The Daily Edit – Seth Adams: Bowhead Census

- - The Daily Edit


Seth Adams

What is the bowhead census?

It’s a once-a-decade survey of the bowhead whale population in the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas. As the bowheads migrate from the Chukchi Sea to Beaufort Sea they swim past Point Barrow. The researchers set up the perch on a pressure ridge overlooking an open lead where they visually count the whales as they swim past during their migration. It’s a fascinating project that is very little known.

Was this a personal project?
Yes, sort of. I was in UtqiaΔ‘vik (formerly known as Barrow), which is the northernmost point in Alaska, with a program called Skiku that sends volunteer coaches to rural Alaska to teach kids to ski. My wife, Faustine, used to live in UtqiaΔ‘vik so for her it was a trip back to her old stomping grounds, and hearing stories about the place, the sea ice, its people for years really made me want to explore this part of Alaska I did not know. Geoff Carroll is now retired, but worked for decades as a biologist with the North Slope Borough’s Wildlife Department and as a Wildlife Biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He is also an old friend of Faustine’s. He was going to head out onto the ice one afternoon to take on a shift with the Bowhead census, and he invited us to come along.

What is β€œthe perch?”
The “perch” is a high point on the sea ice pressure ridge that the Census team builds up and where they set their workstation and a blind to do their observations. The blind is mostly there to shield people from the wind and make it a little more comfortable to stand on the ice for hours. The team also sets up a comfortable wall tent close by the perch to rest, make food and warm up. The tent is surrounded by an electrified bear fence to keep curious polar bears out of it. The first day we went out we had been skiing with the middle school kids all morning, and Geoff invited us to go out with him that afternoon. We were able to borrow a snowmachine (that’s what we call snowmobiles in Alaska), so we headed out! Geoff didn’t really know I was a photographer, and that’s not why I was going. I just took my camera stuff because I always do. We went out twice more, as well, and on two of the days (but especially the first day) I got super lucky with nice light.Β 

How did you get access?
“Access” was a little funny, because on the North Slope taking pictures of anything to do with whales and especially whaling is pretty sensitive (and rightfully so; whaling can be controversial, and people don’t want to see their culture and traditions misunderstood or criticized by people who don’t understand the history or context.) However, I didn’t fully realize how controversial photography out on the sea ice can be at the time, and it was only a little later that it was explained to me just how sensitive it all is. I’ve since asked if it’s okay to use these photos to tell this story, and since my photos are really of the census and not of whaling I got a general okay to tell this story. Legally, of course, you don’t need it, but it’s a matter of respect.

Why is photography so sensitive?
I feel like I understand, but now that I’m asked to explain it, I’m not sure how to. There is a lot of history on the Slope, and because it’s such a small community things that might not seem like such a big deal to outsiders don’t get forgotten in the same way. I can point to one thing, for sure, which was a teenage kid from Gambell (an Inupiat village on an island off the western tip of Alaska) who harpooned a big whale. It’s a big deal in Inupiaq culture, and a big deal for the village – a whale will feed the whole village for an entire winter. Some photos were posted on Facebook by relatives, and were picked up by a newspaper reporter in Anchorage, where the catch was covered in a positive way. But then some asshole from an animal rights group launched a coordinated internet smear campaign against the kid, and he got non-stop hate mail and death threats and the like. It was really mean, and no matter what your views on whaling it was a fucked-up thing to do to a kid. That event is something that many native people cite as a reason that publicizing the traditional whale hunts only has downsides for them. Here is a story about that whole event.Β 

And actually, I read that article over a year ago, and just now I quickly reread it as I pasted the link, and I noticed something that makes for a good example of why it’s hard to tell stories about the North Slope – the article says that Gambell is a Siberian Yupik village, whereas I just wrote that it was Inupiat. From my perspective, it’s easy to say β€œI’m pretty sure they’re Inupiat. Yeah, I think that’s right.” and write it down. But when you’re a white guy who parachutes in, but then gets something like that wrong, it’s a huge deal to the people whose lives and cultures you’re writing about. It’s all very personal.Β 

How many days did you work on this, what was your biggest obstacle?
I shot all these photos in three short afternoons. The biggest obstacle was access to the sea ice – we had to borrow a snowmachine to get out there, and one wasn’t always available. One of those same days I heard that one of the crews had gotten a whale in the late afternoon – and the evening light in town was unbelievable (by mid-April it’s nearly light all night that far north, so “evening light” can mean 10 or 11pm) – and I was dying to get back out on the ice to see it and take pictures, but everyone that had a snowmachine was out riding it! So no dice. That’s why there are no pictures of actually landing the whale. I was pretty bummed about that at the time. I wanted to experience the happiness and community getting together to help with the whale.

How did you travel, and what were you trying to protect yourselves from?
We flew to UtqiaΔ‘vik, and got around town by car. But travel onto the sea ice was by snowmobile. The whaling crews very (very) laboriously chop a trail through the jumbled sea ice in anticipation of whaling season. Guns are for protection against polar bears, which can be a real danger out on the sea ice.

How did you protect yourself/gear in these temps?
The gear does fine in the cold, though obviously battery life is shorter. You have to be careful when you bring it back inside to protect it from the warm air, as condensation can form in places where you’d really rather it didn’t. There are a few tricks to keeping gear working in the cold, but mostly it’s fine. Keeping ourselves warm was a whole other deal, though – we had warm enough clothes to “actively stand around” while we taught kids to ski in the warm April sun, but we didn’t know we would be going out onto the sea ice when we packed for the trip. Out on the sea ice it is fucking cold. The wind blows in literally off the North Pole and it’s fucking cold. I was able to borrow a big sheepskin coat from Geoff – the same style the locals wear- after the first or second day out in the cold, and after that I was warm enough. But before that I just suffered.

Tell us about the drone shot.
I love drones for the ability to set the scene. I feel like the scale of and β€˜out-there’ness of the place is hard to capture from the ground. I included the video and the photo that looks out across the open lead for that reason; the one with the cluster of snowmobiles in upper left of the frame shows the spot that the whaling crews launch their boats from, and where a whale was hauled out the previous day. The Perch is on the right side of the frame in the same photo; it makes for an interesting metaphor, because it shows that the census and the whalers are separate, but also how inevitably close they need to be – they both need to share the trail onto the ice, share the open open lead, and they rely on each other in the event of any emergencies.

This Week in Photography: Towards a New History

 

Truly short post today.

(Like, for real.)

I’ve been writing some intricate columns lately, which have required me to spend a lot of time ingesting media in a toxic environment.

So I’m taking next week off, for my annual summer break, and will do my best to recharge the batteries so I can continue to put my finger on the cultural pulse for you.

I’ll have some more book reviews, travel articles from the winter, and then yesterday, I did online portfolio reviews with students at ICP in New York, and saw so much good photography and art that I’ll be writing a “The Best Work I Saw at…” post for you soon too.

As I’m isolated out here in my field, it was a blessing to have so many fun, cool conversations with a talented and diverse group of artists.

In eight reviews, I spoke with six women, and two men of color, so it felt like the most perfect experience for #2020.

The first artist showed me some incredible water color drawings/paintings, and we discussed the idea that it’s important to find the right medium to express our thoughts in the most appropriate way.

(Some ideas or emotions don’t need to be photographs.)

And just last week, I had another deep, intricate conversation with an African-American friend/colleague, in which we got into all the real issues, in a calm, positive way. (It may lead to an interview, so I’m keeping it cryptic for the moment.)

One thing he said, though, was so relevant, I want to share it here.

He suggested, bluntly, that if you asked 100 photographers to name their top 10 in the History of Photography, there was a strong chance almost no Black photographers would be chosen at all.

The established canon skews super-duper-heavily towards white people. (And men in general.)

It was hard to argue, as I began to think of my “favorite” names, and wasn’t sure I would pick a Black photographer, unless I were trying to front.

Which brings me to today’s book, “The History of Photography in Pen and Ink,” by Charles Woodard, published by A-Jump books in 2009. (Right in the eye tooth of the Great Recession, and given to me by someone who is no longer my friend, it’s been so long.)

I thought of this book, at first, because it is light and funny, and I knew I needed to keep it short today. (I rediscovered the book while searching my shelves a couple of months ago.)

Plus, after the NYT did that deep dive into Robert Frank’s famous image from “The Americans,” I figured you’d all like to see one of his other classics rendered as a simplistic drawing.

But these days, even reaching for a cute-little-production led to deeper thoughts, as I turned the pages, and counted how few women were included.

As I neared the end, my friend’s words echoed in my mind, as I recalled one Japanese photographer within, but no other obvious artists of color.

In #2020, if Charles Woodard decided to do this project from scratch, I expect we’d see the inclusion of some Latin American photographers, like Manuel Alvarez Bravo or Graciela Iturbide.

Maybe Gordon Parks would be in there, or Carrie Mae Weems?

I’d like to think so.

But the book, cute as it is, is evidence that our shared history, the History of Photography, (as it’s traditionally been taught,) does not include enough diversity.

Surely this will change, now, and hopefully it won’t mean the exclusion of some of the great Jewish-American photographers, or all those amazing Germans and French artists.

Maybe, just maybe, we can write bigger books, that include all the great photographic artists in history, from across the world, and show respect for what he, she or they had to say?

Just a thought.

See you in two weeks.

The Art of the Personal Project: Doug Ross

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own. Β I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before. Β In this new revised 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. Β Please DO NOT send me your work. Β I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist: Β Doug Ross

Artist Statement (Repeat post to honor Coney Island):

β€œConey Island, a black and white retrospective” is my photographic journey of the past ten years shooting at Coney Island. My photographs, of Coney Island, Brooklyn NY, represent my vison of an ever-changing canvas of people and experiences by the water’s edge, on the boardwalk and the streets that surround. They bring the viewer into a place that is intimate, gritty and unretouched by society. The people are who they are and have no excuses or facades. The rich black and white tones strip away the screaming colors and even sounds of the seashore park and its patrons and leave the viewer to just be fixated by the subjects alone. I am pleased to present this compellation of some of my favorite images from the area I so love.

 

To order a copy of his book ($40), please contact him here

APE contributorΒ Suzanne SeaseΒ 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.Β  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.Β She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.Β  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

The Daily Edit – FranΓ§ois Lebeau: Quarantine Photo Project: What is Home?

- - The Daily Edit

Tara Murao, Santa MonicaTerumi Murao, BrooklynRaheim Robinson, BrooklynCHAS, OaklandChuck Palmer, Coney IslandColette McInerney, Northern CaliforniaMargo Hayes, Boulder
Marine Johnson, MontrΓ©alJason Sellers, Frankfurt Germany

Quarantine photo project: What is home?

Photographer: François Lebeau

Heidi: How are you curating/finding your subjects?
FranΓ§ois: The project’s goal is to showcase people’s β€˜homes’ and how they interact with them: their physical home where they quarantined, their safe space where they go to, how they’re dealing with their own solitude and loneliness and also who they are in their own self. This 2020 spring has been very challenging for all of us, affecting people on so many different levels.

To find people, IΒ firstΒ sought out into my extended network for creative minds that would be willing to collaborate. Once I had some satisfying results that I could show to get more participants, I started to reach out to people in my network that I never had the opportunity to shoot with and thought it was such a good opportunity to do so. I did also started to reach out to people I never met who I had the desire to shoot with. Obviously, the response back was pretty low, but I did get a few answers back which was awesome. I did ask to the people I shot if they would have a few recommendations for me in their own network and it just snowballed from there.

The fact that I can shoot everywhere in the world, it was a little overwhelming at first to decide who I should ask.. I knew I wanted a variety of occupations, locations in the world and many type of ethnicities. I decided to aim on a certain category: creative people, at large. I know their work life has been affected a lot by the virus and they would potentially be more prone to collaborate since they understand the process of a creative project, it requires a lot of work on their end, propping the camera, moving all around their space, being patient with the whole process.

What is the commonality in this series?
The element that had a strong presence in every session was this openness and desire to connect, to exchange with another human. The participants had been so generous with their time and privacy, willing to do whatever it took to get the images I was envisioning. This brought this sense of intimacy and vulnerability to the whole series, which I was hoping for when I started. I have this fascination for the authenticity of people and accessing their vulnerability. I think the word vulnerable has a negative connotation in the general culture, but to my point of view, being vulnerable reflects strength, trust and confidence in yourself. Everybody is human, everybody has their own feelings, and we should celebrate that.

Did these questions get answered: Who we are? Where we come from? What values are at its foundation?
With the recent events of police brutality and racism on top of the pandemic, it brought people to think deeply about ourselves, as a society and as a human. It affected me a lot, I reassessed all my beliefs and scrutinized my origins as well. I basically asked myself those questions in the attempt to understand more who I am. It is not easy questions to answer, but asking these to ourselves is part of the solution for a better world. I won’t pretend I found those answers cause they will take time to find and they will be personal to each one of us. It is more an invitation to ask them yourself where are you in your thought process and find your own ones.

How has this changed your view of photography? (travel impact, resources needed, process?)
I still believe that ’standard’ photography has its place. This is definitely a new way to approach our medium, which probably will influence the way we will be working in the future, at least for certain type of shoots. It is convenient, but has its limitation as well. Technology will evolve around it to make that way of shooting better, but who knows. Only time will tell how it will converge.

When I decided I would work in photography, I didn’t sign up for that kind of photography. But like the photographers that, not so long ago, needed to adapt from film to digital, we will need to adapt as well if this is to become a new avenue.. I can see good things coming out from this new way of approaching our medium that is photography.

How much are you engaging with each person? What are the parallels or differences from shooting your portraits in person?
The nature of the project itself has a very personal approach. I’m in the personal space of my subject, we work together to get the image we want, we talked about how we are doing through these interesting times, we hang out. So yes, it is very engaging. I am also living the same things as well. I need that human connection, so I’m taking the opportunity to connect with them too which is great.

One thing that is very different is that there is no body language while I’m shooting from my end. Usually, in the ’normal’ world, I direct my subject a lot with my body itself, showing them what I’d like them to do. But the way I shoot those portraits, they don’t see me. I’ve learn pretty quickly that I’d need to refine my vocal directions, figure out which is their left and right and slow down a little how I talk so my directions are as clear as possible. I want them to feel that I am there, even though I am not. One interesting thing that I’ve heard from them many times is they are surprised how I see details of their space, that they didn’t even see. Light, objects, angles and composition. It’s like I’m there, but I’m miles away. Some sort of presence without being there. Very paradoxal.

Your body of work celebrates the natural world, what have you discovered about this virtual one? What will transcend into your adventure work, if anything?
The main thing I’ve always been drawn in photography has been the duality between beauty and rawness, wherever it is. I always had this appreciation for imperfections, natural states and authenticity. At first, when I started to shoot this project, I encountered a few obstacles that was stopping me to get my initial desired results: quality of the internet connection, shooting my laptop screen with my camera and not being at the same place as my subject. But more into the project, I embraced those imperfections and it made the narrative of the project even stronger by accentuating the physical distance in between us and accepting that actual way of communicating. It puts us in context of this era with the imperfections of our communications tools and makes those images and people more relatable with those interesting life situations we are all in.

Most of my work has been in the outdoor industry, but what lies behind this work is my fascination to the complexity of everybody’s story. My story is complex, everybody’s has their own as well. Having the privilege to access theirs for a moment is just one of the best compliments I can have as a photographer. Whether it’s outside, in studio or through a virtual shoot, I barely see any difference.

Why is β€˜β€™Climbing Rock’’ important to you as a book and body of work?
Rock climbing photography was how I got to start my professional career. Rock climbing has been a passion on many levels: I love the lifestyle of it, I love the people that makes the community, I love the sport in all its aspects and being able to document it is just a joy. Through my network, I knew Jesse Lynch, the author, and Martynka Wawrzyniak, the project manager at Rizzoli and they wanted to put a climbing book together. They approached me, we worked on the concept and we were in for a full year to put that book together. Being chosen to put a collection of my own personal work in a 250+ pages coffee table book is just one of the best compliment I had and affirmed my place in both the photography and climbing world. I’ve been doing those images for myself and for others for quite a bit, and being able to share them with many more people through this outstanding piece of work is just a gift.

Naturally you/the camera goes unnoticed; we are focused on the climber athlete, I feel we often forget you are also on the wall, and at equal risk.
That’s a really good observation which I rarely think of. Maybe due to the vision I want to create and also probably because I’m so familiar to be in those unusual positions. Β Rock climbing photography in the outdoor community has always fascinated me. It got into me, and many others. Its exposure, different angles and just this energy that transcends freedom, making those compelling images when it’s well done. I always like that in one image, I can capture physical prowess, authenticity in the effort, magic light and graphic lines. But yes, for certain type of photography, it can be risky, even more if your system is not very refined, or even worse, if you don’t know what you are doing. It requires some knowledge to navigate on ropes and to be able to judge if what you are doing won’t put you in danger. So in a nutshell, yes, we are in precarious positions up there, but with experience, the risks are pretty low. It takes a lot of work to get in position, so getting an unforgettable image is very rewarding.

This Week in Photography: Racism and Art

 

Part 1. The Intro

 

I have a question.

 

Do you think everyone is racist?

 

Personally, I don’t. And I wrote as much a few weeks ago, when I claimed I’m not racist.

Given all the supposedly controversial things I write here, I’ve expected someone to come after me, at some point, and pull something out of context.

And it may yet happen.

But I also believe that some people, (frankly a lot of people,) don’t hate and disrespect others based solely on the color of their skin, or their ethnicity.

(And I’ve written about the evils of structural racism many times.)

If you’ve been reading all along, you know I’m happy to admit my failings, and have chronicled my own privileged youth, so I try to keep it real for you each week.

Hell, I even called out the NYT for building a super-diverse room, at their annual portfolio review, but encouraging conditions where each racial/ethnic group stuck to its own.

What’s the point of that?

Maybe it’s because I’m a “bohemian artsy type,” but for me, few things are more pleasurable than hanging out with people from different parts of the world, or different cultures.

As I wrote last week, when we come together, it creates an energy that is as addictive as it is infectious. Of course, the one thing that can get in the way is one’s political philosophy, because while I try to treat each person with respect, that falls apart when we’re talking about people who don’t respect others.

(Like all the Texans and Arizonans who won’t value other people’s health by wearing masks or social distancing in their home states, and then come to New Mexico and disregard our public health ordinances. Fuck those guys!)

I’m on this rant for two reasons, which will hopefully become obvious before this column is done.

First off, I came across a story on Twitter yesterday, where the actress Jenny Slate left a Netflix show, “Big Mouth” because she had been hired and paid to be the voice actress for a character who was half Black, and half Jewish-American.

Truth: I’d never seen the show, and typically find Jenny Slate to be annoying every time I’ve seen her on screen.

I’m literally not a fan.

But her mea culpa letter on Instagram felt like something from a Maoist re-education camp, in which she wrote:

“I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play “Missy” because her mom is Jewish and White- as am I. But “Missy” is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people. I acknowledge how my original reasoning was flawed, that it existed as an example of white privilege and unjust allowances made within a system of societal white supremacy, and that in me playing “Missy,” I was engaging in an act of erasure of Black people.”

Cultural Revolution propaganda poster

 

Have we gotten to the point where an actress accepting a job a few years ago, in which the character is 50% her ethnicity, means she was complicit in “the erasure of Black people”?

I’m having a hard time with that one, even though it’s obvious now that such jobs need to go to Black people.

Couldn’t she have stepped down gracefully, doing the right thing in letting Black actors voice Black characters, without the massive and awkward public apology?

Especially because I watched an egregious act of racism on Top Chef All Stars this week, yet I found no mention of it anywhere in the media.

My wife and I were bingeing the series, right before the finale, and came upon an episode where the chefs were pitching concepts for a restaurant, with the top 2 chosen for the traditional “Restaurant Wars” episode.

One chef, Eric Adjepong, a Ghanian-American, pitched a restaurant called “Middle Passage,” which was in honor of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Food from Eric Adjepong’s website

 

The judges passed.

Another chef, white-guy Kevin Gillespie, from Georgia, pitched a concept called “Country Captain,” which promised “Plantation” food, and he WAS chosen.

Primarily because his main dish, the eponymous Country Captain, was the first American version of chicken curry, as the necessary spices were brought over in the 19th Century.

If you can believe it, no mention was made that the spice trade was interconnected with the slave trade, which brought SLAVES to those plantations.

WTF!

And it gets worse…

Eric Adjepong was actually the chef who was eliminated that week, and one reason, (beyond his food not being good enough,) was that the judges called his concept confused, because he wanted his restaurant to have both fine dining quality food and causal service.

They could not comprehend such an idea.

One judge, former Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard, from Chicago, actually said to him that it sounded like he didn’t want his service to be “uppity.”

UPPITY!

 

 

To recap: Top Chef supported a concept about Plantation food, with spices brought over along with the slave trade, and cut one of only two African-American contestants, while using the word “uppity” while chopping the Black guy, and rewarding a chef who has a restaurant literally called “Gunshow.”

(As in, the only places where Americans can buy guns without background checks.)

 

 

Say what you will about Jenny Slate, but I checked out “Big Mouth” this morning for a minute, to see if she had done the voice acting equivalent of “blackface,” but she had not.

(It was kind of a nerd voice.)

How does one group of actors self-excoriate, when the other act of racism isn’t even in the public consciousness?

Maybe because systemic racism is so systemic that most people don’t know or care that it’s there until mass protest movements form?

(And because legitimate, self-aware artists can sometimes get caught up in a wave of shame.)

Jenny Slate, and Nick Kroll, who created “Big Mouth,” are both Jewish-Americans, and “our” group has been the victim of hatred for Millennia. (Nick Kroll also issued a public apology.)

Frankly, I think it’s time all the rational, cool people unite against our common enemy, Donald J Trump, (and his maskless hordes,) and make sure to vote the asshole out, no matter what!

 

Part 2: The Good Stuff

 

I swear, today, my goal was to write about the amazing art I saw at the Rijksmuseum, back in Amsterdam in February.

I was lucky enough to get press access, in the only free hour I had, and was there for the brilliant, inspirational Caravaggio/Bernini exhibition.

As I’d learned about art in Rome, back in 1997, of course these two are among my favorite artists of all time.

Proper geniuses.

The best of the best.


 

Then, getting to roam through the Rembrandts and the Frans Hals paintings, and the Vermeers as well…

I saw so much great shit.

And I want to show it to you in a nice set of images.

 

But I also remember walking through Amsterdam, and overhearing a tour guide instructing his followers in a bit of the city’s history.

The reason all those great paintings exist is that the Dutch had the Western World’s first middle class, due to their Republic in the 17th Century, because of all their global raiding.

And they took part in the slave trade too!

They colonized like motherfuckers, from Indonesia to South America to my hometown of Holmdel, New Jersey.

The Dutch, these days, are the most progressive, cool, open-minded people out there.

But it’s mostly because their ancestors were a bunch of resource-and-people stealing assholes 400 years ago.

And most of the great art, through the Millenia, was made in service of money and power.

I’ve taught art history, and I’ll tell you, almost all the good old shit is basically religious and/or political propaganda.

The spoils of war are what we worship.

How do we reconcile that?

I’m not sure we can.

But if anyone starts trying the burn down the museums, and the paintings, I’ll pull out my martial arts and try to defend our collective history.

(Or at least, I tell myself I will.)

Because art is about creation, and it’s one of the few things we can hold up against centuries of destruction, and death, and feel good about.

Right?

Then again, if the biggest museums offered equal space, acclaim, and respect to non-Western traditions, maybe we’d have a less racist world?

Maybe if the museums, (at least in America,) which are supported by billionaires and oligarchs, were themselves less a part of the structural racism problem, we’d already be living in a better country?

Like I said, there are no easy answers.

But at least we can ask the right questions.

The Art of the Personal Project: Adam Moran

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own. Β I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before. Β 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. Β Please DO NOT send me your work. Β I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist: Β Adam Moran

When the world started to shut down due to Covid 19, all my future shoots were cancelled/postponed, and like many other parents suddenly my wife was working from home full time, and we had lost our childcare. Since I had no future work, I was there to take to over the childcare full-time for our daughter Mabel who was almost 2. She’s a kid with a lot of energy, she wants to be out running, chasing squirrels, climbing stairs, or just about anything active. Since I could no longer take her to the playground we only had a small grassy park in our neighborhood and our backyard as our little world to burn out her energy.
I take a million photos of her already to share with our families on the East Coast, but suddenly I found myself taking more and more since we were together 24/7. Β I would shoot a photo either on my iPhone or mirrorless that I bring everywhere, and then I started to notice funny similarities between some of my sports and fitness work. Β Sometimes it was the light and lines, sometimes the pose, and sometimes it was just a funny coincidence. I quickly realized that at times I couldn’t help it, I was trying to frame photos the same as I did at work, when she was just playing around. After a few weeks I started to dig into the drives, and match up the photos for fun, and then I started posting them on my instagram account. I’ve kept my instagram mostly work related for the last year, so this was suddenly making my daughter more public on there, but in a funny way. After a few shots I started getting so many messages from people to keep it coming, and they were looking forward to it each time. In the end I did 16 match ups with Mabel and athletes like Mike Trout, Tony Hawk, Megan Rapinoe and more. My time with Mabel is a break from all the craziness in the world right now, and I think these photos matchups were a simple way to keep things light, when it all seems so heavy. Β At one point I was stressing that I didn’t have a β€œcorona project” like everyone else was talking about, and then I realized I didn’t need to come up with one, my project was our life together, and I just getting to shoot that is the best project possible.

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributorΒ Suzanne SeaseΒ 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.Β  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.Β She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.Β  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.Β  Instagram

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

 

Pricing & Negotiating: Point of Sale and Collateral Content for a Wine Brand

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Wine and food pairings with lifestyle and cooking images in an outdoor environment

Licensing: Point-of-sale and collateral use of up to 26 images in perpetuity

Photographer: Portraiture and home/garden specialist

Agency: N/A

Client: Large wine brand

Here is the estimate:

Creative/Licensing Fees: The client presented a shot list that included six food/wine pairings, each with two variations:Β one featuring the owner of the companyΒ and one without. Additionally, they asked for one hero shot featuring the same subject preparing food. For each of these 13 images, they asked for a vertical and a horizontal option, totaling 26 shots. The primary purpose of the shoot was to create point-of-sale content to accompany the bottles in stores, and they anticipated using some of the shots on their website and for other collateral purposes. I priced the first image (the hero shot) at $2,500, images 2-7 (the first six food/wine pairings) at $1,000 each, images 8-13 (the next six food/wine pairings) at $500 each, and images 14-26 (the second orientation of each shot) at $300 each. That totaled $15,400, which I rounded down to an even $15,000. While I wanted this number to reflect a fee for a one-year license, and then double or triple it to account for the perpetual duration, based on my experience I knew that aiming higher than $15k for a one day shoot would likely put this photographer out of the running for this particular project, so we stuck with this number.

Tech Scout, Pre-Production and Travel Days: We included one day for the photographer to scout the location ahead of timeΒ and another day to line up their crew and work out logistics/scheduling with the client. We detailed that two travel days were waived because the photographer was willing to work as a local.

Assistants: We included a first and a second assistant for the shoot day to help with lighting/grip and to be extra sets of hands on set.

Digital Tech: We included a digital tech to help display the images to the client as they were being captured.

Equipment: This included the photographer’s cameras and lenses, as well as their grip and lighting equipment and workstation for the digital tech.

Airfare, Lodging, Transportation: We detailed that these expenses were waived as the photographer was willing to work as a local.

Mileage, Parking, Additional Meals, Expendables, Misc.: This included about $250 for mileage and supplemental mealsΒ and another $250 for a bit of buffer and to cover unforeseen expenses.

First Edit for Client Review: This covered the photographers time to do an initial edit of the content, and provide the client a gallery of content to review.

Retouching: We included $200 for each of the 26 shots, and noted that this included up to 2 hours or retouching per image.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project

 

If you have any questions, or if you need helpΒ estimatingΒ orΒ producingΒ a project, please give us a call at 1 610 260 0200 orΒ reach out. We’re available to help with any and allΒ pricing and negotiatingΒ needsβ€”from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

The Daily Edit – Brandon King: Theotus Media

- - The Daily Edit

Brandon King

Heidi: Tell us about this photo
Brandon: On that day protestors laid face down, with their hands behind their backs in reaction to the excessive force used by the Minneapolis Police Department that caused George Floyd’s tragic death. This was easily the most powerful single moment I’ve encountered while photographing protests in Ventura. I vividly remember sifting through possible photos to edit following the protest and getting chills as I landed on this photo. This moment was one of a few during that day where emotions were just so genuine and vulnerable on the faces of protesters that it truly shifted things into perspective for me. This isn’t a trend. We are all here fighting for something much bigger than us. Fighting for a freedom that we shouldn’t have to fight for, but yet we’re here, laying face down in our local streets in hopes of change.


Heidi: When did you have clarity about White Silence?
Brandon: I gained clarity to the idea of “White Silence” within the past month or so, during the controversy of the murder of George Floyd. I am a African American man who grew up in a melting pot of a city which is Oxnard, CA. I truly have not “Seen in color” my entire life. I’ve looked at people equally my entire life, and I felt that if you had an opinion on something, well cool,while if you did not have an opinion on something, it’s just as cool. This is different in the sense that for a true CHANGE, us black people need our brothers and sisters of all races and cultures to come through for us to get the point across and bridge the gap of systemic racism.

How did you grow as a photographer while covering the protests?
As a photographer, I don’t know if I grew much while photographing the protests specifically due to the adrenaline rush of it all, but I do know that I grew some when editing the photos. Sifting through the photos making selections for images that I would eventually edit is usually looking for the most “Perfect” photos. This time was different because I wasn’t looking for a genuine smile. I was looking for the most powerful photos. Not only powerful with my subject(s) expression, but the words that were plastered on the poster boards. These words were so beautiful, and much more meaningful than anything I could create with my camera, alone.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
I’ve been into photography seriously for 5 years. Lifestyle portraits are among my favorite types of photos to work on. Creating with my photos gives me a different type of liberating happiness that I can’t feel through any activity or medium of art. Before COVID-19, I was working hard to establish myself as a hybrid sports & concert photographer, but unfortunately those endeavors have paused temporarily. With all the extra quarantine time I’ve been trying to decide where I want to direct my focus next in the field of photography. Protests have been awesome to photograph because they have allowed me to express my frustration in social issues that I have dealt with directly, as well as use my artistic gifts to spread awareness in hopes of change.

Do you remember your first paying job? If you could talk to your younger self, what would you say?
My first paying gig was actually a grad shoot back in 2014 for someone who was a family friend, yet they were a complete stranger to me. Looking back on the shoot, it was a rough one. I remember struggling in the bright CSU Channel Islands midday sun so vividly. I was still adjusting to shooting in Manual mode so I struggled within peaking highlights throughout the shoot, and I manually focused every photograph that day simply because I didn’t know any better. If I could speak to my younger self, I would’ve informed myself that preparation is key! Having some examples to work off of, knowing what your client is looking for, time of day, etc. I went into the photo session with zero game plan and ultimately it showed as I look back.

How much direction do you give your subjects during portrait sessions?
During portrait sessions I tend to not give my subjects too much direction. Every model, subject, or family is different. I tend to choose a general area, set them in that location, see what they do naturally and then work off their energy. Some people are completely comfortable in front of the camera and it’s easy from the beginning of the shoot to get a solid groove going, while others take a bit more time, and maybe even some confident boosters from me to find their zone of comfort where they are then able to be photographed to show their true colors.

Featured Promo – Maya Visnyei

Maya Visnyei

Who printed it?
Printer: Flash Reproductions // flashreproductions.com

Who designed it?
Designer: Awake Studio // weareawake.ca // @awake.studio

Tell me about the images?
Light in the Dark is built around a distinct and refined paletteβ€”black and gold. I created two types of imagery: food as sculpture, texture, and shape which contrast with the scenic images conveying time and place. This project comprises a booklet in two parts, bound together in a way that allows the viewer to experience both simultaneously. There is a push and pull between the images so that they interact with each other regardless of what sequence or pairings they are viewed in. Its unique binding and collection of images encourage active engagement and open interpretation on the part of the viewer.

In addition to its function as a marketing tool, I also used the promo piece as an opportunity to push myself creatively. I chose to go beyond seeing the project as a collection of stand-alone images, but instead to craft a unique piece where the images worked in-tandem with the design. Working on the project over the course of a year, I focused on the mood and feeling that I wanted to create, tailoring each of the images to best highlight the black and gold aesthetic.

How many did you make?
1000 pieces

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I send out promos once a year

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes definitely. I have seen a direct correlation between sending out my promo pieces and getting noticed + hired by new clients. Which makes the time and financial investment worth it. It’s an opportunity to get people to stop for a moment during their busy day at the office and look at my work. Perhaps they will tear out an image that speaks to them or they will go to my website, either way it’s an opportunity for me to make an impression. It is also a great way to continue a conversation with a client, reaching out to them through email after they’ve received the promo.

This Week in Photography: Searching for Hope

- - Fashion

 

Part 1. The Intro

 

America is sick right now.

Like, really sick.

We’ve reached a point in our history where there is no longer any such thing as “our history.”

It’s gone.

How do I know?

Because the statues are coming down, and the guns are going up.

For real.

This week, here in New Mexico, someone got shot at a protest in Albuquerque.

A protest in front of an art museum, where a bunch of protestors were attacking an intricate sculpture that had been dedicated to the colonial history of the Spanish conquistadores.

(Conquerers.)

I stood in front of the art piece, in 2018, filled with awe, because it actually contains an entire wagon train, filled with all sorts of colonists, and pack animals, and also includes the family names of all the Spaniards who crossed the world to take over New Mexico.

 

The protestors were mainly interested in the lead guy, Juan de OΓ±ate, who colonized New Mexico, massacring the indigenous population as a result, including chopping off the feet of many a Native American.

The guy was a monster.

But for centuries, he was revered by the Spanish-descended locals, and despised by the Native Americans.

As I’ve written here before, then the United States came in, took the land from Mexico and the Native Americans, and became the enemy of both.

But at this protest, there were apparently some heavily armed right wing counter-protestors, calling themselves the New Mexico Civil Guard, who menaced the left wingers with the implication of violence.

Which then became actual violence when a right wing Latino shot someone.

And then people asked, where were the police?

Except so many of these protests have been about defunding the police, when they haven’t been about our criminal President, or systematic racism.

Who will protect us from the heavily armed right wingers, if not the heavily armed (often right wing) police forces?

People are shooting in the streets to defend one set of stories against another.

And to be clear, I have no love for OΓ±ate, and think it’s wrong to deify monsters.

I’m just saying, we’re way, way past Rodney King’s cry of “Can’t we all just get along?”

 

Part 2. The Middle Part

 

As I joked in the column two weeks ago, George Washington is now seen as a bad guy, for owning slaves, despite the fact that Americans have revered him for centuries as the father of this country.

I’ve written many, many times that American society was built on the twin evils of slavery, and the genocide of Native America, but that history, (Howard Zinn style,) is now in a war with the one that believes White Christians have always run the show, done what they wanted, and expect to continue with that deal, such as it works for them.

So I ask you, where do we go from here?

Without any sense of a unifying force, how does it get better?

Where is the hope?

That is the question I asked myself today, searching desperately for a column idea, because deadlines are deadlines.

Content must be provided.

And then…

And then…

Inspiration came, from the most unlikely of sources.

Instagram, brought to you by Mark Zuckerberg, a man who loves money and power so much that, even as a Jewish-American, he has no compunction against empowering the kind of right wing psychopaths that would like to see all Jews dead.

Say what now?

I was scrolling through Instagram, literally grasping for any sort of hope, and there it was.

Just waiting for me to notice.

 

Jennique and her family at the KETURA shop

Because, as you don’t know, one of the absolute highlights of my trip to Amsterdam last winter was the time I spent at KETURA, a super-hip streetwear shop, and I came home with this awesome, gender-neutral jacket, that may or may not make me a cultural appropriator every time I put it on.

KETURA jacket, “Navajo Red” fence, blue sky, and Arizona fire smoke

(Yes, I’m wearing it right now.)

 

Part 3. The story

 

I’d heard that there was a ferry to take me to a photo museum in Amsterdam, and I knew it left near the back of Central Station, because I saw the boats on my desperate search for a bathroom. (Previously covered.)

So as I was walking through the station, on a a fact finding mission, my eyes were Shanghaied by the amazing, colorful fabrics I saw in a blur to my right. (I was walking really fast, hence the blur.)

I immediately changed course, and headed right inside the shop. As it happens, there are some amazing streetwear stores in the middle of the train station, including the uber-trendyΒ “Daily Paper,” where I also got to know some of the folks. (Including a cool guy named Godsend.)

But as soon as I entered KETURA, I saw the owner, Jennique and a her children, hanging out.

 

She could not have been more friendly, grounded, and cool if she tried.

I began trying things on, just because, but they were mostly too small for me, as even though they’re unisex, they’re (probably) more intended for women.

As the Instagram post states, Jennique is Surinamese, as the Dutch colonized the South American country years ago. And she actually lives in Antwerp, Belgium, and commutes to Amsterdam, where her twin sister lives.

Her husband is Moroccan, so his North African country was colonized by the French.

The kids speak Dutch/Flemish, I think, or maybe just French, but probably both.

They don’t speak English, so while at first they were suspicious of me, as I kept smiling and being nice, eventually we made friends.

While I was chatting with Jennique, at one point, she got distracted, and then distraught, as a man was “this” close to stealing some of her things, and running, but she stopped him at just the right moment.

That was stressful.

I asked her to hold the one jacket that fit me, as I was headed out on an adventure around the city, and then I came back later to buy it.

Such a great price, like maybe 35 Euros?

She gave me a beautiful orange scarf, as a gift for my wife, and then I went back the next day to buy a big piece of fabric to protect some of the leftover sheets I took back from the printer. (So they wouldn’t get ruined in my luggage.)

 

Scarf and fabric

 

Of course, I’d already dropped the book pages once, in the Utrecht train station, while I was trying to protect them from the rain.

(So I guess I just didn’t want to get them MORE ruined.)

Jennique and her sister were so nice, and positive. Hanging out in the shop, chatting about fashion and art, and making smiley faces at her children, who could not understand a word I said, was an energizing experience.

It was the absolute pure essence of how humans can make each other better, and stronger, when we value difference, and look for connection.

And she assured me the jacket looked good on me, and that I could pull it off. (Also, I told her I’d let my wife wear it sometimes.)

Before this moment, I haven’t worn it once, because there has been nowhere to go, the last few months.

No cities to prowl.
No parties to attend.
No hipsters to impress.

Oddly, all the things I tried on next door at “Daily Paper” didn’t look quite right.

The colors, while stylish, didn’t match my skin tone.

And now that I get all their ads on Instagram and Facebook, and see all their models are Black, I understand the clothes aren’t (really) meant for me.

What about my KETURA jacket though?

Do I pull it off?

While America is clearly not the melting pot we were promised, do we have any hope for a better future?

If so, we need to look not to our politicians, but to our artists.

To our neighbors.

To ourselves.

The Art of the Personal Project: Aldo Chacon

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own. Β I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before. Β 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. Β Please DO NOT send me your work. Β I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist: Β Aldo Chacon

Correfocs

Correfocs are some of the most interesting and dangerous things I’ve photographed in my life.Β In theΒ correfoc, a group of individuals will dress as devils and light up fireworksΒ that areΒ fixed on their devil’s pitchforks. Most of these dancing devils will move to the sound of a rhythmic drum group, as they set off their fireworks among crowds of spectators. As a spectatorΒ it is your choice to participate inside the ring of fire or watch from a distance. The spectators that participate dress to protect themselves against small burns and attempt to get as close as possible to the devils, running with the fire.

The first time I experienced this celebration, was while I was living in Barcelona. I saw it and thought it was the most insane thing, running around with blazing fireworks attached to your hands? Crazy! But truth is, it was also something very visual and exciting. Correfocs reminded me of an anarchist protest or a punk rock concert mosh pit. Observing all these people running around and pushing against each other in devil outfits with fire coming out of their hands was in a way a reflection of how they where not afraid of living on the edge.

Photographing this experience was a thrill. Everywhere I looked there where flares and little dots of light coming towards my camera. The energy was high,Β a frenzy. Everywhere I pointed a shadow or a highlight would create a beautiful abstract representation of what was happening. People where pushing against each other, running away from the fire, as of me I was trying to get as close as possible and I was trying to capture the atmosphere and the people, when it was time the fire came close and I just didn’tΒ stop pressing the shutter.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributorΒ Suzanne SeaseΒ 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.Β  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.Β She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.Β  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.Β  Instagram

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

 

Black Photographers Matter

- - The Future, Working

Guest post by Amy V. Cooper

This past week has provided a huge swell of excitement about the potential for change not just in our country, but in the photography community. It has been amazing to see so many
businesses not only supporting Black Lives Matter, but also pledging to review their own
practices and biases, launching internal reviews and initiatives, and, for a few, publicly
announcing the steps that they will be taking to address racism and the lack of diversity within their companies.

We have seen white photographers create a database for finding Black photographers; photo editors, designers, consultants and agents offering pro bono services and mentorships to Black photographers.Β Resources for finding Black photographers like Authority Collective, Diversify Photo, Color Positive and others are being amplified.

Photo courtesy ofΒ Alexis Hunley

It’s not breaking news that the photography, media and advertising industries in the U.S.have a great deal of work ahead to further diversify. β€œI can’t find them” is no longer an excuse for not hiring and representing Black creatives.

It’s time to get to work.

With input from Black photographers, I’m offering these suggestions toward becoming a more inclusive and diverse industry. WeΒ are not suggesting that photographers be hired solely on the basis of race – nobody is asking for or wanting this. But Black photographers need to be seen and feel seen.

This is not about handouts. It’s about opportunity.

I am proposing that we work harder to include Black perspectives in our spaces and offer more opportunities for them to be seen, supported, educated, mentored, empowered, amplified, celebrated and paid.

I am proposing that we hire Black photographers to shoot more than race-related reportage and subjects or experiences that we think are germane to theirs.

I am challenging us to consider more Black photographers for shoots and triple bids, give them more of our time and invite them into our networks.

As a former editor and art buyer, I know that it feels risky to take a chance on someone when their current portfolio might fall short of our explicit expectations, but now is the time to start taking some risks so that more Black photographers have the opportunity to gain the experience that they need in order to compete with non-Black photographers.

Here are actions we can all take:

  • Offer scholarships, mentorships and/or paid internships to Black people.
  • Intentionally network and ask for meetings with Black creatives.
  • Accept meetings and respond to emails and DMs from Black people.
  • Do our homework to research and discover more Black creatives within our industry.
  • Hold others accountable for inclusion, ask questions and take inventory of diversity
    within our spaces. This is going to be uncomfortable and hardβ€”do it anyway.
  • Create policies and diversity initiatives with practices to maintain momentum and
    responsibility beyond periods of protest.
  • Ask your friends and colleagues what they are doing to expand the diversity in their
    networks.
  • Amplify Black voices and issues in ways that are not self-serving.
  • Reach out to schools and colleges that have more, or majority Black students, or areΒ in more diverse neighborhoods. Volunteer your time, expertise or money.
  • Listen to Black people. Make them feel welcome.Β 

Photo courtesy ofΒ Cedric Terrell

More Specifically:

Photographers:

  • Find, hire and/or mentor Black assistants, producers and stylists.
  • Cast Black talent, including those with darker skin and natural hair.
  • Find hairstylists who can properly style natural hair.
  • When joining organizations or directories and signing up for festivals, competitions and conferences, ask about diversity policies and pay attention to diversity in panels and reviews. If diversity is missing, speak up and invest your money elsewhere if not addressed.
  • Offer your services to Black-owned businesses and amplify their products, over-
    delivering to those clients when possible.
  • Take stock of the diversity in your own portfolio. Explore more diverse subjects,
    locations, cuisines, etc.

Photo Editors, Creative Directors & Art Buyers:

  • Add more Black photographers to your bookmarks and personal directories then utilize those directories.
  • Follow Black creatives on social media; invite them to your office or virtual office for portfolio reviews. Teach them about the process of working with your company and in your industry.
  • Initiate conversations and standards for reviewing and hiring more Black photographers and vendors within your company.
  • Feature Black creatives on the contributor’s page or bold the bylines. Advocate for them and amplify their work to other editors and buyers. If they are not ready, help them grow, introduce them to other photographers, crew and resources.
  • Mentor Blacks who want to be photo editors, creative directors and art buyers.
    We need a lot more of those.Β 

Photography Producers:

  • Add more Black people to your crew and vendor list.
  • Mentor or provide paid internships to Black creatives.
  • If you haven’t already, start building more diverse crews – before your clients start asking for them.
  • Find hair stylists who can work well with natural hair styles.
  • Talk to your vendors, casting and location scouts about their diversity initiatives.
  • Create production guidelines to address discrimination on set.
  • Ensure equal pay for Black crew and talent.
  • Offer to produce test shoots for Black photographers.

Stylists:

  • Find, hire and/or mentor Black assistants and stylists.
  • Source products from Black-owned businesses and designers.
  • Educate yourselves on Black hair, skin care, and products. Refer a more experiencedΒ stylist for a job if you are not qualified.
  • Offer your services for test shoots with Black photographers.

Photography Reps & Agents:

  • Understanding that less than 10% of major agency rosters are made up of BIPOC, work harder to diversify who you represent.
  • Mentor and introduce less experienced photographers to more experienced photographers, producers, stylists and consultants who can help them elevate their portfolios.
  • Offer portfolio reviews and more thorough responses to Black photographers’ inquiries.
  • Take Black photographers with you on agency visits and consider offering paid internships.
  • Consider creating an informative auto-reply or FAQ page to educate younger photographers or refer them to consultants.

Consultants:Β 

  • Introduce Black photographers to editors and art buyers. Amplify their work.
  • Encourage your white clients to diversify their portfolios and networks.
  • Connect with schools and colleges that are more predominately Black.
  • When you are asked to teach, review or be on a panel, evaluate the diversity of that panel or event. Speak up and ask for accountability if diversity is missing. Offer suggestions to include more Black creatives in the event or program. If diversity is not addressed, decline to collaborate until it is.

Photography Associations & Clubs:Β 

  • Diversify your boards, teachers, members, speakers and mission statements.
  • Amplify Black creatives on your platforms and in your newsletters, webinars and podcasts.

Directories & Sourcebooks: Pay to play directly affects diversity in all industries.

  • Amplify Black photographers and offer scholarships.
  • Diversify the decision makers who accept or reject applicants.
  • Diversify your webinars, podcasts and newsletters, and ensure the initiative
    continues after periods of protest
    .
  • Promote Black photographers to your network of art buyers.

Photography Festivals & Competitions:

  • Diversify your panels, judges, instructors, speakers and featured photographers.
  • Offer more attendee scholarships and ask sponsors to be a part of that.
  • Question the diversity of your sponsors’ ambassadorships, representatives and
    mission statements.

Technical Equipment Companies (Cameras, Lighting, etc.):

  • Diversify your ambassadorships and branding.
  • Sponsor Black photographers, offer scholarships and mentorships, provide teaching and training opportunities.
  • Donate equipment to, and volunteer in schools with majority Black students.

Schools/Colleges/Teachers:

  • Invite more diverse guests and Black creatives into your classrooms.
  • Hire more diverse instructors.
  • Invite Black students to audit your classes.
  • Teach about Black photographers and give your students assignments to report on more diverse photographers. Show them that not all successful photographers are white men.

Galleries & Museums:

  • Diversify your collections and amplify Black artists.
  • Offer mentorships, reviews and other access to Black photographers and
    communities.

Advertising Agencies:Β 

  • Update and clarify your diversity policies to your employees as well as your
    clients.
  • Advocate for better representation in front of and behind the camera.
  • Hire more Black employees, creative directors, art buyers, producers and writers,
    please.

Photo courtesy ofΒ Martine Severin

I understand that hiring, charging and offering discounts on the basis of race or ethnicity will require attention to legal guidelines. I am aware that we are going to have to uncomfortably navigate the complicated waters of tokenism and exploitation. And I realize that some of these suggestions may sound discriminatory in the exclusion of non-Blacks. That is certainly not my intention.

I am asking all of us, including myself, to work harder to empower and amplify Black artists so that we may have more balanced, consistent and truthful visual representations in our media and lives.

Let us remember that it was in fact an image, a video of George Perry Floyd Jr., that woke up so many people in our country to finally call for change. The photography industry will no doubt be a powerful agent in this revolution. It’s up to us to make it happen. Let’s get to work.

Amy V. Cooper is a Photography Consultant and Editor offering mentorships to Black photographers and to BIPOC interested in becoming photo editors or art buyers.

The Daily Edit – Social Studies Show: Stan Evans

- - The Daily Edit


Social Studies Show


Coca-Cola
Photographer:
Stan Evans
Producer: Verity Hoskins

Dual Dimensions
Concept: Val Harvey

Heidi: Now that you’re a few episodes deep in your Podcast called β€œSocial Studies Show” about Advertising and Activism, what is the common thread?
Stan: About a year ago I noticed a common thread: many of the gatekeepers in the advertising industry wouldn’t allow access or give their time to mentor minorities. I figured the only way to really have an impact and create measurable results was to do it myself.

Advertising and Activism share the same narrative β€œto get a message out to the masses” and on that path they’re parallel. Maintaining a full-time career and youth seeking internships can be difficult, so I started looking for a way to have a lasting and manageable impact on the industry. What if I could create a living library of information for minorities and women (really anyone) who were passionate about advertising and driven towards activism? Something that would live long after I’m gone and help future generations break into those fields.

After talking with Rebecca Williams VP, Group Creative Director at Burrell Communications about advertising and culture, what were your three biggest takeaways as a photographer over a podcast creator?
Stan:Β  Being a Producer
It’s a video series as well as a podcast, and I focus on tangible information. I conceptualize the shows, write the scripts, cast talent, direct each episode, shoot video, photos, and coordinate travel to make it all happen. I also coordinate video editing and graphic design around the series. The hardest part is finding the right guest and digging deep into their career challenges; both the highs and the lows. The key is walking that line between Advertising and Activism. One of the most telling and vulnerable moments on the show was Arturo Nunez talking about losing the opportunity to sign Steph Curry to Nike. It says alot about the process and the trust that’s built when someone like Arturo is willing to let down his guard to admit mistakes so others can learn, adjust, and avoid the same.

Being Vulnerable
Stepping in front of the camera and putting yourself out there for better or worse. As a photographer it’s so easy to hide behind the camera but in interviews guests often ask me pointed, sometimes surprising questions and put me on the spot. There’s no hidingβ€”the internet is a savage place. You have to be ready to respond and be ready to take the hits.

Handling Detractors
Negativity and detractors come with the territory. You start something new and everybody has β€œsuggestions” about how and what to do with the podcast. There were definitely people who didn’t get it.

β€œHow are Advertising and Activism Connected?” they asked….It got to the point where people would critique the work without taking the time to understand the concept or ask questions to learn; I’d just tell them to go do their own podcast. I’ve got my own thing over here, and it’s the work I want to create and leave for others. Honestly, I’ve failed at so many things, I know that even if I get knocked down doing this β€” I can get back up. I knew it was a good idea, and I was more afraid of not getting it done than doing it in a way that didn’t match someone else’s vision.

A year later we’re in a different climate of Activism in the United States and people totally get it now. A lot of Black voices weren’t being heard in the ad space, and I feel like I was actually ahead of the curve on looking for real ways to create change. I hope people are listening now. Black voices are going to save us. The economy and race relations are in turmoil and to survive companies are going to need to hire people of color to speak to those disenfranchised masses helping to course correct years of damage.Β  If companies ignore it, minority consumers will simply take their dollars and talents to businesses that appreciate them.

The Burrell campaignΒ  β€œWe Are Golden” shares the same inclusivity and representation as your recent Coca-Cola work, “History Shakers.” What does this work show you and tell us why it’s important.
Stan: The β€œWe Are Golden” campaign showed everyday black people in a positive light and gave them the respect they deserve. There’s a misconception in America that the Black man (or woman) gets treated equally, but it’s an illusion. Marketing at times fuels that illusion.

Dave Chapelle shares a real life example of this in his latest special. The police officer who pulled him over for speeding and let him off with a warning is the same officer who, a day later, shot John Crawford in Walmart while he was looking at a BB Gun.

Further and to put it in perspective, think about the differences between first responders and essential workers serving the public during COVID and celebrities who sheltered in place on private estates. We’re all going through lock down but our experiences are very different.

Everytime I shoot a photo I’m trying to challenge perception. Every person of color I shoot, from a background extra to Will Smith, deserves that equal level of humanity we all want. Advertising affects the message. I am the messenger.

Verity: There are so many reasons! First of all, I think any time you highlight someone who is excelling you increase the chance that a young person who looks like them, or has a background similar to them, or can relate to them in some way will see that and it will give them the confidence to pursue their dream and eventually excel themselves. I only really produce commercial jobs and of course, many of them are simply facilitating the creation of pretty pictures to help sell more stuff. I’m not a creative director or a brand manager – my job is to make it happen on budget and on time (with great snacks and a fab playlist! Haha). So any time I get a chance to work on something that has an ultimate purpose beyond just raising brand awareness, I feel like it’s important to jump on it. I was really excited and honored to be asked to work on this project.

Brands are admitting they are making mistakes and taking steps to address them. Right now we are in a cycle of mis-step, conflict, conflict resolution. Can you share the strides you and Verity have made which skip the need for conflict resolution?
Stan:Β I look at best case and worst case scenarios and work my way back. I ask a lot of questions with the client, and sometimes I have to go with my gut but as a Black man in America. My perspective is vastly different from many of my peers.

Growing up in a military family, having a camera at an early age and being genuinely curious gave me a broad perspective; most of all, though β€” I watch and I listen.Β I go through ad work of the past looking for what people did wrong or what people did right, and I apply learnings from all of that right now in the present.

Verity is a smart, strong woman who has worked with a lot of amazing photographers. A different set of eyes, realistic expectations of what we can produce within the confines we’re given and a female perspective are all welcome assets so I bounce the final ideas off her and we adjust, improve, and course correct where necessary. If we do the work and make it through all that, then we usually don’t have conflict resolution. Notorious B.I.G said .The key to staying, on top of things is treat everything like it is your first project. I take that to heart and have pride in my work.

Verity: I’m still learning, and while I know I have made mistakes, one piece of advice I received is to always be authentic and be curious. If the things that are coming out of my mouth and the actions I am taking feel authentic to who I am, which is a person who is always trying to do the right thing and to elevate others, then I am at least going to be on the right track. I try and approach each new situation with my mind wide open, ask a lot of questions and really listen to the answers. Production can be so hectic. You just want to cross things off your list as fast as possible. But if you can sit back a little sometimes and really be intentional in the midst of all of it, you can learn a lot more and as a result, make less mistakes. I ask Stan a lot of questions. He has never made me feel awkward for asking and has spent literally hours talking through things with me with humor and trust.

Can you share a vignette from your recent project together?
Verity: The second part of our Coca-Cola project was a three day stills lifestyle shoot to create assets for Black History month but also evergreen imagery that could be used throughout the year. It was December in Atlanta but we needed to create scenarios relevant to all seasons. On our last day we were shooting at Morehouse College, which is such a beautiful historic campus. It was raining and 43 degrees, and we needed to shoot a tailgate setup as well as various outdoor campus hangouts. I grew up in Canada, the daughter of British immigrants. Stan cracked up so many times watching me navigate various aspects of this shoot – there were many funny moments. I’ve never been to a tailgate in my life and have pretty much zero understanding of anything to do with American college life. I honestly didn’t know a single thing about Historically Black Colleges before this shoot. So while it was really important to solve the issue of shooting around freezing rain, and I wanted to figure it out fast, I had to really try and ask lots of questions and understand exactly the spirit of what we were trying to capture so I could find a solution. Everyone was worried about how to pull it off and everyone was offering a million ideas. Figuring out who to listen to and what questions to ask helped me prioritise the workarounds and compromises so that our client was happy and the images looked authentic.

Stan: Arriving on set that day it was cold and a torrential downpour. There were puddles 4 inches deep in some places and the wind was blowing sideways – placing gear and talent would be problematic. Looking at rearranging two mohos a gear truck and craft services to create a new set and avoid electrocution was gonna be tough ask and put us behind on an already challenging day but that is what was needed when I arrived. Verity made it all happen and luckily I brought 2 sets of clothes so we could get caught up and back on schedule making the creative shots happen, staying on schedule and keeping everyone safe.

The psychic toll of the recent weeks are heavy, chaos is the breeding ground for change. Movements are trying to hold community leaders, brands and gov’t accountable, are you hopeful for change?
Stan: I’ll put it like this. This race is a marathon not a sprint. Black people have been dealing for so long that this is just another day,Β  it’s like everyone else woke up from a coma. Β When I was young, my mother was afraid of me wanting to pursue photography because she thought no white people would hire me due to the color of my skin. Racism did that to her, made her set aside her dreams for herself and her children.

A few months ago I had a meeting arranged with a pretty high profile photo rep. I later found out the meeting was cancelled because the rep realized I was black.

Both those things are disappointments yet the significance of a black man shooting a black history campaign for a huge international brand is not lost on me.Β  No one is going to stop me because I have hope and believe in myself. Β  I don’t need the world to believe in me. I just need a few people who want to help change the world.Β  I dare to say, this movementΒ  feels a little different this time. I just want to share my knowledge, passion, bring people up with me and develop generational wealth. Β  Something the ad world needs to think about though is if you want to find the next Gordon Parks – you have to invest in the current, myself and Erik Umphery or Marcus Smith. We’ve been out here – it’s just time to admit, you just started looking…

Verity: I do think the movement happening here in America (and around the world) in the last month is causing me, as a white person, to actually wake up, ask questions and educate myself as much as I can. It’s not a case of being politically correct or ticking a diversity box. Becoming self-aware is inherently uncomfortable but it inevitably brings growth.

Since we both love riding, I must ask, what was the creative impetus for “Dawn till Dusk” besides your love of the sport?
Stan: After COVID19 hit Los Angeles a shelter in place order took effect,Β  shutting down most of the city. The somber aura of the city was unprecedented. Normally packed streets gave way to the framework and architecture that usually serves as a backdrop for larger than life personalities. While desolation hung heavy in the air, there were pockets of light and hope. I set out to find these spaces and uncover a bit of creativity that is often at times staring us in the face but is lost in the noise.

In a city of lights, camera, action – sets shut down and the only stage was the city itself.Β  I was a one man band of production, searching for meaningful sights and sounds.Β  Sharing scenes only available to pedal power and discovering pockets of optimism.Β  The tale of theΒ  corona virus is still being written… and it doesn’t have to focus on fear and animosity.Β  There’s room for a little hope in there….

What time did you start shooting and when did you end?
I started working on it April 3 and wrapped shooting April 21st, I had to work around Kollbi’s schedule because he was working at a bike shop, one of the few places open during COVID. We finished the edit about three weeks ago.
and made a BTS edit that describes how we did it under shelter in place conditions and our goals of seeing what a small 1 man op could produce in the way of compelling content.

 

This Week in Photography: The Cycle of History

 

 

I’m high on fancy coffee at the moment.

 

It’s a slick new kind of brew, invented by an acquaintance, and gifted to me by a friend.

Jot, they call it, and it’s a bougie concentrate that comes in a glass bottle.

I’ve been using it to power up in the mornings lately, as I have taken some time off from my creativity enhancer, to which I often refer, but rarely name directly. (You may think of her as Maria.)

I’m not going too long today, because the world is fucking bonkers, and I’ve written a lot of heavy, intricate articles in the column lately.

Had I not woken up on the serious side of the bed today, I’d likely have tried to write something absurd, but then again, it would have failed.

Other than my comedian cousin, Ken Krantz, who manages to mine even this chaos for laughs, I just don’t have it in me. (Sample joke from his Facebook feed last night: “I picked a bad week to invest all of my money in racist statues.”)

Thankfully, today has provided me with some apt, and unmissable symbolism, so we’re going with the flow, instead of swimming against it.

As you saw at the outset, I’m leading with Trump, because even for him, the tweet was nonsensical.

He is, if I understand correctly, referring to his defense of Confederate statues, and history, in the media this week.

We have come full circle, in American history, to the point where the President of the United States is more proud of the losing side of the Civil War than he is the winners.

He more relates to the vanquished, racist, Southern, secessionist government than he does to the victorious one he leads.

WTF?

I’d say Abe Lincoln is turning over in his grave, but I’m pretty sure he’s actually up in heaven planning an invasion to take back the White House.

Can you imagine, Lincoln and FDR, rallying the troops, while telling George Washington he has to stay home because he was a slave owner? Or was GW denied entry into the happy side of the afterlife because he owned other humans?

Does the good outweigh the bad for Old George?
(It’s not for me to say.)

But in what I’d leave to coincidence, if the world weren’t so laden with symbolism at the moment, today, I opened a letter from one of my dearest friends, Edward Osowski, and I extracted a magazine article from August 1970.

Nearly 50 years old, and he saved it all this time, before gifting it to me.

Why me, and why now?

Because the “Evergreen Review” that month featured an insanely well written article, by John Lahr, about Richard Avedon’s major retrospective, at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

 

Minneapolis!

As I’d like to keep it (kind of) short today, I’m going to photograph the entire article, and really hope you’ll take the time to enlarge the photos and read it.

It’s that good, and relevant.

People don’t write like that today, as I’m a well-respected critic, yet I fill these posts with bad words and pop culture references.

Not then.

Sample quote: “In present postwar America, normality has become the nations’s most oppressive fantasy. The bourgeois dream is unheroic: life is organized to eliminate physical and spiritual risk.”

Or this: “Obsession is a way of coping with death, and this spiritual and psychic decay clings to modern America like a bad smell.”

Or this: “Society masks its neurosis with a compulsive misuse of power. The impulse is to eliminate dissent, and, in doing, to allow political fantasy to go unchallenged.”

Eliminate dissent, political fantasy?

How is this not referring to today?

Because what happened 50 years ago has come back around again, with the rage of 1970, due to the dumpster fire America was in the 1960’s, paralleling the shitstorm of #2020, in which the pent up anger of People of Color and Millennials in the 21st Century has combusted for all to see.

The Avedon portraits included in the article are pretty sublime, from the uncertainty in Ike’s eyes, the woe in Bogart’s, to the sad resignation of Marilyn Monroe.

Above them all, though, is the psychotic, hate-filled, evil-confident glare that George Wallace gives to Avedon, the gay (or bisexual) photographer.

Normally, I’d say he’s projecting it into the camera, for the audience, but in this case, I think he goes extra hard, because the man behind the camera was not straight.

Wow, is this a scary photograph.

I look at it, and it makes me feel awful, yet I have a hard time looking away.

And as we all know, back then, a man of Wallace’s racist pedigree was not able to ascend to the highest office in the land, but today, he has.

People compare Trump to Wallace all the time.

And will we let him stay there, or will we vote him out?

And who are we anyway?

Does America still have one “we,” or are we now two totally separate societies?

In the last week and a half, desperate for any sense of social life IRL, I attended an outdoor (safe distance) pizza dinner with my two teaching mentors, and we chatted for 3 hours.

But rather than satisfy my craving, it left me wanting, because it was one of those talks where everyone took their turn, said their bit, and then waited for their next turn.

Nobody but me asked any questions.

And I was accused of “not listening” by someone who was clearly… not listening.

Try as I might, I could not stir curiosity in them, and at one point, when my friend (in his early 70’s,) was so sure that we’d be in a Civil War in a few months, I asked him why he wasn’t planning to move.

He glared at me with anger, which I’d never seen directed my way before, and said, “You don’t know me very well! I’m going to fight. I’m ready to die in this new war that’s coming!”

WTF??

Rather than lick my wounds and admit defeat, I set up another chat with another “wise old head,” and halfway through our outdoor hang-out, at his place, he dropped the “N” word in casual conversation.

Again, I ask you, WTF???

Each of the three guys told me stories about the riots and protests of the 60’s, but two of them could not make the right connections to today, IMO.

And the one who seemed to most “get it,” was the one who used the most racist word in America.

(In case you’re wondering, I let it slide with a clear, disapproving look the first time, and then I called him on it when it came up again.)

How do I land this column?

How do I keep it short?

Well, I’ll tell you, this review by John Lahr, and the photographs by Richard Avedon, inspired me. They gave me the sense that we have been here before, and the protest movement 50 years ago created change.

But then, looking back over the images, I realized something.

Each subject Avedon photographed, from artists to presidents to murderers to priests to daughters of the American Revolution, was white.

All of them.

So when we hear our colleagues, People of Color, screaming that they don’t have enough opportunities to be paid for their work, when they aren’t getting the jobs, we need to listen.

And I’d also argue that we might benefit more from uniting against a common enemy, racism/facism, than we will from fighting amongst ourselves.

Because the final weird thing that happened this week?

Last Friday, after a 4 hour Zoom party with my liberal, city-dwelling Hipster friends, all of whom were white, I joined the end of another party, with my cousin’s crew, and was among the last three men standing.

A mutual friend was also on the call, a 6’4″ African American guy I hadn’t seen in 15 years, and it turned out he was a Black Republican.

He told me how much he appreciated that I didn’t judge him for having his own opinions.

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

The Art of the Personal Project: Bryan Coppede

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own. Β I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before. Β 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. Β Please DO NOT send me your work. Β I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist: Β Bryan Coppede

Artist Statement:

I discovered the New York City and Los Angeles based non-profit Refoundry a few years ago, and immediately offered to volunteer my services at their New York location.Β  Their β€œmission is to provide formerly incarcerated people with the skills and opportunity to achieve financial independence and become leaders and job creators in our communities”.Β  RefoundryΒ works to break the cycle of incarceration and give people a sense of self-worth and empowerment.Β  It is a cause I believe in, and it is a cause worth amplifying, especially now.Β  Their Hand in Handβ„’ Project, documented here, is ongoing within the greater scope of their mission.

Below is Refoundry’s description of the Hand in Handβ„’ Project, used with permission:

β€œ68 million Americans have a criminal record; when arrested their hands are β€˜printed’ for identification. In this way the state coopts identity and brands these individuals as criminals for life, disseminating that β€˜record’ throughout our society in ways that create barriers to employment, housing, and essential services for millions of our fellow citizens.Β 

Refoundry’s Hand-in-Handβ„’ Project is designed to contrast this process, creating a new association with hand-printing – one that’s positive and creative, and that allows formerly incarcerated people to reclaim their identity and self-agency while embracing, and being embraced by, the larger community.Β 

The one criterion of the program is that people can’t paint their own hand, but must place their hand in the hand of someone else to paint, and in turn take another’s hand in theirs to paint. This process employs safe yet intimate touch within a common creative process, providing space for value, trust and empathy to flourish between individuals and communities.Β 

When displayed in large numbers, the visual impact of hundreds of hands simultaneously projects the uniqueness of each individual and the power and strength of community – our community. Refoundry’s Hand-in-Handβ„’ Project invites diverse people from many different neighborhoods, of many different colors, with many different stories – and draws them together, hand-in-hand, in a single expression of creativity, individuality and community.” 

Β 

To see more of this project, click here.

To learn more about Refoundry’s mission click hereΒ 

APE contributorΒ Suzanne SeaseΒ 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.Β  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.Β She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.Β  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.Β  Instagram

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

 

The Daily Edit – Dope Heart Media – E. Mackey

- - The Daily Edit

E. Mackey /Dope Heart Media

Blvck Spades


Heidi: Can you tell us how you made your transition from rapper, fashion designer, and entrepreneur to photographer/creator? All are creative but what was different about photography/film?

Mackey: I have actually always been creative for as far back as I can remember. As I got older, I just found more and more ways to express myself. My transition from music and fashion to photography and video production pretty much came from my time as a marketing director for a club that used to be on South Beach. When I was there, part of my responsibility was to create video content that we would show on the screens that were all around the club. When I left that job, a rep from Remy Martin asked me to continue creating video content for them and before I knew it, I was creating videos for tons of brands and celebrities. Photography came about after about a year of shooting video with my camera. One day I just flipped the creative switch from video to photo and I’ve been shooting ever since.

You have some impressive stats! 4.0 GPA, 8 years in business in 16 countries and 626 projects, how do you stay motivated and inspired?
There was a time that I was homeless when I was doing my undergraduate studies in college. It was a very difficult period in my life, but it did a lot to shape and mold me into who I am. The memory of that experience keeps me centered and the thought of never wanting to go back to that life keeps me motivated to carry on. Overall, I draw inspiration from everywhere. It can be from songs that I hear,Β people that I meet, or experiences that I have. I genuinelyΒ enjoy creating, so it’s easy to stay inspired because my mind is constantly moving and making connections.


Tell us about these fashion images.

Much of my experience with fashion photography came from working with a lot of the ladies from America’s Next Top Model. I have two really good friends that were on the show and through them, I have had an opportunity to work with several more. Once I had access to more talented models, I realized that I really enjoyed fashion photography and actually try to shoot as much as I can.

Where do you hope to be in the next 8 years?
Alive

Where did you photograph these protes images?
The images that I have shot thus far are from Minneapolis and Brooklyn. However, I am planning on making trips to Houston, DC, LA, and Louisville as well. My goal is to document these protests in more cities than anyone else.


Doing this type of work is both documenting and protesting, did you ever feel conflicted about being there with a camera?
I actually consider myself to be an activist. So, I never felt conflicted being at the protests with a camera. My philosophy is that we all have a part to play in this movement. Some angry kid is going to throw a brick through a window, another will burn the building down, and people like me will be there to capture it so that we can not only have historical records but so that we can share the movement with the world and inspire others to act. I never feel conflicted because I feel like this is my purpose.


Did you have any police encounters, if so what were they like?
I have had SEVERALΒ encounters with the police in my lifetime. It comes with the territory of being a Black man in America and that is part of the reason for the protests. We (Black men) are often profiled for absolutelyΒ no reason, and thatΒ has theΒ potential to put our lives in danger. As far as encounters with police at the protests, I haven’t had any. Mostly just asking for directions or showing them photos that I took of them and cracking jokes. However, on my second day in Minneapolis, I was caughtΒ in the middle of a crazy situation when theΒ police got super aggressive and detonated several canisters of teargas. Being trapped in a cloud of teargas is not aΒ pleasantΒ experience at all.

What inspired you to create those videos on insta?
I actually own two companies. One is a lifestyle brand called Blvck Spades. The other is a creative agency called Dope Heart Media. I started creating videos at the start of the quarantine because I thought that it was the perfect time to share content because people were stuck at home with nothing to do but use socialΒ media. My plan was to create video content where I shared a lot of my knowledge and expertise to help other creatives and business owners while growing my following and influence by establishing myself as a thought leader.

This Week in Photography: Black Lives Matter

 

“I am more interested in creating bridges across which we can experience realities other than our own, whether it be those of marginalized people or not.” Eric Gyamfi

 

Eric Gyamfi, “Fixing Shadows” at FOAM

 

Part I. The Intro

 

Yes, it’s another one of those articles where I begin with a quote.

For all columns I’ve written over the years, I’ve only done that a handful of times.

Occasionally, it’s the right move.

Like today.

It was hard to know where to go, in a week like this, because it feels like the Earth is shifting under our feet, minute to minute.

Just last Tuesday, I had a Zoom call with a bunch of my Antidote students, and life seemed at least a little normal.

Not NORMAL, obviously, but we were able to focus on life and work.

Coincidentally, there were folks in Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Oakland, LA and Brooklyn.

Within a day or two, almost everyone but me was living in a world filled with riots and protests.

Just like when the pandemic dropped, it seemed a new reality had been created, fully formed, and it was not like the one that came before.

Oh, by the way, almost everyone on the call was white.

 

Part 2. What to say?

 

I find myself in the odd position of having already written about almost all of the underlying causes of this new reality, in this column, over the last 8.5 years.

Those of you who have been reading all along know that via photo books, exhibitions, and travel experiences, in my opening rants, I’ve covered systemic racism, class exploitation, Donald Trump, and America’s disgusting history of oppression.

All while trying to maintain a sense of optimism about the future of the country, and the world.

And while I’m obviously a Jewish-American, I’ve done the best I can to empathize with, and humanize, people from around the world.

Gay, straight.
Black, white.
Male, female, and other genders.

I do the best I can to keep it real, and check my bias at the door, but given the privilege with which I grew up, I know there are some experiences I can’t “know.”

As a Caucasian in the suburbs of New Jersey, I had safety, security, and could walk into a store, or down the street, without anyone profiling me.

(With my big nose, I did hear Jewish jokes, but that’s not the same thing.)

It was all pretty chill for me in Jersey until 2003, when I was began my MFA thesis project at Pratt, which required repeated visits to my hometown of Holmdel, NJ.

Given that 9/11 had happened only 2 years prior, and that the suburbs were known for quiet streets, simply walking along, minding my own business, taking pictures with an early version digital camera, I became a target of the police.

Twice, I was stopped, and harassed, because I had a pony tail, a goatee, and a camera in my hand.

 

Dirt road

Garage, circa 1720

Junior High School Gym

Neighborhood watch

 

Eventually, my Aunt, who lived in town, reached out to the Chief of Police, and got me an official letter, claiming I was a former town resident, and had his permission to be there.

That alone is a mark of privilege.

But then, a couple of months before we moved away in 2005, I was visiting my Aunt and Uncle’s home, and when we pulled up in front, Jessie and I were arguing a bit, so we stayed in the car for two minutes to sort out our business, before going inside.

After the two minutes, we looked up and saw a police car.

They pulled up, stopped, got out, and approached the car.

By now, I should mention that I had a black Chevy blazer, in decent shape, and the dented back bumper would have been out of their view anyway.

But we had New York license plates, and it was not a Mercedes. Or a BMW.

Or a Bentley.

That was enough, and when they approached, and started asking questions, we told them who we were, and why we were there.

I grew up in town, and graduated near the top of my class. I attended the elementary school that was only two hundred yards behind us.

No matter.

They profiled us as hippies, undesirables, and told us they would not leave until we were let into the house.

I was scared, even though I’d grown up in Holmdel, and knew my family would open the door.

It was a terrible feeling, and when I complained to my Uncle, he said, “Good, I’m glad they stopped you. People like you don’t live here, so it’s their job to keep an eye out.”

People like you.

This is a true story.

And though I still love my Uncle very much, he is, in fact, a Republican.

 

Part 3. Getting to the point

 

I could tell you that my son has been discriminated against in his school, because he’s white.

He had to defend himself in fights, multiple times, and then got cut from the 6th grade basketball team, because it was Hispanics and Native Americans only.

His friends even admitted it to him, openly, because everyone knows that the white kids play soccer.

I’ve felt plenty of racism here too, over the last 25 years, but at least I know it comes from resentment of American oppression.

It’s more what the color of my skin represents, rather than the skin itself.

It represents power, and the fact that America took this territory from Mexico.

Which is why, despite the anecdotes I just shared, I have no illusions that I know what it’s like to be an African-American man in America.

I don’t.

I try to imagine the feeling, but that’s as far as I’ll get.

Even so, that hasn’t stopped me from writing politically here, for years, nor has it blunted my desire to speak truth to power when I can.

 

Part 4. I thought you were getting to the point

 

I want to write more about Amsterdam for you, to joke about the fun I had, and tell you how I almost died.

But it doesn’t feel right.

Rather, I went back through my photographs, to jog my memory a bit, and thank the art gods, I have just the right thing for today.

The opening quote, which I did my best to illuminate from my own perspective, comes from Eric Gyamfi, a young Ghanian photographer who won the Foam 2019 Paul Huf award.

Part of the prize was a solo show at FOAM in Amsterdam, and I was lucky enough to see it, back in February.

(Before the world changed, and shut.)

The opening gallery, with diaristic photos of various sizes pasted to the wall, was kind of cool.

But it didn’t blow me away.

And even after reading an article about Gyamfi and Queerness, in Aperture, I’m still not sure if the artist identifies that way.

But it doesn’t matter.

Because the next set of galleries represented one of the best photo exhibitions I’ve seen in years, and while it was perfect for the moment, (pre-pandemic,) it’s even more appropriate now. (During the protests and riots.)

As you’ll see in the photos, and video, the walls were covered with thousands of portraits of an African male.

 

(If Gyamfi were from here in the US, I’d say African-American, but he is not.)

They’re cyanotypes, which made the rooms a sea of calming blue, but some of the pictures reminded me of post-lynching portraits.

These were not happy pictures.

Nor were they even images of a real person.

 

In a conceptual hook that is not as interesting to me as the results, the artist made composites of himself, and an experimental music composer, Julius Eastman, so they should all be at least a little different.

Like fingerprints.
Or snowflakes.

There were mirrors in several places, so course a selfie-obsessed populace was taking pictures the entire time.

(Including me.)

I’d make sure to take some time to look at the walls, to “see” the art, and then I’d pull out the camera again, and set myself up in just the right spot.

Of all the other people I saw in the gallery, everyone was so busy shooting pictures of the work, (and themselves,) almost no one was looking at the walls without a camera.

At one point, someone even tried to explain to me where to stand, to get the best angles.

 

I have to imagine the artist expected this reaction.

That he wanted it that way.

Because while art often reflects us back to ourselves, this was showing human behavior at a crass, dehumanizing level.

But then again, the subject of the pictures was not even a real human.

Instead, a computer-generated hybrid.

More a stand in for all African, African-British, African-French, African-American men who are not seen as themselves.

They’re seen for the hoodie, or the stereotype.

courtesy of The Guardian

 

George Floyd, for example, was a massive guy. His friends called him a gentle giant, but Derek Chauvin didn’t see a man.

He saw a creature.
An animal.

And he murdered the man, the human, because he didn’t see him as human.

Nobody would do what he did, on camera no less, kneel on a man’s neck until he’s dead, unless he thought he could get away with it.

(And I say this having been in choke holds before, and having applied them, in martial arts.)

That act, (along with the previous thousands, and the recently publicized murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor,) so perfectly represented what it means to be a person of color in the United States.

It means you don’t get justice.

It means the cops can kill you, and people can harass you wherever you go, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

The rage builds and builds.
Gets worse and worse.

And finally, when the match is lit, the fire erupts.

We may hate to see images of looting, it may fill us with dread, or maybe it doesn’t?

Either way, we can’t understand it without at least attempting to imagine how it would feel to be powerless against a system of oppression and state-sanctioned violence.

Of limited opportunities, and shitty health care.

Of insane proportions of Covid-19 deaths, compared to other races.

In the last 6 months alone, here in the column, I asked if China’s imprisonment of the Uighurs was any worse than the millions of African-Americans locked up here in the US.

And I wondered whether our culture, which always values the individual over the society, was in a more precarious position than we realized.

Then, just a few weeks ago, I invoked Karl Fucking Marx, to try to make sense of the naked exploitation of the working class.

I’m no Communist, believe me, but there was no other idea set that could explain that evidence.

It suggested we were on the verge of a Revolution, in attitude, if not in reality.

I’m also no Anarchist, and I’m rooting for the USA to figure this shit out.

To care about justice for all.

To do the hard work of humanizing ourselves to each other. And the Other to ourselves.

So I’m trying it here today.

I know that I’m not a racist, and I’m proud that I try hard to relate to, and appreciate, people from other walks of life.

But then again, I had an Aunt who knew the Chief of Police, and he wrote me a letter of protection.

And I took selfies in that blue room, that psychological experiment that Eric Gyamfi created in Amsterdam, which means I’m complicit too.

We all are.

And if we’re going to get out of this mess, we’ll have to find new levels of respect and appreciation for each other, and our differences.

Because while an eruption in the streets is often the result of generations of exploitation, while it draws attention to injustice, it cannot solve the problem alone.

Nor should it.

We need real change, and new laws. We need to see this as the beginning of a Second Civil Rights Movement, not a Second Civil War.

Stay safe and healthy out there, and see you next week.

The Art of the Personal Project: Karan Kapoor

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own. Β I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before. Β 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. Β Please DO NOT send me your work. Β I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist: Β Karan Kapoor

These images of fisherman bringing in the catch in the early morning at Mafia Island were really a result of waking up before sunrise in the morning and walking down the beach from the little hotel my family and I were staying in. I was not conscious of taking pictures. I was more absorbed with the beauty and witnessing what looked like a β€˜biblical’ experience. Here time seem to have had stood still. I hardly raised my camera…not wanting to intrude and disturb what I saw and felt. The fishermen were oblivious to my presence. It was only on my return to London that I discovered what I captured. Editing was easy as there were not many images at all!

Mafia Island is a tiny island of the coast of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. The word Mafia is actually a Swahili word and is not connected to β€˜Mafia from Italy’.

Shot with a Canon 5DS and 24-70 2.8 lens.

To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributorΒ Suzanne SeaseΒ 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.Β  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.Β She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.Β  Follow her at @SuzanneSease.Β  Instagram

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