August 12th, 2015

Why All The Articles in PDN’s New Issue Are About Women Photographers

© PDN/Photo by Lauren Dukoff

© PDN/Photo by Lauren Dukoff

The articles in the September issue of PDN, now available to subscribers and in the iTunes store, offer our standard mix of technical advice, interviews, and insights into the photography business. The one difference is that all the photography we are featuring, from our news pages to End Frame, is by women photographers. Why are we interviewing and showcasing only women photographers in this issue? Because we can.

It didn’t take much extra effort to find women photographers who could provide valuable insights and inspiration on every topic we wanted to cover: lighting, video post-production, pursuing and publishing a long-term project, marketing, meeting the demands of fashion and portrait clients, and many other issues relating to establishing a name in today’s photography business. Women photographers have to contend with lingering stereotypes about what women can or can’t excel at. By filling every section of this issue of PDN with images and insights by women photographers, we hope to emphasize the breadth of talent, expertise and experience of women photographers working in every genre and style.

This issue, whose theme section focuses on portraiture and fashion photography, seemed like an opportune time to make such a statement. Zanele Muholi’s beautiful, searing exhibition “Isibonelo/Evidence,” which opened in May at the Brooklyn Museum, exemplifies a powerful (and empowering) use of portraiture in social activism. In the spring, Aperture announced it would be publishing a compilation of celebrated photojournalist Mary Ellen Mark’s advice on portraiture. When we arranged to publish an excerpt, we didn’t know that Mark was ailing, or that the book would be published posthumously. It seems fitting, however, that PDN‘s first all-women issue includes words and images by a photographer who blazed so many trails.

Another timely story is our feature on the proliferation of groups formed by and for women photographers. We’ve noted before that, in today’s fractured marketplace, photographers have benefited from forming peer networks, both online and in person, to exchange advice, support, and job referrals.  A few of these groups, we’ve noticed, look like all-boys’ clubs. Women have responded by creating their own networks and gatherings. Some, like Women Photojournalists of Washington, have been around for years, but new ones seem to be forming every day.

Why now? Organizers of these groups point out that while there are more women working in photography than ever, men still get the majority of solo gallery shows, editorial assignments, and other opportunities that lead to greater recognition. In an interview in the current issue, photojournalist Maggie Steber notes that the market is hard for every photographer now—not only women. Competition can be particularly intense for the few token slots set aside for more diverse voices and talents. Expanding the opportunities for success requires new ideas and cooperative effort. “Instead of going back to the same shrinking pie, we should be thinking differently,” says Jennifer McClure, who recently formed the Women’s Photo Alliance in New York City. “We should be thinking, ‘How do we make more pies?'”

–Holly Stuart Hughes, editor

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.” Read the rest of this entry »

August 5th, 2015

Graava Camera Uses Artificial Intelligence and Sensors to Edit Video for You

graava

While action cameras have made it easier than ever to cram memory cards full of video, they haven’t made it any easier to edit that footage down into useable clips. A new camera, dubbed Graava, aims to change that.

Graava’s pitch is simple: using sensors and software, the camera identifies what moments from a recorded stream of footage need to be saved, and what needs to be cut. It then edits the video for you (in the cloud) and serves up a social media-friendly clip at whatever length you desire.

The camera taps into several built-in sensors for clues as to what might be occurring in the world around it, including GPS, an accelerometer, a motion sensor, a light sensor and gyro sensor. There’s also an option to connect a heart-rate monitor to the camera via Bluetooth for additional data inputs–similar to what Nikon did with its “Heartography” project.

Via a smartphone app, you tell Graava how long of a clip you want and when it’s connected (via magnets) to its wireless charging station and your Wi-Fi network, your video is uploaded and edited in the cloud. You’ll have the option to add clips back into your footage if you’re unhappy with the final result. From the app, you’ll be able to share the edited video to various social networks  as well as remotely control the camera and view a live feed from the camera. In fact, the Graava can double as a home security or baby monitor with dedicated modes that leverage the motion sensor and microphones to record activity.

graava app group

The Graava records 1920x1080p30 video in addition to 8-megapixel stills or 720p60 video. It has a fixed focus lens with a 130-degree field of view and is splash proof. Footage is recorded to microSD cards and the internal battery is rated for up to three hours of recording.

The cloud editing will be done for free, however Graava will offer a subscription service that will provide video hosting as well as the ability to stitch footage from multiple Graava cameras into a single video. Clould pricing wasn’t announced. The camera is available for pre-order now for $249 and will ship in February.

August 3rd, 2015

Amanda Demme on Photographing Bill Cosby’s Accusers for New York Magazine

A photo posted by Amanda Demme (@amandademme) on

When New York magazine posted a blockbuster story in the early hours of Monday, July 27, to its website, many of the names involved were familiar: Bill Cosby, the iconic entertainer accused of drugging and assaulting dozens of women, outspoken victims such as Janice Dickinson and Beverly Johnson, and Jody Quon, the magazine’s director of photography, who got the story on the magazine’s cover. But one name was relatively new: Amanda Demme, the photographer who shot the striking cover. Featuring seated portraits of 35 of the women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault (plus one photo of an empty chair)—its visual impact was arguably as important as all of the interviews inside the magazine.

Demme has had multiple careers as an artist manager, music supervisor and nightclub producer. Relatively new to photography, she’s landed credits in LA Weekly, Rolling Stone and New York, and a solo exhibition at Obsolete Gallery in Venice, California in just two years. Because of her work for New York, she was fresh in photo editor Sofia Guzman’s mind when it came time to assign the ambitious project (“She’s the one who kind of spearheaded the whole concept,” Demme says of Guzman). Demme’s portrait style is both stoic and expressive, well-suited to capture the quiet dignity of Bill Cosby’s victims. “I was telling them to sit erect, don’t smile,” Demme says of her directions to the subjects. “When you look at me, you’re not looking at me, this is not a camera. You’re looking at Cosby. And you’re not mad, you’re not in pain…what you are is empowered.”

Demme was able to photograph 35 of the 46 women who have come forward to accuse Cosby of assault, but when she began, there were only 18 on board. She started shooting at her studio in Los Angeles in March, and would repeat the process six more times at multiple locations across the country as more women were recruited into the project. She describes a general uneasiness among the subjects at the start: “There’s always an uncertainty,” Demme admits, “because nobody knows why I’m shooting it a certain way.”

A video posted by New York Magazine (@nymag) on

Though Demme “wanted to immortalize these women in a really beautiful way,” she was still a stranger to these women. In the course of each shoot, she earned their trust. The network of victims has become quite large, and after she had photographed a few of the women, they spoke to each other (or their lawyers) and vouched for Demme and her work. “They were like, ‘Oh no, they’re really cool,’ and so the word of mouth amongst their community helped bring in others,” Demme explains.

Quon gave her minimal direction, asking merely that the portraits not be “dark,” like much of Demme’s published portraiture. Quon insisted that the women not be styled. “She wanted to keep it journalistic,” Demme says. “So the only request we made was that each of the women bring a set of black clothes and a set of either white or cream or really light gray clothes.”

At the first shoot at her studio in Los Angeles, Demme and her producing partner Stephanie Westcott set up multiple sets, then decided afterwards on which one to re-create at the subsequent shoots. To maintain consistency, she recorded the location, distance and settings for her lighting setups. Some locations required adjustments, like when a smaller studio necessitated the use of a different focal length than she had started with. “I would also have each woman turn their body, put their heads down, and in that moment, I said: ‘What you are showing me is where your head has been at for all these years. What are you feeling at this one moment that you used to feel when you were alone or in pain, or just trying to figure it all out?”

She shot some in pairs, and several group portraits. The shoots could be intense, with lots of laughing, crying and hugging, but Demme says having several women at each shoot helped put the women at ease, that “as each woman saw the next woman doing it, they knew how to handle themselves.” She also shot video interviews, and encouraged the women to support and converse with each other.

Demme shot tethered with a digital camera, but she always imagined the shoot in black-and-white. “I shot it with an intention and a look that was monochromatic…where it looked like an army,” she explains. “I wanted it to look like clinical and army-like, so you didn’t see what they were wearing, you didn’t notice the body language.”

As Demme’s images came rolling into the New York offices, Quon realized they had something, and began to campaign for the story to be on the cover. There were concerns about it not being in color, so Demme went back and tried converting a few files to color. But it didn’t have the same impact, so Quon pressed for the atypical black-and-white cover. It’s “why Jody is so dope at what she does,” Demme says.

Demme filed portraits of each woman sitting and standing, and several that featured “clusters” of the women in group portraits. Then the team at New York conceived the cover, with all 35 women seated in a grid, with a single empty chair at the end of the sequence. Demme calls the empty chair “an invitation” to not only the women that Cosby abused that they couldn’t get in the story, but also to “an entire movement of women speaking up. That is their chair and these women are behind them, supporting them all the way.”

August 3rd, 2015

W.M. Hunt on Making “Art” and Artists’ Statements

Veteran collector, curator and photography consultant W.M. Hunt has a reputation for his straight-talking career advice. In this exclusive PDN video, he talks about a strategic mistake made by many aspiring fine-art photographers, and how to avoid it. He also demystifies the process of writing a good artist’s statement, and makes a case against spending a lot of time or energy sweating over it.

Related:
PDN Video: W.M. Hunt on How to Build Career Bridges (Not Burn Them)
PDN Video: Mary Virginia Swanson on How to Get the Most Out of a Portfolio Review
13 Tips for Building Your Fine-Art Network (PDN subscribers can log in to
read this article)

Is the Art World Biased Against Commercial Photographers?
Career Advice: Photographer Kitra Cahana on Elevating Your Work
PDN Video: Lens Blog’s James Estrin’s Career Tips for Photojournalists

August 3rd, 2015

Mexican Photojournalist Murdered in Mexico City, after Fleeing Threats in Veracruz

photo courtesy SinEmbargo http://www.sinembargo.mx

photo courtesy SinEmbargo http://www.sinembargo.mx

Ruben Espinosa, a photographer who had covered social protests in the Mexican province of Veracruz for the newspaper Proceso, Agencia Cuartoscuro and other news outlets, was found shot dead in Mexico City on July 31, according to CNN, AP, The Guardian and other news outlets. His body was found in an apartment along with the bodies of four other individuals, all shot to death, according to the local prosecutor.

Espinosa had decided to leave Veracruz in early June when he noticed his house was being watched and he had been followed, he told the website SinEmbargo, which is devoted to freedom of the press.  Espinosa had covered the murders of journalists in Veracruz in recent years, and advocated for the administration of Governor Javier Duarte to investigate the killings. He also complained that members of the local media were taking bribes.

“We are talking about a place where there have been 12 colleagues killed, four disappeared, and from 2000 until today, 17 forced into exile,” he told SinEmbargo in an article published July 1. “And every time a congressman or the governor organizes one of their ‘Freedom of Expression Breakfasts,’ it fills up, because disgracefully, the press of Veracruz is at the service of those who feed it.”

On August 2, journalists held a demonstration in Mexico City demanding that the government clarify that Espinosa was targeted for his journalism, and not killed in the course of a robbery, as police investigators had first suggested. Journalists told SinEmbargo that Espinosa had felt threatened by the Veracruz government, which has been suspected to have played a role in the deaths of at least 12 journalists and the disappearance of others. Many of the protestors carried photos of Espinosa.

Related articles
Body of Newspaper Photographer Found in Saltillo, Mexico

Fleeing Violence Against Journalists, Veracruz Photographer Seeks Asylum in US

July 30th, 2015

ONE Album That Has it All

Sponsored by Finao

Wedding photographers know that every detail counts, particularly when producing wedding albums to please clients with varying tastes. Finao, maker of high-end wedding albums, knows this too. It’s why the company created the ONE series, a leading line of premium quality, edge-to-edge, flush-mounted albums that give photographers limitless options and tools to create unique and timeless collections of images for wedding clients.

ONE Collage

Various cover styles and patterns on Finao ONE albums.

Consider the paper, for instance. The original ONE features silver halide printing in luster, matte or metallic, which is a paper stock that produces vibrant color and dramatic black-and-white photographs that will last a lifetime. In fact, silver halide paper is rated to be archival for more than 100 years. It provides a visual keepsake that’s both stunning and stable. There are also options for a fine-art version, Finao’s artONE, that features Hahnemϋhle German etching paper, and a revolutionary matted hybrid version called the nextONE.

Seasonal Tastes

Premium paper is just part of the package. Photographers have access to hundreds of cover materials, designs and color combinations which can be personalized to reference the couple’s wedding day. Nearly 150 options are standard inclusions with the ONE series. If it’s a winter wedding, leathers from the Accents collection offer monochromatic textures that echo the look of falling snow. For an autumn gathering, get an earth-toned foliage look with one of the many patterned leathers or fabrics, of which many are custom-created for Finao. And for a summer beach wedding, a wide array of light and airy linens and silks make for a breathtaking display.

Design-Savvy Clients

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Finao One cut-out cover (left), a tote of One albums (center), color swatches (upper right) and Two-Tone and Erotika albums (bottom right).

More than ever before, wedding couples see examples of different types of photography and design via the Internet. With the rise of Pinterest, many clients are able to take cues from designers and stylists to visualize their own weddings from start to finish. Finao offers the widest range of unique cover options to meet the demands of the more design-savvy client, from a basic single material to a tooTone or 3Tone cover design that allows for the mix and match of any materials. For an especially bold statement, specialty covers such as Armour or Erotika metal image covers or limited edition cover designs are the way to go.

ONE album, Many Package Options

Finao Collage

Details of Finao ONE albums, Marilyn Image Boxes with mats (bottom left, upper right) and a Finao nextONE flushmount/matted hybrid album (center).

The Finao ONE is available in almost any size and aspect ratio, from as small as 3×3 inches up to 12×18 and the impressive 20×8 flipbook. There are also two page-thickness options: albums with thick pages range in capacity from 20 to 64 page-sides, and albums with slimmer pages (medium thickness) range from 20 up to 100 page-sides. And for clients who want multiple books for family, but maybe a more economical solution than duplicate flush-mounts, Finao’s playBOOK photo books are a great alternative. They feature a skinny page design and true photographic prints just like the higher-end ONE albums, all within a similar price point to the lower-quality press books in the marketplace. Additional options for the ONE including custom liners, spine options, printing choices, packaging options and more can be found under the “Other Stuff” heading on the Finao ONE product information page. Start brainstorming options and order some discounted studio samples at finao.com.

July 29th, 2015

PDN Video: W.M. Hunt on How to Build Career Bridges (Not Burn Them)

Photography careers are built on talent and hard work. But they also depend upon relationships–with mentors, editors, art directors, curators and others who can provide the critical support required for any career to grow and thrive. Veteran collector, curator and photography consultant W.M. Hunt explains in this exclusive PDN video how to build those important relationships, with tips on how to find a mentor, how to make an impression on the people who can help propel your career, and how to get industry professionals to look at your portfolio–including tips on what NOT to do.

Related:
PDN Video: Mary Virginia Swanson on How to Get the Most Out of a Portfolio Review
13 Tips for Building Your Fine-Art Network (PDN subscribers can log in to
read this article)
Is the Art World Biased Against Commercial Photographers?
Career Advice: Photographer Kitra Cahana on Elevating Your Work
PDN Video: Lens Blog’s James Estrin’s Career Tips for Photojournalists

July 29th, 2015

Video Pick: Rep Maren Levinson: Being a Good Photographer Isn’t Enough

Seattle-based photographer John Keatley recently posted a video interview he did with his rep, Redeye’s Maren Levinson, in which she touched on several changes to the photography industry. Her frank assessment of the market in which professional photographers and their reps operate has earned the video nearly 30,000 views on YouTube. Read the rest of this entry »

July 27th, 2015

The Perfect Portrait Formula: Peter Hurley’s Flex LED Lighting Setups for Men and Women

Sponsored by Westcott

Portrait photographer Peter Hurley has become famous for his headshots. His YouTube tutorials for posing have gone viral thanks to his simple, effective tips for photographers—and those who just want to look great in photos.

Hurley’s lighting style evolved from a penchant for natural light, so he prefers a continuous light source on location in the studio. When FJ Westcott came out with their line of Flex LED panels, Hurley quickly added them to his gear bag. The pliable, dimmable panels provide continuous light in daylight-only, tungsten-only and bi-color options. “I now have flat panels that I can roll up and take my entire lighting system with me,” Hurley says.

Hurley’s lively style of directing are key to making a subject come alive in front of the camera, but his lighting expertise is equally as important. Typically, he sets the lights, layered with diffusion panels, between 60-80% power for headshots (for subjects who are extremely sensitive to light, he can go as low as 20%), which gives him an exposure setting of about 1/100th second shutter speed at f/6.3-f/8 at ISO 200. Hurley has his technique down to a science, and one of his methods has been to develop a different approach to the way he photographs men and women.

The Feminine Side

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Photo © Peter Hurley

When photographing women, Hurley uses either a three- or four-light setup. For the former, he arranges a trio of Flex LED panels in a triangle with 1 x 3-foot panels on either side of the subject, facing each other. A 1 x 2-foot Flex LED panel is placed underneath to illuminate a little detail under the chin. This configuration provides more definition around the jaw line and a little more detail in the skin tones. While Hurley prefers the catchlights—the cornerstone of his work—created by the triangle setup, it’s best used when the subject has flawless skin.

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Square lighting configuration with for Flex LED panels

A square configuration is more flattering for the rest of us whose skin isn’t quite perfect, and is also a better option when shooting more than one subject. Reminiscent of window light, positioning 1 x 3-foot panels on either side of the subject, with 1 x 2-foot panels above and below creates a gorgeous, clean, shadowless beauty light. He’ll sometimes strobe the background to create a kick from behind that wraps light around the jawline and provides a little highlight on the cheekbone (Tip: have subjects with long hair pull it back into a ponytail so the hair doesn’t block the kicker light).

The Masculine Side

Shelby Glazer final

Photo © Peter Hurley

When it comes to men, “I like to shadow up guys,” Hurley says. “I like to show wrinkles, lines and details, and I especially like to accentuate men’s jawlines.” He sets up two 1 x 3-foot panels on either side, about two feet away from the subject. These panels are positioned even with the center of the earlobe, then Hurley varies the lights’ intensity until he gets the shadow density on the cheek the way he wants it. Two 1 x 2-foot panels are positioned in back as rim lights and are used to create a reflection off the skin in the shadow area for a more dramatic look.

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Hurley’s go-to lighting set up for men.

See Peter Hurley’s personalized Westcott Lighting Kit at  www.westcottu.com/peter-hurley-kit.