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Deborah Depolito is a skilled stylist that has 15+ years of experience under her belt. Working with world-renown clients such as Under Armour, Uber, McDonald’s, and Microsoft, it is clear why she is so sought-after in her industry. Her strong relationship with photographers and clients have allowed her to work with on various commercial and editorial campaigns. See more of her work at www.deborahdepolitostylist.com

When people think of styling, they quickly assume that it’s only related to getting the perfect outfit together. What most fail to see is that without a proper styling professional onboard an editorial project, the message being conveyed can be lost. Styling is so much more than it seems – it not only includes props, hair and make-up but also matching people to fit brands and products.

(Director: Gary Land // Executive Producer: Abe Sands // Photographer: Nick Taylor) 

My keenly trained eye for the client’s mission and ever-evolving awareness of color and style ensures that my clients are happy with the end product, every time. This may seem like an easy task – in fact, it’s very difficult. When you’re styling, you not only have to put yourself in the company’s mindset but also in the client that they are gearing the service and/or product to.

 

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Photo by: Stephanie Rausser Photography | www.stephanierausser.com

I believe that it is my warm nature and sense of humor that allows me to complement my ability to dress talent in an authentic and beautiful way. Without this light-heartedness, the work would seem inauthentic and it would create an end-product that my clients would not be happy with.

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Photo by: Stephanie Rausser Photography | www.stephanierausser.com

 

Want to be featured as a guest blogger? Email us at social@livebooks.com!

Image via Pexels

Image via Pexels

If you’re anything like us, being productive is just a little easier when listening to music. There’s something about opening up your to-do list and plugging your headphones into your favorite playlist that helps you get things done. Because of that, we wanted to share what we are listening to this month with you. We consulted our liveBooks team and compiled a playlist of our current favorite jams.

So, whether you’re editing images, updating your liveBooks site or answering emails, we hope there is something on our August playlist that helps to keep you focused, inspired, and hustling. Is there a song that you have on repeat right now? Comment below and let us know!

What we are listening to August 2016

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Laurie Proffitt is a food photographer, located in Chicago, IL. With a simple and elegant style, Laurie uses her expertise to work with high-profile magazines, advertising agencies, restaurants & cookbook producers. This is her story:

Food photography has come a long way since I came up the ranks as an assistant in Chicago. The food was styled laboriously perfect, and the props covered nearly every inch of the background. I enjoy how the look has entirely loosened up since then. Now, it is appetizing to slightly burn cheese, splash sauce, and show a half eaten plate of food. I also love that a distressed baking sheet makes fabulous background, and national ad campaigns will show their product in to-go containers.

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It’s my job to find that visually appetizing element. At times, it is very editorial and messy; other clients manage the look of their brand with more restraint. As a food photographer, I need to approach advertising, editorial and packaging with different styles and different teams. Luckily for me, the pool of talented food stylists in Chicago runs deep. With that said, it’s my responsibility to pair the needs of my client with the best stylist and crew for each project. Collaboration between the art directors and my creative team is the key to success at my studio.

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Aside from the food being styled well, lighting is instrumental to enhancing the appetite appeal of food. My new studio workspace incorporates an 11×14 ft. opaque glass window. The light from that window is just stunning. I often like to accent the daylight with small grid spots to boost color saturation. The grid spots also create specular-highlights that add to the visual impression that the food is moist, hot, and juicy. Mixed lighting, in conjunction with selective focus, are my favorite tools.

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Another competitive piece of the puzzle is to create a welcoming and comfortable environment for the clients. The agency team and their clients are very busy people, and their work doesn’t stop just because they’re attending a photo shoot. Capture Pilot is an incredible tool to keep the clients in the loop while they work. So adjacent to the client table, I have a 50 inch TV, where the progress of our work is on view. Every one of my clients loves this!

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See more of Laurie’s food photography on her new liveBooks8 site at: proffittphoto.com.

Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your website in three words?

LP: Fresh, Crisp, Impactful

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Q: How often do you typically update your website?

LP: I typically will update my homepage every few months. Ideally, I like to add finished ads or packaging examples to my “Print & Packaging” page promptly after they are released. A complete refresh of my website images occurs 1-2 times a year

Q: How do you choose the photos that you display on your homepage?

LP: I feel it is essential to show diversity of work on my homepage. Additionally, I want to feature current work here, so returning visitors to my website immediately take notice. Another objective of mine, as a food photographer, is to showcase a range of food products. My hope is that each visitor to my homepage sees an image that speaks to their needs, so they’ll want to look deeper into my website.

With that said, I like to work from a master folder that ‘lives’ on my desktop. I actively add my favorite new images to this folder as they are created. Then, when it comes time to update, my new candidates are easily accessed. From there, my aim is to create a visually interesting sequence of images based upon the rhythm of lighter and darker images and related color themes. Once I am pleased with the presentation, I’ll ask my agent and a few other trusted colleagues to weigh in on my choices. Inevitably, adjustments will be made.

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Q: What is your favorite new feature of liveBooks8?

LP: I love the Mosaic Gallery layout. I knew immediately that it would give me a dramatically updated look from my previous website with liveBooks.

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Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone designing their website?

LP: It’s well worth your time to read articles on the subject of SEO. Research the best keywords for your speciality of photography. Be sure to populate all of the SEO info boxes that liveBooks provides. Enter descriptions for every image, submit your sitemaps, update your content regularly and get quality links back to your site….search engines love these things.

I’ve had great results by following liveBooks instructions for SEO. It is all about getting more traffic to your website while generating new business.

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Have a website you’d like us to feature? Email us at social@livebooks.com.

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Ann Belden earned her BFA in Painting and Drawing at the University of Michigan and has lived in San Francisco since 1976. She was a chef/owner of Ironwood Cafe and 101 Cafe Bakery in the Cole Valley neighborhood for thirteen years, then switched careers and became a food stylist while continuing to create fine art. See more of her work at www.annbelden.com

My background in fine art and restaurant cooking has served me well in the food styling world. Every job is different, and the ability to problem-solve on the fly is essential. I’ve been lucky to have strong mentoring throughout my styling career, and to have worked with photographers, designers, other food stylists, prop stylists, and art directors who have strong visions.

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I’m highlighting portfolio shots today. I feel strongly that it is important for food stylists to do this kind of (unpaid!) work in order to push ourselves and to show what we can do with food styling, when the constraints of advertising or editorial concerns are not present. We get to show what is possible while exploring our collaborative power with a given photographer.

These are my top three tips to help you build your food styling portfolio, while strengthening your vision as a stylist: 

Photography by Holly Stewart | www.hollystewart.com

Photography by Holly Stewart | www.hollystewart.com

1. Look for inspiration everywhere: The photo above was inspired by a trip to a local farmer’s market. The produce was gorgeous, so we decided to create some moody, painterly still lifes before moving on to our planned shots. By breaking away from our original shot schedule, I was able to practice styling a new product while gaining a valuable image for my portfolio.

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Photo by Terry Heffernan | www.heffernanfilms.com

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Photo by Terry Heffernan | www.heffernanfilms.com

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Photo by Terry Heffernan | www.heffernanfilms.com

Photographer and stylist work in this manner to learn how to effectively communicate with each other while bringing out the best in one another’s work. The three shots above were done with minimal propping on a white seamless background, in order to highlight the food with few or zero distractions.

Photo by Nader Khouri |www.naderkhouri.com

Photo by Nader Khouri | www.naderkhouri.com

Photo by Holly Stewart Props by Diane McGauley | www.dianemcgauley.com

Photo by Holly Stewart | www.hollystewart.com Props by Diane McGauley | www.dianemcgauley.com

2. Learn your props (or consult a professional): A trip to a prop house together or a meeting with a great prop stylist can really help set the tone for your test shoot, and again, will tell you a lot about each other’s stylistic concerns and preferences. The two photos above were the result of collaborative propping choices, and are successful in communicating not just the delicious nature of the food, but also a kind of ease and elegance in the way its served.

Photo by Bill Baker | www.billbakerphoto.com

Photo by Bill Baker | www.billbakerphoto.com

Photo by Scott Peterson | ww.scottpetersonproductions.com

Photo by Scott Peterson | www.scottpetersonproductions.com

3. Don’t be afraid of failure: Finally, I’d like to add that there will probably be some test shoots that don’t produce a lot of great shots for your portfolio. You may not find a groove with that photographer, or you may both be a little dissatisfied with your choice of subject matter, surface, props, etc. It is all a learning experience, and the good news is that you can always try again, or chalk it up to experience with no harm done. Most of the time, if you keep at it, you’ll get at least one wonderful new shot for your website, while forging a new relationship or strengthening an existing one. Both will help your styling career for years to come.

Happy testing!

Ann Belden
Ann Belden – Food Stylist
annbelden@sbcglobal.net

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Meet Jason Halayko. Originally born in Victoria, B.C., Canada, he has called Japan home for the last 14 years. He currently focuses on shooting action sports for companies like Red Bull, which has him photographing everything from skateboarding to breakdancing. In addition, he can often be found taking portraits and photographing the streets, saying that he really enjoys anything that gets him behind the camera. His introduction to photography was back in high school, when his friend advised him to take a beginner photography course. It was a great class that taught Jason the fundamentals, and has since developed into a dynamic and action-packed photography career.

Check out all of the interesting things Jason has to say about what went into the creation of his new website, and then be sure to head over to jason-halayko.com to see his exciting portfolio.

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Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your website in three words?

JH: Clean, simple, intuitive.

Q: How do you choose the photos that you display on your homepage?

JH: I typically try to choose the newest photos, with the biggest impact, to show on my homepage. This is to try to hook viewers into checking out more of the website.

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Q: How often do you typically update your website?

JH: I typically update my website whenever I get an image I really like and want to show to the world. This could be once a week, or every couple of months. It all depends on what I am shooting.

Q: What is your favorite new feature of liveBooks8? 

JH: I think my favorite new feature of the site is the ability to quickly and easily change the layout of the photo pages to fit my design preferences.

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Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone designing their website? 

JH: I would say keep it simple, and more is not better. Only use your best photos that you are most confident in, as viewers will quickly get bored if they have to search through a lot of mediocre images.

Wes Agee of the United States of America performs in front of the Shitenno Temple in Osaka, Japan on March 22nd, 2014

Have a website you’d like us to feature? Email us at social@livebooks.com.

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Jim Shoemaker worked as a graphic designer for nearly 20 years before transitioning to photography. He has spent the last 12 years photographing throughout the western United States. His images have appeared in LensWork, Outdoor Photographer, American Photo, Nature Photographer, Silvershotz, Black & White, Rangefinder, Sierra Magazine and many other publications. His work can be seen at: www.jimshoemakerphotography.com.

As photographers, we often discuss the placement of the subject within the frame, which elements are included or excluded, and what is happening at the edges of the frame. But, trying to capture the essence, or the experience of a subject deals with more than knowing the Rule of Thirds. Its the ability to tell a story, and its the difference between making a picture and taking one.

Cedar Creek Grist Mill, Washington

Cedar Creek Grist Mill, Washington

When I’m photographing in any given location, there are things going on outside the scope of my frame that are influencing me. There is the temperature, sounds of wildlife and the aroma of wildflowers. All of my senses are engaged in the moment. My job is to convey that sensation via a photograph viewed by someone who has maybe never been to this place while making them feel as though they were there. To make them feel as if they know the place.

This connection between subject and viewer is vital, whether the subject is a person, a landscape or an architectural structure. It is especially important for landscape work, because if the viewer doesn’t feel a connection, they won’t care about the subject, nor feel the need to protect it. Two methods that I employ to communicate experience of place are creating a mood and point of view.

Creating a mood helps tell a story. For example, let’s say I’m photographing in one of my favorite national parks, Death Valley. If I want the story to be about the harsh environment and its rugged ecosystem, I’ll photograph during the middle of the day when the sun is high and there is high contrast and stark shadows. If instead the story is about how “Death Valley” is a misnomer and there is great beauty and abundant life, I’ll photograph before and during sunrise, and during and after sunset to get pastel, cool colors and low contrast. Choosing an appropriate lighting style renders the landscape in a way that supports the narrative.

Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley National Park, California

El Pescador Beach, Malibu, California

El Pescador Beach, Malibu, California

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Malibu

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Malibu

Point of view is about camera placement. I order for objects to look larger than life and more iconic, I like to have the camera lower than average eye level. I also look for opportunities to have objects, such as branches, enter the edges of the frame to give the viewer a sense that they are emerging from one place to another. I want them to feel enveloped by the implied surroundings that lie outside of the frame.

Mt. Adams, Trout Lake, Washington

Mt. Adams, Trout Lake, Washington

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Owl Creek Pass, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Owl Creek Pass, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

There are many techniques that can be used for effective storytelling and for finding your voice as a photographer. The above are merely examples. Connecting the viewer with the subject is far more important than simply making a pretty picture. As Ansel Adams once said; “A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is a true expression of what one feels about life in it’s entirety.”

Tuesdays Tip

About me

We’ve all been there. You’re plugging away on your new site, your images are filling the space just as you imagined, your design is coming to life….and then you sit down to write your ‘About Me’ page, and suddenly your momentum stops. Summarizing (and more importantly selling) yourself as an artist and business owner in just a few short paragraphs is a daunting task. How do you let potential clients know just how amazing you are while convincing them to employ you over someone else in your industry?

Your about me page should give your audience a small glimpse into what it would be like to work with you. Take a moment to step back from selling your product and focus on selling yourself as an individual. To make things simple, we are going back to the old elementary school technique of identifying the 5W’s and an H. Now, you are going to be answering these questions yourself and will use the answers to guide the content on your about me page.

The who, what, where, when, why & how of your about me page:

Who am I trying to reach?

Decide who your target audience is. Research them, check out their social media, study their demographic, and use this to dictate the tone of your about me page. Are you a photographer trying to reach potential brides or families? Maybe try a more personable and casual tone. Are you trying to reach out to advertising companies or newspapers? Maybe a formal approach is the way to go. Whatever you decide, make sure that the feel of your about me page matches the feel of the rest of your brand experience in addition to where you want to see your image going in the future.

Pro-tip: Find someone in your target audience, whether it be a friend, sibling, coworker, fellow patron at a coffee shop, or a stranger on the street, and ask them to read your about me page. Ask them what their first impression is and if they would like to hire you as a result of what they read. Ask them if it is easy to read and holds their attention. This is key! If the above feedback is positive, your about me page is well on its way to grabbing the attention of your future clients.

What makes me special?

Regardless of what industry you are in, we know that you believe your services are the best, and we know that you want to share them with the world. However, what if we told you that no one cares about what you have to offer? It is your responsibility to make people care. It’s time to introduce the face behind the brand and services that you are selling throughout your site. Keeping your target audience in mind, what makes you stand out in the crowd? What makes you different and more desirable than the rest? Creatively let your audience know this as you sell yourself as an individual through your about me page.

Where do you see yourself in 6 months? 1 year? 5 years?

Have you made your business plan yet? Though it may not seem related to a simple about me page, it is absolutely vital to know and understand where you want to take your business in the future. As you create and publish content, you are creating an online brand and image for yourself that will stick with you for years to come. In todays day and age, most consumers are not only looking to buy a product, they are looking for an entire brand experience. Create goals and work to create a cohesive online image that will guide you towards your aspirations. Additionally, let your audience know what you would like to do. You never know who may be looking for the exact services that you are dreaming about offering!

When I am not working, I like to ______.

Don’t be afraid to let your audience know who you are as an individual. What do you do when you aren’t working? How do you enjoy spending your time? Is there anything about you that you think clients may relate to? This is a pretty important piece of the puzzle that will allow your web audience to connect with you on a personal level.

For example, maybe you absolutely love traveling and spend most of your free time dreaming about your next destination. Include this in your about me page! Odds are, there are plenty of people in your audience that feel the exact same way and would instantly be connected to you as an individual. While this could have the potential to turn certain clients off, it could also catch the eye of the exact person that you are trying to work with. We all want clients we mesh well with, right?

Why do I do what I do?

Take a moment to reflect on the days when you were just getting started in your specific industry. What was it that sparked your interest into getting into business? That kept you motivated and excited to create new content during the toughest times? What keeps you going now? Take a moment to think. Find something meaningful. Find something that will resonate with your target audience. Maybe include the story of the exact moment you knew you wanted to make something more out of your hobby, or tell your audience about your hopes and dreams for the future. The most important thing is to not only tell your viewers what you do but why you do it as well. Step back from selling your services for a moment (that’s what the rest of your site is for!) and share a little bit of the soul behind your business.

How can people reach me?

Now that you have people hooked on who you are as an artist, let your audience know how they can easily get into contact with you. Include links to your contact information and social media profiles on your about me page to ensure that interested customers understand the best ways to stay connected with you.

Pro-tip: Think about including a photo of yourself on your about me page (Bonus points if it is an image of you in action!). Though this is not directly related to getting into contact with you, this will allow your potential customers to connect with you on a personal level while identifying a face with the name on your brand.

While it is not necessary to include each and every aspect listed above in your about me page, it is important to put quite a bit of thought into crafting the language and content of your about me page in a strategic manner. Ready to get started?

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Jillhome

Jill’s interest in photography began in high school and continued into college. Taking elective photography classes soon led to picking up photography as a hobby, which has since turned into her career. This is her story:

After college, I travelled around the world for seven months before returning home to San Francisco to find a ‘real job.’ I took photos with a point-and-shoot camera to chronicle my time abroad. The positive feedback that I received from my photographs when I returned home encouraged me to submit my work to a variety of photography exhibitions, invest in a better camera, and figure out a way to continue traveling while improving my portfolio. Eventually, I decided to enroll in the Academy of Art University in San Francisco to pursue a master’s in Fine Arts degree in photography. For my Master’s thesis project, I chose to spend nine months documenting life in the Himalayas. I travelled throughout Nepal, India, Kashmir, Bhutan and Tibet, working with a variety of non-profit agencies. In 2009, I won a National Geographic YourShot photography contest, and I had my first photograph published in National Geographic Magazine. This was the opening that I needed to move my photography career to the next level. Since 2011, my photography has been represented by National Geographic Creative. In 2012, I received my first assignment from National Geographic Books and was sent to Sydney, Australia for five weeks to photograph the National Geographic Traveler: Sydney Guidebook. Following that, I became an intern and then freelance photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Since 2011, I have been spending my summers teaching photography to high school students in countries all over the world for National Geographic Student Expeditions.

At home in San Francisco, I photograph events, editorial, lifestyle, architectural and food-related shoots. I also provide private/group and corporate photography workshops, mentoring and portfolio reviews.

Jill Schneider Photography_0106

My style is my own personal vision of stories I am drawn to, that are unique to me. I photograph issues and iconic places which I find compelling. My goal is to create a visual of places in the world many people may not have seen while exposing them to the beauty and reality of cultures they may not have experienced.

Check out more of Jill’s recent work on her liveBooks8 site at: www.jillhsphotography.com.

Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your website in three words?

JS: Bright, colorful, exotic

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Q: How often do you typically update your website?
JS: I typically update my website every few months, after any trip that I take, or whenever I have new work to show.

People

Q: How do you choose the photos that you display on your homepage?
JS: For my homepage, I typically pick photos that I am particularly drawn to. No specific formula. I choose photos that are vibrant, colorful, thought provoking or unique moments.

Q: What is your favorite new feature of liveBooks8?
JS: I love the new liveBooks8 platform! It is very user friendly. I particularly like all of the new design features. It has a very clean and modern feel. There are more options for easier search optimization, as well. Now, I am anxiously awaiting the capability to sell my images from my website.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone designing their website? 
JS: Take your time and have patience. It took me a couple of weeks to design my website. If you have questions, call the liveBooks customer service, as they are very helpful. Show your best work…quality over quantity. A editor once told me: “you are only as good as your worst photograph on your website,” and while this may sound harsh, it always stuck with me. Try to leave people wanting to see more of your work, rather than getting bored and moving on from your site.

 

Jill Schneider Photography_0108

Have a website you’d like us to feature? Email us at social@livebooks.com.

Tuesdays Tip

SOCIAL HEADER

In today’s digital landscape, a social media presence is absolutely vital for the success of your business. At liveBooks, we understand this. With over 100 social icons to choose from, liveBooks8 allows for complete customization of the social experience you provide your audience. Connect with clients easily, using liveBooks’ social media integration tools.

Today’s tip details how to create your ideal social experience for your audience through the customization of a social media footer.

To add social media icons to the footer of your liveBooks8 site:

1. Log into the liveBooks 8 editor.
2. Select the Content editing tab.
3. Select footer on the right side, under Global Content.

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4. Select your desired social platforms from our bank of over 100 options. With selections including anything from Facebook to Spotify and Vimeo, you will be able to create a customized and dynamic social experience for your unique audience.

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5. Add your unique social media links in the related fields.
Pro-tip: test the functionality of each button under the Design tab in your site’s preview mode to ensure each link is working as desired.
6. Admire your new social media footer and connect with your audience on a new level.

To change the color of your icons to match your branding:

1. From Content, navigate to the Design tab.
2. Select the area of the site where your social icons are located. For this tutorial, our social icons are located in our footer, so we will select the footer tab.

Social icon footer

3. Use the tools provided to customize the look, color, size and functionality of your new social icons.

Custom social

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Press save. Customization is as easy as that!

Get social with liveBooks! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Interested in learning more about a specific liveBooks8 feature? We want to know! Send us an email at social@livebooks.com.

Guest blog post by liveBooks client Ed Asmus

“Stunning” is a word that I don’t often use. But in this particular case, my trip to visit Ethiopia’s Omo Valley was not only aesthetically stunning, but strange and otherworldly. Almost ancestral.

Ed Asmus

Ed Asmus

This magical place is also known as “The Cradle of Mankind” – home of the oldest hominid fossil, #AL288-1 or “Lucy.” 3.5 million years after her, I went to photograph and visit her descendants.

This life changing journey started in a strange way. I am a long time user of the Broncolor lighting in my professional photography business in Sacramento, CA. One day, when I was reading their monthly newsletter, I saw a featured photographer and read about his trip to Ethiopia. His images were immediately captivating. Eerie, almost. It was hard to believe that what I was looking at really still existed in the world today. I contacted Ken, the photographer, who told me that things were rapidly changing over there, that I should go for at least two weeks, and that I should go NOW. He gave me his trusted guide’s name and shoot organizer, Ayele Sode, and all the pieces began to fall into place.

 

Ed Asmus

Ed Asmus

We planned our trip in November, just after the Ethiopian rainy season – their springtime – so native flowers would be in bloom. With equipment loaded atop our SUV, we headed to our first stop to see the “Surma Tribe.” It took three long days of driving in the bush to get to their village; the dirt roads were horrible. Not many Western people get to this tribe because they are so far off the beaten path, and there are no accommodations or running water. Our guide had organized tent camping and an enormous bottled water supply. He brought with us a chef and a hired bodyguard with an AK-47. I forgot we were in the bush and a long ways away from any cell service or modern conveniences.

 

Ed Asmus

Ed Asmus

We planned to stay five days with the Surma people, but it was cut short by tribal tensions one night, so we departed a day early. We still experienced rain, which made the roads even more difficult. On our way out, some roads were washed out and we ended up getting stuck four times. It crossed my mind more than once that we were all going to spend the night in the Landcruiser. The first little town we came to is where we found pension for $2.00 a night – and I gladly picked up the tab. The rain made our travels longer as we had another three days of driving to get to our next tribe. We saw seven tribes total, each more different than the last. The one commonality is that they all live and depend on the land; most are either farmers of teff, corn, wheat, or coffee, or they free range cattle and goats. Our accommodations ranged from $2 to $120 per night/USD. This really is a National Geographic wonderland, and what you will see and experience is worth every penny. All I can say is stunning.

 

Ed Asmus

Ed Asmus

I’ve been back for only two weeks and am already missing the ET native people. They seem to get by on what they have and are happy. My plans are to go back again next year, fine tune the logistics, and shoot more beautiful work.

Ed Asmus

Ed Asmus

Ed Asmus

Please check out Ed’s website for more stunning images!

Studio: 916-455-5061

Email: edasmus@sbcglobal.net

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