The Art of the Personal Project: Jonathan Beller

- - Personal Project

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

Today’s featured artist: Jonathan Beller

It was midnight on March 3, 2017, and Jonathan Beller decided it was time to go out.  This time, he wasn’t going out into the cold Providence night, to the local punk rock club or one of neighborhood hipster bars. It was time to go the hospital.

He put on a vintage t-shirt and then he rested. He got up, put on pajama bottoms, and then he laid down again. Get dressed, rest, and repeat.  A task that would have taken a couple of minutes had taken him three hours to complete.

At 3 AM, he called an Uber and waited.  He sat with the excruciating pain and the extreme fatigue and looked at how bony his hands had become, and wondered for the thousandth time what the fuck was wrong with him.

The ten-minute Uber trip to the hospital in the middle of the night turned into a month-long stay.  The first few days were filled with tests and acronyms: two MRIs, a CT scan, EKGs, an X-Ray, and PIC IV.

After the tests, the doctor told him what the fuck was wrong with him: sepsis and diabetes that had gone untreated for years.  “You were on death’s door when you got here. All of your organs were shutting down. A forty-five year old man of your height should weigh about 150 lbs. You came in weighing 109. You’re very lucky.”

This is a great way to celebrate just turning 45, he thought as he listened to his doctor and the beeping of his machine, and stared at the IV bag above his head.

Jonathan and I had dated for nine months in 2014 and 2015. I was always concerned about his health – he was losing weight and sleeping excessively. I only recall a couple of days together when he didn’t drink excessively. I told him a number of times to go to the doctor, but he always told me not to worry about him.

Of course, I still worried.

I knew deep down that he would end up in the hospital. I spoke to him from experience. I had had my own mortality up in arms when I was 25 with a cancer scare. I knew what I was talking about.

When I saw the first photo Jonathan had taken at the hospital, his arm mangled by syringes, it was my worries manifested. The series that Jonathan created during his month-long stay in the hospital illustrates the black and white tedium of the hospital, filled with bad TV marathons and fluorescent lighting. The waiting as time slowly ticks by. But it also illustrates someone who was on the edge of life and death, and is now reaching towards life.

Written by: Caitlyn DiPompo

To see more of this project, click here.

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

 

The Daily Edit – AFAR: Dina Litovsky

- - The Daily Edit

AFAR

Director of Photography: Tara Guertin
Art Director: Jason Seldon
Assistant Photo Editor: Rachel McCord
Photographer: Dina Litovsky

Heidi: How do you approach travel stories?
Dina: I always like to do a fair amount of research beforehand. That involves reading up about its culture, people and landmarks. A useful place to start is past travel articles, which are also great for initial photo research. Looking at previous images of a city both gives me an idea of what to expect as well as what to avoid. It’s fun to be seduced by certain things when at a new location – everything seems exciting – but then it’s very easy to unwittingly repeat existing images of an over-photographed place/landmark. 

Once on location, I like to have a first day where I walk around the city only with an iPhone, getting a feel for the city and making quick images of locations where I’d like to come back to.

In certain cultures locals are leery of being photographer, how do you deal with this?
Learning the rules of that culture and respecting them. Even if there is no big language barrier, I like having a local guide who can help me navigate the intricacies of unspoken street rules.

How many days was your shoot.
6 days.

Do you give yourself an extra day to fill in any gaps or round out the full narrative?
I try to do that as much as possible with each assignment. I always start editing my work after the first couple of days, during which I allow myself to shoot on instinct. After that, I approach the shoot with more intent, filling in the gaps daily and fleshing out the story. 

 
 

 

The Daily Promo – Sol Neelman

- - The Daily Promo

Sol Neelman

Who printed it?

Never thought I’d be able to boast that Topps printed my promos, but they did. You can upload your photos on their site and pair them with designs from some of their vintage trading cards.

For common cards to fill the packs, I collected old baseball and pro wrestling cards and defaced them with stickers of my masked face. Those were printed at home on shipping labels with my temperamental Epson R2880.

As for the photo stickers and packaging labels, I used stickeryou.com. Can’t believe how great a job they did.

Who designed it?

I borrowed basic design elements from Topps cards and wrappers over the years for my DIY promo pack.

The front sticker features a sketched version of my photo on the cover of Weird Sports 2. Tanyia Johnson, an old friend and talented graphic artist, drew that. She also held my hand – a lot! – and gave great feedback throughout the process.

For better or worse, baseball cards and wrappers back in the day were not designed by anyone nearly as talented as TJ. Many times, I got away with using my basic design skills.

The sticker insert is a slightly modified version of the cover of my first book, Weird Sports, designed by Katha Stumpf at Kehrer Verlag.

Tell me about the images?

With the advice of friend, agent and consultant Maren Levinson (redeyereps.com), we chose 5 images from my Weird Sports book series: Redneck Games, Frog Jumping, Dirty Dash, Ostrich Racing and Drag Queen Softball.

Because of the size and dimensions of the trading cards, I needed images that could hold up well small and were quick hits. I put just one of those 5 collectibles in each pack.

Since my goal with this entire project was simply for folks to check out my updated web site (solneelman.com), I was able to lean more on the WTF?! factor for the entire presentation. Trying to showcase work on a 2.5” x 3.5” piece of cardboard is seldom ideal.

How many did you make?

I made 500 promo packs, and I’ll likely do follow-up special editions for special occasions.

While most of those promos have already been mailed out, I am sending out a little something fun and weird for those that mail me a self-addressed stamped envelope. (My addy: 589 Park Place #14, Brooklyn, NY 11238 USA.)

How many times a year do you send out promos?

Honestly, this is really my first-ever promotional mailer.

This process for me started when Maren asked me this very same question. When I replied that I never mail out promos, she told me to get on it. I wanted to do something that was unique, weird, memorable and – most importantly – felt like me. Also I wanted to create something that was less likely to be immediately trashed.

Usually, when I meet with clients and art buyers personally, they’ll get a signed copy of one of my Weird Sports books, along with a custom luchador mask. Individual leave-behinds have always been fun for me to dream up. Mailers for the masses, not so much.

I loved unwrapping packs of cards as a kid, excited to discover fun gems inside, and I hoped to share that feeling with others. I’ve been toying around with something like this for years, just needed the kick in the rear to get on it. (Thanks, Maren!)

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?

I have no idea, Rob. Having been in this game for awhile, I’ve learned that there are many seeds planted before anything bares fruit. I’d love to think that advertising art buyers got one of my Weird Sports promo packs in the mail, laughed their asses off, checked out my web site and tossed my name in the ring for a fun gig. But who really knows? At least I had fun making them.

To see more behind the scenes on this process visit Sol’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/solneelman

The Best Work I Saw at Photo NOLA: Part 1

 

I’ve been to New Orleans four times in my life.

Each visit, I’ve gone in December. It’s not entirely a coincidence, as that’s when the Photo NOLA festival takes place. (I’ve attended in 2012, ’14 and now ’17)

Despite the fact that New Orleans is situated on the Gulf Coast, and is reputed for its lovely winter weather, two of my visits were met with freezing-rain-ice-storms that made me want to cry in a pillow.

(The other two times I was met with humid, sunny, 70-80 degree weather, so I guess it all depends on luck.)

The fact the weather was awful this year was mitigated by the fact that I’d planned the trip with little time scheduled outside the International House Hotel, where the event is held each year. (It’s just a few short blocks outside the French Quarter.)

Mostly, I was either in the hotel or adjoining conference center, or safely ensconced inside a bar/restaurant/museum/gallery/party/Uber. So any whinging I now provide is mostly for comedic effect.

There was a brief moment, the first night, when I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the heat in my hotel room, and I actually did cry into a pillow, but beyond that, I had a smashing time at Photo NOLA last month.

Like many portfolio review events these days, Photo NOLA is run by a non-profit, in this case the New Orleans Photo Alliance, which is a member-supported organization. (We did an interview on the subject years ago with Jennifer Shaw, if you’d like to learn more about it.)

So Photo NOLA is imbued with a sense of mission, and everyone clearly loves being a part of such a vibrant local photo community. Like Filter in Chicago, another of my favorites, this festival puts heavy emphasis on socializing, as they have several parties and events lined up, including a gala at the New Orleans Museum of Art, and a yellow-school-bus-led gallery tour.

Photographers have a lot of choices these days, as far as review events to attend, so I think the fact that you can have so much fun at Photo NOLA, in addition to the fact they clearly get a few reviewers each year who normally aren’t on the circuit, makes it a very wise place to invest your obviously-limited resources.

(If you’re one of the few out there who’s doing really well, getting rich off of being a photographer, you can ignore the previous comment, but have the decency to keep it to yourself, OK?)

For whatever reason, I had a lot of people visit the table this year who were looking for advice and feedback, but weren’t quite ready to be shown here. I do the best I can to help, obviously, but only publish work in the column that demonstrates a high degree of craft, if not concept, over 8-10 pictures.

As such, I’ll show you a handful of projects today and next week, and then we’ll be back to the book reviews. I attend most of these events in the summer and fall, so this will be the end of the review stories, for a while.

As usual, the photographers are in no particular order.

Ok, they’re in no particular order beyond the fact that I’m starting with Jared Ragland. His work was the most complete, compelling project I saw, and I voted for it for the Photo NOLA prize.

Jared used to work with Pete Souza in Obama’s White House. (An era that now seems like Martin Sheen’s TV presidency, for all the similarities it shares with contemporary reality.) But Jared is originally from Alabama, and returned home to turn his attention to the meth epidemic that is ravaging the NE part of the state.

The pictures are genuinely visceral, as they make a viewer feel uncomfortable. They show something decidedly ugly, and real, but the strong aesthetics give the ride a bit of turbo boost. Additionally, Jared worked with a sociologist to give the project a sense of academic rigor.

Brilliant stuff.

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Jared Ragland, from the series, GOOD BAD PEOPLE: Methamphetamine Use on Sand Mountain, Marshall County, Alabama.
jaredragland.com

Ellie Ivanova had a new take on a subject matter we’ve all seen before: war re-enactors. It’s not hard to see why people are drawn to the subject, as it’s incredibly visual, and also goes pretty far down the road of creating the impression of time travel.

I feel most photographers neglect to really push the element of time in their work, so when the clothing and props are already there for the taking, it’s not hard to see why people with cameras get curious.

Ellie is from Bulgaria, but based in Denton, TX, where she got her MFA degree. She is using a fairly original analog technique to make prints that don’t look real, using some strange acid trick. The chemistry acts in funny ways, and eats away at the emulsion, so the visual effects enhance the emotionality, I think, and also imbue the subject with a bit of originality.








I first saw Amilton Neves‘s work during the portfolio walk, and stopped in my tracks, as it is clearly compelling. Luckily, he had a review with me the next day, so I got the full backstory.

Amilton recently moved to Tampa from Mozambique, where he was both a photographer and an anthropologist. Back home, he became intrigued by a community of women who’d been encouraged to write letters to Portuguese colonial soldiers during a war of independence in the 60’s and 70’s.

Portugal was eventually ejected, after 500 years of Colonial exploitation, and the women were deemed enemies of the state. Surprisingly, they’re still demonized, all these years later, so Amilton photographed them in their homes, and gained access to some of the letters as well.

I think it’s a striking project, and look forward to seeing what he comes up with down there in the craziest state in the Union. (Keep f-cking that chicken, Florida.)

Jo Ann Chaus and I got along swimmingly. She’s a Jewish grandmother from Northern New Jersey, and we openly discussed how hard it can be to focus on a career in the arts, coming from that local culture. (I’m sure I wouldn’t be an artist today if my folks hadn’t left for Taos in the 90’s.)

Though I admit women of her generation doing self-portraiture-based projects is a bit trendy at the moment, (which I told her,) I found an honesty, and visual strength, in many of these pictures, and heartily encouraged her to continue, and push it even further.

Lisa M Robinson and I go way back, as she used to be married to my friend Ken. (Who featured in the ridiculous Marfa article series we published in 2012.)

Lisa, who’s represented by our friends Klompching Brooklyn, got a lot of traction years ago for her project, and Kehrer Verlag book “Snowbound.” They were lovely, meditative, large format images, which she followed up with a series about the sea.

Though I know she was not enamored of Tucson on first site, apparently she made her peace with the desert, because I think this new group of pictures, Terrestra, rocks. I saw it at the portfolio walk, and the prints, trimmed borderless, were the best I saw in NOLA. (The show is up at Klompching as we speak.)

All images © Lisa M. Robinson/Courtesy of Klompching Gallery, New York

We’ll end today with Rich Frishman, a funny guy who’s based in Washington. I was talking with Frish Brandt, the Director of the Fraenkel Gallery, who was my table-mate, when Rich walked up to my table, and she said he was her brother.

They both smiled, and I was totally sure they were spontaneously busting my balls. You know, two people who get in on the joke immediately, like improv performers.

But no, they insisted, her name Frish came from Frishman, the two hugged, and then she told me he should have been a better big brother when they were young. (He confirmed as much.)

In all my years reviewing, it was one of the most surreal little moments I’ve had. (Is there a book in that? All the craziest stuff I’ve seen at portfolio reviews? Probably not.)

Rich’s pictures are panoramic visions of Americana, shot across much of the country, and are meant to be printed very large, so people can dive into the details. The photos are obviously likable, and kitschy, but I told him the more visually compelling they were, the more people would engage with his vision.

©Rich Frishman
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

©Rich Frishman
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Allen’s Filling Station on US Route 66; Commerce, Oklahoma
©Rich Frishman
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

©Rich Frishman
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Total solar eclipse over McDonald’s; Baker City, Oregon
©Rich Frishman
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Midway Drive-In Theatre; Quitaque, Texas 2016
©Rich Frishman
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Segregation wall at Templin Saloon; Gonzales, Texas 2016
The wall was constructed in the early 20th Century and is decorated with an original pre-1929 Dr. Pepper logo.
At the time of its construction (circa 1906) only Caucasian customers were allowed to sit in the front of the saloon. All Hispanic, Latino and African-American customers had to sit behind the wall.
When the saloon was remodeled and re-opened in 2014 the wall, no longer used for its original purpose, was retained as a historical reminder.
©Rich Frishman
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Stark’s Sporting Goods in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin features an assortment of items, including boats, booze and bullets. One stop shopping American-style: shots of whiskey and shotguns.
©Rich Frishman
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

See you next week with more great photography. (If we don’t get nuked first…)

The Art of the Personal Project: Steven Laxton

- - Personal Project

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

Today’s featured artist: Steven Laxton

Steven Laxton Brings Voice to LGBT Refugees In New Show

American politics is on fire and moving at a blistering pace, it’s hard to pay attention to anything else. But for Steven Laxton, the moment that precipitated this chaos, the 2016 election, was a wake-up call to see the horrors happening on the other side of our borders. “I was very disgruntled and confused about the election and Trumpism and all the xenophobia and sexism and racism that transpired,” says Steven. “I realized that I rather than just post disgruntled posts on Facebook and go to a few rallies, I have a craft that can tell stories.” He started creating projects around immigration and came across Immigration Equality, the leading LGBTQ immigrant rights organization. Once he started hearing their stories, a whole new perception of what it means to be a refugee opened up for him and inspired his project “Free To Be Me,” on view at The LGBT Center in New York starting today.

“It occurred to me that I didn’t really think about this enough myself,” Steven explains. “When I think about refugees I think of people seeking political asylum or economic asylum or people fleeing from war zones. It’s not often you think about LGBTQ asylum but there’s over 70 countries in the world where it’s illegal to be gay basically. Some of the stories are horrendous so I realized this was something that was worthy of doing.” Steven sat down with a host of LGBTQ refugees to get their stories and act as a conduit for us to meet them, understand them, and recognize the injustice happening all over the world. Things aren’t perfect in the US, but they’re good enough that for many, the US is an escape and a step towards living a freer and fuller life.

It’s not just about facts and figures, as appalling as those are. It’s about the humanity behind those numbers and the absurd laws in other countries governing what is and what is not okay about being an LGBTQ person. “It’s important for people to know the stories and where they come from,” says Steven. “There’s one gentleman from Egypt who’s an architect. He went out on a date when he was younger with a guy, they just kissed, the cops saw him and he was locked in prison for three months only because he was a minor. If he had been older it would have been five years.” He was able to come to the US and build a new life here, a more honest life, and contribute to his new community here.

Check out Steven Laxton’s “Free to Be Me,” presented in cooperation with the LGBT Center and Immigration Equality, is on view starting November 14th and running through the end of the year.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

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

 

The Daily Promo – Julia Stotz

- - The Daily Promo

Julia Stotz

Who printed it?
The book was printed by Smartpress. I printed and bound the vellum cover myself onto the front of each book.

Who designed it?
The cover was designed by my friend, Joel, from This is Forest.

Tell me about the images?
I normally create a shoot specifically for my printed promos. But for this round, I wanted to show a range of food photos that were specific to my aesthetic style. I felt it was the right time to connect the dots from my studio work, to restaurant and chef portraits, to tabletop scenes. I wanted to express a tone, color palette, and voice within the contemporary world of popular food imagery that was my own.

How many did you make?
I made and sent out 120 promos. I’d rather mail less and spend more time on the overall package, then create something super quick to send to many. I think an email newsletter is better for that. I wanted these to specifically go to people who I’ve loved working with in the past, and to dream clients. Each promo ends up being such a labor of love, that hopefully, it goes to someone who will care to receive the object.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I try and send a printed promo out every year or two, and I send around 2 or 3 email promos as well. It’s such a science trying to figure out how many times people want to receive updates, and what feels like too many notifications amongst the sea of self-promotion.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I think printed promos are one of the few times a year that I get to see my work beautifully designed, printed, and bound together. So maybe I partly do it for myself to view my own growth, but I think it also creates a visual voice that’s very different than the way work is presented on a screen. I don’t think there needs to be a lot of printed work sent out annually since I know it can be wasteful, but hopefully, that one tactile piece better represents your personality and style to a client and they hold onto it for a while.

I personally love printed pieces, yet I know I receive them way less than any photo editor or art buyer does, so maybe the specialness gets lost. But it always feels like such a great mail day when I get a zine or book that you can see the love that was put into it. Not even the most extraordinary of emails will give me that same tactile effect.

When making anything printed that has multiple steps or people involved, without fail it always ends up taking longer than anticipated. So I always try and set goals in the beginning for when I want my promos to go out, but always add a lot of padding and understanding to that timeline. Anything worthwhile takes time and care. And I want the final creation to represent that.

The Daily Edit – Powder Magazine: Tal Roberts

- - The Daily Edit

Powder Magazine

Photography Director: David Reddick
Art Director: Tyler Hartlage
Photographer:
Tal Roberts

Heidi: Who were you photographing for this story?
Tal: I joined three siblings, McKenna, Axel, and Dylan Peterson who happen to all be amazing skiers for a road trip through Southern Idaho with a plan to ski some of the smaller ski hills where you can still get a lift ticket for under $50. I got the chance to do the assignment because I had lived in Sun Valley, Idaho for a long time and had been a regular contributor to Powder.

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Drive around to these smaller ski hills, get a feel for the area, ski with the locals, and show that you can still find great places to ski for under $50 in the age of the $100 plus lift tickets.

Tell us about the opening spread image, how did that come about?
That shot is from an early morning at Pebble Creek Ski Area. On the shot before this I had the skier make a turn really close to me, and because it was really cold the snow was spraying up really high and got all over the front of my lens. Since the sun was still really low I decided to leave the snow on the lens and try a backlit shot next which creates that aperture shape print on the image.

What is going on in the shot with the snow explosion, was that luck?
The snow exploding like that isn’t really luck. It’s a result of communication with the skier to know where and how they are going to make their turn and having a good idea of what the snow condition is like and how it will react. Where we did get lucky was with the light. On our first chairlift ride up the mountain lightning struck an electrical tower really close to the chairlift while we were on it and shut down power to the whole mountain for a few minutes. When the chair began to move again we had ski down and stay in the lodge for the next hour until the thunder and lightning passed. The wind blew the storm clouds away and when we got back on slope this was the first image we shot.

How many takes for the shot with the nice line and the basin down below?
Just one, but I shot it in high-speed continuous mode so I had a few to pick fro

How many days a year do you ski and do you deliberately ski/train to garner these types of shoots?
Counting days that I was shooting and days just riding for fun I think I was on snow around 40-45 days last season. That’s a bit lower than it used to be since I used to live in Sun Valley, Idaho 2 minutes from the chairlift and now I live in Portland, Oregon. I wouldn’t say I train directly for shoots like this, but I do work to stay fit as it helps out a ton when hiking and riding with a heavy camera pack on. I wouldn’t really look at this as training either, but I have done years and years of snowboarding and without that experience I wouldn’t really be able to keep up and navigate more difficult terrain that we often shoot on. For example, this week I have been in British Columbia on a heli-skiing shoot in pretty wild, remote terrain with some of the deepest snow I have ever ridden, which would be a major struggle without a bit of experience in the backcountry.

This Week in Photography Books: TBW Books Subscription Series No. 5

 

Taos is a famously spiritual place.

Our mountain is sacred, and considered one of the world’s energy vortices, if you believe that sort of thing.

So people around here are pretty open to seeing the hand of fate, rather than ascribing any and all oddities to coincidence and chance.

As such, last summer, I chose to take a different route home, which I never do, and drove past my former Kung Fu teacher, walking a dog with a little girl by his side. (I hadn’t seen him in years.)

Not believing it was a coincidence, I parked the car, walked across the street, and said “Hello.” It felt like a sign, so I decided to start studying again, and have been training now for nearly 5 months.

Wing Chun is not for everyone, but I’m enjoying myself immensely. It’s exercise, self-defense, and Buddhist/Daoist philosophy all rolled into one.

The downside, though I hadn’t really contemplated it, is that you can get hurt. Fighting, apparently, can lead to injuries. (Who knew?)

My left hand is strained at the moment, as I hurt it punching a bag a couple of weeks ago, and re-injured it during training last week. Typing right now hurts like hell, and I have to keep it to a minimum, so I can get better and drop 1200 words on you next week.

As such, I”m going to keep it short today. Like super-short. Shorter than DJT’s attention span. Shorter than the line at Chipotle. (You get the picture.)

But to counteract the effects of an abbreviated review, I’m going to show a 4 book set, called “Subscription Series No. 5,” put out last year by our friends at TBW Books in Oakland. (We hate the Warriors in my household, but love Oaktown.)

The series, overseen by Paul Schiek, features books by Mike Mandel, Susan Meiselas, Bill Burke, and Lee Friedlander. How’s that for a line-up?

Pretty badass.

Each grouping comes from the past, though Friedlander snuck a few contemporary images into his edit.

What do they have in common?

I’m not sure.

They’re all black and white, and show people in interesting subcultures: Santa Cruz boardwalk beach kids, Downtown NYC schoolgirls, Appalachian snake-handlers, and people with heads. (OK, “people with heads” is not a sub-culture, but I’m trying to tie a bow on this, so I can stop typing and ice my hand.)

The suite of books is really cool, and Mike Mandel even features images of cunnilingus behind a beach shack, which I have never, ever seen before. (And I won’t photograph here, as Rob likes to keep things SFW.)

Anyway, I’m out, and will be back next week with portfolios from Photo NOLA.

Have a good one, and if you’re going to punch a bag this week, make sure to use proper technique.

Bottom Line: Beautiful, slightly absurd book series by some masters

To purchase “Subscription Series No. 5,” click here

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

The Art of the Personal Project: Joe Pugliese

- - Personal Project

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

Today’s featured artist: Joe Pugliese

The long-running game show “The Price Is Right” shot at CBS Television City, is one of L.A. ‘s most durable icons. The more excited you can be as an audience member, the more outrageous your reactions and wacky your attire, the more likely you are to hear the legendary command to “Come on Down”

This is a series of personal projects that to be published in LA Mag, which is something I pitched them and they agrees. I have a grid of 9 images that run on the last page of the magazine each month called “Gatherings”, It’s up to me to shoot and provide the material, and there is very little editorial oversight from the mag, it’s really my project which is great.

I’m donating individual and family portrait sessions to raise money and awareness for The Pablove Foundation and their mission to invest in pediatric cancer research and improve the lives of children living with cancer. Sessions are still available at the link below. Come to the Valentine’s Celebration on February 11th for all kinds of art, crafts, food and fun for the whole family!

https://www.classy.org/events/-/e141923  https://www.pablove.org/truepablove/

To see more of this project, click here.

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

Pricing & Negotiating: Exterior and Aerial Architectural Images for Oil Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Exterior and aerial architectural photography of an oil refinery.

Licensing: Public display of 15 images in a corporate office.

Photographer: Architectural and landscape specialist.

Client: Large oil and gas company.

Here is the estimate:

pricing & negotiating, craig oppenheimer, exterior and aerial photography, oil refinery, architectural photography, industrial photography, estimating, shoot production

Creative/Licensing: The photographer had a longstanding relationship with an architectural firm who was working with the client to develop new office spaces, and they connected the photographer directly to the client to discuss the creation of artwork to fill the new space. They hoped to capture images of their oil refinery both from the ground and from above to showcase the scale of their complex in an artistic way. They were interested in 15 images, and after speaking with the photographer about different angles/shots, they anticipated needing two shoot days to accomplish the project. Based on conversations with the client, they intended to make use of the images in various ways, ranging from a large-scale display in the lobby to smaller-sized prints throughout the office.

Since a few of the images were going to be more prominently displayed than others, I developed a tiered pricing model starting at $2,500 for the first image, $1,000 each for images #2-4, $500 each for images #5-8, and $250 each for images #9-15. That brought me to $9,250, which I initially doubled considering the potential shelf life of the images. When pro-rated, that brought me close to $1,250/image, which I felt was a bit high, so I brought down to $1,000/image and an even $15,000 (breaking down to $7,500/day when viewed that way). Given the size of the client, it felt a bit light, but with expenses bringing our bottom line up near $25k, I felt this was appropriate based on other similar projects I’ve estimated.

Photographer Scout Day: Before shooting, the photographer would do a walkthrough of the location to determine the best angles and time of day to capture each shot.

Helicopter Rental: The photographer had previously rented helicopters for projects, and anticipated paying $450 per hour. Based on where the helicopter would take off/land, and the few shots that were needed, we included 2 hours and rounded up just a bit. Sometimes chartering a helicopter for this purpose requires the rental of special safety or stabilization equipment, however, it was not required in this instance.

Equipment: This included the photographer’s camera, backup body, and specialty lenses for two days.

Mileage, Parking, Meals, Misc.: I included $50/day for meals and $100/day for mileage and miscellaneous expenses that might arise.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This included the photographer’s time to transfer all of the images from the cards to his computer, review and batch color-correct the content, and prepare a web gallery for the client to choose from.

Retouching: I included two hours of retouching, based on a rate of $150/hour, for each of the 15 images.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.

Hindsight: Considering the size of the client and the lack of negotiation, I think we could have aimed higher on the creative/licensing fees. It can actually be reassuring when a bit of resistance is met, which lets me know when we’re at the top threshold of a budget range, but since there wasn’t any pushback, there may have been some room to charge more initially. That being said, considering the market and the limited usage, I still feel the fees were appropriate.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at 610.260.0200 or reach out. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

The Daily Edit – DestinAsian: Jeremy Samuelson

- - The Daily Edit

 

DestinAsian

Editor in Chief and Photo Director: Christopher Hill
Photographer:
Jeremy Sameulson


Heidi: Did you travel with the writer?
Jeremy: The writer did not join us but instead I traveled with my family, though not on the shoot of course.

 

Is the magazine both print and digital?
Yes

Are you familiar with Chiang Mai?
I lived in Chiang Mai for 4 years when my kids were younger, we took them there so they would have a bigger world view. We knew no one,  we just arrived with 2 suitcases apiece (2 kids and wife) and made it work. I would commute back and forth to the USA for shoots. I did do some magazine shoots while there and hence had a relationship with the magazine but really it was a place for personal work. The timing just happened to be right when they asked about my availability for the shoot, as I was planning a visit anyway.  We still have a small place there and are starting to spend time there again as my kids are off to college.

What inspired you about this shoot?
A
s you know magazine budgets are low (especially in SE Asia ) but stories like this are one of the reasons I became a photographer. It gives you an opportunity to meet people and places that you would otherwise never meet or see, especially in a foreign country.

Tell us about the color treatment in these images.
The color effect was done in camera with gels not in post and is a technique I’ve been playing with for awhile, it’s influenced by James Welling and his work at the Glass House.

Did you have any language barriers?
I used a Thai assistant for some of the shoots as my thai skills are not very good, it is a tonal language and quite hard to master. 
But these artists are working on the international level and were often quite english proficient. 

How did you integrate with the community while you were there?
While I lived there I had a column in a local expat magazine, Chiang Mai Citylife, called Ti Naa ( face, in english) 
where I did double page spread of portraits( large face shots done in my little studio) of  interesting Thai people. For example, Miss Chiang Mai ( beauty queen), local singers and artists, the head monk for all of Chiang Mai province. Below is a jewelry designer I photographed. Again it served as a way for me to meet people whose paths I would never cross,  especially there.

 

 

 

This Week in Photography Books: Naomi Harris

 

I haven’t been skiing yet this year.

Mostly because we don’t have any snow. As I’m writing this, the East Coast is under a blizzard watch, and the American South just got more snow in a day than we’ve had in a month.

But I’m not going on a Climate Change rant today.

Rather, I’m moping because I miss flying down the white mountain while the snow falls all around me. It’s magical, standing on top of a white peak, frozen conifers dotting the landscape.

I’ve been skiing in Taos Ski Valley since I was 14, and now I’m 43, so the place is like a second home. Furthermore, one of my wife’s good friends is a Blake, the family that owned the resort for 60 years, so that always made it more special.

Though Taos is famous for our adobe-style architecture, most of the buildings in TSV were designed in a Swiss Alpine style, and feature European names like the Edelweiss, or the Bavarian.

And there are trails named after the men who engineered a failed coup against Adolph Hitler, for crying out loud. (Stauffenberg, Fabian, Oster, Tresckow)

To be clear, Taos Ski Valley sits on land once “owned” by the Taos Pueblo Native Americans, which was then appropriated by colonists from the Spanish Empire, before being taken as war spoils by the United States in the 19th Century.

So where does the Euro-centric architecture/culture come from?

Well, Ernie Blake, the founder, came to America as Ernie Bloch. He was a Swiss German Jew who left Europe, founded a little ski area at the edge of the world, yet still wanted to create an atmosphere like home.

Pretty weird, right?

Well, yes and no.

Because all of contemporary America was founded by European expats who came over here to begin again, and brought their culture with them. (To be clear, I’ve written many words over the years about the exception that is African-American history, but we’re not going there today.)

If you drive through parts of Texas, you see signs advertising kolaches, a Czech snack food that is fairly far from home. Why? Because it was mostly Czech and German immigrants who beat back the Comanche in the 19th Century.

We all know there are a shit-ton of Scandinavians in Minnesota, Polish-Americans in Chicago, Irish in Boston, French descendants in Louisiana, and so on.

There are weird-ass European town names that pop up all over America, including places like Brooklyn, which has become synonymous with American cool. (Or obnoxious, bearded hipsters, depending on your POV.)

How could it be otherwise, when an entire Continent has been populated with riffraff from elsewhere?

That much I understand.

But what about the other way around? Are there places in Europe that are obsessed with America, even though our histories officially diverged around the time of the Boston Tea Party?

I’m glad you asked.

Because I just put down “EUSA,” a fun, new book by Naomi Harris, recently published by Kehrer Verlag in Germany, so I feel pretty qualified to answer your question.

To begin with, I believe Naomi Harris is Canadian, so the entire premise of a book looking at the overlap between America and Europe begins with a touch of absurdity. Thankfully, it meshes perfectly with the vibe of the book, and the style of the images, so don’t bother with this one if you lack a sense of humor.

The last few weeks, I’ve discussed how certain books utilize the cover to generate interest. This is no different. As the below picture attests, this cover is made from the sort of plasticy-rubbery composite that makes one think of travel guide books of old, or maybe textbooks you might have bought in college.

The title is also built out of smaller versions of itself, which I had to squint to understand, upon first viewing, thereby grabbing my attention further.

Inside, we’re met with a well-written explanatory essay, by the artist, laying out the parameters of the project. Ms. Harris visited tourist-type-places in the US that honor the heritage of the local founding culture, but also spots in Europe that display a fascination with American culture.

Mostly the Wild West.

You know, like, where I live.

The short version of my opinion is that it’s a cool, smart, funny project, and the images are really well made. (There are also more than a few images of scantily clad ladies, so there’s a slightly sexed-up energy as well.) As Gen X is famous for its embrace of irony, I can only imagine that Ms. Harris is no Millennial, but I’m too classy to Google her birthday and out her age.

The long version is that I think the book is flawed, which is OK, because it’s clearly reaching out towards some edge, without knowing exactly where it is.

The idea that global culture, in particular urban culture, is becoming homogenized is nothing new. We’ve heard plenty about it, and the rebellion against globalized culture struck fiercely in 2016-17, giving us Brexit, Trump, and the incessant use of the word “cuck.”

(Seriously though, I’m willing to bet that EVERY guy who uses the word “cuck” on Twitter hasn’t gotten laid in at least 5 years.)

So by giving us a visual mashup, and intentionally creating images that force you to look hard, trying to surmise which Continent you’re seeing, the book takes its place on the frontline of cultural exploration, here in 2018.

My problems come more from the book’s structure. Frankly, I think there are too many images, and it’s been slightly over-designed. It’s not that some images are of a lesser quality, rather I question whether this many are necessary to make the point, or present a cohesive vision?

Sometimes, less is more.

Secondly, the book is regularly interrupted by an email exchange, printed sideways on vellum paper, between two art world insiders: Erik Kessels of Holland, and Carolina Miranda of LA.

Yes, I knew who they were without having to look it up, but at this point, I’m something of an insider myself, I suppose. (Though I’ll carry my rebellious streak until I die.)

But most readers, outside our small circle, would not know such things. The interviews are witty and interesting enough, but lacking context, and showing up randomly, they take me out of the narrative a bit, and I question whether it’s an effective technique.

(Again, edgy projects take risks, so I’m not trashing her for doing so, just wondering if it’s as successful as hoped.)

At the end of the book, there is a bit of explanation as to who the two writers are, emailing each other across the ocean. (He’s an artist and ad man in Amsterdam, she’s a cultural critic for the LA Times.) So the editorial team understood context was necessary.

I just think they put it in the wrong place. (I suppose I’m quibbling, but that is a part of the job.)

Overall, I think it’s a smart, cool project, with many compelling images within. The irony works well, the saturated colors refer to digital reality, and the sum total presents a world in which we can be fascinated by the Other, rather than simply afraid.

That’s a message that bears repeating in these tumultuous times.

Bottom Line: Very cool book about the intersection between the Old and New worlds.

To purchase “EUSA” click here

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

The Art of the Personal Project: Raphael Olivier

- - Personal Project

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

Today’s featured artist: Raphael Olivier – I found his project on Reddit

Ordos, Inner Mongolia, is well known as the largest Chinese “ghost town”. Located in a province rich with natural resources (coal, gas, rare earth metals), the local government decided to invest heavily in the late 90’s / early 20’s to develop a new city which would become the pride of the country: a futuristic vision of a cultural, economic and political center boasting state-of-the-art infrastructure and real estate. However, following the classic Chinese tradition of building fast and cheap, without any urban planning or long term vision, the city quickly became a spectacular failure. The prices of property being much too high discouraged potential buyers so the only people who actually moved in were local government officials and migrant workers who could earn more here thanks to a special “relocation bonus”. As a result the city is now a surreal landscape of empty streets, decaying monuments, abandoned buildings and half-finished housing projects. It is more than anywhere the symbol of the Chinese Dream with all its challenges and contradictions, an Orwellian vision of a bright future caught up by a less flamboyant reality.

Copyright: Raphael Olivier

To see more of this project click here

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

 

The Daily Edit – The Big Life: Nick Kelley

- - The Daily Edit

Big Life


Editor: Ryan Waterfield
Creative Director: Britt Johnson
Photographer:
Nick Kelley


Heidi: How did the story come about since it was a collection of stock images?
Nick: Big Life, a magazine based in Sun Valley, Idaho, reached out as they were hoping to do a feature on my longtime girlfriend, Maddie Brenneman, who is a fly fishing guide in Colorado. As a photographer, and after 12 years together, I have quite a large archive of Maddie images. I’ve shot her for some commercial projects over the years but I’m also always taking pictures during our travels, which are more often than not focused on fishing.

As opposed to doing a concentrated, one-time shoot, I think Ryan Waterfield (Editor) and Britt Johnson (Creative Director) of Big Life liked the idea of having images of Maddie from all over the world—especially since the photos already existed.

Did you submit a wide edit to the magazine or did you pitch this as a package?
The creative director, Britt, had actually flagged a few images from Maddie’s instagram and my website that she was interested in running and we went back and forth a bit from there. In the end, I think we were working from a selection of about 20 images that they made their final selection from.

Are you always shooting stock with these projects in mind?
When I’m shooting outdoor activities, I certainly make an effort to shoot with brands and future usage in mind. Outdoor brands seem to always be looking for imagery of their latest gear in the field and they often want several options, angles, and setups based on where and when the images are being used. Maddie also has a handful of sponsors through her large following on Instagram and work as a guide, so I know some of those companies are always looking for images of her using their gear.

Was this all done during one trip with your girlfriend?
No, the images that made the final cut were a mixture of images from Argentina, Colorado, and New Zealand.

 

This Week in Photography Books: Corinne Vionnet

 

Well, 2017, it’s time for you to go.

Sure, we had some memories.
You were nothing if not dramatic.

You’ve given us natural disasters aplenty, (Harvey/Irma/Maria) political intrigue so unwieldy it could choke a coked-up giraffe, and now, apparently, you’ve frozen the entire Eastern half of the United States.

But as I made my 2017 jokes a few weeks ago, I’ll spare you here. Rather, I’ll settle into that other tried and tested trope: the New Year’s resolution.

Next year, I plan to spend less time looking at screens than I did in 2017.

And I hope you do too.

It’s shocking, how much of my day is spent staring at a screen. Unlike many of you, I’m no phone junkie. But between my laptop and my television, I clock hours and hours each day in a mediated existence.

I’ve been fighting back lately, having replaced some social media time with a hike up the hill each day, as I previously told you. (Such genius! The daily walk. Perhaps I’ve invented something new?)

In general, though, I’m as much a screen-freak as anyone.

Sometimes, if I’m lying in bed watching Netflix on the computer, I’ll look above the screen, to the mountains outside my window, and then pause the show for a moment, and close the laptop.

Something innate in me recognizes the need to see what’s before me, what’s real, rather than the entertainment I’ve jacked into through the Matrix.

And then I’ll raise the screen again and press play, leaving contemplation of nature for another day. (Or art, food, cars, music, books: there are so many treats in the analog world.)

So I’m planning to give myself a screen-free-day over the next few weeks. There will be piles of books and magazines. Lots of food to cook, and kung fu to practice. (I started studying again this year, as 2017 has not been all bad, just insane.)

Will I follow through?
Would you try it yourself?
No screens for a day?

I’m in mind of the question, having just put down “ME. Here Now,” a new book by Corinne Vionnet, recently published by Fall Line Press in Atlanta.

The book was hand-delivered at a cafe here in Taos, as one of the Fall Line crew was vacationing in town, so we met for coffee. My desire to review books by female artists is hopefully well-known by now, so I told Virginie I could review this one after looking at 3 pages.

That’s all it took.

Because it brought me back to the 2011-16 photo-eye years, when I used to regularly get my hands on weird, smart, well-produced, small-batch art books.

For years, I saw that shit all the time, so you did too.

These days, though, my submissions tend towards serious, social documentary books, for the most part. (Not that this one isn’t serious.) But it’s edgy, and strange, which I love.

I think it took me until the third photo to realize I was looking at pictures of people taking pictures with their cell phones, and that the images in the book were likely shot on/from/of computer screens.

But with each passing page, in the midst of the consistency, the weird hand positions made me question whether it was real. What is real, these days, anyway?

Were there digital manipulations?
Why did everyone hold their phones up to their eyes?
Who does that?

Then there’s a block of images, breaking up the narrative, which shows a ghostly black and gray mirage, sandwiching a beautiful European building.

After that, back to the creepy phone photographers.

What to make of it all?

Well, it’s disturbing and dystopic, while also suggesting that elements are “documentary,” or un-manipulated, if you will.

But a good book asks good questions, and then doesn’t leave you hanging. So just as I was scratching my head, I turned the page, and there was an explanatory essay by noted photography critic and theorist Marvin Heiferman.

That’s the publishing equivalent of saying, “What, you have questions about comedy? Why, here’s Jerry Seinfeld to satisfy all your curiosity. You’re welcome!”

It’s established directly that Ms. Vionnet is photographing tourists at Sacré-Coeur, the beautiful cathedral at the highest point in Paris. (Photographing up explains the subjects’ repeated camera positions.)

Though it’s a great essay, pictures like this don’t need words to explain why they’re unsettling. We all know our lives are moderated by machines, more and more, with each passing year.

This is indisputable.

It’s gotten to the point that people mainly communicate via the machines, and not IRL. (You know, in the same room, through sound waves emanating from one’s vocal cords.)

So perhaps we should all adopt the resolution in 2018 to moderate the impulse?

And go for a walk each day, when possible.

Bottom Line: Seductive, creepy, excellent art book about our virtual reality

To purchase “ME. Here Now.” click here

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

This Week in Photography Books: Orestes Gonzalez

 

I don’t know from Miami.

I may have had lunch there with my grandmother and her husband, driven in an 80’s Cadillac, but if so, I was just a kid at the time.

I’ve heard all the Florida jokes, and told a few myself. My cousin, the comedian Ken Krantz, has made me LOL on Twitter several times, with Florida as the butt of his humor.

But Miami has a different reputation.

It’s less about the con men, and the illiterate meth-dealing hookers, and more about glitz, glamour, and a stylish, Pan-Latino global elite.

Even so, I’m not sure most people would say they have a positive impression of Miami’s culture, and likely know little of the Cuban community at its heart.

(True story, when I pitched Miami as a potential vacation destination, my wife said, “No, I don’t think I’d like the people there.” I said, “But you’ve never been there.” She replied, “Yeah, just from everything I’ve ever read or seen on TV.”)

I told her that it was probably just a stereotype, but then again, I don’t know for sure. Because as I said at the beginning, I know jack squat about Miami.

I can tell you one thing, though.

If I had gotten to party at Uncle Julio’s house, back in the day, I can state with high confidence that I’d be a Miami lover for life.

But who is Uncle Julio?

It’s a fair question.

I’ve just put down the stellar “Julio’s House,” a new book by Orestes Gonzalez, recently published by Kris Graves Projects. I don’t do the best-of, end-of-year lists myself, and don’t read other people’s either, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this one ended up on some of them.

I know that no one, except for Rob and me, has read all of my columns. (I know I have. How about you, Rob?) But seriously, over a now 6+ year weekly column, themes emerge about what I think a good photobook should do.

I appreciate it when a book chooses to inform the viewer at the proper pace for the story. Meaning, don’t hide things I should know, and don’t tell me things I can easily discover for myself.

“Julio’s House” entices from the outset, with a great blue cover. Then we see a funky graphic page, which turns up later as wallpaper. (But we’ll get to that.)

The book opens with one sentence of text on a white page, and a photo opposite. Flip the page, and then you get two more sentences.

In short order, as a viewer, we know what we need to know, and yet we’re curious, and empathetic, wanting to know more. The book builds upon that, teasing out details with short, compelling bursts of text, mixed with historical photos and Polaroids. (I like Roula Seikaly’s summation essay at the end as well.)

We learn Julio left Cuba after the revolution, (he’d been working on a cruise ship,) and got a job in a hotel in Miami. And then all of a sudden, as the story is heading in one direction, they drop a little narrative bomb in the middle.

We turn the page, and see the first interior from what we can reasonably guess to be Julio’s house.

OMG.

The wallpaper from earlier shows up, along with some green carpet, and a style I can best describe as garish.

Like Liberace-level-gay interior design.

There are a few more pictures in this style, and they’re very well done. Really sharp, good light.

They’re ironic, and kitschy, but they also don’t feel mean. That’s a tight rope to walk.

The text starts to tell stories about parties, back in the day, and you’re just wondering, was Uncle Julio in the closet? Or was he out, even then? What must that have been like, in a culture famous for machismo.

Then, we get a series of Polaroids of gay men, with mustaches. Are they former lovers of Julio? Seriously, I’m into this, like a telenovela or something.

It’s reeling me in.

Sure enough, a few pages later, there it is.
“Julio was gay, and his flamboyant lifestyle clashed with the macho Cuban environment of the times.”

It’s like the book stimulates questions, gets you engaged, and then answers those questions at just the right time.

A lot of thought goes into something like this.

That I like the pictures, and think they’re very well done, only makes it better. There’s a perfect blend of the past and the present. The first person narration throughout works so well, and there’s never more text than there needs to be.

By the time we get to what I assume is a portrait of an elderly Julio, near the bouquet in his house, I’m feeling genuinely sorry to know he passed away.

And remember, we learned that in a one-sentence intro on page 1.

This is an excellent book, and like last week’s offering, I’m glad I picked it up off the stack when I did. Because it’s one more reminder of how great it is to live in a society where people of all faiths, nationalities, genders and sexual orientations are allowed to be themselves. (Insert appropriate Alabama joke here.)

Sure, it’s easy to think things are terrible, with you-know-who in charge, but this book affirms that as a younger gay man, Orestes doesn’t face the same challenges his Uncle did.

And we’re living in a world where books like this get made, and rightly celebrated, by a free press.

So maybe things aren’t all bad in 2017?

Bottom Line: Poignant, well-considered, excellent story about a gay Cuban icon

To purchase “Julio’s House,” click here

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

The Art of the Personal Project: Brinson + Banks

- - Personal Project

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

Today’s featured artist: Brinson + Banks

LA Woman celebrates female Angelenos in creative fields. We collaborate with each woman in her home in an attempt to create art together, reflecting an unguarded side of herself, and of ourselves in the process. We interview each woman to delve deeper into her creative pursuits, which often run much deeper and wider than the craft that pays the bills. Each subject recommends the next, splintering and expanding further beyond our sphere. According to the Guerrilla Girls, “Less than 4% of the artists in the Modern Art section of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are women,” and we want to be part of the movement that applauds and supports talented women. We are more than two dozen women in now and don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

To see more of this project, click here.

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

The Daily Edit – Bon Appétit: Dominique Lafond

- - The Daily Edit

Bon Appetit

Photo Director: Alex Pollack 
Photo Editor: Elizabeth Jaime
Photographer: Dominique Lafond

 

 

Heidi: How many days did you have to shoot this project?
Dominique: The magazine gave me the assignment a few weeks in advance so I could schedule the restaurant visits to my liking. I really wanted to take my time on this one: Montréal is my city, I already knew most of the restaurateurs and LOVE their restaurants. It was important to me that the photos showed them in the best light possible, I didn’t want to rush anything.
It took me 8 days to complete my visits. Shoots in restaurants need to be carefully scheduled when you have to shoot dishes: you don’t want to bother any clients so you have to arrange to shoot the food when the place is empty. I then stayed longer to capture the restaurants in action.

What specific direction did you get from the magazine?
Bon Appétit gave me a list of 12 restaurants + dishes to shoot in every place. I also had to shoot busy interiors, details, etc. They already knew I would give them a lot of choices since we had worked together before (I sent them about 600 photos for this shoot). I also had to be careful about the season: the shoots took place in September and the story was coming out in winter.
The exterior shoots (ice skating) were taken last winter.

How much directing are you doing during the shoots?
The directing only happens on the food shots when I have time to decide where every element will go.
There’s no directing on the people shots: I only ask them to continue about their business as if I wasn’t there. I’m also very careful not to disturb any client and work very discreetly.

Are you turning in all your edits with captions?
The magazine only asks the captions for the photos they take to be published.

How did the magazine find you, did you send them promos?
I have been a Bon Appétit collaborator for about 8 years now. They found me when they were looking for a photographer in Montréal. We have worked together a few times over the years, always on shots where I had to capture food and the spirit on the places/restaurants.

Did you submit black&white and color?
I always like to mix color and b&w photos in projects so I included a few b&w options when I sent the selection. I’m very happy they kept the idea and used both in the article!