Category "The Daily Edit"

The Daily Edit – Art Center College of Design Zoom Portfolio Review

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2020 Spring Graduate Work

Everard Williams and Ann Field from Pasadena Art Center College of Design had their Final Crit Grad Review for photography students recently. Not surprisingly it was conducted via Zoom. Over the course of about 4 hours we looked at a variety of stellar work. You can see all of the graduate work here.  There is a tremendous amount of strong work, however I was struck by these two images in particular.

Photographer: Marly Ludwig

Marly: When I first heard the story of a girl from my former high school who lost her finger, I was immediately interested. One day during school, Victoria
decided to hop over the fence and skip class. Upon climbing over the chain-link fence, a ring she was wearing snagged and her finger suddenly ripped off. That is not quite the repercussion one would expect from ditching school. Being quite scared of losing an appendage myself, I wanted to confront that fear with my camera. I felt placing her in the shadow of a fence with her hand to her face would be the best way to illustrate the story. Victoria showed such stoicism, and she wiggled the little piece of finger for me, which I found endearing. The image came out exactly how I envisioned it, and I love how beautiful she is without her ring finger.

Photographer: Sohui Kim.

I enjoyed her interpretation of a Korean moon jar from. Moon Jars were originally created in the 17th and 18th centuries as household food storage jars but have been admired as artworks since Korea’s colonial period (1910-45). They are formed as two halves thrown on a wheel before being skilfully luted together horizontally around their widest point before being glazed and fired. The joint line is visible and they are admired for their unintentionally artful asymmetry.

 

The Daily Edit – Ventura Covid-19 Protest: Angelo Partemi

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Angelo Partemi

 

Heidi: How did you protect yourself while you were shooting? 
Angelo: I wore a mask the whole time but skipped the gloves as it would have been too hard to handle my cameras with them. Longs sleeves and pants were essential, and upon returning home I washed my clothing and disinfected my gear immediately as it was very difficult to keep with social distancing in crowds that don’t respect that advisory. I only went in close for shots when absolutely necessary, but I tried to not let that dictate my flow.

How did you approach people since you didn’t have a media pass? 
I’ve never had a media pass I didn’t make myself. I honestly treated it as any other day out on the street. I have been photographing strangers in public for 7+ years and am very comfortable approaching people and taking close photos. In this case, I felt people knew I wasn’t there as a supporter as much as an observer.

Did you get any resistance from the protestors?
I didn’t get a ton of resistance, but I did get a lot of questions. I was accused of being media by several different people because I was protecting myself with a mask. People asked if I was selling photos to China or working for China. To go back to my country, which is America. You know, the normal stuff you hear when you cover something like this and don’t fall on their side of the fence. I kept calm and rational and told them I was there because it was interesting, nothing more.

Were you concerned for your safety at any time?
Never.

How did photographing this protest push your work?
I’ve been working on this project since 2016 and because it’s been going on for so long, it has really pushed me to go to events where I don’t support what they’re doing. But to be honest to the project I have to see both sides as it’s part of the greater story. So, it pushes me personally as I wouldn’t be at an event like this if I wasn’t taking photographs.

How do you approach a project like this, do you think about your body of work, and then create a shot list?
I do not have a shot list in my mind before going out as I think it can stifel my creativity and close my mind to pictures that are in front of me. I usually find greater success when I have an open my mind and listen to my gut. I try to shoot first and edit later. If it’s interesting I try to put a frame around it. I don’t see this body of work as a whole yet, nor am I at a place where I can fill holes. I think my bucket is close to half full with a lot of work ahead.

Since you are shooting only film, what are the advantages?
I don’t know if there is an advantage, but definitely a preference. The look, feel, and tangibility of the negatives far outweigh any advantage digital would give me.

Do you keep a mental checklist of what you’ve photographed and do you take longer to frame up the image?
I think not being able to review my images keeps me in the moment, and constantly scanning for the next image which is good. I might take 5 frames at most on an amazing scene, though it’s typically 1-2. Like all photography, it’s a numbers game, but I think shooting film increases mine.

The Daily Edit – John Hryniuk: Covid-19 Portraits

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Air Canada pilot photographed wearing mask at Toronto’s Int’l Airport.

Woman prays in front of Church in Toronto on street. Church closed due to Covid-19.

Decontamination workers pose for a photo before they clean a construction site.

A man walks his dog protecting him with a mask.

Misc. pedestrian poses for a photo wearing his surreal mask.

Costco shopper wears high end  3M respirator mask to shop at the store

Chinese traveller on his way back to Shanghai on a 22 hour flight wears PPE suit.

Disabled shopper poses wearing his mask and gloves while driving motorized wheel chair.

Steel worker near construction site wearing his home made mask and steel work helmet.

John Hryniuk


Heidi: What have you been doing during lockdown?
John: When work came to a halt here in Toronto because of the pandemic, I needed to find a creative distraction. The need to be creative as a professional photographer during these difficult times isn’t a maybe, it’s a must.

How are you able to connect with people on the street?
I’ve been walking a lot and riding my bike around town.

How long have you been on lock-down?
This week in Canada we are entering our eighth week of a country wide semi-lockdown.
I decided to document the pandemic and the lock-down of my city in the best way I knew how, my photography skills. Little did I know that this distraction would turn into a full time on-going project.  While documenting this event I’ve photographed so many interesting individuals.

Which moments stuck with you the most?
There are so many moments that capture these dynamic times. It ranges from a woman praying on the street in front of her church because it closed and to a man wearing a full on heavy respirator while shopping at Costco and a Chinese student at the airport preparing to travel back to Shanghai, wearing full personal protective equipment. These are indeed historic times we are experiencing at the moment during Covid-19 and we as artists should all try and document this in any way we know how. I hope that the photos that I take during this time will someday allow others to experience what this period in time was like. Difficult, emotional and the our ability to adapt to the change.

 

For more portraits, please visit @johnhryniukphotography

The Daily Edit – Eric Bissell: Patagonia Catalog + Farm to Crag

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Eric Bissell

Heidi: How long were you a ranger and were you also shooting back then?
I was a ranger in Yosemite for 8 seasons. I started when I was 19 years old, working in the park during the summers. Living in Yosemite was some of the most memorable years of my life, but I started to feel a bit claustrophobic living between the 3000’ granite walls and moved away last year.

I studied sculpture in college, and although I always wanted to make work in Yosemite, I could feel my creative energy being siphoned into the physicality of being a climbing ranger and spending so many days out climbing on the cliffs. I was accustomed to working in studios for sculpture and picking up the camera gave me an opportunity to engage aesthetically with the world without the burden of three-dimensional work. I wasn’t shooting much at the beginning, but started shooting more and more in later years as I drifted farther away from sculpture.

Were you shooting at the same time?
When I moved to Yosemite, I didn’t have the perfect studio space to make sculpture, which is what I was studying in college. I also didn’t have a ton of the motivation to be honest, because climbing was such a full energetic and creative outlet. When I would get back to college after the summer, the experiences in the park would be fuel throughout the year. It was a great reset each season and helped me realize the need for both time to collect and time to create. Trying to do both at the same time has always been a struggle that I’m trying to improve at.

What did the park teach you?
Living in the park taught me how incredible it is to live in a place that people are deeply excited about. I got the opportunity to meet so many amazing and passionate people because they were constantly making pilgrimages to my (temporary) backyard. Yosemite gave me a lot of opportunities born from the shared love of a place. I was taking photos inspired by this community and was also invited to go on some trips through people that I met in the park. On a trip to Kenya, I took a photo that sold to Patagonia when Jane Sievert selected it. The photo department sent me a handwritten note with the catalogue that featured the image, and I was hooked.
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How do you choose to climb only and not shoot, do you simply leave your camera behind?
Climbing at a high level is my passion and I’ve found it hard to accomplish that goal if I’m also thinking about my camera. It’s not an easy balance for me, so I’ve tried to minimize the conflict between shooting and climbing by creating a camera kit that is rugged, light, and easy to use.

There’s the mental capacity and the physical capacity of the trying to do both activities at once. If I’m climbing at my limit, I don’t really have the mental energy to also be thinking about documenting what’s going on around me. I’d like to challenge myself on that, but for now it’s a limitation I face.

On longer routes like multi-day walls every waking moment is spent on getting the team up the cliff, so taking time from upward progress to take photos can be a big deal. It’s important that I have climbing partners that trust me to get good images while not holding us back.

This is always a struggle for me, especially on expeditions. I want to be contributing as an equal member of the climbing team, but I also am responsible to document. Often it means running double time. Jogging ahead to get a shot when we’re all tired anyways, or climbing higher on a wall, or strategizing what shots I want to capture the next day when it’s late at night and I’d rather be going to sleep.


Now that you’ve returned from Kyrgyzstan, when you are presented with an opportunity again, how will that experience help you decide?
I’ve done a few international climbing expeditions with visual storytelling components. Each one was a unique process from the origin of the idea to arriving at the airport. I know that the decision-making process leading up to the next trip will be its own weighing of desire, opportunity, risk, and intuition.

Something I witnessed from the first trip, was that as time passed after returning home, gradually an appetite appeared desiring for another comparable experience. I got something deeply satisfying out of being physically, emotionally, mentally challenged in a place far from my own home. That lingering buzz meant made me realize I would be more inclined to say yes the next time an opportunity came up.

With Kyrgyzstan, I hesitated a little because I was trying to establish a life directly in contrast to the transient seasonal park service life. But a month isn’t really that long in the end.

Do you say no to trips?
I have said no to some trips, but I think it’s important to know that the more I say yes, the more I want to go on more trips. Like all experiences, big trips are a learning process. Looking back at my photos from Kyrgyzstan, I already see a lot of gaps in the images I chose to take. Being self-critical, I know that when I do something, I’m going to want to do it again if possible because I will have an opportunity to improve.

Climbing as a sport is both macro and micro, do you see your own photography different now? You study miniscule rock features, you see big sequences. Does that pivot transcend into your work?
In climbing we talk about “exposure” on a big wall like El Capitan. When you get that feeling most is when the micro and macro play off each other intensely – stepping from a ledge onto a blank face, traversing above a roof, leaving a corner system. Not every image needs to heighten exposure, but I think there are similarities in how we balance an action in a frame with the setting surrounding it and how the exposure of certain climbs can make us feel more present in a moment and place.

Photographing climbing is a neat challenge and perhaps has parallels to many documentary photography situations. At its most simple, the goal is to balance the climber against their setting in a way that a viewer can feel both intimate, but not lose the larger sense of place.

I’ve played with cameras my whole life, but climbing is what made photography into my work. I’m grateful to climbing for doing that for me.

During Farm to Crag did you search for that metaphor of the handle and the crack, or did that evolve?
The idea to place the farmer’s hands with the rake and the climber’s hands with the crack was an idea that developed while watching one of the climber’s (Alexa) hand appear around a corner on the climbing day of the event. I saw Alexa’s hand in isolation touching the granite and thought back to the day before when our hands were in the soil on the farm. I had been a little underwhelmed by the images I was getting out climbing and had encouraged myself to keep engaging and searching for a new way to look at the scene. It was a little pep talk and it paid off in that I was trying a little harder to see something new when Alexa’s hand catalyzed the visual metaphor. The next morning, I went back to the farm and got the image of the hands on the rake.

What was the most unique thing you learned about your own work shooting Farm to Crag?
That was probably the key learning moment from Farm to Crag for me as a photographer. Look hard for the little symbols that connect what is happening in front of the camera with the bigger idea I am trying to get at.


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The Daily Edit – Life on Pause: Kevin Steele

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This is Jacqueline and Lucifer: “I’ve never seen anything like this before. I’ve lived through many national disasters and other viral outbreaks but never seen such a response.  Will masks & 6 ft distancing become a way of life? We are waiting and watching to see what unfolds both socially and culturally.”

This is Simon: “Sitting on the deck overlooking Topanga Canyon eating half my bodyweight in hummus and chips I feel really connected to not just the abundance of nature around me but also to the gazillions of people all over the world living through this strange time.  The level of connection with friends and family (I’m English) scattered around this planet of ours has surprisingly increased even as we are all hidden away. The days are blending, I’m binge-watching OZARK, doing makeshift ‘Hillbilly’ workouts between endless cups of tea, and marveling at nature in full swing around me even as we are all are forced to re-assess our priorities.”

This is Ngozika making masks: “There’s something about this isolation that’s different.Being a freelance designer I’m home by myself anyway but there’s something sobering about the fact that my clients now are people all over the country that are helping to save lives and I don’t know them. I haven’t seen their faces and I don’t know their names. I just know that I’m trying to help as much as I can. So now my business is making masks. No more cocktail dresses. No more wedding gowns. Masks!”.

“I think that the hardest thing is being separated from other people. I’m cut off from my children, my grandchildren, and that’s been very hard for me. I’m a very outgoing person, I like people and I like to do things with people… I Have my dogs, this is it. And my husband. I don’t know how many people are feeling the same way, maybe some people are enjoying the solitude but I am not.”

This is Sade:  “I had three jobs. At noon I got a notification that one job had shut down and by five I got a notification that my second job shut down. I am not working at all, it’s been very crazy. I’m trying my best to meditate and journal and just be. Hopefully it will be over soon. My mother was getting her nails done two weeks  ago and I had to tell her to stay inside, this is serious. My grandmother is more aware: she’s stayed inside for weeks. I call her every day to check in on her.  I’m keeping the bonds alive, virtually. I hope that’s something that stays when this is over: that people don’t take things for granted anymore.”

This is Flavio our delivery guy from the pharmacy: “I’ve been waking up with this view of the city empty but a feeling of unity. As much as I see emptiness on the streets I see unity.  It’s like running a 400 meter loop. The whole world is taking a loop around the track, cleansing, we never did as much cleaning. The air is clean, the water is clean, the houses are clean. We’re halfway around the track and we’re gonna come to the finish line more united than before. At the same time that I feel togetherness…I’ve experienced something I never thought would happen. My car was stolen a few days ago while I was delivering prescriptions. Ten thousand dollars worth of medicine.  That something like that would happen while everyone is banding together is just…crazy.”

This is Michael: He hears news from Italy everyday. Here he’s listening to jazz & braising something delicious the whole neighborhood can smell.

Kevin Steele

Heidi: How are you expressing yourself during this unprecedented time?
Kevin: I’m photographing this personal project documenting life in quarantine, shot through the front door, being safe, into the space of self-isolation, revealing life apart and together.
We are all apart from each other but sharing a common experience. My productions and work shut down for likely months to come and I wanted to channel my creativity into a project that was meaningful. A project revealing how we live through these times, how we are feeling.

When did you start this project?
As the Mayor of Los Angeles announced Stay at Home guidelines, I photographed friends in their place of self-isolation beginning March 15th. As a commercial location photographer my work is full of color and emotion.  This project brings me back to my roots documenting life. One camera, one prime, black and white. No assistants, simple

How did this scale?
Friends referred others and people began to message me to be subjects.  After I had shot 9 scenes I created an Instagram project page @life.onpause and began posting the photographs on the homepage of my website.

How did the narrative unfold?
After each shoot I began to ask a few sentences to share: not who they are but rather how they are really feeling through all of this, and I began adding the stories to the posts. Those stories have became inspiration for others as they share common fears as well as the positive aspects of coming together. Everyone’s situation is different but there is a common feeling through all of this.

What has been the common observation thus far?
Now in the 5th week of shooting over 56 scenes. I’m struck at how the tenor of the photographs and stories have evolved over time. Initially there was shock, denial and anxiety amidst the uncertainty.  As we’ve settled in and realized that this will be awhile there are now feelings of  acceptance and positivity in our self-quarantining.

The Daily Edit – Sunhil Sippy: Mumbai Lockdown

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Sunhil Sippy: Lockdown Diaries

Heidi: How was this work a result of recent growth or a maturing eye?
Sunhil: On March 13th I returned prematurely from a photo workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico. I cut my trip short amidst growing unease about the spread of the coronavirus, making it back into India with hours to spare before the border closed. I live in an unusual tower block in the city, a sequestered and self-contained “oasis”, one of many new developments dotted around the city in a bid to bring “quality of life” to people in a city that has burst out of its seams. The building itself was constructed on the plot of an old and sprawling slum, and under current law the developer must rehouse the slum dwellers in the form of low cost housing on 2/3 of the plot, with 1/3 being used for the new construction.

So what you have are an elite and well to do group of CEO’s and Investment Bankers living cheek by jowl with some of the city’s poorest inhabitants. There is nothing unusual about this in a city like Mumbai, which has always broadly been the case. However, while the slums used to lie flat and spread over large plots of land, many are now vertical in nature, with poorer sanitation, more divided and with a weaker sense of community. I think I’ve been trying to push myself out of comfort zones for a while, but this situation has made the place I live a perfect, if uncomfortable subject to explore.

When was the last time you left your apartment, and what are the latest restrictions?
I did a quick grocery shopping run about 4 days ago having been within the apartment for close to 20 days. I was lucky to find some food on the shelves. Yesterday the rules of the lockdown became more severe and I’m no longer allowed to be in a car on the street if travelling less than 2km, and only allowed out for a medical emergency or for provisions. However, all street vendors have been forced to close, and my suspicion is that the supply chains have been completely broken down. I don’t imagine there would be easy availability of food, fruit or vegetables any longer. One of my key concerns is drinking water and the fact that we have filters in our homes that need regular servicing by  specialists. Obviously with a lockdown this severe nobody is able to carry out any of this work. Having said all this, I do believe this kind of a lockdown is necessary in a city like Mumbai and I think broadly speaking it has been effective if deeply uncomfortable.

How do these photos make you feel?
This juxtaposition has often made me feel uneasy, and while constructing my first and still incomplete body of work, A Disappearing City, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time wandering through many of these constructions in various parts of the city. I always come home with a sense of unease, being so directly segregated from the people living beside me cheek by jowl. And I think the photos do give a sense of discomfort.

What were you feeling making them? Do the two align?
While I have enjoyed photographing the city outside my doorstep, I’ve never had the courage to turn the camera inwards on to the place I live, out of a subtle feeling of guilt and shame at having the privilege of living in what a lot of people might call luxury. However, “luxury” for me is the ability to be able to walk on the streets of your city, and a good “quality of life” is less about an air-conditioned gym on your premises, and more about having a park to walk in nearby. Nevertheless, not a day goes by on which I do not say a prayer of gratitude for the comfort in which I live in a city where the blanket nationwide lockdown has left hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in the lurch, unable to return home, without food living displaced, like refugees living in camps on the border of their home states.

However even comfort and luxury develops its own spirit-crushing mundanity after an extended period in isolation. I live alone with a fine house help, Mohan, who looks after the home with love and dedication, allowing me to freely carry on with my professional and artistic pursuits. So it’s just the two of us, and no visitors.

What has the forced isolation made you confront?
I’ve always been comfortable in my own company and over the past few years have been less and less inclined towards larger social gatherings. I’ve also been learning, though it’s a complex and difficult journey, to embrace both uncertainty and the concept of discomfort. I’m not talking about physical discomfort, though living with a reconstructed left heel is certainly a physical challenge for a photographer, and physical pain is a part of my daily life. I’m talking much more about the upsetting of routines. I think as a society we have developed a disproportionate sense of dependency on “predictable” and “certain” outcomes.  And we now have all types of artificial methods of coping with “pain”. This period is helping me to confront some these questions. And while I have been struggling with these kinds of issues for years, there is once again both a kind of luxury and struggle in being able to contemplate these in isolation, given the fact that the one commodity many of us seem to have copious amounts of, is time. On a more practical level, I completed the initial work on several new photo projects. I then decided to pick up the camera and document life in the lockdown from my reasonably unique perspective.

During my time in India, I became very familiar with your personal work, this marks for me a colorful and soulful evolution for you, what do you see?
When I look at the photos I do see a major evolution, having worked in monochrome for the better part of ten years. It has also given me a sense of confidence about finding “beauty” in what I consider to be a very ordinary an aesthetically displeasing universe. It’s arguably “easy” to make a monochrome picture on a grungy street, or create a sense of both “romance” and “otherness” in high contrast black and white, but to turn your camera inward in straightforward colour, can be both unsettling and challenging, forcing you to confront much of your complex inner feelings about your own privilege.

We often talked about belonging, has that shifted?
I’ve spent much of my life feeling like an outsider, whether it was growing up as a South Asian schoolboy in a predominantly Jewish, North London neighbourhood, or being brown-skinned in a white-skinned elite British Boarding School, or struggling with the language and culture in a tough-as-nails Hindi speaking film industry. And now perhaps that feeling of unbelonging continues to pervade my current habitat, as an aspiring artist in a deeply corporate universe. Making these photographs has given me a deeper sense of understanding of who I am, and helps me to believe in the fact that beauty is all around us even when we feel claustrophobic and constrained, frightened and uncertain.

 

The Daily Edit – Joe Pugliese: Social Distancing Portraits

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Joe Pugliese


Heidi: Which was your first image, and how did they build on one another?
Joe: I started with a couple of my immediate neighbors, who are longtime friends and collaborators. As with all personal work, for me the biggest challenge is just getting the ball rolling. There is a huge unknown of what it will feel like to make the work and how the subjects will receive the experience. As I did a few of them, it became clear that it felt good and that I was being responsible in terms of my safety and that of my subjects, so I continued to reach out.

What was going through your mind during these portraits?
I tried not to overthink it. I had to disengage completely with any normal approach that I am used to, and that was challenging but refreshing. For instance, when my friends would come out to see where I was, they pretty much landed in a place that looked perfect for the photo. I did make some suggestions of moving to the left or right, etc but it was shouted from so far away that it  was easier for the subjects to just be however they wanted to be. For the images of people inside looking out, I suggested that and  they  had to direct themselves since I was  too far away to make any changes. The whole experience was fairly organic.

The magic of a portrait is the intimacy, describe the distance.
The approach here was to just record my friends in this odd moment. Luckily, there was a built-in trust that already existed since they are all close friends and know that I will not be taking advantage of them for my purposes. So even from 30 feet away there was this delicate exchange and I was surprised how similar it felt to an intimate portrait. In some ways, it may have made them more comfortable that I actually wasn’t so close. I’m learning a lot through this, and one of the things is that it takes radical change to understand how or why we do anything the way we do.

How much did you responsibly interact with each person?
Knowing that we are encouraged to get a moment or two of fresh air each day helped me wrap my head around the fact that I could do this in a very responsible way. The guidelines say to stay 6 or 10 feet from each other when outside but I wasn’t interested in pushing that in any way. I don’t think I got closer than 20ft to anyone that I photographed. I strongly believe in strict quarantine measures to quell this problem so I didn’t want to exacerbate the situation in any way. I also wanted to point out my distance and solo approach when I wrote the captions for my posts. I’m trying not to encourage a wave of photographers practicing unsafe methods to document the people in their lives.

Why do you feel people resonated with this work?
I think that it was inspired by the feeling I was having of not seeing new work of people for a couple weeks. Most of the photo coverage revolves mourned emptiness, empty streets, empty shelves, anonymous people wearing masks, etc and I craved some honest images of people doing what needs to be done, and maintaining dignity while doing it.

The Daily Edit – Art of Freelance addresses the COVID-19 world

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Photo by Art of Freelance Alum Gina Cholick

Art of Freelance

CEO & Founder: Mathieu Young

Heidi: When and why did you start this organization?
Mathieu: Art of Freelance has been running 10-week online workshops since 2016. This spring will be our 10th. I love being a freelance photographer (well, maybe a little less so in the past two weeks), but was looking for a way to provide the accountability, community, feedback loops and deadlines that people working a normal 9-to-5 have baked into their lives, and we do not.  So we break into small groups, check in weekly, and help each other stay accountable to the goals we set for the 10 weeks. The workshop culminates in a Showcase where we can all show off the work we’ve made. It’s amazing how much more people get done when there is some structure, a deadline, accountability, and support.

What has this taught you about the industry and yourself?
Short term, I feel like COVID-19 just revealed our industry as fragile, and not particularly well organized. There is no one advocating for creative freelancers at a national scale, the way you see in other countries. Congress is discussing a massive bailout package for major industries, “small” businesses (which probably don’t include sole proprietors that don’t have payroll costs), and people who qualify for Unemployment Insurance, but independent contractors that have been getting paid via a 1099 may fall through the cracks. You have people literally wondering how they’re going to pay their rent next month, and not a lot of good answers. We’ve been trying to research and aggregate some info on FEMA/SBA loans, emergency grants, rent moratoriums and mortgage forbearance programs, etc, to share with the community.

Long term, I think that this crisis will force us to be the kind of intrepid  innovative, creative problem solvers that we naturally are, and develop interesting solutions to continue to provide the world with creative content. I also think that this crisis is going to push a lot of us to reassess the age old wisdom that you should specialize specialize specialize, and make a diversification of skill sets something to aim for. I think this crisis may push a lot of people to reassess their careers, and potentially pivot, or add additional layers to increase that resiliency in tough times like these.

Who are your members?
We’ve had hundreds of creative freelancers from all different industries participants in the workshop, and stay active in the community. Photographers make up a good portion of the participants, but there are also musicians, writers, directors, designers, illustrators, and entrepreneurs of all kinds. Part of what makes it unique is the cross pollination between people with divergent skill sets, interested, and backgrounds.

How are you coping with the current climate?
We’re hosting a free Zoom call at 12p PST this Thursday to discuss “freelancing in a COVID-19 world”, and I’ll be interviewing Andrea Stern (@asksternreps), Joe Pugliese (@joepug), and Hannah Soto (@greyhouseproductions).

There are also a couple spots open in the Spring 2020 workshop still available if people are interested in some additional community, accountability, and support over the next 10 weeks. The registration link is on the homepage here

And we’ve continued to update our resources for freelancers page here, and will continue to do so leading up to Thursday.

The Daily Edit – Chris Crisman: Virtual Shoot

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Virtual Shoot

Photographer and Director: Chris Crisman

Heidi: Was Virtual Shoot a result of the outbreak or crazy synchronicity?
Chris: Around 6 months ago we had started preparing for early March to be a challenging time for our business. Not only was there launching the Women’s Work book but our executive producer, Robert Luessen, was scheduled to begin paternity leave the same week. Because of this, and also paired with our February decision to move to a commercial self-representation model, we were hyper-vigilant to everything that could possibly impact our work-flow. For years our team has wondered aloud how we could clone ourselves to be on more than one shoot at a time. But over the past 6 months preparing (with a side of panic) for Robert’s paternity, we half-joked that we would have to figure out a way to pipe him into the shoots with an iPad on a roller stand… And then on March 5th when clients were asking us for solutions, we began to develop bringing the idea of the Virtual Shoot to life. The “what if” now became a “how?”. And that question fueled us to rapidly find creative solutions. I’m also the kind of person who is always searching for new ways to challenge myself and the team when it comes to thinking about how to transform so the first call for our tech approach was to a trusted Digital Tech and DIT. I told him that I wanted to create an option that showed a scenario with as few people as possible on a set, but allow for conditions for everyone who should be there to attend and interact virtually, in real-time.

These final images were all created with existing photographs from Chris’s library or CGI then combined with a shoot of a single person in studio.

How long have you been working on this video?
The timeline for ideation to shooting this video was 7 days. We finished the final edit on March 18th. Within that time period, we were hyper-focused on establishing a pre-production protocol that was current to what we were learning at the time about safety-first. We took particular precautions and protocols that were published by various respected industry groups, like AICP. We also communicated with our crew daily prior to the shoot as well as during the shoot about their physical health. Our equipment and our studio was cleaned and disinfected prior to our arrival. We also opted for a larger studio to assist with the social distancing. Hand sanitizer and medical grade gloves were provided. The on-set producer took new responsibilities to ensure all surfaces were constantly sanitized with disinfectant.

Why does the world need this now?
This is not a time to gather. That is the critical first point I make on every platform where we shared this video. Again, Right now is the time to stay at home. I closed our physical office on Friday, March 5th and we re-opened our virtual office the following Monday. As for why now? Because we wanted the video to serve as an example for anyone who will need to consider new, more efficient ways to conduct business. Our way of helping people see things not as they are but as they can be — and for us, more thought-provoking, the better.

What’s next?
Since launching, I’ve spent time hunkered down with family as well as time reflecting on how much gratitude, respect and hope I have for this industry. I am also looking forward to keeping conversations like these going — especially around what Is coming and more so than ever, how we keep safe. We also challenged ourselves along the way to explore the idea of shooting without physical interactions and what we found is possible there. So there will be more to show and then talk about. In the long run, challenging ourselves was also a reminder to everyone on the team of what’s ahead and how important it is to be able to contribute ideas to moving our industry forward, together

The Daily Edit – Selma Fernandez Richter: La Luz Workshops

- - The Daily Edit

Selection of images from “The Ache for Home” by Selma Fernandez Richter.

La Luz Workshops

Founder: Selma Fernandez Richter

Heidi: What in your background led you to creating workshops?
Selma:I have been a photographer since 2001. I started my career en Monterrey, Mexico, where I attended college, primarily working on editorial projects for magazines. The desire to improve my photography led me to search for the most effective way to learn new skills. I found that photography workshops were an ideal way to do this. They provided an opportunity for me to immerse myself in a relatively short period of time, learn from some of the best photographers in the world, and apply the knowledge to my profession upon returning home.

Tell us about your relationship with Mary Ellen Mark and the connection to the photo center.
I was fortunate to have Mary Ellen Mark as my teacher, who ran an amazing workshop for nearly 20 years in Oaxaca, in Southern Mexico. I was able to attend her workshops for two consecutive years with scholarships from Conarte (Council for Culture and Art in Monterrey).

A desire to continue learning kept me close to the world of photography workshops. In 2007, I started working as Teaching Assistant for the Santa Fe Workshops and National Geographic Expeditions, also in Oaxaca, where I worked with photographers Raúl Touzon, Eniac Martínez, David Alan Harvey and Kenneth Garrett, among others. With time, I started to develop photography classes, in Monterrey, for advanced enthusiasts. Facilitating the learning process and bearing witness to student growth brought me great fulfillment and joy.

In 2011, I was invited to produce Mary Ellen Mark’s workshops which turned out to be the best school I could ever attend. Not only did I learn about photography, but also about her commitment to her students and her close relationship with the community. She always pushed students and staff to their fullest potential. I was fortunate to also assist her on assignment.


Mary Ellen Mark taking a portrait of me during her workshop in 2005

For many years, I collaborated with Photo Xpeditions, the company that produced Mary Ellen’s workshops. I started working with photographers Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, whom I had previously studied with; Maggie Steber, Tino Soriano, among others.

It felt like the natural next step was to establish my own company.  And in 2018, I created La Luz Workshops, which truly reflects my values around photography and teaching.

Today, I am honored and deeply grateful to work with some of the world’s leading photographers and industry experts, who are also remarkable teachers. We currently have two workshops in Mexico with Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, Finding your Vision, which is held every year, and The Art of Editing, which is held every 3 years (we just completed the first one this winter and it will happen again in 2023). I am really excited to have our first portraiture workshop with Richard Renaldi this Summer, also in Oaxaca, called The Engaging Portrait: A Stranger in Oaxaca. And, in the fall, we will run the second edition of Your Work and Its Audience: Making the Match, with Mary Virginia Swanson and Special Guests.

Art of Editing Workshop: Oaxaca, 2020 with Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb”
Finding your Vision: Oaxaca, 2020 with Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

Why in Oaxaca?
While I currently live in Minneapolis, MN, with my husband, photographer Andy Richter and our 3 year old son, Julien, I was born and raised in Oaxaca. Working in my home town is something that always makes me proud. I aim to share it with our students, who come from all over the world, in an authentic and intimate way.  We like to encourage meaningful engagement with the people and culture, not just taking things and perpetuating stereotypes.

Oaxaca is culturally rich, visually interesting, offers some of the best food in the world, has great weather year round, and it’s people love and embrace visitors that come to experience it. But there is also a history of colonialism on a number of levels. And that is why for us at La Luz is very important to engage in and promote fair business practices. We also encourage respectful relationships between our students and the people that they photograph. We are really lucky that our instructors and their work, attracts a crowd of experienced and sensitive travelers that come to Oaxaca with an open mind and heart.

To give you and idea of how Oaxaca is such a unique place, around 2003, McDonald’s tried to open a restaurant at the Zócalo —the main square where traditionally locals gather to eat and hang out, and the late painter Francisco Toledo, one of Mexico’s greatest artists, who was originally from Oaxaca, and the organization Pro-Oax, stopped the construction of the restaurant. During the last years of his life, Toledo was also very active in protecting native corn and local farmers from Monsanto. Oaxaca is considered by many the place where corn originated and where the most diversity of species exists. And as you may know, it is also a very important part of our cultural identity.

Tell us about your the connection to the photo center.
The workshops in Oaxaca are held at the Manuel Alvarez Bravo Photographic Center, founded by Francisco Toledo. The new director, Fausto Nahúm and I are having conversations about how we can best collaborate and have the workshops be more involved with the community and vice versa.

Another important aspect is being able to offer scholarships to Mexican photographers. We currently offer the Friends of Mary Ellen Mark Scholarship every year, that is open to Mexican young photographers (18-32 years old) to attend Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb’s workshop in Oaxaca. This scholarship is partially funded by some of Mary Ellen’s former students and close friends as well as by the Webbs and La Luz. Our hope is to keep Mary Ellen’s memory and generosity alive in Oaxaca, a place that was so close to her heart. We are currently looking into ways to offer more scholarships.

Mary Virginia Swanson and Elizabeth Krist during the workshop Your Work and Its Audience: Making the Match, NYC 2019

Do you organize them anywhere else?
Every year we run a workshop in New York with Mary Virginia Swanson and Special Guests called Your Work and Its Audience: Making the Match. Our Special Guests include: Elizabeth Krist, former Senior Editor at National Geographic; Alan Rapp, Editorial Director at Monicelli Press; Photographer and Photo Book Editor Joan Liftin; Karen Marks, Director at Howard Greenberg gallery; Jane Yeomans, Photo Editor at Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine; and photographer Elinor Carucci.

This workshop is for photographers who are ready to share their photographic work with the world. This class will help them identify appropriate audiences for it and discuss how to effectively reach out to them, whether it be through exhibitions, fine prints, publication or other formats. As artists, we spend most of our time, energy and resources, creating the work, but as Swanee says, sharing the work with others completes the creative cycle.

As you know, the gallery and editorial markets and basically everything in our industry is rapidly evolving. It is so important that photographers invest the time to really understand, speak the language and learn to make better negotiations when commissioned to create new work, granting licensing rights for their images, or when publishing their projects, to mention a few of the topics that the workshop covers.

 

 

The Daily Edit – BUST: Erin Patrice O’Brien

- - The Daily Edit

BUST

Creative Director: Laurie Henzel
Photographer:
Eric Patrice O’Brien

Heidi: How did Portrait of a Skateboard develop?
Erin: Portrait of a Skateboard developed because I became aware of the female and non- binary skate community through my daughter who skateboards. She was one of the only girls who skateboarded at her middle school at the time. And she was not comfortable going to the skatepark. The skateparks tend to be filled with mostly boys and men so it is intimidating for a young girl. I don’t skate and I have never been coordinated athletically. Maya, my daughter is pretty good for her age and it seemed like a waste that this was such a barrier. But it is. I found out about some organizations like @QuellSkateboarding and Skate Kitchen that had skate sessions for women and non- binary skaters so I brought her to one in New Haven, Ct.

When we arrived she and her friend looked at the scene said, “Mom, No. Let’s go home. “ They were shy. It was an oasis of women skating and I was completely drawn in, wanting to document everything. I walked up to a woman who looked pretty good and asked her to help my daughter. Her name was Jules Moriah. She immediately agreed and took Maya and her friend Kaitlyn to the ramps and gave them some tips. This was so empowering, I had never experienced such kindness between women.

Why did you exclude men?
It’s not that I excluded men. I have just focused on women and non binary skaters. I think there is plenty of documentation of male skaters.

How long have you been shooting that series?
I started shooting the series in June of 2019.

What tools has skating given these women?
I think that the tools it gives them is confidence and determination. It takes a long time to learn how to do an ollie or any other skate trick. It also takes a lot of confidence to go to a skatepark and be the only woman or non binary person.

Did you pitch BUST or did they come to you after seeing this personal gallery?
I pitched Bust because I was looking for other ways to be able to photograph the skaters that I met. Laurie Henzel – the creative director and founder- loved the series and was totally open. I went overboard because I wanted to shoot so many skaters that I had met and loved. I think she said get 4 models and I came back with 8 skaters. I begged Keia Bounds (who I know from working together photographing Dave Chappelle for Comedy Central in 2002) to be the stylist. Christine Herbeck has always been my main hair and makeup person. For this shoot Christine did the makeup and I had Nappstar Salon do the hair. Everyone worked really hard and we had fun. I was driving all the skaters in my 2004 toyota minivan back and forth from my studio to the skatepark in Brooklyn .

When is the launch party, will you skate there?
Unless a Corona cancel happens, the party is on March 12 from 7-10 at 110 Studios in Bushwick. Through the skate community I found a very cool venue which is photography and skateboarding centric. The owner Paulie, who also skates built the cyclorama strong enough to hold skateboarders and skaters bands will be performing.

The Daily Edit – Steve Peixotto: The Twilight Twirlers

- - The Daily Edit

 

Steve Peixotto

Heidi: Did you stage this bowling alley image, tell us how this photo came to be.
Steve: It seems like almost always; shoots are magical.  We work really hard to create the opportunity for chance to go the right direction and somehow it works.  Yes this image is staged, BUT there was no shortage of magic.

Do you grow up bowling?
I’ve been connected to bowling as long as I can remember. The couple in the photo was on a team in “The Twilight Twirlers”, the Tuesday night league my mom and dad bowled in for something like 20 years.  When my dad became ill my brother and I became fixtures in the league covering for dad when he couldn’t bowl.  Pete and Marie, when they travel, they bring their bowling balls and they bowl basically everywhere they go. I understand taking your passion with you but traveling for bowling always just sort of stood out to me as a little unexpected but rad at the same time.

The traveling bowlers concept marinated in my head for several years, but not necessarily as a photo, it was just something that I thought of.  I’m not sure how to explain it, but I get these thoughts that are almost like recurring dreams.  They evolve over time, then every once in a while, one will turn into a photograph. This one did.

I knew for sure that I would shoot it at Country Club Bowl in San Rafael, Ca. After all, it was our home field and it had all the perfect elements, the neon sign, the 60’s “inexpensive modern” architecture, a big parking lot, and I knew the owners so since it was a personal project I might be able to pay the location fee with a bottle of someone’s favorite spirit.  Pete and Marie were the obvious choice for talent, they had the right look and even better the photo really was about THEM.  The only problem was that they drive a minivan with no style.  So the hunt was on for a big old Caddy or Lincoln, something from the late 60’s – mid 70’s was preferable.

Where did you get the car?
I got the green light from bowling alley (miraculously they had just finished redoing all the neon on the sign), and Pete and Marie were on board so I sent emails to a few art department friends to see if anyone had a line on the car I needed for my shot.  Literally the next morning that Cadillac roll up my street, so of course I followed it.  The owner was super stoked to let us photograph the car he had just finished restoring.  His mom was the original owner.

What type of work have been doing lately? did it build from this most recent shot?
I don’t care if it’s a personal shoot or a big ad shoot, when you throw the right energy at it, you get magic.  “Bowlers” is on the long list of magical shoots. Since that bowlers shot, I have done several senior lifestyle shoots for a variety of clients ranging from pharmaceuticals to senior living communities and banking.  The first senior shoot I was hired for after the bowlers shoot was a direct result of having shared the bowlers shot, in fact, the client used the bowlers image in selling their concepts to the client.  It’s been a few years now and I’ve been shooting for that client 2-3 times a year.

 


Has your personal work ever translated into paid work?

Yes, about 10 years ago. An Art Producer that I used to work with a bunch loved a personal project I did which was portraits of people with wandering eyes.  Her agency (Cutwater) was pitching LensCrafters. They wanted to create a book of portraits of people doing different things with glasses I think the ta line was “What will you do with them.”  Jen Worth, the Art Producer presented my Wandering Eye series to the Creative Director, Joe Kayser.  He liked the work, subject matter / concept / style and he asked Jen if she could get me in to shoot each of the employees at the agency with glasses and create a treatment for the body of work that would make it stand out. They got the business and eventually hired me to shoot portraits which were used in all of the LensCrafters stores as in print ads, direct mail and web advertising.  My personal project led to helping the agency win new business which led to a fun portrait project used in a national campaign.

What advice would you give your younger self as a photographer?
I would commend my younger self for starting a list of creative ideas for photography and other media.  Then I would tell me to execute those ideas faster and more often, and most importantly I would tell me to make sure to share the results with the world regularly.  I’m telling my older self the same thing.

The Daily Edit – The Rotarian: Ian Curcio

- - The Daily Edit

The Rotarian


Art Director: Jennifer Moody
Photographer:
Ian Curcio


Heidi: What is the Rotary?

Ian: Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves. They have a magazine call The Rotarian

Who assigns this work to you?
I’ve been working with Rotarian Magazine art director Jennifer Moody on these assignments. I just finished another one photographing Sarah Parcak, the Space Archeologist, for the March issue.

Who was the subject and what was the event?
Kiran, a Type A British-born Sikh, is president of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, TN. ISC is a nonprofit that has hosted its annual National Storytelling Festival for more than 35 years. With a population of 6000, the oldest town in Tennessee, now known as the Storytelling Capital of the World, brings in visitors from all over the world every year, doubling the population during the festival.

What direction did the magazine provide?
The creative direction was very specific; Jennifer wanted to make sure Kiran wore the same outfit and that we captured him with a variety of different expressions against white. With that direction, I started to explore Kiran’s personality.

Did you have to direct Kiran?
Kiran was a ball of energy from the very start. He was excited about the shoot and fully engaged. It didn’t take long to realize that I was interacting with was the same Kiran everyone interacts with. His personality doesn’t change based on his environment or the company he’s mixing with. He is unapologetically himself.

Where was this shot?
The shoot took place at The Storytelling Center Theatre. Afterward, we went across the street for lunch. Not much conversation there, though. Kiran knows everyone, and everyone wants a minute of his time.  It seems to me that the juxtaposition between the Type A individual and the Type B town is a perfect balance for Kiran.

 

The Daily Edit: The Group

- - The Daily Edit

Nick Nacca

David Zaitz

Dana Hursey

Ali Donzé

Tracy+David

The Group

Heidi: Why did you choose to form this?
The Group: It has become harder and harder for individual photographers to secure a book showing at advertising agencies. We’ve banded together a diverse group of photographers in order to efficiently meet with agencies where solo shooters might have more difficulty securing a show. Art producers and creatives have very limited time, so this is a way to meet several artists at once.

Does one of you act as the agent or is it a shared responsibility?
There is no agent. Each of us are independent photographers and we work together to build name recognition for the group, and to prepare for and plan our group showings. We do have a coordinator that does our outreach, books our showings and acts as the point person for agency communications. We don’t book jobs through the group or have a point person working in an agent’s capacity of estimating, negotiating, or marketing any of us individually – that’s up to each of us separately.

Does everyone travel or one photographer travels and brings all the books?
We feel it is important to meet with creatives directly. These days it is about building relationships and each member is committed to doing just that, bringing a personal touch and a true sense of artistic collaboration to everything we do. Consequently we all try to attend every showing.

Do you have to apply to join?
The Group really is a democratic collaborative. We as a group definitely vet each potential member to ensure that they are like minded and of a certain caliber so as to keep the quality of work at the highest level.

What are the requirements to be involved?
Each member must contribute in an equitable fashion, both financially as well as with tasks. Each member is forthcoming in their strengths and weaknesses and everyone is quick to take on duties that speak to their strengths.

Why this over an agent?

We’ve often heard that creatives like to meet the artist they will be working with. Artists are able to create a more personal connection to their work and also verbalize their process and workflow on a deeper level than an agent might. Also with group showings, individual creatives can get more personalized attention while reviewing a portfolio, than with a single agent showing multiple books.

 

The Daily Edit: Chris Arnade

- - The Daily Edit


Dignity

Photographer: Chris Arnade


Heidi: Tell us why you choose to shoot digital despite having a penchant for film?
Chris: Like many photographers I prefer the look of film. It is what I grew up with and how I learned, so I transitioned to digital late and without a lot of love. Yet for what I ended up doing, taking pictures of people struggling, it ended up being necessary. Digital allowed me to immedietly show people their pictures, and should they not like them, allowed me to delete them. Few of the people I photograph ever have any control over how they are seen or viewed. Allowing them to look at my pictures of them, and then delete the ones they don’t like, gave them a little bit more control over the process.

You had an early interest in cameras, then it halted, what reignited your interest?
I stopped taking pictures when it became hard to get film developed (2000-ish?). Until then I kept a few old fully manual cameras around, each with a different type of film in them, and would shoot whatever interested me.When it became hard to get the film developed as the industry transitioned to digital, I just kinda gave up. Also it was nice (as any photographer who has quit for awhile will tell you) to not feel pressure to “capture the moment” That changed when I started going on longer walks into areas I had not been before. I had always spent my free time going on very very long walks (20 miles sometimes) through NYC, but mostly it was Manhattan. Around 2006 I started walking more in Brooklyn, Queens, and what I saw there, and the people I met and the stories they told, got me interested in taking pictures again. Initially it was just a cheap point and shoot digital, but eventually I got so into it that I bought a high end 35MM camera

How did you come up with front row/ back row? or what that already a term?
I came up with that term after roughly four years of documenting frustrated communities. Initially that meant spending time in South Bronx & Queens & poor other mostly urban neighborhoods in the North East (Bridgeport CT, Providence RI, etc). Eventually I included poor rural communities in Ohio, West Virginia, and Texas. What I realized was despite the differences, despites some being rural, some urban, some mostly African-american or Hispanic, or White, all had many things in common.  Not just physical things, but in the challenges the residents faced, and how they responded, and how they viewed the world. Also, almost all of these communities where filled with people who hadn’t gotten a lot of education beyond High School. That was very different from the communities I had spent the prior twenty five years of my life in, and where my family lived. Those communities, while spread all over the country, were similar in that almost everyone had an advanced education. The split I was seeing in the country was as much, if not  more, about education than anything else.

How does your previous Wall Street Job of analysis work transcend into this visual analysis and does one inform the other?
While I am proud my book uses no statistics, which can only dehumanize the problem, I did spend a lot of time looking at maps, statistics, and data when I chose where do go. I wanted to give a realistic and balanced look at poverty in America, so I went to places that in aggregate reflected the statistics on poverty. By race, geography, and community size. In that sense, my prior Wall Street work was useful. Mostly however, this project was about unlearning so much I had learned on Wall Street. How to look beyond those statistics to see the individuals impacted.

Describe your drift from the trading floor to taking photos only, what changed within you?
I wish I had a simple answer to this, but I just don’t.  As my career on Wall Street progressed I became more and more frustrated with it and how we thought, and found my interest drifting towards other things, like my hobbies (photography & walking) and my family. I stopped spending the extra weekend in the office and spent that time going on extra long walks, or small trips with the family. It is those walks, ones that had no real point beyond seeing, talking, and photographing people, that I realized I was the happiest. Work, which I once enjoyed, became more and more a chore, and I focused less and less on

What has the past few years taught you about yourself?
I hope humility. Many of us in the front row feel we have all the answers, and one of the things I tried to express in my book is we probably don’t. Which is why I didn’t include any solutions in the book. I realize I have a long way though before I can really claim to have learned true humility.

What would you tell your younger self?
Don’t listen so much to gatekeepers. Those people in industries (Photography, journalism, business) who try and define what and how something can be done. There is less gatekeeping in things like Physics or Math, but they are there also. Be more confident when you think the status quo is wrong.

How difficult was it to arrive in a neighborhood with no camera and just be, try to fit in? and what myth or misconception revealed itself?
For me it has never really been a problem. My general rule is be confident without being arrogant. Don’t cause problems. You are a visitor and that means respecting how things are done, and to do that you have to figure out first how things are done. That means watching and listening, not questioning and rocking the boat. I realize being a kinda large white guy makes it easier for me. I think the biggest myth is it is hard to get people to talk. Often it is the opposite. It is hard to get them to stop talking!

Why is the backrow easier or different from the front row since you vacillate between both?  you said at one point on our call the back row was less measured and simpler in a way
I think there is more forgiveness for failure, or for sins, or for mistakes. Partly this is a necessity. Most people in the very back row have had a life filled with problems, and have to be more forgiving of the mistakes of others. There is an understanding that life is tough and most people do their best to survive it. I also find that friendships and personal dealings feel more genuine, and less about seeing what someone else can do for you.

How does this freedom of toggling affect you? or does it make being in the row tolerable because you can leave it?
It is confusing and frustrating. I am firmly a member of the front row, there is no denying that. Most of my best friends are front row, and I enjoy their company. I also like much of what the front row likes. I love academics, I love reading obscure academic books. But I also don’t feel I fit in anymore, because I don’t necessarily share the values I used to have. I don’t fit in with the back row either, simply because that isn’t who I am anymore, despite having grown up surrounded by it. So it is frustrating

Why did you stop working and start taking photographs?
I started taking pictures again, more seriously, around 2009 and eventually left my full time banking job mid 2012

Tell us about your next project and how you chose those locations?
I have two projects in mind. One is a continuation of the Dignity project, but with more in depth interviews and less of my voice. Over the last seven years I have briefly visited places that stay in my mind, that I can’t shake. I want to go back to those places and spend two weeks in each, talking to whoever.

The other project is on global slums. I spent a month recently in Jakarta, just walking around the poorer parts of the town, without a camera. Roughly 1/5 of the world lives in these ad hock self organized poor neighborhoods (slums, or barrios, or whatever derisive term), in mega-cities we never really talk about. Like Calcutta, or La Paz, or Jakarta, or Dhakka, or so many others

 

 

The Daily Edit – NFLPA: Dominic DiSaia

- - The Daily Edit

Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs

Nick Bosa, Kansas City 49ers

NFLPA


Photographer: Dominic DiSaia

Heidi: How long have you been shooting the for the NFLPA? (National Football League Players Association)
Dominic: For the last 4 years I have been shooting the incoming class of NFL rookies for the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association).  This entails me photographing over 40 professional athletes over a two day period.

How long to do you have each player?
I have each player for about 5-10 minutes total so there is a challenge to connect with them quickly and successfully accomplish our shot list which includes many variations in two different lighting setups.

What tools do you rely on to make a fast connection?
To help achieve this I always do some research on the individual players and try to find something interesting to ask them about, play their favorite music, or any other technique that will quickly engage them.  This quick connection is very important on these days as these players schedules are packed with meetings and obligations so it is easy for them to be mentally fatigued.  I thrive on the challenge to connect with my subjects in a short period of time despite the fact that they all have very different personalities and their comfort in front of the camera can vary greatly.

How are these images used?
The NLFPA uses the images from our shoot as a catalog of assets they can make available to corporate sponsors throughout the NFL season.

Tell us about these two portraits.
Two of the players shot this season for this project will be in the Super Bowl on February 2nd and played major roles in their teams success this year.  Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers and Mecole Hardman of the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Daily Edit – New York Times- The Neediest Case: Ellen Silverman

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New York Times: The Neediest Cases Fund

Editor: Lisa Dalsimer
Photographer: Ellen Silverman

 

Heidi:What was the genesis of the column?
Ellen: In 1911 on Christmas day Alfred S Ochs the publisher of The New York Times was out walking after Christmas dinner when he encountered a man who had just had been served a Christmas dinner at the YMCA but had no place to sleep.  Ochs determined that he was a respectable man who was just down on his luck, he gave him a few dollars and told him to come see him about a job.  That encounter led to the establishment of the Neediest Cases Fund.  The next year he sent reporters to social service agencies to gather the stories of 100 people in need. Their stories were published and readers were asked to make donations to help them.  That first year of 1912 the fund raised $3600. Since then the fund has raised over $300 million dollars.  Today, The Times works with seven social service agencies in the city to identify those in need. From October through January the stories are published in a weekly column. The Times continues to manage the investment and distribution of the money to the agencies.  Other cities were inspired by Ochs idea and have set up similar funds.

How did this job come about?
When Kim Gougenheim, the Food Editor at The New York Times first looked at my website she responded to the reportage work and asked if I would like to shoot restaurant reviews for the food section. These assignments have become a favorite job.  They require me to go to an unknown location armed with a shot list and quickly figure out what, where, and how to shoot. The challenge of the unknown, and working by myself is energizing. After working with both Kim and her assistant Lisa Dalsimer for the past year and a half I invited them both to get together for a coffee. These days, so often we are assigned projects via email and submit the work without meeting the people we are working with, a rather anonymous process. I thought that after working together for the past 18 months it would be nice to actually meet each other. Eventually the conversation moved away from food and on to other topics. Lisa mentioned that she was also an assigning editor for The Neediest Cases column. This is a column that my very civic minded mother read to us when we were children and that I have continued to read.  Coincidentally, that morning I had read a profile in The Neediest Cases column that I was touched by and thought would make an interesting short doc. Lisa said she would be happy to put me in touch with the journalist who wrote that piece.   She thought my work was well suited for this column and asked if I would like to shoot one of the profiles.  This was all very serendipitous, as I have been moving my work in the direction of shooting people. This was the perfect assignment.

What drew you to that column as a reader?
As I mentioned, my mother read this column to my sister and I when we were children. I grew up sharing her deep care and curiosity about people. As a result, I never shy away from an opportunity to engage in a conversation with a stranger. Reading this column is like having a one-way conversation. This assignment gave me the opportunity to actually be involved in the conversation through the medium of photography.

How long did you spend with the subject and tell me about the interaction?
The morning of the shoot I met Julio at 7 am outside of his home in the Bronx.  His openness, obvious warmth, and winning smile immediately drew me in. Julio shared bits of his story with me, pointing out the first apartment he lived in when he was put into foster care at the age of 13. He explained that he was moved from his family home on the lower east side to the Bronx. As we were walking the sun started to rise. I was drawn to the strong morning light and began to shoot.  We took the subway together to his office in Times Square where he works at Ernst and Young, one of the largest professional services companies, continuing to shoot along the way.  During our conversation I learned that Julio is a passionate Salsa and Bachata dancer. Although he did not end up dancing for me I continued shooting him, choosing places where the late fall setting sun created strong swaths of light, a natural dramatic backdrop.  In between shooting we continued to speak about his life, passions, and goals.  It was a pleasure to spend those few hours photographing Julio, a young man who has faced more adversity in his life than most of us can begin to imagine.  His tremendous inner strength and focus has taught him how to turn his disadvantages into advantages. Julio is laser focused on achieving his goal of becoming a CPA, exploring the world, and living a life that he creates and shapes just as he would like it to be.  Being chosen as a Times Neediest Cases recipient allowed him to move out of the 1 bedroom apartment he was sharing with his aunt and 7 other family members. He moved into an apartment around the corner with a cousin where he now has his own bedroom, allowing him to shut the door of his room and quietly study for his CPA exams.   Funds from the New York Times Neediest Cases helped him pay for his first month rent, utilities, and broker fees.

 What direction did you get from the NYT?
The direction from the Times was to meet Julio in front of his apartment at 7am on the morning of the shoot and to photograph him during his commute to work.

Why has your work evolved into portraiture?
I have spent most of my career as a photographer shooting food and still life.  In the last few years I have begun to shift my focus to people this started on one of my many trips to Cuba.  I had made a short documentary film about four elderly Cubans who had lived in their homes all of their lives. Our homes are a reflection of who we are. The idea was to explore the relationship between a person and their home, After the film I went back and began to shoot portraits of people in their homes – shooting both a portrait and an object or interior which could alternatively be seen also as a portrait.

Tell us about these portraits.
Two years ago at an event at a church to welcome immigrant children from Latin America who had been “ shipped” to NY from the border that summer, I met two pastors from The Church of Living Hope in East Harlem.  They told me that they wanted to open the church on 3 Fridays after Thanksgiving to neighborhood families for family holiday portraits. I had been looking for photography opportunities to work with organizations which had need of my skills.  Immediately I volunteered to photograph the holiday portraits.  It was both a challenging and rewarding experience.  Challenging because I had very little time with each family as we had a line out the door.  Although I would have chosen a different environment in which to shoot the families, I had to understand that what they wanted was a holiday themed portrait, which meant a tree was set up on the side of the makeshift set to set the mood.  What I had to do was let go of controlling the aesthetics and focus on the families.  The challenge was that in the few minutes with each family I had to make a connection, put them at ease, and take the picture.  I was very touched by the thankfulness and grace of each family.  This year I did this again in a shelter in East Harlem.  I have promised to go back before Mother’s Day to shoot portraits of the children for Mother’s Day gifts. We have a make-up stylists who is willing to come and do make-up for the moms while I shoot the children.  I hope to find a cosmetic company who sells products for Black and Hispanic women who would be willing to donate cosmetics.  Doing these projects satisfies my desire to use my talent to do community based work.  It has also shown me that after years of working in a studio shooting food and still life that I want to now shift my focus outward to people.  I hope to find more opportunities to work with non profits, NGOs or social service agencies who have a need for portrait and location photography to visually explain their mission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Daily Edit – Modern Huntsman IV: Dawn Huemann

- - The Daily Edit

 

Modern Huntsman

Tyler Sharp: Editor-in-Chief
Photographer: Dawn Huemann

Heidi: How many days were you with the Salmon Sisters and what was the biggest challenge to the shoot or what about the most inspiring moment?
Dawn: The biggest challenge overall was getting to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska where the weather is really sporadic and dramatic. It was a two day journey up to Dutch Harbor from the Bay Area and I stayed there with the Sisters for 4 full days, then journeyed home for 2 days. The day I flew into Dutch Harbor the air was still and calm and it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.  The Sisters were coming in on their boat to meet me but also because a huge storm was coming in and they needed to seek cover for a few days. They pushed their last day of fishing and I stayed in Dutch Harbor while they fished all night. We met up the next morning and I shot them unloading and selling all of the fish at sunrise.

By noon, the storm had come in and for two days we were stuck inside while sideways freezing rain and 40 MPH wind gusts beat at the boat. We couldn’t shoot a thing.  I was there for four days, but we only got to shoot for one and a half due to weather. It was tricky and took patience, a great attitude and tons of flexibility. These are the best kind of adventure shoots and really you just have to be ready for anything! In the end the storm gave us incredible light, so I was delighted!

How does your education in philosophy express itself in your work?
Philosophy has given me a really broad and creative foundation of thinking.  When you study philosophy you have to keep your mind open to all kinds of contradictory arguments and ways of life. There really isn’t a right or wrong – just theories, ideas and concepts. Philosophy taught me to think creatively and to be passionate about ideas. It also taught me a huge amount about inclusion and diversity of people and the way they think as well as the diversity as to how we were all raised and shaped. People in general are also just very interesting to me and I always want to learn about them!

How did your upbringing shape your eye or experience of the world?
One of my oldest memories is my father pulling over to the side of the road in our old 4×4 van at sunset, pulling his massive video camera and tripod out and shushing us little kids while he recorded the natural sounds and sights of the world and whatever beautiful sunset we had come across. Since my parents were travel filmmakers image making was just a part of our lives. Looking for beauty was unending and my father found it almost everywhere. Without even knowing it, he was training me since before I can remember.

As my parents made travel films they would tote us all over the world. I wasn’t raised with a religion and one of the first things I noticed traveling the world was how all these other humans in different cultures all had religions.  In the end, it was actually religious studies that landed me with my interest and later my degree in Philosophy. I was curious lifestyles, traditions and Gods. Now, as a photographer I travel meeting different people; I love connecting with them all equally no matter their race, religion, viewpoints or lifestyle. Also, I am comfortable, even happy,  in airports and on airplanes and that’s really been a big bonus from traveling so much as a kid.

Are you part of any female creative collectives? 
I am a part of the Luupe and I am a member of many private groups that meet both online and in person. When you find capable, strong women out there – you stick with them, keep in touch and work together over and over whether you are in a group with them or not. For me it’s really about finding your tribe and in such a male dominated industry us ladies stick together pretty well.

Did you pitch Modern Huntsman or did they choose you for this story?
After receiving the publication for the past year I became obsessed with it. I resonated with the beautiful photography and inspirational story telling and really wanted to be a part of it. I sent a few printed mailers to the whole team and wrote personal notes as to how much I loved their work and would be just over the moon for a chance to work with them. Then I waited and crossed my fingers. Shortly thereafter, an amazing woman in my life who’s a writer, advocate, ecologist and the CEO of  Wylder Goods, Lindsey Davis made the connection on a hunting trip with Tyler Sharp who is the CEO and Editor in Chief of Modern Huntsman and one of the people I had sent the mailer to. As far as I know my name came up and Tyler remembered my mailer and Lindsey, who I had worked with on several occasions gave him the thumbs up on me. He contacted me and I pitched the Salmon Sisters (who I had worked with and met before and just adored) for the Women’s Issue.