The Daily Edit – Dope Heart Media – E. Mackey

- - The Daily Edit

E. Mackey /Dope Heart Media

Blvck Spades


Heidi: Can you tell us how you made your transition from rapper, fashion designer, and entrepreneur to photographer/creator? All are creative but what was different about photography/film?

Mackey: I have actually always been creative for as far back as I can remember. As I got older, I just found more and more ways to express myself. My transition from music and fashion to photography and video production pretty much came from my time as a marketing director for a club that used to be on South Beach. When I was there, part of my responsibility was to create video content that we would show on the screens that were all around the club. When I left that job, a rep from Remy Martin asked me to continue creating video content for them and before I knew it, I was creating videos for tons of brands and celebrities. Photography came about after about a year of shooting video with my camera. One day I just flipped the creative switch from video to photo and I’ve been shooting ever since.

You have some impressive stats! 4.0 GPA, 8 years in business in 16 countries and 626 projects, how do you stay motivated and inspired?
There was a time that I was homeless when I was doing my undergraduate studies in college. It was a very difficult period in my life, but it did a lot to shape and mold me into who I am. The memory of that experience keeps me centered and the thought of never wanting to go back to that life keeps me motivated to carry on. Overall, I draw inspiration from everywhere. It can be from songs that I hear,Β people that I meet, or experiences that I have. I genuinelyΒ enjoy creating, so it’s easy to stay inspired because my mind is constantly moving and making connections.


Tell us about these fashion images.

Much of my experience with fashion photography came from working with a lot of the ladies from America’s Next Top Model. I have two really good friends that were on the show and through them, I have had an opportunity to work with several more. Once I had access to more talented models, I realized that I really enjoyed fashion photography and actually try to shoot as much as I can.

Where do you hope to be in the next 8 years?
Alive

Where did you photograph these protes images?
The images that I have shot thus far are from Minneapolis and Brooklyn. However, I am planning on making trips to Houston, DC, LA, and Louisville as well. My goal is to document these protests in more cities than anyone else.


Doing this type of work is both documenting and protesting, did you ever feel conflicted about being there with a camera?
I actually consider myself to be an activist. So, I never felt conflicted being at the protests with a camera. My philosophy is that we all have a part to play in this movement. Some angry kid is going to throw a brick through a window, another will burn the building down, and people like me will be there to capture it so that we can not only have historical records but so that we can share the movement with the world and inspire others to act. I never feel conflicted because I feel like this is my purpose.


Did you have any police encounters, if so what were they like?
I have had SEVERALΒ encounters with the police in my lifetime. It comes with the territory of being a Black man in America and that is part of the reason for the protests. We (Black men) are often profiled for absolutelyΒ no reason, and thatΒ has theΒ potential to put our lives in danger. As far as encounters with police at the protests, I haven’t had any. Mostly just asking for directions or showing them photos that I took of them and cracking jokes. However, on my second day in Minneapolis, I was caughtΒ in the middle of a crazy situation when theΒ police got super aggressive and detonated several canisters of teargas. Being trapped in a cloud of teargas is not aΒ pleasantΒ experience at all.

What inspired you to create those videos on insta?
I actually own two companies. One is a lifestyle brand called Blvck Spades. The other is a creative agency called Dope Heart Media. I started creating videos at the start of the quarantine because I thought that it was the perfect time to share content because people were stuck at home with nothing to do but use socialΒ media. My plan was to create video content where I shared a lot of my knowledge and expertise to help other creatives and business owners while growing my following and influence by establishing myself as a thought leader.

This Week in Photography: Black Lives Matter

 

“I am more interested in creating bridges across which we can experience realities other than our own, whether it be those of marginalized people or not.” Eric Gyamfi

 

Eric Gyamfi, “Fixing Shadows” at FOAM

 

Part I. The Intro

 

Yes, it’s another one of those articles where I begin with a quote.

For all columns I’ve written over the years, I’ve only done that a handful of times.

Occasionally, it’s the right move.

Like today.

It was hard to know where to go, in a week like this, because it feels like the Earth is shifting under our feet, minute to minute.

Just last Tuesday, I had a Zoom call with a bunch of my Antidote students, and life seemed at least a little normal.

Not NORMAL, obviously, but we were able to focus on life and work.

Coincidentally, there were folks in Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Oakland, LA and Brooklyn.

Within a day or two, almost everyone but me was living in a world filled with riots and protests.

Just like when the pandemic dropped, it seemed a new reality had been created, fully formed, and it was not like the one that came before.

Oh, by the way, almost everyone on the call was white.

 

Part 2. What to say?

 

I find myself in the odd position of having already written about almost all of the underlying causes of this new reality, in this column, over the last 8.5 years.

Those of you who have been reading all along know that via photo books, exhibitions, and travel experiences, in my opening rants, I’ve covered systemic racism, class exploitation, Donald Trump, and America’s disgusting history of oppression.

All while trying to maintain a sense of optimism about the future of the country, and the world.

And while I’m obviously a Jewish-American, I’ve done the best I can to empathize with, and humanize, people from around the world.

Gay, straight.
Black, white.
Male, female, and other genders.

I do the best I can to keep it real, and check my bias at the door, but given the privilege with which I grew up, I know there are some experiences I can’t “know.”

As a Caucasian in the suburbs of New Jersey, I had safety, security, and could walk into a store, or down the street, without anyone profiling me.

(With my big nose, I did hear Jewish jokes, but that’s not the same thing.)

It was all pretty chill for me in Jersey until 2003, when I was began my MFA thesis project at Pratt, which required repeated visits to my hometown of Holmdel, NJ.

Given that 9/11 had happened only 2 years prior, and that the suburbs were known for quiet streets, simply walking along, minding my own business, taking pictures with an early version digital camera, I became a target of the police.

Twice, I was stopped, and harassed, because I had a pony tail, a goatee, and a camera in my hand.

 

Dirt road

Garage, circa 1720

Junior High School Gym

Neighborhood watch

 

Eventually, my Aunt, who lived in town, reached out to the Chief of Police, and got me an official letter, claiming I was a former town resident, and had his permission to be there.

That alone is a mark of privilege.

But then, a couple of months before we moved away in 2005, I was visiting my Aunt and Uncle’s home, and when we pulled up in front, Jessie and I were arguing a bit, so we stayed in the car for two minutes to sort out our business, before going inside.

After the two minutes, we looked up and saw a police car.

They pulled up, stopped, got out, and approached the car.

By now, I should mention that I had a black Chevy blazer, in decent shape, and the dented back bumper would have been out of their view anyway.

But we had New York license plates, and it was not a Mercedes. Or a BMW.

Or a Bentley.

That was enough, and when they approached, and started asking questions, we told them who we were, and why we were there.

I grew up in town, and graduated near the top of my class. I attended the elementary school that was only two hundred yards behind us.

No matter.

They profiled us as hippies, undesirables, and told us they would not leave until we were let into the house.

I was scared, even though I’d grown up in Holmdel, and knew my family would open the door.

It was a terrible feeling, and when I complained to my Uncle, he said, “Good, I’m glad they stopped you. People like you don’t live here, so it’s their job to keep an eye out.”

People like you.

This is a true story.

And though I still love my Uncle very much, he is, in fact, a Republican.

 

Part 3. Getting to the point

 

I could tell you that my son has been discriminated against in his school, because he’s white.

He had to defend himself in fights, multiple times, and then got cut from the 6th grade basketball team, because it was Hispanics and Native Americans only.

His friends even admitted it to him, openly, because everyone knows that the white kids play soccer.

I’ve felt plenty of racism here too, over the last 25 years, but at least I know it comes from resentment of American oppression.

It’s more what the color of my skin represents, rather than the skin itself.

It represents power, and the fact that America took this territory from Mexico.

Which is why, despite the anecdotes I just shared, I have no illusions that I know what it’s like to be an African-American man in America.

I don’t.

I try to imagine the feeling, but that’s as far as I’ll get.

Even so, that hasn’t stopped me from writing politically here, for years, nor has it blunted my desire to speak truth to power when I can.

 

Part 4. I thought you were getting to the point

 

I want to write more about Amsterdam for you, to joke about the fun I had, and tell you how I almost died.

But it doesn’t feel right.

Rather, I went back through my photographs, to jog my memory a bit, and thank the art gods, I have just the right thing for today.

The opening quote, which I did my best to illuminate from my own perspective, comes from Eric Gyamfi, a young Ghanian photographer who won the Foam 2019 Paul Huf award.

Part of the prize was a solo show at FOAM in Amsterdam, and I was lucky enough to see it, back in February.

(Before the world changed, and shut.)

The opening gallery, with diaristic photos of various sizes pasted to the wall, was kind of cool.

But it didn’t blow me away.

And even after reading an article about Gyamfi and Queerness, in Aperture, I’m still not sure if the artist identifies that way.

But it doesn’t matter.

Because the next set of galleries represented one of the best photo exhibitions I’ve seen in years, and while it was perfect for the moment, (pre-pandemic,) it’s even more appropriate now. (During the protests and riots.)

As you’ll see in the photos, and video, the walls were covered with thousands of portraits of an African male.

 

(If Gyamfi were from here in the US, I’d say African-American, but he is not.)

They’re cyanotypes, which made the rooms a sea of calming blue, but some of the pictures reminded me of post-lynching portraits.

These were not happy pictures.

Nor were they even images of a real person.

 

In a conceptual hook that is not as interesting to me as the results, the artist made composites of himself, and an experimental music composer, Julius Eastman, so they should all be at least a little different.

Like fingerprints.
Or snowflakes.

There were mirrors in several places, so course a selfie-obsessed populace was taking pictures the entire time.

(Including me.)

I’d make sure to take some time to look at the walls, to “see” the art, and then I’d pull out the camera again, and set myself up in just the right spot.

Of all the other people I saw in the gallery, everyone was so busy shooting pictures of the work, (and themselves,) almost no one was looking at the walls without a camera.

At one point, someone even tried to explain to me where to stand, to get the best angles.

 

I have to imagine the artist expected this reaction.

That he wanted it that way.

Because while art often reflects us back to ourselves, this was showing human behavior at a crass, dehumanizing level.

But then again, the subject of the pictures was not even a real human.

Instead, a computer-generated hybrid.

More a stand in for all African, African-British, African-French, African-American men who are not seen as themselves.

They’re seen for the hoodie, or the stereotype.

courtesy of The Guardian

 

George Floyd, for example, was a massive guy. His friends called him a gentle giant, but Derek Chauvin didn’t see a man.

He saw a creature.
An animal.

And he murdered the man, the human, because he didn’t see him as human.

Nobody would do what he did, on camera no less, kneel on a man’s neck until he’s dead, unless he thought he could get away with it.

(And I say this having been in choke holds before, and having applied them, in martial arts.)

That act, (along with the previous thousands, and the recently publicized murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor,) so perfectly represented what it means to be a person of color in the United States.

It means you don’t get justice.

It means the cops can kill you, and people can harass you wherever you go, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

The rage builds and builds.
Gets worse and worse.

And finally, when the match is lit, the fire erupts.

We may hate to see images of looting, it may fill us with dread, or maybe it doesn’t?

Either way, we can’t understand it without at least attempting to imagine how it would feel to be powerless against a system of oppression and state-sanctioned violence.

Of limited opportunities, and shitty health care.

Of insane proportions of Covid-19 deaths, compared to other races.

In the last 6 months alone, here in the column, I asked if China’s imprisonment of the Uighurs was any worse than the millions of African-Americans locked up here in the US.

And I wondered whether our culture, which always values the individual over the society, was in a more precarious position than we realized.

Then, just a few weeks ago, I invoked Karl Fucking Marx, to try to make sense of the naked exploitation of the working class.

I’m no Communist, believe me, but there was no other idea set that could explain that evidence.

It suggested we were on the verge of a Revolution, in attitude, if not in reality.

I’m also no Anarchist, and I’m rooting for the USA to figure this shit out.

To care about justice for all.

To do the hard work of humanizing ourselves to each other. And the Other to ourselves.

So I’m trying it here today.

I know that I’m not a racist, and I’m proud that I try hard to relate to, and appreciate, people from other walks of life.

But then again, I had an Aunt who knew the Chief of Police, and he wrote me a letter of protection.

And I took selfies in that blue room, that psychological experiment that Eric Gyamfi created in Amsterdam, which means I’m complicit too.

We all are.

And if we’re going to get out of this mess, we’ll have to find new levels of respect and appreciation for each other, and our differences.

Because while an eruption in the streets is often the result of generations of exploitation, while it draws attention to injustice, it cannot solve the problem alone.

Nor should it.

We need real change, and new laws. We need to see this as the beginning of a Second Civil Rights Movement, not a Second Civil War.

Stay safe and healthy out there, and see you next week.

The Art of the Personal Project: Karan Kapoor

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own. Β I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before. Β 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. Β Please DO NOT send me your work. Β I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist: Β Karan Kapoor

These images of fisherman bringing in the catch in the early morning at Mafia Island were really a result of waking up before sunrise in the morning and walking down the beach from the little hotel my family and I were staying in. I was not conscious of taking pictures. I was more absorbed with the beauty and witnessing what looked like a β€˜biblical’ experience. Here time seem to have had stood still. I hardly raised my camera…not wanting to intrude and disturb what I saw and felt. The fishermen were oblivious to my presence. It was only on my return to London that I discovered what I captured. Editing was easy as there were not many images at all!

Mafia Island is a tiny island of the coast of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. The word Mafia is actually a Swahili word and is not connected to β€˜Mafia from Italy’.

Shot with a Canon 5DS and 24-70 2.8 lens.

To see more of this project, click here.

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

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

 

The Daily Edit – The New York Times: Michael Kirby

- - The Daily Edit

April 5, 2020 – A man puts on PPE at Montefiore Medical Center Moses Division Emergency Room in Bronx, NY. (Photograph by Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times.)

April 5, 2020 – A shift schedule at Montefiore Medical Center Moses Division Emergency Room in Bronx, NY. (Photograph by Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times.)

April 5, 2020 – Dr. Michael Jones answers the EMS line at Montefiore Medical Center Moses Division Emergency Room in Bronx, NY. (Photograph by Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times.)

April 8. 2020 – Reflections of a patient looking into a tent receiving station set up for possible Covid-19 patients outside the emergency department at Jack D. Weiler Hospital in the Bronx, NY. When patients first arrive they check in at a window outside of the ER. (Photograph by Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times)

April 8. 2020 – Plastic barriers outside the emergency room at Jack D. Weiler Hospital in the Bronx, NY. (Photograph by Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times)

April 8. 2020 – A patient in the ICU at Jack D. Weiler Hospital in the Bronx, NY. (Photograph by Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times)

April 8. 2020 – Dr. Deborah White (right) leads workers in the emergency room with at Jack D. Weiler Hospital in the Bronx, NY. (Photograph by Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times)

April 14, 2020 – Daniel J. Schaefer Funeral Home director Elysia Smith, 38, looks at paperwork taped on the wall of upcoming services in Brooklyn, NY. (Photograph by Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times)

April 14, 2020 – Daniel J. Schaefer Funeral Home director Elysia Smith, 38, and Lily Sage, 25, unload decedents at the funeral home in Brooklyn, NY. (Photograph by Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times)

April 14, 2020 – The Woodlawn Cemetery and Conservancy in the Bronx, NY. (Photograph by Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times)

The New York Times

Photographer: Michael Kirby Smith
Writer: Nicholas Kristof

Heidi: Photographically, how did this challenge you?
Michael: This assignment was challenging for a lot of reasons. At the point in which my colleague, Nicholas Kristof, and I were given access, the hospitals we visited in the Bronx had a vetting system in place to determine who would actually be admitted to the ER. This was due to the large number of people with Covid. The ERs were well beyond capacity, and the state of patients being treated was really severe. The hospitals were forced to improvise, creating additional space in the hospital for overflow. In addition to infrastructure issues, the staff was working well beyond normal shifts. There was a beautiful camaraderie in that, but it meant that the potential for an exposure mistake was increased. It was hectic and patients were in dire situations.

We didn’t have the ability to talk directly with our subjects and relied on following the medical staff as they worked. With strict HIPPA rules, if we didn’t have written consent we couldn’t photograph people. This is a huge challenge and something my colleagues and I have been discussing extensively. It’s important to show people what’s happening on the frontlines when a story of this scope is unfolding, and it’s really hard to do that and avoid photographing patients. When I’ve reported on large international stories there is not the same level of scrutiny and permissions required to work. This presents a huge problem for American journalists covering the crisis because we’re being forced to work on the periphery of the story. How do you make compelling, emotional work if you can’t photograph the human face?

Documenting social issues for Time Magazine and the New York Times is familiar territory. What made these three NYT Opinion pieces, “Heart Ache in the Hot Zone, Β A Young Doctor, Fighting for His Life and A Young Doctor, Fighting for His Life different for you?
What made this particularly different was the lack of understanding of the pathogen. In the past, when covering diseases I’ve been able to research and talk to colleagues about safety protocols.Β  We still don’t understand this disease, and that presents a difficult challenge, particularly in risk assessment. It becomes very hard to trust your intuition, which we greatly rely on when we’re on the frontlines.Β  I’m pretty sure in time as we learn more I’ll recognize mistakes that were made in that early stage assessment process.

How many days were you in the Bronx documenting this piece?
We spent two full days working on this piece. We followed up later with another piece on one of the ER doctors, who almost died from Covid-19, about his personal experience.

Did you go home between shoot days?
I went home between shoot days and implemented a quarantine protocol that I felt comfortable with after consulting the NYT team and my family.

Has your ability to create both motion and stills opened different opportunities for you?
I think my ability to work across different mediums, filmmaking and photography, is a benefit that has opened doors. When The New York Times reached out to me to work with Nicholas Kristof to cover the pandemic, there was concern about the number of people going into the ER with us. The diversity of skills, and the fact that I’ve had a long history with both the photography and video departments, was a consideration in thinking about the risk, and we were still maximizing assets we captured.

Does documenting history with moving pictures leave less room for manipulation and more room for veracity?
With both filmmaking and photography, you have the ability to manipulate because you’re holding the instrument of documen
tation. Sometimes I do feel like there is an added level of truth in filmmaking when you hear directly from subjects and help tell stories in their own words, but then again the purity and speed of taking a photograph and keeping a smaller footprint have a lot of viability.

The important part is knowing where you stand in terms of objectivity, and how your perspective and privilege influence it, and documenting history within the parameters you or the institution you’re working for set. Intention is something that evolves in the same way you do as a storyteller. Your abilities to bring scope and stylistic vision grow throughout your career

Describe the difficulties of working in your PPE? emotionally/creatively physically.
First, it’s really uncomfortable. You are wearing a lot of layers made with materials that don’t breath well, so it’s hot. There are a face mask, goggles, and a protective shield over your face alone, which trap heat and fog. This, of course, makes it hard to see which is our job as visual journalists. In addition, the PPE blocks you from being able to bring the camera directly to your eye, so a lot of times you are relying on your intimate knowledge of the camera and lensing if you have to shoot with limited vision.Β  You’re also just relying on a bag of techniques you’ve developed through experience when it comes to focusing, framing, etc.

One of the biggest challenges I didn’t expect was the difficulty of breathing in full PPE. I found it hard to rely on my breath as a tool of comfort. If I’m in a stressful shooting situation and find myself struggling, I’ll often pause, slow down, and take a deep breath. I wasn’t able to do this which was hard because there was a moment or two that it would have been really helpful.

We also didn’t have breaks for water or food because taking on and off the PPE was such a laborious process, and it wasn’t worth risking additional exposure.

What kind of impact has this historical project had on you, now that you’ve got some distance on it?
I’m proud of the project specifically because it had a large reach. A lot of people pay attention to Nicholas Kristof’s work, myself included, so I knew when my editors reached out that the project had a lot of scope in terms of reaching viewers. The editors were putting a lot of trust in me to deliver a film and photographs that meant something to me on a personal level.

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?
That’s a tough one to answer because journalism has alway served as a social service since it’s conception and we’ve always needed it.Β Journalism speaks truth to power and it is critical to humanity and civil society to keep those in power accountable for their actions. People’s lives are at stake.

One thing I can say about this moment in time that feels different is the state of journalism itself, which is under threat. The industry has drastically changed and there is a lot less of it being produced. This is a huge problem at a moment in history when we have an administration actively dismantling democratic institutions and pathologically spreading lies under the guise of journalism. Politics aside, this is fact.

Our role as documentarians is to capture and present the reality of what is happening in America and worldwide right now in this moment. It seems we’ve never been more divided as a country, and journalism is important to understand what is transpiring, to document both sides so we don’t allow biased systems to manipulate the American public. We should have no tolerance for people in power trying to write history with a false narrative. We should be beyond this as a society, but unfortunately we’re not. We’re documenting American cities burning while a pandemic devastates lives and huge parts of the American public won’taccept reality. It is a tragedy unfolding now.

Can you speak to your personal connection to journalism?
I think journalistically speaking I’m naturally drawn to what I consider important, historic stories. I believe in the social service aspect of good journalism, and I’m honoured and proud to contribute to institutions I believe in. Journalism is essential to the function of society and without it, there is no check on power. I originally got into photography as an art form, but my attraction to journalism was as a social service to better inform people and help us find similarities through human emotion and connection.

The Daily Promo – Lucy-Ruth Hathaway

Lucy-Ruth Hathaway

Who printed it?
It was printed by Dayfold, who are based in the UK.

Who designed it?
I came up with the concept of The Food Styling Encyclopaedia, along with the accompanying titles. The graphic design is by Wildish & Co.

Tell me about the images?
All the images are taken from my collaborations with set designers and photographers; they are almost entirely made up of personal projects. The process began by thinking of all of the words for the Encyclopaedia, which took about 3 months. I then either matched the words to existing personal work imagery, or conceptualised images to illustrate each title.

How many did you make?
I did a first print of 100, which I then made some amendments to and printed a further 250.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I got such a good response from the first promo I sent out in early 2019 that I decided to make the next one into a small book that people would want to keep.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
As a food stylist, I have had a huge amount of publicity and also commercial exposure from The Food Styling Encyclopaedia.

This Week in Photography: Sitting for a Virtual Portrait

- - Working

 

All ________ people look alike.

We’ve all heard the racist expression before, which has been applied to a host of ethnicities, and is clearly untrue.

So it’s ironic that my doppelgΓ€nger in the photo world doesn’t resemble me at all.

Like, we could not look much more different, while still being similarly sized humans.

To whom am I referring?

Jon Feinstein, my fellow Jewish Jonathan, who’s also a photographer, writer and educator.

We have EXACTLY the same job, though we’ve shown our work in different spaces, and written for different publications. (How he managed to keep a relationship going with the assholes at Vice, I’ll never know.)

Coincidence or not, I met Jon at my very first portfolio review, in Santa Fe in 2009, and we’ve stayed in touch casually ever since.

Me and Jon, Santa Fe, 2009

Last year, he was kind enough to do a story on “Extinction Party” for the Humble Arts Blog, and I think it was the first time we officially worked together. (10 years people. Relationship building is a long-term endeavor.)

Even though we look different from one another, (and I’m the Gen-X’er to his elder Millennial,) there have been multiple times during my career when someone thanked me for curating their work into a show, or publishing it online, but it wasn’t me.

Of course when I tell them that, they always look at me funny, at first, as if I’m fucking with them.

“Sorry,” I’ll say. “That’s Jon Feinstein. My last name is Blaustein. We’re not the same person.”

It’s gotten to the point that Jon and I joke about doing a project together called Jonathan Something-stein, or Jonathan ______stein, because there must be more of us out there.

He even planned a prank where we’d swap tables at Filter Photo last September, and we were all set to do it, but he had to miss the festival due to a death in the family.

Needless to say, I respect and appreciate his taste, so when I got an email from him last month, suggesting I look into a friend’s project, I said sure, and then promptly forgot about it for a month or so.

Jon was recommending Robert Canali, a San Francisco-based, Toronto-born artist who’d started up a pandemic response project, and did it in just the right way. (I now know.)

All details I’ll share, henceforth, I learned yesterday, when I became a portrait sitter for the first time, (maybe ever,) and the process was fascinating enough that I’m writing about it here. (For the record, Manjari Sharma asked me to be a subject for her shower series, back in 2010, but I politely declined, being too insecure about my body at that point.)

So, where were we?

I followed up with Rob a month later, and booked a slot on an efficient digital calendar system, but for what, I was not sure.

I only knew he was using Zoom.

The gist is, a sitter reaches out to Rob, and in many cases, based on the social media buzz he generated, he has no idea who the person will be.

Though I normally do research on everyone I work with, Jon’s vouch, plus my own desire to be creatively curious, meant I knew nothing about him either. (Which surprised him.)

The scheduled 45 minute appointment begins with an introductory chat, and because I’m a curious journalist, (and like trying to entertain people,) our appointment ended up going long.

Straight off, he explained what would transpire, and why he created his anthropological project to begin with.

Like many of us, Rob was trapped in his home early, and was limited to the materials he had on hand. So he got working, (as I’ve encouraged you all to do many times,) and also got out of his comfort zone, as he had not done portraiture previously.

He realized he could use his iPad screen to expose photo paper, (much like Robert Heinecken did on TV screens in the 80’s to mock Reagan,) and then played with the process.

 

by Robert Heinecken

 

By inverting the image on the iPad screen, the resulting print becomes a paper positive, as if he left the image alone, he’d get a paper negative instead. (He called the iPad his enlarger.)

After that, it’s into the fixer, and you’re done.

In order to get the image to render, though, the technology needs a lot of time to soak up the person’s visage, which is being beamed along fiber-optic cables around the country, or the world.

But how do you do this with with complete strangers?

That’s where the interview process comes in.

Writing everything by hand, with a pencil in a notebook, he asks his sitters a few questions to create rapport, and also gather data.

I believe I was his 173rd subject, so at that sort of scale, it allows for a collection of personal information, and stories, that relate directly to our upended lives in #2020, due to the fucking virus who shall not be named. (The Voldemort virus?)

I found Rob to be charming and thoughtful, so the chat was an enjoyable experience as he explained the process to me, prior to the official interview.

Basically, he asks people to sit still, and play a specifically chosen set of music for 15 minutes, so that the image will render, and the environment will be curated.

Music is meant to be shared, he told me, and I said, “So is art.”

Once I knew what I was getting into, he hit me with the questions. (I’m paraphrasing the exact words, but not the meat of his questions.)

1. How has the pandemic changed your life for the worse?

I responded that at 46, I’d spent years building up a self-care regimen to support my mental health. It worked, as I am a relatively healthy, successful person with a loving family.

Martial arts, watching sports on TV, visiting friends at festivals, and having alone time in my house were at the top of my list.

Now I’d lost them all, and finding new ways to stay healthy, while also mourning those I’d lost, was a challenge.

2. Has anything in your life improved?

I admitted that for most of #2019, my wife and I would regularly say, “I wish I could press a pause button on life. I need a break so badly!” Again and again, we wished we could get off the ride, so as to visualize what the next phase in life might be.

And then our dreams became an actual nightmare, as a pause happened under the worst case scenario. (Outside of nuclear war, I suppose.)

Sure enough, after 10 weeks of enforced isolation, we have finally begun to figure out what we wanted next out of life, and how to go about restructuring things once a “new normal” returns.

3. Is there anything about life, when it returns to a “new normal” that you think will be changed permanently?

I told him the truth, which is that no one on Earth knows what comes next, at this point.

I don’t know what will change, and neither do you.

The only thing I’m certain of is that things will be permanently different in ways we can’t visualize yet.

I said, “When the planes hit the Twin towers, who would have thought that everyone would have to take off their shoes and belts at the airport forever?”

After that, I cued up my music, which was the middle portion of Bill Withers’ brilliant debut album, “Just As I Am,” from 1971.

RIP Bill Withers

He told me I could only blink, and not move at all, so I settled into a lotus position in a good chair, with a pillow behind me for lumbar support, and then asked where to look?

I realize that staring at the green light on my webcam would hurt my eyes, so I chose a spot just outside my bedroom window, where some Aspen leaves were shimmering in the breeze.

In Rob’s process, at that point, he turns off his webcam and his speaker.

He disappears, and I was left with my music, my trees, and my stillness.

Obviously, it felt like meditating, and because the songs were both powerful and emotional, a serious tone was set.

It was amazing.

I don’t remember the last time I sat that still, without my mind wandering.

You can only blink.

By the time he came back, and said we were done, I wasn’t cramped, or bored, and probably could have gone longer.

I felt refreshed from the meditation, and energized by being a part of someone else’s creative process.

“This should probably be this week’s column,” I said, and Rob quickly agreed to share his images with us.

My only caveat was, I needed to see the photographs first.

Given the process, they look like ghostly 19th Century pictures, which is a great visual connection to the past, given that photographers also required still sitters then too.

The truth is, the prints are soft and pasty in the best way, I imagine, but the reproductions of the prints are a bit flat for our purposes.

Rob was kind enough to agree to boost the contrast just this once, for us, as it will help you appreciate the project more, in my opinion. (And this is an opinion column, after all.)

I asked if he’d be willing to answer his own questions for us too, and he blushed for a second, admitting no one had asked him to do that yet.

So behold his thoughts on Covid-life, and then we’ll share a set of images too. (Including portraits of Jonathan Feinstein and Jonathan Blaustein, who look nothing alike.)

See you next week!

Rob’s Answers:

1. What is something you’ve lost since shelter in place was mandated and the world went into quarantine?

I’ve lost the sense of urgency with which I used to navigate my life, and have since found the time to slow down and appreciate the subtleties that its made of.

2. What is something you have gained through this experience?

I’ve gained this project and through it a great sense of purpose and countless meaningful connections to people around the world.

3. What is something that you think will never be the same after this?

It’s difficult to say that something will never be the same – forever is a very long time after all. I fear our memories only last so long and perhaps not long enough for us to realize the positive changes that can come of this. The sentiments that have been echoed throughout the making of this project make me hopeful that enough people believe that things will be different. I’m not sure what that different looks but I’m curious to see where we land. It’s just a matter of time.

Jon F

Jonathan B

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Judy Doherty

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own. Β I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before. Β 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. Β Please DO NOT send me your work. Β I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist: Β Judy Doherty

Quick Pickles is a collaborative project between myself and Publisher Cheryl Koehler, of Edible East Bay Magazine, in the SF Bay Area in California. We wanted to create an eBook that would inspire folks to make beautiful quick pickles in their kitchen. I got to work with some tempting flavor pairings, and developed recipes for many concoctions including: carrot ginger, asparagus basil, cabbage hot pepper, and garam masala cucumber.

The quick pickles β€œquickly” came to life in my photo studio and when we published our eBook, I blogged it to my base. The line of the email was, Pickles in Cupcakes? Maybe Just A Few, it was a metaphorical line to suggest we were really creative and maybe you could use them in your cupcakes. This line came from my favorite children’s book of all times, Warthogs in the Kitchen. This book taught math and generated an interest in cooking by having sloppy fun with warthogs in a kitchen.

Well, I received thousands of hits on the blog and Instagram post and dozens of requests for a recipe for pickles in cupcakes came into my inbox!

So, I delved into my past as a pastry chef for Hyatt, remembering that I used to make a red velvet cake with beets instead of food color. So pickled beets were a natural for a red velvet cupcake and it was a whole lot of fun to make, too! It turns out that they pair well with rich butter, fluffy cake, and cream cheese frosting. And the color is a deep ruby chocolate.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

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

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

 

The Daily Edit – Caitie McCabe Face Time Portraits

- - Working

Facetime for charity


Photographer: Caitie McCabe

Heidi: How did this idea come about?
Kaite: I was extremely bored and missing production life and FaceTiming my family when I figured out you could take photos using the phone. I posted on social media that I was looking to do a few shoots for charity and it EXPLODED from there. Over 100 sessions and counting!

How do you direction the kids, they seem receptive, what do they think of this situation?
Not all, but many of the kids are from the model community which generally means they are super outgoing and LOVE to be in front of the camera which helps the shoots tremendously. We spend the early part of the session finding the best light and discussing what they want to do and then it’s all about collaborating and playing for the best shots.

What are the challenges?
Technology has been the hardest part- if the kids don’t have good service or are using an iPad/older phone it tends to be harder to get everything in focus. Much of my time is spent making sure they’re in the best environment for the tech to work and explaining what I need in order to get the shot.

How do you decide which charity?
The charities I’ve chosen to put on my site are 3 that I volunteer with often. I prefer for my subjects to donate to those charities but have left it open and on the honor system for them to donate to any charity they choose.

How are you getting the outside shots?
The outside shots are actually the easiest! Often I ask to have a parent or older sibling present for the shoot to make sure I have someone holding the phone and able to take direction so the child can focus on playing. Once we’re in the right environment, everything just falls into place honestly.

102 portrait is stout, which was your first session and what have you learned about your work?
My first session was the 1st of May and has been nonstop since. I was feeling in a real creative rut before COVID-19 so this project has actually been amazingly helpful for me to push my ideas and collaborate with the kids on really authentic portraiture. I always love to work with the kids on set when setting up a shot, they have the best insight on how to make something real and fun, there’s no reason for me to not involve them. I’ve reignited that style in this project and am really looking forward to bringing these fresh ideas to my client work.

This Week in Photography: The King of Atlantic City

 

I used to have a step-grandpa.

But he’s dead now.

I’m not sure when he died, or how, because my grandmother divorced him when they were in their 80’s.

(And she passed away in 2006.)

Grandpa Sam was a 20th Century character through and through; a miniature powerhouse of a man, completely crazy, but charming.

He was a narcissist and a gambler who loved chunky gold things, and tacky objects that implied they cost a lot of money.

His favorite place in the world was any cruise ship, or whichever casino in Atlantic City gave him the best comp deal at a given time.

Grandpa Sam became my step-grandpa when I was 10 years old, give or take, because my real Grandpa, Sy, had died of cancer when I was three. (Just old enough to have a token memory or two.)

Given my youth, I have no idea how Grandma Flo met Grandpa Sam, but it probably had something to do with cruise ships. And as a self-respecting Jersey Boy, I should mention here that he was the most Long Island guy I ever met. (Tri-State area folks will get the barb.)

I remember at my Bar Mitzvah, (which was held on the Asbury Park boardwalk, 30 years before it properly gentrified,) he got so drunk that he fell asleep on one of the tables, and I found him there at 1am when I was cruising the then-empty hotel with a friend.

Or what about the time he invited me on a walk around the neighborhood, which made me light up with excitement, but was only a ruse to chastise the 15-year-old-me for being a bad grandson.

Talk about a blindside hit!

But there’s no way to understand Grandpa Sam, who was about 5’3″ and wider than he was tall, without understanding Atlantic City.

That was where he felt most at home.

Given that he was no proper whale, he’d never have gotten the VIP treatment in Vegas, and you couldn’t get there by cruise-ship anyway.

But in A.C., as everyone calls it, they treated him like a King.

Free dinners, free hotel rooms, and even better, they’d hook up his family if he ever brought them along.

To be perfectly honest, I forgot about Grandpa Sam for about 10 years, and he only flashed into my memory last month, when my son was asking about his family history, and Grandpa Sam popped back in mind.

I can see his gaudy shirts now, opened three buttons down to show off his gold necklaces and fuzzy chest hair.

How did he die?

Was he alone?

I remember he was estranged from much of his family, because he was nuts, and Grandma divorced him for being abusive. It was considered brave, her willingness to be alone at that age, but then she got sick and died within a year or two, so there was no late-life Renaissance to be found.

They used to tell us Grandpa Sam had been a POW of the Nazis, having been captured in WWII, and that was the reason he was such a prick.

It might have had something to do with it, but I think his type, all macho bravado, bad taste, and shady business dealings was archetypical, as was the pull to a worn-down, once important, seedy place like Atlantic City.

The casinos came rather late, compared to its run as a fancy vacation destination in the early 20th Century, and they never brought the wealth and glory that was promised.

Rather, the entire corrupt system was just a sham for money laundering, luring tour busses full of glassy-eyed day trippers to windowless rooms where they pissed their retirement funds away.

And who was King of Atlantic City in the 80’s and 90’s?

Who plastered his name on the casinos, all of which went bankrupt or out of business eventually?

Who used the place as a platform for publicity, and for siphoning poor people’s cash into his own coffers?

Do you have to ask?

Donald J. Trump.

(Still known as the guy who stiffed everyone, leaving unpaid bills in his wake as he scrambled out of town.)

One day, I’ll get tired of writing about him, but that day is not today, as I went to my book stack this morning, and grabbed what may be the last book left over from the spring of #2019.

What did I find?

“Atlantic City,” by Brian Rose, published by Circa Press in London, and I’m not sure if he and I even corresponded at all.

It may be that the book showed up unannounced, landed in the pile, and was finally LIBERATED today, when it has even more resonance than it might have last year.

It’s perfect for now, what with public beaches finally opening around the country, cramped spaces like casinos being abandoned, and a potential new Depression popping up, promising to hollow out many a small city like A.C.

I’m going to cut to the chase, though, and tell you that I found the book to be flawed in its construction and vision, but the photographs and excellent opening essay by architecture critic Paul Goldberger make it worth showing anyway.

(And it allows for a teachable moment.)

I always talk about the relationship between image and text in a photobook, and how it’s hard to get right.

How much information do you provide, and when and where to place it?

We need to ask those questions when we make or judge a book, and this one gets it wrong, after the opening essay.

There is a text blurb opposite each photograph, and the graphic design sensibility is off. The words float in odd places, and I did not like the pressure to pull my eyes away from the pictures to read every time.

It messed with the flow and detracted from the images, which were strong enough to communicate the book’s thesis.

Added to that, many of the text pages also contained Trump tweets, which were also repeated at times, thereby bashing us over the head with intent.

On the flip side, any photo book that has compelling photos that tell the story by themselves should be commended.

So it’s a muddle.

Trump is everywhere, though he sued to have his name taken off buildings he abandoned years ago, and the pictures also do justice to the feeling of empty facade that speaks to both A.C. and Trump so well.

At one point, we read a Shakespeare quote from Julius Caesar, and then the next photo shows a tacky billboard of the Bard, but that was the only example where the text created an unexpected frisson with the pictures.

I think, if rebuilt, this book would be better chunking up the words into a few sections, thereby letting the viewer get the pleasure of flipping through photos that don’t need words.

Sadly, Atlantic City is one of those places that people always think will “come back,” yet it never does.

Then again, that’s what they said about Asbury Park.

My Bar Mitzvah was held in a hotel that opened in the 80’s, confident they’d lead the wave of gentrification.

A wave, like the fickle Atlantic Ocean it abuts, that didn’t arrive for another generation.

So you can keep waiting, or give up.

Your choice.

Bottom Line: A flawed but intriguing look at a zombie city on the Jersey Shore

To purchase “Atlantic City” click here

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me directly at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are interested in presenting books from as wide a range of perspectives as possible.

The Art of the Personal Project: Jason Lindsay

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own. Β I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before. Β 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. Β Please DO NOT send me your work. Β I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist: Β Jason Lindsay

Reflecting Forward

In science, we are often contemplating the future by evaluating the past. The portrait obscured by reflections represents the idea of looking forward and backward in time. The ambiguity and the unknown come to the surface, clouding our vision of the past and the future. These portraits explore the uncertain futures of the next generation that will be struck the hardest by the impacts of Climate Change. Just as these images suggest, we are intertwined with the natural world and will need to find our path. My 13-year-old son, BjΓΆrn, inspired the β€œReflecting Forward” project. During one of our many daily chats, he asked about Climate Change and what the world will look like in the future. I realized I had only murky visions of that future myself and could not give him a clear answer. As a father, I hated the fact that I could not provide much clarity for BjΓΆrn and knew I needed to explore this idea with a photography project. β€œReflecting Forward” was born.

To see more of this project, click here.

 

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

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

 

The Daily Edit – Art Center College of Design Zoom Portfolio Review

- - The Daily Edit


2020 Spring Graduate Work

Everard Williams and Ann Field from Pasadena Art Center College of Design had their Final Crit Grad Review for photography students recently. Not surprisingly it was conducted via Zoom. Over the course of about 4 hours we looked at a variety of stellar work. You can see all of the graduate work here.Β  There is a tremendous amount of strong work, however I was struck by these two images in particular.

Photographer: Marly Ludwig

Marly: When I first heard the story of a girl from my former high school who lost her finger, I was immediately interested. One day during school, Victoria
decided to hop over the fence and skip class. Upon climbing over the chain-link fence, a ring she was wearing snagged and her finger suddenly ripped off. That is not quite the repercussion one would expect from ditching school. Being quite scared of losing an appendage myself, I wanted to confront that fear with my camera. I felt placing her in the shadow of a fence with her hand to her face would be the best way to illustrate the story. Victoria showed such stoicism, and she wiggled the little piece of finger for me, which I found endearing. The image came out exactly how I envisioned it, and I love how beautiful she is without her ring finger.

Photographer: Sohui Kim.

I enjoyed her interpretation of a Korean moon jar from. Moon Jars were originally created in the 17thΒ and 18th centuries as household food storage jars but have been admired as artworks since Korea’s colonial period (1910-45). They are formed as two halves thrown on a wheel before being skilfully luted together horizontally around their widest point before being glazed and fired. The joint line is visible and they are admired for their unintentionally artful asymmetry.

 

Fostering Creativity and Personal Health- MJ68 Productions

New Production Protocols

I received an email from agent, Cynthia Held with a brochure producer, Michael Horta created about how to create safer working environments on photoshoots during this pandemic.Β  I was thrilled to be informed that this brochure is to be shared with other photographers and crew.

Thank you so much Cynthia Held and Michael Horta and showing us that we are all in this together.

Click below to download your copy:

Β MJ68_Fostering Creativity + Personal Health

 

Michael Horta

MJ68 Productions is a highly efficient, friendly, budget conscious, action forward production company with an enthusiasm for bringing talented people together to make great images happen.Β  Our goal is to make every production feel effortless for the photographers, agencies, and client.Β  On-set, MJ68 Productions is proud to provide talented, professional, and friendly crews; healthful, foodie inspired catering; optimal organization and a savvy to gracefully handle almost everything that comes down the pike.Β  MJ68 is at your service for estimating, budgets, insurance, excellent crew recommendations, casting, location scouting, art department, travel coordination, etc.β€”We love our work and are ever-expanding.

Β Held & Associates

Since 1994 Held & Associates has represented advertising photographers and directors who have risen to the top of their profession thanks to their dedication and talent and our well-recognized track record of promoting successful relationships with advertising agencies. We pride ourselves on building lasting partnerships and striving to always create brilliant content that will surpasses client’s expectations.

 

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

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

This Week in Photography: Recipes for Disaster

 

Part 1. The Heads Up

Heads up.

 

I’m coming in hot today.

Last week, I wanted to avoid staring into the darkest parts of reality, but today I have no choice.

I’ve been chatting and texting with my good friend, and erstwhile collaborator, IvΓ‘n. (He was my professor of Globalization Theory in graduate school at Pratt, and has a PhD as well.)

We did some successful modeling of potential Great Recession outcomes at its outset, and then properly predicted the multi-polar world that followed, some years later.

But when we spoke at the beginning of The Troubles, it wasn’t any fun, as he always takes the pessimistic, idealistic side of the argument, and I go for the realist/pragmatist/optimistic angle.

There is not much optimism in our current global affairs, so the chat was grueling, and way too soon for either of us to have made any real observations yet. (Mid-March)

In the last two weeks, though, we’ve talked twice and texted ten times.

Before I get to that, though, I should mention one more thing.

When I met IvΓ‘n, on the first day of class, he claimed he was a Mexican, Marxist Yankee Fan.

I laughed out loud, and challenged him on the spot, saying there could be no such thing.

The Yankees represented the heart of Capitalism, always outspending their way to World Series titles, and Karl Marx invented Communism.

These were antithetical concepts.

(I once compared “Das Kapital” and Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” in an economics paper at Duke, so I am familiar with the material.)

IvΓ‘n said he was a Guatemalan-by-family, Mexican-by-birth, Jewish, long-time New Yorker, and entitled to root for the Yankees, because he lived in Upper Manhattan, a short subway ride from the Stadium.

(I’ve picked that bone with him ever since, in jest.)

But last week, having finally connected the dots, his words from our second phone call still ringing in my head, I called IvΓ‘n.

“Well, hello,” he said. “Nice to hear from you again.”

“Listen,” I said, “I don’t have much time. I need to go on a walk with the family, but I can’t get this one idea out of my head. About what you were saying. About Marx.”

 

“Go ahead,” he said.

“As I understand it, Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to force meat-packing plants to stay open, and meat-packing workers to report for work, or lose their jobs.

Because god forbid America goes a week without eating all its cows, chickens and pigs.

But the workers are going to get sick, and they have, and they’re dying too.

 

 

These workers are lower class, and often Mexican or Central American immigrants, who are also demonized in our culture. Given the low status and wages of the jobs, how good will their health care coverage be?

(Or more likely, they won’t have employer health care at all, because surely some of them are part-time or contract workers.)

With the state of the economy, if the workers choose not to work, they might not have food or a home, and if they do work, they might get sick and die.

And because we live in a country without a robust, free public health system, if these people get sick, and don’t have the right insurance, they might go bankrupt.”

“Yes,” Ivan said.

“All so the higher classes can get their meat,” I continued.

“And don’t forget, these plants are also factories of death, assembly lines that kill and dismember live creatures. And the entire industry is also one of the largest drivers of Climate Change.”

“Yes,” he said, “all true.”

“Then I learned in Reuters that China actually owns the largest pork processing company in the US, Smithfield, and that some of the meat processed in the factories, which are being forced open by Donald Trump, is being exported, while American grocery stores are rationing meat.

“That’s Marx,” I told Ivan. “As much as I’ve teased you all these years for calling yourself a Marxist in the 21st Century, what’s happening now is what he described.”

“Exactly,” he said. “The workers must be exploited, surplus value must be derived from them, for the owners to extract profit.”

“It’s a rigged game for the lower classes,” I said. “If they stay home, they don’t eat. If they go to work, they might get sick. If they get sick, they might die. Or if they don’t die, they may go bankrupt.”

“Yes,” said my friend. “That is true, and tragic. And it is what Karl Marx critiqued in the Capitalist system.”

And as to being a Mexican, Marxist Yankee fan…in the end, I apologized for teasing him all these years.

The world is infinitely complex, and one can be a Marxist, and a Yankee fan simultaneously.

(Or an American and an environmentalist.)

 

Part 2. The Book

 

By now, you likely know I published a book called “Extinction Party,” and I’ll be writing about that, in conjunction with the Amsterdam series, soon enough.

Today, though, I was actually inspired by the book I mentioned last week. The one that was really good, but too bleak for my mood.

(It was THAT book, and not my own, that inspired today’s column.)

Like the excellent Sheri Lynn Behr book I reviewed a month ago, this is also self-published, with a similar construction, and a suggestive cover.

The red/white checker pattern, askew, makes me think of restaurant tablecloths, or old recipe books, and the partial circle makes me think of a heat map of the world.

Looking again, now I see the outline of North America.

Open it up, and it’s called “Recipes for Disaster,” by Barbara Ciurej + Lindsay Lochman, an artist team from the Midwest.

Though they haven’t been in the column much before, (if ever,) I’ve been a huge admirer of their work for years.

Barbara and Lindsay do food based, studio, conceptual, still life constructions, using absurd humor, so you can see the connection.

(They showed me a nearly-finished version of this book at Filter Photo in September, so it is definitely not pandemic-response art, despite its timeliness.)

Open it up, andΒ we see, for Chapter 1, what looks like an appropriated graphic poster, which has been partially redacted, of a family around a table. (Black rectangles over the eyes.)

It’s the lead to “Expunge Cake,” which references Trump’s early gambit of removing all Climate Change words, and the like, from government websites.

The cake, though, looks delicious. (Yes, I’m hungry, I’m writing before breakfast.)

Feedlot brownies, with all sorts of statistics about the cost of the cattle industry.

Crust, with a skeleton baked on what looks like desiccated Earth.

Profit Pies, Clearcut Roulade, Rainforest FlambΓ©, all with rigorous statistics.

Can you see why I didn’t want to write about this last week?

It’s so in your face!

Frankly, I feel like some of my favorite work by the team is a bit more subtle, but this is not a subtle moment, is it?

Radioactive Tea Cakes, Extinction Cookies, this goes right for the jugular.

And since we’re all baking these days anyway, now you’ll have this stuck in your head while you’re doing it.

(You’re welcome.)

Bottom Line: Wicked, satirical recipe book about the end of the world

To purchase “Recipes with Disaster” click here

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me directly at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are interested in presenting books from as wide a range of perspectives as possible.

The Art of the Personal Project: Dana Romanoff

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own. Β I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before. Β 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. Β Please DO NOT send me your work. Β I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist: Β Dana RomanoffΒ 

Logline:

NOAH, Rising from the Ashes in Flint

Short general synopsis:Β 

“Noah” tells the story of Noah Patton, a young man from Flint, Michigan, who was going down a one-way street backward. With a gun on his hip and always in search of the next lick, he had many enemies and was living on borrowed time. However, like his hometown, Noah is striving to rise from the ashes. With the support of his pastor, he is turning his life around and helping to positively shape the future of his community.

Artist Statement

Noah caught my eye the second he walked into theΒ room. I was seated at a table with a group of men, mostly ex-felons, at the Joy Tabernacle Church in Flint, Michigan where I had been commissioned toΒ create a video on resident engagement by Community Leads. I had been introduced toΒ Pastor McCathern as a potential subject. When Pastor opened up the church doors to me he said: “if you want to know my story, you have to hear the stories of my council.” That’s when Noah entered, gently placing his sleeping toddler down on a couchΒ and taking a seat across from me. He looked up at me and saidΒ β€œI got a story that’s meant for the movies.”

Directed by filmmaker Dana Romanoff and edited by Blue Chalk Media, “Noah” tells the story of Noah Patton, a young man from Flint, Michigan who was going down a one-way street backward. Backward past abandoned homes and empty schools and the sounds of bullets echoing louder than children’s laughter. With a gun on his hip and always in search of the next lick, he had many enemies and was living on borrowed time.

Flint is a city built on the American Dream. With the disappearance of industry, it became impoverished and neglected, and so did its residents. The water crisis is just one more tragedy piled upon a mound of oppression.

But Flint is a city of survivors. And like the phoenix, Noah and his city are rising from the ashes. Noah returned to his deep-rooted faith in God, and with the help of a pastor, he is turning his life around and helping to positively shape the future of his community.

Noah’s story provides an entry point into the discussion about the role of grassroot efforts in urban revitalization. Flint is a city looking to build itself up from within by empowering its communities from the ground up. Both Noah and his pastor are examples of such grassroots efforts. Today’s political climate, and the often harsh rhetoric about inner cities, make the discussion about resident engagement, and Noah’s story, ever more important.

To see more of this project, click here.

 

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

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

 

The Daily Edit – Ventura Covid-19 Protest: Angelo Partemi

- - The Daily Edit


Angelo Partemi

 

Heidi: How did you protect yourself while you were shooting?Β 
Angelo: I wore a mask the whole time but skipped the gloves as it would have been too hard to handle my cameras with them. Longs sleeves and pants were essential, and upon returning home I washed my clothing and disinfected my gear immediately as it was very difficult to keep with social distancing in crowds that don’t respect that advisory. I only went in close for shots when absolutely necessary, but I tried to not let that dictate my flow.

How did you approach people since you didn’t have a media pass?Β 
I’ve never had a media pass I didn’t make myself. I honestly treated it as any other day out on the street. I have been photographing strangers in public for 7+ years and am very comfortable approaching people and taking close photos. In this case, I felt people knew I wasn’t there as a supporter as much as an observer.

Did you get any resistance from the protestors?
I didn’t get a ton of resistance, but I did get a lot of questions. I was accused of being media by several different people because I was protecting myself with a mask. People asked if I was selling photos to China or working for China. To go back to my country, which is America. You know, the normal stuff you hear when you cover something like this and don’t fall on their side of the fence. I kept calm and rational and told them I was there because it was interesting, nothing more.

Were you concerned for your safety at any time?
Never.

How did photographing this protest push your work?
I’ve been working on this project since 2016 and because it’s been going on for so long, it has really pushed me to go to events where I don’t support what they’re doing. But to be honest to the project I have to see both sides as it’s part of the greater story. So, it pushes me personally as I wouldn’t be at an event like this if I wasn’t taking photographs.

How do you approach a project like this, do you think about your body of work, and then create a shot list?
I do not have a shot list in my mind before going out as I think it can stifel my creativity and close my mind to pictures that are in front of me. I usually find greater success when I have an open my mind and listen to my gut. I try to shoot first and edit later. If it’s interesting I try to put a frame around it. I don’t see this body of work as a whole yet, nor am I at a place where I can fill holes. I think my bucket is close to half full with a lot of work ahead.

Since you are shooting only film, what are the advantages?
I don’t know if there is an advantage, but definitely a preference. The look, feel, and tangibility of the negatives far outweigh any advantage digital would give me.

Do you keep a mental checklist of what you’ve photographed and do you take longer to frame up the image?
I think not being able to review my images keeps me in the moment, and constantly scanning for the next image which is good. I might take 5 frames at most on an amazing scene, though it’s typically 1-2. Like all photography, it’s a numbers game, but I think shooting film increases mine.

This Week in Photography: Now & Then

 

I read a great quote this morning.

By Alison Herman in The Ringer.

“Constant dread and anxiety do not pair well with creativity.”

She was writing about why “Mad Men” was gaining an extra following during the pandemic, as it was good enough art to distract, but not so dark in tone as to make one’s thoughts return to The Troubles.

(Hey Northern Irishfolk: May I please borrow the term temporarily to refer to now?)

As to the quote, I will tell you that it’s true.

But last week, I suggested you make art anyway, because it’s good for your psyche, and will help you feel better. (It will take your mind off The Troubles.)

If you take your camera with you on a walk, (of course you do, it’s your phone,) and then slow your pace a bit, on purpose, it might help you see the details that you miss, walking quickly on your daily route.

Maybe that’s what The Troubles are really about, on a metaphysical level?

At first, I called it The Pause, and maybe I will again.

I hoped that it would allow me the chance to slow down, assess my life, and get my house in order.

And in the last couple of weeks, it finally has. I’m feeling better, and going on lots of walks has really helped. (Shout out to Bryan Formhals.)

If you walk around your world, and slow down, what might you find?

Is it possible you’re living in Asia, and despite the enormous clichΓ© we all imagine of Asian architecture, all you notice is the roots of colonialism?

Much like so many of us fetishize elements of Asian culture, maybe you can’t stop seeing what was left by the West?

Maybe this isn’t a hypothetical exercise?

This morning, needing something to write about, my wife handed me the latest book to come in, as my book stack was in my son’s closet, and he was sleeping.

It felt wrong to skip the line, but I knew the book she gave me was good, as I’d seen a preview.

It is excellent, and I’ll write about it another day, but it was bleak for my mood.

I set it down, and then my son woke up.

Rather than jumping the line, I reached into the stack, and pulled out something from April #2019. (All those #2019 submissions need to see the light of day! Free the books!)

What did I find?

Something from Chris Wong, sent from Asia, and wrapped well and tight.

The text on the cover, “Now & Then,” looked to be Chinese in origin, and I’m sure Chris told me about where he was from a year ago, but I don’t remember.

The Polaroid on the cover is a hint, but the block wall literally “blocks” any visual reference we might have.

Open it up, and we get the artist’s name again, the book’s title, and another Polaroid telling us look left, look right on a red brick wall.

Then, a succession of Polaroids.
One after another, featuring Western style, colonial architecture.

Reveling in the details.

Picture after picture, we see columns and arches.
Fancy corner after repeating motif.

And where are we?

It doesn’t say.

For some reason I think Macau, though it could be Hong Kong. At first, it’s mesmerizing, and the washed out colors make it look old.

Are they old?

When were they shot?

Then we see a tank, and shit gets real for a moment, but that’s the only sign of modernity or violence. (This is not a protest movement book.)

Just as I start to get a bit bored, (though the image sizes do change,) we see cathedrals, and the difference, the references to Christianity, snaps me back into my very-curious-mode.

We finish, and then in the bio page, we learn it is Hong Kong. Not sure why I imagined they were Portuguese buildings at first, having seen English architecture in person, but it proves even a pro like me can get fooled.

I get the sense this book is self published, and we learn that Chris is a commercial photographer in Hong Kong, specializing in Polaroid.

But this work is his personal vision for sure.

The image map at the end proves to be much more valuable than in most cases, as it is reveals the Now & Then concept. We learn what these colonial structures are used for now, (often in cultural capacities,) and what they were used for under the British.

Now and Then.

The world has been through many crazy times before, including plagues, and Alison Herman theorized that people were digging “Mad Men” again because seeing the 60’s onscreen, another batshit time, reminded people we made it through that, and we’ll make it through this too.

See you next week.

Bottom Line: Mesmerizing, British colonial architecture in Hong Kong

To purchase “Now & Then” click here

 

If you’d like to submit a book for potential review, please email me directly at jonathanblaustein@gmail.com. We are interested in presenting books from as wide a range of perspectives as possible.

The Art of the Personal Project: Paul Elledge

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own. Β I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before. Β 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. Β Please DO NOT send me your work. Β I do not take submissions.

 

Today’s featured artist: Β Paul Elledge

iPhone Once A DayΒ Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β  by Paul Elledge

This is a body of work that I started January 1, 2009 as a visual social media experiment on Facebook. Β More than ten years later the project still continues.Β  It can now also be found on Instagram at iPhone once_a_day as well as it’s own website of the same name.

I am not a writer, thus I have chosen the camera as a tool to create a pictorial diary. Β In some ways, this project brings me back to when I started my love for photography.Β  Rather than a commissioned assignment this project is personal expression. I’m making images just for me that are about how I feel as well as living in the now.Β  This project keeps my skills sharp to the process of making images, as I am always looking, feeling and creating them.Β  I photograph every day to capture an image that mirrors an emotion, an experience, or a feeling that illustrates my state of mind for that day.Β  I have always believed that making images is not about where my feet are, for me it is really about where my mind and heart are.

In order to bring some visual consistency, I have set up a few rules for this project. Β I can only make images with the iPhone and they have to be shot vertical.Β  The images are always black and white, and I can only alter the images within the app network on the iPhone. Β The final rule is that the daily post must be done as a mobile upload.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

 

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

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

 

The Daily Promo – June Kim

June Kim
@junebugkim

Who printed it?
Magcloud – having used Blurb before (who I believe owns Magcloud), I trusted the quality and ease of their online interface.

Who designed it?
My friend David Jung who is an art director based out of LA. http://davidjung.studio/ It helps so much to have someone who knows you and your work shape how others will see it. He finessed the typefaces and page layouts, creating a system for displaying the images and even the page numbersβ€”all the details matter.

Tell me about the images?
I decided to call this β€œSelected Works” because the images span the gamut of collaborative projects (in particular with my good friend and closest collaborator Michelle Cho), editorial assignments, fashion shoots, and personal work. I wanted the images to flow from one type to another and exist under the umbrella of β€œJune Kim” without having to label or categorize them.

How many did you make?
150 copies officially, and did an initial batch of proofs which turned out to be great too.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I’ve been mulling on this first one for over a year, but going forward I’d love to make a promo yearly. In between, I’ll be putting my efforts into building a solid (and hopefully ever-evolving) website and promote that way.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I sure hope so. As timing had it, I printed these right before coronavirus hit the states hard, and then everything began to shut down. But I’ve sent some out, I’m holding on to some others, and we’ll see what happens!