The Daily Edit – Peter Bohler: The New York Times Sunday Magazine

- - The Daily Edit

The New York Times Sunday Magazine

 

Design Director: Gail Bichler
Director of Photography:
Katherine Ryan
Art Director: Matt Willey
Deputy Photo Editor: Jessica Dimson
Associate Photo Editors: Stacey Baker, Amy Kellner, Christine Walsh
Photographer: Peter Bohler

 

Heidi: What were some of the challenges shooting these female firefighters?
Peter: Fires are obviously unpredictable and dangerous, so this story was difficult to shoot. I started shooting in September of 2016, and I spent much of that October watching for a fire that would involve the Malibu Camp 13 crews. It was an unexpectedly quiet fall, so I wasn’t able to shoot on a fire. Jamie Lowe, the writer, kept working on the story, and this summer I got lucky (if you can say that in regard to wildfires) while shooting Rainbow Camp–they got called out to two small fires while I was there. About half the story was shot on that day. Later on, I was also able to accompany the Malibu crews on the Detwiler fire near Mariposa, CA, and spent an entire 24 hour shift with them, which was an amazing experience. Each day required access to be coordinated through California Department of Corrections and the LA Fire Department or CAL FIRE, and then there is the double-edged sword of fire, which needed to be present but not too dangerous. It was rare for circumstances to align just right.

How much interaction/conversation did you have with them women?
There were some quiet moments in camp or while we were hiking when I was able to have some pretty deep conversations with the women. I was intensely curious about their experiences, and I think the women sensed that and opened up–after all, this was a radically new and different life for most of them too. Most of the women justifiably take a lot of pride in their work and were happy to have me there. I was moved by many of their stories. I could have kept shooting this story forever.

How much support did you get in order to track the fires?
None of it would have been possible without a lot of legwork by Christine Walsh and Karen Hanley at the New York Times Magazine, along with a ton of support from Bill Sessa at CDCR and Chief Stukey at LAFD, who helped us with access. Many people at CDCR, LAFD, and CAL FIRE went out of their way to get me access, and I was blown away by the care and respect they showed for the inmates. Jamie Lowe wrote a powerful story and laid the foundation for the photos. And finally, the women themselves welcomed me into their lives and gave me tremendous access. I’m so thankful to everyone.

Did you pitch this story to the NYT?
No, the New York Times Magazine came to me with this story, for which I am tremendously grateful. A couple of years ago, I spent a year or two working with the National Interagency Fire Center, trying to get access to shoot hotshot crews, and I had pitched the story to the NY Times Magazine. While that story never went anywhere, I think it planted the seed that I was interested in wildfire fighters. My discussions with the NIFC were also useful when it came to understanding what would be required to get onto the fire ground for this story.

How has your love of the outdoors influenced your work and your ability to get adventure assignments.
The outdoors are a huge part of my life–I grew up hiking and camping, and after college it was a toss up whether I would go into photography or outdoor education (or engineering but that’s another story). On a practical level, the foundation of skills I have has really helped me in my work–you need to be comfortable in these environments to keep up with your subjects. In this story, for example, we were hiking off-trail in 100 degree heat wearing 50 pounds of safety gear, and I was glad it wasn’t my first experience with that sort of thing.

But more important, I think, is the connection I feel with nature. I love being in these places and hope that brings a richness to the pictures. Being outdoors is at the center of my life. It’s hard to overestimate the impact it has on my work.

How if at all did your upbringing influence your creativity?
My mother grew up in Switzerland, and I spent many summers there as a kid. I love Switzerland very much, but I neither felt completely at home there or in New Jersey, where I grew up. It is hard to say exactly how these experiences influence us, but I think I’ve always been searching for my place in the world, and I’m very interested in how place influences culture. I feel like this story is very much a part of that thread–the lives of these women are completely shaped by the work they do in the rugged and fire-prone California landscape.

How has cooking shaped you?
I’ve gotten really into baking sourdough bread over the last year or so, and I’ve always liked to cook. I think there’s a real need for me to focus on something tangible and process oriented to balance out a photography career, which can be so unpredictable and ephemeral. I’ve noticed a lot of photographers are drawn to these sorts of crafts and activities–I’m sure road bikes and woodworking are in my future somewhere. After I’ve been traveling a lot, cooking and baking grounds me. I don’t feel like I’m really home until I’ve cooked a meal.

Do you make it a point to practice outdoor skills?
Yes, when there is time. For example, I’m a rock climber but I don’t specialize in climbing photography, so before I shot rock climber Alex Honnold for the NY Times Magazine, I spent a day on the rock practicing my rigging and systems. That kind of formal practice is unusual, but when I have free time, I’m up in the mountains.

Did you feel any pressure after being noted as an emerging photographer?
I don’t think pressure is the right word–I always feel a lot of pressure to make good work. But it was strange to achieve so many goals relatively quickly after a decade of trying to get any work at all. For better or worse, the first part of this year was really slow, which gave me time to focus on where I want my work to go, and to concentrate on a few projects I really believe in, like this one.

 

Sandra Rojas

Crew 13-4 on a lunch break at Nicholas County Beach in Malibu

Sara Roche leads inmates in yoga

Inmates preparing to cross over from California Department of Corrections to the fire side of Rainbow Camp

Rainbow crew 4 cutting line on a small fire near Hemet

Dionne Davis, Rainbow crew 1 or 4

Sarah Meenahan, Rainbow Crew 1

Marquet Jones, a sawyer with Rainbow crew 4, cutting line on a small fire near Hemet.

The Daily Promo – Winnie Au

- - The Daily Promo

Winnie Au

Who printed it?
Kirkwood Printing – they’re a great place based a little outside of Boston, MA. They have been in the business forever and were really easy to work with. I previously have done a lot of digital printing/printing through the internet for my promos so it was nice to do something that involved person to person contact. I went to the press check, and I really enjoyed touring their space, seeing the CMYK plates, and meeting people who know their colors, machines and craft so well.

Who designed it?
Suzanne McKenzie. I was very lucky to have someone as talented as Suzanne working on my promo. We’ve known each other for many years, and I’ve done several shoots for her company Ablemade, so it was a natural fit to have her design something for me. She has an amazing vision and understands the type of people I am trying to reach, so it was great to have her insight and eye on both the edit and design.

Tell me about the images?
We spent a lot of time working on the edit of this zine. I do a lot of shoots of various subjects, which is generally a great thing, except when it comes time to edit. I think that a huge part of what defines you as a photographer comes down to your edit, especially in this age of digital photography where we tend to [as photographers] shoot way more frames than film photographers did. So sifting through the past year’s work to tell a coherent story can take some time. As my other photographer friends have advised me in the past, you have to only show work that you want to get. A lot of my work is environmental portraiture, so I wanted this zine to be a window into the lives of the people I am lucky enough to photograph, as well as showcase diversity of age, gender, and race. I always find my subjects and their lives/homes/workplaces to be inspiring, so hopefully, others who see the images in my zine will also find inspiration in them.

How many did you make?
An edition of 1000 – we mailed out 750 copies to art buyers, photo editors and to past/current/prospective clients. I retained the rest for my rep to hand out in person and for my own in-person meetings.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Not enough! Usually, I manage to do 2 print promos a year – one larger mailer and then a more focused holiday mailer. And then I do email newsletters in between, more frequently throughout the year. I think the strategy of doing smaller mailers or postcards (vs a 52-page zine) more frequently could be effective, but I haven’t figured out how to make that work with my brain and schedule.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes, definitely. I guess a huge part of me just enjoys printing things and so selfishly I like to tell myself that of course, it’s effective and worth the time and money.

But on a less emotional and more logical side, I think that if you can make print pieces that stand out, they are extremely effective. I know art buyers/editors do receive a lot of promos, but at the same time, I think people still enjoy receiving old-fashioned snail mail and packages that are thoughtfully executed. Hopefully, someone will keep it at their desk or on their shelf as a reference. But basically, if just one person gives you a job after seeing your promo or remembers your name who didn’t know it before, it all becomes worth it.

This year a few of the people I sent promos to did Instagram stories of the inside of it, which was a nice way to get instant feedback from the promo and know that it made it into my intended audience’s hands and that they were enjoying it. I think all marketing is still a numbers game. If you can reach someone via snail mail, great. If you can reach some via an email newsletter, also great. You really just need to be reaching people through various methods so that at the end of they day, they know you exist or are aware of your recent work.

Tell me about the title?
The title “Without Words” is part of an ongoing theme in my print promos. The first zine promo I did was named “Wander Over With”. The second one I did was named “Way Over Where”.

The connecting thread is that each title loosely is an acrostic spelling out “WOW” in it (which refers back to my website winniewow.com, which happens to be a phonetic spelling of my full name, Winnie W Au). It’s a bit convoluted and I don’t think anyone will ever notice, but it helps me creatively to have this structure to work around when naming my promos. Or…is it a really effective subliminal message?! Ok, probably not, but one can hope.

The Best Work I Saw at the Filter Photo Festival: Part 3

 

It’s a tough week to be a man.

My gender has not come off well recently, what with the “me too” movement proving that almost every woman in America has been groped, molested, raped, or abused in some way during her lifetime.

Totally disgraceful.

As my own wife typed those words into Facebook, in conjunction with so many friends and colleagues, there’s not much I can do but shake my head and wonder how we got here.

Because where we are is pretty fucked up. (I should also mention the recent, horrifying news about the murder and dismemberment of Swedish photojournalist Kim Wall, which is the worst story I’ve heard this year.)

Then today, in the very same week, Women Photograph came out with a set of statistics that show just how few gigs at the major news organizations are going to women.

The numbers are awful.

I’ve said many times I’m a strong feminist, as my wife went to Vassar and Smith, and educated me since I was 23 on the ways of the patriarchy. As I’m now 43, you can imagine how many times I’ve been schooled on the depth of misogyny here in America.

I may have morphed into a super-liberal, highly conscious male in 2017, but I grew up a suburban-Jersey-boy, obsessed with sports and girls, so it was no given that I’d get where I am.

It took a lot of intervention from the Smith posse, and I’m forever grateful.

In fact, I can still remember what it was like, visiting Northampton back in 1998, partying with all those lesbians. I knew nothing of “butch” and “femme,” or “top” and “bottom,” and was seriously insecure to be in a crowd I didn’t understand.

In the beginning, I struggled with how to handle it. Frankly, I was uncomfortable, and out of my depth. But there was also something thrilling about encountering worlds so different from my own.

Then we moved to San Francisco, and were hanging out with the Bernal Heights lesbian crew all the time, and soon what had seemed strange became a part of my normal life. (In particular because these women, soon-to-become social workers, were such kind, impressive, intelligent people.)

Over time, my repeated exposure allowed me to relax, and begin to appreciate that these ladies were remarkable. Sure, they were different than I was, but at some point, we’re all people.

Now it’s 20 years later, and I am a much healthier, more grounded and accepting person, in particular because I had exposure to people of different races, classes, and sexual orientations in the ensuing years.

That opportunity to mesh with people, outside my Taos bubble, was one of my favorite things about my visit to Chicago, at the Filter Photo Festival last month. (This will be our final post on the subject.)

Because this last bit of synchronicity may be the best of all, and it was directly connected to who sat down at my portfolio reviewing table, ready to show me some work.

It began with the last review of Saturday afternoon, when I was pretty fried from all the looking and talking. A young man took a seat, introduced himself as Matt Storm, and began telling me a bit about his background.

From the first moment, I thought, “It appears he’s transgender. Like he used to be a woman. I hope it will come up in a natural way, so I don’t end up looking like an asshole.”

I gently made some further observations, and asked a few appropriate, polite questions, and it turned out I was correct, that Matt was cool with discussing it, and that I managed not to make a fool of myself.

The work is pretty genius, and I don’t use that word flippantly. Turns out, Matt’s grandfather passed away earlier this year, and they were close. So Matt came up with a project in which he impersonates his grandfather, while wearing the dead man’s clothes.

Even better, the pictures are hilarious, absurd, subversive, and perfect. In fact, in some of the photographs, Matt has posed in front of family pictures in the background that include him, as a young girl, if you know where to look.

I can’t imagine a smarter investigation of gender in America, and the fact that it is funny, rather than strident, is not coincidental.

The next day, in the morning, Kris Sanford sat down across the table, and also had a project looking at issues in Gay America. Kris had made black and white portraits of gay Americans in their homes, back in 2000, (before Will and Grace,) before there was even a widespread discussion of gay issues in our broader culture.

Then, she went back, found the same people, and re-photographed them 16 years later, in color, as symbolic representations of change over time. (Those are my words. She’d probably say they’re just portraits.)

But as Matt is in his 20’s, and his pictures represent a certain of-the-moment-ness, Kris is in her 30’s, and the project seems to have a different vibe reflective, perhaps, of a different generation.

Finally, right after Kris, Zoe Perry-Wood met with me, and she’s also a lesbian artist making work about gay rights issues, but  of an older generation than Matt and Kris. In Zoe’s case, she’s been photographing Boston’s gay youth prom for 10 years, making studio portraits of young people celebrating in an inclusive environment where they can joyously be themselves in public.

Zoe mentioned that over time, she’s seen changes in the demographic. In particular, the students have started coming out younger, and there are now more transgender students than their used to be.

Through the pictures, we can see the way changes in the culture at large are reflected in the bodies and spirits of these young people. And the photographs are technically strong as well.

So as strange is it may sound to some of you, I’m now in the process of curating a 3-person show by these excellent artists. I think it’s important for people to look at, and experience, different perspectives, and even though I’m just a straight white guy, I’m hoping to use my energy and effort to help get the message out there.

Moving on, I saw Jim VanBibber’s work out of the corner of my eye at the portfolio walk. Someone had mentioned it to me, so I headed his way to see for myself. Pictures like this need little introduction, as Jim is making wet plate collodion portraits of Lucha libra wrestler toys.

So. damn. cool.

Alice Hargrave had a review with me, and I needed to focus, as there were some pretty heavy conceptual strains pulsing through the pictures. One set was actually a visual, abstracted representation of birds, made by color-coding the sound waves of their calls. (Trippy, yo!)

She also had pictures she made at night, of verdant spots in cities, primarily, and I thought they were lovely. Really great use of color, texture and mood, so that’s what we’re showing here.

Next, we have the work of Julie Pawlowski, who spent several years living in Shanghai. (Her husband worked for Smuckers, of all places.) Though she was only a temporary resident, Julie was impacted by the rampant development in her adopted city.

In particular, she noticed that as traditional neighborhoods were razed, brick walls were put up to block out peeping eyes, or curious feet. So Julie has made a photo series that examines the changes in the urban landscapes, and uses those bricks as a repeating motif.

Finally, yes finally, we end with a small artist book by Kevin Miyazaki. I met him at Review Santa Fe back in 2009, and have been an admirer since. (Kevin was one of the first people to organize a print-for-charity process, with his collect.give program.)

In this case, Kevin gave me his book, about taking a trip to Japan as a Japanese-American who doesn’t speak Japanese. It’s a hard situation to imagine, though it affects many Asian-Americans. Looking like you belong, yet being marked as outsider because of your dress, language, or inability to understand certain rituals or traditions.

The book is beautiful, and seems an appropriate place to end this month-long look into what I saw, and who I met, in the coolest city in America. (Chicago, in case you’ve forgotten.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Adam Moran

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Adam Moran

the last 1/4

In March of 2015 I had been traveling non stop for almost 3 months shooting snowboarding and was getting a little burnt out.  No matter how beautiful the scenery I was in, it was all starting to blend after so many years working in the snow sports industry.  I was starting to get the itch to get out and shoot other things but my work schedule at the time had me going non stop. At the time I was living in Venice CA and finally home for a weekend. When I woke up to go walk for a coffee I realized that the LA Marathon was going on, and finishing just up the road from my house.   So I took my coffee, went home and grabbed a small camera bag and my bike and cruised up towards the finish line.  I had no plan, just the itch to get out and shoot something different.  I remember locking my bike up and thinking what am I doing here?, is this wasting time I could be home with my wife after I’d been traveling for weeks on end?  It honestly stressed me out at first, till I started shooting.  With no plan or goal I was able to just keep my eyes wide open and feel out the whole scene.  I only hung out at the last 1/4 mile of the marathon and quickly was taken by the energy of the scene.  People were cheering for everyone coming through, and you could see it lift their spirits as they finally had the end in sight.   What amazed me the most was the age range of people finishing, it truly made me feel I needed to get in better shape as people twice my age were finishing a run 8 times further than I thought I could make it.  As I kept shooting my focus started to narrow and I was drawn to the emotion on people as they were about to finish.  There was such a mix of pain, exhaustion, and elation all at once, with a huge crowd cheering so loud to make sure they made it to the end.  When I shoot action sports it’s common to frame in the whole scene, and this allowed me to depart from that and focus in on the elements I was missing in my normal work, close up emotion.  I’ve always loved the feeling of gritty b/w photos and wanted to keep it that way so the loud colors of running gear and bibs wouldn’t distract from feeling in the shot.  This was one of the first times I shot running and fitness work and it sparked something in me that I keeps me wanting to shoot more and more of it these days.  In the end after being burnt out on work, I came home from the race and spent my first Saturday at home editing photos, feeling inspired again.  So here it is, the last 1/4.

To see more of this project, click here.

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 because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

 

The Daily Edit – Variety: Andrew Hetherington

- - The Daily Edit

Variety

Design Director: Chris Mihal
Director of Photography: Bailey Bernard
Art Director: Cheyne Gateley
Photographer: Andrew Hetherington

Heidi: Can you talk us through your process preparing for a celebrity shoot like this?
Andrew: After the initial email from Variety PD Bailey Franklin confirming subject, date and location I checked in with him to see if they had any specific creative direction in mind so I could start wrapping my head around what I needed to do to get the ball rolling my end. If I recall we only had 5 days to pull it together, two of them being the weekend so things needed to happen swiftly. Variety were looking at a cover, a TOC image, an opener for the feature and 1 or 2 more images for secondary art. It was for their Emmy issue and Colbert was hosting the show so I started to brainstorm ideas and put together a creative deck. The location was The Ed Sullivan Theatre in NYC where The Late Show is taped. I wanted to give the impression that we were at the Emmys itself so didn’t want to shoot on the set per se so began thinking of ideas for front and back stage and researched images of previous Emmys awards shows to see if there was anything that caught my eye and would help shape some fun concepts. Also had a creative call with Bailey and CD Chris Mihal to flush out ideas before we sent the deck to Colbert’s PR for concept approvals. I knew Stephen should be wearing a tux too for it all to make sense and we made that request from the git go.

It’s a challenge to come up with original ideas for Colbert as he has been photographed pretty much every which way at this stage. But having a theme like the Emmys helped focus the concepting for me. I also asked and got to scout the location two days before the shoot which was great as we were able to walk through creative, technical and logistic scenarios with Colbert’s people and the crew at the studio; which can be a bit of a minefield in itself making sure you adhere to the house rules. On this shoot I used battery-powered strobes so we didn’t have to have a union electrician on hand to plug everything in. Usually helps gain some good will with the studio manager.

What tools to do you have to deal with the time pressure?
It’s all in the preparation. I like to have as much time to set up as possible and in this case we had two hours (which always goes so much quicker then you think). Each member of my crew was clearly aware of what our work flow was and what their responsibilities were. We discuss all possible scenarios that might play out creatively and technically. It’s important for everyone on my team to be in a cool calm zone during the shoot itself and we discuss who will do what should there be any hiccups so the experience is as seamless as can be.

What gets eliminated due to time constraints?
We were scheduled to have an hour to shoot with Stephen but in the end we had 20 minutes. I had 3 different set ups dialed in and in this case we stuck to that plan so nothing was eliminated.

Was this before the taping of a show?
Yes the scheduling was pretty tight. Shoot time was 12 noon – 1pm, when the studio crew were at lunch. We had a hard stop at 1pm as the band Beirut began a sound check and camera rehearsal on the set for their performance that evening. Let me say that the band did start playing at 1pm on the dot.

Did you shoot more than two locations?
We did the first set up in front of house which one assistant wrapped as we went back stage for the other two set ups. We needed to have all our gear out-of-the-way for the Beirut sound check.

Was it a collaborative effort with Colbert or did he simply want to be directed.
I had actually photographed Stephen at the Sundance Film Festival way back in 2005 when he was there promoting the Strangers with Candy movie. It was part of a portfolio I was shooting of festival attendees for Premiere magazine. I still remember the session with Colbert fondly because he and co-stars Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello brought so much energy, dynamism and authenticity to the set. This was right before the Colbert Report started on Comedy Central and he was relatively unknown still. I had no idea who he was at the time. I mentioned this to Stephen right before the shoot.

A subject like Colbert is a photographers dream. He’s a total pro and brings so much energy and enthusiasm. He’s also incredibly gifted physically and has an amazing sense of himself and the camera. I would say it was very collaborative with a bit of direction and a tweak here and there from me. Everyone was on board with concepts and how to execute at this stage so it allowed for spontaneity and ad libbing for each scenario.

The cover shot with his glam squad (hair/make-up/stylist) was my idea. The lip stick was all Stephen and we were given the heads up that it was something he wanted to try before the shoot. We did this shot last as we knew his make up would be toast once the lip stick was applied and we didn’t have time to be re applying for another set up.

What’s the best part about shoots like this? (where time is restricted)
The great thing in this instance was that 20 minutes was more than enough to get what we did. No time to over think each scenario, no time for the subject to become bored and uninterested. Helps of course that Colbert is a total pro!!!

What’s the most useful advice you would give your creative younger self about situations like this?
Friend, inspirator and mentor Platon once gave my younger creative self some advice that still holds true on shoots like these “Be yourself. But be prepared. Be prepared. Be prepared. Be technically prepared. Make sure nothing will go wrong technically and if it does, make sure you have a backup to the backup to the backup.  So be prepared, be yourself and most importantly you must make an Andrew Hetherington photograph. Oh and enjoy the moment.”

The Daily Promo – Elysa Weitala

- - The Daily Promo

Elysa Weitala

Who printed it?
HH Imaging in San Francisco printed the photo cards. I’ve worked with them on a few other projects and they are wonderful! Great quality prints and awesome people! The custom blue box was printed by Packlane and the branded wrapping paper was from Spoonflower.

Who designed it?
Last year I went through a full rebranding with a team at Wonderful Machine. This promo was the final piece to my new brand! Karen Yee was my amazing designer throughout the entire rebranding and created the design and concept for this promo. Stacy Swiderski was my editor and helped me select just the right images.

Tell me about the images?
My editor, Stacy and I wanted to make sure that my first large promo showcased the range and variety of my work. With a cohesive style that reaches across my primary disciplines, Food and Still Life / Product Photography, we opted to send each contact a set of both food and lifestyle cards. The images are a mix of personal and commissioned work from the past few years. The images chosen worked well together but could also stand strong on their own.

How many did you make?
100 Complete Box Sets and 20 Individual Card Sets

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is my first promo! I plan to send one intricate or large promo each year followed by one (or two) smaller promos throughout the year.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes, very much so! It is a break from the constant stream of digital media present in this industry. It also gives me the chance to bring elements and materials into my branding that is not possible with a website, blog, or email campaigns.

The Best Work I saw at the Filter Festival: Part 2

 

This might seem like a long story, but bear with me.

Back in the Spring, as I walked across Central Park with Patrice, a gray-robed Chinese monk stepped into my path, reached out, grabbed my hand, and put a wooden-beaded bracelet on it.

He was quick, like a Shaolin monk, before I could think to refuse.

So I said thanks, reached into my pocket and gave him a dollar. I turned to walk away, but in highly broken English, he pointed to his list, and showed me the previous person had given him $20.

I looked at him, he pointed at the list.

I said, “You want more money?”

He nodded yes.

I reached into my pocket, took out 2 more dollars, gave them to him, and then he blessed me. I bowed back, and moved on, not sure exactly how that had come about.

It felt really deep.

Later, downtown, my friend Felt mocked me, saying the whole thing was a scam, but it felt real to me.

Turns out, I wear that bracelet all the time. I’ve really come to like it. And I began to feel bad that I’d only paid $3, as it’s worth more than that to me.

Had I shortchanged a monk?
Isn’t that bad karma?

I swore the next time I saw a monk like that, I’d give him some more money instead, to make sure I was all good with the powers that be.

And sure enough, as I walked towards the lake in Chicago late last month, just up the street from the Art Institute, (with my friend Kyohei in tow,) who do I see but another gray-robed monk with a handful of bracelets.

I show him mine, thank him, and give him a few dollars. Again, like the last time, he asks for more, so I give it to him. But as I don’t need a bracelet, as I’m simply paying into the cause, he gives me a Bodhisattva blessing card that says “Work Smoothly Lifetime Peace.”

Then he bows in blessing, and we’re back about our business.

But since my spiritual moment slowed us down 2 minutes, by the time I got back to that very same spot, (after getting my press ticket,) I bumped into a photographer I knew in Santa Fe, 7 years ago.

I’d recommended she go to Chicago for her MFA, as I’d heard such good things about Columbia College, and she did. We said hello, and once she told me she was now the collection manager in the photo department, I jumped into journalist mode, and asked what the special places were to see?

It was she who gave up the intel on the secret Japanese galleries, and who later arranged to have the photography curator, Elizabeth Siegel, come meet us in the gallery to give us a little talk about Hugh Edwards.

How random, or coincidental, or meant-to-be is that?

Because I stop to give money to a Buddhist monk, because of my Jewish guilt, I get the inside scoop on some amazing Buddhist art inside the museum?

These are the things that keep happening to me when I’m in Chicago, and why I really can’t wait to go back. I’m sure different cities do this for different people. but I’m so comfortable there that I end up talking to everyone.

Inside the gallery in the Hugh Edwards show, (a terrific exhibition inspired by the Art Institute’s legendary former curator,) I started chatting up an African-American security guard.

She admitted she found the show boring, and I asked if it was because there were so many rectangular, black and white pictures in black frames with white matte boards, and she said, “Yeah, that’s it.”

I said I understood, and as my friend and I were both artists and professors, we were able to get excited for all sorts of geeky reasons.

I told her I’d give her one tip, and she could see for herself if it opened anything up about photography.

There is, in the exhibition, an amazing suite of about 10 Robert Frank prints from “The Americans.” (Hugh Edwards was the first curator in America to show the work.)

I told her about my favorite diptych, maybe in the History of Photography: on the left, a fancy car in Los Angeles, covered, shimmering in the fancy light, with the swaying palm trees. On the right, a dead body, covered by a dirty blanket, lying by the wintry side of Route 66 in Arizona.

Two strong pictures, yes, but the context supercharges them.

I said my goodbye, and walked deeper into the show to see work by Eugène Atget, and Duane Michals. There were daguerreotypes in the exhibit, and more.

Kyohei and I ended up talking about the show with an African-American couple around our own age, and some Asian-American schoolgirls.

Random, in-public discussion.
Yet again.

By the time we were ready to leave, the security guard walked up to me and said, “I went and looked at those pictures, and you’re right. That’s powerful right there.”

We all get off on photography, or you wouldn’t be reading this. (Except for you, Mom and Dad.) And when it leads to discussion, to dialogue, to a deeper understanding of the world we inhabit, then I’d argue the art form has done its job well.

So today, I’m glad to share the second batch of work from the the 2017 Filter Photo Festival.

Donna Pinckley, based in Arkansas, had work that I was sure I had seen somewhere, but I couldn’t say where for sure. The project had gone viral, she said, so it could have been any number of places.

Donna has strong, large format black and white images made of inter-racial couples, and includes text written on the bottom of each print. (Racist, nasty comments that people have made before.) It’s really strong work.

It reminded me of Jim Goldberg’s “Rich and Poor,” but Donna and I agreed that just because someone else had written on pictures, (as Duane Michals did also,) then it’s no reason not to do it, if the situation is right.

Mayumi Lake works at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she went to school, and showed me a couple of projects that weren’t quite right, for me. But art is subjective, and she clearly knows what she’s doing.

As is often the case, we might resonate with something else, in a different box, and that’s what happened here. Mayumi is Japanese, and these flowers she makes out of scanned bits of vintage kimonos are so cool.

Sleek and colorful, vibrant and personal. I liked them very much, and think you will too.

Kalin Haydon, a graduate student at Columbia College, showed me a project about bingo hall culture in Southern Illinois, as she grew up around such places. (We discussed the bingo hall sub-plot in “Better Call Saul,” and both agreed it’s stellar.)

I thought her strongest images were really tight, as they walked the line between being respectful, and showing a vision that might in some ways be perceived as pejorative.

It’s the hard part of doing a story from the inside, knowing you want people to appreciate what you do, and share your respect for the subject, while also being aware of the visual elements people are sure to find compelling or salacious.

Adam Davies was in from Baltimore, where he is an Artist in Residence at Creative Alliance. He presented a project of large format, urban, structural, architectural photographs that featured subtle use of graffiti. (Found, not made.)

There were certain perspectives that felt dangerous, like, “how the hell did he get up there?,” and overall I found them to be striking. I mentioned the few that I thought looked too much like other people’s images, but in general, think the work is excellent.

I met Susan Keiser, and showed her work here, after Filter in 2015. (She’s the first Filter alum to make it back into the post-festival round up.)

Her exploration of dolls fascinates me, as that would be a subject on my “cliché/don’t do this” list of things I’d give to students, if I had such a list. (I don’t.)

But I always challenge students to see if they can bring a fresh take to well-trod terrain, because who doesn’t like a good challenge?

This time out, Susan is shooting through ice, using vintage dolls from the 40’s and 50’s that she collects on Ebay. Even better, they’re small, so she has to use a macro lens to capture the scenes that she renders with the dolls.

Susan is also a painter, so the use of color and composition is right, leading to an overall creepy-but-not-too creepy vibe I really like. Crazy pictures.

Finally we have Allen Wheatcroft. Here, we return to that question of when are pictures appropriate or when are they exploitative? Or is it OK to be exploitative anyway?

Allen had street photographs from around the world that often (but not always) featured a lone figure in a crowd. Someone Allen described as off, or not-quite-right, but not hardcore junkies or homeless folks.

We discussed whether these people weren’t proxies for him? Whether he didn’t see himself as awkward or uncomfortable, unable to easily connect? Allen agreed that he did, and it was a really interesting way for me to understand the pictures.

He asked me if I thought they were too Bruce Gilden, or inappropriate towards the people in the images?

I don’t think so myself. I find them a bit intimate, and strange, and more endearing than critical. A bus driver in Stockholm? A guy on the beach in Chicago? More odd than off-putting.

We’ll end here today, with a group of pictures that represents some of the best the street has to offer…

Synchronicity.

The Art Of the Personal Project: Coco Amardeil

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Coco Amardeil

Crazy Mummy is a creative, photographic project, initiated in August 2014 with my 11 yeas old daughter. The concept was to realize a series of photos of Zhan in quirky, joyful situations, much like my work as a professional photographer. I proposed ideas of situations to Zhan; she then gave her point of view.. she for example refused to have an octopus on her head. I can say that we have done this project as collaboration. I wanted to share creative moments with my daughter whilst having fun. It is different view on mother-daughter complicity, on love and maternal love. Images full of humor and spontaneity.  After our first session in Greece, we continued the story during our various trips.  The  “snapshot” effect is voluntary..A Mom’s vision, simple and pure emphasized with the usage of grain and vignetting.

– How did you (or your daughter) come up with the idea? I wanted to do my first movie, and as i filmed i posted images on Instagram ..we got amazing feedback which motivated Zhan to keep going

– Who has the ideas for the photos?/How do you get the ideas? I prepared the ideas before our trip and took a suitcase full of styling accessories..we also improvised as we went along

– How do you work together? it is mostly fun but sometimes it is tough for Zhan…being buried in the sand, getting pricked by a cactus, kilos of bread wrapped around the waist ;

– How is the situation, when you take the photos? It looks so funny :-) Are you alone with your daughter? We are always alone…except the Kappla photo where her babysitter helped us. Where do you take the photos? In which situations? In Greece, on trips, at home

– How would you describe your daughter? How old is she? She is you adoptive daughter? She is joyful, positive, courageous and loves to laugh..she is 11 and adopted from Kazakhstan

– Has the project changed your relationship? Yes, even more complicity..and she gets my job as a photographer more.

– Do you still go on with the project?…we took a break but are planning on some new ones…I didn’t want to force her…but now she is asking for more..

To see more of this project, click here.

https://www.instagram.com/cocoamardeil/

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 because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

 

Expert Advice: Hiring Crew for Photo Shoots

- - Expert Advice

Julia Hanley, Wonderful Machine

Here at Wonderful Machine, we pride ourselves on being experts on all things photography and production. When working on a big shoot, one of the first steps towards a successful outcome (right after you’ve been awarded the project) is sourcing and booking a solid crew. How does one accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task you may wonder? Let us be your guide!

As a photographer, your crew is a group of hand-selected individuals who will help you with aspects of your shoot you cannot do yourself. Your crew can range anywhere from one to more than twenty people.

There’s no secret formula for sourcing the perfect crew, but you do need access to the right information and resources to get the ball rolling. Your approach to sourcing the perfect crew will vary based on the individual project you’re producing, but it should always include these steps:

BUDGETING

Before you get started, figuring out how you want to distribute your budget is key. Even though the budget can be restricting, you’ll want to be sensitive to not sacrifice the creative in any way. This should all be discussed during negotiations. Depending on the size of the project and the resources you have available, you’ll have to decide the size of your crew as well as if you want to hire people that specialize in certain areas or a couple of folks who can handle multiple tasks. For instance, you could find a stylist who can take care of both hair and makeup, but if the production is large and you have the budget for it, you might need specialists for each. Location can also play a big part in determining crew size. For example, if you’re shooting outside in multiple locations throughout the day, you may want to opt for a smaller footprint production versus when shooting in a studio. Other variables to consider are cancellation policies, insurance, and markups. Some crew will charge if you don’t cancel within a certain window, so be aware of that possibility given weather disruptions and other potential interferences. Insurance is vital, too. If anyone is injured on set, who’s going to cover the medical bill? Be sure to keep these things in mind as you plan your shoot and research potential crew.

RESEARCH

Once you have a rough idea of how you’ll be allocating your budget, you can start researching crew who would be a good fit for the assignment. This will depend mainly on how many people the shoot requires, what types of crew you need, and the location of the production. Aside from looking to folks you’ve worked with in the past, Wonderful Machine’s Find Crew page is an excellent place to start. We’ve built and maintained this database over the course of ten years, and we’re constantly updating it as people join and leave the industry. Covering 27 different crew specialties, it includes everything from animal agencies to set designers, and lists crew from all over the U.S. and beyond.

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Once you’ve wrapped your head around our crew page and determined what’s required for your shoot, it’s time to start using this resource to search for your team! It’s a good idea to make a list of your top choices and then choose some additional crew members you can use as backups in case things don’t go exactly to plan (hint: they never do). Your pre-production timeline will determine if you’ll have this luxury, as various factors can affect your shoot dates. If you’re shooting outside and on-location, the weather can change. If the client suddenly needs to push back a date due to issues on their end, you need to be ready. If the scope of the project changes and you have to add an additional shoot day, will you have the right crew in place? Because there are so many factors that can lead to a date change, it’s important to have a backup plan that accounts for unforeseen circumstances. Flexibility and being able to turn on a dime is key!

Expert Advice, Find Crew, Hiring Crew for Photo Shoots, MGM, Wonderful Machine 1

Behind the scenes of our shoot with MGM 

Having backups in place really came in handy during a recent shoot Wonderful Machine produced for MGM National Harbor. We were shooting a wide variety of commercial spaces before construction had even been completed at the casino and hotel. We had initially planned the shoot for nine consecutive days, but due to unmet construction deadlines, we needed to split the project in half and return to the location twice. We were already a few days into the production when we learned of the construction snafu, but I was still able to quickly adjust our shoot schedule. Between the two assistants I’d booked for the original shoot dates, I lost one due to a scheduling conflict. All of a sudden, I was short an assistant!

My first move was to ask the remaining assistant if he had any recommendations for locals whom he’d worked with previously. I sometimes take this approach because the remaining assistant will usually recommend someone they’re used to working with, making the shoot run smoother. When this failed, my backup plan sprang into action. I was able to contact an assistant I had on hold, who was thankfully still available to fill in. If that ended up being a no-go, I would have referred back to our robust crew database and began calling and emailing assistants in the Baltimore area. If I had not found a local via the database, my next step would’ve been to expand my search to either the D.C. or the Philadelphia metro areas.

Expert Advice, Find Crew, Hiring Crew for Photo Shoots, Charles & Colvard, Wonderful Machine 1
Behind the scenes shot of wardrobe stylist Christie Proud for a shoot that I line produced for Charles & Colvard.

OUTREACH

So! You’ve done your research, found crew members who’ll be a good fit for your production, and established backup plans B, C, and D. What’s next?

As long as you have the signed estimate or bid from the client in hand, it’s outreach time! My personal preference is to start with a phone call, complete with a follow-up email. This is especially important if they didn’t answer the initial call and I left a message. I personally feel like no one talks on the phone anymore and that conversation is rarely held outside of email and text messages. I like to keep it old school and give someone a good old fashioned phone call to get to know them. This also gives me the opportunity to ask questions if I need to speak with them about something specific like lighting techniques, hair & makeup direction, or wardrobe specs — things like that. I like to use phrases like “potential project” and “checking your availability” and “tentative hold.” I’ve found this sort of language is polite and precise but doesn’t make specific promises just in case things don’t pan out. Once you’ve checked that they’re available on the shoot days, go ahead and put them on hold.

PLANNING

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that specific types of crew are going to require different levels of planning and coordination.

When the shoot calls for catering, for example, I make it a point to ask if the crew and talent have any food allergies or restrictions in my initial phone and email. Although most shoots don’t require catering, it can be one of the most difficult aspects of crew to get right because you need to account for many different food preferences and expectations. Trust me, I’ve been on shoots where the catering has been a nightmare. I like to make sure there are always a few protein and vegetarian options and I always bring a few craft trays (food the crew can munch on all day instead of at a specific meal time) to each shoot as a backup. I also like to keep the meals light so that the crew isn’t falling asleep halfway through the day. Another crucial trick to keep people awake is to have lots of fresh hot coffee (or cold brews) on set at all times!

We recently worked with an amazing caterer in Denver for a job that we produced last summer with the local agency Karsh Hagan. This was a major production with a large crew and a lot of talent. We were shooting outdoors and in multiple locations each day, and thank goodness the weather was in our favor the whole time (even though it was unseasonably hot). With a few calls and a lot of Yelp reviews, we stumbled upon All Love Catering. Their team was amazing; they managed everyone’s food allergies, had multiple options at each meal, and provided different menus throughout the shoot. I did send them a copy of the production book, which we reviewed over a phone call so that they knew when and where we were shooting each day and could anticipate timing for set-up and break down.

Expert Advice, Find Crew, Hiring Crew for Photo Shoots, Karsh Hagan, Wonderful Machine
Our shoot in Denver for Karsh Hagan

Expert Advice, Find Crew, Hiring Crew for Photo Shoots, Charles & Colvard, Wonderful Machine 2
Dave Albanese, Peter Grill, Denny Henry, and photographer David Aaron Troy working on the set of our shoot with Charles & Colvard.

FINISHING TOUCHES

A few days before the shoot, when we are ready to move forward with securing the final crew, I send another email confirming dates and then release any crew that I had in reserve as a hold. I usually leave it up to the hair and makeup stylists, wardrobe stylists and prop stylists to hire their own assistants; they tend to work with regular assistants and have established relationships. After all of the details are finalized, I will send the crew a copy of the production book that includes location information, call times, shoot schedule, and creative brief (if applicable). Some shoots require a pre-production call with the photographer and crew in order to review the production book together. Others don’t necessitate a call, like if you’re familiar with the crew and have worked with them before. It all depends on the scope of the project and the personal preferences of those involved.

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Yours truly, smoothing out all the details! Get It?

FOLLOW UP

So hopefully your shoot went smoothly!

Now it’s time to follow up! This might seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people I’ve encountered who don’t send a thank you message or some kind of debriefing about the shoot to the crew. This lets them know they did a good job and you were happy to work with them. Apart from being a common courtesy and the polite thing to do, this will give your crew members a more positive feeling when they remember the production and they’ll be more likely to want to work with you in the future. And of course, once they send an invoice, please do pay it in a timely manner.

So there you have it! This article is by no means comprehensive, but we hope it gives you a rough outline of the crew booking process.

As I mentioned earlier, Wonderful Machine’s database covers multiple crew specialties, so when you’re in a pinch to find a caterer, studio space, prop stylists, or location scout, feel free to use our shoot production services! Putting it all together can be daunting, especially with all of the moving parts and scheduling concerns associated with a high production photo shoot, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like some assistance. I’ll more than happy to help!

The Daily Edit – The New York Times Digital: Zach Gross

- - The Daily Edit

 

The New York Times Digital

Photo Editor: Sara Barrett
Photographer: Zach Gross


Heidi: Can you give me a little back story on the project?

Zach: I started to show my newly edited portfolio around to photo editors. I reached out to Sara; we were originally in contact about a year earlier when The New York Times wanted to publish a photograph of Kalief Browder that I made a few years ago. 

She agreed to meet and review my new portfolio, we chatted about my work and the various projects she was working on with photographers. I wanted to experiment with blending multiple exposures in color. I followed up with her and I asked if I could explore that technique on assignment, and she came up with the idea of working on it at Penn Station.

What was their direction?
Since there is increasing conversation about renovating Penn Station, she wanted to convey the idea of hope for a better station, and to illustrate possible improvements, as I explored this idea I had trouble trying to literally show potential additions to the station. I ended up wandering around the station and noticed vintage photographs hanging around, I was drawn to how beautiful the old station was before it was demolished in 1963. I started making double exposures of the vintage photographs and moments that were going on around me.

Where will these images run?
A selection of the images ran in the Opinions Section on the New York Times website.  I’d love for the photographs to be exhibited in the new Penn Station, hopefully that will happen one day.

The passage of time is a big part of it and to create a completely different perspective of the station. I like that what you are looking at doesn’t exist outside of the photograph, and it brings a good part of the past forward, and highlights how the current state of the station is not ideal.

What did this creative process underscore for you?
I enjoy working with photo editors, its nice to have some parameters and guidance, and at the same time have room to experiment and explore.

 

Some outtakes

 

The Daily Promo – Lisa Linke

- - The Daily Promo

Lisa Linke now represented by Picture Matters

Regarding the promo:

https://www.prodpi.com/ printed the promos. Their quality is great and I also order the prints for my portfolio book there.

I designed the promo myself, I wanted to make a simple and cost-effective mailer, that the receiver wants to open right away. After making a really involved promo about a year ago, I felt like this was the right idea. Cards are always nice, because you can share a specific image with another creative that caught your eye. Each card has my contact info on it, so that whoever ends up looking at it, can reach out. I didn’t want to show a specific car as an opening image, instead I chose something environmental, that gives an indication on what is inside the envelope, but doesn’t tell too much. To me it was important to not only show the car, but also the surroundings. A car brings you to places and I often forgot to capture where it brought me to, so this time I wanted to show this and make it be part of my mailer.

The shoot itself was really fun and I was excited to share these images with creatives and agencies. But who doesn’t like jumping a truck in the desert?! To me this shoot was more like an adventure than work, an experience I was able to share during portfolio reviews. This adventure included me almost getting bit by a snake, a lot of dust and the most beautiful sunrise I had seen in a long while.

I actually made two different mailers, one with the off-road car and one with a performance car showing the capability of the vehicle to be used on streets as well as on a race track. Not every agency or client does shoots that involve off-roading, so I wanted to make two mailers I could send out to the right people. I made about 30 of each, so 60 total. The ones I had left I used to hand out during meetings.

This is the second mailer I made. I’m trying to send out mailers at least twice a year, simply to remind people of me and keep them posted about special projects.

I think print promos can be really effective. I personally love seeing my work printed, it shows the quality of your work. Even if it doesn’t get you a job right away, people remember you and your work and maybe at some point they get back to you.

The Best Work I Saw at the Filter Photo Festival: Part 1

 

I get lonely, sitting out here by myself in the middle of a pasture.

It’s very quiet.

Right now, as I look outside, heavy clouds are blocking half the mountain, as we’ve had atypical weather since I got back from Chicago.

Cold. Wet. Damp. Gray.

No thank you.

If I wanted to live in Portland, I’d move to Portland.
Even worse, when I left Chicago last week, it was in the mid 80’s each day.

Pure summer weather.

Now, I’m wearing my heavy hoodie everywhere, and sulking because I miss the sun.

Such problems.

Thankfully, they’re not the kind of troubles that require the President of the United States to pretend-foul-shoot paper towel rolls at my head.

Remember, no matter how glum you feel, things can likely get worse. And the man who’s supposed to save us, to inspire us, to console us, is seemingly as deranged as peak-nutter-Muammar Gaddafi.

Hell, when I was in Chicago, I couldn’t even look at his fancy building; the one I admired two years ago. Now, (other than giving it the middle finger on Instagram, like a gringo Ai Weiwei,) I found my Trump denial was pretty consistent.

Nobody wanted to talk about him. Except for a moment, on the subway back to the airport, as I was finishing up a half hour chat with a middle-aged African-American guy on his way to his first day on the job in a mail room somewhere.

We met on the platform, when he asked me if the train I was awaiting was right for him. I always like it, (secretly) when people take me for a local somewhere, so I told him what I knew, and that seemed enough.

We chatted easily, my new friend an I, and I told him about New Mexico, and he caught me up on Chicago. As we approached the end of the line, I told him about the time I filmed a movie in Donald Trump’s apartment on top of Trump Tower, back in 1996, and the walls were plated in gold.

Randomly, another guy, halfway down the subway car, chimed in, “‘The Devil’s Advocate,’ I loved that movie.” And before you know it, several of us, all strangers, were conversing, only minutes before we broke up forever.

(We didn’t bother trading names, much less business cards.)

Last week, I told you about Chicago in the abstract, but this stuff just keeps happening to me, whenever I visit. I attribute it to the local culture, which is of course true, but it might also have something to do with the fact that I’m lonely out here.

Working by myself.
Tapping away at the keyboard, like a white-collar jackhammer operator.

Tap tap tap.
Tap tap.

Spacebar.

Festivals like Filter are special because they allow us to confer with our own kind.

Our tribe.

It’s so powerful, in fact, that when I suggested one of my Antidote students attend Filter, (which she did,) she had a look on her face like she’d found her long-lost birth parents.

That feeling of belonging, of being understood, is powerful. It helps us all, as working in a creative field can be isolating, each of us in his or her own box.

Conversely, it also explains why this country has striated to the degree it has. In a world that is increasingly uncertain, and fraught, people take comfort sticking with their own. (Speaking which, do yourself a favor and read this brilliant Andrew Sullivan long-read on tribalism in American politics. It’s grim, but genius.)

When I’m reviewing at an event like Filter, I love feeling the rush of energy as the photographers all come in the room. The quiet gives way to a loud buzz in the span of one second.

Quiet.
Then roar.

And I get to sit there and look at people’s art, their personal secrets, and learn things about the world I wouldn’t otherwise know.

How great is that?

Over time, I’ve learned how to be critical without being harsh, so these days, all the conversations are positive, and I no longer make people cry. (Yes, it’s happened before, but not anymore.)

The next few weeks, I’m going to share the best work I saw at the 2017 Filter Photo Festival, so you can get as sense of what’s going on out there. As usual, the artists are in no particular order, and I’ll share details of our conversations as well.

I met Sara Silks towards the end of the event, which was fortuitous, as I’d already been to the Art Institute of Chicago, and could tell her about what I’d seen. As it happens, Sara and I are both inspired by Japanese art, and I gave her a suggestion about some Japanese galleries, deep in the bowels of the museum.

I’d only learned about them by happenstance, as I bumped into someone on the street in front of the museum, (a colleague I used to know in Santa Fe,) and as she works at the AIC, she gave me a tip on what the tourists never get to see.

In this case, I viewed some ridiculously gorgeous woodblock prints by Kawase Hasui, from the early 20th Century, that I was then able to recommend to Sara. Turns out, she makes Japanese-inspired, Zen-beautiful inkjet prints on special, Japanese paper.

They’re lovely, and the paper texture conflicts with the images, occasionally, in a way that evokes Wabi Sabi, the concept that roughly symbolizes the balance between perfection and imperfection. I’m sure you’ll appreciate the selection here.

Sarah Pollman made work that I noticed during the portfolio walk, but didn’t have time to check out. She’s based in New England, and suffered a tragedy she wasn’t comfortable talking about. Not surprisingly, she ended up making work that is based in cemeteries, as a way of processing grief.

Her first set, in color, focused on a garden cemetery designed in the suburbs of Boston by Frederick Law Olmstead. Each picture features an anonymous Mother and Father gravestone, like a weird Cotton-Mather-Ghost-story come to life.

Speaking of ghost stories, they’re the literal inspiration behind Bill Vaccaro’s excellent series “The Magic Hedge.” Bill’s a long time Chicago guy who makes Ziatypes, a style of alternative process printing that was invented by New Mexico’s Bostwick and Sullivan.

Though we can’t see it on the jpegs, each print had a patterned brush stroke on the outside of the image, where he painted on the emulsion with a Japanese brush, that was absolutely dynamite.

The pictures are of a spot near Lake Michigan that used to be a US military missile site. There’s an old story about the hedges being haunted, so Bill conjured just the right amount of creepy energy. Great stuff.

Ari Neiditz is trying to walk the line between travel and documentary photography. We discussed the way he could develop thematic series, as he’s interested in Asia, where these pictures originate. I suggested he try to tackle the entire continent, because how insanely ambitious would that be?

But in general, his best images had a cohesive color palette, and a sharp sense of observation.

Vera Miljkovic is Serbian, but moved to the US years ago. Her work stems from a more metaphorical vision, as she discussed her feelings of in-between, as she waited for a visa many years ago, and how she wanted to convey that uncertainty in her work.

One or two images were too derivative of Cindy Sherman, I thought, but most of the rest had a weird, kooky sensibility that I really appreciated. The worst images were kitschy in a way that referenced Eastern-European awkwardness without irony, so we discussed how she could push that further, intentionally, in the future.

Finally, for today, we have the duo of Paal Williams and Marissa Dembkowski. (Known as PWMD) I saw their work at the portfolio walk, and immediately fell in love. All the more so when they assured me the images were straight, unmanipulated photographs.

Turns out, the prints are real pictures of elements of photoshop, and digital reality, that they summon from the computer world into 3 dimensions. Rather than give away their technical secrets, I’ll ask that you view them as what they are: images of artifacts from the ghostly machine, rather than digital creations themselves.

Picture 001

Picture 003

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Picture 002

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Picture 004

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Picture 005

Picture 001

The Art of the Personal Project: John Kealey

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: John Kealey

Jai Alai originated in the Basque country of Northern Spain almost four centuries ago. The sport was first played professionally in Miami around 1926. The Miami fronton is still active and often referred to as the Yankee stadium of Jai Alai.

Fronton Blvd is a personal photo study on the sport of Jai Alai in the U.S. The sport is very much overlooked and probably in it’s final years of existence with the exception of Dania Beach. Personally I wanted the project to serve as a testament to the beauty of the sport, players, courts (concha), stadiums (frontons) and makers currently surrounding Jai Alai in Florida.

A trip to the Pyrenees is in the works to photograph where it all started.

To see more of this project, click here.

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 because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

The Daily Promo – Carmen Chan

- - The Daily Promo

Carmen Chan

Who printed it?
It was printed by FLASH Reproductions in Toronto. The designer found the printer and FLASH mailed us physical proofs to check color and quality before going to print. We went with them because they were able to accommodate the special binding for a reasonable rate.

Who designed it?
Kati Forner (katiforner.com)
I became a fan of her work via the print spreads she designed for other clients, and felt as though our styles aligned. She also has experience creating photographer’s pieces – coming up with a design language and format that speaks to each photographer’s work is a passion of hers. She started by presenting me with four design concepts (some of which I didn’t choose, she’s shared on her instagram) and explored cover layouts for one of them and then she went ahead with the layout.

Tell me about the images?
The images are an edit of my commercial, editorial, and personal work from the last 1-2 years for clients including WWD, Cereal Magazine, and Marriott Hotels. I sent Kati a wide edit of my favorite work and gave her free reign to make the first edit for the layout. We swapped out a few images after receiving input from a few close friends who are familiar with my body of work. I really liked the pairings we ended up with and the variety in scale and space throughout the piece.

How many did you make?
500. Half of them have been mailed to prospective clients. The rest will go to current clients, friends, and I’ll keep the rest as leave-behinds.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Last year, I sent out my first promos – a variety of double sided 5×7 postcards. This year, I’m only sending this one. Moving forward, I’ll be sending them once a year.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
It’s nice to be able to share your work in a print piece that is designed in a way that compliments your work, and this piece in particular acts as a mini-portfolio. So I think they can be effective in conjunction with your work being seen elsewhere. A good example of this is a photo rep I recently met with who first saw my work in a magazine, then received my printed promo, then received my e-newsletter and responded to the newsletter asking for a meeting. Then there’s serendipity – the postcard promos that were sent last year were graciously shared on your instagram feed (@aphotoeditor) and John Cogan from GOODNOISE (goodnoisephoto.com) saw it and reached out. We worked on a commercial job together last month that wouldn’t otherwise had come about had I not shared that promo with you. Thank you so much for sharing it!

The Daily Edit – UCLA Magazine: Charlie Hess

- - The Daily Edit

 

UCLA Magazine

Design Director: Charlie Hess
Art Director: Suzannah Mathur
Photographer: Stephanie Gonot


Heidi: Did you plan on the double entendres of music and academics (majors and minors?)

Charlie: At first blush this seemed like a pretty rote story about UCLA offering students minors as well as majors. But as our Art Director Suzannah Mathur and I dug deeper it turned out that many of the minors programs were pretty rad. And what the kids wound up pursuing after college anyway. The double entendres was a happy accident.

What about Stephaines style made you choose her for this project and what was your direction?
I had been looking for an opportunity to work with photographer Stephanie Gonot and this seemed like the perfect assignment – conceptual, fun, and eye catching, so this seemingly academic story wouldn’t get lost.
Stephanie and I brainstormed some ideas and settled on an approach. Tight portraits, each with their own color palette, and matching props.

What was the criteria for casting and did you hire models?
With public university budgets we can’t hire models. Shooting students is the right price, and generally creates a more authentic visual approach. We picked students from the fields discussed in the story, gave them their color schemes, and prepped coordinated props. Luckily the kids turned out on set enthusiastic and up for anything.

At some point in our careers we take stock and self reflect, what has this job taught you?
Working for a university is complicated, but Suzannah and I have learned how to make great work despite the limitations of cost, and an art staff of just us two. I love the challenges. And I love working with brilliant, dedicated students and faculty who are making a difference in the world. I can’t imagine going back to all the years of celebrity shoots, publicists, and entourages!

Previously this year I interviewed you about your Agency called 20 Over Twenty, what’s the update on this?
It started strong. I put together a great team of six talented photographers, each with their own aesthetic. We got some great shoots with USC, AFI, LACMA, SCI ART, LAPHIL, GET LIT, ELLE… My concept was for us to shoot cultural institutions, nonprofits and academic institutions, where I saw a gap in the market between the high end commercial clients, and the bottom feeders who wanted us to work for nearly free. I was working with marketing departments which used to have sizable staffs, and now had been whittled down to one or two people giving them no time to plan ahead. My business model was for us to book multiple shoots over a year, creating the content the clients needed. I had dreamed of a photo utopia where we would all help each other, but in reality, I think the concept of a photographic collective has its challenges and I didn’t have the bandwidth to make it viable in the long run. Consequently, I’m shutting the agency down at the end of the year. It’s hard to say that out loud but my hope is others can learn from my mistakes. I have no regrets for trying something new. We learn from our failures.

 

 

 

This Week in Photography Books: Sara J. Winston

 

I just flew in from Chicago, and boy, are my arms…

Tired.

Sorry.
Couldn’t resist.

It might be the worst joke in the 6 year history of this column, but you’ll have to forgive me. I pulled 18 hour days at the Filter Photo Festival in Chicago, talking the entire time.

Then, I came home to a full week of cooking, cleaning, driving, parenting, kung fu, and lots and lots of work.

My brain is so mushy, in fact, that I actually tried to get away with a joke so old, it makes the mottled flesh on Donald Trump’s belly look like baby skin.

Moving on, I must say, yet again, how much I like Chicago. I go to a lot of these photo festivals, (as you know,) and it allows me to show you a big slice of what’s going on out there in the American photo community.

But for all the cities I visit, Chicago is just a bit different. It fits me, like my favorite T-shirt, and allows me to feel relaxed, and understood, in a way no other city does.

It’s the little things, really, in particular the general Operating System of the local culture; the way people interact with each other. There is a friendly, grounded, openness that so many embody, and I haven’t seen it anywhere else.

(Insert random cliché about the Midwest here.)

Yeah, I hear you. Everyone says that about the Midwest. The people are just so darn nice.

My goodness!
Gosh!

But that’s not what I’m talking about. Rather, it means that random conversations come about, on the subway, on the street, in a museum, that don’t happen other places.

It happens again and again, and I find myself chatting up strangers in ways that are thrilling and comfortable at the same time. I know Chicago has all the problems of other megalopoli, what with the violence and segregation, which is what makes that openness all the more surprising.

It allows for the type of cross-cultural, cross-gender communication that this country, (and the world, I’d argue,) needs more of.

Not less.

For instance, this column is now based almost exclusively on submissions, as you know. (I can request the odd publication from PR folks, but it doesn’t happen often.)

Just the other day, on Twitter, I was discussing with my friend and colleague Patrice Helmar the sad truth that almost all of my submissions come from men. (White dudes in particular.)

We traded 140 character sentiments on why that might be, as the preponderance of people I review at these events are women. Lots of women are making art these days, but the books don’t turn up in the mail in anywhere near a representative sample.

Patrice wondered if it was confidence and/or aggression? I speculated that perhaps female artists still aren’t getting as many publishing opportunities?

What to do?

Well, in this case, I’m mentioning it specifically, in the hope that some of our female readers might send in books, or nudge their friends to submit. It’s really important for all of us to see a broader viewpoint, and I hope this helps get the ball rolling.

Because, like a random conversation with a stranger, while watching the world’s best street blues, (true story,) hearing and seeing things outside our own bubble makes us smarter, healthier, more empathetic, and better at what we do.

Luckily, when I was at Filter, Sara J. Winston gave me a book to take home, called “Homesick,” published by Zatara Press. We had a review together, and she was honest about the fact she’d been diagnosed with MS, and was using her current project to process those emotions.

She admitted to coming from a family with health issues, and how she hoped to escape the curse.

Alas…

The review was only tricky in that she showed me two discrete projects, but they were a bit jumbled in her presentation. Both had become books, so I struggled to differentiate between the two styles, and subject matters, so I could wrap my mind around her art practice.

“Homesick,” which is not directly “about” her illness, is a poetic, very-well-observed take on Sara’s home and family, I believe.

I say “I believe” because this excellent book hints, but does not state. It has a languid, referential style of making connections, in a way that seems… dare I say it… more female than male.

Patrice and I each made guesses about why I get more books from women than men, and neither of us suggested it was because our audience demo skews towards the penis.

Does it?

I don’t know.

But this beautiful, lyrical, slightly abstracted book feels like exactly the sort of thing a man might not make.

The first photograph, with a tub of margarine and a plate of bologna, is just so metaphorical. We get that food will be prominent, and the items she has chosen to represent her story have cultural baggage. (Not exactly bougie.)

Food is a recurring theme, but so is a wilted sort of sadness. A cat with a torn-up ear. Dirty dishes. A large man with electrodes attached to his chest.

Bananas in a bag.
The imprint of sheet on skin.

It ends with a wonderfully written story.
At first, as it uses the first person, I thought, “Damn, she can write too?”

But then it shifts to another perspective.
A lesbian lover from college?
Visiting the family homestead?

It seems so.
But each is written in the first person, so eventually, I had to ask myself, is this even true?

Is it?
True?

There is no direct answer until the final credits, which suggest a writer, Ani Katz, created both characters in the story.

It is made-up?
Or based upon interviews?
Does it matter?

I may well be accused of sexism for calling a book like this feminine. But then, I don’t see that word as pejorative. I’ve previously established my feminist street cred, and therefore I like this book so much BECAUSE it comes from another vantage entirely.

It treats book-viewing, or book-reading, as an experiential process, which is my favorite kind of photo-book. It tells a story, in pictures and words, and for a few brief moments, I couldn’t put it down.

Bottom Line: A lyrical, gorgeous book about going home

To purchase “Homesick” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

Personal Project: Todd Burandt

- - Personal Project

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this new revised thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

Today’s featured artist: Todd Burandt

ARTIST STATEMENT

I’ve been photographing rodeos as a personal project, for the last six years.  When I heard about a rodeo that was held inside of a maximum security prison, in which the inmates are the participants, I had to go.  It seemed like the perfect capstone to this obsession of mine.  After a lot of cold calls, and lengthy emails, I was finally granted access to photograph the event known as The Angola Prison Rodeo.

The Rodeo started in 1965, and has grown in size each year.  The general public originally sat on apple crates, and the hood of their cars.  Now, they sit comfortably inside a 10,000 seat covered arena.  Due to increasing popularity, the inmates are now allowed to sell their artwork, furniture, and jewelry to the public.  All of the funds go directly to the artist’s families on the outside.

Many people are torn on the thought of inmates with no prior experience riding bulls, and roping broncos, participating in this event.  But, the truth of the matter is that this is completely voluntary.  My goal was to depict them as ordinary citizens, in an extraordinary place.  But when the sun sets on the Rodeo, the reality of it all sets back in place.

To see more of this project, click here.

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 because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.