This Week In Photography Books: Stephen Gill

by Jonathan Blaustein

It’s Thursday, which means this column is due later today. Unfortunately, the writing will be sub-standard. We all know things are better once they’ve had some time to marinate, whether it’s pictures or words or chicken teriyaki.

My apologies. It couldn’t be helped. This has been one crazy mother f-ing week, and last week was just as challenging.

Have you ever found yourself in a phase where you were forced to stand by your words? When it seemed like the Cosmos was waking up each morning with the express intention of testing you to your core? Checking whether you actually had the stones to follow through on a promise?

Welcome to my world.

Yesterday was one of the hardest days I’ve had in a while. It began at 6:30 am, with a prompt wakeup by my ever-energetic son. Lots of errands, paying bills, getting the kids off to school. Then I had to teach a class. (Got a new student, too, so it was back to square one.)

From there, still more errands, then a trip to Santa Fe to drop off a picture for a show, and pick up more books with which I can entertain you. (We hope. I always wonder if I might have a day where I’m more obnoxious then helpful.)

Then, and only then, did I drive to Albuquerque to be interviewed for a PBS television show about my project “The Value of a Dollar.” I’d sworn to the producer at the outset that I’d be helpful, relaxed and engaging. The perfect subject, I assured her.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “No matter what, I’ll be low-maintenance.”
(Cue the ominous foreshadowing music in your head.)

The shoot went well, and then after a quick beer with a friend, I drove the nearly 3 hours back home at night. The big moon lit the road, but I was too busy trying not to have my brains fall out of my ears to notice its beauty.

I’m done, I reminded myself. Done. I did it.
It’s over.

The phone rang early this morning, and I missed the call. I noticed the 505 area code, and realized it was the aforementioned producer. Calling to congratulate me, I wondered?

No such luck. It seems one of the cameras wasn’t working right, and we have to shoot the whole interview over again. I took a deep breath, smiled, and told her “No problem. I’ll do even better the next time.”

Inside, my soul was crying like an inexperienced actor. Deep, overly-emotional sobs, with a shaking chest. But I pretended not to notice, and just got on with being a good sport.

It’s one of those core life lessons, I think. If you do the hard work, and push yourself, your life will be richer, and your pictures will improve too.

Some of those lessons, once learned, are hard to unlearn. With respect to photography, one of the classics I picked up years ago was to try to put the camera in odd and unexpected places. (I tell my beginning students that every semester.)

Be creative where you put the camera. Up high, down low, and into the randomest corners you can find. In fact, I said it just yesterday, to that new student. His classmates concurred, assuring him they’d already stuck their cameras inside nasty holes in the wall, into the musty innards of their school’s structure.

They loved the resulting pictures, and encouraged their new colleague to do the same.

Because as many of us know, when you stick the camera into wacky places, you never know what you’ll find. (Or what boring subject the camera will transform into a bit of ephemeral magic.)

Such is the case with “Pigeons,” a new book by Stephen Gill, published last year by the Archive of Modern Conflict in London. Now, I know that bird pictures, and bird books, are something of a cliché. Like I’m always saying about boobs, birds also sell books.

But we’ve never seen a bird book like this one. Oh no. I’m quite confident of that. Because Mr. Gill stuck his camera into some pretty nasty and dodgy crevices. Under girders, around steel beams. Up where these grayscale flying rats reside, when they’re not busy pooping on statues and cooing you to sleep at night.

While I might have gone out of my comfort zone with last week’s book, this one is right in line with what I normally like to show. It’s innovative, strange, and likable in it’s funky ugliness. A great idea, well executed, will always grab my attention.

The use of shallow depth of field is strong, as it highlights the awkward textures inside the birds’ nests. You almost feel the cold and damp, but in a good way. (It won’t make you Siri up the EasyJet website to see how cheaply you can get to Sevilla next Wednesday.)

Personally, I hate vermin. Some mice have just eaten the wiring to my car’s speedometer for the second time in a few months. It’s going to cost me a couple of hundred bucks to fix. Little bastards.

Pigeons I don’t mind so much. Probably because we don’t have any here in the mountains. (And if we did, we’d likely call them doves.) I get to look at magpies, ravens and eagles instead. Now I’m wondering what their homes look like, and hoping some enterprising photographer will show me where they hide.

Bottom Line: Very cool look inside pigeons domiciles.

To Purchase “Pigeons” Visit Photo-Eye.














Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.

Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.

The Art of the Personal Project: Tosca Radigonda

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Tosca Radigonda























How long have you been shooting?
I took a photography class when I was 14 and never stopped. I started shooting editorial in Milan in the late 80’s and then commercially in The States in 1994.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I have a BFA from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I feel like my style evolved directly from my experiences in Italy. When I started out testing in Milan I did not have a budget to purchase or rent equipment, so I learned how to shoot everything using natural light.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I went to Milan when I was 22 with dreams of becoming a fashion photographer. It was a time before cell phones, or sharing images on social media and the world was a lot bigger back then. My ideas of Italy were from traditional postcard images or from my own Italian American upbringing. Once I got to Milan it was an entire other world! After navigating my way through the culture shock, and finally surrendering to Italian lifestyle I fell deeply in love with Italy. I thought I would stay for 6 months but ended up staying for 6 years. During my time living in Milan, and after when I would go back I found myself completely submerged in the feeling and charm of Italian lifestyle.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
Seven years ago a close friend from Milan asked me to shoot a very personal cookbook she wrote about her family and that’s when I started to put together this project. I always loved the images but was unsure about how they would be received since my work is children’s lifestyle. I started out by including a few Italy images in my portfolio, and that was followed by people asking to see more.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Most of the time it is immediate, but I also love how shooting personal projects sometimes gives us the luxury we need to step back, revisit and really have a look.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
The subjects are different but the approach is the same. Either way, I like to be an engaged fly on the wall and photograph simple beauty. I started out shooting fashion the same way, which evolved into photographing babies and children, so I guess you never really know where a project might take you creatively.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I am a newcomer to social media, but I really enjoy Instagram and the loose feel of posting daily images.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
No my social media experience is still new but I can imagine that would be exciting.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I recently put together a handsewn book of the Italy images, and I love to share this book with art buyers and creatives after I show my portfolio. I usually ask if they have time and would like to see a personal project. I post the stories on my website, and send out emails when there is a new project.

Artist Statement-

The time I spent in Italy on my own as a young photographer, learning my way in challenging circumstances was the most valuable experience I ever could have had. I wanted the images in this project to convey the love, passion, and closeness I feel for this beautiful country.


Tosca’s rewarding experience began as a young photographer in Milan shooting fashion. Yet in a beautiful swirl of fate, an art director, sensing her ability to capture the magic of children, gave her an assignment that marked a dramatic turn in her career. Tosca is based in Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband and son.

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. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Sarah Silver Interview

- - Photographers

Jonathan Blaustein: Your bio states that you were born in Tokyo, but your parents are American?

Sarah Silver: Yes, my parents are American. My father was teaching there at the time, but he’s been working internationally for years, and is currently based in Sydney.

I basically spent my entire life visiting him, though I grew up in Chicago. I traveled extensively as a kid.

When I was finally able to make an adult choice as what to do, I spent a year living in the Middle East, while I was studying at Vassar for my undergrad.

JB: Vassar? My wife went there.

SS: To Vassar?

JB: Yeah. But I won’t date you. If I ask you what year you graduated, I’m automatically dating you. So I’m not going to do that.


JB: What was your college experience like?

SS: I was a very serious student. I spent a lot of time in the library doing homework. I think I was one of those students that took every assignment and said, “Yes, I completed it 100%.”

But every minute I wasn’t studying, I spent in the darkroom at school. At the time, Vassar didn’t offer a photography department, so I pretty much created classes and taught them to students. While spending every waking free moment printing.

And inhaling chemicals.

JB: Which may or may not have anything to do with your…

SS: …current state of mind? My grandfather was a baby photographer in Michigan from the 50’s through the 80’s. He had a darkroom in his basement, and my earliest childhood memories are of printing with him.

He would show me how to vignette baby photos. My coloring books, all through growing up, were black and white pictures, and I would take the oil pencils to draw onto them. He showed me how to change the color of things. I always though it was fun to make the colors unrealistic.

When I told my grandmother I was going to become a photographer, the first thing she thought was, “Oh God, not those stinky chemicals.”

JB: (laughing) Little did she know, the digital revolution was just around the corner.

SS: When I was coming up through grad school, I had the choice of going straight digital, or keeping with film. It was still that time when you could have a choice. Now, it’s not even a conversation.

I was a big nerd anyway, so the digital darkroom was something I was always a fan of. Luckily, no chemicals for me.

I went to grad school at SVA, and spent all the rest of my waking hours printing color. Which is really fun, except you’re completely in the dark.

JB: I feel you. I did a stint in a chromogenic darkroom as well. And what about after school? How did you get into fashion in particular?

SS: I started working as a photo journalist in the Middle East. That year abroad, at Vassar, I worked for a not-for-profit organization in Israel that would send me all over the country, and abroad. I spent some time in Ukraine, shooting all of these projects they funded.

For instance, I went to Ukraine to shoot a federation of Jews from the US who came to see where some of their ancestors had been saved by righteous gentiles during World War II. We visited the now-defunct Jewish community where they came from. It was pretty awesome.

I loved working as a photojournalist, and was honored that I didn’t even have a portfolio, but the company that I worked for just cared that I was coming from a place of interest. It was basically how I built my portfolio.

I had no experience in photography. I have a degree in Middle East studies from Vassar.

JB: Right.

SS: Which is awesome. But it’s not a photo major. So after I graduated, I went right to SVA, which was the best decision I ever made. Because not only was I learning all the technical stuff that I had missed, but I also got a full Masters of Fine Art, which has all the trappings of art, film and history. All the things I think me a better visual thinker now.

JB: Absolutely.

SS: I would never trade the MFA for anything. I’m a proponent of education. First of all, you should never stop learning. You don’t need a degree to be a photographer, but I loved it.

JB: Hearing your background, it sounds like you took the long and winding road. But now, you’re in an exclusive niche in the industry, working with fashion, that most people don’t know that much about…

SS: As much as I loved Middle East studies, my other passion was Dance. Although I am a severely challenged and failed dancer. I took ballet for a long time. In fact, tomorrow we’re shooting this company that I’ve been shooting since grad school. I still shoot the same company I did my thesis on, every year.

I love movement, and I think that fashion and movement are best friends. Clothing becomes alive, and the model becomes energized.

When I was finishing grad school, my focus was on the history of dance photography, so it was a really easy transition. It has trickled down into everything I do.

I do “movement hair” in hair shoots, and “movement beauty,” in beauty shoots, and “movement fashion” in fashion shoots.

It brings energy to a picture. If you can hear the “Boom! Bang!” sound of the energy coming through, that’s always moved me.

JB: I had a sneaking suspicion, and it even made it onto my question list, as to whether you had a background in dance. So I’m glad you answered that for me.

Before we move on, though, I have a technical question, even if it makes me look stupid. There always seems to be a distinction between beauty and fashion, but I don’t get it. Is it just that beauty represents close-up portraiture, and fashion represents stepping back and showing clothing? Is it as simple as that?

SS: It can be.

JB: So what’s it about then?

SS: I shoot a lot of fashion, a lot of beauty, and a lot of hair, which is technically its own genre, if you want to get specific.

JB: Sure. Let’s get specific.

SS: If you’re a fine artist, I think you can blur the lines. But ultimately, if someone’s commissioning you to take a picture, the genre is defined by what the focus is.

So fashion photography is about fashion. It’s about the clothing. Beauty photography is often about the product being photographed. AKA, mascara.

JB: Makeup. There it is. That’s what I didn’t get.

SS: So if we’re doing a big hair shoot, then your focus is on the hair. Yes, it’s also about the model, and her energy, because it’s all about the talent. But it’s also all about the hair.

Shiny, beautiful, bouncy. Or straight. Blonde or brunette. Ultimately, you need a coherent, beautiful visual, but you always have a nod to the subject.

I love the distinctions, and I’ve turned into a sort-of product-crazy junkie. I love shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, and mascara. I love playing with the products that I shoot, which I think is one of the coolest things about being a woman in this industry.

I am the target audience, 99% of the time. I’m not ashamed to admit it but I have stayed home, nights, and played with every mascara in my drawer.

Do you even know the difference between a volumizing and a lengthening mascara?

JB: I definitely don’t. I most certainly don’t.

SS: Exactly.

JB: (laughing.)

SS: Wow. I am the target audience. And I love it.

JB: So then you must get more free shit than you can possibly imagine?

SS: You never have enough money, or enough free shit from photo shoots. Period. Exclamation point.

JB: (laughing.) Period. Exclamation point. Never enough free shit. On the record.

SS: And nail polish. Listen, before I walked into this industry, way back in the day, I was a student who loved to spend time in the library, and loved to read, and do my homework. But I also loved to bite my nails.

But now, every day, I have a perfect manicure, because I turned into a nail shooter. So in some ways, the industry has changed me, and I feel like hopefully I’ve had an influence on the visuals as well.

JB: Well, speaking of visuals, and movement, I noticed on your website that you’ve got a couple of short films posted, so I watched them.

With the music kicking, and the dancing, it made me wonder if you weren’t interested in directing music videos some day, especially as the technology has converged?

SS: I love directing, and technology is moving so fast. I remember being on set, for the photographer I was interning with, when the first digital backs came along, and I was the only one who knew how to use the computers.

Then, video became more prevalent on still shoots, and now I just get hired for video, straight up.

But my theory in life is, if you never say no, then the opportunities are endless. So, would I direct a music video? Absolutely.

If the opportunity presents itself, the answer is, of course. And when you think about directing, the genre of the early music video has influenced all filmmakers, right?

JB: Even people who are coming out with their first feature film, you look at their bios, and they shot music videos, or they worked in commercials.

SS: I’m the early MTV generation. We won’t age me in this interview, but I remember early MTV, and it was art. When you look at the early music videos, there’s some genius stuff going on. They were paving the way for new forms of visual art in the mainstream.

MTV. My God, right? And then VH1. When you’re talking about the medium of film, it’s impossible not to talk about the music video.

JB: So I guess that means that I zeroed in on an inspiration appropriately?

SS: Sure.

JB: Hell yeah.

SS: I’m so inspired. I grew up in Chicago, and music was a really big deal. I’m an ex-Goth, as much as my mother hated it.

JB: We really are learning a lot about you.

SS: Now I have to wear black clothing, because that’s all we wear on set, right?

JB: You were a Goth, and a nerd, and a journalist in the Middle East, and now you’re addicted to beauty products?

SS: Hang on. Wait a second. If you were a good Goth, you had lots of eye-liner on. I just got better at applying it.

JB: There it is.

SS: Being a Goth-punk in Chicago, with all the music, and the cool stuff that happened, I wasn’t nearly as cool as the kids with the half-shaved head and the dyed black hair. I was kind-of the suburban version, that I could get away with, walking out of my house.

Did you ever spend any time in Chicago?

JB: Next to none.

SS: I’m allowed to ask how old you are, because you’re a boy. How old are you?

JB: I’m 40.

SS: Seriously, it was so, so cool back then. And all the clubs we went to, there was always a film playing, by Ministry, or someone like that. It was really ahead of its time.

I was obsessed with music. So we would go downtown and buy CD’s, because they were just becoming popular.

JB: If you would have said cassette tapes, you really would have dated yourself. We’re dancing around the issue.

SS: Yes, I remember cassette tapes. The minute CD’s came, because they were bigger, I became obsessed with the artwork. There are some seminal visuals that I can tell you, 100%, made me want to become a photographer. The Cocteau Twins. The Pixies. This Mortal Coil had a beautiful cover and inset, an album called “Blood.”

People were using photography, but it wasn’t in a gallery, and it wasn’t untouchable. You would look at the booklets, and you would look at the art.

Do you remember Lenny Kravitz’s “Mama Said?”

JB: Sure.

SS: All that amazing black and white photography? I wanted to do that. It was fashion, and it was cool. It was celebrity. Wow. It blew my mind.

JB: Well, in a very short time, I think we’ve gotten a pretty good sense of how you became you. That’s pretty badass.

SS: Yeah. I will tell you, this is the first ever interview that really talked about that music influence in my life. I don’t think I ever made that connection until you led me there.

Thank you.

JB: You’re welcome.

SS: I really do like that. It’s funny. I was a Goth-punk, and now I love eyeliner. But I just got better at it. (laughing.) I got more sophisticated.

JB: I read that one of the things you do for inspiration in New York, beyond looking at art, is taking super-long walks around the city. People watching. So few of us have time to do that, and it’s such a joy.

What do you think about all the changes over the years?

SS: I’ve been in this city for a long time now. And I never didn’t think I was going to end up here. From the first time I ever came to New York, which must have been when I was 9.

I used to dream about New York. There was never a question that I was coming here. Vassar was really close to the city, and I was inspired by all the kids I went to school with who grew up here.

But the city has changed. I loved the seediness of it, and I love the off-the-beaten path places too.

JB: That’s why I’m asking.

SS: I don’t know the first thing about Chicago, and I lived there for 17 years. But I can tell you literally every little detail of every little corner I’ve traveled in New York City. Every once in a while, I’ll take myself to a neighborhood I don’t know well, and I’ll try to get lost.

I’ll never forget the first time I visited every neighborhood in New York, and I’ll never be able to have that experience again. I get delighted by finding things I don’t know.

I like to celebrate the city, because it took me in.

JB: What’s your favorite little down-low micro-hood?

SS: What I’m obsessed with these days is Japan-town. All the little restaurants. Everyone who comes on set with me, I make them write down their top three Japanese restaurants, and invariably, they’re in the same four block radius.

JB: Where is Japan-town?

SS: 9th Street, between 2nd and 3rd. There’s also a Japanese grocery store on the second floor of 3rd Avenue and 9th St. Restaurants come and go, but it still feels right, for me. It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods.

I love biking around the city too. I’ve lived in so many spots over. . . I’m not saying how many years.

JB: Right. You’re in the fashion industry, so we’re both working really hard to allude to time periods without giving anybody anything specific.

SS: I know.

JB: We’re going to stick to it. Don’t you worry. I’m a classy guy.

SS: (laughing) I can tell. The other thing I do that is so throwback is I will put on a playlist, and walk for hours. I just kind of look at things. My hunger for visuals has never abated in my time here. I stare out the window, and I love to take buses, because you’re above ground, and you get to see everything.

JB: I noticed that across your career, you managed to work with both “America’s Next Top Model,” and “Project Runway.” Is that true?

SS: Yes.

JB: OK. I’ve got a crazy question. Tyra Banks. Heidi Klum. They’re tall. They’re fit. They’re moguls as well as models. In a throw-down, who wins in a fight? Tyra or Heidi?

SS: (pause.) You know, I really think I can’t speak to that, because Heidi and I were never on set together.


SS: It’s funny, but I will always be the diplomatic one. I’ve actually had a lot of experience with Tyra. I’ve shot her personally, as well as for her show. It would be so much fun to make some sort of comparison, but I feel like I’m not really qualified to do so.

I will say that Tyra Banks is one of the most remarkable people I have ever met. Every single time I see her, on her show too, she comes up to me, she knows where my family lives. She remembers what my mother likes. She asks me if I changed my hair. She remembers every little detail.

She blows my mind. Every single time.

JB: It’s a great little tip, as far as how super-successful people behave. You answered that question diplomatically, which kind of took my legs out. Because it was a ridiculous question. Come on, now. Give me a little credit. They’re not really going to fight…it was meant to be funny, but you took it so seriously that I feel embarrassed.

You didn’t give me anything.

SS: No, no. If you were to here in person with me, you would know that it’s as far away from my personality as you could possibly get. I’m a light-hearted person, but you won’t usually be able to get a comment like that out of me.

JB: Fair enough.

SS: There won’t be a sound bite.

JB: OK. There won’t be a sound bite about Tyra knocking out Heidi in the octagon. It was a joke, obviously, but we did get a bit of insight into how people roll when they’re that good at their job.

I’ve been teaching college to high school students for a long time now, and I’ve used “America’s Next Top Model” as a reference point for them. When we talk about portraiture, and I’m discussing how to bring emotion into a subject’s eyes, to create that energy.

I used to watch the show, back in the day, so I’ll say to them, you know how Tyra says you’ve got to make the eyes look “fierce?” It works.

SS: She knows what she’s talking about. And not only does she talk a good talk, but she does it herself. When we’re on set, and I’ve shot her, she owns it. She’ll look at me and say, “Sarah, I think I’ve got it.”

She’s the best editor I’ve ever worked with, who’s also the subject of the photos.

JB: Big Shout Out to Tyra.

SS: Shout out.

JB: Well, we’ve talked about New York and Chicago. What I want to know now is, have you ever been to Santa Fe?

SS: No.

JB: Never?

SS: No. It’s really exciting. Santa Fe has always been on the list of places I wanted to go, but I didn’t know how I would get there.

What was going to bring me there? Being invited to Santa Fe was an opportunity to experience a new city, but I love nothing more than working. So this is the best of both worlds.

JB: Let me explain what we’re talking about. This interview, like several I’ve done over the last few years, is being sponsored by the Santa Fe Workshops. They’re my buddies. I’m up here in Taos, they’re just down the road, and everyone knows they do a great job.

You’re coming out to do a workshop for them in March that is titled, “Movement in Fashion, Beauty and Dance.” Is this the first time you’ve taught this workshop? What is this going to be for you, beyond your first opportunity to come to Santa Fe?

SS: Both my parents were teachers, and my father taught at the graduate level. Being raised by teachers, everybody’s always explaining the “whys” of everything, because they think that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Being a teacher was an obvious part of my life as a creator, no matter what. One of the reasons why I went for a Masters degree is then you can teach at the college level, which I always wanted to be able to do.

The minute I graduated from grad school, I told them, “Use me.” SVA certainly has, and all the photo schools in New York have. I also have interns, and I’m really into them. I think teaching the next generation is so important. If you can teach, you must. Must, must, must.

JB: What is this workshop going to be like? What do you have planned for your students?

SS: I basically took my three favorite subjects, beauty, movement and fashion, and took one day each to focus on each. The way we have it structured, you can start to see how there’s crossover on all three.

Everybody loves the opportunity to shoot a dancer, and everybody loves the opportunity to go in close and shoot a beautiful face. And talking about all the ways I have found to really get up in there and make beautiful visuals. But also to understand the ideas behind it.

By teaching my own personal workflow, I think it will make a lot of sense for most of the students to see there’s a lot of methodology in the way I shoot. There’s a lot of thought that goes behind it.

You can’t really take beautiful pictures unless you understand why they’re beautiful. Why you do what you do.

JB: Are you going to be working exclusively in studio?

SS: Yes, exclusively in studio. I wanted the maximum amount of time to teach, and I didn’t want to lose even one minute of travel time. So I decided to teach more and travel less.

JB: Efficient. I can dig it. And what about New Mexico? What are you excited to see yourself? This is kind of a mythical place…

SS: That’s what everyone keeps saying. The funny thing is, I have a feeling that every picture I’ve ever seen, and all the descriptions, don’t really do it justice. I know it’s an important art town, and that, visually, it’s supposed to be beyond stunning. Everybody always talks about the colors and light being vastly different than anything you’d experience on the Eastern Seaboard.

I’m sure being in uncharted territory will also inspire me, concurrently, while teaching, because you do learn so much while teaching. It’s going to have a big impact on me. I can already tell.

JB: You’re excited.

SS: Super-excited. Listen, this is a huge honor. And I keep getting emails from people saying, “Oh my god, you’re doing a Santa Fe Workshop?” Literally, I got one yesterday.

Awesome. Yes I am.

JB: (laughing.) “Awesome. Yes I am.” And then you pound the table with your fist. Right?

SS: Completely. If one student walks out and says, “Eureka,” I’ve done a good job. If everyone walks out and says “Eureka…”

JB: Then you ask for a raise.

SS: (pause) It’s not about the money. Right?

JB: (laughing) Of course. So now we know how you broke into fashion. I think most people associate the industry with Fashion Week, and red carpets. Velvet ropes.

In 2015, how would you talk to younger people about legitimately breaking into a world that seems so shut off from everybody else?

SS: This is a question that I get asked all the time.

JB: I’m sure. I’m not saying every question I’m going to ask is original, but people want to know.

SS: They do. New York is a city of opportunity. Every visual person, and you don’t even have to be a student, if you have a strong vision, and a really good work ethic, I think you have a pretty good shot of doing something worthwhile here.

The best piece of advice I would give anybody, and I give it to myself, is that you have to be diligent, and work really, really, really hard. Because lots of people are creative, and lots of people have good ideas, but it’s the ones who keep at it, and keep at it. Every day is a new challenge.

My first lesson to new students is that if you’re complacent, then everyone can smell it. And if you don’t care, then why should I care?

If you wake up every morning with purpose and drive, and you work really, really, really hard, good things come back to you. Even though this is one of the hardest cities to make it in, in any field.

JB: I remember when I first moved there, something really jumped out at me about the famous cliché, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” After I lived there for a little bit, what stuck with me was the “if.” Oh. Right. “If” you can make it here, because if you don’t, the city tries to shit on your head and slit your throat for sport, on a daily basis.

You have to be really on your toes. Three years was enough for me. Drove me back out to my horse pasture in the mountains.

SS: That doesn’t sound so bad.

JB: It’s amazing. I’m not complaining in any way, and I love to come back and visit NYC. I’m just saying, New York is a tough town. But I think you’re giving good advice. People need to be almost cutthroat in their determination to not quit, and not fail.

SS: The word “cutthroat” has such a negative connotation, and the one thing I can say about myself is that I’ve been consistent. And I’ve been consistently me throughout this entire time.

It’s the best I can do. I never try to be anybody else, and I never tried to be something I wasn’t. Because it’s so much easier to be you than to pretend. And then again, you can work really, really, really hard when you believe in yourself, because you’re being exactly who you are.

JB: (laughing) Totally. That might be our end right there.

SS: (laughing) I like that. Listen, I’m super-excited about this workshop, and that the people there were really open to all of my ideas.

In class, I want to talk about making professional photos. Taking yourself from someone who really likes photos, to somebody who can be on set. You have to be consistent, you have to have clear and focused vision, and you have to be a good communicator.

I’m going to have these students act like professional photographers. The minute you walk in the door, you’re no longer a student. You’re a shooter. You’re going to have to do mood boards, and talk about your ideas.

I am the client, and not because I’m trying to be an asshole, but because I want you to tell me what you’re talking about. And I want you to be clear, and professional.

That’s the best thing I took away from Vassar, and my grad school days. If you can talk intelligently about what you’re doing, that’s your ticket.

Can you talk about your visuals, and get everybody else on board? If the answer is yes, work really, really, really hard, and it’s all going to be OK.

JB: Boy, I’m glad we didn’t end it with that first ending, because the advice bombs are dropping fast and furious right now.

SS: I’ve had 1-2 interns every semester, for the last few years, and we talk every day about the stuff we’re talking about now. We talk as people. I try not to be the person in charge.

This shit is scary. This city is scary. Putting yourself out there is scary. I know.

You think your ideas don’t matter, and you’re not going to take a good picture. You don’t know until you try.

I could wax poetic for hours.

JB: I know. Right about now is when we normally end, but you’re just getting started. Unfortunately, we’ve already covered everything I wanted to cover.

SS: I’m kind of inspired. You ask me where I come from, and it all comes full circle. Every year, I shoot for this dance company, the Stephen Petronio Company.

The inspiration I draw from the photo shoots I do with him, movement wise, kind of trickles down and inspires all the beauty, and fashion, and hair that I do for the next year.

There’s no rules, and it’s just collaboration. And I’m still shooting for him, and it’s just such an amazing opportunity. Not only is it a total thrill, because Stephen and his dancers are amazing, but it’s an honor to have a long relationship with somebody like Stephen and

to see the fruits of our labor over several years.

I’m looking at this gorgeous set we’ve built, and looking at the pre-light pictures… it’s one of those days where I especially love what I do.

JB: And I like that we’re still not mentioning how many years you’ve been working with these guys…

SS: Nope.

JB: Right. We’re not going to go there.

SS: The funny thing is, I was always the youngest person in the room. I used to lie about my age, so that my art directors wouldn’t think I was a kid.

It’s never bad. It just doesn’t need to be in print. Right?













The Daily Edit – Mental Floss: Scott Dickerson

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Mental Floss

Creative Director: Winslow Taft
Associate Art Director: Lucy Quintanilla
Production Assistant: Aliya Best
Photo Researcher: Kendra Rennick
Photographer: Scott Dickerson


Heidi: How was being an Alaskan through and through shaped you as a photographer?

Scott: Alaska often feels like the edge of the earth. This is true not only for the natural environments I work in, but also for the business environment. I was raised with a homesteader attitude – we make do with what we have. As a creative this means not just working with the tools, subjects, and opportunities available to me, but really making the most of them. To work effectively in ‘The Last Frontier’ one must constantly adapt to the demands of nature and know how to get around. My lifelong experience and connections around the state are some of my greatest assets when it’s time to get work done.


Post surf session selfie.


Last summer I put together a shoot with ROXY. They were familiar with my fly-out surf trips in Alaska and wanted to shoot a campaign based on that story. Having worked with them in the past on several projects they relied on me heavily to bring all the pieces together. And it was a lot of pieces, we had two floatplanes and a helicopter in the mountains one day and then a floatplane and a boat at a beach scene the next day. My experience working with all the service providers and knowing what was realistically possible within the budget and schedule was crucial to making the shoot a success

Patagonia was just about to introduce their new drysuit made for kiting. This is a product that makes it not only possible, but actually comfortable to kite surf in extremely cold conditions. Or at least they thought. They came to Alaska to test out the suit and get some dramatic images of what would be possible wearing this new piece of technology. I jumped in the motorhome with them and we had what they all claimed to be a trip of a lifetime. We were kiting with icebergs just hours from their arrival into Anchorage airport, over the next few days we flew in two bush planes and fulfilled long time dreams for the crew. The icing on the cake was a floatplane day trip out to a glacial lake to kite with more icebergs in a total wilderness setting. The suits were well proven by the end of the trip and they went home with some striking images.


We took the Naish boardsports crew to this location and shot kiting, SUP, and surf amongst the icebergs.


Have you surfed all your life? What drew you to winter surfing and how cold is it?

I started playing in the water at a young age. Before my friends and I borrowed our first wetsuit water activities were limited to the hottest days of summer. As the available equipment improved so did the time I spent in the water. Now with modern surfing wetsuits there is almost no limit to how cold it can be and still be enjoyable playing in the ocean. What made me want to start surfing? I really couldn’t say – I’d never even seen someone surfing in Alaska when I was overcome with the desire to play in the waves. The reason I still surf in Alaska is the adventure and natural environment. Imagine seeing an incredible ocean landscape with snow covered mountains towering in the background. There is no better way to really experience that scene than to literally immerse yourself in it. Even better if you get to ride waves of energy pulsing in the ocean!


Product tested.  A new Patagonia drysuit made for kiting in frigid water.


How do you capture the surf shots?

Surfing is a particularly challenging subject. The athletes and photographer are very much at the mercy of the weather and waves. The right conditions are almost never easy to find, especially in a place like Alaska. Once we do find good surf the next challenge is finding a place to photograph from. I often put my equipment in a dry bag and swim into shore, arriving soaking wet to stand around in the cold for 1-4hrs. Alternatively I might shoot from a small skiff or sitting on a stand up paddle board right next to the breaking waves – a risky place to be when your attention is fragmented, camera gear exposed, and the water so cold. If the conditions allow, I will also shoot with a water housing right in the surf which is typically cold and exhausting. The large tides in Alaska make for strong currents to swim against and diving under waves in a thick wetsuit is not easy.

Clearly you’ve incorporated your lifestyle into your work, which came first?

Perhaps this means I’ve reached the perfect blend – I can’t tell them apart anymore!

My career as a photographer was launched by an overwhelming desire to share the spectacles of nature I witnessed while commercial fishing on the Alaskan coastline. This original inspiration has stayed with me for the decade plus I’ve been making images professionally.

I’ve been careful to pursue projects and subjects that I’m passionate about from the start. The reward has been that my work and personal interests are indistinguishable.

Photography has also given me opportunities that are otherwise out of reach – I’ve always loved aviation personally, but it’s my photography work that allows me to orchestrate the flight path of three helicopters through the mountains.

I’m also the beneficiary of a trend where photographers are hired for more than just their images. Many of my clients are aware of my lifestyle and they want some of that story to show through in the projects.


Shooting air to airs is non-stop action with all elements in constant motion – that’s probably why it’s my favorite subject.



We spent a couple hours in a helicopter flying around 13 different drill rigs shooting them from all angles on this project.


What was your first paid assignment?

As a self taught photographer I started out small. My first paid assignments were things like taking photos of Bed and Breakfasts for local business owners or photographing the Winter Carnival for the local newspaper. Looking back it’s humbling to see where this all began. Since 2001 my primary source of income has been photography.

Do you come to the lower 48 for meetings, shop your portfolio?

I was an early adopter of digital and online so much of my work has come from social sharing or people finding my images through searches.  This has really helped me to overcome the challenge of being so far away from the major hubs.

I’ve done well over the years photographing my passions and finding a way to leverage the images after the fact. Sometimes those images are just marketing tools that attract a client, and sometimes they sell as stock. The unique subjects and locations that I photograph often market themselves with even a small amount of exposure.

That being said, my business and marketing efforts are evolving. Recently I’ve been to NAB, visited stock agencies I work with, and invested time getting to know folks at clients like Patagonia. Maybe this is the homestead way again, I look to find friends and establish long term relationships that more work and adventure can grow from.



Take a deep breath and relax. It’s a relief just to know that places like this still exist on our planet. Untouched wilderness in all its beauty as far as you can see from 4,000 feet.


Take a deep breath and relax. It’s a relief just to know that places like this still exist on our planet. Untouched wilderness in all its beauty as far as you can see from 4,000 feet.


For your aerial shots are you using a drone, in a helicopter?

Aviation is a part of life in Alaska. I’ve flown and photographed from almost every type of flying contraption from self propelled paragliders all the way up to Coast Guard C-140s. I’ve been toying with drones a little the last couple years but for much of my work manned aerial vehicles are still the way to go. Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time in helicopters as a Cineflex operator shooting perfectly stabilized motion content for a variety of clients with For still photography I’m usually in helicopters or fixed wing aircraft for commercial work. When I’m just itching to fly, or the weather is just right and I can’t stay on the ground I often fly myself in a motorized paraglider (paramotor).

Scott Dickerson, aerial photographer in Alaska.

Flying and shooting photos from my powered paraglider. photo © Jake Schmutzler





Legs just dangling out there in the breeze. Views like this never get old – I just hope I can get old getting them!


Did the Adventure trips come first and then the ability to market the imagery?

First it was adventure in the Alaskan wilds and then photography brought a new richness to those experiences. Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time aboard the m/v Milo as both a photographer and USCG Captain ( We invite people to join us as we explore the endless coastline of Alaska. The trips are roughly half for private adventurers and the rest are media productions for editorial or commercial clients like:

Patagonia (surf ambassadors on four different trips now)

Red Bull – boat based surfing adventure for the web video series – Brothers on the run
FOX (apparel brand) – photographs of professional surfer Ian Walsh surfing in Alaska
Alaskan Brewing – ongoing contract to produce Alaska adventure images
Taylor Steele surf film – This time tomorrow
Alaska Sessions – surf film trip
Magazine work includes: Surfers Journal, Surfer, Fluir, Tide, Slide, tracks, GQ Spain, Mental Floss, National Geographic Adventure (online), Red Bulletin, Wavelength, Alaska.



Personal project photographing a commercial herring fishery in Alaska.


What’s the best and most challenging aspect of being a working photographer in AK?

The best aspect of working in Alaska is Alaska itself. The unadulterated wilderness is such an inspiration for me. When I find myself in an urban environment it’s as though I can’t take a deep breath. There’s a feeling I’ve only found in the wilds of Alaska, a chest expanding peace and connection with the natural elements – something that I try and share in my images.

The most challenging aspect is that same rugged wilderness that I love comes with a cost. It’s untamed, the weather is extreme and it’s entirely out of our control. Much of my work depends on the weather coinciding with the schedules of my clients or the availability of resources.


As part of my work with Alaskan Brewing I always bring a few beers along for moments like these.


Tell me about your creative role with Alaska Brewing, how did that project develop?

My work with Alaskan Brewing started when they were relabeling their IPA. It had a drawing of a surfer on the label and packaging. The formula was being changed and they were sick of being told ‘People don’t really surf in Alaska!’ so they took the opportunity to use photography instead of illustration to prove they weren’t being phony. After a few more image sales they approached me with the idea of being a ‘sponsored photographer’. I believe the idea came about after receiving requests from adventure sport athletes for sponsorship but it never seemed like the right fit. Then they had the idea to sponsor a photographer instead. Smart thinking in my opinion. It’s a new endeavor for both of us but the first year was a great success so I expect it to continue to evolve.

Will ASME Stand Up For Magazine Editors And Punish Condé Nast?

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In a clear violation of the ASME (American Society of Magazine Editors) Guidelines, Condé Nast has asked their Editors to write advertorials for the magazines they edit:

Condé Nast caused a stir in the media world Monday when it announced plans for a new studio that will allow marketers to work directly with editors at its magazines to create “branded content,” ads designed to blend in with regular articles.

ASME Editorial Guidelines state:

9. Don’t Ask Editors to Write Ads
Editorial staff should not participate in the creation of advertising. Editorial contributors should not participate in the creation of advertising if their work would appear to be a conflict of interest.


The Board of Directors reserves the right to expel from membership in ASME any editor of a print or online magazine who willfully or repeatedly violates the ASME Guidelines for Editors and Publishers.

The National Magazine Awards are tonight and they’re even giving renown photojournalist James Nachtwey an award for Creative Excellence. I wonder if ASME will stick up for editors and next year The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, W, Wired, GQ, Bon Appétit, Traveler and Details will not be allowed to participate? Challenging times for magazines for sure.


This Week In Photography Books: Margaret Morton

by Jonathan Blaustein

Sometimes, you’ve got to mix things up. Even though it’s harder than sticking with what you know. I like easy as much as the next guy, but it CAN make a person complacent.

Just look at McDonalds.

Why did it become a massive capitalist behemoth? With tens of thousands of locations? Because you only have to be smart enough to walk up to the counter, or drive up to the window, and point at a number.

I want combo #2.
You could grunt, and it would still work out.

If you can string together enough syllables, in proper order, to say, “Combo #2,” and you can cobble together enough pocket change to pay the $2.99, then you can have yourself a burger, some fries, and a highly-sugar-and-caffeine-laden beverage.

What could be easier than that? And as to the cows that go into that burger? Why bother to make them run around a grassy pasture? Why not just let them stand in their own shit, all day long, until it’s time to kill them?

What’s easier, letting them stand where they are, or going to the trouble of designing a cow-exercise program?

No contest.

But just the other day, I was reminded why the hard way promotes growth. I was headed in to teach my second straight class in the new semester: “Beginning Digital Photography.” I asked for an extra class, THIS class, in fact, because I can teach it in my sleep. I know my patterns. I know my lectures. Cold.

No drama at all.

Except there were only 5 students in the room, instead of the usual 25. And the University didn’t want to cancel. So, on the fly, I realized I’d have to re-tool everything I know, in order to keep a very small room entertained and enlightened for 2.5 hours straight, for 15 weeks.

My first thoughts were based in fear and frustration. My desire for the lazy way was screeching in my consciousness, like a wolf that just chewed off its own leg to get out of a trap. Then, I caught my breath, and realized I had no option but to make it work.

I began to ask the students questions I normally wouldn’t. I established a completely new vibe, and laid down ground rules. By the end of class, we were all laughing, and I was excited as hell.

Often times, change is forced upon us. We resent it, and then realize it was in our best interest. This time, I went through the stages of grief in warp speed. Which allows me to give you my high-minded advice all the quicker.

What does that have to do with a book review, though? I’m glad you asked. Because, as always, I’m trying to reach a cogent point before I’ve hit 1000 words, and your attention span begins to wane.

Today, I want to highlight “Cities of the Dead: The Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan,” a new book by Margaret Morton, recently published by the University of Washington press. That’s a long title, yes, and it likely gives you a clue to its subject. Not a lot of room for surprise.

This book is one that I’ve looked at several times before, and decided not to review. (Yes, I know we’ve had this conversation before.) But this morning, I changed my mind. (And not because I’m out of books, which has been the motivation in years past.)

No, I decided to write about this book because I chose to change my criteria a bit, to keep things from getting stale. This book is not inherently exciting and dramatic, and I don’t think the pictures will change your life. They’re not brilliant, nor are they particularly innovative.

Before you hate me for damning the book with faint praise, let me continue. The pictures are kind of washed-out, bleached, and bereft of people. They’re not razor sharp, nor are they showy. The tonal range is minimal, so they don’t grab you in the guts either.

But they are consistent, in their tone and compositional style. They keep coming at you, like the less-talented fighter who out-works the flashy favorite. (Hello Buster Douglas, what are you doing in 2015?)

They transport you somewhere else. Somewhere quiet, where everyone’s already dead. The aesthetic reinforces the content, and there is a distinct narrative structure. You start far away, pull in very tight, and then drift back out again.

Very smart.

Perhaps I fall victim to shiny visuals, or off-beat and absurd concepts? I show you books that are edgy, or already famous, or that reflect an arty style you’ll like for sure.

This book, however, does something that I’m always asking for, despite it’s grayscale production: it shows me, (and you) something I’ve never seen before. Frankly, even in this ever-more-connected world, I suspect it depicts something almost no one has seen before: vacant cemeteries, in the form of mini-cities, in the hinterlands of Kyrgyzstan.

That’s about as far off the beaten path as anyone can get these days. I wouldn’t even know how to fly there if I tried? Do you route through Tajikistan? Or am I a fool, and everyone knows that Uzbekistan is the best layover, what with their killer mutton stew?

Kidding aside, these pictures have a sere, world-weariness that didn’t seduce me. It put me off, even though I was inherently curious. But I never forgot the book, so I came back to it again.

It’s not the grand vistas that grab you here, it’s the details. Is that a scalp nailed to a wooden post? What do the rams horns mean? The deer? Are these competing warrior clans, with different spirit animals?

The stars and sickles jut up into the sky, whose color we can’t know, as we’ve been denied the opportunity.

Why the cages? What do they mean? Is that a desiccated eagle? Or a falcon? How hard is it to train a falcon anyway?

This book is not something I’d normally review, and I think that it’s healthy for me to keep expanding that definition. It does have a lot to offer. And it’s my job to sit still long enough to share that appreciation with you.

Bottom Line: Austere publication highlighting graveyards at the end of the line
















Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.

The Art of the Personal Project: Ted Catanzaro

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As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Ted Catanzaro










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How long have you been shooting?

I’ve been shooting photos since high school. My parents were very supportive about photography. One of the bedrooms of our house was converted into a darkroom and there were always cameras and photo magazines lying around the house. Our encyclopedias were the Time Life Library of Photography. My brother went to Ansel Adams’ workshop in Yosemite for a couple of summers when Ansel was still alive. I remember my dad talking to him on the phone a few times when we were building our darkroom. I had an incredible photo teacher at Palisades High – Rob Doucette. A bunch of kids in his classes went on to become professional photographers. I still keep in contact with him on Facebook and see him surfing a couple of times a year.

Are you self‐taught or photography school taught?
I learned the basics about photography developing, printing, and the history of the medium—in high school, and I did my undergraduate and graduate work in fine art at U.C.L.A . Again, I was lucky to have great instructors at UCLA like Mike Kelley, Chris Burden, Roger Herman, and John Divola. Robert Heinecken was the head of the photo dept. We rented a loft from him in Culver City. During my years at UCLA we had visiting lecturers like John Baldassari, Lewis Baltz, and Gary Winogrand.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Originally, the blog was a way of posting images for friends and families, just to share what we’ve been up to, what it’s like to have five boys, and it sort of became a creative vehicle for me. The writing along with images sort of developed into the life of the blog. We put a link for it in our website just because it was the easiest way to navigate to it.

The blog is the first category I go to on anyone’s website. I’ve had my blog for about seven years now and there are certain themes and stories that are recurrent. They usually involve being a dad/husband, coffee, music, surfing , gardening, cooking, camping, or going to Kauai.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?

I’ve had the blog since 2008. I try to update every week or so. I try to stay away from direct work postings or behind the scene stuff. If I do post about an assignment I try to keep it more personal.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
That’s hard to say, The most popular project on our website is our Holiday Card section. It features our holiday cards from the mid-1980’s to the present.

I’ve got a couple of other projects I’m working on right now, like my surfer tailgate portrait project, a Homeboy/Homegirl story, my Punk rock project, and my Dead Rat project. All of these get some airplay to some extent on the website, Insta, Tumblr. Etc… and I’ll see where they go.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?

It’s different, and I’d be kidding myself if I thought we actually got booked for shoots based on the blog, but every client we work for tells me how much they love reading the blog and looking at the photos. Ever since then I’ve geared the portfolio/ website to my personal work. Our new website design makes it really easy to create a new project or story.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?

I use Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr and spend way too much time on all of them. There’s something weirdly satisfying (and perverse) having my images being stored on a phone in someone’s pocket halfway around the world.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?

No, I wish, but it’s really rewarding when someone says I love your blog, I spent an hour on it, or, that last blog posting made me cry.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?

Yes, most of our promos/marketing uses our personal images from our blog.


Ted Catanzaro is the Ted of Ted & Debbie, a photography production team based in Los Angeles. They have 5 boys and 2 guinea pigs.

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. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit – Bon Appetit: Alex Lau

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Bon Appetit

Creative Director: Alex Grossman
Photo Director: Alex Pollack
Assistant Photo Editor: Elizabeth Jaime
Senior Food Editor: Alison Roman
Photographer: Alex Lau (opener only )
Photographer: Jarren Vink (inside spreads )


Is there any interesting backstory to that photo?
Funny that you ask. This seemingly simple opener was the subject of huge debate and drama for about three weeks in the office. There was some clash between our editors on what exactly an olive oil fried egg should look like. Some thought that it shouldn’t be too crispy and burnt around the edges, while others insisted that it was simply a quality of frying an egg with this method. It was definitely one of our more difficult openers to work on, mainly because it took a long time for the staff to come to a consensus on the shot. 

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How many eggs did you cook to get this image?
Our lovely and patient senior food editor Alison Roman probably cooked about 15 eggs for this.
Is an egg something you’ve shot several times as a food photographer, if so is it a challenge to make it different?
I approach eggs the same way I photograph food in general. The end goal is to make it pretty, so lighting is incredibly important. Sometimes soft light is key, while other times harsh light gives it that pop. It really depends on prop styling, what surface you’re shooting on, and ultimately how the egg is cooked.
Is there a staff kitchen you have access too?
The photo studio that I do all in-house work in is connected to the Bon Appetit test kitchen, where we constantly develop recipes for our print and web issues. A common question I always get as a food photographer is whether or not the food I shoot is actually edible, and not a glued concoction of plastic. I don’t know how other publications work, but the recipes are cooked, sent out to me to shoot, and then immediately go straight into my belly.
Do you always have a food stylist/prop stylist for your shoot?
Not all of the time. When I’m shooting in the office, I usually have one of the test kitchen editors helping me out in terms of food styling. As for prop stylists, I’ve never had the opportunity to work with one. Most prop styling is a collaborative effort between me, our photo and test kitchen editor.
Where does you love of shooting food come from?
It probably stems from my love of eating everything all of the time.
Can you cook?
Not compared to my coworkers, but I’d like to think that I’m half decent at preparing meals.
Your style is very observational rather then pretty food photos. Describe your approach to shooting food.
I didn’t really start shooting food until January of last year, despite having done photography for 5 years. I have a background in documentary photography, which I think definitely has transferred over to my approach to photographing food. I usually like to photograph food just the way I’ve found it, mainly because I’m terrible at food styling.
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Is this a Sazerac? Did you have one?
That’s Merrill and Co’s Two Stones cocktail, which consists of rye, East India sherry, curacao, and bitters. I did, and it was delicious.

For W. Eugene Smith 90% Of The Image Is Done In The Darkroom

- - Working

At least fifty percent of the image is done in the darkroom—I think Gene would say ninety percent. The negative has the image, but it can’t produce the image completely, as the photographer saw it—not as Gene saw it. You have to work it over and over with the enlarger, you have to burn it in, you have to hold back areas—this detail down here or over there.”

Karales continued, getting more specific about the technique: “Gene always liked to get separations around people, figures, and that was always done with potassium ferrocyanide. It was the contrast that made the prints difficult. Gene saw the contrast with his eyes, but the negative wouldn’t capture it the same way. So he would have to bring the lamp down and burn, and then if that spilled too much exposure and made it too dark, you would lighten it with the ferrocyanide. You had to be careful not to get the ferrocyanide too strong, and yet you couldn’t have it too weak, either. If it took too long, it would spread. So I would blow the fixer off of the paper so ferrocyanide would stay in an area, and then dunk the paper right away to kill the action. Or if you wanted something to go smoother, then you left the fixer there. It was extremely delicate and complicated, but we got it down pat.”

via In the Darkroom with W. Eugene Smith.

This Week In Photography Books: Christopher J Everard

by Jonathan Blaustein

Have you ever heard of Sasha Grey? Maybe?
Maybe not.

As it happens, she’s a young actress from California. I first saw her in Steven Soderbergh’s taut little film, “The Girlfriend Experience.” She is lithe, Sasha Grey, with long, fine dark hair, and oil-black eyes. Those eyes are world-weary like Scarlett Johansson’s, but not in that same I-grew-up-in-New-York-so-I’m-smarter-and-cooler-than-you sort of way.

Do you know what I mean?

She was hard not to watch, Ms. Grey, as she played a very expensive call girl who provided a particular service: she pretends to be her John’s girlfriend, beyond just sexing him up.

Her acting is languid, sure, but again, it’s hard to look away. She was oddly mesmerizing. Then I saw her during her multi-episode cameo on “Entourage,” which I’m loathe to admit I ever watched.

At that point, I’d already learned her somewhat-but-not-really shocking story: Sasha Grey was a porn-star, despite her small boobs and overall lack of looking the part. What did I think, when I first heard the news?

That poor girl. She must have gotten all worn out. Apparently, she’d made a tremendous amount of movies, in which she often had sex with multiple partners at once.

My first thought was not, “Good for her. Making something of herself. Commodifying her compelling sexuality. Way to go. The American dream in the making.”

No. I half-worried that she was tarnished goods.

At no point did I consider tracking down some of her X-rated material online. That seemed a bit like peeking through the curtain at your neighbor undressing, as I’d first seen her in a “mainstream” film, though she did get naked, as I recall.

Can we all agree that my reaction was strange? Or maybe not strange, as it’s normal to be embarrassed by pornography, even though most people use it in some form or other.

No, my reaction was not strange. It was inappropriate. Yes, that’s the right word. I was practically Puritan, which is unpleasant to admit.

Our collective guilt at our carnal urges, and the manner in which we occasionally satisfy them via visual means, was the cause of the awkward thoughts I had vis a vis Ms. Grey, and her choice of professions.

My bad, in retrospect. More power to you, Sasha. (Because I’m sure you’re reading this, right?)

It’s one of the great hypocrisies of our time, the way we all engage in the same kind of behavior that we’re all pretty sure is wrong. I think the subject is worth investigating, which we can easily do via “Denied Reality- Episode 1: Our Industry,” a new book out by Christopher J Everard, published by Interlife Pictures.

The artist sent me a copy, suspecting that I might like it. If I didn’t know better, I’d think some people were paying attention with respect to the types of books I prefer. Because this one hit the mark in almost every way.

Mr. Everard is based in London, and is British by birth, near as I can tell, though he did spend many years living in the US. So his predilection for our culture is understandable, as is his curiosity about our prurient interest in sex, which he deems a “Denied Reality.”

Open up the book, and there are a succession of well-made-but-not brilliant images that come without an explanation. So I thought, “Gee, I wonder what I’m looking at?”

As if he perfectly anticipated the question, the very next page had small black and white thumbnail images, with well-written captions. I had a desire, and the book satisfied. (No pun intended.)

It appears that this book is a research-based, first-person narrative exploration inside the porn industry which is based, primarily, in Los Angeles. As the book is being released while Larry Sultan has his retrospective at LACMA, he is referenced appropriately within.

This is a book that speaks to photo-book-geeks, because it varies up its delivery like a crafty pitcher who can no longer throw the heat, so he has to keep the batters on their toes.

Immediately after a few more photos and caption pages, there’s an honest, hilarious essay by Daniel Blight. It’s also in a first person style, and breezy, without being pretentious. No art-speak, but lots of references to masturbation, smoking hash, and improper behavior.

Basically, it was the exact style I like to read. Mostly because I also like to write that way, as you well know.

This book, unlike almost everything I review, was one I had to put down and come back to. Because there is good, engaging writing interspersed throughout. It’s too dense to breeze through it like a normal photo-book, or read it in one shot, unless you’ve allotted the proper time.

In that regard, it’s different from what I normally see, which is something I’m always begging for in this space. Do it differently. Make the book into an experience I/ we’ll remember.

Mr. Everard seems to have interviewed a lot of subjects in the industry, walked red carpets, attended award banquets, traveled to Arizona to meet some professionals living outside the LA bubble, and road-tripped to Utah, after he learned that its residents are the highest per capita consumers of porn in the US. He actually mentions statistics in several places that suggest that most of the Red States/Republican States/States with the highest rate of church-goers actually top that list year in, year out.

Hypocrisy, anyone?

The conclusion reached, and perhaps dispensed a few too many times, is that the people in the pornography industry are hard working Americans. They bust their humps (no pun intended) to put food on their table, support their families, and have time on the weekends to play with their kids. They’re great dads, moms, and children.

The industry supplies jobs, and pays taxes. It is an American success story that we all pretend doesn’t exist. Because we are ashamed of ourselves; not the people who supply our fix. They deserve better, the artist suggests.

All in all, it’s a great book. The pictures within, which contain surprisingly few “nasty” images, and even fewer boobs, are not the type to blow you away. They’re not AMAZING. Just really good, particularly in illustration of the overall narrative.

But they don’t need to be more than that. It’s the book we judge, and the way in which the text and images support each another, and the pacing, degree of information, accessibility of the concept, it all makes for a genuinely excellent experience.

Mr. Blight has another great piece at the end, mocking Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” and I’m still not sure if it’s a reported story, or if he just made it up. There’s even a “Designer’s Cut” edit of pictures that wouldn’t have otherwise made book. That’s extra content that you get if you’re special, and buy this particular edition of the book. Extra stuff, like those porn sites are always offering, so I’m told, if you’re only willing to drop your credit card number.

Bottom Line: Honest, smart, very-well executed look at the things we like to see, but never discuss.



















The Art of the Personal Project: Cameron Davidson

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Cameron Davidson


















How long have you been shooting?
Professionally since 1980 – 34 years.  I started shooting as a 10th grader with an Agfa Isolete I found in a closet.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Mixture of both.  I studied on my own through high school by constantly going through Modern and Popular Photography annuals and by studying the work of the photo gods of that era – Arnold Newman, Jay Maisel, Ernst Haas and Pete Turner.  I also did the indentured servant route by working with several DC based photographers – the most notable being Ross Chapple, an exceptional architectural shooter who taught me how to light. 

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I have worked and shot in Haiti since 1999.  I was on the board of the NGO Community Coalition for Haiti and shot many of their projects.  The work I shot for CCH between 1999 and 2012 documentary in approach.  This project was shot for a new NGO, Goals Beyond the Net and I wanted to slow my approach down.  The goal was to stay in one place – the soccer field in Jacmel and shoot portraits of the players over four days.  My goal was to take one lens, one strobe and one camera and keep it simple.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it? 
I shot the project in the summer of 2013.  I started showing it that winter and was fortunate to place second in the portraiture contest for the National APA contest.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working? 
I pre-planned what and how I was going to shoot.  I was committed to the project before I flew to Haiti and knew that it had to work.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I like it  – it shows a different side of me.  Many people think of me as an aerial photographer and I have always been more than that.  I love shooting portraits and showing a personal project that shows a different approach to me is always a positive.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I do use Instagram and Twitter.  Tumblr is the blog right now but that is getting ready to change when I launch my new web site this winter. 

Instagram is only black and white images shot on the road or on assignments.  Usually, behind the scenes pictures, found objects or views from helicopters.  Twitter is a mix.  Articles I found, links to stories about photography or web sites.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Nothing has ever gone viral.  I’ve seen quite a bit of my aerial work posted to the click-bait sites – you know they type – 25 most interesting aerials views of the world or 10 sites to see from the air.  That type of site.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes, I have.  I printed with MagCloud, a retrospective of sorts.  It was called 13 years, and it is available light portraits shot in Haiti for CCH. 

The portraits in the Goals Beyond the Net project were shot over one week in Jacmel, Haiti in support of the NGO.  The goal was to shoot portraits of young soccer players who are enrolled in the GBN program.  I wanted clean and simple images without posturing that reflected the honesty and drive of these young players. 

The images have been used to increase donations, as gifts to donors and for promotion for the NGO.  I made prints of each person I photographed and send them to Jacmel.  Two months later, I was given a box of handwritten letters – in French, Creole and English thanking me for the photographs.


Cameron Davidson’s passion for photography took root in his teens when he found an old Agfa Isolette camera at the bottom of his closet and began looking at life through a lens. It blossomed further, when he discovered the contours and contrasts of a world measured by altitude and sheer natural beauty from the rear cabin of a turbine helicopter.

For more than thirty years, Cameron developed the artistic skills that have helped him to become an acclaimed aerial, environmental, editorial, corporate, and fine art photographer. Simplicity and elegance make his work transcendent. He has photographed locations and people in 49 states, 6 Canadian provinces, and 29 countries. His compelling aerial images of North American landscapes and cities have graced the pages of publications ranging from National Geographic to The Washington Post. His six books – Chesapeake; Washington DC from Above; Chicago from Above; A Moment of Silence: Arlington National Cemetery; Over Florida; and Our Nation’s Capital: An Aerial Portrait – embed character and personality into the grandest and simplest photos. His eye for the visual has opened boardroom doors to many premier corporate assignments, including annual reports, as well as high-profile editorial venues. A partial list of his clients include ESPN, Money, Audubon, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Wired, Vanity Fair, AARP, Dominion Resources, General Dynamics, M&T Bank, Virginia Tourism, SEIU, Standard Life, and some of the top advertising agencies in the world.

Cameron has lived in Virginia, Texas, and Michigan. He now resides in the community of Alexandria in northern Virginia. Reach him at 703-845-0547 or via email.

Goals Beyond the Net:

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. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

The First Conversation Is No Longer About the Photography It’s About the Photographer

- - Working

Photographers Rep, Heather Elder, has a conversation with her photographers every year defining creatively and financially what a successful 2015 will look like. She has a post up on her blog with two very important trends happening in our industry:

These trends reveal a change in the conversation she has with creatives where it is now assumed that anyone being considered is 100% right for the project and has the talent, vision and skills to pull it off.

Now, instead of scrutinizing your work, it is about how much can you shoot? What is your vision for the photography? Do you have similar libraries to show the client? There will be a lot of moving parts, how will you produce this project? Are you willing to negotiate? And, will they enjoy being on the production with the photographer?

And social media is a natural conduit where these conversations can begin. Many photographers have the chops, but are not having the conversation with their potential clients. Here’s a post to push you in the right direction.

The Daily Edit – Mark Peterson: Men’s Journal

- - The Daily Edit

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Men’s Journal

Creative Director: David Schlow
Director of Photography: Catriona Ni Aolain
Art Director: Todd Weinberger
Deputy Art Director: Kim Gray
Deputy Photography Editor: Jennifer Santana
Associate Photography Editor: Amy McNulty
Photographer: Mark Peterson

Did the magazine know you were from Minnesota and did that have an influence you being awarded the job?

When Catriona Ni Aolain the director of photography at Men’s Journal contacted me I think she assigned me because of my series Political Theatre. So I was looking forward to going back to Minnesota and photographing Jesse “The Body” Ventura.

Had you met the subject previously?

Yes. Jesse Ventura was a pro wrestler in the 80’s in Minnesota.  One of the first things I photographed when I started was pro wrestling.  Then a decade later when Ventura was elected to office in Minnesota I went back for Newsweekmagazine to photograph him.  He was always a great show, as a wrestler or Governor.

Describe your interaction on set.

I meet the former Gov. at his country club so that I could photograph him golfing. It was a cold raining November day in Minnesota so Jesse said he wasn’t going to play golf.  So we just wondered around the clubhouse looking for something that was visual to the story. Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura was talking nonstop about politics and himself so it was hard to concentrate on what I was doing.  Jesse is a true American Character…larger then life.

I love the range or scale shift in the Political Theatre gallery. Do the subjects realize you are shooting them that close or even register you are there?

The politicians know the press is there as there can be dozens of us trying to get a answer or a photo.  It’s like a kids soccer game where everyone surrounds the ball and just kicks at it.

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Is some of your close up work a result of the event “scrums”? 

I started to take very close pictures of the Gov. Christie because he has a reputation of being aggressive and I wanted to show that.  One of the first pictures I took for the Political Theatre series was a tight shot of his mouth while he was shouting at someone.  I wanted to show his aggressive appetite.

In a few words describe this body of work for us, how do you chose the edits, the direction, how calculated is this?

I started the series Political Theatre in reaction to a Tea Party rally on the lawn of the US Capitol.  The pictures I took didn’t show how fake the event was and how it was just a stage for politicians to get on TV.  So after that I started to shoot the pictures with my DSLR and then run them thru my cell phone apps to give them a dramatic look. I am trying to have fun with a subject that at times can be very boring and staged.

Work from Photo NOLA, Part 3

- - From The Field

A couple of months ago, in this very space, I joked about being terrified to mock ISIS. I, who likes to make fun of almost anything, was afraid to offend those homicidal maniacs. And I said as much in a book review.

Around the same time, I also wrote a column proudly proclaiming my Jewish heritage. (Though with a last name like Blaustein, there’s only so much you can do to deny it.) I said, at the time, that my people have targets on our backs, often from those aforementioned lunatics, (and their ilk,) and that it felt a tad uncomfortable to out out myself as a Jew so publicly.

It’s 6am now, far earlier than I normally write, but I woke up before the sun, and started thinking about the Charlie Hebdo massacre last week, and the subsequent attack on a Kosher grocery store in Paris. Psychopaths lashed out at journalists who communicated through humor, and at Jews.

I’m far from the action, thankfully. Thousands of miles away. But it stuck in my mind this morning, and it won’t let go.

The sheer depth of the tragedy is mind-boggling. The anger, the hate, the efficiency with which those lives were taken. Since Cain killed Abel, and someone else wrote it down, most of the world has agreed that taking someone’s life is the worst thing you can do.

We human animals have a limited lifespan. We know this. For the most part, we choose not to think about it. When a person kills another, they rob them of their future. They steal their soul. Out of spite.

When it is done simply to shut someone up, or because they choose to call their God by another name, it seems even more heinous.

Now, I haven’t Tweeted “Je Suis Charlie,” nor have I changed my Facebook profile photo in solidarity. Not to disparage anyone who has, but to me, it somehow felt hollow. What difference will it make, I thought? Who wouldn’t be in support of these victims, who died for freedom of speech, a concept I’ve defended, so many times, in this very space?

Yesterday, I wrote a good opening to this article. It was about a coyote who walked right up to my house, just outside the sliding glass door. His coat was thick, resplendent, even in winter. (It practically glowed.) I relate to those coyotes, so I always pay attention when they present themselves.

He trotted away when he heard my iPhone beep, as a text had come in at that moment. So I wrote a piece about how he was turned off by technology. And how I turned off my technology this Christmas break, and suggested you consider doing the same, when you can.

But this morning, as I couldn’t sleep, I began to compose this new version of the article. In my mind’s eye, I imagined those poor people being killed. (The result of watching all that violence on a marathon of Soderbergh’s excellent “The Knick” this weekend, perhaps?)

I remembered that this column, in which I spout off each week, is a sincere privilege. Rob gives me the freedom to speak my mind, to a very large audience of people who live around this huge planet of ours. It is unique, this 21st Century experience, in which one can talk to so many, who ingest the information, instantaneously, for free, on their screens.

I was ready to slag it off, in a column, this Internet of ours, and remind you how vital it is to unplug, from time to time.

But today, I chose to pivot, even though this introduction has so little to do with the amazing time I had in New Orleans, at Photo NOLA, nor the terrific photography I saw, which I will soon discuss. The photos will be there too, below these words, for your perusal.

I decided, however, to make use of this platform, yet again, to pontificate. The forces that utilize terror and violence to silence people rarely win. Even in the totalitarian regimes like the Soviet Union, there were some who chose to make art, and write. Underground networks disseminated information.

Though of course fear drove the masses silent. Would I have the courage to speak my mind in such circumstances? It’s doubtful.

I chose not to provoke these monsters, who pull triggers as a way of lashing out, and the brave men and women at Charlie Hebdo shared no such reservations. They knew they had targets on their backs, and continued to do their work, and bring humor into the equation.

They died for their beliefs.

Today, let’s all salute their efforts.

Rather than suggest there is no link whatsoever to those sentiments, and the photographers I will highlight now, I’ll just write what ought to be obvious: when you make art, and share it with the world, you’re really communicating your ideas in image form.

Visual communication is a massively powerful methodology, as it needs no translation, as does French, when it wants to be understood in English. When these artists came to New Orleans, and shared their work with me, they hoped that I’d put their pictures up on a website for countless people to see. In fact, I was able to do that for the vast majority of people I met, because the quality of work was so high.

I take this responsibility seriously, and it gives me great joy to promote their work on this space, where I so often goof around while trying to discuss serious issues. I do hope you enjoy the work, and as I said last week, the book reviews will return next Friday.

On to the photographers.

Bruce Morton had a big smile on his face, the entire time we sat together. And every time I saw him thereafter. It’s easy to understand why. Bruce got an MFA in the legendary Arizona State Program back in the day, studying with legends Bill Jay and Bill Jenkins.

But he gave it up shortly thereafter, to get a more practical job. He built a landscaping business in Phoenix, which was his focus for many years. (Imagine how hard it must be to work outside in that heat, all the time.) But about 8 years ago, he decided to rededicate himself to his photography.

He packed up and moved back to his original family home in a small town, Bowen, in rural Illinois. He’s currently working on several projects at once, all focusing on the local population and cultural landscape. I liked all of his work, as well as his attitude, which screams passion and joy.

These pictures are from his mini-series “Bowen,” though I could easily have shown you some photos from his other projects a well.










Sandra Klein is a member of the Aline-Smithson-LA-photo-mafia, which I chronicled at length in my two-part series on the Medium Festival last year. Those folks are doing some impressive work, and have built themselves a supportive community that speaks to the power of Aline’s teaching ability and force of will.

Sandra showed me two projects, the first of which I’m sharing here. She has a background as a print-maker, and these images reference that medium heavily. She photographs plants and cacti, and then weaves them into a constructed aesthetic that also includes actual sewn thread. The addition of the 3-D manipulation, alongside her genuinely excellent color palette, left me impressed.

There was also a group of pictures made in Japan, which I found much-less-resolved. But there was one picture, of a park setting in falling snow, that was so beautiful and Zen that I questioned whether she needed anything else. Sometimes, one perfect picture is enough.













Gloria Baker Feinstein is a photographer based in the Mid-West as well, yet showed me a project made in Uganda. She visited a village there 8 years ago, on a tour with an NGO, and fell in love with the place. As a result, she formed her own non-profit to support the community, and goes back for 3-4 weeks each year.

I thought the pictures were extremely well-made, and communicate a warmth that stems from her knowledge of the people and the place. They are the antithesis of photographs made on a one-off visit to a Third World locale, where people step off the bus, snap a few frames, and then head on to the next destination.

Gloria also showed me some newer, black and white work made in a community in Eastern Kentucky in which she’d spent very little time. As such, I thought they compared poorly to the work that was richly developed over many years. We agreed to disagree…

Beauty Salon

Blue Wall

Boy Climbing Wall

Bra Salesman

Children's Shoes



Girl in Red Dress

Girls Bathing

Girls in Sunday Dresses

Green Mirror

Lake Victoria

Mother and Children

Newspapered Walls

Raindrops on Window

Sunlight on Face

Three Grandmothers

Finally, yes finally, I come to the two artists whose work I looked at after my official 24 reviews had come to an end. First, I peeked in at Monika Merva’s new project. She and I have a few friends in common, and I had heard of her project “The City of Children,” which was published as a book, and has been exhibited widely.

Monika said that after the all-consuming nature of a specific, successful project, she was showing a group of pictures that she took simply because she wanted to click the shutter. There was no over-arching narrative beyond, “I am a photographer. I made these photographs. Have a look.”

At the end of a long slog, I found the pictures refreshing, along with her willingness to free up her process, simply because she could.

















After that, with my brain cells mushier than a freshly baked burger bun, I met with Margo Cooper. She’d approached me earlier in the day, swearing that she’d wanted to get a review with me, but the lottery had not been kind. Margo told me she’d heard through the photo-grape-vine that I was a “very nice person,” and might I be willing to look at her work after everything was done?

I’m a sucker for a compliment as much as the next guy, and in this case, I do try to be as nice as I can to everyone. So how could I say no?

Unfortunately, as I was so crispy, and Margo is high-energy, our meeting was a bit tense. These things happen. But when I got a look at her gelatin silver prints, of photos made in poor rural communities in New England, I said yes right away. (And that’s what we’re publishing.)

Apparently, Margo is an attorney, a public defender in particular, and makes photographs of these folks, and of blues communities in the Deep South, as her outlet. She’s committed to long-term projects, which you can see as some of her subjects age in the pictures. I didn’t have too much to say to her at the time, but I think the photographs below speak for themselves.







Hanging Out

Girl with Blanket


Summer Day

Girl on a Swing




Tristing Place


Hide and Seek







The Art of the Personal Project: Ryan Heffernan

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers advertise in LeBook. Check out his link at Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Ryan Heffernan












Grape Harvest


How long have you been shooting?
9 years

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Mix of both. I went the liberal arts route for undergrad but spent two seasons after working at the Santa Fe Photography Workshops. I consider that time to be photography school. Growing up with a photographer father immersed me in that world from an early age as well.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Growing up in St. Helena, CA it was amazing to watch the valley transform into a massive production every harvest. I wanted to explore the contrast between wine as a luxury good and the hard labor that went on behind the scenes.

The project took me to Mendoza, Argentina and Tarija, Bolivia in addition to the Napa Valley.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Tough to say. I plan to continue shooting this project for many years to come, so it’s hard to define where they begin and end.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
It feels pretty similar in the end. I’m always trying to make the most interesting images possible.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yes, mostly Instagram although I’m not prolific.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Not yet.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I haven’t promoted them in print.

Born and raised in Northern California as the son of accomplished still-life photographer, Ryan was immersed in the world of photography and design from an early age. Today Heffernan is an advertising photographer and commercial director, based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico and San Francisco, California. He specializes in photographing people in their landscapes, aiming to tell unique stories and works for diverse clients ranging from Adobe Systems, UBS, Leo Burnett, The Martin Agency, and New Mexico Tourism to Outside Magazine, GQ, McGarrah Jessee and a host of others.

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. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit – Dan Saelinger : Men’s Health

- - The Daily Edit



Men’s Health

Creative Director:  Tom O’Quinn
Photo Director:  Jeanne Graves
Photo Editor: Don Kinsella
Photographer: Dan Saelinger
Stylist: Dominique Baynes

What sort of creative direction did you get from the magazine? 
I’m very fortunate that often times when clients approach me the direction is relatively open ended.  I think they are very aware when hiring me of the type of work I produce and that it requires a lot of thought and creative decision making on my end to make it successful.   Don Kinsella (the PE on the project) just asked the the images feel energetic and interesting and hit home the point of the content.  

What was the initial idea and how did you develop it?
The story was about paths of success to a better career and the magazine initially approached me with an overall idea of an office worker taking off or being propelled in some fashion and tasked me with creating a set of three images. As if often the case with an ambitious project we had to take into consideration budget restrictions and Don and his team decided it best to create two great final images rather than sacrifice quality to make three.  Don and I had a couple creative chats and were able to verbally narrow things down pretty quickly and settled on the idea of a guy in a jetpack and a chainsaw cutting through a cubicle.
How do most of your ideas come to life? Is there a sketch process?  
There is definitely a sketch process for the majority of my work.  I find it helps to build trust in the final concept and works as a great tool towards pushing a client into a riskier endeavor.  Also being that I’m located in Portland now I think it eases the fact that the client won’t be on set and sets up for expectations better. Generally I ask the client to provide headlines and text.  I try not to get bogged down too much in the literal aspect of the story and try to pull out key ideas or phrases to help form ideas.
Is there a certain time of day or situation when your best ideas surface?
 I like to let things digest and normally sit on it for a day or two as the the ideas will often come late at night or while driving to work, sometimes even in the shower (the best ones always do).  Either way I like to let things brew, I find when forcing myself to sit down and sketch I often don’t get anywhere.
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How long did it take to build the sets?
Most editorial budgets require us to condense time wherever possible and my team and I have become pretty darn efficient on set builds.  I keep several rolling wall flats in my studio, a variety of flooring and background props so that we can assemble these on short notice.  The challenge on this was really building the cotton rocket effect so the stylist began a day prior building a frame out of chicken wire. Otherwise the rest was assembled and shot the same day.

Since a lot of your ideas are conceptual I’d imagine you have your team of prop stylist and set builders. What made you chose this prop person?
I’m fortunate to have built a tight knit crew out here in Portland and have a couple of go to people for different tasks.  The stylist on this particular shoot, Dominique Baynes has a similar background to myself as a NYC transplant out here in Portland.  So she understands the demands and limitations of an editorial project quite well.  This shoot required the building of the cloud effect which she’s very experienced in and has done for me before as well a building a jetpack on a tight budget and fortunately she has knack for making the impossible possible.  In general we have a similar aesthetic as well which helps in creating this kind of complex conceptual work efficiently.
I love the analogue nature of this work, what made you refrain from compositing layers of images?
I have a general philosophy with my work to do what ever I can in camera.  I’m an absolute fanatic of all things props, so if it can be made and we can afford to do it will go that route.  While I’m a big user of photoshop and am incorporating CGI more and more into some of my work I think things can often get a bit cheesy and over processed looking.  There’s definitely a certain charm to an image with a traditional analogue approach and I try to make sure which ever way I go it was a choice based on creating the best possible image for each particular assignment.
Did you choose cotton rather than fog juice or any other special effect because it would have been to hard to control and last.
Not really.  I’ve done a lot of stuff using fog effect and it can be manipulated pretty easily in photoshop, and much more forgiving if its not captured perfectly in camera.  It was purely an aesthetic choice on my part.  I think the image is much more successful because of how the rocket smoke was handled, its really integral to the overall analogue feel I was aiming for.
Any particular difficulties along the way?
Not so much that anything that was super difficult – there are always a couple surprises in this line of work.  Often when I do conceptual work its there is something we do for the first time, in this case we had to figure out how to chainsaw the cubicle wall.  Of course it wasn’t simple as just taking the chainsaw to it. there was quite a bit of precision sawing and dissecting as well as drywall thrown at the chainsaw while in action to give the effect of it actually cutting through.

Pricing & Negotiating: Motion For Small Business Service Company

by Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Testimonials, man-on-the-street interviews and b-roll video of an annual corporate conference

Licensing: Web Collateral use of one 2:00 minute edited video

Location: Hotel conference center

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Portrait, Lifestyle and Motion Specialist

Agency: N/A – Client Direct

Client: A Small Business Services Company

A few months ago, one of our California-based photographers asked me to help her pull together an estimate for a motion shoot. Although the photographer had a long-standing relationship with this particular client, they’d never asked her to provide motion coverage. The client asked her to shoot four testimonial interviews of the executive team, man-on-the-street interviews of the other attendees and b-roll footage of the event in general. Ultimately, the client wanted to put together a 2:00 introduction/about video for their corporate website to loop on a flat screen at trade shows (within the context of the website). The client would be providing the shooting space, interviewers and scheduling the executives. The client also reserved a room for the testimonials so that the photographer could work in a mostly controlled environment with plenty of available light.

Since we were working directly with the client and providing the editing services, this presented a great opportunity to limit the licensing to their very specific needs (it is not uncommon in the motion world to work under a work for hire agreement or grant unrestricted usage). We seized the opportunity and put together an estimate including limited usage of the final piece.

Based on the needs of the client, we decided to price this out as a two-camera shoot including the photographer/director who would run camera 1, and a DP to manage the minimal lighting and run camera 2. In this case, the DP would be working under the instruction of the photographer/director and sign a work for hire agreement (much like a second photographer on a still shoot), to streamline the licensing process for the client (and photographer).

To arrive at the licensing fee, I took into account the intended audience (trade), limited use (collateral only), shelf-life (this event takes place every year, and the finished piece would likely include footage of current clients, who may not be clients next year) and level production (the team really only needed to show up and shoot). I also considered how much a comparable day of still shooting would yield and what a comparable licensing fee would be for those stills. After weighing all of the factors, we landed at $5,500 for the photographer/director’s creative and licensing fee. Since the client understood relative licensing values on the still side, they were comfortable negotiating limited licensing terms on the motion side as well. Not all clients are as flexible with regard to motion, but it’s always worth the attempt.

Here’s the approved estimate:

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 2.50.28 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 2.50.59 PM

Grip: A grip is the motion world equivalent of a first assistant, though they are typically more specialized. They set up all the grip equipment and manage basic lighting under the direction of the director or the DP. Complex lighting or electrical work may require a gaffer. In this case, the photographer planned to shoot mostly available light and would only need a couple of florescent light banks for the testimonials, so a single grip would suffice.

Director of Photography: As I mentioned above, the DP would be running camera 2 and helping to manage the lighting. A DP is generally more experienced and has the expertise and wherewithal to operate independently of the director. Their rates vary based on the nature of the project and level of involvement required. In this case, we got a quote from a colleague experienced in corporate motion work.

Audio Engineer: Like location scouts, audio engineers have pretty standard rates, regardless of where they’re based or the details of the shoot. $800 covers their day rate and basic recording equipment.

Equipment: $2200 covered costs for two DSLR camera systems, lenses, mounting and grip equipment and two florescent light banks. The photographer and DP owned all of the equipment and would be renting to the production at the market rate.

Editing and Color Grading: We got an editing quote from an editor who the photographer had worked with in the past. $1000/minute is a good rule of thumb for editing costs, but that can fluctuate with the content available, number of revisions, quality of footage and graphic elements required.

File Transfer: This covered the FTP and hard drive costs to share the content with the client for review throughout editing and delivery.

Groomer: We included a groomer to make sure the testimonial subjects (executives), who were supposed to arrive camera ready, looked their best. The groomer would handle basic hair and make up styling and wardrobe finessing.

Miles, Parking, Shipping, etc: This covered out of pocket expenses the photographer and crew would accrue between mileage, parking, crew meals, shipping costs and any other miscellaneous expenses that may be incurred.

Housekeeping (see the project description): I noted all of the production elements the client would be providing. In this case, we were relying on the client to provide the locations, subject scheduling and necessary releases. The client also planned to guide the subjects through their interviews, which under normal circumstances could fall under the responsibility of the director.

The client reviewed our first estimate and asked for a revision excluding the man-on-the street component. Although the team would be generating less content overall, the time on site wouldn’t change significantly (it would still be about a full day) and the deliverable, a 2:00 finished piece, wouldn’t be impacted, which meant the value of the licensing wouldn’t really be impacted either. If it were entirely up to me, I wouldn’t have adjusted the fees at all, however the photographer felt a small decrease was reasonable. We presented an option with a $1000 lower bottom line, all of which came out of the creative/licensing fee. Seeing that the decrease was marginal, the client opted for the original approach.

Results, Hindsight and Feedback: The photographer/director shot the project and the client has since come back asking to set up another shoot to capture similar content at their corporate headquarters.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns.