The Art of the Personal Project: Those who got noticed in the press

- - 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 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:  Personal Projects that get noticed the press and in broadcast.  I often hear from photographers they done know what to shoot for a personal project.  I think you have to shoot from the heart and make it unique and special to you.  When I am looking for personal projects, I like to post ones that are a personal vision, something I have not seen before.  I am always thrilled when I see someone’s personal vision published in the press or broadcasted on television.  I remember when Grace Chon’s work was posted on a Today Show segment, Bob Carey’s lovely tutu project was on a national news segment, Jaime C. Moore was a feature on CBS Saturday morning or trending right now on Instagram @notengaged.  Some of these folks are professional photographers and several are not.  What they have in common is they created a project and put it out there and the internet Gods listened.

http://www.bobcarey.com/#/portfolio/portfolio/ballerina

https://www.gracechon.com/+projects/zoey-and-jasper/1

https://conornickerson.com/en/projects/childhood

https://www.instagram.com/notengaged

Rafael Mantesso & Jimmy Choo, the dog

Sioin Queenie Liaoand Queenie Liao and Wengenn in Wonderland

Jaime C. Moore  and her daughter as Influential Women through History

Marc Bushelle credits above for his project of his daughter dressed as History Makers  and more refined as  The Heroines Project

Theron Humphrey  This Wild Idea and featured in Time Magazine

 

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 @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

 

The Daily Edit: Interview with Frank Ockenfels Part Two

- - The Daily Edit

Heidi: Have you ever been hired for strictly illustration?
Frank: No. I’ve been hired to journal and collage, but I’ve never been hired to draw or  illustrate something.

If you were offered an illustration project would you take it?
I don’t know. That’s a good question. I think I’d become Beckett at that point. I’d be Beckett and go like, “Eh, no, that’s not me.” Which is what he says.

Since I’m not a skilled illustrator, I’d probably overthink it. But at the same point I might actually embrace it and dive into it and see what’s there. My ability to shoot faces and form is pretty much “this is what it is.” I follow a lot of illustrators that I think are amazing, and I’m a huge Ralph Steadman fan.

Do you find collage or design easier?
Years ago, Drew Hodges, who used to have a company that did all of the Broadway advertising  hired me for the Diary of Anne Frank. He wanted the advertising to be a visual diary using pictures of Natalie Portman as Anne Frank. I laughed because at the time I was a 40-year-old man and he wanted me to design a page like a young teenage girl. My handwriting isn’t the same. There’s nothing even close, though I can put the pictures together.

We agreed on doing two rounds and at the end of two rounds if they didn’t get it then that’s the time for me to walk away. We went through two rounds and sure enough they kept on… the powers that be were all freaked out, didn’t know what to do with it. They ended up using it just in a different context.

I’d done a couple of journal pieces for magazines but I started putting a disclaimer saying, “If you ask me to do this and you want to use the piece you have to use it as a whole, you can’t crop it. You can’t cherry pick out of what I’ve done because, to me, when I do every single edge of the page it’s connected by what’s happening on the page. If you don’t have the whole thing it doesn’t make any sense

How did you establish your own voice while assisting?
I look at the people that I worked for, and consciously didn’t work for portrait photographers for that very reason. I worked for interior photographers.

When Beckett talks to you, do you feel like he’s asking you questions as his dad or he’s asking a photographer?
That’s a good question. I don’t know. He so rarely wants to talk about photography.

How do you answer them? That’s probably the better question. Do you answer like a dad or do you answer like a photographer?
I answer as a photographer. I’ve taught enough that when people ask me questions and I realize what they’re asking me I make sure that I’m answering them honestly.

And how much of yourself do you see in him as far as being an artist?
Well, I think it’s funny, at 18, which is where he is right now, he is definitely very similar who I was at 18

Who were you at 18?
I knew I could take pictures, I liked taking pictures, I wasn’t committed to it, I didn’t do it 24 hours a day.

I grew up in a household where we’d do summerstock every summer with my mom because it was all about theatre and I’d take pictures. That made sense to me. It was my one thing but didn’t ever see it as an actual thing I could do professionally. I didn’t understand that. So Beckett is surrounded by a mother being a painter and father being a photographer. He’s surrounded by that. He see’s it can be a profession, it’s a lifestyle one can have. They have a nice home. They’re able to feed us. We live a good life, considering. I see him being kind of a  bit irreverent to the process and not really a 100% committed, and a little scattered.

When did it become more focused for you?
I would say it happened when I was in my– I think in my end of my second year in college when we started taking studio classes. I started going in to make sure I could do the studio stuff.

The work on your site now is varied, is that a good approach?
My website is an example of both a good and a bad thing.

I often get notes from industry people and enthusiasts, “I just spent hours looking at your website. It was just so enjoyable.” It’s so all over the place that if someone in advertising is going to hire me, it’s a tremendously hard sell because somebody’s who is not creative and who’s not visual, looks at a site like this and says, “I don’t know what they do. They’re all over the place. What is their style? What are we going to get if we hire this person?”

Isn’t the work Carol curates for you on EyeForward much more of a narrowed edit?
Probably so but not because people like everything. If you look at my website, I give people options of what they want to look at and I try to gear that towards let’s dumb this down. But at the same point, I think it’s interesting to see who you have to go talk to about getting a job nowadays and I think it even goes to the point of photography.

Tell us how things have changed.
You look at photography now, and most photographers, which I kind of make a joke about. Jeff Dunas does this photographers breakfast once a year and it’s  about 25 of us. We get together and sit around this table having breakfast at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club and discuss life. We discuss what happened in the last year and we’ll tell stories to each other.  Everyone from Douglas Kirkland to Gerhard Ludwig attends, it’s a wide variety of photographers, Claxton and Marshall and Herman Leonard.

We sit around and talk as if we are all on the same page and one of the younger guys was talking about something and an older photographers looked at him and said, “Have you ever shot chrome?” and the kid looked at him, ” I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He goes, “Like chrome. Like fly zone.” He goes, “Oh, well no. I haven’t.” He says, “Try it. Go do that one time. Go see what it’s like “THAT will teach you how to be a photographer.”

Shooting chrome film makes you really have to focus while digital has made it so much easier to fix mistakes so quickly. You see immediately that you don’t have the right exposure. You see what’s working and what’s not working. Where when I was a kid I had to shoot chrome. We’d shoot a polaroid and if something changed in the middle of it all, well it is what it is, and you had to be within a half stop of a decent exposure or the whole thing would go south and you’d be overexposed, or the color temperature was wrong, or the light was going off too much, or a good blend of shadow wasn’t there. It’s very similar in the sense of the people you might work for nowadays. Their education might not be in the creative industry. There’s more of a business aspect of it.

Switching gears a bit, did you know that David Bowie wasn’t well?
No. No, I didn’t.

I worked with him kind of on and off over the years. We did 16 shoots with David over a nine-year period. And toward the end that time he said, “We must have done enough for a book.” I laughed and I said, “Well, I don’t know.” that’s when I put stuff together to show him.

He and I sat and looked at it once and then I didn’t see him for a bit. Later he had that episode which happened in Europe where he was sick — then from there, it got quiet. He said to me when I saw him last he wanted to do, we needed to do one more shoot.

I was going back and forth from New York and I really wanted David to sit down with me and discuss each shoot because that, to me, would be an interesting book. Why’d you pick this kid, me, to go to? To constantly call and say, “Hey, I need pictures for this and pictures for that.” He could’ve asked anybody. But he asked me and it’s always been so baffling. I never was able to ask him that question “What did you see? You’re David Bowie. You could’ve asked anybody in to basically take your money and take pictures.” In my understanding of our collaborations, I think he asked me because I never wasted his time. I always tried to do something different each time and he appreciated that.

I’m sure he probably just didn’t want anybody to see him that way. When you found out that he had passed away, how did you feel?
Well, it was weird because it was in the middle of the night in Los Angeles when they announced it. And my phone started beeping which was in the other room and it wouldn’t just stop beeping. What’s going on?” It was all these people calling me, asking me, “Did you know David died?” Then people asking for pictures of David, obviously. And I was just kind of stunned and I kind of got back into bed. And I kind of woke up Diane and I said, “David’s dead.” David died.

I laid there very quietly thinking about it. And I’m not being surprised. I don’t know why I wasn’t surprised and then oddly enough, two weeks later, I’m in London and there was 10 times more news than in the United States. It was all over the press. It was on every magazine cover magazine, every newspaper every day was– the conversation about David all over the television.

There’s an amazing exhibition, ‘David Bowie Is’, that’s been roaming around,  prior to his death even. It’ll be interesting to see how I feel walking through it now, you know?

The Daily Promo – Martin Westlake

- - The Daily Promo

Martin Westlake

Who printed it?
It was printed by Harapan Prima printers ( http://www.harapanprima.com/ ) here in Jakarta where I’m based. We did some test prints on a newsprint style paper but in the end, decided on a better quality 70 gsm Lux cream book paper.

Who designed it?
The promo was designed in Jakarta by artnivora (http://www.artnivora.net/ ). I’m friends with their owner/creative director, and have worked with them on commercial projects in the past and really like their different approach to design and their use of photography.

Tell me about the images?
The images are from 2 commercial shoots from 2015 and 2016 at Katamama, an all-suites boutique hotel located in Seminyak, South Bali. The photos were used by the client for their website and main marketing collateral. The 1st shoot was pre-opening and focussed on the building exteriors/architecture, pool, and some interiors. Once the hotel had opened we returned to complete a full shoot of all the room categories and any areas that had been missed previously. The creative team from the owning company gave me the freedom to shoot in my own style which was a refreshing change from the strict corporate guidelines that I’m used to on most hotel + resort shoots. I love the contemporary Indonesian architecture and interiors of this property, it was a dream shoot for me and is a perfect showcase for my hotel photography.

How many did you make?
The print run was 250 copies. The printer custom made 150 envelopes + packaging for mailing and the remaining 100 I have for leave-behinds.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I’ve been a bit remiss with promos in recent years. In the past, I would send out cards 2-3 times a year to editorial and hotel clients, locally and overseas. More recently I’ve only produced Christmas cards with a photo from the previous year’s best work, or with an image from my travel archive. I’m a huge fan of print and had been playing around for a while with ideas for a larger format ‘zine’ to promote my hotel photography. The plan now is to try to produce a similar type/sized promo annually.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
It’s difficult to tell the effectiveness of printed promos here in SE Asia as most of my commissions from Asian clients have been through ‘word of mouth’. I’m not sure too that nowadays print media is particularly appreciated here in Indonesia, I’ve been to many meetings and given out promo cards, which have then been returned to me. Having said that the feedback from this promo has been extremely positive particularly from architects and interior designers.

This Week in Photography Books: Max Sher

 

There’s a sameness in writing a weekly column.
Each week, another book.

Each week, another deadline.
And another.
And another.

It’s gone on like this for nearly 7 years, and you’d think I’d resent it.

The sameness.
The monotony.
The routine.

Lather.
Rinse.
Repeat.

Surprisingly, though, I don’t resent it at all.
I enjoy my routine immensely.

At the moment, in-between Antidote retreats, with a chicken and corn mole to make, and some bison bolognese to prep, I’m fully out of my daily grind, and out of my comfort zone.

As of next week, though, with the kids back in school and Antidote behind us, I’ll revel in the sameness of it all.

Get up.
Make the kids breakfast.
Get them off to school.
Go for a hike.
Do my work.
Pick the kids up from school.
Make dinner.
Watch tv.

And then do it again and again, until Xmas break.

There’s a beauty in this routine, in that it’s life. It’s what we do. It’s the structure through which we share moments and meals with our loved ones.

Everyday life may not be where we make our most vivid memories, but it’s the meat and potatoes of the days of our lives. (If that’s not the cheesiest sentence I’ve written in this column, maybe somebody can find a better example?)

The truth is, I’m punch drunk at the moment, which you can probably tell. My earlier paragraphs look like a succession of William Carlos Williams poems.

Or maybe ee cummings?

Regardless, even now, half-useless as I may be, there’s always a point.

(I’m keeping it short today, given my life constraints, and the likelihood you’re on vacation anyway.)

“Palimpsests” is a new book by Max Sher, published by Ad Marginem Press, that was sent all the way from Russia. I’m honored he made the effort, and am glad he did, because it’s a very cool book.

And perfect for today.

This group of cultural landscape images was made across the former Soviet Union. It appears to be, and the text and excellent end-graphic confirm, a categorical look across an unimaginably big space.

We Americans like to think about things in comparison to Texas, so let me Google something… just give me a second.

(Pause.)

Nope. I couldn’t directly find how many times Texas fits into the Soviet Union. Though this link from Texas Monthly comes close.

Regardless, my point was simply that the Soviet Union, which Vladimir Putin may be keen to fully rebuild, was FUCKING HUGE. It contained many cultures and sub-groups, yet when the country was built upon ideological, rather than cultural terms, it led to a uniformity of architecture and assembly of public space that is amazing to behold. (Amazingly boring, if you catch my drift.)

I’m surprised these pictures don’t seem bitter, or condescending, though so many of them are bleak. Again and again, the light is flat. (ed note: When I photographed the book, I realized the light quality and quantity were more varied than I realized upon initial viewing.)

The colors, when they arrive, are often in a pastel palette. Oranges and pinks and greens and turquoise.

But mostly things are gray.
And boring.

There are few people in these images, which suggests perhaps the public sphere outside Moscow is under-populated? Or maybe Max just prefers landscapes?

It’s all so much the same, despite the wide geographic spread, and a shot at the beach. (Sochi?)

I’ve squeezed about as much as I can from this brain, but I’ll end with a couple of compliments. The compositions and color palette in this book are really top notch, but so is the volume of pictures.

So often, I find myself reminding you guys “less is more,” and this is not the case here. To create that feeling of the seductive repetition with slight variations, Max Sher was wise to include so many photographs.

I kept flipping the pages, waiting to see the next iteration, like an old Calvin and Hobbes calendar, circa 1995.

I’ll stop now, before my references get more obscure than the People’s Front of Judea.

Bottom Line: Sleek, smart book of Soviet landscapes

To purchase “Palimpsests” click here 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in submissions from female photographers so we may maintain a balanced program. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Adam Ewing

- - 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 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 Ewing

Early in my career, I realized the importance of shooting personal images to coincide with the work I was actually assigned to do. I started shooting as an editorial photographer after a long tenure of assisting editorial and commercial photographers. When I would get to a location I was assigned to shoot, I would quickly scan the area as I scouted for the job and take notice of things that interested me.

I made a habit of taking mental notes during jobs and then for a few minutes at the end of an assignment I would shoot something for myself in a style that wasn’t what I was professionally hired to do. After a while, I built a large enough library that my commercial clients took notice. One day I got a call from Anya Mills, an art buyer at the Martin Agency, an advertising agency I was doing a lot work for at the time. One of the art directors at the Martin Agency, Ty Harper, had seen some of this personal work on my site and wanted me to shoot a project for the paint company, Benjamin Moore. It was a dream assignment.

They flew me to different cities around the United States to find things I wanted to shoot, and to shoot them in my signature style. They sent me with an in-house producer, Ross Skinner, and together we spent a few weeks on the road, looking for buildings and townscapes that would fall into what the client wanted for an image library. I would see something I liked, and Ross would seek out the permission and get the proper releases so Benjamin Moore could use the images commercially.

I normally shoot portraits, but every so often someone sees this personal work and it leads to inquiries about licensing or to a new assignment to shoot in that same style.

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 @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

 

Pricing & Negotiating: Food, Product, and Lifestyle Library Shoot for a New Cookware Product Launch

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Food, product, and lifestyle library shoot for a new cookware product launch

Licensing: Unlimited use of 80 images in perpetuity, Owned-Social Media use of an additional 100 images in perpetuity

Photographer: Food and lifestyle specialist

Client: A Large Multi-National Brand

Here is the estimate:

Screenshot of a redacted real-world photographic estimate

Creative/Licensing: The creative called for a narrative approach to a series of casual family/friend gatherings, revolving around a meal and meal prep, at 3-4 residential locations. The photographer would be tasked with capturing the lifecycle of the meal, from ingredient details to recipe process shots, to product details, to kitchen lifestyle, to plated dishes, to lively dining experiences, and everything in between. Basically documenting a fun dinner party, four times over to cover a variety of recipes, locations, and demographics.
This was a somewhat unique ask from a licensing standpoint. The client wanted a reasonable number of “hero” or “library” images, 20 per day, to include in their brand library and about 25 outtakes per day (really subtle variations of the “heroes”) for owned social media use only. 45 images/day may (or may not) seem crazy, but we were sure to set appropriate expectations and explain that 25 of those, if not more, would fall squarely in the realm of “subtle variation.” With the client duly informed and in alignment, and based on how the photographer stages and shoots, and the narrative nature of the shot list/creative, she was confident she could deliver the 20 “heroes” and requisite outtakes.

This was a rare instance when a client not only provided a budget, but provided a reasonable budget. Though they were asking for “library” or unlimited use, the lion’s share of the images would be used in sales materials and brochures for the product. The occasional shot might find its way into an ad, but for the most part, the usage would be below the line. Normally, we might start a library day rate, including usage, around $7,500-$10,000, and push up (or down) from there based on the specifics. In this case, there was a limit on the number of images (which is not always the case for “library” shoots), a somewhat limited intended use, four consecutive days of shooting, and a fixed budget. As the industry continues to shift and evolve, we see these pressures/forces often and, unfortunately, have been conditioned to presume that the rates must be “discounted” accordingly. This wasn’t exactly a unicorn of a project, but it was close. The scale of the brand, volume of work, and scope of use called for a healthier rate, which we set at $65,000 (a shade off $16k/day). Fortune, and a realistic client smiled on us and the budget could bear the fees.

Photographer Pre-Production and Tech/Scout Days: We don’t often include straight pre-production days for photographers, but in this case, they were needed. We were working with an amazing, collaborative client without an agency. Even though the client knew what they wanted, and were pretty well buttoned up, during the initial conversations, it became clear that there would be a fair amount of conceptualization and oversight required of the photographer. Accordingly, we included four days of pre-production time to cover her considerable involvement in the lead-up to the shoot. We also included one tech/scout day for the location walk-throughs the day before the shoot.

Producer Days, Production Coordinator and PA Days: This was a substantial production: eight talent per day, three locations, product inventory, a total daily headcount around 30 clients, talent, and crew. Sort of an all hands on deck situation. We included a producer and production coordinator to oversee all the moving pieces for the fairly straightforward but relatively large production. Though they worked as a team, the producer ran the show, directing the coordinator through pre-production and clearly delineating roles during the shoot. We also included a PA to help out on the tech/scout day, shoot days and a wrap day.

Photo Crew: With the creative relying on a fair amount on available light, we went with the photographer’s preferred first assistant, second assistant, and digital tech, with the PA as a swing assistant as needed. The first and second assistant both had an extra day included so that the could help out with gear prep and wrap. The tech and her workstation would only be covered for the four shoot days, but the photographer asked that she attend the tech/scout and covered her day rate out of pocket.

Equipment: Though we were reliant on available light to a degree, with such a large production hinging on somewhat uncontrollable environmental factors, we needed to make sure we could replicate daylight, and light the entire scene if need be. This meant a healthy amount of lighting and grip equipment. We also factored in a medium format camera system and a few production supplies like pop-tents, tables, and chairs. Like most rental houses, our local shop offered “three days, same as a week” rates, meaning that we only paid for three days of rentals despite having the gear for six days.

Post: We quoted the post a little differently than I typically would. The photographer’s first assistant was actually on staff and managed most of the photographer’s post-production work. This gave her a fair amount of flexibility in post pricing, and also allowed her to quote/bill for it a little differently. Based on lengthy conversations about post expectations, we determined that, at the most, it would require ten days of her assistant’s time to handle the retouching. However, even though she had that luxury, we also had to prepare for the possibility that, despite a pretty generous post schedule, another project might come up, forcing her to outsource the post. Given the volume, ~80-100 hours, we were confident that many of our retoucher contacts would be glad to take the project on what amounted to about a $100/hr rate.

Location: The client wanted to shoot in four distinct residential settings, three inside the home/kitchen/dining room and one outside on a residential patio or in a backyard. Our local scout quoted us five days of scouting and five days of location management at $750/day plus $3,000/day for each location. We don’t always need a location manager, but with such a large crew we wanted to make sure we had one on set to ensure it was returned as it was found. We also included a location RV, primarily for hair/makeup and wardrobe styling. We’d be able to set up props, catering, etc. under tents in the driveways.

Styling: We were looking for real people to be enjoying their family/friends and food in authentic, luxurious spaces. We budgeted for an excellent team of wardrobe stylists, prop stylists, and food stylists to set the stage and build a believable, authentically layered scene. We also included the cost for the requisite assistants, prep/return time, supplemental props, wardrobe, and food.

Casting and Talent: Our local casting agent provided a quote for a three day live casting event, including prep and the costs for real people lifestyle talent. We would usually expect to pay a bit more for talent, but most of the models would be booked for multiple days, and the nature of the shoot (food being the main focus) meant that we were mostly looking for background talent rather than principals. We also included a talent payroll service to cover talent payments to ensure that we were complying with all of the tax and insurance regulations.

Catering, Insurance, and Misc: We estimated $50 per person per day for breakfast and lunch and $250/day for craft services. We also include insurance to cover the premiums for the gross production costs and a miscellaneous line to cover local transportation, working meals, and any other expenses that were sure to come up.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project and subsequently photographed another market-specific production for the same product line.

Hindsight: The food prep became a little more complicated and messy than we’d hoped. We could have added rented kitchen equipment or a catering truck to manage the food prep off-set. Otherwise, the production went off without a hitch!

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 or reach out. We’re available to help with any pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

The Daily Edit – Interview with Frank Ockenfels Part One

- - The Daily Edit

Photographs  by Beckett Ockenfels

 

Frank Ockenfels

We talk with Frank Ockenfels about fatherhood, photography, and raising boys one of whom is a budding photographer.

Heidi: Why do you think your older son Beckett is a good photographer?
Frank: Composition and light. He figured it out quickly which is kind of bizarre and he knew what good light was which is kind of funny because I would say that’s the biggest problem with a lot of younger photographers. He sees light really quickly and understands this is a good piece of light, or that over there is an interesting piece of light, even if it’s the most basic. I built the daylight studio upstairs and he immediately saw how beautiful the light was and how simple it was. Almost so much that he wouldn’t take a light out and try to light something differently.

So he just looks for the available light and well, he sees it. Now, will he use it is another question! But when he goes to take pictures for himself he’s always trying something. He’s done simple and when he does simple, he doesn’t think much of it.

A friend of his asked him to do a couple of lookbooks for friends who are young fashion designers. And he dismisses the pictures, but the light is beautiful and simple and exactly what is needed as people want to see the clothes and the fabric. But then on the same hand he’ll turn around and use a LED panel that we have here. It can be set to constantly change colors so he shot images with the it rotating like a party light, moving and flowing through things. Then he was doing slow-motion pictures of his friends blurred and the colors were moving through it. When I was 17 THAT was not my brain.

Has Beckett taken any formal photography classes?
Diane found a photo class for high school kids at SVA. He ended up taking a class from a photographer Clay Patrick McBride I met when I was just a kid.

Clay told me “Go be a photographer, man. Your work is great.” And so, oddly enough, without us knowing it, he ends up in Clay’s studio lighting class.

Anybody who was around me started laughing, “But, he stands around you all the time. Why would he go take a class like this?”  and I thought he should take the class and forget he know’s anything and listen. Listen and do it the way the instructor is telling you and then take it and learn that process. It’s not like telling you do it the for the rest of your life like that.

You’re learning and feeling how they see. But first, execute what they’re asking you to do. He and Clay totally butted heads because Beckett is very straightforward. If he likes something he likes it, if he doesn’t he doesn’t. If he doesn’t like to do a certain style he doesn’t want to do the assignment.

What do you say to encourage him?
My response:  “Well, welcome to the world of photography. You’re always going to get assignments you don’t want to do. But you have to go above and beyond what that is. I think the hardest jobs to do are the ones that everyone thinks you’re amazing at. And the ones that are the easiest sometimes, which people don’t really get praised for, are the ones where you are given something to push.

If the directive is “Shoot this can on this white seamless” I think that’s easy because you know you can do it, but the fun part is how much more are you able to push it?  It’s funny to watch your kid at 17 have just such an incredible eye and not really 100% embrace it.

Nowadays his generation of people do multiple things. You become a photographer, get connections, then become a fashion designer, you can be both. You can be an actor and a fashion designer. Actor, musician. Musician, actor. Everything is overlapped in using the opportunities to get you where you want to go. And using your education along the way to do so.

How much does Beckett talk about you influencing him?
Not at all.
When he wants to do something he’ll say, “Just tell me how you did this.”
And I’ll say, “Okay, and I still need to show you?”
“No. Just tell me.”

And then, he’ll go and try it himself and he’ll find his own answer to whatever that is, which is great. Clay told him, “Don’t be your dad. You’ve got to be yourself.”  Which at 17 or 18 years old can be tough, he’s going to be influenced by me. He’s standing around me, he works for me, he sees how I shoot. Like any assistant would be influenced by the photographer they work for when they go to do those things for themselves. They’re definitely going to have in their brain, “Oh, this is how I just saw it done.” The key is what you do with that knowledge, and where you push yourself to take it.

 

Paintings by Diane Ockenfels

How did you raise two boys?
I didn’t raise the kids, Diane did. She really was always here for them, when they were younger, they would always rely on her more. If something went wrong, they would immediately go to her, not to me, which was tough when I realized it.

At what point did you start worrying about your boys?
I think with the boys, it’s interesting to see them grow up and all of a sudden being worried.

Every parent worries about what the kid’s going to become. You want them to succeed at what they do. With Cooper, my younger one, he started out being the kid who needed more hands-on because he was not very focused. And all of a sudden he hit high school, we don’t worry about him at all. He goes to school at 6 o’clock in the morning and comes home at 9 o’clock every night. And he’s just tremendously active and proactive in the sense he’s A, B student plus he’s involved in the theatre program. He wanted to play bass about a year and a half ago and just started learning online. Essentially he taught himself how to play. Now he’s in the school jazz band and they’re teaching him how to read music.

Where Beckett is the complete polar opposite. He’s a tremendously talented photographer but doesn’t push forward at all — doesn’t have that thing to every single day stand up and go take a picture.

Did you take photos everyday as a teenager?
I probably didn’t have that till I got to New York and probably my third year of college is when I finally hit it where I was like, Oh! This is something you do every day. Every single day, you wake up and you have to take pictures and to basically answer that question that’s in your head. That is the reason why you would become a photographer. Why is it that one person figures it out while another person doesn’t figure it out? There is no rhyme or reason even though there’s a passion in photography on both ends equally. At my workshops people are looking for me to for the answer, I wish I had the golden ticket. “Look at my book and tell me why I can’t get a job.” I tell them,

“Don’t look at me. I can tell you what I think and what I see in your work and what I don’t see in your work and how you’re presenting it to me, but I’m not the one hiring.”

 

to be continued next week…

 

 

The Daily Promo – Jace Lumley

- - The Daily Promo

Jace Lumley

Who printed it?
The zine was printed by Mixam. I tried a couple of different printers and found Mixam’s quality and price hard to beat.

Who designed it?
I designed it myself. I design all my promos myself. It might be one of my favorite processes outside of photographing.

Tell me about the images?
I made the images for Lululemon’s 2016 Fall/Winter lookbook. We spent three days location scouting and another four days shooting at Trollstigen and inside the city of Oslo, Norway. It was probably one of the best personal and professional experiences I’ve had to date. The team I worked with was an incredibly talented bunch.

How many did you make?
I made a run of 10 to send out to some focused editors I had in mind.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I can’t say I have a set amount per year. If I am feeling stumped creatively, I like to turn to my work to create products like this.

It feeds my creativity and gives me an opportunity to reach out to new and sometimes the same editors I’d love to work with going forward.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
As a former photo editor, I always loved receiving physical promos from photographers. There’s something about holding a promo or any product for that matter, that shows workmanship or lack thereof.

The edits made, the design work, the information gathered, the opportunity to show a point of view, and the trips to the post office; it’s a beautiful process for young photographers like myself.

This Week in Photography Books: Hinda Schuman

 

Have you ever seen “The Godfather Part III?”

Be honest.

Have you ever sat through the whole thing?

I didn’t think so. (I watched it back in the day, but that was a long time ago.)

Well-before Sofia Coppola became known as the director of such films at “The Virgin Suicides,” and the excellent “Lost in Translation,” she appeared as a vastly under-qualified actress, playing a lead role in the final film in her father’s trilogy.

Sometimes, as Americans, I don’t think we grasp the reach of our culture. Our cinematic and television history has impacted kids growing up across the planet.

Take Norway, for instance.

I’m currently binge-watching the brilliant “Lillyhammer” on Netflix, starring all-time great Jersey guy Steven Van Zandt, also known as Little Steven from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and as Silvio throughout the entirety of “The Sopranos.”

Like his buddies Bruce and Jimmy Iovine, he’s become a full-fledge superstar in his own right.

I’ll spare you any further, in case you want to catch up, but there are Sopranos and Godfather references sprinkled throughout, even though the entire production was Norwegian, beyond Mr. Van Zandt. (Who also served as writer and producer.)

But back to my original question.

The reason you have likely NOT watched “The Godfather Part III” is that before the internet, someone mentioned that they heard from their cousin that it was long and terrible. (Or maybe just terrible.)

“The Godfather Parts I and II” are rightfully known as masterpieces of 20th Century Art.

They were as good as the medium of celluloid cinema can get.

So why make Part III?

Sometimes, you’ve got to know when to quit, people. You want to leave the stage while they’re still screaming your name.
(Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce!)

That’s what I came away feeling, having just put down the extremely interesting, and for-the-most-part excellent new “Dear Shirley,” by Hinda Schuman, recently published by Daylight. (Quick shout out: Daylight often makes risky design decisions, and I like that.)

“Dear Shirley” begins with two essays that set the scene, so it doesn’t want you to go in blind, context-wise. I respect the decision to include or elide context, (depending on the book,) but in this case, I appreciate the heads ups by Sunil Gupta and Magdalena Sole.

Part 1, also called “Dear Shirley,” is a masterful project. It’s dynamite, and speaks to us from the front lines of the identity politics wars of the late 70’s and early 80’s, as ethnic, racial and sexual minorities fought to claim space in America.

I know the Pictures Generation taught us to question reality, but the diaristic letters to the off-screen Shirley, (like Vera from Cheers,) seem real to me. And the pictures line up with a narrative of a young, gay, Jewish woman who marries a man in Vermont in 1971.

By 1978, they seem to be experimenting with an open relationship, but really her husband is slowly falling in love with Nancy, and pushing Hinda out.

She finds love with Susan, and their relationship grows, suffers setbacks, and ultimately seems to prevail. We learn this from the many letters in the book, all to Shirley, until they’re not.

There are many nude images, frankly, and I can’t photograph them for you, as we’ve maintained a SFW policy in the column for years. But they’re strong, and I like the inclusion of contact sheets along with the staged portraits and few landscape establishment shots.

It feels real, and I trust it to be real, even though perhaps I should question it.

Part 1 seems to end in 1988. And design-wise, I think use of text-printed vellum, in small see-through blocks, was successful. (If risky.)

My only “but” with this book, if you’re sensing a “but” coming, is that I think Part 2, “A True Story,” is not very good. I get why it’s there, bookending life, but the quality difference between the two series is way too big to ignore.

The former images were technically astute, artistically composed black and white photos, and the accompanying writing was taut in every way.

Every single thing felt necessary.

The color pictures seem to have been shot with a not-very-good digital point and shoot, and the writing evokes bad high school poetry. Colors and compositions are off, and the entire technical competence is called into question.

But then the biographical text at the book’s end made me reevaluate the story, as my certitude that Part 1 was “true” was called into question by the seemingly false narrative of Part 2.

“A True Story” suggests that after a time together, or perhaps after a reunion, Hinda and Susan get a divorce late in life. Their love story ends, and heartbreak is the predominant sentiment.

But that blasted epilogue heavily suggests that the two women are happily married and still deeply in love.

Which is it?

I’m betting that Part 1 is “real,” and Part 2 is “fake,” but I can’t say I’m sure.

Can a book end on a riddle?

Can a book review end with a question?

Bottom Line: A fascinating look at coming out in the 80’s

To purchase “Dear Shirley” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in submissions from female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Fernando Decillis

- - 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 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:   Fernando Decillis

BandoKillers (ongoing project)

“It’s easy to go down rabbit holes on Instagram. I just start looking around and get caught up in a look or an aesthetic or subject. A couple of years ago, I found a hashtag #bandokillers— the images were mostly abandoned buildings, institutions— from all over the world. I have always been a collector of small items and furniture that people discarded. I once made a whole series on strange odds and ends I found at the flea market in Bogotá, Colombia.

After finding the bandokillers hashtag, I started following a few of the people who were going out and shooting in abandoned spaces in Atlanta. There were a couple of guys who were around that were in this world of #bikelife, lowriders, #bandokilles— and this intense, beautiful grit. I reached out and tagged along to car shows and to a couple bandos (abandoned buildings) with them and we just became friends. My #bandokillers project is more about portraits of creative people in these spaces. All of their work has this running theme of making beauty out of the things society discards. And trust me…we discard a lot.

My story is influenced by the subjects of the portraits, and by my friends who gave me a window to this wild world. The work, which I am continually adding to, can be found here: BandoKillers

Instagram accounts/hashtags to follow

@wire_atl

@_sig_

#bandokillers

#bikelife

 

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 @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

The Daily Edit – The Atlantic: Maciek Jasik

- - The Daily Edit

 

The Atlantic


Creative Director:
David Sommerville
Art Director: Paul Spella
Photographer: Maciek Jasik


Heidi: What type of direction did you get from the magazine?

Maciek: The Atlantic wanted an abstract artistic way to show gender dysphoria in youth. So the soft, colorful approach of my ‘A Thousand Souls’ project appealed to them, as well as my ‘Bypassing the Rational’ series of nudes, which I shoot in a way that’s very obscured and indistinct. They also inquired about a double exposure element that could show both genders in the frame, which I was able to do in-camera with two trans youth.

How did you decide casting or are those people mentioned in the story?
I took care of casting by contacting several trans organizations in NYC and other cities. Word got out to the trans community and several people got in touch. I actually shot many people for the shoot, but only a few made it into the final story. I would receive photos, forward them to the magazine, confirm mutual interest and invite them to the studio. None of them were mentioned in the actual story.
Was this done in camera or post?
All the effects you see were performed in-camera. They’re all very lo-fi techniques that I’ve developed over time. I don’t like to get too involved in that conversation, but I will say it involves placing different elements in front of the camera to alter the focus or add color to the image.
Why did you choose those particular colors?
I tend to combine warm and cool colors in all my images to maintain a balance visually. I never plan on any specific colors until I am there, shooting with the person. So it’s generally an intuitive process informed by many years of combining colors and generally knowing what works and what doesn’t.
What direction did you give the subjects during the shoot?
If I don’t need to say anything, I won’t, as it’s often better to just see what the subject will do without having to interfere. For the full-body shot, the magazine had suggested the subject looking down or away and I thought that was a good idea, to make the image less deliberate. Two pairs of people came together, so that made shooting easier, as they were comfortable with each other and we would all chat during the shoot.

This Week in Photography Books: Ira Block

 

In life, the only constant is change.

(If that isn’t a hell of a koan, I don’t know what is.)

Life moves in cycles, as do orbits. The wheel of karma turns, and eventually makes its way back around for everyone.

What was once young becomes old, and then dies.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but most of us avoid contemplating our mortality. Denial works for Climate Change, sure, but also for the slow decline of our mental and physical faculties as we push the boundaries of aging.

Take baseball, for instance,

It was once considered America’s pastime.
Mickey Mantle.
Babe Ruth.
Hank Aaron.
Willie Mays.

These were the most famous guys in the country.

A generation of Baby Boomers grew up idolizing their favorite ball players; rhapsodizing about the mythical Ebbet’s Field in Brooklyn, a Mecca for the fuzzy memories of a generation. (Including my own father.)

Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I followed baseball on par with football and basketball. I liked the before-and-since-putrid New York Mets, who were briefly good, and won the World Series when I was 12.

I stopped watching baseball in earnest about 15 years ago, during the steroid crisis. Something about seeing smug Barry Bonds get away with it, and cynical San Franciscans defending his awful behavior, soured me on the sport.

That was about the time the Mets choked their way out of contention two years in a row under Willie Randolph, and again, they’ve only been good two or three times in 30 years.

Now, it seems the Mets are cursed by the ghost of Bernie Madoff. The team owners, the Wilpons, profited heavily from his schemes, and were forced to pay massive fines that have since crippled their team.

But really, I don’t care about baseball anymore.

And neither do most kids these days, if the think-pieces are to be believed. (Or my own 10 year old, when I asked him.)

The NBA is fast-paced, so kids love basketball, but getting a Gen Z child to watch a full baseball game, over three hours, seems as likely as Donald J Trump magically turning into a gracious, empathetic person.

(“Listen, Pence, honestly, I’m sorry. I feel bad for all those times I called you a Nancy-boy in the locker room. For all those times I tempted you to be in a room alone with a woman who wasn’t your wife. Really, I’m sorry. I apologize wholeheartedly. I was a terrible guy, but I swear I’m a changed man.”)

Baseball has the oldest fan base of the major sports in America, and is currently considering tinkering with the rules to make the game faster.

But can it really compete for attention in a cohort that likes watching video game competitions on Youtube on their phones and Playstations?

Honestly?

Not bloody likely.

What’s that you said? American culture is not the only culture in the world?

Well, that’s true.

You know where they still like baseball, even today? (Other than LA, which is Dodger-crazy?)

Cuba.

Cuba is mad for baseball. And if “Cuba Loves Baseball: A Photographic Journey,” by Ira Bock, is to be believed, baseball is more religion than sport on the big, Caribbean island.
(Published by Skyhorse Publishing)

This one turned up in the mail in April, around opening day, and waited its turn in the book stack. (Patiently, patiently.)

It seemed like the perfect choice today, what with our little theme of books with helpful, evocative titles.

“Cuba Loves Baseball.”

That is clearly what this book is about. Two smart forewards, (one from broadcasting legend Bob Costas,) set the scene for how much Cubans love baseball.

And then the pictures do the rest.

Apparently, Ira Block was a Nat Geo guy for a long time, and you can see it, with his facility working in another culture. (And yes, he was one of those Brooklyn Jewish guys who went to Ebbet’s Field all those years ago.)

Like many of the books I review, this one suffers from too many pictures. There are many gems in here, aesthetically and in mood and tone, including a really excellent set of portraits of older baseball players. (I’ll photograph all of them, so you can see it below.)

But other than being a bit heavy on the edit, I really liked this one. It sets the intention to transmit a sense of love. (It’s in the damn title.)

And I think it succeeds.

There is joy in the subjects of these pictures, but also in their taking. Ira Block states in the epilogue that the project brought him back to his childhood, and I think that shows.

Baseball is alive and well these days. You just have to look a little further South to see it.

Bottom Line: Fun, joyous look at Cuba’s love of baseball

To purchase “Cuba Loves Baseball” click here 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me directly at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in submissions from female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. 

The Art of the Personal Project

- - 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 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:  Kris Davidson

At best, photographs offer a thin slice of truth; a photographic portrait of a person is a fleeting depiction of someone within the relentless rush of time, revealing a mere sliver of who they are. My new art series, tentatively titled American Memory Portraits, considers the curious process of Americanization, a memory-laden journey that unfolds over a lifetime. The collaborative series is comprised of large mixed media/collage portraits of first and second generation Americans with personal images from the subject’s life collaged in, usually into what they are wearing (Klimt’s paintings are an inspiration point for this series). As a whole, the idea is to create a more nuanced illustration of the varied immigrant experience, allowing for deeper glimpses into how cultures collide and cross-pollinate over time in America.

Pictured here, second from left: In-progress piece (45″ x 36″ print) of Miguel. I hired Miguel to be my driver for a story about the Valle de Guadalupe wine region in Mexico (tearsheets below). As he drove me to my locations, his story came out in pieces —  he had been deported from the United States last year, after having lived there for nearly 30 years. He is photographed here on the Tijuana beach with his American-born son a few yards away from where the border fence disappears into the ocean. Miguel’s best friend drives the child down every month from Los Angeles. Miguel only had a few blurry snapshots to share with me — the collage will be comprised of a plaid pattern on his shirt featuring repeated a repeated image of his son and the American mother.

I am actively looking for project participants — if you are a first or second generation American (or if you have a lead) I would love to hear from you!  kris@krisdavidson.com

 

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 @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

The Daily Edit – Bicycling: Ryan Young

- - The Daily Edit


Bicycling

Creative Director: Jesse Southerland
Art Director: Colin McSherry
Photo Director: Amy Wolff
Photo Editor: Kristen Parker
Photographer: Ryan Young

Heidi: What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Ryan: Kristen Parker, photo editor of Bicycling Magazine and Runner’s World, reached out to me about an assignment in Petaluma, CA focused on Alison Tetrick. The direction for this  was fairly loose. I was told that this story would be a full feature and potentially a cover. She referenced a few personal projects on my site and said she wanted me to shoot in a documentary style focusing on portraits, real moments, landscapes, and any other details that I was drawn to. She was very clear that she didn’t want anything set up and or overly lit. Runner’s World and Bicycling Magazine have recently undergone a pretty dramatic change in their visual direction they’re looking for authenticity and are embracing real athletes, grit, and sweat. After the call with Kristen, I came away feeling very excited. There was no shot list or anything specific to execute. It was truly a dream opportunity.

Did you have a full draft of the article prior to shooting?
Fortunately, I was sent quite a bit of information on Alison prior to the shoot. Kristen sent me a rough draft of the story they had written which covered everything from her introduction into cycling to her comeback after a pair of horrible head injuries. Researching and learning about a subject before a shoot is just as important as charging camera batteries. When shooting an athlete I like to have a full understanding of where they’re at in their careers and life in general. Are they injured? Are they training? What’re they working towards?

Were you aware of her Dirty Kanza gravel win that put her on the map in this sport?
Honestly, I wasn’t aware prior to reading the rough draft and doing further research an Alison. I like to ride occasionally, but I’m a bit of a noob when it comes to the world of cycling. I loved that part of her story though!

Tell us about the spread image.
Given everything Alison had been through mentally and physically with the bike crashes and the traumatic brain injuries, I wanted to create images that expressed uncertainty and isolation. I wanted to play with focus and obscure a few portraits at some point in the shoot. As we were leaving her house she leaned up against a wall on her back porch and had a quiet moment to herself. I asked her to hang tight in the same pose so I could take a few photos through a screen door. I was excited to receive the final image order and have that as one of the selects. It felt very appropriate for the story.

Did you plan out that cover shot or was that pulled from the edit?
The cover shot was pulled from the edit. On our call, Kristen specified: “Don’t shoot for the cover.” I typically like to shoot as many options as possible within the given timeframe. For this assignment, I was blessed with 6 hours with Alison. I shot everything from wide environmental to tighter portraits and had more than enough to work with by the end of the day. Once I had a few options I felt could work for a cover, I began experimenting more with focus and shutter speed. It was very liberating to go out and react to a new subject and location without having to obsess over a specific execution. That’s pretty rare, especially for a cover shoot.

How did the shoot day unfold?
This shoot was a true collaboration between Alison and I. Prior to the ride, we had a phone call and went over different routes, aiming for what we felt would give us the most visual range. Alison suggested a route that offered us rolling hills, tall redwoods, and a vantage point overlooking the ocean a trifecta for the location scout. As expected, she was quite the trooper and ended up spending 6 hours working with my assistant and me.

How did this project inspire you?
I’ve been skateboarding since I was in middle school. I’ve suffered a string of injuries ranging from head to toe. Earlier this year, I underwent shoulder surgery. It’s as much of a mental battle as it is a physical one to push yourself after getting hurt. For me, having a chance to work on a comeback story involving an athlete was a dream assignment. I’m constantly searching for stories like Alison’s to pitch to magazines, so being approached by Kristen and the folks at Bicycling Magazine was beyond exciting. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her ups and downs as she battled her way back onto the bike and life in general.

 

 

 

 

This Week in Photography Books: Tara Wray

 

I saw the greatest Kung Fu movie the other day.

New stuff.
Nothing vintage.

Netflix had been nudging me to watch “The Bodyguard” for a long time, as Chinese action movies are strong in my personal algorithm. (I don’t know why I resisted.)

Oh, sweet algorithm.
You know me so well.

“The Bodyguard” not only features living legend Sammo Hung, but it was the first film he directed since the seminal “Once Upon a Time in China and America.” (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

Sammo plays a fat, old, retired super agent, but his weight is not his biggest problem. Unfortunately, Sammo’s character, Old Ding, is suffering from serious dementia.

Like, so-bad-he-lost-his-own-granddaughter level dementia. (And they never found her, setting up his tragic backstory, some of which was unspooled in a short, wonderful, animated sequence.)

What’s that?
Have I ever seen a fat, old, senile action hero before?

No.
I have not.

I mention all of this because the final battle scene takes place between Sammo and three massive, nasty-looking, fully-tatted-up Russian gangsters, presumably trained in Sambo and jail-fighting.

One had a knife as big as a sword, and in fairness, Sammo did take them on one at a time, but then he (SPOILER ALERT) kicked each of their asses and killed them individually.

I mention this here because last night night, after dinner, I was telling my son about all this, and how cool it was that Sammo beat up three Russian bad guys. (An old guy! Who knew?)

Theo looked at me like I had a fork sticking out of my ear.

“It was in the movie, right? I mean, it was staged.”

Then my wife piped up, trying to save me embarrassment.
“I think he means the choreography was really good, honey. He knows it wasn’t real.”

I tried to defend myself.
“I know it wasn’t real. I just mean… it’s cool to see… I… Sammo Hung…”

And then I walked away with my tail between my legs.

But you guys know what I mean, right? Action heroes are powerful symbols for mass culture, and this underdog, woebegone loser, Old Ding, comes along and stands up for the little guy against those evil, psychopathic Russians.

Not only was this film unique in its choice of hero, and super-well-built with its choreography, but it also featured, out of nowhere, an all time great song right in the middle: “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,” by Bill Withers.

Such.
A.
Great.
Song.

Shit like that is what made America great to begin with. (Funny aside, in the hotel in LA last week, I saw a guy in a red MAGA hat. Seemed odd on the West side of LA. I approached and saw that it had a yellow “not” sewed on it, this not 3 days after the fiasco. Someone got to work quickly on that one.)

Where was I?

Right.
“Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.”

People move to New Mexico and California for the sunshine. It’s addictive, that Vitamin D, as is the requisite blue sky. (Yellow and blue being a power combination in color theory.)

So I was intrigued to open “Too Tired for Sunshine,” a new book by Tara Wray, published by Yoffy Press in Atlanta. I never know when I’m going to go off on a little sub-theme in this column, but this is now two books in a row where I gave serious thought to a book’s innards, once I read the title.

Normally, titles are afterthoughts, if we’re being honest.

But this one is so damn poetic, and visual. (The opening essay confirms Ms. Wray is also a writer.)

Too tired for sunshine.
Why?
Are you depressed?
Or just world-weary?

Have you succumbed to a deep, French ennui?

Or have you sucked so much juice from life that you need to stay in bed, despite the great weather, because you need to rest up for the next onslaught of creativity?

I admit, the earlier reads make more sense, based on gut feeling, but when you look at these pictures, you realize it’s both.

We see dark reality, the kind that often kills off naiveté: chopped up animals, an actual bloody heart, more blood on snow, a blood-red eyeball.

But beyond that, most of the book has a witty wonder that is lots of fun.

The warm, glowing light on an Adams apple. Two donkeys facing one way, and the third in the opposite direction. A grandma in colored curlers, followed by flowers in the same color palette. And lots and lots of silly dogs.

At first, I took exception to an image that turned up, blurry, with conventional light trails.

1. I hate light trails.
2. It had no business being in the edit, as it was then constructed.

(Can you believe I debuted the listicle last week, and then came right back to it?)

But then, later on, there were other such images inserted for balance. So even my one nit-picky quibble was put to bed before the end of the book. (Though I still hate light trails.)

There is serious joie de vivre in this book. It’s perfect for today, because my half-dead brain was not getting woken up by any half-ass book today, and this one goes all they way.

Bottom Line: Funny, poignant, POV on life in general

To Purchase “Too Tired for Sunshine,” click here 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in submissions from female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Paul Ernest

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 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:  Paul Ernst

Claimed as the 21st century Norman Rockwell, Paul Ernest’s photographic work has been received as a soulful interpretation of timelessness in today’s evolving informational and technological culture . Using the camera and his appreciation for American Realism, Paul has developed a style he calls Mise En Scene Realism. His focus on composition and lighting are primarily drawn from painters such as Wyeth, Rockwell and Johnson but with an influence from his former career as a Creative Director and designer. “We are a people of storytelling , parables and fables. Our perception of the aesthetics in life are absorbed and interpreted in a way that is no different from any style or technique that have ever been in existence. We learn from stories and the adoption of them into our way of thinking and living.”

Since 2011 Paul’s work has earned him awards from WPPI and PPA, including Diamond Photographer of the Year in 2012 and 2015 and earning his Craftsman and Master Degree. Paul’s work has been accepted in galleries such as Craighead Green and premiere arts festival throughout the state of Texas. His commissioned work hangs in restaurants, hotels and private collections including the lobby of his alma mater where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts. He also has developed his style into a line of home interior products sold nationally.

Paul’s passion for education and continued growth in himself and others is evident in his teaching and mentoring which he does in his home state as well as across the U.S. He lives just outside of Dallas, Texas with his wife and children.

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.

#DiversifyTheLens: Why Your Brand Should Hire More Female Photographers

- - Working

Guest post by Amy Cooper, Owner and Artist Representative at Trove Artist Management

The current boom of female-first initiatives is transforming the creative industry, providing opportunities for women to find mentorship, addressing discrepancies in pay, and helping women rally together to drive new policies and practices. Actions such as the 3 Percent Movement50/50 Initiative and #TimesUpAdvertising have thrust these issues into the spotlight and gained significant attention and traction.

But we can do more.

Women photographers are still grossly underrepresented when it comes time to hire for big advertising campaigns and magazine covers, despite the fact that women account for:

·  roughly 50% of photographers and advertising industry workers

·  80% of art and photography school graduates

·  the majority of art buyers and photo editors

One report indicates that male photographers account for as high as 96% of advertising photographers. With a quick glance at the top photography representation agencies in the U.S., it’s clear that women comprise only about 10% of those agency rosters.

A Call to Action

“This movement is a specific request for advertising agencies to include at least one female photographer in each triple-bid.”

There is a huge population of highly talented, underutilized female photographers who are ready to put their unique vision to work. It’s time we create policies at both the brand and agency level to ensure they are given the opportunity to do so.

Introducing #DiversifyTheLens.

This movement is a specific request for agencies and other media to include at least one female photographer in each “triple-bid,” or make female (and non-white) options at least 50% of the consideration when selecting image-makers.

Doing so will not only help level the very uneven playing field for women photographers, but it will also benefit business across the board.

Female Photographers Click with Female Consumers

“…with the unprecedented rate at which women are amassing wealth and influence, it’s almost insane from a business perspective to misunderstand them.” – 3 Percent Movementmission

Women influence more than 80% of consumer spending, but more than 90% of women feel that advertisers do not understand them. To reach and influence the female consumer, advertising imagery has to portray them authentically, reflecting their motivations and needs. Female photographers have a unique ability to do this, and not including their perspective, especially in the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, is not only a missed opportunity, but a massive business (and cultural) failure.

A Cultural Shift

Getting more women photographers working requires effort on the part of both the creative talent themselves, and those with the power to hire them. Typically, female photographers are less aggressive in marketing themselves and seeking representation than their male counterparts. This is something I am actively working to change through Trove Artist Management’s programs and my personal consulting practice, helping women learn to stand taller, pursue opportunity and promote themselves more confidently.

In the meantime, I encourage those of you with the hiring power to help facilitate this shift by searching harder to fill more of the gaps in the photo industry, advertising industry and the professional world at large with talented, hardworking women–and pay them what they’re worth.

“I want to further amplify this message by asking celebrities, fashion designers and influencers to specifically ask for diversity in photography when they are being featured or creating campaigns.”

My hope is that other photographers, creative directors, art buyers and editors will join this movement to ensure that more campaigns truly #DiversifyTheLens. I want to further amplify this message by asking celebrities, fashion designers and influencers to specifically ask for diversity in photography when they are being featured or creating campaigns.

My goal is that we all share this challenge widely so that more female photographers can be recognized and rewarded for their talent, which will benefit us all.

Together, we can make a difference.

Helpful Tools and Resources

To help you find the talent you need and spread the #DiverifyTheLens mission, I’ve compiled the below resources:

·     A list of my favorite female photographers

·     Alreadymade, a directory of established commercial photographers curated by Jill Greenberg

·    GirlGaze an organization dedicated to closing the gender gap, founded by Amanda de Cadenet.

·    Women Photograph a listing of female photojournalists

·    #DiversifyTheLens Ambassador materials, including a guide to disrupt the underrepresentation of women in photography and downloadable campaign photos.

This list will be continually updated as I find and develop additional resources for women in the creative field. Please bookmark this link and share to help us build our database.

Have a resource of your own? Let me know about it!

Join the Movement

Hiring more female photographers and having their perspective fairly represented will not only benefit photographers, but the entire creative industry, the global economy and women everywhere. To take it a step further, I believe that the creative vision of women in the marketplace will help us understand women, and each other, better and connect us in a way that is sorely lacking and needed today.

If we work together, it can happen.

By sharing this article, spreading the #DiversifyTheLens mission and seeking out more female talent for your own agency or projects, you can help shift the creative culture.

Thank you.

Sign on to join the mission to #DiversifyTheLens and we will send you an ambassador guide as well as occasional updates.

Written by Trove Artist Management founder Amy V. Cooper in collaboration with Mary MaguireErica Boynton, and Jennie Trower. Special thanks to Cindy Villanueva.

The Daily Edit – ESPN the Magazine: The Body Issue with Karen Frank

- - The Daily Edit

Saquon Barkley photographed by Sophy Holland

Breanna Stewart  photographed by Marcus Eriksson

Lauren Chamberlain  photographed by Hana Asano

Adam Rippon photographed by Mark Seliger

Jerry Rice  photographed by Carlos Serrao

Crystal Dunn  photographed by Marcus Smith

Zlatan Ibrahimovic  photographed by Peter Hapak

Yasiel Puig  photographed by Peggy Sirota

Karl Anthony Towns  photographed by Martin Schoeller

Sue Bird + Megan Rapinoe photographed by Radka Leitmeritz

ESPN The Magazine: The Body Issue

Creative Director: Chin Wang
Director of Photography, Print + Digital: Tim Rasmussen
Director of Photography, ESPN The Magazine: Karen Frank
Deputy Photo Editors: Kristen Geisler, Jim Surber
Senior Photo Editors: Nick Galac
Photo Editor: Kaitlin Marron
Associate Art Director: Linda Pouder

Heidi: This is a moment the industry looks forward too, how long does this issue take to plan?
Karen: The Body Issue is almost a year-round project. Discussions about athletes begin happening almost immediately after the issue closes in June.  However, assigning and shooting typically start in January, so you could say it’s about six months of serious production.

Was it a conscious choice to have 5 men / 5 women for the cover?
Since the beginning we’ve had multiple covers for the issue.  In past years, we’ve had as many as 9 covers and we joked at the beginning of the year that we’d do 10 for 10.  We actually never have a set number of covers for the issue, so we approach every shoot as if it could be a cover.  At the end of shooting, we take a look at what we have and propose any images we feel strongly about as potential covers.  The fact that it came down to an almost even number of men and women (6 men, 5 women) was a really nice coincidence.

Seeing that it’s the 10th year of your annual body issue, what did you learn about the process this year?
This is the 10th year, and we wanted to mark the milestone in a special way.  Several weeks before the issue went live, we released our newly designed Body Issue Archive, a comprehensive collection of every shoot we’ve done since 2009.  For that project, we spent time going back through all the shoots, searching for images we may have overlooked in our initial edits.  Many new, never-before-seen-images are included.  The site has a fantastic search engine; you can search by year, by sport, by name, and see everything here

We also launched a premium digital Body 2018 experience Going back through all the years of Body was a great exercise.  I could see how the photography had evolved from the beginning, where the shoots were much more static and carefully posed, to the place where we are now creating very active and dynamic images

How did you decide what image was environmental and what was studio?
Once we know which athletes have signed on to shoot Body, we do a lot of research about who they are and their particular sport and we begin to imagine how and where we’d like to photograph them.  When we have the photographer assigned to the shoot, we present them with the information we’ve gathered and get their feedback and their ideas about how they’d like to approach the shoot.  For a lot of the shoots, we are able to shoot options that are both studio AND environmental.  That was true this year with our shoots of Jessie Diggins, Jerry Rice, Lauren Chamberlain, and Megan Rapinoe + Sue Bird.

How many different photographers were involved in this issue for the series?
We had just come off a year (2017 issue) where we had, for the first time, made a conscious decision to hire a different photographer for every shoot.  Many of those photographers were new to the Body issue.  In past years, we’d assigned a wide roster of photographers, but several photographers would shoot 2, or sometimes 3 athletes per issue.  We loved the energy that hiring new photographers who had different and diverse approaches to shooting Body brought to the portfolio.  We wanted to continue that for our 2018 issue but also, knowing that this was an anniversary issue, we wanted to include some of the photographers who had created so many iconic images for the issue over the years.  We ended up with a roster of 6 photographers new to the project: Hana Asano, Kurt Iswarienko, Nick Laham, Radka Leitmeritz, Dina Litovsky, and Dana Scruggs; and 9 photographers who had previously shot for Body: Kwaku Alston, Marcus Eriksson, Peter Hapak, Sophy Holland, Martin Schoeller, Mark Seliger, Carlos Serrao, Peggy Sirota, and Marcus Smith.