on my mind. It’s one thing to exclaim “The World Needs More Art,” and quite another to explain why.

As I’ve repeated endlessly and perhaps obnoxiously, I went to art school in New York. And throughout the entire process, I came to believe that Art can be anything. Photographs, paintings, food, music, objects, dance, ideas: it’s all on the table. The intention is what matters. If you declare something to be art, then it is. From there, of course, the difficult job is to determine what the “Art” means, and if it’s any good or not. Clearly, this is a subjective process. Ultimately, what’s seen as “great” or “the best” varies pretty widely, depending on the audience.

Some work ends up in the Met or the Louvre, some on the walls of a small café, and much of it never leaves the home of it’s creator. So the next question is, why do people do it? Ed Burtynsky said he felt making things to be a part of his DNA, and I’ve heard that many times before. Most artists, myself included, make things because they must. In my own case, if I don’t have the time and/or energy to work on creative output, my personality changes… for the worse. (I turn into a cranky bitch, if you must know.)

And that’s where we start to get into the real reason why people create. Because, after all, Art-making is really just about the exercise of creativity. All kids do it, and then it’s socialized out of most everyone. We random rebels and infidels are left to color and draw as adults, with our goatees and over-inflated egos. Right?

Not exactly. I don’t advertise it, but I’ve been teaching at-risk high school students for almost seven years. My students come from very difficult families and situations. Some are involved in gang activity and drug dealing. Others have become pregnant during the term. It’s a tough but smart group of kids. I learn every week, and have to be flexible to make it work. But work it does, and here’s why.

The secret is that making Art, creating things, is a transformative process. The act of creation takes certain elements of our psyche, energy, if you will, and morphs it out of our heads and into the real world. Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, but it can be alchemized. The reason why Art works so well in therapy is that it allows for negative energy and/or trauma to be cleared out of our heads, and turned into something productive, without having to speak about things literally. Pictures can communicate energy without words, and in so doing, can tell stories that would be otherwise stuck in the murky world of the subconscious. The act of creation is akin to shining light on our shadows, (Jung again) and it enables the creator the opportunity to move on. Catharsis.

I’ve struggled with whether to write this, as I’m aware that to many it will seem like New Age nonsense from a Taos hippie. I get it. But at the same time, I’ve gone all in, as it were, discussing Art each and every week, so I thought it was only appropriate to explain why. Before I discovered photography, I was an up-tight, insecure, very lost little Jersey boy. Then, once I found a method to channel my anxiety and angst into something tangible, everything fell into place. (And now I feed food scraps to the coyotes.)

Speaking of shadows, in my stack of books this week, I found “In the Shadow of Things,” a new book by Léonie Hampton, published in Rome by Contrasto Books. (It was funded through The F Award for documentary photography.) It seems the perfect example of what I’m trying so earnestly to explicate. The long, rambling photographic narrative is difficult to pin down, but within a the first few images, we know this is a family. Of hoarders, perhaps? But definitely a family, and something is awry.

Throughout the photo section of the book, I never quite sorted out what the deal was. But I didn’t mind, as the pictures were so good. Enchanting, really. Very well made, and in that terrific style where everything seems important, and it’s all done with the proper mood. A woman in a red dress flies through the air into a pile of clothes. (Yves Klein, in bizzaro world.) Varicose veins above slippers, feathers in a young boy’s hair, crumpled toilet paper, ice on a frozen swimming pool, freshly cut wet hair on a bare shoulder.

Finally, in the end, I turned to the text at the back. I knew enough to enjoy the book, to relish the ambiguity, to push towards the answer, and ultimately to realize it didn’t matter. I could love the photographs, and feel the artist’s emotional tenor, without knowing why. That’s why art matters. Because it represents a world without clear answers. Which is the world in which we live.

The text, dense and long, presents a transcript of interviews between the artist and her family. Primarily her mother, the odd woman featured in so many of the photographs. She’s got OCD, and I suppose we’d call her mentally ill. The entire book, seen in this context, is a document of the artist’s family life. One can imagine why Ms. Hampton felt compelled to push into the misery of insanity. It’s her environment, and perhaps her genetic inheritance. But all that confusion makes sense, when seen photographically, and I’m willing to speculate that the artist understands her life a little better, having undertaken the endeavor.

It’s well established that not everyone agrees with me, nor should they. I’m aware that when I make these grand pronouncements, offer myself as an expert on the ineffable, that it can come across as arrogant. I’m willing to take that risk. But from here on in, let’s not have any confusion about what Art is. It’s anything. It’s most often made, but can sometimes be found. And I’d encourage us all to make as much as we can. Because even if it’s bad, just one more photo of a rusted old truck, there’s still value in the effort.
Botom Line: Illness, wonderfully rendered

To Purchase In the Shadow of Things 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.

What Is The Most Difficult Thing For You About Your Photography?

- - Blog News

I don’t like to hurt people. I go after something and I start pointing the camera at somebody, looking for those hard, edgy things I know I am going to find. My pictures will be out of bounds in terms of the convention of how this person wants to be represented. It gives me pause. I don’t feel I have the right to do that. But I do it nevertheless. After all, a picture is not a murder. It is simply a moment which suggests so many things.

via A Moment With Larry Fink – NYTimes.com.