This Week in Photography: New Beginnings

 

 

These are difficult times.

The hardest I’ve ever seen.

(It is what it is.)

 

I’m writing on Thursday, as usual, which means yesterday was President Biden’s inauguration, marking the end of one of the darkest periods in American history.

Honestly, I’m so sick of thinking about you-know-who that I’ll try to keep his name out of this column as much as possible, going forward.

It’s like Voldemort, when almost all the wizards in the Wizarding world preferred uttering “he who shall not be named.”

We’ll try that here for now.

Because this week, this moment, should be about new beginnings.

Looking forward.
Rebuilding hope.
Finding solace.

But I’ve seen mentioned with regularity on social media in the last few days, (and I’ve been telling people for weeks now,) much of America is suffering from PTSD.

All the hate, the constantly-aroused feelings, the unexpressed sadness, the repressed rage.

The frustration at our inability to do anything, on an individual level, to stop the Covid death count from going higher.

And higher still.

We’re now past 400,000 dead here in the US, and President Biden is predicting we’ll hit half a million corpses before too long.

How do we even process numbers like that?

Mostly, I feel numb.

The fight has left me for the moment, and I know many people who feel the same.

So this afternoon, after doing seven portfolio reviews in the morning for LACP, (which means I get to share more photo portfolios with you in the future,) I found myself empty.

Bereft.

I tried to look at a book submission to write this review, a book I’ll definitely feature soon, but my brain couldn’t focus on the words. (It required a lot of reading.)

Instead, I utilized my trusty trick of staring at my bookshelf, asking the heavens above for some help.

Would anything jump out at me?

Anything that might make me feel better, or give me the opportunity to share some peace with you?

Because if I’ve realized anything in the last couple of weeks, it’s that a lot of people read this column, and over the years have come to care about me, and what I write here.

Two weeks ago, I admitted I hit an inflection point in my marriage, and my wife and I would figure things out, or we wouldn’t.

No more dicking around.

In the 14 days since, (including 10 seconds ago, when a text just came in from a friend in Rhode Island,) the amount of people who have called or written to offer support, and check on me, has been one of the best things that’s ever happened.

Thank you so much!

Jessie and I decided we would not let all these external stresses from a crazy world break us up, so we’re forging ahead.

Still, the drama comes at us from other places, and just today, one of the people I reviewed went ape-shit, yelling and screaming, as if it were my job to eat the shit.

Please remember, the energy we put into the world affects so many other people. If you feel bad, and dump it on others, that creates a chain reaction.

After 5 years of incessant negativity from you-know-who, amplified 1000 times via Twitter, Facebook, TV, radio, and every other form of mass communication, it only makes sense that we’d all be wounded.

Beaten down.

Ready for President Biden, his diverse team of professionals, and that amazing young poet, Amanda Gorman, to give us some positivity juice.

That, however, is only the electric shock needed to restart our hearts.

The real healing will take a while.

So, as luck would have it, I looked at my book shelf and spotted one of my all-time favorite books; “Cultivated Landscapes,” an exhibition catalogue from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Shout out to the Met!)

It features work from a show I once saw, of a collection of Chinese landscape paintings, which is a historical genre that has always inspired me.

These ancient paintings and scrolls are some of the most peaceful, meditative, quiet, lovely, magnificent pieces of art you will see.

The calming, Buddhist juju literally jumps off the page.

As bad as I felt when I opened the book, within minutes, I felt a bit better.

Because making art helps us manage our stress, and process our emotions.

It also takes our mind off things, for a little while.

And looking at art can serve the same purpose.

So no, it’s not a photo book today. But it is a gift from me to you. (Sharing something I care about, and love.)

See you next week.

To download a .pdf of “Cultivated Landscapes” click here 

The Art of the Personal Project: Fred Greaves

- - Personal Project

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: Fred Greaves

I was invited to tour The Abalone Farm facility in Cayucos, California, with some marine scientists that were headed to look at the facility months after it had been shut down. The owners of the property were hoping to find a group (or groups) who would be interested in taking it over and restoring it to become a research or conservation facility.

Abalone, as a species, has struggled to survive on the west coast due to a number of different challenges, the main ones being disease, overfishing, and a serious decline of the kelp forests where they feed.

These researchers saw the potential for the facility, but also wanted to see first hand what it would take logistically and financially to make it viable again.

Having previously photographed smaller abalone research/restoration programs at the university level, I was really excited to see this giant facility and also, hopefully, to be able to tell the story of a massive commercial abalone farm that is dusted off again to help restore one of California’s hardest hit marine invertebrates.

This work was all shot in early March 2020. At the time I imagined it would be the beginning of the story showing the transformation of this facility. But, like just about everyone, I was blindsided by the changes that COVID-19 was going to bring to just about everything, including most of the momentum on the restoration of the abalone farm.

So nearly a year later, it is still not clear if this is going to be chapter one of a bigger story or nothing more than a photographic obituary of what could have been.

Fred Greaves is a commercial and editorial photographer, specializing in traditional visual storytelling, based in Sacramento, CA.

To see more of this project, click here.

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

- - The Daily Edit


The New York Times: How to Survive Winter

Photographer: Erinn Springer
Producers: Produced by Gray Beltran, Clinton Cargill, and Heather Casey

Heidi: Did the images for this come from your archive or from your Dormant Seasons?
Erinn: All of the images were shot specifically for this article. It was very exciting to get this assignment because I’ve been shooting winter in Wisconsin for the last few years (which is how my series Dormant Seasons came about) so, How We Survive Winter felt like a natural progression.


If they were photographed for the text, what was the direction?
The brief was very poetic and open. The editor and I had spoken on the phone about the feeling of winter and the solstice being the longest night of the year in a year that has been metaphorically darker than most. I wanted the result to be representative of my home and my experience growing up in such a cold place like northern Wisconsin, that in actuality is filled with so much life.

Did you travel home to Wisconsin to photograph any of these images?
Luckily, I was already in Wisconsin for some other projects, so I just extended my stay. The timing couldn’t have been better! I generally split my time between Wisconsin and Brooklyn and I’m usually on the road quite a bit, but the pandemic has allowed me to spend more time at home. I’ve been able to focus on (and actually start) projects I’ve twirled around for a long time. The people and landscape here haven’t changed a whole lot since I was a kid, so I feel like I’m playing catch-up for all the years I didn’t have a camera in my hands growing up. These projects are an investigation of my origins and archive of what will eventually be the memories of where I was raised.

How much time passed in making these images? Were they all shot on the solstice?
I shot for a couple hours ~almost~ everyday for about two weeks. I tried to think of all the places and situations I could put myself in to get the best photos for the narrative I was building. There was an element of surprise because I was working in tandem with photographer Devin Yalkin, but hadn’t seen any of his images until the story was published. I was so curious to see how our images would be edited together. The pairings of our work really made the story come to life.

“Look for the smallest bit of beauty around you,” Dr. Safi explained. “That very much resonates today, at a time where it seems like the mega-systems are all broken or falling apart, to return your gaze to the small.”

The simplest solutions are always the most magical. And all the magic you need is ~probably~ in your backyard. That’s sort of the case for me and realizing rural Wisconsin is my most rewarding subject.

During these times what has kept your creative seeds ready for spring?
I’ve always been a planner and daydreamer for all the seasons. This year, of course, I hope that spring brings the renewed life we’ve all been waiting for, but I think it’s helpful to focus on the present. I tend to feel that acting in the ‘now,’ while setting the pieces and daydreaming of tomorrow (of spring), is the most advantageous. I honestly find so much joy in every season and look forward to each for various reasons. I think growing up in Wisconsin has something to do with that :).

*For more images, please see this carousel of outtakes.

David Alan Harvey Credibly Accused of Sexual Misconduct

- - Working

In late December a bombshell article by Kristen Chick for Columbia Journalism Review detailed 13 years of inappropriate behavior from Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey. Eleven women described a wide range of disturbing behavior that you can read about here:

https://www.cjr.org/special_report/magnum-photos-david-alan-harvey.php

It seems that his behavior is an open secret and many are questioning Magnum and fellow photographers for letting it slide over the years.

Personally I’m sickened by what is described in the article and the thought of young female photojournalists having to endure harassment from Harvey. We need to root this despicable behavior out of our industry and I support anyone who comes forward to help do it.

Additionally, a former assistant is saying he stages his photographs which follows along with his abuse of power as pointed out by Biz Herman in this excellent thread:

https://twitter.com/bizherman/status/1341541896653590529?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Finally, there’s this Statement calling for collective accountability against sexual harassment in photography that you should read that was signed by many in the industry:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfZD3G2mVplqXn-BBau7q31kogBskbMwBQACVMHahOPUCwnvw/viewform

This Week in Photography: The Cycle of History

 

Do you remember 9/11?

 

I sure do.

After the shock, and the inability to look away from the television screen all day, (Thank you Peter Jennings, RIP,) I vividly recall walking around for a couple of weeks in a haze.

 

Image courtesy of the Television Academy

 

What happened was so far outside my frame of reference, it felt like life was a movie, and I just wanted the credits to roll.

“Please,” I thought, “let things go back to normal.”

But they never did.

Sure, after a few years things chilled out a bit, at least until the Great Recession, yet life never returned to the way it was before the Twin Towers came down.

(No more Pax Americana.)

In the aftermath, we heard a lot about how so many young, angry, under-or-unemployed Muslim men around the world had nothing better to do than fume about America, and plot our downfall.

How they couldn’t afford to have girlfriends or wives, and they sat around all day, waiting in coffee shops.

How they had been “radicalized” by information that was essentially brain-washing. How certain clerics spoke directly to them, to their fears and anxieties, and convinced them violence was the only answer.

Though there had been major attacks in the lead-up to September 11th, like the first Twin Towers bombing, or the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, afterwards, there were no similar-level terror events on American soil.

It became much more about changes in airport routines, and the repetitive drone of “If you see something, say something” announcements on the NYC subways. (I lived there from 2002-05, when the city was still shell-shocked.)

Nearly 20 years have passed since that last epoch-shaking event in the US, and now we have ourselves another.

That’s how big a deal the attack on the US Capitol was: whether you call it a riot, a coup attempt, an insurrection, or the opening salvo of a 21st Century revolution.

Needless to say, I can’t think very straight 8 days later, and am surprised to even be writing this column. (Never missed a deadline; not about to start now.)

Thankfully, the photo-book-dieties are friendly to long-time columnists, so as I reached into my thick book stack today, looking for the oldest book there, I found something that came in just about this time last year.

It arrived before the pandemic hit, at a time when Donald Trump, for all his pure-awfulness, did not have the blood of nearly 400,000 Americans on his hands.

(Nor had he tried to destroy Democracy to protect his man-baby, hyper-fragile ego.)

When a year goes by, from submission to perusal, you can be sure I know absolutely nothing about the book in question, and take it on its merits.

Today, we’ll look at “Late Harvest,” by Forest McMullin, published by RIT press in 2019.

Given my limited brain capacity, I’ll tell you from the jump that this is a good book, perfect for the moment, but the photographs are not something at which I’d hurl superlatives.

Despite the fact that the artist’s opening statement makes mention of the brilliant Southern light, which illuminates colors with intensity, and the essay by Nancy McCrary that suggests these are not cliché, Southern-poverty-porn pictures, I disagree on both counts.

The light is often flat, and the portraits really could have used some fill flash. As to the subject matter, I have seen decrepit and abandoned Southern spaces many, many times before.

However…

The artist was a life-long Northerner who moved to the South on the cusp of the Great Recession, to shake up his life. (Along with his wife.)

They ended up in Atlanta, Georgia, (which has been in the news a lot lately,) and subsequently, Forest began a long-term project cruising only the smallest roads of the Deep South, with paper maps. (No GPS.)

I reviewed a book with a similar premise a few years ago, “True Places,” by Jack Carnell, published by Fall Line Press in Atlanta, and found those photos to be superior, technically speaking.

But this book feels like it dug into a vein of truth in the contemporary South, as there are interviews that both give a strong sense of the artist as a down-to-Earth, likable guy, and also one who displayed curiosity, kindness and empathy to the people he met along the way.

There are white people inside, including a small shopkeeper who longs for Trump to make gun silencers legal, and a bar owner who once brained her man with a baseball bat, and claims it’s the only “white bar” in her town.

Racism!

But there are also African-Americans who run makeshift bars, hair salon/sandwich shops, or are Mayors and Preachers simultaneously.

Taken together, the Deep South comes off as the kind of place that opportunity forgot.

A place that is still very rooted in the impact of the Civil War.

A place where you have to leave for the city if you want to have any chance at a decent living, or if you want to meet a partner in mid-life, because you’re tired of being alone. (Actual details from within.)

I guess what I’m saying is I don’t LOVE these photographs, but I find this to be a powerful, anthropological book that gives us a window into the vanquished Confederacy.

I know not all the insurrectionists last week were poor and white, (only most of them,) but they certainly felt like today’s America had let them down.

In fact, just this morning, (Friday, as I’m editing,) I found this quote in WaPo, about the QAnon-Shaman-asshole, from his lawyer:

“He took seriously the countless messages of President Trump. He believed in President Trump,” Watkins said. “Like tens of millions of other Americans, Chansley felt — for the first time in his life — as though his voice was being heard.”

Sure, the Trumpists have had the Presidency for 4 years, the Senate for longer, and just packed the Supreme Court for a generation.

But if your life sucks, you see no hope of improvement, and the President of the United States, your hero, keeps telling you whose fault it is, and then begging you to start breaking shit, can we really be surprised when the statues topple?

Are not Arizona and Florida Southern states, after all? (With AZ’s history as a slave-friendly territory.)

The answer is yes.
Yes they are.

So, how does any of this get better?

If I knew, I’d tell you.

For now, we can only hope.

To purchase “Late Harvest” click here

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please contact me directly at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by women, and artists of color, so we may maintain a balanced program. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Kevin Arnold

- - Personal Project

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:  Kevin Arnold

Kevin Arnold – Tombstone Series

Located in the Yukon Territory of Canada’s far north, Tombstone Territorial Park is a truly prehistoric landscape. Its mountains, cliffs and valleys are largely unscathed by the omnipresent scars of industrial human activity. Places like this are few and far between, but they are important because they offer us a glimpse of what the earth might look like without us. They offer us a fresh perspective that might, if we are lucky, draw us away for a moment from our human-centric view of the world.

Each of the wild places that I have tried to capture seems to call for their own unique approach. In Tombstone, I found that the immensity of the landscape and its unique textures and colors needed to be captured from the above. I created this series out of the door of a small two-person fixed-wing aircraft with a high-resolution medium format camera. At first, the landscape of Tombstone feels barren and vast: dramatic cliff faces, sweeping mountainsides, and rocky river ways. But, as we look closer and closer, we realize that this is a landscape literally teaming with details that tell the story of how the land was – and is being – formed. I think we tend to see places like this mountain range as standing against test of time, immovable and unchanged. In reality, the patina of the earth is ever shifting with the whimsies of water and weather.

Bringing these massive landscapes to life required shooting in extreme resolution and also presenting the work in very large prints. Standing next to the prints, the viewer can see the pathways etched into the earth by the daily movements of animals, the folds and grooves left behind by constantly moving water, the piles of rock formed by eons of crumbing hillsides. Like all mountain ranges, water plays a key role in in forming the Tombstone landscape and I also wanted to capture this. Depending which side of the mountains you are on, the melt water from Tombstone peaks travels either down into the Yukon River towards the Bering Sea of the North Pacific, or into the great Mackenzie River into the Beaufort Sea and out to the Arctic Ocean. The waterways are like umbilical cords that literally connect this land to the rest of the earth.

I created this work in the fall when the spectrum of color blanketing the hills and valleys is truly spectacular. In post, I wanted to make sure that this color came across as both surreal – because in person it truly is – and completely natural at the same time. The way the blues and yellows play off each other in the images speaks to me deeply, providing a visual calm that I find soothing at the most basic level. My soul. After months of working with these images from capture to print, the thing I love the most about the work is that I am still finding new textures, patterns and details that surprise me. The complexity of this seemingly simple landscape continues to astound me. My hope is that the viewer will come away with a sense that there are still places on this earth that are powerful and mysterious on a scale that we have yet to fully comprehend.

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @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 – Mel D. Cole: Washington D.C. January 6, 2021

- - The Daily Edit

Hip Hop Work

Badu 6.20.13 Drake & Trey Songz London 2017Drake Sade London 2017Kanye at Fools Gold Anniversary Party BK Bowl 10.24.10

Mel D. Cole

Photography + Directing and Collaborations

Charcoal Pitch F.C.  Mel D. Cole founded the first Black owned sports photography agency dedicated to creatively exploring soccer/football.

Heidi: In the forward to GREAT, Questlove symbolizes you with THE ROOTS.  “I’ve heard music compared to many things. Some say it’s a game. Some say it’s hell. I say it’s a war. Photographers are correspondents in this war documenting every battle. Every step of the way.  The invading Beatles had Harry Benson. Jenny’s Lens was the West Coast Punk scene’s eye. Run DMC & The Beastie Boys had Ricky Powell and the Roots had Mel D. Cole— or should I say Mel D. Cole had us?” – Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson

Mel: Yeah that obviously is HUGE! Questlove has been a big part of the reason I am where I am in my career. Without him I might be in a different place.

You have a history of documenting culture. This past week you documented a battle, what made this instance different for you?
It felt more like a war, an invasion. It was hostile, people died. That’s the major difference. That day was more life or death than any other day for me. 

You covered the BLM protests, obviously topics were very different this time. Describe any differences you experienced in terms of the crowds, the energies, your safety, etc..
As always most of my safety issues come from the cops. I have not had any major issues with members of BLM or pro Trump supporters. The major difference is what each side is fighting for. Both side passionately want their side to win!

How did you prepare for your own safety, was it adequate?
I came with goggles and a helmet. I left the helmet at the Trump rally. So to be honest I was not very prepared. But that won’t happen again. I ordered a gas mask and other items to make sure that I am ready for the next time.

Did you formulate your interview questions in advance? I noticed in all instances you were extremely polite using, please and sir. Was it difficult to stay calm in the chaos?
No I kinda wing it. I go with the flow. I know having good manners will take you places and using a calm tone in my voice lets the person know I mean them no harm at all.

Did you ever feel threatened?
Yes. It was very scary at times.

What would you like your peers and viewers to know about this experience?
That there’s a human behind every photo that I captured that day and they all have stories to tell. Right or wrong, there’s a story and it’s important for history’s sake to continue to tell those stories.

Featured Promo – Stephen Ambrose

- - The Daily Promo

Stephen Ambrose

Who printed it?
It was printed by Push Print London.
The book was printed on the fuji jet press using a process that gives a wider gamut of colours than litho.
Format: 28pp self-cover.
Size: 396 X 297mm portrait.
Printing: 4 colour throughout wide gamut Jet press both sides.
Materials: Fedrigoni Arcoprint Milk 150gsm.
Finishing: Centre singer sew x 4 thread colours

Who designed it?
Paul Belford at Paul Belford Limited

Tell me about the images?
This project is from an historical sports event that’s fought every year in the Piazza Santa Croce, Florence, Italy on the third weekend of June with the final being played on the 24th June which is the Feast of John the Baptist. Four teams play and they represent the four districts of Florence. I first became aware of Calcio Storico after seeing a film that Vice magazine had shot a couple of years previously and having spent the best part of a year shooting footballers for Adidas I was inspired to turn my lens to other less well known sports. Something where no money was involved and it was about camaraderie and passion for the team game. The players live, work in, and represent the four districts of Florence. The objective was to make a project out of two 50 minute games which was going to be difficult as I needed portraits, action, violence, details and landscapes/overviews to make it a coherent body of work.

How did you gain access to the event?
I applied for a press pass from the Florentine government in January 2019 and didn’t hear anything back until 5 days before the first game, I’d been approved, I immediately booked a flight and hotel. Unfortunately, meanwhile I had just ruptured my main bicep tendon in my right arm which meant I couldn’t take any weight with my right arm/hand but I could operate the camera and with a long lens on you take the weight with your left hand. My last minute flight and hotel were non refundable and I didn’t know if I’d get this opportunity again so I had to go.

I got to Florence on the Friday afternoon and had to pick up the press pass from the press office. When I arrived they issued me with a press pass for the stands only. I pleaded for access all areas but to no avail. I knew I could not get the shots I wanted unless I could get right up to the barriers on the pitch. I needed the position to be up close and personal.

On game day I joined the procession through the streets but after a short while I headed off to the pitch. A security guard showed me to the stands and then I asked if I could walk around the pitch. He looked at my pass and said no. I explained my predicament but there was a language barrier. Undeterred I went to the gates. I introduced myself to another security guard and again tried to explain my plight. Again we had a language barrier, but amazingly he got his phone out and called his English speaking wife to translate. I explained about the press pass and my desire to get closer than the stands allowed and after a short conversation back with her husband she told me to ‘go in and stay in, get in against the barriers and it should be ok’. It was such a relief, that moment, that conversation was a real turning point that made the project what it is. So for two days and the two matches I did the same, wandered in and stayed in and nobody bothered me. Everyone else with fully visible ‘access all areas’ badges and me with mine turned over and tucked away. In the chaos that is Calcio Storico I’d got away with it.

How many did you make?
I had 250 printed with Paul Belfords initial idea being to have them stitched with cotton in the four colours of the teams but that turned out to be almost impossible so we opted to split the print run in to blue, green, white and red cotton that represented the four team colours, Azzuri, Verdi, Bianchi, Rossi. Which is also the wording we used for the front cover.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I usually send out postcards only once a year and this is the first book promo I’ve done.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes definitely, at the moment more so as I think clients appreciate something tactile. But generally it is a good introduction to getting through the door with your folio.

This Week in Photography: Hitting Rock Bottom

 

In all my time writing this column, today is unique.

 

(And we’re at almost 9.5 years of weekly writing, not that anyone’s counting.)

Today, for the first time in my life, I know what rock bottom feels like. As an American, and as a husband.

And let me tell you, folks, it doesn’t feel good at all.

Being “right,” and telling everyone what was coming, and knowing in my heart it was true, and then seeing it all play out in accordance with my worst fears… it’s not a good feeling.

 

Yesterday, January 6, 2021, is a day that I will never, ever forget.

(And you won’t either.)

For starters, some lunatic-right-wing-Nazis tried to take over the government, storming the Capitol to ensure that Donald J Trump, the worst President in American history, remained in power. And he egged them on!

In a Democracy, one that I’ve warned 100 times was in serious danger, some psychopaths, carrying the Confederate flag, marched through the United States Capitol as if they owned the place.

Make no mistake, these fuck-tards are just as “potentially” dangerous as the actual Nazis that wiped out some of my ancestors.

They are just far-more-incompetent, and we only have luck to thank for that.

Basically, America broke yesterday, and only then did some of the cowardly, duplicitous Republican Senators begin to realize that if you wipe out the political class, that includes them too.

How fucking stupid do you have to be to need to see an actual insurrection, in your own office, to believe what the evidence has been saying for years now?

Trump told us, in a debate with Hillary Fucking Clinton, that he was the kind of guy who did not respect the results of elections, if he lost.

In 2016!

Why did so many people assume he was joking, or choose not to care, as long as it was in their naked self-interest?

Did they never even read the DSM 5, to learn about narcissistic personality disorder?

Anyway, you obviously have to hit rock bottom in order to see a way up. (Plus, Haruki Murakami’s characters always learn valuable lessons when they’re stuck in the bottom of a well.)

In my personal life, yesterday was a breaking point too.

Like many a self-sabotager before her, my wife waited until January 1st, the day after I bragged in this column about her recovery, to passive aggressively attack my sanity yet again.

Only after I’d begun to hope, and relax, did her subconscious come after me.

Yesterday, even before I knew the Capitol had been attacked, I broke, and challenged the unhealthy dynamics in my home for the last time.

We reached rock bottom, and either she’ll get her shit together, starting today, or after being with her for half my life, and giving everything I have to support her physical and mental health, we may end up getting divorced.

Honestly, I don’t know which way it will go, and I’m being a bit blithe by omitting so many details, but there is only so much I am willing to share with you.

The gist of it is exactly the same thing that caused the Trumpist rebellion yesterday: some people would rather believe a lie, a fantasy, than confront the difficult aspects of their lives, and their personalities.

Trump proved to us, over and over, that there was nothing he wouldn’t do or say to achieve, and then maintain, power over other people.

He lied, and he lied, but lots of people CHOSE to believe him, rather than any counter-factual information.

Honestly, if I had told you in 2015 that by #2020, a sizable portion of America would support ACTUAL Nazis, would you have believed me?

Probably not.

But there are some Americans who might have nodded a bit, bopped their heads, and said, “Sure, why not? It’s a racist fucking country, after all.”

There are some Americans who know, thanks to copious evidence, that some lives matter more than others in this messed up society.

There are some Americans who, if you told them in 2015 that in #2020, a police officer would murder an African-American man by suffocating him to death, ON CAMERA, would say, “Sure, why is that any worse than all the other murders, the lynchings, the endless denial of our humanity?”

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Because yesterday, as so many of us had our eyeballs glued to our Twitter feeds, absorbing news AS IT WAS HAPPENING, I realized that many of our photojournalist readers, and my colleagues, were kind of heroes.

Out there, risking their lives, to share the events with the rest of us.

And I got it in my head to try to include some of the great imagery with you here.

But Capitalism being what it is, (no offense to the photographers,) I tweeted a request that went nowhere, and the few people I asked had their work “embargoed,” so it would not be accessible to us here.

Twitter, though, for all its nonsense, is also a pretty fascinating resource.

Right there in my feed, it “recommended” that I follow a young, African-American photographer in Dallas, of whom I had never heard: Laidric Stevenson.

So I did.

Then I jumped to his website, and discovered the amazing “#AmericanMadeMachines,” and his perfect-for-today “MyVirusDiary,” which he’s shot for obvious reasons. (My own version has taken over my IG feed.)

I don’t know much about Laidric, but I do know he’s a Dad, has a full-time day job in an office, a part-time second job at night, and he uses a large format camera to make his life as a photographer as challenging as possible.

I know that for all the talk of featuring more artists of color here on the blog, it’s always a difficult, because the artists I meet at festivals, or who submit their books, are predominantly White.

And I know that when I saw his photographs of Dallas, so crisp and bleak, they felt like #2020.

But somehow, they were also beautiful.

People sometimes ask me why a photograph made by an African-American is different from the same image made by a White photographer?

Is it always?

Maybe not, depending on context.

But when you see these images, with their graffiti about Black Lives Matter and George Floyd, or a guy named David, (or Bug, or Juice,) who was taken before his time, they feel different than if I’d cruised around Dallas, trying to tell this story.

And the large format camera, which forces one to move slowly and methodically, allows us to enter into a fully realized world, rather than just passing by at 65mph.

We see a billboard for masks, and wheat-paste posters about the Census, en Español. There are messages of hope, and landscapes of despair.

Like I said, it’s #2020.

And all that isolation, all the damage caused by the last four years, you can feel that too.

So in the end, Twitter came to the rescue, as we all get to enjoy Laidric Stevenson’s photographs, on this, what I can only hope will be the very first day of a new era.

For my country, for my community, for my family, and for me.

Stay safe out there, and see you next week!

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Ryan Schude & Kremer|Johnson

- - Personal Project

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:  Ryan Schude Kremer | Johnson

We’ve greatly admired the work of Ryan Schude since we picked up cameras in 2012. Being in the same artist collective with Ryan, a dialogue that sounded something like this ensued; “hey, we’re really bored and there’s no work out there because of Covid 19. We’re reluctant to spend any money right now but we want to make something. Yeah, I know what you mean. We should pool our resources and make something together. Ok, how about creating a series that is loosely blocked like a movie. Ok, sounds like a good personal project, let’s do it.” We discussed some of the things that we all love about Los Angeles and what makes it special to each of us. We spoke of calming winter days on the sand and the diverse groups of people that spend their time at any of California’s many public beaches. From that point, Ryan found the location that we agreed would be perfect and we were off and running.

We went to work on the story first. The large Tableau was to be the establishing shot that set the tone for the project and offered the viewer a quick understanding of the series while supplying enough detail to create intrigue. We wanted people to see the tableau and desire a closer look. That leads us to vignettes that dig a little deeper. We developed the vignettes based people and groups that we’ve observed collectively.  The aggregate of the vignettes would make up the bigger picture and the bigger picture would lead the viewer to want to know the individual stories. With a plan in hand, we went to work on casting, wardrobe and props.

Imagine our surprise when we received a couple thousand responses to our casting call. Once we made selects and secured the cast, we created mood-boards for our wardrobe stylist, Kaitlyn Lusk and then started working with the permit office to schedule a date. To reduce the headcount on set, rather than brining on an art department, we chose to source all of the props ourselves. We leaned on Amazon and several Goodwill stores for most of the props. For the food scene, we invited the super talented photographer and friend Linnea Bullion  to help with the food styling. She’s not really a food stylist but she did a great job and also played the part of our on-duty lifeguard very well.

In December, the sun comes up late, the shadows get long very early and, we had a lot to achieve in one short day. To prepare, we planned the composition of each shot prior to shoot day and created a tight schedule that was shared with our stylists and crew of 4 assistants.

Keeping the talent form getting bored was a concern. Although it’s a vacation destination and the skies are lovely, it’s still a long day at the beach when wearing mask and the temperature is hovering around 60 degrees. To keep everyone busy, we invited another photographer Patrick Ryland to create additional portraits of everyone. I think it worked because there was a line of people waiting to work with him all day long.

Covid safety was paramount on set. We followed Covid production guidelines and we believe everyone was safe. Except for talent, I honestly didn’t see a single person’s face the entire day.

The day went off without a hitch and we are rather proud of the results. We hope you enjoy the series.

To see more of this project, click here.

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

- - The Daily Edit

Athul Prasad

Heidi: What were you trying to express with this series?
Athul: I remember one morning listening to “On the Nature of Daylight” in the shower and feeling utterly broken and moved by that piece of music. This was in March 2020 and my mind was transporting itself into a series of what if’s – What if Achan (father) contracts Covid, What if Achan is no more, What if all this were to end soon, what if.. ? 

This series beyond anything for me is to remember Achan healthy, all smiles, in the midst of the century’s biggest human tragedy. His face, his routines, his day to day objects and relive our time in nostalgic excellence for a future time. 

How did this photo project inform your relationship with your father?
We were never close. There is a lot of gratitude and unspoken love, but we weren’t close. That is until the lockdown and what initially was planned as a two week escapade from the madness of Mumbai to my hometown of Trivandrum, Kerala turned out to be a six month lesson of living out of a bag and negotiating life and the relationship with my father. 

Over that time period, the photo project broke the ice between us, inspired him to start sharing his life story, being more loving on the outside – all new in our 24 year old relationship. What started as documentation stretched to long conversations and a deep level of comfort between us. We became close over the course of 2020. 

My biggest fear is of losing my parents. It’s a weird thing, two people that give birth, nurture you, teach you everything you know have to let go of their creation — who wants to fly away to pursue his/her own dreams. It’s a fine balance I have been trying to maintain since the last couple of years – managing my own ambitions as a travel photographer and the physical time I spend with my family. The lockdown came as a huge boon in some way. 

How long did it take for him to become engaged in the project?
The very first time, he was very annoyed and complained how this “thing” I was doing was wasting his time and that the food on the stove was getting burnt. I realised my mistake and decided to pick a more peaceful time in the afternoon, distant from all the morning chores to do another round of pictures. From then onwards, he’s been a sport! I don’t think he still knows why I do this – that all this stems from a fear of losing him. It’s hard to put it in words, not sure I can ever put it to him.

What did you look for in each moment?
To sum it up in one line – document daily elements that make up my father’s routine in a beautiful manner. I have always wanted to shoot film and thought this would be the perfect time to have a go at it- not let the screen come in between us and disrupt that moment. So I taped my camera with a huge block of paper – a DYI attempt to mimic film and also pay homage to Achan who took all our family pictures in a similar fashion. 

Where was the best light?
Noon, when the sun was right up! My favourite spot at home is close to the stairs which has a glass ceiling with slits that create beautiful shadows. Close to 12PM the light would just dance on this spot. Apart from that, the best time of the day was any time I saw a photo op and made the dash for it. Being a travel photographer, I am open to working with any kind of light that the sun gods are kind to provide. 

Why did you refrain from taking images of your family until now?
I’m not sure why exactly. The camera has always been associated with work and I try to disassociate from work consciously in my personal time. I don’t even pack my camera when I come back home to Kerala to be with my parents. The focus has always been to spend time with them, be in the present moment. That approach is definitely changing internally after this project. I am planning to do a short documentary of both my parents, when Amma (mother) comes back home after a year of being stranded in Australia amidst lockdown. 

You were formerly on staff at Conde Nast Traveler in India, how did that editorial experience shape your eye?
Massively! My visual vocabulary originated from the photo desks of Conde Nast Traveler India,and in particular heavily influenced by the former Art Director at the magazine – Himanshu Lakhwani who put so much time and effort into informing me the difference between what looks good and bad and taught me how to piece images together to tell a story. I have so much gratitude for my time at CNT and to the whole team. 

Is it difficult to edit your own work?
Not really! Being a photo editor in the past, I quite enjoy the process. But it always helps to have time on your side. The more time you spend with the work, the more it makes sense, and you see connections. I would love to try somebody else edit my work, to see how that would look like. It could bring a new dimension in the narrative for sure. 

What was the direction from Masque for this forage project?
Open brief! They gave me complete freedom to photography like an editorial travel feature. Documenting the location, the food, interaction between the head chef Pratek Sadhu and the locals, the roadtrip amongst the mountains — whatever I could weave in to tell the beautiful story of these chefs travelling to the farthest mountains in this country to source ingredients to prepare in their tasting menu restaurant back in Mumbai. 

Do you have a process you relay for longer narrative arc travel stories?
I think when it comes to travel stories – it’s important to show variety. Not just show how pretty the place looks in terms of the landscape but also to show the life of it in terms of people, the food, the architecture, any wonderful moments that inspire somebody else to visit the place. If the reaction to a travel story is, damn I want to go here and experience this – then that would be a success. The words create such a huge impact in addition to the images – always helps to have a fabulous writer to flesh out the words. Otherwise the photographs just tend to exist in vacuum without context. 

Where does your love of photographing food come from?
The love of photographing food comes from the love of food, which comes from all the lovely meals Amma made while I was growing up. More than anything, the passion that chefs put in to create gorgeous plates of food that pack not only copious amounts of flavour, but also look like art, inspires me to photograph food and specifically restaurants. I love shooting restaurants and the life in it. 

 

This Week in Photography: Welcome to 2021

 

Happy New Year, everybody!

 

I’m back, and writing on Thursday as usual, which makes this the last day of #2020. (Though by the time you read this, the calendar will have turned, giving the world a fresh start.)

What will become of us in 2021?

I wish I could tell you, but honestly, I have no idea.

Even though I just had a week off, my powers of prediction are not as sharp as I might like.

(And nobody could have guessed #2020 would go off the rails to the extent that it did.)

I vaguely remember last January, in which I put the final touches on my first book, the aptly named “Extinction Party.”

And I certainly remember February, in which I traveled to Amsterdam for a week, reveling in the soon-to-disappear pleasure of chatting up random strangers, visiting art museums, and smoking tons of weed and hash in the city’s rightfully-lauded coffee shops.

(Shout out to the Jolly Joker.)

 

 

While roaming Amsterdam, I met two men named Mohammed, and one named Godsend. For the first time in my life, I said “As Salaam Alaikum” to Muslims, and it felt so good to be out of my New Mexican bubble.

Then came early March, and after my brief visit to Houston to launch the book, I got home… and never left.

As awful as some parts of the year were, and I mean horrible in the truest sense, I was also given some unbelievable gifts: namely, after discovering my wife was suffering from clinical depression, by the end of #2020, I can report that she’s happier and healthier than she’s been in years.

 

How can I hate a year that so changed my family’s life for the better?

And once she recovered, my wife suggested we get the kids a dog, with whom they are now totally obsessed.

No #2020, no healthy wife, no dog, no happy kids.

(There is something to be said for the old adage, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.)

But I also wrote a column for you in March, correctly predicting that the virus, with its imposition of “social distance,” would create chaos within our society, as people fought, and ultimately died, to protect personal space, or “individual freedom.”

So much bad, so much good, all in one calendar year, and I’m pretty sure it will take me decades to digest it all.

By May, I did my first online portfolio reviews, for the Los Angles Center of Photography, and at that point, I barely knew how to use Zoom.

Then we had to cancel our Antidote Photo Retreat program, for obvious reasons, (which sucked,) but as a result, it forced me to migrate our community online, and now I have a successful Antidote online educational program.

By September, I was fully-Zoom-literate, and participated in the Filter Photo Festival online, as my favorite week of the year, when I normally get to party with my best friends in Chicago, became a Saturday of sitting at my computer, meeting new people, virtually, and looking at their work from my bedroom.

(Things that would have been LITERALLY unimaginable in #2019 became commonplace by the Fall of #2020, and that’s about the best way I can sum up this cluster-fuck of a year.)

In the Pre-Covid reality, I went to festivals all the time, and reported on cities, restaurants, galleries and museums for you, before writing about the best photographic portfolios I saw.

It was a huge part of our regular content, as you long-time readers know.

But #2020 being #2020, (even though it’s now 2021,) I’m only just getting around to writing about the cool work I saw via the Filter Photo Festival a few months ago.

Thankfully, online festivals are much better than no festivals, and I recently saw work online at Photo NOLA, with online festivals in LA and Denver lined up between now and March.

Meaning, I’ll have lots of interesting work to share with you in the coming months, from artists spread around the world, as one of the obvious benefits to online festivals is that the lower cost, due to lack of travel budgets, means people can “attend” from their bedrooms in Sao Paulo, Mexico City, or Japan. (All places that artists were residing at Photo NOLA.)

So with all that as a background, (and a kind-of-year-in-review,) today, I’ll show you the best work I saw at Filter, back in September #2020, while simultaneously wishing you a happy, healthy, safe, and perhaps much-better year in 2021.

As usual, the artists are in no particular order, and I hope you appreciate their hard work and dedication.

I first met Paula Riff poolside, at an afterparty for a festival in San Diego, back in 2018. But I’d never reviewed her work before, despite seeing her name pop up in gallery announcements from time to time.

Paula showed me a perfect series for #2020, as it involved cutting up leftover prints, and mistakes from the past, and turning them into something entirely new. The images are gorgeous, as you’ll see, and provide inspiration for all of us to make something positive out of the waste in our lives.

 

I reviewed Adam Frint’s work at Filter in 2019, loved it, and shared it with you here in the column. (That project involved snooping on people during their smoke breaks around the city.) So I was excited to see what he would come up with next… and he didn’t disappoint.

Interested in graffiti cover-ups, and riffing on color blocks like an oddball 21st Century Mondrian, Adam set up his wife, and brother-in-law, to hold up color-shapes, as he arranged them against buildings, so the blocks would be in relationship to each other.

Not much more needs to be said, as they’re funny, charming, and visually appealing, all at once.

 

Matthew David Crowther had a very different take for his Chicago-centric series. It was all made in one small nature preserve, set within the city limits, in which he went walking for more than three years.

We discussed how to communicate the urbanity to the viewer, as the images are so poetic and pastoral, but apparently there is some serious urban-scape surrounding the seemingly-rural place. Do you also shoot establishment images outside the park for context? Or use sound recordings of all the noise heard within?

Given the mood of the images, I suggested poetry might also be an option, and just this morning, Matthew sent me a poem he’d written to accompany the project. It’s lovely, so I’ll include it here:

“The bones of one world
are the soil of another
We walk the looping paths
With our children
Lost in the ash borer trails
And receding water lines
Moving with the steady force
Of generation after generation
We hear the birds singing along
With the passing planes
And the jackhammer
Of woodpeckers and road crews
Fall winter spring summer fall
The patterns shift yet remain
Loops within cycles within
Wheels within wheels”

 

Kambua Chema and I met at Filter years ago, and she’s one of those people whose positive energy is simply infectious. (Perhaps not the best adjective for #2020, now that I think about it.)

Stuck at home like the rest of us, Kambua used a telephoto lens to document the Chicagoans who used the parking lot below her apartment as a lockdown-recreational-area. As the idea is so relevant, we spent most of our review discussing the importance of the edit, and making sure the color/contrast palette stood up to the strength of her concept.

 

I spoke with Jane Yudelman, who was in lockdown in her studio in Maine, and she showed me two digital composite projects that I liked, despite the fact that I often have a bias against such strategies. Both were visually arresting, but I’m showing you the one that offered me a proper surprise.

I can’t tell you how many sea/sky images I’ve seen over the years, and I’ve shot my share of them too. (Nothing original, I’m afraid.)

Yet these image are not real horizons. So it’s more Rothko than Sugimoto, and the colors and vibe are just right, IMO.

I had a nice chat with Karen Osdieck, a Midwestern photographer and accountant, who mostly makes work out of her young boys’ lives. We discussed her antecedents, and the mentors she’d developed, as Karen has studied with some excellent female artists in the photo world.

I thought her primary project, which had achieved some success, was lacking in the color and light palette, despite the occasionally taut narratives. But her secondary project, in which she photographed one son in all the outfits he wanted to wear to Zoom school, in the pandemic, was really cool, and so #2020.

 

Last, but not least, we have Sandra Ullmann, who was trained as a psychoanalyst, and showed me a vintage, black and white project from her archive. Apparently, when one of her children had a baby, she had to drive three hours to the hospital multiple times, and discovered these wrapped trees.

There was a Jungian feeling to the project, for sure, and we discussed ways that she could shoot new subjects that might fit together with the older group. I loved them!

See you next week, and hope you all have a safe, healthy, and amazing 2021!

 

The Daily Edit – Drew Smith

- - The Daily Edit

Robbie Phillips working out the moves on “The Corner” 5.14+ (8c/+?) – Pitch 15 with Ian Cooper belaying.

Ivar Van Der Stijl killing time in the rain while waiting for the wall to dry, Helvetestind. Norway

Pete Whittaker leading pitch 18, 5.10c, on the South Face of Mount Watkins VI 5.13b, 19 pitches. Yosemite, CA.

robbie phillips does some bench pressing to stay fit while in cochamo and ian cooper gives him a spot. la junta camping, cochamo valley, chile.

Rainy rest day with Ivar Van Der Stijl relaxing at the climbers hut at the base of baugen, norway.

Eric Bissell and Jane Jackson hang out on long ledge a few pitches short of topping out the Salathe Wall 5.13 b/c on El Capitan.

Drew Smith photographed by Dylan Gordon

Photograph by Dylan Gordon

Drew Smith

Heidi: You’ve been able to align with brands that celebrate your truth and core values, how did that develop?
Drew: Working with brands that align with my core values started from friendships first. Those friendships eventually led to various opportunities and work relationships. Knowing who stands behind the brand is a good sign of what the company values. It’s just as much about the people involved as it is about the brand and I will always put that first when it comes to companies that I choose to work with.
What would you have told your younger self about brand work?
I would tell myself to align with brands that appreciate me as much as I do them. The journey to success might take longer but will be more of an enriched path.
How did your work with Patagonia shape you?
Over the years, Patagonia has given me the opportunity to continue to live my life and simply document it along the way. They value authenticity and encourage photographers to capture those real moments, so if anything, working with Patagonia has encouraged me to hold on to what feels honest and true to myself. I’ve also built a lot of confidence working with the editors who I’ve built relationships with. Those relationships have provided a path where I constantly grow as a photographer due to genuine conversations and feedback about my work.

How have you been navigating life interrupted this year?
Usually, I travel internationally for expeditions and shoots throughout the year, but this year I’ve shifted to keeping things closer to home. I’ve been spending more time shooting product and doing more commercial photography: taking advantage of this time to invest in different realms of this art form. In a lot of ways, shooting on expeditions is easy for me – it’s what I’m comfortable with and the inspiration comes easily. I know this time, strengthening other skills, will only help me to become more well-rounded and a better photographer overall. I’ve also been spending more time exploring closer to home. I’ve spent the past year around Montana, Wyoming, and Utah, going to places off the beaten path in my own backyard. It amazes me how fast humans adapt and how the new norm can shift with the blink of an eye.

Covid left us all wanting to help those in need, how did that manifest for you?
When Covid first hit, I felt a mix of depression and helplessness with a conviction to do something. People were getting laid off left and right. Families and businesses were suffering and still are. In many ways, I was largely unaffected and covid enlightened the disparity of people’s experiences living in the same country. Right away there was a high demand for masks for people in the healthcare industry. I felt that making masks was one small thing I could do to help. My girlfriend and I learned how to sew and made masks from scrap fabric I had at the house. We donated the masks through a program where they got distributed to local organizations in need. It wasn’t much, but I could see how the cumulative effect of small actions could be a powerful force for support and change.

Rhiannon Klee sewing mask. Salt Lake City. Lock Down.

This year has been pretty awful, share some stoke about your close to home adventures.
I spent most of the summer in my home state of Montana exploring new areas with my girlfriend. We did a ton of adventure climbing, where no other climbers were venturing, and enjoyed the solitude. We also spent time finding hot springs and waterfalls on rest days. It was a meaningful experience to reconnect with the place I grew up in.

You’ve been on the road for 15 years, 3 best lessons from that experience?
1. The most valuable part of being on the road is getting to interact with a wide range of people because it’s an opportunity to have a better understanding of those that differ from you. My experience on the road has not been limited to climbing trips. I’ve worked in construction, wilderness therapy, search and rescue (just to name a few). I’m grateful for all I’ve absorbed from those different experiences. You carry that stuff with you and it becomes a part of who you are.
2. In a weird way, not having security has made me feel secure. being less rooted, I’m more comfortable not having a plan and more comfortable with change.
3. In our world of consumerism, people are constantly buying stuff. Being on the road, you really can’t have much and so you realize that you don’t need much. For years I only owned what I could fit in my vehicle and it’s been a good reminder throughout my life.

I know you’re committed to creating meaningful and honest images, what’s the key ingredient?
Connecting with authenticity. Finding those moments that feel real, when people are being themselves. When people are comfortable and doing what they love, that’s when you’ll catch genuine moments. I also think the more genuine and honest I am as the photographer, the more people give back that same level of authenticity: real gets real.

You’re living life fully and your parents support you with the power of love, how do you balance risk and love?
I factor the people that I love into my decision making when it comes to risk. In all of my years of climbing, I’ve developed an understanding of my abilities and I try to approach risk that is in line with my skill level. I think my parents have taught me a lot about the relationship between love and risk. They not only support me out of love, but they support me because they want me to be who I am, which to me is the greatest form of love.

You were recently featured in Firestone Walker, how did that inform your creative process after that project? You were in front of the lens this time.
I think being behind the lens, as well and in front of it, is an important part of any creative process. After seeing what was captured and chosen with the angels and compositions, it made me even more aware of the differences in perspectives. How I see myself might be different than how others see me since they are bringing their own narratives into it. It’s more collaborative than you might realize. My family said the film captured who I was and that made me proud because that’s how I want people to see me, (in a genuine way)

Tell us about Kyrgyzstan.
Last winter, two friends and I traveled around Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. We drove 3,000 miles around remote areas in search of new ice lines. It was a personal trip with no professional agenda and it connected me to the origin of why I started taking photos in the first place. I felt fully immersed in the experience without pressure and found myself wanting to capture it all: from the people we met, to the broke down van that barely got us around, and of course the remote ice lines. I was taking photos constantly. It was a good reminder that you don’t need a big mountain or a solid plan to have a good adventure.

Featured Promo – James Hartley

- - The Daily Promo

James Hartley

Who printed it?
Cryptic Carousel in Brooklyn, NY.
They do cassette duplication and manufacturing, and could make a custom cover that functioned as a photo booklet.

Who designed it?
I did. It’s a mixtape, had to keep it hand-written and personal.

Tell me about the images?
Block Rockers is an ongoing portrait series of New Yorkers i’ve seen out on the street, playing music through their boomboxes and outdoor speakers. When the portraits are made, the song they’re playing is noted, and later mixed with field recordings I’ve made around the city. The images, songs & recordings combine to create a visual mixtape of the city.

Tell me about combining images with sound?
The booklet functioning as a visual tracklist is what brought the project together for me. Seeing who’s playing what song brings personality to the photos and the music, like you’re walking the city and these are the characters you meet. It’s a quintessential New York thing!

How many did you make?
100. I sent about 10 out as press/promo, and the rest sold at the launch or online.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I’ll send stuff out whenever I release or self publish something. I’ll aim for one a year, but it varies.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I don’t think it’s essential, nor should anyone feel pressured to, but it can’t hurt. I think it’s good to see your work on different mediums, and I like having physical copies of personal projects I’ve done. Doesn’t hurt to share that…

This Week in Photography: The End is Nigh?

 

 

I’ve always been an optimist.

 

And if you’ve been reading this column for any length of time, you’ll know it’s true.

(Until this year, that is.)

Fucking #2020.
What a bitch.

If I’m being honest, I probably started questioning my faith in positivity a bit earlier in the thankfully-soon-to-be-over Trump presidency.

Because back in my young 30’s, with Barack Obama’s ascent, I was enamored of his theory that the long arch of history bends towards justice.

Hasn’t Hollywood been pumping us full of that happy-ending juice for a Century now? (Until Tom Holland’s Spiderman dies at the end of that Avengers film, that is.)

Haven’t we been primed to believe things will work themselves out eventually?

Because there is ample evidence in human history that corruption, and the lust for power and wealth, can also create super-long periods where “regular” people consistently get the shit end of the stick.

For every Pax Americana, or Athenian Democracy, there has been a counter-balancing Aztec Empire, Nazi Regime, or Enrique Peña Nieto nightmare. (Sorry, Mexico. Didn’t mean to pick on you twice.)

Which makes a week like this one feel so very, perfectly, unbelievably #2020.

The US surpasses 300,000 dead, but we also get the vaccine. The Electoral College does its job and votes for Biden, but certain right-wing figures continue to imply a Civil War is coming.

People are dying, constantly.
But maybe better days are ahead?

It’s hard to make sense of things, in the week before Xmas, and after I confidently slammed the door on #2019, begging for #2020, I’m now cautiously peeking around the corner, hoping 2021 doesn’t kick us in the balls.

I’m not even sure the calendar will turn as it’s supposed to, because this year has felt like 10 years and 10 days simultaneously.

In previous columns, we’ve discussed that time functioned differently during this plague year, but still, my optimism is buried deep enough that even New Year’s Eve seems illusory.

The year has been so long, in fact, that I received a book in late February, just before lockdown, and it’s sat in my submission pile ever since. (That part is understandable, as it often takes me a year to comb though the stack.)

But this book, a small catalogue really, was one I didn’t request, nor did the artist reach out before sending, so when I finally opened it up, I was clueless as to what I’d be seeing.

It’s called “a.non.y.mous,” by Robert George, published by Archer Gallery Press, and the return address was from Saint Louis, so I was really flying blind.

There is a well-written, short statement in the beginning, that veers towards art-speak, but never crosses the line. It intrigued me, in particular this line: “individualism has defined America in the past, but as the world grows larger, we become more and more anonymous.”

Late last year, I wrote a huge article comparing China and America, and questioned whether our over-reliance on individuality, at the expense of any sense of collective responsibility, might soon bite us in the ass?

(And #2020 answered that question, did it not?)

I’m no fan of autocracy, as everyone knows, but I suggested we could do with a slightly stronger sense of social fabric, as Trump was shredding so much of our decency and moral standing.

(And here we are, in a world where people would rather allow others to die than wear a stupid fucking mask.)

Though the book’s introduction suggests it will have a bit of an intellectual, or scholarly bent, we end up with a lovely, short jaunt through a set of cohesive street photos. (Or documentary images, depening on your preference of terms.)

Mostly, we see solitary figures, often children, out in a varied world. (Not exclusively Saint Louis, I’m guessing.) That there are so many subtle symbols of American culture and history, in such a short book, is commendable. (Like Spiderman.)

But here’s the kicker: the book implies it was shot and published in #2020. (Based on the end notes.)

All of it?

But it arrived in my mailbox at the end of February.

So the entire narrative must span the beginning of this year; all of it before lockdown?

The masks.
The loneliness.
The broken heroes.

All of it?

Somehow, a story that feels like it was made for our 9 month ordeal, was created just before it began?

Including the protests?

We also see two carnivals, which are pretty much the perfect examples of what we have lost.

(The fun, freedom, and whimsy.)

I’m properly impressed by this little volume, and do wonder if it would have had the same power if they’d tried to cram in 60 pictures, and built the thing with more a more imposing physical structure?

Instead, it feels more poem than novel. (More Robert Frost than Jonathan Franzen.)

I hope you enjoy it, and as I’ll be off next week for the holiday, I’ll see you again in 2021.

(If Armageddon doesn’t get here first…)

To contact the artist about the book, click here

 

 

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Cam Camarena

- - Personal Project

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:  Cam Camarena

The concept behind the “Awkward” series was to explore the Inner Awkward that each of us experience. Sometimes it’s an alter ego, sometimes it’s a feeling we express or experience either by choice or involuntarily within certain situations. I believe the human condition we all share includes those moments when we either say the wrong thing, laugh at the wrong moment, or make an attempt at a joke that nobody else seems to relate to. We have all been there.

My artistic objective of “Awkward” is to visually recreate some of these emotions. Finding that precise moment of having just put my foot in my mouth, the butterflies created when that pretty girl looked at me in such a way, or that struggle of faking my way through a conversation in which I am totally lost. These are all occasions we feel vulnerable or maybe even disconnected. However these experiences do not always have to be uncomfortable, they can be exploratory and even liberating, and many times down right funny.

Central to my work and process is connection. There has to be a human connection to the process of creating these images, and that’s where my job becomes important and for me one of the best elements. I truly enjoy working with people, connecting with them and letting each do their thing/be themselves with some guidance and instruction. Through this process I guide my subject, they guide me, somewhere something will get Awkward, and together we create our images. It’s my goal for the viewer to possibly identify with something within this series as it invokes an awareness to a visceral moment in time, remember that time, and smile about it.

To see more of this project, click here.

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

- - The Daily Edit

Sports Illustrated

Director of Photography: Marguerite Schropp Lucarelii
Photo Editor: Abby Nicolas
Photographer: Jeffery Salter

Heidi: You’ve been a long time contributor to SI, what made this project different?
Jeffery: I have always received commissions from Sports Illustrated for assignments which involved trust.  That’s creative images that require me to establish that trust very quickly with the professional athlete. When I was on staff at the magazine my beat was hang out with the athlete at home, in the barbershop or even in the nightclub to capture their life off the field.  Now I do covers for the magazine which involve a concept, mood and energy.

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
This feature “Total Athlete” also was about trust.  The players were willing to discard the uniform and gear to display their physiques.  They trusted that I would make them look powerful.  It was an honor and a challenge. Normally I bring in a lot of lights, modifiers, effects and even a haze machine to help bring on the drama.  I was asked to keep the images poetic and strong.  I still used a lot of gear….tho!  But controlled them so they simply built layers of shadow and highlights to create texture and drama.  More Chiaroscuro and less snap, crackle pop!It was a rare opportunity to show what’s the force or engine underneath the athletes uniform.  A snapshot to capture the strength in a frozen moment.

How did covid affect your production or creative process?
Having a COVID safe production was and is top of mind when working on set with an top athlete or even being commissioned to do a small portrait of mom and pop business owner.   For this set – it was mainly one trusted photo assistant who also is strict about maintaining social distance – off the set and on set.  I used a longish lens to do the portraits to keep my distance – which wasn’t problem because the athletes – Derrick Henry and Caeleb Dressel are huge. Since it was more of a collaboration being me and the athlete I did let them take a look at the laptop – I would stand six feet away – so they could spot check their form

Why black and white?
We wanted to keep the focus on the muscles – sinewy and powerful – combined with perfect form.   Black and white combined with light and shadow allowed us to create images which helped us achieve both of those goals.

 

 

 

Featured Promo – Michael Kleber

- - The Daily Promo

Michael Kleber

Who designed it?
Me

Tell me about the images and the promo.
At the beginning of 2020 I received an inquiry from Felix Rähmer an athlete from Berlin to accompany him to the triathlon 70,3 in Graz, Austria. I was intrigued by the idea, and we decided to work together right away.

My original concept was to document not only his participation in the triathlon itself but also to feature his preparation process prior to the event. We wanted to shoot a series of photos showcasing his daily routines, running, cycling and swimming as well as a performance test at the hospital.

Then came February and the Corona pandemic hit the world at full force. As restrictions came crushing down on us all cultural and sports events got cancelled. Graz triathlon was no exception.

At this point we had already started our documentation process and were quite frustrated to see the whole thing falling apart.

But every setback is a chance in disguise. As social contacts were heavily restricted at the time. Felix and I began a one on one sports routine and went biking together on a regular basis.

During a two month period my „urban cycling“ series came to be, was finalized soon after and finished of with wonderful retouches from vividgrey. This project was also the first time that I used “back on track“ as a slogan for the backside of my cards. I like to give my promos a personal touch, something a little more tangible and handcrafted. So I decided to write it by hand instead of just printing it.

How many did you make?
I made 500 sets with 3 cards each.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
At least two times a year. I send out postcards and booklets highlighting certain aspects of my work. Alongside with my digital newsletters you this will give you a good overview to the work I do.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
For sure. Even though printed promos make up for just a small fraction of my marketing, they are a vital asset.

Especially at times were in person meetings with my clients are very limited I still like to have a way to get through to them on a personal level. A postcard is a nice way to achieve that.

In my experience, a print on paper is appreciated so much more than another email getting lost in the infinite flood of messages.