This Week in Photography: Projects from PhotoNOLA, Part 1

 

I was just standing outside, with my face in the sun.

 

The season change is always obvious here, in the Rocky Mountains, and it’s most definitely spring outside.

Thankfully, winter is over.
(I swear.)

I stood there, and after a moment, became aware of the musical arrangement of bird calls happening all around me.

(Mostly from the trees near the stream, as it’s no longer frozen.)

The chirp sounds were beautiful, and I noted them, but after another moment, realized they’d been gone all winter.

The bird music.

I hadn’t heard the calls since September or October. And you might not remember, but in the first week of September #2020, we had such an unusual freeze that birds fell dead from the sky.

By the thousands.

#2020 was that kind of year.

Back to the bird calls, though, and the truth is, over this evil-Covid-winter, I’d forgotten such things existed.

When you’re that deep in the hole, (or have lived in a cave for generations, like The Croods,) you begin to forget that light is a reality too, just like darkness.

 

And here we are.

Green grass is growing in our field.
My children are (supposedly) going back to school.
Checks are headed to many mail boxes.

After years of mental torture by you-know-who, capped off by a whopper of a year that gave us house arrest, (for some people solitary confinement,) and a half million dead people, we should all forgive ourselves if things like hope are slow to return.

It will take a while for the collective PTSD to wear off, for those who can shake it.

But spring follows winter.
That’s the way it works.

So what will you do when you emerge from your shell?

In a way, we can all honor the Americans, (and people everywhere, really,) who didn’t make it out of the pandemic alive.

We can love more deeply, cherish new experiences, embrace personal growth, make fresh things.

Because our art is an expression of our personality, our vision, our sense of self.

Even in the worst of winter, (you knew the hook was coming, right?) I was still able to look at photography portfolios, by a talented and diverse group of artists at the PhotoNOLA festival online, back in December, and today, I’m happy to share some of my favorite portfolios with you.

We’ll have a Part 2 as well, and as usual, the artists are in no particular order.

Cathy Cone showed me work that looked good on a computer screen, but is the kind of thing that I’d really love to see in person. Her work involves scanning old tintypes, and then painting directly onto the output prints.

They’re beautiful.

And in the “spring is here” vibe of this column, I can only hope IRL festivals come back this year, so we can all resume the habit of appreciating art in person, with our physical senses activated.

Diana Nicolette Jeon’s work is the perfect follow up, given the tactility, as her prints are mounted to, and exhibited in Altoids tin lids.

I first saw this work at Photolucida in 2019, loved it, and meant to publish it then, but a miscommunication on my part meant it didn’t happen. Fortunately, Diana, who’s based in Hawaii, gave me a second chance.

The images come from film noir, and definitely channel that energy, minus the scary soundtrack.

Elizabeth Clark Libert showed me a set of razor sharp images, shot with a medium format digital camera, of her young boys playing, fighting, and growing together. (The first two being intimately related, when brothers are close in age.)

It’s a meditation on masculinity, as the artist grapples with how to raise her boys in a post-me-too era. There are some nudity issues, which open another set of questions, but as we’re not publishing those, we’ll save that debate for another occasion.


Nathalie Seaver showed me some work that I didn’t necessarily appreciate. But as I’ve written many times, if you have other options to pivot to during a review, it allows the situation to be salvaged. (Proper preparation is key.)

The last project we discussed was quarantine related, as Nathalie made still lives of objects from her home, (since she couldn’t leave,) and they were grouped by color.

They’re kitschy, but also cool, IMO.

Rene Algesheimer shared images of ice caves in Alaska and Iceland, and I suppose they qualify as some of the least-lockdown-pictures I saw last December.

They’re haunting, and need little explication, right?

Last but not least, Suzette Bross will help us land the idea that travel, which was practically impossible in #2020, may rejoin us again in #2021. Exotic countries, or even just the county across the State line, will become more accessible, once things improve.

Suzette’s project was shot in Rwanda, and is a reflection of the grief she felt due to a family loss. Rather than photograph the countryside, Suzette presents hacked-panorama-iPhone-images shot from a moving bus, as she crossed the country.

The resulting photographs are strange and compelling.
Don’t you think?

See you next week!

The Art of the Personal Project: Ian Coble

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

 

Today’s featured artist:  Ian Coble

 

 

To see more of this project, click here.

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

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

 

Pricing & Negotiating: Real Patient Portraits for Pharmaceutical Company

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Portraits of one patient against a solid background

Licensing: Unlimited use of all images captured for three years

Photographer: Portraiture specialist in the Midwest

Agency: Large, healthcare focused

Client: Pharmaceutical company

Pricing And Negotiating Craig Oppenheimer Feb 2021 Pharma Portraiture Estimate

Fees: The agency requested unlimited use of all images captured for three years, and they wanted us to specifically use their usage terminology, as detailed in the estimate. The concept involved photographing a real patient in a variety of ways and integrating the images into a CGI background in post. I first determined the fee by pricing what I felt was appropriate for one year, which was $12,500, and then doubled that fee to account for the requested three years, to arrive at a fee of $25,000. In addition to that creative/licensing fee, I also added a pre-production and pre-light day fees for the photographer.

Crew: While the shoot was rather straightforward, we knew the logistics of working with a real patient and the many intricacies with specialized wardrobe and styling would require a decent amount of pre-production. Therefore, we included adequate producer and production assistant days. Additionally, we included two assistants and a digital tech. Lastly, since we’d be compositing the portraits into CGI backgrounds, we included an on-site retoucher to help show the client proof of concept during the shoot to ensure we were on the right track.

Styling: In addition to a hair/makeup stylist, we included a wardrobe/prop stylist along with an assistant. The props would be minimal, but we anticipated shopping for and procuring three different outfits for the talent. On top of the actual wardrobe/prop expenses, we added additional expenses to cover shipping, transportation, and kit fees incurred by the stylists.

Health and Safety: We included a COVID compliance officer for both the pre-light day and the shoot day, along with a few hundred dollars to cover PPE and supplies.

Locations: Two days were included, for both the pre-light and shoot day.

Equipment: For both the pre-light and shoot days, we included ample expenses to cover camera, grip, lighting, tech workstation rentals, and production supplies.

Meals: We based catering for the shoot day on 12 attendees at $75 per person.

Misc.: As a buffer, we included $750 to cover unforeseen expenses, and light meals on the pre-light day for the minimal crew that would attend. We also included $1,000 for insurance.

Post Processing: We included $500 for the photographer to provide a rough edit of the shots for consideration, and then $2,000 to handle retouching. The CGI backgrounds would be provided by the agency, and the photographer would be integrating the images into those files. We anticipated this taking approximately 10 hours of work, and based the fee on $200/hour.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project.

Hindsight: Having bid projects for this agency previously, I knew they’d likely have a healthy budget. However, we’ve bid and produced very similar projects for substantially less money in the past. The photographer ultimately came in under budget upon invoicing, which helped convince the agency to have him bid on a supplemental project.

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

The Daily Edit – Sofia Jaramillo

Sofia Jaramillo

Heidi: Tell us more about this portrait series and why it has been important?
Sofia: This image is from a photo story I shot for Stetson. This series is important to me because both myself and the model, Emilé Zynobia, wanted to create imagery that challenged the traditional notion of what a cowgirl is and who should be included in the narrative of the American West. Emile is a Jamaican-American cowgirl. She grew up riding horses and first learned to ride at Puzzle Creek Ranch in Wilson. Black cowboys are rarely included in the oral and written stories of the west. With these images, we want to rewrite that cultural script. 

 
How has your love for the outdoors grown and how have you used your photography to change the narrative about representation in the outdoors?
I grew up partially in a small mountain town called Ketchum, Idaho (a.k.a Sun Valley) with my dad. My parents split when I was very young. When I was with my dad, he would put me in various outdoor sports camps and teams while he was working. During the winters, I spent most of my days in Ketchum on Baldy Mountain with the Sun Valley ski team. In all of the outdoor sports I did, I always felt a little bit like an outsider. The population in Ketchum is mainly wealthy caucasian folx. Besides my dad, there were very few skiers of color that I saw on the ski hill. The people I looked up to in the ski industry were mainly white women and I just didn’t see myself in them or in my peers. The experience of growing up in Ketchum as a Latina inspires the direction of my work today.
I want to make the images I wished I had seen as a kid, to hopefully inspire and encourage BIPOC youth to get into outdoor sports.
 
There is more attention for representation in front of and behind the camera. How has the conversation progressed for you, I know you’re aligned with  Diversity Photo, Authority Collective and Women Photograph.
I am definitely seeing more representation in front of the camera, but I am not really seeing as much behind the camera. I have seen more inclusion in the photojournalism world, but definitely not in the outdoor industry. It feels like outdoor companies are pretty set on working with the same photographers they have worked with for a long time. That’s great to form lasting relationships, but if all of those relationships are with cis-gender white male photographers then there is a problem. By hiring who you are comfortable with, you are perpetuating the lack of diversity in the outdoor space and inhibiting the growth of BIPOC creatives in the outdoor space. If companies want to be inclusive in an authentic and non-tokenizing way, they need to form real relationships with BIPOC photographers and then hire them. Take a chance on BIPOC creatives. Believing is a form of supporting and uplifting. There is a reason there are not many BIPOC creatives at the same level as our counterparts and outdoor companies play a big role in that. If companies are working on a shoot with BIPOC models they should try their best to hire a BIPOC photographer. Our personal experience as BIPOC photographers allows us to bring an increased level of understanding to the models and a unique sense of comfort to a shoot with a BIPOC crew. 
 
Heraclio DeLaCruz moves sheep along U.S. Highway 97 near Blewett Pass, Wash. Shepherds are responsible for flocks of up to 1000 sheep.
Heraclio DeLaCruz moves sheep across a mountaintop in the Okanogan-Wentachee National Forest near Cle Elum, Wash. Each year between 2,000 and 3,000 H-2A migrant shepherds work in Washington, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, California and Oregon. Most of the shepherds are from Peru.
Heraclio DeLaCruz rests with his dogs in the Okanogan-Wentachee National Forest near Cle Elum, Wash.
Wildfire smoke fills the sky as Heraclio DeLaCruz moves his flock in the Okanogan-Wentachee National Forest near Cle Elum, Wash. Shepherds work with herding dogs to corral and find sheep.


You started out as a photojournalist at a newspaper, what project kicked off your solo career, and how did you approach it?
I worked on a project called PNW Sheepherders for about two years before transitioning to freelance and outdoor adventure photography. At the time I was working full-time at the Yakima-Herald Republic and I would spend all of my free time photographing the project. I would drive anywhere from 1-4 hours away after work or on the weekends to shoot the project.

The project documented the lives of Peruvian migrant sheepherders who produce wool in the mountains of the western United States. The men come to the United States on the H-2A visa. They work 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week taking care of their flocks of sheep for 2.5 years straight. After their visa is up, they return home to Peru for a short 3 month period to renew their visa and then come back to do the work all over again.
I was interested in this story because there is lots of sheepherding in Idaho. I grew up seeing the sheep in the hills where I mountain biked and always wondered about them. During this project, I took a lot of time to get to know the herders. I spent the first summer getting to know the seasonality and steps of the shepherding process, where they go in the spring, where they are in the summer and then when they return. By the second season, I had formed a trusting relationship with one of the herders. I ended up focusing on his story and spent the most time with him. I’d camp next to his trailer and walk for miles through the forest with him. Somedays, I didn’t even take a photo. This was the first project I worked on that made me realize I was not meant to be a staff photograph on a newspaper and that I needed to work on more projects on my own. It is what led me to love documentary photography and ultimately pushed me to pursue freelance work.
 
Photograph by Shannon Cors

What would you tell your younger self?
Make the work you love and trust it will take you where you are supposed to go. 
 
The sheepherding project was the work I loved and it led me to where I am today. Once I finished it was published in The New York Times and in Outdoor magazine.  I knew I had given it my all and I needed to transition to freelance and try outdoor adventure. I interned at the Jackson Hole News & Guide in 2014. While at that internship I got an assignment to photographer and climb The Grand Teton. That assignment had a lasting affect on me and I never forgot about how much I loved photographing outdoor sports. After PNW Sheepherders published, I knew it was time for me to take the leap into outdoor adventure photography. I decided to drop everything in Yakima and I moved back to Jackson Hole to work on my outdoor portfolio. That was in 2018.
I share the PNW Sheepherders project with clients to show them that my photography is more dynamic than just beautiful outdoor photos. I am here to tell stories and that is what I love to do.

What are you working on these days?
I am actually working on a lot of film projects nowadays. I am working on three ski movies this season. All are non-traditional ski films and have storytelling narratives to them. I felt I needed to switch things up and try out a new medium. I am really excited about film right now, but photography will always have my heart. 

What projects do you hope for in the future?
For my personal growth as a photographer, I want to focus on film and portraiture in the next few years. I’d like to create some movies that challenge the notion of what outdoor film should be and a few portrait series that I am proud of. Additionally, I’d like to work on large productions in the Tetons and get hired for more commercial photography work. 

 
In between all of that, I want to keep planting a garden every spring, throwing pottery in my free time and adventuring with my wonderful partner in the Tetons. 
 
—————–

Feature Promo – Julie Grace Immink

Julie Grace Immink

Who printed it?
I just went to the DIY kiosk at my local drug store to print the photographs because I have a low-brow freelance promo budget. WizardPins is the company I used to make the enamel pin. My idea was to design an official membership emblem for my unofficial photography fan club. The inspiration came from other organizations that wear membership pins on their lapels, like the Shriners Masonic Society and the Unarius Academy of Science.

Who designed it?
I designed everything on my laptop. First, I turned my photograph of the woman with her dog into a simple line illustration by tracing her silhouette’s outlines with black. Then I choose appropriate colors to fill in the details of her dress. I sent that final image to be transformed into a grandma-brooch and stuck it through the photograph with my contact information.

Tell me about the images?
Inspired by how community shapes our identity, my documentary work often explores my family and my neighborhood. The woman with the dog lived next door to me for 20 years. My father is the man sitting in the diner, and my son is the boy on the left holding the kitten. The other boys are my nephews. The other images are of people that lived near me in East Los Angeles. I am now based in Milwaukee and deeply inspired by the river that runs through the city. I am currently sourcing new subjects for my next series of portraits.

How many did you make?
I initially made 100 pins for my photography exhibition in LA two years ago. At the reception, guests were given the pins like a door-prize. Everyone wore them in the museum to pretend we were a secret art society that was for members-only. The leftover handful, I was brainstorming on how to use them and decided to turn them into a promotional piece to get my work in front of editors.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
You are the only editor I have sent a promotional piece. I plan to mail more later this year, hoping to catch a few editors’ attention. I admire the aesthetic of the editors of The California Sunday Magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Jody Quon, and Kathy Ryan, among so many others.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Hopefully, creating the members-only pin shows my aesthetic, and editors will find the piece creative and memorable.

Will you make more pins?
I plan on making another series of enamel pins from my photographs and sell them as collectibles with limited edition prints. Creating a wearable/interactive art piece is charming. Martin Parr’s coloring book, I thought, was brilliant.

This Week in Photography: Hernie & Plume

 

It’s my birthday today.

(Meaning, Thursday.)

 

The last few years, I planned to have the day off, but that wasn’t possible in #2021.

(C’est la vie.)

Thankfully, I love writing this column, and appreciate you all so much.

 

If you’re reading this, whether it’s your first time at the blog, or you’ve been here for years, thanks for giving us your attention!

It’s an attention-based-economy, these days, which is why you-know-who was so capable of taking over America.

He is a black hole for our collective attention, and current and future Trumpers are lining up to copy his moves, which he learned from Roy Cohn. (Loved this fact-bomb in “City on a Hill,” an Affleck/Damon-produced, Boston-based, Showtime show that I just saw on Prime.)

 

In an attention-economy, the more we’re aware of how media’s structure and content change our brains, the better we’re able to regulate our own use.

To modulate our consumption, when possible.

How much of our own attention can we give to things, voluntarily, instead of subconsciously? Unlike that phase we just left, in which one human sucked up all the air for 5 years.

Now that the news cycle has finally, blissfully moved on, we can focus more brain space back to our own art projects, or family and friends. We can look at more art, rather than hate-watching our Twitter feeds.

In a pre-pandemic world, some of the best parts of life included getting into other people’s spaces, and faces.

Meeting strangers in odd circumstances.

Hell, we just passed the one year anniversary of my trip to Amsterdam.

I remember sharing a small table with a guy from Munster, Germany, and another from India, in tight quarters, smoking weed in the Jolly Joker.

A year on, that seems unimaginable.
Chatting with strangers, three feet apart, unmasked.

Right?

I was there to print “Extinction Party” at Wilco Art Books, in Amersfoort, which was a short train ride away from Amsterdam, where I was staying.

Here’s a photo of me and Marco Nap, at Wilco.
Don’t we seem naively unaware of what was coming, in just a few weeks?

Marco and Me

 

The world was about to flip upside down, like “Stranger Things,” and we were just grinning like a couple of groomsmen.

On my trip, I made friends while I was there, but didn’t stay in touch.

Meeting strangers, but the keeping them in your lives.
That’s more difficult, right?

I’m asking, because I just finished looking at “Hernie & Plume,” the superb photo book by Katherine Longly, an artist in Belgium, published by the Eriskay Connection.

And it was printed, you guessed it, at Wilco Art Books in Amersfoort, Netherlands.

(So there’s the double shout out.)

Apparently, the artist was trying too photograph Christmas images at what we in the US would call a trailer park, and there is called a trailer camp.

She met Blieke and Nicole, (who were a long-term-couple,) when they popped out of a trailer and asked what she was doing.

Then they invited her in for a beer.

They had matching twist-tie-engagement-rings, may or may not have been married, and seemed to have become romantic partners later in life.

There is a strong narrative here, and it’s why I’m always preaching that people give their books a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Tell a story, like it’s a movie, but with slightly different tools.

Grab the reader’s attention, reel in their curiosity, and then unspool the story in a way that doesn’t leave room to get bored, or check out.

Remember the other week, when I wrote a review about a book that was all-one-format, all the way through, with nothing to break it up?

This book is the opposite of that.

It’s so thoughtfully crafted.

From the colorful-canvas-cover, to the different photo styles and paper choices. (Shiny silver for some interview text.)

I reviewed Katherine’s previous book in the column, and then again for .tiff Magazine, from FOMU in Antwerp.

So I’m a fan; already on record as being impressed by her multi-technique-style, and subject-participation structure.

(Furthermore, I’ve also recommended to several students that they put the camera in their subjects’ hands.)

Seeing it done here, in which Blieke, who was a super-cop, at one point, and Nicole, who drove a tram, get to make photos of their crazy parties, and then the orientation changes to horizontal, and those photos are printed on burgundy-brown paper?

So cool.

The book keeps you engaged, and the sharp, artful images of house backgrounds, cooking ingredients, or the dildo on the kitchen table, it all holds you.

Their love story.
The friendship with Katherine.

The text messages.

In the end, (spoiler alert,) we learn that Blieke is sick; we see the scar on his chest, and learn of heart issues. Then there is a text about being in intensive care at the hospital, and the book implies he’s died.

The end.
It’s sad.

There is a lot of information on the back cover, about this being the product of a workshop by Jan Rosseel and Yumi Goto, at the International Summer School of Photography in Latvia, in 2018.

“Hernie & Plume” came from a time when people could congregate and collaborate, IRL.

The book is intimate and emotional, but also technical and creative, like an attacking midfielder in the Belgian national football team. (Eden Hazard?)

It’s well-thought-out, (and before I forget, Hernie & Plume, spoiler alert, are the parrot and the dog.)

I hope soon enough, we can live like this again, and people can hang out together, free from a scary pandemic.

 

See you next week.

 

To purchase “Hernie & Plume,” click here 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please contact me directly at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by women, and artists of color, so we may maintain a balanced program. 

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

 

Today’s featured artist:  Bryan Coppede

 

Rangers – A Portrait Series

The Mohonk Preserve in upstate New York holds a special place in my heart. Rock climbing is a hobby of mine, and I have been frequenting the Preserve for the majority of the past decade. For at this wonderful nature reserve is the world famous “Gunks” rock climbing area.

The Preserve, at 8,000 acres, is the largest visitor supported area of its type in the state of New York. In addition to several miles of spectacular cliffs perfect for rock climbing, there are dozens of trails and carriage roads that cater to outdoor activities year round.

I have long felt a connection to this land, and wanted to include it somehow in my work. Years ago, I came up with the idea for a portrait series of climbers around the Preserve. However, a portrait of climbers was nothing new, and I could not quite figure out how to add my own take on the subject. So I shelved the idea, keeping it in the back of my mind.

Fast-forward to summer 2020, the middle of the pandemic. I was upstate enjoying some much needed camping and hiking when I learned that a friend had recently taken a position as a ranger at the Preserve. Like a lightning bolt, the idea hit me. I would adapt my prior intention of photographing climbers at the Preserve and photograph the ranger staff as my subjects instead. I reached out to my friend, and he put me in touch with the Preserve’s decision makers, who approved the project.

For the photo-shoot, I asked each ranger to pick a location around the Preserve for their portrait that held special meaning to them. By including my subjects as active participants in the process, they were more comfortable and engaged during our time together.

Rangers at the Preserve have always been stewards of the land and its visitors. They guide lost hikers to safety, and rappel down cliffs to rescue injured climbers. This series of portraits was a complete joy to create and a fitting tribute to these selfless hardworking men and women. They are heroes, undeniably.

The Mohonk Preserve has long been a natural outdoor respite from city life. This has never been truer during this pandemic. The science shows that outdoor activities are safer, and we all need some time in nature to recharge. These rangers have kept the Preserve open, clean and safe, and as such have provided an opportunity for tens of thousands of people to take a walk in the woods, and heal in nature. Thank you Rangers!

To see more of this project, click here.

Bryan’s IG: @bryancoppede

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

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

 

The Daily Edit – The New Yorker: Brendan George Ko

The New Yorker

Photographer: Brendan George Ko
Read the Story Here

Heidi: Did you follow the entire migration path?
Brendan: We didn’t cover the entire migration path which starts off in and around the Great Lakes area between the Canada and US border and goes southbound till reaching the middle of Mexico. The monarch butterflies born in the north are the very butterflies that arrive in Mexico and it is their offspring return back to where their parents came from after 4-5 generations.

Was it difficult to capture both still and moving images?
It was a juggle the entire time as I was operating three cameras for the entire assignment. I had one camera for video, one for both stills and slow-motion video, and one film camera. My assistant and fixer helped carry my gear. Because we had restrictions on any additional lighting, whether it was constant or strobe, I was constantly moving around, carefully as there’s thousands of butterflies at my feet, in search of good light. Even setting up a tripod was a delicate procedure. For the entire time on location I was lost in the euphoria of being surrounded by all these butterflies and the frenzy of documenting it all in four different modes, on top of having to shoot vertical and horizontal. It was a lot!

What surprised you on this assignment?
On one day I had elevation sickness for the first in my life. The elevation of the biosphere is 10,000ft, which is the elevation of Haleakalā on my home island of Maui. In addition I was currently suffering from food poisoning, which seems like it would’ve taken away from the experience but it was mystic either way.

Elaborate on your mystical experience.
Mystic as in spiritual, I believe that some places invite one to experience them, to bear witness, and feel its mana (spiritual energy). Before I got to El Rosario I was wondering why of all places do the butterflies gather here, why fly thousands of kilometers to this one specific mountain and only rest on one specific species of tree that happens to be endemic to the region? It goes beyond the beauty of location, a circle of volcanoes and endless forest, it is a place without time and deep silence, for the nuns I encountered it was a religious experience.

Unpack the connection of place.
I made the connection because I am used to the elevation of El Rosario since Haleakalā on my home island is just as high, and I had hiked, camped, and star gazed there countless times. So suddenly to get elevation sickness for the first time I get it while experiencing this most sublime event in nature, I found humor in.

What did you learn about yourself watching the butterflies?
Because of our exclusive access we were able to go to areas closed off to the public. It was still early in the morning and the butterflies hadn’t woken up yet. Our guides motioned to us to be silent as we tiptoed around the thousands of butterflies on the ground. The little morning light we had was dimly reduced by thick foliage on the oyamel firs all around us. It wasn’t until we were absolutely surrounded that I noticed the thick foliage was actually millions of butterflies all resting and waiting for the sun to warm their wings. I immediately forgot about my sickness and went to work. The lead monarch butterfly researcher, Eduardo, picked up one of the grounded butterflies, cupped it in his hands and placed it next to his month. As he blew, the warmth of his breath activated the monarch and like a magic trick the butterfly flew away.

Can you share a little about creating those stunning videos? 
In terms of framing: Once we had access to a place we move as the butterflies moved. Because we weren’t allowed to make noise, we would wave and signal to each other where the butterflies were taking flight in the masses. I would drop my bag to shoot something then ten minutes later I would be down the hill at a completely new scene with whatever I had on me. It felt like covering a war of the butterflies and I was Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now with five cameras around my neck and constantly calculating how to document something. I wanted to convey what it is like to experience this event, I wanted that magic and its detail to be carried in the images.

Did you wear special clothing? I interviewed Ami Vital and she wore a panda outfit on a project.
I wore a giant butterfly outfit, just kidding. The mornings were cold and the mid-days were hot, so I had shorts in my bag, I’d start off the day with a hoodie and raincoat, and strip off layers. I had my trusty travel backpack and a large hip bag on me for easy access. I wore sneakers to tiptoe easily.

What did you learn about yourself watching the butterflies, did they land on you?
They landed on all of us and even on my gear. At the end of the day I would close my eyes and see the pattern of thousands of butterflies flying all around me, and the sound of all their fluttering wings echoed in my mind.

How long were you in on location?
We were in Mexico for a week. We landed in Mexico City, where we met up with our Fixer, Hector, and the rep from WWF Latin American, Monica and drove out to Zitacuaro where we were stationed and each day we drove out to various places surrounding the biosphere. Neither I nor my assistant spoke Spanish, so there were a lot of good conversations we missed out on.

Featured Promo – John Davis

John Davis

Who printed it?
Smartpress in Minnesota.

Who designed it?
Lindsay Thomson at Wonderful Machine. I worked closely with Lindsay over about two months to design the booklet. After discussing overall look, number of images/spreads and sample treatments, she went to work on three potential directions. Once I decided on the final look we moved forward with the cover-to-cover design.

Tell me about the images?
I worked with photo consultant, Stephanie Menuez, in Spring of 2020 to select the images for the booklet. She had just finished a total re-edit of my website so we already had a pretty good idea what images would be considered. We decided to focus on my education work since it’s the biggest part of my client base. The images are a mix of student lifestyle, campus beauty, classroom and portraits shot for brick and mortar and online education clients across the country. I also wanted the promo to appeal to people outside of the education marketing world so we were careful to use images that spoke to a broader audience.

How many did you make?
We printed 100. The goal was to focus on a small select group of existing and “dream” clients. I only sent about 25 to existing education clients in the Fall of 2020. Since many people are working from home during the pandemic, I made sure to contact them before mailing to make sure they reached the intended recipients. The plan is to send another batch in February/March and keep the remainder for leave behinds.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I usually try to send printed promos around four times per year. I supplement those with email promos that go out every two or three months. Since many people were working from home in 2020, this booklet was the only printed promo that made it out the door.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I continue to have faith in printed promos. Their short term effectiveness is difficult to gauge but hopefully people put them on their wall or file them for future reference increasing the potential for a longterm pay-off. I like to do a combination of single postcards and at least one more engaging multi-image piece throughout the year. The more involved promos provide an opportunity for me to give clients a better idea of who I am as a photographer and creative thinker. Delivering printed promos is a challenge these days but I think people will appreciate the effort and are in need of something more tactile in this age of COVID Zoom meetings.

About a year ago I was contacted by an agency that still had a promo booklet I sent out over 15 years ago! It didn’t result in a job but, who knows, maybe they’ll reach out in another 15 years or tomorrow. Either way, It still opened a door that wasn’t there before.

This Week in Photography: A Family Roadtrip

 

I’m turning 47 next week.

In lockdown.

 

Last year, I went to the hot springs at Ojo Caliente, as they let NM residents in for free on your birthday.

But the resort partially burned down in #2020, and even if it hadn’t, sharing collective pools with strangers is about the last thing I’d want to do right now.

image courtesy of Taos Ski Valley

This year, I’m guessing I’ll spend the day with my wife and children, as I have the last 350.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Over the years, I’ve taken amazing birthday trips to the beach in SoCal, or on a bender in Amsterdam. Celebrating via travel was fun, when possible.

Not in #2021, though.

While my freedom of movement has been restricted during the pandemic, (like all of us,) I’ve had the opportunity to grow as a person, in properly deep ways, and my love and connection to my wife and kids is far beyond what it was when we were hopping around the country in 2019.

(Quick update: after bottoming out on the day of the Capitol insurrection, my marriage, and my wife’s health, are both better than they’ve been in years. Thanks again to all the people who expressed concern in early January.)

Where was I?

Some time during my mid-40’s, I realized my relationship with my parents and brother, which had dominated my thoughts since I was young, was far less important than the one with my wife and children.

Perhaps it’s commonplace, but I understood being a husband and father, and how I handled those roles, would matter more to the rest of my life than how I lived as a son and a brother. (Probably 4 years of therapy had something to do with it.)

Still, I meet so many people my age, or older, who think constantly about how they get along with their parents and siblings. Their self-worth is all wrapped up in their family of origin.

Rather than the one they’ve created as adults.

To be clear, I’m not throwing my folks and brother under the bus. They certainly mean well.

I’m more interested in explaining that as I grow older, (and hopefully wiser,) I realize how I raise my kids and support my wife will determine my karma, and how I’m judged by whatever large forces are out there, making the planets move and the tides rise and fall.

(Is that the most mid-life-sentiment I’ve ever written?)

I’m not waxing philosophical today because I’m that much closer to 50.

Not at all.

Rather, I just finished looking at, and reading, “Everything Else in the Universe: A Father-Son Road Trip,” a self-published book sent in late-last-summer by Har-Prakash and Gurudayal Khalsa.

The book is both very-well-titled, and also a tad misleading, because it’s actually a chronicle of two road trips, which included other members of the Khalsa family. (As Canadian Sikhs exploring America during the early part of the Trump era, you’ve got to give them props for having cojones, that’s for sure.)

This is one of those books I love to see come in the mail, because it is so different from the high-end art books I often review.

It’s a testament to the variety of our audience, and the breadth of what photography means, that something this personal, and open-hearted, will show up in the mail, wrapped to the teeth, with a typed letter in lieu of a press release.

I try to treat each submission in context, and rarely open a package I can’t review, but with this book, I’m not going to be critical on the same level as I might with something from MACK or Damiani.

It’s not really meant as a commercial production.

So I could quibble, and say that there are maybe too many photos, but really, what’s the point?

We get to see this merry band of wanderers, clearly in love with each other, as they bounce around in their camper van, or sleep in tents in the Utah desert.

There are text interludes, to break up the monotony, including an anecdote about a fellow camper who slit her wrists, which reminds Har-Prakash of the time he was summoned to India to pick up Gurudayal, who was having a mental health episode.

I’ve been to so many of the places in the book, like Arches, the California Central Coast, San Francisco, and Point Reyes National Sea Shore. (My parents came out to SF for my birthday, around 2000, and we booked a B&B in Point Reyes, only for it to rain the entire weekend, which raised the stress level to 10.)

This is a sweet, lovely book, and while some of the landscape photos are little touristy for my taste, they’re also countered by well-framed images of photos of dead soldiers inside a Walmart, or a relaxed museum patron lounging in a window box at SFMOMA.

It goes without saying that trips like this, and all the random human encounters described within, (including an emphasis on the kindness of strangers,) can’t happen in our current pandemic lifestyle.

So for one of my birthday wishes, (if I get more than one,) I’m hoping that we all have a safer, healthier, more normal world, before I turn 48.

I hope I can take my kids on the road some time this year, and hug them tightly when they crawl into their hotel beds at night. (No camping for me, thanks.)

To purchase “Everything Else in the Universe” click here 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please contact me directly at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by women, and artists of color, so we may maintain a balanced program. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Maro Rennella

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

 

Today’s featured artist:  Maro Rennella

Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been passionate about the idea of traveling, and my love of photography has a lot to do with it.

It’s been with me 24/7 from the moment I embarked on this quest of the image and its ability to communicate, some twenty years ago.

Above all, I value the experience, the act of shooting; it’s become a necessity.

Photography is like a close encounter with the things I like best about me; it puts me in orbit, so to speak.

My working process is based on intuition, with just basic planning (sometimes not even that). The concept is usually a direct result from experience.

I’m a firm believer in the power of the image, as opposed to the overabundance of discourse.

I was always interested in documenting my particular vision of reality, though as of late I’ve been broadening my horizons to include that which is barely perceived, the realms of illusion and the sublime.

Mist and Walk two of my latest works, are a clear example of that new approach.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

IG accounts: Maro   and the International Mixologist Luis Inchaurraga

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

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

 

The Daily Edit – Natasha Cunningham


Natasha Cunningham

Heidi: Where does your love of digital collage come from?

Natasha: My passion for digital collage evolved with the growth of my ‘A Portrait a Day series’. I’ve worked in Advertising for the past decade and overtime did a lot of image compositing for local Ad campaigns and wanted to explore it outside of the corporate setting and more on the storytelling side of things.

You are in the hundreds by now,  tell us about “Portrait a Day” 

Yes, I am now at Day 130. It’s been a slow and steady journey. I started the Instagram series to combat my creative block at the time. The aim was to post a portrait-focused design everyday highlighting creative people who’s work inspired me. It was purely experimental, fun and consistent in the beginning. Overtime I became less consistent with posting daily, however, I’ve had the opportunity to work on some amazing pieces that highlight topics that focus on the black community globally.

What have you learned about yourself?

This series has allowed me to create artwork from the perspective of telling stories and I’ve discovered that I’m equally passionate about Visual Art (storytelling) as much as I am about Graphic Design (problem-solving).

Are you also taking portraits as well as designing?

I do take portraits with my iPhone if the need arises. However, I mostly rely on the expertise of photographers.

What was it about the Patagonia project that spoke to you?

The experience of the enslaved people through the lens of wildlife biology isn’t something that I ever thought would be interesting. It is not merely a different perspective, but an untapped investigation that adds to the understanding of the history of black people in America. It makes you think, ‘who was really the King or Queen of the Wild Frontier’?

Featured Promo – Kyle de Vre

Kyle de Vre

Who printed it and how many did you make?
A company in New York printed the run of 100 editions. (I did not have a very great experience with them since they ran the 100 copies without showing me a final proof and sliced the images off near the center of the book, and had to reprint everything) The book is technically not a promo but the original run of the book.

Who designed it?
I designed the book with a friend, since he knew InDesign, more than I did at the time. I wanted it to be simple, and about the images and the characters, which is why I chose to go full bleed with no text. Make people curious about the people that were drinking in Sophies Bar on Tuesdays at 3pm, which is when and where I shoot the entirety of the project.

Tell me about the images?
The images are all people I know fairly well, and would ask to come in for portraits. I have stories about each and every one of them, some I met at the bar and became friends of mine, some are co workers, some local neighborhood legends and regulars. I got the idea after I started bringing my camera to the bar every tuesday and shot a portrait of a friend, which is the first photo in the book. I also had a few regulars who I always said “see you next tuesday” to since the only day shift at sophies I worked was Tuesday.

I still need to shoot a few more portraits, but I am planning to put all the images together into a hardcover book with all the images from the original book i sent you in the near future.  I shoot it all on delta 3200 film with a hasselblad 501cm and I process and print all the images myself in the darkroom and scan the prints.

This Week in Photography: Exploring Myths

 

Have you ever heard of a duende?

 

That’s OK.
You can say no.
I realize it’s unlikely.

I’d never heard of a duende either, until a group of my students told me all about them, around ten years ago.

It was my first year teaching in a new program at UNM-Taos, in which high-achieving high school students from around Northern New Mexico came to college on Fridays for free classes.

I’d been teaching teens in another program for several years, by that point, (all from Taos,) but with the new group, the conversations often veered to unfamiliar places.

To answer my opening question, duendes are mythical creatures, a cross between dwarves, elves and gnomes, that are meant to haunt and/or populate the mountains here at the edge of the former Spanish Empire in America.

I’m guessing it’s a part of a mythology common to other former Spanish colonies, but duendes were new to me.

Even stranger, all of the students in the class believed they were real.

 

I nodded along, first in curiosity, then in wonder, as the kids told me other ghost stories, and hard-to-fathom myths they all believed were true.

(If it were appropriate at the time, I probably would have said WTF, but it wasn’t, so I didn’t.)

My parents first brought me to Taos when I was 14, and though I lived here for short stretches when I was younger, it’s been nearly 16 years since we moved back in 2005, and I definitely feel like I understand the place.

Sometimes.

Or rather, I understand parts of the culture well, and other elements will likely always remain a mystery.

For example.

In one of my last classes at UNM-Taos, before I left to start Antidote, I encouraged a young student to make a series about her husband, whose job was collecting firewood in the mountains.

He’d go up with a friend, chop trees, and haul the wood down, to sell during firewood season.

Most people have wood stoves here, (for obvious reasons, now that Texans have been without heat for days for lack of electricity,) and many-if-not-most of the local Hispanic and Native American folks harvest their own wood. But among the Anglo culture, many-if-not-most people buy wood, and having a wood guy who’s reliable is wise.

Most wood guys are older, grizzled, and big, but my student’s husband was about 21 at the time, and skinny as a twig, so it made for compelling imagery.

A few years ago, in order to help support their young family, I decided to give my wood business to Andre, who’s unfailingly nice, polite and punctual.

But this being the 21st Century, he’s also a good capitalist, raising his prices each year, and each month in the firewood season, to create artificial pressure to buy early.

Just this morning, on Facebook, (because like I said, it’s the 21st Century,) Andre posted about hunting down a bobcat with his dogs, and killing it in the mountains. There were photographs, of course, and I was shocked to see them.

(And it’s pretty hard to shock me in #2021.)

 

As an environmentalist of sorts, I stared at the photographs, unable to wrap my mind around the motivation for hunting and killing a gorgeous cat, far from humanity, that was likely causing no one any harm.

WTF?

But I also realized that the culture surrounding this action, (as evidenced by the scores of likes on the post,) was still opaque to me, even after all these years.

People hunt because their fathers (or mothers,) teach them to hunt. It’s a bonding experience, and becomes ingrained in the memory as positive and exiting.

(The thrill of the chase, to which the post alludes.)

I don’t get it because I’m not meant to get it. I don’t need to get it. It’s not for me.

At some point, our allegiance to our culture, and our tribe, becomes so enmeshed in us that it perpetuates itself.

The myths, norms, and realities of a society are valued because they always have been.

And our cultural specificity is what creates a sense of place, a sense of differentiation, a sense of identity.

I might not believe in duendes, but that’s OK. Instead, I believe that some Jewish fighters hiding out during a war had magical candle oil that lasted for 8 days, which was a miracle, and now we get presents at Chanukah.

Just so we’re clear, I’m not trashing Andre for bagging that bobcat, though when I saw how gorgeous it was, I very much wished it weren’t dead.

I have a friend, Mike, who once told me he’d killed 8 mountain lions, and I hung on his very word as he described tracking one, so I know it gets the blood pumping. (He’d been hired to do it for a private ranch, so his kills weren’t for fun.)

But sometimes, elements of a culture are so crazy, so bizarre, as to seem made up.

Too strange to be real.

And today, we have the opportunity to see one such story, which was imagined, and then photographed, by the creative team of Carolina Dutca and Valentin Sidorenko in the Transnistria region of Moldova.

At the beginning of the year, I published a series by Laidric Stevenson, which I found online, and that kicked off a new subset of the column, as I’d never before shown work that I hadn’t seen on a wall, in a book, or at a portfolio review.

Coincidentally, a couple of weeks later, Carolina reached out to show me this project, “Apă,” and I totally loved it. (How could you not?)

During the covid year, the two artists teamed up with a local woman, Elena Nikolaevna, who made recycled rugs, and together they created the seemingly-real-but-completely-fabricated myth of the ancient Labyrinthodontia buccellatum, a creature living in the now-polluted Dniester River in Moldova.

The rugs look like lily pads, for sure, and the creature slinks through the photographs, including in a made-up historical looking postcard. As they write in their artist statement, “Elena gave the foundling a name – Apă [ah’pə], which means ‘water’ in Moldavian language.”

Wow.

Don’t wish you’d thought of something like this?

I write about America so often that it’s easy to forget the internet allows this blog to be read around the Earth, and today, we all derive benefit from that.

Carolina is from Moldova, and Valentin is from Russia, at the edge of the former Soviet Empire, near Kazakhstan, on the opposite side of the planet.

And we get to see and discuss their work, as the world is so interconnected in the 21C.

I am pretty psyched they reached out to share this brilliant project with us, and I’m sure you’ll agree.

In #2021, I finally started a new photo series, (with my new camera,) trying to understand this culture in which I’ve ensnared myself, yet I know some parts of the story will never be mine to tell.

Hopefully, Carolina and Valentin will inspire you to get out there and make some crazy shit, because what else are you going to do with your life?

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Jesse Dittmar

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

Today’s featured artist:  Jesse Dittmar

 

Modeling Tests with We Speak Modeling

I wanted to try some new equipment and lighting styles, so I brought in models for what is a pretty standard scenario in the industry: you contact an agency, they send you some new talent, and you trade services. I did a few of these with traditional models at traditional modeling agencies. I was bored. The pictures were nice but uninteresting. I remember saying, I’m just not going to do this again; there doesn’t seem to be a point.

Then I stumbled upon We Speak. They were different and disruptive. I contacted the founder Briauna, got a few people in front of me for a test, and was not bored. I was inspired. I was photographing people with incredible stories and making art that I was excited about: the core reason I became a photographer in the first place.

These shoots have been simple. Just the model and me. Self-styled. Collaborative. There has been a lot of conversation, I’ve learned more than I could express in an artist statement, and I am lucky to have the continued opportunity to photograph the We Speak roster.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

To keep up with Jesse, click IG

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

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

 

The Daily Edit – Eric Fisher


Photographer: Eric Fisher

Heidi: How does nature inform your life?
Eric: Nature plays a huge role in my life. I spend a large percentage of my time outdoors and it helps make me who I am. My love for the outdoors started at a young age on fishing trips with my dad. My love of nature helped spur my passion for photography: I wanted to memorialize the experiences. I have now traveled all over the world not just for photography and fishing, but also to hike, camp, ski and so many other activities I have learned to love over the years. I have maintained friendships through these travels, and met new people. In today’s world, I think it’s easy to lose our connection to nature. When I go for a long period without being in the field, I start to feel like something is missing.

Have you become more patient?
Growing up as an avid fisherman, patience is the key to success. So I have always considered myself patient (although my girlfriend and mom might not agree with that statement). But as my career in photography has progressed, my patience has been tested more than I ever thought possible. I have spent countless hours lying in ditches, streams, snow and mud at both frigid and scorching hot temperatures. I have spent days trying to photograph an animal without ever even seeing it. And as I’ve honed my craft, I am constantly striving for more creative and unique images, which requires more time, effort, and of course patience.

You had a significant career shift, when did you know it was the right time to change your life?
Eric: In my previous career I worked in finance for an investment management company. I enjoyed the job but also felt a constant pull toward the outdoors and wildlife photography. I happened upon an ad for a fishing guide position for a remote unnamed lodge in Alaska, and the description seemed all too familiar to me. A few months prior, I visited a lodge in Alaska with some friends. I had the time of my life fishing for salmon and photographing brown bears. I reached out to the owner’s son, who I had come to know well at the lodge during my trip. He confirmed the position, and I knew I had to pursue it. After a relatively short phone interview, he told me to, “Come on up for the season and we’ll see how it goes.” I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. My first season up in Alaska changed my life. Guiding allowed me to share my passions for fishing and photography with others, and every day is an amazing experience.

Tell us the backstory about this image with the bear and salmon.
I work as a fly fishing and brown bear viewing guide in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska each summer. The peak time to watch the bears fishing lasts only a few weeks every August. On one rare night off, I knew I wanted to utilize that time to hopefully photograph some bears catching salmon. With a storm approaching over the Cook Inlet and daylight fading, I knew I didn’t have a lot of time. When I got to the river mouth, I found one of my favorite bears, “Sniper,” fishing. We called him Sniper because he was infamous for stealing fish from defenseless cubs. He also happened to be pretty good at catching his own fish, so I was happy to find him. The bears all have unique fishing techniques. Sniper typically sits patiently in the water waiting for a fish to splash. Once the fish gives away its location, he’s off and running through the water to catch it. It didn’t take long for a few salmon to break the water and Sniper was off. He came up empty on his first few attempts. Eventually, I saw a fish splash right in front of me. Sniper did too. He sprinted after it, the once serene river now in chaos as the salmon swam for its life. Within seconds Sniper covered nearly 40 yards and was on the salmon’s tail. He dove head first into the water.  From behind the camera, I hoped this attempt was a success. All the elements of a great shot were aligned, I just needed Sniper to get the salmon. The water cleared, and Sniper emerged with a fresh salmon between his teeth. The salmon released her eggs into the river as a last ditch effort to procreate. As he turned and walked directly towards me, I held down the camera’s trigger. Sniper kept walking my direction with his eyes locked on mine. Unbothered by my presence and focused on his dinner, he plopped down about 15 feet in front of where I was lying to eat. In a matter of minutes the 5 pound salmon was devoured. As he got up and walked back to the river, I took a quick peek at the photos and knew I had gotten the shot I had always imagined.

Are you taking images alone out the great outdoors?
When I’m not guiding, I usually find myself taking images alone. I don’t have many friends who are willing to do the same hike twice just to capture the best possible light, or to lay in the snow waiting for a moose to stand up. Its fine with me though, I actually prefer to be alone when I’m out photographing. It allows me to connect more with nature and I overall feel more relaxed and creative.

Have you had any encounters that were magical and frightening?
I’ve had a few encounters that got my blood pumping. Most of those instances have involved bears running out from the woods when I’m fishing. None of them have been threatening, just a bear thinking the fish I have is an easy meal. It still is nerve wracking though to be surprised by a 500 pound bear running through the water directly at you. I was also bluff charged by a moose a few years ago when it thought I was a rival bull. It stopped after a few yards, and I happily took the hint and moved on. The most magical encounter I’ve had happened my first year guiding in Alaska. Late one evening, I was on the beach heading back to the lodge with another guide, Megan. The sun had just set and the water was perfectly calm. As we cruised along in the ATV we noticed a wolf watching us from a sandy bank above the high tide line. We immediately turned off the ATV and slowly sat down in the sand. The wolf didn’t seem threatened by our presence; he simply sat there watching us.  Curiosity took over after mere minutes, and it trotted down to check us out. It slowly circled us, each time getting a little closer. My heart was beating so fast I could feel it pounding in my chest. When it was no more than 20 feet away it plopped down in the sand and continued to stare back at us. Neither of us moved a muscle. We didn’t want to frighten the wolf and end the experience. When I thought it couldn’t get any better, the wolf picked up a stick and started to play with it. It tossed it in the air just like my neighbors golden retriever would do in the backyard. After 20 minutes the wolf must have gotten bored with us and it walked away, disappearing into the tall grass.

Time is the one thing that we all share and most of us wish we had more of. I always try to make the most of my time and overall that leads me to have a pace of life that I would consider as “full”. I want to experience as much as I can and try to spend each day like it could be my last. When it comes to capturing certain photos, the normal time of everyday life essentially comes to a halt. I’ll spend countless hours waiting in the field in order to capture the photo I’ve imagined. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What spoke to you about this image?
Most of my favorite photos start off as ideas in my head and are then followed by a lot of time, effort, and a little bit of luck to capture them. I had been guiding in Alaska for three years prior to capturing this photo, so this specific image has been haunting me for a long time. I’ve captured a few that were close but there were always one or two elements that were missing, like lack of eye contact with the bear. I chose this photo for the Field Outrider contest because it finally checked all the boxes for the image I had imagined in my head.  A bear with a freshly caught salmon, walking directly towards me in some great light.

 

This Week in Photography: The SoCal Trilogy

 

I’ve watched a lot of TV, over the years.

Like, a lot.

Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, there was a time when options were limited, and everyone watched more-or-less the same stuff.

I can’t tell you how many re-runs of “The Brady Bunch,” “The Addams Family,” or “The Munsters” I saw back in the day, even though I didn’t particularly love any of those shows.

 

 

There were 3 channels, and you watched what was on.

That was that.

Then came cable, and I still remember the box we had back in Jersey, with these oblong buttons you depressed, to switch among 35 options, which made me feel like a King choosing which outfit to wear, from a closet filled with thousands of fine suits.

“Oh Manfred, please hand me the gray Armani with the super-thin pinstripes. No, you idiot, not THAT gray Armani with the super-thin pinstripes! The other one!”

Later in life, when we were poaching limited cable in Brooklyn, or dealing with 4 channels from a rooftop antenna when we first moved back to New Mexico, Jessie and I occasionally watched awful stuff, as there were so few choices.

At one point, I’m embarassed to admit, we even watched “The Biggest Loser,” NBC’s fat-shaming reality show that I would certainly unsee, if only I could.

 

 

A few years ago, in a life including Dish satellite TV, but before we had any streaming services, I remember checking out the Fox sitcom “The Last Man on Earth,” starring the always brilliant Will Forte. (Dude can be funny without even talking, which is tough.)

I was intrigued from the jump, as the idea of only one person left on the planet, who could then raid all the grocery stores, drink all the vodka, and blow shit up in the middle of the street, was watchable, at first.

Then, Kristin Schaal came along, because apparently, he wasn’t REALLY the only person left alive, after a pandemic virus wiped out nearly all of humanity. (Too soon?)

She is funny as hell, and brilliant, but was definitely playing an annoying character on the show. Then more people popped up, proving the title was a lie, and once January Jones joined the cast, who is easy-on-the-eyes, but not-so-good-at-acting, (outside of her robotic Betty Draper days,) I was done.

It had become an ensemble cast, with all the regular-people-talking-to-other-people problems, and Will Forte was not enough to hold my attention.

I switched the channel, and never looked back.

“Tension creates attention,” is one of my new catch-phrases, and surprises are good, but you also have to want to engage with something, because hate-watching only works for so long.

(I mention this, while currently on a family binge of “Survivor” reruns, because my kids like it, and some days I want to poke my eyes out because the show is so terrible.)

Why am I on about all of this? When did this become a TV criticism column?

Funny you should ask.

I just finished looking at “Riviera: Photographs of Palm Springs,” by John Brian King, which was published by Spurl Editions in #2020.

I’ve told you it takes me forever to get through the book stack these days, and this one arrived last June, so it came in at a time when streets were empty, anger and fear were high, and it felt like Voldemort might really kill us all in the end.

I think John wrote to me, and I almost remember saying the book looked intriguing, and from the jump, I can see why it would have caught my eye.

We’re now in a trilogy of SoCal photo book reviews, and the last is the most flawed, though also the most compelling from a small sample.

The photographs are moody, and soft focus, with a subdued, pastel color palette, and a smattering of images that make me think of UFO’s and aliens, which will always get my attention.

However.

There are so many photos of an empty landscape, with no people, and it really does feel like humanity has been wiped away.

Post-apocalyptic for sure.

But the design features two photographs opposite each other, in the same size, page after page.

And there are a lot of pages.

(In fairness, on second viewing, I noticed that very rarely, they incorporated only one photo per spread, instead of two.)

I work with people on producing photo books these days, and am always discussing the idea that monotony will cause a viewer to lose focus.

Attention will drift, and boredom will creep in, when you come to expect, and then KNOW, what is coming next.

Good design will play with scale, and location on the page. Or mix in tension breakers, and unexpected motifs.

Maybe slip text into the mix, instead of only photos.

It’s important, IMO, to consider a viewer’s attention span, if you want to make a great book, because otherwise people will begin to flip through the pages, and you’ve lost them.

So today, I wanted to write about this book as a teachable moment.

The art is good, and the aesthetic is consistent, but I barely forced myself to make it until the end. (Which is more than I can say for that Will Forte show.)

Some of you might like this book, and that’s cool. I don’t want to be a hater.

But if you’re considering making a book yourself, (or a catalog, or a ‘zine,) please don’t be afraid to mix it up.

Play with your design, or hire someone who knows what they’re doing.

Because being creative doesn’t end when you click the shutter, make your photo edit, or finalize your color correction.

Design is a creative enterprise as well, and is so crucial to the book-making process, even if you think you can do it yourself.

To purchase “Riviera: Photographs of Palm Springs” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please contact me directly at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by women, and artists of color, so we may maintain a balanced program. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Lupine Hammack

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

Today’s featured artist:  Luppine Hammack

 

To see more of this project, click here.

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

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