The Art of the Personal Project: Dirk Anschutz

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:  Dirk Anschutz

 

I am the father of a young boy and the only child of a single mom.  I’ve never met my dad.

I’ve been traveling around the US to take portraits of fathers and sons from many different cultural, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. The different ways you can grow up in this country are astounding but many challenges for fathers and sons and the love between them are still the same.

The most basic role of a father is to protect his child while also allowing the kid to learn and grow by failing and getting hurt (but not too much).  It’s a constant balancing of preaching caution and abandon. On top of that there’s the expected guidance in inter-personal, scholastic, tech-related, sexual (dear Lord, no!), and financial behavior.  Plus installing a basic value system for dealing with a constantly changing world.  What could possibly go wrong?

Obviously, the father-son-relationship is incredibly influential for both.  Many times, a son will follow in his dad’s footsteps, and most dads have to make big life changes to accommodate their children.  Children might have to return the favor when their parents grow old.

I’ve tried to capture all of these things in my images.  But the glue that holds everything together is the love between a parent and a child.  It’s primal and fundamental.  If it’s not there for whatever reason, it’s probably hard to have a good lifelong relationship and it’s probably hard for the child to develop all the tools needed for a good life.  If the love is there, there’s a good chance it will carry father and son through all their difficulties and shortcomings.  Probably everybody who had a child can recall the feeling when your baby’s lying on your chest.  It’s glorious and terrifying all at the same time and it really changes your life forever.

Andrew & Homer, Brooklyn, NY, 2016

Homer is 9 days old in this image and I think you can see here the foundation of everything. The love between a parent and a child is so primal and fundamental. If it’s not there for whatever reason it’s probably hard to have a good life-long relationship and it won’t be easy for the child to develop all the tools he or she needs for a good life. If the love is there, there’s a good chance it will  carry father and son through all their difficulties and shortcomings. Probably everyone who has had a child can remember the feeling of your baby lying on your chest. It’s glorious and terrifying all at the same time and it changes your life forever.

Fung Kit (Michael) & Wing-Hong (Andrew), Mountain View, CA, 2023

Fung Kit immigrated from China to study in the US. He stayed on and became an engineer for Hershey’s Chocolate in Pennsylvania. He and Andrew live now in separate apartments at the same complex in Silicon Valley where Andrew is the founder of a tech startup. Andrew invited his friends Brian and Louisa for a game of mahjong with his dad. (Fung Kit mopped the floor with the young people.)

Jason & Chester, Jupiter, FL, 2018

Jason is a firefighter and surfer. He’s very concerned about safety in his professional life, but as is apparent in this image, he’s also confident in his physical abilities. Like everything in life and fatherhood, it’s about balance.

Jonathan & Benjamin, Randolph, NJ, 2021

Jonathan is a lawyer who is very passionate about hunting. He is the owner of a deer hunting camp in the Poconos. While Benjamin is still too young to go on a proper hunt with his dad, Jonathan is teaching him how to track deer, look for signs of wildlife in the woods and search for antlers that the bucks shed.

Wyatt & Mike, West Point, NY, 2019

Mike graduated from West Point 30 years before Wyatt. He spent 4 years in the Army before he rejoined civilian life. He returned to West Point to celebrate Wyatt’s graduation from the military academy.

Paul & Sonny, San Francisco, CA, 2023

Paul is a craftsman who works with artists to build their creations. He and Sonny went through a very rough time, Paul’s dad passed away and their family dog died while Sonny’s mom had a life threatening health crisis. To keep themselves occupied and grounded they’ve built things like a soapbox car together. Here Sonny is practicing his welding skills in his dad’s workshop.

Paula & Jonathan, Brooklyn, NY, 2018

Paula is a father who transitioned from male to female when she was 61 years old. Both she and Jonathan are pastors. Paula, when she was a man, was a televangelist and ran a mega-church on Long Island. After she transitioned she lost all her jobs with that church and she now leads a small congregation in Colorado. Jonathan, who is the pastor of a church in Brooklyn, wrote a book about the experience of his dad becoming a woman (it wasn’t easy). They gave a TED talk together shortly after our shoot.

Raul & Mario & Salomon & Ramon, Abiquiu, NM, 2021

Salomon was one of the founders of the Abiquiu Volunteer Fire Department. His son Mario is also a volunteer in the same department, Raul is a professional firefighter in Los Alamos, and Ramon is a retired professional firefighter for the Navy in Virginia. They all live in Abiquiu now.

Voodah & Rahmel, Brooklyn, NY, 2019

Voodah is an artist who collaborates with his son in a series of videos. He taught Rahmel meditation and encourages him to meditate often to create a space for himself in a crowded life.

 

To see more of this project, click here

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world.  She has been involved in the photography and illustration advertising and in-house corporate industry for decades.  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.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

The Art of the Personal Project: Brian Pineda

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:  Brian Pineda

In my images of Muay Thai kickboxers, I traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, capturing these athletes at various training camps and stadiums where they compete. This project captures the dedication, rich tradition, and vibrant pageantry of Muay Thai kickboxers, revealing a world where physical prowess and spiritual depth converge.

My fascination with Muay Thai stems from witnessing the unwavering commitment of these athletes. With my images I aim to show the rigorous training, the moments of silent contemplation, and the dynamic energy of these athletes. The fighters’ expressions, the intricate details of their ceremonial attire, and the intense action sequences all tell a story of honor, respect, and the pursuit of excellence.

This project is a visual homage to the athletes who dedicate their lives to mastering Muay Thai, preserving its legacy for future generations. It is an invitation for viewers to witness the beauty and discipline of this ancient tradition, celebrated in the heart of Bangkok.

The ceremonial rituals, the intricate details of their attire, and the dynamic movements in the ring are all captured to convey the beauty and discipline inherent in Muay Thai. This project is about the spirit and passion that these athletes have for their craft.

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 advertising and in-house corporate industry for decades.  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.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

The Daily Edit – Joao Lutz: Baptism

Documentary Program at the International Center of Photography
Joao Lutz: Baptism

 

Heidi: You came to NYC as a filmmaker with a handful of international clients. What drew you to the Documentary Program at the International Center of Photography?
Joao: My transition from film to stills was driven by a desire to explore a different form of storytelling. As a filmmaker, I was used to working with motion and sound to convey narratives. However, I became increasingly fascinated by the challenge of telling compelling stories through single frames and the magic space that breathes in the gaps between them. Photography offered me a new way to capture moments and emotions more intimately and immediately

In filmmaking, I often create stories, but with photography, I had the opportunity to discover and reveal the unexpected narratives that exist in the world around us. This element of surprise and discovery is exciting. The amazement of realizing situations a documentary project can take you is extremely fulfilling.
I was drawn to ICP because it provided an opportunity to deepen my understanding of visual storytelling through real-life narratives. The program’s emphasis on developing a cohesive narrative through still images resonated with my desire to hone my skills. Although I transitioned to still photography, I haven’t stopped working as a filmmaker. I continue to pursue both fields. I believe they don’t have to be set apart and are exceptional tools to create rich, multidimensional approaches to storytelling.

How did the Baptism project come about?
Baptism began from my fascination with the resilience and dedication of open water swimmers in Brighton Beach, New York, during the winter months. Growing up in Brazil, I spent most of my time on a farm or in a small town by the ocean. When I moved to New York, the beach became a place of comfort and familiarity. It made sense for my first documentary project to focus on a location where I felt somewhat at home. The project involved waking up at 3:30 AM two to three times a week to be at the beach by 6:00 AM to photograph these swimmers.

Initially, I was drawn by the extreme nature of their practice and the stark contrast between the bustling city of New York and the serene, spiritual connection these swimmers found with nature at Brighton Beach. This juxtaposition of city life and nature’s tranquility fascinated me. As I spent more time with them and engaged in deeper conversations, I realized it was much more than that. The project evolved to capture a community of people who come together to find spiritual solace and connection in the water.

Was it difficult to connect with the group of swimmers during their swim ritual?
Initially, there was a gradual process of building comfort and familiarity, both for myself and the swimmers. As with any natural human connection, it took time for us to get to know each other and for me to understand their ritual and stories. By consistently showing up and respectfully observing, I gradually gained their trust and became more familiar with their practices. Engaging in conversations, sharing my intentions, and showing genuine interest in their experiences helped build a rapport. Once they understood my goal was to document their journey authentically, they became more open and enthusiastic about participating in the project. I needed to approach the project with sensitivity and respect for their personal and often meditative practice.

How did the ocean inform your photography; what did you learn from this project?
The ocean and the elements played a significant role in shaping my approach to this project. The ever-changing conditions of the ocean and the weather influenced the mood and composition of my photographs. When I started, it was cold but still sunny, and as time went on, it became cloudy, snowy, and extremely windy. Adapting to these conditions was an incredible learning experience. I also began getting into the water myself, which helped me connect with the swimmers on a deeper level. By putting myself in their shoes and feeling the cold water on my skin, I gained an understanding of their experience. This project reinforced the importance of being present and responsive to the environment, allowing the natural elements to guide the visual storytelling. Most importantly, I learned that the practice for these swimmers is not just about physical endurance but a spiritual journey through their connection with the ocean and their surroundings.

What made the most impact for you at ICP? What surprised you?
The most impactful aspect of my time at ICP was the exposure to diverse perspectives and the rigorous critique process. Engaging with a community of passionate photographers and educators pushed me to refine my vision and technique. Coming from a filmmaking background, where I worked for five years, I had never worked on a documentary project. Moving to New York and starting ICP, where I had to work on a long-term documentary project, was challenging. I was used to creating stories rather than finding them in the world.

I struggled with going around and finding stories, which made it challenging. However, jumping into the “Baptism” project made sense because of its connection to my background. Once I opened myself to the project and trusted the process I was fascinated. I felt lucky to have access to such a new world. The more I do it, the more grateful I am to have a camera. It almost feels like a free pass or a passport to stories that I would never be able to see or live.

I was pleasantly surprised by the collaborative spirit and the depth of feedback I received at ICP. The opportunity to learn from industry professionals and peers alike was invaluable. The critiques, though challenging at times, helped me grow as an artist and understand the importance of narrative and emotional connection in my work.

How did the portfolio reviews go?
The portfolio reviews were an enriching experience. I received valuable feedback that validated my efforts and provided me with new directions for my work. Reviewers appreciated the storytelling and visual metaphors in my “Baptism” project, and I gained insights into developing and presenting my work.

How did you prepare for the reviews?
To prepare, I curated my portfolio carefully, ensuring it showcased a cohesive narrative and represented my artistic voice. A significant part of my preparation involved studying who my reviewers were, and understanding their backgrounds, interests, and the kind of work they do. This allowed me to adapt what I showed and how I presented my work to better connect with each reviewer. Knowing and planning how to engage with each person was crucial since every reviewer comes from a different background and interests.

What’s next for you?
I plan to continue exploring subcultures and communities that come together for unusual reasons. My work focuses on capturing these unique groups and the beautiful stories that emerge from their interactions. One of my ongoing projects, “Wheelie,” documents the city stunt bikers in New York City. I’m excited to dive deeper into this project and continue discovering and sharing the compelling narratives within these communities. I also look forward to potential collaborations and assignments that challenge and inspire me to grow further as a photographer.

The Art of the Personal Project: Dana Damewood

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: Dana Damewood

I grew up in the town of Wahoo, NE, population 2,000. I lived on the family farm and went to a one room school in the middle of a corn field. When we moved into town, I spent most of my time at my grandmother’s house. When she decided to move at the age of 97, I wanted to preserve the feeling and memory of the space that always felt like home to me. I remember the way the light came in through her windows and loved that nothing changed there as long as I can remember. I used my vintage Rolleiflex camera to photograph her home and some of the places around town that once seemed mundane but now have great meaning for me.

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 advertising and in-house corporate industry for decades.  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.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

The Art of the Personal Project: Kate Medley

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 Medley

This body of documentary photographs examines the role of gas stations throughout the South, using these spaces as a lens to study this complex region, the people who live here, and how the populations and priorities of these people are shifting. In a time when our politics are increasingly polarized, our neighborhoods segregated, and our rhetoric strained, still nearly everyone regularly passes through these same commercial spaces. We come together here almost out of necessity, or at least convenience. My images give particular due to the culture and people in these communities—the workers who sustain these gas stations and the customers who rely on them for fuel, food, essential goods, and community. This project puts expressed emphasis on emerging immigrant foodways launching from gas station kitchens—the cuisines of one’s native country and how that is merging with more traditional flavors of the American South, shifting the very definition of what is Southern food. I highlight the egalitarian nature of the gas station, integral to the lives of people in every socioeconomic bracket in the South, especially in rural areas. Spanning more than ten years, this project touches down in 11 southern states, documents more than one hundred gas stations, and features a diverse mix of portraits, scene-setters, details, and documentary images.

To see more of this project, click here

Available for purchase, click here

Instagram

I feature personal projects so your work can be seen.  It is so nice to see this project get so much press (I found her in a CNN article and reached out to her). This is the press she has gotten already for this personal project https://www.katemedley.com/news  

 

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 advertising and in-house corporate industry for decades.  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.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

The Daily Edit – The Mirror Wall: Ben Ditto


 

Patagonia Spring Journal

Photographer: Ben Ditto
Read the story here

I caught up with Ben Ditto after Patagonia featured his work in the Spring 24 Journal, he was currently in the center of Nevada at a little cliff he’d been climbing on for a few years – and was kind enough to share a few thoughts- the best office is a mobile one.

You have a category on your site called, The Wild Bunch, which looks like a good time. Who are these fellows and how did this trusted merry band come to life?
Ben: Myself, Nico Favresse,  his brother Olivier, and Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll were dubbed by Captain Bob Shepton before our 2010 Greenland big wall and sailing adventure for which we won the Piolets d’Or. Bob must have seen some early videos from Nico and Sean such as the ‘Power of Jam‘ and ‘Free South Africa ‘in which there was a lot of music and light-hearted antics all while sending the gnar.

Previous to that trip we had been climbing together for years, initially meeting Sean while staying at Miguel’s Pizza at the Red River Gorge in the early 2000’s.  Visitors can see an old newspaper clipping on the wall where I’m walking a slack-line, and Sean is in the background.

Iceland has some of the best public playgrounds for Serious training for Sean (L) and Nico (R)

You recently were on a team that headed to Greenland, the objective was a 4,000 ft slab of granite: The Mirror Wall – how did that come about and what made you say yes to this ambitious trip?
Well, this was to be our third trip together sailing in Greenland and climbing big walls, so when the offer arose it was hard to say no to. Again, we have Bob Shepton to thank for instigating the 2023 trip to Greenland. Bob, in his 80s, has long since sold his sailboat, the Dodo’s Delight, but he’s not out of the adventure game yet. Turns out Bob had met a young British skipper named Mike Brooks
who owns the steel sailboat, Cornelia. Mike is a keen adventurer and offered to take our group of climbers to the Arctic.  After a few phone calls daring each other to go, we decided to try to climb the mirror wall.  

I stay in touch with Nico and Sean and all their exploits but it’s been years since I’ve done an expedition with them. However, I wasn’t too surprised to get the call to join them as the photographer on the trip. It does take a special sort of appreciation for adventure, climbing, sailing, and hardship.  It was tricky deciding whether or not to join this expedition, but ultimately my summer was free and I was psyched to go.  

Since our other expeditions, my work and life have taken on a different form.  For most of my 20’s and 30’s I was constantly on the move, now I’m usually staying closer to home.  Part of me thinks that if I’d had other work during that same time, I might’ve missed out on all the good fun we had in Scoresby Sound.  

Previous expeditions to Mirror Wall used helicopters for the approach, you guys green-pointed instead. This round-up isn’t for the faint of heart.

  • 7 days of prepping the boat in Scotland
  • 16 days of Sailing and 5 days waiting on a storm in the Faroe Islands, then another 14 days in Iceland waiting for the ice pack to clear.
  • 10 days of strenuous hiking, and 9 days of challenging climbing
  • How much pre-prep goes into a trip like this? (both physical and mental) 

Ha ha yes, the stats are pretty dizzying, especially when you consider we went through all that to climb approximately 1/2 of a big wall FA.  I lost track along the way but there must have been over 30 glacial river crossings to add to the list.  We all stay in good climbing shape, covering all the bases of hiking and physical strength you need to do an expedition like this.  But there’s a lot of it you can’t train for. The things that take a beating are your feet from the jagged glacial surface and your hips from wearing backpacks and harnesses.  A non-climber would probably wonder why to bother going to these difficult-to-access places; let alone humanly powered. Packing three months of food and climbing equipment for seven people is no small task. We have Nico to thank for accomplishing that task. We usually share a few spreadsheets and take care of finances on TriCount.

Cornelia and the lads sailed from Scotland in June and picked me up along the North Coast of Iceland, before continuing North to Scorseby Sound.  For our team, part of the experience is overcoming uncertainty and being in the moment that sailing provides.  We never knew if the pack ice would provide passage until we pushed into it.  Similarly, we didn’t know what the Mirror Wall would yield until we started climbing.

Sean at the helm while crossing Denmark Straight among the first icebergs of the trip.


I’m forever impressed with the athletes who mastermind these missions – however, the photographers are equally as impressive. You’re on a dual track – athlete and creative, how hard is that to manage?
I think everyone’s career is balanced with everything else that’s happening. I’m not suggesting that being a climbing athlete is the same as being a parent, for example, but similarly, I have to juggle a few priorities.  

I find myself operating in distinct modes. I’m either a photographer or a climber on any given day, but I rarely mix the two unless work requires it.  You know, as photographers were constantly multitasking to solve problems and it’s nice to be able to simplify and just go climbing now and again.  

 What was it like to photograph the “featureless, shield of granite?” for the first time – what was running through your mind?
Approaching the wall I found it impossible to avert my gaze.  It was like a puzzle to solve:  where is the line we will climb? Where are the cracks in the mirror?!

As a climber, I have a deep sense of appreciation for climbing at the highest levels.  Watching Sean pour everything into this line on the mirror wall was pretty much the greatest show on earth, and I was the only one who could see it.  The photographs (and footage) are my way of sharing this performance with the world.  

How much camera gear did you carry and was it hard to shoot in the frigid conditions, any gear failures, this area is known as the “Arctic El Cap”
On the boat, I took two camera bodies, two drones, a bunch of batteries, hard drives and cards. But for the actual load carrying and big wall ascent, I had to pair everything down to one camera 2 lenses, and one drone.

It pains me to say it, but I had a problem with my DJI drone while we were up on the wall.  Due to our remote and un-connected location, I couldn’t log into my account and my drone would only fly a couple hundred feet away from me at any time.  It was a pretty frustrating feeling because I had tried to find a workaround for the DJI log-in issue and ultimately couldn’t find anything that would work. 

Can you tell us the average temps?
We were on land most of August and sometimes on the load carries it would be very warm, which was good because of all the water crossings.  It seemed impossible we’d see a polar bear in those temperatures.  ( we didn’t see any).  

The wall faces North and only gets a couple of hours of sun each day, which can feel pretty nice.  However, in the shade average temps hovered just below freezing most of the time.  

Looking back on the trip now, what comes up for you?
On an expedition like that, there are innumerable challenges we’re forced to face each day.  However, with time, most of that stuff fades into the background and I’m left feeling lucky to experience such an incredibly wild place with an amazing group of characters.  

How long have you lived in Bishop and how has that influenced your photography?
I moved to Bishop in 2010 from SLC. Ultimately, I chose to live close to the mountains rather than close to work or clients.  I still travel for work, it just takes a half day longer to get to an international airport.  

However, The Eastern Sierra is a desirable place for productions of all sorts and we see everything from commercials to feature films shot nearby.  For those shoots, my work has transitioned into location management, but I often wear several other hats.  It’s always appreciated when a producer understands the value a local can bring when working in a faraway place.  

How long have you been working on the Great Basin project?
While studying photojournalism at the University of Utah in the early 2000’s I became aware of ranchers in the Great Basin who were fighting against the SNWA ( southern Nevada water authority) to keep their water rights secure from exportation to Vegas. 

This story is still unfolding.


What excited you about studio photography? It’s the antithesis of raw nature.
In college, I assisted a product photographer (shout out to Butch Adams!) where I learned to love lighting portraits and products.  Our property in Bishop includes a commercial office building where I keep my studio. It’s great to have a place where I can make a big mess and then leave it for the night without anyone caring.

As a yearbook photographer in High School, I learned that a camera was my ticket to freedom.  With a photo assignment in my pocket, I could wander the halls, leave school early, and generally be on my program. Climbing is also known as ’the freedom of the hills’ so really it’s a perfect combo for me.  

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Geert Detaeye

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: Geert De Taeye

In this photo series, I embark on a journey through inspiring locations that have the power to ignite the imagination. Guided by the virtual lens of Google Street View, I find myself wandering through the digital corridors of the world, embarking on endless virtual walks. Like a spy plane soaring above, I observe the landscape from different angles, seeking out wooded areas, specific architectural styles, and mysterious structures that exude a captivating atmosphere. These locations serve as the foundation upon which I build my narrative.

However, the initial allure of these virtual discoveries often gives way to reality when I visit them in person. Changes in the environment or alterations to the building itself can leave me disappointed. Just as Google Street View captures a moment in time, my photographs also freeze a specific instance. Yet, in their evolution, they reveal the loss or emergence of certain character traits unique to each location.

Every place undoubtedly harbors a story, a history waiting to unfold. These stories become the seeds for my photo series. Approaching with an air of naivety, I engage with the owners of farms, houses, and other inhabited places. My initial intention is to seek permission to capture their residence in an image. With a genuine curiosity, I ask them to share a personal story that resonates deeply with their home. An event or memory that has left an indelible mark and is intimately intertwined with their dwelling. It’s as if I am selecting a still from a movie, immortalizing a moment frozen in time.

The residents’ personal stories form the foundation of my images. Drawing inspiration from their narratives, I create and stage new situations that expand upon the truth, allowing room for interpretation and exaggeration. The resulting photographs, The Nearest Truth, are grounded in true stories yet venture beyond simple documentation. Nothing is quite as it seems, as I aim to create a world where reality and imagination blur together, beckoning viewers to question their own perceptions.

Through this approach, I hope to uncover the hidden narratives embedded within these captivating locations. The fusion of personal stories, carefully constructed staging, and the inherent magic of photography allows me to delve into the depths of human experience and create visual moments that resonate on multiple levels.

In The Nearest Truth, reality dances with the imaginary, prompting viewers to delve deeper into their own interpretations and immerse themselves in a world where tales are told through the lens of a camera.

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 advertising and in-house corporate industry for decades.  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.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

The Art of the Personal Project: Gabriele Galimberti

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: Gabriele Galimberti

Half of all the firearms in the world that are owned by private citizens for non-military purposes are in the United States of America. The overall number, indeed, exceeds the Country’s population: 400 million weapons for 328 million people. This is not a coincidence, nor is it a market-related issue: it is rather a matter of “tradition” and constitutional guarantee established with the Second Amendment, ratified in 1791. This law reassures the inhabitants of the newly independent territories that their Federal Government would not be able, one day, to abuse its authority over them, and they are guaranteed the right to bear arms.

Two hundred and fifty years later, the Second Amendment is still ingrained in all aspects of American life.

Gabriele Galimberti has travelled to every corner of the United States – from New York City to Honolulu – to meet proud gun owners and photograph them and their weapons.
He has photographed people and guns in their homes and neighborhoods, even in places where no one would expect to find such arsenals.

These often-disturbing portraits, together with the accompanying stories based on interviews, provide an unexpected and uncommon view of what the institution of the Second Amendment really represents today.

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 advertising and in-house corporate industry for decades.  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.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

The Art of the Personal Project: Amy Selwyn

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:  Amy Selwyn

With mostly monochromatic hues and an aesthetic that hints at time’s passage, Amy Selwyn’s images invite the viewer into a realm where light and shadow dance in a slow and expressive duet. Each photograph, though distinct in its subject — a cathedral’s vault, a fog-wrapped forest, a solitary bathtub, and a church standing sentinel in a hazy expanse — shares a common thread of contemplation and consideration.

The cathedral’s arching lines reach toward the mysterious of the heavens. The forest scene, veiled in mist, speaks to the enigma of nature’s beauty, her paths less traveled, and the quiet introspection such a world elicits. The soft solitude of the bathtub, framed by morning light, mirrors the intimacy of moments when we confront (welcome?) the naked self.

Collectively, these works are a meditative exploration on solitude, reverence, and the search for meaning amidst the ephemeral. They stand, Selwyn believes, as odes to the quietness in life, the spaces between breaths, the silent stillness that defines our existence. Within these silent vignettes, the artist extends an invitation to pause, to reflect, and to find solace.

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 advertising and in-house corporate industry for decades.  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.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

The Art of the Personal Project: Billy Childress

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:  Billy Childress

 

Back in the heart of Mount Airy, nestled in the warmth of Flat Rock Baptist Church, my roots run deep. Generations of my family found solace within the church walls. It had been a while since I last stepped into the space that cradled both my upbringing and the final farewell to my beloved grandmother. During the pandemic, this town is where I found myself inhabiting Grandma’s old house which is only separated from the church by a graveyard. In the midst of this small town’s struggles, I heard all the churches were closing and it really struck a chord with me because in the south, churches don’t close during hard times. This is where people want to be in a time of need, worry and uncertainty. For his congregation, Pastor Rusty Reed came up with the innovative solution of a Drive-In Church service. While in the parking lot listening on an AM radio station, parishioner’s cars would transform into havens where all could tune in to the pastor’s comforting words. As I embarked on documenting this extraordinary chapter in my town’s history, I chose to capture it in black and white photography knowing the monochromatic palette would deepen the importance of the narrative. To me, black and white supports and keeps the story quality timeless and deep by stripping away the distractions of color. My goal was to emphasizes some of the simple, raw emotions of the community bound by faith during their moments looking for unity.

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 advertising and in-house corporate industry for decades.  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.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

The Daily Edit – Sofia Aldinio – San Jose de Gracia

An aerial view of San Jose de Gracia – a community nestled in the middle of the Pacific coast of Baja California, Mexico, July, 2021. The community claims that it was founded 200 years ago, but today there are only 21 members left living in the community. As with many other small communities, water is the reason why they were able to settle and live in their surroundings. However the rainy season has shifted, leaving their community without a waterfall flowing off the canyon as one used to.
An archival photo lies on an old table at Chancha’s house in San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, January 17th, 2021. The town was founded almost 200 years ago. With only 12 people left living in the community, and no younger up and coming generation, the community is at risk of disappearing, and along with it, their collective memory and tradition.
Juana sits across from her house in the center of the town, San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, February 2022. It was just recently that the community finally had internet during the daylight hours. The community now uses the central palapa to gather and use the internet.
All the young families migrated away from the community leaving empty classrooms and abandoned houses, San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, July 2021. The future of the younger generation is uncertain, pushing them to migrate to other cities, and even countries, finding new ways of life.
A reflection of Enrique’s hand, San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, February 2022. Enrique, 38, moved to the community two years ago with the hope to start a small clinic. His dad was born and raised in the community and is now teaching him about all the medicinal plants in the area.
Andrea Murillo, Irma Murillo and Norma Murillo (from left to right) share a kitchen to prepare a meal in San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, July 2021. The three of them were born and raised in the community, but only Norma still lives there. Norma’s daughter migrated for better income opportunities to the closest active community almost two hours away from San Jose de Gracia. While we sit and share a meal, they recount stories of how they used to make dresses, dance and always have big shared meals with the community.
Rumaldo harvested a pumpkin in San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, January 2022. He is the only one left in the community that dedicates most of his time to cultivate and harvest foods like they used to do in the past. He was born and raised in the community, but he is hoping to move to his own ranch in the near future.
Enrique holds a bunch of Ruda, the slang for this wild herb that grows in the area of San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, January, 2022. The plant was well used in the community to cure ear infections and for pesticide.
Garambullo can be found in the area of San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, July 2021. This sweet and small fruit, red or purple in color can be eaten or used for medicinal purposes.
Andrea Murillo, Irma Murillo and Norma Murillo share a kitchen to prepare a meal in San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, July 2021. The three of them were born and raised in the community, but only Norma still lives there. Norma’s daughter migrated for better income opportunities to the closest active community almost two hours away from San Jose de Gracia.
Crecencia was born, raised and had her own children in the community that once was her home, San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, July 2021. She moved away from the community to raise her own children, but in the Covid-19 pandemic she recently moved back to the community. Her knowledge for the area, especially the herbs and plants is irreplaceable. She wonders what will happen to the place once she dies and there is no younger generation to pass the land along to.
The kids cemetery in San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, January, 2021. The small community has at least four different cemeteries generationally identified. For vulnerable communities like this one, the risk to their members is the decreasing ability to sustain a living off the land as climate change continues to impress what seems like irreversible change in Baja California, Mexico.
A portrait of Miguel Murillo, in the land where he was born and still lives, San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, January, 2021. Miguel is leading the harvest of the mango crop, weaving old techniques in with his hope that mango production will revive the community by attracting more people.
Juana keeps warm in her house in San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, February 2022. Juana is the oldest of 11 brothers and sisters. She was born and raised in the community. “It was never this cold in the winter,” she said. The community have all been claiming the unusual temperatures that they have had.
An abandoned house in San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, July 2021. The population of San Jose de Gracia has been decreasing for the last few decades. A recent census shows how in the past 15 years it has lost 51 members of the community resulting in no younger generation to carry forward the traditions. Many houses have been abandoned, left to deteriorate into the landscape.
Ornaments are placed in a rock crack in the mountain next to the canyon in San Jose de Gracia, Baja California, Mexico, July 2021.

Photographer: Sofia Aldinio

Heidi: How did you learn about this community and the impacts of climate change on this once-thriving area?
Sofia: In 2020 while traveling through Baja California, Mexico with my family in our 1978 Mercedes Fire Truck. On New Year’s Day, we decided to commit to a 6+ hour dirt road to chase some waves. It was out there. We had never been so remote with the van. We were only 7 km away from the town, right at sunset, we were stoked and relieved that we were almost there, when we felt a huge pull in the van and we saw our back wheel driver side wheels sliding off the axle. We were then stuck for 3 days, on the side of the dirt road.

The local mechanics tried everything to avoid a four-hour drive by truck to the closest town to help us move the van. They finally worked their magic and we moved the van into town. We were stranded on the oceanfront and surf paradise for over six weeks.

In my time there, I was so curious about the area. In just a few days we met so many locals. At this time, I was already developing a story about the small fisherman communities and their struggles to sustain a living. On one of my daily trips to the beach, I met this one American woman who shared with me that I had to visit a community located 2 hours away. She then described it as something you will never find in Baja. I was immediately so curious and before you knew it I was driving with her to the community to spend an entire day out there. I was hooked. As soon as I got there it felt to me that I was witnessing the past in the present moment. I fell in love with the slow pace and the old tales you could feel hanging in the air. It was a sense that these are the last keepers of this community.
Most of my work focuses on climate impacts and I was already reporting on the fishing community and how they were being impacted by the changes in the weather patterns and climate change, I immediately started questioning how the canyon community was affected. I then learned about the lack of rain, the unpredictable weather changes, how this is affecting the existing crops, and how the one and most important life source, water, has been significantly decreasing over the years.

Despite the unforgiving landscape and harsh living conditions – you found pockets of hope and resilience – when did that begin to unfold?
Since my early 20’s I have been always roaming around in and out of small villages in Latin America. It really didn’t take long for me to discover the joy that there is in simply living in a community surrounded by nature. The joy comes from just feeling that nature provides everything you need. Many times I have encountered travelers or outsiders thinking that these communities are poor, the truth is that they don’t have much, but also they are content as they are. I don’t want to sound naive, I am aware that there is a lot of poverty and in many cases, people there do desire more and they end up choosing another way of life. It’s complicated. Today fewer people choose to live in this way, and most refuse it. But there is still a small portion of close communities that do enjoy it, and they do want to preserve their heritage. That’s what I found in San Jose de Gracia.

In the San Jose de Gracia community, the land has provided for them, daily. They also have a long relationship with it. They are part of it. Most of the people were born there and still live there to this day. The memories are everywhere, and I found this created so much joy in them. It goes full circle. The land provides and they will become a part of it, no matter what, and I call this resilience.

When did the photo project begin?
I have always been intrigued by slow-paced stories. The stories that are not often “dramatic”. Stories that can speak of daily life with ordinary people. I think there is so much to learn from them. The idea of photographing someone in a remote location who is simply living sounds extraordinary to me. Eugene Richards once said “People’s lives are revolutionary in little ways.” I love this. I love ordinary moments, just a detail that we can all relate to.

So, going back to the question, I think this photo project began even before I went to the community. When we lost our van wheels and were stranded, I just knew everything was happening for a reason. And then I heard about San Jose de Gracia and I just knew that was why I was there.

How did you approach storytelling within a community of just 21 people?
I often approach any story, assignment, or project the same way. I never make a plan. I like the feeling of seeing where the story and the photographs take me. I might walk into the story with an idea of how I wanted to approach this kind of work, but then the work starts showing me it’s way, and dictating how it should be displayed and photographed. There was one thing I knew, that I wanted to be collaborative. I wanted to provide the community a space to tell their story.

When I decided to focus on the intersection between climate and cultural heritage I immediately knew it would be beautiful to ask community members if they wanted to draw places in the community that have changed over time. On one of my trips I brought with me paper and a lot of pencils and what they drew was so beautiful. I was able to see into their past. They started drawing their memories. So what started with just photographs, ended up with archival materials, drawings, and photographs. Patience and time are key in projects like this. I think it is important to challenge the conventional way. When we let the people that we are photographing take part in it, something magical happens, a new depth is created.

Congratulations on your Pulitzer Center’s Eyewitness Photojournalism Grant – was that always a goal for this work?
When you spend several years working on a project, you need financial and community support. What I liked the most about the Pulitzer Center was the opportunity to be part of a community of storytellers and reporters. I was excited about the opportunity to share my work through their teaching programs. Over the past years, I have had some opportunities to share my work with students learning about climate change and Mexico here in the USA, which was so rewarding. It also gave me the chance to connect with other storytellers working on climate change stories.

How will this work evolve?
It is constantly evolving. It’s like every relationship.

Sometimes my mind works like a filmmaker. I am not your classic photographer who will come back with this one frame that encapsulates everything in one photograph. I do very much love this idea of a photo story. This series of photographs can compose a story. It is my favorite thing. I am obsessed with it. One image will reveal the next and so on. I also love audio. Today I am working on putting together a multimedia piece to combine the illustrations, photographs, audio, and a little bit of video. I like to experiment in my work. And I think in some cases photos are just not enough. I also like the idea of reaching a different audience by creating multimedia pieces.

How does memory and cultural preservation vs erasure come to life in this work for you?
To me, it comes to life when people experience the work and can walk away asking themselves what would it mean to keep losing places and communities like San Jose de Gracia. The purpose of the work is not trying to answer any questions, it is trying to ask them. Behind the purpose of this work is the question that has driven me forward.

Creating a multimedia exhibit where people can experience the tension of preservation and erasure through the real-time experience of San Jose de Gracia has always been my goal. A place where you can feel in real time – these memories fading, traditions being washed away, and all that is left is their land while at the same time witnessing the few struggling to keep living in their way.

I hope it inspires US audiences to view migration as a shared challenge and instills a desire to live more sustainable lifestyles and preserve wild lands, sacred traditions, and cultural heritage.

How has being a mother, a wife, and living a determined and considered life impacted your work?
Being a mother has been an extremely beautiful, and challenging journey. Especially because I decided to be a full-time freelance visual journalist at the same time, I became a mother. This was extremely painful because I wanted to be in the field for infinite hours. I have such a big pull for this work, but I couldn’t leave my kids behind. Sometimes I brought them with me. I did anything I could to keep working and being a present mother. It took everything out of me. I got burned out. I was up working most of the night and then up with the kids. It took a big hit in my relationship. I knew I didn’t have the luxury of time. So I told myself I needed to become good, really fast. I needed to be able to get the shot super fast. I trained myself to be very efficient in the field. I am not sure if I was always successful, but I know that when I’m shooting I’m working super hard to capture the right shots, not just a lot of shots.

The biggest way motherhood has impacted my work is that when I’m photographing someone, I am always aware that this person has a mother or children. Before photographing a person in a harsh situation, I always ask if it is worth it and how this photograph is going to benefit them. The way I feel and see photography today is not the same as it used to be before having kids. I think it is ok to challenge photography in this way. I love seeing all the new approaches by photographers to talk about migration, racism, climate change, and other topics.

During covid you took your kids traveling – nature was the classroom – tell us more about that.
My favorite memory was a trip we did in the Green River where we decided to follow the John Wesley Powell journey and the pioneers. It was so much fun. We bought a book and learned about their journey, went to the museum, and took the kids on some multi-day kayak trips in the Green River learning about their journey and what it looked like to that trip back to them. It’s my favorite memory from that time. I still dream about paddling more sections of the Green River with them!

Photographers On Dealing With Stolen Images

Here’s how photographers recommend dealing with stolen images.

Always register your images with the Copyright Office which will then allow you to collect a maximum of $150,000 for each infringement if it was willful.

Several software companies are recommended for tracking stolen images and getting settlements.

Ultimately a lawyer will get you the best settlement and take less for their fee.

Ideally you register your images within 3 months of publication. You can still register after the infringement which allows you to sue in federal court. Registration also gives you the ability to collect attorney fees which raises the stakes considerably when you consider the infringer paying for both attorneys and damages.

@cameron.davidson.photo
I use Visual Rights Group to track-down image theft and they have been very successful for me.

@scottseriophotos
ImageRights for me since 2015.

@catebrownphoto
There’s ImageRights, Visual Rights Group, and Copycat Legal to name a few

@charliornett
I’d recommend checking into Copyright Agency

and Pixsy:

@mscottbrauer
Pixsy has been ok, for me. Most settlements have been for a few grand, and a few have been between 10k and 20k. I register all my work, which helps get higher settlements

@tinacci
Pixsy has worked for me over the years though the process is definitely very slow.

Others report that pixsy drops cases regularly, settles for less, and if they use an outside attorney you get 25%.

Many recommend using pixsy to track infringement then engage a lawyer to settle:

@david_paul_larson
There’s been many of these companies over the years. You’re getting peanuts to what a real lawyer would get you. The max my lawyer takes is 40%. Usually about 30%

Here are recommendations for IP lawyers:

@toddspoth
Look up attorney David Deal and tell him I sent ya! Thank me later!

@laurengrabelle
Higbee & Associates is reputable

@meredith_bruner
@mad.ip.law @bmadanat as an intellectual property law recommendation.

@robertfreundlaw I believe handles this.

@chrismurrayproductions
@mpkelley_ Mike Kelley has a website called @apalmanac .
They are a treasure chest of information. If you reach out to AP Almanac they can refer you to the right attorneys. Super legit.

@sampson.photography.fl
Attorney Rachel Brenke (@thelawtog) handles this type of work

@brentdanielsphoto
Imagerights has a great IP lawyer in Australia

The Art of the Personal Project: The Rathkopfs

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:  The Rathkopfs

“Maminka,” the Czech term for mother, and my native language as a Czech immigrant now based in New York, serves as the emotional core of this project. Offering an intimate glimpse into my family’s lives, it chronicles the poignant journey of how my mother, and I reversed roles. In 2016, she became my caregiver during my cancer diagnosis, a role that later reversed in 2022 when she faced a stroke and cancer.

This photographic exploration delves into the shifts in our relationship– from patient to caregiver and caregiver to patient. The images captured the intricate dance of roles between children and parents and shows a candid picture of the challenges we confronted. How hard it is to care for a loved one, and how hard it can be to accept care. Amidst these tribulations, the project unveils the enduring strength of family love, a constant presence that can help transcend the hurdles.

“Maminka” also sheds light on the broader impact of multigenerational caregiving. In addition to my and my husband Jordan’s roles as caregivers in the “Sandwich Generation” (caregiving for aging parents and young children), our son, Jesse, has also found himself helping care for his grandmother as well. Spanning from Jesse’s early childhood to the most recent images in December 2023, the project captures the evolving dynamics. His instinct to assist in caregiving for my mother as she grappled with the lingering effects of recent illnesses, adds another layer to the intricate narrative. Ultimately, this project is a testament to the resilience of familial bonds, specifically the profound transformations that accompany the ebb and flow of caregiving roles across generations.

Anna, navigating her cancer treatment, captured a poignant self-portrait with her mother Helena, who traveled from the Czech Republic to support her through chemotherapy, caring not only for Anna but also her son, Jesse.
Holding Anna’s mother’s hands in the hospital reminded her of her grandfather. “Their hands are so similar, hands that had years of use in them from creating things with their hands.”
Anna holds a mirror steady as Helena delicately applies lipstick during her hospital stay in 2021, following a stroke. For Helena, maintaining her appearance provided a sense of comfort amidst medical challenges. A week later, doctors uncovered another hurdle: Helena was diagnosed with colon cancer, prompting swift treatment.
Anna preparing food for her mother and son as she adjusts to caring for her mother following her stroke and cancer recovery. With her mother’s abilities altered, Anna had to step in to assist her mother with tasks she used to manage independently.
Helena showers in the hospital while recovering from a stroke in 2021. “My mom always spent a lot of time in the shower. She loves the water. It calms her mind.” For the first time in her life, Anna had to assist her mom to shower.
After Helena’s stroke, the entire family embarked on a journey of discovery into the nuances of post-stroke recovery. The constant exhaustion and necessity for frequent naps became apparent, significantly reducing Helena’s usual activity levels. As the family adapted to this new reality, they learned firsthand the complexities of brain recovery after a stroke, emphasizing the importance of patience and time in the rehabilitation process.
“This was one of the moments, nearly nine months after her stroke, when my mom started to seem more like herself pre-stroke,” Anna said. “Her energy, mobility and sense of joy were improving.”
As of December 2023, Helena’s health remains a persistent challenge. She has recently developed breathing issues that have left her medical team uncertain whether it stems from stroke-related issues, complications from cancer, or possibly another underlying cause. Amidst these uncertainties, Jesse, Helena’s grandson and Anna’s son, has grown increasingly aware and concerned about his grandmother’s health.
As of December 2023, Helena’s health remains a persistent challenge. She has recently developed breathing issues that have left her medical team uncertain whether it stems from stroke-related issues, complications from cancer, or possibly another underlying cause. Amidst these uncertainties, Jesse, Helena’s grandson and Anna’s son, has grown increasingly aware and concerned about his grandmother’s health.

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 advertising and in-house corporate industry for decades.  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.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

The Daily Edit – Karabo Mooki




Photographer: Karabo Mooki

Heidi: How did the Black women’s Skateboarding project evolve – did you notice they were a force but underrepresented?
Karabo: Skateboarding isn’t always embraced by Black communities, and my own experiences having limited proximity to Black role models in skateboarding have had a massive impact on my feelings toward the sport and the culture of skateboarding. It’s made me wonder what skateboarding means to Black women immersing themselves in this world. What does it mean to take up space in a predominantly white male sport? I became aware of the increasing presence of Black women in skateboarding and then developed organic relationships with the community.

Understanding that South Africa has a tumultuous history with gender-based violence; the right to occupy public space is not equally shared amongst genders. Women are often met with harassment, micro-aggressions, and other threats that make them feel unsafe and unwelcome in public spaces. Crews of skateboarders such as the “Island Gals” and “Spectrum” are recreating the narrative by actively organizing and occupying spaces that many have previously felt uncomfortable being in. 

Their passion for skateboarding and community transcends through each individual and there is an undeniable sense of dedication to skateboarding and pushing for greater representation within the sport.

The collective work of Black women in skateboarding has been impossible to ignore, and as a documentarian, I found myself in the fortunate position of working alongside these dominant forces to help share their message globally.

How did you approach the female skateboarders, how did you explain your intentions to them?
As a documentarian, it is important for me to learn about the experiences of the community I am working with and to earn their trust. I invested time in understanding the community’s goals and spotlighting what they have overcome to realize their accomplishments.

I intend to create awareness and celebrate the importance of the social-political work perpetuated by these young freedom fighters. Many marginalized communities in post-apartheid South Africa are still carrying the weight of systematic oppression and my duty as a photographer is to let the truth be told and realized by local and global audiences.

Tell us how your style as a photographer evolved and how you got your start.
My passion for photography is rooted in my interest in human connectivity, history, and culture. I’ve been in a photographic dialogue most of my life, and the focus of my photography has developed from documenting counterculture to placing a more acute interest in political and cultural themes. Over time, I realized the weight of institutionalized colonialism that I was carrying and how systems of oppression had created doubt in my self-worth. This is why it is so important for me to highlight and celebrate Black culture in all its glory. 

What were your influences then and now?
Not so much what, but who – Peter Magubane, Ernest Cole, Dawoud Bey, and Joseph Rodriguez have been great storytellers I have sought inspiration from. Documentarians whose work upheld a deep sense of integrity and truth. They sought to tell stories of communities close to them and the social-political work they achieved is everything I aspire to in my work.

How did the Freedom Charter inform the culture in Soweto and your work?
As I mentioned earlier, Peter Magubane and Ernest Cole are prominent South African photographers and freedom fighters who taught me the importance of adopting a revolutionary mindset.

I learned that photography is a powerful tool to decolonize my mind and that of the communities I began working with. Photography has taught me so much, especially the importance of searching and sharing the truth of my people’s stories. I focused on stories that invite viewers to engage with political and social issues. 

Photography has allowed me to find my place amongst constant change and given me a voice to communicate and connect through this form of dialogue. The process has taught me to be intentional with my approach to photography and value the connections I’ve made with people along the way.

“As part of every encounter, Bey gave each person a small black-and-white Polaroid print for themselves as a way of reciprocating and returning something to the people who had allowed him to make their portrait” What practices do you have in any of your portraits encounters?
As an independent photographer, embarking on personal projects requires a lot of investment. I pour everything into realizing photo stories, but it’s not easy. Production costs are difficult to cover independently but as time goes on and my investments become greater, I find that simultaneously the relationships created are strengthened. My gratitude for the time and trust is expressed by upholding the integrity of the communities I work with. When I can afford to, I print out images on archival paper for the people I have worked with.

Ernest Cole’s House of Bondage was six years in the making. Each chapter represents life under apartheid, illustrating segregation’s impact on housing, education, employment, childcare, medical care, and daily life – which images are the most memorable to you and why?
The image that is engraved in my mind is the image of a schoolboy who squats on his haunches in an overcrowded segregated classroom, beads of sweat streaming down his face as he intently grips a pencil and a notepad in his small hands, following along with the teacher’s lesson. Ernest Cole provided audiences outside of South Africa with their first visceral view of apartheid, his work draws viewers into the beauty of this quiet act of defiance, this small moment of creation, which Cole ensured would one day be seen. Cole’s work captured my people’s struggles, and his photography’s message lives on as historical moments in the liberation of Black communities.

What parallels exist between your skateboarding work and the AfroPunk scene images from your Dogg Pound Days.
The AfroPunk skateboarding world brought together an unlikely group of Black and white youth, crossing a divide entrenched by Apartheid.

The makeshift independence of DIY culture is a crucial component of punk, where everything is self-constructed, from the experimental music and performances that take place in unconventional—and, as with skateboarding, sometimes unauthorized—locations, to crews building their ramps and filming skate sessions. My images capture the energy of the punk/skateboarding scene—the freedom in its expressions of rage, the power that comes with asserting one’s own identity, and the culture’s deep camaraderie.

 

Afro-punk is forever
Jeanné has become known as a pioneer in South Africa for Black women in skateboarding. Seen cruising the streets of Johannesburg central business district, she defies style through her visual expression of self on the board and in her unconventional approach to fashion. Her punk attitude glows on and off of her skateboard, inspiring many others to shape their own identities as Black women in skateboarding.
Island Gals
Without the help of sponsors or any organisations Thato and Melissa have committed a life to skateboarding and conducting workshops for Black women interested in taking up the sport, sharing equipment and boards until they’re completely worn out. Their love for their community outweighs the cost of skateboarding.
In crust we trust
Mmabatho demonstrates what it takes to learn at her local park, where resources are few and far between, construction materials are subpar and the crumbling infrastructure to develop ones own skill level is the only place where she can access close to home to get her daily fix on the board.
Exhale
Thabiso Mashiyakgomo makes it count, charging down the infamous “Siemens Bank” spot with a tail drop of a first for women in South African skateboarding. Her strength of will and progression of skill is a combination of grace and resistance that is carving a way for her and a community of Black women in skateboarding to be recognised for the space that they are taking up in a white male dominated sport.
Spectrum
The women from the skate collective “Spectrum” cruise through the city streets of downtown Johannesburg, redefining the narrative of what it means to be African women in skateboarding in a city notoriously known for its high statistics of gender based violence. Making themselves visible in spaces that often discriminate against them, their determination to be comfortable wherever they roam has paved a way for many women to venture into the city’s landscapes on their boards like never before.
Blood-In, Blood-Out
Fearless and determined, Thabiso Mashiyakgomo parades her battle wounds with pride. The passion she pours into skateboarding is revealed on her scars and continues to drive her as a skateboarder, relentlessly taking on street spots and continuously shattering the glass ceiling of what it means to be a Black woman in skateboarding.


Dogg Pound Days Captions
1. Curious kids from the neighborhood try to get a glimpse of a punk show.
2. In true punk rock style, Thula ‘Stroof’ Sizwe – guitarist of TCIYF – continues to perform after being electrocuted by a short-circuited fuse.
3. Searching for street spots to skate in Soweto is challenging, both physically due to the lack of infrastructure and attitudinally due to the general population’s misperception of skate culture as one that is destructive and dangerous. The Soweto Skate Society has made it their mission to shatter the belief that skateboarding culture can only exist in spaces outside of the township.”

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Todd Antony

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

Today’s featured artist:  Todd Antony

The Japanese subculture of ‘Dekotora’ – a portmanteau of the Japanese pronunciations of “decor” and “truck” – involves the elaborate decorating of a truck following a certain theme, or aesthetic. For more than 40 years, Japanese truck drivers have been piling lights, patterned fabrics, and other over-the-top adornments onto their work trucks, creating moving masterpieces covered in LEDs.

The tradition of decorated trucks, or “Dekotora,” originated from a 1970s Japanese movie series that was inspired by Smokey and the Bandit, titled “Torakku Yaro” or “Truck Rascals.” Drivers first began decorating their vehicles in the style seen in the comedy-action films in hopes of being cast in upcoming productions. Eventually the extravagant trucks became a way of life for many workers, with decoration costs sometimes running over $100,000.

The Dekotora craze has passed its zenith of the 80s and 90s and has been in decline recently, numbering in the region of 500 drivers in the country now. The Utamaro-Kai association participates in a number of charity initiatives and has been helping raise funds for some of the areas worst hit by the recent Tsunamis, by staging events in the cities.

Junichi Tajima, the head of the Utamaro says it is not just about raising money though, but about bringing some light and happiness into the lives of those who have been affected. When asked what Dekotora means to him he said that ‘after 40 years, Dekotora is my children, my brothers, my family’.”

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 advertising and in-house corporate industry for decades.  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.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

The Art of the Personal Project: Jennifer MacNeill

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:  Jennifer MacNeill

My love of animals combined with a curiosity about people who are very passionate about raising and showing them fueled my desire to photograph various animal shows. This brought me to The Celtic Classic dog show in York, PA.

It was interesting to study how meticulously each animal was groomed and watch the intense focus of the canine and the handler in the ring. Personally, I would never buy a pedigreed pet because there are far too many homeless animals in need, but I can respect a person’s interest in preserving breeds and sharing their love of dogs with the public.

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 advertising and in-house corporate industry for decades.  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.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

The Art of the Personal Project: Scott Elmquist

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:  Scott Elmquist

What started as a newsroom assignment in the early 2000’s, became a personal project spanning 25 years. During those years I attended countless community prayer vigils in Richmond, Virginia, generated by unrelenting gun violence. Simply reporting the facts about each murder weren’t enough. I felt compelled to investigate the murder victims, and communicate with the affected families, sharing their stories visually.

Some prayer vigils were often solemn, intimate events, attended by 25-50 people. The larger vigils resembled New Orleans-style wakes, where people preached, sang, marched and prayed. Regardless of the vigil size, family members spoke lovingly about the victims, and although I was possibly witnessing the most painful moments in their lives, they often thanked me for being there to tell the story.

Unfortunately, this grim story continues to unfold. According to the Virginia Department of Health, from 2018-2022, over 1,000 Virginians died each year due to gun-related violence. Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for children in the U.S. The resulting devastation for families is immeasurable. In June 2019, during Gun Violence Awareness month, I partnered with Initiatives of Change, a Richmond based non-profit, to host “I Am Here,” a three-day interactive exhibit to raise awareness and promote healing from the trauma brought on by gun violence. I displayed photographs from those prayer vigils held in the aftermath of homicide. Hundreds of people attended the event, including families of the homicide victims. Families shared stories, grieved together and joined in a healing drum circle, allowing them to remember and celebrate their murdered loved ones. Shelia Hall Green stood and spoke about her son Omar, who she had buried just four days earlier. Another mother, Brenda Rawlings, said it was the first time she felt normal since her daughter’s murder on New Years’ Eve 2018. Deneene Poole said she felt her son, J.J., who was murdered in 2010, hadn’t been forgotten. Providing visual documentation of the vigils offered some hope that these murder victims, and their families, won’t be forgotten.

Allan Melton, 9, cries during vigil for his father and uncle who were murdered in a double homicide home invasion on May 28th. He is comforted by Alicia Rasin, the founder of Citizens Against Crime, a group that rallied around the families of Richmond’s 78 murder victims in 2006.
Teddy Parham is among those who gathered on a cold Friday night to remember Farooq M. Bhimdi, the owner of the Express Way convenience store on Mechanicsville Turnpike. He was gunned down inside his store on January 28, 2012.

Ricky Burton, 16, was murdered walking home from his late shift at Wendy’s in August 2008. His aunt (pictured here) and about 100 mourners gathered in Delmont Village to say goodbye.

Rotunda Allen of Richmond mourns the death of her friend Kiarri Edwards, 34, at a vigil on Sunday night on Dinwiddie Avenue. Edwards, a father of three, was killed in a triple shooting on the Dinwiddie Avenue on March 31 at 11:16 p.m.

Hundreds of members of the Hillside Court community gathered on the 1700 block of South Lawn Avenue for a vigil in remembrance of 3-year-old Sharmar Hill Jr., who lost his life on February 1, 2020, when he was caught in the crossfire of gun violence outside his home. “This shouldn’t be a war zone — how is your home a war zone?” Shamar Hill Sr. asked, reiterating that his young son was his “hero.”

Still wearing a graduation gown, Jason Kamras, Richmond Public Schools Superintendent, who was flanked by city council president Michael Jones and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney addressed the media after eighteen-year-old Shawn Jackson was shot and killed on June 6, 2023. The incident occurred just after Huguenot High’s School graduation in the Altria Theater.  Kamras said he “can’t shake the image” of Jackson getting CPR while wearing his graduation gown in Monroe Park, just outside the theater where the shooting took place. Jackson’s stepfather, Renzo Smith, 36, also died in the shooting.

The family of J.J. Poole, 20, stand in disbelief that their family member was murdered near his home in Richmond’s East End in 2009.
Gun violence activist turned mourner; Joyce Kennedy is comforted during the RVA Stop The Violence rally. Her grandson Ra’Keem Adkins, 22, was murdered in Mosby court in May 2015. Prior to her grandson’s murder, Kennedy often spoke out about gun violence.

BIO: Scott Elmquist is the senior photographer for Style Weekly/VPM News based in Richmond, Virginia. His gun violence images have won numerous awards, including being named the Best Alternative Weekly Photographer in North America in 2019 by the Association of Alternative Weeklies, for a portfolio of gun violence images. He was awarded the Best General News Photo First Place award in Virginia by the Virginia News Photographers Association in 2006 and 2008. He also earned dozens of First Place awards and ten Best-In-Show awards in the annual Virginia Press Association contest 2000-2022.

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 advertising and in-house corporate industry for decades.  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.  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.  Instagram

Photographers Report Hiding Their Pregnancy For Fear Of Losing Jobs

The Photo Industry Need To Do Better.

“This industry is unkind to mothers, there is no denying that.”

“Leading up to giving birth, I completely hid my pregnancy and never mentioned it to anyone. Even when I became so obviously pregnant, I just never talked about it to clients unless they brought it up.”

“I can’t tell you how many women shooters/assistants have felt they have to hide their pregnancy in order to keep working. The whole topic/concept is so difficult to navigate.”

“I didn’t share it on social media or tell anyone in person until I started to show. I hated it, I wanted to shout my exciting news from the rooftops but I knew the impact it would have on my work, which is incredibly sad”

Here are some comment from a post I made on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/C4yc-K6O-dq/

Leading up to giving birth, I completely hid my pregnancy and never mentioned it to anyone. Even when I became so obviously pregnant, I just never talked about it to clients unless they brought it up. I was terrified of losing a job if someone found out/like I’d be an undesirable person to work with. I did almost lose a job with a very large well known client who found out through word of mouth that I was in my 3rd trimester. They stopped emailing with me and instead called me to ask me very personal questions like when my due date was, if I was physically able to take on the job, etc. it was so sketchy that the woman did it all over the phone.

A week after my son was born, just home from the hospital, my editorial shoots and hustle paid off. I got a call from one of the big three agencies in Boston at the time. The Photo Buyer *gushed* over my work, the creative team loved it! They couldn’t wait to meet me. When can I come in? In my half awake new mom haze I said “I just got back from the hospital with my first baby. Let’s get something on the books in three weeks.” She hung up on me. I never heard from them again and still haven’t shot for them 20 years later.

DO NOT TELL A SOUL. I worked til 37 weeks but could have gone until the day I delivered. The main issue was being uncomfortable driving. I took 2 months “off” but it was extremely slow afterwards and no one hired me for an ad job for another year. If I did it again I’d keep it all a secret, unfortunately I lost a huge IUD pharma campaign because they found out I was pregnant. The irony! Obviously it’s illegal but what can you do?

Luckily I didn’t show and I hadn’t told anyone when Covid lockdowns started so I could kind of hide it through not being outside. Even after having my baby I didn’t really tell any clients or post about it. When my main client found out I had a kid the jobs dropped off dramatically.

During my first pregnancy which was 18 years ago, I had a photo editor tell me straight up when I went to the office after a shoot that she “wouldn’t have hired me if she knew how pregnant I was” – at about 32 weeks. In general I hid my pregnancy for fear I wouldn’t get work.

I kept my pregnancy to myself and did not share publicly or with clients. I just showed up to work pregnant and did my job just as well (sometimes better) than I did not pregnant.

Pregnancy is the easiest part of navigating life as a freelancer (I told clients on a need-to-know basis while pregnant 13 years ago, and happily worked until 39 weeks). The hard part of working in this field really happens once the child is born. I know many female photographers whose careers were sidetracked by the challenging logistics of balancing an unpredictable photo schedule and childcare.

I kept it very private. Nothing on the internet until my daughter was born. Almost 100% of the time, I only told clients once I was already on set because it was visible. I was soooo scared to lose work because I thought people might assume hiring me would be a risk.

I worked until I was 38 weeks pregnant but also didn’t tell any clients that I was pregnant for fear of not being hired. The part I found difficult was after I had the baby, trying to be 100% on shoots after little to no sleep some nights but the pumping was really difficult, having to take a break somewhere private every few hours was very tough.

Never told anyone but also wouldn’t lie if asked. Wore oversized clothes on set and worked up until a month before birth. Booked an extra assistant if needed just to have an extra person to have my back. Was back on set when baby was 8 weeks old which was a bit unnecessary/early in hindsight (for me – everyone’s different). A few clients didn’t book me because I was pregnant but I figured I don’t wanna work for them anyway – it’s my choice.

In my experience as a event and editorial shooter in LA at the time, not telling anyone i was pregnant until it was very obvious was a good choice for me, only because once the clients knew I was pregnant they were all very kind but many were also much more cautious and concerned about me, and acting as though i was much more delicate like I should be doing something at a desk LOL so I had to really reassure more people that i was absolutely fine and capable. And that women have done this since the dawn of humanity and i’d let them know if i was ever feeling not capable.

My boss and management was not supportive at all. I was scrutinized even if I only came in 30 minutes late due to doctors appointments and so I scheduled each doctors is the very first appointment of the day so I could rush to work

This is a really important topic to discuss as a lot of us feel we cannot tell people we are pregnant for fear of not getting booked. I was also one of those people. I didn’t share it on social media or tell anyone in person until I started to show. I hated it, I wanted to shout my exciting news from the rooftops but I knew the impact it would have on my work, which is incredibly sad. I would turn up to shoots and shock people not only because I was pregnant but because I was still very much capable. IMAGINE!? Once the news was out and baby arrived, I did have some clients presume that I wouldn’t want the work we had in the calendar for the coming months and THAT is the problem. The attitude towards pregnant people drastically needs to change

Book pregnant photographers and support them by booking them when they are back to work.

Let’s try and change this crappy narrative, we deserve better!