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This Week In Photography Books: Christopher Williams

by Jonathan Blaustein

The strangest thing happened to me yesterday. I was chatting with a neighbor while photographing his Apache sweat lodge. (Long story.) We’d met for the first time the day before, so I was making small talk about our little valley.

I asked him if he’d seen the pair of golden eagles that lived around here, and often roosted in the tall cottonwoods near the stream.

He said he had no idea there were a pair of golden eagles around here. His tone was dubious. Then he mentioned that there WERE a couple of red-tailed hawks living in the canyon, but of course that was something else entirely.

It was the third time in as many weeks that someone had told me my eagles were hawks. The first two times, I shrugged it of as misinformation. But yesterday? I realized I might have been the one mistaken.

So I ran home and hit up my trusty friend Google. My heart sank. My favorite birds, the one’s from whom I’d learned so much, were not eaglesā€¦ but hawks.

Should it matter?

The birds are no less beautiful. Or majestic. Their hunting prowess no flimsier, nor their stupefying ability to soar through the air without seeming to move at all.

So what was the problem? In my mind, they were eagles: rarer and more special than common hawks. I identified with them as being the kings of the sky. That they lived in my yard made me feel special. I told many people about my eagles.

But they were never eagles. At least, not outside my own mind. They nested inside my expectations, and laid eggs that gave me courage and confidence.

And now?

Now, I have to get over myself. I’m still freakishly lucky to live in a place where I get to watch red-tailed hawks circle over my yard on a near-daily basis. The fact that I’m even conflicted about this says quite a bit about my ridiculous character.

But expectations are powerful things, even if they don’t have a tangible presence. Take books, for example. We “expect” them to make sense. To tell a story. To inform us of their meaning, at some point, before we cease to flip the pages.

That’s their job. To tell us stuff, either in pictures, words, or both.

But what if you found a book that absolutely refused to bow to convention? That reveled in fucking with your head, while simultaneously depicting a set of images made during an artist’s career?

What would you think about that?

I’m glad you asked. Because I just finished looking at a red monograph of work by the conceptual photography/art star Christopher Williams, and I’m still scratching my head.

I knew it was his book, because photo-eye had affixed a tag that said Christopher Williams, printed in Germany, $120. That’s all I got, even after looking at the whole book. (Though the “Printed in Germany” did appear at the end of the book too, on an insert, which was a tad reassuring. That they knew how to print words at all, that is.)

I would have figured out it was his book, had I not known, because I’ve seen some of his seminal images before. They’re always inscrutable. Pictures of cameras, deconstructed. Cars, tipped like cows in a pasture. Models, obviously on set, with color bars in the frame. Corn in the husk.

I’ve read a bit about him in the past, and know there are strong motivations behind the work. Big ideas. Political, even. But you’re never going to suss that out just by looking at the pictures. I’m a bright guy, and I wouldn’t even know where to start.

But start I did, and the first handful of pages in the book are red. Like, red red. Bright red. Cherry red. Coca Cola red.

There’s no name on the cover. When you finally find a photo, on a white page, it’s a piece of yellow foam wrapped into a sculptural form. The kind you might put upon your child’s bed to make it softer. (My son was praising his yellow-bed-foam just yesterday, coincidentally.)

That picture repeats later. As do others. There are seemingly African workers in front of a Heidelberg printing press. Some images, of apples, run off the page, and reference the printing process. That, I can say with confidence.

There is one picture of boobs, that repeats, because, as we all know, Boobs Sell Booksā„ .

Random repeating images. Lots and lots of red pages. No words. Pictures that are odd, and perhaps discomfiting. Maybe a little hypnotic. But they give you nothing concrete.

It’s like the whole book is the spawn of a mad scientist who had sex with a bespectacled artist. It only makes you angry if you think you’re supposed to get it.

But what if you don’t try to get it? What if there’s nothing to get? The world is a messy place, as I wrote last week. Logic and reason exist, but so do chaos and terror. Money rules the day, and it always has. (Though it might have taken the form of salt, gold, oil or jewels.)

When I was done, I practically chuckled at the chutzpah it takes to make a book with no words. There’s even an insert at the end, the type that typically contains an essay or two. Maybe an artist’s exhibition history?

Nope. It was blank. Only red.

Like the look on your face, perhaps, while you’re reading this. Will you like this book? I don’t know. But I think it’s awesome, because it undercuts almost every sane idea about how to make a photo-book.

And all that red made me realize my red-tailed hawks are perfect, just as they are. What’s in a name, anyway?

Bottom Line: Inscrutable, almost offensively strange, yet perfectly awesome book by a brainy art star

To Purchase “Printed In Germany” Visit Photo-Eye

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Russell Lord NOMA Curator of Photographs Interview – Part 2

- - Art

Jonathan Blaustein: We could talk forever, as there are so many things I want to ask. But I want to hit some of the cogent points of your experience, and then work our way to NOMA.

You alluded to the fact that you did four years at Yale, and it was seminal, and you must have been good at your job because they gave you more and more responsibility the longer you were there. So then, I see that you were the Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I will put my nerd credentials on the table and say that museum is my favorite public space on god’s earth. The first time I heard that about you, I got googly eyes, for sure. “Oh My God, he worked at the Met!”

Russell Lord: (laughing.)

JB: What does it mean to be a fellow? Does that mean your job had a limited scope, or time horizon? What was that phase like for you, in addition to those specific logistical questions?

RL: The fellows program at the Met has two categories: pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellows. You apply when you are working on a dissertation, and ostensibly the Met pays you a lump sum of money to continue doing research, using their resources to do that research.

In order to be awarded a fellowship, it behooves you to be working on a topic that their collections are rich in, or have some effect on.

JB: Right.

RL: They have a lot of really early photography material that I was interested in looking at. But perhaps even more importantly, they have this incredible History of Photography library. They have a copy of Daguerre’s manual, for example. I think they might even have an early copy of Talbot’s treatise, the one that I just described.

That’s why I was awarded the fellowship. It is a fixed duration position, for one year, and I got renewed for a second. Partly because I found, when I got there, that there was even more to learn from than I had ever anticipated. So I applied for the renewal, and received an extension.

JB: They brought you there as a scholar, basically?

RL: Yes. You were assigned to a home department, but I think if you say, “I want to work with the photography department,” they will bring someone from the photography department to evaluate your application. I had done research at the Met on other occasions, and I knew there was a lot there, so I made sure I listed specific things that I was interested in looking at.

Ultimately, when you get there, you might help out in the department from time to time, but you are there to work on your project. True to the rest of my career, I took on a lot more than that. I did get some amazing research done on my dissertation, and some writing too. I presented two chapters from my dissertation, one each year, in their fellow’s colloquium, that they put together.

There are about 50 fellows, spread throughout the Museum, on average, during any given year.

JB: OK.

RL: But then, I also had the chance to work as the assistant curator on the “Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand” exhibition with Malcolm Daniel, who was the head of the department at the time.

JB: And he’s now at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

RL: Right. He was a wonderful mentor. He had this project on the books when I arrived, but I came fresh from working with Hans Kraus, where I had helped present a re-creation of Alfred Stieglitz’s “Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession,” from 1905 and ’06, at the Winter Antiques Fair.

With Hans, for the gallery, we had the chance to produce as accurate a reproduction of the space as we could come up with. Down to having light fixtures fabricated, to replicate the ones that Edward Steichen had ordered, back in the day, for the gallery. So I was very familiar with that period of time, I had always been interested in Stieglitz and Steichen’s work, and when I arrived and Malcolm had this show, he thought I’d be the perfect person able to help out on the project.

So I did, and we had a great time working with a selection of some of the greatest masterpieces, from the Early 20th Century, that exist anywhere. In some cases, with Steichen’s and Strand’s work, they are one of two or three known prints of those images.

They’re incredibly rare things, so to have the opportunity to work with those is excellent.

JB: You were there, you were already getting paid, by a different department, and you made yourself available. Is that a part of how you’ve made the career that you have, by looking for additional opportunities? And maybe taking on more than your average bear, to build up your strengths, and see what you can create for yourself?

Or am I reaching here?

RL: No, I think that’s certainly true. I have to credit the people I’ve worked with for being incredibly generous with great things, and placing a lot of faith in my abilities to not screw them up, and to keep them great.

But I definitely have always jumped at chances to work with either great artists, or great mentors, or great individuals. I feel like I’ve been given a very high number of those opportunities, and have eagerly accepted them when possible.

JB: Well, it helps explain the glorious resume. But before we jump away, I just had one more quick question on this topic, as far as the fellowship goes, with respect to research and scholarship.

Do you think I may be able to sell anybody there on a fellowship about the impacts of marijuana on human consciousness, while hanging out in the Temple of Dendur?

RL: (laughing.) I think that it would be probably one of the most exciting proposals that they’ve read in a long time. Even if you achieve nothing more than to entertain the selection committee, it might be worth the proposal.

JB: Well, I’ll have to hit you up later for the specific PO Box.

RL: I’ll send you a link.

JB: It’s a city block, that building, so I’ll need to get it to the right office. Just to be clear, I’m not claiming to have ever done that, but I love the Temple of Dendur. And. obviously, you can only study it thereā€¦

RL: We can only imagine the wonderful advances that would come out of such an experiment.

JB: So much of what you’re trying to do in your scholarship is imagine the state of mind of somebody who lived almost 200 years ago.

It’s like you’re having conversations with the past. In my own mind, I imagine that you’ve created little personalities for these people, and have your own sense of who they were.

RL: Absolutely. One of the stories I like to tell is about Larry Schaaff, who is the great Talbot historian and scholar. He’s written many books and articles of infinite number, about Talbot and his work.

After years of devoting his life to Talbot, he has said, on more than one occasion something like, “I so respect what Talbot did, but I don’t think I would have liked him very much as a person.” Sir John Herschel, he thinks, would have been one of the most amazing people to sit down with.

And it’s true. Once you do get to know these figures and their work, and you read their writing, you learn things as personal as who they sued. Who tried to infringe upon their patent? How they responded publicly?

You do get a sense of whether they were mean, litigious, gracious, generous. And those things do start to form real people. And I think when you can get to that level, that’s really exciting.

I will hasten to add that it is all still a matter of conjecture, and opinion, in many ways. And we try to make that as informed as it can be. That’s the challenge. How close to that can you get?

JB: We’re building towards how you get tapped to lead a program into the 21st Century, at a major art museum in a major American city, at the age of, I’m guessing, 35? I know it was close to that.

RL: I think I was actually 34 when I started here.

JB: 34. There we go. I’m a journalist in this guise, so we’ll say, for the record, it was 34.

You worked at some world-class institutions, you studied at a super-high level, you got to understand the consciousness of the historical figures who built the medium in the 19th Century, and then at Yale, you got to work personally with Lions of the 20th Century: Emmet Gowin, Lewis Baltz, and Robert Adams.

Yet you seem grounded. You didn’t have a massive ego in your job interview down there in New Orleans? You managed to keep it in check?

RL: You know, there’s something interesting to being in an interview process when it is a matter of necessity, that you get a job. That was the case for me.

I had spent my time at the Met, and it was a fixed duration position, as we’d discussed. It was time for me to get something more permanent.

I couldn’t take out more student loans. I didn’t want to. It wasn’t a good idea. I needed to support myself, and my wife and I cast a pretty wide net. Strangely, there were a fair number of curatorial positions available that year, and I was particularly excited about this one because of the depth of the permanent collection, and because of where it was.

This is a very interesting, interesting place, and I was excited about the possibility of being here. I don’t remember much of the interview, because I remember just knowing that I needed to get this job.

I remember describing how one of the things that I really liked about potentially working here was that a lot of the issues that I think are in tight focus in New Orleans, and are locally specific, are globally significant.

Race. Religion. Our relationship with the natural world. All of those things are played out in a very prominent way, on a daily basis, here in New Orleans.

JB: Right.

RL: I was thinking about how the local could be the global.

JB: There aren’t many cities, almost anywhere, of that size,
that punch above their weight, to that degree. Both in cultural prowess, and global recognition, I would say.

RL: I think you’re right. A lot of people around the world know this place, for good and bad reasons. But it’s a place that people pay attention to, and root for, in many ways.

It has an amazing history, which has been driven in large part by culture. It is the city’s export. So many wonderful photographers have come through here in the 19th, 20th, and 21st Centuries, and a lot of those photographers have ended up in our permanent collection.

Every day I’m surprised at what I find. It’s really a world-class collection, and I’m very lucky to be here to work with it.

JB: You mentioned the collection, and of course a big part of your job is caring for it, in addition to enlarging it. I read on NOMA’s website that the collection was started in 1970, which is apparently before many other institutions began collecting photography.

A statement like that reads dry on the screen, but as we both know, it’s always about people and agendas and money. I was curious, who got the idea? Who was the person who said, “As of now, I want to start buying photographic prints and donating them to the museum.” Or was the genesis inside the institution?

RL: It was John Bullard, the former Director, who retired about five years ago. He made the decision, in the early 1970’s, to begin collecting photography in a serious way. He did so because he recognized, very presciently, that it was an area in which they could compete with other museums, at the highest level.

The things were available, and they were largely affordable. He knew a lot of the people to contact to make sure he was looking at the best of what was around. Between 1970 and 1985, the museum acquired, almost entirely by purchase, about 5000 works that became the core of the collection.

JB: That’s quick work. How did he get it done?

RL: They were purchasing these things with a whole host of different kinds of funds, but there were two that have really stood out to me: the National Endowment for the Arts Acquisition Grants, which don’t exist in the same way now, and purchases from funds provided by the Women’s Volunteer Committee here at NOMA.

This was a group of women who supported the institution, gave funds, and I think that’s significant, because in some cases, that might be the gift of $100 here or there. But with $100 at that time, and this is an actual example, you could buy things like a great Andre Kertesz photo postcard-backed print, from the 1920’s in Paris.

John Bullard went out in ’73 and bought 19 of those little Andre Kertesz prints, and it was $1900. That was the total amount of the purchase. Today, they’re all treasures. They’re incredible things. I’ve already shown four or five of them in the 19 shows I’ve done here at the Museum.

It was a very smart decision on his part to do these things, and to think about photography in a very comprehensive way.

JB: It was practical.

RL: Absolutely.

JB: I was curious, because those things don’t start from nowhere. There has to be a reason.

RL: Right.

JB: And now it is 2015, and you’ve had your three years. You’ve proven you’re a hard worker, and you’re writing catalogues until 2 in the morning, and then still finding time for scholarly articles as well. Which you mentioned to me in person, over a Sazerac in New Orleans.

RL: That’s right.

JB: So we talked about part of your job, which is absorbing dense information that is normally reserved for a specific group of academics. The other half of the equation is trying to get more people interested in elements of those concepts that can appeal to the masses. To art consumers, as opposed to academics.

RL: Right.

JB: Now that you’re getting your first chance to look forward, how do you plan on doing that? What’s your strategy?

RL: We’ve established a three-tiered exhibition program for photography here. At the top are these big thematic, or monographic exhibitions, like the Edward Burtynsky show. Or even the Gordon Parks exhibition that we did here. Those are things that are, in large part, works that we don’t have here in the collection; that we’re bringing in as a loan show, or producing here and sending out elsewhere.

That’s an opportunity for us to present to the public things that we can’t show them from the permanent collection. We’re trying to select people or themes that we think are incredibly relevant or important to this community, and bring them in and give people a chance to see that material. And to learn about something that doesn’t exist here.

The second tier are what I’m calling my “Little Histories of Photography,” which take as their starting point one theme, and are based almost exclusively in the permanent collection. We start somewhere in the 1840’s, and we go up into the 21st Century. It’s a run through the History of Photography in about 70 or 80 works.

It usually looks at a very specific aspect of photography, and how it has been pervasive, from its origins to the present. The first show I did was called “What is a Photograph?” that looked at photographic media, and posed the question that you and I discussed at the very beginning.

How do we define photography? How can we wrap our head around this thing that seems so amorphous?

JB: So the show that I saw in December, “Photo Unrealism,” which looks at the Surrealist bent within photography, that would fit within that program?

RL: Yes, that’s the third one I’ve done in the “Little Histories of Photography” group. I want to keep doing that, and exploring our collection, because it gives me an opportunity to look at our collection in a new way. And to consider things that I think are important issues.

“Photo Unrealism,” for example, I’m hoping people will see it as a fun, quirky, kooky exhibition of very weird things. But on a slightly more serious note, I hope that people will also see that it directly confronts an assumption about photography that we all make: that it is a record-making medium. That it is a medium that takes things that are there, and presents them as rote information.

Because that is in many ways how we still see it. Of course, most artists don’t see it that way. But I want to show that throughout history, even from the earliest moments, that photography has always been a distortion, in some way. It’s a discussion that I wanted to have on the walls of the Museum.

The third tier is a series of small, very focused exhibitions, that happen in our smallest gallery space, which was recently created, and then newly endowed, for the presentation of works on paper. It’s the A. Charlotte Mann and Joshua Mann Pailet Gallery. It holds about 10-15 works, and it gives us the chance to do things like show Emmet Gowin’s undergraduate thesis project, “Concerning Alfred Stieglitz, and America, and Myself,” which I think you saw when you were here.

JB: Yes.

RL: In that gallery, we have these rotating exhibitions, mostly from the permanent collection, but not always, that either focus on someone specific, or explore a theme that I think is relevant. It’s also a space that is very easy to change quickly, so it gives us the chance, in the future I hope, to address topical issues in a very interesting way.

JB: As we said, you don’t have the traditional problems that people have elsewhere, as far as drawing people both to your city and to your institution. New Orleans has that inherent advantage.

So you don’t have to focus so much on building the numbers. You’re focusing more on having a very cohesive, specific vision that involves an element of teaching. Teaching the history, on one hand, and then extrapolating into global issues that you want to present to your community, and to the tourists who come through?

You translate for your viewers through the real meat of the job: mounting exhibitions, putting pictures on the wall, and letting people physically stand there, and think for themselves.

RL: Yeah. In my interest in communicating with the public, I always want to question whether we’re doing that in the right way. On a very fundamental level, I think one of the keys to that is just posing questions, and not trying to tell an audience what you think.

I usually try to create exhibitions that ask a question, even with “What is a Photograph?” the question is the title. And then I try explicitly not to answer them, but to give them as many examples as possible of something, so they can draw their own conclusions.

I think giving people the chance to explore themselves is perhaps one of the most meaningful Museum experiences that we can provide. To start thinking about why we should look at pictures, and how we look at pictures. Those are things that we try to inspire here.

It’s true, we don’t have the usual problem of attracting people to the city, however, I should say we are a Museum in City Park, which is a short drive from the French Quarter. It’s far enough that we are not on the classic tourist path, so one of our goals is to make sure we are creating programs that are exciting enough for people to leave the French Quarter, and come up here and spend some time in the park, and come to the Museum and Sculpture Garden. To make it a real destination for people that come visit the city.

JB: You just need to promise them beads, right?

RL: I think you’re right. We do have a big glass bead sculpture in the Sculpture Garden.

JB: I’m practicing for my role as a guest scholar on the NOMA think tank, circa 2019.

RL: Exactly.

JB: I’m laying the groundwork. But let’s go there, with respect to building. You’re a young guy, you’ve taken on a big job, and are doing well at it.

Every institution has a board, and funders. We could talk about how much of your time is spent soliciting money. But I’m more curious on what your goal is for building. You’ve got a collection of a certain amount of photographs. You have an exhibition program.

Where do you see things going beyond where they currently are?

RL: We do have some significant holes in the collection. It is my goal to continue building the collection, and to try to strengthen the weaknesses. I’m largely focusing on the 19th Century, and post-1970.

Photography is much more expensive now, so that happens in a much slower way, but in my time here, we have had a number of really generous patrons who have given us money to buy things, in a big way, or incredible collectors give us fairly large collections of individual artist’s work.

The collection was about 9000 works when I arrived, and we’ve added almost 3000 works since then. An example of one of the big groups that we received was a set of prints by Debbie Fleming Caffery, who’s an important Louisiana-based photographer.

JB: Sure.

RL: She has gallery representation here, and in New York, and is in most major museum collections. We worked with one funder who gave us the money to purchase 100 of her prints, so that we would have the largest collection of her work in the country, which we thought was fitting.

In the end, when I made the selection with Debbie, we went and looked at every single print of every single image, and she helped me select the best prints that she still had. But we couldn’t get our selection down to less than 181, so she ended up essentially gifting the remaining prints, above the purchase price that we had agreed upon so that ended up being the final number.

We’re very happy to be able to have that kind of depth for an artist like Debbie Caffery, who’s been so important to this area, but is known internationally.

JB: You have your mission to inform the public, and you have your caretaker role, and those two intertwine on a daily basis.

RL: Absolutely. You’re dead on. Another thing I said in my job interview here is that another thing I think we need to accomplish, in the History of Photography, can only be accomplished with a three-pronged approach. The first is teaching, and I mean that very broadly, from lecturing in the Museum, to going out to Universities, to bringing classes in.

The second is writing: publishing books about our collection, and about photography. And finally Exhibitions: showing works, and making them available to people. I plan to continue building this department in all three of those directions.

We’d like to continue to publish things, hopefully at an even greater level. And to continue to produce exhibitions that are not only shown here, but allow me to work with colleagues at other institutions to put together exhibitions that can travel.

And then education. I think we have very strong ties, as an institution, to Tulane, Loyola, and UNO. But I’d like those to be even stronger, and perhaps even work on hosting more classes here at the Museum so that students can learn from the works in the collection directly.

JB: There are major institutions that do have schools built in, right?

RL: Yes. The Met has an implicit relationship with NYU, and the Art Institute of Chicago is also an art school. We are in a small enough city where it’s very easy for us to get back and forth between all these places, and I’m very interested in sharing our resources with the other educational institutions in the city.

JB: OK, you mentioned traveling exhibitions, and working with educational institutions. So I am going to put you on the spot here in about 30 seconds. There’s your warning.

Your Gordon Parks exhibition traveled to the University of Virginia, and may or may not still be on the wall. Is that right?

RL: It has come down, and just opened at Grinnell College in Iowa.

JB: You were interviewed by the school newspaper at the University of Virginia, which I found on Google. I couldn’t tell if it was a written Q&A, or an actual conversation like this, but the last line of the piece was the kind of thing that a student journalist would allow you to say at the end, and then follow with, “OK. Thanks so much for your time, Mr. Lord, I really appreciate it.”

But I’m not that guy, and that wasn’t my interview. And the last thing you said was, (and here’s where you’re going to get a little nervous,) as grandiose and philosophical a statement about photography as I’ve read in quite some time.

RL: (laughing.)

JB: So for the record, the question here is, please discuss. Here’s the quote: “Examining photography can tell us a lot about the motives, aspirations, and dreams of humanity.”

RL: (pause.) Is that the end of it.

JB: Yeah. That’s it.

RL: (laughing.) That is pretty bold.

JB: Right.

RL: I think that may have been pulled from part of my essay in the Gordon Parks catalogue, in which I say we need to always critically examine projects, be they books, exhibitions, articles, or magazine portfolios. Because everything that we see is somebody’s selection, so we should always consider who’s doing the selecting for those things.

By that, I’m being self-critical. When I put up an exhibition, I really invite people to tell me what they think about it. Have I missed anything? What did I leave out? Those are important questions to me, because I’m sure that a lot of my opinions creep in. It’s not my job to show you what I think is great only, it’s my job to show you things that I think illustrate a complete history, in many ways.

We always need to consider that somebody is doing the selecting. These things are not just thrown up on the wall, in any kind of objective way. And I think we can learn a lot about ourselves, and about each other, if we critically examine the choices and selections of pictures and photographs.

That kind of a statement is driven very strongly by the Gordon Parks project, in which “Life” editors chose work from Gordon Parks’ selection in a controversial way. He made 1000 negatives, they chose 21. They distorted them, and embellished them, and darkened them in many cases. The story they told was very different from a story that could have been told.

In the exhibition, I tried to tell that other story. But I think this is a unique problem with photography, because it is perhaps the only medium in which a photograph can come into being long after it has come into being.

What I mean by that is, there is the moment of the creation of the negative, and then the print might not happen for another 20 or 30 years. So what does the distance between those two things mean, and how does it distort things, historically, to have that kind of disconnect?

Could you say that quote again one more time? Because I don’t know if I directly addressed it.

JB: Of course. It’s bold, and it’s thoughtful, which is why I’m only tongue-in-cheek making fun of you.

RL: Right. Right.

JB: I think it’s pretty idealistic, and that’s why I wanted to hear your thoughts further, while we’re nearing the end of the interview. Here you go: “Examining photography can tell us a lot about the motives, aspirations, and dreams of humanity.”

RL: Hmm. Hmm. Yeah. I think the other implied statement there is that I’ve become very interested in the ways in which photographs are increasingly replacing text as the predominant mode of communication and language. It’s certainly happening with people our age, and people younger than us.

I know in your blog posts, you include images and write about them, but not everyone does anymore. Sometimes you see these floating photo-streams, in which the images are the language. They are the text.

We need to think about that very seriously, because yes, people on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, they are communicating. They are expressing their own ambitions, their own desires, in photographic form. We need to be very careful about how we do that, and it needs to become a very important component of general education, as we go forward.

Because there are limitations to what a photograph can communicate. In fact, it’s much more likely to communicate a lot more than we ever intended. And in a much more ambiguous way. I think that critically examining photographs is going to become an incredibly important component of education. Or it should. But it’s not, right now.

I’ll go back to a statement that one of my mentor’s made, which I’ve always held with me. He said, and I think it’s true, that the moment we are taught how to read, how to recognize letters and put them into words, that’s really the last moment in the US formal education system that we are taught how to look at something.

There is no component that says, “OK. You can read text. Now let’s learn how to read pictures.” Unless you take an Art History program, and I think that’s going to become crucial. We are falling behind in this idea of visual literacy, and I think it’s something that we should think about very strongly.

JB: I couldn’t agree more. It got me thinking, we all talk about photography, constantly. And it encompasses so much, but I sometimes feel that where the love, the passion, and the magic comes from, gets the short shrift. I think that’s implicit, that there’s a reason why people care so much about it.

But we often don’t dig into that question. That’s why I brought back that statement that you said.

RL: Ah. Interesting.

JB: It made me think a little bit. It’s almost like photography, the word, is a stand-in for reality. For life. Our obsession with this medium is almost like one collective metaphorical selfie.

The camera reproduces back for us what we’re experiencing, on this spinning ball out in Space-Time. And we can’t make sense of it, because nobody can make sense of it. It’s too big. It’s too grand, as a mammal with a limited lifespan, to understand everything.

So an easier way is to reflect it back, through the lens, and hold on to it. Photographs are talismen of this inexplicable experience we’re all going through, together, as humanity. And maybe we don’t appreciate it enough.

Someone like Emmet Gowin is out there on an island, talking about the magic, and I think that’s something that maybe we could all use a bit more of. In my mind, that’s where your quote took me.
And I wanted to see what it meant to you, upon further reflection.

RL: That’s an interesting way to take it, and something that, as usual, brings me back to the origins of photography. When it was much less clearly defined as a kind of information and record. When it was magic.

The inventors of photography were occasionally accused of dabbling in the dark arts. Or there was a lot of association with alchemy, because they put some chemicals together, and suddenly the world appears on a surface. It’s amazing.

Photographs are so common now that we’ve lost some of our wonder and amazement at their production. It’s also just so easy. We have them in our pockets. Thousands of them, on our phones or devices.

I do think it’s a magical thing. Photographic images can profoundly affect us. They can make us emotional. We have responses to them in ways that we don’t always have to text. And I think it’s important not to lose sight of that.

That’s definitely up there with reasons I became interested in this field. You see things that are profoundly affecting, and you want to understand that.

JB: Boom. There’s our end right there.

RL: I like it.

Angus McBean British, 1904-1990 Self Portrait, 1949 Gelatin silver print 1988 Discretionary Purchase Fund, 88.10

Angus McBean
British, 1904-1990
Self Portrait, 1949
Gelatin silver print
1988 Discretionary Purchase Fund, 88.10

Carlotta M. Corpron American, 1901-1988 Floating, 1945 Gelatin silver print Gift of Clarence John Laughlin, 82.281.25

Carlotta M. Corpron
American, 1901-1988
Floating, 1945
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Clarence John Laughlin, 82.281.25

Jay Dusard American, born 1937 Wall, 1972 Gelatin silver print Museum purchase through the National Endowment for the Arts Matching Grant, 81.22

Jay Dusard
American, born 1937
Wall, 1972
Gelatin silver print
Museum purchase through the National Endowment for the Arts Matching Grant, 81.22

Edmund Kesting German, 1892-1970 Marianne Vogelgesang, circa 1935 Gelatin silver print Museum purchase, 79.133

Edmund Kesting
German, 1892-1970
Marianne Vogelgesang, circa 1935
Gelatin silver print
Museum purchase, 79.133

This Week In Photography Books: Ingvar Kenne

by Jonathan Blaustein

I often reference movies in this column. Have you noticed? You must have. Otherwise, you haven’t been paying attention.

What’s wrong with you? Why would you bother coming here, every Friday, if you weren’t going to pay attention?

What’s that? You do pay attention? I’m making unfair accusations? Jumping to conclusions based upon spurious assumptions?

I’m sorry. Forgive me. After 17 days of being under-the-weather, I’m grumpier than an alcoholic-undercover-Russian-soldier, fighting in Eastern Ukraine, after the daily vodka ration’s run out.

But I often find a good photo book will make me think of a film, and once the idea’s in my head, the fingers dance upon the keyboard like a Spring Break frat boy trying to impress a bevy of pretty ladies. (Sadly, it’s all in the hips, but most meat-heads are not flexible enough to move them.)

The movie I’ve got in mind at present is “Groundhog Day.”

Such. A. Classic.

Harold Ramis, RIP, had all sorts of Buddhist motivations, but nobody laughs in Meditation group, so he clearly needed Bill Murray’s genius to make this one fly. What a scenario. You wake up every day, and it’s the same day all over again.

How long did it take Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, to turn to a life of crime and perpetual suicide? Not that long. Monotony is a killer, even if you CAN fill your day torturing groundhogs, eating pancakes, or chasing after peak-hotness Andie MacDowell.

In the end, we all learn a valuable lesson, through Phil’s evolution towards enlightenment: Life without growth and change is meaningless. Even fun stops being fun, when that’s all you know. (When you’re trapped in a pleasure prison of your own making.)

Where is this coming from? Clearly, I’m not talking about me, because you already know I’ve been sick for two-and-a-half weeks. No, I haven’t had much fun at all.

I’m thinking, rather, of “The Hedgehog and The Foxes,” a new book that turned up in my mailbox recently, all the way from Australia. It was made by photographer Ingvar Kenne, produced by the MAUD design studio, and forced me to ask the questions, above, for reasons I will elucidate for you. Now.

This book is about the legendary porn star Ron Jeremy. He may be the man living the oddest existence on Earth, or at least, the one with the least-expected life.

Have you ever seen Ron Jeremy?

I’d like to think we all have, but then again, not a safe assumption. Though this is the second book I’ve reviewed this year that delves into pornography, I should probably mention I’m no expert on the subject. But I’ve certainly seen Ron Jeremy’s ugly mug in the past, and I might have even seen his private parts.

The story is that his johnson is so prodigious that he’s had a long-standing career sticking it into various orifices, for money. It was never about his looks, or his sad sack physique. Always, it was about his penis.

Mr. Kenne got to spend some quality time in the presence of “The Hedgehog” as he bounced from one vapid party to the next. He seems to have always been in the company of ladies, some of whom are very attractive. He signs boobs with sharpies, and shoves his hands up women’s pants, presumably at their request.

Through it all, Ron Jeremy exudes an Angst that would chill Vladimir Putin’s soul, if it weren’t already in cryogenic territory. Wow, do I feel bad for this guy. He seems so depressed, amongst the depravity, that I doubt he’s even capable of crying anymore.

Trapped in a world of his own making. A scenario many men would kill for, so I’m told. Getting paid to have sex with pretty women. But I wouldn’t trade places with “The Hedgehog” for all the money in the world.

Kudos to the artist for really showing no boobs or butts or cocks at all. The book is essentially clean, focusing on the emotional tenor of the tale, rather than the dirty goodies. We see the story unfold with lots of black-page-breaks, enhancing the noir quality.

In the middle, Mr. Kenne manages to zoom in and zoom out at the same time, as the contact-sheet-style gives us smaller images, but many more of them. It makes it feel like we’re there for every moment, rather than just the best shots.

There’s a sad poem at the end, which gives words to those emotions. Apparently, all Ron Jeremy ever wanted was to be a serious actor. To be known for his talent, rather than his member. A letter, which the artist included in his packet, states that despite being in each other’s company for close to 24 hours, “no show of human interest and interaction took place between” Ron Jeremy and the artist. (Again, the pictures gave that one away too.)

Apparently, there’s a short documentary video that accompanies the book, and a Limited Edition too, but I’m not sure what they’re about. I don’t want to know, really. Because I need to put on a stupid movie, right now, to wash the bad taste out of my mouth.

Bottom Line: Very well made book that shows us the road to Hell is paved with good intentions

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The Art of the Personal Project: Jeremiah Stanley

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Jeremiah Stanley

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Full disclosure, Jeremiah is a current client of mine.

How long have you been shooting?
I guess I’m kind of a late bloomer as they say. I didn’t buy my first digital camera until I was 28 (I’m 34 now) and recently accepted into the photojournalism program at the University of Florida.

It wasn’t until I got into Eddie Adams Workshop XXV in 2012 (team Lilac forever!) that I decided to give photography all I’ve got. There I had the opportunity to shake hands with and get portfolio reviews from amazing portrait photographers like Gregory Heisler (I think I actually ruined his breakfast) and Dan Winters. After meeting them and hearing them speak, I was changed forever as a person and photographer.

So, to answer your question, I’ve been shooting commercially for about 3 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I graduated from the photojournalism program at the University of Florida and I absolutely loved my time there. It wasn’t so much the technical skills and training that I benefited from the most, but it was the people I had the chance to meet while in school.

For instance, Sports Illustrated photographer Bill Frakes was my Advanced-2 photography professor. I mean how crazy is that right?! Also, I met the great portrait photographer Andrew Hetherington while he was there on assignment for Fortune magazine, which was a major turning point for me. Both of these men continue to be great mentors to me to this day.

Having a photojournalism background has also been a huge advantage in my portrait work. Photojournalsim is all about catching that moment and telling a story and portraiture is a lot of the same. You’re looking for that special something, that one moment that will tell the story of that person or tell a story through that person. I think going through photojournalism school has been a huge advantage for what I do now, even though it wouldn’t be considered true photojournalism.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
People. It’s always about people. I love people.

Everyone is so unique and everyone has a story to tell and most people, when given the chance, really want to tell their story. It’s something that just fascinates me. And as a portrait photographer, I get to explore different worlds and dive into people’s lives on a daily basis and I absolutely love that.

I’ve always had the ability to approach people from all different types of economic and social backgrounds and having that ability really helped out with this project. Being approachable and respectful really goes a long way. All of the bikers we photographed were very nice and courteous, but if you can’t relate, on some level at least, to the person you’re photographing, then your portraits will be nothing – they’ll be flat and lack substance.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I actually photographed this project in one day and I presented it on the web shortly after.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Usually after the first few shoots and when I get them on a screen I can tell if there’s enough beef there to actually have something worth looking at. My wife, Meredith, is a really great editor and she provides me with a generous amount of honest insight into how the project is taking shape from an outside perspective. For this project, I knew after the first woman I photographed that this was going to be something good. I never know how good, but I had a feeling people would be interested in looking at these portraits.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
This one is always an interesting question to me or maybe it’s just because I’m still early in my career.

For me, it’s all personal and it may be cliche to say, but for me there’s literally no distinction from shooting for my portfolio and shooting personal work. My approach is one and the same. Every time I’m working toward making an image, whether in pre-production, while shooting, or post-production, I’m using all of myself, both physically and mentally. I’m using all my past experiences, good and bad, to interpret the world around me which will affect the images I make. And for me that’s the goal. I want my personal experiences to affect the images and when they do, that’s when I know what I’m making is real and honest and truthful.

It’s when photography turns into an outlet and an extension of myself that I begin making real images, and I think that’s why editors and directors hire me or at least that’s why I hope they do and hope they do in the future. It’s the photographer’s own, personal voice that speaks the loudest and when I’m allowed to explore the world from my vantage point, really great things can happen. The only difference here is that sometimes a company or firm fronts the bill and sometimes I do. But whenever I’m shooting or working toward a shoot, it’s all personal.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Yes, certainly. Getting your work out there for people to see is half the battle.

Here’s my shameless plug:

www.Facebook.com/JeremiahStanleyPhoto
www.Twitter.com/JeremiahStanley
www.Instagram.com/miahstanphoto

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Not yet. Still waiting for my 15 minutes of fame.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I sure have and will be doing the same with this one. I actually love walking into meetings with this project in my book and I enjoy trying to guess before each meeting what type of reaction they’re going to have. Even if an editor or art director are quick flippers, they’ll almost always stop when they get to the ‘Bikers’ project.

Once I was in a meeting with about 8 creative directors and after a few minutes they were all huddled together, standing over the portfolio, pointing, laughing and asking questions. And that’s exactly what you want to happen during a meeting.

ARTIST STATEMENT ABOUT THE PROJECT:

This project was photographed at a biker event in a small Florida town called Leesburg. Every year, about 300,000 people come together here to talk about and look at bikes. I, of course, came to look at the people.

It’s always hard to guess what type of people will come to any particular event as often times the images in my head of the people I think will attend don’t always match the people that actually show up to that event. In this case though, they absolutely exceeded what I had hoped for.

I hired an assistant to hold one light near the rear on a monopod and I held another light off to the front side, also on a monopod, and shot with the other hand (you can actually see the exact set-up in some of the reflections in their sunglasses). We were basically a walking, mobile studio literally carrying all of the gear on our backs and shooting simultaneously on-the-fly.

I decided to leave the background messy, and not worry too much about composition, because I’ve seen tons of similar projects where the photographer pulls them onto some type of seamless backdrop and I wanted this one to be different. I really wanted to bring the viewer into the event, as if they were actually standing right there themselves looking at that particular person, using the environment of the event itself to help.

To make the portrait series have a cohesive look and feel, I used the same focal-length lens (with an ND filter to bring down the background exposure), lighting, and angle, while only changing the physical locations. We were there shooting for about 10 hours and met some incredible people.

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Jeremiah Stanley is a commercial and editorial portrait photographer based in Florida and Dallas (It’s currently 81 degrees outside). He enjoys hiking with his 9-year-old daughter and the Texas Two-Step. His portraiture recently won an American Photography 30 award and a PDN World in Focus award. He was also selected to be a part of Eddie Adams Workshop XXV. If he wasn’t a photographer, he would be a competitive barbeque smoker. Please contact him directly to see what his photography can do for you.

APE contributorĀ Suzanne SeaseĀ 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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.Ā She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.Ā  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

The Art of the Personal Project: Tosca Radigonda

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Todayā€™s featured photographer is: Tosca Radigonda

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How long have you been shooting?
I took a photography class when I was 14 and never stopped. I started shooting editorial in Milan in the late 80ā€™s and then commercially in The States in 1994.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I have a BFA from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I feel like my style evolved directly from my experiences in Italy. When I started out testing in Milan I did not have a budget to purchase or rent equipment, so I learned how to shoot everything using natural light.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I went to Milan when I was 22 with dreams of becoming a fashion photographer. It was a time before cell phones, or sharing images on social media and the world was a lot bigger back then. My ideas of Italy were from traditional postcard images or from my own Italian American upbringing. Once I got to Milan it was an entire other world! After navigating my way through the culture shock, and finally surrendering to Italian lifestyle I fell deeply in love with Italy. I thought I would stay for 6 months but ended up staying for 6 years. During my time living in Milan, and after when I would go back I found myself completely submerged in the feeling and charm of Italian lifestyle.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
Seven years ago a close friend from Milan asked me to shoot a very personal cookbook she wrote about her family and thatā€™s when I started to put together this project. I always loved the images but was unsure about how they would be received since my work is childrenā€™s lifestyle. I started out by including a few Italy images in my portfolio, and that was followed by people asking to see more.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
Most of the time it is immediate, but I also love how shooting personal projects sometimes gives us the luxury we need to step back, revisit and really have a look.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
The subjects are different but the approach is the same. Either way, I like to be an engaged fly on the wall and photograph simple beauty. I started out shooting fashion the same way, which evolved into photographing babies and children, so I guess you never really know where a project might take you creatively.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I am a newcomer to social media, but I really enjoy Instagram and the loose feel of posting daily images.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
No my social media experience is still new but I can imagine that would be exciting.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I recently put together a handsewn book of the Italy images, and I love to share this book with art buyers and creatives after I show my portfolio. I usually ask if they have time and would like to see a personal project. I post the stories on my website, and send out emails when there is a new project.

Artist Statement-

The time I spent in Italy on my own as a young photographer, learning my way in challenging circumstances was the most valuable experience I ever could have had. I wanted the images in this project to convey the love, passion, and closeness I feel for this beautiful country.

Bio-

Toscaā€™s rewarding experience began as a young photographer in Milan shooting fashion. Yet in a beautiful swirl of fate, an art director, sensing her ability to capture the magic of children, gave her an assignment that marked a dramatic turn in her career. Tosca is based in Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband and son.

http://toscaradigonda.com
studio@toscaradigonda.com

APE contributorĀ Suzanne SeaseĀ 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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.Ā She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.Ā  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Sarah Silver Interview

- - Photographers

Jonathan Blaustein: Your bio states that you were born in Tokyo, but your parents are American?

Sarah Silver: Yes, my parents are American. My father was teaching there at the time, but he’s been working internationally for years, and is currently based in Sydney.

I basically spent my entire life visiting him, though I grew up in Chicago. I traveled extensively as a kid.

When I was finally able to make an adult choice as what to do, I spent a year living in the Middle East, while I was studying at Vassar for my undergrad.

JB: Vassar? My wife went there.

SS: To Vassar?

JB: Yeah. But I won’t date you. If I ask you what year you graduated, I’m automatically dating you. So I’m not going to do that.

SS: OK.

JB: What was your college experience like?

SS: I was a very serious student. I spent a lot of time in the library doing homework. I think I was one of those students that took every assignment and said, “Yes, I completed it 100%.”

But every minute I wasn’t studying, I spent in the darkroom at school. At the time, Vassar didn’t offer a photography department, so I pretty much created classes and taught them to students. While spending every waking free moment printing.

And inhaling chemicals.

JB: Which may or may not have anything to do with yourā€¦

SS: ā€¦current state of mind? My grandfather was a baby photographer in Michigan from the 50’s through the 80’s. He had a darkroom in his basement, and my earliest childhood memories are of printing with him.

He would show me how to vignette baby photos. My coloring books, all through growing up, were black and white pictures, and I would take the oil pencils to draw onto them. He showed me how to change the color of things. I always though it was fun to make the colors unrealistic.

When I told my grandmother I was going to become a photographer, the first thing she thought was, “Oh God, not those stinky chemicals.”

JB: (laughing) Little did she know, the digital revolution was just around the corner.

SS: When I was coming up through grad school, I had the choice of going straight digital, or keeping with film. It was still that time when you could have a choice. Now, it’s not even a conversation.

I was a big nerd anyway, so the digital darkroom was something I was always a fan of. Luckily, no chemicals for me.

I went to grad school at SVA, and spent all the rest of my waking hours printing color. Which is really fun, except you’re completely in the dark.

JB: I feel you. I did a stint in a chromogenic darkroom as well. And what about after school? How did you get into fashion in particular?

SS: I started working as a photo journalist in the Middle East. That year abroad, at Vassar, I worked for a not-for-profit organization in Israel that would send me all over the country, and abroad. I spent some time in Ukraine, shooting all of these projects they funded.

For instance, I went to Ukraine to shoot a federation of Jews from the US who came to see where some of their ancestors had been saved by righteous gentiles during World War II. We visited the now-defunct Jewish community where they came from. It was pretty awesome.

I loved working as a photojournalist, and was honored that I didn’t even have a portfolio, but the company that I worked for just cared that I was coming from a place of interest. It was basically how I built my portfolio.

I had no experience in photography. I have a degree in Middle East studies from Vassar.

JB: Right.

SS: Which is awesome. But it’s not a photo major. So after I graduated, I went right to SVA, which was the best decision I ever made. Because not only was I learning all the technical stuff that I had missed, but I also got a full Masters of Fine Art, which has all the trappings of art, film and history. All the things I think me a better visual thinker now.

JB: Absolutely.

SS: I would never trade the MFA for anything. I’m a proponent of education. First of all, you should never stop learning. You don’t need a degree to be a photographer, but I loved it.

JB: Hearing your background, it sounds like you took the long and winding road. But now, you’re in an exclusive niche in the industry, working with fashion, that most people don’t know that much aboutā€¦

SS: As much as I loved Middle East studies, my other passion was Dance. Although I am a severely challenged and failed dancer. I took ballet for a long time. In fact, tomorrow we’re shooting this company that I’ve been shooting since grad school. I still shoot the same company I did my thesis on, every year.

I love movement, and I think that fashion and movement are best friends. Clothing becomes alive, and the model becomes energized.

When I was finishing grad school, my focus was on the history of dance photography, so it was a really easy transition. It has trickled down into everything I do.

I do “movement hair” in hair shoots, and “movement beauty,” in beauty shoots, and “movement fashion” in fashion shoots.

It brings energy to a picture. If you can hear the “Boom! Bang!” sound of the energy coming through, that’s always moved me.

JB: I had a sneaking suspicion, and it even made it onto my question list, as to whether you had a background in dance. So I’m glad you answered that for me.

Before we move on, though, I have a technical question, even if it makes me look stupid. There always seems to be a distinction between beauty and fashion, but I don’t get it. Is it just that beauty represents close-up portraiture, and fashion represents stepping back and showing clothing? Is it as simple as that?

SS: It can be.

JB: So what’s it about then?

SS: I shoot a lot of fashion, a lot of beauty, and a lot of hair, which is technically its own genre, if you want to get specific.

JB: Sure. Let’s get specific.

SS: If you’re a fine artist, I think you can blur the lines. But ultimately, if someone’s commissioning you to take a picture, the genre is defined by what the focus is.

So fashion photography is about fashion. It’s about the clothing. Beauty photography is often about the product being photographed. AKA, mascara.

JB: Makeup. There it is. That’s what I didn’t get.

SS: So if we’re doing a big hair shoot, then your focus is on the hair. Yes, it’s also about the model, and her energy, because it’s all about the talent. But it’s also all about the hair.

Shiny, beautiful, bouncy. Or straight. Blonde or brunette. Ultimately, you need a coherent, beautiful visual, but you always have a nod to the subject.

I love the distinctions, and I’ve turned into a sort-of product-crazy junkie. I love shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, and mascara. I love playing with the products that I shoot, which I think is one of the coolest things about being a woman in this industry.

I am the target audience, 99% of the time. I’m not ashamed to admit it but I have stayed home, nights, and played with every mascara in my drawer.

Do you even know the difference between a volumizing and a lengthening mascara?

JB: I definitely don’t. I most certainly don’t.

SS: Exactly.

JB: (laughing.)

SS: Wow. I am the target audience. And I love it.

JB: So then you must get more free shit than you can possibly imagine?

SS: You never have enough money, or enough free shit from photo shoots. Period. Exclamation point.

JB: (laughing.) Period. Exclamation point. Never enough free shit. On the record.

SS: And nail polish. Listen, before I walked into this industry, way back in the day, I was a student who loved to spend time in the library, and loved to read, and do my homework. But I also loved to bite my nails.

But now, every day, I have a perfect manicure, because I turned into a nail shooter. So in some ways, the industry has changed me, and I feel like hopefully I’ve had an influence on the visuals as well.

JB: Well, speaking of visuals, and movement, I noticed on your website that you’ve got a couple of short films posted, so I watched them.

With the music kicking, and the dancing, it made me wonder if you weren’t interested in directing music videos some day, especially as the technology has converged?

SS: I love directing, and technology is moving so fast. I remember being on set, for the photographer I was interning with, when the first digital backs came along, and I was the only one who knew how to use the computers.

Then, video became more prevalent on still shoots, and now I just get hired for video, straight up.

But my theory in life is, if you never say no, then the opportunities are endless. So, would I direct a music video? Absolutely.

If the opportunity presents itself, the answer is, of course.Ā And when you think about directing, the genre of the early music video has influenced all filmmakers, right?

JB: Even people who are coming out with their first feature film, you look at their bios, and they shot music videos, or they worked in commercials.

SS: I’m the early MTV generation. We won’t age me in this interview, but I remember early MTV, and it was art. When you look at the early music videos, there’s some genius stuff going on. They were paving the way for new forms of visual art in the mainstream.

MTV. My God, right? And then VH1. When you’re talking about the medium of film, it’s impossible not to talk about the music video.

JB: So I guess that means that I zeroed in on an inspiration appropriately?

SS: Sure.

JB: Hell yeah.

SS: I’m so inspired. I grew up in Chicago, and music was a really big deal. I’m an ex-Goth, as much as my mother hated it.

JB: We really are learning a lot about you.

SS: Now I have to wear black clothing, because that’s all we wear on set, right?

JB: You were a Goth, and a nerd, and a journalist in the Middle East, and now you’re addicted to beauty products?

SS: Hang on. Wait a second. If you were a good Goth, you had lots of eye-liner on. I just got better at applying it.

JB: There it is.

SS: Being a Goth-punk in Chicago, with all the music, and the cool stuff that happened, I wasn’t nearly as cool as the kids with the half-shaved head and the dyed black hair. I was kind-of the suburban version, that I could get away with, walking out of my house.

Did you ever spend any time in Chicago?

JB: Next to none.

SS: I’m allowed to ask how old you are, because you’re a boy. How old are you?

JB: I’m 40.

SS: Seriously, it was so, so cool back then. And all the clubs we went to, there was always a film playing, by Ministry, or someone like that. It was really ahead of its time.

I was obsessed with music. So we would go downtown and buy CD’s, because they were just becoming popular.

JB: If you would have said cassette tapes, you really would have dated yourself. We’re dancing around the issue.

SS: Yes, I remember cassette tapes. The minute CD’s came, because they were bigger, I became obsessed with the artwork. There are some seminal visuals that I can tell you, 100%, made me want to become a photographer. The Cocteau Twins. The Pixies. This Mortal Coil had a beautiful cover and inset, an album called “Blood.”

People were using photography, but it wasn’t in a gallery, and it wasn’t untouchable. You would look at the booklets, and you would look at the art.

Do you remember Lenny Kravitz’s “Mama Said?”

JB: Sure.

SS: All that amazing black and white photography? I wanted to do that. It was fashion, and it was cool. It was celebrity. Wow. It blew my mind.

JB: Well, in a very short time, I think we’ve gotten a pretty good sense of how you became you. That’s pretty badass.

SS: Yeah. I will tell you, this is the first ever interview that really talked about that music influence in my life. I don’t think I ever made that connection until you led me there.

Thank you.

JB: You’re welcome.

SS: I really do like that. It’s funny. I was a Goth-punk, and now I love eyeliner. But I just got better at it. (laughing.) I got more sophisticated.

JB: I read that one of the things you do for inspiration in New York, beyond looking at art, is taking super-long walks around the city. People watching. So few of us have time to do that, and it’s such a joy.

What do you think about all the changes over the years?

SS: I’ve been in this city for a long time now. And I never didn’t think I was going to end up here. From the first time I ever came to New York, which must have been when I was 9.

I used to dream about New York. There was never a question that I was coming here. Vassar was really close to the city, and I was inspired by all the kids I went to school with who grew up here.

But the city has changed. I loved the seediness of it, and I love the off-the-beaten path places too.

JB: That’s why I’m asking.

SS: I don’t know the first thing about Chicago, and I lived there for 17 years. But I can tell you literally every little detail of every little corner I’ve traveled in New York City. Every once in a while, I’ll take myself to a neighborhood I don’t know well, and I’ll try to get lost.

I’ll never forget the first time I visited every neighborhood in New York, and I’ll never be able to have that experience again. I get delighted by finding things I don’t know.

I like to celebrate the city, because it took me in.

JB: What’s your favorite little down-low micro-hood?

SS: What I’m obsessed with these days is Japan-town. All the little restaurants. Everyone who comes on set with me, I make them write down their top three Japanese restaurants, and invariably, they’re in the same four block radius.

JB: Where is Japan-town?

SS: 9th Street, between 2nd and 3rd. There’s also a Japanese grocery store on the second floor of 3rd Avenue and 9th St. Restaurants come and go, but it still feels right, for me. It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods.

I love biking around the city too. I’ve lived in so many spots over. . . I’m not saying how many years.

JB: Right. You’re in the fashion industry, so we’re both working really hard to allude to time periods without giving anybody anything specific.

SS: I know.

JB: We’re going to stick to it. Don’t you worry. I’m a classy guy.

SS: (laughing) I can tell. The other thing I do that is so throwback is I will put on a playlist, and walk for hours. I just kind of look at things. My hunger for visuals has never abated in my time here. I stare out the window, and I love to take buses, because you’re above ground, and you get to see everything.

JB: I noticed that across your career, you managed to work with both “America’s Next Top Model,” and “Project Runway.” Is that true?

SS: Yes.

JB: OK. I’ve got a crazy question. Tyra Banks. Heidi Klum. They’re tall. They’re fit. They’re moguls as well as models. In a throw-down, who wins in a fight? Tyra or Heidi?

SS: (pause.) You know, I really think I can’t speak to that, because Heidi and I were never on set together.

JB: OK.

SS: It’s funny, but I will always be the diplomatic one. I’ve actually had a lot of experience with Tyra. I’ve shot her personally, as well as for her show. It would be so much fun to make some sort of comparison, but I feel like I’m not really qualified to do so.

I will say that Tyra Banks is one of the most remarkable people I have ever met. Every single time I see her, on her show too, she comes up to me, she knows where my family lives. She remembers what my mother likes. She asks me if I changed my hair. She remembers every little detail.

She blows my mind. Every single time.

JB: It’s a great little tip, as far as how super-successful people behave. You answered that question diplomatically, which kind of took my legs out. Because it was a ridiculous question. Come on, now. Give me a little credit. They’re not really going to fightā€¦it was meant to be funny, but you took it so seriously that I feel embarrassed.

You didn’t give me anything.

SS: No, no. If you were to here in person with me, you would know that it’s as far away from my personality as you could possibly get. I’m a light-hearted person, but you won’t usually be able to get a comment like that out of me.

JB: Fair enough.

SS: There won’t be a sound bite.

JB: OK. There won’t be a sound bite about Tyra knocking out Heidi in the octagon. It was a joke, obviously, but we did get a bit of insight into how people roll when they’re that good at their job.

I’ve been teaching college to high school students for a long time now, and I’ve used “America’s Next Top Model” as a reference point for them. When we talk about portraiture, and I’m discussing how to bring emotion into a subject’s eyes, to create that energy.

I used to watch the show, back in the day, so I’ll say to them, you know how Tyra says you’ve got to make the eyes look “fierce?” It works.

SS: She knows what she’s talking about. And not only does she talk a good talk, but she does it herself. When we’re on set, and I’ve shot her, she owns it. She’ll look at me and say, “Sarah, I think I’ve got it.”

She’s the best editor I’ve ever worked with, who’s also the subject of the photos.

JB: Big Shout Out to Tyra.

SS: Shout out.

JB: Well, we’ve talked about New York and Chicago. What I want to know now is, have you ever been to Santa Fe?

SS: No.

JB: Never?

SS: No. It’s really exciting. Santa Fe has always been on the list of places I wanted to go, but I didn’t know how I would get there.

What was going to bring me there? Being invited to Santa Fe was an opportunity to experience a new city, but I love nothing more than working. So this is the best of both worlds.

JB: Let me explain what we’re talking about. This interview, like several I’ve done over the last few years, is being sponsored by the Santa Fe Workshops. They’re my buddies. I’m up here in Taos, they’re just down the road, and everyone knows they do a great job.

You’re coming out to do a workshop for them in March that is titled, “Movement in Fashion, Beauty and Dance.” Is this the first time you’ve taught this workshop? What is this going to be for you, beyond your first opportunity to come to Santa Fe?

SS: Both my parents were teachers, and my father taught at the graduate level. Being raised by teachers, everybody’s always explaining the “whys” of everything, because they think that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Being a teacher was an obvious part of my life as a creator, no matter what. One of the reasons why I went for a Masters degree is then you can teach at the college level, which I always wanted to be able to do.

The minute I graduated from grad school, I told them, “Use me.” SVA certainly has, and all the photo schools in New York have. I also have interns, and I’m really into them. I think teaching the next generation is so important. If you can teach, you must. Must, must, must.

JB: What is this workshop going to be like? What do you have planned for your students?

SS: I basically took my three favorite subjects, beauty, movement and fashion, and took one day each to focus on each. The way we have it structured, you can start to see how there’s crossover on all three.

Everybody loves the opportunity to shoot a dancer, and everybody loves the opportunity to go in close and shoot a beautiful face. And talking about all the ways I have found to really get up in there and make beautiful visuals. But also to understand the ideas behind it.

By teaching my own personal workflow, I think it will make a lot of sense for most of the students to see there’s a lot of methodology in the way I shoot. There’s a lot of thought that goes behind it.

You can’t really take beautiful pictures unless you understand why they’re beautiful. Why you do what you do.

JB: Are you going to be working exclusively in studio?

SS: Yes, exclusively in studio. I wanted the maximum amount of time to teach, and I didn’t want to lose even one minute of travel time. So I decided to teach more and travel less.

JB: Efficient. I can dig it. And what about New Mexico? What are you excited to see yourself? This is kind of a mythical placeā€¦

SS: That’s what everyone keeps saying. The funny thing is, I have a feeling that every picture I’ve ever seen, and all the descriptions, don’t really do it justice. I know it’s an important art town, and that, visually, it’s supposed to be beyond stunning. Everybody always talks about the colors and light being vastly different than anything you’d experience on the Eastern Seaboard.

I’m sure being in uncharted territory will also inspire me, concurrently, while teaching, because you do learn so much while teaching. It’s going to have a big impact on me. I can already tell.

JB: You’re excited.

SS: Super-excited. Listen, this is a huge honor. And I keep getting emails from people saying, “Oh my god, you’re doing a Santa Fe Workshop?” Literally, I got one yesterday.

Awesome. Yes I am.

JB: (laughing.) “Awesome. Yes I am.” And then you pound the table with your fist. Right?

SS: Completely. If one student walks out and says, “Eureka,” I’ve done a good job. If everyone walks out and says “Eurekaā€¦”

JB: Then you ask for a raise.

SS: (pause) It’s not about the money. Right?

JB: (laughing) Of course. So now we know how you broke into fashion. I think most people associate the industry with Fashion Week, and red carpets. Velvet ropes.

In 2015, how would you talk to younger people about legitimately breaking into a world that seems so shut off from everybody else?

SS: This is a question that I get asked all the time.

JB: I’m sure. I’m not saying every question I’m going to ask is original, but people want to know.

SS: They do. New York is a city of opportunity. Every visual person, and you don’t even have to be a student, if you have a strong vision, and a really good work ethic, I think you have a pretty good shot of doing something worthwhile here.

The best piece of advice I would give anybody, and I give it to myself, is that you have to be diligent, and work really, really, really hard. Because lots of people are creative, and lots of people have good ideas, but it’s the ones who keep at it, and keep at it. Every day is a new challenge.

My first lesson to new students is that if you’re complacent, then everyone can smell it. And if you don’t care, then why should I care?

If you wake up every morning with purpose and drive, and you work really, really, really hard, good things come back to you. Even though this is one of the hardest cities to make it in, in any field.

JB: I remember when I first moved there, something really jumped out at me about the famous clichĆ©, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” After I lived there for a little bit, what stuck with me was the “if.” Oh. Right. “If” you can make it here, because if you don’t, the city tries to shit on your head and slit your throat for sport, on a daily basis.

You have to be really on your toes. Three years was enough for me. Drove me back out to my horse pasture in the mountains.

SS: That doesn’t sound so bad.

JB: It’s amazing. I’m not complaining in any way, and I love to come back and visit NYC. I’m just saying, New York is a tough town. But I think you’re giving good advice. People need to be almost cutthroat in their determination to not quit, and not fail.

SS: The word “cutthroat” has such a negative connotation, and the one thing I can say about myself is that I’ve been consistent. And I’ve been consistently me throughout this entire time.

It’s the best I can do. I never try to be anybody else, and I never tried to be something I wasn’t. Because it’s so much easier to be you than to pretend. And then again, you can work really, really, really hard when you believe in yourself, because you’re being exactly who you are.

JB: (laughing) Totally. That might be our end right there.

SS: (laughing) I like that. Listen, I’m super-excited about this workshop, and that the people there were really open to all of my ideas.

In class, I want to talk about making professional photos. Taking yourself from someone who really likes photos, to somebody who can be on set. You have to be consistent, you have to have clear and focused vision, and you have to be a good communicator.

I’m going to have these students act like professional photographers. The minute you walk in the door, you’re no longer a student. You’re a shooter. You’re going to have to do mood boards, and talk about your ideas.

I am the client, and not because I’m trying to be an asshole, but because I want you to tell me what you’re talking about. And I want you to be clear, and professional.

That’s the best thing I took away from Vassar, and my grad school days. If you can talk intelligently about what you’re doing, that’s your ticket.

Can you talk about your visuals, and get everybody else on board? If the answer is yes, work really, really, really hard, and it’s all going to be OK.

JB: Boy, I’m glad we didn’t end it with that first ending, because the advice bombs are dropping fast and furious right now.

SS: I’ve had 1-2 interns every semester, for the last few years, and we talk every day about the stuff we’re talking about now. We talk as people. I try not to be the person in charge.

This shit is scary. This city is scary. Putting yourself out there is scary. I know.

You think your ideas don’t matter, and you’re not going to take a good picture. You don’t know until you try.

I could wax poetic for hours.

JB: I know. Right about now is when we normally end, but you’re just getting started. Unfortunately, we’ve already covered everything I wanted to cover.

SS: I’m kind of inspired. You ask me where I come from, and it all comes full circle. Every year, I shoot for this dance company, the Stephen Petronio Company.

The inspiration I draw from the photo shoots I do with him, movement wise, kind of trickles down and inspires all the beauty, and fashion, and hair that I do for the next year.

There’s no rules, and it’s just collaboration. And I’m still shooting for him, and it’s just such an amazing opportunity. Not only is it a total thrill, because Stephen and his dancers are amazing, but it’s an honor to have a long relationship with somebody like Stephen and

to see the fruits of our labor over several years.

I’m looking at this gorgeous set we’ve built, and looking at the pre-light picturesā€¦ it’s one of those days where I especially love what I do.

JB: And I like that we’re still not mentioning how many years you’ve been working with these guysā€¦

SS: Nope.

JB: Right. We’re not going to go there.

SS: The funny thing is, I was always the youngest person in the room. I used to lie about my age, so that my art directors wouldn’t think I was a kid.

It’s never bad. It just doesn’t need to be in print. Right?

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SFPW_APhotoEditor_Jan2015

The Art of the Personal Project: Tom Hussey

- - Personal Project

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com.

Todayā€™s featured photographer is: Tom Hussey

L-36-S-0469

L-36-S-1364

L-48-S-0242

L-48-S-0298

L-48-S-0811

L-48-S-0893

L-48-S-1039

L-48-S-1500

L-48-S-2194

L-48-S-2196

L-48-S-2466

L-48-S-2590

L-48-S-II-4162

L-48-S-II-4212

L-48-S-II-4580

L-48-S-II-4706

L-48-S-II-4906

L-48-S-II-5010

How long have you been shooting?
Professionally 20 years. Add in the time when my father first handed me a camera and that makes it seem like 100 years ago.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I am photography school taught. I went to SMU for my undergrad and RIT for my Masters. But with the way technology changes, I am self-taught every day.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I have always been a football fan and aside from my time in high school, I never really followed high school football. Then my stepsons started playing. Their school is small so they played 6 man football. Itā€™s really exciting and high scoring. I was given compete access to the practices, games and locker room for a season. It was so much fun.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I was excited about it right away. I put it out there as soon as I could get the files edited.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I think I am like all creative people. I always second-guess myself. I will work on a project and think itā€™s going nowhere. I put it away and step away from it for a while and revisit it after I have done some other work. If I do not pull a whole promo out of the project I usually always find one or two strong images for my portfolio. I also use my blog as sort of a working laboratory for a place to get images out there. Things that may never be in my portfolio but images that have merit. Interesting enough, I have walked into creative meetings at agencies only to find they have pulled numerous images from my blog. I guess what I am trying to say is never give up. Somethingā€™s working if you are shooting everyday.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I am excited by the difference. If you are standing still in this business and not attempting different things, you are dead in the water so to speak.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Since I post new images daily to my blog those same emails are carried over onto Facebook and linked on Twitter. I use Instagram as a kind of personal sketchbook of thoughts (all random) and behind the scenes things happening on set.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
I have had a couple of things go viral. Itā€™s crazy. Great press is always good. I was in London shooting and when I got back to my hotel the concierge called me over to show me a campaign of my images was featured in The Daily Mail. That stuff always surprises me.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes. I chose to share the football project not because it was my most recent personal project but because it has been referenced by creatives and been attributed to a lot of awarded jobs over the past few years.

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In the course of a diverse 20-year career in commercial advertising photography, Tom Hussey has established a successful advertising studio. Respected industry wide for his lifestyle photography and admired for his lighting techniques, Tom has worked on local, national and international campaigns. Based in Dallas, Texas, TOM HUSSEY Photography, LLC is a full production photography and motion studio.

Tomā€™s passion for photography began in the early 70ā€™s when his Dad got a new ā€œexpensiveā€ SLR camera. Tom asked to take a picture and much to his motherā€™s horror was handed the camera. He put the camera down briefly but was never far away from it. Tom has taught photography on the college level and worked in the Conservation Laboratory at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House.

Tom is a graduate of Southern Methodist University where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production with a minor in Photography. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Museum Practices and Conservation with an emphasis in Photography from The Rochester Institute of Technology.

Tom Hussey is represented by Michael Ginsburg, 212.369.3594 and in Texas he is represented by Carol Considine 214.741.4034

APE contributorĀ Suzanne SeaseĀ 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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.Ā She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.Ā  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Art Producers Speak: Chris Sembrot

We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.sease@verizon.net

Anonymous Art Buyer:Ā I nominate Chris Sembrot. I love him not only as an artist, but as a person.Ā He has a unique style and was great to work with.

Personal work and having fun with a new underwater housing.

Personal work and having fun with a new underwater housing.

Part of an ongoing personal project on androgyny.

Part of an ongoing personal project on androgyny.

Personal work from a mid-summer tri in Asbury Park, NJ 2013.

Personal work from a mid-summer tri in Asbury Park, NJ 2013.

Personal work from a mid-summer tri in Asbury Park, NJ 2013.

Personal work from a mid-summer tri in Asbury Park, NJ 2013.

I love shooting friends especially on the first warm day after a long Winter.

I love shooting friends especially on the first warm day after a long Winter.

Cover assignment featuring Annie Clark (St. Vincent) and David Byrne for the Guardian Guide. Was shot on location in David Byrne's studio in NYC.

Cover assignment featuring Annie Clark (St. Vincent) and David Byrne for the Guardian Guide. Was shot on location in David Byrne’s studio in NYC.

Music feature assignment for Billboard Magazine with DJ Martin Garrix, shot in Atlantic City, NJ.

Music feature assignment for Billboard Magazine with DJ Martin Garrix, shot in Atlantic City, NJ.

Ad campaign for Mississippi Gulf Tourism. We shot 14 locations and activities over the course of 4 days.

Ad campaign for Mississippi Gulf Tourism. We shot 14 locations and activities over the course of 4 days.

Ad campaign for Mississippi Gulf Tourism. We shot 14 locations and activities over the course of 4 days.

Ad campaign for Mississippi Gulf Tourism. We shot 14 locations and activities over the course of 4 days.

Cover assignment featuring the band Phoenix. Shot on location at the East Village Standard hotel in NYC.

Cover assignment featuring the band Phoenix. Shot on location at the East Village Standard hotel in NYC.

Cover assignment featuring the band Phoenix. Shot on location at the East Village Standard hotel in NYC.

Cover assignment featuring the band Phoenix. Shot on location at the East Village Standard hotel in NYC.

Part of an ongoing personal project on androgyny.

Part of an ongoing personal project on androgyny.

Cover assignment featuring Annie Clark (St. Vincent) and David Byrne for the Guardian Guide. Was shot on location in David Byrne's studio in NYC

Cover assignment featuring Annie Clark (St. Vincent) and David Byrne for the Guardian Guide. Was shot on location in David Byrne’s studio in NYC

Feature for Running Times highlighting an elite women's high school cross country team in Pennsylvania.

Feature for Running Times highlighting an elite women’s high school cross country team in Pennsylvania.

Feature for Running Times highlighting an elite women's high school cross country team in Pennsylvania.

Feature for Running Times highlighting an elite women’s high school cross country team in Pennsylvania.

Personal work and having fun with a new underwater housing.

Personal work and having fun with a new underwater housing.

Part of my ongoing personal project titled "Urban Surfers." Each portrait was shot around sunrise (the coldest months reserved for only those dedicated to Winter surfing), and within a 2 block radious of the subject's home.

Part of my ongoing personal project titled “Urban Surfers.” Each portrait was shot around sunrise (the coldest months reserved for only those dedicated to Winter surfing), and within a 2 block radious of the subject’s home.

Part of my ongoing personal project titled "Urban Surfers." Each portrait was shot around sunrise (the coldest months reserved for only those dedicated to Winter surfing), and within a 2 block radious of the subject's home.

Part of my ongoing personal project titled “Urban Surfers.” Each portrait was shot around sunrise (the coldest months reserved for only those dedicated to Winter surfing), and within a 2 block radious of the subject’s home.

Part of my ongoing personal project titled "Urban Surfers." Each portrait was shot around sunrise (the coldest months reserved for only those dedicated to Winter surfing), and within a 2 block radious of the subject's home.

Part of my ongoing personal project titled “Urban Surfers.” Each portrait was shot around sunrise (the coldest months reserved for only those dedicated to Winter surfing), and within a 2 block radious of the subject’s home.

How many years have you been in business?
Iā€™ve been on my own professionally for the past four years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
A combination of both. But, the best part of my education came after I left school. Working as an art buyer for five years really allowed me to learn the business of commercial photography from the inside out. Plus it gave me direct access to art/creative directors on a daily basis. It helped forge relationships with people I work with today.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
It had to be my mom. When we were growing up, sheā€™s the one who always had a camera in her hand, capturing whatever moments she could. When referring to my eye, she always says, ā€œYou got that from me.ā€ Hearing her say that always makes me smile!

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I try and shoot personal projects that have a different look and feel than my ā€œnormalā€ work. My biggest goal whenever I concept a project idea is to somehow bring out my personality. I stay in the moment and enjoy the freedom of capturing something that strikes me on that day, hour, minute. I donā€™t shoot nearly as many tests shoots as I do personal projects, because I want my personal work to stand on its own.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I think the honest answer is sometimes, yes. However, recently (more often than not) I have had the good fortune of creative freedom. Working with creative and account teams who trust that my creative vision will ultimately fill the needs of our client makes all the difference in a shoot. Itā€™s not always easy but when you communicate with each other and collaborate as a team, it makes all the difference.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
When Iā€™m not sending out my quarterly mailers, and personal emails, Iā€™m meeting face to face. If Iā€™m given 15 minutes of a busy art producerā€™s time, you better believe Iā€™m giving it my all. Social media is also huge. I blog 2-3 times a month and am consistently reaching out on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Donā€™t. Show what moves you ā€“ what youā€™re proud of. Show work that is inspiring for a creative to see and hopefully he/she can envision it in a campaign or editorial spread. Be bold and show what youā€™re passionate about.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I am always keeping notes on ideas when they strike. I cull through them constantly and pursue the ideas that keep me inspired. I think many of my Facebook or Instagram friends would agree that I like to utilize both as creative outlets.

How often are you shooting new work?
Iā€™m shooting every week. And when Iā€™m not shooting, Iā€™m thinking about it. New ideas fill my head constantly.

——————

Chris first cut his teeth in the commercial photography world while working as an agency art buyer and producer. He consciously chose the agency route because it offered him experience on the business side and allowed him to shoot and build his first professional portfolio.

Chris now works and lives in his hometown of Philadelphia where he is channeling his love for photojournalism into commercial work. His work has been featured in Communication Arts, Graphis, PDN, American Photography and OneEyeland. His clients include Converse, Reebok, Fuse Network, Guardian Guide, Red Bull Majestic Athletic and Nylon Magazine.

In his spare time, Chris enjoys surfing, building furniture, brewing beer and developing ideas for his next adventure.

APE contributorĀ Suzanne SeaseĀ 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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.Ā She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.Ā  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Art Producers Speak: Reed Young

We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.sease@verizon.net

Anonymous Art Buyer:Ā I nominate Reed Young. He is an editorial photographer whose work has so much story in it that I always stop and spend time with it. He really deserves some exposure for being interesting, thoughtful in the topics he covers and insightful in the compositions he depicts.

NOTE: Reed was nominated twice by two Art Producers from different agencies that have great reputations.

Angelo Maggi, the Italian voice actor for Tom Hanks

Angelo Maggi, the Italian voice actor for Tom Hanks

ā€œGoldieā€ crossed the border when she was 16 and started dancing at a topless bar where most of the dancers were illegal immigrants from Juarez. She soon left that life behind, and now she owns Goldieā€™s Bar, a tiny cantina in an industrial section of south central El Paso. The walls of Goldieā€™s Bar are littered with pictures of her hero, Marilyn Monroe: ā€œI like that she often said that women should be liberated, that men shouldnā€™t limit them, that a woman should be the way she wants to be.ā€

ā€œGoldieā€ crossed the border when she was 16 and started dancing at a topless bar where most of the dancers were illegal immigrants from Juarez. She soon left that life behind, and now she owns Goldieā€™s Bar, a tiny cantina in an industrial section of south central El Paso. The walls of Goldieā€™s Bar are littered with pictures of her hero, Marilyn Monroe: ā€œI like that she often said that women should be liberated, that men shouldnā€™t limit them, that a woman should be the way she wants to be.ā€

Bryan Toovak is a 7-year-old living in Barrow, Alaska. He goes to this playground from spring to fall despite the below-zero temperatures. On this rather mild spring day in early May, temperatures rose to almost 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius).

Bryan Toovak is a 7-year-old living in Barrow, Alaska. He goes to this playground from spring to fall despite the below-zero temperatures. On this rather mild spring day in early May, temperatures rose to almost 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius).

Konishiki Yasokichi is a 45-year-old one of Japanā€™s most recognizable celebrities. Now that heā€™s retired from Sumo Wrestling, the sport that made him so popular, heā€™s become a hip-hop artist and host of his own childrenā€™s television show. He was the heaviest sumo wrestler of all time weighing 580 pounds(264 kg). Two years ago he underwent gastric bypass surgery and has lost much of the weight that previously threatened his good health.

Konishiki Yasokichi is a 45-year-old one of Japanā€™s most recognizable celebrities. Now that heā€™s retired from Sumo Wrestling, the sport that made him so popular, heā€™s become a hip-hop artist and host of his own childrenā€™s television show. He was the heaviest sumo wrestler of all time weighing 580 pounds(264 kg). Two years ago he underwent gastric bypass surgery and has lost much of the weight that previously threatened his good health.

Felicia raises three of her grandchildren in small community deep in the sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic. The family was supported by her husbandā€™s pension until three months ago when he passed away. She lives in one of the few barracks that survived Hurricane George. She believes that the Lord will sustain her during this difficult time in her life.

Felicia raises three of her grandchildren in small community deep in the sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic. The family was supported by her husbandā€™s pension until three months ago when he passed away. She lives in one of the few barracks that survived Hurricane George. She believes that the Lord will sustain her during this difficult time in her life.

Seven days a week, 23-year-old Galson Mgaya rides from his remote village of Mtwango to the nearest city of Makambako, Tanzania. He straps 20 chickens to the back of his bicycle and then sells them in the city for twice what theyā€™d go for in his small town. The trip takes him 3.5 hours each way, but itā€™s worthwhile because he makes about $8 each day. His daily profit helps support his parents and two sisters.

Seven days a week, 23-year-old Galson Mgaya rides from his remote village of Mtwango to the nearest city of Makambako, Tanzania. He straps 20 chickens to the back of his bicycle and then sells them in the city for twice what theyā€™d go for in his small town. The trip takes him 3.5 hours each way, but itā€™s worthwhile because he makes about $8 each day. His daily profit helps support his parents and two sisters.

Many Brownsville residents say the area has more sneaker stores than after-school programs. Brownsville Brooklyn has only three sneaker stores. A few years ago, Penny began hosting an informal after-school program so that children in her building would have a safe place to go after school.

Many Brownsville residents say the area has more sneaker stores than after-school programs. Brownsville Brooklyn has only three sneaker stores. A few years ago, Penny began hosting an informal after-school program so that children in her building would have a safe place to go after school.

Minh Le is an unofficial spokesman for the Vietnamese community in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Approximately one-third of the townā€™s population is of Asian descent, and of those, most are Vietnamese. Adopted by an American serviceman during the 1960s, Minh returned to his native Vietnam in the ā€™70s to act as an advisor to the US Navy. When he retired from the Navy, he moved to Bayou La Batre and bought several shrimp boats, including The Sunrise, pictured here. After the BP oil spill, Minh outfitted his boats to help with the cleanup efforts.

Minh Le is an unofficial spokesman for the Vietnamese community in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Approximately one-third of the townā€™s population is of Asian descent, and of those, most are Vietnamese. Adopted by an American serviceman during the 1960s, Minh returned to his native Vietnam in the ā€™70s to act as an advisor to the US Navy. When he retired from the Navy, he moved to Bayou La Batre and bought several shrimp boats, including The Sunrise, pictured here. After the BP oil spill, Minh outfitted his boats to help with the cleanup efforts.

Comedian John Oliver for The Guardian.

Comedian John Oliver for The Guardian.

An advertisement for Dixan, an Italian laundry detergent.

An advertisement for Dixan, an Italian laundry detergent.

Bomb dog training school for Smithsonian Magazine.

Bomb dog training school for Smithsonian Magazine.

Inside the offices of Etsy for Inc. Magazine.

Inside the offices of Etsy for Inc. Magazine.

How many years have you been in business?
Iā€™ve been doing freelance assignment work for 7 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I graduated from Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
There are many. Iā€™ve always been inspired by the work of Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. When I was in photography school, Steven Meisel and Steven Klein inspired me to try and become a fashion photographer. But I learned early on that it wasnā€™t fashion I loved but the stylistic use of lighting. So I applied it to what I was most interested in ā€“- portraiture.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I was never a good writer, so photography became an excuse to be a storyteller in a different way. I shoot at least two personal projects each year on subjects that interest me. For example I lived in Italy from 2006 to 2009, and while I was there I became fascinated with how American films are always dubbed into the Italian language instead of subtitled. After some research I learned that Italians have grown attached to the voices they associate with each Hollywood actor ā€“ so much that theyā€™ve come to expect the voice of someone like Tom Hanks to always be the same person. This inspired me to spend a month in Rome photographing the dubbers in recreated scenes from their characters most iconic roles. Last month The New Yorker featured the story, which has already led to some exciting new opportunities.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
When it comes to advertising, I look at every assignment as the intersection of the creative, the client and me. Itā€™s my job to bridge everyoneā€™s goals into one successful outcome of which everybody can be proud. I shoot a lot of magazine assignments as well and they allow for a bit more freedom. The photo editor usually has ideas in mind, and they encourage me to interpret their ideas in a way that works best with my style.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
My first job out of college was in the art production department at McCann here in New York. I learned more in 10 months than in all three years of college. The experience allowed me to learn the business from the inside, instead of the usual perspective of a photo assistant. I learned that art buyers are drawn to work even if it isnā€™t what they are producing on a daily basis. Art buyers and photo editors receive hundreds of promos each week, and they basically look at them only long enough to throw them in the trash or delete them from their inbox. I learned quickly that itā€™s important to have a consistent style and to show work thatā€™s hard to forget.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Iā€™ve realized my best work comes from the heart. The beauty of doing personal projects is that I can market myself with the type of work I want to be assigned.

—————————-

Reed Young is an American photographer born in 1982. He grew up in Minneapolis and now calls New York City home. He shoots assignment work for magazines including Time, The Guardian Weekend, Fortune, Fast Company , Popular Mechanics and Runnerā€™s World. Youngā€™s work has taken him all over the world in search of stories that focus on the human perspective.

www.reedyoung.com +1 917.821.4449 me@reedyoung.com

APE contributorĀ Suzanne SeaseĀ 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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.Ā She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.Ā  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Art Producers Speak: Kris Davidson

We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.sease@verizon.net

Anonymous Art Buyer:Ā I nominate Kris Davidson as one of our art directors really like her and she seems so great.

Returning to Sweden (my homeland), I spent 5 days traveling with migrating reindeer. It was very cold ā€“ but cathartic and utterly magical. In this image I was drawn to how the reindeer antlers resembled braches of the distant tree line.

Returning to Sweden (my homeland), I spent 5 days traveling with migrating reindeer. It was very cold ā€“ but cathartic and utterly magical. In this image I was drawn to how the reindeer antlers resembled braches of the distant tree line.

These two maniacs are in a ā€œsafeā€ naturally formed pocket at the top Victoria Falls in Zambia ā€“ near the Devilā€™s Pool. I still get dizzy just looking at this.

These two maniacs are in a ā€œsafeā€ naturally formed pocket at the top Victoria Falls in Zambia ā€“ near the Devilā€™s Pool. I still get dizzy just looking at this.

Sunrise somewhere in the Atlantic -- sailing with Semester At Sea as a staff photographer early on in photography career helped me build a beginning travel portfolio.

Sunrise somewhere in the Atlantic — sailing with Semester At Sea as a staff photographer early on in photography career helped me build a beginning travel portfolio.

On assignment for National Geographic Traveler in Key West ā€“ this wonderful mystic read my fortune as I photographed him ā€“ and he kept the details of my future to himself at my request!

On assignment for National Geographic Traveler in Key West ā€“ this wonderful mystic read my fortune as I photographed him ā€“ and he kept the details of my future to himself at my request!

Photographing Cochise County, Arizona for National Geographic Traveler has been one of my favorite assignments to date. Such a strange, wild place where history and the modern day converge. These cowboy actors relaxing in a saloon before their daily gun battle at the OK Corral in Tombstone.

Photographing Cochise County, Arizona for National Geographic Traveler has been one of my favorite assignments to date. Such a strange, wild place where history and the modern day converge. These cowboy actors relaxing in a saloon before their daily gun battle at the OK Corral in Tombstone.

I danced on the bayou with the inimitable ā€œWild Manā€ while on assignment for Lonely Planet Traveller in the Louisiana swamps.

I danced on the bayou with the inimitable ā€œWild Manā€ while on assignment for Lonely Planet Traveller in the Louisiana swamps.

The Cajun version of Mardi Gras (called Courier de Mardi Gras) is absolutely surreal. I found myself running after brightly dressed men (some on horseback) who were chasing after chickens (traditionally destined for communal gumbo) through miles of bayou wetlands.

The Cajun version of Mardi Gras (called Courier de Mardi Gras) is absolutely surreal. I found myself running after brightly dressed men (some on horseback) who were chasing after chickens (traditionally destined for communal gumbo) through miles of bayou wetlands.

In Key West again, for Lonely Planet Traveller. The egg and cheese sandwiches are delicious at the Cuban Coffee Queen.

In Key West again, for Lonely Planet Traveller. The egg and cheese sandwiches are delicious at the Cuban Coffee Queen.

This is the very first image I made for In the Southern Garden. Here is Walter in Glendora, Mississippi holding up an old Nat King Cole album titled ā€œLove Is the Thing.ā€

This is the very first image I made for In the Southern Garden. Here is Walter in Glendora, Mississippi holding up an old Nat King Cole album titled ā€œLove Is the Thing.ā€

Also for In the Southern Garden -- Swamp Thing is a street performer in the French Quarter.

Also for In the Southern Garden — Swamp Thing is a street performer in the French Quarter.

For my in-progress American Macondo project I am experimenting with mixed media ā€“ this is actually a photograph of a print that includes paint, pencil and gold specks. The image is a Mexican born US border patrol agent in what they refer to as ā€œno manā€™s land.ā€ Tijuana on the other side of the fence.

For my in-progress American Macondo project I am experimenting with mixed media ā€“ this is actually a photograph of a print that includes paint, pencil and gold specks. The image is a Mexican born US border patrol agent in what they refer to as ā€œno manā€™s land.ā€ Tijuana on the other side of the fence.

How many years have you been in business?
Full time, about 6 years ā€“ I gradually transitioned from a branding/marketing career into being a photographer and educator.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
After taking every single photography course at Loyola University in New Orleans I immediately enrolled at Brooks Institute for an MFA program. Beyond that, I feel compelled to credit the invaluable non-formal education I have received over the years as well ā€“ my career began in the San Francisco during the dot com boom in as a branding project manager. The time I spent learning how to dissect a brand was priceless. I owe a huge debt to my branding guides Renee Sheppard and Rita Damore. Also, photographer Catherine Karnow, who showed me how to really see people through a lens, demonstrating that it, is possible to make a living celebrating humanity.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
Two people: Dr. Leslie Parr, a photography professor at Loyola University in New Orleans. She is a wonderful photo historian with a focus on the documentary genre. Her classes were always the most delightful refuge for me. Also, Michael Sustendal, a commercial photographer who I assisted during my college days in New Orleans. A Southerner to the core, he is the most entertaining storyteller I have ever met. I could listen to him talk all day! He remains a life mentor and dear friend.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
Honestly, I donā€™t think too much about ways to stay fresh. Maybe I should! In truth, I just indulge my own curiosity — I feel most alive when traveling and telling/interpreting stories (whether in a far away land or just down the street). Curiosity drives pretty much all the work I do, from commercial work (branding IS a form of story-telling, after all) to editorial travel assignments and my personal work. I have come to regard the camera as a magical key that allows me to open doors into worlds that I have no reason to be in otherwise.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I tend not to look at it that way. In my previous branding career incarnation I was privy to a topographical view of the branding landscape far before anyone ever paid me a dime to shoot a single frame. With my hands in everything from initial client meetings — including the occasional hellish moment of having to tell a new client that ā€œtheir baby is uglyā€ as one of my first branding mentors wryly phrased it — to the end resolution/plan for moving a brand forward in a dynamic, collaborative way. The photography portion of a brand can be very important, but it is always a part of a larger effort. As such, I donā€™t view client pushback as a rejection of my own creativity — I view it as part of a larger conversation about an organic brand. My goal is to be creative — of course — but I always want to be in tune with how the rest of the brand is emerging and evolving. The collaboration itself is the creative challenge.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Well, I am a people-person! I try to meet with creatives with my printed portfolio whenever possible ā€“ there is nothing that compares to a beautiful printed portfolio and eye contact. Other than that, I donā€™t like being too heavy-handed. I send a small set of promos of current/new work out a few times a year, along with short, personal hand-written notes — although I wonder if that is a good idea since my handwriting is questionable. Beyond that, a clean, focused tightly-edited website is my primary marketing tool ā€“ I update it about ever year with the help of my marketing consultant. I also blog — I like to write with the intent of providing a deeper insight into my photographic approach and who I am as a person.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Be honest with yourself about what kind of work you really want to do (often easier said than done). Then, with that defined, make every effort to understand the business side the specific market you are interested in. It is not the sexiest area of study (and you may need to devise your own education here to some extent), but it is essential. The consumer, editorial, commercial and art markets are all unique, and nuanced within themselves. I personally find it very useful to partner with industry experts/consultants to help organize and present my work. Just like I have an accountant who does my taxes (thank god), I have a consultant who helps me manage my portfolios/marketing strategy, a printer who makes my prints and a bookbinder for my portfolio book exteriors. It is an investment, but worth it. For me it is a huge stress relief not to have shoulder the weight of all that work by myself.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Yes. Being an immigrant to the United States, my current personal projects explore what it means to become and be an American. There are so many varying interpretations. I am working on two separate projects that explore this question. Currently, I am focused on American Macondo, which looks at migration in the US/Mexico borderlands through a magical realism filter (I am interested in navigating a line between a documentary aesthetic and the often fictional/constructed landscape of memory). And, being based in New Orleans for the time being, I am also working on a project titled In the Southern Garden, which considers how individual identity and collective social memory continue to unfold in the American South in the wake of the Civil War.

How often are you shooting new work?
Commercial and editorial gigs — as often as they come! Beyond that, I am almost always working on a personal project in some capacity. But I am not someone who shoots every day or carries a camera everywhere. Rather, my process tends to involve a lot of pre-shoot thinking and cross-disciplinary reading/research for inspiration. Right now for my American Macondo project I am reading three very different books: Being America: Liberty, Commerce and Violence in an American World (by Jedediah Purdy); Thirteen Crime Stories from Latin America (A McSweeny short story collection); and St. Lucyā€™s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (another collection of surrealist/magical short stories by Karen Russell). I also have a standing coffee date with a friend who is a Mexican economist and we just chat about art, Latin America and his impressions of the US. Later this year Iā€™ll head back down to the borderlands to shoot ā€“ and see what transpires.

—————-

Kris Davidson is a freelance photographer and educator based in San Francisco and New Orleans. Her specialties include travel/lifestyle and portraiture for editorial, commercial and corporate clients. Kris has an MFA from Brooks Institute and a BA (Communication Arts) from Loyola University in New Orleans. Prior to becoming a photographer, Kris worked as a marketing/branding professional for 8 years.

As a photographer, Kris has worked with various clients including Lonely Planet Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, TravesĆ­as Magazine, The Discovery Channel, MTV Networks, The Institute for Shipboard Education, Kimpton Hotels to name a few. She has been recognized for her work in PDN Magazine, American Photo Magazine and in the International Photo Awards.

Kris is also faculty at the Academy of Art University based in San Francisco, teaching several courses online in the photography school; additionally, she also teaches for the National Geographic Expeditions Photography Workshops.

APE contributorĀ Suzanne SeaseĀ 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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.Ā She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.Ā  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

The Power of Social Media – Grace Chon and JJ Miller

- - Social Media

by Suzanne Sease

In full disclosure, Grace and JJ are former clients, who I still keep in touch with to see how they are doing. I always want my clients to do personal projects from their heart and it can create an amazing path you never expected. I am an avid Redditor, I think it is a great venue to get your work out there as well as many other ones.

Here are their stories of the ā€œPower of Social Mediaā€

Grace Chon ā€œZoey and Jasperā€

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I started out sharing the “Zoey and Jasper” tumblrĀ page with the editorial contacts I already had, reaching out to magazines I had worked with in the past. I really pushed the tumblr page and instagram with the media, since everyone seems to be complaining these days about the functionality of Facebook Pages, but Facebook was also a huge inĀ helping this go viral.

On Thursday April 10th I shared the tumblrĀ page with a huge dog magazine I’ve worked with regularly called The Bark. By Friday morning, it had 4,700 likes and 1,080 shares. I also sent the link out to a magazine called Koream Magazine, andĀ on Friday they started toĀ publicizeĀ it. All all the other huge Asian American media channels started to pick it up – like Hyphen, Angry Asian Man, Audrey Magazine, and more.

The Korean American founder and curator of aĀ MyĀ ModernĀ MetĀ saw it on Saturday and immediately reached out to me for an interview that afternoon. Within the hour she had it up on the site and she told me that all the major news sites follow the site like The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail, Yahoo, The Today Show, and Good Morning America, just to name a few.

Within a few minutes of it being up on My Modern Met I had an email from The Daily Mail and they had it up by Sunday.

Come Monday morning on April 14th, myĀ inbox was jam packed with media requests! Suzanne also very wisely recommended that I upload the link to Reddit, and it was picked up by users and made it onto the front page. The images also ran on The Huffington Post, Yahoo, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Buzzfeed, Mashable, People, PetaPixel, and Bored Panda, along with countless international websites in countries like China, Taiwan, Brazil, Germany, Finland, Italy, France, Peru, Colombia, Serbia and Portugal.

On Friday April 18th, the images aired on The Today Show during the 4th hour with Kathie Lee and Hoda. They closed out the segment while discussing (and giggling!) over all the images.

http://www.today.com/video/today/54983983

The dust has now settled a bit, and now I have 18,500 followers on instagram (started at 550) and 18,000 followers on tumblr (started at 0!). My rep Kim Knight has been going on portfolio shows and she’s finding that the creatives are already familiar with the series. Zoey’s original rescuer in Taiwan also miraculously found us, after waiting 7 years to find out what happened to the tiny puppy she took care of. All I can say is wow! The power of social media.

JJ Miller #wewillrun

The #wewillrun was originally pitched as an idea to a client and after their decision not use it, I couldnā€™t stop thinking about the story and the uplifting message. The project became personal for me and I needed to film it instead of letting it play in my head.

I reached out to the team members of my production company and colleagues that I had collaborated with in the past. They all signed on enthusiastically once they heard the message. The crew included:Ā DP, Jeff Melanson, First Assistant Camera, Nolan Ball, Co-writer and Narrator, Rich DiMare and Produced by Alexandra Bettencourt.

I uploaded the #wewillrun video on Vimeo, and the posted a link to it on Facebook and Twitter. We also sent out a press release through PR Web. The first day it got around 1,000 hits and then there was a write up on the website Boston.com and soon got about 24,000 hits. The same day the BDCwire post it on Readit. Iā€™ve worked with Reddit before on other projects. However, this experience has only strengthened my understanding of how much impact sites like Reddit can have.Ā 

The next morning my email blew up with multiple interview requests, and #wewillrun was trending on top of Facebook and Twitter. That helped the video get shared on a global level, generating nearly 160,000 views on that Thursday. In the following days, it got national press appearing on Fox News, CNN international, and many write ups from sites like the Hollywood reporter, Buzzfeed, ESPN, Elitedaily, Bleacherreport, NESN and many more.

In three weeks on the day of the marathon #wewillrun had been played 449,000 times. When Rich and I sat down to write the script, we wanted to create a message about moving forward. When we read it over, something just felt right gooesbumps. Most of all, itā€™s been very humbling to have people feel similar emotions.Ā 

http://jjmillerphotography.com

Art Producers Speak: Willem Vrey

We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.sease@verizon.net

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Willem Vrey. He is a Namibian photographer who has an exceptional eye when it comes to photography.

I took this picture at a fish market in a small town close to Cape Town in South Africa, a few weeks after I bought my first camera. I'm not sure why, but I still really like it ā€“ especially the way your eye is drawn towards the center.

I took this picture at a fish market in a small town close to Cape Town in South Africa, a few weeks after I bought my first camera. I’m not sure why, but I still really like it ā€“ especially the way your eye is drawn towards the center.

I took this during my first week of working on the cruise ship, in a town called ColĆ³n in Panama. This was one of those moments that I love in photography where my instincts took over as soon as I saw the bird flying. I brought the camera to my eye, snapped one photo and new that I had caught it at just the right moment ā€“ another early image I am still very proud of.

I took this during my first week of working on the cruise ship, in a town called ColĆ³n in Panama. This was one of those moments that I love in photography where my instincts took over as soon as I saw the bird flying. I brought the camera to my eye, snapped one photo and new that I had caught it at just the right moment ā€“ another early image I am still very proud of.

Still from my time on the ship ā€“ we were docked in Auckland, New Zealand overnight and I spent most of the evening walking around the city. It was very misty and with the lights of the city made the sky glow. I got a number of great images of the city by placing my camera on it's back on the ground to keep it steady and doing some long exposures to capture the colours. This is one of my favorites from that night.

Still from my time on the ship ā€“ we were docked in Auckland, New Zealand overnight and I spent most of the evening walking around the city. It was very misty and with the lights of the city made the sky glow. I got a number of great images of the city by placing my camera on it’s back on the ground to keep it steady and doing some long exposures to capture the colours. This is one of my favorites from that night.

This was taken soon after I got back home from my stint on the ship. It's a 30 second exposure with two cars driving past (streaks of lights in the foreground) and a dancer friend who I asked to run and jump in front of the camera. While she was in the air I hit her with a speedlight I was holding in my hand... Just one of those images where everything works out even better than I could have hoped.

This was taken soon after I got back home from my stint on the ship. It’s a 30 second exposure with two cars driving past (streaks of lights in the foreground) and a dancer friend who I asked to run and jump in front of the camera. While she was in the air I hit her with a speedlight I was holding in my hand… Just one of those images where everything works out even better than I could have hoped.

This is from a series of aerial photographs of the Namib desert. It's truly one of the most beautiful places in the world and looks especially spectacular from the air. The prints from this series are still some of my best sellers.

This is from a series of aerial photographs of the Namib desert. It’s truly one of the most beautiful places in the world and looks especially spectacular from the air. The prints from this series are still some of my best sellers.

This was taken at a place called Dead Vlei, in the Namib desert in Namibia. The dead trees in front of the huge red sand dunes (the highest dunes in the world) made for a number of very surreal looking images.

This was taken at a place called Dead Vlei, in the Namib desert in Namibia. The dead trees in front of the huge red sand dunes (the highest dunes in the world) made for a number of very surreal looking images.

Just an image I like of one of my portrait client. The sun was going down, everything was working, and I just love how well she is engaging with the camera.

Just an image I like of one of my portrait client. The sun was going down, everything was working, and I just love how well she is engaging with the camera.

Another portrait I like from a portrait shoot outside the city ā€“ beautiful model, beautiful hair and one of my favorite portraits ā€“ even though the sun was already down and the light was fading.

Another portrait I like from a portrait shoot outside the city ā€“ beautiful model, beautiful hair and one of my favorite portraits ā€“ even though the sun was already down and the light was fading.

This was taken late one night in the informal settlement on the outskirts of the city where I live. It was part of a series to show what the area looks like at night where the people don't have electricity. People streaming to the city from the more rural regions are building these small corrugated metal houses faster than the municipality can supply services ā€“ so here are thousands of people living with now running water, sewage or electricity. It's a very early place to be because there where almost no people about, but inside every house you walk past, you can hear people talking, radios playing and children laughing. Despite the poverty, it's actually quite a clean and orderly society with every little crime and social problems one would usually equate with such conditions.

This was taken late one night in the informal settlement on the outskirts of the city where I live. It was part of a series to show what the area looks like at night where the people don’t have electricity. People streaming to the city from the more rural regions are building these small corrugated metal houses faster than the municipality can supply services ā€“ so here are thousands of people living with now running water, sewage or electricity. It’s a very early place to be because there where almost no people about, but inside every house you walk past, you can hear people talking, radios playing and children laughing. Despite the poverty, it’s actually quite a clean and orderly society with every little crime and social problems one would usually equate with such conditions.

This is from a portrait session I did in the informal settlement. I love her attitude and the colours.

This is from a portrait session I did in the informal settlement. I love her attitude and the colours.

This was casual photo I took while exploring an old rock quarry with a friend. She was wading through the water when she found a rock to stand on that was just below the surface, making for a very surreal moment.

This was casual photo I took while exploring an old rock quarry with a friend. She was wading through the water when she found a rock to stand on that was just below the surface, making for a very surreal moment.

This is a friend of mine who I like to shoot. She has the most beautiful long hair and a very natural look. She is looking down, yet still engaging with the viewer.

This is a friend of mine who I like to shoot. She has the most beautiful long hair and a very natural look. She is looking down, yet still engaging with the viewer.

This was during a boat trip in large bay on Namibia's coast. It was very misty, with only 50 meters or so of visibility. I loved the calmness of the water in the bay and waited for ages for a bird to fly into the frame to break the pattern a bit.

This was during a boat trip in large bay on Namibia’s coast. It was very misty, with only 50 meters or so of visibility. I loved the calmness of the water in the bay and waited for ages for a bird to fly into the frame to break the pattern a bit.

A few months ago I wanted to get out of the city and bit and decided to try and drive a 125cc motorcycle about 6000 miles from Namibia to Zanzibar and back. I ended up not taking as many photos as I would have liked, but I did get some great images walking around Stone Town (Zanzibar). I am proud of this one because I managed to time it just right with the guy on the scooter driving past me at high speed ā€“ just as he was level with the woman walking ahead of me. I like the contrast between the traditional and the modern.

A few months ago I wanted to get out of the city and bit and decided to try and drive a 125cc motorcycle about 6000 miles from Namibia to Zanzibar and back. I ended up not taking as many photos as I would have liked, but I did get some great images walking around Stone Town (Zanzibar). I am proud of this one because I managed to time it just right with the guy on the scooter driving past me at high speed ā€“ just as he was level with the woman walking ahead of me. I like the contrast between the traditional and the modern.

This is from an amazing contemporary dance piece that I was involved in as the stills photographer. There were many images from that job that I liked, but this is one of my favorites. The show is called Anima, and it was put together by the talented people from First Rain Dance Theater ā€“ a contemporary dance company based in Namibia.

This is from an amazing contemporary dance piece that I was involved in as the stills photographer. There were many images from that job that I liked, but this is one of my favorites. The show is called Anima, and it was put together by the talented people from First Rain Dance Theater ā€“ a contemporary dance company based in Namibia.

How many years have you been in business?
The first time I asked for, and received a bit of money for a freelance job was in 2010, and things just sort of grew from there. Word got around and more and more people began to call me and I eventually had to register my business and make it official.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
At the start of 2009 I felt like I had to make some changes in my life and just get away from everything for a while. I went to into the Namib Desert for a few days for some peace and quiet and space to think clearly. I decided I just needed to get out of the country for a while and simplify things. After a few weeks of narrowing down my options, I decided to apply for a job on a cruise ship. I (literally) threw a dart at a list of jobs I might qualify for, and it hit ā€œon-board photographerā€. I applied, got a camera and some lenses and immediately started reading books and blogs and watching YouTube tutorials all day. I also forced myself to shoot in manual mode right from the start, which I feel is probably the one of best habits that a new photographer can have ā€“ even if you end up messing up 60% of your shots in the beginning. ā€Øā€ØI got the job and soon I was boarding a large ship in Miami, on which I worked for the next 6 months.

It turns out that cruise ship photography is one of the worst jobs out there. I was shooting, printing and selling for 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. The pay is terrible and there is absolutely no scope for expression or creativity, BUT: I was taking 1500 ā€“ 3000 pictures a day with manual controls and every photo I took was printed and put up on a wall for everyone to see. Tie this to the fact that my boss on the ship was one of the most uncompromising people I have ever met, I was forced to become very good with my gear very quickly.

After 6 months I left the ship in Australia, flew home and, being broke, started to turn to my photography for an income. The rest of my education came from reading and learning diligently every day, shooting a lot, spending time with other experienced photographers and business people, and making an effort to be honestly critical of my own work.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
There are many great photographers and other people who inspire me on a daily basis, but I think getting into the photo game was simply a combination of providence and a lack of other opportunities at the time. It’s funny where life takes us sometimes.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
It can be difficult sometimes, especially for someone as hard on himself as I am, but when I feel uninspired and unmotivated I find that the best thing to do is to simply start and do SOMETHING ā€“ even if it’s bad. I don’t have a team of creatives to draw on, and my clients always expect me to come up with something new and fresh every time.. so when I can’t think of anything, I often have to force myself to go out and begin shooting anything to see what develops, or to sit down and begin writing down anything that comes to my mind. 99% of what I produce during these sessions is usually pretty bad, but that other 1% has very often turned out to be where my best work has come from.

And then, when you have created something worthwhile, you have to make sure that as many people as possible see it and know where to reach you.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
When someone is paying me for something, I try to keep in mind what would be best for the client and how I would feel in their shoes. I have had to learn to curb my arrogance and ego if I am going to make it in business. Having said that though, I do believe that that it is very important to only put out work that you are happy to be associated with, and those two ideals can sometimes be in conflict. When that happens, I try to think about the situation reasonably and figure out how the decision is going to affect me in the long term. Sometimes that has meant saying no to work when I couldn’t really afford to say no to, and sometimes I have had to swallow my pride, take the money and let it go.ā€Øā€ØI also try to keep a separation between the commercial and the fine art parts of my operation and to only compromise when it makes sense to me.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I have been lucky enough, and work in a market that is small enough, to be able to rely mostly on word-of-mouth and repeat clients. I try to keep my social media updated and to keep my website in order, but generally I prefer to be shooting, printing and editing. I have found that as long as my work is good enough, most jobs will lead to further business.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Invest in a good printed portfolio. Yes, have a website, have Facebook, have an iPad with a portfolio app… but remember that the buyers often get thousands of electronic portfolios sent to them by email ā€“ sometimes from people who are better than you are. What stands out these days is something physical like a high quality portfolio book, or even a collection of loose prints in a nice box. Spend the money to have it done by someone who knows what they are doing, and print it on fine art paper. You can show it to them in person, or ship it to their offices with a note saying it will be picked up again after a week or two. I’ve also found that including a pair of white cotton gloves in the package makes the prints immediately seem more impressive and will make them last longer. If you want to replace a print in your portfolio, and it was handled carefully by the people who saw it, you can always frame and try to sell it, or give it away as a gift.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I try to always be working on some sort of series or project during my spare time. I also find walking around the city with my camera has a very therapeutic effect on me. Often great images can come from these excursions. To be honest though, I do find that the more of a business the photography becomes, the less often I think about grabbing my camera as I head out somewhere… something I should maybe work on.

How often are you shooting new work?
That’s a difficult question to answer ā€“ I’d have to say that it depends on what I am working on. I would guess that on average I am actually out shooting for profit for about 2 days per week, with the rest taken up with post-processing, seeing clients, making and framing prints, teaching and running the business.

About the Photographer:

Born and bred in Namibia, Willem’s interest in photography started relatively late at the age of 23. However, his eye was developed from an early age through his love and proficiency in fine art. In 2005 Willem graduated and immediately embarked on several successful business ventures, but changes in outlook and values in his early twenties finally led him to discover photography as a way to satisfy, develop and share both the creative and the analytical parts of his mind in a fulfilling and meaningful way.

Mostly self-taught, Willem has approached the subject with diligence, constant self-assessment and high personal standards and over the course of only four years, the scope and nuance of the construction and composition of his work have increased exponentially. Today, he is a force to be reckoned with in the world of photography.

Willem is one of Namibiaā€™s most avant-garde and exciting photographers whose talent for shooting movement is unparalleled. In the commercial realm too, Willem has experienced much success and is in high demand as a portrait and fine-art photographer. He is known for his technical skill and knowledge, his versatility and ability to work equally well with both controlled and natural light.

Contact details:
Email: willem@willemvrey.com
Phone: +264 81 238 7654
Website: www.willemvrey.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/willemvreyphoto

APE contributorĀ 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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.Ā She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.Ā  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Art Producers Speak: Josh DeHonney

We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.sease@verizon.net

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Josh DeHonney. Iā€™m a big fan of his work. One of our favorite portrait photographers who is exceedingly nice guy who I praise his humbleness when he is praised for his craft.

I love radio, and I love New York.Ā  So shooting Ty Bentli of CBS 92.3 all around the city was a great commission.Ā  Ty was new to the city but felt very at home there, and we wanted to convey that.Ā  We had planned to take that standard picture of him waiting for the train as it rushed by, shutter open.Ā  As we waited, I turned the camera away from him and for a moment he relaxed and leaned on the pole naturally.

I love radio, and I love New York.Ā  So shooting Ty Bentli of CBS 92.3 all around the city was a great commission.Ā  Ty was new to the city but felt very at home there, and we wanted to convey that.Ā  We had planned to take that standard picture of him waiting for the train as it rushed by, shutter open.Ā  As we waited, I turned the camera away from him and for a moment he relaxed and leaned on the pole naturally.

The London Souls, a rock band from New York, used this image as the cover art for their sophomore record, Here Come The Girls.Ā  We had great chemistry, like we went to high school together.Ā  The album looks -- and sounds -- great.

The London Souls, a rock band from New York, used this image as the cover art for their sophomore record, Here Come The Girls.Ā  We had great chemistry, like we went to high school together.Ā  The album looks — and sounds — great.

I took this shot on the train tracks behind the clientā€™s warehouse ā€¦ without permission.Ā  I lost my wallet making this one happen.Ā  Two weeks later, I get a call from the Kearny Rail Police.Ā  The good news was, they found my wallet. Ā The bad news was, they werenā€™t happy I was on the tracks.Ā  Luckily the ad had printed by then, so I had more than a business card to back up my story.Ā  I got away with it this time.Ā  But next time, Iā€™m told itā€™s going to cost me $10,000!Ā 

I took this shot on the train tracks behind the clientā€™s warehouse ā€¦ without permission.Ā  I lost my wallet making this one happen.Ā  Two weeks later, I get a call from the Kearny Rail Police.Ā  The good news was, they found my wallet. Ā The bad news was, they werenā€™t happy I was on the tracks.Ā  Luckily the ad had printed by then, so I had more than a business card to back up my story.Ā  I got away with it this time.Ā  But next time, Iā€™m told itā€™s going to cost me $10,000!Ā 

Bucks Life magazine sent me to cover a young new DJ (then still in high school). He was making some cool events happen, all for charity.Ā  We met at the Jersey shore in the summer and got this great shot in a matter of minutes.

Bucks Life magazine sent me to cover a young new DJ (then still in high school). He was making some cool events happen, all for charity.Ā  We met at the Jersey shore in the summer and got this great shot in a matter of minutes.

I met Mac Miller by Union Square.Ā  We walked over to Irving Plaza together, where he was performing that night.Ā  As we got close to the venue, I noticed Mac getting his game face on.Ā  He turned his hat around, zipped his jacket, and pulled up his pants.Ā  When we rounded the corner, there were a dozen fans waiting for him, as he knew there would be.Ā  The kids went crazy for him.Ā  He was cool as hell.Ā  He took the time to take pictures with each kid. Ā It was great to capture that.

I met Mac Miller by Union Square.Ā  We walked over to Irving Plaza together, where he was performing that night.Ā  As we got close to the venue, I noticed Mac getting his game face on.Ā  He turned his hat around, zipped his jacket, and pulled up his pants.Ā  When we rounded the corner, there were a dozen fans waiting for him, as he knew there would be.Ā  The kids went crazy for him.Ā  He was cool as hell.Ā  He took the time to take pictures with each kid. Ā It was great to capture that.

This image is another good example of an instant where the subject feels totally comfortable.Ā  In this case, Director Ulysses Terrero was standing behind me, where the director normally stands.Ā  Although I had my camera metered for the strobes in the background, there was enough ambient light available to cut the wizard and still get a great exposure when I turned to grab this shot.

This image is another good example of an instant where the subject feels totally comfortable.Ā  In this case, Director Ulysses Terrero was standing behind me, where the director normally stands.Ā  Although I had my camera metered for the strobes in the background, there was enough ambient light available to cut the wizard and still get a great exposure when I turned to grab this shot.

This commission took me all the way to Hawaii to shoot a look book and some ads.Ā  Beautiful girl, cool clothes, and a tropical island.Ā  You can't miss.

This commission took me all the way to Hawaii to shoot a look book and some ads.Ā  Beautiful girl, cool clothes, and a tropical island.Ā  You can’t miss.

I have contributed to Urban Latino magazine for years.Ā  I love making awesome images happen for them. Ā When John Leguizamo came up as a cover option, I was extra excited.Ā  One of my favorite actors, John was a total pleasure to photograph and could not have been more humble.

I have contributed to Urban Latino magazine for years.Ā  I love making awesome images happen for them. Ā When John Leguizamo came up as a cover option, I was extra excited.Ā  One of my favorite actors, John was a total pleasure to photograph and could not have been more humble.

When I left NYC in 2011, I couldn't help noticing the growing number of vacant properties around me. Ā This is from a series of images of massive abandoned buildings within ten miles from my house.

When I left NYC in 2011, I couldn’t help noticing the growing number of vacant properties around me. Ā This is from a series of images of massive abandoned buildings within ten miles from my house.

This is one of my good friends taking a break while we were shooting on location in LaQuinta, California.

This is one of my good friends taking a break while we were shooting on location in LaQuinta, California.

Before linking up with the band Brother to shoot a portrait for YRB magazine, I checked out their video for "Darling Buds of May."Ā  I was really impressed.Ā  I chose a location that was inspired by the video, hoping to keep the bandā€™s image consistent while shooting with a style that comes naturally to me.

Before linking up with the band Brother to shoot a portrait for YRB magazine, I checked out their video for “Darling Buds of May.”Ā  I was really impressed.Ā  I chose a location that was inspired by the video, hoping to keep the bandā€™s image consistent while shooting with a style that comes naturally to me.

Spike Lee was my first professional portrait assignment in NYC.Ā  Heā€™s a legend, of course.Ā  So no pressure.Ā  We shot this at NYU, where heā€™s a film professor. Ā The story I shot the pictures for was about sneakers.Ā  So that made the experience that much more fun.

Spike Lee was my first professional portrait assignment in NYC.Ā  Heā€™s a legend, of course.Ā  So no pressure.Ā  We shot this at NYU, where heā€™s a film professor. Ā The story I shot the pictures for was about sneakers.Ā  So that made the experience that much more fun.

As a big fan of Bobbito Garcia, this early shoot for Kicksclusive magazine really stands out for me.Ā  Bob is one the coolest dudes ever and also a photographer.Ā  I can't front for one second.Ā  This shot was all his idea. Ā I simply executed.

As a big fan of Bobbito Garcia, this early shoot for Kicksclusive magazine really stands out for me.Ā  Bob is one the coolest dudes ever and also a photographer.Ā  I can’t front for one second.Ā  This shot was all his idea. Ā I simply executed.

This is a selection from a series called Watching.Ā  I aimed to capture the presence of the growing number of security cameras in the public space.Ā  I had no intention of photographing the guy who blocked his face from my camera ā€¦ the irony.

This is a selection from a series called Watching.Ā  I aimed to capture the presence of the growing number of security cameras in the public space.Ā  I had no intention of photographing the guy who blocked his face from my camera ā€¦ the irony.

As far as easy and amazing assignments go, The Ting Tings take the cake.

As far as easy and amazing assignments go, The Ting Tings take the cake.

I was so thrilled to photograph Esperanza Spalding.Ā  She was very cool, easy to work with, and personifies Jazz.

I was so thrilled to photograph Esperanza Spalding.Ā  She was very cool, easy to work with, and personifies Jazz.

When Natalia Kills showed up at the studio for a portrait session, I knew we were going to make some cool images happen.Ā  We had instant chemistry and came up with a few solid concepts right away.Ā  Narrowing the edits down was as tough as expected.Ā  This image didn't make the print book.Ā  But it really stood out.

When Natalia Kills showed up at the studio for a portrait session, I knew we were going to make some cool images happen.Ā  We had instant chemistry and came up with a few solid concepts right away.Ā  Narrowing the edits down was as tough as expected.Ā  This image didn’t make the print book.Ā  But it really stood out.

How many years have you been in business?
For years I worked as an assistant and at Pier 59 Studios in New York while simultaneously building my brand. But in 2010, I quit assisting and have since focused on my own work full time. As much as I loved assisting and working at the Pier as a side hustle, it’s great to be shooting on my own.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
A little of both. School gave me the fundamentals. But I also learned a lot on the job and by being around world-class photographers on a near-daily basis at the Pier. Also, the Pier used to let employees test once a month for free. I took full — and I mean full — advantage of that deal. Between that and my assisting work, I was able to shoot and test a ton. Studio photography is amazing. Itā€™s an important skill to develop. All of the techniques and lighting tricks you learn are universally applied when you don’t have the luxury of a fully-stocked equipment room.

Also, packing jobs for remote locations, where there are no stores, let alone EQ rooms, teaches you the importance of triple-checking. You can never take anyoneā€™s word on equipment that you didn’t see. And sometimes going without it is not an option. No art school can teach you pragmatic things like that.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
My mom always stressed the importance of doing what you love, no matter what. She travelled the world taking pictures for fun. Though she chose a stable career as a dental hygienist, her pictures covered the walls. She is also a long-time subscriber and avid collector of National Geographic. Those magazines were major influences. And for years I assisted Kip Meyer, who is an awesome photographer. I really admire the way he interacts with clients and models as well as his general approach to projects.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
Inspiration is the easy part. Being inspired is a prerequisite for the job. I get ideas for pictures from the imagery I see all around me. I drive a lot, ride my bike a lot. I find inspiration in that. I canā€™t help but notice amazing landscapes, or an interesting building, even if I canā€™t shoot them. Then I imagine what I see as context for a subject. So when I arrive at a location for a client sight unseen and have to make an interesting image happen no matter what, I have a whole catalog of ideas in my mind to draw on.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
It seems the work that gets the best response from creatives and peers isnā€™t always what appeals to a clientā€™s target audience. Just because an image or series of work is cool on tumblr, or gets a bunch of Likes, doesnā€™t mean it will sell.Ā  The most important thing about photography is being creative.Ā  But with commercial work, you have to consider the clientā€™s goals.Ā  I am providing a service, and incorporating what the client has in mind is the most important thing. I still try to be sure you can see my thumbprint on the final product, since the client chose me to make the image, after all.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I have a show at the end of April to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Urban Latino magazine. Iā€™m the photo editor of ULM. Iā€™ve worked with them for years. The show will highlight the work I have done for the magazine. I also stay up on social media as much as I can. And Iā€™ve been known to cold call brands that I love and want to work with. I also love to make new connections through editorial work. But what usually works best is sticking with the network I know.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Being a photographer is a lot like being a writer. Great writers have a very clear voice. Thatā€™s how you distinguish yourself from the crowd. I love looking at other photographerā€™s work, taking in as many photo books, blogs, and magazines as I can. This process helps me find my voice. So look at as many pictures you can. Know the landscape. Look at your own work all the time, too. Be sure your images speak to your vision. Know what you want to shoot. Be very clear in your mind what it is you want to see before you make it happen. As with all other art forms, there are lots of trends, but honesty never gets old.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Always. One of my favorite things about location shooting is that you have to get an idea of where you are shooting by walking around, and of course you are going to bring your camera. So at that moment, it’s nice to relax and imagine that you are just out in the park, shooting pictures with no pressure, and there is no art director 10 yards away stressing because itā€™s overcast or the model is late.

Also, I have two young children who are changing by the second — itā€™s amazing to see them grow. I want make sure that I am changing and developing, too. I don’t want to take the same pictures my whole life. That just doesn’t make sense.

How often are you shooting new work?
At least 3 times a week. In the summer, almost every day. Photography is built into my life. There is always a camera in armā€™s reach.

Josh was born in Toronto and grew up in nearby Oshawa. He relocated to New York in 2000, where he was on the grind until 2011. Josh now resides just outside of the city with his wife, Melissa, and their two photo assistants-in-training, Jalen (3) and Janessa (1).

http://joshdehonney.com
jd@joshdehonney.com

APE contributorĀ 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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.Ā She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.Ā  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Jason Langer Interview

- - Photographers, Workshops

Jonathan Blaustein: I noticed on your bio that you were born in Arizona, and raised in Oregon. But it looks like you lived on a kibbutz in Israel for four years. Is that right?

Jason Langer: Yes, but that’s not really pertinent to anything. That was in 1973, and I was seven.

JB: You were seven?

JL: Yeah.

JB: I didn’t do the math. So it’s not pertinent in that your seven to eleven year old self has little bearing on your current self?

JL: I would say.

JB: So it doesn’t matter at all.

JL: No. I discovered photography in 1982, and I came back from Israel in ’77. I discovered photography when I was in seventh grade. I was twelve.

JB: You were twelve years old, and when most people were trying to steal their Dad’s Playboys, you were working out how to use a camera?

JL: Well, I was doing that too.

JB: I’m not surprised, given the preponderance of nudity in your work, but we’ll get there. What was it like to start making art that young in life?

JL: I was hooked from the first minute I saw a print develop in the developer. It clicked, and I knew it was me. The chemicals felt familiar, and soon after, my mother bought me a darkroom kit from the old Spiegel catalogue. Do you remember that?

JB: No. It’s either before my time, or I never saw it.

JL: It was like an oversized JC Penney or Sears Catalogue. They had a 35mm enlarger and 8×10 trays. She bought it for me, and I cleared out my clothes and built it in my closet.

There was no running water, so I would bring buckets of water up and mix my chemicals in a completely unventilated room. When I was out of chemicals, I would ride my bike down to the local photo store. I was one of “those” kids.

JB: Did you have to earn your allowance to buy your toxic chemicals? Or did you set up a lemonade stand?

JL: I would imagine I had an allowance to begin with, and then I got my first job when I was fourteen or fifteen. I cleaned a vintage clothing store after they closed at night.

JB: What about the lack of ventilation? Are you less intelligent than you might have otherwise been?

JL: (laughing.) Maybe it unlocked the key of me always being crazy? I don’t know.

Langer_Bow, 1999

elevator_fr49.tif

53447_fr55.tif

Langer_Figure no. 186, 2009

Langer_Figure no. 253, 2011

Langer_Go-Go Girl, 1994

Langer_Moonrise Over Montmartre, 2002

JB: It’s a great chance to segue. In your work, you seem to walk right up to the edge of the dark side, without seeming to cross over. You photograph at night, and there’s an element of mystery and surrealism.

But you seem like a fairly sane and normal guy. I always find that dichotomy interesting. Are you crazier than you appear to be, or does your crazy funnel right into the pictures?

JL: Iā€™ve made a point of exploring my crazy, haunted side in photography. That’s a crucial issue that I’m trying to work out now in middle age, raising two small kids and trying to retain some of that artistic absorption. In life, you have to choose your path. You can’t do everything. You can’t be a great musician, painter, photographer, and a father, husband, architect – whatever you want to do.

You have to choose where you want to spend your time, because there’s only 24 hours in a day. Iā€™ve gotten good at switching gears.

I chose the path early on of fine art photography. I wanted to create photographs that had personal meaning for me, out of an urge that I had, rather than commercial photography. Thatā€™s probably why you might think Iā€™d be a crazy person – I put a lot of investment into self exploration.

At the time, though, there was nowhere for the work to go but under my bed. But I chose fine art photography to be the ruler of my life. Furthermore, I stuck in spiritual fulfillment, and meditation, but I also chose getting married and having a family.

And as you know, once you choose that, it’s a really huge commitment.

JB: Doesn’t get any bigger.

JL: A lot of what I do now is try to carve out every possible minute of the day to allow myself time to do my personal work. As we’re bombarded every day with more and more media, I find I have to make a concerted effort to fall away from the rest of the world, and its responsibilities where possible.

Does that answer your question?

JB: Yes and no. It’s like a mirror, in that I can certainly relate to your situation. But you dodged the question, a bit, as to whether you’re psychotic, in the inner levels of your mind.

But I can understand why you’d dodge it. It’s a slightly offensive question.

JL: No, no. It’s fine. I’d say that having chosen marriage and family has put me more on the side of ā€œnormalcy.ā€ Because I do want my kids to grow up in a stable house that is focused on education and fun, not on psychological exploration – not at this age. I try to come out of my cave at least once a dayā€¦ (laughing).

With that in mind, I have to find ways to go to the dark side on my own. For me, that’s been leaving the house, going to other cities and countries, and just being in a contemplative, exploratory space.

I try to balance both.

JB: What is it about the night that excites you?

JL: Early on, I realized that if you went out at night to photograph, everyone would be gone and your experience would be transformed into the other side of life. There’s a whole other part of reality that is in many ways parallel to our subconscious.

When things are covered up in darkness, it activates our imagination. Having an absence, our instinctual need is to put a presence there. I tend to put in a contemplation of the other: what is beyond our life in a conscious state. Sexuality, which is mostly suppressed, aloneness, death, centeredness – the parts of ourselves that we don’t let out on a daily basis.

Being on the streets, I don’t know what’s out there. I don’t know what’s going to happen, so I investigate.

It was also a function of the films I saw when VHS first came out. Films my mother would show me, like “The Third Man,” “Frankenstein,” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” With those films, there was always a singular male figure against the world, which is also a major theme of film noir.

JB: You became the lone man, wandering the dark city streets, alone? You chose to become the living embodiment of these metaphorical characters in these stories that activated your imagination?

JL: Yeah, I think chose is a good word. For instance, for many years I chose to teach, and then I chose to not teach. So the fact that I’m doing this workshop in Santa Fe is actually unusual.

There are many opportunities to be involved in other aspects of photography these days. You can run workshops, you can teach, be in photographic management, work in camera stores, be on juries, write about photography. There are all of these things to do, and I’ve been very conscious of not doing those things, and keeping my emphasis on photographing.

There are so few hours in a day that I put every spare ounce of energy into making pictures. Because life is just too short.

JB: When I first started studying photography in ’97, there were still teachers talking about the methodology you’ve adopted. Having five or six dealers around the world representing your work, each selling a certain amount a year. Getting books with reputable publishers. And that would sustain itself.

You’ve done that. You’re repped around the world, you’ve had two books put out by Nazraeli, and another coming out with Radius. You kind of seem like a throwback. How do you feel about that term?

JL: I would say that 2013 was very much a year of coming to terms with the new world. It was a chance to see whether my methodology still works for me, or whether it can be changed and still be just as fruitful.

I was always under the impression that not everyone is an artist. Those people that are really dedicated to it and have something to say, end up doing it. Of course in photography for decades there was a technical hurdle that people had to get over if they truly loved photography. Those people became artists. Now, I guess thereā€™s no hurdle, so everyoneā€™s an artist?

Also, I always felt that to become good at anything, youā€™d need to work on your craft for at least ten years – if you wanted to get good at what you were doing. I never wanted to get published too early, or show in galleries too early. I wanted to wait until my work was good, so I put it under the bed for years and years, until I was ready to show it to someone in the industry whom I respected.

Now, I can’t think of any young photographer who approaches it like that. Today, it’s pretty much “BANG” and it’s out there.

Last year, I asked myself if there are merits to that. Is there a new methodology to becoming an accomplished artist that is not the slow method? What I do is now considered “slow” photography.

To me, that’s absurd. It’s just photography. But in comparison to what is happening now, I guess it is kind of a throwback.

I am starting to experiment with taking digital pictures. And instead of gaining emotional distance from my work, and letting it steep over time, I’m making photographs, coming back to my studio, loading them up on the computer, and immediately editing.

I’m trying to see if that yields good results or not.

JB: You’ve used the phrase “under the bed” a few times already. I keep thinking, that’s where the monsters live. Under the bed. I can’t help but think there’s a connection there.

Do you feel like you use your creative practice to connect the nether regions of your psyche to the light?

JL: I’ve always been interested in the subconscious. The photographers I’ve always connected with early on were night-time and symbolist photographers. Artists that didn’t hand you the meanings; they remained ambiguous.

I love films that have ambiguous morality, because I like to be able to contemplate and think about something for an extended period of time.

So I would say yeah. The monsters, the demons, sexuality, suppressed feelings, darkness, the unknown. All of those things are compelling to me. I’m interested in those secret rendezvous late at night.

JB: We haven’t mentioned the word audience yet. I think it’s become more of a factor in what artists are thinking about when they put their work out in the world. We consider the relationship that develops between the object on the wall, and a group of strangers.

What do you want people to get from your pictures?

JL: This brings up an interesting question between the dichotomy of the old way and the new way. I feel that the audience is there to follow you. You are the person who is in charge of discovering things about life, making them into visual subject matter, and giving them to the world.

Your discovery of the world is paramount, and either people will like it, or they won’t. They will buy it, or they won’t. You will either capture the public’s imagination, or you won’t.

Your job is to be an artist. Now, there’s a new element, in which there is a feedback between you and the audience about what they think of your work. There’s more of an opportunity to talk to the people you’re showing the work to.

But I have to say, I’m not one of those people so far. We happen to be living in a time when public taste has gone away from what I do, and I have to just be OK with that- the pendulum swings.

With what I do, the viewer has to spend time with the photograph, inserting their own experience into it.

JB: Did you ever watch Beavis and Butthead, when it was first on TV, back in the day?

JL: Yes.

JB: Did you think it was funny?

JL: Not really.

JB: I had a feeling you were going to say that. But I am who I am, and sometimes I just can’t help myself. When you said the word “inserting,” I actually heard Beavis and Butthead giggling inside my head.

JL: When Beavis and Butthead were on, I was watching “The Third Man” and “Annie Hall” and “The Great Escape.” I was interested in those kinds of movies, so I was not watching MTV.

JB: I can understand that. And I can also understand why you didn’t think it was funny that I laughed at that word. It shows that we’re on parallel tracks right now.

But I have to say, I really appreciate what you do. And I’m glad that we live in a world in which so many perspectives are in the conversation.

You pose some interesting questions. How much can a person take on? Where should I be putting my time and energy? There are no easy answers.

JL: The greatest thing that I grapple with now is my love for photography in general, and how it is simultaneously exploding into all sorts of fantastic things, and being destroyed at the same time.

We’re so flooded with imagery that it doesn’t impact us the way that it did before.

JB: I hear you. I would love to talk a bit more about the way you teach, when you decide to do it. This interview is being sponsored by the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, and you’re doing a workshop there next month called “Shots in the Dark.”

You’ll be leading photographers out into the spooky evening, and the early light of morning. How do you approach something like that?

JL: My first instinct is to give the students everything that I have. I don’t just talk about what exposures you need to make night photographs. I share the whole philosophy I come with, which includes treating the students as artists. I encourage them to search within themselves for what I call “The Creative Spiral.”

Everyone has their own set of meanings, and a unique perspective about the world. The themes that they keep coming back to again and again – obsessions, perhaps.

What I try to do with my students is that every time they go around that circle, they get closer and closer to the center, so they can create iconic images for themselves that express what they really want to express.

We will go over all the technical things, and Photoshop. I teach students how to dodge and burn digitally, as they would in a darkroom. We’ll learn how to make beautiful, archival prints, and also talk about how to interact with people.

JB: If you go out shooting in groups, how are you able to convey the feelings of solitary joy that you experience in your own practice?

JL: One trick is specificity. I took a class out once to the Marin headlands, near San Francisco, and when we looked at the resulting pictures, everyone’s pictures were the same. They were all of the trees, the rocks, the paths, and the abandoned bunkers.

JB: I would think.

JL: It was a real disappointment. Once we looked at the work, and decided which aspects were the most successful, I had them go back and focus on just one thing. Then it got closer to what each person’s individual interest and message was.

Splitting up, and deciding which individual thing you want to focus on is a good way to put one foot in front of the other, and discover what you really want.

JB: You do quite a bit of work with the nude figure, so is that something you’re going to incorporate in the workshop? Will you be working with models?

JL: We are going to do that. There are apparently models that have worked with the Santa Fe Workshops for many years. We’re going to ask them if we can come into their homes, and photograph them going about their night: clothed, or semi-clothed, or naked.

We’re going to be flies on the wall, or voyeurs, and see what we can do. I like bringing that feeling forward we all know when we’re up working late, the rest of the world is asleep, and all is quiet.

JB: That sounds kind of crazy. I almost want to show up and peek through the window of the house at you guys watching the model make her evening tea in the buff.

JL: I did that in a workshop at the Newspace Center for Photography here in Portland. We photographed the model in the studio, and in their home, and we allowed each student to be the center of attention for a while. So the other students could learn from watching each other’s approach.

That way, everyone came out with unique material. I’m going to try to take it to a place where everyone can let their individual needs show.

JB: What a trip. And I’m sure you’ll be roaming the streets together, as that’s what your work is about. I noticed you’ve spent time in Paris, Berlin, New Orleans, and probably many other cities. A lot of the images have the vibe that you just stepped out of a dingy bar, where you ordered a pack of cigarettes and a bourbon?

Are you going to try to find spots like that in Santa Fe?

JL: We are going to work with some bars and establishments, and ask if it’s OK to come in as a small group of photographers. I’ll teach students how I do it in an unobtrusive, non-offensive way.

There’s so much to do in four days, I’m basically throwing out a lot of opportunities to do things, and I’m interested in seeing where the class wants to take it.

SFPW_APhotoEditor_Jan2014

Art Producers Speak: Greg Funnell

- - Art Producers Speak

We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.sease@verizon.net

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Greg Funnell, who I think has great skill in keeping things looking fresh and enticing, be it through his commercial or journalistic work.

This was shot as part of a travel commission I did for a UK airline ā€“ it involved shooting a story on local surf spots in Morocco.

This was shot as part of a travel commission I did for a UK airline ā€“ it involved shooting a story on local surf spots in Morocco.

Havana, Cuba. This was from a personal story I did in Cuba a few years ago on the 50th anniversary of the revolution.

Havana, Cuba. This was from a personal story I did in Cuba a few years ago on the 50th anniversary of the revolution.

This was an outtake from an assignment I had following round the US punk band Cerebral Ballzy as they terrorized central London with their skateboards.

This was an outtake from an assignment I had following round the US punk band Cerebral Ballzy as they terrorized central London with their skateboards.

Shot again for an airline magazine ā€“ this time in Turkey, it was a fantastic assignment with enough time to really get stuck in and create a great set of images for the client.

Shot again for an airline magazine ā€“ this time in Turkey, it was a fantastic assignment with enough time to really get stuck in and create a great set of images for the client.

This was an editorial assignment documenting a surfer who was taking part in a cold water surfing competition in Thurso, Scotland.

This was an editorial assignment documenting a surfer who was taking part in a cold water surfing competition in Thurso, Scotland.

This was shot for the Red Bulletin, the magazine published by Red Bull. I photographed the BMX rider Kris Kyle up in Glasgow. This was an instant where I shot something for myself (the Polaroid shots) alongside what the client wanted, and ended up loving it and running it themselves.

This was shot for the Red Bulletin, the magazine published by Red Bull. I photographed the BMX rider Kris Kyle up in Glasgow. This was an instant where I shot something for myself (the Polaroid shots) alongside what the client wanted, and ended up loving it and running it themselves.

This a portrait of the rapper Nas. One of those situations where youā€™ve got 2 minutes to get the shot and subject who doesnā€™t want to play ball. I shot it in available light back stage ā€“ amazingly it was good enough quality to run on the cover of the magazine.

This a portrait of the rapper Nas. One of those situations where youā€™ve got 2 minutes to get the shot and subject who doesnā€™t want to play ball. I shot it in available light back stage ā€“ amazingly it was good enough quality to run on the cover of the magazine.

From the project ā€œLas Vegas: The underbelly of the American Dreamā€ that I shot as a collaboration with the photographer Adam Patterson. This couple Ned and D, lived in the storm drains underneath the city itself.

From the project ā€œLas Vegas: The underbelly of the American Dreamā€ that I shot as a collaboration with the photographer Adam Patterson. This couple Ned and D, lived in the storm drains underneath the city itself.

This was photo accompanying a short film I shot and produced for an NGO in Malawi last year.

This was photo accompanying a short film I shot and produced for an NGO in Malawi last year.

Street scene, Rajasthan, India. This image is a one from my widelux project that Iā€™m hoping to publish in the near future.

Street scene, Rajasthan, India. This image is a one from my widelux project that Iā€™m hoping to publish in the near future.

How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been going now for about 8 years

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I’m self taught. At university I studied History and War Studies (Kings College London). But I think I knew from day one that when I finished I was going to try and make it in photography I just had no idea how. For a couple of years previous to going to university I’d been an avid user of my schools forgotten darkroom. My interest in drawing, painting and all things visual had led me naturally into photography when I was about 16. From the moment I saw my first image appear in the developer I think I was hooked.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
When I was in my teens I worked part-time in the local library. I came across Don McCullinā€™s work from Vietnam and it opened a whole new world to me. It matched two of my passions, history and photography, and I was blown away by how much the still image could effect and fascinate me. I started collecting photography books and devoured as much as I could. At this time my main influencers were photojournalists, people like Alex Webb, David Alan Harvey, Larry Towell etc. And even though my visual references have opened up I still think you can see the photojournalist influence in my work – the need to be close to the subject, to try and get the viewer really immersed in the subject. This has worked really well for my commercial work in the travel and lifestyle industries because I think it brings an intimacy and intensity to my images.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I’m a keen user of Instagram (@gregfunnell), I keep a blog (www.focus52.blogspot.com) and I use tumblr (www.gregfunnell.tumblr.com). These all help to encourage me to be continually shooting and generating content on a daily basis. But Iā€™m constantly planning or thinking about longer terms projects or ideas. I’ve just secured my first studio and I’m quite excited about testing again more regularly and also just having a space to invite people into. I never grow tired of shooting portraits.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
It’s always a delicate balance on jobs. I find the creatives I’ve worked with for the longest generally trust me to do my thing and get the job done ā€“ I think Iā€™m seen as a safe pair of hands and one that that client will easily be able to get along with. I feel sorry for the creatives when they get stuck in the middle with difficult clients. From my end I try and keep the client as sweet and (if it’s possible) shoot both what they want and my spin on it so that they have the choice. It’s always about trying to find the middle ground but without compromising too much.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I tend to shoot editorial commissions mostly – there are a few magazines that I just love working for as they really allow me a lot of creative freedom. I’m also aiming to do more self-publishing this year – I’m just waiting to find the right designer to collaborate with.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
You have to shoot for yourself – don’t try and be what others want you to be. There’s obviously something to be said for being savvy about what’s popular, but ultimately you need to be producing work that you believe in and that shows your vision.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I try put aside time each year to go off and shoot my own thing. I think you have to be making time to you shoot solely for yourself, you have to believe in the work first in order for others to also believe in it. Iā€™m currently shooting some personal work with a camera called a Widelux, which is swing lens film camera, Iā€™m doing it purely for my own creative need but I hope to continue shooting this as long term project, and itā€™s slowly starting to generate interest which is nice.

All that being said I did work on a collaboration with another photographer a couple of years ago on a story in Las Vegas on the subject of the American Dream. That was really exciting, and it helped that he was a good mate of mine. We have a similar vision but we each bought something to the table. Some people didnā€™t get it ā€“ and kept asking ā€˜who took this pictureā€™ ā€“ they couldnā€™t understand when we responded that we werenā€™t sure or couldnā€™t remember. Our vision was in such unison that the work held together really well ā€“ and I think thatā€™s rare. Iā€™d love to give that another go and shoot another series somewhere in the US.

How often are you shooting new work?
Iā€™m generally shooting a couple of times a week, mainly on assignments. My aim this year though is to force myself to step away from my desk more often and be shooting more side projects.

Greg studied History and War Studies at Kings College London before moving into photography. He’s since spent the last 8 years working for titles that include The Sunday Times Magazine, The Guardian, Financial Times Magazine and the Washington Post. Shooting everything from commissioned celebrity portraits, to travel assignments and in-depth documentary features. He also works with NGOs on development projects in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America for the likes of Save the Children, ActionAid and WWF. Alongside this he also works in the commercial and advertising sector producing content for clients on international campaigns, especially in the travel, lifestyle and adventure industries.

Although primarily known for his photography he also increasingly gets asked to work with moving imagery, having directed and produced work for NGOs, corporate and commercial clients.

When heā€™s not producing content he guest lectures at Universities across the UK.

You can find him on twitter and instagram @gregfunnell

APE contributorĀ 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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.Ā She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.Ā  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Why Do Photographers Charge So Much?

- - Working

I’m reposting this from our sister blog Photography and Architecture, because I thinkĀ Joshua DoolĀ has such smart answers to the question Why do architectural photographers charge so much?

Joshua Dool, Blue Planet

Blue Planet Aquarium, Copenhagen. Designed by Danish architects 3XN. All images Ā©Ā Joshua Dool

Joshua DoolĀ is an award-winning architectural and industrial photographer based in Vancouver, Canada. Joshua was interestedĀ in both architecture and photography from a young age but photography won out. We wanted to hear about the skills required to properly photograph a building, the costs to the architect, and how a photographer can be creative in meeting budgets ā€“ he was kindly most forthcoming.

Q: What justifies the cost of strong architectural imagery?
JD: Photography isnā€™t much different than anything else. Fast and cheap doesnā€™t equal good. With architecture photography, it takes time to get the perfect angle and the perfect lighting, so the fast category doesnā€™t really even apply to it. So then, we are left with either cheap or good, and you probably arenā€™t going to get both.

My experience has been: the cheaper the photographer, the poorer the image looks, and in a society that is becoming increasingly visually literate, thanks to social media and the internet, fantastic photos are a must! Strong images strengthen a brand, weak images diminish a brand. This is true for all advertising, and it is especially true for architecture. Great projects deserve great photos to represent them, because at the end of the day, for the vast majority of an architectā€™s future clients, this will be the only way they ever get to interact with that design!

This doesnā€™t mean the more expensive the better, but it does mean that good imagery comes at a justified price.Ā Half-rate images can make a fantastic project look crappy, and fantastic images can make an average project really stick out. The strength of the imagery is going to define whether the local paper or national magazine features it; it will affect how professional your website looks; itā€™s going to be the face of that project for awards consideration, and itā€™s going to determine whether the project images get onto social media which can generate A LOT of buzz and flow to your website.

Q: Why do architecture photographers charge so much, and what is associated with the cost?
JD: Several things are associated with producing professional images. In order to produce great architecture photos, you need a decent amount of gear, and a lot of knowledge specific to the field of architecture photography.

It takes time to scout locations, find angles, and map the sun through the course of the day in order to show up and capture great images on the day of production. Most shoots require one day of scouting, and one or two days of actual capture, but then the images are not ready out of the camera either, and can often take another one to three hours per photo in postproduction. So, there is a considerable time investment in photographing architecture properly.

Professional camera equipment and lighting is not cheap either. I arrive on a shoot with usually $20k+ worth of my own gear. I have pro-camera systems, tilt shift lenses, a few strobe kits, large reflectors, multiple tripods, and then a swath of gear at home for editing the photos in post production. Itā€™s an incredibly expensive form of photography. And then, in order for me to hone my craft and get proficient at using all the cameras, lighting, and reflector systems I use, Iā€™ve put my time in assisting other photographers, doing lighting on movie sets, and in photo school. Architecture photography is a very specialized form of photography, and isnā€™t something that just anyone can do, especially if you want quality results.

Q: Do you find that a lot of clients are suprised at the cost of photography?
JD: Price is often a big factor, especially for smaller/newer firms. I am cognizant of this, and I am always happy to try to meet a price point where I can in order to build a relationship with a new firm.

Iā€™ve had a specific scenario happen a few times this last year, where a firm has contacted me requesting a quote for me to photograph several of their projects. After collecting bids from a few different photographers, they called me back to see if I could budge my rate, basically saying that they wanted me as their photographer, but at the other guyā€™s price. So, I did my best to make something work, but they ended up going for the cheapest quote theyā€™d received. In both of these instances, they didnā€™t end up posting any of the photographs from the other photographer on their website because they were unhappy with the results.

Itā€™s a common practice for newer, less experienced photographers to try to compete on price point instead of on quality of imagery. The truth is, in order to work at some of these cut-throat prices, these photographers have to be either jet-set trust fund kids who are doing it as a passion and not for the money, or they are photographers who donā€™t have the same level of expertise and quality of equipment, and who probably wonā€™t be around in another year to photograph your next project. That is, if you would even want them to!

Iā€™m a big fan of architecture so it saddens me to see great projects end up being captured poorly.

Q: Is there a way that architects can keep the costs down or operate within a budget?
JD: YES! There are a few ways:
They can let the photographer know the budget they are working with, and see if the photographer has any suggestions. Personally, the best way to lower the price for me is to book me for two or more projects, as I offer discounts to firms when they package together a few commissions.

Or perhaps the photographer has a month with nothing booked they could move the shoot to, and offer a reduced rate. Here in Vancouver, it rains from November to March, so I would be more inclined to offer a discount on an interior shoot if it took place in the months Iā€™m not busy shooting exteriors in the sunshine!

Another way is to perhaps shave a couple images off the wishlist, and make it a one day shoot instead of a two or three day shoot. Would you rather have image 12 images that look great, or have all 18 and run the risk of the discount photographer messing it up?

Q: What gets you excited about architecture photography?
JD: I am especially intrigued by the human interaction with architecture. Architecture is after all designed for people. So I try to include a human element in my photographs. Early on, I noticed that most renderings the architects had included people, because this is how they sell the functionality of the design, but most photographs I was seeing were empty spaces devoid of human life. Being around great architecture is exciting, and seeing how structure are utilized, how they shape peoples daily experiences, and how they serve there intended purpose is one area Iā€™m especially fascinated with in my photography.

Joshua DoolĀ Location:Ā Ā Specialties:Ā ;Ā ;.

Joshua Dool, Blue Planet
Blue Planet Aquarium.

Joshua Dool, Peace Bridge

Peace Bridge, Calgary. Santiago Calatrava.

Joshua Dool, 8 House

8 House, Copenhagen. Ā Bjarke Ingels.

Joshua Dool, UBC Pharmaceutical

UBC Pharmaceutical, Vancouver.Ā Saucier + Perrote.

Joshua Dool, Bella Sky Hotel

Bella Sky Hotel, Copenhagen. 3XN.

Joshua Dool, Private apartment

Private apartment.

Read about the cost of hiring an architectural photographer.

Read about how to hire an architectural photographer,Ā from a repā€™s perspective.

Read about how to hire an architectural photographer, from an architectā€™s perspective.

This Week In Photography Books: Lori Nix

by Jonathan Blaustein

Have I ever told you that I live in a horse pasture at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains? Of course I have. Like, a million times. I say it constantly.

Is it a nefarious part of my personal branding? (That Blaustein. Always makes it about him.) I suppose it’s possible, if you believe me that much of a cynic. But I think it’s something else.

Writing for the global Internet is a strange job. Technically, you know you’re reaching a lot of people. But that reality is abstract, like a cloud that looks like the European Continent. Knowing readers are out there is nice, but it has no bearing on my daily life.

It’s very remote here, which is why I bring it up so often. Most of you are living in the urban world, where things run smoothly, and you can get decent takeout almost anywhere. Never before, in the history of time, could we have this sort of asymmetrical dialogue. Without the Internet, I wouldn’t be able to live the way I do. (Which includes having to fire up the wood stove on this, the first un-official day of winter. Snow outside already?)

That I can remain connected and removed enables me to have the perspective that I do. Sometimes, things work out perfectly. Take this morning, for instance. I just swiped through Twitter, and saw a few people saying that the Lori Nix exhibition at ClampArt was a must see. Cool, I thought. Good for her. But what the f-ck does that have to do with me?

Good question. Because not three minutes later, I reached into my book stack, and “Voila!” There it was. A new monograph, “The City,” by Lori Nix, just published by Decode Books in Seattle. (I love that the credits mention the color correction was done domestically, before the printing transpired in China. Lest we be confusedā€¦)

I’ll say it straight off. Totally fantastic book. Amazing work, beautifully printed, and I even like the way they constructed the narrative. (A few photos, for the uninitiated, then an essay to explain and contextualize the project, and then all the gorgeous plates, with a few detail shots thrown in to make sure you realize the labor involved.)

Are we done now? Of course not. I forgot to tell you what Ms. Nix’s work is all about. I think my cold bones are clouding my intelligence. Is it possible to lose IQ points when it’s cold outside?

The photographs in “The City,” and presumably on the wall in NYC, are supremely intricate dioramas of interior scenes in a post-apocalyptic world. (Thank god for spell-check. I butcher post-apocalyptic every time I type it.)

Whether it’s the zombie fetishists, the nuclear war junkies, the climate change fantasists, or the Jesus freaks, there are lots of people out there convinced we’re going to end ourselves shortly.

We certainly possess the means to do it. Personally, I think our survival instinct is such that it would be very difficult to eradicate humans off the face of the earth. Terry Gilliam’s underground fantasy from “12 Monkeys” is far more likely, if the shit hits the fan.

The photographs owe a debt to James Casebere, whose brilliant work I saw in Washington DC a few weeks ago. (A description of which will have to wait for a subsequent article.) The craftsmanship of the scenes is mind-boggling, as is the photographic construction. Great color, great light.

The sad beauty is melodic, in that you enjoy it, while still understanding that it’s prophesying your own doom. (Or that of your grandkids. Hard to say.) The dead mall photo, which was like a Play-Do version of Brian Ulrich’s “reality” picture, was superb. As was the control room image, which I preferred to Thomas Demand’s Teutonic version. That there is a conversation with contemporary art Easter egg-ed inside is just a bonus treat.

I hate to give away surprises, but there is a photo of a Natural History Museum late in the book, (Sugimoto reference) and the roof has been blown off. I had to look several times, but up in the sky, one can clearly make out a Pterodactyl. (Or is is a Pteranodon. Given that I have a six-year-old, I ought to know the difference by now.) So what does that mean? Do the Dinosaurs come back? You’ll have to ask Ms. Nix.

OK. Now we’re done. Fantastic book. You should buy it if, like me, you’re far away from NYC, and can’t see the prints for yourself.

Bottom Line: Brilliantly constructed scenes of what it looks like when we’re all gone.

To Purchase “The City” Visit Photo-Eye

Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.

Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.

Working In China

- - Working

Guest post by Shannon Fagan

My post a couple of years ago about jobs in China on A Photo Editor occasionally generates some interested persons to reach out and take the time to email me about working in Beijing, Shanghai, or perhaps Shenzhen. There have been no takers that I am aware of for the jobs though, and the reasons are interesting, curious, worthy of review. I’m now at the two and a half years point in my relocation from New York City to Beijing; well beyond the rose-colored glasses, but not blinded by the smog either. This is an update to that storyline, which I thought would be interesting to APEā€™s readership, all of who undoubtedly hear a lot about the wonders of the Chinese economy. So bizarre and numerous are the stories in the news, that now The New York Times, Getty Images, and iStockphoto are all blocked in China along with just about every serious social media outlet produced in the United States, including Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Shaun Rein, an agile entrepreneurial consultant to industries interested in relocations to China, and I occasionally trade communication about the amazing adjustments necessary here and which make working in China as a small foreign business very difficult. Add on top of these situations, that I have initiated a creative-based business, and itā€™s been a ripe learning experience. In under the first two years, I bailed a job applicant out of a silence-only windowless detention center, was blackmailed by a college student intern, was locked inside of a store and manhandled to purchase knockoff wardrobe, been visited by local officials bearing cameras and voice recorders, been encouraged to pay countless kickbacks (particularly for models), had company salaries removed from the office (while I was on vacation), and then blocked from the market of Mainland China by a competitor. Itā€™s thus a little tongue and cheek to say that I have learned more about operational fundamentals in Beijing via episodes of AMCā€™s Breaking Bad, than stories in Businessweek. That is not to say that McKinsey and Company level expertise is not warranted in this market, but rather that such operational mechanisms are handled, as Shaun Rein has reminded me, at the Fortune 500 level, and not the small entrepreneurial startup arena of 50 workers or less, locally referred to as SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises).

China is amazingly interesting now; yes, despite the hurdles. We just saw the initiation of a new government and officially mandated Five Year Plan adjustment. The country is blossoming in subtlety as I learn the local language and become increasingly aware of the social context framework. I have, and I really do believe this, the hardest working production team that I have ever had anywhere, here now operational in Beijing. We’re having fun (itā€™s important to remember that) and we’re making images in droves that were never available before to the Chinese economy (our modus operandi). All are model and property released with technical specifications for global advertising, from a market overflowing in IPR theft and with little historical involvement in international advertising. Itā€™s an entrepreneurial venture that has awakened in me all the challenges that I was seeking and for which New York City no longer provided during The Great Recession of 2008 forward.

This write-up is an insider’s take on the notorious economy in China for foreign commercial art creatives interested in participating. It is important to know that the manner of the mechanics of the economy here in China are different than in the US, where equal opportunity meets equal amounts of work. China is very much divided in the scope of work available and where the jobs are going. In the years since the post on APE, I have come to know, and probably more so accept, that the economy in China is and will be for a very long time barred from foreign participation unless the individual is embedded near permanently locally. This makes what may seem like ā€œdoing business in Chinaā€ very difficult for one-off trips of assignment work. That does not mean that there is no opportunity to pursue, but those opportunities would be best spent (for a foreignerā€™s time and money), in contacting the normal routes of introduction to clientsā€¦i.e., ad agencies in Asia, or, better yet, advertising/design agencies in the West with the interests in sending a photographer abroad to do the work.

That’s the short take.

The longer take, important to us all since this is looking to be among the preeminent future economies in the world, is that the reasons for this lay within the manner in which the Chinese economy is situating itself. The meat and potatoes are essentially this: there are two types of jobs in China.

In Group 1, are the Chinese client jobs aimed to local talent; primarily focused on price (about 1/3rd the foreign norm), and not particularly focused on creative achievement but rather “technical achievement” (can the chosen worker do the work performed?). A lot of the latter deals with lacks of trust running between Chinese society and their government, the manners of establishing credibility in the market, the educational system setup, and the like. The work is provided through networks of communication (oneā€™s work relationships), and it takes time to get those and even longer to maintain them. One would have to be in China to navigate this, and I do not see this system changing in the near future. If one had an interest in pursuing Chinese clientele, the scope of obtaining the jobs is much more labor intensive than a drop of a portfolio and massage of a budget. One would have to be in the trust network, and provide a lot of pre-emptive service to estimate, re-estimate, shoot tests, and the like, in order to establish an assignment. This would be an assignment, which in the end, would not generally remunerate for the time to do this setup work. Thus, the market is going to remain segmented. To do this from abroad is logistically not possible. As Shaun mentions, ā€œit can be challenging for foreign creatives to work with Chinese clients, as historically Chinese firms are not willing to pay top dollar for creative services and consulting while they are for something tangible like hardware.ā€

In Group 2, there is foreign client work using both local and foreign talent and the work is budgeted according to both international price and local price. It varies widely and depends on the job. These jobs are often being situated in editorial focus, such as events and news stories, corporate portraits, and similar kinds of work. Actual advertising work is channeling for Westerners by the Westerner being connected primarily to the Western client before China becomes the focus. Thus, the manner of getting the work is similar to the way that photographers are marketing now. This is the system in which one has a potential client knowledgeable about their commercial artwork, and the client happens to have an assignment in China, or India, or Chile, or Fargo, North Dakota. This manner protects the photographer for licensing and payment, the bigger concern being simply getting paid. The local established method of money trading hands in China is almost always one half of the money up front, and the other half upon delivery. This delivery part can leave the living-abroad individual hanging if there are not protective mechanisms in the middle. One has very little power in Chinese legal systems (both Chinese and foreigners alike).

After two years, numerous jobs have come across my desk, but in nearly every case they have fallen into one of the two groups above. Time and again, interestingly, I have listened to foreign photographers living in China resolutely state that all their work is generated from foreign-only clients, and I found this odd. Odd because, often their experience, their years on the ground, their language abilities, even their Chinese friends, would all seem to suggest that other options were available to these candidates. But, I did not come across situations where this factually, more than hearsay, appeared to be the case in marketing and actual work performed. It could be that this market in China is generally quite underdeveloped in maturity compared to the Western focus of photography/creative economies seen in other major cities where there is mentorship, “rules” of engagement, and situations inducing competition to innovate. Certainly this is the case to a large degree, as standardization is wide here, but still difficult to measure since there is no over encompassing organization and each individual is mostly left to his/her own manners of development.

China is a very interesting place and economy. In many ways, I wish that there were more easily-situated work available to back up the post online a couple years back, but what I came to learn was that those offers were in Group 1 above, and generally not realistically obtained for those working outside of China. It may be the case that as my understanding of Chinese work and life continues, I will see yet another subtlety to the situation and go back on my analysis here as to why these market offers of work are not being met with foreigners showing up and actually doing that work. Clearly there is money flowing in China and there is work to be had, but it’s the mechanisms and logistics that are barring foreign operators from participation. China has everything that the West has, but it has its own local version: YouKu is China’s YouTube, Weibo is our Facebook, and all of these established Western websites are blocked. This should give a taste for the complications and when one multiplies them by the idiosyncrasies of daily life, it makes what seems as easy as a plane ticket and visa, quite relatively removed.

The bottom line is this: One, do not expect it to be easy to work in China. Two, do not expect on-the-ground support to the degree of comfort and planning that the West offers. Three, plan to exercise a great deal of patience upon each setback. Four, plan on needing to be present for supervision and quality control throughout the process. Five, the cultural barrier is greater than the language barrier. Six, jobs pay less. Seven, everything is transient, have multiple backup plans. Eight, China isnā€™t inexpensive for foreign businesses anymore. Nine, the Kung Po Chicken tastes better. Ten, the Chinese experience is exhilarating.

This is an image of the sun on a typical bad air quality day in the summer in Beijing. Ironically, for as unpleasing as it is to be outside in such conditions, it can be favorable for the overcast lighting effect and warm color hues that it creates for productions.

This is my smog and UV shield combination that I sometimes use when bicycling around Beijing.

Location scouting in China requires a lot of on the ground hussle and relationship building. Given the hurdles for cultural and language differences, weā€™ve seen great results by presenting our portfolio and team in person at target locations that we wish to shoot at. We do this in combination with our work in the community to develop mutually beneficial business relationships.

Outdoor locations in Beijing are relatively easy to shoot in since they generally do not require a permit. However, it takes a dance of logistics and conversation should local security arrive. It requires experience to understand who is real security and who is simply instigating trouble for a kickback payment. There are times when we politely engage, and other times when we know that we should wrap set and move on.

My newest favorite piece of equipment is my ultra tall Gitzo tripod. Obtaining international brand photo gear in China can be difficult since the choices are limited. I often transport new items to China after trips back to the United States. Repairs are equally complicated since international shipping is usually required.

Weā€™re often involved in the local community with hands-on demos and recruiting from the local schools, whether that be from photo education, design schools, or business programs. Our best local job candidates come from a variety of backgrounds. There really is no one rule in hiring for production and photography work here. We have developed an in-house method to train our assistants since there is very little mentorship for this profession in China.

This is a behind-the-scenes image from our cover shoot for Time Out Beijingā€™s ā€œOld Beijingā€ issue in February 2012. It later was voted as the best cover in Time Out Beijingā€™s 100 issue history.

Though this may look like the moon, it is actually an unmanipulated image of the winter sun in Beijing on a bad air quality day at noon. Beijingā€™s air quality levels have come under severe scrutiny in the past year after a particularly bad winter season for air pollution. It is not uncommon for a string of days in the winter months to be recorded at levels above the US Embassyā€™s top instrument reading of 500 AQI. There was a particular day in January 2013 that was recorded at 755 AQI. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48VAFtUlPLc#t=27

The Beijing winter can be terribly cold and exceedingly smoggy. The particulate in the air often renders one exhausted by late afternoon. In an effort to cut down on exposure, I found that wearing regular ski googles can be an effective shield to my eyes from the air pollution and dust.