This Week in Photography: In the Mood for Love

 

 

 

Someone was selling firewood.

In a truck.
By the side of the road.

I saw it this morning.

(Winter is coming.)

 

 

 

 

 

It’s August 11th, (high summer some places,) and my kids just went back to school.

My daughter is in 5th grade, and when I began this column, in September of 2011, she wasn’t born yet.

(It’s been a wild ride.)

Over the course of my time here, (week in, week out,) I’ve had the chance to travel to some pretty amazing places, and report back to you.

Beyond Derby, London and Amsterdam, all my city reports have come from here in the good old US of A.

 

Hotel room view, Amsterdam, Feb 2020
Taking a selfie in a room full of people talking selfies in the Eric Gyamfi exhibition, Foam, Amsterdam, Feb 2020

 

 

Off the top of my head, since 2011, I’ve written about Austin, Albuquerque, Carmel, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, LA, Marfa, Monterey, New Jersey, New Orleans, NYC, Portland, Santa Fe, San Diego, San Francisco, Taos, Tucson, and Washington, DC.

I’m a lucky guy.

As of now, I’m supposed to visit NJ, Chicago and New Orleans later this year.

 

Lake Michigan, Chicago, Oct 2021
The French Quarter, New Orleans, Dec 2021

 

So we’ll have plenty more travel content in 2022-3, with the attendant gallery, museum, restaurant reviews, etc.

It’s a far cry from pandemic lockdown, thank goodness, when so many people just stayed home.

(Including me.)

Traveling, visiting new ports of call, seeing new cities, tasting new foods…

Few things are better for our personal (and brain) development.

Doing new things makes new neural pathways in your brain, and every moment in a new travel environment counts as doing something new.

(Yes, that was 4 uses of new in one sentence.)

But getting to truly see the world, put my eyes on China and Japan, Australia and Brazil?

Egypt and India?

I mean, to see all of it?

I can’t even imagine.

Yet that’s the feeling I got, when I put down today’s book.

That I’d just taken a wild, elegant, extremely well-seen and well-crafted journey around world in the 21st Century.

The work felt current, fresh, edgy, and smart, with great technique.

But let me back up a second…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found two boxes at the bottom of the pile today, from March 2021.

Somehow, they’d been skipped, so of course they’re both vaulted to the top of the pile.

The first of them was called “Ibidem,” by Giovanni Del Brenna; seemingly self-published with a professional team.

But I’ll flip the script, for once, and share a bit of info from the back of the book.

One essay, by Carole Naggar was dated 2011, and I thought, that’s odd?

Why publish an essay written so long ago?

Then the copyright on the next page said 2012.

Yet my initial impressions were the book was super current and of the moment, and it was submitted in 2021?

Strange.

In an excellent footnote section at the end, the artist writes he was born in Genoa, Italy, (but never lived there,) raised in Brazil in a French school, and has lived in many other places.

It seems he comes honestly by his Sofia Coppola/”Lost in Translation,” globetrotting, “In the Mood for Love”/Wong Kar-wai, seen-it-all before, and I know the best noodle shop in 30 cities vibe.

 

“In the Mood for Love,” image courtesy of RogerEbert.com
“In the Mood for Love,” courtesy of The Criterion Collection and the NY Times

 

Saying how all cities are alike in some ways.

I love it.

As I turned the page, page after page, the photographs were standout.

The edit jumps at you, like a bored dog seeking affection.

Lots of dynamic use of color and light, with emotional energy.

Inspiring stuff.

And the design was on point too, with photos bleeding onto subsequent spreads, with smaller spreads mixed within, so you’re changing paper sizes constantly. While each spread connects to the next through fabulous color, and repeating motifs, like flying fish.

The photos challenge our sense of perception, with lots of figure/ground manipulations, use of repeating patterns, and then optical illusions like advertisements or painted buildings.

Just standout.

The design and photographs also wrong-foot us by reclaiming the gutter space, where most artists fear to tread.

(I mean, it’s literally called the gutter.)

Again and again, the gutter creates a symmetrical split, with vital info right there over the seam.

Scandalous!

I found the book to be flawless, right up until the end.

Page after page of nodding my head, saying, “Yes, that’s just right!”

And then towards the back, there was one image, of some guy in a jacket and tie in the light and shadow of a doorway, and it broke the spell.

Like, every single other photo I loved, but then why this guy?

Right afterwards, there were two traditional-type-explanatory-essays, and I felt they, too, were unnecessary.

(The pictures spoke for themselves, meaning-wise.)

 

 

 

 

I recognized photographs being made in Japan and China, Italy and France, but clearly there were many more locations I couldn’t place. The excellent thumb-nail index, at the end, tells us the book records travels from 2002-8, in those places, plus London, New York, Berlin, Hong Kong, and a host of other locations.

(In fairness, I did pick out a sleeping London banker on a train, and could recognize NYC on my second viewing.)

I kept saying to myself, as I looked, “Is that Italy, France, or somewhere else entirely?”

How do these things feel chic and generic, yet universal?

Which gorgeous city are we seeing in this photo?

Does it even matter?

With the index and footnotes, we get just the right bit of context, if we MUST know which city we were seeing, or what his travels were like, where his brother lived, all from the artist’s own perspective.

Ending there, followed by an insert in French and Italian, the book sticks the landing.

And last page credits Del Brenna, Teun van der Heijden, and Fred Ritchin as editors, and Heijdens Karwei for the design, so major kudos on this one.

So glad I found it at the bottom of the pile.

See you next week!

 

To purchase “Ibidem” click here 

 

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Randal Ford

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:   Randal Ford

As a young kid, I grew up skateboarding.  I loved the movement, flow and challenge of new tricks.  But I also gravitated towards the skate fashion, style and music.  While I haven’t skated in many years, I shot this personal project as a chance to jump back into that world.  I connected with a few young kids at a local skatepark who had unique looks and styles.  I wanted to shoot a combination of action, portrait, and lifestyle shots to show the entire experience of being at the park and skating with friends.  This multidisciplinary series dips into action, fashion and lifestyle photography.  It brought me right back to those days when I was kid, spending all my time at the skatepark.  The only thing that was missing was Nirvana.

To see more of this project, click here

Instagram 

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 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.

Featured Promo – Justin Cook

Justin Cook

Who printed it?
I work with Smartpress in Minnesota. Their ordering process is super simple, and they have file prep and print guides.

Who designed it?
I did! One of my best friends, photographer Jared Soares inspired me to make these zines. He makes some killer zine promos too.

Tell me about the images.
The images are a collection of my photos that I made in 2021 while on assignment, and from on-going personal projects, such as my work in Princeville, North Carolina, the oldest town in America founded by Black people, and its complicated relationship with the Tar River and climate change.

I love making zines because print is not dead, and my annual zine is a way to reflect on the year and celebrate my work and the people who helped me make it. Also, I often end up making images while on assignment that are never published, so it’s a way for those images to have life, and to see how my photographs speak to one another.

I am an avid fossil hunter, so at the end of the zine are photos from my fossil hunts in waterways of eastern North Carolina, where you can find the remains of prehistoric sharks and whales from when the eastern part of the state was an ocean millions of years ago.

For the cover, I chose a portrait of a huge old tree that is growing out of the Tar River. My friend and fellow photographer, Megan May, helped me light it as I waded out into chest deep water to make the photograph. I love making lit portraits of old trees using the same techniques I’d use to make a portrait of a person. The name “Old Growth” is a mantra for how I want to work and grow: slow and steady, like that tree.

How many did you make?
This is an edition of 25.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Once a year. I send them to editors I love and editors I’d love to work with. I made my own imprint called Tiburon, so I also sell them in my online store so everyone has access to my printed work. I also keep extra copies so I can give them to people I am photographing on long term projects so they can understand my work and see themselves in it.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I hope so! I often don’t hear back from editors, and many editors were not working in their offices during the pandemic so I have no idea if they see the zines. But I still make them because it’s a fun exercise.

This Week in Photography: The 70’s

 

 

 

 

Have you ever heard of Jack Reacher?

 

 

I was (mostly) unaware he existed until this year, when Amazon Prime dropped an easily-bingeable series, called “Reacher.”

At some point, I’d heard Tom Cruise starred in a movie or two called Reacher, and that a global fan base was pissed off about it, given how little he resembled the character.

 

Courtesy of Imdb.com

 

I’m mentioning it today, because a few weeks ago, I noticed a stack of soft-cover Reacher books on a new friend’s shelf.

He lent me one, and after I devoured it, he passed along 5 more.

I’m about to start the final book, so I have a better understanding of how this character, (and the extensive #1 best-selling book series Lee Child wrote based upon him,) could occupy such a powerful spot in the collective imagination of millions of people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s easy to see why people rejected Tom Cruise.

(Despite the fact he’s since become an actual super-hero, jumping out of planes and climbing the Burj Khalifa w/o a net.)

Jack Reacher is 6’5″, 250 lbs, and that fact is repeated again and again.

(In one book, they even call him Bigfoot and The Incredible Hulk.)

 

Courtesy of jack-reacher.fandom.com

 

His sheer size makes him attractive, as he’s a true badass, in all the important ways.

(Great at hand-to-hand combat, weapons trained, you name it.)

Beyond that, Reacher is always the smartest guy in the room, and the wisest.

It’s part Sherlock Holmes, (with all the great deductive reasoning,) part Mr. Wolf from “Pulp Fiction,” (able to fix any jam, and dispose of any body,) and part Batman, minus the cape and extreme wealth. (Reacher is basically a vagrant.)

The character just roams the world, (like David Carradine in “Kung Fu,”) helping people, free of charge, based upon a moral code he learned in the US Army. (Where he was a Major as a top-level MP.)

Interestingly, Lee Child is an Englishman, (born in Coventry,) so near as I can tell, he came up with the archetype of a Wild West gunslinger meets UFC champion, and sends him into one, violent, dramatic, insane-but-slightly plausible situation after another.

And people just can’t get enough.

Because they want to be Jack Reacher.

The want to have it all.

Be the biggest, the strongest, the smartest, the wisest, the most honorable, and to always get the girl.

Reacher owns nothing but a tooth-brush, and goes when and where he pleases.

He can take out seven bikers all by himself, and is therefore the embodiment of the type of American power most people see as slipping into the dustbin of history.

So there’s also a wistful nostalgia about the whole thing.

If Dirty Harry captured the American id of the crazy 70’s, Reacher is just right for the 2020’s, as he kicks ass, but also treats people with respect.

(Were you to meet Reacher in real life, you would feel seen, and understood.)

 

 

 

 

 

I mention all this today, having just put down a photo book.

The submission came in a year ago, so I had no idea what was inside the box, and was therefore surprised to see “Snapshots 1971-77” by Michael Lesy, published by Blast Books in New York.

(I reviewed another of his books a few years ago, which also featured images from a historical archive.)

That appears to be his thing, sifting through archives, (as we learn in the opening essay,) so this fits neatly into Michael Lesy’s life obsession.

He confirms this in the essay, but also drops an interesting theory on us:

“Looked at individually, as visual documents, they reveal- or allude to- the hopes, fears, and desires of the people who made them. Sometimes snapshots tell the truth, sometimes they lie, and sometimes they do both.

Looked at in large numbers- in batches of a dozen or a hundred or a thousand- they line up lie bits of colored glass in a kaleidoscope and form patterns… patterns of shared belief, patterns of shared meaning.”

I took that to mean if you glance at archives out of the corner of your eye, and digest image after image, you get a sense of a culture.

A place in time.

(And we’ve all heard the clichés about how to make a photograph meaningful: put it in a box for 40 or 50 years.)

The book features a host of snapshots scrounged from garbage dumpster; the outtakes of a San Francisco photo lab in the early-mid 70’s, but there are also some images from a photo lab in Cleveland.

(Not the tidiest premise, mixing them both up, but hey, you get what you get.)

I came away with a few impressions.

First off, Damn!, have Instagram filters, and the ease of cell-phone-camera operation, made regular people better at photography.

We’ve got a lot of bad crops, blurry images, and downright strange compositions overall.

The fashion is great, (as it is in all old pictures,) but mostly we see celebrations, or human gatherings.

Birthdays, weddings, confirmations, funerals, and drinking with one’s buddies.

There are a few images that would have been described as “racy” at the time, and one in which a topless, awkward woman is juxtaposed against a photo of a painting of a clown, which I thought was unnecessarily mean.

Overall, though, the book is fun.

It was a funky, crazy, powerful, illogical time, the 70’s, and I was reminded of “Airplane,” which mocked the whole era.

 

 

 

 

 

Just the other day, I encouraged my daughter to read a book alongside me, and we found “Deenie,” by Judy Blume, on a shelf in a closet.

 

 

It was written in 1973, and I was aghast at how much culture has changed.

Everyone was named Midge.

It was acceptable to insult people based upon appearances.

And there were words used that aren’t even in the dictionary anymore. (Have you ever heard of Klunk?)

I’m not sure I learned too much more about 1970’s America, looking at today’s photo book, but then again, I lived through it.

So maybe it’s important, that books like this explain the past to the future.

All those Gen Z kids need to know what it looked like back then, to understand where the world was, and where it’s going.

See you next week!

 

To purchase “Snapshots 1971-77” click here 

 

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Michael Greenberg

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:  Michael Greenberg

The Kung Fu Nuns (also known as the Cycling Nuns) are a large group of Buddhist nuns in Kathmandu who travel around Asia and other remote regions on bike spreading women’s rights. They travel in the hundreds and roll into villages known for oppressed women on mountain bikes (many of these areas bar women from riding bikes) and teach the women valuable life skills like engineering, how to drive, ride bikes, fix cars, etc… They also do an “Eco-Pad Yatras” (about 400 miles long or longer) on foot to pick up plastic litter and educate locals on environmentally friendly alternatives. They practice Shaolin Kung Fu for self-defense purposes and as a way to build confidence and inner strength.

To see more of this project, click here

Instagram

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 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: OOH Campaign For International Non-Profit

By Bryan Sheffield, Wonderful Machine

Concept: In-studio, on white, portraits of 2 client advocates. With various set-ups.
Licensing: Unlimited use of up to 10 images for 1 year.
Photographer: Lifestyle/portraiture specialist.
Client: International humanitarian non-profit

I recently helped one of our East Coast photographers quote on and negotiate a project for a well-known NGO. The creative brief from their ad agency described still photos showing the client advocates in heroic poses on a white background. The photos would be stripped into other backgrounds provided by the agency (and the agency would be handling the post-production).

The photos were intended for an OOH (Out of Home) campaign honoring those employees and would be primarily used on billboards and bus shelters in the U.S.

The photographer would be one of several photographers shooting subjects in different cities around the country.

Here is the estimate:

 

 

Fees

After creative calls with the agency and client, and with the understanding that the client wanted to stay within a $15k budget, I put the fees at $500 per unique image for each of the 10 images, totaling $5,000. They asked for the cost of additional images, and I priced each with a 10% discount at $450 each. The per-image fee is low for OOH use, but the photographer is a supporter of the non-profit’s cause and was eager to be a part of this project. I added $500 for the photographer’s pre-pro time to include meetings and securing crew and lighting equipment.

Crew

We included two assistants to make sure the photographer had enough help with lighting. We added a DigiTech to manage the files as well as run a Zoom remote viewing for the NYC-based agency not on set. These fees were consistent with previous rates the photog had paid these people on past productions. We added $1,000 for a producer to help book the studio, confirm crew, organize catering needs, and manage the remote viewing and client communications during the shoot.

Equipment

I included $1,100 for cameras, grip, and lighting rentals. The photographer brought their own cameras and lenses and rented lighting and grip from the studio. $500 was estimated by DigiTech for their needed gear rentals. I also included $350 for 3 hard drives.

Styling Crew and Expenses

We included $750 for a combo Hair/Makeup stylist. This rate was estimated by the stylist.

Locations

We included $1,300 for a studio rental day at a studio the photographer had worked in previously and found suitable. This fee included the studio cleaning fee.

Meals

$675 was estimated to cover a light breakfast, and lunch needs for 9 people on set. The $75pp also included simple craft services the photographer would bring to the set. Water, soda, snack bars, fruit, etc.

Covid Safety

We included $2,000 for third party on-site testing. The testing agency would bring PPE as well for the 9 folks on set.

Miscellaneous

We had $350 as miscellaneous expenses. This would include $200 of insurance for the photographer for, cover mileage and parking for the crew, as well as any additional snacks/beverages before or after their time on set each day, and tiny bit of buffer for any unforeseen expenses that might arise.

Post Production

Retouching was to be handled by client, we chose to not charge for the first edit in order to keep the estimate under $15k.

Client Provisions

We included a Client Provisions note that all talent, talent coordination & releases, wardrobe and props styling, as well as all image retouching, would be handled by the production company.

Results

The photographer was awarded the project, and the shoot was a huge success! OOH ads for the project were running this past winter up and down the East Coast I-95, as well as a few locations in Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, and SoCal.


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.

This Week in Photography: An Elegy

 

 

 

I published Jim Ferguson’s work in the column a while back.

(Probably five years ago, if I had to guess.)

 

 

 

 

I met Jim at the Filter Photo Festival in Chicago, but had already heard of him, as he was buddies with my client Allen.

I always encourage artists to build out their friend and peer network, (especially at festivals,) because no matter how much we cross our fingers and hope the gallerist/curator/publisher/editor across the table will give you your “big break,” as often as not, it’s your friends who hook you up.

(Anyone who’s gone to art school knows this is true, and of course it’s not like I invented the concept.)

Art education is literally built upon the idea that other peoples’ informed opinions help you grow.

Of course, knowing whom to trust is a learning process, and occasionally we all have to tune out the noise and listen to our internal compass.

But 9 times out of 10, if your peer network is telling you the same thing, that means something.

So when Allen said he and Jim did that for each other, and were in critique groups together, I took that as a good sign.

By the time I met Jim, I expected to like his work, and in fact I did.

He showed me a series of urban, abstracted (but not abstract) images he made that reflected his “compromised” vision.

As I recall, Jim had little-to-no depth perception, so his photographs flattened out the picture plane, to the point a viewer could sense how that type of vision might affect a person.

Most of his photos were black and white, and the compositions and tonality were also strong, so it was easy for me to include him in one of my lengthy, rambling articles featuring the best work I saw at Filter that year.

 

Images courtesy of jimfphoto.com

 

I’m pretty sure I bumped into Jim once or twice again in Chicago, but wouldn’t bet my life on it.

Regardless, I was impressed by the man, and his talent, but I meet more than a hundred photographers each year, (due to my regular travels on the festival circuit,) and that was that.

Not-quite-a-year ago, I noticed a book come in the mail, with Jim’s return address, so I chucked it in the submission pile with the rest of the books, and didn’t give it another thought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not long thereafter, (probably a month or two,) Allen reached out to tell me Jim had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, and was very ill.

The end was imminent, Allen wrote, and then he followed up a day or two later to tell me Jim had passed away.

It caught me off guard, because within a year or so, I’d also learned of the passing of two artists I’d reviewed at festivals: Paula Riff and Nicholas Fedak.

Everyone dies.

I get it.

But I have a near-photographic memory, (for faces as well,) so I remember almost everyone I’ve met in the photo world over the past 13 years.

(Since I attended my first portfolio review in 2009.)

And up until that point, everyone was still around, as far as I knew.

They say things come in threes.

I get it.

This, however, was no fun at all.

And as soon as Allen told me about Jim’s death, I realized eventually, I’d need to open the book package and see what lay inside.

Today is that day.

 

 

 

 

 

Two days ago, here in Taos, the season changed.

It went from high summer to late summer, and it happens every freaking year, right around now.

The light shifts, and if you didn’t live here, (and weren’t a photographer,) you might not notice.

But the temperature changes subtly as well, so you need a long-sleeve shirt and sweat-pants in the mornings, and an extra blanket at night.

My daughter actually grabbed a fleece jacket this morning, when she woke up, and I didn’t blame her.

While much of America basks in pure-summer-frivolity, at the end of July here, I start thinking about winter.

It’s strange, I admit, but then again, my next-door-neighbor still has lights on a Christmas tree, inside his insanely-expensive-but-abandoned barn, so things just work differently in New Mexico.

(I’m not in Jersey anymore, that’s for sure.)

 

 

 

 

 

Frankly, if Jim hadn’t passed away, I’m not sure I’d be reviewing this book.

It’s a self-published, Blurb-book-type offering, called “Deflated Xmas,” and inside it has the subtitle: Ohhh, the plasticity!

The pictures read like point-and-shoot-pics, (more likely from a cell phone,) and given the rigorous craftsmanship of Jim’s previous work, I was taken aback.

This doesn’t seem like a serious art project, but it is fascinating as a cultural artifact, without question.

(Where I live, houses don’t look like this.)

And no one has inflatable Santas.

Nor reindeers, Olafs, or Abominable Snow Men.

But in Chicago, (or perhaps the Greater MidWest,) they’re obviously popular, because Jim was able to fill a small book with images of sad, wilted, nearly-dead Santas.

What stands for celebration, joy, and seasonal good cheer, when they’re inflated, reads as garbage when they’re crumpled on the brown, dead grass.

(Though more than one image featured a verdant lawn, so I guess Sad Santa sat out there for a while.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

True story: I had an inflatable Elmo balloon in my “Party City is the Devil” exhibition at the Harwood Museum of Art, here in Taos, in 2019.

(It closed one month before Covid was discovered in Wuhan.)

One night, a new janitor walked through my show, decided Elmo must be trash, (despite the accompanying placard, and the fact he was tethered to the wall,) so he cut the ribbon and threw it away.

The museum called me the next day, mortified, and they actually went to Santa Fe to get a replacement.

Deflated Elmo was so pathetic, the janitor could not conceive of him as art, so tossed him in the bin.

 

 

And that’s what this book feels like.

It’s a well-observed take on a strange-ass phenomenon, one I definitely have not seen before.

(Which makes it review-worthy.)

I don’t know the circumstances under which this book was made, and I can’t ask Jim Ferguson.

I feel like he’d be psyched to have it reviewed, and perhaps he used this little side-project as a distraction, while his body betrayed him.

I guess we’ll never know.

But this summer has felt like an inflection point, where big changes are afoot, even beyond the calendar ticking from high to late summer.

And no one really knows what’s up ahead, do they?

See you next week, and I hope you’re enjoying some relaxation, or vacation, should you have the chance to take it down a notch.

 

To purchase “Deflated Xmas,” click here 

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Jay Fram

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:  Jay Fram

Tahlequah is a small town in Cherokee County, Oklahoma. It’s in the northeast corner of the state, with rolling hills and lush greenery, and it’s where I grew up. Earlier this year, I leveraged my personal history there to land a job to produce a “rural America” image library for a major telecommunications company. I was really excited to produce this high-level project in Tahlequah, to feature the people and places of my hometown and bring some economic benefit to the area. I assembled a crew and hired a local to help me connect with potential subjects, but a few weeks prior to the shoot date the client killed the project. I was disappointed but decided to take advantage of all the time and effort invested by shooting it anyway, as a personal project.

I set out to document the land and the people of my hometown as a sort of straightforward homecoming, but I found myself unable to ignore the political and geographic polarizations that are so prominent in our country in this moment. They’re nothing new for me – as a kid with country roots living in big progressive cities for the past thirty years, I’ve often felt a tension between my love for the land and family friends of my hometown, and my desire to create some distance from it. I felt pulled to make some sort of statement about that tension through this work, and indeed there were some captures in the first edits of this series that carried a more cynical gaze. In the end, though, that wasn’t the story I wanted to tell.

Instead, what I found myself making was a tender reminiscence: a portrait of generous people and hard work in a rural part of middle America, the close heaviness of heat and humidity, undergrowth, weeds, open spaces, tradition. Rather than an uncritical celebration or a caricature of rural America, I wanted to hone this project to give a sense of how it feels to actually live there, from someone who can honestly say, “I grew up just down the road.”

Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Three Springs Ranch organic farm owned by Mike and Emily Oakley in Rocky Ford, Oklahoma
Cherokee County, Oklahoma
Three Springs Ranch organic farm owned by Mike and Emily Oakley in Rocky Ford, Oklahoma
Cherokee County, Oklahoma
Family owned logging company Denton Timber on job site near Proctor, Oklahoma.
Cherokee County, Oklahoma
Cherokee County, Oklahoma

To see more of this project, click here

Instagram

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 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: Ecru: Pam Lau

Photograph by Gladys Lou (2021)
Photograph by Kat Castro (2021)
Photograph by Mark Gallardo (2021)


Ecru


Founders: Pam Lau and Jimmy Vi

How did you and Jimmy meet and is this your first collaboration?
Pam: Jimmy and I met at a photowalk in 2016. At the time we were part of two different grassroots community arts groups in Toronto. Over the years I watched him quit his job as an art director in advertising, teach himself filmmaking, and transition into a music video and commercial director.

In 2019 we loosely explored starting an agency together and called it Ecru. We ran into the typical problems; we lacked strategy and direction. We were all creative people and we had no business dev, ops, or finance. We were just friends that wanted to work on projects together. One of us, Kerwin, ended up branching off and starting his own creative studio

Jimmy and I decided to pivot Ecru away from creative services and instead focus on mentorship and community building.

Tell us about the name of the program.
Jimmy came up with that one. It was 11:55 p.m. We had just spent something like 10 hours working on the grant application, and we had five minutes to come up with a name before the deadline closed. We started rapid-fire brainstorming options and this one was short and catchy enough.

How did this free program come about?
We applied for a grant through ArtReach; a funder via Toronto Arts Council and the City of Toronto mandated to support high-quality arts-making programming for marginalised youth. It took us three tries; the first two years we were rejected. After each time we sought feedback and reworked the program and in 2021 we received funding to pilot the first cohort of ‘Ideas From I’.

The 2021 grant covered 5-9 participants. We received funds from a private donor and were able to expand to 12 participants and offer mico-grants to put towards development of the concepts they made the treatment decks for in the program. This year we’ve received the next phase of funding from ArtReach and have a partnership with Gallery 44 in Toronto where participants can get access to studio space and gear to shoot their projects in the Fall.

How did your career in photography get started and what are you hoping to build with this program?
I’m self-taught and started taking photos in high school, never thinking that I could turn it into a career. I started freelancing during school because I always had a camera on me, and after graduation, I started working at a trade publication called Marketing magazine (acquired by Strategy magazine) that reported on the Canadian marketing, media, and advertising industry. I got to sit in on CDs deliberating over what creative was award-winning and I started to build my network from the conferences and trade shows that I covered.

It was very lonely in the beginning of my freelance career and I felt like I had nobody in my corner. Jimmy and I talked about the stress and high-pressure we put on ourselves to make it work, when it felt nearly impossible. I’m starting to recognize it now as a lack of internal validation after growing up feeling guilty or divergent for wanting something other than what others expected of me. The words “You can do it” and “I believe in you” are extremely powerful when said earnestly. With this program we want to be that extension of support that our younger selves lacked for the next generation.

How does one get involved?
Follow us on Instagram (@ecru.club), check out the application form, and send it to someone who comes to mind. We’re also looking to bulk up the micro-grant portion and are open to sponsorship and donations from individuals, production houses, agencies and brands that identify with the goals of the program.
application form is here

Where can find out the specifics of the program?
We’re sharing the application form, testimonials from alum, and answering questions this week on Instagram at @ecru.club.

What does the program offer?
As photographers and directors, vision and concept is at the core of what we do. ‘Ideas From I’ teaches the importance of communicating your ideas through imagery and words. Participants learn about referencing and develop a concept by analysing and drawing a personal connection to what media and art they respond to.

We walk them through creating a treatment deck and effectively pitching it, and support them through the groundwork of pre-production by offering the resources for them to bring their idea to life. We support a range of experience because even if you don’t know how to technically execute something yourself, you can find collaborators and bring a team together that can make it happen.

Most of all, we’re doing it in an environment where we want participants to feel seen, heard, respected, and validated.

 

The Daily Edit – GEO Magazine: Storm Chasers by Laure Andrillon

 


Geo Magazine

Photographer: Laure Andrillon
Producer: Nadège Monschau
Photo Editors: Nataly Bideau and Magdalena Herrera 

Heidi: How did this assignment with GEO come about?
Laure: I pitched a story idea about storm chasing to GEO in December and this reporting trip happened in May of 2021, which is the beginning of the chasing season in the Tornado Alley. The magazine was interested in the idea of extreme tourism but also intrigued by the environmental aspect of the story, as storm chasers often contribute to field research around tornadoes and their behaviors. There is a lot of unknown when working on such a story. I couldn’t really tell my editors beforehand where we would go, what kind of landscapes to expect, because there is no set route and we would just follow the weather. Although we all hoped I would get to witness a tornado, nothing was certain. Pretty early on, we decided to make this a first-person story about the experience itself: my editors told me to photograph the waiting as much as the thrills, and to take a lot of notes about smells, varying temperatures, whether the air felt humid or dry, in order for my captions to convey a sensory experience.

Did they introduce you to the meteorologists?
I did some research online and had multiple phone conversations with several meteorologists before I decided to travel with Lanny Dean, a 46 years old storm chaser from Oklahoma. He was experienced (he had already witnessed about 600 tornadoes when I met him), good at explaining the scientific side of his job and importantly, he really was a character. He usually only takes 3-4 guests at a time and likes to get to know them really well, so I thought I would be able to tell his personal story and also understand why his guests were fascinated by storms to the point of dedicating their only annual vacation to chase them.

How long was this assignment?
The tour itself was a week long so my total traveling time from California was around ten days. I initially thought of this as a one-off assignment but it may become part of a long term project about alternative ways to experience the wilderness.

How did you earn their trust?
We drove about 1700 miles together, so it gives you quite a bit of time to chat. There were two storm chasers, Lanny Dean and Tyler Schlitt, their three guests, and me. We would share meals, stretch our legs together at every gas station. We tried to laugh together at our own disappointment when a gigantic supercell turned into nothing before our eyes, or when we failed to see a rare cold-air funnel cloud because it took us to long to get out of the van. When we experienced our first tornado from up close, in McAlester, Oklahoma, it created a deep bond between the other guests and I. It was a dream for them and I was there to see it fulfilled. There was a lot of joy but also an element of fear. It is a very unique experience to share with someone.

How did the project inform your photography moving forward?
This project encouraged me to pay more attention to the quiet moments when I photograph. I knew a lot of talented and fierce photographers had already captured the tornadoes in a way I wouldn’t be able to achieve with no previous chasing experience and with so little time. My editors at GEO wanted me to convey the internal feeling of searching for the tornadoes and to give a glimpse of the other side of storm chasing: it’s not always glamorous!

I know you recently finish the program at ICP, what are your future photo goals?
I just moved back to San Francisco after I graduated from the documentary photography program at the International Center of Photography in New York City. I am hoping to find a balance between doing assignment work and developing long term projects. I am mostly interested in stories about the environment, health and aging, and the exploration of alternative lifestyles. I am currently preparing for two exhibitions in the Fall, at the Encontros da Imagem photo festival in Braga, Portugal, and at the Festival for Ethical Photography in Lodi, Italy. I am very excited to explore different spaces where my projects can live: in magazines, on social media, on gallery walls and in public spaces. It gives me the opportunity to work with a variety of editors that often have very different perspectives on my work, which makes it a very good learning experience.

This Week in Photography: City vs Country

 

 

 

I just had some friends in from Houston.

(Texas clears out in summer.)

As is our custom with visitors, I took them on a big hike around the farm and adjoining neighborhood.

It was a gorgeous, sunny morning, perfect for a nice long walk, and as they’d already acclimated to the altitude, all was good.

Except for Houston. (The dog. And her name is pronounced HOW-ston, like the street in lower Manhattan.)

 

Houston St, NYC. (Image courtesy of Joshua Bright and the NYT.)

 

Houston, from Houston, had the time of her life.

A city-dog, born and raised, she was used to civilized walks around her Texas-urban neighborhood. (Meaning, low-density, car-driving city life, unlike NYC.)

Apparently, Houston has a best friend in Houston named Gracie, and they play together in dog parks.

(Those small patches of land devoted to off-leash dogs; a city-dog salvation.)

Here, however, on a 60 acre spread, with hills, cliffs, a stream, and an acequia, Houston went ape-shit.

For real.

That cute little terrier was sprinting around, smelling everything, rolling in horse dung, splashing through the water, and generally acting like a proper-wild-animal.

Given she resembled a black-and-white version of the famous dog from “Frazier,” it was quite the visual, and definitely entertaining.

Little Houston even snarled at, and backed down, our part-Pit Bull Haley, who is Wild-West-battle-tested.

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it, but that little city-dog came out to the country, and made it her turf.

Well done, Houston!

 

Houston. (Image courtesy of her parent.)

 

 

 

 

Of course, I had no idea she’d inspire the column.

I hadn’t looked at a book yet, much less grabbed one from the submission stack.

But once I did, everything fell into place.

I happened to pull a package from Wray Sinclair, which arrived in August of 2021, so I was clueless as to what laid within.

I found “Kyanite Miners,” a well-produced, self-published book, which was made in a remote, rare-mineral mine in Central Virginia.

One of my oldest desires as a critic is for a book, (or any work of art, really,) to show me something I haven’t seen before.

To introduce me to a world, a micro-community, or subculture that gives me more insight into existence than I had before.

These days, I review pretty-much every book that comes in, but some obviously are able to open my eyes, (or my mind,) while others leave me wanting more.

Today’s book, “Kyanite Miners,” fits the bill, because I’ve never even heard of Kyanite before.

Much less had I any knowledge of the landscape or culture of Central Virginia, so that’s one point for Wray Sinclair right there.

(Yes, I use the point system IRL, but only brought it to the column last week, for Nancy Baron’s cool ‘Zine.)

The book opens with a contextualizing essay, (as so many do,) but it took a slightly more philosophical approach, specifically referencing the detrimental nature of the Urban/Rural divide in America.

We all know it’s there, and I remember calling out John McCain, in 2008, for his coded Republican Presidential campaign slogan, “Country First,” which is a double-entendre, if you think about it.

 

(Image courtesy of Mary Altaffer/AP, via the NYT.)

 

These days, Country folk love to mock City folk, and vice versa.

Hating the other side has become a force of habit, yet how many people ask themselves whether America can properly function without either crew respecting the other?

Everyone knows that personal interaction can minimize prejudice, but also that Americans have self-segregated into area-bubbles that reinforce their worldview.

(And that’s likely to get worse, once people start choosing their State based upon abortion access, or a lack thereof.)

 

 

 

 

 

So, to get to the point, I like this book.

The portraits are well-made, and show the subjects in a respectful light.

(This is one of those books where the dudes will appreciate the way they’re depicted.)

The flow of portraits, “action” shots, and landscapes is good, especially as it’s a short book, and I love that the proper “establishment shot” is saved for the end.

(Most editors would have started there.)

The closing credits admit that Kyanite Mining was a client here, so we need to keep that in mind.

These images were likely NOT made solely as art, or a personal project, but I don’t think we ought to consider that a black mark on the artist.

(Everyone’s got to eat, after all.)

Wray wrote me a nice note, in which he admitted being a fan of the column, so I’ll return the favor.

Nice job, Wray!

Thanks for sending your book along.

As to the rest of you, see you next week!

 

To purchase “Kyanite Miners” click here

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Paul Edmondson

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:  Paul Edmondson

State of Main

For the last 25 years I’ve been taking extensive road trips across the American west, searching for desolate locations for my landscape photography work. Most often on these trips I try to avoid driving on major highways and instead choose the smaller, county roads that crisscross the country. As a result of this slower, off-the-beaten-path approach to road travel, I started to become curious about the towns, street corners, buildings and farms that occupy so much of rural America.

After Trump won in 2016, it felt like many of the communities I was passing through started expressing the MAGA ethos in ways that I never could truly understand or grasp. And the visuals relating to American patriotism suddenly seemed politically charged and deeply partisan. But there was also the timeless and sometimes quirky small-town iconography that often caught my eye. I wanted to see if there was a way to combine these different elements into a cohesive body of work that expressed my own interpretation of today’s small-town America. I was also deeply inspired by Walker Evans, Stephen Shore, and many others.

When I started the series in late 2020, the working title was simply ‘Main Street’, but as the project neared completion I asked my gallerist Jenn Singer what else she thought might work – was there a more effective way of describing what the images conveyed? We agreed on ‘State of Main’, which I think more accurately describes the work. In many ways the series is an expression of the American dream – for opportunity, independence, and patriotism. But it’s also a study of hard times, abandoned homes and shuttered stores. It’s these dualities that interest me the most, and how in the end, it’s nature that almost always seems to win.

Paul Edmondson is an award-winning photographer best known for his minimalist landscapes of the American West, often in the places where humans and the natural environment intersect. He lives with his family in Seattle, Washington.

To see more of this project, click here

Instagram

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 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.

Featured Promo – Eric Thompson

Eric Thompson

Who printed it?
The folded poster promo and packaging was printed by Paper Chase Press in Los Angeles, and the book was printed by Small Editions in Brooklyn, NY. Custom printed washi tape by Continental Tape in Deer Park, NY.

Who designed it?
They were both designed by me.

Tell me about the images.
The images in the folded poster are from a few projects, some personal, and some commercial – They are intended to portray a glimpse into what I do as a photographer, for hire or otherwise. They were chosen to give a good sense of color, energy, and variety in subject matter that I feel is important to represent in my work.

The photobook [Nearest Neighbor] is entirely personal, released as a book and as a gallery show as well. The work in it speaks most honestly to my personal style and viewpoint, and is very close to my heart. It was a tough project to take on from the ground up – learning how to publish and lay it out on my own while trying to retain the integrity and quality of something more bespoke and custom was a huge challenge. It features photos taken around the world while travelling for work mostly, using either a 55mm Voigtlander Bessa III 667W or an 80mm Fuji GF670, which I scanned myself on a Nikon Coolscan 8000/9000. As a project that spanned several years, my gear either changed or broke down, but 6×7 film became the only format I used for quite some time. The photos are meant to explore other peoples spaces + environments, how they are inhabited, shaped, and how often they seem so strange and peculiar from a foreign persons’ eye.

How many did you make?
For the folded posters, I believe it was 150, and for Nearest Neighbor, an edition of 300.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is the first set that I have sent out, and I have just completed a printed portfolio with an edition of 50 for 2022. I plan on doing one photobook/lookbook style portfolio per year and two folded posters per year, with the intention of finding specific creatives and art producers to direct them towards as opposed to casting a wide net.

Bookmaking and designing materials [when it comes to my work] has become something I really enjoy, I currently have several books that I would love to make – they end up coming from the strangest places, I kind of feel my way through them. It’s the one thing aside from shooting that continually gives me joy, it’s a bit narcissistic but I love looking through my own photos and creating cohesive collections. I have a deep relationship with them and the stories they evoke in me, so I feel like they’re better in a printed form, out in the world rather than on a hard drive.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
We will see! I have found that having a variety of printed material makes it more likely for something to land in the hands of creatives, when they may not want to take a full book, they are likely to take a small folded poster. My personal photobook has been effective, especially seeing as i’ve done a piss poor job of getting it out there. It has gotten me some work over the years, and for me is really great way to spark a conversation on why I love photography – also something I can speak to at length very easily.

This Week in Photography: Riders on the Storm

 

 

 

 

I’m binge-watching “Power” at the moment.

(Season 6, the last of the original series, before it begat 3 spinoffs.)

 

Courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

 

 

What brought me to this moment, (having now invested countless hours in a televised story,) is a classic case of Capitalism, straight out of one of my Economics textbooks at Duke University, back in the day.

They even have a name for it: the drug-dealer model.

Give someone a free sample of a (potentially) addictive product, and you may have yourself a customer for life.

The tactic is so good, it even works on people who know the potential risk.

In my case, a few weeks ago, I realized a new season of “Outlander” had come and gone, which meant I could probably watch it with a free week of Starz, courtesy of Amazon Prime.

(The world knows no better Capitalist than Future-Emperor Jeffrey Bezos.)

Now, in admitting I like “Outlander,” I’m outing myself as a sucker for high-quality-production values, and solid acting, in an immersive, period show, featuring great-looking leads with cool accents.

OK.
You got me.
It’s true.

But even if you take out the period element, (I majored in History as well as Economics in college,) if a show is truly immersive, and does a deep-dive into a subculture that teaches me about the world, I’ll probably get hooked.

So after I finished “Outlander,” knowing full-well I might risk overstaying my free week, I jumped into “Power” through the backdoor.

I began with a 2022 Spinoff, “Power Book IV: Force,” because I thought Joseph Sikora did a great job in “Ozark,” and his face was on the photo/graphic advertising the show.

 

Courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes

 

Set in Chicago, it’s only one season, so I was quickly ready for “Power,” Season 1, the NYC-based OG of the Power-Verse, (produced by low-key, mega-mogul 50 Cent,) and it’s been living in my brain ever since.

Do you want to know their trick?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drop the viewer into the middle of an ongoing story.

Whatever semblance of stability might have existed with the main characters, as the series begins, interrupt that status quo with some SERIOUS drama.

Basically…shit goes wrong, right away.

And then… it never stops.

Drama, violence, sex, loyalty, betrayal, shady-backroom-dealing, exploding skulls, slit necks, slip-skirts slipping off in yet another sex scene… just never let it stop.

I’ve since learned that “Power” was one of the most highly watched shows in the history of Pay Cable, (or what used to be Pay Cable,) and I’m not surprised it spawned ongoing storytelling.

Once you have, (against all odds,) created rock-solid, original IP, that shit doesn’t EVER stop making money.

(It’s why we have Harry Potter theme parks.)

And even though “Stranger Things” and “The Boys” haven’t even ended their runs yet, deep down, we know we’ll be absorbing some version of that IP until we die.

Now, where was I?

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I watched “Power,” paying attention to the story-telling tricks, (including taboo-for-shock-value, to keep them hooked,) it made me think of one story-telling, IP-Empire in particular.

I was consistently reminded of “Sons of Anarchy” which I binge-watched on Netflix 4 or 5 years ago.

(Honestly, who can remember?)

 

Courtesy of Imdb.com

 

SoA first taught me the cardinal rule of addictive television: Make crazy shit happen to your characters, ALWAYS, and then amp it up, CONSTANTLY.

If you never give the characters a minute to breathe, and are willing to put outer-edge violence and violation on-screen, with good actors in a fascinating sub-culture, you’re good to go.

“Sons of Anarchy,” created by Jersey Boy Kurt Sutter, was set in an Outlaw biker gang in Southern California.

I knew nothing about that world, but quickly learned some Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs function like Mexican drug cartels. (Who were also featured prominently in the show.)

Bit by bit, SoA shares a fictionalized version of the Biker-Gang-world, complete with its own lingo, and set of rituals.

To be clear, (as far as I know,) not all Motorcycle clubs are gangs, nor criminal organizations.

But some are, which means if you see a certain type of biker, with a certain type of cut, (or leather sleeveless vest,) and he comes up behind your car on his chopper, looking like a movie-bad-guy-henchman, well, you let that guy pass as soon as he wants to.

Which I did.
Yesterday.

As I drove my daughter to her summer camp, where she’d be playing a pirate in a local children’s production.

My daughter asked about the biker on the chopper, and even though she’s 9, it quickly led to a conversation about Capitalism, and the international market for illegal drugs, which is dominated by organized, criminal gangs in every country on Earth.

(I swear, that’s just how it happened.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I told her how to read the Motorcycle club, and local chapter, from the guy’s cut, or sleeveless leather vest.

(Brother’s Keeper, Alamosa, Colorado.)

Then I said, because selling “drugs” was illegal, but people still wanted to buy them, someone always had, and always would, rise up to sell it to them.

(The concepts of Supply and Demand are the core of Economics.)

She asked about which countries had big Mafias, so we discussed Italy, Mexico, Russia, China, and how as far as I knew, the Yakuza mostly stayed in Japan.

All the while, the guy on the chopper was right in front of us, cruising the highway into Taos.

Out of nowhere, the dude had became an official “topic of discussion,” which lead to a chat about the Global Drug Economy, with an inquisitive 9-year-old.

I’m telling you, those bikers have a SERIOUS presence.

 

 

 

 

 

OK, let’s keep it moving.

Photographer Nancy Baron, from Southern California, reached out a couple of weeks ago, and offered to send a little ‘Zine she’d just made.

From what I gathered, it had something to do with bikers on the highway.

In Southern California.

“Riders on the Ten” opens with a backwards orientation, and while I did peek at the accompanying post-card, which told me where to be begin, the other side says “Do Not Enter/ Wrong Way,” so design-wise, it’s a nice clue.

(Score one point for Nancy Baron.)

The title makes me think of “Riders on the Storm,” by The Doors, so then I’ve got Jim Morrison in my head.

And I fucking love that song.

 

 

(Score another point for Nancy Baron.)

From there, after the opening paragraph, informing us it’s the road between LA and Palm Springs, what you see is what you get.

(The front cover is actually a portly guy in a funny-visor helmet, on a Vespa, which is funny, so one more point for Nancy.)

It’s such a cute, little ‘Zine.

None of the dudes is as menacing as the guy we saw here in New Mexico, but just as you’re settling in to the whimsy, we have a run of images where the riders start staring Nancy down.

It’s such a tonal change, you notice right away.

And loved it, as I write here, all the time, how much I enjoy a good change of pace, to help hold a viewer’s attention.

Just when I wondered how far she’d take the stare-down pictures, we get a photo of a cop, giving us the peace sign, and then the ‘Zine is done.

Short and sweet.

Which is more than I can say for this week’s column.

See you next week!

 

To purchase “Riders on the Ten” click here

 

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Jim Wright

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:  Jim Wright

ARTIST’S STATEMENT / JOURNALS

“What began some years ago as a way to explain to my family
exactly what I did for a living has turned into a lifelong project that
now involves meditation, writing, painting, photographs, clip art and
at times a “pop art” documentation of my journey through life.
Throughout the years, my journals have evolved from a way to
document past shoots into a way for me to actually document
myself on a more ethereal level. I use hints of people, place and
things to remind myself of the many courses and adventures that I’ve
not only taken in my career but more importantly my life. I like to
refer to many of the pages as “visual streams of consciousness”
based upon mood and emotion. Some of the written vignettes are
based in truth some in fiction. It is then left to the viewer to decide
which they believe. The painting, mixed media and graphics derive
from my love all things in an artist realm. I really enjoying editing and
rearranging graphics in order to send a new message. And of
course, the photographs which are my true passion are a
culmination of all of the previously mentioned elements.”
-Jim Wright
6/30/22

To see more of this project, click here

Instagram

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 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 – Roe v Wade: Kate Fanning


Roe v Wade: Denver Protest: Patagonia

Photographer: Kate Fanning

Heidi: How would you define your photography style?
Kate: I would describe my style as honest. I’m not interested in perfect or highly manipulated images. There’s no grit there, no story. I want my work to represent and feel like the moment I was in. While I want viewers to see the way I see things, more importantly, I want them to decide how my images make them think or feel.

What moments appealed to your eye?
Opposites. Moments of juxtaposition. Messages written on the backs of signs, while the sign-holders moved forward. Fluorescent flashes of cardboard against heavy, black clouds. Mighty impactful phrases with so few words. A bright, rainbow pride flag, draped across the gloomy, gray facade of our Capitol building – a beacon of hope for equality, while standing in the trenches of inequality.

What moved you the most about this story? 
The American flag flying upside down. It was a gut-punch that I wasn’t expecting. I’m a Daughter of the American Revolution, and I come from a long line of veterans. Respect for our flag and country was instilled in me from a young age. When I wanted to buy Chuck Taylors in the eighth grade with an American flag print, my Mom said, “I won’t let you wear something on your feet that we fought so hard to defend.” I stood at my Father’s and Grandfather’s gravesites, listened 21-gun salutes that dropped me to my knees, and watched as their flags were lifted off their coffins, folded with such meticulous care and finally, handed over. My siblings and I grew up as flag code defenders, and I know what it means to fly it upside down. When I saw those stars waving in the wrong spot, I felt it – we’re in trouble.

What surprised you the most about this project?
Most surprisingly, were the intimate details that women so courageously shared. Stories of their lives scribbled with Sharpies on posters that lined a stormy sky. Skystories, I thought. Stories of loss, stories of rape, stories of religion, politics, grief, and anger. Stories that had nowhere else to go, except for up. I found myself wanting to tell everyone ‘thank you’. Thank you for sharing your trauma, thank you for showing up, thank you for fighting for the least of us, thank you for not quitting…please…don’t quit.

What do you hope for, for those who can become pregnant?
I hope it’s their choice. I hope their family is supported. I hope they get to raise children in a country that values babies AND parents. I hope their kids don’t grow up to fight this same damn fight.

Featured Promo – Paul Treacy

Paul Treacy

Can you tell me about your promo?

No one else is involved in this endeavour. Nor is it a promo piece. Rather it’s an exercise in focusing my mind.

I’ve been a contributor to Millennium Images here in London since 2003. However, I’ve not always been consistent in supplying material for curation, particularly during a period when I was primarily a carer to my two sons. So in an effort to produce work I needed some kind of facility.

Between 2008 and 2020 I had been making work in my neighbourhood of South East London which I put out as a handmade book called Hinterland. I sold about 40 of these and received copious encouragement from my peers. But I didn’t know how to follow it up.

I continued making work during the pandemic which was featured on the BBC. Someone who had moved overseas years earlier had seen this work and it made them homesick. They contacted me and asked me to make work in their old neighbourhood for them over a period of time. I had no idea how to go about this. Their old haunts overlap with mine so I figured I would just keep doing what I was doing where I was doing it. So the Passerby Zine project emerged from all of these influences.

As I love the craft side of self-publishing and have some design chops having studied graphics in art school, I figured I would use the tools I already have to shoot, make and promote a periodical. I’ve been a serious street photographer since the late 80s and have a camera on me all the time so it seemed like an obvious thing to do.

The plan is to gather a handful of decent images every 4-6 weeks then edit and sequence them into a tiny home printed zine. From each edit there should be some strong photographs that can then be submitted to my agency for curation and consideration for editorial and commercial licensing.

As I settle into this project I am already thinking of spinoff projects, including timed print sales and an annual best of book.

Niall O’leary, Creative Director at Millennium Images, said of my work the I “like to find mystery and menace in the everyday”. He’s right. And that’s what Passerby is all about.

This Week in Photography: Vanishing Points

 

 

 

Last Friday, I took the day off.

 

 

Normally, I tell you ahead of time, (and plan a proper get-away,) to help rejuvenate my creativity.

It’s a solid trick, and normally works well, but this time was different.

Rather than taking an actual vacation, I used the week-off to deal with some serious life stress.

Just like a mental-health-day isn’t really a “day off,” last week was about crisis management, and I guess the crises were averted.

But I can’t exactly say I feel refreshed.

(C’est la vie.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not mentioning this to complain.

(Though I know it might look like that.)

Rather, at the end of June, I gave a webinar for the Los Angeles Center of Photography, which was all about sharing strategies to maintain and support our creativity, over the long-term.

 

 

I’ve been a working artist for 25 years, so I created a list of 25 ideas that enable our creativity to flourish.

Much of the teaching would be familiar to you, (if you’ve been reading the column for years,) but of course some of it was new.

Somewhere in the middle of the lecture, I discussed the fact that outside forces in our lives, be they relational or geo-political, can have a massive impact on our creativity. (In addition to our happiness.)

Perpetual stress is hard on the body, and while creative practice is a brilliant form of self-care, sometimes it can get overwhelmed, and then diminished.

So today, feeling really bad, deep in my heart, I wondered how I was going to force myself to write the column, when all I wanted to do was put on my headphones and pretend the outside world doesn’t exist?

Denial doesn’t work, though, so I unboxed a book, read/looked at it, and went for a short walk to prep my thoughts. (As I often do.)

Don’t worry, I’m giving you all this context for a reason.

The truth is, I want you to decide for yourself whether the rest of this column, (the actual book review part,) is being colored by a bad mood, or whether I’m able to separate my emotions from my thoughts, on an admittedly difficult day.

Let’s get to it.

 

 

 

 

 

“Vanishing Points,” by Michael Sherwin, published by Kehrer Verlag in Germany, showed up in the mail a year ago.

This is one I remember requesting, and I even recalled a bit about its concept, which seemed promising.

So I wasn’t flying blind.

I was excited to receive it, because the book directly challenged the current status quo, with respect to theories about staying in one’s lane.

Near as I can tell, it’s a book by a White, male American, that attempts to tell stories, and gather information, about historical, Indigenous/ Native American sacred sites across the United States.

“Vanishing Points” is the exact book we’ve been hearing, for several years now, should not be made.

It’s the opposite of a project made by an inside member of a culture, and as I believe we should be allowed our creative freedom, I was hoping the book would be awesome, enlightening, fascinating.

(Alas, I’m not loving it, though I really hoped I would.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it because I’m in a bad mood?

I really don’t think so.

“Vanishing Points” begins with a typical writerly essay, and then we get a statement by the artist, providing the backstory.

As I understand it, Michael Sherwin believes Indigenous philosophies might hold the key to a healthier relationship with nature, in a Climate Change era, and of course we’ve heard such things a million times before.

(I am not immune, living as I do in the midst of a historical Indigenous community in Taos, NM. Many gringos have been similarly seduced, through the centuries. And a more holistic relationship with the Earth would absolutely be a good thing.)

Again, I actually believe the roots of Michael Sherwin’s investigation are valid, and should be on-limits, so my problem lies with the execution.

The book is a jumble of actual landscapes, cultural landscapes, obvious tropes, and trash artifacts removed from sacred sites, then photographed in a studio environment.

While there are captions at the end, to give us the specifics, it reads too much like a typical-photo-book template, (replete with a final, academic essay telling us what we just saw,) and the solid, but expected quality of the story-telling, and image-making, left me wanting.

The photographs of earthen-mound-architecture were the stand-outs, and given how little most people know about the grassy structures, (which are so different from Mexico’s pyramids,) I think there could have been a much stronger project, had the artist done a deep-dive there.

With a dearth of general-cultural-knowledge about ancient, large-scale settlements like Cahokia, I believe this could have been something special, as a book.

But just as a Lenni Lenape warrior in 1700, in what is now New Jersey, could not have imagined Chaco Canyon, in New Mexico, linking so much of Native America together this way, through the experiences of a wandering, White photographer… I couldn’t make it work, as a critic.

And I wanted to.
Truly.

I sat there, after putting the book down, and asked myself how to write the review?

How to honor the artist’s right to his vision, and applaud the effort that went into crafting it, while still finding fault with the results?

Being a critic can be hard sometimes.

But so can being an artist.

As always, we do the best we can, and take one day at a time.

See you next week.

 

To purchase “Vanishing Points,” click here 

 

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review.