Friday, September 25, 2009

Faculty Member Mark Rogers - a Different Perspective

As students, you probably have a pretty good idea of photojournalism instructor Mark Rogers' Talent. We wanted to give you insight into his CHARACTER. (Above image from the Mark Rogers Media website. Photo by Mark Rogers)

We asked photographer, Mei-Chun Jau for her perspective on Mark, since he was her photo editor at the Fort Worth Star Telegram from 1996-1999. After her time at the FWST, she moved on to the Dallas Morning News, and she currently works as a freelancer. You can see her work HERE. Though it's been a few years since she worked for Mark, this is what she had to say:
"Mark Rogers was my photo editor during my stint as a staff photographer at The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He always offered great insight to any assignment I had to take on. Not only was he a great manager, Mark is a quick thinking, creative photojournalist and one of the most thoughtful person I have ever know. He always took his time to listen to my thoughts and concerns.

I remember once, all my photo equipment was stolen during the time I was working on a story about a teacher dying of breast cancer. Not only was I exhausted from working long hours on this story, but it was emotionally draining and the loss of my equipment made things even worse. Fortunately, the newsroom generously took up a collection to help me out. The support of my fellow journalists was incredibly touching. When Mark handed me the newsroom's donations, he also handed me an extra donation of his own and told me that he believed in my talent. His encouragement during that difficult time was key in helping me get back on track.

Mark Rogers was a great mentor and for that I am truly honored to have work with him."

We're lucky to have you, Mark.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Must-Have Accessories for Video DSLR Cameras

Many new professional and prosumer level digital camera models now have high quality HD video capability. Accessories for this new feature are springing up all over the place, since so many consumers (and manufacturers) see the value in this camera feature.

There are lots of gadgets to make shooting with an actual video camera more fluid and professional, and now many of these accessories are being adapted or redesigned for use with digital still cameras with the HD video feature.

Check out this article for more information:
Tricking Out Your DSLR for Video by David Speranza

Monday, September 21, 2009

Advice from Editor and Photographer Rep, Lara Casey

Lara Casey is Editor-in-Chief, Southern Weddings Magazine and CEO of Lara Casey Reps, a luxury wedding market consulting firm handling such photographers as Jeremy Cowart, Kyle Barnes, Jory Cordy, and Jeff Holt. She agreed to answer a few questions for us...

Here's a quick BIO:

Lara was born in Washington DC. She spent most of her youth growing up in the small beach community of Pensacola, Florida. Ms. Casey graduated with honors from Carnegie Mellon University and studied art and design at Yale University. Lara is a member of Mensa and an avid fitness buff. Mrs. Casey has a wide array of successes including having been a celebrity personal trainer in Manhattan and a contributor to Shape Magazine. Lara is currently Publisher of Southern Weddings magazine, CEO of event design firm Bliss Event Group and just launched Lara Casey Reps, a luxury market wedding consulting firm. Lara frequently speaks on the use of social media for business and is a self-confessed Wired magazine and Luna Bar addict. Ms. Casey lives in Chapel Hill, NC, and loves to travel.

Lara Casey. Photo credit: Jory Cordy.

Lara, Why have you chosen to work within the luxury wedding market? “Luxury” can have negative connotations. To me, luxury is about the client experience. I’m passionate about weddings and the sacred experience. I believe every couple should get not only a great product in the end, but unforgettable memories in the process of getting there. True professionals recognize this. In turn, it translates to a greater sense of value for the art that is being produced, more income for the wedding professional, and the changed lives of the couple. Luxury service can be that significant.

As an editor, what is the importance of deadlines for the photographers you use? I have a twitter account for Lara Casey Reps- @WeddingRep. I just twittered yesterday, “Responsiveness sells. Overdeliver, exceed expectation, send things well before deadlines (build it into your workflow) and you build trust.” It’s one of the most important keys to success.

Do photographers approach you about being included in your publication? If so, what are some successful tactics and unsuccessful tactics they have used to gain your attention? I could write a book about this! I get very generous gifts, long emails, strange tactics galore, and pushy publicists daily. What outweighs them all is integrity, great branding and most of all... Powerful work. If you are great at what you do and truly passionate about it... And your branding mirrors that, you can’t go wrong.

How important is reputation in this industry, and what are some things that can destroy a photographer's reputation? Reputation is key. Destroying factors: unresponsiveness, sloppy branding, not using social media in the best way possible, and poor relationships with other vendors.

What are qualities of your favorite photographers? Being the best at what they love. Don’t try to be someone else. Take time to explore your art and find what really makes your heart sing. Study, learn, grow daily, take workshops, study art and design, and just get out there and shoot! I think the mere fact of being genuine in your art, true to what you love, translates into future success and a following. I love so many photographers who have completely different styles for this reason- they are fully themselves and the best at what they do.

As a photographer rep, how do you decide who to take on, especially since you are in a specialized market? I look for very specific qualities: marketability, drive, follow-through, the ability to take criticism, and a keen sense of relationships. Building relationships with clients well can make or break you.

What is the best advice you could give to a photography student who wanted to either shoot weddings or work as an editorial photog? Get educated. Don’t just learn wedding photography- learn commercial, advertising, psychology, and art. To be a great wedding photographer you need to of course know the technical aspects of using a camera, lighting, etc, but you also have to have an intuition. You are capturing people’s most intimate public moments... Sacred experiences, joy, tears, fear and transformation.

Other than the photographers you rep, of course, who is the one photographer (living or dead) that you would like to photograph your own wedding? Jose Villa. He’s a warm, giving, wonderful person and his images make my heart take flight. They are timeless. And Jeff Newsom because he looks at the world like no one else. --two polar opposite photographers, each with their own skills and a clear passion for what they do.

I see that you are an avid fitness buff and have even contributed to Shape magazine, but I'm going to ask this anyway... if you were forced to eat an entire wedding cake in one sitting, what flavor would it be? Oh goodness! If the wedding cake was the size of a cupcake ( After you work in weddings as long as I have, wedding cake does not sound appetizing!), I’d say red velvet or carrot cake.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Studio Manager or Rock Star...

... or both?

Eric Trent Performing with Ugly Mustard (photo credit: Jason Janik)

Eric Trent has been Studio Manager at JCPenney Corporate for ten years. His daily activities include designing and building environments for photo shoots, booking assistants and digital techs, and maintaining equipment.

According to Eric, most photo shoots are planned weeks in advance, and he states, "This gives me time to build a team and the environment. Our producer team handles stylist and models. If a shoot is scheduled last minute, I always have an emergency crew or I’m able to move people around."

We asked Eric a few questions, which he was happy to answer for YOUR BENEFIT!

How do you cope with the variables and unknowns with photo shoots and assure that you have a positive outcome? I always create a buffer and establish the best resources.

What are some deal-breakers for you in regards to photo assistants, digital techs, and photographers? (i.e. worst offenses/mistakes) Be true to your ability. Are you really an “expert” in photoshop CS4? As a starting photo assistant, what is your day rate? Some agents will encourage you to set your rate high. You will move faster with an honest rate and work more often.

If there was only one quality that you could choose in a photo assistant, what would it be? Have ambition

If one of your Photo Assistants makes a mistake, how can they redeem themselves? Mistakes are made often. Just learn from them. Don’t be afraid to ask.

At JCPenney, what are the most realistic job opportunities for an entry-level student photographer as he/she graduates from college? If your ambition is to become a photographer, photo assisting is very likely at JC Penney.

So, we hear you are a member of Ugly Mustard. What’s the craziest thing you wish you could have captured on film at one of your shows? We were playing in Zurich Switzerland and the opening band came on stage in the middle of our set and started removing all of our equipment while we were playing.

What parallels do you see with your job at JCP and your job as a musician? Any commonalities? Running a photo studio is much like being in a band. It’s the same language and the show must go on.

If you were hanging from the edge of a cliff, and your life depended on one person to rescue you – would it be a Photo Assistant or a Roadie? Roadie of course.

Eric Trent with Ugly Mustard (photo credit: Jason Janik)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Josh Levy, Art Director with Sony, Puts in His Two-Cents...

We asked Joshua Marc Levy, Sr. Art Director and Illustrator with Sony, to shed some light on forging a path in the music industry...

What are some of your basic job duties? Setting up photo shoots, cover design and/or illustration, package design, color proofing, press runs

How did you make your way to Sony? Its a long story of strange fate and odd twists...and I took an independent study with someone who used to work here.

What are the greatest challenges you face in your position?
Really depends from job to job. Sometimes its a matter of working with a band that has 5 members with 5 different opinions. Sometimes you win an artist over with your first cover design and other times its the 200th cover. It might thunderstorm your photo shoot day in the park. And of course office politics.

What are some of your favorite/most memorable projects?
AC/DC (one of my all time favorite bands)...We shot in London, special packaging with 4 different covers and a hard-bound deluxe edition. Went to 4 shows on the tour and everyone is wearing my art! Also Ozzy Osbourne, Modest Mouse, Love As Laughter, and Buddy Guy to name a few. (Below is the AC/DC project to which Josh refers...)

Lots of students would love to work at Sony. What are some tips you can provide for students wanting to work in Photography at Sony? There are no in-house staff photographers. That is all freelance, and there is a LOT of competition. I receive up to 20 emails a day from Photographers and I probably open maybe 1 or 2 of them by random selection. It’s all in the timing. Half the time its not even my choice who shoots the band or artist. Please do not call me. :) Best way to start shooting artists is to meet some of them before they get big and ask if you can shoot them for free. I’m not talking about live photography, set up actual shoots.

How frequently do you work with photographers and photo assistants? Really depends on the year. One year I may have 2 photo shoots and another year I may have 10. Really depends on each specific artist assigned.

What are some qualities you look for in a photographer? You must have other artists and bands in your book in order to get hired here. This is the top. Start small working for independents and small labels.

How important is a photographer’s or photo assistant’s reputation? What mistakes have you seen photogs make that should be avoided at all costs? Do not send a fashion book or a landscape/lifestyle book to a music art director. Do not hire an assistant who has to check her facebook every 15 minutes.

What advice can you give to Photographers about how to break into the music industry? Try and get into advertising or fashion, because the music industry is dying and the pay for photographers gets cut in half every year. If it really truly is your passion then go for it and don’t give up.

Recently, you made a trip to Dallas for a shoot, so… do you know who shot J.R.? Yes, I actually do. But do any of your students even know who J.R. is? I bet they’ve never used a typewriter before.

If you could be on the cover of any musician’s album (living or dead) who would it be, and what would the image look like? ahhh, there are many I’d love to design. A lot of the old rockers...My top are Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Mudhoney, Bruce Springsteen, The Buzzcocks, Social Distortion, Iggy Pop, to name a few. ...and what would the covers look like? I have no idea. It’s a giant puzzle you have to solve when the time is right.

View more of Josh's work HERE.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ouch. Really sad saga....

"Debts closing in on photographer Annie Leibovitz...."

According to this headline, Annie's copyrights are on the line. Read the full article HERE.

But we expected that she was in big trouble after reading THIS a few weeks ago. Here's hoping that she is able to financially recover and to protect her assets (i.e. her copyrights).

Field Trips

The Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth has quite a lineup of photography exhibits in the coming months.

Here are the Titles, Dates and Descriptions of each show, as seen on the Amon Carter website:

Circle of Friends: Portraits of Artists
Through November 29, 2009

For much of the history of figurative art, artists have made self-portraits and portraits of their patrons, but with the advent of modernism they began making portraits of one another with increasing regularity. Although the practice of artist portraiture was widespread in painting, printmaking, sculpture and photography through much of the 20th century, photographers were especially perceptive of a need to document their circles of artist-peers and friends.

As part of the process, photographers created works that embody their artistic and personal ambitions, from the glamorous femme fatale of Hollywood to the purposeful self-consciousness of the Stieglitz Circle painters, each of whom faced the camera in turn. Circle of Friends, drawn from the Amon Carter Museum’s collection of photographs, examines these historical moments via portraits of their key participants.

Masterworks of American Photography: Moments in Time
Through January 3, 2010

Journey through photography’s history in an exhibition of works from the medium’s early years to the present day. Taken together, these images from the Carter’s permanent collection reflect the diversity and richness of an American visual tradition and explore photography’s unique relationship to time.

The exhibition includes a number of recent acquisitions that relate to the passing of time in works that range from enduring still lifes to fleeting moments captured by the camera. This display of Masterworks of American Photography is supported by Canon U.S.A. and Fort Worth Camera.

Edward S. Curtis: The North American Indian
December 12, 2009–May 15, 2010

In 1900, Edward S. Curtis undertook the momentous task of documenting American Indian cultures across the United States. Over the next 30 years, he took over 40,000 photographs and collected information about more than 80 tribes, ranging from the Inuit people of the far north to the Hopi people of the Southwest. He assembled this material into 20 lavishly illustrated text volumes, each accompanied by a folio of approximately 38 exquisitely printed, hand-pulled photogravures. Today, The North American Indian is widely heralded as a masterpiece of unparalleled scope and beauty, revered by many as a key artistic and historical resource. The Amon Carter Museum will display a selection of works from this compelling new acquisition.

Admission is FREE at the Amon Carter, and the museum stays open late (8:00pm) on Thursdays.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Another Great Source for You

Digital Photo Pro has posted some great tutorials:

Tips for how to get proper exposure for RAW images HERE
Tips for mastering the art of effectively capturing various skin tones HERE
Tips for fighting dust on your sensors HERE

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Guest Blogger: Rhonda Reinhart, Managing Editor of D Weddings, D Home, and D Beauty

We asked Rhonda Reinhart, Managing Editor for D Weddings, D Homes and D Beauty, a few questions on behalf of our Fashion and Photography Students. Here's what she had to say:

I got into the business in a very traditional way. I majored in journalism in college, got my fist newspaper job while I was still in school (way back in 1997), and stayed in newspapers until 2005, when I got a job as the xxxxxxx (photo credit: Matthew Shelley)
managing editor of Spirit, the in-flight magazine of Southwest Airlines. After that, I started working at D, where I’ve been the managing editor of a wide variety of publications. And I do mean wide. There was even a golf magazine, some medical directories, and a real estate magazine in the mix at various times.

In the editorial industry, what is your opinion about the Dallas scene as it relates to opportunities for photographers? Publishing-wise, Dallas has a lot going on. Of course, there’s D and all of its sister publications. But American Airlines Publishing is based in DFW, too, and so is Cowboys & Indians. There are also all those D competitors whose names I won’t mention. Plus, there are lots of opportunities with Neiman Marcus. That’s not editorial work, but it seems like a lot of people we work with got their start there or have some sort of previous relationship with the company. Photographers have opportunities with all the non-glossies around town – the Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, etc.

How important is networking and relationships, when stylists and photogs are ultimately hoping to work within the editorial industry? Networking is important in getting to know the right people, but relationships are important in getting those people to hire you more than once. The best way to build a good relationship is don’t be difficult. If you’re given a deadline, meet it. If you’re asked to change direction at the last minute, do it. And don’t whine about it. That’s the way the magazine is going, and they’ll do it without you if they have to.

How do you coordinate working with writers, stylists, photographers, and your subjects to create the end-product? Is this challenging – how so? Well, it is challenging as far as scheduling goes. Sometimes I’m amazed we pull it off. There are just so many moving parts. Luckily, we have a good team of people who know what they need to accomplish and when, and a lot of tasks are highly compartmentalized. The art directors oversee and hire the stylists and photogs, the editors work with and hire the writers and fact-checkers, etc. Basically, we all have to be on top of our game as individuals. While I’m writing a honeymoon travel story for D Weddings, our art director might be on a photo shoot for a D Home feature. There’s a certain amount of teamwork in play, but we don’t always work together as a team.

What are your favorite job duties? I love writing headlines and copyediting. But that’s just the word nerd in me. The most fulfilling part of my job is when I can hold the finished product in my hands and flip through the pages and know that just a few weeks before, that magazine didn’t exist. We made it out of nothing. That never stops being a cool feeling.

What are the most difficult aspects of your job? Deadlines! Meeting them and getting others to meet them. Creative types are just the worst.

Who has been a real DREAM to work with (can be co-workers, your subjects, other pros, etc.) and why? Jamie Laubhan-Oliver. She’s the art director for D Home and D Weddings, and she is awesome. She’s been with us for less than two years, but she has already made such a difference. Besides being amazingly creative and more than willing to put in long hours, she also just absolutely loves what she does -- and it shows. Her excitement is contagious. Plus, she’s tough. I like that.

If someone wants to break into the industry as a stylist or photog, what is the best advice you could give as an Editor? First and foremost, do good work. Without that, nothing else matters. But, assuming you do good work, I would say the next most important thing is knowing your audience, so to speak. If you want to shoot or style for a particular magazine, for example, then buy that magazine and actually read it. Learn that publication’s style, its tone, its overall message. Then read the staffbox. Find out who is in charge of hiring photographers (usually the creative director or art director) and who is in charge of hiring stylists. You have to get your name and portfolio in front of the right person. Magazines, for the most part, are short-staffed and hectic. You don’t want your stuff ending up in the wrong hands and getting lost in the shuffle.

Did you realize that your first and last name begin with the same letter? Are you a fan of alliteration? I am definitely a fan of alliteration. It’s one of my favorite headline-writing techniques. And you know what else? My middle name is Renae! Sorry if I just blew your mind.

If you had to share your Twin-Pop Popsicle with someone in the industry, to whom would you give the other half? I have this editor friend who always seems to know all the juicy gossip. He seems like a good choice for my Twin-Pop. But, knowing him, it would also have to come with a side of Maker’s Mark.