Sam Jones is a go-to photographer for many magazines, studios and ad agencies when it comes to shooting actors. In over 20 years of shooting he’s noticed an unfortunate trend working for magazines. Less time; less control over wardrobe, location, heck even what side of the face you get to shoot; less choice in what to shoot with; which in his mind equals less exciting pictures. No unguarded moments or glimpses into their real lives. So, he decided to do something about it and created his own vehicle for “more” called offCamera.

Sam cracked open his formidable rolodex and started calling in favors to have actors, musicians, athletes and artists come into his studio for a simple daylight portrait shoot and one on one video interview with five unmanned cameras rolling. He then turns that into a magazine, a website, a video interview, and even a podcast. His theory, that there are others like him who want to experience long form stories and documentaries, who want simple portraits, who want the photographer, director and writer to be in control again.

I believe this is one more in a trend I see where people decide it’s time to take the power back and do what they want. If the audience and client come with you great, if not you still got to make something your way again. I am actually quite confident, based on evidence of other photographers creating their own publication, that Sam will find his audience and clients who agree with him on this. They will phone up and say “can you do that offCamera thing for us”? As I mentioned to Sam when he first told me about this project, your own publication if anything is an excellent excuse to call someone up and interview them. Inevitably that leads somewhere, either through the connection you just made or the people who are watching what you are doing.

From the editor letter in the first issue:

I started Off Camera to have my own magazine, my own radio station, and my own television studio. I wanted the opportunity to have a non-agenda conversation with anyone that captivated me. I wanted the chance to photograph anyone that peaked my interest, without having an art director or a publicist looking over my shoulder.

I have a strong reaction to over-produced, over-hyped, over-stimulating pieces of short content that leave me feeling like I am learning nothing. It has taken me a lifetime to develop my attention span, and I want to use it. I like a long book. I like a long documentary. I like a 15000 word magazine profile. I created Off Camera for those of us that salivate at the prospect of a good book, a stiff drink, and an afternoon with no plans.

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  1. Nice!

  2. Ordered. Here’s to enough success that I need to renew at some point.

  3. Brilliant. DIY is the future for serious, high-quality work.

  4. I think Mr. Jones has an amazing idea! For years magazines have been chipping away at every bit of creative input we have as photographers and reducing the amount they pay to boot. They could always fall back on “We can get someone else to do it for cheaper” or even “Free”. Lets face it. It’s about great content, and if photographers are creating great content, who the hell needs these crappy magazines!?
    I’d love to say goodbye to these shitty publications and pay photographers, graphic designers, musicians, whoever is creating good work, directly. Sign me up Mr. Jones. You can have my $.

  5. “It has taken me a lifetime to develop my attention span, and I want to use it. ”

    I think Sam Jones read my mind.

  6. Where’s my “stiff drink” to go along with this high level dose of shallow idol worship?
    This is ground breaking?

  7. Yes, I think it’s just another celebrity stroke fest.

  8. Love this! And the same could be said of books . . .

  9. The following is more exciting than the uber-irony of proclaiming that someone as talented and well known as Sam Jones has to have an outlet for his photography because his “editorial” work is too controlled by outside forces. If it’s truly editorial then he should be doing what he wants to not postponing it until the handlers are out of the sphere of influence. Call me naive, but if it’s not advertising, then why should we accept his work as genuinely editorial after all of the controls are lifted?
    This is what people do when given the opportunity the first time:

  10. […] Off Camera is an interesting magazine concept that focuses on long format stories about celebrities without the interference of overly brand conscious PR people – to really get back to fascinating and genuine editorial images. […]

  11. Now you’re TALKING

  12. Good stuff. But he – like everyone else (including me) – still needs a good editor. Piqued is not the same as “peaked.” And typically, “15000” needs a comma to be readable. Compound adjectives should be hyphenated (15,000-word). Like and as do not have the same meanings. People aren’t “that”; they are who or whom. In most journalistic styles, you do not precede “and” in a series with a comma (unless it’s required for clarity because of another “and” in the sentence). If I were his journalism professor, the quoted paragraphs from the editor letter, at best, would warrant a D grade.

    Just as handing a writer a camera does not make him an accomplished photographer, giving a photographer the tools of an editor does not make him good at using them. Using correct grammar, coherent style and accurate word choice is not “overproduction” (one word, according to AP Style).

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