This Week in Photography: Time to Party?

 

 

Cultures change.

 

Everything changes, as entropy is the natural state of the Universe.

 

Often, the major drivers of cultural change are technological, biological, or because of human migratory patterns.

The first is obvious, as inventions like the airplane, the automobile, and the internet radically altered the way people engage with society.

 

The second should be beyond-obvious, as the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 upended just about everything, with respect to the way life is experienced on Earth.

The last, though, is least understood, as far as when and why it happens, and is often reduced to terms like gentrification, when it’s on a small scale.

Big things like climate change, or war, can cause massive amounts of humans to move at once, as we saw in Europe a few years back, when people were fleeing places like Syria and Afghanistan, en masse.

On a micro-level, though, it’s often tied to economics, or what people perceive to be the hot, new thing.

I experienced gentrification first hand, back in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 2005, yet mostly denied the reality that I had been on the first wave of artsy-hipsters moving into an almost-entirely-Polish neighborhood in 2002.

By the time is was properly trendy, in ’05, I wanted no part of it, because if I’d planned to live around a bunch of people like me, I would have chosen Williamsburg, or the Lower East Side.

 

 

Right now, I’ve noticed the first hints of cultural change here in Taos, as we’ve seen thousands of new people move here, during the pandemic, for the wide open spaces, clean air, and relatively rich culture, for a micro-city. (Though I still insist the restaurants suck.)

I’ve had lots of discussions about this in the last few months, as we could see people had come here, with California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado license plates, altering traffic patterns, but it was hard to know for sure, as almost everyone was locked down.

And the Instagram-nature of life these days, where beauty is seen as a backdrop, with locations appreciated as something to stand in front of for a photo, plus the reality of remote work, meant that many-if-not-all of the new-comers have not assimilated into society yet.

 

 

What will that look like when they do, I’ve mused to anyone would would listen to my ranting?

Won’t the waves of Californians look around, notice Taos lacks a lot of the base-level things they’ve come to appreciate about life, and then decide to leave, or change things?

I’m no Nostradamus, but just yesterday, I saw my first evidence, as my son was invited into a free, youth basketball program, as no such thing existed.

Everywhere else, they have youth sports, but outside of soccer season, Taos was a barren desert.

Sure enough, the coach is from NorCal, and took it upon himself to start something up for the community, because he had a boy in that age-group, and there was no basketball to be had.

Things change, and sometimes for the better.

 

New York City is poised to have a party summer, so says the media, as America’s biggest megalopolis gets sweaty in the hot season, and people have been cooped up for So Damn Long.

Throw in the high rates of vaccination in the blue states, (relative to the red ones,) and it’s shaping up to be a rockin’ good time, with dancing in the streets, block parties galore, beer and weed on the stoops, and diverse people getting to talk to one another again, face to face.

But I’m guessing this will mostly happen in the outer boroughs, as who can afford to live in Manhattan anymore? (Unless the Covid-rent-drops stick around.)

 

Manhattan used to a borough in which people lived, worked, and celebrated, but over the years, it morphed into a culture for the mega-rich to keep investment homes, the worker bees to head to office towers, and the tourists to come in droves to shop.

The changes, in the form of gentrification, came when certain downtown neighborhoods turned from dangerous to chic, (like SoHo and Tribeca,) and the internet began broadcasting the NYC way of life to the rest of Earth.

So obviously it affected the city, with diners giving way to cafes, and night clubs becoming WeWork offices. (OK, so I skipped a step on that last one. But you get the point.)

Back in the day, before the advent of social media, people who wanted to know what was up had to stay up late, drink lots of alcohol, (or do some blow or X,) and then wait behind a velvet rope to get into a club, unless they were rich and/or famous.

That scent of exclusivity was intoxicating for the masses, as they really wanted to get into that room, where they could drink, dance, observe, talk, kiss, grind, look at art, revel in fashion, or perhaps embrace a persona that would be verboten back in Bay Ridge.

So much of that is gone now.

Unless…

 

Unless there were a photo book that captured the purity of that 90’s vibe: the mashup of drag queens, models, actors, wannabes, pretty people, and stylish regular folks.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could see all that, in front of our eyes, hold it in our hands, as if it were still alive today?

(You know where I’m going with this.)

There is such a book, and it arrived in my mailbox back in October, shortly before the Covid surge that killed half a million people, and rocked New York, America, and the world. (Sending lots of love to everyone in India right now.)

It’s called “In the Limelight: The Visual Ecstasy of NYC Nightlife in the 90’s,” by Steve Eichner, edited by Gabriel H. Sanchez, and published by Prestel in 2020.

Not sure why I never made the connection, when I glanced at the press release, but Steve is brothers with Billy Eichner, one of the funniest people alive, and a man whose entire existence would have been altered by the pandemic.

(I mean, have you seen “Billy on the Street,” in which he charges at strangers on the sidewalk, like a drunk bull, and screams absurdist, often genius, questions at them on camera?)

 

 

But we’re talking about Steve today, not Billy, and his book was a trip down memory lane for me, culturally, if not literally. (I did party once at Nell’s on 14th Street, in 1996, when I was working on “The Devil’s Advocate,” but it was a one-time thing.)

The photos show off the vibe, and are colorful and alive. The mise-en-scene is just right, because Steve Eichner was the house photographer for Peter Gatien’s club empire, including the Limelight, the Tunnel, Club USA and more.

Apparently, these slides sat in boxes in storage in Long Beach, Long Island, for decades, before being rescued, to give us a vision of what Party City NYC #2021 might look like, come July.

(But with different fashion, obv.)

So many bold faced names, including De Niro with Chazz Palminteri, Tupac, Madonna, RuPaul, Leo DiCaprio with Dennis Hopper, Grace Jones, Debbie Harry, Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, Chris Rock, Kris Kross, the Supermodels, Jim Jarmusch with Joe Strummer!, TLC, Don Knotts???, the Olsen Twins??????, Mickey Rourke, and more.

We get a shot of Mark Wahlberg and his “entourage,” and I swear, if you can’t tell which guy was Turtle, and which was E, you’re really not trying.

 

 

Of course, this being New York, we get a photograph of Donald Trump, with appropriate red-eye and red tie, holding his belt like the gunslinger he’d become 20 years later.

(Seriously. Fuck that guy.)

The introductions tell us that Peter Gatien got busted for tax evasion, like his Studio 54 predecessors, and was deported to Canada, his home country.

The rents got too high, the clubs closed, and that was that.

End of an era.

Like I said, cultures change, for good and for bad.

 

These days, if you want to know what a celebrity is wearing, you hit up Instagram.

 

 

If you want people to be jealous, you photograph yourself in front of a pretty, exclusive, or expensive backdrop.

(If it isn’t photographed, it didn’t happen.)

But in the 90’s, you had to be there, or you had to hope a good nightlife-photographer took your picture, and that at some point down the line, other people would see how fly you looked.

Who’s ready to party!

 

To purchase “In the Limelight” click here

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Shahzad Bhiwandiwala

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist:  Shahzad Bhiwandiwala

As an Indian, I have rarely seen Indian artists tackle what if scenarios relating to Indian Art and Cultural history.  My passion for art history coupled with my creative instincts has often made me wonder about India’s approach to fashion had it been influenced by the European Renaissance as it swept across the known world at the time. This project brings these thoughts and ideas to visualization and is presented through the perspective of a single fictional royal family, The Garhwal Gharana aka The House of Garhwal spanning generations from an alternate timeline 15th Century to the 21st century.

There are two distinct fashion styles in the project:

  • The first represents portraits styled in the fashion of an alternate timeline of the 15th century, where India is in the midst of its renaissance influenced by the High Renaissance period.
  • The second details portraits styled in the fashion of an alternate timeline of the year 2020 where society has gone back to its roots of clans and kingdoms while taking fashion cues from the previously established renaissance style and adds a modern take to it.

The project is focused on fine art fashion and portraiture using opulent traditional Indian clothing with a European aesthetic and has been a collaborative result with Indian designers, jewelers and stylists such as Gaurav Gupta, Dhruv Singh, Begada, Amani, Studio Simone, Akankshaa, Outhouse Jewelry & The Costume Team having come together in providing and creating outfits and accessories towards the project.

To see more of this project, click here.

 

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

 

The Best Way To Register Your Copyright

by Varun Ragupathi, Wonderful Machine

Yes, you own the actual copyright to your work when you create it, but you do not have the full protection of the law unless you register it. That one little [online form] from the copyright office will change your life.

This is how longtime director and photographer Michael Grecco sums up the process that ensures your photographs are protected. The first step is, of course, creating the imagery itself. But what’s also important is registering that work with the U.S. government’s copyright office to prevent outside parties from unjustly using your imagery. Your ability to defend yourself against an infringement depends on your timely registration of your copyright. Most photographers don’t realize that while they own the copyright to their photos the instant they’re made, it’s only by registering the copyright that they’re truly protected from infringement.

As with just about anything related to our government, the process by which you register your copyright is, to use Michael’s words, “deceptively complicated.” Across three detailed videos, Michael breaks down and simplifies the step-by-step guide to protecting your work, covering the “why” as well as the “how” regarding this vital action. Let’s take some time to highlight the key points of each video, all of which can be found below.

PART ONE: BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION

As a primer of sorts for this rather involved topic, Michael takes the time to explain the definition and importance of copyright registration. Here are some of the big takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Why the difference between having and not having your work copyrighted could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
  • Why you can earn up to $150,000 — plus legal fees — per image if you register your copyright before someone tries to steal it.
  • Why published and unpublished work needs to be registered separately and differently — and why every image registered at one time needs to come from the same year.
  • The number of images you can copyright per registration, and how much time you have between publication and registration to receive full protection for your published work.
  • How to determine if your work can be considered “published.”

PART TWO: REGISTERING YOUR UNPUBLISHED WORK ONLINE

In the second of his three videos, Michael sits down and goes through the actual process of registering your property on the U.S. Copyright Office’s website. This is where we get into the nitty-gritty of ensuring your work is protected by the law. The biggest thing to note here, other than how to navigate the online form, is that organized archiving is key. Make sure that all your files are grouped logically and labelled consistently — after all, you may very well be uploading hundreds of images at once, so it’s imperative you know where they are and why they go together.

PART THREE: REGISTERING YOUR PUBLISHED WORK ONLINE

While the process for registering your published work is quite similar to what you’d do for unpublished imagery, there are a few extra steps you need to take. Whereas unpublished work can be dated by the time it was created, published images must be labeled by when they were, well, published. If you did a shoot for a magazine in, say, July of 2019 but the issue featuring your work didn’t run until October 2019, you need to date your images with the latter month and year (the day of publication is irrelevant). Take a look at the video above to see the other differences between registering unpublished and published work; Michael’s also got some tips on how to best keep track of the images you upload to the copyright office’s website.

And that about covers one of the most important and necessary aspects of protecting your intellectual property. You busted your butt to not only create images, but also to earn a living from them, so complete this process regularly to ensure you get fully compensated for your work. Hopefully this seemingly daunting task becomes a little less scary once you hear from Michael!

For more information on the subject, check out Honore Brown’s how-to guide and chat with photographers on the subject.

Need help registering your copyright? Send Wonderful Machine an email with any questions or concerns!

The Daily Edit – Jason Thompson: Patagonia Journal

Anne Gilbert Chase on her first climbing expedition in Pakistan. A country with beautiful people and big mountains.
The experience was unique for Anne Gilbert, being 1 of 2 western women on the trip in a country that, for the most part, doesn’t treat women with much respect. The climbing aspect of the expedition was frustrating with weather that didn’t play nice. 30 days were spent in base camp to attempt Pumari Chhish off of the Hispar glacier. The team never had more than 1 -2 days of good weather. Six days were needed to attempt the unclimbed Pumari Chhish East.


Patagonia Catalog

Photographer: Jason Thompson

Heidi: How has your mountain guide experience informed your work?
Jason: I spent from 2005 until 2013 working for a mountain guiding service throughout the PNW, Alaska and a bit in South America. I used this opportunity to hone my knowledge of being in the mountains as safely as possible. I know I wanted to be a photographer but I also wanted to be an asset to any creative project in the mountains. Guiding taught me more about understanding empathy and supporting others emotionally and physically. When photographing, immersing myself in other cultures, viewing my experience through my lens, I try to put myself in my subject’s shoes and try to express the emotions that they are feeling. I search for an understanding of what it might be like, to be in their shoes at that moment in time. Practicing how to ask questions to aspiring climbers, I was able to work with, allowed the climbers and me to build trust with each other in the mountain environment. I met people in a space that was, most of the time, completely foreign and new to them while trying to provide an exceptional experience in the mountains. I could empathize with them when climbing North America’s highest mountain, Denali, 20,320ft. It is physically and mentally challenging. Teamwork and grit can achieve big goals. Risk/hazard assessment is an essential component of guiding. Some percentage of my work is performed in venues with hazards, avalanches, seracs, weather, etc My brain is on overdrive assessing factors of the hazards that I and along with the people I am working with exposing ourselves too. Mountains are not an inherently safe and tranquil space. I think there is this misnomer in American society that wilderness, mountains are this calming grounding space though they certainly can be, they are also savage and have the potential to cause emotional pain to us.

Guiding requires constant assessment, calculations, risk vs reward. Has your photo decision-making become more refined with this deliberate practice?
Yes, completely. First, I choose to accept the risk associated with making a shot, or not. In skiing, I might have a frame idea/angle that would put me in an exposed situation, i.e. on a slope steep enough to avalanche at the same time as the skier. Climbing is a little different, I feel like I have a more significant margin of safety using ropes and other technical gear. But there are still many hazards packed into alpine climbing in the mountains.  But anticipation, and an understanding of how the climber or skier will move in the terrain, helps me to compose something that meets the requirements of being safe and making a compelling creative visual. I find satisfaction in being able to anticipate when that next “moment” might happen. My creative approach is much more documentary or photojournalistic in style, and I think that is what I strive for in my work. At the same time, checking all the boxes of creativity, composition, anticipation, right moment, and safety of all involved.

Is your enjoyment of nature ever in conflict with enjoyment of making images?
No. There is not a right and wrong way to experience nature so long as we respect the land. My connection with nature is with my camera – it always has been since I was a young person tromping around in Olympic National Park. I found beauty in capturing the light as it changed, intricate details on fern leaves, nasty weather, and other people’s physical and emotional experiences in that space. This connection to nature helped ground me and teach me humility as a young person because I realized the power of mountains. Like earlier, when I talked about experiencing cultures and newness that I am not familiar with, through my lens and how intensely engaged I am, it is the same when in nature for me. I am drawn in, more profoundly, by the experience of looking through my lens.

How do you process not making a summit?
The self-talk usually starts with disappointment, then acceptance, then asking what I learned, identifying progress points to be implemented next time. Obviously, we all want to summit and achieve our goals, but in moments of struggle, we learn, grow, and creativity can flourish. A quote I once heard and have forgotten who said it went:  “The summit is for the ego but the journey is for the soul.” I’d share this with the climbers I worked with when I was guiding and it still rings true for me. Time on the summit is probably less than 1% of any trip.

Do you feel like you still succeeded?
Yes, because as long as I am with good people and present in the experience, coming out of the mountains safe, as better partners while honing my craft is a positive experience to me. At the end of the day, if a summit happened or didn’t happen that is the story, that is what I document, the moments that did happen.

How did this trip advance your growth as a photographer?
In two ways.

The first was realizing how stressed I felt during the trip not having shot any climbing. The weather was just not working with us and we never had a weather window to confidently commit to starting up the wall. But I think I grew into the belief that I am there to document, as creatively as I can, the moments that were happening. Not the ones in the future that I couldn’t control. It’s tough though, right? Knowing I am there in part to make visuals of products with specific climbing intended use and not having a chance to do that was tough. I think that is disappointing from a creative standpoint similar to the climber perspective of not having a chance to summit or even try to climb! But I think this trip helped me let go and realize it’s ok and that I document the moments that do happen. That is how it is.

Secondly, I’d been feeling really restless with my growth as a photographer leading up to my time in Pakistan. I think, mostly, because I didn’t have a personal project going and hadn’t for a while. I was too focused and maxed out on hustling for enough gigs to pay the bills (reality!). My Dad had instilled in me a love for growing fresh vegetables. Maybe a year before this trip to Pakistan I started getting interested in researching, networking, and learning about holistic agriculture practices, organic regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and Indigenous agriculture beliefs, etc. I was fascinated by what I was learning. Looking back, the Pakistan trip was a marker for me to branch out and try to shoot something that would push me as a photographer. I think I needed a subject to shoot that would provide me with a different sense of purpose in using my camera.

What are you working on now?
Kind of a lot. I feel like I’ve had the gas pedal pinned for a bit now. As I mentioned, my Dad instilled in me a love for healthy food and gardening. About 3ish years ago, I became curious about holistic agriculture practices, permaculture, regenerative agriculture, growing healthy soils and producing healthy foods. So I started to research these topics, and I got excited about storytelling around it. It felt like I had discovered a way that my camera could make a positive impact in society. Researching and networking and getting to know who has a story to share has been productive. This topic is so out of my scope of everyday work, but something I love about photography are the many different ideas and people my camera has exposed me to. Currently, Emily Stifler Wolfe and I have received a grant. We are actively looking for additional funding for a three-piece story in collaboration with Montana Free Press about how regenerative agriculture is transforming the economics of rural Montana communities. I am a firm believer that healthy communities have healthy food access. Storytelling in this vein excites me because of the impact my images could have on the health of the land and other human’s physical and mental health.

I also have nearly completed a 12 month UX/UI program. This is something I fell into with the arrival of Covid-19. I decided my skill set needed to diversify. I see this space of UX and holistic agriculture practices merging with storytelling of growing healthy soils, and healthy communities. Some percentage of my work needs to have a purpose and a positive impact. The UX program has been a good challenge in learning again! Learning about human behavior and how crazy we all are is really fascinating! What excites me about adding a UX design skill set is the chance to use a design thinking approach to solving problems with the human at the core. I believe storytelling and creating a narrative is an integral part between us that produces a conversation to develop solutions to problems. Literally designing applications to make people and our land healthier through storytelling is really appealing to me. We’ll see how everything shakes out but I am looking forward to seeing where UX design, storytelling, and agriculture intersect. Of course, I plan to continue shooting projects that are focused on climbing and skiing in remote regions of our home planet.

This Week in Photography: Returning to Normal?

 

 

Transitions are difficult.

 

The time in between what was, and what’s coming.

People crave a sense of security, and fear the unknown, so when things are uncertain, it leaves a resonance in the air.

(Which might explain the timing of the January 6th insurrection.)

But I’m not writing about politics today.

I promise.

Rather, this week marked the beginning of whatever comes next, in my life here in New Mexico, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

 

 

It began on Saturday when The Paseo Project, which hosts a massive outdoor installation and projection festival in the fall, (which was cancelled in #2020,) partnered with the Taos Spring Arts Festival, and put on a mini-shin-dig on the plaza in Taos.

 

Courtesy of The Paseo Project’s website

 

Jessie and I took the kids and the dog, to go out in public for the first time in 14 months.

As soon as we approached the plaza, the first group of people we saw were maskless, and the kids nearly freaked out, as it was so strange to see and feel.

Everyone else we encountered that night wore a mask, so the jarring introduction didn’t represent the will of the crowd, but by the middle of this week, the CDC was saying that behavior was OK now.

While The Paseo is known for bringing “edgy” art to Taos, this event featured projections of the type of antiquated paintings of Cowboys and Native Americans for which we’ve been known for more than a century.

Does projecting an image of a painting of a serious-looking Native American warrior, on the side of a building in public, make it “edgier” than showing the canvas on a white wall?

For that night, anyway, I didn’t feel like an art critic, and was just glad to see other humans out on the streets, without the air of fear that pervaded so much of Earth since March #2020.

 

 

Yesterday, things really got wild, as I headed to Santa Fe for my first official day on the town in seven months, but even in the fall, I was smash and grabbing, getting in and out of the city as fast as a jewelry-store robber on a motorbike.

This was different.

I had a coffee set up with a NM public art official, who’s also a friend, and then a visit to the New Mexico Museum of Art, where another friend, Kate Ware, had curated an exhibition called “Breath Taking.”

Then I was meant to grab a sandwich and walk around the city with yet another friend, and if you think I’m overusing the word friend, it’s simply because I haven’t seen any friends IRL in so long, I almost forgot what the word meant.

 

 

My plans for outdoor dining were dashed, as it was one of the few rainy days of the year, and wouldn’t you know it, but my windshield wipers were in need of replacing, and one popped off as I entered the city limits.

With rain pelting my car, I drove slowly, and then an undercover cop pulled out directly in front of me, with no room to spare as he exited a gas station, on a slick, dangerous road, and he came so close to causing an accident I nearly peed my pants.

How is it that no sooner do I get to write a travel article for you, shit starts going sideways?

Cops!

What he hell was that guy thinking!

 

 

As I parked my car, ready for my first public meet-up in more than a year, I had to go back to the vehicle three times, before I was settled.

At first, I forgot my mask, then my umbrella, and finally my hand sanitizer.

(To go from global traveler to absent-minded-rube-from-the-sticks in a year was quite the transition.)

My friend and I had both been vaccinated, and sat outside despite the rain, but that first moment, when I took the mask off in public, was so strange.

It’s hard to put into words.

It was like staring at the sun, daring it to blind me, but feeling emboldened to risk it all, out of misplaced bravery.

And then, after five minutes, talking to another person, over a coffee in public, began to seem normal again.

(Though I kind of wish the waitress had brought me the coffee I’d asked for. I was too gun-shy to send it back, as who wants to be an asshole these days?)

 

 

From there, I drove to my favorite public parking lot, determined to get free parking rather than pay tourist prices, and headed across downtown Santa Fe to the New Mexico Museum of Art.

I knew the CDC’s declaration by that point, but kept my mask half around my face, and pulled it up anytime I got within 20 feet of another human.

(Old habits are hard to break.)

Right away, I saw so much bad “Santa Fe Tourist” art, including a painting of polar bears, and a sculpture of a mountain lion.

Who buys that crap?

 

 

The museum was another story, though.

By the end of #2019, I wasn’t even going to museums when I visited cities, because I was so over the experience.

I did it in Amsterdam and Houston, in early #2020, but only to write about it for you.

At that point, I didn’t even feel like the art was entering my brain so much. It was more about what I could share. (I was the conduit for you, the audience.)

Not yesterday.

The first exhibition, by the early 20th C painter Will Shuster, was beautiful, and I returned to the paintings again and again.

Sure, I dodged people, and stayed out of their space, but now-vaccinated, I didn’t operate out of fear, but rather respect.

And looking at the paintings, which captured Native American and Spanish Colonial rituals, felt like drinking an ice cold glass of water on a boiling summer day.

 

 

Refreshing, but also life-affirming.

It wasn’t until later, when I saw Will Shuster’s murals in the courtyard, (which I’d never noticed before,) that I realized the early 20th C Tradition of white men painting and glorifying Native Americans, for profit, would be so frowned upon in #2021.

 

 

And then in the alcove, there was a set of photographs by a contemporary Native American photographer, Cara Romero, that emphasized the point.

Most of the images were good, but one, in which a seemingly-topless model aggressively challenged the camera, while sitting on a desert dune, with her hair covering her breasts, felt like the perfect statement for #2021. (Though it was made in 2017, in the Trump Era.)

Right away, I began asking questions.

Is it OK to stare at this image? Does the artist want me to, or does she want me to feel shame?

It’s not appropriate to objectify the subject, but that’s what’s in the photo, and the photo is on the wall.

Do I look, because she’s beautiful, and it’s an excellent piece of art, or do I not look, as a way of honoring the message of the image?

How’s that for a head-trip?

 

 

 

“Breath Taking” was in the contemporary gallery, down a ramp, and I know that space has not typically been reserved for photography exhibitions.

 

 

But the NM Museum of Art has a new director, Mark A. White, who replaced a long-time director early in the pandemic, so I’m guessing things are different now.

Frankly, after I saw the show, I KNOW they’re different, because while many of the exhibitions I’ve seen Kate Ware curate over the years were made up of framed photographs on the wall, taken from the permanent collection, this was anything but that.

There were videos, drawings, sculptures, installations, pottery, and a theme that was conceived before the pandemic, but heavily altered before the museum re-opened.

(Unlike some states, NM closed its public museums for almost all of the last year. And much of the art was clearly borrowed, opening up a far larger prospective pool of options.)

The watercolor paintings of covid particles, by David S Goodsell, were gorgeous and repulsive, the documentary photos of George Floyd protests, by Tony Mobley, were smart additions, and Cynthia Greig’s grid of images of people’s literal breath, captured on a scanner bed, were lovely too.

 

 

 

Linda Alterwitz had photographs that were made by placing cameras on subjects chests, and recording long-exposures of the night sky, while the people laid on their backs and breathed.

 

 

Poetry as text on the wall, charcoal drawings recording breathing patterns, and documentary photos of typical New Mexicans, but wearing masks.

 

By Don J Usner

 

The interplay between the different art styles, and the more spiritual, political, and topical readings of breathing, was just so good.

It may be the best themed exhibition I’ve ever seen in New Mexico.

And I savored the experience like never before.

Leaving the gallery, I even noticed that the wall text lit up and darkened, in a pattern, like inhalation and exhalation.

Wow.
Brilliant.

 

 

 

I left the museum to meet my friend at a nearby sandwich shop, and though I was wearing a rain coat, I also raised my umbrella for the first time in years.

The light was transitional, dark and luminous simultaneously, and after thirty seconds, I looked up, and saw a lighting strike that cut through the entire, enormous sky.

Wait for it, I thought.

Then…. BOOM!!!!!!!!!!!

The entire city shook with the loudest thunder crack I’ve ever heard, and I don’t think I’ve moved so fast in my life.

I closed that umbrella at hyper-speed, as the last thing I needed was to survive a pandemic, only to be struck by lighting on my first day out of my house.

(As things come in threes, so they say, this morning, my car was almost crushed by a cement truck, on the way to drop the kids at school, so I’ve had enough of near death experiences, thanks.)

The rain meant no walking around the city with a meatball parmesan sub, so my friend and I went to a restaurant in the Railyard called Opuntia.

 

 

Indoor dining?

Part of me equates that with a death sentence, but I realized at some point, I’d have to trust my vaccine, and the world would attempt to normalize.

My friend chose well, as the ceilings sloped to 18 feet high, and the tables were very well spread out.

(It was clear the owners had considered peoples’ post-covid fears, and acted accordingly.)

There was an indoor koi pond, because it’s Santa Fe, and a photo exhibition by local artist Kate Russell, featuring low-riders because it’s New Mexico.

 

 

I had a green-chile-bison-cheeseburger and fries, because again, it’s New Mexico, and once the food came, we dropped our masks, talked for an hour or so, and things almost felt like they used to.

Almost.

The Art of the Personal Project: Clemens Ascher

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist:  Clemens  Ascher

In my series “OF DRILL AND CEREMONY”
I’m showing scenes from a fictional military boot camp in a fictional country ruled by a fictional regime.
Like always in my works any resemblance to “reality” is entirely coincidental.

To see more of this project, click here.

 

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

 

The Daily Edit – Lisa Thackaberry: Art Center

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Lisa Thackaberry

Heidi: How long have you been teaching editorial photography at Art Center?
LIsa: Close to 9 years

What is the main goal of this class?
I use magazines, which are a highly evolved communication format, to help students understand their own work and the content needs of their future clients – art directors, photo editors, art buyers etc.  By asking them to pitch an idea and then shoot, edit, sequence and design a feature editorial layout they can see the kinds of images they need to execute a compelling story with dynamic flow from the perspective of an art director/graphic designer.

How does the headline and text get created?
I also ask them to use words in the form of headlines, sub-heads and pull quotes to give further meaning or transformation to the images they create.  We also look at American magazines of the 20th century to provide historical context and contemporary international magazines to see the current explosion of creativity and changing economic basis of editorial print.

What are you observations?
The subscription/ad sales model is declining and being replaced by magazines as an extension of brand representation or passion projects by creative people drawn to the tactile expression that print magazines offer.

What have the students taught you this semester?
How kind and patient they are with adapting to online learning.  I love seeing how supportive they are of each other and inspired by their intelligence, talent and thoughtfulness. I miss us sharing our final projects on paper.

 

 

This Week in Photography Books: Everyone Loves Redwoods

 

“The scarred redwoods are emblems of both natural glory and entitled consumption. They represent the dual nature of the American dream.” (A quote from today’s book.)

 

I’m cooked.

Running on fumes.
Ready for week-long nap.

(Can you imagine, going to sleep for years, like Rip Van Winkle, and waking up to whatever comes next?)

 

Rip Van Winkle

 

President Biden is trying to marshal the nation’s resources to battle climate change, and I hope he’s successful.

Wouldn’t that be great?

But as a guy who titled his book “Extinction Party,” and began warning of the ravages of overconsumption back in 2008, I’m not exactly optimistic.

 

Why am I so tired?

Well, for the last three weeks, I’ve found myself enmeshed in a net, constantly working to re-establish ground rules and boundaries in relationships that were sapping my juice.

It’s easy to go with the status quo, even when things aren’t working, because inertia is a powerful force, and so many people fear change.

(Just so we’re clear, this is not a post about my marriage. Jessie and I are good.)

 

Re-writing rules, and re-setting expectations with others, is exhausting. But it’s the kind of work that pays dividends long into the future, if you’re willing to invest in your sanity.

Right now, we’re just 3 months removed from what was a 4-year-national-nightmare for 80 million people, and the pandemic, which capped off the Trump era, is still going strong.

But after last week’s mega-column, and the column before that, in which I spent a weekend getting updates from my secret-Argentinean source, this week, I wanted to give you a short one.

(Let’s keep it brief, shall we?)

 

Thankfully, I reached to the bottom of my book-stack, and pulled out something from May of 2020. (Thought I’d gotten to the oldest submissions already, but this one eluded my notice.)

Inside, I found one book by Kirk Crippens that I’d already reviewed, having requested it from the press agent, (Sorry, Kirk,) and another book, by Kirk and Gretchen LeMaistre, which was just what the doctor ordered today.

Quick heads up: it’s not a happy book.

Beautiful, yes. Important, sure. But nothing cheery, I’m afraid.

“Live Burls,” was published by Schilt in Amersterdam, back in 2017. Given how long it takes to make a book, this series was likely begun in 2015 or ’16, (I’m guessing,) at the onset of the Trump years.

And it is a masterclass in symbolizing the worst of humanity, in the cleanest of terms.

 

Redwood trees are beautiful, majestic, magical, historical… (insert positive adjective here.)

Like baby humans, or puppy dogs, Redwood trees are creatures that everyone loves.

And yet.

The artists learned of a situation in which poachers invaded a public park-space, and hacked off burls from the Redwoods, which just happen to be the part of the trees responsible for reproduction.

Acccording to the short, but informative text at the beginning of the book, Redwood burls enable the trees to regenerate over thousands of years, and might even allow for a genetic chain going back hundreds of millions of years.

So to think that some our fellow Americans would act like psychopathic Rhino poachers, and attack nature so blatantly, while stealing from the rest of us, (and from Planet Earth,) is mind-boggling to me.

These have to be some of THE WORST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD, and I applaud the artists for recording the damage for posterity.

The photos are direct, and blunt, having been well-scanned from gelatin silver prints made from 8×10 negatives.

I applaud the choice of the green cover fabric, and cyan inside papers, as it gives a bit of life to a grayscale set of images, and a dour view of the world.

The book even tells us some of the poachers abandoned a 500 lb chunk of burl, because it was too big to fit in their poacher-mobile. (They’re too dumb to even rob properly.)

My only criticism, small though it may be, is that I would have elided the very short titles on the spread opposite each photo.

I found them distracting, because this book has the feeling of a visual obituary, (even though the trees survived,) and to me, the pure, quiet sadness needed no words.

Anyway, I promised a short column, and aim to deliver.

Glad this one was sent my way, sorry it took so long to review, and hope you all have a safe and happy week, wherever you are.

To purchase a copy of “Live Burls” click here 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Fernando Decillis

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist:  Fernando Decillis

The project started out as a personal project. When a close relative of mine passed away, my sisters, father, and I accompanied her husband to return her ashes to her homeland in southeast Alaska. I am Kaigani Haida and had been studying the art intensely at the time when she passed. I proposed this project to Fernando and he said something like, “if you can get the artists, you know I’ll make the pictures.” So, I started reaching out to people to see who might be interested. At that point, we were just thinking that it was going to be a portrait project and we’d make some nice pictures for the artists to have of their practice. After I had a few very well-known artists and the support of the Totem Heritage Center and Sealaska Heritage Institute, I reached out to Jeff Campagna at Smithsonian Magazine. Fernando had worked with him a couple of times before, and it seemed like a great fit. He seemed interested, and of course, it’s an organization, so there was a process. We were thrilled when they eventually said they wanted to pick up the story.

Covid-19 presented some challenges that made it impossible to see some of the artists that helped me the most on the research end. David R. Boxley and Kandi McGilton are two artists that are doing amazing work in Metlakatla. Hopefully we get to see them next time! We are really happy with how the project turned out. The captions that are included were published in the magazine, I worked closely with them to write them.

Among the indigenous nations of Southeast Alaska, there is a concept known in Haida as Íitl’ Kuníisii—a timeless call to live in a way that not only honors one’s ancestors but takes care to be responsible to future generations.

The traditional arts of the Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian people are integral to that bond, honoring families, clans, and animal and supernatural beings, and telling oral histories through totem poles, ceremonial clothing and blankets, hand-carved household items and other objects. In recent decades, native artisans have revived practices that stretch back thousands of years, part of a larger movement to counter threats to their cultural sovereignty and resist estrangement from their heritage.

They use materials found in the Pacific rainforest and along the coast: red cedar, yellow cedar, spruce roots, seashells, animal skins, wool, horns, rock. They have become master printmakers, producing bold-colored figurative designs in the distinctive style known as “formline,” which prescribes the placement of lines, shapes and colors. Formline is a visual language of balance, movement, storytelling, ceremony, legacy and legend, and through it, these artisans bring the traditions of their rich cultures into the present and ensure their place in the future.

David A. Boxley and Michelle Boxley pose with their grandson, Sage in regalia. The regalia they are wearing was designed by David and made by Michelle. They are part of a dance group called Git Hoan that has traveled internationally performing traditional dance and song from Northwest Coast tribes.

David A. Boxley carefully restores a cedar house pole that commemorates his journey as a father bringing up his sons David Robert and Zachary in the Tsimshian culture.

Nathan Jackson, a Chilkoot Sockeye clan leader, in front of a Beaver Clan house screen that adorns a longhouse at Saxman Totem Park. The house screen was carved on vertical cedar planks before it was raised and assembled on the house front. Jackson, who led the project, found his way back to his heritage circuitously after a boyhood spent at a boarding school that prohibited native languages and practices.

At the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan, Alaska, Jackson wears ceremonial blankets and a headdress made from ermine pelts, cedar, abalone shell, copper and flicker feathers.

 Sgwaayaans and his apprentices heat lava rocks that will be used to steam the wood of a traditional dugout canoe; the heated lava rocks are lowered into a saltwater bath inside it, to steam the vessel until it is pliable enough to be stretched crosswise with thwarts; more than 200 tree rings in the Pacific red cedar are still visible with the canoe in its nearly finished form; Sgwaayaans strategically inserts the crosswise thwarts and taps them into place with a round wooden mallet to create the desired shape.

Lily Hope, a designer of Chilkat and Ravenstail textiles, lives in Juneau with her five children. She is seen weaving Tlingit masks during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hope is well known for her ceremonial robes, woven from mountain goat wool and cedar bark, and often made for clan members commemorating a major event like a birth, or participating in the mortuary ceremony known as Ku.éex, held one year after a clan member’s death. An educator and a community leader, Hope also receives “repatriation commissions” from institutions that return a historical artifact to its clan of origin and replace it with a replica or an original artwork.

Nathan Jackson’s adze on the head of a twelve-foot carved cedar pole

To see more of this project, click here. Or on Fernando’s website

 

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

 

Pricing & Negotiating: Celebrity Shoot For Alcohol Company

Concept: Environmental portraits of a celebrity

Licensing: Unlimited use of all images captured for two years from first use

Photographer: Portraiture specialist

Client: Large alcohol brand

Here is the estimate (click to enlarge):

 

Fees: While the portraits would be rather straightforward, the celebrity talent required a photographer who had experience working with high-profile subjects and — due to said talent’s busy schedule — the ability to capture strong content in a short amount of time. That put upward pressure on the fee, and I felt that a creative fee alone was worth $4,000.

For the licensing, even though the client requested unlimited use, they were most likely to place the content in regional advertisements — primarily on in-store displays. I felt $6,500 was appropriate for one year of usage, then added 50% to account for a second year, bringing me to $9,750. I arrived at a $13,750 fee by combining the $4,000 creative fee and the $9,750 licensing fee. On top of that, I added a $1,500 fee for the photographer to attend a tech/scout day on location.

Crew: Given the nature of the project, I included a producer and PA to help coordinate the day and help hire/manage the rest of the crew and styling team. We added a first assistant (who would also accompany the photographer on the tech/scout day), second assistant, and a digital tech as well. The digitech’s rate included a $500 fee and $1,000 for a workstation and, overall, the rates were appropriate for the given market.

Styling: We included a hair/makeup stylist and a wardrobe stylist, as requested by the client. The wardrobe stylist would just be preparing clothing provided by the talent, so no shopping/return days were needed.

Equipment: We included $1,500 for cameras/grip/lighting and a modest fee to cover production elements like tables, chairs, etc.

Health and Safety: We included two days for a COVID compliance officer (which covered the tech/scout day and the shoot day), plus a few hundred dollars for PPE.

Meals: This rate was $75 per person on the day of the shoot.

Misc.: The venue was a bit out of town, so this fee covered mileage, parking, some additional meals, and bit of overhead for any unforeseen expenses that might arise.

Postproduction: We included $500 for the photographer to perform basic color correction and provide a gallery of his favorite shots. We also added $350 for a hard drive to deliver all of the images, as the client would handle retouching.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project, and the client ended up expanding the usage to include an additional year for one image for a fee of $3,750.

If you have any questions — or if you need help estimating or producing a project — please reach out. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs, from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

The Daily Edit – Somira Sao


Somira Sao

Heidi: How did your photo career start?
The start of my photo career was driven by a personal desire to understand my history as a Cambodian refugee. I was born in a Khmer Rouge work camp in Kampong Thom Province during Pol Pot’s occupation of Cambodia. My parents and I survived mass genocide, fled the country, and were relocated to the USA through UNHCR’s refugee resettlement program. We were moved from refugee holding camps in Thailand, the Philippines, and San Francisco before being placed a final time on the East coast. I was three years old when we landed in Portland, Maine. Twenty-six years later, I decided to return to Cambodia for the first time and searched for work as a photographer.

Before then, photography was pure art for me. I shot Polaroids, 35mm and medium format. I built a darkroom so I could process film and make silver gelatin prints. I loved shooting, never cropped images and even filed out negative carriers so I could print full frame. My first digital camera was a cheap point and shoot that I used to document the music, art and night scene in Portland. For my first trip back to Cambodia, I got a digital SLR and shifted completely away from film. I met my extended family and worked with NGOs based out of Phnom Penh. Over the course of two years, I visited 15 provinces documenting eco-tourism, education, HIV/AIDS, water/sanitation and land-mine survivors’ programs. Images I made for the Australian Red Cross and AUSAID’s landmine survivors’ program became part of an exhibition that traveled around Australia to help promote landmine awareness and raise funds to support survivors of detonated UXOs.

When did you start taking family photos?
As soon as I became a mom.

You’ve been involved in voyaging some time now, when did you decide to call the water your home?
Our voyaging program has been to make fast long distance ocean passages together as a family (usually 4000-6000nm non-stop), allowing us to see the world together via wind power. We started in June 2011 when we left Portland, Maine and sailed non-stop across the Atlantic to Cherbourg, France with our two oldest kids (ages 2 and 9 months at the time). We have been sailing and living on the water ever since, trying to get our kids on as many different boats as possible.

 You are the mother of 6 beautiful children, how have you seen them grow and shape shift to this alternative lifestyle?
The life that we have made with our kids has given them the ability to not only navigate the oceans, but a real practical knowledge of how to navigate the world, different people, cultures and political situations. They are learning how to problem solve, adapt quickly to change, be resourceful when resources are limited and understanding what it takes to complete and accomplish hard projects. We try to surround them with inspiring people who are doing really cool things. They are seeing that there are no rules when it comes to life choices, only that by following your passion you can find the inner motivation to push hard. These strengths we instill in them are more and more evident as they get older and especially apparent in contrast to kids their own age who have had a different type of upbringing.

What has living on the water taught you about motherhood and your photography?
Being on the water, disconnected from the normal grid has given me a unique perspective on the value of time, personal consumption, and how little you really need to raise strong, healthy confident kids. As a photographer, I’ve found that no matter where we are, every single day there is always some form of beauty to be found through the lens, whether it’s on an intimate level between your immediate family our out there in some wild amazing place.

When did you decide to travel with your children?
All my children have been on the go from the moment of conception. In 2007, when my husband and I decided to start a family, he made me promise that if we got pregnant, that we wouldn’t stop traveling. I agreed, so I guess it was at that moment that we decided a settled life in one place was not in the cards for our family. During my first pregnancy I had a smorgasbord of medical records from Cambodia, New Zealand, South Africa, Trinidad, Bermuda and USA. My oldest of six was born in Jackson, Wyoming and we were on the road with her starting when she was a month old. Each successive pregnancy was similar.

The most radical adventure baby was my 3rd born who sailed in utero in the high latitudes through the Southern Ocean, Aussie Bight and Tasman Sea (Cape Town to Fremantle to Melbourne to Auckland). She was born on the floor of my midwife’s house in Auckland, New Zealand, caught & cord cut by by my oldest daughter (age 4 at the time). She moved onto the boat when she was less than 24 hours old. As a family we have been traveling internationally, in nonstop motion (with no land base), since September 2008.

How has Patagonia influenced your photo career?
Just after my oldest daughter was born, I got offered a follow up field assignment with the Australian Red Cross to re-visit and photograph the beneficiaries of their landmine survivors’ program. I was really excited, as I felt I could make some compelling images the second time around, with more trust built between me and my subjects. I wanted to work but did not want to leave my family. I asked if I could bring them with me on the assignment (personally covering their travel expenses), but they felt it was too risky for me to travel with a child.

I felt very torn between work and being a parent during this period as I felt my career was just starting to grow. I am sure many first-time mothers can relate to this. That was when my husband introduced me to Jane Sievert who was the head of the Patagonia photo department at that time. I told her about our plan to cycle high quality dirt roads with our 2-month-old daughter through Chile and Argentina, starting in Chiloe and then making our way south through Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. The plan was to travel super light, with mountain bikes towing two single track trailers – one with a custom-built dodger to carry our daughter and the other with our camping gear. Jane was excited, supportive and willing to work with me and look at my images. We did our route as planned, but then we kept on going. Next we cycled a section of the Chilean surf coast from Cobquecura to Curanipe, then through the Atacama Desert, then went to Iceland to cycle around the island from hot spring to hot spring.

Over the course of 10 months, working with no laptop (as it was too much to carry with touring gear), I used a stand-alone card reader/hard drive. I sent Jane images from our trip that were quickly edited on low quality computer monitors at random internet cafes.

Through this first expedition, Jane had created an outlet for me to work on my art while raising my kids. I have felt that support from her and everyone else in the photo department for all of our adventures over the last 12 years. This relationship with Patagonia helped me realize I did not have to make a compromise between work and being a full-time mother. From that point forward, I chose to search only for projects where I could work and bring my kids along. Amazingly I found clients who let me bring my whole wild crew with me on commissioned photo shoots. I became a freelance writer and interviewed people for stories with my kids listening, learning and participating. My husband and I started a marine services business together that allowed us to work with clients using our virtual, floating office or do deliveries or refit projects where the whole family was welcome. Work choices always weighed in the quality of life that we could provide our family. Quality being measured not monetarily but instead in things like time together, opportunities for experiential education, access to good food, clean air/water/dirt, nature, sports, etc.

 

 

 

Featured Promo – Emily Lian Wright

Emily Lian Wright

Who printed it?
Vistaprint printed my work and I am quite happy with the results! Vistaprint is reasonably priced and produces decent quality product and as a photographer starting our budget is a huge factor.

Who designed it?
I designed my promo! I graduated from the Bachelor of Photography program at Sheridan College. The curriculum includes courses in graphic design and provides the students a well-rounded set of skills and education.

Tell me about the images?
These images have been taken over the past couple of years. In the future, I would like to keep the promo images more current.
My imagery choices range from portrait to fashion and product to architecture. I really wanted to showcase my range of capabilities! These images were from a few of my favourite shoots and ones that I had received the most positive feedback! There were also a lot of great memories that came out of these shoots. Some of my favourite memories come from working with wonderful models and stylists, and through wonderful teamwork my visions were brought to life.
It’s been interesting to do product shoots and one of my favourite was of Kavi Whisky shoot! While shooting the product, I was given a tour around the distillery and a lesson on how whisky is made. As an added perk, I also got to taste the amazing whisky! Yum!

How many did you make?
I researched different businesses in my area that I believed would benefit from my services. I printed 50 booklets, sent out 40 and saved a few for future potential clients. I always carry my business cards and a few booklets on me or in my car because you never know who you are going to meet and when that could be a potential client!

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is my first promo! In the future, I would like to send out one or two promos a year! This way I can keep in contact with my clients and they can see new and updated work I’ve done throughout the year!

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I think printed promos can be very effective! The booklets are expensive so you have to do your research and be selective in who you send them too. I moved to a new town in October and needed a way to introduce myself! Promos are a good way to let new clients know I am a new business in town and to show them some of my work.

This Week in Photography: How We Got Here

 

I went to Guatemala in 1999.

 

My girlfriend, (now wife,) thought as a privileged, Jewish-American male, raised in the safety of the suburbs, I needed to see how people in the “Third World” actually lived.

She grew up in New Mexico, surrounded by deep poverty, and also traveled extensively in India and Egypt, (in addition to being educated at hyper-progressive Vassar,) and insisted I get a firmer grasp on reality, if we were going to be together, long-term.

That was 22 years ago.

I was infatuated, and agreed to go, heading to Guatemala to learn Spanish, and embark on a short, photographic project related to the Civil War there, which had recently ended.

I quickly learned that Guatemala was ruled by a racial elite; White descendants of the Spanish colonists, who maintained full power over the predominantly indigenous population.

Everywhere I went, people spoke in hushed tones of “Impunidad,” and how that was the main thing holding the country back from advancement.

Impunity.

 

Courtesy of TV Pacifico

 

The politicians and generals who had ordered the massacres of hundreds of thousands of people never faced accountability for their actions.

Never.

So no one had much hope the society would improve, and from what I’ve heard, it hasn’t in the intervening years.

 

 

Seven years prior, in 1992, while I was still in high school, Los Angeles erupted in riots, which burned chunks of the city, because White police officers, who were caught on video mercilessly beating a motorist, Rodney King, were acquitted of the charges.

Shortly thereafter, Gil Garcetti took over as the District Attorney of LA.

These days, much of the world is waiting, watching, hoping that Derek Chauvin is convicted of murdering George Floyd, (also on video,) because of a fake $20. That event, in the spring of #2020, set off a chain of rioting and political protest that is the largest since what transpired in LA back in ’92.

While the trial has been underway, Daunte Wright was murdered by a White police officer for an expired license plate tag, and yet another video went viral, depicting police officers threatening, pepper spraying, and harassing a Black military motorist, because they couldn’t see the legal, temporary license plate that was properly displayed in his back window.

(And since I wrote my first draft this morning, Chicago police released a video of an officer killing a 13 year old boy.)

So I ask you, how far have we come, really, and how did we get here?

 

 

I’ve been thinking about these things obsessively for years, as you well know, given that I’ve written about American politics and culture in this column for nearly a decade.

But most of the time, the answers are beyond my grasp.

Not today.

For once, I think I can tie a string from the 1970’s to #2021, while featuring an unlikely cast of characters, and an almost unbelievable chain of small world connections.

And it all began on Tuesday evening, not-quite 48 hours ago.

 

 

A few months back, George Nobechi, the Japanese-Canadian photographer and entrepreneur whose work I published in this column recently, added me to the list of attendees for a program he’d developed, featuring Zoom interviews with master photographers.

It is not a free program, but he comped me, and I mostly forgot about it.

After we reconnected, George suggested I tune in for a presentation by Afghan-born, Cambodian-based photographer Zalmaï, and at that point, I noticed there was an upcoming lecture by Pete Souza, President Obama’s official photographer.

That’s not to be missed, I thought, and it was scheduled for Tuesday night, this week.

Earlier on Tuesday, my wife and I were trying to catch a few minutes of down time, and turned on Top Chef Season 5, on Peacock, which was filmed on the cusp of The Great Recession in 2008.

A young chef from Long Island, with the thickest accent you’ve ever heard, when asked to guess who the important surprise guest might be that week, speculated, “I’m thinking Donald Trump, him being the most richest and powerfulest man in New York.”

 

 

Setting aside the humor of his mangled English, and perfect Long Island charm, Jessie and I paused the stream, and looked at each other, aghast.

In 2008, four years after “The Apprentice” debuted on NBC, Trump had already conned “regular people” into thinking he was the biggest, baddest dude on the block.

Mike Bloomberg, the fucking Mayor of the New York, who was worth significantly more money than Trump, and ran the biggest city in America, was an afterthought, compared to the growing legend of DJT.

Back in 2008, Trump was on his way up, just as people were about to suffer through the worst economy since The Great Depression.

That is a huge piece of the puzzle.

 

 

Tuesday evening, I logged into the Zoom, and mostly paid attention to Pete Souza’s presentation, though I cut away from time to time to check on my kids, make a photo for Instagram, and shoot images for my ongoing series about Taos in #2021.

 

My Instagram shot from Tuesday evening

 

Pete Souza was great, and remarked that he thought being 54 years of age, when he took on the job as Presidential photographer, was too old for the role, because of how physically and mentally draining it was, but also gave him a huge advantage.

Being “seasoned” and wise, he knew how to manage people and situations in ways that allowed him to achieve his personal goal of making the best and most important Presidential photographic archive in the history of the United States.

And there he was, right on my computer screen, telling stories about Barack Obama, one of my personal idols; a man still admired by Billions of people.

 

 

At one point, while surfing through the other participants names and images, I noticed something strange.

There was a man on screen, wearing a demonstrably fashionable scarf, named Gil Garcetti.

No, I thought.
It couldn’t be.

Could it?

 

 

In 1994, two years into Gil Garcetti’s job as LA DA, OJ Simpson’s wife Nicole Brown, and her Jewish-American “friend” Ron Goldman, were brutally murdered.

The crime took over the imagination and airwaves of all of America, and if I’m guessing, much of the known world.

There had been nothing like the phenomenon, prior to that, and right now, I’d argue it was the inflection point that put us on our current trajectory. (Is it still the Darkest Timeline, now that Joe Biden is in charge?)

OJ Simpson was famous for being really good at football, but hyper-famous for being a smiling, happy, non-threatening Black man on TV and in the Movies.

Everyone knew his 70’s rental car commercials, dashing through the airport, jumping over things.

 

 

And many people knew him as Nordberg from 1988’s “The Naked Gun,” where he was “comically” maimed, in more and more absurdist ways, until he ended up in a hospital bed, seemingly begging Leslie Neilsen for heroin.

OJ was a Black man with whom White people felt comfortable. He was very good-looking and charismatic.

But it was all a con.

 

 

The OJ story and subsequent trial, as a symbol of American mass culture, made “Game of Thrones” look like a subreddit about NFT’s.

Everything froze, and I remember being a waiter in a restaurant at the Jersey Shore, stopping what I was doing to go to the bar TV and watch the slow-speed White Bronco chase.

Eventually, we had the moment of all moments, where they asked OJ to try on the bloody gloves, and his cartoon-ishly bad acting, pretending that he JUST COULDN’T GET THE GLOVES TO FIT was American history in the making.

 

 

Then, somehow, he got off.

Acquitted by a mostly Black jury.

A man that White people once loved, and then hated, was set free, because Black people in Los Angeles could very easily believe he had been framed by racist cops.

Did they think he was actually innocent, or was it an act of protest, taking what little power they had to shine attention on a real thing that no one seemed to care about?

Racist, violent police were given impunity.

Impunidad!

Those cops faced no consequences for their actions, so why was it so hard to believe they would frame OJ?

If you looked at it sideways, wouldn’t his acceptance by White America be a reason for racist cops to hate him?

Looking back, can we really argue with the logic?

Marcia Clark, Christoper Darden, Gil Garcetti, the entire team had egg on their faces.

Gil Garcetti gave this speech, in which he looks like he’s choking down vomit, fighting back tears, and tried to highlight the dangers of domestic violence.

 

 

Johnny Cochrane, he of “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” became a celebrity, satirized on 90’s mega-hit Seinfeld, and OJ friend and lawyer Robert Kardashian went on to lead what is now America’s Most Famous family, (after the Trumps,) another clan renown for image over substance, wealth over talent, and plastic surgery that knows no bounds.

 

Jackie Chiles on Seinfeld

(Maybe we’ll throw in part-time family member Caitlyn Jenner here too, an athlete previously as famous as OJ in the 70’s and 80’s. Then-Bruce-Jenner was on the Wheaties box. Do they still make Wheaties?)

 

 

 

But the thing is, OJ did do it, according to a subsequent civil trial, in which a majority White jury found him guilty based upon the preponderance of the evidence. (As opposed to beyond a reasonable doubt.)

According to that jury, and the American public consciousness, OJ murdered Nicole and Ron, and his smiling visage was just a facade that hid a type of rage and violence that could not be contained.

As far as karma goes, fast forward to 2008, and OJ Simpson was convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery, after leading a brazen raid on a hotel room in (where else) Las Vegas, where he and some hired thugs terrorized some (likely) shady memorabilia dealers, holding them at gunpoint.

In this audio clip, you can hear OJ drop his makes-White-people-feel-safe voice, screaming “Don’t let nobody out this room. Motherfuckers! Think you can steal my shit and sell it?”

 

 

He was busted that time around, and served 9 years in jail, before he sat before a parole board, which was (again) televised.

Watch the video.

All along, OJ maintains his composure, winding a tale too convoluted to actually follow, with side-streets and confusing details.

He’s sitting there, a psychotic narcissist convinced of his innocence, trying to explain how the government got it all wrong.

Until just before minute 9, when a White parole board member questions him on a detail. (That the State gave him back his property, which means he couldn’t have stolen something that was his all along.)

Watch him flash with anger.
His vocal tone and body language change.

 

 

Even though the parole board has “power and control” over his future, he can’t hide his true self, but they let him out anyway.

In 2017.
While Donald Trump was President.

The year White Supremacists marched in Charlottesville, confirming yet again that some White people would even don Nazi garb and white hoods, carrying flaming torches, to protect their power and privilege.

 

 

Like Freud speculated about the Death Instinct, and we all know about the Survival Instinct, I’m hereby coining the Power and Control Instinct. It means people equate power with control, and given how little control we humans actually have in the Wide Universe, certain types will do whatever is necessary to maintain that Power and Control, once they achieve it.

It explains a lot, if you think about it.

 

 

In #2020, Donald Trump broke the world, and in #2021, his minions stormed the US Capitol, desperate to overturn a free and fair election, so their autocratic, racist, con artist, Fugazi-strong-man of a President could stay in charge.

I recently read the one thing that most closely tied the insurrectionists together was the statistical decline in the percentage of White People, as a proportion of the population, in the counties in which they resided.

It doesn’t get more Anti-Democratic than that. Fighting to maintain Power and Control, even if it means killing off America’s beloved democratic system.

And now we’ve seen insane, anti-voting laws pop up like Whack-a-moles.

The covert racism of Lee Atwater, honed through the years by guys like Karl Rove, and then screamed proudly by assholes like Rush Limbaugh, has morphed into Tucker Carlson championing the Great Replacement theory on a TV channel run by an Australian oligarch.

Which brings us to this week.

Now we’re caught up.

 

What was Gil Garcetti doing on that Zoom call, I wondered? Isn’t his son now the Mayor of LA, in charge of the very police force that employed pricks like Mark Fuhrman?

I hit up Google, and discovered that Gil Garcetti’s second act, his retirement career, was to be a fine art photographer.

Say what now?

Even stranger, Gil Garcetti did a photo book on the Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, thereby pulling two more bold-faced names into this mind-fuck of a column.

My head was spinning, because right now, this very week, I just started working on a book about Frank Gehry’s new building in LA, The Grand LA, which is across the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall, because my friend and client, Weldon Brewster, is the official photographer documenting the build.

Weldon’s got some amazing photos of the Disney Concert Hall, shot from The Grand LA’s construction site, and agreed to let me show a few to you here, now.

 

Images courtesy of Weldon Brewster

 

 

Finally, though, let’s get back to where we started. That Zoom call George organized, and to which he kindly invited me.

For the Q&A section, people were reminded to ask questions in the chat, and I checked them out. There, in the queue, was a question posted by George, on behalf of Gil Garcetti, who had mistakenly written to George in a private message.

I thought to myself, this is going to happen.

I can feel it coming.

I got my iPhone 8 ready, and opened the camera app. (I’ve had it since I went to Portland in 2019 for Photolucida, where I first met Weldon.)

When the time came, I pressed the record button, and listened as Gil Garcetti, a seminal figure in the HISTORY OF AMERICA, asked Pete Souza, a seminal figure in the HISTORY OF AMERICA, a question about whether he ever wanted back in the game.

Pete said no, he didn’t want to do this job for Joe Biden, even though he knows him so well, that he’s just too tired. He’d said earlier he mostly photographs his granddaughter these days, and if he was seasoned at 54, now he said he was too worn out for that kind of work.

 

 

But then, in a split second, Pete pivoted to politics.

He told us how, at the very end of the Obama administration, when the transition was underway, he had a countdown clock, waiting to be done with the job.

He was so beat.

But Pete also realized something monumental.

Something that indeed came to pass, when the World’s Biggest Superpower, after defeating the (actual) Nazis, and outlasting the Soviet Empire, succumbed to a Queens con man with a thick accent, and a lot of faux swagger.

According to Pete Souza, (talking to Gil Garcetti,) in the beginning of 2017, a few months before OJ Simpson was released from prison, Pete said he came to a realization.

“We’re fucked, as a country,” he said.

And that’s how we got here.

The end.

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Richard Radstone

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist:  Richard Radstone

Artists Statement

The roots of Sidewalk Ghosts were planted September 2011, when as my life hit a painful set of obstacles, I began blogging a series of daily essays, portraits, and videos based on my street interviews of absolute strangers. Hundreds of consecutive days that, no matter what were going on in the world, how I felt, or where I was, I published the hope, hurt, and wisdom shared to me by diverse individuals. At first, it was a slow-growing personal challenge. But when, on the 3rd-month, Word Press awarded it as one of the top ten daily blogs to follow; a global audience exploded as 1000s from around the globe saw and responded to the portraits and stories of these absolute strangers.

Now, a decade later, the journey evolved into podcasting, speaking, and outreach, I tell everyone I have fallen in love with the world. Tribute to the 1000s who allow me to blog their stories, podcast their voices, attend my presentations, and support the project. For it is, through our diverse experiences, our open eyes, our listening ears, and our extended actions, that we are touching the hearts and lives of many.

I call us, the compassionate majority. A once hidden, but now growing community in whom I will be ever grateful. Strangers-now-friends who, by allowing me to share a little about who they are, have helped us all to see past the ghosts that divide us. Even and perhaps, guiding us to find our personal peace and focus in harnessing the best of who we are, as well as how we view and treat those around us.

Please always remember: “Your individual influence truly does matter to someone else in the world.”

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art-buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.

 

The Daily Edit – Andy Richter: Serpent in the Wilderness

At Krishna Balaram temple in Vrindavan, India, one experiences the essence of bhakti yoga. With great love and devotion, and frequently tears of joy in their eyes, devotees from around the globe come to the ISKCON temple to dance, sing in kirtan, and shower flowers upon statues of Radha and Krishna, and the late bhakti master and founder of Krishna consciousness, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Krishna devotees prostrate during their circumambulation of Govardhan Hill, near Govardhan, India. Moving one stone her bodyÕs length with each prostration (of 108 stones), the devotee in the foreground’s parikrama, or walk around the sacred hill, will require 12 years to complete. Her bhakti, or devotion to Krishna, keeps her moving forward.
A young devotee blesses pilgrims along the Govardhan parikrama, where Krishna is believed to have spent much of his youth. According to the 10th Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam, after Krishna protected the inhabitants of Vraj (Vrindavan) from the wrath of Indra, he counseled them to worship the holy hill through puja and parikrama.
Students at Miri Piri Academy in Amritsar, India, practice Kundalini yoga in the reflection of Yogi Bhajan. In Kundalini yoga, there are thousands of kriyas consisting of postures, pranayama (breath techniques), and meditations. Kriyas are often maintained for substantial periods of time, allowing the mind to give way to the body’s wisdom, to transcend ego, and clear limiting beliefs and patterns within.
Following two and a half days of White Tantric Yoga, yogis in New Mexico take a blind walk through the arid landscape. With eyes closed, the group is led by a leader who calls out “Wahe Guru” while those following respond “Wahe Guru”, an expression of ecstatic awe of the divine, sharing aloud the experience of going from darkness to light, from ignorance to true understanding.
B.K.S. Iyengar in savasana at Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India. Iyengar is responsible for sharing yoga with arguably more human beings than any other person in history. Traditionally, yoga was passed directly from guru to student in an intimate relationship; Iyengar brought yoga to a classroom context, changing its trajectory forever. An honor to photograph, Iyengar passed away on August 20, 2014. Up to his 95th year, he practiced asana daily and shared his vast knowledge and experience with his students.
A yogini lies in savasana or Òcorpse poseÓ at Yogi Yoga in Beijing. The Chinese people have engaged in mind body practices for centuries, yet the state has been slow to embrace yoga as a method of personal realization and liberation, suspicious of activity that could undermine the collective order. Today, the official stance appears to be shifting. Mohan Bhandari, the founder of Yogi Yoga, the countryÕs most popular chain of studios, said that yoga is growing 20% annually.
Jim Davis meditates in his Vasthu home (a traditional Hindu system of architecture), in Fairfield, Iowa. A conscious community, Fairfield has been home to Maharishi University of Management since 1974 and hosts the golden dome–the world’s largest training center for practitioners of Transcendental Meditation.
Thousands of yogis practice asana during a early morning class at Red Rocks Amphitheater near Morrison, Colorado. Approximately 3000 attended the sold out event, “Yoga on the Rocks”.
Meditation on the Yamuna River at Keshi Ghat in Vrindavan. Krishna is believed to have bathed here after killing the demon Keshi, who symbolizes pride in ones devotional practices, vanity and ego. Bhakti yogis curtail such tendencies through chanting and humble service.
Pujaris await pilgrims bearing prayers and offerings on the Shipra River during the Kumbh Mela in Ujjain.
A sadhu practices Plavini Pranayama while floating on the Shipra River during the Kumbh Mela in Ujjain, India. In this breath exercise, the blood flows rapidly in the body, removing impurities and accumulated toxins. It is said that yogis who master this pranayama can sustain life for days without food.

Photographer: Andy Richter

Heidi: How did yoga come into your life?
Andy: Yoga entered my life around 2004 when I was living in Crested Butte, Colorado, where I worked as a professional ski patrolman. I began in the Iyengar tradition, which emphasizes alignment and using the body as an instrument for expanded consciousness and awareness. In it, one is so focused on the specific, subtle movements of the body, that it is hard to be anywhere but present. In a two-hour class, my teacher would walk around the room offering adjustments and share yogic philosophy while we held 4 or 5 postures for extended periods of time, letting go of tension, mental chatter and becoming aware of a more profound reality. It was transformative, and not easy. Yet I kept coming back for more. That was my beginning, an opening to a new way.

When did you decide to document your practice?
After a few years of Iyengar Yoga, I started practicing Vinyasa Yoga in a heated room, primarily because I was living in a city with cold and dark winters, in Minneapolis, where I currently live and work. For me, it is essential to move my body before I can settle down and still my mind, so the vigorous physical nature of Vinyasa seemed a good choice. This led to Kundalini Yoga, which I currently practice. By 2011, I had a solid foundation in yoga and I began thinking about how to explore it through photography, as a way to go deeper.

As much of yoga happens internally, working in a medium that deals primarily with surfaces has proven challenging at times. To make photographs that convey transformation and transcendence, new visual strategies are required. I use abstractions, reflections, pictures within pictures (often to convey lineages and relationships), allegorical photographs, and being receptive to moments that convey presence. Yoga is defined as union, the capacity to merge the finite with the infinite–our individual human experience with the universal consciousness. It is a method of self-realization and a state of being. Yet, how can these vast and often esoteric concepts be pictured, understood, and known?

How long were you in India?
I have been to India 6 times. It was important for me to look at the roots of yoga; it’s history and myriad traditions, which required extensive travel over 5 years, especially in India–yoga’s source. I also made a lot of the work throughout the United States, as well as in Mexico and China, when looking at contemporary forms of yoga.

To answer your question, for this series, I travelled to India 3 times for anywhere from 6 weeks to 2 months at a time. I spent many days in caves in the Himalayas with silent yogis. I lived in ashrams and with various spiritual communities. Many saints and great masters blessed me and shared their teachings with me. For weeks, I lived a tent while photographing massive Hindu fairs with millions of pilgrims and yogis. There was a lot of research and learning prior to each of these trips, yet, once I started working one thing led to another, often in very unexpected and serendipitous ways. Serpent in the Wilderness, my monograph published with Kehrer Verlag (2018), is the result.

What were some of the unexpected discoveries along the way?
Yoga is more than we think it is. It has been enriching to look at it from an experiential perspective, as well as a historical, cultural, spiritual, and a visual one. Photography affords an opportunity to ask questions and see where they lead. For me, it isn’t about definitive answers to the questions as much as it is the experience and process of making the work. I am not suggesting the photographs are not important; they certainly are, yet not more so than life, and deepening my relationship to it.

In the times we’re living in, especially right now, there is so much pressure on us. This is an intense moment on every level—personal, social, political, environmental, among many others. Our attention is so precious. We need to be wise in how use it and where we place it. So we can focus and be present in our lives, at least some of the time. So we can remain whole and maintain some kind of balance. More than ever, it is essential to have techniques to control our inner state. Yoga is one such tool.

What are some of the more unique applications of yoga?
The first sutra of Patanjali talks about yoga being the “cessation of the chatter of the mind”. If that is possible, many things can be understood and experienced. If we practice, that is. We are often in our heads, somewhere in the future making plans, or alternatively, in the past reliving something that is no longer here, all the while we are missing what is happening right before us. Yoga offers us an experience of the present. Perhaps this is the most significant gift it has given me. Yet, I cannot emphasize enough that it is a practice…not something you do and then all is figured out. It requires discipline, and returning to it. Yoga is more of a way of life than something one does on a mat. It is living life with intention and awareness in each moment.

Was it difficult at times to be an observer with a camera, as yoga is often a dedicated practice without observers?
Access was a challenge initially. As I started working, the doors opened slowly, yet once I had photographs to show and people had a sense of my intentions and work, things started to change. About a year in, after a few requests, I received an email from B.K.S. Iyengar’s studio on a cold winter morning in Minneapolis, inviting me to come spend some time working with the late master in Pune, India. This is one of the most influential yogis of all time, mind you, and I was allowed to come photograph over a couple days and interview him. Within a month or so, I was in India photographing his daily practice at the age of 94, a little over a year before he passed away.

I often work with Leicas, which allows me to work in low light with fluency and to be unobtrusive and quiet. As a yogi, I am able to understand the situation before me from both sides and to respond intuitively and in a way that is appropriate in the moment. For me, it is essential to not take the individual, or group, that I am working with out of their experience. They are there, doing their work, going within and I have been given an opportunity. It might be silent meditation, chanting a mantra or doing a pranayam, or doing strenuous asanas (postures). Whatever it is, I want to tap into that and somehow, using this medium, communicate the more subtle aspects of their experience. It is a lot to ask from photography.

There have been many books on yoga, what makes this book unique?
The work in Serpent in the Wilderness (Kehrer Verlag, 2018), my monograph exploring yoga represents my own walk through yoga. It is not intended to be all encompassing, or to represent yoga around the world in all of its forms. It’s my own exploration, my own contemplation, and where I’ve been led through the years. The photography is experiential and personal, and I am very much immersed in the subject matter.

I do not want to get too into what others are doing, but most photography related to yoga has a performative aspect to it, or is portrait-based, where a more directorial approach is taken on the part of the photographer. The subject is often represented in a superficial way, frequently with an emphasis on the physical body and postures, with commercial imperatives. The depths of yoga are rarely acknowledged or looked at, and we stay on the surface. In terms of Serpent in the Wilderness, I wanted to approach it in a very open way and to dig into the essence of what yoga is, both past and present. I employed a more documentary approach in making the work, without being tied to a traditional narrative structure. I created a variety of different types of photographs for the series, in order to point toward some of the more subtle aspects of the discipline. I am not attempting to illustrate what yoga is, but rather trying to peel back it’s many layers both as a photographer, and as a practitioner–to ask questions and understand something new.

When actually photographing, I’m tuned into what’s happening before me and trying to transmit the inner experience that the yogi in front of me is having. At least what the camera will allow for, that is. Certainly, my physical presence in the space (ashram, cave, classroom, etc.) has an affect on the individuals before me, and I think it is important to be honest about this. I am not a fly on the wall, nor is that my intention or objective. But I do work lightly, and in a very sensitive way. I was always clear about my intentions with others and fortunate to be invited into some truly incredible situations and contexts to make this work.

How did the National  Geographic story come about?
A day or so after Hurricane Sandy, I met Sarah Leen in Washington D.C. prior to her taking on the role as Director of Photography for National Geographic Magazine, a position she stepped down from last autumn, so she was familiar with my work. A few years later, I worked with Elizabeth Krist, a former senior photo editor, during a weekend workshop hosted by Visura in Stowe, Vermont. She brought the project to the magazine for consideration and perhaps further development, but it didn’t go anywhere at the time. As with most magazines, timing is critical, and the work has to align with the specific interests and needs of the moment.

I continued making my work, as time and resources allowed. When I was ready to publish the book, I showed exhibition prints and a book maquette to Sarah again, the project was much more resolved by then. She gave me some positive feedback on how I had developed things, yet it didn’t really lead anywhere at that time in terms of a story in the magazine. I published my monograph in 2018 with Kehrer Verlag, a German art book publisher, and in 2019 a different photo editor from National Geographic reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in working with them on a story about yoga for a forthcoming issue on Wellness. I was, so the idea of a story was born–looking at yoga through the lens of health and wellbeing.

The magazine wanted to commission some new original photography in addition to using a selection of the work that I made for the book. So we started to discuss where to go and what to do together. I had a number of ideas for locations and contexts that I wanted to photograph, and we began to do research and look into access. Specifically, I was interested in looking at the impact yoga is having in the lives of individuals who are incarcerated. I also hoped to photograph some of the various ways that yoga is helping veterans and active duty service members deal with the challenges of life in the military such as PTSD, TBI, addictions, among others. We eventually found a prison outside of San Diego that was willing to allow us in to photograph, for one class, on one Saturday morning. So, there was a bit of pressure in that hour and a half, to say the least.

As San Diego has a large military presence, when I was there to work in the prison, I also photographed in Navy hospitals, outpatient settings, clinics, and on base to look at that aspect of the story. It was a very fruitful collaboration and I think everyone that worked on the project was pleased with how it all came together. The feature, “Finding Calm”, was written by Fran Smith and published in the January 2020 issue of the magazine and online.

 

 

 

Featured Promo – Tanya Goehring

Tanya Goehring

Who printed it?
Blurb, Premium

Who designed it?
My rep/photo consultant Monashee. She is a master at pairing images from different shoots to create really nice stories and layouts.

Tell me about the images.
The images chosen were a combination of still life, portraits, and lifestyle. This was the first promo I was going to be sending out, so we wanted something that gave a good overview of my capabilities and style with an emphasis on how I approach storytelling and how I move between people, places, and objects fluidly. I shoot many different genres and what weaves it all together is my style. We also wanted to infuse my creative work (seen in some of the conceptual fashion work) into the promo so it felt connected through my overall style and creative viewpoint. In this promo, we chose to focus on conveying what I can do for a client and what I bring to the table creatively.

How many did you make?
I printed 40 promos. Because I’ve never sent a print promo before, I wanted to create a more comprehensive and special promo to introduce myself to a select few clients in a more impactful way.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This was my first ever print promo and it was ready to go out into the world just as covid hit… so you are one of the first people to actually receive it ;). I’m looking forward to sharing it with the people I had planned, however, it’s definitely a challenge when people are still working from home. It’s a bit awkward not knowing where people are and if it’s cool to send it. My plan was to send out a larger promo every 1-2 years and do smaller print promos 2 x per year. We’ll see what happens once the world turns around.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I’m very hopeful they are! I love print and I feel that seeing work in print helps show a client how it would and could be used and print is definitely one way that it would be used.

This Week in Photography: Guille and Belinda

 

 

I’ve been trapped on a farm for 13 months.

(Strange times.)

 

Given the state of the world, it’s not a bad place to ride out a plague year.

Most people would consider it paradise.

While so many others have to dodge people in cities, wondering whether the asshole jogger up ahead just spewed deadly virus-air in their jet stream, I’ve had no such issues.

While so many others chafe at the masks they must wear all day, I’ve spent each day with my face uncovered; not out of political belief, (you all know where I stand on that,) but rather because there are no other people around.

Living on a horse farm, at the edge of a box canyon, near the base of the Rocky Mountains, I never see people at all.

At least, no one beyond my family.

 

It’s been something of a fairy tale, as we’ve lived each day, our little clan, with the horses, dogs, cats, magpies, ravens, red-tailed hawks, rainbow trout, coyotes, gophers, deer, bear, and mountain lions. (I saw both mega-predators within a few days of each other, back in the fall.)

Yesterday, we had our first proper guest since September, as a photographer I met during the Denver reviews stopped by on his way home, and we went for a socially distanced walk.

It’s hard to believe I went half a year without seeing anyone but my family here, but this pandemic reality is anything but normal.

Living like this, while preferable to getting Covid in a Brooklyn bakery, (which happened to a dear friend of mine,) has been a bit of a mind-fuck, for sure.

It’s made things that might normally be ordinary seem symbolic, and the oddity of the local culture, which was built by Spanish colonists centuries ago, seem all the more evident.

Such is life.

But today, I looked at a photo book that reflected my experience back to me, as if through a window into Bizarro reality, where things seemed the same but terribly different. (While I’m a total Marvel movie-head, I was a sucker for the Superfriends cartoons on TV back in the early 80’s.)

 

Bizarro Superman

 

I opened up “The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Illusion of an Everlasting Summer,” by Alessandra Sanguinetti, sent to me in September by the fine folks at MACK in London, and am glad I did, as it put my life in the context of so many other rural-dwellers, populating backwater outposts of the former Spanish Empire, here in the 21C.

I requested this book a while back, in #2020, and then forgot I did, as my brain has turned to mush, and fortunately, so many books have come in since then.

But when I saw the date-stamp on the box, I had a feeling what might be inside, and got excited, as I saw the first part of this project ages ago, when I began exploring the photo blogosphere in early 2009.

Not to skip too far ahead, but that thought went though my mind, as I was looking at the book.

I thought, “I remember loving some of this work in 2009.”

Then, I turned the page, and the photo had a calendar on the wall that said 2009.

These days, it’s easy to find kismet in the tiniest of details. (And I had the same experience, feeling like the editors read my mind, while looking at Mark Ruwedel’s excellent MACK book a couple of months ago.)

 

To get back to the beginning, this book features a lengthy series the artist made about two children, daughters of worker’s on her family’s estate in the back country of Argentina. Her subjects later became her friends, and we learn in the introduction that the land has since been sold. (ED note: this section of the article has been corrected, and further details will be available at the end of the piece.)

They managed to grow up in one of the few enclaves of the former Spanish Empire that might be more remote than the one on which my wife was raised, and we’re rearing our kids.

But the horses, chickens, big skies, broken fences, I recognized it all.

(Though I should admit our home and family farm are decidedly more First World. I don’t want to exaggerate.)

Irrigation ditches, kids playing pretend, roaming the country side, staying busy through their imaginations, it’s all there.

And in the opening essay, Ms. Sanguinetti writes of her subject’s desire to be singer, and or work with animals, and my daughter went though both of those phases as well. (Instead of a Youtube star, now she wants to be a dog trainer.)

This book undercuts much of the advice I often write, about having a book vary images sizes, or styles. It doesn’t break up the narrative, intersperse text, or really offer any bells and whistles at all.

Rather, because the narrative time-jumps, and the young girls become mothers, and all the images are great, and the printing quality is so high, the book holds your attention anyway.

(Rules are meant to be broken, and some books can keep you turning the pages without using new-style design tricks, so I guess it’s important to keep that in mind.)

 

The world, as I’ve written recently, is in the process of re-opening.

Our little bubble has been popped, as my children returned to school this week, and getting to play with other kids, to socialize in packs, to dunk on 8 foot basketball hoops, and re-engage muscles on the monkey bars, has made them happier than they’ve been in a long time.

Conversely, my daughter made a toast at dinner on Sunday night, (our last in official lockdown,) and thanked the three of us for giving her the best year of her life.

Our little fantasy-land might have been stultifying, but it also felt like there was magical fairy-dust in the air, giving us our own marooned life, in a sea of Trumpian chaos.

And her speech was a moment I hope to remember forever.

This book has that feeling, like we’re getting a window into a fantasy world that was existing right there, hidden in plain sight, in a quiet, remote corner of Planet Earth.

I’m sure you’ll love it.

I know I did.

To purchase “The Adventures of Guille and Belinda…” click here 

 

(ED Note from JB: I have amended this article, after a reader in Argentina brought additional details to my attention. Over the years, I somehow assumed that Ms. Sanguinetti was related to her subjects, and the book’s intro does not mention how they are connected. My Argentine source alerted me that Ms. Sanguinetti’s father actually owned a large “estancia,” which is the equivalent to an estate, fancy ranch, or hacienda in Argentina. Her subjects were daughters of poor farm workers who were in Alberto Sanguinetti’s employ, meaning there was a significant class difference between them, and an inherent power dynamic imbalance in the relationship. This video, which MACK posted to Youtube, indicates that the class difference was vast enough that when they first met, one of the girls assumed Alessandra was from a different country, even though she was raised in Argentina since the age of 2. They also use the term “estancia” to speak of the main house, where Ms. Sanguinetti lived. None of this means we should dismiss the value of the work, or that the photos are less excellent, but it is very different from my incorrect belief that the women were all related, and of equal status.)

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Greg Funnell

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist:  Greg Funnell

My interest in photography has always been in that of the unobtrusive observer. I want my work to feel as authentic and as involved as possible whilst highlighting the details and moments that I want to dwell on momentarily. Over the years I have been drawn to photograph sports and events that are slightly out of the ordinary. I find the contest itself takes all the attention of the crowds; the drama, spectacle and theatre that surrounds it then becomes a ripe arena for photography. There is something about the nature of sports and competition that gets to the very heart of our tribal roots.

To see more of this project, click here.

 

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art-buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.