The Daily Edit – Pit Magazine: Holly Cratford


Pit Magazine

Founder and Art Director: Holly Catford
Founder: Helen Graves
Founder Rob Billington

Heidi: How did Pit and Cheese magazine come about?
Holly: I started Pit with Helen Graves and Robert Billington in 2017, it was an idea I’d been thinking about for a long time and was a huge fan of Helen’s blog (foodstories) and so emailed her to go for a beer and basically we just never stopped drinking beers and having a lovely time together! Rob I’d met commissioning him for a story in Noble Rot (that I art directed with Jeremy Leslie from Magculture a million years ago) and we got on like a house on fire too so he seemed like a perfect third partner. Five years later we’re on our 12th issue and attempting to work out how we can get our little side project to start paying us. As a team we worked on Helen’s first book, Live Fire.

Cheese was started in lockdown, I’d worked with Anna Sulan Masing on another little digital magazine/event. She tweeted late one night (not sure if there was any wine involved) about wanting a cheese magazine, so I replied saying we should do it. It turns out Apoorva Siripathi had done the same thing, so we just thought we should give it a shot. We’re working on the third issue now.

How did you get your start in magazines?
When I graduated in 2012 I got a weeks work experience at Esterson Associates with Simon Esterson. I just never left. As a studio we specialise in editorial design, Simon’s been running the studio for several years. I’m very, very lucky to have been able to come along and work on such amazing projects together, I’ve learn everything I know from him. He also owns and runs Eye magazine with John L. Walters, so I also get to work on that which is every graphic designers dream. Looking back on my student work, I can see my love for editorial in everything I do. I was constantly putting together books and publications asking friends to do illustrations and take photographs, interviewing people, while everyone else did posters and logos.

You work on a variety of other titles, are you art directing and designing them all?
I’m the art director of History Today, Pit and Cheese. The art editor of Eye, Pulp and Museums Journal.

What kind of circulation do you have for cheese and Pit?
Both are 2000 copies.

How did this potato cover idea unfold?
We wanted to put the British classic the potato smiley on the cover, and then me and Rob started talking about ‘iconic potatos’ and thought of Mr Potato Head. The idea sort of spiraled from there, I bought a few potato head sets from ebay and then tried to find potatoes which would look like ourselves. Each one is a member of the team Polly (Holly), Bob (Rob) and Melon (Helen).

Do you have a regular stable of photographers you work with?
Yes and no. I have a few people I work with really closely (Rob and Caitlin Isola) on Pit. But we work with loads of people on wider projects. Philip Sayer, David Levene, Francesco Brembati, Julian Anderson, Orlando Gili,
Suki Dhanda, Ed Park, Maria Spann… the list goes on and on. I also work really closely with Millie Simpson on History Today who is an amazing picture editor. I’m very very lucky to work with all of them.

 

The Daily Edit – Andrew Hetherington: Wired Magazine


Wired Magazine

Photo Director: Anna Goldwater Alexander
Photo Editor: Samantha Cooper and Beth Holzer

Photographer: Andrew Hetherington

Heidi: Tell us how this assignment hit home for you.
Andrew: Who would have thought as a teenager in Dublin watching the telly and seeing cyclist Greg LeMond win his first World Road Race Championship back in 1983 or his first Tour De France victory in 1986 that I would one day meet the legend, let alone take his photograph and do so in Knoxville, Tennessee of all places. Well, that 13 year old had no idea where Knoxville was and could never have dreamed any of that could or would happen.

Were you always interested and following in cycling?
Yes, I have always been a keen cyclist so in November 2020 I was super excited to see the @lemondbicycles announce on IG the release of two carbon commuter E-Bikes, the Prolog and the Dutch, to be followed in 2022 with road and gravel versions.
Greg has always been a pioneer in cycling technology and design especially when it came to the use and development of carbon fiber. Even in his racing days he was at the front of the peloton when it came to innovation, aero dynamics and geometry and launched his own manufacturing company LeMond Bicycles.Long story short and after a licensing deal with Trek, that created what would become one of the nation’s top road brands, went bad, ended up in lawsuits and was eventually settled in 2010. Greg has since pivoted to the research and development of disruptive carbon fiber technology leading to the creation of his company – LeMond Carbon

Was this assignment was a perfect mix of work and play?
So when I got an email from Beth @wired wondering if I would be up for photographing the new bikes and Greg himself for an upcoming feature in the magazine it was a no brainer yes.

How long have you been in Atlanta?
I have been based in Atlanta the last couple of years and have been road tripping to assignments throughout the south. FL, AL, LA, SC, NC, AR and TN are all well within driving distance so was an easy-ish commute to and from the location in Knoxville.

Did you get a ride in?
The weather was pretty wet that day so that limited the shoot to inside the facility and office space. Although I did get to test ride a Prolog around the assembly floor have to say it’s a winning ride as well as being an absolute looker!!!

Was was the direction from the magazine?
The creative was to shoot as much of the building and assembly process as was allowed and wasn’t top secret. Samantha Cooper who had taken over as the photo editor on the shoot from Beth by the time it became  reality put together a shot list and an image pull from my site for creative. The one must get was a shot of a bike itself dismantled with all its parts showing. This was pre-approved by LeMond and we had help piece it all together from their Creative Director on set which was a huge help. I also got an edit of the story in advance (which is not always the case) and that’s was super helpful to help wrap ones mind around creative and indeed logistics.

Were you star struck?
I heard Greg’s voice down the hall before I met him and have to say I was a little nervous. He is a legend after all. Happy to report he is an absolute class act, a true champ, one of the most engaging, animated, passionate, honest, open and panache filled folk I have ever had the pleasure of photographing. He wanted us to shoot everything, even the secret stuff and had to be reined in a couple time there. Obvs, I was totally star struck fan boy but dug deep and managed to hold it together (I think) like a pro for the shoot.

We shot with Greg first and then wrapped the shoot with the bike parts as that took a little time and finessing…

The Daily Edit – Brendan Davis: Patagonia Spring Journal 2022


Photographer: Brendan Davis
Photo Editor: Jakob Reisinger

Heidi: The use of natural light for the portrait is striking, how did that come about?
Brendan: This whole run was meant to shed light on the impacts of the potential catastrophe of copper mining in the Boundary Waters. I have gotten to know Alex fairly well over the course of this project and I have become aware that a lot of his life is dedicated to shining light on how amazing the Boundary Waters are to different people, whether it’s doing this run, bringing his kids on canoe trips, or in his work as the government relations director for the Save The Boundary Waters organization. He wants people to feel its importance. I wanted this photo to put the light on Alex and bring the important, yet often quiet, work he is doing out of the shadows.

For this image set Alex completed a 110 mile traverse in wild temperature swings, how much running did you do and what was your approach?
I ended up doing about 46 miles that day. Which is probably close to the longest I have ever gone and definitely the longest I have gone with a camera in my hand. While photographing something like this I find it really important to be with the subject as long as possible. Alex was going 110 miles and moving as fast as he can do that and I didn’t want to slow him down with setting up shots. I took photos stride for stride with him. Often in motion or I’d run up ahead and wait for him to pass. I press the shutter between steps as both feet are off the ground and I am floating for a fraction of a second. In the rare moments of pause, or exhaustion however you might look at it, I’d take notice of how Alex was feeling or how I was feeling and attempt to capture that how ever it may be. I was only doing less than half of the running Alex was doing so when things got hard for me I knew he must be feeling it to. Running and feeling it all with him I am able to get as close to the experience as possible leaving very little room for over romanticizing anything.

What was the biggest challenge for this shoot?
Well, I think just running 46 miles is hard. The trail is grueling with constantly going up and down or making windy turns. There is a reason most people experience the Boundary Waters by canoe instead of on foot.

It was hard to focus on making sure Alex was moving along the way he needed to be, taking photos on assignment, and taking care of myself all at the same time. Something had to fail a little bit. On the day of the run temps got up into the 80s with very noticeable humidity. Early on in the run I had thought there would be more opportunities for water refills and  I drank my two flasks early and was left with no water for about 2-3 hours. Eventually, I got what I needed, but my body was already going through the motions of crazy dehydration and the water consumed couldn’t catch up fast enough. Which culminated in my quads locking up rather intensely at mile 26. So intensely that it looked like there was a softball about to burst out of my muscle. It was so painful I actually fell to the ground and then threw up. This put me in a strange place because we were really far out there and obviously I was not going to ask Alex to wait for me. The only way out was the 20 miles of trail ahead of us, the 26 miles behind us, or hitch a ride on a canoe.  Alex and Clare Gallagher, another runner helping pace and crew, kept going ahead as I figured out how to get my legs moving again. Before Clare left me she shared some salt pills and said see you later.  I envisioned all the possible scenarios, the worst being that I would just sit there in the middle of the trail unable to move for hours in the middle of the incoming storm. Thankfully I got moving again and caught back up to Clare and Alex as they stopped to refuel with friends who had canoed in the day earlier.

Thankfully my hydration mistake wasn’t worse.

How much planning goes into a project like this, since you’re working with multiple people, one being mother nature?
No matter how much planning is done, while documenting an adventure there is always some acceptance of chaos. I am able to control the gear I bring, the amount of training I do beforehand, study maps, set visual goals, and just expect it to be hard.

Logistically, this sort of trip has so many moving parts so everyone needs to know they can trust each other to be organized and situationally aware to keep each other safe. Nature is rapidly changing in the spring and obviously not able to be controlled so we did what we could to prepare.

Thankfully, Alex is a master planner. He had multiple spreadsheets, the whole map labeled with mileage markers, and had coordinated with friends and family on where they had to be, and how they would get there. Which sometimes involved canoes. There were a few other runners who helped support him on the trail by keeping him company and making sure he was eating, drinking, and moving properly.

You’re known as a high peak runner, how did that translate into this project?
I’m really lucky to live a life that allows me to run in mountains all over the country. I have been running since I was a kid and competed throughout college. A lot of my closest friendsI made friends by running. It’s how I enjoy spending time and I owe a lot to the people and places I have shared miles with. Running has been a deeply important part of my life and I am grateful to be able to join people like Alex who also see running as something greater than logging miles.

It is easy to hear about someone doing a 110 mile run and understand that it is a difficult task. I like to think that being a runner myself and understanding the nuances in the process of even simply trying to accomplish something like this helps me know where to look for meaningful moments during the physical and mental highs and lows.

What have you been working on recently?
I am just finishing up a multimedia project called “Home 2 Home” with fellow photographers Forest Woodward, Joe Grant and musician Christopher Parker. A couple years ago Joe ran the entire 500 miles of the Colorado trail and we all photographed the experience on 35mm and 16mm film. The culmination of the project is a zine, short film, and an album. It’s all being presented this week at 5Point Film Festival in Carbondale. The whole concept is about home and the humbling and joyous journey of being there. I am really excited about how it all turned out and that we were able to put it in print!

The Daily Edit – Gdje Su Svi Dobrodošli (Where Everyone Is Welcome) : Andrew Burton


Patagonia Cleanest Line

Photographer: Andrew Burton
Activist: Denis Tuzinovic

Heidi: How much time did you spend with Denis before taking out the camera for this portrait?
Andrew: Denis was very generous with his time with me, for which I am forever grateful. Broadly speaking our time together was split into two portions – the first portion was a traditional reportage / documentary photo shoot while Denis volunteered at SR3 (a marine wildlife response, rehabilitation, and research nonprofit vet clinic just outside Seattle). The second portion was the portrait session at a variety of locations. The first portion, at SR3, was relatively quick and immediate, I probably spent about 15 minutes photographing while he fed a few different groups of seals. We probably had 5-10 minutes to “get to know each other” and build a rapport before he started the volunteer work. The second portion – the portrait shoot – was rather long and organic, lasting a few hours at 5-6 different locations. The vision I had been given by the photo director was to use natural light in a variety of locations around Seattle to show Denis, and specifically a jacket he frequently wears, to show him proud and empowered in an urban environment. During the portrait portion of the shoot we had a lot of down time without cameras, driving between locations and walking the streets of Seattle, getting to know each other and learning more about each other. Even when I was making portraits of him, Denis’ story is so powerful and compelling that I found myself setting down my cameras to talk more and continue the conversation throughout the portrait session.


Do you have any type of process for your portrait work before meeting subjects?

I come from a strict photojournalism and documentary background, which is to say that when I make portraits I usually approach the assignment from a reportage lineage – environmental portraiture using a majority natural light – occasionally one strobe or a reflector to help a bit . Before the assignment I research the subject  as thoroughly as possible so that I know as much about the person as possible and I use online tools (google street view, etc) to research the location as much as possible so as not to be surprised by what the location is offering. Once on the scene I try to let things unfold organically, relying on conversation and collaboration with the subject to achieve a finished photo. This process can be trickier with subjects who don’t have much time to give or aren’t interested in collaboration, but in this specific case, with Denis, the system worked quite well.

Avedon famously said in his book The American West “A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.” At Patagonia, we look for, “an honest shot, real people doing real things.”  How are you creating an environment for this moment or emotion to unfold?
I’ve worked as a professional photojournalist and documentary filmmaker for the past 14 years and the deeper I get into my career, the more I think about this line of thought – is the photo or film I create “honest and accurate?” How do you define truth, objectivity, accuracy? Is the photo both factually and emotionally accurate?  Am I manipulating the scene to achieve my own vision but at the cost of what the feeling on the scene really was? Coming from a journalism and documentary background, where “truth” (whatever that is) is paramount, I’m frequently hesitant to use my camera to manipulate a scene or subject to achieve my own goals or vision (whatever they maybe). That said, I’m of the opinion that the deeper into the rabbit hole you go in a search for capital-T “Truth,” the more you realize it’s impossible to achieve and a bit of a fool’s errand- the very nature of a camera being in a room – another person observing something – undeniably shapes and shifts the scene. And yet. I believe intention matters, that as a journalist and photographer you can aim be as unobtrusive as possible and visualize a scene relatively undisturbed – or in the case of a portrait – that you can attempt to document the essence of a person in an honest manner that doesn’t manipulate them or visualize them as something they aren’t. To that end, that’s why I try to be as collaborative, open and communicative with a portrait subject – so that I can get to know them as much as possible in the time given and try to make a portrait that feels relatively “accurate.”

I see an honest, brave moment of self reflection and courage, what do you hope to capture in this portrait?
More than anything I hope the portrait accurately reflects who Denis is and compels the audience to read Denis’ story and get to know more about him – he’s an amazing man who lives by his values, is actionable about his convictions and who has been shaped by harrowing backstory. I won’t attempt to summarize Denis’ story for him but suffice to say I was deeply moved by the time I was able to spend with him and hope readers are moved by his story, as well.

What can you share about working with film and digital for our assignment?
I would simply say, it was a joy mixing the mediums of reportage and environmental portraiture. Denis and I had the opportunity to walk the streets of Seattle for an hour or two, chasing the light and location, chatting and finding unexpected scenes and environments. Ultimately the final photo is a clean, powerful portrait of Denis but there were dozens of other options that leaned into the visuals of Seattle and the mix of urban landscape amidst the beautiful Pacific Northwest. It felt like a rare and special assignment – most portraits don’t have that sort of latitude and flexibility. I”m very grateful to both the photo director and to Denis for the opportunity.

Film is often more intentional, anything that is analog slows us down, tell us about shooting both mediums.
Yes, I shot both digital and film on this assignment. I’ve been working more in film photography for the past few years which has been a total joy. I spent the first eight years of my career in the daily news and wire photography business – on the best days I was on the front lines of history documenting the most incredible moments of the human experience. But the turnover of work is incredibly quick – deadline is always 5 minutes ago and there’s always another assignment. Some days I might have four assignments. Modern digital cameras are made for this work – a photographer can make thousands of photographs with little effort. But the overall effect of that lifestyle, at least on me, was to water down the value of the photos I was making – it increasingly felt like “quantity over quality.” This may be trite and obvious, but working with film cameras slows a photographer down. It makes a photographer more intentional. It demands a photographer to ask themself what they’re trying to say by releasing the shutter. It has made me fall in love with the medium of photography again – the physicality of slower cameras, the limited number of frames – it makes me appreciate the medium. I would say it’s akin to digital music (Spotify etc) versus listening to a record. It forces you to be more present minded and appreciate scarcity.  All that said: I worked in both mediums for this assignment a bit out of fear – I wanted the digital cameras on the scene as a safety net in case anything went wrong with the film cameras. Ultimately it was an unfounded fear and the film photos were the ones I was most proud of.

Thank you to both you and Denis for working with us, I’m so grateful to have crossed paths on this special assignment. Read the full story here.

The Daily Edit – Gathering Growth: Brian Kelly


Lock 26 Maple

Three Sisters Swamp
Ransom Sycamore audio included
Grandma Tree
Millersville Bur Oak
The Big Poplar Tuliptree

Pacific Ponderosa Pine

Gathering Growth
Photographer: Brian Kelly 

Heidi: Why is this project important to you and what got you started?
Brian: After seeing old growth/big trees in the PNW of the US and Vancouver Island I couldn’t stop doing research into why the forests of the east coast US were nothing like the west.  Why weren’t there big trees here in the East? Come to find out, the East coast US has been logged over several times and multiple species that fell to disease and insects. All of this was an initial motivation to document what was left. We lack proper documentation of what the forests and trees once looked like. For me, this is what drives me to dedicate my life to document what is still standing; it’s a reminder for future generations of what it all once was at a specific moment in time.

In a data and asset rich world, this is one of the more refreshing practices of archiving. What assets are you collecting?
Over the last four to five years of documenting these trees and forests I’ve been creating large format images, soundscape recordings, leaf and seed documentation, and the occasional video recording.  Not every tree gets the full suite, but I try to.

What format are you shooting, can you share your process?  How long is each tree session and what are you trying to capture?
When shooting the trees and forests for the archive I use Kodak Portra 160 sheet film with a Toyo Field Camera. I’m a big believer in not only the quality of film but also the physical aspect of the negative for the archive.  Of course I’m also shooting digital because mistakes do happen when shooting film. I’m shooting on a Fuji GFX 100 at the moment, but the digital format has already changed once since I started this archive, so I’m looking to the film to be the constant. The amount of time I spend at a tree can vary.  I’ve had roadside finds that I’ve documented in 45 min and been on my way, then I’ve had other trees where I’ve spent two days knowing the light could be better.  It’s all different, but I like to imagine that when I put in time with a tree I’m paying it respect. That this organism has been living and growing for 800 years in order for it to be something special and recognized by humans. You have to show love and respect when you start thinking like that.

What is the taxonomy of your archive?  
The archive is organized by the year, and then going into either Tree of Significance, Forests, or Champion Tree,  then it gets broken into state, followed by species.

Are you planning on another book similar to Parks?
I would love to do a tree book someday.  I’ve been wanting to do a series that would be broken into the major regions of the U.S.  Highlighting the largest/old trees and old growth or unique forests.  This would be my life work I think….


How many have you photographed thus far? What are your discovery and tracking tools?  

So far the archive has roughly 300 trees and forests documented.  I’m able to find a lot of the trees just through googling key words, and being specific in a state or town. For example: “Big – Tree – New – York”  I’ve also found a lot through Real estate Apps like Zillow.  Finding a big tree in a photo and then looking on google maps street view.  I get the occasional submission from someone too. We have a tree/forest submission page on our website.   At the moment I have roughly 1,300 trees and forests marked on google earth.  A lot of work ahead of me still!

How can folks support you or get involved?  
There are many ways that people can support Gathering Growth. You can check the website www.gathergrowth.org to learn more about what we’re doing, how to get involved and make a donation. We have a bi weekly newsletter you can sign up for and follow us on social media for new trees and forests that were documenting. @gatheringgrowth. Were also always looking for brands that align with our ethos and want to help amplify our voice and mission.


Do you have a favorite tree or any favorite moment you’d like to share. Trees are also called knowledge keepers, what have you learned so far?

I’m not sure I have a favorite tree, but I have a favorite memory while shooting a tree. While photographing a tree in the Lost Forest Research Area in southeastern Oregon I experienced silence like never before.  The drive into the Lost Forest is an experience in its own.  Bumpy roads and potholes on unmaintained BLM roads nearly destroyed my van.  Getting into the forest around sunset I parked the car, turned it off and the instant I opened my door it felt like a vacuum had just sucked all the sound out.  I felt unsure, like I wasn’t supposed to be there, or something was watching me.  I wasn’t used to silence like that, so much so that the only sound I heard was the blood rushing through my ears. That level of silence was so foreign.  I wasn’t able to find the tree that night and had to wait till morning.  Eventually finding the tree in the morning I was finally able to start to acclimate to the silence.  I’ve never been anywhere else and felt that way.  I don’t think most people have or ever will know that type of natural silence.

The Daily Edit – Newtok: Patagonia Journal and Film: Andrew Burton and MIchael Kirby Smith

 

Newtok: Patagonia Journal and film

Photographers: Andrew Burton and Michael Kirby Smith

Heidi: Why was it important to you both to make this film?
Andrew and MIchael: We set out to tell the story of Newtok, AK, in 2013 because we were tired of the overly simplistic media narrative that climate change was something happening in the future, predictive in nature, affecting generations down the road. We felt the story was happening now across the globe and in the United States. It was important to us that we found a story in our country after reporting abroad. When you start to look at stories in America impacting citizens here you quickly find Newtok.  In news, the media often distills stories into simple digestible narratives and the more we learned about Newtok, especially after our first reporting trip, we quickly learned that the story is very complex, nuanced, with a beginning that dates back further than we could have imagined. We didn’t want this crisis to be portrayed through cliched and stereotyped imagery, such as a sad polar bear or melting glacier, knowing that this is not where we’re at with the climate narrative. Newtok’s story is complex, which in a way is representative of the larger complex issues when discussing the climate crisis in the sense that the narrative, and possible solutions do not have easy answers. The crisis is here in the U.S. happening today, to our fellow citizens, and our goal was to tell a story that immerses the viewer in the emotionality of this unfolding catastrophe.

This project was seven years in the making, how much photography and motion did you collect and what are your hopes for it beyond this feature film?
The project has grown into a much larger body of work. In a lot of ways the project’s growth was very natural in the sense that when we first started we were really reporting by taking pictures, writing, and documenting anything we felt was relevant to better understanding the story’s complexities. It’s now turned into a behemoth body of work that has been overwhelming at times. We filmed 130 terabytes of footage from 2015 – 2020, including hundreds of rolls of film and 20,000+ digital photos. In collaboration with the village and with their expressed permission we’ve collected old family photos, home videos, archival documents, maps, etc. We’ve handed out 70+ disposable cameras to the community for them to document their relocation and had kids fill out surveys about what they think of the relocation. Newtok began in 1949, under forced federal mandate, and according to the land exchange deal everything must be deconstructed in Newtok and handed back to its natural habitat. Because of this we do feel a certain obligation to document this entire process, especially since this is one of the first communities impacted by the climate crisis. The film is part of that ongoing body of work and our ultimate goal is to have an expansive multimedia document of a place that will not exist down the road. We want to create an archive which includes a documentary film (coming out April 22), a photo book, an online website, and a traveling exhibit. Eventually, with the blessing of the community, we’d like to see the entire body of work donated to a museum or university archive, but we still have many years ahead knowing the relocation is not complete.

The past four years have been dynamic to say the least (politics, the pandemic) how did that impact your project?
Like everything impacted by the pandemic it’s been really tough. Covid has kept us from traveling to the village for two years (2020-2022) which was the longest we’ve been away from the community. It’s also disrupted our ability to screen with the community in the way we’ve always envisioned, but with that said, there is a lot of understanding of the obstacles we’ve faced in this regard. We spent much of that time editing the film and getting it out into the world. Beyond covid, this project has now been through the Obama, Trump, and Biden administration. What is remarkable is all the lip service and attempts to help the community from 40+ state, federal and nonprofit agencies, and all bluster of partisan politics, how remarkably little has changed in the village. It speaks to how complicated it is to navigate climate change politics in the current state of our country’s political stalemate in writing meaningful policy.  Other than the big surge of funding in 2019 which moved 1/3 of the community, the majority of people still live in Newtok. So now you have a situation of a divided community which is tough for everyone. The goal is to remain together as a community in a safe environment and that has not happened. The river is still eating away at the shoreline, funding is not secured, and the community continues to fight for relocation while struggling in living their lives because of degrading conditions and families torn apart. Covid had the biggest effect on our ability to work on the story, but beyond that, the situation in Newtok is still dire and very real.

How did this self-sustaining community influence you as a parent, citizen, and creative?
As journalists we try to keep our personal baggage away from conversation, but in the context of process and longform storytelling, there is value in discussing this more as a way to encourage other filmmakers and journalists, and to just personally reflect, which is always good. To begin, throughout the making of the project we have had monumental personal change and professional growth. How we would begin to tell a story of this nature now looks different than how we did and that’s rooted in learning and growing as individuals and as a team. That doesn’t necessarily mean we would be telling a different story either. Personal life, all the ups and downs while working on a project like this continue, and the inherent difficulty to navigate individual stress is amplified in long form independent storytelling. You don’t have the same institutional support, in terms of financial help, which makes it harder to justify an undertaking of this nature if you are reliant on freelance income, as we both have been throughout this process. This means you really have to believe in the storytelling process where you find yourself somewhat blind to what awaits in terms of success, both editorially and financially. That’s really tough and stressful.  What the community has really taught us is the value of being more present minded in general and how to find hope and joy in the face of struggle and overwhelming odds. In a lot of ways this informs everything in terms of the filmmaking process. This has made us better communicators with each other, and strengthened us as a team. We’ve been taught values that come out of a small, tight knit community and family – emphasizing forgiveness and love no matter what. The community has also taught us what real sustainability and self reliance look like – of knowing the landscape and ecosystem and weather patterns and nuances of your land. What incredible beauty and lessons we have to continually learn from this symbiosis.  The project has taught us to be open and collaborative and that good storytelling takes a lot of time that can’t be forced.  It’s almost as if each story has its own temporal governance, that you have to learn and adapt as a storyteller in order to fully realize the potential of the story, and that the story will unfold in its own rightful time. It has entirely and holistically changed the way we will approach future projects, and we are indebted to the community of Newtok for teaching us better awareness, which we grow from for the rest of our lives.

The community of Newtok trusted you both to tell this story and invite you into their homes and lives, what were some of the pivotal moments of trust building?
It’s been a real honor getting to work with the people of Newtok on this story, and this could not have been done without our producer Marie Meade. Bringing her into the field was a seachange and a huge moment in transforming the story and gaining trust from the community. Marie is a highly respected Yup’ik elder, and leading Yupik anthropologist, author, linguist, and scholar, who is an incredible teacher both in an academic setting as a professor, and outside of one. She has direct familial roots to the Newtok community, specifically her family lived in the village of Keyaluvik where the people of Newtok were prior to forced relocation, but she had never had the opportunity to visit when the community was divided. This was very serendipitous for the project, because working on the film offered her an opportunity to visit with extended family and see her ancestral lands. So, our team not only had a known Yupik educator and leader come onboard, but someone who had personal connection to the land and people of Newtok. It’s impossible to quantify the value she continues to add to the project, we can only say that it wouldn’t be close to what it is today without her agency and insight into the community. She is someone who has devoted her life to better understanding her own heritage and has been instrumental in preserving the Yupik language and culture for future generations and she has given us leadership and guidance through the making of this film. We adore Marie.

The second, pivotal element that comes to mind, is much broader and came through by time on the ground just continuing to show up to the village, and reiterating our intention to try and get the story right. The community has seen a lot of parachute journalists, filmmakers, photographers, and tons of nonprofit and government agencies on top of that. They’ve become wary of outsiders for good reasons. People don’t often present their intention to the community, or get to know people and listen, so it sets up a potentially exploitive result that sours community perspective.  We’ve now logged more than 300 days in the village and know folks there intimately, and we have been granted access by the community’s leadership by trying to be transparent and open about our intentions. What began as distrust has evolved in time to an alignment of intent, which is to bring attention to the traumatic disaster unfolding. Time has given us the opportunity to learn from the people of Newtok which is instrumental to the storytelling.

You are both photojournalists, how did this project reinforce / continue to inform you both that this work is essential in an age of misinformation?
This is a very complicated question to try and begin to answer. People are aware of how news consumption has drastically transformed in the digital era with social media platforms abound, but we still don’t know what the implications are on society and what that means for the future of documenting history if journalistic guidelines lack clarity. The journalism transformation is happening so fast that we can only speculate. There is incredible work analyzing this stuff, but it’s mostly in a slower moving academic dialogue, and while that is being pondered journalism’s voice to tell stories is being diminished. Photojournalism comes from a lineage that has journalistic guidelines and principles, as an example, actually being transparent in the journalism methodology itself. These ethics were traditionally shaped and defined by legacy journalism institutions and publishers, which have been folding throughout the country and world. What has risen in the wake are numerous platforms, and even forms of storytelling, that have no clarity on the code of ethics in reporting, fact finding journalism, and publishing. Photojournalism remains essential because the intent is clear and the methodology is clear. The struggle now is there are fewer platforms for publishing the work which makes it extremely difficult to have a career which is a great loss to journalism in general.

The community is in a constant state of migration: homes they grew up in,  their land, culture and tradition. How did this project make you rethink what it means to be home?
This project made us reconsider the definition of home in a visceral, tangible way, that it is more than just a physical structure as we have perhaps defined it prior to the project. The definition is different across cultures, and for the community of Newtok “home” is more than simply a house, or the village itself – it includes the ecosystem that provides subsistence life. It is a much broader swath of the Yukon Kuskokwim delta, where, for millennia, they have moved between seasonal hunting grounds, a migratory understanding of the word.

There is an argument made by some fiscal conservatives that it is too expensive to relocate communities like Newtok and that it would be cheaper and easier to simply offer a buyout to residents, forcing migration into a major town. This argument hinges on a limited western definition that a home is definable by a four-walled structure, or version close to that. Such suggestions lack ethical consideration especially considering the community of Newtok only became attached to western infrastructure under forced mandate by the same government that would be suggesting a buyout. The fact is, to move a native community like Newtok, that has chosen to remain on their ancestral lands and disperse the community into a larger city would result in the opposite of “relocating their homes.” It would be the destruction of their lifestyle, their culture, their way of life and is genocidal by nature.

How did the community receive the film and how can folks give back or get involved?
We began showing the film to the community in stages. First, while we were still editing the film, we began showing rough cuts to our advisory board – a group of people made up of Newtok community members, a local journalist who worked in Newtok, a Yup’ik philosopher, a Yup’ik anthropologist, a project manager on the relocation and a member of the Smithsonian institute. After we received notes from the advisory board and incorporated their thoughts into the film, we showed the film to the people depicted in the film and had conversations with them. Throughout this process our aim was to make sure we were getting the story right, being culturally accurate and culturally sensitive and to learn about our inevitable blind spots. Then we showed the entire community of 400 people the finished film. We’re humbled, grateful and proud to say that the community has been very complimentary of the film.

How difficult was it to use your equipment in the elements?
Operating in Newtok was never easy – we were exposing our gear to -40 degree winter snow storms, giant Bering-sea storms, salt water spray, mud, muck and moisture. We demanded a lot of our gear and ourselves (frostbite while changing rolls of film isn’t fun to deal with). To the camera manufacturers unending credit, we never had any issues with our cameras – they worked amazingly well throughout the entire production.

What were the advantages of being a crew of two?
Photojournalism puts a lot of focus on the individual – one byline, one person, one credit, and filmmaking is so collaborative by nature. There is strength in numbers and we really wanted to collaborate on a project and move towards a team approach. The process of that had a lot of growing pains and forced us to really listen and rely on each other in a way that is really incredible when you start finding the cadence of that other person. We often joke that our personalities are so different to the point of describing it like we’re ascending the same mountain on different routes, but there are real advantages to the differences once you fully trust each other’s approach, and how our process differs. At the end of the day we usually always land in the same place, in agreement, and along the way we have grown as collaborators and friends.  We learn from each other and believe that by working as a team, the final product is greater than the sum of the individual parts; a sort of 1+1 = 3.

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The Daily Edit – Wrangler: Scott Pommier

Wrangler

Filmmaker: Scott Pommier

Heidi: Did you go into this with the hope Wrangler may be interested?
Scott: I knew it was a long shot, but yeah, that was the hope, irrational as it seemed at the time.

What was your connection with the brand prior to this?
It’s always been high on the list of brands I wanted to work with. I didn’t have any relationship with Wrangler before this project. A friend of mine was able to put me in touch with someone in their marketing department. That was key. I sent them a treatment and based on that they sent out some clothing.

Did you have a stylist?
I’m not sure if it’s more accurate to say that I was the stylist, or that there was no stylist. Wrangler sent clothes for me to shoot and we mixed in some of the talent’s wardrobe. In the end the styling was pretty minimal, but yeah, I was the one tumble-drying the creases out of the shirts the night before the shoot.

How much spec shooting are you doing?
Over the last few years I’ve prioritized doing little personal documentary projects over specs, but it was time to shoot something for my reel that had the form of an ad.

Where/how did this idea come about?
My favorite films are not only beautiful, but emotional. Those weren’t the kinds of scripts that were being sent to me and I knew if I was waiting for one to show up it might take forever. I tried to think of what I had access to. A few years back I shot with some trick riders for a fashion shoot so I called up Jennifer Nicholson once again. She runs the operations at Riata Ranch and trains and performs with a with a world class team of trick riders and ropers. She was such a great collaborator the last time around and I asked her if she would let me come back for another project. I told her this time instead of pushing the styling I would want to really show things as they are. I gave her a semi-coherent ramble of a pitch and she said “I’m not totally sure that I can picture everything you’re saying, but sometimes that’s what makes for the most interesting creative partnerships.” I mean…you can’t ask for better than that.

We talked a few times and I started to develop a story based on the ages and the abilities and personalities of the girls she was working with. We wanted to show what happens behind the scenes, some of what goes into the polished performance that an audience sees.

How long was the shooting process
It was pretty extended as we had to break the job into two shoots. Early on I had the idea that part of the story would happen at the Riata Ranch in Three Rivers California and part of it would happen at a live rodeo. The timing was lucky in that the Salinas Rodeo was coming up, and it’s one of the biggest rodeos in the U.S. and it’s only a few hours from Three Rivers. The plan was to drive down (from Portland) to shoot at the rodeo, and then follow the team back to Three Rivers to finish off and then home. But the California wildfires made that impossible. The fires came so close to the ranch that the animals had to be evacuated at one point. We had to wait until the visibility (and breathability) improved and the roads opened back up.  The level of smoke was a nonstarter, even if the roads were open…which they weren’t.  It was probably a month between the first and the last shoot day.

It was was eight and a half days of shooting, which sounds needlessly long, but the first four at the rodeo were really just to capture a few shots. Those first four days only account for about 8 seconds of the footage, which is about what I had anticipated. In a lot of cases time is a pretty good substitute for money. We had less control over the light, but more room to use the schedule to get us the light we were after.

In the end, we didn’t have the access we would have hoped for at the rodeo, and Ava the young trick rider had problems with her horse on one of the key performance nights, so we shot at another private facility in Three Rivers as a double for the Salinas Rodeo.

How big was the crew?
For the Salinas Rodeo it was just me and a photo assistant that came down from Seattle. I showed him how to use an external sound recorder and he helped me navigate the menus on one of the cameras I rented. For the stuff we shot in Three Rivers the crew ballooned to two…at least on the three days that our local assistant showed up. Most of what’s in the film was shot by my friend Alex Bros who flew down from Toronto to do the shoot. It wasn’t an easy shoot by any stretch, but it was a great time.

We knew that what we were capturing was special, you could see it in the monitor. The beauty of the locations, the intensity of the stunts and then the subtlety of the performance. This little girl who had never acted before but she was such a natural that when you pointed the camera at her somehow could just see her inner thoughts.

Did you edit the film yourself?
I sent Wrangler a director’s cut, which was a gratuitous  2:40 in length. I’m not great with shorter cuts, especially since the music went with the film in a very particular way. I got very lucky with the post on this film. Some friends help me get it in front of Arcade Edit where the wonderfully talented Matt Laroche agreed to cut a :60 second version. Ben Freer of Fiddle Leaf did the mix and Dominic Phipps of Company 3 in London did the colour grade. I’m beyond grateful to all of them for elevating the film.

 

The Daily Edit – City Anonymity: Lisa Saltzman



Photographer: Lisa Saltzman

Heidi: How did your parents’ art patronage influence you, did you gravitate towards a specific genre of art?
Lisa: My parents’ art patronage had a profound, immeasurable influence on me. Their passion for art was intoxicating. Growing up with it and always being surrounded by it left an indelible imprint. Their collection is truly eclectic but there is a predominance of the human form. There is that predominance in my art.

How the collection shaped your own creativity?
My parents very eclectic collection with a predominance of the human form was ingrained in me, it was completely immersive. I know that kind of exposure was definitely the catalyst. Their passion for art was relentless; it was complete joy for them. The collection is comprised of a lot of sculpture and I have been told that a lot of my work appears sculptural. The three dimensional form of their sculpture informed my two dimensional photography, I see form and movement.  I am grateful to have that exposure and parents so connected to art. My sister was also a photographer and photo editor, we both pursued creative endeavors, when I reflect on this, it makes sense.

How are you honoring your father’s legacy in both his art collection and his work as the founder of Designtex
I have established The Saltzman Family Foundation in honor of my father to perpetuate his legacy and recently established the Ralph Saltzman Prize at the Design Museum in London, it’s a prize for emerging designers. To me, this was another way for me to express my love and admiration for his impact as a father, a mentor and visionaire. These qualities braided together helped me develop as an artist and photographer.

When did you make the transition from creative agency to creator or photographer?
Having founded an advertising/promotional merchandise company and working with very high profile brands I understand brand identity. It was several years later that I decided to apply that knowledge and create as a photographer. I owe so much to my Father and am so grateful as he had a tremendous impact on my career,  I am the fortunate recipient, he was a pioneer and innovator in design, his acumen, passion and love of art was unrivaled. He bought me my first camera and tripod when I was 9, the tripod was almost as tall as me. Both my parents have incredible taste.

Where did your love of street photography develop? or how did the streets of NY inform your eye?
Born and raised in New York, I have always been part of the hustle of New York. The energy on the streets is ripe for photographic exploration. Much of my art focuses, pun intended, on the quotidien passerby. We can never fully engage the people we pass by, I don’t want to lose sight of that fact. Capturing my subjects the way I do ,in the midst of their fleetingness, where time is slightly stretched, renders them extraordinary, unfamiliar, with no possibility of recognition but also strangely sculptural.

When and why did you choose to explore color?
Much of my photography focuses Black and White but this prestigious award affirmed my use of color.

In the series City Anonymity® did you visit the same area over and over again?
I see the stairs as a recurring element. City Anonymity® depicts my images on the streets of New York, there is so much opportunity and possibility, there is one particular location that was exceptionally magical. I am looking forward to the next one.

In a time when we’ve been isolated due to the pandemic, what do you hope these images resurrect?
I believe my photographs bring us back to pre pandemic times, kinetic energy and a lot of movement

Where do you hope to see this body of work evolve?
I hope that my work can be incorporated in editorial and branding.

The Daily Edit – Ancient Forest Alliance: TJ Watt


Ancient Forest Alliance

Founder and photographer: TJ Watt

Heidi: Nearly 1/3 of your life has gone to protecting the old growth and co-founding Ancient Forest Alliance. When did you realize you could blend photography and activism as a career?
TJ: I started to consider that possibility during photo school way back in 2007 when I was volunteering with environmental groups and shooting photos to help with their campaigns. I could see it was a powerful tool but it was hard to imagine it becoming a full time job though. Then, in 2010, the opportunity arose to launch the Ancient Forest Alliance with my friend Ken Wu. All of a sudden I was able to dedicate the time needed to explore and document the forests of Vancouver Island and BC. There were surprisingly few, if any people doing that at the time so it was exciting to get out there and really start highlighting the good and the bad. Here we are 12 years later, stronger than ever.

When you came across the 216 foot tall Douglas fir called  “Big Lonely Doug” standing tall amongst the clear cut on Vancouver Island, what emotions came up when you took photos of the tree?
Seeing Big Lonely Doug for the first time was heartbreaking. I had gone out that day in February 2012 to explore that exact location and when I arrived, all the trees were freshly cut down. Two years before I had explored the forest adjacent to Big Lonely Doug (now known as Eden Grove) and was returning to see what else lay hidden in the woods. I often wonder how history could have played out differently had we found Doug before the forest was clearcut around him. We had recently been successful in protecting Avatar Grove just down the road and with that momentum, we might have been able to do the same there. But things didn’t go that way. Maybe Doug’s higher purpose was to draw lasting attention to the plight of ancient forests in BC to the world abroad, which he continues to do to this day.

What’s your creative approach to photographing a 216 foot tree from the ground?
I’ve captured photos of Doug in a variety of ways: wide angles from the base, telephotos from a distance, fisheye from the top, drones from the air, and hanging out the side of a helicopter. It’s been a really interesting subject and friend to return to time and time again. Of course, one of the most unique things about Doug is that you can actually see the full height of the tree from top to bottom. Placing a person at the base really gives you a sense of the monumental scale of a tree that’s more than 4m or 12ft wide and over 20 stories tall. When we teamed up with professional tree climbers to help measure the tree, having a person dangling from the side of the trunk was also a wild perspective.

Did you expect these images to go viral?
In this case I think we did. As a photographer trying to explain a complex issue, the more you can distill the various concepts and feelings into a single image, the greater the impact be. Big Lonely Doug tells the whole story in one scene. It highlights both the beauty and grandeur of BC’s ancient forests and their unfortunate destruction. I think it also shocked people that logging like this was still happening during modern times here in Canada. It looks more like a scene out of the 1800’s before people may have known better. But instead, here we have the second largest Douglas-fir tree in Canada, surrounded by giant stumps, in a logging operation approved by the BC government. People were shocked and still are today.

Tell us about your photography process and set up, since you are in several of your own photos I assume to add scale and a human element.
Since I’m often exploring alone, I have to be self-sufficient. In my pack I carry my photo gear, tripod, food/water, and emergency gear and communication. Pre-trip, I will have scoped out a specific forest via satellite imagery and then have those maps loaded on my phone in the field. I then hike in and when I find something I would like to photograph, I set up my tripod and walk into the shot. I can control my camera from my phone which helps me determine where to stand and not have to run to beat the timer! Having a person for scale is the only way to truly grasp the size of these trees or stumps. I feel it also allows people to step into the scene and imagine being there themselves.

How difficult is it to get to these groves?
Most of the areas I’m photographing are quite remote and difficult to get to, which is a big part of why conservation photography is vital in getting the word out far and wide. Here’s a trip from yesterday for example: woke up at 4am, drove four hours to reach a remote valley, bushwhacked and photographed from dawn to dusk in a beautiful grove of giant trees that sadly are at imminent risk of being cut down, then a four hour drive back home, arriving at 10pm. The terrain and weather can be challenging as well. There are no trails in the woods or clearcuts so it’s up and over logs, skidding down steep slopes, scrambling through bushes well over your head, getting cuts and bruises from various sharp things, while often getting completely soaked from the rain (it’s a rainforest after all). But on the other hand, being alone in a forest that looks like something out of a fairy tale can also be one of the most peaceful and serene experiences a person can have. You’re surrounded by five hundred to one thousand year old trees, colorful little mushrooms, sunbeams cascading through the foggy air – it’s worth every bit of effort. Especially knowing that it might not be there the next time you arrive.

“Art is the highest form of hope,” is a line first expressed by the German painter Gerhard Richter in 1982, with your photography what are you hoping for?
My hope is to make people stop and feel something. I believe art can open doors into a person’s heart where it might otherwise be closed. Once that door is open, new information can be allowed in, including ideas and views they might not previously have been open to receiving.

My hope also is to expose the magnificent beauty and continued destruction of highly endangered ancient forests in BC to as wide of an audience as possible, ultimately helping to bring about the change needed to protect them.

Right now we are at a critical point in the history of the campaign to save ancient forests in BC. The government has accepted – in principle – recommendations from an independent science panel to temporarily defer logging of millions of hectares of the best old-growth across the province, pending approval from First Nations. This is in response to years of public pressure, fueled in large part by viral images we have shared of giant trees and giant stumps. Ultimately, permanent protection is  necessary because, under BC’s current system of forestry where trees are re-logged on average every 50-60 years, old-growth forests are a non-renewable resource. Tree plantations do not adequately replicate the complex and diverse ecosystems that they’re replacing, so we have just one chance to keep ancient forests standing for the benefit of the climate, tourism, wild salmon, endangered species, and many First Nations cultures.

Though it’s sometimes too late to save the trees pictured in my photos, I hope the images motivate people to get involved and advocate for the protection of the forests that are still standing.

Aside from social media and its ability to scale and tell the uncensored truth of the logging, what other photo based technology are you using to protect the trees?
In recent years I’ve found the use of drones really helpful. Technology has come a long way and now in as little as five minutes you can be up in the air, surveying and photographing forests or clearcuts from above. It’s such a unique perspective and cheaper/easier than flying. My next experiment with drones is to try and retrace flight paths after a forest has been cut to fade between the standing and fallen trees. Trail cameras are also pretty handy as well. I’ve just experimented using the basic game cameras you can buy online but they’re proven useful at capturing images of wildlife such as black bears and elk undisturbed. I keep hoping for a photo of a cougar.

How can folks help and get involved?
We need everyone involved at this critical time. Folks can learn more and take action on our website at www.ancientforestalliance.org Sign up on our email list and follow us on social media so you hear about the latest action alerts, photos, and news. And always remember, we have more power than we think we do. Collectively, we can – and will – change the world.
AFA Instagram: www.instagram.com/ancientforestalliance | @ancientforestalliance
Instagram: www.instagram.com/tjwatt | @tjwatt

 

 

The Daily Edit – Support Photojournalism: Guide to Ukraine

Support Photojournalism

Curator: Paul Bellinger Jr.
Ukraine Guide 1
Ukraine Gude 2
Ukraine Guide 3


Heidi: Along with giving agency to the local and relevant photographers, how and why did these guides come about?
Paul: Well the purpose of my instagram account @support.photojournalism is to promote the work of photojournalists, documentary and street photographers from around the world and to strengthen our community as photographers. These photographers are generally over worked and under paid so my goal is to spread appreciation for the important work they do. I try to set a good example of being generous on Instagram: sharing, reposting, saving, liking, commenting, all the little things I can do for free to uplift photographers. I repost about 10-15 posts a day on Instagram stories, all from photojournalists, documentary and street photographers. I’ve been doing it for about a year and half now. I’ve gotten to know our community really well and we have photographers from around the world. When events happen, I usually see the pictures on Instagram before they are published anywhere else.

How are you leveraging Instagram tools?
When Instagram rolled out the guides feature (basically a self contained, numbered list, made up of Instagram posts, with text fields for a title and a caption) I started using it right away because one of the options is to make a guide from your saved posts. I was already saving around 250+ posts a week to consider for reposting on stories so I had the idea to make a weekly guide of what I thought were the best posts of the week. Instagram limits guides to 30 posts, so it’s basically a roundup of my 30 favorites from the week called “Weekly Faves.” It’s very easy to share a guide on your instagram story so this gives people a really easy way to share the work of 30 photographers in just a couple taps on their phone. Hopefully when people see the guide they click through and follow the photographers and start engaging with them.

Tell us about your Weekly Faves
I’ve never said it out loud, but in my mind these Weekly Faves are kind of an alternative to the “Photos of the Week” slideshows that most major publications do. I say alternative, because of course I have my own subjective ideas about what makes a good picture or story, but also because I’m not limited to photographers that work only for one agency or another, or one publication or another, or even limited to pictures that have been published anywhere besides Instagram. My Weekly Faves also differs in content because I mostly follow independent photographers. It gives me a reason to look back at the previous week and be a little more considerate. I’m always in awe of how much amazing work is posted each week from our community. It’s really hard to only pick 30.

How did the Ukraine guide come about?
Making the Ukraine guides came on kind of a late night delirium actually. I could barely keep my eyes open after listening to coverage on TV and scouring Instagram for hours on the day that Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine. I knew several photographers on the ground in the weeks and months leading up to the invasion and they had already started posting work from the invasion. I was reposting their work and they were reposting the work of other colleagues on the ground. I knew we were about to see an avalanche of posts and I wouldn’t be able to keep up reposting all of it. So before I passed out with my phone in my hand around 3am, I had the idea to use Instagram guides to make a list of all the photographers I knew working in Ukraine, and then I’d just post that guide on my story and people could go follow all of those photographers and keep up with what was happening in Ukraine on their own. The community did the rest, sharing the guide generously and sending me messages with more photographers that were in Ukraine, especially Ukrainian photographers. I updated it with new photographers and it quickly reached the 30 post limit for guides. By then, it had already started going viral thanks to our community for being so supportive of their colleagues on the ground in Ukraine.

What is the intended goal of the guides and are they acting like an agency of sorts, or is this more of a grassroots collective?
The immediate goal was to provide a resource for spreading reliable information from Ukraine. I want @support.photojournalism to be useful to the people who follow it, helping them stay informed about what’s going on across the world. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Photojournalists provide the antidote to misinformation. I want people to be able to get their information straight from the photographers themselves, including photographers who are from Ukraine. I believe in the power of pictures to show the world through another’s eyes. Pictures share different perspectives on what’s happening. In order to make a picture, the photographer has to be there, on the ground, bearing witness to whatever is in front of them and that gives pictures an element of persuasion that few other mediums have.

I also wanted to let everyone within our community know who was already on the ground so we could all start promoting their work and hopefully they could get their work licensed, published etc., so they can earn a living and be able to keep going. We really need to pay photojournalists more so they can focus on making pictures and not worrying about how they’re going to make ends meet or cutting corners on their health and safety. If nothing else, I hope we got their work some love and it lifted the photographers spirits during difficult times.

But the broader goal is always the same: to promote photojournalism, documentary and street photography, and to build community. These photographers put their lives on the line to cover dangerous situations and inform the public about what’s happening in the world. To me they’re like rock stars, or better yet, super heroes. They play a very crucial role in our society but they’re under appreciated today. They work hard to make amazing pictures under the toughest conditions so I think the least we can do is thank them for their service to society and spread the love for their work.

Lastly, as photographers we’re stronger together. We can use social media to promote each other and the stronger our community is, the better off each individual photographer will be. Individually we may only be able to reach a few thousand people, but together we can reach millions. So I try to use social media to connect photographers and foster a community of lifting each other up, sharing each other’s work. I also host a weekly audio-chat room on Clubhouse for all of us to get together and talk about anything and everything photography related. Hearing each other’s voices on Clubhouse has helped us become closer friends over the last year and many of us have met up in person as well. Our core group is very strong now and we all help each other and our community however we can.

I saw you held a 2 hr conversation on Clubhouse, what were the most salient points from the discussion?
We have a weekly audio-chat room on Clubhouse every Tuesday at 5pm PST (Wednesday mornings on the other side of the world). We talk about all things photojournalism, documentary and street photography. Every week we are joined by some of the leading photographers today, along with editors, photography students and non-photographers who want to learn from the discussion and ask questions. It’s very casual and everyone is welcome. We usually go for two hours and people come and go as they can. Last week we had Nicoló Filipo Rosso stop by after he had just won a staggering four awards at the Pictures of the Year International (POYi), one of the most prestigious awards in our industry. The previous week we were joined by Gabrielle Lurie, who had just won back to back Photographer of the Year in a Small Market along with three other awards at POYi (she might be the only person to have ever won back to back years like that). Natalie Behring and Raquel Natalicchio co-moderate it with me and they are both outstanding photographers too.

How do people get involved?
For Ukraine I’ll defer to Ukrainians who know best. Marta Iwanek  has been sharing a lot of useful information and has helped me with the guides so I would start by following her. For our community, the best way is to follow along on Instagram and you’ll always be informed about what’s happening with us. I use Instagram stories to share the work of many photographers everyday, so I would love it if people go follow those photographers and show them some love by liking and sharing their work and supporting them financially when they can. People can come to our Clubhouse room to learn more about the people behind the pictures. There are several photography organizations that do good work for photographers that people can donate to such as Women Photograph, Diversify Photo and Black Women Photographers. I highly recommend people in the US to join or donate to the National Press Photographers Association because they do a lot specifically for photojournalists. Beyond that, subscribe to a newspaper or magazine or buy a photo book.

The first piece of what is considered modern journalism was published in 1703 by Daniel Dafoe, (Great Storm of 1703 in Britain) 317 years later we have the same need for journalism, but why is this even more important now?
I think it’s more important than ever now. Democracy and journalism are co-dependent so the erosion of journalism also erodes democracy. Journalism is essential to democracy because it informs the public, a necessary precondition for holding leaders accountable which is really the essence of democracy. Funding for journalism has been in decline for a long time now, with newsrooms and bureaus closing at an accelerating pace in the 2000s. I think we’re starting to see the political consequences as data show that democracy is weakening around the world for the last several years.  It’s impossible to know to what extent, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that strengthening journalism will strengthen democracy along with it, so it’s more important now than ever.

What are the benefits of the smaller footprint photography has over video, aside from speed and isolating a single moment?
When it comes to making pictures or videos, there are some practical advantages for photography in that it requires less/smaller gear, less storage, less computing power, editing time, etc. Video cameras are getting smaller and smaller though and many photographers make video with their cameras now too. But yeah if you have a smaller footprint then you can be a little more nimble and get into more situations.

When it comes to the output, photography and video are similar in their believability. When people see video or picture evidence of something, they tend to believe it because they know the person who made it was actually there. They’re both important and effective at visual communication and have their strengths and weaknesses. One benefit of still photography is that it can be printed and widely disseminated in print. Once printed it’s permanent and it doesn’t require electricity or internet to look at it. Through newspapers, magazines and books the still image has further reach and more staying power than video. Even when you’re looking on a phone, a still picture takes less time to look at. It has immediate impact. I think that’s another benefit of still photography in an age where the average attention span is extremely short. I have a lot of respect for video too though, ideally we’d have both and a lot of people in our community do both.

This global network of photo journalism provides a POV and firm ground for objectivity and lived experience. How has social media opened the aperture for creators to share their images free of traditional media institutions.
I believe one of the goals for journalism should be to provide as many perspectives as possible. Social media has given us access to more points of view than ever before, so it has had a democratizing effect on the images that are being made and seen. The types of stories we have access to now is unprecedented. Our ability to find talented photographers anywhere in the world through social media is really incredible for telling stories with more nuance. You’re right, many of these stories might not have ever made it through that institutional shaping you’re talking about with the major publications out there. Social media has removed the gate keepers, to an extent. But the gap between the work that is being made and the work that is being published by these institutions is still massive, and these institutions still have enormous reach, far more than individual photographers. It’s a double edged sword, photographers can reach more people than ever but their chances of being paid a reasonable wage are lower than ever too. So there are many more pictures out there today but there are also many more unpaid photographers out there now too.

Can you speak to your personal connection to journalism?
My mentor was a photojournalist. I know a lot of photojournalists and I’ve studied the work of many of the great photojournalists in history, so I would say I’m an admirer. I don’t call myself a journalist, only a photographer. I’ve done a few journalism assignments over the years but it’s not my career. I’m connected to it now as a freelance photo editor, curator, and community builder.

To connect with Paul please email him at paulbellinger@gmail.com

The Daily Edit: Transient Eclipse: Jeffrey Moustache

Photographer: Jeffrey Moustache

Heidi: How did this series come about?
Jeffery: I have been working on this series for a few years now as it has slowly evolved from a separate series I pioneered utilizing flashes and LED lights on drones back in 2015.  It has since evolved into these landscapes just before the pandemic began as an exploration of space, light, color and my involvement with nature.

How long does the set up take?
My setup times are fairly short,  I have become very efficient in preparing for an image, setup of my light sources and creating them in the field takes a few minutes but times to create the final image range anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour total depending on which “Light Brush”  I am using: ie; if I am using a large drone, or shooting multiple variations/ locations in one outing.

Are you scouting at night as well?
I typically do my scouting during the day while out on walks or while I’m driving to or from a shoot. I try to take different routes as much as possible to possibly discover something that feels right. I will mark the locations, take photos on my phone, figure out when the best lighting may be, go home and then sketch out a concept in my notebook and go from there. I try to setup to shoot around twilight to capture some ambient and then continue until It’s too dark to see, which can be tricky at times navigating out of the woods or through the fields while trying to avoid holes, puddles, thorns, spiders, anthills etc.

What shapes are the light sources?
My sources are a variation of LED panel lights, tubes and other “light brushes” I have created over the past couple years to achieve different results.  Some are square. Some are large rectangles, others are spherical, I have a couple I can attach to my heavy lift drone and fly, others are color changing.

Is this commission or personal work?
As of now this has been a personal endeavor which I have began to intertwine with commissioned work when applicable.

Will you continue this series?
Yes, there is a larger gallery here but even that is a small portion of the collection that has been created and continues to grow and evolve.

The Daily Edit – Leland Bobbé: Early Work



Photographer: Leland Bobbé

 

Heidi: How long did you work on this project, New York City 70s? and what was your process for shooting? ( did you walk everyday? was your camera always with you?)
Leland: I never really considered my 70’s NYC street photos of Times Square, The Bowery and general NYC to be a “project”. It is a collection of photos of street scenes that I felt compelled to capture. I moved into Manhattan in 1974 and my main interest was playing drums in a band that was part of the CBGB’s scene. Photography was a hobby at that point. To support myself during this time I drove a taxi and spent hours on the streets observing the different neighborhoods. I didn’t bring a camera with me when I was driving because it would have been an easy target for a thief. Remember, this was the 70’s in NYC. Whenever I was going anywhere outside of driving a cab, I had my camera with me. Often, I would just go out with my camera either on foot or on by bicycle looking for things to shoot. For much of my Times Square work at that time I used a 28mm lens pre-focused at about 5-6 feet, while holding the camera at my waist and firing off shots as I walked by. I also used an 80-200 zoom when I didn’t want to get to close. 40 years later I realized that I had a collection of images of a period time in NYC that no longer existed. Times Square turned in to Las Disney and The Bowery turned into high end condos and restaurants. I showed these images to a curator at the Museum of the City of New York and they took 18 images into their permanent collection.


I loved the umbrella story, did you go out in all rain events in NYC and what drew you to the shape and visual appeal of the discarded umbrella?
What attracted me to shoot discarded umbrellas on the street was not so much the shape of the umbrellas but seeing this discarded object on the street while life continued to hustle by this inanimate object. Many of these photos were shot at shutter speeds slow enough to capture the feeling of motion to illustrate this without total blurs usually at about a 30th or a 15th of a second. I would go out and look for these umbrellas after a rainy, windy day when umbrellas would get destroyed. I brought a portfolio of these over to Modern Photography Magazine and they ran a story titled Stormy Weather which was the first time I had any of my photos published.

When do you know a project is “done”?
Good question. I know a project is done when I feel like I’ve been there, done that or I feel as if I’ve said all I need to say. I just know when it’s time to move on.

What have you been working on lately?
The most recent photo project I finished was a collection of B&W street photos of NYC during the Covid lockdown in the spring of 2020. I titled this project Public Isolation. I have lived in Manhattan for 45 years and I’d never seen anything like this before. The streets were empty and quiet. I tried to captured photos with just 1 person in the frame to illustrate isolation. The museum of The City of NY is currently in the process of making selections for their permanent collection.

I’m currently working a music video of a song I wrote and recorded titled Don’t Know When (2020) incorporating my NYC lockdown photos and NYC Black Lives Matter protest photos shot by Mychal Watts.

What would you tell your younger self about photography as a career?
I’d tell myself that it ain’t easy. I’ve been through numerous reinventions and phases over the years and have learned and that one must keep evolving. It’s really important as a commercial photographer to develop a personal style and to shoot personal work to keep the creative juices flowing.

The Daily Edit – Sashwa Burrous


Modern Huntsman

Design Director: Elias Carlson
Photographer: Sashwa Burrous
Writer: Lindsey Browne Davis


Heidi: How long have you lived in CA and when did your relationship with good fire begin? 

Sashwa: I was born and raised in rural Sonoma County, California, Coast Miwok / Southern Pomo territory, and grew up just two ridges over from where I live now in Occidental.  A tiny town nestled in the redwoods, not too far from the coast. My interest in “good fire” started in 2017 when Sonoma County saw record breaking wildfires, taking out entire neighborhoods, blanketing the entire county in smoke for weeks on end and waking a lot of us up to the reality that we are all living within a fire adapted landscape here in Northern California. I quickly  realized that if I wanted to continue to live here in California I would need to learn to be in better relationship with fire. My interest in fire led me to start shooting a prescribed fire course with Fire Forward in Santa Rosa. Through photographing the course as a personal project, I began to learn both the skills needed to photograph wildfires along with how to reintroduce good fire back onto my own land where I live in Occidental.

Was this a personal project?
A majority of the images  you see in this story I made on my own time. I found myself really inspired after every burn. I would come away with a ton of ideas, excited to sit down and edit what I just shot, a feeling you don’t get on every shoot. I have learned that when you feel that spark of creativity, to lean into it. Oftentimes  “personal projects” are where an artist’s most powerful work comes from. The trick is then how to integrate this passion into “client work” so you can put food on the table.
After sharing stories with Lindsey Browne Davis, an outdoorswomen writer and good friend, we came up with a story about fire and water and how these two elements interact and relate to each other. We pitched it to Modern Huntsman for their Water Issue, the story got approved and was sponsored by Mystery Ranch.

What was your training like for this? Was the desire twofold; to be of help and gain access in order to document? 
After shooting a few wildfires I realized that in order to do this safely I really needed to look into getting some formal training.  Not only did I want to make sure I was safe when shooting the fires, I also wanted to be in service to my community and deepen my relationship to the land I am stewarding.  I learned a lot from photographing the prescribed fire course with Fire Forward but I wanted to take it a step further.  I signed up for and completed my FFT2 (Wildland Firefighter Type II) training in 2020. This course is the first step in becoming a Wildland firefighter and is required for a majority of the prescribed burns I attend.  The training was really interesting and helped me understand how to read the wind, clouds, and topography, all important lessons in situational awareness.
 
What are a few of the challenging aspects of photographing fires?
Personal safety and health are probably the most challenging and important aspects of shooting fires, especially wildfires.  There is a lot of gear (Personal Protective Equipment) that is necessary as well and knowledge on how to get yourself into the right position. This sometimes means driving hours through dangerous roads to get to the other side of the fire because the wind changed slightly.
The smoke alone can be a huge challenge.  After 3-4 days of shooting in conditions of 400+PPM in the air you can’t help but think how this is affecting your personal health.  As a new father I often question whether or not I should continue chasing these stories.  During fire season, I literally have the truck packed and ready to go at all times. If there is a local fire, I often have to leave the family with short notice to get the shots I need. This is exhilarating but also hard on my health and on my family.
In relation to photography specifically another challenge is the speed in which you need to move. Oftentimes you literally have seconds to pull out your camera, compose and make an image before needing to get yourself to a safer place. It’s a stark contrast from the commercial work I often do in studios where we spend hours perfecting every aspect of each image we’re creating.

I know you also have an interest in the power of the ocean, how are they different and similar in your creative approach to meeting them?
In my experience there are far more similarities than differences. The first that comes to mind is that with both elements humility is key. When interacting with the ocean and with fires, you learn really quickly that you are not in charge. Instead you learn to slow down and observe. For instance, when I show up to the beach to shoot a surf sequence, the first step is to watch the ocean, observe the wind and current to ensure it’s safe to go out with the camera. Similarly, before a prescribed fire you take time to observe and analyze wind patterns, like wind direction – is it a dry (offshore) east wind or a wet  (onshore) western wind coming off the coast. These factors play a huge role in whether or not it’s safe to carry out the burn. What I love about shooting in both of these elements is you never know what you are going to get. They are both complex and unpredictable which keeps me inspired and curious to learn more

The Daily Edit: Wink Face Photography: Wendy Domanski


Wink Face Photography

Photographer: Wendy Domanski
Instagram

Heidi: Who is more nervous on set, the dogs or the owners?
Wendy: It can be a combination of the two scenarios. Sometimes the dogs are a little shy when they see the camera or hear the shutter. If I am using off camera flash some dogs can be a bit nervous with the bright flashing lights. I always take extra time with the nervous dogs and start to desensitize them with treats if they are food motivated. The dogs are rewarded with a treat every time the shutter is pressed so they view it as a positive experience. The is especially true for dogs at the shelter that are often coming from a loud and stressful environment. The key is to go slow with them and help build trust before you can even think about bringing the camera out.

For the 2-legged people on set, a lot of times they’re worried or anxious about their dogs not behaving perfectly. I always try to have a conversation with them prior to the session and communicate with them that not everything is going to go perfectly and that’s okay. They are dogs or cats or whatever pet it is. There is a lot that is going to go wrong. I always tell them, if I wanted to photograph perfect dogs I’d be a stuffed animal photographer and what’s the fun in that?!  If the owners are stressed the dog will pick up on it and it will ultimately translate to a stressed-out dog which clearly doesn’t make for great photos. I want it to be a fun experience for the dogs and the humans so I’m always very reassuring and joking with the owners to help put them at ease and laugh a lot at the “bloopers” so they know it totally normal and part of the experience. At the end of the session I hear more often than not from the owners they had so much fun.

What are some of the creative ways you have to engage the dogs?
Every dog is different and it’s important to learn what motivates them. The best way to do that is to have a conversation with the owners prior to the session. For dogs it could be a ball, a treat, their favorite toy, or maybe certain words they react to. I’ll ask the owners if their pet is nervous around new people, loud noises, whatever it might be. The more information you have on the dog in advance the better it is so you can be prepared for the session. Noises are also a great way to get their attention.  I always have my bag of every noise maker in the world including whistles, squeakers, and duck noise makers to name a few. I’ve also perfected a lot of silly noises myself to help get the dog’s attention. I often get a of strange looks from the owners and anyone observing the session wondering where the crazy sounds were coming from — “Did your camera make that noise?!” which always makes me laugh. I wish my camera made all those sounds and it was so easy.  My dolphin noise is a classic example. You have to be prepared to do whatever it takes to get the dog’s attention and not care how crazy you look.  I find that this helps to put the humans at ease too. If they’re also in the photos I’m getting genuine smiles from people laughing at me and having fun and I’m just fine with that.  An important point to make with the noises however is that you must be prepared to the take the photo right after making the noise as each sound will only work once, maybe twice and then it’s time to go to the next trick in your bag.

How has this type of work informed your photographic eye and you as a creative?
The key to pet photography — especially dog photography — is to engage with the dog and bring out their unique personality. If a dog is happiest at the beach and running and jumping in the water then naturally we will pick a beach setting and we will do action shots. If a dog is nervous around other people or pets we may choose a quiet park.  Based on how the dog is reacting and I may help put them at ease by choosing a longer lens so I can give the dogs more space.  For the happy go lucky dogs that are playful and quirky I will often use my wide angle lens and get up close and personal to show off their funny expressions. This is often my favorite lens for pet photography not only because it helps bring out their fun features, but also to help incorporate the background or sky that is often an important element in my photos.


Your photography also involves outreach and rescue, how did that come about?
I’ve been very active in animal welfare and rescue long before I became a pet photographer. In fact, it was the main reason that I became a pet photographer. I wanted to help take beautiful photos of the dogs at the shelter to help get them noticed and adopted faster. At that time I was in medical device sales and had no idea how to use a camera nor did I even own a fancy camera.  I decided to take a leave of absence from my job and attend photography school in Montana the summer of 2015. While I was there I volunteered at the local Humane Society and Animal Control photographing their adoptable dogs and cats. This not only helped the shelters but it gave me valuable experience photographing animals and learning the craft of pet photography.

I fell in love with photography so much that when I returned home I took a leap of faith, quit the sales job and pursued pet photography full time. Keeping true to my mission of helping animals in need, in addition to booking regular client sessions I continue to donate a substantial amount of time photographing animals at local shelters as well as donating photography sessions to benefit numerous animal welfare agencies including C.A.R.E4Paws in Santa Barbara, CA.

What type of change have you seen since the onset of the pandemic?
The biggest change has been the amazing number of people who have adopted or welcomed pets into their homes. I have had an increase in client sessions wanting to photograph their new family members. Sadly, as people are going back to work many dogs are ending up back at shelters and shelters across the country are filling up once again.

What is the main difference for you photographically, beside verbal (words) between dog and people portraits? and how are they similar.
For me the main difference between photographing people and dogs is that people often require a lot more direction and posing. They look to the photographer for more guidance and can be self-conscious about their appearance.  They may want techniques to help minimize whatever their perceived issue is or ask me to “Photoshop it out” if possible. But it’s exactly the opposite with a dog — whatever makes them different is what I want to capitalize on. If the dog has big ears then perfect, I want to get those ears in all their glory. If it’s a dog with a big head, long tongue whatever it is that is unique to them, I want to show it off. I feel like more people should embrace those unique things that make them so different.

Regardless if it’s a dog or human that I’m photographing, the most important things to do are to make a connection with them, put them at ease, and always have fun. I don’t want any forced smiles. For people that may mean I’m using my Midwestern sarcasm to make them laugh. For the dog, I’m probably doing something odd or funny or making the dolphin noise which many times works for both.

 

 

 

 

The Daily Edit – Patagonia Fall 2021 Journal: Paris Gore

Patagonia Fall 2021 Journal

Photographer: Paris Gore
Photo Editor: Jakob Reisinger

Heidi: How did you expand as a creative and photographer while working on this story, “Child of the Setting Sun” for Patagonia?
Paris: Working on this story was very personal as I was part of the accident and close to the family. Most of the projects I’ve worked on in my career I’ve felt close to or always have some sort of tie to the story but this was just on another level. Knowing everything that went on and being so keen to show this piece the way I felt it should be showcased really drove my creativity out to shoot a certain way I felt I had never photographed before. I usually pull inspiration from New Yorker style photo pieces and wanted to really bring out a lot more emotion than what I feel like I normally do.

Where did you take this portrait?
The portrait I took of Stephanie Bennett to accompany her story had to really be powerful. At her house she had a barn that was walled with metal siding so it gave off a metallic reflection, also being an open door it provided us a really great location for the portraits. Holding her young child Robbie, squirming and looking in different directions posed some challenges but to be honest Robbie is very stoic. His eyes have a mature gaze that look deep. Stephanie too, her eyes are beautiful and could pierce your soul. We photographed for about 20 min, having them look out towards the house together and I really did know on this frame it was a special photo. Stephanie was giving me a hard time about not liking her portrait being taken but she really photographed so well and I truly did shoot some of the most powerful portraits in my career I felt.

It’s a monumental moment of resilience, courage, and the full spectrum of life, how did you know when to pick up the camera to capture those moments?

Our weekend shooting at Stephanie’s place was really fun and never felt any moment was forced. We just shot Steph and Robbie doing their thing and had a great time doing so. I also just feel so close to Robbie that any moment with him is a real gift so it’s pretty easy to have the camera out most of the time being an over zealous “Uncle Paris”.

KC Deane and Geoff Gulevich in Þórsmörk, Iceland down a trail that is rarely ridden and never had been photographed for mountain biking. It’s always exciting to be somewhere and know you are one of the first to photograph MTB in the location. We lost the light behind the clouds which I was a little bummed about but it actually turned out for the better.
Graham Agassiz in Bellingham, WA during a production for Dakine clothing. This is one of my more intricate lighting rigs that I’ve ever done on a job. We ended up hanging a softbox in a tree to get a top down light affect using arborist gear. Was pretty wild to put together and execute a shot like this deep in the woods where getting all the gear up was quite the challenge.

You were a mountain bike rider that evolved into a photographer, when did you know photography was your path?
I got into photography pretty early on in high school but was mainly focused on shooting content for the yearbook and school sports not really thinking about applying it to mountain biking. Then one day me and a buddy went out to shoot some bike photos and had my a-ha moment. I had so much fun and just realized it was something I could possibly do for a living because at that point in my life there wasn’t much else in the way of a career I would have gone for.

How do you stay stoked and inspired?
A lot of people know me as a bike photographer and I do love it but any advice I can give is to have a passion outside of your work. I really enjoy snowboarding for example and I do photograph snow sports from time to time but it allows me to shoot it with pure enjoyment and not treat it as my “job”. Having an outlet just to go enjoy without the pressure of bringing a camera is so important to me and I work really hard to not taint that. Burnout is real and having the separation has really helped me appreciate the bike world and everything I’ve worked for!

 

 

 

The Daily Edit – Visura.co: Adriana Teresa Letorney

Photo by Nipah Dennis

Photo by Terra Fondriest

Photo by Linda Kuo

Photo by Karen Toro

Visura.co

Founder: Adriana Teresa Letorney
Co-founder: Scout Film Festival

Heidi: How long has Visura been publishing and how has the last two years informed how you’ve run your business?
Adriana: Visura was launched in 2016 as a networking platform for freelance visual journalists to build their online presence and connect with each other from one central place. The tech platform was built from the ground up as an alternative to the traditional systems used by visual journalists looking to connect with the global marketplace. During that time, the main problem we were aiming to address was the lack of platforms for freelance visual journalists worldwide that fostered inclusivity, sustainability, professional skill development, and equal and merit-based access to the global marketplace.

In time, editors wanted to use the platform to search, view stories, and directly connect with freelance visual journalists who were part of the global Visura community. This led us to also create an Editor’s account for visual researchers, editors and buyers to be able to search, connect and manage a growing list of freelance visual journalists and storytellers based on location, expertise, skills, and experience.

Our goal has always been to elevate media literacy by empowering a growing global community of publishers and freelance visual journalists with a central platform where they can connect, share work, and transact. During my studies, I learned how technology plays a significant role in the market of visual content. and ask these questions: Will this tool unite or divide? Is what we are doing fostering understanding and empathy, or inciting division? Is our service empowering or exploitative? Are the resources we are offering solving a problem for our community?

These questions leave room for debate, opportunity to connect with new thinkers, visionaries, leaders, and professionals looking to tackle some of the biggest challenges in media and journalism.

What were your hopes coming to New York from Puerto Rico?
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I came to New York with the dream of offering new perspectives about what it means to be Puerto Rican. I thought what I saw in the news or in films was biased and unfair. Never in a million years did I think I would build technology to tackle discrimination in the media and journalism industry. I was just a kid that loved being from Puerto Rico, and I thought, if the world had better access to the incredible work and talent that is being produced in my country, people would change their minds about who we are. I never imagined that my concern was a global problem. As soon as I realized it was—I chose to dedicate my professional career to tackling the systematic challenges that lead to more discrimination, abuse, biases and violence. And since, I have found hope in dedicating all these years to finding ways to empower the freelance community of visual journalists and storytellers, who just like me, want to share their stories and findings to offer new perspectives.

Your site has robust features such as maps and directories. Did you always have an interest in technology?
To be honest, I learned to use tech to solve a problem. And most of what we have developed was created by years of customer discovery. At Visura, our team serves its community. I don’t have a light bulb that turns on with some magic solution. Everything we have built has been the result of listening to understand our community, and their needs, we are thankful for community.

How and when did this idea come about, did the Scout Film Festival come shortly after?
Prior to Visura, I had launched an exhibition space, a magazine, and a self-publishing platform with a goal of highlighting a growing community of freelance visual journalists and storytellers worldwide. By the time Visura.co launched its first version in 2016, I had learned from the community of primarily freelance photographers from around the world that what they needed was tools to build their website and connect with the global marketplace to further their work and career.  So, we worked really hard to build this for them.

Scout founder Anna Colavito and I met in 2014 at an Art Gala event. She shared with me the idea of launching a nonprofit organization called Scout Film Festival that aimed to support teen filmmakers. I loved the idea, and overnight we decided to join forces to realize her vision. When it launched in 2015, I joined as co-founder of the 501(c)3 organization. Throughout the years, Scout has evolved into an international festival supporting filmmakers aged 24 and under with resources, tools and opportunities to highlight their short films and further their careers.

Scout specifically highlights artists under 24, why is that?
That’s a great question! At the time, Scout became the first festival focused on emerging talent. Initially, we began by supporting teens. With time, we expanded the community to include college students because many of the initial filmmakers were aging out, and they expressed wanting to remain a part of the community as undergraduate students. So, we expanded to welcome filmmakers aged 24 and under. In the future, we hope to continue expanding further. Ultimately, the mission of Scout is to support, empower and connect diverse filmmakers worldwide. Throughout the years, the organization has become a premier destination for the professionals in the film industry to find new talent, particularly directors, screenwriters, and producers.

There are several collectives that emerged this past few years, what makes this one different? 
Visura is not a collective. Visura is a market network that leverages technology to empower a growing community of freelance visual content creators with tools to manage their online presence and connect with the global marketplace. The way we envisioned the tech that would power the platform stems from our belief in the power of community. So, we are a media-tech platform that fosters professional development, inclusivity, equal and merit-based opportunities, enabling environments for media and journalism.

At Visura, professional photographers, filmmakers, photojournalists, journalists, arts, and other visual content creators can build their website interconnected to a networking platform that is used by editors, researchers and buyers to discover new work and talent. The platform is proprietary. It is not built on Squarespace or WordPress, or any of those platforms. We built our own technology platform to better serve our international community with the tools they need to connect, collaborate, and in the future transact.

Visura also offers editors access to exclusive stories, lightboxes, advanced search, image briefs, maps, and other tools to search by location, skills, expertise, and experience. More importantly, editors have direct access to a database of over 6000 professional visual storytellers worldwide. Any editor can access the creators’ profile which highlights their bio, contact, website, social media links, clips and samples of their work. They can contact the members or save stories or profiles in lightboxes for future references.

Sustainability goes beyond making lists, how are you creating a sustainable way forward? 
Absolutely it does. I believe that the Visura platform serves to bridge the gap between visual content creators and buyers, and it does so in a way that does not exploit the talent or their work. This is very important. We are also very focused on streamlining merit-based opportunities. Quality is never at risk when you create an inclusive work environment. On the contrary, it elevates and enriches the space. And as a female woman of color, I strongly believe that publishers will further grow engagement if they can easily connect with a global community of professional visual journalists and storytellers ready to be hired.

How can I join as a contributor?
Start with a free account or download the Visura App that is now available on the Apple Store for free. Upgrade if you want to submit exclusive stories to the archive, or build one or more websites via Visura.

How do I join as an art buyer?
Start by requesting an account,  to access the advanced search, exclusive stories, contact info, lightboxes, and brief tools, amongst other things. Then download the Visura App that is now available on the Apple Store for free. In order to protect the community from spammers and hackers, editors need to request an account.

How can access make a difference and what are your hopes for the future of the industry?
There is a lot that we need to do to empower the media and journalism industry with better systems to power the marketplace. Over 70% of visual storytellers today are freelancers, publishers need better access to this incredible talent pool and we need to think carefully about how we approach these issues.

Over time, we’ve seen that relying on social media or spreadsheet lists as the primary solution to highlighting talent is unsustainable and in the long run, ineffective.

We need solutions that unite and foster career growth versus what is a marketing or social media strategy that serves the organizers in the name of “community”.

With a conglomeration of information, audiences demand authenticity and truth in content without being “sold to.”  As a result, publishers are realizing the value of unique, in-depth, and compelling visual stories by diverse visual storytellers worldwide. We learned that in order to facilitate better access to quality visual content, we needed to re-envision the systems that power the marketplace and create access for breaking news, stock, and unique visual storytelling.

90% of the information that the brain retains is visuals; and publishers grow engagement much faster when they feature unique, compelling visual stories. I foresee that freelance visual journalists will hold the power in the future of this marketplace.

We strongly believe that technology can facilitate the tools they need to manage and grow their career. The best path forward is removing the gatekeepers and giving power back to the creators with a toolset to manage their online presence, connect, get hired, and sell their work.

I don’t have all the answers. I have failed much more than I have succeeded. But at this stage in my life and career, I am on a mission to continue finding ways to re-envision the marketplace and future of media and journalism

The Daily Edit – Lum Art Magazine: Debra Herrick


Lum Art Magazine

Editor & Founder: Debra Herrick, PhD

Heidi: You’re about to celebrate your 5th year anniversary of Lum Art, how has this project surprised you and what are your hopes for 2022?
Yes, this coming summer will be five years since we started Lum’s online forum, lumartzine.com. We started publishing the print magazine a bit later, in 2020.

Lum has surprised me in the way that it has found a niche in the community where it really resonates; and in some ways, and I hope this is true, this project my husband Arturo and I started five years ago now has a life of its own.

I’ve also been struck by how many talented people have collaborated with and contributed to Lum. It’s been incredible to be a part of a project that brings together so many different kinds of talent. I think I’m also surprised by how much I’ve personally grown in the process, especially as an arts editor and a publisher.

In 2022, I hope to see Lum continue to have a place in the community and to grow with the current moment.

The forced repose of 2020-2021 impacted all of us, did you see creativity as a coping tool info creating hope?
This is a hard question. I think for some artists, creative endeavors were helpful in coping. I think it was also bittersweet for some who were grateful to have more time and less distractions, but also struggled with anxiety or solitude. In our case, having Lum as a creative project was really grounding during quarantine. I think we benefitted from having purpose and goals as well.

We tried to approach our stories last year with an awareness that times were strange. I think that threadline is palpable in each issue. But I think that if Lum created hope, it was through following through with our plans to publish the biannual print magazine. Many projects – especially in the art world – were being shuttered. We published on a shoestring, but we decided to keep going and stay present. We hoped that Lum would be a source of connection and community for people, especially during a time when many were feeling disconnected.

Who was recently awarded from your latest fundraiser in Santa Barbara? The ping pong competition was a hit!
Our first benefit event was awesome. We threw a Ping Pong Paella Party on Dec. 4, and we raised $10,000 to underwrite our print mag and two new programs: a biannual art prize and an arts writing fellowship, both to be awarded to individuals from historically underrepresented communities including BIPOC and people with disabilities.

Our first art prize winner is Vanessa Wallace-Gonzales and the 2022 arts writing fellow is Ryan P. Cruz.

How many times do you publish? 
We publish the print magazine twice a year. The electronic version can be read on lumartzine.com. The print mag is free and can be ordered in our shop (there’s a cost for shipping & handling) or you can email me for a list of where to pick one up in the Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo area.

How do artist and writers connect with you?
Email is usually best, editor@lumartzine.com.

The Daily Edit: Ethan VanDusen


Ethan VanDusen

Heidi: For the In n Out image by the airport how much planning went into that?
Ethan: I had seen this image a few times cycle through my Instagram feed from fellow photographers based in the LA area. Growing up in Maine, the possibility of getting a shot like this just didn’t exist. I knew the location of the shot but that was about it. To be honest, not much planning went into this particular shot. It was more just, get there, set up my camera, adjust my settings and shutter speed and wait for a jet to fly over. It took a few tries dialing everything in due to the fact it was well past sunset, getting the jet as motionless as possible was not an option, so figuring out my settings to keep the jet from looking like a blur in the sky took a little time, but I was happy with the result I produced.

What draws you to low light/night photography and who or what are your inspirations?
I never really thought of myself as a “night shooter”. I mostly shot landscapes and brand photos before moving to California in 2018. One evening, during the beginning of the pandemic, the cabin fever hit. I needed to get out of the house. I had been to LA a few times before to explore during the day but really wanted to see the city at night. I knew due to the pandemic, the streets would be a bit more calm than normal. So I packed my camera bag, grabbed my tripod and drove down to see what I could find. I got to the heart of Downtown LA right around sunset. There were a few of the classic LA spots that I wanted hit. The Korean Bell of Friendship, the 4th Street overpass and a few others. Upon taking my first photos at a low shutterspeed and seeing the results, I was hooked. The light trails, the somewhat moody, ominous look these photos produced sunk their claws into me and drew me in. I had tried experimenting with light trails in Portland, Maine a few times, but never had much luck. Come to LA and BAM, these were the shots I had always really wanted to take. A few photographers really inspire me in the night photography world, Andrew Wille (@andrewoptics), Kyle Meshna (@meshna), and Mike Will (@m.visuals) are three I think produce amazing content and constantly push me to become a better photographer.

Can you tell us about the lake in Maine water skiing clip, I mean, those conditions…
I was home in Maine for my birthday and was lucky enough to receive a drone as a gift from my family. One night, we were at a rented lake house and there was an absolute banger of a sunset. I hadn’t flown my drone other than a few test flights so I figured I would fly out over the lake and capture the scene from above as the light faded. While I was flying I noticed a slalom water skier being towed behind a boat. I watched for a few moments and as much of the light was gone, the skiers spray was catching all the orange light from the sky, giving a look of flaming water spray. It was the first drone video I ever took, and still my favorite to date. Sometimes things just workout without any planning whatsoever and that was definitely the case that evening.

How did your love of photography come about and how long have you been using drones?
 I took a film photography class in High School. My teacher, Ms. Brown was the first one to really instill that love of photography in me. After that class, I didn’t purse photography much until years later. My dad’s friend gave him an old Nikon D40. It was a pretty old camera, but I loved the ease of digital photography. I shot on that camera for about a year and produced some very mediocre photos. I wasn’t too happy with the photos I was producing so I sold that camera in a yard sale. A few years went by and signed up for a few courses at the Maine Media College in Rockport Maine. One of my professors, Kate Izor (who is now the personal photographer for Roger Waters!) was the one I really credit with putting that deep love of photography in my brain. She taught me some Lightroom basics and showed me how to really use a camera to its fullest potential. I had the itch to start shooting again. I did a little research and decided I wanted to go with a mirrorless camera. The Sony A6000 was my first camera I had since the D40 and that really made a huge difference. I bought Lightroom and the rest it pretty much history. I have been shooting pretty consistently since then and developing my skills over the years.

I have been using drones for only about a year now. That has been a huge help when I’m going through a creative slump. I sometimes get uninspired using my camera but having the option to photograph from a bird’s eye view always re-inspires me. I now like to photograph the same place from both ground and sky, it helps me create different images and sometimes a boring scene on the ground can be stunning from the sky. The water skier is a perfect example of this. From the dock, it looked like every other water skier on the lake, from above, it added so much more beauty.

The drone still that I shared is of downtown LA, it’s a composite of three images taken from different heights. I stitched them together in Photoshop to create a vertical panorama of the skyline downtown. I love this photo just based off the perspective and depth.

What have you learned about the creative journey?
For anyone going through a creative slump, just know we all go through them. I find myself having creative block a lot more than I would like to admit. I always find inspiration from other photographers. It sounds goofy, but when I see creators producing amazing content, I almost get jealous. It drives me to get out and produce content of my own. Just know that everyone experiences these creative slumps, it just takes drive and desire to get back out there and start creating again.

One other thing, nobody picks up a camera and starts taking stellar images right off the bat. Take your time, hone your skills, find a subject matter you love to shoot and focus on that at the beginning. Once you have your skills dialed in that field, branch out and try other styles of photography. Finding a photography community is also a great way to grow your skills, and tips or tricks from fellow photographers are always nice to receive.