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I tumbled into photography while I was struggling to stay in New York after arriving from India with less than a dollar in my pocket and a visa that only lasted a month. In 1968, my plans were to become a fold singer; New York City was full of hippies and music was everywhere. This lady was listening to me sing in the village and asked me if I would come and audition at the United Nations’ choral group. I got the part and she got me a job as a messenger and took care of my visa problem. I won the grand spires in a photo-contest that led me to a job in the United Nation’s Photo Unit as a darkroom technician.

I had worked for 20 years as a photojournalist and I had a nervous breakdown after my coverage in Rwanda in 1994. At that point, I wanted to turn my camera towards nature and wildlife. Since I come from India and tigers are endangered, I decided to turn my photography towards documenting the tigers. I am also very fond of cats.


This tiger documentary was a coincidence. Mary Fereira who is a United Nations Television (UNTV) documentary producer approached me and asked if I would be willing to share my tiger images and let them follow me while I was in the jungle in India and film with me. So last year they did the filming in India. During the 30 years I worked with the United Nations, I was a photojournalist covering crisis around the world of less fortunate people who suffered during wars and natural disasters. So to be featured as a wildlife photographer was a challenge and thrill.


I want people to be aware of the delicate situation of these tigers existence in our ever changing world and needs. I want people to realize that we all have an obligation to protect our wildlife and the land we live in. There is an ancient saying that this Earth is given to us on loan and we must take the responsibility to nurture and safekeep it for our children and their children.


Even though I have retired from my regular job as a photojournalist, I still work everyday in my studio in Yonkers. I make presentations at universities, schools, conduct workshops, and teach photography. As I am writing this, I am getting ready to leave for China on an invitation to make a presentation to 1,400 students in Beijing next week.

To see more of John Isaac’s work, visit his website:

September 9th, 2016

The Life of a Stylist by Gretchen Bell

Posted by liveBooks

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Gretchen Bell is a wardrobe and prop stylist based in Seattle. Her client list includes Kraft, Levi’s, Target, Chevrolet, Amazon, Omni Resorts and Tommy Bahama. To see more of her work, visit:

In some ways, I feel I was destined to become a stylist. As a child, I was always wearing fashion trends before anyone else and modeling in local fashion shows. When I was about 13, I remember reading an article in Seventeen Magazine about the woman who was the stylist for The Cosby Show and thinking that would be my dream job, little did I know!


Photograph by: Christopher Bell

In college, my major was television Communications, so my career began working in video production as a production assistant and doing graphics for the news at the NBC station in Minneapolis. I then spent several years working as a modeling agent, before taking a job as a studio manager and producer for a successful advertising photographer, Craig Perman. It was there that I began styling commercial photo shoots for many large national and international clients and really learned about all aspects of production. So my whole career has really been about seeing things in a visual way.


Photograph by: Greg Montijo

In a great photograph everything matters, the color of a shirts, the kind of coffee cup, the style of the shoe, the position of the elements to one another. Everything in a photograph is helping to convey a client’s message or tell a story and that is my job. That is the fun and the challenge of being a stylist. What is going to make a photograph funny or moody or nostalgic and how are my props and wardrobe going to help do that? People don’t realize I might spend hours looking for just the right underwear that will be funny on teenage boys or searching for the perfect feathers for a still life shoot because it all matters. That is why stylists bring so many choices to the set for every shoot, so we can figure out what best helps tell the story.


Photograph by: Christopher Bell

It is very much a collaboration to tell a great story and it’s not always successful. Everyone is bringing something to the table at the shoot and when we all have a clear and concise vision, I think then it makes for a great photograph. As a stylist, I am coming to a shoot with my interpretation of what my client wants, but also run through a filter of my personal style. If a client wants playing cards, there are lots of playing card options out there. It is really fun to see a shoot come together successfully and see how elements from each member of the crew helped create that moment.

To me being a stylist is really about being part of a team; I can’t do my job without the rest of the crew. My props and wardrobe are only as good as the talent booked for the shoot, the lighting, the photographer, the makeup artist, the vision of the client and the layouts. Again, everything matters.


Photograph by: Melissa O’Hearn


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Lauren Keskinel is a photographer based in Los Angeles. Her background in film production, extensive travels through the developing world, and affinity for sports and adventure give her a unique perspective on the people and places she shoots. When not working in the world of sports entertainment, Lauren enjoys partnering with organizations to help document their humanitarian efforts, both domestically and abroad. Her work has been recognized through numerous awards including the APA Awards and PDN’s Photobook Cali. She was also a proud participant in the Eddie Adams Workshop XXIV. To see more of Lauren’s work, visit


I always say that I took the long road to photography. When I was 19, I got a job on a movie set and spent the next decade going from film to film. It was an amazing time in my life and allowed me to learn the ins and outs of entertainment production, while providing me the ability to travel the world in between shoots. After a while, I started craving something more creative of my own. Photography had always been something I was interested in and I took the opportunity to go back to school and learn more about it. I was hooked.

I was lucky to meet another photographer early on in photography who worked in the equestrian world shooting high level competitions. I had ridden and competed as a kid so it was an easy transition into shooting horses. It was a wonderful way to hone my skills and allowed me the flexible schedule I needed when my kids were young. Now that they are a little older, I’m focusing more on editorial and commercial opportunities, particularly related to entertainment.



Much of my commercial and editorial work is in color and I think certain images lend themselves beautifully to it, but I absolutely love black and white. I am lucky enough to have learned photography when film was still hanging on as a standard. I explored a lot with the classic black and white films and spent a lot of time in the darkroom. Now I love taking those same techniques and applying them digitally. I find that when it’s just me and an image in post, with full creative freedom, I still lean towards black and white.

I consider myself to be a street photographer at heart. I have always been an observer and joke sometimes that I am a professional people watcher. Whether it’s a well-planned, production-heavy commercial shoot or a quick shot with my iPhone, I love to capture that perfect moment that reveals something about life and humanity.



For commercial or editorial work, I will often use a medium format Hasselblad or Phase One with a digital back. For sports and travel, I always use the professional line of 35mm cameras from Canon. Personally, I obsessively shoot with my iPhone. I know it may be blaspheme in some circles, but it has been one of the most creatively freeing tools that I’ve used. It allows me to capture moments that I would never otherwise have my camera for, and helps avoid the wall that can go up with a subject as soon as you pull out a real camera.

If you’re just a beginner and want to get into photographing, I would tell you to take classes. You don’t have to go to an expensive art school. There are so many great local programs throughout the country. I did the commercial photography program at Santa Monica College here in Los Angeles and it was amazing. I think when you first start out in photography, it’s easy to underestimate how much technique and knowledge goes into the beautiful shots you see. You look and think ‘I can do that’ and then you try and it looks like your crazy uncle Bob took it. I think it’s really the technical skills that separate you from the pack these days. I will also give the same advice given to me and to generations of photographer. Shoot. Shoot. Keep Shooting. Then shoot some more. I learn something every time I shoot. Often it’s what doesn’t work, but slowly, with every mistake and failed concept, you get better. I guarantee you one thing about photography, there is alway more to learn. Keep at it.


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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

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.



Photo by: Stephanie Rausser Photography |

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.


Photo by: Stephanie Rausser Photography |


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