This Week in Photography Books: Jim Jocoy

โ€œโ€ฆit was like the only thing left that made any sense was to try and bash your head against it and hope to wake up somewhere newโ€ฆโ€

 

Unlike other book reviewers, I detest opening my articles with a quote. In all the years Iโ€™ve been writing this column, I think itโ€™s the second time Iโ€™ve pulled out this trope.

Why now?

Well, when I woke up this morning, (Wednesday,) I learned that President Trump had just dismissed FBI Director James Comey.

He had his personal security guard deliver a letter that basically said, โ€œYOUโ€™RE FIRED!!!โ€

It finally happened.

โ€œThe Apprenticeโ€ and the government of the United States of America have finally merged into one massive entity, all in the service of money and power.

Iโ€™m in a tough spot, myself, as I spent a year and a half before the election warning about our now-lunatic-Commander-in-Chief. And given the ridiculous nature of whatโ€™s transpired since he won, I find myself reluctant to continue the barrage here.

It all seems so pointless.

A few months ago, when everyone was talking about how โ€œunprecedentedโ€ this all was, I scratched my head, and asked, โ€œWhat about Nixon?โ€

I even asked my father directly, as Nixonโ€™s break-in buddies were indicted on the day I was born, March 4th, 1974.

How is this not the same, I wondered?

โ€œNo, this is different,โ€ Dad said then, though I suspect heโ€™s since changed his tune. (Though in fairness, he has said for months he thought a 9/11-style special commission would eventually be empowered to look into the Russia mess, leading to Trump’s ouster.)

To be clear, Iโ€™m no sage, as I certainly didnโ€™t predict the Donald would win. And Iโ€™m wrong often enough, so this is no ego-trip.

Rather, itโ€™s the honest admission of an opinion columnist that Iโ€™ve reached the point where the degree of absurdity has exceeded my capacity to ruminate.

Sure, he must think, letโ€™s fire the one guy whoย has the power to indict my buddies. Maybe no one will suspect my motives? And even if they do, at this point in time, there are no human beings alive who can stop me. Soย I’ll just have a private meeting in my office with the very Russian operativesย that caused this whole mess to begin with.

What does a simple, rural, photo-book reviewer have to say that will stand up to a Hollywood-nightmare-plot-gone-wrong-from-which-none-of-us-can-wake-up?

The answer, my friends, is Punk Rock.

I was never a Punk Rocker, if weโ€™re being honest, even though my cousin Jordan caught on to The Clash and all that good stuff while I was still bopping my head to Billy Joel.

My parents would play Donna Summer all night long, as the Disco era and then the early-80โ€™s-one-hit-wonder phase dominated our 8-track, and the car stereo.

I wore my Izod shirts, and let my mother comb my hair like a good boy. I grew up playing sports, in the suburbs, and didnโ€™t even know my parents hated Reagan until I was older.

โ€œJust say no, Nancy Reagan? Ok. If you say so. Good boys donโ€™t smoke weed.โ€

That was me. (Then.)

Punks were true rebels. They stuck pins through their flesh, and wore ripped clothes. Nowadays, Iโ€™m pretty sure you can spend $1000 on a pair of pants that are sold covered in fake mud.

Back then, in the late 70โ€™s, after Nixonโ€™s fall, this country was hanging on by a thread. (Sound familiar?)

And kids responded by throwing up their hands, saying โ€œfuck it,โ€ and then vomiting on each other. Or pissing in their own van.

Mohawks and skinny jeans and a sense that the world was too crazy to change. Political organizing was for squares, man. Punk was about violent music, fighting with your friends, and living with the calm assurance that the grownups running the world were morally and financially corrupt.

(Sound familiar?)

Rather than claim my current ennui stems from a Punk Rock ethos Iโ€™ve never possessed, Iโ€™ll just admit this rant was inspired by โ€œOrder of Appearance,โ€ a new book by Jim Jocoy, recently published by our friends at TBW Books in Oakland.

Iโ€™ve interviewed their publisher Paul Schiek before, and that man, unlike me, is Punk Rock. He lived it, and told us so. He met his buddy, Mike Brodie, (he of the train-hopping punk photographs,) at a party where Iโ€™m pretty sure the pink puke was fresher than the beer.

So seeing this book turn up in the mail, from his imprint, made sense to me. Iโ€™d never heard of Jim Jocoy before, nor did I know this book was about Punk Rockers.

But it didnโ€™t take much time to figure that out. The vibe, the style, and people were all just right. The book, however, denies us any dates, times or places until the end.

Itโ€™s sly, but a sticker affixed to the shrink wrap contains a quote from Sonic Youthโ€™s Thurston Moore, so I guess thatโ€™s the only clue that sets the scene, until the captions.

The book features a look at the original Punk scene in San Francisco in the late 70โ€™s. Mr. Jocoy, like many a photographer before him, was the guy in his crew who liked to take pictures. (Iโ€™m guessing, but the proof is in the pudding.)

These photos, which were recently scanned from nearly-40-year-old slides, feel like theyโ€™ve been rescued from some old age home for Punks.

Can you just imagine?

The furniture would all be ripped. The carpet smelly. The fridges filled with only ketchup and a few stray cans of PBR, and the nurses would give you your pills at random times during the day, just to screw with you.

Someย pictures are sharp, others blurry, and the color palette is vibrant, but not hyper-real. The blue of dyed hair, the ochre of Allen Ginsburgโ€™s man-purse, the yellow of a club wall all feel like they were made in a world of chemical color.

The San Francisco I knew when I lived there, from 1999-2002, was on a roller-coaster ride of consumption and decline. The dot com boom, the dot com bust.

The San Francisco of these pictures was more dire, as there was no Internet. No email. No cell phones. No one to have your back, unless they were standing right beside you.

The photographs donโ€™t scream action. They are more structured than that, though we do have an up-the-crotch vision of a dancer, probably at some club on Broadway. (The caption confirms as much, though I guessed b/c thatโ€™s where the go-go bars have always been.)

Thereโ€™s an overturned car, a dude bashing an ambulance with his head, and a bevy of people passed out from whatever cocktail of booze and drugs they chose that evening.

I canโ€™t say Iโ€™ve never seen anything like this before, as other books by TBW have mined the same broad territory. (Rebellious or down-scale white folks. Like โ€œLost Coast,โ€ which we also featured.)

But what I like most about this book is that itโ€™s not broad. Itโ€™s super-specific. These were the kids, and musicians, that responded to 70โ€™s America with disdain, and an arrogant sense of their own righteousness.

They werenโ€™t trying to change the system. Rather, they chose to opt out, in their own way.

These days, we donโ€™t really have that option. Itโ€™s hard to hide when youโ€™re bombarded by information and noise, no matter where you lay your head.

Which is why I opened this review with a quote. Sometimes, we do all want to โ€œโ€ฆbash your head against it and hope to wake up somewhere newโ€ฆโ€

So if youโ€™re feeling that way this week, take comfort. Youโ€™re not alone. And also remember, they got Nixon in the end. Trump might be on top now, but history has a way of flipping the script.

Bottom Line: San Francisco OG Punks, back in the day

To purchase “Order of Appearance” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

Personal Projects: Ashton Ray Hansen

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

Todayโ€™s featured artist: Ashton Ray Hanson

Van Lifeย is a new project I am excited to work on. This project focuses on the lives of individuals who have left their homes to explore this beautiful planet by means of modified vans. These peopleย come from all over the world and are from all walks of life. What wonderful people I have met so far!

Personal Project, Guanella Pass, Van Life, Lifestyle, Colorado, Camping, Mountains, Rocky Mountains,

Personal Project, Guanella Pass, Van Life, Lifestyle, Colorado, Camping, Mountains, Rocky Mountains,

Personal Project, Guanella Pass, Van Life, Lifestyle, Colorado, Camping, Mountains, Rocky Mountains,

Personal Project, VanLife, Kathleen, Greg, Idledale, CO, Colorado, TinyHouseTinyFootprint, Morrison, Lifestyle, Documentary

To see more of this project, click here

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

Jerry Saltz: My Life As a Failed Artist

- - Working

But then I looked back, into the abyss of self-doubt. I erupted with fear, self-loathing, dark thoughts about how bad my work was, how pointless, unoriginal, ridiculous. โ€œYou donโ€™t know how to draw,โ€ I told myself. โ€œYou never went to school. Your work has nothing to do with anything. Youโ€™re not a real artist. Your art is irrelevant. You donโ€™t know art history. You canโ€™t paint. You arenโ€™t a good schmoozer. Youโ€™re too poor. You donโ€™t have enough time to make your work. No one cares about you. Youโ€™re a fake. You only draw and work small because youโ€™re too afraid to paint and work big.โ€Every artist does battle, every day, with doubts like these. I lost the battle. It doomed me. But also made me the critic I am today.

Read More: Jerry Saltz: My Life As a Failed Artist

The Daily Edit – Shea Evans: Technicolor

- - The Daily Edit



Shea Evans

Heidi: How has this style evolved into your editorial and commercial work?
Shea: After building up a small amount of these images, I began to wonder if they might have some commercial applications for product shots.ย  Once I had five or six images to show, I reached out to a creative director I had worked with previously.ย  This was really casual, just over text (her preferred mode of communication), โ€œHey, Iโ€™ve been working with this style recently, I havenโ€™t seen it around before, if you think you might have a client that it would be a good fit for, Iโ€™d love to work with you againโ€.ย  Just so happened that she was looking for a new style to match an imminent project.ย  We ended up working together to craft four images for her client in this color shadow style.ย  The end client was thrilled with the unique look and used the images as large storefront window posters.

What type of feedback are you getting from the personal body of work?
Iโ€™d say the feedback has been positive.ย  Certainly, with this type of work, the reaction has usually been โ€œwhoa!โ€, but part of that is because itโ€™s such a departure from my previous work, which has a very natural, real and organic feel to it.ย  This has none of that.ย  I had a previous personal project, Deconstructed Flavor, that always seemed to excite people.ย  It leads to a lot more interviews than it did actual work (though I sold some prints and did do a commissioned cover).ย  But interviews can be great marketing, so I think if nothing else personal work can help in that way.ย  I donโ€™t think you can really do personal work with an eye to turn it into jobs, itโ€™s just not going to be genuine that way.

How did this style develop?
I started this particular project not as personal work, but more an exploration of technique.ย  I had had an issue on a shoot with mixing color temperatures from ambient and strobe light sources and so I began experimenting with using gels on my lights to try to match up temps, and really just see what my options were.ย  I had only used a warming gel here and there in the past but didnโ€™t have much knowledge beyond that.

Pretty quickly into experimenting though, I started to notice the shadow effects I was getting out of combining gels.ย  And I started to play with multiple gels and subjects.ย  I got completely distracted from my original purpose.

Just on a creative level, it felt good to completely go away from my style of โ€œreal, natural, organicโ€.ย  In this way, my personal work has served as a kind of release valve for built up pressure by being boxed in by my own commissioned work.

What are the brain twisting gear elements you are referring to in your comment?
The shadows themselves are related to lights and gels you choose to use.ย  Thatโ€™s pretty obvious.ย  What isnโ€™t obvious though, is that the color of the shadow is related to the gel of the opposing light, not the one casting the shadow.ย  Also, depending on what combination of gels you use, that affects the color combination of shadows, change one gel out and the one that remains will also be affected and wonโ€™t be the same shade in the new image.ย  In addition to this, power in your light source has a great effect on the color, from a deeper color to a more pastel depending.ย  On top of this, some gels are denser, requiring more or less power from a light, so any change involves this total recalibration of your lighting setup to achieve a balance.ย  Then thereโ€™s the middle shadow to consider.ย  If you have an image where the shadows overlap, that creates a third color/shade or shape element.ย  How do you want that to look?ย  Then thereโ€™s the shape of the shadows themselves, long or short?ย  How can you turn the subject to get a more interesting shadow or a less interesting one?ย  Is that shadow too distracting?ย  Is it too small?ย  This work has a much more fine line between โ€œCool!โ€ and โ€œCrap!โ€ than Iโ€™m used to working with on my more โ€œnormalโ€ tabletop food work.ย  On the other hand, it makes it that much harder for someone else can replicate.ย  Lately, it feels like everyone can offer a โ€œwindow-lit looking food/product beautyโ€ so it feels good to have a difficult shot like this in my offering to clients.

How do you see this work influencing your current brand and style?
I donโ€™t know if it represents a departure point as much as a branch.ย  Iโ€™m not evolving into a new style so much as adding something to my toolbox.ย  Any photography is partially about light and how you use it.ย  I love playing with big soft light and also really hard light and everything in between.ย  I think this is just another option and an expansion of that knowledge of how to use light.

Are you concerned about having too wide of a range with your style and becoming fractured?
A little?ย  Certainly, it is a little hard working this into the rhythm of my larger portfolio book since it looks is so different.ย  On the other hand, Iโ€™m running a business.ย  Iโ€™m a photographer but what I sell is products.ย  Before this shoot, my products were, โ€œeditorial food beautyโ€, โ€œfood lifestyleโ€, โ€œportraits of people in the food industryโ€, โ€œenvironments in the food industryโ€, โ€œproduct in the food industry in a natural settingโ€.ย  This simply adds โ€œproduct in the food industry in a DYNAMIC UN-natural settingโ€ to that list.ย  Itโ€™s still under the umbrella of food/product and I think if I keep it like that, Iโ€™ll still be โ€œnichedโ€ while really being able to keep my options open for clientโ€™s needs.

How do you decide what style to use?
I think that simply comes down to client preferences.ย  What look do they want for their product?ย  This could simply be another look I could give them, but of course, Iโ€™d be happy to continue with the โ€œnatural lookโ€ as well.ย  Iโ€™m not in this to force my artistic vision on the world.

The Daily Promo: Elizabeth Cecil

Elizabeth Cecil


Who printed it?

ย Hemlock Printing

Who designed it?
Claire Lindseyย 

Who edited the images?
Melissa McGill ย 

How many did you make?
ย 100. Each booklet is 22 pages. The inside pages are recycled paper and the cover has a matte, soft-touch finish.

How many times a year do you send outย promos?
ย 2-3 times a year

Are you booklets seasonal?
When we decided to create this small booklet for a promo, we went into the project planning to do a small series. We have done three booklets, Fall, Summer, Winter/Spring. It was fun to think about the booklets in a series and to tailor the work to somewhat represent the season. We did a small run with the intention of really targeting our audience with this special piece. We had great feedback, one being that people have kept the books. We hoped that they would stay with people and create a little visual library of the work.ย 

This Week in Photography Books: Sigrid Ehemann

 

“If you build it, they will come.”

Has such a line ever been uttered in the history of cinema?

How is it possible that one tiny part of an 80โ€™s baseball movie, (when no one even cares about baseball anymore,) could have become a mantra for so many varied things in the ensuing decades.

Sure, โ€œField of Dreamsโ€ had both James Earl Jones and a peak hotness Kevin Costner, but Iโ€™d argue that one line is more meaningful than the plot of the entire film.

Ghosts coming back to play baseball?
Sorry.
Not remotely plausible.

But that one line, rather than just being a movie quote that nerds like to bandy about, is a philosophical conceit that can apply to life itself, industry, creativity, you name it. (For pure quotability, itโ€™s always โ€œCaddyshack.โ€)

If you build it, they will come presents the idea that sometimes, you have to commit to something before you know if it will work. Or even ever come to exist.

Itโ€™s like, are you the kind of person who would move to a new city without a house or a job, or does that seem unimaginable to you?

Are you willing to self-finance your next photo project, because you believe in yourself, or do you only do something once the funding is in place first? (Grant, commission, sales, whatnot.)

Iโ€™m thinking of such things, having recently returned home from the New York Portfolio Review, which is produced by the New York Times Lens blog, and is held each April at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, just up the block from the Times Building, near Times Square. (Shout out to the excellent CUNY hosts.)

Iโ€™m going to write about the best work I saw in the coming weeks, but straight off, I have to tell you guys that in a day and a half, I was able to look at work from photographers on five Continents.

Thatโ€™s all of humanity, save for Australia.

Iโ€™ve reported here before that James Estrin, David Gonzalez, and the Lens team work very hard to build a diverse event. Their outreach efforts are extensive, and result in the most well-mixed room Iโ€™ve ever been in.

Ever.

Itโ€™s like the 7 train of photographic talent, and I actually paid my own way to get there. Because I think itโ€™s that important to get the chance to hear stories from such varied places, filtered through the lens of such capable photographers. (And videographers, these days.)

The review is free, and the NYT carries serious weight, so you get people applying from everywhere, and even the breadth I encountered was less than in past years, I was told, as multiple photographers had visa issues under the Trump administration.

If you build it, they will come.
You put the intention out there, and see what follows.

Iโ€™ve told you guys many times that this column is now user-supported. What I get, I can write about.

And I recently lamented that so much of the column had been about historical projects or heavy political issues of late. I practically begged for someone to send me the kind of thing I often got at photo-eye.

Self-published, or small batch.
Funny. Absurd. Reacting to lifeโ€™s surreality with a dose of the ridiculous.

Send me something like that, I asked.

And wouldnโ€™t you know it, but โ€œBruno is a Celebrity,โ€ a new, self-published 2017 offering from Sigrid Ehemann, from Dusseldorf, Germany, turned up in the mail this week.

Thank you, Sigrid.

Iโ€™ve been waiting for this for some time now. I love great production values as much as the next guy, and praise them often. But Iโ€™m a Marshall McLuhan acolyte at heart. (The medium is the message.)

Some books need to be slick, and some donโ€™t. This one looks like it could have been made at a high end Kinkos. Itโ€™s bound like a book report circa 1997, if you were really trying to impress your teacher.

Except for the pink on the cover, which adds a touch of whimsy. (Kooky colors inside too.)

It quickly becomes evident that Bruno is a small dog. Iโ€™d call him ugly, but then I know people think chihuahuas are cute too, so Iโ€™ll accept he might be adorable.

The book is broken up with text pages, in all caps, that are of-the-moment-critical of our contemporary-digital-narcissistic-Trumptastic-surveillance-state-NOW times.

Itโ€™s nominally about Bruno, (also a Sasha Baron Cohen alter ego,) but is really about all of us.

HE BEFRIENDS HIS OWN IMAGES ON TWITTER
HE CURATES HIS OWN BREAKFAST
HE LOVES HIS CHAINS & LEATHER BANDS (Well, that one actually makes sense.)

I could quote most of the text, because itโ€™s funny in the OMG-this-is-actually-happening-kind of way. Itโ€™s resigned to our Trumpian moment, but also manages to say Fuck You while still being irreverent.

Humor does that.

Other than just being silly pictures of cute, little Bruno, (who has 5,475,127 followers on Instagram,) there are also strange, appropriated-looking images. Like the preacher hands or the celebrity singers.

Others, of dog toys, seem like they could have been shot for this book.

I love this thing, because it feels hot off the presses. Because it is hot off the presses. Rather than just being one more set of opinions on a screen, (like this one, I know,) itโ€™s a bound group of pictures and words.

A book.
Old school.

When a man gets to be President who bragged about grabbing women by the pussy, why canโ€™t a photobook say, about a dog, for crying out loud, โ€œBruno loves to fuck beautiful bitches.โ€

2017 is definitely that kind of moment.

Later, on another text page, we see

HE HAS MET DONALD TRUMP & HIS FAMILY
DONALD TRUMP IS SUCH A WONDERFUL ICON
HE LOVES THE PRESIDENTS HAIR & DANCE MOVES
HE ADORES THE PRESIDENTโ€™S CURRENT WIFE
HE LOVES PRETTY SPICY, THE PRESS SECRETARY

This book is about Bruno.
And it isnโ€™t.
It manages to push ideas, and critique culture, while also having fun in the process.

Kudos, Sigrid.
Keep up the good work.

Bottom Line: A fun, cool, silly self-published book about Bruno

To purchase “Bruno is a Celebrity,” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

Personal Projects: Evan McGlinn

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

Todayโ€™s featured artist: Evan McGlinn

I was originally asked to travel to Newtok, Alaska for a major US clothing company that wanted to rebrand itself as being an environmentally savvy and green. I was told to write a story and takeย dramaticย photographs to document how Newtok, Alaska was sinking into the sea because of rising global temperatures and melting permafrost.

When I submitted the story and the photographs, the CEO of the company thought it was too depressing and she requested that I remove any mention of “climate change” from the article.

I asked that my name be taken off the article.

Many of my pictures – the ones showing garbage strewn about the town and muddy seawater amongst crumbling wooden boardwalks – were omitted from the story.ย โ€œDonโ€™t you have any images that are happier?” I was asked.

No I do not.

The situation in Newtok is more dire than my photographs could possibly convey and I have posted the original draft of my story on my website so that people can understand what is happening all across Alaska and the northern part of the globe. Similar stories are playing out in the Solomon Islands and other coastal regions of the world. We ignore these stories, and these images, at our own peril.

To see more of this project, click here

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

The Daily Edit – The Hollywood Reporter: Christopher Patey

- - The Daily Edit

The Hollywood Reporter

Creative Director:ย Shanti Marlar
Photography&Video Director:ย Jennifer Laski
Deputy Photo Editor:ย Carrie Smith
Photo Editor: Kate Pappa
Photographer: Christopher ย Patey

Heidi: What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Chris: This shoot came in last minute (as they often do) so there wasnโ€™t a ton of direction from the magazine in this case. Kate Pappa was the assigning editor. I received an email and a text from her on Thursday morning at 10:30 to see if I was available to photograph Carmine Caridi on Friday afternoon. Kate then gave me a quick rundown of Carmineโ€™s story so I could get a good grasp on the tone that they were looking for in the photography. However, due to the time constraints, Kate had to work fast to find an affordable location that was easy for our subject to get to. Our first option fell through and we ended up at a restaurant/lounge at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. With no time to scout, we basically had to get to the location 2 hours before the shoot and figure it out.

What tools do you use when you are covering a subject thatโ€™s been in a difficult situation? How do you get the shoot started?
A handful of small things get tweaked for instances like this. Having a bit of a quieter set with a smaller crew definitely, helps keep the environment feeling intimate. Our photo crew was just me, Kate, a photo assistant, and a groomer. The writer was also there to interview Carmine after the shoot. We also keep the music and our conversation toned down. In situations where Iโ€™m shooting somebody related to a sensitive or emotional story, I try to speak with them for a little bit before we shoot to establish a bit of a rapport with them and also get a feel for how they would be comfortable being photographed. However, a subject like Carmine has been around the entertainment business for a long time so I know he just wants to come in, have his picture taken, and be finished as quickly as possible. Once he gets on set itโ€™s all business. I quickly introduce myself and explain my plan and the different setups Iโ€™d like to shoot. If he and his publicist are on board then we get right to work. I showed him where and how I would like him to sit and weโ€™re off. I canโ€™t remember for sure but I think he forwent being groomed too.

You caught some unguarded moments in these images, was your conversation about his departure from the film academy?
There wasnโ€™t much conversation between him and I during the shoot. Mostly just direction. I gave him different eye lines and tweaked small things with posing and posture. He knew exactly why he had come there that day and the gravity of the story was definitely on his mind which showed on his face. The writer, Scott Feinberg was also on hand and was stepping in at small windows of time to get his conversation with Carmine going between my setups. That helped keep him in that frame of mind throughout the session.

Outtakes from the shoot

How did you set the tone for the shoot?ย 
I did not speak with him directly about the story because I didnโ€™t want to insert myself into the writerโ€™s interviewing process. If I start asking him about details of the story right before his interview it could make him feel like heโ€™s repeating himself when Scott started his line of questioning. In that situation, I felt like it wasnโ€™t my place and I didnโ€™t need that interaction to make the picture I wanted to make.

ย I simply made sure to have my setups dialed in with solid test frames of my assistant to give Carmine a good idea about how the photo was going to look. The combination of the moody light and the standard dead-gaze of a seasoned photo assistant were perfect to portray the vibe I was going for. It was also necessary to be as ready as possible when he arrived so we could get everything we wanted in the short amount of time we had. There wasnโ€™t a moment to waste on moving lights once we got going.

Was the reflection from the desk a hint at self-reflection or a happy accident?
The reflection on the table was something I found during our pre-light. I originally just wanted a shot with a bit of a longer focal length with some tables in the foreground to give the picture some depth. After a few tests at different angles, I found the reflection and I felt like it added something important to the fairly dark picture so we ran with it. I would love to say the idea of self-reflection was in my head when we were setting it up but honestly, that hadnโ€™t crossed my mind before deciding to do it.

The Daily Promo: Kate Mathis

Kate Mathis


Who printed it?
GHP Media

Who designed it?
Jaspal Riyait, Design Director for Martha Stewart Living, who designed the book that this image was created for. She came up with all of the great graphics ideas, how they would work with the folds and appear inside the clear envelope.

Who edited the images?
This was self-edited, with some feedback from creatives in the industry. I had been wanting for a long time to do a promo in some kind of fold-out poster format and thought that images from this project would be perfect. Ultimately I went with a single image, with the reverse side being text and graphics only.

How many did you make?
2000

How many times a year do you send outย promos?
At least twice

Was this image part of a bigger series?
This image is from a book project I did with Livia Cetti who is an amazing botanical stylist and crafter of paper flowers. Titled โ€œThe Exquisite Book of Paper Flowers”, it was just released this month. Each chapter features beauty shots of a different flower along with complete instructions for making. The image I ended up using for the promo was one of many that we shot in a gorgeous, abandoned building in Hudson, NY that is in a beautifully distressed conditionโ€ฆ peeling paint, cracked plaster and rich color everywhere!

ย ย 

This Week in Photography Books: Per-Anders Pettersson

 

Well, this is embarrassing.

I could pretend it didnโ€™t happen, I suppose. That would be the smart move.

Instead, Iโ€™m going to admit that I just got two completely different artists confused. Sure, that happens sometimes. But when you tell one person you like their work, when youโ€™re really thinking of another, you should probably keep that to myself.

But since when do I do the conventional thing?

When I recently got an email from Per-Anders Pettersson about his new book, I conflated him with Anders Petersen, whose books Iโ€™ve reviewed in the past.

Sure, theyโ€™re both Swedish, and their names are nearly identical, but still, thatโ€™s definitely a party foul.

My bad.

I didnโ€™t even figure it out until I began leafing through the excellent new book, โ€œAfrican Catwalk,โ€ by Per-Anders Pettersson, recently published by Keher Verlag. Once I started flipping through the pages, it didnโ€™t take me long to figure out something was amiss.

Anders Petersen typically makes edgy, black and white pictures of drunks at the bar. Iโ€™ve seen a few of his projects, including his partnership with JH Engstrom. The pictures are unflattering, and unsparing, but very engaging.

This book, on the other hand, featured extremely colorful photographs of various fashion weeks in Africa, shot over a number of years. I scratched my head a few times, trying to figure it out.

For context, just yesterday, I forgot my cellphone at home and had to drive all the way back to get it, then I got out of the car without putting it in Park, and finally, later in the day, I sat on my favorite sunglasses and broke them.

In other words, Iโ€™m not exactly operating at maximum efficiency these days, as my brain is more compromised than Jim Comeyโ€™s moral compass.

So, Per-Anders, my apologies.

It wasnโ€™t until I went to the book shelf, and picked up an Anders Petersen production from MACK, that I figured out where Iโ€™d gone wrong.

Because while that Swedish photographer is known for capturing the downtrodden, in all their liquored-up glory, this book came from a far more optimistic and empathetic place. Itโ€™s all about documenting, and publicizing, the grassroots fashion scene in Africa.

With respect to the pictures here, thereโ€™s not much I can say that the jpegs below wonโ€™t tell you. The book is filled with cool, well-made, fascinating, behind-the-scenes photographs of a culture none of us would likelyย penetrate. (As Mr. Pettersson is based in South Africa, he has home court advantage.)

And despite the evident glamour, the essays within indicate there is a massive DIY element to the various fashion scenes. This is an art movement of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Whatโ€™s not to like?

Thereโ€™s a quote in one of the essays, by a UN Ethical Fashion executive Simone Cipriani, in which he says, โ€œAn African designer is similar to an artist, insofar as he or she smells the wind that blows among the trees of society. African fashion tells the story of society: its positivity, creativity and capacity to do a great deal with scarce resources.โ€

Personally, Iโ€™d quibble with saying designers are โ€œsimilarโ€ to artists.

They are artists.

As such, this book basically codifies the energy driving these thriving scenes. There is not a lot of money to be made in African fashion yet, weโ€™re told, but the market is being built over time.

The marketplace came up several times in the writing, which is not surprising, as fashion is also a highly capitalistic venture. Thatโ€™s the part that people tend to focus on the most: the money. (We canโ€™t really think of fashion shows without imagining the wealthy, famous folks occupying the front row.)

This book, however, celebrates makers. It highlights talented, committed people who are working hard, far from the international spotlight. We get to see the team-work inherent in this field, and I suppose ogle some beautiful people in the process.

Basically, this is a very cool book that shows us things we havenโ€™t seen before. Itโ€™s stylish, colorful, dynamic, and very well-produced.

Good thing they canโ€™t knock off photo-books at Zara, or this one would be churned into a fast-fashion equivalent in no time.

Bottom Line: Excellent, positive book highlighting African fashion

To purchase “African Catwalk,” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please email me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

 

Personal Projects: Kevin Arnold

- - Personal Project

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 new revised thread, Iโ€™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; Iโ€™m just featuring projects that I find. Please DO NOT send me your work. I do not take submissions.

Todayโ€™s featured artist: Kevin Arnold

A Farrierโ€™s Craft โ€“ Artist Statement from Kevin Arnold

Iโ€™ve always loved to shoot people engrossed in an activity. I like the raw emotion that I can capture. When I was younger I was drawn to shooting adventure sports for this very reason: there was always an opportunity to capture a variety of genuine human feelings. Whether determination, fear, joy, contemplation, exhaustion or something more ephemeral, I found that these emotions lived close to the surface when people were stretching themselves mentally and physically.

Over time Iโ€™ve become more interested in finding this emotion in other facets of life, as well. The key, for me, is that the person Iโ€™m shooting is fully invested in what they are doing. And no one is more devoted to his or her movement than a truly skilled craftsperson. You can see the depth of their expertise, their skill and the years they have invested in their craft not only on their face, but also in the efficiency of their body and the movement of their hands. I love the challenge of trying to capture that deeply instilled choreography in a photographic image.

My eldest daughter has been riding horses for many years, and we now own our own horses and barn. But I can still remember the first time I watched the farrier at work. At the time, I didnโ€™t even know what a farrier was, and I was astounded at the timelessness of his craft. The horseshoes, the wooden bench and leather chaps, the tools, the kiln – the anvil! Itโ€™s Old World, having stood the test of centuries of technological revolutions. Working by hand with each horse to sculpt their feet and shape each shoe to complement their stance and gait is still the way to get the job done. It is a craft that is as needed today as ever, yet is refreshingly untouched by modern technology. Dave wears his experience in his hands and face, and I knew the first time I saw him at work that I would need to photograph him.

I did the shoot in the winter โ€“ it happen to be one of the coldest days โ€“ because I knew that the steam from the hot shoes and the horseโ€™s breath would add a quality that just wouldnโ€™t be there on a warm summer day. There is a sense of dedication and old world charm in the black and white moody imagery, that for me matches the farrier craft so well.

To see more of the personal 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 @SuzanneSease.

Drone Imagery from Archeologists in Jordan

 

For my seventh birthday, my parents took me and a few friends to the movies.

In case youโ€™re GenZ, โ€œthe moviesโ€ was a physical place, a theater really, where youโ€™d go to seeย films and buy candy. These moving pictures would be projected onto a very large screen, and youโ€™d watch the movie, in its entirety, in the company of total strangers.

Weird, right?

โ€œRaiders of the Lost Arkโ€ was such a big deal at the time, itโ€™s hard to come up with a contemporary cultural parallel. Maybe if Drake and Rhianna had a son, Raptor, who grew up, was in a band with Ivanka Trump, and they had an affair, which led to another child, (the one born to Raptor and Ivanka Trump,) who grew up to be President.

Like Harrison Fordโ€™s Han Solo, his Indiana Jones reeked of charisma. It was the old Hollywood story: people either wanted to do him, or be him.

And Indiana Jones, in case you are under 20, was actually an archaeologist.

A scientist, for Godโ€™s sake.

He was a classic cinematic hero: handsome, dashing, brave, he could fight, had a trademark bull whip, and battled Naziโ€™s for a treasure bestowed by God himself: the lost ark of the covenant.

There must have been thousands of young boys who grew up in the 80โ€™s wanting to be archeologists. Indy made it seem sexy, and thrilling, and Iโ€™d bet almost anything there are a ton of ย โ€œscholarsโ€ sweating in the field today because of those Steven Spielberg stories.

I almost wish I could ask an archeologist.

What if I could?

Yorke Rowan is an archeologist who works in Israel and Jordan, and he and his project partner Austin (Chad) Hill, have an exhibition currently on display at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. It features their aerial drone photographs of petroglyphs and archeological sites in โ€œThe Black Desertโ€ of Jordan.

I stumbled upon a web description of the exhibit, and the OI was kind enough to put me in touch with Yorke, so I could learn more about the show, and see some pictures.

First things first, when I asked Yorke about my Indiana Jones hypothesis, he threw dirt on the fire immediately, because he said he was too old for the movie to have been seminal.

But he disputed that an archeologistโ€™s job included โ€œgoing in, stealing things, and running from the natives.โ€

The duties are far more mundane, apparently, as he described the work as โ€œtrying to make sense of the junky, broken parts of ancient peopleโ€™s garbage.โ€

Just when I was beginning to believe him, (about the job being over-hyped,) he told me the story about how, back in the 80โ€™s, heโ€™d lived in Egypt, and then traveled on transport trucks down the Nile, all the way to Khartoum, Sudan.

For fun.

As soon as he arrived, he got word, (having called his parents collect,) that he was due in Sicily for his first big dig, so he turned around and headed back the way heโ€™d come.

No.
That doesnโ€™t sound romantic or dangerous at all.

His project partner, Chad, who grew up in the 90โ€™s, was addicted to remote control aircraft as a kid, in Northern New Jersey. His father was into the hobby, and Chad has been flying things since he was 3.

From what I can gather, Chad knows about as much about flying drones as anyone out there. As heโ€™s in his mid-30s now, and began putting 35mm cameras on balsa-wood planes when he was in High School, Iโ€™d say his street cred is solid.

I asked Chad if he felt like a cross between Indiana Jones and MacGyver, and he laughed. But then he said, deadly serious, โ€œI enjoy that description, but I would not actually describe myself as either Indiana Jones or MacGyver.โ€

OK, then. Weโ€™ll play this straight.

Yorke and Chad have been working for years at two sites in โ€œThe Black Desertโ€ of Jordan. Apparently, the aerial view is extremely important in archeology, so photography has always been a key component to the work. At the end of each season, itโ€™s important to chart the changes in the site youโ€™re working, so before/after mapping is a must.

They used to hire planes, helicopters or hot air balloons, which was extremely expensive. This in a field of diminishing resources, as it sounds like academia is strapped for cash, just like the photography world. (Though Yorke was clear to state their support from the Oriental Institute is substantial.)

At one point, when they were working in Israel, Chad had the idea to jimmy-rig a drone, like heโ€™d done when he was younger.

โ€œThis was 2011, and I said, โ€˜Hey, when I was in High School, I did all this aerial photography myself. We could buy our own equipment, put a camera on a model airplane that we can buy locally in Jerusalem, and take our own aerial photography at the end of the season.

We can do it whenever we want, we would have our own control over it, and it would cost us less than one time of getting this professional company to shoot for us.โ€™โ€

โ€œSo we did that,โ€ he said. โ€œThe first year, we bought an off-the-shelf model airplane, and mounted a GoPro to it. I flew it fully manually, as this was not a high-technology drone.โ€

These days, they still use some homemade technology, but DGI gave them a Phantom 3 quad copter, and Chad confirms its ease of use is the main reason behind the super-popularity of drones.

โ€œThe newest crop of drones, you have no experience, you go and buy a $1000 drone. You watch a couple of videos maybe, and you press a button and the drone will fly. You canย intuitively make it go where you want it to, and if you get into trouble, you press a buttonย and it will return to you, and land,
without you having to figure out how to make it land.โ€

โ€œThe barrier to being able to effectively control them has dropped dramatically
in last 5-6 years.โ€ In the old days, he said, โ€œyou needed to know a lot or you would crash.โ€

What first caught my attention, when I looked at the pictures and video they sent me, was the fact that the Jordanian desert reminded me so much of the volcanic fields outside my window here in Taos. The pictures were familiar and exotic at the same time.

Beyond the initial jolt, I was myself entranced by the formations on the desert landscape that looked like Nasca Lines, the famed geoglyphs in Peru.

What could those be?

It turns out, the low rock walls are called โ€œkites.โ€ Unlike the Nasca Lines, which were actual images meant for some deity in the sky, kites are not visual at all. Rather, they were Neolithic hunting traps that run for long distances in a given direction.

The kites, designed between 7000-10,000 years ago, funneled gazelles, like a crude maze, towards an ultimate spot, (or killing field,) where our ancient forebears could hunt with relative ease. Some kites even used the edges of the basalt mesa tops to hem in their pray.

โ€œOne of the things I find most fascinating about the kites,โ€ Yorke said, โ€œis that not only did they take a lot of planning and thought about where theyโ€™re going to go on the landscape,ย and how theyโ€™ll go up the side of a mesa, and spread out on top, using the edges as further barriers so the the animals canโ€™t escape that way, or they fall down the side of a cliff.โ€

โ€œWhatโ€™s more amazing even than planning that, and setting it up across the landscape for kilometers, is that weโ€™ve started to realize theyโ€™re linked. There are actually chains of these kites going hundreds of kilometers across the desert, all of them open to the East, which must be the migratory patterns of the gazelles.โ€

Yorke, Chad and their colleagues did not discover the kites, which were first spotted by English pilots flying mail between Baghdad and Cairo in the 1920โ€™s. But their drone technology makes it that much easier to make photographs of them, which can be used as scientific evidence, as well as art.

They have discovered some interesting things, in particular that huge slabs of basalt were actually roofs on pre-historic houses. The size, and difficulty moving such slabs, implied people spent more time in the inhospitable climate than one might imagine.

This also suggests there was more water there than there is now. One site, the Wisad Pools, is so remote that the team has to take an extra vehicle with them, each time, in case the main transport breaks down. Two flat tires at the same time might be a death sentence, so the archeologists plan ahead, even if the extra car ends up mostly serving as a wind block for the kitchen.

Though the drone technology has enabled this work to exist, and the archeologists to function on smaller budgets, it turns out that the drone revolution is creating some serious backlash. They reported that drones have recently been banned in Kenya, and one of theirs was confiscated by the Jordanian government, despite their previous openness to the technology.

โ€œThe downside in general, is that there areย so many drones, it is not wrong to be concerned about them being used by bad actors,โ€ Chad said. โ€œThose people who donโ€™t know any better. Who donโ€™t think bad things will happen to them using their drone, and donโ€™t think the rules should apply to them.โ€

โ€œAnd one thing we havenโ€™t talked about is that even though lots of these new drones fly exceedingly well, they also occasionally fail.ย They tend to fail at some point, and they can be dangerous. They have fast-moving blades that can cut you, and they can fall out of sky and into people.โ€

I still remember the time my family and I were given a drone demonstration above our horse pasture here in Taos, a couple of years back. My kids were cheering on the little flying machine, as if it were Indiana Jones running away from that huge boulder.

Run, Indy. Run!

But I was pretty impressed too. It made me think of the future, in which weโ€™re obviously living. (Now that flying cars are real.)

It makes one wonder what our ancestors, 10,000 years ago, fresh from a gazelle hunt, might think if flying robots descended from the sky?

Maybe someone will write that one up as a screenplay one of these days? I donโ€™t know about you, but Iโ€™d pay to see it.

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The Daily Edit – Portland Monthly: Michael Novak

- - The Daily Edit

 

Portland Monthly

Art Director: Michael Novak
Photographer: Andy Batt

Heidi: Did you time this piece with the filibuster?
Michael: We didnโ€™t time it with the filibuster. The fact that we went to press right as all that was going down was a fortuitous coincidence which required some scrambling to get the piece online earlier than usual.ย But we timed the feature more generally to Merkleyโ€™s rise as an anti-Trump resister inย theย Senate. We started reporting it right around the time of the Jeff Sessionsย confirmation in February, of which Merkley was a leading opponent.ย Additionally, there was an old-schoolย โ€œstop the pressesโ€ moment onย Tuesdayย during theย filibuster. Though the magazine had already gone to press, we really wanted to change the story to more accurately reflect what was happening in the news, so we contacted our printers and made a last-minute alteration to the story before it was plated.ย Not something that happens often in magazine land!

Did you suspect this would have so much social media impact?
We knew the piece would be timely, but the timing couldnโ€™t have been better. Merkley was already in the news when we posted the story and it snowballed from there. Since we posted it’s been our top story on Facebook, and our second for overall web traffic.

What type of direction did you give Andy?
The starting point was meย simply asking for a portrait that would make Jeff Merkley appear heroic, since the story was about his rise from quiet sideliner to more vocal leader.ย During pre-shoot conversations the work of many photographers was referenced, from Penn to Schoeller to Platon. Andy asked me a lot of very specific questions about whether the shot should be B&W or color, what Merkleyโ€™s pose should be, shirt sleeves rolled up or down, background colors, suited or casually dressed, etc. A fairly thorough examination of possible image directions. And whenย I showed up for the shoot heโ€™d built two different sets, one with a blackย backgroundย for a seated pose and one white background for full body. We ended up using the full body shot for the turn page.

Are most are your photographers regional or do you fly people to shoot for you?
We really only use local photographersโ€”itโ€™s just not budget-feasible for us to fly someone in most of the time. And since Portland has developed into a photographer-rich environment, itโ€™s rare that I need to bring someone in from out-of-town.

How much time did you get with Merkley?ย He’s a busy man.
As often happens with celebrities and other people in the public sphere, we had very little time with our subject, less than 45 minutes total; but Andy and his team did amazing work in a short time. Especially considering thatย Merkley was super sick when the photo was taken. His people requested that we try to make him look โ€œaliveโ€, so with the magic of hair and makeup and good lighting we kept him looking good!

The Daily Promo: Michael David Wilson

- - The Daily Promo

ย 

Michael David Wilson


Who printed it?
It was printed through School Paper Express.
A great company in Upstate New York. Their website has a vintage 1997 feel, but the customer service and turnaround is out this world!ย 

Who designed it?
I designed it with a minimal knowledge of Indesign. ย 

Who edited the images?
I did the editing but had lots of feedback from my partner and friends about how it flowed.

How many did you make?
It was a print run of 700.ย 

How many times a year do you send outย promos?
I am trying to get two printed promos out a year and a monthly email promo. I am trying to target clients that I feel my work might be a good fit for, or clients that I would love to work for, rather than large email blasts. I’m testing this theory this year, we’ll see how well that goes.ย 

Was there a connection to Maine logging and newspaper for this project?
This seriesย was photographed for a show at the Press Hotel in Portland Maine. I was trying to do a project that spoke to both the history of Maine logging and paper manufacturingย as well as the historical nature of the press hotel building as a former newspaper printing hub. This promo was designed in part as a take away from the show and to send to prospective clients. After the promos were printed I made some phone calls and found that likely the paper stock for these was produced, in part, from pulp sourced from Maine timber. Which means some of the woodsmen in this promo may have cut the wood for the paper theirย portraits are printed on. I felt like that really brought everything full circle.

This Week in Photography Books: Tom Atwood

 

Everyoneโ€™s a little grumpy this time of year, and Iโ€™ve bitched about April as long as Iโ€™ve lived in Taos.

Allergies. Ditch cleaning. Windy, gray skies.

Taxes.

It sucks, basically, and each year, I yearn for May like a kid awaiting summer vacation. It never comes fast enough, but then again, I learned years ago that waiting for a future event, in order to get happy, never works out so well.

The irony, of which I am aware, is that Iโ€™ve got it pretty easy. With respect to the global game of life, I was dealt a pretty sweet hand, but still donโ€™t always find a way to win.

Others, here in America or elsewhere in the world, face far rougher challenges than I do. The truth is simply that the world is not fair, and some people face discrimination, or violence, through no fault of their own.

The history of humanity is littered with the corpses of the oppressed.

Part of why Iโ€™ve always loved America, despite our copious flaws, is that one can see a march towards a more equitable society, over the course of our history. There has always been the backlash, (which weโ€™re seeing now with #Trump) but over the course of time, weโ€™ve corrected many of our errors.

Whether it was overcoming slavery, giving women and minorities the right to vote, overturning anti-immigrant legislation, or the break-up of Jim Crow laws, the changes in our society from the 17th to the 21st Centuries have been profound.

The improved rights of the LGBTQ community would have to be considered one of those successes, despite the near-daily-deluge of tweets about gender-neutral bathrooms.

Just now, the morning after watching the finale of โ€œGrace and Frankie,โ€ Season 3 on Netflix, I learned that Lily Tomlin, who married her partner in 2013, said that she had to wait until after her mother died to come out of the closet.

At 76!

She said if sheโ€™d told her mother while she was alive, it would have killed her.

Ms. Tomlin is one of the titular stars of the show, but oddly, she plays a straight woman who was married to a man, (played by Sam Waterston,) who left her because he was gay. And then, during the showโ€™s run, he married his law-partner, played by Martin Sheen.

Sheen and Waterston are straight, playing gay. Tomlin is gay, playing straight. Jane Fonda, easily the best actor of the bunch, has no such sexual identity confusion. And somehow, it all holds together.

To say popular culture has come a long way from Will & Grace, at the beginning of the Millennium, is an understatement. Think about it: back in 2000, if you said the word trans, by itself, people would assume you forgot to include the last two syllables.

Trans-mission.
Trans-ition.
Trans-action.

You get the point.

These days, now that LGBTQ issues are again symbolic of Americaโ€™s endless culture wars, it seems more important than ever to depict members of that community three dimensional.

Itโ€™s vital that people can see flesh and blood human beings, not stereotypical Gay bffโ€™s who never wear pants. (Now that โ€œGirlsโ€ is over, maybe Andrew Rannells will find some roles that are less-obvious in how they objectify his body?)

Thankfully, Iโ€™ve just put down โ€œKings & Queens In Their Castles,โ€ a new book by Tom Atwood, published by Damiani. Now that I only review books by submission, Mr. Atwood was determined to get my attention, as he emailed several times, and then hit me up on Twitter.

He seemed to think Iโ€™d be a good person to look at this book, and frankly, he had excellent instincts. This one is almost-tailor-made for a jblau review. (Thanks, Tom.)

The premise here is not difficult to discern, as Mr. Atwood spent years building relationships, and meeting fellow members of the LGBTQ community. He was allowed into peopleโ€™s homes, into the heart of their lives, and made pictures across a very wide spectrum of contemporary LGBTQ culture.

Before I say anything else, Iโ€™ll admit there are a lot of celebrities in this book. (Some are totally expected, like George Takei, John Waters, and of course Alan Cumming.) The artist, in his opening statement, admits that people like to look at pictures of famous people.

No surprise there.

But it works well in this project, as it mashes up the concept of โ€œcelebrities, theyโ€™re just like us,โ€ which comes from the world of US Weekly, with the promise of outing a few people you didnโ€™t know were queer. (There werenโ€™t many, for me, but I didnโ€™t know Heather Matarazzo was gay.)

Beyond the thrill of seeing what Steve Kmetkoโ€™s home office looks like, (I jest,) what works best about this book is that it studiously avoids over-worked production values. (This is not a book suffused with Liberaceโ€™s ghost.)

Rather, we see a multi-racial group of โ€œregularโ€ seeming people. They have jobs, and kitchens. They shop at Trader Joeโ€™s, and live in trailers.

Theyโ€™re doctors, and social workers, and yes, they work in theater.

Ironically, one of the funniest bits of โ€œGrace and Frankie,โ€ this season, was a recurring plot in which some homophobic protestors disrupt a San Diego community theater play. As they walk around with placards, they chant about wanting theater to be reserved for straight people again.

Itโ€™s a great joke, and in his statement, Mr. Atwood does make mention of the high proportion of gay Americans in the arts.

(Again, no surprise.)

In the past, Iโ€™ve addressed the fact that you guys, our audience, are almost entirely composed of Blue-State-Liberal-Artsy-types. This column, therefore, is often the epitome of preaching to the choir.

But I recently got an email from a regular, Republican reader who assured me youโ€™re not all so consistent in your beliefs. It was a polite note, I must admit, and lacked any name-calling or inappropriate vitriol.

Basically, we engaged in a bit of cross-party communication, which is pretty rare these days.
As such, Iโ€™ll try to assume, from now on, that youโ€™re a more heterogenous mix.

But people keep coming back here, each week, because I spout off a bunch of words, and show a really cool book too. This one qualifies, as its insider access gives us glimpses into normal lives.

Regular places.
Regular people.

Like the gay bartender, from Utah, hanging out shirtless in his trailer. Heโ€™s not glamorous, and in another photo book, in a different context, we might think he was embroiled in the Opioid epidemic.

Instead, we can imagine a bit about his story. Do the guys at the bar know? If so, are the cool with it?

Or rather, does he live in the closet, making off-color jokes about boobs and harlots?

Does he have to pretend, to stay safe?

Without asking further questions, weโ€™ll never know. But good books get conversation started, and this one definitely qualifies.

Bottom Line: A cool, important look at gay Americans in their homes.

To purchase “Kings & Queens In Their Castles,” click here

 

If you’d like to submit a book for review, please contact me at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com

 

Personal Projects: Colby Lysne

- - Personal Project

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

Todayโ€™s featured artist: Colby Lysne

Every fall Project Homeless Connect puts together an amazing event that gives the homeless people of Kansas City the opportunity to come to one place to receive many services that can help them get back on their feet. Among the services available are haircuts, showers, state issued identifications, housing solutions, employment opportunities and a hot meal.

For the past two years I have volunteered to create portraits at this event.

I saw it as an opportunity to give the subjects something they may not have had access to for some time or ever. As I started to make these portraits I realized it was bringing much more to them.

As the project progressed it became apparent these portraits were rather significant to my subjects. For them it was a day they felt hope and direction. One subject walked 4 miles to come back and claim his portrait. After gazing at it for some time he opened his backpack and placed it safely inside a book that was tucked in the middle of his belongings.

I have photographed families that have never had a portrait made together and children that have never had their portrait taken. I have photographed subjects strong enough to flee abusive relationships and others celebrating milestones of sobriety. I consider it an honor.

To see more on the project, click here

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

Chris Buck: The Story Behind Newsweek’s Michele Bachmann Cover

- - Working

On August 11, 2011, Newsweek ran a photograph of Congresswoman, GOP presidential candidate, and tea party darling Michele Bachmann that ignited a media firestorm. The image taken on assignment by Chris Buck earned her the nickname, “Crazy Eyes” and marked a turning point as she went from leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination to eventually abandoning the race in 6th place. Newsweek Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown defended the image choice and headline “the Queen of Rage” as merely portraying intensity, but many felt it was unnecessarily unflattering and sexist. In May of 2013, under investigation for ethics violations, Michele Bachmann announced she would not seek re-election in 2014.

The image also marked a turning point for Chris Buck as he had spent the previous year campaigning photo editors to assign him serious political work and this breakthrough image sent him on a path shooting more and more A-List covers in the years to come.

On November 11, 2011, I interviewed Chris about the cover and he was refreshingly candid about how it all went down. Unfortunately, the controversy had just simmered down and Newsweek was afraid to reignite it again, so we shelved the interview. Luckily, Chris has a new retrospective book out titled Uneasy (https://www.chrisbuckuneasy.com/buy-now) and this image is included so we can now tell the story behind the Michele Bachmann cover. I think you’ll find it just as relevant today.

— aPE

Rob Haggart: I want to start with Newsweek calling you to shoot a politician for the cover. That’s not something that probably happens very often with you, is it?

Chris Buck: Letโ€™s go back to the 2008 presidential election, which I felt was such a special time, because the electorate was ignited in a way that I’ve never seen in the years I’d lived in the US. I was upset about having not gotten any of those jobs. So I decided to do whatever I could, to try to get that work for the 2012 cycle.

Rob: What did you do to try and get that work?

Chris: I put up a section on my website of political portraits. Then I made an e-mail newsletter addressing that question specifically. I featured my shoot with William F. Buckley Jr. from 2004 and had the portrait of him plus some funny out-takes. Then I contacted a number of clients more directly who I knew commissioned political shoots, like GQ, New York Magazine, and ultimately Newsweek.

Rob: It worked…

Chris: I have now shot three politicians in this election cycle for different magazines. It’s all very, very last minute. I’m basically given the heads-up a few days ahead and then I just sit around waiting for the phone call where they’re like, “Go to the airport now!” And I rush off to the airport.

Rob: And that’s because of both the approval process and the scheduling?

Chris: There’s no approval process.

Rob: They don’t have people who approve photographers?

Chris: Not that I know of. I would imagine that it could come up as a First Amendment issue if politicians were appearing to pointedly dictate terms to the press.

Rob: It’s not the same as with a celebrity then? I guess I just assumed it was. Ok, how did the assignment go down?

Chris: Newsweek contacted me, the photo editor emailed me saying, “Would you be available for this?” and he said, “It will be either Sunday or Monday, or on the weekend, we’re not sure.” My schedule was open enough. I said, “Yes, just let me know.”

I put the assistant on hold, got together the equipment I needed and just waited. Then, at the last second it was, “Go to Washington. No, no, go to Iowa. No. Go to Washington. No, no. Wait. Wait. Go to Iowa.” In the end I went to Iowa. We were actually in Iowa for a day with the campaign and then went to Washington the next day, which is where the portraits were made. The scheduling was quite chaotic.

Rob: Why do you think Newsweek hired you to shoot Michele Bachmann? Did they want something besides the traditional power portrait for the cover?

Chris: I’m not going to go into detail about my conversations with Newsweek but I think that itโ€™s reasonable to assume that they hired me for what I do. My guess is that they wanted something a little bit more human and vulnerable.

Rob: They said, “Do your thing.”

Chris: We had a more detailed conversation than that because it is a cover. But, yes, they did say something along those lines at some point. Of course I know since it’s a cover I need to get a variety of shots. I feel a professional obligation that I give them some choices, partly, even to surprise me. Maybe it would be something I wouldn’t think of as my first choice and maybe that would be the most interesting thing. You never know.

Rob: Take me to the shoot. You’re in D.C. now.

Chris: Her campaign team were staying at the Willard Hotel; I met up with Ms. Bachmann and her people in their room. They were pushing for me to shoot there but I didn’t want to, I didn’t like the idea that the space I was going to shoot in was also going to be the suite of rooms where they are spending the day doing their business. It just made me uncomfortable. So, I looked around with the hotel staff and found another space to shoot and rented it.

Rob: How much time are they giving you to do the pictures?

Chris: We were told we’d have a half an hour.

Rob: OK, that’s good.

Chris: I didn’t realize how little time politicians often give, but it turns out that wasn’t bad. With Rahm Emanuel for Bloomberg Businessweek, we followed him around for a day, and they were trying to give us 60 seconds at a time for portraits. And I was like, โ€œThat just won’t doโ€. And after three long conversations, they got me a five-minute block, which they considered very generous.

Rob: Wow, OK.

Chris: So half an hour seemed kind of reasonable. If the subject is cooperative and you’ve got time to prepare ahead of time, it’s totally workable.

We had different setups in this suite of rooms. The back room was a small conference room, so we moved the conference table over, and set up the blue backdrop and some lighting. I closed the drapes so I could see what my model lights were doing. It was now a semi-dark mini photo studio.

The candidate came in a little bit late and then we waited a few minutes for the makeup artist. I went over to chat with her and she was really distracted, barely acknowledging that I was standing there. I was kind of surprised, because at the rally she was very engaged with people. And even when I saw her earlier that day, she was relaxed and happy to chat.

Rob: Did you get a sense at all that she didn’t trust you, or didn’t trust Newsweek, that she thought they had an agenda behind what they were doing?

Chris: I didn’t really know what to make of it. I just thought that she had something on her mind, and that once we stepped into the other room that she’d be engaged and it would be all good. But that’s not what happened.

It’s very important that I have a meaningful or even non-meaningful conversation with a subject as we’re going into a shoot. It’s not necessarily that I want my subjects to be super-relaxed, but there is some basic level of decorum. We’re moving into this space and we’re going to work together on this. A portrait is collaboration, and it’s laying the groundwork for that. In doing my reading ahead of time I try to pick up on little details about them and their stories, so that they know that I’ve done my homework, and I’m genuinely immersed in what’s going on. I think it shows in the work too.

So we go in the room, I have her in the frame, and she is very stiff. I said, “I’d like you to relax, and maybe even if you want to gesture a little bit, we can even talk so you can be more relaxed. I want something more animated with more life.” And she said something like, “I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to look foolish for you. I’m not going to gesture in some way that you’re going to capture that’s going to make me look foolish or awkward.”

Rob: [laughs] Holy crap.

Chris: And she said โ€œI’m not going to be portrayed this way by the left-wing media. I’m not going to let the left-wing media frame me in some way that is going to be damaging to me.โ€ Iโ€™m paraphrasing, but it was along those lines.

I was shocked, because one, it’s amazing for someone just to speak their mind so directly, but two, we had really just begun. And I was asking for something pretty standard, you know? Not to say that she has to do everything I say, but there are other ways to deflect or refigure something without directly accusing me and my client of trying to disparage her.

She also started talking about how when Obama was running. โ€œHe was always portrayed so favorably, and that’s the kind of treatment I want.โ€ I was just… I mean, I didn’t know how to respond to this. And she started talking about specific Time Magazine covers that she thought were unflattering. She mentioned one of Laura Bush. I had never seen this picture, but she described it as a black-and-white picture of the first lady where every pore and line is showing.

And she asks, โ€œthat’s not how this lighting is, right? That’s not this kind of lighting?โ€ And I said, โ€œWell, we’ll show you or your representatives a frame so you can see how the lighting looks.โ€ So we did a few frames so we could show her one that might look good.

Rob: So you showed them a frame to try and get her to relax.

Chris: Yes, and basically what I said to her was, look, Newsweek wants a really interesting picture, and you want a picture where you look great. And I kind of did this gesture of two circles in the air. And I said, you know, Newsweek wants this — and then I added one with my other hand — and I said there’s this other circle, and hereโ€™s where they overlap – like a quarter of each circle kind of overlaps in the middle. โ€œLet’s find this sweet spot in the middle where you can feel confident about the way you’re portrayed, and they’re going to have a really great, interesting picture. Let’s aim for that.

And she agreed. But as we tried to move towards something I realized that, basically she agreed in theory, her attitude was already set. She was already upset and defensive. One of the things I found surprising about the whole thing that it wasn’t one of her staff who was saying, โ€œWe’re hoping we can do something like this with the candidate. Can we start that way at least, and see where we go?โ€ That’s the kind of conversation that usually happens with a handler.

Rob: There are no handlers involved in this?

Chris: Well, there were handlers there, but surprisingly it was the candidate who was fighting her own battle.

Rob: So, you’re four minutes in, the clock is ticking down and you’re arguing with Michele Bachmann. She said, “I’m not giving you anything.” And you’re trying to tell her, “Let’s try and meet in the middle,” and she’s still refusing. So when does this picture happen?

Chris: I’m shooting and talking, it’s just a photographer’s instinct, you don’t stop shooting, at least not entirely. Of course, part of my thinking is โ€œIโ€™ve got to get something.โ€

Rob: And snap, you took the picture. Amazing. So she basically came in super defensive and said “I’m not going to give you anything,” and as she was saying that the picture that you made is the one…?

Chris: I’m not 100% sure, because I’m shooting as we’re talking. But looking at it, clearly she has either just finished talking or she is about to talk.

Rob: Incredible. Then what?

At a certain point her people are like, “Look, she needs to get back on to the Hill to do a vote. We need to leave in 10 minutes.” I’ve learned to be stubborn about protecting the time I’ve been promised because people will happily take that away from you. I said, “Look, you’re not ready to do this. You should leave. Go do your vote. Go do whatever obligations you have. And I hope you can come back later, maybe in an hour and a half, two hours or whatever, and we can do this right. Think about how you might want to do this in a way that we can both be happy.”

Rob: Wow. So you sent her away because she’s not giving you what you need.

Chris: My feeling is it’s much better to come in positive but cautious than to come in negative and defensive. No one looks good when they’re saying, “I don’t trust you.”

Rob: OK, so take me through the second session. What happened?

Chris: I’ve worked out some locations that her handler felt would help the candidate relax. I was wary about shooting outside because it gives us less control, and it sucks up time, but he felt that she’d be more relaxed in a real-world environment. He said that the room with the blue background, because it was small and dark, spooked her.

So that’s what we did first when she first came back, and clearly they had spoken with her and she was much more relaxed. Plus, she had gotten some of her duties out of the way and her schedule was less pressed. Some of the pictures from this next section are much more relaxed, and she looks great.

We shot there a bit, but I wasn’t really liking what I was getting. I was feeling like, for both my client and for myself, that these were looking like PR pictures.

Rob: Right. They’re not cover pictures.

Chris: I still needed to get something that was a great portrait for Newsweek and hopefully point towards something really interesting as a photographer for me. So, we went to this semi-rooftop of the building, and we did some more outdoor shots there. She was a little bit more relaxed but her hair wasn’t looking so great. She had already had a long day and she’s a little distracted now, and some of these pictures don’t have the same kind of focus as earlier. Then we went down to the oval room, and we shot maybe a dozen frames and that was it. But it was really a shame, if they’d given us another 20 minutes; I think we could have found that sweet spot that would have been a great Newsweek picture as well as something that she would have felt more comfortable with.

Rob: So when you’re doing your edit and you see this picture, are you thinking, “Yeah, that’s a Chris Buck shot”?

Chris: I turned in 21 images and I think we did five different set-ups, so I handed in a mix from two frames to five frames from each scenario. I had three favorites. The one that became the cover, the one in that Oval Room that became an inside picture, and then the one I showed as an outtake on my blog.

By the way, one thing I’ll mention to you, is that I did something I almost never do, which is when the shoot was done I let the handler who was there hang around and look over our shoulders a little bit while we were looking at the material. I wanted him to know that what I had said before was genuine, that I really was trying to find a place that both the candidate and the magazine could be happy.

Rob: So he saw all the pictures?

Chris: We didn’t sit and specifically walk him through the pictures because the last thing I want is for him to say something like, “That picture is something I don’t like. I’d rather you not use it.” But he knew perfectly well he wasnโ€™t there to influence the edit.

Rob: So Newsweek orders the high res…

Chris: They order four high res: the praying shot, the one that became the cover, the oval room picture, and then one at the rally.

Rob: Did you know that this shot was going to be the cover?

Chris: No, when he gave me the image order, he said, “We might come back and ask for more.” In fact, on Friday night, he came back and asked for two more. And one of them was one of the rooftop shots and one of them was another shot from the blue background set-up.

I was a little worried because those shots were more conventional and less interesting to me, I was really pleased with their initial edit and I told them so. A lot of people assume that the edit was entirely Newsweek’s doing and ultimately what ran was their choices, but I know if I include something in my edit, it could be used. I stand by my edit.

Rob: Did you have any idea of the controversy that would come after running this picture on the cover?

Chris: I did have some idea, but the scale of it was larger than I expected. They released the cover to the media on Sunday night, so I Googled, “Newsweek Bachmann cover” and already it was on “Gawker” or a site like that. They sent out a pretty high res pdf of the cover. So sites were blowing it up really big, just on the face, and it was already being talked about as being like a controversial cover. Let’s just say, I didn’t sleep very well that night.

Rob: [laughs] You didn’t?

Chris: No.

Rob: Really? You were distressed?

Chris: I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I was pleased they picked a really interesting picture. But at the same time, I’m a human; ultimately I would love it if people liked the pictures I take of them. It’s not my first thought, it’s not my first obligation, but I’m human. I prefer they like it, than not like it. And I understood that she was unlikely to be happy with this choice.

Rob: Then you must battle with that constantly because I can’t imagine ever hiring Chris Buck and not trying to get some kind of moment like that.

Chris: I’m not saying that it’s not fair and that it’s not reasonable. I included it in the edit not only because I think it’s interesting but because on some level I feel that it captures something of who she is, something of her character and something of her campaign. It was one of the most intense and aggressive photo shoots that I’ve ever experienced in my career. So in a way, she helped make this portrait happen. The edit reflects the environment in the room; it conveys the intensity of the session.

Rob: And that’s what makes it an amazing story, but also understand that doing that is what makes you Chris Buck, what makes you a unique photographer. I can name a dozen photographers that will shoot a heroic portrait no matter what happens in the room and so it’s just how you approach photography. It’s who you are. It’s also what makes you an interesting choice, for Newsweek and any other magazine shooting politicians.

Chris: Thanks. I find it surprising that the media is quite happy to write about politicians as being flawed and yet when doing portraits sittings they seem hesitant to go down that line. They kind of fall into the convention of doing the power portrait instead of doing something that might be a little more challenging.

Rob: And, as far as your body of work goes, without the controversy that this cover created does it stand up on its own with the other pictures that you’ve made?

Chris: Oh, absolutely. One of the things I really like about this is that the two pictures I was best known for before this were the one with Steve Martin with the bread hands and the Citibank ad where the dog has fake teeth, so this being my best-known picture is something I’m much more comfortable with. It shows a little awkwardness.

People ascribe an anti-Republican or anti-Bachmann thing to me because of the impact it had in the culture, but it’s not how I feel about it. As a portrait, I stand by it. I don’t champion the right or the left; it’s not the point of this. The point was, as a photographer, to do good work for my client, to make interesting work for the public, and also to reflect, from a subjective viewpoint, what she might be about.

Photographer’s on-set note book for the Michele Bachmann session. Note “throw punch.”

Representative Bachmann accused Buck of submitting a light test for the Newsweek cover. This is the actual light test frame.

Chris Buck’s portrait of Michele Bachmann, as it appears in his 30 year retrospective UNEASY.

Buck’s favorite frame from the Bachmann sitting.

The Daily Promo – Walter Smith Photography + Motion

- - The Daily Promo

ย 

Walter Smith Photography + Motion


Who printed it?

It was printed by Innovation Printing in Philadelphia. They always do a wonderful job. we’ve been working together for 10 years on promos.

Who designed it?
Designed my Marco Chavez at TODA. 15 years and counting working on promos together. The 3rd in a “self-published” series is already in the works.

Who edited the images?
Edited by Edward Buerger, my agent at SIDECAR as well as Marcos and myself.

How many did you make?
1200 cards of each. ย 5 total.

How many times a year do you send outย promos?
Every two months give or take.

I noticed you wrote me a nice note, did you do this for everyone?
We completed this series of promo cards to go out between the larger self-published promos. I wanted the cards to have a lot of white space so that I could write notes to folks.ย  Out of 1000 that are mailed I write notes to approximately 400 people. My hand still hurts. I think it important to acknowledge people with something other than an email.ย  Something funny…something honest. I try not to be a name dropper unless someone asks about clients. I feel like that’s a lot of what social media is these days…..LOOK AT ME…LOOK AT ME! To support the promos and ย the newly printed portfolio I’ve been going on as many targeted appointments as possible. Many with people that are familiar with my work…current clients…past clients…people that I’d just love to meet for no other reason than they do beautiful work. So far 25 agencies and approximately 50 creatives. What I’ve learned from these appointments is an article all its own!