The Daily Promo – Kelly Allison

- - The Daily Promo

Kelly Allison

Who printed it?
Graphic Arts Studio,, a suburban print shop on the west side of Chicago. They’ve been printing my promos for years and I’m always so happy with their color.

Who designed it?
The piece was both art directed and designed by my friends at Letterform, a Chicago graphic design firm, They’re also the ones who created my entire business system, so it helps to have them a part of the conversation from the ground up. Since Letterform starts with a deep understanding of the end goal, we can align to make sure our content both relates to and expounds upon my studio’s brand voice.

Tell me about the images?
The inspiration behind Just Dig In stems from my experience of societal notions around food consumption as being duplicitous at best. Within our highly digital culture there’s an increased propensity to spend time ingesting images of rich, delicious, and seemingly ‘naughty’ food. Meanwhile we’re barraged with messages (often subversive or subliminal) that tout the importance of unrealistic body expectations, and food becomes evil. Food should bring enjoyment, energy, and nourishment for the soul and the body. Yet for many people in the US, especially women and girls, every interaction with food comes with a whole host of physical, emotional, and stress responses. The advertising world has a great amount of influence on how we relate to food as a culture. I see it as our communal responsibility to reclaim the beauty and power of food on all levels, and to promote messages of positivity around food and food enjoyment.

Our aim in developing this collection was to challenge the idea that food in any form is bad, as long as it adds goodness to the human experience. We wanted to create a collection of images that responsibly gives permission to the viewer to enjoy the experience of their taste buds, while sharing a message that ‘guilty’ pleasure doesn’t need to be so.

How many did you make?
There were 1,000 booklets produced in total, 500 of which were sent (like yours) with a box of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. For the past few years I’ve been inspired to send Girl Scout cookies with my promos for a couple of reasons: With so many amazing promotional pieces hitting the desks of creatives each day, it’s often hard to stand out. By aligning with a strong brand that’s deeply rooted in nostalgia, I’m pinning my name to an immediately recognizable entity (and one which happens to be one of those ‘guilty’ pleasure) in the hopes of creating a longer lasting impression. More importantly, the iconic nature of the annual cookie release gives me a great opportunity to support local troops in my neighborhood, and give back to an organization that is actively changing the way that girls see themselves and their potential. I believe strongly in the positioning of the Girl Scouts organization and their messages of solidarity, community, global citizenship, and sisterhood.

We have another 500 pieces (sans cookies) that were scheduled to ship at the end of March, but instead we are patiently awaiting a safer time to send them.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I send one promo each year, usually in the spring or fall.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Absolutely. There is something powerful about the tactile experience of a well-designed and beautifully executed printed piece, especially when thoughtfully produced and well-strategized. With a mutual desire to both showcase my work and also limit our environmental footprint, we always try to create pieces that serve a useful purpose. I want each promo to live longer than a quick peruse, and toss into a pile (if you’re lucky) or the recycling bin. Timing also matters when planning to send a physical promo – if it’s a time of increased mail, like around the winter holidays, there may be more pieces that never reach their intended recipient, or get buried and overlooked. Despite the possible obstacles of sending promotional pieces, I’m confident that the benefit far outweighs the negative. There’s no way to accurately account for the impact of an individual promo, but we have definitely heard many stories (even years later) of clients who hire us because our promo ended up in their hands.

This Week in Photography: Surveillance is Everywhere


Each week, I write about what’s happening in my life.

And in the wider world around me.

It’s the way of the columnist, and as you know, I’ve been doing it a while. (Is my constant humblebrag about the length of my APE tenure a running joke yet?)

But at times like these, it’s much less fun to write about what transpires outside my moat and gates.

(In case you’re wondering, my moat is stocked with mini-alligators. And they have huge appetites! Stay back, motherfuckers!)

I’m making myself laugh right now, sitting cross-legged on the floor of my bedroom, with the fan on for white noise.

Like many work-from-homers, I used to have the run of the place, five days a week, while my wife was at work and the kids at school, but no longer.

We’ve all been together for a month now, and I must say, we’re holding up pretty well, mentally. (Though we do have a lot of space, this being rural New Mexico.)

So I’m sitting here, alone, unobserved. The shades are drawn, and I have total privacy.


But what about the webcam on my computer, which I have not taped over?

Is it possible someone’s hijacked it, and they’re watching me? (If so, should I put on proper pants?)

Now I’m staring directly into the camera, (and not at the words typed on the screen,) but with autocorrect, I think I’m doing OK.

Could someone be watching me through my own computer?

A hacker?

Am I OK with it, knowing this COULD be happening, even though I know it’s unlikely?


I don’t know if I’m OK with it, but I would say I accept the machines are watching us, and the algorithms are processing what the machines are watching.

In China, the level of surveillance they’ve created meant the government could threaten to kill you if you inappropriately interrupted medical workings during their quarantine.

In America, we can barely seem to organize a block party at the national level right now, so I don’t think our algorithms are tracking Uncle Wilbur when he takes the family truck out for a joyride in Northwest Nebraska on a fine Spring Sunday afternoon.

And… Scene:

Aunt Martha: Wilbur, what in the hell do you think you’re doing? You know you’re supposed to be staying at home like the rest of us.

Uncle Wilbur: Martha, you stay out of it, you hear.

AM: What do you mean stay out of it? I live with you, you hardheaded boar! How am I supposed to stay out it? Your germs are my germs.

UW: Well, I’m not going to get any germs. I’m just going out for a ride is all. I need to clear my head. What’s it to you, anyway?

AM: You mean you’re not gonna stop anywhere? No talking to people? No getting in anyone’s space? You are 73 years old, and I see this as an unnecessary risk is all.

UW: Well, thank you for speaking your peace, Mother. I’m going to ride for ten miles, no more, and I won’t even roll down the window more than three inches.

You have my word.

And… Scene.

So that’s how Uncle Wilbur ended up out on the highway. Where it was quiet.

And he was unobserved.

As to the rest of us, surveillance is real. Online and in the physical world.

(Someone is always watching.)

I’m thinking on the subject because I’ve just finished looking at Sheri Lynn Behr’s excellent “Be Seeing You,” a self-published book that turned up in the mail in Spring 2019, just after I took a break from writing about photo books.

Thankfully, the art gods have been kind to us again, as I think this is the perfect time to see this book, in current context.

It’s very well thought-out, in terms of pacing, how much information it gives, and when it gives it.

As I’m always recommending you think about such things, when you make your book, I wanted to highlight the strength here.

From the title, cover, and first four images or so, you know what this book is about, (surveillance) and that there will likely be a mix of photographic styles within.

There are text interruptions, with some black graphic accents against stark white, and the first says “The more we see, the less we pay attention.”

Meaning, the more information that floods our brain, the less any one detail is ever likely to pop out. (Small needle, big haystack.)

The next image is from the outside staircase at the Broad building at LACMA, in LA. (It was once new, but now I’m not even sure if it’s still a part of the newest masterplan there? Does anyone know?)

Of course I’ve been there, and never saw the cameras watching me, as I’ve been to certain places from the book like NYC, of course, or Padding Station in London.

I’ve also watched “Luther,” and “The Simpsons,” and both are featured, as one subset of photographs seems to be the representation of surveillance culture on TV screens.

Those pictures are melded with documentary images of cameras out in the culture, and then pictures of real people in the real world as well.

There’s a menace in this book that shows Sheri takes this subject personally, where I guess I’ve been rather lazy about caring before.

Now that there are real news stories about tracking people by their antibodies, of course the world has grown much closer to seeing things Sheri’s way.

I’m using her first name casually, as she and I have met at festivals many times over the years. I’ve published her stuff here before, but also been critical of it at the review table, as she well knows.

I love that this book closes with a description of the various projects, just so people know what they saw. And then an Edward Snowden tweet, and a selfie in a mirror-dome.

This one’s really strong.

But I’m creeped out now, and maybe it’s time to tape over the webcam?

Bottom Line: Killer, self-published gem about 21C surveillance

To purchase “Be Seeing You” click here 

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

The Art of the Personal Project: Robin O’Neill

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


Today’s featured artist:  Robin O’Neill

I am compelled to create images of people who are making the world a better place. During the global state of emergency and the mandate for self-isolation and distancing, I couldn’t help but turn my heart to the people still working to provide our essential services.

Trying to balance my own responsibility for social distance with my desire to give faces to the people still risking infection to care for the rest of us, I began to bring my camera along on my necessary outings. From a safe distance I took portraits of front-line workers at the grocery store, and at our community mail and waste depots. I have since extended the project to include other professionals who aren’t in my direct path, including medical workers and hospital janitorial staff. I plan to continue capturing these portraits of the unsung heroes of this unprecedented time.

Thank you to Arc’teryx for offering jackets as appreciation to some of the people I have captured and for sharing my images in their global campaign.

To see more of this project, click here.

Robin O’Neill is an outdoor lifestyle and action photographer based in Whistler, British Columbia. Her editorial and social documentary backgrounds have helped Robin develop a unique view into the wild landscapes and wilder personalities that surround her. By translating her passion for outdoor adventures into exciting visual stories and dramatic imagery, she has found success in working with many reputable outdoor brands, as well as winning the Whistler Deep Winter and Deep Summer Photo Showdowns, People’s Choice at WSSF 2019, and a finalist at Red Bull Illume 2019. Robin’s insatiable curiosity and addiction to mountain life have perfectly combined to ensure ongoing grand adventures and a growing portfolio of outstanding images captured in the wild outdoors.

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

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


How a personal project led to the book cover of Chelsea Handler’s New York Times Best Sellers List by James Quantz

How I used a personal project to learn a new skill, gain confidence directing behind the camera, and even open a few doors for new work.

So often working in this business you can be more of a tool for someone else’s creative vision than of you own. In order to maintain my creative drive I try my best to jump out of that box with side or what you might call personal projects. For myself, I wouldn’t say the motivation would be to gain more work from these projects but more so to just connect with something inspiring.  If I can learn something new, have fun doing it, and possibly add a new tool in my creative toolbox then I would consider a project successful.

About thirteen years ago I used that out of the box motivation to try and learn something new while creating unique images by photographing animals and compositing them into preconceived scenes within Photoshop. Within a couple years of practice I was able to convert that newly developed skill and confidence into creating unique scenes with people instead of animals. My video discusses the biggest example of all those hours paying off with the cover of Chelsea Handler’s book “Uganda Be Kidding Me”

James created a video about the whole process: click here  Video

James Quantz, Jr work can be seen here


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

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


The Daily Edit – Virtual Portraits: Jonas Jungblut

- - Working


virtual portraits photographed by Jonas Jungblut


Jonas Jungblut

Heidi: Is this satisfying your creative spirit?
Jonas: Overall I have to say I’ve had an incredible boost in creative thinking and sense of opportunity through this thing. I always preach that if you want to move forward you want to go down the rapids, less comfort but faster progress. This really feels like that. Just this morning, by 10 am, I had done a portrait session in Capetown, Lugano, Switzerland, Antigua and Los Angeles, pretty exhilarating.

Describe the project.
This project is all about everyday people during this crisis. There are no stylists, make up artists or prop stylists. The subjects are in full control of what I get to photograph and I just document. They aren’t models and mostly don’t know how to move for the camera so I have to pose them pretty diligently to get specific images.

What are the common themes in responses?
All of the subjects tell me about concerns with the situation or how the government is enforcing shut downs, we have a genuine conversation, exchange information, ideas and concerns. And then we laugh when we try get a certain shot and things are lost in communication or something. This project really has taken me away from worrying too much and I think most subjects enjoy the distraction and doing something creative. It’s good for the soul.

Do you direct the subjects?
The whole process is totally foreign and freeing at the same time. No technical control (exposure, lens, etc…) which, once you let go of it, makes the session become fully about communication. I have to move the camera with words not my hands. Years of building intuition and motor skills to get where you want to be are useless and you have to explain to someone who, often times, has no idea about composition how to position the camera. It’s not easy but at the same time entertaining. There are a lot of laughs. It is a little like directing but every shoot you have a different camera operator so you never get groovy with each other on that part.

What was your main takeaway?
My main takeaway would be that it is really nice connecting with people during this time and doing a fun project together even though you are, sometimes, on the other end of the globe. Sessions take anywhere from 10 minutes to a half hour, depending on how much chatting happens. Also, sometimes it takes a while to find the right background/light/composition.

Is the lo-fi quality freeing?
The quality of the final images is brutal but it is also kind of charming, like really early digital files or badly digitized film images. These will never be printed large but creating compilations or possibly doing collage type prints will help with that. But if you are strictly going for a phone screen, or any normal size screen for that matter, it is also kind of scary to realize that this is a valid option. With the right light, internet connection and some experience you can get pretty clear images that just have a vintage, romantic, artsy type look to them. I took one this morning of a teenager in Lugano, Switzerland and when I looked at the final image I was really surprised.

Tell us how this scaled for you.
Obviously these are not medium format super beauty portraits but being able to do shoots across the globe in a single day is nuts, probably a sign of things to come. Not sure if I like it but it is what it is. If they somehow figure out how to get a 20 megapixel file out of this and maybe add selective exposure and focus I would definitely keep doing this. Actually I already have one of my magazine clients voice interest in potentially doing these in the future. And again, I love to get on the road and experience new places, not to mention the energy that exists between subject and photographer when faced in real life. But the environmental as well as economic impact of flying around the world to take a portrait (or product, etc…) will surely be challenged after this crisis. Things will change. They always do anyways.

The Daily Promo – Louise Hagger

Louise Hagger

Who printed it?
A Carp in the Tub Fold Out Identity Print Booklet Mixam Print,
A Year in Food annuals Mixam Print

Who designed it?
All designed by Owen Evans

Tell me about the images?

A Carp in the Tub: “If you want to take a bath, do it today; I’m bringing the carp tomorrow and it lives in the tub till Easter,” said Natalia helpfully. WAIT. Easter is three months away.

A Carp in the Tub is an artist collaboration by Food Stylist Victoria Granof, Photographer Louise Hagger and Prop Stylist JoJo Li. In words, pictures and recipes, it tells the weird and wonderful story of Granof’s winter-long journey to adopt her infant son in Ukraine.

The work is presented as a set: a folded poster and a booklet. Inside the booklet are a suite of seven photographs with corresponding recipes, and a not funny-but funny essay written by Granof. The poster unfolds into an A3 size to reveal the carp in the tub.

Whole Skinny Chicken from the series was an OpenWalls Finalist and exhibited at Les Rencontres d’Arles last Summer. The work won First Place ‘Professional Personal Work’ at PDN Taste Awards last year and is stocked at The Photographers’ Gallery bookshop, Magma, Mag Culture. Donlon Books, Ti Pi Tin Books and it’s part of Self Publish Be Happy’s library. You can find more info here and hear the song that Victoria Granof chose that compliments the work.

A Year in Food is my food annual which charts my food collaborations, commissions and best eats that year. The majority of my work are personal collaborations with an amazing team of innovative creatives in the food and drink industry from New York to Tokyo, which have been published by brands and editorials around the world. Together we make photographs that are impactful and delicious.

It is stocked in The Photographers’ Gallery bookshop, Magma and Daikanyama Tsutaya Books in Tokyo.

How many did you make?
A Carp in the Tub edition of 200
A Year in Food 2018 500 copies
A Year in Food 2019: 350 copies.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
1-2. My food annual A Year in Food is my main printed promo. I wanted to make A Carp in the Tub into a book to create a more intimate relationship with the viewer. It was the perfect way to share Victoria’s story and create space to share her essay and the recipes she wrote from the photographs we created, which document her memories from that time. I wanted to have an interactive element to the work so that’s why there is a fold-out poster to reveal the carp and also the rotation to see the poster in my food annual.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Absolutely! The response is really positive to receiving something that is considered and in print. It makes people take the time and really look and to ask questions, to share stories, rather that just swipe or scroll. It’s wonderful to hold something tangible that we’ve created from a conversation.

I post out A Year in Food in January with a handwritten postcards to wish my clients, art buyers, agencies and creatives I’d like to collaborate with a happy New Year and hope the work inspires them for upcoming projects that we can work together on. I have had commercial commissions from my food annual, particularly from my personal projects like my kaleidoscope motion work which provided inspiration for Rekorderlig’s online summer campaign.

This year for Chinese New Year I posted out the recipe cards as a preview to the forthcoming Hakka zine Eat Bitter in lucky red envelopes which Roo Williams designed. He made and hand printed the stamp of the Chinese calligraphy (which was designed by Henry Chung). Lydia’s family stuffed the envelopes over the Christmas break in Portland and I met up with her sister in London who brought mine over.

“Endure pain to taste sweetness.”

A collaboration between two female, half Chinese creatives; Louise Hagger and Lydia Pang, celebrating their love of food and storytelling. Each based in London and Portland, Oregon, this collaboration spanned timezones.

The creative direction was born out of the Hakka spirit. Punk zine references echo the progressive and independent culture, lucky Chinese red tones hero but with a purposeful nod into the blood-red of meat. Bold and blocky typography mirrors Chinese script and is paired with human hand elements, calligraphy by Lydia’s Pawpaw and sketches taken directly from Lydia’s dad’s recipe books. The imagery is visceral, textural and immediately grounds you in a sense of place and time, a feeling. This work is deeply personal, sensorial and aims to shine a light on a culture long ignored.

At Chinese New Year, we want to share the preview to Lydia Pang’s Hakka Zine. A collection of short stories told through recipes that are not for the faint-hearted.

Because it’s time for everyone to know what Hakka tastes like.
I didn’t know Lydia personally but heard her on Creative Director Gem Fletcher’s The Messy Truth podcast and then read her interview on Ladies, Wine & Design talking about her Hakka zine. I’m interested in telling the stories behind food imagery within domestic scenes and around food memories so reached out to her on instagram saying that I would love to photograph her grandmother’s recipes. My work is very colourful and Lydia is a Goth so I wasn’t sure if she would think I would be the right person for the project, but we immediately connected on the story telling aspect, a passion for food and collaboration and sharing similar food memories from growing up as we’re both half Chinese. We met up when she was in London and after sharing ideas online, moodboards and numerous calls, we refined the art direction so we were all aligned before the shoot. I photographed the recipes in London with my team, food stylist Valerie Berry, assisted by Song Soo Kim, stylist Alexander Breeze and photo assistant and retoucher Sam Reeves. As Lydia is 8 hours behind in Portland, we had already photographed some before she had woken up. She loved what we had done and it was wonderful to taste her grandmother’s recipes on the shoot after we had photographed them. My regular collaborators have become friends and so we work very intuitively together. That’s the perfect kind of shoot when each creative is working in perfect synergy to create the work. You can feel the energy, working harmoniously to elevate one another’s work. I can’t wait to share all the images later this year!

Visiting Amsterdam, Part 2


Part 1. The Intro


Why do people travel?

Why do we go places?

Right now, it’s a good question, because we can’t.
Go places.

(Those of us not headed to “life essential” jobs each day, I mean.)

Speaking of which, two of my former photo students work at the local Smith’s Grocery store. I haven’t been there in three weeks, but I’m assuming they’re still at it, and hope they’re safe.

Big shout outs to Jason and Dylan! And to my father-in-law Mike, and sister-in-law Jemery, who are both Taos doctors.

The rest of us, anyway, are stuck at home.

Not going places.

And even though the uncertainty of it all makes it feel like this pandemic will be permanent, that’s not the way these things go.

Humans hate uncertainty more than anything else, which is what gave rise to monarchs and autocrats and totalitarians in the first place.

In China, for instance, as I have previously written, the depth of the bloodbaths that would occur under disorder caused many people to trade freedom for security, from certain Emperors to Mao on down.

Hitler came to Germany after the shitfuck of WWI and the Great Depression, (Please watch Babylon Berlin on Netflix,) and ancient royalty, from Egypt to England to Guatemala, has claimed to have a relationship with, and blessings from the divine.



So where we are now, with no clear answer as to how long “this” will all last, humans do lean into the hunker mentality. (Rhymes with bunker.)

But life will go back to some semblance of normal again.

It might be a different normal, like life was never quite the same after the Great Recession.

(You know I’m right.)

The Gig Economy, Uber, the permanent street class.
The first African-American President.

Donald Trump.

All of that came Post-Great-Recession.

Wait, I’m getting depressing again.


What I mean is, this scary phase will end.
It will.

And we’ll be able to travel again.

So, to get back on topic, why do we do it?


Part 2. The asshole


What kind of asshole writer opens a section with a question, and ends it with the same question, without ever answering the question?


So, here’s my answer.

I think we all love a proper adventure.

All of us.

It’s why we’re binge-watching all these shows and movies, and reading all these books.

We escape into the fantasy of adventure and drama.

Traveling to other cities, towns and countries, with different languages, foods and landscapes.

It is the hero’s journey.

It is the “actual reality” version of “virtual reality” that so many people like in their stories and video games.

(Minus the murder and mayhem, of course.)

When you’re out there, somewhere new, you never know what’s around the next bend?

How could you?

There is an inherent and proper romance in a great voyage, and somehow, even after the insanity that was #2019, I got to have a perfect, rambling, symbol-laden adventure in Amsterdam in February of #2020.


Though I am writing on April Fool’s Day, (just so you know,) I promise all stories told in this series are true.

And to be clear, I’m not saying I was James Bond, nor that it felt like my trip should be made into a movie or anything.

It’s just that it was MY movie.
My story.

And to relive it in my head right now, on lockdown, is kind of fun.


Part 3. Take my last Euro


When last I left you, I was departing the Jolly Joker, jet-lagged, on my first half-day in Amsterdam.

Saturday, February 15.

As an experienced traveler, I knew I was likely to need a bit of quiet time, and some food, to chill out before I hit the city hard again.

So I popped into a cute looking bakery/cafe, (they’re everywhere,) and got a bresaola, arugula, and fresh mozzarella sandwich, on fresh baked bread, with a chocolate croissant and a cappuccino to go.

(General advice, of the many munchies on offer in the city, including some with silly names, the bakeries and delis seemed to have the most consistent, high-end Euro product, that I observed.)


Dubble Trouble

It set me up for the afternoon, looking out the my window on the shimmering canal, watching a spot of local tv, and getting a bit of jet-lag-rest.


Hotel Room View


Once done, I left the Hotel Mai for my first big walk.

Is it creepy that I could consult my iPhone now and see how long I walked that day? (5 miles. It only went up from there.)

I remember that I cut through Dam Square, headed West a block or two, and then and just let whimsy be my guide.

Twisting and turning through the canal ring.

There really are few better feelings.

Turn here.
Look there.

Stop in a coffee shop and get stoned.

After a couple of hours, it got dark, and I realized I’d need food and another smoke.

I had 20 Euro left.

Decisions, decisions.

Coffee shop or restaurant?

There’s nothing wrong with having a smoke in the street, (except for the constant devil-wind,) so I opted to go with my grinding stomach.

Before me stood a Vietnamese restaurant with a cute name, Pho King.

Say it fast.
Get it?



It was cash only, which meant my commitment was complete, because I was hungry, it was relatively early, 7 or 8pm, and I wanted to be done purchasing food for the night.

To say the place had a great vibe is not an undersell. It was small, but clean, and my spider-sense tingled that it was going to be good.

I asked for some recommendations, and the smart, young Vietnamese woman behind the counter said the Pho was the best thing.

She was serious in all the right ways, and after I made a few jokes, all the ladies behind the counter liked me.

“OK,” I said. “I’ve got only 20 Euro. You’re the boss, now. I’ll do what you say, and you can use up all the money, including a small tip.”

I looked at the menu.


I love BBQ pork bun, and there it was. The meat is served over cold, or room temperature, rice noodles, typically with shredded carrots and cucumber, with crushed peanut, and then you add a cold, sweet fish sauce, nuoc cham.

“I love that,” I said. “It’s my favorite.”

The young woman behind the counter shook her head no.

“No?” I said. “I can’t get that.”

She shook her head no.

“No,” she said.

“But you have my best interests at heart, right?”

“Yes,” she said. “I do. We’re gonna get you a Beef Pho, with all three kinds of beef. It’s what we do best.”

“Great. Fine. But I can’t have the BBQ Pork Bun. It’s my favorite.”

“No,” she said.

I was bummed out, but keeping the faith.

She smiled.

“But look. The fresh spring roll. Look at number 14.”

I looked down, took a second, the marijuana and hash slowing me perceptibly.

I read: BBQ pork, rice noodle, shredded vegetable, peanuts, dipping sauce. Inside the fresh spring roll wrapper!

I looked at the price: about half of what I was badgering her to let me order.

“It’s the same thing,” I said, “but in a spring roll, and cheaper.”

She smiled.

Meaning: I could have the soup, and the spring rolls for my 20 Euro, including a small tip. (But no drink.)

I asked for it to go, and again, she shook her head, No.

“No,” I said? “I can’t take it to go?”

“No,” she said. “You eat the spring rolls now, while they’re fresh, and I’ll pack up the soup for you to go.”

“OK,” I replied. “If you say so. Like I said, I’m in your hands.”

The spring rolls, when they came, were a meal in themselves, and as good as any version I’ve had. The bbq pork was sweet, and succulent, and I didn’t think I’d have room for soup later. (I did.)

Nor that I’d eat BBQ pork this good again that week.
(I did.)

But after I cleaned the plate, I said thanks to my new friend, and headed back out into the night with my goodie bag.

Pho King, 2 locations in Amsterdam, Cheap eats, Highly recommended.


Part 4: I have a question


Were any of you drunken slobs in college?

I know I was.

(Thank you, Duke University. You trained me so well.)

I used to sleep until 1 or 2 in the afternoon each day, if I could.

Not since then, not since the mid-90’s, have is slept until 1pm.

Until Sunday morning, February 16th, when my jet-lag, weed-hangover, and a properly silent hotel room conspired to let me sleep.

Long and deep.

When I finally woke up, rather than food, I needed some tea, and then a fresh smoke.

The Hotel Mai had opened only a week or two before I got there, so the rooms were properly fresh. With a no-smoking policy.

They had a tea kettle and a Nespresso maker included, with green tea and coffee replacements each day.

Very classy, this hotel. (I hope they make it…)

In addition to the no-smoking policy, the windows were sealed shut. Jimmy at the front desk said it was because the city had too many jumpers, tourists high on magic mushrooms, and made a law sealing the hotel windows up.

So out the door I went.

For a moment, I stared at the water.


Then, down to the Jolly Joker I went, and as always it was crowded.

I spotted a seat up top and sat down next to an young Indian guy, wedging myself into the corner of a wooden banquette.

Like Gerrit had the day before, I introduced myself, since there were open seats around.

He asked if he could use my lighter, which I’d bought at the local head shop. It was black plastic, and said I heart Amsterdam.

“That depends,” I replied.

“That depends?” he asked, looking at me like I had a hole in my head.

“Yes,” I said. “It depends upon your answer to a question.”

“It depends upon my answer to a question?” Again, he looked at me like I was a two-year old.”

“Yes,” I said.

“OK,” he said, “what is the question?”

“Do you love Amsterdam,” I asked?

“Do I love Amsterdam?” he said? At that point, he looked at me like I didn’t speak English. What kind of a stranger asks that question, in these circumstances?

“Yes,” I said. “Do you love Amsterdam? If you answer correctly, you can use my lighter.”

“OK,” he said. “OK. OK. Yes, I love Amsterdam. Are you satisfied.?”

I showed him the lighter, he laughed, and then I passed it his way, as he had just rolled a joint with tobacco and marijuana, as was the custom in the city.

(There were little rolling paper dispensers on the bar, like napkin dispensers in a traditional cafe, and most people took them.)

His name was Yogesh, he was from India, on a business trip that took him to Poland, among other places.

He was in Amsterdam to get high and have fun, more or less.

My kind of guy.

The bar man was playing Travis Scott.
And lots of trap music.

Things I listen to at home.

And there I was again, chatting up a stranger, listening to brilliant music, out in public, in a crowded, life-affirming, gorgeous, historic, European city.

Shout out to you, Amsterdam!

In the end, after an hour or so of chatting, we made plans to have dinner, but it wasn’t meant to be, as our timing was off.

So my final shout out today is to Yogesh, my erstwhile stoner buddy.

I hope he, and all of you, are safe out there!


The Art of the Personal Project: Kendrick Brinson

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


Today’s featured artist:  Kendrick Brinson  Brinson/Banks

“I call this community: “Life after Life”. There are people well into 80’s and 90’s enjoying their life as if they were 50’s and 60’s. You can actually look forward to growing old. There is a lot to do. A reason to live,” said Vera MacIntosh, on a Sun City blog.

The first time I went to Sun City, Arizona was December 2009. I was a new freelancer after having left my last staff photojournalist job at a newspaper and I’d read about the age-restricted city of 40,000 retirees, and then read about the Sun City Poms, a cheerleading squad made up of women all the way in their 80s, and I read about the 50th anniversary of the place that would begin the next month, and I knew I had to go and take photos there. I never would have thought that December that I’d be returning with my camera for a decade, but I have.

For 60 years, those 55 and older have relocated to Sun City, Arizona, a city self-governed, a city unlike any other in the world. Sun City was the first place of its kind and it is still the largest. The city is 14 square miles of a retirement paradise of palm tree lined streets, each with a golf cart lane.  Sun City provides seniors with a life after work and a life after raising children.  Sun City is a life of enjoying friends and being active, in spite of age.

There are more than 100 active clubs in Sun City and the days are filled with lawn bowling and group swim classes and the nights are filled with dancing. All this living comes with loss, however. Friends and spouses die, and the singles dance night are just as full as the couples dance night for obvious reasons. Yet, there’s optimism everywhere.

“Enjoy your youth, I’ll tell ya, you never know how much you have left,” resident Tom Woods told me.

People can see more my work here:

Yes, I do intend to make a book of the project I just have to decide when I’m done going 😂

To see more of this project, click here.

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

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


Joe Baraban – One exposure, one frame, one click… shot on Kodachrome 25

- - Working

Sometimes you think you’ve shot just about everything!!

I got a call from an Art Director I had worked with before, telling me that he’s now at a new agency. The agency he was at lost a big account, so everyone got the proverbial boot!

If you professionals out there ever thought that being a free-lance photographer was/is a precarious occupation, you should try being an Art Director back in the day. Your portfolio was always up to date and under your desk.

You went home on Friday after a successful meeting with the client (third in agency billing) who had just approved a new campaign, and over the weekend the client decides they no longer want to go in that direction and fires the agency. You come to work an hour late on Monday and twenty-five percent of the agency is gone; happened all the time.

I’ve seen it happen because I was going to be the photographer that was chosen to shoot an (eight day) new big campaign on a Friday for Bud Light and by Monday the agency had lost the account.

The creative team usually consists of a writer and Art Director. The writer usually comes up with a concept, and the Art Director makes it come to life; sometimes the other way around.

This client was fairly new to the agency, so it was important that the Art Director/writer team deliver “the goods”, as they sometimes said. The reason I was called was that I had “delivered the goods” once before.

The client was an insurance company whose customers were owners of expensive sailboats and motor yachts.

The approved concept, that also went into focus groups, was that you never knew when trouble was coming so you had to be ready for anything; even when you are about to be attacked by a giant crab. Whoever came up with this idea was probably stoned…everybody must have been stoned for this one!!

And that’s where I came in.  The Art director asked me if I thought I could make a giant claw attack a boat…” Hell yes!”

I learned a long time ago that the secret to the success I have had was/is because I always surround myself with the best (most talented) people possible, and I still believe it.

Having said that, I hired Danny Harries, a good friend and an amazing model maker/illustrator, to create a giant claw that we could position where it looked like it was about to attack both a sailboat and motor yacht.

Danny carved it out of a huge block of foam (to make it light), painted it, and from one end to the other it was eighteen feet long.

We took it down to a bay near Houston whose depth was only about four feet deep and tried to set it up…it wouldn’t stand upright, and as a result we missed a beautiful sunset!!!!!!

Since there wasn’t a plan ‘B’, we had to keep working with what we had…the original ‘A’ plan. We took it to a nearby garage so Danny could figure out what went wrong and what he needed to do. While he was scratching his head the Art Director and I were toasting to the Photo Gods with a few beers, thinking that it couldn’t hurt.

The next day we went out again to a great sky and this time it worked like a charm; Danny had worked his magic, much to the relief of the Art Director whose color had returned to his face…and of course, yours truly.

While my assistant and I were lying in a Zodiac, I had the sailboat and motor yacht follow directly behind one another, so I could take full advantage of the last rays before the sun hit the water…as in the sunset. I was very close to the claw with a 20mm lens on, so it would appear larger than life; the Art Director’s words, not mine!!

Those were great days where you could actually use your imagination and then create those ideas in the camera, and having a hell of a lot of fun doing it. Now, the claw would be about eight inches long, shot against a green screen, and with post-processing it would be added to the shot…computer art…UGH!!!

We finished the shoot and had a couple of celebration beers while loading up the claw. After about a mile I had to make a pit stop. Luckily, I pulled over on the shoulder next to a semi-dense forest to disappear into it.

As I was getting out I told the Art director that I had to see “a man about a horse”. When I got back everyone was laughing, especially the Art director.

It seems that while I was gone the account executive, a young woman named Beth (fake name to protect the innocent) said to the Art Director, “Oh I want to go, I love horses”.

One exposure, one frame, one click…shot on Kodachrome 25

To read more of Joe’s stories visit his Facebook page:

The Daily Edit – Joe Pugliese: Social Distancing Portraits

- - The Daily Edit

Joe Pugliese

Heidi: Which was your first image, and how did they build on one another?
Joe: I started with a couple of my immediate neighbors, who are longtime friends and collaborators. As with all personal work, for me the biggest challenge is just getting the ball rolling. There is a huge unknown of what it will feel like to make the work and how the subjects will receive the experience. As I did a few of them, it became clear that it felt good and that I was being responsible in terms of my safety and that of my subjects, so I continued to reach out.

What was going through your mind during these portraits?
I tried not to overthink it. I had to disengage completely with any normal approach that I am used to, and that was challenging but refreshing. For instance, when my friends would come out to see where I was, they pretty much landed in a place that looked perfect for the photo. I did make some suggestions of moving to the left or right, etc but it was shouted from so far away that it  was easier for the subjects to just be however they wanted to be. For the images of people inside looking out, I suggested that and  they  had to direct themselves since I was  too far away to make any changes. The whole experience was fairly organic.

The magic of a portrait is the intimacy, describe the distance.
The approach here was to just record my friends in this odd moment. Luckily, there was a built-in trust that already existed since they are all close friends and know that I will not be taking advantage of them for my purposes. So even from 30 feet away there was this delicate exchange and I was surprised how similar it felt to an intimate portrait. In some ways, it may have made them more comfortable that I actually wasn’t so close. I’m learning a lot through this, and one of the things is that it takes radical change to understand how or why we do anything the way we do.

How much did you responsibly interact with each person?
Knowing that we are encouraged to get a moment or two of fresh air each day helped me wrap my head around the fact that I could do this in a very responsible way. The guidelines say to stay 6 or 10 feet from each other when outside but I wasn’t interested in pushing that in any way. I don’t think I got closer than 20ft to anyone that I photographed. I strongly believe in strict quarantine measures to quell this problem so I didn’t want to exacerbate the situation in any way. I also wanted to point out my distance and solo approach when I wrote the captions for my posts. I’m trying not to encourage a wave of photographers practicing unsafe methods to document the people in their lives.

Why do you feel people resonated with this work?
I think that it was inspired by the feeling I was having of not seeing new work of people for a couple weeks. Most of the photo coverage revolves mourned emptiness, empty streets, empty shelves, anonymous people wearing masks, etc and I craved some honest images of people doing what needs to be done, and maintaining dignity while doing it.

The Daily Promo – Myles McGuinness

- - The Daily Promo

Myles McGuinness

Who printed it?

Who designed it?
Me, I used my previous design skills as an Art Director.

Tell me about the images?
Series of images captured for Tahiti Tourism’s “Embraced by Mana” campaign. The ad featured opposing micro and macro photos.

Ad headlines read: MOVE / BE MOVED
As the Cradle of Polynesian Culture, The Islands of Tahiti are alive with expressions of craftsmanship, traditions, and history. Come immerse yourself and discover what it means to be Embraced By Mana.

Lots of great energy with this group of local guys. They all brought it and made for a super fun shoot in Cooks Bay, on the island of Mo’orea. There are many sides to The Islands of Tahiti. Yet they are all connected by Mana. Mana is a life force and spirit that surrounds us. You can see it. Touch it. Taste it. Feel it. And from the moment you arrive, you will understand why we say our Islands are Embraced by Mana.

How many did you make?

How many times a year do you send out promos?

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes, it certainly helps to share your all mediums. There isn’t golden arrow, but maybe it’s just me but I think print is special again, and when done right can stand out more than an email blast or social media whatever’s. Measuring and trying to maximize investment is key, I’m always fine-tuning lists to match clients who might actually hire me. Shooting for the stars, ha.

This Week in Photography: A Vision of Italy


It was hard to motivate today.

(That’s the truth.)

I get so much joy from this column, all year long, but there are always one or two dips, per year, when my strategic-creativity-reserve drops precipitously.

I’m not alone, as most of you don’t want to work today either. (I’m writing on Thursday, as deadlines are deadlines.)

We’re living through exceptional times, and it takes so much mental and physical energy just to process it all without going crazy.

Let’s call it 60% of our total energy output?

Throw in parenting, working, home-schooling, cooking, cleaning, and all the rest, and how much energy is left for self-care?

For trying to feel good, rather than not-terrified?

Obviously, the answer is very little. We’re all going about, each day, doing the best we can, and some of us have it easier than others. (Geographically speaking.)

Right now, I think we all need to empathize with each other, more than ever, and expect a lot less from ourselves too. (In terms of our work productivity, anyway.) Hell, I just got up off the floor, (literally,) to write this column for three reasons:

1. Rob pays me, and it’s my job.
2. I have a responsibility to you, the audience.
3. I knew that any and all art practice always makes me feel better.

It’s that last one I want to harp on today. (Yes, I’m going into inspirational-professor-mode.)

When our energy drops and our spirits lag, blowing off exercise, or creative practice, is the easiest thing to do. Laziness can feel like a rational response to our current state of affairs, and I’ve allowed myself a fair bit.

I know a hard-core Yogi who admitted he wasn’t doing his yoga, so I gave him a little nudge, because I know how happy it makes him. (The dude glows.)

I’m certainly preaching to the choir, (to some extent,) as I’ve seen lots of social media posts about people cooking, drawing, or meditating.

We all KNOW this, on some level.

When much of normal life is stripped away, and we have so many emotions to process, (without our usual expressive outlets,) you have to give yourself permission to feel like shit, from time to time, while remembering that art makes it better.

Let me say that again: Art makes it better.

When was the last time you picked up your camera, or a pen, or a paintbrush, made some art, and then said, “Fuck! I totally regret that. What a waste of time! Heavens to Mergatroyd!

My guess?

I’m lucky, as this column forces me to make art each week. I can’t not be creative, as it’s my job to keep coming back at you.

With the benefit of that rigor, I wanted to share the message with you: Make art.

Make art!

Simply by making it now, you’ll be recording energy from a historic place in time.

Some of it will necessarily be interesting later on, because it was made now, and it will give a context.

Or then again, maybe a new context will change the work?

Am I simply speculating?

I’m not.

I just got done looking at “Purtroppo Ti Amo,” (Unfortunately, I love you,) a photo-book submitted several years ago, by Federico Pacini in Italy, published by Editrice Quinlan.

(Yes, we’re going there.)

Just now, if I’m being honest, I’ve realized part of my coping mechanism has been to tamp down my heart. To lock away my vulnerability. I’ve put up the chest shield, and protected the emotions, because though I cried before leaving for Amsterdam, I haven’t cried since coming home.

All those poor people in Italy, suffering.

Dying alone.

Losing loved ones, no funerals, all the dread, all the death.

I lived in Rome for a seminal time in my life, and it made me an artist. Then I went back, in 1998, and made street photographs of the elderly culture, as old people were engaged and active in a way I’d never seen before.

Riding scooters, shopping with vigor, doing the passagiatta.


Why have I not cried for their loss?

You might get choked up when you see these pictures below, because it’s just too hard not to view them in the new context.

And what are they?

The entire book, near as I can tell, was shot in and around the artist’s hometown of Siena. A place, famed as any for its beauty, in the architecture and surrounding Tuscan countryside.

If most of us wanted to idealize a locale’s beauty, we might go with a place like Tuscany.

But that’s not what we see in this book.

Photograph after photograph of bleak, banal, real places. It is Italy, but not the Italy we’re accustomed to. This is all anti-aesthetic, no pretty.

When people do show up, and it’s rare, they’re often elderly. And when was the book made?


We see porn DVD’s and old parking lots. Miley Cyrus posters, and suave barbers.

But most of it is empty.
And sad.

About 1/3 of the way through, on the left hand page, we see a low-res image of an old man, looking disconcerted. On the right, an empty room, maybe in a Church basement, community center, or nursing home?

I strain to read one sign, and then translate it. My Italian is rusty, so I turn to Google:

“Le solitudine colpisce le persone che ti circondano,” which means…

“Loneliness affects the people around you.”

How was this book not made 3 days ago?

There is a juxtaposition, not much later on, of a small, 2-door-mini-Euro-car with a door-sign advertising funerals, next to a man, in a yellow, plastic volunteer vest, guarding the entrance to a supermarket.

How was this book not made 2 days ago?

There are empty restaurants, empty parks, empty streets.

How was this book not made yesterday?

I’m not sure there’s is much more for me to say about this one. The photographs below will tell the story better, from here on out.

So let’s all think good thoughts for the poor people in Italy and NYC, or New Orleans, Madrid.

We’ll all get through this eventually, so while you’re in the middle of it, don’t forget to make art.

Bottom Line: Bleak vision of empty Siena 

To purchase “Purtroppo Ti Amo,” click here 


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

The Art of the Personal Project: Andy Batt

- - Personal Project

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


Today’s featured artist:  Andy Batt

I’m very much a non-traditional landscape photographer. I don’t carefully scout or go anywhere with the idea of making “that shot”. I just wander with my camera, and occasionally get to do it in amazing places.

I spend a lot of time just looking when I’m wandering. It’s a search for a reaction in whatever’s in front of me— usually nebulous and poorly defined, but it’s what I’ve come to think of as getting an emotional reaction from a rocks.

My landscapes feel like an exploration of myself as much as they are about the land. I’m looking for resonance with shapes, light, and form. There’s an acknowledgement that each moment is fleeting and different—not better or worse. It’s about opening myself up and being receptive to that moment and taking the photo without judgment or criticism.

Landscape work gives me the freedom to simply be in the moment. It has a sort of artistic healing effect on myself—it bleeds over into my commercial photography, giving me much needed perspective.

There’s something calming and inspiring about being reminded that the world is a much bigger and older place than I often remember. I feel humbled being down in a canyon that’s been carved out over millennia or standing on a pumice field that’s been shaped by ancient volcanos and the constant scouring of wind. Creating art in these places connects me to them—it gives me a touchstone I can return to over and over.


To see more of this project, click here.

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

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


The Daily Edit – Art of Freelance addresses the COVID-19 world

- - The Daily Edit



Photo by Art of Freelance Alum Gina Cholick

Art of Freelance

CEO & Founder: Mathieu Young

Heidi: When and why did you start this organization?
Mathieu: Art of Freelance has been running 10-week online workshops since 2016. This spring will be our 10th. I love being a freelance photographer (well, maybe a little less so in the past two weeks), but was looking for a way to provide the accountability, community, feedback loops and deadlines that people working a normal 9-to-5 have baked into their lives, and we do not.  So we break into small groups, check in weekly, and help each other stay accountable to the goals we set for the 10 weeks. The workshop culminates in a Showcase where we can all show off the work we’ve made. It’s amazing how much more people get done when there is some structure, a deadline, accountability, and support.

What has this taught you about the industry and yourself?
Short term, I feel like COVID-19 just revealed our industry as fragile, and not particularly well organized. There is no one advocating for creative freelancers at a national scale, the way you see in other countries. Congress is discussing a massive bailout package for major industries, “small” businesses (which probably don’t include sole proprietors that don’t have payroll costs), and people who qualify for Unemployment Insurance, but independent contractors that have been getting paid via a 1099 may fall through the cracks. You have people literally wondering how they’re going to pay their rent next month, and not a lot of good answers. We’ve been trying to research and aggregate some info on FEMA/SBA loans, emergency grants, rent moratoriums and mortgage forbearance programs, etc, to share with the community.

Long term, I think that this crisis will force us to be the kind of intrepid  innovative, creative problem solvers that we naturally are, and develop interesting solutions to continue to provide the world with creative content. I also think that this crisis is going to push a lot of us to reassess the age old wisdom that you should specialize specialize specialize, and make a diversification of skill sets something to aim for. I think this crisis may push a lot of people to reassess their careers, and potentially pivot, or add additional layers to increase that resiliency in tough times like these.

Who are your members?
We’ve had hundreds of creative freelancers from all different industries participants in the workshop, and stay active in the community. Photographers make up a good portion of the participants, but there are also musicians, writers, directors, designers, illustrators, and entrepreneurs of all kinds. Part of what makes it unique is the cross pollination between people with divergent skill sets, interested, and backgrounds.

How are you coping with the current climate?
We’re hosting a free Zoom call at 12p PST this Thursday to discuss “freelancing in a COVID-19 world”, and I’ll be interviewing Andrea Stern (@asksternreps), Joe Pugliese (@joepug), and Hannah Soto (@greyhouseproductions).

There are also a couple spots open in the Spring 2020 workshop still available if people are interested in some additional community, accountability, and support over the next 10 weeks. The registration link is on the homepage here

And we’ve continued to update our resources for freelancers page here, and will continue to do so leading up to Thursday.

The Daily Edit – Chris Crisman: Virtual Shoot

- - The Daily Edit

Virtual Shoot

Photographer and Director: Chris Crisman

Heidi: Was Virtual Shoot a result of the outbreak or crazy synchronicity?
Chris: Around 6 months ago we had started preparing for early March to be a challenging time for our business. Not only was there launching the Women’s Work book but our executive producer, Robert Luessen, was scheduled to begin paternity leave the same week. Because of this, and also paired with our February decision to move to a commercial self-representation model, we were hyper-vigilant to everything that could possibly impact our work-flow. For years our team has wondered aloud how we could clone ourselves to be on more than one shoot at a time. But over the past 6 months preparing (with a side of panic) for Robert’s paternity, we half-joked that we would have to figure out a way to pipe him into the shoots with an iPad on a roller stand… And then on March 5th when clients were asking us for solutions, we began to develop bringing the idea of the Virtual Shoot to life. The “what if” now became a “how?”. And that question fueled us to rapidly find creative solutions. I’m also the kind of person who is always searching for new ways to challenge myself and the team when it comes to thinking about how to transform so the first call for our tech approach was to a trusted Digital Tech and DIT. I told him that I wanted to create an option that showed a scenario with as few people as possible on a set, but allow for conditions for everyone who should be there to attend and interact virtually, in real-time.

These final images were all created with existing photographs from Chris’s library or CGI then combined with a shoot of a single person in studio.

How long have you been working on this video?
The timeline for ideation to shooting this video was 7 days. We finished the final edit on March 18th. Within that time period, we were hyper-focused on establishing a pre-production protocol that was current to what we were learning at the time about safety-first. We took particular precautions and protocols that were published by various respected industry groups, like AICP. We also communicated with our crew daily prior to the shoot as well as during the shoot about their physical health. Our equipment and our studio was cleaned and disinfected prior to our arrival. We also opted for a larger studio to assist with the social distancing. Hand sanitizer and medical grade gloves were provided. The on-set producer took new responsibilities to ensure all surfaces were constantly sanitized with disinfectant.

Why does the world need this now?
This is not a time to gather. That is the critical first point I make on every platform where we shared this video. Again, Right now is the time to stay at home. I closed our physical office on Friday, March 5th and we re-opened our virtual office the following Monday. As for why now? Because we wanted the video to serve as an example for anyone who will need to consider new, more efficient ways to conduct business. Our way of helping people see things not as they are but as they can be — and for us, more thought-provoking, the better.

What’s next?
Since launching, I’ve spent time hunkered down with family as well as time reflecting on how much gratitude, respect and hope I have for this industry. I am also looking forward to keeping conversations like these going — especially around what Is coming and more so than ever, how we keep safe. We also challenged ourselves along the way to explore the idea of shooting without physical interactions and what we found is possible there. So there will be more to show and then talk about. In the long run, challenging ourselves was also a reminder to everyone on the team of what’s ahead and how important it is to be able to contribute ideas to moving our industry forward, together

Visiting Amsterdam, Part 1


Part 1: The Intro

Blue New Mexico sky, #2020


I was scared shitless to go to Amsterdam last month.

Like, palpably afraid.

I cried, before leaving, I was so terrified.

My wife and daughter looked at me with deep empathy, and my son, nearly 12.5, had the awkward grin I recognized from my own youth.

A look that said, I’m uncomfortable with your naked display of emotion. Men aren’t supposed to cry. I’m not quite sure what to do here, so I’m going to smile like a paralyzed snow-monkey.

I understood how he felt, as for a moment, I could see myself though his eyes: the bearded, aviator-sunglasses-wearing hipster Dad, always cool.

And there I was, crying like a baby because I had to go to Europe.

We’d all discussed the risks, as there was not yet Coronavirus in Holland, no tourists were leaving China, and it wasn’t thought you could just pick it up in an airport.

So after my best mate and my book’s designer, Caleb Cain Marcus, told me the book could be 10% better if I supervised on press in Holland, he, my wife and kids all pushed me to spend the money and go.

To spend that much, (though I did get a great deal,) and to head out into a world where this new virus was taking root, it triggered some deep fear in me.

From the distance of only a month, (that feels like two years,) I now know why I was so fucking scared.

The wave that was coming was so much bigger than I could have anticipated, but I felt it in my bones.

Walking to my car, with my bags over my shoulders, I swear, I could hear the Jaws theme with each step I took.

Duh duh.
Duh duh.
Duh duh duh duh.

And then, (other than almost dying once,) nothing bad happened.

Nothing at all.
Quite the opposite.

I had a magical week, alone, in a shockingly cool European city.


Part 2. The journey


I bought a package trip on Orbitz, and the airfare and hotel were together what the plane ticket was supposed to cost. So when we all start traveling again, (which WILL happen,) I’d recommend you consider the tactic.

It meant I was able to leave my home, drive the 2.5 hours to the Albuquerque Airport, and board a flight to Houston, where I’d grab my international leg straight to Schiphol Airport.

In retrospect, the flight to the Netherlands, which I found obnoxious at the time, now seems like something powerful and special that I neglected to appreciate.

There we were, in the middle of the plane: A middle-aged, tall Dutch businessman to my left, an older Afro-Caribbean lady to my right, and a young Indian woman, living in Holland, to her right.

The four of us, crammed in tighter than a miser’s butthole, in a plane full of diverse humans.

Again, that was just over a month ago, as I write this on Wednesday March 18th.

I took two Benadryl to get some sleep on the flight, and it messed with my brain, because I know I watched two movies, but all these weeks later, for the life of me, I can’t remember one of them.

Seriously, what the hell did I watch?

The other movie, “Booksmart,” directed by Olivia Wilde, was a clever, Post-Me-Too update on “Superbad,” and maybe all teen movies like it, by flipping the protagonists to female, and making one gay.

Not that I saw the parallel until this very moment, but after my 4 hour nap, I watched the beginning episodes of “Killing Eve,” which I finished on the flight home. (A proper 10 hour binge watch!)

Killing Eve promo pic


Highly, Highly recommended.

Talking about flipping the script? Who needs James Bond, really, when you have female characters this badass, complex, sexy and surprising?

Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh are brilliant, and some of the foreshadowing, in particular in season 1, when Phoebe Waller-Bridge was show-runner, was bone-chilling.

(I won’t do a spoiler alert. I just won’t spoil it.)

In our new world, with plenty of spare time, watch this one and you’ll thank me.


Part 3: The arrival


If you think I’m teasing this out, well, maybe I am?

Do you have anything else pressing at the moment?

I’m reliving it in my memory, and if I savor every morsel of the now-forbidden-travel-fruit, would you blame me?

But as I said earlier, everything went so smoothly. Me and the other humans, pressed up against each other, and I was through customs in twenty minutes.

The train station is in the airport in Amsterdam, out at Schiphol, so it’s the easiest thing in the world to grab a 5 Euro train ticket into Amsterdam Centraal Station, the rail hub of the country. (Though all the other cities, Den Haag, Rotterdam and Utrecht are close by as well.)

Schiphol Airport

I remember sitting on that train, closing my eyes, and enjoying a moment of quiet, after I’d been traveling for 16 hours or so.

Then, I heard some loud American teenagers, and they wouldn’t shut up.

“Seriously?” I thought. “I travel halfway across the world, and my jet-lag-headache gets lit up by some dumb teenagers on a pleasure trip with their wealthy parents?”

Eventually, I moved, and then they got off at the wrong station, got back on the train on my new end of car, and sat down near me again.

After they kept yapping, I shot the Dad a look, and he quieted them down for me.

It’s an important thing to remember in these new times.

A lot of important information can be communicated through body language. (Nearly all of what we need to tell a stranger, anyway.) So as you approach people, and step into their personal space in the next couple of months, (or whatever,) just think like a martial artist, and read their energy and intent first.

I stumbled off the train, having to take a piss like you wouldn’t believe, and would you know it, but after walking up and down the train station, I found a public toilet, but you had to pay to use it?

I had no European money yet, much less coins, but the nice guy working there let me in, because I was polite, and obviously had to pee.

Why do I tell you this?

Because up and down that city, people were so cool and friendly. I’ve been around the block, and I can’t say enough about the Dutch, and the Amsterdammers in particular.

After leaving, I quickly arrived at the Hotel Mai, which is somehow located in a quiet, chill vortex that is both right up the street from the train station, and right on the cusp of the Red Light District.

Hotel Mai, looking North

Hotel Mai, Interior Entry

Hotel Mai, Chinese statues in the entryway

There is no reason for that spot, on the Geldersekade canal, to be mellow and relaxing, but it was.

I arrived shortly after 10 am, woozy from the jet lag, and met Jimmy, a nice young guy behind the desk, who told me there would be no Hurricane Dennis. (Which I wrote about previously.)

I asked if he’d take my bags, and he said sure, but then I kept asking about when I might be able to check in early?

The entire time I was in Europe during 2019-20, having a Verizon phone, which only works with Wifi, was a big downer.

Except for this once.

Because each time Jimmy said, “I’ll text you when your room is ready,” I could truthfully say, “I won’t get it. My phone doesn’t receive SMS here.”

He pushed some buttons around a few more times, and then said, “You want a king bed, right,” and I said, “Of course.”

“I have a room for you now,” said Jimmy, and then, all of a sudden, at 10:15am, I had a hotel room, a place to clean up, and my goodness, if that wasn’t a gift from the travel gods, and an omen of good things to come, I don’t know what was.


Hotel room view

Part 4: The coffee shops


So what do you do, standing in your beautiful, brand new hotel room, staring out at the shimmering water of the canal, now that it’s 10:30am, and you’ve washed your face, smacked your cheeks, and talked to yourself in the mirror to get psyched up?

Well, the first thing you do is change money.

I’d been to Amsterdam 4 times before, including one that I wrote about here in the column, so I had a rough mental map of the area. (Now it’s much sharper.)

I cut Southeast to Dam Square, though the tourist throngs, so I figured I could get my Euros there. (Cash only in the coffee shops.)

Dam Square, the former palace

It was easy to find the action, and I went to the money changer in the middle, because the ones on either end grab the first tourists to happen by.

The man behind the counter was friendly, and gay, with big chunky glasses, and we chatted for a few moments. I came back two days later, to get the rest of my money changed, and he told me about one of his favorite places in town.

It’s called “This is Holland” and is a 5D experience in which you get to simulate flying over the country. Though it sounded dope, I never made it. (But when things open again, you might want to try it.)

After I got that first batch of money, though, I hightailed it straight to the Oude Kerk, a beautiful 17th Central cathedral, because my favorite coffee shop was there, the Cafe Oude Kerk.

Though it seems like not much changes in Amsterdam, (until now of course,) the cafe was now called the Old Church, the English equivalent.

And it wasn’t open yet.

I walked around for 10 minutes, killing time, and finally the woman working there came out to talk to me.

Apparently, the “coffee shop” moved to a different part of downtown, and this coffee shop only sold coffee and food.

No weed or hash.

Luckily, they’d printed a map, (for all the idiots like me,) and I walked there in 10 minutes, like she promised.

Why did it have to the be the same place as last time, when there are hundreds of “coffee shops” in Amsterdam?

Good question.

The Old Church had a Cannabis-Cup-winning-hash, from 2004, a blonde hash that was my all-time-favorite.

(Brand loyalty, if you will.)

But the young woman behind the counter sold me something that didn’t seem the same, though it had a similar color, but she was confident.

Pineapple Express pollen hash.

I’d bought a pipe and a lighter at a little convenience store before I walked in, so a gram of hash and a pear Looza juice, (silky, from Belgium,) set me back 17 Euro.

I sat down, smoked a couple of small bowls, and felt a nice buzz, but that was about it.


I overheard the ladies behind the counter saying “California, California.”

There was scorn in their voices, but also jealousy, so I went up to investigate.

“What’s that about California,” I barged in? “Their stuff is great, no question, but I’ve been thinking of coming to Amsterdam for years. You can’t get this hash back home in the US.”

“Well,” one young woman said “if you look at the menu, all the top strains are now from California. 30 Euro a gram or more.”

“I hear you,” I said. “I can get that back home. It’s great. But what about the hash? This doesn’t seem like what I had before. That won the Cannabis Cup?”

“Ah,” said a deep, smoker-throaty-voiced, blonde women in the corner. Obviously the boss. “You mean the Royal Cream.”

“Yes,” I exclaimed! “Yes. The Royal Cream. That’s what I came back for. That’s the shit you can’t get in the US.”

“Well, I’m sorry,” she said. “You can’t get it here now either. It doesn’t leave Morocco anymore. They have a new King, and new rules. Plus, most of the old timers are retiring, and their kids don’t want to do the work.”

“Bummer,” I said.

“Yeah, well.”

I left, with my mild buzz, and headed over to The Jolly Joker, a centrally located coffee shop, where I hung out with Hugo in 2013. (I still wear the T-shirt.)

The Jolly Joker

I bought some weed to go with my hash, the Tangerine Haze, for 14 Euro. A lot of the local strains had “haze” in the name, and all of them were pretty average, compared to what I have access to in Colorado.

It’s a blanket statement, but I’ll make it here and now.

The best part of the coffee shop experience was the social interactions, the music, the vibes, the people watching, and the fact that smoking decent weed and hash only made it cooler.

At The Jolly Joker, I sat down at a table for two in the window, and watched the world go by. Within minutes though, a young man approached and asked if he could join me.

As is (or was) the etiquette, I said sure, and as he rolled a joint, I began to ask him questions.

His name was Gerrit, he was a social worker from Munster, Germany, in town for a big guys-night-out.

10 German dudes, meeting up to go out for beers and grilled meat. (But he only knew two of them, and was therefore a little nervous.)

Gerrit made no mention of sex clubs, or anything illicit, and I took him at his word.

10 German guys in a food, booze and weed feast only.

I asked if he’d send me a picture, and eventually he did.

The Guys

I bragged about my luck, getting a hotel room a block away at 10:15 in the morning.

Gerrit’s face fell.

“What?” I asked.

He said he was waiting for his buddies to come to town, and he couldn’t check in to his hotel for 4 more hours. He was tired, dirty, and couldn’t wait to get some private space.

And there I was bragging!

I felt awful.

“The least I can do is help you pass the time then, since I can go shower and lay down whenever I want. My hotel is just up the block.”

“Thanks,” he said.

So I stayed, and we talked for another hour.

That a month later, the simple pleasure of smoking and chatting with a stranger, in a public place teeming with people, in a busy city crawling with humans, would seem so luxurious?

So impossible?

We’re all still trying to comprehend it.


The Art of the Personal Project: Pat Molnar

- - Personal Project

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


Today’s featured artist:  Pat Molnar

Most of our projects are pretty good-sized ad campaigns and image libraries with a big ole pile of people involved. Campaigns that include: agencies, clients, production teams, pre-pro meetings, pre-pre-pro meetings, trucks, motorhomes, castings, mood boards, etc., etc. It’s honestly a wonderful business and I’m honored to work with some of the best people in the world…a lot of whom are my closest friends.

Below are a few images that I have done as an ongoing personal project with families over the past year or 2. These projects are the absolute opposite of an ad project. We find a family….come up with a few very rough ideas a day or 2 before….and go shoot. Normally on these shoot it’s: myself, an assistant or 2, a wardrobe/prop stylist (we normally use the families own clothes) and a hair/mu person. Things are really loose and a whole lot of fun. We aren’t checking things off a list…’s really just playing around and finding what feels right.

The pictures aren’t really about what the subjects are doing….it’s really just finding an honest, human, imperfect moment that we all can relate to. I don’t remember any immaculate, picture perfect moments when I was a kid. The stuff i do remember is little details from pretty obscure moments. Working with kids is pretty cool because they are completely straightforward. They don’t care who you are, what you’ve shot or how big the budget of your last project was. If a 4yr old wants to pretend he’s a tiger for the next 2 hours… damn well better figure out a way to incorporate a tiger into your picture.


To see more of this project, click here.

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

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


The Daily Edit – Selma Fernandez Richter: La Luz Workshops

- - The Daily Edit

Selection of images from “The Ache for Home” by Selma Fernandez Richter.

La Luz Workshops

Founder: Selma Fernandez Richter

Heidi: What in your background led you to creating workshops?
Selma:I have been a photographer since 2001. I started my career en Monterrey, Mexico, where I attended college, primarily working on editorial projects for magazines. The desire to improve my photography led me to search for the most effective way to learn new skills. I found that photography workshops were an ideal way to do this. They provided an opportunity for me to immerse myself in a relatively short period of time, learn from some of the best photographers in the world, and apply the knowledge to my profession upon returning home.

Tell us about your relationship with Mary Ellen Mark and the connection to the photo center.
I was fortunate to have Mary Ellen Mark as my teacher, who ran an amazing workshop for nearly 20 years in Oaxaca, in Southern Mexico. I was able to attend her workshops for two consecutive years with scholarships from Conarte (Council for Culture and Art in Monterrey).

A desire to continue learning kept me close to the world of photography workshops. In 2007, I started working as Teaching Assistant for the Santa Fe Workshops and National Geographic Expeditions, also in Oaxaca, where I worked with photographers Raúl Touzon, Eniac Martínez, David Alan Harvey and Kenneth Garrett, among others. With time, I started to develop photography classes, in Monterrey, for advanced enthusiasts. Facilitating the learning process and bearing witness to student growth brought me great fulfillment and joy.

In 2011, I was invited to produce Mary Ellen Mark’s workshops which turned out to be the best school I could ever attend. Not only did I learn about photography, but also about her commitment to her students and her close relationship with the community. She always pushed students and staff to their fullest potential. I was fortunate to also assist her on assignment.

Mary Ellen Mark taking a portrait of me during her workshop in 2005

For many years, I collaborated with Photo Xpeditions, the company that produced Mary Ellen’s workshops. I started working with photographers Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, whom I had previously studied with; Maggie Steber, Tino Soriano, among others.

It felt like the natural next step was to establish my own company.  And in 2018, I created La Luz Workshops, which truly reflects my values around photography and teaching.

Today, I am honored and deeply grateful to work with some of the world’s leading photographers and industry experts, who are also remarkable teachers. We currently have two workshops in Mexico with Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, Finding your Vision, which is held every year, and The Art of Editing, which is held every 3 years (we just completed the first one this winter and it will happen again in 2023). I am really excited to have our first portraiture workshop with Richard Renaldi this Summer, also in Oaxaca, called The Engaging Portrait: A Stranger in Oaxaca. And, in the fall, we will run the second edition of Your Work and Its Audience: Making the Match, with Mary Virginia Swanson and Special Guests.

Art of Editing Workshop: Oaxaca, 2020 with Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb”
Finding your Vision: Oaxaca, 2020 with Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

Why in Oaxaca?
While I currently live in Minneapolis, MN, with my husband, photographer Andy Richter and our 3 year old son, Julien, I was born and raised in Oaxaca. Working in my home town is something that always makes me proud. I aim to share it with our students, who come from all over the world, in an authentic and intimate way.  We like to encourage meaningful engagement with the people and culture, not just taking things and perpetuating stereotypes.

Oaxaca is culturally rich, visually interesting, offers some of the best food in the world, has great weather year round, and it’s people love and embrace visitors that come to experience it. But there is also a history of colonialism on a number of levels. And that is why for us at La Luz is very important to engage in and promote fair business practices. We also encourage respectful relationships between our students and the people that they photograph. We are really lucky that our instructors and their work, attracts a crowd of experienced and sensitive travelers that come to Oaxaca with an open mind and heart.

To give you and idea of how Oaxaca is such a unique place, around 2003, McDonald’s tried to open a restaurant at the Zócalo —the main square where traditionally locals gather to eat and hang out, and the late painter Francisco Toledo, one of Mexico’s greatest artists, who was originally from Oaxaca, and the organization Pro-Oax, stopped the construction of the restaurant. During the last years of his life, Toledo was also very active in protecting native corn and local farmers from Monsanto. Oaxaca is considered by many the place where corn originated and where the most diversity of species exists. And as you may know, it is also a very important part of our cultural identity.

Tell us about your the connection to the photo center.
The workshops in Oaxaca are held at the Manuel Alvarez Bravo Photographic Center, founded by Francisco Toledo. The new director, Fausto Nahúm and I are having conversations about how we can best collaborate and have the workshops be more involved with the community and vice versa.

Another important aspect is being able to offer scholarships to Mexican photographers. We currently offer the Friends of Mary Ellen Mark Scholarship every year, that is open to Mexican young photographers (18-32 years old) to attend Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb’s workshop in Oaxaca. This scholarship is partially funded by some of Mary Ellen’s former students and close friends as well as by the Webbs and La Luz. Our hope is to keep Mary Ellen’s memory and generosity alive in Oaxaca, a place that was so close to her heart. We are currently looking into ways to offer more scholarships.

Mary Virginia Swanson and Elizabeth Krist during the workshop Your Work and Its Audience: Making the Match, NYC 2019

Do you organize them anywhere else?
Every year we run a workshop in New York with Mary Virginia Swanson and Special Guests called Your Work and Its Audience: Making the Match. Our Special Guests include: Elizabeth Krist, former Senior Editor at National Geographic; Alan Rapp, Editorial Director at Monicelli Press; Photographer and Photo Book Editor Joan Liftin; Karen Marks, Director at Howard Greenberg gallery; Jane Yeomans, Photo Editor at Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine; and photographer Elinor Carucci.

This workshop is for photographers who are ready to share their photographic work with the world. This class will help them identify appropriate audiences for it and discuss how to effectively reach out to them, whether it be through exhibitions, fine prints, publication or other formats. As artists, we spend most of our time, energy and resources, creating the work, but as Swanee says, sharing the work with others completes the creative cycle.

As you know, the gallery and editorial markets and basically everything in our industry is rapidly evolving. It is so important that photographers invest the time to really understand, speak the language and learn to make better negotiations when commissioned to create new work, granting licensing rights for their images, or when publishing their projects, to mention a few of the topics that the workshop covers.