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June 23rd, 2016

LOOK3: Chris Morris on Shooting War, Fashion and Politics

The candid conversation between Christopher Morris and MaryAnne Golon at the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Viriginia, highlighted the varied paths Morris’s career has taken, from documenting conflict and politics to shooting fashion, and the struggles photographers face in a changing industry. Morris, a founding member of the VII photo agency and contract photographer for TIME Magazine since 1990, and Golon, a former photo editor at TIME and now the Assistant Managing Editor and Director of Photography at the Washington Post, “grew up together in the industry,” she said.

Mesmerized as a boy by photographs of soldiers and death emerging from the Vietnam War, Morris was first taught to use a camera by his stepmother. While visiting his father, who was based in the Philippines as a contractor, Morris witnessed the press photographing the POWs who had been held in North Vietnam returning to Clark Air Base. The seed of his desire to become a photojournalist was firmly planted.

“I was always in pursuit of the ultimate conflict photography, basically pursuing the man with the gun,” said Morris of the years he spent covering conflict. “Eventually I started to realize I was pursuing a bunch of idiots with a gun.”

In 2000, on his sixth trip covering the conflict in Chechnya, Morris was nearly killed. In that moment, he told the audience, he realized that he hadn’t taken any pictures of his two-year-old daughter. “It became crystal clear to me that I didn’t want to do [conflict photography] anymore, that it was a very selfish profession, a profession that was driven by my own internal desires of wanting to experience man at his worst,” said Morris.

Having covered scenes of violence in Croatia, Bosnia and Chechnya, he said, “I basically started to hate mankind.”

He showed photos of a man cut to shreds in his vegetable garden by a piece of metal falling from the sky, and 4-year-old boy with his throat slit open by shrapnel. Morris said, “These kind of pictures were more to shock my editors…it’s the stuff they won’t publish.”

Morris and Golon noted that magazines have to appeal to advertisers, “And they would never stand for some of these images to be published in the same place” as their ads, Golon noted.  Covering conflict “became my job, a way of paying my mortgage,” Morris said, “The pictures didn’t really change anything…In this country we sanitize war, we sanitize the true brutality of it.”

Morris told TIME he couldn’t cover war anymore. From 2000 to 2009, he was assigned to the White House. With editors from TIME in the room, he admitted that while on assignment he shoots 70 percent of his photos for himself and 30 percent for the client. “The problem with publications and media is that there is a certain product that they want and it does not usually fit what you want to carry on for your legacy,” Morris said. His solution? Once he felt he had want TIME needed, he made images for himself.

Morris said that the job as White House correspondent “terrified me because it was going to be photographing a man in a suit for the rest of my career.” He explained, “In conflict, we had such freedom, you go where you want, you wake up when you want, there’s no writer, there’s no editor, there’s no fixer. At the White House you’re told where to sit, where to stand, when to eat, when to go home, when to be there.”

An Italian fashion magazine contacted him around 2009 to shoot a story on retail store mannequins. “I thought well, I could photograph Republicans, so that’s how I got this.” He continued shooting fashion assignments for magazines and clothing companies for the next five years. Morris said, “the problem with this type of photography is that it goes against everything I had done in my career for 20 years. Everything is staged, everything is manipulated, everything is created, it’s the complete opposite of photojournalism, but I found it challenging and it was photography so I thought I would try it out.”

Today, Morris is primarily shooting celebrities: actresses Laetitia Casta and Selma Hayek, and the Princess of Monaco and her young family. Referring to the royal family, Morris said, “They brought me there to do their Christmas card, so now I’ve gone from war to being a baby photographer.”

“Are you always looking for a new way to see?” Golon asked near the end of the conversation. Morris said, “It’s like there are different ladders in life, if one isn’t working then I get on another.”

Of the work that first made his name and reputation, Morris said, “I still miss it. I still miss conflict photography.”

Speaking before an audience of photographers, Morris said, “I’m like everyone in this room trying to survive.” He said, “It’s an industry of constantly clinging on with your fingernails, finding jobs, having to wait 90 to 120 days to get people to pay, but I wouldn’t change it for anything because you’re not locked in an office. You see the world. You can hang with homeless people, you can hang with refugees, you can hang with presidents, you can hang with celebrities. There’s no other profession in the world that gives you that kind of life.”

What’s next for Morris? Golon asked. Without hesitation, he answered, “That’s a fantasy question, but I’d like to make a movie, a full documentary.”

—by Sarah Stacke

Related:
LOOK3: Doug Dubois on Creating Images “Based on a True Story”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 17th, 2015

Prints Under Pressure: Lindsay Adler’s Whirlwind Live Shoot

Presented by Canon

The dissemination of photography online has plenty of advantages, and the ability to visually communicate without barriers on the Web has become a monumental boon for contemporary photographers. But for fashion and beauty photographer Lindsay Adler, who does attribute much of her success to her online reach, printing her work still makes an impact unrivaled by any touchscreen.

On her blog, Adler writes: “[In person], viewers take their time exploring the image, appreciating the detail and interacting with art you’ve created. Seeing your images in print feels like taking the image to its final conclusion.”

Adler’s quote comes from her blog post about a live shoot, gallery show and panel she participated in earlier this fall, hosted by Canon. Adler’s vivid work was a perfect fit for the event, titled Behind The Print: A Look Inside A Photographer’s Obsession, which celebrated Canon’s launch of the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer. The two-day whirlwind event included a combined 24 hours of production, culminating in a 1.5-hour shoot in front of a live audience. Portrait photographer Joel Grimes and sports photographer David Bergman were also on set conducting their own shoots in front of the audience. Adler, who is comfortable working with big sets and multiple concepts, took on the project.

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A final image from the first live-shoot setup. Photo © Lindsay Adler

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The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 turning out Adler’s prints. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Adler

In an interview with Adler, she says, “I love clean, bold and graphic imagery that demand viewers’ attention. That’s what I aimed to create while showing the Pro-1000’s ability to show rich and saturated colors, shadow detail and fine detail.” After pitching different mood boards to Canon, Adler assembled her team, including hair and makeup artist Griselle Rosario, styling teams 4 Season Style Management and Ivie Joy Flowers and retoucher Tetyana Mykhalska.

In a typical shoot, Adler says she budgets several hours per shot to get the lighting, posing and concept right. For this event, she created 13 different looks over two 12-hour sessions. Then came the live shoot, for which hundreds of people were ushered in to watch Adler, Bergman and Grimes each construct sets, shoot and print work in less than two hours. Adler, who created two sets—one with an elaborate floral wall and one all-red-everything motif—had no room for error. Lighting, posing, image selection, retouching and printing all had to be achieved within the time frame.

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Behind the scenes of the first live-shoot setup. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Adler

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Behind the scenes of the second live-shoot setup. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Adler

“This event was as far opposite of [typical] conditions as possible,” she says. But the purpose it served was unique: viewers were invited to view all of the moving parts that go into a shoot from inception to print. The on-the-fly choices made by Adler and her team were accessible to the audience, highlighting the obsessive attention to detail that goes into production, right up to the prints made by the equally detail-oriented PRO-1000.

Communication was the foundation for this type of shoot. “If I failed to communicate concepts or ideas, the shot would have fallen flat—and we would have lost a lot of time trying to salvage it,” she explains. Adler recommends practice, practice, practice for shoots with little time and lots of pressure. Her mood board, which included inspiration for hair, makeup, wardrobe and lighting, became the shoot’s blueprint, keeping everyone visually on the same page.

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Lindsay Adler and her team on set selecting images for print. Photo courtesy of Lindsday Adler

No matter how much a photographer plans for a shoot, though, technology can sometimes throw a wrench into the works. But the PRO-1000, the final step in Adler’s shoot, kept humming along and making true-to-color prints. “I didn’t need to worry about the limitations of the printer,” Adler says. “I knew that if I captured rich colors, the printer would show them. If I wanted high contrast while maintaining details in the black—no problem.” And there was never a bottleneck, she says, calling the speed “lightning fast.”

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A final image from the second live-shoot setup. Photo © Lindsay Adler

Seeing her work hung on the gallery walls gave both the audience—and Adler—more appreciation for the level of detail she put in. And while she believes that social media is still an “incredibly powerful tool” for sharing her work, printing her photographs does justice to her meticulousness. “The two processes together—sharing images [online] and printing your favorite shots,” she explains, “are a powerful approach to appreciating and sharing your vision.”

September 30th, 2015

Lauren Dukoff on Production Skills and Creative Experimentation as Keys to Success

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Lauren Dukoff discussing her work during an Iris Night talk at Skylight Studios.

Long before Lauren Dukoff, the subject of the cover story in PDN‘s September issue, started shooting fashion stories for Vogue Japan, she had known for her music photography and portraits. She captured intimate, often candid images for Rolling Stone and Spin, shot the art for Adele’s album 21, and in 2009 published her book Family, based on her collection of behind-the-scenes and on-the-road images of her longtime friend Devendra Barnhart and the musicians with whom he collaborated. She found herself in recording studios, dressing rooms and intimate settings with artists she looked up to. “I felt so awkward in this private space, but with my camera, it was a kind of shield and it gave me a reason to be there,” Dukoff said in a recent lecture at the Skylight Studios, part of the Iris Nights lecture series run by the Annenberg Space for Photography. (The full video of Dukoff’s talk, “A Collaborative Path,” is archived on the Annenberg website. )

While Dukoff’s quiet approach to capturing unguarded moments might seem like an odd stepping stone to directing models in couture gowns and managing large productions, she told her audience at Skylight Studios that she got valuable training and encouragement while working in the studio of Autumn De Wilde. Dukoff had long admired De Wilde’s work and was happy to take on any job available. In time, she worked her way up from babysitter to studio manager, where she helped arrange productions, and learned “the nuts and bolts” of hiring a crew and looking after shoot logistics. While some young photographers “go the assistant route,” Dukoff said, learning production “was really valuable to me because I knew I wanted to be a commercial photographer.”

De Wilde also encouraged Dukoff to believe in the work she was shooting on her own time through collaborations with friends. By pursuing it, Dukoff says, “I was starting to build a visual identity of your own.”

As PDN‘s story explains, Dukoff moved from capturing in-between moments with musicians and other artists, to creating posed portraits, and then to collaborating with fashion stylists on celebrity portraits for magazines such as L’Uomo Vogue, Lula and Vanity Fair. Along the way, she also learned to shoot commercials by collaborating with experienced film crews. Like De Wilde, she has experimented with a variety of genres, to stretch herself creatively while also expanding her clientele.

“I find that as soon as I’m comfortable I think: I better figure something else out, because there’s so much more to do, there’s so much more to learn,” she told her audience. “I’m not saying you shouldn’t stay true to your style. But don’t be afraid to try things and expand.”

Dukoff spoke at the Iris Night lecture during the run of the “Emerging” exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography (curated by the editors of PDN). Other photographers in the “Emerging” show who shared how they found their voices, established their place in the photo world and navigated the photo business include Zun Lee, Olivia Bee, Corey Arnold and Bryan Derballa. All the videos of their talks can be found online at the Annenberg website.

Related Articles
Lauren Dukoff on Collaborating with Celebrities and Couture Designers

PDNVideo: Olivia Bee Talks About Instagram, iPhones, Expectations and Envy

New Perspectives: Emerging Exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography

January 20th, 2015

Adobe Spotlight: Kate Edwards’s Ethereal Fashion Photography

Sponsored by Adobe

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All photos © Kate Edwards

Kate Edwards is a Brooklyn-based fashion photographer who creates dreamy, ethereal imagery through calculated use of gesture and color. Her models are often lost in thought, or turned away from the camera, and she’s drawn to iridescent color palettes that are carefully refined, or pale neutrals that evoke a sense of quiet and contemplation. Post-production technique is crucial to perfecting the look of Edwards’s imagery, and we spoke with her about her creative process from start to finish, and how she has simplified her workflow in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC for a more efficient output.

PDN: How do you conceptualize your fashion shoots?

Kate Edwards: My creative process usually involves a lot of brainstorming. I tend to have a wandering mind, so I find that I get most of my ideas from a variety of things that influence me on a daily basis; walking my dog, listening to music, or flipping through a million fashion magazines. I tend to take a lot of photos while I’m out and about that help me create ideas through lighting, colors or patterns. This ends up influencing how I conceptualize my fashion shoots as well. There are so many things you can do, so many possibilities, that for me, being inspired by a lot of different things makes it way more interesting.

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PDN: What are some of your favorite shoots that you worked on in 2014?

KE: I did a bunch of shoots that were definitely a ton of fun, but I have to say that my most memorable photo experience this year was actually being accepted and participating in PhootCamp. It has been around for about six years, and allows 30-40 up-and-coming photographers spend a week together taking photographs of everything and anything that inspires them. Each year the location is different, and for 2014 it took place in Joshua Tree, California. All we had to worry about was bringing our favorite cameras and making work. What an unbelievable experience for a young photographer.

PDN: You have a knack for creating rich color palettes and tones in your imagery. What influences your color choices?

KE: Like I mentioned before, everything influences my color choices—even down to some random song I am listening to, or an amazing wall I walk that is painted the coolest color. Right now I love peachy hues, lots of neutral styling and soft light. I try to always keep it simple though. I tend to become too overwhelmed when there are too many elements going on in one shoot or even in one photograph. I am a “less is more” kind of photographer.

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PDN: What are your goals in post-production? If you are enhancing or altering the existing coloring, what’s your approach?

KE: I try to remain consistent and not overdo my retouching when it comes to my photographs, which can honestly be hard to do when you start diving into editing something you’re really excited about. I used to spend hours doing things in post that I really didn’t need to be spending that much time doing. Now there are easier, more comprehensive ways to take a group of images in Lightroom and create consistent and reliable workflows, so you’re not sitting at your computer all day instead of spending more time shooting. Especially when you start to become busier, this is a valuable tool.

When I do start altering colors, I try to do this consistently from the beginning so that when I need to tweak certain things afterwards, there remains a balance between all of the photographs as a group or story.

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PDN: In what situations do you use Lightroom, and when do you opt for Photoshop CC?

KE: I use Lightroom almost always, and then depending on the shoot and the content, I will use Photoshop CC to go in and fix certain issues with images that might need cleaning up (a sign needs to be retouched out, a perspective that needs to be changed, blemishes on a models face that need to be fixed).

One of the hardest, but most valuable tools I have learned as a freelance photographer is that time is money. It is extremely important to find useful ways to edit larger groups of photos so that you can move onto your next project and not be prisoner to retouching! As someone starting out, Lightroom is extremely valuable to know first and foremost.

PDN: How much time, on average, do you spend editing your photos?

KE: I used to spend forever, but I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I spend a fraction of the time because I know which program to use for each job I am shooting. For example, I spent a day in Lightroom retouching an entire wedding I photographed (approximately 200 photos). I also spent an entire day retouching six photos for an eyewear print campaign in Photoshop CC. It just depends on what I’m looking to accomplish.

PDN: What do you think are the fundamentals a photographer should learn in Lightroom and Photoshop CC?

KE: In Lightroom, first and foremost, it is extremely important to understand how to process your RAW files. The next step is to create useful workflows for the kind of work you are shooting, and to create presets in Lightroom that can be applied and adjusted to all of your images efficiently.

In Photoshop CC, it’s fundamental to understand what you want to correct about your images and which tools to use, because there are an endless amount of possibilities with that program. It is the perfect tool for retouching, so understanding what you’re looking to accomplish is important. The first actions I learned in Photoshop CC were Layers and Masks in order to have the freedom to apply adjustments to specific areas of your image without affecting the rest.

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PDN: Do you have any retouching tips for photographers looking to experiment with color? What are some of your favorite tricks in either program?

KE: I love using a tool in Photoshop CC called Selective Color. It allows you to adjust colors way more in depth. For example, if you want to subtract a little yellow out of your blacks, it creates an interesting purple effect. Experimenting with this tool can be a ton of fun. I also like adding gradient layers onto images to play with the color palette.

To see more work from Kate Edwards, visit www.kateedwardsphotography.com.

To learn more about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop CC, visit www.adobe.com. The Creative Cloud Photography plan, offering both programs and more, is 9.99/mo.

January 16th, 2015

Martyna Galla Makes Her Mark with a Format.com Online Portfolio

Sponsored by Format

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At just 22 years old, fashion photographer Martyna Galla is a force to be reckoned with. She’s amassed a list of clients that includes Avon, Universal Music and Elle; success she credits to her insatiable enthusiasm for creating imagery. Raised in a small town near Warsaw, the burgeoning teen’s discovery of the medium began when she was given her first camera at 14. Galla began photographing her sister and “the prettiest girls at school,” and within just two years, landed her first paid job shooting model tests at Warsaw modeling agency D’vision Models.

The professional opportunity solidified Galla’s aspirations to build a career as a photographer and propelled her to enroll film school in Łódź, Poland, where she was further trained in photography.  Now out of school, constantly shooting tests, regularly investing in gear and studio space, and expanding her contacts to include a wider range of models, make-up artists and stylists have all contributed to her growth.

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© Martyna Galla

Just as crucial to her development as a professional photographer, however, has been the ability to market her online portfolio. “People must see your work,” Galla says. “Potential clients, friends, agents, models—you never know who will like it and recommend your work.” But not all websites are created equal, as Galla has learned. Out of all the options available, Galla rates Format.com, a portfolio website platform for creative professionals, above the rest. “Format was not the first platform I used to share my photography, but it is the most professional. My work is available in high quality and is viewable on any browser or mobile device,” she says. “My Format.com portfolio is the one I continue to share with clients. Its professional design lets my work shine.”

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© Martyna Galla

Format’s online portfolio website offer photographers all the advantages they desire when showcasing their work online. Its elegant, professionally-designed themes enable photographers to create a stunning presentation of their work in an instant—all without any knowledge of coding. Format’s websites are also fully customizable, including a custom domain: photographers can choose from a wide variety of specially-designed page templates or build their own from scratch using Format’s advanced code editor. In addition, Format’s websites are mobile- and tablet-ready, and include built-in, powerful, image-based blogging, seamless linking to social networks, unlimited bandwidth, automatic and fast image resizing, continual fast speed image loading, password-protected pages, search engine optimization, video capability, and 24/7 around-the-clock reliable service and support no matter the time zone.

Work as strong and as unique as Marytna Galla’s demands a presentation that only Format.com has been able to deliver—and quite effortlessly so. Interestingly, when asked to describe her photographic style, some of the words Galla uses are “easy,” “sensible,” and “calm,” adjectives that could also be used to describe the Format.com experience. “I like to keep things simple,” she continued. “When I find the person in front of my camera to be charismatic and interesting, I let them have the advantage while shooting. It always brings something new and unexpected.”

Visit Format.com and create your very own online portfolio.

See a short video on Galla and her work below.

 

November 18th, 2014

My Adidas: Company Printing Customer Photos on Sneakers

Left: a screen shot of the #miZXFLUX app image adjustment screen. Right: the preview screen of the #miZXFLUX app.

Our special edition PDN Tulipmania sneakers. Left: A screen shot of the #miZXFLUX app image adjustment screen. Right: The preview screen of the #miZXFLUX app.

Earlier this month, athletic and lifestyle apparel company adidas launched an app, #miZXFLUX, that allows customers to use their own photographs to create unique sneakers.

Customers can use the app to scale and size their images on a pair ZX Flux sneakers, which are modeled on the ZX 8000 running shoes adidas originally released in 1988. The photo-printed shoes cost $110, and the app is available for Apple and Android devices.

An adidas representative told Sports Illustrated about the materials and printing process. The images customers upload from their phones are upscaled and sharpened from the 115dpi minimum resolution before they are printed. “We actually improve the photo from the phone and final production is 300 dpi printing quality,” adidas global digital manager Mac Russell told SI.com.

Adidas’s Vietnam factory uses “a large wool printer” to ink the photographs onto single pieces of synthetic leather for the shoe’s upper, Russell added.

It will be interesting to see if any professional photographers take advantage of the technology. In addition to creating shoes with great images, enterprising photographers might come up with good marketing and promo efforts. Feel free to email us if you need our shoe sizes.

October 27th, 2014

Obituary: David Armstrong, Age 60

Photographic artist David Armstrong, who first made his name as a member of the “Boston School” with Jack Pierson, Mark Morrisroe and Nan Goldin, and eventually shot for Vogue, GQ, and other fashion clients, died October 25, in Los Angeles, from liver cancer.  He was 60 years old.  Vogue.com reported that Armstrong’s agent, Jed Root, had confirmed the news.

Born in Arlington, Massachusetts, Armstrong was also very much of New York City, his long-time home. With intentions to become a painter, he attended the Boston Museum School and Cooper Union in New York. He received his B.F.A. from Tufts in 1988.

Along with fellow “Boston School” contemporaries like Stephen “Tabboo!” Tashjian, Armstrong and his friends made art of their lives in the counterculture. He first met Nan Goldin as a teenager, and their work was first shown together at PS1’s “New York/New Wave” exhibit in 1981.

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The cover of David Armstrong’s 2011 monograph 615 Jefferson Avenue. © Damiani/Photo by David Armstrong

Armstrong is often cited as having had a significant influence on Ryan McGinley, who also turned an interesting life with beautiful young friends into photographic art. Much of Armstrong’s work features lots of natural light, and his gaze is unmistakably erotic. Throughout his career, he made sharp-focused portraits of beautiful young boys, but he also made cityscapes in soft focus, especially after moving to Berlin in the early 1990s. His work was included in the 1995 Whitney Biennial.

Armstrong ushered into the universe of fashion by designer Hedi Slimane, who first commissioned him to make backstage photos of his work at Dior Homme. He would go on to be published in the French, Italian and Japanese editions of Vogue, Arena Homme+, GQ and Out, among other magazines, and counted Ermenegildo Zegna, Kenneth Cole, Burberry, Puma and Rodarte amongst his commercial clients.

Over his career he published several books, including a 1994 collaboration with his old friend, Nan Goldin/David Armstrong: A Double Life; he also published1997’s The Silver Cord, and a 2012 pressing of 30-plus-year-old photographs called Night & Day. His final monograph, 615 Jefferson Avenue, is comprised of bright portraits of male models taken at his house in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

In a conversation with old friend Jack Pierson about his process and motivation, published in Out magazine in 2011, he said, “I always think you want to come away with some beautiful, beautiful picture of the person, the boy, that’s really everything you want to express about them. Or, at least something you can rub one out to.”

June 12th, 2014

Todd Hido Shoots Fall 2014 Campaign For Victoria Beckham’s Fashion Line

An image from Todd Hido's campaign for Victoria, Victoria Beckham's Fall 2014 collection.

An image from Todd Hido’s campaign for Victoria, Victoria Beckham’s Fall 2014 collection.

We never thought we’d mention Posh Spice and Todd Hido in the same sentence, but here goes: Victoria Beckham (previously known as pop singer Posh Spice) enlisted fine-art photographer Todd Hido to photograph ads her Fall 2014 collection of women’s fashion.

The images of models wearing Beckham’s looks recall Hido’s fine-art photographs of women in motel rooms who appear to be living on society’s fringes. In images on the fashion designer’s website we see models posed on bare mattresses or in rooms with shabby carpeting and unmade beds. Hido’s work for the label also appears to include video pieces. In one video we see a model standing against a wall in a dark room while fuzz flashes across the screen of an old-model television set.

Hido didn’t respond to our request for comment. According to W Magazine, Beckham herself said that, “Working with a photographer who doesn’t traditionally shoot fashion really enriched how I could portray the collection this season.”

Related: The Prevailing Wind: Todd Hido’s Excerpts from Silver Meadows

May 21st, 2014

Advice From the Trenches for Graduating Photography Students

Classes in photography can be a leg up to landing a job as an assistant or getting started in the photography business, but real-world experience often teaches practical lessons not taught in photo schools. What are the important lessons photographers didn’t learn in school, that photographers found themselves scrambling to make up after college?  We recently rounded up some advice for recent graduates (published on PDNOnline). We also asked photographers David Brandon Geeting, Cody Cloud and Andrew Burkle for their perspectives.

Geeting, a Brooklyn-based editorial photographer, graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2011, and worked as a photo assistant and did other jobs before going into business for himself in 2012. Burkle, a food photographer shooting advertising for national brands, graduated from Ohio University in 2009, and worked as a photo assistant in Chicago before opening a studio last year in Cleveland with photographer David Hagen. Cody Cloud shoots fashion in Los Angeles with his partner, Julia Galdo. He earned his MFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 2005.

Here’s what they told us about the things they wished they’d learned in school, and their advice for new graduates.

What skills do you wish you’d learned while you were in school–but didn’t– that would have helped you most when you got out?

David Brandon Geeting: I wish I would have taken more studio classes and learned more lighting techniques. I shoot a lot of work in the studio now, and everything I do is totally self-taught. When I was in school, I just walked around with a 35mm point-and-shoot camera and made C-prints of off-kilter moments and funny trash on the street. I had no plans of shooting commercially – I thought I would make a living as an artist. I thought I’d be having solo exhibitions and publishing weird books. That is still the goal, but in the meantime I am doing the best I can to survive with self-taught techniques that I could have learned before graduating.

Andrew Burkle: I really wish I had gotten more input on how to price myself and bid on jobs. The problem was that we learned invoicing but not bidding, [which] is a hard skill to teach and standardize. In the beginning I was probably under bidding and getting work, but vastly under valuing myself as well as inadvertently lowering the standard cost for other bidding photographers.  I think that is a common young photographers mistake though. It is an important step to start pricing yourself correctly.  Even if that means losing out on some work.  If you know your work has value, you have to stick to your price.

Cody Cloud: I wish we would have learned more technical lighting and more Photoshop. Where I went to school they didn’t emphasize the technical side, and coming out of school, my [Photoshop] skills weren’t up to par for jumping into the real world. I assisted a long time. That’s how I learned to light. Julia [Galdo] does the Photoshop so the partnership works out good.

What advice do you wish you had gotten (or heeded) before you graduated?

Geeting: The best piece of advice I got in school was from Joseph Maida, my junior seminar teacher. The thing he said that stuck with me was, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader,” which is actually a Robert Frost quote, but it applies so well to photography. I didn’t pay much attention to these words at that time – I was too busy being a self-righteous college kid – but they were always in the back of my mind. Today, I might have a pre-conceived idea before I start shooting, and even if that idea is illustrated exactly as I had imagined in my mind, there’s a good chance that it won’t be very interesting to look at. If you are not surprised by what you are shooting as you are shooting it, no one else will be. Being able to adapt is so important. Leaving room for change and happy accidents is something I have built my practice on.

Burkle: I learned this eventually on my own: Very few [people], if any, will appreciate you. You have to work hard, work often and keep your head up. You will most likely be poor for a while. However, once you’ve proven to people that you are hard working, persistent, talented and easy to work with, the world will start to take notice.  This process can take a few months or even a few years.  Unfortunately, your degree in photography is for your own peace of mind.  The photo world estimates your worth in real-world experience.

What professional advice do you have for students who are just graduating?

Geeting: GET A BLOG. And update it every day. Make something every day. If you really love what you’re doing, it shouldn’t be a chore. You don’t need to spend a bunch of money on a leather portfolio or promo cards or whatever people think will get them noticed. Just make the work. And then get up the next day and make it again. If you are putting in the work, good things will happen to you. That’s just how the world works – the energy you exert will come back to return the favor. I really believe that.

Burkle: Keep on top of your technology–cameras, capture software, photoshop, new equipment and techniques, archiving software, etc.–and shoot as much as possible for yourself.  The latter seems obvious, but I fell victim to this early after graduating. When you start working 60 hour weeks for someone else and you don’t have much access to studio time, shooting for yourself becomes a struggle  very quickly.  FInd the time.  Work on weekends.  No one will hire you for the portfolio you “want” to create.  Clients hire photographers, not assistant with potential.

Cloud: I would tell students to work on talking about their work. In every meeting, you have to pitch your ideas. Clients need to hear exactly what you’re going to do and the reason for it. You have to articulate it so they can get it. That’s going to help you get jobs.

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The Money Issue: Estimating 2.0: Bidding on an All-Media Library Shoot (for PDN subscribers)