THE HOPEFULS... A few years back I went to Foam Museum in Amsterdam for a conference tagged “What’s Next?” which aimed to look at the future of photography. Including prestigious speakers such as curator and writer Charlotte Cotton, and Fred Ritchin, the dean of the school at ICP in New York, the talk that made the biggest impact on me was by conceptual artist Thomas Ruff. Ruff gave a typically off-beat lecture, showing a series of slides that he claimed showed his shots of Mars; eventually, he laughed and admitted they were taken from the NASA website and added, “What’s next? That’s in the minds of the next generation.” As Ruff pointed out, all the assembled experts were well into their careers; what we really needed to see were presentations from younger photographers. Though they are still learning, and though they may be making work that’s still naive or even derivative, these emerging image-makers have the new ideas and fresh perspectives that will keep photography moving. So it’s great to be able to present the finalists of the AOP Student Awards 2015 in this issue, which includes image-makers from all over the world. It’s also great to be able to give them some support because, no matter how fresh their ideas, making
Portrait © Jonathan Worth www.jonathanworth.com
it in the photography industry is tough, especially in today’s economic climate. The winners will be announced in July, but I hope you’ll agree with me that all the finalists deserve some attention and all the support they can get. Elsewhere this issue we look at other cutting-edge takes on photography, profiling three ad campaigns that use the blurring boundaries between moving and still images to catch consumers’ eyes, and an editorial that also ended up with moving content. Three of London’s best agents, meanwhile, urge photographers to shoot personal work if they are to get the best commissions, and talk through how they help their image-makers get these projects seen. Martin Usborne, meanwhile, who specialises in shooting animals for personal, editorial and commercial work, explains more about his forthcoming book, Where Hunting Dogs Rest, which will be published by Kehrer soon.
Diane Smyth Editor
THE LATEST BOOKS, INCLUDING THE GARDENER BY JAN BRYKCZYNSKI
Cover Hidden Charms © Cameron McCool, who is represented by Katy Barker
THE BEST NEW KIT – INCLUDING PANASONIC’S GROUND-BREAKING, 4K STILL AND VIDEO-SHOOTING, LUMIX G RANGE
20 THE WIRE A CEREBRAL MUSIC MAGAZINE WITH AN EMPHASIS ON THE EDGY, THE WIRE IS SAVVY AND HIP, AND HAS PHOTOGRAPHY TO MATCH.
32 MOSAIC THE WELLCOME TRUST’S WEEKLY ONLINE MAGAZINE IMPRESSES WITH ITS PHOTOGRAPHIC CONTENT
48 LDN ANTONY CAIRNS HAS HACKED INTO EBOOK READERS FOR THE LATEST ITERATION OF HIS PROJECT, LDN
54 MOREL BOOKS ARON MOREL SAYS HE FELL INTO PHOTOBOOK PUBLISHING BY ACCIDENT – BUT HE’S NOW ONE OF THE HOTTEST NAMES
63 AOP STUDENT AWARDS 2015 TWO OF THIS YEAR’S JUDGES TALK TO ABOUT HOW THEY FOUND THE EXPERIENCE
86 PHOTO AGENTS PERSONAL PROJECTS ARE ESSENTIAL IF YOU WANT TO WIN BIG COMMISSIONS, SAY LONDON’S LEADING AGENTS
102 NEW ADS
The Association of Photographers (AOP) is a not-for-profit member organisation representing commercial photographers, agents and assistants globally. Based in London (UK) the AOP supports its members with business and legal advice, workshops and talks, a member forum and an annual Awards programme to spotlight the best in commissioned and noncommissioned photography.
MOVING IMAGES ARE HOT STUFF IN ADVERTISING RIGHT NOW – AND PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE GETTING IN ON IT
For more information go to www.the-aop.org
108 MARTIN USBORNE
Contact us at email@example.com
MARTIN USBORNE’S PORTRAITS OF ABANDONED SPANISH DOGS ARE A METAPHOR FOR THE COUNTRY’S WOES
123 ENDFRAME ANIMATED GIFS ARE WILDLY POPULAR ONLINE – AND, FOUND PEDRO AGUILAR, CAN ALSO MAKE A GREAT EXTRA TO OFFER MAGAZINES
Office +44 (0) 20 7739 6669 Image magazine is the publication of the Association of Photographers, UK.
God Listens to Slayer Sanna Charles Ditto Press £25 shop.dittopress.co.uk/
“I have experienced pure fear and total joy watching Slayer, nothing compares and I’m pretty sure nothing ever will,” writes Sanna Charles in her book, God Listens to Slayer. Charles is an accomplished music photographer who’s shot rock stars for Melody Maker and NME, but for this project she turned her attention to the fans. Following Slayer to music festivals across Europe she’s captured acolytes in the first flush of youth and fans who’ve been at it for years, in the heat of the crowd, on their own and with their friends. The book also includes testaments from some of those she’s photographed, explaining the special allure of this enduring rock outfit.
James Mollison Aperture $50 aperture.org/shop/mollison-playground-book
James Mollison has shot apes and owls, studios and collections; this time he’s photographed the places where children can play. It’s a simple premise but, as in his previous book Where Children Sleep, Mollison repeats it across such a broad range of places it becomes a global study of disparity. Some images reflect the poverty of the country in which they were shot, with the kids in Valley View School in Nairobi, Kenya packed into a dirtyard outside shacks, for example. But what’s most striking is the lack of correlation between the wealth of the nation and the opportunities afforded to its children. The children of Gram Panchayat School in Gujarat play against a backdrop of wide-open countryside, for example, while Ugo Foscolo Elementary School in Venice has only a painted basketball court hemmed in by buildings. Other images reflect more regimented attitudes towards child-rearing, meanwhile, showing kids identically clothed, lined up in rows, or both.
Front Lawn Funerals and Cemeteries Cameron Jamie Editions Patrick Frey €62 www.editionpatrickfrey.com
Halloween originated as a Celtic festival, but it’s fair to say that nowhere is it celebrated as creatively as in certain parts of America. And growing up in Los Angeles, Cameron Jamie got to experience an even more theatrical take on it, populated with Hollywood horror monsters and staged in otherwise anodyne suburban front gardens. He’s shot his old neighbourhood in full swing on 31 October since 1984, even making the trip back every year when he was living in Paris; for him, the scenes are a form of vernacular art, which he calls The American Grand Guignol [a drama designed to shock and horrify]. His images deliberately take a step back from the lurid or spectacular, though, recording what must be vibrant depictions of blood, gore and pumpkins in muted tones of grey, to offer a more distanced, alien-eye view of proceedings.
Jan Brykczynski Dewi Lewis £25 www.dewilewis.com/products/the-gardener
A member of the prestigious Sputnik Photos collective, Jan Brykczynski won funding to complete The Gardener from the Syngenta Photography Award, which allowed him to travel the world in search of shots. Working in Nairobi, New York, Warsaw and Yerevan, Armenia, he photographed urban gardens in low-income communities, where food is grown out of necessity rather than as a hobby; focusing on the inventive, creative ways in which these gardens are maintained, his project speaks of resourcefulness in the face of poverty – and, by mixing up the locations, suggests a global movement, or even a universal human instinct. The gardeners, where they’re shown, are dignified and strong; their plots are messy but flourishing, a world away from tightly-manicured flower gardens. Brykczynski’s strong aesthetic helps to unify the images, depicting the land in elegant, pastel tones that suggest the original Garden of Eden – or, perhaps, a post-apocalyptic future.
Drivers in the 1980s
Chris Dorley-Brown, Hoxton Mini Press £12.95 www.hoxtonminipress.com
This book is number 6 in Hoxton Mini Press’ East London Photo Stories series, a range that’s so far included One Day Young by Jenny Lewis, Shoreditch Wild Life by Dougie Wallace, A Portrait of Hackney by Zed Nelson, East London Swimmers by Madeleine Waller, and I’ve Lived in East London for 86½ Years by Martin Usborne. All the books share the same format, measuring a petit 145×205mm and bound with a dark grey spine; unlike its predecessors, Dorley-Brown’s book is an archival project, shot around 30 years ago when he tried colour film for the first time. His theme was simple – drivers stuck in traffic jams – but the seemingly endless summer he depicts, the retro styling and the warm film tones make for an extremely appealing publication. The book includes a revealing short introduction that shows how central cars were to this project but also to his life – the drivers were grid-locked on their way to the Rolls-Royce sell-off; the first photograph he ever took showed his dad in his flash new car, “the most glamorous Ford I had ever seen: a convertible Cortina Mk2”.
I went to the worst of bars hoping to get killed. but all I could do was to get drunk again Ciaran Og Arnold MACK £20 www.mackbooks.co.uk/books/
The title is a quote from Charles Bukowski, but the project was shot in Ballinasloe, a small town in the easternmost corner of Galway, and the project is embedded in its location. A ghost town, hard-hit by Ireland’s economic crisis, Ballinasloe has few prospects for its inhabitants – including the photographer himself – and many of them turn to drink instead. The images show the raucous nights out of a lost generation, those who “claim to hate it here”, as Og Arnold writes, but who actually choose to stay “hiding from reality, drowning in drink and wanting to be left alone as we await whatever fate is in store”. Og Arnold intersperses his shots of people with photographs of the streets and surrounding countryside, always taken at night, and only adding to the sense of isolation and claustrophobia. Born in Ireland in 1977, Og Arnold studied at the University of Ulster and won the 2015 First Book Award with this project, which was published by MACK and exhibited at Media Space, London as a result.
Nik Hartley Mily Kadz €30 www.milykadz.com/everystreet
35-year-old fashion photographer Nik Hartley has an extremely successful day job, working with publications such as i-D, Vogue UK, Garage, Wonderland and many more, but he shot this project for himself. Returning to his native Lancashire for three days he photographed the clientele of Stylz barber shop in Nelson, a former cotton mill town with a high British Asian population, plus snippets of the surrounding area, putting the images together into a handsome limited-edition book. Working in black-and-white to help give the project a sense of coherence, Every Street is a portrait of a community, in a particular time and place; it’s a simple concept but positive, without being tub-thumping, and beautifully rendered. Every Street is published by Mily Kadz, Hartley’s Parisian agent; it’s the photographer’s first book but, he says, it won’t be his last.
Eve Arnold: Magnum Legacy Janine di Giovanni Prestel £29.99 http://www.randomhouse.de
Eve Arnold is the first in a new series of books called Magnum Legacy, each of which will “explore a photographer’s life between and around the photographs”, writes Susan Meiselas, photographer and president of the Magnum Foundation, in the introduction. As such it isn’t a photobook as such, but the extensive text plus Arnold’s images make for a fantastic journey nonetheless. Born in Philadelphia to poor Jewish immigrants who had fled the pogroms in Ukraine, Arnold was a 38-year-old housewife when she enrolled on a six-week photography course; she went on to join one of the most prestigious photo agencies in the world – one of the few women to do so to this day – and to photograph subjects such as Malcolm X and Marilyn Monroe. It’s a fantastic story and lavishly illustrated with both her work and behind-the-scenes material such as her notebooks, her letters and her contact sheets.
Magnum Instagram Collection Scrap Books Thomas Dworzak www.magnumphotos.com
Magnum photographer Thomas Dworzak didn’t take these shots – he’s edited them down from Instagram. It’s the kind of project he’s got form in, because as well as shooting his own work in locations such as Chechnya, Iraq and Kyrgyzstan, he’s long been interested in found imagery. His 2002 project Taliban included prints he found in an abandoned portrait studio in Afghanistan, for example, showing Taliban fighters in wildly romantic, hand-tinted photographs; his series Saddam TV shots 2002, showed TV running kitschy footage of the then-glorious leader. He got interested in Instagram in 2013 when Pope Francis was elected and he stumbled across pictures of pets dressed up as the new leader; he’s been mining for memes every since, turning up subjects such as selfies taken in tanning booths (particularly popular in Russia) and publishing them as one-off books. His latest three publications were made for an exhibition called Failed Leviathon, a contemporary look at war, and include Instagram images posted by people involved in the civil war in the Ukraine. Some violent, some patriotic, some glamorous, it’s the domestic, snapshot quality that makes these images most chilling, showing the short slide from civilian to fighter.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 www.panasonic.co.uk
With its 4K still and video capture, Panasonic is hoping to break new ground with the latest addition to its top-range Lumix G range, which is much smaller than its DSLR competitors. The G7 adds to the 4K features introduced with the GH4, recording “stunningly smooth” QFHD (3840×2160) at 25p, or 24p in MP4, in addition to full HD at 50p in AVCHD Progressive or MP4 (MPEG-4/H.264) format with “practical full-time autofocus”. The G7 introduces three photo modes: 4K Burst Shooting, which shoots 30fps while the user’s finger is pressing the shutter; 4K Burst (Start/ Stop), which is initiated and completed on presses to the shutter; and 4K Pre-burst, which records 60 images after shutter release. The G7 is priced at £599 for the body only. A silver version is available exclusively at Jessops for £679.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM www.canon.co.uk
With its seven-blade circular aperture, minimum focus distance of 35cm, and near-silent focusing, Canon has improved its 50mm f/1.8 prime, while keeping the price below ÂŁ130. A successor to the EF 50mm f/1.8 II, the lens has been kept light (160g) and compact (39mm long), retains a metal mount, and supports 49mm filters or an optional integrated hood.
Pentax K-3 II
This mark II version introduces improved image stabilisation, which enables a new feature aimed at still life photographers. The ‘Pixel Shift Resolution’ feature uses the camera’s built-in shake-reduction mechanism to move the image sensor by single pixel increments, capturing four images that are later combined into a single picture that benefits from higher resolving power and overall image quality, says Ricoh, which owns and manufactures Pentax.
Olympus ultra-wides www.olympus.co.uk
Fast, compact and offering focal ranges equivalent to 14-28mm and 16mm, Olympus has two additions in its ‘pro’ spec Micro Four Thirds series, which extends from fisheye to super telephoto. The M.Zuiko Digital 7-14mm has an f/2.8 maximum aperture and claims to be “about 45 percent lighter than similar competitor products”, making it compact as well as versatile. The zoom is equipped with three Super ED lenses, one ED lens and two EDA lenses help to minimise peripheral chromatic aberration, while the Zero (Zuiko ExtraLow Reflective Optical) coating reduces ghosting. The £1000 lens comes with a fixed lens hood and pinchstyle lens cap. The other, the M.Zuiko 16mm Fisheye f/1.8 Pro, priced at £800, is made from 17 elements in 15 groups, maintaining high resolution to the very edges of the frame. Its closest focusing distance is 2.5cm, and it weighs 315g. The fisheye, said to be the world’s brightest, comes with the same Zero coating, hood and cap at the ultra-wide zoom.
A cerebral music magazine with an emphasis on the edgy, The Wire is savvy and hip, and has photography to match. Commissioning photographers such as Nigel Shafran and Todd Hido, it has created a slick visual identity that ensures it stands out from its peers. Creative director Ben Weaver explains
IMAGE: How would you describe The Wire? BEN WEAVER: The Wire is an independent music
IMAGE: What photography do you commission? Is
it generally portraiture?
magazine with an emphasis on critical engagement with underground and lesser-supported music and musicians. It’s 35 years old, so is quite an institution these days, but it still rails against the mainstream. I’ve heard it described as a bible for serious musicians and music lovers.
BW: Yes, almost entirely. Some still life is required
IMAGE: How would you describe The Wire’s
in are usually fascinating, so I encourage shoots to happen there. It’s also cheaper than studios. But cover concepts often need a studio set-up, or at least lights and a backdrop in a hotel.
approach to photography? BW: Generally my approach to photography is based on a principle of improvisation. My main responsibility is to choose the right photographer for a particular musician. It’s important that the photographer understands the musician and their work, or that I think they will be an interesting match. That’s why I tend to use a lot of different photographers. The photoshoot is a collaboration between them. I offer some guidance – advice and perhaps a wish list – but on the whole I leave them to it. Something interesting will result. I am lucky that the people interviewed in The Wire are always interesting. I encourage experimentation and I favour risk. I like taking a chance on a commission. Then you get surprises, oddities, ambiguities, something ‘wrong’. There are of course exceptions – sometimes we make a plan, mainly on covers, as happened when Jonathan de Villiers shot Battles, Tom Hunter shot SunnO))), or Todd Hido shot Holly Herndon. I will talk with the musicians first, then I will suggest photographers based on our ideas. Sometimes I will go on the shoot, but not often. On the whole, most of it is done on the fly. It does go wrong occasionally, but generally it’s much more rewarding. No one wants a predictable shoot. IMAGE: How much of the photography in the
magazine is original content, commissioned by the magazine? BW: If we can shoot our own photos, then we try to do so. Seven years ago that only applied to the main features. But a few years ago we decided to commission more. Now I will commission anything from a quarter page upwards. It’s mainly features – we still tend to use press shots for new releases.
occasionally. I always try to use an incidental still life in every issue, so I ask photographers to shoot still life as well as portraits of the artists.
IMAGE: Are most of your shots done on location? BW: Often. The environments people live and work
IMAGE: Who have you commissioned in the past? BW: A lot of different people. Bearing in mind
budget and time constraints (one-page features are commissioned about a week before deadline), and the fact that the magazine covers people based in many different places, I need photographers from all over the world.
IMAGE: Why did you commission them? BW: Location is a primary concern, obviously,
then I look for photographers who I imagine might have an affinity with the musician, or at the very least with the music the magazine features. We can afford a small amount of travel costs for covers, so I can focus more on finding the right photographer. One of the greatest privileges of commissioning for The Wire is that I can sometimes offer unique ‘access’ to photographers – an opportunity to shoot, for example, Jandek or Scott Walker.
IMAGE: How do you find photographers? BW: I check places like Self Publish, Be Happy
[London-based independent publisher of photobooks], Aint-Bad Magazine, and then of course books and group shows. And I ask people for recommendations.
IMAGE: How are the photographs used? For
example, is it in print and online only, or are there other uses? BW: Print is still our primary concern. The magazine is available as a digital edition, but at the moment it’s a facsimile of the print magazine.
Cover image ÂŠ Alec Soth
Image ÂŠ Eva Vermandel
Image ÂŠ Jamie Hawkesworth
Cover image ÂŠ Nigel Shafran
Cover image ÂŠ Pieter Hugo
Image ÂŠ Tara Darby
Cover image ÂŠ Mark Peckmezian
Image ÂŠ Tom Hunter
Image ÂŠ Wolfgang Tillmans
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The Wellcome Trustâ€™s weekly online magazine commissions top-notch original work and has just been shortlisted for a photography prize at the Online Media Awards. Art director Peta Bell offers an insight into the siteâ€™s success
IMAGE: What is Mosaic? PETA BELL: Mosaic is an online publication
created by the Wellcome Trust. Every week, at mosaicscience.com, Mosaic publishes a long feature on an aspect of biology or medicine that affects people’s lives, health or society.
IMAGE: How many stories do you put out? PB: We publish one story every Tuesday, plus extras
has been commissioned solely for use with that story. It makes it special. The written articles on Mosaic are covered by a Creative Commons licence (CC-BY 4.0), so you can republish them for free. The images are not generally available under the same terms, so it’s always nice when other publications choose to use the imagery as well. With the turnaround that newspapers and websites work under, images can be a second thought. You can end up with some shocking stock imagery to fill in the gaps where the original pictures should be.
– shorter stories, films, image galleries, etc – that add context to the main stories. Wellcome Images also has some great science acquisitions, so if there is anything suitable I will use these images for the ‘extra’ articles.
IMAGE: What can photography bring to the
IMAGE: What kind of photography do you
PB: I don’t have a science background, and I don’t
commission? PB: The photography depends on the feature. I read a draft of the story and then work out in which direction I want to take the visuals, and who I want to approach. Overall there is a strong emphasis on conceptual photography, but I also commission photojournalists and fashion photographers. I look for a particular style and match the imagery to the text. IMAGE: How much of the photography on Mosaic
is an original commission?
PB: All of the photography for the main features
is commissioned from scratch, and quite a lot for the extras is too. We wanted Mosaic to be full of interesting and intriguing work, and the only way to do that is to commission it ourselves. We hope people will come to the site to see the imagery as well as the words – that way we are reaching a larger audience.
IMAGE: Why do you commission original work? PB: There’s no way that Mosaic would be as
interesting visually if we used stock photography. I have worked at newspapers, magazines and websites, where you have to rely on stock images, but we produce only one feature a week, and while that keeps me on my toes I am grateful to have the time to make sure each feature has something that
think the features necessarily need “science” images. I would prefer our readers to be challenged and use their clever brains to work out what the imagery means to them, rather than spelling it out for them. I hope the photography on the website actually brings in a new audience for Mosaic. While a lot of our readers have an interest or background in science, I also want people like me to click on the website and discover new and interesting things.
IMAGE: How do you find the photographers you
work with? PB: I worked as a picture editor/creative producer before joining Mosaic. Mostly I did fashion and portrait shoots, so there are people who I have worked with before that I know would take the risk of doing something out of the box for me. Other photographers have contacted me, and I’ve also found a lot of interesting new photographers through Instagram. IMAGE: What are your rates? PB: They vary, but we pay pretty standard
editorial rates. Luckily the work is interesting and challenging, so people will do it for the project rather than the money.
All images courtesy of mosaicscience.com
Blocking the high: one manâ€™s quixotic quest to cure addiction Image: David Maurice Smith/Oculi
Breaking bad news Image: Rory van Millingen
Colour to dye for Image: Luke Evans
Can you supercharge your brain? Image: Brea Souders and Gemma Tickle
DIY Prosthetics: the extreme athlete who build a knee Image: Anna Lomax and Catherine Losing
Exclusive: Extra image for on of our June pieces on Attitudes towards facial disfigurement. Piece is untitled at the moment. Image: Anthony Gerace
Lovely grub: are insects the future of food? Image: Gustav Almest책l
Porklife: building a better pig Image: Lauren Lancaster
Science for the people! Image: Damien Tran
DIY Prosthetics: the extreme athlete who build a knee Image: Anna Lomax and Catherine Losing
The male suicides: how social perfectionism kills Image: Damien Tran
The man who grew eyes Image: Kyle Bean and Grzegorz Krzeszowiec
Where thereâ€™s smoke Image: Luke Evans
This is what happens after you die Image: Lightning + Kinglyface and Jess Bonham
A young London-based photographer has hacked into old ebook readers to create 200 individual digital publications. Diane Smyth finds out more
Antony Cairns’ book LDN has already been a runaway success – originally published as a handmade limited-edition photobook in June 2010, it sold out quickly. A second edition called LDN2, published in July 2013, was nominated for Best Photobook 2013 at the Fotobook Festival in Kassel and long-listed for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 2014. Prints from the series were also exhibited at Les Rencontres d’Arles in 2013. A third, expanded book version, LDN3, was published in July 2014 and sold out quickly. A brooding take on life in modern London, the images in LDN are dark in every sense of the word, depicting the capital, devoid of life at night, in sombre tones of black and grey. The project was originally inspired by the novelist JG Ballard, and his insight that our current society will be judged in future by what remains of its architecture. In his introduction, Cairns also references another writer, William Gibson, and his interest in the “nearfuture”. This interest in science fiction and the muted tones he’s used for the project have inspired the book’s latest iteration, LDN E1, a version published and distributed on hacked, second-hand ebook readers. “They’re basically small computers, so I’ve hacked into the software to put my images in it,” says Cairns. “I really like the technology of it – the e-ink really matches the images I’ve been taking. I print them on aluminium, so they end up being black and silver and grey, not black-and-white. E-ink technology is like an Etch A Sketch – it moves the black and white pixels around. It looks great. “I got the idea from Gibson – I love Neuromancer. In it he writes about going five minutes into the future, where people go into the dark web using computers they’ve customised themselves. I love that idea; it’s a bit geeky I guess, but I’m really happy I got to do it.” Computer love Cairns sourced a couple hundred readers on sites such as ebay and Gumtree, and at flea markets and junk shops, and taught himself how to reconfigure the software by going onto forums. “Once you know how to do it, it’s easy – but I thought this at the beginning of last year and it’s taken this long to do it,” he says. “You just have to search ‘hacking in’ and you’ll get results, but then it’s a question of whether you understand them. In the end I did.” And if he had to learn the hard way, he’s had
to make things easy for his readers, deliberately limiting their options as they scroll through the publication and physically sealing off buttons and controls on the ebooks that could send them off in the wrong direction. He’s also decided to include all of the series related to his original LDN project – including the expanded LDN3 version, a preview of LDN4, LPT (London-Paris-Toyko) and LA-LV (Los Angeles-Las Vegas) – and more images than were in the original edits, plus the texts, a couple of reviews and an interview he’s picked up along the way. “Any big city I go to, I try to capture the same feeling of urban-ness,” he says. “And since I was making something that was kind of digital on what is essentially a computer, I wanted to give all the pictures of everything. Even the projects that have just 18 or 20 [images in the series], I’ve included all 60 images [from the larger edit]. If I’m going to make this thing, I might as well put everything in it. “In the future I’ll have this ability to update, so I can upload the latest version, with an explanation of how to put another series in it, and another book,” he continues. “And I’ve included text because it is an ebook after all, so it’s nice for people to actually do a bit of reading.” Cairns launched the book at the Offprint photobook fair at Tate Modern, London, and live-hacked into books as part of Self Publish, Be Happy’s programme of events there – when I interviewed him he still had a couple of weeks to go, but said he was looking forward to it. He’s charging £150 per ebook reader – a healthy price, but not out of the ordinary for a handmade artist’s book, especially given the amount of work he’s including – and is aiming to sell it at galleries, festivals and specialist bookshops. Kominek Books in Berlin, for example, a gallery/publisher/bookshop that describes photobooks as works of art, has been taking prelaunch orders for the past couple of months. ‘It’s tricky because I can’t just send it to bookshops; you really have to see it,” says Cairns. “You know, people like objects. I like objects. Ebooks haven’t been working so well when you get them on your iPad, because you have your iPad that you watch movies on, and then suddenly it’s a book, but it’s still just your iPad. But I’ve customised the book so the whole thing is unique. Each one is different. I think it could be quite a success, but we’ll see.”
LDN EI by Antony Cairns – the EI stands for “Electronic Ink” and this incarnation of his already wildly successful project is presented on hacked ebook readers. Images © Antony Cairns
One of the hottest names in the booming photobook scene, Aron Morelâ€™s publishing company is run on passion, inspiration and surprisingly good business sense, finds Diane Smyth
Aron Morel set up Morel Books in late 2009, initially publishing small, print-run zines and working with emerging artists such as Jonnie Craig or Alexander Binder. Just six years later it’s one of the hottest photobook publishers around, publishing beautifully printed hardback monographs by well-established photographers such as Nobuyoshi Araki, Thomas Ruff, Boris Mikhailov and Ryan McGinley, as well as well-chosen, cutting-edge artists such as Sam Falls, Daniel Gordon and Lucas Blalock. It’s an impressive trajectory, and he’s not finished yet – Morel recently joined forces with some of London’s other key photobook publishers to employ a joint rep who they hope will help open up America. And it’s all the more impressive when you find out how Morel operates – unlike many other photography book publishers, including some of the biggest names in the business, he doesn’t ask photographers to help fund their books, dismissing such approaches as “vanity” publishing. “I don’t, in all honesty, understand how that works,” he says. “If you’re taking €20,000 from the artist and you print 1000 books, do you then end up repaying the artist for the sales? Or do you just give them a few books? It’s an awful way to become a collector, because you haven’t taken any risks.” Morel, by contrast, is an accomplished risktaker, ploughing the income from one book into the next, publishing artists well before they hit the big time, and generally just optimistically giving things a go. His first book with Mikhailov came about because he admired the photographer’s work and wrote to his gallery; the pair are now working on a second project. “I had only done a few books, but I completely admired Boris, so I just gave it a chance,” he says. “Boris was completely cool with it, and I was like, ‘Wow! How is that possible?’” Book club Morel is young and approachable; he sounds American but actually grew up in Paris, Rome and Istanbul, with a Turkish mother and an Egyptian father. He moved to London in 1997 to study law. Offered a camera by chance when he was pawning his minidisc player, he soon discovered he loved taking pictures and taught himself how to print them by hanging around in the university darkrooms. “People thought I was into photography for a couple of years because I spent so much time in the darkroom,” he laughs. “And I spent a lot of time in the library.” Back then photobooks weren’t the phenomenon they are now and there were far fewer publishers, but by pouring through publications by Taschen Books, Scalo and Lustrum Press he quickly found photographers such as Juergen Teller, Wolfgang Tillmans or Paul Graham. He then discovered the healthy photography section in the Charing Cross
Road Borders store and started buying books, sometimes surreptitiously folding over the corners to get a 10 percent discount. “I was a student and it made the world of difference,” he laughs. “I’ve got a whole part of my library which has folded corners.” It’s an experience that has stuck with him, both in terms of how he sees photography and how he wants to operate. “Taschen and Scalo used to make photobooks affordable – in the early days I could buy a book like Tokyo Lucky Hole [by Araki] for just £15. And 15 years on, because of that, I still have that philosophy of making the books as accessible as possible to a younger generation,” he says. “The Ryan McGinley [Moonmilk, which Morel published in 2009] almost completely sold out pre-sale [in orders put in before it had actually come out] – I could easily have put it up to £35 or £40, but we kept it at £25. I know libraries and bookshops totally influenced the way I look at photography and books – most of my experience of photography is via the book.” He’d long had ambitions to set up his own publishing company but, initially, inspired by poets such as Shelley and Rimbaud, who published their own work, he wanted to work with writers. But he’d got into photography because he was interested in combining the words with images, and when he showed Gerard Malanga a zine he’d made out of found photographs, the poet suggested they do something with that instead. “Then places like [specialist photography bookshop] Dashwood Books picked it up” and the rest, as they say, is history. The early years were ad hoc and hand-to-mouth, and have all the hallmarks of a lark. Two or three of the early zines were printed on a demo copier, for example, that Morel supposedly had on trial from a printer. Then “the idea of doing a larger edition, and having the challenge of distributing the books further afield became interesting”, as he puts it, “because doing 200 zines is one thing, but the logistics of trying to distribute 1000 books that are heavier is another”. Morel initially approached a distributor called Motto, which was also just setting up, but when he was knocked back, took it as an opportunity to do things himself instead. “I didn’t want to go with a massive company [a third-party distributor such as DAP] and lose all control; I wanted to go to the kind of small, independent bookshops I like visiting,” he says. “I thought it would be nice to stick together with other small companies and keep it in the same community. It was all about forging relationships, and that meant we created our own network.” Morel still maintains those relationships now; in fact, he sees them as critical, because he sees his role as fitting between the artist and the bookshop,
and ensuring the right books get seen. But these days he’s keen to ensure he’s in major gallery shops too, because while potential buyers might not have heard of fantastic, boutique but often little-known stores, they will definitely have heard of institutions such as Tate or MoMA, and if they’re there will probably find their way to the shop. In fact, this ambition is partly how he came to collaborate with the other London publishers, because “the MoMA book buyer kept coming to London to come to the London Book Fair, and we kept meeting and speaking and I was like, ‘Well don’t just meet with me, meet with all of the other London publishers’”. It sounds altruistic, but it was good business sense, as it meant they could all be seen at one time and gather strength in numbers. As Morel explains: “I set up meetings with the other London publishers so he could meet them all, and so I could say to him, ‘You’re not only trying to buy from Morel, if you start buying from other small publishers there’s all of this that you’re opening up to. You could maybe open up a section in the midst of MoMA dedicated to smaller publishers. We could conglomerate all our organisations if it helps facilitate your ordering process.’ “The main thing in publishing is creating the relationship with the artist, and creating the relationship with the bookshop, because the shop is taking a massive risk by taking up stock and trying to put money into a concept,” he continues. “The [financial] breakdown of a book is ridiculous – everyone’s making such small margins out of it.”
Facilitator And despite his success – and despite being featured in magazines such as Purple and The New York Times’ T Magazine – Morel sees his role as simply facilitating, helping photographers realise their vision, then ensuring it gets into readers’ hands. Unlike most publishers Morel doesn’t use designers (in fact, he says he dreads them) because, in his experience, “They can’t position themselves between having a functional job and being creative, so they want to be creative in an artistic way, which hampers the fact that a photobook is really just transmitting information from the artist to the reader without becoming gimmicky.” Instead, he looks for photographers who want to make something more, like an artists’ book, giving them control over exactly what’s shown and how, and simply offering suggestions based on his rapidly expanding knowledge of publishing. Morel is also open to submissions, suggesting photographers simply mail him with a short text and some images; he then picks out what he likes, aiming for six or so books per year. “We can throw ideas back and forth, but the main aim is to encourage the artists to make what they feel is their ultimate book,” he says. “I don’t know if I have a creative bit; I’m in such admiration of people who are creative. It’s like making a record collection – I’m just a groupie, and I consummate my admiration through making a book.”
May the Circle Remain Unbroken by Corinne Day
Windows Mirrors Tabletops by Lucas Blalock
Nobuyoshi Araki: Marvelous Tales Of Black Ink
Night and Day by David Armstrong
Sterne by Thomas Ruff
Two of this yearâ€™s Student Awards judges, George Logan and Richard Maxted, talk to Rachel Segal Hamilton about how they found the experienceâ€Ś
AOP STUDENT AWARDS 2015
Winning an award can be a real career boost, especially when you’re just starting out. With so many young photographers graduating each year, an award helps distinguish your work from everyone else’s. The AOP’s Student Awards offer the chance to appear in two group shows (on and offline), AOP membership, studio time, printing vouchers and free equipment hire. Their format also offers a unique taste of how the industry works, because instead of giving each category a theme, the organisation gives each one a brief, like the kind of brief a working photographer might get for a job. This year’s AOP Student Awards asked photographers to come up with an image to be used on social media as part of an animal conservation campaign, for example, or to shoot a front cover for a Sunday supplement. The briefs were set by the judges, all of whom were professional photographers – Wendy Carrig, Richard Maxted, George Logan and Tim Flach. Logan set the brief for the animal charity, drawing on his own experience of shooting this kind of work. “I tried to set the brief as the best possible job that I could get – something that would fire up their enthusiasm,” he explains. “It needed to be something they could feel passionate about and where they could express a photographic style.” Maxted, by contrast, asked entrants to submit polished product shots of second-hand items they’d sourced from Sense charity shops. “I was aware that students don’t have tonnes of cash to buy stuff,” he says. “[And while] it’s easy to take a beautiful picture of a Ferrari... to find something in a charity shop and make it look appealing, even aspirational, is a challenge.” Both looked for entries that managed to nail the brief successfully, but also add something creative, clever or unusual. “Charity advertising is everywhere and people become slightly numb to it, so you need a strong image that stops them,” he says. The best submissions, in his view, were often emotive images that had a strong message but remained open to multiple interpretations. For Maxted, it was the photographer’s ability to make fairly ordinary objects appear expensive by building a visual atmosphere.
Both judges noticed a diversity of approaches in the entries, something which Logan said came as quite a relief. “I was half-expecting there to be hundreds of Instagram-type things, and I’m glad that didn’t happen,” he says. “I think that’s a trend that will come and go. It’s not been my favourite photographic period – everything looking like it’s been snapped on someone’s phone.” “There were some really nice, well thoughtout photos,” adds Maxted. “It’s a privilege to see emerging talent’s work for the first time.” For Logan, in fact, the AOP Student Awards gave him his first big chance, back when he was studying and made it to the finals. “It was fun to judge. I revisited [the entries] every day because I remember how important it was to me when I was a student, so I wanted to make sure everybody got a good viewing,” he says. Maxted, meanwhile, urges other students to enter the prize next year. “If you don’t win, you don’t win, but if you don’t try, you’re definitely not going to win,” he points out. In the meantime, all students who join the AOP will automatically transition to a junior assistants’ programme on graduation for six months at no cost, after which membership costs £25. Those who haven’t studied can also sign up for it direct. After a year as a junior assistant, they’ll be eligible to sit a competency test to qualify as an assistant. The Finalists Matthew Airey Mark Allan Sara Baena Joanne Banks Kirstin Barnes George Baxter Sam Bennett Julija Bernatovica Jade Berry Charity Bevis Richard Black David Brennan Jadwiga Bronte Harry Brown Jennifer Brown John Buckley
Alice Clarkson Laura Cogan Will Davies Michael Deville Katarzyna Drazek Patrick Durston Penelope Eyre Emily Faulder Mathew Jones Jessica Kelly Rebecca Lamb Eleni Laparidou Anneleen Lindsay Douglas McCaffrey Samantha Nevey Marina Ortega
Ross Parker Adele Plunkett David Pocock Samantha Robbins Lauren Russell Claudia Scandella Louis Schreyer Luke Smith Jonathan Sparkman Efthymios Stamatiadis Morgan Stephenson Pavel Tamm Camille Valbusa Imogen Wall Olivia Wilford
A selection of the best Student Awards images from this year’s contest will be exhibited at theprintspace in Hoxton later this summer. The winners will be announced in July. For more information, visit the AOP website the-aop.org/awards/aop-student-awards-2015
Image ÂŠ Kirstin Barnes, Brand Image, Charity category
Image ÂŠ Sara Baena, Brand Image, Charity category
Image ÂŠ Imogen Wall, Brand Image, Charity category
Image ÂŠ Luke Smith, Brand Image, Charity category
Image ÂŠ Camille Valbusa, Brand Image, Charity category
Image ÂŠ Matthew Airey, Sense, Product Shot category
Image ÂŠ Julija Bernatovica, Sense, Product Shot category
Image ÂŠ Eleni Laparidou, Sense, Product Shot category
Image ÂŠ Adele Plunkett, Sense, Product Shot category
Image ÂŠ Jonathan Sparkman, Sense, Product Shot category
Image ÂŠ Charity Bevis, Social Media Animal Conservation category
Image ÂŠ George Baxter, Social Media Animal Conservation category
Image ÂŠ Patrick Durston, Social Media Animal Conservation category
Image ÂŠ Samantha Nevy, Social Media Animal Conservation category
Image ÂŠ Samantha Robbins, Social Media Animal Conservation category
Image ÂŠ Joanne Banks, Sunday Supplement category
Image ÂŠ Samuel Bennett, Sunday Supplement category
Image ÂŠ Harry Brown, Sunday Supplement category
Image ÂŠ Jessica Kelly, Sunday Supplement category
Image ÂŠ Pavel Tamm Sunday Supplement category
Self-initiated projects are crucial to any commercial photographers portfolio, with some agents estimating they pay off within 18 months. Eliza Williams reports
For as long as there has been commercial photography, there has been the ‘personal project’ – the body of work created on the side that sums up an artist’s true style and vision. This work sometimes directly informs commercial projects, and sometimes sits entirely apart from it, but it’s nearly always the imagery that clients are most interested in seeing. Agents are also interested in this work, and can and will take photographers onto their books on the strength of their personal work – particularly at the start of their careers, when they have little else to show. “From the start of my career, I have always worked with and supported young talent,” says Katy Barker, a long-standing agent who has helped build the careers of photography giants such as Terry Richardson and Craig McDean. “A huge part of my work is to support a photographer whose authenticity stems from personal work. Terry Richardson and Carter Smith, among others, both joined me with a large body of personal work and continued to produce private imagery throughout the course of their careers. “More recently, Michal Pudelka joined me with only personal work, which was impressive and fresh,” she adds. “This work inspired many creatives to work with him. I believe personal work is essential; it embodies a photographer’s true vision and creativity. It is the gateway inspiration for art directors and editors alike.” As Barker suggests, working on personal projects isn’t just for newbies; it’s an essential wherever you are in your career. “I think it’s important for photographers to pursue their own interests,” agrees Chris McGuigan, director at Mini Title, one of London’s hottest agencies. “A commission tends to be an interpretation of a photographer’s aesthetic. In the history of photography, the best work has generally been produced by a photographer working under his or her own steam. This isn’t a criticism of commissioned work at all; it’s just a different challenge. Personal work is a unified vision, and a commission is a collaboration. I do, however, dislike the term personal project. It feels a bit hobbyist.” Daisy Parker, director at London and New Yorkbased Webber Represents, meanwhile, describes personal projects as one of the most powerful routes for an artist to portray what inspires them. “Put simply, it’s what generates and maintains interest in the work you are producing, and it will often lead to better commissions,” she says. “We work closely with all our photographers on planning personal projects for the coming year and beyond. Most of our photographers have at least two or three projects on the go at any given time, and we work with them to ensure they can achieve what they
want to shoot and will collaborate on the edit. For us it is also about supporting our artists’ integrity and development.” As Parker says, many agents will help photographers with their personal work, though it is nearly always funded by the photographers themselves. Barker will often pitch in on the final edit, for example, while McGuigan likes to get in on the ground with ideas. “Some are very selfmotivated in that regard, but it really depends on the nature of their practice,” he says. “For a fashion photographer, it’s not great for imagery to be unpublished, so editorials perform some of the function of personal expression. We help a lot with that kind of thing. For a personal project, most of the time our involvement isn’t really needed, but we like to help where we can. I like to send interesting references they may not have seen to try to spark their imagination from time to time.” Supporting role Webber Represents is now getting more involved with promoting personal work to clients, launching a Gallery Space initiative that exists as a physical exhibition space in its London offices, and as a virtual space on its website. At the time of writing, the gallery was showing The Experience Vol. 1 by Magdalena Wosinska, a collection of self-portraits shot in various locations around the world over the past four years. It has also been published as a book. Previous exhibitions include Bilsner, IL, by photographer Daniel Shea, which was also published as a book. “We have always wanted our own gallery, and with the industry now more interested in personal work, and particularly for the artists we represent, it felt like a natural development,” explains Parker. “We have a collection of shows scheduled for the next 18 months, predominantly featuring the artists we represent, alongside an exciting programme consisting of installations and book launches.” The gallery is a great marketing tool for the agency, as well as its photographers, and Webber Represents will be taking its prints to the Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam this September. But while Mini Title’s McGuigan agrees that exhibitions and books now help commercial photographers get work, he believes it’s better to get the validation of an established gallery or publisher. “I encourage my photographers to publish, exhibit or find other ways to reach their audience,” he says. “However, I don’t see the necessity of a photographer doing that under the banner of an agency. If a photographer is keen to publish or exhibit, I believe they should aim high and do it with a specialist. A book published by Morel will be better, hold more weight, and have a greater
impact on the artist’s reputation than one published by their agent.” And, he adds, doing personal work isn’t just good publicity – it can also help photographers create better work. “Shooting is the best way to get better as a photographer,” he says. “So it will always expand on their abilities and creative output, even if it doesn’t make the portfolio.” Parker believes the benefits are limitless. “We can and do market a photographer through a strong piece of personal work, generating interest and often a clearer understanding of the scope of the photographer. This is especially powerful at client meetings, press events, shows and on social media. Most personal projects we produce will see direct financial rewards within 18 months.”
katybarker.com minititle.com webberrepresents.com
Image from the personal series Army of Me ÂŠ Michal Pudelka, who is represented by Katy Barker
Image from an advertising shoot for Valentino ÂŠ Michal Pudelka, who is represented by Katy Barker
Image from the personal series The Grey Line ÂŠ Jo Metson Scott, who is with the agency Webber Represents
The photobook version of The Grey Line ÂŠ Jo Metson Scott, which was published by Dewi Lewis and voted one of the best of the year by Time, The Observer and The Telegraph in 2013. Jo Metson Scott is with the agency Webber Represents
Image from the personal series Blisner IL ÂŠ Daniel Shea, who is with the agency Webber Represents
Daniel Sheaâ€™s exhibition Blisner IL on show at the Webber Gallery Space; the project was also published as a book by fourteen-nineteen
Image from the personal series The Experience Vol 1 ÂŠ Magdalena Wosinska, who is with the agency Webber Represents
Magdalena Wosinskaâ€™s exhibition The Experience Vol 1 on show at the Webber Gallery Space; the project was also published as an artistâ€™s book
Image from a shoot for the Flos lighting company ÂŠ Carl Kleiner, who is represented by Mini Title
A personal shot ÂŠ Chadwick Tyler, who is represented by Mini Title
A personal shot from the series 26 States ÂŠ Jack Davison, who is represented by Mini Title
An image from an editorial commission from T Magazine, China ÂŠ Qiu Yang, who is represented by Mini Title
The boundaries between moving and still images are getting ever thinner, and savvy commercial photographers are now turning their hand to both. Interviews by Lauren Heinz and Rachel Segal Hamilton.
KEEP MOVING MILES ALDRIDGE
The best fashion photographers have an immediately recognisable style; Miles Aldridge is among the best, and his vision is immaculate, decadent and near-psychedelic. But while he is best known for his work on magazines such as Vogue Italia and brands such as MAC cosmetics, his most recent commission was from British interior design store Habitat, to create two 30-second ads for the brand’s first TV campaign. The pitch was based on the idea of voyeurism – a great topic for the image-maker as his work is often suffused with a slightly sinister atmosphere. Up against two directors, and with no showreel of moving image work, he won the commission on the strength of his ideas, plus his working relationship with the Portas ad agency. “I have a working history with Anthony Cassidy, the creative director, so he knew my approach and understood how my attention to detail can be translated into the moving image,” says Aldridge. “It was very satisfying to win the project over two ‘real’ directors.” The first ad to be released features a couple kissing passionately on a sofa before moving into what one assumes is the bedroom; the camera, which is framed as if we are peeping in from outside, stays on the orange sofa, revealed as the focus of the attention. “I was given the theme of voyeurism to re-interpret and from that created the idea of a couple snogging on the sofa, which felt suitably uncomfortable for the viewer,” says Aldridge. “I was given a lot of freedom to interpret the theme, which is basically the point of booking someone like me, who has a strong visual style – but it was still a very collaborative approach.” Both ads, the second of which goes live in October, were shot on the same day and instead of being behind the camera, Aldridge chose to direct. “I was asked if I would like to light the film, which obviously makes sense as I do light my photographs,” he says. “But lighting in photography is a whole different thing to lighting in film, so I asked for a shit-hot DP. I wanted to be free from the responsibility of lighting, so I could focus on directing the actors.” Aldridge was very much involved in casting for
the shoot and, after seeing several male and female actors, chose the couple with the best chemistry. “The couple we ended up with were the better kissers – they were very comfortable with it,” he says. “Some were clearly not comfortable doing that, take after take, and I needed them to be completely professional and not be embarrassed. The film is one take. There were a lot of people working hard to make that happen, and I needed to know that the actors would perform again and again.” Shooting in one take sounds like a challenge, but for Aldridge it was a way to manage working with moving images. “I like having everything controlled in my photography, and a nice way to bring that control into the cinematic was that there is no movement apart from one long shot,” he explains. “I like rules and rigour. Deciding on the structure – no possibility of cuts or close-ups or panning – gave me what I needed to make the film mine, because my photography has that structure too.” And in another sense, shooting film wasn’t so new, he adds, because his elaborate shoots need just as much planning and production. “It might surprise people to know that my stills shoots are like small movies in the amount of production they require – discussions with set designers, models, actors,” he says. “The rehearsal process is longer in filming; in photography you don’t have the benefit of having a rehearsal day. But the amount of time spent on lighting, set designing and props is about the same, I would say.” Aldridge is a very successful advertising photographer, but has made his name with his editorial and personal work and urges others to do the same. “Great creative directors are not looking for someone who is great at advertising photography, they are looking for people who have something to say,” he points out. “You can’t second guess what advertisers need, but if you stay true to your vision you’ll be noticed, and some bright spark in advertising will pick up the phone and call you. The only thing to do is to make great work.”
Miles Aldridge shot his first TV ad for Habitatâ€™s first-ever TV campaign, The Kiss
Miles Aldridge shot his first TV ad for Habitatâ€™s first-ever TV campaign, The Kiss
KEEP MOVING TREY WRIGHT
Trey Wright didn’t plan to make films. “I was contacted a little over a year ago by a commissioning editor at NOWNESS, Avi Grewal, to work on a video clip about the artist and restaurateur Michael Chow,” he recalls. “The chance to do something different like that doesn’t come around very often. I knew I had to grab the opportunity and run with it.” The Dallas-based artist originally studied photography at the University of North Texas in Denton, and since graduating in 2009, he’s been clocking up editorial commissions for The Debrief, Bloomberg Businessweek, Adweek and many more. He specialises in joyful, quirky photo collages, in which artfully arranged cutouts and objects jostle for attention against bright pink or blue backdrops – flowers and body parts, sliced from glossy magazine pages, a blonde wig and Marigold gloves have all found new life in his Dadaesque work. That first animation for NOWNESS was a fluid continuation of this distinctive aesthetic, and he has since worked on animation projects for Fruit of the Loom and Refinery 29. “It was an easy transition moving into stop-motion videos,” Wright says. “I think what I like about animation is the amount of control I still have over the process. And there’s something magical about it, like that feeling from first witnessing a print materialise in the darkroom and seeing the images combined into something that moves. It all feels new again.” His latest film is a commission for Kate Spade Saturday. “I was approached by producers Theresa Caffrey and Dana Corl. The creative team had seen a video of mine on NOWNESS about zippers and thought I might be a good fit for a clip they were going to launch in stores to support their spring line.” The brief was to combine pre-shot photographs of brand assets with stop-motion images of bags and accessories, and Wright decided to play off the layering and collaging with these elements. “It was my goal to create different ways to separate the scenes that utilised
the clothes and accessories – zippers coming undone, shirts pulling up to aid the transition,” Wright says. “It was important to keep it simple, use the fun details and graphic quality of the clothes, and let those attributes shine through.” He began, as he does all his projects, by sketching out ideas and jotting down key words. Once he’d pinned down the type of set and props required, he moved into the studio, with two strobe lights and his DSLR in tow. “I was in the studio for a week just shooting stop-motion images to turn into footage,” he says. “In stop motion it’s important to think quickly – and to shoot as much as possible to avoid having too little after editing.” It was a challenge to animate 3D objects for the video, rather than the 2D pictures he was used to. “It’s much easier to manipulate paper than a leather bag,” he says. “I knew that the transition into actual items would be a different can of worms, so I practised on items around the house until I got accustomed to manoeuvring the physical objects.” Once he had about half the footage nailed, Wright began work on the music with composer and long-time collaborator Sam Friedland, who he describes as his “go-to guy” for sound design. “He’s never afraid to try out off-the-wall ideas and see where they might lead,” he says. “We wanted the sound to stay simple, but with fun touches incorporated at key moments. The sound really fits the collage aesthetic of the final video, separate parts coming together to make a whole, but still retaining their individuality.” Wright is now exploring the creative possibilities of live footage, but while he’s more than prepared to push his own boundaries, he’s also determined to keep things light. “I like leaving room for those moments of instinct to take over – if we have the studio rented for another hour, why not play?” he says. “Playfulness is important to me; I’d much rather do something that is going to make someone laugh or smile.”
Trey Wrightâ€™s animation for the Kate Spade Saturday Spring 2015 campaign
Spanish hunting dogs were once highly prized by their owners, but many are now neglected and brutally discarded once theyâ€™re no longer useful. In his forthcoming book, Martin Usborne creates elegiac portraits of dogs that have found their way into rescue centres in southern Spain. Gemma Padley reports
“I’ve always loved dogs,” says photographer Martin Usborne. “For me, as for many people, dogs are a way into the animal world. They stand on the threshold between our homes and wilder nature in a way that no other animal does.” Unlike most other dog lovers, though, Usborne has repeatedly photographed canines – whether on the hoof at Crufts or for book projects such as his acclaimed publication, The Silence of Dogs in Cars. His latest book, Where Hunting Dogs Rest, is a dark look at the plight of former working dogs in southern Spain, shot over three years. Ironically he started the project while taking a break from photography, as after the success of The Silence of Dogs in Cars he felt the need to do something hands-on to help, rather than just observe. So he travelled the world in a bid to help animals, visiting the jungles of Laos and Thailand in search of smuggled pangolins, joining the trail of the dog meat trade in the Philippines, and tracking the live export of pigs across southern Europe. Along the way he stumbled across an image of a dog being hung from a tree in southern Spain; the shot was captioned ‘piano’, a term used to describe this punishment for underperforming hunting dogs because “their paws touch the ground and tap out a silent tune to a very slow death”. “I thought, ‘Wow – this is happening on my doorstep and I didn’t know about it’,” he says. “It was the image that inspired the action.” He made several trips to southwest Spain, “where hunting is most prolific”, and volunteered at two rescue centres – one just outside Seville, the other a few hours’ drive towards Malaga. Initially he went just to work with the animals, but he soon felt compelled to take pictures. “The more I learned about these animals, the more I thought, ‘I’m going to have to go back to my old way of communicating’, which is through images,” he says. “I wondered if I could make more of a difference by evoking something about these dogs. So I went back to the rescue centres and started to take photographs.” Hunting hares has a long history in Spain and the dogs used in hunts were once revered – associated with nobility and often featured in classical paintings. But over time they have fallen from grace, and they’re now often cruelly treated, then left for dead at the end of the season. “To kill one of these dogs used to be a crime to be met with very severe punishment – equal to killing a human,” says Usborne. “I thought, ‘What’s happened’? I kept coming back to Spain because the country has a pretty bad record of mistreating animals. Aside from the obvious bullfighting there is an attitude towards animals as tools, as disposable.” Usborne decided not to include people in the project, other than in one image that shows some
hunters anonymously, from behind – it wasn’t his aim to judge or point fingers, he says. He just wanted to show the dogs and their beauty, and their suffering. “The dogs seem to capture this extreme dichotomy; on the one hand, a very beautiful, regal, elegant history, and on the other this horrible modern brutality,” he says. “I was interested in that difference, and capturing it in the dogs. It would have been wrong to take portraits of people whose faces are recognisable and to place them in this context. I wasn’t really trying to demonise the hunters; it was more a case of, ‘Look, this is what we’re capable of doing’.” Usborne created images that “do not look directly at the pain”, as he writes in his introduction, though he had plenty of opportunity to do so. “Lots of dogs arrive with bleeding, festering wounds and broken limbs,” he says. “I could have taken those images, but I didn’t want to go there. The lack of drama can make something more dramatic.” No one knows how many dogs per year are abandoned in Spain, but “up to 90 dogs per day would arrive at the centre”, he says, and the centres worked their way into his images. Operated on a shoestring, the centres house the dogs in very basic huts with a single window each; the light from this window gave the scenes a classical, chiaroscuro feel, which reminded Usborne of the work of 17thcentury painter Velazquez, who lived and worked in Seville. He chose to use this natural light in his project, covering the huts in drapes and blankets to create sets. “Nearly all of the drapes were towels and blankets the dogs had slept in, so I’d take the old pieces of material and hang them up on the back of the sheds to reference the draping in Velazquez’s paintings,” he says. Velazquez’s palette takes in “rich deep browns, burnt greens and dramatic lighting”, Usborne adds, and he aimed to capture some of that aesthetic; he even discovered images of dogs that the artist had painted. “Velazquez didn’t paint dogs very often, but he painted with a dramatic intensity that for me not only captured a regal Spain, but also the modern drama of what I felt these dogs are going through,” he says. “It [his painting style and the painter himself] became a visual anchor for the project. I was looking for a mixture of majesty and misery; Velazquez brought the majesty, while the dogs brought the misery.” Handling the animals was a challenge, Usborne concedes, even when working with people who knew them well, because many of them were terrified of humans. Even so, he prefers to work this way than to shoot specially trained animals. “I’ve never photographed a trained animal,” he says. “I’m more interested if the animals are scared or nervous, and if they are, I want that in the picture.
If you look at the dogs, lots of them are in awkward positions – I didn’t want a dog to look calm and serene. Some are, but I wanted to capture that uncomfortableness in the images too.” Beauty and brutality While working on the project, Usborne travelled from Seville to Madrid, where Velazquez also later lived. He took landscape photographs along the way, down ravines, inside wells, by the road, “places where the less fortunate dogs end up”. “I was photographing looking down a well and someone came running up to me saying, ‘Are you here because of the dogs? Because last year five dogs were found in this well.’ I also photographed from a bridge and looked down to see a dead dog beneath by a river. So it [the mistreatment of dogs] was very evident and dismal.” These images have also found their way into the book – a metaphor for both the beauty and the suffering of the dogs, and of Spain itself. “I was in Spain when the economic depression was at its peak,” Usborne explains. “I felt that the landscape and the places I visited were depleted in the same way the dogs were.” Usborne has self-funded his project and used a Kickstarter campaign to get the funds together to create his book, which will be published by Kehrer this year. He knew from the start that a book was on the cards, he says, especially having already published one series, but he initially planned to self-publish it. The German publisher was keen to get involved, though, having previously worked with Usborne on The Silence of Dogs in Cars.
“The people at Kehrer are decent, open and honest, and I can trust them,” he says. “Being a publisher myself [Usborne runs Hoxton Mini Press], I know how the figures work, but I also know how difficult it is for an art publisher to make money, and why they need to ask for funding to sustain themselves. But I don’t think you should think about how you’re going to sell books when you’re trying to make a project. You should do it for the sake of it.” When it came to making the book – his fifth – Usborne wanted to keep things as simple and a classic as possible. “I knew the sequence of images, size and design I wanted; I didn’t want it to have fancy binding or some sort of quirky layout,” he says. “The advice I’d give to people [wanting to make a book] is to try to take your ego out of it. For me, I’d want to make a really big book with special super-thick paper, cloth-bound and with my name in gold – but you don’t need all that. You should make the book to the size, weight and thickness required, and also not expect to print too many copies or make it too expensive.” And for Usborne, the book is part of a wider ambition too – to raise awareness about the animals he depicts, not just to gain recognition as a photographer or artist. “I would be happy if someone said, ‘Oh, I didn’t know about this’, and told someone else,” he says. “I’m angry about what’s going on – I think it’s unacceptably awful. I hope that my life’s work in photography will be about examining and making people think about the way we relate to animals.”
Where Hunting Dogs Rest by Martin Usborne is published by Kehrer. A percentage of proceeds from book sales will go dog rescue centres in Spain.
Where Hunting Dogs Rest â€“ Galga 1 Image ÂŠ Martin Usborne
Hunting Plains Image ÂŠ Martin Usborne
Galgo 4 Image ÂŠ Martin Usborne
River 2 Image ÂŠ Martin Usborne
Galgo 10 Image ÂŠ Martin Usborne
Olive Tree Image ÂŠ Martin Usborne
German short-haired pointer Image ÂŠ Martin Usborne
Field Image ÂŠ Martin Usborne
Galga 17 Image ÂŠ Martin Usborne
Galga 23 Image ÂŠ Martin Usborne
Almond Tree 2 Image ÂŠ Martin Usborne
Hare Image ÂŠ Martin Usborne
Animated GIFs are wildly popular online â€“ and, found Pedro Aguilar, can also make a great extra to offer magazines. Interview by Lauren Heinz
Movement is something that has come to define Pedro Aguilar’s commercial work, whether he’s shooting footballers for their clubs, athletes in action for Lucozade, or ice-cream in mid-explosion for Magnum. His recent commission for Italian magazine Riders saw him shooting street dancers, taking formal posed portraits and snapping them showing off their moves, and piecing some of the latter together to make GIFs. “I’ve always been interested in the human body and sports,” explains Aguilar. “I still do quite a few projects related to sports photography, using footballers, rugby players and boxers, and in a way the dancers are another part of that kind of work. This was my first project on dancers, but this particular project had a commercial dimension in that they had to feature the clothes for the magazine. From that editorial I now have the opportunity to explore the subject in a more personal way.” New to the scene, Aguilar initially assumed it would be hard to find models but, speaking to a few dancers and spreading the word via social media, he soon had all his participants. “I thought, ‘This is going to be difficult. How am I going to find 10 dancers for a shoot with a small budget?’ But once you start asking it’s surprising how many people want to be involved. At the end of the day, they are performers and they love to have an audience.” Aguilar has worked with Riders on several occasions, building up a strong relationship that ensures he’s given creative freedom within the boundaries of the magazine’s brief. “I have a good relationship with the fashion editor at Riders,” he says. “I’ve lost count of how many projects I’ve done for the magazine. When you find that relationship with a fashion or creative director, and they come back to you, and keep asking you to produce something different for them, that’s very good. “This project was the last in a long string of projects,” he adds. “We sat down and came up with ideas, and decided to use dancers. One thing that this magazine is very keen on is using real people, not professional models. For me that was a very nice part of the brief.” The GIFs were Aguilar’s idea, and were used
in Riders’s iPad edition, and on its social media. “Most editorial clients are thinking about the iPad version of their magazines,” he says. “In a way it makes no sense to just have exactly the same content you do in print on such a different medium like a screen, where you have that extra dimension where you can add movement. With the dancers it was a good subject to experiment with that. “In a way everyone is interested in having moving image content, but most of the clients still place a lot of importance on print, surprisingly enough,” he continues. “Most photographers are experimenting and exploring, and the clients – magazines or big brands – are very interested in having extra content. But at the same time it gets diluted. In a way it was like an added feature to the shoot – the animated GIFs were used as an extra so they can talk about them. They still don’t know where to put this kind of content, which isn’t photography but something in the middle. They are not really investing in it, but they want it even if they don’t really know what to do with it.” In fact, Aguilar says that shooting moving content is now an essential for photographers – whether they want to become filmmakers or not. “You’re always thinking, ‘What can I do with this shoot? What can I add?’” he says. “It’s very important for anyone who wants to be a commercial photographer. You’re going to have to be able to offer that service to clients. I see it as a complementary thing to the work I do as a photographer – I’m not trying to become a filmmaker, but it’s very important I develop that side of things, whether it’s using the stills to create stop-motion animation or to shoot video.”
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