The Art of the Personal Project: Rhea Anna

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects. A personal project is the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director/photo editor or graphic designer. This column features the personal projects of photographers who use the database for their marketing with Yodelist. You can read their blog at

Today’s featured photographer is: Rhea Anna










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How long have you been shooting?
I’m trying to remember the first time I picked up a camera. Grade school… maybe. I’ve been obsessed with photography forever, and this obsession still burns bright in me to this day. My brain just thinks in images. I remember in pictures. In my head, I’m constantly framing flashes of moments and thoughts.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
My journey in photography started in college but was in no way a direct route. I received a BFA in photography from SUNY College in Buffalo NY and then took a detour and found myself as a first mate on a sailboat in the Caribbean. After 5 years of traveling the seas, I made my way back north and started freelance assisting for photographers in the Rochester area (think RIT, Kodak, IBM…). With some perspective and a new sense of direction, assisting helped me pick up where I left off with my education. I consider assisting the most important part of my education. It was here that I combined the theoretical piece from my fine arts background with the technical insights learned in studios across Rochester that I really started to shift from exploring photography to being a photographer. My love for learning the craft has never stopped and I still enjoy taking weekend workshops and seminars whenever I can.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Throughout my career, there’s been a piece of advice that seems to come up over and over again. Find your Voice. Find your point of view. Now express it in your work. I’ve been working with this in mind for years, I think that’s what makes my lifestyle work consistent. This advice is something every successful commercial photographer pulls into their process, and rightfully so because it’s helped develop a lot successful careers. That said, I’ve also found that it can be a bit confining at times. With inspiration hitting me from every direction, there are so many ways of seeing, so many ways for me to interpret those images swirling around in my head.

For this project, I gave myself the gift of releasing myself from those boundaries. The inspiration was to go out and push myself to shoot this work without feeling like the images needed to fit into the portfolio or speak to a particular audience. I wanted to be that little girl obsessed with photography, but before she learned to be a commercial photographer.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
Taking on a personal project these days is a particularly complex task for me. My business has morphed into two (photography and directorial/dp work) and I’m the mom of two school age girls. At a certain point something’s gotta give and for me that’s the long term personal project. This work was one month in planning and was shot in 6 days.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Personal projects can mean so many things. I’ve always admired photographers dedicated to an idea or a cause so much so that they’ve committed to shooting the project for years. In my case, my personal project was more like creative play, a push to experiment, less about a well thought out idea and more like an investigation into something raw and unexplored. You can’t really over think this kind of personal project. ‘Anything goes’ was the philosophy here, as long as it felt like I was listening to my own voice. Of course, it didn’t always go like that though. The first day I was constantly trying to shake off my lifestyle hat, which took some time and was really uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I love that lifestyle hat, but I just needed to try on something different here; something that felt like risk. I needed a change in my photographic energy, so I could continue to be excited about creating imagery. Sometimes your work grows the most when you see an edge and you walk right up to it, maybe even jump.

In the end, there are some images I really love, and they will help pave new directions for my future work, both personal and professional.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
When shooting for my book, I’m always thinking about that imaginary client or brand. My goal is to create images that emotionally connect with a client. I want to show them I can capture a moment that will resonate with their customers. My personal project didn’t have a product in mind. In most of the shots, I wasn’t even thinking about what market would find it appealing. So the work looks different, and it taps into a side of my work that’s a bit more introspective and edgy, and sometimes intentionally more somber than lifestyle imagery typically wants to be.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I do post personal work on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter albeit somewhat sporadically. I post to Instagram a whole lot more regularly, mainly because it’s more about the pictures and less about the commentary. Recently I’ve gotten most eyes on my work by posting on storytelling platforms like Storehouse and Shocase, and then publishing theose links on the aforementioned social media sites.

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’m still in love with print, and in the past I have traditionally hand printed my promos, cutting and assembling them in very small runs in my studio. The ‘small and select’ mailing has always been my m.o. Even though I’m not really able to be as hands on with it now, I do still regularly send personal work out in beautifully crafted print promos. Just now I’ve just finished reviewing design ideas for a promo with this body of work. It will go out to a very small group of creatives very soon.

Artist Statement
Visão de Portugal
Visão translates to vision, and this project was about rediscovering my own vision. It was about getting lost and finding a new way; it was about being out of my element.


Rhea is a creative collaborator, a commercial photographer, director, and DP.

She is best known for bringing a ‘zest for life’ to everyday lifestyle moments. With a close eye on style and design in her work and in her life, the images she captures are fun and carefree. Clients are drawn to Rhea because she is able to connect a deep sense of optimism and a love of life to the campaign’s concept.

Through Rhea’s lens, a road trip or an afternoon playing in the backyard becomes a modern day milestone… one of those moments that are forever etched in your memory as simply “the perfect day”.

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 establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies she decided to be a consultant in 1999.  She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be brand driven and not by specialty.  Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

A Photographer’s Cheat Sheet to Making It In the Industry

- - Working

By Demetrius Fordham

In 2013, I was commissioned by Ilex Press and Hachette to write a book entitled “What They Didn’t Teach You in Photo School,” which just launched in the U.S. this month. The entire book is essentially a long cheat sheet on how to make it in the industry, based on the wisdom and advice of over 20+ photographers, photo editors, consultants, and industry leaders that I interviewed over the course of a year.

Though they covered every photography-related topic imaginable—from portfolio editing to managing finances—their collective advice can essentially be distilled into the following points. I hope you’ll find the following tips as helpful and enlightening as I did, regardless of how long you’ve been in the industry.

Find a mentor.
“You should never be the smartest person in the room,” was the best advice anyone ever gave me. It applies very literally to a career in photography: surround yourself with people who are smarter than you—they’ll push you to grow. Almost all of the photographers I interviewed cited a mentor, someone they went to for advice even long after they’d “made it,” someone who offered continual guidance and feedback on their work (generally a more illustrious, seasoned photographer). “Tap into the wisdom and genius of those who came before you,” advises commercial photographer Peter “Poby” Pobypicz. “Learn from their mistakes and lessons.”

Get business-savvy.
Without exception, the most successful photographers I met were the ones who treated their photography career like the business that it is. “The thing that holds back a lot of photographers is not having a plan, simply going from gig to gig,” says commercial and documentary photographer Doug Menuez. “They don’t have an understanding of the business side—the thing we all hate—and as a result, they never have enough cash to create the portfolio and marketing they need to establish themselves. It’s necessary to write a business plan that clearly states what the end game is, and how you see yourself getting there over however many years.”

Though making a living entirely from taking photographs is the dream, it’s becoming increasingly harder to realize. The reality is that to survive in this industry in the long-term, you’ll need to get creative and find ways to capitalize on your passion in more ways than one. “I would strongly advise having multiple income streams across different sectors of the industry, because unless you are a category killer, you are not going to make a living doing 100% editorial,” says photographer Robert Wright. “More likely, you’ll need a mix of publishing, stock, book publishing, corporate, consulting—some sort of blend so that when one revenue stream dwindles the others take up the slack.”

Get face-to-face.
Now, more than ever, making the effort to meet people and cultivate real world relationships is crucial to a photographer’s success. “Getting out there is key,” says Pobypicz. “You can’t sit at home hoping the phone will ring if you don’t show your face, literally. Insist on face-to-face meetings with clients you want to work with.” Even making real life connections that are indirectly work-related—taking a fellow photographer out for a beer, meeting a photo editor for coffee—helps to build networks that can serve you in the future.

Think outside the box.
Experts say that there’s no better time to be different, so don’t concern yourself too deeply with what will “sell,” or try to adapt your individual style into something that’s more commercial or mainstream. “Don’t be afraid of niche areas you’re interested in,” says Menuez. “There’s this amazing work being done by a guy shooting dogs jumping in pools that’s getting lots of attention. Now it’s all about finding your own thing that’s all yours, that you are passionate about, and then shoot that like hell.”

Have a good attitude.
Think it’s common sense? You’d be surprised. “This industry seems to spawn some huge egos of the ‘legends-in-their-own-mind’ variety, and in my experience, it always catches up with them,” says Ellen Erwitt, owner and producer at Big Splash Productions. “There are many photographers that can do one given job, and, all things being equal, the one that will get hired is the one with the best attitude and most simpatico personality. The one who contributes yet listens, is receptive to ideas, and is a team player.”

For more detailed advice on how to make it in today’s industry, pick up a copy of “What They Didn’t Teach You in Photo School,” available at Barnes & Noble stores, local bookstores, Urban Outfitters stores, and online at

The Daily Edit – David Lopez: Have a Nice Day

- - The Daily Edit
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Have a Nice Day

Photographer: David Lopez

“Have a Nice Day” is framed around the fast food industry. How did you develop this idea and what were you wanting to express?
After high school just about all of my friends were working in the fast food industry while trying to pay for college. Like most people in that line of work their favorite topic of conversation was sharing fast food horror stories. One of my favorite stories was from an employee that had to deal with a customer that was so upset that his food was taking a little longer than expected that he punched out the window screen at the counter. He received his food shortly after because apparently the customer is always right, even when they throw a tantrum and destroy company property. My friends all shared this similar feeling of frustration and belittlement so years later I began trying to capture the feeling that my friends were describing. It just so happened that at the time I began to develop this idea a friend of mine was starting a magazine (Compound Butter) that was focused on junk food and was looking for collaborators. So the first two portraits I shot for Have a Nice Day were used for her magazine. I received a lot of positive feedback from my professors at Art Center so the project took off from there.


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Did you direct the workers ?
I try not to direct the workers much. I’m working very quickly when i’m shooting their portraits because they’re usually on their breaks and don’t want to deal with me. So I tend to pick a location beforehand and then let them inhabit the scene however they feel comfortable. At the very beginning of the project I was still getting comfortable approaching people so there were times that I spent up to an hour sitting in a restaurant waiting to get the courage to ask for a portrait. It’s been a great way to get me out of my comfort zone.

The images are graphic, have color pop, is that why you chose to shoot a doughnut; to have the color and graphic backbone get reinforced?
Yes! I’m glad you caught that because it’s something that’s very important to the project. From the very beginning I’ve been drawn to the relationship between the colorful environments juxtaposed against the unappreciated employees working behind the counter. It doesn’t matter what fast food restaurant I walk into I always feel like i’m being slapped in the face by this artificial experience that’s been manufactured to make me feel happy. It all goes back to the title of the project. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to constantly tell someone to have a nice day while you’re standing there having the worst day ever.

Did you drop the shake or was that a lucky find? What drew you to this, was it mix of graphic and organic shapes or more the “surprise” of a shake on the ground?
The shake on the floor was a lucky find or as my professor Ken Merfeld would say, “a gift from the photo gods.” I could’ve easily set up a shot like this but it’s really important for me to keep the project as honest and straight forward as possible. I may be the one documenting but at the end of the day I’m trying to tell the story of the under appreciated employee who has to go out clean up that mess.

How long did this body of work take?
I’ve been working on Have a Nice Day on and off for a year now. As a side project I’ve started collecting the receipts from the restaurants I photograph to have a written document that will explain why I’ve been gaining so much weight lately. My next project is going to have to involve some sort of physical exercise so I can even things out.

Will this be ongoing or a one-off for you?
This project is definitely something I plan on continuing. Especially right now while there is so much debate over minimum wage for fast food employees. New York and Los Angeles have raised the minimum wage up to $15 but many cities have yet to follow their lead. I’ve even begun to notice some restaurants implementing touch screens to replace wage earning humans. So this is a very crucial point for the narrative of the project that I need to document.

Did you give yourself a specific radius for the fast food places? 
I’m open to traveling as far as I have to for the right fast food restaurant. Right now I have my eye on a Del Taco that’s on the way to Las Vegas. Apparently it’s the first one that was opened so the design of the restaurant hasn’t been changed since 1964. There’s also a Taco Bell up north in Pacifica that’s been described as “the most beautiful Taco Bell in the world” it’s an isolated little lodge that sits right on the beach. I’ve seen some pictures on yelp and it has to be the strangest looking Taco Bell I have ever seen but I can’t wait to get up there. It’s also a good excuse to eat a cheesy gordita crunch with the sand in my toes.


The Daily Promo: Tom Hussey

- - The Daily Promo

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Tom Hussey

Who printed it?
I printed the images in house on a really nice feeling Red River paper.

Who designed it?
The concept for the promo series came from my Producer, Patty Hudson and I.  The envelope design is by Craig Carl and the copy is by Diane Carl.

Who edited the images?
I did.

How many did you make?
 Each “Mini Promo” is limited to an edition printing of 450.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
We send things out twelve times a year of various types and various quantities.

Why did you choose to do a mini print? I enjoyed how something so small could have such a large impact.
As the size of the standard cubical shrinks in the ad agency world, we thought it would be good to send a Mini promo.  I thought if we sent a really nicely printed, and yet smaller size piece of art, it would offer the creatives an opportunity to have a Mini gallery of my work.  That’s what it’s all about . . . keeping my brand in front of creatives and giving them something special and beautiful to look at.

Chicago’s Filter Photo Festival – Part 1

by Jonathan Blaustein

Sometimes I write funny columns, and sometimes I don’t. It all depends on my mood, and the subject matter. (Not to mention
what’s going in in the world at the moment.)

In the last big election cycle, for instance, the Presidential contest offered a bounty of humor-related-circumstances, thanks to Mitt Romney. That guy was a walking punchline, with a jaw bigger than El Capitan, and a man-of-the-people vibe right up there with John Kerry windsurfing in over-sized Oakleys.

(Oh, Mitt, we miss you so.) His opponent, one President Barack Obama, is harder to mock, mostly because I love the guy. He may have been raised in Hawaii and Indonesia, but the dude seems Chicago through and through.

This time around, we’ve got Donald J. Trump; he of the orange skin and genetically modified pompadour. Much smarter, funnier writers have harpooned him constantly, so I won’t really bother.

But man, does that guy come off like a clueless asshole. I couldn’t think less of him if he rode into a press conference on the back of a Mexican farmworker.

Until I went to Chicago last month, that is. Then, my opinion of him was forced up off the mat, if only slightly.


Because I had a moment, walking down a crooked street, late in the day, when the moist afternoon light was glimmering off his recently built skyscraper, the Trump Tower Chicago, that sits astride a wing of the Chicago river.

It simply took my breath away. Wow. What a beautiful building. Magnificent, even if most of the Chicagoans with whom I spoke told me he broke an unwritten local rule by plastering his name on the facade.

They seem to love it begrudgingly, the locals, as the structure blocks the view of a Mies Van Der Rohe classic, and was built by, well, The Donald.

Everyone also told me it was designed by Adrian Smith of Skidmore Owings and Merrill, and I now know the city is filled with architecture geeks. And why wouldn’t it be, given how remarkable the buildings are, up and down the city center?

Skyscraper after skyscraper mocks the idea of gravity, blending art and commerce more perfectly than a Chicago deep dish pizza sauce. (That was my one culinary goal for the trip: to eat some badass deep dish pizza. Never happened. The schedule was simply too packed. C’est la vie.)

Now, I’m not here to praise The Donald, but rather to use him as an introduction to my first article in a series about the Filter Photo Festival in the last week of September.

And? How was it?

Pretty fabulous, I must say. I went to Chicago knowing next-to-no one. Posse-less, you might say.

Which left me free to meet people, and hang out with the coolest folks I could find. It just so happened that I connected with the staff that runs the festival, so I got something of a locals-eye-view of the proceedings, and am better for it. (Big shout out to Erin, Sarah, Lauren, Pepper, Chris, Doug and Jeff.)

New Yorkers are famous for being neurotic and busy. Los Angelinos for being full of shit. (No offense.) Taoseños are crazy, and San Franciscans are more progressive than Edward Snowden.

But Chicagoans? Mostly, they’re known for being nice, friendly, down-to-Earth, humble Midwesterners. That’s what I’d heard, anyway.

And I can now properly report that it’s true. At least, that’s what I found in 5+ days, running around for nearly 20 hours a day. It’s enough time, and I chatted with enough people, that I’m prepared to state it here, with the kind of brash over-confidence that the New York-reared Donald would approve of.

(When I’m elected President, I promise that all Americans will suddenly become fabulously wealthy, and Vladimir Putin will step down in fear of me. ISIS will admit they’re just frustrated they can’t get laid without resorting to sexual slavery, so after we give them all a big trip to Vegas, on me, that Syrian War will be over in 2 seconds. You have my word on it!)

Where were we?

Right. Chicago rocks. It’s a clean mega-city with incredible architecture, a beautiful beach-fronted lake, terrific food, lovely people, and all the culture one could consume.

I didn’t get out as much as I would have liked, as I reviewed between 50-60 portfolios over four days, and delivered the 21st Century Hustle lecture on the final day of the festival.

Throw in a brilliant, late-night karaoke session in a Downtown Japanese sake bar, and by the time I left on Monday morning, my voice had disappeared entirely. No exaggeration. I went to thank the check out clerk at 6am, and nothing came out but the kind of squeaks you hear when you accidentally call a fax machine. (Do they still have fax machines these days?)

As usual, I’ll be showing you a bunch of portfolios in the coming weeks. I saw a lot of accomplished work, and plenty that was not, as the review was not juried.

These days, if I think work is resolved and interesting, I’ll show it to you, even if it’s not exactly to my preferred taste. (Which I’ve discussed in several recent book reviews.)

The verdict on the festival is that it’s pretty amazing, and I’d heartily recommend you give it a try next September, if you’re looking to attend a review. The Filter staff work hard, keep it real, and make sure everyone has a great time.

For that, they have my gratitude. As for the portfolios, we’ll commence now. As is the norm, they are not in any particular order, and I won’t inundate you with too much work in any one article. A series it shall be.

We’ll start with Anja Bruehling, a German artist based in Chicago. Anja showed me work she made on a visit to a rural brick factory in India. We discussed the difficulty of doing what amounts to parachute documentary photography, and I recommended that she dig a little deeper, if she wanted her work to stand out. I thought these particular images were worth showing.

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I recognized Stan Raucher’s name, though we’d never met. (Facebook friend, apparently.) Stan showed me pictures from his forthcoming Daylight book, in which he photographed in Metros across the world. We talked about whether one ought to wait for a book, as Dewi Lewis suggested in our interview, or grab the first opportunity that comes along. Tough call. But Stan is very excited about his book, which is due out in Spring 2016.

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Garrett Hansen was one of the few photographers I’d met who was classically trained, as he got an MFA in the excellent program at Indiana University. He showed me two conceptual projects that investigate gun violence in a genuinely innovative way, and I expect his work will do very well. These images are bullet holes from a gun range that have light exposed through them, and are then enlarged and printed. They’re visceral and smart, without being obvious.









Suzanne Garr was another artist, like Anja, who was visiting the far side of the world to make work. She photographs in an orphanage in Uganda, where she volunteers, and has been there multiple times. We spoke at length about the difference between sweet, mushy images, and pictures that demonstrate a visual tension. We sifted through her photos together, and agreed these were the pictures with the most bite.








Now, we’re going to have dueling creepy doll projects. The first series is by Chicago photographer Jessica Tampas, who originally showed me a project in which she’d taught herself the wet plate collodion process. Very impressive to have done so, but the pictures were not yet resolved.

These creepy doll pictures, however, were right on the money. Jessica collected vintage dolls, mostly from Europe, and I think the typology-style works very well here. Dolls are a well-worn subject matter, of course, but I’m always interested to see artists bring a fresh energy into the mix.











Susan Keiser comes to photography from a painting background, and I think her use of color reflects that. She also showed me a doll-based series, but her issue was that some of the pictures were not disturbing enough. I warned her that such images can veer towards “sentimental abstraction,” but this particular group has a tension that balances well with her remarkable color palette.









Believe it or not, Nelson Armour was one of two artists working with their own excrement. (The other will pop up in the next issue of Photographers Quarterly.) Nelson is working on a project that examines the pollution in Lake Michigan, and he’s experimenting with collaged images. Some were really cheesy, I felt, and others were nuanced and smart. The range was striking, but I think these four images are dynamite.

BP Oil Spill

BP Oil Spill

BP Oil Spill

BP Oil Spill

OK, that’s all for today. Sorry about the Cubs, Chicago folks, but as I grew up a Mets fan before I got bored of baseball, I was actually happy with the result. (Don’t hate me.)

The Art of the Personal Project: Darren Carroll

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects. A personal project is the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director/photo editor or graphic designer. This column features the personal projects of photographers who use the database for their marketing with Yodelist. You can read their blog at

Today’s featured photographer is: Darren Carroll

Old-School Barbecue

Old-School Barbecue

Old-School Barbecue

Old-School Barbecue

Old-School Barbecue

Old-School Barbecue

Old-School Barbecue

Old-School Barbecue

Old-School Barbecue

Old-School Barbecue

Old-School Barbecue

Old-School Barbecue

How long have you been shooting?
About 25 years, 20 of them professionally.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Primarily self-taught. I first picked up a camera in high school, taught myself how to use it, shot on my own all through college (I was working on a political science degree), and only after that did I make it down to Austin to attend graduate school in the journalism department at the University of Texas.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I’d been a fan of the barbecue at Smitty’s Market for a long time, ever since I moved to Austin in the mid-1990s. Coming from New York by way of Washington DC, I had never seen anything like it. Not just the food, mind you—although that’s reason in and of itself to go there. There was something about the authenticity of the place. They have a very old-school way of doing things—there’s no automation, no thermometers, timers, or anything like that. Everything is done by hand, by feel, and by instincts — instincts honed by years of experience and decades of doing things the same way, and without compromise. And don’t forget I shot this back in 2009, long before the barbecue craze took hold, both in Austin and around the country. These guys had been doing barbecue this way since before any of these new celebrity barbecue chefs (I can’t believe those three words can actually coexist in the same sentence) were even a glint in their parents’ eyes or in the sights of Visa’s marketing strategists.

More than anything, I had fallen in love with the the light in the building— at certain times during the day it just bounces around in there through these old, dirty, diffused panes of glass and mingles with the smoke and the dark, soot-stained walls of the pit room. I really wanted to be able to play with that.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I only spent about three days, total, shooting it. To be honest, this one was more of a diversion—something that interested me artistically and aesthetically, but it’s also something I knew I could shoot in a couple of days, and so when I had a few days off I just figured it would be a good time to head down to Lockhart (a little town about 30 miles south of Austin) and make it happen.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
It all depends. Some you just know, everything is right in front of you and there is a finite amount of things to shoot — almost as if it were an actual editorial assignment. It all clicks into place and you can get through what you wanted—and needed— to shoot in a couple of days. Others—like one that I have been, and am still working on, on Charreada, a Mexican form of rodeo, can take years because every time I go out to work on it I discover something new, and I don’t want to stop because I’m genuinely curious about what the next shoot is going to bring.

Back when I shot the Smitty’s project, I was primarily a sports photographer. I was looking for ways to branch out and trying to come up with projects that I could do in a minimal amount of time that would help establish my reputation as more than just a guy who could shoot action. This seemed like a good way to not only merge my interests with something I could present to achieve that goal, but also something that could be done quickly, working within the confines of what was an otherwise busy travel schedule.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I’m not sure I understand the question…I look at everything I do as a potential portfolio piece, regardless of its origin as an assignment, or a cohesive body of personal work, or even just a one-off, randomly “found” picture on the street. I get just as much satisfaction from a well-executed and successful editorial assignment, commercial shoot, or personal project.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yes, I have a couple of Tumblr feeds ( and ) and am on Instagram (@dcarrollphoto).

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

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes, I have —  promo cards and pieces, books, and sourcebooks.

Artist Statement:
Although it’s only been around for bout fifteen years, if walking into Smitty’s Market gives you the sense that it’s been there for a long, long time, that’s because it has. Sort of. Started in 1924 (or so legend has it) by a man named Kreuz as a butcher shop and general store with a couple of brick barbecue pits in the back, it was taken over by Edgar Schmidt—“Smitty,” to the locals of Lockhart, Texas—back in 1948.
Schmidt retained the Kreuz name–as did his progeny who took over the shop and, in the mid-1990s, moved the by then-famous barbecue enterprise about a mile up the road to a cavernous, gleaming paean to commercial restaurant modernity, resulting in a nearly-as-famous family feud about the past, present, and future of the business. Enter Smitty’s daughter Nina, her husband Jim, and her son, John, who in 1999 decided to take over the original shop and make sure it kept doing what it had always done. One side of the family kept the Kreuz name, the other kept the building and the pits. And it’s those pits in the back, still in existence and operating on a daily basis, that have provided nearly a century’s worth of the smoke which fills the rooms and cakes the walls of the restaurant with a rich, silvery brown patina which today’s most technologically advanced color sampling programs could never duplicate.
But that’s what a place like Smitty’s is all about–the realization that there are some things that a machine could never do. The ingrained belief that it’s not a matter of being old-fashioned (although the customer experience it creates is a good by-product), but that authenticity means being genuine to the core and not taking even the slightest technological shortcut. There’s something to be said for not giving in to the lure of automation, and standing by the credo that good barbecue depends simply on fire, a well-built smoker, good cuts of meat, and someone who knows how to put all three together without a timer, a thermometer, a computer program, or, God forbid, a propane tank.
Of course that’s an oversimplification, and to an outsider smoking a hunk of beef or pork appears an easy thing to do—in some ways, just as the idea “taking a picture” seems simple. But spend enough time watching the pit masters and the sausage-makers and the butchers relying on nothing but their senses and intuition to consistently deliver the quality and the sensory experience that makes a visit to the place memorable, and you realize that it’s not so simple to put it all together.
But don’t take it from me. Next time you’re in Austin, take a drive about 30 miles south to the little town of Lockhart. Drive past the giant tourist trap of Kreuz Market and pull off U.S. highway 183 into the dirt and gravel parking lot.  Walk through the back door and let the smoke hit you as you stroll past the open flame of the pit, and order your meat. It’ll be served up on a piece of butcher paper with nothing but some white bread and a knife–there are no forks here. Plunk down your cash (no credit cards, please), take your package, and find an empty folding chair at one of the community tables in the dining room. Dig in.
It’s just that simple.

Darren Carroll is a commercial and editorial photographer specializing in portrait and sports work with a photojournalistic approach. Clients include Sports Illustrated, ESPN:The Magazine, Forbes, Hyatt Hotels, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. A New York native, he lives just outside of Austin, Texas with his wife Jessica, son Jake, and golden retriever, Shea.

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 establishing 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 feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

Pricing and Negotiating: In-Store Lifestyle Shoot for a Retailer

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Lifestyle images of families shopping and interacting

Licensing: Unlimited use of 20 images for 3 years

Location: A retail store on the West Coast

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Southern-based lifestyle specialist.

Agency: None. Client direct.

Client: A Midwestern-based retailer specializing in children’s products

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: The client proposed a very ambitious shot list describing various scenarios featuring parents and children interacting with products in their store. After a conversation on what was accomplishable in one day and determining which shots were just “nice to have” as time allowed, we settled on 20 images to initially be licensed for three years of unlimited use.

As in most instances with this type of licensing, their requested use wasn’t 100% in line with their intended use and it was clear that although they may have taken advantage of the full licensing for one or two images, most of the images would primarily be used for collateral purposes only. With that in mind, I decided to first determine a price for one year of licensing and then extrapolate to determine what I thought was appropriate for three years. I initially priced the first image at $3,000, images two through five at $1,500 each, images six through ten at $750 each and images eleven through twenty at $500 each. I doubled the total to account for the requested three-year licensing duration and then took a look at how that broke out on a per-image basis. It prorated to $1,775/image, which I then reduced to just over $1,000/image given the probability of their intended use. While I would have liked to increase the creative/licensing fee, I felt that it may have been pushing the limit of what was appropriate for a one-day shoot for this type of project/client based on similar projects I’ve worked on previously and I also had my eye on the overall bottom line, which I felt was reaching the client’s threshold.

Based on the pro-rated per image fee I calculated, I noted the cost of additional images if they wanted to license any of the “nice to have” shots captured throughout the day. I also provided an option to increase the licensing from three years to five years for an additional 50% of the fee and from three years to perpetual use for 100% of the fee. While we provided these options as requested by the client, I felt that the shelf life of the images was actually likely to be less than three years given the fact that many of the products featured in the images would ultimately be replaced within that time frame.

Photographer Travel/Scout Days: In a previous version of the estimate, I suggested to the photographer that we include one scout day and two travel days at $1,000 each since she was coming in from out of town and it would be advantageous to take a look around the store and meet with the client prior to the shoot day. The photographer opted to waive her travel day fees since she frequently visited friends/family in the area and decided to also waive her scout day fee in an effort to reduce the bottom line. Rather than removing the lines altogether, we decided to keep them in and simply include a “fee waived” note so the client would know that the photographer was willing to offer a discount.

B-Roll Videographer and Audio Tech: The client was originally hoping for the photographer to capture video and audio content throughout the day in addition to the still images. While she had a bit of experience shooting video, the shot list was so ambitious that we felt the production would be jeopardized if she had to switch back and forth from stills to video throughout the day. We therefore included a separate videographer along with an audio tech for the day and specifically noted that they’d be a “B-Roll” videographer to set the client’s expectations regarding the type of content they’d be capturing throughout the day. We also noted that any and all video editing would be provided by the client in the “Job Description” section of the estimate.

Assistants and Digital Tech: We anticipated that the photographer’s first assistant would attend the scout day and that they’d be joined by a second assistant and a digital tech on the shoot day. I typically anticipate a $500 day rate for a digital tech and I added in an extra $500 for them to bring a laptop and/or a workstation for the photographer to tether to.

Producer and Production Assistant: The photographer had a local producer lined-up for this project and we anticipated three prep days, one scout day, one shoot day and one day to wrap everything up. We also included a PA for the shoot day as well as an additional day for either the scouting or for other prep time to help the producer.

Hair/Makeup/Wardrobe/Prop Styling: We included a hair/makeup stylist along with an assistant to help prep the talent on the shoot day, as well as a wardrobe stylist (also with an assistant) to shop for and prep the clothing. I anticipated that the wardrobe stylist would need three shopping days and one shoot day and that their assistant would help shop for two of those days, attend the shoot and then return the wardrobe afterwards. I figured that $300/person would be a good starting point for four adults and ten children and I rounded the total up a bit for some buffer. As for prop styling, we were told that while the client would be able to provide nearly all of the props and products, that one or two scenarios might call for some supplemental shopping items like boxes, gift bags and purses/wallets. I had originally anticipated two prep days for the stylist, but the photographer had corresponded with a stylist who was comfortable with just a half-day to pick up some of these items and suggested a budget of $500. It seemed light at first glance, but the client emphasized that these items would be supplemental and hoped to keep this part of the estimate/production as light as possible.

Live Casting and Talent: The photographer used to live in the city where the shoot was taking place and had really strong connections with local talent and agents. We included one day for the talent options to come to a studio and have their headshots taken for consideration and wrapped up all of the prep time, equipment and expenses into one line item. While the usage was extensive, the shoot was in a market where $1,000/day for an adult and $750/day for a child could bring in a decent talent pool. These rates were also based on the local producer’s previous experience on similar projects and we were therefore confident that the rates would suffice.

Equipment: I anticipated that the photographer would be traveling with her gear and included $1,500/day (and figured that most rental houses offer a “three days same as a week” discount). This was to cover wear and tear on her camera bodies, lenses, grip and lighting. If she ended up needing to actually rent gear, we previously included an extra day for a production assistant to help pick up equipment as needed and figured this rate would cover those items as well.

Airfare, Lodging and Car Rental: As noted earlier, while the photographer would incur these expenses, she was willing to work as a local and absorb the cost.

Shoot Processing for Client Review, Color Correction, File Cleanup and Delivery: While a digital tech would be on site to help manage the workflow, we included $500 to account for the photographer’s time to do an initial edit and provide a web gallery of the entire shoot. The client was willing to handle any necessary retouching, but asked that the photographer at least clean up the final selects a bit and apply a color correction treatment for which we charged $75/image.

Catering: We anticipated nine people on the scout day and up to 41 people on the shoot day (including crew, client, adult talent and child talent along with their parents) and based the rate on $50 per person.

Mileage, Parking, Meals, Misc.: We included $350 to cover shopping meals/expenses for the stylists and $400 for miscellaneous expenses on the shoot and scout days.

Results: The photographer was awarded the job.

The Daily Edit – BEST: Steve Simko

- - The Daily Edit


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Fashion Director:
Wendy Rigg
Editor in Chief: Jane Ennis
Art Director: Owen Connolly
Photographer: Steven Simko

I know you like to golf, were you able to play while you were there?
Yes, actually, the opportunity to play St. Andrews was a major incentive to take the job (I’m a single handicap golfer). And on top of it, getting to shoot half a dozen fashion stories on location at the “Home of Golf” was beyond exciting – combining my two passions in one trip: photography and golf. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to play St Andrews, The Old Course as well as Kingsbarns.

How did this project come about?
I had recently reconnected with a fashion editor from London on Instagram whom I met light years ago. She had grown up in St. Andrews and was inspired to shoot some fashion stories in her home town after attending The Open Championship. She must have noticed all my “likes” were of photos she posted from The Open (she was following Dustin Johnson) and put together that I liked golf…the rest is history.

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
It was a great collaborative effort between myself and the editor of Best, a fashion weekly.  The idea was to juxtapose the stories/fashion and unique location. St. Andrews offered a variety of different backdrops. There’s a beautiful beach (West Sands Beach), which many have probably seen if they’ve watched The Open, spectacular fields and rolling countryside, and the town featured amazing historic ~15th century architecture. We also had the opportunity to shoot at the Cambo Estate that featured a stately home with stables and wild ponies.

What did the creative brief look like and where did the horse come from?
There were several creative briefs for the various shoots. For the one showcasing the horse – we were highlighting the winter coats within a “classic English seaside” setting. King, the retired race horse in the photos, was a last minute improvisation. He belonged to the editor’s niece and it ended up working out fabulously. While the model had never been around a horse and was one pretty scared Dutch girl, King was a sweetheart. When you put something like a horse into the mix, you just let them (the horse) do their thing, but you have to move fast!

Did you hire a local assistant?
No, I asked one of my local assistants to join me on the shoot. We’ve known each other for eight years and he’s assisted me on various jobs for the last four years. We have a great working relationship, and for a 4-day long shoot, it’s important to  have someone who’s knowledgable, has the ability to tackle problems that might arise, and help find solutions. Plus, he made a great golfing buddy.

Who produced the shoot for you?
The editor was the key person producing the shoot. While many aspects of the stories were a collaborative effort, including picking out the models, she really handled everything, from arranging talent (hair + make-up) and stylists/wardrobe to transportation and location. Mark Rigg of Links Golf Tours of St. Andrews was the anchor transportation. They are one of the premier golf tour companies in St. Andrews (think big Mercedes vans used to transport golfers). Upon arrival in St. Andrews our driver drove us onto the cart path on the 18th fairway of the Old Course and we took a snapshot in front on the R & A building (we look like deer caught in head lights) a dream come true for a golfer.




Did you prepare a carne for this gear list?
No carne was necessary but this is the gear we took with us …some of it stuffed in the golf travel bags :)

1- Canon 1DX 
2- Canon 5D MarkIII
3- Sony RX1R
4- (2) MacBook Pros
5- Digiplate Pro
6- Tripod
7- Sigma 50mm 1.4
8- Sigma 35mm 1.4
9- Canon 24-70mm 2.8
10- Canon 70-200mm 2.8
11- Profoto B2
12- TTL Air Remote
13- Sunbounce Sun Swatter (Black Net & White)
14- Westcott Bounce reflectors
15- ThinkTank Airport International V2.0
16- Crumpler Extravanganza
17- Tamrac Backpack

The Daily Promo: Meredith Jenks

- - The Daily Promo

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Meredith Jenks

Who printed it?

NOVA in Brooklyn. It’s nice because I can actually go to the press check. I’ve been printing my promos there for the last three years. Michael Artale is my contact, he is super patient and easy to work with.

Who designed it?
My studio mate Kristian Henson. He designed my promo last year too. I like working with him because I don’t feel shy telling him if something isn’t quite working and he takes my input and makes it even better.

Who edited the images?
Kristian and I worked on the edit together. I wanted to showcase some of my quieter work. People know me for poppy energetic photos so I wanted to show a bit of the other side in this piece.

How many did you make?

How many times a year do you send out promos?
1 big piece a year and sometimes, additionally, I’ll send a postcard. My agency apostrophe makes a couple promo pieces a year as well.

Have you seen direct feedback from your promos?
Last year I did a poster and got direct feedback in that I was rewarded an ad job because the art buyer received my promo and had it on her wall. That client hired me 3 times over the course of last year so the cost of that promo was paid for many times over. It is scary to spend that much money on something not knowing whether anyone is going to look at it at all, but I definitely believe in the saying “you have to spend money to make money”.

This Week In Photography Books: Zhang Xiao

by Jonathan Blaustein

I never tell my kids what to do. I always ask politely.
Why? Because I hate being bossed around.

Doesn’t everybody?

Or is my assumption too embedded in my role as an artist, a group of rebels if ever there was one. Not to mention American: we’re as entitled a group of “exceptional” people as you’re likely to find.

Are there places in the world where people relish being ordered about? Really, how mutable is the human condition?. When I see images of women in full niqab, or hell, even the actual woman I saw on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, I assume they’d rather be liberated.

Who wouldn’t want to drive a car? Or be allowed out of the house without a male escort? But am I mistaken? Do people like things just as they are? Perhaps culture runs deeper than we realize?

And what about autocratic societies that lack freedom of speech? How do people acclimate? Is it so repressive that you go out of your mind? Or do most folks easily adjust to a world of winks and sideways glances, rather than brash proclamations?

What is it really like to be Chinese, I wonder, in this century that seems theirs for the taking? Does the allure of wealth brought by Capitalism outweigh the frustration at having so little information filtered by the Great Firewall?

Again, I don’t know. (Am I attempting to break my own record for most rhetorical questions in one book review column?)

Regardless, I now have a much better real-world vision of what life is like in the Coastal regions of the Rising Tiger/Ancient Dragon, thanks to “Coastline,” a new-ish book by Zhang Xiao, published by Jiazazhi Limited. Before I ramble further, I will henceforth state that this is a really fantastic book, but it took some getting used to.

Open it up, and there’s an insert, folded over multiple times, and stuck in a little folder on the inside cover. I took it out, opened up, and found a few English essays among a larger grouping of what I took to be Mandarin text.

I looked at it, pondered for a moment, and then put it away. I wasn’t interested in being told what to think about the photos before I saw them. Return later, I figured. (So I did. The artist’s statement was far more enlightening than the mistranslated/typo-ridden Mandarin essays. Example: “Though the coastline separates the lad from the sea…”)

I began to leaf through the pages, and wasn’t yet captivated. Wow, I thought, this is a thick book. How many f-cking pictures are there?

Now, I often write about why a narrative structure is so important in a book. Progression, inter-relationships, ad nauseum. But I also admit that looking at books is experiential, and you have to be willing to bend to the situation.

So I began to flip towards the back. There are more than 100 photos, so it was a bit daunting to be so linear. To follow the rules. To be told what to look at, and when.

Flip forward. Flip back. Jump around, and the book comes to life. There is so much “LIFE” on display. Oddities, and normality, all rendered in a subtle color palette that announces itself over time.

There are pinks and blues and yellows, but he also handles brown and ochre with dignity. Two women wear white wedding dresses. Don’t they wear red in China at such moments? Is it a Westernization thing, or was I simply misinformed?

In one run, we get a man’s back, a man with his hand suggestively on another man’s back, and then a man doing pushups on the beach. Clever and cool. (There is a sub-theme of people doing physical exercises in random situations.)

Broadcasters interview subjects on the beach, a (drunk?) man from the provinces eyes the camera from beneath a metal stanchion, an ostrich runs amok, a dude walks down the street with his ass hanging out, and we close with a father (I assume) walking with his son, who’s wearing a white eye-patch.

A bonfire in front of a fake octopus. Swimmers. Fishermen. More and more.

Really, it’s a terrific collection of images, and most definitely shows us things we haven’t seen before. Not with this degree of authenticity, at least.

But can things actually be authentic in such situations? Do artists have to have their work censored, or approved, for books like this to be published in China? Again, I don’t know. But I’m more curious than ever before what life looks like in China 2015, and that is always the marker of an excellent photo-book.

Bottom Line: Awesome, thorough look at Coastal life in China

To Purchase “Coastline” Visit Photo-Eye























The Art of the Personal Project: Cole Barash

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects. A personal project is the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director/photo editor or graphic designer. This column features the personal projects of photographers who were nominated in LeBook’s Connections.

Today’s featured photographer is: Cole Barash

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How long have you been shooting?
Since I was 14, I think… So 14 years

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self taught. I tried going to photographer school and left after three weeks. Brooks was such a joke and rip off. I really wish I would have at least looked at a good school like Parsons, Pratt or Art Center in Pasadena which all have pretty legit programs.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Talk Story is about the sub culture of the North Shore of Hawaii that is loosely anchored around John John Florence (prodigy surfer). Every year thousands of photos are shot of all the action of the progression of surfing on the North Shore on Oahu. The beach is lined with huge telephoto lenses and always focused on the action. I wanted to go there and create a body of work that was complete opposite of that, 180 degrees away from the water. Digging deep into the rugged localized north shore culture showing portraits of specific influential people, the colors and anything my gut re acted on why making the work not worrying about if it was going to work or not. Also focusing on the home life of John John as he is a very soft spoken but huge part of surfing that is kept pretty under wraps.

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

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Depends. A few months to a year. I like to go out and make new initial work/ working images out from my brain- print them, look at them and see if it is worth exploring deeper and more details. I need to see it in a tangible way first- usually.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I make work that is quite different than what I am hired to shoot. Sometimes it has influences but mostly its different. When you are commissioned to make work you are under some one else approval, vision and at their mercy. Which is totally fine as I see it as a service that I can provide and can be into it as well. Personal work- I take pretty seriously and focus more time and energy on that than commercial work. When the commercial work comes it comes and I’m hyped to do it but I don’t stress on it or focus on how much money I can make every year. I focus on creating work from my gut, as it’s the only way I can progress personally- the only person I’m up against is myself. I want to create real bodies of work that puts my stamp on the map so when I die people can hopefully find my visions and different specific perspectives on certain things, which I do with books and prints.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yea mostly MySpace. ). Naw, haha of course I for sure have but it’s not something I rate it with. I measure my work from how the people I respect react to it not how many likes or re blogs it has.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Sure. Tumblr madness- and some press on certain projects has been great. I think it is now a really valuable way to spread news and show people what you’re working on or what you’re thinking but not necessarily as a whole or tangible object.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Definitely not. I don’t believe in making my art books as promos. I don’t make books to get more work I do it as a creative expression and a tangible perspective as well as a contribution to the printed community of art and photography. Not saying that my rep hasn’t made promos with images from personal work which she has and it has looked great but the books as promos- not me.

Talk Story
I wanted to create a body of work that to show the true colors, beauty, grit and life of the North shore anchored around John as a main subject. Portraying the life at home inner details that makes/made his life what it is. I made it to make a statement of an era of surfing and Hawaii that ideally you will be able to look back in 20 years in your hands and see with your own two eyes not through a computer screen. This was made as a contribution to surfing for nothing but the true salt, blood and bones its roots.


Cole Barash (b. 1987) began his journey when he left his New England home at sixteen to document snow and surf culture in California. Self-taught and dedicated, Cole soon made a name for himself. With an organic approach to film photography and a clever eye for composition, his portraiture and still lifes became known for their candid and spontaneous sense of intimacy.  Well acquainted with international subcultures, Cole seeks “subjects where the boundaries are more open, not as seasoned, not done before,” capturing “unpredictable outcomes in a predictable world.” In 2011, Cole relocated to Brooklyn, New York where he now resides permanently.      

One of PDN’s top 30 upcoming photographers (2009), Cole’s work has been featured in group shows “Get Gone” (2008), “SILENCE” (2009), “Hot Bed” (2013), One Eyed Jacks Gallery (2014) and the Annenberg Space (2015), and a solo exhibition “Cold Emotions” (2009) at Montanero Gallery in New Port, RI. Cole’s first monograph book, Talk Story, and accompanying exhibition opened at Brooklyn’s Picture Farm Gallery in July of 2014 with a subsequent exhibition at Venice Arts Gallery in LA.  Cole’s images have been featured in numerous publications including, Rolling Stone, ESPN Magazine, Relapse Mag, and No Thoughts, among many 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 establishing 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 feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

Photography Is So Easy It’s Ridiculous

- - Working

Yes, photography is so easy it’s ridiculous and that’s what makes it so hard. In the end it’s not so much about making the pictures it’s what you do with them. It’s about process, having an idea, making the pictures and then giving them life.

It seems to me that so many photographers have a very narrow view of process. Because the image making part is so captivating, so seductive, it’s easy to make the pictures with no idea in mind and no end in sight.

Source: Harvey Benge: Paul Graham – photography is so easy it’s ridiculous

The Daily Edit – Garden & Gun: Andrew Kornylak

- - The Daily Edit

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Garden & Gun

Marshall Mckinney: Design Director
Maggie Kennedy: Director of Photography
Margaret Houston: Associate Photo Editor
Braxton Crim: Assistant Art Director
Photographer: Andrew Kornylak

Did you stay up with Michael for 24hrs cooking? Was that to honor something historical for the story
Twitty was cooking food in the way it would have been done by enslaved cooks on Antebellum plantations in the South. Roughly: Dig a huge pit, burn a fire down to coals and slow cook meats over a screen of sapling logs. This process starts in the afternoon, takes all night, and Twitty and a group of helpers would alternately chop wood, prep food, cook, and doze off by the light of the hot coals and oil lanterns. So there was a lot going on visually all night. I shot the interview with Twitty for the video a little after midnight I think, during some down time. In the morning the action really started. More food was cooked in kettles and pans. By mid-morning most of the food was cooked and had to be put together, and people started showing up for the feast.

How hard was it to stay awake, what was the biggest challenge?
It’s wasn’t hard to stay awake because there was so much going on and we wanted to take everything in. It was good to have Erik Danielson assisting on this shoot, we have a lot of fun. I recall there was good whiskey about.

Did you shoot the video and the stills?
Yes, I shot both the video and the stills, and edited the video as well.

How hard was it to shoot the video at night?
I had brought along a set of tungsten lights and we got lucky with a power source near the cooking area. Two floods made enough light to work for stills and video and the color temperatures worked well with the fire and gas lanterns so I just left those on all night. For the interview I bounced one of the floods off the interior of a canvas tent to light Twitty softly.

What type of direction did you get to from the magazine? were they on set with you?
They were not going to be on set. We knew writer would be there along with possibly a lot of press, bloggers, and maybe another video crew in the morning. That’s when we decided to make it a night mission. I had some conversations with Art Director Marshall McKinney where we visualized what it might sound and look like: slabs of meat over coals at night, singing and chopping wood, period cook wear, all tied together by Twitty’s deep insight and humor. Other than that: The unknown. Possibly chaos. I’ve done many features for Garden & Gun and I like that they trust me on these kinds of shoots because they are the most interesting. I also know that if I work hard at it, whatever I come back with, Marshall and their team will make it sing.

How did this story idea come about?
The M. Twitty story actually came about via Twitter. Michael Twitty reached out to one of our editors suggesting he had an interesting cultural event coming down the pike and was curious if it might be something we’d want to cover. With a little follow-up we discovered that Michael was a food historian and cook and that he’d be the centerpiece of a unique culinary experience wherein he’d recreate a plantation style fete (on the grounds of a former working plantation called Stageville in North Carolina) exactly how it might have been performed some 300 years earlier. In doing so, the narrative explored southern foodways and their direct connections to Africa and the Caribbean but also the skill, determination and time it takes to pull off a meal with the resources available in antebellum times.

Since it was a 24 hr shoot what other multi media elements did you want to incorporate knowing you’d have such rich content?
Because the cooking itself would take at least 24 hours we knew we had something special, an event that would unfold slowly and simmer and offer up a rare opportunity for the right photographer. Without a doubt my photography director, Maggie Kennedy and I knew motion would play a key role in the storytelling. A shoot like this is a blend of portraiture, reportage, food and motion. That’s a heavy skill-set but in the end the choice was easy. I’ve worked with Andrew Kornylack for a number of years and I knew this would be right in his wheel-house. Andrew is an adventurer, a climber, a traveller but most importantly a curious and gentle soul. This shoot wasn’t exactly hanging from the side of a cliff in Yosemite but it would be an adventure all the same. Plus, given the cultural and emotional sensitivities surrounding the event we wanted to have someone present who could engage in the proceedings and document them with a modicum of decorum. You know, fit in.

How hard was it to award this assignment, I’d imagine you need just the right person. What was it about Andrew that struck you?
In the end, Andrew came through brilliantly. He gave unto the event that which it required, everything he had. The photography answered all our needs and the motion work helped capture the essence of the experience. For example, what standing over an open-pit of coals latticed with water-soaked sapling branches bent under the weight of pork ribs looks and feels like at 3.30 in the morning when delirium starts setting in and the birds begin to chirp. He worked along Twitty hour by hour and served up compelling images and content that can only be described as a feast for the eyes and ears.

Did you have a sound person or did you handle all aspects of the video production.
I handled all the video and sound myself, with the help of Erik Danielson who is an excellent assistant and great with lighting. I did the video edit, working closely with Assistant Photo Editor Margaret Houston.

The Daily Promo – Kevin Arnold

- - The Daily Promo

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 8.52.27 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 8.52.36 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 8.52.44 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 8.52.49 PM

Kevin Arnold

Who printed it?
It was printed by Hemlock Printers in Vancouver.

Who designed it?
Peter Ladd, who’s is a partner in Pendo Creative in Vancouver. I also worked with them on creating my new identity and website last year as well as the little photo man.

Who edited the images?
The promo grew out of me wanting to use the inside image. Peter and I did an initial edit on the additional images, and then I looped in my wife, Brooke. She is my go-to editor for portfolios and promos. Not only does she have a great eye for editing, but she also understands who I am and what I’m about as a photographer (sometimes better than I do myself).  She is amazing at being very honest with me if an image just doesn’t cut it. I can’t say I’m always as amazing at taking that advice, but between us the edits usually balance out perfectly.

How many did you make?
We sent out 500 to a select list of people that I really want to work with. I might do a second run of another 500 because it was so well received.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
It’s not always consistent, but I try to get something out twice a year.

How did this promo develop?
This was a fun promo because the concept for the promo grew out of an image I wanted to use rather than the other way round. More typically, one would create a promo and then select the images for it. I shot the inside photo of my friend Shea sitting in a redwood, when we were working together in California last year. I’ve always really liked it personally, but it wasn’t until much later that I decided to include it in my portfolio. As soon as I did it started to really resonate with people. My rep, Cynthia Held, was on the road showing my book in New York and Chicago, and she called me up right after that trip to tell me how much people were responding to that particular image. I knew I wanted to put it out there more and also knew I wanted it to be bigger than a typical postcard image. Something people might hold onto for a bit. The other images used in the promo were shot while I was doing a series of personal work in Tofino, British Columbia, so it’s a very personal promo overall. In the past, I’ve usually shown more client work on my promos because they are going out to potential clients.  I love this new promo because it turns that idea on it’s head. I’m interested right now in showing work that truly reflects who I am, what I love to shoot, and where I’m headed. I want my potential clients to see that work up front because I want them to be inspired by it and then collaborate with me to create something in the same vein for the clients.

This Week In Photography Books: Geert Goiris

- - Working

by Jonathan Blaustein

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

In other words, we have what we have. If the sun shines on a patch of desert, and there are no solar panels to collect the energy, it will be absorbed into the dirt.

I recently read that if we burn all the fossil fuels currently embedded within the Earth, seas will rise by 200 feet. Cities, at least those on coasts, will be obliterated.

No matter how many times these scary stats are bandied about the Interverse, so little seems to change. Today, South Carolina is under water. Tomorrow, perhaps California will be aflame.

So few of us do anything potent with such information. Our brains, small as they are, focus on the day to day. Putting food on the table. Paying the rent or mortgage. Buying some beer at the corner store.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

But then, some Art tries to put it in our face, like Christopher Nolan’s flawed but ambitious “Interstellar,” which pre-visualizes an Earth that no longer produces food for its inhabitants.

Is such a future imminent? I certainly hope not.

But sometimes, I look at a photo book, and it does make me wonder. Even if that’s not the “subject” of an artist’s work, the visual impact kicks off my imagination, and I begin to worry.

We’re not being hypothetical today, though. (We seldom are.) I just put down “Prophet,” by the Belgian artist Geert Goiris, published by ROMA, and I’m about ready to hide under my white kitchen table and pray for the best.

Not too long ago, I gave away the secret to the kind of work that will often provoke a review. Abstracted, edgy, metaphorical, referential without being literal. Artsy, if you will.

And this book hits that sweet spot for sure.

No words. No obvious connection between images, but the themes are there if you’re willing to look. Masks. Ice. People suited up for an eternal winter? Asteroid-like objects occupying lawns, or the center of a home.

Portraits encased in glass. Snowscapes rendered in night-vision-green, or eerie, screen-glow-blue. Greasy chicken feet and necks. A bottle of water, caught in the exact tipping point between standing and prone. (Tipping point, get it?)

These pictures are cool as hell. Rarely have I seen color and B&W images mixed together this well. And the end notes state that the work was shown at Foam in Amsterdam earlier this year, which comes as no surprise to me. (Though I do wonder about the music-accompanied-slideshow that happened in Paris, which is also mentioned.)

A title page, at the end, gives us hints, like “Breach,” “The Future,” “Black Friday,” “Forecast,” and “Torrent.”

Are the end times ahead? I sure hope not. I’ve got two young children, and I’d feel like quite the asshole if I were a part of a generation that left them to rot.

But we can’t know what comes next. That’s just a part of the deal we accepted when we emerged from the birth canal. And while it might not have been Geert Goiris’s intention to put me in such a mood today, his pictures did it just the same.

Bottom Line: Edgy, eerie pictures of the world we inhabit- for now.

To Purchase “Prophet” Visit Photo-Eye
















The Art of the Personal Project: Tim Tadder

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects. A personal project is the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director/photo editor or graphic designer. This column features the personal projects of photographers who were nominated in LeBook’s Connections.

Today’s featured photographer is: Tim Tadder

Las Muertas








How long have you been shooting?
I spent 4 years as a photojournalist before entering the advertising world in 2005

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Both. And, it’s complicated. My father was a professional photographer in Baltimore so I grew up around the craft. During my 5-year stint as a high school teacher I picked up a camera as a hobby during my vacations. In 1999 I left teaching and started freelancing at the local newspaper. After two years grinding doing community news I went to graduate school for photojournalism at Ohio University. That lead me to California and eventually to the advertising industry.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
The Las Muertas projects was inspired by the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos.

Two things came into play that inspired this project. First and foremost a wild fire burned homes and land very close (across the street) from our studio. It turned the landscape into this apocalyptic wasteland that I would pass daily. There was incredible beauty in the destruction, I knew I wanted to feature it, I was not sure how.

Then Halloween happened, and I saw people in costume walking the sidewalks past this barren landscape and a light bulb turned on. Being in Southern California, the Dia De Los Muertos holiday is very much an influence and the landscape was the perfect setting for featuring the subject matter.

Dia De Los Muertos is on November 2nd each year and its is a day in Mexican culture where the dead are remembered and celebrated. It is said that on that day the dead are able to walk through purgatory and visit their earthly haunts. The wildfire destruction to me, represented this purgatory. So that stage was set, and the rest of the project seemed to come together from there.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
This was just a one day shoot followed up with a couple of days of postproduction. This is concept based not documentary so the time invested is more in the conceptualizing and pre/post production. Less time shooting more time planning and refining.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
That varies, there are things I spend a lot of time on that never work and something’s I spend a few days on that work really well. Time for me never determines the success of the project, because my projects don’t require months and months. I don’t have that kind of personal time to invest in my work. Between being a husband, father, and running a business I feel that my days of long-term projects are on hold. I find that the projects I can do are shorter an well thought out, which affords me the ability to keep my priorities central and my life balanced.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I don’t agree with this point of view. I feel that my personal work should be my portfolio. That’s who I am as a visual communicator. My work is personal, and I pour my soul into every job I do, so if there is a disconnect between my personal work and my portfolio, I feel that my voice will be inauthentic. I want to inspire creative’s with my vision and my personal work is the vehicle.

I get more projects based off my personal work than any other images. Literally we get assignments that the creative is my personal work with the logo. Clients and agencies sometimes fall in love with the visuals and they want to contract it for their own messaging. That’s what drives my revenue, the more personal projects I do the more commercial projects I get. It’s a simple recipe that works.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I have never posted them on Reddit or Tumblr, but others have. Its crazy but the moment I release a new project it gets picked up and spread around the web quite quickly. If it hits Reddit, then game on, and the viral thing happens. We have enjoyed the success of some really powerful viral exposure, which always leads to magazine articles, TV interviews, and a zillion blog posts. Ultimately this leads to commercial exposure and success. The Las Muertas series has been featured around the world on tons of blogs and media outlets. Its been extremely well received in Mexico, and we are currently bidding a project based on this creative for a beer company. I am most proud that the Mexican audience likes the work.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Yes see above. Las Muertas, when googled turns up tons and tons of results from news outlets and blogs around the world.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes we use them for mailers and source book ads, as well as post on creative sites like We share them with our audience every chance we get.

Las Muertas is a celebration of the Mexican holiday Dia De Los Muertos or “Day of the Dead.” Inspired by the beautiful designs and colors of the November 2nd festival, I set out to pay homage to the beauty of the tradition but to also put an environmental connection to the dead and their journey. This project was a collaboration between talented artists that believed in the concept and lent their time and passion to make it a success. The beautiful head dresses were made by the celebrated Dia De Los Muertos sculpture artist Krisztianna and the incredible wardrobe provided by stylist Julia Reeser.


Tim Tadder is a Southern California based creative photographer and director with a strong sport and conceptual portfolio. Since 2012 Tim Tadder has published multiple personal projects that have enjoyed viral success. The most wildly acclaimed “Water Wigs” received over 1 million unique views within the first 24 hours of publication.

Tadder is often hired to produce images and motion projects with either a sport thematic or a conceptual visual challenge. Recent clients include, Mercedes Benz, Reebok, NFL, New Era, McDonalds, Merck, Capri Sun, Modelo, Tecate, Bud Light, Avia, WD-40, Kia, Proctor and Gamble, Walmart

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 establishing 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 feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty.  Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

Dewi Lewis Interview Part 2

Jonathan Blaustein: How do you define great? What motivates you? What do you think is interesting?

Dewi Lewis: It’s almost indefinable, isn’t it? For me, great work is work that excites me. If I see something that I feel is fresh, and has something to say, I think that’s quite important to me, rather than photographers just producing aesthetically pleasing images.

What encourages me to publish something is when I’m surprised and exhilarated by it. It’s as simple as that, really.

JB: When I think about your program, the words “Social Documentary” come into my mind. Do you think that’s a fair description?

DL: There are a number of the books that certainly come under that category. But there are also some that really defy it, I suppose. Some are firmly placed within a “Photography as Art” environment.

But I would say I’m more likely to respond to documentary work than conceptual or abstract work.

Taking it forward a bit, I’ve done many landscape books over the years, but usually those landscapes are saying something about the social or human condition. For me, they need to have that level, otherwise they’re not very interesting.

JB: We might call it cultural criticism?

DL: Yeah. Essentially. I’m looking for projects that say something about our culture as it’s lived today.

There are books we’ve done that have a more historical perspective to them. But essentially I’m really looking at what’s happening in a period that you could bracket by two or three years, at any time.

I’m really interested in the human aspect. Why do people do the things they do? And it’s probably no more complicated than that, actually.

JB: That was the impression that I got. And you find projects by word of mouth, I’m sure. You work with some artists multiple times, like Phil Toledano.

And you look at work at portfolio reviews. But I also noticed on your website that you do accept unsolicited submissions, if people follow a certain set of rules.

DL: Yeah, we get recommendations from other photographers. We work with people we’ve worked with before. But we also have 2 open submissions each year. Generally, one in May, and one in November. Anyone can send in work.

What I don’t like, and what is a real problem, is people sending through Dropbox. Links, and all the rest, throughout the year.

I really do like to focus it down to these two periods. It’s surprising. Most of the work that comes in from open submissions is not that interesting, I have to admit. But you do find things you’ve never come across before. Photographers who are totally unknown. And that’s kind of interesting.

We do about 20 books a year, and I would say it’s pretty rare to get more than 1, maximum 2 from open submissions in a year.

JB: Your website was almost shockingly honest. I’ve never done this before, but I want to read back to you some text from the site. If you’ll allow.

You said, “We’re increasingly finding that we can only publish established, international names, projects with major exhibitions, or those that come with sufficient funding to underwrite the risk. There are now only very few first books that we’re able to do with emerging photographers.”

DL: Yeah.

JB: That’s naked honesty right there. And that has to be a function of all of the increased competition that we were talking about 15 minutes ago, no?

DL: Not really. When I started in publishing, one of the reasons there were very few photography publishers was that photography books simply didn’t make money. Or were very marginal.

There were people such as Aperture, but they were doing it by raising funds as a charity. Many of the other photo books were either mega-names, like Ansel Adams or Cartier-Bresson, or you would find that a mainstream publisher would publish one or two photo books, and then they would drop them.

They were trying them, finding they weren’t financially successful, and then moving on to something else.

It’s never been easy, financially. When I started in the Cornerhouse days, the arts center was a registered charity, so it was much easier to access public funding for books. A number were funded from public sources.

When I went independent, most of those sources dried up. It was a matter of how do we finance books? For the first 10 years, I had to finance them myself. The only way to do that was to do other work, so I did consultancy, and put that money into the books.

We developed it slowly like that. Then, about 10 years ago, there was a switch when it became apparent that increasingly, other publishers were expecting photographers to at least partially fund books.

That switch has just developed exponentially, really.

When we started, 100% was funded by us. Now, it’s generally no more than 50 to 60 %. Some books we totally fund, others we fund partially, and then others, we have to have totally funded. It’s that balance that helps to keep us going.

JB: In your opinion, why has there never been a significant demand in the marketplace? Why don’t they make money?

DL: It’s misleading, in a way, because you have to look at all forms of book publishing. And indeed music publishing. If you look at new fiction, for example, it’s not unusual for novels by unknown writers just to sell in the few hundreds.

JB: Sure.

DL: They don’t make any money. It’s always that balance where a mainstream publisher will decide on taking a risk on certain titles, to see whether they can make them work. We did publish fiction for a while, because my degree with in English, not photography.

We were very successful in getting various awards, but we weren’t very successful in terms of sales. When I started doing fiction, you could get about 1000 copies of advanced orders into the shops. We stopped when those advanced orders had dropped to about 200.

We were no different than any other publisher. The book shops just stopped taking a risk on new fiction.

Back to photo books, there are big sellers. The last Salgado, I know that well over 100,000 copies have been sold. Helmut Newton’s last book was also probably well over 100,000. However, most photo books, these days, are produced in runs of between 500-2000 copies.

It’s partly that the book shops don’t really support visual books very much. If you take that forward, if you’ve got a limited amount of space in a book shop, and you’re trying to generate revenue from it, you put onto those book shelves the things that you know will sell.

You don’t put on photo books when you can put on best-selling novels, or how-to manuals and guidebooks. It’s very difficult to get the level of distribution that’s necessary to pump up those physical numbers.

JB: If you’re working with established artists with a collector base and a standing in the marketplace, like Martin Parr, with whom you’ve worked before, and you know the books will sell you can go ahead and lay out those funds for publication and distribution.

If you have no way of knowing if the books will sell, you’ll shift that risk onto the photographer. And for that, they get the benefit of your expertise, design team, and distribution network.

Is that the way it works?

DL: It’s more or less the way it works. Obviously, we don’t fear too much when we’re doing a Martin Parr book. It doesn’t mean they’ll sell in enormous numbers, but we’re pretty confident that we’ll at least break even, or make a small profit, and generally do a lot better than that.

But if you look at work by an emerging photographer, you’ve got to realize it’s not only the production cost of the book. We also have other direct costs, for example, my attendance on press to supervise the printing.

Then we have the issue of getting out press copies, which we generally do on a worldwide basis. On a dollars basis, that’s between $1500-2000. Attendance on press will be another $1500. This is just covering expenses, not getting any payment for the time involved.

Even if you have a book which is funded in terms of production costs, we would generally expect it to cost us anything from $4000-5000 to launch it.

JB: And books are heavy objects, and you need to ship them to stores around the world.

DL: Yeah, that’s the next factor.

JB: Of course.

DL: It’s not usually understood that for most bookshops, books are sold on a “sale or return” basis. For Barnes and Noble, for example, you’re not actually selling the book to them. You’re lending it to them.

If they sell it, you get paid, if they don’t, it gets sent back to you.

Essentially, you’re covering the cost of sending the books out, they can be sent back to you, and your distributor will then charge you a cost for actually handling it.

JB: Oh my goodness.

DL: You can actually lose money on certain books. Even above the cost of production.

JB: Let me read you the next quote from your website, as we set it up perfectly: “Please also remember that we must be able to sell the books that we publish. Please be realistic, when assessing your project, and don’t waste your or our time by sending proposals which have only a limited commercial appeal. Just because all your friends say it would make a great book doesn’t mean that anyone would buy it.”

DL: Yup.

JB: Yowzers. It’s like a kidney punch. You’re taking the air out of people’s false expectations.

DL: It doesn’t work though, Jonathan.

JB: It doesn’t work?

DL: They still send them in.

JB: You’re asking people to be honest with themselves about their dreams, which is very difficult to do.

But what do people buy? That’s where I wanted to head. You’re telling people that you have a sense of what commercial appeal is. Within the market that does exist, of people that do buy photo books, outside of a big name, how do you know what people will buy? When do you feel comfortable?

DL: Essentially, you never know, so you have to go on your own judgement. You go on the basis of belief in a project. Sometimes, I ignore the commercial reality.

One of our big successes last year was Laia Abril’s book “The Epilogue.” Now, that’s the story of a girl dying from bulimia, and the impact on her family. If you just put that in a sentence, and emailed me saying you had this great book project, my instant reaction would be, “How on Earth can I sell it?”

But I was so convinced by the photographer, by the way I knew she would approach the subject, that I thought it was an important book that needed doing. It was one where we had no funding towards it, a big financial risk. But we still felt it was important to do.

It’s one of the great things about being a small publisher, where I’m not working for a large company, nor responsible to a committee, or anyone else. Caroline and I can make decisions where we say, “We really want to do this, and if we lose badly on it, then we’ll have to balance it out with other things.”

We can work that way. There can be projects that come along where I do think, “Well, this is so interesting that I don’t even really think about what the audience is out there.”

I can give you an example of projects that I don’t think work.

JB: Great. Let’s hear it.

DL: Something that happened in the UK a few years ago was that students at the colleges seemed to be told to do a very personal project. They must have been told by tutors to go off to houses that had some meaning to them. It wasn’t unusual to have people who were going to their grandmother’s house, or something like that, photographing the things that had memories for them as a child.

JB: Of course. Dead grandparents?

DL: Dead grandparents.

JB: Yeah, that was big.

DL: Yup. You have to be realistic. Unless there’s something REALLY stunning about the photography, it’s not a subject that’s going to appeal to a wide audience. That seems obvious to me.

And if friends, relatives, etc may get a feel from it, most people won’t. I always say, when I’m giving a talk, that I can’t explain what photographers should send in to me. I don’t really know what I’m looking for until I see it.

This is the great difficulty. But there are guidelines you can give people, and one of the things I always say is that we’re publishing on an International basis. Therefore, the work has to carry across International boundaries. It has to resonate at the human level, so that it touches something within a human being.

There’s a book we did called “Mother and Father,” by Paddy Summerfield. He photographed almost exclusively in the back garden of his parent’s house in Oxford, as they were getting older.. His Mother had Alzheimer’s. She died. His father was left alone. Then, his father died.

He photographs, more or less, the last 10 years of their lives. But almost every photograph is taken in the back garden.

How small scale can you get, in one sense? But the story that it tells is such a human story, that it leaps all International boundaries. It’s understood by everyone, without reading any text.

It’s a very moving book, and it doesn’t matter where you’re from. That is a very difficult subject too, but it’s done reasonably well in the shops, and had a good response from the critics and the audience.

JB: You’re looking for Universality?

DL: Yeah.

JB: This is a big reason why I wanted to interview you. I write about books each week, and we’ve already agreed everyone wants one. But it’s rare that people out there get to hear such specific advice from someone with your expertise.

Let’s carry it forward, a bit. Where do you see it all going? If we’re talking about an industry that’s already had this much disruption, do you ever ask yourself what the climate will look like in 5 or 10 years?

DL: I try to look ahead, but I try not to respond to it.

JB: What are you suspecting?

DL: Let me tell you the problems, as I see them. Perhaps the biggest is that so many photographers now have books. Every photographer wants a book, as we said before. And every photographer now wants to do a more impressive book than other photographers have done.

By that, I mean in terms of the object. Not necessarily the content.

JB: That’s the competitiveness that we discussed earlier.

DL: Yeah, so there’s a sense in which they want a more complicated design, or more complex means of production. They’re driving up the expectations, which is good, in some ways, but it is making it increasingly impossible for many of them to ever get any of their money back.

You have some designers doing the same thing. Some of them don’t understand the technicalities, and are adding cost unnecessarily. Essentially, I think you have designers trying to leapfrog each other. On and on it goes.

The same thing is happening with photographers. I think it’s starting to go too far. I see that as a problem.

JB: Understood.

DL: I don’t see digital as a problem, as a competitive element, and I don’t see it happening over the next 5 years or so. Certainly, if you talk to publishers who are doing digital books, they’re pretty disappointed with the results they’re getting.

Not necessarily in terms of the production of them, but in terms of the response from audiences. People aren’t really buying them.

JB: Right, because is a digital book any different than a website? Or an app? The things people want out of a book are the tactile qualities.

DL: Right. Is it any different to a .pdf? It depends, though. If you have a book like “Mother and Father,” it’s very poetic and quiet. What you want is simply the images in the sequence that they are.

If you had a book that had something to do with the Yangtze River, say, then you might want to have lots of external links to images within the pages. You might want things about population, history, particular towns, cultural elements within the River area.

You can imagine video, audio, all sorts of extra things being brought into the digital book. That makes it interesting and exciting, something that can’t be done on paper. There are some books that would work digitally, and there are some that would be a disaster. It would add nothing, and simply take away from them.

So the digital question is almost a side issue.

JB: That’s not surprising. It’s one thing to read a thriller on a Kindle, but with photo books, people want to hold a set of photos in their hands.

DL: For me, what’s much more of a concern is that already the large book shops have partially removed themselves from visual books. Waterstones and Barnes and Noble carry very few photo books now, and very obvious titles. I think the days of those large book shops are severely numbered.

I wouldn’t be surprised, speaking of Waterstones in the UK, I can imagine that within 5 or 6 years, they might be down to less than a dozen stores. Key stores in major cities. At the moment, I think they still have over 300.

And while speciality stores are building, I don’t think they can take up the slack across towns and cities in various countries. I think that’s a problem.

JB: Well, the big chains have been shutting down here for years.

DL: But the area I worry about most is the printers themselves. Printing presses are hungry beasts. They need a lot of material coming through. Commercial work will dry up. Things like hotels and other business will no longer produce sales brochures. They’ll put content online, and digitally in some form.

The commercial side of printing is really going to reduce. I’m not convinced that there’s enough printing demand from other areas.

JB: So the prices will go up for those that stay in business.

DL: It’s a matter of, can they stay in business? It’s a whole chain. If printers close, what happens to the printing machine manufacturers. People like Heidelberg, and KBA. Will there be enough printers for them to continue doing this heavy engineering?

Very serious stuff. I do worry a bit about that chain. That’s probably 7-10 years out, but I do think that’s a problem.

If there is an end to the printed book in the numbers that we know now, then it’s going to come from that side, not just from people switching to digital.

JB: So now, we’re dealing with proliferation. Think about Kickstarter. When people are raising money, it’s not their money. There’s not a lot of risk involved when it’s not your money. You’re just accessing the funds from others, $10 at a time.

If what you’re speculating comes true, the people who are left in business are going be able to charge a lot more for their services. If all of a sudden, it costs $150,000 to make a book, instead of $50,000, then it won’t be nearly as easy to raise other people’s money on Kickstarter, and you end up with fewer and fewer books, the way it was before.

You’re saying this is potentially a bubble?

DL: I think it’s still got a few years to live…

JB: Sure.

DL: I’m really talking about offset printing. It’s pretty complex, isn’t it. I’m thinking longer term. It’s not round the corner.

A big question is what happens on the digital printing side. It’s been around a long time now, with Indigo and others. The printing sheet is still pretty small, though it’s starting to get larger.

It’s not cost effective to do large numbers of copies digitally. Can that take up what might be lost from offset printing? It’s a very complex arena, really.

JB: I want to take you off the prognosticator seat. Predicting the future is impossible, but I was just curious to see how you imagined the future of your industry.

You’ve been a great sport, and we really appreciate your time. You’re planning on being in business for a while, and you’re still excited about what you do?

DL: 50% of the time I’m excited. And that’s enough.

JB: (Laughing.)

DL: It’s like this. Say you’re at FotoFest, for example, looking at portfolios, and you might have had a really awful day. Then the last session is something really stunning. That’s what publishing is.

You just go through a lot of shit to get to the crock at the end of the rainbow. You do find these extraordinary things, and that’s what keeps you going all the time.

Dewi Lewis on press with John Blakemore

Dewi Lewis on press with John Blakemore

Dewi Lewis Receiving World Press Photo Krazna-Krausz Award

Dewi Lewis Receiving World Press Photo Krazna-Krausz Award

Susan Barnett - T: A Typology of T-Shirts

Susan Barnett – T: A Typology of T-Shirts

Stags, Hens & Bunnies - Dougie Wallace

Stags, Hens & Bunnies – Dougie Wallace

Maybe - Phillip Toledano

Maybe – Phillip Toledano

Bitter Honeydew - Kirill Golovchenko

Bitter Honeydew – Kirill Golovchenko

Martin Parr - Autoportrait (new edition being published early 2016)

Martin Parr – Autoportrait (new edition being published early 2016)

Black Country Stories - Martin Parr

Black Country Stories – Martin Parr

Working with photographer Paul Hill

Working with photographer Paul Hill

Dewi Lewis Interview Part 1

Jonathan Blaustein: Will you admit on the record that Arsenal Football Club is superior to Manchester United?

Dewi Lewis: Never. Never.

JB: Never?

DL: Never. Why would I admit to something that isn’t true?

JB: (laughing.) Of course. But what if I secretly deposited £200 in your Paypal account? Would that entice you?

DL: I think you’d need to add several noughts. (zeroes.)

JB: OK. That’s fair. I’m sure most of our readers don’t care about English football, so we can move on. But you do live in the Manchester area, and you’re from Wales.

You were originally a musician back in the day, yes?

DL: It’s a bit strong to say that. I played in bands in my younger years, through to my early to mid 20s, and then decided that I just wasn’t good enough.

JB: Is that typical Welsh humility, that you played in bands for close to15 years, but won’t call yourself a musician?

DL: When you play with real musicians, then you know where you are. I’m not of that standard. Nowhere near.

JB: At what point did you segue into visual art?

DL: It was a long process. I started playing in bands from about 13, in different venues. Then I became involved in performance and theater. My first job was much more related to music and theater than anything else.

JB: Makes sense.

DL: I had a general interest in the visual arts. But I met my wife, Caroline, when I was 20, and her father was a photojournalist working on The Times newspaper in London. That started to give me a stronger relationship to photography.

I got more and more fascinated by it. But then I also became involved professionally, because we had an exhibition space in the first art center that I set up.

That got me thinking more about what shows we should put on, in photography and contemporary arts. I just got increasingly involved in photography.

JB: You set up an arts facility from the ground up?

DL: Two. After University, I worked in the arts first with the local council in Cambridge. Then I ran the Fringe Festival club up in Edinburgh, for one festival.

From that, I moved to a place in North Manchester called Bury, to set up an arts association. It seemed to me we needed a building, so I found one, and we converted an early 1800’s building into a performance space with exhibition facilities, and a bar area as well.

JB: This is with public financing?

DL: Yeah. It was a registered charity, and we raised money primarily from public funding, but also the private sector.

JB: Right.

DL: That was the first one, and I ran that for six years. I then set up an arts center in Manchester called Cornerhouse. I was brought in to do a feasibility study on that, and it’s where the shift in my career really took place, I suppose.

Initially, there was interest to establish Cornerhouse for theater and visual arts. But I wanted to set up a film space in Manchester as well, because there was no good, independent cinema there. So rather than going for performance, we ended up focussing on visual arts and film.

At Cornerhouse , I got more and more involved with visual arts, that’s when the publishing started.

JB: Was the facility, in fact, in a corner house? Is that how you name such a place?

DL: It was a building quite close to a railway station, on the corner of two roads. We couldn’t come up with a name. That was the reality of it.

JB: If I told you that I was drinking tea right now, would that impress you?

DL: Not really. I almost never drink tea.

JB: So you’re typical in that you like Manchester United, atypical in that you don’t drink tea, and since you started playing in bands at 13, we probably all have visions of a little 13 year old Welsh punk smoking cigarettes, and acting tough.

Does that about sum it up?

DL: Close to that.

JB: (laughing) OK.

DL: Plus the pints of beer.

JB: (laughing) Plus the pints of beer. Now we’ve got the visual. That’s the best thing I can do, is evoke strong mental images for the readers.

Now they know that I’m drinking tea, and you’re unimpressed, and you used to be a party guy as a 13 year old punk. Now we’re getting somewhere.

DL: It was before the time of Punk, though. I’m that old.

JB: You’re being literal. In America, the term “punk” can have a broader meaning, rather than simply relating to the musical period. But my father was a lawyer when I was young…

DL: Yes?

JB: …so I appreciate your specificity with language.

DL: Understood.

JB: Moving through your career trajectory, in 1994, you founded your own publishing house with your wife as your partner? Is that correct?

DL: More or less. I started publishing at Cornerhouse Because we were primarily doing exhibitions, I came across photographers, and in discussions with them, it became clear that what they really wanted were books. And there was almost no one publishing at that time.

So in ’87, we launched the first book, and I carried on publishing there until ’94. But my job was as Director of the place, and it was quite a large organization. We had three cinemas and three floors of galleries. Bar, catering, book shop, education facilities.

So my time was pretty heavily occupied with all that.

JB: Is it still there?

DL: It’s still there, and just about to move to a new home in a couple of months time. It’s still pretty successful. (ed. note, this interview transpired in March 2015.)

But for me, the publishing side became something I became obsessed with. I ended up doing it almost all in my spare time. Although it was for Cornerhouse , I’d be spending weekends and days off developing the publishing side. As I got more involved in it, it became increasingly something I wanted to spend all my time on.

So at the end of ’93, I decided to leave Cornerhouse and set up my own company. Initially, it was just me – Caroline joined me 18 months to 2 years later. We’ve been working on it ever since.

JB: You started in 1994, in a pre-Internet world, where there were not a lot of people doing what you were doing. Everything would have been based on your catalogues, and sending them out in the mail to people, so they could see what you were going to publish.

We’re doing this interview in 2015. Photobooks are everywhere. The world you’ve been working in probably could not have changed much more. It’s almost perfectly different, I’d say. Would you agree with that assessment?

DL: Yeah, I think that’s totally true. I remember in ’95, very few people had email access. I was talking to an American photographer who told me about this new thing, the email, but when I explored it a little further, I couldn’t find anyone else who was on email. There was no point in using it until about ’96.

JB: (laughing) Unless you wanted to email yourself as a digital diary. “Good Morning, Dewi. How are you today? I’m quite well, thanks, but I still don’t like tea.”

DL: Exactly. It’s hard to remember how slow things were, in terms of early Internet access. But although it was a very different world before, I’m not sure it was problematic. You used the phone a lot more, and it was still at the point, really, where if you phoned someone, they answered.

JB: Right.

DL: These days, most people will just have answer-phone-messages. You can waste so much time trying to phone people, so you end up just emailing them instead.

JB: It’s remarkable, isn’t it? I was discussing that with a friend the other day, how if you talk to someone on the phone these days, you’ve got to schedule it in advance.

I thought we could talk about the world today, and the landscape, and what you’ve observed. How long ago was it that a book was a rare, coveted object that was a career-defining moment, and now we’re living in a world in which almost everyone has a book? Or if they want one, they can get one, one way or another.

It’s gone from scarcity to ubiquity. How do you feel about that?

DL: First of all, I totally agree with you. It was incredibly difficult for photographers to get a book in the late 80s, early 90s. I’d say, really, through to 2005-6.

JB: Still fairly recently.

DL: There were many well-known photographers who, if they got one book during their lifetime, felt that they’d really achieved something. It is such a massive change.

JB: So how do you feel about it?

DL: Negative and positive. There are too many books being produced. There’s no doubt about that. Too many photographers are producing books without really having developed the work enough.

To explain why I think that, in talks I’ve given over the years, one of the things I’ve always said to photographers, certainly in the UK, is that every book has to be deposited with the British Library. And some of the other copyright libraries in the UK.

In theory, that means that if you’re a photographer, and you publish a book, it will be deposited in that library, and then, in 200 or 300 years time, your great, great, great grandchildren can go along and ask to see a copy of that book. If you think of that longevity of the book, surely it’s worth photographers spending time getting it right.

I think sometimes things are raced through much too quickly. And very young photographers expect a book within a year or two of graduating.

JB: For things to have changed that dramatically, and that quickly, should we not parallel that to the rise of our instant gratification culture through the Internet and Social Media?

These two things go hand in hand. People’s expectations that they ought to have a book, and their ability to produce one via self-publishing, or Kickstarter funding.

It’s a very contemporary situation that we’re dealing with.

DL: Yes, there are a number of factors. One is cultural change generally. The last 15 years, certainly up to the financial crash, everyone kind of believed that they could have whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. So there’s that element.

But there’s also the element that you have to think about affluence. Western societies have become increasingly affluent, over the last 15-20 years. So people have that money to spend on things that they never did before.

I mean, a young photographer in the early 90s could never have put together enough money to publish a book. Most, today, find it possible. So there are changes in terms of the cultural environment, the access to funding that people have, and I suppose also the sense of competition.

There are far more photographers around than there ever used to be.

JB: Of course.

DL: Or at least, a lot more people around who call themselves photographers.

JB: Absolutely.

DL: They all want to compete. They all want to be seen as getting to a certain level. And the book seems to help them on that.

JB: How has the change in the landscape changed how you approach your job?

DL: It hasn’t changed that much. That’s the strange thing. There are some things that have definitely changed. I’ll talk about funding in a minute. But essentially, I don’t really see any more great projects than I used to 20 years ago.

There are more good photographers around, but there aren’t more very good photographers. It’s still hard to see great work.

[Part 2 Tomorrow]

Dewi Lewis at a Portfolio Review

Dewi Lewis at a Portfolio Review