More on MagCloud

- - Blog News

I’ve landed a beta invite to publish a magazine on MagCloud and my initial look at everything shows a maximum of 60 pages for an issue at a cost of $12 per issue. Shipping looks to be $1.40 per copy. I also saw Stanford Magazine at $9.60 for 48 pages so it appears that the raw cost will be $0.20/page.

It could cost a penny a page and it wouldn’t matter if the printing sucks so the next step is to get one printed with high quality photography/scans and see how it looks. I’ll let you know what I find out.

The great potential for this technology is that all things that are web based can now offer a hard copy of their content to consumers at virtually no cost (except all the time to design it).

Peter Yang Had A Ball In Texas

- - Photographers

No, really, he ate one.

Back to that in a minute.

I’ve always had mixed feelings when it comes to hiring photographers overly versed in a subject matter. Certainly, when a photographer knows how to behave, act and dress around a subject it can cause the subject to drop their guard a bit and make for more intimate images. It also usually means they’ll be more accommodating with their time and with what they allow to be photographed so you get better access. The trade off is that photographers sometimes don’t push the pictures beyond comfort level, they won’t ask the subject to do something that might make them uncomfortable or might jeopardize their relationship with the subject.

On the other hand picking a photographer who has some distance from the subject and is not excessively concerned with their feelings or the possibility of making them uncomfortable or how they might be looked upon by the subject can result in some really spectacular work.

Anyway, this is a little more heady than I wanted to get into with this post because really I just saw this narrated slideshow over on the Texas Monthly website and I was imagining Peter Yang in his checkered vans and spiked hair dragging his cow shit covered 7b’s, c-stands and octabanks all over Texas and thought that was interesting. Of course I know Peter as a guy who shoots a lot of Rock and Roll pictures for Rolling Stone so I didn’t realize he’s from Dallas and went to school at UT and worked in Austin for 9 years and to what extremes he’d go to, to get a picture when I fired off a bunch of questions to see what the hell he was doing shooting cowboys in Texas.

Check out the slide show and audio commentary (here)

Was it really a 16 day shoot? I’m amazed magazines still do 16 day shoots. Did you have to sleep in a ditch?

It was sixteen days altogether for a cover and an 18-page portfolio in Texas Monthly. We logged 5,000 miles driving back and forth across Texas. In reality, there were six or seven days of shooting. The other days were spent traveling, scouting and investigating.

Leslie Baldwin and TJ Tucker at TM made initial contact with the ranches, but in the end, cowboys aren’t phone people. Arriving at each ranch felt like starting from scratch. I’m this Asian guy with spiky hair and checkered Vans, my first assistant is a California kid, and the second assistant is a hipster with tattoos running down her arms. We had to win them over with our charming ways.

On another occasion, we were out near Marfa. It was already ten at night and I had nothing planned for the next day. I was feeling really depressed as all I’d done that day was hang out in a field throwing rocks at a fence while the cowboys were out working on horseback. That night, we came across a bar and got to chatting with the bartender, and out of sheer desperation, I asked her if she knows any cowboys. It turns out her ex-husband is a cowboy and we ended up driving 3 hours due west and making some of the best images from the trip.

It sounded like you were shooting film. Why did you decide to shoot film?

No, I was shooting digital. I haven’t shot film in a long while. For the portraits I used a medium format digital back (Leaf Aptus at 75 S on a Hasselblad H2). For the documentary shots, I used a Cannon 1Ds2. There was a ton of dust and shit kicking up everywhere I went. For someone who rarely needs to clean his cameras, I was in my motel every night with an air blower and Pec Pad cleaning my cameras Nachtwey-style.

Cowboys, cows, horses and octabanks don’t sound like a natural combination and I suppose that’s why Texas Monthly choose you for this assignment. Did you ever feel completely out of your element like what the hell am I doing here? A New Yorker out in the middle of Texas with a bunch of cowboys sounds like a recipe for trouble to me.

Hey, I’ve only been a New Yorker for four years. I may not have grown up on a ranch (or anywhere near cows or horses), but I am from Texas.

I did feel out of my element at the beginning. I had just come out of 3 straight months of shooting my usual fare. Celebrity shoots where everything has been discussed and agreed upon and every moment of the shoot accounted for. Advertising campaigns with art directors and their clients standing in front of the monitor approving every shot frame by frame. Now here I was in Texas with no one telling me what to do. It’s a photographer’s dream, but it took a bit to get used to.

As far as trouble goes, no one was seriously injured in the process. I drank a lot of beer, ate a cow testicle or two, rode a crazy horse, heard jokes that haven’t been kosher since ’64, tried to lasso a fence post, and ate at a lot of Dairy Queens. A lot.

When you decided to do the lit portraits were you thinking this is my style and I’m sticking with it even if the 7b’s get covered in shit or were you thinking of bringing something new to the genre of cowboy portraits?

Lighting the photos had always been my plan. I’d seen a lot of images of cowboys growing up and I wanted to bring something new to the table while staying true to who they are. It rained a couple of days and there was lots of dust everywhere we went. The lights were always tarped to keep out the elements.

Of your other portrait work how much is planned and how much is just “let’s see what’s happening when we get there.”

I started my training as a newspaper photographer. As a journalist, you are not permitted to affect the environment. When I moved to magazines, this way of thinking stuck with me for years, and helped bring a candid, found quality to my photos. With celebrity work, you can’t tell a publicist “we’ll just get there and see what happens.” You have to assure them you won’t make their client look like an ass. My shoots now are much more planned and produced, but I always strive to keep some spontaneity.


Everyone Can Now Become A Magazine Publisher

- - The Future

“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”
— A.J. Liebling

And with that lofty quote begins the dawn of a new age in magazine publishing (or maybe just a cool new promo tool) because HP Labs just launched a new print on demand magazine publishing service called MagCloud (here) which looks to be the bee’s knees from where I’m standing. They use HP Indigo technology to custom-print each issue when it’s ordered on 80lb paper with saddle-stitched covers.

Now I can finally launch that magazine I’ve always dreamt of called “killed,” where I round up all the shoots and photographs those bastard wouldn’t let me run and publish ’em myself. That’ll show ’em.

Anyway, I’ll need to do some investigation to see if this actually is viable and economically feasible for short run printing of magazines but it looks very promising indeed. Not to mention the fact that printing on demand saves a whole lot of wasted paper by not guessing how many people will read an issue.

Scott Dadich, Creative Director- Wired Magazine

A native of Lubbock, TX, 30 year old Scott Dadich had already experienced an impressive award winning 6 year run designing Texas Monthly when he arrived at Wired Magazine in 2006. Wired quickly won a General Excellence Award from the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) and was runner up for Magazine of the Year at the Society of Publication Designers (SPD) to fellow Texas Monthly alum, Fred Woodward now Design Director of GQ. Scott, at the ripe old age of 32 now, recently took the crown of 800 lb. magazine design gorilla–a title held by Fred for many years–with his 2008 trifecta of awards from the SPD for Magazine of the Year and Redesign of the year and a prestigious Ellie from ASME for design.

Of course magazines with this kind of visibility have a huge influence on the way other magazines behave so I wanted to ask Scott a few questions.

Working at a magazine that reports on the front lines of technology how do you see your role in defining how printed magazines look and behave in the future?

Honestly, I don’t think too much about it. I mean, in the back of my mind, we try to be aware of what has and has not been done in terms of magazine design, photography, printing, production, but it’s not a driving force in the day-to-day nuts and bolts of what we do. We have some ideas of projects and covers that we want to be the first to do, but we’re waiting on the tech to catch up to our ideas. I love magazines for what they are and can do right now.

Based on how Wired looks I’d say your editor, Christopher Anderson is fairly hands off when it comes to design and photography. Can you tell me how that works?

Chris is a tremendous editor. As is our executive editor, Bob Cohn. I wouldn’t say that they’re hands off, because they both have strong ideas about design and magazine-making. Our ideas clash from time to time, but I’d say that’s pretty rare. When I started at WIRED, Chris and I had a dinner where we talked about our ambitions for the magazine, and I’d say they aligned perfectly. Both of us want to play with the conventions of storytelling and the role of design in magazine journalism. WIRED is about innovation. For me, my Photo Editors and designers not to innovate would do a disservice to the brand and our readers. Folks come to WIRED to be challenged and read about progress in the world.

I spend a little time on my blog talking about the dynamic between the creative director and photo editor and how many photographers assume it’s a completely hands-off process when in many cases it’s not. Can you explain how you work with your Photo Editors at Wired and how you think photo and art should work together?

Yes, I work very, very closely with my two photo editors, Zana Woods and Carolyn Rauch. My first real job was working for a photographer at Texas Tech with a really talented guy named Artie Limmer. He taught me how to assist and and how to see and shoot, so when I first went to Texas Monthly as art director and had to act as my own photo editor, I felt really well prepared. I spent 6 years there working closely with some spectacular photographersβ€”Dan Winters, Platon, Brent Humphreysβ€”and traveling all over the state, making great pictures with those guys. Coming to WIRED and getting to work with Zana and Carolyn has been wonderful. We’re all good friends and collaborate on a daily basis, talking about stories and shoots. Our offices are an open bullpen style, so one of us is usually at another’s desk pitching someone or arguing about another approach. We all have different styles and tastes, and I think that shows up on our pages.

How would you define the role photography has within your design and at Wired in general?

I think it’s a strong voice in the book. I believe in respecting the work and vision of our photographers. I don’t allow our designers to crop or alter any of the photography in our pages, and for the most part, we try and keep type off of imagesβ€”I don’t allow captions to be reversed out of images at all. And, in as diverse a feature well as we have, there’s always at least one or two stories where photography is the primary visual voice. My tendencies have been toward more graphic photography and it’s been nice to open my taste up to the looser and more organic styles my photo colleagues prefer. It’s a good mix and allows my designers to have a lot of freedom dealing with different visual approaches.

I tell photographers that it’s fine to send promos and marketing material to the creative director but never leave the photo editor out of the loop because I want to at least pretend like I know what they’re talking about when the creative director drops by with the promo from a photographer they’d like to work with. How do you feel about photographers approaching you directly?

I love it. But, yours is a valid point. I should never receive a promo that my photo editors didn’t get. We work as a team and make decisions as a team.

Redesigning a magazine is always a touchy subject with the publisher, editor and owner but I always find it renews my interest in the publication–this happened to me after you redesigned Wired. How often should publications do a redesign and why is everyone so apprehensive about it?

I think the timetable really depends on the magazine and where it is in it’s life-cycle. Texas Monthly had a general rule of redesigning every five years or so, but we had a mature readership that was more averse to change. So I did two redesigns while I was there, one minor, one major. My redesign at WIRED launched in February of 2007, about five years after Darrin Perry’s 2002 redesign. But even now, we’re tweaking that redesign for a little front-of-book refresh. Wyatt and I want the design of WIRED to be very agile, very adaptable, and since we’re learning all of the time, we want to put those lessons on the page.

Scott will answer a follow-up question or two in the comments if you have any.

Ian Parry Scholarship Deadline- June 20th

- - Blog News

Ian Parry was a 24 year old photojournalist who died while on assignment for The Sunday Times during the Romanian revolution in 1989.

To honor him his friends and family set up a scholarship where each year a competition for photographers who are either attending a full-time photography course or are under the age of 24 is held. Entrants must submit a portfolio of their work and a brief synopsis of a project they would undertake if they won. The prize is Β£2,500 towards their assignment. Metro Imaging also offer Β£500 worth of vouchers to the winner.

Additionally, World Press Photo automatically accepts the winner onto their final list of nominees for the Joop Swart Masterclass in Amsterdam.

Visit the website to sign up (here).

Photoshelter Announces New Stock Photography Event

- - Stock

July 20th is “Shoot the Day” and Photoshelter is throwing a huge event with classes, competitions and parties (here’s the website) and there’s plenty of stuff to sign-up for so get going cause it looks like spots are limited.

They’ve also got an interesting shoot competition happening where 20 PhotoShelter photographers will be chosen (after applying first) for fully staffed photo shoots. All photo shoot expenses will be covered, including location, prepping models, lighting, and analysis of images. A makeup artist, stylist, and photo assistant will be provided where possible. Not sure if that includes the traditional “Sushi, Wrap Dinner” where the photographer and photo editor try to get fired by eating and drinking the entire shoot budget in one sitting, but if it does count me in.

Additionally, PhotoShelter surveyed over 700 photo buyers, editors and art directors and discovered an urgent need for certain types of imagery in the global supply of stock Photography.

Can you guess what item from the following list was on that survey?

The answer is (here).

If that’s not enough, they also just launched a new feature called School of Stock (here) where photographers can go get skooled on the in’s and out’s of the stock photography business. There are sections on production, model releases, lighting and topics that buyers are interested in are explored in depth. There’s even a section for newbies that simply defines stock photography. Apparently the definition has changed (here) since I started in this business and stock is no longer defined as “shit leftover from a shoot that nobody wants.”

An Endless Stream Of Photography

- - Working

The stream, it’s more like a fire hose really, so whatever you do don’t try and take a drink from it. I found these two posts by Liz Kuball (here) and Robert Wright (here) on the sheer volume and mediocrity of photography on the web quite interesting. Interesting because there’s a side to this business that normally only Photo Editors and Art Buyers are privy to. The volume and desperation of an enormous group of aspiring somewhat professional even sometimes highly professional photographers that those on the hiring side of this equation are exposed to on a daily basis. The mountains of promos, the book drops, the phone calls and the stock. Oh, god the stock, let’s not even get into the stock photography here, because that’s a pile of shit you’ll never get through with a grain scoop. Backhoe maybe, shovel never.

Anyway my point here is that there’s so much going on in this business that’s not worth paying attention to. I’m not even talking about the amateur stuff that’s gone from the shoe box to flickr or on the personal website either, I’m talking about photographers who make money shooting shit.

David Alen Harvey has it right when he says, “all of you are now in a position to show your work in a way i never had nor did anyone in my generation have..the net….right here…right now… this forum…if you go out and do the work, you will be seen by more potential Medici’s than i have seen in my entire career….yes, yes (i can hear the excuses already) there are more of you…true….but in the sea of photographers out there , i still see about the same number of “supertalents” as in years prior…more people taking pictures, but few doing it in a special way….but if you are “special” there are also way way more opportunities…and so so much room for invention….i swear, i have never seen so much room!!!”

You’re seeing what I’ve been looking at since I started in this business. The volume of noise is loud but the signal is the same as it has always been, clean, pure and tranquil.

Listen for the signal.

Sam Zell Attempts To Destroy His Newspapers

- - Blog News

Mr. Zell, not satisfied with the slow decline in advertising and audience his recently purchased newspaper empire (which includes the Chicago Tribune and LA Times) will most certainly experience over the next decade, decided to quicken the pace by trimming news pages across the board and inserting more simple to digest graphical content (a la USA Today). Additionally, in an unprecedented move it was announced that control of the LA Times Magazine would be turned over to the business side of the company (after replacing the entire editorial staff, natch) in what I can only assume will be the making of a giant advertorial for whomever is buying. Sam Zell’s magnanimous failure as a media baron will be clearly marked by these enormous blunders and I suppose the only winner in this is for the NY Times as readers will likely flock to them for in-depth reporting on news stories.

Photo Assistant Resource

- - Blog News

Anything you want to know about becoming an assistant or if you’re a photographer looking to hire an assistant can be found at:

I love how the review of the new OctaPlus57 includes this important tidbit: “No more pinched or smashed fingers during setup or break down like you get with the Elinchrom Octabank.”

Can Visa pour l’Image Remain Relevant?

- - Working

For the past 19 years photographers and photo editors have gathered near the Spanish border in Perpignan, France for a grand festival to celebrate photojournalism. This years festival from August 30th to September 14th will mark the 20th such meeting and I have been handed an interview with Jean-François Leroy the festivals founding and current director, where he tackles a few of the hard questions facing photojournalism and acknowledges completely missing the boat on the internet.

In 2000 I was scheduled to attend for my first time and my ticket was abruptly canceled by the editor when it was determined that visiting the festival was an unwise expenditure of our resources in suddenly tightening budgets. The opportunity to go never presented itself again and so I’ve been stuck hearing the stories of what went down from the people who visited but never having access to the photography or lectures presented at the festival to incorporate into my own magazine.

This of course, is the problem with Visa pour l’Image, everything that happens in Perpignan stays in Perpignan. And, now it’s even more serious because not only have you missed the opportunity to reach hundreds of photo editors who couldn’t attend you now need to reach beyond the magazines and convince consumers that important, powerful stories like the one’s featured at the festival need to be seen in publications. The consumers are in charge now and it’s only going to get worse so convincing Editors and Photo Editors to buy stories is no longer good enough, you also need the support of the end user.

The internet is the perfect medium for photojournalists and documentary photographers to show their work and if Jean-FranΓ§ois is serious about keeping Visa pour l’Image relevant he needs to find ways that the festival can reach beyond the city limits of Perpignan, so we can all hear about the great reportages that were shown and the one’s that need a home and in many cases some will reach consumers online without a publication.

It’s time for someone with a powerful voice in the world of photojournalism to take the reins and lead this industry to the next level. I think Jean-FranΓ§ois Leroy may be the right person to do it. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

You’re great friends with Paul Fusco, from Magnum Photos, and often work with him. What’s the story behind that friendship?

In 2000, Jean-Bernard Maurel, who was working with Magnum Photos at the time, told me he’d found something in a drawer and was I interested. He pulled out a report Paul Fusco had done in 1968 after Bobby Kennedy’s assassination. Paul had covered the funeral train carrying the coffin placed on an open car and draped with the American flag, going all the way from Los Angeles to Washington. Thousands of Americans had gathered along the railroad track to see the funeral train go by and pay their last tribute to Bobby Kennedy. Paul, who was beside the coffin, photographed all these people, this cross-section of America bidding farewell to a dead man. For 32 years, the report had never been published! No one had shown any interest in it! We featured it as an exhibition at Visa pour l’Image, in a linear presentation, as if we too were in the train and were traveling across the States. When Paul arrived in Perpignan, he gave me a hug and said: β€œAt least there’s you to understand my work.” And we’ve been great friends ever since. I really admire him as a photographer; his work on Chernobyl was outstanding and had all of Perpignan in tears. I think it’s such a shame that there are some people today who make millions, and a man like Paul, whose work is of such historic importance, is virtually destitute! That really riles me!

Without mentioning any names, some of the top ten photographers in the world today, including war photographers, β€œlive in a garret”, surviving on less than 1000 euros a month, struggling to make ends meet.

Philip Blenkinsop- NoorYes, it’s a real problem; I’ll give two examples. Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for Time Magazine, and has been going to Baghdad a couple of times a year for the last five or six years. Now look at his work, at what he produces, then compare it to what you see in Time. There is a gaping abyss between what his real work is and what gets published. Another example is Stanley Greene who wanted to do a report in Afghanistan and needed to find 8000 euros to get there, but couldn’t raise the money. I’m sorry to have to say this yet again – everyone’s getting sick of it, and I’m told that I’m biting the hand that feeds me– but we have to stop saying that the press doesn’t have any money! The press can find the money to buy exclusive rights to celebrity photos. A couple of years ago, one weekly magazine paid 150,000 euros for the exclusive rights to Jean-Paul Belmondo’s wedding; and they can’t fork out 10,000 euros to send Stanley Greene to Afghanistan for a month! It just makes me wonder. Fifteen years ago, when a newspaper commissioned a report, the paper would insure your equipment, pay for 150 rolls of film, cover all the lab development costs, and so on. Nowadays, you do digital work, your cameras aren’t paid for, you’re not even given a memory card – nothing. A digital camera costs a lot more than the camera you had fifteen years ago. And we’re not supposed to voice any criticism? Over the same period, the price of a page of advertising has gone up by a factor of 2 or 2.5; compare that to the prices paid for photos which have gone down by a factor of 2 or 2.5! Christophe Calais told me that he wanted to go to Kenya to report on the events there; he called a magazine he often works with, and was told β€œListen, if you get the chance to take a shot of Obama’s grandmother, and if we do a double-page spread, I’ll give you 300 or 400 euros.” Hell! He wasn’t going there to do a Grandma Obama celebrity shoot! That’s the real problem, you see. Everything has become celebritized, everything is nice and clean, and we’re told that we mustn’t show any violence, but celebrities instead. Yet when you look at β€œreal TV”, you’re shown violence! Lucas Menget, a top reporter with France 24 and a member of the Visa pour l’Image team, did an excellent 26-minute report on Iraq, and you can see violence there in his report. Just talk to Stanley Greene, Christophe Calais, Enrico Dagnino, Paolo Pellegrin, NoΓ«l Quidu, Laurent Van der Stockt, and so many others whose names I haven’t mentioned; they see violence out there in the field, in the events they cover. That’s the real story!

When we ask our parents and grandparents what they did about the Nazi concentration camps, they tell us that they didn’t know about them. And it’s true that many people only discovered what had really happened in the camps when they saw photos taken by Lee Miller and Margaret Bourke White. Today we’re lucky enough to be able to see everything. No country is completely closed off; it might be difficult to take pictures in Burma or North Korea, but you end up getting something. With modern transmission facilities, satellite phones and all the advances of communication technology, it’s much easier than it used to be. So what will we say when our children and grandchildren ask us what we did about Darfur? It’s a philosophical problem. Photographers and journalists, whether with the written press, radio or television, often run the most extraordinary risks so that they can show what’s really happening. For years we were told we had a duty to history, then a duty to remember, so let’s now say that we have a duty to see and to look! I don’t want to live in a virtual world, a nice little, cuddly, fluffy world where everybody’s happy, where everyone is sweet as sugar candy and where everyone has heaps of money. People often say that Visa pour l’Image is a festival with commitment; I would say that we are activists, that we want to be militant because we, the organizers and photographers at the festival, are journalists.

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Yousuf Karsh Estate- New Website

- - Photographers

I see a growing trend here as the Yousuf Karsh estate (here) becomes the latest in a series of photography masters to unveil professional websites that will not only serve as wonderful resources for the photo community but act as a central resource for consumers and professionals looking to purchase prints and reprint rights.

During his career he held 15,312 sittings and produced over 150,000 negatives.

Yousuf Karsh Estate

Yousuf Karsh Estate

The short video clips (here) are particularly interesting to watch as Yousuf answers questions that we seem to ask photographers over and over.

Trent Reznor Talks About Making Music For Free

- - Blog News

I found this interview with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails interesting because it’s apparent that he became the ambassador for “free music” not because he believes in it but rather because he believes it’s not going away. Here are the relevant parts:

Mr. Reznor has no global solution for how to sustain a long-term career as a recording musician, much less start one, when listeners take free digital music for granted. β€œIt’s all out there,” he added. β€œI don’t agree that it should be free, but it is free, and you can either accept it or you can put your head in the sand.”

He knows what he doesn’t want to do: make his music a marketing accessory. β€œNow just making good music, or great music, isn’t enough,” Mr. Reznor said. β€œNow I have to sell T-shirts, or I have to choose which whorish association is the least stinky. I don’t really want to be on the side of a bus or in a BlackBerry ad hawking some product that sucks just so I can get my record out. I want to maintain some dignity and self-respect in the process, if that’s possible these days.”

Last year Mr. Reznor produced and bankrolled an album for the socially conscious hip-hop poet Saul Williams, β€œThe Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust.” When record labels didn’t want it, Mr. Reznor put it online: free to the first 100,000 downloaders as good-quality MP3 files or $5 for more high-fidelity files. He had thought that fans would willingly pay the price of a latte to support musicians directly. But fewer than 20 percent did so. β€œI think I was just naΓ―ve.”

At the time he called the project a failure, but he has reconsidered. β€œThe numbers of the people that paid for that record, versus the people that paid for his last record, were greater,” he said. β€œHe made infinitely more money from that record than he did from his other one. It increased his name value probably tenfold. At the end of the day, counting free downloads, it was probably five or six or seven times higher than the amount sold on his last record. I don’t know how you could look at that as a failure.”

Read the whole story (here).