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Monday, November 15, 2010

Roberto De Luna's "Lost Weekend"

I met Roberto De Luna when he agreed to be on an APA panel I was organizing. A gifted photo editor, Roberto has always been a photographer first and foremost. In this, his first show at the Michael Mazzeo Gallery, he presents "Lost Weekend," a show of his 100 Polaroids that delves into the idea of memory.

"Typically accepted as an accurate and truthful photographic record, the Polaroid print functions here as mnemonic device, a vernacular tool with which lost memories are re-experienced, reshuffled, and reconstituted into new mythologies."

There will be an opening reception on Thursday, November 18 from 6pm - 8pm.
Michael Mazzeo Gallery
526 W. 26 St.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Reviewers Review the Free ASMP Portfolio Review

Monday night was the free, ASMP commercial portfolio review and there was quite a turnout of both reviewers and photographers. I enjoy doing reviews as it gives me a chance to see new work, and also, hopefully, offer some perspective. I usually see people I know and the entire evening is very enjoyable. That said, it was stranger for me this year than last. I saw fewer photographers (but then I’m not as valuable a commodity as an art buyer or magazine editor), and the noise level really affected me this year. As freelance photo editor Lindsay Blatt said, “It was really loud in that studio space, and I had a hard time hearing.”

I asked reviewers for their opinions in order to gauge their feelings, and thought I’d also bring you some of their suggestions on how to make it even better next year.

Joe Pritchard, a freelance photo rep said he like the structure and the fact that it was free for members. “What I would like to see is a larger space, as it tends to get very loud and difficult at times to hear people and to focus on what they are talking about and showing you.”

Julie Grahame, editor-in-chief, aCurator magazine wondered if “we could include a couple of successful photographers as reviewers next year.”

For Patrick Cunningham of Photolibrary, “It was fun, enjoyable, and social. Thanks for the candy. I really liked helping both the newbie’s and seasoned professionals. Everybody needs a fresh perspective sometime.”

Photography consultant Louisa Curtis said, “I think it was perhaps too close to PPE as there were more portfolio review events at PPE this year. The signs above each chair only said the person's name and not their company – that made it hard to identify people. There were too many reviewers and not enough photographers”

“I know that my colleagues in the corner tables did not get to see as much work as I did,” said Jessica Moon, senior visual content editor, online specialist, Scholastic, Inc.

And Anna G. Dickson, photo editor, Clear Channel Radio - Digital said, “I thought the event went well, although I did not feel there were enough timers for the reviewers. It was hard to hear the timer and after the very first review, I was on my own with time and I'm SURE that I went over 15 minutes several times.”

Monica Suder, creative coach, consultant and curator, “found the noise level very hard and was hoarse by 9PM.”

Wini Alcorn, business affairs manager, Coca-Cola-MCCANN ERICKSON,| thought “it would have been helpful to have someone using a BELL for the whole space to time the meetings, instead of individual timers per table. Those were annoying as they went off throughout the event. I think it would also streamline the event to have people all move at the same time to a new table, instead of waiting in lines.”

When asked about the quality of the work they had seen, and if anything was really special, Anna G. Dickson said, “The overall quality of the work was very good, and most, although not all people seemed open to constructive criticism

Patrick Cunningham: “I was most impressed by Ian Spanier’s portraits and lifestyle, as well as Bruce Katz’ food images.
Whitney Tressel of Hearst “loved Carl Wooley, Chad Hunt, and Peter Riesett's work the best.”

Jessica Moon had this to say about what she had seen: “Ashok Sinha – STUNNING! James Leynse – Curious, intriguing, wonderful! Stephen Mallon – lovely.”

Wini Alcorn: “Of the people I met, most of them were very talented. That is a huge step up from other events like these where usually the overall work is mediocre. Loved Mimi Ko, Erin Patrice O’Brien and Chad Springer.

Joe Pritchard felt that “many of the photographers need the support of creative consultants and branding help. I am finding that the photographers are so worried about making money and trying to jump into this so fast that they are not presenting themselves and their work properly. Also as we know photographers are some of the worst when editing there own work.” I would have to agree with that general assertion.

Mike Hartley of Big Flannel was pretty candid in his assessment, saying, “The quality of the work was on average higher than I expected. I am rarely wowed and was not on this evening. I am falsely of the belief my work sells itself, and so were many of the photographers. We should both being trying harder I think.”

Most of the responding reviewers said socializing with other reviewers was an important aspect of participating. Wini Alcorn thought, “perhaps a cocktail hour/mixer BEFORE the event starts (in a separate room) for people to say hi and chat before getting down to business would b better. “I also think name tags would be helpful for both photogs and reviewers.”

Jessica Moon found this year’s music “very cerebral and the party following the review missed an opportunity for revelry. Everybody was starving by then end,” she added.

And Wini Alcorn suggested having, “a 10 minute break to get up and stretch for the reviewers—a bathroom break.”

I would say that I saw most of the work on iPads that evening, and while it’s a fun toy at this point, I found the reflective screen very distracting. I know there are specific iPad apps for showing your work as a porfolio, and I think if that’s what you want to do, you should invest in the best technology. Always consider the chance for a portfolio review (or even casually showing your work) to be a professional situation, and to that end, be professional in how you present your work.

RepAudrie Lawrenceof Levine and Leavitt though that “50% of what I looked at was on iPad. I like seeing work on an iPad in equal measure to a well printed book. Since there is a serious drive toward photographers also doing double duty as directors I feel like having an iPad is an asset. I also think that photography can look really great on an iPad. That said, I do still really love the overall experience of looking at a well-printed book and would prefer that photographers have a regular printed portfolio along with an iPad to show additional work and video.”

Monica Suder added that, “iPads are good for some things. I came across a wonderful book and exhibition project on the Spirit of Tea in China and the images worked great on the iPad (by photographer Matthew London).

Jessica Moon is “happy to see work by any means necessary. iPad, whatever, it doesn’t matter. Next year I hope to see more iPads....”

Lindsay Blatt said, “I still like books, it shows some commitment to what you are doing. People using digital devices seemed flippant in their image selections.”

And Witney Tressel prefers “portfolio books or loose prints. I work for a print magazine so I want to see prints. I had a couple iPads but I don't prefer it, it's deceiving how good the quality is.”

Mike Hartley: “I looked at two portfolios on iPads. I generally prefer any process that engages me with technology. It feels contemporary and of the future. I do this realizing there may be a compromise involved (lack of size and resolution when looking at a screen relative to a print for example). I felt with the iPad, the compromise is still too large for it to be used as a primary portfolio. It worked for me when it was used in support of a primary portfolio, to show a 'hot off the press' project, or an archived project. However, it's an expensive object to achieve this and I think at best it is a useful (and unnecessary) toy in its current state.

“Don't get me wrong,” he continued. “Tthe possibility of touching and sharing a screen is a wonderful one, but the practical experience is so far lacking and the debate about its use seems to focus more on Apple's divisive marketing practice, and whether we can afford to not look like we embrace everything they sell us, rather than any fitness for purpose.”

“I was asked what I prefer and said print but ended up looking at both,” said Julie Grahame. “For me, the iPad is OK, for example, to show a single body of work that you haven't printed or edited yet. Like a kind of oh, by the way, I'm working on this--Robert Hooman's Eddie Adams project was the perfect example.”

“It has a tendency to make one feel stupid,” she continued. “I don't know how to navigate whatever it is you're showing me your images on, it's awkward, and as Ilene (Bellovin) said to me today, we've been trained to not touch the screen!”

top: Joe Mondello
bottom: Frank Rocco

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Final Word on PhotoPlus Expo

Last week was the photo circus that is PhotoPlus Expo here in New York with high points (the Sony party) and low points (the naked women at the PDN party) and lots in between. I went to the Lucie Awards for the first time to support my friend Jason Florio who was chosen People Photographer of the Year and up for the International Photographer of the Year award. He wuz robbed.

Maybe it's a California thing that I can't relate to, but for me it was a ridiculous exercise in fluff, and not a part of the photo community here at all.

Then it was three days straight at the Javits Center and I'm sure everyone has read our blog posts from there. I want to thank Andrea Fischman, Sari Goodfriend, Helen Jones and Jason Florio for all their work. But honestly people, PhotoPlus Expo has really become an event for the amateur photographer--the Prosumer photographer. There were definitely some great seminars, and things to learn, but those seminars offering ways to be successful seemed to fall far from the mark. The panelists were without energy and offered no information except that old standby of working for free. I think we're all tired of that by now.

Just because someone is an expert doesn't mean they're a good speaker. There was a real lack of excitement and energy wherever I went. And why weren't there more up and coming stars talking and holding seminars? There is a real need for fresh, new blood--not the same old same old.

It was really telling to me that I didn't see very many people I know at the Javits. I'm sure it's because of money, and that's another reason I would suggest big changes to this annual event. It needs to be rethought and revamped for the way things are NOW. Or else, there will be something for the prosumer, and nothing for the professional photographer.

Will I blog again next year? I don't know. I came away a bit disheartened, glad to get back into what's going on here--going to openings, being on a panel, etc. I'm interested in contributing to the photography community and I'm always interested in finding ways that I can help. It's time again to get back to the problems of making a living. Last week didn't really help anyone with that.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Notes from the underground - moments in seminar history

Below ground, in the underbelly of the cavernous hull that is the Javits Center I found respite from the air-sucking crowds glued to the free seminars on 'how to pose your subjects' and the clambering consumers all racking the focus rings on every camera on display. The subterranean paid seminars are an intensive trip into some enlightening territory.

I was enthralled at the CGI manufactured world of advertising photographer Glenn Wexler who was on a panel to discuss "How to get work from ad agencies". The money just seemed to ooze from every pore of the discussion, with the very heart of it being how many hundreds of thousands YOU could make by creating images that would manipulate people to consume through visions of a plastic fantastic hyper-real existence.

The panel was made up of ad-agency art buyers--or as they are called these days 'art producers'--and top photo agents, moderated by ex-photo-agent maven Deborah Weiss, who enjoyed reminiscing about the glory days of the later part of the 20th century when ad agents were sipping gin martinis for breakfast, and lustfully seemed to be wishing that the characters of 'Mad Men' were still roaming the hallowed halls of NYC ad agencies--not hipsters in low-slung Silas jeans.

But good practical advice abounded for those snappers hoping to hit the Coca-Cola gravy train to a Skittles-colored world.

Across the hall, but on a different photo planet from the technicolored world of advertising photography, I sat in on two seminars hosted by the chaps from VII Photo agency: Ron Haviv, Ed Kashi, Karim Ben Khalifa, Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber, who had good, practical advice on working in multi-media . Ed Kashi said he saw himself as, "a coal miner, not a diamond polisher." He said photographers should reach out to those with great audio and editing to skills, if one does not have them, and seek collaboration from those experienced in sound and editing to create a final piece of professional quality.

Researching your story was the bedrock off what nearly everyone on the panel was saying. Think about what you want to say and who your audience is. Kashi said to not just think about getting the story into a magazine, but to use your journalism as advocacy, and create material others can use for positive change, whether they be NGO's , foundations, seats of learning etc. "Produce something bigger than yourself" was the ringing message that I left with.

In the diminished world of editorial assignments many of us have looked for ways to fund projects, and the panel's Karim Ben Khalifa has taken the KickStarter model of fund-raising and fused it into a place where people can support photographers to produce stories

Back across the hallway, Aurora Photo's Mr. Adventure, Corey Rich, was also on the multi-media platform. He gave an eloquent and practical account of his merger into multi-media over the last 10 + years. Corey has combines his love of the outdoors 100% into his work and is now pushing deeper into video productions using the Nikon DSLR cameras to shoot commercials (much to the chagrin of some camera operators he was shooting along side whose $50,000 Red Cams could not compete in the failing light of day). Corey keeps shooting while they retire to the bar.

Bouncing back to the second seminar run by VII Photo, I found myself at a seminar called "International Tool Kit" - I was in pig heaven. Ron Haviv went through a 28-point check list that every photojournalist should tick through before hitting the Hindu Kush. The top tips included:
1) Double up on everything.
2) Cash is king.
3) Always carry as much of your kit on the plane as possible so you can start work as soon as you touch down, even if your checked bag is delayed, and enlightened me to a camera bag system call Newswear.

English sports photographer Simon Bruty was also on the panel and uses the 6 P's rule before leaving for an international assignment - PROPER PREPARATION PREVENTS PISS POOR PERFORMANCE.

All good stuff.

Jason Florio

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Photoplus Expo 2010 has come to an end..

Photo Expo has once again come to a close. A crazy three day whirlwind of seminars, cameras, networking, BMX bikes and fun at the cavernous Javits Center, NYC!

Some fun things:

1. HDDSLR with Vincent Laforet seminar Thursday morning.
2. Free Black Rapid Strap giveaway if you recite something they tell you to say from their Twitter
3. The coffee in the press lounge
4. Seeing old friends and making new friends
5. The BMX ramp!!!!
6. Learning, learning, learning at the seminars and by talking to folks. Everyone was very generous with their time
7. The parties!

Some not as fun things:

1. The Javits Center
2. The fact that there was less space in the area they used in the Javits center, thus making
it almost impossible to walk down the showroom aisles. Check out my video to find out first hand accounts of the Expo.
3. The coffee in the press lounge!
4. It was sub degree temperatures in the seminar rooms
5. Some of the seminars were really not as good as other seminars. But I guess that's all subjective.

As I reflect on my first expo that I attended in 2002. I had just graduated from college and didn't really know anyone in the NYC photo industry. I feel as though I have made some large strides since then. DSLR camera's have also made some large strides. Now we have as many megapixels as we can dream off and we can shoot HD video with our DSLR cameras and we can actually afford these cameras!! They are not for the elite top photographers, they are for you and me and your parents too. I'm hopeful that next year I will be as impressed with the developments in HDDSLR cameras and that the prices tags will also make me equally happy.

Until next year!

-Andrea Fischman Digg it Facebook MySpace Slashdot Technorati Stumbleupon Twitter

An Observation from guest Alex Wright of Dripbook

Two keynote speakers, each looking the other way.

The two PhotoPlus Expo keynote speaker presentations by Chase Jarvis on Thursday and Albert Watson on Friday clearly presented the crossroads facing the photography industry today. The two talks couldn’t have been more different. Both are great photographers. Neither was wrong. But there was such a palpable difference between the two, and that difference is metaphoric of what we’re all experiencing around us in this industry today. The statue of the Roman god Janus looking both forward and backward comes to mind.

Albert Watson showed stunning images (that he endlessly apologized for the terrible presentation of via the projectors) and told equally stunning stories of his career. He talked of photographing a magazine cover in Paris, flying the Concorde to New York for a second shoot hours later, and ending the day at a third shoot in Los Angeles. He talked of 8x10 cameras. He talked of printing one of his books with an eight color offset press with two additional plates on two page signatures that kept the presses going nonstop for a month to complete the edition. The crowd in the room hung on every word, held its breath, and never wanted to admit the truly unpleasant truth that Albert Watson’s world is no more.

The same room the day before saw an entirely different keynote with Chase Jarvis dressed and pacing along the stage in an almost comedic interpretation of Tom Cruise’s motivational speaker character in the film Magnolia. Chase showed a slide depicting a diverging pathway with one direction labeled “Old shit?” and the other “New shit?” and proceeded to declare this the most exciting time to be a photographer in the history of history. Why? Because we can now control – or can take advantage of – the distribution channels. We can create and distribute images like never before. It’s not just about taking images, but about new distribution channels and new ways of sharing what we have rather than protecting it. Book project from an iPhone app. Tens of gazillions of people sharing information and images at light speed. Do and share and go forward and be creative and the rest will fall into order. At least for Chase it does.

But really, agree with Chase or not, the journey that Albert Watson experienced just isn’t an option anymore (as unpleasant for all of us as that is). And Chase’s seems like one of the only positive and possible paths forward presented right now. It seems that it is time to let that breath out and get moving. Digg it Facebook MySpace Slashdot Technorati Stumbleupon Twitter

Some views from Photo Plus Expo 2010

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