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Editing

A former photo editor herself, Jessica now crafts the blog The F Stops Here, explaining what photo editors do and sharing important photo news. She also offers her expertise to the photography community on RESOLVE, with helpful posts like this one with tips to help editors find your photos.
Images from a search for "Las Vegas, Atlantic City, luck, risk, chance, chances" on iStockPhoto.com

Images from a search for “Las Vegas, Atlantic City, luck, risk, chance, chances” on iStockPhoto.com

Detail Your Descriptors

Most photographers know that properly captioning and keywording their photographs is crucial if it’s going to show up in an image search, either on a stock site, on their own site, or, increasingly, on a Google Image search. What may come as a surprise is just how detailed those descriptors need to be — down to the color of the model’s shirt.

“For me, a good caption describes the scene exactly.”

For example: Smiling brown-haired Caucasian woman drinking coffee, sitting at the kitchen table. Now go even deeper for the keywords. The woman is smiling, so be sure to include “happy” as a keyword. What does the kitchen look like? Is it modern? Traditional? What is she wearing? If she is wearing a turtleneck, include that since it suggests a specific season. In fact, include the season. All of these details could be important to the person looking for the photo.

Think Like an Editor

Another concept to consider when keywording is atmosphere and mood. A lot of photo editors are looking for an image to illustrate a specific concept. In addition to describing the scene, imagine what ideas your photograph could be used to convey.

For example, if you have a close-up of a pair of dice, think about what that could represent — Las Vegas, Atlantic City, luck, risk, chance, chances, (include singular and plural; photo editors have different searching “styles”).  Or a road sign, those can also be used to illustrate other concepts such as “choice,” “fork in the road,” “decision.” All of these should be included in the keywords.

To help with this more conceptual keywording, look at magazines and see how images are used to illustrate different stories and concepts. Begin thinking like a photo editor, not only when shooting, but also when captioning and keywording.

Check and Copy Edit — Again

One thing you can do to help those photo editors looking for your images is to spell things correctly. There have been times when I purposely misspelled something in a search in order to find what I was looking for (after spending hours trying different keywords). Double, triple, even quadruple check your keywords and captions, then have someone else “copy edit” them. You never know what errors a fresh pair of eyes may find — and who might find your images because of your diligence.

An ad campaign for Target shot by Deanne Fitzmaurice, a photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle until last year.

An ad campaign for Target shot by Deanne Fitzmaurice, a Pultzer Prize-winning photographer who left the San Francisco Chronicle last year.

As we look around the photojournalism world today, it’s hard not to worry about one trend in particular: Newspapers, magazines, and wire services have been cutting pages, budgets, and staff positions, for years — and they’re not coming back. With fewer staff jobs to go around, more photographers than ever are deciding to work for themselves. Being the innovators that photographers are, they’re exploring new markets, new mediums, and new skill sets, especially those needed to run a business.

Some former staff photojournalists saw the writing on the wall long ago and now run their own thriving businesses. Many more have made strides in the last year or two, but still have a few questions — or they’re planning to make a move soon and have lots of questions.

Next week, August 10-14, RESOLVE will run five days of posts designed to answer these questions. Of course, no one person has the answer to all questions, especially the big ones about where the industry is going and how photography will continue to be profitable. But every photographer and editor and rep out there has the answer to one or two questions. That’s why we’ve asked as many as possible to share their experiences.

We’ve talked to dozens of former staff photographers working in a range of markets and will share their insights with you in daily posts next week. Each day we’ll also explore and explain an alternative market for photojournalists, including commercial assignments, wedding photojournalism, fine-art, and working with NGOs.

On top of that, an “expert of the day” will be available to answer questions in real-time as you ask them. They’re here to help, but we also need people will come together and help each other. We’ve heard about so much of this going on offline, we know you’ll have a lot to share here online as well.

If you are now or have ever been a staff photographer, please check in next week and join the discussion: ask a question, offer advice, and make some new contacts. If you’d like to contribute your thoughts about transitioning from a staff position, please email us this week: resolve [at] livebooks [dot] com. We’d love to hear from you and share your story (and website) with the community!

Joseph Rodriguez launched his extensive career as a documentary photographer with East Side Stories, a project examining the cultures of violence in East Los Angeles. He returned to L.A. recently to document the importance and difficulty of helping people re-enter society after incarceration. I spoke with Joe about his first foray into multimedia, and how he applied his still photography skills to a new medium.

Miki Johnson: Tell me a little about the re-entry project, how you got interested in it, and why you wanted to tell the story.

Joe Rodriguez: I’m going to be very honest with you. This is a very personal story. It started when I was a young child. I watched my stepfather come in and out of prison over the years, about a decade or more, and a few of my uncles did the same thing. Then he was also an addict, so we had to watch this whole process, this up-and-down roller coaster ride with the family. And there wasn’t really much support for addicts back then in terms of re-entering society.

My stepdad died many years ago, and as a young boy growing up into a photographer, that story has always stayed with me. So this project was a personal journey. When I was working in Spanish Harlem and all around the country doing socially impacting stories, I started to see that this issue of incarceration was affecting many families. So I’ve been watching this growth of incarceration throughout the United States of America for some time. You know, I watched it go to 1 million, then 2 million over the years.

Then last year the Pew Research Center did a study called “One out of a hundred people in prison.” That was kind of the spark to seriously revisit this story and see what I could do about telling it in a different way. I did not want to repeat myself, and I didn’t want to repeat what other photographers have already done with work inside prisons. I wanted to challenge that story somewhat, because I think when you come out of prison, you’re still doing time in many different respects. You may be on parole, you may be an addict, you may have problems getting employment, and you can’t vote — all those different issues that affect many ex-offenders.

I thought it could be interesting to look at a non-profit organization like Walden House, which has been dealing with people coming from prison, specifically addicts, and working very intensely on changing their behavior. So a couple of years ago, in 2007, I connected with the people at Walden House. And a whole year went by talking about this possibility of working together or me coming to work inside some of their facilities in Los Angeles and San Francisco. And then last year they gave me a green light; I visited three of the facilities. One was dealing with mothers and children, one was dealing with just women, and one was just with men.

It was overwhelming and daunting because I profiled 40 to 45 people. And out of the 40 to 45 people, I focused on about 5 who we did these multimedia pieces on. I am hoping to reach a larger audience, because of the Internet and its long reach. I also just wanted to create a historical document of these people. And to be very honest, I don’t know what more I could do right now. I would love for it to change things, but I’m not that gullible.

“I wanted to create a historical document of these people — I don’t know what more I could do right now.”

MJ: Tell me about that decision to make this into a multimedia piece and, especially, to gather audio?

JR: The first trip was completely on my own, but I received a grant from the USC Annenburg Institute for Justice and Journalism for the second trip. That was specifically to do multimedia stories. The reason I wanted to do audio was because I can’t always get down everything the subjects are saying in a written interview. So the audio became a way to tell a more concise story and also to bring the audience in, in an emotional way. I want to grab the audience so hopefully they can feel Tracey’s story and Darlene’s story and John Vaughn’s.

MJ: And also they can’t ignore the words, right? I think a lot of people never get around to reading text with photos.

JR: We’re living in the age of interruption. I’m starting to look around and watch people when they’re reading on the web. It seems to be tricky for them to stay focused for pages and pages of text. I think audio really helps get the story in their head much faster. And then if they really want to learn more, they’ll be hungry enough to read. I think it’s a way to pull people in, not just into your immediate story, but to hopefully give them something more where they can go further with the issue or with this person’s life.

MJ: And when you were actually doing these interviews, how did you make the creative decisions, when to record and when to make images and how those work together?

JR: I just tried to keep myself calm knowing that what this person is saying while I’m photographing, I’m gonna hopefully be able to revisit in audio. One guy, Marko, was working in a bakery and I wanted to take pictures of him there. I photographed him working behind the counter, dealing with the public. Then the pictures slowed down and while I was waiting for him to go in the back with the ovens, I did some ambient audio of the store.

Then I knew I needed to do a portrait. I went into it thinking that if I could make a very engaging portrait, and I have a pretty engaging interview, I was gonna be happy with that. If I got anything extra, more reportage-type stuff, that would just help it even more. So I was actually multitasking with that particular interview. It really just depends on the subject and what’s happening.

What I like about the way I work is that it’s slow, so it enables me to revisit the person. And the more I revisit, the better story I get, either in audio or pictures. But I try, really, really earnestly to separate them — if I’m taking pictures, it’s gonna be about pictures. I try not to start thinking about what they’re saying or what’s going on, because then that just fractures me even more.

MJ: When you were planning the actual multimedia pieces, how did you think about how you wanted to put them together?JR: The first thing that was very important for us was just to listen to the audio. For an hour’s worth of audio, we could use maybe 5 or 10 minutes of workable audio from that. And after listening to the audio — and saying, is that important, that could be good, that could be good — then we laid out the proofs.

We feel that proofs are a more concise way for us to edit than on the monitor, because we can leave them down on the floor or leave them up on the wall and revisit them. That was the thing that we learned, the importance of revisiting. It took actually two or three months just to do the first multimedia piece. Now we know how to do it. I have to give major props to Benjamin Jarosch, our studio manager, who had never done this before, just like myself.

Revisiting is key because some days you think you’ve got it, and then you go back and you see it differently that time. Not to the point that you’re gonna pick it apart to death, but just making sure everything makes sense. When we laid the pictures out and looked at it with the audio, we’d say, ah that doesn’t really work there. Do we have a photo that kind of relates to this or can be a metaphor for this? Or can give us some atmosphere?

In the Darlene piece, she talks about her father passing away, and there is an image of a cemetery. That cemetery is not far from where she grew up, although that image was not taken at the same time the interview was. Because I know this culture so well, some of my images from other projects, even from East Side Stories, came into that story. And I would not have been able to do that if I didn’t allow myself the time to look and listen and then leave it alone and come back and revisit.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: What role does “revisiting” play in your work?

Former BBC radio producer Benjamin Chesterton and photojournalist David White, as the multimedia production team duckrabbit, build high-quality multimedia pieces, provide insights on their blog, and help photographers through multimedia training sessions. Once a month on RESOLVE, Ben and/or David highlight and explain a multimedia piece that breaks a “rule,” uses a new technique, or creatively solves a common problem.

It might be the greatest moment in the history of the written arts — it’s also a scene duckrabbit uses to teach photographers about great multimedia.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet steps out from the shadows and utters the immortal line:

“To be or not to be, that is the question.”

The students in our latest training course might not have expected us to open the workshop with a reading from Shakespeare, but for me this soliloquy in which Hamlet debates his very existence is a point-by-point lesson in how to create powerful multimedia.

It’s the golden moment when the actor steps forward out of the scenery and bares their soul. A moment of complete intimacy between us and them. The best multimedia producers will create an immaculate visual landscape from which their characters step forward, Hamlet style, to deliver their soliloquy.

Think about it this way. The photos or the moving images in a multimedia piece are the scenery. They both surround and create the stage. They impart a sense of place, of action, but it is the voice, the words, that tell the story and carry much of the emotion.

Now for an example from a master. Maisie Crow may only be in her early twenties but she the most talented producer of multimedia that we have come across at duckrabbit.  Quite simply she sets the standard because her work is so complete.

For Maisie it’s all about the person: She places them and their story center-stage and has them speak directly to our hearts. Because their story is so important to her, she is determined that it will become important to you to.

I’m not going to say anything about this particular piece. Other than that you won’t be sitting there marveling at technique, or the use of some fancy new camera that records video, because you’ll be completely sucked in by the story. That’s how it should be. Some of the most celebrated multimedia producers could learn a lesson or two from Maisie. We certainly did, and so did the trainees in our latest masterclass.

Darius Himes is a founding member of Radius Books, where he is an acquiring editor; prior to that he was the founding editor of photo-eye Booklist. In 2008, he was named by PDN as one of fifteen of the most influential people in photo book publishing. This year he is the lead judge of the Photography.Book.Now International Juried Competition. With the deadline approaching — July 16, 2009 — we thought we’d pick Darius’ brain about the contest, self-publishing, and what makes a photo book successful.

Baghdad Suite by Andrew Phelps. ©Andrew Phelps

Miki Johnson: Why is this such an exciting time for photo books?

Darius Himes: Books are amazing vehicles that have been with humans for millennia and have a fascinating history as objects of beauty, as well as conveyors of ideas. Books are also physical objects with a rich history of scripts, fonts, inks, papers, bindings and photographic reproduction techniques. For centuries, however, these skills and literacy itself was held by “the few.” Only in the last century have we seen a marked increase in the amount of printed material available. And when it comes to photography books, the print-on-demand phenomenon has truly transformed the landscape. Literally anyone has the capacity and the access to publish a book of images.

MJ: Now that anyone can make a book, it seems even more important for a photographer to establish their goals for a book before they begin assembling it.

DH: Setting out with a clear purpose is crucial to any endeavor. Photographers are creating books for a wide range of uses, from leave-behind portfolio pieces intended solely to garner assignments, all the way to conceiving and creating mass market books on any number of subjects.

MJ: Is this why the Photography.Book.Now contest has three separate categories?

DH: Yes. The three categories of this years’ contest are designed to let photographers approach the idea of a “photography book” from three different angles. The fine-art category is extremely broad and the most subjective. Photographers and photo-based artists can do whatever they want to produce their book. Often, these books are made by practicing artists and have little regard for communicating a specific narrative to a large audience.

Editorial photography, the second category, is a different animal. But let me state something at the outset: I’m not interested in, or trying to stoke the debate about, what constitutes “art” photography. Anything done well is done artfully. If it serves the goals that one sets out with, then “art” has been employed. I don’t want anyone to think that any of the three categories don’t somehow employ art or doesn’t constitute artfully done work.

Bamboo Fences by Osamu Suzuki. ©Osamu Suzuki, courtesy Princeton Architectural Press

Editorial and commercial photographers often serve patrons other than themselves; this the a big distinction. So, an editorial photographer assigned to cover a story may find themselves with a much larger body of work than will ever get published in a magazine. Likewise, a commercial shooter might have photographic skills that can be translated into a “commercial” book project; publishers also conceive of book projects in-house and then commission commercial photographers for the book.

Perhaps some concrete examples would help. This new book from Princeton Architectural PressBamboo Fences, by Isao Yoshikawa and Osamu Suzuki — is a great example of a commercial book project. It’s about a very specific subject — bamboo fence building in Japan — and the photographs by Suzuki perfectly illustrate the work. It’s primarily a photobook, but is supplemented by the text. Here’s another example: Bird, by Andrew Zuckerman. It has a specific subject matter artfully photographed by a commercial photographer. The publisher, Chronicle Books, probably hopes the audience for this book — and by that I mean ultimate sales for the book — will be upwards of 50,000+.

Two examples of books that have a broad “trade” appeal, but which are not “commercial” books like the ones above, are Jonah Frank’s Right, Portraits from the Evangelical Ivy League (Chronicle Books), and Articles of Faith by Dave Jordano (Center for American Places). In my mind, both of these books probably stemmed from assignments that blossomed into the book-length projects we see in the stores. Both have more of a storytelling quality to them than either Bamboo Fences or Bird. In that sense,  they come out of a “documentary” tradition, but are presented in an appealing way to as broad an audience as possible.

MJ: What uses does a self-published book lend itself to? Do photographers use them to collect images that didn’t warrant prints? Or as an alternative for a portfolio? Or a leave-behind? Or a family gift?

DH: All of the things you mention, I’ve seen. I’ve also seen photographers use the self-publishing, print-on-demand technology to create “limited run” books. Photographer Andrew Phelps took a small body of work called Baghdad Suite and issued a self-published, print-on-demand book of only 100 copies, which sold out rather quickly. It’s a great idea to use this technology to disseminate a body of work that is either small, in terms of number of images, or limited, in terms of it’s appeal or audience.

Right by Jona Frank. ©Jona Frank, courtesy Chronicle Books.

MJ: In your eyes, what makes a photo book great?

DH: From John Gossage, as quoted in The Photobook: A History, Volume 1 (Phaidon, 2004): “Firstly, it should contain great work. Secondly, it should make that work function as a concise world within the book itself. Thirdly, it should have a design that complements what is being dealt with. And finally, it should deal with content that sustains an ongoing interest.”

When you’re making a book for a broader audience, think like a publisher. Visit publisher websites, read the catalog copy, and craft your book the way they craft their books. Every publisher approaches things differently. If you consistently like books from one publisher, really study how they put together a book. A book from Princeton Architectural Press is quite different from a book by Radius Books. In other words, learn from those already in the field.

Often photographers, naturally so, get wrapped up in the individual images and either lose sight of the overall picture and purpose of the book, or they simply never arrive at an overall picture, and the book lacks focus.

And don’t forget that a book is not just a bunch of CMYK printed images sandwiched between two boards. Text and titles, fonts and captions, of course editing and sequencing, as well as how the image sits on the page-spread and what it is placed next to — all of these little elements can make or break a book.

MJ: Do you have an example of a self-published book that has been very successful?

DH: The most famous example is Alec Soth. In 2003, Alec came to Review Santa Fe, an annual portfolio review event, looking for exposure and a publisher for a body of work titled Sleeping by the Mississippi. What we all know is that, after the exposure he received there — he won the Santa Fe Prize that year — his small print-on-demand book made it into the hands of Steidl, where it has now entered it’s third printing. Alec received huge recognition for his work in the intervening years and is now part of the prestigious Magnum agency. Martin Parr and Gerry Badger included Alec’s handmade book in Volume 2 of their seminal survey of photography books, The Photobook: A History (Phaidon).

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: What is your favorite photo book and why?

I connected with Jessica after she wrote an intriguing post for Black Star Rising bemoaning the lack of respect for photo editors in Israel, where she recently moved. Taking maters into her own hands, Jessica created a blog, The F Stops Here, that explains what photo editors do and highlights their importance. She has also agreed to lend her expertise to the photography community on RESOLVE, with helpful posts like this one about giving photo editors what they want from stock photos.

Images from a search for "woman + scale" on iStockPhoto.com

As a photo editor for a weekly women’s lifestyle magazine, I frequently had to find the same kind of image over and over again. One of the common ones was what we termed “woman on scale.” There is a weight-loss story in just about every issue of every women’s lifestyle magazine on the stands, so the need for this particular image (and ones like it), is almost endless.

Unfortunately, there never seems to be enough in the various stock coffers to keep up with demand. Especially considering that magazines will avoid using the same image twice or using the same image as another lifestyle magazine. For photographers this means — even though it’s counterintuitive — you should be shooting more of what you see the most of.

“You should be shooting more of what you see the most of.”

Do Your Research

As a photo editor, I would have loved to see more variety of these recurring images (like “woman on scale”). Photographers should first look through multiple issues of the magazines they expect will buy their images and notice which images are repeated. That will give you a few kinds of photos to focus on. Then get to know the editorial styles of each magazine and create different versions of those photos to cater to each style. Some magazines will want a very young woman, some a woman who looks more like a mother. Conservative magazines will want her legs and arms to be covered; others might want her to have the latest, tightest workout clothes.

Change Everything

Photographers often offer several images of the same model in the same clothes, changing only her the tilt of her head or the position of her hands. If you were an editor, would you use two of these as if they were “different” photos? Didn’t think so. If you are using the same model, change her clothes between photos, especially the color palette. Change her hairstyle, make-up, and expressions. Make her look like a different woman. Change the background and include a white background. Most importantly, shoot the same image with different models, especially ones from different ethnic backgrounds (although two from of the same ethnicity is still better than one). Think of it almost mathematically. Try to come up with as many permutations as possible for the same image.

Think Like an Editor

If you’re working in the women’s lifestyle genre, there are several other pictures that you’ll notice recur frequently: woman at a computer, woman performing various kitchen duties, woman in the car, woman with money, woman shopping. Remember, in addition to shooting each scenario in different locations, also shoot them on a white background to make a clean background for text. When possible, consider not only the content of the photograph but also the way the graphic designer may need to work around it when laying out a page. If you can do that, and keep supplying the images that editors have to keep going back to look for, you’ll quickly move to the top of their go-to list.

RESOLVE contributor Ed Kashi sent me some notes last week from his recent trip to the Niger Delta about the creative differences between shooting video and stills. This is an evolution many photographers are going through right now, so I decided to ask a few other multitaskers to share their thoughts. Please share your own experience with stills vs. video in the comments!
Ed Kashi – Ed has integrated video with his documentary photography for years, but recently shot his first video-only project.

1. How much do you shoot video compared with stills?

I have been working on a film in the Niger Delta, and although I’ve been shooting video for the past nine years, this is the first time I’ve shot a complete film without any stills.

2. What tools do you use to shoot video?

When I contemplated shooting this film in the Niger Delta, one of the toughest places I’ve worked, where most people don’t want to have any kind of camera pointed at them unless you explain yourself or you pay them, I was initially considering using the Canon 5D Mark II in video mode, thinking it would make me less conspicuous. That was a silly thought. In the end, I decided to work with a great standard definition video camera for excellent sound and none of the unresolved issues in video with the 5D.

3. What is the biggest difference for you between shooting video and stills?

Whereas still photography resides in the fractional moments, video lives in whole moments and complete segments. Keeping the editor’s needs in mind, you must provide sustained coverage with video, instead of pecking away at the fractional moments with your still camera. This can be a killer on your back, neck and/or wrist. The physical strain shooting video is definitely increased, at least for me since I work quite light, with one camera and one lens, when I shoot stills. With stills I am also slavishly dealing with the light, beholden to it’s patterns, moods and dictates. Light is important with video too, but I can still make a compelling video in almost any light. Then of course there is audio. I often ponder situations in terms of the audio it will render, what it will say and how it helps shape the narrative.

4. How do your still and video work influence each other?

Shooting stills is more torturous mentally but ultimately more deeply satisfying. I am a photographer at heart. Video is interesting, vital, challenging, relevant and captivating, but photographs are sacred to me in a way that video is not. It has something to do with my long relationship to photography, but more metaphysically, it relates to the stillness, the quiet and meditative quality of still images. No matter how enveloping and captivating video can be, there is an essential truth in still images for me. And I am finding that I miss working with my images — looking, editing, thinking about them, sending them to friends and family. They are much easier to move around, share and work with.

Bill Frakes – Bill has always mixed it up, but has been stepping it up lately with lots of great videos for Sports Illustrated and his many clients.

1. How much do you shoot video compared with stills?

It totally depends on what I’m working on. I’m just finishing a short documentary now that is entirely video. I’ve directed music videos and television spots for years. Usually I let the subject matter make the decision for me about the amount of video vs. stills that I’ll shoot.

2. What tools do you use to shoot video?

I shoot primarily with the Nikon D90, which allows me to switch between video and stills very easily. I have several professional-level video cameras, but the optics I can use with the D90 makes it a superior choice. I gather audio separately and I have had the D90s modified so they can accept outboard microphones.

3. What is the biggest difference for you between shooting video and stills?

From a physical standpoint, shooting video requires a tripod — otherwise it’s just not going to look good. From a photographic standpoint, composition still rules, but what works for each is totally different.

4. How do your still and video work influence each other?

My video and still work is totally in sync. Each is meant to enhance the other.

Guy Rhodes – Steeped in lighting and film techniques, Guy shoots a lot of independent films plus still images to keep his eyes fresh.

1. How much do you shoot video compared with stills?

The majority of my work over the past five years has been video-related, much of it in the independent film market. I shoot stills in my downtime to supplement my income and to keep my creative eye fresh. Over the past month, I’ve been out on three independent short film shoots, two as the director of photography and one as a Steadicam operator. I also had a handful of still shoots. Shooting video and stills at the same time is not generally required by my clients. Most hire me for one or the other, as they understand that trying to do video and stills at the same time often results in both suffering to some degree. The two mediums require different thought processes, and it’s very challenging to go between the two and do it well, especially in a deadline situation.

2. What tools do you use to shoot video?

I shoot on a Panasonic SDX900 for much of my independent film work. I’ve also shot several indie films on the Panasonic DVX100, which records in 24p, but on the more affordable MiniDV format. The short film I ran Steadicam on last month shot with Canon’s new 5D Mark II cameras. It was pretty exciting shooting HD video on a full-frame SLR, being able to use very wide aperture lenses to emulate the shallow depth of field of the 35mm motion picture format. For the rare instances that 24p is not required, I shoot on my Sony VX2000 MiniDV.

3. What is the biggest difference for you between shooting video and stills?

One large difference between shooting video and stills for me is lighting. Still images are pretty easy to manipulate after the fact, but you really can’t dodge and burn video. That’s why I try to nail my video lighting setups so I can hand the client a DVD of my camera raw video without color correction and not be embarrassed by it. I studied lighting in college so it’s not uncommon for me to spend an hour or two lighting a scene for film shoot, with only the last five minutes of that time devoted to setting up the camera and framing the shot. I think a lot of new video shooters and photographers get so wrapped up in the camera technology that they forget how important lighting really is.

4. How do your still and video work influence each other?

My video and still disciplines keep each other in check. I find that after shooting stills for a few weeks, the next time I pick up a video camera, the shots come easier. Sometimes I’ll try things with the video camera that I tried earlier with a still image, such as radically underexposing for a dramatic highlight or colorful costume. I have an equal love-hate relationship with each medium. Video editing is more tedious than editing a still photo shoot, but I do like the camaraderie of video shoots. First and foremost, though, I consider myself a lighting designer. Even when I’m shooting video all day, the majority of my time is spent lighting the scenes. The same goes for setting up a portrait shoot. When shooting on location with available light, lighting is still at the forefront of my mind.

Robert Caplin – Robert has been experimenting with the video capabilities of his Canon 5D, figuring out how to translate it into paying gigs.

1. How much do you shoot video compared with stills?

I shoot about 80% stills. Often I’ll capture video on interesting assignments, but more for memory’s sake. I’ve started working on video projects with my family and friends, but I have yet to capitalize on actually making a living with video. The transition is underway, but I don’t expect to ever give up still photography.

2. What tools do you use to shoot video?

I’ve exclusively used the Canon 5D Mark II for capturing video. For general audio I have a hot-shoe-mount mic made by Sennheiser (MKE 400). For music videos we record the music in a studio and lay it as the main audio track. For my latest project I used a separate sound crew who used professional booms, shotguns, and LAV mics.

3. What is the biggest difference for you between shooting video and stills?

The biggest difference during the shooting process is motion. Moving the camera while recording makes all the difference whether it’s a pan, dolly, crane, or steady-cam shot. I’ve found that keeping the camera motionless makes video more stagnant and less appealing. On the editing end, it’s a much more laborious process due to the file-sizes of the videos. It’s also more difficult to tone and edit 30 pictures per second.

4. How do your still and video work influence each other?

I feel that I’m a photographer at heart. Since I’ve started toying with video, I consider myself more and more a filmmaker as well. I think I have a lot to learn, but the ease of the 5D II makes it enjoyable to teach myself.

Martin Sundberg – Fielding frequent questions from clients about video, Martin recently produced a video shoot to test the waters.

1. How much do you shoot video compared with stills?

I’m still shooting nearly 100% stills for my professional and personal work, but nearly all of my clients are no inquiring if I can also produce video in addition to stills. On my last large shoot I started out thinking I would shoot a little video to show my clients how the activities might translate when we began our video productions. Yet, over 10 shoots at 10 locations, I only shot stills. Right now my mind set is, one or the other — video OR still. I think there have to be two different shoots or I have to have a video camera operator on set who I could direct while I shoot the stills.

2. What tools do you use to shoot video?

I am exclusively using the Canon 5D Mark II. We are capturing audio separately using a Marantz digital recorder.

3. What is the biggest difference for you between shooting video and stills?

When shooting photos I am really focused on perfecting the single moment. One perfect image. Video is about the flow through the frame and linking moments. Not all the moments in a sequence are perfect, but you only spend a fleeting moment looking at any one frame.

4. How do your still and video work influence each other?

I’m a photographer who is exploring video. I definitely think like a photographer… but I LOVE applying that to my new work in video!

Creating a memorable promo piece seems to be getting harder and harder. That’s why Redux Pictures created American Youth, a new book including original work from 25 of their photographers. The benefits of the project are multi-tiered: building awareness for the photographers and Redux, plus prompting new personal work from the participants, who can include it in their portfolios and promos. And, added bonus, story ideas that editors will know just where to go to illustrate. Jasmine, Redux marketing director and a RESOLVE contributor, explains how it came together.
Young debutantes are presented at their "coming out" at Bal des Berceaux, a high-society charity event at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.

Young debutantes are presented at their "coming out" at Bal des Berceaux, a high-society charity event at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. ©Mark Peterson/Redux

Q. What was the initial concept for American Youth? Why did you want to approach this topic?

A. Our original idea was to produce a promo piece about one topic, something that art buyers and photo editors wouldn’t automatically chuck in the trash can.

Q. Marcel Saba [director of Redux] came up with the general topic of American youth and then Redux photographers shot new work exploring that topic. Did you know there were specific aspects of the youth culture you wanted to touch on, or did those develop organically from the projects photographers came up with?

A. We knew we wanted a cross section of Americans documented. Most people had their own ideas but as the photographers started sending in their work, we saw some holes in coverage. For instance, we lacked any stories about poverty, or war widows, or something on kids who are into extreme sports. So we assigned stories to fill those gaps.

Sam, 20, and Erin, 19. They have  been dating for two years. ©Erika Larsen/Redux

Sam, 20, and Erin, 19. They have been dating for two years. ©Erika Larsen/Redux

Q. Did you help the photographers in the book with their stories so they would work best for what you envisioned?

A. The advantage of working on something long term is you have time to shoot, look at the work, and then maybe shoot some more. For example, John Keatley did a series on street youth in Seattle, and we were able to offer feedback to him on what was working and what wasn’t. He went out and did more, and it turned out great.

Q. You brought in a lot of guest editors to make the (close to) final edit. Did you give them some guidelines or did the edit style evolve through that process?

A. We asked the editors to narrow the work down to 5-10 of their favorite images from each shoot. We wanted to publish everything they chose but it wasn’t possible, so in the end Marcel and I narrowed it down, along with great input from the book designer, Gilbert Li.

Special challenges arose because we were editing a collection of different stories by many photographers.  We had to choose images that could tell a complete story, but that also worked with the flow of other people’s work.

Q. Aside from the great exposure, what other benefits might a photographer expect from being part of a group book like this?

A. The best thing about American Youth is that it motivated all the photographers to create something new for it. Shooting personal work isn’t always at the top of people’s priority lists, but look at the benefits! The book has gotten a lot of attention on blogs, has been part of the NY Photo Festival, will be on exhibit at LOOK3 in Charlottesville, and was recently reviewed by The Washington Post. We’ve also had slideshows on NPR, The Daily Beast and Time.com and a story in PDNThis exposure will continue to bring attention to the photographers which is always a good thing.

Aside from the promotional benefits, some photographers are continuing work on their projects. Gina LeVay is continuing to photograph young war widows. A number of shots are making it into people’s portfolios and their promo pieces.

  • This week marks the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Protests. The iconic image of the “Tank Man” is splattered all over the internet, except on the Great-Fire-Wall-bound Chinese internet. The New York Times photo blog, Lens, has a great interview with photographers explaining how their version of the Tank Man came about. Most interesting of all, though, is a follow-up post yesterday showing a never before published photo of the Tank Man getting ready for the confrontation.
  • Have you seen The Vendor Client Relationship video yet? If not, you might be the last one. Go check it out now and we won’t tell anyone ;-) It’s a hilarious take on the real world situation for those who work in the photography and advertising business.
  • A Photo Editor pointed us to another noteworthy new online video — Michael Almereyda’s documentary about photography icon William Eggleston on Snag Film, William Eggleston in the Real World. The fillmmaker followed Eggleston on various trips around the country, capturing his complex personality and how it affects his work.
  • The winning images of the PDN Photography Annual 2009 are now available on its website. We want to give a big shout out to our friends and contributors Alan Chin and Ed Kashi, who won the Photojournalism/Sports/Documentary and Corporate Design/Photo Products categories respectively.

Multimedia — it seems to be on everyone’s mind. Should you be doing it? Just audio, or video too? Can you make money from it? Does it detract or add to the still photograph? Former BBC radio producer Benjamin Chesterton and photojournalist David White formed the multimedia production team duckrabbit with the intention of answering some of these questions, as well as using multimedia to prompt social change. Together they create multimedia pieces, provide insights on their blog, and help photographers through multimedia training sessions (sign up now for the next one, in Bristol, UK, July 10 to 12). Once a month (or more when they have time), Ben and David will highlight and explain a multimedia piece on RESOLVE that breaks a “rule,” uses a new technique, or creatively solves a common problem. As an introduction, they wanted to talk about a piece created together, Innocence, that proves how powerful a multimedia piece can be, even with only 10 photos.

David White: Innocence, duckrabbit’s feature about child soldiers in Sri Lanka, just sort of emerged organically. I shot the photographs a few years ago now, whilst there was still a ceasefire. It was a very difficult and at times dangerous job, but one that I desperately hoped might make a tiny difference.

Recently I was sitting up very early in the morning when I saw a report on the news about the escalation of the war in Sri Lanka. I just started to write about how that made me feel. For once I was not worried about how other people would interpret and dissect my thoughts — I just needed to get my feelings out.

I posted my thoughts on the duckrabbit blog, and from there Benjamin picked up the baton, unbeknown to me.

Benjamin Chesterton: David is someone whose photographs have always moved me. His great big generous heart comes across in all his work and never more so than in the beautiful pictures he took in Sri Lanka. I’ve long wanted to turn them into a piece of multimedia, but what can you do with just 10 photos?

I got up one morning to find that David had posted about that experience on the duckrabbit blog. He captured the artist’s predicament in a really simple and powerful way. The desire to make a difference because some cause has embedded itself so deep into you. The feeling that if you don’t do something, it will suffocate you from the inside out.

Pretty much all I did was take his words, grab some screenshots off news sites on the web, use a song that never fails to move me, and mix it all up with his original photo’s. I didn’t tell David I was doing this. Just banged out a rough copy in a day, sent him the link and held my breath.

David: I have scanned, printed, and reproduced those Sri Lanka photos many times. I like them, I think they’re strong, but they’re not new. The words were a few lines I hammered out when I should have been sleeping. Yet, when I saw the finished piece, I cried, as did my wife, Jane.

Since then, that has been the many people’s reaction.

It still amazes me that such simple content can be reworked into something so strong. I could never imagine those stills in a magazine story having the same effect. Imagine going back to a set of pictures you have taken a while ago, that you know intimately, and having them move you to tears. That intrigues and excites me. That’s why I think multimedia offers amazing opportunities for photographers, to get their work out to new audiences, and to use it to reveal the world in new light.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: If you are working in multimedia, how do you approach that creative process differently? Have you had similar experiences where adding audio for a slideshow has dramatically changed the impact of your images?

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