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Blog » Interviews

The Q & A with Tom Cocotos

Posted by Workbook on 06/25/2015 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineIllustrationInterviews


Collage artist Tom Cocotos recently got together with Peggy Roalf of Design Arts Daily to discuss his life in New York, unique style, impressive studio, and much more. Check out their interview and some examples of Tom's work.

Q: As you are originally from Leonia, New Jersey what are some of your favorite things about living and working in New York City?
A: The great city’s sensory overload is always exciting and energizing—it commands one to work hard. But the underrated or less-trademarked treasures with their quality unsurpassed are what sing our town: Dave’s Brisket House in Bed-Stuy, the New York Public Library’s picture collection, Pizza Supreme across from Penn Station, and the Writer’s Foundry MFA program at St. Joseph’s College. New York also houses an eclectic and frequently eccentric combination of humanity; I recently played a pickup volleyball game alongside a bird paleontologist, a musical director of the symphony, and a taxi driver—imagine those perspectives and teamwork all on a single court! Some of the things I still miss: the restaurant Florent, the unadorned, dilapidated, derelict High Line, Julian’s billiards on fourteenth, the St. Mark’s Cinema, and the Empire Roller Skating Center in Crown Heights.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between the art you create on paper versus on the computer?
A: I find a sketchbook is essential to keep the gears oiled. A pocket sketchbook makes it possible to vary scale, going from 4 x 6 inches, often drawn on the street or in transit and then translating that to ever larger scales, with some works in the studio reaching 12 x 8 feet. To work while traveling about in our mass transit is one of New York’s great luxuries; our amazing subway is among the best transit studios on earth. The system persuades an artist to always keep paper, pencil, glue stick, and magazine at the ready.
I keep many small sketchbooks, each devoted to a very specific subject: there are bee sketchbooks, books of portraits—for a while I was doing hundreds of studies of the wonderful NYC poet Marie Ponsot and Warhol Superstar Ultra Violet— and then a book full of machines focusing mainly on backhoes. Like many artists I’m probably obsessive, but steady practice requires some kind of excess. There are also larger books that house drawings, ideas, poems, and technical information about materials. My work nowadays involves many mediums, but somehow I can’t shake my affinity for the tactile quality of paper—its tear, scrape, and gouge.



Q: What do you like best about your workspace?
A: A set of moveable walls and of course, music—the great stimulator! In my workspace a pair of salvaged stereo speakers from a boombox hang and would be at the top of any workspace list. I bought the parts years ago for my first studio on West 12th Street, and their sound has followed me through to about twenty different locations. The system is combined with a tuner and woofer speaker, both found in the trash. It sounds great and will hook up to most any electronic device with a headphone jack.

Q: Do you think it needs improvement? If so, what would you change?
A: Many artists I have spoken to say their studios can use improvement, so that makes me think it is a perpetual quest and that the perfect workspace may be a fantasy. It seems to me that it’s important to try and get comfortable working wherever you are. But if pressed, because of the music, I’d opt for really good soundproofing!

Q: How do you organize an assignment before you start drawing? Do you make lists and thumbnails?
A: Different people classify fine art in different ways but for my practice the fine art develops its own rhythm and complexion over time and through repetition as a series. And while commissioned or illustrative work often depends on a series as well, it is essential for me to read over the material many times or study the ideas of others as soon as I get an assignment, so I have as much time as possible for that information to percolate in my head. Eventually when the time feels right I’ll start brainstorming through sketches.

Q: How do you know when the art is finished?
A: Whenever that which is now being added or changed begins to make the piece worse.

To read the rest of Peggy's interview with Tom Cocotos click HERE



“Spring Swing,” center and right:  “Dinosaur Gas” and “Salted Birds” both for National Geographic Children’s Books, art direction by Kathryn Robbins

(Read more)

Photographers' Community Table: The Conclusion

Posted by Workbook on 05/05/2015 — Filed under:  Community TableEventsFeaturesHeadlineInterviewsMarketing IntelligencePhotography

Photographers' Community TableChaotic,  evolving,  crazy, flighty, and interesting. These are just some of the adjectives used to describe the state of the business today.  Based on the conversation that took place at the first Photographers' Community Table, they are all pretty accurate. It is an exciting business but not one without its risks and rewards. Workbook was pleased to be included in the conversation and to help provide a sense of what the business is really like today. We hope to continue to do so in the months and years to come. To read the last installment go to: http://notesfromarepsjournal.com or http://blog.briteproductions.net.


Thank you again to all the photographers who took part in the conversation:http://www.lisaadamsphotography.com, http://www.paularesu.com, http://www.kevinarnoldphoto.com, http://www.stewartcohen.com, http://tycole.com, http://www.crismanphoto.com, http://vincentdixon.com, http://www.smontgomery.com, http://www.waltersmithphoto.com

Photographers' Community Table Part 2

Posted by Workbook on 04/23/2015 — Filed under:  Community TableEventsHeadlineInterviewsMarketing IntelligencePhotographyUncategorized
CommunityTable Photographers Roundtable

The over-arching theme of this second post is success. How do we define it? How do we obtain it and sustain it? When Lisa Adams was asked, "How will you define success in 2014?" she first answered with the obvious metric: how many new clients was she able to engage? This will tell her that her marketing is working and she has increased her billings. Every photographer there agreed; consistent marketing and promotion are key to creating new business. Thomas Chadwick says that when he gets up in the morning, “there is a running to-do list, most of which is about marketing these days." All were realistic enough to know, though it does not always provide a direct path to success, you have to take the long view. As Lisa also said, "That client or agency might be on the hot list for five years. One day the phone rings. Here we go. It can take a long time to pay off."

Woven throughout the conversation was, of course, the essential challenge of creating relevant, compelling, beautiful imagery, whether for a client or for a personal project. Each of these photographers has his/her own personal way of approaching that process which you can read more about in the full transcript at:http://notesfromarepsjournal.com and blog.briteproductions.net

Thank you once again to the participating photographers:Lisa Adams, Paul Aresu, Kevin Arnold, Thomas Chadwick, Stewart Cohen, Ty Cole, Chris Crisman, Vincent Dixon, Hunter Freeman, Scott Montgomery, and Walter Smith

Community Table Photographers Roundtable

Rob Grimm Food and Liquid Photography Interview

Posted by Workbook on 04/06/2015 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineInterviewsPhotography


Rob Grimm is a commercial food and liquid photographer with more than twenty-five years experience. With his RGG.EDU program, he's now sharing his vast knowledge to aspiring photographers through classes, workshops, and tutorials. Tonight, he'll be leading a discussion on finding your creative force and voice as a photographer at the Apple Store on 679 N. Michigan Ave. in Chicago. Recently, we had the chance to discuss his programs and pretty much all things related to food and liquid photography.

How did you get your start as a photographer, and why did you choose to focus specifically on food and drink photography? I have been taking pictures since I was 8-years-old at the side of my father who was a ceramics and photography teacher. Being a photographer was just part of my fabric from a young age. After college I apprenticed at a few studios in Chicago and eventually moved to St. Louis to work in a studio that shot a good amount of food and beverage work. So, by assisting in that studio, I just fell into food and beverage category and discovered that I had a true affinity for the work. The properties of liquids and glass have always held intrigue for me. And I am a bit of a foodie, so the two genres of photography are a natural for me.

When you opened your first studio in St. Louis, what kinds of clients were you looking for, and what would you have considered a “dream job”? I opened my first studio in 1999 in St. Louis. My clients at the time consisted of local ad agencies and design firms. Many of those agencies had national liquor accounts, which fit me very well. Yet a large portion of my work at the time centered upon product work and shooting for a lot of annual reports for various corporations. At the time, I wanted very much to be working more regularly on a national stage. So I was pushing hard to garner the attention of larger agencies outside of my market. As far as my dream job at the time, that is tough to remember. I know I really wanted larger-budget projects that would both showcase and challenge my skills. At the same time, I have always been more concerned with executing a project that truly hits the mark for my clients than searching for my dream project.

How long after that did you open your studio in Chicago? Did your target client base and your idea of a dream job change when you moved to Chicago? I opened my Chicago studio almost three years ago, some twenty years after being in St. Louis. By that point in my career I had been shooting for national and international brands for a long time. My idea of a dream job did not really change, but being in Chicago opened me up to a much larger client base.

What are the biggest differences between working in a secondary market like St. Louis and a primary market like Chicago? The differences are huge. First and foremost, Chicago has given me more credibility. Let me qualify this by saying that I am the same photographer with the same production methodology. Unfortunately, a bit of snobbery exists in the creative world with many people not believing (or choosing not to believe) that talent can exist in smaller markets. Having my studio in Chicago has caused agencies on both coasts, as well as Chicago, to take notice of what I am creating. There are luxuries a large market like Chicago affords over smaller markets. The availability of talented crew members, rental houses, props or any aspect related to production, are in abundance in Chicago. All of this leads to smooth and relaxed productions. At this point, I rarely shoot in St. Louis, and I would estimate that more than 90 percent of my work happens in the Chicago studio. Chicago really feels like home to me. It is where I started my career twenty-five years ago, so this has been a return to my roots. I love the city of Chicago.

What are the significant similarities? This is simple and easy; both cities contain talented and kind people who work very hard to help me create my imagery. The good old Midwestern values of people being considerate and hard-working is at the center of Chicago and St. Louis.



What are the most frustrating and most rewarding aspects of your career? I think the most frustrating aspect of the career is being triple bid on projects constantly. The constant nickel-and-dime approach, while being compared to lesser skilled photographers, can be maddening. But it is part of the game, so we live with it. The most rewarding aspect is simply that I get to do what I love everyday. It still amazes me that I make a living and support my family by doing exactly what I love and want to do. That might sound cliché, but it is really that simple.

How has the rise in CGI, especially with regard to liquid photography, affected your approach to new projects? The effect of CGI has mainly been the elimination of many projects for us. Many of the liquid images that exist are completely computer generated. However, we do work on occasion with a CGI artist and the recent Ciroc “New Years” image is the best example. Their talents are employed to enhance our images by adding elements which cannot be produced photographically.



Stylistically, what has been the most significant change over the past several years in what most of your clients look for? I think that clients are looking for images that, while they are complex in execution, appear to be relaxed and approachable. I work very hard to create the emotion of desire in my food and beverage work. For me it is critical the viewer wants to eat or drink what we are presenting. It’s about creating a craving that, in turn, sells the clients products. My clients are looking for me to spark desire, which will connect people to their products.

As far as equipment goes, what are your must-haves for any shoot? My Broncolor Para 88 is my go-to light modifier. I have great versatility in the quality of light that I can create using this single modifier. Most of my images are captured on a medium format Hasselblad camera. Like many photographers of my generation and skill level, the equipment does not matter so much. I feel like I can create a nice image with any piece of equipment you put in my hands.

What has been the most difficult food or drink to work with? Soft serve ice cream, by far. In my portfolio I have an image of soft serve ice cream flowing down in two swirls into a bowl. The client wanted the soft serve to be real and not an acrylic model as most photographers wanted to use. I was confident and crazy enough to assure them that I could figure it out. Working with the best food stylist in the business, Nir Adar, we spent two days testing methods to create and freeze a swirl that I could photograph. The image contains two swirling strands of soft serve that are real and allowed us to capture it’s entirety, front facing, rear facing and curved edges of the ice cream. The shot was a beast, but one that I am very proud of.

Which photographers inspire you? This is a long list, and I am more inspired by amazing images no matter who is he creator. When it comes to the roots of photography, Irving Penn, Edward Weston, Albert Watson, Gary Winogrand, and Richard Avedon are hugely inspirational. As far as contemporary photographers go, I would list Peter Coulson, Patrick Demarchelier, Jerry Uelsman, Nick Knight, and Art Streiber, who all blow me away. There are so many more that this is a wholly inadequate list.



When and why did you create RGG.EDU? RGG EDU was created last year with my business partner, Gary Martin. With both the advent of digital photography and self-guided education, the time that people put in as an apprentice to master this craft has all but died. And as a result, I think the business has suffered greatly. My experiences teaching, lecturing, and conducting workshops really showed me that there are serious shortcomings to the majority of photographic educational content available. So we have set out to make the most in-depth, organized and informative tutorials, created by actual working professionals, to educate future generations of the business. There is nothing I enjoy more than being a commercial photographer. I feel a personal responsibility to ensue the business continues to prosper and not be diminished by people who don’t know how to harness the power of today’s digital cameras or how to compose a striking image. At RGG EDU we want to give away all of our trade secrets to teach photographic skills on an unprecedented level.

How do you want your business to evolve in the next five to ten years? I think my enjoyment of the business will continue to grow as my clients continue to present me with challenging projects. My ego is fairly well in check, and I just want to make images that speak to my clients and to their audiences. Just keep a camera in my hands and I will be happy. I would like to see RGG EDU grow and reach an enormous amount of people. To date, we have had great response with students feeling they have gained a great deal from the information we have imparted. This is something I want to continue over the next decade as I find personal reward from this endeavor, along with a connection beyond the grave to my father, who was a most remarkable educator.

What do you want people to know about Robert Grimm that they might not know from looking at your pictures? Boy, how do I not wax poetic here? I think I want people to know that while I have worked very hard to create my images, I love the process of doing so. Taking pictures rewards me daily.





Car Photography Now: An Interview with Cynthia Held

Posted by Workbook on 04/02/2015 — Filed under:  Advertising CampaignsCGIHeadlineInterviewsPhotographyUncategorized
There have been numerous changes in the automotive advertising business over the last ten years. But lately, creative buyers in this segment of the market have grown  tired of slick, over-retouched CGI imagery. We spoke with Cynthia Held of Held & Associates for an update on where the car photography market is now.

What are automotive clients looking for now? How is the market the same, and how is it different from the past?

Within the last few years, automotive companies have diverged from the ultra-sleek, idealized, “picture-perfect” style that was once so popular. Most often a car was photographed a stark environment, over lit, and void of any reflections that occur in the natural world.

With the influence of social media and in-the-moment smartphone photography,  rends have evolved more towards rendering cars within realistic environments and emphasizing the lifestyle associated with the brand. The art direction has more of an editorial feel, which results in images that are far more relatable than what we have seen in the past.

What is it about your photographers' work that clients seem excited about?

Both Steffen Schrägle and Patrick Curtet have really pushed themselves to establish their brands within the contemporary car market. They both convey a similar feel but with their own approaches and sensibilities.

Patrick Curtet works in tandem with his wife Marlyne, who is a talented photographer and art director in her own right. Their special partnership goes back fourteen years, and they are now the premier creative duo. Patrick acts as the primary photographer and Marlyne as the partnering photographer, as well as creative contributor and facilitator. They invest a lot of time and effort collaborating with their team on all creative aspects of the production, which produces brilliant work that always goes beyond the client’s expectations.

Steffen Schragle is also very successful due in part to his use of natural light to enhance a location and the talent, as well as the physique of the automobile. Steffen is also a master at CGI and heightens the movement of the car and how it interacts within its environment. His landscape work is also exceptional and has great depth and sensibility. He has received seven awards from the International Photography/Lucie Awards this year alone. The impact and relevance of the images make them a favorite of clients who absolutely love the work, vision, and attitude.

I know that Patrick Curtet recently finished a big project with Cadillac. When is it due to be released?  How is the imagery to be used?

This was an extremely challenging and substantial shoot for Cadillac. It involved the rebranding of eleven car models, with several “code red” or unreleased models, and a tremendous amount of talent in luxury-lifestyle scenarios. The shoot came together very quickly and with only a few weeks of preparation.  Patrick had worked previously with the client, who again chose the Curtet Team to execute this creatively challenging, as well as physically challenging, project. It was a marathon shoot, with more than thirty-five long days, virtually without a break for the team. They pulled it off brilliantly, and the client and agency are thrilled. This imagery will be released later this year.

Advertising car photography was known to be well paying; how does it compare today?

Budgets are more challenging today than in years past. Contrary to general perception, automotive photography fees are not any higher than other projects; however, these shoots tend to involve more shoot days. It is a very competitive environment with few chosen shooters, so it is imperative to have a top producer and a cohesive crew to deliver the best possible work for the allowed budget. We estimate very precisely and work very hard to ensure we produce superb images at or under budget.

Do car companies require a treatment from the photographer? How much do they rely on the photographer for the “look” they want to project, or do they retain pretty tight creative control?

Although treatments are not required, we feel that it’s an important part of the bidding process. They’re virtually a blueprint for how the photographer will translate the creative’s or client’s vision. In addition, treatments reflect the photographer’s personality and passion for the project, which are all-important factors that clients take into consideration when awarding a job.

Patrick Curtet Red Cadillac

Patrick Curtet Cadillac

Patrick Curtet Red Cadillac

Steffen Schragle

Steffen Schragle

Steffen Schragle

The Art of the Faux Pas

Posted by Workbook on 03/18/2015 — Filed under:  IllustrationInterviews



Alexei Vella was hired by HOW magazine Art Director Adam Ladd,  to create an image for "Visual Faux Pas Explored,” an article about the moment we realize we've had a lapse in judgment, and we have somehow offended the norm with our design work.  We spoke with Adam about why he was drawn to Alexei's work and why it was a perfect fit for the project.

"Alexei's work is not only graphic, but his use of  bold and vibrating lines, as well as the added texture within the illustration, helps create a layer of tension within the image. Combined with his expressive character, it all adds up to an image that perfectly conveys the moment a serious faux pas has been discovered," says Ladd. We spoke to Richard Salzman, Alexei’s representative, who tells us that he likes to represent illustrators like Alexei who are thinkers, can tackle complex ideas, and also really draw. See more examples below.





Lisa Adams Interview with APA National: Beauty in the Seemingly Mundane

Posted by Workbook on 02/26/2015 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineInterviewsPhotography
Photographer Lisa Adams was recently interviewed by Nicole Weingartner for APA National and the article makes for excellent reading. We've included a few excerpts from the article and several examples of Lisa's food and drink work. Click HERE for the full article and check out her Workbook Portfolio too.



A Boopie glass of plump, chocolate pudding waits to be eaten on a flowing brown ribbon. A candy cane is made out of a layered cherry parfait. A timeworn shaving kit becomes a story of little trinkets and treasures. Don’t see it yet? You will.



Still life photographer Lisa Adams has a knack for transforming ordinary objects into ethereal pieces with lighting, mood, and composition. When we see mundane objects, she sees a lyrical image, where each item becomes part of a bigger story that incites our emotions—emotions of a lucid childhood memory, distaste, a craving for a food, or colors that stir a particular fascination.

How did you become a photographer? And how did you become interested in still life?

In college, I started taking classes in design and photography, which was a total deviation from my English literature and physics direction. I initially saw the design and photography as electives that might help boost my GPA. I didn’t really think much about it until one of my professors pulled me aside to compliment a recent project. I thanked her and commented, “It was easy.” That was when the light bulb went off...the realization that I might actually be good at this was the catalyst for what has now become a 28-year-long fascinating career.
My first assisting job was with a studio that had a lifestyle and still shooter. I worked with the tyrannical still shooter (he liked to throw things and expletives) but occasionally I assisted the lifestyle shooter and quickly learned that I had incredible patience when dealing with inert objects but not so much when it came to people. I really love that I have such control with stills and food. They stay where I put them, don’t talk back and never say no. Of course food can die or melt, but I can forgive that!



Exactly what do you want to say or portray through your photographs, and how do you actually get your photographs to do that? What’s your technique?

I’m most happy with my work when I feel like I’ve created a lyrical image, one that expresses emotion and evokes emotion. It’s all about revealing the subject matter in a beautiful way, through lighting and composition and creating a mood that’s reflective of the subject itself.
Hopefully, the image is telling a short story and inciting the imagination of the viewer. I’m usually shooting bright, airy, and graphic with a distinctive color palette or dark and moody with pops of color. I like mixing soft light with hard directional light. The hard light intensifies color and pulls out texture, plus it adds crisp bright highlights and deep shadows that create depth and dimension.
I shoot with SinarP2's outfitted with Multi-shot capable Hasselblad CF-39 backs. If necessary, I'll also shoot with a Hasselblad H3D-31. I've always shot large format; it’s definitely my preference. I love all of the control available with a 4x5. Am I starting to sound like a control freak?
Clients love the live video available with the Phocus software, they can see everything as it’s happening, and it’s a great collaborative tool. I still use Speedotron lighting. Those packs are like tanks!

Peter Grundy Interview

Posted by Workbook on 08/08/2014 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineIllustrationInterviews


Peter Grundy is an illustrator and designer who has specialized in information design for over thirty years. His latest book, a collaboration with author Simon Rogers, Infographics: Human Body, simplifies a variety of complex facts about the human body with Grundy's signature entertaining and informative info graphics. The book is available now.

Why did you decide to focus specifically on a career in information design?
I went to the Royal College of Art in London in the late 70s at a time of dynamic, creative energy; most students went into advertising or design groups to pursue brochure, packaging, and corporate identity.
This was a time pre-technology when the tools of an art director were simply good ideas and "balls."
I met Tilly Northedge at the RCA, and we became interested in a tired, overlooked area of design that was more about explaining things than selling things, and when we graduated, we set up a design studio to do this work in a more creative and imaginative way. The studio was Grundy & Northedge. We worked together for twenty-five years. When Tilly retired in 2006, I renamed the studio Grundini.

How would you describe your style?
The main component of my work isn’t style, it's ideas. The methods I use to visualize these ideas have evolved from the need to communicate simply.



Your work involves both simplifying complex subjects and making them visually appealing. Which aspect (simplifying the topic or making the image visually appealing) do you focus on first? Or does it depend on each individual project?
Simplification is complicated, when you take stuff away from an image you need different skills to retain interest and elegance. My skills are more typographic than illustrative.

How has your work evolved over the past several decades?
It's become simpler, which requires more confidence, and that comes with time. It also started without new technology and now uses new technology, but you wouldn’t notice the join.

What would be your ultimate iconography dream project?
I’ve always fancied being the artist in residence at NASA.



Your new book, Information Graphics: Human Body, tackles nearly every imaginable topic related to the human body, from the separate layers to diseases and reproduction. What inspired you take on such a broad and extensive subject?
It wasn’t a new idea; the human body has after-all been "booked" a thousand times. But the project interested me because I wanted a chance to simplify the body to an almost-ridiculous state and make it fun for the age group. In other words, you’ve got the books that look at the body in great detail, my book is a chance to look at it in as little detail as possible.

Do you have a personal favorite topic or page from the book? Which one?
The human heart (p x) was, I felt, a way of making the heart, which isn’t a pretty thing, visually something quite beautiful and descriptive. (See below.)



What was the most difficult topic to make both simple and attractive?
Guess that’s the toilet contents.

Are there any specific changes in your approach when creating infographics designed mainly for children rather than adults?
No.

Finally, what advice would you give for illustrators looking to pursue a career in information design?
When I was a student, a tutor told me that an information designer should never let his or her personality stand in front of the information. I thought, "to hell with that."





Below are a few of Peter's infographics from other recent projects.





Making a Photograph: An Interview with Jeff Kauck

Posted by Workbook on 07/15/2014 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineInterviewsPhotography


On July 16th photographer Jeff Kauck will present a lecture on the subject of inspiration at the Chicago Apple store on Michigan Avenue. It’s hard to believe someone can reinvent the wheel and make artists’ inspiration sound less cliché. But sit and chat with the man whose passion is to solve the equations of his art, and you find inspiration that can assist you far beyond photography.

How did you start your career in photography?

“I started as a watercolor painter. I had ten plus years of watercolor training. At the end of (art) school I knew all the concepts, but my hand couldn’t keep up with what I wanted to accomplish. That’s when I picked up a camera and turned to photography as the solution.”

How has your watercolor background influenced the way you approach photography?

“With me, when you start with explaining my photos, you first need a quick lesson in painting. With most oil painting, you paint from the mid-tones down, meaning highlights are added at the end. With watercolor you must paint from the mid-tones up, guarding the light areas you have because there is no white watercolor paint, that’s it. Most photography approaches light similar to oil painting. For me, light and highlights become priority.”



Jeff, July 16th also marks an announcement for your fine art photography. Where do you draw some of your inspiration from?

“Photography, like most things, presents its own set of unique problems because there are many things I want a photograph to do. I get so many ideas on how to conquer these problems, which rarely get tackled by commercial photography. Most of the time you create a portfolio and clients want exactly what they see, no deviations from the main path. Nothing may ever come from these images or test runs, but sometimes solutions become personal work. It’s like if the Rolling Stones tried to play something new. People don’t want to hear that, they want to hear the old songs they know and remember.”



What sorts of problems are you solving in your latest fine art?

“I’m interested in exploring the atmosphere between myself and the object. People might argue images are out of focus, but to me there is more clarity and emotion evoked in those images. To explore magnificence in light, something not usually appreciated in commercial work…light is everything to a painter: the color of light and the movement of light. I want to tell a story with my photos.”



Tell me about the subject of your latest fine art photography.

“My wife and I went to visit my brother in Atlanta, and he suggested we take a long weekend on Cumberland Island. We stayed at a B&B, and there I fell in love [with the island]. Cumberland is about the size of Manhattan and has three ecosystems interacting with each other. The project is in black and white and so far, it has taken four months (three visits) to shoot. We plan to return in December.”





Why black and white?

“I had just shot in Paris, where that magic light and surrounding love is a real thing.  I aimed to create impressionistic photography, and with that came color. I couldn’t capture it all in black and white.

“When it came to Cumberland Island, black and white made more sense. With B&W images you are immediately shifted to another place. Tonal photography serves as a gateway to take you to different places. It moves your emotions so much more.”

Part of what makes Jeff’s career so rich is the anecdotes he’s obtained from learning under the greats. No stranger to art school, he continues to make the world his university, taking workshops that in turn open doors to seeds of motivation and opportunities of a lifetime.

“Mary Whyte (watercolor painter) has a lot of workshops. What I always remember about her is she says don’t ask about the tool and technique, ask ‘why did you make that hand move that way? Why did you pick that color for that mood?’  For her, the value and the importance are the details in the image composition itself…what choices are made to achieve the highest emotional response.

“I took a workshop with Ansel Adams, a very nice man, who is passionate as the day is long. John Sexton, his last assistant, once came in to the workshop and said no one was working hard enough. Everyone began to complain they were in the darkroom from 9-5 every day. Sexton said, ‘Stay 9 a.m. to 9 a.m. the next morning in the darkroom and you will come in with the best print.’ From him I learned you have to go all the way through. It’s like what Arnold Newman (portrait photographer) once said, ’You’re making, not taking, a photograph.’

“I wanted to pursue a particular look for the Cumberland photos. I attended a workshop by George DeWolfe, an early student of Ansel Adams, and afterwards asked him to mentor my project, which he has ever since. He has a skill to get the edges to lift. Being his pupil is not easy. One time I had worked tirelessly over fifty images I then sent to him, all of which he rejected, saying the highlights were all off by one to two percent.”



How has your artistry matured?

“I believe in moving artistry. If you stick to something long enough you get to a point where you can make, in my case, the images do what you want them to do. You already have mastered the tools you have to achieve the photos you want. You are always striving for the fundamentals, but true skill comes from the content of a picture.

“To me making a powerful picture makes the viewer stop in his or her tracks. You cannot accomplish that with just technique, you have to do that with content. “



Walking away from this interview, can you leave our readers with some snippet of the inspiration to come on July 16th?

“Before you make a picture, sketch it out, even if it is a stick man. Don’t take the shot until sketched and [you have] thought every detail through. It is critical to slow down; the photographic process [is] in slow motion. Photographer Robert Frank took over 20,000 shots in one and a half years and walked away with only eighty-seven images. Really think and make your picture. You’ll know you’ve succeeded if it comes out the way you see it in your head.”



To visit Jeff's portfolio, click here.

Jeff is repped by Emily Inman Aritsts' Rep.

Workbook 36 Cover Interview with David Krovblit

Posted by Workbook on 04/29/2014 — Filed under:  FeaturesHeadlineInterviewsPhotography
Workbook 36 sourcebooks were just released and sent out around the globe. We recently had a chat with the man behind the Photography book cover, David Krovblit.


First off, let’s just get this out of the way, how do you pronounce your last name?


Krov - blit, the O is long. The Kro is pronounced crow. The V and B together, that's what really throws people. I jokingly say that I cannot pronounce my own name before about 10 am. But it’s kinda true. ;)



Your cover photo seems largely inspired by the many fashion shoots of famous pregnant women. When did you first get the idea for your version, and was there a specific shoot or celebrity that particularly inspired this photo?


This photo was inspired by the Annie Lebovitz’s Demi Moore shoot for Vanity Fair. The shoot itself was created for a new beer being launched. The ad line was “Expecting Soon.”



Was this image for a personal project or a client?


The client was Hops City.



Much of your image’s hilarity comes from the model’s,  errr, "curves." How did you find this guy, and is he related to Santa Claus?


Funny you should ask. I had recently shot my Christmas mail campaign, and I found Richard through a friend. He posed as Santa for me. So when the agency came to me with this project, I was like, “I got the perfect guy for this!"



One aspect of the image that stands out along with its poignant satire, is its relative simplicity: a big guy and a gray background. Do you prefer simple shoots that require relatively little setup or more expansive projects involving CGI and/or larger scale production sets?


I really love shooting people. I do a lot of big set production with lots of people and things going on. But, I also love being in the studio with one person and a camera. That said, conceptual, quirky images are what I'm really into.



The humor and satire seen in your cover photo is prevalent in much of your other work as well. Did you make a conscious decision to focus on this type of photography, or did it happen naturally?


I guess that is just me. I love humour. I think it is the quickest way into someone’s heart or mind. I also love that “ah ha” moment: you know, the moment when you see the picture within the picture and you have a new love and interest of the image.



How do you come up with the ideas for these types of series?


The ideas come from all over: movies, a book, walking down the street. But a lot of the time, it's just me and my buddies hanging around and talking smack when the ideas come to me.



Do you prefer personal projects or professional assignments? Over your career, what has been your favorite shoot for each, personal and professional?


I love to shoot professionally and prefer it. Each time I come up to bat, I see the opportunity to not only create great ads, but to make them something special to look at. My favorite pro shoot has to be for Ballistik Hackey - Goalie skin rug. I had the opportunity to build the most amazing set with all the bells and whistles that made it an award-winning piece. The personal project that comes to mind is a medical anatomy book I created that is called Krovblit Living Anatomy. It is a look through the many layers of the human body and soul.



You have a substantial amount of experience in motion as well as still work. How does your mentality and shooting process change when working on a motion project?


Really, it is a natural extension of what I already do. I am used to working on large-scale stills projects, which encompass many of the same characteristics as directing a video. For example, when I shot BudCamp for Budweiser, we had over 100 extras on set and shot over three days on a sound stage. There I was, fifteen feet above the crowd with a megaphone



What is your dream project? (motion or still, working with anybody, anywhere, anytime...sky’s the limit)


Right now my dream project is to direct a film inspired by one of my favorite authors, Roald Dahl.



Lastly, what advice would you give to fellow photographers looking to combine strong imagery with a sense of humour?
10,000 hours. It's just true. Whatever you want to do, and do well, will take at least this amount of time. Don’t be lazy. Chase your ideas and make them happen. It's the only way to get to the really great stuff, professionally and personally.
















Virgin Gaming from Dave Krovblit on Vimeo.

T-fal Steam Signals from Dave Krovblit on Vimeo.
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