The Art of the Personal Project: Vincent Dixon

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

Today’s featured artist:  Vincent Dixon

Pushkar Studios

Six years ago I went to the town of Pushkar with my family during their annual Camel festival, held every November at the time of the Kartic Purnima full moon. Villagers, traders and farmers come from all over Rajasthan to trade thousands of camels and horse. The town is also one of the five Dhrams or pilgrimage sites held in high esteem by Hindus. They come to pray at the most sacred of the scant four temples to Brahma in all of India (a long story why such an important God has such few temples, suffice to say he upset his wife!). This was one of our first stops in India and I was completely blown away by the exoticism of it all. It is a photographer’s dream, which in itself can become a problem. You are quickly exhausted by the intensity of the colors, the crowds, the endless possibilities. Strange as it might seem, because there is so much to process, your brain can lock down. I think that it took me a year to absorb all I had seen.

Returning a year later, I needed to try something different. The year prior I travelled light with just small cameras. The second time, I brought bigger cameras and lights. There were a number of reasons for this. First, I am fascinated by how the camera itself affects the photo we take. How, for example, bigger cameras can slow us down and perhaps force us to take a more studied photo. The Rajasthani people are incredibly handsome, the detail of their clothes and jewelry are incredible, they have an eye for color and form that few possess. I wanted my portraits to reflect this. On a photographic level I needed the precision and care that these tools bring to try to capture the subject.

Inspired by Irving Penn’s, “World In A Small Room,” I set up a small studio at the camel fair. On Monday when I got to Pushkar, I found a large tent and rented it for two days. It wasn’t ideal, it had green netting on the sides and the roof was full of holes. I had some cotton cloth died black overnight. It took most of Tuesday morning to get things set up.

I shot with both a medium format back and a Nikon. The medium format is 80 million pixels and really only works at 100 iso which makes for long exposures. It slows you down which can be a good thing. Here are some of the photos that I took with the medium format Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday.

To see more of this project, click here.  And of the festival 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 decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease. Instagram

 

The Daily Edit – Popular Science: Stephen Mallon

- - The Daily Edit

Popular Science

Photo Director: Thomas Payne
Writer: Rob Verger
Photographer: Stephen Mallon

Please read Crushed to Glory here

Heidi: Where did your affinity for shooting big industrial spaces come from?
Stephen: My interest in the  human footprint in the landscape started when I was a teenager.  I was shooting construction sites and runways as early is my junior year in highschool.  Note to self, don’t sit on the end of the runway just because it’s the best angle.
I began working with the human footprint after a trip to Niger, Africa in 2000  when my editors commented on which images were more marketable for licensing. I started concentrating on shooting landscapes that had more of an identifiable impact on the scene.  I began shooting power lines, antennas, parking lots, construction sites, tree farms, whatever I came across during my travels. Around 2007 I was approached by a book agent that I met during a portfolio review that was interested in making a book of the work.  I felt there wasn’t a cohesive enough body of work yet so we came up with the idea to focus on the recycling industry in the United States.  Ten years later I am still exploring recycling projects and the book is going to be published by Glitterati Editions!

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
I worked closely with Thomas Payne and Rob Verger on the story. Thomas and I met at a portfolio review hosted by ASMPNY and fortunately the next issue  he was working on was this issue on growth and decay which was a great fit for me. We started looking at my existing work and how to expand on it. In the end we didn’t use any of the previous recycling images I had shot which IMHO is a good sign!  Rob (who wrote the story) was also extremely helpful both in the prep and when I was shooting because he was able to keep everyone engaged while I obsessed.

What was the biggest challenge you had shooting in that environment?
Most of the challenges were in the pre-production, getting  the locations lined up. It took a few weeks of phone and emails to get the access granted.  Once we were in the main pressure for me was time. I always want to cover as much ground as possible.

What drew you to one of your first projects Brace for Impact: The Salvage of Flight 1549?
It was a historic moment because it was (and still is, almost ten years later) the only emergency crash in the water where there were zero casualties. Also while we were celebrating my wife’s birthday a guy at the bar asked “I wonder how they are going to get the plane out of the water.”  I realized I knew who might be involved.”  Weeks has the largest rotating crane on the eastern seaboard and it made sense that they could be involved. I called them and they were like, yea, we got the job, want to come down?

Was it toxic in the dumps?
As far as I know I still have ten fingers and  ten toes.

In your recycling work, was the subway car project self assigned?
YES!  I had begun working on my book American Reclamation  and spotted the barge loaded with the subway cars in New Jersey.  I approached Weeks Marine about including them in the project and they were happy  to have me (as was the MTA) to have me involved capturing the work. I had no idea at the time how the images were going to resonate with such a broad audience.

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The Daily Promo – Brad Ogbonna

 

Brad Ogbonna

Who printed it?
I went with Smartpress based in Minnesota (where I’m from) the last 3 years. I was looking for a high quality and affordable printer and most of the NY local options were a bit out of my price range when I was starting out and not exactly patient when it came to figuring out which paper to use and which printers worked best for my colors. I reached out to Smartpress and they were super helpful with sending over examples of papers and being very patient as we went back and forth on proofs.

Who designed it?
My friend Emily Kapsner www.emilykapsner.com and I put it together each year.

Tell me about the images?
I’ve been fortunate to work on a lot of different types of projects ranging from fashion, to editorial, portrait, and some documentary work so I like to include those projects alongside my own personal projects where I am doing tests with people that I meet while street casting and my photo projects on the different destinations I travel to yearly.

How many did you make?
The first year I created the promos I printed around 100 copies, the second year I printed 500, and this year I printed out 1000.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I only send out promos once a year and will periodically e-mail clients new work that I’ve shot.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes definitely! The response I get each year has been phenomenal and my first run of promos was what landed me my first big editorial gigs with the New York Times, Refinery29, and magazines like The Fader and Billboard. From there the ball really started to roll.

Now that I’m on my 3rd promo, I’ve had photo editors tell me that they look forward to receiving them each year and are now collecting them. A lot of friends and fans of photography have also reached out to ask if they can get/purchase copies. I guess it feels like a zine rather than a standardized promo so it has a different feeling to it. I carry a few copies with me on every job to show people I’m going to photograph or a leave behind for editors.

I hope to keep doing one every single year and put out like a 10-year collection or something :)

The Art of the Personal Project: Kris Davidson

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

Today’s featured artist:  Kris Davidson

As an immigrant, Kris Davidson’s personal work considers the American experience. She’s recently embarked on a new project that will touch ever state in the union. The American Imagination: Myths, Tall Tales and Legends in the United States is a writing and photography project that seeks to contextualize stories from each of the American states as an entry point to looking at modern American culture. Stories — in particular, myths, tall tales and legends that incorporate elements of the fantastical and surreal — all contain fragments of truth, holding the history, fears, hopes and aspirations of a people. The fantastical elements of a culturally held story allows for heady hyperbole in celebrating triumphs, while also providing a buffering analgesic effect in making sense of dark tragedies.

Kris projects that it will take 8 years to produce the work; she’ll be rolling out the first few states on her website (www.krisdavidson.com) in a couple of months, but for now you can keep up with the progress on her Instagram (@hellokrisdavidson)

Researchers at the UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico adjust a malfunctioning display. The New Mexico chapter of The American Imagination considers the tale of the Roswell alien crash in 1947 as well as the state’s enduring nuclear legacy.

Watery reflections undulate in opaque waters that feed into the Weeki Watchee River in Weeki Watchee, Florida . The Florida chapter of The American Imagination takes a look at the whimsical origin story of Ponce de Leon and his question for the Fountain of Youth in this sundrenched state surrounded and defined by water.

Girls at their first communion at the Santa Monica Church in north Dallas. This image is a part of the Texas chapter of The American Imagination, which considers the JFK assassination and related stories and conspiracy theories.

To see more of this project, click here.

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

The Daily Promo – Levi Mandel

Levi Mandel

Who printed it?
A friend who has a sign shop in Seattle makes most of my promos. He only does internal corporate work so he’s doing me a huge favor.

Who designed it?
I initially went to school for design and print, so I create and layout all my own material (including my website). It’s refreshing to use a different part of my brain and I actually find the work fantastically mindless and enjoyable. I like the challenge of making something simple, like black text on white, feel precise and strong and subtle at the same time.

Tell me about the image?
I was on a drive-about in a city called Mercer Island, which is like the rich, quiet, forgotten neighbor to Seattle. A lot of the neighborhoods feel like they stopped evolving after 1980, this vignette proving my point. I was actually with my cousin at the time, who patiently smoked a cigarette while I laid in some bushes to get the low perspective.

How many did you make?
500

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Usually 2, sometimes 3.

I really like single image postcard promos. Why did you choose this format and do you think it’s effective for marketing your work?
First of all, they’re cheaper than making more expensive booklets. More importantly, I like to think about who I’m sending them to, specifically art directors and photo editors. It’s important to me that anything I send out is something I’d personally want to keep at my desk or on the bulletin board. Ideally, the recipient will dig it as well, and choose to display it or share it around the office, which hypothetically will lead to an assignment. I don’t really see the point of putting time and energy into something that you’re not super stoked on yourself. The card is also a great leave-behind at meetings – they’re always a huge hit as I usually have several different images. I only ever let the editor pick one, like a Pokemon. Gotta collect them all.

The Daily Edit – The Drake: Darcy Bacha

- - The Daily Edit

 

The Drake

Designer: Mark Lesh
Photographer: Darcy Bacha

Heidi: How many years have you been doing this 6 week fishing/photo trip?
Darcy: Eric and I have been going up North for about 6 falls in a row now. I try to make it up during the spring as well, but that trip is usually harder to swing because of working as a snowboarding photographer. I did however get to spend some serious time on the Skeena this spring because of Eric’s Alignment movie project we worked on.

How did you meet Eric?
I randomly met Eric Jackson at a burger spot in Pemberton British Columbia, He’s one of the most influential back country snowboarders in the world.  We were both on snowboarding trips at the time, but naturally didn’t talk about snowboarding for a second. Within an hour of meeting we had already planned our first of many steel heading fly fishing trips to Northern BC.  the second time I met him was in Portland at the beginning of that said trip.

Have you sold many of the images from this trip?
As far as selling images, I always have my camera with me, I spend so much time fishing though it only comes out at very special moments.  Those moments usually end up in a magazine.

How long have you been shooting for The Drake?
I’ve been submitting images to them for probably 7 or 8 years now.  But I haven’t really done any assignment work until this spring for Alignment. Fly-fishing has always been my focus and the photography has really just been in the back ground. It wasn’t until this year I started realizing it could be incorporated into my annual income along with Snowboarding photography.

Have you always fished or did this start when you moved to the Pacific North West?
I’ve been fishing since I can remember. Some of my first memories are of splashing around in a creek with a net trying to catch minnows and crayfish. When I moved to the pacific northwest I discovered fly fishing.

How many photos did you trade for the fish?
HA! I feel like I’ve probably more likely traded fish for the photographs.  Although I like to think that every time I pick up my camera the fish probably weren’t gonna bite my fly then anyways.

Did you scout that opening shot and have that visualized?
That shot just came naturally. Me and my buddy’s go large mouth bass fishing in a local lake.  This just happened to be one of those mornings where I put down my fly rod and picked up the camera because the moment was so special.

Was this shoot part of your annual trip with Eric?
Well, it was more of a fly fishing tournament then a photography shoot, me and my dirtbag friends put on this 3 day bass tournament every year.  The conditions at this specific lake make for some pretty incredible foggy mornings.

This Week in Photography Books: Claire Rosen

 

Imagine an alien planet, teeming with life.

There are plants, trees, rivers, oceans, and lots of creatures. Bunnies, of course, but also lizards, horses, orangutans, beetles, rhinoceros, and thousands of other species.

(Or their alien-planet equivalent.)

Then, all of a sudden, (in geo-time,) a new species emerges, called the Krackstock. These Krackstock are rapacious, and begin churning through the planet’s resources.

Soon, they enslave the chicken, cow and pig-like creatures, and set up death camps for each species. After the ritualized killing, at massive scale, the Krackstock would then eat their victims.

Eventually, most of the existing species were in peril, as was the health of the entire eco-system of the planet. (I don’t know, let’s call this fictional planet Narcinon.)

If you were watching a movie, a great early-George-Lucas-style sci-fi flick, wouldn’t the Krackstock be the bad guys?

They’d have to be, right?
Devouring an entire planet?

We’d hate the Krackstock, and actively root against them, as some Super-Bunny came along to save the day!

(I’m guessing you’re on to my sly metaphor by now…)

According to all science, we, humanity, are living in a burning building of our own making, yet many actively deny it’s even happening. (Frog, meet pot.)

As Climate Change seems so enormous, yet not-sinister, it’s a menace that might make Earth uninhabitable for almost any life.

How is this not a greater priority for people?

I think it’s exactly because the problem is immense but faceless. It seems like there’s nothing to be done, but that’s not true.

Sure, you can install LED lights and save electricity. Put in solar panels. Eat less meat. Buy a more gas-efficient or electric car. Minimize your use of packaging.

Recycle.
Re-use.

But there’s one, concrete maneuver that you don’t hear enough about…

Planting trees.

Trees, as we all learn in 3rd grade science, breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. Trees actively battle Climate Change, and as places can be de-forested, so too can they be re-forested.

We just planted in 3 aspens and a pine tree last week, and eventually they’ll provide plentiful shade, which will keep our house cooler as the planet warms. (We make such considerations at this point. Don’t you?)

Fighting back by beautifying your yard, and adding to the splendor of nature is a no-brainer. And now’s your last chance before Fall, as it will be too hot to plant in a week or two. (Most places.)

This idea, though, that we’re girding ourselves for tougher times ahead, feels like it’s in the air. Similar periods of political upheaval and partisan turmoil have been messy, in America’s history, not to mention increasing pressures being put on governments, economies and societies by extreme weather.

I haven’t written about the 21st Century Hustle for a while, as even great catch-phrases get old. (Then they go off to Arizona and retire quietly to a life of “Murder, She Wrote” and bad Chinese food at 4:30pm.)

The 21st Century Hustle was an idea borne of necessity, which theorized that in a perma-freelance world, creatives should build multiple skill sets, so they can offer more value to the community, but also because it makes a person stronger and better.

Learning to paint can make you a better photographer, essentially. (Or learning to cook, dance, sing, etc.)

But while it’s easy to espouse advice like “get out of your comfort zone,” it’s much more difficult for a person to get a
“How To” guide, a set of parameters, without learning from a teacher directly.

Though I actually became an artist after serving self-help guru Julia Cameron at a restaurant back in 1995, (long story,) I don’t normally read those types of books myself.

One great way to break out of habits is to actively try new things, so after a friend recommended a great book about dharma and Yogic philosophy, (which I loved,) I decided it was time to push further in the opposite direction, and read “Imaginarium: The Process Behind the Pictures,” by Claire Rosen, published by Rocky Nook.

I don’t normally review books like this, as you know, but a colleague recommended it a few months ago, after reading in the column that we’re looking for submissions from female photographers. (We still are. Come on, ladies, please help me keep some balance here…)

I’ll say from the outset that I didn’t exactly find myself cozying up to Ms. Rosen’s voice in my ear, but I appreciated almost everything she said.

Having been through graduate school, therapy, and 13 years of teaching, I was familiar with most of her ideas and references: Jung, the Collective Unconscious, meditation, getting enough sleep.

I nodded along for most of the book, constantly impressed at how thorough Ms. Rosen was as a guide. She offers ideas on:

How to search for ideas in your own past.

How to use different techniques to stimulate creativity, like exercise or getting enough alone-time.

How to build teams of capable people.

That a book that quotes Tony Robbins also has exacting sample schedules for commercial photo shoots, and graphs and charts for how to brainstorm or find personal branding information, is kind of rare.

Basically, I was flabbergasted that this book is just So. Damn. Thorough.

That word, “commercial,” used to pop up more here in the column than it does these days. I think, back in 2010, there were still more stringent lines between aspects of the medium: commercial, documentary, fine art.

These days, such notions of consistent, long-term employment with one publication, or of firm striations within the industry, seem quaint.

Rather, Ms. Rosen comes across as the consummate hustler herself, and I appreciate her game, if not her personal photographic aesthetic.

It was the one part of the book that stuck in my craw a bit, (along with the oddly changing fonts,) the attempt to make it part-photo-book by including small selections of Ms. Rosen’s work throughout. I could see the strings behind it, the attempt to brand in many ways as possible, because a part of the book quotes directly from a branding consultant that Ms. Rosen hired, Beth Taubner.

There was corporate-branding-speak alongside ideas about Feng Shui, color theory, suggestions for organizing your desk, and other small-scale concepts that I admit I’m still thinking about.

I’m also not-too-far away from doing some of the brainstorming exercises Ms. Rosen recommends, or at least forcing myself do journal and make lists. (Other ideas she discusses.)

While her voice is not my voice, (jokey-and-discursive,) she communicates effectively, and I was able to read it for chunks at a time. (Today’s Wednesday, and I finished the book yesterday after staring Monday morning, as I promised you.)

Basically, I read this book to review for you guys, but came away feeling I had some fresh motivation to push myself, and a few new ideas too.

Most people think they have things sorted, and don’t need help. But a jolt of someone else’s energy every now and again, even if it means reading, (rather than listening,) is a great idea.

If you’re up for a kick-in-the-pants, and a lot of practical advice, this book might be perfect for your summer reading list.

(Again with the lists?)

Bottom Line: Serious, thorough guide to creativity and success

To purchase “Imaginarium” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me directly at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in submissions from female photographers, so we we can maintain a balanced program.

The Art of the Personal Project: Todd Weaver

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

Today’s featured artist:  Todd Weaver

I counted audibly…one,two, three, clicking the shutter each time I got to five. I was standing on a mark I placed on the floor of my studio that I could not move from.  While my subjects could move freely, in and out of the frame  indicated by tape marks on the floor.  I did this 36 times continuously, equaling 3 minutes time.

This limitation is the foundation of my new book 36.

The idea came to me a couple of years ago after I bought an Olympus Half-frame camera made in the 60’s.  I became enamored with the black line in between each frame. I imagined the grid of 36 photos not unlike a contact sheet but different.

My subjects: 36 artists that are a part of my artistic community in Los Angeles. People I admire for their art, their humanity and their passion. Many of whom I have known for a decade.

The first person I shot for the book was my friend Devendra Banhart. Our mutual friend Mel Shimkovitz was over at Dev’s house during our shoot  and when I described what I was doing, she interrupted me by saying “yeah, yeah, I get it. You’re doing this whole John Cage thing.”  Using fate and giving up control to define the outcome.  Little did I know the outcome would be capturing my community, something I had been wanting to do for a long time.

The people in the book didn’t know anything about the limitation until they came to my studio. They only knew that it would be shot in black and white against a white wall.

I kept this project a secret for 2 years and I’m thrilled to finally share it.

Andru Sisson

Ariana Papademotroupolis

Devendra Banhart

Elena Stonaker

Eric Johnson

Jasmine Albuquerque

Mark Maggiori

Ryan Heffington

Zak Schlagel

To see more of this project, click here.

To purchase 36, click here

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

Dora Somosi’s Journey From Photography Director To Photographer

- - Working

aPhotoEditor: Can you tell me how you came to work at GQ?

Dora Somosi: I studied art history in college, and I had aspirations of being a photographer, and my incredible, but very practical, Hungarian immigrant parents encouraged me to find a career that would make it possible for me to support myself. I didn’t want to abandon photography, though, so I got a job at Magnum Photos—the agency that owned the archive of a photographer I idolized, the Hungarian photojournalist Robert Capa. I like to say that Magnum was my graduate program in photography history. My time there overlapped with Natasha Lunn and Justin O’Neill, both currently brilliant photo directors, plus uber-agent Liz Leavitt, David Strettel of Dashwood Books, and Chris Boot of Aperture—all formidable influences at the start of my career in photography. It was a brilliant time to work there—because of my co-workers, of course, but even more because of Magnum’s 50 internationally renowned photographers. I got to work with them every day, and every day was hilarious and inspiring, working together as a cooperative, even if sometimes all those talented and strong-willed people in one place made it operate more like an uncooperative. After the experience of being an agent at Magnum, I knew I wanted to be on the assigning side of photography, and so I worked my way through magazine photo departments until I landed my then dream job as the Director of Photography at GQ, working with the design force, Fred Woodward.

aPE: GQ had such a strong reputation for photography during your tenure, can you tell me why it was such a focus for the magazine?

DS: Thank you for saying that. I worked on the visuals for GQ for a decade, and it means a lot to receive praise for all that I accomplished during my tenure there. I was fortunate to arrive at GQ when Jim Nelson was just starting out as editor-in-chief, and he invested a lot of money and attention on modernizing the GQ brand through the use of photography. He let me build a roster that could include a wide breadth of visual styles — Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, Martin Schoeller, Robert Polidori, Ben Lowy. He also gave me the latitude to develop new talent in fashion photography while also being as ambitious as possible with the biggest names in the industry.

aPE: After working with such talented photographers, what made you think you could become one?

DS: I didn’t set out to become a full-time photographer after I decided to leave GQ. It happened organically. I left in large part because I wanted to spend a lot more time with my family and more time outdoors. Maintaining work-life balance everyone talks about had become untenable for me. At the same time, I had identified myself for so long as a successful working woman, and my identity was completely bound up in that professional success. I felt really lost for that first year. That’s when I started taking my own photographs, documenting our family time together in upstate New York.

Once I developed a new body of work, I began sharing it with friends and trusted former colleagues. I feel lucky to be surrounded by so many strong women who appreciated the work and who backed up their words with assignments, shooting artists and interiors and travel destinations.  It was incredible meeting all those other creative women who weren’t at corporate jobs, or on paths to their next job, and who were also successful and fulfilled. In my previous career, I’d come up through institutions, in the editorial and commercial fields. My evolution as a photographer has taken a very different path. My work is personal, and primarily landscape photography—pretty much the precise opposite of glossy shoots for which GQ is so renowned.

aPE: Tell me about your journey from hiring photographers to becoming one?

DS: I was introduced to black-and-white printing at an early age by my step-grandfather who was an accomplished amateur photographer in Hungary, where I was born. I remember pouring over his documentary photography dating back to World War II, in particular, the Russian occupation of Hungary. I’ve been taking photographs since high school, and I studied at ICP when it was still a dilapidated mansion on the Upper East Side. I published work in magazines and had one brief stint as a set photographer on low-budget movies, including one with Michael Showalter. And I took lots and lots of portraits of friends and other people I knew.

When I left magazines to go back to making my own pictures, it was a means to find an identity for myself, one that was just for me and wasn’t tied to being a mother or a wife or a picture editor. I had a successful side business consulting for photographers and independent brands, so I had the room to explore without the pressure of having to sell work.

I learned post production and master printing, and I educated myself about the technical side of making fine-art prints. I studied with Ben Gest at ICP—a brilliant fine art photographer and the most patient teacher I’ve ever known.  I was taking landscapes and still lives, then printing them large scale. In the beginning, they were pure homages to nature—the healing power of the natural landscape, and a sort of love letter slash thank-you note to upstate New York for rescuing me at a crossroads in my life.

But then the 2016 election happened, and suddenly nothing looked as pretty to me anymore. I poured my feelings into my work, digitally manipulating the landscape, and once I started to mess with the images, I could feel my voice emerging as a photographer. That body of work resulted in my first show in Brooklyn, Altered Landscapes. I had a lot riding on that show—I was worried that if I didn’t sell any prints, it would be a clear sign that I should give up. Instead, my show nearly sold out, and my pieces are now in the collections of trustees from renowned art institutions, business leaders, accomplished interior designers wonderful former colleagues from GQ. That show gave me the confidence I needed to keep at it.

aPE: Can you reflect on what it feels like to now to be on the other side and pitch yourself as a photographer?

DS: Well, that has been a real revelation! I wish I’d been this vulnerable while I was a picture editor. To know what it feels like to spend years pouring your heart and soul into this collection of images, and then show them to someone who’ll spend maybe 15 minutes flipping through them with you. I now understand just how thick-skinned you have to be. I always think about my mentor, the late George Pitts, who I worked with at Vibe Magazine and who gave every photographer all his time, his care and his insight. I think his decency came in part because he had his own work, and like all of us he was surely a little fragile about how people reacted to it, and so he treated everyone’s photographs with the care he’d like to receive himself. I’m learning on the fly just how brave you have to be now just to create a body of work from scratch, but also share it with the world, in galleries, in meetings, on social media—everywhere. I’m also seeking out teaching opportunities at places like SVA, mentoring students and working with photographers to help them achieve their vision. When I was working in magazines, I didn’t have the luxury of that kind of time. Now I do and it helps me connect my experiences in agencies and magazines with my current practice.

aPE: Tell me about your show at NeueHouse in LA?

DS: This will be my second solo show, and this time I’m working with a curator and a whole team of people, which is very exciting. Making my photographs is pretty solitary work, so this is a welcome break from that—a chance to collaborate with other creative people on a larger show for a wider audience. This show will focus on a body of work I made in Mexico City. These images, like my other work, begin with a layer grounded in reality, in this case, architecture, and then through color collage, they build into a fantastical, hyper-real expression of my interaction with the city, its people, and its kinetic energy. There are strong influences of Josef Albers’ work in Mexico, the colors from Luis Barragán homes, and the Bauhaus movement.

The show will also highlight my floral work, which will also be on view at ICFF in May. This work has parallels to the Mexico City work in terms of its use of saturated colors, and the tondo format. The florals—records of moments both happy and sad—achieve an eerie sense of perfection, fragile and fleeting, whose authenticity is meant to feel dubious. The flowers, though ravishing in life as in death, serve as the vanitas: a reminder of the inevitability of change. I invite viewers to look with attention at such seductive natural beauty without forgetting all there is to lose. And finally, there will be a preview of photographs I am currently at work on—seascapes, meditations on the horizon inspired by Hiroshi Sugimoto. The simplicity of the seascapes is meant to draw the viewer’s attention to the building blocks of our existence, and the ease with which we can squander the most fundamental elements of life, water, and air.

The Color of Air, an exhibition of new and recent work exploring architectural and environmental abstraction will open at NeueHouse Hollywood on June 28, 2018.

See more of my work at dorasomosi.com
and through IG – @dorasomosiphotography

The Daily Edit – National Geographic: Vaughn Wallace and Randy Olson

- - The Daily Edit

Cover illustration by Jorge Gamboa/Courtesy National Geographic

Photograph by Randy Olson / National Geographic.

After sheets of clear plastic trash have been washed in the Buriganga River, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a woman spreads them out to dry, turning them regularly—while also tending to her son. The plastic will eventually be sold to a recycler. Less than a fifth of all plastic gets recycled globally. In the U.S. it’s less than 10 percent.

Photograph by Justin Hofman / National Geographic
To ride currents, seahorses clutch drifting seagrass or other natural debris. In the polluted waters off the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, this seahorse latched onto a plastic cotton swab—“a photo I wish didn’t exist,” says photographer Justin Hofman.

 

Photograph by Randy Olson / National Geographic
Under a bridge on a branch of the Buriganga River in Bangladesh, a family removes labels from plastic bottles, sorting green from clear ones to sell to a scrap dealer. Waste pickers here average around $100 a month.

 

Photograph by Randy Olson / National Geographic
Trucks full of plastic bottles pull into a recycling facility in Valenzuela, Philippines. The bottles were plucked from the streets of metropolitan Manila by waste pickers, who sell them to scrap dealers, who bring them here. The plastic bottles and caps will be shredded, sold up the recycling chain, and exported.

 

Photograph by Randy Olson / National Geographic
Colored chips of plastic—collected, washed and sorted by hand—dry on the banks of the Buriganga. About 120,000 people work in the informal recycling industry in and around Dhaka, where 18 million inhabitants generate some 11,000 tons of waste a day.

 

Photograph by Randy Olson / National Geographic

 

National Geographic: Planet or Plastic


Creative Director: Emmet Smith
Photography Director: Sarah Leen
Senior Photo Editor: Vaughn Wallace
Photographers: Randy Olson, Justin Hofman for images listed above

Heidi: How many countries and photographers were involved?
Vaughn: Our feature spans 52 pages and highlights photography from fourteen different photographers. The majority of the feature was photographed by long-time contributor Randy Olson, who shot nearly 50,000 photos across seven countries.

What was the time frame for this assignment as it involved so much travel for the photo team?  
Vaughn: We’ve been discussing the idea of a large feature focused on plastic around the world for years, but it really started coming together in spring 2017. Randy and I began a period of immense research in early summer, looking for locations where we could show the grand scale of plastic pollution. Shooting took place throughout the fall and winter, with Randy carrying a grueling travel itinerary between multiple countries until late January. In early February, Randy returned to NG headquarters in Washington DC, where we spent several days together editing his entire take, presenting his coverage to the magazine staff and beginning work on the print and digital layouts.

How has your daily use of plastic changed after this project?
Vaughn:During my research on the story, one expert recommended practicing what I came to understand as ‘plastic mindfulness’ – being hyper-aware of how the material has permeated every aspect of our individual lives. One morning, I began to count the number of plastic objects I interacted with, from the moment I woke up to when I walked out the front door. I touched 73 plastic objects in about an hour: everything from the buttons on my shirt to the orange juice container in my refrigerator, the shower curtain and the toilet seat to the snaps on my backpack and my phone charger.

Once you become aware of the scale of plastic waste around the world, it’s hard not to think about the impact of your own consumer choices. It isn’t a matter of cutting plastic out of your life completely as much as reducing extraneous plastic day-to-day. When ordering a soda at a restaurant, ask the server to not bring a straw. When buying just a few items at the supermarket, refuse the plastic bag. So much of our consumer plastic waste is born out of small, mindless convenience.

Working on this project also made me more aware of larger lingering questions. If plastic bottle caps will sit for hundreds of years in a landfill, why are we throwing them away after a single use? If certain colored dyes make a plastic less recyclable, why should we dye plastic at all? In what world do we need to wrap a single banana in plastic film? As depressing as the scale of the problem can sometimes be, there’s tons of potential for future change.

National Geographic’s Planet or Plastic? campaign is a multi-year initiative aimed at raising awareness of the global plastic crisis and reducing the amount of single-use plastic that is polluting our world’s oceans.

I know you’ve done extensive work with National Geographic, whats was directive from the magazine for this feature and what did you hope to share with the world as a photographer?
My directives from NG have always been open ended… stories like the Pygmies are losing their forests…OR the Ogallala Aquifer is being depleted. My friends and family accuse me of being Mr. Gloom and Doom for all the facts I have filed away when I tackle a story with difficult issues. A big factor in survival as a National Geographic photographer has always been the ability to research and resolve your own narrative. It’s the only magazine I know that gives photographers that level of freedom.

So, of course, the catchlines we’ve all been seeing this last year like: “There will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050” OR only 9 percent of plastic waste is recycled—these were part of my thinking. But the focus of the first @natgeo Instagram posts is my main narrative: There are millions of slum workers around the world involved in an informal plastic waste industry that is “always hiring.” This third-world “gold rush” to process plastic waste is an economy with no end in sight. One big reason this will continue is the shale oil boom – companies that are in the early years of gearing up “cracker plants” that “crack”  frack-gas-molecules into mostly single-use-plastic for food packaging. Plans are in the works for more cracker plants that will push peak plastic production all the way out to the year 2100. Despite growing concern and much discussion in the media this past year, these corporations plan for more and more single-use-plastic in our lives.

With burgeoning populations and ramped up plastic production, the only way to reduce plastic waste is to consume less. The zero-waste movement is more established in Europe, but there is a USA vanguard. I photographed a zero-waste-blogger who managed to accumulate only one jar of landfill trash over the last two years She adheres to the movement’s mantra: Refuse, Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Rot (Compost). In her world recycling is a last ditch alternative to Refuse, Reduce and Re-use.

Are you editing as you shoot each location? The images have a haunting beauty to them, were they difficult for you to to review due the large human imprint we have on the planet.
Yes, I edit as I go along because ultimately I am story boarding a small movie (the movie never is shot but the still pictures need to relate to each other and move the narrative along). So as I shoot and edit day by day I’m looking for bullet points that are missing from the narrative. When I returned from the field, my editor, Vaughn Wallace reviewed the entire take to weigh in on the strength of the images, and we worked together to select photos that build continuity to the story.

Did you have any challenges photographing your subjects in the more rural areas?
I was mostly in the slums and dumpsites of megacities but everyone couldn’t be friendlier. The only bad street vibe I got was in Freeport TX where I photographed aerials of a cracker plant built in a precarious site at sea level. My heart went out to a plastic worker in Manila who wasgreeting mourners at a funeral on the street. His wife (also a plastic picker) was in a shrink wrapped plastic coffin that sat on a street in the middle of the city’s informal plastic waste industry. And photographing artisanal trash picking at dump sites is very dangerous. Many workers have died as they try to pick scraps of plastic while standing on top of a load as it shifted by a huge track hoe. Walls of trash can collapse and bury people, and I needed to be right next to pickers when they are working.

You’ve been documenting stories for National Geographic for sometime and have founded the The Photo Society, what made this assignment stand out for you?
I am amazed by the magnitude of plastic. It was difficult thing to show size and scale and amounts of trash. I wanted to photograph people in relation to the plastic In hopes that it would not add to compassion fatigue about global problems.

How was your daily use of plastic changed after this project?
We live in a world of too many people with too many needs so many of my stories revolve around how resource extraction screws the little guy or the environment. So the idea of getting rid of plastic waste is fraught with problems. What helped me understand how to do this in my life is the zero waste movement in Europe. This charge is being led primarily by young women who are tired of the abuses of consumerism. They educate anyone who is interested in a very kind way, that, for example, adopting a zero waste lifestyle can save you money, time and reduce the plastic waste in the world. So I bought a tin for toothpaste because tooth paste tubes (like potato chip bags) have so many layers of materials they can never be recycled. We recycle and compost for the last 20 years, but we always wondered if it mattered. I realized I needed to do more. My wife bought beeswax resin cotton cloths that we are using instead of plastic wrap for food storage. I bought a stainless container to take to restaurants for carry out. I bought a really cool red double walled titanium coffee container to take to coffee shops. These items in anyone’s personal life means they aren’t buying one-use-plastic that becomes trash in a matter of minutes. The one hard part of recycling is knowing only 9 percent is ever turned into plastic objects…and now there is more pressure and fewer options since China stopped taking a lot of our plastic waste.

The Daily Promo – Cedric Angeles

Cedric Angeles

Who printed it?
Newspaper Club in the UK. www.newspaperclub.com I have always liked Newsprint and Newspaper Club was an easy choice. I uploaded my layout to their website and they turned it around fairly quickly.

Who designed it?
I designed it myself. My wife, who is an artist, helped me with editing the images. My priority was to make it simple and make it all about the images. And more importantly, I wanted the process of making the promo to be quick and easy. Once, I had the final images, going to press went quickly.

Tell me about the images?
The Images are part of an editorial story originally commissioned by British Airways High Life Magazine. I went to Mexico City to document the art scene; photographing established and up and coming artists, gallerists, galleries, museums and the city itself. It was a fantastic assignment.

How many did you make?
I had 150 printed. Sent to my favorite editorial and advertising clients.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I actually have not sent a promo out myself in years. My previous agent handled it for me and that worked out well. I am not a big promo person and not because I don’t want to do it, sometimes I just get too ambitious in the design phase that it takes too long and I never gets done. I am sure most photographers are guilty of doing the same thing. So, I am trying to change that this year, hence the simple design of the “Angeles Journal” promo. I am planning to print 4 of the Angeles Journal during the year, a quarterly. And using my favorite commissioned and personal stories per issue. A big reason for this promo is that I love to share these stories the way I visualize it with my own edit after it comes out in the magazine version. To be able to lay out my own version is always exciting.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I think printed promos are effective if you make it personal. And that is very subjective. I am also a big believer in sending to smaller client list instead of sending out thousands. Pick your favorite your clients, keep it small. I established myself at the beginning of my career as a magazine photographer, so I love print. I think printed promos if done right is the most personal way to share your work, hopefully, that makes if the most effective.

This Week in Photography Books: Katsu Naito

 

Once upon a time, Billy and Sally Bunny were frolicking in the front yard.

Behind them, Aspen trees swayed in the light breeze; the leaf-flutter shadows dancing on the wall.

(Yes, bunnies know what shadows are. Duh! What did you think, bunnies were dumb, because they have small brains?)

Sally Bunny had her back to the trees, and the rich, red fence behind them. Billy Bunny faced her, his back heels sitting on the concrete steps that divided the front yard in two equal parts.

(Of course bunnies can do math. Get with the program!)

Sally and Billy faced off, and then Sally pounced at Billy, her front legs a blur, like vintage Cassius Clay, as they forced Billy back.

“I didn’t have to step back, you know. I wanted to,” he taunted.

“You wanted to? Are you fucking kidding me? I made you step back. My Bunny-Fu is far too quick for the likes of you. Puny bunny,” Sally replied.

“Oh yeah, let’s go again. Again, I say. Again!”

The bunnies resumed their positions, and upon some instinct-driven signal, Sally pounced, and Billy retreated.

Again.

“I did it again! Admit it. You’re no match for me.”

“Whatever. You’re faster. A better bunny-fighter. I get it. You win. Satisfied?”

“Not really. When you put it like that, it takes all the fun out of it,” Sally said.

“Fine. I’ll try again. You’re the best bunny fighter I know. Much quicker than I will ever, ever, ever be. (Pause) Is that better?”

“I’ll accept it.”

“Do you think the humans know we can see them,” Billy asked?

“What do you mean, do the humans know we can see them?”

“Standing there at the window. The four of them. Do you think they know that we know that they’re watching us,” Billy wondered again in earnest?

“They must know,” Sally replied. “They must. How could they not? Just because they’re humans, and we’re bunnies, that doesn’t mean we don’t have eyes and brains? That we can’t distinguish a human from a hawk from a field mouse? Why would they think that?”

“Good point, cousin. That wouldn’t make any sense. They must know we can see them, and that we can talk to each other, same as they can. And that you’re a better fighter than I am, but my Greek Salad is the bomb.

“Speaking of which, I hope the human boy watches “Chopped” again tonight so I can pick up some more tricks,” Billy said, and then the two bunnies hopped off.

END SCENE.

We watched those bunnies this week, after my daughter noticed them facing off. I’m 100% certain the above story is true, and you’ll never convince me otherwise.

But I thought about the whole thing again today after looking at “Once in Harlem,” a new photobook by Katsu Naito, published by TBW Books in Oakland.

Man, is this a cool book.
I love it.

(Pause)

Now that the transition is over with, I have an announcement to make. This is the first week in many months that I didn’t publish a female photographer in this slot.

I made up my own rule to alternate male and female photographers, as a way of creating a balance to a book selection that had become wholly unbalanced. (Almost all men.)

Today, (I’m writing on Thursday,) I honestly didn’t have a book in the stack I could review by a female artist, and I’ve put out the call many ways, as you’ve seen. I’ll do more outreach in the coming weeks, and do have a potential book for next week that is reading-heavy, so I’ll get started on that first thing Monday morning.

But I’m not going to compromise the integrity of the column, and am featuring a photographer of color today instead, so I think that satisfies the spirit of diversity we’re trying to foster here at APE.

Back to the book.

The end notes confirm that the Katsu Naito lived in Harlem from 1988-94, but really, it doesn’t matter.

The looks on the subjects faces, of suspicion, disdain, hopeful curiosity, sardonic humor, or straight-up-stare-down, are so damn good.

Some of these people look at Katsu Naito like he’s an Alien with three arms sticking out of his head. Or the Earth-bound ghost of Andre the Giant.

Or a talking bunny!

This book is one of the rare occasions where you really don’t need words at all.

We can imagine them.

When I looked at one photo, I heard Gary Coleman’s voice spontaneously in my head, “Whachoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”

(I swear.)

And when I got to the picture of the little baby holding a bottle, mad-dogging the camera, I nearly peed in my pants. (And I never pee my pants.)

Oh man, this stuff is funny.

It’s rare that photographs so clearly depict the residue of the interaction between photographer and sitter. The exchange is written all over their faces.

The photographs are evidence that getting out of your lane in life can provoke strong reactions, but also opportunities for massive growth and new knowledge.

I don’t know Katsu Naiuto personally, but I’d be willing to bet he came out of his time living in Harlem, (six years,) a wiser, different person.

It serves as another great reminder why supporting diversity matters. When people from different backgrounds and cultures mix, new ideas emerge.

Until next week…

Bottom Line: Fantastic portraits by a Japanese guy in Harlem

To purchase “Once in Harlem” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in submissions from female photographers. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Clay Cook

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

Today’s featured artist:  Clay Cook

While stationed in Tanzania in 2015, the crew and myself met a man named Adrian McCrae who had been casually enjoying a Kilimanjaro Beer at the Mount Meru Hotel bar. Adrian owned a mining company in northern Australia and did a lot of humanitarian work throughout Tanzania, but his passion was paragliding. We soon came to discover, Adrian led an expedition entitled Wings Of Kilimanjaro, in which a group of brave paragliding pilots trek up Mount Kilimanjaro and sail off the top. He and his expedition are the only group allowed by Tanzanian law to make the jump, as they are one of the leading charitable organizations in Tanzania. Top paragliding pilots from all over the world raise thousands to have this adventure of a lifetime.

When I learned I would have the opportunity to scale the highest free-standing mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro, I was on my death-bed at 311 pounds and 50% body fat. One year later, I set foot on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Then, along with an expedition of 16 professional pilots, attempted to paraglide off the summit. I had lost nearly 130 pounds and helped raise nearly half a million dollars for clean water and education in Tanzania, Africa. Although our project Wings of Kilimanjaro pulled off an amazing feat and set a Guinness World Record, I believe our greatest accomplishment was not sailing off a volcano at 19,341 feet. Our triumph was raising nearly a half-million dollars for the progress of education and clean water in Tanzania. Kilimanjaro had set a beacon, sparked a fire and cleared a black cloud. It was a gift, that solidified my wellness journey and provided a new sense of strength. I guess you could say it saved my life.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

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

 

Pricing & Negotiating: Comparing Two Bids with Identical Concepts

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Employee profile in multiple workplace situations

Client A: Fortune 500 professional services and consulting company

Client B: Fortune 500 insurance company

Here are the estimates:

screenshot of a pricing estimate for a professional services and consulting company

Estimate for Client A 

screenshot of a pricing estimate for a large insurance company

Estimate for Client B 

I thought it might be interesting to present two bids for very similar projects, in similar markets, shot by comparably experienced photographers, for two different Fortune 500 companies with wildly different bottom lines.

One client (A) was a professional services and consulting company, the other (B) was a large insurance company. Both concepts were nearly identical – profile an employee, shoot in a few different situations in/around the workplace in an “editorial style,” with a change or two of wardrobe ranging from street clothes to active-wear to business attire. The resulting imagery would effectively be the same from both shoots.

There was a subtle but significant disparity in the usage; Client B required more limited use (just Web Collateral) of an unspecified number of images for one year. Client A required a slightly broader use (Collateral and Publicity) of an unspecified number of images for a much longer duration (forever). Despite not being willing to limit the usage to a specific number of images, they both expressed reasonable expectations, 3-5 finished images. Generally, we prefer limiting the usage to a set number of images, but considering the nature of the concepts and usage, it was pretty clear that whatever value they might be able to squeeze out, the entire shoot would be limited by the fact that we were shooting just one subject in 2-3 different scenarios. The variations would be subtle and likely wouldn’t generate a significant amount of value relative to the hero images. As such, we were comfortable foregoing the limitation on the number of images in both cases.

The other divergence was in the production expectations, which varied quite a bit. Client A expected a low-impact, editorial-style approach, while Client B expected a more comprehensive approach with a fair amount of production support, replete with a tech/scout day, stylist, digital tech, supplemental wardrobe, and catering.

What’s most interesting and noteworthy is the difference in the overall budget allocated, and specifically the photography fees. Bear in mind these are two companies that operate on the same scale. We were only able to muscle out a $1,800 creative fee from Client A, including the more extensive usage. Our first bid was more than double the bottom line shown here and we were ultimately presented with a take it or leave it budget. On the other hand, Client B accepted a $5,500 creative fee for more limited usage.

There are countless justifications for the discrepancy. Organizational structure, intended use (passive profile page vs. an internal campaign), the importance of the subject, fiscal timing (one may have had money to burn, who knows), audience (consumer, trade, internal, external, etc.) all factor into the value a client attributes to any given project.

Licensing value is subjective, driven more-so by the client’s expectations than anything else. Until we determine otherwise, we approach each potential project and bid with the assumption that the client has high expectations for quality and a budget to match. From there, we sometimes whittle down as needed to land the gig, while avoiding the pitfalls of underbidding (leaving money on the table, doing more production work than agreed to, etc.).

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

Peloton Magazine: Paolo Ciaberta

- - The Daily Edit

Peloton Magazine

Creative Director/Photo Editor: Tim Schamber
Photographer: Paolo Ciaberta


Heidi: How did the project come about and is this the first time you’ve worked with Peloton?
Paolo: My first collaboration with Peloton was in 2014, I proposed a reportage about the cycling path from Venice to Turin along the Po river. The Morocco trip my friends and I were looking for a ride in an exotic place but not too far from Italy where I’m based so it was a perfect opportunity.

How long did the trip take?
Due to work commitments we decided on 7 days for the entire trip. One day of transportations and six days to ride. Average 80-90km/day, not too much because we don’t want to only pedal but also discover people and places.

Do you often ride, write and shoot?
While I wrote the article, I’m not a proper writer but in this instance I tried to communicate my experiences and sensations, in addition to some technical details. For longer and more articulated articles I prefer to work with professional writers.

How difficult was the photo edit and approx how many images did you take?
More or less 600 images for the entire trip. There are two different aspects that I consider while editing.  First is selection of the images and second the post-production; I don’t like too much elaboration on my pictures.  I make little adjustment of levels, lights, shadows and contrast. I think that photo reportage should be real as possible, too much editing makes images artificial or constructed.  The trick is to find the right balance and choose the photos that best describe your work

Was it difficult to protect your gear from the travel/weather?
After years of experience I’ve achieved a good level of protetcion for my equipment, Olympus Italia provided me an excellent mirrorless camera (Pen F) that is easy to transport due to its small size but also resistant to bad weather. Basically the biggest problems during bike packing trips could be dust, rain, condensation and vibrations. Rain in Morocco is rare but dust and condensation could happen, a good plastic bag with smaller little salt bags solve the problem and you can go everywhere. Furthermore I use little stripes of foam rubber to avoid the vibrations when the camera is in the bags.

 

This Week in Photography Books: M L Casteel

 

Last Friday, my dog died, and I sold my car.

In the same morning.

By Monday, I had a better car, and a profound sense that a new phase in my life had just begun.

You can dismiss it as Taos-New-Age-mumbo-jumbo if you like, but in my experience, our lives are almost always divvied up into chapters.

You move.
Take a new job.
Break up with your spouse.
Have a falling out with your friends.

Sometimes, the delineations between one iteration of our “self” and another are hard to parse.

Other times, like last weekend, it’s impossible to miss the signs. (Especially as I traded up to a much nicer ride.)

By now, if you’ve been reading this column for a long time, you’ll know I had privilege, comfort and safety in my childhood. My father was a lawyer when I was young, so we had a nice house, and nice cars.

Harvey drove a Mercedes, a BMW, and a Porsche at different times, back in the 80’s and 90’s. (Now, it’s a sensible, 4 cylinder Honda SUV.)

Throughout my childhood, it was always assumed I’d be a lawyer, like him. Everyone I knew, adult-wise, was a lawyer, doctor, dentist, accountant, stock-broker, bond-trader, or something of that ilk.

Ending up as an artist, living in New Mexico, was a pretty hard left-turn. (If I had told my 15 year old self where I’d end up, I think he would have had a nervous breakdown.)

But the one thing I never, ever, ever would have considered doing as a career?

Going into the military.

If you’d told the 15 year-old-me to make a list of professions, soldier would have been at the bottom of the list.

For real.

Following orders. Shaving your head. Getting yelled at. Sleeping in uncomfortable beds. (Or no beds at all.)

No thank you.

And one more thing: you might get exploded by a bomb, shot in the head by a sniper, or gutted with a hunting knife by an angry Afghan on a mountain-top, far from home.

That last bit, the part about potentially getting killed in awful ways, meant that I never thought, for even one second, that I might join the Army.

Or the Marines.

Never, ever, ever, ever.

It’s a class issue, basically. Given the culture in which I was raised, and the opportunities that were presented, (some of which I chose to spurn,) I didn’t have to think about joining up.

The American Military, since the end of the draft, has become progressively less a representation of the entirety of America, and instead is heavily populated by certain demographics.

It’s overwhelmingly Christian, and features so many men and women from less-privileged circumstances, and rural areas that lack economic opportunity. In many places, joining the military offers a job where there may be none at home, plus training, money for education, and the chance to see the world.

What it does not offer is a decent living, financially, or an obvious path out of poverty. (I guess maybe Colonels and Generals make some bank, but I’m pretty sure you don’t get to be an officer by being a grunt-private-from-the sticks.)

I get tired of these rants sometimes, but it’s egregious that the people who we hire to fight and die get paid so poorly.
And they suffer from mental illness to alarming degrees, with suicide rates that are beyond acceptable.

This is the America we’re living in, and I’ve been considering such things this morning, having just put down M L Casteel’s excellent “American Interiors,” a new book by Dewi Lewis in Manchester, with essays by Jörg Colberg and Ken MacLeish.

I was curious about the concept, when I was first made aware of the book, but was far more impressed once I got to see the actual photographs.

The idea is that M L photographed the inside of veteran’s cars as a way of presenting metaphorical portraits. It’s a concept that makes sense, but also seems like it could easily skew gimmicky.

Thankfully, the pictures preclude that from happening.

There are American Flags, as you might expect. And Bibles. Lots of pictures of Jesus.

But also more canes that I cared to count. Cane after cane, each representing a mangled limb, injured joint, or maybe a body worn out from the all-of-it.

It’s hard to see the canes and not feel something inside.

The dirty underwear is heart-breaking too.

So many filthy cars.
So many stained cloth seats.

It feels like Chaos to me, and this comes from a guy who’s next clean car will be his first.

These are not the type of photographs that will fly off the walls of a commercial gallery, because they’re hard to look at, and use the anti-aesthetic fully, but not to the point where anything looks pretty.

The messages about poverty, religion and neglect are simply un-missable.

I may have dropped nearly 1000 words on you, but the best part of a book like this is once you know what’s going on, (it starts with an intro-stats-page that sets the scene,) the pictures do all the talking.

And the point, sad though it may be, comes through loud and clear.

Bottom Line: Cool, smart, poignant look at soldiers’ cars

To purchase “American Interiors,” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in submissions from female photographers. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Gustav Schmiege

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

Today’s featured artist:  Gustav Schmiege

Fire Roasted in Williamstown, MA

 

To see more of this project, click here.

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

The Daily Edit – Rollacoaster: Justin Campbell

- - The Daily Edit

Rollacoaster Magazine

Fashion StylistMorgan Pinney
Photographer: Justin Campbell


Heidi: What type of direction did you get from the magazine?

Justin: I love working with Rollacoaster because they give you a lot of creative freedom. The concept we came up with was this idea of “Summer in Suburbia.”

Describe the shoot, it looks like you two were simply hanging out. 
Cameron and I have shot a lot together, (below is an image from a previous shoot) so in a sense it felt like that when we were working, that we were just hanging out.  We wanted the story to feel like it could be Cameron’s parallel life as a 23-year old in the suburbs (If he wasn’t one of the highest followed influencers and world famous). The stylist Morgan and I wanted the clothing to feel like they could be pieces from Cameron’s own wardrobe. The house we rented felt like it could be Cameron’s home.

 

 

Did you direct him at all?
Every image is orchestrated. What is amazing about Cameron is the spontaneity and playfulness he brings to set. I find that the final picture always exists somewhere between what was in your head before the shot and what the subject brings to the table. I’ve always approached my work as a living dialogue between my ideas and the person I’m shooting.

Did you think twice about what to wear?
I wear a uniform everyday. I own 40 of the same black t-shirt and 6 pairs of the same black jeans. I only switch up my shoes and jackets. When I’m working I don’t want to have to think about what I’m putting on in the morning.

Was this your first shoot with Rollacoaster?
This was my first shoot with Rollacoaster. We have a lot more coming out soon!

Where is the magazine based?
The magazine is based in London. My favorite city!

How many covers have you done with Cameron?
This is the third cover Cameron and I have shot together. He is a great friend and collaborator.

Do you skate?
I don’t.