The Daily Edit – City Anonymity: Lisa Saltzman



Photographer: Lisa Saltzman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Promo – Niki Cutchall

Niki Cutchall

Who printed it?
I printed the magazine through Blurb. Another photographer recommended them. After comparing their products to a few other companies, Blurb was my best option for the type of promo I created. They made it easy to start with an Adobe InDesign plugin, and I appreciated that I could order a single copy as a hard proof. I went with their magazine and upgraded to premium paper. The postcard was printed through Moo.

Who designed it?
I did! I don’t have a background in graphic design, but I felt confident that I could create something that made me proud. I started it in Adobe InDesign because Blurb had a template and plugin for the tool. My photography trends towards a more minimal, elegant style, and I wanted the magazine’s design to complement that. This was my first print promo, so I wore every hat on this project, from creative director and graphic designer to photographer and stylist. It pushed my creativity as a photographer and made me appreciate all the work that each function puts into a piece of content.

Tell me about the images.
This was my first print promo, and it started as an assignment in a small group fellowship run by Andrew Scrivani. I wanted to create something that felt like me and powerfully debut my work. As I was brainstorming ideas, I kept returning to an image I shot of brownie batter (the image on the postcard) and an idea I had to do a monochromatic series on brown food. It’s a color I love working with, and I knew I could capture it beautifully. Andrew encouraged me to run with the idea, and I took off with it.

I started by brainstorming a list of brown foods. I knew I wanted to include recipes and focus them around a meal. I ended up going with a breakfast, lunch, dinner theme because it gave me a good range of foods to choose from. The challenging part was identifying recipes that are naturally monochrome. I could have included some images of single ingredients to keep with the brown theme, but I wanted the challenge of photographing a final dish that was entirely brown. I decided on four recipes and a cocktail; then, I sketched out my shots. I planned each recipe to have one main hero image and 2-3 supporting photos. I shot and styled all the photos, specifically for the promo. As I was designing the magazine, I had some additional space that I didn’t plan for initially. The Kamikaze was a last-minute addition. It was shot for a different purpose, and it was a happy accident that it worked with the brown color palette.

I live outside of Philly, so I had to include a cheesesteak! Those photos are my favorite in the series. I love the composition, the lighting, and the texture; everything about them. They are an excellent example of bringing the idea in your head to life.

The hero image for each recipe includes a descriptive word or phrase. These are words I use to describe my style. I included them as a way to clearly express my strengths without being too lengthy or adding in additional text. I planned to include them initially, but I did not shoot specific recipes to match a particular description. I matched them up after everything was shot based on the strongest qualities in the photo.

Lastly, I like creating GIFs, and I wanted to include those because it’s part of my services. I planned a GIF for each recipe. Then I made a dedicated page for the series on my portfolio. I included a QR code on the back of the magazine that would take you to that page.

How many did you make?
I printed 85. I thought it was a good number for my first promo. Not so large that I would struggle to mail them out, but not so small that I would have a hard time choosing who gets one.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This was my first promo, but I plan on sending them out at least twice a year. They won’t always be on this scale. The next one I have planned will be something simple, like a postcard.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I think it’s too soon to tell. I think it’s a long game and part of a broader marketing strategy. I’m going to keep trying, see if it works, and reassess at a later time.

How can you tell what works and what doesn’t?
Food photography is a second career for me. I was a data analyst for several large corporations for ten years. I specialized in web analytics, looking at how clients are moving and interacting with the companies website. I use a lot of the same techniques in my photography business now. Collecting data can get overlooked, but I think it’s important to understand the health and growth of your business. From the beginning, I intended this promo to live across multiple channels. I knew I could track traffic to my portfolio from social and email, but I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t follow it from the print version. It would be nice to know if the print promo drove traffic to my site. Then I realized the QR code I included on the back serves as that tracker. I created a unique URL called a UTM tracking URL. It’s a URL with additional parameters at the end where I could specify that this link came directly from my printed promo. I embedded the UTM tracking URL into my QR code. Anytime someone with the print promo scans the QR code, I see a marketing channel called “print” come through in my Google Analytics. This only works if the recipients scan the QR code, but regardless, it’s better than not tracking interactions with the promo at all.

This Week in Photography: The End of the Line

 

 

My mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s disease.

(I’ve mentioned this before.)

Watching her deteriorate day-by-day, over the course of 2020 and 2021, was one of the most miserable experiences of my life.

Without question.

But the worst is over now.

 

October 3, 2020
October 28, 2020
November 21, 2020
December 4, 2020
March 7, 2021

 

 

 

 

Now that Bonnie has settled into a status quo, in which she can’t really communicate, or move around much, one would imagine that would be rock bottom.

But it’s not, actually.

She’s relatively happy, under the circumstances, and clearly wants to live.

(Her body just outlasted her mind.)

It’s fucked up, though, as prior to her decline, she asked her daughters to kill her, before she completely lost her faculties.

While Bonnie was still mentally competent, she did not want to live like this, but lacking an assisted suicide law in New Mexico, my wife and her sister were unwilling to comply.

Now, here we are, yet she eats up a storm, and chimes into conversations with meaningless babble from time to time.

Every medical practitioner I’ve heard speak on the subject, (as well as Bonnie’s experienced care-givers,) all say the same thing: when a person is ready to die, they stop eating.

They give up, hasten the process, and pass on.

And that’s not happening here.

Bonnie wants to live, so she lives.

She assumed she’d rather die than live like this, (when she could still think clearly,) but her body and spirit have different plans.

How strange.

 

May 14, 2021. (The last photo I took of Bonnie, b/c after this, I no longer felt she could give consent.)

 

 

 

 

 

The phase where every day, Bonnie would be less and less capable, was horrifying.

At first she’d simply forget words, or lose her wallet, but it quickly spiraled into personality changes, (like physically attacking my father-in-law, insisting he was an imposter,) and then truly tragic moments, where she knew what was happening, but was powerless to stop it.

I remember the time she looked at me, smacked her head hard, twice, and said, “my bran is broken.”

Not brain.
Bran.

That was awful.

Here in March 2022, though, she keeps on trucking.

I think about that, as I watch the horror of what’s happening in Ukraine, and keep landing on humankind’s survival instinct.

Staying alive is so deeply ingrained in our psyche.

In our souls.

Because no one knows what comes next.

It’s the great mystery, and almost everyone alive is terrified to find the answer.

(Better to not know, and keep living as long as possible.)

 

 

 

 

 

Truth be told, I wouldn’t be me if the above rant were not inspired by a photo-book.

I had no plans to write any of it.

Rather, I spent a few minutes with the short, sleek, supremely-well-designed “Terminus,” by John Divola, published by Mack in 2021, and came out with a new set of ideas.

Full disclosure, (as they say,) I know John personally, having interviewed him twice for Vice and the NYT, and then we had brunch and lunch together IRL.

 

 

We caught up on Zoom a few months ago, and I’ve written about him here before.

I’ve reviewed many books by people I know, but as John is something of an art-star, with a recent history of controversy, I thought it appropriate to come clean.

Because I wouldn’t want you to read this without context.

Frankly, for a while there, as I was turning the pages, I was more worried about how he’d respond to a negative review.

(Which is where we were trending, until near the book’s end.)

 

 

 

 

 

I know from speaking with John, and from his Instagram and FB feeds, that he’s been working for years at an abandoned Air Force base in Victorville, California.

I also know he’s insanely bright, and has his own ideas about what his work means.

When I interviewed him years ago, convinced he was just being a graffiti punk, back in the 70s, wreaking havoc in abandoned buildings, in the spirit of “The Warriors” era time period, he shot all my theories down.

No, not at all, he said.

He was making marks.
Painting abstraction.

The spaces were there, empty, so he made his paintings in the quiet.

The broken glass, piss on the floors, and general mayhem evidenced in his seminal “Zuma” series, shot in Malibu of all places, was incidental to the process.

Not the point.

These days, I feel more comfortable disagreeing, because of course he knows what his motivations were, but he can’t claim supreme knowledge of what the art is actually “about.”

 

All “Zuma” images courtesy of Divola.com

 

 

 

 

I’ve loved most of what I saw from his new project.

It’s anarchic and cool.

Like a late-career revisiting of “Zuma,” but now he’s transgressing on American Military property.

And there is a nice range of imagery within the larger work.

But not in “Terminus.”

No.

The title, (which means the end of the line,) is foreboding, but still the book reveals itself slowly.

Like the gorgeous black orb on the cover, page after page, we see orb-like black paint, graffiti style, as the end of a hallway.

(Rather, I assume it’s several hallways.)

As I turned the pages, I literally thought to myself, “Damn, the audience is going to hate this one, and hate me for reviewing it.”

They’ll think, “How myopic can you get? One meta-image, over and over again? Why make a book?”

I wondered, in a project with a range of images, why just this one repeating motif?

Over and over again.

The orb in the distance.

But then, something changed.

The orb was no longer looming ahead.

It was getting closer.

And closer.

Until finally, it was close enough to make me feel compressed.
Claustrophobic.

WTF?

Then it was there, so close you could touch it, and after literally breaking through, to see to the other side, what did we get?

More black void.

Right in your face.

I reminded myself to take a few breaths, because my understanding of the book changed so quickly.

So drastically.

This is about death.

The end.

And just when you think you can peek behind, to see what’s there, it’s even bleaker.

More void.

(That’s heavy, dude.)

 

 

 

 

As with many Mack books, this one is lean and spare in its textual offerings.

There is almost no text at all.

But on the last page, the artist writes, “Terminus is a singular work, not a collection of related images.”

(Tell me something I don’t know.)

John Divola can, and might, disagree with my reading.

Perhaps he’ll find it too literal.
Or metaphorical?

If so, I would say he’s wrong.

This book is about as good a symbolic representation of the the human condition as I’ve seen.

We all know we’re going to die, eventually.

But no one wants it to happen, and we all hope to get the longest possible lives.

Because Death is so permanent.

My mother-in-law, Bonnie, is/was one of the fiercest people I’ve ever met.

Strong of body and mind.

Capable of intense love, and a massive maternal instinct.

She thought she’d never want to live in such a compromised state.

But she was wrong.

Because, as I’ve seen with my own eyes, she isn’t ready to die.

And neither, (I suspect,) is John Divola.

Hopefully he’ll keep making provocative art for us, to nourish our minds and our spirits.

See you next week!

 

To purchase “Terminus” click here

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Andy Goodwin

 

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:  Andy Goodwin

I love working on personal projects, especially when they’re part of a series that I can fully explore. It just gives me so much freedom and a chance to play around with unusual ideas and techniques without having a concern for what the commercial value might be. Oftentimes a series like this one starts off with an idea that I’ll daydream about for a week or so until I’m ready to talk a friend or family member into helping me out. I have a group of muses that I tap into for favors like this and the crazier the idea is the better they like it.

What makes this series somewhat different is that I’ve kept coming back to it over the past 8 years with new ideas and lighting approaches. I don’t want to give away too much in terms of technique (the idea has already been knocked off by others), but I will say that it’s a pretty elaborate set. One thing I’ll share is that since my “models” are under water it’s not always easy to communicate with them on what I’d like them to try, so sometimes after a little coaching I’ll give them the cable release and let them shoot the portraits when they feel they are at their photogenic best!

 

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.

 

How to help the people of Ukraine

 

Heather Elder of Heather Elder Represents reached out to me yesterday to get the word out about helping the people of Ukraine through donations for beautiful photographic prints.  There is a link for other photographers beyond her roster to join in the efforts to help.  Together we can make a difference.

Photography has a unique ability to connect us to people in ways that words simply cannot. And, when disaster or life changing events hit, photography has the power to bring us together and remind us of our collective experiences and shared humanity.

With this understanding, Giving Photography was created to connect people and artists who want to make a difference, all while making the world a little more beautiful. And, right now, we want to focus our attention and efforts on aide to Ukraine. Whether you are a photographer, or someone interested in making a donation in exchange for print, we invite you to join us.

Link here if you are a photographer or artist who would like to use the #Giving Photography and your own social platforms to offer prints in exchange for donations.

Also, photographers in Heather Elder’s group are offering an 11″x17″ prints in exchange for a donation to World Central Kitchen or one of these vetted agencies.

Link here if you are looking to make a donation in exchange for a print. Or explore the #GivingPhotography for more options.

Giving Photography understands that people want to make a difference in the world and want to lead positive and impactful lives. By connecting photographers to buyers with shared philanthropic interests, Giving Photography can become the catalyst to start meaningful conversations around urgent issues and raise money to help support them; all while making the world a little more beautiful.

To see more of the prints and charities being supported, check out our website or follow us on Instagram.

 

APE contributor Suzanne Sease weekly post “The Art of the Personal Project” can be viewed every Thursday.

The Daily Edit – Ancient Forest Alliance: TJ Watt


Ancient Forest Alliance

Founder and photographer: TJ Watt

Heidi: Nearly 1/3 of your life has gone to protecting the old growth and co-founding Ancient Forest Alliance. When did you realize you could blend photography and activism as a career?
TJ: I started to consider that possibility during photo school way back in 2007 when I was volunteering with environmental groups and shooting photos to help with their campaigns. I could see it was a powerful tool but it was hard to imagine it becoming a full time job though. Then, in 2010, the opportunity arose to launch the Ancient Forest Alliance with my friend Ken Wu. All of a sudden I was able to dedicate the time needed to explore and document the forests of Vancouver Island and BC. There were surprisingly few, if any people doing that at the time so it was exciting to get out there and really start highlighting the good and the bad. Here we are 12 years later, stronger than ever.

When you came across the 216 foot tall Douglas fir called  “Big Lonely Doug” standing tall amongst the clear cut on Vancouver Island, what emotions came up when you took photos of the tree?
Seeing Big Lonely Doug for the first time was heartbreaking. I had gone out that day in February 2012 to explore that exact location and when I arrived, all the trees were freshly cut down. Two years before I had explored the forest adjacent to Big Lonely Doug (now known as Eden Grove) and was returning to see what else lay hidden in the woods. I often wonder how history could have played out differently had we found Doug before the forest was clearcut around him. We had recently been successful in protecting Avatar Grove just down the road and with that momentum, we might have been able to do the same there. But things didn’t go that way. Maybe Doug’s higher purpose was to draw lasting attention to the plight of ancient forests in BC to the world abroad, which he continues to do to this day.

What’s your creative approach to photographing a 216 foot tree from the ground?
I’ve captured photos of Doug in a variety of ways: wide angles from the base, telephotos from a distance, fisheye from the top, drones from the air, and hanging out the side of a helicopter. It’s been a really interesting subject and friend to return to time and time again. Of course, one of the most unique things about Doug is that you can actually see the full height of the tree from top to bottom. Placing a person at the base really gives you a sense of the monumental scale of a tree that’s more than 4m or 12ft wide and over 20 stories tall. When we teamed up with professional tree climbers to help measure the tree, having a person dangling from the side of the trunk was also a wild perspective.

Did you expect these images to go viral?
In this case I think we did. As a photographer trying to explain a complex issue, the more you can distill the various concepts and feelings into a single image, the greater the impact be. Big Lonely Doug tells the whole story in one scene. It highlights both the beauty and grandeur of BC’s ancient forests and their unfortunate destruction. I think it also shocked people that logging like this was still happening during modern times here in Canada. It looks more like a scene out of the 1800’s before people may have known better. But instead, here we have the second largest Douglas-fir tree in Canada, surrounded by giant stumps, in a logging operation approved by the BC government. People were shocked and still are today.

Tell us about your photography process and set up, since you are in several of your own photos I assume to add scale and a human element.
Since I’m often exploring alone, I have to be self-sufficient. In my pack I carry my photo gear, tripod, food/water, and emergency gear and communication. Pre-trip, I will have scoped out a specific forest via satellite imagery and then have those maps loaded on my phone in the field. I then hike in and when I find something I would like to photograph, I set up my tripod and walk into the shot. I can control my camera from my phone which helps me determine where to stand and not have to run to beat the timer! Having a person for scale is the only way to truly grasp the size of these trees or stumps. I feel it also allows people to step into the scene and imagine being there themselves.

How difficult is it to get to these groves?
Most of the areas I’m photographing are quite remote and difficult to get to, which is a big part of why conservation photography is vital in getting the word out far and wide. Here’s a trip from yesterday for example: woke up at 4am, drove four hours to reach a remote valley, bushwhacked and photographed from dawn to dusk in a beautiful grove of giant trees that sadly are at imminent risk of being cut down, then a four hour drive back home, arriving at 10pm. The terrain and weather can be challenging as well. There are no trails in the woods or clearcuts so it’s up and over logs, skidding down steep slopes, scrambling through bushes well over your head, getting cuts and bruises from various sharp things, while often getting completely soaked from the rain (it’s a rainforest after all). But on the other hand, being alone in a forest that looks like something out of a fairy tale can also be one of the most peaceful and serene experiences a person can have. You’re surrounded by five hundred to one thousand year old trees, colorful little mushrooms, sunbeams cascading through the foggy air – it’s worth every bit of effort. Especially knowing that it might not be there the next time you arrive.

“Art is the highest form of hope,” is a line first expressed by the German painter Gerhard Richter in 1982, with your photography what are you hoping for?
My hope is to make people stop and feel something. I believe art can open doors into a person’s heart where it might otherwise be closed. Once that door is open, new information can be allowed in, including ideas and views they might not previously have been open to receiving.

My hope also is to expose the magnificent beauty and continued destruction of highly endangered ancient forests in BC to as wide of an audience as possible, ultimately helping to bring about the change needed to protect them.

Right now we are at a critical point in the history of the campaign to save ancient forests in BC. The government has accepted – in principle – recommendations from an independent science panel to temporarily defer logging of millions of hectares of the best old-growth across the province, pending approval from First Nations. This is in response to years of public pressure, fueled in large part by viral images we have shared of giant trees and giant stumps. Ultimately, permanent protection is  necessary because, under BC’s current system of forestry where trees are re-logged on average every 50-60 years, old-growth forests are a non-renewable resource. Tree plantations do not adequately replicate the complex and diverse ecosystems that they’re replacing, so we have just one chance to keep ancient forests standing for the benefit of the climate, tourism, wild salmon, endangered species, and many First Nations cultures.

Though it’s sometimes too late to save the trees pictured in my photos, I hope the images motivate people to get involved and advocate for the protection of the forests that are still standing.

Aside from social media and its ability to scale and tell the uncensored truth of the logging, what other photo based technology are you using to protect the trees?
In recent years I’ve found the use of drones really helpful. Technology has come a long way and now in as little as five minutes you can be up in the air, surveying and photographing forests or clearcuts from above. It’s such a unique perspective and cheaper/easier than flying. My next experiment with drones is to try and retrace flight paths after a forest has been cut to fade between the standing and fallen trees. Trail cameras are also pretty handy as well. I’ve just experimented using the basic game cameras you can buy online but they’re proven useful at capturing images of wildlife such as black bears and elk undisturbed. I keep hoping for a photo of a cougar.

How can folks help and get involved?
We need everyone involved at this critical time. Folks can learn more and take action on our website at www.ancientforestalliance.org Sign up on our email list and follow us on social media so you hear about the latest action alerts, photos, and news. And always remember, we have more power than we think we do. Collectively, we can – and will – change the world.
AFA Instagram: www.instagram.com/ancientforestalliance | @ancientforestalliance
Instagram: www.instagram.com/tjwatt | @tjwatt

 

 

This Week in Photography: Festivals Are Back

 

 

It’s my birthday today.

And thankfully, my wish was granted.

Photo festivals are back!

 

Birthday week selfie, mad-dogging the camera

 

From my perspective, they’re the life-blood of the photo world, here in the US.

Few things have the potential to change your career, (and your life,) more than spending time among a group of your talented peers, where you can make new connections, create friendships, receive feedback on your work, see new art for inspiration, listen to lectures that light up your ideas, discover new opportunities, eat different food, and walk around a fresh environment.

It literally builds new neural pathways in your brain.

Photo festivals rock!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our regular readers know I reviewed portfolios at most of the major American photography festivals, in the years leading up to the pandemic.

At one point or another, I attended Medium in San Diego, Filter in Chicago, PhotoNOLA in New Orleans , the NYT review, LACP’s Exposure, the Academy of Art University review in San Francisco, a festival in Santa Fe, and Photolucida in Portland.

Additionally, I was meant to go to the MOP Denver reviews last year, but they were held online, and I’ll be visiting the PhotoAlliance review in San Francisco in two weeks.

 

Courtesy of PhotoAlliance.com

 

For some reason, there has always been push-back against the idea of “pay-to-play,” and I was resistant to attending festivals myself, before a few colleagues talked sense to me in 2009.

I’ve reaped tremendous rewards, both as an artist and writer, and I’m telling you: it’s worth the financial and time investment.

(Plus, your tuition goes to support a non-profit organization, which is putting its energy directly into the community.)

The phrase “it takes money to make money” is correct, but that doesn’t mean it has to take A LOT of money.

Rather, it’s about finding value.

 

 

 

 

 

Good output requires good input.

Just as you wouldn’t expect to be healthy if you ate like Morgan Spurlock, when he filmed “Super Size Me,” it’s hard to make your best work if you’re not learning and growing.

 

Courtesy of MorganSpurlock.com

 

If you can’t see great art IRL, and share energy with people who are like-minded, but also very different from you, you’ll get stuck.

Which is where the festival circuit comes in.

If you attend a local event, you can likely save a lot of money on travel and accommodations.

So that’s a route to take, if your budget is tight.

(Many festivals also offer online components now, which is another value play, though you’ll miss out on most of what I’m hyping.)

 

 

 

 

 

Just off the top of my head, we’re talking about San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Portland, Houston, Chicago, New Orleans, Santa Fe, Boston, New York and Atlanta.

Which means most American photographers have a proper festival within a day’s drive.

(I guess the Hawaiians and Alaskans are shit out of luck.)

And the great thing about going to an event, with an open mind, an open heart, and the intention to press the flesh, is you simply don’t know what will come of it.

The combination of learning, wandering, listening, looking, laughing, eating, talking, drinking, thinking, and meeting new people is always worth the cost, because you’re guaranteed to emerge from the weekend a different person.

(Again, if you put yourself out there. Sitting quietly by yourself, and refusing to engage with others, or get out of your comfort zone if you’re an introvert, will undermine the effort, and exceeds the limits of my guarantee.)

 

 

 

 

 

One of the last festivals I attended before the world shut down was Photolucida, in Portland, April 2019.

The memories are so vivid.

I walked for miles, saw scores of photo projects, and ate amazing Thai food.

 

Walking around Portland.

 

I attended my first Hardcore Metal show, and was introduced to an entire subculture I didn’t even know existed.

I interviewed the bouncers there, at Dante’s, and then reported to you about the organized street fights, between different left and right-wing “gangs,” (for lack of a better word,) which was pretty cutting edge info, given what happened in PDX the following year.

(And is still happening, unfortunately.)

 

At Dante’s, where earplugs were a necessity

 

I’d never been to Portland before, and trying to understand an entirely new local culture, walking around the oddly-compressed downtown, (where I struggled to find the perfect vantage point to get my bearings,) smoking weed on the famed river bridges while talking to a great friend, it all made me richer, emotionally.

Smarter.
Happier.
Better.

If I close my eyes now, I can see events play out in my mind’s eye.

These are the types of experiences we all need, to rebuild our psyches, our creativity, and our sense of self, after one of the most brutal two-year stretches in American history.

(As the President himself said, in his State of the Union address the other night.)

And that’s without even mentioning the PTSD people feel this week, watching an unjust war play out in Ukraine, on their device screens, helpless to stop the onslaught of death and misery.

You feel me?

 

 

 

 

 

While I was in Portland, I also met some of the members of the local arts group, the Small Talk Collective.

 

Courtesy of Smalltalkcollective.com

 

Like many artists before them, these women joined forces, to support each other as people, as creators, and to make new opportunities for themselves, and members of the “female-identifying, nonbinary, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+” community.

When positive, supportive people stick together, and pull in the same direction towards a common goal, really good things happen.

And wouldn’t you know it, but today, I pulled a little envelope sleeve from my book stack, (which arrived in June 2021,) and it had a postmark from the Small Talk Collective, featuring a slim publication to publicize a new venture.

According to the letter affixed to the outside of the attached ‘zine, the group started their own gallery, Strange Paradise, in the Disjecta Contemporary Arts Center, which is pretty phenomenal.

(And their text mentioned how important such gestures are, coming out of a period of intense isolation.)

The very simple ‘zine, called “Reverberations: Vol.1,” featured work from the first two solo shows the gallery presented, in May/June/July 2021, by Kelda Van Patten and Marilyn Montufar.

It’s a sleek, cool little offering, for sure.

 

 

 

 

The ‘zine reads more like a promotional piece, than a proper art object in its own right, but so what?

(Not everything can nail the gestalt effect, where the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.)

Partly, it’s because the writing skews towards artist statement, rather than audience engagement, and because the two included projects are not an obvious fit.

They compliment each other with color palette, and overall image quality, but Kelda Van Patten makes IRL/digital collage work, from still lives, and Marilyn Montufar documented local culture in the hinterlands of Northern Mexico.

(In Chihuahua, where most tourists never, ever go.)

Now, before you assume this is one of those reviews that skews negative, I like this ‘zine a lot.

It’s well-produced and engaging, featuring strong photography within, and all the information you need to figure out its intent.

Furthermore, given most people focused on the high-end production fees I shared, in my recent “Making a Book” column, few seemed to grasp the embedded advice, that a professional-looking publication can impress, on next-to-no money.

This is a great example.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m assuming it was printed with a fine-art inkjet printer, double-sided, on a simple, low-weight rag paper, (or newsprint,) but it’s possible these pages come from a high-quality color copier.

You can imagine the Small Talk Collective members, (Audra Osborne, Jennifer Timmer Trail, Kristy Hruska, and Marico Fayre) patiently folding the 4-printed-pages together, with a straight edge, then carefully jamming two staples into the middle, thereby taking separate papers, and making them into a holistic object.

How much could each copy possibly cost to produce? (Not including postage.)

$1?
$2?
$3?

There’s no way it cost more than that, yet here I am, impressed, writing about it.

I now know who these artists are, (again, a benefit, if you’re promoting their exhibitions,) I know the Small Talk Collective has a gallery, and that they’re making publications.

I like this ‘zine, which means I also now have a positive impression of the Small Talk Collective, whereas yesterday, they were not in my consciousness.

If you think back to the mega-column on publishing, I wrote about combining your budget and your vision, with a sense of value and purpose.

Today’s publication is a perfect example of that.

Don’t spend more than you can afford.

And don’t overcomplicate things, if you don’t have to.

Hope that advice is helpful.

See you next week!

 

To purchase “Reverberations: Vol. 1” click here 

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: David Black

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:  David Black

“People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles.”
Bret Easton Ellis

Los Angeles could be described as Surrealism in full sunlight.

The physical debris of Los Angeles—sooty palm fronds littered along crooked sidewalks, a maze of intertwined freeways, electric LED sunsets—is reminiscent of Ray Bradbury’s “city of the future.”

As a follow up to Cerro Gordo, David Black’s debut monograph from 2017, The Days Change at Night explores the paranormality of everyday life in Los Angeles. Part two of an LA trilogy, Days Change picks up where Cerro Gordo left off, evoking the early 1980s punk aesthetic projected in Alex Cox’s Repo Man—a city on edge of an existential threat.

The images present a cyclical, day-to-night narrative, using the city’s landscape as a depository of our collected dreams. These visual glitches suggest the point of view of a passenger in a fast-moving car, racing past on LA’s expansive freeway system, capturing the stark polarity of the city’s opposing forces: light and dark, commercial and artistic, micro and macro—and they fuse together to pose questions about illusion, mortality, and truth.

As Raymond Chandler famously wrote, “A city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness.”

 

 

 

To see more of this project, click here.

Purchase 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 – Support Photojournalism: Guide to Ukraine

Support Photojournalism

Curator: Paul Bellinger Jr.
Ukraine Guide 1
Ukraine Gude 2
Ukraine Guide 3


Heidi: Along with giving agency to the local and relevant photographers, how and why did these guides come about?
Paul: Well the purpose of my instagram account @support.photojournalism is to promote the work of photojournalists, documentary and street photographers from around the world and to strengthen our community as photographers. These photographers are generally over worked and under paid so my goal is to spread appreciation for the important work they do. I try to set a good example of being generous on Instagram: sharing, reposting, saving, liking, commenting, all the little things I can do for free to uplift photographers. I repost about 10-15 posts a day on Instagram stories, all from photojournalists, documentary and street photographers. I’ve been doing it for about a year and half now. I’ve gotten to know our community really well and we have photographers from around the world. When events happen, I usually see the pictures on Instagram before they are published anywhere else.

How are you leveraging Instagram tools?
When Instagram rolled out the guides feature (basically a self contained, numbered list, made up of Instagram posts, with text fields for a title and a caption) I started using it right away because one of the options is to make a guide from your saved posts. I was already saving around 250+ posts a week to consider for reposting on stories so I had the idea to make a weekly guide of what I thought were the best posts of the week. Instagram limits guides to 30 posts, so it’s basically a roundup of my 30 favorites from the week called “Weekly Faves.” It’s very easy to share a guide on your instagram story so this gives people a really easy way to share the work of 30 photographers in just a couple taps on their phone. Hopefully when people see the guide they click through and follow the photographers and start engaging with them.

Tell us about your Weekly Faves
I’ve never said it out loud, but in my mind these Weekly Faves are kind of an alternative to the “Photos of the Week” slideshows that most major publications do. I say alternative, because of course I have my own subjective ideas about what makes a good picture or story, but also because I’m not limited to photographers that work only for one agency or another, or one publication or another, or even limited to pictures that have been published anywhere besides Instagram. My Weekly Faves also differs in content because I mostly follow independent photographers. It gives me a reason to look back at the previous week and be a little more considerate. I’m always in awe of how much amazing work is posted each week from our community. It’s really hard to only pick 30.

How did the Ukraine guide come about?
Making the Ukraine guides came on kind of a late night delirium actually. I could barely keep my eyes open after listening to coverage on TV and scouring Instagram for hours on the day that Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine. I knew several photographers on the ground in the weeks and months leading up to the invasion and they had already started posting work from the invasion. I was reposting their work and they were reposting the work of other colleagues on the ground. I knew we were about to see an avalanche of posts and I wouldn’t be able to keep up reposting all of it. So before I passed out with my phone in my hand around 3am, I had the idea to use Instagram guides to make a list of all the photographers I knew working in Ukraine, and then I’d just post that guide on my story and people could go follow all of those photographers and keep up with what was happening in Ukraine on their own. The community did the rest, sharing the guide generously and sending me messages with more photographers that were in Ukraine, especially Ukrainian photographers. I updated it with new photographers and it quickly reached the 30 post limit for guides. By then, it had already started going viral thanks to our community for being so supportive of their colleagues on the ground in Ukraine.

What is the intended goal of the guides and are they acting like an agency of sorts, or is this more of a grassroots collective?
The immediate goal was to provide a resource for spreading reliable information from Ukraine. I want @support.photojournalism to be useful to the people who follow it, helping them stay informed about what’s going on across the world. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Photojournalists provide the antidote to misinformation. I want people to be able to get their information straight from the photographers themselves, including photographers who are from Ukraine. I believe in the power of pictures to show the world through another’s eyes. Pictures share different perspectives on what’s happening. In order to make a picture, the photographer has to be there, on the ground, bearing witness to whatever is in front of them and that gives pictures an element of persuasion that few other mediums have.

I also wanted to let everyone within our community know who was already on the ground so we could all start promoting their work and hopefully they could get their work licensed, published etc., so they can earn a living and be able to keep going. We really need to pay photojournalists more so they can focus on making pictures and not worrying about how they’re going to make ends meet or cutting corners on their health and safety. If nothing else, I hope we got their work some love and it lifted the photographers spirits during difficult times.

But the broader goal is always the same: to promote photojournalism, documentary and street photography, and to build community. These photographers put their lives on the line to cover dangerous situations and inform the public about what’s happening in the world. To me they’re like rock stars, or better yet, super heroes. They play a very crucial role in our society but they’re under appreciated today. They work hard to make amazing pictures under the toughest conditions so I think the least we can do is thank them for their service to society and spread the love for their work.

Lastly, as photographers we’re stronger together. We can use social media to promote each other and the stronger our community is, the better off each individual photographer will be. Individually we may only be able to reach a few thousand people, but together we can reach millions. So I try to use social media to connect photographers and foster a community of lifting each other up, sharing each other’s work. I also host a weekly audio-chat room on Clubhouse for all of us to get together and talk about anything and everything photography related. Hearing each other’s voices on Clubhouse has helped us become closer friends over the last year and many of us have met up in person as well. Our core group is very strong now and we all help each other and our community however we can.

I saw you held a 2 hr conversation on Clubhouse, what were the most salient points from the discussion?
We have a weekly audio-chat room on Clubhouse every Tuesday at 5pm PST (Wednesday mornings on the other side of the world). We talk about all things photojournalism, documentary and street photography. Every week we are joined by some of the leading photographers today, along with editors, photography students and non-photographers who want to learn from the discussion and ask questions. It’s very casual and everyone is welcome. We usually go for two hours and people come and go as they can. Last week we had Nicoló Filipo Rosso stop by after he had just won a staggering four awards at the Pictures of the Year International (POYi), one of the most prestigious awards in our industry. The previous week we were joined by Gabrielle Lurie, who had just won back to back Photographer of the Year in a Small Market along with three other awards at POYi (she might be the only person to have ever won back to back years like that). Natalie Behring and Raquel Natalicchio co-moderate it with me and they are both outstanding photographers too.

How do people get involved?
For Ukraine I’ll defer to Ukrainians who know best. Marta Iwanek  has been sharing a lot of useful information and has helped me with the guides so I would start by following her. For our community, the best way is to follow along on Instagram and you’ll always be informed about what’s happening with us. I use Instagram stories to share the work of many photographers everyday, so I would love it if people go follow those photographers and show them some love by liking and sharing their work and supporting them financially when they can. People can come to our Clubhouse room to learn more about the people behind the pictures. There are several photography organizations that do good work for photographers that people can donate to such as Women Photograph, Diversify Photo and Black Women Photographers. I highly recommend people in the US to join or donate to the National Press Photographers Association because they do a lot specifically for photojournalists. Beyond that, subscribe to a newspaper or magazine or buy a photo book.

The first piece of what is considered modern journalism was published in 1703 by Daniel Dafoe, (Great Storm of 1703 in Britain) 317 years later we have the same need for journalism, but why is this even more important now?
I think it’s more important than ever now. Democracy and journalism are co-dependent so the erosion of journalism also erodes democracy. Journalism is essential to democracy because it informs the public, a necessary precondition for holding leaders accountable which is really the essence of democracy. Funding for journalism has been in decline for a long time now, with newsrooms and bureaus closing at an accelerating pace in the 2000s. I think we’re starting to see the political consequences as data show that democracy is weakening around the world for the last several years.  It’s impossible to know to what extent, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that strengthening journalism will strengthen democracy along with it, so it’s more important now than ever.

What are the benefits of the smaller footprint photography has over video, aside from speed and isolating a single moment?
When it comes to making pictures or videos, there are some practical advantages for photography in that it requires less/smaller gear, less storage, less computing power, editing time, etc. Video cameras are getting smaller and smaller though and many photographers make video with their cameras now too. But yeah if you have a smaller footprint then you can be a little more nimble and get into more situations.

When it comes to the output, photography and video are similar in their believability. When people see video or picture evidence of something, they tend to believe it because they know the person who made it was actually there. They’re both important and effective at visual communication and have their strengths and weaknesses. One benefit of still photography is that it can be printed and widely disseminated in print. Once printed it’s permanent and it doesn’t require electricity or internet to look at it. Through newspapers, magazines and books the still image has further reach and more staying power than video. Even when you’re looking on a phone, a still picture takes less time to look at. It has immediate impact. I think that’s another benefit of still photography in an age where the average attention span is extremely short. I have a lot of respect for video too though, ideally we’d have both and a lot of people in our community do both.

This global network of photo journalism provides a POV and firm ground for objectivity and lived experience. How has social media opened the aperture for creators to share their images free of traditional media institutions.
I believe one of the goals for journalism should be to provide as many perspectives as possible. Social media has given us access to more points of view than ever before, so it has had a democratizing effect on the images that are being made and seen. The types of stories we have access to now is unprecedented. Our ability to find talented photographers anywhere in the world through social media is really incredible for telling stories with more nuance. You’re right, many of these stories might not have ever made it through that institutional shaping you’re talking about with the major publications out there. Social media has removed the gate keepers, to an extent. But the gap between the work that is being made and the work that is being published by these institutions is still massive, and these institutions still have enormous reach, far more than individual photographers. It’s a double edged sword, photographers can reach more people than ever but their chances of being paid a reasonable wage are lower than ever too. So there are many more pictures out there today but there are also many more unpaid photographers out there now too.

Can you speak to your personal connection to journalism?
My mentor was a photojournalist. I know a lot of photojournalists and I’ve studied the work of many of the great photojournalists in history, so I would say I’m an admirer. I don’t call myself a journalist, only a photographer. I’ve done a few journalism assignments over the years but it’s not my career. I’m connected to it now as a freelance photo editor, curator, and community builder.

To connect with Paul please email him at paulbellinger@gmail.com

This Week in Photography: Make America Great Again?

 

 

 

I’m keeping it short today.

(For real this time.)

 

 

 

I’m currently on my 4th coffee, at 11am, because I didn’t sleep well.

My daughter climbed into our bed, in the middle of the night, as she’d had a bad dream.

Right now, she’s sprawled on the rug, just outside my bedroom door, lounging in her pink, Hello Kitty pajamas.

(It’s a snow day. Again.)

It’s disorienting, as if I’ve traveled back to March 2020, when all of us were on top of each other, 24/7.

Remember that time when you didn’t go anywhere for a year?

(I sure do.)

 

 

 

 

If it weren’t for the pandemic, having the kids home today, happy, while snow glimmers on the ground outside, would be the best thing ever.

Who doesn’t feel nostalgia for snow days?

Staying home from school.

Sledding.

Drinking hot chocolate.

Watching bad re-runs on TV.

(The Brady Bunch, The Munsters, ChiPs, Leave it to Beaver, The Addams family, The Andy Griffith show… man, did they some have cheesy programs, back in the day.)

 

Image courtesy of TV Guide

 

But just as 9/11 was the seminal event for Generation X, cleaving reality into the before and after times, the last two years have been exactly that, for much of the world.

A turning point, where everything seems to have changed, and both new and old rules apply.

Look no further than today’s news to know it’s true: Russia just invaded Ukraine, with a goal of occupying and then assimilating a separate country, the first step in re-building the Soviet Empire, under Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

Everyone keeps writing it’s the biggest European invasion since WWII, so the expectation of national sovereignty, which was taken for granted for decades, is no longer realistic.

 

 

Yet conservative Americans, the ones who drove the Red Scare under Joe McCarthy, are now actively siding with Russia, against their own country, because Vlad represents the AlphaChristianWhiteMale, and they all want to be like him.

He’s physically tough, personally ruthless, fabulously rich, answers to no one, hates everyone who’s different, and takes what he wants, when he wants to.

That’s as old school as it gets, and when half of America prefers the dictator model to a democratic republic, we are in deep shit.

(Sorry, guess a lack of sleep has damaged my optimism today.)

 

 

 

 

Or, more likely, it’s that I just looked at a depressing, almost nihilistic photo book. (Though I doubt the artist sees his own work that way.)

“Past Time,” by Paul Shambroom, was published in 2020, by Fall Line Press in Atlanta, and showed up in the mail a year ago.

While it would have made for good viewing then, (with Trump barely out of office,) the fact it marinated on my book pile for a year is beneficial to us all.

Because boy, does it feel relevant today.

 

 

 

 

To be honest, I didn’t “like” the book very much.

It’s well-made, with a strong concept, but wasn’t created to engender happy feelings.

(No sir.)

The book is built around a project in which Paul Shambroom photographed in small towns across America, as metaphors for nostalgia towards our country’s white-bread, MAGA past.

While everyone was talking about what the Trumpers wanted to return to, (a world where they could say and do as they pleased, without worrying about anyone’s feelings; where people of color were a permanent underclass,) Paul went out and documented what those places were actually like.

Make America Great Again?

What was so great, according to the Putin-loving-hordes?

Well, we see a lot of hometowns.

Ronald Reagan.
Andy Griffith.
Walt Disney.
Mark Twain.
Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Norman Rockwell.
Thomas Kinkade.

(It reads like a list of idealized Americans, if your version of ideal is White, Christian and Dead.)

Interspersed with the photographs are historical images, jigsaw puzzles, and even a racist coloring book.

Surprisingly, though Paul Shambroom is a very talented artist, whose work is in the biggest collections, (like MoMA,) and showed in the Whitney Biennial, the image quality here is intentionally scattershot.

Bad light throughout, a lack of high-resolution-sharpness, and a heap of lazy crops.

But with an artist of this caliber, we can’t assume the crops are lazy, but rather the images are designed to be off-putting.

Gursky proved you can take bleak light and make a masterpiece, but I think the anti-aesthetic here is being used on purpose, as a way of showing how low America has sunk.

 

Andreas Gursky, “Schiphol,” courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

How sad are its quaint little towns, the places people wish were still like Mayberry, or Pleasantville?

 

“Pleasantville,” 1998, courtesy of RogerEbert.com

 

There is a well-written essay at the end, by Tim Davis, and an in-depth interview between Paul Shambroom and publisher Bill Boling, and both texts suggest this book is more positive than I gathered.

There is talk of all Americans having the desire for safety, and housing for their children in common, and they mention the book by that dude everyone always references, which states people are safer and better off now than at any point in human history.

I get it.

But looking at this book, I came away feeling like the nostalgia bubble was being popped, because things were crap back then, and they’re still crap.

Not hard to feel that way, after the last two pandemic years, but these images predate that.

They’re more a reaction to pure MAGA, and given how much Trump is cheering on this new wave of territorial aggression, I guess maybe the book has a point.

(I mean, it opens with an image from “Leave it to Beaver,” so it’s not subtle.)

I wanted to review “Past Time” today because not only is it well-built; it has a strong point of view.

It’s an excellent book, even if I don’t “like” it.

It’s bleak, sure, but certainly fits with the 2020’s vibe.

Anyway, sending all the good energy to the folks of Ukraine!

See you next week.

 

To purchase “Past Time” click here

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Angelica Edwards

 

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:   Angelica Edwards

 

This mother wanted her son to have photos to understand her breast cancer journey

Photographer Angelica Edwards met Keyla “Nunny” Reece when she took an assignment to cover a story about hospital parking fees for her student newspaper at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In 2015, Reece, of Hope Mills, N.C., felt a lump in her breast, got it checked out and was told it was a benign cyst. Two years later, she felt an additional lump, this time under her armpit, while simultaneously experiencing skin blotches and extreme back pain.

In June 2017, doctors diagnosed Reece with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. It had spread to her ribs, lungs, spine and pelvis.

After the initial photo assignment, Edwards contacted Reece to see if she would allow her to document her journey.

Reece was excited to share her story. She said she wanted her son, Ryan, who was 10 years old at the time, to be able to look back and understand what his mother went through as he got older, and she was no longer here.

Originally this NPR story ran in October for Breast Cancer Awareness month and takes an intimate look at Reece’s breast cancer journey through pictures.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

Angelica Edwards is a photographer based in Chapel Hill, N.C. Follow her on Instagram @angelica_edwards2

 

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: Transient Eclipse: Jeffrey Moustache

Photographer: Jeffrey Moustache

Heidi: How did this series come about?
Jeffery: I have been working on this series for a few years now as it has slowly evolved from a separate series I pioneered utilizing flashes and LED lights on drones back in 2015.  It has since evolved into these landscapes just before the pandemic began as an exploration of space, light, color and my involvement with nature.

How long does the set up take?
My setup times are fairly short,  I have become very efficient in preparing for an image, setup of my light sources and creating them in the field takes a few minutes but times to create the final image range anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour total depending on which “Light Brush”  I am using: ie; if I am using a large drone, or shooting multiple variations/ locations in one outing.

Are you scouting at night as well?
I typically do my scouting during the day while out on walks or while I’m driving to or from a shoot. I try to take different routes as much as possible to possibly discover something that feels right. I will mark the locations, take photos on my phone, figure out when the best lighting may be, go home and then sketch out a concept in my notebook and go from there. I try to setup to shoot around twilight to capture some ambient and then continue until It’s too dark to see, which can be tricky at times navigating out of the woods or through the fields while trying to avoid holes, puddles, thorns, spiders, anthills etc.

What shapes are the light sources?
My sources are a variation of LED panel lights, tubes and other “light brushes” I have created over the past couple years to achieve different results.  Some are square. Some are large rectangles, others are spherical, I have a couple I can attach to my heavy lift drone and fly, others are color changing.

Is this commission or personal work?
As of now this has been a personal endeavor which I have began to intertwine with commissioned work when applicable.

Will you continue this series?
Yes, there is a larger gallery here but even that is a small portion of the collection that has been created and continues to grow and evolve.

Featured Promo – David Zickl

David Zickl

Who printed it?
Rebekah Smithson at My Clear Story
https://myclearstory.com/
rsmithson@myclearstory.com
(858) 526.3600

Who designed it?
Richard Haynie : he’s designed a few books for me over the years.
http://www.hayniedesign.com/
(480) 734-4371

I think it’s important to note that 50 year Grand Canyon veteran guide, author, boat builder and Grand Canyon historian Brad Dimock contributed the opening. He’s story teller and gives great interviews.
https://fretwaterboatworks.com/
(928) 853-2007

Tell me about your promo.
I’ve been working on this project for 8 seasons in the Grand Canyon. I didn’t plan on it. It just sort of evolved once I discovered that I could hold on, stay in the boat and shoot the drama of these veteran rowing in the biggest whitewater in North America. I’ve been perfectIng the equipment and my technique on each trip.

These days I use a Sony A7 R III with an Aquatech Housing.

Most rapids have 8 to 15 seconds of high drama and I typically shoot 50 to 150 frames looking for one moment. Serendipity and making my own luck play a key role in the outcome.

I spend a whole day with one guide going through a number of rapids just trying to get one image of them.

Now many of the guides I’ve photographed have become friends and they support my project by giving me opportunities. I typically do 1 to 3 trips per season. I usually drop everything when someone calls me to be an assistant on a Grand Canyon River trip.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
One promo distributed throughout the year as needed.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes but I can’t tell from this particular promo. It has generated awareness but not any tangible jobs.

This Week in Photography: Keeping It Real

 

 

Dave Chappelle had a crazy skit.

(On the seminal, brilliant, early-aughts “Chappelle’s Show.”)

 

 

 

It was called, “When ‘Keeping It Real’ Goes Wrong.”

Man, was it twisted.

The gist is, sometimes you dig yourself in so deep, worrying about how you’re perceived, protecting your rep, that you can go down with the ship, rather than saving your skin.

(Or so I recall. I’m posting a Youtube clip here.)

 

 

The skit pops into my mind, because Dave has been in the news again recently, this time threatening to remove $65 million in proposed investments, from the Ohio town in which he lives, because he was opposed to the low-income portion of an impending housing project.

I tried to get the details.

Was it really that it was going to be near his backyard?

Overall, just a bad look, and another picked battle against groups he could just as easily support, if he were still cool.

(Like the trans community. Give it a rest trolling them, please, Dave.)

 

 

 

 

 

Still, a buddy recommended I watch Dave’s most recent Netflix comedy special, so I could see what all the fuss was about.

(I haven’t done it yet, because I just remembered the suggestion now, as I was typing.)

The same friend told me to watch the Italian mafia show “Gomorrah,” since I was re-watching “The Sopranos,” and he thought the former show to be superior.

 

Courtesy of IMDB

 

Speaking of superior, that was the attitude I took with him, in our conversation.

“How could ‘The Sopranos’ not be better? It’s art! One of the best shows ever!”

Mea culpa.

I already sent the apology text, as “Gomorrah,” set in Napoli, (where I once got robbed,) is flat-out-dynamite.

Gripping stuff.

My buddy had implied characters on “The Sopranos” were really caricatures, over-acted or under-acted parts that conform to our stereotypical beliefs.

The killers in “Gomorrah” are more clearly anti-social, but also victims of larger cultural circumstances.

The life is both more brutal, and less glamorized, if that makes sense.

This friend was always telling me the guys he grew up with, in a Mafia neighborhood, were proper hard men.

And that’s how these dudes roll in the Camorra, if this show is to be believed.

They “Keep it Real” for sure.

 

 

 

 

 

The subject’s been coming up a lot for me lately.

Just a few weeks ago, my son began making Hip Hop music on the app Rap Chat, and his younger sister followed.

At this point, the stuff he’s recording is pretty amazing, and I say that as an honest critic.

He wanted feedback, and I gave it, because a couple of his early efforts, (after a charming breakthrough song,) were seemingly written by another person.

Theo rapped about things that were simply untrue, and touched on inappropriate subjects, which did not come from his own life.

(Misogyny, drugs, sex, violence, guns, threatening boasts.)

He wanted my honest advice, so I told him to “Keep It Real.”

Write about your life.

Who you are.

What you know.

While plenty of artists did live “that” life, slinging, from NWA through Biggie, Jay Z and Migos, that was not Theo, and never would be.

 

 

He took the advice to heart, and ran with it.

So here’s a shout out to his new song.

He earned it, by being self-reflective, taking criticism, and then working hard on his craft, 7 days a week, since he discovered the passion.

When you find your voice, in art, it can come in an instant, or in a slower gurgle.

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of “Keeping It Real,” this morning, as I was groaning about being super-brain-fried, Jessie joked I should “Keep It Real.”

Just review a good book; one that didn’t need me to say anything at all.

For something new, just go with:

“Here’s a good book.

Enjoy!”

(I mean, there’s a first time for everything.)

Imagine me, doing a simple, short article and leaving the book to speak for itself?

 

 

 

 

 

I grabbed a book from March 2021, assuming it was about as old as I’ve got in the stack, and sure enough, it connected directly to last week’s column.

(I had no idea what it was about, so it’s just good luck.)

Thankfully, I unboxed “Party Pictures,” a terrific 2020 production, featuring a lesser-known series by long-time Philadelphia artist, and college professor William Earle Williams, published in honor of a solo exhibition he had at The Print Center back in 2011.

I was unfamiliar with the work, but the book offered context right away, both with a compact, well-written, info-dense opening statement by Print Center ED Elizabeth Spungen, and then a longer, academic-style-essay by John Caperton, who’d curated the 2011 exhibition.

The reading set the scene, and also gave historical info about William Earle Williams, as he was a history major in college, who then went on to get an MFA at Yale, upon the advice of his one-time friend Walker Evans.

 

 

 

 

 

If ever there were a book to present, without all the bells and whistles of my review style, this would be the one.

The pictures are great.

The cover is gorgeous, and the writings set up the awesome plates.

Who wouldn’t be fascinated, in 2022, by a stark, contrasty set of images of Philadelphia, Main Line, Blue Blood, old-money-high-society-types, at the apex of their power, in the 70’s and 80’s?

(All made by a young, Black photographer wearing a tuxedo.)

The artist set up a long-term project by sending out introduction letters, getting offers to photograph the parties, and then tracking the scene through the society page in the newspapers, so he’d know where to turn up.

Some affairs crossed cultural lines, but most did not.

Is that Frank Sinatra?
Brooke Shields?
Andy Warhol?

Yes, yes, and yes.

As to the connection to last week’s review, the opening text tells us Philly had, and has, a long history of private clubs, and The Print Center, in fact, used to be The Print Club.

Some were anti-Semitic, so Philly news magnate Walter Annenberg, and his buddies, needed to open up their own clubs, having been rejected from others.

(My jaw dropped when I read it, as I was totally happy to let last week’s issues drop. And then the NYT came out with its own Jewish-cultural-critic-takes-on-anti-Semitism article! )

That said, after the writing, and the well-constructed images, there is also the design to note, as the photos change size, and some layouts create a sense of movement by using repetition.

The end brings us an informative Q&A between the artist and Edith Newhall, a famed Philly art critic, which gives a sense of his personality, history, and connection to his forebears.

(William Earle Williams definitely comes across as a humble, cool guy.)

The caption pages at the back give additional context, (for those who care to keep reading,) and are organized by cute, little thumbnail photos.

What else is there to say?

I loved this book, and recommend it highly.

 

To purchase “Party Pictures” click here

 

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Sandro

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:   Sandro

DEATH IN THE DESERT

In February 2020, the world as we once knew it, ended.   We began to interact with family, friends and loved ones differently because of COVID-19.  First emerging from the city markets in conurbation Wuhan, China, the imposing new city of nearly eight million people, the COVID-19 virus, a highly contagious new strain from the microbial family coronavirus, wreaked havoc with the human body. Coronaviruses range from the common cold to more exotic diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). COVID-19, discovered and identified in 2019 (hence its number), targets the cells of the major organs, brain—heart—liver—kidneys and, most particularly, the lungs.  The lung is immunologically defenseless against the destructive strength of the virus and the lungs are quickly destroyed.  By the end of December 2020, Covid-19 is estimated to claim between 2 to 2.5 million victims worldwide.

From the beginning of time, millions of lives have been mortally affected by this-flu-strain or that-virus-strain.  Recent pandemics that have included the Hong Kong Flu, the Spanish Flu, the Asian Flu, Swine Flu, the Black Death Flu as well as infections linked to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Covid-19 is our generation’s life changing war against microbes.  The contemporary world is suffering the mental, emotional, physical and financial scares and losses of Covid-19.  As scientists, leaders and intellectuals continued scrambling for answers, the death projections will expand deep into the millions.  Fear outlined the mindset of most sensible human beings.  In 2020, all children, all adults, everyone from every country speaking every language, learned to spell QUARANTINE.

 

To see more of this project, click here

Instagram

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

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

 

Featured Promo – Erica Allen

Erica Allen

Who printed it?
Mixam, a friend of mine printed a mini portfolio with them a couple years ago and I really liked quality.

Who designed it?
A friend and mentor helped me decide the sequential order of photos, and I designed the layout in Adobe InDesign. I have a BFA in photography, but earned a minor in graphic design. I am no expert, but I can design simple things here and there 🙂

Tell me about the images.
The images were from various shoots over the past year or so. Many, but not all, were from test shoots. I love the freedom that testing brings and really enjoy collaborating with other creatives in my field to make our personal visions come to life. I work with prop stylists and food stylists on all of my test shoots and believe the final images are very much part of a team effort. I wanted the images in this booklet to tell a story, not just showcase pretty settings. Story telling through food is so interesting to me. Seeing the farm where it’s grown, to the chef turning into something delicious, to the final product, to the table scene where it’s being enjoyed, to the final crumbs of the last piece of pie is thrilling.

How many did you make?
I printed 100 copies.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
My goal is to send printed promos twice per year and email promos four times per year.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I do. I acknowledge we are moving faster and faster into a digital world where printed marketing materials and printed works in general are growing obsolete. This saddens me because I appreciate the tangible. I love feeling the coating of the paper, flipping the pages, looking at it in different light, appreciating the way different types of paper accept ink, etc. I believe there are still creatives in the industry who feel the same way, and these are the people I hope receive my promos. Printed cookbooks and printed magazines such as Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes & Gardens, Food & Wine, and Cooking Light are dream clients of mine. I want the promos I send to resemble the type of work I’d like to shoot, in the format that it would be seen.

This Week in Photography: Personal History

 

 

Jews have been in the news lately.

(A lot.)

It’s not surprising, as Trumpism, and the right-wing in general, have been ascendant the last five years, and those cats are big on hating “the other.”

So while we’ve all become familiar with the term BIPOC, and saw the anti-racism protest movement thrive, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, there has been no concomitant popular movement to combat anti-Semitism.

I wonder why?

 

 

 

 

The Jews are a small ethnic/religious group, relative to most other cultures in the world.

Though Christianity and Islam were both born from our religion, those two groups actively sought converts, over the last two thousand + years, and grew their numbers with purpose.

Judaism, on the other hand, makes it difficult to convert, as we consider ourselves the “Chosen People,” and there has never been an active movement to grow the religion’s population.

So while Christians and Muslims range in the billions, there are only 15 + million Jews in the world, and we’re a minority in every country on Earth, save Israel.

(All because my ancestors, ever the rebels, were dumb enough to stand up to the Roman Empire, and were kicked out of their homeland as punishment.)

 

Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” image courtesy of FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

 

Like Cain, doomed to wander the world with an obvious mark, Jews tried to make homes in other places, ever the outsiders.

And though contemporary culture deems us “white,” and is therefore skeptical of the roots of anti-Semitism, it’s only recently that most Jews have assimilated, dressing and acting as others do.

The Orthodox members of the religion, however, many of whom dress in heavy black suits, with odd haircuts, big hats, and women who cover all their skin beyond the face, (a slight variation on Islam’s burqa,) stick out like sore thumbs wherever they go.

They’re easy targets, as “the other,” and of course before the 2nd half of the 20th Century, (and into the 21st,) most Jews dressed like that wherever they were.

Which made them targets of pogroms, (murderous riots,) ghettoization, and discrimination, much as so many are mistreated today because of the color of their skin, their gender identity, or sexual preference.

 

A Jewish Pogrom in Frankfurt in 1819, courtesy of Wikipedia

 

One would imagine all historically marginalized cultures would band together, but when it comes to the Jews, somehow, we don’t typically make the cut.

(I mean, in the last few weeks, we had the terrorism hostage situation in Texas, the Whoopi Goldberg saga, a Washington Commanders football player telling everyone he’d love to have dinner with Hitler, and a WaPo columnist writing a PC op-ed that seemed to minimize the Holocaust’s effort to extinguish the Jews.)

Not to mention when I went my cousin’s Bat Mitzvah in New Jersey in April 2019, there was an armed guard at the door.

Honestly, before the last 5 months, I don’t think I’ve ever written about anti-Semitism in the column, and this is now the third time it’s come up since.

(Even three years ago, I was joking I’d rather be know as a Jewish-American than a “white guy,” and I’d have to think hard about that these days.)

 

 

 

 

 

From where I stand, all people are worthy of kindness and respect, as long as that’s how they treat others.

It’s easy to demonize certain Red-State cultural traits, (and I have,) but over my decade + writing here, I’ve also attempted to empathize with people who were vanquished in War, and then had to make nice with the victors, as the South did.)

Empathy, kindness and respect are the opposite of hatred, blame, and vilification.

So while I’m under no illusion my column will change hearts and minds, I take this platform seriously, and wanted to challenge the increasingly popular notion that it’s OK to dislike, or denigrate Jews, because we “run the world.”

Growing up, I heard plenty of big-nose jokes, or pick-up-the-penny insults, and everyone knew which Country Clubs were No Jews Allowed. (Not that we belonged to a Country Club.)

They even had a nickname for it: NJA.

These days, my own brother is as assimilated into wealthy, conservative Christian culture as any Jew has ever been, including all the trappings: Catholic School, tennis, golf, Country Clubs, hobnobbing with Upper Class Republicans.

You name it.

But we both began as a couple of Suburban Jewish kids, raised by the same parents, all those years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

I admit, this wasn’t the opening I was planning.

But I went for a walk, (as I often do to get the blood flowing,) and this is where we landed.

Right before I left, heading out into the white snow, blue sky, and ice-covered dirt roads, I looked at a photo book.

 

Walking in the snow

 

Which one, you ask?

Good question.

 

 

 

 

 

This morning, I went to the book stack, and looked for the oldest submission I could find.

I’ve told you it often takes a year for me to review a book, these days, and sure enough, I found a submission from Carole Glauber, in Israel, sent in February 2021.

“Personal History” was published by Daylight in 2020, and features an opening essay by the Israeli photographer Elinor Carucci, (who’s based in the US,) to give immediate context.

Unlike Rich-Joseph Facun’s book last week, this one sets the scene straight away, and then lets the pictures do the rest of the work, until a series of afterwords at the end.

And what is the book about?

Carole Glauber, a photographer and photo historian, raised her two Jewish boys in America, and I believe she is American herself, though she currently lives in Israel. (I could be wrong, of course, as the book doesn’t specify.)

She used a 1950’s Kodak Brownie camera to document her sons as they grew, which lends a dreamy, soft-focus haze to most of the images.

It’s a look, for sure, and represents a structural metaphor for the way our brains represent memories, which are rarely, if ever, as sharp and clear as a top-shelf lens on a medium format digital camera.

That’s the gist of the book, anyway.

But how does it function?

 

 

 

 

 

Elinor Carucci’s essay mentions her kids are nearly 15, and she’s begun to fret about how soon they’d be leaving the nest, after her 18 years with them.

My son is four months away from High School, so of course I’ve been having similar feelings of anxiety, wondering how we got here so fast?

(Did we though? The first two years of the pandemic felt like 5 years, so perhaps I’ve gotten extra time with him, experientially.)

In Carole Glauber’s photographs, there are time jumps, of course, as her boys go from very young to young men, and I was able to recognize settings like Italy and Oregon, though I’m not quite sure where they were raised.

(The Grand Canyon makes an appearance too. Who hasn’t created extra-vivid memories with their children on vacation?)

At one point, we see a Bar Mitzvah image, and her son Sam wearing a yarmulke.

They do not hide their Jewishness, though when I was growing up, that was still common, as the scars of the Holocaust were still so evident.

One of my Dad’s relatives had a concentration camp tattoo on his arm, and I never, ever forgot that my people had nearly been annihilated.

(To be clear, the one culture in which Jews most assimilated before the US was Germany, and we all know how well that worked out.)

In general, I don’t care or think much about Whoopi Goldberg, and haven’t since I saw her in “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

 

 

But I sure has hell got offended when I read her recent words.

One group’s suffering should make them more empathetic and supportive of others who’ve shared a fate, but it rarely seems to work out like that.

(Again, I’ve written several times I don’t support Israel’s apartheid policies towards Palestine, though I don’t think either side has ever looked good, stewing in their respective hatred.)

This book pulled at my heart strings a few times, but not as much as I anticipated, because I think the concept is stronger than the images.

Photographs made in the snapshot aesthetic can still lean heavily on elements of technique: great compositions, lighting, color palettes, dynamism, and such.

I found these to be OK, for the most part, but rarely more than good.

(With a few exceptions.)

In the end, after the artist’s afterword, each son, Ben and Sam, writes a piece about their reaction to the book.

I was amazed how their differing personalities came through.

One was circumspect and brief, the other hyper-specific, and perhaps a tad insecure, wanting the audience to know he could dissect art, and understand its intricacies.

It really is amazing how it works like that.

Siblings, growing up with the same parents, sharing so much genetically, can sometimes become so different, they can no longer relate to one another.

But I suppose the future has not yet been written.

Has it?

 

To purchase “Personal History” click here

 

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are particularly interested in books by artists of color, and female photographers, so we may maintain a balanced program. And please be advised, we currently have a significant backlog of books for review. 

The Art of the Personal Project: Art Streiber

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:  Art Streiber

 

Late at night, if you look at the houses, streetlights and silhouetted palm trees on our block in Los Angeles, you could get the impression that it’s 1947 – that our street is a film noir landscape.

The houses in our neighborhood were originally built in the 1930’s and 40’s and many of them have retained their original facades: The Spanish bungalow with the red tile roof, the stucco box with aluminum awnings and the traditional California cottage with oversized plantation shutters.  The streetlights are from the 1920’s…single, upright electrolier with fluted shafts and acorn-shaped globes.

And when the fog rolls in, as it does on occasion, the eeriness is magnified.  The shadows are deeper, the moon is brighter and the palm trees are even more ominous.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

Instagram 

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

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