The Art of the Personal Project: Collin Erie

 

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

 

Today’s featured artist:  Collin Erie

“How we perceive and make sense of the world around us is becoming challenging. As our reality becomes more and more influenced by our screens, I wanted to find a way to visualize this subjective human experience in our contemporary culture.”

 

To see more of this project, click here

Instagram 

 

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

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

 

The Daily Edit – Visura.co: Adriana Teresa Letorney

Photo by Nipah Dennis

Photo by Terra Fondriest

Photo by Linda Kuo

Photo by Karen Toro

Visura.co

Founder: Adriana Teresa Letorney
Co-founder: Scout Film Festival

Heidi: How long has Visura been publishing and how has the last two years informed how you’ve run your business?
Adriana: Visura was launched in 2016 as a networking platform for freelance visual journalists to build their online presence and connect with each other from one central place. The tech platform was built from the ground up as an alternative to the traditional systems used by visual journalists looking to connect with the global marketplace. During that time, the main problem we were aiming to address was the lack of platforms for freelance visual journalists worldwide that fostered inclusivity, sustainability, professional skill development, and equal and merit-based access to the global marketplace.

In time, editors wanted to use the platform to search, view stories, and directly connect with freelance visual journalists who were part of the global Visura community. This led us to also create an Editor’s account for visual researchers, editors and buyers to be able to search, connect and manage a growing list of freelance visual journalists and storytellers based on location, expertise, skills, and experience.

Our goal has always been to elevate media literacy by empowering a growing global community of publishers and freelance visual journalists with a central platform where they can connect, share work, and transact. During my studies, I learned how technology plays a significant role in the market of visual content. and ask these questions: Will this tool unite or divide? Is what we are doing fostering understanding and empathy, or inciting division? Is our service empowering or exploitative? Are the resources we are offering solving a problem for our community?

These questions leave room for debate, opportunity to connect with new thinkers, visionaries, leaders, and professionals looking to tackle some of the biggest challenges in media and journalism.

What were your hopes coming to New York from Puerto Rico?
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I came to New York with the dream of offering new perspectives about what it means to be Puerto Rican. I thought what I saw in the news or in films was biased and unfair. Never in a million years did I think I would build technology to tackle discrimination in the media and journalism industry. I was just a kid that loved being from Puerto Rico, and I thought, if the world had better access to the incredible work and talent that is being produced in my country, people would change their minds about who we are. I never imagined that my concern was a global problem. As soon as I realized it was—I chose to dedicate my professional career to tackling the systematic challenges that lead to more discrimination, abuse, biases and violence. And since, I have found hope in dedicating all these years to finding ways to empower the freelance community of visual journalists and storytellers, who just like me, want to share their stories and findings to offer new perspectives.

Your site has robust features such as maps and directories. Did you always have an interest in technology?
To be honest, I learned to use tech to solve a problem. And most of what we have developed was created by years of customer discovery. At Visura, our team serves its community. I don’t have a light bulb that turns on with some magic solution. Everything we have built has been the result of listening to understand our community, and their needs, we are thankful for community.

How and when did this idea come about, did the Scout Film Festival come shortly after?
Prior to Visura, I had launched an exhibition space, a magazine, and a self-publishing platform with a goal of highlighting a growing community of freelance visual journalists and storytellers worldwide. By the time Visura.co launched its first version in 2016, I had learned from the community of primarily freelance photographers from around the world that what they needed was tools to build their website and connect with the global marketplace to further their work and career.  So, we worked really hard to build this for them.

Scout founder Anna Colavito and I met in 2014 at an Art Gala event. She shared with me the idea of launching a nonprofit organization called Scout Film Festival that aimed to support teen filmmakers. I loved the idea, and overnight we decided to join forces to realize her vision. When it launched in 2015, I joined as co-founder of the 501(c)3 organization. Throughout the years, Scout has evolved into an international festival supporting filmmakers aged 24 and under with resources, tools and opportunities to highlight their short films and further their careers.

Scout specifically highlights artists under 24, why is that?
That’s a great question! At the time, Scout became the first festival focused on emerging talent. Initially, we began by supporting teens. With time, we expanded the community to include college students because many of the initial filmmakers were aging out, and they expressed wanting to remain a part of the community as undergraduate students. So, we expanded to welcome filmmakers aged 24 and under. In the future, we hope to continue expanding further. Ultimately, the mission of Scout is to support, empower and connect diverse filmmakers worldwide. Throughout the years, the organization has become a premier destination for the professionals in the film industry to find new talent, particularly directors, screenwriters, and producers.

There are several collectives that emerged this past few years, what makes this one different? 
Visura is not a collective. Visura is a market network that leverages technology to empower a growing community of freelance visual content creators with tools to manage their online presence and connect with the global marketplace. The way we envisioned the tech that would power the platform stems from our belief in the power of community. So, we are a media-tech platform that fosters professional development, inclusivity, equal and merit-based opportunities, enabling environments for media and journalism.

At Visura, professional photographers, filmmakers, photojournalists, journalists, arts, and other visual content creators can build their website interconnected to a networking platform that is used by editors, researchers and buyers to discover new work and talent. The platform is proprietary. It is not built on Squarespace or WordPress, or any of those platforms. We built our own technology platform to better serve our international community with the tools they need to connect, collaborate, and in the future transact.

Visura also offers editors access to exclusive stories, lightboxes, advanced search, image briefs, maps, and other tools to search by location, skills, expertise, and experience. More importantly, editors have direct access to a database of over 6000 professional visual storytellers worldwide. Any editor can access the creators’ profile which highlights their bio, contact, website, social media links, clips and samples of their work. They can contact the members or save stories or profiles in lightboxes for future references.

Sustainability goes beyond making lists, how are you creating a sustainable way forward? 
Absolutely it does. I believe that the Visura platform serves to bridge the gap between visual content creators and buyers, and it does so in a way that does not exploit the talent or their work. This is very important. We are also very focused on streamlining merit-based opportunities. Quality is never at risk when you create an inclusive work environment. On the contrary, it elevates and enriches the space. And as a female woman of color, I strongly believe that publishers will further grow engagement if they can easily connect with a global community of professional visual journalists and storytellers ready to be hired.

How can I join as a contributor?
Start with a free account or download the Visura App that is now available on the Apple Store for free. Upgrade if you want to submit exclusive stories to the archive, or build one or more websites via Visura.

How do I join as an art buyer?
Start by requesting an account,  to access the advanced search, exclusive stories, contact info, lightboxes, and brief tools, amongst other things. Then download the Visura App that is now available on the Apple Store for free. In order to protect the community from spammers and hackers, editors need to request an account.

How can access make a difference and what are your hopes for the future of the industry?
There is a lot that we need to do to empower the media and journalism industry with better systems to power the marketplace. Over 70% of visual storytellers today are freelancers, publishers need better access to this incredible talent pool and we need to think carefully about how we approach these issues.

Over time, we’ve seen that relying on social media or spreadsheet lists as the primary solution to highlighting talent is unsustainable and in the long run, ineffective.

We need solutions that unite and foster career growth versus what is a marketing or social media strategy that serves the organizers in the name of “community”.

With a conglomeration of information, audiences demand authenticity and truth in content without being “sold to.”  As a result, publishers are realizing the value of unique, in-depth, and compelling visual stories by diverse visual storytellers worldwide. We learned that in order to facilitate better access to quality visual content, we needed to re-envision the systems that power the marketplace and create access for breaking news, stock, and unique visual storytelling.

90% of the information that the brain retains is visuals; and publishers grow engagement much faster when they feature unique, compelling visual stories. I foresee that freelance visual journalists will hold the power in the future of this marketplace.

We strongly believe that technology can facilitate the tools they need to manage and grow their career. The best path forward is removing the gatekeepers and giving power back to the creators with a toolset to manage their online presence, connect, get hired, and sell their work.

I don’t have all the answers. I have failed much more than I have succeeded. But at this stage in my life and career, I am on a mission to continue finding ways to re-envision the marketplace and future of media and journalism

Featured Promo – Sol Neelman

Sol Neelman

Tell me about the promo you sent me. I had assumed it was something CLIF Bar made as a promo of their own.

The last big print campaign I worked on before the pandemic featured soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe for CLIF Bar. Fresh off the Women’s World Cup title, Megan was to be one of a handful of CLIF-sponsored athletes promoted internationally ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

While the last-second logistics was a little nuts, my art direction was pretty straight forward: take photos of Megan kicking a soccer ball. Megan was great to work with, client was really happy with selects and we wrapped up early. It was a good day. To me, the best part of the entire experience was collaborating with fun and talented creative directors and photographers I also consider close friends.

I don’t know who remembers REGGIE! candy bars, but I was stoked to learn my photo of Megan would be inspiration for a limited edition CLIF wrapper. Pretty surreal and fun. When the bars launched in early March 2020, I was excited to share what I had been a part of. Then the pandemic hit, and the print spots were held back with the Olympics on hold.

With the Summer Games officially back on, now for 2021, I was finally able to share the entire ad campaign. I had been noodling on soccer-themed promos, something that an art buyer would use/keep/share. I like producing fun promos that are unique and hard to toss. I kept coming back to customizing a miniature foosball table.

The problem, of course, was that no one was working in an office, let alone having in-person meetings. No point in spending a ton of money on a full promo campaign. But you, Rob, have a very large social media presence (44k followers on Instagram and 133k on Twitter). Many of the clients and photo agents I was hoping to reach follow you. So I decided to invest in a single, one-off foosball table and send it your way.

Despite what some might think, the entire promo wasn’t really that expensive – or that large. The 27” travel-size table was about $40 on Amazon, plus a few bucks for modeling paint, adhesive spray and a print of the ad. The s/h was the most expensive part, but again, I only had to ship one. I tossed in a couple double-sided tickets with my contact info and a fresh box of Megan’s CLIF bars.

For the record, I don’t think promos need to be expensive. Almost all of mine involve plenty of cheap DIY crafting. I do think promos need to be worth the time and effort of producing and delivering them. And I think they need to properly represent your work and personality. My brand is literally fun and games, so a kid-sized foosball table totally worked for me. This is really a continuation of what I’ve created in the past, like with my custom Weird Sports trading cards.

I’m not going to lie: I wasn’t sure whether to warn you or not about a massive box landing on your front doorstep, Rob. But I also wanted it to be a surprise. Love that you originally thought it was a CLIF-produced promotional gift, instead of something hand-painted and assembled on a dining room table in Portland. Pretty flattering. Thanks, Rob. I appreciate you for sharing my work.

This Week in Photography: Family Ties

 

 

 

Here we are.

The end of the year.

 

And 2021 has been one to remember.

(That’s a fucking understatement!)

 

Courtesy of The Times of India

 

 

 

Despite the cynicism I’ve developed the last few years, like a well-earned callus, I’m still hoping for the best.

Hoping we sort out the growing climate catastrophe.

Hoping we heal the political wounds tearing our nation asunder.

Hoping I’ll stay healthy enough to be there for my wife and children as they grow.

(It’s a lot to hope for, I know.)

 

 

 

 

 

To be honest, I’m totally cooked.

(Who doesn’t feel like burger meat in the week between Xmas and New Year’s?)

Plus, we’re leaving for a family vacation tomorrow; the first in several years.

And I still need to pack.

Beyond that, the book I just spent an hour reading, and perusing, hits close to home in ways I’d rather not excavate today.

But I promised the book’s author/artist I’d get it reviewed this week, and I’m a man of my word.

So it’s possible I’ll be less honest, or at least less open, about my own experience than I might if I were writing in a couple of months.

When my own wounds are more fully healed.

Compromise, though, is a highly undervalued concept, and I’m all for it.

We’ll review the book, then, to honor my commitment, and for once, I might keep some of my family business to myself.

(There’s a first time for everything, right?)

 

 

 

 

 

One of my publishing clients told me, a few months ago, that I should check out Gillian Laub’s new Aperture book, “Family Matters.”

With the East-Coast-Jewish-family-culture it mines, and the naked honesty on display, it was suggested I’d love this book.

And I’d likely want to review it.

(Sounds great, right?)

The problem, though, is that, Aperture, the publisher, has never sent me a book, nor seemed to take this column seriously.

All good, as far as I’m concerned, because we can’t be friends with everyone, but I feared I might have trouble getting a copy of “Family Matters.”

Predictably, the Aperture PR person ignored several requests, including when I responded to a press email that THEY sent ME.

(Stay classy, Aperture!)

Normally, I would have let it go, but a few weeks later, I randomly realized I was “friends” with Gillian Laub on Facebook, as I am with some other industry types I don’t actually know.

(I favorably reviewed some of her work in a gallery show in Santa Monica, back in 2013, so maybe we connected after that?)

I’ve never done this before, DM’ing an artist to see if they might send their book directly, after being stymied by the publisher, but I figured, “What do I have to lose?”

Full disclosure: I was flattered when Ms. Laub wrote back quickly, assured me she’d sort things out, and ask Aperture to send me a book straight away.

She made it happen, in a flash, so when she asked me to review the book while her solo show at the ICP Museum in NYC was still on display, I was happy to honor the request.

The exhibition is up through January 10th, and as I’ll be taking my customary Winter week off next Friday, today had to be the day.

(Brain fry be damned!)

 

 

 

 

It is a terrific book, for sure, and one I’m not likely to criticize.

I admit, at first, when I realized I’d have to read text with each picture, I almost backed out.

I thought about being a punk, for once, and not “doing the right thing,” but I came to my senses.

In fairness, the writing is engaging, and well-edited, so it wasn’t a struggle to make it through the book.

I was riveted, and made to feel uncomfortable by the similarities to my upbringing and family, and also the drastic differences.

That said, I don’t think you have to be a Jewish Gen-X’er to appreciate this one.

It offers what we ask of an excellent photo-book: vulnerability, empathy, wisdom, and character development.

 

 

 

 

“Family Matters” is written in the first person, and follows more than two decades of growth and change in Gillian Laub’s extended family, up to the present.

From the jump, we learn the family of Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants, (who arrived from Europe when my family did, at the turn of the 20th Century,) became extremely wealthy as real estate developers.

 

My paternal grandparents’ gravestones, 2021. Both were born here before WWI. Courtesy of Richard Blaustein

 

Now that I think about it, there’s solid foreshadowing for where we end up later, but I’ll build to that.

Gillian shares an anecdote of being an ICP student in 1999, chatting with colleagues outside the (then) Upper East Side institution, when some garish older ladies walk by, in full-fur coats, as her companion makes a joke at their expense.

Only for Gillian to realize it’s her family, out on the town, going to see art.

That vein of self-awareness, and airing the dirty laundry, stays with us throughout the book.

And I love it.

 

 

 

 

 

Pure coincidence, but I’ve been re-watching “The Sopranos” this week, having only seen it, bit by bit, when it was released in 1999.

 

Photo by Anthony Neste/ Getty Images, courtesy of GQ

 

I probably binged it on HBO a few episodes at time, whenever I’d come back to Taos to visit my parents, (and my wife’s parents,) as I was never able to afford HBO myself.

I grew up in a town filled with New Jersey, suburban mafiosi families, and have therefore always related to the show.

(Plus, Italian food feeds my soul, rather than Jewish deli. Honestly, I’d take pizza and chicken parm over pastrami and smoked fish every single time.)

This book reminds me of the seminal, David Chase saga, as the sense of legacy, privilege, and family values pervades the narrative.

Just as Tony Soprano’s life was determined by having a thug dad, and his kids never had the chance to be “normal,” Gillian Laub is pretty clear that her personal privilege dominates much of her life, despite her artistic tendencies and liberal politics.

(Though the New Yorkers in the book might blanch at the comparison to Jersey.)

 

 

 

 

That immigrant, nouveau-riche, American-dream narrative is cultivated throughout, as Gillian Laub’s clan “made it,” moving to the ritzy, Westchester town that seduced the social-climbing Clintons.

Chappaqua.

 

Hillary in Chappaqua in 1999. Photo by Steve Chernin/AP, courtesy of The Guardian

 

Beyond money, though, we continually read of close relationships.

Gillian feels truly loved by her parents.

She is seen, emotionally supported, and understood for who she is, from what I gather.

However, it’s just that sense of deep, rich love that leads to the conflict in “Family Matters.”

The big reveal, (spoiler alert,) is that Gillian’s parents, and some of her extended family, come out as serious Trumpers in 2016, and it nearly breaks their bonds forever.

That they are so connected makes the political betrayal deeper on both sides, as neither can relate to the other anymore.

Enmity replaces joy.

Anger trumps positivity.

All seems lost.

 

 

 

 

 

Still, proper rupture never happens, and I applaud the artist’s introspection, admitting while she maintained her progressive political leanings, she still accepted her parents’ money to pay for private school for her children.

(As one who’s spent 10 years sharing my personal life with you, my readers, I found the honesty refreshing.)

Of course, I should have mentioned the pictures by now, and they’re great.

Lots of humor, (sometimes at the subjects’ expense,) but also respect, solid compositions, and razor-sharp exposures.

When I saw the photo of the wedding planner, Harriette Rose Katz, I was teleported to that gallery in Santa Monica, 2013, back when Bergamot Station was still going strong, and I was reminded why I liked this work so much the first time I saw it.

 

 

 

 

In the end, Gillian’s family reconciles, after Joe Biden is inaugurated, but as I said before, it’s not like they ever formally broke.

They still showed up for the family functions.

Celebrated the birthdays.

Offered up the backyard for a Mary J Blige photo shoot.

(OK, probably none of us can relate to that last one, but I did wait on her and her then-husband, at Bobby Flay’s restaurant in 2003, and the way MJB’s man made us stay open late, and ordered off the menu, I knew he was a prick. If she had only asked me, I could have saved her a lot of heart-ache.)

This book is one for the collection, and if you live in the Tri-State area, I’d suggest you go see the show at ICP, Downtown, before it closes.

Their museum and school have moved many times, since Gillian was a student on the Upper East Side. (I saw my first-ever photo show there, and then engaged in naughty behavior with my wife in a new, mid-town location several years later.)

Like the photo world in general, ICP changes with the times.

But they stick around, because photography is as relevant now as it’s ever been.

To wrap this up, (so I can go back to packing for my trip,) thank you all for reading, and supporting this column in 2021.

May you and your loved ones have a safe, healthy, and invigorating 2022.

See you in two weeks!

 

To purchase “Family Matters” click here

 

 

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

The Art of the Personal Project: Todd Cole

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

 

Today’s featured artist:  Todd Cole

 

“This project is an exploration into the effects of migrant workers from South America upon the rural, agrarian communities in the Texas panhandle.  Immigrants have helped to transform the once declining Texas towns of Dalhart, Sunday, and Dumas, into thriving agricultural boomtowns.  The laborers work on cattle ranches and dairy farms, as well as own and operate small businesses, such as restaurants, bakeries, and clothing stores in these communities.  These towns have become dependent on this immigrant labor, and as a result the community are now embracing their new neighbors, leading to an open mindedness and integration of shared values.  This project was done in partnership with the Texas Observer and The Emerson Collective.”

 

To see more of this project, click here.

Instagram 

 

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

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

This Week in Photography: Old Friends

 

 

Big day today.

 

 

 

It’s the anniversary of the first time I met my wife.

December 23rd, 1997.

(I’m writing on Thursday, as usual.)

 

 

 

Without exaggeration, that was the most important day of my life.

We were young, only 23, and have been together ever since.

(More than half our lives.)

We met as kids, really, and have grown up together all these years.

Through the easy times, the hardships, and the magic of raising a family, Jessie and I forged a steel bond, and I’m lucky to have a soulmate who’s helped me become a better, stronger person.

 

The two of us, circa 2002. Jessie looks amazing. Me, not so much… courtesy of Keith Karstadt.

 

 

 

 

Yesterday was a big day as well.

Our daughter packed up her desk, leaving her current elementary school for good.

(She’s switching from the Charter school to the public one in our part of town after break.)

Amelie had an awful experience with Zoom school the prior two years in 2nd and 3rd grade. The same teacher, who mailed it in, simultaneously undermined her confidence at every turn.

When a teacher repeatedly implies a child is dumb, (because of undiagnosed dyslexia,) it eats away at her self-esteem, day by day.

I’m glad Amelie is moving to a healthier environment, (she’s amazing,) but it wasn’t just the education.

She’d known most of her classmates since pre-school; navigating the same social environment since before she could speak. These girls knew how to push each others’ buttons; they knew all the weak spots.

(Is that a mixed metaphor?)

 

 

 

 

Sometimes, we need a fresh group of friends, because the bonds we make when we’re young aren’t really based on who we are.

Or at least, they’re not based on who we’ll become.

Every now and again, you do run across people who are still besties with their childhood mates.

Some of my female friends from school remain a tight-knit group, supporting each other through all of life’s twists and turns. (Shout out to Chrissy, Michelle, Brooke, Mandi and Caroline!)

Occasionally, our teen-aged, angst-ridden, poetry-writing phase lines up with our friends’ trajectories, and we walk life’s path together.

It does happen.

 

 

 

 

If you think my musings were random today, you’re wrong.

Sometimes, the rant takes off on at a frozen airstrip in Antarctica, and lands in the sunny, moist jungle outside Cancun.

But not today.

I just finished looking at “Between Girls,” by Karen Marshall, published this year by Kehrer Verlag in Germany, and as you’ll soon see, my intro was on-point.

The book is very well-produced, to give it props, as it interweaves black and white documentary imagery from NYC in the 80’s, with diaristic text, video stills, contemporary imagery, and QR codes, while also switching paper stock several times, when the text rolls around.

Cool cover too.

Design-wise, I’d give this book an A+.

As to the narrative, I found it flawed, or at least, more about style than substance.

 

 

 

 

The story, at first, follows some NYC hipster high school kids, and they bop around the Upper West and East sides.

They describe hanging out downtown.

They talk about boys.

We read bad poetry, (no offense,) but then again, if I ever shared my High School poems with you, you’d laugh longer than the Covid testing lines in NYC, late December 2021.

(Too soon?)

The documentary photos are good, for sure, and after a few images, we can tell Molly from Leslie, but I’m still not sure if there was one Jen, or two?

This is the part of a book where traditionally I’d like to feel a connection develop with the protagonists, as I build empathy and connection as a viewer, but that didn’t really happen.

Soon, (spoiler alert,) we learn that Molly has died, but we don’t find how how or why until the end. (Car crash on vacation in Cape Cod at 17.)

Given the age, and emotional fragility of that life phase, I’d assumed she committed suicide.

 

 

 

 

Later, cool-looking text blocks tell us several of the women have backyard chickens.

The girls have grown up to become mothers.

They go to work.

They live their lives.

 

 

 

I can’t fault the visual structure, nor the quality of the photographs.

They’re good.

But I found myself wanting to care more.

I wanted to be moved.

To have my soul touched.

(In the words of “Succession’s” Cousin Greg, “Boo Souls!”)

 

Courtesy of The Ringer

 

 

 

 

To me, a book like this screams out for vulnerable, honest, first-person text from the jump.

(Instead, the opening prose was intentionally inscrutable.)

I want to hear from the artist, right away, to tell me what I’ll be looking at.

If I know Molly soon dies, as I’m perusing those first few pictures, it’s so much more poignant.

And then I want my heartstrings pulled by the surviving friends, to push it even further.

Hell, I might have cried.

(It’s happened before, in books about loss.)

But it’s still a job well done for the artist and the production team.

I’m just a tough critic.

See you next week!

 

To purchase “Between Girls” click here 

 

 

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

The Art of the Personal Project: Jessica Antola

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

 

Today’s featured artist:  Jessica Antola

Buying flowers at the bodega is one of New York City’s unsung small luxuries, and it had even more significance during the Covid-19 Pandemic lockdown when we were all so focused on making sure we had basic necessiDes. With this ongoing series of cheap bodega-bought flowers that I styled with plasDc bags, I wanted to create something beyond the bouquets’ literal circumstances. I think of them as a humble symbol of hope.

 

To see more of this project, click here.

Instagram

 

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

The Daily Edit – Lum Art Magazine: Debra Herrick


Lum Art Magazine

Editor & Founder: Debra Herrick, PhD

Heidi: You’re about to celebrate your 5th year anniversary of Lum Art, how has this project surprised you and what are your hopes for 2022?
Yes, this coming summer will be five years since we started Lum’s online forum, lumartzine.com. We started publishing the print magazine a bit later, in 2020.

Lum has surprised me in the way that it has found a niche in the community where it really resonates; and in some ways, and I hope this is true, this project my husband Arturo and I started five years ago now has a life of its own.

I’ve also been struck by how many talented people have collaborated with and contributed to Lum. It’s been incredible to be a part of a project that brings together so many different kinds of talent. I think I’m also surprised by how much I’ve personally grown in the process, especially as an arts editor and a publisher.

In 2022, I hope to see Lum continue to have a place in the community and to grow with the current moment.

The forced repose of 2020-2021 impacted all of us, did you see creativity as a coping tool info creating hope?
This is a hard question. I think for some artists, creative endeavors were helpful in coping. I think it was also bittersweet for some who were grateful to have more time and less distractions, but also struggled with anxiety or solitude. In our case, having Lum as a creative project was really grounding during quarantine. I think we benefitted from having purpose and goals as well.

We tried to approach our stories last year with an awareness that times were strange. I think that threadline is palpable in each issue. But I think that if Lum created hope, it was through following through with our plans to publish the biannual print magazine. Many projects – especially in the art world – were being shuttered. We published on a shoestring, but we decided to keep going and stay present. We hoped that Lum would be a source of connection and community for people, especially during a time when many were feeling disconnected.

Who was recently awarded from your latest fundraiser in Santa Barbara? The ping pong competition was a hit!
Our first benefit event was awesome. We threw a Ping Pong Paella Party on Dec. 4, and we raised $10,000 to underwrite our print mag and two new programs: a biannual art prize and an arts writing fellowship, both to be awarded to individuals from historically underrepresented communities including BIPOC and people with disabilities.

Our first art prize winner is Vanessa Wallace-Gonzales and the 2022 arts writing fellow is Ryan P. Cruz.

How many times do you publish? 
We publish the print magazine twice a year. The electronic version can be read on lumartzine.com. The print mag is free and can be ordered in our shop (there’s a cost for shipping & handling) or you can email me for a list of where to pick one up in the Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo area.

How do artist and writers connect with you?
Email is usually best, editor@lumartzine.com.

This Week in Photography: Visiting NOLA, Part 1

 

 

Short column today.

I’ve teased easy-breezy-reads before, only to drop 1800 words on you.

But not today.

(I swear.)

 

 

 

 

It’s Thursday morning, (as usual,) but the last week-and-a-half has been anything but typical.

 

 

 

 

It began a week ago Tuesday, when I left at 8:30am for ABQ, to catch 2 planes to New Orleans for an evening arrival.

That’s not unusual, a trip taking nearly 12 hours door-to-door, but sure enough, my plane was delayed in Houston, and then cancelled, as they shut the NOLA airport due to fog.

It took two days to get there, and I spent the rest of the week schmoozing, eating, drinking, reviewing portfolios, walking around the city, seeing exhibitions, drinking some more, and having a lot of fun.

I got home Sunday evening, after waking at 3:30am for an early flight, and while I was regenerating brain cells, yesterday morning, we had a wind and ice storm knock out the power and internet for 26 hours.

Right now, I’m barely functional.

I’m asking for a tiny bit of empathy, (as it’s not like we had tornados,) so let’s get the show on the road.

 

 

 

 

 

This was my first IRL festival since the world shut in March, 2020, and man was it fun.

I spent much of 2021 on PhotoNOLA’s advisory council, and made my feelings clear, from the jump, that getting people together in-person, (safely,) creates a positive energy impossible to replicate online.

Having cool, creative, hard-working artists in the same room builds camaraderie, and the possibility of new opportunities, which form the backbone of the fine art photo world in the US.

Certainly, I laughed harder than I have in years, drank more booze in a weekend than I do in 6 months of lock-down-life, and was palpably reminded what an amazing group of people we are, as a community.

Kudos to the New Orleans Photo Alliance, and PhotoNOLA, for making this happen!

As usual, I saw a ton of great work, and will write about the best portfolios I saw in a future article.

 

 

 

 

 

I caught a killer photo installation of wet plate collodion work, in the Houston airport, by Keliy Anderson-Staley, which I’ll share with you here.

 

“In Passing,” by Keliy Anderson-Staley

 

Normally, airport art is forgettable, but I also saw some wonderful paintings in the NOLA airport by Richard C. Thomas on the way home, so let’s drop them into the narrative as well.

 

Paintings by Richard C Thomas

 

When I first arrived in New Orleans, hungry as a mistreated dog, I walked the two short blocks from the International House Hotel, (which is gorgeous,) to the French Quarter, looking for some cheap, tasty street food.

 

Hotel lobby

 

I found the aptly named Istanbul Cafe, where I got an excellent chicken shawarma wrap, which fit the bill, and I went back on Saturday night, to get some dinner that would also serve as breakfast for my early morning.

 

Istanbul Cafe in the French Quarter

Chicken Shawarma platter. So good!

 

Next, I headed to Walgreens, for a bottle of room-booze, (Bulleit Bourbon,) and a four-pack of blue Gatorade, because once you hit 47, you don’t want to be drinking heavily without a plan.

When bars charge $15 per shot, getting a full bottle of good whiskey for $24 means you can hit the streets with a nice buzz, hook up your friends for happy hour, and generally manage the hair-of-the-dog situation.

The Gatorade is great for preventing/managing hangovers, as is my nightly ritual of 2 Advil and 1 Benadryl before sleep.

The greasy follow-up breakfast is also key, and I hit the really great Majoria’s Commerce Restaurant each morning, which was literally across the street from the hotel.

Day one, bacon egg and cheese on a homemade biscuit.

So good!

Day two, (the breakfasts got bigger each day, as the hangovers stacked up,) I had their loaded hash-browns, which had cheese, jalapeños and sautéed peppers atop the potatoes, with 2 eggs, a side biscuit, and an extra side of smoked sausage. (A local speciality.)

 

Commerce. Legit.
Loaded hash-browns with smoked sausage
I don’t normally eat like this…

 

Day three, all that, plus a side of grits. (Each day, I grazed on the food, a bit at a time, to combat the encroaching hangovers.)

If you’re going to abuse your body for a few days at a time, in a party city like New Orleans, I’m telling you, a solid plan is required.

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, during the blackout, the kids and I played hangman, and laughed for a solid hour. (When your 14-year-old uses “puta” in-game, you can assume fun was had.)

I shared the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention,” as we lived all day without electricity or internet, and found new ways to amuse ourselves.

I’m glad the power is back, but honestly, that kind of out-of-routine experience is what makes memories.

It’s a lot like traveling, and I’ll remember this NOLA adventure for a long time.

Beyond the hilarious trip on a school bus, (where I was named bus captain, reporting to the driver, Ms. Jackie,) the wonderful parties, and a great visit to the Bayou Beer Garden, I also had dinner with a few friends at the über-trendy, insanely delicious Italian restaurant Sofia.

(Brilliant fresh pasta, fantastic pizzas, great meatballs, and a house-made ricotta, radish and flat bread appetizer that was so much better than it sounds.)

 

Sofia, the next morning
Enjoying a great meal with my buddy Frances

 

Art installation on the wall of Sofia

 

As we walked the streets, a group of 5 revelers, including 4 photographers, we stepped directly over a highly mutilated pigeon, and I was the only one to even notice.

I grabbed a photo for you, (trigger warning, it’s gross,) because that’s a part of the fun of seeing new things.

 

Extremely dead pigeon

 

Across the street, a white cathedral glowed in the artificial light.

 

St Patrick’s Church, 1833

 

Quite the NOLA juxtaposition.

 

 

 

In a world in which many of us stayed home for a year, not-too-long-ago, I’m here to remind you that travel really does make us smarter, happier, and richer-in-experience.

So get out there, as soon as you can…

I’ll be back next week, and will share more about NOLA when I feature photographic portfolios in early 2022.

Hasta luego!

 

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Grace Chon

 

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

 

Today’s featured artist:  Grace Chon

 

PANDEMIC FOOD

I planted it, watered it, harvested it, cooked it, styled it, photographed it, and ate it.

I started gardening in 2009 not too long after I started my photography business because I was stressed out and needed a hobby.

Over the years as my career got busier and busier, I found myself harvesting tons of beautiful produce but lacking the time to cook and eat everything.

In 2020 when the world came to a screeching halt and I became an unemployed photographer and full time Zoom school teacher to my son, I finally found some time to cook all the beautiful food I grew in my garden. What I thought was a pause on my photography career turned out to be a time of creating something deeply fulfilling while being slow and intentional. These are some of the things I grew and created during my 2 years of lockdown and unemployment, all shot with an iPhone.

To see more of this project, click here.

Instagram

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

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

 

 

The Daily Edit: Ethan VanDusen


Ethan VanDusen

Heidi: For the In n Out image by the airport how much planning went into that?
Ethan: I had seen this image a few times cycle through my Instagram feed from fellow photographers based in the LA area. Growing up in Maine, the possibility of getting a shot like this just didn’t exist. I knew the location of the shot but that was about it. To be honest, not much planning went into this particular shot. It was more just, get there, set up my camera, adjust my settings and shutter speed and wait for a jet to fly over. It took a few tries dialing everything in due to the fact it was well past sunset, getting the jet as motionless as possible was not an option, so figuring out my settings to keep the jet from looking like a blur in the sky took a little time, but I was happy with the result I produced.

What draws you to low light/night photography and who or what are your inspirations?
I never really thought of myself as a “night shooter”. I mostly shot landscapes and brand photos before moving to California in 2018. One evening, during the beginning of the pandemic, the cabin fever hit. I needed to get out of the house. I had been to LA a few times before to explore during the day but really wanted to see the city at night. I knew due to the pandemic, the streets would be a bit more calm than normal. So I packed my camera bag, grabbed my tripod and drove down to see what I could find. I got to the heart of Downtown LA right around sunset. There were a few of the classic LA spots that I wanted hit. The Korean Bell of Friendship, the 4th Street overpass and a few others. Upon taking my first photos at a low shutterspeed and seeing the results, I was hooked. The light trails, the somewhat moody, ominous look these photos produced sunk their claws into me and drew me in. I had tried experimenting with light trails in Portland, Maine a few times, but never had much luck. Come to LA and BAM, these were the shots I had always really wanted to take. A few photographers really inspire me in the night photography world, Andrew Wille (@andrewoptics), Kyle Meshna (@meshna), and Mike Will (@m.visuals) are three I think produce amazing content and constantly push me to become a better photographer.

Can you tell us about the lake in Maine water skiing clip, I mean, those conditions…
I was home in Maine for my birthday and was lucky enough to receive a drone as a gift from my family. One night, we were at a rented lake house and there was an absolute banger of a sunset. I hadn’t flown my drone other than a few test flights so I figured I would fly out over the lake and capture the scene from above as the light faded. While I was flying I noticed a slalom water skier being towed behind a boat. I watched for a few moments and as much of the light was gone, the skiers spray was catching all the orange light from the sky, giving a look of flaming water spray. It was the first drone video I ever took, and still my favorite to date. Sometimes things just workout without any planning whatsoever and that was definitely the case that evening.

How did your love of photography come about and how long have you been using drones?
 I took a film photography class in High School. My teacher, Ms. Brown was the first one to really instill that love of photography in me. After that class, I didn’t purse photography much until years later. My dad’s friend gave him an old Nikon D40. It was a pretty old camera, but I loved the ease of digital photography. I shot on that camera for about a year and produced some very mediocre photos. I wasn’t too happy with the photos I was producing so I sold that camera in a yard sale. A few years went by and signed up for a few courses at the Maine Media College in Rockport Maine. One of my professors, Kate Izor (who is now the personal photographer for Roger Waters!) was the one I really credit with putting that deep love of photography in my brain. She taught me some Lightroom basics and showed me how to really use a camera to its fullest potential. I had the itch to start shooting again. I did a little research and decided I wanted to go with a mirrorless camera. The Sony A6000 was my first camera I had since the D40 and that really made a huge difference. I bought Lightroom and the rest it pretty much history. I have been shooting pretty consistently since then and developing my skills over the years.

I have been using drones for only about a year now. That has been a huge help when I’m going through a creative slump. I sometimes get uninspired using my camera but having the option to photograph from a bird’s eye view always re-inspires me. I now like to photograph the same place from both ground and sky, it helps me create different images and sometimes a boring scene on the ground can be stunning from the sky. The water skier is a perfect example of this. From the dock, it looked like every other water skier on the lake, from above, it added so much more beauty.

The drone still that I shared is of downtown LA, it’s a composite of three images taken from different heights. I stitched them together in Photoshop to create a vertical panorama of the skyline downtown. I love this photo just based off the perspective and depth.

What have you learned about the creative journey?
For anyone going through a creative slump, just know we all go through them. I find myself having creative block a lot more than I would like to admit. I always find inspiration from other photographers. It sounds goofy, but when I see creators producing amazing content, I almost get jealous. It drives me to get out and produce content of my own. Just know that everyone experiences these creative slumps, it just takes drive and desire to get back out there and start creating again.

One other thing, nobody picks up a camera and starts taking stellar images right off the bat. Take your time, hone your skills, find a subject matter you love to shoot and focus on that at the beginning. Once you have your skills dialed in that field, branch out and try other styles of photography. Finding a photography community is also a great way to grow your skills, and tips or tricks from fellow photographers are always nice to receive.

Featured Promo – Dave Creaney

Dave Creaney

Who printed it?
It was printed at a small web press operation in Marble Falls, Texas. (about an hour outside of Austin) Their website and contact seem to be gone, I fear they didn’t make it through the pandemic.

Who designed it?
I designed it in photoshop myself but had a friend give me a hand getting it properly laid out in InDesign and press-ready.

Tell me about the images.
The subjects are all types of folks from in and around Austin. The cover shot is actually a judge out in Bastrop county, the Honorable Charles Carver. He and I worked in kitchens together years ago; one time he chipped my tooth with a microphone during a duet version of ‘My Way’ at karaoke. There are musicians, chefs, tattoo artists: weirdos, and friends of mine. I hand-painted the backdrop in my friend’s driveway and tried to light them all more or less the same.

How many did you make?
Since they were done on a web press, most of the cost was in setup fees. When the owner of the print shop called to quote me for 500 copies, he said the cost for 1000 would be practically the same. So naturally, I went with 1000. I still have a lot to give out though!

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I’m still pretty new to the marketing game. I’ve sent out a handful of postcard-type mailers with different designs before these newsprint ones.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
People are usually very responsive to these if I put one into their hands. It’s hard to judge the mailed versions though. I love printed materials regardless. That’s what’s especially great about these in my opinion – I really don’t have to be precious with them. I leave them in bars and coffee shops and put them into anyone’s hand that will stop long enough to let me.

This Week in Photography: Visiting Chicago Part 2

 

 

I’m writing on a Monday.

(Monday morning, in fact.)

I’m not going to lie.

It kind-of sucks.

 

 

Thankfully, there’s a good reason for the routine-shake-up.

Tomorrow, I’m off to New Orleans to attend the always-fun PhotoNOLA festival.

It will be my first IRL photo-event since the world shut in March 2020, and I can not wait to see friends, review portfolios, eat amazing food, and stroll around the beautiful French/Spanish/Creole/American city.

(Honestly, up until recently, I didn’t know Spain controlled New Orleans for forty years.)

On Wednesday, PhotoNOLA will be releasing six video interviews I did on their behalf, for the Virtual BookFair, and I was fortunate to speak to a really cool collection of artists and publishers.

I’ll include the link, even though it hasn’t happened yet, (for me,) and it’s already happened, when you’ll read this piece.

(Such a 2021 time-warp. Appropriate for a strange fucking year.)

 

 

 

 

Between writing on a Monday, still feeling discombobulated from the crazy book I reviewed on Friday, and needing to get my house in order for a big trip, I don’t have many available brain cells at the moment.

Certainly not enough to read/look at a new photobook, process it, think deeply, then spit out an appropriately-intelligent review, as you’ve come to expect these last 10 years.

Instead, we’re going to pivot.

Before I fill my head with a host of new stimuli down in Louisiana, I thought we’d time-jump back to mid-October, when I went to Chicago to eat, drink, be merry, and see some great art.

Thankfully, that last goal was met at the Art Institute of Chicago.

(If you can’t see amazing things there, you’re not trying hard enough.)

 

 

 

 

I was a bit sad the Hokusai/Hiroshige exhibition closed a few days before my visit, and will openly admit I didn’t do enough homework to know the well-received Barbara Kruger show was happening while I was there.

As a critic, I’ll offer a “my bad,” as I ought to have dialed in the radar, but my goal was to see the André Kertész show, (for you photo geeks,) in particular because my friend Greg was involved in the curation.

So with that as my action plan, I strolled South a couple of miles along Michigan Avenue, and stopped to take a photo for you, where the Chicago River emerges from the massive Lake.

 

 

I caught a cool video art installation in Millennium Park, and have since learned it was called Crown Fountain, by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, featuring images of Chicago residents.

 

 

When I got to the museum, I let instinct be my guide, (as I arrived mid-afternoon, and didn’t have much time,) and headed up a floor in the Contemporary wing.

(The Museum is really two buildings connected together, and I’ve been through the historical wing a few times now.)

I found the opportunity to commune with some of the true greats of the 20th Century, including a few of my all-time favorites: Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Charles Ray.

As to Pollock and Rothko, there’s not much I can say that hasn’t been written a thousand times.

I’ll admit the work, which is large-scale, and overwhelms the body with emotion, needs to be experienced in person to be understood.

 

Two Pollock paintings

 

Abstract Expressionism leans heavily on both words, and the feelings and energy expressed impose on your soul, (in a good way,) which is why museums are so bloody important.

(Sorry for the English slang. I’ve got an Arsenal game coming on in a few hours.)

Standing in the middle of a room full of Rothkos, none of which I’d seen before, is akin to sitting on the sand, staring at the Pacific Ocean.

 

 

His paintings are the only art that’s ever made me feel that way, and the experience alone was worth schlepping from Taos to Chicago.

However, I also got to be creeped out by an insane, large-scale boy sculpture by Charles Ray, which also needs no explanation.

 

 

Is it Hansel before he gets eaten? The inspiration behind Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit? One of the kids from “The Sound of Music”?

Really, who’s to say?

 

 

 

Beyond that, I loved an installation by the brilliant Kerry James Marshall, the beautiful portrait of Chicago’s Barack Obama by Jordan Casteel, and these two super-textural paintings by Japanese artists Shimamoto Shozo and Shiraga Fujiko.

 

 

 

 

 

This Roy Lichtenstein painting was bonkers good, and held my attention for 5 minutes or so.

 

 

What a joy!

I was also mesmerized by this David Hockney painting, called “American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman,) which I stood before for a good 6 minutes.

 

 

It was so seductive, in his SoCal sort of way, but like the Raymond Jonson painting I saw in Albuquerque earlier this Fall, it also felt Anti-Semitic.

When I reviewed that show, it was the first time I’d ever leveled that accusation in my career, but here, I recognized the feeling again.

A clearly unflattering depiction of a wealthy, Jewish art patron.

Is it OK to paint people as unattractive?

Sure, why not?

But when a person within a culture feels a negative emotional reaction to an old trope, (one used to denigrate a people for millennia,) I think it deserves mention.

 

 

 

 

Next up, I’ve got to discuss the issue of the exploitation of the female form by famous, powerful, White artists.

I realize at this point, I’ve been covering this subject throughout the pandemic, and maybe it’s time to let it go.

But I’ll let you be the judge if it’s worth considering today.

Richard Prince, who’s taken heavy fire from the photo-world for years, based upon his appropriation of Sam Abell’s work, and then Patrick Carou, had some pin-up photos of pretty, topless, young women, and I really thought they were tacky.

 

 

But they were joined by cheesy, exploitative work by Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons.

 

(I normally love Warhol’s paintings, as he’s been a huge inspiration to me.)

 

 

As I stood there, in the museum in 2021, I couldn’t help but wonder if the curators were oblivious to the cultural moment?

Really, is this the time to be flaunting such things, when one has an entire basement filled with genius works?

Do we need to see big, bulging breasts painted/sculpted by rich, old (or dead) White guys?

I say no.

And the only female artist of that level of renown in those galleries was Cindy Sherman, whose images both critique and simultaneously reinforce the stereotype of the young, blonde, damsel-in-distress.

 

 

Sure, we all know Cindy was subverting tropes, but the AIC draws plenty of “regular citizens,” and in the context of the Prince, Warhol and Koons work, I suspect Sherman’s subversive photographs are themselves subverted.

 

 

 

 

Lastly, I’ll show some images from the André Kertész exhibit, which focused only on small prints he made during stint living in Paris.

 

 

Normally, that wouldn’t matter, (the size of the photographs,) but after looking at so much big work, reveling in the power of scale, I admit it was hard to get so close to small pictures to absorb the details.

(The one Mondrian painting included, b/c Kertesz had photographed his studio, was a brilliant touch.)

 

 

There were beautiful night scenes in Paris, including images of the Eiffel Tower. (Naturally.)

 

 

And we also saw some well-constructed interior photos. (Including Mondrian’s studio, which explains the original painting on the wall.)

 

 

But wouldn’t you know it, one of Kertesz’s prominent subjects, while living in Paris, was shooting pretty and/or striking young women.

 

 

Like Paul McCartney admitting in a recent New Yorker article that he got into a band to catch birds, (English slang for girls,) I’m not going to hate on Kertész for gravitating his camera towards attractive women.

So many photographers have done it, and it’s not for nothing that Hollywood, (and the entertainment industry in general,) treats gorgeous young women as such prized commodities.

Certainly, these photographs were excellent, and held my attention while my brain cells slowly rebelled against me. (It was nearly 4pm on a day I walked 15 miles.)

But it is a good place to end today’s column.

When we describe “agency” and “power dynamics” in 2021, it’s within the context of a long history of the exploitation of women by men.

Sure, anyone can photograph anything they want these days, as long as the subject is a consenting adult.

I do think each artist who likes to photograph “hot chicks,” in our new times, should have a pretty compelling reason to do so, given our culture of objectification.

That’s all I’ve got.

Lots of reporting from New Orleans up ahead.

See you next week!

 

The Art of the Personal Project: Christaan Felber

 

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

 

Today’s featured artist:  Christaan Felber

 

It’s been eighteen months since the global pandemic was first announced. It was a rare time where the machine of society, usually loud and seemingly unstoppable, came to a grinding halt and the resulting moment of silence remained etched in the memory of humanity for a lifetime. The sense of paranoia was dense, like a fog that had wrapped itself around the world. We were all facing an invisible enemy that had the ability to take the shape of anyone: our neighbors, our friends, our loved ones. The crisis also introduced us to a slew of new laws and rules. The most popular being the enforcement of always maintaining a minimum distance of six feet apart from everyone. We were constantly being reminded of this seemingly arbitrary distance just about everywhere. It was written on the floors of grocery stores and announced in the news, on the radio and over PA systems. Unfortunately, it also served to push the symbolic wedge even further between us.

As a human, it was scary and heartbreaking. As a professional portrait photographer, it was devastating. It had seemed we’d completely lost our ability to empathize. We were collectively in fight-or-flight mode and the thought of even approaching a stranger felt impossible and maybe even dangerous. My ability to connect with people and take their portrait, a skill I had constantly been working on and strengthening, had already begun to atrophy. I felt like an Olympic runner who had been damned to a potential eternity in bed. So, I decided to do something.

I wanted to use these circumstances as a challenge to connect with strangers and, by using an outstretched tape measure set at exactly six feet, include a visual representation of the physical and emotional distance that had been set between us. I approached people everywhere I went customers and check-out clerks in department stores, people I’d see walking through town, strangers in parking lots, and UPS workers delivering packages. At first, I was nervous; I didn’t know what to expect, but after some time began feeling more comfortable establishing rapport with people. It almost felt normal. I then realized that by using the very thing that had gotten me into photography to begin with – that of utilizing a camera to connect with people – had allowed me to reestablish trust again and, for a brief moment, for the fog of fear and paranoia to gently part.

To see more of this project, click here.

 

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

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

 

The Daily Edit – Ash Adams: Patagonia

Fall 2021 Patagonia Journal

Photographer: Ash Adams

Assistant: Sarah Pulcino

Photo Director: Heidi Volpe
Art Director: Annette Scheid
Editor: Madalina Preda

Heidi: How long have you been living in Anchorage, what brought you there and why have you stayed?
Ash: I  have been living in Anchorage now for a little over ten years, with a brief year a few years before that before I left for grad school. Honestly, I came up to Anchorage because I was burning out working in cities in the lower 48 and wasn’t making the work I wanted to; being a young journalist is such a hectic, yet formative time, and my personality needed to be somewhere where it could breathe. I felt that in Alaska I could work as a freelancer and really sink into a place. Alaska has very few photojournalists who work for national media to this day, and very few women. So it felt like an opportunity to cover underreported stories and also an opportunity to learn.

I’ve stayed for a number of reasons, but mostly I tell people that I’ve stayed because I love it here, and I do. I love how much space is here, how much wilderness. Before living in Alaska, I had almost no acquaintance with the outdoors; I would need to take a minute anytime I came to “You are Entering Bear Country” sign at the start of even the most trafficked trails. Now, it is not uncommon for me to be backpacking for days (and sometimes weeks) alone. I found a place in the world through becoming comfortable in wilderness that I had no idea I needed. My children, now 7 and 9, backpack with me as well.
I love the people here, and many cultures, foods, and dialects. I love how much I have learned from the people here.

Having my children here, and with a person who is Inupiat, is obviously another pull. Making sure that they are close to and connected to their heritage is important to me, as is making sure that they feel that they have a place in the world, which I think comes from being connected to the land.

You’ve obviously earned trust from the community in order to share their stories in a variety of outlets. I would think this is reciprocal, what has the community taught you? 
The communities within Alaska have taught me so much that this is particularly hard to answer, but Alaska has especially taught me about the concept of community itself. Alaska is an island made up of islands, and so every person in a community matters. It is easier to see the responsibility each person has in a small place and to therefore see your own. People see each other here. After one assignment, I was driving at night and the snow drifts were huge and the roads were slick, so even though I was driving carefully and had the right tires and right car for this, I slid into a bank and was absolutely stuck. I had no cell service and my GPS had died a while back. Within about 6 minutes, a truck came down the road, and two teenage boys hopped out, pulled out a tow rope, and just pulled my car out of the snow, with almost no words (and of course they would accept no money). It is this small act that honestly was huge. And teenagers already knew to do that; they’d been taught to see the people around them and acknowledge that they are part of the story of the world. I think about things like this a lot lately; individualism has a very dark and damaging side, and being a part of a place like this gives my heart hope.
And then there’s languages and cultures; the concept of what real family looks and feels like; the tastes of whale, seal, bear, moose, caribou, and so many other flavors I’d never had before; what resilience looks like–the list goes on and on. I am grateful in every way.
Ash Adams loading film while Photographing Warren Jones for Patagonia./Photo by Sarah Pulcino

Patagonia asked you to find a local assistant for this project, how did that align with goals you already had for mentorship?
Diversity within the photo industry has been a hot topic in the last few years, but it’s been on my mind for well over a decade. I currently am a founder of a mentorship program, Show and Tell Alaska, with my ex-husband and co-parent, Brian Adams, who is both a phenomenal photographer and person, and the program was developed in response to a lack of diversity in photojournalism and in this state. People do not necessarily need a degree to be able to tell their stories to a larger audience, and for many and especially in rural Alaska, that doesn’t make sense; I think aspiring photojournalists need people to show them how to hone skills they’ve already started to elevate their work and then they need contacts within this specific industry that people often come to through educational programs (where people also learn about all of the workshops that will build them up, too). The lack of diversity in the industry is due in large part to just not having access–to mentors, to contacts. There have been many, many photographers who have come to Alaska from outside on $20,000 (or higher) grants to do a weekend workshop on i-phone photography in a village who then use the contacts for their stories and bail, and we wanted to do something that could actually help diversify our industry in this diverse and geographically complex state in a meaningful way.

So, all that is to say that working with Sarah Pulcino (who is currently in the mentorship program, but was not yet at the time), aligns with my values for a number of reasons; there are not many Indigenous female photojournalists in this state, and I want to support her journey in any way that I can. She’s talented and lovely to work with.

Did you know Waren prior to this assignment?
I did, but not well; Alaska is a small-town state, and Warren is a brilliant writer who travels in similar circles, so we had met casually here and there over the years. After this assignment, however, Warren and I (and his family) have become a great deal closer, which was an unexpected benefit from making the work.

You have a love for writing, poetry that come up while photographing Warren?
Warren and I likely talked about his writing during the shoot, though I’m not sure that we’ve ever talked about poetry (in addition to journalism, I publish roughly a couple of poems a year in literary magazines, which is something I started doing in my early 20’s, but it’s such a tangential part of myself that it rarely comes up). We often tend to talk about ideas more than anything, and my recollection of the conversations of the day were no different. His article for Patagonia is a great example of the deep wells that he gets into on his own and that we also get into collaboratively; he is a deep thinker who revels in the way things connect. That we both love words I think becomes a kind of framework but not the subject of conversation. (If that makes sense!)

This Week in Photography: Looking Back

 

 

I just saw a massive hawk.

(Up in a tree.)

 

 

 

They’re around a lot, this time of year, the red-tailed hawks.

The brown, dead grass makes it easy to spot prey, so they sit and wait, before swooping with efficient ferocity.

I’ve noticed, over the years, whenever you get too close, the hawks fly away.

 

 

 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a threat or not.

Either way, as soon as you reach their discomfort zone, off they go.

(That’s nature for you.)

 

 

 

 

The coyotes are no different.

I’ve seen two this week; their sand-gray coats blending perfectly with the ground color in winter.

(Until the snow comes.)

If you want to appreciate a coyote, and watch the way it moves, you have to stand perfectly still, and if you’re inside, never open the door to get a better look.

They always spook.

Always.

Again, it’s in their nature.

At the merest hint, the faintest whiff of trouble, off they go.

(It’s not for nothing coyotes are such great survivors.)

 

 

 

 

 

This week, in addition to watching hawks and coyotes, I’ve also been following The Beatles massive new documentary, “Get Back,” on Disney+, by the master of lengthy story-telling: Peter Jackson.

(Trying to explain to my kids why “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy was such a big deal, in an era of digital-effects-ubiquity, was more difficult than I might have imagined.)

 

Courtesy of IMDb

 

We’re only halfway through Episode 2, but I needn’t bother with spoiler alerts.

We all know how the story ends.

The Beatles break up.

 

 

 

 

 

They go out on top, as their late-stage-music is some of the best ever recorded.

But they also dissolve the group, more-or-less hating each other.

A decade of unhealthy relationship patterns turned the band into a ticking time-bomb, and the only question was when it would go off.

Not if.

There is a phenomenal moment, early in Episode 2, that Sir Paul must have nightmares about, as he correctly predicts in 50 years time, people will shake their heads that The Beatles broke up because Yoko Ono sat on an amp.

(Sidebar: Peter Jackson’s opening disclaimer scrupulously states each person is rendered accurately. If that’s true, Yoko was an inscrutably odd bird.)

Immediately after his prediction, though, the film cuts to a scene in which Paul and John are secretly recorded at lunch. The dynamic duo basically admits they ganged up on poor George all these years, denying him power or agency.

The agree (again, not knowing they were being taped,) that he had a right to be pissed at them.

It gives context to the narrative that George is ready to ride off into the sunset, with his Hare Krishna buddies, who at least show him some GODDAMN RESPECT!

 

 

What The Beatles prove, not-quite-exactly 50 years ago, is that unresolved emotional issues in relationships can doom even the most productive, successful, lucrative “family” the world has ever seen.

If you can’t sort out your business, it’s going to blow.

That’s as much a law of nature as spooking hawks.

 

 

 

 

 

When a person has tried every way to make things better, and failed, eventually that person will tap out.

Or go down in flames.

And this week’s book, “Tulsa, OK,” sent in by Victor d’Allant, a French photographer based in San Francisco, makes that point visually explicit.

Page after page.

This one came in Summer 2021, but I bumped it up the pile, as it represents two anniversaries at once.

“Tulsa, OK” was published this year, on the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, and the 50th anniversary of Larry Clark’s seminal book “Tulsa.”

Speaking as an artist, a critic, and a human, the cold-open “Watchmen” recreation of the Tulsa Race Massacre was one of the most disturbing, riveting things I’ve ever seen filmed.

(Up there with the beginning of “Saving Private Ryan.”)

Larry Clark’s “Kids” would also make the short list, as watching poor, young Chloë Sevigny get HIV from her punk boyfriend almost made me vomit. (Should I have said spoiler alert? The movie is 26 years old.)

 

Courtesy of IMDb

 

And Clark’s “Tulsa” was one of the first photo books I was shown in class, at UNM in the late 90’s, and until that moment, I hadn’t realized anyone could make art that way.

 

 

 

 

As the well-written, extensive opening essay in “Tulsa, OK” explains, Larry Clark lived within the world he was documenting, in Oklahoma, and Victor d’Allant did not.

The former was a junkie, making photos of his own world, the latter is a “Visual Anthropologist” with a single-mother-drug-dealer as a fixer, introducing him around the sad, defeated city.

Said fixer, Julie Winter, actually wrote the intricate introduction, in which tells us she knew Victor before she ended up Tulsa, and invited him to come check it out.

Julie refers to this book, (as well as Clark’s,) as “grotesque, terrifyingly awful, full of despair.”

That about sums it up.

The text briefly mentions d’Allant photographs his subjects naked, but I don’t think it really landed in my consciousness when I read it. (At least, not enough to prepare me for what was coming.)

The quote is here:

“Many subjects in both Larry’s and Victor’s books are pretty much naked, as if they both felt their sitters were trying to display some human softness in this awful universe. But in truth, it’s a clever way for the artists to show what would be hidden beneath clothes: cuttings made in desperation, tattoos ordered on some drunken whim, flesh damaged by too many pregnancies…In Tulsa, Victor told me one night as I was trying to fall asleep, ‘nudity shows the fragility of life and the difficulty of survival.'”

 

 

 

 

 

I say this now, because it would be impossible not to discuss the elephant in the room, with respect to this book.

Given how much I’ve written about the male gaze in the last year, and the question of when, if ever, men photographing nude women is OK, (because of power dynamics,) I just couldn’t resolve the tension.

So many of the portraits of down-and-out, attractive young women, topless, or totally nude, struck me as exploitative to the point of obscenity.

Many viewers would likely dismiss this book immediately, and on the final page, even the text editor is credited as anonymous, because he doesn’t want his name associated with the book.

OK.

I said it.

But when a book is admittedly meant to be “terrifyingly awful,” you need to expect some fucked up shit within.

(And I will not be sharing any of the explicit photos below.)

 

 

 

 

 

The book is dynamic in its design, featuring messaging-app-style text bubbles, calendars, and really excellent image placement, with respect to the visual path.

There is a fire-engine red throughout, and as Victor is from Paris, I need to acknowledge in every episode of “House Hunters International” I’ve ever seen filmed there, that color has always been included in home interiors.

Always.

To the point that Jessie and I joke about it.

They’re filming in Paris?

We’re gonna see that red…

I guess it represents passion, or desire.

Maybe both.

But the quality of the production here, and the compelling, first-person stories of violence, addiction, depravity and love, within the context of a culture of poverty, kept me glued to my seat.

Page after page, my jaw would drop.

I never got comfortable with why the women were depicted topless, when confronting the camera directly, but there are some images, done in a documentary style, where the action is not directed by the photographer… and yes, the nudity makes sense there.

Trigger warning: one story describes a woman being fisted while she’s having her period, and I really hoped we wouldn’t see that illustrated, but we do, in full color.

Damn!

For a book trying to reflect on the vision of Larry Clark’s “Tulsa,” and the worst racially-motivated massacre in American history, I get that controversy serves a purpose.

(Which is why I’m reviewing this book, and why I don’t think it should be banned, panned, or denied its existence.)

It’s a seriously fucked up book about a seriously fucked up subject.

I’m guessing Victor d’Allant is an edgy dude, and though it might be cliché, the French supposedly consider Americans to be prudish.

The structure of book implies that all the subjects chose to be photographed, but if you’re high as a kite, can you actually offer consent?

(He even does a ride-along with the cops, which pisses off his new-underworld-buddies.)

So there we are for today.

Most of you will probably hate this book.

Some of you will love it.

As my old basketball coach used to say, “Where you stand depends on where you sit.”

 

To purchase “Tulsa OK” click here

 

 

 

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

The Art of the Personal Project: 2021 Books to Purchase for the Holidays

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

 

Today’s featured artist:  Various Photographic Artist and their published books of photographers I have featured on “The Art of the Personal Project”

Sam Kittner:

Faceless Faces in Public Places is a curated collection of 80 images made during the pandemic.  And can be ordered here

 

David Black:

 

Candy Mountain is the final installment in David Black’s trilogy of titles with Hat & Beard Press. It follows his first two volumes, Cerro Gordo and The Days Change at Night, on another magnificent photographic journey, this time through the vast Western landscapes of his childhood memories and current geographical explorations.  Pre-order here

 

Grace Chon

Japanese dog grooming does not follow the rules of traditional, breed- standard grooming. In fact, it only has one mission―to make dogs look as adorable as possible! With extreme attention to detail and careful consideration of a pup’s best attributes, Japanese dog groomers and salons achieve the perfect transformation by forgetting uniform looks and getting creative.  Purchase this book here

 

David Doubilet

Two Worlds: Above and Below the Seas.

Purchase here

 

Tony Novak-Clifford

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

Purchase here

 

Michael Grecco

Punk, Post Punk, New Wave: Onstage, Backstage, In Your Face, 1978–1991 features stunning, never-before-seen photography from this iconic period in music. Order here

 

Max Hirshfeld

Though Sweet Noise: Love in Wartime (Damiani – October 2019) features events that began seventy-five years ago, the material is eerily timely.  As Eastern Europe grapples with this horrific legacy, and many countries are reassessing their responses to mass immigration, those in a position to bear witness need a supportive environment wherein art and language serve to remind the world what can occur when hatred and the concept of ethnic cleansing are given free rein.

Purchase this book here

 

Jimmy Chin

THERE AND BACK: PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE EDGE

The Academy Award-winning director of Free Solo and National Geographic photographer presents the first collection of his iconic adventure photography, featuring some of the greatest moments of the most accomplished climbers and outdoor athletes in the world, and including more than 200 extraordinary photographs.  Order here

 

Happy Holidays!

 

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

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

 

 

The Daily Edit – 30 Moons Apart: Hashim Badani

30 Moons Apart

Photographer: Hashim Badani

Heidi: How were the first few months of lockdown in India for you?
Hashim: The initial months of lockdown in India skewed all sense of distance and direction. I was living close enough to my parents to spot their home, but further than I have ever been in every other way. I decided not to visit them through this period, which felt particularly surreal during the month of Ramzan.

How did you cope?
I borrowed a telescope and found it bridged the gap a little. I called Ma and asked her to come to the balcony. I was able to spot her–a white speck. This became a routine, even a strange mode of communication. I would make photos of her through the telescope, and she would make some pictures aimed in my general direction.

In between, I found myself collecting pieces of the city that surrounds us. Otherwise receding images gained focus–the fact that we’re a port, or that the sea is never far. This is where my father went to work; these were some of the places where I grew up. All seemingly unreachable but carrying a sense of familiarity. Much like the moon. The moon that dictates the beginning and the end of this month.

Maybe it is the strange solace we seek from traditions when times are tough. In the end they only fit right, together, in the lunar chart made over thirty days.

This grid of images shot through the telescope is a map of many things, but most of all it is a way home.

How did the pandemic force you to find creative solutions for self expression?
I think when the pandemic began and the world went into various states of lockdown, there was a massive urge for me (and I believe many others) to learn or create something during this period but then the numbers started rolling in and the devastation was extreme. People were losing loved ones. India saw a huge urban to rural migration crisis as the government had left its citizens with few alternatives. At some point we started looking inward and reflecting on what mattered to us. The work borne out of that stems from a similar space.

How did this new act of “seeing”, be it through binoculars or a telescope, push you as an artist?
It made me rethink my relationship with photography. One which had so far followed the more linear approach of having a brief and finding a way to translate it. This was more organic. There was no brief. I was responding to how I was feeling. That in some strange way altered things for me and now I find myself more curious about the idea of photo fiction rather than just documenting.

What made you keep the edges of the images organic?
When I began looking at the images together it was fairly obvious to me what I was going to do with them. The imperfect circles of the images were what got me to that decision.

What are you bringing forward from the last two years, and what are you leaving behind creatively?
A large part of my decade old career has involved traveling. Mostly internationally. The pandemic turned that on its head. I wasn’t certain where my next gig would come from if I wasn’t allowed to travel. It took me a good year to make peace with that and change my approach to make work with what surrounds me. So far it has been rewarding. I am no longer excited by the idea of ‘skimming the surface travel editorial’ type of shoots that I once truly enjoyed. I want to find ways of doing work that is more immersive, closer to home or the idea of home.

Are you still selling prints in order to support those in need?
My print sales are currently not associated with any organisation but please keep an eye on my instagram handle for regular updates.

What projects are you working on now?
I am currently pursuing assignments that I am not certain I would have made the time for in the past. Some perhaps not as much about the images produced but the learnings they allow. I am currently in the process of documenting the palliative care work done in India by the Cipla foundation. At the same time I am quite excited by the idea of photo fiction and the path it allows me to take to narrate certain stories. One of them is called #makingupmanto. The series allows me to relook and document South Central Bombay through the life of a prolific and controversial writer who briefly lived in the city during the country’s partition years. I have also found myself on the other side of the camera hosting and participating in non fiction shows this year and it has been an interesting experience.