Personal Projects: Christina + David Elevenfootsix

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

Today’s featured artist: Christina + David elevenfootsix

“Every fall David starts growing a beard, keeps it through the winter, and shaves it once the air starts hinting of warmth in the spring. He’s been doing this as long as Christina can remember. The beard portrait series started in the spring of 2012, after Christina and our friends launched a full-fledged campaign to convince David to grow his beard for an entire year without trimming it, just to see how big it would get. A year-beard, or a “yeard” if you will. David made it through the winter, but finally gave up in March—much to everyone’s disappointment. And so just like every other year, it was time for the overgrown whiskers to go. We felt the need to document the 5-month-old face foliage, and used the opportunity to get creative with a portrait. We’ve kept it up every year since; a portrait of an annual beard and its inevitable demise. (Also, sometimes gif-making. Because, who doesn’t like mini animations?) We’ve really enjoyed this little project as it gives us a chance to just have fun and work out lighting techniques at the same time. It’s also a creative challenge as we have to push ourselves to do something different with a subject that remains the same year after year.”

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

Pricing & Negotiating: Lifestyle Images for Retailer

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Architectural images and environmental lifestyle images of customers and sales representatives interacting in a retail location

Licensing: Unlimited use of 12 images for one year

Location: A retail location in the northeast

Shoot Days: One

Photographer: Architectural and portraiture specialist

Agency: N/A, client direct

Client: A retail chain

Here is the estimate: 

Creative/Licensing: This was the third time in as many years that the client approached the photographer to create images of newly opened retail locations. The first two projects had a similar initial scope in terms of creative requirements and licensing, and a precedent had been set regarding the client’s budget and what the photographer had agreed to regarding creative/licensing fees. In this case, I found out that while the client requested unlimited use of 12 images for one year, their intended use mainly included one image for local advertising use that would likely be minimal, while the other images would end up on the client’s website to showcase the new retail location. I also found out that they had a $40,000 budget they were trying to hit for this particular project.

I’d typically anticipate that for one year of local advertising, an appropriate fee for the first image is in the neighborhood of $3,000. Then I’d apply a discount for the additional images given their likely intended web collateral use, likely pricing the second image at $1,500, images number three to five at $500, and images number six to twelve at $250 each. That totals to $6,250, however, based on the current budget and the previous precedent of the other projects, $5,000 was more appropriate.

Photographer Travel/Scout Days: The photographer would travel in and scout the location the afternoon prior to the shoot day, and then fly back home the day after the shoot. I, therefore, included two travel/scout days.

First Assistant/Digital Tech and Second Assistant: The photographer had a first assistant who could double as his digital tech, and I included $500 for their day with an additional $500 for a small workstation. Additionally, I included a second assistant to help with grip/lighting.

Producer and Production Assistant: I included three prep days (including the time to go scout the location), one shoot day and one wrap day for the producer to line up a crew and coordinate the project from start to finish. Additionally, I included two days for a production assistant; one day to help either the producer or photographer prior to the shoot and one day for the shoot.

Hair/Makeup and Wardrobe Styling: The initial scope of the project called for 15 talent, and the shot list made for a rather ambitious shoot day schedule. Given these factors, I included two hair/makeup stylists, rather than a stylist with an assistant, as we needed an experienced team to help move the styling process along as fast as possible. As for the wardrobe, only the principle talent would need to have clothing sourced for them, while the secondary/extra talent would provide their own wardrobe. I included three prep/shop days and one shoot day for the wardrobe stylist while anticipating that their assistant would be on-site for the shoot, and then handle wardrobe returns after the shoot. I included $3,000 for the wardrobe, anticipating about $375 per principle talent.

Casting and Talent: Rather than doing a live casting, we included $1,000 to cover an additional day for the producer to handle a digital casting process. This included reaching out to multiple local talent agencies, organizing headshots and web galleries of talent for the client to consider, negotiating rates and booking the chosen talent. We included $1,800 for each principle talent, which was appropriate for the usage in this market, and $450 for each extra secondary talent.

Production RV: While the location would offer enough space for all of the crew/talent/client to stay within the building comfortably, I anticipated that the hair/makeup stylists would need a space to prep the talent, and the wardrobe stylists would need an area to spread out the clothing. Also, I anticipated that an RV would be a nice area to get as many cooks out of the kitchen as possible, and if needed, it would serve as a private space with wifi where the client could escape from the production. $1,500 included gas/mileage, travel time, generator run time, dumping fees, and other misc. expenses that RV’s typically charge for.

Equipment: The photographer planned to capture most of the content with available light, and in an effort to keep the bottom line down, we did not include any expense to use the equipment he planned to bring.

Travel Expenses: Round trip tickets to/from the location were about $300, and I included $50 in baggage fees for the outgoing and return trips. Lodging in the area was about $150/night for two nights, and I included $200 for a car rental, a $50/day per diem for the three days the photographer would be traveling.

Craft/Catering: I included roughly $35 per person for a light, quick lunch and snacks, anticipating nine crew members, 15 talent and six client/agency representatives.

Mileage, Parking, Additional Meals: This included $200 in mileage for crew members to travel to/from the location. $200 in meals and expenses that the wardrobe stylist and their assistant would incur while shopping for clothing. $150 for miscellaneous expenses and $250 in additional meals for a client/agency pre-production meeting and a client dinner after the shoot.

Production Supplies: This included $200 for table and chair rentals, $100 in tent rentals, $100 in floor protection and cleaning supplies, and $50 for miscellaneous supplies.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the photographer’s time to organize all of the assets and create an initial gallery of images for the client to review.

Post Processing: I included $50/image for basic color correction, file cleanup and delivery of the images. For architectural images, I’d typically include at least $150/image, however, we had already surpassed the client’s budget, and the photographer was willing to give a discount on the post processing.

Results: The client signed the estimate, and the photographer was awarded the assignment. Just as quickly, the client mentioned that they planned to bring in their ad agency to provide further creative direction and help move the project along. While it was surprising, we welcomed the additional clarification. However, we quickly realized that the agency had different expectations for the production that weren’t originally prescribed by the client.

Generally speaking, they wanted a much higher level of production, and the biggest change was that they hoped to shoot throughout the night while the store was closed, rather than shooting throughout the afternoon and into the early evening hours as originally anticipated. The agency also wanted the store to appear as if it were daytime, and have sun coming in through the windows. This meant that we’d need to bring on a grip and a gaffer with a grip truck to rig up large continuous lights outside of the windows, and I added $5,500 to accomplish this ($650 for the gaffer, $450 for the grip and $4,000 in grip/lighting equipment, trucking, generators and misc. expenses). Additionally, this meant that we’d need to feed everyone in a more robust way and ensure the coffee was fresh all night, so we added catering throughout the night.

The agency hoped to see a lot of the wardrobe that was to be procured prior to the shoot, so I added an extra day for our wardrobe stylist to provide pictures of everything and spend a bit of extra time shopping after receiving feedback. Additionally, the agency had insurance requirements that the photographer did not anticipate originally, so we included $1,500 to help increase his policy to meet their standards. Also, as we worked through these updates, the shoot date changed a few times, so we included a bit more in our travel expense line to account for airline change fees. Actually, the ever-changing schedule, increased production level and the re-negotiation of the project across the board meant the producer would be incurring additional time, so we included an extra day and a half for them to handle the workload.

The agency was able to make two concessions that helped bring the bottom line back down a bit. First, they were willing to limit the talent to seven principles and three extras, and second, they were willing to handle all of the post processing in-house.

As for the photographer’s fee, while the agency agreed to decrease the number of images licensed from 12 to eight, the shots they removed were mostly variations of similar secondary shots. Overall, I felt the additional shooting time coupled with increased creative requirements was worth an increase to the photographer’s fee, and we added an extra $1,500.

Here was the final estimate for the agency, which was approved:

Hindsight: In the end, an estimate that was $15,000 more than the client originally told us they budgeted was approved. The agency let us know that our final estimate was in-line with what they had anticipated for a production like this, and I feel they did a good job explaining to their client why all of these expenses were necessary. It’s highly unusual for a client to approve a project and then have their agency propose different project specs to bid on, but I think this was a result of the project occurring during a time when the client was transitioning from one ad agency to another. Other than the added stress during pre-production, the shoot went off without a hitch, and the images were quickly put to use a few weeks later.

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 large ad campaigns.

The Daily Edit – Fortune Magazine: Tony Luong

- - The Daily Edit

 

Fortune Magazine

Art Director: Peter Herbert
Photo Editor: Armin Harris
Associate Art Directors: Josue Evila, Michael Solita
Senior Designer: Julia Bohan
Photographer: Tony Luong

Heidi: I know this shoot presented you with some obstacles, what did you learn about yourself from this?
Tony: I often get hung up on which setups to do first, last, etc and then slowly turn into a time bomb of sorts. I learned that I can actually trust my instincts at times and allow that initial reaction to make it’s way to the surface without being hindered by apprehension and doubt. This process  allowed me to learn what pictures I like to make.

Great assistants are an asset on every single shoot, what skills did both Anthony Tulliani and Jake Belcher bring to the table?  How long have you worked with them?
I have worked with Jake quite a bit but it was my first time working with Anthony. They both bring a lot to the table in terms of knowledge, patience and having great communication skills, they are also talented photographers themselves. It helps when everyone involved is invested in the project rather than think their role is to just schlep gear around. It’s also nice being able to hang out outside of shooting time rather than feeling like you’re on a bad date.

Tell us about the time management crisis you had and how you overcame it all.
The first shoot day, we were on the 36th floor of State Street where we scouted and setup around 11am. It was my understanding that we would be shooting the CEO of State Street from 1-2pm and then another associate of the company from 3-4pm and we would have access to both the 35th and 36th floors for the entirety of the shoot (the 36th floor had more opportunities).

At about 12:30, we were told that the 36th floor closes at 3pm and that we would have be out and off that floor by then.  This last minute surprise with a half hour remaining before the first shoot began, I went over with Anthony that we would have to break down all the gear immediately upon finishing and even during this 1-2pm shoot in order to have enough time to re-setup for the second shoot on the 35th floor before 3pm. Fortunately, I keep things somewhat simple and minimal gear-wise so we were able to transport everything fairly quickly. Fortunately, we still managed to get 4 setups in with each subject.

The second day involved a group shot of 8 women at the firm, I was given permission to be a fly on the wall during the meeting and then was told I would have 15 minutes after the meeting for a more formal portrait. I was shown the room that we would be shooting in Friday afternoon after both shoots had wrapped and had scouted a spot. The morning of the shoot day, we arrived an hour and a half in advance to setup only to be told as we began unpacking that the room we were in wasn’t actually approved. We were then told that we could go back to the 35th floor conference room where we shot on the first day to do the group pictures. We packed up, went to the 35th floor conference room and luckily were able to apply the same concepts and ideas for light and positioning of subjects.

How many images did you turn in despite the hiccups?
I turned in probably 350 images for a lo res edit and then there were 7 or 8 high res in the end for both print and web.

A few outtakes below

What kind of direction did you get from the magazine?
Since this was my first assignment for Fortune, Armin sent over some previous examples of how the stories get laid out; then we had a call and discussed l shot list. We both realized we had similar ideas about assignment work like this. Instead of conforming to what the office presents, we asked how can we turn the space into something for ourselves. Be by the use of a harsher light or showing the seamless, we disrupted the fact that we are shooting in an office space. Armin put complete trust in me and that’s was great.

What was the Fearless Girl statue publicity stunt and how did that key into this assignment?
The Fearless Girl state was part of a marketing push by State Street Global Advisors as an attempt to take on gender diversity in the finance world. This laid the groundwork and was a good jumping off point for the conversation that was had during the shoot about how important female mentorship and leadership in a predominately male industry is.

Tell us about the opening image.
The opening image is of the Fearless Girl statue from over the shoulder and the view you would see if you were in Wall Street at the installation. Originally there was intentions of using an image from the shoot to be the opener but in the end, Fortune decided to go with what you see here to further push a more cohesive look throughout the issue and round out the package of other stories revolving around investment guides. I’m still happy with how the turn pages came out.

The Daily Promo – Brian Lowe

- - The Daily Promo

Brian Lowe


Who printed it?

I printed the images on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Rag paper in my studio. I really love the feel of this paper and use it in my printed portfolio. I also printed my contact info on the back. I didn’t  want my name to interrupt the print. 

Who designed it?
I did. After a lot of research, and also scanning multiple formats on @aphotoeditor’s insta. I ultimately decided I wanted this  piece to feel more personal in hopes that you would want to keep a print or two. 

Who edited the images?
I did.  Selected prints were sent to editors, creatives and art producers of work that I want to get hired more to do. Portraits & active work. 

How many did you make?
100 boxes. 8 prints each. 

How many times a year do you send out promos?
1 big printed piece a year, that goes out to everybody for the past 3 years + selected prints to existing and potential clients every quarter. About 8 to 12.  

Who made the box for you?  
Design Aglow  a company out of  Canada made the box and Template cast with my font & name.  

This Week in Photography Books: Marisa Scheinfeld

 

I started irrigating on the farm this summer.

Our property came with water rights, which means we’re allowed to use the ancient acequia system, designed by Spanish Colonists in the 19th Century.

The main pasture used to belong to our neighbors, before they sold it off, and I’m told their father raised corn, or alfalfa, depending on whom you believe. (I just use it to water the grass.)

Each Saturday, I head outside, all geared up with my shovel, and dig out the ditch, a few feet at a time.

Not surprisingly, it’s hard work, but the joy and sense of accomplishment are palpable. Lifting the gates, and watching the water flow down hill feels primal, as out here in the desert, water is life.

Putting on my work boots, and slopping out the muck, doesn’t seem strange, as I’ve lived in Taos a long time. Cutting sluices, and watching where gravity moves water, is not rocket science, and I even use my daughter’s pink sled to direct the water where I want it to go.

But sometimes, if only for a moment, I’ll look around and wonder how a Jewish guy from suburban New Jersey ended up in such a place?

I’ve certainly come a long way, but living in a lush field in the mountains is a great way to beat the heat. And as I water trees we’ve planted, and watch them rise, it’s hard not to imagine them growing tall and strong, providing shade for my children as they grow too.

A generation ago, when my parents were my children’s age, they lived in New York City, as their parents were born to Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. As beastly hot as NYC can get in the summer, with all that nasty humidity, back then, people didn’t even have air conditioners. (WTF!)

Nor were Jews necessarily welcome in the WASPY country and beach clubs where less-immigranty Americans escaped the heat.

Rather, both of my parents, and everyone they knew, went to the Catskill Mountains, (which out here we’d call hills,) and stayed with friends and families in bungalow colonies. My Mom said she shared a bed with her grandmother, and always, people were squashed together, because money was tight.

Her Dad, (my grandpa Sy,) was a musician and bandleader who worked in the fancy hotels, so Mom used to hang out there during the daytime. Those places had pools, which were more glamorous than the lakes where her family stayed. She got to play with the wealthier kids during the day, and then return to her bungalow at night to sleep.

It was a lot like “Dirty Dancing,” she said, and recalled one time when my Aunt Lynda, who is 5 years older than Mom, stayed out until 1am with her new boyfriend. When she got home, my grandfather chased her around the bungalow, screaming and hitting her with a broom.

You can’t make this shit up.

The Catskills were home to the Borscht Belt, a huge resort and entertainment industry that sprung up in the 1920’s, and continued through the early 80’s, though by then it had already declined tremendously.

I remember hearing stories about those places, when I was young, but given that we had our own swimming pool by then, and I went to sleep-away camp in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, I can’t say I cared too much about the history as it was recounted.

Frankly, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner,” famously uttered by Patrick Swayze, (RIP,) had more of an impact than any story my Mom told me, back in the day.

However, when I got a look this morning at “The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland,” a new book by Marisa Scheinfeld, published by Cornell University Press, the first thing I did was call up Mom and ask her to tell me what it was like.

Ms. Scheinfeld was raised in the Borsht Belt, in the town of Kiamesha Lake, so this book fits in with our recent exploration of the divide between local versus wandering photographers.

In her very-well-written statement, she said that Arthur Ollman, the former director of MOPA in San Diego, once told her to “shoot what you know,” so she headed back East to document the places that have succumbed to time.

We all know there’s a genre of ruin-porn, which often features weeds and trees growing up in the man-made environment, and if you close your eyes, I bet you can conjure such a picture of Detroit without trying too hard.

But this project is something different. Ms. Scheinfeld has done copious research on the cultural history of our respective ancestors, which overlaps with learning more about where she was literally raised, and what’s become of all these former palaces and huts of leisure.

Much as I was touched when I walked through Ostia Antica, crumbling ruins outside Rome, or Teotihuacan, the massive pyramids near Mexico City, looking through this book gave me the willies.

The photographs are a testament to the finite nature of culture, and our lives, because they manage to cut beneath the surface of a once vibrant world that has disappeared in my lifetime.

There is a sculptural nature the pictures, and the desaturated colors speak to the reality of the weak light on the East Coast. (The mountains outside my house are called the Sangre de Cristos, because they turn red each night as the perfect light illuminates them like the blood of Jesus.)

The essays come before the pictures, and one, by Jenna Weissman Joselit, focuses on chairs. As I hadn’t seen the plates yet, I thought it was a pretty random subject, and wondered why she focused on such an esoteric symbol? But once you start flipping the pages, it makes a lot of sense.

The chairs have a totemic quality, much as I complimented Anthony Hernandez for his handling of concrete block walls. Here, the empty seats stand at attention, or slump into irrelevance, but always they remind us of the people who are no longer there.

On Facebook today, someone posted the weather forecast for Tucson this week, and it ranged from 110-118 degrees Fahrenheit. Can you imagine? Your fucking brains cook in your head at that temperature.

No thank you.

The temptation to escape the worst of summer has been around a long time, and over the years, I’ve reviewed books from lakeside and beachfront hangouts around the world. But this is the first time I’ve seen a book like this.

So next time the mosquitos are biting me, the water gets inside my yellow leather gloves, and I slip and fall into the muddy ditch, I’ll likely think of my grandfather, blowing hard on his trumpet, while the ghosts of my people’s past dance through empty halls.

Bottom Line: Fascinating look at the abandoned Borscht Belt

To Purchase “Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland ” click here

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

Personal Projects: Laurie Rubin

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

Today’s featured artist: Laurie Rubin

July 2, 1937. On the final leg of their attempt to circumnavigate the globe at its equator, Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared in the Central Pacific. Amelia’s last words received by the waiting U.S Navy ship, The Itasca were:

“KHAQQ to ITASCA. We are on the line 157-337. Will repeat message. We will repeat this on 6210 kilocycles. We are running on line, listening on 6210 kilocycles.” “We must be on you but cannot see you, but gas is running low”

A massive two-week search by ships and planes of the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy failed to find any trace of the missing aviators, or their Lockheed Electra aircraft.  At the end of the failed search the official verdict was that the plane had run out of gas, landed in the ocean, and sunk without a trace.

Three years later, a work party discovered a human skull on the remote southeastern end of Gardner Island (now named Nikumaroro). Further investigation revealed a partial human skeleton, the remains of a fire and additional items including a wooden sextant box, part of a man’s shoe and part of a woman’s shoe. This last item led to speculation that the bones might be the last remains of Amelia Earhart. British authorities dismissed the idea and elected not to notify the American consulate. The bones and artifacts were subsequently lost and the entire incident was largely forgotten, discredited as rumor.

In 1997 and 1998, TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) researchers discovered the original British files relating to the incident, including the doctor’s report and the measurements upon which he based his assessment that the bones were those of a male. Contemporary computer analysis, however, revealed the skeleton was probably that of a female of northern European ancestry who stood roughly 5 feet 8 inches tall. That’s a good description of the only woman known to have gone missing in the Central Pacific in the 1930s – Amelia Earhart. Fortified by this and subsequent revelations, TIGHAR has mounted expeditions to the remote atoll in the hope of shedding light on this enduring mystery.

I was thrilled to be invited to join TIGHAR along with the search teams in 2012, on the University of Honolulu research ship K.O.K departing from Honolulu. We spent 30 days at sea with two different teams conducting the underwater search.

In 2015 we travelled back to Nikumaroro from Fiji for 30 days, to continue the underwater search in addition to a land search team and a scuba team.

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

 

The Daily Edit – Agei.st / David Harry Stewart

- - The Daily Edit

Agei.st

Founding Partner: David Harry Stewart
Founding Partner: Matt Hirst
Digital Media Specialist: Ed Delfs
Women’s Content Director: Tara Shannon

We have a fantastic newsletter you can get by signing up here.

Heidi: Here’s a Google search that gives us a snapshot of what  50, 60 and 70 years of age looks like.

How do you see AGEI.ST changing the current visual landscape on this?
David: Do you know anyone who looks like that Google image search you did? They seem like slow, medicalized, out to pasture diminished people in need of some sort of help. True, there are those people, but I am not one of them, and neither are the people I know. We are at the very height of our powers, and to present us in a medicalized way is just not real, or effective communication.

The first big issue we talk about with people over 50 is the visual vocabulary used. The major issue is not a capacity or capability question, it’s a visual issue, and that vocabulary was entirely bankrupt. When I photograph people for AGEIST, it is about self-empowerment, because it is the contrary is what is shown in the media: disempowerment. Our people are shown to be strong because they are strong, stronger than many of them realize. If we can move the needle on two points, strong and modern, we have made an enormous impact.

You’ve spent your career photographing vibrant, youthful beautiful people, defining the lifestyle category. What drove you to explore this seasoned group of people, which in turn throws a new lens on this generation?
Thank you for that, it’s true I sort of defined that category, but there is more to life than the 18-28 age group, and I wanted to get with what my own reality is. I’m 58, and I have been doing advertising and editorial work for 35 years, and all the while, the people I am photographing seem to stay the same age: 18-28. If you look at the spending power of people over 50 it’s $5 trillion/year in the US alone. If you look at millennials it’s several decimal points from that. This was the commercial driver of doing AGEIST, but from a personal standpoint, photographers are always strongest when they are doing what they know best. I can work with 20-year-olds very well, and I really enjoy it. But what is my unique contribution? Maybe it is more with people like myself.

Why is this project important to you and how did this develop?
It started with wondering why media is so millennial obsessed, and there are real reasons for it, but almost none of them are based in fact. Why are we spending such a giant amount of resources communicating with people who don’t have the spending power to buy the product? At this point, we realized we needed to question pretty much everything and to rewrite the playbook. The first thing was the visuals, what does it mean to be an AGEIST person and how do they look compared with other imagery out there? That took a while to understand. Our first iteration was a newsletter, which is still hugely popular.

When people go to our site, the first thing that people notice is how we look.  We have a unique and powerful POV. I would like to take all the credit for that, but it is really a team effort.

Your piece about tackling life after 50 is close to 100,000 hits on LinkedIn. Since most of your reach is digital are you considering print?
That article is actually over 135k now and climbing. In terms of exposure, and in terms of incoming comments and emails, it’s vast. If I do a cover for The New York Times Magazine, of which I have done several, maybe I will get 1 email. With AGEIST, we get flooded with them daily. It’s incredible. The button that we hit is so powerful and there is so much pent-up feeling out there; it humbles me every day.

I love print. To me print is a luxury product, it is premium as compared to the disposability and poverty of real estate that one gets on digital. But starting a print magazine, is a big commitment. We will do it at some point, but right now we don’t have the bandwidth to do it to the high level we would want to.

Who is on your team and what are their roles?
I do the photographs, the interviews and the creative direction. Our director of publishing takes the interviews and makes them sound great. He also oversees the social channels, the newsletter and all our content output.  Matt Hirst does strategy, research and finance. Ed Delfs is our digital media expert and big brand outreach. All of us work together on a daily basis along with the other team members.  It’s an A-level team, everyone plays at a very high level. We also have a rather esteemed group who advise us, including the CEO of HAVAS North America, and the head of BMW strategy. We have attracted the attention of some extremely influential people. I am regularly amazed by the people who are reaching out to us for our thoughts on things or wanting to be included in the AGEIST site.

How are you using quantitative data?
I have always been curious about brand values, brand messaging, and how to best serve that.

With our AGEIST clients, I want to make sure we are getting them the best possible results. We start with qualitative insights gathered from deep in-person interviews. We then boil those down to find specific behavioral drivers. These insights help us to ideate with the client and the social team about what those could look like and what channels we think would work best. Then we test in market, rinse and repeat until we really have it dialed in. Only then do we produce and shoot the high quality work that gets the big media push.

Tell us how you gather your information?
The main strategic model we have created for AGEIST relies on qualitative analysis.  We use our proprietary information, gathered from hundreds of interviews, to inform and educate our clients about what’s up with this remarkable new emerging group of adults. Never before has a 50-year-old had every reason to believe they are only 1/2 way through their lives. That has enormous ramifications on people’s value systems, their purchasing habits and most essentially, how they see themselves in the future. What we do is identify people we think are in this leading edge group living in a new way. I want to know their story, but I also want to know what are they doing now, what are they into, what do they want to learn, how do they feel about different brands, products, media.  We take all this information, fully timecoded, and unpack it, combine it with the hundreds of other interviews, and then pull out and correlate platforms and drivers of behaviours. With this, we can make a predictive model that helps us look forward into how they will feel about certain services, products or communications.

Does every photographer secretly want to be an interviewer? Is this simply the same process of taking a portrait but with words instead?
Personally, I’m a very curious person, and when I photograph someone for a magazine or an ad, it’s a privileged position. Generally, this person is of some interest or accomplishment, or I wouldn’t have been sent in. So I use that time to banter, make jokes, but also to chat with them about what’s they are into.

The process of making a photograph, if I can simplify something that is not so simple, is that we observe, we interpret and we record, which is very much like interviewing. With a great model, it’s like tennis, she hits the ball one way, then I hit it back, on and on. With portraits, it’s still always a partnership. People may not know what’s happening as I chatter away with them, but we are collaborating towards an image that I am focusing on getting. Of course, my vision is only half of that partnership. What the other person is bringing often makes for something wonderful and better than anything I could have pre-visualized.

Would you agree that you’re getting data from people but in a much more transparent and direct way? Whereas let’s say most practices are more subversive?
I would agree with that. We talk. If you don’t want to tell me something, you don’t. It’s not an interrogation, it’s a very pleasant 2-way conversation where I am just really curious about this other person.

What have you learned about yourself as a photographer in this process?
That I love photography. We do interviews, we make videos, we give presentations, we create campaigns, all of which is awesome. But my first love, the one I will never abandon, is photography. It is the driving organisational principle of my life. The still image as a reflective piece of art is a magical object. I have been looking at snapshots, contact sheets, prints and digital images for 50 years, and it holds me like nothing else.

Are you approaching your photography in a new way with this project?
Yes, I am. As someone once told me “if you want to get into the chair across the room, you need to get out of the chair you are in”. I edited my personal site, removing much of the younger lifestyle work. It was scary to do that, as that work was decades in the making.

But you have to choose your lane, and if I was going to do AGEIST, it just didn’t make sense to have the happy snap young people in there. It was a totally different expression. The work now comes from a very different place. It’s not so much “how will clients relate to this”, as “how do I like it and how will my gang in AGEIST like it”. How can I make the most powerful image possible at this moment?

Despite my fears, I am now contacted by advertising and editorial clients to work with them because of this new work.

Your interview with Tara Shannon is a terrific example a woman that has deep roots in the high fashion industry modelling for Irving Penn and Richard Avedon amid many others. Her voice is an excellent discussion about models at 61 and what that wisdom brings to a shoot.
Thanks, that was a great conversation I had with her. She is a fantastic model and someone who has given considerable thought to the idea of invisibility/value as it intersects with age. People can read that here.



Age is a truly a gift. What do you think gets lost in this younger generation?
It’s a bit unfair to ask a 30-year-old to understand a 55-year-old. But it’s the same for me. I really don’t know what it’s like to be 80, I can guess, but I won’t really know until I am there. One of the shocking things about AGEIST is that about 1/3 of our audience is under 30. That is utterly surprising to me and completely unintentional. What they tell us is that we show being older as being filled with possibility, being cool, being people who they aspire to be. So for younger people, we are a north star.

I really dislike the whole idea of age brackets. The only reason we put people’s ages on AGEIST is it’s an interesting data point. But we don’t talk about age, it’s better to just say this person is rad, and they happen to be whatever age. It’s a bit insulting to say to anyone of any age “wow that’s great for someone your age”. That’s not helpful to say to an 8-year-old or an 80-year-old. When someone is cool, it doesn’t matter what age they are, they are just cool.

Why do you think her story is striking a chord with people?
Well, she is, for one thing, an incredible model. She is also a very smart articulate woman of 61 who knows what’s up. Not everyone at 61 can look like Tara, but so many people relate to what she is saying about invisibility and worth in society. Once you tell a group of people who are used to being ignored and are essentially invisible, that now we see them, and we understand them, well that is a massively powerful thing to do.

 

 

 

 

 

The Daily Promo – Gabriela Herman

- - The Daily Promo

Gabriela Herman

Who printed it?
This was printed by Smart Press. I’ve used them previously for other promos and have been pleased. 

Who designed it?
My patient and thoughtful husband worked on the piece with me- t
he perks of being married to a designer! My last big promo was an elaborate fold out poster (which he also designed) so I thought for this one that I wanted to do something else and went with a booklet. I let the images speak for themselves and included very little text, my name doesn’t even appear til page 6.

Who edited the images?
I did with input from various photographer friends (shout out to Steph Goralnick and Mark Wickens). Since I hadn’t sent out a piece in a while, I knew this was going to be more of an overview rather than focusing on just one story. I also wanted to make something that I could send to both editorial and advertising clients. And since this would be going out at the beginning of spring, I knew I wanted colorful, floral and outdoorsy images.

How many did you make?
I had 300 printed. I tend to have a targeted list and send mostly to people who I have worked with or been in touch previously. I’d say only about 20% went out to clients who I had never been in touch with prior. I also included a separate postcard inside with a hand-written note.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Ideally? I’d send something like this out once a year in addition to a smaller item such as a post card a couple times. In reality- it’s been over two years since I last sent out a physical piece! Work got really busy and then I had a baby, so it is what it is. I, of course, also send out newsletters and individual emails, along with the thousands of other things we do as photographers to get work! 

This Week in Photography Books: Priscilla Briggs

 

Just this morning, I was trying to explain Communism to a 9 year old.

Fortunately, he’s very bright for his age, and seems to be interested in history. But it’s still hard to break down planned economies, and the Bolshevik Revolution, to a person who was born on the cusp of The Great Recession.

Basically, I contrasted Capitalism, which is obsessed with extracting money and value from all things, with Communism, which intended to put ownership of the means of production in the hands of workers.

Karl Marx wrote thousands of words about the exploitation of labor by Capitalists. (It’s a rather famous book that railed against endless greed.) I told my son about how in practice, Soviet Communism meant the state had control over where you lived, what you did for a job, what you could eat, and where you could travel.

America, by contrast, offers freedom and choice. But in 2017, it’s pretty clear that regular people and the entire planet are cannon fodder for the big guns.

Cash rules everything around me indeed.

The Soviet Union collapsed, as we all know, and Russia is now a Capitalistic dictatorship. There may still be a Communist Party there, (I didn’t bother to check,) but if so, it’s one among many, and all are subservient to Putin.

But the Soviet Union was not the only major Communist power, of course. Not to be outdone by Stalin’s cruelty, Mao Zedong led a Communist revolution in China, in 1949, and eventually ruled over the massive, populous country for decades.

The upshot of Communism, supposedly, was that everyone would be guaranteed a place to live, a job, food, and time off. Theoretically, that would obviate things like homelessness, and it was meant to create a level playing field.

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.

These days, though, China is Communist in name only. It has become a global economic powerhouse, and has begun to transition into being a political one as well. Capitalism is alive and well, in the Middle Kingdom, and its conspicuous consumption and income disparity seem rather familiar, if you ask me.

If the middle class in America continues to hollow out, we’ll be left with nothing but the rich and the poor. But in China, with their rapid development, hundreds of millions of people have been brought out of poverty.

Their middle class is booming while ours disappears, but still, the lifestyle difference between rural farmers and wealthy urbanites in China is still probably wider than in America at present.

Consumption is all the rage in China these days, and I can say that with some confidence, having just put down “Impossible is Nothing: China’s Theater of Consumerism,” a new book by Priscilla Briggs, recently published by Daylight.

It’s funny, the way themes develop from week to week. Last Friday, I talked about that certain homegrown authenticity that projects have, when photographers work where they’re from. Aaron Hardin and Evgheny Maloletka made very different pictures, in the American South and Eastern Ukraine, but their photographs had that special sense of local juice.

Today’s book, by contrast, belongs to the far-reaching tradition of artists traveling to new places, camera in hand, and shooting what they see and explore.

From what I can gather, Ms. Briggs went to an artist residency in Xiamen, which likely kicked off her investigation. Regardless, the titles at the end confirm she shot in China between 2008-13.

I don’t mean to knock this book before I even get started, as the wandering eye can often bring a more distanced, perhaps critical view. Certainly, irony is often boosted by the outsider’s perspective.

And that’s mostly what we get here. The series is heavily ironic, as the most prominent repeating motif is the backdrop. The fake world, enmeshed with the real thing, comes up again and again.

(In fairness to Ms. Briggs’ observations, after writing the column, I discovered this Ai Weiwei Op-ed, in which he calls China “a place where everything is fake.”)

We see a real boat in front some very realistic-looking fake water, a park bench in front of a painted train car, which itself is in front of a virtual horse farm. Plastic geese before a faux Tahitian village. A fake snow scene, a fake tugboat, and a fake locomotive barreling down the tracks.

You get the picture.

There are also amusement parks, clothing factory workers, and a subset of young women who she photographs before the sea. (Which is real, I think.)

We’ve got hair extensions, fur coats, and pink lingerie that says luxury on it. And lots and lots of photographs of advertisements of women in bras and panties.

I mean lots of photographs.

Are the ads that ubiquitous in China, or is it something she zeroed in on to make a point? I’m not sure, since I’ve never been to China.

This is one of those books, though, that carries a clear point of view. It shows a tacky China, one that builds fake monuments from other places, (Hello, pyramid of Giza,) while simultaneously bulldozing its own history in an orgy of new.

I’m always interested in books that show me things I haven’t seen before, so this qualifies. It shows an absurdist strain of Chinese Capitalism, and I chuckled once or twice. The use of repeating motifs, and the way the edit is structured, shows me a lot of care went into making this book.

Well worth discussing on a Friday in June.

Bottom Line: Ironic, wry take on Chinese consumerism

Click here to purchase “Impossible is Nothing: China’s Theater of Consumerism”

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

Personal Projects: Michael Greenberg

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

Today’s featured artist: Michael Greenberg

The Make Something series was born out of a time when I was writing a lot of estimates and being asked to justify each line item, which made me realize that very few people are privy to the process of what really goes into making a photo shoot. In a broader sense, so much of what we buy and use we have come to take for granted. Consumption is run on autopilot. We order things on Amazon, it shows up in two days or so, it breaks, and the cycle repeats. Or we go to a bar or restaurant, we eat, drink, leave, and it’s just a moment of our day. Many of us have come to settle for things  that are just “good enough” because it’s easy and readily available, and more is just around the corner. I didn’t grow up with a lot of money and I was taught that if I were to buy something, I should seek out quality over quantity which feels harder these days as so much is mass produced in order to be sold at a discount and delivered quickly. It feels like few things these days are still made by hand, so I decided to make a tribute to those people who remain dedicated to the art of making things. It’s about people with a passion for the moving parts.

I chose Transmitter Brewery when I met Rob Kolb (a former Creative Director for theatrical advertising) through a mutual friend. Rob invited me to their brewhouse to document the making of one of their PH sours. He explained to me that they simply make beer that they like, and it was very clear to me that he and his partner Anthony Accardi (a former photo finishing studio owner) truly love what they do. Their brewing process manages to be both wholesome and intimidatingly scientific, and they show their unique personality by experimenting with unexpected flavors. In fact, these are award-winning small batches of beer which are so popular that it took me shooting this to actually get my hands on one! It’s the best reason yet I’ve had to drink on the job.

photographer: Michael Greenberg

photographer: Michael Greenberg

photographer: Michael Greenberg

photographer: Michael Greenberg

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit – The Wrap, The Guardian: Justin Bettman

- - The Daily Edit
.

The Wrap

Creative Director: Ada Guerin
Assistant Photo & Art Director: Laura Geiser
Photographer: Justin Bettman

 


The Guardian

Deputy Creative Director: Chris Clarke
Art Director: Bruno Haward
Picture Editor: Nick Pritchard
Photographer: Justin Bettman


Was your preparation for this shoot different due to him being such a combination of talent?
This was my first time working with Aziz and I always try and do my homework on celebrities before I shoot them to show that I’m prepared. Fortunately, I had read Aziz’s book and watched Master of None season 1 prior to this shoot, so I had some talking points. But as is often the case with celebrities, there isn’t too much time for small talk since they are so busy and don’t have too much time to shoot. In this case, I ended up having around 15 minutes total to shoot.

Did you direct him at all?
I tried pitching a couple of conceptual ideas but his PR team wanted to do straightforward portraiture. Like most celebrities, he had a few expressions that he would consistently do and I felt like it was my job to try and take him out of those go-to poses and capture something unexpected.

Did you assume he’d be animated?
I’d seen Aziz do stand up before and he was super upbeat and energetic on stage so I did expect he’d be jovial. He was very polite and professional throughout the whole shoot but since he was exhausted from writing for the past few weeks (or months), he as a little more reserved than I expected.

Since you had under 30 min, how many set ups did you shoot?
I ended up doing 3 set ups. A studio shoot on a textured painted backdrop with strobes, a set up outside in the shade against white, and then environmental portraits just walking around outside.

Which of the sets up did you end up liking the best and why?

I ended up liking the shots on the white seamless outside since I got the most unexpected shots there. Since there weren’t flashes constantly going off, he let a different side of him come through in those photographs.

Tell us about this moment that ended up as the cover for The Guardian.

I initially shot these photos for The Wrap, an LA-based film industry magazine. The Guardian reached out to me as Master of None Season 2 was coming out and asked if I’d be interested in licensing them a photograph from my previous shoot with Aziz Ansari. When I saw the final cover in layout I was super stoked since this is my first cover I’ve shot.

Since he wrote and directed Master of None, was his on-screen character close to his real character?

In Master of None, you can see Dev is a sincere and caring guy. These characteristics on screen definitely translated to who he was during our shoot. As I touched on before, he wasn’t quite as energetic as I was expecting, but I think with comedians it’s hard to be “on” and cracking jokes all of the time. Overall it was a really pleasant shoot working with Aziz.

The Daily Promo: Maria del Rio

- - The Daily Promo

Maria del Rio


Who printed it?
Anthony over at AW Litho. He was great.  He worked directly with George, the designer on layout, and then mailed me color proofs. From there we tweaked things and got the colors just how I liked them.

Who designed it?
I worked with art director and designer George McCalman. We’ve worked together on shoots in the past and have lots of mutual friends. I had been wanting to work with him for a long time, I really respected his design skills, and equally important to me, his social values and voice.

Who edited the images?
George did, mostly. We met up before he began the design process and discussed what I was looking for.  This was my first mailer promo, the ones I had done before were smaller and used as leave-behinds. He walked me through the process and gave me lots of great advice. He suggested we use this one as more of an introduction to my work, rather than just new work because for most of the people receiving it, it would be their first time seeing my photography. He asked me to send him around 100 of my favorite images and then he narrowed it down to his tops. There was a little back and forth about what images I wanted to shine more than others and several layouts and cover variations we discussed but mostly I trusted his eye.

How many did you make?
1,000. Before that, I had never done more than 300 so I felt like I was swimming in promos. It’s been a good challenge for me to broaden my net of contacts. I’m packaging them and mailing them out by hand, so it’s a slow process and I’m still sending them out. I know a lot of photographers and agents do way more; and I have a new found respect.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Never. I was a little intimidated by the process because of the expense and time so this is my first official mailer. Previously I would just make promos as a leave-behind after portfolio reviews or meetings and update it one to two times a year. My agent Katie, from Lola Creative, has done some small batch promos as well. I think one a year.

Tell us about how you overcame a few obstacles.
Ya, it still stresses me out but it’s definitely been a learning lesson. This is more than triple the amount of promos I’ve ever printed, and obviously, the expense of printing promos is rough. I finally convinced myself the importance of doing it properly and accepted it as an investment. George and I went back and forth so many times over the design, I triple checked the spelling of my name and contact. I showed people in my network, other designers, people from my agency, and friends for feedback. I’m Mexican, so everything is a communal process. I had several rounds of parties where I bribed my friend’s with alcohol and food to help me package up the promos. I’d have my assistants helping package promos on mellow set days. I recruited everyone’s help.

After several rounds of this, my little sister came over to help one night (she is a science and math person, the complete opposite of me). She took one look at the promo cover and said, “Did you mean to spell Photography wrong?” PHOTOGRAPHY was spelled wrong! It was missing the second “h”, but because of the layout, your mind sort of just puts the word together. But still, photography was spelled wrong; on the cover; on 1,000 promos. And at least 20 people had looked at it before I sent it out and no one noticed! Not me. Not George. Not my agent. I panicked. I couldn’t afford to reprint them all. I had already been sending out a ton. George and I talked it out, debating my options. George and Anthony, the printer, discussed it and we came up with a great solution. Rather than reprinting a handful, which would be really expensive to print and ship, Anthony created a sticker, matte paper sticker, that would go over the cover with the correction. I couldn’t swing it on all of them, and like I mentioned some had already gone out. But for the ones with the sticker, I’m super happy with how it looks.  As far as the ones that have the misspelling, I have to just let it go. Most people won’t notice. Some people will. Like a social experiment of the artist brain vs the science brain. Maybe I’ll be remembered as the Photographer who couldn’t spell Photography. Hey, if it makes my name stand out to even one art director, I’ll take it.

The Best Work I Saw at the NYT Portfolio Review, Part 2

 

Today was meant to be a book review.

Aaron Hardin, whom I met at the New York Times portfolio review in late April, had given me a copy of his self-published photo-book, “The 13th Spring.”

Aaron’s a Southern photographer who got an MFA from the Hartford low-residency program, and lives in Tennessee, where he teaches college. His pictures are of that genre of Southern photography that is lyrical, poetic, vibrant, evocative, (insert appropriate adjective here.)

We’ve discussed the genre many times in this column over the years, and Aaron’s work reminds me a bit of my friend Susan Worsham. But that’s the point: from Eggleston through Sally Mann and right on down, photographing the South is a grand tradition, and I never hate on anyone for being an adherent.

I think Aaron’s pictures are strong, and he’s able to communicate a warmth and emotional sensitivity that separate his work from many a Southern photographer.

The book chronicles the time around his daughter’s birth, which a poem, (at the end,) says happened during a birth year for cicadas. Hence the little bug dude on the front cover, which was imprinted on a stately piece of canvas.

The second photograph, of a snake trying to sneak into a house, (despite the two door obstacle,) is pretty fantastic. He swears the snake was trying to get in, that it wasn’t set up in the least, and I believe him.

But it’s a photograph I’m sure he’ll get asked about for years.

The peacock as a repeating motif is pretty cool too. We’ve got the bearded, Jesus-looking guy, the tree growing up through a house, a white cat, a boarded-up shotgun shack, and some nasty bug-sex. (Hence the title.)

It’s a very cool book, I must say. Really well done. Alec Soth and Doug Dubois teach at Hartford, and one can see the influence of their styles, which make for an interesting mashup with Aaron’s Southern roots.

It’s like how the Three Six Mafia represents Memphis, but still sampled from artists on the coasts too. (Big shout out to “Hustle and Flow.” That movie never gets old.)

But like I was saying in the beginning, Aaron was going to get a book review all to himself.

Was.

Past tense.

No sooner did I plan a column on his book alone, than two journalists I met at the review, Evgheny Maloletka and Emelienne Malfatto, emailed me after getting back to internet service in the danger zones in which they were shooting.

Given what we discussed last week, you almost couldn’t make this up. Evgheny was working in the war zone in Eastern Ukraine, near where he grew up, and Emelienne is down in the chaos of Venezuela.

As such, I’m able to show you some of their work as well. So Aaron’s will have to share the spotlight a bit, but as he’s a nice guy, I’m pretty sure he can handle it.

Emelienne Malfatto is a French-Italian documentary photographer who is rather itinerant. When we met in New York, she’d come off of a stint in Iraq, a country at war at the moment, but then jetted off to Caracas, which is not a safe place. And then she pushed off to the hinterlands of Venezuela.

Pretty hardcore.

She showed me pictures of a community in Iraq that had risen against Saddam Hussain, and to retaliate, he drained the swamps of their native lands. I thought some of the pictures were great, but she wasn’t able to access those for me, being out in the field with little internet.

Emelienne is resourceful, though, and managed to transfer me a group of photos she made in the Kurdish area of Northern Iraq. They’re dynamite.

Evgheny Maloletka and I met at the review in New York, and then again on the F train to Brooklyn. Zenhya came up and introduced himself before the review, and was the only person to do so. Given that we use this blog to help educate young professionals, (among other things,) I have to say, things like that make an impression.

He said he had me on his list, and Good Morning, nice to meet you, I hope you have a good day.

You remember things like that.

Even better, his pictures were great. He showed me photographs of the war in the East that were so raw, but were made with visual sophistication, which is a difficult combination. Like Aaron’s pictures are clearly of the South by someone from the South, I’d argue a foreigner would be hard-pressed to make such emotional news photographs.

We also looked at a series about young cheese-makers in the Carpathian Mountains that had echoes of a medieval lifestyle, here in the 21C. And then we saw a project about a community of Romanians who were trapped in Ukraine, when the borders were redrawn.

We’ll look at the war photographs today, but I could easily show you any of the three projects. The dude is very talented, and I expect all three of the young people we’re featuring today will go on to have great careers.

Overall, I was thrilled with the quality of the work I saw in New York, and am glad to be able to share so much of it with you guys. Enjoy the beginning of summer, and we’ll be back with a book review next Friday.

Personal Projects: Steve Babuljak

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

Today’s featured artist: Steve Babuljak

The Oakland Beers baseball team was first introduced to me by a friend on the team. As soon as I heard their name I knew I needed to photograph them. I started going to their home and away games, practices, and hang out spots. Each time I went out I looked to capture something beyond the sports action. What intrigued me was the relational moments of the team and the one-of-a-kind creative details they each brought to the table. Without fail, every visit brought new visual surprises I could have never dreamed up. Capturing their story brought me back to a time before I entered commercial photography. A time free of pressures and expectations, a time with no one watching. It was just us, a field, and time to kill having fun.

After narrowing down the selects with consultant Peter Dennen I presented the project to freelance creative director Aaron James. He and I brainstormed the idea I had about a newsprint tabloid. He ran with it and thought of making it a program guide like the ones you might get at a game. The intention was to keep the project loose and gritty with a yesteryear feel to it. He also brought in illustrator Leo Zarosinski who blew us away with his Beers player characterization for our front cover.

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit – Ted Cavanaugh

- - The Daily Edit

Men’s Health

Creative Director: Mike Schnaidt
Deputy Director of Photography: Sally Berman
Deputy Art Director: Raymond Ho
Food Editor: Paul Kita
Food Stylist: Eugene Jho
Prop Stylist: Kaitlyn DuRoss Walker
Photographer: Ted Cavanaugh

Why did you choose that particular chile for the shot?

Our wonderful food stylist Eugene Jho found some pretty amazing dried peppers from all over Manhattan, but in the end, the reason we loved that chili pepper was that it had an insane fiery orange color at the top, and graduated to a more traditional dark amber color at the bottom. I thought this would be perfect on black because it would make the colors that much more vivid.

Did you wear gloves to handle them?
I didn’t, but Eugene certainly did!

Tell us about the water background and liveliness of that shot?
For this image, our concept was showing peppers in liquid, almost as if they were being pickled in a jar. We initially layered the peppers in a large plexiglass tray in water and a white background. It was immediately clear that the water didn’t read as well as we were hoping. In fact, the water was almost invisible.  After a few frames, I realized the white background and the stagnation of the water weren’t working. So, we switched the background to a beautiful blue and made the water as active as possible. To me, the most exciting thing about water is the textures and shapes it can easily create with the right amount of agitation. Part of what I love about working through concepts on set is the spontaneity of it. There can be long discussions beforehand about what the intended outcome is, but in the end, it’s more about the physical limitations of how the subject reacts with the light and the camera’s sensor….you know, physics and stuff.

Did you submit that spread or did the magazine put those two images together?
The wonderful designers at Men’s Health put that spread together.

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
When I got the call from Sally, she had some images in which she was drawing inspiration from, but she gave me the go ahead to make really cool pictures. The main focus was absolutely all about hot sauce, so we needed to get a really solid composed photo of all the hot sauces. But after that, we just went wild and got as many different variations of graphic chili peppers in different scenarios as time allowed.

 Refinery 29

Senior Photo Editor: Deb Wenof House
Photo Assistant: Megan Madden
Senior Food Editor: Zoe Bain
Food Stylist: Victoria Granof
Prop Stylist: Megumi Emoto
Photographer: Ted Cavanaugh

What type of creative direction did you get to in order to develop these?
I got an email from the wonderful Deb Wenof House in February regarding a shoot in which they wanted to illustrate the convenience of prepping a meal, freezing it, and having it ready for you when you get home late and are famished. One thing I really love about the ladies at Refinery 29 is that they know their brand very well, and come prepared with a storyboard of how they envision a concept. Deb’s associate, Megan Madden, came up with this dazzling sketch. I enjoy collaboration, so if a client has an idea they would like me to make come to life, I’m all for it. One of my favorite parts of being a still life photographer is being able to turn a vision into an image.
It’s a refreshing take on food prep, what was your creative process, do you sketch?
Luckily that day, I was lucky enough to work with Victoria Granof, she’s a food stylist that is always creative and always creating.  She puts her twist on food and it’s a pleasure to be a part of that. In my creative process, I make sure to stop and observe something that we might have otherwise taken for granted.  I remember a few years ago, in an airport, I noticed how beautiful the lighting was and took note of why. It’s just little things like lighting or textures that I find most inspiring. Part of my DNA is always wondering, always asking weird questions. I think a lot of my daily life is inspired by starting a phrase with, “I wonder if…” or, “I wonder why…” Generally speaking, it’s hard for me to turn creativity on and off. It’s more of me being a quirky, inquisitive person who happens to take pictures as well. A lot of my personal work is actually trying to answer those questions. Lots of caffeine never hurt either. My wife, Chelsea Cavanaugh, who is also a still life photographer, inspires me as well. We work together on every shoot, and she has an amazing vision for composition and styling. Lately, if I’ve been feeling anxious or need to change things up, I do some simple calligraphy on a post it note. Something about the process of calligraphy to me is so relaxing. I’m terrible at it, but it’s relaxing none the less.
How many frames are in the time lapse?
It averaged out to be 70 frames per animation.

For the edit from raw ingredients to fully prepared, did you vacuum seal those and add steam to indicate “process”?
Yes! Our prop stylist Megumi Emoto took a straw and sucked out all of the air in each bag for the animation. The steam was created with a handy little thing called smoke sticks, which I, unfortunately, can only find at a local store in NYC.

The Best Work I Saw at the NYT Portfolio Review

 

Though art and news photography commingle these days, artists and journalists are very different breeds.

I studied art at the undergrad and graduate level, and spent the last 20 years learning to understand the language, so it’s pretty natural to me, at this point.

The journalistic ethos I’ve learned on the fly, as I went from starting a little blog here in New Mexico, (that nobody read,) to writing for the New York Times in 4 short years.

Artists mostly do the work for themselves, because they enjoy it. Maybe it’s a path to sanity, or for those with ambition, to having a conversation with an audience of strangers.

But while a small group of artists are overtly political within their practice, for most, it’s about personal expression. (I paint the mountain because the mountain is there.)

Journalists, though, are more mission-driven, on the whole. They might have been nerds in high school, rather than hipsters, but they use their intelligence for the greater good.

Journalists face tough job prospects here in America, and dangerous violence in other places around the globe. Six Mexican journalists have been killed this year alone.

This very morning, in fact, the Republican candidate for Congressman in Montana physically assaulted a reporter from The Guardian, because he asked the man a question.

And just when things seem like they could not possibly get more surreal, the Fox News team, who were about to interview the politician, supported their British colleague as fully as possible.

Their first-hand accounts led to the jerk’s arrest. (And he’ll still probably win the election.)

The point is, while most artists have a cushy, if poorly paying job, many journalists, in order to tell their stories, are forced to put their lives on the line.

When I went to the New York Times portfolio review last month, I was very aware that the young journalists I met were on something of a quixotic trip, as far as careers go.

It’s been said that data, and information in general, are the world’s most valuable currency. Reporters and photojournalists traffic in highly dangerous information, and it makes them targets for murder. More so now than ever before.

I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but it truly is a slippery slope from reporters being beaten to reporters being killed. If we’re not careful, we’ll find our voices here in America, creative or journalistic, have been intimidated into silence.

Most, but not all of the photographers I reviewed came from the journalistic arena. Beyond admiring their gumption, several times I offered technical criticism suggesting the photographers consider embracing a more geometric, formal, “artsy” structure into their compositions.

Clean crops and solid shapes help pictures pop, in my opinion, whereas most news compostions care more about dynamism than structure.

I wasn’t able to procure images from all the photographers I met, but a quick memory-trip tells me they hailed from Colombia, France, China, Egypt, Ukraine, Nigeria, Argentina, South Africa and the United States. (Plus, the Argentine was based in Mexico.)

Today, we’re going to show you the best work I came across at the review. As usual, the photographers are in no particular order.

Miranda Barnes caught me completely off-guard, because she looked like she was 12 years old. Her big smile was disarming, and then her story was even more interesting. She’s born and raised in Brooklyn, and was currently studying law. But she’d fallen in love with photography.

I highly encouraged her to keep both things in her life, for now, because it can be so hard to make a living in photography these days. Miranda taught herself how to use a medium format camera, and then scan the negatives, with a truly impressive level of skill.

She showed me two series; one looked at Upper East Side rich folks after Trump’s election, and the other, which we’re showing here, featured African American Twins. When I asked her why she chose the latter subject, she said that when she’d looked up twins in Google Image, there were no kids of color at all.

Annie Tritt, who shoots editorially, had a project “Transcending Self,” about transgender and gender expansive children. It’s a subject that’s getting a lot of media coverage, so I appreciated that the pictures were topical, as well as being well-made.

We discussed whether she might want to do a deep dive on one particular subject, rather than a survey of many, so that the viewer can get a richer, more nuanced take on an issue that can be hard for some people to understand.

Yan Cong is a Chinese photojournalist and blogger, and she showed me a pretty strange project. Apparently, Beijing is preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympic games, which I didn’t know. That, along with the city’s wealth, created the need for ski areas in Northern China, within range of Beijing.

Yan is documenting the changes in one small town, as it’s transformed over the next five years. But that project is ongoing, and not ready to show, so I checked out a multi-media piece she’d made about the trafficking of Cambodian brides in China.

I found the audio track to be remarkable, and extremely sad. It’s worth a watch/listen, as it’s a good lesson in how adding to the photographic experience can increase a viewer’s emotional connection.

Rujie Wang was also from China, and was finishing up her BFA at the School of Visual Arts. I really loved her project, “Made in China,” in which she photographed cheap crap from the dollar store, alongside her friends from China, who were the models.

Eventually, she started composting in the studio, so the kitchy objects and neon palette create a visual aesthetic that is very contemporary. Even better, she’s begun to turn the photographs into .gifs, in which certain image layers dance around the surface of the picture, like characters out of Pokemon Go. Once she’s sorted out the proper way to exhibit the .gifs, I think they’ll be massively successful.

David “Dee” Delgado was my room captain for the review on Sunday, and we chatted a bit during breaks. I always offer to look at people’s work once I get home, if we can’t sit down, so Dee sent me a set of files the other day.

Apparently, for “Bike Life,” he’s shooting street riders in his home borough of the Bronx. I’m always telling you guys I want to see things I’ve never seen before, and these pictures definitely qualify. The high-contrast, hyper-real, black and white look makes them feel of the moment as well.

Lujan Agusti had maybe my favorite work, at least of the things that were totally resolved. Though she’s Argentine, she’s based in Veracruz, Mexico, the Western Hemisphere’s most dangerous place to be a journalist.

Lujan has photographed indigenous Mexicans from the area, in the clothing they wear for local festivals and ceremonies. I love that she updated a trope by bringing the subjects into the studio, and using their costume fabrics as backdrops.

Along with the creepy-clown vibe, the colors and patterns give these pictures some major visual tension. They’re great, and I love the way they manipulate color to channel the festive, reverential spirit of the ceremonies they’re meant to represent.

Portrait of dancing clown with the typical costume. When they use their masks they prefer not to reveal their identity. From the gang “Cuadrilla de Juquilita”, Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, 2016.

Detail of typical bonnet used by dancing clowns. Each member creates his/her own bonnet, they sometimes put religious images on it. From the gang “Cuadrilla de Juquilita”, Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, 2016.

Portrait of dancing clown with the typical costume. When they use their masks they prefer not to reveal their identity. From the gang “Cuadrilla de Juquilita”, Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, 2016.

Detail of hand with castanets, usually used while dancing. From the gang “Cuadrilla de Juquilita”, Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, 2016.

Portrait of dancing clown with the typical costume. When they use their masks they prefer not to reveal their identity. From the gang “Cuadrilla de Juquilita”, Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, 2016.

Portrait the leader of the gang, showing the images of the Virgin of Guadalupe. He represents a Spaniard and is in charge of giving order to the dancers. Many of the clowns go out to dance by promise to the Virgin of Guadalupe.From the gang “Cuadrilla de Juquilita”, Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, 2016.

Jose Luis takes off his mask. From the gang “Cuadrilla de Juquilita”, Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, 2016.

Portrait of Claudio. The use of the handkerchief is also typical. They do it to reveal even less of their identity, and wear it under the mask. From the gang “Cuadrilla de Juquilita”, Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, 2016.

Detail of typical costume and fabric used by the dancing clowns. From the gang “Cuadrilla de Juquilita”, Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, 2016.

Portrait of dancing clown with the typical costume. When they use their masks they prefer not to reveal their identity. From the gang “Cuadrilla de Juquilita”, Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, 2016.

Portrait of dancing clown with the typical costume. When they use their masks they prefer not to reveal their identity. From the gang “Cuadrilla de Juquilita”, Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, 2016.

Portrait of Mayra. There is no requirement to participate in the gang, and people of any social class participate. They should only respect the leader’s orders, not drink alcohol, or have uncontrolled or violent attitudes during the dance. From the gang “Cuadrilla de Juquilita”, Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, 2016.

Detail of typical bonnet and mask used by dancing clowns. Each member creates his/her own bonnet, and mask. The mask is used to hide their identity, and dance freely. From the gang “Cuadrilla de Juquilita”, Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, 2016.

Last, but not least, we have Andres Millan. My editor Jim Estrin grabbed me, at one point, and said I had to talk to this young guy, so I said sure.

Andres had two projects I thought were very cool, the first of which featured panoramic images of Colombians battling illness. They were excellent, and the odd aspect ratio definitely helped them to stand out.

The other project, “The New Gold,” which we’re featuring here, contains pictures made in the Amazon basin. I liked that he intervened in the landscape, painting things gold to match the title, as it made the pictures more memorable. (Always a good thing at an event where you’re seeing so much work in a compressed amount of time.)

Personal Projects: Jennifer Davidson

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

Today’s featured artist: Jennifer Davidson

Seeing Clearly

Ciénaga, Colombia, home to ~120,000 people, is perched between the Caribbean Sea and a large estuary. These two bodies of water are vitally important to locals who rely heavily on fishing for sustenance and income.   Poverty is a hard reality in this area: many relocated here after they were displaced from violence in Colombia’s recent past. Eye and vision problems are very common, stemming from a combination of the intensity of the sun reflecting off water, poor nutrition, and inaccessibility to quality healthcare when accidents occur.

For over 20 years, a group of doctors from the US and Canada have been traveling to Colombia with Medical Ministry International to provide services for better eye health around the country. In 2015, I joined this team to document their work in Ciénaga, both in the clinic and operating room, and to connect with the people who were coming, some from great distances, to take advantage of these services. Through smiles and tears, people generously shared their stories and homes with me. I met a man with cataracts whose life was filled with tragic loss but has found solace in a family down the street. With his eyes straight after a strabismus surgery, an 11-year old boy expressed how eager he was to go back to school knowing that the kids there would no longer have reason to make fun of him. A young mom showed off her prosthetic eye and beamed with joy as she told me her story, now full of hope. This new eye meant social acceptance and the ability to pursue her dream job of hotel management.

When I ventured to the surrounding towns supported by Ciénaga, I found 10-year old refugee camps where people lived who had been displaced from their small towns by FARC guerillas. Even though it is safe for many them to return, these barrios are now their home, these people their family. There were isolated fishing villages built entirely on stilts deep in the estuary where a good fishing spot eventually became a community. Fishermen talked about having to raise their homes when the floods came though, a huge undertaking, but they preferred life in these quiet villages to the crime and noise of the cities where economic opportunities can be greater.

During the two-week program, over 5700 people came to the clinic, with 100s of surgeries performed and 1000s of glasses handed out, but what impressed me most was the resiliency of the people I met. It is easy to forget the power of simple things like reading glasses, which are abundantly available to many of us. Seeing someone who is able to read for the first time in years and the smile that brings to their whole being is unforgettable. So is the tenderness of people living in pieced-together houses with light beaming through cardboard walls, as they tell stories of lives filled with hardship, but also with family. With their new glasses or cataract-free eyes, people were able to see the world more clearly. Those who had come to the clinic with an eye crossed, or even missing, left looking forward to the way their culture would now see them. And I, who arrived with my vision physiologically sound, departed with a new perspective on the daily trials people survive and how, while they may be lacking in material comforts, together, can even thrive.

To see more of the project, click here

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

 

The Daily Edit – Bonobo: Neil Krug

- - The Daily Edit

Photographer: Neil Krug
Artist: Bonobo
Record Label: Ninja Tune

Heidi: What inspired you to create this type of imagery for the album package?
Neil: I had one conversation with Simon (Bonobo) over coffee last summer in Los Angeles, and from that meeting the overall narrative of the package began to form.  I’ve been a fan of Bonobo for a long time and wanted the campaign to stand out amongst the rest, so it was a process of chasing a specific type of landscape imagery tied to the mood of his album, whilst complimenting my own sensibilities of the type of artwork I think will work best across all platforms.

I think the mantra we both took away from our meeting was “beautifully sinister”.  Once I honed in on those words and placed myself in the mojave desert at 4am, the imagery began to spill out. I wanted the work to feel primal and alive, building in momentum into the earth cracked open.  That feeling was materialized into the image that became the cover.

How many hours of drone flight did you accumulate to get the clips you were looking for?
If I remember correctly, only 45 minutes of drone material was shot.  I chased the edit I had in mind so everything was done in one or two takes, plus the sun was going down.

How did the unnatural surprises get incorporated into the images ( fire, blue light, smoke)
The elemental fire, smoke, and light are the characters the landscape shots required in order for the viewer to get involved, otherwise the imagery felt too safe as far as i’m concerned.  The elements invite you in and give the work a reason to exist.

Did you promote yourself to them or did they seek you out?
Ninja Tune (the record label) made the request.  I live by the code of do right by the work, and the work will do right by you.

I know photography wasn’t your first choice and your film experience was self-taught. Looking back, how did this influence you now and set you apart?

It’s hard to say, as it’s something I don’t reflect on often.  If anything, the self-taught method allowed time from me  to grow a thick skin, and more importantly to trust the work. I’m not certain I would be here now if I didn’t pay attention to these things early on.

How long have you been with FORM and has your work evolved or changed since you’ve been on board?
I’ve began working with FORM during the fall of last year and it’s been a rewarding working relationship ever since. Having a great team to work with on a day-to-day basis is an important part of the process, so it’s a blessing to be in the company of people who share your vision.