Pricing and Negotiating: Real Employees for Trade Ads

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Environmental lifestyle images and portraits of client employees

Licensing: Unlimited use of 36 images for 1 year

Location: Client facilites on the West Coast

Shoot Days: 3

Photographer: Lifestyle and portrait specialist

Agency: Mid-sized agency based in the Midwest

Client: One of the largest manufacturers you’ve probably never heard of

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing: Late last year we worked with one of our West Coast-based photographers to estimate and produce a project for one of the largest brands you’ve never heard of, but probably crossed paths with at some point. This is partially due to the nature of their product and the fact that they are trade oriented and don’t deal with consumers directly. The agency was developing a new web presence for the client, along with a number of trade print ads, all of which humanized the brand by highlighting the employees who manage the day to day operations. The concept was relatively straightforward; the photographer would need to capture environmental portraits of client employees at client facilities on the West Coast. Although the locations and talent would be provided, there was still a lengthy shot list, operational locations, and a fair amount of production involved.

This was a somewhat challenging fee to pin down because of the scale/reach of the client, the agency’s requirement of “unlimited” use in spite of the limited intended use, and a shot list that seemed to split the difference between an image-based approach and a library approach. Though the client was expecting to walk away with 36 selects, the shot list only consisted of 12 hero shots (four scenarios/shoot day). The additional 24 images were described as “pickup” variations of the 12 principal images. Because of the straightforward concept and relatively static scenarios, it was difficult to imagine these variations creating much value for the client.

Much as I try to avoid this thinking, I established a ceiling in the back of my mind, due to the “typical” library rate range of 7,500-15,000/day (which generally wouldn’t include a limit on the image count or duration of use). Additionally, we determined the value for the 12 principal images was considerably higher than the 24 variations. Weighted in this manner, we set the fee at 26,500.00 for the first 12 images (1 @ 5000.00, 2-6 @ 2500.00 each, 7-12 @ 1500.00 each) and 15,000.00 for the 24 variations (13-24 @ 750.00 each, 25-36 @ 500.00 each), bringing us to a total of 41,500.00 for the creative and licensing fee for this project. This falls on the higher end of the library ceiling I’d set (particularly considering the limitations), but the photographer has a unique approach and aesthetic favored by the client and agency, so we felt we could start with healthier fees. We were confident that the agency would come back to us to negotiate if our numbers didn’t align with theirs because of the photographer’s preferred position. We must have hit the mark, because the agency approved the bid without a single question or requested revision (which is exceedingly rare).

Client Provisions: We made sure to indicate that the agency and/or client would provide locations, casting and talent, requisite releases and any major set or product props.

Tech/Scout Days: We included a tech/scout day to walk through the three locations the day before the shoot.

Assistants and Tech: We included two killer assistants and a top-notch digital tech. The lighting kit would be minimal, but we’d be moving a lot and wanted to make sure we had enough hands on deck. The tech included a small mobile workstation in her fee.

Producer: We included a producer (including travel fees and expenses) to manage the crew, employee talent, locations, stylists, catering, parking, scheduling, local transportation, and just about any other logistical concerns that may come up throughout pre-production and the shoot.

Equipment: We estimated 1,500.00/day for a pair of DSLR bodies, a number of lenses, portable strobes, walkies and a one-ton grip truck.

Styling: We brought on two stylists (and one stylist assistant) to manage HMU, supplemental wardrobe (the subjects would provide a few of their own outfits and the client would provide necessary uniforms) and supplement personal props like handbags, folios, phones, etc. Major set props would be provided by the client – basically, we would work with existing spaces as is.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This fee covered time, equipment and costs for the initial import, edit, batch color correction and upload of the images via FTP (or similar) for client review and selection. A digital tech will handle most of this on set, but often the photographer will want to fine tune and finesse the edit a bit before sharing with the client/agency.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: We included basic select processing (color correction and minor cleanup/touchups) as a lump sum (based on 125.00/image in this case), giving us a bit more ground to stand on if the client ultimately selected fewer than 36 images, as they would still be responsible for the full post processing amount.

Travel Expenses: The producer would be travelling in for the shoot so I used to determine reasonable airfare, lodging and car rental costs.

Catering, Insurance and Misc.: We included catering for 23 crew, agency, employee talent and client for each of the three shoot days, insurance to cover necessary workers comp/general liability premiums and a healthy “misc.” line to cover client dinners, local transportation and any other unexpected miscellaneous expenses that may pop up throughout the shoot.

Results: As I mentioned above, the initial estimate was accepted without any revisions. The shoot went as smoothly as it could have and everyone was stoked with the final product.

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

The Daily Promo: Charlie Hess – 20 Over Twenty

- - The Daily Edit



Mark Hanauer


Ted Catanzaro


Michal Czerwonka


Rebecca Cabbage


Carla Richmond Coffing


Gregg Segal

20 Over Twenty

Chess Design website
Chess Design Instagram


What made you want to form this collective?
In my day-to-day practice as an editorial art director and photo editor I began to see huge changes in how photography was being used, and compensated.

On the one side, I see the Directors of Marketing and Communication that I work with scrambling for “content” (what we used to call pictures!) With more and more traffic going to sophisticated websites and social media platforms there is an endless need for digital imagery to “feed the beast.” Websites need to be updated often. And social media platforms need to be fed daily. Consequently, these marketing directors jobs get harder and harder. Not only are they scrambling for content, it has to be on brand, high quality and compelling.

I thought we could help.

Meanwhile, all the great editorial photographers that I work with every day are generally getting less work and being paid less for it too. They didn’t forget how to take great pictures! It just became okay to ask for images for free or for smaller fees, with more usage. It’s the constant drip drip of imagery being devalued. In a world where everyone is shooting daily, why not use your iPhone picture instead. It’s “good enough.” And it’s free. I don’t think it’s okay to diminish the value of people’s work. You wouldn’t ask your lawyer to cut his fees because there are lots of other law firms. For the magazines I work with they understand that we don’t have to pay a fortune, but we have to pay fairly for a days work. And, in return, they get stellar work, shot by professionals, and delivered in such a way that they can use it across all platforms.

These trends inspired me to develop a new agency to meet this need. It’s called (like 20/20 — perfect vision.)

I saw a way to merge all these industry sea changes, making it easier for the clients, and create more work for the creatives. We developed a hybrid business model that includes me as art director, working with clients to best tell their stories. I will help them conceptualize and plan the shoots they need over the course of time, and they can build it into their budget. Plus, the clients get the full talent and resources of all our photographers. Between the six photographers we can shoot nearly anything. Most importantly, this takes the pressure off the marketing clients — they’ll get great photos, specific to their needs, and over time build a library of evergreen images for print, web, app and social media. It’s a win-win.

How did you decide what markets to focus on?
I want us to work with clients and causes that are meaningful. In my mind that’s academic and cultural institutions, and nonprofits — museums, schools, good causes, really anyone who needs content and is working towards good, not evil. These entities typically have decent marketing budgets, and working for universities all these years I know how to get a lot of mileage out of editorial photo fees! We’ll make work that we are proud of, collaborate with smart people, and pay the rent too. Besides, we’re never going to compete with the agencies, and wouldn’t want the headaches.

What were the key factors in choosing your line up of photographers?
Simple answer: Grownups. No drama. Great talent. Basically, photographers I’ve worked with for years, who I know will show up on time, and be professional with the clients and subjects. Also each of them has their own aesthetic. I spent a ton of time thinking about the mix. I wanted us to be able to be able handle any assignment without compromising. And, by the way, that also means video shoots too. And copywriting. And animation. And anything else the clients might need. In a rapidly changing industry we need to stay flexible.

Our out-of-the-gate lineup is Mark Hanauer, Rebecca Cabage, Gregg Segal, Carla Richmond Coffing, Ted Catanzaro and Mikal Czerwonka. When you look at the site you’ll see the depth and range of their work — plus passion, intelligence and creativity.

How does someone get in touch with you to be a part of it?
For now, as a start-up, we have plenty of great talent. But hopefully in the future we’ll need more of everything — photographers in all the major cities, and in a perfect world, experience with cutting-edge new media too.

If you’re a Director of Marketing and Communication you can contact us at

Where do you see this project in 5 years?
We’ll all be on the beach drinking rum cocktails, making art projects out of shells… when we’re not too sunburned or hungover!

The Daily Promo: Jeff Stephens

- - The Daily Promo

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 Jeff Stephens

Who printed it?
Minuteman Press

Who designed it?
It was designed in house at my agency, The Photo Division

Who edited the images?
My agent, Maureen Dalton Wolfe

How many did you make?
50 total. This was a very small, specific run. We hand delivered with live Flowers to specific clients locally. But, sent flower seeds to clients nationally.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
1 significant promo a year, in addition to small run promos about each month.

How did the flower idea develop?
We try to come up with unique reasons to send a promo. This year we decided it should be all about new beginnings, something bright and promising for the spring ahead. We chose the yellow flower and Alex Rasi hand illustrated the back art and poem. We wanted to cheer people up and lighten the mood. We hand spray paint all of our envelopes, pick stamps to match and delivered this one with flower seeds and or an orchid.

Jeff Stephens Valentine's Day Promo 2016

We recently sent out a Valentine’s promo that was also well received. It was our grey envelope with our logo hand painted in pink or red spray paint. We sent a mix of lips or “kiss” postcards and chocolate lips or lipstick compact to go with it. We try to do anything we can to help brighten someone’s day and make their day in the office go just a little bit better.


Discarded: Anthony Hernandez at the Amon Carter Museum

by Jonathan Blaustein

On my last night in Texas, I stayed with an old friend, outside Austin. Jeff, who’s my age, is one of the few people I’ve known my whole life. (Beyond family, of course.)

We hadn’t seen each other in 12 years, and things have been difficult for him since then. But he handed me a jalapeño margarita soon after I walked in the door, and then we drank some beer, ate wicked Mexican food, watched the NCAA tournament, played video games, and laughed for 6 hours straight.

Jeff had a major heart attack the next day. (Hours after I drove off towards the endless horizon.)

Sometimes, change moves quickly, like a tornado, even though its causes have been building for years.

Think about the way we treat our planet. Some recent sci-fi films, like “Wall-E” and “Interstellar,” suggest we can all pack up and leave one day. Just shoot humanity up into space, and the rest will take care of itself.

I guess.
It’s possible.

But it seems like a bad bet, from where I’m sitting. (Yes, at my white kitchen table.)

That sense of fait accompli, that it’s all just a matter of time- I felt it strongly, the longer I stood in Anthony Hernandez’s photography exhibition “Discarded,” at the Amon Carter Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas.

We’re done here, I kept thinking.
We tried.
We failed.

C’est la vie.

In fairness, he might not have been speaking about all of us.
Just the Californians.

Mr. Hernandez is known in art circles, I’ve gathered, though I hadn’t heard of him until I saw his show. I’d been drawn to the Amon Carter Museum, as I was meant to meet one of their curators at FotoFest, and I wanted to be prepared. (As I’ve written countless times, from the perspective of the reviewer, do your homework. In this case, I visited a city just to check out this person’s curatorial practice.)

The show, however, was more than worth the trip. And it wasn’t even the best art I saw that day. The Kimbell Museum, recommended by my friend Ed, was unbelievably dynamite, and I can’t stress that enough. Both the Kimbell and the Amon Carter Museums are free, as is the adjacent Ft. Worth Modern on Sundays.

As I happened to visit on a Sunday, I got to see terrific art in 3 museums, over 3 hours, without paying a dollar. If you live in DFW, or are visiting that part of Texas, get your ass to Ft. Worth and see what they have going on.

You’ll thank me.

That said, this is meant to be an exhibition review, so let me pivot back to our putative point.

The prints in Anthony Hernandez’s exhibition, made between 2012-15, are all very large, and share a clean, clear California light that I described in my notes as “pitiless.” Cruel might be appropriate as well.

Apparently, Mr. Hernandez is known for his pictures of socialites and street people in LA. He’s an LA guy, it would seem. But for this show, he took his talents to the less glamorous parts of CA. The Inland Empire, the Central Valley, Mojave and the Salton Sea.

I’ve driven through many of those places, and can attest that they lend themselves to an end-of-the-world-type vibe. And I did wonder if there wasn’t a bit of city-snobbery in the way these places are depicted.

But really, it’s hard to lay it on too thick in spots this bleak. (Before you ask, the work does evoke John Divola and Richard Misrach, but I didn’t find it derivative.)

Just last year, everyone was talking about California running out of water. It was in the news cycle for months, this idea that its time was up. One El Niño later, and it’s no longer an issue, if the media is to be trusted.

But things don’t work like that.

The heart attack might strike like a ninja, but its antecedents move slowly, like tectonic plates. (We made our bed, and now we have to lie in it, even though it’s a rank, urine-soaked mattress on the floor of a vacant starter-home.)

There were almost no people in the pictures, but their imprint was everywhere. Abandoned homes with broken doors shoved over gaping window orifices. Purple-ish concrete-block fences that looked like minimalist bracelets. Scattered oranges on a dirt road, reminiscent of Roger Fenton’s cannonballs.

And always, that blazing, unforgiving light.

I made notes like, “When you’re done here, make sure to turn out the lights.” Or, “Has California just given up?”

Defunct, half-built housing projects defeated by the Great Recession connect economics gracefully to environmentalism. A pristine new curb, separating gravel from dirt, in a place where no homes will ever be built. A valley, called Lucerne, which probably gets as much water in a Millennium as its Swiss counterpart gets in a week in Winter.

The end of the world. That’s what this show makes you think about.

Uplifting stuff.

It puts me in mind of a conversation that Jeff and I had, in his suburban apartment off a Texas highway. Though I’ve admitted there’s nothing funny about Donald Trump, we did laugh about the fact Ted Cruz has to be PRETTY FUCKING CRAZY to be the biggest lunatic in the Republican race.

We may fear Trump more, but Ted Cruz, as a true Evangelical believer, is anxiously awaiting Armageddon. He’s so excited for Jesus to come back and kill everyone who’s not on his team. ISIS wants the end times, sure, but so do many of our fellow Americans.

So while The Donald is odious, I don’t think he shares Ted Cruz’s desire for the End Days to come sooner, rather than later.

After seeing Anthony Hernandez’s exhibition, I can’t help but wonder if we’re running out of time.


© Anthony Hernandez


© Anthony Hernandez


© Anthony Hernandez


© Anthony Hernandez


© Anthony Hernandez


© Anthony Hernandez

The Art of the Personal Project: Tyler Stableford

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 Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Tyler Stableford
















How long have you been shooting?
I’ve been shooting for 22 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I’m self-taught, yet I have learned from and been inspired by many workshops and mentors over the years.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
For The Farmers project, my main inspiration was to capture working farmers and ranchers here in my hometown of Carbondale, Colorado — and the project grew to become national in scope.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I shot the project for a few months before showing the work to Canon’s ad agency Dentsu America – I was hoping that this body of work could convince them to have me shoot a campaign for one of their new cameras. What they proposed instead, which was even more fortuitous, was a campaign for Canon’s ImagePROGRAF large-format printers. In many ways, this was the perfect match for the project, as I had always envisioned this series as a fine-art project. I never wanted the images to look or feel “commercial” — and with the printer campaign, the fine-art style was a perfect fit.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Ha! It depends — some I have dropped after a single shoot. With The Farmers series, I knew after shooting just a few ranchers here that it had promise. In part this was because I’ve lived here for 19 years and gotten to know many of the ranchers and have shot commercial projects on some of their properties, so I already knew a lot about these men and women, and their families. I knew this project could really come to life in print.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
That’s a good question, yet I think that often personal work is exactly what creative directors and art producers want to see these days. Yes, they need to see commercial work that shows that a photographer can execute a large-production campaign when needed; yet more important is personal spark and an artistic eye. I think that’s what really grabs a viewer’s attention and what may win a commercial project.

Also, I am always excited if my personal images have a different look than my existing portfolio. At this point in my career, I’m not looking to add more depth to, say, my skiing or climbing or workwear images (sure, I can always improve upon what I have, but you get the idea); I’m looking A) to be inspired by capturing unique imagery of larger world and B) to show more diversity on my portfolio.

As a director/photographer living in western Colorado, three hours’ drive from the nearest ad agency, I’m not one who specializes in just one narrow niche, as perhaps a more urban photographer might; I enjoy shooting a wide range of projects!

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

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
I haven’t seen personal work go viral; I have seen commercial projects and short films gain great interest online That said, until recently I have not invested a lot of time in posting to social media, and that is changing — I just hired a social media and marketing director to help with this!

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes, absolutely; I have printed my personal projects. I have used Canon’s HD Album books which have beautiful paper and layouts; they go alongside my main portfolio book and it’s nice to have an additional book of work when meeting with agencies.


Photographer and director Tyler Stableford has earned a worldwide clientele for his print and motion imagery. He is one of Canon’s prestigious Explorers of Light, and Men’s Journal named him “One of the Seven World’s Greatest Adventure Photographers.”

Tyler’s work has won numerous awards from the Art Directors’ Club, Communication Arts, Graphis, AdWeek, the AME awards and many others. His award-winning short films have screened at film festivals around the globe.

Tyler’s passion for storytelling extends beyond commercial work—he volunteers to shoot at least one week per year for nonprofits. Visit for more.

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

The Daily Edit – California Sunday Magazine : Mark Mahaney

- - The Daily Edit

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California Sunday Magazine

Design Director: Leo Jung
Photography Director: Jacqueline Bates
Photographer: Mark Mahaney

( For more images visit )

How did the shoot days unfold and how many days were you there?
On the first day of 2016, my assistant and I flew from San Francisco to Sydney, where we were slated to stay for nine days to document Rene Redzepi, arguably the most famous chef in the world, as he and his main team of chefs busily and scientifically attempted to plan the menu for their 10 – ‘pop-up’ restaurant in Sydney, Australia. The whole concept of the ‘pop-up’ was for Redzepi and his staff to entirely close the doors of Noma, his wildly praised restaurant in Copenhagen and for the entire team to temporarily setup shop in Australia where they’d take a crash course in local ingredients and traditions to put together (from scratch) a menu that is innovative, yet delicious, worthy of its $340 per person price tag. For the 10 week stint there were only 5600 individual seats available and they all sold out in about a half hour with 30,000 people on the waiting list. He and his chefs were under an incredible amount of pressure to make something magical happen from local ingredients most of them were tasting for the first time. When I arrived, they were only three weeks away from their opening night and not only did they not have a single one of their 15 or so final dishes perfected, but the kitchen wasn’t even fully built out. The restaurant itself was an active construction zone. Thomas, one of the two head chefs, would be experimenting with new flavors one minute and installing a sink or the oven’s ventilation system the next minute. It was an intense circumstance for me to walk into. Even though they were all super friendly and surprisingly accommodating, I could tell they would’ve preferred I not be there. If I’d been under the amount of pressure they were under, I wouldn’t have wanted ‘me’ to be there either.

But I was there and I felt pretty fortunate to be there. It’s rare to be able to witness the process of an individual who is deemed among the best in the world in their particular line of expertise. And I was surrounded by six of those individuals; not only by Redzepi, but his five person test kitchen team, each of whom specialized in their own particular facet of the eventual menu.

Even though I was there for nine days, we had no idea what sort of access we’d be granted.  There were however a few things that were made known to us. We were warned Rene disliked being photographed and to make it quick and painless. We were told we’d be working around a documentary film crew while we were in the kitchen. We were told to try not to distract or disrupt the chefs as they were under incredible time constraints. We were told we’d need to be flexible.

Tell us about the shooting in this pop-up kitchen.
We arrived at the kitchen on the first day, completely jet-lagged, and were quickly introduced to a few of the test kitchen chefs. We were allowed to walk through the actual dining room which was full of men and women wearing hard hats while drilling, sawing and trying to make sense of a room that at that time bared zero resemblance to the beautiful room it would eventually become. There was so much work to be done, not only on the menu, but also the physical space itself and instead of being there to document the finished product, which is typically the case on assignment shoots, I was there to photograph the process of this whole effort as it inched toward fruition.

On that first day we had come to introduce ourselves mainly to Rene and had planned on coming in the following day for the only one on one moment with him that I’d have for portraits. We never did see Rene that day, or the next. It turns out Rene’s whole family had the flu and it ended up hitting him as well. So, I dove right into covering whatever was happening in the kitchen while trying to stay out of the documentary crew’s shots. The main star of the show wasn’t there, but because of not knowing what sort of access we’d get over the next few days, I had to make the most of what was there.

Between then and the day Rene was able to return to the kitchen, numerous hiccups happened in the kitchen and Rene hadn’t been there to taste or give input on any of the attempted dishes. As a result, the stress level was peaking for their whole team, including those who were dictating the amount of access we were being given. I think everyone was a bit nervous about how Rene would respond on his first day back to having any press inside the kitchen, so we were all told we had to leave and it was left a bit nebulous as to when we could return and how much access we’d have from there on out. So, at this point, I’ve flown around the other side of the world, had been there for three days already without seeing the main person I was there to photograph and was fairly unsure as to how the rest of my time there would unfold.

You mentioned Rene didn’t enjoy being photographed, how was your first meet up?
The next morning we got there bright and early and the writer hoped that if Rene could meet me that he’d feel comfortable with me and we’d be able to explain our intentions and needs. I’m also a father so my instinct was to start talking to him about parenting and figured it’d be a good place to connect with him on; especially since Rene and I are almost the same age and both have younger people helping us who are not parents, who, for better or worse, do not have that added element to their everyday equation. He couldn’t have been more kind and after I shared with him exactly what I hoped to achieve, he seemed excited and told us we were more than welcome in the kitchen, overruling what we’d been told by others I’ve learned in the 8 or so years I’ve been doing this, and well before during my assisting years, that it often helps to go directly to the top when you’re trying to make something happen. In this case, it worked out in our favor.

Tell us about how the portraits came about, they all share the same emotional thread, so much intention; like Renaissance paintings.
I certainly lucked out on this front. Rene and his five supporting chefs are all quite striking and super photogenic. This is rarely the case. It sounds bad, but normally there’s at least a person or two who you aren’t super jazzed about photographing. But literally everyone, including the people we met on the farms later on in our trip, all of them were pretty easy on the eyes. I had that going in my favor for sure. As for the look of the portraits and images of the chefs, there were two approaches to those photographs. While documenting inside the kitchen, because things were still under construction, they had all the windows blocked so it was quite dark with just the existing artificial lighting overhead. Jacqueline Bates and I had brainstormed over email beforehand and had a few ideas for key imagined pictures that were fairly reliant on me bringing in my own lighting. Although, after feeling out the energy of the whole production, I didn’t dare add any strobes and just decided to embrace the existing light. After taking a few pictures, I was pleasantly surprised to see how they things looked on the back on the camera. There were these really bright overheads that would shine down unto the metal cooking surfaces, creating this incredible bounced glow on the chefs. It was like having a permanent, built-in bounce reflector everywhere you turned. That’s why all the images of the chefs at work in the kitchen have that unified look. I did a decent amount to them in post to take the look a step further. Even though everything looked great, it was still very dark in there. I was shooting mainly handheld since I was constantly following the action, often positioning myself under the lens of the documentary film camera or jockeying for position with the sound guy, etc. I was shooting at slow shutter speeds with the lenses aperture as shallow as they’d go, so I was thankfully able to capture most situations without blur. Some of the main portraits California Sunday chose to publish were taken in this setting.

Where were the portraits taken? kitchens are typically bright.
I tend to always gravitate toward daylight, especially the sort that tends to hang like that in those old dutch paintings. So this is what I did for the second approach to some of the portraits. During very rare slow moments in the kitchen, I asked and the individual chefs were gracious enough to give me 2-3 minutes to photograph each of them. I’m so grateful they gave me this time. 2-3 minutes sounds like nothing much to give, but they were pulling 20 plus hour days on their feet, so to get any of their time felt like a victory. My assistant and I found this little spot that was basically inside of a small closed off area that was under construction. And at a certain point in the afternoon, the light was just right in there. We figured out that if the door going outside was positioned just right, almost closed, but not quite, that a sliver of sunlight would reflect off the building next-door and would bounce perfectly through the small crack in the door. We photographed Beau first this way one day late in the afternoon. The other chefs weren’t available. The following days we were to leave to photograph down at some of the farms. After photographing Beau we were told that whole area we used to shoot his portrait was likely going to be dismantled by the time we returned to Sydney. My assistant and I were so bummed to perhaps have to photograph the rest of the portraits anywhere else because it had been so great. Thankfully, after two days at the farms, we approached the restaurant, my fingers were literally crossed, and was so relieved to see our make-shift studio spot was still standing. We did the remaining 3 portraits there and would eventually get nothing more than a few minutes to do something similar with Rene. Again, I’m so grateful it worked out that way.

Your food still life, looks like a painting, it’s so rich, did that direction come from the magazine?
There were some key pieces of direction given by Jackie, but the main objective was to shoot as many different aspects to illustrate what it takes for a world-renowned chef to build a restaurant and new recipes from scratch. So it was important to get pictures of ingredients from the farms that paired well with recipes the chefs were testing with those same ingredients.  You’ll see this in a few of the final images they selected. In some still life images at the farm, I photographed muntries and lemon aspen being held in the palm of a hand. Those ingredients ended up being the key ingredients of one of the main dishes they came close to finalizing while we were there, which was the ‘Native Fruit Dish.’ Seeing something in the field and then on the plate ended up working out well together.

As for the lighting and approach to the still life food images, I treated them in the same way as the day lit portraits I described above. They were literally taken in the exact same space and lit in the exact same way.  For backdrops, I either used pieces of wood I found in the scrap pile at the construction site or we used the raw, unfinished floor. In the case of the ‘Native Fruit Dish,’ it was on the last day we were there. We begged Thomas Frebel to create something that resembled a final dish to photograph. He obliged. The construction crew had just pulled some of the cardboard up off the floor of the dining room, so we decided to photograph the dish against that newly revealed reddish floor. I’m pretty happy with the lighting on that one. I wish someone had taken a photograph of me and my assistant while during that shot. It would’ve looked like we were nearing the climax of a game of Twister, our bodies contorted in odd ways to either block or bounce light. The majority of that image is lit by subtracting light.

As for the still life images of the ingredients at the farms, it was unrelenting and sort of unflattering sunlight all day long, so in an attempt to bring a bit of continuity between that fairly harsh light condition and what I’d already done at the restaurant, I tried isolating the main hand or ingredient against either a dark backdrop or an area of shadow.
I feel like it nicely works with that sort of glow that happened in the kitchen images.

Working there is executing at the highest level, ALWAYS.
What was it like to experience that and in turn try to capture that?
It was impressive to watch the process of the individual chefs. The setting was quite interesting. Each chef was typically completely engrossed in their own individual world while testing or playing around with a recipe. Often German house style music was blaring as the soundtrack. Pretty funny touch of ambiance.

There were times when it was a bit confusing what the chefs were even doing. Like true scientists in a lab. Like witnessing unbridled creativity. That’s essentially what you taste when you eat food they cook.  Every once in awhile, the chefs would meet up at one of the stations to take a moment to taste what the other has conjured up. I witnessed such focus and optimism and truth in their reactions to the taste tests. So supportive of one another. Like they were fully aware that they strength of the whole unit was greater the sum of their individual strengths. It seemed like an egoless space. Even with Rene, he was clearly the decider, but you could tell how much he respected the input of those working for him. I’m sure there were plenty of heated moments that arose within that kitchen during the 10 weeks, but I certainly didn’t see any of it. It was fascinating to watch the faces of the chefs as Rene tasted what they made. Their expression didn’t really change much whether Rene loved it or disliked it, but energetically a bit of glow appeared if his reaction landed on the side of love.

Did you try any dishes?
Because there weren’t any final dishes created during our time there, we didn’t get to try much of what they made. At one point, Thomas put down a bowl of chunks of something yellow with a green oily substance drizzled over it. He motioned for us to enjoy it. I had no idea what I was eating other than the fact that it was the most dynamic taste I’d ever tasted in my life. I’d spent hours watching them do what they do while thinking to myself, ‘how good could this really be?’ And believe me when I tell you it was absolutely mind-blowing. It turned out to be pineapple (I had no clue at first)with a reduction of oils from certain local plants over it. And that ‘Native Fruit Dish,’ yeah, I ate that and it was insanely good. The lemon aspen in it, which we were popping in our mouths at the farms like one would raspberries off a bush in the US, tasted like tiny explosions of lime sherbet. So good.

How difficult was it to edit your own work for this?
Well, even though there were days we couldn’t shoot or days where we only had access for a few minutes, I was there for nine days, so there were a ton of photos to sort through. That was likely the most overwhelming part. It took a few days to go through once returning back to the states. Beyond that, I don’t recall it being much different from other projects. In post, as I mentioned, I tried my best to bring some continuity to the treatment from photo to photo. It’s not everyday a magazine orders around 40 final images for one article. It was a lot to tackle, but so worth it. It’s also not everyday you get 21 pages of photos in a magazine, including the cover. I have a ton of respect for California Sunday. They’re certainly deserving of all the praise that’s been heralded in their direction. I’ve been trying to be super selective about the work I take on, but Jackie could call me and ask me to take a photo of a tire and I’d run to do it.

How did that experience transcend if at all, into your own pursuit of excellence?
I’m not certain it impacted much. I, like so many photographers am highly critical of my own work. I’m always trying to please and never disappoint, so I’ll keep trying at something, reworking the light, or moving something here or asking the subject to turn their neck ‘just a little bit this way’ and I keep going until I feel like I’ve gotten it right. I just do the best I can do considering the situation and depending how resourceful, calm and creative I happen to be in that moment. I think that’s no different with the chefs. I mean, they’re literally geniuses, in a league above all else, but it seemed like their pursuit to just genuinely do the best they could do was not dissimilar to my own.

The Daily Promo: Andrew Dominguez

- - The Daily Promo

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Andrew Dominguez

Who printed it?
Minuteman Press located in Austin TX.

Who designed it?
To be completely honest in a message, a bottle of Evan Williams.

Who edited the images?
Myself, though I asked for feedback from two friends:  Maja Buck  & Carlos Salazar

How many did you make?
Fifty in total. Twenty of those were sent out to Austin Texas based art directors back in early February. The remaining thirty I’ve been selling while touring across America with punks bands. I have four left.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Station Wagon Dad was the first zine I’ve put together. I’m planning to have another zine ready to send out in October, which would be a turn around time of about 9 months.(1.5 a year?) Though every month I’ve been sending out postcards that feature images I’ve taken of Goats. (

Tell us how your backseat investment turned out this promo.
I woke up in Birmingham at the end of September, in a house known as ‘God’s Butt.’ I was hungover and looking for a place to sit while charging my laptop. The house was covered in filth, glossy black tile had a layer of grime similar to a stove top after deep frying.  The cold water knob in the shower was buster off and their hot water heater was at a ten. I left the shower feeling more disgusted than the start. The band I was touring with broke up later that day, canceling five days in Florida and driving eleven hours back to Texas.
I’m not investing my time in the back seat of a van so that two hundred images can sit in an untouched dropbox folder for eternity. Touring isn’t providing me stability or funding my retirement account.

A few days prior to Birmingham, we were playing in a basement somewhere in Indianapolis. There I met Grant Lewandowski ,who gave me one of his B&W film zines.
Most of his images are paired with a poem, written by someone he knows via the internet. It was sequenced to become this beautiful short story of youth. Grant’s zine encouraged me to start printing my work again.

Producing Station Wagon Dad (the promo) was a way for me to share my experiences and look back on images that I was stoked on. It’s a wonderful feeling to rid a digital file of keywords and likes; being able to hold a physical album of my youth. I mean, yeah I regularly update my Instagram, but that’s a curated image grid meant to look pretty for someone who’s trying to give half of their attention to a conversation going on in a car.
I’m more interested in hearing about others and sharing experiences face to face. I suppose that’s why I’m sitting in the back seat of a van again. I’m on a Midwest tour until April 22nd; just trying to figure out where I want to be in life.


This Week In Photography Books: Brian David Stevens

by Jonathan Blaustein

I live in a bubble. (At least it feels that way.) Taos is an insular place, and it holds on to its own.

It takes a great deal of energy to leave, as the nearest towns are miles and miles in every direction. It feels very much like an island in the middle of the Wild West, equal parts 19th and 21st Centuries.

When you don’t have the perspective of other places and cultures to keep you balanced, you begin to over-invest in the little daily rituals and dramas that play out. Insignificant social interactions take on import they don’t really deserve.

You begin to go a little crazy.

Fortunately, last week, I embarked on a great adventure, driving 2000 miles across the massive state of Texas. I’d been stuck in the Taos orbit for too long, and marshaled my resources to allow for a big art/photo road trip, all the way to Houston.

I was headed to FotoFest, to show my own work for a change, and stopped in Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Austin on the way. As the highway flashbacks are still fresh, I’ll spare you a succession of anecdotes, and err on the side of brevity. (For once.)

My trip was fabulous. It gave me a fresh take on my life, a renewed sense of purpose as an artist, and as a human being in general.

There’s nothing like the open road to clear your head.

I needed to get the hell out of town, because I’d recently found myself standing at the top of our hill, staring out into the desert, wishing I could escape. I felt trapped, surrounded by mountains, desert and volcanoes in all directions.

Now that I’m home, I recognized a similar feeling in “Brighter Later,” a new book from my pile, by Brian David Stevens, recently published by Tartaruga Press in England. To cut to the chase, for once, this is not a brilliant book. It will not change your life.

It will not, singlehandedly, give you new insight into the human experience. It’s simply not that kind of production. (Though the textured cover and sleek vellum text pages do make for a lovely offering.)

The artist, with whom I occasionally trade tweets, visited each county in England, and made diptych images looking out into the sea beyond. (Because he used to close one eye, and then the other, when he was a boy, looking at the sea.) The images resemble many we’ve seen of the horizon before, including the famous project by Hiroshi Sugimoto.

So they fail my self-imposed test of showing us something we haven’t seen before. Still, they’re beautiful. And that counts for something.

I was far more intrigued by the categorical nature of the undertaking. Two images, in each and every county. It made me feel like the artist was living in a world before boats were invented. I imagined him thinking, “There has to be a way off this godforsaken rock in the middle of the ocean! Maybe if I try Carmarthenshire…no good. Or Ceredigion? Damn. What about Ayrshire? No. Argyll & Bute? Not quite.”

I felt the desperation for peace, for beauty, for a visual reminder that things are big out there, on Planet Earth, even if we’re cut off from the action.

I liked that a personality emerged from the pretty ocean shots. Slowly, you begin to think about the artist. What was he searching for? Why did he have to go to every county? There’s a secret buried somewhere in this exploration, if only we can find it.

Right. I’m headed back to drool on myself, and do my taxes. Sometimes, when you do get out into the world, you come home to drudgery. That’s OK, as long as the memories of excitement carry you until the next big adventure.

Bottom Line: Beautiful ocean horizons, and the yearning beneath

To Purchase “Brighter Later” Go Here





















The Art of the Personal Project: Danielle Tsi

- - 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 Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Danielle Tsi
















How long have you been shooting?
I have been actively photographing for the past 15 years. Professionally, for the past 6.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self-taught mostly, apart from the occasional photography workshop and assisting other photographers.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
A friend and I were invited last summer to attend the inaugural Women’s Meat Camp organized by the Belcampo Meat Company, in exchange for coverage on blogs and social media.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Each time I create work I seek to make it portfolio-worthy, whether for a client or for myself, so there’s no distinction in that regard. I’m a firm believer that there are a multitude of stories out there waiting to be told, I just have to be in the right space (physically and mentally) to capture it and this is how I approach any assignment. In this case, my goal was to tell the story of the first Women’s Meat Camp by conveying the camaraderie and friendships that were forged among 12 women over a weekend of cocktails, butchery and open-fire cooking.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yes, all the time. Instagram is my preferred medium and I really like that it automatically cross-posts to Facebook and Twitter.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
I wouldn’t say my work has gone viral but my blog has had its successes, most notably when it was nominated for Best Food Photography in Saveur Magazine’s Blog Awards a few years ago. That generated a lot of publicity and some fruitful work opportunities.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes, mostly postcards, though I’d love to put together a mini-zine sometime. Perhaps this is the year to do it!

The Belcampo Women’s Meat Camp was a four-day all-girls’ extravaganza featuring butchery and open-fire cooking of some fine cuts of meat, accompanied by: copious amounts of rosé, cocktails, yoga on the lawn, hands-on sausage-making, farm walks, hair-braiding, story-telling, grilled peaches and hand-churned ice-cream. Founded in 2012, the Belcampo Meat Company oversees the entire process of raising, butchering, processing and selling sustainable and humanely-raised meat on their farmlands at the foot of Mount Shasta, California.


Born and raised in Singapore, Danielle Tsi uses photography as a means to understand and experience other ways of looking at the world. With food as her muse, she stumbled into the magic that comes with uncovering the stories that lie beyond the delights of the plate. Translating that fascination into her award-winning blog earned her a nomination for Best Food Photography in Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog Awards. Her work has appeared in various media outlets including, The Kitchn, Design*Sponge, and Saveur. Danielle loves Ashtanga yoga, red wine, cooking for friends, espresso and winter’s soft light. She lives in Silicon Valley with her husband, cat and their vegetable garden.

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

There is no better time to grow your team than at the beginning

- - Agents, Working

Guest Post by Cybele Sandy, AUGUST

Defining your aesthetic requires many hours of self-examination, trial and practice. However, once you are somewhat (because it’s continually evolving) where you need to be, your thoughts should turn to the formation of your team, i.e., #squadgoals. The importance of team development as a photographer cannot be over-emphasized. Often, during the evaluation process, Creative and Photo Directors want to know that you and the circle of professionals around you “get it”.

Virtually every top-tier artist has one or more trusted assistants, a preferred wardrobe stylist, hairstylist, makeup artist, and manicurist, without whom he/she will not breach the portals of a set.

As the photographer, you are the general, and the battle plan’s basic structure is your sole province. However, it makes sense to develop a coterie of professionals who clearly understand the plan-of-action and possess the chops to execute it flawlessly. Not a bunch of yes-men, but confident experts who can tweak your thoughts and take them further than you’d originally envisioned. Schedules may sometimes clash, which means that you will sometimes need to substitute one or two members of your core group, but in my experience, artists who maintain a consistent team create consistently impactful imagery.

There is no better time to grow your team than at the beginning stages of your career.

As you gain in experience, a team will also be able to convey the appearance of a well-oiled, business-like machine, adding to your professionalism. Remember that your team is also a marketing tool: they will sing your praises to their clientele as well. I always say “you never know where the next job will come from,” so having 5-6 people constantly in touch makes for close relationships that play out in measurable dividends: actual jobs, recommendations, synergistic partnerships.

In essence, you’re looking for like-minded individuals who, like you, are on the hustle and willing to contribute their talent in exchange for tearsheets.

A good place to start whittling your team is via personal projects. Here I’d like to digress and state that personal projects are absolutely critical to career development: they hone the practical, technical skills and stretch the creative muscle, without the fetters of a Creative Director or nervous Editor hovering over you.

Stretch your net wide: register your interest with SVA or a school with a recognized photography program, which are virtual assembly lines of assistants with sound, basic skills who can grow with you. Many of the terrific beauty brands have apprenticeships/ training programs, and you can post with them for junior stylists. Try the old, faithful Craigslist. Put up a flyer in a trend epicenter: for New Yorkers, Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg or the byways of the Lower East Side are hotbeds of hungry, young artists. Ask if you can leave business cards at the buzzy local coffee shop. When you go to a gallery opening or any similar arts-driven event (here the need to be social again rears its complex head:)), ask those you meet for recommendations. It’ll serve as a wonderful icebreaker in terms of conversation, and the professionals you meet will have on-the-money recommendations.

Once you’ve gotten in touch with a few people who seem promising, work with them on at least three shoots. Ensure that they are distinct enough that the artists you’re auditioning get to show you a fair amount of range: good for-instances would be a series of close-up beauty shots, a fashion story on location and a lifestyle project that unfolds a story of some sort, frame by frame.

And remain aware: you’re not only analyzing expertise, you are auditioning people skills. Are they on-time? Do they need a minimum of resources to operate efficiently or will they fold if there are no sleek amenities? I will always remember the first season of Brooklyn Fashion Week{end}, the non-profit I co-founded. Everything that could go wrong did. Amongst many crises: the guy that we’d rented chairs from still hadn’t delivered at model call time. So our hairstyling/makeup team simply turned over boxes for their equipment and perched the girls on the few tables we had. No one told them to do it. They improvised because that is what professionals do when faced with a problem.

Carefully monitor the way they interact with people on set. Are they yelling to get their way? What about speed/efficiency? Did they get the models on set, beautifully done, with a minimum of time?

There should be a seamless quality to on-set interaction. I’ve always said that the best barometer that things are working is a quiet set. Your team should be so in tune with one another that no words will need to be said- the hairstylist will know when hair should be touched up. The makeup artist should know just where to hover to easily address that bit of shine. Your assistant should anticipate your next move so easily that you won’t even register that he’s already held up the fill card you need. Props should be organized and out of harm’s way if not in use.

A word on clothing stylists: I’ve found that the clothing stylist is often the lynchpin to a good shoot.

He or she, via the choices made, can really tell a story and contribute to the overall impact of the imagery. A good stylist isn’t just someone able to pull great clothes via solid relationships; it’s someone who can creatively utilize disparate elements to achieve an actual, defining look. You shouldn’t look back and say “You know, every model looked like a carbon copy of what the stylist wore that day.”

Most likely you’ll be taking care of production logistics on your own, initially, but as your brand develops, you will want to extend your team to include an organized, level-headed producer.

All this effort needs a showcase, right? In terms of venues, go to the bookstore and take note of all the publications that aren’t produced by major publishing houses. Smaller magazines often welcome spec submissions, just be aware that there is often no fee for this. And review the magazine’s well features to ensure that what you’ll be submitting is an aesthetic fit.

Lastly: get a strong database management system in place. There are many terrific options in this connected world, from workhorse Excel spreadsheets to apps like CircleBack, which will not only convert email signatures into actual contacts and scan business cards, it will also remind you to update older contact information.

No good getting that boss team together if you can’t recall how to get in touch.

And while we’re on the subject, keep in touch, even if you don’t have a current project to staff. Be sure to reach out periodically or better, touch base IRL, so your peeps stay your peeps.

I’m going to take this a bit further: tag this post with emerging stylists/ assistants who are showing promise but need a more weighty portfolio.

Who knows- this bit of networking may help further your own journey.

Guest Post by Cybele Sandy, AUGUST

(I proudly represent Art Streiber and have included, with his permission, images of him & his team on set.)






The Daily Edit – Brian Bielmann: The Eddie

- - The Daily Edit

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Surfing World

Editor and Photo Editor: Vaughan Blakey
Designer: Corbin Nash
Photographer: Brian Bielmann


Editor: Luke Kennedy
Art Director: Mat Macready
Photo Editor: Ben Bugden
Photographer: Brian Bielmann

Tow WAVES in Tahiti/2005

Tow WAVES in Tahiti/2005

Hands down one of my favorite underwater shots ever , picking thru my photos to put this web gallery together was really hard because a lot of my best shots got left behind and I realized how many of my favorite shots were Bruce and Andy

Hands down one of my favorite underwater shots ever, picking through my photos to put this web gallery together was really hard because a lot of my best shots got left behind and I realized how many of my favorite shots were Bruce and Andy


Andy Irons Underwater Portrait005


John John Florence in West Australia

John John Florence in West Australia





north shore winter 2014

North Shore Winter 2014

Surf photography has come a long way since you chased down your first big wave on a boogie board. Tell us about the changes and how it’s changed you. 
You were on your own out there. I had a canon all manual camera, which meant you actually had to set exposure yourself; more importantly you had to focus, and you had 36 photos on your roll of film.

I remember paddling out next to another photographer Denjiro Sato of Japan, we made it through the shore break and were almost out to the lineup when one of the surfers wiped out and his board came flying out of control right towards us and hit Sato. I can’t remember where, but he got cut by the surfers fins on his board. After that, Denjiro was done and had to paddle back in.

Think about it, after all the effort to get out and then BAM! you’re on your way back to the beach. I remember trying to make every shot count, but that roll of film went in about an hour. I had stayed to watch the rest of the event, mainly because we were terrified to have to get back in through the shore break. The whole time out there, you were just dreading knowing that you would have to get back through that, sometimes if you didn’t time it right, you would not make it in.

You see, the current would suck you down to the far left inside on the other side of the bay, to the rocks, known as “jump rock” because in the summer, when the surf is flat, everyone jumps off the rocks, but in the winter, it’s the spot you don’t want to get caught in. So you swim your ass off to get back out and as far away from that are as you can, so you would have to paddle back out to the lineup and start swimming in on the right side all over. It could take hours to get in, NIGHTMARE. Fast forward to today, you have jet skis to get you in the lineup, an all-automatic everything camera and it has 2000 photos, not to mention a ski ride back in straight to the beach. It’s actually awesome. Honestly, I would never go back out there if I had to do all that again. That said, compared to how we had it, now all those concerns are gone. The other big difference is all the technology, the limits are being pushed big time. If it was 10 years ago, the Eddie would never have run at this size. One of those closeout sets would have come through and taken everyone out: surfers, photographers, everyone back to the beach and they would have said too big, it’s over. But with the incredible Hawaiian Water Patrol with their skis, the surfers can push their limits. The surfers are the stars; so badass. the ski drivers the rescue team. I think it has to be the most dangerous contest in the sporting world. Just crazy.

Certainly you’ve been in some life threatening situations, now that you’re a seasoned pro, how are your choices different? What gives you pause?
Well, I’m 58 years old, at Pipeline there are about 30-40 photographers out there for each swell. Since there are not many magazines these days and very limited space for photos, it’s mostly the internet that showcases the work.  Most of those photographers careers will begin and end with instagram. I consider things differently now. How long do I want to be out there?how is it breaking? I look at the conditions and decide, if I’m going to swim my ass off through nine waves to shoot one. To me, that’s not worth it. I wait till the days when conditions are good, and the percentage rate is going to be worthwhile; only then I go. I end up looking like I’m out there all the time because I pick the best days! I’m not one of the top dogs out there anymore. There are guys who that’s all they do is shoot out there constantly; I pick the right days and get some gems and that’s good enough for me. Just never imagined at 58 I would still be swimming out at Pipe. It’s funny, there are very, very few guys still out there who were out there when I started, for the most part it’s all the young guns.

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Brain and Craig trying to out run the wall of water. Photo by Clark Little

Chasing down this wall of water was the biggest wave you’ve out-run, tell us about that day at “The Eddie.” 
Thank God I did not turn around to look at that wave, when I saw the picture I think I said a prayer right then thanking God for keeping me safe.  I was nervous the few days leading up to the event knowing I was going to be out on a ski; everyone was saying it might be too big to actually run the event. This meant if it went, it was going to be the biggest Eddie that had ever gone.

I had actually never been out in the water during clean up sets on a big swell before at Waimea Bay. A clean up set is when the waves close out across the entire Bay and there is literally no escape. I’d been out before when it was really big but never this big, so yeah I was nervous. The morning of the event as the sun came up, we could see a lot of closeouts, tensions were high amongst the competitors, jet drivers. It turned out that there were too many photographers that were supposed to be out there and not enough skis. (I actually contemplated taking myself out of the equation and shooting from the point.) The Director of the event, Glen Moncata said, “You shoot whatever you want, you don’t have to go out there.” I don’t know what it was; but something came over me and I ran for my truck, quickly put on my wetsuit, flotation vest, put my camera in my waterhousing, grabbed my fins and ran for the beach. The skis were being put in the water so I hustled down to the corner and waited for the lull with another photographer, Zak Noyle. As soon as there was a small break in the sets, we jumped in the water and swam quickly to the waiting jet ski, jumped on the boogie connected to the ski; as he hauled ass through the surf before we got caught by a set, we were out in no time, thank God.

Had you been with the driver before?
No first time with the driver, Craig Anderson, he goes by the instagram name of @MakahaCraiger. We probably met but never really talked before, but didn’t take long to bond. When you’re on a ski and you’re going over 20 footers, and they are the small ones, you realize instantly that the driver is the guy who is gonna save your life.  You get intimate very quick.  Hearing the water patrol on the beach, Mel Puu starts yelling on the radio to all the water patrol in the water, (8 skis probably, all on the same frequency), “There’s a closeout set, it’s big guys, get moving now! Get everyone out fast! This one is really big! Go! Go! Go!”

You go.

I had a strap on the back of the ski that had been ripped, so it was loosely tied and had a lot of play, kind of like the reins of a horse, so it was hard holding on with one hand and my other hand holding a big camera in a water housing.  We start heading for the horizon, and when we can see the sets, they are huge mountains of water moving at us and we start heading for the shoulder as fast as we can we are riding sideways on this beast waiting for a place on the wave that’s not already feathering. (this is when the wave is already breaking and there is already whitewater at the top of the wave and there is nowhere to get over as it’s really hard for the skis to get over the wave when there is whitewater at the top)  so we continue going full on as far as we can till we are on the far side of the bay, we can’t get over this thing.

” Hold on!” Craig yells, “We gotta ride it in!” We turn at the top of the wave and actually ride this thing all the way to the bottom going as fast as the ski will go. We’re bouncing like hell and Craig is yelling “Hold on! Don’t let go!” I’m holding tight with my arm on the strap, trying to hold on through the bumps and bouncing off the seat, I’ve got my legs as tight on the ski as I can, not even sure how long it took us to get in but I could hear the wave breaking right behind us like a waterfall.

We barely stayed in front of it, just a mountain of whitewater that could overtake us at any moment, about half-way in Craig yells to me, “You may have to jump!” I’m gonna do whatever he tells me, I pause for a second, yell back, “Just tell me when!”

I have no idea what this means, I’m just following orders and hope I survive.

I’m waiting for the word to jump and then a little farther in and he yells, “Wait! Hold On! I think we might make it!”

We literally get 30 feet from the beach and he swings the Ski around hard and we blast right thru a huge shore break wave, we barely make it through, I manage to hold on to the ski strap, but fall backwards off the seat; still holding the strap I manage to pull myself back up, just in time to go through a second one, and the exact same thing: Blast through, fall off but holding the strap and again pulled myself up, and we gun the damn thing side to side getting around the wave on either side, finally we are back outside and realize we made it.

We both start screaming. “We made it! Shit! we made it! AHHHHHHH!!!! Screaming at the top of our lungs, “that’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done my whole life!” I yell. He yells back,”Yes! That was definitely one of the craziest things I have ever done!”

I’m thinking: Wait, Craig’s a water patrol jet ski driver in Hawaii, and he’s a Hollywood stunt man and he’s says this was one of the craziest things he’s ever done. Shit. Thank you God!

We had around 20 more waves come through, almost as big as this and we had to run alongside of, but we were able to find an exit each time. I was out for 3 heats of surfers, almost 1/2 of the contest and we got a call that I had to come in, as there weren’t enough skis and I had to let another photographer have a turn. The jet ski brought me in and I was on the beach, I seriously wanted to kiss the shore.

There were thousands of people lined up as I walked back towards the stands and some of them started applauding me and whistling, one guy came up and took my photo with him.

It’s funny, I think they thought we were all fearless out there but we were not, we had plenty of fear, we just pushed through it and went out there. I got back through this sea of people and was under the shower when I heard the announcer say, look all the skis are coming in being chased by another huge wave, but this time they made sure they were farther in front of the wall of water, and they had no escape on the inside as we did on our wave.

They had to ride the skis right up on to the beach. I looked out and saw how big the sets were and I immediately thought, “What the hell was I doing out there?” and my next thought was “I’m so happy they told me to come in 5 minutes before that set, I did not want to go through that again.”

It was time to finish shooting the second half of the contest from the point.  The nice safe point, the closest spot to the waves you could get, and not a drop of water on me.

How does a surf shot land on L’Uomo Vogue?
Yes , I’ve got a photo on the cover of L’Uomo Vogue magazine right next to Bruce Weber. It’s a shot of John John Florence from a ski in the water during the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Contest. I’m so stoked! Bruce has been my hero for years as far as a fashion photographer goes, my favorite; and Herbie Fletcher has some shots in there, Dibi Fletcher wrote the story. It’s about The Best Surfer in the World!  doesn’t get any better than that for me. I think I can claim to be the only surf photographer with a shot on the cover of Vogue, it’s a shared cover with Bruce and that’s what makes it awesome! I was on the phone with him while I was shooting the shore break and when I hung up I was so excited to tell everyone, “I was just on the phone with Bruce Weber!” none of the surf photographers knew who he is, luckily Buzzy Kerbox was there, and he is good friends with Bruce. Bruce started Buzzy’s career back in the 80s with his Ralph Lauren Campaign.


The Daily Promo – Lisa Shin

- - Working

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Lisa Shin

Who printed it?
Agency Access printed, inserted, sealed and mailed the entire project with considerable customer service.

Who designed it?
The talented Mr. Christopher Lee. Check him out!

Who edited the images?
I did with the feedback of my fabulous agency, Anderson Hopkins.

How many did you make?
2000 were printed and mailed, 200 held for leave behinds.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is the first print promo we have done in a while. We aim to send out 3 more mailers by the end of the year.

Who did you decide who to send the promo to?
Our mailing list is comprised of advertising agencies nationally and local editorial. My agency worked to understand who the best audience was given our total numbers. We hope to expand the list in future mailings.

This Week In Photography Books: Haley Morris-Cafiero

by Jonathan Blaustein

I used to be overweight as a kid.

Not always, but often. I would gain and lose weight, in phases, but I never had a perfect body.

I still don’t.

Hell, at my wedding, I must have weighed 20 pounds more than I do now, courtesy of Tony’s Pizza in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Sample conversation:


“Hi, I’d like to order a large grandpa pizza for delivery please.”

“No prahlem.”

Do that every Friday for six months, and you too can pack on the pounds. The aftermath might not be pretty, but damn, that shit tastes good.

All kidding aside, any discussion of the concurrent obesity and diabetes epidemics in the United States is likely to be fraught. It almost perfectly pits the personal against the societal, and that’s not a battle that can be won.

In one corner, we have identity politics and issues around body shaming. Who are you to tell me how I should look? Or to judge me because of how much I weigh? It’s discrimination, it’s wrong, and you are an asshole for even thinking that my body is your business.

In the opposite corner, we have a genuine public health crisis, with millions of people eating themselves into disease. Why that happens is related to poverty, culture, access to healthy food, cooking knowledge, government subsidies for corn production, and the insidious advertising and food science efforts put forth by large multinational corporations peddling crap food.

Like I said, this issue is a field of quicksand suspended above a Florida-sink-hole. (Good intentions get sucked down faster than a shrimp-head at a Louisiana crawfish boil.)

Enter Art into the discussion, a notoriously subjective product that revels in ambiguity, and you’re guaranteed to draw some attention. And so it has been, for three projects I’ve noticed over the last few years.

Jen Davis, and then Samantha Geballe, have both photographed their large bodies in a self-portraiture format. Ms. Davis, whose work I saw at the Library of Congress, and wrote about, uses color. Samantha, whom I met at the Medium Festival a couple of years ago, and also wrote about, prefers black and white.

They both made striking, uncomfortable, compelling images of their own bodies. They stood in for the masses with weight issues and said, “Here I am. Look! Don’t avert your gaze. I am worthy of your attention, every bit as much as a skinny model with vapid eyes!”

Both artists subsequently underwent gastro-bypass surgery. (How’s that for ambiguity?)

I’m not sure about Ms. Davis, but Samantha has also documented her new body, and the vestiges of her old one. The pictures are great, and will be on display at the Houston Center of Photography from May 13-June 10.

Really striking stuff.

There is one other artist I know of working with these themes: Haley Morris-Cafiero. I heard about her project, “Weight Watchers,” but as sometimes happens, I knew of it, saw tweets about it, but never caught the pictures themselves, beyond a social media thumbnail. (The iconic pic of her walking on the beach.)

A few weeks ago, a respected colleague wrote to see if Ms. Morris-Cafiero could send me a book for a potential review.

I said sure, as I always do, with the caveat that I never know what I’ll review until I pick it up. This one, most definitely, is worth discussing here.

So let’s get on with it.

“The Watchers,” published by the Magenta Foundation, is a book that grabs you from the cover, quite literally. There are words embossed into the white rubber/plastic coating, and red text leaps off in the other direction. The words seem to come from comments about the project, and are a little incendiary.

(Sample: “You are courageous. You rule. Fuck everyone.”)

The overall design is excellent, as the red text on white returns again and again, as Internet comments are juxtaposed against each other. Negative trolls on the left hand side, positive supporters on the right. According to this format, this artist seems to summon wrath and kindness in equal measure.

But what does she do? What is her take on this very tricky subject?

Well, near as I can tell, she walks or stands around, while an assistant waits to snap the shutter the second someone looks askance at Ms. Morris-Cafiero.

Really, that’s the gist of it.

Ms. Morris-Cafiero, who is overweight, stands around by the side of a walkway, or in Times Square, or under the Eiffel Tower, and the camera-person captures people who look at her.

The obvious message is that people are put off by her body, which is often visible, as she wears bathing suits or workout clothes. The picture quality is good-but-not-amazing, as it seems as if these were snapped with a compact point and shoot camera, or maybe a digital SLR?

Things like light quality, color palette, and formal compositions are understated, I gather, to enhance the feeling of reality as it happens. But by gutting the efforts of technique, it puts a lot of pressure on content.

This is obviously a very smart idea, but I’m not sure it stands up to deeper scrutiny. There are several images in which passersby shoot Ms. Morris-Cafiero some serious shade; pictures in which you can tell that random strangers are being rude.

A few, yes.

But there are other images in which the strangers’ intentions are much less clear. A sideways glance is not an indictment of someone else’s character.

Furthermore, in many of the set-ups, Ms. Morris-Cafiero adopts very noticeable body positions. Her feet are splayed, or she looks confused, or dazed. Then there are the pictures in which she is holding a map, and looking confused, which will certainly draw the attention of many a person walking down a city street.

Despite the fact that I’ve already admitted this is a complicated subject, I’ll openly state that people who body-shame, or mad-dog someone else just because of how much they weigh?

Those people are dickheads.

I said it.

But just because it happens to Haley Morris-Cafiero does not mean that I have to love her art project. Especially as I’ve seen, and written about, other projects that deal better in nuance.

This feels more like a Jackass outtake, to me. It’s clever, original, and clearly means well. I get the ideas it wants me to get. So it’s successful in that regard.

Maybe it’s even intentional? A viral-esque style for a project that was always going to go viral?

But it also feels like it’s taking advantage of some of the strangers, judging them the way Ms. Morris-Cafiero feels judged. I was inclined to like this project, but came away feeling unsure.

Or maybe it’s just that by making it a book, she included images that don’t support her message? Too many pictures made me think: “That’s not a dirty look. That’s just someone turning his/her head.”

What this book did is put me in an uncomfortable place, and I think that’s a big part of its allure. (Structural metaphor, anyone?) Do anything other than lavish praise, and I set myself up to be accused of being disrespectful, or biased. As I’ve written at length about so many difficult issues over the years, I’m clearly not afraid to offend.

So let me end thusly: This is a very interesting, edgy book, that draws attention to a murky, difficult subject. I think this artist has done something smart, if flawed, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.

Bottom Line: Edgy, well-designed, but imperfect book

To Purchase “The Watchers” Visit Photo-Eye





















The Art of the Personal Project: Hollis Bennett

- - 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 Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Hollis Bennett


























How long have you been shooting?
For myself, about 5 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I went to photo school but the only thing it taught me was that school can’t teach you real world experience.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I’ve always been a fisherman and love all aspects of it and I have been working on building a body of work around Fly Fishing around the world because honestly, it’s one hell of a way to get outside, travel the world and have a damn blast while making solid images.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
Well, this specific body of work that you see here was just completed in the last month as I was in New Zealand working on these images. Overall, I have been shooting fly fishing for about 3 years now.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
That’s a tough one – some projects are much more self-evident and reveal their failures (or success) quite quickly, and others take a bit more digging to find out. I give all my projects at least 2 or 3 attempts, but if it’s not working past that, I move on. It can be tough to stay focused at times too – I’m like a cat chasing a laser pointer at times…

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
Is it different? I don’t think it should be. Sure, you might be able to take liberties with your ‘personal work’ but in the end, it should all matter and fit in your portfolio somewhere.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I am a huge Instagram whore. I love the immediacy of it and I (try) to treat it as a rolling, evolving portfolio. I think that it’s great to be able to post something to the masses and add a bit of humor/insight/intrigue to the images via the captions.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
I’ve had images picked up by brands interested in what I’m doing and it has led to some success for sure.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Of course. I can’t think of a time when I haven’t used at least one image from a personal shoot on a promo. I don’t always call it out as such, but again, this goes to ‘brand’ consistency with my work. I want to show people that you are hiring me for a certain look, and a certain aesthetic and that will come across no matter the image or project.


Hollis Bennett is an award winning photographer based in Nashville Tennessee. Originally from Tennessee, he has lived on 3 coasts (E, W, and Alaska) in the largest cities to the smallest remote communities.

He specializes in real people doing real things. His style carries over from editorial to advertising and back again, and he loves to tell stories, in any manner possible.

A life lived out of doors fishing, hunting, traveling and exploring allows him to relate to these situations and see them from the perspective of someone who has been there and experienced it first hand.

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

The Daily Edit – Brinson+Banks

- - The Daily Edit















Smithsonian Magazine
Photography Director: Molly Roberts

Variety Magazine
Director of Photography: Bailey Franklin

The Washington Post
Features Photo Editor: Nicole Crowder

The New York Times
Photo Editor: Jolie Ruben/Arts & Leisure

The New York Times
Photo Editor/ Styles Department: Eve Lyons

I know you met in photo journalism class in college. Fast forward to today. Married, photo duo and shooting celebrities. Tell us how this unfolded.
We started off at small newspapers learning the ropes living nine hours apart when we first began dating. Those were really our training grounds where we got a sense of who we were as photographers while learning to shoot and handle literally everything in the book. At this point the newspaper industry was undergoing mass layoffs, and rather than become another statistic we jumped ship to pursue a documentary freelance career, based in Atlanta, GA. We founded and ran a photographic cooperative for 5 years with 4 other photographers, garnering journalistic assignments from outlets like TIME, Mother Jones, Sports Illustrated, FADER, and Rolling Stone to name a few.

By this point we were married home-owners in Atlanta living a pretty comfortable life. So, about a little over two years ago, we decided to turn all that on its proverbial head, start a new company doing something completely different, and we relocated across the entire country to Los Angeles. We threw caution to the wind, loaded up our two dogs, two cats, and road tripped towards our new lives. And while it was a terrifying first year, we couldn’t be happier that we left what was comfortable to follow new dreams.

When we decided to form Brinson+Banks as a new photographic entity to pursue lifestyle advertising we may have been starting over, but not from scratch. We already knew how to market, act professional with a client, and the importance of things like personal work and even sheer drive. So as we set-up meetings with ad agencies in our new home, we also completely revamped and created our new portfolio, creating a new vision as a team. The documentary work we still hold so dear fed the way we approach our lifestyle work. The new style we created together also translated into our portrait work, pushing the limits of the foundation we built for years telling stories through portraits of everyday people for places like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. This new style, and our long history of musician portraiture made us a perfect fit for celebrity work. Our journalistic background and the relationship we built with the New York Times, mixed with our new aesthetic, presented us with our first celebrity portraiture assignment. From there, it is just a matter of capitalizing on every single shoot of this nature to prove that we are the person (or persons) that can be creative, fast, reliable, and the type of photographer/director that can work with talent of this magnitude. Even without time or a budget backing us up, which has often been the case as we started down this new path.

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With all the celebrity management does one of you handle the team while the other is focused on creative need be?
As two creatives of equal skill and a shared mindset, we have a unique flexibility on set. We approach each shoot differently depending on the players, expectations, and space involved. In some cases, one of us will shoot one scene while the other pays more attention directing and loosening up the subject, and then we trade for the next set up. Sometimes one of us shoots while the other is adjusting lights, fine-tuning the next shot, or even handling the publicist, client or others on set. In many cases we split these duties, and both shoot from different angles as long as it does not feel intimidating to the subject. More often than not, we reverse these roles from one setup to the next, or even trade the camera off when one of us has an idea the other may not have covered off on.

Are you able to turn off your photographic minds and conversation when you’re not working?
HA! We wish, but should remain grateful that we have such an amazing job that we don’t want to turn it off. But yes, when you spend the whole day talking creative concepts, budget, marketing, etc., it’s hard to turn it off at the end of the day, especially when a self-employed commercial/editorial photographer is basically on call 24/7. As newbies to the West Coast of only a couple years, we solve this dilemma by loading up our VW camper van with our dogs and escaping to explore the beaches, deserts, mountains and forests our new home has to offer. It seems to be the best way for us to turn off our work minds and be inspired in another way. That said, we still shoot photos the whole time, and definitely had a creative conference call today for an ad shoot while sitting in the front seat of the van looking at the Pacific. So I guess we will let you know when we find that magic off-switch, but to be completely honest, we met each other in a photojournalism class and that’s where the first sparks flew. At risk of sounding completely cheesy, we fell in love with each other’s photos before we became a couple so photography has always been intertwined in our relationship.

Do you both shoot for each project? 
YES. I won’t say we are competitive with one another, but let’s assume that’s a lie by omission. We both do this because it is our passion, and love few things more than creating a new image. We have learned to check our ego at the door over who is pushing the button since the final image belongs to us both, but we still have to each shoot to fill our creative soul. Really it’s more than that though. We have created a shared vision, but we are both still integral to that, and while our images may compliment each other very well, we still each add distinctive views to the project. So whether we are shooting tethered in a lit studio passing the camera back and forth, or shooting in tandem in natural light, we find it important to both contribute.

Are you realizing you turn in twice as much good work?
We are noticing that we have an ability to produce more work at an intense pace that is hard to maintain alone. We have also noticed that clients with a specific shot list end up with a library and want to license more images. But for us, it is more than just a higher quantity. The most value we see added is in the currency of ideas. One of us may have a concept that seems great, but just doesn’t feel right until the other adds their two cents. We shot an image of Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny that we really liked recently. David set up lights, transforming a beige hotel room and hallway into blues and greens, and it felt completely wrong until Kendrick suggested reversing the gelled colors, and suddenly that small difference in opinion made it all come together. Not to mention that we all have off days and these super quick celebrity shoots bring a certain new level of pressure because of time and status, and it is amazing to have someone to lean on, to BE on when you are not.

I’d imagine there is some complementary /contrast between you two. What is each of your strengths and why?
Totally. We share so many taste preferences that our images work seamlessly together, but we are also hyper-focused on very different things. We share a love for natural light, but David is more obsessed with artificial lighting, and things lining up with technical precision. Kendrick is more about the moment and a sense of looseness, which is a perfect balance. David is a bit more serious in his direction of subjects while Kendrick is more adept at building a humorous repertoire throughout the shoot. The strange part about these differences is that despite who shot the image or what approach was taken, we agree on the editing floor nine times out of ten. And another funny note, editors rarely know who took what photo, but often when more than one photo is published for a story, we will both have an image in print for each story.

What are the best aspects of shooting as a team?
While it may be hard to turn work off, we feel lucky to shoot as a team for one reason first and foremost. On top of being a team in business and art, we are in a devoted relationship, and feel so lucky to share this amazing photographic life with the person we love most in the world. So many couples spend but minutes a day together, so we look at what we have as a gift.

As I mentioned before, it is amazing as an artist to let go of your ego enough to create something and collaborate with another artist. We get to do this all the time. And while we are both equally competent photographers in our own right, and even split up to shoot on the same job occasionally, it is incredible to have someone there who can look at your idea, your direction, your shot, and make it even better. Part of it is also just easy logic, too – what client wouldn’t be happy to have the photographer’s first assistant be as good as they are, and shooting at the same time. I fully believe it would be more common if it were not for the facts that you must check your ego at the door, split a paycheck, and share a creative mind and common goals to a freakish degree.

Best advice for any photo duo?
Yes, and that would be to really be honest with yourselves and each other about this endeavor. In many senses you are trying to become one, and you need to make sure your drive, beliefs, goals, and intentions line up, and not just your aesthetic. This is a long term relationship you are entering and should be treated as such. And if you are a couple, you need to ask yourself if your relationship can handle the amount of time and additional stress you are about to spend together, and if you can keep the perspective that you as a couple is more important than you as a business.

For the second concept on our shoot with Bill Hader and Fred Armisen for Smithsonian, we had the props and space to shoot, but it would be nothing without the emotion. We had already built a rapport with our subjects for the cover shot, and the tension was gone by our second setup. Instead of directing, we just placed Hader and Armisen and left them to their own devices. They started an improv dialogue going back and forth impersonating Obama talking about his LA shopping trip at The Grove, a popular outdoor mall. As we laughed behind the camera, they gave us real laughter that spoke to their comedic triumphs without the need for either to hold a rubber chicken.

How much time did you have for the Contender’s shoot with Variety with the subjects?
A couple minutes per subject for the most part, and even less in some instances. We have had celebrity shoots with easy time tables, but this one was all about preparation, and a head-first dive into connecting with subjects. We shot 48 subjects in all that day, so there was not a lot of time or margin for error. To prepare for the shoot we brainstormed, and even setup a light test at our home the week before the shoot. This gave us the ability to secure the additional grip and gear we needed for our concept ahead of time, and walk in relatively confident. We still arrived hours early to transform a hotel suite into our studio and fine-tune our concept. Once the subject arrives it is all about feeling out their energy, personality, and quickly reacting in a way that they will respond to.

How did the set(s) work? Did you both shoot different set ups?
For that particular shoot, we just had space for one setup, so we traded off shooting per subject. This was actually kind of vital though as we had a constant stream of subjects, sometimes in line outside our V-flats. So not only did we have to stay on point, building a new dialogue every few minutes, but we were shooting handheld with a digital medium format camera and a ring flash which is a surprisingly heavy rig. For this shoot, trading off helped us each stay in peak form for the duration. Because of the limited space we could only do one setup, but knew we needed three for one specific subject (singer Sam Smith). So we solved that by using the V-Flats we had to block light as a black backdrop, utilizing the natural light form the curtain behind our main setup. For the third, we added a little color gelled flare magic sparkle dust to the black backdrop – a Brinson+Banks trade secret ;-)

What’s the biggest difference for you in shooting news journalism vs. commercial magazines? How different is your creative approach, if at all?
The approach is different in that now we are expected to control the situation, and make the image instead of assess the situation and take the image. It’s really all the same – we are still looking for the same light, color, and emotion as we were before, but just with a different directive. It is a different world working with a publicist, and a crew, and a sharp time table as opposed to photographing a chicken catcher in rural Alabama or a political campaign trail, but all the same general principles and sensibilities apply. We are still just trying to connect, feel, and create.

That being said, it does take getting used to to have someone over your shoulder looking at your photos as you take them. There’s a looseness where everything is up to you on where you point your camera and what lens you use and who you focus on in a documentary shoot that can feel amazing versus the truly collaborative feel of a commercial or portrait shoot–the personality is as important as the photography, as are the creative ideas beforehand.

How was living in LA shaped your personal work?
We both grew up in the South so that became our visual language–greens and giant trees and a certain kind of light. Los Angeles has greatly re-shaped our personal work and personal lives and just being in such a diverse new landscape really inspired us right when we arrived. The light is different, the plants are different, being in a new place can really put an extra pep in your photographic step (that’s why traveling can be so fun). But beyond living in a huge city, LA has been the gateway to the West Coast and the deserts, beaches, mountains and vast in-between it has to offer. We take our rare free time to load up our dogs into our VW van and to camp and hike and just generally wander and that has been the fuel that has fed us creatively and given us new perspective, and a much-needed reprieve from our work hive-mind. Just to catalogue our own lives, we created our Instagram hashtag #westcoastexplorersclub to remind us of the importance to always lead a life well lived while we build our career (even if we’re still doing client calls from inside the van).

Conan O'Brien poses for a portrait on the set of his television show Conan in Burbank, California February 9, 2016. Photo Credit: Brinson+Banks

How did the Conan O’Brien shoot unfold as a favorite?
Our shoot with Conan O’Brien was our favorite in a long while, which is saying a lot because there’s some steep competition. We got to play on his set and have fun with it. Conan ended up interviewing us about how we met after he noticed and mentioned our chemistry on set. It doesn’t hurt that two of the three of us were redheads, which doesn’t happen often so Kendrick and Conan got to talk about their ” gingervitis.”

Our shot list with O’Brien included one shot on his mark where he delivers his monologue and one in his dressing room. As it goes with so many well-laid plans we got to the Burbank studio and the mark shot felt boring, and his dressing room was too busy to make the dramatic image we envisioned. Fortunately for us, we started the day by making friendly with everyone we met, and were given a tour around to see other options. We came across a mirror standing alone backstage with the quintessential vanity mirror lights where Conan quietly reflects before he goes on stage, and we instantly knew it was our new spot.

We also found another space to the side of the stage that we liked simply because of the color and shapes it offered. As we setup our lights, we made friends with the director of stage lighting who kindly supplemented our strobes with continuous lighting used for the show. It was also this new friend who helped us flood the stage wall with blue light with Conan reflected in the warm light of the off-stage mirror through an open door. Despite the fact it wasn’t used in print, it was still one of our favorites, and wouldn’t have come about without the new relationship we made.

And as a side note, while David was shooting that setup, Kendrick was directing Conan from backstage, and told him to turn around and repeat a move in the mirror and said it should be his new signature move, to which he replied, “No, that’s David’s signature move. We call it The David.”


Tell us how you ended up on Conan O’Brien’s set, I thought you were the photographers?
Before the shoot, Kendrick said out loud that she wanted something fun like Conan standing on his desk, but we held back because we were told not to ask for goofiness. What we did instead was build a rapport with our subject while standing at his mark, and then open the door to him for something more collaborative. And what does he do but offer to pose as the thinking man on his desk. So we got our funny photo after all because we connected with our subject – that and the universe smiled on us.

Then to take the cake at the end of the shoot, rather than take a bad selfie, Conan offered us a seat on stage for a faux interview and a memory that really made our day. And then of course, we ended the day with a group hug – seriously though, we did.

The Daily Promo: Kevin Brusie

- - The Daily Promo

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Kevin Brusie


Who printed it?
It is being printed by Blurb, using their ‘Magazine’ format. 81/2”x11”, perfect bound, with some surprisingly nice stock. We were quite impressed.

Who designed it?
The {current year} Annual Report – which by definition never becomes obsolete – was designed by a long time collaborator and friend, designer Travis Goulder. I have had this concept in my head for quite a few years, and never was able to bring it to fruition. I knew I needed a talented and patient, designer to pull it together. So the summer of 2015 found Travis ‘under-employed’, so he graciously volunteered to help out. We finally wrapped up in December. His contributions really defined the style and refined my direction. This would not have been as successful without his vision. His extensive corporate experience brought sophistication and authenticity to the book, It also enabled the 4 pages of totally meaningless graphs, charts, and “financial” graphics, filled with small smile provoking visuals. And, believe it or not – not a single photograph!

Who edited the images?
The initial images were selected by me and my studio manager, Heather Noonan-Kelly. We assembled folders of files based on categories of the book: assignment types; personal work; pro bono and let Travis have at it. I really let go of control, which any photographer will tell you can be difficult, and let the design drive the image selection.  We had a few meetings where the three of us would toss around ideas for this or that spread and somewhat democratically decided on the major image choices, like cover and big chapter spreads. I know I was overruled by vote more than once.

We finalized the design, and then printed just two copies to ponder for a few days as proofs. We changed a few images up, at that point, mostly due to gutter placement or bleed through from paper opacity issues. Then the next version was our final.

How many did you make?
I wanted this promo to be more than just another photographer’s promo. I know buyers get inundated with them. The beauty of Blurb is ‘print on demand’.  We have been printing them in batches of 12 or so. Then we mail them out to selected high value prospects, or current clients. We want to be able to follow up closely with every recipient. So we are probably around 100 printed so far but we will keep this campaign going all year. The on demand printing makes it easy to manage the budget too. You don’t have thousands of dollars worth of print pieces sitting in a corner in boxes.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I have been a professional commercial photographer since 1990. I have probably created 5 serious print promos in those 26 years. Yeah. 5. I know, that’s pretty low; so when I do something, I really try to make it memorable and unique. I am not a fan of big number mass mailings. I don’t want to waste the time of buyers looking at cards or emails that just don’t matter. I do my research, look at the work I see that I really respect, and then share my best stuff with them. This Annual Report seems like a perfect way to do that. Our hope is the book is just too nice and entertaining to toss in the bin. One twist we did, we have a page right at the end called “5W” “Who We Want to Work With” – for most books we have three small “2×2” boxes with photos of some comical version of an ideal client, but the last box is a silver mylar film, serving as a mirror, with the copy “You, silly.”  For more personalized prospects, we acquire a photo from social media of our prospect, and drop that into the box. We add a custom message about this person, and then just print one copy at Blurb. We have gotten a couple of nice meetings out of that approach.

What type of reaction have you gotten from your clients?
So far, recipients seem to love it. It is dense enough that it needs to be digested. We packed it full of copy – which is different for a photo promo – that was mostly, for better or worse, written by me. Travis surprised me with some funny copy blocks placed about that I never would have thought of…

I see you’ve added some levity to the promo by poking fun of the annual report genre, how was that received?
I have been shooting, in both still & video, Annual Reports for years. It’s all so serious. Convincing the shareholders all is well with the world and management is thoughtful and contemplative. Clients are grateful and successful. I know the designers of these projects are bright, funny, creative people. I am sure when they are three glasses of vino into a Friday night, they just think of all sorts of crazy stuff they wish they could really do (I guess I do too. ) So why not make it happen for MY own Annual Report? Here’s an excerpt from an email I received from one client in late December:
This is to notify you that your recent so-called Annual Report does not conform to Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) regulations. It is not clearly associated with a defined accounting year, lacks elementary mathematical consistency, and seems to be irresponsibly flippant about the whole business of accounting. We are deeply hurt and plan to publish a photographic compilation using our best cell phone work in retaliation…..Great piece, Kevin. Hope we can work together in the new year.”

That’s exactly the response I hoped for. I have a motto in my work – “If we’re not having fun, then why do it?” Why not show that in my promo? I worked for 12 years in banking in NYC, pre 1990.  I know how to be professional. I can hold my own with the exec’s…I left that world to pursue my passion, having a shitload of fun in the process.

How did this idea come about?
MANY years ago (mid 1990s?) I saw a paper company sample, which was a beautiful Annual Report for a fictitious company, named something like “Clown, Inc.” It was shot, written, designed, like the best of the Annual Reports of the time but every photo of an executive or employee was a clown. In suits, around the board room table, with white makeup, red noses, floppy shoes, walking off the corporate jet, every stereotype Annual Report photo was recreated with finely dressed clowns. It was brilliant. That stuck in my head, and I knew I needed to have some fun with the genre.

This Week In Photography Books: Maud Sulter

by Jonathan Blaustein

I have a lot of opinions.

As I make my living as a columnist, (along with many other jobs,) it helps to have strong convictions. I share them each week, to entertain you, but also to discuss important ideas in digestible bits.

Occasionally, when you throw your opinions out there into the digi-sphere, you’re going to be wrong. Sometimes, spectacularly so.

C’est la vie.

In this case, I thought it best to admit my mistake. (Man up, if you will.) Better to face the error than to pretend it didn’t happen.


About a month ago, in the immediate aftermath of the Iowa Caucuses, I declared the death of the Donald Trump phenomenon. Marco Rubio was on the ascendancy, so I thought, and Mr. Trump’s high polling numbers would vanish, like indigestion after a nice constitutional.

The day after my article was published, Marco Rubio went off the rails in a debate, outing himself as a robot, (or maybe just a cyborg,) and the rest, as they say, is history.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve made fun of Donal Trump in this column. Some of my best one-liners have come at his expense.

But I’m not laughing anymore.

Though I rarely stick my neck into the morass of American politics, today, I’ll make an exception. I turned 42 a couple of weeks ago, and I can’t ever remember this particular feeling before: despair mixed with fear and a touch of embarrassment.

The fact that we’re witnessing a major party candidate courting votes from the Ku Klux Klan seems more surreal than the Dali painting I dreamed about last night. How could such a thing happen in 2016? What does that say about America, that so many white people have lined up on one side, glad to be unaffiliated with the rest of the races that make up this country.

It’s just. So. Wrong.

I’m aware that Mr. Trump’s chances of becoming President are small, but any chance > 0 is scary. France can have Marine Le Pen, and England the UKIP assholes, but seeing a large chunk of America embrace racism to this degree has taken me by surprise.

Yes, I was wrong to dismiss Donald Trump. He’s a narcissist, and will never hear the voice of reason. Said voice could be blasted into his ears by the world’s biggest BOSE bluetooth speaker, and still he’d only hear his inner monologue. (As he said this week, his most trusted advisor is himself.)

Part of what’s so crazy, to me, is the difference between his spoken and written words. I heard Mr. Trump say, on a video clip, that his followers need to be “gentle” with the protestors. In a transcript, he’s disavowing violence.

But his voice dripped with sarcasm. His tone and inflection screamed, “Kick the shit out of those hippies and blacks. They deserve it!”

And the violence has begun in earnest. We have the sucker-punch heard round the world, the Chicago protests, and now, Mr. Trump is actually “predicting” riots if they try to take the nomination away from him at the Republican convention. Millions of his followers will take to the streets, he assures us.

What is that, if not the extortion of a nation, by a budding strongman. Nasty business, this.


The reality is that even though 2016 feels modern and futuristic, and gay people can get married in the United States, our history of violence and theft still lingers.

We stole people from their homes, entire cultures from their homelands, and our homeland from its original occupants.

Wishing away the vestiges of Colonialism simply won’t work.

Sadly, I’m in mind of such things, having just put down a lovely newspaper/exhibition catalogue, “Syrcas,” featuring work by Maud Sulter, recently published by Autograph ABP in London.

This little volume turned up in the mail recently, as last summer I’d met with Karin Bareman, one of their curatorial staff, and she thought I might like it. Fortunately for us, she was right.

We’re constantly hearing about the dearth of non-white voices in the Photo community, and these pictures are proof positive that a diversity of talented perspectives is vital. These images are cool as hell.

This project, which is on display at Autograph ABP until April 2nd, mashes up totemic African iconography with pastoral, entitled European art vernacular. Though they were made in the early 90’s, by the Scottish/Ghanaian artist, these photos feel totally relevant and current.

Mashups are a part of the global cultural lexicon now, as are digital compilations. Appropriation maintains its fascination as well. It’s all here for us, should we care to look.

These pictures carry a tension that I really love, and I wish I could see them in person. The African masks and symbols are proudly laid “on top” of generic mountain scenes and fancy ladies.


You will see me, they say. You will acknowledge my heritage. You will accept that we, and our history, are a part of your culture!

Whether we’ve discussed the tragic lot of poor, migrant communities on the outskirts of European mega-cities, or the lack of non-white faces at portfolio reviews, here at APE, we do our best to speak important truths. (Even though I am an entitled white guy myself.)

I didn’t write about a book today. Instead it’s a slim catalogue on newsprint. (But at least it has pictures.) And no, I don’t think my little diatribe will have any impact on the outcome of America’s Presidential election. (Unlike Mr. Trump, I harbor no delusions of grandeur.)

But I do get to show you cool things, when they pop up in my mailbox. That’s what this column is about. If you live in England, go see this show, and then tell me all about it. If you’re curious to learn more, fire up your Google and see what else is out there.

Bottom Line: Super-cool exhibition catalogue of a show I wish I could see

To Purchase “Syrcas” Go Here