Red Bull gives you dreams
2012/10/28 | Posted By: fbison
Finally finding some time to update you guys and there’s a lot happening here!
Cape Town has been treating me really well so far. It is an absolutely beautiful place and it’s amazing how many great and interesting people I got to meet in this short time. There are already loads of shootings and projects lined up that want to be done in the next weeks and months and I almost don’t know where to start.
Besides all the commercial work I’m also looking into the documentation and illustration of some social projects in townships. And talking about townships there’s a little story about a sports event that I want share with you.
A friend and I went to a Red Bull Skate & Bike contest yesterday which was surprisingly moving and made me very humble. It wasn’t in the coolest downtown skate location as you would think but in small skate park in a township almost 40min outside of Cape Town.
First I wasn’t even sure if it is a good idea to bring my camera at all as safety is always a big issue. I can tell you I would have regreted it badly if I hadn’t brought. Yes, there have been quite a few good skaters and bikers in the competition but that wasn’t what caught me – it was the kids from the township that were watching them. You could literally see the fascination in their eyes and once the run was over they conquered the field and tried their own little tricks, fell, got up, tried again. It was so great to see how the sport makes them dream, gives them a goal to go for and (at least for a moment) lets them forget all the problems and chaos around them. Good Red Bull still focuses on the small things too and not just on breaking the sound barrier.
Here are some frames from the competition. Enjoy and drop by again soon for more Cape Town updates!
Have a great week!
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A story about photographing Annie Leibovitz
2012/08/10 | Posted By: fbison
It’s been a little quite here since I have been pretty busy the last weeks. I am just finishing the Making Of Video for a project we realized a few weeks ago and in the meantime I just wanted to drop in a quick post on the something that I stumbled on this morning.
© Robert Scoble
Annie Leibosvitz is one of the most acknowlegded photographers of our time. She has been working as the main photographer for the Rolling Stone Magazin for 8 years and receives almost as much fame as her subjects. There are stories being told about how she works and behaves behind the camera but little is known about how it is to work with her when she becomes the subject to photograph.
Abe Frajndlich photographed her for Allgemeine and he has a pretty interesting story to share about who Annie Leibovitz is in front of a camera.
Read the whole story:
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Annie Leibovitz jumped into the role of professional photographer as a kid in her second year at the San Francisco Art Institute. She was friends with Jan Wenner who was starting Rolling Stone, and he said, “How’d you like to take some pictures? We’ve got something set up with John Lennon in New York. Come with me.” Her portrait of John Lennon was on the first issue of Rolling Stone, and she was off and running.
You can’t avoid coming to terms with Annie. She’s a powerhouse, but she wasn’t easy to work with, and I’ve heard endless tales about her mistreatment of her assistants.
When I took these pictures, Annie was certainly not easy. We had called her studio to arrange a session, and she agreed to it. I was coming back from London and our appointment was a few hours after I got back. I had just landed when I got a call from her studio saying, “Can you come an hour earlier?”
My response was, “You know, I’ve been on a plane since dawn in London. I really need to go home and take a shower, just in courtesy to Ms. Leibovitz.” They said, “No, she needs to see you now.” But I went home anyway and arrived at her studio at the time that w’d arranged—not an hour earlier. She wasn’t pleased.
She knew my work because she had worked for the Allgemeine before I did and they were sending her weekly copies. Her first comment was, “I’m not going to do any of your crazy stuff for you.” I said, “Hey, that’s up to you. We’re supposed to do a story together. If you don’t want to do any stuff at all for me, that’s okay too.”
“What do you want from me?”
“Annie, you’re in the same business I’m in. I want from you exactly what you want from every one of your subjects—endless time, endless cooperation, and let’s make it fun. Because the magazine is doing a cover story about you. They’re giving you full space, and as you know, it’s one of the best magazines in the world. But if you don’t want to play the game—I’m out the door.”
“Okay,” she says. “I get it. Meet me tomorrow morning at my apartment, and you can shoot whatever you want. You’ll work around my schedule, and we’ll do this.”
I was a bit jet-lagged, but I arrived the next morning at her apartment at 7:00 am. The doorman told me that she wasn’t there. I waited for a bit more than an hour, and she finally arrived in a limousine, because her girlfriend Susan Sontag lived down in the Village and Annie’s apartment was at 107th and 5th Avenue. She showed me through her apartment, and it looked like some decorator had made up the place and nobody really lived there. “I’m not really interested in shooting here,” I told her. But the day before, I had gotten a tour of the studio, and it was far more interesting. I suggested we do some shooing on the roof of her studio building as the light was coming up.
She agreed. My two assistants and I started setting up lights and taking test shots at 4:30 in the morning. When she arrived an hour or so later she was in the foulest mood imaginable. We did a few Polaroids, and she wasn’t being cooperative, and at some point I turned to her and said, “Annie, I can’t do this without you.”
At that point she suddenly relaxed a bit and began to work with me. This was on a Friday, and we had agreed to two more days of shooting. On Saturday we agreed to meet at her place in Sagaponack out in the Hamptons where she and Susan had a house. We agreed to meet at 7:00. So I got up at 3:30 in the morning, met up with my two assistants, and drove out to her house. No Annie. At 8:00 there was no Annie. Finally she rolled up in her little sports car and apologized for being late. “Sorry, I was stopped by the cops. I was speeding.” But from that point on everything went well. We worked on the beach, we worked in the backyard of the house, and we went to lunch. She couldn’t have been more charming.
She was about to go to London to shoot Mick Jagger. But she agreed to give me one more day when she returned. I told her that for the last session I wanted to get a photograph that was taken from the vantage point of one of her subjects. “I know you photograph lots of celebritites. I want to photograph behind one of those people, set up my lights, and be looking past that person’s cheek or face at you, Annie, shooting them, surrounded by your four or five assistants.”
She replied: “I’m shooting Laurie Anderson in about eight or nine days. If it’s okay with Laurie, you can come in with your assistants.”
When she was in London, her studio called and said, “Laurie’s okayed it, so everything’s a go.” But then, the day before the shoot, while I was in the middle of a session with the violinist Midori, I got a call saying that, “Annie has decided that you can’t shoot with anything but a hand-held camera. No lights.”
In the meantime I had hired a stylist and created an entire body suit for Annie to wear, made up of her iconic images cut from one of her books. It was really Rococo and gorgeously done. The stylist worked on it for the whole period when Annie was shooting Mick in London.
When I arrived at the studio for the shoot, I showed her this thing and she resonded, “What, are you crazy? I’m not going to put that thing on. By the way, what do you need two assistants for? You’re only going to work with a hand-held camera. Get that second assistant out of my studio.”
It wasn’t exactly “Hello. How are you? Nice to see you again.” So I sent Franco away and worked for 45 minutes with Andy, taking shots of Laurie, Annie, and Annie’s assistants with my Widelux and the Leica. Once I was done, I said goodbye to her studio manager at the desk and left without distrubing her.
But by the time I got back to my studio, there were two phone messages on the machine, one from her assistant asking me to call Annie immediately, and one from Annie saying, “How dare you walk out on me without saying goodbye?”
I called the studio, and they told me that I couldn’t speak to Annie just then, but a few minutes later she called me back. “Annie,” I said. “Give me a fucking break. Two days ago I was in the middle of a shoot, and you called and changed the whole game plan. Laurie had okayed this. You threw out my assistant. What do you mean, I walked out on you? I said goodbye to your people behind the desk, but I wasn’t going to stop you in the middle of shooting.”
At some point she backed off. “Sorry, I’m a bit schizoid,” she said. “Well, at some point let’s go out for a drink or something.” “Okay,” she said, but I never called her for a drink, and she never called me, either.
In the end, the Allgemeine ran a big story with her picture on the cover and six pages inside. But she was hard work. I also took some pictures of myself in that suit she wouldn’t wear which are quite funny. My feeling about Annie is that she’s a man who just happens to be in a woman’s body. She’s about six feet two and she’s got hands that make mind look like baby hands. She’s got this macho approach to everything. But she is an amazing photographer, and the image of Yoko and the naked John Lennon wrapped around her dressed body is one of the truly remarkable portraits of the 20th century.—Abe Frajndlich
(via Feature Shoot)
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Shoot. Share. Socialize.
2012/04/20 | Posted By: fbison
When you browse the web you often come across rules that “lead” you the way to get your creative business running, no matter if you’re a graphic designer, musician, photographer or even any other kind of company. The most useful set of rules that I found til now is this one from Seattle based photographer Chase Jarvis. He breaks it down to 13 rules and every single one of them couldn’t be more clear. Helpful stuff, have a look.
I dont’t know if I ever really thought about sticking to a rule when I had to make a decision, I believe it was and still is more like following a gut instinct that guides me through all these life-changing crossroads (how poetic!). But still, looking back there are three things that I stick to all the time:
In other words “DO” whatever it is that you do. Talking about photography there is nothing more important than getting your hands on a camera. I realized that when I tried to get started as an assistant. At that time I thought that this would make me a photographer – assisting. It defenitely helps and you can leran a lot about light, gear, people (on the set and everyone alse involved in the production process), engage your network, etc. but you will never know how it is when you are standing behind the camera and the pressure is on you. So get yourself a camera, start shooting, play around with the settings, the light, keep the shutter running. Don’t worry about the gear. In the beginning I told myself all the time that I need this lens, that camera and that light modifier to capture the image that I had in mind. Bullshit, I just needed an apology. You don’t need a good photographers gear to take good pictures, you need his eyes.
Let’s say you followed rule one and you review the pictures you’ve taken everytime you start working on another project to figure out what to do better the next time you pick up the camera. Good step. I do it all the time just to get frustrated and decide that I suck. I have no clue why that happens but it keeps me moving.
What I think is even more important is showing your work to others and ask them what they think, like, dislike about it. If the only pair of eyes watching and criticizing your work are yours, the limit of your improvement is your horizon, your point of view and your knowledge about photography (or cooking, sewing, designing, blablabla..). If you show your portfolio to people with totally different (creative or less creative) backgrounds you will get totally new input and your learning curve and the quality of your work can get a big boost.
What I wanna say is that reviewing and getting your work reviewed is really important and a crucial step to improve your work.
I bet there are nicer words than “socialize” but it goes along pretty well with the other two. You could replace it with: Networking, Meeting people, Tell your story, Shout it out, Show off, Post it all on FB/twitter…,… ,…
There are thousands of doors out there which could give you the kick you need to get to the next level. All you need to do is convince the doorman to open it. So tell everyone what you’re up to, what your plans are, which projects you’re working on. They might have the contact you were looking for.
So Shoot, Sahre, Socialize it is. Since this sounds so compact and smooth and I was desperately looking for a name for my blog. BINGO, that’s its name.
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Again, this is how it worked and still works for me. If you discovered that it could work for you too, cool. If not, don’t get lost in other peoples smartass advices and rules. Make your own ones.