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.

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

photo courtesy SinEmbargo

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

header-starter kit

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

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.

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

Winslow Bright final

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.

Peter flex_final

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.

v flats with men's setup final

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

See Peter Hurley’s personalized Westcott Lighting Kit at

July 24th, 2015

6 Photography Tips for Your Next Trip

Sponsored by NYIP

Ah, summer! When life is sweet and vacations are (hopefully) a plenty. Whether you’re going for a short jaunt to a nearby locale or traveling for an extended stay abroad, you want to make pictures that show the region in the richest, most interesting way.

Art Wolfe2

Photo © Art Wolfe

But how do you do that? New York Institute of Photography’s (NYIP) online travel photography course can teach you how to take better photos of the people and places you encounter on any trip. Here are some tips to get you started:

1) Travel lightly and stay organized. Bring only the gear you need: a camera, lenses and portable lighting. Make sure you have more than enough memory cards (you may also want to consider a portable SSD to transfer your files to at the end of each day) or rolls of film so you can shoot freely. And use a bag that is lightweight and has plenty of compartments for you to use so you can stay organized as you photograph.

2) Know how to use your equipment. If you’ve got some new gear, test it ahead of time so you’re not fumbling with settings on location.

3) Research the place you’re visiting. Before you touch down, map out the points of interest you’d like to visit. But don’t feel pressured to stick to a schedule—serendipity is your friend. Strike up conversations when you can to learn about places you might not have found in your initial research.

4) Assess how much exposure locals have to cameras. Look around. Be curious. But approach people slowly if you’re unsure. Photograph objects and travel mates while at times also turning the camera on strangers. Move around a lot, so no one feels particularly singled out by your camera.

5) Treat your subjects with respect. Be upfront about your intentions, and don’t photograph people who don’t want to be photographed. Also, make good on your word: if you said you would send your subjects photos, do so. Being forthcoming and honest is a mark of professionalism.

Peter Guttman2

Photo © Peter Guttman

6) Make formal portraits first and candid pictures after. If you want to make fly-on-the-wall images, it can be helpful first to ask someone if you can take his or her picture (doing so nonverbally, with body language, when there is a language barrier) and at some point, after taking those pictures, make candid images of them. Chances are people who give their okay once don’t mind when you photograph them again.

For photographers interested in learning more about travel photography and taking their skills to the next level, the New York Institute of Photography is a perfect next step. Their online photography classes teach students the skills needed to advance a hobby or start a new career. Learn online, anywhere in the world, and at your own pace with their fully accredited training programs.

July 22nd, 2015

A Dream Tool: Erica Kelly Martin’s Passion for Medium Format Goes Digital

Sponsored by Ricoh Imaging America

Erica Kelly Martin’s fascination with medium-format photography can be traced back to a mirror hanging in her childhood bedroom, which echoed the aspect ratio of a medium-format frame, and which she believed had the power to lead her into a “magical world.” As a teenager, she experimented with medium-format box cameras. Her first real camera, she notes, was a Pentax Spotmatic, and later, the quintessential Pentax K1000. In those days, she says, the darkroom was also a magical place.

Today the Los Angeles-based photographer prefers to work on long-term photographic series about “the interior lives” of people. “How they manifest who they are,” she explains, “or what they would like to be.” Trying to cast off some of the more shallow Hollywood culture that she grew up with for authentic images, she makes work that delves deeper into the identities of her subjects to portray what she calls their “grace and inner light.”


Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

“I believe all photographs are mental constructs, and reflect more about the mind and culture of the artist than about reality,” she explains. “Every picture is in a sense a self-portrait—sometimes we just use surrogates.”

Martin still dusts off her vintage medium-format film cameras on occasion for studio work, but before picking up the Pentax 645Z digital medium-format camera, shooting with a 35mm DSLR was her modus operandi. But now she wonders why she didn’t invest in a medium-format digital camera sooner. “I would like to shoot this way all the time,” she explains. “First of all, because of the optical quality—I just like the way larger format images look. The bokeh (background blur) is so luscious. Second of course is the image quality, which is so fantastic.”

Marissa at Blue Ranch

Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

While the fragility and expense of other digital medium-format cameras were too fragile for her to make the leap, the 645Z checks all the boxes. “It’s the first camera that made medium-format digital photography a possibility for me,” she says.

It’s the camera she takes along with her for activities as disparate as a wedding on a beach, a landscape shoot amongst canyons, or a portrait project in the studio. It’s also the camera she reaches for when she’s simply lounging around the pool.

She says she’s looking forward to trying out the “sturdy and weatherproofed” 645Z in more challenging conditions, like the Burning Man playa in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert—one of her favorite places to shoot. This means exposing it to harsh conditions: “windstorms blowing fine dust are a constant; as are extreme temperatures, knocking around on bicycles, climbing huge art installations, and dancing till dawn,” she says. In the past, she had to wrap her cameras in plastic, put them in waterproof cases, or tape them up to protect them. “All that got in the way of working in a fast-paced and demanding environment.”

“The main thing I look for in a camera system is that it behaves like an extension of my arm,” she continues. “It has to function on an intuitive level, and if things I want to easily accomplish are hidden deep in some menu, it interferes with my creative process.” She explains that her workflow is simplified with this camera. “The crop is right, the color rendition is spot on, and the sharpness and clarity are exceptional. I now realize how much I had to do to get 35mm images to look the way I wanted them.”

In addition, the aspect ratio of the 645Z reminds her of working with a Pentax 6×7 or a vintage 4×5 “and for some reason, I naturally see in that way,” she says. “This camera does it for me perfectly, as the native image aspect ratio is 4:3.” The 645Z also boasts a 51.4 megapixel CMOS sensor, which Martin says has the ability to bring the deepest shadows in an image “back from the dead” and a high ISO range (up to 204,800) for the ability to work in any type of lighting situation.


Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

Because the subjects of Martin’s shoots vary—from the street to documentary projects to nature to architecture to portraiture — she needs a variety of lenses, Her glass of choice? “I presently have two of the prime lenses—the 55mm and the 90mm Macro, both of which are f/2.8. [They] are my go-to lenses for what I shoot. I am looking forward to trying out the 120mm Macro and perhaps a zoom of some sort, as well as the 75 mm ‘Pancake’ lens for street work.”

Martin says she’s feeling greatly inspired while shooting with this camera, and is even considering the transition into the moving image, knowing she now has what she calls, “a creative tool to match my imagination.”

To learn more about Pentax 645z, visit and see more of Erica Martin’s work, visit



July 22nd, 2015

Alec Soth Offering Free “Winnebago Workshop” To Teen Artists


Photographer Alec Soth and his Little Brown Mushroom (LBM) publishing imprint recently announced a hiatus from bookmaking to pursue a new initiative: The Winnebago Workshop, “a mobile classroom that puts artists with teens to create multimedia stories.”

The first free, weeklong workshop is coming up during the week of August 17–22, and Soth and LBM are currently seeking applications from artists age 16–18 who’d like to “drive wherever the wind blows us” and work on storytelling projects.

According to LBM’s Galen Fletcher, Soth’s own teen experiences with art were part of the inspiration to launch the workshops, which are supported by a Knight Foundation grant. “[He] wants to offer an experience that could make that significant of an impact on other teen artists,” Fletcher said in an email to PDN.

Another factor was the success of LBM’s “Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers,” which invited photographers, writers and designers to exchange ideas about storytelling in a setting described as ‘more summer camp than classroom.'”

The Winnebago Workshop application asks applicants to submit artwork, a self-portrait, a story that gives a sense of their personality and a description of their “dream field trip.”

Applications are due by August 3.

Related: Collaborative Duos: Alec Soth and Brad Zellar Explore What Community Means Today
Alec Soth on Wandering, Storytelling and Robert Adams vs. Weegee
The Great American Songbook

July 22nd, 2015

PDN Video Pick: Casey Brooks and Acre Creative for Aéropostale

In a new 30-second spot for Aéropostale set to appear on a video billboard in Manhattan’s Times Square, Casey Brooks directs a squad of midriff-baring female dancers to illustrate the extreme elasticity of the brand’s new jeans. Creative director Brad Shaffer at the agency Acre Creative brought in Brooks to make the spot for Aéro, giving her a brief to capture an “appropriately sexy” vibe, evidenced by sweeping steadicam closeups of the stretchy jeans hugging the dancers’ curves.

“It’s not provocative, more positive,” Brooks says. She credits choreographer Mishay Petronelli with bringing an abundance of energy to the screen, choreographing seven different 30- to 45-second routines to seven different songs for Brooks to choose from when assembling the final cut with editor Manuel Barenboim. “It’s better for editing,” Brooks says of the music selection. “It gives you different energies to pull from.” The final spot features the Angel Haze track “New York.”

The dancers rehearsed for three days for the two-day location shoot in New York City. One took place on a rooftop in Brooklyn, and another in a warehouse in the Bronx. Petronelli, who has served as Beyonce’s stand-in on a recent world tour and will tour with Janet Jackson later this year, also appears in the video (you can catch her freestyling in front of a giant window). Brendan Stumpf was director of photography, and Ruy Sánchez Blanco the post producer.

The spot will run online as well as on a video billboard.