Category "Photographers"

Michael Lewis- On The List

- - Photographers

Michael Lewis has been on my list of photographers for a long time (He must be on everyone’s list because I see his credit all over the place). Click on the list to see proof.

He’s hard working, low maintenance, subjects enjoy him and he has a distinct style I can rely on. I posed 5 question I thought you might like to hear the answer to:

1. I really enjoy the email promos you send out from recent photoshoots that show you in the scene you’ve just shot sometimes standing next to celebrities. How did you get started with that and what has the response been?

It started as a way of collecting an ‘autograph’ from the celebrity shoots I did. Instead of a signature, or a picture of me simply standing next to who I was photographing; I decided it would be fun if I incorporated myself into the shot which I had composed. Soon, I wanted a souvenir from all the places I found myself, and all the people I was meeting in my shoots; so every shoot became fair game.

The reaction has been terrific! People seem to dig it. It has provided me a way to give my friends (both in, and out of the business) a chuckle, while keeping everyone up-to-date on my photo-excursions.

2. I’m sure it wasn’t a “eureka” moment but can you describe the chain of events lead to you becoming a top editorial photographer?

Dad bought a Nikon camera while in Vietnam (while my mom was pregnant with me) >
I was always into ‘arts and crafts’ >
Started college >
Parents sat me down; asked me some big ‘life’ questions >
Transferred to art school :>
Dad gave me that old nikon >
Found photography came very naturally to me >
Assisted in Philadelphia >
Grad school (MFA) >
Was selected to be in a book ’25 and Under’ >
Doors opened >
I kept my foot lodged so that those doors didn’t close >
Always treated every shoot as if it was the most important photograph I was ever to take.

3. In my mind you have a very unique style of photography so, your name is on the top of my list of environmental portraitists who can make pictures with a lot of depth and a bit of humor in them. How did you arrive at this style?

Coming from a fine art background; my interests were in what a picture suggests and the tone that they convey. I studied photography as a means of personal expression; and less as a way of documenting. With an interest in narrative film and mise-en-scene,I didn’t see photography from the journalistic philosophy. Instead, I felt it was tool to construct and suggest reality; rather than a commitment to capture it. When I began being commissioned to photograph people whom I had never met; I always handled my subjects as equals. I photograph celebrities, ‘real’ people, and myself all with the same eye.

4. Are there any career choices you that you either regret or turned out to be the best decision you ever made?

I still wonder if leaving LA (where i got started commercially) and moving to New York City helped, or hindered, my career.

5. If you were an insect what kind would you be and why?

A king bee.

it’s good to be king.

Here’s a Recent Promo.


These are from his Website.







Nadav Kander- Genius

- - Photographers

I have always been in awe of Nadav Kander. Repped by Bill Stockland at Stockland-Martel, Kander was always a name that crept-up when you wanted to take a subject everyone was familiar with and make an unexpected picture: “If I see another picture of Tom Cruise with tousled hair, white shirt and a megawatt grin I will stab my eyes out with a pica pole, effing hell, someone call Kandar”β€”if you actually got Nadav past the publicist of an A-List celebrity I would give you gold in the Photo Editor Olympics.

It all started for me with the book entitled, Beauty’s Nothing (read about it here) where his photographic style was so distinct and arresting I figured I had to try and land him for an assignment. After the book he continued to surprise me with his creative directional use of gels (normally I can’t stand gels) and dark, moody, unsettled portraiture and landscapes for which he is now known.

After many attempts to try and land him I finally did to shoot an athlete portfolio in London that combined lots of creativity and plenty of room to run the results in the magazine. When the assignments unexpectedly turned into a cover and time with the subject plus space in the magazine suddenly shrunk I knew I had lost my opportunity and needed to change to a more conventional photographer. The last thing I wanted was a shoot with Nadav loaded with art direction intended to strip away his distinct style (“can you make it bright and tack sharp focus?”) and no pages to run any photos.

So, I walked away.

I don’t want to hire a great photographer and then hack the shit out of their work in the magazine… at least not on the first encounter.






Nick Cobbing

- - Photographers

This photo story called “Surface Tension” (see it here) by Nick Cobbing submitted on Photo Rank (here) is the kind of thing that absolutely sings off the monitor. It doesn’t hurt that Nick has the perfect interface on his website for viewing a photo story (intuitive, simple and the controls disappear off the screen or hide in the corners). I can look at photos like this all day on my computer. Way to go Nick.




Wildlife Photographers

- - Photographers

I have a request from a photo editor for a list of wildlife photographers I like. Here’s my list. Contributors feel free to add to it and I’ll update.

UPDATED: September 25, 2009 (got some more names from a nature photo editor)


Joel Sartore
Michael “Nick” Nichols
Jim Brandenburg
Mitsuaki Iwago
Steve Bloom
Norbert Wu
Thomas D. Mangelsen
David Doubilet
James Balog
Tui De Roy
Nick Brandt
Paul Nicklen
Frans Lanting
AraquΓ©m AlcΓ’ntara
Daisy Gilardini
James Balog
Denver Bryan
Art Wolfe
Anup Shah
Kevin SchaferΒ 
Tom & Pat Leeson
Daniel J. Cox
Wendy Shattil/Bob Rozinski
Florian Schulz
Gary Bell (marine)
David Hall (marine)
Brandon Cole (marine)
Cesar Aristeiguieta Photography
Charles Glatzer

Stock Agencies
Peter Arnold
Minden Pictures
Animals Animals
Images of Nature
National Geographic Images
Terra Brasil Imagens
Nature Picture Library
VIREO (birds)
Sea Pics

Also, I like to check out the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award (here) to see emerging photographers. Archive of past winners (here).

Frank W. Ockenfels 3

- - Photographers

Frank Ockenfels does everything well.

When I think about high level photographers who can shoot anything and are flexible and can problem solve on the fly, Frank (Frankie three sticks) comes to mind every time. He’s one of those guys who you can hire to shoot B&W, Color, Alternative Process and can shoot on location or in a studio and works with celebrities, athletes, musicians, kids, psychos… whatever. He’s the nicest guy in the world and seems to know his way around a camera pretty well, so I guess you would call him a generalist. But, here’s the thing, I always remember Frank for his collage technique and even though I’ve never called him to shoot that technique he somehow avoids letting it define him but it’s what makes him memorable to me.










Oh. My. God. – Jan Von Hollenben

- - Photographers

My favorite thing about photography is that I’m always discovering new stuff and my taste is just never fully developed. I can imagine that being a photography critic is quite a drag because you’ve seen everything before and there are very few surprises for you in photography. I found Jan Von Hollenben over on Photo Rank and every time I show someone these photos I get the same reaction… Oh. My. God. Photography is just awesome like that sometimes.



Jeff Riedel

- - Photographers

Jeff Riedel is intense.

Shooting with a 4×5 on location with lights and multiple set-ups per day can be pressure enough but he has this way of shooting that requires adjusting the lights (up, up more, ok like twice that, even more, now see my hand, faced over here like my hand) and the camera position (ok move everything back I was too close) and the subject (move over 1 step left, your other left, now 1 step back) and louping the focus under the black cloth (ok hold it like that for one second) then shooting endless polaroids (polaroid, polaroid, polaroid, how many polaroids do we have left) while trouble shooting the lighting (more power, it’s at max power, it’s at max power?) until everything is perfect and then *BAM* slamming sheet after sheet into the holders until you see the right expression (close your mouth, chin up) and adjusting the body position slightly (can you put your hand on your hip, let the other one hang loose, move your leg back an inch) and making sure the goddam pocket wizards don’t fail like they sometimes do in the middle of the shot (did that fire?, no it didn’t, are you sure?, yes positive, what channel is it on?, is it turned on?, do you have a sync cord?) and then after endless calls to the assistant (film, film, film, ok polaroid) and then you wait for the polaroids to cook, no one can move, and then he compares the two polaroids to make sure nothing changed in between the first and last and then the shot is over.








I worked with Jeff on location once and he was doing another job the next day that I wanted to help him out with for fun, so the next day we went tromping through the woods with talent and crew doing various setups going through the usual intense shooting procedure for each location. At the end of the day over dinner Jeff has the polaroids which, because of his rigorous method of shooting, represent the final shot for each setup and he was brooding over them. The light here or the color there or the body position in this one was not where he wanted it to be and to be honest, I couldn’t see it. Not because it wasn’t there but because I don’t have the ability to see the degrees of imperfection in two nearly similar images. Jeff wasn’t satisfied so he rescheduled his commitments and went out in the woods the next day and shot the whole thing over again. Intense. Goddam Right.

James Nachtwey

- - Photographers

I used to think the tension in James Nachtwey’s photos came from the subject matter. Everything he shoots is so intense and scary how could there not be tension? I mean holy effing christ, you’re getting shot at or someone is telling you the horrors they experienced or you’re looking at the results of horrors they experienced and there’s got to be serious drama in any image made, right?

I sent Jim out on assignment once where I knew there was only the smallest percentage of a chance that something dramatic would happen. This is a very bad situation to send a photographer into, because the writer will draw on past events to manufacture drama when it doesn’t occur live which forces us into a situation where the editor wants to pull stock to create drama in the photography (I’m always on the lookout for these “traps” that are created when a writer oversells a story). When I heard nothing dramatic happened on the assignment I was prepared to be disappointed with the images not living up to the eventual rewrite of the story. But, hey wasn’t I surprised to see a couple images leading up to the drama that never happened, filled with tension and impending doom. Jim nailed it.

You see, the subject matter he shoots may be intense but Jim knows what he’s feeling or seeing doesn’t always translate directly to film so he uses the framing, timing and relationships between subjects and objects to create the tension.

Can you feel it?







Colin Pantall

- - Photographers

I really love these pictures taken by Colin Pantall who I found over in photo rank (here) and he was also featured on Conscientious (here) back in May. I really don’t have a specific need for this type of photographer because the scope of his work is so limited I’m not sure what I would hire him to shoot but I’ll never forget these images. I’m sure something will come up someday and I’ll have no problem remembering him.

That fact is worth noting.



I’m a Photographer

- - Photographers

Alright people, it’s almost Thanksgiving and I want to make sure you’re prepared to meet your aunt’s sister in law’s son who is also a photographer because you know how it is these days saying you’re a photographer is like saying you breathe air.

But, here’s the deal, you need a shit load of talent to become a “working photographer.” A shiiiiiiiiiit load. There is such a massive gulf between amateur and professional photography it’s really quite improbable how people can make the jump. I guess that’s the good news for pros. The bad? Enduring your new amateur photographer friend’s endless string of questions about camera type and file treatment and technique then the viewing of vacation photos on the ipod or blog or photo sharing site and then in my case the inevitable “if you ever need photos from the
Vesna Festival in Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada, I was there last year and have a thousand shots.”

I’ve got nothing against amateur photographers and I’m more than happy to engage them in conversation about the business but this website is for working photographers, people who aspire to become working photographers, photo editors and art directors. I don’t give a crap if you hang out on flickr or myspace or zooomr because there’s plenty of good stuff happening there as well. But, if you come here to hang with us it’s to engage in conversation about working as a photographer at the highest level.

See you after the break.

Brigitte Lacombe

- - Photographers

You know what I love about working with Brigitte Lacombe (here) besides dropping her impressive (lovely sounding too) name in meetings.


That’s right. No one is allowed in the room with Brigitte and the subject. No client hovering, no hair person attending to errant hairs, no makup person blotting the brow, no stylist fussing the collar, no caterer tapping emails on the blackberry, no producer yapping on the cell phone, no agent cleaning fingernails… no goddam distractions.

Can you tell?





A New Feature

- - Photographers, Websites

I thought it might be interesting if I created a place where people could submit a story or their website or a photograph and let their peers vote and add a comment. I’m calling it photo rank and it’s in the sidebar and (here).

I was looking for a program that would allow people to submit portfolios to me on this blog and came across this free software called pligg. I can’t believe how many features it has and I have no idea if it will prove useful or just more of a time suck. I loaded all the photographers I’ve written about to get things started. See what you think.

Martin Schoeller

- - Photographers

I’ve never met anyone as loyal as Martin Schoeller (here). To the subject, his team of people, the client, his agent, his style, his goals, the print… everything. It’s more than just being a nice guy and delivering consistently good work there’s honesty and integrity, and a devotion to the craft, and an incredible work ethic that adds up to, well, loyalty.

There was a point in his career where he was thinking oh shit, this big head style is not going to define me but over the last couple years he’s decided the market forces are too great and produced a book and several gallery exhibits of big heads.

Luckily he doesn’t have one.



Anton Corbijn Talk

- - Photographers

Daniel Boud (here) left a comment on my Anton Corbijn post with audio (here) of Anton talking about his work.

The highlight is his love of imperfection in photography and how, as someone who wants to achieve perfection, he needs to use techniques that force imperfection. He shoots handheld with leicas and likes to print full frame so you see everything that is not right with the image and that’s the perfect way to make a picture. Awesome.

Here’s an old interview that says the same thing (here)

Doug Dubois Interview

- - Photographers

Alec Soth interviews photographer Doug Dubois (here) and posts it on Jorg Colberg’s blog Conscientious (say it 3 times fast). I found this part interesting:

Soth: You’ve also done a fair amount of editorial work. How do you mix that work into your overall practice?

DuBois: Editorial work keeps you on your toes and in shape – the unique stress and pressure of an assignment can offer up some real surprises. The hardest part is to maintain a sense of your own work and take appropriate risks in making a good photograph. You have very little time to work and no time to reflect or go at it again. Some of the best editorial work I’ve seen offer significant contributions to the photographers’ work. Larry Sultan, Mitch Epstein, Katy Grannan, etc., pull this off time and again. The frustrations come from the time limitations and other circumstances that you have to work around– and, of course, a bad edit or layout can defeat even the best efforts.

Your Website Sucks

- - Photographers

I can’t seem to get a photographer I like hired to shoot fashion, because every time I send a link to the fashion director she clicks and the opening image pops up and it’s this horrendous, pretentious, model-y shot that’s dripping with cheese.

The rest of the site is littered with solid gold shots but she can’t get past the fact that this photographer thinks the greatest shot they’ve ever taken, the shot that goes on the opener, blows.

Peggy Sirota

- - Photographers

The amazing thing about working with Peggy Sirota is the amount of effort and the level of detail that goes into the preparation for a shoot. As soon as she signs on, the phone springs to life with calls about styling, grooming, props, locations and then Peggy calls to discuss ideas, then she calls the subject to discuss ideas, then she calls you back to talk it over again, then you talk to the agent, then the producer calls, then the office manager calls… it’s awesome.

I don’t think many people realize how much effort goes into consistently creating images that look like you just walked by and quickly snapped one (she calls them “elegant snapshots”).


peggy3.png peggy2.png


Shooting for the NY Times Magazine

A reader sent me a link to a NY Times Magazine piece where photographer Simon Norfolk talks about several of the shoots he’s done (here). There’s good insight to his approach on each story but I love to read between the lines as he tells us about shooting this Sunday’s Perfect Drought story. He describes the photos as “Illustrative of the facts,” for a conventional story where “the pictures sit closely to the text.”

Sure, it’s a job, but handing someone a story and telling them to go shoot all the plot points seems so two dimensional to me. That story should have gone in the newspaper not the magazine.