The Daily Edit – TIME: Hugh Kretschmer

TIME

Creative Director: DW Pine
Photographer: Hugh Kretschmer

Heidi: How did the idea for Plastic Waves come about?
Hugh: I had been working on a personal environmental project around water using recycled, repurposed, or rejected plastic sculpted into water effects. I would take the sculptures to specific locations and photograph them in the right light.After about a year, I saw a Robert Longo charcoal drawing at a gallery here in LA, and that was when the idea for Plastic “Waves” hit me. The artwork was from his Epic Wave series, and his masterful rendering of texture made me think of plastic garbage bags. Although a completely different interpretation, this one image out of the series is closest to one of Longo’s waves. It’s the one I saw in the gallery that day. Since then, I’ve shifted away from that first project, titled Mirage, and solely working on the Plastic “Waves” series.

Where did you photograph the sculpture? ( it looks like the wave is built in two pieces)
It was during the early days of the pandemic when every public outdoor space was off-limits, and the beach where I photographed the first one was on that list. So, I had to hike the sculpture and gear up to a fire road near where I live in the Santa Monica Mountains. It’s a remote trail that was closed, but I set up behind a bend at the foot of the trailhead, out of view. Yes, this sculpture was designed in two parts. I wanted to force depth in the image and frame the smaller section in the foreground and close to the lens. It gives the perspective that feels as if you’re swimming in the ocean, watching the wave go by.

What did you use for the waves and the wave’s foam and spray?
The process starts with chipboard as the base that defines the overall shape. Then repurposed pillow batting is applied to the surface, giving the sculpture visual volume. On top of that, I lay an aluminum screen over the entire area that is visible to the camera. The screen provides tooth for the next application, paper pulp made from old newspapers combined with a binder. Once it dries, I laminate black plastic garbage bags to the surface using a spray mount and a hairdryer.

The last step is the most time-consuming: recreating the foam and spray. It’s critical because that is where the eye goes first; the details must be as realistic as possible. That area is made from a translucent garbage bag of different thicknesses, each serving a particular purpose. The foam is loosely crumpled from a thicker plastic to hold its shape, while the spray is made from a thinner version. The spray is where most of my time is spent. I make hundreds of little pompoms that I hot glue to the surface and add hundreds of longer ones that I speckle throughout. During capture, I use a neutral density filter, small aperture, long shutter speed, and an electric leaf blower that gives off the illusion of motion to the spray.

How much testing did you do with the plastic bags?
I didn’t test the plastic bags so much as learn how to turn a 2D artwork into a 3D sculpture. The first wave I attempted resulted in four iterations before I could get it right. That means starting over from scratch each time. I’ve gotten a lot better at controlling the issues by altering the techniques I use and having a complete understanding of what types of bags work best for each area of the sculpture I’m working on. Ultimately, it is all about the light and reflection and how it interacts with the particular garbage bags. I’ve been at this for a while and now design the waves in a specific way depending on the light at any given point in the year. The wave’s design has to be oriented to the right for summer projects, while the winter months require it to face the opposite direction.

What was most challenging about the build for the cover image and the wave image?
Creative Director DW Pines selected a photo from 2020, and I didn’t explicitly create it for the cover. He had already designed the cover with my image and sent it to me with his initial inquiry. But he asked about creating a shot in the week we had, but I told him they can take weeks, sometimes months, to make, and there wasn’t enough time. And time is the most challenging aspect of this work. The process has a mind of its own and is unpredictable, and is due to the materials I use not bending the way I want. However, I’ve changed the techniques to work around those issues. The capture phase of the project is also a challenge because I usually end up photographing the sculpture four or five times before I feel it’s right. Until the sculpture is ready to be photographed, I haven’t seen the sculpture in the intended lighting, and that’s when all the flaws and issues appear. So, I’ll bring it back to the shop, make the necessary changes, take it back to the beach and try again.

What was your intent for these images?
One point I’d like to share is my intent for these projects. Plastic “Waves” and Mirage were both started because I wanted my work to have a purpose, and environmental causes are what these projects’ primary objective is geared towards. I want to benefit nonprofits devoted to water conservation through gallery print and book sales. This syndication is my first opportunity to do so, and I’m very proud to be writing that first check.

Featured Promo – Samantha Wolov

Samantha Wolov

Who printed it?
Agency Access, sometime in 2021. Due to a massive mailing hiccup and “a series of unfortunate events”, the booklets weren’t actually sent out until this spring, around six months after their first mailing (thankfully I had extras and could mail out a second batch). Full disclosure: to my knowledge, Agency Access is no longer designing and mailing print promos, but I could be mistaken.

Who designed it?
I can’t actually remember specifics (design and production started in Spring 2021), but this was also with Agency Access. My website is organized by Standards and Deviations—more traditional, classic styling vs. more left-of-center—and the booklet was designed to reflect that division. I know their sister site, Found, produces booklets a few times a year, and I had asked if they could make one specifically for me. When I approached them, I explained I was hoping the booklet would be my “Alan Rickman moment”: before Die Hard, Rickman was working, but not as often as he liked, and only in smaller projects, but was consistently receiving positive reviews and feedback from that work. Then he shot Die Hard, and the rest is history. I see a lot of overlap between my career trajectory and his earlier experiences: under-employed, but fantastic response. I’m just looking for my Die Hard.

Tell me about the images.
I have a fairly unusual background, [feminist, modern] art history and studio art, and I’m a self-taught photographer who learned about making images from painters, not other photographers, so the work itself feels somehow simultaneously extremely niche, and yet, can’t fully be categorized. My general understanding is that people enjoy and respond to my work, but they don’t know what to actually do with me; “I desperately want to hire you, but I don’t know if I actually can”. It’s tremendously flattering but understandably frustrating. That’s why I divide my work into Standards and Deviations, I want to offer some guidance as to how to look at my work. I’m a photographer who can shoot more classic, approachable imagery, but I’m also a photographer who isn’t afraid to experiment and really lean into that studio art background; I’ve made mixed media pieces with my prints, silkscreens using makeup instead of paint, and physically altered the composition of beauty products to use them as art supplies. I can’t have one without the other, I would feel incomplete otherwise.

Tell me more about the images in the Deviations category.
I have Sensory Processing Sensitivity, but what that means for my work is that nothing is purely visual, they appeal to at least one other sense, usually touch. For me, I need to be able to feel an image, not just look at it. I didn’t even realize it was a part of my work until I showed my work at a portfolio review, and someone said he could imagine the smell of one of my images (it featured copious amounts of sunscreen). Since then, I’ve come to understand how unique my SPS is and moving forward, I’d like to print and design booklets that feature images that better represent my mental process, not just my artistic identity.

How many did you make?
I printed 200 booklets, I believe. This was an experiment, so I didn’t want to invest too heavily, but I also wanted to make sure the booklets had a chance to make the impact I was hoping they’d have. This was also all done during COVID, and very few people are returning to offices, so my plan had been to personally reach out to every potential recipient (500+ individualized emails), explain what I was trying to do, and hoped they felt comfortable sharing the appropriate mailing address with me (I recognized most of those addresses would be personal, and I didn’t want to overstep a boundary). Miraculously, people replied. I knew statistically I would only get a small number of responses, but it was enough. I’m thankful I printed as many as I did since as best as I can tell, no one received the original booklets, mailed in November 2021. After waiting until after the holidays (thinking there might have been a massive seasonal issue), I had to mail out a second batch.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I try to send out email promos once every two months, and in the “before times”, I sent out a printed postcard version of the same images to anyone who might not have received the email due to server blocks and whatnot. Now that RTO is hit or miss across the industry, there’s no effective way to send out printed material, but I think print mailers still have their place. Despite all the mailing issues and delays, I’d like to try this again, maybe make a new booklet once a year. I’ve always maintained that a photographer should always present their work in any medium in which it could be consumed, and for me, that includes print.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
The booklets themselves? I’m not sure yet, I haven’t actually heard much about them. Oddly enough, I think what had a bigger impact was the email I would send to a potential recipient asking for a mailing address. Those were personal. I think it’s easy to forget that the names on one’s mailing list are actual people, and those people surely get bombarded on a daily basis by photographers demanding their attention, even if only for a few minutes. I take tremendous pride in being warm and personable, attributes that are nearly impossible to communicate digitally, and the emails I sent asking for addresses were a chance for me to connect with another human being, not a title. I could essentially say, “I admire the work your company produces, and I would love to work with you, but I also recognize that times are weird, and I’m a stranger asking for your address, but maybe we can meet each other halfway, and you can set a boundary for yourself while I attempt to do a somewhat awkward part of my job.” Marketing feels so anonymous, and honestly, it makes me uncomfortable. Before COVID, I attended in-person portfolio reviews religiously, and at least 75% of my jobs came from those meetings—I got booked because they liked me (which is such a wonderful compliment and never ceases to floor me). It’s much harder to make that connection with a person now, and if we’re being honest, I’m struggling with that. But with these booklets and the emails, I was able to approach someone and say, “I made a thing. I worked hard on it. I didn’t make that many. And I want you, you specifically, to have one, because I want you to have one.”

This Week in Photography: Hitting the Beach

 

 

“There is something deeply Universal about this human instinct to rest and rejuvenate by the sea.”

Jonathan Blaustein, January 5, 2022.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve never quoted myself to open the column.

(That’s a new one, for sure.)

But there’s a reason, I promise, and we’ll get to it.

 

 

 

 

 

The other day, my daughter asked what I used to do in Summer, when I was her age?

I told her my folks sent my brother and me to sleep-away-camp, beginning when we were 6 and 8 respectively.

We’d go off to rural Pennsylvania, (or later Upstate New York,) for two months at a time, over an 8 year period.

 

JB at Pine Forest Camp, circa 1985. (Can you tell which one is me?)

 

She was surprised, as that is wildly out of her life experience, growing up here in Northern New Mexico.

But, I assured her, though we weren’t packing her off like that, it was pretty common among suburban, Jersey Jewish kids, back in the day.

Before and after we left for camp, though, on nice days we went to the beach.

Down the Shore.

(Jersey in the 80’s was like living in a John Hughes’ film.)

 

Image courtesy of Sebastian Galaviz/ Spotify

 

It was pretty rad, I must say.

In fact, given it’s June 23rd, (as I’m writing,) there’s a good chance I would have been at the beach on this exact date, 40 years ago.

Damn!

I miss it.

Living in the mountains, the nearest, large body of water is 700 miles away, and that’s the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

The Gulf of Mexico in Texas, the Pacific Ocean in SoCal, and the Great Lakes, all are nearly 1000 miles from here.

(It’s enough to make a Jersey-Shore-boy heartsick.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

But wouldn’t you know it?

I had a vicarious trip to the sea in a photo-book today.

(We’ll get there in a minute.)

After looking at the book, and ruminating on that urge to be near the ocean, I laid down on a rug in the living room, imagining the waves crashing and cresting.

Back in Jersey, on the Atlantic Ocean, there’s a particular smell to the water.

(Like sweetly rotting clams.)

I’d love to have that odor in my nose right now.

But that’s 2000 miles away.

(At least California is closer.)

So I started thinking of the big, blue waves of the Pacific.

“Wait a second,” I thought.

I have a solution to this.

We just need to get digital!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I grabbed my phone, and ran to a closet.

Finger-scrolling furiously, I found a video I made on the beach in San Diego, nearly six months ago, and it was as if past-me were speaking to current-me.

(Some legit, time-travel-type shit.)

Check it out.

 

 

OK, I know most of you don’t watch the videos.

Fine.

But context matters, such that (except for the embarrassing fingers-on-the-lens moment,) I was strolling along the oceanfront, narrating for you guys, (and my current-self,) how nice it is to relax by the ocean when you can.

(It’s where the column-opening-quote came from.)

Standing in the closet, remembering how nice the sounds and breezes were, I felt the heartsickness subsiding.

Then I found a video of my last look at the Pacific, seconds before we turned away, to head back East across the Great American West.

It’s so lovely, that one perfect moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, enough of the waxing philosophical.

(I saw a photo-book that put me on this rant. It wasn’t planned.)

My book stack is big, as I’ve said, so I reached in and pulled out a box from Summer 2021, published in 2020, so it’s not exactly ripped from the headlines.

Surely, I had no idea what would be inside.

I found the attention-grabbing “Aquas De Ouro,” from Sandra Cattaneo Adorno, published by Radius Books in Santa Fe.

Straight up, Radius is known for craftsmanship and design, and I mean this cover!

Shimmering Gold!

I don’t speak Portuguese, but as I know some Spanish, Italian and French, I guessed the title meant Waters of Gold, and the coastline in the graphic made me think of Rio de Janeiro, though I’ve never been.

Sure enough, that’s what the book’s about, as it seems the artist was born there, spent a chunk of her life in England, and then returned to make these photos.

(I’m not clear if it was a part-time, or full-time return to make the work in the book.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

No matter.

I write all the time that books are experiences, and this one actually felt like that was the main point.

Creating a real, lived-in experience for the viewer.

All those close-ups!

The movement, in and out of the crowds.

In and out of the water.

I was re-watching “Friday Night Lights” recently, and after looking over my shoulder, my wife said she’d forgotten how the many jump-cuts, and constant change of camera-angle coverage, made her feel like she really was in that small, West Texas town.

That’s what this book did for me.

It brought me to Ipanema Beach for a few minutes.

(Which is pretty cool.)

The print quality is super-high, as I’d expect from Radius, and frankly, I bought some weed in Santa Fe recently that got me super-high, so shout out to the quality that city’s turning out!

Big Ups to Santa Fe!

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the book, though.

The photos are dynamic, as I said, and there are a lot of them.

Probably, if I’d been editing, I’d have chopped it just a tad.

But text bits, in Portuguese and English, are sprinkled throughout, on different paper stock, so that does keep the narrative moving, and alleviates any potential viewer boredom.

(Especially as none of the text is overly-long.)

In keeping with my shorter, breezier, Summer style… this is a very well-made book.

I enjoyed my time with it, both for the art itself, and the fact it sent me back to my own digital archive, to re-live memories of the sea, from past sunny days.

(As I can’t get quite get there at the moment.)

Hope you’re enjoying your Summer so far.

See you next week!

 

To purchase “Aguas De Ouro,” click here 

 

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Kate Woodman

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

Today’s featured artist:   Kate Woodman

Sisters

In 2018, I worked with a company to create a tutorial focused on color theory for photographers, which was sort of an exploration of how to employ color for maximum visual and emotional impact in an image. “Sisters” was the culminating series created for the tutorial, designed to showcase how color could be used effectively in set design, wardrobe and post processing to help tell a story.

In the process of coming up with ideas for this shoot, location scouting and sorting out the curriculum for this course, I really started to think hard about ideas and art that has continually interested and influenced me over the years; and two things that I always find myself coming back to are first, this  infatuation with relationships—the varying dynamics therein, how they manifest and play out in different ways—and second, Americana and American culture—particularly from the vernacular perspective.  

So when I think about these sort of themes, I start to think about artists like Normal Rockwell or Edward Hopper, or Andrew Wyeth, who are really sort of the champions of Americana art, and have spent their artistic careers portraying the beauty in the vernacular American life. Particularly, having grown up in the Northeast, I have found myself more and more drawn to the work of Rockwell, and his vignettes of every day scenes—nothing monumental, just ordinary people in the moment. Growing up visiting my grandparent’s house when I was little, they had a magnet on their fridge of Rockwell’s “Girl At Mirror”; and I remember becoming so enamored with this girl, dressing up as her—braided hair, nightgown and all—and would recreate this scene regularly. 

Rockwell’s gift was in his ability to both immortalize and humanize the past, which, as an artist and a historian, is something that resonates deeply with me. For this series, I wanted to pay homage to these great Americana artists, while infusing some of my own experiences as a sister and daughter. Shot on a goose farm in rural Missouri, this series explores a day in the life of two sisters and their mother, capturing vignettes of their interactions—those humanizing moments of play, tenderness and bonding. Its set, styled and color graded in an early 20th century fashion, but these relationship dynamics are meant to transcend any specific time period. 

 

To see more of this project, click here

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

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

Pricing & Negotiating: International Luxury Hospitality Brand

By Bryan Sheffield, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Architectural images showcasing a hotel and its amenities.

Licensing: Unlimited use of up to 5 images in perpetuity. Unlimited use of up to 30 additional images for 1 year

Photographer: Architecture and Hospitality specialist

Client: Large International Hospitality Brand

Here is the estimate:

 

 

Fees: This shoot required an experienced architecture and hospitality specialist with the ability to capture strong content in a very short amount of time. The shoot time was compressed as the location was re-opening with short notice due to the state’s relaxation of Covid regulations. Also, from what we could gather in our client conversations, was that a shoot took place recently and the agency was now tasked with getting it done right the second time. That put upward pressure on the fee, and I felt that a creative fee alone was worth $10,000 for the 2-day shoot.

The client requested two licensing terms for the 35 deliverables on the shot list. They requested 30 images with 1-year Unlimited use, and an additional 5 images to have a license for unlimited use in perpetuity.

For the 1 year Unlimited licensing, I felt $750 per image was appropriate for the quantity of 30 images.

For the perpetual Unlimited licensing, I felt $2,000 per image was appropriate for 5 images.

This totaled $32,500, and I arrived at a $42,500 creative/licensing fee by combining the $10,000 creative fee with the licensing fees. On top of that, I added a $750 fee for the photographer to attend a quick tech/scout of the location.

I added a Licensing Options section within the Job Description to outline possible additional image use fees, including possibly extending the use of the 30 images to perpetual use. This included a discounted rate for the bulk perpetual use.

Crew: We added a first assistant (who would also accompany the photographer on the tech/scout), as well as a second assistant. These rates were appropriate for the given market, and the rates the photographer’s assistants were accustomed to. I suggested to the photographer to bring on a separate person as digital tech, but the client pushed back on the crew footprint during Covid and the photographer was comfortable using his 2nd assistant to simply run a Capture One tether and backup files.

Equipment: We included $2,000 for cameras/grip/lighting, and a modest fee to cover the photographer’s computer set up to be used on set, and 2 hard drives.

Covid Safety: We included costs for 3 advanced Covid tests for the photography team, plus $75 for PPE.

Misc.: The location was about a 30-minute drive for the photography team. We added a line item to cover individual mileage for the 3 person team, parking, some additional meals, and a bit of buffer for any small unforeseen expenses that might arise.

Post Production: We included $1,500 for the photographer to perform basic color correction and provide a gallery of his favorite shots. The retouching estimate was based upon the photographer and creative team assuming each image would need roughly 2 hours of work. This would be billed at $125 per hour.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project. The shoot was a success and images are out in the world currently!


Need help estimating or producing a project? Please reach out. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs, from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

The Daily Edit – Dawn Kish photographs Glen Canyon

Dawn Kish

Heidi: How did that camera find its way to you?
Dawn: A few years ago, my friend Richard Jackson and I were working on a large format project together. Jackson is a master printer and makes beautiful photographic prints. Out of the blue he hands me this old Crown Graphic 4×5 camera and says, “Would you be interested in using this camera? It belonged to Tad Nichols.” My jaw dropped. I am a huge fan of Tad’s work and feel like he is the Ansel Adams of Glen Canyon. He photographed Glen Canyon in the 1950’s before it was buried under a watery tomb called Lake Powell. Tad documented the pre-damed canyon with this camera and he did 16mm motion pictures as well.  In 1998, there was a big push to get these important photos published and get his archive to Northern Arizona University (NAU). Tad and Richard became friends on a river trip many years before and he became the printer for his book, Glen Canyon-Images of a Lost World.  Tad passed away in 1999 and bequeathed this camera to Richard.

I told Richard, “No thank you, I’m worried I would harm this historical camera.” This offer made me nervous but I was also elated, but I said, “I’ll borrow it when I have a good project for it.” Well, 2 years later, Glen Canyon started to emerge and Lake Powell’s water levels are at its all time low since the fill up of the reservoir in 1963. Finally, I’ll go see Glen Canyon, a place I never thought I would experience in my life time except in books, photographs, films and Katie Lee songs. And I’ll take TAD (the Crown Graphic) with me. WHOOP!

Why was this body of work important for you to document?
This is a project of LOVE. The love for nature, photography, adventure and the historic significance. I can’t believe this happening. I feel it is my most important work yet to date. Plus, I’m from the Southwest and want to help preserve this iconic landscape. Tad spent time photographing pre-dam Glen Canyon, dam construction, and the resulting formation of Lake Powell with his 4×5



How much did Tads work from Glen Canyon: Images of a Lost World inform your body of work?

His book is definitely is an inspiration. I didn’t go back and recreate his work. I went back to explore and expose what I found and let creativity guide me. This is a creative project and not a replica of the old and new. Though, I do believe there are a few people doing this type of work. The book was my guide and Tad’s spirit to create art and advocacy for our public lands.

Since there’s a significant time and water gap, was it challenging to find the location?
It is still a giant lake. There is still 300 feet of water till you hit the river channel in the deepest parts. But the very outside of the lake is being exposed so you do have a glimpse of what was buried. I feel so honored to get to these places. Glen Canyon is massive and many side canyon fall into it. The logistics are overwhelming and feel I got just a glimpse of what is to be discovered. Tad documented the canyon for over 10 years. I have had 5 journeys by boat so far, that added up to about 12 days on using the camera in the field. I used Gaia maps and marked waypoints of the places on the map that I took the photos. All most all the images look like they are taken underwater by todays maps. Looks like I needed underwater housing and some scuba gear to get the shots.

Just trying to get on the lake there were delays and mishaps of all sorts – bad weather (fucking wind that turns the lake into an ocean), forest fires, road closures, ramp closures, running out of gas, breaking tents, sand in the cameras, sand in your crotch…I’m sure you get the idea. Hahaha. The place is over whelming but over all worth it. The beauty keeps calling me back.

If you were able to connect with Tad, what would your message to him be?
I would thank him for his determination in trying to save this beautiful canyon and documenting this natural wonder before it was all gone. I would tell him I’m going to Glen Canyon with his camera and called it “TAD”. To be honest, I talk to camera all the time when I’m making photos. I ask him to guide me and I usually take a huge breath when I release the trigger cable. I got a little nervous making the exposers on real film. I made sure I backed up my images with my Nikon. You don’t want to mess up because it is not a place you can return to so easily. There is a lot of money and time that goes into one exposer. So I try to relax, concentrate, breathe and talk to Tad and enjoy the beauty of the canyon.

What conservation groups did you work with for this project?
I am involved with the Glen Canyon Institute (GCI) and NAU archive to prepare exhibits about the emergence of Glen Canyon. The work will have an art advocacy message and a percentage of the print profits will go back into these non-profits.  If anyone would like a print they are available. I hope to get a book rolling too but not sure how to do this. I’ve never done a book before but i’m up for the challenge.

What’s your goal with this project?
My goal is to inspire people to not make the same mistake again and fight for our natural world. David Brower, CEO of the Sierra Club during the 1960’s, said, “This was my biggest mistake to let Glen Canyon go under.”

I also started a very personal heart felt film about the making of this project called, Tad’s Emerging World.  I’ll be submitting it to film festivals end of July.

This Week in Photography: Hustle Hard

 

 

 

 

I’m a loyal dude, if you have my back.

 

 

 

Earlier this month, it was my 12th Anniversary writing for this website.

My wife and I have been together nearly 25 years, (married for 18,) and I’ve kept up this weekly column since September 2011.

(I also wrote for the New York Times for 6 years, until they shut our blog.)

If you turn on me though, or treat me badly these days, I’m out the door.

It’s a new development, and I’ve been trying it on for size.

Stress chemicals prematurely age us, make us sick, and can kill us in various ways.

So I’m currently trying to limit my exposure to toxic people.

But I’m only here, at this new point in mid-life, because I made so many mistakes, over and over again.

Failure is the best teacher, if you’re willing to listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My son was 2 years old when I began writing for A Photo Editor.

I was 36.

(A youngish, new father to a toddler.)

 

36 years old, covering a portfolio review for APE

 

Now it’s 2022, and I’m the 48-year-old Dad to a teenager, and a soon-to-be tween daughter.

All along, I’ve been sharing my thoughts, and this blog has become interwoven with my life.

That’s quite the run here, and I think it’s because Rob and I share common values and beliefs.

One core tenet: Respect the Hustle.

It’s a hard world out there, and very few of us are ever given anything at all.

(If we are, let’s hope we’re humble and appreciative.)

To become successful in any field takes intelligence, planning, social skills, hard work, grit and determination.

Battling rejection.

Handling the almost moments, when it didn’t happen.

I mean, I once got accepted into a big NYC gallery, less than a year out of graduate school, only to have it fall apart when they didn’t like the color of my picture frames.

(Now that’s a kick in the nuts.)

Perseverance is a valuable trait; one that’s only learned through suffering.

 

 

 

 

 

As always, there’s a point to my musings.

We’re going to talk about a book today; one that waited quite a while for review.

It arrived in May 2021, and sat patiently in its red plastic pouch.

When it’s been that long, I never have any idea what’s inside, and this one was a self-published book by Alex Palombo called “The 20 2020 Project: The Pursuit of a Dream.”

There are two ways to talk about this book, and I aim to investigate both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

First off, I respect the hustle this book entails.

The photographer shares, in the opening statement, how tricky it was going to be, to photograph and interview 20 athletes training for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.

It was a budget stretch, and Alex meant to stick to the Northeast corridor of the US, from DC to the South to Montreal in the North.

(He lives in New York.)

There is an anecdote about a highway mishap in Upstate NY, which lead to driving 5 hours in the wrong direction towards Buffalo.

Ouch.

(Can’t not share here that my Mom and Dad inadvertently headed West from Vail not-too-long-ago, instead of East towards Denver, and only realized it when they were well into Utah. Must have been some strong-ass reefer.)

 

Image courtesy of Turn the Page

 

Sorry.

Back on topic.

There was a lot of effort funneled into this book, as a passion project, BEFORE Covid hit, and then it became nearly impossible.

But somehow, here it is.

Hard-cover, serious business.

We have athletes, and their stories, which are themselves inspiring.

Each had to sacrifice.

To suffer.

To chase a dream.

In the world of sports, no cliché is ever too big.

All the meta-narratives have been told, (certainly since the US Hockey team won Gold in 1980,) yet they get us every time, such is their power.

{ED note: Just last night, Stephen Curry and his buddies proved the “aging vets who still have one more in the tank” narrative never gets old.}

 

Courtesy of NBC Sports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m the first person to admit I’ve become more cynical since 2016, and try to push back against those instincts.

Sports help me do that.

Not only do I admire the Grit’N’Grind that saw this book through to creation, self-published, but also how it amplifies that positive message with the powerful stories within.

These moments motivate us to do more.
Be better.
Dig deep.

That is the context through which I prefer to view this book, and one for which I have much admiration.

However…

 

 

 

 

 

The other context.

Do I think the photographs are special?

Is the pacing spot on?

Can I groove with the graphic design?

What about the fonts, image placement, and the balance of text and image?

Weekly, I judge books on those merits, and in many ways this one comes up short.

So I don’t want to wimp out, and not say what I’m thinking.

It’s not a “great” book.

But I don’t want to over-invest in that narrative, as the kids say these days.

The truth is, I review books of all types, intentions, and levels of craftsmanship.

Context matters.

I hope some, or even most of these fencers, wrestlers, sprinters, judokas, boxers, and synchronized swimmers made it to Tokyo in 2021.

And I hope you dig this fun, positive book on a warm summer day.

Wherever you are.

See you next week.

 

To purchase “The 20 2020 Project: The Pursuit of a Dream” click here 

 

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Luke Copping

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

 

Today’s featured artist:  Luke Copping

 

After my family left Canada and moved to the United States, we settled in Youngstown, NY, just down the street from Historic Old Fort Niagara — the oldest continuously occupied military site in North America. Many of my early memories of living in the US involve the historical reenactors that I would regularly see at The Fort, in the surrounding park, and in the small central area of town. Especially during the large encampment weekends when reenactors would travel from near and far to descend on the fort and town in period-accurate clothing. It wasn’t unusual to see groups of soldiers stepping into a grocery store, muskets over their shoulders – to buy snacks and beer for the weekend-long party and historical festivities. As much as these reenactors valued the authenticity of their costuming and campsites, it was always an interestingly anachronistic experience for spectators like myself. One that made an impression for years to come.

For this particular series of portraits of reenactors and historical interpreters, I decided to focus on the war of 1812. However, the fort was used during the Colonial Wars, Seven Years’ Wars, and the Civil War. During both world wars, it was a barracks and training station.

The American, French, And British flags fly over the fort – the Three nations who have occupied it at one time or another as they competed for the support of the Six Nations Confederacy and used the fort to control access to the western great lakes.

I plan to return to the fort soon to create a series of portraits of reenactors specializing in the Seven Years’ War and the fort’s staff of indigenous historical interpreters.

War of 1812 Reenactors at Old Fort Niagara In Youngstown NY
War of 1812 Reenactors at Old Fort Niagara In Youngstown NY
War of 1812 Reenactors at Old Fort Niagara In Youngstown NY
War of 1812 Reenactors at Old Fort Niagara In Youngstown NY
War of 1812 Reenactors at Old Fort Niagara In Youngstown NY
War of 1812 Reenactors at Old Fort Niagara In Youngstown NY

 

To see more of this project, click here

Instagram

 

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

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

 

Featured Promo – Jason Willheim

Jason Willheim

Who printed it?
I print all my promos thru Newspaper Club. I just love the Digital Mini I feel its a beautiful presentation of your work

Who designed it?
I have Lisa Thackaberry design my promos. Lisa is my portfolio advisor so, its fun for her to help create these booklets. Plus, she knows my work. We are up to seven booklets and each one gets better. Carsten Steinhausen my retoucher also helps put this together and helps with the fine tuning

Tell me about the images.
The photos for this promo are from The Race of Gentlemen, which is one of the coolest events. Drag Racing on the beach in New Jersey. And I also have photographs, From when they raced in Santa Barbara. The Hot Rods are all pre 1934, thou the engines Can be no later than 1954. The motorcycles are all 1947 and older. Everyone is out to have a fun time, but they get serious about racing. I have realized that all my personal projects are of people that do something because they have a passion for it. It’s not about money. Its for the love of, in this case, being the fastest on the beach

How many did you make?
I usually print out 50, but its super easy and super fast to have more printed if I need them, as I tend to hand them out when I meet with people. I use to mail them, but since Covid and people working at home and not wanting to give out their home address, I also have this set as an email version and then when we meet, they get the hard copy.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
It varies how many promos I create each year. Each promo relates to a portfolio on my web site I am waiting to make three promos, but one will happen, when its finished being retouched and two will happen when the film they are related to is released.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
With more people working from home, I feel email versions of these booklets have been more effective these last two years, but I will continue to create these booklets, as I love to give these Away to clients. I feel that the Digital Mini is a beautiful way to show your work and its not really that expensive and everyone loves them. And after giving this promo to a client, they asked if I would show eight prints in the Agency gallery. And everyone in the agency has been really excited about seeing my work and a few in the agency are looking forward to going to the next Race of Gentlemen.

This Week in Photography: Revisiting Rambo

 

 

I re-watched Rambo yesterday.

(Technically, it’s called “First Blood,” from 1982, but once it became a hit, everyone just called it Rambo.)

 

 

 

 

 

My buddy Louie made the suggestion, as he swore it was a great film.

I was 8 when it came out, and Sylvester Stallone, as Rambo, became a cultural icon.

These days, it’s hard for youngins to relate to how big a deal someone/something could be, if it got caught in the eye of the monoculture.

ET, Rambo, Top Gun, The Terminator.

 

Courtesy of Terminator Wiki

 

They defined the 80’s, much as Charlie’s Angles, Star Wars, and Archie Bunker repped the 70’s in the Zeitgeist.

I remember Rambo as a roid-head, basically, using his massive muscles as a metaphor for American dominance.

But this movie is SO not that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 7th grade, I had a teacher, Mr. Ferraro, who was the cool guy everyone loved.

He had a “cool” car, which I think was a Camaro, but I’m sure some of my classmates could correct me.

And he was totally into Springsteen. (Again, this was Jersey in the 80’s.)

One day, he broke down “Born in the USA” for us, and explained it had been misappropriated by Reagan, and politicians like him, who used the song un-ironically at their rallies.

 

Courtesy of Billboard.com

 

I say un-ironcally, as the song is actually about a Vietnam Vet who comes back to his small-town factory life, and has a shit time of things.

It’s not a happy song, nor a traditionally patriotic one.

But the politicians only heard the chorus, and no one else was paying attention, I suppose.

Same thing with Rambo.

I mean, the guy was a hippie, for God’s sake!

A long-hair!

This being the 80’s, Stallone had a fluffy, feathery version of long hair, but still, we get the picture.

Wearing an old army jacket with an American flag on the lapel, he catches the attention of a smug, conservative, bigoted Sheriff, (played by 80’s stalwart Brian Dennehy,) while walking along the highway.

 

 

I’m not sure if the setting is ever disclosed, but as they’re obviously in massive, Western mountains, and at one point, we learn Portland is south, I’d say they’re in Washington.

Rambo, of course, is White, but as a hippie, he represents “The Other,” and the Sheriff literally runs him out of town on sight.

He’s done nothing wrong.

He’s just walking-while-hippie, which counts as vagrancy.

And though in the 21st Century, we all say “Thank you for your service,” every time we see a uniform, back then, Vietnam vets were treated poorly, and became one of the first populations of long-term unhoused Americans.

So that’s the premise.

Then, Johnny Rambo ends up hunting the bigoted cops up in the mountains, after they beat and attempt to torture him, and he escapes from jail. (With a pre-NYPD-Blue David Caruso playing the only skeptical cop; the one who thought it was dumb to pick a fight with a former Green Beret.)

Stallone is ripped, for sure, but not massive, so whatever they did to blow him up into a body-builder for the sequels, it came later.

 

 

He’s no bigger than when he played Rocky Balboa, and does a great job in this one too. (His early acting work is criminally underrated.)

Like Rocky, Rambo was an underdog.

But he was fighting against “The Man,” and then in sequels becomes a mass culture symbol for institutional American might.

Often, when symbols are powerful enough, people don’t even know they’re being indoctrinated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was thinking about that, preparing the column in my mind, and went searching in my Photos for some images I want to write about today.

(But not yet.)

Instead, I found a group of pictures I shot in a Santa Fe government building back in February.

The family and I were on a rare downtown walk, and stopped in to use the restroom.

It must have been the Veterans Affairs department, where we discovered a series of photographic installations.

One drew my attention immediately, as I saw grids of dead soldiers from Vietnam.

 

 

From a distance, as a grid, we just notice the volume of people, and outlines of faces.

As soon as I saw it this morning, I flashed to the grid of images of dead children in Uvalde.

 

Courtesy of The Texas Tribune

 

But then I saw the close-up images of the soldiers, (from when I approached the installation,) and immediately you notice the individuals, and realize how many of the men who perished from here were Hispanic and Native American.

Ancient cultures, both of them, and so specific to New Mexico, but bigots would just see a wall of brown faces.

 

 

Like the people killed in that El Paso Walmart a few years ago.

Nasty business, this racism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s get to the real inspiration for this column, shall we?

(Rambo came later.)

The other day, driving my daughter back from her school’s summer camp, she told me she’d changed her mind, and decided she was offended by the kid who’d called her a “Crazy Jew” a month ago.

At first, it hadn’t bothered her, but now it did, so she was going to tell on him.

She said there’d been a discussion in camp that day, as she described anti-Semitism to her friends.

They disagreed with her, and didn’t think there should be a separate word for hating Jews.

It was just racism, they said.

All one big hatred.

I told Amelie that while there was hatred specific to Jews, (and hence a particular word for it,) I actually liked what her friends had to say.

Hatred over skin color, country of origin, religious beliefs, gender identity, sexual preference, it’s all the same thing.

And it’s all awful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It must have been that conversation, because when I went on a walk yesterday, my mind flashed to some art I saw in San Francisco, and it really stuck in my craw.

I’m sure it was a part of my overall-negative-reaction to the city, and while I’m bored of piling on, it happened.

So why not report on it?

The story is, I visited the San Francisco Art Institute when I was in SF in March, and the famed, historically important art school has fallen on hard times.

(It nearly went out of business, and was operating a skeleton program with a skeleton staff, when I was in town.)

Again, I don’t want to add to their woes, but I’d been told there was a famous Diego Rivera mural there, and should check it out.

So I did.

Three times, I had the chance to pop in, and have the gallery to myself.

I was not amused.

The mural, which as with all Rivera work looks great, is an obvious critique of Capitalism, by the famously Communist, Mexican painter.

It shows the means of production, and I later learned it’s called “The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City.” 

At the literal heart of the story, the bi-laterally symmetrical, center of his composition, is a gross, stereotypical depiction of a Jewish businessman.

“Oh shit,” I thought, when I first saw it. “Now I have to write about anti-Semitic art again. What a bummer.”

And here I am, three months later, doing just that.

 

 

 

 

 

The hooked nose.
The beady, bulging eyes.
The bowler hat and round glasses.
The super-shiny suit.

He’s in the middle of the cabal, this Jew.

 

 

The other “White” guys could be from anywhere.

But not the one in the heart of it all.

(Symbolically.)

The rodent-like, dark-hair/dark-eye Jew, smaller than the other two, with a flashy, pin-striped, double-breasted suit.

Man, it made me mad.

Because as I said earlier, powerful visual symbols often subvert the conscious mind.

They propagate hatred, over generations.

What a crock of shit.

See you next week.

 

 

 

(Editor’s note: While doing some background research, I learned Diego Rivera had some Jewish ancestry, which does not absolve him of exploiting this nasty trope. Furthermore, Google turned up an English kerfuffle ten years ago, where a muralist got in trouble in London, for the same Jewish stereotypes, and was then compared to Rivera, who also had a mural over-painted for its inclusion of Lenin.)

The Art of the Personal Project: Andy Anderson

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

 

Today’s featured artist:  Andy Anderson

A View From The Top Of The World: Andy Anderson Scales New Heights

By Anne Telford

 

His latest personal project proved to be more than inspirational; it effected a change in the veteran photographer. Given his proximity to peaks in the 5,000-foot range in Idaho, it was a real commitment for photographer Andy Anderson to take on Mount Everest. Not to summit the world’s highest peak he hastens to explain, but to capture portraits of the iconic Sherpa, those sturdy individuals blessed with the constitution to thrive at extreme altitude.

His interest in the Himalayas was initially triggered when he read Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard in the late 1970s. (The book was published in 1978.) He’d always been intrigued by the elusive snow leopard and the brave and resolute Sherpa guides who lived in their habitat.  “Sherpas have always burdened the workload for mountaineering attempts on peaks over 8000 meters” Anderson states.

“Before the pandemic hit, I had my ticket, but the project was cancelled,” he explains of the journey he planned two years ago, with assistance from Pemba Sherpa and Panuru Sherpa of Xtreme Climbers who helped him set up his itinerary. The majority of the Sherpa I photographed are retired and live in high village of Phortze whose residents have summited Everest more than those from any other village in the Himalayas. Anderson also trekked to Everest’s Base Camp at 17,598 feet, where he was able to meet most of the Sherpa teams preparing for summit attempts.

While he was in Nepal in late April/early May the majority of the renowned Sherpa guides were at Everest’s Base Camp or were in the process of summiting. “Next year I’ll go back in early March, when they are preparing EBC for the upcoming climbing season” he says.

Anderson says “I’m not a mountaineer and do not pretend to be one, BUT what I’m is a photographer who is interested in other human beings and have an undying love of the outdoors AND I clearly understand the draw they feel when coming here. This project is not about me but about the Sherpa people who risk their lives to ascend these great mountains along with the “true mountaineers” who share that struggle. I have witnessed these connections between them and it’s nothing like it in the entire world”

The Sherpa migrated from eastern Tibet across the Himalayan range over 500 years ago. In the l920s the predominantly Buddhist Sherpa began a close relationship with the English from pioneering mountain climbing expeditions. This relationship with the West has both aided the Sherpa and changed their way of life. The Sherpa have a spiritual attachment to the Himalayans; they call Mount Everest Chomolungma and worship it as the “Mother of the World.”

When asked about the weather conditions, Anderson replies, “The temperature was in the mid-40s, it would rain in the afternoon, and cool down at night. We’d walk to multiple villages and meet people. I had an interpreter/porter to help with my personal items while I carried my photography gear. One day we walked about eleven miles to see a monastery and meet a Buddhist monk.” He ate a lot of soup and drank a lot of Tibetan tea—served with salt and butter. “The food was good,” he claims. “They grow their own vegetables. But remember everything has to be walked in.”

While some Sherpa didn’t want their photograph taken, others enjoyed it. “Hearing their stories was the most important part,” Anderson says. “I was definitely changed. It was an interesting and eye-opening experience for me.  It was the most exotic location I’ve been to in a long while.”

“To all the Sherpas and mountaineers hats off. I’m leaving a little of myself here and taking a portion of you with me, and to my wife who allows my wanderlust to go unchecked. All of the trekking and gasping for O2 was worth it. I will see you again next season to start on my documentary, until then…..Thank you. He enjoyed the experience so much he looks forward to returning next year to make more portraits, stories and hopefully a film.

 

To learn more about the Sherpa, Anderson recommends the 2015 documentary Sherpa, by Australian filmmaker Jennifer Peedom who had planned to follow an expedition to the summit, but instead captured the 2014 ice avalanche that killed 16 Sherpa and three others and its aftermath.

 

To see more of this project, click here

Instagram

 

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

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

 

Pricing & Negotiating: Lifestyle Images For A Pharmaceutical Client

By Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Lifestyle images of talent interacting around a residential property

Licensing: Unlimited use of all images captured in North America for one year

Photographer: Lifestyle and portraiture specialist

Agency: Healthcare marketing specialists

Client: Pharmaceutical company

Here is the estimate:

 

 

Fees: At the onset of the project, the scope was based around 4 talent interacting and participating in lifestyle activities in and around a residential property. We anticipated three unique setups over the course of one day, however, we did not have a specific shot list to work with. While the agency requested unlimited use for one year, we knew the images would primarily be used for very targeted advertising, mostly web-based, and likely used within printed collateral pieces. Given the duration of just one year, I decided to price the three scenarios at $3,500 each, and I added a $2,000 creative fee. Based on previous experience, I knew the agency would be looking for a creative/licensing fee somewhere between 10-15k, and we were told the budget was initially tight, so we ultimately landed on $12,500. We included a tech/scout day at $1,000 for the photographer, and we included $750 for them to attend a wardrobe fitting day as well, which was specifically requested by the agency.

Crew: We knew this would likely require some heavy lifting and a lot of moving parts, so we included a producer along with a PA, as well as two assistants and a digital tech, at rates that were appropriate for the given market.

Styling: We included a hair/makeup stylist along with an assistant, and we combined the roles of the wardrobe and prop styling into one lead stylist with two assistants. At this point in the project, it seemed reasonable to combine these roles not only because the photographer had a stylist in mind that he was confident could handle it, but it was also a strategy to reduce the headcount on set, which is a covid compliance protocol we always try to implement. We made sure to include enough shopping time and extra days for attendance of a wardrobe fitting day prior to the shoot. We anticipate two outfits for each of the four talents and based the wardrobe costs on $300 per outfit. We included $4,000 for props but marked it as TBD since we didn’t have a clear sense as to what the exact needs would be at the onset of the project. Additionally, we included $750 for kit fees, shipping, and miscellaneous styling expenses.

Health and Safety: We included a covid compliance officer for both the shoot, tech/scout day and wardrobe fitting day. Additionally, we included one Covid test per attendee, as well as a few hundred dollars for PPE/supplies.

Locations: We had a general sense of the type of house that was needed, however, we also sensed that the client would be quite picky. We included what we felt was ample scouting days plus a location fee that would more than cover such a location in this market. We also included $500 as a location fee for the wardrobe fitting, as we’d need a location for that to take place.

Casting and Talent: I included $1,500 for casting, which was based on local knowledge of a casting agent who I knew would be able to cover our needs for that amount of money. Considering covid, rather than a live casting, they remotely collect virtual auditions that talent record themselves, with our casting director’s guidance. The agency planned to cover all talent fees, so we made sure to make a note of that.

Equipment: We made sure to include photographic equipment along with a workstation for our digital tech and production supplies. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve increased line items for production supplies considering the additional items needed to have a safe set (more tables/chairs to spread out, fans for airflow, etc.) in addition to normal items like tents and walkies.

Vehicles: While the house could possibly serve as a staging area, we included a production RV to help spread out and provide a dedicated styling area.

Catering: I included $70 per person for a light breakfast and lunch that would also conform to our covid protocols.

Misc.: I included $750 for insurance (however we did not know the policy limits at this point required by the agency), as well as added funds for miscellaneous expenses that might arise throughout the production.

Post Production: The agency planned to handle retouching, so this just included the photographer’s time to transfer the content to a hard drive and hand it over.

Results: The project was awarded to the photographer. During the pre-production process, a new concept came to light that would necessitate an additional day of shooting. We compiled another estimate to serve as an overage request that contained similar line items to the initial estimate but accounted for an additional day. The overage request for this new concept totaled approximately $60k, and that estimate was also approved.


Need help estimating or producing a project? Please reach out.
We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs, from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

The Daily Edit – Cliford Mervil: Outside Magazine


Outside Magazine

 

Design & Photography Director: Hannah McCaughey
Photo Editor: Kyra Kennedy
Photographer: Cliford Mervil

 

Heidi: How did this cover idea come about? 
Kyra: When we got the list of places for our travel section I was excited to see North Carolina on the list. I had worked with Clif last summer on a project based in NC, and had really wanted to find another to work with him on. The entire cover idea mostly came from working with Clif and getting to priorize a part of the country we dont often cover. We end up doing a lot of shoots in CA because the weather is so consistent, but I really like when we are able to highlight other parts of the country that have fantastic adventure opportunities!

Was this cover image a first for Outside magazine? 
Clif had sent us a list of local models that he had worked with before, and we instantly gravitated towards Ron Griswell’s amazing energy and smile! We thought it would be great to have two people on the cover and when Ron suggested his wife Linea we thought it would be so much more natural to have them pose together instead of putting Ron with another model. It was Outside’s first cover with a Black couple, and I’m really happy that we were able to have Ron and Linea because their relationship is truly something for all of us to aspire to. They have such an intuitive relationship and such strong love for each other which really comes across in Clif’s images. Since the three of them are friends in real life, we ended up with such authentic and fun images.

Outside Magazine, in my opinion, has not always been the most inclusive space, and I wish a cover like this one had been a first a long time ago. We’ve made good strides in the past few years, and I am working towards making covers (and interior content) like this one a constant. Everyone should feel represented, because everyone should be able to feel safe and comfortable in the outdoors. I hope that by having more covers like this one, we can help chip away at the idea that BIPOC people aren’t active in the outdoors. They are, they just haven’t been represented in the outdoor media and I want to help change that mentality as much as I can.

What type of direction did you give Clif? 
Clif is a dream to work with because there isnt too much direction needed! I tend to hire photographers who have a strong voice already present in their images, but it’s also great to be able to collaborate! I had a few ideas coming in, which Clif and I discussed before set up, and then he would just roll with it. Over direction can sometimes stop a spontaneous and perfect moment and I never want to get in the way of that! It’s a balance, but working with someone like Clif helps because the energy he is bringing to the images is always undeniable!
What agency did you use to cast the models and what were you looking for? We were pretty grassroots for this one! Clif sent us a list of models he has worked with since we wanted the images to feel natural. We dont usually work with agencies mostly because we want the models we work with to be people who love being outside and feel comfortable with outdoor activities. It’s nice to work with models who havent done a lot of traditional modeling as well, sometimes with agency models they know their angles so well the images lose a bit of unplanned magic.

When you are hiring BIPOC photographers, what are your resources?
I use the Diversify Photo database pretty often, as well as the databases for Indigenous Photo and Women Photograph. Ive also fully embraced that being a photo editor is a lot of detective work, so I’m constantly trying to see who other magazines/newspapers are working with, and finding new people on instagram. (Is this what you mean or do you mean resources in another way?)

The first photo I saw of Clif’s was of a model boarding down a dune at Great Sand Dunes, and it just made me smile, the whole image had so much fun energy. I had just started at Outside, and was trying to build up a roster of photographers that I thought fit the brand well and that I wanted to work with eventually. It took me a while to get on my feet at Outside, especially since a lot of stories had already been assigned when I started, but Clif has been a photographer I had wanted to work with from the beginning!

Featured Promo – Clay Cook

Clay Cook

Who printed it?
Fireball printed the interior pages and Bindery Partners printed the cover as well as assembled and bound the books in a cloth-wrapped, while foil-stamped o-ring bind. We originally had several of the pages die-cut to resemble “ripped paper” which was incredible, but ultimately we had to change printers due to the quality of the cover.

Who designed it?
While I came up with the idea, most of the credit goes to Lindsay Thompson with Wonderful Machine who designed the book. Honore Brown developed the edit of images.

Tell me about the images.
This project was for a start-up tequila brand “Celaya Tequila”. The project took our team to Jalisco, Mexico and Los Angeles, California. Celaya is a startup spirit brand that unites brothers and retired NFL athletes Ryan & Matt Kalil. The goal of the tequila brand is to pay homage to their Mexican ancestry. It all began with their grandmother and the stories of her grandfather, Jose Celaya, who crafted his own homemade tequila on his Sonora Ranch in the late 1800s. Our job was to document Ryan and Matt on the ground as they walk through the process of harvesting and distilling agave in Tequila. They not only needed portrait and documentary photography of their experience, but also still life photography of their final product.

How many did you make?
We printed 125 sketchbooks. All were sent to advertising agencies in the United States.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
It depends on the promo, but I tend to send out one big promo a year. However, this year I intend to send out two. We are already working on the new promo: a full-size poster scroll.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I do, but it can be a shot in the dark without and analytical data. That said, I’ve received many calls over the years with compliments about the promos. I think it can be an excellent way to stick into peoples minds and find a VIP spot in their rolodex. I have converted leads from a big promo push to actual awarded bids.

This Week in Photography: Finding Inspiration

 

 

 

Throughout 2022, I’ve been bombarding you with think-pieces.

 

 

Week after week, I’ve delved deep into massive, often depressing subjects.

It was fun when those two stories went viral, (about photo-book publishing and NFT’s,) but as a reader, if you’re here each week, it can be intense.

I get it.

But now it’s Summer.

Things slow down when it’s hot outside.

We seek out the water.
Listen to the leaves quake in the breeze.
Smell the flowers.
Bask in the color of the sky.

Because nature is soothing.
It makes us feel better.

(Thank goodness.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, knowing I wanted to keep it short and sweet, I took a look at the book-submission-pile, but it was too daunting.

And I’ve mined my shelves enough to know that wasn’t going to work either.

(We can only use the same trick so many times.)

No travel stories or portfolio review articles were ready to go.

“What’s a hard-working columnist to do,” I wondered?

At that exact moment, (I swear, no lie,) I looked down and saw two coffee-table-books on the arm of the couch.

They’d clearly been moved there from the cedar-chest-coffee-table, for children’s play, and I hadn’t noticed them before.

Immediately, I recognized a coffee-table-book that used to reside on my mother-in-law’s shelf, one of only four or five art books in their massive library.

(So it was memorable.)

The book is by one of my all-time-favorite artists: Andy Goldsworthy.

Yet somehow, I’d never picked it up before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in graduate school, I had to go into Manhattan one day to catch a film at an indie-cinema-house.

It was assigned: “Rivers and Tides,” about Andy Goldsworthy.

 

 

(I should give it a re-watch, because it’s so damn inspirational.)

The art in the film, and in this book, “Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature,” published by Abrams in 1990,  is among the most remarkable I’ve ever seen.

And I’m not alone.

Just yesterday, after I’d finished this review, my daughter picked up the book, flipped page-by-page, and it was like a blind person restored to sight.

She simply could not believe what she saw, continuously exclaiming, “What! How! How did he do that? Insane! What! How? I don’t even understand! Amazing! What? How did he do that?”

(And I’m not exaggerating. It went on for five minutes.)

To make art in nature, out of nature, that conjures the powerful feelings and emotions that nature engenders?

Simply genius.

 

 

 

 

 

Though he’s super-famous, in case you’re unfamiliar, Andy Goldsworthy uses everything from snow, ice, rocks, trees, leaves, sand, and decaying heron feathers, in locations as far flung as England, Wales, Scotland, Arizona, The North Pole, France and Japan.

He builds sculptures, or nature installations, and many (if not most,) are temporary.

So the photographs become the evidence; the record of art made for the moment, rather than for an audience of humans.

The execution, creativity, patience, and connection to the Zen spirit of the world, are breathtaking.

But the grounded, Down-to-Earth, whimsical magnificence Andy Goldsworthy projects, (in “Rivers and Tides,”) his general likability, adds to the enjoyment as well.

And it always boiled down to one scene for me. (Which became an in-joke with Jessie, when we lived in New York.)

In the film, the camera captures Andy laying on the ground, spread eagle, on the grass outside, along the road, and a kindly neighbor strolls up.

“Hey, Andy. What are you doing there,” the neighbor asks?

A fair question.

“Working,” he replies, with a grin on his face.

In the book, we see how he landed that particular investigation, as the outline of his human form is recorded on the Earth, with powders.

(It doesn’t get much better than that.)

 

 

 

 

 

The past few years, (when I’ve been able to travel,) I mostly lost the taste for hitting up the galleries and museums.

It felt a bit “been-there-done-that,” as if I’d seen so much, over the years, that all the art began to blend together.

I forgot just how powerful it can be to experience the type of greatness that makes you want to strive for more.

(To leave a mark, even if it’s a small one.)

The last 2.5 years have felt like 10, and I don’t want to get old too quickly.

Exhaustion, cynicism, and horrific-world-events can rightly get us down.

But this book, from my Alzheimer’s-ridden mother-in-law, Bonnie, rekindled my passion to see great art again.

(What a gift.)

See you next week!

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Beth Galton

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

 

Today’s featured artist:  Beth Galton

 

Memory of Absence

So much of who we are is passed from generation to generation—our genes, our behaviors—molded by our parents and grandparents. My mother’s relationship with her mother was fraught with difficulties and these same dynamics were passed onto me. In 2017, my mother and father—who had not lived together for 50 years—died within three days of each other. I discovered many artifacts from my life of which surprised me, and I had no memory of.

In this series, I combined botanicals with objects and photographs that I found, in order to convey a sense of memory and loss. The organic and volatile botanicals serve as a reminder of the ever-changing nature of memory and emotions—an unstable and profoundly unreliable process.

My practice is to compose and photograph botanicals with the collected objects. I then print out the image and create yet another still life by layering more objects with the print and re-photograph it. This creates a further sense of the complex and layered emotions found within family dynamics.

 

To see more of this project, click here

Instagram

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

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

 

The Daily Edit – Hans Johnson

Photographer: Hans Johnson

Heidi: How did this project align with your personal objectives as a photographer?
Hans: I have been shooting as an action/adventure photographer for a long time.  For the most part my work has been pretty much the same as a lot of photographers in that world (only from a Midwest perspective).  Action adventure, generally backcountry based, generally young white males etc.

14 years ago, my wife and I became parents of Tae, a Korean adoptee.  Being a part of an inter-racial family just blew apart all that I knew in my world.  I have literally been a part of or working in the Outdoor Industry since I was 12.  Yet, the idea that the industry was literally doing nothing to portray people of color in any way shape or form became starkly evident to me as I was trying to inspire my own kid to love being outside like my wife and I do.  Where his role models? I wrote about this in this piece for The Adventure Journal.  Yet as a White Male I felt my voice was irrelevant, mainly because I was the very image of the problem people of color were dealing with in the industry, I didn’t know how to be an ally. Then I realized as a photographer I could use the space I was being given to make change by taking images of BIPOC folks who were out getting after it.  I had a choice on where I focused my lens, and I had the contacts within the industry to make those images public.  Mind you this was all well before the murder of George Floyd which has since spurred more change and more energy in this realm.

 

The Outdoor Industry and the cycling industry at the time kept saying (and still is saying) why are there not more BIPOC folks in Outdoor Recreation. The fact is that they are out there in force and always have been, the industry just wasn’t committing to telling the real narrative. Again, as a straight White Male I also realized I was what BIPOC and LGBTQ folks feared and that I must build long term, trusting and lasting relationships with my subjects long before I even got to the idea of creating images of them in their play spaces outdoors.

So, I did and am doing, just that, and I have made it a point to get out of my own insular space in white society and started reaching out to folks and building relationships and building friends with people who I now consider to be family, both to me and to my son. I am extremely thankful to my friends who took the time and energy to work with me and educate me and to just be my friends.That’s a long answer to a short question, but when I was asked to take Alexandera’s portrait, I was honored, I was humbled, and I was also nervous because it’s a lot of responsibility to help tell a story as important as hers is and I also knew the length I had traveled to try and do this work in way that honored her.

Tell us about this portrait.
I had exactly an hour or so to take Alexandera’s portrait.  Originally, we had more time to do it, but weather kept shutting us down.  Finally, we had a day with decent light, and we went for it.  The only issue was that it was also the first day of the Wild Rice Season and Alexandera had to be ricing later that morning.  Wild Rice is the foundation of the Anishinaabe world view, its importance to their culture can’t be overstated. So, I was under pressure to find some locations and fast.

We were talking a lot about Wild Rice and its importance to her and to her tribe. We were also talking a lot about her challenges with making a living at cycling and her need to find brands that supported her but that also met her need to be true to her identity and her values as a Native person.  

How much time did you ride with Alexandera before you pulled out the camera?
We rode up a pretty good climb, maybe the biggest climb in Duluth, which may sound funny to say, but we have some decent vertical here due to Lake Superior.  Alexandera rides a singlespeed, and her main bike was down for repairs and the bike she rode had a pretty big gear, but she hammered it all the same!  We were warmed up ha! Her with her big gear and me with my big camera pack!

Did you scout the location prior to the shoot?
I did scout the location before we shot it.   I am lucky in the fact that the trail system we shot on was my own personal baby as trails advocate in town.  One of the trails is even named after me. I was intimate with the setting.  That said, I did go in the week before to look at my locations, sun angles and foliage to make sure I could get a decent set of frames when we met.  Shooting in deep canopy is an issue photographers must grapple with here in the Midwest and over time I have come to grips with how to use it in my favor and being intentional is rule number one.

What do you hope your photography does to remind folks that this area as an outdoor mecca and not a flyover country and flat as a board?
This is essentially my main goal as a photographer.  I have lived all over the world.  Europe, Rocky Mountains, East coast.  Yet I have always come home to where I am from. That’s because my extended family is here, its because I love Midwesterners and Minnesotans in general because of their soft-spoken attitudes and because I find it visually to be a really amazing place.  I always say that there is discrimination and stereotyping of people, but there is also discrimination and stereotyping of place.

The Midwest has been beaten down and ignored forever and especially when it comes to adventure sport.  My goal is to dispel that and to engage my viewer to the point where they can’t ignore the visual fascination they have with an image I have produced.  That’s not easy to do.  As all photographers know, your eye sees one thing and the lens another and sometimes even the most insanely cool spot comes out boring as hell in an image.

I must work doubly hard to collect images that can play on a national stage. The reality is that there are some amazing zones here, many that are threatened by development, mining and all the other outside forces that could destroy these places and experiences forever.  They need to be highlighted.  Both to build a national constituency, but also amazingly to prove to local Midwesterners that they live somewhere special, and they need to protect it.  Sounds crazy right?  But again, the marketing out there has so built this idea that to be adventurous you need to be in the mountains, right? Nope.


What are you up to these days?
Surviving ha!  While I would love to say that photography is my one gig, that is not true.  I work a full-time job as the Engagement Director for The Minnesota Land Trust (which involves a lot of photography!) plus being a husband and the dad of a 14-year-old kid during a pandemic and during one of the most politically divisive eras of our country.  Plus trying to shoot at a level that keeps my skills honed and my name in the photo game. This summer my focus is on shooting in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  I am on the board of a nonprofit that is fighting the proposed mine near the Wilderness, and I am collecting as much content as I can for them to utilize it for social media and other campaigns.  I leave next week on a 7-day solo canoe trip into the wilderness.  Its super minimalist which is a great challenge.  I am going to try and shoot the whole thing with a Canon G5X MKII point and shoot to save weight.  It’s not the camera but the person who aims it right??  Right??  This is a continuation of some work I did with the brand Hyperlite and the Provo Brothers (Ian and Neil) last summer.
I also just finished with a week of shooting with poet/writer Riverhorse Nakadate, a Patagonia Ambassador for Flyfishing, the gig was for the Flyfish Journal.  We had a gas and quite an adventure which included bikes, rafts (swimming -unintentionally) and flyfishing in SE Minnesota’s driftless area.  While MTB and cycling have been my jam for decades, flyfishing has taken on a big focus in my work as it’s something I feel is supremely underrepresented in Minnesota and yet is unique and world class.  I have been grinding away at this work for such a long time and achieving my goals slowly but surely.  The success has been glacial but to date I have been in most of the big outdoor publications and building a solid brand, but to me the biggest success is that noted outdoor personalities like the Provo Brothers or Riverhorse are starting to come to Minnesota to work with me and that is the biggest indicator or success that I can imagine and the one I am most proud of.

This Week in Photography: Say What?

 

 

 

Let’s be real.

 

To keep this weekly column going, for 10.5 years, I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

If I were an actor, the “self” I share would be considered a character, like when Jerry Seinfeld played a “version” of Jerry Seinfeld on his hit 90’s television show, “Seinfeld.”

 

Image courtesy of Seinfeld Memes

 

But I’m not an actor.

I’m a blogger.

So people assume the “me” I’m sharing is authentic, whole, and thoroughly considered.

Really, it’s two out of three, as I present a slightly more daring, absurd, and risky side of myself here, for entertainment purposes.

 

Why am I telling you today?

Good question.

 

 

 

 

 

Last week, I wrote a passionate long-read, taking down all of San Francisco as “uncool,” due to decades of unabated gentrification, rabid capitalism, raging income inequality, and failed public policy.

I held nothing back, and was heavily motivated by the heavenly metaphors embedded in the human shit I kept finding at my feet.

(Not subtle, those metaphor gods, when I was in San Francisco.)

But the “aging hipster calls whole city uncool, as way of reifying his own cool status” narrative…

I get it.

So when I got called out on Twitter by my buddy Matjaz Tancic, who last I checked was in a LITERAL FUCKING LOCKDOWN in Shanghai, I heard what he said.

There is more to every story, and unless you’re running around late at night, seeing what the parties look like, listening to the bands, checking out the underground galleries, it’s not exactly fair to judge.

 

 

I hear you, Matjaz!

So I admitted my “take” was a little reductive.

But I’m claiming the columnist’s privilege:

Sometimes, we see a particular narrative form in our heads, think it over for a bit, and then write it up as it happened, because it makes for such a great story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matjaz was not alone in his critique, though.

Over the many years of this column, one person has kept reading all along, while consistently sticking his neck out to share opinions in the comment section.

(It’s like having a super-fan, but one who cares enough about books, ideas, and photography that he’s willing to add his perspective, making the article better for the extra chunks of wisdom at the end.)

This person is Stan Banos, based in San Francisco, and I’ve certainly given him random shout outs over the years.

In my opinion, Stan is always intelligent, considered, historical, and contextual in his commenting.

I don’t know if I’ve ever disagreed with anything he’s written, in all my years.

His karma is good by me.

So when Stan commented that I need to get out of my SF bubble, even in jest, I felt it was worth hearing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine my surprise, then, when I went to the book stack this morning.

I found a package from May 2021, and it seemed the one for today.

But just below it was a Blurb book, which must have come in around the same time.

Certainly, it had been here so long I didn’t know what it was, and the post-mark was beyond-smudged.

There was no way to know exactly how old the book was, but it felt right.

So I opened the Blurb book box, (with the smudged postmark,) and would you believe what I found?

A beautiful, little production named “SAY WHAT?” by none other than Stan Banos himself.

Perfect!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I treated his work with the same critical eye I would anyone else’s, but it made me think of a theory I just shared with a client the other day.

“Remember,” I said,  “a book is an experience.”

From start to finish.

So as artists, we need to plan every aspect of that viewing experience.

How long does it take to get through?

Where does it lag?

How can we keep the viewer’s attention locked in our story, whatever it may be?

This book, “SAY WHAT?”, totally nailed that for me.

It’s short, poignant, focused, and uses text very well.

Good job, Stan!

 

 

 

 

 

The cover and page 1 show us images of graffiti in an urban environment, and sure enough, that’s the theme.

Page 2 has a concise, direct statement from the artist, (Stan,) theorizing there are declarations of need, cries for help, hidden messages, and occasional wit encoded on the streets and super-structures, if only one would take the time to look.

Again and again, we see images of messages; things I would have walked past.

Things so many of us HAVE walked past.

But not Stan.

 

 

 

 

 

Collecting these photos in one sequence, as a book, is a home run for me.

It’s lovely.

At one point, we see an image of some sort of screed, or manifesto up on a wall, by Zoe Leonard, and after I squinted to read it, realized it was printed right there for me, below.

Page after page, I took time to read each piece of graffiti, and then imagined the photographer, walking slowly around his neglected city.

It made me think about how quickly I rushed up and down the hills.

How quickly I rushed to judgement.

Because this book is cool, and Stan’s cool.

So there must be other great things still going on in San Francisco.

Right?

Mea culpa.

See you next week.

 

To purchase “SAY WHAT?” click here 

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review.