The Daily Edit – Douglas Busch

- - The Daily Edit

I had the good fortune of sitting down with legendary creative Douglas Busch who has an inspirational punch list of achievements. Doug is well known for his large BW photographic work shot with a cameras he designed and built under de Golden Busch banner : the finale being the world’s largest portable camera, “The SuperLarge™.” His photographic Silver Chloride and Amidol contact print work ranges from 8×10 to 40×60 presenting an imperfect world with the most graceful and honest eye. He still mixes his own chemistry from the 1900’s.

 

buschdesign.com His architecture firm
phLiving.us  The healthiest housing system in the world, created for the Multiple Chemically Sensitivity
deGoldenBusch.com My cameras and lenses
Superlarge.com photography
 

 

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Little Rocky Glenn, PA 1982

You were an assistant to Al Weber, Morley Baer, and Ansel Adams, looking back what their biggest impact on you as a creative?
Al Weber taught me the basics from the Zone System, exposing film to the finished mounted photograph. Ansel taught me to see the beauty in all things, and Morley taught me about architectural photography and equipment. Al also taught me how to be a descent human being; to give all you have to help and teach people.

While working with those three you had developed a patent for a print washer only using a cup of water an hour, tell us about that.
This was the beginning of my concern for preserving and not wasting water. The planet will run out of water if we continue down the path we are on.

How much of a catalyst was The Mono Lake project for your sustainability work? I know the book was celebrated with a grand exhibition in 1979 that shared awareness about the water diversions to LA.
I saw that Mono Lake was being drained by LA, and I saw an opportunity to have an impact as a water advocate, a photographer and then later in my life as an architect Designer. Mono Lake lead me down the path to sustainability, healthy housing and draught tolerant landscaping. I am now working on a self watering vertical hydroponic herb and vegetable growing system for the home; www.theFarminaBox.com

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Your architecture firm recently presented a solar panel project to Malibu City Council which would be the first artful construction of a functional and sustainable building, is that right?
 Yes, the project has a promising outlook to convert ugly solar into ART. The design and structural skeleton for these very cool new panels from Switzerland seem to oscillate as you move past the building and then curve up like a wave and turn into awnings for the windows giving the feeling of the rolling movement of the waves because the panels are tilted up at various angles to create a wave-like effect. The panels seem to move like the rhythm of the ocean.  This is as much an ART piece as it is a functional net zero building. This approach to Solar has never been done before…ART and solar functionality…net zero.

How did this idea develop?
 I’ve been in several meeting in that building and noticed the windows were hot to the touch, about 120 degrees and most offices had their blinds drawn to avoid the heat. This seemed like a great opportunity for Malibu to be a maverick in sustainability and forward thinking architectural design. “Malibu” as a brand has always tried to stay in the forefront of a wonderful living environment for their population while protecting the ocean and land. The hope being, Schools and other communities would come to see it as a work of art producing power, and protecting the environment choosing to go down an aesthetic path rather than most solar panel projects which are incredibly ugly and a blight on the environment. The solar system will reduce air conditioning costs and energy usage by protecting the façade from the heat of the sun. It will also be an educational tool for students to participate and see how the futurecan and should be for them through monitors showing the production and use of the sun’s power by us (including waste and vampire energy consumption).

One of the many things that stood out for me was the clarity and remarkable detail of just your proofs for the Zuma and Dark Zuma personal photographic project.  Are you using one of your own SuperLarge™ lenses?
I shoot everything from 35mm to 12×20. This project has been going on for years. I started with the “Silent Waves” in the early 2000’s.  Then in the last several years photographing Zuma as I walk my dogs on Zuma/Broad Beach.

 Silent Waves Project

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At some point you mentioned losing your visual eye and gravitated towards architecture, sustainability, healthy detoxing housing, and organic vertical gardening. What’s your best advice for anyone who feels they are in that same position?

I was making the same photographs. Different subjects but the same metaphor. I moved to Malibu to push my vision going from black and white contact prints to Color. The Silent Waves series has been shown and sold all over the world. They are the complete opposite of my prior 35 years of work. Color and a purposeful lack of detail, a 180 degree turn, just color as emotion. It did free up the vision but on my terms not what is popular and/or hip. I still tend to photograph very subtle images, not beat the viewer over the head; bringing them into a more intimate serene place.

You have an interesting idea for the printing of this book, tell us about it.
The idea for Zuma and Dark Zuma is to have some of the images in color, and then some of them in black and white using a blue filter. They take on an abstract nature when shot in black and white and become wonderful organic solitary personal images.

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What’s the difference between your eye for photography and your eye for 3D architectural or sculptural work?
With photography you making decisions about what to include in the frame and what not to include in the frame, it’s all right there for you, with architecture and 3D design, it’s all begins visually in your head, goes to paper, then is built. It is a very rewarding process. Add in the sustainable net zero and detoxing healthy elements it is the way the future housing should be for all.

Is it hard to edit you own work?
Well there’s the editing part and then the sequencing. I like to put my work up on a wall and begin to make my selects, walking by daily and removing images as they no longer affect me emotionally. My friend Sally Mann says it best,  “location, location, location” in Real Estate holds the same meaning in photography– edit edit, edit. I also have some curators who often assist me in my editing and see other paths the imagery can go. Once I finish that process I may revisit some of the images I’ve pulled out simply to bridging images in a sequence for a show or book.

How hard is it for you to divide your eye between observational architectural work and fine art?
It’s fairly easy because I’m looking at things differently. My own design work calls on my architectural skills looking at details, traffic patterns, space volumns, and structure. Did I mention DETAILS. It’s invisioned as a holistic space and then I deconstruct it to every detail and then reassemble it, while the fine art is more of an expression of daily life and the found environment and the feelings that are aroused when I feel the place .

car & pepsi machine

 

Car & Pepsi Machine 1986

imperial highway

 

Imperial Highway 1993

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Propane Tank 1987

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Rick Knight & Fenced in Kids, 1985

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Denver I love  you this much 1986

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Black Forest 1981

Your book “In Plain Sight” is a wonderful early career retrospective of your work and exquisitely printed with a Japanese linen embossed cover, tri-tone printing and a dull and gloss varnish.
Yes. The book was designed by the talented book designer, Bill Sosin in Chicago and won the “Best book of the year from a small publisher” and each image had a gloss varnish in the blacks, along with a dull varnish surrounding the image which gives the white separation from the page. The images hold their integrity down to the finest detail.

One of the many wonderful things about my chats with Douglas is his true sincerity and his quite creative force that shines but never boasts; he simply shares what’s right in front of all us through his talented eye. His new book could include a collaboration with an lovely 87 years young female poet whose never expressed herself via images before. His architecture project is moving forward to next level meetings and hopefully will be approved by next month.

The Daily Promo: Stephen Kent Johnson

- - The Daily Promo

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Stephen Kent Johnson


Who printed it?

It was printed by Mirror NYC

Who designed it?
I designed it.

Who edited the images?
I edited the images, I tried to find an image that was interesting enough to make the inspiration boards of the people I want to shoot with.

How many did you make?
500.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is actually the first printed promo I’ve ever sent out. I was an art director in a former life and used to get a lot of promos in the mail, I found you can’t avoid looking at a postcard, there’s nothing to open.

Where did you source the mushrooms?
The mushrooms are all from Provincetown, MA. My boyfriend and I were up there one weekend this fall and they were everywhere! We’d been up there the year before around the same time and were dazzled by the mushrooms then. I brought my camera this year and my crossed fingers that they would be out again because I knew I wanted to get some shots of them. We went out one afternoon in forest and the sand dunes and brought a basket and loaded it up with the mushrooms, then brought it back to the house and I just played for a few hours with different compositions. I like the more organic shots too, but there was something nice about the old school instructional chart feeling of the dark background and all the little guys lined up in rows. After I was done we put them out on the front stoop in a row, and the people walking by liked looking at them.

Did you prepare any of the mushrooms?
No, we did not eat any of them.

Russell Lord NOMA Curator of Photographs Interview – Part 2

- - Art

Jonathan Blaustein: We could talk forever, as there are so many things I want to ask. But I want to hit some of the cogent points of your experience, and then work our way to NOMA.

You alluded to the fact that you did four years at Yale, and it was seminal, and you must have been good at your job because they gave you more and more responsibility the longer you were there. So then, I see that you were the Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I will put my nerd credentials on the table and say that museum is my favorite public space on god’s earth. The first time I heard that about you, I got googly eyes, for sure. “Oh My God, he worked at the Met!”

Russell Lord: (laughing.)

JB: What does it mean to be a fellow? Does that mean your job had a limited scope, or time horizon? What was that phase like for you, in addition to those specific logistical questions?

RL: The fellows program at the Met has two categories: pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellows. You apply when you are working on a dissertation, and ostensibly the Met pays you a lump sum of money to continue doing research, using their resources to do that research.

In order to be awarded a fellowship, it behooves you to be working on a topic that their collections are rich in, or have some effect on.

JB: Right.

RL: They have a lot of really early photography material that I was interested in looking at. But perhaps even more importantly, they have this incredible History of Photography library. They have a copy of Daguerre’s manual, for example. I think they might even have an early copy of Talbot’s treatise, the one that I just described.

That’s why I was awarded the fellowship. It is a fixed duration position, for one year, and I got renewed for a second. Partly because I found, when I got there, that there was even more to learn from than I had ever anticipated. So I applied for the renewal, and received an extension.

JB: They brought you there as a scholar, basically?

RL: Yes. You were assigned to a home department, but I think if you say, “I want to work with the photography department,” they will bring someone from the photography department to evaluate your application. I had done research at the Met on other occasions, and I knew there was a lot there, so I made sure I listed specific things that I was interested in looking at.

Ultimately, when you get there, you might help out in the department from time to time, but you are there to work on your project. True to the rest of my career, I took on a lot more than that. I did get some amazing research done on my dissertation, and some writing too. I presented two chapters from my dissertation, one each year, in their fellow’s colloquium, that they put together.

There are about 50 fellows, spread throughout the Museum, on average, during any given year.

JB: OK.

RL: But then, I also had the chance to work as the assistant curator on the “Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand” exhibition with Malcolm Daniel, who was the head of the department at the time.

JB: And he’s now at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

RL: Right. He was a wonderful mentor. He had this project on the books when I arrived, but I came fresh from working with Hans Kraus, where I had helped present a re-creation of Alfred Stieglitz’s “Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession,” from 1905 and ’06, at the Winter Antiques Fair.

With Hans, for the gallery, we had the chance to produce as accurate a reproduction of the space as we could come up with. Down to having light fixtures fabricated, to replicate the ones that Edward Steichen had ordered, back in the day, for the gallery. So I was very familiar with that period of time, I had always been interested in Stieglitz and Steichen’s work, and when I arrived and Malcolm had this show, he thought I’d be the perfect person able to help out on the project.

So I did, and we had a great time working with a selection of some of the greatest masterpieces, from the Early 20th Century, that exist anywhere. In some cases, with Steichen’s and Strand’s work, they are one of two or three known prints of those images.

They’re incredibly rare things, so to have the opportunity to work with those is excellent.

JB: You were there, you were already getting paid, by a different department, and you made yourself available. Is that a part of how you’ve made the career that you have, by looking for additional opportunities? And maybe taking on more than your average bear, to build up your strengths, and see what you can create for yourself?

Or am I reaching here?

RL: No, I think that’s certainly true. I have to credit the people I’ve worked with for being incredibly generous with great things, and placing a lot of faith in my abilities to not screw them up, and to keep them great.

But I definitely have always jumped at chances to work with either great artists, or great mentors, or great individuals. I feel like I’ve been given a very high number of those opportunities, and have eagerly accepted them when possible.

JB: Well, it helps explain the glorious resume. But before we jump away, I just had one more quick question on this topic, as far as the fellowship goes, with respect to research and scholarship.

Do you think I may be able to sell anybody there on a fellowship about the impacts of marijuana on human consciousness, while hanging out in the Temple of Dendur?

RL: (laughing.) I think that it would be probably one of the most exciting proposals that they’ve read in a long time. Even if you achieve nothing more than to entertain the selection committee, it might be worth the proposal.

JB: Well, I’ll have to hit you up later for the specific PO Box.

RL: I’ll send you a link.

JB: It’s a city block, that building, so I’ll need to get it to the right office. Just to be clear, I’m not claiming to have ever done that, but I love the Temple of Dendur. And. obviously, you can only study it there…

RL: We can only imagine the wonderful advances that would come out of such an experiment.

JB: So much of what you’re trying to do in your scholarship is imagine the state of mind of somebody who lived almost 200 years ago.

It’s like you’re having conversations with the past. In my own mind, I imagine that you’ve created little personalities for these people, and have your own sense of who they were.

RL: Absolutely. One of the stories I like to tell is about Larry Schaaff, who is the great Talbot historian and scholar. He’s written many books and articles of infinite number, about Talbot and his work.

After years of devoting his life to Talbot, he has said, on more than one occasion something like, “I so respect what Talbot did, but I don’t think I would have liked him very much as a person.” Sir John Herschel, he thinks, would have been one of the most amazing people to sit down with.

And it’s true. Once you do get to know these figures and their work, and you read their writing, you learn things as personal as who they sued. Who tried to infringe upon their patent? How they responded publicly?

You do get a sense of whether they were mean, litigious, gracious, generous. And those things do start to form real people. And I think when you can get to that level, that’s really exciting.

I will hasten to add that it is all still a matter of conjecture, and opinion, in many ways. And we try to make that as informed as it can be. That’s the challenge. How close to that can you get?

JB: We’re building towards how you get tapped to lead a program into the 21st Century, at a major art museum in a major American city, at the age of, I’m guessing, 35? I know it was close to that.

RL: I think I was actually 34 when I started here.

JB: 34. There we go. I’m a journalist in this guise, so we’ll say, for the record, it was 34.

You worked at some world-class institutions, you studied at a super-high level, you got to understand the consciousness of the historical figures who built the medium in the 19th Century, and then at Yale, you got to work personally with Lions of the 20th Century: Emmet Gowin, Lewis Baltz, and Robert Adams.

Yet you seem grounded. You didn’t have a massive ego in your job interview down there in New Orleans? You managed to keep it in check?

RL: You know, there’s something interesting to being in an interview process when it is a matter of necessity, that you get a job. That was the case for me.

I had spent my time at the Met, and it was a fixed duration position, as we’d discussed. It was time for me to get something more permanent.

I couldn’t take out more student loans. I didn’t want to. It wasn’t a good idea. I needed to support myself, and my wife and I cast a pretty wide net. Strangely, there were a fair number of curatorial positions available that year, and I was particularly excited about this one because of the depth of the permanent collection, and because of where it was.

This is a very interesting, interesting place, and I was excited about the possibility of being here. I don’t remember much of the interview, because I remember just knowing that I needed to get this job.

I remember describing how one of the things that I really liked about potentially working here was that a lot of the issues that I think are in tight focus in New Orleans, and are locally specific, are globally significant.

Race. Religion. Our relationship with the natural world. All of those things are played out in a very prominent way, on a daily basis, here in New Orleans.

JB: Right.

RL: I was thinking about how the local could be the global.

JB: There aren’t many cities, almost anywhere, of that size,
that punch above their weight, to that degree. Both in cultural prowess, and global recognition, I would say.

RL: I think you’re right. A lot of people around the world know this place, for good and bad reasons. But it’s a place that people pay attention to, and root for, in many ways.

It has an amazing history, which has been driven in large part by culture. It is the city’s export. So many wonderful photographers have come through here in the 19th, 20th, and 21st Centuries, and a lot of those photographers have ended up in our permanent collection.

Every day I’m surprised at what I find. It’s really a world-class collection, and I’m very lucky to be here to work with it.

JB: You mentioned the collection, and of course a big part of your job is caring for it, in addition to enlarging it. I read on NOMA’s website that the collection was started in 1970, which is apparently before many other institutions began collecting photography.

A statement like that reads dry on the screen, but as we both know, it’s always about people and agendas and money. I was curious, who got the idea? Who was the person who said, “As of now, I want to start buying photographic prints and donating them to the museum.” Or was the genesis inside the institution?

RL: It was John Bullard, the former Director, who retired about five years ago. He made the decision, in the early 1970’s, to begin collecting photography in a serious way. He did so because he recognized, very presciently, that it was an area in which they could compete with other museums, at the highest level.

The things were available, and they were largely affordable. He knew a lot of the people to contact to make sure he was looking at the best of what was around. Between 1970 and 1985, the museum acquired, almost entirely by purchase, about 5000 works that became the core of the collection.

JB: That’s quick work. How did he get it done?

RL: They were purchasing these things with a whole host of different kinds of funds, but there were two that have really stood out to me: the National Endowment for the Arts Acquisition Grants, which don’t exist in the same way now, and purchases from funds provided by the Women’s Volunteer Committee here at NOMA.

This was a group of women who supported the institution, gave funds, and I think that’s significant, because in some cases, that might be the gift of $100 here or there. But with $100 at that time, and this is an actual example, you could buy things like a great Andre Kertesz photo postcard-backed print, from the 1920’s in Paris.

John Bullard went out in ’73 and bought 19 of those little Andre Kertesz prints, and it was $1900. That was the total amount of the purchase. Today, they’re all treasures. They’re incredible things. I’ve already shown four or five of them in the 19 shows I’ve done here at the Museum.

It was a very smart decision on his part to do these things, and to think about photography in a very comprehensive way.

JB: It was practical.

RL: Absolutely.

JB: I was curious, because those things don’t start from nowhere. There has to be a reason.

RL: Right.

JB: And now it is 2015, and you’ve had your three years. You’ve proven you’re a hard worker, and you’re writing catalogues until 2 in the morning, and then still finding time for scholarly articles as well. Which you mentioned to me in person, over a Sazerac in New Orleans.

RL: That’s right.

JB: So we talked about part of your job, which is absorbing dense information that is normally reserved for a specific group of academics. The other half of the equation is trying to get more people interested in elements of those concepts that can appeal to the masses. To art consumers, as opposed to academics.

RL: Right.

JB: Now that you’re getting your first chance to look forward, how do you plan on doing that? What’s your strategy?

RL: We’ve established a three-tiered exhibition program for photography here. At the top are these big thematic, or monographic exhibitions, like the Edward Burtynsky show. Or even the Gordon Parks exhibition that we did here. Those are things that are, in large part, works that we don’t have here in the collection; that we’re bringing in as a loan show, or producing here and sending out elsewhere.

That’s an opportunity for us to present to the public things that we can’t show them from the permanent collection. We’re trying to select people or themes that we think are incredibly relevant or important to this community, and bring them in and give people a chance to see that material. And to learn about something that doesn’t exist here.

The second tier are what I’m calling my “Little Histories of Photography,” which take as their starting point one theme, and are based almost exclusively in the permanent collection. We start somewhere in the 1840’s, and we go up into the 21st Century. It’s a run through the History of Photography in about 70 or 80 works.

It usually looks at a very specific aspect of photography, and how it has been pervasive, from its origins to the present. The first show I did was called “What is a Photograph?” that looked at photographic media, and posed the question that you and I discussed at the very beginning.

How do we define photography? How can we wrap our head around this thing that seems so amorphous?

JB: So the show that I saw in December, “Photo Unrealism,” which looks at the Surrealist bent within photography, that would fit within that program?

RL: Yes, that’s the third one I’ve done in the “Little Histories of Photography” group. I want to keep doing that, and exploring our collection, because it gives me an opportunity to look at our collection in a new way. And to consider things that I think are important issues.

“Photo Unrealism,” for example, I’m hoping people will see it as a fun, quirky, kooky exhibition of very weird things. But on a slightly more serious note, I hope that people will also see that it directly confronts an assumption about photography that we all make: that it is a record-making medium. That it is a medium that takes things that are there, and presents them as rote information.

Because that is in many ways how we still see it. Of course, most artists don’t see it that way. But I want to show that throughout history, even from the earliest moments, that photography has always been a distortion, in some way. It’s a discussion that I wanted to have on the walls of the Museum.

The third tier is a series of small, very focused exhibitions, that happen in our smallest gallery space, which was recently created, and then newly endowed, for the presentation of works on paper. It’s the A. Charlotte Mann and Joshua Mann Pailet Gallery. It holds about 10-15 works, and it gives us the chance to do things like show Emmet Gowin’s undergraduate thesis project, “Concerning Alfred Stieglitz, and America, and Myself,” which I think you saw when you were here.

JB: Yes.

RL: In that gallery, we have these rotating exhibitions, mostly from the permanent collection, but not always, that either focus on someone specific, or explore a theme that I think is relevant. It’s also a space that is very easy to change quickly, so it gives us the chance, in the future I hope, to address topical issues in a very interesting way.

JB: As we said, you don’t have the traditional problems that people have elsewhere, as far as drawing people both to your city and to your institution. New Orleans has that inherent advantage.

So you don’t have to focus so much on building the numbers. You’re focusing more on having a very cohesive, specific vision that involves an element of teaching. Teaching the history, on one hand, and then extrapolating into global issues that you want to present to your community, and to the tourists who come through?

You translate for your viewers through the real meat of the job: mounting exhibitions, putting pictures on the wall, and letting people physically stand there, and think for themselves.

RL: Yeah. In my interest in communicating with the public, I always want to question whether we’re doing that in the right way. On a very fundamental level, I think one of the keys to that is just posing questions, and not trying to tell an audience what you think.

I usually try to create exhibitions that ask a question, even with “What is a Photograph?” the question is the title. And then I try explicitly not to answer them, but to give them as many examples as possible of something, so they can draw their own conclusions.

I think giving people the chance to explore themselves is perhaps one of the most meaningful Museum experiences that we can provide. To start thinking about why we should look at pictures, and how we look at pictures. Those are things that we try to inspire here.

It’s true, we don’t have the usual problem of attracting people to the city, however, I should say we are a Museum in City Park, which is a short drive from the French Quarter. It’s far enough that we are not on the classic tourist path, so one of our goals is to make sure we are creating programs that are exciting enough for people to leave the French Quarter, and come up here and spend some time in the park, and come to the Museum and Sculpture Garden. To make it a real destination for people that come visit the city.

JB: You just need to promise them beads, right?

RL: I think you’re right. We do have a big glass bead sculpture in the Sculpture Garden.

JB: I’m practicing for my role as a guest scholar on the NOMA think tank, circa 2019.

RL: Exactly.

JB: I’m laying the groundwork. But let’s go there, with respect to building. You’re a young guy, you’ve taken on a big job, and are doing well at it.

Every institution has a board, and funders. We could talk about how much of your time is spent soliciting money. But I’m more curious on what your goal is for building. You’ve got a collection of a certain amount of photographs. You have an exhibition program.

Where do you see things going beyond where they currently are?

RL: We do have some significant holes in the collection. It is my goal to continue building the collection, and to try to strengthen the weaknesses. I’m largely focusing on the 19th Century, and post-1970.

Photography is much more expensive now, so that happens in a much slower way, but in my time here, we have had a number of really generous patrons who have given us money to buy things, in a big way, or incredible collectors give us fairly large collections of individual artist’s work.

The collection was about 9000 works when I arrived, and we’ve added almost 3000 works since then. An example of one of the big groups that we received was a set of prints by Debbie Fleming Caffery, who’s an important Louisiana-based photographer.

JB: Sure.

RL: She has gallery representation here, and in New York, and is in most major museum collections. We worked with one funder who gave us the money to purchase 100 of her prints, so that we would have the largest collection of her work in the country, which we thought was fitting.

In the end, when I made the selection with Debbie, we went and looked at every single print of every single image, and she helped me select the best prints that she still had. But we couldn’t get our selection down to less than 181, so she ended up essentially gifting the remaining prints, above the purchase price that we had agreed upon so that ended up being the final number.

We’re very happy to be able to have that kind of depth for an artist like Debbie Caffery, who’s been so important to this area, but is known internationally.

JB: You have your mission to inform the public, and you have your caretaker role, and those two intertwine on a daily basis.

RL: Absolutely. You’re dead on. Another thing I said in my job interview here is that another thing I think we need to accomplish, in the History of Photography, can only be accomplished with a three-pronged approach. The first is teaching, and I mean that very broadly, from lecturing in the Museum, to going out to Universities, to bringing classes in.

The second is writing: publishing books about our collection, and about photography. And finally Exhibitions: showing works, and making them available to people. I plan to continue building this department in all three of those directions.

We’d like to continue to publish things, hopefully at an even greater level. And to continue to produce exhibitions that are not only shown here, but allow me to work with colleagues at other institutions to put together exhibitions that can travel.

And then education. I think we have very strong ties, as an institution, to Tulane, Loyola, and UNO. But I’d like those to be even stronger, and perhaps even work on hosting more classes here at the Museum so that students can learn from the works in the collection directly.

JB: There are major institutions that do have schools built in, right?

RL: Yes. The Met has an implicit relationship with NYU, and the Art Institute of Chicago is also an art school. We are in a small enough city where it’s very easy for us to get back and forth between all these places, and I’m very interested in sharing our resources with the other educational institutions in the city.

JB: OK, you mentioned traveling exhibitions, and working with educational institutions. So I am going to put you on the spot here in about 30 seconds. There’s your warning.

Your Gordon Parks exhibition traveled to the University of Virginia, and may or may not still be on the wall. Is that right?

RL: It has come down, and just opened at Grinnell College in Iowa.

JB: You were interviewed by the school newspaper at the University of Virginia, which I found on Google. I couldn’t tell if it was a written Q&A, or an actual conversation like this, but the last line of the piece was the kind of thing that a student journalist would allow you to say at the end, and then follow with, “OK. Thanks so much for your time, Mr. Lord, I really appreciate it.”

But I’m not that guy, and that wasn’t my interview. And the last thing you said was, (and here’s where you’re going to get a little nervous,) as grandiose and philosophical a statement about photography as I’ve read in quite some time.

RL: (laughing.)

JB: So for the record, the question here is, please discuss. Here’s the quote: “Examining photography can tell us a lot about the motives, aspirations, and dreams of humanity.”

RL: (pause.) Is that the end of it.

JB: Yeah. That’s it.

RL: (laughing.) That is pretty bold.

JB: Right.

RL: I think that may have been pulled from part of my essay in the Gordon Parks catalogue, in which I say we need to always critically examine projects, be they books, exhibitions, articles, or magazine portfolios. Because everything that we see is somebody’s selection, so we should always consider who’s doing the selecting for those things.

By that, I’m being self-critical. When I put up an exhibition, I really invite people to tell me what they think about it. Have I missed anything? What did I leave out? Those are important questions to me, because I’m sure that a lot of my opinions creep in. It’s not my job to show you what I think is great only, it’s my job to show you things that I think illustrate a complete history, in many ways.

We always need to consider that somebody is doing the selecting. These things are not just thrown up on the wall, in any kind of objective way. And I think we can learn a lot about ourselves, and about each other, if we critically examine the choices and selections of pictures and photographs.

That kind of a statement is driven very strongly by the Gordon Parks project, in which “Life” editors chose work from Gordon Parks’ selection in a controversial way. He made 1000 negatives, they chose 21. They distorted them, and embellished them, and darkened them in many cases. The story they told was very different from a story that could have been told.

In the exhibition, I tried to tell that other story. But I think this is a unique problem with photography, because it is perhaps the only medium in which a photograph can come into being long after it has come into being.

What I mean by that is, there is the moment of the creation of the negative, and then the print might not happen for another 20 or 30 years. So what does the distance between those two things mean, and how does it distort things, historically, to have that kind of disconnect?

Could you say that quote again one more time? Because I don’t know if I directly addressed it.

JB: Of course. It’s bold, and it’s thoughtful, which is why I’m only tongue-in-cheek making fun of you.

RL: Right. Right.

JB: I think it’s pretty idealistic, and that’s why I wanted to hear your thoughts further, while we’re nearing the end of the interview. Here you go: “Examining photography can tell us a lot about the motives, aspirations, and dreams of humanity.”

RL: Hmm. Hmm. Yeah. I think the other implied statement there is that I’ve become very interested in the ways in which photographs are increasingly replacing text as the predominant mode of communication and language. It’s certainly happening with people our age, and people younger than us.

I know in your blog posts, you include images and write about them, but not everyone does anymore. Sometimes you see these floating photo-streams, in which the images are the language. They are the text.

We need to think about that very seriously, because yes, people on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, they are communicating. They are expressing their own ambitions, their own desires, in photographic form. We need to be very careful about how we do that, and it needs to become a very important component of general education, as we go forward.

Because there are limitations to what a photograph can communicate. In fact, it’s much more likely to communicate a lot more than we ever intended. And in a much more ambiguous way. I think that critically examining photographs is going to become an incredibly important component of education. Or it should. But it’s not, right now.

I’ll go back to a statement that one of my mentor’s made, which I’ve always held with me. He said, and I think it’s true, that the moment we are taught how to read, how to recognize letters and put them into words, that’s really the last moment in the US formal education system that we are taught how to look at something.

There is no component that says, “OK. You can read text. Now let’s learn how to read pictures.” Unless you take an Art History program, and I think that’s going to become crucial. We are falling behind in this idea of visual literacy, and I think it’s something that we should think about very strongly.

JB: I couldn’t agree more. It got me thinking, we all talk about photography, constantly. And it encompasses so much, but I sometimes feel that where the love, the passion, and the magic comes from, gets the short shrift. I think that’s implicit, that there’s a reason why people care so much about it.

But we often don’t dig into that question. That’s why I brought back that statement that you said.

RL: Ah. Interesting.

JB: It made me think a little bit. It’s almost like photography, the word, is a stand-in for reality. For life. Our obsession with this medium is almost like one collective metaphorical selfie.

The camera reproduces back for us what we’re experiencing, on this spinning ball out in Space-Time. And we can’t make sense of it, because nobody can make sense of it. It’s too big. It’s too grand, as a mammal with a limited lifespan, to understand everything.

So an easier way is to reflect it back, through the lens, and hold on to it. Photographs are talismen of this inexplicable experience we’re all going through, together, as humanity. And maybe we don’t appreciate it enough.

Someone like Emmet Gowin is out there on an island, talking about the magic, and I think that’s something that maybe we could all use a bit more of. In my mind, that’s where your quote took me.
And I wanted to see what it meant to you, upon further reflection.

RL: That’s an interesting way to take it, and something that, as usual, brings me back to the origins of photography. When it was much less clearly defined as a kind of information and record. When it was magic.

The inventors of photography were occasionally accused of dabbling in the dark arts. Or there was a lot of association with alchemy, because they put some chemicals together, and suddenly the world appears on a surface. It’s amazing.

Photographs are so common now that we’ve lost some of our wonder and amazement at their production. It’s also just so easy. We have them in our pockets. Thousands of them, on our phones or devices.

I do think it’s a magical thing. Photographic images can profoundly affect us. They can make us emotional. We have responses to them in ways that we don’t always have to text. And I think it’s important not to lose sight of that.

That’s definitely up there with reasons I became interested in this field. You see things that are profoundly affecting, and you want to understand that.

JB: Boom. There’s our end right there.

RL: I like it.

Angus McBean British, 1904-1990 Self Portrait, 1949 Gelatin silver print 1988 Discretionary Purchase Fund, 88.10

Angus McBean
British, 1904-1990
Self Portrait, 1949
Gelatin silver print
1988 Discretionary Purchase Fund, 88.10

Carlotta M. Corpron American, 1901-1988 Floating, 1945 Gelatin silver print Gift of Clarence John Laughlin, 82.281.25

Carlotta M. Corpron
American, 1901-1988
Floating, 1945
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Clarence John Laughlin, 82.281.25

Jay Dusard American, born 1937 Wall, 1972 Gelatin silver print Museum purchase through the National Endowment for the Arts Matching Grant, 81.22

Jay Dusard
American, born 1937
Wall, 1972
Gelatin silver print
Museum purchase through the National Endowment for the Arts Matching Grant, 81.22

Edmund Kesting German, 1892-1970 Marianne Vogelgesang, circa 1935 Gelatin silver print Museum purchase, 79.133

Edmund Kesting
German, 1892-1970
Marianne Vogelgesang, circa 1935
Gelatin silver print
Museum purchase, 79.133

Russell Lord NOMA Curator of Photographs Interview – Part 1

- - Art

Jonathan Blaustein: So what’s going on down there in New Orleans?

Russell Lord: We are trying to get all of our schedules organized for the next three years. I’ve been here for about three and a half years, and as soon as I got here, we put a bunch of stuff on the books. I’ve spent most of my time working on those things, and we’re finally caught up and planning for the future.

JB: You hit the ground running, and you’re catching your breath now, three plus years later?

RL: Pretty much. The first show that I did here, which we were already committed to doing, opened less than two months after I arrived. And the first show that I did in its entirety opened less than six months after I got here.

So it was a very quick pace. It’s nice to have a moment to catch your breath.

JB: Basically, you’re saying that at your first opening, the security guards didn’t want to let you past the velvet rope?

RL: (laughing) They were like, “Who’s this guy?”

JB: Who’s this guy?

RL: It’s true.

JB: They don’t say that anymore, I’m sure.

RL: No. I’m no stranger to being here late in the evening, especially with a young child, as you know. Sometimes, the most productive hours are right after their bedtime, and into the wee hours of the morning.

Since I live so close to the Museum, I often come back around 7:30, and work until Midnight. I get a lot of writing done, in the quiet hours.

JB: Well, you’ve already given us one of your secrets, and we’ve barely begun. To be honest, I don’t do that. At 7:30, when the kids go to bed, I turn on the TV and put my feet up. That’s my only break in the day.

RL: I do too, now. But for the past couple of years, that has not been my schedule. I’m grateful to have those moments, alone with my wife, where we’re just able to relax. Preferably with a little bit of bourbon.

For a while there, when I was writing the Gordon Parks book, and when I was writing the forthcoming “Photography at NOMA” catalogue, and the Burtynsky catalogue, those were all things that were written largely on weeknights, between 7pm and 2 o’clock in the morning.

JB: That means if we were to parse your texts carefully, we would probably see a hint of loopiness. The 1am loopies?

RL: I think so. Yeah. Though I did try to temper those with the 9am-the-next-day-check-and-balance.

JB: All right.

RL: Around 1:30 or 2 o’clock in the morning, you do feel pretty confident about everything you’ve just written.

JB: (laughing.)

RL: And then the next morning, you come in and wonder who was in your office the night before.

JB: That’s your friend Mr. Bourbon.

RL: (laughing.) Exactly.

JB: There’s a lot of stuff I want to talk about with you. I think you are almost perfectly primed to give our audience answers to a lot of questions that people have.

We hit the ground running, today, but I’d love to cycle back to some questions about how you got started, and perhaps jump around a bit as well.

RL: That sounds great to me.

JB: I’m sure I won’t get everything right, but your lineage looks something like this: James Madison University, then you worked at the Yale Art Gallery, you went to graduate school at the City University of New York, for your PhD, you worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and then you jumped to the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Am I at least mostly correct here?

RL: That’s all correct. The only thing that I will be precise about… you said it precisely correct, but I didn’t finish the PhD. I am, technically, A.B.D.

JB: I D.O.N.T. K.N.O.W. what A.B.D means.

RL: (laughing.) A.B.D is the status that means “All But Dissertation.” It seems to have achieved this pseudo-official status. It means that if you start a PhD program, and you don’t finish the PhD, you may have had an extra six or seven years of schooling that other people don’t, but there was nothing to add to the name.

The A.B.D. status defines someone who has gone through all the course-work in a graduate program, and then usually passed some sort of critical exam, which in our case is an Orals exam. It’s a crazy process where we develop three bibliographies.

One is in your focus area, which for me was 19th Century French and British photography. Another bibliography in your major area, which was the long 19th Century. And another in your related minor, which for me was late 18th and early 19th Century American art.

JB: And by bibliography, do you mean that you have to present a reading list of everything that you’ve read?

RL: Basically, you come up with a list of things, about a year and a half in advance, of what you are supposed to read. And you come up with these bibliographies in consultation with your thesis advisor, and a council of two other professors. At the Graduate Center, this is the way it works.

So I had three professors basically approving the lists that I came up with. And in the concentration area, I believe it was a 10 page bibliography. So we can calculate what that turns out to be in terms of numbers of books, or articles.

But it was substantial.

In the major area, it was about a 5 page bibliography. In the related minor, it was a list of artists that we were expected to be familiar with. You are then responsible to read as much of that as possible.

At a certain date, you show up at the Graduate Center, and go into a conference room with the professors, and they start showing you slides. You have to talk about them, and they ask you questions, in a very directed way, so you can pull in some of what you learned from doing the reading.

What is particularly challenging about this test, is that it is designed to test the depths of your knowledge. So they basically ask you questions about each pair of slides that they’re showing you, until you can’t answer a question. You leave each pair of slides having just incorrectly answered, or been unable to answer, the last question.

You go into the next pair feeling really bad about yourself.

JB: I was quiet for a really long time, and there are so many things I want to say here that my brain hurts.

RL: (laughing.)

JB: I don’t know what to say to that. It sounds like a kind of torture. As opposed to a productive and positive plan of exploration.

RL: It’s a very interesting thing, because I think a lot of people certainly don’t like it. And a lot of people are more adept at other parts of the PhD process. For me, I actually saw a lot of value in it.

It’s a rigorous test, but I really got into this field because I had a great desire to be able to communicate things about art and culture to to a fairly broad audience of people. And I’m always very excited at the most academic things out there.

I’m interested in what people are saying in small, focused, academic circles. I like absorbing that information. But I like even more trying to translate that information for people who would never come into contact with those circles otherwise.

So for me, reading things like all of TJ Clark’s books, or some of the more philosophical writings. Derrida’s work on Art History, for example. And thinking about how to translate that information, and spit it back out and relate it to work. Trying to focus in on those kernels of truth for great ideas, and then bring them back out.

That, to me, is a challenge, but it’s exciting, and I think it’s a responsibility that we all bear. Especially when we decide to go into the curatorial world, because you’re even more a public figure in this world.

JB: I didn’t mean to impugn the acquisition of knowledge…

RL: No, no. I totally knew where you were coming from.

JB: Good. Because we live in the world of the hyperlink, and establishing two years ahead of time, every single book, and only those books, that you will read… it would be like getting a PhD in Jazz and never getting the chance to improvise.

RL: Right. Right.

JB: It sounds a little hollow. But you made so many good points, beyond the little stuff I want to make fun of. Other people who go through that process do it to end up in Academia, and never really stray from a very tight knit community of hyper-experts.

RL: Right.

JB: You knew all along that it was important to you to be able to take this knowledge down from the tower, and start talking to as many people as you could about what you love, and why you love it?

RL: Absolutely. I was aware that in academia, just to get through a PhD program, you are being taught by people who have chosen the academic route. So it’s always interesting negotiating or navigating how much you should make apparent what your goals really are.

However, I worked with several professors at the Graduate Center who were very excited at the fact that I was so committed and enthusiastic about working in the “object” world, and the Museum world.

What was exciting for me was that I got to become a nexus point for them as to where the two worlds might meet. I was just talking to Geoffrey Batchen recently, who was my advisor. He taught a class on 19th Century British photography, and at the time, I was working with Hans Kraus, and Hans let me bring a couple of really early Henneman and Talbot salt prints to class one day.

I remember Geoff saying recently that being in New York was a dream, as he’s since moved to New Zealand. He said, “It was a dream. I had great students, and how many places could you ever teach a class and have one of your students bring in Talbots and Hennemans.”

He was right. There was something really exciting to being in New York, and being surrounded by all these beautiful collections, but for me, there was something also very exciting about having people like Geoff Batchen training me, and being wholly supportive and understanding of what a museum can do, and what actual “object” study can do.

In addition to the book and the theoretical work.

JB: So even when you were immersed in that rigorous environment, you were already thinking about a connection point with a public audience.

I’m guessing it’s because you worked in a gallery environment at Yale. Does everything build upon itself? Or was there a seminal experience at some point in your career where you decided that was the direction you wanted to take?

RL: It was a lot of building upon the previous step, in most of the cases. But there were some defining moments.

When I got to Yale, I had a chance to work very closely with “objects.” I was hired as the Administrative Assistant in the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, and my responsibilities, on paper, were to be the department assistant. I would answer phones, do purchase orders, things like that. And also to take care of the collection.

JB: You were a desk jockey.

RL: Yes, but I would also pull works for study, and put them back. I ultimately ended up organizing classes. But then it moved far beyond that, to turn into a really wonderful opportunity where I got the chance to work with the Director, Jock Reynolds on a couple of exhibitions, and I co-ordinated the publication of Emmet Gowin’s “Aerial Photography” book.

Throughout that four year process, I realized what you can learn from looking at the “object,” and how much the physical qualities of the “object” can have a huge impact on even our theoretical understanding of it. Whatever we might think, or want to say in a general way, can often be upended by the physical properties of something itself.

JB: A print, for example.

RL: Right. So that quickly became a hallmark of my research: what the original “object” can tell us that a reproduction can’t. Ultimately, when I did decide to go to the PhD program, and I was thinking about what I wanted to write about, it started because I was interested in these weird physical objects, early photogravures, which it seemed like not much work had been done on.

And that proved to be true. No one had really explored why people were interested in photo-mechanical reproduction, from the very outset of photography. Nobody had really considered how pervasive
those attempts were. What my research tries to demonstrate is that photography has been written as a history of great images by great artists.

In the marketplace, we fetishize the unique version of each of those things. This is the best print because it looks, in this way, different from all the others. We play down its reproductive qualities, in favor of the uniqueness of the individual object. So the way the History of Photography has been written, to my mind, as I did my research, seemed to be at odds with its origins. Which were largely based in an interest in reproduction.

JB: How so?

RL: At least from Talbot’s perspective. And, even, perhaps, early on in Daguerre’s career, he was interested in the idea of reproducibility. And also the idea of hybridity. We tend to separate photography out as something different from anything else. In its earliest days, it was described as being hybrid. All the words people came up with to define it were themselves usually two roots from different fields, smashed together, like photo and graph.

I could list all the other kinds of names, like the heliograph, the heliogravure, the physototypephysautotype. But I’ll stop there. Niecephore Niepce himself has a page in his notebook where he describes a bunch of different combinations to describe what he’s trying to do. They all have these different roots, and it’s a wonderful exploration in lexicon.

JB: That would be fascinating to see.

RL: Beyond those kind of rhetorical devices, they were creating things that were, themselves, physically hybrid. Meaning, there was certainly a light-sensitive component to what they were doing, but it often resulted in an ink on paper print. Since I had this interest in looking at and showing “objects” to people, I started thinking,

“OK. If you are a person in France or England in the early 1840’s, and you keep hearing about photography, what are you actually seeing? How many people would have had the chance to see a Daguerreotype on display in a shop window, for example? How many people would have seen an actual salt print?”

One of my arguments in my thesis is that more people encountered photography in the photogravure, or photomechanical form, than they did in what wme call its pure form: The Daguerreotype or salt print. They saw prints in ink, produced after those other things, so for them, at a very early moment, there was a confusion as to what, exactly, photography was.

The word came to encompass all of these kinds of practices, and now of course it encompasses even more. It’s things on paper, or printed with ink, or on glass, or on metal. Now, photographs might have no physical, permanent form whatsoever. Things that might exist digitally, and affect and be seen by millions of people, but might never permanently exist.

JB: I couldn’t help but go to the digital world in my head.
It struck me almost immediately, when you were talking about what people encountered, versus what was fetishized… that is today. I think it’s a real problem that a lot of people scratch their heads at.

People’s obsession with the medium, has never been greater. In the last decade, we’ve minted a couple BILLION, or more, new photographers. Without exaggeration. But it seems like the interest, at least in the US, in well-crafted prints in a white frame, on a wall, the boutique aspect of unique objects, is fairly limited.

As you live in New Orleans, we can talk about how certain cultural meccas, at least, are outliers in that trend. I doubt you’ll disagree with me, and I’ll give you a chance.

It just seems like what you were fascinated by, at the onset of the medium, has never been truer than it is today. What’s your take on that?

RL: It’s absolutely true, and accurate, and I agree with that completely. It was, in many ways, an inspiration for my look into the origins. I was really curious about the debates we were having now, but much more succinctly than I just described it to you.

There were all these interesting symposia with titles like “Is Photography Over?” or “Is Photography Dead?”

JB: Right. Of course.

RL: In all of those cases, people usually failed to come up with what “It” is. What they were describing, and what it was that had died. Maybe there are some differences in the physicality of it.

It made me think about the same kind of debates that people were having at the origins of photography, and if you are going to define what it is that is different, let’s say you settle on a material explanation.

Photography was “this,” and now it is “this,” physically. But if you look back through the History of Photography, there’s never been only one kind of photography. There were Daguerreotypes at the same time as salt prints, and albumen prints. Photogravures. Platinum prints.

It’s always been a whole host of different kinds of material things. So why should we try to define photography in any kind of pure, material sense? It’s almost as if the only constant in its history has been change and transformation.

Perhaps, rather than declare things “dead,” or “over,” we should see the digital revolution, which is PROFOUND, as just another step in a constantly evolving field of image-making.

JB: Right. And maybe it’s always been constant that photography has been shunted to the side, or considered distinct from other expressions of art, and other forms of media?

RL: Yes. Absolutely. Again, I think that’s a function of its origins. People said it was “kind of” a form of drawing, but it was drawing that performed itself. There was no human needed. It was auto-genetic, or…

JB: It was science, really.

RL: Yeah. There’s a great thing about the way people describe the process of photography. I mean, Talbot himself published a wonderful book illustrated with actual photographs, called “The Pencil of Nature.” Here we have Nature with a capital “N,” drawing her own pictures. There’s no person needed.

That was certainly one of the key components of photography. People settled on the fact that there was no human intervention, and I think that ultimately gave rise to mistaken beliefs about its truth or accuracy.

But Talbot publishes a treatise, and the title is something like “On the art of photogenic drawing, or the process by which objects may be made to delineate themselves.”

Amazing.

JB: And right now, of course, you’re proving the inherent value of the 10 page bibliography. Because you did read your books, and you have assimilated your information.

RL: (laughing.)

JB: (laughing) If your teachers are reading this…

RL: I think that’s what’s interesting about it is that you need to absorb all this stuff, but your jazz analogy is a really interesting one. It’s almost as if you are a jazz musician who is asked to just internalize the whole history of music, and, in three hours, give an improvisation in which little references to these things come out. You know?

That’s ultimately what it is. They just want to hear how you speak about these things, and how you can package theory or critical statements in a way that relates it to what you’re looking at.

For me, I saw a lot of value in it, and I was really glad that I read a lot of those things. At the heart of it, I’m really just a total nerd. As you can tell.

JB: Everybody can tell now.

RL: (laughing.) And there were so many books that I never would have read that now are some of my favorite books in Art History. And I wouldn’t recommend them for everybody, but for me they were incredibly influential, and I loved the ideas. Thinking about re-staging those ideas, or engaging with them in a new way is something that I’ll probably be doing forever.

JB: People will only read this. We don’t do podcasts yet. But your passion is definitely jumping through the speaker. The readers will have to trust me that you’re fired up and ready to do.

RL: Good. Good.

Murray Riss American, born 1940 Tricycle, Car Ad, and Sneakers, Part of Flying Objects Series, 1974 Gelatin silver prints Museum purchase through the National Endowment for the Arts, 75.235, 75.236, and 75.237

Murray Riss
American, born 1940
Tricycle, Car Ad, and Sneakers, Part of Flying Objects Series, 1974
Gelatin silver prints
Museum purchase through the National Endowment for the Arts, 75.235, 75.236, and 75.237

Murray Riss American, born 1940 Tricycle, Car Ad, and Sneakers, Part of Flying Objects Series, 1974 Gelatin silver prints Museum purchase through the National Endowment for the Arts, 75.235, 75.236, and 75.237

Murray Riss
American, born 1940
Tricycle, Car Ad, and Sneakers, Part of Flying Objects Series, 1974
Gelatin silver prints
Museum purchase through the National Endowment for the Arts, 75.235, 75.236, and 75.237

Murray Riss American, born 1940 Tricycle, Car Ad, and Sneakers, Part of Flying Objects Series, 1974 Gelatin silver prints Museum purchase through the National Endowment for the Arts, 75.235, 75.236, and 75.237

Murray Riss
American, born 1940
Tricycle, Car Ad, and Sneakers, Part of Flying Objects Series, 1974
Gelatin silver prints
Museum purchase through the National Endowment for the Arts, 75.235, 75.236, and 75.237

The Art of the Personal Project: Slav Zatoka

- - 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: Slav Zatoka

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How long have you been shooting?
13 years professionally. I started shooting theater productions at the age 16, though.

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

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
In 2010 I had a big healthcare job. Together with my wife were shooting 24 health clinics in Los Angeles area. One day after we finished shooting at a health center in La Habra and we were taking our lunch break before the next location, we saw this old church with a sign that said “La Habra Boxing Club” above the main entrance. I walked in and saw a really old school gym with a mix of local Latino fighters, some young guys and a heavy weight scary looking boxer talking to an older gentleman with glasses and a baseball cap. That was David Martinez. We talked for 20 minutes. It turned out we shared some friends from the health clinic nearby. The place had character and it was free. Anybody who obeyed the rules and was determined to work hard could join the gym. Everyone was super friendly. Barry White music and boxing timer chimes set the pace. The place looked very interesting and it did look like a church, with boxing ring placed right where there might have been an altar. I must say here that my house happens to be in a very sterile and predictable environment of an LA suburb, the home of Mickey, Orange County, so I was drawn to this place immediately. LA Habra is a regular Latino neighborhood Orange County housewives and their Hollywood cut husbands like to avoid. That made it even more attractive. I asked David if I could come back to take some stills and he welcomed that idea with a broad smile. LA Habra Boxing Club is known to have been very welcoming to visual artists and it regularly hosts students from Sports Shooters Academy for workshops. I did not come back to the gym until 2 years later.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
2 years

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
It’s really hard to say. With this particular one I had the comfort of having access to it locally so there was a big chance I could come back to it, and potentially develop it up to a point where I would honestly say it is unique enough and tells a compelling story. After initial bliss and numerous ideas of boxer portrait series I left it on the back burner for two years. Boxing gyms and boxers are one of the most “exploited” subjects in photography and filmmaking. Boxing has been photographed and filmed from all the possible angles: sport, drama, social aspect, form. Who wants to create cliché work and recreate things that have already been shown, photographed? I needed a situation. In the words of Billy Wilder: “An actor entering through the door, you’ve got nothing. But if he enters through the window, you’ve got a situation. I knew I had to at least make an effort to make it worthwhile. Personal projects should have deadlines and budgets just like commercial but I feel like the notions of time and patience are used and explored entirely different when you work on your own, individual project.

When an opportunity came to test Nikon’s new DSLR I signed up for NPS consignment to test it and possibly use it as an opportunity to create some attractive visuals that could at least get me some exposure by being published on blogs testing new gear. I also had a clear reason to come back to the gym. David recognized me right away and since I was looking for one boxer to follow for a week or so, he suggested someone who happened to be training for their first professional fight. This is how I met Nadja, the only girl in the gym. After one visit to the gym shooting stills with Nadja I started exploring the camera’s video features. I was not entirely new to video. I have done independent film projects before and explored DSLR video in theory at PDN’s workshops in NYC and in practice when I was in Japan in 2011 (Sunflowers in Fukushima) I watched Nadja practice for 2 days and we also talked about her career, work, and just chatted during her breaks. I came back again to record more video and a short interview. At that point I realized that I can potentially continue this project for a while and tell the story of the beginning of her professional career. Nadja was natural in front of the camera and the interviews went well, too. At that point I asked her if I can follow her for a little while and if it was OK for me to hang out at the gym and record her while she practices. I felt I needed to explain that in order for this to be something good she needs to trust me to let me be around her for a little longer than Sports Shooter Academy student on a workshop. Sooner then later you are going to have to face budget issues. It’s hard to justify the time spent on a personal project when you have ongoing commercial work and young family let alone the cost of a video production.

I rented 2 different cameras from lensrentals.com Sony NEX700 for its slow motion capability and Canon C100 for its portability and price. I knew that this was going to be a one-man orchestra show so I decided to shoot everything handheld. There was always only one camera. The sound was either reordered on camera-mounted shotgun or on separate sound recording days. The end of 2012 was a breakthrough for me because that was the year I closed my main street studio and decided to go mobile. Instead of paying rent and started paying off my Sprinter production vehicle. The van was well equipped to handle still photography from day one. I also had a set of Arri lights with from my portrait studio so this was a good opportunity to test in real life. Half way trough filming Fighter’s Room I got a commercial job that was going to pay for a video camera that was needed as part of the production. Renting Sony and Canon several times to shoot the documentary actually gave me a real life opportunity to make a sound decision on which camera to buy eventually for my commercial work. I was finishing Fighter’s Room on my own C100 after it was paid off by commercial healthcare projects. Still I was my own director, cinematographer, focus puller, sound recordist, grip, gaffer, colorist (Film Convert came handy) and then eventually the editor, the most important person in documentary filmmaking.

There were breakthrough moments in the project. Recording a lot of slow-motion really made the trainer happy I was around. He could use it to analyze Nadja’s technique. Nadja was very comfortable with me around and I think that is what made David “appoint” me the third person on the ring on the day of her debut. I also visited Nadja’s home. Met her family. Generally I felt like the whole process was getting a shape. The fact that Jack Reiss was the referee that night was a huge bonus. His name is recognized worldwide and his Brooklyn accent give an extra flavor to the documentary. I was getting a lot of good footage and started working on the editing. That was the biggest challenges of all. It is also where documentary film happens. In a documentary the editor is the director and this is where the story is told. I also did not know how important the sound is. My neighbor is NBC editor, award winning and with years of experience. He helped me with a project I did for Isaiah House in 2006. This time he told me to do it myself and I am thankful for that. I learned a lot in editing this short. He also told me at an early stage that my sound sucks. This made me rerecord some parts and remix as well as reedit the entire soundtrack. It took two weeks. Today I could do it in 2 days. The experience is priceless.

The initial cut was 30 min and had copyrighted music I had no license for. I recorded new music with a friend and a pianist from Phoenix. On the top of two main themes on piano we recorded Jack Reiss’s theme using Logic Pro. Recording that final theme changed the way I edited the scene with Jack Reiss briefing boxers before the fight. It’s not unusual I leaned later, for the editors to finally fly with the project when the score is added to the footage. I also learned that the first music that comes to your head and the music you have in mind when filming might not be the best choice. The whole project was self funded not to exceed $5000. I came below that and most of the cost was promotion and festival fees. I did not hire anyone for this film. We rented a sound recording studio with Jennifer Waleczek for a day at 1h cost thanks to a friend. I had to do the final sound mixing myself. The rest was camera rentals, a set of microphones. Additionally I paid to create CC and subtitles in Amara.org. Last week of December the movie went on Vimeo On Demand and is available for rent or download: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/fightersroom. For aPhotoEditor readers it’s available for rent for free for the next two weeks, CODE: aPhotoEditor. 100% of the proceeds from Vimeo on demand go to Jennifer Waleczek, the music composer who is fighting breast cancer.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
My portfolio consists mostly of carefully produced images of architecture, healthcare and lifestyle. By showing my personal work I am showing my clients my other side. It’s less commercial. It’s raw and more journalistic. I want to show my clients not only the images I make and also the images I take. All of my personal projects, except for Woodstock Poland were long time projects.
This was a huge step forward for me. From the initial temptation of creating just a Vimeo.com boxing slowmo to self producing a documentary short that made it to 5 different film festivals and received Best Documentary Short Award at Los Angeles Movie Awards it was a very different. Transitioning from still photographer to cinematographer was really a dream come true. So far it was the biggest personal undertaking and the one I most proud of.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yes, Fighters’ Room has its own tumblr and facebook pages. I also use Instagram.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Definitely not viral but I found out that twitter is a really powerful tool to get a message across. I am connecting to someone new from the film industry every day. I feel like it is a social tool for filmmakers. I also have to say New Filmmakers LA is one of the best-organized film festivals as far as social media and press is concerned. Movie Maker Magazine pairs with them promoting new films.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
No, not yet. At least not to my existing line of clients. Although, like I said, I spent most of my budget on promoting the short at film at festivals and the echoes of these screenings are already coming back to me. My existing clients can access the video directly from my site. Some of them attended my premiere at American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs and they loved it. I know they definitely like the fact I stay creative and constantly push myself outside of my comfort zone.

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Born in Poland (1973), graduated with a degree in English. Began photographing at the age of 15, publishing first photos before he was 17. After moving to the US in 2002, among many other activities Slav continued to work as a photographer and began exploring documentary filmmaking completing a short about Isaiah House as a side project to portrait photography series of the homeless in Santa Ana. Later on Slav photographed and filmed post Katrina New Orleans and 2011 Tohuku disaster in Japan. Slav also served and worked at the Polish Center in Yorba Linda, where apart from his duties he started Movie Nights that ran continuously for 2 years. In 2006 he founded Slav Zatoka Images and began photographing architecture, healthcare and portraiture commercially while running a portrait studio in Orange with his wife, Today Slav continues to grow as a commercial photographer and also operates a small production company called Silverstudio.pro. Some of his awards include 2008 Hasselblad Portrait Award, 2012 PDN First Place in Music Moment of The Year, 2014 Best Documentary Short at LA Movie Awards. “Fighter’s Room” is his first independently produced documentary. He lives with his wife and two children in Orange County.


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

The Daily Edit – Ramona Rosales

- - The Daily Edit

 

Ramona Rosales

What it is about your style of working that has you with a steady client base?
My overall approach and why my regular clients hire me for specific subjects is that I shoot very fast (good for people who have zero time), I try to maximize that time with multiple / simultaneous set ups and I’m extremely resourceful. Besides creating a fun and collaborative set, I believe I’ve gained a good reputation with both client and talent representatives. Sometimes I’ve had to put my creative motives aside to get job done, but always put my best efforts to fulfill both the job and my own desires on making a great image.

You’re all over the newsstand right now, tell us about some of your projects and how they evolved.

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Billboard

Director of Photography:  Jennifer Laski
Deputy Director of Photography: Jenny Sargent
Creative Director: Shanti Marlar
Photo Editor: Amelia Halverson
Photo Editor:  Samantha Xu

For this issue, I had two assignments in the feature portfolio which included Ice Cube & Andy Samberg. The premise of the portfolio are subjects who are both actors and musicians. With Andy, it was collaborative, we chatted with him about my concepts (we had four set ups ready to go, but we had to narrow it down to two for time).  He was honest on what he didn’t feel would have the best comic effect but was enthusiastic for having fun with my other ideas. He actually mentioned to the editor he wanted to pose with a bunch of mics, but I designed one of the sets to be more random with mics and he had ran with it thankfully. He loved the variety of mics that I had our prop stylist pull. For our second set up, I gave him a choice of different stickers and he went for the kittens, which I secretly hoped he would.

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With Ice Cube, I felt there was so much gravity in keeping the balance between his distinct music and acting persona. I’ve have always been a huge fan and so excited about his directorial project about his days in NWA. I had to shoot at a location near his studio and I found a bar near by that had limited options, but could allow me to experiment to make the location take on completely different look. I wound up shooting four set ups in 20 minutes with him, quickly jumping between each set up. In these situations, my in camera or lightening risks usually pay off, which I feel was a great fit for his character.

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This assignment was a cover and feature with Kendrick Lamar. I had the opportunity to work with him last year and had grown to understand him more as an artist rather then a musician. I’m a fan of all his projects and was able to learn what path he was setting up for his upcoming (now out) album. I also really wanted to experiment with color and light on this one since most images I had seen of him where very dark or moody (which is a great fit for him but I wanted to see him in color)  We had a small budget to work with to build a partial set that I could get a few different looks with; I also brought some elements to play with in-camera effects. He was super excited to see the images as worked through the day which is always is so flattering when the subject appreciates your interpretation of themselves.

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BuzzFeed

Photo Editor: John Gara

I’ve had some fun assignments with BuzzFeed, but this one was a little unusual with Nick Kroll. The story was about his current projects but apparently the entire interview was done over a long day of hiking. Due to his love of the outdoors we thought it would be fun to get him dressed up and shoot him on location as if we were on a hike. He was filming in Ojai so we found a location via AirBnB that was on a beautiful plot of land and had an RV for us to base camp. We had about 40 minutes to squeeze in about five different set ups I planned for us to tackle which I think we wound up doing six to seven different set ups with one look. I got him up in a tree, rolling around in the grass and getting close with nature without him breaking out of character.

 


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ANDY SAMBERG & MOLLY SHANNON

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The Hollywood Reporter/40 Anniversary SNL Issue

Director of Photography: Jennifer Laski
Creative Director: Shanti Marlar
Deputy Director of Photography: Carrie Smith
Photo Editor: Michelle Stark

It was such an honor to be working with such amazing talent on this one; we got to shoot pairs of SNL alumnus from different eras including Maya Rudolf with Garrett Morris, Molly Shannon with Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig with Larane Newman. Each shoot was done at different locations or in studio. Andy and Molly had worked with each other in the past, so they immediately had a good time on set. We did three set ups with two changes within 30 minutes. One set up required some special effects including squirting flower and a vintage taxi cab smoking up. Luckily they had amazing team work and we got all the shots we hoped to get. Kristen Wiig and Larane Newman met on set for the first time and it was magic to see these amazing performers bounce off each other. I had five set ups ready to go but was limited on time so we had to sacrifice the last one. Maya Rudolf and Garrett Morris had the most amazing chemistry, it was actually kind of a challenge to interrupt their amazing conversations since everyone on set was so engulfed in their stories and rapport. With them, I loved these in-between shots that captured the essences of how much fun they where having on set.

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Playboy*

Creative Director: Mac Lewis
Director of Photography: Rebecca Black

* the pick up was done via August Syndication

I actually shot him for his PR and it wound up getting picked up by Playboy the same week. I just got to shoot him again a few weeks ago for Bust Magazine. He has an amazingly animated face and we had such a great conversation throughout out the whole shoot we had to keep taking breaks to Stop laughing the entire time.

 

 

 

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The Red Bulletin

Creative Director: Erik Turek
Art Director:  Kasimir Renmann
Head of Photography: Fritz Schuster
Associate Photo Editor: Rudolf Uebelhoer
Photo Editor: Marion Batty
Contributing Photo Editor US: Heidi Volpe

We had worked together on The Red Bulletin shoot with Aaron Bruno, so I know you have this wonderful way of engaging talent with your special effects and the ability to move from set up to set up quickly.  Have there been situations where you’ve prepared set ups and not gotten to them?
Time always a major factor in most of the celebrity shoots and I always feel I need to have as many set ups as possible (within budget or logistical reason) so I’m prepared for surprises, good or bad. There might be factors like delays, weather / (natural) light /location, wardrobe issues, talent issues that might change my plans but I know that by giving myself as many options possible, it allows me more flexibility for the whole shoot. Because there are so many X factors to contend with, specially on a less controlled set, I try not to fall in love (so to speak) with any of the set ups Just from the experience that things can change in an instant. There have been numerous times I haven’t been able to get every set up I hoped to get, but I’ve learned (and still learning) how to best manage my time and prepare my set to allow me to seamless transitions between sets.

Is it typical to have so many set ups for you? Do you have a hit list for your style of shooting and then bend that towards the unique assignment?
Depending on the budget and logistics I’ll layout as many options I can squeeze out within the given time frame, while keeping things fun on set. I think I have a specific style but strive to evolve within what is currently inspiring to me. An assignment may allow me to experiment based on the subject, the logistics and what the client would like to achieve. I’ll customize an assignment with the client as the priority and if there is options to do secondary set ups, I’ll take the opportunity to try things outside of the main scope, usually resulting In images both the client and myself are happy with. It’s moments like this on set that keep me inspired and remind myself to constantly aim to elevate my work.

 

 

The Daily Promo: Justin Poulsen

- - Promos

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Justin Poulsen 

Who printed it?
MSG Printing in Toronto

Who designed it?
Hans Thiessen at Rethink

Who edited the images?
The printed image was shot specifically for this project. The documentation images were edited by Hans and myself.
The post production was handled by myself.

How many did you make?
Originally there were 50. Due to the overwhelming response, I will be creating an additional 50 throughout the year for a grand total of 100.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This was my first promo. I hope to do it once or twice a year (not necessarily containing body parts).

How did the thumb idea emerge?
I was exchanging emails and brainstorming with Hans. We pulled together a rough list of ideas/talents I have that are uncommon. One of the ideas was to create physical thumb drives. We bounced back and forth between some other ideas, but the thumbs seemed to stick. I knew that I could pull it off because we had previously cast an entire fake hand and forearm in faux ice. Including the physical thumb drives in the promo allowed the recipient to have a small piece of the shoot, while also opening their eyes to some creative possibilities of our in-house prop building.

How did the thumbs get made?
First I cast my own thumb in a low durometer platinum cure silicone rubber. This specific rubber is commonly used in the special effect industry to have an almost-flesh-like feel. This “realistic feel” was further enhanced when paired with an internal skeleton (the rigid flash drive). The same silicone used in the thumbs also worked out to be a suitable mold rubber. Casting silicone in silicone, I used a urethane spray to ensure that the mold and thumb did not become one. I then painted/airbrushed using hand mixed solutions of FW ink + alcohol. To seal in the pigmentation the thumbs are sprayed with a solution of naphtha and silicone. With the future thumbs I’m moving to a completely silicone based pigmentation system, which is a slower process, but the end product is more durable.

Here’s a video demonstrating the process of creation

This Week In Photography Books: Roger Eberhard

by Jonathan Blaustein

I met Bruce Springsteen a long time ago. When I still lived in New Jersey. Back when he was a GOD.

It must have been 1992, or thereabouts. I was working in a restaurant in Sea Bright. Down the Shore. The joint was built right upon a brackish inlet, across the street from the Atlantic Ocean.

I’d heard that Bruce liked to show up in an open-topped red Jeep, with Patti in the passenger seat, and the kids in the back. So I HAD been warned. But still, I was not prepared for what it felt like, being in his presence.

My tenure there was rather short, as I ran my mouth a lot, and made the mistake of allowing someone to buy me a drink in the bar, after my shift. I was patently underage, and they got rid of me as quickly as they could. Not the last time I would be fired, but it stung.

So I was doubly-lucky to be working the night Bruce showed up. I stood in the front, near the parking lot, next to two cute hostesses. Bruce pulled up in that Jeep, and bow-leg-strutted straight up to me. There’s no solid explanation as to why he came my way, instead of talking to the pretty girls whose job it was to greet him.

But approach me he did. My palms were sweaty, like a large man in a steam room, and I did my best not to stammer.

“Of course, Bruce. We have a table for you. Of course. We’d be happy to help you and your family. We’re so glad you’re here.”

“Thanks, kid, thanks.”

“Oh, and Bruce? I’m going to your concert next week. I hate to ask, and hope you don’t mind, but is there any way you’d play ‘Blinded by the Light?'”

“Maybe, kid, maybe.”

He didn’t.

But I couldn’t hold it against him. In fact, that night in the restaurant, I put sugar packets under his table to stabilize it, and filled his children’s ice tea cups when they were two sips below the top of the glass. I was attentive in the extreme.

He didn’t seem to mind. Bruce must have been used to the pure adulation of native Jersey boys. Especially Down the Shore. (That’s the local expression for at the beach, for those of you reading this around the world.)

Sometimes, certain people find themselves sitting on top of a pedestal carved from Carrara Marble. They peer down at the rest of us, uncomfortable at such heights, but seem willing to adjust their balance to keep the seat. (With others, like Michael Jordan, you’ll have to cut out their hearts and chop off their heads before they’ll give up their rightful place atop the perch.)

In the Photobook world, one I’ve managed to cover for you, here, for more than 3.5 years, one name reigns supreme: Martin Parr. I’ve got two interviews that we’ll publish in the coming months, with two genuinely excellent photobook publishers, each of whom agreed that the planet is currently inundated with photobooks. (The streets are flowing with four-color pages, all with photographs embedded in ink.)

That’s the way it is these days. So if you’re Martin Parr, it’s a rather good time to be the King of Photobooks. At least, if you like having lots of subjects. (Long live the King.)

That being said, there are probably more people in Albuquerque who’ve heard of Michael Jordan than there are humans alive who’ve heard of Martin Parr. Our culture still needs a sub- in front of it, if we’re being honest.

So “Martin Parr Looking at Books” is definitely a niche product, as far as I’m concerned. It’s a new photobook by Roger Eberhard, published by B. Frank Books, that shows us exactly what the title claims: Martin Parr looking at (photo) books.

Clearly, this is not for everybody. Especially as the pictures are not-particularly-compelling. Mr. Eberhard gets around that fact by giving us a colorful front-cover, a mirror-metallic inside cover, and a few big-font pages with quotes establishing Mr. Parr’s preeminence.

Then, it’s photo after photo of nothing but what you’d expect, given what I’ve already told you. But it is funny. Not LOL funny, but chuckle and smile funny. Ridiculous. It’s a goof on all of us, yet a good-enough-goof that I’m writing about it.

Some of you have taken to the comment section recently to ask why I’d review a given book, when there are far-more-worthy offerings to discuss. I’m guessing some of you will share that sentiment this week. Here’s the only rule: if it inspires me to write, I write.

Before the close, we’re provided with some blank-lined-white pages, ostensibly to write up our own “Best Photobook of the Year List,” because Lord knows there aren’t enough of those already. Hilarious!

But then again, the pictures are not even special. Party Foul! The end notes tell us they were submitted, or provided, to the artist. It’s a collaborative effort, apparently, stalking Martin Parr, and taking his picture while he looks at books.

One can imagine a sister-publication where Robert Parker is photographed while sipping Cabernet Sauvignon? Seth Rogen smoking blunts? Or Bruce Springsteen, papparazzoed, while chowing down on greasy burgers Down the Shore?

Then end notes also claim that Mr. Parr appreciated the joke. I hope you do too. There are so, so many weeks when the books I write about explore tragedy, destruction, and sorrow. So today, “Lighten Up Francis,” and have a laugh at our collective-photo-geek selves.

Bottom Line: Zany, odd, niche photo book that skews itself, and us

Go here to purchase “Martin Parr Looking at Books”

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The Art of the Personal Project: Michael Rubenstein

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: Michael Rubenstein

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Carrie Ashley White 5/6/2011

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How long have you been shooting?
Ten years give or take.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Photography is a second career for me. My undergraduate degree is in Environmental Policy from Prescott College in Arizona. When I first started learning photography I was self taught with a lot of help from other photographers and hours pouring over photo books at Powells in Portland, Oregon. 

At some point I decided that I wanted some formal training and I attended the graduate program of the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University. It is a two year program. I completed one year and then took a contract position at the Oregonian in Portland, Oregon. I learned an immense  amount at the Oregonian from the many incredible photographers and from Mike Davis and Patty Reksten, my editors. I wouldn’t be able to see things the way I do if it wasn’t for them.  I stayed there for about 8 months and then freelanced in Portland. Until I moved to Mumbai in 2007.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I’ve always been interested in craftspeople. People who make very high end goods by hand in small workshops.  Its always been amazing to me that one person an make something that most often is produced by robots in a giant mass production facility, and make it better.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I shot the project for a few months before I started to show it, but its ongoing. I think I’ll always be shooting this project.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I’ll give it a few days of shooting before I look at it and say, “Do I continue to dedicate time and resources to you, or is this it?”

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Variety is the spice of life right? To me, the challenge is making something that speaks to me. Whether its on assignment or personal really doesn’t factor into it. Once I have the project, self assigned or not, I need to make the best of it.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yes, everywhere but Reddit.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
No not really.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes. I definitely have and they have responded very well to it. This project has helped me to get at least 2 or 3 commercial jobs and more than a handful of meetings.

Artist Statement:
While manufacturing continues its march towards automation the art of hand making beautiful and useful products is making a comeback. These people are at the pinnacle of design and craft. They produce the best of what they make in small workshops, the way things have been made for hundreds of years. As a documentarian it was my honor to photograph these men and women as they worked. 

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Michael Rubenstein is an editorial and commercial photographer and director based in New York City. He enjoys documenting interesting people and situations the world over. Before moving to New York he covered South Asia from his home in Mumai, India. His clients have included Merge Records, MasterCard, Budweiser, Saatchi and Saatchi, Nike, Yahoo!, The University of Massachusetts, Fordham University, AARP, NPR, The WSJ, The NYT, Mother Jones, Monocle and NBC News. 


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.

Pricing & Negotiating: Stock Contract For A Record Label

by Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

A photographer recently asked me to review a contract governing the license of his stock photographs to a record company. The record label (one of the largest in the country) was initially interested in using four of the photographer’s images of a musician performing live on the cover and interior of a vinyl record edition of the musician’s upcoming album. We were told that they planned to press and release 25,000 copies of the vinyl record, and that they had a firm budget of $2000.00. The fee didn’t seem to quite match the value of the images, but we asked if they could send over a contract to take a look at. That’s when things got interesting.

Here was the original contract:

Not surprisingly, the contract stated that the photographer would grant the copyright of his images to the record label. We quickly responded and pointed out that the contract didn’t match their requested use of the images, and they sent back another version of the contract removing the line about the copyright, while retaining the language about granting them “all rights.” It was clear that we weren’t on the same page, so it was time to bust out my red pen (aka Adobe Acrobat Pro PDF editing tools) and make some changes. Here is a revised version of the second contract they sent us:

I rewrote the entire first paragraph for a number of reasons. First, I didn’t like their language stating that the contract would “confirm” that they “purchased the rights” to the images. It was more appropriate to state that a specific licensing would be conveyed to them for a specific fee, and that was all dependent upon payment of that fee to the photographer in full. Second, none of the language regarding the “rights” to the images was accurate, so I drafted a new paragraph summarizing the fee and licensing that we had been discussing up until that point ($2,000 for four images on the cover and inside the vinyl record with a print run of up to 25,000 copies). I also stated that a credit in the name of the photographer would be required, which made the photographer more comfortable in justifying the less-than-favorable fee since he would be able to get some nice publicity out of the deal.

In addition to revising the first paragraph, I wanted to make it very clear that the record label would need to pay for any usage above and beyond what was described, so I clarified their language at the end of the second paragraph. Additionally, the label included an indemnification clause protecting them against any breach of the agreement by the photographer, and I added language stating that the label would similarly identify the photographer if they used the images in any way that got them into any legal trouble not at the fault of the photographer. Lastly, I struck out a portion of the third paragraph regarding amendments to the agreement because I felt it was a bit too vague. I wanted to make it clear that this document, once signed by both parties, would be the only document that solidified the agreement between both parties.

We sent the revised contract back and waited for a response. I should note that at this point, we were receiving pressure from the art administrator that we were working with as well as numerous other staff members at the record label who stated that we would need to sign the contract “by the end of the day” and that this negotiation was going to delay the release of the album while threatening to take the deal off the table if we weren’t willing to sign the contract as it was originally presented to us.

Wouldn’t you know, the next day they came back with some new information and wanted to negotiate a new price. I learned that they couldn’t limit the print run of the vinyl record to 25,000 copies, but they were however willing to pay more to lift any limitations on the quantity. They also insisted on being able to use the images to promote the album in various ways (although they didn’t want to define such use as advertising or collateral). We decided to ask for $4,000 (double their original budget) for use of the images on/in the first edition of the vinyl record (however many copies that may be), while also granting them the right to promote the record by using the images in their original context on/in the album. I didn’t feel that this fee was enough to include rights to use the images on merchandise such as t-shirts and posters, so we specifically excluded that from the contract. The record label verbally agreed to this on the phone, and then sent over a revised contract. Unfortunately (and again, not surprisingly) they failed to include many of the points we discussed in the new contract, and here is a revised version of what they sent us, which I returned to them:

Again, we received more disgruntled feedback from the record label, and they once again threatened to pull the deal off the table if we wouldn’t sign their contract by the end of the day. Standing firm on our revisions, we let them sleep on it.

We heard back from the label the next morning, and this time they let us know that they weren’t willing to limit the use of the images to just the vinyl record, as they were planning to release the album with the photographer’s images in CD and digital format as well. Additionally, they were concerned with our language regarding merchandising rights. As a negotiation point, the label asked for us to state that if their licensing was to exclude merchandising rights, then they also wanted to limit the photographer from using the images on merchandising in perpetuity as well. The photographer had no plan to create merchandise independently, however, we didn’t feel it was fare to limit the photographer’s ability to license his images for merchandising in the future, perhaps to another record label if the musician happened to jump ship. We decided to include language that limited the merchandising “embargo” to the length of the contractual relationship between the musician and the record label.

We also took these changes as another opportunity to renegotiate the fee. At this point, we had gone from $2,000 for use of the images on a limited number of vinyl albums, to $4,000 for use of the images on an unlimited number of vinyl record albums within the first edition plus promotional rights. Now we were jumping up to use of the images on all vinyl, cd and digital editions of the album plus promotional rights with the merchandising caveat I mentioned previously. Based on a few previous projects I’ve worked on (one of which you can read here), I knew the threshold for unlimited use for an album cover in many cases is around $6-10k plus expenses (sometimes) for a commissioned shoot, regardless of the number of images. Also those projects are frequently presented as a “take it or leave it” work made for hire. We decided to revise their contract once again with a fee of $6,000 (triple their original budget). Here is that version of the contract:

At this point, I was working directly with the Senior Vice President for Business and Legal Affairs at the record label. We actually had a very nice conversation (as opposed to the demanding correspondence from the other employees of the record label), and I think this was because at this point I was talking to the person governing the creation of the contract and development of the language included. Previously, I didn’t think our counterparts at the record label were doing a good job communicating the revisions we were requesting down the line, which is likely why they kept coming back to us with new contracts that didn’t correspond to our negotiations. Fortunately, after my conversation with this new contact, he provided a new, clean version integrating the changes, which was ultimately signed by both parties.

Here is the final version:

Hindsight: It’s ok to push back and negotiate rates, as long as you do it in a professional and cordial manner. Many times projects are presented to photographers as works made for hire, or with a “take it or leave it” mentality (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if the rate is appropriate), but while sometimes the clients are firm, there should always be a conversation about possible ways to negotiate better rates or terms. Record labels are perhaps the most notorious clients for less-than-favorable rates and contractual terms, but I’ve successfully amended and negotiated multiple contracts to make them more favorable to the photographer.

A few months later while walking back to my hotel after a shoot in New York City, I saw one of the images on a flyposting stuck on a wall near Times Square. The image was used in its original context on the cover of the album as agreed to in the contract (which I was happy to see compliance of), and while it’s hard to say whether these postings are advertising in its true meaning or not (paid placement), it made me wish the record label paid even more for the licensing given the exposure.

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

The Daily Edit – Mark Hanauer: We Transfer

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We Transfer

Photographer: Mark Hanauer

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Heidi: What sparked your interest in submitting to We Transfer?
Mark: I had been using We Transfer for some time. It’s a great service for sending large files to clients and colleagues over the web. I enjoyed a lot of the graphics that they used on their site and one day I decided to send them a series of images that I thought were appropriate for their format.

Which images did you send and how many where sent/accepted?
Basically the images are horizontal with a lot of free space. To my delight they have used a handful of them. All of the images that I sent to We Transfer have been personal images from my travels, three from India and one from Central California. I don’t recall how many images that I sent to them, but I am very happy with what they have used. And they are appreciative as well, nice credit on the page and they share the contribution on Twitter and Facebook.

You’ve been drawn to photographing artists, why is this?
My first job assisting a commercial photographer was for Malcolm Lubliner. He had a studio on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood that adjoined Gemini GEL. 95% of what Malcolm did was for Gemini. I recall my first day at work Malcolm giving me a tour of Gemini and I was mesmerized. The produce fine art lithography and silkscreen printing, very old-world style. Gemini would invite artists to print at their press, the likes of Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, the list is amazing and I was instantly drawn to the work that was created there. We photographed every print that Gemini produced. I learned more about photographic technique there than anywhere I have studied or worked. It was also a great intro for me into the fine art world, something that was very new to me.

I enjoy a vicarious thrill looking through my camera at people that do extraordinary visual work, painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, dance, sports. I love seeing what artists do and I marvel at the process. Working with Julie Mehretu at her studio in Berlin was a remarkable experience. I spent a week photographing Julie, her staff and the studio for a museum catalogue. To have that kind of  time to record her working was amazing. I love to do more in-depth projects like that. Whenever I have time, I try to get together with local artists whose work that I enjoy to create a portrait or something in the moment that gives me joy.

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Tell us about your personal project.
My personal project is currently titled, Negative Space. It’s an idea that has been floating in my head for the last two weeks. The idea is based on something that I remember from a painting teacher in elementary school about the parts of a canvas where the subject isn’t. What do yo do with that space where there is nothing? Generally I think of an idea and by the time I pick up the camera, the idea has transformed into something else. We will see what happens….

The Daily Promo – John Hafner

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John Hafner

Who printed it?
My promo book was printed by Blurb. It’s a Trade Book, 6X9.

Who designed it?
A graphic artist friend of mine, Paul Allen, in Missoula, Montana designed it.

Who edited the images?
Paul and I both edited the images. I did an initial edit, and then had him weigh in on which pics would make the strongest presentation. It’s really tough to edit objectively, and it’s important to
have a neutral set of eyes to narrow the selections. Just because a pic might be one of my favorites doesn’t mean it would add any value to my promo. The end result is, I think, a good mix of product/studio shots, people/portraits, wildlife and documentary that conveys the scope of what I shoot.

How many did you make?
This was actually my first hardcopy promo. My marketing and promo work has largely been digital. I’ve sent out several PDFs and e-books, which have been quick, cheap, simple and very effective. But this year, I wanted to have something more substantial; something that was portable yet impactful that my clients, and prospective clients  would hang onto and reference.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
The promo features some of my best work from 2014. I chose to include a pic of me in the field to give clients a sense of who I am and how/where I work. I primarily shoot for hunting and fishing markets, and my clients need to know that I, too, am an outdoorsman. This gives them the assurance that I know the industry, their brand and their customer. It’s vital that I can tell my clients’ stories not just creatively but also authentically.

What shoot is the opening spread from and whose paw is that?
The opening spread features some pics from a shoot I did last December with the guys from Duck Dynasty. Not only was it one of the more memorable and fun shoots from 2014, it’s great to have their super-famous facial hair in my portfolio. I also included a partial client list to give prospective clients a sense of my experience in the outdoor industry. And I included client and location info. for each pic in the book.

And yes, that’s my Golden Retriever/office manager/page turner/paw model, Shiley, in the promo pics.

This Week In Photography Books: Alexandra Huddleston

by Jonathan Blaustein

Today is Tuesday. The day I’m writing this. Tuesday.

But it’s also Friday. Because that’s when you’re reading it. Friday. Strange, no? The existence of twin temporalities? It’s enough to give me a headache.

Fortunately, that prospective malady will be the only one I complain about today. Because I’m finally feeling better. It only took 3 weeks, but hey, who’s counting?

Today (Friday) is no ordinary day, though. It’s Good Friday, which is holy in the Christian tradition, because it was first holy to the Jews. Jesus’ last supper was a Seder, because he was Jewish, which explains why Passover and Easter always seem connected.

They are.

If you were here in Northern New Mexico today, (Friday) and you drove along the highway, you might see pilgrims walking along the side of the road. There are hordes of them who head from all directions towards Chimayo, where they’ll convene to pray, and commune with the seemingly-sacred healing dirt.

I don’t know much about it, to be honest. But I do know that I’m sitting here in a mostly empty classroom, today, because many of my students celebrate. Some of them are even on a pilgrimage of their own, walking South from Costilla, on the Colorado border, to Questa, 20 miles away.

I should have asked them why they do it, but it didn’t cross my mind at the time. 20 miles is a long stretch, if you ask me. So I’d guess the suffering relates to the nasty business Jesus faced at the end of his life.

People often feel the need to walk until their bodies are begging to give out. To push their flesh to the breaking point, in the hope that their spirits will ascend to new knowledge planes. I’ve been known to drive to the Post Office, a mile away, so I’m clearly not one of those people.

But Alexandra Huddleston is. And she’s a New Mexican to boot. So perhaps we might learn a thing or two from her experience.

I know this having just looked through “East or West: A Walking Journey Along Shikoku’s 88 Temple Pilgrimage” her new book, published by Blind Cat Valentine. As I said earlier this year, I’m trying to expand my definition of a reviewable book, and this one helps me do just that.

Apparently, in September of 2010, Ms. Huddleston set off on an 800 mile walk around the Japanese island of Shikoku, so she could follow the Buddhist pilgrim’s trail to the aforementioned 88 temples. Her diary entries, which are included within, seem to indicate that she made the trek over 7 weeks time. Which means her feet must have been really f-cking tired, when all was said and done. (Her blisters must have had blisters.)

The intro text also mentions that she completed the 500 mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain the year prior, which means 1300 miles all told, in search of understanding in two religions. East and West.

Now, the reason why I’d normally not review this book is that the pictures are not amazing. They’re very good, for sure, but I normally prefer a shade more pizazz. More oomph. More edge.

But they are personal, and in conjunction with the diary entries, which tell tales of poisonous centipedes, Korean monks, and free mochi, I get a real sense of who Ms. Huddleston is, and what she’s searching for in this life.

The book is intimate, and thoughtful, and it feels like something she’s sharing with the world, even though it was really meant for her. A way to flesh out her thoughts, to codify her memories, and to honor her journey.

That’s my takeaway, at least, and I felt that it was worth sharing with you, today (Friday? Tuesday?) so that we could acknowledge the power of other peoples’ beliefs, and wish them well as they pray, walk, and ponder.

Bottom Line: A personal, pilgrim’s journey around a Japanese island

Go Here To Purchase “East or West: A Walking Journey Along Shikoku’s 88 Temple Pilgrimage”

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The Art of the Personal Project: Paolo Marchesi

- - Working

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: Paolo Marchesi

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How long have you been shooting?
20 years

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I went to Brooks Institute of Photography

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Living in Montana I had seen many rodeos, some smaller and others bigger and more commercialized. I find the bigger, more commercialized, rodeos to eventually get repetitive and not so interesting. Shooting the high school rodeo took all the commercial aspect out and it made it for a true experience. I was blown away by how good and tough these kids were. They are the real deal cowboys.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I had shot many rodeos over the years of living in Montana but none touched me as much as this one. You could truly feel the tension and energy. These kids and their parents put their soul into it and it showed.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I tend to get distracted too easily by my many interests. I find it difficult to shoot the same thing over and over. I usually move from personal project to personal project. I like to experience it all and if you look at my body of work it shows. At times it can be detrimental as people like to see photographers who specialize.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I never shoot for my portfolio, my personal work is my portfolio. Since the beginning of my career as a photographer I only photographed things that I was passionate about or involved in. I never specifically photographed subjects that might sell or get me a job. If I am not interested in them I don’t shoot them. I became a photographer by documenting my lifestyle and activities I participate in.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I post on facebook and instagram. I started writing short stories in chapters on Instagram and has been fun. I love story telling using images and words. I just finished three stories about my dogs that had quite some success. You can check them out on Instagram @marchesiphoto

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Yes, I had a picture of a trout jumping and a river surfing story I wrote and photographed that went viral. For sure great press but I can’t associate much monetary gain from it.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes, I have printed them as promos.

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It all started with that trout at age 4. It was a beautiful morning on the Sesia River in the Italian Alps. Who would have known that a fish could change someone’s life forever. Many years and more fish went by before I graduated in Design from The Istituto Europeo Di Design, in Milan. I worked as a Junior Art Director in Paris and as a designer in Italy until I picked up a camera. It didn’t take long to realize that T squares and rulers weren’t for me. I grabbed the camera and flew across the Atlantic to move to Santa Barbara California where I graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography with a Degree in Commercial Photography. Upon graduation I packed my bags and moved to San Francisco. San Francisco is a cool city, and no one can deny it but every time I drove to Hat Creek or the Owens River to fly fish or the Sierras to climb something happened inside me. The peace and beauty of rivers and mountains inspired me and raised many questions. I had been working in the city for 5 years, doing mostly digital and studio photography until one day stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge on my way to Yosemite I asked myself why? I watched the driver next to me honk in anger at the stranger in front of him and asked myself why again? I asked myself why many times until in spring 1999 I packed everything and moved to Montana. I wanted to be closer to my cold blooded friends and nature, away from stress and a crowded existence. A few years later, while visiting my brother in Indonesia, I discovered surfing and rekindled my passion for the Ocean. I realized I needed surf and Ocean in my life to have a complete picture. I decided to buy a house in Todos Santos, Mexico and have been splitting my life between the two places. Working worldwide from Mexico and Montana focusing my photography on the outdoor activities I love to do and being outside in nature in search for a new adventure. Couldn’t do it any differently…


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

The Daily Edit – Jen Judge: Virtuoso Life

- - The Daily Edit

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Virtuoso Life

Art Director: Melanie Prasetyo Fowler
Photo Researcher: Mary Risher
Photographer: Jen Judge

Heidi: How often do you and your husband get hired as a team, are you promoting yourselves that way?
Jen: It’s something of a work in progress. Aaron and I have been working together on and off for about ten years. In the beginning, we found that most editors wanted the freedom and flexibility to hire writers and photographers independently. But as we’ve built relationships with editors over the years, they’ve learned that we produce really good work together (and we’re not just trying to score freebie trips). So we’ve been working together more and more, probably about 30% of the time. With the changing media world, we’re also taking steps to begin formally promoting ourselves as a team.

How did this assignment come about?
This is a story that Aaron has been wanting to write since our first trip to Namibia in 2005, and the country’s investment and dedication to wildlife conservation in the last few years had him looking for timely opportunities. Sometimes it’s just a matter of patience and persistence to get a story placed. So when the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) announced its annual conference in Namibia, we took it as the perfect opportunity, and he pitched the story to Virtuoso Life, a publication we regularly work for as a team and they loved the idea.

What was the biggest obstacle you faced with this project?
This was my first “re-assignment.” I had some anxiety about this trip for a number of reasons.

In 2005, Aaron was working as an editor and staffer at Outside magazine and had a story in Namibia for their travel title, Outside Traveler. At the time, I had a full time job in marketing in Santa Fe but was trying to return to my work in photography. So we convinced Outside to let me go with him and photograph the story. The only caveat, since I was a complete unknown, they wouldn’t assign it but would buy stock if they liked what I shot. Upon my return, they liked the images, but my employer didn’t like the time I’d taken off and fired me. Outside hired me for a Las Vegas feature a few months later, other publications saw my work, and the the rest was history. The idea of going back to a place that was the pivotal moment of my photography career was scary and exciting at the same time. I was curious to see how my vision had changed, but I was also nervous about trying to shoot the same thing over again. The fact that Aaron and I both independently won national magazine awards for this feature means a lot.

Travel assignments are the crown jewel for most photographers, what’s your best advice for someone wanting to break into this market?
Travel. You can’t get travel assignments if your work only show cases “local” travel work. Editors need to know you can handle yourself in foreign countries. Language barriers and local customs can be tough to deal with and can often make or break getting a great shot. Being able to adapt to your surroundings and set locals at ease is key.

How many days were you there traveling? and did you have a guide /driver?
Twelve days including travel to and from Namibia via South Africa. We were nine days on the ground. There was no driver, but a pilot flew us about the country.

How difficult was the edit and how many images do you typically turn in?
Edits are always hard. I love making photographs but I get a little stir crazy sitting in front of my computer for hours. I wouldn’t say this edit was any harder than others. The story and the length of time on the ground usually dictates how many images I shoot for a given story. This story was longer than most, so I shot more, about 5,000 images in total. I only like to turn in images I’m really excited about, so I typically submit about 200 and specifically call out about 50 of my favorites.

Does the job usually cover any type of shots, visas, immunizations?
It depends on the destination. As American citizens, we have a lot of flexibility and relatively easy access to other countries, which helps tremendously. For example, in Namibia visa’s were obtained on arrival and no immunizations were required. By contrast, Senegal required a long list of vaccines, and I’ve actually had to turn down two assignments to Brazil because I couldn’t get a visa in time. So every story and country is different.

With so much beauty and intrigue in front of you, is it hard to put down your camera? You must be constantly shooting since everything appears to be beautiful. How do you decide what to photograph (aside from the magazine’s shot list, if there is one)?
Since I was traveling with my husband (and writer), I didn’t get any shot list. We were creating the shot list as we went. In some ways, it’s harder to shoot in tandem with a writer. It means I have to cover everything we do because it’s all a work in progress and you don’t yet know what will or won’t be in the story. In those cases, I am always on.

Over the years, though, I’ve really had to learn to make myself step back. If I shoot constantly, I get overstimulated and don’t produce my best imagery. So I really work hard to conceptualize a few great shots a day and then go out and get them. It’s my way of being proactive and creating what I want versus running around and making mediocre pictures of a lot of things. Ultimately, I aim for variety and continue to check my image library each night to make sure I’m hitting all the bases. Great landscapes, people, architecture, lifestyle and culture, food, flora and fauna—and all at a variety of focal lengths.

Best local food and drink you enjoyed?
Any wild game is amazing, but in particular I love oryx. It’s the most tender, deep red, lean, and flavorful meat I’ve ever had, and I could eat it daily, washed down with a local brew of Windhoek beer, of course.

The Daily Promo – Josh Ritchie

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Heidi: Who printed it?
Josh: After searching around for a reasonably priced printer, since I was getting 1200 prints done at an odd size, I decided to go with a local print house, Dale Laboratories in Hollywood, FL. They were fast (they printed it same day within 3 hours), cheap, and most importantly their quality was exceptional.

Who designed it?
It was sort of a design by committee. It start with a chat with Andrea Maurio who edits a lot of my material. After we came up with a single image idea I tossed it around with fellow freelancer and very close friend Melissa Lyttle. She suggested that I turn the single image idea into a 12 image calendar. From there we both brain stormed both ideas for the images and the presentation until we came up with something I felt fit me while being sleek and functional. I ended up designing and constructing the wooden stands myself spending more that a week covered in sawdust in my driveway cutting, sanding and recutting just to get the perfect 4 x 4 block of wood. My wife began to think I was more of a lumberjack than a photographer.

Who edited the images?
This again was done by committee. Melissa Lyttle, Ed Linsmier, David Holloway, and many other photographer friends all weighed in on what they thought worked best. There was a lot of back and forth on what holidays to use and what techniques to shoot with as well as what final images to use.

How many did you make?
In total I made 100. I gave out a copy to everyone who participated and ended up sending out like 85 to potential clients.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I send out an email promo 6 times a year, a print promo 6 times a year, and one special promo each year.

Did the calendar idea emerge from wanting to have a functional promo?
The thought behind the calendar was that I wanted a way to keep my images in front of potential clients as long as possible. After the initial idea grew into a calendar I knew it would allow me to do two things : First it would allow me to allow me to explore the making of the images a little deeper than I did when I first shot them at the Eddie Adams Workshop, and second it would allow me to keep my work in front of clients for a full year.

Did you match certain images with the months?
Yes. Once I decided to do a calendar I wrote out all of the months and started brainstorming for images ideas. Some months like December, January, October were easy. Other months like May, June, September were a bit harder. For any month that did not have a well known holiday I started writing down ideas and then looked from props that would fit my budget. For May the ideas was May flowers. September was the start of football season. June was BBQ season. After I had the idea’s firmed up I then went out and bought backgrounds in various colors to try and match a color to the time of the year. I then recruited friends and family for the shoot.

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Where did the idea for the leaf blower come from?
The idea for the leaf blower came from some shots I had seen from an ad campaign. Off hand I forget what campaign it was but I like the idea and I stashed it away for a rainy day.

Here’s some BTS and one more.

How did you pitch this to talent?
My friends and family are pretty awesome so it didn’t take much convincing, although I did get some strange looks. I told them the plan and for the most part everyone bought into the idea right away. The ones who were on the fence jumped in with both feet once they found out they would be able to use the leaf blower on someone else. It is amazing what you can get people to do if you tell them they will be able to make someone else look foolish as well. I guess we all have a dark side

This Week In Photography Books: Ingvar Kenne

by Jonathan Blaustein

I often reference movies in this column. Have you noticed? You must have. Otherwise, you haven’t been paying attention.

What’s wrong with you? Why would you bother coming here, every Friday, if you weren’t going to pay attention?

What’s that? You do pay attention? I’m making unfair accusations? Jumping to conclusions based upon spurious assumptions?

I’m sorry. Forgive me. After 17 days of being under-the-weather, I’m grumpier than an alcoholic-undercover-Russian-soldier, fighting in Eastern Ukraine, after the daily vodka ration’s run out.

But I often find a good photo book will make me think of a film, and once the idea’s in my head, the fingers dance upon the keyboard like a Spring Break frat boy trying to impress a bevy of pretty ladies. (Sadly, it’s all in the hips, but most meat-heads are not flexible enough to move them.)

The movie I’ve got in mind at present is “Groundhog Day.”

Such. A. Classic.

Harold Ramis, RIP, had all sorts of Buddhist motivations, but nobody laughs in Meditation group, so he clearly needed Bill Murray’s genius to make this one fly. What a scenario. You wake up every day, and it’s the same day all over again.

How long did it take Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, to turn to a life of crime and perpetual suicide? Not that long. Monotony is a killer, even if you CAN fill your day torturing groundhogs, eating pancakes, or chasing after peak-hotness Andie MacDowell.

In the end, we all learn a valuable lesson, through Phil’s evolution towards enlightenment: Life without growth and change is meaningless. Even fun stops being fun, when that’s all you know. (When you’re trapped in a pleasure prison of your own making.)

Where is this coming from? Clearly, I’m not talking about me, because you already know I’ve been sick for two-and-a-half weeks. No, I haven’t had much fun at all.

I’m thinking, rather, of “The Hedgehog and The Foxes,” a new book that turned up in my mailbox recently, all the way from Australia. It was made by photographer Ingvar Kenne, produced by the MAUD design studio, and forced me to ask the questions, above, for reasons I will elucidate for you. Now.

This book is about the legendary porn star Ron Jeremy. He may be the man living the oddest existence on Earth, or at least, the one with the least-expected life.

Have you ever seen Ron Jeremy?

I’d like to think we all have, but then again, not a safe assumption. Though this is the second book I’ve reviewed this year that delves into pornography, I should probably mention I’m no expert on the subject. But I’ve certainly seen Ron Jeremy’s ugly mug in the past, and I might have even seen his private parts.

The story is that his johnson is so prodigious that he’s had a long-standing career sticking it into various orifices, for money. It was never about his looks, or his sad sack physique. Always, it was about his penis.

Mr. Kenne got to spend some quality time in the presence of “The Hedgehog” as he bounced from one vapid party to the next. He seems to have always been in the company of ladies, some of whom are very attractive. He signs boobs with sharpies, and shoves his hands up women’s pants, presumably at their request.

Through it all, Ron Jeremy exudes an Angst that would chill Vladimir Putin’s soul, if it weren’t already in cryogenic territory. Wow, do I feel bad for this guy. He seems so depressed, amongst the depravity, that I doubt he’s even capable of crying anymore.

Trapped in a world of his own making. A scenario many men would kill for, so I’m told. Getting paid to have sex with pretty women. But I wouldn’t trade places with “The Hedgehog” for all the money in the world.

Kudos to the artist for really showing no boobs or butts or cocks at all. The book is essentially clean, focusing on the emotional tenor of the tale, rather than the dirty goodies. We see the story unfold with lots of black-page-breaks, enhancing the noir quality.

In the middle, Mr. Kenne manages to zoom in and zoom out at the same time, as the contact-sheet-style gives us smaller images, but many more of them. It makes it feel like we’re there for every moment, rather than just the best shots.

There’s a sad poem at the end, which gives words to those emotions. Apparently, all Ron Jeremy ever wanted was to be a serious actor. To be known for his talent, rather than his member. A letter, which the artist included in his packet, states that despite being in each other’s company for close to 24 hours, “no show of human interest and interaction took place between” Ron Jeremy and the artist. (Again, the pictures gave that one away too.)

Apparently, there’s a short documentary video that accompanies the book, and a Limited Edition too, but I’m not sure what they’re about. I don’t want to know, really. Because I need to put on a stupid movie, right now, to wash the bad taste out of my mouth.

Bottom Line: Very well made book that shows us the road to Hell is paved with good intentions

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The Art of the Personal Project: Agnes Lopez

- - 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: Agnes Lopez

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Full disclosure Agnes is a client of mine.

How long have you been shooting?
Professionally since 2003. Many years before that, my brother-in-law bought a Minolta Maxxum 9000 for me from a pawn shop as a gift because he knew I was interested in photography.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self-taught. I got my start as a stylist for commercial photographers, so I picked up a lot on set. I would watch the photographers closely to see how they worked and then go off and practice on my own with local models, taking my film to Walgreens to get developed and scanned. I also took some classes at the local community college, where I learned how to use a darkroom and print my work. Cutting my teeth shooting film still influences the way I shoot today. I tend to be very calculating and specific when I finally hit the shutter.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
In the past three years I’ve made a move into photographing food and food lifestyle images, though mostly for editorial, so I wanted to prove to myself that I could produce a full concept from start to finish.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I shot the project early last year and presented it about a month after the last day of shooting.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
When I plan a project, I spend a day or two scouting and a few days laying out my vision. I’ll break down the day into a detailed schedule so I can get the absolute most out of my time.

On the day of, I just try to feel it out. I shoot a few frames and don’t try to force it. Since it’s personal work, I give myself the freedom to move onto the next shot if a particular setup isn’t working.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Shooting personal work is more about the process for me. What I ultimately get from the shoot doesn’t have to be a set of portfolio images; I want to learn and grow from something outside of what I do every day.

In my day job shooting for a monthly magazine, I’m usually given a short amount of time and specific parameters for the images I’m producing. With personal work, I’m able to take as long as I need and can experiment with different lighting setups and compositions. The hope is always to bring what I do with my personal projects into the other work I do.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Occasionally. I will be posting more of it this year after I finish the project I’m working on now.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Not yet, but I plan to do more of it and keep putting it out there for people to see.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Some of the images from this shoot are in my current portfolio, which is primarily my food work.

Artist’s Statement

I had this idea to focus on cocktails and how bartenders make them. I pitched my idea to a package store in my area, the Grape and Grain Exchange, which sells small batch liquors and has a bar up front where they offer really unique drinks.

The bartenders are serious about what they do but they’re also funny guys. My goal was to show the bartenders in their element and how their personalities go into the drinks they make.

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Agnes is an editorial and food lifestyle photographer with a home base in the historic Riverside-Avondale neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida and is available for assignments worldwide.

From documenting the effort that goes into preparing a pop-up dining event or photographing the fine cuisine of a AAA Five Diamond Award-winning restaurant, Agnes traverses the Southeastern US and beyond with her camera in search of inspiration and exceptional meals.

Her work can be seen regularly in the pages of Jacksonville Magazine and its other publications, Taste, Home, and 904 Magazine.


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.