The Art of the Personal Project: Judd Lamphere

- - 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: Judd Lamphere

Old dogs photographed at Reciprocity Studio in Burlington by Vermont photographer Judd Lamphere

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Old dogs photographed at Reciprocity Studio in Burlington by Vermont photographer Judd Lamphere

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Old dogs photographed at Reciprocity Studio in Burlington by Vermont photographer Judd Lamphere

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Old dogs photographed at Reciprocity Studio in Burlington by Vermont photographer Judd Lamphere

Old dogs photographed at Reciprocity Studio in Burlington by Vermont photographer Judd Lamphere

Old dogs photographed at Reciprocity Studio in Burlington by Vermont photographer Judd Lamphere

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How long have you been shooting?
I’ve been shooting professionally for about 12 years now, but my love for photography began in my high school darkroom. I was fortunate enough to have access to a great art program back then. In fact, my high school arts program put many students on the path to professional careers in the arts.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I received a BS in Biomedical Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2006.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
It was my best friend’s dog Roxanne. I had known Roxy since, well, since we were all puppies, really. I saw her carry him through some of the hardest times in his life. The relationship was beautiful, and for a time, it felt like it would stay that way forever. As Roxanne got older, her black coat became lined with silver accents, and she mellowed out a lot from the rebellious teenager she used to be. Yet, she retained this kind of pride in herself. She carried herself with a sense of stateliness. But even more than that, was this bond between the two of them, this unconditional love for one another. My friend had to slowly start saying goodbye to his best friend one day at a time. I wanted to help him through this really difficult time, and the only thing I could think to do was take a picture.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I started showing pictures on my blog almost immediately. Friends started sharing links to my work on social media, and soon I had people lining up to have portraits made of their best friends too.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
That’s a tricky question for me. I find my personal work comes in waves, with moments of cresting productivity followed by troughs. As such, it can take me awhile, maybe even two years, before I’ve explored a body of work to the point where I can tell myself if it’s succeeding or not.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I love when the work is different. Variety is the spice of life, and it keeps me growing professionally and personally. The great thing about personal work is that it’s ok to fail. Real growth emerges from failure.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Typically I will only share a link to my blog on social media, out of various copyright concerns. This is for my professional and personal projects that I’ve edited closely. I’ll use Instagram or Facebook for fun “behind-the-scenes” type shots that I’m not concerned about. I did share a body of work through Reddit/Imgur, but this was a series of vertical landscape panoramas I did, and was just for fun.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
My old dogs project picked up a lot of interest locally and was featured in 7days (Burlington’s go-to free alternative weekly), and a local news story.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I have actually! I print and mail postcards to small, targeted groups of clients I really want to work with.

What do you want to do with this personal project?
My long-term goal for this project is to assemble a photo book, perhaps through some form of crowdfunding or self-publication. The idea is to have proceeds from the book go into a fund to help support the adoption of senior dogs.

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Judd Lamphere received a BS in Biomedical Photography with concentrations in Photojournalism and Creative Writing from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2006. He has since worked as a photo editor, production manager, landscape and editorial photographer in a number of areas including advertising, editorial, travel, nonprofit, government organizations and outdoor adventure.

Judd has worked with a number of periodicals and organizations including The Wall Street Journal, Triathlete Magazine, Boston Globe Magazine and Greenpeace, though his true passion for photography lies in his personal work, ranging from portraits of Old Dogs for charity to his exploratory landscape series Architecture of Energy.

Judd is also a co-founder of Reciprocity Studio, a commercial studio in Burlington, Vermont whose clients include Seventh Generation, Tata Harper Skin Care, Caledonia Spirits and more.


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.

Hustle Is The Secret Ingredient In Professional Photography

- - Agents, Working

Guest Post by Cybele Sandy, AUGUST

I was having coffee with a colleague the other day and remarked that I felt that in terms of making it in New York as a photographer, talent was only a small part of the battle. My colleague’s answer? “Oh, I actually think talent counts for only 30% of the equation”. This from an executive at one of the top-tier media conglomerates.

Increasingly, I’ve come to the conclusion that hustle is the secret ingredient.

I’ve been in the business for a decade now and I am still amazed that getting to look at art, all the livelong day, is my job. It’s something I truly love: communing with artists, delving into their process and getting them where they need to be professionally is what has made this stage of my career (I’ve at various times been a television producer, in-house marketing executive for a restaurant chain and co-founder of a fashion non-profit) so incredibly fulfilling.

However, the time I’ve logged has taught me a great deal in terms of who makes it and who doesn’t. Leslie Sweeney, one of the founders of the iconic firm Art + Commerce, once remarked to me that “this is such a subjective business”. You go with your gut a lot, what appeals to you viscerally. The first impression I get when I review a portfolio is generally the truest. I have an especially soft spot for new artists, the kids who are only just beginning to dip their toes into these murky waters.
There are so many gifted shooters out there, who seemingly keep missing that big break, while others with less ability seem to move forward effortlessly. What is it, really, that separates the wheat from the chaff? What accounts for the rise and longevity of a Martin Schoeller or an Inez and Vinoodh?
I think the secret ingredient is hustle.

If I may, therefore, I’d like to line up what I believe fuels that flame:

1. Work. It’s not enough to be a good shooter anymore. There’s so much out there visually that standing out truly takes a borderline obnoxious form of persistence. In my own day-to-day, I’ve realized that to get things done, to get through to the people with whom I want to develop partnerships or cultivate as clients, I have to keep knocking at that door constantly. So too must the artist. The good news is that your natural creative bent will allow you to dream up ways to distinguish yourself without becoming a pain. Don’t be discouraged. Keep pushing.

2. Promotion, Including Lo-Fi. A photographer with a defined promotional strategy wins the day. Social media and online promotional activities are huge and important, but their very ubiquity in today’s business transactions makes a printed piece all the more distinctive. In defining your promotional budget (and you should have one) set aside funds for at least 1 printed piece that lands on the desks of the editorial staff or art buyers you’d like to work with. I’m a particular fan of useful promotions, so think of what you’d appreciate. Talk to an editor about his/ her workday and perhaps an ingenious idea may emerge, for example: a beautifully wrapped box with 5 prints in varying sizes, perfect for the office or home gallery wall. You’d be remembered because that sort of thing rarely happens and people love to get an unexpected package in the mail.

3. A Head for Business. Signing with an Agent does not abdicate your responsibility to know what is being done and what has been signed on your behalf. Take the time to read your contracts. In the digital age, they have become increasingly complex, as companies of all stripes recognize the content value and longevity of the images they commission. Often artists are so eager to be on board with a title, they will go straight to the signature page, only to discover later on that they’ve signed away all their rights. Even if you agree to take a hit financially for exposure, sit with the Assigning Editor and see what else they might be able to do in terms of promotion that might be helpful to you. Maybe you do a piece for the magazine on selfies that slides in some of your personal work. Or perhaps you can negotiate for 2-3 advertorials, that both pay and align you with a big brand. And when you do get an Agent, be sure they’re a good fit. Do your due diligence and ensure that they have the relationships they claim to, because we necessarily talk a good game. Insist on a 12 month plan-of-action and check in often to review how things are going and adjust strategy if necessary. As I once told an artist having issues with his Assignment Agent: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

4. Network Cultivation. Be out. Be visible. If you’re not a social animal, unfortunately you’ll have to become “that guy”. When I first started, I realized that a lot of important stuff gets discussed during the inevitable smoke breaks, so I made sure I was out there too. I’ve witnessed photographers get jobs over cocktails. If you’re not a drinker, corral a few editors for a coffee. Go to the openings of established artists- there are sure to be influential people present. And be prepared for opportunity with a quick little flip book on your phone and a sleek business card.

5. Shoot. A Lot. While you’re building your network, hone your art. Stretch yourself. One of the things I admire about the incredible Inez and Vinoodh is that they never settle. They are at the top of their game but they are always reaching, as if they only started yesterday and that’s why their work is consistently surprising and brilliant. I’m also still a big fan of technical prowess- you should know the correct way to light a set, for example, and not rely on the “take-a-ton-of-pictures-and-hope-some-come-out-right” methodology. All of this takes practice.

6. Niceness. We’re all human and people like to work with the people they like. Personality counts heavily toward landing an assignment and if you’re overbearing or throw up a wall in the face of suggestions, no one is going to want to spend hours dealing with that. This is particularly important during celebrity assignments. An A-list cover shoot has made (and broken) many a career. You want publicists to go: “The photographer has to be X” aka you.
That said, you need to be able to be the boss of your set. Be polite but firm, in charge but open.

The moral of the story? Anything worth having requires planning and considerable effort. This is applicable to anything in life, but particularly necessary in making it in the arts in a city teeming with talent.

Guest Post by Cybele Sandy, AUGUST

The Daily Edit – Marv Watson Photographer / Photo Editor

- - The Daily Edit

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The Mid Season Invitational of League of Legends 2015 Season, held at the David Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee, FL, USA on 8 May, 2015.

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TIP and Team Liquid go head-to-head in the third/fourth place matchup of the North American LCS Playoffs, held in Santa Monica, CA, USA on 18 April, 2015. Team Liquid ran out eventual winners, overcoming their rivals 3-2, twice coming from behind.

The final match up at the Mid Season Invitational of League of Legends 2015 Season, between SKT (Korea) and EDG (China), held at the David Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee, FL, USA on 10 May, 2015. The event was won by EDG, who came from a game down, to triumph 3-2.

Members of team EDG cheer on their team

 

The final match up at the Mid Season Invitational of League of Legends 2015 Season, between SKT (Korea) and EDG (China), held at the David Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee, FL, USA on 10 May, 2015. The event was won by EDG, who came from a game down, to triumph 3-2.

Soren 'Bjergson' Bjerg poses for a portrait in Santa Monica, CA, USA on 9 January, 2016.

Soren ‘Bjergson’ Bjerg of Team SoloMid

 

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Chae "Piglet" Gwang-jin, of Team Liquid, poses for a portrait in Santa Monica, CA, USA on 28 May, 2015.

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BlizzCon 2014 at the Anaheim Convention Center, in Anaheim, CA, USA on 8 November, 2014.

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Marv Watson

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How did you get involved with eSports, are you a gamer?

No, actually, I’m not. I would love to get into some of the games, even on a beginner level, but alas I don’t have the time to commit. I kind of fell into eSports very serendipitously. Red Bull started doing eSport events a few years ago, and I was asked to shoot one of those, which led to another assignment shooting purely editorial coverage of a third-party event, which was actually the 2013 World Championships of League of Legends. Coincidentally, a Red Bull colleague went to work for Riot Games, and threw my name in the mix, and I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with their events since then.

How is shooting this different from shooting a live sport event which I know you often do for Red Bull?
Well, I’d say the main difference is the fact that it’s such a static thing that’s going on. The players are obviously super engrossed in the game, and in the zone, and not much really happens on stage. With the Red Bull events I’ve shot, such as Double Pipe (a double-halfpipe snowboard event), or a Flugtag, there’s a ton of things going on, with a lot of movement; you’re looking to capture the peak/grab of a snowboard trick, or the best angle to show a craft in ‘flight’ so you’re constantly on the move. Naturally eSports doesn’t involve a lot of movement; most of the times the players don’t show much emotion on stage, unless they win the tie (it’s a multi-game format, say best of 5), so I’m always looking to show the energy of the whole event, be it by shooting as many angles and lenses as I can manage, or by focusing on the crowd, which is really where the energy is. The fans go crazy, just like you’d see spectators at an NBA game, it’s amazing.

Because the fans are so engaged (there are a lot that come in Cosplay of their favourite characters, they chant for the teams, they jump out of their seats and cheer) it really makes for great visuals. People often can’t imagine these events, and how thousands of people (Riot Games filled Madison Square Garden, for two days in 2015, at one of their events) can watch other people play video games, but when I show them the photos of the fans, it’s akin to a cartoon lightbulb going off above their heads. The fans are the key to the experience, and it’s shooting them that really helps to show what these events are all about. The ones that get dressed up in Cosplay really love being photographed, so that makes it easy.

One interesting thing, which happened a couple of times, at that MSG event I mentioned, was I had two or three fans ask me to sign their posters for them, purely because I was shooting for Riot.

What type of direction do you get from Riot Games when shooting for them?
They’re great, they don’t give us too much strict direction, other than “tell the story”, “show the fans”, “get behind the scenes” and so on. There’s naturally a lot of facets they want covered (the queue of fans waiting to get it, the players hanging out in the team rooms, the crowd going crazy, the shoutcasters etc), but they leave it up to us (there’s usually two of us shooting) to get creative and tell it our way. We have unprecedented access to the players, and that’s what regular media don’t get, so it’s important for us to get close to them and show what you don’t see anywhere else.

Chris Sharma climbs a Redwood tree in Eureka, CA, USA on 20 May, 2015.

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What other type of work do you do besides sports and events?
I actually shoot all sorts of things, preferably portraits and travel, but also music (shows/festivals). When I shoot for Red Bull, or when I collaborate with another photographer at events at which I’m editing, there’s such a range of things to shoot.  These events are a great chance to practice shooting diverse content. Hence, I’ve been able to add BMX, snowboarding, climbing and various motorsports to my portfolio.

I mainly love to shoot portraits, where I enjoy throwing a few lights in the mixer, be it a studio-style shot, or preferably on-location. I love the challenge of trying to find a location on the fly and get a nice shot out of it, which often happens when you have an artist for just a few minutes at a show, and don’t want a static shot in front of a boring wall.

I get to travel a fair bit, whether on the road on shoots or taking vacation, and always make sure to have a camera with me, especially when I’m in a different culture. There’s so much to see when you go somewhere new, and I’m always on the lookout for the details that tourists wouldn’t normally look for, like the local people going about their business, markets, pretty much anywhere there aren’t a thousand tourists pointing iPhones in the same direction. It’s definitely an area in which I’d like to get more involved.

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Finding Novyon poses for a portrait prior to his performance at Red Bull Sound Select Presents: Los Angeles, at Los Globos in the Silverlake neighourhood of Los Angeles, CA, USA on 25 February, 2016.

Event winner DRG poses for a portrait during Red Bull Battle Grounds Global in Santa Monica, CA, USA on 10 August, 2014.

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How has being a photo editor influenced you as a photographer?

I’ve been able to work with some great photographers over the years, and hence have been able to observe different skills. Not just lighting techniques, though of course that has really helped me hone my portraiture, but also the way they handle the talent, location-scouting with little time, how to devise an event workflow, where the turnaround is very quick. It’s obviously not brain-surgery, but they’re all invaluable skills to be able to acquire from established professionals. I see a lot of work, so have been able to learn from a range of work, from the mundane to the brilliant, so seeing all that has helped establish a kind of mental yardstick of where I know I want my own work to be. There are a few photographers with whom I’m friendly, and to whom I owe a large debt of gratitude in helping me be where I am today (they know who they are – thanks guys!).

Can you edit your own work?
Hahaha, you would think that would be one of the skills I’d have really pinned down, wouldn’t you? It’s something I actually still struggle with, insomuch as I find it tricky to make a cohesive selection from a large body of my own images. When I have to, then of course I am making a narrower selection, such as after a music event, when the turnaround time is by 9am the following day, but that’s mostly motivated by a need to get some sleep!

I can zip through anyone else’s batch of, say, 100 images, and very quickly narrow it down to the 20-25 I think tell the story in the most concise way, but doing that with my own work is a struggle. I do what I really shouldn’t do, and that’s get attached to certain images. I think it’s always valuable to have another set of eyes look over your work, which is of course why outlets have Photo Editors in the first place. Sadly, I still fall victim to what I always preach not to do. Do what I say, not what I do, I guess!

I saw that the New York Times profiled Call of Duty player Matt ‘Nadeshot’ Haag not so long ago. You were also taking photos there, in the Red Bull High Performance Lab; how do you make yourself a fly on the wall but still get the shot.
Actually, the good thing about the HPL is that the guys are really relaxed about having a photographer in there; as long as I don’t get in the way of what they’re doing, they haven’t ever moaned at me; at least not to my face. As long as the subject are cool with it, I can get right in there and very personal with them. The good thing about eSports athletes, in my experience, is they aren’t as wary as pro sports athletes and don’t have inflated egos. The only thing is they tend not to be so savvy about being on-camera, so it’s a balance between making them feel awkward and getting ‘in there’ enough. Matt, on the other hand, was great to work with, and as he already knew me (I shot portraits of him when he signed with Red Bull), so that really helped me out. The tricky thing was how to make my photos look different than the NYT photographer’s, so I used off-camera strobes a lot for accent lighting,

The Daily Promo – Nicholas Duers

- - The Daily Promo

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Nicholas Duers

Who printed it?
To print the promo, we utilized Blurb.com, using their premium lustre-finished paper and perfect binding style.

Who designed it?
The design intent was to create a minimal and immersive physical platform for the presentation of the work, and it was done by myself in collaboration with my Agent, Farimah Milani.

Who edited the images?
In terms of the edit, I worked closely with Farimah, to arrive at a sequence that worked for each of us. As a content creator, there is always the potential for choices to be influenced by sentimental attachment to the imagery. Having an outside perspective from an experienced Agent is tremendously useful! We were able to ensure an overall commercial appeal, and yet still be able to convey my personal aesthetic.

How many did you make?
250.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
We aim to send a physical promotion on a quarterly to bi-annual basis.

How long did this promo take?
The process from concept to execution required three months from start to finish: The back and forth discussions, creating new imagery to fill in any gaps, and the need to update my website before sending out led to the process taking longer than expected. This was our first major promo piece since collaborating, and I wanted to make sure it was executed as perfectly as possible.

This Week In Photography Books: Sally Mann

by Jonathan Blaustein

I write about my kids all the time.
You know this.

(You, the faceless crowd of e-readers.)

I remember in the Summer of 2012, when my daughter was born, I shared my confusion about changing her first diaper. How do you deal with a tiny vajayjay?

Are you gentle, like handling a fragile print? Or do you have at it, like scrubbing a recalcitrant dish in the sink. (Off, spaghetti sauce, off!)

It felt edgy to write about such things.
Transgressive.

But never would I ever post pictures of her little lady parts. Never, ever, ever.

Never.

Our relationships with our loved ones are so personal. They define us, really, even though we pretend our work is more important. I’m guilty of it myself, though if you asked me to give up my creative pursuits, or my kids, it wouldn’t be a choice at all. (Goodbye camera. Goodbye keyboard.)

Just yesterday, while teaching my photo class, a student began to cry as we discussed a picture of her granddaughter. There were two photos in succession, one a sweet, generic, black and white shot of a girl smelling a bouquet of flowers, her eyes closed.

Seen it before. On a greeting card.

The very next image, however, was of the same girl, in color, standing with an arched back, staring daggers into the camera. Her red dress was echoed by the red roses. Other flowers, also in color, surrounded her head like a halo. She was not happy, but we couldn’t know why.

Everyone in class loved the second picture, and tried to explain to the photographer why it was so much better than the first.

Personal. Intimate. Honest. Engaging. Edgy.

The eyes had a story to tell, and we wanted to know more. She began to cry, hurt all over again, reliving the moment where the young girl leaked misery. Her granddaughter had taken her glasses off for the shot, and considered herself hideous. The other kids teased her. (She wanted to cry, so her grandmother, her proxy, did instead.)

We talked about how pictures that surprise us, that give us the unexpected, that walk the line of propriety, are the ones we remember. We compared the first picture to the shot that comes in the frame when you buy it, and the second with the picture you put in the frame once you’ve removed the filler.

I promised my student that the pain she was feeling, the raw emotion, if channelled properly, would lead to photo gold. If she could handle it properly. If she had the courage to look at her life with a penetrating gaze, and then share it with the rest of us.

It’s a big if. Most people shy away from the cliff, when it heads straight down to the Rio Grande river, 650 feet below.

But not Sally Mann.

No sir.

Sally Mann made some pictures back in the 80’s, of her life, of her children, wild and feral, running naked around the Virginia countryside, and we still talk about them to this day.

Hell, I’m talking about them now, having just put down Aperture’s re-issued publication of “Immediate Family,” which I plucked from my photo-eye box a little while ago.

Such. Great. Stuff.

It’s hard to write about something that people know so well. We all feel attached to what we love, even if it’s someone else’s work. (Quick sidebar: two red tailed hawks just screeched over my own country valley, and right now, they’re careening around the sky outside my window.)

Where were we?

These pictures were guaranteed to shock, as they showed off the naked bodies of young children. How could that not draw ire and anger in a predominantly Christian country like America? It had to, right? (Cue the ghost of Jesse Helms nodding slowly.)

But get past the nudity, and you see some striking imagery. The picture of the child’s legs covered with flour paste? Never before have I seen something alive look so dead. I really wish I’d made that picture. Even the crop, chopping off the feet, is genius.

Ramping up the tension, it hurts my viscera just thinking about it.

We see skinned squirrels, dead deer, and children living in a make-believe land of wonder. An imaginary playland that must look like Kiddie Heaven, when seen from above.

The picture of the little child covered in a shroud, as if dead, only reinforces the dark juju running through this world. A touch of “Lord of the Flies” invading Never Neverland.

Really, fantastic stuff.

But you knew that already, didn’t you?

Bottom Line: A re-issued classic.

To Purchase “Immediate Family” Visit Photo-Eye

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The Art of the Personal Project: P2 Photography

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: P2 Photography (Jon Held & Jenna Close)

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How long have you been shooting?
Jenna: We are in our 9th year of business.
Jon: The 9th? Already?

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Jenna: I went to the Art Institute of Seattle.
Jon: I am self-taught.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Jenna: We had been having a period of creative block and were struggling to come up with an idea we could both really get behind. We sat down and made a list of things we were curious about. The common theme was people who were living their lives on their own terms and doing what they loved. We decided to pair that with our interest in hands-on, physical work and feature people who were pursuing offbeat jobs or hobbies. We found our first subject, a recycled-metal sculptor, through a friend, and our next subject, a practitioner of Hikaru Dorodango (shiny dumplings), through the internet.

Jon: For me, the inspiration was purely a marketing decision, a way to showcase our work during a dry spell. And it seemed like it would be a heck of a lot of fun to meet these people.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
Jon: I recall it was about 4 days. But I might be wrong. 2 weeks?

Jenna: We waited until we had one subject completed and another confirmed before the initial release. Now, we present subjects as we complete them. This project is intended to be episodic, so we want to build a following that comes along for the ride as it unfolds.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Jenna: It depends, but typically I’ll give it a generous amount of time before giving up. I’ve found that often when something isn’t right, struggling with it for a while can lead to a breakthrough.

Jon: With Buck the Cubicle we hit the nail on the head. It was one of those projects that was exactly as I’d imagined from the beginning. Our first subject gave us momentum to plow right ahead without any changes to the overall scope. It just felt right.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Jon: Those are both expressions of the photographer as artist. So to me there ought to be no difference. I want to be known and hired for doing exactly what I want to do, and the only hope for that is for people to see that particular work. However, when a client gets involved it often becomes collaborative…..

Jenna: Yeah. What Jon said.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Jenna: We regularly use Instagram (p2photography). We also link to blog updates on Facebook and post our videos to Vimeo. And we occasionally use Twitter (@p2photography).

Jon: Tweeting is a skill. I have much to learn.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Jon: Aaahhhhhhhh…….mmmmmmmmmm……
Jenna: Not yet…

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Jenna: This year we’re releasing 4 printed promos, each featuring a Buck the Cubicle subject. So this project, in printed form, is the primary vehicle for our marketing in 2016 and maybe beyond.

Jon: The first round of booklets went out this month. To stuff, seal and stamp 500 envelopes it takes exactly three and a half episodes of Mad Men.

Buck the Cubicle is an ongoing series featuring people who get out, get dirty and find inspiration in all manner of offbeat occupations.

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Jon and Jenna (P2) are commercial photographers based in Southern California. They work for a variety of clients but have a particular interest in businesses and people who build things. Jon is also a flight instructor and Jenna is Chair of the National Board of ASMP. They can be found at p2photography.net.

Clients include: The Cincinnati Zoo | Curves | Elevator | Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University | NBC | Perspective | Primus Power | Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners | Rotary International | Sierra Magazine | SolarWorld | Swarovski | T. Rowe Price

P2 is represented by Meredith Bless at Taiga Creative.


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 and Negotiating: Internal Use for Global Manufacturer

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Images of large advertising displays in an airport

Licensing: Internal collateral use of up to 16 images in perpetuity for the client and portfolio use for the agency

Location: An airport in the northeastern United States

Shoot Days: 2

Photographer: Corporate, portrait and architectural specialist

Agency: Medium sized, Midwest based

Client: Global Agricultural Company

Creative/Licensing: The client wanted to photograph publicly displayed advertisements in an airport that the agency recently helped them develop and place. We’ve estimated many projects like this before, and while they typically come with tight budgets, those budgets are often justified by a low level of production needed to capture the content. This one was a bit different in that it came with an elevated level of production and unique logistical challenges, but the licensing was comparable to other similar projects, and was limited to internal collateral use by the client, and use of the images on the agency’s website as part of their portfolio.

There were 16 displays that needed to be photographed, and I felt that image #1 was worth $2,000, image #2 was worth $1,000, images #3-#7 were worth $500 each, and images #8-#16 were worth $250 each. That brought me to $7,750, which I thought was appropriate for the licensing and one day of shooting, but I felt that the additional shoot day warranted a bump to the fee, so I added about $2,000 to account for this, and then rounded back down to an even $9,500 which I thought would be more palatable.

After calculating a fee, I put pen to paper on the expenses, which as I mentioned, were based on a high level of production. For this kind of shoot, it’s rare that a client would have a big budget, but at the same time, they wanted to shoot professional talent in a major airport before and after the security checkpoint…not a simple task. I assumed they’d want to do this project with a really small footprint, but upon speaking with the art buyer, I learned that they anticipated a crew inclusive of the photographer, multiple assistants, a producer and a groomer, on top of the talent and agency representatives being present. I anticipated we’d need to scale down after presenting these costs, but regardless, we had to show them what it would take to executive the project as requested.

Photographer Scout Day: Part of the logistical challenge for this project was that some of the displays were before the airport security checkpoint, others were beyond it, and the agency wasn’t quite sure exactly where each display was. We therefore included a scout day to help dial-in these details.

First Assistant/Digital Tech and Assistant Days: The photographer’s first assistant would be doubling as his tech, and he’d be shooting to a very mobile laptop workstation. We also included a second assistant to offer an additional set of hands to help move lighting and other gear around to the various locations throughout the airport.

Producer Days: The local pool of producers was bare, and the specific producer that the photographer and agency hoped to work with was actually based out of town and would be traveling in. In addition to the travel, scout and shoot days, I included adequate prep and wrap time for the producer to coordinate the project. Working with an airport can prove to be incredibly time consuming due to security measures, especially when you aren’t working on behalf of an airline or the airport itself who could otherwise provide access and connections to ease the process. I therefore wanted to make sure we included enough time to accommodate the potential headache.

Equipment: I anticipated that the photographer would need to bring along $1,500 worth of grip, lights and cameras/lenses per day, over the course of two days.

Location Fees/Permits and Airport Staff/Escort Fees: This particular airport actually happened to have a bit of information on its website regarding commercial filming and shooting, some of which was based on the time on site (with dictated hours of shooting), and some of which was based on the number of people involved. For a still photo shoot (rather than video) with more than five people on site, they listed a location fee of $1,000 per day. They also listed various personnel at hourly rates, including operations officers, police officers, fire marshals, engineers, electricians, and “other” support staff. Based on this information, I anticipated we’d need staff listed at the $75/hr mark for 8-10 hours over two shoot days, plus some time on the scout day. I felt $1,500 was an appropriate starting point, but noted that it was TBD and elaborated in our delivery that this would need to be dialed-in as the project progressed.

Catering: Based on previous experience shooting at airports, I knew our catering option would be limited to the airport’s internal food services company. I included $60 per day per person for up to 13 people (including the crew, talent, and agency representatives).

Mileage, Parking, Production Supplies, Misc.: I included $50/day for parking, and figured we’d need to cover at least three cars for the talent, and three cars for the crew (they’d likely carpool rather than each drive individually). On top of that, I included $300/day for tables, chairs, walkies and other supplies, as well as $100/day for general miscellaneous expenses that might come up.

Insurance: I anticipated that the airport would require a certificate of insurance, and that their requirements would likely eclipse what a typical photographer’s policy would cover. I therefore included $1,000 for the photographer to increase their policy as needed.

Producer Travel: As I mentioned, the producer would be traveling in, and I grouped their expenses into one line item. They’d require three nights of lodging (around $200/night in this market), and I included a $50/day per diem and about $100 for their mileage.

Shoot Processing for Client Review and Selects Processed for Reproduction: The first assistant/tech would be handling the major leg work of organizing the files, but I included a few hundred dollars for the photographer to do an initial edit and provide a gallery to the agency. On top of that, I included $150/image for the photographer to process their 16 selects.

Casting from Cards and Adult Talent Days: As opposed to a live casting, the agency was interested in casting talent based on their headshots, which made sense since the talent would likely be unrecognizable anyway. This fee included the time (likely spent by either a producer or a local casting agency) to request headshots from multiple talent agencies based on certain demographics, organize and deliver the results, and then correspond with individual talent agencies to book and confirm the talent. Since they’d be unrecognizable, I figured $400-$500/day plus a 20% agency fee would be appropriate per talent, and noted that this cost would be billed directly to the agency.

Groomer Days and Wardrobe: The talent would be bringing their own wardrobe based on specs provided by the agency, but they requested for a stylist to be present to make sure they looked presentable. I included a rate that would allow us to bring in a stylist from another city if the limited pool of local stylists happened to be unavailable.

Feedback: Overall, I knew this estimate would be too high for them, and while I anticipated a discussion regarding a decreased level of production, they specifically asked to see what it would take to execute a project in this way. Not surprisingly, that’s exactly what happened. We were basically asked to take a scalpel to the expenses, and see what we could do with a reduced level of production (they were willing to concede to 2 talent on one of the days, were ok without a groomer, mentioned that they might be able to pre-scout the location, and said they could handle the retouching). After discussing some options with the photographer, we decided that he could handle the pre-production (for a fee) if it just meant hiring one assistant, doing a simple casting from cards, and corresponding with the airport (no second assistant, groomer, catering, scouting, producer). On top of removing all of those items, we reduced the equipment, came down on the location fees (since it would be much fewer people on-site), noted that the escorts would be TBD, came down on the insurance and casting, reduced the expense for the shoot processing for client review, and adjusted the misc. expenses appropriately. These were certainly big cuts across the board, and here was the revised estimate:

Feedback: Despite the cuts, the agency hoped to trim the budget even further, by about half the amount. Fortunately, they were willing to concede a bit more on their end as well. Rather than 16 displays, they were hoping to capture just 6, which would help to make the project a 1 day shoot. On top of that, the agency was also willing to do away with talent, and just hoped to shoot unrecognizable real people as they walked by the displays.

We justified the decrease by dropping the creative/licensing fee from $9,500 to $5,000. I felt that the reduction of the additional day was worth a decrease of $2,000, and that the reduction of 10 shots was worth a decrease of $2,500. We also removed the casting and talent fees, and reduced the expenses across the board to account for one less day. Here was the revised estimate:

Results: The photographer was awarded the project, and given the light production footprint and the fact that the displays all ended up being before the security checkpoint, the coordination with the airport wasn’t too much of a headache.

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: Psychology Today – Guzman

- - The Daily Edit

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Psychology Today

Creative Director: Edward Levine
Photo Director: Claudia Stefezius
Art Director: Yuko Miyake
Photographer: Guzman

This magazine content seems to be a unique departure from your work, is this the first time you are working with the magazine?
Yes, this was the first time working with Psychology Today and we’re delighted that they asked us to collaborate on this project. Was it a unique departure for our work? Well, not really. We enjoy taking a concept, in this case “odd emotions,” and figuring out how to visually express it. Our editorial work often has underlying conceptual themes. They could be of a political or social nature; or they could be self-referential. With “odd emotions,” it was not so much about illustrating what was happening inside one’s head but rather creating an unresolved/open ended image, that allows the viewer to interpret those feelings for themselves.

Bringing fashion into a potentially dry subject matter adds a layer of surprise to the images. Were these concepts difficult to sell to the editors?
Actually, when there is an emotional component to work with, the ideas tend to flow. That said, “odd emotions “ was a good rock for us to to leap off of. At first glance, the subject matter may appear to be a little convoluted but Ed Levine (Creative Director) and Claudia Stefezius (photo editor) were very helpful by providing us with a mood board and a list of ideas tohelp establish a visual dialogue. After some discussion, we all zeroed in on the ideas. In addition, we all felt that the images should not be too alienating, these were not emotions that we need to fear but rather, are a part of life.

How much direction did you get from the magazine or were you lucky enough to have creative freedom, I would think the latter.
There was a back and forth re:model choices. As far as our creative team, we have a team that we work with and believe that images created both for advertising and editorial are the end result of the photographer’s creative team choices, each person on the team brings their creative background and ideas to the image.
Hair stylist/Makeup artist/Fashion Stylist/et Designer and of course Assistants and Digital tech. The photographer much like a film director guides these gifted artists in the creating of the images So there is a lot of back and forth emailing regarding props direction, lighting, clothing choices and so on.

Fashion is a departure for this magazine, are you part of the magazine ushering in a new look?
I don’t think it was a conscious decision on our part. As photographers, one has to figure out intuitively how to communicate an idea in an interesting way. Since we needed the images to be thought provoking without beingtoo dark and alienating,perhaps approaching this assignment in a surrealist/ fashion context helped.

Was it a challenge to have them run an image “upside down” on the cover?
That was the magazine’s idea and we loved it. It’s what made us really try to get the assignment.

Did you personally experience any of these “odd emotions”?
Well, regarding the image of the girl climbing on the clock. We chose to work with her knowing that that she had to leave for another previously booked assignment at 3:00 PM. Still shooting her at 2:55 PM, the concept, “an acute awareness of time,” suddenly became our reality! Art does indeed imitate life.

Tell us about the image with the girl and the world on her shoulders.
During the shoot we thought it might be interesting, since it was a beach ball, to take some of the air out of the world. It added an extra layer of meaning to the image, that the world she felt so small within suddenly became fragile and quite literally a little deflated.

The Daily Promo: Trevor Traynor

- - The Daily Promo

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Trevor Traynor

Who printed it?
Printed by magcloud. I have always favored the square format and magcloud offers a great 8” x 8” template.

Who designed it?
I designed the book and edited the images; I enjoy pairing photographs and forming them into diptychs.

How many did you make?
Each volume is signed/edition of 100. Approx 20 are sent out for promotion and the other 80 are sold.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Every January I mail out a limited book that showcases my travels, and explorations from the previous year, I’m currently up to Vol 4. The first 3 volumes are sold out and Vol. 4 has 18 more copies remaining. Shop.TrevorTraynor.com

I donate the proceeds split between 3 charities:

BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SOCIETY.
BestFriends.org
“Save Them All”

PLANT A BILLION TREES.
PlantABillion.org
“protecting nature, preserving life”

SMILE TRAIN.
SmileTrain.org
“Help make 1 million smiles

Also I saw that you sent two promos, are you sending out two to everyone? 
I send out promos twice a year. The 2nd is usually a postcard, or foldout piece promoting my commercial and editorial work.
Vol I – Vol 3  are shot and edited using the iPhone and  Vol 4. is 97% iPhone. I had a few images I thought meshed really well to complete the collection so I included them.

How long have you been doing this project?
I started this project 8 years ago but never released the first four books. They were a collection of images created using an assortment of Film and Digital Cameras. The images were shots that I liked but never really had a home, or a series to be a part of; it started as a way to organize my favorite snapshots.

This Week In Photography Books: Melissa Ann Pinney

by Jonathan Blaustein

I got yelled at on Monday. (It was expected, but unpleasant.) Sometimes, even when you know what’s coming, you still can’t get out of the way.

We’d just changed the hours of our art labs at UNM-Taos, and as the Chair of the Fine Arts Department, a low-level manager in an unwieldy bureaucracy, it was my job to enforce the rules.

There’s an old saying about killing messengers, and as I stepped through the open door of the Print lab, I was fairly sure that drama was imminent. The door was meant to be closed, locked, the better for students to see the fresh sign declaring our new schedule.

I knew the man in the far corner of the room. He’d been to my wedding, though we didn’t speak that night. His parents were friends with my in-laws, his late Aunt one of the most famous actresses who’d ever lived.

That didn’t matter, as he’d been sharp with me in the past, and had an edge about him like a red aura. (Is red the color of angry auras? I don’t know, but it seems appropriate.) He glared at me, begging for trouble, waiting for the slightest provocation.

I tried to sound confident as I told him he couldn’t be here, even though he was. The rules had changed, it was decided by my superiors, not my idea, just doing my job. A not-my-fault ramble that was never going to succeed.

“You’re a liar,” he shrieked!

Spittle flew like paper airplanes, slowly arching towards the ground.

“A liar! This is all your fault! You’re trying to ruin the Printmaking department! I know you are!”

I could see I was getting nowhere, so I retreated to marshall reinforcements. I returned with a calm, confident administrator, one better accustomed to dealing with the crazies, and wielding bureaucratic power with a sense of finality.

He listened to her as he couldn’t with me. As I opened my mouth to speak, his face flushed again, and he bellowed, “Back off, Junior,” at the top of his lungs.

As there were now two of us to deal with problem, when only one was strictly necessary, I left the room, crossed the hall, and began to teach my photography class. The stress chemicals pulsed through my bloodstream, but I knew I’d be OK in a little while.

Back across the hall, two people still talked about rules, and systems, and why change is hard. Fortunately, this pair was able to communicate well enough. (Better than the first pair, anyway.)

I’m in mind of such things after having read, and perused, “TWO,” a new book by Melissa Ann Pinney, edited by Ann Patchett, published last year by Harper Design.

Ms. Pinney gave me this book in September, shortly after I’d finished my “21st Century Hustle” lecture at the Filter Photo Festival in Chicago. She paid me a nice compliment, handed it over, and asked that I take a look at it when I had some time.

This happens to me fairly often, at festivals, and as there was a long line of people waiting to speak with me, I said thank you, and tucked it away. It came home with me, and my wife placed it prominently on the shelf. (At least SHE thought it was special.)

It must have been Ms. Pinney’s mellow, polite mien, because the event didn’t stick in my mind. A couple of months later, she emailed to see what I thought of the book. Embarrassed, I realized I ought to take look at the thing.

I took it off the shelf, and promptly did a double-take. No, a triple-take, when I saw the cover. This photobook featured essays by Elizabeth Gilbert, Barbara Kingsolver, and Susan Orlean.

What now?

In fact, ten prominent authors had contributed stories, and Ms. Pinney’s bio, on the back-flap, stated her work was in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the Whitney, the Art Institute of Chicago, and a few other massive institutions.

This was a prominent, important artist, working with major writers, and somehow, in our little micro-moment, none of that came across. No ego, no attitude, nothing beyond a few gracious words, patiently expressed.

I felt ashamed, and promised myself I’d give the book its due, once I had the time.

Well, today, 4 months later, I was able to stop my natural momentum, get on the couch, and start reading this thing. Reading pictures, yes, but reading words, more importantly, as that’s what sets this book apart.

The pictures in “TWO,” shot in many places, over decades, are uniformly well-made. Good light, good color, nice balance. Always, there is two of something; a pair of objects or people that imply narrative.

Or they’re meant to. Who are they? How are they related? What are they doing? What does it mean?

Normally, that’s what I’d ask myself. But I wasn’t actually sucked in to the imagery. It didn’t grab my heart, or my gut, and force me to contemplate.

But each time I came upon a story, I read. I skipped nothing, reading, reading, and then looking at the photographs in between.

Slowly, with each passing story, the book reeled me in. It humanized the photos, to the point that I’d pay heightened attention to each successive suite of pictures, after I’d finished the previous tale, poem, or essay.

I felt like the relationship between me, and this object, was deepening with each successive minute. At first I’d been neglectful, then skeptical, and finally entranced.

In my 4.5 years of reviewing books, I can’t think of a book quite like this. The pictures need the stories, and together, the two forms of communication ably support each other, like one of the old married couples mentioned in more than one essay.

Duality, expressed by Yin and Yang, or black and white, or even 1 and 0, is deeply embedded in the philosophies and realities of human-kind. We crave companionship, and pair off to make the next generation.

It takes a secure artist to cede this much of the stage to others, to see the value in the right kind of collaboration, and I’m glad I spent a part of my afternoon embedded in this charming little world.

Bottom Line: An excellent pairing of images and words

To Purchase TWO visit: http://www.melissaannpinney.com/

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The Art of the Personal Project: Ethan Pines

- - 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: Ethan Pines

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How long have you been shooting?
About 16 years, if you count the initial three years of classes, which I do.

Are you self-taught or photography-school taught?
Both. In 1999 I took a basic photography class at Santa Monica College out of random interest. I knew nothing about photography, had never set my camera to Manual. But I’d been wanting a change (I went to graduate school for journalism and was working as a writer), and this class and the ensuing ones completely opened my eyes. That sounds cheesy, but I was looking for something that used both the creative and technical sides of the brain, that got you away from the computer and out into the world, and this was it. (Of course now it’s the age of digital photography, and we’re all back on our computers.)

I spent three years in classes at SMC, a great program. But I also consider myself self-taught, because photography is a craft and an industry that wants constant evolution. I’m always working on lighting, composition, concepts, substance, process, technique. I test and experiment and learn. It’s an ongoing process.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I occasionally take photographic road trips around the Southwest; there’s a simplicity and spontaneity in shooting whatever you find, whatever inspires you, wherever you happen to be. Shooting this kind of non-commercially driven project helps me recharge and reconnect with that first magic of shooting. I didn’t set out to shoot a Tourist America project. This series arose gradually after several road trips. I had a number of images that I felt were strong, and I started wondering if a series was forming, if there was a common thread. I seemed to be drawn to tourist sites, both popular and obscure, beautiful and kitschy. Rather than continuing to shoot randomly, I decided to make it a project. And I booked flights to other areas of the country to deepen the project.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
The first shots, taken before it was officially a project, were done about four years prior to posting it on the website.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Honestly, there are so many projects I want to shoot, I consider each one carefully before even starting it. Once I do, I approach it like a job: I’m going to make it work. If something’s not working, you figure out why and adjust your approach.

Since shooting for portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
For me, both portfolio and personal shoots come from who I am. But personal projects like this one entail less production and are less commercial. Whether they are fine art, I leave to the viewer. In my case they tend to be straight photography: no compositing or manipulation, very little done in post. (Tourist America is shot entirely on medium-format film.) They might share a sensibility with my commercial work, since it’s virtually impossible to remove the photographer from the images. But they allow me a return to the pure photographic process which drew me to the field in the first place. They also free me from the constraints that can come with jobs — images can be with or without people, shot wherever I like, infused with mood, created with whatever offbeat/awkward elements, etc.

How do I feel about them? They are my babies. Whether or not anyone else cares, I know the nurturing that went into them, and I am proud of them. I feel they’re as worthwhile as projects with more production value. And I believe they help show art directors and potential clients another side of oneself.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yes, but not nearly as much as commercial work. I have several series that I’d like to get out there more. Commercial work always seems to demand more prompt posting, while it’s fresh. I post to Instagram and Facebook simultaneously.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
I wouldn’t say viral, but the “Lost Boat” shoot I did a couple of years ago got a lot of attention and helped lead to a nice profile in Digital Photo Pro magazine.

Earlier this year I shot a portrait series of finalists at the massive California State Science Fair in downtown Los Angeles, currently on my site as “Dwarf Stars.” Once Wired online picked it up, it spread around. Again, not viral, but, say, slightly contagious.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
“Lost Boat” went out as a direct-mail booklet. “Welcome Aliens” went out as a postcard. I also have two major projects — documentary work shot in Guatemala and Vietnam, still in proofsheet form — that will eventually be part of a printed mini-portfolio to accompany my main book.

Artist statement about the project:
There’s something special about American tourist sites, something unique I’ve found nowhere else. It’s the vintage fonts and infrastructure, the kitsch hand in hand with sincerity, the consumerism hand in hand with earnestness, the excited tourists in sometimes mundane experiences. The sites intend for you to feel a certain way. Once you look behind the scenes and see that the experience is packaged, it actually becomes more earnest and heartfelt, only in a different way than perhaps originally imagined. All these sites are created, maintained and visited by people who care deeply. Based on authentic foundations, they are canned experiences that ultimately become newly authentic experiences in their own right and carry forward a deep national history.

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Ethan Pines is a Los Angeles-based photographer shooting conceptual, humanistic, irreverent images for commercial and editorial clients such as Dolby, Solarcity, Universal Studios, Simply Asia Foods, Forbes and Wired. He grew up on a small ranch at the edge of Los Angeles and now lives in Topanga Canyon with his wife, cat and a host of seasonally changing wildlife.


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.

What does a video REALLY cost?

- - Working

The quality and flexibility of the camera you shoot with can make a considerable difference in the finished quality and editing options for your video. Are you shooting on a $ 500 DV camera, a $2,500 DSLR, a $10,000 Full feature HD camera, a $25,000 RED, a $60,000 ARRI or are you shooting on Film? The pace of technological advancement in film and video is breathtaking and the features and capabilities of cameras are changing weekly.  Bottom Line: You should be able to see the difference in the final output quality in more expensive cameras. If you can’t, then it’s not worth paying for. Your final delivery channel will also determine the need for specific cameras. Streamed video on the internet (where the vast majority of corporate videos are seen) doesn’t require high-end camera’s to capture your content because a lot of that quality will be lost in optimization for the web.Costs: You will spend between $25/hour and $400/hour or more depending on which digital camera package is used. Film cameras, lenses and stock will take you well over $1,000 /hour.Equipment. The more experienced video production companies tend to have a wide variety of tools and equipment on hand for each shoot. Do you need a track dolly or a jib-arm to create a shot with movement? Do you have a high quality field monitor to know exactly what you are getting (or not getting) as you shoot? Do you have all the necessary audio equipment (lav’s, direction mics, booms etc) to capture the audio you need?  Lighting and framing are everything in video. Do you have lights – lots of different lights to accommodate a wide variety of shooting scenarios? Do you have a variety of lenses to create the specific feel you are after – wide angle, fixed focal length or Cine lenses for narrow depth of field, etc?Costs. Equipment cost can run anywhere from $25/hour to $100’s/hour or more depending on what specific equipment is required

More here: What does a video REALLY cost? – ChristopherHatchett.TV

The Daily Edit – George McCalman: The Promo Process

- - The Daily Edit

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Joe Pugliese

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Linda Pugliese

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George McCalman

How long were you in the magazine industry and what skills transcended into the work you do now?
I was in the magazine industry from 1995 to 2011. I started at Money Magazine and went onto Entertainment Weekly. I moved to San Francisco in 1999 and continued at Health Magazine, MotherJones, Wired, ReadyMade and finally AFAR magazine. I’ve assigned and worked with a alot of photographers and developed personal relationships with many of them. My background in the magazine world helped in a couple of ways: It gave me insight into what art directors and photo editors/art buyers are looking for. I’m designing these promos for myself in an inverse way: I’m always thinking from the perspective of: “what kind of printed matter would I like to receive?” When I started my creative studio, I was working with Jason Madara, my studio mate. I’ve been his Jiminy Cricket for years, working with him on his portfolio and visual direction. I’m passionate and opinionated about photography. I believe in the emotional power of photography, but I’m also not sentimental about it, so I make my decisions quickly and definitively.

What are some simple decisions and questions that need to be addressed in order to hit marketing goals?
I ask many (annoying) questions of the photographers I work with. I try to get into their psychology and it works in two ways: to get them thinking about things they aren’t, and it gets me into their heads to find out what direction they want to take their work. I usually have my impressions, but this kind of relationship works best when people are hearing themselves make their epiphanies. The line of questioning is ‘Who are you?’ “What are you trying to get across?” I am always surprised at how that question throws artists off. I start with the big picture philosophy first. It forces people to dig deeper and think about the work they produce in a more personal way. The work follows those conversations. If she/he understands the message they are trying to put out in the world, it makes the ‘What images are we using’ and ‘How are we packaging it’ much more fluid. I’ve had a few conversations with shooters who are pure technicians, and don’t care about the meaning of their work. It’s all about what the client wants. I respect that. But that usually means I’m not the right designer for them. And vice versa.

What is the best “formula” you’ve developed for working with photographers?
It’s pretty organic. The design of a promo is usually a piece of an overall branding initiative. It’s rare that I just design promos alone, and it means that I think the work is compelling. I’m a big photography nerd, so I get excited (on my own) and start imaging how someones work can be presented that I think is incredible. I’m a big fan of talking on the phone, scheduled right after presentations. It allows me to get honest feedback and talk through my intent in the design. I’ve worked a couple of times with photographers who want to communicate primarily over email and I absolutely hated it, so I don’t do it anymore. Sometimes the photographer has a set idea on the body of work they want to use for the promo and other times they are completely open. They send me low-res jpegs of ‘everything’ within a body of work and I play around with a few edit directions and get a narrative theme (either through color palette, layout design or story). I send it to them. We keep talking until we’re both happy with the final edit. I think most photographers are terrible editors of their own work, so I argue when I believe an edit choice is being made emotionally on their part.

How is the conversation different between seasoned pros and up and coming?
Not as much as you might think. The seasoned pros just talk more (which is great). In most of cases the seasoned photographers I know haven’t sent out much printed work, and rely on their reps for their windfalls, so there is ambivalence of what the promo actually ‘does’. I’ll used Jason as an example: we’d been talking about doing a promo for 3 years (!) before we actually did one. He was featured in his rep’s own promo book, so he didn’t have any urgency about it.  I pitched a themed poster series to him last year and he got excited. But the process was like pulling teeth. After the posters were printed, he looked and he and said: “When are we doing the next one?” Up-and-Comers are sometimes more open to pushing the envelope, but have done less thinking about who are as individual artists. But I find similar patterns working with either set.

What advice do you have for anyone defining their brand?
I ask ‘Who are you?’ What separates you from others in the industry? Others in the same lane? Play to your strengths. Don’t try and compete. It’s all well and good to admire what others are doing, you should be paying attention to the marketplace, always, but I think it’s as important to remind yourself about what sets you apart. also: I tell photographers to stop designing their own work. Get a designer. It’s as vital to your brand as having a retoucher that completes your sentences. It’s your team, it’s your brand. Find someone who understands what you are trying to say and let them interpret your visual language. Work with someone who surprises you, and who you enjoy talking to.

Do you think there are more promos in circulation OR are we simply seeing more of them due to social media?
I think there are more due to social media. And let’s talk about social media. Because I don’t believe that posting to Instagram and tumblr is the same thing (or replaces) sending out a promo piece. Mobile devices can show sequential art, but doesn’t present a narrative with a beginning, middle and end. Books, magazines and promos provide that in a way that (I believe) will always be a part of the commercial landscape in some form.

What makes a memorable promo in your eyes?
I may sound like an asshole, but I don’t think an arresting image is enough anymore. In the age of Instagram and other social media tools, people have access to generally interesting images on a daily basis. I think how you present your images is what makes it memorable. The formula is simple, the more personal the better. Art Directors and Art buyers want to know how you think, as much as. When that is transparent, it became easier to imagine how you would be on set, or on location. It’s a way in, for people that may be seeing your work for the first time; and a reminder for the people that are familiar with you, and they should be giving you more consideration. I’m a sucker for designing promos with an actual story (the original and best meaning of that annoying word: content), bold type and smart layout design, so that’s what I try to create.

Do you have a staff at your studio?
I don’t have a conventional creative studio. I’ve been mostly a one-man operation. Most of the work that I’m doing is a culmination of designing for the past twenty years in the advertising and and editorial world. I get bored doing one thing, so I’ve created a studio where I get to work on multiple projects that play to my strengths as an art director, graphic designer, typographer and painter. I’m working on four book projects (based on my own ideas) that I’m developing and designing, as well as two fine art shows (one with my colleague, Jason Madara) coming up this year. Working with photographers is something I’m always going to do professionally and personally. It makes me so happy to see an artist cultivate their unique point of view visually. I just love it. I believe it’s possible to work commercially and maintain your perspective and vision. It’s a tricky balance, but when you do, it gives you life.

Tell us about what you do in addition to working with photographers on their branding?
I’m working on a few projects simultaneously. I’ve been working on a portrait series with Jason Madara called The Individuals. It’s a study of The Bay Area through portrait photography and the people (at present count, over 200 names) who have defined innovation across industries (science, arts, technology, academia, etc). It’s an ambitious project: we’ve been shooting it for the past year and will be shooting for at least another year. Jason is the photographer and I’m the art director, but on-set we have a weird shared-unit brain. Right now, the project only exists publicly on my Instagram account (#TheIndividualsProject) and on Jason’s website, but we are working on a book and photography exhibition. You can see the images here: Individuals 1
Individuals 2

I’ve also been working on series of hand painted typography over the last year. It’s based on phrases from my coming-of-age and quotes I hear from the people around me. I’m always writing down what I see and hear around me, and one day I decided I wanted to start the exercise of painting. I’ve been using watercolor because it’s malleable. I’ve been getting magazine and private commissions the last few months, which was unintentional, and has been a lot of fun. I have a fine-art show called The Type Note Series coming this spring.

Another project with Jason Madara is a set of figure study nudes we worked on four months ago. It’s becoming a fine art photography show at the Negative Space gallery in San Francisco. It’s a rich collaboration between him and I. We push each other creatively and its very rewarding experience.

I’m painting a series of portrait of pioneers for Black History Month. I’ve been researching more unknown (a few well known notables) and painting their portraits, using pencil, pen, ink & watercolor. I’ve been approaching each portrait in its own style, finding the personality of each person and treating them as the individuals they are. The unifying factor is that they are all in black and white. You can see the work here

On the surface it’s a diffused assortment of work, but the collective thread is that it’s all my own personal interests. I’m very curious about identity, and how we, as people, present ourselves to the world. it informs most of what I’m drawn to in commercial (and fine) art.

The Daily Promo – Justin Fantl

- - The Daily Promo
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Justin Fantl


Who printed it?

The calendar was printed in San Francisco by Spot Graphics.
Who designed it?
It was designed by the team at Manual Creative also in San Francisco.  I had worked with CD Tom Crabtree a number of years ago on the “Looseleaf Editions” project.  It was one of the most interesting briefs I had ever received.  Basically, the concept being to interpret a landscape through still life.  I loved the way the project came together and when the idea of making a calendar as a promo piece surfaced, Tom immediately came to mind.  The format of “Looseleaf” reminded me very much of a calendar but a really cool one!  I thought that from a design sense it would make sense to approach Tom about the concept and he was very receptive to it.
Who edited the images?
The team over at Manual refined the edit.  I had given them an initial grouping of images I was interested in using and they came back with a great selection in their first version.  I think in the end we only ended up changing one image.  The one caveat I had was that I wanted to showcase both my landscape and still life work.
How many did you make?
I sent out around 1200.
How many times a year do you send out promos?
I send out 2 promos a year. One comes from my studio, and in this case was the calendar, and the other comes from my rep, Giant Artists.   I think two provides a nice balance without overkill.  The Giant Artists promo typically showcases more commissioned work and the one I put out can be a bit more conceptual.  I really wanted to make something this year that people could use and I do hope that people utilize the calendars; mark them up, cut them up, live with them, and interact with them.  It might even be that this becomes a piece that I make each year. I feel like there are so many ways to approach the promo piece. There are a lot of fun to conceptualize and use your own work in any way that you want to.

This Week In Photography Books: MBLCK

by Jonathan Blaustein

Code.

Such a simple word.
Four letters.
Two vowels.
Two consonants.

Well balanced.

Such a basic word, for such a complicated concept. Even now, as I type these clean, black letters on the bright white Retina display, I’m aware they’re not as they appear. I see letters, yes, but underneath the alphabetic structure lies a string of numbers.

Ones and Zeroes.

Code.

Most of us are aware that binary code underlies the entirety of Digital Reality, which has eaten the Real World whole, like Goya’s depiction of Saturn devouring his child. We live so much through our screens, and all is illusion.

Ones and zeroes stand in for electrical impulses. On, off. Yes, no. If, then.

Like I said, it’s complicated.

But code, or the masking of one set of information in the form of another, is absolutely necessary to our daily lives. Codes are only helpful when they’re comprehensible, and often most valuable when they’re perfectly impenetrable. (Yes, I saw “The Imitation Game” a few weeks back, but that’s not what’s gotten me wound up today.)

No, I’m thinking rather of the assumption that code can be broken; its meanings interpreted. That’s how it works digitally, as code allows numbers to appear as pixels, pixels to resolve into pictures. Photographs in our Instagram feeds are so much more interesting as images; less so in the form of a string of digits as long as a unicorn’s tail.

But what happens when those assumptions are broken? I write this column every week, and every week I discuss a book that I understand. Sometimes, they withhold their meaning for a little while. Always, though, their secrets are revealed in the end. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Why would an artist not want us to know what is going on at all? Or who they are? Or why they sent you a book?

As you might have gathered, I’m not speaking in hypotheticals. (Of course not.) Last week, a little book box turned up in the mail, and I chucked it in a corner. Just now, I opened it up.

When it arrived, I noted that there was no name on the box, and I hadn’t been expecting anything. It only said MB, with an address in Austin, TX.

I know no such person.

I was curious and opened the box. I was met with a swath of thick, white wrapping paper, covered with hand-painted black marks. Little bits of charcoal, or paint chips, spilled out as I unwrapped the parcel.

Surely, I’d never received something like this before.

Inside the protective coating, I found a slim volume titled “INDECIPHERABLE.” Fair enough.

There was no letter, no essay, nothing at all, save a definition of the word. I flipped dutifully through the pages, and each time, I found a rendering of the black marks on white, on the left-hand side of the book. On the right, some sort of abstracted image, impossible to make out.

Page by page, I wondered. What is going on here? Are the black marks a kind of coded message? Do they mean anything at all? On the right-hand side, in a few images, banded lines appear? Is it an obscured computer screen? A scrambled message? An amalgam of many different photographs mashed together? (A technique I’ve seen a few times before.)

I really don’t know.

Eventually, the black-mark-hieroglyphics migrate to the right-hand page as well. The code eats the image. But what does it mean?

Believe it or not, it’s never explained. The book ends without a clue, save for the term MBLCK on the back cover.

I re-searched the package, looking for a note. A press release.
Some sort of explanation?

Nothing.

What the hell is going on here? I’ve never seen a book I couldn’t figure out, until now. But as it’s called “INDECIPHERABLE,” that’s clearly the point.

Why? To what end? Who is the mysterious MB, and why did he or she send me this coded object?

You regular readers know how much I hate to turn to Google to understand a book. But desperate times call for desperate measures, so here we go:

(pause)

First attempt: “MBLCK indecipherable Austin TX” reveals nothing.

Second attempt: “MB photo book indecipherable” reveals nothing.

Third attempt: “MBLCK photo book” reveals nothing

Fourth attempt: MBLCK photographer Austin” reveals nothing

(bigger pause)

This is a first. A book review with an anonymous artist, whose intention is totally unknowable. Why did you send me this, MB? What does it mean?

WHO ARE YOU!!!!!!!!

Does anyone have any intel on this? If so, please write into the comment section, send me an email, drop me a DM on Twitter, FB, or Instagram. Let us know in some digital variation or other, because I’m dying to know.

Aren’t you?

Bottom Line: Weird, inscrutable, impenetrable, coded photobook

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The Art of the Personal Project: Ackerman + Gruber

- - 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: Ackerman + Gruber (Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber)

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber Ice Racing in Minnesota.

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber

Ice Racing in Minnesota.  Photos by Ackerman + Gruber

How long have you been shooting?
We have been shooting professionally for 6 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
We went to grad school(Ohio University) for photography, which gave us two years to build a solid foundation to work from. That along with test shoots, commissioned work, and personal projects have all played a huge role in our continued growth.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Ever since we moved to Minnesota in 2010, we’ve been working on another personal project, Frozen, about the people and places in Northern Minnesota. This project that we are sharing here, Frozen Speed, is another chapter in that body of work. It’s also extremely quirky and we’re suckers for anything quirky so it was basically a no-brainer for us. We stumbled upon it one Saturday afternoon and have shot about 10 races so far.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
We’ve been working on it for the past two years and only now are we starting to present the work.

We’re also still working on it and this winter the focus will be more on the motion side of things along with shooting stills until we aren’t finding any more surprises/gems in our take. This project allowed us to test our drone in extreme conditions so we will continue to we will continue to explore it from above.

Despite living in a social media age of immediacy we work on our personal projects quietly for years without ever sharing them. We love doing this as it gives us time to explore a subject and really formulate not only the project but our aesthetic approach for each project. Along with Frozen Speed, we have been working on two other projects that have yet to see the light of day. We also love this way of working since it’s so relaxed compared to the intense and quick nature of the editorial and commercial shoots we do.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
It really depends on the project. Some projects last a day for us and the magic just isn’t there or it wasn’t what we were hoping for so we are happy with single images and we move on. Often we give a project some time and we realize the fire hasn’t left us and there’s still things we can say with the project so back out we go.

Most of the personal projects we start seem to linger for years and just organically come to a close when we feel like there’s nothing more we can say with our images or the passion dwindles.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
We try to approach both the same. Most of our personal work ends up in our portfolio. We’re strong believers in showing what you love shooting. Obviously commissioned work doesn’t always work out that way and the art direction might call for something else. Despite that, we always try to make an image or two that is us. The great thing about personal work is that it’s “personal” so our head isn’t muddied with thoughts of what the photo editor or art director might be looking for but rather we let our eye and mind explore and find images that speak to us. If all goes well the images hopefully speak to others as well. We have been lucky enough to have some great photo editors and art directors that allow us to go explore too and make it personal and those are the best assignments we can ask for.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yep we use Tumblr, Instagram – @ackermangruber, Twitter – @ackermangruber and our personal Facebook profiles as outlets for our work.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Nothing has reached the point of trending, but some of the projects have gained decent traction. One of our personal projects, Trapped, – http://www.ackermangruber.com/trapped seems to catch on in different circles (mental health, prison reform, photo) on the web so it’s been interesting to watch over the years as it gains traction in different parts of the online community and even in traditional print outlets (TIME and Newsweek). We have been invited to speak at numerous national justice reform conventions about the work and it’ll be a solo gallery show later this year because of it all gaining traction online. Another project, Miss, – http://www.ackermangruber.com/miss which documented Miss USA and Miss Universe has also received a decent amount of buzz and awards over the years with the last surge being a feature on Refinery29. The Frozen Speed – http://www.ackermangruber.com/frozenspeed project was recently highlighted on Wired and it led to a handful of emails from others wanting to highlight the work.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
For sure! We do this with most of the personal projects we work on. The last personal project we used in a promo was our Blue Ribbon – http://www.ackermangruber.com/blueribbon project and we sent creatives a 20 page booklet of the work along with a blue ribbon that awarded them first place as a top creative. We received great feedback on the promo and it placed in the self-promo category of the PDN Photo Annual. We were in NYC for meetings this past fall and editors still had it pinned to their wall, which was great to see.

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Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber are a husband and wife photo team. They work as a collaborative team on shoots, sharing roles as director and photographer. The two work seamlessly as a duo to bring one creative vision to all their shoots. They take an authentic approach to their work and specialize in providing images of real people to advertising, corporate and editorial clients. Their work has been described as colorful, genuine, full of life, and soulful. Ultimately they strive to make you feel something with their work.

Their work has been honored by the Communication Arts Photography Annual and Advertising Annual, American Photography, PDN Photo Annual, Review Santa Fe Center Project Competition any many more. Their most recent documentary film won an Emmy and they were named a McKnight Fellow and to PDN’s 30 Photographers to Watch in 2012.

Their work can be viewed at www.ackermangruber.com


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after 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 – Mike Sakas: Editorial Story Pitching

- - The Daily Edit

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Mike Sakas 

How often do you do spec or self assigned travel jobs?
I don’t do spec jobs that often per se but I always keep an eye open for an opportunity whenever I’m traveling.  This particular piece was conceived while on an assignment in Tajikistan. I was a part of a team going to teach a photography/story-telling workshop in Gorno-Badakhshan region of Tajikistan. To get to Khorog, the capital of the region, we flew into Dushanbe and were forced by weather to drive rather than fly. So a 2 hour helicopter flight turned into a 17 hour ride in a fully packed Toyota Forerunner. Originally we were going to fly a helicopter through the Himalayas the group was understandably a little bummed;  however the trip by road was an battering steel-lined-bouncy-castle of a ride.  I simply had to come back and do a longer version on motorcycle. As luck would have it, by the end of our assignment we had a return trip planned and I began research on what our extended route would be.  Having finished the trip and told some stories to my rider buddies, I’m convinced a lot of people would enjoy the tale and may even find it inspirational enough to go on one like it themselves.  So I’m pitching it around.

Have you had success with this before?
I have had success with this before but beyond the obvious magazine coverage, it’s always the weirder spin-off stuff that makes it more interesting.  The last time I did this sort of thing I was going to Thailand on a mountain bike trip with a bunch of guys from my local riding group.  We had planned an epic weekend around a local “friends match” and I actually didn’t intend on shooting much. However, as soon as we got to the mountain I met a couple of the event organizers and a writer covering the race and that was that.  I covered the event and the photos were picked up by a UK riding mag and a mountain bike apparel company.  It also turned into 4 more days of shooting stills and video for the apparel maker.

Who are you hoping to pitch this story to?
I’m planning to pitch the story to some of the more general travel adventure mags first: Outside, Afar, Travel + Leisure, Adventure Travel, Lonely Planet, etc. One of these guys would be ideal as they are more generally in my wheelhouse.  If none of them bite however, I’ll move on to the more specific adventure motorcycle rags:  Adventure Rider, Road Runner, Overland Magazine, etc.

 What does your pitch look like?
Basically, I write an email with a hello or an introduction if I don’t know the contact. I include a gripping (but short) narrative summary with a couple of images and then I wait.  I don’t like dropping a pitch on an editor cold if I can help it but the nature of my (non)process is such that I sometimes find myself shooting a story I probably haven’t done before. That being the case, sometimes I find an audience I’ve never been in front of before.  I try to keep it short and sweet and while I like to be friendly, I understand that most editors are swimming in work and I don’t want my pitch to be heavy. If they’re interested they’ll write back…if not, I move on.

Did you have a writer with you, or you wrote all your own content?
Almost every time I’ve gone out with writer we’ve been on assignment.  Since I tend to do these sorts of spec pieces sporadically, almost accidentally, I end up doing my own writing. It’s not that big of a stretch since I tend to journal during my travels anyways and it’s another way of creating a link between my thoughts and experiences and the audience. Interestingly, since there’s another workflow to writing about a trip vs. photographing one, in a circular way this gives me another avenue of relating to an experience while I’m having it.

 How do you formulate the story? Do you try and outline something or simply allow it to unfold organically?
Certainly I think it’s important to be familiar with your subject and to have a plan but I also believe, as they say, “strategy is only good until the first shots are fired.”   So in a sense I am a reactionary photographer in that, when I’m interacting with a subject, I not only follow it around as it does whatever it does, I let the mood of the thing inform how I photograph and tell the story.   For example, I photographed a small town, again in Thailand, during a Chinese New Year celebration.  As the day wore on and the festivities developed, things began to get more and more chaotic and fast paced. The drums and gongs turned to a near constant ear-splitting drone and the firecrackers and bigger explosions began to resonate in our bodies.  Soon I began adopting that chaotic energy in the way that I photographed the town.  The result was a series of images that were full of motion, vibrant colors, and portraits instead of the romantic images of a quaint rural town that they had started out to be.  Well, I write and photograph a story in the same way; I let the story describe itself to me. It’s my favorite thing that as I have an experience and let things develop, story eventually begins to take on it’s own form and tell me what it’s meant to be.

 

This Week In Photography Books: Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

by Jonathan Blaustein

The gorilla stench clings to my nostril hairs, like Pigpen’s fog. Surely, I can’t still smell the gorillas? But my nose crinkles just the same.

I saw those gorillas in the Albuquerque Zoo on Sunday morning. We took the kids down to the “big” city, (irony intended) as when you raise your children in a horse pasture, they need to get out every once in a while.

My daughter, now 3.5, had never seen zoo animals in person before. It was time.

So we put on our coats to fight the 9am chill, and decided to walk off our big breakfast at the Central Grill, a fantastic restaurant that sits astride old Route 66. It came highly recommended by my old friend David Bram, and now I’m passing the tip along to you.

I could tweet it, if I really wanted to, but I don’t think I’ll bother.

The gorillas are the first thing you come to at the Albuquerque Zoo, and I think they might want to re-think that decision. The smell traveled across a fair distance, and felt like it took up residence in my nasal cavity. You’ll have to trust me: it was awful. (Because you’re reading it on the Internet, it must be true.)

It is one of life’s deep pleasures, to introduce a child to the wonder of a kookaburra’s surreal call, the magnificence of a family of hippos exiting their pond, or the quiet, regal menace of a snow leopard sitting in its pen, perfectly still.

For most of us, seeing such creatures from a safe distance, their danger muted by cage bars, is the only way we’ll ever experience them in the real world. Unless you have mad cash to splurge on a safari, or live in a place where a tiger might actually pounce and eat you, the mediated experience is all we have.

The only time I felt scared was walking below a mountain lion, who paced back and forth in his elevated cage. My fear was real, because those monsters live very close to my house. I could presumably see one, though I hope it never happens. My brain was able to suss out the difference, so my heart beat quickened.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

The oddest moment, by far, was at the very end. (Just before we walked through the gorilla stink, which by then had managed to hang in the air, 200 feet from their habitat.) Our last visit was to the polar bear, who had no interest in swimming in his frigid water on a cold morning.

Back and forth he walked, on a concrete precipice above his abundant blue pool.

Back and forth.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.

The problem was, to the naked eye, he didn’t look real. He was only 20 feet away, true, but my brain read him as digital. A trick of the light, I’m sure, but still, I checked with my 8-year-old, who’s been raised on screens, and he agreed.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was a hi-resolution projection. A figment of the digi-verse, transposed onto reality by some next-gen projector, sitting just out the frame.

What a trip.

Are you surprised? Have you ever had the feeling before, that reality was no longer real enough? That your eyes, so accustomed to screen time, could no longer tell the difference?

I’m asking, having just put down “Geolocation,” an excellent new book by Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman, recently published by Flash Powder Projects. (A new publishing venture by the aforementioned David Bram, and his partner Jennifer Schwartz. I’ve reviewed friend’s books before, so this is no precedent. But I thought you should know, and I’ll do my best to be objective.)

I’d heard of this project before, but somehow never seen it. The premise is conceptually tight: the artists take other people’s geo-tagged tweets, track down the location where they were tweeted, photograph it, and then pair the tweet with the image.

We’ve seen stalker art before, (see Albuquerque’s own Jessamyn Lovell,) but this is something new. It has to be, as it’s based on contemporary technology. But innovation is not a guarantor of quality, so I was curious to see the book and decide for myself.

The key to the project’s success is that they choose tweets that range from random and silly, to poignant and personal. Someone dies. Someone else craves love.

The tweet suggesting that life is just like the “Harry Truman” show brings the book together. Both the ridiculous faux pas, of course, and because unlike Jim Carrey’s Truman, so many of us now choose to be observed. To proffer our lives as other people’s entertainment. (Myself included. In this very space.)

The photographs are strong, as well as diverse. We see Canada, England, New York, California, Indiana, and places in between. No-place places and someplace places. It all fits.

In general, I think the work is really strong, and I’m glad to share it with you. The flaws in the book, such as they are, come in the way the sequencing of text and imagery happens. As the publishers are very new to this, (the book is their co-launch,) and I’ve reviewed at least 200 books over the last 4.5 years, I thought it appropriate to mention this.

There are too many pictures, and the poems and mini-essays that pop up, from curators and other trendy types on the photo scene, seem placed at intervals meant to challenge our attention span. Some books need smart people to tell us that they are “IMPORTANT.”

This isn’t one of them. The combination of concept and execution means that almost any audience will get this work. It’s funny and smart and the pictures are not boring.

In the best photobooks, less is more. More is not more, because it causes our eyes to glaze over, and incites a desire to skip ahead. Narrative flow, furthermore, is a delicate beast, like a hummingbird. (It needs to be handled carefully.)

So I wholeheartedly recommend this one, and give props the artists for their diligent work, done over hundreds of days on the road. To the publishers, I also give a big thumbs up, for sticking your fresh necks out to support this collaboration. I hope you’ll take my advice in the spirit in which it was intended, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.

Bottom Line: Innovative, witty, tweet-worthy 21st C photo series.

To Purchase “Geolocation” Go Here.

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