The Daily Promo: Pixsy Copyright and Image Protection

- - The Daily Edit

pixsy logo

Daniel_Headshot

Pixsy

Founder: Daniel Foster

Pixsy is one of the leading reverse image search platforms that helps photographers get compensation for their stolen work.  Daniel had reached out to me after I tweeted to a company that used one of my images without my permission; I had hashed tagged the tweet:  #copyrightinfringement #photographyrights #copyright. His tweet was a welcome surprise.

Tell us how this project evolved for you.
A friend found one of her best photos used on a website selling holistic healing services. She’s been photographing professionally for twenty years and didn’t know what to do.

I thought it was very unfair that a business was profiting from her work while she was debating whether or not to cancel her health insurance to pay the rent, and realized that photographers need tools to address this problem.

What images were getting stolen from you?
I had a self-portrait used in an online advertisement without permission several years ago, and then observed a few of my architecture photos used without authorization later on.

How do you source the stolen images?
We use reverse image search to find copies, including manipulations, of a photo. From there it is up to the photographer to determine if a displayed use is authorized and if not, what action he or she wishes to take.

How does company sustain itself? Is the income from shared proceeds on the legal cases?
We receive a success-based commission for all payments we collect on behalf of photographers. The vast majority of our platform is free, and we also receive some subscription revenue from premium services such as our DMCA takedown feature.

Are you seeing a trend in stolen information or any particular area? 
Image theft occurs in every industry. We’ve noticed that music and concert photographers see their work stolen at a higher rate. Unlicensed use also appears to be a significant problem in the real estate industry.

What is the approx range for cases you’ve settled, lowest and highest?
Various factors influence the amount of compensation we request, including your previous sales history, local law, and the nature of the use. When we pursue a legal settlement, this has ranged from the thousands up to six-figure settlements.

How do I sign up and how much is it?
You can import and track up to 5,000 photos for free. Plans that give you up to 10,000 photos and our DMCA takedown feature start at $9.99 a month. Our service is invitation-only. You can request an invitation on our homepage.

Are there any free resources or is there a subscription plan?
There is a free plan to search up to 5,000 photos.

Can I batch export my photo library and have you scour the internet for usage?
We support one-click import from Flickr, 500px, Tumblr, Photoshelter, Instagram, SmugMug and Dropbox. You can also upload photos or import from a website. We’re adding new import sources on a regular basis.

Pixsy_submit_case

Pixsy_takedown_DMCA

Walk us through the process of how this works.
Once you sign up and import photos, we begin the search process. Matches typically begin appearing immediately. From there you can browse through your matches. If you find a use of a photo you did not authorize and it is commercial in nature, you can use our “Submit case” feature to send it to our team to review. Depending on the situation and your wishes, we can take steps to secure a license fee for you or refer the matter to one of our law firms around the world.

We’re currently resolving cases in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Denmark.

The Daily Promo: Luke Copping

iw4c4694 (1)

iw4c4716 (1)

iw4c4724 (1)

Luke Copping

Who printed it? Who designed it?
It was both printed and designed  by Agency Access, I recently moved my printing to them because of the extremely high quality and their ability to offer some objective insight into the layouts and flow of the work.

Who edited the images?
In this case I did, but in past efforts I have worked with designer Emilie Lamoreaux, as well and consultants Karen DSilva and Angee Murray to help with my editing and image selection. This collection was primarily focused on sharing some of my more recent projects and features subjects like Buffalo Bills Quarterback EJ Manuel, violinist and recording artist Yuki Numata Resnick, labor attorney Ginger Schröder. US Marine and endurance runner Tony Nash, and Guy William Gane — a historical reenactor who provides period accurate casting and costuming for a number of television shows and feature films.

How many did you make?
I printed 250 of them, I used to send out a much larger batch, but I have condensed and focused my list to primarily focus on editorial clients and a few selects agencies. A few are also earmarked to go out to existing clients that I like to keep updated with my projects.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Of these tri-folds I generally send out about 4 mailings a year. However, I do send some other promotions throughout the year that go out to a list of key clients. These tend to be larger in scale and scope, and are often often designed by Shauna Haider of We Are Branch. Currently I’m sending out a 24 page newsprint style zine printed by Newspaper Club. I love newsprint promos because of the feel of them and there is something perfectly imperfect and lo-fi about the way the images end up looking. I also have some other promos that are aimed at acquiring new corporate clients, these tend to be a little more service oriented and currently take the form of small booklets that go out to potential clients in this space.

Tell us how the gap between personal work and commissioned work is becoming more narrow.
In the promos I’ve been sending out in the last year or two I’ve found that my personal work, which often features artisans and entrepreneurs from the Rust Belt (and specially the Western New York/Buffalo area) has become more prominent. Mostly, this is because the gap between my commissioned work and my personal projects is getting narrower — in that I am often getting hired for assignments that are more aligned with the personal projects I have been producing. I also feel that the compelling stories behind these projects have a wide appeal, a hook which is helpful to me in appealing to many different kind of clients that run the gamut from local small businesses to newsstand magazines.

This Week In Photography Books: Emma Phillips

by Jonathan Blaustein

My kids love yogurt pretzels.

I do too.

For some reason, they seem better-for-you than other kinds of dessert. Maybe it’s the word yogurt in the title? Makes them seem like a health food, rather than sugar-covered-salty-snacks.

Maybe if their official name was “sugar-covered-salty-snacks,” I wouldn’t buy them. I’d stick with 80% dark chocolate, or some other sweet snack that makes you feel bougie and special.

Like fruit.

We all love the yogurt pretzels because the combination of salty and sweet makes your tongue feel like it’s on a vacation in the Bahamas. The palm trees are swaying gently in the breeze. Island music bellows in the background, with plenty of steel drum.

Wait. Where was I?

Right.
Yogurt pretzels.

We expect our sweets to be sweet, but when you throw in the element of salt, your taste buds get a bit confused. But they like it. They really like it.

Our bodies have a taste for a salt for a very good reason. If we don’t get enough, we die.

Say what now?

That’s right. Without enough salt, we die. Humans need it. We may see it primarily as a flavor enhancer for our food, but it’s actually a vital, essential mineral, necessary for survival.

Who knew?

I did, mostly because I made friends with a salt merchant back in 2014. His name is Frank, and I really owe him a visit. (He has a store in Santa Fe called Olive Grove.)

I met Frank a couple of summers ago, and fell in love with the beauty and mystery surrounding his high-end salt crystals. Expensive stuff from Iran, Australia, Korea, that sort of thing. (Fancy food in Santa Fe? Quelle surprise!)

With Frank’s input, I learned that salt used to be the world’s most precious commodity, because of the whole life-or-death thing. It was traded around the world, worth more than gold, and was actually used as money.

Yet most of us see it as a processed, Morton-sponsored food item that causes hypertension if you eat too much of it. We love it on our chips, in our guacamole, and on just about everything you can imagine.

But rarely do we see it decontextualized. Which is odd, given its potential symbolic resonance. If you don’t eat enough, you die. If you eat too much, you die.

How’s that for a symbol?

Needless to say, I was very intrigued when I reached into my book stack, and pulled out an oversized, light-cream-colored offering. There was no name on it, and nothing to speak of, beyond one word: salt.

I opened it up, and missed the title page. All I saw were beautiful, slightly oversaturated pictures of a salt mine.

Somewhere.

I’ll always have a soft-spot for minimalism, and admitted last week, for the 100th time, that I love to see things I haven’t seen before. So I enjoyed these pictures almost as much as…
a yogurt pretzel?

Page after page shows us different visions of what I assume is one salt mine, somewhere. We get a picture of a camper parked on some salt flats.

Nevada?

I have no idea, because as I turned, page after page, I found no supporting material at all. I actually had to start over, and be very careful, just to find the artist’s name on the first page: Emma Phillips.

There are no titles, no statements, no captions. Nothing but salt, in its natural form, and the trucks used to move it around.

Hell, I don’t even know who published the damn thing. But I like the book a lot. It’s beautiful, and graceful, and even soft, in a way. (Are the pictures just a tad soft-focus? It’s hard to tell…)

Unlike its subject, there is nothing vital about this book. It feels like a luxury item. Well-made, understated, and in no great hurry to brag about itself. (Like Frank’s expensive salt in Santa Fe.)

This one is very cool, and I wish I could tell you more about it. But Emma Phillips thought her pictures spoke for themselves, and who am I to argue?

Bottom Line: Beautiful book about a salt mine, somewhere…

To Purchase “Salt” visit Photo-Eye

IMG_2277

IMG_2278

IMG_2279

IMG_2280

IMG_2281

IMG_2282

IMG_2283

IMG_2284

IMG_2285

IMG_2286

IMG_2287

IMG_2288

IMG_2289

IMG_2290

IMG_2291

IMG_2292

The Art of the Personal Project: Bob O’Connor

- - Personal Project

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

Today’s featured photographer is: Bob O’Connor

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

How long have you been shooting?
15 years

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I went to school for architecture, but took a lot of photo classes while I was there. That said, I learned more from assisting photographers in the real world than I ever did in school.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I was interested in the sparse landscapes and ever changing weather that exists in Iceland.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
This project is from a single, two week, trip to Iceland. It was presented as soon as I got the film scanned and retouched.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I tend to think about and plan things for so long that by the time I get around to photographing them I’m pretty confident they’re going to work. If it’s gotten to the point that I’m getting on a plane and going somewhere, I know I have a project that’ll work.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I don’t think they’re that different. I make a conscious effort to keep all the work I show in my portfolio/website, whether from personal or commercial projects, feeling that same. The goal is to get hired for projects that I would’ve done for myself even if someone wasn’t paying me. I try not to dilute my aesthetic with images that are overly commercial looking, solely there to attract a client.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I’m a regular Instagram user @oconbo I’d say I post the early stages of projects and/or process images there and save the final images for my website.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
This project slowly made its way around to a lot of design and photo blogs. It wasn’t a single day viral hit. I did a limited edition print of the horse image with Jen Bekman’s 20×200 project that did sell out in less than a day.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes. A postcard with an image from this project that was sent to an art buyer resulted directly in me getting an advertising job to take a similar style image for their project.

—————–

Bob O’Connor is a Boston based photographer interested in the places that people live and work. His work has appeared in a variety of publications including, The New York Times Magazine, Fast Company, Technology Review, Dwell, and Fortune magazines. O’Connor’s work has also been shown at The Photographic Resource Center, The Griffin Museum of Photography, and Jen Bekman Gallery. He was named one of “30 Emerging Photographers to Watch” by PDN in 2006 and one of Resource Magazine’s “10 Best 10” in 2009.


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.

Penelope Umbrico Interview

- - Art

Penelope Umbrico is one of the most forward-thinking, successful photographic artists working today. I heard her speak at the Filter Festival in Chicago last year, and she was kind enough to agree to an extensive interview earlier this year. You can see her work on the wall at the Mark Moore Gallery in LA, April 16-June 18, and at the Milwaukee Art Museum, May 5-August 7.

Jonathan Blaustein: How did you get started as an artist? Are you a lifer? Were you making things when you were four?

Penelope Umbrico: I was making things when I was four, yes.

JB: What was your four-year-old art like? Were your stick figures particularly dynamic?

PU: I can’t really remember. There are a few things I do remember having made. A set of bookmarks which featured tiny, little, extremely detailed marks with watercolors. Repeated marks, over and over again, which is oddly relevant to the work that I do now.

JB: Prophetic.

PU: And a dollhouse that I made out of found objects. Which is also relevant, actually, as it was all repurposing stuff. Things like spools and matchboxes. Things that I could find became the furniture, and I also remember a set of figurines that I made out of bobby-pins. So I guess I’ve always been repurposing things.

JB: Have you always made stuff, or did you do it like all kids do, move on, and then re-find it later. That’s what I meant to ask…

PU: No, I’ve always made stuff. I remember, as a kid, my family would be downstairs watching television, and I’d be up in my room making stuff.

JB: I saw in your bio that you went to art school in Canada.

PU: Yeah.

JB: That doesn’t seem to be a common phenomenon, for Americans, so it struck me that there’s this whole SCTV, subversive comedy thing. Countless Canadians to who came to America with this skewed, almost twisted perspective that seemed to do well here.

Given that your work is subversive and edgy, I wondered if you thought that stepping out of America like that had anything to do with your evolution? Maybe that’s random?

PU: That’s interesting, because I actually grew up in Toronto, Canada.

JB: You did? Ok, I wondered, but Wikipedia said you were born in Philly.

PU: I was born while my parents were going to music school at Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. They got jobs in the Toronto Symphony so I grew up in Toronto.

But I’ve never made that connection before- that there’s a subversive, Canadian element in the work of Canadians who move to the States. It’s a healthy outsider skepticism of corporate culture, maybe?

I would guess most American artists are skeptical of corporate culture as well, but maybe Canadians are more so (laughing.) Canadians definitely have a skepticism of America.

JB: What was your work like before the Internet? Your art is so connected to digital reality…

PU: Well, I moved to the states in ’86. But before that I went to Ontario College of Art, as it was called when I was there. My major was Experimental Art – which I guess was the equivalent of new media today – but we also had to do conventional stuff like life-drawing, printmaking, dark-room photography. I think my final project was a grid of dried peas that I hung, at eye level – ha ha, all round things in a grid.

JB: Organization and structure. I love it.

PU: Yeah. I also made a project, I remember, that was a total failure. I wanted to suspend glycerin in oil, so I made this plastic cube. I thought if I filled the thing with oil, and then injected glycerin into the center of it, because the glycerin and the oil are the same weight, the glycerin would create a perfect sphere in this cube. I tried it, and it didn’t work at all.

JB: Sounds cool.

PU: But “Experimental Arts” then was mostly video. It’s interesting, one of the things I remember most about the video class was the first half concentrated on how to organize cords. How they needed to be organized and wrapped properly. And at around that time, one of the instructors asked me to draw a computer, because I had done a lot of illustration and drawing. He needed it for something, and I thought, “What does a computer look like?” This was 1978, ’79, and he kind of sketched out one of those early Apple 512k machines.

JB: When did you start working with Photography?

PU: Not seriously until I was doing my MFA in Painting at SVA.

The earliest photographs were really looking at consumer culture, moving through it in a virtual way. I think all of the photographs that I‘ve made deal with ‘virtually’ occupying another space.

I’ve never been interested in going out on the street and taking photographs. I’ve always been interested in the illusionary spaces that we, as a culture, create for ourselves.

Does that make sense?

JB: It speaks to the way you see your through-line. But I’d love to talk about appropriation for a moment, which is another constant in your work.

I appropriated images from the Internet for a project in 2006–7, and I remember when I first started, it felt kind of naughty.
For you, did it ever feel improper?

PU: No.

JB: There was never a moment for you where you thought what you were doing was transgressive, as opposed to natural?

PU: I think it depends upon how one defines transgressive, and in what context is it transgressive.

JB: OK.

PU: I actually think all art is, or should be, to a certain degree, transgressive. I take that as a given and don’t think very much about it.

For me, what drives me to make work is stuff that affects me, and makes me question why it’s there. I’m seeing things on the web that, and whether it would be transgressive or not, I have to work with them because they’re asking questions of me that I can’t ignore.

I’m thinking, “What is going on here?” And then I have to look at it closer. And since I’m finding something going on there that is not the original intent of the images, I feel I have absolutely every right to use them.

The simplest example of this is a set of canvases that I had printed at places like Costco and Kinkos of that iconic image of the sun rays coming down in Grand Central Station. You know that photograph?

JB: OK.

PU: If you do a web-search of it, there are four versions of it that nobody really knows who the photographer is. If you look for the attributions for these four images, a multitude of different titles, names, dates, licenses, copyright-holders claim title. Poster companies, photo-stock sites, souvenir manufacturers etc.

And often, the image will have a company’s logo right across it claiming copyright. In my mind, this ungrounded claim to ownership, which would have most people believe the corporate entity actually does have the right to ask you to pay to use the image, begs to be tested.

The fact is, that image is in the public domain – it’s old enough that nobody owns it. Everyone has, or should have, the right to use it. I’m appropriating, yes, but those copyrighters are also appropriating. And they are hindering creative fair-use, I am not.

JB: To me, you’re the edge of this, in how much of it you do, and the way in which the digital universe is subsuming reality in many ways. I was curious how you got started, and it sounds like you never felt wrong, from day one.

But do you think that copyright is an outmoded concept? Should it exist anymore?

PU: I think it needs to exist in certain contexts, for sure, but I think within the art world, no. (pause.) That’s a very simplistic answer.

I think authorship is a given in an artist’s work. There’s an element of a work of art that has an inherent sense of having been authored to it. It has the signature of the artist… without actually being signed – I mean, this can register in the work’s form or style, or its concept, or they way it engages a context… but it’s there.

Copyright in relationship to an artist is a different issue than to a photographer who is hired to make photographs, for instance, in service to an industry, and the livelihood of the photographer is dependent on that industry.

The difference between those two photographies is so great that to lump them together and ask does copyright apply is an almost impossible question to answer. There are so many fields within it, and they have such different structures and markets.

Does that make sense?

JB: Let’s be honest. It’s a tricky subject. The reason I asked is that you’re sitting on the edge of what can be done with it. With respect to your famous project about the Suns from Flickr, I haven’t yet gotten to see the installation, but I look forward to it.

You’re also speaking about aggregating and searching with that project. I’d think some people think it’s cool as hell that their Suns ended up in your work, and nobody will ever know. But it is a touchstone topic. Not everybody thinks it’s OK to take that.

Maybe I do, and you do, but we’re speaking for the purpose of an audience that’s going to have some skeptics in it. That’s why I wanted to ask these questions.

You always thought it was OK to take the Suns, and in so doing, you made a piece of contemporary art that is highly relevant to the way we live today.

PU: But I’m also not just taking the Suns. What I’m doing is, I have multiple levels of…

JB: I know. It’s crazy. Here’s how I remember it, from your lecture at the Filter Festival in Chicago: You showed images of the Suns, the installation of the Suns, then you found pictures of people standing in front of the installation, as if they were standing in front of a sunset backdrop, and THEN, if I remember correctly, you found pictures of people taking pictures of the people who were photographed in front of the installation.

PU: But you’re jumping ahead.

JB: OK.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 2.53.50 PM

This is a project I started when I found 541,795 pictures of sunsets searching the word “sunset” on the image hosting website, Flickr. I cropped just the suns from these pictures and uploaded them to Kodak, making 4″ x 6″ machine prints from them.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 2.54.07 PM

This is a project I started when I found 541,795 pictures of sunsets searching the word “sunset” on the image hosting website, Flickr. I cropped just the suns from these pictures and uploaded them to Kodak, making 4″ x 6″ machine prints from them.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 2.56.28 PM

Taken from stock photography sites, Copyrighted Suns / Screengrabs, points to the absurdity in trying to “own” the image of the sun. The work also summarizes the collective narratives we weave around it’s setting – I used the descriptive tags of each of the images for the titles of each “water-marked” sun.

PU: That’s true. There are multiple iterations of the work. One has sort of come from another, but before we even get there, there are multiple filters that I’m using in my own conceptual framework that will allow me to use an image, or not.

JB: Sorry to have interrupted. We’d love to hear about it.

PU: On Flickr, I search for sunset. There are millions of them. So the images are fairly large, and they have lots going on in them.

One of the filter criteria for me is the sun has to be able to be decontextualized on its own – I need to be able to crop it out of the picture without anything from the Earth interjecting into it – in order to get a lack of subject in the image. In my cropping, it’s just the Sun that’s being depicted, with no reference to where the subject who’s taking the photograph is standing.

Number 2, the sunset image has to be iconic. Not a purple sun with black clouds, or a black-and-white-filter arty pic. I’m not interested in other photographer’s idiosyncratic, individualistic points of view of what a sunset is.

What I’m looking for are those kinds of collective, iconic ideas of what a sunset is. Right now, we can picture what that is, right?

JB: Yes.

PU: Orange-y yellow, with the sun hovering just above the horizon. That was the other filter: it had to look like a script.

JB: A cliché?

PU: A cliché, yes. I think that cliché is a really interesting word. It’s something that we all know. For me, the word scripted is maybe more how I would describe that cliché, I guess.

I think of it as kind of a script, rather than a cliché, because it’s following a certain set of patterns.

You get the camera. You see that the sky getting a little darker. You imagine there might be color in the sky. You might go to the place where you could see more sky, and everybody’s doing this at this moment. And instead of sitting there, and really enjoying that sunset, you’re snapping it.
The snapping, the whole act of it, is kind of a scripted behavior that we’ve followed for years and years.

JB: But you wouldn’t call it Universal?

PU: I would call it Universal on a certain level, although I don’t like the word.

JB: (laughing) You don’t like the words I’m using.

PU: Well, the reason I wouldn’t call it Universal is I don’t assume anything is Universal. It’s certainly collective. Universal seems too over-arching.

JB: How about this, I’ve got a real short word: Why? Are you interested in why people feel compelled to do this, collectively?

PU: (pause.) I think at the beginning of this project, I was kind of shocked. We have one sun up there in the universe. One Sun – warm, singular, life-giving – and the first search I did in 2006 found 554,000 images of it… in this digital, electronic, blue-light virtual space. That in itself was odd and strange. It was something I couldn’t ignore.

JB: We both know that underlying the entire digital reality, is just string of ones and zeroes. An endless, unimaginable block of binary code. Just like you said, there’s one Sun in the Universe, it’s one star of billions.

If one were to have that Gods-eye-view of stars in the Universe, it would look like just a pattern of dots.

This idea of pattern and structure underlying all of the things that you photograph, it seems pretty connected to the way you use organization, structure and rigor to comment on it. It’s all just one big structural metaphor, no?

I wanted to throw that “Why” at you, because when I heard your lecture, it was all about what you were doing. Everyone has a different perspective. I like to dig into the “Why.”

What is the meaning of these metaphors? Why do they make so much sense, and why do they speak to so many other people?

PU: The “Why” of it does speak to, is a kind of exploration of, what it means to be digital, or to feel digital; to be a number in the world; the sense of the subject-less-ness of existence in this kind of a consumer web context.

In the act of making, sharing, and consuming images, it seem like the more one shares images of oneself, the less one exists in the world. This sharing seems like a manifestation of an anxiety or fear of disappearance.

You started to point towards the “Why” when you were raising the issue of the iterations of this work. For me, the project of the suns was about erasing the individual.

In the project with the sun, I am using an image that speaks to the intended individualized position of those photographers, but I am erasing the subjectivity I find in the image to point to the subjects’ inadvertent, unintended, participation in a collective process.

JB: OK.

PU: The second part of the project, with people in front of the sunsets themselves, further extends this questioning of individual agency. Here technology is erasing the subject because the camera technology is exposing for the sun.

And in witnessing thousands of these silhouetted subjects, the individual disappears. When you see a big installation of this work, you can identify with those disappeared people because you yourself have been in this exact situation.

Perhaps the next time you stand in front of a sunset and have your picture taken, you’ll better understand that sense of disappearance…. Or you’ll be more aware of it. For me, that’s the why of it. If that makes sense.

JB: That’s kind of what I’m getting at. You chose a symbol, this powerful orb that represents our ephemerality in so many ways.

People look at a sunset, and they think it’s beautiful, and the colors are pretty, but you’re really staring at a star from the face of a planet. And your time on this planet is almost a statistical anomaly. None of us is here at all, relative to Deep
Time, so we can talk about Flickr, and collective behavior, and I think that’s all true.

But it also seems that there’s a reason people do it, and a reason why your piece was so powerful. That’s because it’s also connecting to a perfect symbol of Deep Time. When you say we’re disappearing, I agree, but I think there’s a double-meaning there that’s interesting.

PU: That’s a really interesting way of putting it. I never thought of the notion of Deep Time in relation to those people clicking away, taking photographs. I think the consideration of Deep Time you’re talking about may actually concern people who AREN’T taking pictures of the sunset – the possibility of sitting in front of the sunset without actually taking a photograph – it’s pretty rare now, right?

I’m wondering if taking the photograph is to deny yourself the sense of Deep Time: “I got the picture. I got the sun.” It’s a way of owning an object that you actually can’t own – the photo trophy thing.

JB: It seems to be a pretty powerful impulse. Because the easier it’s become, and the more cameras are in everyone’s pocket, the more global the obsession has become. I have photographed in the real world, as well as doing conceptual stuff, and I know that joy.

It’s probably futile, but I think it comes from a deep desire to stand up to time. To freeze it. To capture it. Keep it. Hold it.

PU: Yeah. And in the manic sense that we’re experiencing it now, it actually presents itself as an anxiety, I think.

JB: An impediment.

PU: Yeah, sure. And I also participate in this capture, keep, hold, by the way. I photograph all the time, and I also make photographs that I’m not appropriating for my work. But in general, the photographs I take are the same as everyone else’s.

JB: Do you feel guilty about it? Or conflicted?

PU: No, not at all. But I don’t share them. (laughing.)

JB: (laughing.) OK.

PU: As soon as you put something on the web, you’re crossing a threshold from the personal to the collective. No matter how personal an image is, if there’s another image somewhere that shares the same subject and approach, it becomes part of a phenomenon.

The other side of it is people who won’t put pictures online for fear of being exploited. I know someone who won’t put pics of her kids on Facebook because she’s afraid of pedophiles, or something.

JB: Weirdos. Right.

PU: For sure. And there are those who’s kids are definitely going to be embarrassed by their parent’s Facebook posts later in life. Two sides of the equation – of the severity of what it means to do either – participate or abstain.

JB: When you first did this, Flickr was a big deal.

PU: Yeah.

JB: So as your project has aged, the way people read it changes. Does anybody still use Flickr?

PU: Yeah, in 2006, it was where everybody was putting stuff. And it was a useful platform to find all kinds of different photographs by a large cross section of users. I think it was mostly family photo-sharing. Now, if I’m looking for sunset images, all I get are stock-like photographs. People do use it, but they’re all photo geeks.

I’ve got a story for you. My sister came and visited me a couple of months ago, from Canada, and we were sitting outside. It was a full moon, and she had her iPhone out, and asked, “Why I can’t take a picture of the moon the way I see it with my eyes?”

I explained you need a good camera with long lens and got my 5D, took some pics and showed them to her on the camera display. She was impressed, thinking I was an exceptional photographer, until I proved not by suggesting a search on Flickr – I had no idea, but I imagined there would be thousands there.

Typing in “Full Moon,” resulted in the most incredible thing. Thousands upon thousands of full moon images came up. The relationship to the Suns from Sunsets from Flickr project was striking, because anybody, really, can take a picture of a sunset and have it look great, but you can’t take a detailed picture of the Full Moon unless you have pretty good camera equipment.

I started to dig in to the Flickr posts, and read them, and it was fascinating because there were more than 1 million of these full moons, with descriptions about how the photographers took the photograph – “I used this camera, and this lens at this F-stop.” and you have the sense it’s really about getting the picture. Right? I got it.

JB: Sure.

PU: But the face of the Moon never changes for us. All the images are essentially the same. And, this is the other amazing thing – half of them are licensed as rights reserved. Which means these photographers see their images as exceptionally different from the rest, and therefor worthy of licensing protection. And this is based solely on access to equipment, since the form or concept of these photographs is not exceptional in any way.

For the project at Bruce Silverstein Gallery, I contacted 654 of the rights reserved Flickr photographers, through Flickr, and asked for permission to use their rights reserved images of Full Moons. I wanted to create a wall of them in the gallery.
If they agreed to the conditions, they gave me their name for a credit, and agreed to the pricing structure if the installation was sold – that is: the gallery gets half, I get half, and in this case, they would get a quarter, and I would get a quarter of the percentage of their image in the entire installation: one 654th.

JB: We can pretend to do the math, and just keep going.

PU: Yeah, yeah. So of the 654, I got 84 replies with permission granted, plus a few no’s. One guy said yes, and then wrote back retracting his permission after looking at my website. And the rest I didn’t hear back from. I replaced all the images from people who didn’t respond with full moon images that had Creative Commons licenses. So there is a wall of 654 full moons of various sizes – in all cases, I downloaded the highest res file that was available on Flickr and this determined the scale.
So your question about Flickr. It really has changed since I started using it – it has become a stock-photo site.

JB: So the meaning of the work changes. Let’s say you’d never done this, but nobody else had done it, and you got the idea in 2016, you would use Instagram.

PU: Exactly.

JB: The way the format ages, and these things have such short shelf lives, becomes a part of the project. For example, anybody who’s in the industry at all heard years ago that Facebook claims ownership of everything you post, so nobody puts their artwork up.

Some people are going to get angry at you, but what you’re doing is no different from what Facebook is doing, and they’re the most popular communication platform on the planet.

PU: It’s a trade. Facebook is offering something to you in an exchange. You get to use the platform, in exchange for letting them use your images.

JB: Which they’re never going to do anyway, realistically.

PU: Actually, I heard, I forget where, that someone saw their image in an ad for something. I think what you’re raising is a really important point.

One of the things I think about a lot is making something concrete at a moment when you know it’s going to change in a year, or five years, or a week. Using Flickr for me right now is kind of amazing. It becomes a kind of record of a very specific time.

And the whole project is in some ways about recording time.

JB: Craigslist. Ebay. These things too have aged. I’ve got a really cheesy segue, and I’m going to go for it, but you’re either going to giggle, or you’re going to think, “Oh my god, why am I talking to this dude?”

You talk about Full Moons. You brought it up. But you showed work in Chicago in which you found photographs of television screens that were being sold on Craigslist. And you have screens with reflections in them of naked people. Hence the Full Moon segue. You’ve got pictures with naked people reflected in the TV screens.

PU: (laughing) That is pretty cheesy.

JB: It is. And yet, as an interviewer, sometimes you have to segue. You know?

PU: Weirdly, I did not find any butt pics among the Full Moons images on Flickr. Nor reflected in the screens of TVs on Craigslist.

JB: You only found boobies and vajayjays? You can tell I have a 3 year old, because I say the word vajayjay.

PU: (laughing)

JB: I found it to be so ridiculous and absurd and funny. Your talk was very serious, and your ideas are rigorous, but that is ridiculous. That A, it exists, B, you found out it exists, and C, you made high art out of it.

But people might not know about this project.

PU: The project itself is not about that, right? It’s about how people are selling objects they don’t want anymore – objects that used to be the height of entertainment technology, and are now like dead bodies in their homes. They’re really useless, lifeless things.

Part of it is thinking about attachment to objects – why not just stick it out on the street. You have to imagine that the object could have value to someone else. But where does the value lie in that equation?

And in this scenario, the people who are selling these objects get caught in them. In the last photograph of these objects, the reflections of people, living-rooms, bedrooms, beds…

JB: But why would any sane person take that picture stark naked? It’s crazy.

PU: First of all, you have to know there are not that many of them. Over the past 7 years I’ve gone to every city on Craigslist, and searched though every “TV for sale” listing in those cities, and every once in a while I’ll find something like that.

JB: Because you’re looking for it.

PU: Because I’m looking for it, and I’m hoping to find it.

JB: Right. But as far as human behavior goes…

PU: Well another part of it is that the technology of smartphone cameras used to be 1 or 2mp when I first started finding images on Craigslist. There would be a very small photo of a television, and when I downloaded it and enlarged it, it would be very pixelated.

But now with 5mp, 6mp smartphone cameras, people are taking the same pictures, in their bedrooms, and uploading what looks to be the same size file, because Craigslist takes it, and puts it in the same little image field as a 1mp image.

JB: Compressing it.

PU: Well, when I download it, I get this 5mp image. I’m not sure if they’re actually compressing it. I guess they must be to some extent. You probably know people who have cameras that can take very big files, and they have no idea.

Someone will send you an image that’s like, 20mb, of their cute dog for you to look at on your iPhone, when a 1mb file will do.
I think there is that aspect of it. And also, people don’t see themselves in the images. They’re not looking for it. They’re selling their TVs and they’re not thinking about anything else. What I find are unintended, inadvertent reflections.

JB: I found it to be ridiculously amusing and interesting that such things ever happen, much less that in your obsessive searching…

PU: You live in a place where it snows in the Winter, but some people live where it’s 90 degrees in the Winter. And 120 in the Summer. Maybe they’re just walking around with no clothes on?

JB: I guess we’ll never know. That’s the beauty of it, right? That degree of anonymity? But you’re also photographing broken armoires, and useless remote controls, and screens.

The Sun, and the Sun installation, are so completely aesthetic. That’s why you’re choosing it. It’s the most scripted symbol of perfect aesthetics. But then these things, like the broken-down furniture, they’re so anti-aesthetic.

They’re not beautiful, but they’re interesting. Sometimes, pure aesthetics are important to you, and other times, they appear not to be. What do you think about that?

PU: I don’t think of the Suns as being pure aesthetic. I guess some people do, because that’s why they take the photographs.

JB: Almost everybody. You may not, but that would be a very common way to describe a sunset.

PU: A sunset might be purely aesthetic, but you talked about the depth, and the Deep Time relationship to it.

JB: I think your piece is beautiful. Most people would.

PU: But part of what you think is beautiful is what it means to stand in front of that many images. It’s conceptual, not aesthetic.

JB: It’s conceptual, but it’s also about pattern and repetition and color.

PU: Of a particular subject.

JB: The repetition of a circle, in that many ways, with the variation of powerful digital hues. I don’t want to disagree with you…

PU: If they were paintings, I could agree with you that it’s pure aesthetic. But because they come from this many different photographers, who are asserting an insistence of presence, in this context, I feel like it’s first and foremost a conceptual work. That just happens to be aesthetically interesting.

JB: That’s what I’m saying. That piece is aesthetically interesting, along with its conceptual rigor, while others almost go 180 degrees in the other direction.

PU: Yeah.

JB: That was the crux of the question. What does it mean to you that some of the projects utilize aesthetics, and others give a middle finger to it?

PU: I actually think that all of them utilize aspects of aesthetics. I think the desk project, or the television project, with the flashes, are incredibly beautiful. But because you don’t…(laughing)

JB: Well, I haven’t seen them in person. But I don’t want to get caught up in semantics.

PU: (laughing) I know, I know.

JB: And I certainly don’t want to insult you.

PU: No, no. It’s just that the conversation about aesthetics, to me, maybe it’s more about taste and style, that we’re talking about.

I mean, I get really excited when I see all those little remote controls – or “universal remotes” as they are often sold as. I really love them. I think they’re kind of amazing. And I love that someone has gone to the trouble of arranging these remote controls into a kind of little box of a photograph. The fact that I could find these, that they exist, was enough for me to think about them as a work.

So though the idea of used universal remotes– the almost ontological condition of the term in relation to digital communication and being – is what drove that work, when I put them all together there was something tantalizing and delectable about these tiny little arrangements people are making.

For me, it’s conceptual, and formal. They function on the same level. It’s a different kind of form than the aesthetic you are talking about with the suns, but I am thinking about the form in the work. I just don’t get excited or feel the motivation to work with something unless there’s more to it than that.

JB: That, I totally get. I guess where I was going, and then we can shift, it’s almost like looking at Robert Rauschenberg vs Mark Rothko. To me, the tradition of anti-aesthetic is strong, in the history of Art. Ugly-beauty, there are so many words for it.

PU: Yeah.

JB: They wouldn’t call it ugly-beauty if it was just ugly. Using anti-aesthetic is a powerful way to communicate.

There are so many Rauschenberg pieces where you’re not going to feel that sense of calm sublime that you might feel in front of a Rothko. But then again, Rothko went and killed himself, so it’s not as if he was such a calm dude.

But let me use that as another segue. I would love to talk forever, and ask about all your inspirations, but one of the artists that came to me, preparing for this interview, was Gerhard Richter.

Are you a fan? Or if not, who are some of the giants that really inspired you?

PU: (pause) I love Richter. I think the Atlas Project is great. The Baader Meinhof paintings are brilliant. His relationship to photography, history and time is more interesting to me than the multiple aspect, if that’s where your question was going.

JB: It was instinctual curiosity. It struck me that he might have been someone that influenced you.

PU: It’s interesting about influence. People always ask, and I can never narrow it down. I could almost say everybody. I know that’s way too general. But I don’t think there is any one artist who influenced me more than anyone else.

JB: Sure. When we’re looking, there are many. But when I’m thinking about where someone is coming from, it’s fun to be less obvious. With all the categorization, and repetition, we could say Ed Ruscha. He’s someone who also crosses boundaries, and is forward thinking. He utilizes anti-aesthetics as well as aesthetics.

PU: Maybe Ruscha would be better. Definitely West Coast Conceptualism was a huge influence. It’s interesting, raising the question of anti-aesthetics. I think it comes back to your first question about being from Canada. West Coast to East Coast is a little like Canada to US.

JB: We’ve covered so much. Maybe end with an advice question? Now that you’re in a place where your work is ubiquitous, and so well-received, it seems like you’ve “made it.” Do you feel that way? Do you feel like people are always looking for more, or have you reached a point in your career where you feel satisfied with your success, and critical reception?

PU: It’s kind of strange. I’ve been making this work since 1986. That’s a long time. The fact that it is being well-received now is kind of a shock to me. Especially in the Photo World, because for so many years, I was considered not-relevant – i.e, not a photographer by photography-world standards.

And so maybe now that actual photographers are also using digital media, and art is on the web, the relevancy of my work is being understood in a different way. But I haven’t gotten used to it yet.

So I don’t perceive myself as having ‘made it’. I’m not really sure that exists. I don’t really know what that means.

JB: Of course it’s an abstracted phrase. I do think in a world, with social media, everybody always sees what everyone else is doing.

You can’t go on Facebook or Twitter without being bombarded by people saying, “Hey, look at me. Look what I’ve achieved. I’ve had this show, or that book.”

I feel like it almost creates an endless loop of ambition. That’s why I asked that question. Even if it seemed random.
Does anyone ever reach a point where they’re satisfied?

PU: To me, being satisfied that way is not why I do it. I’m not really concerned with that. It’s great that my work is selling a bit now. That means that I don’t have to teach so much. You know? That’s what it means to me, really. I’m not doing it for that kind of notoriety, so it’s not something I think about.

JB: Fantastic.

PU: I don’t know if that makes sense.

JB: Of course it does. It’s actually a lovely ending. You’re doing this for your own reasons, and however one defines success, it’s not driving your creative practice.

PU: The reasons are more about being in dialogue with the other things that are going on. I’m always a bit cautious about the idea of the insular artist, who doesn’t care what other people think – the idea that you’re just doing it because you have to do it.

Of course, there’s got to be a necessity in what you’re doing, or you shouldn’t be doing it. But at the same time, if you’re not in dialogue with everything else that’s going on – socio-cultural/socio-political conditions, other artists, other photographers – it isn’t very relevant.

For me, the dialogue is what makes it worthwhile. And the idea of success in terms of “having made it” isn’t part of that dialogue.

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 2.57.17 PM

Universal Remotes (eBay), 2008-ongoing

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 2.57.46 PM

For Sale/TVs From Craigslist

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 2.56.02 PM

Beautiful Armoire – Perfect Condition

The Edit Daily – Joseph Heroun: Shape

- - The Daily Edit


SHA0516COVR

SHA0416COVR_OF

OF1-OF1_SHA0316COVR

000-SHA0915COVER

005-005_SHA0416FTOC

126-127_SHA0416WCELEB

128-129_SHA0416WCELEB

SHA0316WCELEB_color_rv

138-139_SHA0316WCELEB

140-141_SHA0316WCELEB

142-143_SHA0316WCELEB

152-153_SHA0516WCELEB

156-157_SHA0516WCELEB

190-197-SHA0815FTJIL

Pages-from-190-197-SHA0815FTJIL

164-173-SHA1015WFITN-1

Pages-from-174-181-SHA0615JALBA

Pages-from-174-181-SHA0615JALBA.2

Pages-from-140-145-SHA0915CELEB

Pages-from-156-161_SHA1215WBEAT

SHA0116WFITN_138-139

SHA0116WFITN_140-141

020-020_SHA0416YRNBT

SHA0116LGPLY_035-035

42_SHA1215LGLIN

Pages-from-210-215-SHA0815NUDES

150-155_SHA1215WFOOD-1

30_SHA1215YRNNT

Pages-from-198-205-SHA0815FARMS

044-044_SHA0316LGLIN

174-179-SHA1015WFOOD-1

146-147_SHA0416WFOOD

148-149_SHA0416WFOOD.2

SHA0516WFOOD_color2

172-173_SHA0516WFOOD

Shape

Creative Director: Joseph Heroun
Photo Director: Toni Ann Loggia
Art Director: Andrea Legge
Photo/Bookings Editor: David Baratta
Photo Editor: Erica Meneses
Associate Art Directors: Alan Boccadoro, Lisa Stem
Intern: Grace Barretti

As Creative and Design Director of Shape, one of the nation’s biggest magazines with more than 2.6 million circulation, Heroun has transformed it into a photographer’s publication, an unusual attribute for its category. The challenge and mission are to rock a mix of topics equally well: Fitness, style, beauty, health, and food.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Joseph for almost 20 years now, he had a tremendous influence on me as an art director and photo editor. I was lucky enough to work under him for one of my first national magazine jobs.

In a nutshell, he’s a branding specialist. Heroun’s background spans a wide range of titles including Sportswear International, Sports Illustrated, Mirabella, Newsweek, The Boston Globe, Boston magazine, Best Life, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, The New Republic, National Journal, and Men’s Fitness, the latter of which landed on Adweek’s Hot List six months after his 2013 redesign. I caught up with him about some of his thinking behind Shape’s new sex appeal.

What parts of the magazine have had the biggest impact on your watch and why?
All of it, not one thing has been overlooked. The brand was acquired by Meredith Corporation a year ago, culminating with an editorial and design refresh last summer that has evolved nicely. We built upon ideas and directions from the previous year, with evolutionary changes; and concentrated our efforts on sharpening everything. Our new reality included a significant budget cut that mandated better strategies and smarter decisions. We could not allow that hit to reflect negatively on the product, and, in fact, it had the opposite effect. Over time; we figured out what worked and what doesn’t and our A-Team is now firmly in place with all our shooters delivering consistently exceptional work, and a newly refocused editorial framework to hang it on. Huge props are due my stellar photo staff, Toni Loggia, Dave Baratta, and Erica Meneses.

Who, if any one photographer, has helped you create the signature look of your covers? I know this is always a goal for publications, to own a “cover look.”
Our covers have improved most significantly since assigning the amazing Arthur Belebeau as our primary shooter. We’ve worked together previously on fashion and beauty features, and progressed to covers and celebrity features only since the March 2016 issue. Despite not being considered a cover shooter, in the brief time that Arthur has done them the response has been overwhelming. His cool, hard-edged light is exceptional, modern and dimensional in a way that stands apart from our competitive set. It provides Shape with a distinctive look that evokes the sensation of warm sunlight and an active, outdoor lifestyle.

That carries over inside, where Belebeau shoots cover celebs as fashion or beauty features, often with a bit of camp, and a free-spirited, playfully sexy vibe. In our previous incarnation at American Media, we were required to include cover celebs doing workouts, which was dreadful, effectively diminishing their star power. It’s like discovering an esteemed actor in sweats at the supermarket.

What other elements of the magazine have thrived under your watch?
Food is another core topic that has come into its own with a unique look, featuring images photographed predominantly by Sang An and Ted Cavanaugh. Again, with strong, directional, light and crisp, open shadows that express the upbeat emotion associated with clear daylight. Our look is growing more distinct from the dedicated food mags. Though they do beautiful work, obviously, we just need to assert a unique identity. Recently, we’ve consolidated feature recipes to the last spread, allowing for unobstructed full-page hero shots, which look spectacular. They also shoot our front-of-book sections, so there’s a nice consistency that comes through and carries over into our beauty and style product photography, handled by the criminally talented Claire Benoist. Our studio and location fitness/lifestyle shots share the same sensibility, so everyone is pulling in the same direction and I’m proud to say that the magazine has found its stride.

Describe the thinking behind your approach to fitness photography.
Our fitness features have evolved greatly over the past year and a half. We cut way back on the mechanics of exercising, which can be more effectively delivered online, in favor of an elegant, aspirational experience that celebrates the female figure and which doubles as fitness style. For those features we rotate in various shooters including Martin Rusch, Dustin Snipes, Warwick Saint, and Sarah Kehoe.

What is your policy on retouching, (always a point of interest for in women’s fitness publications).
Since my time at Men’s Health and other celebrity titles it’s been important to me to uphold a policy of integrity on this. To skeptical readers that will sound hopelessly high-minded, but I firmly believe it’s in a brand’s best interest to be as honest and restrained as possible with depictions of people, celebrity or otherwise. It can easily go too far if you are not diligent in holding the line. No one wants to see a blemish and nearly any photograph requires some refinement. But I seriously loathe images overly-perfected in post. To me, it ceases to be a photograph, morphing into something closer to illustration. And the prevalence of that tars us all with a broad brush. Shape’s new platform and tagline, Love Your Shape, affirms our commitment to authenticity. And our belief that it’s a big tent, with many interpretations of what is fit and what is beautiful.

Talk about your typography.
Our typography is intentionally understated to place emphasis on the images, which is what resonates with readers. In my view, design is best when there is nothing left to take out. In terms of delivering service content, over-ambitious design hijinx that neither elevates nor instructs is misplaced. It works against the grounded, well-crafted elegance and precision we want the brand to be identified with.

Where do you see Shape, and yourself, in 5 years?
Me: Traveling abroad somewhere, shooting my own images. As for Shape, it’s at the top of its game in one of the hottest categories that will only get hotter. We are being swept up into a wave of a new-found confidence in print. You see it everywhere with fashion mags and others placing a premium on production, with better stock and larger formats. It’s a complete reversal of what was happening just a short time ago during the panic years. Everyone seems to have come to the conclusion that magazines deliver an unrivaled visual experience and that it’s time to leverage that unique strength. Which is good news for photographers. Though budgets are more restrained, the demand for photographic excellence is only getting louder. And, as always, smart design is smart business.

The Daily Promo: Cade Martin

- - The Daily Promo

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 11.14.49 AM

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 11.14.59 AM

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 11.15.06 AM

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 11.15.11 AM

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 11.15.26 AM

 

 

Cade Martin

Who printed it?
Classic Color outside of Chicago printed the Mercy Street Promo. Matt Parris, the creative we having been working with, recommended them. This was my first time working with Classic Color and would work with them again in a heartbeat. The printer, Matt Claybour, was very collaborative, friendly and interested in the project. We came to them with the idea for a newsprint promo and we ended up with a hybrid newspaper ‘style’ promo that had the look of a newspaper, but used a slightly heavier paper that held the ink better and kept it from rubbing off onto people’s hands.

Who designed it?
Parris is the designer and art director of the Mercy Street promotional piece. We were introduced to Matt through a mutual colleague at the agency he works at in Chicago. Matt has been amazing to work with – lots of energy, great ideas and it’s been a joy to collaborate.

Who edited the images?
My agents, Kate Chase & Matt Nycz, at Brite Productions and I edited the images together. We started with nineteen final Mercy Street portraits and narrowed it down to six. It’s always difficult to edit it down and a lot of times you can’t just pick your favorites. You can start with your favorite images and expressions, but it comes down to the rhythm of the pages and how well the images work together.

How many did you print?
We printed 3,500 promos. We customize the list for each promotional piece sent out and there is always the balance of the printing and mailing costs when arriving at the final number you’d like to print.
How many times a year do you send out promos?
We send out printed promotional pieces four or five times a year. This seems to be a nice number and the right amount of outreach to keep the work in front of art producers and creatives without overwhelming their mailboxes.

Why did you choose this project to feature in your promos?
I love to send out images that are close to my heart and from projects that I have really enjoyed. For promotional campaigns, we feature either a series of images from one project or it could be just one isolated image. But I always want to put out images that mean something to me and are not based on trying to guess what someone else might want to see.

How did this promo develop?
I was hired to shoot the series portraits for Mercy Street, a new Ridley Scott produced PBS and BBC TV Series set in the Civil War. I have a lifetime interest in film and character and was very excited to be a part of this project. My idea was to create a uniquely textured and modern scene that complemented the period-piece subjects to help get them into character and to show the rich, multi-layered stories.

 

This Week In Photography Books: Colin Delfosse

by Jonathan Blaustein

I quit my job last month.

No, not this job. (Obviously.) I resigned as the Chair of the Art Dept at UNM-Taos, as of the end of this semester. Administrative work, it turns out, is not for me.

As you might have gathered, from the random comment here or there, the experience was not exactly smooth. I gave it my best, but institutional politics are notoriously bad, and everyone knows colleges and universities are the worst.

I’m here to report that the clichés are spot on. (Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, you know?)

What surprised me most was the degree of combativeness, and sheer aggression, that some people displayed over issues that in the “normal” world, would seem absurd. People screaming in my face about changes to lab hours.

Shrieks of anger at anodyne art exhibitions on the wall. Death stares from people who objected to my age, my attitude, or just my existence, it seemed.

Fortunately, that kind of battle puts hair on your chest. (Cliché #2. How many might I drop in one column?)

I got in my share of fights, growing up, as I had a propensity to stand up to bullies, and a proud streak that did me no favors. But I’ve learned over the years how to get along with others and assumed those skills would suffice.

But sometimes it doesn’t work like that. Sometimes, you have to embrace the drama. Accept the trappings of ritualized combat, and let the chips fall where they may. (Cliché #3)

Honestly, I’m rambling about such things having just put down “Toute Arme Forgée Contre Moi Sera Sans Effet,” a new book by Colin Delfosse, recently published by Éditions 77.

My lead-in might be a little weak this week, but there’s nothing soft about this book, I assure you. The design is cool, with primary colors announcing their intentions to impress.

And so it does.

Unless you read this column to punish yourself, like a Penitente in the Morada, you must enjoy some of the recurring themes. One I mention often is that my favorite part of this job is getting to see things I’ve never seen before.

If I pick up a book, and get to enter a world I didn’t know existed, there’s a good chance I’ll review the book. Unless, you know, the pictures suck.

This book transports us into the world of “professional” wrestling in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I’m guessing that even with our Global audience, none of you know too much about the subject either.

The photographs are pretty excellent, and more than a little dramatic. They remind me just a bit of Pieter Hugo’s “Nollywood,” but only tangentially. Those pictures took heat for presenting exploitative visions of African men, so I guess some people might ask the same questions here.

But the book’s text clearly explains that the props, the outfits, the implications of spiritual power in totems, the appropriation of witch doctor garb, it’s all what’s actually done in wrestling culture.

No artifice necessary.

The book switches to horizontal orientation about half-way through, and a brief essay is followed by more pictures, this time with captions. I often commend books that break up the narrative, and allow for a flow-change within the viewing experience.

It keeps our interest, and lets us know the design team seriously considers how to communicate properly.

So we’re granted badass pictures of an obviously fascinating subculture, in a place most of us will never visit, with a beautiful color palette for the object, a creative use of narrative structure, and the chance to voyeuristically peek in on a wrestling world that would probably make Hulk Hogan crap his pants.

What’s not to like?

Bottom Line: Beautiful book that shows us some genuinely weird shit.

To Purchase “Toute Arme Forgée Contre Moi Sera Sans Effet” Visit Photo-Eye

IMG_2257

IMG_2258

IMG_2259

IMG_2260

IMG_2261

IMG_2262

IMG_2263

IMG_2264

IMG_2265

IMG_2266

IMG_2267

IMG_2268

IMG_2269

IMG_2270

IMG_2271

IMG_2272

IMG_2273

IMG_2274

Art Producers Speak: Amanda Jasnowski

We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.sease@verizon.net

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Amanda Jasnowski. I have ben following her for a while and have really enjoyed watching her career take off this year. I really admire her use natural light to capture her subjects and her ability to capture real and honest images

AmandaJas01

AmandaJas02

AmandaJas03

AmandaJas04

AmandaJas05

AmandaJas06

AmandaJas07

AmandaJas08

AmandaJas09

AmandaJas10

How many years have you been in business?
More or less four years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Mostly self-taught. The last two years of high school I attended a vocational school where I studied photography in-depth, that was my introduction. Thanks to Troy Baker and Jay Vada for showing me the way.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I think more than one person it was a community of folks. The internet helped show me in some type of honest way that there were young creatives out here making a living. It was possible! Everyone doing their own hustle individually but also together.
Living in a rural town was its own bubble so it was easy for things to feel far-fetched, but, through the internet this bubble expanded and the idea of moving here and taking photos for a living seemed a lot less crazy. The response I got from people online was so positive. In a time where I didn’t really have my own physical community that support I found online really helped in a big way.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I think this is a matter of being self-motivated. Motivating yourself to be active, to not get lazy, to stay curious. Feed yourself (whether it’s from books, magazines, museums, on the streets, films, your peers), look in places you haven’t looked before.

In my experience staying true to ones self requires a level of frequent self-evaluation (which also maybe requires a level of constant dissatisfaction? Some type of hunger that fills you with the desire to keep moving in any direction) and honing your aesthetic (practice makes perfect?). I feel strongly about that when you’re working hard and making work you really want to make you radiate a specific kind of energy and people pick up on that.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
There is almost always some sort of balancing act, moreso in larger jobs.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Keeping in touch (whether it’s through email or mailing physical objects), having some type of internet presence, going to meetings with and without my agent. I’m very fortunate to have teamed up with an agent who understands my practice and personal goals, it’s a relief knowing that she is also out there hustling on my behalf.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
I promise this will lead nowhere good. For you or for buyers.
People will hire you based on the work you put out there into the world, so it’s very important to put out work that you are proud of and eager to do more of.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Trying my best.

How often are you shooting new work?
This fluctuates, lately I’ve been so consumed by work and taking care of other aspects of this job (taxes!). I definitely haven’t been creating as much new work as I’d like but for me it’s very important to cultivate some movement, whether it’s through making things or thinking about making things.

I try to listen to the ebb and flow of a freelance lifestyle and understand that I’m not a machine. Someone awesome once said “If you’re feeling bad in your heart, you’ll look bad in your art” (that awesome person is Adi Goodrich).

——————

Spanish-born, Ohio-raised, Amanda Jasnowski is a photographer based in Brooklyn, NY.

She has served as a guest editor for the Saachi Gallery Magazine Art & Music and has exhibited work in New York, Los Angeles, and London. Firm believer of fun, the therapeutic power of art and never taking yourself too seriously. She is represented by Assignment Agency Theresa@assignmentagency.com assignmentagency.com in the US but in Europe by O lita@olovesyou.com

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding 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 fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Mary Virginia Swanson, Executive Director of the LOOK3 Festival

 

look3-1

look3-2

Jonathan Blaustein: Full disclosure. I’ve known you for years, as a client and a friend. I am on the record in multiple places as being a huge fan of you as a person, and the work that you do.

Mary Virginia Swanson: Yes. Thank you.

JB: You’re welcome. I’m may not be impartial here, but I also have some inside knowledge as to how you operate, and why so many people think highly of you.

MVS: Thank you. I absolutely think that you are a fan of my teaching, and the way I think about the industry.

JB: Right.

MVS: So I’m really happy to have this opportunity to tell you about my latest venture.

JB: Honestly, our readers at APE know me for the 21st Century Hustle, and there are clearly elements of that philosophy that I’ve cribbed from working with you. So in that regard, I apologize if I’ve ever stolen too brazenly.

MVS: No, that’s a compliment. You know when your teachings get carried out into the world that’s a compliment.

JB: Fair enough. I’ll take that as apology accepted. So many people know of your reputation, and that you’ve had a really long career in the industry. You’ve done so many different things- you ran a stock agency, you’ve done consulting, you’ve published books, but the big news is that you recently accepted the position as the Executive Director of the LOOK3 Festival in Charlottesville, Virginia.

MVS: Correct.

JB: And this was in September of 2015. Is that right?

MVS: That is correct. The festival is always in June, and in hiatus for the summer months afterwards. We’ll to be working into the beginning of July, but then we go quiet for a couple of months. It was during that period in 2015 after the close of the ’15 festival that I got a call from Nick Nichols, who is a longtime friend of mine, and one of the founders of LOOK3.

He asked if I would be interested in taking on the leadership of LOOK3. So we embarked on a period of time where I was being interviewed, my husband and I came here to Charlottesville to meet the board, meet staff and just check everything out. I think it was September 8th, we announced that I was accepting the position, and we had a board meeting a week later and began to start to plan this year’s festival. And now we’re just under two months out. We’re ready to roll.

JB: You say it so casually, but was that phone call out of the blue? Did you have any inkling that they were thinking about you? Had you put out little feelers? Walk us through how this happens, because it seems like a big deal.

MVS: Well it is a big deal, and I should say that I’ve been aware of the festival of course throughout its life.

JB: Of course.

MVS: It is a long ways from home. As you know, I often teach at the Santa Fe workshops in the summertime, and some years it just wasn’t on my calendar that I could make it. Other years it fell smack on my birthday and I travel so much that that’s one time that I try to be home with my family.

It was in 2013 that Nick and his team called to ask me, or 2012 I should say, to be part of the 2013 festival. I was thrilled to be able to do that, and I helped them organize some panels, and taught a seminar myself on sustaining your long-term personal projects. That happened to be the seminar that I was giving.

The education was held at the front end, and I remember Nick came by to visit my classroom and say hello, and we had lunch and he said, “Take a good look around at this festival because someday I’d like to have you a lot more involved.”

JB: That was a big ‘ol hint dropped right in your lap.

MVS: Yeah, it was a big hint, and it gave me a chance, to be in the audience for all the talks, and see all the exhibits and the other components. It was wonderful, and we actually did embark on some pretty heavy conversations about my taking over the festival at that time in ’13…

JB: At that time.

MVS: But my family life is in Tucson, and I wasn’t willing to move permanently to Charlottesville. The board wasn’t willing to take that on at that point. They did hire someone who was willing to move, and then they came back to me again when that person had resigned.

At the end of the ’15 festival, we opened the conversation again. At that point, they made it clear from the get-go that if we came to an agreement, that I would not have to move. So we built my contract based on me being able to stay in Tucson; to stay visible in the field which of course is a plus for LOOK3 as well and here we are.

I did agree to be in Charlottesville for just about three months leading up to the festival, and obviously I’ve been here periodically throughout the year meeting local stakeholders, and working closely with my colleague Lisa Draine, long time Festival Director. It’s a fantastic community.

UVA is an extraordinary presence in this town, and it’s a really cultured environment that embraces photography in our world so I couldn’t be happier.

JB: Okay. That makes a lot of sense. I had a hard time imagining somebody like you, who’s so methodical in the way you’ve built your own career, and the way you teach people, that it would have been a random thing.

MVS: And I should say going backwards that when I was first out of graduate school at ASU in Tempe, my first full time job was at the Friends of Photography in Carmel as you know, Jonathan.

JB: Working with Ansel Adams.

MVS: I coordinated education programs there as a young person in the field, and one of the workshops that we did was called “The Photograph as Document,” and there were five faculty members on it: Burk Uzzle, Danny Lyon, Morrie Camhi, Louis Carlos Bernal and a young woman named Mary Ellen Mark.

One of my students in that workshop was a young photographer named Michael K. Nichols. So Nick and I have known each other since 1983. The following year, when Ansel passed away, I moved to New York to work for Magnum, and Nick and Eli Reed were the two Magnum nominees that year.

So we went into next phase of our lives together, and Nick ended up making a big decision, which was wonderful for him, to become staff at National Geographic, and do the extraordinary natural history work that he’s done all of his career.

We stayed in touch as best we could through those years, and our relationship has really been rooted in teaching. When I got to Magnum, I organized the first all-Magnum faculty workshops as well that Nick participated in. To be fair, we really had this strong link to education all the way back to the earliest points in our career.

JB: That’s a perfect little segue. I was so curious personally, and as a proxy for our audience, as to how Swanee becomes the head of a historic and important festival. So after the first question, how did you get the job, I wanted to hit you with something broader.

Why do you love photography so much?

MVS: Photography for me has always been a connector. I think people that are involved in music and performing arts, we all feel that if there’s something in our life that draws us together; that gives us a conversation, and challenges us, and causes us to love things more. It’s a wonderful thing.

I grew up in a family that was the household that everybody hung out at. And my parents were both very involved professionally in gatherings. My father organized conferences in his industry, and in junior high and in high school, I used to go with him conferences that he was running. My mom was very much a community leader. So we all had our thing and for me, it was specifically photography.

I’ll tell you one thing that really rocked my world as a young person was my hometown curator in Minneapolis was named Ted Hartwell, and he did the first big Richard Avedon show of his private portraiture. It was an extraordinary, wild, crazy installation with images that were of the “Chicago Seven” that were pasted on canvas that was fraying on the edges that was the size of the walls.

He and Marvin Israel, the designer, and Diane Arbus came in to install the show and they painted the floors and the ceilings and everything was wild and it was completely different than growing up with Life Magazine and National Geographic and all and it just made me realize that it could be a completely different kind of communication tool.

JB: Sounds wild.

MVS: I’d seen a lot of how photographs had landed in the artists of the ‘60’s Rauschenberg, etc, because the Walker Arts Center is also in Minneapolis. It’s a contemporary museum, but there was something about that Avedon show, and seeing how different it was presented in the printed age, that made me feel like there was a lot more that we could communicate to each other with.

I never forgot that as I was doing my studies, and learning more about the history of photography. Understanding how important that whole notion of personal work was to Avedon, at the time. As soon as I got into college, I was organizing student art shows, and worked at our museum. I also became the student director of our photography gallery, and it just became this great point of contact for me. For my family, it was other things that drew people together. For me it was photography.

Jonathan: And you got a degree as a practitioner, I believe?

Mary Virginia: Yeah, I have an MFA. I had done my undergraduate, in fact, at ASU in ceramics. I was always interested in art history, and in museum and gallery work, having worked as an undergrad at our university art museum. Those were my three areas.

As I took more and more photography and history of photography classes from Bill Jay, everything came together for me with photography. The museum and gallery aspect of it, the art history aspect of it, and the making work– all three came together, and it was like this explosion.

I often find myself saying this to students, that when you find the thing that you love the most, it will seem like there’s a thousand times more energy that comes out of you that you never knew you had.

Just everything connected for me around photography, and it was at that time that I started my involvement in Society for Photographic Education as a volunteer. We organized a regional conference during my graduate studies there, and I really came to know that we were a community.

JB: OK.

MVS: I’ll tell you another kind of funny thing that happened. At the end of my undergraduate studies, there was an NPPA conference that was coming to Phoenix. It takes different form right now, but in those days, it was called the Flying Short Course. It would a five or six city thing, with five or six different people on this tour.

There was always an artist, and sometimes a curator and a photo editor. I went down to this conference-style hotel for the NPPA Flying Short Course, and the person that stood out to me the most was Mary Ellen Mark. She was just back from her Fulbright in Turkey, and had just started Ward 81. I thought, “My god! This is a much broader world of photography than I’d ever imagined! And she was so courageous. I just was so impressed with her work, and her bravery. Everything about what she was engaging in, and that too really combined for me to feel like this is a community that I want to be a part of…

JB: I had to break in for a second, because I did want to ask you a pointed question. From shortly after you got your degree, you joined the business side of the career, and you’ve been involved in so many different areas of photography that way. But do you still make work? Was there a point in which you made time for your own practice, or did your sort of immersion in the photo-community-at-large satisfy your creative yearnings?

MVS: I made pictures on the way home from work today. I make pictures constantly. What I’m not doing as much of as I would like to is printing work, and that’s sort of just the nature of the beast now, isn’t it, that we’re able to make pictures constantly and still be satisfied by them.

When I was working for the Friends of Photography in Carmel, I started shooting color neg for the first time. I still yearn for the darkroom, of course, but I make pictures constantly. Thousands of pictures all the time. I love my Instagram feed. That’s where people see things most.

JB: Right, well that’s where I know you shoot, but I think you understood the spirit of the question. You haven’t pursued it as art, or there were phases where you have or —

MVS: When I finished up my undergraduate degree, I was completely torn, because I was already applying to graduate schools in ceramics, but by then the photography bug and the art history bug and the museum studies all had wrapped around photography. And so Bill Jay helped me out, and he got me an internship.

I had a really good friend that had moved to London, and Bill got me an internship at the Royal Photographic Society, and also I worked four days a week for something called the Half Moon Photography Workshop. At the time, it was the largest grant the arts council had ever given to photography. I made work for that year before I applied to graduate school, because obviously I had to have a portfolio for graduate school.

JB: Of course.

MVS: And then when I got into graduate school I started spending summers and Christmases interning for Ted Harwell back in my home town museum (Minneapolis Institute of Art). What I came to learn in that period of time, and also running the student gallery on campus, was that I love working with photographs, and I loved working with photographers.

I did do my thesis show, I got all through that, I’m really proud of the work that I did, but when I finished up my degree, I really did not have the bug to be a commercial photographer, a fine art photographer or a full-time teacher.

I wanted to work with photographs and with photographers. I looked for a place that I could work that would give me exposure to lots of different types of things in the field, because we didn’t really have jobs that would be defined like that. I think there’s a lot more opportunities to do that now with online magazines, with all different kinds of collections collecting photography that hadn’t before, and agencies, it’s just a different world.

But at that time, I applied for the job at the Friends of Photography in Carmel because they had workshops, they gave grants, we had an exhibition space and we published photobooks. So those four initiatives were things I knew I could learn from, and I wanted to just sink myself into an experience that touched on all those things.

It’s where I really came to love all those things, which are still part of my practice and my teachings. With publishing, and being on top of helping all of the artists understand how to sustain their long term projects, whether it’s grant writing, or corporate funding. All those things that project from the “Friends of Photography” are still part of what I’m engaged in today.

JB: Your message may have been honed in the 80’s, but it resonates quite a bit in the 21st Century.

MVS: The things I talk about in my lectures with students today are what I learned from different mentors along the way. I certainly learned about community working with Ansel at the Friends of Photography. There’s no question about it. But when Ansel passed away, and I went to work for Magnum, that was a step into a completely different business role.

Yes, I knew about the gallery world, I had worked for Janet Borden at the Robert Freidus Gallery.

But I had no idea what I was walking into at Magnum. I was there to do book projects and exhibitions, so I was still working in my area, but overhearing a new language of business was a mind blower to me. When I stepped into Magnum, I realized that there was a completely different world that we hadn’t had any idea about. You can get all the way through an MFA program, and never hear the word licensing, or certainly not hear stock photography.

But when I got there, I realized that the world was much bigger than I had imagined, in terms of photography, and the power of communication with excellent photographs.

From that point forward, I became an agent, and stepped into wearing many, many more hats, which you know from knowing my teaching, is really all rolled up into one. It’s all part of being a responsible professional in the industry, and my strong encouragement for photographers to understand as many possible outlets for their work, and that each one has a different vocabulary.

Each one has a different deliverable, each one has a different contract, and that to me was like a crash course when I stepped into that role at Magnum, and realized that of course their business model involved all of those.

Jonathan: You were still in maybe your late 20’s, it sounds like?

Mary Virginia: Yeah late 20’s, early 30’s my years in New York. Very, very interesting time in the industry. I’ll never forget this. The very first day that I was at Magnum, I was there to create books and exhibitions from their archive.

Mind you I’d worked in museums, I’d worked in galleries. To me an archive looked a certain way, had a certain filing system. I walked into Magnum, and it was a sea of four-drawer filing cabinets stacked high. You open the file drawer, and everyone’s work was smashed together in these brown manila folders, under headings like “Sibling Rivalry” or “Paris Skyline” or “South of France”, or an emotion like “Cooperation.”

I could not believe my eyes. It was a totally different way of thinking of filing images, or certainly there’s a different language of finding them. I remember Bruce Davidson saying to me that very first day, “Swanee, this is how we’ve been making a living all these years.”

And if you looked hard in the files you’d see that under “Sibling Rivalry” there would be some of his “East 100 Street” work or some of Susan Mieselas’ work with the children in the Americas, or in the dogs category of course it would be Elliot Erwitt. Everything made sense, but what I realized was they were inverting, or taking apart personal projects, and filing them in all these different categories. Cross referencing like mad.

Jonathan: It was like analog tagging.

Mary Virginia: All analog tagging at the time. It made me realize for artists, the best thing that could happen would be to have an exhibition. Even better if it traveled, and even better if it had a catalog, but ultimately in our fine art world, when a body of work was done and the tour was on, we kind of thought of that as old work.

People moved on to the next body of work, and it didn’t have a second life, like the licensing world was affording. For me, it was a super-interesting time in the power of photography.

We were finding that there was a generation of people coming into the decision-making chairs, be they photo editors, or graphic designers or art directors, who’d grown up with cameras and had a different perspective. The metaphor could be king.

Things didn’t have to be quite so literal as they had been in the past, but there wasn’t really an agency bringing that quality of work together.

So at that point I called all my friends that owned galleries and said, “Listen, you’re missing this market for your artists. There’s a whole other world of people who can use the images, and it can help support their personal work. People like gallery owner Terry Etherton were saying, “Oh Swan you should do that. We don’t know anything about that, you should do that.”

I just kept paying attention to all that, and more and more often friends were calling and saying, “Hey I don’t know how to read this contract that I just got from somebody. Can you read this for me? Can you call them?” So I’d call people up and say, “Oh by the way, how did you find Sally Gall?” And they’d say, “We subscribe to Aperture. We subscribe to this.”

Or, “We saw their exhibition.” It made me realize that decision-making group is really in a situation now where they can use great work, and that it can help photographers by functioning, not as a primary market, but rather as a second market. That helped me to become confident in starting something called Swanstock, with Gordon Stettinius (of Candela Books & Gallery in Richmond) as my right hand person all those years, we were learning about all these other opportunities that of course continue on in all of our practice today.

JB: So let’s jump forward for a second then. Listening to you talk, even despite my glowing intro, people can hear the depth of your experience. But at this point in your career, you travel all the time, you’re super established, you teach, you have private clients. Just because LOOK3 offered you the job and said you didn’t have to move, you didn’t have to take it. Why did you decide that this was something you wanted to do at this point in your life?

Why did you say yes?

MVS: I have to tell you, I was so moved by the Festival in ’13. The education was rock solid, the lineup of photographers was so interesting, and so much of it was a surprise. I felt like if I could have a hand in making this festival happen every year, I could in fact impact more people than I could on my own.

I looked at that potential for growing education, and it was really was something that the board and I came together on. They were very interested in me from that perspective, I could bring relevant education to the table. I think that’s where the match was really made and happened was the education component.

JB: So how does an education program at a festival differ from a school or a workshop business? How do you guys differentiate it, or what do you try to offer your community that they might not be getting elsewhere?

MVS: Well first of all, I know from teaching at exceptional places like Santa Fe Workshops and Anderson Ranch and Aperture that there are many places that do their kind of education really, really well. I would never want LOOK3 to be those places. There are lots of organizations to go and spend a week with a photographer.

There are not a lot of places to go and have education and inspiration for photographers at levels of accomplishment, and at all ages.

I feel like our industry is changing so fast, and I get just as many questions from photographers that have been successful in one thing all their life that now are wanting to expand.

Maybe they’ve never talked to a gallery before, or a fine art photographer that’s never had an opportunity to talk to an advertising art director before, or someone hasn’t had any licensing experience but in fact they have unique work that could make a difference in communication.

So that’s the perspective that I brought to it. I feel like it’s just as important a time, frankly, for teachers – an essential time for teachers to be completely current on where this industry is going, as best as we can predict it at this time. That’s been my mission behind putting together education for this year, and my hope is that our education stays incredibly relevant. That it changes out every year to be what people need. And that’s what excites me the most. That’s what I’ve built for this year for LOOK3 in terms of education. We’ve also added a lot of community engagement.

JB: What are some of the programs this year?

MVS: The first thing that we’ve got, I’m hoping that people will travel in on the Tuesday which is the 14th –

JB: Of June.

MVS: Because that night, Tuesday night, we’re hosting the PDN 30 Emerging Photographers panel. I reached out to PDN about this, because I feel like it’s the perfect way to begin to think about the education that’s happening in the next two days after that. To start to focus on what is that path?

How does a photographer set out in the world today? What are the marketing paths that have worked and haven’t worked for them? Where do they find their inspiration?

I don’t know if you’ve had the opportunity to hear Holly Hughes moderate that panel, but it’s not to be missed. I love it. Everywhere I’ve ever seen it, it’s been completely engaging. Then, the next morning, we have two seminar days back-to-back on Wednesday and Thursday.

I’ve designed it to be such that the Wednesday is all about your work, and the Thursday is all about your audience. On Wednesday, I wanted to have a day that would be an overview of all the different tools that we use, in terms of technology to be creative. Not just how we make work, but how we publish work, how we deliver work, how we share work, how technology impacts everything. I call that day creativity meets technology.

I asked Jim Estrin from the Lens Blog to moderate that day, he and Andrew Mendelson from CUNY have helped me shape the day and will both participate. We thought a lot about what people need to know now.

We’ll start with the beginning, Andrew is going to do a kind of crash course on 1839 to the present with technology. Some of the pieces people may already know and be using, like Instagram, and the power of that tool. Other people may not know some of the other things we want to bring to the table, like understanding how we measure success in terms of sharing, the metrics of that.

We’re closing that day, for example, with Jenna Pirog who is the producer and editor of the Virtual-Reality Projects for the New York Times Magazine, so we’ll sort of end with the future.

JB: Sounds exciting.

MVS: And then Brian Storm, and we have Julie Winokur and Ed Kashi taking one of their Talking Eyes Media products apart to show us that path to finding your intention with your project. Who’s the audience for that, where do you seek funding, where do you push it out.

We’ve got the photographers from the Black Box Cooperative coming to talk about a new kind of engagement as a team, quite different than the traditional agency world, but a great example of the younger cooperatives that we see today. Lots of different things like that.

Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill from the “Everyday Africa” projects are coming to talk about the power of communication through using Instagram. Dan Milnor is going to talk about atypical publishing.

So I see that day as the kind of day where there’s something for everyone in it. It’s of great value for people who have not been in an education environment for a few years, because many of these things they may not have been experiencing before.

I love the fact that we have some young people teaching, that have been out experiencing it in the world, and I think it’s an awesome day for educators to come and have this crash course on that.

JB: What else can you tell us about?

MVS: The second day is called “Artists Meet Your Markets.” That morning is going to be a really interesting, where I have 10, probably 11 different individuals talking almost on script about what their market is, what their product is, who they’re talking to, how they deliver it, how you the artist can make a strong first impression to them.

If they choose to reach out to you to license your images for illustration, in whatever case they work in, they’ll share with you what the deliverables would be and what the contract would be.

I have people like Catherine Edelman coming and saying, I’m a Gallerist: Our audience is high-end collectors of limited edition art work. We deliver to our audience, from our store-front gallery in Chicago, and attending international art fairs. If you want to make a strong first impression, study our website, come and see what we put on the walls, read the captions, the labels, edition numbers, etc.

If we do business together, we represent you. This is what the contract will look like. The deliverables for us is that we need you to invest in an inventory for us.

The next person might be Molly Roberts from Smithsonian Magazine. She is a director of photography at a magazine. Their product delivers informational articles that are richly illustrated in American History, art, culture and science. They deliver it through their print magazine and their online presence. This is how she would say you could make a strong first impression.

This is what she would say about what the contract terms would be and the deliverables. The next person might be an art buyer at an ad agency or someone at a licensing company or someone at a media company like CNN that wants to commission new work.

My goal is that through that morning, one professional after another explains how they engage with photography and hire photographers, what their terms are, how you deliver so that the artists in the audience realize there are other opportunities for you, but each one has its own vocabulary.

Each one has its own deliverables and each market has its own contracts. If you can manage to understand all that, and speak in these different languages and understand these different terms, you have that many more opportunities to make a living with your camera.

JB: For years, you’ve been talking to photographers, and trying to educate them and open their eyes about the ways their images can cross over into other markets, and how they can introduce themselves to new audiences. To me, that sounds like you’re bringing your pure core precepts into the LOOK3 umbrella.

MVS: I agree, and I have to say it came really out of my stepping out of the fine art market only, and stepping into Magnum and realizing “Oh my god, there’s all these other markets that can help photographers support their project.”

JB: And that was Ansel Adams’ philosophy as well. I did an extensive research project about Ansel, and I got to know his business manager Bill Turnage a little bit. If people want to understand your philosophy, and they want to get a detailed message delivered by professionals across the board, they can come hear this kind of thing at LOOK3.

MVS: Exactly. But I want to tell you what happens the rest of that afternoon.

So imagine that we’ve had this morning that’s opened everybody’s eyes and minds to all these other opportunities. That afternoon we have an opportunity for people that have registered for the morning, and been through that training, essentially, to show their work to not just those ten or 11 professionals but I’ve expanded it.

I’ve added more gallerists, more publishers, more magazine editors, more advertising people, more corporate art consultants. We’re filling out this room with what would look to you and to everyone else like a typical portfolio review. But here’s the catch.

JB: BUT! There’s always a but.

MVS: But you the photographer, in this case at LOOK3, do not pick the reviewer. We call this afternoon LOOK3PITCH.

The reviewers, industry professionals, choose who they want to have a meeting with, not a critique, not a portfolio review. I want LOOK3 to be the place where all of you come and have the chance to meet people, and gain confidence in your work and confidence in that language to other markets.

Come to LOOK3 and have a chance to have proper meetings. I want you prepared. If Catherine Edelman says that she wants to see you, you better be prepared, because she considers it a meeting.

Not a critique or portfolio review but a meeting. So it’s a twist on that, and the reviewers that I’ve engaged to come are thrilled with this kind of switching out to where they get to choose. Normally what happens is what just happened at FotoFest. I’d sit down and every morning there would be my schedule.

JB: Right. I think our readers are pretty familiar with the portfolio review format, so it’s interesting to hear you flip the script. I want to pivot again briefly.

MVS: Yes.

JB: The philosophy that you espouse, that you teach, and that you encourage, it’s been around a while. We can date it back to Ansel, and your own experiences. In my opinion, you’ve had a track record of being ahead of the curve, as far as understanding industry trends.

So I would be remiss if I didn’t put you on the hot seat. You’ve been telling people they had to spread out, they had to diversify their income streams, they had to try new things.

You’ve been talking about this for years, and now everybody knows it’s true. I know you’re thinking ahead.

What’s next? Where is everything headed? We’ve seen most of the places that are going to go out of business maybe go out of business. Now, I’m starting to hear that the gallery industry, maybe, is heading towards a huge shake up? How do you see these things playing out on a five year time horizon? What do you imagine is coming down the pike?

MVS: I have to tell you, I think we are at a huge change right now. More so than we’ve seen in our professional lifetimes, with the growth of online-only, and the fact that the online presence in many cases are more important than the print presence.

It’s certainly reaching a lot more people, and now there are all these places that never intend to have print. My concerns of course are rights and fees paid, and the fact that we need all the photographers to make a living. We have a whole generation coming in now that will be photo editors that maybe never worked in print, and everyone’s on such a high learning curve it’s wild.

I’d like to think that in terms of the fine art print world, that we’re growing the diversification of our collecting audience to be much, much more broad. We see it in corporate art, we see it in some of the huge empires in the hospital world commissioning work and really engaging in that way.

The magazines we see getting smaller, the online presence getting larger. I’m very concerned about the pressure on photographers about what they can release when, because then if they say yes to one magazine then they may never get the one they really want because they’ll say it’s already out.

We are in a time of real upheaval, and I want all of those next-generation of photo editors to be at the tables with those that are sage. Those that have been in the business for years, and hopefully not only influence their capabilities, but influence their understanding of the needs for photographers to keep their rights, to be paid fairly, all of those things.

So I’m cautiously optimistic in terms of the online world. I’m more optimistic than ever in terms of the print world, the collecting world, but we’ve got to all juggle things. Everyone has to understand all of the language, so that they can dabble in all of it and see what’s going to click for them body of work by body of work. That’s not been the way we’ve been thinking before.

JB: It seems like a lot of money flooded out of the system in general. Certainly as content became free, and companies weren’t able to stay in business just selling online advertising, so there’s been an outflow of capital in some ways, but a massive in-flow of interest.

When I do these interviews, inevitably we discuss this overwhelming demand for photography. With the smart phone revolution, with Instagram, we’re looking at billions of people who now have a passion, where the overall community used to be a fraction of that.

I feel like a lot of people see this extreme interest in photography as an eventual lead-in to maybe a new phase where capital comes back in to the industry. Where people make money in different ways.

Do you feel like the growth of global interest will ultimately be commodified, or do you think it might stay discreet from the capital flow?

MVS: Tell you what gives me optimism about the capital coming back in. More and more photographers I talk to are actually challenging the rights. They’ll write someone and say ‘no, I’m not going to take this for the cover; this is the price you offered for the inside,’ or on page 1… the home page is going to cost more.

Photographers are starting to understand how to leverage the value of their brand, and actually speaking up about it. You know me well enough to know I’ve been preaching that, I preach registration and copyright, keeping a paper trail, all of those obvious things, but I’m empowered lately by the fact that I’m hearing more and more younger people rise to that.

I’ll share with you that at Photoville this year, when I had just taken the job about a week before, I ran into Jake Naughton and his colleagues at the Black Box Cooperative. And I said to them, I said, “Let me turn the tables to you. How can we help you at LOOK3? What do you need at LOOK3 edu this year?”

Jake looked at his colleagues and he said, “Well.” And he looked back at me and he said, “None of us has a job, and we’re starting to realize that we probably never will. That the entire role of a staff photographer is out of existence. There are no jobs in the industry shooting that’s a full time job.”

He said, “We were not trained to be entrepreneurs in college, and we’ve got to learn to be.” That’s really where pitch came from.

That next morning, I was at Ed O’Keefe’s office at CNN and I shared with them this experience. It really helped me to shape what I wanted to do with edu, and he said, “You know, I bet they don’t realize that they could come in here and pitch me on a story.”

I said to Ed, “Not only do I think they don’t know that, but I don’t know that they’ve ever had that chance. I don’t think they have the experience to do that.”

I remember back when Darius and I did a seminar on portfolio reviews at PhotoPlus Expo, and we did a role play…

JB: Darius Himes.

MVS: Yeah, my co-author Darius Himes. We did a role-playing thing in front of the audience, and it was a lot of fun. But it made some serious points to people, and that’s really what I want to happen on that pitch day. I want people to have the opportunity to get more confident, and more comfortable with that language, and with that experience. To be ready to handle tough questions from people.

I think it’s just as important for us to be teaching not just the pitch, but the contract terms and the understanding of the rights. You know I’m constantly sending people to ASMP.org and to join their local branches, and to learn from those that have experience managing their own careers. Those who’ve been entrepreneurial for all of these years.

It’s part of why I want teachers to come. We’ve got to help this generation, and the next generation of photographers, be entrepreneurs, be young business people. The same with photographers that have had their whole life in one aspect of the career, where now they want to test other waters. They’ve got to learn from scratch too. When it comes back to the individual photographer, and they can manage those relationships well, then everybody is going to win.

JB: Here’s another big question then. LOOK3, which at least according to lore began as a projection in —

MVS: Nick’s backyard.

JB: Right, Nick Nichols back yard.

You’re a big, bold, ambitious person. But it’s still a festival model, and is built on this idea that there’s a get-together, a big community event that everybody flows in for and then, things ramp down, scale down on staff, save money, then ramp up again.

I’ve been to many festivals, and our readers have heard my experiences at Filter, Medium, PhotoNOLA, FotoFest and Review Santa Fe.

There are organizations around the country and around the world, but certainly we’re blessed here in the United States. Can you imagine something like LOOK3 expanding to the point where it’s not about the one big weekend? Can organizations like yours grow in ways that move beyond the tent-pole event? Or do you think the festival model stays rooted in a week a year?

MVS: LOOK3 has a community that gathers every year. It’s just like some of us that have been around certain things like PhotoNOLA since the beginning. We look forward to seeing our friends, our colleagues, the local gallerists, the local museum curators, the local NPPA photographers.

Everybody is one big community when we hit town, and there’s no question it feels that way at LOOK3. Even Jake Naughton from Black Box shared that he’d come every year since college. People come back to that place where it began, and certainly the city of Charlottesville is so proud to host it that I can’t imagine us not having something here. But I will tell you…

JB: I didn’t mean not having it each year. I meant, having more than one? Or having year-round programming so that the festival only becomes a part of the organization’s identity?

MVS: Right. Well, remember my roots in the Flying Short Course. I can’t tell you how important it is, I think, to roll things out to other communities. Whether we can pull together an economic model that will work to do that? But it’s certainly something that I talked about while speaking with my board about taking this job.

LOOK3 does a really excellent job regionally, where people can drive to it, but I don’t believe that we’re reaching everybody even in the US, and I would love to have us do some sort of remote work. I’m also really interested in where we’re going with the capabilities of live streaming, and I would love to have us connect with other festivals and do some live sharing of things that are going on around the world at festival time.

Next year is our tenth LOOK3. I really want to change it up and do some different things. Obviously I’ve got two months of programming to get out ahead, but believe me, we’re thinking long and hard about what kind of statement we can make.

You know, it’s wonderful watching other festival directors come every year to LOOK3. The head of Visa pour l’Image comes and the head of World Press plans to come. People that are engaged in a very global audience love coming to Charlottesville to LOOK3.

I’ve got to see what we can all put together, but I can tell you that I’ve had festival directors from all over the world reach out, and I would love to figure out a way that we could connect in that way as well as connecting regionally. Anything is possible at this point.

I’m really optimistic that we’re going to have a great year this year, and people will embrace the kind of change that I brought in, and we’ll get feedback from people about what else they’d like.

There was a section on our website leading up to this festival, where I reached out to the public and said what are your education needs now and what work inspires you? It went straight to a Google doc that we could share with our board of what everybody was asking for.

It was incredibly informative for me, particularly the education needs, because it kind of underscored my hunch of what was not being delivered either through colleges or through professional associations to photographers today.

But, I’m all for the biggest community that we can have, and sharing as economically so we can all continue to be physically present, but be able to reach people abroad. Have you had that experience Jonathan, that you’ve seen some live streaming from festivals that’s been engaging for you?

JB: Well, since you’re putting me on the spot, I will answer honestly, which is no. Not yet. But I do have painfully slow Internet out here in my horse pasture, so perhaps that might have something to do with it.

Listen, we’ve talked so much about LOOK3, and we’re getting to that point in the interviews where they start to wind down a little bit, so sometimes I like to be proactive. One of the things that I think that has amazed me about you is that you’re based in Tucson, with massive saguaro cactus’ in your yard, but you travel constantly.

I thought we’d kind of pivot a second and just have a little fun, and then I’ll let you get back to your evening. I know you’re not the type of person who would ever pick favorites, or what you like best, so I’m not going to ask the question that way.

But, if you knew that tonight was your last night on Earth, and you could have one slice of pizza, or one plate of food from that one little joint that you love in Chicago or L.A. What’s your go-to if you only got to have one plate of food from anywhere you’ve been, what would it be?

MVS: Oh my god.

JB: I’m totally putting you on the spot.

MVS: Oh you are. I’m really stumped.

JB: I know, I know. Maybe a couple of your favorites? What do you love?

MVS: I love being in New Mexico. I love being in New Orleans and of course I love being in New York. I never get enough time in San Francisco, it’s so damn expensive even just to fly there let alone get a hotel room anymore. It’s hard to engage, and we all want to be at Pier 24 as often as we can, right.

JB: The place is pretty great, though I haven’t been back in a while. But come on. You can say a big slice of New York pizza off the street, but I don’t know if that’s true. Is it a bowl of gumbo in some little back-alley joint in New Orleans?

MVS: Yeah, it’s posole, of course. I love my posole at Tomasita’s in Santa Fe…

JB: All right, there’s one.

MVS: One of the neighborhood joints.

JB: OK.

MVS: I rarely am in Tucson, so I love some of the food in Tucson too. We have a very different style of food from South of the Border. There’s a little Vietnamese place I love in New York. My favorite bagel shop of course is New York. Things like that.

JB: You gave us something. We always talk about photography. I love food, so I wanted to see what you brought to the table. You gave the shout out to New Mexico.

MVS: Yes.

JB: Do you give yourself a set amount of time that you’re going to devote to LOOK3, or do you literally just take it one day at a time?

MVS: Oh yeah, I need to get through a year of this, because I need to learn the system, and I need to understand every venue, and all of our partners and their needs and our sponsors and their needs. Our program this year has a much more diverse range, not just in nationalities and race and types of work, but it’s different generations.

We have the youngest speaker ever on the stage this year, Olivia Bee. It’s a big mash up, and a wonderful, wonderful experience. We’re testing a lot of new venues this year that we haven’t used before. I want to focus hard on this one year and get through this cycle, and then see what needs to be tweaked. That’s more my style, to run it where it has been, make tweaks as I can as it goes along. Tomorrow we’re doing our second round of testing on the big screen at the Paramount Theatre with new projectors. I’m getting involved in all those little aspects that are key.

JB: And you love it.

MVS: I love it. I love it. My personality, the way my brain works, has always been sort of the producer’s mindset, whether I was running a comprehensive workshop program or education program or in a school or putting together book projects, it’s production. It’s something that has a beginning, a middle and an end. Not a lot of routine. That excites me.

I want to make sure that LOOK3 is offering the most relevant education that we can each year, according to what the needs are in the industry, and what the needs of the photographers are. I want to make sure that we bring completely engaging work to the stage.

We want to bring as many exhibitions as possible. We’ve changed up the way the evening projections are, the outside projections by inviting guest curators to put those together, and so there’s a lot of room for growth. But I want to get through the full cycle before we see where we can improve, obviously. And I think we’re bringing a lot of new audiences to LOOK 3 this year, so it will be interesting to hear what a first timer has to say about the experience. All of those things are incredibly exciting to me. I hope you’ll come Jonathan.

JB: You’re kind of talking me into it. I’ll see what I can do. We’ll also say to all the people out there reading it, if you go, drop Swanee an email. You’ll become data. She’ll take your opinion seriously, right?

MVS: Oh, absolutely. Without any question. We totally do.

JB: Any last thoughts, before we go?

MVS: One thing that’s a little bit tricky– all of your readers should know— is that Charlottesville is a small town. Most people connect through D.C. to make their way down. I’m an Amtrak girl, and now I take Amtrak all the time up and down the coast. But it’s not a massive town for a lot of housing options, so don’t wait too long.

Gang your friends, rent a house together, something like that. Call us if you’re stuck, because we always kind of know… a lot of people will tell us that they’ve just booked somewhere, and they’ve got six rooms left there, or they’ve got one left over here, and someone heard about a new bed and breakfast that wasn’t on our list, so we add that up on the list. We want to make sure everybody has a place to stay, so they can make the most of their week in Charlottesville.

JB: Which means Airbnb will be a sponsored partner for 2017.

MVS: You know I have this dream actually.

JB: Of course you do.

MVS: I have this dream that we will get all of the owners of AirBnB houses within like a 10 square block area or something. Can you imagine the portfolio walk we can do if everybody is in their own houses and we go through a neighborhood? Wouldn’t that be awesome? ☺

JB: I knew you were imagining it. [laughs] I really wish you well with the new venture. But it sounds like you guys are doing really interesting things, so hopefully some of our audience will go check it out. And now they know they can drop you a note when they’re done.

MVS: Absolutely! And they can drop me a note beforehand. We are really looking forward to hosting all of you in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Daily Edit – Angie Smith: Stronger Shines the Light Inside

- - The Daily Edit

2V4A0408_AngieSmith_AngieSmith_Sarbahbi
_MG_0944_AngieSmith_AngieSmith_Patrick

_MG_5247-2_Rita_AngieSmith

_MG_9114_AngieSmith_Tito

2V4A6544_AngieSmith_AngieSmith_Khamisa

268A0101_AngieSmith_AngieSmith_Alfonse

Angie SmithStronger Shines the Light Inside

How do you see this work helping the refugees?
This work will be presented as an large scale, outdoor public exhibition that will be installed in 3 locations in downtown Boise for two months. My hope is anyone who stops to even read one story will walk away feeling like they have learned something new. The word “refugee” is so overused in our society right now because that’s the only word we have to describe people in this situation. But every single refugee living in Boise has such a different life journey. I want to help present these pictures and stories of refugees just as people, who happen to have been born into a situation that they eventually had to flee from, they all happened to end up in Idaho and they all have unique dreams they want to fulfill. Refugees aren’t just the images we see in the news of people in camps or migrating into Europe. Refugees are in the U.S. and they have been for many years, opening businesses, going to college, everyday they are surmounting tremendous obstacles. And beyond that, they are contributing so much to our communities. We just need take them time to connect with them. The more they are integrated into the communities where they resettle, the more they will succeed and be able to contribute to that community and the more we will all benefit. Boise stands out as one of the 5 most welcoming cities in America for refugees.

How did you find your subjects and what was the selection process?
I began with Rita and she is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Then I went to a church in Boise where the majority of the congregation is from the Congo. I offered to take pictures of families in the church, to offer them something that would be valuable, but it would also allow me to start making contacts with people. The first 8 shoots were to experiment and get comfortable and see if people were willing to participate. I made the most contacts within the Congolese community, which also makes up about 30% of the refugee population in Boise. I consistently went to the church services and brought back prints so that people got to know me. All of my contacts just grew from there. People would invite me to their birthday parties, weddings, soccer games and baptisms. I am trying to represent as many different countries as possible in this project, so I had to go through the same process with each different community whether it was the Iraqis, Eritreans or Somali Bantus- I had to build trust.

2015-11-20 15.22.53-2

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Interview_2015-09-27 16.07.21

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

How long did you spend with each person and what tools did you use to get them to open up to you?
I try to have an initial meeting with each person, without a camera. I find that it goes a long way to just spend time with people, without an agenda. Many people are coming from cultures where there was a lot more time in the day to simply talk with another person. I think it’s difficult for refugees to adjust to this American lifestyle of constantly working and being busy.  I try to ask them questions and get a sense of the situation they have fled, what their life is like in Idaho and what they spend their time doing. This helps me visualize the picture I want to take of them. The more time I spend with the person and the more I create the space to connect with them, the more trust is built and the more they open up to me. It’s really about putting the time and effort in to get to know them. Many of my subjects I have become great friends with and we spend time together without taking any pictures.

I usually spend about 2-3 hours with each person. For some people, I do several interviews because as I get to know them, they open up more or say profound things as time goes on that I want to include in the project. The less pressure I put on people to talk about something, the more they open up when they are ready. Some of the interviews I have done in collaboration with a writer, Hanne Steen, who has a similar interview style. However, she speaks French and grew up in Kenya, Rwanda and the Central African Republic, so having that shared experience with some of our subjects definitely helps.

How difficult was the editing process and were you the only one editing?
The exhibition will install on September 1st, so I am still shooting and gathering interviews. I can tell  the edit is going to be challenging because I have so many pictures and people from this project that I love. I want them all to be in it. But that’s why some of my goals for this work reach beyond this exhibition. I want to publish a book; start making films have this exhibit travel around the world. The more exposure it gets, the more opportunities I have to share these stories and impact people’s perceptions.

 I will most likely ask for editing help from a friend and amazing photography consultant Meredith Marlay for some visual consultation. I will also go through the same process with Hanne, my writing partner to discuss the stories and how to edit the stories.

The edit will reflect each person’s story to represent a different aspect of this experience. I am always listening for someone to make a point or talk about something that hasn’t been talked about by another refugee.

Did you shoot anyone but not include them in the body of work?
Yes, I have actually shot several people that have expressed some level of hesitation about being on the internet. An example is a transgender woman from Iran, who has been persecuted, beaten and raped throughout her life. She was very open about her experiences wanted to talk about what she has been though. After the photo shoot, she expressed some fear around her identity being revealed. We re-shot her in a way that didn’t show her face. With her, I know there is a high probability she will decide not to be in the project, and that’s okay.  Even if I don’t get a picture that I can use, if the experience made them feel happy, that’s enough for me.

Are you following up with the subjects? Giving prints?
Yes, I follow up with everyone, but it takes a lot of effort to track people down and give them prints. I go to parties and weddings and I photograph a lot of people who I don’t exchange information with because it would just take too long. At the end of the project, I will be allocating the time necessary to track people down. Luckily, it’s a fairly small community and everyone knows everyone, so I can usually find out fairly easily a person’s name and phone number just by asking around. Giving prints to people is really important as a gesture. But it’s funny because with the teenagers, they don’t really want prints. They want you to text them the photos so they can post them on facebook. It’s difficult to communicate to them why I can’t do that sometimes, because I need to keep the pictures close until the exhibition launches.

For more information about the project:
instagram
twitter
facebook
 

The Daily Promo: Carlos Serrao

- - The Daily Promo

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.23.29 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.23.36 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.23.43 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.23.49 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.23.56 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.24.01 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.24.07 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.24.12 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.24.17 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.24.23 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.24.30 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.24.35 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.24.40 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.24.51 PM

Carlos Serrao

Who printed it?
AWLITHO. Anthony, the owner, has done the past four promos with me.  He’s great because he will work with different vendors for the production. In this case, we had to go to two different printing facilities, since the outside of this one was traditional newsprint (37lb Text stock), the first few pages had to be done at a web press, and the inside pages were coated stock on a sheet fed (50lb coated stock).

Who designed it?
A great designer: Michael Spolgaric. He likes to have fun with it.

Who edited the images?
Just Michael and I.

How many did you make?
5000 copies; 3000 went to my US agent and 2000 to my European agent.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Ideally once a year, but last year got away from us.

Tell us why you chose a sport theme?
We wanted a sport driven one this year because of the Summer Olympics, because so many other clients besides the usual sport brands will be showing athletes. The web press was stressing out the printer because they we warning us the quality of photos on the newsprint stock would not be great, so we had to keep assuring them that’s what we were going for for the first few pages, in fact we added a little fading and yellowing tone to the newsprint to give it an aged look. Naturally, they should be how we want them in about a year, but we couldn’t wait that long!

Impressions From Texas

offthehighway,texas

claude,texas

by Jonathan Blaustein

When I came home and announced I like Texas, my father looked as if I’d declared myself Nazi. The shock was real, even if the anger was feigned.

Negative impressions of Texas run deep here in New Mexico, as we encounter the flashier, private-tour-bus-driving Texan tourists each summer. Like any bias, my own personal prejudices were hard to maintain, once I started visiting the state a few years ago.

This time I wanted to check out Dallas, since even Texans like to mock the place. I figured if Houston, Marfa and Austin were cool, maybe Dallas was too, in an under-the-radar kind of way.

Can’t exactly report I found the city charming; all concrete and highway onramps. But I was shown some pretty fantastic hospitality, by photographer Debora Hunter, and met friendly and smart members of the local art community as well. (Which made the detour worth it.)

And big shout out to the Austin Photo Crew, ably led by Sol Neelman. A heap of photographers came out on a Sunday night to drink beer, eat pizza, and catch up. They assured me it was nothing special, as their group, rolling 50 deep, meets up each month to drink, talk shop, and play skeeball in town.

I’ve already extolled the virtues of Ft. Worth, with the Kimbell and Amon Carter Museums being free all the time. (And the Modern on Sundays.) But why were they so great?

As you know, I love to be surprised. To be blown away by things I’ve never seen before. The Kimbell, with its top-shelf collection of global masterpieces, let me revisit many artists I love dearly. (Cezanne, Mondrian, Picasso.)

But there’s one art piece I’m still thinking about today. Can’t stop talking about it, really, because I’ve never seen anything like it, and doubt I will again.

“Christ the Redeemer,” by Tullio Lombardo, a Venetian, was dated between 1500-20. It’s a stunning, white-marble, profile sculpture of Jesus, in half-relief. A genuine Renaissance masterpiece, one of only two of his sculptures in the United States.

The object’s orbit drew me in with haste, like the smell of fresh baked pizza. The detail work! Incising stone like that! Into hair! Creating those types of repetitive patterns?

Unfathomable!

The technique, the mastery of the process, allows the piece to take on energy. The vibrations from the patterning, the solidity of the stone, and beauty of the color, it all comes together to create a calm, visceral energy in the immediate vicinity.

I must have stayed there 5 minutes, but it could have been an hour. I simply lost myself in wonder.

IMG_1935

That’s why tens of millions of people continue to go back to art museums every year. It’s easy to lose yourself in a movie. The sound, the scale, the visuals, they combine to build an immersive experience. Video games too.

But a sculpture sits still in space.
People bump into you.

The security guard asks you to please step back. Reality is all around, in 3 dimensions.

The best paintings, sculptures, photographs, they work so well that they allow us to jump the mundane turnstiles of regular life. It’s a big ask, I know, but that’s why I think we should always take the opportunity to visit with genius, when we can.

There was a Martin Puryear sculpture at the Modern that was equally brilliant, in its own way. I first found it from above, as it occupies multiple stories, and couldn’t believe the way it fit the gallery. Slowly receding up into space, diverging with its multiple shadows.

No wall card meant I had to ask around, and was told the artist info was down below, on the first floor. So I sprinted through the museum, (or at least power-walked, elbows pumping,) until I found its point of origin.

Breathtaking.
Beautiful.
Totemic.

Someone told me, later in my trip, that the piece had been designed for the space.

I believe it.

IMG_2193

Days later, I’d find the same phenomenon at the Menil Collection in Houston. (My second favorite art space in the US.) It was an insanely excellent, 60 foot long painting by Cy Twombly, in the mini-museum they have of his work. When I asked the security guard how it could fit so snugly, she said the building had been designed around the painting.

Why is that relevant?

Maybe it’s not, but it seems like a part of the Texas Zeitgeist. Exorbitant amounts of money, an important if fairly recent history, and a culture that’s trying to catch up with global mega-cities that have hundreds of years of head starts. (There were cranes everywhere in Dallas. Always a sign of growth and ambition.)

By the time I got to FotoFest, half-way into my trip, I was pretty worn out. This was not going to be one of those events where I got to drink, party, and chat all night long.

No sir.

I stayed off-site from the event, in a little Airbnb studio that smelled like wet dog. (But thankfully came with an electric air freshener.) I made sure to get a good night’s sleep each evening, which I recommend, and took walks each day, to counteract the effects of all that recycled, conference-room air.

Normally, I’d have a slate of articles about the best work I saw. But as I was showing my own work, I didn’t have the same time to look at other people’s portfolios. Nor did a lot of projects jump out at me during my brief tour of the portfolio walk.

There are always a few people that have the “it” vibe at an event like this. Always happens. This time, Mahtab Hussain, from England, had the work people raved about, with his series “You Get Me?” I saw his pictures on the wall of one of the attendant FotoFest exhibitions, and was sucked in immediately.

He photographs young members of the disaffected Muslim community in England, where he grew up. These are the type of razor-sharp, incisive, taut, personal portraits that give photography a good name. Beyond that, of course, they’re as topical as Molenbeek, so Mahtab has that going for him as well.

Meghann Riepenhoff, another exhibiting artist, also had the buzz. She works with cyanotypes, which are having a moment, and makes pictures in the hand-made, of-the-Earth style embraced by her fellow West Coast photographers Matthew Brandt, John Chiara, and Chris McCaw.

Her installation, which I also saw on the wall, was pretty excellent. Furthermore, it didn’t look like other peoples’ pictures.

What’s the lesson here?

If you can get your photographs to a place where they are technically excellent, aesthetically pleasing, speaking to ideas that are important to you, relatively original, and relevant to contemporary issues: you might blow up at FotoFest.

I was also pretty impressed by Peter DiCampo’s new work, which he showed me one day. Peter runs an Instagram feed called Everyday Africa, of which you might have heard. The way he spoke about his project, built on the back of his own experience in the Peace Corps in Africa, reflected a fatalistic but humorous cynicism. He’s genuinely conflicted about the role of Western Aid in Africa, and it gave the pictures, as well as the narrative, a more nuanced take on do-gooding than I’m used to hearing.

Priya Kambli, of whom I’ve written before, also showed me some pictures that stuck in my brain. She’s always worked with historical, family imagery in her practice, but this time, she had images in which she had clearly “destroyed” or altered the source material, which then became her work. (Mostly by stippling little pin holes through old photos)

She admitted to me, and a couple of people who were looking, that she hadn’t scanned the originals before she attacked them. The others were mortified.

How could she not scan them first?
You can’t do that!
It’s sacrilegious!

I disagreed. There was a real tension to the pictures, and I thought part of that was due to the way Priya was out there without training wheels. She committed to the work, risked destroying important parts of her history, in order to make something better.

Something new.

Which is why I left for this big Texas road-trip in the first place. To see new things. To meet new people. To bring some fresh energy into my little Taos bubble.

Mission accomplished.

Art Producers Speak: Jay Reilly

We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.sease@verizon.net

Anonymous Art Producer: I nominate Jay Reilly. He embodies the SoCal aesthetic not only in his photography, but also his personality; laid back, easy going, always smiling. This shines through in his interactions with his talent and consequently his photographs. His use of color and light capture the eternal glow of California and all it represents.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

aphotoeditor_0004

aphotoeditor_0005

aphotoeditor_0008

aphotoeditor_0009

aphotoeditor_0010

aphotoeditor_0012

aphotoeditor_0013

aphotoeditor_0014

aphotoeditor_0015

aphotoeditor_0016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

aphotoeditor_0018

aphotoeditor_0020

aphotoeditor_0021

aphotoeditor_0022

aphotoeditor_0024

aphotoeditor_0026

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

aphotoeditor_0029

aphotoeditor_0030

aphotoeditor_0031

aphotoeditor_0032

How many years have you been in business?
I have been a professional photographer for about 13 years.  Before that, I was involved in tech marketing/advertising.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a major in Administration of Justice, then attended 1 year of law school before realizing I am  more of a creative person than a litigator. I am self-taught in photography.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
After law school I worked for technology companies in the marketing world and spent many hours looking through stock photography sites for images that we needed for our projects. Rather than specific photographers that were personally inspiring, were the quality and variety of images that fascinated me. More than merely appropriate for the project I was working on, the content was great, the composition was strong, the life in the images was real. I just felt very connected to certain stock agencies and knew that I could create these images as well, maybe even better with my own style, technique and creativity. I was inspired by the ability to create something beautiful and inspiring that also has commercial application. My photography from day one is intended to sell.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I am constantly creating new images, and I consider it  a labor of love to continually feed my portfolio with new work. Shooting tends to come in waves. For a stretch I will be busy working for clients, and then in between such jobs,  I can fill my portfolio with what I want to shoot. Once the clients call again I can focus on making their images, but it is especially rewarding when clients see something I have shot for myself and say – exactly!  Interplay between clients and photographer is an important part of the process. What I shoot for the clients comes from my images as well as the client’s vision.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
First and foremost I am shooting to serve the clients. I tend to get hired because someone saw an image I shot and it resonated with them for a certain project the client had in mind. But then after time and discussion that image that they love becomes something else and something of its own. I like to take direction from creatives and clients. If I feel strongly about an idea or a position, I will communicate that position or try to shoot it for myself, time permitting.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Overall my approach is much more modest and guerrilla in nature, but that has been successful for me. I am unrepresented and therefore I do most of my own marketing and horn tooting.  I try to keep my cost and initiatives modest while implementing effective yet practical means to have creatives see what I am shooting. Using social media has been successful. I try at first to develop potential client relationships casually online, but ultimately what is important is to ask for a meeting or a real face-to-face connection. Shooting great content is only half of the equation. These images need to be seen by the right people.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Well, I have to remind myself all the time that my images do not need to be perfect. There is this adorable trend of honest snapshots in advertising that looks perfectly imperfect. But what it’s about is the authentic moments that happen in life. The moments in-between the big moments that mean a lot. I am always reminding myself to look for and capture these split seconds. Don’t worry about the untamed imperfections; just keep shooting.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I am always shooting new images. In addition to creating new work, I am looking to collaborate and create with others. The many types of photography I shoot I can produce successfully on my own. This might include travel, documentary, certain lifestyle imagery, sports, surfing photography to name a few. But to grow other areas of my portfolio, it is desirable that I collaborate with others to create something compelling and unique. These areas may include  fashion, portrait, and larger production lifestyle work. I would welcome association with a magazine, a producer or a fashion stylist. So some of these collaborations become artistic endeavors and are very similar to shooting for a client or focusing on a project.

How often are you shooting new work?
Depends on how busy I am. I love shooting new material but if the clients are calling then I am shooting for clients. But as soon as these jobs wind down, I immediately dig in to focus on new work. Sometimes it takes a little momentum and energy to make that happen. But in many ways it’s like surfing (another one of my passions); sometimes it’s no fun to put on a cold wetsuit and brave the winter water.. but once I catch that first wave, I am energized.  From then on I can  paddle and surf all day! The same is true for my reaction to  new work. It takes a little manufactured energy to get to that first shoot, but from then on, I am riding the energy wave and excitement which carries me to the next shoot!

——————-

Clients and agencies hire Jay Reilly, acknowledging his ability to produce and create authentic imagery that supports, communicates and propels the brand or organization into the future and toward the desired goals. Jay Reilly has a team of creative professionals ready to mobilize and meet your creative needs. Producer, stylist, location scouts and casting professionals provide the right mix of talent and skill, and they look forward to making your vision a reality.

A partial list of Jay Reilly’s satisfied clients include: Nike, Sony, TD Ameritrade, Tate&Lyle, Splenda, Chandon Domaine, Bristol Myers, Cal-Poly State University, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Parade, Design Bureau, O’Leary, Gyro, Pollinate, Private Clubs, Riviera, San Diego Magazine and many more.

Jay Reilly is based in Carlsbad, California between Los Angeles and San Diego California and shoots wherever needed. He can be found anywhere from San Francisco to New York. Jay Reilly works unrepresented and determines his own budget and cost for a shoot. Call at 760.525.5172 to discuss a project.

 

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 founding 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 fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Pricing and Negotiating: Real Employees for Trade Ads

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Environmental lifestyle images and portraits of client employees

Licensing: Unlimited use of 36 images for 1 year

Location: Client facilites on the West Coast

Shoot Days: 3

Photographer: Lifestyle and portrait specialist

Agency: Mid-sized agency based in the Midwest

Client: One of the largest manufacturers you’ve probably never heard of

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: Late last year we worked with one of our West Coast-based photographers to estimate and produce a project for one of the largest brands you’ve never heard of, but probably crossed paths with at some point. This is partially due to the nature of their product and the fact that they are trade oriented and don’t deal with consumers directly. The agency was developing a new web presence for the client, along with a number of trade print ads, all of which humanized the brand by highlighting the employees who manage the day to day operations. The concept was relatively straightforward; the photographer would need to capture environmental portraits of client employees at client facilities on the West Coast. Although the locations and talent would be provided, there was still a lengthy shot list, operational locations, and a fair amount of production involved.

This was a somewhat challenging fee to pin down because of the scale/reach of the client, the agency’s requirement of “unlimited” use in spite of the limited intended use, and a shot list that seemed to split the difference between an image-based approach and a library approach. Though the client was expecting to walk away with 36 selects, the shot list only consisted of 12 hero shots (four scenarios/shoot day). The additional 24 images were described as “pickup” variations of the 12 principal images. Because of the straightforward concept and relatively static scenarios, it was difficult to imagine these variations creating much value for the client.

Much as I try to avoid this thinking, I established a ceiling in the back of my mind, due to the “typical” library rate range of 7,500-15,000/day (which generally wouldn’t include a limit on the image count or duration of use). Additionally, we determined the value for the 12 principal images was considerably higher than the 24 variations. Weighted in this manner, we set the fee at 26,500.00 for the first 12 images (1 @ 5000.00, 2-6 @ 2500.00 each, 7-12 @ 1500.00 each) and 15,000.00 for the 24 variations (13-24 @ 750.00 each, 25-36 @ 500.00 each), bringing us to a total of 41,500.00 for the creative and licensing fee for this project. This falls on the higher end of the library ceiling I’d set (particularly considering the limitations), but the photographer has a unique approach and aesthetic favored by the client and agency, so we felt we could start with healthier fees. We were confident that the agency would come back to us to negotiate if our numbers didn’t align with theirs because of the photographer’s preferred position. We must have hit the mark, because the agency approved the bid without a single question or requested revision (which is exceedingly rare).

Client Provisions: We made sure to indicate that the agency and/or client would provide locations, casting and talent, requisite releases and any major set or product props.

Tech/Scout Days: We included a tech/scout day to walk through the three locations the day before the shoot.

Assistants and Tech: We included two killer assistants and a top-notch digital tech. The lighting kit would be minimal, but we’d be moving a lot and wanted to make sure we had enough hands on deck. The tech included a small mobile workstation in her fee.

Producer: We included a producer (including travel fees and expenses) to manage the crew, employee talent, locations, stylists, catering, parking, scheduling, local transportation, and just about any other logistical concerns that may come up throughout pre-production and the shoot.

Equipment: We estimated 1,500.00/day for a pair of DSLR bodies, a number of lenses, portable strobes, walkies and a one-ton grip truck.

Styling: We brought on two stylists (and one stylist assistant) to manage HMU, supplemental wardrobe (the subjects would provide a few of their own outfits and the client would provide necessary uniforms) and supplement personal props like handbags, folios, phones, etc. Major set props would be provided by the client – basically, we would work with existing spaces as is.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This fee covered time, equipment and costs for the initial import, edit, batch color correction and upload of the images via FTP (or similar) for client review and selection. A digital tech will handle most of this on set, but often the photographer will want to fine tune and finesse the edit a bit before sharing with the client/agency.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: We included basic select processing (color correction and minor cleanup/touchups) as a lump sum (based on 125.00/image in this case), giving us a bit more ground to stand on if the client ultimately selected fewer than 36 images, as they would still be responsible for the full post processing amount.

Travel Expenses: The producer would be travelling in for the shoot so I used Kayak.com to determine reasonable airfare, lodging and car rental costs.

Catering, Insurance and Misc.: We included catering for 23 crew, agency, employee talent and client for each of the three shoot days, insurance to cover necessary workers comp/general liability premiums and a healthy “misc.” line to cover client dinners, local transportation and any other unexpected miscellaneous expenses that may pop up throughout the shoot.

Results: As I mentioned above, the initial estimate was accepted without any revisions. The shoot went as smoothly as it could have and everyone was stoked with the final product.

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 Promo: Charlie Hess – 20 Over Twenty

- - The Daily Edit

20OVERTWENTY-LOGO1000PX

Hanauer-Joni-MitchellWEB

Mark Hanauer

TED.WEB.UCLA_J_F_Herrera0037_2600

Ted Catanzaro


WEB.obama_czerwonka

Michal Czerwonka

WEBBeekeeper

Rebecca Cabbage

WEBCarlaCoffing_3

Carla Richmond Coffing


WEBMensHealthEagleScout__Shot-01_0069_v4

Gregg Segal

20 Over Twenty

Chess Design website
Chess Design Instagram

 

What made you want to form this collective?
In my day-to-day practice as an editorial art director and photo editor I began to see huge changes in how photography was being used, and compensated.

On the one side, I see the Directors of Marketing and Communication that I work with scrambling for “content” (what we used to call pictures!) With more and more traffic going to sophisticated websites and social media platforms there is an endless need for digital imagery to “feed the beast.” Websites need to be updated often. And social media platforms need to be fed daily. Consequently, these marketing directors jobs get harder and harder. Not only are they scrambling for content, it has to be on brand, high quality and compelling.

I thought we could help.

Meanwhile, all the great editorial photographers that I work with every day are generally getting less work and being paid less for it too. They didn’t forget how to take great pictures! It just became okay to ask for images for free or for smaller fees, with more usage. It’s the constant drip drip of imagery being devalued. In a world where everyone is shooting daily, why not use your iPhone picture instead. It’s “good enough.” And it’s free. I don’t think it’s okay to diminish the value of people’s work. You wouldn’t ask your lawyer to cut his fees because there are lots of other law firms. For the magazines I work with they understand that we don’t have to pay a fortune, but we have to pay fairly for a days work. And, in return, they get stellar work, shot by professionals, and delivered in such a way that they can use it across all platforms.

These trends inspired me to develop a new agency to meet this need. It’s called 20overTwenty.com (like 20/20 — perfect vision.)

I saw a way to merge all these industry sea changes, making it easier for the clients, and create more work for the creatives. We developed a hybrid business model that includes me as art director, working with clients to best tell their stories. I will help them conceptualize and plan the shoots they need over the course of time, and they can build it into their budget. Plus, the clients get the full talent and resources of all our photographers. Between the six photographers we can shoot nearly anything. Most importantly, this takes the pressure off the marketing clients — they’ll get great photos, specific to their needs, and over time build a library of evergreen images for print, web, app and social media. It’s a win-win.

How did you decide what markets to focus on?
I want us to work with clients and causes that are meaningful. In my mind that’s academic and cultural institutions, and nonprofits — museums, schools, good causes, really anyone who needs content and is working towards good, not evil. These entities typically have decent marketing budgets, and working for universities all these years I know how to get a lot of mileage out of editorial photo fees! We’ll make work that we are proud of, collaborate with smart people, and pay the rent too. Besides, we’re never going to compete with the agencies, and wouldn’t want the headaches.

What were the key factors in choosing your line up of photographers?
Simple answer: Grownups. No drama. Great talent. Basically, photographers I’ve worked with for years, who I know will show up on time, and be professional with the clients and subjects. Also each of them has their own aesthetic. I spent a ton of time thinking about the mix. I wanted us to be able to be able handle any assignment without compromising. And, by the way, that also means video shoots too. And copywriting. And animation. And anything else the clients might need. In a rapidly changing industry we need to stay flexible.

Our out-of-the-gate lineup is Mark Hanauer, Rebecca Cabage, Gregg Segal, Carla Richmond Coffing, Ted Catanzaro and Mikal Czerwonka. When you look at the site you’ll see the depth and range of their work — plus passion, intelligence and creativity.

How does someone get in touch with you to be a part of it?
For now, as a start-up, we have plenty of great talent. But hopefully in the future we’ll need more of everything — photographers in all the major cities, and in a perfect world, experience with cutting-edge new media too.

If you’re a Director of Marketing and Communication you can contact us at 20overTwenty@gmail.com

Where do you see this project in 5 years?
We’ll all be on the beach drinking rum cocktails, making art projects out of shells… when we’re not too sunburned or hungover!

The Daily Promo: Jeff Stephens

- - The Daily Promo

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 10.52.23 AM

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 12.34.55 PM

 Jeff Stephens

Who printed it?
Minuteman Press

Who designed it?
It was designed in house at my agency, The Photo Division

Who edited the images?
My agent, Maureen Dalton Wolfe

How many did you make?
50 total. This was a very small, specific run. We hand delivered with live Flowers to specific clients locally. But, sent flower seeds to clients nationally.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
1 significant promo a year, in addition to small run promos about each month.

How did the flower idea develop?
We try to come up with unique reasons to send a promo. This year we decided it should be all about new beginnings, something bright and promising for the spring ahead. We chose the yellow flower and Alex Rasi hand illustrated the back art and poem. We wanted to cheer people up and lighten the mood. We hand spray paint all of our envelopes, pick stamps to match and delivered this one with flower seeds and or an orchid.

Jeff Stephens Valentine's Day Promo 2016

We recently sent out a Valentine’s promo that was also well received. It was our grey envelope with our logo hand painted in pink or red spray paint. We sent a mix of lips or “kiss” postcards and chocolate lips or lipstick compact to go with it. We try to do anything we can to help brighten someone’s day and make their day in the office go just a little bit better.

 

Discarded: Anthony Hernandez at the Amon Carter Museum

by Jonathan Blaustein

On my last night in Texas, I stayed with an old friend, outside Austin. Jeff, who’s my age, is one of the few people I’ve known my whole life. (Beyond family, of course.)

We hadn’t seen each other in 12 years, and things have been difficult for him since then. But he handed me a jalapeño margarita soon after I walked in the door, and then we drank some beer, ate wicked Mexican food, watched the NCAA tournament, played video games, and laughed for 6 hours straight.

Jeff had a major heart attack the next day. (Hours after I drove off towards the endless horizon.)

Sometimes, change moves quickly, like a tornado, even though its causes have been building for years.

Think about the way we treat our planet. Some recent sci-fi films, like “Wall-E” and “Interstellar,” suggest we can all pack up and leave one day. Just shoot humanity up into space, and the rest will take care of itself.

Maybe.
I guess.
It’s possible.

But it seems like a bad bet, from where I’m sitting. (Yes, at my white kitchen table.)

That sense of fait accompli, that it’s all just a matter of time- I felt it strongly, the longer I stood in Anthony Hernandez’s photography exhibition “Discarded,” at the Amon Carter Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas.

We’re done here, I kept thinking.
We tried.
We failed.

C’est la vie.

In fairness, he might not have been speaking about all of us.
Just the Californians.

Mr. Hernandez is known in art circles, I’ve gathered, though I hadn’t heard of him until I saw his show. I’d been drawn to the Amon Carter Museum, as I was meant to meet one of their curators at FotoFest, and I wanted to be prepared. (As I’ve written countless times, from the perspective of the reviewer, do your homework. In this case, I visited a city just to check out this person’s curatorial practice.)

The show, however, was more than worth the trip. And it wasn’t even the best art I saw that day. The Kimbell Museum, recommended by my friend Ed, was unbelievably dynamite, and I can’t stress that enough. Both the Kimbell and the Amon Carter Museums are free, as is the adjacent Ft. Worth Modern on Sundays.

As I happened to visit on a Sunday, I got to see terrific art in 3 museums, over 3 hours, without paying a dollar. If you live in DFW, or are visiting that part of Texas, get your ass to Ft. Worth and see what they have going on.

You’ll thank me.

That said, this is meant to be an exhibition review, so let me pivot back to our putative point.

The prints in Anthony Hernandez’s exhibition, made between 2012-15, are all very large, and share a clean, clear California light that I described in my notes as “pitiless.” Cruel might be appropriate as well.

Apparently, Mr. Hernandez is known for his pictures of socialites and street people in LA. He’s an LA guy, it would seem. But for this show, he took his talents to the less glamorous parts of CA. The Inland Empire, the Central Valley, Mojave and the Salton Sea.

I’ve driven through many of those places, and can attest that they lend themselves to an end-of-the-world-type vibe. And I did wonder if there wasn’t a bit of city-snobbery in the way these places are depicted.

But really, it’s hard to lay it on too thick in spots this bleak. (Before you ask, the work does evoke John Divola and Richard Misrach, but I didn’t find it derivative.)

Just last year, everyone was talking about California running out of water. It was in the news cycle for months, this idea that its time was up. One El Niño later, and it’s no longer an issue, if the media is to be trusted.

But things don’t work like that.

The heart attack might strike like a ninja, but its antecedents move slowly, like tectonic plates. (We made our bed, and now we have to lie in it, even though it’s a rank, urine-soaked mattress on the floor of a vacant starter-home.)

There were almost no people in the pictures, but their imprint was everywhere. Abandoned homes with broken doors shoved over gaping window orifices. Purple-ish concrete-block fences that looked like minimalist bracelets. Scattered oranges on a dirt road, reminiscent of Roger Fenton’s cannonballs.

And always, that blazing, unforgiving light.

I made notes like, “When you’re done here, make sure to turn out the lights.” Or, “Has California just given up?”

Defunct, half-built housing projects defeated by the Great Recession connect economics gracefully to environmentalism. A pristine new curb, separating gravel from dirt, in a place where no homes will ever be built. A valley, called Lucerne, which probably gets as much water in a Millennium as its Swiss counterpart gets in a week in Winter.

The end of the world. That’s what this show makes you think about.

Uplifting stuff.

It puts me in mind of a conversation that Jeff and I had, in his suburban apartment off a Texas highway. Though I’ve admitted there’s nothing funny about Donald Trump, we did laugh about the fact Ted Cruz has to be PRETTY FUCKING CRAZY to be the biggest lunatic in the Republican race.

We may fear Trump more, but Ted Cruz, as a true Evangelical believer, is anxiously awaiting Armageddon. He’s so excited for Jesus to come back and kill everyone who’s not on his team. ISIS wants the end times, sure, but so do many of our fellow Americans.

So while The Donald is odious, I don’t think he shares Ted Cruz’s desire for the End Days to come sooner, rather than later.

After seeing Anthony Hernandez’s exhibition, I can’t help but wonder if we’re running out of time.

discarded_5

© Anthony Hernandez

discarded_11

© Anthony Hernandez

discarded_19

© Anthony Hernandez

discarded_23

© Anthony Hernandez

discarded_35

© Anthony Hernandez

discarded_50

© Anthony Hernandez