Pricing & Negotiating: Industrial Images For Energy Company

By Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine< Concept: Images of employees at work in industrial settings

Licensing: Collateral and Publicity use of all images captured in perpetuity

Photographer: Industrial and Lifestyle Specialist

Client: Energy company

Here is the estimate:

 

 

Fees: The client had three facilities across the country, and while the scope included one shoot day at each facility, the overall production including travel time would equate to a 10-day project. There wasn’t a defined shot list, but we knew the shoot would involve a combination of employee lifestyle images, and shots of the equipment within each facility as well. Rather than basing the fee on a certain number of setups/scenarios, I used previous knowledge of similar shoots to come up with a fee of $6,000 per shoot day, which felt right for the limited usage.

Crew: The load would be light, and the photographer only needed a first assistant for the production.

Equipment: We included $1,000 per shoot day for use of the photographer’s personal cameras, lenses, and grip.

Travel: I included appropriate rates based on local research for the 10-day production details in the job description

Misc.: This covered any unforeseen expenses that might arise during the production and while traveling.

Post Production: We anticipated about 20 images per location needing some basic processing, and we noted $100 per image, which would include up to 1 hour of retouching.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.

The Daily Edit – Gdje Su Svi Dobrodošli (Where Everyone Is Welcome) : Andrew Burton


Patagonia Cleanest Line

Photographer: Andrew Burton
Activist: Denis Tuzinovic

Heidi: How much time did you spend with Denis before taking out the camera for this portrait?
Andrew: Denis was very generous with his time with me, for which I am forever grateful. Broadly speaking our time together was split into two portions – the first portion was a traditional reportage / documentary photo shoot while Denis volunteered at SR3 (a marine wildlife response, rehabilitation, and research nonprofit vet clinic just outside Seattle). The second portion was the portrait session at a variety of locations. The first portion, at SR3, was relatively quick and immediate, I probably spent about 15 minutes photographing while he fed a few different groups of seals. We probably had 5-10 minutes to “get to know each other” and build a rapport before he started the volunteer work. The second portion – the portrait shoot – was rather long and organic, lasting a few hours at 5-6 different locations. The vision I had been given by the photo director was to use natural light in a variety of locations around Seattle to show Denis, and specifically a jacket he frequently wears, to show him proud and empowered in an urban environment. During the portrait portion of the shoot we had a lot of down time without cameras, driving between locations and walking the streets of Seattle, getting to know each other and learning more about each other. Even when I was making portraits of him, Denis’ story is so powerful and compelling that I found myself setting down my cameras to talk more and continue the conversation throughout the portrait session.


Do you have any type of process for your portrait work before meeting subjects?

I come from a strict photojournalism and documentary background, which is to say that when I make portraits I usually approach the assignment from a reportage lineage – environmental portraiture using a majority natural light – occasionally one strobe or a reflector to help a bit . Before the assignment I research the subject  as thoroughly as possible so that I know as much about the person as possible and I use online tools (google street view, etc) to research the location as much as possible so as not to be surprised by what the location is offering. Once on the scene I try to let things unfold organically, relying on conversation and collaboration with the subject to achieve a finished photo. This process can be trickier with subjects who don’t have much time to give or aren’t interested in collaboration, but in this specific case, with Denis, the system worked quite well.

Avedon famously said in his book The American West “A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.” At Patagonia, we look for, “an honest shot, real people doing real things.”  How are you creating an environment for this moment or emotion to unfold?
I’ve worked as a professional photojournalist and documentary filmmaker for the past 14 years and the deeper I get into my career, the more I think about this line of thought – is the photo or film I create “honest and accurate?” How do you define truth, objectivity, accuracy? Is the photo both factually and emotionally accurate?  Am I manipulating the scene to achieve my own vision but at the cost of what the feeling on the scene really was? Coming from a journalism and documentary background, where “truth” (whatever that is) is paramount, I’m frequently hesitant to use my camera to manipulate a scene or subject to achieve my own goals or vision (whatever they maybe). That said, I’m of the opinion that the deeper into the rabbit hole you go in a search for capital-T “Truth,” the more you realize it’s impossible to achieve and a bit of a fool’s errand- the very nature of a camera being in a room – another person observing something – undeniably shapes and shifts the scene. And yet. I believe intention matters, that as a journalist and photographer you can aim be as unobtrusive as possible and visualize a scene relatively undisturbed – or in the case of a portrait – that you can attempt to document the essence of a person in an honest manner that doesn’t manipulate them or visualize them as something they aren’t. To that end, that’s why I try to be as collaborative, open and communicative with a portrait subject – so that I can get to know them as much as possible in the time given and try to make a portrait that feels relatively “accurate.”

I see an honest, brave moment of self reflection and courage, what do you hope to capture in this portrait?
More than anything I hope the portrait accurately reflects who Denis is and compels the audience to read Denis’ story and get to know more about him – he’s an amazing man who lives by his values, is actionable about his convictions and who has been shaped by harrowing backstory. I won’t attempt to summarize Denis’ story for him but suffice to say I was deeply moved by the time I was able to spend with him and hope readers are moved by his story, as well.

What can you share about working with film and digital for our assignment?
I would simply say, it was a joy mixing the mediums of reportage and environmental portraiture. Denis and I had the opportunity to walk the streets of Seattle for an hour or two, chasing the light and location, chatting and finding unexpected scenes and environments. Ultimately the final photo is a clean, powerful portrait of Denis but there were dozens of other options that leaned into the visuals of Seattle and the mix of urban landscape amidst the beautiful Pacific Northwest. It felt like a rare and special assignment – most portraits don’t have that sort of latitude and flexibility. I”m very grateful to both the photo director and to Denis for the opportunity.

Film is often more intentional, anything that is analog slows us down, tell us about shooting both mediums.
Yes, I shot both digital and film on this assignment. I’ve been working more in film photography for the past few years which has been a total joy. I spent the first eight years of my career in the daily news and wire photography business – on the best days I was on the front lines of history documenting the most incredible moments of the human experience. But the turnover of work is incredibly quick – deadline is always 5 minutes ago and there’s always another assignment. Some days I might have four assignments. Modern digital cameras are made for this work – a photographer can make thousands of photographs with little effort. But the overall effect of that lifestyle, at least on me, was to water down the value of the photos I was making – it increasingly felt like “quantity over quality.” This may be trite and obvious, but working with film cameras slows a photographer down. It makes a photographer more intentional. It demands a photographer to ask themself what they’re trying to say by releasing the shutter. It has made me fall in love with the medium of photography again – the physicality of slower cameras, the limited number of frames – it makes me appreciate the medium. I would say it’s akin to digital music (Spotify etc) versus listening to a record. It forces you to be more present minded and appreciate scarcity.  All that said: I worked in both mediums for this assignment a bit out of fear – I wanted the digital cameras on the scene as a safety net in case anything went wrong with the film cameras. Ultimately it was an unfounded fear and the film photos were the ones I was most proud of.

Thank you to both you and Denis for working with us, I’m so grateful to have crossed paths on this special assignment. Read the full story here.

Featured Promo – Tracey Mammolito

Tracey Mammolito

Who printed it?
Gotprint https://www.gotprint.com/home.html
Being on a tight budget, I took a chance with this lower priced option. However, I did do a bunch of research and thankfully most printing companies will send a free sampler pack which is super helpful to see/feel the quality. I was impressed with the wide selection they have and was a fan of the Square orientation in multiple sizes. Unfortunately there was an initial printing issue on one of the cards but their customer service was great & very responsive.

Who designed it?
I did. Once again – on a tight budget, but my background in design came in handy. In a previous career making moodboards was my specialty so I took that ‘thoughtfully curated’ approach. I like how each card is a mini moodboard that could stand on their own or altogether. Having said that, I spent more hours, days, weeks, months on it than should be humanly allowed. Call it being a recovering perfectionist … or just terrible at editing down my own work. Probably both.

Tell me about the images.
Since this was my first promo card, I went with the “Overview Sampler” concept to introduce my work in three main categories. Mostly I selected images with a similar color scheme to further drive the curated idea. Also to illustrate a cohesive energy in the shooting angles, light+shadow. The images cover products, people, & places — all things I enjoy photographing and wish to offer a potential client. There’s action, stillness, texture, expression, directional lines… but overall a clean style. I aim to connect the dots across Fitness, Wellness, and Adventure whether it’s in the studio, out on the city streets, or out in rural nature spots.

How many did you make?
100 qty of each. Roughly half for mailing out and half for handing out in person.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is my first time so we’ll see how it goes. But I’d say once or twice a year seems sufficient.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Definitely. Perhaps because I’m old skool and started a design career when waiting for white-out to dry before re-faxing a sketch was a thing… HA! But seriously, I still believe in printed materials for the visual creative art world. It makes a more lasting impression and a more professional appearance. Beyond just snail mailing, I have found promos also helpful for physically handing out at tradeshows, meetings, etc. Especially now in such a saturated social media universe.

This Week in Photography: Road Trip to San Diego

 

 

 

I need time after a trip, before I write.

(To let things settle.)

Everyone’s different, of course, but I allow experience to morph into memory, then share the stories.

Occasionally, I’ll rush to judgement, (as I did with the New-Orleans-travel-piece late last year,) but only when I know we’ll be doing more articles down the line.

As it happens, I’m going to break down the best work I saw at PhotoNOLA into two articles, but ironically, this will not be one of them.

 

Owen Murphy, long-time APE fan and Co-founder of the New Orleans Photo Alliance, during the PhotoNOLA portfolio walk, December 2021

 

No.

As I’ve written many times, to encourage the creativity spirits to shine upon me, lo these 10.5 years with a weekly deadline, I’ve learned I am but her/his/their humble servant, and follow the energy where it takes me.

Today wasn’t quite the day for New Orleans.

So I promise we’ll get down to NOLA soon enough, (twice,) but today we’re going in a different direction.

Literally.

Instead of going South-East to the bayou, we’re heading due South, then due West, to drive through Arizona, all the way to the Pacific Ocean in sunny, Southern California.

(San Diego, if we’re being general. South Mission Beach, if we’re getting specific.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Truth be told, the first vacation Jessie and I ever took together was a road-trip from Northern New Mexico to North County San Diego.

We stayed in a little, now-defunct, beach motel in Leucadia, on the North side Encinitas.

That was early ’98.

It fit our style, so we’ve been back a dozen times over the years, for vacation, or the Medium Festival of Photography. (Where I’m headed next month.)

 

The kids at Moonlight Beach, Encinitas, 2018

 

In 24 years, and all those visits, I’d never been to Mission Beach before.

Was Sea World over there, maybe?

But I trusted the internet, and found us a screaming-deal on a big condo on Airbnb, just three houses off the sand in South Mission Beach, with a private roof-deck-hot-tub.

 

View from the “shared” roof-deck, but I never saw another person there.

 

(I know that sounds like a lot, but I swear, it was super-reasonably priced.)

The rub was, I booked four of five months in advance, which was early enough, (because the condo was popular,) and we rolled the dice on Winter season, which can be rainy.

Plus, the ocean is cold then, as it is most of the year.

In July and August, the Pacific is beautiful to look at AND warm enough to swim, but it’s super-crowded, and more expensive.

(Just a heads up.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the massive state of Arizona sat between us and the Golden State, on our huge New Year’s Eve adventure.

We booked a hotel in Tucson, (morning of departure,) and for the first time, I can properly recommend one chain as being distinct from the others.

(Though it was a small sample size, so maybe it was just one solid hotel.)

Assuming it’d be close to the Interstate, I went with something near the airport, and found the Home2 Suites by Hilton.

Not sure which marketing firm rigged-up the concept, but consider me their target demo.

The rooms were a bit more expensive than your average joint, maybe in the $160/night range.

 

View from the hotel room, Tucson, the morning after a massive desert storm

 

But you get a very-large-suite, with a sitting room, a kitchen, and a big, two-bed sleeping space. (They separate with a well-designed curtain.)

The place had sleek, “design-y” details, and the room rate included a huge, all-you-can-eat-breakfast-buffet, filled with a surprising variety of options

(Waffles, fruit, muffins, bacon, egg & cheese tarts, fruit, cereal, coffee, you name it.)

If you’re not on a budget for two rooms for the family, (or you’re just spending a few hours to sleep, on a road-trip,) it’s great value to get one huge room, but the kicker is, breakfast for 4 costs $40-$60 at a restaurant, in these inflationary times.

So if you factor in not spending for breakfast, the hotel, (which was also immaculate,) seemed a cost-and-time-efficient option.

My other travel-hack for the two-day drive was to stock up on great New Mexican road food: carne adovada burritos from the Frontier Restaurant in ABQ.

 

 

It’s a not-large amount of shredded, long-stewed, sweet/spicy red chile pork, in a house-made flour tortilla.

Only two ingredients.

But man, the depth of flavor and complexity are insane, and they keep well in the car all day. (The Frontier sells them by the six pack.) We put the left-overs in the hotel fridge, and ate them on the way to San Diego the second day too.

For my New Mexican readers out there, I’m telling you.

This is the way to go.

Frontier Restaurant
4 out of 4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

But we’re not here to write about New Mexico.

(Or even Arizona, really.)

Before we made it to SoCal though, we did pull off the Interstate to see some Saguaro cactus, up close. We were miles from anywhere, in Western Arizona; the desert beauty captivating in every direction.

These Saguaro cactus trees, though, they have gravitas.

 

 

Theo unintentionally modeled his streetwear fashion, among the trees, and I remember telling myself, “Make this a memory.

Make this a memory!”

 

 

Later in the trip, Theo would intentionally model some streetwear, so we could show the photos to the Taos-based fashion designers, whom the kids had befriended in their store near the plaza. (I totally forgot until just this second, but now that it’s back on my radar screen, I’ll see what they think.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reason why I can so firmly recommend this part of San Diego to you, as a little spot to drop out and chill, is it’s easy to live with no cars. (Or at least, minimal exposure.)

South Mission Beach, as a little neighborhood, is actually surrounded by water on three sides.

 

South Mission Beach, a mostly-car-free slice of California Beach Paradise

 

And the residential streets, going East-West, are pedestrian only, with little sidewalks, and nothing else.

Additionally, the Strand, or boardwalk, is also car-free, just for pedestrians, scooters and bikes.

(It runs along the beachfront for miles.)

 

View along the Strand

 

So we parked our car in the garage, when we arrived in South Mission Beach, and didn’t take it out again until we left town.

 

 

 

 

 

While it was winter, we still walked around in T-shirts, shorts and flip flops at the hot point of each day, as the mid-60’s California sun felt like 75.

And having the place to ourselves, (more or less,) in perfect weather felt like the thanks-for-gritting-out-the-pandemic gift to our kids we hoped it would be.

Lucky us.

No, seriously. For real.

Lucky us.

 

 

The week before we got there, there were ferocious rainstorms, and in some places it even snowed!

Like, Climate-Change-level record rains.

That would have sucked.

And then, the weekend after we left, they had a Tsunami warning, and the entire beach had to be evacuated.

But we were lucky.

We had perfect weather, and walked miles each day, along the beach and the bay, to burn off the burgers, pizza, tacos and burritos we ate.

(And boy, did we.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our first night there, we went for takeout at the closest possible place.

One guy owns both Capri Pizza and Grill, and Sara’s Mexican Food, which share one building on Mission Blvd.

We tried pizza the first night, and got a good Margherita pizza with meatballs.

I thought it was solid, if unspectacular.

 

 

The next morning, desperate to be a teenager, free and alone in a city, Theo went out to bring back some breakfast.

Not knowing it was the same owners, he ended up at the Mexican place, and got excited, ordering Carne Asada burritos with guacamole. (Something I’d told him was a staple in the local Mexican food culture.)

They were excellent, and along with the accompanying salsas, much better than anything we can get in Taos.

Unfortunately, the third time was not a charm, as we went back to Capri one too many times, and got a kind-of-dry chicken parmesan sub, and an almost-inedible Taco Pizza.

We’d chatted up the counter-guy the previous night, and because he liked us, he gave us extra meat, to be generous. But lacking nearly enough fresh tomato, or chile-heat to cut the richness, it was waaaaaaaay too much for me.

 

Capri Pizza and Grill
2 stars out of 4

Sara’s Mexican Food
3 stars out of 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a killer restaurant corner, on the other side of the Belmont Amusement Park, that was worth writing home about.

My cousin, Daniel, who’d told us about the excellent, if expensive sports bar Guava Beach Bar and Grill, also recommended Mr. Ruriberto’s, which is quite the name.

 

Waiting for fish tacos at Mr. Ruriberto’s

 

Their fish tacos had a bit too much remoulade for my liking, but were otherwise flavorful and excellent.

The Carne Asada burrito was standout too, so I would make friends with Mr. Ruriberto, if he wanted to be my friend.

 

 

Can you imagine?

{“Hello, Jonathan. Como estas?”

“Well, hello, Mr. Ruriberto. I’m fine, thank you, how are you?”

“I too, am well, Jonathan. I have a question for you, Jonathan. Would you like to be my friend?”

“Yes, Mr. Ruriberto, I would. I would like to be your friend.”}

 

Mr. Ruriberto’s Taco Shop
3 stars out of 4

 

As to the NY Style Pizza joint next door, ZoZo’s, that place was legit.

I only felt bad we discovered it at the end of the vacation, as I would have eaten myself sick on their food for sure.

The Margherita pizza was special, alive with flavor, and the slices I spied on their mega-pie were monstrously big.

 

Inside the pizza place

 

It was also more-reasonably-priced than Capri up the street.

 

ZoZo’s Pizza
4 stars out of 4

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted to make memories on our vacation, and so we did.

I remember Jessie telling me, on the first full day there, “The cops must be brutal here, because there are no homeless people.”

She meant it mostly as a joke, but also not, if you know what I mean.

Given what I’ve seen in San Francisco, and read recently about LA, it was true, the lack of a sizable unhoused community was noticeable.

But as San Diego was known to lean conservative politically for a long time, and has a big Navy base one bay to the South, I could see how things landed where they did.

I also noticed many of those cute little side streets, (and accompanying alleyways,) weren’t very-well-lit, so it is likely the cops keep it quiet and “safe,” given how much all those condos are worth these days.

(Daniel asked how much I thought the place we were staying would run, and I guessed, “$2 million?”

“Yeah,” he replied, “that’s about right.”)

 

 

 

 

Daniel lives in a beach bungalow a few miles north, in Pacific Beach, and not only did he steer us right with Guava Beach and Mr. Ruriberto’s, but he also invited us over to his apartment, for grilled monster-burgers, with grilled zucchini sticks and potatoes.

 

Drinking a White Russian with Daniel

 

(He went to culinary school years ago, but doesn’t work in the field.)

After dinner, we took his massive rescue dog, Rudi, down to a nearby beach in the dark of night, so he’d get one last walk before bed.

The moonlight on the black Pacific Ocean made it shimmer and shake, like rustling charcoal.

 

 

Daniel drove us home, as our legs were tired from the walk North, but it’s a great reminder if you go on holiday where you have family or close friends, that can help with the memory-making as well.

(Plus with local’s tips on food, it’s like having your own personal fixer. Daniel also told us about an Ice Cream Sandwich place the kids insisted on trying, and I’m not sure it’s quite as appetizing in the photo as it was in real life.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking along the waterfront makes you feel good.

(Most of us, anyway.)

The entire peninsula is barely more than 2 blocks wide, and the Bay beach has it’s own visual charm, with boats and bridges.

 

 

Walking along one morning, Jessie and I saw a family of cranes, like something out of a Chinese Landscape Painting.

 

Crane in the foreground

 

We stopped and watched for a while in the quiet, and it felt like the California Dream was still alive.

(For a steep price, as long as it doesn’t burn down, fall into the sea during an earthquake, or get subsumed in a Tsunami.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theo and I made a friend, Orrin, while shooting hoops at the public court at the beach.

He had his own portable music, which was a little trend we spotted on the Strand, (especially people on bikes or roller blades,) but it made for a great soundtrack.

I made a quick video of Theo taking in to the rack, just for fun.

 

 

We met up again the next day, and Orrin specifically chose this track for a longer video. (With his friend Brandon shooting as well.)

 

 

(BTW, I’ve finally added audio to the videos, and hope you like the step-up in my content-game.)

Further up the Strand from the basketball court, (and past the countless beach-volleyball-courts,) there’s a mini-amusement park, Belmont Park, with all sorts of games, food options, a huge pool, and rides as well.

On the last day, we decided to try the roller coaster, (a first for both kids,) and they let you buy tickets, by-the-ride, instead of only having to pay a steep entrance-fee, which I thought was pretty cool.

As to the roller coaster itself?

Well, Amelie was so scared, (and preferred to wear her mask,) that I couldn’t help making a quick video.

Listen to the way she reacts, when I say, “Good luck.”

 

 

The meta-commentary: “Good luck? What the fuck do you mean, good luck? This thing should be so safe, we don’t need luck. Asshole!”

She lived through that terror moment, (on camera,) and we were shocked at how they made it super-fast, with legit G-force we felt a few times.

The cars shook you around, with quick changes in speed, so you really felt it in your gut.

Surprisingly great roller coaster, for such a small one.

 

The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster
4 stars out of 4

 

 

 

 

 

Last, but not least, the photography part.

Sometimes I do a travel piece, and photography doesn’t come up.

But not today.

On the last day, just as we were driving East for home, we stopped at my friend scott b. davis’ house, and he showed off his new Radius book, “sonora,” which features his beautiful work, made over many years.

(After we did a quick studio visit. Check out all the old-school chemicals…)

 

 

It’s a gorgeous book, totally austere, and the high degree of craftsmanship was appropriate, given scott is an expert platinum/palladium printer, and meticulous in general.

 

 

Theo showed me that scott, and his wife Chantel, had hung one of my images in their kitchen, and I took a trippy-reflection-portrait of the three of us.

 

 

(Weird, right?)

From there, we drove through the rock mountains, windmills, and sand dunes.

 

 

 

Then on to Tucson, (this time NOT in a huge, dark-of-night rainstorm,) and we had In-N-Out burger for dinner there, as somehow we’d made it in and out of California without eating it.

 

 

(No pun intended.)

After destroying our burgers, (In-N-Out is always 4 stars, every time,) we visited with my friend, photographer Ken Rosenthal, who was recovering from an awful fall he’d taken out in nature last year.

(Wrecked his knee something fierce.)

Jessie and I checked out his studio as well.

This photo of a geyser at night stopped me in my tracks.

 

 

It is just so exquisite.

(Perfectly capturing that mysterious power one feels, in so many parts of the Great American West.)

We drove through more majesty the following day, (hundreds of miles of it,) on our way home.

Elephant Butte Lake in Southern New Mexico looked worthy of a return trip, and nearby Truth or Consequences is set in a killer locale.

 

Elephant Butte Lake, Southern New Mexico

 

On we drove, to the North, through Albuquerque, Santa Fe, then Española, before we got home.

 

 

 

Road-fried, with bellies full of gas-station-burritos.

And all was right with the world.

(See you next week.)

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Nia MacKnight

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:  Nia MacKnight

 

Family heirlooms central to Indigenous photographer’s reflections on identity : The Picture Show : NPR

Photographer Nīa MacKnight never met her great grandfather John B. McGillis, but she did have a window into his storied life as an Anishinaabe man in early 20th-century America: a steam trunk where he stowed away undated photographs and stray objects such as an address book, a pair of horn-rimmed glasses, and a single eagle feather. McGillis lived through decades of oppressive actions against native peoples by the U.S. government, and MacKnight says that in a world where he couldn’t fully be himself most days, this collection reveals how her great grandfather worked to reclaim his identity.

“I was filled with joy to be able to hold his personal items,” MacKnight writes in a Q&A with NPR. “I was also haunted by the fact that the only photographs that he left behind marked a time of trauma and violence that Native Americans faced due to assimilation policies.”

Like many Indigenous people his age, McGillis was forced to attend federal boarding school for Native American children. He also fought in WWI and later secured a position at the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs where he worked towards improving employment opportunities for Indigenous people. MacKnight’s family recounts a man who spoke his tribal language in the company of friends and relatives, while learning the language of the white dominant culture to expand opportunities for his people in his professional roles.

Using her skills as a documentary photographer and interviews with relatives and family friends, MacKnight is piecing together McGillis’ history and reflecting on questions of identity and self-determination that persist to this day. She shared some insight into her process with NPR.

 

What story do you hope these photographs tell? 

It is my hope that my Great Grandfather’s story will invite viewers to expand their perceptions of Indigeneity, and further acknowledge the diverse contributions of Native Americans within the framework of American history. Contrary to dominant Eurocentric narratives, Indigeneity did not vanish when the United States was founded. Instead, folks like my Great Grandfather applied their Indigenous knowledge in a new way to carve out spaces for his people. His story ultimately conveys the creative tactics used by our ancestors for survival, and the fight for self-determination that Indigenous people still face today.

 

How do you decide which objects to photograph and how to construct each photograph? 

Initially, I sifted through the hundreds of photographs in this trunk to piece together the different chapters in his life. As I began interacting with the images, I noticed the photographs that he left behind conveyed his life post-boarding schools. I discovered letters and diary entries that expressed the obstacles he faced as a Native American man navigating a rapidly shifting world in the early 1900s.

I felt that the intensity of the modernization of the times and the use of natural textural elements in the background conveyed the duality of my Great Grandfather’s experience. It was also important for me to photograph this project in the South Bay region of Los Angeles, also known as Tongva Territory, where my Great Grandfather spent his last days before transitioning to the spirit world.

 

Would you say this has been a personal project for you and in what way? 

This project started out as an inquiry into my relative’s life and evolved into experiences of deep inward reflection and healing. I was confronted with the violence and trauma that my Great Grandfather experienced at the time as an Anishinaabe man forced to leave his ancestral homelands due to federal assimilation policies. However, the contents of his trunk that he left behind embody a spirit of resistance through images of growth, change and joy. His efforts to reclaim his identity through the trauma that he endured is inspirational and serves as a reminder of the importance of sovereignty through storytelling.

 

Tell me a little about one or two things that have surprised you since you started this process?

In order to further understand the impact that my Great Grandfather left on his relatives, I reached out to multiple relatives about their memories of him. I was surprised to find out aspects of his personality through various family stories that are not conveyed in the contents that he left behind in the trunk. One relative reported that his exceptional hunting skills were what helped the family get through the Great Depression.

Another relative described him as a deeply loving man who loved being in the company of his family. I was also surprised at the creative ways that my relatives connected, despite our geographic distance, to share stories about my Great Grandfather John B. McGillis. This project demonstrates the power of intergenerational storytelling, and the ability of our ancestors to transcend place and time.

Special thanks to Kevin Locke, Sheridan MacKnight, Winona Flying Earth, and Thelbert Milligan for contributing their knowledge about the life of John B. McGillis to this project.

   

 

To see more of this project, click here.

 

Instagram @nia.macknight.

NPR Writer elizabethgillis

 

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 – Gathering Growth: Brian Kelly


Lock 26 Maple

Three Sisters Swamp
Ransom Sycamore audio included
Grandma Tree
Millersville Bur Oak
The Big Poplar Tuliptree

Pacific Ponderosa Pine

Gathering Growth
Photographer: Brian Kelly 

Heidi: Why is this project important to you and what got you started?
Brian: After seeing old growth/big trees in the PNW of the US and Vancouver Island I couldn’t stop doing research into why the forests of the east coast US were nothing like the west.  Why weren’t there big trees here in the East? Come to find out, the East coast US has been logged over several times and multiple species that fell to disease and insects. All of this was an initial motivation to document what was left. We lack proper documentation of what the forests and trees once looked like. For me, this is what drives me to dedicate my life to document what is still standing; it’s a reminder for future generations of what it all once was at a specific moment in time.

In a data and asset rich world, this is one of the more refreshing practices of archiving. What assets are you collecting?
Over the last four to five years of documenting these trees and forests I’ve been creating large format images, soundscape recordings, leaf and seed documentation, and the occasional video recording.  Not every tree gets the full suite, but I try to.

What format are you shooting, can you share your process?  How long is each tree session and what are you trying to capture?
When shooting the trees and forests for the archive I use Kodak Portra 160 sheet film with a Toyo Field Camera. I’m a big believer in not only the quality of film but also the physical aspect of the negative for the archive.  Of course I’m also shooting digital because mistakes do happen when shooting film. I’m shooting on a Fuji GFX 100 at the moment, but the digital format has already changed once since I started this archive, so I’m looking to the film to be the constant. The amount of time I spend at a tree can vary.  I’ve had roadside finds that I’ve documented in 45 min and been on my way, then I’ve had other trees where I’ve spent two days knowing the light could be better.  It’s all different, but I like to imagine that when I put in time with a tree I’m paying it respect. That this organism has been living and growing for 800 years in order for it to be something special and recognized by humans. You have to show love and respect when you start thinking like that.

What is the taxonomy of your archive?  
The archive is organized by the year, and then going into either Tree of Significance, Forests, or Champion Tree,  then it gets broken into state, followed by species.

Are you planning on another book similar to Parks?
I would love to do a tree book someday.  I’ve been wanting to do a series that would be broken into the major regions of the U.S.  Highlighting the largest/old trees and old growth or unique forests.  This would be my life work I think….


How many have you photographed thus far? What are your discovery and tracking tools?  

So far the archive has roughly 300 trees and forests documented.  I’m able to find a lot of the trees just through googling key words, and being specific in a state or town. For example: “Big – Tree – New – York”  I’ve also found a lot through Real estate Apps like Zillow.  Finding a big tree in a photo and then looking on google maps street view.  I get the occasional submission from someone too. We have a tree/forest submission page on our website.   At the moment I have roughly 1,300 trees and forests marked on google earth.  A lot of work ahead of me still!

How can folks support you or get involved?  
There are many ways that people can support Gathering Growth. You can check the website www.gathergrowth.org to learn more about what we’re doing, how to get involved and make a donation. We have a bi weekly newsletter you can sign up for and follow us on social media for new trees and forests that were documenting. @gatheringgrowth. Were also always looking for brands that align with our ethos and want to help amplify our voice and mission.


Do you have a favorite tree or any favorite moment you’d like to share. Trees are also called knowledge keepers, what have you learned so far?

I’m not sure I have a favorite tree, but I have a favorite memory while shooting a tree. While photographing a tree in the Lost Forest Research Area in southeastern Oregon I experienced silence like never before.  The drive into the Lost Forest is an experience in its own.  Bumpy roads and potholes on unmaintained BLM roads nearly destroyed my van.  Getting into the forest around sunset I parked the car, turned it off and the instant I opened my door it felt like a vacuum had just sucked all the sound out.  I felt unsure, like I wasn’t supposed to be there, or something was watching me.  I wasn’t used to silence like that, so much so that the only sound I heard was the blood rushing through my ears. That level of silence was so foreign.  I wasn’t able to find the tree that night and had to wait till morning.  Eventually finding the tree in the morning I was finally able to start to acclimate to the silence.  I’ve never been anywhere else and felt that way.  I don’t think most people have or ever will know that type of natural silence.

Feature Promo – Ben Girardi

Ben Girardi

Who printed it?
I printed the promo with Moo.com. I’ve tried a few different printers in the past, but I have found that Moo seems to be the highest quality for a reasonable price.

Who designed it?
The layout of the cards was done by myself. However, in the past year I worked with graphic designer Helen Bradford (http://helenbradford.com) to create a new logo and color palette for my brand which I used on the cards.

Tell me about the images?
Most of my work is in a niche world of winter action sports. For this promo piece I wanted to choose a group of images that represented this work specifically. Throughout the series of cards I wanted a similar feel, to showcase my style, but also wanted each card to stand alone in case an individual card got passed along.

I tried to make a selection of images to showcase different styles of imagery to appeal to people either on the brand side who are interested in more product specific images, or on the editor side who might be more interested in the action. Some of this imagery was from commercial shoots, and others were shot on spec for editorial all within the previous two winters.

How many did you make?
This specific promo piece was very targeted towards the winter action sports industry, so all in all I probably sent out about 50 pieces just prior to the winter. I have a more extensive list, but this includes people who are outside this specific space and I thought a card like this would miss the mark.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I don’t have a specific schedule. I’ve usually sent them out once a year, but would like to bump it up to twice per year as lots of my work if very season specific so being just ahead of that time is relevant.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Overall I think the promo piece is an important part of my marketing. While it’s not a major effort in the digital age I think it is a great way to get in front of people that is different than just sending an email, or connecting via Instagram. I believe delivering something tangible is a good way to differentiate my work when many people are purely focused on digital marketing. I always send cards to people I have worked with in the past as I find it is a good way to stay relevant and remind them of your work, without expecting any obligation of a response such as you might get with an email.

With this specific promo piece I had a handful of people I knew reach out directly saying thanks for sending the card. For the effort put in I would call this a success as you know they thought about you, which means your top of mind next time something comes up.

With people I don’t know who I send cards to it’s a good non-invasive introduction to your work and when I do reach out in the future, they’ve ideally already seen my name at least once. That being said since it’s via the mail I didn’t have any confirmation that people actually received them. It’s quite possible that they never even make it to the desk of the intended person.

This Week in Photography: The 3rd Annual Advice Column

 

 

Happy April Fool’s Day!

(And whatever you do, don’t eat the yellow snow.)

 

Courtesy of keepcalmandposters.com

 

 

 

 

So….today’s column is going to be weird.

After last week’s controversial, explaining-the-NFT-world long-read, my brain is pretty burned out.

(I’m sure you’ll understand.)

It was hard to find the juice to write anything at all today, much less the article I’d planned, which will feature the best work I saw at PhotoNOLA back in December.

That one gets pushed to next week, I’m afraid, as I just don’t have it in me.

So I went for a walk up the hill, (on the only sunny day we’ve had in ages,) and conjured a new idea.

 

Me, brain-fried on a sunny Thursday. (Unfortunately, it’s gray again today.)

 

This week, we’re going to do something unexpected, and deliver what is now the 3rd Annual Advice column.

Hooray!

 

 

 

 

It began on a whim, two years ago, as the global pandemic lockdowns were setting in, and I had a powerful intuition the world was about to go to shit.

(Got that one right, unfortunately.)

With all the news media attention about hoarding, empty toilet paper shelves, and the newfound suggestion that humans should keep 6 feet apart, I had a compulsion to chime in.

My first advice article got quoted in the Santa Fe New Mexican, a proper newspaper, so I guess my instincts were solid.

I did it last year as well, so now we’re back again, as the world begins to open in earnest, even though the virus is still alive and kicking.

(Photographer J A Mortram reported to me, this morning, that the UK virus numbers are basically the highest they’ve been, though we’re in a temporary lull here in the US.)

But I don’t want to write about Covid today, nor to “advise” you on how to handle it.

Rather, it’s time to take stock of the world, and consider how to act in a new reality that is much, much crazier than the one that existed in November 2019.

(Before the first reports came out of China. Do you remember how the Chinese doctor who blew the whistle ended up dying of the virus? Poor guy. What a shit way to go.)

 

RIP Li Wenliang. Image courtesy of the BBC.

 

 

 

 

My brain is fried because I haven’t been sleeping well, the last week and a half.

(Since I got back from California.)

We had another horse die while I was away, (of colic,) so I came home to a stressed out 9-year-old daughter, who needed a lot of consoling.

Then I wrote that monster of a column, which was both a weight off my shoulders, and a massive mental burden to accomplish.

But then things got even stranger.

By Friday afternoon, a narcissistic, mean-spirited neighbor accosted me over dog drama, and eventually screamed at Amelie, just as she got off the school bus, for an incident that happened while she was still riding down the hill from school.

It was batshit crazy, but I kept my cool, never raised my voice, and stuck with logic, which kept the conflagration from turning even nastier.

(Or physical. You can’t put your hands on anyone and get away with it, unless you’re a super-famous, rich movie star.)

 

 

 

 

 

The next day, I was so tired I couldn’t even make it past the porch, and just sat on the couch, drooling on myself, watching the excellent Netflix show “Top Boy,” Season 2.

(Shockingly, I haven’t started calling everyone “Fam” yet, or saying “Innit” all the time, but as Curly famously said, the day ain’t over yet.)

 

Courtesy of AllPoetry.com.

 

Finally, by afternoon, I had just enough physical juice to walk the 100 yards down to the stream.

My plan was to listen to the water, rub a bit on the back of my neck, bask in the quiet for a minute or two, then go back to my couch to feel sorry for myself.

(I was staying off Twitter, as the NFT article had gone photo-world-viral, and I knew battling trolls, and/or basking in compliments, would not be good for my soul.)

When I was nearly to the stream-front, I heard voices, which is not rare, as sound travels really far in our box canyon.

But as I got closer, I saw there were two people between me and the water, and they should definitely not be there.

Trespassers.

What the fuck?

 

 

 

 

 

Immediately, though, I recognized two neighborhood kids with whom we sometimes play basketball.

(One used to bully my son in elementary school, but somehow we moved past it.)

They were uncle and nephew to each other, though one is only 17, (and a Dad already,) and he once pelted his 11-year-old nephew with a rock, for no particular reason, opening a huge gash over his eye.

(Like I’ve always said, life in the Wild West is no joke.)

In the past, I’d have lost my shit to see the boys there, especially as they were in the process of destroying a set of tree stumps that surrounds a fire pit, but this time, that’s just not the way it went.

(I credit my return to martial arts training, as oddly, learning to fight makes you much less likely to ever be in one. The mental discipline and emotional control one learns is powerful.)

Rather than yelling at them, or escalating the situation, I began with a simple question:

Did something bad happen to you guys today?

Though they come from a difficult background, they’re both good kids, and we’re kind of friends, so rather than assuming malicious intent, I figured someone dumped on them, and lacking healthy outlets for their anger, they’d ended up on my land, taking it out on my tree stumps.

Turns out, I was correct.

A random drunk guy had shown up on their road, in a big pickup truck, and done donuts in their yard, before throwing beer bottles at their trailer, one of which broke a window.

The boys had been home alone, were scared, angry and freaked out, and ended up at my place, beating on some rotten old wood.

Of course I didn’t call the cops, or threaten them in any way, and by the end of our make-shift, 30 minute therapy session, I’d given them my cell phone number, so they always had someone in the neighborhood to call if a random asshole showed up again.

(I was clear not to include me in family disputes, or dial my digits at 3am. Both conditions were quickly accepted.)

And what is my point in sharing this story, exactly?

 

 

 

 

 

Like I said, this is a stream-of-consciousness advice column.

As I told those boys, I’m here to help.

The last two years have been so stressful, and awful, with Bad Guys like Putin and Trump getting away with all their awful deeds.

People on social media are now claiming that Russians aren’t human, and some Facebook troll actually had the gall to call me a “Grump Old White Man.”

(As Wayne and Garth used to say, “As if!”)

 

 

The homicide rate is up in America, the roads are super-dangerous, and anti-social, narcissistic behavior has been normalized to the point that a super-rich, über-famous actor actually thought he could assault another famous person, on global television, and get away with it!

(Seems his calculations were correct.)

I’ve been warning you since last summer that people were “this” close to snapping, and resorting to violence, and it seems I was right.

(It gives me no pleasure to say that, though.)

So here’s where the “How To Safely Navigate 2022” advice comes in.

Please, people, chill the fuck out!

Remember to belly breathe.

Take more walks.

Appreciate your loved ones.

Watch more funny movies, so you can laugh.

Invest heavily in your self-care.

(And seriously consider studying a martial art. It’s good for self-defense and self-control, obviously, but many of the ancient arts are also rooted in philosophy, be it Zen Buddhism or Taoism, so you might learn a thing or two about the world as well.)

 

Bruce Lee Instagram images courtesy of the Bruce Lee Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

As artists, we’re trained to delve into the Zeitgeist, and go against the grain.

So if it seems OK for people to lose their shit these days, try the opposite.

Keep it together.

Be your best self.

And rather than assuming people are out to get you, maybe set your default to giving others the benefit of the doubt. Because 99% of the time, someone is having a really bad day, (due to the crazy, war-torn world,) and they’re just taking it out on you.

Try to be the bigger person, and worry less about your pride.

I know this sounds trite, or easier said than done, but I’m telling you, the combination of patience, compassion, empathy, emotional control and understanding is powerful medicine.

And we can’t just sit around and watch the world burn.

We have to do something about it.

In this case, I’m recommending you work hard to self-improve, as if we all do that, (or some of us, anyway,) the world will literally be a healthier place.

See you next week, when we’ll get back to the photography criticism and whatnot.

 

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Dan Goldberg

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:  Dan Goldberg

 

When someone works well with others, it’s a plus. Fueled by collaboration, Dan Goldberg takes it up a notch, gaining steam by working with talented artists to share ideas, pushing each other forward. Inspired by food stylist María del Mar, this project is a lesson in slowing down and telling a simple story. Together they worked with prop stylist Andrea Kuhn to create an image series of deconstructed salads from the seventies. It was a trip down memory lane for everyone on the team. This trio found such success in the process that it lit the fire of ideas for future projects. Please gather around and take in all that is Seventies Salad. 

 

Capturing food brings back emotions and memories. It’s something I always knew but was more profound on this shoot. We shot these salads, with everybody putting in their two cents about which salad had the most memories from childhood. This project reminded me of cooking with my grandma in her kitchen. For this reason, I put the cigarette and the lemon squeezer in one shot. While each of these triggered childhood memories on set, everyone responded with their own once we posted them.

 

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 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 – Newtok: Patagonia Journal and Film: Andrew Burton and MIchael Kirby Smith

 

Newtok: Patagonia Journal and film

Photographers: Andrew Burton and Michael Kirby Smith

Heidi: Why was it important to you both to make this film?
Andrew and MIchael: We set out to tell the story of Newtok, AK, in 2013 because we were tired of the overly simplistic media narrative that climate change was something happening in the future, predictive in nature, affecting generations down the road. We felt the story was happening now across the globe and in the United States. It was important to us that we found a story in our country after reporting abroad. When you start to look at stories in America impacting citizens here you quickly find Newtok.  In news, the media often distills stories into simple digestible narratives and the more we learned about Newtok, especially after our first reporting trip, we quickly learned that the story is very complex, nuanced, with a beginning that dates back further than we could have imagined. We didn’t want this crisis to be portrayed through cliched and stereotyped imagery, such as a sad polar bear or melting glacier, knowing that this is not where we’re at with the climate narrative. Newtok’s story is complex, which in a way is representative of the larger complex issues when discussing the climate crisis in the sense that the narrative, and possible solutions do not have easy answers. The crisis is here in the U.S. happening today, to our fellow citizens, and our goal was to tell a story that immerses the viewer in the emotionality of this unfolding catastrophe.

This project was seven years in the making, how much photography and motion did you collect and what are your hopes for it beyond this feature film?
The project has grown into a much larger body of work. In a lot of ways the project’s growth was very natural in the sense that when we first started we were really reporting by taking pictures, writing, and documenting anything we felt was relevant to better understanding the story’s complexities. It’s now turned into a behemoth body of work that has been overwhelming at times. We filmed 130 terabytes of footage from 2015 – 2020, including hundreds of rolls of film and 20,000+ digital photos. In collaboration with the village and with their expressed permission we’ve collected old family photos, home videos, archival documents, maps, etc. We’ve handed out 70+ disposable cameras to the community for them to document their relocation and had kids fill out surveys about what they think of the relocation. Newtok began in 1949, under forced federal mandate, and according to the land exchange deal everything must be deconstructed in Newtok and handed back to its natural habitat. Because of this we do feel a certain obligation to document this entire process, especially since this is one of the first communities impacted by the climate crisis. The film is part of that ongoing body of work and our ultimate goal is to have an expansive multimedia document of a place that will not exist down the road. We want to create an archive which includes a documentary film (coming out April 22), a photo book, an online website, and a traveling exhibit. Eventually, with the blessing of the community, we’d like to see the entire body of work donated to a museum or university archive, but we still have many years ahead knowing the relocation is not complete.

The past four years have been dynamic to say the least (politics, the pandemic) how did that impact your project?
Like everything impacted by the pandemic it’s been really tough. Covid has kept us from traveling to the village for two years (2020-2022) which was the longest we’ve been away from the community. It’s also disrupted our ability to screen with the community in the way we’ve always envisioned, but with that said, there is a lot of understanding of the obstacles we’ve faced in this regard. We spent much of that time editing the film and getting it out into the world. Beyond covid, this project has now been through the Obama, Trump, and Biden administration. What is remarkable is all the lip service and attempts to help the community from 40+ state, federal and nonprofit agencies, and all bluster of partisan politics, how remarkably little has changed in the village. It speaks to how complicated it is to navigate climate change politics in the current state of our country’s political stalemate in writing meaningful policy.  Other than the big surge of funding in 2019 which moved 1/3 of the community, the majority of people still live in Newtok. So now you have a situation of a divided community which is tough for everyone. The goal is to remain together as a community in a safe environment and that has not happened. The river is still eating away at the shoreline, funding is not secured, and the community continues to fight for relocation while struggling in living their lives because of degrading conditions and families torn apart. Covid had the biggest effect on our ability to work on the story, but beyond that, the situation in Newtok is still dire and very real.

How did this self-sustaining community influence you as a parent, citizen, and creative?
As journalists we try to keep our personal baggage away from conversation, but in the context of process and longform storytelling, there is value in discussing this more as a way to encourage other filmmakers and journalists, and to just personally reflect, which is always good. To begin, throughout the making of the project we have had monumental personal change and professional growth. How we would begin to tell a story of this nature now looks different than how we did and that’s rooted in learning and growing as individuals and as a team. That doesn’t necessarily mean we would be telling a different story either. Personal life, all the ups and downs while working on a project like this continue, and the inherent difficulty to navigate individual stress is amplified in long form independent storytelling. You don’t have the same institutional support, in terms of financial help, which makes it harder to justify an undertaking of this nature if you are reliant on freelance income, as we both have been throughout this process. This means you really have to believe in the storytelling process where you find yourself somewhat blind to what awaits in terms of success, both editorially and financially. That’s really tough and stressful.  What the community has really taught us is the value of being more present minded in general and how to find hope and joy in the face of struggle and overwhelming odds. In a lot of ways this informs everything in terms of the filmmaking process. This has made us better communicators with each other, and strengthened us as a team. We’ve been taught values that come out of a small, tight knit community and family – emphasizing forgiveness and love no matter what. The community has also taught us what real sustainability and self reliance look like – of knowing the landscape and ecosystem and weather patterns and nuances of your land. What incredible beauty and lessons we have to continually learn from this symbiosis.  The project has taught us to be open and collaborative and that good storytelling takes a lot of time that can’t be forced.  It’s almost as if each story has its own temporal governance, that you have to learn and adapt as a storyteller in order to fully realize the potential of the story, and that the story will unfold in its own rightful time. It has entirely and holistically changed the way we will approach future projects, and we are indebted to the community of Newtok for teaching us better awareness, which we grow from for the rest of our lives.

The community of Newtok trusted you both to tell this story and invite you into their homes and lives, what were some of the pivotal moments of trust building?
It’s been a real honor getting to work with the people of Newtok on this story, and this could not have been done without our producer Marie Meade. Bringing her into the field was a seachange and a huge moment in transforming the story and gaining trust from the community. Marie is a highly respected Yup’ik elder, and leading Yupik anthropologist, author, linguist, and scholar, who is an incredible teacher both in an academic setting as a professor, and outside of one. She has direct familial roots to the Newtok community, specifically her family lived in the village of Keyaluvik where the people of Newtok were prior to forced relocation, but she had never had the opportunity to visit when the community was divided. This was very serendipitous for the project, because working on the film offered her an opportunity to visit with extended family and see her ancestral lands. So, our team not only had a known Yupik educator and leader come onboard, but someone who had personal connection to the land and people of Newtok. It’s impossible to quantify the value she continues to add to the project, we can only say that it wouldn’t be close to what it is today without her agency and insight into the community. She is someone who has devoted her life to better understanding her own heritage and has been instrumental in preserving the Yupik language and culture for future generations and she has given us leadership and guidance through the making of this film. We adore Marie.

The second, pivotal element that comes to mind, is much broader and came through by time on the ground just continuing to show up to the village, and reiterating our intention to try and get the story right. The community has seen a lot of parachute journalists, filmmakers, photographers, and tons of nonprofit and government agencies on top of that. They’ve become wary of outsiders for good reasons. People don’t often present their intention to the community, or get to know people and listen, so it sets up a potentially exploitive result that sours community perspective.  We’ve now logged more than 300 days in the village and know folks there intimately, and we have been granted access by the community’s leadership by trying to be transparent and open about our intentions. What began as distrust has evolved in time to an alignment of intent, which is to bring attention to the traumatic disaster unfolding. Time has given us the opportunity to learn from the people of Newtok which is instrumental to the storytelling.

You are both photojournalists, how did this project reinforce / continue to inform you both that this work is essential in an age of misinformation?
This is a very complicated question to try and begin to answer. People are aware of how news consumption has drastically transformed in the digital era with social media platforms abound, but we still don’t know what the implications are on society and what that means for the future of documenting history if journalistic guidelines lack clarity. The journalism transformation is happening so fast that we can only speculate. There is incredible work analyzing this stuff, but it’s mostly in a slower moving academic dialogue, and while that is being pondered journalism’s voice to tell stories is being diminished. Photojournalism comes from a lineage that has journalistic guidelines and principles, as an example, actually being transparent in the journalism methodology itself. These ethics were traditionally shaped and defined by legacy journalism institutions and publishers, which have been folding throughout the country and world. What has risen in the wake are numerous platforms, and even forms of storytelling, that have no clarity on the code of ethics in reporting, fact finding journalism, and publishing. Photojournalism remains essential because the intent is clear and the methodology is clear. The struggle now is there are fewer platforms for publishing the work which makes it extremely difficult to have a career which is a great loss to journalism in general.

The community is in a constant state of migration: homes they grew up in,  their land, culture and tradition. How did this project make you rethink what it means to be home?
This project made us reconsider the definition of home in a visceral, tangible way, that it is more than just a physical structure as we have perhaps defined it prior to the project. The definition is different across cultures, and for the community of Newtok “home” is more than simply a house, or the village itself – it includes the ecosystem that provides subsistence life. It is a much broader swath of the Yukon Kuskokwim delta, where, for millennia, they have moved between seasonal hunting grounds, a migratory understanding of the word.

There is an argument made by some fiscal conservatives that it is too expensive to relocate communities like Newtok and that it would be cheaper and easier to simply offer a buyout to residents, forcing migration into a major town. This argument hinges on a limited western definition that a home is definable by a four-walled structure, or version close to that. Such suggestions lack ethical consideration especially considering the community of Newtok only became attached to western infrastructure under forced mandate by the same government that would be suggesting a buyout. The fact is, to move a native community like Newtok, that has chosen to remain on their ancestral lands and disperse the community into a larger city would result in the opposite of “relocating their homes.” It would be the destruction of their lifestyle, their culture, their way of life and is genocidal by nature.

How did the community receive the film and how can folks give back or get involved?
We began showing the film to the community in stages. First, while we were still editing the film, we began showing rough cuts to our advisory board – a group of people made up of Newtok community members, a local journalist who worked in Newtok, a Yup’ik philosopher, a Yup’ik anthropologist, a project manager on the relocation and a member of the Smithsonian institute. After we received notes from the advisory board and incorporated their thoughts into the film, we showed the film to the people depicted in the film and had conversations with them. Throughout this process our aim was to make sure we were getting the story right, being culturally accurate and culturally sensitive and to learn about our inevitable blind spots. Then we showed the entire community of 400 people the finished film. We’re humbled, grateful and proud to say that the community has been very complimentary of the film.

How difficult was it to use your equipment in the elements?
Operating in Newtok was never easy – we were exposing our gear to -40 degree winter snow storms, giant Bering-sea storms, salt water spray, mud, muck and moisture. We demanded a lot of our gear and ourselves (frostbite while changing rolls of film isn’t fun to deal with). To the camera manufacturers unending credit, we never had any issues with our cameras – they worked amazingly well throughout the entire production.

What were the advantages of being a crew of two?
Photojournalism puts a lot of focus on the individual – one byline, one person, one credit, and filmmaking is so collaborative by nature. There is strength in numbers and we really wanted to collaborate on a project and move towards a team approach. The process of that had a lot of growing pains and forced us to really listen and rely on each other in a way that is really incredible when you start finding the cadence of that other person. We often joke that our personalities are so different to the point of describing it like we’re ascending the same mountain on different routes, but there are real advantages to the differences once you fully trust each other’s approach, and how our process differs. At the end of the day we usually always land in the same place, in agreement, and along the way we have grown as collaborators and friends.  We learn from each other and believe that by working as a team, the final product is greater than the sum of the individual parts; a sort of 1+1 = 3.

Tour dates here and see how you can support climate justice.

This Week in Photography: Understanding NFTs?

 

 

 

 

“Pope Paul, Malcom X, British politician sex, JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say…”

Billy Joel, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” 1989

(Lyrics quoted from memory, b/c that horrible fucking song stuck in my head.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gaslighting is such a great word.

 

(Perfect for the 2020’s.)

Having fallen prey to the tactic in the past, I empathize with others who do.

If you’re not familiar with the term, (or have heard it, but don’t know exactly what it means,) the gist is, when a person or a group challenges your proper understanding of reality, so deeply, so aggressively, that eventually you begin to question your own sanity.

For example, imagine you are in a blue elevator with three strangers.

All of a sudden, the lights go out, and the car freezes.

You’re stuck.

The group begins to converse, and at some point, one of the other people mentions the elevator is red.

No one disagrees, but you don’t think much of it, and of course the subject quickly changes.

But you’re stuck in there for hours, and over time, it keeps coming up.

The room is red, they all say.

Over and over again.

At first, you’re sure what you saw: the walls were painted Dodger blue.

 

Dodger blue color sample, courtesy of crispedge.com

 

Eventually, as they all agreed, again and again, that you’re actually in a red elevator, your confidence begins to wane.

Are you POSITIVE you’re in a blue elevator?

Since they’re all so sure of themselves, isn’t it possible, at least remotely, that your memory is inaccurate, and the walls are actually Candy-apple red?

Slowly, their bluster begins to erode your knowledge of what you saw.

Like the drip, drip of a leaky faucet, you begin to question yourself, and by the time the lights come back on, you’re actually convinced they were right, and you were wrong.

And so a blue elevator becomes red in your mind, because you have no counter-factual information available, (beyond your own recollections,) and an entire group of people is challenging your conception of reality.

Like I said, what could be more 2020’s than that?

When Putin declares war against a Jewish president, and accuses him of being a Nazi?

 

Courtesy of the Detroit Jewish News

 

Or a guy you went to High School with starts blowing up your phone, promising to make you rich, in what seems like a scam, but he’s just so damn confident, with slick answers to all of your concerns, that eventually, you begin to believe him?

Am I finally writing that long-promised article about NFTs?

You bet I am.

Buckle up.

Like the bonkers, stream-of-consciousness Bill Joel song I quoted at the outset, I’m writing this article in a manner echoing the batshit crazy world of photo NFTs, in which it’s hard to know what to believe, (or whom,) because everyone is so sure they’re right, even though they’re shouting opposite arguments simultaneously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to admit, I’ve been dreading writing this article.

If I could go back in time to September 2021, tell myself to let it all drop, and plug my ears with tissue paper, like Larry David, I would.

(If any of you has a functioning time machine, please email or DM me. I’m happy to pay a hefty sum.)

 

Courtesy of backtothefuture.fandom.com

 

Alas, I don’t think it’s an option.

And as I’ve been teasing this article for months, and promised Rob I’d “land the plane” this week, it’s time to put up or shut up.

But what if I’ve spent this many months reporting, interviewing artists, reading articles, thinking deep thoughts, and still don’t know what the fuck is going on?

Well, I guess I’d have to write it like that, wouldn’t I?

 

 

 

 

 

It must have been the Spring of 2021, (about a year ago,) that I first started noticing some NFT info popping up on my Twitter feed.

I kept seeing the name Justin Aversano, who was making a project about twins, but that was as much as I absorbed.

Then I heard my colleague Kris Graves was getting in on the game, with Justin, and that made an impression.

In May, Noah Kalina, an artist I knew of, but didn’t know, asked to see some work on Twitter, for a potential collaboration with Crytpo.com, so I sent him a link to a project of mine, and while he liked the work, he didn’t end up doing anything with those guys, so the idea dropped.

According to all I’ve since learned, March-May of 2021 was ancient, for the NFT world, the equivalent of a Mesopotamian society.

Those earliest NFTs might as well be Sumerian statues, with the massive mono-brow, given how fast things seem to move within this subculture.

 

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

I guess my attitude was always, I’ll sit on the sidelines until this becomes a thing, and then I’ll check in with my buddies, who’ll catch me up, and get me in the game.

Was that the right mentality?

Hard to say, but I’m reporting it as it happened.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Fall, I’d begun to hear this was officially a thing, and some photographers were making real money, so I decided to tap up my network.

Strangely, some people I knew well, and with whom I’d collaborated before, (or done favors,) ghosted me, hard.

That never happens, so it made me curious.

Why would people who were normally cool with me all of a sudden tuck their heads?

What were they afraid of?

Or perhaps the better question was, what were they protecting?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stranger still, in that same time-frame, a guy I went to High School with, (and was friends with on Facebook,) with whom I had not spoken in almost 30 years, reached out to see if I was interested in joining the NFT world.

He wanted to “onboard,” me, and began sending me information, via every available digital channel: text, FB, email, IG, and Twitter.

It was the full-court-press, with texts coming in first thing in the morning, late at night, all weekend long, and it was intense, to say the least.

All of my instincts told me things were fishy, that I was not about to make $2 million, and never have to work again.

That simply posting my archive images on an NFT platform would not solve all my problems, and make me rich and famous beyond my wildest dreams.

We all know the old saying: anything that seems too good to be true is too good to be true.

But I kept discussing it with my wife, and we both agreed even a small chance of life-changing money meant I should keep an open mind, and see where it went.

My new NFT cheerleader certainly knew some of the key players, and told me about the large sums of money he was spending, so on the surface it seemed legit, but then again, there were so many articles out there calling this crypto world a scam, a pyramid scheme, a multi-level-marketing program gone global.

Each day, I found myself wondering, WTF?, but kept at it, trying to learn more.

Eventually, this High School colleague and I considered going into business together, to create a platform to sell NFTs, because it seemed like the sales-platforms were where the real money was.

(Obviously, I didn’t go that route in the end.)

Many people have now heard of Quantum, (which recently drew $7.5 million in VC funding,) the trendiest NFT-gallery-company, and I was able to interview founders Justin Aversano and Kris Graves during my reporting phase.

 

 

Assembly is another, and I’m sure there are more out there.

From what I could gather, these money-making-orgs were founded based on a collab between some photo-world players, and crypto-money-people.

That seemed to be the key.

Then I learned how the platforms were interconnected with DAOs, which were (more or less,) unlicensed companies that in some ways, via fractionalized ownership of risky assets, behaved like the collateralized debt obligations and subprime lenders that crashed the global economy during the Great Recession.

(And I’m on record as making that comparison months before NYT columnist Paul Krugman wrote an article on the topic.)

But again, it felt like the more I knew, the less I understood.

That may happen to other people, but it doesn’t happen to me, so I really wondered how it seemed like everyone was gaslighting everyone?

 

 

 

 

 

Before you read any further, I want to state, right here, right now, that I don’t consider this a takedown piece.

I have no beef with the NFT community, which has been kind and generous to me, and certainly don’t feel I side with the haters, who mostly complain about the electricity use, the general sketchiness of cryptocurrency, and likelihood that people will get scammed out of money they can’t afford to lose.

(I’ve wondered for months now, why are electric cars seen as good, and eco, but electric art is automatically bad?)

Over the course of my reporting, I spoke with a group of NFT artists who truly love their new community, and the opportunities it affords.

I learned about artists who were trying to innovate with the blockchain, which, as best as I can describe, seems to be decentralized collection of servers around the world that hosts an official, crypto-protected, transparent, inter-connected, permanent digital ledger that cannot be manipulated, once it’s in place.

(Each “block” of data is connected to the next, and immutable.)

Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah, whom I first discovered on Noah Kalina’s Twitter feed, set out to use NFTs to fund, (and has since succeeded,) an honest-to-goodness expedition, at sea off the southern tip of South America, so she and her scientist colleagues can share open source knowledge about Climate Change with the world.

The photos are beautiful, the project is ambitious, (called “Behold the Ocean,”) and of all the people I’ve interviewed as a journalist over the years, she was about as impressive an artist as I’ve ever “met.” (We spoke on Zoom, as she is based in Switzerland.)

 

All images from “Behold the Ocean”

 

Akosua, who goes by Ava Silvery on Twitter, told me about an artist with the pseudonym Patricia El, who was working on a project, “In This Land,” trying to document and digitally map Bedouin communities in the West Bank that were disappearing, as Israeli settlements continued to expand.

 

 

Again, massively ambitious, political, and fascinating.

It was also far cry from the capitalistic land grab I kept hearing about, where people were getting rich, and only a sucker would stay on the sidelines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spoke with Richard Renaldi, a photo world friend whom I once interviewed here on the blog, the day before he “dropped” his “Touching Strangers” catalogue with Quantum.

It was early days for the platform, but they’d already established a tradition of selling out everything they offered, immediately.

I asked Richard what it felt like, knowing he was about to make massive cash, but his attitude was clearly, I’ll believe it when I see it.

So we spoke again, after his work had indeed quickly sold out, and he was still giving off a whiff of disbelief.

He shared concerns for the people out there who might get suckered, but mostly felt fortunate he’d come out ahead.

As he cashed his Ethereum out immediately, and made a killing, before the crypto-currency market had a crash.

Wait a second, did I really get this deep into the article, (1800+ words,) without mentioning Ethereum before?

Shame on me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I read Neal Stephenson’s seminal book, “Cryptonomicon,” years ago, and re-read it last summer.

He’s the genius, sci-fi, futurist writer whose ideas were brought to life by subsequent coders.

 

 

Google Earth, Second Life, the Metaverse… these were ideas plucked by others from his influential book “Snow Crash.”

And “Cryptonomicon,” as its title suggests, more or less invented the concept of cryptocurrency in 1999.

He theorized about “money,” disconnected from governments, or even the tangible world, which could cross borders at the speed of light, never need to be exchanged, and accumulate value, like any other currency.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Bitcoin, but there are many other digital currency offerings, like Solana, and Ethereum, which is the main one used to create NFTs.

When I was first contacted by that trader-dude, 1 Eth was going for $3000ish dollars, and during the months of our conversations, it flew up to around $4800.

I was watching it rise each day, yet couldn’t shake the thought this whole world seemed unsustainable.

(If it were really that great, why were so many people trying that hard to constantly recruit a new batch of players?)

As you may know, the markets took a tumble recently, with Ethereum trading as low as $2411, and as of today, (I’m writing on Thursday,) 1 Eth = $3117.

Given how many people were using the term Crypto Bubble in late 2021, I guess we could say it’s popped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How does one make, or “mint,” an NFT?

Well, it costs Ethereum to do so, so you have to convert your dollars (or Euros, Pesos, or Yen,) into Eth via a digital platform like Crypto.com or Coinbase.

That gets you in the game, like a gambler buying chips at a casino.

But in order to “mint” your work on a site like OpenSea, (which was likened to Ebay to me more than once,) or Foundation, (which is invitation only,) you need to create a digital wallet, with a service like Metamask or Rainbow, which operates as a connection point between your digital currency and the sales platforms.

The platforms take a cut if your work sells, (everyone takes a cut,) but you also have to pay to mint things, which are called “gas fees.”

Those float, and at one point, were as high as $200-ish per NFT minted, which was when I got concerned people would lose money on the venture by minting collections of work that would not sell.

Still, the artists I interviewed were over-the-moon to have discovered the NFT world, even if they weren’t yet selling work.

And the love and joy were genuine, for sure.

Frankly, I didn’t speak to one person who was unhappy with the situation, and only Richard Renaldi expressed any skepticism at all, but he was the one who came out furthest ahead.

(Except for Kris and Justin, who by all accounts have made a shit ton of money.)

 

 

 

 

 

I interviewed, and have since kept up with Danielle Ezzo, Mickey Smith, and Chavi Lujan via Twitter.

(Which quickly became the NFT community’s social media platform of choice, along with Discord.)

 

Danielle Ezzo, From the series and collection, “If Not Here, Then Where?”

 

I hadn’t heard of any of them before I saw their Twitter handles pop up a few times, in relation to the DAOs, so I followed them, requested interviews, and they were gracious.

But when we first spoke, none of them had “gotten rich,” or sold much work at all. (Mickey even reported in November she’d sold the most work to her IRL handyman in New Zealand, as he was about to go into crypto full time.)

Each of them has since had their career advance in cool ways, via the NFT community, and I know Mickey has begun to sell work, though I’m not sure about the other two.

 

LOCO from the Volume collection on Foundation
TIME #1,TIME #2, TIME #3 from the Library of Obsolescence collection on OpenSea

 

The big takeaway from speaking with all three artists was that the NFT world, which had developed around Discord and Twitter, had introduced them to an entirely new group of friends, colleagues, and opportunities.

Danielle now writes and does Twitter Space interviews for a platform, Mickey has been featured on a billboard, and Chavi just co-founded an NFT platform called Nemo, which aims to raise money by selling NFTs of environmental projects, to help support the collapsing coral reefs.

 

BLOOD displayed on a billboard in Los Angeles through The Billboard Creative + Obscura. Exhibition curated by Mona Kuhn and Alejandro Cartagena

 

They were all genuine, honest, cool, hard-working artists, yet for them, greed, and get-rich-quick schemes, had nothing to do with their interest in that world at all.

 

Chavi Lujan photo NFT’s

 

(Chavi and Danielle also told me they’d been interested in crypto for a while, before the NFTs came along, and Mickey was a long-time arts professional in the US, before moving to NZ.)

Still, though, I had at least some concerns.

 

 

 

 

Mickey, for instance, told me she was “working” for free for Obscura DAO, (working was my term, not hers,) but had then been awarded a “commission,” for which the DAO only selected other artists who’d been volunteering for their cause.

That reeked of nepotism to me, and inside baseball, and I said so at the time, so again, this is not necessarily a negative thing.

(Especially as I’m not the only one to express reservations about DAOs.)

Maybe it’s time to dive into that for a second.

 

 

 

 

 

DAO stands for decentralized autonomous organization.

It’s basically an unlicensed LLC, or an unregistered company, and they’re meant to be idealistic, like communes.

People buy in, or are gifted “tokens,” and then they get to vote on how the DAO operates.

RAW DAO was the first to come across my radar screen, as I spoke to Justin Aversano the day after a “party bid” bought one of his NFTs for several million dollars, via fractionalized ownership, and he offered that as seed money for RAW DAO, which would buy more art, to hold, like a mutual fund, and the entire DAO would profit as the NFTs appreciated in value.

Of course, just buying NFTs from the chosen artists should by itself raise the value of their work, much as IRL galleries help “support” museum shows for their artists, so they can increase prices.

I should also mention NFTs are based upon the idea of a “smart contract,” and one of the main selling points is supposed to be that the artist gets 10% royalties on future sales, which is obviously a pro-artist move.

But I kept thinking, only the tiniest fraction of artists ever has a resale market, so how does that help, unless the entire endeavor is meant as a bit of a trading scheme?

Even now, I’m not sure if a collector buys an actual .jpg file with their NFT purchase, or a link to where the file resides on the blockchain, so even after all this time, the process is still obtuse to me.

And I’m not alone.

Just this morning, Rob, who actually bought a few NFTs to see how the system works, and support artists, was Tweeting about the seemingly shady situation surrounding a set of August Sander NFTs, which went to market via Fellowship Trust, despite not being sanctioned by the copyright holder.

 

 

People bought and sold things they did not have a right to own, and then the files were removed from OpenSea.

So all the NFT skeptics, (and there are many,) are having a field day, as it seems to prove their fears of massive scammery going on.

Was it?

Honestly, I don’t know, but my erstwhile colleague, Alejandro Cartagena, who founded Obscura DAO, is in the thick of the controversy, and I’d been wondering about the validity of the DAO business model for months, so I was not surprised to hear this outcome.

Even Kris Graves, one of the official godfathers of the NFT world, expressed concern about them to me, saying in February, on the record,

“Someone asked me to be in a DAO, months ago, right when Quantum was starting, and I was like, it does not make sense for me to put myself in this kind of… even if they don’t consider it a risk, I do. I mean, it’s run by someone who doesn’t live in the country. They’re controlling a bunch of other peoples’ money that was given to them on spec. And then they’re going to have to give pieces to the people that they… the system is a circle. There has to be more rules in place for me to even think about being a part of any those things.”

Really, who knows what the fuck is going on?

 

 

 

 

 

Well, this is the longest article I’ve written in 10.5 years of doing this column.

Am I surprised?

Not in the least.

I’ve been absorbing information for months now, waiting to have a word-baby, and here it is.

(15 lbs, 11 oz.)

But what have I learned, really?

Maybe I should circle back to Noah Kalina, who did an awesome interview with me in December.

He reported he’d sold nearly $120,000 in NFTs in a year, from his series “Lumberland,” yet he did it the old-fashioned way.

Noah worked at it, promoted it hard, put in the effort, tried not to be obnoxious, (the NFT world is famous for overkill,) developed relationships with people at Foundation, b/c he had some old-school digital street cred, and treated it like selling any other form of his art.

 

All images from “Lumberland”

 

Unlike the Quantum platform, which was selling out whomever’s work they offered, sometimes in seconds, Noah did it by pushing the rock up the hill each day, committing to the process, and making it work for him.

He has always created photographs in serial form, and the images make sense to collectors, so they buy them.

And that’s where I landed, in the end.

If people want to offer something for sale, and other people want to buy it, what’s the harm?

Eco-wise, there are so many larger issues to worry about, and carbon offsets are available.

If artists are making friends, rather than money, or building careers, that is awesome.

If younger collectors want digital files, rather than prints, so what?

The world changes.

Always.

And if some things look shady, or nepotistic, they probably are.

Most of the artists I interviewed agreed there would be bad actors in the system.

Scams too.

Because digital life is ultimately just another manifestation of actual life.

And there are plenty of assholes out there.

Right?

 

 

{Ed note: I’d like to thank all the people who shared info with me over the last six months. Much obliged!}

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Tom Hussy

 

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:  Tom Hussey

COWBOYS

“If you’re ridin’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there with ya.”  Cattle have grazed land along the Texas coastline since 1749 when 3,000 settlers drove the first herd across the Rio Bravo. Fence lines divide the acres of open land, but time disappears watching the wranglers at work. Being one with your horse, tending the cattle, the dogs and the land is a hard way of life but satisfying. Texas cowboys are the ultimate in classic Western heroes.  Cell phones may have replaced Colt 45’s, but the traditions and stories of the rugged range are still timeless.

 

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 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

Pricing & Negotiating: Still Life Images For Pharmaceutical Client

By Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Still life images of a pharmaceutical product

Licensing: Unlimited use of all images captured for two years

Photographer: Portraiture specialist

Agency: Pharmaceutical marketing specialists

Client: Pharmaceutical company

Here is the estimate:

 

 

Fees: The project was fairly straightforward. The client needed images of a product on a white background, and images of hands holding the product. Right from the start, we were told that they have a budget of $15,000, so my goal was to account for all necessary expenses while making sure that the fee for the photographer was appropriate for the usage. While the licensing included unlimited use, we knew these images would likely be used primarily for collateral purposes, and they were willing to limit the duration to two years. For this project, I felt $5,500 was suitable for a creative/licensing fee.

Crew: I included a first assistant to help the photographer set up grip/lighting equipment, and a digital tech to help the client review the content as it was being captured both on-site and remotely over zoom.

Styling: I included a hair/makeup stylist to prep the talent on the shoot day, as well as a wardrobe stylist for three days to help source clothing for them. Since the scope was relatively simple, I did not include a styling assistant for either role, as I felt they could handle the responsibilities easily on their own.

Health and Safety: While not included in the bottom line, I noted what a covid compliance officer would cost, should the team require one on-site.

Casting and Talent: We planned to work with a local casting director to hire three models, and the agency planned to pay the talent directly.

Locations: We included one studio rental day.

Equipment: In addition to the photographer’s gear, we included an appropriate amount for a digital tech to rent us their workstation for the day.

Meals: We kept it pretty low-key on the meals to be able to adhere to the budget given, and accounted for ordering lunch from a local restaurant instead of having an elaborate catering setup.

Post Production: The agency planned to handle retouching, so all we needed to include was a hard drive to hand over the content at the end of the day.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.


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 – Wrangler: Scott Pommier

Wrangler

Filmmaker: Scott Pommier

Heidi: Did you go into this with the hope Wrangler may be interested?
Scott: I knew it was a long shot, but yeah, that was the hope, irrational as it seemed at the time.

What was your connection with the brand prior to this?
It’s always been high on the list of brands I wanted to work with. I didn’t have any relationship with Wrangler before this project. A friend of mine was able to put me in touch with someone in their marketing department. That was key. I sent them a treatment and based on that they sent out some clothing.

Did you have a stylist?
I’m not sure if it’s more accurate to say that I was the stylist, or that there was no stylist. Wrangler sent clothes for me to shoot and we mixed in some of the talent’s wardrobe. In the end the styling was pretty minimal, but yeah, I was the one tumble-drying the creases out of the shirts the night before the shoot.

How much spec shooting are you doing?
Over the last few years I’ve prioritized doing little personal documentary projects over specs, but it was time to shoot something for my reel that had the form of an ad.

Where/how did this idea come about?
My favorite films are not only beautiful, but emotional. Those weren’t the kinds of scripts that were being sent to me and I knew if I was waiting for one to show up it might take forever. I tried to think of what I had access to. A few years back I shot with some trick riders for a fashion shoot so I called up Jennifer Nicholson once again. She runs the operations at Riata Ranch and trains and performs with a with a world class team of trick riders and ropers. She was such a great collaborator the last time around and I asked her if she would let me come back for another project. I told her this time instead of pushing the styling I would want to really show things as they are. I gave her a semi-coherent ramble of a pitch and she said “I’m not totally sure that I can picture everything you’re saying, but sometimes that’s what makes for the most interesting creative partnerships.” I mean…you can’t ask for better than that.

We talked a few times and I started to develop a story based on the ages and the abilities and personalities of the girls she was working with. We wanted to show what happens behind the scenes, some of what goes into the polished performance that an audience sees.

How long was the shooting process
It was pretty extended as we had to break the job into two shoots. Early on I had the idea that part of the story would happen at the Riata Ranch in Three Rivers California and part of it would happen at a live rodeo. The timing was lucky in that the Salinas Rodeo was coming up, and it’s one of the biggest rodeos in the U.S. and it’s only a few hours from Three Rivers. The plan was to drive down (from Portland) to shoot at the rodeo, and then follow the team back to Three Rivers to finish off and then home. But the California wildfires made that impossible. The fires came so close to the ranch that the animals had to be evacuated at one point. We had to wait until the visibility (and breathability) improved and the roads opened back up.  The level of smoke was a nonstarter, even if the roads were open…which they weren’t.  It was probably a month between the first and the last shoot day.

It was was eight and a half days of shooting, which sounds needlessly long, but the first four at the rodeo were really just to capture a few shots. Those first four days only account for about 8 seconds of the footage, which is about what I had anticipated. In a lot of cases time is a pretty good substitute for money. We had less control over the light, but more room to use the schedule to get us the light we were after.

In the end, we didn’t have the access we would have hoped for at the rodeo, and Ava the young trick rider had problems with her horse on one of the key performance nights, so we shot at another private facility in Three Rivers as a double for the Salinas Rodeo.

How big was the crew?
For the Salinas Rodeo it was just me and a photo assistant that came down from Seattle. I showed him how to use an external sound recorder and he helped me navigate the menus on one of the cameras I rented. For the stuff we shot in Three Rivers the crew ballooned to two…at least on the three days that our local assistant showed up. Most of what’s in the film was shot by my friend Alex Bros who flew down from Toronto to do the shoot. It wasn’t an easy shoot by any stretch, but it was a great time.

We knew that what we were capturing was special, you could see it in the monitor. The beauty of the locations, the intensity of the stunts and then the subtlety of the performance. This little girl who had never acted before but she was such a natural that when you pointed the camera at her somehow could just see her inner thoughts.

Did you edit the film yourself?
I sent Wrangler a director’s cut, which was a gratuitous  2:40 in length. I’m not great with shorter cuts, especially since the music went with the film in a very particular way. I got very lucky with the post on this film. Some friends help me get it in front of Arcade Edit where the wonderfully talented Matt Laroche agreed to cut a :60 second version. Ben Freer of Fiddle Leaf did the mix and Dominic Phipps of Company 3 in London did the colour grade. I’m beyond grateful to all of them for elevating the film.

 

Featured Promo – Kyla Rys

Kyla Rys

Who printed it?
My promo cards are a little less conventional. I printed these promo cards on 8×10 Canson Inkjet paper and backed them with 5×7 postcard stock at my school computer labs for my Business for Photography course at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I then wrapped them in 5×7 clear envelopes I bought at an art store nearby.

Who designed it?
I created the design for the images in Adobe Indesign. I made three different variations of the promo card with different combinations of the two front photos.

Tell me about the images.
I took these cover images in my hometown of Frisco and Keystone, Colorado. Being surrounded by such vivid environments heavily influenced a lot of the nature and warm colors I include in all of my photo work. I had my friends help me style and model for these images as I wanted to play with fashion and landscapes. They are some of my favorites!

How many did you make?
Since I was hand making the cards, I only sent out ten. I plan to send out more with the rest of my paper as I look for post graduate jobs.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I aim to send them out twice a year once I get a stronger body of work to send.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I think promo cards are an effective marketing strategy if the client looks at the card. It is a great way to catch their eye in a space larger than a business card. I think emails and social media messages on instagram and linkedin are cheaper ways to catch some client’s attention however. Promo cards are a great tangible thing to share if you can afford it!

This Week in Photography: Losing the War

 

 

Today is strange.

Different.

(Not like the other days.)

 

 

 

 

I’m writing on Monday, which is bonkers.

(For me, anyway.)

There’s nothing like building a routine over many years, and smashing it, just to see what happens.

I know that sounds brave, but really, it’s more about scheduling. (Rather than leaping from my comfort zone.)

On Thursday, (when I’d normally be writing,) I’ll be traveling to San Francisco, so I can attend the PhotoAlliance portfolio review, held at the San Francisco Art Institute.

The last time I visited the city, in summer 2019, I was shaken to my core, as evidence of America’s fraying social fabric was on full display.

I wrote about it here, but even the article didn’t capture the fear and discouragement I felt.

In my bones, it was clear things were very wrong, and we were headed down a dark path.

 

Creepy Billboard, San Francisco, July 2019

 

Of course, I had no idea a global-pandemic-catastrophe was around the corner, but there were signs a culture of narcissism had taken root in the United States.

(Egged on by the Big Orange One.)

 

 

 

 

 

Tents had popped up on residential sidewalks, like tragic mushrooms.

Tech bros patrolled the streets; capitalistic sentinels in khakis.

We walked by a bevy of unhoused people on Market St, in the dark of night, and they were screaming and moaning, as if ripped from a horror film.

I used to live in San Francisco, and felt a kinship with the city for many years, so it was one of the most troubling travel experiences I can remember.

However, that was then.

 

San Francisco, July 2019
Man wearing a mask outside City Lights, 8 months before the pandemic

 

For all the bad press the city has gotten since, I relish any opportunity to travel these days, and the PhotoAlliance festival is being run by my friend Heather Snider, who is an amazing person, representing the best of Old School San Francisco.

(Meaning, she has the 90’s punk-rock attitude, has been in the city for decades, and is down with the best progressive values, like empathy and consideration.)

Plus, I’ll be staying super-close to the Bay, an In’N’Out Burger, and all the great food in North Beach and Chinatown, so you know I’ll come back with the goods for a proper travel story.

 

One of my favorite Chinese restaurants from back in the day, down by the waterfront

 

 

 

 

 

But writing on a Monday is not the only thing different about today.

No.

Unfortunately, I got some bad news this morning.

Really bad.

Stephen Starkman, a friend, and one of my Antidote students, has been battling cancer since last summer. (When he first told us about the diagnosis.)

Stephen is Canadian, and what we Jews call a proper mensch.

He’s kind, warm, thoughtful, and just an all-around good guy.

 

Zooming with Stephen on Tuesday. Amelie came to say hello.

 

Though I ended my monthly online classes last July, Stephen and I stayed in touch, and I cheered him on as he did the chemo, trying to beat back his lung cancer.

At some point in late 2021, he got a temporary clean bill of health, and we had a Zoom talk to celebrate.

We also did a teaching session at one point, where we discussed his interest in making a series about battling cancer, to inspire others, much as Tara Wray has done about using photography to grapple with depression.

Stephen got some inklings his cancer had returned recently, but just this morning, he told me he got the worst news of all.

His oncologist has declared his cancer incurable, and expects Stephen only has months to live.

A year if he’s lucky.

Holy Shit.

 

 

 

 

But this being 2022, where our digital lives are intertwined, Stephen also told me he’d read last Friday’s column, which was about how hard it must be to accept death, when the end is nigh.

I wrote speculatively, and philosophically.

(John Divola liked the review, which made me feel as if I’d captured something essential.)

Thinking about a theoretical, though, is just that.

My friend read my musings, knowing he’d reached the point where the end of his life was real.

And coming quickly.

It never occurred to me such a thing might happen.

That my words would be taken literally, by someone I cared about.

What a fucking bummer.

 

 

 

 

This afternoon, though, right after I came back from a walk with Jessie and the dog, I had a flash of inspiration.

Stephen has been making photographs since last summer, documenting his cancer battle in both literal and metaphorical ways.

(And sharing them on Instagram.)

The creative intent changes, though, once a person knows hope is lost.

So while Stephen is still with us, and before the cancer tears his body apart, I would like to share his work with you.

Here.
Now.

It’s a first, in my 10.5 years doing this.

I’ve never been in this position before, (unsurprisingly,) and hope it’s a one-time thing.

Stephen’s project is strong, and honest. (And yes, at times I did chime in as his teacher, encouraging certain directions.)

I like these photographs, but of course, the entire context in which we view them has now changed.

They carry a morbid energy, and I wish it were different.

But it’s not.

Stephen, thank you for allowing us to share your photographs with our audience.

I am so very sorry for what you’re dealing with, and send a lot of love your way.

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: John Dyer

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:  John Dyer

My love for photography comes from seeing what something looks like when it’s photographed.  The camera sees differently than the human eye.  Different lenses see differently from each other.  Shooting color (at least for me) is not the same as shooting black & white.  Placing the frame of a camera and freezing a bit of time and space creates something new, something different from what was photographed. That something has its own rules and esthetic: a transformation that I find intoxicating.  A photograph has no narrative ability so it cannot tell you what was happening at the time the shutter was released.  The photograph must exist on its own, justifying itself by the intrinsic elements that it is composed of.  Whenever all those elements are in complete balance, a photograph becomes something more, something mysterious, something fascinating.  The best photograph is an enigma that asks more questions than it answers.  Whatever that dynamic is, I can’t get enough of it.

 

Acting on a Whim

Bob Dylan has a song called, “Love Minus Zero”. He says he thought of the title before he wrote the lyrics. I did something similar. I thought of the title, “Edge of Texas”, before I tookthe photographs. I’m not the most analytical of photographers. What good ideas I have mostly tiptoe in unannounced and tap me on the shoulder. In the fall of 2018, it occurred tome that it might be interesting to see how people live at the very edges of our state. Culture, geography, accents, demographics…all differ a great deal from East Texas to West Texas. From the Rio Grande to the Oklahoma border. So, in February of 2019, I set out to drive theperimeter of this huge state. To find things to photograph. I’ve been a commercialphotographer for many years. My clients would give me parameters for what they wanted photographed. For “Edge of Texas” I would be my own client. I’d try to satisfy myself. No one else. I would follow my nose and take photos of what drew my interest. This would not be adocumentary where I felt obligated to take photos in every small town. If I saw something interesting, I’d shoot. I realized early on that this endeavor couldn’t be done all in one long trip. I divided my touring into what I call legs. I started south on Interstate 35 to Laredo on my first leg. I had no idea what I would shoot or if I’d find anything to shoot at all. I walkedaround downtown Laredo for most of a day, limbering up my photographic muscles,shooting what caught my eye. Then I headed west along the Rio Grande to Eagle Pass, to Big Bend, along what must surely be one of the most beautiful drives in America, FM- 170, the Texas River Road. Finally, to El Paso. From there I drove back to San Antonio to take a look at what I’d shot. For me, getting the photos on a big monitor is where I find out if I’ve beenwasting my time or not. The second leg was to Laredo again, then along HWY 281 to LosEbanos, where the state operates the last hand-pulled ferry across the Rio Grande. Down to Brownsville and Boca Chica, where the Rio Grande flows into the Gulf of Mexico. North to Kingsville and back to San Antonio. The third and fourth legs were much the same. Corpus to Newton, Jasper to Selfs, Powderly to Pecos. Young people with guns on the banks of the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, Big Tex Muffler Man in Conlen, an interesting ranchgate near Ft. Stockton. When I finished my trip, I did a rough edit of the 3,000 or sophotographs I’d taken. I put the best 200 shots together to see how everything held up. I’m happy with the result.

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 – City Anonymity: Lisa Saltzman



Photographer: Lisa Saltzman

Heidi: How did your parents’ art patronage influence you, did you gravitate towards a specific genre of art?
Lisa: My parents’ art patronage had a profound, immeasurable influence on me. Their passion for art was intoxicating. Growing up with it and always being surrounded by it left an indelible imprint. Their collection is truly eclectic but there is a predominance of the human form. There is that predominance in my art.

How the collection shaped your own creativity?
My parents very eclectic collection with a predominance of the human form was ingrained in me, it was completely immersive. I know that kind of exposure was definitely the catalyst. Their passion for art was relentless; it was complete joy for them. The collection is comprised of a lot of sculpture and I have been told that a lot of my work appears sculptural. The three dimensional form of their sculpture informed my two dimensional photography, I see form and movement.  I am grateful to have that exposure and parents so connected to art. My sister was also a photographer and photo editor, we both pursued creative endeavors, when I reflect on this, it makes sense.

How are you honoring your father’s legacy in both his art collection and his work as the founder of Designtex
I have established The Saltzman Family Foundation in honor of my father to perpetuate his legacy and recently established the Ralph Saltzman Prize at the Design Museum in London, it’s a prize for emerging designers. To me, this was another way for me to express my love and admiration for his impact as a father, a mentor and visionaire. These qualities braided together helped me develop as an artist and photographer.

When did you make the transition from creative agency to creator or photographer?
Having founded an advertising/promotional merchandise company and working with very high profile brands I understand brand identity. It was several years later that I decided to apply that knowledge and create as a photographer. I owe so much to my Father and am so grateful as he had a tremendous impact on my career,  I am the fortunate recipient, he was a pioneer and innovator in design, his acumen, passion and love of art was unrivaled. He bought me my first camera and tripod when I was 9, the tripod was almost as tall as me. Both my parents have incredible taste.

Where did your love of street photography develop? or how did the streets of NY inform your eye?
Born and raised in New York, I have always been part of the hustle of New York. The energy on the streets is ripe for photographic exploration. Much of my art focuses, pun intended, on the quotidien passerby. We can never fully engage the people we pass by, I don’t want to lose sight of that fact. Capturing my subjects the way I do ,in the midst of their fleetingness, where time is slightly stretched, renders them extraordinary, unfamiliar, with no possibility of recognition but also strangely sculptural.

When and why did you choose to explore color?
Much of my photography focuses Black and White but this prestigious award affirmed my use of color.

In the series City Anonymity® did you visit the same area over and over again?
I see the stairs as a recurring element. City Anonymity® depicts my images on the streets of New York, there is so much opportunity and possibility, there is one particular location that was exceptionally magical. I am looking forward to the next one.

In a time when we’ve been isolated due to the pandemic, what do you hope these images resurrect?
I believe my photographs bring us back to pre pandemic times, kinetic energy and a lot of movement

Where do you hope to see this body of work evolve?
I hope that my work can be incorporated in editorial and branding.