The Daily Edit – Brett Williams Childs: Against Monolith

 

Photographer: Brett Williams Childs

Heidi: Why did you title this series Against Monolith?
These portraits are part of a series exploring the individuality and historical representation of people of color. Using the history of film photography and also Kodak films and guide literature, I explore the struggle of maintaining individuality in a much larger social structure. Historically, individual people of color were often viewed as monolith, a singular mass distinctly lacking individual identity. “They all look the same;” the sentiment is unmistakable in American history.

In your mind, where did this sentiment begin?
This sentiment is echoed by the history of Kodak films. For decades Kodak film was unable to correctly capture the skin tones of people of color because their film emulsions were formulated to render a correct Caucasian skin tone. In addition to this, Kodak would send test negatives to color processing labs along with a color correct photographic print made from the negative. Using this, photo labs were able to calibrate their machines and the chemistry used to process the film in order to obtain color correct prints from any negatives they processed.

When were you able to frame this in your own life?
I first noticed the shifting of skin tones growing up when looking through family photos but didn’t read about the technical details behind it until many years later. My first time reading about the technical issues and Shirley Cards was in maybe 2011 or 2012 when I was working at Bart’s Books. I was very interested in visual media theory at the time and a book on that subject came in which included the paper by Lorna Roth titled “Looking at Shirley, the Ultimate Norm: Color Balance, Image Technologies, and Cognitive Equity” which outlined the history of Kodak film formulations and the Shirley Card. This was a couple of years before I even applied to ArtCenter but that paper stayed in my mind as I learned more and more about photography and began other projects.

What were the the scenes in the color photographic prints?
The negative that Kodak sent included a scene containing various textiles, a color chart, and a single white female model. Nicknamed “Shirley cards” after the Kodak employee who modeled for the negative, these were used all across the country to make sure that customer’s pictures were delivered with correct color.

How would you describe the images of darker skinned subjects?
Photographs featuring darker skinned subjects were often incorrectly rendered, sometimes as a smear of black in the photo completely lacking details – recognizable only by the whites of their eyes and their teeth, if they were smiling. From a distance these portraits are also textureless in appearance. Unvaried and lacking the possibility for details; a deep black on the surface of an unchanging white ground. The work of philosopher Paul Ricœur posits that the formation of individual identity is in large part shaped by ones ability to recognize another, and to be recognized by another. It was a compounding lack of recognition, however, that led to individuals disappearing from their film images. Film manufacturers being unable or unwilling to recognize the needs of a group directly led to the inability to see the individuals pictured. With the images from this series I aim to rework that failure to compel the viewer to recognize the individual pictured. As one gets closer to the artwork, details emerge, forcing you to confront the individual before you.

When did Kodak address representation in the calibration cards?
The first multiracial Kodak calibration cards didn’t actually appear until the 1990’s.

When did you begin Against Monolith?
It was after seeing the Kerry James Marshall show at the MOCA that I began to put together the Against Monolith project. I went to that show many times and couldn’t stop thinking about how he rendered and painted all the skin tones, it was so striking. I think often the conversations around this part of Kodak’s history get stuck in circuitous arguments debating whether or not Kodak films or employees were racist and I was much more interested in using this to explore the entangled web of individuation, individual agency, and its intersection with collective agency and behavior. I wanted to use the history of film photography, as well as Kodak films and guide literature, to explore the struggle of maintaining individuality in a much larger social structure. Because one form of recognition is intimately linked with individuation and another form of recognition is intimately linked with photography and visual representation it seemed to be an effective way to examine both.

This Week in Photography: The 2nd Annual Advice Column

 

I’ve never swung an axe in my life.

(Before today, that is.)

 

 

I suspect it was connected to do the dream I had, as I woke up at 3 am.

I was driving up a steep hill in my old neighborhood, where I grew up in New Jersey, and just as I was about to make a left turn, towards my old street, Shadow Ridge Court, I noticed an impediment.

Right there, in the middle of the road, was the biggest fallen tree I’ve ever seen.

It was massive in circumference, as big as King Kong’s middle finger, and there was simply no way around it.

Luckily for me, my childhood home, (and the cul-de-sac on which it was located,) was accessed from Galloping Hill Circle, which was appropriately named, so I was able to turn right, and go the long way home instead. (Ending up at the same point, but avoiding the road-block.)

 

The tree was right there, blocking my path.

 

I woke up in the morning, (after having fallen back asleep,) certain of what the dream meant: I needed to help my wife circumvent an energy blockage impeding her happiness.

For once, I’ll keep the details to myself, but she had the same feeling when she arose as well, so I was sure the dream was prophetic.

 

 

I’ve been doing a lot of life re-evaluation in the last few weeks, as the world has begun to open, and I suspect you have too.

How could we not?

(And I wrote this just a few hours before the CDC said it was time to ditch our masks.)

Everything we knew about reality was interrupted for 14 months, and we were powerless to do anything but stay home, if we had the luxury.

I’ve found that in May of #2021, I’m a very different person than I was in March of #2020, as are my wife and children.

We’ve changed in profound ways, and it’s impacting our relationships and decision-making, in cool and powerful directions. (I’ve even begun dispensing random advice in Facebook posts, because I want to share some of the things I’ve been learning through this mind-altering-experience.)

Recognizing a blockage, and either removing it, or going around it, is a difficult life-skill, but I believe it can be learned, if we’re aware of our emotional reality, and what’s causing our underlying feelings.

 

 

For example.

I’ve loved watching sports my entire life.

It was the one way I could communicate with my father and brother, as we didn’t have much to talk about, beyond baseball, football, and basketball.

I cannot even begin to estimate how many hours I’ve watched games on television, and in the last ten years, I’ve spent a fair amount of money for all the channels on satellite TV, and then for special streaming services.

All that time.
All that money.

This year, just in the last few months, I’ve lost the taste for it.

The joy is gone.

Ironically, my favorite basketball team, the former-New-Jersey-and-current-Brooklyn Nets, are the new powerhouse in the NBA, as they have three of the top 15 players in the world.

The Nets are likely to win an NBA Championship in the next few years, (if not this July,) yet I’m jumping off the bandwagon, instead of on.

What gives?

Well, the team radically re-invented itself, and invested heavily in some head-case-talent, while clearing its roster several times over, and treating the entire enterprise like a corporate re-brand.

Old-fashioned concepts such as loyalty, leadership, continuity, and respect for the fans, have all gone out the window, for specific reasons I don’t have time to enumerate.

But I’ve taken no pleasure from the Nets’ ascent, so after a bit of griping, I just stop watching.

Similarly, my favorite English soccer team, Arsenal, is run by an American Oligarch, who married Walmart money, and he’s basically run the club into the ground, slowly and steadily, since I became “addicted” to the team ten years ago.

 

Stan and Josh Kroenke, Arsenal’s owners

 

So again, I exercised the only power I have, and turned off the TV.

Stress relieved, problem solved.

At the moment, I despise the system that is delivering sports to me, as it is filled with the type of greed and inequity that I wouldn’t stomach in my real life.

So why would I want to pay to feel shitty with my “entertainment?”

 

 

Last year, a week or two after the Covid-19 lockdown began in earnest here in the US, I wrote an advice column for you.

It had nothing directly to do with photography.

I suggested things would get hairy, and even entering into other peoples’ physical space, their 6 foot window of safety, would likely lead to drama, and perhaps violence.

We all know that prediction came true.

My article, or the points within it, was featured by Michael Abatemarco, in the Santa Fe New Mexican, because that type of direct, let’s-talk-about-what’s-happening rhetoric felt of the moment.

 

Excerpt courtesy of the Santa Fe New Mexican

Today, I decided that America’s re-opening, and how we deal with it, was worthy of an Advice Column Part 2.

So here we are.

 

 

Next week, I’m going home to New Jersey, to my hometown, to visit with my family and high school friends.

It will be the first airline trip I’ve taken in nearly 15 months, and the first travel I’ve done since returning from Houston on the eve of the lockdown in March #2020.

I’m scared and nervous, but also excited and thrilled.

My wife and kids gave me permission to go anywhere, really, as a thanks for how I’ve been a support to them through this trying time, and I wanted to go home.

To see my people.
To eat my favorite pizza.

And visit the sea.

I’m going to write about it for you as a travel piece, and will share how it feels to get so far out of my comfort zone, all so that I can return to the place that made me.

As a new man.

 

 

Which brings us back to the beginning.

Why did I swing an axe today?

What was it all about?

Well, we had an aspen tree stump, and a dead aspen tree, clogging up our front garden.

They were eyesores, abutting our big red fence, and every time we sat outside, or came in from the driveway, they were a symbol of death and decay.

 

The stump
The dead tree

 

All around them, new aspen shoots were coming up, ready to take their place.

Life was trying to start anew, to begin fresh, but the deadwood, (a term they use in English soccer,) was blocking the growth.

And reminding us, visually, of what had come before.

Of what what we had lost.

So today, after having that dream about a fallen tree, and telling my wife I was willing to make some sacrifices to help unblock her Qi, I headed over to my in-laws, looking for a hatchet.

But there was no hatchet.

Only an axe.

 

The axe and the saw

 

Turns out, chopping down trees, and taking out stumps, is hard work.

 

Getting psyched up to swing the axe
Making friends with the tool

 

(Harder than I expected, anyway.)

And it requires a lot of concentration, to ensure the axe doesn’t rebound back and cut off your toes.

I had to shoo the dog away, so she didn’t get hurt, and then use a saw to finish the job.

It was gratifying, and the yard looks much better. (My wife said so, and she knows what’s up.)

In the end, though, as I tried to remove one last little stump, I found the axe and the saw wouldn’t work.

I tried, and tried, but to no avail.

I used my Kung Fu grip, (shout out to Eddie Murphy,) and still, no dice.

Effort upon effort, but no success.

This one little root just wouldn’t let go.

Then I had a new idea.
What about the clippers?

I climbed down the sloping rock wall, grabbed a new tool, and the tree stump came up in no time.

It was instantaneous, really.

 

Sweaty and sore when the job was done

 

So yes, I’m leaning into metaphor today, and if you came looking for a photo book review, I apologize for the disappointment.

But the world is so different from how it used to be, and you’re different too.

We all are.

My best advice is to embrace the change, think carefully about your world, and what you want it to be.

And when you hit a roadblock, go around it, or move it out of the way, gracefully and efficiently.

If you need the clippers, instead of the axe, no worries.

Just grab the tool that’s right for the job.

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Tony Novak-Clifford

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:  Tony Novak –Clifford

Rising Tides: A Photographic Rediscovery of the Tidewater Region of the Chesapeake Bay

My earliest, fondest childhood memories are of water. Lakes, ponds, great marshes, rivers and the Atlantic Ocean were my playgrounds and constant companions. It wasn’t long after I was old enough to venture out of sight on my own that I was whiling away the hours of hot, humid summer days under the shade of giant Beech trees dropping a bobber and hook, baited with bread balls, into the tea-colored water of the nearby Tony Tank Lake, angling for unfortunate crappies, sunfish and the occasional mud turtle.

In the warm summer months, I mowed lawns to make a little money. With that money, one of the first major purchases I ever made was an aluminum, flat-bottomed “john” boat. A neighbor donated an old two horsepower outboard motor to the cause. Suddenly I found a freedom I have never before known. The river became my highway to adventure, exploring its many creeks and tributaries searching for ducks, turtles, eagles and osprey, muskrats and the occasional elusive river otter.  As we grew older and our boats and motors became larger, we spent entire days water-skiing and venturing further up river to it’s source… the Chesapeake Bay.

In the evenings, we caught fireflies or, as the locals call them, “Lightnin’ Bugs” in the slow, lazy dialect of the region. We rode our bicycles or kicked soccer balls around in the darkness, illuminated only by the warm pool of light provided by the street light at the end of the cul-de-sac.

The Atlantic Ocean and the beaches of Ocean City, Maryland were half an hour’s drive away. As a child, my parents would pack picnic lunches, pile towels, coolers and umbrellas into our station wagon. A giddy sense of excitement rose amongst myself and my brother and sisters as we would cross the bridge over Assawoman Bay and enter the resort town. Here we would while away the day building sand castles or burying each other in the fine, white sand, digging for sand crabs, splashing and body-surfing in the gentle waves. Occasionally, my parents would reward us with an early evening trip to Ocean City’s famous boardwalk where the flashing lights of game arcades, carnival rides and ice cream, caramel popcorn and buckets of steaming french fries drowned in salt and vinegar would delight us to the point of exhaustion.

Life as a child in Maryland’s tidewater region was as idyllic as any Mark Twain novel.  There were great forests of pine and hardwood to explore. There was an abundance of wildlife… from almost every manner of waterfowl to reptiles, amphibians, agile deer, soaring eagles, raccoons, opossum, squirrels & fish. We feasted on the meaty blue crabs, oysters, clams and rockfish of the region. Wild game in the forms of duck, geese and venison, often gifted to my father by patients who worked the fields and waterways for a living, would often find it’s way to our table. We picked wild blackberries from their thorny stems and wild chestnuts from the tree at the end of the road. Fields of watermelon, corn and soybeans stretched out to touch the horizon.

As a child, it was easy to dismiss life in the tidal region as boring and unsophisticated. During my time there, it was all I knew. It has only been during the past several years that I have bothered to return to the Chesapeake’s Tidewater region with fresh eyes and a new appreciation for the simple lifestyle, folksy charm, historic relevance and southern hospitality and friendliness. With family still residing in the area, I have been returning annually and even several times a year to spend time and reknit those bonds. There are times when I think I could return here to live.

Life is simpler here.

The photographs contained in the collection are wistful snapshots of my rediscovered romance for this land of water. My longing for it ebbs and flows like the tides. These are glimpses of the life I once lived, perhaps still live, or at the very least, a life I still carry with me no matter where I find myself.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

Contact him here

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.

 

Pricing & Negotiating: Lifestyle Photo/Video Shoot For A Hospitality Brand

By  Bryan Sheffield, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Environmental Lifestyle & Architecture images featuring hired talent using client space(s)

Licensing: Unlimited use, excluding broadcast, of all images captured for three years from first use

Photographer: Lifestyle & Architecture specialist

Client: Mid-sized Regional Hospitality Brand

Here’s the initial estimate:

 

 

Fees: The agency contacted the photographer to put together an estimate for a three-day shoot featuring talent interacting at the client’s property to showcase the location’s uniqueness, amenities, and aesthetics. The agency provided us preliminary scouting images and a creative brief and wanted to see an estimate for both stills and video, as well as robust production to include talent and styling.

Deliverables initially included up to 20 final still images and a two-minute video edit. The client had requested unlimited use excluding broadcast. We priced each image around $500, plus $8,000 for a director fee and video usage, based on the client’s intended use of the content — primarily on client web and social media platforms — and possible regional advertising. While we would’ve liked the fees to be higher, the client didn’t have a media buy plan and we got some pushback from the agency on higher creative/licensing fee rates within their budget guidelines.

Crew: Given the nature of the project, I included a producer as well as a production coordinator to help schedule the days and hire/manage the rest of the crew and styling team. We added a skilled camera operator/Director of Photography along with a first assistant for stills, a gaffer for the motion team, and a second assistant to swing. Both the DP and first assistant would accompany the photographer on the tech/scout to help inform the lighting and equipment needs within each location. We added a digital tech/media manager to handle the files on set. These rates were appropriate for the given market; the digital tech’s day rate included a $700 fee plus an additional $650/day for their workstation.

Equipment: We included $7,500 for cameras/grip/lighting, $700 for hard drives, and a modest fee to cover production needs like tables, chairs, steamer, wardrobe racks, etc.

Casting & Talent: We included $2,000+20% per talent for up to 15 people to be used over the three shoot days. We also added a $2,400 casting fee for the director and producer to take on the casting, which was to be a mix of friends/family and professional talent.

Styling: We included a hair/makeup stylist plus an assistant, a wardrobe stylist plus an assistant, a prop stylist (who would also attend the scout) plus an assistant, and appropriate wardrobe costs based on the talent, scenes, and creative direction with a TBD caveat pending final creative plans.

Meals: We estimated $5,610 for catering and craft services based on $85 per person, per day.

COVID Safety: We included three days for a COVID compliance officer, plus a PPE budget advised by the CCO. Our CCO would arrive each shoot day with a screening questionnaire, check everyone’s temperature each morning, and monitor the set throughout the day with cleaning and guidance for craft services and meal breaks. We would have all crew/talent/agency PCR Covid tested before the shoot days and included $130/test x 27 anticipated people as the cost for doing this.

Misc.: We included insurance costs for the director to cover their premium — pending any additional client insurance requirements — as well as a line item to help offset parking, possible additional meals/craft, and any other small needs that would arise during the week.

Post Production: We included $1,000 for the photographer to perform a basic cull, curves/color correction, and provide a gallery of their selects. Simple retouching for up to 20 images was estimated at one hour per image, with a TBD as a caveat, to be based on final agency creative notes. The photographer would be doing all retouching at a $125/hr. rate. Video editing was estimated at $3,500, with a “TBD” added that this would be pending final client/agency creative notes and revisions.

Feedback & Revisions: As we’ve seen more and more lately, when the initial RFP (request for proposal) came to us, the agency had not yet sold the project to the client. This estimate was being used alongside the agency creative to have the client sign off on the project. This isn’t ideal, as we’ve seen photographers jump through hoops just for a project to never get off the ground. With that said, as the client conversations continued, there were quite a few adjustments to the creative plans and costs and, as a result, our estimate was revised a number of times over several months.

As the shot list grew, the on-set days increased to four and the talent needs expanded to hired professionals — though a decreased quantity. With a casting agent present, we added additional crew to our motion team, a drone operator for two days, and a props/set decorating team to help style the location. The post-production fees expanded to cover the additional images, video editing time, and an agency request for a colorist and audio licensing to be added.

While the shoot would be rather straightforward, the ten-hour shoot days would be stuffed and required a competent team with a concise plan. As stated previously, there was some pushback on our initial creative/licensing fee, but we landed not too far off and felt that a creative/licensing fee of $22,000 was fair. We previously had a fee for the director to attend a tech/scout day on the location, but with the increased SOW (statement of work), I added an additional $1,100/day fee for a few days of pre-production needs.

Our updated estimate still had the same tenets as the original, but the new needs increased the budget by more than $50,000 to the subsequent estimate below:

 

 

Results: The photographer was awarded the assignment, and the shoot is currently in post-production. It was a very successful project and the client and agency are very happy with the work created!

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

The Daily Edit – Frank Ockenfels 3


Variety

Creative Director: Raul Aguila
Photo Director: Jennifer Dorn
Photographer: Frank Ockenfels 3

Heidi: Where were both of these subjects located, did you have to go travel to them each time?
Frank: Lin was in NYC and Jon was in LA so I did the photoshoot before and after their interview on zoom. Jon was first and I created a light set up to matched the plates I shot weeks ago in NYC. While the interview was going on I worked with the videographer in NYC, setting the lights in a studio so I could repeat the same lighting with Lin.

How did the idea come about, aside from necessity?
When I was approached about the cover, I was heading to NYC for a job. Since Lin wasn’t available to shoot while I was there, I suggested that I shoot plates up and around Washington heights in a David Hockney style. The request from Jennifer and Raul was to come up with a collage idea that brought them together even though the weren’t.

What motion camera/lens were you using for the motion?
The videographers both use the Canon C200s. The higher quality the capture the better the image. Over Zoom I worked with them setting the lights, then directed both the videographers and subject.

Did you do anything special for shooting off the screen?
My digital tech, Chris Nichols and I tried many different cameras, lenses, monitors, and exposures to come up with the recipe that works. Along the way each failure created interesting outcomes and unusual abstract captures. If I just tell you you’ll miss out on the fun of the creative journey.

Was it an impossible edit?
It’s interesting when capturing images off motion because you can rewind to catch certain subtle things … if they weren’t moving too fast. It’s  interesting to see that moment before they look in the camera, moments that are less guarded or over thought.

What were you looking for in each of the stills for the final select?
I wanted to feel like I’d walked up and found them in conversation.

Was this more intimate?
I have done different approaches to this and it was most intimate when I shot the Chicago 7 cover for The Hollywood Reporter. I sent each actor a light kit and diagram how to set up the lights and then worked with them setting it up and placing the camera.

What other creative solutions have you discovered during COVID?
I have been lucky enough to do several projects on location since all this started. It’s great for a few reasons. One, to see that creatives aren’t letting what’s going on stop them from trying to push on with great key art concepts. Two, the trust they have in me because they cannot be present to execute on their ideas. I believe we must be open to learn new things everyday and must embrace change and the challenge of the moments we are given. This is how we grow.

 

Featured Promo – Augusta Sagnelli

Augusta Sagnelli

Who printed it?
Jukebox

Who designed it?
@minmoostudio

Tell me about the images?
Various editorial images I made between 2018 – 2020 that I feel emulate my style and brand that I want to present to clients.

How many did you make?
I printed 100 of each image.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I use them as thank you notes to clients/location/people on set/places I stay while traveling.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I want to use this model for each one being a part of a limited “set” that you can collect and once they are all gone, I will create a new set of imagery that follows its own motif.

This Week in Photography: Time to Party?

 

 

Cultures change.

 

Everything changes, as entropy is the natural state of the Universe.

 

Often, the major drivers of cultural change are technological, biological, or because of human migratory patterns.

The first is obvious, as inventions like the airplane, the automobile, and the internet radically altered the way people engage with society.

 

The second should be beyond-obvious, as the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 upended just about everything, with respect to the way life is experienced on Earth.

The last, though, is least understood, as far as when and why it happens, and is often reduced to terms like gentrification, when it’s on a small scale.

Big things like climate change, or war, can cause massive amounts of humans to move at once, as we saw in Europe a few years back, when people were fleeing places like Syria and Afghanistan, en masse.

On a micro-level, though, it’s often tied to economics, or what people perceive to be the hot, new thing.

I experienced gentrification first hand, back in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 2005, yet mostly denied the reality that I had been on the first wave of artsy-hipsters moving into an almost-entirely-Polish neighborhood in 2002.

By the time is was properly trendy, in ’05, I wanted no part of it, because if I’d planned to live around a bunch of people like me, I would have chosen Williamsburg, or the Lower East Side.

 

 

Right now, I’ve noticed the first hints of cultural change here in Taos, as we’ve seen thousands of new people move here, during the pandemic, for the wide open spaces, clean air, and relatively rich culture, for a micro-city. (Though I still insist the restaurants suck.)

I’ve had lots of discussions about this in the last few months, as we could see people had come here, with California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado license plates, altering traffic patterns, but it was hard to know for sure, as almost everyone was locked down.

And the Instagram-nature of life these days, where beauty is seen as a backdrop, with locations appreciated as something to stand in front of for a photo, plus the reality of remote work, meant that many-if-not-all of the new-comers have not assimilated into society yet.

 

 

What will that look like when they do, I’ve mused to anyone would would listen to my ranting?

Won’t the waves of Californians look around, notice Taos lacks a lot of the base-level things they’ve come to appreciate about life, and then decide to leave, or change things?

I’m no Nostradamus, but just yesterday, I saw my first evidence, as my son was invited into a free, youth basketball program, as no such thing existed.

Everywhere else, they have youth sports, but outside of soccer season, Taos was a barren desert.

Sure enough, the coach is from NorCal, and took it upon himself to start something up for the community, because he had a boy in that age-group, and there was no basketball to be had.

Things change, and sometimes for the better.

 

New York City is poised to have a party summer, so says the media, as America’s biggest megalopolis gets sweaty in the hot season, and people have been cooped up for So Damn Long.

Throw in the high rates of vaccination in the blue states, (relative to the red ones,) and it’s shaping up to be a rockin’ good time, with dancing in the streets, block parties galore, beer and weed on the stoops, and diverse people getting to talk to one another again, face to face.

But I’m guessing this will mostly happen in the outer boroughs, as who can afford to live in Manhattan anymore? (Unless the Covid-rent-drops stick around.)

 

Manhattan used to a borough in which people lived, worked, and celebrated, but over the years, it morphed into a culture for the mega-rich to keep investment homes, the worker bees to head to office towers, and the tourists to come in droves to shop.

The changes, in the form of gentrification, came when certain downtown neighborhoods turned from dangerous to chic, (like SoHo and Tribeca,) and the internet began broadcasting the NYC way of life to the rest of Earth.

So obviously it affected the city, with diners giving way to cafes, and night clubs becoming WeWork offices. (OK, so I skipped a step on that last one. But you get the point.)

Back in the day, before the advent of social media, people who wanted to know what was up had to stay up late, drink lots of alcohol, (or do some blow or X,) and then wait behind a velvet rope to get into a club, unless they were rich and/or famous.

That scent of exclusivity was intoxicating for the masses, as they really wanted to get into that room, where they could drink, dance, observe, talk, kiss, grind, look at art, revel in fashion, or perhaps embrace a persona that would be verboten back in Bay Ridge.

So much of that is gone now.

Unless…

 

Unless there were a photo book that captured the purity of that 90’s vibe: the mashup of drag queens, models, actors, wannabes, pretty people, and stylish regular folks.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could see all that, in front of our eyes, hold it in our hands, as if it were still alive today?

(You know where I’m going with this.)

There is such a book, and it arrived in my mailbox back in October, shortly before the Covid surge that killed half a million people, and rocked New York, America, and the world. (Sending lots of love to everyone in India right now.)

It’s called “In the Limelight: The Visual Ecstasy of NYC Nightlife in the 90’s,” by Steve Eichner, edited by Gabriel H. Sanchez, and published by Prestel in 2020.

Not sure why I never made the connection, when I glanced at the press release, but Steve is brothers with Billy Eichner, one of the funniest people alive, and a man whose entire existence would have been altered by the pandemic.

(I mean, have you seen “Billy on the Street,” in which he charges at strangers on the sidewalk, like a drunk bull, and screams absurdist, often genius, questions at them on camera?)

 

 

But we’re talking about Steve today, not Billy, and his book was a trip down memory lane for me, culturally, if not literally. (I did party once at Nell’s on 14th Street, in 1996, when I was working on “The Devil’s Advocate,” but it was a one-time thing.)

The photos show off the vibe, and are colorful and alive. The mise-en-scene is just right, because Steve Eichner was the house photographer for Peter Gatien’s club empire, including the Limelight, the Tunnel, Club USA and more.

Apparently, these slides sat in boxes in storage in Long Beach, Long Island, for decades, before being rescued, to give us a vision of what Party City NYC #2021 might look like, come July.

(But with different fashion, obv.)

So many bold faced names, including De Niro with Chazz Palminteri, Tupac, Madonna, RuPaul, Leo DiCaprio with Dennis Hopper, Grace Jones, Debbie Harry, Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, Chris Rock, Kris Kross, the Supermodels, Jim Jarmusch with Joe Strummer!, TLC, Don Knotts???, the Olsen Twins??????, Mickey Rourke, and more.

We get a shot of Mark Wahlberg and his “entourage,” and I swear, if you can’t tell which guy was Turtle, and which was E, you’re really not trying.

 

 

Of course, this being New York, we get a photograph of Donald Trump, with appropriate red-eye and red tie, holding his belt like the gunslinger he’d become 20 years later.

(Seriously. Fuck that guy.)

The introductions tell us that Peter Gatien got busted for tax evasion, like his Studio 54 predecessors, and was deported to Canada, his home country.

The rents got too high, the clubs closed, and that was that.

End of an era.

Like I said, cultures change, for good and for bad.

 

These days, if you want to know what a celebrity is wearing, you hit up Instagram.

 

 

If you want people to be jealous, you photograph yourself in front of a pretty, exclusive, or expensive backdrop.

(If it isn’t photographed, it didn’t happen.)

But in the 90’s, you had to be there, or you had to hope a good nightlife-photographer took your picture, and that at some point down the line, other people would see how fly you looked.

Who’s ready to party!

 

To purchase “In the Limelight” click here

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Shahzad Bhiwandiwala

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:  Shahzad Bhiwandiwala

As an Indian, I have rarely seen Indian artists tackle what if scenarios relating to Indian Art and Cultural history.  My passion for art history coupled with my creative instincts has often made me wonder about India’s approach to fashion had it been influenced by the European Renaissance as it swept across the known world at the time. This project brings these thoughts and ideas to visualization and is presented through the perspective of a single fictional royal family, The Garhwal Gharana aka The House of Garhwal spanning generations from an alternate timeline 15th Century to the 21st century.

There are two distinct fashion styles in the project:

  • The first represents portraits styled in the fashion of an alternate timeline of the 15th century, where India is in the midst of its renaissance influenced by the High Renaissance period.
  • The second details portraits styled in the fashion of an alternate timeline of the year 2020 where society has gone back to its roots of clans and kingdoms while taking fashion cues from the previously established renaissance style and adds a modern take to it.

The project is focused on fine art fashion and portraiture using opulent traditional Indian clothing with a European aesthetic and has been a collaborative result with Indian designers, jewelers and stylists such as Gaurav Gupta, Dhruv Singh, Begada, Amani, Studio Simone, Akankshaa, Outhouse Jewelry & The Costume Team having come together in providing and creating outfits and accessories towards the project.

To see more of this project, click here.

 

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

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

 

The Best Way To Register Your Copyright

by Varun Ragupathi, Wonderful Machine

Yes, you own the actual copyright to your work when you create it, but you do not have the full protection of the law unless you register it. That one little [online form] from the copyright office will change your life.

This is how longtime director and photographer Michael Grecco sums up the process that ensures your photographs are protected. The first step is, of course, creating the imagery itself. But what’s also important is registering that work with the U.S. government’s copyright office to prevent outside parties from unjustly using your imagery. Your ability to defend yourself against an infringement depends on your timely registration of your copyright. Most photographers don’t realize that while they own the copyright to their photos the instant they’re made, it’s only by registering the copyright that they’re truly protected from infringement.

As with just about anything related to our government, the process by which you register your copyright is, to use Michael’s words, “deceptively complicated.” Across three detailed videos, Michael breaks down and simplifies the step-by-step guide to protecting your work, covering the “why” as well as the “how” regarding this vital action. Let’s take some time to highlight the key points of each video, all of which can be found below.

PART ONE: BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION

As a primer of sorts for this rather involved topic, Michael takes the time to explain the definition and importance of copyright registration. Here are some of the big takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Why the difference between having and not having your work copyrighted could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
  • Why you can earn up to $150,000 — plus legal fees — per image if you register your copyright before someone tries to steal it.
  • Why published and unpublished work needs to be registered separately and differently — and why every image registered at one time needs to come from the same year.
  • The number of images you can copyright per registration, and how much time you have between publication and registration to receive full protection for your published work.
  • How to determine if your work can be considered “published.”

PART TWO: REGISTERING YOUR UNPUBLISHED WORK ONLINE

In the second of his three videos, Michael sits down and goes through the actual process of registering your property on the U.S. Copyright Office’s website. This is where we get into the nitty-gritty of ensuring your work is protected by the law. The biggest thing to note here, other than how to navigate the online form, is that organized archiving is key. Make sure that all your files are grouped logically and labelled consistently — after all, you may very well be uploading hundreds of images at once, so it’s imperative you know where they are and why they go together.

PART THREE: REGISTERING YOUR PUBLISHED WORK ONLINE

While the process for registering your published work is quite similar to what you’d do for unpublished imagery, there are a few extra steps you need to take. Whereas unpublished work can be dated by the time it was created, published images must be labeled by when they were, well, published. If you did a shoot for a magazine in, say, July of 2019 but the issue featuring your work didn’t run until October 2019, you need to date your images with the latter month and year (the day of publication is irrelevant). Take a look at the video above to see the other differences between registering unpublished and published work; Michael’s also got some tips on how to best keep track of the images you upload to the copyright office’s website.

And that about covers one of the most important and necessary aspects of protecting your intellectual property. You busted your butt to not only create images, but also to earn a living from them, so complete this process regularly to ensure you get fully compensated for your work. Hopefully this seemingly daunting task becomes a little less scary once you hear from Michael!

For more information on the subject, check out Honore Brown’s how-to guide and chat with photographers on the subject.

Need help registering your copyright? Send Wonderful Machine an email with any questions or concerns!

The Daily Edit – Jason Thompson: Patagonia Journal

Anne Gilbert Chase on her first climbing expedition in Pakistan. A country with beautiful people and big mountains.
The experience was unique for Anne Gilbert, being 1 of 2 western women on the trip in a country that, for the most part, doesn’t treat women with much respect. The climbing aspect of the expedition was frustrating with weather that didn’t play nice. 30 days were spent in base camp to attempt Pumari Chhish off of the Hispar glacier. The team never had more than 1 -2 days of good weather. Six days were needed to attempt the unclimbed Pumari Chhish East.


Patagonia Catalog

Photographer: Jason Thompson

Heidi: How has your mountain guide experience informed your work?
Jason: I spent from 2005 until 2013 working for a mountain guiding service throughout the PNW, Alaska and a bit in South America. I used this opportunity to hone my knowledge of being in the mountains as safely as possible. I know I wanted to be a photographer but I also wanted to be an asset to any creative project in the mountains. Guiding taught me more about understanding empathy and supporting others emotionally and physically. When photographing, immersing myself in other cultures, viewing my experience through my lens, I try to put myself in my subject’s shoes and try to express the emotions that they are feeling. I search for an understanding of what it might be like, to be in their shoes at that moment in time. Practicing how to ask questions to aspiring climbers, I was able to work with, allowed the climbers and me to build trust with each other in the mountain environment. I met people in a space that was, most of the time, completely foreign and new to them while trying to provide an exceptional experience in the mountains. I could empathize with them when climbing North America’s highest mountain, Denali, 20,320ft. It is physically and mentally challenging. Teamwork and grit can achieve big goals. Risk/hazard assessment is an essential component of guiding. Some percentage of my work is performed in venues with hazards, avalanches, seracs, weather, etc My brain is on overdrive assessing factors of the hazards that I and along with the people I am working with exposing ourselves too. Mountains are not an inherently safe and tranquil space. I think there is this misnomer in American society that wilderness, mountains are this calming grounding space though they certainly can be, they are also savage and have the potential to cause emotional pain to us.

Guiding requires constant assessment, calculations, risk vs reward. Has your photo decision-making become more refined with this deliberate practice?
Yes, completely. First, I choose to accept the risk associated with making a shot, or not. In skiing, I might have a frame idea/angle that would put me in an exposed situation, i.e. on a slope steep enough to avalanche at the same time as the skier. Climbing is a little different, I feel like I have a more significant margin of safety using ropes and other technical gear. But there are still many hazards packed into alpine climbing in the mountains.  But anticipation, and an understanding of how the climber or skier will move in the terrain, helps me to compose something that meets the requirements of being safe and making a compelling creative visual. I find satisfaction in being able to anticipate when that next “moment” might happen. My creative approach is much more documentary or photojournalistic in style, and I think that is what I strive for in my work. At the same time, checking all the boxes of creativity, composition, anticipation, right moment, and safety of all involved.

Is your enjoyment of nature ever in conflict with enjoyment of making images?
No. There is not a right and wrong way to experience nature so long as we respect the land. My connection with nature is with my camera – it always has been since I was a young person tromping around in Olympic National Park. I found beauty in capturing the light as it changed, intricate details on fern leaves, nasty weather, and other people’s physical and emotional experiences in that space. This connection to nature helped ground me and teach me humility as a young person because I realized the power of mountains. Like earlier, when I talked about experiencing cultures and newness that I am not familiar with, through my lens and how intensely engaged I am, it is the same when in nature for me. I am drawn in, more profoundly, by the experience of looking through my lens.

How do you process not making a summit?
The self-talk usually starts with disappointment, then acceptance, then asking what I learned, identifying progress points to be implemented next time. Obviously, we all want to summit and achieve our goals, but in moments of struggle, we learn, grow, and creativity can flourish. A quote I once heard and have forgotten who said it went:  “The summit is for the ego but the journey is for the soul.” I’d share this with the climbers I worked with when I was guiding and it still rings true for me. Time on the summit is probably less than 1% of any trip.

Do you feel like you still succeeded?
Yes, because as long as I am with good people and present in the experience, coming out of the mountains safe, as better partners while honing my craft is a positive experience to me. At the end of the day, if a summit happened or didn’t happen that is the story, that is what I document, the moments that did happen.

How did this trip advance your growth as a photographer?
In two ways.

The first was realizing how stressed I felt during the trip not having shot any climbing. The weather was just not working with us and we never had a weather window to confidently commit to starting up the wall. But I think I grew into the belief that I am there to document, as creatively as I can, the moments that were happening. Not the ones in the future that I couldn’t control. It’s tough though, right? Knowing I am there in part to make visuals of products with specific climbing intended use and not having a chance to do that was tough. I think that is disappointing from a creative standpoint similar to the climber perspective of not having a chance to summit or even try to climb! But I think this trip helped me let go and realize it’s ok and that I document the moments that do happen. That is how it is.

Secondly, I’d been feeling really restless with my growth as a photographer leading up to my time in Pakistan. I think, mostly, because I didn’t have a personal project going and hadn’t for a while. I was too focused and maxed out on hustling for enough gigs to pay the bills (reality!). My Dad had instilled in me a love for growing fresh vegetables. Maybe a year before this trip to Pakistan I started getting interested in researching, networking, and learning about holistic agriculture practices, organic regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and Indigenous agriculture beliefs, etc. I was fascinated by what I was learning. Looking back, the Pakistan trip was a marker for me to branch out and try to shoot something that would push me as a photographer. I think I needed a subject to shoot that would provide me with a different sense of purpose in using my camera.

What are you working on now?
Kind of a lot. I feel like I’ve had the gas pedal pinned for a bit now. As I mentioned, my Dad instilled in me a love for healthy food and gardening. About 3ish years ago, I became curious about holistic agriculture practices, permaculture, regenerative agriculture, growing healthy soils and producing healthy foods. So I started to research these topics, and I got excited about storytelling around it. It felt like I had discovered a way that my camera could make a positive impact in society. Researching and networking and getting to know who has a story to share has been productive. This topic is so out of my scope of everyday work, but something I love about photography are the many different ideas and people my camera has exposed me to. Currently, Emily Stifler Wolfe and I have received a grant. We are actively looking for additional funding for a three-piece story in collaboration with Montana Free Press about how regenerative agriculture is transforming the economics of rural Montana communities. I am a firm believer that healthy communities have healthy food access. Storytelling in this vein excites me because of the impact my images could have on the health of the land and other human’s physical and mental health.

I also have nearly completed a 12 month UX/UI program. This is something I fell into with the arrival of Covid-19. I decided my skill set needed to diversify. I see this space of UX and holistic agriculture practices merging with storytelling of growing healthy soils, and healthy communities. Some percentage of my work needs to have a purpose and a positive impact. The UX program has been a good challenge in learning again! Learning about human behavior and how crazy we all are is really fascinating! What excites me about adding a UX design skill set is the chance to use a design thinking approach to solving problems with the human at the core. I believe storytelling and creating a narrative is an integral part between us that produces a conversation to develop solutions to problems. Literally designing applications to make people and our land healthier through storytelling is really appealing to me. We’ll see how everything shakes out but I am looking forward to seeing where UX design, storytelling, and agriculture intersect. Of course, I plan to continue shooting projects that are focused on climbing and skiing in remote regions of our home planet.

This Week in Photography: Returning to Normal?

 

 

Transitions are difficult.

 

The time in between what was, and what’s coming.

People crave a sense of security, and fear the unknown, so when things are uncertain, it leaves a resonance in the air.

(Which might explain the timing of the January 6th insurrection.)

But I’m not writing about politics today.

I promise.

Rather, this week marked the beginning of whatever comes next, in my life here in New Mexico, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

 

 

It began on Saturday when The Paseo Project, which hosts a massive outdoor installation and projection festival in the fall, (which was cancelled in #2020,) partnered with the Taos Spring Arts Festival, and put on a mini-shin-dig on the plaza in Taos.

 

Courtesy of The Paseo Project’s website

 

Jessie and I took the kids and the dog, to go out in public for the first time in 14 months.

As soon as we approached the plaza, the first group of people we saw were maskless, and the kids nearly freaked out, as it was so strange to see and feel.

Everyone else we encountered that night wore a mask, so the jarring introduction didn’t represent the will of the crowd, but by the middle of this week, the CDC was saying that behavior was OK now.

While The Paseo is known for bringing “edgy” art to Taos, this event featured projections of the type of antiquated paintings of Cowboys and Native Americans for which we’ve been known for more than a century.

Does projecting an image of a painting of a serious-looking Native American warrior, on the side of a building in public, make it “edgier” than showing the canvas on a white wall?

For that night, anyway, I didn’t feel like an art critic, and was just glad to see other humans out on the streets, without the air of fear that pervaded so much of Earth since March #2020.

 

 

Yesterday, things really got wild, as I headed to Santa Fe for my first official day on the town in seven months, but even in the fall, I was smash and grabbing, getting in and out of the city as fast as a jewelry-store robber on a motorbike.

This was different.

I had a coffee set up with a NM public art official, who’s also a friend, and then a visit to the New Mexico Museum of Art, where another friend, Kate Ware, had curated an exhibition called “Breath Taking.”

Then I was meant to grab a sandwich and walk around the city with yet another friend, and if you think I’m overusing the word friend, it’s simply because I haven’t seen any friends IRL in so long, I almost forgot what the word meant.

 

 

My plans for outdoor dining were dashed, as it was one of the few rainy days of the year, and wouldn’t you know it, but my windshield wipers were in need of replacing, and one popped off as I entered the city limits.

With rain pelting my car, I drove slowly, and then an undercover cop pulled out directly in front of me, with no room to spare as he exited a gas station, on a slick, dangerous road, and he came so close to causing an accident I nearly peed my pants.

How is it that no sooner do I get to write a travel article for you, shit starts going sideways?

Cops!

What he hell was that guy thinking!

 

 

As I parked my car, ready for my first public meet-up in more than a year, I had to go back to the vehicle three times, before I was settled.

At first, I forgot my mask, then my umbrella, and finally my hand sanitizer.

(To go from global traveler to absent-minded-rube-from-the-sticks in a year was quite the transition.)

My friend and I had both been vaccinated, and sat outside despite the rain, but that first moment, when I took the mask off in public, was so strange.

It’s hard to put into words.

It was like staring at the sun, daring it to blind me, but feeling emboldened to risk it all, out of misplaced bravery.

And then, after five minutes, talking to another person, over a coffee in public, began to seem normal again.

(Though I kind of wish the waitress had brought me the coffee I’d asked for. I was too gun-shy to send it back, as who wants to be an asshole these days?)

 

 

From there, I drove to my favorite public parking lot, determined to get free parking rather than pay tourist prices, and headed across downtown Santa Fe to the New Mexico Museum of Art.

I knew the CDC’s declaration by that point, but kept my mask half around my face, and pulled it up anytime I got within 20 feet of another human.

(Old habits are hard to break.)

Right away, I saw so much bad “Santa Fe Tourist” art, including a painting of polar bears, and a sculpture of a mountain lion.

Who buys that crap?

 

 

The museum was another story, though.

By the end of #2019, I wasn’t even going to museums when I visited cities, because I was so over the experience.

I did it in Amsterdam and Houston, in early #2020, but only to write about it for you.

At that point, I didn’t even feel like the art was entering my brain so much. It was more about what I could share. (I was the conduit for you, the audience.)

Not yesterday.

The first exhibition, by the early 20th C painter Will Shuster, was beautiful, and I returned to the paintings again and again.

Sure, I dodged people, and stayed out of their space, but now-vaccinated, I didn’t operate out of fear, but rather respect.

And looking at the paintings, which captured Native American and Spanish Colonial rituals, felt like drinking an ice cold glass of water on a boiling summer day.

 

 

Refreshing, but also life-affirming.

It wasn’t until later, when I saw Will Shuster’s murals in the courtyard, (which I’d never noticed before,) that I realized the early 20th C Tradition of white men painting and glorifying Native Americans, for profit, would be so frowned upon in #2021.

 

 

And then in the alcove, there was a set of photographs by a contemporary Native American photographer, Cara Romero, that emphasized the point.

Most of the images were good, but one, in which a seemingly-topless model aggressively challenged the camera, while sitting on a desert dune, with her hair covering her breasts, felt like the perfect statement for #2021. (Though it was made in 2017, in the Trump Era.)

Right away, I began asking questions.

Is it OK to stare at this image? Does the artist want me to, or does she want me to feel shame?

It’s not appropriate to objectify the subject, but that’s what’s in the photo, and the photo is on the wall.

Do I look, because she’s beautiful, and it’s an excellent piece of art, or do I not look, as a way of honoring the message of the image?

How’s that for a head-trip?

 

 

 

“Breath Taking” was in the contemporary gallery, down a ramp, and I know that space has not typically been reserved for photography exhibitions.

 

 

But the NM Museum of Art has a new director, Mark A. White, who replaced a long-time director early in the pandemic, so I’m guessing things are different now.

Frankly, after I saw the show, I KNOW they’re different, because while many of the exhibitions I’ve seen Kate Ware curate over the years were made up of framed photographs on the wall, taken from the permanent collection, this was anything but that.

There were videos, drawings, sculptures, installations, pottery, and a theme that was conceived before the pandemic, but heavily altered before the museum re-opened.

(Unlike some states, NM closed its public museums for almost all of the last year. And much of the art was clearly borrowed, opening up a far larger prospective pool of options.)

The watercolor paintings of covid particles, by David S Goodsell, were gorgeous and repulsive, the documentary photos of George Floyd protests, by Tony Mobley, were smart additions, and Cynthia Greig’s grid of images of people’s literal breath, captured on a scanner bed, were lovely too.

 

 

 

Linda Alterwitz had photographs that were made by placing cameras on subjects chests, and recording long-exposures of the night sky, while the people laid on their backs and breathed.

 

 

Poetry as text on the wall, charcoal drawings recording breathing patterns, and documentary photos of typical New Mexicans, but wearing masks.

 

By Don J Usner

 

The interplay between the different art styles, and the more spiritual, political, and topical readings of breathing, was just so good.

It may be the best themed exhibition I’ve ever seen in New Mexico.

And I savored the experience like never before.

Leaving the gallery, I even noticed that the wall text lit up and darkened, in a pattern, like inhalation and exhalation.

Wow.
Brilliant.

 

 

 

I left the museum to meet my friend at a nearby sandwich shop, and though I was wearing a rain coat, I also raised my umbrella for the first time in years.

The light was transitional, dark and luminous simultaneously, and after thirty seconds, I looked up, and saw a lighting strike that cut through the entire, enormous sky.

Wait for it, I thought.

Then…. BOOM!!!!!!!!!!!

The entire city shook with the loudest thunder crack I’ve ever heard, and I don’t think I’ve moved so fast in my life.

I closed that umbrella at hyper-speed, as the last thing I needed was to survive a pandemic, only to be struck by lighting on my first day out of my house.

(As things come in threes, so they say, this morning, my car was almost crushed by a cement truck, on the way to drop the kids at school, so I’ve had enough of near death experiences, thanks.)

The rain meant no walking around the city with a meatball parmesan sub, so my friend and I went to a restaurant in the Railyard called Opuntia.

 

 

Indoor dining?

Part of me equates that with a death sentence, but I realized at some point, I’d have to trust my vaccine, and the world would attempt to normalize.

My friend chose well, as the ceilings sloped to 18 feet high, and the tables were very well spread out.

(It was clear the owners had considered peoples’ post-covid fears, and acted accordingly.)

There was an indoor koi pond, because it’s Santa Fe, and a photo exhibition by local artist Kate Russell, featuring low-riders because it’s New Mexico.

 

 

I had a green-chile-bison-cheeseburger and fries, because again, it’s New Mexico, and once the food came, we dropped our masks, talked for an hour or so, and things almost felt like they used to.

Almost.

The Art of the Personal Project: Clemens Ascher

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:  Clemens  Ascher

In my series “OF DRILL AND CEREMONY”
I’m showing scenes from a fictional military boot camp in a fictional country ruled by a fictional regime.
Like always in my works any resemblance to “reality” is entirely coincidental.

To see more of this project, click here.

 

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

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

 

The Daily Edit – Lisa Thackaberry: Art Center

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Lisa Thackaberry

Heidi: How long have you been teaching editorial photography at Art Center?
LIsa: Close to 9 years

What is the main goal of this class?
I use magazines, which are a highly evolved communication format, to help students understand their own work and the content needs of their future clients – art directors, photo editors, art buyers etc.  By asking them to pitch an idea and then shoot, edit, sequence and design a feature editorial layout they can see the kinds of images they need to execute a compelling story with dynamic flow from the perspective of an art director/graphic designer.

How does the headline and text get created?
I also ask them to use words in the form of headlines, sub-heads and pull quotes to give further meaning or transformation to the images they create.  We also look at American magazines of the 20th century to provide historical context and contemporary international magazines to see the current explosion of creativity and changing economic basis of editorial print.

What are you observations?
The subscription/ad sales model is declining and being replaced by magazines as an extension of brand representation or passion projects by creative people drawn to the tactile expression that print magazines offer.

What have the students taught you this semester?
How kind and patient they are with adapting to online learning.  I love seeing how supportive they are of each other and inspired by their intelligence, talent and thoughtfulness. I miss us sharing our final projects on paper.

 

 

This Week in Photography Books: Everyone Loves Redwoods

 

“The scarred redwoods are emblems of both natural glory and entitled consumption. They represent the dual nature of the American dream.” (A quote from today’s book.)

 

I’m cooked.

Running on fumes.
Ready for week-long nap.

(Can you imagine, going to sleep for years, like Rip Van Winkle, and waking up to whatever comes next?)

 

Rip Van Winkle

 

President Biden is trying to marshal the nation’s resources to battle climate change, and I hope he’s successful.

Wouldn’t that be great?

But as a guy who titled his book “Extinction Party,” and began warning of the ravages of overconsumption back in 2008, I’m not exactly optimistic.

 

Why am I so tired?

Well, for the last three weeks, I’ve found myself enmeshed in a net, constantly working to re-establish ground rules and boundaries in relationships that were sapping my juice.

It’s easy to go with the status quo, even when things aren’t working, because inertia is a powerful force, and so many people fear change.

(Just so we’re clear, this is not a post about my marriage. Jessie and I are good.)

 

Re-writing rules, and re-setting expectations with others, is exhausting. But it’s the kind of work that pays dividends long into the future, if you’re willing to invest in your sanity.

Right now, we’re just 3 months removed from what was a 4-year-national-nightmare for 80 million people, and the pandemic, which capped off the Trump era, is still going strong.

But after last week’s mega-column, and the column before that, in which I spent a weekend getting updates from my secret-Argentinean source, this week, I wanted to give you a short one.

(Let’s keep it brief, shall we?)

 

Thankfully, I reached to the bottom of my book-stack, and pulled out something from May of 2020. (Thought I’d gotten to the oldest submissions already, but this one eluded my notice.)

Inside, I found one book by Kirk Crippens that I’d already reviewed, having requested it from the press agent, (Sorry, Kirk,) and another book, by Kirk and Gretchen LeMaistre, which was just what the doctor ordered today.

Quick heads up: it’s not a happy book.

Beautiful, yes. Important, sure. But nothing cheery, I’m afraid.

“Live Burls,” was published by Schilt in Amersterdam, back in 2017. Given how long it takes to make a book, this series was likely begun in 2015 or ’16, (I’m guessing,) at the onset of the Trump years.

And it is a masterclass in symbolizing the worst of humanity, in the cleanest of terms.

 

Redwood trees are beautiful, majestic, magical, historical… (insert positive adjective here.)

Like baby humans, or puppy dogs, Redwood trees are creatures that everyone loves.

And yet.

The artists learned of a situation in which poachers invaded a public park-space, and hacked off burls from the Redwoods, which just happen to be the part of the trees responsible for reproduction.

Acccording to the short, but informative text at the beginning of the book, Redwood burls enable the trees to regenerate over thousands of years, and might even allow for a genetic chain going back hundreds of millions of years.

So to think that some our fellow Americans would act like psychopathic Rhino poachers, and attack nature so blatantly, while stealing from the rest of us, (and from Planet Earth,) is mind-boggling to me.

These have to be some of THE WORST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD, and I applaud the artists for recording the damage for posterity.

The photos are direct, and blunt, having been well-scanned from gelatin silver prints made from 8×10 negatives.

I applaud the choice of the green cover fabric, and cyan inside papers, as it gives a bit of life to a grayscale set of images, and a dour view of the world.

The book even tells us some of the poachers abandoned a 500 lb chunk of burl, because it was too big to fit in their poacher-mobile. (They’re too dumb to even rob properly.)

My only criticism, small though it may be, is that I would have elided the very short titles on the spread opposite each photo.

I found them distracting, because this book has the feeling of a visual obituary, (even though the trees survived,) and to me, the pure, quiet sadness needed no words.

Anyway, I promised a short column, and aim to deliver.

Glad this one was sent my way, sorry it took so long to review, and hope you all have a safe and happy week, wherever you are.

To purchase a copy of “Live Burls” click here 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Fernando Decillis

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:  Fernando Decillis

The project started out as a personal project. When a close relative of mine passed away, my sisters, father, and I accompanied her husband to return her ashes to her homeland in southeast Alaska. I am Kaigani Haida and had been studying the art intensely at the time when she passed. I proposed this project to Fernando and he said something like, “if you can get the artists, you know I’ll make the pictures.” So, I started reaching out to people to see who might be interested. At that point, we were just thinking that it was going to be a portrait project and we’d make some nice pictures for the artists to have of their practice. After I had a few very well-known artists and the support of the Totem Heritage Center and Sealaska Heritage Institute, I reached out to Jeff Campagna at Smithsonian Magazine. Fernando had worked with him a couple of times before, and it seemed like a great fit. He seemed interested, and of course, it’s an organization, so there was a process. We were thrilled when they eventually said they wanted to pick up the story.

Covid-19 presented some challenges that made it impossible to see some of the artists that helped me the most on the research end. David R. Boxley and Kandi McGilton are two artists that are doing amazing work in Metlakatla. Hopefully we get to see them next time! We are really happy with how the project turned out. The captions that are included were published in the magazine, I worked closely with them to write them.

Among the indigenous nations of Southeast Alaska, there is a concept known in Haida as Íitl’ Kuníisii—a timeless call to live in a way that not only honors one’s ancestors but takes care to be responsible to future generations.

The traditional arts of the Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian people are integral to that bond, honoring families, clans, and animal and supernatural beings, and telling oral histories through totem poles, ceremonial clothing and blankets, hand-carved household items and other objects. In recent decades, native artisans have revived practices that stretch back thousands of years, part of a larger movement to counter threats to their cultural sovereignty and resist estrangement from their heritage.

They use materials found in the Pacific rainforest and along the coast: red cedar, yellow cedar, spruce roots, seashells, animal skins, wool, horns, rock. They have become master printmakers, producing bold-colored figurative designs in the distinctive style known as “formline,” which prescribes the placement of lines, shapes and colors. Formline is a visual language of balance, movement, storytelling, ceremony, legacy and legend, and through it, these artisans bring the traditions of their rich cultures into the present and ensure their place in the future.

David A. Boxley and Michelle Boxley pose with their grandson, Sage in regalia. The regalia they are wearing was designed by David and made by Michelle. They are part of a dance group called Git Hoan that has traveled internationally performing traditional dance and song from Northwest Coast tribes.

David A. Boxley carefully restores a cedar house pole that commemorates his journey as a father bringing up his sons David Robert and Zachary in the Tsimshian culture.

Nathan Jackson, a Chilkoot Sockeye clan leader, in front of a Beaver Clan house screen that adorns a longhouse at Saxman Totem Park. The house screen was carved on vertical cedar planks before it was raised and assembled on the house front. Jackson, who led the project, found his way back to his heritage circuitously after a boyhood spent at a boarding school that prohibited native languages and practices.

At the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan, Alaska, Jackson wears ceremonial blankets and a headdress made from ermine pelts, cedar, abalone shell, copper and flicker feathers.

 Sgwaayaans and his apprentices heat lava rocks that will be used to steam the wood of a traditional dugout canoe; the heated lava rocks are lowered into a saltwater bath inside it, to steam the vessel until it is pliable enough to be stretched crosswise with thwarts; more than 200 tree rings in the Pacific red cedar are still visible with the canoe in its nearly finished form; Sgwaayaans strategically inserts the crosswise thwarts and taps them into place with a round wooden mallet to create the desired shape.

Lily Hope, a designer of Chilkat and Ravenstail textiles, lives in Juneau with her five children. She is seen weaving Tlingit masks during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hope is well known for her ceremonial robes, woven from mountain goat wool and cedar bark, and often made for clan members commemorating a major event like a birth, or participating in the mortuary ceremony known as Ku.éex, held one year after a clan member’s death. An educator and a community leader, Hope also receives “repatriation commissions” from institutions that return a historical artifact to its clan of origin and replace it with a replica or an original artwork.

Nathan Jackson’s adze on the head of a twelve-foot carved cedar pole

To see more of this project, click here. Or on Fernando’s website

 

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: Celebrity Shoot For Alcohol Company

Concept: Environmental portraits of a celebrity

Licensing: Unlimited use of all images captured for two years from first use

Photographer: Portraiture specialist

Client: Large alcohol brand

Here is the estimate (click to enlarge):

 

Fees: While the portraits would be rather straightforward, the celebrity talent required a photographer who had experience working with high-profile subjects and — due to said talent’s busy schedule — the ability to capture strong content in a short amount of time. That put upward pressure on the fee, and I felt that a creative fee alone was worth $4,000.

For the licensing, even though the client requested unlimited use, they were most likely to place the content in regional advertisements — primarily on in-store displays. I felt $6,500 was appropriate for one year of usage, then added 50% to account for a second year, bringing me to $9,750. I arrived at a $13,750 fee by combining the $4,000 creative fee and the $9,750 licensing fee. On top of that, I added a $1,500 fee for the photographer to attend a tech/scout day on location.

Crew: Given the nature of the project, I included a producer and PA to help coordinate the day and help hire/manage the rest of the crew and styling team. We added a first assistant (who would also accompany the photographer on the tech/scout day), second assistant, and a digital tech as well. The digitech’s rate included a $500 fee and $1,000 for a workstation and, overall, the rates were appropriate for the given market.

Styling: We included a hair/makeup stylist and a wardrobe stylist, as requested by the client. The wardrobe stylist would just be preparing clothing provided by the talent, so no shopping/return days were needed.

Equipment: We included $1,500 for cameras/grip/lighting and a modest fee to cover production elements like tables, chairs, etc.

Health and Safety: We included two days for a COVID compliance officer (which covered the tech/scout day and the shoot day), plus a few hundred dollars for PPE.

Meals: This rate was $75 per person on the day of the shoot.

Misc.: The venue was a bit out of town, so this fee covered mileage, parking, some additional meals, and bit of overhead for any unforeseen expenses that might arise.

Postproduction: We included $500 for the photographer to perform basic color correction and provide a gallery of his favorite shots. We also added $350 for a hard drive to deliver all of the images, as the client would handle retouching.

Results: The photographer was awarded the project, and the client ended up expanding the usage to include an additional year for one image for a fee of $3,750.

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

The Daily Edit – Somira Sao


Somira Sao

Heidi: How did your photo career start?
The start of my photo career was driven by a personal desire to understand my history as a Cambodian refugee. I was born in a Khmer Rouge work camp in Kampong Thom Province during Pol Pot’s occupation of Cambodia. My parents and I survived mass genocide, fled the country, and were relocated to the USA through UNHCR’s refugee resettlement program. We were moved from refugee holding camps in Thailand, the Philippines, and San Francisco before being placed a final time on the East coast. I was three years old when we landed in Portland, Maine. Twenty-six years later, I decided to return to Cambodia for the first time and searched for work as a photographer.

Before then, photography was pure art for me. I shot Polaroids, 35mm and medium format. I built a darkroom so I could process film and make silver gelatin prints. I loved shooting, never cropped images and even filed out negative carriers so I could print full frame. My first digital camera was a cheap point and shoot that I used to document the music, art and night scene in Portland. For my first trip back to Cambodia, I got a digital SLR and shifted completely away from film. I met my extended family and worked with NGOs based out of Phnom Penh. Over the course of two years, I visited 15 provinces documenting eco-tourism, education, HIV/AIDS, water/sanitation and land-mine survivors’ programs. Images I made for the Australian Red Cross and AUSAID’s landmine survivors’ program became part of an exhibition that traveled around Australia to help promote landmine awareness and raise funds to support survivors of detonated UXOs.

When did you start taking family photos?
As soon as I became a mom.

You’ve been involved in voyaging some time now, when did you decide to call the water your home?
Our voyaging program has been to make fast long distance ocean passages together as a family (usually 4000-6000nm non-stop), allowing us to see the world together via wind power. We started in June 2011 when we left Portland, Maine and sailed non-stop across the Atlantic to Cherbourg, France with our two oldest kids (ages 2 and 9 months at the time). We have been sailing and living on the water ever since, trying to get our kids on as many different boats as possible.

 You are the mother of 6 beautiful children, how have you seen them grow and shape shift to this alternative lifestyle?
The life that we have made with our kids has given them the ability to not only navigate the oceans, but a real practical knowledge of how to navigate the world, different people, cultures and political situations. They are learning how to problem solve, adapt quickly to change, be resourceful when resources are limited and understanding what it takes to complete and accomplish hard projects. We try to surround them with inspiring people who are doing really cool things. They are seeing that there are no rules when it comes to life choices, only that by following your passion you can find the inner motivation to push hard. These strengths we instill in them are more and more evident as they get older and especially apparent in contrast to kids their own age who have had a different type of upbringing.

What has living on the water taught you about motherhood and your photography?
Being on the water, disconnected from the normal grid has given me a unique perspective on the value of time, personal consumption, and how little you really need to raise strong, healthy confident kids. As a photographer, I’ve found that no matter where we are, every single day there is always some form of beauty to be found through the lens, whether it’s on an intimate level between your immediate family our out there in some wild amazing place.

When did you decide to travel with your children?
All my children have been on the go from the moment of conception. In 2007, when my husband and I decided to start a family, he made me promise that if we got pregnant, that we wouldn’t stop traveling. I agreed, so I guess it was at that moment that we decided a settled life in one place was not in the cards for our family. During my first pregnancy I had a smorgasbord of medical records from Cambodia, New Zealand, South Africa, Trinidad, Bermuda and USA. My oldest of six was born in Jackson, Wyoming and we were on the road with her starting when she was a month old. Each successive pregnancy was similar.

The most radical adventure baby was my 3rd born who sailed in utero in the high latitudes through the Southern Ocean, Aussie Bight and Tasman Sea (Cape Town to Fremantle to Melbourne to Auckland). She was born on the floor of my midwife’s house in Auckland, New Zealand, caught & cord cut by by my oldest daughter (age 4 at the time). She moved onto the boat when she was less than 24 hours old. As a family we have been traveling internationally, in nonstop motion (with no land base), since September 2008.

How has Patagonia influenced your photo career?
Just after my oldest daughter was born, I got offered a follow up field assignment with the Australian Red Cross to re-visit and photograph the beneficiaries of their landmine survivors’ program. I was really excited, as I felt I could make some compelling images the second time around, with more trust built between me and my subjects. I wanted to work but did not want to leave my family. I asked if I could bring them with me on the assignment (personally covering their travel expenses), but they felt it was too risky for me to travel with a child.

I felt very torn between work and being a parent during this period as I felt my career was just starting to grow. I am sure many first-time mothers can relate to this. That was when my husband introduced me to Jane Sievert who was the head of the Patagonia photo department at that time. I told her about our plan to cycle high quality dirt roads with our 2-month-old daughter through Chile and Argentina, starting in Chiloe and then making our way south through Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. The plan was to travel super light, with mountain bikes towing two single track trailers – one with a custom-built dodger to carry our daughter and the other with our camping gear. Jane was excited, supportive and willing to work with me and look at my images. We did our route as planned, but then we kept on going. Next we cycled a section of the Chilean surf coast from Cobquecura to Curanipe, then through the Atacama Desert, then went to Iceland to cycle around the island from hot spring to hot spring.

Over the course of 10 months, working with no laptop (as it was too much to carry with touring gear), I used a stand-alone card reader/hard drive. I sent Jane images from our trip that were quickly edited on low quality computer monitors at random internet cafes.

Through this first expedition, Jane had created an outlet for me to work on my art while raising my kids. I have felt that support from her and everyone else in the photo department for all of our adventures over the last 12 years. This relationship with Patagonia helped me realize I did not have to make a compromise between work and being a full-time mother. From that point forward, I chose to search only for projects where I could work and bring my kids along. Amazingly I found clients who let me bring my whole wild crew with me on commissioned photo shoots. I became a freelance writer and interviewed people for stories with my kids listening, learning and participating. My husband and I started a marine services business together that allowed us to work with clients using our virtual, floating office or do deliveries or refit projects where the whole family was welcome. Work choices always weighed in the quality of life that we could provide our family. Quality being measured not monetarily but instead in things like time together, opportunities for experiential education, access to good food, clean air/water/dirt, nature, sports, etc.

 

 

 

Featured Promo – Emily Lian Wright

Emily Lian Wright

Who printed it?
Vistaprint printed my work and I am quite happy with the results! Vistaprint is reasonably priced and produces decent quality product and as a photographer starting our budget is a huge factor.

Who designed it?
I designed my promo! I graduated from the Bachelor of Photography program at Sheridan College. The curriculum includes courses in graphic design and provides the students a well-rounded set of skills and education.

Tell me about the images?
These images have been taken over the past couple of years. In the future, I would like to keep the promo images more current.
My imagery choices range from portrait to fashion and product to architecture. I really wanted to showcase my range of capabilities! These images were from a few of my favourite shoots and ones that I had received the most positive feedback! There were also a lot of great memories that came out of these shoots. Some of my favourite memories come from working with wonderful models and stylists, and through wonderful teamwork my visions were brought to life.
It’s been interesting to do product shoots and one of my favourite was of Kavi Whisky shoot! While shooting the product, I was given a tour around the distillery and a lesson on how whisky is made. As an added perk, I also got to taste the amazing whisky! Yum!

How many did you make?
I researched different businesses in my area that I believed would benefit from my services. I printed 50 booklets, sent out 40 and saved a few for future potential clients. I always carry my business cards and a few booklets on me or in my car because you never know who you are going to meet and when that could be a potential client!

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is my first promo! In the future, I would like to send out one or two promos a year! This way I can keep in contact with my clients and they can see new and updated work I’ve done throughout the year!

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I think printed promos can be very effective! The booklets are expensive so you have to do your research and be selective in who you send them too. I moved to a new town in October and needed a way to introduce myself! Promos are a good way to let new clients know I am a new business in town and to show them some of my work.