Filter Photo Festival 2016- Part 1

I’m still recovering from my trip to Chicago, yet I’m off to New York in a few days. (Then LA later this month.) While I hadn’t planned it, I guess it’s become AMERICA’S BIG 3 SMACKDOWN, and let’s see which city comes out ahead.

Chicago has a sizable lead, of course, as I’ve sung its praises in this column last year and last week. It has a lot to offer as a clean mega-city with gorgeous architecture, a killer food scene, beautiful beaches, world class art institutions, and a blue collar, unpretentious attitude.

New York maybe bigger, and LA more glamorous, but each has a reputation for being a tough nut to crack. New Yorkers are too blunt, Angelenos too slick, and perhaps Chicago’s porridge is just right?

We’ll see.

I do want to compliment the crew at the Filter Photo Festival for running a great event. People are so friendly. They genuinely care how you’re doing. (And they also know how to have a good time when the workday is done.) There are plenty of lectures and events at Filter, but not so many as to give you a migraine.

As with all the events I attend, I like to do a series of write-ups featuring the best work I saw at the festival. My criteria haven’t changed much in the last 3 years. If someone can show me at least 5 cohesive photographs that are well-made, and don’t look EXACTLY like everyone else’s pictures, I’ll show them here.

I’m not saying everything is brilliant, or the best I’ve ever seen. Rather that the photographers I include have found a coherent and confident vision, and their technical skills are up-to-snuff.

And always, the following artists are in no particular order. Hope you enjoy the work, and thanks to all the photographers we’ll feature for allowing us to share your imagery with the world.

Let’s start with Carly Ries, if for no other reason than she shoots at the lake. (Mmm, cool blue water.) Carly was trained at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and still gets to use their excellent equipment. I think these pictures are lovely, and encouraged her to get even more specific with her work.

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Eddee Daniel showed me several projects, and as is sometimes the case at portfolio reviews, I didn’t like some of them at all. In such situations, I always hope that I see at least something to redeem my impression. At the end, Eddee pulled out a project done during a year-long residency at a sculpture museum in Milwaukee.

I felt the repeated engagement with the subject helped strengthen his vision, and that these pictures were pretty excellent. It’s rare that photographs about art transcend the original work, but you could argue that happens here.

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Dana Mueller presented me with a similar dilemma. She is trying to get a book published about an extensive project she’d shot in Cuba, as she’d taught there a couple of times. The subject choice seemed arbitrary, and the images lacked the requisite punch.

Just before we finished, Dana showed me a group of photos made in her home region in Germany, in the nether regions between the former East and West. The drained color palette was powerful, and the pictures had genuine emotion. I thought they were great, and am happy to show them here.

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Andrea Birnbaum presented me with work that was so subtle, it almost wasn’t right for the speed-dating environment. I confess at first I couldn’t see exactly what she was getting at, but as we moved the prints back and forth in the stack, her message came across.

Andrea is looking at the discomfiting phase in adolescent development, as teen-aged girls become disillusioned or self-conscious about their bodies. It wasn’t until I liked a more obvious picture, (the girl in the bikini reading a magazine,) that my eye caught the subtlety of gesture and body language that the pictures contained.

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We’ll finish today with Traer Scott, a photographer who missed most of our meeting due to a mixup. She came in flustered, obviously, but I told her that these things happen, because they do. We’ve all been there, and I felt the best thing I could do for her was be cool, and assure her I wouldn’t hold it against her.

For her project, “Natural History,” Traer photographs reflections in diorama windows at Natural History museums. Her artist statement alludes to endangered species and Climate Change, but in person, she told me that she practically grew up in a Natural History museum in Raleigh, NC, as her mother was a curator there. She spent a lot of time unsupervised as a kid, so these pictures actually stem directly from her childhood and personal experiences, which often makes for compelling work.

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The Art of the Personal Project: Grace Chon

- - Personal Project

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

Today’s featured photographer is: Grace Chon

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How long have you been shooting?
I’ve been photographing animals for 8 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I’m self-taught but have a background as an ad agency art director. That training has informed my photography career so much, from the way I art direct my shoots to being on set with clients.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I think a lot of us have a fascination with before and after images because it’s always fun to see dramatic transformations. I had the idea of doing a before and after series with dog grooming because there’s something about it that’s so funny to me. Sometimes the dog looks so different and you wonder if it’s the same dog in both images. I wanted to capture that idea in the series, and have the after photos be really extreme by showing Japanese Dog Grooming cuts since they aren’t that common and the results are so striking.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I came up with the idea in January of 2016 and reached out to a friend of mine who owns a successful chain of pet stores called Healthy Spot, which also offers incredible dog grooming. We got the wheels in motion almost immediately and shot the series in May of 2016, and I started to share the series online by July 2016.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
This series was all shot and executed in 1 day, and I think I knew pretty immediately that the idea was going to work. Literally just seeing the dogs walk on set before and after their grooming was jaw dropping –both really amazing and funny at the same time.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I don’t think this series is too different from my portfolio work. I am known for very strong, character driven animal portraits and this is definitely an extension of that. But what I loved about this series was the creative collaboration with a team of incredibly talented dog groomers. And because we didn’t have a client dictating what they wanted, we were able to do whatever we wanted. Having total creative freedom is always the best!

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I always share my personal work on social media. In this day and age, it would be a huge lost opportunity not to!

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
The series went viral not too long after I started sharing the images online, with mentions on sites like The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, The Daily Mail, Yahoo, Refinery29, Costmopolitan, INSIDER, and more. The photos were also published internationally as well.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I have in the past with my “Zoey and Jasper” photo series and I definitely will sometime in the near future with this one.

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Grace Chon is a commercial photographer specializing in animals, lifestyle images, and celebrities with their pets.
When she’s not writing about herself in the third person, Grace likes to go hiking with her dogs, meditate, and grow organic heirloom tomatoes. She makes a mean guacamole (want to challenge her to a guac-off?) and really hates Comic Sans.
In her spare time, Grace photographs homeless dogs looking for their forever homes and donates her photography services every year to multiple dog rescue groups in Los Angeles. She lives in LA with her husband, son, and their beloved rescue dogs, Maeby and Zoey.


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit – Grayson Schaffer

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Grayson Schaffer:  Partner Talweg Creative/ Outside Magazine Editor at Large / Photographer

Heidi: Tell us about your transition from photography to cinematography and what are your thoughts overall about that for photographers?
Grayson: We’re at a point in time where a lot of still photographers are becoming directors. Sometimes that just means buying a Red camera and hanging up a shingle. Sometimes still photographers have clients who are asking for motion as part of a project. From an image-making perspective, motion isn’t that difficult. There are some frame rate and shutter angle considerations that you don’t have to deal with in still photography, but at the end of the day, a frame is still a frame. The hard part is having something to say. And for that, more photographers need to be leaning heavily on their writer friends to figure out what the film is going to be about before you get out there. We see it again and again where competent still photographers—many of whom have sizable Instagram followings and interpret that as a sign from the universe that whatever they do is great—just end up with a series of pretty but disjointed images. We all make crappy movies or write crappy stories from time to time, but you can minimize that if you lean on your talented friends and assume they’re smarter than you.

What made you take to the leap from producing editorial content to producing advertorial or native advertising? 
My personal goal is just to find and report on interesting people. At Outside magazine, that mostly involves finding great characters who are at an inflection point in their lives or careers. It wasn’t until raw cinema camera technology reached the point where we felt like we could get our ideas out onto the screen that we decided we had something to say. At the same time, brands have realized how important stories are. So in a lot of ways the ad world came to us rather than the reverse.

One would think you’d have less control, is that true?
One of the mistakes I see filmmakers make again and again is in sending their work out for criticism and then completely ignoring that criticism either because they’re tired from getting all the way to a rough cut or because they can’t put themselves in their viewer’s shoes to see that the work is missing basic clarity or is overly self-indulgent or precious. Working at a magazine doesn’t give you more control, it just means you get your ass kicked by editors instead of a client. Either way you can’t ignore the feedback. After a few years of it, you realize that they’re trying to fix actual problems and not just make your life miserable. Once you get to the point where your default position is to believe the criticism rather than immediately defend against it, then you’re actually in a place to push back. But, yeah, sometimes commercial clients will sacrifice the story in order to obey the data, stay on message, or avoid getting too real. It’s one reason that the word documentary should be reserved for actual documentaries. That’s gotta stay sacred. Films by brand ambassadors about other brand ambassadors can be amazing to watch. Some of them can even be true and accurate. But I still haven’t come across a brand that has editorial guidelines, fact checkers, or a public editor.

How long has your Talweg been in business and how much have you grown since inception? 
About a year and a half ago, Ryan Heffernan and I had the opportunity to move from production work into being a full-service ad agency. We’ve got a Jedi media planner who’s a real millennial whisperer and a couple of account managers who are super sharp. That core team has allowed us to service clients like New Mexico Tourism and other state agencies. We’ve also been doing work for Yeti coolers and a number of other clients in and out of the outdoor space.

Yeti  has been very successful in getting so much coverage for their brand, what do you attribute this to?
The word storytelling has been getting thrown around a lot lately. There was that great rant by an Austrian designer recently about how that term gets misused.

If you’ve been watching social media, you’d think storytelling was anything where somebody reads poetry in an affected voice while slow motion pictures roll by. But Yeti actually gets it. They find filmmakers they believe in. We all work together to pick characters we believe in, regardless of whether they have any affiliation to Yeti or not. And then we all roll the dice. The very first film in the series was one we did in the Grand Canyon last May called In Current

Our plan was to bring models down the Canyon and have them be “trainees” who were learning the ropes. But about five hours into day one of the trip, we realized that there were actual baggage boatmen who’d been cutting their teeth for years trying to get a shot at rowing a dory. We immediately pivoted to focus on this amazing woman Amber Shannon and were lucky enough to have a client—Yeti’s marketing director was with us on the trip—who didn’t hesitate to go with what was real over what was storyboarded. That project laid the groundwork for the Yeti Presents series, which has been a huge success.

What sort of notes can other companies take from Yeti’s playbook in your eyes?
Some agency types have since told us that the branding is way too subtle in these films for their clients’ tastes. Others have told us they’re perfect. We believe that the most important thing is making a film that people want to watch, not one that requires a huge media spend to get eyeballs on it. If I had to chalk up Yeti’s success with these films to one thing it’s that they’re willing to fail. They assign dozens of these 5-7 minute shorts. They don’t all work out. But the ones that do more than make up for the ones that fall short.

The most important thing for a client who wants to get into storytelling (actual storytelling) is to relax their guardrails and trust the process. This is what doc directors, reporters, and editorial photographers have always done. It doesn’t always work out like you planned it but it always works out somehow. In our REI short film Fast Forward, ultra-distance cyclist Lael Wilcox, who was trying to break the record for the Arizona Trail, came down with a respiratory problem only 36 hours into her ride. The record attempt was a disaster, but you ended up believing in her as a character. And that was more important than success.

How do you manage working at a magazine and then working for advertisers at the same time?
I’ve been an editor at large for Outside since April. So I’m not on staff at Outside anymore. Finding time to write and shoot and make movies comes down to working with a great team at Talweg, great editors at Outside, and only swinging at fastballs over the plate.

The Daily Promo: Alex Geana

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Who printed it?
I use Overnight Prints for my promos. Eventually I’ll use a fancy printer, but for now they’re really good. Then I make custom notes for all my clients and potential clients. Trying to be as personal as possible. My handwriting isn’t the best, so I like to print all my cards on nice card stock from Paper Source and sign everything. It makes for a really neat and personal presentation.

Who designed it?
I designed and set the images myself. Part of my schooling at SVA was graphic design and I love using the skill set in my photography every day.

Who edited the images?
I did. But with ice cream you have to be quick, so not that many pictures were generated.

How many did you make?
We used 3 bars and about 25 images were created. The print runs on my promos are 250.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I send hard promos out every 3 to 6 months, then emails out every 45 days. I’m finding that the food theme works really well. Because it’s a visceral connection.

Who was the food stylist?
I was actually the food stylist. I really like putting it together and do all my basic food styling myself. Although I do have great food stylists I work with, when it comes to a promo; I don’t really have a production budget.

Did you shoot specifically for promos?
Yes, I shoot specially for promos, so I have a ton of freedom and do things totally in my wheelhouse, when it comes to styling. This is basically a raw chocolate bar from a bougie chocolate shop in SoHo with chocolate drizzle and fruity pebbles, then gold flexes for color. I used 3 bars and got 25 images.

Why three bars?
I needed 3 bars, because the bite and the drizzle kept on melting. Then if you swap out backgrounds, you get a mess. So if you look carefully, the bar on the red, had the best bite, but the bar on the white background had the best styling as a bar. So I just used both pictures from each set. One for the front, one for the back. I think I’m going to work with donuts next, because the response from this promo was amazing.

This Week In Photography Books: Meghann Riepenhoff

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

Once upon a time, I wrote about stereotypes and clichés.

It was fun to resurrect phrases left for dead. I did it because good writers avoid them, and I was rebelling against the norm. (Or maybe I just wasn’t a good writer?)

Sometimes, though, we use a phrase just because other people do. We don’t think about where it comes from.

I’m thinking of “bone tired,” because I tried to explain it to my son the other day. Everybody says it, but I suspect only people over 40 really know what it means.

When you reach a certain level of exhaustion, your bones actually ache. At the moment, I’ve got a tingling feeling from my tibias to my clavicles, and there’s not much to be done. (Not much but complain, I suppose.)

I was in Chicago last week for the brilliant Filter Photo Festival, and worked straight through the weekend. Unlike last year, this time I came home with my voice and my wits in tact, but the latter has faded as the week’s gone on.

This year, I again saw nearly 40 portfolios, and will have plenty of work to show you in the coming weeks. I saw remarkable exhibitions, met with so many fascinating people, ate at a steak house with a heap of financial planners, danced to a human beatbox at a late-night afterparty, reviewed countless photographs, and talked for 5 days straight.

I made a few changes compared to last year, beginning with my reviewing approach. After much thought, I decided to temper my advice based upon what I sensed the person could actually hear and handle. Rather than just imposing my will on the situation, which led to a few bad results last year, in 2016, I decided to be patient, listen, and then react.

Not surprisingly, it was a successful tactic. Getting ripped to shreds by one reviewer at FotoFest in March, when I took my own work, reminded me how easy it is to ruin someone’s day with a few poorly chosen words. Or with a confidence bordering on arrogance.

Last year, despite a powerful urge, I failed to eat any Chicago deep dish stuffed pizza. This time, my friend Melanie and I rectified that at Giordano’s, and the results were good enough, but far from awesome. (Yes, Susan Burnstine, you tried to warn me off. I should have listened.)

Finally, in 5 full days in Chicago in 2015, I never made it to Lake Michigan, even though the hotel was only a half a block away. (Lake Shore Drive proved a formidable impediment.)

This year, I asked how to get access, which was insanely easy, and went to check it out on my very first day. There are sandy public beaches, ladders to climb down for a swim, party boats on Sundays, and very blue, luxurious water.

The smell might be different, (since it’s a lake,) but by the look of things, it’s as pretty an urban scene as San Sebastian or San Francisco. I simply can’t overstate how nice it is.

I went for a run there one morning, ambled other days, and then on Sunday, on my way to and from Expo Chicago, I walked along the shore instead of through the city. Great plan!

Unfortunately, it was rather hot on Sunday. And humid too, of course. Very, very humid.

So as I pumped my arms, power-walking like a worker-bee on my way North to grab the subway, the sweat-storm began. I felt the first trickle, didn’t think too much about it, and then it was a flood that overwhelmed my shirt.

I was sweating so much, was soooooo wet and sticky, and right next to me was all that cool, blue water. Taunting me. I wanted to swim so badly, I considered my options.

“Jonathan,” said the lake, “you know you want to jump into me. Come, Jonathan. Give in to your desire. It will feel so good.”

Opting against a full scale assault in my clothes, I bent down, took a knee, reached into the undulating blue, and cupped some water in my hands. I reached back, splashed my neck, and then did it 10 more times.

I’m not a religious Jew, to be honest, but I know we have a tradition of the mikvah. Consecration in water. It felt like that then, a moment I’ll remember for a long time.

The next morning, (I returned home after 1am,) I went down to our stream and repeated the process. Cool water on the same neck.

A journey begins, and it ends.

Speaking of journeys, I wrote about my big trip to Texas earlier this year, and mentioned I met an artist at FotoFest, Meghann Riepenhoff, who was having a moment at the time.

Well, Meghann just sent me an exhibition catalog of her work, “Littoral Drift,” now in its second edition, and of course it was on top of my pile today when I needed to write for you guys. (It’s Thursday. Deadlines await.)

There’s been a trend in California lately of photographic artists making one-of-a-kind objects out of old-school, hands-on processes. Chris McCaw might have gotten it started, but Matthew Brandt, John Chiara, Klea McKenna, and Meghann have all come up with styles that are steeped in the past.

Meghann makes cyanotypes in water. Chemistry mixes with primordial cocktails of salt and sea, resulting in abstracted, beautiful, dreamy objects. In person, they were lovely and textured.

In book form, it’s hard to communicate scale, so I commend the attempt to conjure our imaginations with various installation shots. But mostly this book is about the pleasure of looking.

Like the evanescence of frost, molecular structures under a microscope, or the unmistakable smell of my daughter’s hair, we all know that nature is more powerful than we are. Its aesthetic instincts are nearly always perfect.

I like that this work channels a sense of that visually, as well as existentially. No water, no art. No sloshing, no looking.

As you might imagine, I’ve just hit my limit for today, especially as I’ve got to teach a class all afternoon. (No rest for the weary, I’m afraid.) But this weekend, I’m going to take a big fat nap, and it’s going to be glorious.

Bottom Line: Gorgeous catalog of innovative cyanotypes

To Purchase Littoral Drift Go Here

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The Art of the Personal Project: Ashton Ray Hansen

- - Personal Project

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

Today’s featured photographer is: Ashton Ray Hansen

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Photography: Ashton Ray Hansen

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How long have you been shooting?
11 since I picked up my first camera. Two since I broke off from assisting.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I gained most of my experience from photo assisting in Chicago.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Probably the love I have for my friends and admiration I have for them to leave the city behind to live a fairytale lifestyle in a remote part of Colorado.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
Wow, lets see, I started photographing this on my first visit when they moved out there about six or seven years ago.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
If I start realizing I have no more passion for a specific project I move on. I don’t like to force anything. Sometimes I’ll re-visit an idea but if there’s no passion or interest then that’s it for me.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I feel great! Shooting this kind of work allows me to shoot whatever I want and however I want encouraging me to try new techniques and explore new perspectives.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I post to Instagram all the time. www.instagram.com/ashtonrayhansen

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Viral, no. The closest to that is an image from this project being used as the cover for an environmental issue of Denver’s well respected 5280 magazine. Another image got me a Finalist award for a national photo contest. But that’s the closest to “viral” I’ve made it.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I haven’t yet but have been considering it recently as I have landed multiple jobs this summer solely because of the personal work on my website.

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Ashton is a food & lifestyle photographer currently based in Boulder, CO. A Colorado native, however, he found his roots while living in Chicago. It was during that time when he discovered his love of food and his interest in the way people live and play.

His first personal project Hotchkiss was about people living entirely off the land. Through this he has discovered an appreciation for those that have done what so many only wish they could do. His new project Van Life will document the lives of those who live out of their vans to live a life of adventure on the open road. It’s his relationship and love for people that he thrives in the collaborative processes that are the creative industry. Some of his most current clients include Ball Corp, David Weekley Homes, Noosa Yoghurt, and Boppy Baby Products.


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit – AFAR: Celine Clanet

- - The Daily Edit

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Director of Photography: Tara Guertin
Art Director: Jason Seldon
Associate Photo Editor: Alex Palomino
Photographer: Celine Clanet

Heidi: I read that Creuset translates to cauldron or crucible. In this image the iron is heated  5,184°F (2,862°C) how close could you get to the iron before the heat became too much to bear?
Celine: Well, pretty close actually, but not for too long, that was the thing.

Did you wear special clothing and did it affect your gear?
I just wore regular safety equipment (shoes, glasses). It didn’t affect my gear, but there was just some black dust covering it, covering all of us actually.

How many days did you spend at the factory?
Two full days.

How long did you spend at each assembly line station?
It depended on the visual interest of each one. I remember spending much time on the sanding line: the guys – it’s a guys-only line – were wearing special breathing helmets, moving like robots, grabbing pots, sanding and throwing them out in a beautiful collective ballet. The industrial world is such a ballet.

When you were developing the narrative arc of the story, how did you keep track of big sweeping environmentals, portraits and tight shots to make for a dynamic story?
You have to think of every details that will make the viewer feel the experience of a place, which is basically the point of a magazine assignment. Photography is limited: no sounds, smells, nor movements, therefore every detail possible matters, and I just have this in mind when I shoot. I always try to step back, and ask myself what did I miss to shoot in what I see right now?

Did you review the shoot and then go back to visit anything you feel you may have missed?
No, two days were enough to stick to Afar’s expectations for this assignment.

Which part of the factory drew you in as a photographer?
The foundry. It was such a show.

How did this story come about? Did you pitch this idea to the magazine?
No, they thought of me first, as I do a lot of industrial photographic assignments, outside of my personal work and other kind of assignments.

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The Daily Promo – Janelle Jones

- - The Daily Promo

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Janelle Jones

Who printed it?
Modern Postcard

Who designed it?
Me

Who edited the images?
Me

How many did you make?
250

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This was the second mail promo I’ve done, I’m aiming to send out promos four times per year.

If there is some sort of interesting backstory please feel free to share.
This photo of phrosties is from a series about summer drinks commissioned by Vice MUNCHIES.

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This Week In Photography Books: Jason Langer

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

He was handsome.

That was the first thing the barkeep noticed. Handsome in a country kind of way.

This was no twink.

The young man in the cowboy hat couldn’t have been more than twenty-five; more likely he was just past the legal drinking age. He’d come in about ten minutes before, walked up to the bar with a bow-legged gait, and asked for a Bud draft.

He paid with a five, left a dollar tip, then retreated to a table with a good view of the ladies.

The barkeep was certain he’d kept the last buck to give to one of the girls, so he wouldn’t feel too bad about hunkering down. You’ve got to give them SOMETHING if you want to stare at their tits, and a dollar is something, as opposed to nothing at all.

If this were another bar, in another part of town, the barkeep would have hit on the cowboy. That beer would have been free, so too the next. He was good-looking enough for five free beers, if we’re being honest, but only in another story.

In this one, the cowboy was clearly straight, so the barkeep could do nothing but cop the occasional stare.

The music was too loud, just like every other night. Some sailor just walked in with a handful of buddies, only this one looked like he was trying to fit in. A more promising candidate, that’s for sure.

The barkeep was actually ogling the sailor when the cowboy came back to the bar.

“Excuse me, sir,” he said.

“What can I do for you, cowboy?”

“Well, sir, I find myself in a bit of a predicament, you might say.”

“How’s that?”

“Well, sir, you see, the problem is, I’m not exactly supposed to be here.”

“You don’t say?”

“No, sir. I just came up here to town to arrange the sale of my family’s almond crop. We’ve got a farm out there in the Central Valley.”

“I never would have known.”

“Well, that’s kind of you to say, sir. But my Pa, he don’t take kindly to me frequenting these types of establishment. He thinks it’s a waste of money.”

“It takes all kinds.”

“Well, that’s how I feel about it, but my Pa don’t exactly agree. You see, the reason I came up here to talk to you is that I’m supposed to be home right about now, but here I am.”

“You’re right here in front of me, handsome.”

“Like I said, I’m supposed be home, and here I am. As to the problem I mentioned, well, I’ve got to call home and tell my Pa that I had a flat tire, and I’m a couple hours behind.”

“Sounds reasonable.”

“Well, I hope that’s true. But the problem I keep mentioning is that I just spent my last five dollars on this here beer, your tip, and a buck for the lovely lady over there. I think her name’s Lexus.”

“How can I help you, cowboy?”

“Well, sir, I feel right bad asking you this, but I need 25 cents to call home on that there pay phone, but I don’t have a dime. Is there any chance you might spot me a quarter, and I can pay you back next time I come in?”

“Well, cowboy, that’s no trouble at all. Normally, I’d just give you the quarter. But since you’re so cute, how about you give me a little peck on the cheek, and we’ll call it even,” said the barkeep, now extending a quarter in his right hand.

The cowboy looked sheepish, or at least pretended to, then took the quarter, leaned in, and kissed the barkeep on the left cheek. It was over before it started, then he sauntered to the pay phone in back, lit up by Miller High Life neon, dropped the coin into the slot, and began to dial.

The light glowed off of his cowboy hat, as he leaned towards the payphone, to better hear over the noise, and in that one half second, the barkeep knew he’d give that young man anything, if only he’d ask.

And… scene.

In photo class, I sometimes talk about implied narrative. The idea that a story is right there, practically suggested, if only we have the creativity to fill in the blanks.

A great photograph might walk you so far down the path that you’re lazy if you don’t bother to connect the dots.

The image in question comes from “Jason Langer: Twenty Years,” a book released by Radius earlier this Spring. It sat in my pile forever, and now that I’ve opened it up, I’m glad I did.

Another writer might have been seduced by the cowboy, but I was hooked by the payphone. It’s SO fucking 20th Century. (And the Miller High Life sign was pretty great too.)

I interviewed Jason Langer a few years ago, and I enjoy his work, though I wouldn’t say I love it. As with the review a couple of weeks ago, one particular picture made this book worth writing about.

Jason shoots in black and white, and his style fits in the center of three Venn diagrams marked “moody,” “set in the past,” and “overtly strange.” Most of his pictures look like they could have been shot in any decade between 1880 and 1960.

They’re much more “hat wearing” Don Draper than “Esalen-era” Don, if you catch my drift. Old fashioned, but in a way that reveres gray-scale, rather than mocking it. There’s just not much irony to be seen.

I found, oddly, that the pictures in the book from the last century had a stronger impact on me than the more recent work. But for once, it didn’t seem that the artist had been less successful.

Rather, and more subtly, my brain seemed to accept that the 90’s, that last pre-internet decade, really did belong to another temporal universe than ours. Almost like, after Y2K, or 9/11, we all jumped tracks to another reality. The continuity strings between the 19’s and the 20’s were cut, and we’ve all been making it up as we go along.

That’s why the payphone grabbed me so much. How quaint, how antiquated, and yet, 20 years really isn’t that long ago. (Or 18, as this photo was shot in ’98.) At first, it felt like New York, but Pacific Bell was a West Coast thing, right?

Then I thought of all those go-go bars in San Francisco; the ones near North Beach. I think there are a gaggle of them on Broadway, but honestly, I wouldn’t know. I was with my wife by the time I lived there, so the strip club phase was already in my personal rearview.

There are many excellent photographs in this book. Jason is a pro, understands his own vision, and as I’ve seen his work before, I think they did a great job creating a smooth edit. If you like this sort of photography, the book will be for you.

But I’m just glad I had my moment, pretending to be a cowboy, hoping a gay bartender might do me a solid. I’ve got almonds to move, goddammit, and they’re not going to sell themselves.

Bottom Line: Classy book where the 19th, 20th and 21st C’s collide

To Purchase “Jason Langer: Twenty Years” Visit PhotoEye

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The Art of the Personal Project: Sabrina Helas

- - Personal Project

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

“Rock-rock, Rockaway Beach
Rock-rock, Rockaway Beach
Rock-rock, Rockaway Beach
We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach”

Today’s featured photographer is: Sabrina Helas

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How long have you been shooting?
I have been shooting since 2005, I started off as a pet photographer.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Mostly self-taught, the funny part is I had always dreamed of being photographer, but for some strange reason I went to film school instead. It wasn’t until I had been working in that industry for a few years that I woke up and picked up a camera. I had taken photography classes in high school and college but I still had everything to learn.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
The Ramones song “Rockaway Beach”. I just couldn’t get it out of my head! I have a friend who lives in Rockaway and he was raving about it. He suggested I should take a trip out, so I did and I loved it! We started planning a shoot around the location that day. I am pretty sure that on a subconscious level we pulled from that song’s energy for the entire shoot.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I moved to NY in the middle of winter of this year so as soon as the weather warmed up we took a little trip to Rockaway and shot it 2 weeks later.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
This was an easy one, I knew right away. The shoot came together perfectly. The energy of the boardwalk was fantastic, the kids were super fun, Michelle Zapata (Photo Producer) made sure everything went smoothly and thanks to Heather Rome (Wardrobe stylist) the clothes matched the vibe. It was a blast!

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I love the freedom of a personal project and how it is allowed to organically grow and deviate from the intended concept.
You can plan a shoot as meticulously as you want but once you’re on set with all the different personalities and elements
it has the ability to take on a life of it’s own and you have the permission to just go with it.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Sadly I am a bit of a grandma when it comes to social media. I have only recently started to embrace it. I do post some of my work, but until recently, all of my settings have been “private”. I’m working on it…

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I am actually doing that right now.
I just signed with Kim Knight Represents and I am getting my promos ready to share with the world! (Fingers crossed they like it). LOL

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Sabrina Helas is a NY based lifestyle photographer.
She specializes in all things kids.

She recently moved to NYC from Los Angeles and is loving every second of it!
She is represented by: Kim Knight Represents 

www.sabrinahelas.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 has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

Webb’s pictures offer a soothing antidote of high quality craftsmanship

- - Working

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For those that worry that the iPhone-toting hordes will soon overrun photography, Webb’s pictures offer a soothing antidote of high quality craftsmanship. As I passed from image to image, my head was continually nodding, acknowledging the real pleasure that is derived from smartly built photographs.

More here: Alex Webb: La Calle, Photographs from Mexico @Aperture – Collector Daily

The Daily Edit – ESPN: Zachary Bako

- - The Daily Edit

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Creative Director ESPN Print & Digital: Chin Wang
Director of Photography: Karen Frank
Senior Photo Editor: Kristine LaManna
Associate Art Director: Linda Pouder
Photographer: Zachary Bako

Heidi: Was this originally a studio shoot which transformed into a roof top option?
Zachary: This was a two-day shoot in Los Angeles. On the first day, we captured the Bennett Brothers working out in Hollywood at Jay Glazer’s Unbreakable Performance Center. Followed by lunch at Stir Market then at Stoopid Buddy Stoodios where Martellus is creating a stop-motion television show. The second day we were at DSR Studios in DTLA, where the rooftop image was created.

What type of direction did you get from the magazine for this section and how many different set ups were you asked to provide?
Kristine placed emphasis on the roof option. Finding a real moment between Michael and Martellus. This would be the most important option for the magazine. I was asked to do a grey seamless and a roof option.

How much time did you have with them?
ESPN’s E:60 film crew was with us for the two days conducting interviews so once they wrapped their set, I was given five minutes as they made camera changes to capture what I needed.
Michael had a meeting across town when the outdoor option had to be shot, so time was extremely limited for this setup.
Initially, the plan was to have them for an hour and a half to shoot singles and doubles on a black and grey set then head to the roof for an outdoor option. In the end, we were given five minutes here and there throughout the day with Michael and Martellus to cover what we needed.

Was it hard to shoot on such a severe slant?
No, it was not. I have been known to hang out of passenger side windows of moving cars to get the shot. This slant was pretty easy.

Did you have them crouching because they were different heights or it just naturally unfolded that way?
It was through direction. When I ran up the slant, I started to slip and my assistant pushed my shoulder into the roof to hold me in place. Martellus commented that my crew really did have my back. We all had a laugh and that is when this image was captured.

Congratulations, I see you have consistency in your “Awards,” can you share your submissions with us for 2016?
Thank you. American Photography is always beautifully curated, here is what I submitted for AP 33.

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The Daily Promo – Mark Peterman

- - The Daily Promo

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Mark Peterman

Who printed it?
Next Day Flyers

Who designed it?
I designed it myself. I have a background in design and that was my major in art school. Having experience in layout and a design sensibility has become quite useful for my promotional efforts over the years as a photographer.

Who edited the images?
I edited the content myself although I do have a small group of photo industry friends who I consult on a regular basis regarding promo pieces and editing on projects.

How many did you make?
This last postcard was a run of 750. I sent out 650 and usually keep the remaining stock for leave-behinds for in-person meetings.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I try to send out a minimum of 3 printed pieces a year and 4-5 email promos a year.

What was the postcard based on?
This postcard was based on an editorial assignment that I shot for The Atlantic. It was a great assignment where I traveled around the country to photograph a cover story that would find the ‘American Futures’ that tell an alternate, positive story to the message put out by mainstream news today. The story appeared in the March 2016 edition of the magazine.

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Shortly after the story appeared in the magazine I knew that I wanted to create a promo piece from the project. Because the content was sprawling, I had a lot of material to edit down and wanted to tell the story of the editorial project but also feature everything that I do well: constructing narratives with portraiture, landscapes and reportage. There were several different layouts that I tried, drawing on past promo pieces but didn’t seem to work. I kept reworking the design while looking for a new way to present the material that was unique to the diverse content. After numerous revisions I finally I settled on a gridded layout where the images could play off each other to create an overall feel that supported the images in the right way.

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This Week In Photography Books: William Eggleston

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

It all began when I forgot my cell phone.
(Which is rare.)

It’s a strange feeling, like being naked except for your socks. There’s a discomfiting sense of incompleteness when our devices are left behind.

I was driving Theo home from soccer practice last night, when we’d normally be eating dinner. Instead, we began our ascent of Blueberry Hill, just as the sky turned crazy.

As photographers, we know how crucial light is to our end product. No matter how hard I stress the point, my students still don’t get it, as appreciating illumination is a life-long endeavor, and they’ve only just begun.

But last night… any fool could see things were special.

Climbing in 2nd gear, right behind two big pick-up trucks, I looked to East to Taos Mountain, which was glowing amber. When green trees turn gold, every photographer reaches for the camera.

So I did.
But it wasn’t there.

Instead, I’d been given an opportunity to really look. I often feel that photography, while freezing time for the future, actually makes it more difficult to revel in the present.

Thinking about taking pictures leaves less RAM for appreciating what’s in front of you.

By the time we’d crested the hill, it had begun to rain lightly, even though the sun was beaming in the West as it dropped towards the horizon.

We cut across the Taos valley, everything before us shining like a swarm of lightning bugs in July. I turned to Theo and said, “We’re definitely getting a rainbow out of this.”

As the car sped North, there it was. Not one rainbow but TWO! (The Double-Rainbow being a New Mexico speciality.)

We call it walking rain, out here, when you can see curtains of moisture, from the clouds to the ground. It is beautiful, of course, but you get used to it.

Nothing could have prepared us, though, for the massive mist of walking rain, gleaming copper, enveloping the mountains, slashed in two by the double-rainbow. The ROYGBIV colors were so intense, reality became a hyper-real touch-screen.

Air, something you normally can’t see, was multi-hued, and it was so luscious that I wanted to reach right through the silver Hyundai’s window and touch it.

Theo kept saying, “Take a picture, Dad. Take a picture.”

But I couldn’t.

Then, and I swear this is true, a huge lightning bolt rent the sky, right between the two rainbows. Theo and I screamed aloud, as words failed us. (Today he said, “It was magic, Dad. Actual magic.”)

Four cars pulled off the road rapidly, as if they’d blown a tire, so the drivers could snap the perfect Instagram square.
I kept reaching for my phone, like a phantom limb, but it was futile.

We lived those 15 minutes, and I can recall so much more now than if I’d tried to capture it. It’s a paradox, especially for an audience of photographers.

Is it ever a good idea to just put the camera down and watch?

I ask you, now that I’ve just finished with “William Eggleston: Portraits,” a new book that turned up in the mail from the National Portrait Gallery in London. (Thanks guys!) I’ve been meaning to show you this one, and today’s the right time.

It’s a perfect foil for the Diane Arbus book we reviewed two weeks ago, as this also introduces a black and white vision that pre-dates what we know of Eggleston’s masterworks. (You might recall I reviewed his brilliant “Los Alamos” project earlier this summer.)

As I wrote then, William Eggleson’s mature work, his rambling American color photographs from the late 60’s and early 70’s, is as good as anything that’s been made. He owns color; a certain saturated palette in particular, and you’ll have to claw it out of his cold dead hands.

So what was this black and white then?

Unlike Ms. Arbus’ early 35mm photographs, which contained the tension inherent in her later work, these early pictures look like they could have been made by any number of people. They’re exploratory, rather than resolved.

They’re good, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a big chasm between good and historically great. There’s even a photo that looks suspiciously like a Robert Frank picture from “The Americans.” (You’ll know it when you see it.)

Once he shifts to color, the work takes off, but the book still has a continuity problem. We see several of his seminal images, which are inter-mixed with portraits of his family, and pictures of famous people. (What I wouldn’t give to have sat in the back seat as he shot a peak-talent Dennis Hopper, in the early 70s, on the very same road I drove through Taos last night.)

The portraits, and several proto-selfies, are all strong of course, and it wouldn’t be complete without Eggleston naked in a red room, his penis hanging out for all to see. (I said red room. Not red rum.)

The exhibition was organized by the NPG, which is a terrific museum. I saw a cool Man Ray portrait show there a few years ago, which I reviewed here, and recall having a similar problem.

When you decontextualize an artist’s work, you break the narrative that projects create. Pictures are designed to go together so themes can emerge, and symbols repeat. I spent 10 freaking minutes analyzing his use of Coca-Cola Red at Pier 24 in May, because I was so interested in how he had achieved this kind of greatness.

But here, for the sake of an exhibition-constructed narrative, the spell was broken. All fine pictures, yes. But they didn’t take my breath away, despite Sofia Coppola’s implicit promise that they would. (She wrote a brief introduction.)

I’d guess most people would still want this book, as it brings together a chunk of excellent photographs, while giving you a glimpse into the artist’s private life. In 2016, no one can seem to get enough of the backstory. (It includes an extensive Q&A with the artist as well.)

But it reminded me that sometimes, when you’re looking at perfect light on your daughter’s cheek, or a day-dream happy expression in your wife’s eyes, you need to fight off the urge to take a picture.

Just enjoy, until the moment is gone.

Bottom Line: Fascinating yet flawed look at Eggleston’s portraits

To Purchase “William Eggleston: Portraits” Visit the National Portrait Gallery in London

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The Art of the Personal Project: Cade Martin

- - Personal Project

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

Today’s featured photographer is: Cade Martin

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How long have you been shooting?
I first picked up a camera half way through my sophomore year in college. Which was long enough ago. Truthfully, I almost didn’t pursue photography at all. I hated working in the darkroom – all the running water made me have to use the bathroom. Early in college, I contemplated a career in computer programming but shelved that and here I am today.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
A little bit of both. I grew up at the ankles, knees and hips of a community of artists – my father was an art professor – so I believe in some ways I obtained a visual education through my everyday environment. In college I focused on photography and art history with a non-traditional, general studies degree. After school, I was an assistant/apprentice for a few years before striking out on my own, 24 years ago.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I’ve been reading and collecting comics as well as going to comic book conventions since I was a little boy, comics are a big part who I am. I’m an only child, and I, like a lot of only children, grew up surrounded by adults and invented my own worlds in my head. I’ve always been a daydreamer and my primary school years were often filled with my mind wandering to what I’d found and expanded upon in movies and comic books. Sister Charlotte, I’m not sorry. Tintin, created by Herge, is my favorite fictional character of all time and Tintin adventures are what I always wanted to have.

Comics took me everywhere – different countries, different worlds, super heroes, secret identities, romance, war and evil lairs (who doesn’t love an evil lair) to name a few. Colors, sights, sounds – different artists, different genres, nothing was too outlandish and anything was possible – the lack of boundaries was and has been very inspirational.

I’d envisioned a super hero project for a while now and the how or where escaped me. A few years ago I was hired for an editorial project to create portraits at a Civil War reenactment, here we set up a photo studio off to the side of a battlefield so we could strip these re-enactor’s of their environment. I sort of had an aha, duh! moment and thought, in regards to a Comic-Con – why don’t I do this there.

My approach for Comic-Con (and others since) has been to set up a photo booth, and embed myself in the environment. I’ve rented a space for a couple years now at different conventions and built a “studio.” Once set up, I approach people walking around that are interesting to me. It’s performance art and it has it all – creativity, execution, passion, commitment, celebration, voyeurism, exhibitionism and sex. You can see a BTS peek into how this works by going here: https://vimeo.com/182563518

This personal project is no small part nostalgia, married with a visual bonanza, and a captive audience. The people who dress up and take so much time to prepare for Comic-Con have stories to tell, with their costumes and with what’s behind them. I want to show these people in the best light. I found a real affection for these characters – fascinating and interesting people who are expressing themselves through a genre that had always spoken to me. I am always amazed by the amount of commitment and passion the people put into their costumes and make-up for these events. In a way, this is their personal project, which I find admirable and I’d like to think it’s been a creative partnership. I have found it fascinating and it’s been an honor to capture how people bring their favorite characters and vivid imagery to life.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I’ve been working on the project on and off for approximately two years. I’ve photographed at three separate events, one Comic-Con and two Awesome-Cons. What you see here represents just some of my favorites out of the 325 that I’ve photographed. I know that a project is ready to show when I’ve made something that I’m proud of or when I feel like I’ve got the right balance of content. I’ve been showing a few of these images here and there and have gotten a great response so far. I have loved the reactions and expressions when people see the images but at the same time I have also wanted to push the series a little further. Maybe it is as much about me, wanting to continue to have the experiences and interactions with these people in these environments.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Each personal project is different and sometimes it works right away, sometimes it doesn’t, but for me, busy creates busy.

Time-wise, it’s difficult to say because so often one thing leads to another, and the kernel of one personal project can inspire and inform the next. I file all of it under my continuing education and when I find a subject that I want to know more about, I jump in and see where it will take me, what I will learn about myself and from those that I meet along the way. From Comic-Con, I have started a Tattoo portrait project and from the Tattoo convention I went to a Blues Musician festival in the Mississippi Delta. Most recently I started working on a Vietnam fighter pilot portrait project. Maybe it’s fair to say a personal project never dies or stops working, it just feeds the next.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Creating an image that works and has aesthetic value feels good no matter what. And having the result of a good photograph or series be different from what I may have already done is exciting. You have to keep innovating. I want different, to push my boundaries and be surprised by where my photography takes me. I love this quote by John Cage “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas, I’m frightened by the old ones.” Personal work gives me the space to try new things and react to inspiration. And, work that is different from my existing portfolio can be a gateway to new commissioned projects. Work I’ve self-assigned is sometimes stuff I’d love to do in a commercial capacity, and it has ended up being a case of do the work to get the work.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yes. I post different mixes of my work on Tumblr, Instagram & Facebook as well as on Twitter. I use these platforms differently but all as spaces that allow me to play in a sandbox that I might not otherwise; to share my projects with these communities, both the commercial and personal work, the feedback sometimes strengthens and influences me in different ways.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Nothing has blown up Gangnam Style but a few of my projects have been pinged around online through various outlets. I worked on a personal Day of the Dead project in Mexico last year and it appeared in the Huffington Post Travel section as well as PDN, Workbook & Altpick.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/geoff-livingston/the-wonderful-day-of-the-_b_6089658.html

While going viral and having eyes on the work is great, I try not to get too caught up in keeping count. It’s certainly great to get the images out in the world and wonderful if the response is favorable but I’m really doing these personal projects primarily for myself.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Definitely. I love printed promos. For this superhero portrait project we had a lot of fun exploring designs and ended up going with an 18”x24” poster, 2000 of which will soon be mailed out in clear tubes. I’m really excited to get these out in the world, to have these characters inspire others as much as they do me.

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Cade’s work can be seen at www.cademartin.com and http://cademartin.tumblr.com/.

—————–

The only child of a university art professor and a freethinking mother, Cade Martin grew up immersed in a creative community in Richmond, VA. The foundation for his love of art and composition was laid in museum halls, movie theaters and art studios, and at home around a dinner table inhabited by an eclectic cast of characters who shaped his appreciation for the candid beauty found in people from all walks of life. Cade has been chasing characters ever since. He seeks their stories – through their faces, their bodies and sometimes their costumes – in a common thread from his commercial work to his personal projects – characters are the heroes in his pictures.

Cade splits his time between the East and West Coasts with his wife and two kids. He creates images for editorial, advertising, fashion and lifestyle clients that include Marriott, Merrill Lynch, The NY Philharmonic, Neenah Paper, Proctor & Gamble, The Smithsonian, Starbucks, Tommy Hilfiger, United States Postal Service, Volkswagen and Washington Ballet.


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

Expert Advice: Print Portfolios

- - Expert Advice

Stacy Swiderski, Wonderul Machine

I’ve been in this industry for a few years now and am still surprised at how many photographers think print is dead, that it’s not worth it, or that clients just aren’t interested in seeing actual portfolios when you can simply email a URL or attach a pdf. That couldn’t be further from the truth. While we certainly live in a digital age and a commercial photographer’s web presence is the main introductory platform to their work and brand, it’s important not to overlook the benefits of having a professionally printed portfolio and using it as part of a complete marketing agenda.

The website is important, very important, but your brand shouldn’t stop there. Clients still like to see books, and they like to see great books that solidly represent a photographer’s brand and showcase their capabilities. Your book should be an extension of the work on your site, not a mere repetition of it. It should be well considered, show off your strongest, most commercially viable work, and present it all in a thoughtfully curated manner.

Why Print:

There are few reasons, actually:

1) While your website appeals to the widest audience of possible clients, simply because anyone can view it, your print portfolio is going to be the best way to tailor your work to suit an individual client’s needs. You can also bring along an iPad with additional content that will easily allow you to elaborate on a conversation or project that resonates with that particular client.

2) A print portfolio is a conversation piece. You can’t walk into a meeting empty-handed, or with just a few promo cards. Your printed portfolio is a chance to show the client something that they can’t see on their own. It’s an opportunity to share something tangible and reveal the experiences and backstories to your work.

3) The printed portfolio is the best way to escape the illuminated, back lit screen of digital media and make your work more tangible, accessible, and closer to reality. It’s a great way to show off your attention to detail, your commitment to your craft, and just how much you value your work. Most of all, it enforces your unique vision and style as a photographer—you know, those things that make you stand out from thousands of other photographers and help to define your brand.

Even if you’re not yet ready to schedule meetings and sit face to face with creatives at the agency you’re aspiring to work for, you can consider starting with portfolio review events like FotoWorks or Palm Springs Photo Festival (PSPF) Portfolio Reviews. At events like these, you can pay one price to get feedback from a wide array of industry professionals (and get picked up for a job if you’re lucky).

Selecting Images:

Your print portfolio should offer a decisive and concise collection of work that addresses the following key questions: What are your goals? What type of work would you like to be doing more of? And what type of clients would you like to work for? All of these answers should help you determine the work that you include in your book. And just like you pay attention to the way your website is organized and which work is emphasized there, you need to pay attention to the way your print book is sequenced and how it flows from one image to the next.

When it comes to selecting and composing the images in your edit, always start with your strongest, most commercially viable work. Then, focus on telling a story with the photos you choose and how they interact with each other. Maybe the narrative is literal and tells a story with lifestyle and adventure images sequenced according to the different seasons, or maybe it’s a visual story based on thematics like color, composition, or mood that play off from one image to the next. Just like any good edit (whether web or print), make sure there is a strong push and pull between images. In other words, make sure the depiction of space within each frame does not feel repetitive across multiple images in a sequence. You’ll also want to make sure that if you’re printing double-sided pages, your book spreads actually work as spreads and that those images make sense being placed next to each other. Lastly, only show what you need to. Be decisive about the work you include, and tailor it to the client’s needs when possible (screw post portfolios are great for this).

Below is a sample section from a print edit done for food photographer, Stephanie Mullins. Notice how the images placed next to each other work as full spreads:

Stephanie decided to have her portfolio printed on demand via AdoramaPix and chose a bright yellow linen for the cover, along with glossy, lay flat pages:

Your book does not need to be configured in the same way as your site, nor should it show off the exact same work.  Show variety and images that coincide with one another. For example, maybe your site has the wide shot of the runner lacing up his sneakers for a marathon, while the print edit has the shallow close-up of the sun glistening off the sweat on his forehead. Or maybe your site has the overhead version of the table setting from a food shoot, and your print edit includes a pairing of a 30 degree and straight-on shot from the same set.

As a general industry rule, try to keep the book close to 30 spreads or less so that clients can comfortably view your book without having to rush through. If they like your work, and want to see more, they’ll be prompted to take another look at your site. Again, this is why it’s important that your print edit is an extension of your website, not merely a repetition of it.

Materials Matter:

When it comes to portfolios, there’s nothing worse than viewing strong work that is poorly printed. I’ve been to enough portfolio reviews and have seen enough books to tell you that the paper you’re using can make or break the strength of your work. Whether you’re printing on-demand books or inkjet prints from home, choose a paper with a wide color gamut, minimal tooth, and the right degree of brightness for your work. Also, think about the surface of the paper, and whether matte, luster, or glossy is going to be the best option for the style of your work. Keep in mind that while glossy paper may increase contrast and sharpness of your images, it’s also going to impart a reflective element that can oftentimes interrupt the viewing experience (much like plastic sleeves do). Whatever option you choose, just make sure it is in line with making your images look the best they possibly can.

You’ll also want to consider the size of your portfolio (think comfortable, practical, and easy to manage) and make sure that the size and orientation are conducive to the work you’ll be showing. Is the work primarily vertical? Horizontal? Are you going to pair up your verticals or keep them on separate pages? Will images be printed full-bleed or with borders? And if you’re going to be investing in a custom screw post book, you’ll want to make sure your paper can be printed double-sided and your materials (including the book itself) are acid-free for long term storage and stability. If you’re interested in simply using a presentation box, continue to pay attention to your edit, but also think about using a paper with a heavier weight that’s more rigid and suitable for hand viewing. Borders are also necessary with this type of presentation in order to prevent fingerprints from forming on the actual printed areas.

Here’s a look at Inti St. Clair’s screwpost book that she ordered from Pina Zangaro:

And Shawn Hubbard’s custom made portfolio and slipcase from Mullenberg:

Doing your research:

As you might have guessed, printing a portfolio can be quite an expense depending on the materials and vendors you choose to work with.  And like most things in life, you get what you pay for. While it’s important to do your research and budget when it comes to investing in a portfolio, you should remember that it is an investment and should be treated as such. If you choose to have a print portfolio, it will be a key part of your brand and should be held to the same quality standards as all of your marketing materials. And because your portfolio is part of your marketing collateral, you should be looking at your marketing budget to finance it. It doesn’t have to cost you your entire marketing budget, but that’s where you should be looking to figure out your appropriate spending amount.

Recources to get started:

When photographers approach me looking for input on where to get started with printing a portfolio, I typically send over a list of resources I’m familiar with, along with a few recommendations and suggestions based on the style of the work they do. This last part is important because the book needs to be an extension of the photographer’s brand and fit well with the work inside of it. We have a list of resources listed on our site, but here are some of my primary suggestions to get you started:

For printed, on demand portfolios:

Asuka: Well established industry level printer, offering great quality for retail and commercial photography books

Adoramapix: Best for price and ease of use, plus they have a fast turn-around time and rush shipping options available

Artifact Uprising: A VSCO company that makes artful hardcover and softcover books – WM members have raved about them

Edition One Books: Great for truly custom books in single or multiple editions, printed at any size and page count

My Publisher: Offers larger sizes up to 15×11.5 and has great printing, with excellent dynamic range

Paper Chase Press: I’ve heard good things about them from other WM members

Blurb: At the forefront of the on-demand printing industry, and offers a wide range of paper choices for books and zines

Magclud: Originally owned by HP, now Blurb, great for zines and digest style books/promos

For custom, screw post style portfolios, we typically recommend these sources:

Mullenberg: By far the most beautiful, well-made books out there

Pina Zangaro: Affordable and customizable portfolios and boxes

Lost Luggage: Mid-level to high-end portfolios and presentation cases

Klo Portfolios: Rather new in the game, offering a wide selection of material and treatment options

IRIS Portfolios: A boutique company, used by quite a few of our members, with a modern approach to portfolio cases

If you’re familiar with any other resources and would like to chime in with your experience, feel free to continue the conversation in the comments section below, or shoot me an email. And stay tuned for Part 2 of this Expert Advice on print portfolio production, where we’ll be going over size and quality comparisons with pricing from the vendors mentioned in today’s article.

Want help editing and designing your portfolio? Give me a shout!

The Daily Promo – Sean Klingelhoefer

- - The Daily Promo

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Sean Klingelhoefer

 

Who printed it?
I had it printed through Ken at Continental Colorcraft in Monterey Park, CA but it ended up being outsourced to another print shop because they no longer had the HP Indigo printer I’ve grown to love when I have to do digital offset.

Who designed it?
Yours truly. In this case there really isn’t much designing going on but as they say, “no design is good design.”

Who edited the images?
All of the editing was done by myself although there really isn’t much going on aside from a color shift. I wanted to keep this project more abstract and simply in an effort to make a different statement than my usual “car ad work” does.

How many did you make?
I made 500 sets of 4 8×13″ cards.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
It depends on the year but at least 3-6 times a year. I think in the coming years I’m going to start making more of an effort to get more creative with promos.

How did this images series develop?
The photo series was kind of a mistake in general.  I had planned to shoot my friend’s incredible Alfa at El Mirage dry lake bed but as soon I finished paying for a day pass I realized that the lake was actually closed to vehicles. After a two-and-a-half-hour drive from LA and a non-refundable $20 pass ,I figured there was no sense in going home. We decided to cruise around in the Joshua Trees for a while to find something inspiring. It was hot, irritating but I had some prisms, a beautiful car and an open dirt road; I just decided to do some experiments. I tried to capture the feeling of the desert in a story of a mirage which never quite clears and the moment of disillusionment never arrives. When I showed the images to my rep Paige at Fox Creative she was immediately on-board to do something special and targeted with the series.  The result was the lowest count, highest resolution I’ve ever done on a promo. Hopefully the people that receive them will feel the same sort of nervous excitement I had when I made them.

The Daily Edit: Tiny Atlas Update

- - The Daily Edit
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bag_11Tiny Atlas Quarterly


Founder/Creative Director: Emily Nathan
Photo Editor: Deb Hearey
Executive Editor: Jennifer Rodrigue.
Recent rebrand (new logo and Solas logo/branding): Mark Sloan who is also Director of Design at Chiat Day

 

Heidi: We know you are looking into different ways to support Tiny Atlas moving forward. If you were to start your business plan over, what would you have done differently?
Emily: Tiny Atlas is always evolving — we are constantly trying out different ways to bring revenue in. Our team is steeped in creative energy, so the challenge is the business side of TAQ – creating revenue and managing operations. Maybe I should have gone to B-school for an MBA? That would have helped! All joking aside, I’m not sure that we would do anything differently but we would definitely like to expand our relationships and find more like minded brands or entities that are a natural fit and make good partners. When we integrate well fitting partners, it’s very organic and helps the brand thrive versus being too commercial.  We’ve worked with travel destinations, properties, art galleries, art and craft fairs, and fashion brands.  Having more of these relationships to help underwrite the cost of printing another annual is something that would be very positive for us. In addition to the Solas bag with Alite Designs, we have recently teamed up with AllSwell Creative and Earth Missions to create our first  Tiny Atlas Adventure trips. We’re heading to Tofino, BC (October 6 -11 , 2016) and Tahiti (November 9 – 15) with local guides and the promise of lots of photo training opportunities and lots of water.  Not just for surfers, we’ve planned these for anyone who loves the ocean and arts, all levels are welcome.  Since TAQ is all about experience of place, we want to connect with like minded folks off our of screens, in real life, and are really looking forward to these trips.  We’d love to have a few “aphotoeditor” readers join us.
How did the bag idea come about and how did you determine your money goals?
Tae Kim of Alite Designs graciously designed a limited edition bag as a reward for TAQ’s first Kickstarter campaign we held to help fund the printed annual we published in 2013.  The bag was a great success, so we started talking about collaborating on another one. Since a good camera bag is hard to find, we focused on fulfilling that need. The revenue goal for the Solas Kickstarter has been to keep it low and reach it early, which we did.  This means, we will definitely be making the bag – yay! but the more pre-orders we receive, the less expensive the manufacturing becomes. This is important because we’re trying to generate a little profit in order to help move forward as a whole. At this point, it’s challenging to stay ahead of operating expenses, and we’re hoping to reach more people interested in supporting our campaign. If anyone is interested in Tiny Atlas, now is the time to express it!
Was your goal to create a stylish camera bag ?
Yes! Today, so many women are photographers and when you around, most bags are heavy, bulky and masculine.  Solas isn’t just for women but it’s designed with style (simple, easy) and comfort in mind.
What is the concept behind this particular bag and what makes it so different?
The idea was to make a bag we love that also hold a camera. No photographers I know love their camera bags. They put them in a corner and take them out when they need to. When they go out for the day, and don’t want to bring a camera bag, most people just defer to their phones now. Camera bags usually hold some very small non-pro something, or they are huge, bulky, and heavy to start with (or all of the above). We wanted to make something that was lightweight to begin with (since cameras add a lot of weight) but that would just carry what we really needed, which is one DSLR with a lens on it, and a second lens. That is it. Except then there are the things that go with your camera and your life for example, a laptop or a sweater. We designed Solas with the essentials in mind.  We made the right number of zippered pockets, and some padded zipper pockets for your phone and sunglasses or filters, a key leash, and a protective sleeve to store a laptop. I have been beta testing these bags with friends for a year and they’ve helped with R&D — we think we have the perfect balance of lightweight, durable and safely holds the gear we really need. [When I go to the airport, my id goes in the little zippered phone pocket on top, my laptop slips easily out and the camera stays safe in the integrated foam compartment at the base of the bag. If I have a bulky sweater, I use the leather buckle to expand the top section of the bag. ]
How did the relationship develop with Atlite Designs and why them?
When we created our first Kickstarter, Alite backed the project to support us because they liked what we were up to. Afterwards we connected with them to see if there was a project to collaborate on or some such. We put together our first #mytinyatlas show, #lovemytinyatlas, at their shop in the Mission, at the Alite Outpost. The call for entries was a wild success. Tae Kim, the founder of Alite, asked up if we wanted to make a  limited edition bag for the opening. We said, hell yes! Tae designed a really lovely bag, and my sister, Amy Nathan, who is a painter and illustrator, made a special print just for the bag, it was a great success.  Next, somehow, Tae and I started to talk about a  camera bag. We brought in photographers and went through a design process around how they carried their cameras and any issues they had. Then we made prototypes and tested them. I brought different prototypes on shoots with additional photographers to Baja, Hawaii, all over the US and Macao. Finally, we worked on color and the fabric. We wanted something natural and beautiful, but as light as possible.
Along with the online show you are having a show you have another show coming up next Thursday  Sept. 15th from 6-8pm as a preview for the new Independent Art Book Fair in Greenpoint. What are you goals for this and how do you see that supporting the magazine financially?
The September 15th show is bringing the #mytinyatlasSOLAS selections I made alongside curator Cory Jacobs to New York City. NYC has the largest percentage of the @tinyatlasquarterly Instagram community is the world (likely thanks to some nice early support from Design Sponge and Refinery 29 – thanks to both!) and we have not had a show in the city yet. I wanted to bring the beautiful work to the community that supports us. In addition, we will have the bags on hand so people can check them out in person before buying them online. The new fair has an incredible array of independent artists works, as well, so we are hoping to connect both our magazine and our bag with such a perfect audience.
#mytinyatlas has over 1.7 million posts, why do you think it has become viral?
I think #mytinyatlas became viral for a few reasons. One, it is a good name, and easy to write. Two, Tiny Atlas has not really been a commercial venture, so people felt comfortable adding our tag to their personal lives. The mission of the magazine (as a commercial endeavor) as well is to highlight personal stories. Tiny Atlas has a different perspective. We are not principally sharing images that look like postcards, or perceived “perfect” shots. We are looking for unique moments, and personal vision, just like in the magazine. The other reason is because I edit the tag. I am not an inexperienced starter employee, I’m an experienced photographer and editor which helps.

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@aquinnm Allison Quinn McCarthy

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@aquinnm Allison Quinn McCarthy

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 Kevin Mao @k_mao

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@mafyno Maria Fynsk Norup

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@moneal Michael O’Neal

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@potatopanda Tanya Doan

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@saltywings photographer @micgoetze Michael Goetze

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@twheat Tyson Wheatley

Your online show had 9K submissions. How did you go about photo editing that and how did you manage all that imagery?
It takes a lot of time; I look through them all and select the ones that resonate most. Then, I take screenshot and then upload the screenshots to a web gallery. We have tried ways to facilitate this online and there are not any tools that are faster than scrolling directly on instagram or on iconosquare and  taking screenshots. Then editing in Bridge. Adobe Creative Cloud is useful as well.