This Week In Photography Books: Lindsay Morris

by Jonathan Blaustein

My daughter is a spitfire. A wild-cat. A force of nature. She is genuinely fierce, and has tried to kick me in the face more times than I can count. (Luckily, I’m quick enough to dodge, and of course, she isn’t trying to hurt me. But she did tag my wife just last night.)

She also loves the color pink, and wears her Elsa-themed Disney princess dress as often as we’ll allow it. I’ve seen her in a tiara, and it’s cuter than a waterskiing squirrel. But she won’t let us put her hair in pig-tails.

Ever.

Honestly, like many a hetero-guy, I was frightened of having a daughter. I imagined future scenarios with boys at the door, waiting to take her out on the town. I was one of those boys, years ago. Their minds are not very complex, I’m afraid.

Once she was born, though, I realized that you take each day as it comes. We’re not yet 3 years in, and I’m eternally grateful that she wasn’t a boy, as it’s expanded my world immeasurably, learning to live with this head-strong, moody, gorgeous little blue-eyed girl.

And, on several occasions, I’ve wondered whether she’ll be interested in those boys that come to the door, or if she’ll prefer girls instead. I don’t mean to shock here. If I had to guess, I’d suspect she’s straight, like her brother and her parents.

But it’s 2015, and thankfully, most of us are comfortable with the idea of gender mutability and homosexuality. It’s cool with me that my little girl likes to wrestle and fight, in addition to playing with her dolls.

Who am I to judge?

It’s ironic, tragic, and a bit thrilling that we live in a country, and a world, that offers unprecedented rights for LGBT people, while concurrently, hordes still try to restrict their freedoms. It’s so of-the-moment to watch things evolve this quickly. (#YOLO)

Hell, I wrote a story for Lens in March, in which I profiled an artist who’d photographed Hijras in Bangladesh. Those are men who gender identify as women, and occupy a stratified position in the Muslim society. The article’s text was slightly amended, after a qualified commenter claimed I’d used improper gender nomenclature in my explication.

It doesn’t get more real time than that.

I’m always interested in the way photographers show us things we haven’t seen. Things that are relevant to the here and now. So it was inevitable that I’d want to review “You Are You,” a new monograph by Lindsay Morris, recently published by Keher Verlag in Germany.

And so I shall.

The key to the book sits on the cover, but I didn’t notice, as I opened it rather quickly. The first photos give the sense of a camp environment, but not much more. Picnic tables around a campfire. Lush green vegetation. An archery target affixed to a tree.

Then, after the title page, we’re treated to a visceral, and not-too-long poem by Victoria Redel, that describes a young boy with the courage to publicly acknowledge his love of glitter, and other “girly” things. It was a moving piece of writing, and then the next page, (the cover image I’d skipped past) shows what appears to be a short-haired boy, with a flower in his hair, frolicking with a gaggle of girls.

OK. I get it now. This is not just any summer camp. Interesting things are happening here, and I want to know more.

In each subsequent photo, I found myself scouring the images more carefully. Is that a boy? Could it be? What’s going on here? What’s the deal?

The pictures are uniformly well-made, and the sense of joy and play leaps off the page. I’ve been not-so-patiently awaiting summer, and this book made me want to bellow at the gods to make the good weather come that much sooner. (Or at least bellow at the fuzzy bunny staring at me, just outside the window, in case he has a direct line to Mother Nature. Make it warm, little bunny. Make it warm.)

There is a fair bit of text at the end of the book that gives us the context we’ve mostly guessed at. Ms. Morris spent several years visiting, and photographing, at Camp You Are You, which takes place over a weekend every summer. It allows “gender-nonconforming children and their families” a space to hang out together, play, and explore their identities collectively.

The end section features resources for people wanting more specific info, several essays, and testimonials directly from some of the parents. It’s a photo-book with the heart of a instructional pamphlet. Or maybe it’s both.

People like us, we’re the target market for this sort of publication. Open-minded, liberal, supportive. I’m sure some of you might break that stereotype, but creatives in general tend not to be small-minded homophobic racists. So this book might well be for you.

Personally, I’d be more curious to see the expression on someone’s face, someone who believes in denying others the freedom to be themselves. What might they say, while flipping through these pages? How much evidence of joy would it take to set them off, to fire up their anger? How many kids would they rather see cooped up inside an oppressive box?

Bottom Line: Excellent, positive, life-affirming look at a summer camp for gender-nonconforming children

To Purchase “You Are You” Visit Photo-Eye

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The Art of the Personal Project: Callie Lipkin

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: Callie Lipkin

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How long have you been shooting?
20 years
 
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Both – I studied art at Northwestern University and then at the University of Minnesota, but my training really comes from my years as a full time photojournalist. I always loved the storytelling aspect of photography so I was shooting documentary work at ‘art school’ but it was not incredibly well received. I was shooting long term projects on things like people with Huntington’s Disease and children diagnosed with ADD and that was not seen as much as an art form back then. My work was more warmly welcomed in the photojournalism world.
 
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it? 
I was inspired completely by the environment. I had driven by the barbershop a couple of times and decided to ask about doing a shoot there. I was just coming off of some more heavily produced tests and wanted to go in a totally different direction with a more traditional documentary approach which is more like the work I did when I first started as a photographer.
 
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
Some projects I have worked on for years, or months. This one in particular I shot in a matter of hours. Every project is different that way. Sometimes it’s good for me to do something without thinking about it at all. It’s a good creative exercise, which I enjoy. I developed the concept for the magazine mailer after shooting this project in order to have a fitting format to showcase how the pictures all work together.
 
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working? 
I usually know in an hour or two if something is not working. But I think the nature of my work is to keep pushing to solve a problem. I can’t remember shooting a project that went entirely into the scrap heap, at least not right away, but some might not be as developed as they need to be for a 12 or 16 page mailer. They all find their place somewhere – maybe on my website or blog, or in a treatment statement if it’s subject matter that applies to a particular proposal.
 
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Most of my work originates from personal projects since they are the place to try something new without any fear of failure. They almost have to be different from my existing work in order to continue to grow my personal style. Client work usually references personal work and is a place to perfect and fine tune what I started on my own time. I feel lucky that many of my commercial jobs come from clients seeing my personal projects, getting inspired, and wanting to use that inspiration as a jumping off point for their brand imagery.
 
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yes. Since we don’t get permission to post client work on social media all the time, personal projects are incredibly important to share in this way. It’s also a really great way to get instant feedback when I am working on or editing a project to gauge which images are connecting with people the way they are connecting with me.
 
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
I have had some press for my series of burlesque projects that spanned several years. If my work reaches people in my network and they feel moved or inspired by it in some way I am satisfied. If it reaches beyond that, it’s gravy.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes. I send out a publication titled Vault to current and prospective clients at least twice a year. I try to include some copy that gives the story or subject matter some context and it usually features a personal project. I got a great response to the printed piece for this collection from the Belmont Barbershop.
 
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Callie Lipkin is an authentic photographer. A look through her lens reveals a simple organic moment between photographer and subject. 20 years of shooting has given her a truthful eye, her images unfolding like the story of her subject revealing themselves a little more shot by shot. 

While an undergrad at Northwestern University, a fortuitous trip to China opened Callie’s eyes and her focus from a career in engineering to one in professional photography. Post graduation, Callie started her photography career in journalism, interning and working for several newspapers including the Beacon  News in Aurora and the prestigious Boston Globe where she worked side by side with POY and Pulitzer Prize winning photographers. In 2001, she found the newspaper business on shaky ground and decided to pursue a freelance career. Today, Callie has a long list of clients who benefit not only by the beautiful quality of her photos, but also from her passion and desire to get the best possible shot. Callie is known to set up a shot with a goal in mind then allow the process and interaction between the subjects to give it depth and character. 

“I like the problem solving aspect of photography, not knowing how we are going to execute something exactly, but giving it room to breathe and grow. The most interesting looking images I take are that way because they came about naturally, it’s a connection between who I’m shooting and their surroundings. I feel like there is the opportunity to learn something about the world, or about myself, almost every time I interact with someone new.” 

Callie’s been successful in her photographic style, winning several awards including 1st Place from AltPick in 2009 and having her 2014 Whirlpool campaign featured in Archive Magazine.  Callie lives in Chicago with her husband and their two sons, her greatest inspiration and favorite subjects. When Callie’s not shooting photographs she’s spending time with her family, playing piano (in which she is classically trained), running, and honing her cooking skills by creating healthy meals with her boys.  She is also available in her hometown of Minneapolis as a local and for travel worldwide.


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 – Emiliano Granado: T Magazine and Manual for Speed

- - The Daily Edit

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T Magazine

Photo Director: Nadia Vellam
Photo Editor: Caroline Hirsch
Photographer: Emiliano Granado

You can read the T Magazine article here

Heidi: I know this was your first time shooting with T Mag, how was it they had you on their radar? Had you been sending promos?
Emiliano: To be honest, I don’t know! I do send them promos, but I don’t think I was sending Caroline promos.

What were you doing in Argentina already? Do you often send notes to clients if you are traveling internationally
I was shooting a commercial job for 72andSunny. If I foresee having an extra day or two, I will definitely send a travel notice. Luckily, I’ve been busy enough lately that I don’t really have too many extra days.

What sort of direction did you get from the magazine?
They wanted photos of the artist at her studio and at her home. Details of both place and portraits of her in both places.

 Manual for Speed

ARG/USA- Founder, Director of Photography, Social Media: Emiliano Granado

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USA – Founder, Photographer, Writer: Daniel Wakefield Pasley

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Tell us about Manual for Speed’s Photo Annual, I know Manual for Speed started out as a personal project and PND covered your story last year.
The photo annual is a big deal for us! We’re finally putting digital pixels into the analog world, and it makes it feel real, all of a sudden. For the last four years, it’s felt like a digital side project. But it’s starting to feel more and more like a media property. We’re collaborating with artists, with designers, etc. We’re taking retail sales seriously. We’ve got plans for more printed material. It’s just getting bigger and bigger.

With that said, personal projects are great forms of marketing. And self-publishing is a great way to get those projects out. The most memorable images of my career are from projects that were self-initiated or where I invested more than the necessary to complete the job. If you can create emotional connections with your images, people will notice you. When things are slow, you have to create work for yourself. If you’re not constantly creating work, then you’re failing.

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When you first started doing MFS as a daily. What was the hardest aspect of publishing MFS?
Just the logistics of posting every day is gnarly. Photo edit, words, structure, quality, spelling errors. All that becomes gargantuan tasks when you’ve been running around all day and you have to wake up early the next morning.

Did you simply figure it out how to produce MFS as you went along ( publishing daily ) or did you have any prior experience?
Definitely no experience! We got a ‘publisher’ that receives all the images and words and puts it together neatly and creatively. That was by far the best thing we did.

Describe that moment when you realized this was about to get real.
There was never ONE absolute breakthrough moment. Instead, many small ones. A certain pro rider would tweet at us. They’d give us their personal phone number to get a hold of them. We’d get offers from strangers to sleep at their homes. We’d get recognized by strangers at races. People would send us loving emails out of the blue. Traffic would spike. Sales would spike. Major media people would say what a great job we’re doing, etc etc. Lots of little victories here and there.

What do you think was the single most important aspect to MFS’s success and what type of advice can you share for others wanting to pursue a personal project?
MFS has a unique voice. No one else is doing anything similar. A personal project should be exactly that – personal. Make it yours. Own it. Don’t do what you think the world wants to see. Just do you.

MFS’s coverage of the 2013 Giro d’italia drew your biggest traffic numbers to date and was the first time you guys started getting more mainstream attention. Were you surprised how much traction you got?
Yes. We had been doing MFS for a few years already and it wasn’t getting the attention we thought it should. The Giro was definitely the first big POP.

Had you ever published content on a daily basis? I gained a new found respect for daily online content. ( I had recently worked for Red Bull’s Sound Select division on  30 days in LA  and got up at 5:00 am for a month to edit and post, it was tremendously rewarding and relentless )
As I write this, I’m in a hotel room with two other MFS guys. We’re editing photos and concepting ideas and figuring out how best to execute tomorrows post. We won’t be done for a few hours. And then we’ll tweak the post in the morning while we’re in the car chasing the race around. It’s grueling and gnarly to publish daily. It is extremely rewarding though.

Where does your love of riding come from and how often do you ride?
It started as a means of transportation, but turned into an athletic endeavor. Riding is incredibly rewarding – you put in a physical effort and all of a sudden you’re going 25-30mph on two wheels. Its a great feeling. You can go as fast or as slow as you want, but it’s always fun to watch the landscape roll by. Unfortunately, I don’t have that much time to ride anymore. I commute everywhere on bike, but I’ve only been going on longer rides once a week if I’m lucky.


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How did the merchandising come about? Are you enjoying any success with it?
Merchandise was always a way to help pay the bills. Recently, we’re approaching merchandise as “retail as content.” That means everything we make has to be original artwork, thought out ideas, and it has to deliver on MFS’ worldview somehow. Slapping a logo on a tshirt is bullshit. We don’t want to make bullshit.

Aside from the photo annual, what’s next for MFS?
We’d like to continue publishing books. Smaller typology studies. Maybe some newsprint editions. Definitely a Photo Annual for 2015. More merchandise – lots of original jerseys and apparel coming this summer. Print sales. Interesting media partnerships with non-cycling media, etc.

For those of us with some serious bike lust, check this out, custom bikes
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The Daily Promo – Stephen Rose

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Who printed it?
The zine was printed by Shapco in Minnesota.

Who designed it?
I designed it and had some (mostly production) help from my friend Seth Zucker who is a really talented designer. He works on a lot of interesting art books and publishes some of his own under the name The Kingsboro Press.

Who edited it?
I edited the images.

How many did you make?
I made 500

How often to you send out promos?
This was never intended to be a promo piece. I made it in conjunction with an exhibition I had last year of the same name. It was a site specific show at a midcentury modern furniture gallery called Regeneration. The idea is that the obsessive nature of collecting devolves into a kind of sexual obsession.

I sent some out to art galleries and art magazines but never really thought about using it as a promo until recently. I thought at the very least it’s going to stand out!! Not your typical beautifully lit promo I guess.

 

This Week In Photography Books: Ken Schles

by Jonathan Blaustein

Some people party for fun. Others do it out of habit. Still others because it distracts from deep sorrow. Until they wake up the next day, with yet more to forget. (And more rotgut to swill.)

I don’t binge drink anymore. I don’t feel nostalgic for lost evenings stumbling around cities, the dark world vibrating before my eyes. I remember the feeling well, though, like a phantom limb.

But I don’t miss it.

At first, it was fun, as I was a “good boy” who never had the chance to rebel, as a youth. By the time I got around to it, I gave it my all, vomiting with regularity. Fighting too. And yelling. But it never turned me into the lothario I craved to be.

Realistically, I wouldn’t be the me I am today had I not made my share of mistakes. And I certainly had some good times. It’s a phase, for most of us, and then we grow out of it.

Like the 80’s.

I suppose the 70’s might quibble, but I think the 80’s were the most phase-like decade ever. Everyone was happy when it was over.

The end of the Disco era saw a New York awash in drugs, sex, and the diseases they spawned. Mostly AIDS, of course. But the city had not-yet-recovered from the dank 70’s, so it still appeared a ruin, in many ways. Pre-Internet, Pre-Guiliani, it really was Gotham.

I picked up on bits of the vibe, through the evening news, and on occasional trips into NYC with my folks, to catch a Broadway play or a baseball game. (That’s what the Bridge and Tunnel folks did.)

But my take is only tangential. Occasionally, you’ve got to go to the source to see, feel, or know what went down, all those years ago. Thankfully, we can do just that.

“Invisible City,” by Ken Schles, is a photo-book I’ve heard of many times, but never seen. Frankly, I didn’t have a clue what it was about. But it’s been re-released by Steidl, so now we all have the chance to flip through a touch-stone of the 80’s, New York City style.

The book doesn’t tell you it’s New York, and it doesn’t have to. The night time, the grime, the Brooklyn Bridge, they all conspire to let us know where we are. The decay of the city, the fashion, give us the time period. (As do the end notes, which inform us the book was originally released in 1988, designed by New Mexico’s own Jack Woody.)

At first, I was thrown, because the pictures are not uniformly excellent. They’re not the kind of photographs that make you envious of the artist’s talent.

The effect is more cumulative, as it should be, in a good book. Picture after picture is blurry. Grainy. The camera was constantly in motion, which is a damn good structural metaphor for a city that never sleeps. There is graffiti, and street lights, and a baby carriage standing, alone, in a creepy hallway.

Cafe Bustelo shows up twice, which proves these guys were keeping it real.

We see lots of drinking, but none of it emblematic of joy. It’s more the addiction variety, with women half-passed out on the toilet, or cross-eyed drunk in a restaurant. We sense a bohemian scene, not unlike Nan Goldin’s friends, but here it never coalesces into a redundant vision.

Motion, always motion.

There is a picture of two people copulating like animals in a ramshackle courtyard that was perfectly set up by a picture of pretty flowers overlooking a similar space. There are boobs, of course, because Boobs Sell Books℠.

Overall, we enter a space in time, and then we leave. I looked at it again, as soon as I was done, just to double-check that the world was there waiting for me, while the cover was closed.

There are excerpts from the kind of writers that give pictures like this high-level-intellectual-street-cred: Kafka, Baudrillard, Orwell. They were helpful and appropriate pieces of writing, but masked an important reality. Ideas, words, often take priority in a certain kind of art: the kind that alienates, and claims the high ground.

Pictures like this, though, speak to the gut. They isolate time from itself, which needs little philosophical underpinning. But I guess, if you’re going to make a classic book, backing up your ideas with heavyweights is never a bad call. (Duly noted.)

Bottom Line: A re-issued classic, straight outta the NYC 80’s

To Purchase “Invisible City” Visit Photo-Eye

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The Art of the Personal Project: Spencer Selvidge

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: Spencer Selvidge

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9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

9-Pin bowling in Blanco, Texas, at the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe.

How long have you been shooting?
I started around the age of 4. My Mom got me a toy camera that took the most awful photos. What you saw was not what you got.

When I was 19, I started to approach photography from a professional perspective rather than something I did while camping in Boy Scouts. For more than 10 years now, I’ve been making my living as a visual storyteller.  

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
It was a little bit of everything. I am self-taught on the technical side. Then some mentors in college guided me through basic photojournalism and I started to tell visual stories.

After college, I traveled to expand my portfolio and began probing with my photography to explore sense of place and controlling chaos with composition. Then a brief stint at a portrait studio proved not to be the path for me, so I went to graduate school for photojournalism to build a network and focus on how to approach my work.

The program was very much “build your own path.” I studied under three exceptional photo professors: Dennis Darling, Donna DeCesare, and Eli Reed. They couldn’t have been more different from one another: the lifetime artist, the consummate thinker, and the restless soul, respectively. But they are each passionately heartfelt and uncompromising documentarians. Without them, I wouldn’t have continually pushed further with this Texas 9-Pin project. They encouraged me to grasp the mental and personal aspects of photography in a deeper way, and it’s made all the difference in my success as a professional.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Texas 9-Pin began as an off-the-cuff mention from a professor in graduate school. I spent my first night at the Blanco Bowling Club and Café meeting a few of the regulars and making images for a class. I felt at home there immediately, and was encouraged by the warmth of a few bowlers. I love connecting with people while making images and this was the perfect situation for that. They reminded me of my grandparents: Americans of primarily German descent who were avid bowlers.

When this project came to me, I didn’t expect it to connect me with my family’s history. The sounds, smells, and family atmosphere pulled me in, reminding me of how present both bowling and photography were in my childhood. The inspiration to keep shooting grew with each visit.

Shooting “polaroids” is what elevated the whole project for me. It did two things: 1) The photos drew the subjects to come physically closer and open up to me. It allowed them to feel a part of the project because the photos existed in the analog world, not digitally. The nostalgia outweighed the fact that I was an outsider likely going to put them on the Internet. And 2) They brought the Texas 9-Pin project full circle from a class assignment initially to something deeply personal.

The story was about the collision of tradition and modernity, growth and change, age, etc. It was everything I was looking for. It stirred me emotionally in ways I only began to understand a year into covering it, when I finally started shooting with my Grandpa’s Polaroid cameras, a Land Camera 250. I hadn’t fully appreciated how my grandparents’ decades bowling and my Grandpa Herb’s cameras related to my love for people and social issues. The people I was connecting most strongly with, the older generations, gave me great perspective on just how much history our elders take with them.  They became living symbols of my grandparent’s love for bowling, something I had never experienced with them as an adult. And there I was documenting it with my own brand of photojournalism-styled snapshots with the very camera Grandpa used to document his family. Though he passed several years ago, it felt like I was creating new memories with him. The last 6 months became a torrent of peel-apart film.

Now, two and a half years since I was last shooting there, I think the project worked so well because it connected those mental and personal aspects of photography. It was a slice of my family’s past mixed with the social issue of modernity conflicting with tradition.

And the cheap beer from a fantastic local brewer in Blanco didn’t hurt either.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I spent a little over a year and a half on it until I felt like the project was ready… and I worked on it so long that it supplanted my original thesis idea and became my final report for my graduate degree. I’d love to do more someday. I think there’s a bigger story here.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I generally know within a few outings if a project is something I want to pursue. If it is working for me, a project will start to keep me awake at night. I am always competing with myself, thinking about how I will top the previous “best shot” or push myself further.

With Texas 9-Pin though, I knew it was special the first night but it took me nearly a year to start shooting with the Land Camera and the Fuji peel-apart film.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I actively try to make my personal work different and push my boundaries because being stagnant doesn’t lead to anything new or better. But, when it comes down to it, I feel like I am always just shooting to satisfy myself when I am working on a personal project.  It just so happens that I am rarely satisfied with individual outings or images so I push myself into new places. I think the work benefits from my internal competitive drive.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I have never made much effort to put my personal projects out on my social media pages. But, over the last few months I have become very aware that I can build audiences for my work and for the things I care about. Just last week I started organizing stories and images to start sharing regularly.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press? Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Never. I send the occasional email or update but I know I am too timid about self-promotion in general.

BIO
Spencer Selvidge is a freelance photojournalist based in Austin, Texas, who specializes in visual storytelling with sound, video and stills. A native of St. Louis, MO, he took his first photos at the age of 4 and spent many weekends throughout his childhood selling newspapers for the family business and taking pictures in Boy Scouts.

He is originally a self-taught photographer and first cultivated his skills while earning his degree in biology at Texas A&M University. A while later, Spencer returned to school and completed a masters degree in photojournalism at the University of Texas at Austin. He has traveled extensively with the aim to explore cultures and issues around the world as well as at home. Spencer is enthralled with and devoted to respectfully and ethically capturing the individual essence of his subjects and stories – especially when he can shed light on and help create awareness about important issues.

ARTIST STATEMENT
Texas 9-Pin Bowling — Like photography, bowling had been a regular family event when I was growing up, and the sounds of pins crashing, the smell of the diner food, the patina of years of Texas heat and cigarette smoke, as well as the family atmosphere, pulled me in to this project.

Documenting the survival of this cultural oddity known as bowling, was important to Texas and bowling history as well as my own personal connections to my family.

Ninepin bowling was originally an outdoor game brought by European settlers to the United States but largely outlawed by the 1930s. Today, a version of it survives as a cultural relic in the small German-heritage enclaves of Central Texas thanks to tradition and family values. In most of the country, bowling alleys were places filled with men drinking and gambling, so states and counties outlawed it wholesale. The crime term, “Kingpin,” is one of ninepin’s lasting legacies, and is derived from the special middle pin used in the ninepin game. This is why the ten-pinned game most Americans play today exists, to skirt laws that banned the previous version of the game–but not in small Central Texas towns.

Here, the game was never outlawed because it was a team sport, unlike its newer cousin, that was often a post-church or after-dinner family affair in small towns. Texas’ version of ninepin bowling, still played in similar forms in New England and internationally, has 17 or 18 alleys spread over four mostly rural counties in Texas’ Hill Country.

The Blanco Bowling Club has survived decades of declining membership and annual shoestring budgets, and faces real challenges to maintain relevance in an ever-evolving world of technology, activities, entertainment and, sometimes, economic uncertainty. The club, and to some extent the town itself, is and has been under a quiet assault from the modern world for decades while some residents do their best to hold on to what was and hope for a future that includes old traditions.

You can read my master’s report here, to see more and learn about how ninepin is different, the 2000+ year history of bowling and why ninepin has managed to survive in Central Texas.


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.

Licensing Images In Perpetuity Is A Huge Mistake

A reader sent me the following email:

I don’t mean to sound critical of your efforts to inform young photographers of proper business practices by publishing estimates like this one: http://aphotoeditor.com/2015/04/22/pricing-negotiating-studio-portraits-for-a-pharmaceutical-manufacturer/. It’s an important and useful service but, for the sake of myself and my fellow photographers who have to fight the tendency of clients to want more and more rights for less and less money, I have to point out that the licensing of these images in perpetuity without additional fees is a huge mistake and a terrible precedent to set. I have photographed numerous jobs very similar to the one you describe below. My terms, which I have negotiated without the benefit of a rep usually include significant fees to for re-use after one or two years. I am often able to double my fees this way and have not received resistance to that from pharma agencies despite the supposedly humble nature of a very profitable area of business.

This estimate, which gives a lot of rights away for nothing, may well make your photographers popular. Unfortunately, they will probably never own a home, send their kids to college, have decent medical care, or be able to ever retire – some pretty basic expectations, I think. Most responsible reps would agree that one has to make an concerted effort not to give away too much too easily, even in this ultra competitive environment. We have no union to protect us, just common business sense. Giving rights in perpetuity away for free is sort of like “feeding the animals” – they come to expect it.

Here’s an estimate from a similar type of shoot that was three day video and still shoot with a pre-light day.My producer and I planned the shoot out very carefully, provided the client with a lot of great still and video images, and we all worked our asses off for four long days. Most importantly you will also see that I made an additional $14,600 two years after that shoot. That was for another two years of usage and I am eligible to be paid again at the end of those two years. I think that the Wonderful Machine estimate is doing a real disservice to photographers by suggesting that it is fair and necessary to give such broad usage rights away for so little.

I hope this is helpful to you and our fellow photographers. I don’t consider myself a tough negotiator but I estimated this without the benefit of a rep. Any rep will tell you that a certain amount of intelligently applied resistance to client’s pricing pressure is the only way to stay in business. I realize that the photographer described by Wonderful Machine is “up and coming” but that degree of lowballing is terribly shortsighted and even desperate feeling. His fees are way too low when you consider the amount of time and talent required, the associated expenses and responsibilities, and the amount of usage by the pharma industry.

Neat Receipt-$3,400.00 Cash Transportation

Neat Receipt-$14.60 Cash Utilities

The Daily Edit – Celebrity Impersonators: John Hryniuk

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John Hryniuk: Celebrity Impersonators

Heidi: Where did this idea come from considering you don’t live near Hollywood?
John: The idea of photographing impersonators came from doing one on one portraits with real celebrities at the Toronto International Film Festival. Unfortunately you get about 3 minutes in a boring hotel room. You can’t really be very creative in that amount of time.

How much time do you typically get with them?
About five years ago I though it would be really interesting to photograph impersonators because they give you all the time you need. I thought if I had the real person in front of me how would I photograph them? The other great thing with impersonators is there usually are no cranky egos to deal with. They are pretty much willing to do anything you’d like except something that would portray the celebrity they’re impersonating in a bad light.

Are you shooting these while on other jobs?
No, every year I take time off to travel and shoot the projects I want to work on. There isn’t any pressure or expectations from art directors or clients. Its about having fun. I call it a working vacation. I discovered its really important as a professional photographer to work on your own personal projects. You have to make the time to shoot things for yourself otherwise you will burn out.

How do you choose the characters and where do you find them?
In terms of casting its easiest to attend their yearly conventions in Las Vegas and Florida etc. I usually choose the most realistic looking ones, here some of the places I’ve found people.

The Annual Celebrity Impersonators Convention Las Vegas , on linkedin,  you tube, another convention in Las Vegas

How long has this series been in play?
The series is still an ongoing project. I think I will probably search out individuals and attend a few more meetings before it will be complete. The impersonators all do this part time or full time for a living. Which makes it even more interesting for me. I don’t only love photographing people but also finding out all about them when I do. There is also something about photographing in the United States that find unique than any other place in the world. The culture lends itself well to this kind of project. It is very different from Toronto, Canada where I live as its much more conservative.

A few times while working on this project I felt like I was on a TV reality show. I asked the boy who was impersonating Elvis why he was doing it he hesitated for a moment and responded: “ Because my mom made me. “

The Daily Promo: Elizabeth Weinberg

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Who printed it?
Smartpress in Chanhassen, MN. I have used them for several years.

Who designed it?
Me!

Who edited the images?
Me!

How many did you make?
650.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I do at least one large mailer per year and fill in the gaps with some postcards.

 Tell me about your design process
At first the cover was just going to be just white with the title and no photo, as I always have a hard time editing for that one cover shot. I got the plain-covered hard proof back and then decided to instead use a photograph that would look good very cropped in. In the photo, the boy’s hair is flying, giving the viewer a sense of movement, but leaves the rest open to interpretation. It’s all about making the person holding the book want to open it up.

Once the images were laid out, I felt it looked a bit too plain, so I added a geometric element to guide the eye through each page. Each section of the booklet has its own line, and each line was a color that I decided would best represent the series of images. The different colored lines were all aligned chronologically on the first page of the book, sort of like a symbolic table of contents.

 

This Week In Photography Books: Christopher Williams

by Jonathan Blaustein

The strangest thing happened to me yesterday. I was chatting with a neighbor while photographing his Apache sweat lodge. (Long story.) We’d met for the first time the day before, so I was making small talk about our little valley.

I asked him if he’d seen the pair of golden eagles that lived around here, and often roosted in the tall cottonwoods near the stream.

He said he had no idea there were a pair of golden eagles around here. His tone was dubious. Then he mentioned that there WERE a couple of red-tailed hawks living in the canyon, but of course that was something else entirely.

It was the third time in as many weeks that someone had told me my eagles were hawks. The first two times, I shrugged it of as misinformation. But yesterday? I realized I might have been the one mistaken.

So I ran home and hit up my trusty friend Google. My heart sank. My favorite birds, the one’s from whom I’d learned so much, were not eagles… but hawks.

Should it matter?

The birds are no less beautiful. Or majestic. Their hunting prowess no flimsier, nor their stupefying ability to soar through the air without seeming to move at all.

So what was the problem? In my mind, they were eagles: rarer and more special than common hawks. I identified with them as being the kings of the sky. That they lived in my yard made me feel special. I told many people about my eagles.

But they were never eagles. At least, not outside my own mind. They nested inside my expectations, and laid eggs that gave me courage and confidence.

And now?

Now, I have to get over myself. I’m still freakishly lucky to live in a place where I get to watch red-tailed hawks circle over my yard on a near-daily basis. The fact that I’m even conflicted about this says quite a bit about my ridiculous character.

But expectations are powerful things, even if they don’t have a tangible presence. Take books, for example. We “expect” them to make sense. To tell a story. To inform us of their meaning, at some point, before we cease to flip the pages.

That’s their job. To tell us stuff, either in pictures, words, or both.

But what if you found a book that absolutely refused to bow to convention? That reveled in fucking with your head, while simultaneously depicting a set of images made during an artist’s career?

What would you think about that?

I’m glad you asked. Because I just finished looking at a red monograph of work by the conceptual photography/art star Christopher Williams, and I’m still scratching my head.

I knew it was his book, because photo-eye had affixed a tag that said Christopher Williams, printed in Germany, $120. That’s all I got, even after looking at the whole book. (Though the “Printed in Germany” did appear at the end of the book too, on an insert, which was a tad reassuring. That they knew how to print words at all, that is.)

I would have figured out it was his book, had I not known, because I’ve seen some of his seminal images before. They’re always inscrutable. Pictures of cameras, deconstructed. Cars, tipped like cows in a pasture. Models, obviously on set, with color bars in the frame. Corn in the husk.

I’ve read a bit about him in the past, and know there are strong motivations behind the work. Big ideas. Political, even. But you’re never going to suss that out just by looking at the pictures. I’m a bright guy, and I wouldn’t even know where to start.

But start I did, and the first handful of pages in the book are red. Like, red red. Bright red. Cherry red. Coca Cola red.

There’s no name on the cover. When you finally find a photo, on a white page, it’s a piece of yellow foam wrapped into a sculptural form. The kind you might put upon your child’s bed to make it softer. (My son was praising his yellow-bed-foam just yesterday, coincidentally.)

That picture repeats later. As do others. There are seemingly African workers in front of a Heidelberg printing press. Some images, of apples, run off the page, and reference the printing process. That, I can say with confidence.

There is one picture of boobs, that repeats, because, as we all know, Boobs Sell Books℠.

Random repeating images. Lots and lots of red pages. No words. Pictures that are odd, and perhaps discomfiting. Maybe a little hypnotic. But they give you nothing concrete.

It’s like the whole book is the spawn of a mad scientist who had sex with a bespectacled artist. It only makes you angry if you think you’re supposed to get it.

But what if you don’t try to get it? What if there’s nothing to get? The world is a messy place, as I wrote last week. Logic and reason exist, but so do chaos and terror. Money rules the day, and it always has. (Though it might have taken the form of salt, gold, oil or jewels.)

When I was done, I practically chuckled at the chutzpah it takes to make a book with no words. There’s even an insert at the end, the type that typically contains an essay or two. Maybe an artist’s exhibition history?

Nope. It was blank. Only red.

Like the look on your face, perhaps, while you’re reading this. Will you like this book? I don’t know. But I think it’s awesome, because it undercuts almost every sane idea about how to make a photo-book.

And all that red made me realize my red-tailed hawks are perfect, just as they are. What’s in a name, anyway?

Bottom Line: Inscrutable, almost offensively strange, yet perfectly awesome book by a brainy art star

To Purchase “Printed In Germany” Visit Photo-Eye

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The Art of the Personal Project: Vincent Dixon

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects. A personal project is the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director/photo editor or graphic designer. This blog thread is to feature the personal projects of photographers who advertise in LeBook. You can find him here: http://www.lebook.com/vincentdixon Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Vincent Dixon

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How long have you been shooting?
Professionally, about 20 years. I was seldom without a camera for about eight years before that so twenty-eight in total.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self-taught.

In my early twenties, I moved from Ireland, to France. I was a post-grad science student in Paris and discovered the street photography of Cartier-Bresson, Eugene Smith and Andre Kertész. I became friends with Justin Creedy Smith, Peter Lindbergh’s assistant at the time, and that fueled my interest in photography. As soon as I finished my Ph.D., I did an internship at a photo studio for about two months, and then over a two-year period, I assisted the fashion photographer, Steve Anderson.  That’s where I learned the basics, like how to expose film. Then I worked as a producer for a couple years. So most of my training has been on-the-job training in terms of photography.

For example, before I shot my first major advertising assignment, the Absolut Vodka “Cities of Europe” campaign, I really had never used a 4×5 camera. I took a photo assistant for the first photo. After that I shot the rest of the campaign with just the Art Director, Pascale Gayraud. No producer, no assistant, just the two of us. It was quite an adventure. I spent about a week looking at locations and then about three or four days shooting on each photo.  That was my school.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
In 2011, I took a sabbatical from commercial photography and went on a yearlong journey around the world with my wife and four children. It was priceless share many new experiences with my family, as well as a time to submerge myself in creating photo-essays of our travels away from the confines of a working schedule.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I started showing it pretty much immediately. From the road, I regularly sent friends a “Picture of the Day”.  And then a selection debuted as part of a self-published magazine called “Wanderings” which had several stories from the year traveling and the Pushkar Portraits.  Also from that magazine, Lisa Matthews, Managing Art Producer at Team One, curated her favorite images for a showing at their agency in Los Angeles.

Wanderings on-line: http://vincentdixon.com/wanderings/

And a little clip on the making-of: http://vincentdixon.tumblr.com/post/73353102298/a-behind-the-scenes-look-of-the-printing-to

It was a great to see the prints framed and hanging at Team One: http://vincentdixon.tumblr.com/post/73361107847/gallery-show-at-team-one

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I am shooting pretty much continually and thinking about projects most of the time. I’m also looking back at work I did, some of it over twenty years ago. I think what changes is our definition of “Is it working”?

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Lucky for me, most of my commercial work is informed by my attraction to street photography — meaning I always try to make photos that have the spontaneity of reportage despite their construction.  So when I’m shooting for myself, I really just go for projects that interest me and hope that maybe they will resonate with a wider audience. If they do, great, and if they don’t, well, I was just shooting for myself and that is an end in itself. You never know, maybe they will have an audience later or maybe they don’t deserve one.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I’m not as good at this as I should be, one of my intentions for 2015 is to do more social media, it is a wonderful way to share your work.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
I worked on a portrait project for The Mimi Foundation in Belgium last year https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMWU8dEKwXw and the video of the project got 15 million hits on Youtube in two weeks that really changed my way of looking at media and the way we present projects.

Here is a promo we’ve recently completed where we used a video instead of a printed piece. https://vimeo.com/117510349. I really enjoyed making this with my friend and editor Stuart Radford.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes Wanderings Vol. 1 that I spoke about above was such an effort. https://vimeo.com/84136488

We are also honored to have it featured by Danielle Currier over on her “No Plastic Sleeves” blog:  http://blog.noplasticsleeves.com/sharing-personal-work-vincent-dixon/

This is what I said about The Pushkar portraits in Wanderings

Pushkar Camel Festival 2012:
A year ago I came to Pushkar with my family during the annual Camel festival that is held every November at the time of the Kartic Purnima full moon. Villagers, traders and famers come from all over Rajasthan to trade up to 20 000 camels and horses. It is also one of the five Dhrams or pilgrimages that is held in high esteem by Hindus and holds the only temple to Brahma in India. This was one of our first stops in India and I was completely blown away by the exoticism of it all. It is a photographer’s dream. That in itself can become a problem. You are quickly exhausted by the intensity of the colors, the crowds, the endless possibilities, strange as it might seem because there is so much to do your brain can lock down. I think that it took me a year to absorb all I had seen.

Coming back I needed to try something different. Last year I travelled light with just small cameras. This time I brought bigger cameras and lights. There were a number of reasons I wanted to do this. First I am fascinated by how the camera itself affects the photo we take, how for example bigger cameras can slow us down and perhaps force us to take a more studied photo. The Rajasthani are incredibly handsome, the detail of their clothes and jewelry are remarkable, they have an eye for color and form that few possess. I wanted my portraits to reflect this. On a photographic level I needed the precision and care that these tools bring to try capture the subject.

Inspired by Irving Penn’s “World In A Small Room” I set up a small studio at the camel fair. On Monday when I got to Pushkar I found a large tent and rented it for a few days. It wasn’t ideal, it had green netting on the sides and the roof was full of holes that created green shadows and these hot spots. I had some cotton cloth died black that night. It took most of Tuesday morning to get things set up. Here are some of the photos that I took Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday.

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Born and raised in Kilkenny, Ireland, Vincent relocated to France in his early twenties.  Shortly after earning his PhD in Molecular Biology from the Institut Jacques Monod, Paris, he embarked on his photographic career.  As a result of his ability to make images that merged photorealism with surrealism, he was quickly awarded top advertising campaigns including Absolut and Perrier.  Those highly visible assignments helped cement his photographic reputation throughout Europe and later in North America; making him the go-to for many agencies and their ideas.

Along the way, Dixon’s work has won many advertising awards from organizations such as:  The Art Director’s Club; Gold, Silver & Bronze Cannes Lions, Gold, Silver and Bronze Clio’s, New York Festivals International’s Advertising Awards for Design, International ANDY Awards, One Show, D&AD Silver Pencil, International Advertising Festival, The Epical Awards, the French Art Director’s Club, Grand Prix Strategies, Grand Prix de L’Affichage and the London International Awards.

Photo awards have come from Communication Arts, PDN, Lucie Awards Advertising Photography of the Year, American Photo Contest Advertising Image of the Year, PDN Pix Digital Imaging Annual and featured in Luerzer’s 200 Best Advertising Photographers Worldwide.

Dixon’s clients include Absolut, Adidas, Axe, Dow, Coca Cola, General Electric, Jameson, Mercedes, Nissan, Playstation, Pepsi, Schick, Sony, Toyota, Visa and Virgin Media.

Vincent currently resides in Philadelphia with his wife and four children.


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.

Introducing Photographers Quarterly

Photographers Quarterly is a new online magazine edited by Jonathan Blaustein and designed by myself, that gives us an opportunity to to show portfolios and make something purely about the photography. And of course, being an online magazine, we can do whatever the hell we want with it, which I love.

You’ll find the first issue to be a great mix of familiar and not-so-familiar names, but consistently high quality pictures. I’m excited to see what Jonathan comes up with each quarter, but please enjoy the inaugural spring issue of Photographers Quarterly featuring the work of Roger Ballen, Valery Rizzo, John Gossage, Maija Tammi, Tabitha Soren and Robbe Vandegehuchte De La Port:

http://photographersquarterly.com

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The Daily Edit – Kyle Johnson: AFAR

- - The Daily Edit

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Creative Director: Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson
Director of Photography: Tara Guertin
Photographer: Kyle Johnson

 

How did you get those amazing aerial shots?
I ended up taking a helicopter tour of Kauai, knowing it would be the most amazing way to see and photograph the island from a unique perspective. I specifically found a company that offered a doorless chopper to get the best photos I could. The experience was incredible and terrifying at the same time. I honestly found that looking through my lens made it feel less “real” but every time I would set my camera down I started freaking out. The pilot gets down within the canyons and directly over the rocky cliffs or huge ocean swells. Its really a surreal way see the crazy diverse mix of landscapes on such a small island.

What was your approach to this shoot, did you have a shot list?
I approached this shoot similar to any editorial project I shoot. I definitely come in excited with some initial ideas and knowing the magazines specific needs. I always leave room however for exploration and spontaneous shots as well…Always turn down every road that looks interesting, dont hesitate to talk with locals, etc…

With this being a big feature, we definitely talked about the shoot a lot before hand and went into it with a Shot List. I had never been to Kauai previously. Being brand new to an area is always a great advantage for me photography wise. Everything is new and exciting and none of the little details get missed or overlooked. With a place this incredible I know there is bound to be almost too many good small details. I did try to stay within the vein of the story though. With it being a story for their Food Issue, the specific dishes had to be chosen and bringing any necessary lighting/plates/etc.. was also planned ahead of time. Shooting food at night almost always needs to be lit. I wanted to light it yet have it still feeling fitting to the story that was mostly shot outdoors & natural.

Did you know the writer on this project?
I have yet to meet Chris personally however he also wrote the one other travel story I have shot for AFAR earlier last year. After that story (about Oregon Coastal foragers) he reached out to me via email expressing he loved how the story turned out. We have corresponded a few times and I hope to collaborate with him again. I think my aesthetic is a good fit for his stories and we definitely have a mutual respect. I was stoked to find out he was writing the Kauai piece.

What sort of direction did you get from the magazine?
The creative director Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson & Photo Director Tara Guertin are both amazing people. AFAR does a great job of planning, producing and scheduling yet also letting the photographer find your own vision and tell the story as you see it and experience it. They both had great ideas going into the shoot on locations, aesthetic, and other details. Elizabeth actually joined me during the food shoots and helped with specific plate styling. Its great to collaborate with people who are just as passionate and whose aesthetics and curation I respect.

Whose idea was it to ride a bike off the pier?
Technically Jim was only diving off the pier…not riding a bike off of it but he did have damn good form. I might of mis-worded that about the bike. He rode his cruiser bike onto the pier and then dove off a few times for us. I was taking some more classic environmental portraits at his restaurant Bar Acuda. We were pretty much finished up and he asked if we needed anything else. I mentioned “not unless you wanna go dive off the Hanalei Pier”. He answered right away “sure!” This made for more for some way more natural and cool shots of him. He truly is in his element on the island.  (2 outtakes attached)

How was the food at Bar Acuda?
The food we had was awesome! You can really tell Jim uses the best local ingredients possible. Weekly trips to the farmers market/fish markets and sourcing as many things as he can that way. The islands climate can grow almost anything. As simple as it was the Local North Shore honeycomb with Humboldt Fog goat cheese and apple was one of my favorite things we tried. That honey smells and tastes like the islands flowers. I also have only good things to say about any of the sea food they serve. Seared Ono was especially memorable.

What made this story different from your other travel assignments?
This was a dream job! 100 percent. I have shot a lot of travel related stories around the Northwest where I live but I had never yet traveled somewhere so exotic and breathtaking for travel work. I think knowing it was a big feature and a huge opportunity pushed me to work harder than ever before. I was up before sunrise every day and really made the most of every minute on the island. Without sounding super cheesy, it really affirmed how much I love my job. Its a ton of work on a travel story. Running around hitting so many places but its always the most fun and exciting. Especially being somewhere you have never been and knowing the photos are going to accompany a great travel writers story. I don’t think I have ever been more excited to get home and scan through film/files than on this story.

How many shots did you get of the ocean before you got that beautiful opener?
Surprisingly not many. It was only our first morning of shooting..(we arrived the previous afternoon). My assistant Ron Harroll & I got up before dawn and just started driving around looking for interesting views and landscapes in the morning light. It wasn’t even a particularly scenic beach  but we noticed the waves/water looked good in that light and we pulled over for a few quick shots. It ended up making a great opener.

The Daily Promo – Rebecca Cabage

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Who printed it?
I had them printed at The Paper Chase Press,  they came highly recommended from a long time agent friend.

Who designed it?
I designed the promos myself.

I see you added a touch of gold to the promo.
Yes, the gold is to represent honey and it’s thick card stock, so the sides of the cards have gold on them.

Who edited the images?
I edited the images with the intent of it telling a good story, like an editorial piece would. I wanted a close up of the honeybee so that you could identify with, and personalize the bee. Each image after pulled back a little more until it ultimately reveals the full story of the beekeeper. Here’s the complete gallery and written story.

How many did you make?
I did a total of 180 cards, and sent them out in pairs of 3, so 60 total.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This was my first batch of promos to go out. Prior to this year, I was working full time at a studio, as the Director of Bookings, and was shooting on weekends and in my off hours, and didn’t have time to pursue additional work. I’m now 100% percent focused and plan to send out promos 3 times a year.

I recall seeing a remarkable video at one of SPD’s Unsung Heroes;  Mathieu Young presented you.
It was a pleasant surprise to see that along with being a successful Director of Bookings, you were also a talented photographer with a deep interest in environmental awareness.

This Week In Photography Books: Michael Danner

by Jonathan Blaustein

Life in the 21st Century is a futile attempt to answer a set of unanswerable questions. (I’m sorry for the downer, but it’s true.) We’re faced with existential problems that lack easy, digestible solutions.

And yet, we persevere.

How do we reconcile the fact that we are not-so-slowly killing the Earth, but many of the radical things we might do to arrest the changes would likely slow our economy? Which would impact our competitiveness as a nation. And perhaps lead to unrest.

Of course, many people with the political power to enact change, here in the United States, don’t actually believe in science. Or at least they publicly disavow accrued knowledge, so that it doesn’t impede the steady progression of corporate cash into their campaign finance accounts.

I’m not nearly as cynical as it might appear, but honestly, it’s hard to see how we’re going to solve our environmental problems. Because they are inextricably linked to money, and as we all know, cash is king.

Even if, by some miracle, a corporation invents a device that scrubs carbon from the sky, how much do you think they’ll charge for that machine? Can you imagine? Rich countries get to “buy” a cleaner environment, and little Third World backwaters will be shit out of luck.

And yet, we persevere.

I’m musing, mostly because it’s Earth Day today. (We should all wear green, I’d think, but St. Patrick’s Day got there first.) But also because I just opened up “Critical Mass,” a book by German photographer Michael Danner, recently published by Keher Verlag.

This book falls squarely in the category of experiential, which my regular readers know is one of my favorite types of photobook. The pictures within are not drop-dead amazing, but they don’t need to be. Their formal structure screams German, as does the methodical nature of the project.

Mr. Danner photographed in 17 nuclear power facilities in Germany, and brought the results back out in a haz mat suit, I’d imagine. Of course, I thought of Homer Simpson, at times, and once of Thomas Demand’s amazing “Control Room,” but other than that, this book felt fresh to me.

It opens with a set of black and white archival images, which refer to protests in the past. I assume it’s protests against nuclear power plants, but there is no text in the beginning to corroborate. (That comes at the end.)

From there, we enter a world of color, though much of the exterior reality is drained of vibrance. Then we head to the entrances to the facilities. At that point, we realize that the book is segmented into “chapters,” which offer the repetition of showing us the same thing at different plants. (I couldn’t do it justice in the photos below, as I have spatial constraints.)

The entrance gates. The locker rooms. The haz mat suits. The cafeterias. The conference rooms. The gym. The gym?

We can imagine some nameless drone walking through the turnstiles, clocking in, grabbing a presumably free currywurst, changing in the locker room, suiting up, and then going about a “routine” that carries with it the risk of melting down a whole region of a prosperous country, and potentially polluting the air of an entire continent.

(Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Nuclear power provides near-boundless energy, without polluting the air, but the waste is beyond toxic. The Fukushima disaster, and Chernobyl before it, remind us that the economic cost of the megawatts can exceed what is written in a profit-loss ledger.

Do we have a choice about Nuclear Power? Or is it a necessity?
I have no idea. As I said at the outset, these questions bely easy answers.

Back to the book, and we finally move along the vent tubes into the reactors. Industrial-looking behemoths. How do they work? Fuck if I know. Uranium? Plutonium? The methane from aggregated rhino farts?

From there, we enter the bowels of the facilities. One long, dark tunnel after another. This was my favorite part, because the imagery was visceral and striking, as opposed to much of the book, which was clinical and intelligent, but not dynamic.

We finish with a bookended set of archival pictures of protests from back in the 20th C. An era when most people thought the Earth’s resources were limitless, and our political rivalries binary. Us or them. Capitalist or Communist. Good or bad. Black or white. Life or Death.

Bottom Line: A methodical, experiential look inside German nuclear power plants

To Purchase visit http://dannercriticalmass.com

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Andrew Hetherington Interview

Jonathan Blaustein: You’re from Ireland. Is that right?

Andrew Hetherington: Correct. Yes.

JB: How far does a good accent take you?

AH: Good question. It certainly helped get my foot in the door and I have certainly laid it on thick at times to break the ice. Then sprinkle some irony, sarcasm and charm on top for the full Irish effect.

One has to use what one has. You know?

JB: Don’t hate the playa, hate the game. Right?

AH: We wouldn’t say that in Ireland. But…I guess, yeah.

JB: (laughing) There’s the sarcasm. I guess. Whatever.

AH: Let’s face it. It is partly a game, and how you choose to play it. I think you’ve got to use all the tools in the arsenal. Do you need to take good photographs? Absolutely, but what else sets you apart from the pack?

I recently photographed Conor McGregor the mixed martial arts fighter aka The Notorious AKA from Dublin here in New York for Esquire magazine. We hadn’t met before but he knew where I was from as soon as I spoke my first word. I said off the bat that I was a shite photographer and the only reason I was on the shoot was that I was Irish. Ice broken.

Doesn’t matter to me whether I am photographing a celebrity, a person in the street or a slice of bread I try to be as genuine and sincere as possible.

JB: You could not have set me up more perfectly for the next question. You used the word arsenal, I’m curious as to whether you’d agree that Arsenal Football Club are likely to beat the pants off of Liverpool this upcoming Saturday?

AH: I have a funny feeling they will, yes. They are the form team and we are lacking in world class players like Ozil and Sanchez in the middle of the park. So I expect us to get well-beaten, although secretly I hope we will win. Being a Liverpool supporter, naturally.

JB: That was not the answer I was expecting. The guy I interviewed last week (Dewi Lewis) was a Manchester United fan, and he was such a homer, he defended them to the death under all circumstances. So I thought I was going to get your goat, but instead, you were honest.

AH: Well, we are having a mixed season. The usual highs and lows. I’m very much a realist. We haven’t played particularly well against the big clubs. If we’d beaten Manchester United the weekend before last, I was hopeful we would make a charge for a Top 4 spot, but I don’t think we’ll get there. We are looking at 5th, and Tottenham and Southampton are nipping at our heels.

The dreamer in me thinks we can win the whole thing of course. I photographed the Liverpool owner, John Henry, right before the end of last season. We were both really optimistic, believing that we would do it. He hit me with some statistics he had run, being a statistically-minded owner, saying that we had a really good percentage chance of winning the league title. The shoot was right after the Manchester City game and the day after the Hillsborough documentary aired on ESPN. It was a very emotional session that one.

JB: Isn’t that the beauty of sports, no matter how you crunch the numbers, there’s no algorithm that can predict that Steven Gerard’s going to slip, or lose his mind and get red carded against Manchester United.

The two defining moments of the last 8 months of Liverpool football could not have been predicted by a computer on Earth. Isn’t that crazy?

AH: Yes, it’s a funny old game as the saying goes. Both events were gut wrenching. I couldn’t look at the UTD game. Already dreaming about next season at this stage.

JB: I only know you’re a Liverpool fan because I watched a video on your website called “Meet the Hetheringtons.” It’s awesome, and everyone who reads this interview should go watch it now.

Did you direct it? Who was the official “maker” of this video, which inter-spliced interviews with you and Tim Hetherington? Was that your baby, or collaborative?

AH: That was my idea. I’d always known of Tim.

One hoped that one was the only “Hetherington” photographer. If there were 20 Andrew Hetheringtons, how do you differentiate yourself from one another?

So I remember seeing Tim’s name in “Vanity Fair,” when I was getting my thing going, and just being in awe of his talent. Early on, in the first couple of years that I was getting into American photography, it was always alphabetical, so I would be before him.

I’d have some portrait, and Tim would have some Earth-shatteringly brilliant picture from Afghanistan, or whatever. It was inevitable we would meet one day, and the opportunity came at the New York Photo Festival, when that was going strong. We were introduced by a mutual friend, Jon Levy, who was at Foto8 at the time.

I had no idea what to expect. And then it turns out he’s literally larger then life in person, tall, handsome, engaging. The complete package. And I’m bald, and 5’8″.

He was the sweetest, most generous charismatic life force, and I figured I had to do something fun with him for the blog so the idea of the video popped into my head. He was totally game and on board, up for some fun. I shot video of him answering the questions. Through our conversation, we figured out that we had some stuff in common, like both being Liverpool supporters.

JB: That was what struck me. I never met the man. Just knowing his work, which was so life-and-death serious, I assumed he was a serious guy. But in the video, he had a wry smile on his face, and came across as funny and down-to-earth.

You’re confirming that he was a fun, cool dude?

AH: Yeah. People close to him hadn’t seen the video until after his death and were touched when they saw it.

We weren’t best friends, by any means.

JB: I understand.

AH: We were friendly. We did an event together for Resource Magazine, I think, out at Root Studios in Brooklyn, where they had a little film evening, inviting photographers who were dabbling in motion to showcase some material. They got in touch with me to show the “Meet the Hetheringtons” video, and in turn I put them in touch with Tim with a view to them screening his “Sleeping Soldiers” piece.

He agreed to have it shown, and showed up for the evening himself. I think he was working in Amsterdam, and managed to get back for the evening. The two of us are sitting there, and they show mine first, and then they show his right afterwards. They couldn’t have been more polar opposite content wise, but it was a fun.

A special moment I will treasure.

I’ll always be grateful to him for giving me that opportunity, and for spending a little time with me. He was definitely one of the greats. Talent, creativity and humanity just oozed from him. I had the utmost admiration for what he did, and who he was.

JB: Well, you’re really anticipating my question. This one sets up perfectly. Sure, you had some things in common, and were both Liverpool supporters. But you are Irish, and he was English.

Here’s the real question: Who are better drinkers, the Irish or the English? Who takes that one?

AH: (laughing) Oh wow. Can we have a score draw on that one?

JB: That’s a politically correct answer right there.

AH: Well, I mean, I have a lot of English friends and a lot of Irish friends. And what about the Scots? And the Welsh? I think on any good night, as in any good day on the pitch, anyone can play a blinder, getting back to the sporting analogies.

JB: OK. Fair enough. I asked the question, you answered it. You mentioned a few minutes ago that back in the day, you were a serious blogger. Let’s talk about that. There’s something I’m super curious about, and I’m sure you’ve been asked before.

What is the, or a, Jackanory? It sounds like a mythical animal.

AH: If you were Irish or English, you would know all about this. When we were kids in the 70’s, there was a children’s television show called “Jackanory,” where a celebrity, a writer, or a reader would basically read a story, from a book, on television. You don’t get any more high tech than that.

It became a slang term. What’s the Jackanory? means what’s the story?

I knew early on that something interesting was happening with the blogs. I wanted to be involved, and I wanted to figure out how to use this tool, partly for fear of getting left behind too (laughing).

The idea was to treat the blog as if it as my own online magazine, so it wouldn’t be Andrew Hetherington’s blog just about Andrew Hetherington. Whats The Jackanory? seemed like the perfect name. So I searched the URL, it was available and I bought it. And that was that.

JB: I expect that our readers will know who you are, and that you’re working like crazy for the biggest magazines, but how much of your current success would you attribute to the fact that you built a following, got name recognition, and people learned more about you through the blog? Do you think it had a significant impact on what came next?

AH: Yes. I really do. I’d been in the game a long time. I started off in Ireland, and began again in the US. In the late 90’s, I started shooting for magazines like “Cosmopolitan,” and “Mademoiselle.” Primarily doing fashion and beauty photographs, but mixing it up with portraiture and music photography.

Like a lot of young photographers, I thought I could do it all. After the tragedies of September 11th there was a period of uncertainty in the publishing world as companies circled the wagons unsure of the immediate future. A few of my clients closed up shop including “Mademoiselle” who would have been my biggest at the time. I also realized I had got as far as I could in the world of fashion photography.

I do appreciate the art. I think you have to live and breathe fashion to for the work to be genuine, and I was losing interest. Throughout my career, I’ve always tried to adapt, and change.

I saw the blog as a chance to be creative, to promote myself and also as a way to promote other people and work I liked. It was a great venue for me creativity because I could do little photo projects, little videos, little whatevers. If it didn’t work no worries, move on, next. It pushed me.

The timing was right too, because it was pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, pre-Instagram. The feed was less cluttered. It was also a very exciting time, with bloggers like Alec Soth, or Rob here at A Photo Editor, the Bitter Photographer.

People in the photo industry started to use blogs to find photographers, look at work, information and so on.

JB: You’re talking about being adaptable, and being slightly ahead of the curve, by setting up a blog at the right time. I discovered the blogosphere in 2009, back when Jörg Colberg had a blog roll on Conscientious, and for me, that was what was going on. I used that as a portal, and found your blog that way.

AH: That’s what happened to me too. When I was working as an assistant, I worked a lot at rental studios. It was very social, and I got to meet other photographers and assistants at the studios or at the labs.

Then when you start to shoot, it becomes a little less social, but at the time there was a communal darkroom called Print Space where everyone went to make C-prints. That’s where I met just about everyone: established and young photographers.

With the advent of digital, naturally the darkroom wasn’t as heavily trafficked as before. So someone turned me on to Jörg’s blog one day too, and I went through the blogroll as well, and started clicking, and before you know it, I’d spent two days on these links.

JB: It was crazy.

AH: I said, “Wow.” Because this was what I was missing. I used to see all this new work, and prints before they were in magazines, at that darkroom. I missed that whole community thing, and with Jorg I discovered a new community online.

I was curious and I reached out to Jörg and said how much I liked what he had going on. As well as being a friendly email, there was a method to the madness, because I sent him the link to a photographer friend of mine whose work I knew he would enjoy.

I knew my work wasn’t for Jörg, but I said “Check this out. I think you might like it, and it may be something you could feature.” He posted it a few days later, and I said to my friend, “Hey, can you check your site visits?”

He did, and the numbers were phenomenal, and I thought, this is really something. Things are moving in a new direction.

JB: You had your finger on the pulse then. Good things happened. You’re in a prime position in the industry now, so let’s look forward a little bit. Do you ever think about what comes next?

If you were to theorize about what the industry landscape might look like in five years, what would you say?

AH: (laughing.) Wow. That’s a loaded question. I don’t know. Is it all going down the shitter? Who knows?

JB: Nobody KNOWS. That’s the whole point.

I’m putting you on the prognostication seat. You can choose to sit there, or you can choose to pass. That’s your choice.

AH: I might have to pass on this one, I always feel like I’m just beginning anyways. I like to think I am still emerging. But then someone said I was a veteran recently and I took umbrage (laughing) to that so a photographer friend said I was an emerging veteran and I liked that (laughing).

JB: Well, let’s go there then. When we’re starting out, I think we all have role models. People we admire and want to emulate. Who was that for you? Who do you look to and think, “Damn, I just love how they conduct themselves, or what their work looks like?”

AH: I admire anyone who’s had a long career, whether it be a photographer, an artist, a filmmaker. Anyone in the creative field. That’s all I want to do. There are so many one hit wonders. So many people who come and go.

Being an assistant, and working with a lot of photographers here in New York in the 90’s who had very established and lucrative careers, a lot of them have disappeared. You never know what curveball life or your career can’t throw you at any moment.

I try to take a very measured approach, and be cognizant of change. I try to adapt. I want to learn new things, because I don’t have all the answers, by any means.

I admire people who are in it for the long haul. You’ve got to hand it to the Rolling Stones. Even U2. You have to admire them. You can’t not. How many bands started when U2 did, and are no longer around. I am not a fan of their music by the way.

JB: Looking at your website, you shoot people, places and things. Even among celebrities, you’ve got the hot chef foodies, like Tony Bourdain. You’ve got actors, comedians, athletes. Anyone who knows photography understands that to do that kind of work, you’ve got to be good with people.

What are your go-to moves to put people at ease? Beyond presumably just being a grounded human being, what are your tricks to make people comfortable, when you don’t have a lot of time with them?

AH: I put the accent on thick, for starters (laughing).

JB: That’s why it was my first question! I’m no dummy, man.

AH: (laughing) I’m usually a bumbling idiot I think. I like to be engaged so I try to have a conversation, which might be detrimental, if you only have 30 seconds with somebody.

JB: Did Tony Bourdain actually eat the pig in the photo, when you were all done?

AH: So the Tony story was great, because I’m a big fan, and I like to cook. That one was for “People” magazine. Anyone who knows Anthony Bourdain will know that he’s had a colorful past, so the “People” angle was that he’d recently gotten married and had a young child.

This was the new, post-heroin Anthony Bourdain. Softer around the edges. So the magazine had arranged for me to scout his place in advance, which was great. I remember that it was a really wet day here in New York, and I got totally soaked.

He lives in Mid town, in one of those hi rise towers, and the door man sends me up, and I’m just drenched. I knock on the door, half expecting there to be an assistant or housekeeper to answer, and there’s Tony.

I was like, “Oh Shit!” I said to him, “What if this doesn’t go well? If I say the wrong thing now, will that scupper the shoot? Will you request somebody else?”

He was incredibly gracious, showed me around and when we came back to shoot a week later, he couldn’t have been more professional. He knows how it works, and said, “Let’s just do this,” so we got stuck in and did it.

At the end of the shoot, we hung around and ate pig, and he had a spread of cheeses, and we chilled out for a half an hour which is very unusual. And he was sweet enough to sign my copy of “Kitchen Confidential.”

Every now and again I’ll do the selfie thing or get something signed, but that’s always the furthest thing from my mind on the shoot.

JB: So the answer is that he ate the pig. He had to eat the pig. That was a given.

AH: Yes. That was a given.

Hetherington_Bourdain

JB: You’ve interviewed people. You know how this works. That’s why I led with the accent. In my mind, I imagined that it would go over well.

It puts people at ease, when you can be a bit self-deprecating. Not seem full of yourself. Do you see your job as putting people at ease, and getting them to feel relaxed and comfortable in your presence?

AH: Absolutely. I’m looking for a moment. I’m hoping that a moment’s going to happen at some stage, whether it be in someone’s office or on seamless. The more relaxed and comfortable they are with me the more likely that’s going to happen.

I like to keep things pretty simple technically, so I’m able to move around and react to whats happening in front of me.

I like to watch people when they’re doing what they do. That’s not always possible, but I encourage people, “If we weren’t here, what would you do? Or how would you sit in that chair?”

Obviously, once the camera comes out, people can become very self-aware and I have found that some of the best moments come when I am physically packing the camera in the bag, and I look around and say, “Hold on! That’s perfect!” So I bring the camera back out.

What was the question?

JB: Well, you got it. Don’t worry. The answer was good enough.

AH: (laughing) So I tend to ramble along like that. I know my assistants have problems understanding what I say sometimes. Maybe it’s the accent (laughing) not the mumbling or its a combo.

I do take the work seriously, but I try to have fun.

I’m fortunate to shoot regularly. When you’re working for a magazine or a commercial client, and there are time constraints, if you work once a month it’s very difficult when you get that one shoot, you’re totally invested. You’re nervous, and you over think it. It’s difficult.

But if you’re shooting regularly, for me anyways it’s so much looser and freer. The pictures come so much easier. If I have a bad day, I know I get to go again tomorrow, so some of the pressure is off, somewhat.

Will I beat myself up? Yes. Am I ever happy? No. But I do try to have no regrets after a shoot. If only I had done this or that or asked the subject if they would be willing to do such and such. So I always ask and if they say no that’s okay at least I asked.

JB: You’ve used the word creative several times, and we’re talking about portraiture. And about the fact that you’re out and about in the world.

This interview is being sponsored by the Santa Fe Workshops, because you’re going to be teaching a workshop there this summer called…Creative Environmental Portraiture.

AH: (simultaneously) Creative Environmental Portraiture.

JB: There you go. It’s what you do, and what we’ve been talking about. So we covered that, with respect to being a working photographer. But what about teaching? Is this something that’s in your wheelhouse? Do you do it a lot? Do you enjoy it?

AH: This the first time I’ve done something like this, so I’m really excited. I have done quite a bit of mentoring, which I thoroughly enjoyed, because it’s actually quite therapeutic. It gives me new ideas too.

Usually, it’s with photographers starting out, and we get into a dialogue, and I’m good for that, provided I have the time. I’ve learned just as much through these sessions.

With respect to the workshop, I’ve been brainstorming the curriculum. I value people’s time and money, so I am totally invested in making it worth their while on all levels.

JB: It’s a few months out, so I don’t expect you to have it all dialed in, but what do you think your students can expect to learn?

AH: All the things you don’t learn in photo school (laughing).

Participants will execute portrait assignments in various situations under real shoot conditions.
I have a lot of experience in the school of how to make something out of nothing and I’ll throw them the crazy curveballs that have been thrown at me over the years.

More often then not its these type of shoots are more about problem solving on your feet all the while having to create a compelling image no matter how shitty the location, weather or what not turns out.

Also, how do you work on developing a signature style, because I think that’s important, especially when you’re starting out. It’s important that the photo editors and art buyers can recognize your photographs. That’s definitely been important for me.

In the beginning, I thought I could do everything, and I’d go into meetings with photo editors with three or four different portfolios. While the work was decent, people were confused, because there wasn’t a single visual language.

The course will be the full immersive Hetherington experience, accent and all if that takes your fancy.

JB: Have you ever been to Santa Fe before, or is this going to be your first time?

AH: This is going to be my first time in Santa Fe too.

JB: What are you expecting out of New Mexico? Is it all informed by “Breaking Bad?”

AH: I have been to Albuquerque, so it is all informed by Albuquerque. Yes.

Hetheringtyon_OReillyJB: How did I know? I’m mildly psychic. Because you’ve been so diplomatic the few times I tried to draw you out, I had a question where I was going to put you on the spot about Bill O’Reilly, but I won’t do that.

AH: Try me.

JB: Is he Satan?

AH: (laughing) (pause)

JB: You’re like, “Damn. He’s right. I do have to be diplomatic. I can’t answer that.”

AH: When you’re shooting someone like that, and you do not share their political beliefs, does that taint my approach? I have to say not.

JB: Of course. You’re a pro.

AH: I try to be even-keeled. But someone like that, he’s smart. He’s not going to fall into any visual traps. The image that ran in “Newsweek” was shot right before he taped his TV show.

The bane of a lot of these shoots is these guys end up getting caked in TV makeup, which really isn’t photo-friendly at all. So I liked the fact that he looked like weird made up old white guy.

JB: Regular people have a fascination with fame. That’s why fame exists, and why those famous people make so much money. When you do your job, you have to become inured to it. It doesn’t shake you up.

When you’re so used to shooting people like that, would you admit to having a bucket list? Is there anyone that you really want to photograph, and you’d get all excited about it? Obama? Rihanna?

AH: I don’t even care. I don’t.

JB: Nobody?

AH: Nobody. I’m just happy to be anywhere with anyone. It’s not just the pictures it’s the life experience and the best have come from the most unexpected assignments.

The celebrity thing is not the be all and end all for me. And I don’t necessarily go out of my way to make people look attractive. My lighting is pretty in your face. I don’t come with a lot of bells and whistles.

I’ll be looking at stuff in magazines, or online, and think “I wish I could light like that guy. It’s just beautiful.” And then I’ve got to remind myself, “That’s not what you do.”

JB: I figured you were going to say that. But what if you got hired to shoot Putin? How would you deal with that?

AH: Well in my case it would be on camera flash and boom.

Platon has a great story of his shoot with Putin.

JB: Right.

AH: I assisted Platon a little bit, so when I had to photograph Clinton, I emailed him, because I knew that he’d photographed him. I wanted to get his advice, which was stellar.

Basically, he said, “Be yourself. But be prepared. Be prepared. Be prepared. Be technically prepared. Make sure nothing will go wrong, technically, and if it does, make sure you have a backup to the backup to the backup. Be prepared and be yourself. Oh and enjoy the moment.”

I took his advice and made sure that if Plan A failed, Plan B would work, and that my assistants and I were all drilled. You realize that in a situation like that, the time you’re given is the time you’re going to be given.

There is no extra time. 10 minutes quickly becomes 5 minutes which can become 30 seconds in an instant.

In that case, the magazine had two scenarios they wanted covered in limited time, so I had to make sure that was possible. For me, it was a little harder too because he’s not going to pick his nose. Or bend over and scratch his bum. Or do anything wacky. In this case I knew going in that these pictures were going to be relatively straight forward and I was comfortable with that. It’s a photographic record of this man at this time in his life.

JB: I once saw a video with Platon discussing that shoot he did at the UN where he got something like 30 seconds with every world leader. It made me realize how little your average photographer knows about that level of cutthroat perfection.

AH: Platon is a great example of that. Delivering a telling iconic image in a signature way, in challenging situations. Not only do you need to be a talented photographer but you literally need to be a diplomat too to navigate all the stuff happening on the periphery.

JB: He’s got the accent too.

AH: He’s got the accent too. I learned a lot from him. Including how to exploit the accent (laughing).

JB: Well, I’m from Jersey, so I could always amp it up and pretend that I sound like Tony Soprano if I had to. But then again, I don’t do that kind of work.

If you don’t have an accent, you have to make one up, I suppose.

AH: But it still has to be genuine.

JB: Dammit.

AH: I can’t have a funky haircut. But I do have an accent and a beard (laughing).

JB: There it is. It helps with the branding. But we’ve covered so much ground, why don’t we bring it back to the beginning. Since you’re going to be in New Mexico in the not-too-distant future, why don’t we have a friendly little wager on Saturday’s game.

How about we bet a pint on the Arsenal-Liverpool game?

AH: Sure.

JB: We’re going to end the interview on a wager.

AH: By the time the interview’s published, we’ll have a result.

JB: Exactly. Maybe we’ll do an editor’s note. (Editor’s note: Arsenal won the match, 4-1.)

AH: If Arsenal win, it’s an all expenses paid trip to Santa Fe. On me.

JB: OK. It’s on the record. Thanks again for doing the interview, and I hope all is well in NYC.

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Musician Jack Antonoff

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SFPW_APhotoEditor_Jan2015

Pricing & Negotiating: Studio Portraits for a Pharmaceutical Manufacturer

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Studio portraits of 6 professional talent

Licensing: Advertising and Collateral use of all images captured, in perpetuity

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Up-and-coming portrait photographer

Agency: Mid-sized, based in NYC

Client: Pharmaceutical manufacturer

Here’s the estimate:

Budget: Usually when I’m quoting on a job, I ask the art buyer if they’ve established a budget for the project. Not that I don’t know what things should cost, but if a client already knows how much money they have to spend, it allows me to concentrate on figuring out how to make the shoot work for that price rather than also trying to figure out what level of production they’re looking for. While the creative fee for the photographer will largely be determined by the usage, the production costs could be any amount of money. In this case, the client told me upfront that they had budgeted $40k for photography. My initial impression was that it would be a little tight, but workable. They wanted to do eight individual portraits of professional talent on a simple background in a studio. After talking with the photographer and considering hair, makeup and wardrobe, and how much time we’d want with each subject, we decided we’d need two shoot days. But when I ran the numbers in my head, I was having trouble meeting that budget. So I proposed to the art buyer that we trim the number of subjects to six so we could do it in one day, which would save a lot on licensing fees, model fees and the other production costs. Luckily, since were we dealing with an experienced art buyer and an educated client, they recognized that as a reasonable trade-off. However, just a few days prior to the shoot, the client asked us to also quote the cost of adding back the two additional models and the second shoot day. After running the numbers on paper, It turned out that it would have increased the cost by about 50 percent, so they decided not to go that route.

Creative/Licensing: The pictures were intended for use on the company’s website, not to promote a specific drug, but rather to promote awareness of a particular illness, to educate the public and to encourage healthy living as a form of treatment. As altruistic as that sounds, ultimately, if a “patient” required medical treatment, the idea was that they would choose the pharmaceutical manufactured by the client. There’s no question that the usage was advertising, but the nature of that use was somewhat of a mitigating factor (in other words, mild downward pressure on the value). The client type (big pharma company) and their need for perpetual use of all images captured definitely pushed the value up. Sometimes clients want a license to use all the pictures captured rather than a limited number of selects. I’m always going to assign a premium to that compared to if the client just needed licensing for one image of each person (which was what they were likely to actually use). But since all the other pictures would be subtle variations on the first six, I was basically quoting on six images and only assigned a small premium for that additional licensing.

After “value engineering” the quote as much as possible, we landed on a creative/licensing fee of $12k and about $30k in production expenses. This exceeded the budget slightly, but because the agency wanted to include a second casting day and talent payroll service, which were both “luxuries” as far as we were concerned, and could have been eliminated, they agreed to cover those additional costs, and the estimate was approved.

Assistants: We only needed two assistants since there wasn’t much variation in lighting setups from one talent to the next.

Digital Tech: $500.00 covered the tech’s day rate. The photographer and tech were both OK working with the photographer’s laptop as opposed to renting a workstation/cart. That saved us quite a bit on the rentals side, since the typical cost for a workstation is about $700.00 – $1000.00.

Equipment: We discussed necessary file size with the agency and since they had no intention of producing big transit ads, we agreed that a medium format camera system would be overkill, which helped keep out equipment budget down. We ended up quoting for a few Profoto 7b kits, modifiers, soft boxes and stands, a DSLR camera system (the photographer would use their own as a backup), a handful of lenses and miscellaneous grip.

Producer: A producer is necessary on just about any advertising job. Whenever a photographer needs to manage more than their immediate crew, it’s a good idea to have a producer on hand. A photographer should focus on the creative and leave the talent, location, client, stylist, catering, parking and schedule concerns to the producer.

Studio Rental: This shoot was in a smaller market so there weren’t that many options available on the studio front. Luckily, the pick of the litter was open on the desired shoot date, so we quoted it at cost in our estimate and put a hold on the day.

Photographer Production Day, Casting and Talent:  Since we needed talent capable of conveying very subtle emotion, rather than simply looking good on camera, it was important to hold a live casting (as opposed to simply casting from comp cards or online galleries). We included two pre-production days for the photographer to attend the casting to get a better sense for how each potential subject took direction. The agency set the talent rates, which were a bit leaner than we are usually comfortable with, so we were sure to let them know that the lesser rate would almost certainly limit the talent pool. We also mitigated it by putting together a schedule that minimized talent time on site. As it turned out, the pool seemed a bit light, but it was chock full of great options for us. It’s not unusual to use a separate payroll service to pay talent (and sometimes even crew). They also asked us to include an additional fee to cover the costs of paying the talent through a payroll service. Different states have different laws about when and how different types of workers get paid and what taxes and insurance are added to or deducted from those payments. So sometimes a client just wants the peace of mind of knowing that those obligations are being met and they won’t be hit with any unpleasant surprises later. So in addition to the 20% model agency fee, we paid a 25% premium to the payroll service.

Styling: The agency wanted a natural look. We brought on a sizable team to help keep us on schedule and included $250.00/talent for wardrobe.

Post Processing and Transfer: The agency would be handling all retouching, so we included a day for the photographer to do a quick pass on each select and adjust color, contrast, etc. Anything beyond raw adjustments would be the responsibility of the agency.

Catering and Misc: Even though we were running a pretty lean production, the catering budget was healthy, since catering really impacts the perception of a production. We also included $300.00 to cover parking, mileage and any other miscellaneous expenses that might pop up on the shoot or casting days.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns.