This Week In Photography Books: Dafy Hagai

by Jonathan Blaustein

I got a fat stack of books in Santa Fe the other day. Fresh meat. Yum yum.

I never know what I’m going to get, when I re-up at photo-eye. If it’s new, I’m willing to look at it. And these days, people also send me things, so that opens up new worlds of possibility.

As such, I’m wondering if it’s time to be a shade more discriminating in what I review, like a coin collector who won’t spring for just any old piece of silver. (“Excuse me, Bertram, but if you think I’m going to pay $2 million for an 1875 Buffalo nickel, you must be smoking the super-skunk.”)

The first book I reached for today was a Thomas Struth number made in Israel; part of the “This Place” project that I’ve mined for content on many an occasion. Struth? A German in Israel? It’s got to be good, right?

Well. I guess. If you’re into boring pictures.

I hate to throw another photo legend under the bus, but there you go. I’m sure he’s going to read this and have a good cry, but I’m no hater. When the man was good, he was genius, so we’ll always have the old days.

Co-incidentally, the very next book I grabbed, seduced by its snappy blue-on-white color palette, was also made in Israel. Now, I’m sure some of you will think that I have a predilection for such things, as I’m known to be Jewish. But I assure you, I’m as keen to see what’s going on in Kyrgyzstan, Kathmandu, and Kuala Lumpur.

As it happens, this book, the second one I grabbed with grubby hands, like a drunk frat boy reaching for one more In’n’out burger…it’s a doozy. And not necessarily in a good way.

Some weeks, I write about shit you’ve never seen before. Other weeks, like last Friday, I try to highlight really smart and innovative offerings that you might actually want to buy. And then there are the columns, like this one, where you might get agitated.

Consider yourself warned.

“Israeli Girls” is a new book by Dafy Hagai, recently published by Art Paper Editions, in Ghent. I’m writing about it now, because I’m so darn confused. Sometimes, seeing the words pop up on screen helps me suss out my thoughts. (That so many people are reading the results is almost ancillary.)

What’s my favorite catch phrase, beyond “The 21st Century Hustle?” That’s right: Boobs Sell Books℠. They must, or photographers wouldn’t insist on jamming them into their narratives like a Tokyo salaryman wedging onto the subway at rush-hour.

This book is one where, after the very first picture, of a young woman flashing her tennis-skirt-covered tush like a baboon in heat, I knew the boobs were coming.

Sure, the title, “Israeli Girls” hints at the subject: Israeli Girls. But, I thought, there has to be more to it than that? Not long ago, I wrote about Christopher Everard’s meticulously researched investigation of the pornography industry. Billions of dollars are spent helping people get their rocks off.

Does anyone really buy a photobook for that, when they can get it for free on the Internet, minus the classy production values? Or for $39.99 from Vivid Video, with more bells and whistles? Does it matter that these girls are Israeli? As opposed to Dutch? Or Californian?

The book features kind-of-edgy pictures, and we could whip out the Balthus reference, though these young women seem to be of proper age. But I don’t know anything about them, because the book lacks any supporting text at all.

It’s just a bunch of pictures of pretty girls, made in an arty style. Yes, there’s a pink tennis visor on a children’s slide. And when the boobs come, they’re accompanied by under-arm hair, which I’m sure is meant to counter-balance the traditional notions of beauty.

But I’m just not sure what to think. Is this book the equivalent of an ironic mustache, one of my all-time pet peeves? If you want to grow a mustache, grow a f-cking mustache, OK? Don’t pretend that you’re better than your mustache, and you’re only wearing it to make fun of every other tool who wants to look like a 19th Century barkeep. (“May I offer you gents a libation this fine afternoon?”)

If you like pictures of pretty girls, fine. Go for it. Get a job at Playboy, and shoot boobs to your heart’s content. More power to you.

But this book wants to have it both ways. So why am I writing about it? Because I’m annoyed that it’s crawling around inside my head. I don’t know much about VICE, though I’m aware it’s become a Billion Dollar Brand. Is this book made for VICE guys? Or has VICE become respectable these days?

Again, I don’t know, because there is no essay, no titles, no rambling narrative meant to give me so much as a clue. Just some pretty Jewish girls, seducing the camera with their pouty lips and firm flesh. (On general principle, I won’t show you the boob shots, as a faux-protest, but I’m just too wound up not to write about this one.)

OK?

OK. I’m done here. You might hate me for taking up your time to discuss a book I only like “ironically,” or you might thank me for giving you a properly pretty diversion on what’s likely to be a frigid Friday.

Either way, see you next week. (Same Bat time. Same Bat channel.)

Bottom Line: Odd, mysterious, and probably vapid book about pretty Israeli girls

To Purchase “Israeli Girls” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

3 day documentary filmmaking workshop in NY with B&H and Canon! Free BVE Talks and win a MoVI M5 whilst at the show!

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Two, no, three big things here about stuff coming up. The first, in chronological order are the two free talks I am giving for BVE next week.

They are on the first two days at 1345 and 1330 respectively. The first is on 4K of course. I have done talks on 4K before, but time progresses. Where are we now? Has much changed? Should you be shooting 4K?

The second is about shooting the new CNN series “The Wonder List” and how I chose to make my life hell by using said 4K, super super motion, drones and a MoVI M5!

Don’t forget to register for the show! Click here to do that!

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Shooting in Mumbai with the Sony F55

Shooting in Mumbai with the Sony F55

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On the subject of the MoVI M5, I have teamed up with makers Freefly to give away the same system I used throughout shooting The Wonder List,

Freefly MōVI M5 Essentials Bundle (M5, Pelican Case, Spektrum Controller)

 

 

Toad In The Hole Quick Release

 

 

MōVI Ring

 

Total Value: $5395 USD 

 

How can you win this? 

 

All you need to do is swing by the Freefly booth and get your badge scanned to be entered to win. Once all entries have been collected, a name will be randomly selected and the winner announced. Must be present to win! This will happen just after my second talk, so around 2:30pm or as close to that as I can get, depending on how much I get stopped trying to rush over there! :)

 

It will be great to see everyone at the BVE show. I am only there until this giveaway, then I have to race to Heathrow (yes…right the other side of London!) to catch

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The Art of the Personal Project: Diana Zalucky

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: Diana Zalucky

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How long have you been shooting?
More than half my life. I picked up a camera in high school and haven’t put it down since.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I studied photography at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and from ages 21 to 29, I was shooting everything from advertising campaigns to celebrities for Disney. My experience working there was the education of a lifetime. This summer will mark my 3 year anniversary of having my own business!

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I grew up in the US Virgin Islands and have always had a fascination with extreme cold weather. I like to read all the books about people losing limbs in the mountains and all the great epic adventure stories that go along with that lifestyle. I also have a strong fascination with people and the art they create. And by “art,” I mean whatever it is a person does that they love. I may not understand what you are doing, but I do understand that unwavering passion and need to create as if it’s your only choice. To be able to find that connection with others is very special to me.

My inspiration for this shoot came after reading a magazine in my doctor’s office. It was a small feature in Oprah about this amazing woman, Zoya Denure, who left the modeling world to become a dog musher in Alaska. I decided to look her up online and we planned an initial visit for the Iditarod a few months later. In a bittersweet moment, I had to cancel my trip for a big ad job with a dream client, but we stayed in touch rest of the year and planned my visit for a different race almost a year later.

Initially, I was planning to photograph Zoya, but her baby became sick and numerous dogs needed to be cared for at their kennel. Instead, I documented her husband, John Schandelmeir for the race. I really believe that everything works out as it’s meant to when you keep an open mind and expect very little. During my time with Zoya’s family I realized there is a bigger story that I want to tell, and I want to tell it in a way that’s far beyond my comfort zone. I hope to begin what I call Part 2 later this year.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I shot this project last month and made my first selects just for you!

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
If the subject matter or experience excites me and keeps me curious, then I know it’s working.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I don’t feel a difference. I have to always be shooting or I’ll go crazy. Anytime I’m shooting and completely surrendering to the moment, I feel makes it personal and if the images make it into your portfolio, then even better!

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I use Instagram all the time and then link it up with Facebook and Tumblr.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Not yet!

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Thus far, all my promos have included a mix of commercial and personal work. I would like to do a special piece focusing on the images from this project.

Artist Statement:
January 2015 I spent a week with Crazy Dog Kennel, a competitive racing kennel dedicated to the training and rehabilitation of unwanted sled dogs. These particular selects are from the 4 days I spent with legendary musher John Schandelmeir. I was both shooting and helping as a dog handler during the Copper Basin 300, the toughest 300 mile race in Alaska. The Copper Basin is known as a mini Iditarod because it’s a good way for mushers to test the dogs’ endurance. My goal was to document the devotion, hard work and connection this team has with one another and experience a slice of the dog mushing lifestyle.

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Diana Zalucky is a photographer/director hailing from St.Thomas, US Virgin Islands, who is happy to call Los Angeles home. Her passion and energy on set brings out the best in people, resulting in organic images that are filled with spirit.
An explorer at heart who has travelled on assignment to over 30 countries, her images inspire viewers to be adventurous and enjoy life to it’s fullest. She gets giddy over new passport stamps, beautiful light and good food. Diana loves narrating on set, playing in the mountains or ocean and finding the good life wherever she goes.

Diana Zalucky is represented by Held & Associates http://www.cynthiaheld.com

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

Slugline Back to School Sale: 40% Off For Two Days

Slugline is on sale! Allow myself to quote myself from the Slugline Blog:

Last year, we received a nice email from a film student at NYU asking about an educational discount. Unfortunately, there’s no mechanism for this in the App Store (except the volume educational pricing, which we do participate in), so we hatched a plan to do a back to school sale that anyone could take advantage of.

Does the timing actually make any sense? Are you even a student? Who cares? Slugline is on sale for 40% off through Thursday. That’s $23.99 instead of the usual $39.99.

Take advantage of this sale whether your definition of “ramen” is microwaved packets or $18 bowls of stewed pork belly.

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World Press Photo Sets The Bar For Allowed Image Adjustments

Bravo to World Press Photo for taking a leadership role in the debate of what levels of image enhancements, adjustments and manipulation are acceptable for photojournalism. As the winners of this years contest were announced the news that 20% of images that made the final round were rejected for “manipulation or careless post-processing” left many people with jaws agape.

You can engage in the debate with the links below (if you haven’t already), but I wanted to highlight what I think are very important changes in how image adjustments are viewed.

David Campbell, Secretary of the 2015 Photo Contest jury, tweeted out the following:

This is a major departure from the old standard of “digital darkroom” which tried to allow old darkroom techniques used by many of the great photojournalists.

This departure is highlighted by Jury chairwoman, Michele McNally in a story on the lens blog titled “Debating the Rules and Ethics of Digital Photojournalism” where she states:

“digital is not film, it is data — and it requires a new and clear set of rules”

It’s also worth noting that World Press Photo called in all the RAW files for images in the penultimate round and then had independent experts perform forensics on the images and present their findings to the jury.

I think World Press Photo has taken some important steps this year in leading by example. The old darkroom technique of burning and dodging things out of your images are OUT but processes that adjust the aesthetics are IN.

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/17/world-press-photo-manipulation-ethics-of-digital-photojournalism

https://storify.com/davidc7/what-are-world-press-photos-rules-and-standards-on

http://blog.photoshelter.com/2015/02/world-press-photo-eliminates-20-percent-of-images-for-manipulation/

http://www.bjp-online.com/2015/02/image-manipulation-hits-world-press-photo/

http://time.com/3706626/world-press-photo-processing-manipulation-disqualified/

https://www.david-campbell.org/photography/manipulation-examples/

https://bitly.com/bundles/martijnkleppe/m

Lightroom Mobile 1.3 Has a Big New Feature and a Big Old Bug

Adobe quietly updated its mobile version of Lightroom last month. The update includes a highly usable—and even slightly hackable—new feature, and a long-standing bug that can cause your photo adjustments to be lost.

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The headlining feature of Lightroom Mobile 1.3 is the ability to copy and paste settings from one photo to another. It’s handy to be able to make an adjustment to one photo and copy it to others, but the reason I like this feature is that it offers an end run around the image editing limitations imposed on the mobile app.

Lightroom Mobile renders and processes the entire Adobe Camera Raw processing engine, but only allows you to adjust the parameters from the Basic panel in Lightroom’s Develop module. Presets can modify the other parameters, but you are limited to the presets that ship with the mobile app. It’s no secret that I love presets, so what I’ve done in version 1.3 is populate my synced collections with sample photos that use some of my favorite develop presets (including several Prolost Vintage presets). I can now copy and paste the settings from these reference images to any new photo I add. In other words, you can copy and paste Develop settings (from photos edited in the desktop Lightroom) that you cannot otherwise modify using Lightroom Mobile on its own. It’s not quite as good as presets, but it’s better than nothing. I have even created some plain grey images to better show off the settings that I’m copying and pasting.

I thought I was kinda crazy, hacking this new capability to be a poor cousin to my most-requested Lightroom Mobile feature—until I saw Adobe’s own Russell Brown do exactly the same thing in his Lightroom Mobile 1.3 tutorial.

Clearly I’m not Continue reading "Lightroom Mobile 1.3 Has a Big New Feature and a Big Old Bug"

The Daily Edit – Bicycling Magazine: Jesse Southerland

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Bicycling

Design and Photo Director: Jesse Southerland
Art Director: Colin McSherry
Designer: Jimmy Cavalieri

Heidi: I understand you do both the photo direction and the design direction which is becoming more often the norm. What are the benefits and the drawbacks in your eyes?

Jesse: Tighter photo budgets each year are no surprise for editorial photographers, but hopefully they can take some comfort in knowing that their clients are legitimately feeling that pinch as well. Yes, in my case I have absorbed the photo director responsibilities in addition to the design direction.
The benefits have been pretty rewarding actually. Being involved from start to finish allows for better communication without as much getting in lost in translation. There aren’t as many surprises (for the most part) when the edits come in. Overall there are less kill fees which unfortunately don’t even have their own budget lines anymore. We absorb that cost out of the real budget, so it’s crucial things go right the first time. In addition to better communication, I think the process is expedited with fewer people involved. I can get back to a photographer who is on set with direct, immediate feedback. They aren’t stuck waiting as long as they would with the workflow of a traditional art department. Also, when pre shoot problems pop up I can generally get back to them within a few hours as opposed to the next day which was often the case before.
It obviously isn’t all roses. Make no mistake, there wouldn’t be a blog of this name if photo editors’ weren’t crucial to most magazines. I’m stretched extremely thin. I’m used to working ahead, but now it isn’t uncommon to be working on 4-5 issues at once every day. The time needed for photo research is greatly reduced. I love having tried and true photographers, but I miss having the time to dig deeper and find younger photographers with a completely fresh and inspiring outlook on the assignments. I feed off of their excitement and hunger. The time spent designing is the time most sacrificed. I can always pull an all nighter to lay out a feature, but I can’t stay up all night and magically produce all of the photos. So the time spent photo directing is more important for me to focus on in most cases.
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I see you have some international coverage, how are you sourcing those photographers in such remote places?
For Dario Pegoretti story, we needed him shot in his small studio in the middle of nowhere in Italy for that issue. This stuff is probably another day in the life of a regular photo editor, but it obviously takes more research and logistical communication than the average shoot. I basically scoured through Wired Italia for the coolest portraits and found Max&Douglas who lived somewhat close. They absolutely fell in love with Dario and produced some great photographs. Again, nothing crazy for a photo editor, but a huge victory in my position with such limited resources.
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What’s your approach to the overall photo direction of the magazine?
The photo direction is identical to the design direction which is identical to the editorial direction. Everything at BICYCLING is about being exciting, fun, fit, authentic and real. Ideally the photography will contain most of those attributes, but as long as the photo nails at least one of those descriptions we are good, but it has to really nail it. I am most intrigued by authentic and real. Bicycling photography can go really wrong really quick. You may have a really authentic looking person to shoot, but then they put on their outfit, then a helmet, then sunglasses and suddenly that person is reduced to a storm trooper…zero individuality. We have found tattoos and beards go a long way, thank you hipsters! The lighting and processing plays a huge role in the overall direction. When I first started I really did a 180 and completely got away from the high key, edge lit, over sharpened look and went really low fi in an attempt to feel more real. I think the result was a little underwhelming, and though it felt real/raw, it lacked an energy and excitement. I realized there still needs to be enough punch, just the right amount of polish and authentic environments make all the difference. That is the direction we strive for now. VSCO alone can’t solve all of our problems.
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How do you approach gear differently?
Gear is less about the environment and lends itself to more to studio photography which is quite unlike the rest of the magazine. We try to show gear in a very practical, utilitarian way that best illustrates why we feel the need to showcase it in the first place. Bicycling gear definitely evolves over time, but month to month, year to year, the changes appear very minimal. We are often shooting the same things over and over so I try to focus first on how can we best show what is being written about rather than thinking style and lighting first. We work closely with the editors to get a feel for what matters most. Then we go full blown “bike porn” and shoot whatever we think looks the coolest and try to get as close as we can to it. Most often that is what ends up in print, but we still listen to the editors. Also, we take full advantage of provided photography from the companies when available. I figure they have spent a lot more money than we could ever afford on these products. Bonus: they often even come with clipping paths! We have a small but scrappy art department that can comp a lot of provided shots together, add shadows and make it feel like a highly produced editorial page. This allows us to produce and afford our larger shoots.
Gear covers have an entirely different approach to the rest of the magazine. Full disclosure, I cannot get enough ring light for a bicycle cover. I feel embarrassed when I ask photographers to dust off their ring lights, but I honestly think they were made to shoot bikes in studio. Plus there are so many bikes in the advertisements and I have yet to see one shot that way, so it’s really a distinctively editorial look.
What’s the hardest part of doing a single subject title?
BICYCLING requires a direction that clearly separates editorial from advertising. We show people riding bikes and gear. The advertisements are of people riding bikes and gear. Luckily editorial trends and advertising trends usually tend to be the opposite. Cycling advertising is starting to look less produced though so I may have to rethink everything.
Regardless of the direction though, a bicycle can only fit on a 8.5” x 11” page or 17” x 11” spread so many ways. It’s extremely tough to get creative shooting bikes without sinking into a really bad conceptual idea that, at the end of the day, doesn’t even show off the bike that well. This probably has a lot to do with my ring light fetish.
What is your favorite section to design and favorite to photo direct?
I love designing a good profile feature. At previous magazines I would do around 2 every issue. Here it’s closer to 1 every three issues, so I really appreciate them when they come along. My favorite section to photo direct would be the one that requires that doesn’t require direction. That section is slowly in the making, but my goal is to have photographers shooting what they would want to be shooting anyway. I know that sounds cliche, but I really believe there is a bicycling photo culture growing in way similar to skateboarding or surfing. When you have people shooting what they love, their submissions are far better than what I could assign or direct and truly capture everything we want the magazine to be. I am also fortunate to work with editors that see the value in that and are encouraging an art first approach to our features. Hint: please send me awesome stuff.
How often do you ride? if at all?
I ride frequently now. I never did until this job, but I have drank the kool-aid and now I have closet full of tights.
What are you looking for your portraits and riding shots?
I want portraits that draw the reader in and make them spend time with it without realizing it. Something intimate that goes beyond style, but is more about the connection between the photographer and the subject. That connection gets passed on to the reader. For riding shots I’m looking for something with a more voyeuristic feel. The rider should be a real cyclist, not a model. I want the environment to be as much of a character as the rider. These  shots should inspire me to want to ride by making it look like fun, an adventure, not necessarily a workout.
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There’s a nice range to your covers in both gear, scenics and riding, is that a new direction for the title? I remember it always being riders on the cover ( and gear of course )
It is a new direction, one that is closer to what we have been doing inside the magazine. I have never wanted the magazine to exclusively feel like a fitness magazine, but rather an enthusiast magazine where getting fit is a great result of cycling, but not the sole purpose. The overly aggressive solo rider taking up the entire cover gives off a very intense, heavy, serious vibe which isn’t who we are.
What’s the best way for photographers to get in touch with you?

Snow Monkeys & Hokkaido 2015 Tour #1 Part 2 (Podcast 460)

This week we complete our two part series to walk through 24 photos from the first of my two Japan Snow Monkeys & Hokkaido winter wonderland wildlife tours for 2015. As you’ll hear today, the weather gave us some unique challenges on this tour, but as usual we handled the situation, had an amazing time, and came away with some beautiful photos.

Use this audio player if you’d prefer to listen:

Audio MP3

There are also download and subscription options at the end of the post.

We finished last week in the middle of day six, when we were back with the Red-Crowned Cranes, as there was falling snow, which always makes the crane shots much more beautiful, and the cranes themselves are generally more excited when it snows, giving rise to spontaneous group dancing, as you can see in this photo (below). It’s often quite difficult to isolate just one or two cranes that dance or call, but when they are almost all dancing in a group like this, it’s hard to resist grabbing a shot or two.

Cranes' Party

Cranes’ Party

Not only does the snow clean up the ground, but having snow in the air really reduces the shot down to much more minimal elements, as it makes the background much cleaner too. I also like how there’s that one crane on the right that is looking distinctly out of sorts, like someone at a party that is a bit afraid to dance with the rest of the group.

In this next photo (below), a flock of Whooper Swans was flying in, or back

Whooper Swans Fly Over
Sky Full of Swans
Ezo Deer Dignity
Fumaroles
Ural Owl Pair
Ural Owls in Tree
Steller's Sea Eagle at Work
Surveying the Waves
White-Tailed Eagle at Work
Winter Birches
White Oshinkoshin Falls
Snow Monkeys & Hokkaido Tours
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ImageBrief: A scourge on the photographic industry

In May of 2011, self-proclaimed "…world's first crowd-sourced image library…" launched. Since then, their speculation-based model of soliciting work has eroded the value of assignment-based photography and diminished the overall value of photography in the process. In 2007, Photo Business News published this article "nOnRequest - This is Not Your Father's 'Agency'" where we outlined the failing idea of a "custom stock" business model. PBN wasn't alone in this perspective. Photo District News, in an article titled "Revolutions that never happened" took a similarly dim view of the model, writing "Sometimes bad ideas take care of themselves. OnRequest Images never backed down from custom stock, but the idea was hard to explain and held little appeal to art buyers...Another custom stock service, iStockPhoto.com's BuyRequest, also failed to capture much interest and was quietly discontinued last year." A few weeks later, on stage at Continue reading "ImageBrief: A scourge on the photographic industry"

ImageBrief: A scourge on the photographic industry

In May of 2011, self-proclaimed "…world's first crowd-sourced image library…" launched. Since then, their speculation-based model of soliciting work has eroded the value of assignment-based photography and diminished the overall value of photography in the process. In 2007, Photo Business News published this article "nOnRequest - This is Not Your Father's 'Agency'" where we outlined the failing idea of a "custom stock" business model. PBN wasn't alone in this perspective. Photo District News, in an article titled "Revolutions that never happened" took a similarly dim view of the model, writing "Sometimes bad ideas take care of themselves. OnRequest Images never backed down from custom stock, but the idea was hard to explain and held little appeal to art buyers...Another custom stock service, iStockPhoto.com's BuyRequest, also failed to capture much interest and was quietly discontinued last year." A few weeks later, on stage at the Microsoft Pro Photographers Summit held on the Microsoft campus in Redmond Washington, we posed the question about the problems with OnRequest and their "custom stock" model. The head of OnRequest, David Norris, said "that model was interesting, but didn't pan out." We wrote about this in a follow-up piece titled "OnRequest - Realizing the Obvious". I remain convinced that these people are following through on my anti-maxim "don't let common sense get in the way of a good idea." ImageBrief published quotes from their clients that appeared on the website around their launch such as "We've used ImageBrief for our ad campaigns and have had great results every time" but when we followed up with this user, he responded to our inquiry saying he'd used the website twice by that time and that "it was just much easier for us to pick from a tailored Continue reading "ImageBrief: A scourge on the photographic industry"

This Week In Photography Books: Sugimoto/Misrach

by Jonathan Blaustein

I’ve been watching a lot of John Wayne movies lately. I was always a Clint Eastwood guy, so I’d never really understood the Duke, until recently. It’s stupefying to discover the way one man stood as a symbol for an entire nation.

John Wayne captures the rough, charismatic, violent and patriarchal vibe that permeated the US in the post-WWII years. If his middle name were actually Manifest Destiny, would anyone really be surprised?

He led with his big, hamhock fists, and we all needed to trust that he knew what he was doing. He was John Wayne, after all, a facade built upon poor Marion Morrison, just as our fair country was crafted upon the bones of a conquered race.

I even read a quote in which Mr. Wayne said he had no problem with the fact that America stole all this land, because the Native Americans weren’t using it properly. For real. I read that. (Though in our suspicious Internet age, I guess that doesn’t mean he said it.)

I was discussing my newfound fascination with a friend of mine just after Christmas. Iván was my professor in graduate school, and he studied film at NYU. He agreed that John Wayne represented America during it’s reign as the big-swinging-dick-World-Power, but suggested he had been supplanted by another fictional hero for the post-Vietnam era: Forrest Gump.

We had a good giggle at first, because it’s hard to even believe how much everyone cared about Forrest back in the nineties. (Run, Forrest, Run.) But afterwards, he said he was dead serious. Forrest was a bumbling, compromised, win-by-the-skin-of-your-teeth, trust-in-the-luck-of-the-Universe kind of guy. Nobody thought he was a real superhero, but he managed to turn out OK.

These days, Forrest Gump seems quaint to the point of irrelevance. We like our heroes ironic and snarky, like Robert Downey Jr, beefy and dim, like Channing Tatum, or not-even-American, like Chris Hemsworth and Michael Fassbender. And as for Forrest, he’s been relegated to the cultural dustbin.

He did leave us with a few words to live by though, didn’t he? “Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get.”

How can you argue with Forrest on that one? You can’t. Especially when, like me, you’ve just opened up a plastic sleeve to find “Assignment No. 2: Sugimoto/Misrach: San Quentin Prison,” published by TBW books in Oakland.

My first thought was very 21st C: WTF?

You find what looks like an institutional file folder, replete with a water stain up top, and a red ink smudge closer to the bottom. It sits there, that red ink stain, judging me. The more I look at it, the more it resembles a tornado.

Open it up, and the left side has a succession of names, including those two aforementioned art stars. Then, on the right, we see a statement claiming that an essay, to follow, was written by a prisoner in San Quentin named Michael Nelson. Whatever we’re to read was apparently written while he was in solitary confinement.

They had my attention all along, but now my eyebrows have stood at attention like a Guantanamo prison guard. What are we about to see, I wonder. And will it be filled with facts about the tragic, embarrassing incarceration rate in this country? It is to be an essay that makes us question how such a dilemma came to pass?

No. Not at all.

Flip out again, and you’re staring a sheet of lined, yellow paper, with text handwritten in blue ink. Or so it seems. I’ve seen enough photobooks to know that it’s a high grade reproduction, but still, it’s interesting.

The flap on the righthand side states that all the proceeds of this publication will go to support the prison education programs that spawned this project. Things begin to fall into place.

The first page of the essay is a letter, in which Mr. Nelson apologizes for missing class, as he cannot attend in his current circumstance. He wonders if he’ll be able to achieve full credit, while locked up by himself in what must be some form of hell.

Again, can I get a WTF?

Open the last two flaps, and we see a reproduction of a famous Sugimoto picture from his movie theater series, and a photo of a drive-in movie theater screen from Misrach’s seminal “Desert Cantos” work. We’re looking at two examples of seminal work from the 20th Century.

Flip up the first page of the yellow-paper-stack, and we find a thoughtful, well-written essay that compares and contrasts the two images. It’s a copy of an actual prison class assignment from 2011.

Wow.

I’ve seen a lot of things in my day, and a lot of books in the 3.5 years that I’ve been writing this column. But I’ve never seen anything like this.

The essay is smart, but takes a turn towards poignant when Mr. Nelson alludes to his own situation in life. The metaphor of a world changing beyond recognition, seen in the pictures, also seems well-chosen, for someone living on the inside.

At the end, we get a page that explains a bit more about Mr. Nelson’s background. Jailed for murder at 15, 17 years into a 25 year sentence. Like many a good Bay Area liberal, he’s found himself working within the system to help others.

His info is followed by straight bios for Mr. Misrach, Mr. Sugimoto, and Mr. Dertinger and Ms. Poor, who both teach at CSU Sacramento, and work with prisoners as well. It was a rare mis-step, I thought, the conventional bio page in a production this original. Good information to have, of course, and smartly placed, when your curiosity is at its peak…but then, we all have bios. (One more piece of PR that makes us feel like we’re products to be bought and sold, in lieu of our prints and services.)

Regardless, I hate to quibble, as this is a very inspiring piece of work. Definitely one to buy, as your money will serve others, and this feels like something rare that people will look back on, down the line.

Bottom Line: Incredibly innovative production

To Purchase “Assignment No. 2: Sugimoto/Misrach: San Quentin Prison” Visit Photo-Eye

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

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

The Art of the Personal Project: Jeremiah Stanley

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

Dennis Muren on Lighting

The all-important chrome ball of computer graphics.

The all-important chrome ball of computer graphics.

I was seduced by the chrome ball.

My first job in Visual Effects was at Industrial Light and Magic. I struggled to learn the technical aspects of the job, but my first success at the company was artistic—Dennis Muren liked my lighting.

The first shot I lit and composited at ILM, in 1995.

The first shot I lit and composited at ILM, in 1995.

Dennis Muren was, of course, a hero to me, and so this meant a lot. Every morning, sitting in Casper dailies with him, was surreal to me. Here I was, having my work critiqued by someone I’d idolized since I was old enough to read about how my favorite movies were made.

In the years since, I’ve often accused some in the visual effects industry of resorting to a ton of science to avoid using a pinch of art.

But even I have been guilty of this. I went through a phase of being slavish to the process of HDR lighting. That’s the thing where you photograph multiple exposures of a chrome ball (there are other ways, but the chrome ball was the most common for a long time), combine them into an HDR image, and then unwrap it into a spherical texture map. The result is a record of the actual light intensities falling on the location of the ball, in 360 degrees. And you can use it to automatically light an object.

Click through for a complete tutorial on capturing, and lighting with, an HDR light map.

Click through for a complete tutorial on capturing, and lighting with, an HDR light map.

The problem with doing this on a movie set is that the lighting you are slavishly capturing isn’t worth anything. It’s an an invisible accident hovering in the air somewhere near (if you’re lucky) someone’s artistic lighting work. As I wrote in my foreword to Mark Christiansen’s After Effects compositing book Continue reading "Dennis Muren on Lighting"

Snow Monkeys & Hokkaido 2015 Tour #1 Part 1 (Podcast 459)

This week we start a two part series to walk through 24 photos from the first of my two Japan Snow Monkeys & Hokkaido winter wonderland wildlife tours for 2015. As you’ll hear next week, the weather gave us some unique challenges on this tour, but as usual we had an amazing time, and came away with some pretty cool photos.

Use this audio player if you’d prefer to listen:

Audio MP3

There are also download and subscription options at the end of the post.

We started our tour with a three day visit to the adorable Snow Monkeys, which are a three hour drive north-west of Tokyo, in our chartered bus. Although it was unseasonably warm, with temperatures floating around freezing point, there was still a good covering of recent snow on the hillside beside the hot spring bath in which the monkeys bath.

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Here is one of my favourite shots from this visit (below), with this snow monkey just sitting, in a wonderfully human pose, and also with what I consider a great expression on their face. I just love the wrinkles on this older monkey’s face, and that distant gaze which makes me feel that they’re deep in thought about whatever it is that monkeys think about.

Sitting Easy

Sitting Easy

I also  really like how it’s difficult to figure out what’s going off with the monkey’s right hand. At first glance, it’s as though the monkey has their right hand resting on their leg, but with the angle of their right arm, unless the have

The Bity Game
Honing In on Prey
Cranes Silhouette
Frosty Morning Cranes
Red-Crowned Crane Flyover
The Swoop
Black Kite with Fish
Cranes in Motion
Cranes' Flight
Uhmm?
Love Call
Snow Monkeys & Hokkaido Tours
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Megapixel Outbreak

Samsung has announced a super-compact APS-C camera, the 28-megapixel NX500, that shoots 4K video and costs $800 with a kit lens.

Meanwhile, Canon has announced the full-frame 5DS (and a variant without an OLPF called the 5DS R). Their big feature is 50.6 megapixel resolution, but not only do they max out at 1080p video, they’ve been stripped of the 5D Mark III’s perfunctory microphone headphone port and HDMI output.

No pre-order yet, but B&H has prices already. The 5DS is set at $3,699, and the 5DS R will be $3,899.

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So, just to be clear, Canon charges you ¼ the cost of a 4K video camera to remove a thin plastic film from the sensor of your 1080p camera that’s all about resolution.

I know there are a few people who need crazy high resolution (and far more who think they do), but I’m not one of them. I’ve been having a blast shooting stills with my 12.2MP full-frame Sony a7S, having picked up a razor-sharp, if rather unsexy, 35mm F2.8 lens for it. Here’s an example—click through to see it at full-res, along with a few more shots.

So, just to be clear again, while Samsung has an interesting new 28MP camera and Canon has new 50.6MP cameras, I’m currently being distracted from shooting stills with my 22.3MP DSLR by my 12.2MP mirrorless that I bought for video.

Comparative image sizes of the cameras mentioned in this post. From outside to in, 5DS at 50.6MP, NX500 at 28MP, 5D Mark III at 22.3MP, and Sony s7S at 12.2MP.

Comparative image sizes of the cameras mentioned in this post. From outside to in, 5DS at 50.6MP, NX500 at 28MP, 5D Mark III at 22.3MP, and Sony s7S at 12.2MP.

NAB is two months away. It’s a terrible time to buy a camera.

But that new Canon 11–24 F4 looks pretty cool.

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Update 2015-02-06

Thanks to Continue reading "Megapixel Outbreak"

Magic Bullet Suite 12

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I believe that color correction is an essential part of filmmaking that can increase production value, elevate a consumer camera to a cinematographer’s tool, and communicate a filmmaker’s emotional intent.

I believe this kind of color work can be both massively powerful, and yet still be non-technical and fun.

I believe this powerful, creative color work should be integrated into the filmmaking process. It should be available to filmmakers on limited budgets, and editors with clients who never seem able to lock the cut, or move a deadline.

This is why we made Magic Bullet. And these beliefs have never been more a reality than with Magic Bullet Suite 12.

All New Magic Bullet Looks

We completely redesigned the interface for Magic Bullet Looks 3.0, and I personally created 198 all-new presets, built with brand new tools like the Colorista Tool, the 4-Way Color Corrector, and the powerful Shadows/Highlights tool. These new presets reflect modern film sensibilities and techniques, and look great on footage from any camera, thanks to a new Color Space tool.

As always, Looks is a place where you choose and design the overall look of your project or scene. It works great on an Adjustment Layer, stretched across several shots. It’s color correction plus a lot more, like diffusion, flares, vignettes, and simulations of real camera phenomena, like distortion, chromatic aberration, and real, measured film stocks.

With Looks, our goal is to get you close to the finish line with a preset, but also to inspire you to make the look your own. We've made numerous small workflow changes to make that easier than ever before.

A Simpler, More Powerful Colorista

Colorista III is simpler, more powerful, and more integrated into your editing process than ever. We dropped our custom Power Mask features, because

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