Yearly Archives: 2012

This Week In Photography Books – LΓ©onie Hampton

by Jonathan Blaustein

For some time now, I’ve wanted to write about why Art matters. On the heels of the high-minded and perhaps overly serious interview I conducted with JΓΆrg Colberg, it’s been on my mind. It’s one thing to exclaim “The World Needs More Art,” and quite another to explain why.

As I’ve repeated endlessly and perhaps obnoxiously, I went to art school in New York. And throughout the entire process, I came to believe that Art can be anything. Photographs, paintings, food, music, objects, dance, ideas: it’s all on the table. The intention is what matters. If you declare something to be art, then it is. From there, of course, the difficult job is to determine what the “Art” means, and if it’s any good or not. Clearly, this is a subjective process. Ultimately, what’s seen as “great” or “the best” varies pretty widely, depending on the audience.

Some work ends up in the Met or the Louvre, some on the walls of a small cafΓ©, and much of it never leaves the home of it’s creator. So the next question is, why do people do it? Ed Burtynsky said he felt making things to be a part of his DNA, and I’ve heard that many times before. Most artists, myself included, make things because they must. In my own case, if I don’t have the time and/or energy to work on creative output, my personality changes… for the worse. (I turn into a cranky bitch, if you must know.)

And that’s where we start to get into the real reason why people create. Because, after all, Art-making is really just about the exercise of creativity. All kids do it, and then it’s socialized out of most everyone. We random rebels and infidels are left to color and draw as adults, with our goatees and over-inflated egos. Right?

Not exactly. I don’t advertise it, but I’ve been teaching at-risk high school students for almost seven years. My students come from very difficult families and situations. Some are involved in gang activity and drug dealing. Others have become pregnant during the term. It’s a tough but smart group of kids. I learn every week, and have to be flexible to make it work. But work it does, and here’s why.

The secret is that making Art, creating things, is a transformative process. The act of creation takes certain elements of our psyche, energy, if you will, and morphs it out of our heads and into the real world. Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, but it can be alchemized. The reason why Art works so well in therapy is that it allows for negative energy and/or trauma to be cleared out of our heads, and turned into something productive, without having to speak about things literally. Pictures can communicate energy without words, and in so doing, can tell stories that would be otherwise stuck in the murky world of the subconscious. The act of creation is akin to shining light on our shadows, (Jung again) and it enables the creator the opportunity to move on. Catharsis.

I’ve struggled with whether to write this, as I’m aware that to many it will seem like New Age nonsense from a Taos hippie. I get it. But at the same time, I’ve gone all in, as it were, discussing Art each and every week, so I thought it was only appropriate to explain why. Before I discovered photography, I was an up-tight, insecure, very lost little Jersey boy. Then, once I found a method to channel my anxiety and angst into something tangible, everything fell into place. (And now I feed food scraps to the coyotes.)

Speaking of shadows, in my stack of books this week, I found “In the Shadow of Things,” a new book by LΓ©onie Hampton, published in Rome by Contrasto Books. (It was funded through The F Award for documentary photography.) It seems the perfect example of what I’m trying so earnestly to explicate. The long, rambling photographic narrative is difficult to pin down, but within a the first few images, we know this is a family. Of hoarders, perhaps? But definitely a family, and something is awry.

Throughout the photo section of the book, I never quite sorted out what the deal was. But I didn’t mind, as the pictures were so good. Enchanting, really. Very well made, and in that terrific style where everything seems important, and it’s all done with the proper mood. A woman in a red dress flies through the air into a pile of clothes. (Yves Klein, in bizzaro world.) Varicose veins above slippers, feathers in a young boy’s hair, crumpled toilet paper, ice on a frozen swimming pool, freshly cut wet hair on a bare shoulder.

Finally, in the end, I turned to the text at the back. I knew enough to enjoy the book, to relish the ambiguity, to push towards the answer, and ultimately to realize it didn’t matter. I could love the photographs, and feel the artist’s emotional tenor, without knowing why. That’s why art matters. Because it represents a world without clear answers. Which is the world in which we live.

The text, dense and long, presents a transcript of interviews between the artist and her family. Primarily her mother, the odd woman featured in so many of the photographs. She’s got OCD, and I suppose we’d call her mentally ill. The entire book, seen in this context, is a document of the artist’s family life. One can imagine why Ms. Hampton felt compelled to push into the misery of insanity. It’s her environment, and perhaps her genetic inheritance. But all that confusion makes sense, when seen photographically, and I’m willing to speculate that the artist understands her life a little better, having undertaken the endeavor.

It’s well established that not everyone agrees with me, nor should they. I’m aware that when I make these grand pronouncements, offer myself as an expert on the ineffable, that it can come across as arrogant. I’m willing to take that risk. But from here on in, let’s not have any confusion about what Art is. It’s anything. It’s most often made, but can sometimes be found. And I’d encourage us all to make as much as we can. Because even if it’s bad, just one more photo of a rusted old truck, there’s still value in the effort.
Botom Line: Illness, wonderfully rendered

To PurchaseΒ In the Shadow of Things visit Photo-Eye.

Full Disclosure: Books and scans were provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase. Please support Photo-Eye if you find this feature useful.

What Is The Most Difficult Thing For You About Your Photography?

- - Blog News

I don’t like to hurt people. I go after something and I start pointing the camera at somebody, looking for those hard, edgy things I know I am going to find. My pictures will be out of bounds in terms of the convention of how this person wants to be represented. It gives me pause. I don’t feel I have the right to do that. But I do it nevertheless. After all, a picture is not a murder. It is simply a moment which suggests so many things.

via A Moment With Larry Fink –

The Daily Edit – Friday

- - The Daily Edit

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Creative Director: Bernard Scharf
Design Director: Sandra Garcia
Art Director: Wendy Scofield
Photo Editor: Whitney Lawson
Associate Photo Editor: David Alexander Arnold

Photographer: Andrea Wyner

Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted.


Heidi: How does an assignment like this come up? Were you already there?
Andrea: I was getting a lot of work in Italy and Europe, I was already traveling Β and splitting my time between NY and CA so I decided to add a base in Italy too.Β Yes, I was in Italy. Β My assistant and I were so excited , he always wanted to be a Pizzaiolo and learn from the best.

Did you travel with the writer?
Not on this assignment but sometimes yes.

Did you have more then one feature to shot while you were there for the magazine?
I was actually on another assignment for T&L, a feature in Sicily when they asked me to shoot Pizza Quest

Roma or Napoli?

Still Images In Great Advertising – John Fulton

Still Images In Great Advertising, is a new column whereΒ Suzanne Sease discovers great advertising images and then speaks with the photographers about it.

When I saw this ad, I reached out to Blake Pearson, John Fulton’s agent. It caught my attention because it required the viewer to stop and look a little closer. You see the hula dancer and then you read the headline- very creative! I also like that this creative ad is done by a smaller agency showing folks you really should market to everyone in multiple platforms. I researched John and found out that he lived out of Savannah, GA but shot all over the world. A lot of times, you can live where you are happy and have a successful career.

Suzanne: I love the fact that John Fulton lives in Savannah, GA and has been featured in the Communication Arts “Fresh” feature. How did you join forces?
Blake: I noticed several of John’s images in PDN’s photo annual and felt he had great potential. We met in person a few weeks later and have been working together ever since.

The ad is a wonderful mix of John’s landscape style and humor- but this time instead of a person we have a humorous prop- Did John have a lot of say in the propping of the typical Hula Doll?
Initially, we thought surely a witty toy maker would have already made a geriatric hula girl, but no such luck. To make the elderly hula doll John photographed a dozen different dolls on location to attain as much source material as possible so it could be built digitally. Often, he does all his own retouching but in this case we sourced Chris Bodie (also with VISU ARTISTS) who has a background in illustration, to help with the actual build of the doll. John and Chris worked in tandem with the art director to dial in the final look of the image. The ad has been such a success for the client that they’re currently having elderly hula girls fabricated for several other promotions.

How did Brunner find John?
Brunner discovered John through a mix of personal relationships, direct mail and online marketing. John is wonderful to work with and we have developed a great relationship with Brunner. He’s photographed campaigns for several of the agency’s clients over the last couple of years.


Note: Content for Still Images In Great Advertising is found. Submissions are not accepted.

John studied at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, CA and presently works out of Savannah, Ga. He is currently featured in American Photo’s Β column “One to Watch” and was named to the Archive 2012 – 2013 Best Ad Photographers Worldwide. He is represented by VISU ARTISTS.

APE contributorΒ Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.

Introspective, navel-gazing nitpickers

- - Blog News

So rather than complain about the introspective nature of photobooks or the endless discussions on the nature of work, we should not follow others but should instead go out into the world and find work that interests and inspires us on its own account, not the account of others. And if we can’t see that work, or find that work, if it’s not available to us except through the word of others, then perhaps we should just let it pass us by. If you can’t touch it, it’s not really there.

via Colin Pantall’s blog

The Daily Edit – Thursday

- - The Daily Edit

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Creative Director, Print and Digital Media: John Korpics
Senior Director, Photography: Karen Frank
Senior Director, Design: John Lancaster
Art Directors: Mike Leister, Marne Mayer, John Yun
Senior Deputy Photo Editor: Nancy Weisman

Photographer: Finlay MacKay

Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted.

Is There a Mass Market For Good Journalism?

- - The Future

There’s a new great post by Clay Shirky titled “Newspapers, Paywalls, and Core Users” that investigates the metered paywall that the NY Times and others have deployed to stem shrinking profits. As he’s talked about before Clay discusses the bundling of desperate content that a newspaper represents and the tough reality of unbundled content on the internet; where Dear Abbey, horoscopes and crossword puzzels are more popular than investigative journalism. The metered paywall gives national papers the ability to attract a large audience interested in a few things and still charge hardcore users. Currently there are two successful models to charge people for media content: mass, where you go for that largest possible audience and advertisers who want to reach them and niche, where you carefully define your audience and advertisers who need a very specific demographic. Combining the two is the metered paywall where you get a massive audience and a readily identified hardcore group willing to pay.

Clay goes on to say:

This is new territory for mainstream papers, who have always had head count rather than engagement as their principal business metric. Celebrities behaving badly always drive page-views through the roof, but those readers will be anything but committed. Meanwhile, the people who hit the threshold and then hand over money are, almost by definition, people who regard the paper not just as an occasional source of interesting articles, but as an essential institution, one whose continued existence is vital no matter what today’s offerings are.

Unfortunately this is not a good solution for smaller papers because “they produce so little original content.”

So, is there a mass market for good journalism?

There has never been a mass market for good journalism in this country. What there used to be was a mass market for print ads, coupled with a mass market for a physical bundle of entertainment, opinion, and information; these were tied to an institutional agreement to subsidize a modicum of real journalism.

The metered paywall appears to solve this problem.

The Daily Edit – Wednesday

- - The Daily Edit

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XXC Magazine

Art Director, Photo Editor, Designer: Jason Mahokey
Photographer:Β Jason Mahokey

Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted.

Heidi: What made you want to self publish an online and print endurance mountain bike magazine?
Jason: It was pretty selfish really – there wasn’t one and I wanted to read one. I’ve been a mid-pack-at-best amateur mountain bike racer for about ten years and I’ve always loved magazines, especially bike magazines. But no mountain bike magazine was covering endurance racing and riding the way I wanted. I wanted race recaps that were more than blurbs sandwiched between ads. I wanted recaps and stories that went beyond who beat whom and by how much. I wanted personal accounts of the pain, emotion, humor and craziness that comes along with endurance mountain bike racing and epic rides.

What are the visual challenges you have with this project?
Beyond the challenges of being the mag’s publisher, art director and sales rep, along with contributing articles and photos, each issue of XXC has the challenge of tracking down photos that are the quality I’m looking for, of the racers I am looking for and that are available at a price I can afford. As you can imagine not many folks racing a 100 mile race are carrying a camera with them and taking shots while they race, so I need to rely on both pro and amateur photographers that may have been shooting the race. Of course I have received some incredible point and shoot shots over the years from contributors doing races like The Colorado Trail Race, The Tour Divide, etc.

What is your distribution like and how do you hope to grow?
Right now the magazine is available in three formats: free online viewing on, paid digital download and print via The free version gets the most views and often gets up to 4,000+ reads. The paid print and digital version get one to two hundred per issue. Exact numbers are hard to track as the magazine really has an endless shelf life and back issues can continue to be viewed and purchased long after the publication date.

I would love to get the magazine on a solid publishing schedule and be able to have issues printed in bulk that could be sold in bike shops and other retail outlets. Being that 95% of the magazine’s articles are submitted by readers, I am never 100% sure how much content I’ll have for a given issue, so the publication schedule continues to be very much written in sand. Beyond the print and digital magazine in 2012 I have plans to introduce more content in the form of podcasts and video coverage to the website, but not at the risk of the magazine’s quality.

2012 – Success Or Die Trying

- - The Future

I think everyone is feeling the same thing about 2012, “time to go kick some ass” and I wanted to point out a couple posts that I saw from the end of last year that I know you will find helpful. Before I do that I want to emphasize my own commitment to finding and reporting on success in media and photography. Being unsuccessful is easy. Lets look at and talk to people who are having a career in the middle of the information revolution. And lets not get hung up on the path they took to get there.

I have two pieces of advice for you to begin 2012. Go to this wonderful list of business books and pick one out ( to read. Don’t worry about reading it cover to cover or memorizing everything or taking notes. This is not college. You’re in a unique position of owning your own business. You can discover an idea or principle and put it into action immediately and move on. It’s an awesome position to be in, so take advantage of it. One of the books I read last year was “Blue Ocean Strategy” and learned that all things being equal between two competing companies the only thing left is to do is lower your price. To avoid this Red Ocean scenario, get rid of something others find valuable and use that time/energy/money to create something nobody else has.

The first post I found comes from Luke Copping and is titled Lessons For 2012:

Stop hanging around people who have given up

I see it all the time on blogs, on forums, at industry events, and any other place that photographers and creatives might gather en masse – an overwhelming sense of negativity that pervades this industry like a virus. What the finger of accusation is pointing at seems to change weekly, and complaints about clients, rates, technology, MWACs, pro-sumers, students, the internet, micro-stock, and the economy all start to sound the same after a while – a jumble of depressing but comforting noise that can suck you in and have you spouting the same rhetoric back at others. But, if you listen to that noise long enough, one crystal clear idea starts to creep through – that this is ultimately about blame. The underlying mantra behind so many of these complaints can often be reduced and simplified to one statement; β€œThis is not my fault, this is caused by something beyond my control, so I do not have to act to fix it.” This kind of thinking may bring some small amount of cathartic relief, especially when joining in with the masses collectively laying blame on something else, but it will do absolutely nothing to remedy the situation.

I am so over it, and I don’t want to be part of that culture of excuses.

That is why I am so grateful to have made a conscious decision over the last year to surround myself with people so against this type of hive negativity that the idea of giving up and giving in is completely alien to them – either because of their unrelenting positivity, or their indefatigable passion pushing them to take actions that they believe in to find answers to their problems.

Read the whole thing here.

And, this gem from Leslie Burns titled “10 Things to do for Your Biz in 2012 (the gloves come off).”

Forget about oldΒ selling tools like β€œelevator speeches.” Look, no one gives a shit who you are or what you do when you shill.

Fuck SEO. Seriously, unless you are shooting weddings/portraits and/or your work is specifically related to your geography, fuck it (and even for those of you who do weddings, etc., don’t spend too much time at it).

Get out of your office/out from behind your computer and interact with people. Social media is a form of connection but it’s a weak one. You want to get work, you need to meet people in real life.

Go check it out (here). It’s plentyΒ incendiaryΒ and a great way to get in a kick-ass mood. I wish everyone “success or die trying” in 2012.


Adapt To Survive

- - Blog News

I’ve found the last couple of years the most difficult since I started out – but not fatal. Can the new opportunities replace the fading print market and collapsing library sales? Probably not for everyone. However, many of the old rules still apply. Quality and originality still have value. Niche specialisms are always in demand. Surviving as a freelance in the digital age requires new skills and an openness to new markets, but it is possible – and at least the scrabbling around should feel familiar

via BBC News.

The Daily Edit – Tuesday

- - The Daily Edit

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Creative Director: Rockwell Harwood
Design Director: Nathalie Kirsheh
Senior Photo Editor: Ashley Horne
Contributing Photo Editor: Stacey DeLorenzo 

Photographer: John Balsom

Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted.

Email Subscription To APhotoEditor

- - Uncategorized

If you are subscribed to receive emails from APhotoEditor each time a post is made I’m moving to a digest format so you can get all the posts in a single email (not 3 emails a day 5 days a week). You can go here to sign up for the new digest format from feedburner: Subscribe to A Photo Editor by Email and cancel the other account. There’s also signup links on the sidebar and up in the header with all the other subscription options (everything is reposted on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook if you prefer reading news on those services).

This Week In Photography Books – Friedlander

- - Photo Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

The sun has yet to rise on the first Monday of the year. It’s ten degrees outside, and I’m sitting on a green pull-out couch in my gray cotton boxers. I’m also wearing a fifteen-year-old brown flannel shirt, unbuttoned. My hair, washed before bed, is standing in six directions, like the drummer in a band that you’ve never heard of. Like Lee Friedlander.

I feel naughty just for writing about how silly I look right now. None of us wakes up like someone in a TV Show. Seriously, have you ever noticed that people always kiss each other with morning breath in the movies? Please. So here I am, just rolled out of bed, and the very, very last thing that I would do is take a picture of myself. No, scratch that. The very last thing I would do is to show a photo of myself, looking as I do now, to anyone. No, wrong again. The very, very, very last thing I would do is to publish said photograph in a book. Yes, that’s the last thing I would do.

So it’s a good thing that Lee Friedlander is a braver man than I. Or crazier? Edgier? What’s the right word? (Other than better, which is too obvious.) I’ve written about the man before. Twice in fact. Last time was for a book of previously unreleased images of some cars in Detroit in the Sixties. Nice book, but mostly interesting because no one had seen the particular photos before.

Today, I’m here to talk about “Lee Friedlander: In the Picture. Self-Portraits 1958-2011,” which was recently published by Yale University Press. I’m pretty uncomfortable with the fact that Yale Press now co-exists in an article with a description of my underwear. It’s quite possible I’ll live to regret it. So why would I do such a thing? Because I’m writing about an artist who was far more fearless than that. Let’s call it a tribute review. Next thing you know, I’ll put on tight jeans and bandana, round up some friends, and start shimmying on stage to “Dancin’ in the Dark.” No. More likely it would be “Blinded by the Light.” Great song.

Ah, the book, you say? It’s black and thick, but not too large. The cover text colors, blue and florescent magenta, are jarring, but less so than the diptych of self portraits by Mr. Friedlander, which seem to bookend the temporal range covered inside. Rarely do I discuss things such as font color, but the inside of the flap is a day-glo lime, so clearly they were trying to make a statement right off the bat. With color. In a book of black and white images. Nice. Slowly flipping the pages, and the second photo in the book shows Mr. Friedlander, shirtless, in Taos, New Mexico, 1958. Thereby giving a little context to my half-clothed ravings. (It’s all good, bro. Clothes are for squares, man.)

OK, enough about me. The narrative is linear, the kids are born towards the beginning, and the woman I can only presume to be Mr. Friedlander’s wife looks like a be-speckled beatnik betty. Right away, the shadow comes in as a stand-in for the artist. Straight out of Jung, yo. Deep. But not quite so deep as the artist’s penetrating gaze and fantastic use of neck-fat. So unflattering, so brilliant. Really, it’s a lesson that jumps off the page here. Take more risks. Be less afraid. Push yourself. Take chances.

Last week, in the fabled comment section, a fierce debate arose over whether readers have the right to complain about my choices of things that I like. Others claimed that negative criticism is undervalued in the world of photography and art. I beg to differ. The entire critique process is based upon the concept of criticism, only it’s taught that one ought to respect others, and choose one’s words wisely. It’s best to balance a negative critique with a dose of positivity, and to use language that does not denigrate. But at the core level, the critique is about awakening deeper levels of self-awareness, so that we know, in our hearts, when a photo is not good enough. Or when we need to try harder. Or when we’re simply too derivative. So be negative all you like. But how about having the guts to turn that critical eye upon yourself? Like Lee Friedlander.

Back to the book. I swear I didn’t choose this week’s selection as a counterpoint to last week’s article, but now that I’m looking at it closely, the connection is clear. Growth. Change. The passage of time. It’s all here. A very well-made group of photographs, along with some insider references that people will love.(Robert Frank, Nick Nixon…) Most of the most recent images definitely lack the spark of the earliest pictures, but then again, no one listens to the Rolling Stone’s last album. I’d say I’m not surprised, but I saw Mr. Friedlander’s show at the Whitney in 2010, so I know he hasn’t lost it.

After the celebrity section, which at least has a few laughs, you arrive at the inevitable conclusion. The doctor’s office. The tubes. The glazed eyes. The chest scar. Heart Surgery? Probably. Does it matter? Time gets us all in the end, and it’s rarely pretty. But this book, and the artist’s career by extension, are two lessons in the value of investigation and examination, of ourselves as well as the outside world.

Bottom Line: Profound

To Purchase Lee Friedlander: In the Picture visit Photo-Eye.

Full Disclosure: Books and scans were provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.

Brands Need To Embrace A Culture Of Creativity

- - Blog News

most big businesses do not allow the time, resources or culture to benefit from the failures necessary to develop an innovative, entrepreneurial streak. He claims: β€œTo get anywhere near achieving a culture of creativity that can make your business stand out, you need people who are more excited by what is possible than they are scared of looking foolish if they are wrong.”

via Marketing Week.