A client team of Leigh Beisch’s comes to town often and when they do, we make sure to head out somewhere great for dinner. I always look forward to these dinners because the group is so dynamic and full of great stories. Since I do not attend many of the shoots (truly, I just get in the way and eat way too much!) it is fun for me to use this time to get to know the team. In addition to the stories, I like hearing about what everyone does when they are not working.
One night, Jessica James, an executive chef at one of the world’s largest casual dining restaurants, shared that she is currently working on completing her master’s degree in journalism and that one of her requirements is to write a blog. I of course asked her if I could read it. The first entry made me laugh out loud. While I am incredibly organized and very detail oriented, my desk is always a mess. Well, a mess to someone who isn’t working at it. I know where everything is and couldn’t imagine working any other way.
“I could relate to the post so much and I know many many people who could as well (no naming names!, I decided to share it. Thank you Jessica!
I once read somewhere that a defining characteristic of a successful creator is the ability to thrive in a cluttered environment—it could be a cluttered, disorganized office, kitchen or workshop. To be clear, I’m not talking about hoarding, just letting go a little, allowing for a little chaos in your life.
This definitely holds true for me. While my desk and workspace at home and work are in no way hazardous to others, it is safe to say, they’re a mess. My husband calls me a ‘stacker’—I have piles of papers here and there and it drives him crazy. He is not creative; he’s a storybook left-brained lawyer-in-the-making, no wonder he cannot tolerate my clutter.
These piles are laced with important documents, not-so-important documents, magazines, receipts and tear sheets I use for creative inspiration.
To the passer-byer, my stacks of paper might appear to be clutter, but to me, they’re heaps of creative genius. I know where everything is and I know most of the contents of each pile.
For me, the clutter keeps ideas fresh in my mind. If I were to file things away, they’d be out of sight, out of mind.
At work, the piles of documents remind me of all the projects I’m balancing and the various products I’m developing. At home, my stacks of clutter serve a similar purpose—they remind me of the projects I’m working on, or want to work on.
In addition to paper clutter, I also keep a white board that’s full of chicken scratch only I can decipher. Again, it keeps things fresh in my mind and it’s always there for me to reference, update or stare at blankly.
I know many people who would disagreewith me and say that to be productive, efficient and ready for anything, the ideal situation is a clean, well-stocked and organized workspace. But for me, creativity isn’t always about being productive and efficient. Some of my greatest successes have come from failures and/or creative mishaps.
If my story isn’t enough to convince you to let go and let the laundry pile up, let the bounds of paper overflow, let three years worth of your favorite magazine take the shape of Pisaand watch your creativity blossom like never before, then turn to the great, disorganized creators of history—Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin.”
To read Jessica’s post directly from her blog, please link here.
Robert Luessen, Chris Crisman’s studio manger, started a wonderful series on Chris’ blog about some of the aspects of being a studio manager that impacts him. He calls them, Studio Manager Meditations. The first one we featured here on Coiling Cables got a lot of people talking – who knew how important coiling cables were??
This month, Robert makes a parallel between taking out the real trash and taking out your creative trash. Make room in the studio and make room in your mind – it is all the same really. Link here to read his insightful point of view.
Photographers are always asking me about transitioning to video and whether or not I think it is necessary. I always explain that in order for a photographer to become a director of film or video, he or she needs to WANT to do so. Adding it to their offerings because they think they SHOULD is the wrong reason. They need to be excited about the new tool and innovative about finding ways to integrate it into their current portfolio.
I wrote a blog post about finding the right time to market your motion work for Agency Access in December of 2013 that outlines my thoughts on how the whole process was unfolding and offered advice on when to start showing the new work.
Well, just recently, AARP released the 5 commercial and corresponding print ads that Chris Crisman created with RTC. This campaign is a perfect example of how a photographer learned a new skill, added it to his portfolio and partnered with a client to create added value to a print campaign.
Link here to see Chris’ blog post about the shoot, all the videos and even a behind the scenes video set to some cool punk rock.
To see the rest of the campaign, please link here.
I am used to photographers calling me, excited about a new shot or an upcoming shoot. I am used to them sharing their enthusiasm about a new camera or program they discovered. I am not surprised when they email me new work and proudly talk about the details of the shoot. What I am not used to is when a photographer calls me so emotional about a new shot that he can hardly talk.
That was my experience with Andy Anderson when he shared with me his feelings about the images he shot at an oil field outside of Bakersfield, CA. ”I am blown away but what I shot. This is some of the best work I have ever done. I feel alive.” These were his exact words.
When I saw the images, I knew exactly why he was so moved by his experience with the oil workers. These images are indeed worth 1,000 words. See for yourself.
Stay tuned, more from the series to be shared via a very special promotional piece.
Last December, we shared a post we created for Agency Access’ blog about photographers directing and shooting video. For some reason, the blog only lived on the site for one day and disappeared. Since then, many have asked where it went so I thought it would be good to repost. Enjoy.
When is the right time to begin marketing my motion work and putting videos on my website, as opposed to sharing it on my blog or social media?
Venturing into a new medium such as video is exciting and inspiring. So, when our photographers first started adding video to their capabilities, we made sure to have extensive discussions with them about how to go about this.
We explained that this was a new frontier of sorts and they needed to determine if and how it would fit into their current business models. Ultimately, some chose to add it to their capabilities and others chose to find directors of photography they could partner with as the need arose. Either way, each of them created a new process for how they could offer video to their clients.
The Process Evolves
At the time, we believed there was a short window for experimentation for both photographers and clients. Clients were still working out how they could use video, agencies were working out the creative options and photographers were working out the execution process. We assumed correctly that everyone was a little bit more forgiving at this time and would be open to experimentation. Doing so allowed for everyone to spend some much-needed time sorting out details and developing a work flow for the future.
Quickly, though, the window closed. Photographers became savvier, received more production experience and made a name for themselves as videographers. Clients understood the value of adding video to a photo shoot and agencies helped educate them on creative uses for it that made it that much more exciting to consider.
And, just as importantly, art buyers began developing criteria for hiring a photographer to shoot video. They needed to make sure the video product was just as high-end as the photography product. And they needed to make sure the process was buttoned up, professional and on par with what the photographer would provide if it were just a photo shoot. There was no more experimenting.
We knew this because of the type of questions the art buyers were asking, and by the requests to hire production companies to aid with production. Shooting video no longer became an add-on; it became an integral part of the production and needed to be handled accordingly. Budgets were being allocated toward video and with that came attention to the details.
Share With Care
It is for all of these reasons that I would caution you: Just as is the case with your photography, I wouldn’t share any new work via social media or your own website that isn’t completely representative of your capabilities. Buyers and clients are savvy about the process. They have specific ideas of what they require on a shoot. They drive the process with a new level of understanding. If you share a video that doesn’t represent you to the best of your abilities, it will do you more harm than good.
My advice to you is to share your video with colleagues and trusted friends within the industry first to get feedback. Make edits. Consider more edits. And then edit again. When it showcases your vision in the best light and communicates your understanding of the process and the value you can bring to a project, then add it to your website and share it via social media.
Since we dedicated the month of April to Community Table SF, we are a bit behind in sharing some of the other happenings in our group. Thank you Found Folios for the wonderful article you posted about Leigh Beisch. You are a fantastic partner and we love being featured on your site.
A Taste of Poetry from Leigh Beisch
The visual poetry in photographer Leigh Beisch’s work should come as no surprise: Her mother was a poet.
And let’s be clear, there is poetry here – beautiful verse that turns simple food shots into a songwriter’s notebook or a painter’s canvas: a complete story. Beisch’s award-winning work has been featured in numerous cookbooks and magazines. Her flavorful client list is filled with high-end favorites from Williams-Sonoma to Applebee’s, and every shot in every portfolio is a sonnet, an homage to the edible.
Consider the testimonial on her website from the McDonald’s creative director, praising “the most beautiful McD food I have ever seen!” Believe it: Turning a Big Mac into art is no mean feat.
The work and the awards are nice—the above plum shot won a 2012 PDN Object of Desire award in the Food and Still Life category—but what really fire-roasts Leigh’s creative spirit is the challenge. That’s precisely what she found at the end of 2011, when acclaimed wine blogger Alder Yarrow came knocking.
“He was creating a new series on his blog titled ‘Essences of Wine,’ and he wanted to partner with a photographer to create some imagery that wasn’t so illustrative, but more captured the ‘essence of the essence,’ so to speak,” Leigh says.
As Alder’s writing is “rather poetic,” she aimed for imagery with “a similar sensitivity” and in putting together her shoots she called upon lessons she’d learned from her mother’s verse. “Poetic sensibilities are something I embrace working with,” Leigh notes.
Over a year later, the ongoing collaboration with Alder has proven “very fulfilling,” she adds, “especially when we see the imagery paired with Alder’s prose.”
“Flavor is an abstract idea and has always been a challenge to capture,” Leigh says. “It’s a challenge I love to embrace!”
Click here to see more of Leigh’s mouth-watering food photography.
Chris Crisman recently was interviewed by Washington DC based photographer, blogger, and podcast-er Patrick Onofre, who has been producing Staying in Focus Podcast since 2012. Chris was honored to interviewed and loved having the time to talk about photography.
Patrick sums up the interview nicely sharing that they ”got into a slew of subjects – from his adoration of quaint, small towns and how growing up in one such town influences his work, to his days at the University of Penn, and how the javelin led to a successful career in photography. That, plus how his tastes have changed, how Photoshop does not make a photographer, why not NYC, and more.”
A few quotes from the interview worth highlighting:
“You develop your tastes and you know what you like, and really, the development of photography says so much about your own identity and what you’re drawn to and what inspires you.
“I think [regarding] the personal style issue, people still don’t get the idea that it’s not just what you do in Photoshop. It’s not just an aesthetic. It really has a lot to do with what you’re bringing to the table and your human connection with who’s on the other side of the camera.”
“[In commercial photography,] I think to make it work, to be successful, you need a really unique sense of drive and passion that can never give up. I think you just need this something inside you and some other influences of diversity that come from a liberal art school, and I think there’s something missing from the people who go to [an art school].
“The driving force of my career is making work where I’m the art director, I’m the stylist, I’m the photographer – where it’s totally independent and I’m controlling as many aspects as possible. [Commercial photography] is a very cooperative effort to meet in the middle… but when I do my own work, there are no rules. I just make the pictures that I’m passionate about, the pictures that I stay up at night, trying to conceive. And it’s that work that someone is not telling you to make that gets the work that people are paying you to make.”
“It’s nice to influence people, and I have certainly had a lot of influences, but at some point those that are influenced catch up, and you have to keep going.”
“We’re always trying to make a picture that beats out another photo in our portfolio. It sounds very competitive, and I guess it is, but the idea is that you’ve always got to be at your best and the work has to evolve. Time changes, tastes change, and your own tastes change. And you need to refine those.”