This Week in Photography Books: Tod Seelie

- - Photography Books

 

Last week, I told my parents to fuck off on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
(Metaphorically, not literally.)

It was not my proudest moment, and I admit it looks bad upon the surface.

But there was more to it than all that, and it just so happened I reached my breaking point on a ceremonially important day.

C’est la vie.

We can’t control the way life plays out, and normally the most we can control is our own reaction to the hand we’re dealt. (Even then, it can be difficult.)

I never planned to have a weekly column here at APE for the last seven years, but that’s what’s transpired. I’ve been reviewing photobooks, and sharing my life story with you guys each week since I was 37 years old. (Back when I had a wife, a mortgage, and a toddler in the eye-teeth of the Great Recession.)

Yes, folks, we’ve made it to the anniversary column, as it all began in mid-September of 2011.

Now I’m 44, and I’ve got a wife, two kids, (6 and almost 11,) a refinanced mortgage, two car payments, a new photo retreat, and a global platform here, at the New York Times, and through my artwork, which has been seen by many.

Though I keep banging away at the keyboard, the person doing the tapping is essentially different from the guy who began here seven years ago.

All my cells have turned over, as have yours. (If you’ve been reading the entire time: a group that likely includes Rob, my wife, and the father I just pissed off at the beginning of this column.)

One way I know I’m different is that things that used to bother me, or make me insecure, no longer do.

As I grew up relatively-suburban-normal, by the time I embraced my inner artist/party-guy/cool kid, I never thought I was part of the most-in-crowd.

Even when I moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn to go to Pratt in 2002, and had an underground gallery called BQE33 in my apartment, (along with the requisite hipster late-night-jammers,) I still thought the real players in the art world were well-protected by a velvet rope I would never cross.

Rich Kids.
Yalies.
Aristocrats.
And of course the “Beautiful Losers.”

I shared my story of Ryan McGinley-envy here in a column years ago, and won’t dredge it up again. (I probably re-mentioned it while critiquing Mike Brodie a few years later.)

Rest assured, no matter how cool I thought I was over the years, that type of artist, (or crowd,) definitely brought out my insecurities.

Nowadays, as grounded as I’ve ever been, that stuff simply doesn’t rattle me anymore.

Not one bit.

I see cool in a different way. It’s being truly comfortable in your skin, owning who you are, and treating everyone with respect until they prove they don’t deserve it.

Hell, just yesterday, I was watching “The Great Escape” for the first time. You’ve got to disqualify James Coburn and Charles Bronson, for the ridiculous accents they were forced to adopt, but DAMN, James Garner and Steve McQueen were so goddamn cool I almost became a bi-sexual.

Afterwards, I hit up Wikipedia and learned that McQueen had been in juvie, street gangs, the military, and military jail. And that he was in the saddle for those amazing motorcycle scenes.

Garner too had fought for his country, and been wounded, so both guys radiated their inner confidence onscreen, and it impressed me well after they’d passed away. (Reading they were both lifelong stoners was a pleasant surprise as well.)

Where does this all leave us?
Will I ever get to the book review?

Of course.
Glad you asked.

Today, I’m breaking with our pattern of male/female to show a book that is bang-on perfect for my musings, and also because the review is painfully late.

I normally keep proper track of my book stack, and get to everything within an appropriate amount of time, but somehow I lost Tod Seelie’s excellent “Bright Nights: Photographs of Another New York,” by Prestel, that he sent me back in January. (Apologies, Tod.)

My mistake was everyone’s gain, though, as this book fits squarely in the sweet spot of things I crave for a review. It gives us an insider’s view into several, (not just one,) subcultures we would not otherwise access, it’s extremely well done, and also represents a time and place in a seminal way.

(Add in the fact that I’ve probably reviewed more photobooks about NYC than any other subject, and you hit the trifecta.)

Coincidentally, given that I wrote about my time at Pratt last week, (before I found this book,) apparently Tod and his artist/hipster buddies were at Pratt the same time I was, in the early days of the new millennium.

I’m guessing they were young undergrads, and I was already a serious, near-30-something graduate student with a live-in girlfriend, but still. Same school. Same Brooklyn. Same overall life goal. (Become a successful artist, I’m guessing.)

As the photos in this book imply, (and the copious essays by art-world-insiders back up,) Tod Seelie and his friends are in the biggest museum collections. A band that existed at my own art school, Japanther, (of which I still hadn’t heard until today,) apparently was in a Whitney Biennial, the mother of all insider blessings.

And as I looked at these excellent, cool photographs, I didn’t feel jealous. Or unworthy.

No single dose of envy popped up.

The very kids who used to drive me crazy, who got the acclaim the young-me craved so badly, and all I could think was, “Great book.”

I admit, the Gen-X’er in me did roll my eyes at the requisite hot naked chicks, (as always, Boobs Sell Books,) but beyond that, I found it comprehensive and joyous.

These art-school kids, and bike-riding kids, and music-playing kids, all had a shit-ton of fun during the 11 or so years these pictures were made. (They seem to stop in 2012, around Hurricane Sandy.)

Tod Seelie sent me this book at the turn of 2018, and but it didn’t register in the moment. I’m glad it waited until today, because last week’s closing wish was that you get out there and have some fun this September.

I know there are a lot of you facing serious storm issues, so you have my very best wishes, (New Yorkers included,) but I’ll end today by suggesting that we all have growing left to do, no matter how old we are.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

Bottom Line: Awesome, comprehensive look at the Beautiful Losers

To purchase “Bright Nights,” 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 books by female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Eric Espino

- - 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:  Eric Espino

Artist Statement: “La Bodega” – The lost soul of a neighborhood

Around NYC we have noticed more and more Hispanic “bodega” markets disappearing, one of the major aspects making up the diversity within the 5 boroughs. Every bodega is a major key in Hispanic or urban area neighborhoods catering to the needs of the poor and working class. It is a major staple within the Hispanic culture that is, unfortunately, being driven out due to the “New” New York gentrification conditions and standards we have experienced over the last 10-15 years or so.

Our homes and neighborhoods are changing and are no longer affordable. Bodegas have always been the place to go to for the last minute ingredients to your home-cooked meal- to be the place where you always receive a warm welcome- to always having a place to be around the people you’re most connected to; no matter the color, race or religion, but most of all a place we all knew as “La Bodega”.

This was my home. We are the face of a born and raised NYC culture that will never be forgotten. – La Bodega

 

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: Testimonial Video for Camera Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Video interview of a photographer and a retoucher

Licensing: Web Collateral use in perpetuity

Photographer: Portrait and fashion specialist

Client: Photographic equipment and software company

Here is the estimate:

image of the photographic estimate for a video interview of a photographer and retoucher

Director/Talent Fee: In addition to a successful career in commercial photography, the photographer was well known in the education community, and was a brand ambassador for a handful of equipment manufacturers. One of the companies he frequently collaborated with was designing a website for a new product and wanted to feature a video of the photographer and his retoucher talking about the product on the landing page. The photographer would direct the video, and would also be the on-camera talent along with his retoucher. The fee needed to take into account the photographer’s directorial input, along with a fee for them to use his likeness, as well as a usage fee. I started at $3,000 for a director fee and added $2,000 to account for both the licensing and the usage of his likeness. I had wanted to add a bit more to the licensing/talent fee, however, based on other similar projects the photographer had worked on, and his relationship with this brand, I felt that $5,000 would likely be the maximum fee palatable for this client.

Retoucher Talent Fee, Travel Days and Travel Expenses: In addition to a talent fee of $1,000 (which the photographer knew would be acceptable to his retoucher, and not far off from what we’d expect to pay as a “real people” talent rate), we included two travel days since the retoucher was based in a different city and would need to travel in for the project. Airfare, lodging, and car rental expenses were based on research, and I included $75/day for meals while traveling.

Studio Rental: The photographer owned his own studio, and we charged a modest rate for its use.

DP/Videographer: While the photographer was certainly capable of shooting this kind of project, he’d be the on-camera talent, and couldn’t do both at the same time. We included this fee to bring on another person to film the testimonial. This person, along with the help of his assistant would also help capture audio.

Grip/Assistant: We included an assistant to lend a hand on set with equipment, audio, and other miscellaneous tasks.

Equipment: The photographer owned all the gear needed for the project, and we charged appropriately for its use.

Meals, Production Supplies, Misc.: I include $50/person for meals, plus $100 for misc. unforeseen expenses that might arise.

Video Editing: We knew that the client wanted two separate videos, each twenty seconds in length. Other than length, the exact parameters were vague at the time of estimating so we erred on the side of caution and included $2,000 to cover 2 days of the photographer’s and retoucher’s time to collaborate on the edit together.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.

Hindsight: Given how quickly the project was awarded, I do wonder if we could have aimed a bit higher on either the fees or overall bottom line.

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 and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

The Daily Edit – The Sunday Times Magazine (London) : Joe Pugliese

- - The Daily Edit

The Sunday Times Magazine (London)

Picture Editor: Russ O’Connell
Photographer: Joe Pugliese

Heidi: Do you shoot and talk more often than not?
As I get further into my career my process has become more relaxed and personal. I like to connect with the subject through conversation before we start shooting, regardless of time constraints. I also like to read the mood and make sure I’m not pushing for something that the subject might not be feeling. It’s incremental, I start with safe and low impact setups and move into the looks that require more participation from the subject once I feel like we’re in a groove.

What did you talk about on set?
Since I knew that the piece was going to focus on his residency in LA as a jazz pianist, I asked him about what kind of music he likes to listen to (in general and during photo shoots) – of course he had a great suggestion and it was played on repeat, at his request. Then he and I had an amusing conversation about my name in which he proceeded to pronounce it with varying intonations as I photographed him. It was funny but not goofy, and he offered a lot of different gestures and expressions as he did that. I felt it was a way into him feeling comfortable enough to be slightly but not overly performative.

What was it about your name that amused him?
I think he enjoyed riffing on the idea of it being pronounced so many different ways. He slipped into that suave persona of his and almost sang the name over and over. I didn’t direct him much as he did this, I could tell it may have been a method for him to loosen up and get into giving me such expressive moments (especially with his hands)

I would imagine each session teaches you something different, what did you learn or take note of on this one.
I learn something about myself each time, each shoot is like a sign post marking a moment of my career- so I pay attention to things like how anxious or relaxed I am going into the shoot, how my expectations match the client’s, as well as the subjects’ expectations, and how I manage to satisfy all of those demands with the imagery. For some reason I was extremely comfortable with this shoot, despite it being a new client and a subject I had never met. I trusted that the magazine wanted me to have creative freedom and I thought that Jeff would play along, which he did. My takeaway was that despite my comfort level being perhaps higher than normal, I still had to approach the shoot with empathy and respect for the subject- because I just didn’t know if he would be willing to participate on the day. The plan is always to read the subject’s mood and react accordingly. It’s the only way to truly record what the sitter is giving the photographer.

When you say you read a person what is your shortlist of lets say three to five cues.
First and foremost, a willingness to be present and collaborative. This can be read as, are they rushed? Do they not feel the need to introduce themselves or be introduced? Are they not interested in conversation? If so, it’s not really a problem, it’s my job to react to that in a positive way and lean into being a director, making it easy for the person to understand what it is I’m looking to achieve. I first really learned this when I photographed Steve Jobs. I tried to have a very brief conversation and he just looked right in my eyes and said, “What would you like me to do?” I showed him the three looks I had set up and walked him from position to position. He did everything I asked and was on his way in a few minutes, and I was able to record his intensity in the images because of how he presented himself to me.

When I do get the feeling that someone is nervous, excited, or both, I try to describe to them what I’d like to accomplish on the shoot so they don’t feel like I’m surprising or tricking them. Trust is everything and there are some quick ways to show a subject that you can be trusted that really help the dynamic.

How did you prepare for this assignment?
For this shoot, being that Mr. Goldblum has enjoyed a long and storied career, I specifically did not do any image research on him. I generally don’t do any research on subjects that I already have an idea how they look, mostly to avoid being trapped in a visual reference created by someone else. Since my background is in photojournalism, I want to bring that reactive and responsive approach to portraiture. It helps me to be more open to understanding the personality of the subject if I haven’t seen too much imagery of them already.

Are you switching cameras and /shooting film and digital?
I shoot with medium format digital cameras for the studio looks, which are slower and more deliberate than my 35mm cameras. If the pace of the shoot outmatches the medium format, I always have a 35mm camera ready to go for some of the reportage-style images I like to get. The smaller format is also a nice way to change up the energy if things are feeling static. It’s nice to burn through a bunch of frames with 35mm and then go back to the more thoughtful pace of the big portrait camera.

The Daily Promo – Allison Michael Orenstein

- - The Daily Promo

Allison Michael Orenstein

Who printed it?
Smartpress

Who designed it?
Weston Bingham, an amazing Creative Director I met while shooting multiple assignments for his visionary East Village Boys project. We also worked together for a Knoll campaign. I regularly consult with Nancy Jo Iacoi for image selection. Collaborating and bringing in experts in design and editing are important to my promo process.

Our inspiration for the volumes are catalogs from photography exhibitions.

Tell me about the images?
This second volume 02:Fame focuses on my celebrity work. The majority of photographs were shot for various editorial clients. The different volumes are to showcase my ability to capture real moments with any subject from performers to celebrities to real people.

How many did you make?
600

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is the 2nd round of promos I’ve sent this year. The first volume 01:Mixtape launched in February. (And 03 is in the making!)

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes definitely. It’s important to promote from every angle. Printed work gives clients the tactile experience of holding a photograph in their hands, turning pages, seeing the images come alive in print. And it’s easy for them to pin up and remember me for the right project!

And…. from 01:Mixtape I signed with my agent Jennifer Hutz. We are launching early September jenniferhutz.com

This Week in Photography Books: Ron Koeberer

 

I almost cut off my thumb in 2001.

It’s true.

I was making dinner for my girlfriend, and almost sliced it off on the jagged-lid of a Muir Glen tomato can. (Sorry for putting that visual in your head.)

After the blood spurted on the wall, and after I called my landlord who told me to go to the hospital, and after I almost got driven across the city by a couple of drunk-guys, luckily, Jessie got home and drove me the half-mile to the closest ER.

It’s 2018 now, and I’m only just getting my range of motion back in my hand, after the surgery.

Most of us know it’s the difficult times in life that make us better and stronger. We grow though challenges, even though most people will go pretty far out of their way to take the easy route.

(Go with me here.)

I never, ever would have chosen to almost cut off my thumb. But doing so meant that I had to defer graduate school a year, and move to NYC in the summer of 2002. (Rather than July 2001, if you catch my drift. 9/11.)

Not only that, but Jessie told me she wasn’t ready to move in 2001, (even though she’d previously agreed to go if I got into art school,) so had I not sliced through my thumb-flesh, I would have been forced to choose between my education and my girlfriend. (Now wife.)

Instead, we both stayed on in San Francisco another year, and then went East to get bitch-slapped by Gotham City for three years. (Again, growth through difficulty.)

In retrospect, from the vantage point of a 44 year old with two kids and a mortgage, those years when Jessie and I were in our 20’s, carefree, partying late into the right, relaxing on beautiful beaches each weekend… it seems pretty quaint.

We used to drive around the Bay Area all the time, and one favorite spot in particular was Guerneville, on the Russian River.

Everyone has a favorite California spot, (or two, or three,) but Western Sonoma County was always high on my list. Green hills in winter, golden colored in summer, with the winding Russian River valley cut with vineyards.

I haven’t been there in ages, but I’m pretty sure it’s the kind of place that was a raging inferno this summer, due to wildfires.

Or was it last summer? Or next summer?

Dealing with mega-fires will obviously become the new normal out in the Golden State, but people will continue to move there because the economy offers opportunity, the nature and culture are world-class, and the weather is impossible to beat.

The California lifestyle is as good as it gets, (minus traffic and pollution,) if you can afford it.

Today’s book embodies that glossy, shiny California dream almost perfectly. And it allows me to get out of my comfort zone, (something I’m always preaching about,) by showing the kind of book I rarely review.

Almost always, I review fine art and documentary photography books by established publishers.

Almost always.

Sometimes, I review self-published publications that look like they were made by established publishers.

But rarely, almost never, do I review self-published photo books that look like something my uncle made to give to his stock-broker clients as a present at Christmas. (Sorry, Uncle Keith. Hate to through you under the bus.)

Rarely, but not never.

When we became a submission-based column a couple of years ago, I was essentially agreeing to look at what you send me, and write from this selection. (Of course PR agents do offer me books, and I can’t write about everything.)

But I felt it meant I needed to be willing to write about things that didn’t fit my normal set of expectations.

Like “View from a Bridge, photography by Ron Koeberer: The Russian River, Monte Rio, California, USA.”

Ron tucked a letter into the front cover, so I read it first, in lieu of any statement or foreword. Apparently, he’s a commercial photographer who shoots for film, tv and stock. The book is a collection of images from a personal project he does for fun.

The colors and flattening of the picture plane scream hyper-digital, and some of the crops made the photo professor in me want to stick cocktail toothpicks into my eye-sockets.

But I kept turning the pages.

I won’t keep you in suspense here, nor will I make poor Ron think that I’ve chosen to review his book only to be snarky and ironic.

I like this book.
It’s fun.

And that’s the one part of the art-making process that should be absolutely necessary, on some level at least, but that often gets lost in our sense of mission, or journalism, or commercial profiteering.

Making art, whether you’re cooking, knitting, drawing, taking pictures, making videos, or songs, should be an inherently creative, positive experience for the maker.

Hell, even people who dredge up their worst bits for their work still benefit, because we feel better once the basement is clean of those nasty cobwebs.

I wanted to show this book today because this column is a part of my art-making process. You guys know I’ll show up here each week, each year, and that I’m trying to stay sharp for you. (If this place gets boring, there won’t be a place.)

You dig?

So today, one week after I froze you out with some winter hunting, let’s use Ron Koeberer’s book inspire us all to get out there this month, while the weather is good EVERYWHERE, and enjoy ourselves.

Bottom Line: Cool, fun, personal project about the California good life

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We currently have a several month backlog, and are particularly interested in submissions from female photographers. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Mike Smolowe

- - 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:  Mike Smolowe

My name is Mike Smolowe and I am a commercial lifestyle photographer in Los Angeles.  I have always been drawn to animals and even went to school to be a vet in a past life.  I am a people photographer by trade, but after having my eyes opened to the incredible number of dogs being euthanized in shelters daily, I knew I had to get out of my comfort zone and do what I could as a photographer to help.

A little over a year ago I began a project photographing homeless dogs in shelters and rescues agencies across Los Angeles and posting them on an Instagram account along with their name, breed, and personality traits( @rescuesoflosangeles).   Approximately 3,287 dogs are euthanized in the United States each day due to minimal space in shelters and a lack of outward-facing advocacy for adoptable pets to the public.  The goal of Rescues of Los Angeles is to get these unfortunate pups a better chance at being seen and adopted.

Sometimes it’s hard to see a dog’s true personality through the cage in a loud, scary shelter environment.  By photographing each adoptable dog intimately, I want to help give them a chance to show off who they really are.  A goofy smile, droopy ear or sparkle in the eye of a happy dog may not be so obvious behind the bars of a cage surrounded by other barking dogs. This project started as a way to help show off the good side of those without a voice of their own.  Working with local shelters, fosters, and advocates,  we photograph as many pooches as possible and hope to get the word(and photos) out there that shelter pets are just as loving, entertaining, and beautiful as animals from anywhere else.

Please follow us!

@rescuesoflosangeles

www.rescuesoflosangeles.com

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 Promo – KC McGinnis

- - The Daily Promo

KC McGinnis

Who printed it?
Smartpress, in Minneapolis.

Who designed it?
Peter Dennen helped me come up with the edit, and Kallen Hawkinson in Portland, Oregon designed the back.

Tell me about the images?
These images are from a range of editorial assignments and personal projects I shot over the last year or so. While I would like for my next promo to be based around a single shoot or story, for this one I wanted to put together something memorable with a consistent style. Spiderman came out of a Comic-Con shoot for a local paper, and the hairdryer guy is from a Christian metal festival I photographed last summer. The TV is from the waiting room of a tiny Carmelite monastery I was photographing here in Iowa, where I’m based.

How many did you make?
100. I sent about 75 to agencies and the rest to current and prospective assignment editors.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I’d like to be sending out three or four a year, in conjunction with an email newsletter.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I do, but I don’t expect any work to come my way just because I sent a promo. I think print, email, phone calls, and in-person networking are all part of the process.

The Daily Edit – Mother Jones: Zach Gross

- - The Daily Edit

Mother Jones

Creative Director: Carolyn Perot
Art Director: Adam Vieyra
Photo Editor: Mark Murrmann
Photographer:
Zach Gross

Did the magazine ask you for this treatment or did you put it forward as an idea?
I’ve been wanting to shoot more double exposures editorially and Mark suggested that could be a good way to go for these and he was supportive of me exploring that direction.

Is the overlay directly related to each person in the portrait?
Yes I used bills and paperwork as well as a photograph that the last subject took of the boarder wall between Mexico and the USA, she represented unocompanied minors in immigration cases in her previous job. Also she had napkin art she saved with beautiful messages from kids and families thanking her for helping them…I asked her to read them and she translated from Spanish, the messages were so beautiful and heart warming, there are hints of a message from one of the letters between the slats in the wall.

Where did that overlay content come from?
I talked to each subject on the phone before the shoots so I could hear their stories and experiences to get a clearer impression of how I would photographing them and to find out what the overlays might be. I asked them to send me some paper work and bills and I printed them out on plastic transparencies. I also asked them to set aside any other objects they have that was connected to their experiences.

How did you direct the subjects during the portrait sessions?
My approach really depends on the subject. I definitely have preconceived ideas and directions for the types of images that I’m looking for…but the subjects individuality play heavily on the final images. The way I shoot is a collaboration. I want to get to a place where they feel comfortable…and I want them to participate.

This Week in Photography Books: Clare Benson

 

Autumn comes early in the mountains.

It’s true.

The East Coast may be boiling under a late-August heat wave, but my next-door-neighbor’s trees are already turning yellow, and we had to add an extra blanket to the bed last night.

It always fucks with my head, realizing that late-August isn’t entirely summer around here.

But you get used to it.

One minute, you’re swimming in the Rio Grande river, sunning yourself on the rocky beach like an over-grown lizard, and then, just a few weeks later, you’re dreaming of ski season.

Sure, the knees will be another year older once you buckle up your boots, and the freezing cold might penetrate your bones a bit more each season, but that’s the way it works.

Fall follows summer, and winter comes next.

Unless and until the Earth’s weather patterns are well and truly screwed, (a likely future scenario, we’re told,) rural humans will follow the seasonal cycles, and repeat the habits they learned from their parents.

Out here in New Mexico, there are plenty of people who grew up hunting with their Dad, uncles and cousins. (Or maybe a Mom or an aunt?) It’s deeply engrained in the local Hispanic and Native American cultures, for sure, to the point that camo is an acceptable form of fashion in the local burrito joints around town.

Not surprisingly, there is not a massive overlap between the hunting/4-wheeling/fishing culture, and the more bougie, gringo pursuits like skiing, snowboarding, rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, etc.

Some, of course, but not much. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met someone from Taos who’s never skied before, but could chop down an Piñon tree and cut it up for firewood blindfolded.

(Not that I’d recommend anyone operate a chainsaw without looking. Very bad idea.)

This concept even made a recent New Yorker cover. (I only know because my son asked me to explain it.) As a first, I’ll photograph it so you can see what I mean.

As I told Theo, it’s all about the Two Americas, where people can worship the same mountains, and pledge allegiance to the same flag, but feel like their neighbors inhabit a different universe, if not a separate country.

As always, I’m on a rant for a reason, as I just put down the strange and cool “The Shepherd’s Daughter,” by Clare Benson, published last year by photolucida.

The Portland-based organization runs the photo world contest “Critical Mass,” (which I’m currently judging,) and its top prize is a published photo book. Ms. Benson won the 2015 competition, and the book turned up in the mail last year.

Because I was a judge, I was sent a copy of the book, so it ended up on my bookshelf, rather than in the submission pile. But as you know, I’m always looking for opportunities to highlight female photographers, so today, I pulled it down to take a look.

Ironically, Clare Benson seems to embody a hybrid of the exact dynamic I mentioned above. We met coincidentally in April, when she came to an artist talk I was giving in New York. It took place in a German beer hall in Queens, and she asked me all sorts of intelligent, very art-world questions about my work.

At some point, she mentioned that she’d studied photography at the prestigious program at University of Arizona, home to the Center for Creative Photography, and the Ansel Adams archive. So I took her for a city art person, out for a night of cheap German beer and good conversation. (The room was populated by Yalies and Columbia students/professors, so you can imagine the demographic I’m suggesting.)

Boy did I have Clare Benson wrong.

Or rather, like me, she seems to be an artist who can navigate the ivory towers and gritty streets, while still having a foot firmly planted in raw America.

To be clear, the most mountain-man thing I’ve ever done is chop off a deer’s paw, and I’ve never killed anything bigger than a mouse. (Though I have killed a lot of mice and flies.)

Clare Benson, so this book shows and tells us, comes from an actually hardcore family of hunters in Northern Michigan. If you’re not a fan of chopped up animal parts, you might not want to look at the images below.

The photographs appear to be staged, or created, rather than found, as Clare is featured in some of them, and there is a constructed vibe coming across. (The text confirms it.)

These are art photographs in documentary photography’s clothing.
(Is that too far a stretch for a pun?)

They’re cold, and structured. They feel like they’re real, in the sense that Clare’s connection to the land and culture comes through. But we also understand the function of the animals as still lives, almost: as talismanic markers of a world she knows, but doesn’t inhabit on a regular basis.

In the words of a (very) famous television show, (and a series of books that probably won’t be finished,) Winter is Coming.

I know it is.

There’s a chill in the air at daybreak, and according to my neighbor Morris Arellano, the elk have come down from the mountains already. (He told me this morning.)

Before you know it, the leaves will drop, the snow will arrive, and I’ll have a whole new host of problems to bitch to you about each week. (Freezing snot, clogged chimney, shoveling the driveway, etc.)

So for today, while some of you are still sweltering, I thought a cold, smart, original book was just what you needed. And if you want to eat some rabbit in Michigan this winter, now you know who to call.

Bottom Line: Spare, bleak, poetic book about winter hunting.

To purchase “The Shepherd’s Daughter” 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: Agnes Lopez

- - Working

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:  Agnes Lopez

Over the past year I worked with filmmaker Eric Torres, directing a documentary about Filipino food and the Filipino chefs in Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville has the largest Filipino population in the Southeast, yet Filipino foods are generally absent from the area’s culinary scene.

As a food photographer and a second-generation Filipino-American, I want the next generations of Filipino-Americans — and all food lovers! — to see and taste the rich and delicious culinary culture of the Philippines.

Our documentary, #MORETHANLUMPIA: JAX Filipino Chefs, is in the final stages of filming and will premiere in October at a special screening at the Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville, Florida.

There is a global Filipino Food Movement taking place right now, and believe it is time for the city of Jacksonville to join it. We want people to see that our food is more than just lumpia and pancit, and that serious Filipino culinary talent is already here in some of the most revered kitchens in the region.

The JAX Filipino Chefs documentary is part of a larger campaign to highlight the incredibly skilled and accomplished Filipino chefs of Northeast Florida who are looking to share flavors and dishes from their backgrounds and imaginations, inspired by their culture, through events, pop-up dinners, social media, and community outreach.

You can see the teaser trailer for the documentary and read about the chefs at jaxfilipinochefs.com and @jaxfilipinochefs on Instagram.

James Victorino, Executive Pastry Chef, One Ocean Resort

Jojo Hernandez, Executive Sous Chef, The Florida Yacht Club

Leni Rose Magsino, Pastry Chef, Valley Smoke Restaurant

Melanie Cuartelon, Sous Chef, Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa

Rick Laughlin, Chef de Cuisine, Salt at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

Wesley Nogueira, Executive Chef, Khloe’s Kitchen

To see more of this project, click here.

To attend one of their events, 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 Promo – Keena

- - The Daily Promo

Keena

Who printed it?
AlphaGraphics in Golden, Colorado printed it. I had the hardest time finding a printer I could trust to get exactly what I was looking for. I’m slightly obsessed with getting the correct paper, the way the ink is absorbed, how the color reads and all of that, so finding a printer that really cared about the details was trickier than I’d thought. Also, the zine has a mix of color and black and white so it was important to find a printer that could keep their black and white images neutral, not skewed cyan or green. I’m glad I only had to go through the printer search once because it’s too much of a rollercoaster to get your hopes up to see your work printed like you imagined it and then have your heart broken over and over.

Who designed it?
I designed it myself. Art buyers get sooo many mailers these days, and they’re all SO good, so it’s definitely a challenge to stay out of the recycling bin, but I love it. It pretty much comes down to “What would I want to keep?”, so that’s what I strive to make. I just imagine a huge pile of mailers on someone’s desk and then figure out how to actually stand out from it. I do zines for all my promos and every one is different, but still the same size, so I dream about people keeping them all on a shelf somewhere. Design can also make or break the photos, so until I meet some rad designers I can trust, I’m still in charge of my own fate. I also love writing out words and drawing so these zines give me the chance to do some of that old-school hands-on work. I still spend hours with a pen and ink, writing words out over and over till they look just right.

Tell me about the images?
I had reached out to a stylist, Taura Deacon, when I was moving near her and we had really wanted to work together, but she was already in the process of moving away to Phoenix. So we stayed in touch and I ended up flying down to Arizona a few months later where her and her husband picked me up at the airport before midnight on Friday, we met for the first time, hung out, produced and shot all Saturday until midnight, and then I flew out at 5 am on Sunday morning. The whole idea behind this zine was exercising “teenage logic”. As a teenager, I remember so many ideas popping up into my head and then just rounding up my friends to go do them! Back then no one asked if it was a good idea, if it was cool, if it was safe, or if there were consequences, but we knew it would be FUN. I had put together a shot list and a location wish list and Taura street cast the people and found two dream locations- one for the day shots and a second with both a pool for skating AND a second pool for swimming for the night shots. The images are supposed to be very experiential feeling, like the viewer is at the party with their friends, not just watching it. Of course, it was a produced party, but I like to think that everyone partied as they normally would, and I was able to find the moments in there. The dirtbike shot has been a dream shot for a few years now so I’m beyond psyched to see it come to fruition. I also shot a lot of film and underwater housing for this, which is also a fun part of promos made from personal work. You get to bring out all the toys and be as creative as ever.

How many did you make?
This zine was a run of 350 total. A limited run of 200 to send out to specific people I’ve worked with or want to work with, and then I kept 150 for meetings and my library at the studio. They’ll all find a home eventually, but I believe in “less is more” for promos. I think each mailer should be intentional as to whose hands it ends up in.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
When work and life are in balance, I try to do two zines per year, but on busier years I’ll just do one because they definitely take a lot of time to plan, execute, design, print, and mail.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I’m never positive on how effective they are, but I think that if I get one good job out of them, then at least I didn’t lose money on it. Plus art buyers get so many emails that I think printed pieces are something special if you put the time into them. Sometimes printed promos seem like screaming in the dark, but it seems common to go into meetings and have people tell me they still have my past zines, so that keeps me believing in them. These days it’s also important to show agencies that you’re creative beyond just using a camera, and printed promos are great for that because you have to inject some of your personality into it. I’m always super inspired when I see other photographer’s killer promos so I constantly feel the burn to try to make something rad as well.

All business numbers and returns aside, mailers are super important for me to get out for me to feel creatively balanced. I’ve always loved photo zines and photo books since I was a kid, so now I have the photos to really fill out a zine and the resources to get them printed exactly how I would want to, how could I not? We’re living in such a digital world now and I grew up on analog when everything was handmade and hand printed, so it’s healthy for my creative brain to get my photos off the screen and into someone’s hands. If the internet died tomorrow, I’d still have zines out there with my photos in them, and for some reason, that feels comforting. I always hope that the types of agencies and producers that I’d want to work with still appreciate the process and the tactile feel of getting a zine on their desk, the weight of the paper, and the story behind it. If I was only shooting for money and never for fun, I would definitely burn out on photography as a career. Seeing people’s reactions to the zine always makes it worth to me and having a promo with a good story behind it also sparks some awesome conversations when doing meetings! I’ve already got the next two zines in the design phase and I never want to be predictable as a photographer, so they’re all different subject matter, but shot and designed to have my look to them. It’s a never-ending cycle of dreaming and making but it keeps me so excited about shooting and creating that I would never stop doing promos.

The Daily Edit – Santa Barbara Magazine: Peter Amend

- - The Daily Edit

Santa Barbara Magazine

Creative Consultant: James Timmins
Photographer:
Peter Amend

Heidi: How many days was your road trip?  
Peter:We spent about three days together on the road – which gave us time to enjoy the trip and not feel rushed or stressed out when the weather or light wasn’t right. Also – because we had plenty of time, it felt more like a ‘trip’ than a ‘shoot’, which always translates to a more authentic story and experience. Eryns boyfriend Michael accompanied too – bringing some good vibes to the mix as well.

Did you have a shot list or was the shoot more organic? 
I try to avoid having a shot list, whenever possible. We certainly had a moodboard of themes and styles we were hoping for – but there were few ‘shots’ that had been pre produced. I like to think that my production style involves 50% preparation, and 50% magic. I don’t like to be so pigeonholed into a location or ‘shot list’, that you lose the ability to float on the freedom of inspiration.

Did you also drive in a vintage rig?
Firstly, the vans from Dustie Wagens are sweet – you can have your own Volkswagen experience by renting them locally in SB, without having to own and maintain one.  But my ‘home base’ on the road consists of a 2011 Toyota Tacoma, with a camper shell & rooftop tent. Because most of my work revolves around remote locations, it’s really important to me to have a reliable rig for transportation, gear storage, and sleeping quarters. I’ll always have a soft spot for vintage vans – my first two vehicles were VW’s – but as any owner knows, you’re gonna need a tow truck company on speed dial. And that’s not an idea I can comfortably rely on – especially when a job is on the line.  Thankfully, we had it available to yank the van once it stalled out and starter died on a three-point turn on a windy road.

How many hours per day did you spend with Eryn? 
Aside from sleeping, we were together the entire trip! It’s really important for me to work with subjects that are not only talented and photogenic – but also genuinely enjoyable humans. Much of what I love to photograph revolves around human interactions with nature – and it’s important for me to have a relational connection based on trust and friendship.

Did you and she discuss the plans for the day and they figure out the key shots? 
We had a rough idea of what the day looked like as far as locations, and potential shots – although some of my favorite images were when we pulled over on a side road after seeing a poppy-covered hillside, perfectly matching the color of the VW. These kind of things can’t be planned – so that flexibility is important.

Did you have shots figured out in your mind before you started? 
One of my favorites was Eryn carving on her skateboard in front of the VW van that turned out just like we had hoped. There were a few images I had in mind that didn’t make the spread – a portrait of Eryn on her longboard in front of a gloomy gray Santa Barbara fog bank, and another of Michael throwing up a ‘shaka’ from underwater. Sometimes you imagine a photo and it turns out just like you saw it in your imagination – those moments are what gives you a lot of satisfaction as a photographer – aligning the technical ability with the imaginative forecast and creative preparation.

Did you have an assistant or was it just you?
I find that having an assistant is a huge distraction – so nope, it was just me. As much as I’d love to have assistance with lighting scenarios, gear loadouts, or even someone to drive when I’m exhausted – I feel like having a small footprint translates well to the experience I try to provide the client.

This Week in Photography Books: Caleb Cain Marcus

 

I keep it real hear at APE.

Always have.

In a 7-year-weekly-column, (and 8 years of service overall,) you’re bound to repeat yourself now and again.

I know I have.

One story that maybe doesn’t come around often enough, though, is how I came by this philosophy of honesty. (By now, perhaps I’m equated with it.)

The truth is, it wasn’t my idea.

When Rob first hired me, in 2010, and then proposed sending me to NYC to cover the PDN Expo, he gave me one particular piece of advice.

“Be as honest as possible,” Rob said. “Sure, it will turn a few people off, and maybe you burn a bridge or two. But you’ll gain far more than you lose by being honest, and most people will really respect you for it.”

Despite the quotation marks above, I admit this is a paraphrase, but I have a good memory, and this was a seminal conversation in my life.

I’ve had more than a few people approach me over the years and say they felt like they knew me, because of the way I write this column. I take that as a compliment, and don’t intend to change any time soon.

So here’s the fresh news: I just finished a two week run in which I was working 12-18 hours a day on Antidote.

Every day.

I’ve worked non-stop, dating back to my workshop in LA last month. Basically, I’ve never been challenged as much professionally, and thankfully it all seems to have come off well. So after I write this column, (and do an interview for the NYT,) I’m calling it a day, and taking a long-deserved rest.

My major lifelines at the end of Antidote, when I was REALLY dragging, were my two buddies, Caleb Cain Marcus and Kyohei Abe, who were on the faculty for Session 2. Seriously, you couldn’t ask for better friends, (nor teachers,) as they inspired our students, and helped me figure out how to grow as a leader.

In addition, they each gave artist talks that entranced our students, as the through-lines between their evolution as artists were so clear to behold.

I met Caleb at FotoFest in Houston in 2016. In an otherwise unsuccessful venture back across the table as an artist, I made a truly great friend, and that is worth more than its weight in chicken feed. (Odd metaphor, right? I told you, I’m fried.)

I’d previously reviewed his brilliant book, “A Portrait of Ice,” but we’d never met or spoken. I can go back and date when I reviewed his next book, “Goddess”…

(Pause)

OK. I’m back.

I reviewed “Goddess” in December of 2015.

Basically, I reviewed this guy’s last two books before I ever knew him.

But now he’s one of my best friends in the world, and was instrumental in helping me build Antidote from nothing.

So as I begin this review, honest about my connection to Caleb Cain Marcus, you can decide whether I’m biased about the impending “A Brief Movement After Death.” (By Damiani Books)

Being honest, I’ll also share that I prompted him to write the excellent, brief, foreword, and I also edited its text.

Can I be objective?
Now that you know?

Well, I’ll photograph the entire book below, so you can decide for yourself.

Am I hooking up a friend?

Or writing a review of the perfect, slim, (and perfect-bound) little volume for a short review today?

The title, and “heavenly” cover, tip us off to the book’s meaning, but that aforementioned foreword gets right to the point. These skyscapes, in ethereal colors, contain little repeating specks that look like flocks of birds, but are in fact the renderings of a pendulum-like grease pencil, swinging above the surface of a print.

The pictures, together, are ruminations about what happens to our souls after we die, as the artist contemplates his demise as his young daughter grows before him.

The title and the text direct the read here. The colors and skies could imply different things, under another context, but we know where to go because we’ve been told.

As for those bird flocks, they could also represent groups of souls, or the disconnected embodiment of even one soul, floating up to heaven. (Or whatever you might call the after-life.)

The pictures move up the page, and jump from side to side, in an obviously constructed rhythm. The colors, cool blues and warm oranges and yellows, provide contrast right out of color theory.

Just as I thought to myself, “I think this is enough pictures,” the book ended. Literally, that was the last page. So just as last week’s review was an example of getting the picture volume right, so is this. (But in the opposite direction.)

Honestly, I don’t know where we go after we die, and neither does Caleb.

But I do know that books like this can make us think and feel at the same time. The question, the premise, gets inside our head immediately. (It sets the tone, as does the placid cover.)

And the color speaks on an emotional level.

I’ll leave you contemplating mortality, today, and hope you enjoy your summer holiday.

Bottom Line: Slim, sleek, beautiful, visual poetry

To Pre-Order “A Brief Movement After Death” 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: 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.