The Daily Edit – Kate Powell

final composite

Kate Powell

Heidi: How many images did it take to composite this image?
Kate: The final composite is comprised of 29 separate photos, chosen from 1,500, and stitched together to create one seamless photograph.

How long did it take to capture those 29 moments?
Those 29 photos come from an entire day of shooting. The evening before, there were whispers of potentially epic conditions: “sand shaking Waimea,” a local friend told me. There was a lot of excited energy amid the community. I wanted to witness it—from beginning to end. My day began when the sky was still dark. By sunrise, the beach began to fill in with a crowd of onlookers. Soon after, the first surfer paddled out. There was no cheering, just the chatter of private conversations keeping track of the bobbing human. I claimed a stretch of guardrail along the highway and observed, camera at the ready. And there I stayed for 9 hours. By the time I left, the final few were exiting the surf and the sun was, once again, hugging the horizon.

How long have you been living in Oahu and what brought you there?
I have lived on Oahu for 8 months now. Prior to my move here, I was living and working on Catalina Island, employed as a marine science educator and scuba instructor with a company that provides hands-on marine science field trips for schools. When the pandemic was declared, we could no longer operate. It was devastating to be so abruptly uprooted from both my career and home of four years, but I am grateful to have stumbled across a silver lining. My move here was very serendipitous. Soon after leaving Catalina, a friend on Oahu reached out. I packed up what I had with me and landed on the North Shore. I was immediately drawn to the prospect of exploring a new marine ecosystem.

You picked up a camera at 13, studied marine ecology and became an educator, when did those two passions fully realize/intersect?
That particular convergence of passions has come to fruition in the last few years. The camera has held many roles in my life, but most recently it has become a tool that allows me the opportunity to encourage others to be curious about the natural world—particularly oceans. As a student of ecology, curiosity was my driving force. I chased great landscapes with my camera and questioned the interconnectedness of nature. As an educator, I saw students acknowledge their curiosity. I watched the smiles of kids as they played with algae or observed alien-like invertebrates. I made the transition into underwater photography here. I became comfortable in the ocean and, then, dedicated to it. All in all, I know this to be true: I have witnessed the impact of curiosity and it can be a powerful thing. This is what inspires my mission as a photographer.

The Waimea wave breaks 20+ footers consistently, what made this condition ideal?
It was a combination of good things: little to no wind, a long period of swell, impressive wave height, and a decent swell direction. Lots of factors aligned to create these conditions. Some people have called it the “swell of the decade.”

How big (or small) is the female photographer surf community?
We are out there, just not nearly in the same numbers. During peak season, it was always very inspiring to see a female photographer hop into the water with a surf housing. Often times, it seemed like most of the professional camera setups were operated by men. That being said, I felt very welcome.

Tell us about the backstory of the image from Modern Huntsman.
As it so happens, this image was also taken at Waimea—four months earlier. As I approached the water that summer’s day, there seemed to be a new rock formation in the shallows. Except, it moved: a massive school of young big-eye scad, I later learned, had made a home of the bay.

For weeks they meandered around together, mouths opened wide, sucking up plankton. In the beginning, the school was dense—a fluid wall of fish several feet thick. A dive into its center mostly obscured all sunlight. Eventually, though, the predators arrived. Mackerel tuna struck from below, barracuda from above. An endangered monk seal fed on scad for weeks. Humans, with their long-poles and dedication, fished from sunup to sundown. The population of scad slowly dwindled as nature ran its course. This photograph is from the beginning, from when the immense shadows of bait eclipsed the sun.

What are you working on now?
Currently, I am prepping for a 9-day diving expedition to the Revillagigedo Archipelago. These uninhabited islands protrude from the sea nearly 300 miles away from continental land, off of Baja Sur to be exact. The ecosystem out there is something to be admired. Born from volcanic activity at the convergence of some very productive currents, the region boasts incredible marine biodiversity. I will be continuing work on a photo series that I began over two years ago on my first trip out there.

The Daily Edit – Mike Borchard

Mike Borchard

Heidi: How long has the ocean been part of your life?
Mike: The ocean has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. The first house I lived in as a kid was only a couple hundred yards from the ocean, so pretty much from birth I was at the beach. I feel extremely blessed to have grown up in and around the sea.

How has your love for the ocean informed or influenced your photography?
My relationship with the ocean has influenced the direction of my photography significantly. In the past, I viewed my commercial photography work as a separate entity from my ocean and outdoor exploits, and I was almost hesitant to mix the two. I was putting too much energy into photographing whatever subjects and scenes I thought would get me hired. Over the past year or two, I’ve really leaned into my connection with the ocean and pushed my work in that direction, both in terms of subject matter and style. I’m in this for the long haul, and shooting subjects I’m passionate about and know intimately seems to me to be the best way I can build a sustainable career. Subject matter aside, I find myself gravitating stylistically to images that feel more raw and honest and have a certain untamed energy. That’s definitely inspiration I’ve taken from the sea. The ocean is no bullshit, no frills, just unapologetically itself to anyone and everyone who comes in contact with it. My goal is to be able to say the same about my work. I’m not there yet, but it’s an ongoing process.

What projects have you been working on lately?
I just wrapped up two projects that I shot during the pandemic free time. The first was a study of surfing through double exposure film photography using iterations of old Nikonos cameras, which were some of the first complete underwater camera systems invented in the 1960s. The second project is a series of portraits of strangers I made immediately after they exited the ocean, still dripping wet. Since then, I’ve been a bit busier with commercial work again. As far as upcoming personal projects, I’ll be working on my first motion piece this spring, which will feature a story about connection to the ocean and quite a bit of spearfishing as well.

How soon after the fish was speared did you take that image?

Probably around 10 minutes, which is the time it took to fight the fish back up to the surface after it was first speared.

Was there concern with the blood in the water (will that bring predators?)
The blood can attract predators, but it isn’t a huge immediate concern. These tuna schools are often feeding on large bait balls and are found in areas of the ocean where there is already above average animal activity and life. Sharks or other predators are more than likely already prowling these same areas whether we see them or not. You’re never on top of the food chain out there, but the blood definitely isn’t helping.

What led you to spearfishing?
I got into spearfishing one winter when the waves were terrible in California. It was flat for months and we couldn’t surf, so a buddy and I went and bought used 3-prong pole spears off Craigslist. We just decided to go for it and figure it out. That was years ago, but it took off pretty fast, and quickly became my favorite ocean pastime.

How long can you hold your breath?
Breathhold really depends on the activity you’re doing. For example, it’s much easier to hold your breath freediving than it is while being held down surfing in big waves, but much harder than if you were just floating face down in a pool. If I can spend a couple minutes underwater actively photographing or hunting I’m happy.

Was this personal work?
Yes this was personal work, if you can even call it that! I wasn’t working on a specific project or anything in particular when I shot this image, I was just out on a trip for fun and had brought my camera. I only picked up my camera twice that day and just took about 50 photos, but thankfully I was in the right spot to get this frame and it was selected as a category winner for Modern Huntsman.

The Daily Edit – Sofia Jaramillo

Sofia Jaramillo

Heidi: Tell us more about this portrait series and why it has been important?
Sofia: This image is from a photo story I shot for Stetson. This series is important to me because both myself and the model, Emilé Zynobia, wanted to create imagery that challenged the traditional notion of what a cowgirl is and who should be included in the narrative of the American West. Emile is a Jamaican-American cowgirl. She grew up riding horses and first learned to ride at Puzzle Creek Ranch in Wilson. Black cowboys are rarely included in the oral and written stories of the west. With these images, we want to rewrite that cultural script. 

How has your love for the outdoors grown and how have you used your photography to change the narrative about representation in the outdoors?
I grew up partially in a small mountain town called Ketchum, Idaho (a.k.a Sun Valley) with my dad. My parents split when I was very young. When I was with my dad, he would put me in various outdoor sports camps and teams while he was working. During the winters, I spent most of my days in Ketchum on Baldy Mountain with the Sun Valley ski team. In all of the outdoor sports I did, I always felt a little bit like an outsider. The population in Ketchum is mainly wealthy caucasian folx. Besides my dad, there were very few skiers of color that I saw on the ski hill. The people I looked up to in the ski industry were mainly white women and I just didn’t see myself in them or in my peers. The experience of growing up in Ketchum as a Latina inspires the direction of my work today.
I want to make the images I wished I had seen as a kid, to hopefully inspire and encourage BIPOC youth to get into outdoor sports.
There is more attention for representation in front of and behind the camera. How has the conversation progressed for you, I know you’re aligned with  Diversity Photo, Authority Collective and Women Photograph.
I am definitely seeing more representation in front of the camera, but I am not really seeing as much behind the camera. I have seen more inclusion in the photojournalism world, but definitely not in the outdoor industry. It feels like outdoor companies are pretty set on working with the same photographers they have worked with for a long time. That’s great to form lasting relationships, but if all of those relationships are with cis-gender white male photographers then there is a problem. By hiring who you are comfortable with, you are perpetuating the lack of diversity in the outdoor space and inhibiting the growth of BIPOC creatives in the outdoor space. If companies want to be inclusive in an authentic and non-tokenizing way, they need to form real relationships with BIPOC photographers and then hire them. Take a chance on BIPOC creatives. Believing is a form of supporting and uplifting. There is a reason there are not many BIPOC creatives at the same level as our counterparts and outdoor companies play a big role in that. If companies are working on a shoot with BIPOC models they should try their best to hire a BIPOC photographer. Our personal experience as BIPOC photographers allows us to bring an increased level of understanding to the models and a unique sense of comfort to a shoot with a BIPOC crew. 
Heraclio DeLaCruz moves sheep along U.S. Highway 97 near Blewett Pass, Wash. Shepherds are responsible for flocks of up to 1000 sheep.
Heraclio DeLaCruz moves sheep across a mountaintop in the Okanogan-Wentachee National Forest near Cle Elum, Wash. Each year between 2,000 and 3,000 H-2A migrant shepherds work in Washington, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, California and Oregon. Most of the shepherds are from Peru.
Heraclio DeLaCruz rests with his dogs in the Okanogan-Wentachee National Forest near Cle Elum, Wash.
Wildfire smoke fills the sky as Heraclio DeLaCruz moves his flock in the Okanogan-Wentachee National Forest near Cle Elum, Wash. Shepherds work with herding dogs to corral and find sheep.

You started out as a photojournalist at a newspaper, what project kicked off your solo career, and how did you approach it?
I worked on a project called PNW Sheepherders for about two years before transitioning to freelance and outdoor adventure photography. At the time I was working full-time at the Yakima-Herald Republic and I would spend all of my free time photographing the project. I would drive anywhere from 1-4 hours away after work or on the weekends to shoot the project.

The project documented the lives of Peruvian migrant sheepherders who produce wool in the mountains of the western United States. The men come to the United States on the H-2A visa. They work 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week taking care of their flocks of sheep for 2.5 years straight. After their visa is up, they return home to Peru for a short 3 month period to renew their visa and then come back to do the work all over again.
I was interested in this story because there is lots of sheepherding in Idaho. I grew up seeing the sheep in the hills where I mountain biked and always wondered about them. During this project, I took a lot of time to get to know the herders. I spent the first summer getting to know the seasonality and steps of the shepherding process, where they go in the spring, where they are in the summer and then when they return. By the second season, I had formed a trusting relationship with one of the herders. I ended up focusing on his story and spent the most time with him. I’d camp next to his trailer and walk for miles through the forest with him. Somedays, I didn’t even take a photo. This was the first project I worked on that made me realize I was not meant to be a staff photograph on a newspaper and that I needed to work on more projects on my own. It is what led me to love documentary photography and ultimately pushed me to pursue freelance work.
Photograph by Shannon Cors

What would you tell your younger self?
Make the work you love and trust it will take you where you are supposed to go. 
The sheepherding project was the work I loved and it led me to where I am today. Once I finished it was published in The New York Times and in Outdoor magazine.  I knew I had given it my all and I needed to transition to freelance and try outdoor adventure. I interned at the Jackson Hole News & Guide in 2014. While at that internship I got an assignment to photographer and climb The Grand Teton. That assignment had a lasting affect on me and I never forgot about how much I loved photographing outdoor sports. After PNW Sheepherders published, I knew it was time for me to take the leap into outdoor adventure photography. I decided to drop everything in Yakima and I moved back to Jackson Hole to work on my outdoor portfolio. That was in 2018.
I share the PNW Sheepherders project with clients to show them that my photography is more dynamic than just beautiful outdoor photos. I am here to tell stories and that is what I love to do.

What are you working on these days?
I am actually working on a lot of film projects nowadays. I am working on three ski movies this season. All are non-traditional ski films and have storytelling narratives to them. I felt I needed to switch things up and try out a new medium. I am really excited about film right now, but photography will always have my heart. 

What projects do you hope for in the future?
For my personal growth as a photographer, I want to focus on film and portraiture in the next few years. I’d like to create some movies that challenge the notion of what outdoor film should be and a few portrait series that I am proud of. Additionally, I’d like to work on large productions in the Tetons and get hired for more commercial photography work. 

In between all of that, I want to keep planting a garden every spring, throwing pottery in my free time and adventuring with my wonderful partner in the Tetons. 

The Daily Edit – The New Yorker: Brendan George Ko

The New Yorker

Photographer: Brendan George Ko
Read the Story Here

Heidi: Did you follow the entire migration path?
Brendan: We didn’t cover the entire migration path which starts off in and around the Great Lakes area between the Canada and US border and goes southbound till reaching the middle of Mexico. The monarch butterflies born in the north are the very butterflies that arrive in Mexico and it is their offspring return back to where their parents came from after 4-5 generations.

Was it difficult to capture both still and moving images?
It was a juggle the entire time as I was operating three cameras for the entire assignment. I had one camera for video, one for both stills and slow-motion video, and one film camera. My assistant and fixer helped carry my gear. Because we had restrictions on any additional lighting, whether it was constant or strobe, I was constantly moving around, carefully as there’s thousands of butterflies at my feet, in search of good light. Even setting up a tripod was a delicate procedure. For the entire time on location I was lost in the euphoria of being surrounded by all these butterflies and the frenzy of documenting it all in four different modes, on top of having to shoot vertical and horizontal. It was a lot!

What surprised you on this assignment?
On one day I had elevation sickness for the first in my life. The elevation of the biosphere is 10,000ft, which is the elevation of Haleakalā on my home island of Maui. In addition I was currently suffering from food poisoning, which seems like it would’ve taken away from the experience but it was mystic either way.

Elaborate on your mystical experience.
Mystic as in spiritual, I believe that some places invite one to experience them, to bear witness, and feel its mana (spiritual energy). Before I got to El Rosario I was wondering why of all places do the butterflies gather here, why fly thousands of kilometers to this one specific mountain and only rest on one specific species of tree that happens to be endemic to the region? It goes beyond the beauty of location, a circle of volcanoes and endless forest, it is a place without time and deep silence, for the nuns I encountered it was a religious experience.

Unpack the connection of place.
I made the connection because I am used to the elevation of El Rosario since Haleakalā on my home island is just as high, and I had hiked, camped, and star gazed there countless times. So suddenly to get elevation sickness for the first time I get it while experiencing this most sublime event in nature, I found humor in.

What did you learn about yourself watching the butterflies?
Because of our exclusive access we were able to go to areas closed off to the public. It was still early in the morning and the butterflies hadn’t woken up yet. Our guides motioned to us to be silent as we tiptoed around the thousands of butterflies on the ground. The little morning light we had was dimly reduced by thick foliage on the oyamel firs all around us. It wasn’t until we were absolutely surrounded that I noticed the thick foliage was actually millions of butterflies all resting and waiting for the sun to warm their wings. I immediately forgot about my sickness and went to work. The lead monarch butterfly researcher, Eduardo, picked up one of the grounded butterflies, cupped it in his hands and placed it next to his month. As he blew, the warmth of his breath activated the monarch and like a magic trick the butterfly flew away.

Can you share a little about creating those stunning videos? 
In terms of framing: Once we had access to a place we move as the butterflies moved. Because we weren’t allowed to make noise, we would wave and signal to each other where the butterflies were taking flight in the masses. I would drop my bag to shoot something then ten minutes later I would be down the hill at a completely new scene with whatever I had on me. It felt like covering a war of the butterflies and I was Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now with five cameras around my neck and constantly calculating how to document something. I wanted to convey what it is like to experience this event, I wanted that magic and its detail to be carried in the images.

Did you wear special clothing? I interviewed Ami Vital and she wore a panda outfit on a project.
I wore a giant butterfly outfit, just kidding. The mornings were cold and the mid-days were hot, so I had shorts in my bag, I’d start off the day with a hoodie and raincoat, and strip off layers. I had my trusty travel backpack and a large hip bag on me for easy access. I wore sneakers to tiptoe easily.

What did you learn about yourself watching the butterflies, did they land on you?
They landed on all of us and even on my gear. At the end of the day I would close my eyes and see the pattern of thousands of butterflies flying all around me, and the sound of all their fluttering wings echoed in my mind.

How long were you in on location?
We were in Mexico for a week. We landed in Mexico City, where we met up with our Fixer, Hector, and the rep from WWF Latin American, Monica and drove out to Zitacuaro where we were stationed and each day we drove out to various places surrounding the biosphere. Neither I nor my assistant spoke Spanish, so there were a lot of good conversations we missed out on.

The Daily Edit – Natasha Cunningham

Natasha Cunningham

Heidi: Where does your love of digital collage come from?

Natasha: My passion for digital collage evolved with the growth of my ‘A Portrait a Day series’. I’ve worked in Advertising for the past decade and overtime did a lot of image compositing for local Ad campaigns and wanted to explore it outside of the corporate setting and more on the storytelling side of things.

You are in the hundreds by now,  tell us about “Portrait a Day” 

Yes, I am now at Day 130. It’s been a slow and steady journey. I started the Instagram series to combat my creative block at the time. The aim was to post a portrait-focused design everyday highlighting creative people who’s work inspired me. It was purely experimental, fun and consistent in the beginning. Overtime I became less consistent with posting daily, however, I’ve had the opportunity to work on some amazing pieces that highlight topics that focus on the black community globally.

What have you learned about yourself?

This series has allowed me to create artwork from the perspective of telling stories and I’ve discovered that I’m equally passionate about Visual Art (storytelling) as much as I am about Graphic Design (problem-solving).

Are you also taking portraits as well as designing?

I do take portraits with my iPhone if the need arises. However, I mostly rely on the expertise of photographers.

What was it about the Patagonia project that spoke to you?

The experience of the enslaved people through the lens of wildlife biology isn’t something that I ever thought would be interesting. It is not merely a different perspective, but an untapped investigation that adds to the understanding of the history of black people in America. It makes you think, ‘who was really the King or Queen of the Wild Frontier’?

The Daily Edit – Eric Fisher

Photographer: Eric Fisher

Heidi: How does nature inform your life?
Eric: Nature plays a huge role in my life. I spend a large percentage of my time outdoors and it helps make me who I am. My love for the outdoors started at a young age on fishing trips with my dad. My love of nature helped spur my passion for photography: I wanted to memorialize the experiences. I have now traveled all over the world not just for photography and fishing, but also to hike, camp, ski and so many other activities I have learned to love over the years. I have maintained friendships through these travels, and met new people. In today’s world, I think it’s easy to lose our connection to nature. When I go for a long period without being in the field, I start to feel like something is missing.

Have you become more patient?
Growing up as an avid fisherman, patience is the key to success. So I have always considered myself patient (although my girlfriend and mom might not agree with that statement). But as my career in photography has progressed, my patience has been tested more than I ever thought possible. I have spent countless hours lying in ditches, streams, snow and mud at both frigid and scorching hot temperatures. I have spent days trying to photograph an animal without ever even seeing it. And as I’ve honed my craft, I am constantly striving for more creative and unique images, which requires more time, effort, and of course patience.

You had a significant career shift, when did you know it was the right time to change your life?
Eric: In my previous career I worked in finance for an investment management company. I enjoyed the job but also felt a constant pull toward the outdoors and wildlife photography. I happened upon an ad for a fishing guide position for a remote unnamed lodge in Alaska, and the description seemed all too familiar to me. A few months prior, I visited a lodge in Alaska with some friends. I had the time of my life fishing for salmon and photographing brown bears. I reached out to the owner’s son, who I had come to know well at the lodge during my trip. He confirmed the position, and I knew I had to pursue it. After a relatively short phone interview, he told me to, “Come on up for the season and we’ll see how it goes.” I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. My first season up in Alaska changed my life. Guiding allowed me to share my passions for fishing and photography with others, and every day is an amazing experience.

Tell us the backstory about this image with the bear and salmon.
I work as a fly fishing and brown bear viewing guide in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska each summer. The peak time to watch the bears fishing lasts only a few weeks every August. On one rare night off, I knew I wanted to utilize that time to hopefully photograph some bears catching salmon. With a storm approaching over the Cook Inlet and daylight fading, I knew I didn’t have a lot of time. When I got to the river mouth, I found one of my favorite bears, “Sniper,” fishing. We called him Sniper because he was infamous for stealing fish from defenseless cubs. He also happened to be pretty good at catching his own fish, so I was happy to find him. The bears all have unique fishing techniques. Sniper typically sits patiently in the water waiting for a fish to splash. Once the fish gives away its location, he’s off and running through the water to catch it. It didn’t take long for a few salmon to break the water and Sniper was off. He came up empty on his first few attempts. Eventually, I saw a fish splash right in front of me. Sniper did too. He sprinted after it, the once serene river now in chaos as the salmon swam for its life. Within seconds Sniper covered nearly 40 yards and was on the salmon’s tail. He dove head first into the water.  From behind the camera, I hoped this attempt was a success. All the elements of a great shot were aligned, I just needed Sniper to get the salmon. The water cleared, and Sniper emerged with a fresh salmon between his teeth. The salmon released her eggs into the river as a last ditch effort to procreate. As he turned and walked directly towards me, I held down the camera’s trigger. Sniper kept walking my direction with his eyes locked on mine. Unbothered by my presence and focused on his dinner, he plopped down about 15 feet in front of where I was lying to eat. In a matter of minutes the 5 pound salmon was devoured. As he got up and walked back to the river, I took a quick peek at the photos and knew I had gotten the shot I had always imagined.

Are you taking images alone out the great outdoors?
When I’m not guiding, I usually find myself taking images alone. I don’t have many friends who are willing to do the same hike twice just to capture the best possible light, or to lay in the snow waiting for a moose to stand up. Its fine with me though, I actually prefer to be alone when I’m out photographing. It allows me to connect more with nature and I overall feel more relaxed and creative.

Have you had any encounters that were magical and frightening?
I’ve had a few encounters that got my blood pumping. Most of those instances have involved bears running out from the woods when I’m fishing. None of them have been threatening, just a bear thinking the fish I have is an easy meal. It still is nerve wracking though to be surprised by a 500 pound bear running through the water directly at you. I was also bluff charged by a moose a few years ago when it thought I was a rival bull. It stopped after a few yards, and I happily took the hint and moved on. The most magical encounter I’ve had happened my first year guiding in Alaska. Late one evening, I was on the beach heading back to the lodge with another guide, Megan. The sun had just set and the water was perfectly calm. As we cruised along in the ATV we noticed a wolf watching us from a sandy bank above the high tide line. We immediately turned off the ATV and slowly sat down in the sand. The wolf didn’t seem threatened by our presence; he simply sat there watching us.  Curiosity took over after mere minutes, and it trotted down to check us out. It slowly circled us, each time getting a little closer. My heart was beating so fast I could feel it pounding in my chest. When it was no more than 20 feet away it plopped down in the sand and continued to stare back at us. Neither of us moved a muscle. We didn’t want to frighten the wolf and end the experience. When I thought it couldn’t get any better, the wolf picked up a stick and started to play with it. It tossed it in the air just like my neighbors golden retriever would do in the backyard. After 20 minutes the wolf must have gotten bored with us and it walked away, disappearing into the tall grass.

Time is the one thing that we all share and most of us wish we had more of. I always try to make the most of my time and overall that leads me to have a pace of life that I would consider as “full”. I want to experience as much as I can and try to spend each day like it could be my last. When it comes to capturing certain photos, the normal time of everyday life essentially comes to a halt. I’ll spend countless hours waiting in the field in order to capture the photo I’ve imagined. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What spoke to you about this image?
Most of my favorite photos start off as ideas in my head and are then followed by a lot of time, effort, and a little bit of luck to capture them. I had been guiding in Alaska for three years prior to capturing this photo, so this specific image has been haunting me for a long time. I’ve captured a few that were close but there were always one or two elements that were missing, like lack of eye contact with the bear. I chose this photo for the Field Outrider contest because it finally checked all the boxes for the image I had imagined in my head.  A bear with a freshly caught salmon, walking directly towards me in some great light.


The Daily Edit – Jay Kolsch

Photographer: Jay Kolsch

Heidi: Tell us the backstory of that shoot.
Jay: I had just wrapped up a string of jobs that really sapped the spirit out of me. I was rinsed and needed a change, personal work has always been a safe place to throw myself when I felt creatively stunted. I was talking with a good buddy over some beers when he started recalling some pretty gnarly trips sledding through Canada, that was the initial spark. I love jumping head first into a world I don’t know much about and dog sledding was exactly that. Christine Walsh, a fantastic photo editor I work closely with steered me toward Kristy and Anna Berington. January in Knik, Alaska is no joke. For several days we photographed the sisters in sub zero temps using only the SUV as shelter.

How has the outdoors informed your work?
I received some really great advice early on in my career “make sure you’re passionate about what you choose to spend your time photographing”. At the time, that directly translated into “stop shooting those beauty tests you clearly hate”. We’re always told to find a way to monetize our hobbies but I was very hesitant to bring my camera with me on long weekends hiking or on climbing trips, I didn’t want to mix work and pleasure and possibly infect my love for outdoor recreation. I was wrong though, the outdoors became such an incredible frame to hold the stories of people living amazing lives and accomplishing wildly difficult goals. That has become the core of my work.

You have work in and out of the studio, do you find it hard to transition?
Actually, I’m truly at home in the studio. Before I started photographing for myself I spent several years as a first assistant running crews, assisting and lighting for other photographers. I’d spend every day making gear lists, loading trucks, creating light, problem solving… This comfort level with the space and the equipment allows me to have a smoother transition between the spontaneous work I do on location and the more planned execution of ideas in the studio. I do hope to do more work in the studio though. After spending so many years trapped on white cycs it was necessary to put some distance between me and c-stands but I have recently started to feel the pull towards designed light again.

What are you working on these days?
I didn’t do much in 2020, January through March where whirlwind months spent traveling the country and working but by mid March all of my holds had dissolved. I spent much of the year grieving the loss of my ego and realizing just how much of my self worth I had tied to jobs and photography. Mostly I felt stupid. When work finally came knocking, I made sure I  spoke up when clients asked me to put myself or others in danger and I bent over backwards for the clients who treated me like family. Recently I have found a massive creative partner in FILSON and have spent the last few months working on some truly exciting projects around the country.

What the been rewarding about your work lately?
That it’s evolving. I’m not the photographer I was three years ago and I’m certain I’ll continue to change in the future. The work of being a photographer isn’t making photographs, it’s having the courage to continue to push for something better. It’s a process and that’s what you’re seeing me go through. I started out in fashion and ended up photographing twin sisters prepping to feed their iditarod dogsled team in -23 degree weather.

The Daily Edit – Field Outrider: Morgan Irons

Photo by Ronan Donavon

“After the Storms”

Miron husband and wife to the hillside

Irons Braid

Field Outrider:
Art Illustration Finalist/Modern Huntsman Field Outrider Contest
Morgan Irons

Heidi: I know you are self taught, when did you first start painting?
Morgan: I started painting five years ago. I was 23 years old and had moved to Bozeman, Montana that year. I grew up in Idaho without much access to galleries or artists, so it wasn’t until I started meeting them here in Bozeman that I realized it was an option. I quickly left my ‘real job’ at the hospital and devoted everything to learning how to paint. I did this mostly by looking at master paintings closely (via the internet and books in a rural cabin in Montana), studying the history of art, and cataloging the ones that I was drawn to. That catalog became my North Star, and narrowed my focus to the type of art I wanted to create. I’ve made many bad paintings over the last five years, but have had enough moments of ‘I might be onto something’ that I keep trying.

How does the pace of painting transcend into your life?
I am a very slow painter. There are no shortcuts to the type of painting I do. It requires a lot of drying time, and many layers of paint. Because of this, my time in the studio is important to me to be able to create enough paintings to meet show demands. My lifestyle is built around protecting that, I live rurally and prioritize time alone. Technology is sparse up here, and can feel disconnecting when I spend a good amount of time working with my hands on creating an object in real life.

Why did you submit that particular painting to the contest?
The painting I submitted is a family history painting, of a great uncle that ranches sheep in Idaho. They lost a herd of 50 to a lightning strike on the high desert plain. In the painting I feel a sense of stewardship, of care and responsibility over the animals. I think that question is asked often in stories told by Modern Huntsman, “What is our responsibility?”.

What are you working on these days?
I am working on works for my next solo show in June at Old Main Gallery in Bozeman, as well as a grouping of new works for Sugarlift Gallery in NYC. I am trying to balance giving myself time to explore and be curious, while still meeting deadlines. I have a few large scale works that I’ve been tinkering with for many months now, which has been a very enjoyable way to work.

What inspires you?
 I think mostly I look to old master painters for what they were trying to convey, stories that we keep telling each other. As a figurative painter, I like to think a lot about archetypes, what each figure represents, what does this agrarian landscape represent in these changing times, what are the eternal truths here? Visually I get a lot of inspiration from a mediation process I use, visualizing the scenes I have created and wondering what might I see around the corner…etc.

When you do your figurative work, what is your process?
When I compose a new painting, I will have a general idea in my head and  on paper, large shapes, then go out into the field with model(s). We will spend time arranging that scene, collaborating together on new ideas, and taking lots of photos and video. In my ideal world, when weather and model cooperation permits, I also get time on site to do little painting studies of color notes specifically. Then I take all of this reference back to the studio, take parts of scenes and put them together on a usually imagined landscape. I look for specifics of posture of the figure, universality of their shape and archetype, expression, etc., and arrange things specifically to be most effective and efficient for the human eye and brain. This is one of my favorite parts of the process.


The Daily Edit – Lindsey Ross

Lindsey Ross

Heidi: Who pours your plates?
Lindsey: My mentor told me he was the only one who had the “wingspan” to pour and develop a plate that size.  And people sometimes ask me if an assistant pours the plates for me.  No, I pour and develop the plates. Actually, I look forward to the day when someone pours my plates and I can focus more on directing the shoot.  But for now, yes, as a 5 foot 4 inch woman I pour the 32x24in plates.I mention this to underscore that physical stature is not an absolute for pouring plates.  I think it is more about balance than it is about wingspan.  Furthermore, I don’t think just because you pour your own plate by yourself it makes your work more legitimate than those who do not.  Perhaps, I won’t always pour my own plates and it won’t make me less of a collodion artist for it.

add the credit here

Photo by Andrew Schoenberger/Bimarian Films

Lindsey Ross, the Alchemistress, using a mammoth camera in Grand Teton National Park. the mammoth camera is a custom built 32x24in Chamonix view camera. It is sixty pounds (an upgrade from her 20×24 inch levy process camera from the 1920’s which was 200 lbs). Photo courtesy of  Bradly J. Boner/Jackson Hole News & Guide

Photo courtesy of  Bradly J. Boner/Jackson Hole News & Guide

When did you start the landscapes of the mining ruins?
In June 2016 I had started taking 20x24in landscapes of mining ruins in Telluride, CO.  This particular photo was taken up at the Tomboy Mine.  This mining ghost town was bustling in the 1880’s with a population of about 1,000 people. The town sits at 11,500 feet high above Telluride.  I started photographing the mining ruins because the landscape and mountains are so dramatic and grand and I was drawn to the mining ruins. They were shiny, like jewels adorning the mountainside. And despite being 140 year old and existing in a harsh environment, the ruins were really well-preserved.

This was all a part of a body of work of high altitude mining ruins for an exhibition with my friend and artist R. Nelson Parrish in September in Santa Barbara.  After shooting mining ruins near Telluride I wanted to shoot some mining ruins in California.  The highest altitude mining ghost town I could find was Cerro Gordo which sits at 7,000 ft above Death Valley.

How are you getting all your gear to these high altitude locations?
I was given permission to shoot at Cerro Gordo, which is several miles up a steep, windy canyon road with sharp cliffy drop offs.  I was driving my 1992 F-250 truck with all of my equipment in the bed, scouting locations to take ambrotypes at Cerro Gordo.  On my way down the canyon I started gaining speed and tried to slow down.  I realized my breaks stopped working.  I pulled the emergency break and that was not working either.  I gained more speed and realized I didn’t have my seatbelt on as I barrelled over rocks and lifted off the drivers seat.  Careening down the road I realized that I might have to bail out of my vehicle if I could not stop since the road was winding so much.  I came around a tight turn and saw a gravel pile and drove right into it.  The gravel pile stopped my truck.

Tell us about the perfect diagonal crack.
I was safe but shaken.  Some pieces of my equipment had fallen out of my truck, several sheets of glass stashed behind the passenger seat had shattered.  The plate from Tomboy Mine which was behind the passenger seat was broken in a perfect diagonal.

How did you get the gear to the location after you totalled your truck?
My friend who was assisting me, Macy Pryor and Telluride local, came to pick me up.  I had totalled my truck.  We still shot up at the mine with the help of some locals who hauled my equipment.
Nymph images in the trees (ongoing)
This body of work started with an accidental photo when I was on a weekend trip with some of my friends.  Coincidentally I brought my photo equipment on the trip and set it up.  And the shot just happened.  A big part of my work is about my physical labor and struggle to make it.  I have always felt struggle was necessary for me to make work.  And the first Nymph photo happened kind of effortlessly – a feeling that was new for me in my work and something I felt I should follow.   It also marks a point in my career (Spring 2017) when I was ready to depart reality due to the overt racism and sexism that was revealing itself in our culture and politics.
How did your Budapest residency come about?
This work was made as a part of my artist residency with Budapest Art Factory in April and May 2019.  I learned about the residency when I went to one of John Chiara’s exhibitions at Yossi Milo in September 2018.  I inquired with the Art Factory about the residency, applied and was accepted.

The Daily Edit – The New York Times: Erinn Springer

The New York Times: How to Survive Winter

Photographer: Erinn Springer
Producers: Produced by Gray Beltran, Clinton Cargill, and Heather Casey

Heidi: Did the images for this come from your archive or from your Dormant Seasons?
Erinn: All of the images were shot specifically for this article. It was very exciting to get this assignment because I’ve been shooting winter in Wisconsin for the last few years (which is how my series Dormant Seasons came about) so, How We Survive Winter felt like a natural progression.

If they were photographed for the text, what was the direction?
The brief was very poetic and open. The editor and I had spoken on the phone about the feeling of winter and the solstice being the longest night of the year in a year that has been metaphorically darker than most. I wanted the result to be representative of my home and my experience growing up in such a cold place like northern Wisconsin, that in actuality is filled with so much life.

Did you travel home to Wisconsin to photograph any of these images?
Luckily, I was already in Wisconsin for some other projects, so I just extended my stay. The timing couldn’t have been better! I generally split my time between Wisconsin and Brooklyn and I’m usually on the road quite a bit, but the pandemic has allowed me to spend more time at home. I’ve been able to focus on (and actually start) projects I’ve twirled around for a long time. The people and landscape here haven’t changed a whole lot since I was a kid, so I feel like I’m playing catch-up for all the years I didn’t have a camera in my hands growing up. These projects are an investigation of my origins and archive of what will eventually be the memories of where I was raised.

How much time passed in making these images? Were they all shot on the solstice?
I shot for a couple hours ~almost~ everyday for about two weeks. I tried to think of all the places and situations I could put myself in to get the best photos for the narrative I was building. There was an element of surprise because I was working in tandem with photographer Devin Yalkin, but hadn’t seen any of his images until the story was published. I was so curious to see how our images would be edited together. The pairings of our work really made the story come to life.

“Look for the smallest bit of beauty around you,” Dr. Safi explained. “That very much resonates today, at a time where it seems like the mega-systems are all broken or falling apart, to return your gaze to the small.”

The simplest solutions are always the most magical. And all the magic you need is ~probably~ in your backyard. That’s sort of the case for me and realizing rural Wisconsin is my most rewarding subject.

During these times what has kept your creative seeds ready for spring?
I’ve always been a planner and daydreamer for all the seasons. This year, of course, I hope that spring brings the renewed life we’ve all been waiting for, but I think it’s helpful to focus on the present. I tend to feel that acting in the ‘now,’ while setting the pieces and daydreaming of tomorrow (of spring), is the most advantageous. I honestly find so much joy in every season and look forward to each for various reasons. I think growing up in Wisconsin has something to do with that :).

*For more images, please see this carousel of outtakes.

The Daily Edit – Mel D. Cole: Washington D.C. January 6, 2021

Hip Hop Work

Badu 6.20.13 Drake & Trey Songz London 2017Drake Sade London 2017Kanye at Fools Gold Anniversary Party BK Bowl 10.24.10

Mel D. Cole

Photography + Directing and Collaborations

Charcoal Pitch F.C.  Mel D. Cole founded the first Black owned sports photography agency dedicated to creatively exploring soccer/football.

Heidi: In the forward to GREAT, Questlove symbolizes you with THE ROOTS.  “I’ve heard music compared to many things. Some say it’s a game. Some say it’s hell. I say it’s a war. Photographers are correspondents in this war documenting every battle. Every step of the way.  The invading Beatles had Harry Benson. Jenny’s Lens was the West Coast Punk scene’s eye. Run DMC & The Beastie Boys had Ricky Powell and the Roots had Mel D. Cole— or should I say Mel D. Cole had us?” – Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson

Mel: Yeah that obviously is HUGE! Questlove has been a big part of the reason I am where I am in my career. Without him I might be in a different place.

You have a history of documenting culture. This past week you documented a battle, what made this instance different for you?
It felt more like a war, an invasion. It was hostile, people died. That’s the major difference. That day was more life or death than any other day for me. 

You covered the BLM protests, obviously topics were very different this time. Describe any differences you experienced in terms of the crowds, the energies, your safety, etc..
As always most of my safety issues come from the cops. I have not had any major issues with members of BLM or pro Trump supporters. The major difference is what each side is fighting for. Both side passionately want their side to win!

How did you prepare for your own safety, was it adequate?
I came with goggles and a helmet. I left the helmet at the Trump rally. So to be honest I was not very prepared. But that won’t happen again. I ordered a gas mask and other items to make sure that I am ready for the next time.

Did you formulate your interview questions in advance? I noticed in all instances you were extremely polite using, please and sir. Was it difficult to stay calm in the chaos?
No I kinda wing it. I go with the flow. I know having good manners will take you places and using a calm tone in my voice lets the person know I mean them no harm at all.

Did you ever feel threatened?
Yes. It was very scary at times.

What would you like your peers and viewers to know about this experience?
That there’s a human behind every photo that I captured that day and they all have stories to tell. Right or wrong, there’s a story and it’s important for history’s sake to continue to tell those stories.

The Daily Edit – Athul Prasad

Athul Prasad

Heidi: What were you trying to express with this series?
Athul: I remember one morning listening to “On the Nature of Daylight” in the shower and feeling utterly broken and moved by that piece of music. This was in March 2020 and my mind was transporting itself into a series of what if’s – What if Achan (father) contracts Covid, What if Achan is no more, What if all this were to end soon, what if.. ? 

This series beyond anything for me is to remember Achan healthy, all smiles, in the midst of the century’s biggest human tragedy. His face, his routines, his day to day objects and relive our time in nostalgic excellence for a future time. 

How did this photo project inform your relationship with your father?
We were never close. There is a lot of gratitude and unspoken love, but we weren’t close. That is until the lockdown and what initially was planned as a two week escapade from the madness of Mumbai to my hometown of Trivandrum, Kerala turned out to be a six month lesson of living out of a bag and negotiating life and the relationship with my father. 

Over that time period, the photo project broke the ice between us, inspired him to start sharing his life story, being more loving on the outside – all new in our 24 year old relationship. What started as documentation stretched to long conversations and a deep level of comfort between us. We became close over the course of 2020. 

My biggest fear is of losing my parents. It’s a weird thing, two people that give birth, nurture you, teach you everything you know have to let go of their creation — who wants to fly away to pursue his/her own dreams. It’s a fine balance I have been trying to maintain since the last couple of years – managing my own ambitions as a travel photographer and the physical time I spend with my family. The lockdown came as a huge boon in some way. 

How long did it take for him to become engaged in the project?
The very first time, he was very annoyed and complained how this “thing” I was doing was wasting his time and that the food on the stove was getting burnt. I realised my mistake and decided to pick a more peaceful time in the afternoon, distant from all the morning chores to do another round of pictures. From then onwards, he’s been a sport! I don’t think he still knows why I do this – that all this stems from a fear of losing him. It’s hard to put it in words, not sure I can ever put it to him.

What did you look for in each moment?
To sum it up in one line – document daily elements that make up my father’s routine in a beautiful manner. I have always wanted to shoot film and thought this would be the perfect time to have a go at it- not let the screen come in between us and disrupt that moment. So I taped my camera with a huge block of paper – a DYI attempt to mimic film and also pay homage to Achan who took all our family pictures in a similar fashion. 

Where was the best light?
Noon, when the sun was right up! My favourite spot at home is close to the stairs which has a glass ceiling with slits that create beautiful shadows. Close to 12PM the light would just dance on this spot. Apart from that, the best time of the day was any time I saw a photo op and made the dash for it. Being a travel photographer, I am open to working with any kind of light that the sun gods are kind to provide. 

Why did you refrain from taking images of your family until now?
I’m not sure why exactly. The camera has always been associated with work and I try to disassociate from work consciously in my personal time. I don’t even pack my camera when I come back home to Kerala to be with my parents. The focus has always been to spend time with them, be in the present moment. That approach is definitely changing internally after this project. I am planning to do a short documentary of both my parents, when Amma (mother) comes back home after a year of being stranded in Australia amidst lockdown. 

You were formerly on staff at Conde Nast Traveler in India, how did that editorial experience shape your eye?
Massively! My visual vocabulary originated from the photo desks of Conde Nast Traveler India,and in particular heavily influenced by the former Art Director at the magazine – Himanshu Lakhwani who put so much time and effort into informing me the difference between what looks good and bad and taught me how to piece images together to tell a story. I have so much gratitude for my time at CNT and to the whole team. 

Is it difficult to edit your own work?
Not really! Being a photo editor in the past, I quite enjoy the process. But it always helps to have time on your side. The more time you spend with the work, the more it makes sense, and you see connections. I would love to try somebody else edit my work, to see how that would look like. It could bring a new dimension in the narrative for sure. 

What was the direction from Masque for this forage project?
Open brief! They gave me complete freedom to photography like an editorial travel feature. Documenting the location, the food, interaction between the head chef Pratek Sadhu and the locals, the roadtrip amongst the mountains — whatever I could weave in to tell the beautiful story of these chefs travelling to the farthest mountains in this country to source ingredients to prepare in their tasting menu restaurant back in Mumbai. 

Do you have a process you relay for longer narrative arc travel stories?
I think when it comes to travel stories – it’s important to show variety. Not just show how pretty the place looks in terms of the landscape but also to show the life of it in terms of people, the food, the architecture, any wonderful moments that inspire somebody else to visit the place. If the reaction to a travel story is, damn I want to go here and experience this – then that would be a success. The words create such a huge impact in addition to the images – always helps to have a fabulous writer to flesh out the words. Otherwise the photographs just tend to exist in vacuum without context. 

Where does your love of photographing food come from?
The love of photographing food comes from the love of food, which comes from all the lovely meals Amma made while I was growing up. More than anything, the passion that chefs put in to create gorgeous plates of food that pack not only copious amounts of flavour, but also look like art, inspires me to photograph food and specifically restaurants. I love shooting restaurants and the life in it. 


The Daily Edit – Drew Smith

Robbie Phillips working out the moves on “The Corner” 5.14+ (8c/+?) – Pitch 15 with Ian Cooper belaying.
Ivar Van Der Stijl killing time in the rain while waiting for the wall to dry, Helvetestind. Norway
Pete Whittaker leading pitch 18, 5.10c, on the South Face of Mount Watkins VI 5.13b, 19 pitches. Yosemite, CA.
robbie phillips does some bench pressing to stay fit while in cochamo and ian cooper gives him a spot. la junta camping, cochamo valley, chile.
Rainy rest day with Ivar Van Der Stijl relaxing at the climbers hut at the base of baugen, norway.
Eric Bissell and Jane Jackson hang out on long ledge a few pitches short of topping out the Salathe Wall 5.13 b/c on El Capitan.

Drew Smith photographed by Dylan Gordon

Photograph by Dylan Gordon

Drew Smith

Heidi: You’ve been able to align with brands that celebrate your truth and core values, how did that develop?
Drew: Working with brands that align with my core values started from friendships first. Those friendships eventually led to various opportunities and work relationships. Knowing who stands behind the brand is a good sign of what the company values. It’s just as much about the people involved as it is about the brand and I will always put that first when it comes to companies that I choose to work with.
What would you have told your younger self about brand work?
I would tell myself to align with brands that appreciate me as much as I do them. The journey to success might take longer but will be more of an enriched path.
How did your work with Patagonia shape you?
Over the years, Patagonia has given me the opportunity to continue to live my life and simply document it along the way. They value authenticity and encourage photographers to capture those real moments, so if anything, working with Patagonia has encouraged me to hold on to what feels honest and true to myself. I’ve also built a lot of confidence working with the editors who I’ve built relationships with. Those relationships have provided a path where I constantly grow as a photographer due to genuine conversations and feedback about my work.

How have you been navigating life interrupted this year?
Usually, I travel internationally for expeditions and shoots throughout the year, but this year I’ve shifted to keeping things closer to home. I’ve been spending more time shooting product and doing more commercial photography: taking advantage of this time to invest in different realms of this art form. In a lot of ways, shooting on expeditions is easy for me – it’s what I’m comfortable with and the inspiration comes easily. I know this time, strengthening other skills, will only help me to become more well-rounded and a better photographer overall. I’ve also been spending more time exploring closer to home. I’ve spent the past year around Montana, Wyoming, and Utah, going to places off the beaten path in my own backyard. It amazes me how fast humans adapt and how the new norm can shift with the blink of an eye.

Covid left us all wanting to help those in need, how did that manifest for you?
When Covid first hit, I felt a mix of depression and helplessness with a conviction to do something. People were getting laid off left and right. Families and businesses were suffering and still are. In many ways, I was largely unaffected and covid enlightened the disparity of people’s experiences living in the same country. Right away there was a high demand for masks for people in the healthcare industry. I felt that making masks was one small thing I could do to help. My girlfriend and I learned how to sew and made masks from scrap fabric I had at the house. We donated the masks through a program where they got distributed to local organizations in need. It wasn’t much, but I could see how the cumulative effect of small actions could be a powerful force for support and change.

Rhiannon Klee sewing mask. Salt Lake City. Lock Down.

This year has been pretty awful, share some stoke about your close to home adventures.
I spent most of the summer in my home state of Montana exploring new areas with my girlfriend. We did a ton of adventure climbing, where no other climbers were venturing, and enjoyed the solitude. We also spent time finding hot springs and waterfalls on rest days. It was a meaningful experience to reconnect with the place I grew up in.

You’ve been on the road for 15 years, 3 best lessons from that experience?
1. The most valuable part of being on the road is getting to interact with a wide range of people because it’s an opportunity to have a better understanding of those that differ from you. My experience on the road has not been limited to climbing trips. I’ve worked in construction, wilderness therapy, search and rescue (just to name a few). I’m grateful for all I’ve absorbed from those different experiences. You carry that stuff with you and it becomes a part of who you are.
2. In a weird way, not having security has made me feel secure. being less rooted, I’m more comfortable not having a plan and more comfortable with change.
3. In our world of consumerism, people are constantly buying stuff. Being on the road, you really can’t have much and so you realize that you don’t need much. For years I only owned what I could fit in my vehicle and it’s been a good reminder throughout my life.

I know you’re committed to creating meaningful and honest images, what’s the key ingredient?
Connecting with authenticity. Finding those moments that feel real, when people are being themselves. When people are comfortable and doing what they love, that’s when you’ll catch genuine moments. I also think the more genuine and honest I am as the photographer, the more people give back that same level of authenticity: real gets real.

You’re living life fully and your parents support you with the power of love, how do you balance risk and love?
I factor the people that I love into my decision making when it comes to risk. In all of my years of climbing, I’ve developed an understanding of my abilities and I try to approach risk that is in line with my skill level. I think my parents have taught me a lot about the relationship between love and risk. They not only support me out of love, but they support me because they want me to be who I am, which to me is the greatest form of love.

You were recently featured in Firestone Walker, how did that inform your creative process after that project? You were in front of the lens this time.
I think being behind the lens, as well and in front of it, is an important part of any creative process. After seeing what was captured and chosen with the angels and compositions, it made me even more aware of the differences in perspectives. How I see myself might be different than how others see me since they are bringing their own narratives into it. It’s more collaborative than you might realize. My family said the film captured who I was and that made me proud because that’s how I want people to see me, (in a genuine way)

Tell us about Kyrgyzstan.
Last winter, two friends and I traveled around Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. We drove 3,000 miles around remote areas in search of new ice lines. It was a personal trip with no professional agenda and it connected me to the origin of why I started taking photos in the first place. I felt fully immersed in the experience without pressure and found myself wanting to capture it all: from the people we met, to the broke down van that barely got us around, and of course the remote ice lines. I was taking photos constantly. It was a good reminder that you don’t need a big mountain or a solid plan to have a good adventure.

The Daily Edit – Sports Illustrated: Jeffery Salter

Sports Illustrated

Director of Photography: Marguerite Schropp Lucarelii
Photo Editor: Abby Nicolas
Photographer: Jeffery Salter

Heidi: You’ve been a long time contributor to SI, what made this project different?
Jeffery: I have always received commissions from Sports Illustrated for assignments which involved trust.  That’s creative images that require me to establish that trust very quickly with the professional athlete. When I was on staff at the magazine my beat was hang out with the athlete at home, in the barbershop or even in the nightclub to capture their life off the field.  Now I do covers for the magazine which involve a concept, mood and energy.

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
This feature “Total Athlete” also was about trust.  The players were willing to discard the uniform and gear to display their physiques.  They trusted that I would make them look powerful.  It was an honor and a challenge. Normally I bring in a lot of lights, modifiers, effects and even a haze machine to help bring on the drama.  I was asked to keep the images poetic and strong.  I still used a lot of gear….tho!  But controlled them so they simply built layers of shadow and highlights to create texture and drama.  More Chiaroscuro and less snap, crackle pop!It was a rare opportunity to show what’s the force or engine underneath the athletes uniform.  A snapshot to capture the strength in a frozen moment.

How did covid affect your production or creative process?
Having a COVID safe production was and is top of mind when working on set with an top athlete or even being commissioned to do a small portrait of mom and pop business owner.   For this set – it was mainly one trusted photo assistant who also is strict about maintaining social distance – off the set and on set.  I used a longish lens to do the portraits to keep my distance – which wasn’t problem because the athletes – Derrick Henry and Caeleb Dressel are huge. Since it was more of a collaboration being me and the athlete I did let them take a look at the laptop – I would stand six feet away – so they could spot check their form

Why black and white?
We wanted to keep the focus on the muscles – sinewy and powerful – combined with perfect form.   Black and white combined with light and shadow allowed us to create images which helped us achieve both of those goals.




The Daily Edit – The Free Republic of California: Cole Sternberg

untied, 2020, acrylic and pigment print on etching paper, an amendment to the El Segundo beachfront.

the ratification of the paris agreement, 2020, ink and pigment print on etching paper
a glorious marriage, 2020, acrylic and watercolor print on paper.
the brightest, crispiest, roughest looking clouds, 2020, pigment print on etching paper.
a grand ramble, 2019, mixed media on linen.
the douglas is nearly allied to the red squirrel, 2019, mixed media on linen.
into the recess of the echoing mountains, where they seem to be welcomed home, 2019, mixed media on linen.

The Free Republic of California 

Artist: Cole Sternberg

Heidi: When did your complex relationship with nature present itself?
Cole: I’m not sure there’s a clear moment that it presented itself. At some point the gaze to the sea, to the sky and to the trees merged with my creative desires and pragmatism. I wanted to make pieces that subtly referenced humankind’s erasure of our environment, as well as, the ethereal patterning of nature itself. That subtlety remains today, but there are also louder statements emerging as I see the time to rescue ourselves slipping away.

How do you find hope considering CA has had a consistently difficult water and fire season?
Hope is simply a necessity in continuing forward, continuing to fight. I see the fires as a reason to work harder, which helps in avoiding the despair of such horrific destruction.

Nature of Breathing in Salt: That was a study in marco/micro experiences, marco of the sea, mirco of the shipping vessel; how did that isolation of the vessel impact your creative process?
Existing on this floating island, surrounded by the infinite sea, greatly impacted my practice. Being stuck on a rocking ship unable to communicate with the outside world for weeks was stressful but also freeing. As a storm would pass and we would walk on the deck at sunrise, the feeling of the crisp wind and the sight of the bent horizon were incomparable. The paintings, photography and film I made on this journey took on that feeling not just conceptually, but also physically. For example, I left paintings out in the wind and rain, dragged them in the sea and dried them in the sun.

Had you worked with the elements before?
My practice had addressed the elements in the past, but never had the environment literally become the artist or controller of the work’s destiny.

Was each piece a creative surprise to you, did you find freedom your lack of control?
Each piece certainly had elements of surprise. I never knew exactly how a mix of colors and layers would respond to a sixty-foot drop into ice cold waters, or how it would crack being whipped by the wind for days. I wouldn’t call it freedom, more simply excitement; an anticipatory joy in seeing the patterns of the earth emerge in different manners each time around.

How did you actually drag the work through the sea?
Just a rope, grommets and carabiners.

What did you discover about yourself as an artist?
I discovered that losing control can lead to the most amazing breakthroughs and that isolation can be the most productive of places for creative thought to blossom.

Did you find returning to the studio less dynamic, was it a hard transition?
Yes, I didn’t think I could ever reach that far again, nor paint anything as interesting. It took me nine months to start painting again.

How long had you been working on the vision for the Free Republic of California?
I think the vision for the Free Republic of California started when I was three-years-old and living in Richmond, Virginia. My parents sold me on a move to California by the mention of Disneyland and the singing of Diane Warwick’s song ‘Do you know the way to San Jose?’ which I repeated in nauseam. I had no idea that Disneyland was quite a drive from San Jose.

In adulthood, the idea percolated over the last two decades via interest, research and writing in the fields of law, sociology and political science, and solidified in the last two years as I prepared for the museum exhibition Freestate at ESMoA. During these two years, and especially in the isolation of the COVID times, I’ve been able to fine tune the concept, design the visuals, draft the constitution and budget, and build the surrounding conceptual infrastructure.

’their sounds never cease

How does photography come to life in your work?

I used a vintage photo of yosemite from the 1800s layered with a painting of mine. It is one of the works in my re-visualization of John Muir’s first book about California ‘My First Summer in the Sierra’

How do you free your mind from the real trappings of life to envision a new life?
I don’t think they can be separated, I find it necessary to analyze today to make it to tomorrow. The Free Republic is about these real trappings of life and how we can improve those situations.

Once you come back to reality, is it difficult to cope?
Reality is always there and yes it is difficult to cope with. It is hard to see the destruction and the ignorance, the lack of humanity, the yells of cowardly trolls and flat-earthers, the content overload diluting our minds into a collective haze of nothingness; all of it is hard to cope with, but we have to keep walking up the hill.

Exhibitions: exhibitions: Freestate: The Free Republic of California, ESMoA, El Segundo, ongoing until September 2021, Year One, Ojai Institute, Ojai, ongoing public and educational programming through October 2021, and Threads and Tensions: The Interconnected World, Yeo Workshop, Singapore, January-February 2021.

The Daily Edit – Texas Monthly: Shayan Asgharnia

Texas Monthly

Art Director: Victoria Milner
Shayan Asgharnia
Online Story here

Heidi: What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Shayan: It had been a dream of mine to shoot for my home state and legendary publication, Texas Monthly. Victoria Millner, their art director, emailed me to shoot this assignment, my first for TM. The references she sent from my own work were my portraits of David Crosby, Ed Harris, Billy Dee Williams and my father smoking a cigar and giving two fingers.

Victoria wanted detailed closeups of his iconic face with all the history and weathered grit that comes with it, but she also wanted environmental shots that truly displayed the vast spectrum of the man’s humanity. I love working with Victoria and Claire Hogan, Texas Monthly’s photo editor. They’re so clear with their vision and their understanding of the artist’s vision. Not a modicum of uncertainty to be found in working with them, and they’re kind Texans to boot.

He’s both intense and joyful, how did you bring both of the emotions out?
Danny is intense, but even before I started seeing him in photos with rescue dogs or his smiling face next to donuts and tacos, I knew he had a gentle, fun side thanks to his role as Uncle Machete in Spy Kids. In person, the man is joy and empathy personified; the scowl is more a part of the brand.

Knowing Danny’s love of dogs and prison reform, I arrived with a framed 17×22 print of one of my photos from my personal project, Rescued, a story on a program where rescue dogs live with and are trained by incarcerated men.

While shooting, we spoke at length about rescuing dogs, prison reform, his car collection and the Great State of Texas. He told me one of the funniest stories I’ve heard from one of his recent trips to Texas pre-COVID: while walking around 6th St. with a few of his assistants who also did time in the past, his assistants were getting heated up and wanting to fight with people flashing what they thought were gang signs. Danny laughed out loud and made the sign himself: the good ol’ University of Texas “Hook ’em.” As a Longhorn, I love seeing that image in my head.

After we wrapped the portraits of him, we went into his personal gym and photographed each of his dogs against seamless just for him to have, to immortalize them in a way. Photographing animals is my happy place, and the smile that comes across their humans’ faces makes it that much more wonderful. You want a moment of true happiness? Listen to Danny Trejo babytalk his pups and see the smile on his face as they’re being photographed.

Danny lived a colorful life, how much prep did you do prior to the job?
I don’t prep too much beyond a bit of research on subjects to find some common ground I share with the subject instead of just talking about their work. With Danny, this was simple. We’re both dog rescue people who also share a passion for prison and criminal justice reform. I’ve never been incarcerated, but I spent a few months documenting the Pawsitive Change program at California City Correctional Facility. I didn’t need much of an icebreaker beyond that.

In terms of technicality, I’m not the most technical photographer. I shoot a lot of studio work with strobes, but goddamn, I love working with natural light and merely shaping it with reflectors and negative fill when need be. I wanted the shoot to feel as little like a production as possible. When a shoot feels like a conversation between myself and the subject and we just happen to have a camera nearby, that’s the best.

What did you imagine his demeanor to be, and did that live up to your expectations?
I have a number of friends who have worked with Danny in some capacity throughout the years, and not a single one of them had anything but praise for the man. They were all right; the man is a true gem. As someone who’s been told many times that I look unapproachable and unfriendly until people actually meet me, I get it. I love breaking the barrier between my genetics and my personality.

Danny and myself at the end of our shoot


Describe the vibe on set.
The vibe on set was truly jovial and comfortable. This is one of the perks of being at the home of your subject, especially when your subject keeps it so damn real and lives deep in the Valley. Add cute, friendly dogs running around, and you’re solid. Every shoot should have dogs on hand. While we didn’t take more time than we needed, it felt like we could have continued to hang out beyond the shoot. Danny invited us to come watch fights in his backyard in the future, so let’s hope that offer stands.

Did you direct him or was he naturally falling into form in front of the camera?
My approach to directing a subject is fairly loose. I know the general idea of where I want them to be and how I want them to be, but beyond that, I like subjects to fall into themselves. I’m not trying to create a fantastical scene. I did ask him to bring out some of his cars, I did ask him to pose with his pups and have them all jump into the vehicle, and I did ask him to take off his shirt and bare those tattoos, but beyond that, we go with the flow. I’m more of a people person and a documentarian in my approach as a photographer, so when I’m trying to get something out of someone, I meet them where they are with their energy and emotions on the day. I pick up on these things quickly and adjust subtly enough so I don’t push a subject too far, or worse yet, not push far enough that I lose them. It’s all collaborative.

The Daily Edit – Manjari Sharma

Manjari Sharma

Heidi: How has your relationship with the work changed if at all since moving to the United States?
Manjari: It’s been an incredible journey, and one I wouldn’t change anything about. I came here to the USA at 21 and looking back I knew very little about the “history” of America. What I did know was I was going to make a lot of pictures, meet a lot of new people and ask a lot of questions. I wanted to grow and that curiosity led me across the globe. My relationship with my work over the years has become more intimate. I am more transparent with my practice and I think it’s because simplicity and complexity in equal parts are inextricably tied to aging. Time is certainly the best teacher. When I was younger things were more black and white and now I know there are multiple realities to most all stories. When I was younger I was honing my craft, and then I started telling my own stories. This is where my path changed, where the story became so important that it had to be told at any and all costs. It didn’t matter who was publishing the work or inviting it for a show. The work had its own preordained path and it had to be born.

As you gain distance, is it reinforcing something for you?
Gaining distance from that which we love is a double-edged sword. At twenty one I knew or cared very little about the duality of stepping away from my home and my family. The sense of adventure and the draw to pursue and carve my own unknown path was so strong, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am fortunate that my family supported my unbridled wishes. Over the years I have both learned and unlearned a great deal about both my Indian descent and my adopted American culture and they are bittersweet truths. What this distance or as Pico Iyer calls it the “Gift of exile” is that it has allowed me to do is make up a culture of my own; A hybrid identity that draws from both these incredible countries that I am fortunate to straddle.

What marked a pivotal time in your career here in the US?
2008-2013 I photographed a series titled The Shower Series. I invited people I didn’t know very well to take a shower in my shower as I photograph them. The premise was risque and clothes were optional. I photographed a plethora of people showering and ended up having these unexpectedly disarming conversations with them. The water became a conduit and almost every single time I photographed someone, I felt entrusted with a really personal story. I made audio recordings of the protagonists’ short stories with their consent of course, and they were so honest and beautiful. A shower is such a sacred space that our intimacy and the cleansing aspect of water turned the experience into a really meaningful connection. I won’t lie I felt like I fell in love with every one of my subjects. I also found myself quite consumed by the process of making this work. I was addicted to hearing these raw and vulnerable stories because they turned my subjects into these complex, powerful characters that had so much depth. Somewhere during these sessions, several portraits were taken; My lens got fogged, my toes got wet and the photograph became a reason to connect to something beyond. This series was a pivotal point in my practice because I realized the camera had become an extension of my personality. Meeting a new human being, learning who they are, what takes them down, what makes them tick, is was what brought me to another country. So much of that series was a discovery that the lesson I learned here was to pay attention and follow the lure of my unconscious mind.

Now that you have lived almost half of your life in India and half in the US when you created this work, which part of you did you relate to the most?
When I look at my work I see a pluralistic lens. I am guided by American inquiry but I assess my work from an inner core that is rooted in Indian culture. Many of these experiences of growing up in India I am present with on a daily basis, and then there are others that time has made opaque, yet, I know they are deeply embedded in my inner landscape. The best example of this might be like the lyrics of a Hindi song that I forgot I knew verbatim. As an artist never losing sight of this unknown murky middle ground that lies between the known and the unknown is probably my most challenging yet rewarding part. Mining that cerebral interlude for answers is what I derive my greatest satisfaction from.

Are you talking about the lyrics to a particular song, why do you think it resonated?
Recently I was at my friend’s house Sarita, and she played a Hindi song I hadn’t listened to for a really long time, maybe even decades, but I found myself knowing it word for word. My palette for music was a gift from my mother. I specifically remember moments when she shook her head and wiped her tears because the melody and lyrics of a song could move her so much. The songs that had meaning to her were played and overplayed in my home. I listened to Indian music on my mom’s Panasonic cassette player and she exposed me to such terrific names RD Burman, Naushad, Mohammed Rafi to name a few. Anyway, I’m digressing I am using this as an analogy to share that formative experiences from 21 years in Bombay are burned and embedded into my psyche. I’m shaped by these and so is my art.

How did the sari impact you as a young woman, and how does it impact you as an adult? What life lessons can be drawn from this complex piece of fabric, once properly tied? or not tied?
Fabric in general holds a lot of meaning for me. Indian customs, rituals, and relationships are symbolically represented by color, textiles, and knots in an immense way. The act of tying and untying has great relevance in Indian culture. A knot represents a promise. The act of who ties a knot between the bride and the groom at an Indian wedding for example has ancestral significance. As a young woman, the Saree to me was regarded as a garment that commanded respect. I remember staring at my mother when she draped herself in one. Wearing a saree was an occasion in itself and from that perspective, as a young woman, I romanticized it. Walking gracefully in a saree took practice and poise and an improperly tied saree was not only sloppy but dysfunctional. In that sense spending time with folding, pleating, and draping nine-yards of fabric was a meditation in its own right. As an adult, I look at it a bit more microscopically because as life would have had it my mother (a dementia patient) can no longer drape herself in a saree. Also as I examine India from a sexist lens, I look at the saree not just as a delicate decorative but also as a symbol of patriarchal control. I have a deep and spiritual admiration for this garment, but I also critique it as a modern Indian woman. I had a teacher in a college in Bombay and her name was Putul Sathe she was a counter-culture spitfire who imbued me with radical liberal thought. The saree is incredible and incredibly limiting and I wanted to address both those aspects in my series “How to wear a saree

What was the tipping point for your recent letter titled “Love Letter to America?”
George Floyd’s death in particular shook me to the bone. “Love letter to America” as you know weaves my own experiences into the fold but what began with “Talking Pictures” came to more honest fruition with Love Letter to America. You can read it here

“Talking Pictures” was influenced by the 2016 elections, so here we are 4 years later, how has this current landscape informed your work?
Talking Pictures was an assignment through The Metropolitan Museum of Art and a big subject of that commission became the growing life inside my body as I discovered that I was pregnant during the course of the assignment. However, the outcome of the election, and particularly Donald Trump’s win was something I had to address as part of my work. Trump’s win was the first time I found myself traveling to DC on a bus at 4 am to exercise my rights and protest against the disturbing political landscape of America. I understand that we are bipartisan as a country but I have known, befriended, and even loved many republican leaning Americans. However, Donald Trump represented an America that was at odds with everything I understood and respected about this country. I am brown, grew up in India, and over the years my understanding of racism and white supremacy has grown steadily but Trump’s America permitted behaviors I didn’t realize this country was capable of. This speaks to my privilege of course, but my art practice could no longer ignore that I needed to headlong address certain racist inequities that I now found myself shielding.

There is so much expression of life in the streets of India, are you drawn to mural work?
Yes public art was vivid in Mumbai and I certainly have a sense of belonging to it. With galleries and museums being shut down due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Public Art and the vitality it brings to communities is more important than ever. This mural, A cacophony of human hands rising like a wave, is also an extension of a recent piece I wrote “Love Letter to America”

What does it mean?
Sometimes we don’t see people for what they are, we see them for who “we think” they are. Are we programmed to misunderstand each other? Can we fight this programming? The purpose of the mural is to invite the viewer to examine and self-reflect on our racial lens and actions as a community.

I know you’re on the board of the organization Art Bridge, an initiative that helps early-career artists have a brilliant platform. Tell us about this piece “Simultaneous Contrast” pictured above, in a sketch and a comp.
Simultaneous contrast is a new body of work I’m only just beginning work on. Much like my series Darshan it is currently a sketch and is yet to be constructed. It is based on a phenomenon rooted in color theory. Simultaneous contrast is a term that refers to the influence of one color when in close proximity to another. The theory is that when placed side by side, one color can change how we perceive the tone and hue of another. In reality, the colors themselves never change, but in our recognition, we see them as altered. No normal eye, not even the most trained one can see color independently. This series is an exercise in challenging the framework of our consciousness. What does the color of our skin represent in society? What is our role in shaping the perception of colors around us? Simultaneous Contrast invites the viewer to examine the illusion of stereotypes, and question our role in altering the perceptions of implicit bias.

Artbridge has an auction up for about a week and people have the opportunity to grab amazing art. You can buy this piece from my series “Surface Tension” to support this incredible organization or browse some amazing other artists here. 

The Daily Edit – Ostroy NYC: Alex Ostroy

Ostroy NYC

Photographer + Illustrator: Alex Ostry

Heidi: How did this business come about, were you disappointed in the available products?
Alex: Cycling design has a beautiful tradition to draw on, but I always thought it lacked the wit, creativity, and subversive visual power of the D.I.Y. American art forms I grew with like Punk, Rap, and the East Village art scene. I think that’s what the people who respond to our brand like as well.

Unlike in the fashion world, most cycling sportswear companies are not started by designers, so design is often an afterthought. It’s just not integral to the process and consequently, it’s often hard to tell one company from the other. The norm in cycling is to talk about what factory made a kit. We are trying to change that and lead with design.

How did the name come about?
The Ostroy brand name is a bit misleading as a name because it was really Aaron Vecchio who came to me with the vision to make my cycling design work into a real company, so most of the success the business side has had is due to his tireless work. We have been lucky to work with many other talented, devoted people. I was just the one with a six-letter URL and a small following online so I get all the glory.

How does your love of cycling come through in the design, culture, and fabrics?
The brand started as a passion project, not just with the surface design but the cuts and fabrics. A cycling jersey is a very technical garment, much more than a baseball or soccer jersey. The tighter fit is very complicated and the modern hi-tech fabrics are amazing when they are used correctly. This process took years for us to develop and we really benefited from the tutelage of our Italian partners who have been designing, cutting, and sewing jerseys and bibs for generations.

How does your 3-D illustration work transcend into this project?
I’d like to think like any artist, all of my work and personal history are woven into what I’m doing now. I’d say the biggest difference is the work I do now is far more personal than the work I did for magazines and corporate clients years ago, and of course, it has lots more bikes.

Are you also shooting the images for the brand?
As the creative department I write the copy, take photos, design packing labels, posts, etc.

Are you doing daily sketches as a daily creative exercise?
I start everyday drawing, a bit like stretching or meditation, as a way to limber up my mind. Once and a while those drawings find their way to becoming jersey design, other times, event posters or and sometimes just a drawing I’ll post on our IG: OstroyNYC. We are a small company, so as the creative department I write the copy, take photos, design packing labels, posts, etc. I think our customers appreciate the handmade attention to detail in our brand.  One day I may miss that when we are a heartless giant sportswear conglomerate, and Im spending all day yelling at subordinates and signing my name to younger more talented designer’s work.