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February 5th, 2016

Great Weekend Reads in Photography and Filmmaking

Jon Westra | Flickr

Jon Westra | Flickr

 

“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” ― Logan Pearsall Smith

How Photography Became a Modern ArtChristies

10 Myths About the Rule of ThirdsIPox Studios

How the NY Times Is Using Old Images to Tell Stories It MissedPoynter

Shooting and Editing a Huge Indian Wedding Using Just an iPhone – Rangefinder

The FAA’s Drone Registry Is a Privacy NightmareEngadget

11 Reasons Why Virtual Reality Still Stinks Mashable

Famed War Photographer Don McCullin on Risk, War & GuiltGlobe & Mail

One of the Most Radical, Daring Photo Expositions Ever Feature Shoot

The Putin of Chechnya’s Flair for InstagramNew Yorker

Craft Guild Nominations vs. the OscarsVariety

Want more links? Check out past Weekend Reads here.

January 15th, 2016

Great Photography and Filmmaking Reads for Your Weekend

Barta IV | Flickr

Barta IV | Flickr

There were plenty of great reads published this week–hopefully you can block off a quiet hour or two to enjoy them.

Gregory Crewdson on Being an Art Photographer TodayVogue

Annie Leibovitz on Shooting Rock StarsBiography

Meet the Man Who Photographed David Bowie for 40 YearsVice

The Challenges of Managing an Archive of FilmEmulsive 

How Photographers Find and Define MeaningRangefinder

Trying to Reinvent a Foundering Movie BusinessNew Yorker

Who Controls Your Facebook Feed?Slate

“Making a Murder” and the Shift in Documentary FilmmakingReview Journal

A Stunning Portfolio Inspired by Frank Lloyd WrightCurbed

Find past Weekend Reads here.

January 15th, 2016

What Makes a Photographer?

Smartphones have made picture-taking and images abundant commodities. But has this glut encroached on the art and craft of photography? Ken Van Sickle doesn’t think so. In this short interview with PBS, the New York-based photographer offers his thoughts on what it means to be a photographer today.

“What a great photographer does is, they are consistently able to make something in a style that’s personal to themselves,” he says.

Enjoy.

January 4th, 2016

Photographer Sues Richard Prince Over Instagram Rip-offs… At Last

"Rastafarian Smoking a Joint" ©Donald Graham

“Rastafarian Smoking a Joint” ©Donald Graham

Photographer Donald Graham has sued appropriation artist Richard Prince and his gallerist Lawrence Gagosian for copyright infringement of a photo that appeared without Graham’s authorization on Instagram, and then in a gallery exhibition of Prince’s appropriation work.

Prince drew public complaints and vitriol last year for unauthorized reproduction, display and sale of a series of 67 x 55-inch inkjet prints of Instagram “screen saves” of images by other artists and photographers. But Graham is the first to sue.

The Los Angeles-based photographer filed suit in federal court in New York on December 30, alleging unauthorized use of a 1996 photograph (shown here) of a Rastafarian man lighting a joint. Graham alleges in his claim that a third party posted his photograph on Instagram without permission, and that Prince copied and enlarged that unauthorized photo and displayed it as part of his 2014 “New Portraits” exhibition.

Graham’s complaint calls Prince out for “his blatant disregard for copyright law” and goes on to say that “Mr. Prince consistently and repeatedly has incorporated others’ works” into his own works, without permission, credit or compensation. (more…)

December 14th, 2015

Free Toolkit and Video Series Provide Business Education for Artists

It’s difficult for many artists to think rigidly about time management, goal setting, branding, marketing, social media strategy and other decidedly business-like actions, but that’s exactly what a new, free artist’s education series from Creative Exchange proposes artists do.

Work of Art, as the video and workbook series is called, was produced from a professional development and entrepreneurship curriculum that has been taught to artists at colleges and cultural institutions for the past five years. Based on input from working artists, the curriculum aims to give both current and would-be artists the tools to run a successful creative business.

Creative Exchange, the organization that developed the Work of Art curriculum, is a national organization that connects and educates artists and community leaders in an effort to strengthen communities at a local level.

Topics covered in the workbook and video series include career planning, time management, portfolios, marketing, social media, pricing, recordkeeping, legal considerations, funding and business plan writing. In each topic category, the workbook suggests written exercises that will help an artist do things like define their brand, set goals and make personal assessments. One of the workbook tasks, for example, is to create an “Accountability Mailer.” The artist is encouraged to define goals for a six-month period, and to mail or give a copy of those goals to a person who will hold them accountable.

It may be difficult for the creative-minded to see their life and work structured like a Six Sigma certification course. However, with a focus on clear thought, organization and goal-driven work, the Work of Art toolkit has the potential to give artists more of what they really want and need: time in the day to focus on their creative work.

Related: What I Didn’t Learn in Art School: Life Lessons from Photographers (subscriber login required)
Advice From the Trenches for Graduating Photography Students
13 Tips For Building Your Fine-Art Network (subscriber login required)

October 24th, 2015

PhotoPlus Expo 2015: Photo Book Editors on How to Publish Your Photo Book

There may not be much money in photo book publishing, but is money a photographer’s only reason to publish a book? As Aperture book program publisher Lesley Martin said, “Books have become an integral part of photographic practice.” So for the legions of  photographers driven to publish a photo book despite the costs, a panel of experts gathered at PhotoPlus Expo to explain the how-to. Besides Martin, panelists included Abrams publisher Michael Sand, veteran book editor and agent Robert Morton, and photographer Lauren Henkin. PDN Editor Holly Stuart Hughes moderated the discussion.

The panelists discussed how to conceptualize a book project, how to pitch it to publishers, how to raise funds for publication, and how to market your book once it is published.

As veteran book editor and agent Robert Morton explained, technology has dramatically changed the photo book business. On the one hand, it’s easier than ever for photographers to create a book themselves thanks to online, on-demand publishing. On the other hand, photo books are much harder to sell because independent bookstores have closed by the hundreds, so potential buyers of photo books have no good way to browse. “Amazon doesn’t show you what’s inside the book,” he said.

The editors on the panel strongly advised against publishing albums of personal work. “Your material has to have a subject,” Morton said. “If it’s purely personal work, you’re going to have a hard time coming up with a subject. Fine art books that are purely and simply a photographer’s vision of the world are almost impossible to sell, [and were] even in the days when there were 4,000 bookstores.”

Hughes directed the audience to the Princeton Architectural Press submission guidelines for authors interested in pitching book ideas. Its questionnaire requires authors to figure out who the primary and secondary audiences are for their proposed book, to research comparable titles to the books they are proposing and answer other tough questions. The questionnaire had been recommended by Mary Virginia Swanson, co-author of Publish Your Photography Book. http://mvswanson.com/tag/publish-your-photography-book

“It gets to the heart of [the question]: Why does the world need your book?” Quoting Swanson, Hughes said, “If you can answer the questions, you can [pitch your book project] to any editor.”

Sand ran through his list of “14 thoughts on placing your book with a commercial publisher.” The list underscored the difficulty of getting a commercial trade publisher to publish and market photo book. Some of the items on Sand’s how-to list included:

1. Be famous. (Sand pointed to Drew Barrymore’s books of snapshots titled Find It in Everything)
2. Be famous and dead (e.g., Ansel Adams)
3. Be famous, live a complicated life, and write about it. (e.g., Sally Mann)
5. Get in a helicopter for a fresh perspective (e.g., George Steinmetz)
6. Associate with interesting people (e.g., Todd Selby, creator of The Selby)
9. Animals make good subjects
10. Consider food [cookbooks]

Martin explained that the two critical issues for publishers and self-publishers alike are how to pay for the production, printing, and distribution of a book, and how to find potential buyers in order to sell the book. A non-profit publisher, Aperture has traditionally raised funds through grants and print sales, but has recently worked with photographers by running Kickstarter crowd-funding campaigns —a strategy that not only raises money, but also helps to pre-sell copies of a book. For instance, a Kickstarter campaign for Richard Renaldi’s Touching Strangers book raised $80,000 in pre-publication book sales. Another Kickstarter campaign for Robin Schwartz’s Amelia & the Animals raised about $30,000.

Martin advised the audience that “the photo book community is a self-organized, highly networked, international community. So be part of it.” For instance, web sites such as Photobookclub.org offer resources and ideas for marketing a photo book–at festivals, book fairs, meet up, and through photo blogs. She also referred the audience to The Photobook Review, a free, twice-a-year publication from Aperture about book publishing. And Martin noted that “one of the myths of self-publishing is that have to do [everything] yourself. You don’t.” She added that the most successful books are the result of a collaborative effort.

And that has been the experience of Henkin, who has self-published several successful fine art books since 2010.

Having studied architecture, Henkin is as much concerned with materiality and scale of the books as she is with the content. Her books, which she has produced in editions of a few hundred,  are collectible as objects, as she discovered when she set about figuring out who might be interested in buying her first book. She found interest among a community of special collections librarians, who led her to private rare book dealers and collectors.

“I banged on a lot of doors to build that audience,” she said.

Her third (and most recent) book, Still Standing, Standing Still, is a sculptural object. It contains just 14 images of a single tree, place in a wooden box. The images are mounted on a stiff backing, and bound so they can be displayed radially on top of the box. Viewers can then walk around and view the images as if they’re walking around the tree Henkin photographed.

Henkin made 300 copies of the book, and priced it at $500. It sold out in a day.

by David Walker

Related:
You’ve Published Your Photo Book. Now How Do You Market It?
How to Pitch Your Photo Book to Publishers
Leveraging an Online Audience to Atrract Book Publishers
Lauren Henkin: How (and Why) to Hand-Make Your Photo Book

October 23rd, 2015

Epson Launches New Fine Art Papers at PhotoPlus Expo 2015

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Epson trotted out a new line of photo papers at PhotoPlus Expo aimed at photographers and artists seeking to exhibit and sell their output to collectors, museums, galleries and other discerning buyers.

Dubbed the Legacy Papers, Epson said they’re manufactured in a pair of European paper mills. The base paper is made in France while the coating is applied in Germany. They’ll feature a microporous inkjet receiver layer that Epson claims will produce deep blacks, an expanded color gamut and smooth tonal gradations. They’ll initially be sold in rolls beginning in December with cut sheets available starting in 2016. Epson will also provide custom sizes for both cut sheets and rolls for customers as well.

The paper lineup will include:

  • Legacy Platine: a 100 percent cotton fibre paper with an OBA-free, smooth satin finish. It has a color gamut of over 1 million and a Dmax of 2.7.
  • Legacy Fibre: 100 percent cotton fibre paper with a bright OBA-free, smooth matte finish.
  • Legacy Baryta: a baryta paper with a white, smooth satin finish, utilizing two barium sulfate coatings. Epson says the baryta paper is unique on the market, since it has a pair of layers separating the baryta base and inkjet coating which will make the paper tougher than traditional baryta
  • Legacy Etching: Epson says the Etching paper has a traditional etching paper feel and is composed of 100 percent cotton fibre paper with a matte finish. It’s also OBA free.

Cut sheet sizes will include 8.5 x 11, 13 x 19 and 17 x 22. Roll sizes will cover 17 x 50, 24 x 50, 44 x 50 and 60 x 50. Prices have not been announced.

The Legacy Papers have already been tested for print permanence by Wilhelm Imaging Research. When produced using Epson’s HD and HDK inks, color prints on Legacy papers will last for 200 years and black-and-white prints will reach 400 years of light fastness.

September 17th, 2015

Artist Turns Condemned Building into a Disposable Camera

There are camera hacks and then there’s Vancouver artist Joel Nicholas Peterson’s camera hack. For a project titled Blueprints for Observation, Peterson turned a condemned building into a huge camera obscura.

Here, in Peterson’s words, is how he did it:

“I made holes through the walls peering outside from within dark rooms facing north, south, east, and west. This camera had no lenses – just apertures measuring 1/8” in diameter allowing light into the rooms. This simple design is the ancient technique and phenomenon known as the camera obscura.

“The projected images were exposed onto lithographic film then developed with an experimental darkroom process using sprayers. The developed negatives were then used to make contact prints on watercolor paper using the cyanotype process. The outcome is a near 360° cityscape of film negatives and blueprint images from the perspective of a building that no longer exists.”

The negatives were huge, measuring in at 13-feet. The entire process is documented in the short film below.

August 13th, 2015

Duggal Sees Future in High Res Digital C Prints

“Pick your favorite Pacific Island.”

We’re staring at a small map attached to a enormous light box. Dangling from the box is a loupe, the kind jewelers use to scrutinize a diamond, and Ken Bledsoe, manager of fine art digital printing at Duggal is encouraging us to take a closer look. We do, pressing the loupe against the print and honing in on the South China Sea. The map’s tiny details, obscured by distance, spring into focus with startling clarity.

The high resolution print detail comes from a process generally thought to be on the wane: chromogenic printing, or what Duggal markets as HD-C prints.

The particular prints in question are rolling off Polielettronica’s LaserLab DS. Before it landed in Duggal’s New York offices, the technology was used by the U.S. military and intelligence services for printing high-resolution surveillance footage. The prints are sharp enough, Polielettronica says, that land surveyors can count individual trees in aerial images. The company agreed to sell the 50-inch LaserLab printer to Duggal exclusively for an 18 month run (an exclusivity that has recently lapsed). Smaller, 30-inch LaserLabs have been sold to several other photo labs in the U.S.

laserlab

The LaserLab creates continuous tone prints at DPIs as high as 610 with an apparent resolution of 6100 dpi. The 50-inch model in Duggal’s shop can create a print as large as 50×100 inches on a range of media.

It is the first innovation in photographic processing that has excited CEO Mike Duggal in a while. “Digital photographic used to be the highest quality print you could make, but then inkjet really narrowed that gap,” he says. “This [Poliettronica] technology pushes photographic prints into another category.” Indeed, while other labs are scaling back their investment in c-printing, Duggal continues to invest, he says.

What justifies such an investment? After all, Poliettronica’s competitors, such as Durst and Oce (now owned by Canon), have abandoned the photo market as demand withers. Inkjet printers have gained a sizable foothold in the fine art market thanks to the range of materials they can print to and print lifespans that exceed dye-based c-prints. Indeed, Duggal’s New York facilities have several. Inkjet print quality has also improved—although whether it produces comparable (much less superior) quality to a c-print is a matter of fierce debate. As InfoTrends’ group director of the consumer and professional imaging group Ed Lee tells us, hard numbers on the actual number of photo labs still using c-print processes vs. inkjet are difficult to pin down but the trend lines in photofinishing in general have been pointing south for some time.

To Duggal, though, the investment in more traditional photographic processes begins and ends with the extreme resolution and quality obtainable through a continuous tone print. As others pull back, “we’re still investing in photography,” he says.

The Devil in the Details

Three prints are arrayed on a table: one is an inkjet, another a Lambda photographic print and the last is a print off the LaserLab. The difference between the inkjet and the photographic prints is noticeable immediately, but the difference between the Lambda and Poliettronica output is more subtle. You see it in the silvery sheen of a woman’s jewels or the crystalline details on a watch face. The difference is there, but you need to look for it. You need to get close.

These prints are not for every photographer, Duggal admits. Not every print is subjected to the kind of scrutiny that the HD-C print thrives under. They’re targeted at customers like photographer and artist Spencer Tunik whose work appears in museums and galleries where viewers will get right on top of them. Tunik’s work features hundreds of nude individuals sprawled out in public places. Even with large prints, viewers are always drawn in close to look at people’s faces, Tunik says. With 610 dpi HD-C prints, they can stand as close to the print as they desire and catch all the details. The HD-C print gives Tunik the “through the negative” print quality he says that photo gallery owners and museum curators desire.

Spencer Tunick eyes up his work.

Spencer Tunick eyes up his work.

August 5th, 2015

Inaugural Seattle Art Fair Brings Attention to Under-the-Radar Collector Base

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Photo courtesy of the Seattle Art Fair.

More than 60 galleries from across the country and as far afield as Hong Kong participated this past weekend in the first edition of the Seattle Art Fair. Co-organized by Microsoft founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc. and Brooklyn-based art fair producers Art Market Productions, drew more than 15,000 attendees and generated sales that pleased many galleries.

The positive results highlighted what many local and national galleries already knew: that Seattle boasts an important group of collectors, some well-established and others who are beginning to build collections and, thanks to a growing economy and a robust tech sector, have the means to do so. Robert Goff, a director at David Zwirner in New York, says the gallery participated because they feel Seattle is “a good place to build a foundation.” (more…)