Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sagmeister the Type Meister

Stefan Sagmeister has vision. Enough vision for a bank to fly him and a film crew around the world to make an incredibly beautiful, expensive, hand crafted commercial based on the concept of his environmental typography. 

This is encouraging stuff.  I like when big companies go the extra mile to make something beautiful.  Enough words, here are some picrtures:

And here is the man himself, talking process and craft, along with a look (you guessed it) behind the scenes:

There's a ton more BTS stuff over here. Thanks to PFSK for the find...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Office Death!

"The next time you are on a vacation, or picnic -- relax....smile. And have a friend take your picture.  Put this picture on your desk at work, and the next time you start to feel stressed out, look at this photo, and relax."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Banksy film opens this Friday

Banksy's new film Exit Through the Gift Shop opens this Friday.  The NYT did a piece on it that captures the hilarious irony and subversiveness of his work.   

No one seems to know if this film is "real" or not, which is pretty amazing.   Not to mention that Banksy is using money from the art world to poke fun at it.  Even more amazing.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stills to Film -- One great way to do it

Finally saw Up In the Air, which was great.  But the opening credits totally blew me away:

Stunning photography of a simple concept, beautifully designed and edited, with just enough movement to keep it interesting.  This is the kind of motion work I'd love to do.  Awesome!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Luxury 2.0

Saw this post on Seth Godin's blog about how the idea of luxury is being redefined.  People that have a lot of money to spend are now less interested in the biggest / fastest / shiniest, and more interested in things that are made by hand, one at a time, requiring a massive amount of time and skill to complete. 

I like the idea of people buying things that are unique and will last a long time.  Yvon Chouinard advocated this philosophy in his book Let My People go Surfing: Buy the best quality products you can afford so that they will last as long as possible, hopefully the rest of your life.

On a related note, I just finished a shoot at the Moots factory in Steamboat Springs.  They make some of the best handmade titanium bikes in the world, and they sell for north of $3000 (frame only).  They make less than 1000 frames per year.  After taking a tour of the factory (and asking a million questions) I was truly inspired.

I've been trying to think of my work in a similar way.  I want to do more work that is collaborative in nature, and is focused on crafting, revising, and perfecting a single image, taking it to a level that is really unique and difficult for others to replicate.   Mark Zibert is really, really good at this.

This top 1% of the craft is where the real value is, and will increasingly be in commercial photography.  Nowadays the other 99% can be done by almost anyone

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to Land Assignment Work***

 *** Or at least how it seems to work for me.

I just shot my first job for Mens' Journal.  I have been trying to get work with MJ for a long time, and it's always a great feeling when the phone rings and the marketing efforts have paid off.

Here is a rough idea of what went into getting that one job (which is for a single page, btw, not a feature):

3 visits to NY over 3 years to meet one-on-one with the Photo Editor.
2 stock submissions for possible usage (neither were used)
3-4 years worth of Modern Postcard mailers, 3-4 times year.
4 hand typed, one of a kind cards with custom prints, mailed to her attention.
A bunch of email promos, expensive ads in Archive, AtEdge, etc, etc, etc.

Then I sent her a short email with some jpegs from my recent trip to Spain, and she emails back to see if I'm available to shoot that week.

After years of pursuing work, I've learned that there is no silver bullet.  Marketing is one part Chinese Water Torture, one part Manners, one part Timing, and one or two parts Luck.  The first three you can control, but the fourth is tricky. 

The ultimate goal is to have your promo land on the desk of the photo editor / AD / AB / GD at the exact moment that they need someone with the skills you are presenting.  It takes a lot of work before these intersections start to happen.

The good thing is, once you have the job, you can control the quality of the product you deliver, and the service you provide.  If you do a kick ass job on the first one, the next one should come more easily.  Then you just hope they call back again and again so you can begin to pay for all the marketing it took to get you there.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

4444 X 55555

I was talking to my photog friend Matthew Turley a few months back about 4x5 cameras.  He is a master of the format, and makes big, beautiful, pictures that I wish I had made.  I've never owned a 4x5, but am getting more interested in them as the digital workflow accelerates and becomes closer to real time.  It just seems like a great compliment to shooting everything digitally.   Slow, crafty, thoughtful vs. fast, instant, loose.

At some point in our conversation I recall saying how much I'd love to hit the road with a 4x5 and shoot landscapes, one sheet at a time, but that my life just feels too hectic for that to be a reality, with two young kids, a house remodel, and trying to stay afloat in the current economy.

A week later a plain brown box shows up on my doorstep.  Inside is a Graflex SpeedGraphic 4x5 camera and 10 sheets of neg film, along with detailed, hand-drawn directions on how to run the thing:

I spend literally 30 minutes just looking at it -- and trying to locate the secret button that opens it.  Eventually I find it and the inner workings of the SpeedGraphic are revealed.  It's a hand held camera with a focal plane shutter (up to 1/1000 sec!) rangefinder focusing, and a big piece of beautiful ground glass on the back.  

To be honest it's a bit intimidating, as if an amazing camera deserves an amazing subject.  The first thing I thought to do was take a picture of it (above) b/c it was just so cool looking.

I took it along on a recent editorial shoot, but it was sleeting sideways, so it never came out.  This morning, I shot two sheets at an empty car dealership by my studio.  I love the handicraft and how precious the film feels.  I found myself really taking extra time to study the compostion and fine tune everything.   We'll see how it turns out, or if it even turns out at all.

Thanks Matthew, that was very cool of you, and some much needed medicine....