The Art of the Personal Project: Geoff Levy

- - 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:

Geoff Levy

0be58202d99a88b6-_MG_7146-Edit

1a43363f2542ec88-_MG_7947

2f1fd194fb644bf7-_MG_7686-Edit

5ee3681a01842b82-_MG_6990_2

7b6af99c3de2f16b-_MG_7749

7eee05a2ae0116fd-ben_roof_cake_angry

9bdb070b294ce4a1-ben_cake_aftermathgrain

09e1d8b972995d52-geoff_self_portrait_cake

44d561af65a291ea-_MG_6982

75c1a69a0722d276-_MG_7934

322cd1b1a372a23f-_MG_6811

951a16a7f5a62613-_MG_9306

2441eec2acfae5ad-skateboard_cake_angry

8197e560d2451b1b-angrycake_mikey

14450a223ca48bfd-_MG_7170

4921423561904169-_MG_6896

b64578fb13a83048-cupcake_cakeangru-1

cac73929a08a5f8c-ben_cab_cake_angry

d1af3e1299a1980e-_MG_9282

e2b50636924240a8-angrycake_molly

e26f1d6e626f6618-_MG_9375

How long have you been shooting?
I’ve dabbled with a camera for six years, but seriously shooting with professional intention for three.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self-taught. I studied cinematography and a lot of the principles applied, though.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
After assisting a friend on a shoot for a famous cake chef, I was asked to throw away about forty cakes. I was pretty ticked about all of the wasted food – even after giving away a dozen there was still so much going to waste. Since they were dumpster bound regardless, I figured I’d “recycle” them via preserving them in photographs. It has a subtext about New York city’s waste and inefficiency.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
The entire project was shot over two months. These cakes had a shelf life.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Since I’m shooting for my own self, the only governing rules are my tastes. When shooting portfolio work, you have the intention of adding a brand to it. Those projects have commercial contexts – but it’s freeing to make something that makes you happy. And that joy comes through, somehow.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
This project was first released bit-by-bit on Instagram.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
The momentum of #CakeAngry hashtag got me featured on some great sites/accounts, i.e. Refinery29, NotCot, Phoblographer. Once it got featured on a couple of sites, a lot of photography, art and food blogs reposted.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I’m making prints of the work but for a gallery showing. I’m currently not making mailers, though that’d be a good idea.

———-

Geoff Levy is a photographer and filmmaker, transplanted from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to New York City. Driven by his love for cinematography, abstraction of narrative and a desire to bridge the gap between art and commerce, Geoff creates motion and still works that capture heightened fictional experiences that feel intimate and natural. He is currently working with advertising giant, Ogilvy & Mather, while producing personal projects.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit – People Magazine Oscar Portfolio: Brenna Britton

- - The Daily Edit

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.10.12 AM

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.10.19 AM

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.10.26 AM

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.10.31 AM

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.10.39 AM

 

 

 

People Magazine

Creative Director: Andrea Dunham
Director of Photography: Catriona Ni Aolain
Deputy Photography Director & Multimedia: Christine Ramage
Deputy Photo Editor-Entertainment: Brenna Britton
Deputy Design Director: Dean Markadakis- Designed this layout
Photographer+Director: Peggy Sirota

Heidi: We all know Peggy is a star, what was it specifically that made you choose her?
Brenna: Creative Director, Andrea Dunham, Director of Photography Catriona Ni Aolain, Deputy Director Christine Ramage, and myself wanted Peggy for her signature style, which means you’ll get the most stunning light, effortless moments of cool, and everyone looking beautiful. And for all those reasons, celebrities love to shoot with her. Working with Director of Visual Projects, Blaine Zuckerman, we also wanted a video series in Peggy’s style, to differentiate from the typical photo shoot interview, and have continuity from the still image portfolio through the video series.

With the Oscar’s coming up, how did you hope to set your portfolio apart from the media frenzy around these subjects
The original concept was to do a day in the life of Oscar, with a photojournalistic approach. Inspired by Paolo Pellegrin’s 2008 portfolio for the New York Times, we wanted each nominee to represent a slice of the day. Obsessed with Pellegrin’s image of Sean Penn making a sandwich in his kitchen, most photo editors and photographers dream of that kind of access, with that caliber of talent. That image gave you a private moment with an actor at the least private of times, awards season. To be able to photograph any of these nominees outside of the Beverly Hilton, or any other Hotel on the awards show conveyer belt is a miracle.

Unlike other publications that produce award season portfolios prior to the nominations, we actually wait till the nominations are out and then have about 2 weeks to produce a concept portfolio during the most hectic time for the talent. I’ll call the PR rep to ask to photograph the talent in a really soulful way that represents who they are as human beings at their home, waking up, brushing their kid’s teeth, hiking, driving, something reminiscent of the old LIFE magazine iconic images. I’ll ask for 5 hours for a photo shoot, video shoot, and interview.

The talent and PR reps are spread so thin during awards season, a possible offer of time would sound something like this:  “We have 10 mins in a corner of a hallway, after The “enter any awards event name here”, after 80 other photographers have photographed them in the same outfit, on the way out the door. You may be able to get them to actually stop for you, but I’m not sure, they have to be at Kimmel by 4:00pm, does that work? ” Not really the part of their soul I was going for, but let me see what we can do.

In all seriousness, the talent’s team is face with a mountain of asks, events and interviews, it’s a tremendous amount to juggle a successful campaign. Then I come along and ask for the most amount of time, and their soul on top of it, I’m the last person they want to hear from.  But in the end, each Talent’s teamwork to make the images happen, you have to respect what they are going through and still try to get close to your ideas.

Was this a multi day shoot?
Two weeks in Los Angeles producing what ended up being a 5 day shoot, with 2 shoots cancelled on top of that. Final outcome–5 image portfolio, 6 videos— 1 baby grand piano, 3 horses, 1 shoot cancelled the morning of, and numerous heart attacks. The only way to get through these types of numbers is with an outstanding team from Peggy, to producers Steve Bauerfeind, Cathy Mele, and numerous PEOPLE editors all-pushing to make this portfolio happen.

What type of direction did give the subjects? Were they characters in the films or themselves? 
I know it sounds cliché, but we really did want the talent to be themselves. It was incredibly important to Peggy to speak with each nominee directly, and ask what he or she really wanted to be doing during the shoot. Peggy is always looking to create an authentic environment that puts talent at ease the moment they arrive on set. Eddie is a great example. While we tried to get him on the phone with Peggy, I had done some research, and read interviews that he had a collection of guitars. We hired prop stylist Phillip Williams to get guitars, and worked on art directing the photo shoot around this premise. We had a tough time getting Eddie on the phone with Peggy, because he was filming in Germany, but they got on the phone the day before the shoot.

By the time I landed in LA, guitars had been nixed, and Eddie had told Peggy how he loved to play the piano. The hunt was on for a piano store, or a piano to be brought to set. The guitars were dropped, a vintage car was cancelled, and baby grand Piano was brought to set. I had a panic attack watching 6 guys carry the baby grand up wood steps to our Mid -Century location house and have it placed on a balcony that, to this day, I have no idea how it supported the piano, the crew, and Eddie. End result, a beautiful moment with Eddie doing something he loved.

What was the creative/video direction for this shoot? Did it all come from the photographer? 
Dunham, Ni Aolin, Ramage and myself really wanted a day in the life of a nominee, with each talent representing a different time of the day. Peggy was adamant that the talent be involved in deciding what those acts were so the image was authentic, and not just coming up with another roll for them to play. To make things a bit more complicated we had a video component that would be a trailer for the portfolio. The trailer would carry a narrative taking the viewer/reader through a full day in LA with each nominee photographed for a different portion of the day.  For example, Morning: Laura Dern with coffee, Afternoon: Keaton, riding his horses, Late Afternoon: Felicity Jones at High Tea, Evening: Eddie playing piano, and then came Late Evening: Hawke and Arquette, who where to be having dinner.

This shoot was a great lesson and a game changer to the portfolio narrative. There are the ideas you come up with in an office in New York and then there is the magic you can never predict that happens on set. It’s because of these rare moments I love my job. Everything with talent at this level is controlled and to get a true moment that’s not contrived is a gift. Both Ethan and Patricia couldn’t get on the phone with Peggy due to their schedules, but in the end, all you really needed was for them to show up. Sometimes you can get so attached to an idea that you miss the magic. On-set, you’re constantly ask yourself—“How will this fit into the narrative, the portfolio, the original concept?” You’ve got Ethan and Patricia, two people that have true chemistry, on location at Santa Barbara’s San Ysidro Ranch, at magic hour, with a master of capturing golden light – Peggy Sirota. When you’ve got all those elements together, your job is done, it’s gorgeous, and you didn’t have to do the photo shoot in a bland hotel hallway. The only problem, only one image can run in the portfolio, great problems to have! Then again, Online, Instagram, and the tablet, have solved that too.

This Week In Photography Books: Dafy Hagai

by Jonathan Blaustein

I got a fat stack of books in Santa Fe the other day. Fresh meat. Yum yum.

I never know what I’m going to get, when I re-up at photo-eye. If it’s new, I’m willing to look at it. And these days, people also send me things, so that opens up new worlds of possibility.

As such, I’m wondering if it’s time to be a shade more discriminating in what I review, like a coin collector who won’t spring for just any old piece of silver. (“Excuse me, Bertram, but if you think I’m going to pay $2 million for an 1875 Buffalo nickel, you must be smoking the super-skunk.”)

The first book I reached for today was a Thomas Struth number made in Israel; part of the “This Place” project that I’ve mined for content on many an occasion. Struth? A German in Israel? It’s got to be good, right?

Well. I guess. If you’re into boring pictures.

I hate to throw another photo legend under the bus, but there you go. I’m sure he’s going to read this and have a good cry, but I’m no hater. When the man was good, he was genius, so we’ll always have the old days.

Co-incidentally, the very next book I grabbed, seduced by its snappy blue-on-white color palette, was also made in Israel. Now, I’m sure some of you will think that I have a predilection for such things, as I’m known to be Jewish. But I assure you, I’m as keen to see what’s going on in Kyrgyzstan, Kathmandu, and Kuala Lumpur.

As it happens, this book, the second one I grabbed with grubby hands, like a drunk frat boy reaching for one more In’n’out burger…it’s a doozy. And not necessarily in a good way.

Some weeks, I write about shit you’ve never seen before. Other weeks, like last Friday, I try to highlight really smart and innovative offerings that you might actually want to buy. And then there are the columns, like this one, where you might get agitated.

Consider yourself warned.

“Israeli Girls” is a new book by Dafy Hagai, recently published by Art Paper Editions, in Ghent. I’m writing about it now, because I’m so darn confused. Sometimes, seeing the words pop up on screen helps me suss out my thoughts. (That so many people are reading the results is almost ancillary.)

What’s my favorite catch phrase, beyond “The 21st Century Hustle?” That’s right: Boobs Sell Books℠. They must, or photographers wouldn’t insist on jamming them into their narratives like a Tokyo salaryman wedging onto the subway at rush-hour.

This book is one where, after the very first picture, of a young woman flashing her tennis-skirt-covered tush like a baboon in heat, I knew the boobs were coming.

Sure, the title, “Israeli Girls” hints at the subject: Israeli Girls. But, I thought, there has to be more to it than that? Not long ago, I wrote about Christopher Everard’s meticulously researched investigation of the pornography industry. Billions of dollars are spent helping people get their rocks off.

Does anyone really buy a photobook for that, when they can get it for free on the Internet, minus the classy production values? Or for $39.99 from Vivid Video, with more bells and whistles? Does it matter that these girls are Israeli? As opposed to Dutch? Or Californian?

The book features kind-of-edgy pictures, and we could whip out the Balthus reference, though these young women seem to be of proper age. But I don’t know anything about them, because the book lacks any supporting text at all.

It’s just a bunch of pictures of pretty girls, made in an arty style. Yes, there’s a pink tennis visor on a children’s slide. And when the boobs come, they’re accompanied by under-arm hair, which I’m sure is meant to counter-balance the traditional notions of beauty.

But I’m just not sure what to think. Is this book the equivalent of an ironic mustache, one of my all-time pet peeves? If you want to grow a mustache, grow a f-cking mustache, OK? Don’t pretend that you’re better than your mustache, and you’re only wearing it to make fun of every other tool who wants to look like a 19th Century barkeep. (“May I offer you gents a libation this fine afternoon?”)

If you like pictures of pretty girls, fine. Go for it. Get a job at Playboy, and shoot boobs to your heart’s content. More power to you.

But this book wants to have it both ways. So why am I writing about it? Because I’m annoyed that it’s crawling around inside my head. I don’t know much about VICE, though I’m aware it’s become a Billion Dollar Brand. Is this book made for VICE guys? Or has VICE become respectable these days?

Again, I don’t know, because there is no essay, no titles, no rambling narrative meant to give me so much as a clue. Just some pretty Jewish girls, seducing the camera with their pouty lips and firm flesh. (On general principle, I won’t show you the boob shots, as a faux-protest, but I’m just too wound up not to write about this one.)

OK?

OK. I’m done here. You might hate me for taking up your time to discuss a book I only like “ironically,” or you might thank me for giving you a properly pretty diversion on what’s likely to be a frigid Friday.

Either way, see you next week. (Same Bat time. Same Bat channel.)

Bottom Line: Odd, mysterious, and probably vapid book about pretty Israeli girls

To Purchase “Israeli Girls” Visit Photo-Eye

IMG_0269

IMG_0270

IMG_0271

IMG_0272

IMG_0273

IMG_0274

IMG_0275

IMG_0276

IMG_0277

IMG_0278

IMG_0279

IMG_0280

IMG_0281

IMG_0282

IMG_0283

Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.

Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.

The Art of the Personal Project: Diana Zalucky

- - 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: Diana Zalucky

15_01_1113DZ_1

15_01_1129DZ_2

15_01_1324DZ_11

15_01_1380DZ_10

15_01_1539DZ_13

15_01_1589DZ_14

15_01_1625DZ_12

15_01_1736DZ_7

15_01_1790DZ_6

15_01_1940DZ_3

15_01_1959DZ_4

15_01_2006DZ_9

15_01_2093DZ_5

15_01_2113DZ_8

15_01_2406DZ_15

How long have you been shooting?
More than half my life. I picked up a camera in high school and haven’t put it down since.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I studied photography at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and from ages 21 to 29, I was shooting everything from advertising campaigns to celebrities for Disney. My experience working there was the education of a lifetime. This summer will mark my 3 year anniversary of having my own business!

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I grew up in the US Virgin Islands and have always had a fascination with extreme cold weather. I like to read all the books about people losing limbs in the mountains and all the great epic adventure stories that go along with that lifestyle. I also have a strong fascination with people and the art they create. And by “art,” I mean whatever it is a person does that they love. I may not understand what you are doing, but I do understand that unwavering passion and need to create as if it’s your only choice. To be able to find that connection with others is very special to me.

My inspiration for this shoot came after reading a magazine in my doctor’s office. It was a small feature in Oprah about this amazing woman, Zoya Denure, who left the modeling world to become a dog musher in Alaska. I decided to look her up online and we planned an initial visit for the Iditarod a few months later. In a bittersweet moment, I had to cancel my trip for a big ad job with a dream client, but we stayed in touch rest of the year and planned my visit for a different race almost a year later.

Initially, I was planning to photograph Zoya, but her baby became sick and numerous dogs needed to be cared for at their kennel. Instead, I documented her husband, John Schandelmeir for the race. I really believe that everything works out as it’s meant to when you keep an open mind and expect very little. During my time with Zoya’s family I realized there is a bigger story that I want to tell, and I want to tell it in a way that’s far beyond my comfort zone. I hope to begin what I call Part 2 later this year.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I shot this project last month and made my first selects just for you!

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
If the subject matter or experience excites me and keeps me curious, then I know it’s working.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I don’t feel a difference. I have to always be shooting or I’ll go crazy. Anytime I’m shooting and completely surrendering to the moment, I feel makes it personal and if the images make it into your portfolio, then even better!

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I use Instagram all the time and then link it up with Facebook and Tumblr.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Not yet!

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Thus far, all my promos have included a mix of commercial and personal work. I would like to do a special piece focusing on the images from this project.

Artist Statement:
January 2015 I spent a week with Crazy Dog Kennel, a competitive racing kennel dedicated to the training and rehabilitation of unwanted sled dogs. These particular selects are from the 4 days I spent with legendary musher John Schandelmeir. I was both shooting and helping as a dog handler during the Copper Basin 300, the toughest 300 mile race in Alaska. The Copper Basin is known as a mini Iditarod because it’s a good way for mushers to test the dogs’ endurance. My goal was to document the devotion, hard work and connection this team has with one another and experience a slice of the dog mushing lifestyle.

————

Diana Zalucky is a photographer/director hailing from St.Thomas, US Virgin Islands, who is happy to call Los Angeles home. Her passion and energy on set brings out the best in people, resulting in organic images that are filled with spirit.
An explorer at heart who has travelled on assignment to over 30 countries, her images inspire viewers to be adventurous and enjoy life to it’s fullest. She gets giddy over new passport stamps, beautiful light and good food. Diana loves narrating on set, playing in the mountains or ocean and finding the good life wherever she goes.

Diana Zalucky is represented by Held & Associates http://www.cynthiaheld.com

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

World Press Photo Sets The Bar For Allowed Image Adjustments

- - Working

Bravo to World Press Photo for taking a leadership role in the debate of what levels of image enhancements, adjustments and manipulation are acceptable for photojournalism. As the winners of this years contest were announced the news that 20% of images that made the final round were rejected for “manipulation or careless post-processing” left many people with jaws agape.

You can engage in the debate with the links below (if you haven’t already), but I wanted to highlight what I think are very important changes in how image adjustments are viewed.

David Campbell, Secretary of the 2015 Photo Contest jury, tweeted out the following:

This is a major departure from the old standard of “digital darkroom” which tried to allow old darkroom techniques used by many of the great photojournalists.

This departure is highlighted by Jury chairwoman, Michele McNally in a story on the lens blog titled “Debating the Rules and Ethics of Digital Photojournalism” where she states:

“digital is not film, it is data — and it requires a new and clear set of rules”

It’s also worth noting that World Press Photo called in all the RAW files for images in the penultimate round and then had independent experts perform forensics on the images and present their findings to the jury.

I think World Press Photo has taken some important steps this year in leading by example. The old darkroom technique of burning and dodging things out of your images are OUT but processes that adjust the aesthetics are IN.

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/17/world-press-photo-manipulation-ethics-of-digital-photojournalism

https://storify.com/davidc7/what-are-world-press-photos-rules-and-standards-on

http://blog.photoshelter.com/2015/02/world-press-photo-eliminates-20-percent-of-images-for-manipulation/

http://www.bjp-online.com/2015/02/image-manipulation-hits-world-press-photo/

http://time.com/3706626/world-press-photo-processing-manipulation-disqualified/

https://www.david-campbell.org/photography/manipulation-examples/

https://bitly.com/bundles/martijnkleppe/m

The Daily Edit – Bicycling Magazine: Jesse Southerland

- - The Daily Edit
Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.45.54 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.46.08 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.46.14 AM

Bicycling

Design and Photo Director: Jesse Southerland
Art Director: Colin McSherry
Designer: Jimmy Cavalieri

Heidi: I understand you do both the photo direction and the design direction which is becoming more often the norm. What are the benefits and the drawbacks in your eyes?

Jesse: Tighter photo budgets each year are no surprise for editorial photographers, but hopefully they can take some comfort in knowing that their clients are legitimately feeling that pinch as well. Yes, in my case I have absorbed the photo director responsibilities in addition to the design direction.
The benefits have been pretty rewarding actually. Being involved from start to finish allows for better communication without as much getting in lost in translation. There aren’t as many surprises (for the most part) when the edits come in. Overall there are less kill fees which unfortunately don’t even have their own budget lines anymore. We absorb that cost out of the real budget, so it’s crucial things go right the first time. In addition to better communication, I think the process is expedited with fewer people involved. I can get back to a photographer who is on set with direct, immediate feedback. They aren’t stuck waiting as long as they would with the workflow of a traditional art department. Also, when pre shoot problems pop up I can generally get back to them within a few hours as opposed to the next day which was often the case before.
It obviously isn’t all roses. Make no mistake, there wouldn’t be a blog of this name if photo editors’ weren’t crucial to most magazines. I’m stretched extremely thin. I’m used to working ahead, but now it isn’t uncommon to be working on 4-5 issues at once every day. The time needed for photo research is greatly reduced. I love having tried and true photographers, but I miss having the time to dig deeper and find younger photographers with a completely fresh and inspiring outlook on the assignments. I feed off of their excitement and hunger. The time spent designing is the time most sacrificed. I can always pull an all nighter to lay out a feature, but I can’t stay up all night and magically produce all of the photos. So the time spent photo directing is more important for me to focus on in most cases.
Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.44.54 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.44.58 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.45.04 AM
I see you have some international coverage, how are you sourcing those photographers in such remote places?
For Dario Pegoretti story, we needed him shot in his small studio in the middle of nowhere in Italy for that issue. This stuff is probably another day in the life of a regular photo editor, but it obviously takes more research and logistical communication than the average shoot. I basically scoured through Wired Italia for the coolest portraits and found Max&Douglas who lived somewhat close. They absolutely fell in love with Dario and produced some great photographs. Again, nothing crazy for a photo editor, but a huge victory in my position with such limited resources.
Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.46.33 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.46.56 AM
What’s your approach to the overall photo direction of the magazine?
The photo direction is identical to the design direction which is identical to the editorial direction. Everything at BICYCLING is about being exciting, fun, fit, authentic and real. Ideally the photography will contain most of those attributes, but as long as the photo nails at least one of those descriptions we are good, but it has to really nail it. I am most intrigued by authentic and real. Bicycling photography can go really wrong really quick. You may have a really authentic looking person to shoot, but then they put on their outfit, then a helmet, then sunglasses and suddenly that person is reduced to a storm trooper…zero individuality. We have found tattoos and beards go a long way, thank you hipsters! The lighting and processing plays a huge role in the overall direction. When I first started I really did a 180 and completely got away from the high key, edge lit, over sharpened look and went really low fi in an attempt to feel more real. I think the result was a little underwhelming, and though it felt real/raw, it lacked an energy and excitement. I realized there still needs to be enough punch, just the right amount of polish and authentic environments make all the difference. That is the direction we strive for now. VSCO alone can’t solve all of our problems.
Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.45.23 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.45.38 AM
How do you approach gear differently?
Gear is less about the environment and lends itself to more to studio photography which is quite unlike the rest of the magazine. We try to show gear in a very practical, utilitarian way that best illustrates why we feel the need to showcase it in the first place. Bicycling gear definitely evolves over time, but month to month, year to year, the changes appear very minimal. We are often shooting the same things over and over so I try to focus first on how can we best show what is being written about rather than thinking style and lighting first. We work closely with the editors to get a feel for what matters most. Then we go full blown “bike porn” and shoot whatever we think looks the coolest and try to get as close as we can to it. Most often that is what ends up in print, but we still listen to the editors. Also, we take full advantage of provided photography from the companies when available. I figure they have spent a lot more money than we could ever afford on these products. Bonus: they often even come with clipping paths! We have a small but scrappy art department that can comp a lot of provided shots together, add shadows and make it feel like a highly produced editorial page. This allows us to produce and afford our larger shoots.
Gear covers have an entirely different approach to the rest of the magazine. Full disclosure, I cannot get enough ring light for a bicycle cover. I feel embarrassed when I ask photographers to dust off their ring lights, but I honestly think they were made to shoot bikes in studio. Plus there are so many bikes in the advertisements and I have yet to see one shot that way, so it’s really a distinctively editorial look.
What’s the hardest part of doing a single subject title?
BICYCLING requires a direction that clearly separates editorial from advertising. We show people riding bikes and gear. The advertisements are of people riding bikes and gear. Luckily editorial trends and advertising trends usually tend to be the opposite. Cycling advertising is starting to look less produced though so I may have to rethink everything.
Regardless of the direction though, a bicycle can only fit on a 8.5” x 11” page or 17” x 11” spread so many ways. It’s extremely tough to get creative shooting bikes without sinking into a really bad conceptual idea that, at the end of the day, doesn’t even show off the bike that well. This probably has a lot to do with my ring light fetish.
What is your favorite section to design and favorite to photo direct?
I love designing a good profile feature. At previous magazines I would do around 2 every issue. Here it’s closer to 1 every three issues, so I really appreciate them when they come along. My favorite section to photo direct would be the one that requires that doesn’t require direction. That section is slowly in the making, but my goal is to have photographers shooting what they would want to be shooting anyway. I know that sounds cliche, but I really believe there is a bicycling photo culture growing in way similar to skateboarding or surfing. When you have people shooting what they love, their submissions are far better than what I could assign or direct and truly capture everything we want the magazine to be. I am also fortunate to work with editors that see the value in that and are encouraging an art first approach to our features. Hint: please send me awesome stuff.
How often do you ride? if at all?
I ride frequently now. I never did until this job, but I have drank the kool-aid and now I have closet full of tights.
What are you looking for your portraits and riding shots?
I want portraits that draw the reader in and make them spend time with it without realizing it. Something intimate that goes beyond style, but is more about the connection between the photographer and the subject. That connection gets passed on to the reader. For riding shots I’m looking for something with a more voyeuristic feel. The rider should be a real cyclist, not a model. I want the environment to be as much of a character as the rider. These  shots should inspire me to want to ride by making it look like fun, an adventure, not necessarily a workout.
Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.43.55 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.44.10 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.44.26 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 9.44.38 AM
There’s a nice range to your covers in both gear, scenics and riding, is that a new direction for the title? I remember it always being riders on the cover ( and gear of course )
It is a new direction, one that is closer to what we have been doing inside the magazine. I have never wanted the magazine to exclusively feel like a fitness magazine, but rather an enthusiast magazine where getting fit is a great result of cycling, but not the sole purpose. The overly aggressive solo rider taking up the entire cover gives off a very intense, heavy, serious vibe which isn’t who we are.
What’s the best way for photographers to get in touch with you?

This Week In Photography Books: Sugimoto/Misrach

by Jonathan Blaustein

I’ve been watching a lot of John Wayne movies lately. I was always a Clint Eastwood guy, so I’d never really understood the Duke, until recently. It’s stupefying to discover the way one man stood as a symbol for an entire nation.

John Wayne captures the rough, charismatic, violent and patriarchal vibe that permeated the US in the post-WWII years. If his middle name were actually Manifest Destiny, would anyone really be surprised?

He led with his big, hamhock fists, and we all needed to trust that he knew what he was doing. He was John Wayne, after all, a facade built upon poor Marion Morrison, just as our fair country was crafted upon the bones of a conquered race.

I even read a quote in which Mr. Wayne said he had no problem with the fact that America stole all this land, because the Native Americans weren’t using it properly. For real. I read that. (Though in our suspicious Internet age, I guess that doesn’t mean he said it.)

I was discussing my newfound fascination with a friend of mine just after Christmas. Iván was my professor in graduate school, and he studied film at NYU. He agreed that John Wayne represented America during it’s reign as the big-swinging-dick-World-Power, but suggested he had been supplanted by another fictional hero for the post-Vietnam era: Forrest Gump.

We had a good giggle at first, because it’s hard to even believe how much everyone cared about Forrest back in the nineties. (Run, Forrest, Run.) But afterwards, he said he was dead serious. Forrest was a bumbling, compromised, win-by-the-skin-of-your-teeth, trust-in-the-luck-of-the-Universe kind of guy. Nobody thought he was a real superhero, but he managed to turn out OK.

These days, Forrest Gump seems quaint to the point of irrelevance. We like our heroes ironic and snarky, like Robert Downey Jr, beefy and dim, like Channing Tatum, or not-even-American, like Chris Hemsworth and Michael Fassbender. And as for Forrest, he’s been relegated to the cultural dustbin.

He did leave us with a few words to live by though, didn’t he? “Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get.”

How can you argue with Forrest on that one? You can’t. Especially when, like me, you’ve just opened up a plastic sleeve to find “Assignment No. 2: Sugimoto/Misrach: San Quentin Prison,” published by TBW books in Oakland.

My first thought was very 21st C: WTF?

You find what looks like an institutional file folder, replete with a water stain up top, and a red ink smudge closer to the bottom. It sits there, that red ink stain, judging me. The more I look at it, the more it resembles a tornado.

Open it up, and the left side has a succession of names, including those two aforementioned art stars. Then, on the right, we see a statement claiming that an essay, to follow, was written by a prisoner in San Quentin named Michael Nelson. Whatever we’re to read was apparently written while he was in solitary confinement.

They had my attention all along, but now my eyebrows have stood at attention like a Guantanamo prison guard. What are we about to see, I wonder. And will it be filled with facts about the tragic, embarrassing incarceration rate in this country? It is to be an essay that makes us question how such a dilemma came to pass?

No. Not at all.

Flip out again, and you’re staring a sheet of lined, yellow paper, with text handwritten in blue ink. Or so it seems. I’ve seen enough photobooks to know that it’s a high grade reproduction, but still, it’s interesting.

The flap on the righthand side states that all the proceeds of this publication will go to support the prison education programs that spawned this project. Things begin to fall into place.

The first page of the essay is a letter, in which Mr. Nelson apologizes for missing class, as he cannot attend in his current circumstance. He wonders if he’ll be able to achieve full credit, while locked up by himself in what must be some form of hell.

Again, can I get a WTF?

Open the last two flaps, and we see a reproduction of a famous Sugimoto picture from his movie theater series, and a photo of a drive-in movie theater screen from Misrach’s seminal “Desert Cantos” work. We’re looking at two examples of seminal work from the 20th Century.

Flip up the first page of the yellow-paper-stack, and we find a thoughtful, well-written essay that compares and contrasts the two images. It’s a copy of an actual prison class assignment from 2011.

Wow.

I’ve seen a lot of things in my day, and a lot of books in the 3.5 years that I’ve been writing this column. But I’ve never seen anything like this.

The essay is smart, but takes a turn towards poignant when Mr. Nelson alludes to his own situation in life. The metaphor of a world changing beyond recognition, seen in the pictures, also seems well-chosen, for someone living on the inside.

At the end, we get a page that explains a bit more about Mr. Nelson’s background. Jailed for murder at 15, 17 years into a 25 year sentence. Like many a good Bay Area liberal, he’s found himself working within the system to help others.

His info is followed by straight bios for Mr. Misrach, Mr. Sugimoto, and Mr. Dertinger and Ms. Poor, who both teach at CSU Sacramento, and work with prisoners as well. It was a rare mis-step, I thought, the conventional bio page in a production this original. Good information to have, of course, and smartly placed, when your curiosity is at its peak…but then, we all have bios. (One more piece of PR that makes us feel like we’re products to be bought and sold, in lieu of our prints and services.)

Regardless, I hate to quibble, as this is a very inspiring piece of work. Definitely one to buy, as your money will serve others, and this feels like something rare that people will look back on, down the line.

Bottom Line: Incredibly innovative production

To Purchase “Assignment No. 2: Sugimoto/Misrach: San Quentin Prison” Visit Photo-Eye

IMG_0258

IMG_0259

IMG_0260

IMG_0261

IMG_0262

IMG_0263

IMG_0264

IMG_0265

IMG_0266

IMG_0267

IMG_0268

Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.

Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.

The Art of the Personal Project: Jeremiah Stanley

- - 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: Jeremiah Stanley

JeremiahStanley_Bikers_0001

JeremiahStanley_Bikers_0002

JeremiahStanley_Bikers_0004

JeremiahStanley_Bikers_0006

JeremiahStanley_Bikers_0008

JeremiahStanley_Bikers_0009

JeremiahStanley_Bikers_0010

JeremiahStanley_Bikers_0013

JeremiahStanley_Bikers_0014

JeremiahStanley_Bikers_0015

JeremiahStanley_Bikers_0023

JeremiahStanley_Bikers_0025

JeremiahStanley_Bikers_0026

JeremiahStanley_Bikers_0027

Full disclosure, Jeremiah is a current client of mine.

How long have you been shooting?
I guess I’m kind of a late bloomer as they say. I didn’t buy my first digital camera until I was 28 (I’m 34 now) and recently accepted into the photojournalism program at the University of Florida.

It wasn’t until I got into Eddie Adams Workshop XXV in 2012 (team Lilac forever!) that I decided to give photography all I’ve got. There I had the opportunity to shake hands with and get portfolio reviews from amazing portrait photographers like Gregory Heisler (I think I actually ruined his breakfast) and Dan Winters. After meeting them and hearing them speak, I was changed forever as a person and photographer.

So, to answer your question, I’ve been shooting commercially for about 3 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I graduated from the photojournalism program at the University of Florida and I absolutely loved my time there. It wasn’t so much the technical skills and training that I benefited from the most, but it was the people I had the chance to meet while in school.

For instance, Sports Illustrated photographer Bill Frakes was my Advanced-2 photography professor. I mean how crazy is that right?! Also, I met the great portrait photographer Andrew Hetherington while he was there on assignment for Fortune magazine, which was a major turning point for me. Both of these men continue to be great mentors to me to this day.

Having a photojournalism background has also been a huge advantage in my portrait work. Photojournalsim is all about catching that moment and telling a story and portraiture is a lot of the same. You’re looking for that special something, that one moment that will tell the story of that person or tell a story through that person. I think going through photojournalism school has been a huge advantage for what I do now, even though it wouldn’t be considered true photojournalism.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
People. It’s always about people. I love people.

Everyone is so unique and everyone has a story to tell and most people, when given the chance, really want to tell their story. It’s something that just fascinates me. And as a portrait photographer, I get to explore different worlds and dive into people’s lives on a daily basis and I absolutely love that.

I’ve always had the ability to approach people from all different types of economic and social backgrounds and having that ability really helped out with this project. Being approachable and respectful really goes a long way. All of the bikers we photographed were very nice and courteous, but if you can’t relate, on some level at least, to the person you’re photographing, then your portraits will be nothing – they’ll be flat and lack substance.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I actually photographed this project in one day and I presented it on the web shortly after.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Usually after the first few shoots and when I get them on a screen I can tell if there’s enough beef there to actually have something worth looking at. My wife, Meredith, is a really great editor and she provides me with a generous amount of honest insight into how the project is taking shape from an outside perspective. For this project, I knew after the first woman I photographed that this was going to be something good. I never know how good, but I had a feeling people would be interested in looking at these portraits.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
This one is always an interesting question to me or maybe it’s just because I’m still early in my career.

For me, it’s all personal and it may be cliche to say, but for me there’s literally no distinction from shooting for my portfolio and shooting personal work. My approach is one and the same. Every time I’m working toward making an image, whether in pre-production, while shooting, or post-production, I’m using all of myself, both physically and mentally. I’m using all my past experiences, good and bad, to interpret the world around me which will affect the images I make. And for me that’s the goal. I want my personal experiences to affect the images and when they do, that’s when I know what I’m making is real and honest and truthful.

It’s when photography turns into an outlet and an extension of myself that I begin making real images, and I think that’s why editors and directors hire me or at least that’s why I hope they do and hope they do in the future. It’s the photographer’s own, personal voice that speaks the loudest and when I’m allowed to explore the world from my vantage point, really great things can happen. The only difference here is that sometimes a company or firm fronts the bill and sometimes I do. But whenever I’m shooting or working toward a shoot, it’s all personal.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yes, certainly. Getting your work out there for people to see is half the battle.

Here’s my shameless plug:

www.Facebook.com/JeremiahStanleyPhoto
www.Twitter.com/JeremiahStanley
www.Instagram.com/miahstanphoto

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Not yet. Still waiting for my 15 minutes of fame.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I sure have and will be doing the same with this one. I actually love walking into meetings with this project in my book and I enjoy trying to guess before each meeting what type of reaction they’re going to have. Even if an editor or art director are quick flippers, they’ll almost always stop when they get to the ‘Bikers’ project.

Once I was in a meeting with about 8 creative directors and after a few minutes they were all huddled together, standing over the portfolio, pointing, laughing and asking questions. And that’s exactly what you want to happen during a meeting.

ARTIST STATEMENT ABOUT THE PROJECT:

This project was photographed at a biker event in a small Florida town called Leesburg. Every year, about 300,000 people come together here to talk about and look at bikes. I, of course, came to look at the people.

It’s always hard to guess what type of people will come to any particular event as often times the images in my head of the people I think will attend don’t always match the people that actually show up to that event. In this case though, they absolutely exceeded what I had hoped for.

I hired an assistant to hold one light near the rear on a monopod and I held another light off to the front side, also on a monopod, and shot with the other hand (you can actually see the exact set-up in some of the reflections in their sunglasses). We were basically a walking, mobile studio literally carrying all of the gear on our backs and shooting simultaneously on-the-fly.

I decided to leave the background messy, and not worry too much about composition, because I’ve seen tons of similar projects where the photographer pulls them onto some type of seamless backdrop and I wanted this one to be different. I really wanted to bring the viewer into the event, as if they were actually standing right there themselves looking at that particular person, using the environment of the event itself to help.

To make the portrait series have a cohesive look and feel, I used the same focal-length lens (with an ND filter to bring down the background exposure), lighting, and angle, while only changing the physical locations. We were there shooting for about 10 hours and met some incredible people.

—————

Jeremiah Stanley is a commercial and editorial portrait photographer based in Florida and Dallas (It’s currently 81 degrees outside). He enjoys hiking with his 9-year-old daughter and the Texas Two-Step. His portraiture recently won an American Photography 30 award and a PDN World in Focus award. He was also selected to be a part of Eddie Adams Workshop XXV. If he wasn’t a photographer, he would be a competitive barbeque smoker. Please contact him directly to see what his photography can do for you.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

This Week In Photography Books: Stephen Gill

by Jonathan Blaustein

It’s Thursday, which means this column is due later today. Unfortunately, the writing will be sub-standard. We all know things are better once they’ve had some time to marinate, whether it’s pictures or words or chicken teriyaki.

My apologies. It couldn’t be helped. This has been one crazy mother f-ing week, and last week was just as challenging.

Have you ever found yourself in a phase where you were forced to stand by your words? When it seemed like the Cosmos was waking up each morning with the express intention of testing you to your core? Checking whether you actually had the stones to follow through on a promise?

Welcome to my world.

Yesterday was one of the hardest days I’ve had in a while. It began at 6:30 am, with a prompt wakeup by my ever-energetic son. Lots of errands, paying bills, getting the kids off to school. Then I had to teach a class. (Got a new student, too, so it was back to square one.)

From there, still more errands, then a trip to Santa Fe to drop off a picture for a show, and pick up more books with which I can entertain you. (We hope. I always wonder if I might have a day where I’m more obnoxious then helpful.)

Then, and only then, did I drive to Albuquerque to be interviewed for a PBS television show about my project “The Value of a Dollar.” I’d sworn to the producer at the outset that I’d be helpful, relaxed and engaging. The perfect subject, I assured her.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “No matter what, I’ll be low-maintenance.”
(Cue the ominous foreshadowing music in your head.)

The shoot went well, and then after a quick beer with a friend, I drove the nearly 3 hours back home at night. The big moon lit the road, but I was too busy trying not to have my brains fall out of my ears to notice its beauty.

I’m done, I reminded myself. Done. I did it.
It’s over.

The phone rang early this morning, and I missed the call. I noticed the 505 area code, and realized it was the aforementioned producer. Calling to congratulate me, I wondered?

No such luck. It seems one of the cameras wasn’t working right, and we have to shoot the whole interview over again. I took a deep breath, smiled, and told her “No problem. I’ll do even better the next time.”

Inside, my soul was crying like an inexperienced actor. Deep, overly-emotional sobs, with a shaking chest. But I pretended not to notice, and just got on with being a good sport.

It’s one of those core life lessons, I think. If you do the hard work, and push yourself, your life will be richer, and your pictures will improve too.

Some of those lessons, once learned, are hard to unlearn. With respect to photography, one of the classics I picked up years ago was to try to put the camera in odd and unexpected places. (I tell my beginning students that every semester.)

Be creative where you put the camera. Up high, down low, and into the randomest corners you can find. In fact, I said it just yesterday, to that new student. His classmates concurred, assuring him they’d already stuck their cameras inside nasty holes in the wall, into the musty innards of their school’s structure.

They loved the resulting pictures, and encouraged their new colleague to do the same.

Because as many of us know, when you stick the camera into wacky places, you never know what you’ll find. (Or what boring subject the camera will transform into a bit of ephemeral magic.)

Such is the case with “Pigeons,” a new book by Stephen Gill, published last year by the Archive of Modern Conflict in London. Now, I know that bird pictures, and bird books, are something of a cliché. Like I’m always saying about boobs, birds also sell books.

But we’ve never seen a bird book like this one. Oh no. I’m quite confident of that. Because Mr. Gill stuck his camera into some pretty nasty and dodgy crevices. Under girders, around steel beams. Up where these grayscale flying rats reside, when they’re not busy pooping on statues and cooing you to sleep at night.

While I might have gone out of my comfort zone with last week’s book, this one is right in line with what I normally like to show. It’s innovative, strange, and likable in it’s funky ugliness. A great idea, well executed, will always grab my attention.

The use of shallow depth of field is strong, as it highlights the awkward textures inside the birds’ nests. You almost feel the cold and damp, but in a good way. (It won’t make you Siri up the EasyJet website to see how cheaply you can get to Sevilla next Wednesday.)

Personally, I hate vermin. Some mice have just eaten the wiring to my car’s speedometer for the second time in a few months. It’s going to cost me a couple of hundred bucks to fix. Little bastards.

Pigeons I don’t mind so much. Probably because we don’t have any here in the mountains. (And if we did, we’d likely call them doves.) I get to look at magpies, ravens and eagles instead. Now I’m wondering what their homes look like, and hoping some enterprising photographer will show me where they hide.

Bottom Line: Very cool look inside pigeons domiciles.

To Purchase “Pigeons” Visit Photo-Eye.

IMG_0245

IMG_0246

IMG_0247

IMG_0248

IMG_0249

IMG_0250

IMG_0251

IMG_0252

IMG_0253

IMG_0254

IMG_0255

IMG_0256

IMG_0257

Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.

Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.

The Art of the Personal Project: Tosca Radigonda

- - 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: Tosca Radigonda

tosca_radigonda_italy_20

tosca_radigonda_italy_21

tosca_radigonda_italy_22

tosca_radigonda_italy_23

tosca_radigonda_italy_24

tosca_radigonda_italy_25

tosca_radigonda_italy02

tosca_radigonda_italy03

tosca_radigonda_italy04

tosca_radigonda_italy05

tosca_radigonda_italy06

tosca_radigonda_italy08

tosca_radigonda_italy09

tosca_radigonda_italy10

tosca_radigonda_italy11

tosca_radigonda_italy12

tosca_radigonda_italy13

tosca_radigonda_italy14

tosca_radigonda_italy15

tosca_radigonda_italy16

tosca_radigonda_italy18

tosca_radigonda_italy19

How long have you been shooting?
I took a photography class when I was 14 and never stopped. I started shooting editorial in Milan in the late 80’s and then commercially in The States in 1994.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I have a BFA from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I feel like my style evolved directly from my experiences in Italy. When I started out testing in Milan I did not have a budget to purchase or rent equipment, so I learned how to shoot everything using natural light.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I went to Milan when I was 22 with dreams of becoming a fashion photographer. It was a time before cell phones, or sharing images on social media and the world was a lot bigger back then. My ideas of Italy were from traditional postcard images or from my own Italian American upbringing. Once I got to Milan it was an entire other world! After navigating my way through the culture shock, and finally surrendering to Italian lifestyle I fell deeply in love with Italy. I thought I would stay for 6 months but ended up staying for 6 years. During my time living in Milan, and after when I would go back I found myself completely submerged in the feeling and charm of Italian lifestyle.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
Seven years ago a close friend from Milan asked me to shoot a very personal cookbook she wrote about her family and that’s when I started to put together this project. I always loved the images but was unsure about how they would be received since my work is children’s lifestyle. I started out by including a few Italy images in my portfolio, and that was followed by people asking to see more.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Most of the time it is immediate, but I also love how shooting personal projects sometimes gives us the luxury we need to step back, revisit and really have a look.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
The subjects are different but the approach is the same. Either way, I like to be an engaged fly on the wall and photograph simple beauty. I started out shooting fashion the same way, which evolved into photographing babies and children, so I guess you never really know where a project might take you creatively.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I am a newcomer to social media, but I really enjoy Instagram and the loose feel of posting daily images.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
No my social media experience is still new but I can imagine that would be exciting.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I recently put together a handsewn book of the Italy images, and I love to share this book with art buyers and creatives after I show my portfolio. I usually ask if they have time and would like to see a personal project. I post the stories on my website, and send out emails when there is a new project.

Artist Statement-

The time I spent in Italy on my own as a young photographer, learning my way in challenging circumstances was the most valuable experience I ever could have had. I wanted the images in this project to convey the love, passion, and closeness I feel for this beautiful country.

Bio-

Tosca’s rewarding experience began as a young photographer in Milan shooting fashion. Yet in a beautiful swirl of fate, an art director, sensing her ability to capture the magic of children, gave her an assignment that marked a dramatic turn in her career. Tosca is based in Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband and son.

http://toscaradigonda.com
studio@toscaradigonda.com

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Sarah Silver Interview

- - Photographers

Jonathan Blaustein: Your bio states that you were born in Tokyo, but your parents are American?

Sarah Silver: Yes, my parents are American. My father was teaching there at the time, but he’s been working internationally for years, and is currently based in Sydney.

I basically spent my entire life visiting him, though I grew up in Chicago. I traveled extensively as a kid.

When I was finally able to make an adult choice as what to do, I spent a year living in the Middle East, while I was studying at Vassar for my undergrad.

JB: Vassar? My wife went there.

SS: To Vassar?

JB: Yeah. But I won’t date you. If I ask you what year you graduated, I’m automatically dating you. So I’m not going to do that.

SS: OK.

JB: What was your college experience like?

SS: I was a very serious student. I spent a lot of time in the library doing homework. I think I was one of those students that took every assignment and said, “Yes, I completed it 100%.”

But every minute I wasn’t studying, I spent in the darkroom at school. At the time, Vassar didn’t offer a photography department, so I pretty much created classes and taught them to students. While spending every waking free moment printing.

And inhaling chemicals.

JB: Which may or may not have anything to do with your…

SS: …current state of mind? My grandfather was a baby photographer in Michigan from the 50’s through the 80’s. He had a darkroom in his basement, and my earliest childhood memories are of printing with him.

He would show me how to vignette baby photos. My coloring books, all through growing up, were black and white pictures, and I would take the oil pencils to draw onto them. He showed me how to change the color of things. I always though it was fun to make the colors unrealistic.

When I told my grandmother I was going to become a photographer, the first thing she thought was, “Oh God, not those stinky chemicals.”

JB: (laughing) Little did she know, the digital revolution was just around the corner.

SS: When I was coming up through grad school, I had the choice of going straight digital, or keeping with film. It was still that time when you could have a choice. Now, it’s not even a conversation.

I was a big nerd anyway, so the digital darkroom was something I was always a fan of. Luckily, no chemicals for me.

I went to grad school at SVA, and spent all the rest of my waking hours printing color. Which is really fun, except you’re completely in the dark.

JB: I feel you. I did a stint in a chromogenic darkroom as well. And what about after school? How did you get into fashion in particular?

SS: I started working as a photo journalist in the Middle East. That year abroad, at Vassar, I worked for a not-for-profit organization in Israel that would send me all over the country, and abroad. I spent some time in Ukraine, shooting all of these projects they funded.

For instance, I went to Ukraine to shoot a federation of Jews from the US who came to see where some of their ancestors had been saved by righteous gentiles during World War II. We visited the now-defunct Jewish community where they came from. It was pretty awesome.

I loved working as a photojournalist, and was honored that I didn’t even have a portfolio, but the company that I worked for just cared that I was coming from a place of interest. It was basically how I built my portfolio.

I had no experience in photography. I have a degree in Middle East studies from Vassar.

JB: Right.

SS: Which is awesome. But it’s not a photo major. So after I graduated, I went right to SVA, which was the best decision I ever made. Because not only was I learning all the technical stuff that I had missed, but I also got a full Masters of Fine Art, which has all the trappings of art, film and history. All the things I think me a better visual thinker now.

JB: Absolutely.

SS: I would never trade the MFA for anything. I’m a proponent of education. First of all, you should never stop learning. You don’t need a degree to be a photographer, but I loved it.

JB: Hearing your background, it sounds like you took the long and winding road. But now, you’re in an exclusive niche in the industry, working with fashion, that most people don’t know that much about…

SS: As much as I loved Middle East studies, my other passion was Dance. Although I am a severely challenged and failed dancer. I took ballet for a long time. In fact, tomorrow we’re shooting this company that I’ve been shooting since grad school. I still shoot the same company I did my thesis on, every year.

I love movement, and I think that fashion and movement are best friends. Clothing becomes alive, and the model becomes energized.

When I was finishing grad school, my focus was on the history of dance photography, so it was a really easy transition. It has trickled down into everything I do.

I do “movement hair” in hair shoots, and “movement beauty,” in beauty shoots, and “movement fashion” in fashion shoots.

It brings energy to a picture. If you can hear the “Boom! Bang!” sound of the energy coming through, that’s always moved me.

JB: I had a sneaking suspicion, and it even made it onto my question list, as to whether you had a background in dance. So I’m glad you answered that for me.

Before we move on, though, I have a technical question, even if it makes me look stupid. There always seems to be a distinction between beauty and fashion, but I don’t get it. Is it just that beauty represents close-up portraiture, and fashion represents stepping back and showing clothing? Is it as simple as that?

SS: It can be.

JB: So what’s it about then?

SS: I shoot a lot of fashion, a lot of beauty, and a lot of hair, which is technically its own genre, if you want to get specific.

JB: Sure. Let’s get specific.

SS: If you’re a fine artist, I think you can blur the lines. But ultimately, if someone’s commissioning you to take a picture, the genre is defined by what the focus is.

So fashion photography is about fashion. It’s about the clothing. Beauty photography is often about the product being photographed. AKA, mascara.

JB: Makeup. There it is. That’s what I didn’t get.

SS: So if we’re doing a big hair shoot, then your focus is on the hair. Yes, it’s also about the model, and her energy, because it’s all about the talent. But it’s also all about the hair.

Shiny, beautiful, bouncy. Or straight. Blonde or brunette. Ultimately, you need a coherent, beautiful visual, but you always have a nod to the subject.

I love the distinctions, and I’ve turned into a sort-of product-crazy junkie. I love shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, and mascara. I love playing with the products that I shoot, which I think is one of the coolest things about being a woman in this industry.

I am the target audience, 99% of the time. I’m not ashamed to admit it but I have stayed home, nights, and played with every mascara in my drawer.

Do you even know the difference between a volumizing and a lengthening mascara?

JB: I definitely don’t. I most certainly don’t.

SS: Exactly.

JB: (laughing.)

SS: Wow. I am the target audience. And I love it.

JB: So then you must get more free shit than you can possibly imagine?

SS: You never have enough money, or enough free shit from photo shoots. Period. Exclamation point.

JB: (laughing.) Period. Exclamation point. Never enough free shit. On the record.

SS: And nail polish. Listen, before I walked into this industry, way back in the day, I was a student who loved to spend time in the library, and loved to read, and do my homework. But I also loved to bite my nails.

But now, every day, I have a perfect manicure, because I turned into a nail shooter. So in some ways, the industry has changed me, and I feel like hopefully I’ve had an influence on the visuals as well.

JB: Well, speaking of visuals, and movement, I noticed on your website that you’ve got a couple of short films posted, so I watched them.

With the music kicking, and the dancing, it made me wonder if you weren’t interested in directing music videos some day, especially as the technology has converged?

SS: I love directing, and technology is moving so fast. I remember being on set, for the photographer I was interning with, when the first digital backs came along, and I was the only one who knew how to use the computers.

Then, video became more prevalent on still shoots, and now I just get hired for video, straight up.

But my theory in life is, if you never say no, then the opportunities are endless. So, would I direct a music video? Absolutely.

If the opportunity presents itself, the answer is, of course. And when you think about directing, the genre of the early music video has influenced all filmmakers, right?

JB: Even people who are coming out with their first feature film, you look at their bios, and they shot music videos, or they worked in commercials.

SS: I’m the early MTV generation. We won’t age me in this interview, but I remember early MTV, and it was art. When you look at the early music videos, there’s some genius stuff going on. They were paving the way for new forms of visual art in the mainstream.

MTV. My God, right? And then VH1. When you’re talking about the medium of film, it’s impossible not to talk about the music video.

JB: So I guess that means that I zeroed in on an inspiration appropriately?

SS: Sure.

JB: Hell yeah.

SS: I’m so inspired. I grew up in Chicago, and music was a really big deal. I’m an ex-Goth, as much as my mother hated it.

JB: We really are learning a lot about you.

SS: Now I have to wear black clothing, because that’s all we wear on set, right?

JB: You were a Goth, and a nerd, and a journalist in the Middle East, and now you’re addicted to beauty products?

SS: Hang on. Wait a second. If you were a good Goth, you had lots of eye-liner on. I just got better at applying it.

JB: There it is.

SS: Being a Goth-punk in Chicago, with all the music, and the cool stuff that happened, I wasn’t nearly as cool as the kids with the half-shaved head and the dyed black hair. I was kind-of the suburban version, that I could get away with, walking out of my house.

Did you ever spend any time in Chicago?

JB: Next to none.

SS: I’m allowed to ask how old you are, because you’re a boy. How old are you?

JB: I’m 40.

SS: Seriously, it was so, so cool back then. And all the clubs we went to, there was always a film playing, by Ministry, or someone like that. It was really ahead of its time.

I was obsessed with music. So we would go downtown and buy CD’s, because they were just becoming popular.

JB: If you would have said cassette tapes, you really would have dated yourself. We’re dancing around the issue.

SS: Yes, I remember cassette tapes. The minute CD’s came, because they were bigger, I became obsessed with the artwork. There are some seminal visuals that I can tell you, 100%, made me want to become a photographer. The Cocteau Twins. The Pixies. This Mortal Coil had a beautiful cover and inset, an album called “Blood.”

People were using photography, but it wasn’t in a gallery, and it wasn’t untouchable. You would look at the booklets, and you would look at the art.

Do you remember Lenny Kravitz’s “Mama Said?”

JB: Sure.

SS: All that amazing black and white photography? I wanted to do that. It was fashion, and it was cool. It was celebrity. Wow. It blew my mind.

JB: Well, in a very short time, I think we’ve gotten a pretty good sense of how you became you. That’s pretty badass.

SS: Yeah. I will tell you, this is the first ever interview that really talked about that music influence in my life. I don’t think I ever made that connection until you led me there.

Thank you.

JB: You’re welcome.

SS: I really do like that. It’s funny. I was a Goth-punk, and now I love eyeliner. But I just got better at it. (laughing.) I got more sophisticated.

JB: I read that one of the things you do for inspiration in New York, beyond looking at art, is taking super-long walks around the city. People watching. So few of us have time to do that, and it’s such a joy.

What do you think about all the changes over the years?

SS: I’ve been in this city for a long time now. And I never didn’t think I was going to end up here. From the first time I ever came to New York, which must have been when I was 9.

I used to dream about New York. There was never a question that I was coming here. Vassar was really close to the city, and I was inspired by all the kids I went to school with who grew up here.

But the city has changed. I loved the seediness of it, and I love the off-the-beaten path places too.

JB: That’s why I’m asking.

SS: I don’t know the first thing about Chicago, and I lived there for 17 years. But I can tell you literally every little detail of every little corner I’ve traveled in New York City. Every once in a while, I’ll take myself to a neighborhood I don’t know well, and I’ll try to get lost.

I’ll never forget the first time I visited every neighborhood in New York, and I’ll never be able to have that experience again. I get delighted by finding things I don’t know.

I like to celebrate the city, because it took me in.

JB: What’s your favorite little down-low micro-hood?

SS: What I’m obsessed with these days is Japan-town. All the little restaurants. Everyone who comes on set with me, I make them write down their top three Japanese restaurants, and invariably, they’re in the same four block radius.

JB: Where is Japan-town?

SS: 9th Street, between 2nd and 3rd. There’s also a Japanese grocery store on the second floor of 3rd Avenue and 9th St. Restaurants come and go, but it still feels right, for me. It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods.

I love biking around the city too. I’ve lived in so many spots over. . . I’m not saying how many years.

JB: Right. You’re in the fashion industry, so we’re both working really hard to allude to time periods without giving anybody anything specific.

SS: I know.

JB: We’re going to stick to it. Don’t you worry. I’m a classy guy.

SS: (laughing) I can tell. The other thing I do that is so throwback is I will put on a playlist, and walk for hours. I just kind of look at things. My hunger for visuals has never abated in my time here. I stare out the window, and I love to take buses, because you’re above ground, and you get to see everything.

JB: I noticed that across your career, you managed to work with both “America’s Next Top Model,” and “Project Runway.” Is that true?

SS: Yes.

JB: OK. I’ve got a crazy question. Tyra Banks. Heidi Klum. They’re tall. They’re fit. They’re moguls as well as models. In a throw-down, who wins in a fight? Tyra or Heidi?

SS: (pause.) You know, I really think I can’t speak to that, because Heidi and I were never on set together.

JB: OK.

SS: It’s funny, but I will always be the diplomatic one. I’ve actually had a lot of experience with Tyra. I’ve shot her personally, as well as for her show. It would be so much fun to make some sort of comparison, but I feel like I’m not really qualified to do so.

I will say that Tyra Banks is one of the most remarkable people I have ever met. Every single time I see her, on her show too, she comes up to me, she knows where my family lives. She remembers what my mother likes. She asks me if I changed my hair. She remembers every little detail.

She blows my mind. Every single time.

JB: It’s a great little tip, as far as how super-successful people behave. You answered that question diplomatically, which kind of took my legs out. Because it was a ridiculous question. Come on, now. Give me a little credit. They’re not really going to fight…it was meant to be funny, but you took it so seriously that I feel embarrassed.

You didn’t give me anything.

SS: No, no. If you were to here in person with me, you would know that it’s as far away from my personality as you could possibly get. I’m a light-hearted person, but you won’t usually be able to get a comment like that out of me.

JB: Fair enough.

SS: There won’t be a sound bite.

JB: OK. There won’t be a sound bite about Tyra knocking out Heidi in the octagon. It was a joke, obviously, but we did get a bit of insight into how people roll when they’re that good at their job.

I’ve been teaching college to high school students for a long time now, and I’ve used “America’s Next Top Model” as a reference point for them. When we talk about portraiture, and I’m discussing how to bring emotion into a subject’s eyes, to create that energy.

I used to watch the show, back in the day, so I’ll say to them, you know how Tyra says you’ve got to make the eyes look “fierce?” It works.

SS: She knows what she’s talking about. And not only does she talk a good talk, but she does it herself. When we’re on set, and I’ve shot her, she owns it. She’ll look at me and say, “Sarah, I think I’ve got it.”

She’s the best editor I’ve ever worked with, who’s also the subject of the photos.

JB: Big Shout Out to Tyra.

SS: Shout out.

JB: Well, we’ve talked about New York and Chicago. What I want to know now is, have you ever been to Santa Fe?

SS: No.

JB: Never?

SS: No. It’s really exciting. Santa Fe has always been on the list of places I wanted to go, but I didn’t know how I would get there.

What was going to bring me there? Being invited to Santa Fe was an opportunity to experience a new city, but I love nothing more than working. So this is the best of both worlds.

JB: Let me explain what we’re talking about. This interview, like several I’ve done over the last few years, is being sponsored by the Santa Fe Workshops. They’re my buddies. I’m up here in Taos, they’re just down the road, and everyone knows they do a great job.

You’re coming out to do a workshop for them in March that is titled, “Movement in Fashion, Beauty and Dance.” Is this the first time you’ve taught this workshop? What is this going to be for you, beyond your first opportunity to come to Santa Fe?

SS: Both my parents were teachers, and my father taught at the graduate level. Being raised by teachers, everybody’s always explaining the “whys” of everything, because they think that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Being a teacher was an obvious part of my life as a creator, no matter what. One of the reasons why I went for a Masters degree is then you can teach at the college level, which I always wanted to be able to do.

The minute I graduated from grad school, I told them, “Use me.” SVA certainly has, and all the photo schools in New York have. I also have interns, and I’m really into them. I think teaching the next generation is so important. If you can teach, you must. Must, must, must.

JB: What is this workshop going to be like? What do you have planned for your students?

SS: I basically took my three favorite subjects, beauty, movement and fashion, and took one day each to focus on each. The way we have it structured, you can start to see how there’s crossover on all three.

Everybody loves the opportunity to shoot a dancer, and everybody loves the opportunity to go in close and shoot a beautiful face. And talking about all the ways I have found to really get up in there and make beautiful visuals. But also to understand the ideas behind it.

By teaching my own personal workflow, I think it will make a lot of sense for most of the students to see there’s a lot of methodology in the way I shoot. There’s a lot of thought that goes behind it.

You can’t really take beautiful pictures unless you understand why they’re beautiful. Why you do what you do.

JB: Are you going to be working exclusively in studio?

SS: Yes, exclusively in studio. I wanted the maximum amount of time to teach, and I didn’t want to lose even one minute of travel time. So I decided to teach more and travel less.

JB: Efficient. I can dig it. And what about New Mexico? What are you excited to see yourself? This is kind of a mythical place…

SS: That’s what everyone keeps saying. The funny thing is, I have a feeling that every picture I’ve ever seen, and all the descriptions, don’t really do it justice. I know it’s an important art town, and that, visually, it’s supposed to be beyond stunning. Everybody always talks about the colors and light being vastly different than anything you’d experience on the Eastern Seaboard.

I’m sure being in uncharted territory will also inspire me, concurrently, while teaching, because you do learn so much while teaching. It’s going to have a big impact on me. I can already tell.

JB: You’re excited.

SS: Super-excited. Listen, this is a huge honor. And I keep getting emails from people saying, “Oh my god, you’re doing a Santa Fe Workshop?” Literally, I got one yesterday.

Awesome. Yes I am.

JB: (laughing.) “Awesome. Yes I am.” And then you pound the table with your fist. Right?

SS: Completely. If one student walks out and says, “Eureka,” I’ve done a good job. If everyone walks out and says “Eureka…”

JB: Then you ask for a raise.

SS: (pause) It’s not about the money. Right?

JB: (laughing) Of course. So now we know how you broke into fashion. I think most people associate the industry with Fashion Week, and red carpets. Velvet ropes.

In 2015, how would you talk to younger people about legitimately breaking into a world that seems so shut off from everybody else?

SS: This is a question that I get asked all the time.

JB: I’m sure. I’m not saying every question I’m going to ask is original, but people want to know.

SS: They do. New York is a city of opportunity. Every visual person, and you don’t even have to be a student, if you have a strong vision, and a really good work ethic, I think you have a pretty good shot of doing something worthwhile here.

The best piece of advice I would give anybody, and I give it to myself, is that you have to be diligent, and work really, really, really hard. Because lots of people are creative, and lots of people have good ideas, but it’s the ones who keep at it, and keep at it. Every day is a new challenge.

My first lesson to new students is that if you’re complacent, then everyone can smell it. And if you don’t care, then why should I care?

If you wake up every morning with purpose and drive, and you work really, really, really hard, good things come back to you. Even though this is one of the hardest cities to make it in, in any field.

JB: I remember when I first moved there, something really jumped out at me about the famous cliché, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” After I lived there for a little bit, what stuck with me was the “if.” Oh. Right. “If” you can make it here, because if you don’t, the city tries to shit on your head and slit your throat for sport, on a daily basis.

You have to be really on your toes. Three years was enough for me. Drove me back out to my horse pasture in the mountains.

SS: That doesn’t sound so bad.

JB: It’s amazing. I’m not complaining in any way, and I love to come back and visit NYC. I’m just saying, New York is a tough town. But I think you’re giving good advice. People need to be almost cutthroat in their determination to not quit, and not fail.

SS: The word “cutthroat” has such a negative connotation, and the one thing I can say about myself is that I’ve been consistent. And I’ve been consistently me throughout this entire time.

It’s the best I can do. I never try to be anybody else, and I never tried to be something I wasn’t. Because it’s so much easier to be you than to pretend. And then again, you can work really, really, really hard when you believe in yourself, because you’re being exactly who you are.

JB: (laughing) Totally. That might be our end right there.

SS: (laughing) I like that. Listen, I’m super-excited about this workshop, and that the people there were really open to all of my ideas.

In class, I want to talk about making professional photos. Taking yourself from someone who really likes photos, to somebody who can be on set. You have to be consistent, you have to have clear and focused vision, and you have to be a good communicator.

I’m going to have these students act like professional photographers. The minute you walk in the door, you’re no longer a student. You’re a shooter. You’re going to have to do mood boards, and talk about your ideas.

I am the client, and not because I’m trying to be an asshole, but because I want you to tell me what you’re talking about. And I want you to be clear, and professional.

That’s the best thing I took away from Vassar, and my grad school days. If you can talk intelligently about what you’re doing, that’s your ticket.

Can you talk about your visuals, and get everybody else on board? If the answer is yes, work really, really, really hard, and it’s all going to be OK.

JB: Boy, I’m glad we didn’t end it with that first ending, because the advice bombs are dropping fast and furious right now.

SS: I’ve had 1-2 interns every semester, for the last few years, and we talk every day about the stuff we’re talking about now. We talk as people. I try not to be the person in charge.

This shit is scary. This city is scary. Putting yourself out there is scary. I know.

You think your ideas don’t matter, and you’re not going to take a good picture. You don’t know until you try.

I could wax poetic for hours.

JB: I know. Right about now is when we normally end, but you’re just getting started. Unfortunately, we’ve already covered everything I wanted to cover.

SS: I’m kind of inspired. You ask me where I come from, and it all comes full circle. Every year, I shoot for this dance company, the Stephen Petronio Company.

The inspiration I draw from the photo shoots I do with him, movement wise, kind of trickles down and inspires all the beauty, and fashion, and hair that I do for the next year.

There’s no rules, and it’s just collaboration. And I’m still shooting for him, and it’s just such an amazing opportunity. Not only is it a total thrill, because Stephen and his dancers are amazing, but it’s an honor to have a long relationship with somebody like Stephen and

to see the fruits of our labor over several years.

I’m looking at this gorgeous set we’ve built, and looking at the pre-light pictures… it’s one of those days where I especially love what I do.

JB: And I like that we’re still not mentioning how many years you’ve been working with these guys…

SS: Nope.

JB: Right. We’re not going to go there.

SS: The funny thing is, I was always the youngest person in the room. I used to lie about my age, so that my art directors wouldn’t think I was a kid.

It’s never bad. It just doesn’t need to be in print. Right?

ELLEUA2_13-12-07_A_220-FinalRGB

ELLEVN_A_058-02-03_FinalRGB

ELLEVN_B_200-02-03A_FinalRGB

LOFFICIEL1_14-05-01_A_160_FinalRGB

SURFACE2_13-09-22_M_023_FinalRGB

VOBEAUTY1_14-05-11_D_063

VOBEAUTY2_14-06-02_D_007_FinalRGB

VOBEAUTY4_14-10-05_D_012_FinalRGB

W14PHASE1_14-10-12_F_018_BWFinalRGB

W14PHASE1_14-10-12_H_023_BWFinalRGB

W14PHASE1_14-10-12_J_050_FinalRGB

SFPW_APhotoEditor_Jan2015

The Daily Edit – Mental Floss: Scott Dickerson

- - The Daily Edit

Mental-Floss_0001 Mental-Floss_0002 Mental-Floss_0003

Mental Floss

Creative Director: Winslow Taft
Associate Art Director: Lucy Quintanilla
Production Assistant: Aliya Best
Photo Researcher: Kendra Rennick
Photographer: Scott Dickerson

 

Heidi: How was being an Alaskan through and through shaped you as a photographer?

Scott: Alaska often feels like the edge of the earth. This is true not only for the natural environments I work in, but also for the business environment. I was raised with a homesteader attitude – we make do with what we have. As a creative this means not just working with the tools, subjects, and opportunities available to me, but really making the most of them. To work effectively in ‘The Last Frontier’ one must constantly adapt to the demands of nature and know how to get around. My lifelong experience and connections around the state are some of my greatest assets when it’s time to get work done.

Alaska-lifestyle-photographer-scott-dickersone

Post surf session selfie.

 

Last summer I put together a shoot with ROXY. They were familiar with my fly-out surf trips in Alaska and wanted to shoot a campaign based on that story. Having worked with them in the past on several projects they relied on me heavily to bring all the pieces together. And it was a lot of pieces, we had two floatplanes and a helicopter in the mountains one day and then a floatplane and a boat at a beach scene the next day. My experience working with all the service providers and knowing what was realistically possible within the budget and schedule was crucial to making the shoot a success

Patagonia was just about to introduce their new drysuit made for kiting. This is a product that makes it not only possible, but actually comfortable to kite surf in extremely cold conditions. Or at least they thought. They came to Alaska to test out the suit and get some dramatic images of what would be possible wearing this new piece of technology. I jumped in the motorhome with them and we had what they all claimed to be a trip of a lifetime. We were kiting with icebergs just hours from their arrival into Anchorage airport, over the next few days we flew in two bush planes and fulfilled long time dreams for the crew. The icing on the cake was a floatplane day trip out to a glacial lake to kite with more icebergs in a total wilderness setting. The suits were well proven by the end of the trip and they went home with some striking images.

Alaska-adventure-photographer-scottdickerson

We took the Naish boardsports crew to this location and shot kiting, SUP, and surf amongst the icebergs.

 

Have you surfed all your life? What drew you to winter surfing and how cold is it?

I started playing in the water at a young age. Before my friends and I borrowed our first wetsuit water activities were limited to the hottest days of summer. As the available equipment improved so did the time I spent in the water. Now with modern surfing wetsuits there is almost no limit to how cold it can be and still be enjoyable playing in the ocean. What made me want to start surfing? I really couldn’t say – I’d never even seen someone surfing in Alaska when I was overcome with the desire to play in the waves. The reason I still surf in Alaska is the adventure and natural environment. Imagine seeing an incredible ocean landscape with snow covered mountains towering in the background. There is no better way to really experience that scene than to literally immerse yourself in it. Even better if you get to ride waves of energy pulsing in the ocean!

Alaskan-adventure-photographer-scott-dickerson

Product tested.  A new Patagonia drysuit made for kiting in frigid water.

 

How do you capture the surf shots?

Surfing is a particularly challenging subject. The athletes and photographer are very much at the mercy of the weather and waves. The right conditions are almost never easy to find, especially in a place like Alaska. Once we do find good surf the next challenge is finding a place to photograph from. I often put my equipment in a dry bag and swim into shore, arriving soaking wet to stand around in the cold for 1-4hrs. Alternatively I might shoot from a small skiff or sitting on a stand up paddle board right next to the breaking waves – a risky place to be when your attention is fragmented, camera gear exposed, and the water so cold. If the conditions allow, I will also shoot with a water housing right in the surf which is typically cold and exhausting. The large tides in Alaska make for strong currents to swim against and diving under waves in a thick wetsuit is not easy.

Clearly you’ve incorporated your lifestyle into your work, which came first?

Perhaps this means I’ve reached the perfect blend – I can’t tell them apart anymore!

My career as a photographer was launched by an overwhelming desire to share the spectacles of nature I witnessed while commercial fishing on the Alaskan coastline. This original inspiration has stayed with me for the decade plus I’ve been making images professionally.

I’ve been careful to pursue projects and subjects that I’m passionate about from the start. The reward has been that my work and personal interests are indistinguishable.

Photography has also given me opportunities that are otherwise out of reach – I’ve always loved aviation personally, but it’s my photography work that allows me to orchestrate the flight path of three helicopters through the mountains.

I’m also the beneficiary of a trend where photographers are hired for more than just their images. Many of my clients are aware of my lifestyle and they want some of that story to show through in the projects.

Alaska-aviation-photographer-scott-dickerson

Shooting air to airs is non-stop action with all elements in constant motion – that’s probably why it’s my favorite subject.

 

Steelhead

We spent a couple hours in a helicopter flying around 13 different drill rigs shooting them from all angles on this project.

 

What was your first paid assignment?

As a self taught photographer I started out small. My first paid assignments were things like taking photos of Bed and Breakfasts for local business owners or photographing the Winter Carnival for the local newspaper. Looking back it’s humbling to see where this all began. Since 2001 my primary source of income has been photography.

Do you come to the lower 48 for meetings, shop your portfolio?

I was an early adopter of digital and online so much of my work has come from social sharing or people finding my images through searches.  This has really helped me to overcome the challenge of being so far away from the major hubs.

I’ve done well over the years photographing my passions and finding a way to leverage the images after the fact. Sometimes those images are just marketing tools that attract a client, and sometimes they sell as stock. The unique subjects and locations that I photograph often market themselves with even a small amount of exposure.

That being said, my business and marketing efforts are evolving. Recently I’ve been to NAB, visited stock agencies I work with, and invested time getting to know folks at clients like Patagonia. Maybe this is the homestead way again, I look to find friends and establish long term relationships that more work and adventure can grow from.

 

Alaska-aerial-photographer-scott-dickerson

Take a deep breath and relax. It’s a relief just to know that places like this still exist on our planet. Untouched wilderness in all its beauty as far as you can see from 4,000 feet.

Alaska-aerial-photographer-scottdickerson

Take a deep breath and relax. It’s a relief just to know that places like this still exist on our planet. Untouched wilderness in all its beauty as far as you can see from 4,000 feet.

 

For your aerial shots are you using a drone, in a helicopter?

Aviation is a part of life in Alaska. I’ve flown and photographed from almost every type of flying contraption from self propelled paragliders all the way up to Coast Guard C-140s. I’ve been toying with drones a little the last couple years but for much of my work manned aerial vehicles are still the way to go. Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time in helicopters as a Cineflex operator shooting perfectly stabilized motion content for a variety of clients with www.ZatzWorks.com. For still photography I’m usually in helicopters or fixed wing aircraft for commercial work. When I’m just itching to fly, or the weather is just right and I can’t stay on the ground I often fly myself in a motorized paraglider (paramotor).

Scott Dickerson, aerial photographer in Alaska.

Flying and shooting photos from my powered paraglider. photo © Jake Schmutzler

 

 

 

Alaskan-aerial-photogpher-scott-dickerson

Legs just dangling out there in the breeze. Views like this never get old – I just hope I can get old getting them!

 

Did the Adventure trips come first and then the ability to market the imagery?

First it was adventure in the Alaskan wilds and then photography brought a new richness to those experiences. Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time aboard the m/v Milo as both a photographer and USCG Captain (www.OceanSwellVentures.com). We invite people to join us as we explore the endless coastline of Alaska. The trips are roughly half for private adventurers and the rest are media productions for editorial or commercial clients like:

Patagonia (surf ambassadors on four different trips now)

Red Bull – boat based surfing adventure for the web video series – Brothers on the run
FOX (apparel brand) – photographs of professional surfer Ian Walsh surfing in Alaska
Alaskan Brewing – ongoing contract to produce Alaska adventure images
Taylor Steele surf film – This time tomorrow
Alaska Sessions – surf film trip
Magazine work includes: Surfers Journal, Surfer, Fluir, Tide, Slide, tracks, GQ Spain, Mental Floss, National Geographic Adventure (online), Red Bulletin, Wavelength, Alaska.

 

Alaska-commercial-fishing-photographer-scott-dickerson

Personal project photographing a commercial herring fishery in Alaska.

 


What’s the best and most challenging aspect of being a working photographer in AK?

The best aspect of working in Alaska is Alaska itself. The unadulterated wilderness is such an inspiration for me. When I find myself in an urban environment it’s as though I can’t take a deep breath. There’s a feeling I’ve only found in the wilds of Alaska, a chest expanding peace and connection with the natural elements – something that I try and share in my images.

The most challenging aspect is that same rugged wilderness that I love comes with a cost. It’s untamed, the weather is extreme and it’s entirely out of our control. Much of my work depends on the weather coinciding with the schedules of my clients or the availability of resources.

Alaska-surf-photographer-scott-dickerson

As part of my work with Alaskan Brewing I always bring a few beers along for moments like these.

 

Tell me about your creative role with Alaska Brewing, how did that project develop?

My work with Alaskan Brewing started when they were relabeling their IPA. It had a drawing of a surfer on the label and packaging. The formula was being changed and they were sick of being told ‘People don’t really surf in Alaska!’ so they took the opportunity to use photography instead of illustration to prove they weren’t being phony. After a few more image sales they approached me with the idea of being a ‘sponsored photographer’. I believe the idea came about after receiving requests from adventure sport athletes for sponsorship but it never seemed like the right fit. Then they had the idea to sponsor a photographer instead. Smart thinking in my opinion. It’s a new endeavor for both of us but the first year was a great success so I expect it to continue to evolve.

Will ASME Stand Up For Magazine Editors And Punish Condé Nast?

- - Working

In a clear violation of the ASME (American Society of Magazine Editors) Guidelines, Condé Nast has asked their Editors to write advertorials for the magazines they edit:

Condé Nast caused a stir in the media world Monday when it announced plans for a new studio that will allow marketers to work directly with editors at its magazines to create “branded content,” ads designed to blend in with regular articles.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/write-ads-conde-nast-staff-is-wary-1422404937

ASME Editorial Guidelines state:

9. Don’t Ask Editors to Write Ads
Editorial staff should not participate in the creation of advertising. Editorial contributors should not participate in the creation of advertising if their work would appear to be a conflict of interest.

http://www.magazine.org/asme/editorial-guidelines

so

The Board of Directors reserves the right to expel from membership in ASME any editor of a print or online magazine who willfully or repeatedly violates the ASME Guidelines for Editors and Publishers.

http://www.magazine.org/asme/about-asme/asme-bylaws

The National Magazine Awards are tonight and they’re even giving renown photojournalist James Nachtwey an award for Creative Excellence. I wonder if ASME will stick up for editors and next year The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, W, Wired, GQ, Bon Appétit, Traveler and Details will not be allowed to participate? Challenging times for magazines for sure.

ASME-NMA-carousel-v2

This Week In Photography Books: Margaret Morton

by Jonathan Blaustein

Sometimes, you’ve got to mix things up. Even though it’s harder than sticking with what you know. I like easy as much as the next guy, but it CAN make a person complacent.

Just look at McDonalds.

Why did it become a massive capitalist behemoth? With tens of thousands of locations? Because you only have to be smart enough to walk up to the counter, or drive up to the window, and point at a number.

I want combo #2.
You could grunt, and it would still work out.

If you can string together enough syllables, in proper order, to say, “Combo #2,” and you can cobble together enough pocket change to pay the $2.99, then you can have yourself a burger, some fries, and a highly-sugar-and-caffeine-laden beverage.

What could be easier than that? And as to the cows that go into that burger? Why bother to make them run around a grassy pasture? Why not just let them stand in their own shit, all day long, until it’s time to kill them?

What’s easier, letting them stand where they are, or going to the trouble of designing a cow-exercise program?

No contest.

But just the other day, I was reminded why the hard way promotes growth. I was headed in to teach my second straight class in the new semester: “Beginning Digital Photography.” I asked for an extra class, THIS class, in fact, because I can teach it in my sleep. I know my patterns. I know my lectures. Cold.

No drama at all.

Except there were only 5 students in the room, instead of the usual 25. And the University didn’t want to cancel. So, on the fly, I realized I’d have to re-tool everything I know, in order to keep a very small room entertained and enlightened for 2.5 hours straight, for 15 weeks.

My first thoughts were based in fear and frustration. My desire for the lazy way was screeching in my consciousness, like a wolf that just chewed off its own leg to get out of a trap. Then, I caught my breath, and realized I had no option but to make it work.

I began to ask the students questions I normally wouldn’t. I established a completely new vibe, and laid down ground rules. By the end of class, we were all laughing, and I was excited as hell.

Often times, change is forced upon us. We resent it, and then realize it was in our best interest. This time, I went through the stages of grief in warp speed. Which allows me to give you my high-minded advice all the quicker.

What does that have to do with a book review, though? I’m glad you asked. Because, as always, I’m trying to reach a cogent point before I’ve hit 1000 words, and your attention span begins to wane.

Today, I want to highlight “Cities of the Dead: The Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan,” a new book by Margaret Morton, recently published by the University of Washington press. That’s a long title, yes, and it likely gives you a clue to its subject. Not a lot of room for surprise.

This book is one that I’ve looked at several times before, and decided not to review. (Yes, I know we’ve had this conversation before.) But this morning, I changed my mind. (And not because I’m out of books, which has been the motivation in years past.)

No, I decided to write about this book because I chose to change my criteria a bit, to keep things from getting stale. This book is not inherently exciting and dramatic, and I don’t think the pictures will change your life. They’re not brilliant, nor are they particularly innovative.

Before you hate me for damning the book with faint praise, let me continue. The pictures are kind of washed-out, bleached, and bereft of people. They’re not razor sharp, nor are they showy. The tonal range is minimal, so they don’t grab you in the guts either.

But they are consistent, in their tone and compositional style. They keep coming at you, like the less-talented fighter who out-works the flashy favorite. (Hello Buster Douglas, what are you doing in 2015?)

They transport you somewhere else. Somewhere quiet, where everyone’s already dead. The aesthetic reinforces the content, and there is a distinct narrative structure. You start far away, pull in very tight, and then drift back out again.

Very smart.

Perhaps I fall victim to shiny visuals, or off-beat and absurd concepts? I show you books that are edgy, or already famous, or that reflect an arty style you’ll like for sure.

This book, however, does something that I’m always asking for, despite it’s grayscale production: it shows me, (and you) something I’ve never seen before. Frankly, even in this ever-more-connected world, I suspect it depicts something almost no one has seen before: vacant cemeteries, in the form of mini-cities, in the hinterlands of Kyrgyzstan.

That’s about as far off the beaten path as anyone can get these days. I wouldn’t even know how to fly there if I tried? Do you route through Tajikistan? Or am I a fool, and everyone knows that Uzbekistan is the best layover, what with their killer mutton stew?

Kidding aside, these pictures have a sere, world-weariness that didn’t seduce me. It put me off, even though I was inherently curious. But I never forgot the book, so I came back to it again.

It’s not the grand vistas that grab you here, it’s the details. Is that a scalp nailed to a wooden post? What do the rams horns mean? The deer? Are these competing warrior clans, with different spirit animals?

The stars and sickles jut up into the sky, whose color we can’t know, as we’ve been denied the opportunity.

Why the cages? What do they mean? Is that a desiccated eagle? Or a falcon? How hard is it to train a falcon anyway?

This book is not something I’d normally review, and I think that it’s healthy for me to keep expanding that definition. It does have a lot to offer. And it’s my job to sit still long enough to share that appreciation with you.

Bottom Line: Austere publication highlighting graveyards at the end of the line

IMG_0222

IMG_0225

IMG_0226

IMG_0228

IMG_0229

IMG_0231

IMG_0233

IMG_0236

IMG_0237

IMG_0238

IMG_0239

IMG_0240

IMG_0241

IMG_0243

IMG_0244

Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.

The Art of the Personal Project: Ted Catanzaro

- - 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: Ted Catanzaro

08_Extra_006

Catanzaros_006

DawnPatrol007

Day5_Luau__0018-copy

Debbie_Pol

Homeboy

Homegirl

MG_3755-1

MG_9553-682x1024

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 2.26.52 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 2.28.51 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 3.18.52 PM

Screen-Shot-2014-12-02-at-4.04

Screen-Shot-2014-12-02-at-4.27

Screen-Shot-2014-12-03-at-12.09

Screen-Shot-2014-12-03-at-12

Screen-Shot-2014-12-11-at-3.21

How long have you been shooting?

I’ve been shooting photos since high school. My parents were very supportive about photography. One of the bedrooms of our house was converted into a darkroom and there were always cameras and photo magazines lying around the house. Our encyclopedias were the Time Life Library of Photography. My brother went to Ansel Adams’ workshop in Yosemite for a couple of summers when Ansel was still alive. I remember my dad talking to him on the phone a few times when we were building our darkroom. I had an incredible photo teacher at Palisades High – Rob Doucette. A bunch of kids in his classes went on to become professional photographers. I still keep in contact with him on Facebook and see him surfing a couple of times a year.

Are you self‐taught or photography school taught?
I learned the basics about photography developing, printing, and the history of the medium—in high school, and I did my undergraduate and graduate work in fine art at U.C.L.A . Again, I was lucky to have great instructors at UCLA like Mike Kelley, Chris Burden, Roger Herman, and John Divola. Robert Heinecken was the head of the photo dept. We rented a loft from him in Culver City. During my years at UCLA we had visiting lecturers like John Baldassari, Lewis Baltz, and Gary Winogrand.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Originally, the blog was a way of posting images for friends and families, just to share what we’ve been up to, what it’s like to have five boys, and it sort of became a creative vehicle for me. The writing along with images sort of developed into the life of the blog. We put a link for it in our website just because it was the easiest way to navigate to it.

The blog is the first category I go to on anyone’s website. I’ve had my blog for about seven years now and there are certain themes and stories that are recurrent. They usually involve being a dad/husband, coffee, music, surfing , gardening, cooking, camping, or going to Kauai.

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

I’ve had the blog since 2008. I try to update every week or so. I try to stay away from direct work postings or behind the scene stuff. If I do post about an assignment I try to keep it more personal.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
That’s hard to say, The most popular project on our website is our Holiday Card section. It features our holiday cards from the mid-1980’s to the present.

I’ve got a couple of other projects I’m working on right now, like my surfer tailgate portrait project, a Homeboy/Homegirl story, my Punk rock project, and my Dead Rat project. All of these get some airplay to some extent on the website, Insta, Tumblr. Etc… and I’ll see where they go.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?

It’s different, and I’d be kidding myself if I thought we actually got booked for shoots based on the blog, but every client we work for tells me how much they love reading the blog and looking at the photos. Ever since then I’ve geared the portfolio/ website to my personal work. Our new website design makes it really easy to create a new project or story.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?

I use Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr and spend way too much time on all of them. There’s something weirdly satisfying (and perverse) having my images being stored on a phone in someone’s pocket halfway around the world.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?

No, I wish, but it’s really rewarding when someone says I love your blog, I spent an hour on it, or, that last blog posting made me cry.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?

Yes, most of our promos/marketing uses our personal images from our blog.

————–

Ted Catanzaro is the Ted of Ted & Debbie, a photography production team based in Los Angeles. They have 5 boys and 2 guinea pigs.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit – Bon Appetit: Alex Lau

- - The Daily Edit

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 8.05.07 PM Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 8.05.12 PM
Bon Appetit

Creative Director: Alex Grossman
Photo Director: Alex Pollack
Assistant Photo Editor: Elizabeth Jaime
Senior Food Editor: Alison Roman
Photographer: Alex Lau (opener only )
Photographer: Jarren Vink (inside spreads )

 

Is there any interesting backstory to that photo?
Funny that you ask. This seemingly simple opener was the subject of huge debate and drama for about three weeks in the office. There was some clash between our editors on what exactly an olive oil fried egg should look like. Some thought that it shouldn’t be too crispy and burnt around the edges, while others insisted that it was simply a quality of frying an egg with this method. It was definitely one of our more difficult openers to work on, mainly because it took a long time for the staff to come to a consensus on the shot. 

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.36.12 AMunnamed-1
How many eggs did you cook to get this image?
Our lovely and patient senior food editor Alison Roman probably cooked about 15 eggs for this.
Is an egg something you’ve shot several times as a food photographer, if so is it a challenge to make it different?
I approach eggs the same way I photograph food in general. The end goal is to make it pretty, so lighting is incredibly important. Sometimes soft light is key, while other times harsh light gives it that pop. It really depends on prop styling, what surface you’re shooting on, and ultimately how the egg is cooked.
Is there a staff kitchen you have access too?
The photo studio that I do all in-house work in is connected to the Bon Appetit test kitchen, where we constantly develop recipes for our print and web issues. A common question I always get as a food photographer is whether or not the food I shoot is actually edible, and not a glued concoction of plastic. I don’t know how other publications work, but the recipes are cooked, sent out to me to shoot, and then immediately go straight into my belly.
Do you always have a food stylist/prop stylist for your shoot?
Not all of the time. When I’m shooting in the office, I usually have one of the test kitchen editors helping me out in terms of food styling. As for prop stylists, I’ve never had the opportunity to work with one. Most prop styling is a collaborative effort between me, our photo and test kitchen editor.
Where does you love of shooting food come from?
It probably stems from my love of eating everything all of the time.
Can you cook?
Not compared to my coworkers, but I’d like to think that I’m half decent at preparing meals.
Your style is very observational rather then pretty food photos. Describe your approach to shooting food.
I didn’t really start shooting food until January of last year, despite having done photography for 5 years. I have a background in documentary photography, which I think definitely has transferred over to my approach to photographing food. I usually like to photograph food just the way I’ve found it, mainly because I’m terrible at food styling.
 Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 1.40.04 PM
Is this a Sazerac? Did you have one?
That’s Merrill and Co’s Two Stones cocktail, which consists of rye, East India sherry, curacao, and bitters. I did, and it was delicious.